reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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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assumptions. [d.r. thursday]

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the sun lights our room early in the morning.  we don’t have room-darkening shades so   if artificial measures haven’t been used (read: obnoxious alarm clocks) we wake with the light.

thoughts stream in with the light in this just-past-the-dark-hour.  our quiet as we sip coffee, like jiffy-pop starting to pop on a hot stovetop, is punctuated by bits of conversation.  the dreams we are climbing out of, the babycat’s snoring through the night, dogdog’s sweet need for early pets, what the weather looks like out our window peering into the backyard, projects we are working on, what is on the docket for the day.  ideas, reminiscences patter through.  we stretch into the day yawning in front of us, putting on, and trying to keep on, caps of making-good-assumptions.  today is a good day to have a good day, as the saying goes.

good assumptions.  apparently, they are a high ticket item.  for we all are, in the world, surrounded by those who do not make good assumptions.  my sweet momma would tell me, “don’t jump to conclusions.”  “ask questions,” she would admonish. a difficult lesson worth oft-repeating.

we would sit on the couch at the end of the day, sipping tea and eating chips ahoy cookies.  we’d talk about the day, bitter jabs by classmates or exclusionary moments i had endured.  “try to find something good,” she’d remind me, while at the same time not underplaying the hurtful behaviors.  “make good assumptions.”  this is the same woman who, on the emergency room table in the wee hours of the night, in great pain and fearing a broken hip, looked up at a cranky and tired nurse and remarked, “you have a beautiful smile.”  it changed the moment; i suspect it changed the rest of the nurse’s day; perhaps it changed all those who she interacted with thereafter and so forth.  those undeniable concentric circles.

in early days with david, clearly in the beaky-beaky school of thought, one of the most-oft-repeated things i remember him saying is “ask questions.”  don’t assume you know.  don’t assume anything.  ask.  listen.

quite some time ago, mike stated, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  watch, ask questions and listen, he advised.  don’t make assumptions.  the best way to learn, the best way to collaborate, the best way to approach challenge, the best way to move in the world.

momma would smile and look at me, facing down adversity or standing tall on a personal summit, and say, “wowee!”

i can practically hear her now, her eyes dancing, saying, “see?  if you ARE going to assume anything, assume awe.”

thank you, chicken marsala, for the reminder.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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frosting and connection.

network connections

cupcakes.

and frosting.

i would talk to my piano students about practicing.  i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting.   i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’.  i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat.  we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats.  and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:

let’s say you have a small cup of frosting.   delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting.  it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby.  and you have a choice.  you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven.  which will you do?

my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake.  otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all.   and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting.  who can argue with that?

contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano.  “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language).   invariably they would frost one cupcake.

i believe the same applies to connection.  with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections.  we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships.  we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us.  we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.

we are not connected to a network.  we are connected to a network.  both of these are true.

the question for me, one that i must look at as well,  is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about?  is there any frosting at all?

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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waiting. and waiting. [k.s. friday]

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on an unusual foray into facebook-scrolling, i came across a post by a friend that quoted tom petty.  “the waiting is the hardest part,” it read.  yes.  the hardest part.

i remember d telling me that arnie’s mom had an addition to the adage that when one door closes, another one will surely open.  she said, “it’s the waiting in the hall that’s hell.”

i feel like i am waiting.  just like this sunrise, there is a division of light and dark – a line you can see.  the hall.  it’s not still dark.  it’s not quite light.  it’s the in-between zone of co-existence.

i suppose we can co-exist with waiting.  we can co-exist with not-knowing.  not-knowing about tomorrow.  not-knowing where it goes.  not-knowing what will happen.  not-knowing if dark will linger or if light will overtake the dark.  not-knowing how the story turns out.

questions on the keys.  answers somewhere in-between the notes.  quarter tones of ambiguity.  i stand an arm’s length from creating.  i wait.  there is no sign, there is no clear indicator of any return-on-my-creative-investment.  the hall doesn’t provide a reason to write.  it is not a door.  it is full of question.  it is a gathering storm of hope.  it is a waiting place.

the hall is just for me.  jumbled and clear, both.  a stew of hearing all the old notes floating – thousands of them – and seeking the new ones.  lyric snatches appear on scraps of paper, waiting.  melodic gestures fall from my hands as yearning to keep-on-keeping-on falls from my eyes.

i’m trying to be patient in it.  to reconcile all the other mysteries and issues and complexities before i step closer.  to do the ‘other work’ first.  to be solvent and steady.  for the time on the bench to be worthy.

why does a composer compose?  why does a composer wait?

download WAITING on iTunes or CDBaby

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAITING from JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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the box. [k.s. friday]

the box songbox

“the box: a place to put all the stuff of our lives.”  (from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL liner notes 1996)

the old black suitcases store stuff.  treasured moments, all in a jumble, some decipherable, others bits and snatches of times we want to remember, so we keep these feathers and ticket stubs, notes and river stones, scraps of wrap, cards, red rock.  they proudly sit in the dining room, in a stack, their vintage scrapes and broken handles call to me each time i pass them by.  they shower me with memories and times i have passed through, moments i have lived.  i can feel what is in them.

in another box, in another place, are old dreams.  torn vestiges of paper with lyrics, a few notes scribbled in the margins of old spirals.  there are visions and imaginings, goals and undetermined outcomes.  like you, these are the things undone.  there are no ticket stubs or photos in this box; these are the things that have not come to fruition.  these are the things that beckon over and over.  these are the things that demand i consider and reconsider what i am doing today, tomorrow.  these are the things that make me question.  each time i pass them by.  i can feel what is in them.

i am reminded:

“a ship in harbor is safe.  but that is not what ships are built for.”  (john a. shedd)

these are the full liner notes:

“the box:  a place to put all the stuff of our lives.  sometimes this place really hurts.” (BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL 1996)

download THE BOX from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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THE BOX from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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holding steadfast. [k.s. friday]

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it is against the odds that this tree clings to rock and doesn’t topple into the lake with a great splash and float away.  instead it stubbornly holds on, a steadfast intention.  the rock, the basso ostinato.

at a time when holding steadfast seems mightily important, i wonder about the questions we have been asked.  will you stay?  will you leave?  will you love it here?  in the midst of all the infighting, are you going to give up? will you hold on?

the answers may not be directly related to the actual intent of those questions.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our integrity.  we will hold steadfast to the reasons we came here in the first place.  to make a difference, to bring ideas and change, to apply that which we have learned, studied, experienced over at least 80 combined years of work, higher education and profession.  to be honest and transparent and collaborative.  to try and instill a sense of working together into a community divided by narratives too numerous to list.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our belief that people should be kind to each other, that people should not work around others nor should they undermine others, that people should instead lift each other up, not drive stakes into another.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to honoring art, the driving force behind this initiative.  to honoring creativity and the blossoming of beauty and wisdom, staunch tenets of artistry.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to believing all is possible.

but, in answer to the real intent of the question asked us….will we hold on?

we will not hold on if others cannot join us in what is real, what is truth, what is most important.  we will not hold on in the fire of pettiness or shameful self-serving underhandedness.  we will not hold on, holding still while others take turns throwing rocks at us, at the real goals of this place, if those are indeed about art.

the answer to the question is not up to us.  we can either cling to the rock, holding steadfast or we can topple, with a refreshing splash, into the lake and float away.

download HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 


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what is home? [k.s. friday]

the way home songbox 2.jpg

on this very day, at this very time, i do not feel at home.  and i believe i take home with me, so this is truly a statement of much discontent.

what is home to you?

how important is it to you to be surrounded by people who, with consciousness of others, support you?  how important is it to you to be amongst those who are kind, who are magnanimous, who are respectful to all, who are collaborative?  how important is to you to be around people who lead with goodness, who work together, who do not embrace divisiveness?

how important is the place?  does an idyllic location exempt bitter disputes and argumentative people?  does it matter if the sun rises and sets in dramatic color if the timbre of the place is ugly, combative, rift-producing, breach-exacerbating?  what flowers override belligerence, competition and antagonistic voices?  what soaring birds and graceful wildlife eclipse closed minds and turning a blind eye to others’ pain?

important questions, i believe.  eye-opening questions.

home is indeed subjective for each of us.  our hearts lead us.

download THE WAY HOME on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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THE WAY HOME from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood


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i cleared the path for you. [merely-a-thought monday]

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there have been times when a clear path would have been my choice.  something that was predictable, “normal”, serene.  a path upon which i wouldn’t have to ask a lot of questions about direction.  sense-making would be easy; “right” choices would be obvious.

how many times have i hoped for a sticky note to float down from the heavens above, simple instructions listed like on an ikea bookshelf leaflet.  how many times have i wondered about how to forge through the muddy waters, how to get where i can see but not touch.  a clear path seems maybe too much to ask.  we seek mentors to aid us, to ask tough, blunt questions. expecting candid answers, they help us see.  perhaps we would miss too many lessons – or just too much – along the way were we to have a clear path.  there is no “normal”.

the elderly hiker in the woods approached from the opposite direction.  his hat pulled down over his forehead and his jacket zipped up keeping him warm along the trail, he smiled, inviting a response, and said, “i cleared the path for you.  it’s all clear.”

we laughed and thanked him, but i know we both wished he meant it literally.  in a life sense.

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

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guidance is eternal. [merely-a-thought monday]

guidance framed copy

it drives them nuts, i’m sure, but i still write or say “triple always” to my children.  a redundancy of course, the “triple” emphasizes the “always”… an unnecessary modifier that says “eternally”…. i love you eternally.

there is a boeing commercial we see often.  in it, the narrator is stating steps of preparation for flight, counting down.  then she says, “guidance is eternal.”  that’s what i have heard every time.  until one time i asked d why he thought she said that.  he responded that she was actually stating, “guidance is internal,” which clearly makes more sense in the aviation world.

i had to listen more closely the next time to hear “eternal” as “internal”.  i did discern the difference, but i still, each time it airs, hear “guidance is eternal” anyway, and maybe that’s a good thing.  it serves as a reminder from an unlikely source, a sort of subliminal message, perhaps, at a time i need it.  an absolute when looking to the universe for answers to unsolved questions, small eddies of confusion, sorting and attempts at balance, at level positivity, seeking wisdom from those who are beloved but on another plane.

the guidance is there.  waiting.  it is internal AND it is eternal.  triple always.

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

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bridge. [k.s. friday]

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“when one door closes another door opens.”  how many times have you heard that?  people fail to address the hallway in-between.  ahh….that hallway in between.  full of mystery.  full of questions.  full of wondering.  full of not-knowing.  it can be freeing; it can be torturous.  bridging from now to next.

two to three months after my big brother died, my sweet momma continued to have nights when she could not sleep.  she would rise from bed and go down the short hall to the bedroom that served as her office.  in that short walk, she would pass the entrance to the living room.  one night, as she passed the living room, glancing in she saw a depression in the very top of the recliner, the way it looks when someone is sitting with their head against the back of the chair.  this chair…the very one that my brother sat in so many times in the last months of his life, close to the front door so that he didn’t have to go too far and become too tired.

my momma, not given to fanciful imaginings, decided to walk into the living room to find out why the headrest of this chair gave the appearance of someone in it.  she came around to the front of the chair and found my brother.  he was sleeping in the chair and did not stir while she stood there.  she never said a word, just silently watched for a couple of minutes.  her heart full, she quietly walked to her office.  an hour or so later, when she was ready for bed, she walked back down the short hall, this time glancing in to the living room to see if the headrest was still shaped as it had been, if my brother was still there.  the recliner had returned to its normal state.  my brother was no longer there.  she went to bed and slept, her time in the hall of grief a little lighter, a little less encumbered, a little less painful.  mysterious, full of questions, full of wondering and not-knowing.  freeing and a little torturous.  but moving into next.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood