reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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slow down. [two artists tuesday]

curvy road

you have to slow down.  as you drive in door county toward the ferry dock on the southern side of death’s door, the road begins to curve.  it is imperative to slow down.  after you arrive at the dock, as you wait for the ferry, IF you have a signal, you google the route, wondering.  you find:

“Jens Jensen was a vehement believer in the power of nature to enrich the lives of men and women. His parks are famous for their water features, rock gardens, and meandering paths meant to mimic and incorporate nature rather than shape it.”

it is said that this scandinavian man (a landscape architect) designed this road to do just that:  enrich people’s lives by nature.  slow them down.  i give a lot of credit to a person who chose to do what was likely an unpopular decision in a society that wants to get as-quickly-as-possible from point a to point b.  slowing people down takes some guts.  (have you ever driven the speed limit in the fast lane?)

i tend to go slower than d.  we are both project-driven and completion-oriented.  but once he is on a mission, he is relatively unstoppable.  he likens it to being OCD (i’m not sure i’d entirely agree) but his focus is intense and he, like many, is not as tangential or multi-tasking-ish as i am.  he doesn’t circle around or circle back like i do.  it makes me wonder if circling is perceived as intense as straight-line-aheading, but i digress.

each time we have driven the road to the ferry that takes us to our little island i have thought about stopping and taking a picture of it.  many people are parked on the side of the road, pausing to do just that, trying to wait until all the cars are gone and there aren’t other people standing in the middle of the road photographing the ideal photograph.  i have joked about how they should maybe buy a postcard, but then, it’s not their personal moment and i really understand that.

the other day, because this route has grown on me and because it is really beautiful, i thought again about stopping to take a picture, to remember…all the times we have driven this way.  i drove past the curvy part and then, because there was this nagging debate in my brain, said, “would you mind if we went back so i could get a picture?”  of course, d’s answer was, “no, turn around!  we’re in no hurry!”  so i did.  i circled back.  i stood in the road and waited until there were no other cars or other people standing in the middle of the lane.  i could smell the colors of the fall leaves, could feel the briskness of air and the smile of the sun, knew the ferry to the island was at the other end of the curves.

the idea of decelerating people to appreciate nature and moments in it speaks to me.  the idea of incorporating nature rather than shaping it speaks to me.  believing in the power of nature speaks to me. i vote with jens – slow down.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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welcome sign. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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the first time we went to the tiny farmer’s market on island we ran into a few people we had just met.  new friends, they stopped to chat for a time and tom said, “the whole island is a welcome sign.”  that seems to be true.  a welcome sign.

yesterday we heard about people standing in line in the little grocery store.  the clerk and the customer checking out were having a chat.  no one in line interrupted.  no one shuffled their groceries.  no one shifted from one leg to the other, impatiently sighing loudly.  they just waited.  and then, when it was their turn, they had their own chat with the clerk.  the grocery store is a welcome sign.

we were walking down the road arm in arm, a few miles from home, and an old light blue pickup truck pulled up next to us.  a sweet old man leaned out and said, “you two lovebirds want a ride?”  we laughed and said that we were out for a stroll.  motioning to the bed of the truck, he told us he had plenty of room but added, “it looks like you are doing just fine.”  we chatted a minute more and he pulled away.  a welcome sign.

we were obliviously riding our bikes on the road, looking for deer in the woods.  talking quietly and laughing at my attempts at no-handed riding (which, by the way, came back after a try or two), i suddenly realized there was a car behind us.  i motioned quickly to d to pull over in front of me and get out of the car’s way.  as it passed, i called into the rolled-down window “sorry!”  the driver called back, “no worries!  enjoy your ride!”  no horn beeping, no revving of engine, no grumpy voice, no gesturing.  just a “no worries!”  a welcome sign.

it’s a sweet thing, this welcome.

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

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slow. slow. [two artists tuesday]

deer in woods copy.PNG

slow. slow.  when we drove home the other day, we realized how very slowly we were moving here on island.  the comparison began the instant we were on the mainland.  we hadn’t driven over 40mph for a couple weeks; suddenly we could feel the push, the frenzy to get somewhere, fast, faster.  it’s pervasive, that frenetic energy, and the closer we got to milwaukee, the more we could feel it.  our heartbeats raced as cars darted in and out of lanes, as horns beeped and drivers gestured impatiently.  no one noticed each other.  they just drove, destination their only intention.

slow. slow.  we walked home the other night.  after porch-sitting and having a short meeting, we ambled down the middle of the road.  no one was coming; no one passed us.  the interruption in quiet would have alerted us to any oncoming car.  we shared the woods around us with a deer, who was still, watching us for signs if we were going to approach.  our pause on the road and our slow movements convinced the deer to not run, but to stay and just be still.  to watch.  an eagle flew above us.  looking up, there was a moment we recognized that this eagle saw us.   the deer, the eagle, noticed us.  we were in the world together in those moments.  no intention but to breathe the same air.

slow. slow.  we are learning, slowly, about this community.  connecting the dots, discerning the culture, perceiving the nuances.  we are studying this place that is our job – a performing arts center with 250 seats on a tiny island you can only get to by ferry.  a step away-away.  a place in which we want to elevate artistry and growth.  we move slowly, thoughtfully.  our intention, our work, the maturing of this place that has been germinated and cared for.  a rich garden, a rich forest of verdant adolescence, waiting to flourish.  slow.  slow.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the clothesline. plenty of time. [two artists tuesday]

the clothesline

if you are watching hgtv and they are touting the positives of having a washer-dryer combo all-in-one, don’t believe them.  we quickly discovered that the dryer part of the washer-dryer was in name only.  unless you have hours to wait and money to toss for the added electricity, the “dryer” is more like a wringer-outer that removes some of the moisture from your laundry.

and so, on this little island, for this summer, we now have a …. wait for it … clothesline.  after a trip to the mercantile where we bought line and clothespins, d installed it and voila! we have a “dryer”!!!  the breezes off the lake and the sun dry our laundry quickly and dogdog loves to help with the hanging-out and taking-down of clothes on the line.  i feel myself channeling my sweet momma as i shake the clothes taking them out of the basket before hanging, lessening possible wrinkles, and again shake the clothes as i take it them off the line, lessening possible hitchhikers.  it feels like time-ago.  it’s refreshing and pretty heavenly.  there’s plenty of time.  and the laundry dries.

we have found that we needed to slow down a bit here.  we drive slower, for wildlife is everywhere and you must be careful.  we walk slower – in the middle of the road – for there are far fewer cars and no frenzy.  we have fewer errands, for there are not many places to shop.  we see that we will see change slower, for the wheels of progress are big ole tires here, turning slowly as a big tractor down a mottled dirt road.  we wave at everyone we go by, we stop and talk, we laugh about our long tenure here – a whopping fourteen days.  we know we will slowly become a part of this place.  there’s plenty of time.

we were at a new friend’s house high on a bluff in the woods overlooking the lake the other night.  we were telling a story and i said something to our host about not doing nutshells very well; she interrupted my apology and said, “there’s no rush.  tell the whole story.  we have plenty of time.”

you have to plan a little differently with a clothesline.  adjustment is necessary.  a day which dawns rainy and grey will not be a good clothesline day.   and so, you must choose a different day.  for there is plenty of time.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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empty the dishwasher slowly. [merely-a-thought monday]

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we have a dishwasher.  this is a picture of it.  it does not work.  but it takes up space in our old kitchen that would otherwise be blank.  instead, we wash dishes.  by hand.  the old fashioned way.  it’s a good time to gaze out the window and think or have a little conversation as we wash, dry and put away.  in no rush.  i distinctly remember watching my sweet momma and poppo do this when i was growing up.  they would stand and chat (or be quiet) and work together until one day when my dad brought home a portable dishwasher that attached via a hose to the sink.  they would roll the dishwasher out of the laundry room.  it would sit, attached to the faucet, in the middle of the kitchen and you had to maneuver around it to get to the cabinets or across the kitchen.  ahhh.  dishwashers have come so far.  and yes, some haven’t.  like ours.

for the last week we have had the gift of being in an absolutely beautiful place on the ocean.  there are too many superlatives to list about the magic of being there, too many stories to tell.  so many memories to take with us, so many learnings.

and – we had the use of a dishwasher… a real live one that actually works; it washes dishes all by itself and then dries them.  amazing!

one morning, after waiting for the coffee to brew, david brought me coffee in bed and said he had realized something.  during the spell of time he was waiting, after opening up the house to the rising sun, he emptied the dishwasher.  he took each item out and carefully put it away in its place.  slowly.  when he came upstairs he told me that this simple task had actually been quite profound.  and, because it’s what we do, we talked about this observation.

as we take on many new tasks with much to orient to and learn, we have agreed to do just this, to move with this simple mantra:  to empty the dishwasher slowly.  to put each thing gently in its place.  to be mindful and intentional and not overwhelmed.  each glass will get put away, each plate will stack, each utensil will nest.  there is no rush.   there is right now.

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

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summer. [d.r. thursday]

Watercolor-Tree copy

summer is coming.  at least that is what the calendar indicates.  in recent days it has snowed in colorado.  it has been rainy and damp and cold in wisconsin.  the spring storms have been devastating the central states.  but summer is coming.

and with summer comes a little slowing-down, moments to linger in the sun, sit in lawn chairs and chat, sip iced tea on the deck, have picnics under the canopy of a tree.  we pick clover and make necklace chains, count the petals on a daisy, lay in the sweet smell of freshly mowed grass.

wishing you a peaceful and rejuvenating summer.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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be thou my vision. lento. rubato. [k.s. friday]

be thou my vision songbox

were i to record this old reassuring hymn BE THOU MY VISION again, i would play it much, much slower.  not the andante of the recording, the tempo of singing these verses.  instead, i would realize that this kind of guidance doesn’t necessarily happen in my version of time but, instead, in the universe’s version of time.  much, much slower.

it was 15 years ago, back in 2004, when i sat on a leather piano bench at yamaha artist services in nyc recording this piece and the others on the hymn albums.  i was 45.  things seem to move a lot faster at 45; expectations are impatient, conflict needs quick resolution rather than measured, thoughtful parsing.

now, 15 years later, i realize that slow is key.  the right answers don’t come fast.  much as we want quick, answers take their sweet time.  we ask for guidance and wish for an immediate sticky note to float down in front of us.  we, d and i, can tell you, if you don’t already know, that just doesn’t happen.  post-it notes were created on earth and any sticky note floating down from the heavens, the vision we so desperately seek, is invisible.  it shows itself, slowly, in how things begin to fit together, how it feels.  slowly.

we were at the music store in town a couple days ago.  kevin, the owner and one of our favorite people to hang and chat with, asked us what was new.  we laughed, not ready to share all that has been happening, but described an ever-changing picture.  he asked us if it felt like “all the pieces were falling into place easily.”  although i wouldn’t choose any form of the word ‘easy’ to depict our sticky-notes-requested-scenario, we can also say we haven’t been force-fitting square pegs into round holes. “then it’s supposed to be,” he said.  he told the loaded-with-sticky-notes story of buying the music store, fraught with challenges, but so meant to be.  it’s not in our time.  our expected tempo of things happening has, we can see, nothing to do with it.

so, lento.  lento would be the way to play this.  slowly.  taking sweet time.  and rubato. freely.  for in the gift of vision is sweet freedom: the ability to take a breath, recognize, regardless of our age, how little we really know, sit in purple adirondack chairs, go beyond the jetty and count on a benevolent universe.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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BE THOU MY VISION from ALWAYS WITH US VOL 1 ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood