reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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those ferns. [two artists tuesday]

ferns

the ferns make me think of sally; the day we pushed the wheelbarrow up and down third avenue back and forth to her house – over and over – loaded with hosta, ferns, daylilies.  the sweet-smelling peonies make me think of linda, digging in the dirt of our gardens, planting, weeding, helping to shape the space.  the grass makes me think of russ and marykay, again, a day of wheelbarrowing, again third avenue, but due north instead of south, over and over.  we dug the pond with big help from ted and monica and a bevy of friends at our ‘big dig’ party.  we sustain the pond with words of wisdom from jay and charlie.  we build bonfires in a firepit from jen and brad and we watch lettuce grow in wooden planters from 20.  we just added hosta from daena’s mother-in-law-to-be; dan and gay delivered them.  it has taken a small village to plant our garden.

it is not without luck that these have grown well.  dogdog has done his best to try and decimate the yard and My Girl worked long hot hours last summer pulling weeds any rainforest would be proud of; our stay on island and not in our backyard encouraged strong holding-on-not-letting-go weeds of great substance, but the girl prevailed over them.

we didn’t hire a garden center to ‘do’ our yard.  it’s not too planned; it’s definitely not too fancy.  it is a place of sanctuary, though.  a place, created with so many people we love.  a place where – in the middle of this pandemic, in the middle of the heart-wrenching chaos in this country, in the middle of economic worry for so many, in the middle of fear of more divisiveness and even less thoughtful leadership – we can sit in broken adirondack chairs on the patio or on the edge of the deck, arms wrapped around our knees, listening to the fountain, the birds, the wind in the trees.

the sun warms.  and we wait to hear the croaking of the pond-frog who magically appeared just a few days ago.

read DAVID’s post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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we long. [k.s. friday]

longing

and in the mist of the new grey day, uncolored by the pattern of another’s fabric in our close grasp, we rise.

we sip from coffee mugs, just the two of us, conversation spilling, yet stale in two-dimensionality.

we plan the day, but stop short of planning, for the days now have measured repeat signs.

sudden unexpected changes in rhythm punctuate the andante pace in isolation,

projects to learn and complete, new rules to follow.

we long for lingering conversations with dear ones, in person, touching distance.

for wine glasses clinking together,

for groceries we do not wash,

for sidewalks we willingly share,

for overdue embraces.

we long for that which was, that which we see we took for granted.  we mourn.  we grieve.

anger hangs as low clouds; aerosols so fine as to break down walls of solidarity.

laughter is key; we find it hiding around corners, peeking out, entering the fray and retreating. we chase it, grasping its laughter-tail and pulling it back into our life-day like warm taffy.

we watch news of this place, this state, this country, this world and find joy in small stories of goodness, in videos of lions napping on roads.

we long to feel less like we are in a science fiction movie and more like we are in a flattening curve.

we wish we hadn’t watched the movie contagion.

we end the day on top of mount everest, breathing air so thin that every breath is deliberate. we linger on the top-of-the-world, just as other-worldly as our own hometown right now.

we long.

we sleep, forgetting for a few hours, waking and, for moments, not remembering.

we step outside, coffee in hand

and the sun warms our faces and we wish to share the patio with voices and slow-dancers.

 

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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LONGING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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virtual birthday. real love. [k.s. friday]

and goodnight

i went to sleep last night with a full heart.

i have spent the last two weeks gathering selfies from My Girl’s friends and family with birthday signs and wishes.  today is her 30th birthday and, with the pandemic restrictions, i can’t be there, out in those high mountains, to be the “return-to” information written on her bar-hopping balloons like i was on her 21st birthday or make her a special ariel or pocahontas or ballet slipper or happy face cake like i did every year she grew up.  like many of you, i feel sad and challenged by the inability to celebrate or be with each other.

so i decided to throw her a surprise party.  from all walks of life family and friends showed up and sent me selfies with signs they created or videos or photos they brilliantly photoshopped with greetings.  i facebook messaged and texted and talked with people i had never met, all generous and kind and wanting to help; every one of them a valued person in The Girl’s life and now in mine.  love at its best, i cried over and over receiving these and, after spending the entire day yesterday formatting all of it into a video, watched it again and again, tears streaming down my face.  it is an amazing thing to see how loved your child is.

so, today, i woke up refreshed.  my heart was full and i couldn’t wait to share this video and a gift video i made as well with kirsten.   i wish i was hiking with her this morning or having gnocchi and wine with her tonight.  but…

yes, it’s a virtual birthday – all of it.

but it is virtually impossible to not feel some peace in all this love.  and i know that tonight, when i lay my head on my pillow, i will rest easy.

 

 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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“staying more or less sane…” [merely-a-thought monday]

sane

it’s a wave.  and, like the tide, we ride it out to sea and back in to shore.  we grab handfuls of sand when we hit the beach, to remind ourselves that we are indeed of this earth and this is real.   and then we read or watch the news and see the charts and the numbers-who-are-people-not-numbers and we are back out to sea, on precarious standup boards.

it’s almost a mantra “staying more or less sane.”  we wake in the morning and, for the first few delicious seconds, we don’t remember.  but as we share dreams – the dreams we can remember – we know that even our subconscious are trying to process all this.

we compare notes with others:  what is acceptable to do in these restricted times, what is not.  we are aghast at the impropriety of the suggestion of large gatherings, no matter where they are.  even small gatherings of people not isolating together are questionable. we wonder if we will all be agoraphobic when it’s time to cease restrictions.  we worry that this decision will be made irresponsibly, skewed in the direction of the ever-important dollar and not in the interest of people being healthy, getting better, staying alive.  we are afraid.

we do whatever we can, whatever works; we are all in different places on the what-works-for-you continuum.  outside of working we struggle to fill in time.  we take on new projects; we sit quietly.  we bake loaves and loaves of bread and test new recipes; we cook just whatever is necessary.  we obsessively deep clean the closets, the cabinets, the basement; we pick up around ourselves and disinfect what needs disinfecting.  we organize, organize, organize; we have trouble paying attention, finishing going through the piles.  we watch movies and binge on sitcoms; we look out the window and get lost in thought.  we spend time on our muse; we stay away from that which makes us feel more deeply.  we spend vast amounts of time on social media and video-conferencing apps; we desperately miss those we love and yearn for them.  we get impatient; we wait.

we are a world of people-people, broken and reeling, and we are all trying to stay more or less sane.

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

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silence. below the noise. [k.s. friday]

silent days 6 feet

sometimes we are silent.  sometimes it’s better that way.  a fluid point, a fine line of balance, there’s so much to say; there’s so much we should avoid saying.  silent days.

we walk or hike outside, we take limited trips to the grocery store.  not a lot of interaction, the way it is supposed to be right now.  with varying cautions about distancing and asymptomatic spreading and aerosol molecules, the experts have my rapt attention. although i do not have the ability to make as much of a difference in this as those who are on the front lines, i need do my part.  responsibly and respectfully.

making do with texts, phone calls, work videoconferences, online hangouts with friends, it’s still much more silent than it ever is, normally.

there are reports of residents hearing birds again in wuhan.  the woodpecker is busy in our backyard, the mourning doves call, the frogs quip to each other in the woods.

and so we walk, quietly.  we cross to the other side of the street, we single-file on the other side of the path.  maybe here and there people answer to our soft hello as we pass.  we shop, rarely, pushing a cart, quickly assembling what we need.  we listen to the sounds that often linger unheard below the noise.

and even above the masks, even in the silence, i can see their tentative smiles.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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SILENT DAYS ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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“we believe in tomorrow.” [merely-a-thought monday]

plant lettuce

as a person who is at severe risk, our dear 20 is isolating alone.  it is unusual for us not to see him a couple or three times a week.  our visits are now just audio by telephone or perhaps a facetime here or there.  he has much to look forward to and, in preparing for all that, he is taking all precautions, sacrificing now for later.  he texted us this message the other day.  it was after a call the night before – a call during which we all shared the middle-of-the-night-wakefulness that is scary-as-all-get-out.

it was a text of wisdom.  a text that conveyed a message that there is always a measure of blind belief necessary.  a text i read more than once.

i know that my beloved big sister and i don’t agree on everything.  but this morning she texted me that she had gone to the post office in the wee hours last night to send a small package to us.  inside are four masks, to protect us, to protect others, to walk into tomorrow prepared.  and i am grateful.  we will wear these masks because we believe in tomorrow and because we want to protect all we can in getting there.

we stay home because we believe in tomorrow and because we want to protect all we can in getting there.

we social distance; we cross to the other side of the road on a getting-fresh-air-walk because we believe in tomorrow and because we want to protect all we can in getting there.

we wash our hands.  we wash our groceries.  we disinfect.  we let mail, packages, newspapers sit untouched for days.  we wipe everything down.  we are conscious.  we try to protect.

lettuce will grow if you plant it.  if you prepare the soil.  if you water it, if you protect it from deluge or too much arid sun.

so, like 20 suggested, we’ll bring out the wood boxes, prepare the soil and plant lettuce.  and we’ll protect it.  because we believe in tomorrow.

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

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“you’re my favorite pain in the ass.” merely-a-thought monday

you're my favorite

we bought it on our honeymoon.  we knew, even by then, that we would need this sign’s lighthearted truth to remind us – some days – of what we even liked about each other.  in these days of isolation it’s front and center.

these are profoundly difficult times.  without the balance of getting out or having a little space, we are all finding ourselves in close isolation with the others in our home.  we two, here, are often together 24/7.  we work together in a variety of capacities, so we have gotten a little more accustomed to the dynamics than, say, some of you who have been thrown into the deep end with no feathering of getting-used-to-the-water time.  but…that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.  so we are all here, separately together, figuring it out.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

the stress level is palpable.  you can feel the world out-there functioning at a completely different frequency than it had been.  it is like that high pitch in your ears, making you teeter on yelling, “make it stop”.  we all try to go with the flow, try to make the best of it.  we are fortunate to be here together, at home, in a safe place.  we seek ways to stay relevant and do meaningful work.  we follow stay-at-home orders.  we reach out to visit, virtually, with our family and friends.  we video-conference with colleagues.  we wear leggings and sweatpants on a daily basis.  my boy, in a city with ever-exponentially-growing-covid-19-numbers, said that’s a given – sweats, sweats, sweats and the perfunctory button-down shirt.  we know what’s visible and what’s not.  we desperately hope for the best.  we get in each other’s way.  we help each other.  we brainstorm new ways to cope, new ways to work, some with steep learning curves.  we sigh.  we take naps, tired and wrung out.  all are true.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

and we try to stay in touch.  we desperately miss our children, our family, our friends, the people in our day-to-day life route.

even in times of ‘normal’, if my daughter, whose home is in a covid-19 hotspot and whose work, like too many, has been decimated, texts me with no punctuation and clipped answers, i know i have either a) stepped past the edge of the chatting time limit b) asked too many questions c) said something completely too mom-ish or d) encountered her at a time she needs space for herself.  no matter which option, it’s smart (and in my best interest) to back up.  she, just like my son, knows she is loved beyond words and i know that, in order for me to stay loved, or, er, tolerated, i need to utter less painintheass words.  but i am their mom and it is an intrinsic part of my job.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

if david, the other artist in my two-artist-household equation, mentions an idea to me, i dig under the idea pile of leaves to find the base of it – to order the details of what the idea means, to parse it out.  i can’t start at the top and assume thebigidea will work.  i have to see how the ingredients of the idea will work, the steps to get there.  if the tiniest piece of the idea doesn’t seem plausible, i argue, how could thebigidea be possible.  i don’t mean to be a bigidea killer; i just need to see the practical details.  i’m sure he invokes the youareapainintheass eyeroll when i am not looking, but that’s ok.  he can’t see me rolling my eyes either.

and so, we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

in the biggest way we have seen in decades we have a challenge.  to stay healthy.  to keep others healthy.  what we do affects you and vice-versa.  we all have to be responsible.  we all have to work together.  we are not all favorites of each other.  some of us are the biggest pains in the ass to others of us.  we are learning, bending, flexing.  we are finding out that we are more resilient than we thought, we are capable of negotiating the bumps in the relationship-road.  we are gumby in the real world.

and we are all here.  separate and together.  despite our wildly differing stories, we have a common story.  we are here.

and we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

i, for one, am grateful for my absolute favorite painintheass even though he is totally a painintheass.  for what would i do without him?

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

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just being there. [d.r. thursday]

k.Dot Dogga BCat copy

there are moments when both dogga and babycat seem to be on the same page.  sweetly tuned in to our every emotion, they put aside their own agenda to curl up, their warm bodies tucked in against one or both of us, just being there.

in this time of necessary and vigilant waiting, as we defer to healthcare workers, scientists, the experts, all in their prodigious work, perhaps this is the most potent aid we can offer.  to curl our warmth and any practical and safe help we can muster around each other.  to acknowledge each other’s worry, each other’s fear, each other’s process.  to be tuned in, to listen, to offer words of comfort.  to stand with each other, hold each other’s hands, even from afar.  to quietly just be there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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jen-napkins. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

 

napkin copy

these napkins make me think of jen.  it’s the reason we bought them.  at every single gathering with jen and brad, jen, who is an amazing creator of festivity, sets out fun napkins.  patterns and colors and images and phrases.  not the 300-1-ply-approx 6″ square-white-napkins-in-plastic-wrap kind of napkins, but napkins you choose that have some panache.  confident napkins.  napkins with personality.  napkins that celebrate.

i grew up with the other kind of napkins.  my sweet momma bought the 1-ply-approx-6″ kind of napkins all my growing-up years.  sometime in their retirement, beaky switched to vanity fair napkins, which are a bit more substantial and, in their substantiality, a bit fancier.  any sweetly patterned napkins were reserved for special occasions, parties, holidays.  because DNA is a powerful thing, our beaky passed all this down to me, and so, i haven’t yet reached the vanity-fair-napkin-stage.

we actually are cloth-napkin people.  because tight-budgeting runs through my veins, we seek out two cloth napkins as souvenirs when we travel, instead of chachkies.  we can tell you where all our cloth napkins are from and love to pick out which ones to use from the drawer in the dining room.

but there is something to these fun napkins that jen uses.  in the basement where we keep party supplies are several packets of fun, patterned, imaged napkins.  i’ve been saving them.  for company, for special occasions, for a celebration.

the other day i took out a handful and put them on the kitchen table.  the last couple of evenings, as we sit with a glass of wine, i have laid one at our spots.  this little napkin instantly makes me happier.  a simple napkin.  our moments of sharing a glass of wine at the kitchen table have become moments of celebration.

so, in this time of waiting and uncertainty, i have decided, even though it will require much pushing-back-against-that-nagging-stingy-voice-in-my-head, that we will use all those napkins.  i’ll go downstairs and get all the fun jen-napkins we have, no matter the season to which they are dedicated.  we’ll set them out and use them, making each time we are at the table together a celebration.

and i know my sweet momma, our beaky, will be smiling down at us.  “wowee!” she’ll say.

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

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