reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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apples and numbers. [k.s. friday]

it’s approaching. you can feel it in the morning air. fall. its scent lingers in the fields of wildflowers, succumbing to cooler nights, a lower sun on the horizon. the bees are desperately, frantically, trying to hang on for dear life. the mosquitoes, thankfully, are writing their wills and the cicadas are singing as if the judges of ‘american idol’ or ‘the voice’ were gathered beneath the trees, an audience of appreciators.

it’s different though.

this fall is all about numbers. covid-19 pandemic numbers. lethal-force racial fatality numbers. protest numbers. healthcare numbers. unemployment numbers. eviction numbers. payroll tax numbers. rally numbers. poll numbers. we are surrounded by a plethora of numbers with an increasingly urgent need to be aware of all of them.

there will be no relaxing inside starbucks sipping pumpkin spice lattes. there will be no apple festivals or street fairs celebrating fall. there will be no hayrides, bale-bouncing with friends on a rickety wagon. there will be no chili cook-offs or slow dance parties on the patio. this was the stuff of pre-pandemic. the stuff of the olden days. the stuff of 2019. the stuff of 1996. the stuff of 1973.

there will be thoughtfully attended protests. there will be emotional vigils. there will be testing sites. there will be virtual funerals. there will be video-conferenced schools and meetings and religious gatherings. there will be jobs sought, financial devastation for too many, unreachable healthcare. there will be speeches to listen to, about which to have hope. there will be speeches to fact-check, about which to have righteous anger.

the numbers have risen to the surface and rightfully demand our attention.

but there’s this – written one year ago: every fall, my sweet momma and my poppo would load us up in the dodge with the old wicker picnic basket and a small cooler.  we would drive out east on long island or head north into upstate new york.  the baby of the family with siblings already out of the house, i always had a friend along.  susan went everywhere with us.  we would take mad libs and gum, snacks and cans of soda and we would talk and giggle our way to the apple farm. it wasn’t like we couldn’t find apples near us; the jaunt away to apple-picking was the point.  the walk in the orchard, the drive through leaves of indescribably stunning color.  we’d stop at roadside picnic tables and take back country roads.

and now, a long while later, i think of those places, those times.  the memories are sweet, macintosh-apple-sweet.  but the yearning is real.  every autumn makes me just as wistful.  i think of my children jumping in leaves and pumpkins carved with silly faces.  my parents and the old dodge.  pies with homemade crust, hot soup and cocoa, the smell of cinnamon and caramel candles.  fires in the fireplace or outside around the firepit.  jeans, sweaters, boots.  and apples.

and so now that the time for jeans and sweaters and boots is in the offing, i need remember. there are still quiet fires in the firepit to have. there are pies we can make and cocoa we can brew up. there are big stock pots of soup to steep. there are trails with crunchy leaves. there are pumpkins to carve, sunflowers to vase, and backroads to drive.

there are things that must be done. the numbers insist. it’s a profound time filled with information and a call to speak up, to question, to research, to, yes, wear a mask and yes-yes, to vote.

but my wistful-near-autumn heart also needs apples.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

MILLNECK FALL from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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the indefensible. [d.r. thursday]

my sweet momma would say, “teasing is a form of affection.”

in fourth grade it was a thing for boys to run after the girls on the playground, catch their arm and hold it with one hand while twisting their wrists in a move that had a terrible politically incorrect name.  it was painful and undeniably punishable.  no matter the circumstance, it was not defensible.  tommy a. always chose me and i would go back into the classroom after recess with a reddened wrist, tears in my eyes and an infuriated heart.  my teacher would tell me that tommy really likes me; my classmates would sing the “kerri and tommy sitting in the tree….first comes love…..” song.  but tommy’s aggression was never a question.  no, in this case, teasing was not a form of affection.

the metaphoric wrists of our country’s populace are being twisted day in and day out these days.  have you not yet wearied of the rhetoric that, with no effort to quell it, is permeating the soundtrack of our lives?  the sad thing is the gross advancement of this kind of muck, excrement of lies, wildly distorted narratives, convoluted lawlessness. 

this is not the stuff of a fourth grade boy.  indeed, this is the stuff of the president of the united states.  the most powerful man in the free world. 

weary doesn’t capture it.

how is this behavior acceptable, this distortion of truth, these made-up stories, this bold vitriol of violence, of division, this self-riddled agenda, this absolute hatred of the premise of equality in the entirety of this country based on one-and-all-regardless-of-gender-race-religion-socioeconomic-status? 

the wrists are twisting in his party and they are doggedly, obediently following along, quietly rubbing their red wrists, checking their bank accounts and stock market holdings, gripping their offices with nary a glance to the physical, emotional, financial well-being and safety of their constituents.  is this the reason to defend the indefensible? 

tommy a. would invariably get in trouble.  even in fourth grade, he was held accountable for his misdeeds.  he was directed to apologize to me and to any other girl (or boy) who he had hurt out on the playground or the asphalt.  his repeat offense yielded further punishment until he no longer equated his aggression with a “form of affection”.

when is it that these repeated offenses by the president of the united states and his pandering minions will yield punishment?  when is it that this aggression will cease? 

our country sits in the middle of a global pandemic that has killed over 185,000 americans.  are you ready to die for the furthering of this president’s agenda?  defend the indefensible.

our country sits in the middle of social, racial, gender injustice, a system broken and drowning in evil inequality, furthering the chasm between peoples of this nation.  are you ready to be divided from family, from friends, from people you love, from neighbors for the furthering of this president’s agenda?  defend the indefensible.

our country sits in the middle of the playground, its shores are disappearing, its forests are burning, its air is unclean, its water is toxic.  are you ready to sit back in a lawn chair and watch as the world self-destructs for the furthering of this president’s agenda? defend the indefensible.

is this his form of affection?  is this the way he shows love for this country?

do not defend the indefensible.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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create the cracks. [flawed wednesday]

reeds and lake

“neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.”  (desiderata, max ehrmann 1927)

i would venture to say that, for many, this is a time of spiritual aridity and woeful disenchantment.  unconsolable worry, uneasiness, disillusionment, fear…pervasive as the humidity of early morning summer fog, the dew of late evening.  we wait for the breeze to start to blow off the sticky and cool us down.

we speak up, for the winds of change will dispel our disease, our unease, our social injustice ill-at-ease.  we stand, with love, at the ready to make it happen.  we confront that which is not true, that which is harmful, hateful, that which is fear-mongering, that which incites violence and inequality among any and all people.  for this we reap not benefits; instead we accumulate pervasive pushback, accusation, derision.

but love is, truly, as perennial as the grass.  love will always lead the way out of aridity and disenchantment.  love waits on the sidelines of the arena filled with division and hatred, ready to flow into the cracks.  it’s our job as decent humans to create the cracks.

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

the “noisy confusion of life” punctuates our day with its rat-a-tat of false information, its innuendo, its delivery of agenda, its acrimony, its selfish serving of egos.  the “sham, drudgery and broken dreams” are all around us.

and so is this beautiful world.

we walk past the pond, the wind on our faces.  the grasses on the side beckon us to peek through.  water lilies polka-dot the clear water.  perennial as the sun, the morning and the dusk, the water lilies aerate the pond and keep the algae on the surface at a minimum, peacefully offering shelter to smaller sized fish.

but like many things that might look good on the surface, that might be aesthetically pleasing, that might speak to your individual soul, it is wise to be aware of the true qualities of water lilies and the perennials pondweed or yellow floating heart, plants that closely resemble them.  many shockingly invasive, they can quickly take over, without others even noticing, choking out the life of the pond.

“for the world is full of trickery…”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

*all quotes from desiderata by max ehrmann

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and today we wait. [two artists tuesday]

guarding the sidewalk

and today we wait.

you can feel the energy in the air.  nervous tension.  our city waits for the unwanted arrival of the president, who is apparently coming to kenosha to add photos to his photo op collection of inappropriate pictures taken at inappropriate times in circumstances about which he has no empathy.

we wait, nervously, wondering what the afternoon will bring.

in a city struggling to heal and move forward, this president will churn up any dust that has settled.  his rhetoric will spur on angry voices of hatred and division.  his actions and attitudes will suck the hopefulness out of people who have done so much in these last days after the police shooting of a young african american man, the ensuing protests, the riots and looting and arson wreaked by extremists, the pleas for the embracing of black-lives-matter change, the death of two protesters in the streets by a little boy from out-of-state with a very big gun playing militia, and this very president’s lack of compassion, lack of healing words, lack of condemnation of all that is obviously wrong, lack of truth, lack of moral compass in addressing all of what kenosha has experienced in the last nine days.

we wait, nervously, wondering what evil the inevitable rally will unearth, what the retort will be by the people of kenosha who truly care, what the extremists will do, who may enter this city from outside to do damage or stir up violence, what will happen to the baby steps we have taken.

we walk or hike every day.  lately we have walked a lot in our neighborhood.  we turn the corner down a ways and, tucked in front of the fence, next to the sidewalk, positioned in front of the clover on a broken piece of glassware are these two military figures.  both armed and at-the-ready.  what is this?  what does it mean?  even these kid-toys sitting there, day after day, seem to be a statement, seem unsettling in this climate.  and so we wonder.

and we wait.  the stress is palpable as the town listens for the giant military helicopters to arrive or the motorcycle brigade or the national guard entourage parade.  and we wonder what the evening will bring.  will the peaceful protests be overrun by presidential fuel added to the embers?  will all hell break loose?  will kenosha lose ground, the slightest of forward-moving crawling it has done?

we wait, nervously, and wonder how our city, our state, our country can overcome the ugly division that is forming a wall between factions resistant to change, impenetrable, armored to the hilt.  we wonder how we can be a city, a state, a country of dignity and inclusion, respect, equality, safety, peace.

we believe hate-speech is not the answer.  we believe pushing people down to raise oneself up is not the answer.  we believe people in the streets armed with weapons of destruction is not the answer.  we believe divisiveness, in all its colors and genders and socioeconomic forms, is not the answer.  we believe falsehoods and stoking fire and inciting animosity and violence without impunity is not the answer.  we believe abhorrent agenda-riddled self-indulgence on the part of the leadership of this country is not the answer.

stand up, little plastic soldiers.  look each other in the eye.  look the enemy in the eye.  put your guns away.  start with love.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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density and un-candles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

dense

we hike past these cattails.  and, because i have a vivid imagination, gazing into their thick darkness, i wonder what would happen if i suddenly had to run and forge my way through these dense reeds in order to be safe.  david claims that my imagination is usually on overdrive; i retort, “doesn’t everyone think about this stuff?”  he replies, “no, they don’t.”  i shrug.  for me, these cattails make me think; they make me ponder.  they inspire me to make a plan.  i am convinced:  it would be better to run and find a less dense area of vegetation and then i might be able to find my way through to the other side, to safety.  i keep watch for these less dense spots as we hike.  just in case.

the magic of the 1970s un-candles was based on density.  density parses out liquids which are different.  because oil is less dense than water, oil floats on top of water.  and so, you would fill the glass container with water and add a bit of oil on top.  a simple candle wick in a plastic wick shield would be placed atop this and it would float.  voila!  the un-candle.  a flickering light atop the water.

in the case of other uses of the word “dense”, i would revert back to maybe seventh grade.  “you’re dense!” one student would verbally accost another.  dense, back then, informally meant ignorant, vacuous, vapid, thickheaded, half-witted, moronic, gullible, daft.  most of these synonyms didn’t rapidly come to the forefront of the seventh-grade mind, so “dense” worked.  and it seemed kinder than “stupid”.  slightly.

as we approach every level of profound challenge in our world today, i am hoping for an un-candle approach.  i am hoping that the less-dense rise to the surface, that the less-dense light the way, that the less-dense path opens for us.

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

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the boulders. [two artists tuesday]

IMG_3933

8pm curfew and we can hear car horns and sirens blaring, smoke is in the air.

midnight and we hear gunshots, loud booms, sirens.

4:30am and the sirens continue.  a storm arrives; the thunder adds to other unidentifiable sounds and is unnerving.  we sit, awake.

early morning and the sun has risen to a stormy day.  smoke fills our house from buildings, structures, vehicles burning in downtown and uptown kenosha.  it is hard to breathe.  but we are very much alive.

the town is shoring up the lakefront.  the bedrock is crumbling.  every time a storm comes, particularly from the north or northeast, the erosion is profound and feet are lost along the shore.  enormous boulders are being brought in to nest next to the smaller granite boulders already in place, to protect lives and property.  the theory is that these granite boulders will buffet the shoreline against the raging winds, the elements, the squalls, and the resulting rocks flung westward when those aggressive storms come.

the tempest of social injustice is railing.  the coastline between white and black is hot and the fire of anger is raging.  jacob blake, an african american man, who is right between the ages of My Girl and My Boy, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on sunday.  he is fighting for his life and the community is fighting to be heard.

what will tonight bring?

as the bedrock of this community crumbles we wonder what seawall will be built to protect all, to guard against inequity, to keep everyone safe from violence, to stop the injustice against black members of our community, our state, our country? what intelligent, articulate conversation will take place?  what questions will be asked; what wisdom will be proffered?  what compassion and generous action will be offered?  how will we buffet against the rocks of hatred and bigotry flung by aggressive hostility?  what will the boulders of change look like?

“the wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock.  the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.

the foolish man built his house upon the sand, house upon the sand, house upon the sand.  the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!”

we have some decisions to make.  as a community, a state, a country.  what will we do?  will it be sand?  again?  or will it be rock?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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