reverse threading

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“tired.” [merely-a-thought monday]

tired

bone-weary.

we just read/watched the new york times interactive article from may 24 called ‘an incalculable loss’.  tiny people on the screen of our laptop, nearly 100,000 lives were represented – deaths from march 8.  the visual is mind-boggling, staggering really.

100,000

bone-weary.

we paused at every descriptor on the screen for people who had died.  a man who loved to wear suspenders.  a woman who always smiled.  a composer.  a mother of six boys.  every one of them with lives and circles – concentric circles reaching out and out and out.

one hundred thousand

bone-weary.

of the excuses, the justifications.  the inadequacy.  the gross miscalculations.  the ignorance.  the comparisons to the flu, car accidents, natural attrition.  the opening-up push-for-the-purposes-of-an-election despite the fact that whole-cities-numbers of people (PEOPLE) are dying in short order.

a city of 100,000

bone-weary.  of the division, the based-on-nothing arguments, the dangerous political game-playing, the i-don’t-wanna-wear-a-mask-so-i-won’t whining, the inability of those “in charge” to focus, the heinous lack of regard for truth, the gross name-calling, disrespect and distraction from the president’s mouth, the dogged inaction of that same office to quell the spread, to actually even the playing ground for all and address the real issues, the zealousness of those who have his nationalistic vision in their rose-colored glasses of divisiveness, of inequity, of apathy.

goodmornings and goodnights

bone-weary.

these are lives.  people who never expected in march to not be here on memorial day to recognize and honor the fallen, those who actually have protected us.  oh, you say from-the-‘other-side’, that’s everyone – no one has any guarantees on life, you argue.  ahh.  but we can expect that we live in a place that has our best interests at heart.  that we live in a country that will do all that it can, with all of its armor of knowledge and research and its vast fortunes, to protect us all – every one of us – from something like this – a mere global pandemic.

i write to both My Girl and My Boy every night to say good night.  i have since the day they left for college.  that’s about 4,380 times for my daughter and 3,285 times for my son. i’m quite certain that they have rolled their eyes multiple times along the way.  but the idea that these 100,000 people no longer have the option of loving their child – or anyone they care about – with a nightly goodnight wish stuns and breaks my heart.  this could have been different.

100,000

bone-weary.

we passed the park down by the beach yesterday.  we passed by the marina.  we passed the irish pub.  we passed by the bar with wide open doors, people spilling out onto sidewalk seating.  we counted four masks.  in all those people, all those crowds, all that bustling humanity – up-close-and-personal-no-social-distancing – only four masks.  this is one of the very towns – kenosha, wisconsin – used as an example of a whole city wiped out to illustrate the number 100,000.  it makes me tired.

bone-weary.

“you keep thinking people are going to wake up, but they never do,” said a friend yesterday.

bone-weary.

tired and disheartened.  alive, wide-awake and pissed.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

read NY Times article AN INCALCULABLE LOSS

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the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… [flawed wednesday]

whole truth man

i was 18 and on long island the first time i was called for jury duty.  back then, reporting was for two weeks so i drove out to riverhead each day for ten days.  it was serious stuff and i, in my innocence, listened carefully to every detail during jury selection and, later, during the case to which i was assigned.  i was intimidated by the presence of the judge, law enforcement, court bailiffs, attorneys, these people who had dedicated their lives to justice, to maintain rule of law and abide by due process of such, while providing for equal protection, seeking social order.  “courts:  they exist so the equality of individuals and the government is reality rather than empty rhetoric.” (NACM)  i researched my responsibility.  i was respectful of every instruction i was given, and believed that the process was based on constitutional rights and values and that truth would prevail. “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

less than ten years later i was the victim-witness counselor at the state attorney’s office in one of the judicial circuits in florida.  i worked with local law enforcement, the FBI, attorneys, social workers, court bailiffs, judges, all dedicated to the due process of those who had been accused of crimes and those who were victims of crimes.  my position was working with victims of violent crimes or surviving family members of those victims. heinous acts committed upon others, i was intimidated by the presence of cold, calculating types sitting across the deposition table from me, wishing, at times, that i could put a paper bag over my head to avoid identification at a later date.  it was bracing and disheartening, a dark look into what people are really capable of, twisted, distorted minds culminating, often, in the death of an innocent person.  my first case was one of the saddest, though i shudder thinking of many of them, wondering if they are truly rank-able.  the young woman worked at a quick stop gas station/convenience store, her shift the wee hours of the night.  the two men who kidnapped her had planned for a long time to dig an underworld and keep her and other women there.  their efforts were stymied as they began to dig and discovered that sand kept filling the hole, so they assaulted her and murdered her.  one of my very first days: welcome to the state attorney’s office.  each case that was presented was treated with respect and complete attention to detail; the truth was the ultimate goal, for justice, for the memory of the victim, for the victim’s family, for proper sentencing and/or rehabilitation.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

thirty years later i watch as the wisconsin court system, that which is supposed to be non-partisan, apolitical, a fair arbiter of the law, has deemed the governor’s safer-at-home order during a global pandemic unconstitutional and has thus thwarted the ability of the governor to protect the populace.  “courts:  they exist so the equality of individuals and the government is reality rather than empty rhetoric.” (NACM)  hmmm.  yet, instead, leaning heavily on the right side of the political seesaw of a supposed-apolitical supreme court, the justices declared the state ‘open’ and triumphantly, though virtually, just as during their vote, raised their glasses of celebration in every wisconsin bar about five minutes after their declaration.  the truth?  wisconsin’s coronavirus numbers had not ceased climbing; there was not enough testing nor contact tracing as per the federal government’s previously-stated guidelines, which, at the time, were stated as the truth.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

meanwhile, the administration’s truth-seesaw has become the stuff of amusement parks and circuses – long roller coasters of thwacking metal cars on tracks, criss-crossing and reversing direction, houses of mirrors, convoluted stories and warped sideshows.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…” would present some challenges in this case – were truth to be told.

the truth flies by the hand of the self-served.  the truth is misrepresented in more artistic mediums than the best fine arts university could offer.  falsehoods are reported on, written about, gushed over.  and people i care about and love believe them.  danger lurks in the darkness of this truth-void; the deposition table will later provide bags to cover all the heads.  made-up stories as adults with impact on a country are not merely child’s play.  this seesaw of truth is about life; it’s about living.  it’s to uphold this: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” (the preamble of the u.s. constitution)

we passed a house flying an american flag.  under the american flag was another flag.  it said:  “trump 2020.  stop the bullsh*t.”

wow.  now that’s calling the kettle black!

stop the bullsh*t???  i should SAY so.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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relics. [two artists tuesday]

stop sign quarter

we stopped there every time we rode our bikes past on the way to the beach or the harbor.  north shore outdoor recreation center & school of skindiving was a shop downtown east northport, a couple blocks from the railroad tracks and across the street from the old auto parts store.  our high school biology teacher jim owned it and we’d stop in and visit, looking around at gear and flirting with the just-slightly-older-than-us-guys who worked there.

when i was 17 i started working there after school and on weekends.  i’d do office work, the newsletter, and sell scuba, archery and other outdoor-related sporting equipment.  the fill tank, a pool of water in which oxygen tanks are immersed in order to fill them for use while diving, was just outside the office and i can’t tell you how many times i ended up sitting in it.  until i got smart and carried extra clothes to work with me in the car,  i had to drive home to change, sopping wet and glorying in it.   i was the only girl there and these boys were brutal teasers.

the basement of the shop was formidable, dungeon-like; at the top of the stairs were a sliding chain lock and the light switch.  the gestetner machine (a copy machine that invariably spewed purple stuff all over you during use) was in that basement which meant i spent some good time down there wrangling this obstinate office contraption.  from way down in the depths of this concrete cavern, i could hear the chain sliding and the click of the light switch, leaving me in the dark to feel my way back up the steps and stand at the door, pounding to be released from yet another prank.  yes, brutal stuff.

crunch was in charge which left jimmy and ollie and i under his thumb.  much more a rule-follower, crunch was a task-master and was the one who turned down the blasting stereo of ‘heart’ singing ‘barracuda’ in the workroom.  he wagged his fingers at us to sweep or organize regulators, but he was right-in-there, shortchanging me with the growing-boy deli orders they sent me on, leaving notes on my little vw about town-noon-whistle-blowing-timeliness, not setting me free from the front sidewalk window when i, during christmas-eve-day last-minute-shopping-hours, dressed as an elf and, coerced to fix something in our christmas display, was locked in, forcing me to grin and bear it and stand with plastic-santa, waving at people walking by and the crowd that gathered at the auto parts store.  but we all did good work together, the dives were organized, people had the right gear and the shop was a place customers loved to come and linger in.

an older italian couple lived above the shop and luigi was not as loud as his wife.  without the benefit of air conditioning, the windows and lack of thick insulation in the walls made it easy for us to hear her rapid-fire italian admonishments of her husband, always punctuated by a shrill “luigi!”  in our first-hand innocence of marriage-challenges we’d voice, “poor luigi.”  i don’t think i ever knew his wife’s name.  i wonder about their lives.  where did they go?  their rows weren’t nearly as loud as ‘barracuda’ or the sounds of boisterous laughter coming from the back storage/workroom of the shop.  they were simply a part of the story, a part of the history of that place, a sound-artifact i can still hear.

during one of his college classes, crunch, who ended up one of my very best friends, for a psych class project, decided to glue a a few coins onto the sidewalk out front and hide in the tent displayed in the front window, capturing passersby reactions to money-for-free.  they always went for the quarter and it was predictable how earnestly they would try to pry this off this sidewalk, invariably stopping to rub at their fingertips, digging in backpacks or purses for pens or keys to pry with.  nevertheless, the superglue held and the coins remained on the sidewalk for a long time to come.  i don’t know when they finally disappeared.

for those of us who actually think coins count as money, it’s natural to stop and pick up coins when you see them, the whole find-a-penny-pick-it-up-thing.  the little jar at home fills up and is, surprisingly, a good sum of money when it’s up to the tippy-top.  so when we passed the two pennies in the UPS parking lot, david bent down to pick them up.  one heads-up, one tails-up.  i immediately yelled, “no!  don’t touch them!”  it was the very beginning of the pandemic and touching ANYthing without sanitizer nearby was a formidable act.  it was too late; david had picked them up.  so he brought them over to the sidewalk by the UPS store and laid them on the window ledge.  i wonder if they are still there.

the quarter was on the trail when we were hiking last week.  it made me stop; it’s a quarter, after all!  i looked at david, pondered, then shrugged, and, against every reflex, left it there and hiked on.  the not-picking-up-free-money-guilt set in but not enough to break the don’t-touch-it-pandemic-rule.  i wonder if it is still there.

in this time of so-much-change and the use of so-much-technology, i find myself thinking of those times, over four decades ago now, when things seemed simpler.  coins counted, ink-laden-copy-machines slowed us down.  i think about the relics that were left behind.

and i wonder, forty years from now, when i am 101, what will those relics from this time, this time of pandemic sweeping our world, look like?  what will they be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“the only one wearing a mask” [merely-a-thought monday]

the only one wearing a mask

CONFUSED.  CONFUSING.  CONFUSION.

all apply.

we don’t go into any store without a mask on.  the way we understand this – is that this is essential.  in an effort to curb the spread of this pandemic, protect others and do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ we need to follow simple protocol.

at the risk of redundancy, which i have been accused of before, we have been appalled at the lack of people wearing masks.  it’s not like you are being asked to undergo a colonoscopy before entering the grocery store (or worse yet, the prep for one); it is a simple request:  wear a mask.  yet, there we are, in the store and we can feel the now-familiar tightness-in-our-chest-anxiety rising as we attempt to move away from people who seem to care little about distancing or breathing their aerosols our way.  what-on-earth-is-so-hard-about-this??

david went to a small grocery the other day.  he had his mask and he had brought disinfecting wipes with him.  neither of these were burdensome to him.  he walked into a somewhat crowded store and found that he was the only one wearing a mask.  what?!

wwmrd? (what would mr. rogers do?):  be a good neighbor.  (i’m betting he’d wear a mask.)

we live in wisconsin so it would seem prudent to look up what the department of health services has to say about this:

When should I wear a cloth face cover?

  • You should wear a cloth face cover when you are outside the home conducting essential activities such as going to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, banking and enjoying outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing.

Wearing a cloth face cover may be beneficial as it may help to protect others from germs you may be spreading without knowing it.  (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/protect.htm)

that seems relatively clear.  embracing redundancy once again:  “you should wear a cloth face cover when you are outside the home conducting essential activities such as going to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, banking and enjoying outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing.”

down the street the state of illinois is requiring face masks.  ahhh, you say with a cavalier smirk unhidden by a face mask.  that state has a democratic governor, you point out as you enumerate the many ways that the government is taking over your personal life by issuing coronavirus guidelines.  i’m not a biologist or an epidemiologist but i suspect that this pandemic is not stopping to discern the difference between democrats and republicans.  and a face mask, worn by you or the people you encounter in a day, just might protect you, your family members, your friends, your colleagues, the people-who-you-don’t-know-at-the-grocery-store-but-who-count-anyway.

so why are the vast majority of people not wearing masks? why are so many folks not social distancing?  why are people announcing vacations on facebook?  vacations?  are we even encouraged to do that right now?  (because who wouldn’t love to go merrily on a vacation for a while?)  one sweet person, who lives in another state, replying to a text of mine that bemoaned missing my children asked me if we were on “house arrest”.   everything is confusing.

one of the funniest, albeit a tad off-color, clarifications of the what-would-mr-rogers-do approach i read said:  “having some states locked down and some states not locked down is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.”  no exponential brainpower needed there.  i would think that swimming-pool-water-rule applies to most all the guidelines.  seems pretty clear to me.

i guess i’m just saying i don’t understand.  this is a global pandemic.  despite a plethora of conspiracy theories distorting reality, there is medicine and there is science.  i, for one, would rather place my trust in the people immersed in those than in self-aggrandizing politicians or propaganda-pushers, each ignoring medical science in their own creative ways.  there is a difference.  “america strong” reads the flag we pass on 7th avenue.  strength and resilience are found in unity, not division, in working together, not apart, in being neighborly.

as the country begins to prematurely open up and disregard the CDC’s guidelines as “overly restrictive” we will likely download that multi-page guide.  we would like to see more specifically how we can do our part .  thinking they might actually protect us, we want to see the ‘overly restrictive’ restrictions.  we want to participate in a responsible way.  we will follow these guidelines as best we can.  we will social distance.  we will cough into our elbow.  we will not gather.  we will not pee in the pool.

and we will freaking wear masks, even if we are the only ones.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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contrail pondering. [two artists tuesday]

contrail

on island we rarely heard airplanes overhead.  if we did, they were small cessnas and pipers, low-wing and high-wing single engine airplanes, buzzing over the shoreline heading for the small grass strip airport.  otherwise, it was quiet. very.

lately, here, we have noticed that it is quieter than normal.  we are in what is generally an approach for the milwaukee airport and we often see airplanes overhead heading north or airplanes coming across the lake in line for o’hare, south of us.  it seems more of a rarity now to hear a jet overhead.  it makes us pay attention.  it makes us look up.  it makes us ponder.

we wonder where it is coming from, where its final destination.  we wonder how many passengers are on board.  in these times of no-travel, the contrail seems a contradiction of this time, a plane leaving its mark on the day.

in my previous life i had some time at the controls of both small airplanes and helicopters.  the jargon was language i was accustomed to.  there are languages of career.  we all have them, words, expressions, theories specific to our chosen work; we learn our spouse’s language, even just enough to understand just enough.

i’m better at the controls than in the passenger seat of a small airplane; motion sickness rules less if you are ‘driving’.  i never got near the point of solo-ing on any flying machine.  there was much to learn in ground school and hours rented on an airplane or a helicopter were expensive for an already-stretched budget.  but, stick in hand, flying a helicopter over the woods of new hampshire while employed at an aviation college there, brilliant new england fall colors beneath us, i could see how the flying-bug could bite.

and now it is quiet.  a few moments ago, while writing this, a jet flew overhead.  i stopped typing to pay attention and looked out the window.  i wondered:  where is that plane going?  who is on that plane?  do they feel safe?  are they wearing masks?  did they turn their blower off?  are they sitting six feet apart?

and i pondered:  what state might that plane be flying here from?  what are the covid-19-numbers in that state?  are people staying safe-at-home?  are there protests in that state, people who are placing everyone in their ever-widening concentric circles at risk for contagion?  are there people who are laissez-faire-individualizing this global-everyone-is-affected-pandemic, rejecting commonsense social distancing and simple respectful preventative measures? are there people making homemade masks, like here, because there isn’t enough PPE to go around?  are they wondering why the federal government of fifty states and five territories is hostage-taking necessary supplies, pitting governors against each other, encouraging a competition for lifesaving devices, blaspheming good works, eliminating knowledgeable workers, warping what is important vs not important, encouraging bracing and dangerous practices?  are they shocked and dismayed at the ever-widening inequity, the gross partisanship?  are they stunned into disbelief at the absolute lack of sane and measured leadership?  are they embarrassed and profoundly saddened?

and i wondered:  when will we go on an airplane next?  where will we go? when will we feel safe?  will everyone wear a mask?  will everyone sit six feet apart?

and i thought, as we are apt to do after-the-fact:  i should have gotten my pilot’s license.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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sunglasses and gunfire. [two artists tuesday]

Sunglasses

we took a hike on easter sunday afternoon.   it was just warm enough to shed my coat in the woods; spring hiking is better without the shush-shushing sound of a down coat while you walk.

we went to our bristol woods, masks in pockets as we jumped out of big red, eager to get into the trees, onto the paths that have soothed us.  there were a few people there; most of them abided by the six-feet-apart rule, although admittedly, there were a few who caused us to roll our eyes in an astonished unspoken question wondering if they lived in a cave somewhere and had no idea that there was a global pandemic.

the familiar paths did their job. we quietly noticed green sprigs springing up between the leaves, a tonal green as you looked off-path from budding underbrush.  here and there forest daffodils at the brink of opening to the world; here and there small white flowers nestled between fallen logs.

the soundtrack of the woods was awakening to spring – orioles’ songs, chipmunks scampering, birds we couldn’t see high in the trees singing arias to the sky, the sound of our feet on the trail.

the gunfire in the background was unwelcome in this reverie of renewal, of spring-really-on-its-way, of escape-from-thoughts-of-covid-19.  it was an automatic, a gun designed to kill, single shots punctuated by the rapidfire of a clip.  it is always unnerving; yesterday it was particularly so.  it seemed mindless to me, paying no homage to these very times, these very days.

in the middle of thousands of people who are desperately trying to save over half a million others’ lives in this country alone, thousands of people who are extending helping hands to countless others, thousands of people who are dedicating resources to feed, mask, shelter thousands of others, thousands of people who are reeling from a loss of life, of job, of any security, of any sense of normal, thousands of people who are frightened to their core that they might be the next to succumb to this pervasive illness, the next to struggle to breathe, i couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out any good reason to be shooting an automatic weapon.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the feathers as clues. [two artists tuesday]

perspective copy

i didn’t mean to take this picture.  somehow my phone camera snapped it and i was unaware.  later, when i looked at my photo stream of the day i was surprised to see this.  it took a few minutes to figure out what the picture was of, the way you feel when you look at an ink-blot picture, your eyes focusing on the dark, the light, the foreground, the background, searching-searching for an image to emerge.

i always had trouble with those.  i must have been concentrating too hard to find something there.  i suppose relaxing into it would have produced an image sooner.

the feathers gave it away.  the feathers made it recognizable.  a piece of familiar, the feathers gave it perspective.  the dream-catcher hangs on the switch of the lamp on our kitchen table so it wasn’t as hard as the inkblots after all.

i wonder how many times i have not recognized the ‘real’ image.  how many times i have given little attention to the everyday, glossing over it.  how many times i have passed by light, my eyes focusing on the dark, my attention to the background instead of the inkblot or vice versa, trying too hard to find ‘it’.  passing by the familiar, looking to the distance.  or staring at the familiar with no eye to the distance, the horizon out-there attention-less.  what might i have missed?  what more might i have seen?

i am finding comfort in the familiar right now.  i am recognizing more-and-more that which is basic is that which is familiar is that which is comforting.  like chicken soup and pasta sauce, i find basic and simple consoling, the familiar i see heartening.

might we have different eyes post-this-crisis?  might we all hold simple closer?  might we ford the great-chasms-of-divide in this country with horizontal -not vertical- ladders of understanding like the ladders that traverse deep crevasses in high mountain climbs?  might we be more willing to see economic, educational, opportunity differences?  might we truly address them?  might we see the landscape-that-has-always-been-there differently?  might we realize that which is comforting, familiar to us is the inkblot that so many cannot even begin to see, that so many cannot even imagine?  might we believe that every one is worthy?  might we see universal needs, universal struggles in a more united, focused-energies way?  might we come together, support different perspectives, talk about what is essential, strive for something different?

our universe camera is snapping pictures left and right of this pandemic crisis.  what will we see when we look through the photo stream?  what we will recognize about ourselves, this country?  will we embrace an image of care, of concern, of responsibility for each other, of unity, of equality?  or will we remain blind to the obvious differences we experience as this divisible ‘indivisible one-nation-under-God’ and will the dark inkblot prevail over the light?  we can look for the feathers as clues.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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