reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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reach to the sky. [d.r. thursday]

“the collective sense of closure we’re all longing for may never arrive. instead, brace for a slow fade into a new normal. … there will be no clear moment when we can all move on.” joe pinsker’s opinion in the atlantic “there won’t be a clear end to the pandemic” is bracing. people will come to individual ‘ends’ as the fear and risk-taking factor start to feather out. there will be no treaty or declaration of peace; instead we will start to move back into life with a little less trepidation, a little more sure-footed.

libby wrote in her post that as she looked at the photograph of people gathered together she wondered where their masks were, she wondered why she was speaking so closely, horrified she was emitting aerosols into the air so close to them. it was a photograph of 2018. but you could choose a photograph of 2019 or even early 2020 and think the same. we watched a dvd movie and it was jarring to see masses of people together, unmasked. the unthinkable has become normalized. the pandemic is here and it is now and we have no idea when or how it will end or what it will look like.

the wildfires rage in the west, the hurricanes come and flooding devastates the south. the adrenaline of social unrest is racing. the pandemic is still in bloom, whether or not people are acknowledging it. jobs and homes and healthcare and bills and security are compromised. the political climate is in chaos and full of arrogant missteps and loud untruths. we are left to sort through the apocalyptic ruins.

we look to the sky, reaching out our arms, asking the universe for a tiny break in the storms.

we pick up our masks, go outside and take a long walk under the setting sun.

visit the full painting CHASING BUBBLES in david’s virtual gallery

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

REACH – a mo️rsel of CHASING BUBBLES © 2019 david robinson


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audacity. [flawed wednesday]

i never used to spend so many waking hours thinking about this country’s president or the governmental agencies and their representatives. i miss those days. i felt, back then, that these people were – mostly – looking out for the good of the country and i felt comfortable enough to go about my own life, taking responsibility for my family, my work, my community. i was informed and yet, i released my hold on constant information.

those days are gone.

now, i watch constantly – in complete horror – as this country has a president – truth be told, an impeached president – who, in his most recent atrocities, blatantly stokes division and hatred, whose absolute disregard for the health and well-being of the populace during a pandemic is evident in his arrogant gathering of hundreds and thousands together non-masked, non-distanced, whose smirking face smugly stated – to environmental scientists immersed in the devastating fires out west – that “it will start to get cooler” and that “i don’t think science knows”. i can not even attempt a complete inventory; the list of atrocities is too long. “all the president’s grotesqueries matter,” tim miller, a former RNC spokesperson.

yes. it’s all grotesque.

it appears that he is not only campaigning by audacity, but he is absolutely unchecked and reigning with audacity as well.

and, as the pissy-ness trickles down from the top and surrounds each of us with people-being-pissy-with-permission-from-the-top-of-the-heap, i wonder: when will it stop? at what juncture will this reign of terror finally be over?

audacious, indeed. when will the audacity end?

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the green. [two artists tuesday]

“and into the woods i go to lose my mind and find my soul.” john muir

the green makes me breathe differently. the scent of the underbrush, of towering pine trees, of the breeze brushing by me, whispering sweet nothings. the sounds of rustling leaves, of birdcalls, of the crunch of my feet. the green.

entering a different space entirely, i succumb to the green. my mind slows down a bit, my pulse in tandem. my steps are less frantic; frenzy is left at the side of the gravel, at the side of the dirt worn down by the tread of other soul-quenching-seekers. this is the lure of the trail.

“in the woods we return to reason and faith.” ralph waldo emerson

the green makes me think differently. we are silent. we talk. we review. we ponder. mostly, we take one step after another. in beauty. we remember this place, this earth, this universe. we remember it is simply on loan to us. just for the briefest of times. our tiny flash of star is ephemeral. and, simultaneously, it is on loan to billions of other people, all just as deserving of the green as we are.

“each and every one of us can make changes in the way we live our lives and become part of the solution to climate change.” al gore

we simply cannot deny climate change any longer. the apocalyptic weather events across our nation point their – rightfully – accusing fingers at this nation, a nation financing the denial of this climate crisis. this place, victim to colossal weather events, massive wildfires, eroding shorelines, calving glaciers and shrinking arctic, human-contaminated air and water, disregard for the preservation of natural resources, big-money-agenda-ized lands. we have a responsibility to this good earth, which has nurtured and fed and watered us throughout our lives. we need preserve it. there will be those who follow. they will need the green.

“i don’t want your hope. i don’t want you to be hopeful. i want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire.” greta thunberg

shall we all participate in the evanescence of the green? or shall we all fight for the sustenance of this mother earth?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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wowza. [geez. donkeys are people too.]

guess.

guess what name i was called. it doesn’t require a knowledge of rocket science or even a working articulate vocabulary to come up with this one. “asshole.”

i thought about retorting, “is this a conversation starter or a conversation closer?”

or “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

or “did you skip kindergarten altogether?”

or “why is it that anytime facts are presented and conversation is possible the choice is made to resort to ugly name-calling instead?”

or – nothing.

the really hard thing here is that my own beloved sister “liked” that this third person called me this name. wow. i must say i would never publicly call my sister or any relative a derogatory name. there are some things that being related stops you from doing. well, at least in my opinion.

and so.

and so, what?

i don’t know.

i guess it is time to stop worrying. it’s time to stop encouraging fact-checking and critical thinking. it’s time to cease pointing out discrepancies, inequalities and bigoted, prejudiced sways. it’s time to no longer attempt to ask questions, have conversation, communicate about differences. it’s time to turn a deaf ear to the vitriol, rhetoric and hatred spewed in the name of patriotism. it’s time to step back and let the chips fall where they may and then not step in them.

or maybe not.

i don’t know.

but i guess it’s time to realize that, yes, it could have been worse. i could have been called a cupcake or a snowflake or, worse yet, infantile. oh. that’s right. been there, done-been-called-that.

yup. intellect and intelligent discourse are at a premium these days.

read DAVID’S SATURDAY SLEW OF WORDS

donkey photo credit: linda t.


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they laughed. [k.s. friday]

they laughed.

two people in a facebook thread LAUGHED (with the convenient use of laughing emojis) at a post i wrote responding to someone’s perception that there wasn’t a lot of peace and love going on in my town and to a comment about kenosha and what “BLM and rioters have done to beautiful cities” and that “denying that it exists [wouldn’t] make it go away.” i was sincere and fervently hopeful, while recognizing realities:

“here, with a house full of smoke from the fires, within hearing distance of the militia shots in the street. we could hear the blasts of tear gas, the yelling and chanting. we had a visceral front seat. but we also see many, many, many people coming together to try to address a long-standing (forever) problem of this nation. denying systemic racism exists will not make it go away. it is incredibly sad that conversation has to be aggressive and pointed, rather than generative and mindfully intentional. cities can be rebuilt, but lives are lost forever. i don’t want to live in a city that looks beautiful and is ugly underneath.”

and they laughed. LAUGHED. i had to step away to catch my breath before i could respond. what is becoming of human decency these days?

yes. kenosha painted boarded-up windows and painted over graffiti of negative messaging. yes. because, connectivity and love are the beginning. and reminders of those can only help. each positive message – in a city boarded up and burned and looted – reminds us of the most basic of emotions: LOVE. each positive message reminds us – as we walk about in this raw wound – that we are incomplete, we are flawed and we have much work to do. we need listen to each other, without overtalking. we need speak, without animosity. we need respect, without exception. we need conversation. we need connection. each positive message reminds us that hope exists, even in the tiniest brush of paint on wooden board.

this is a time of division, to be sure. day after day i am confronted with this reality and with peoples’ brazen attempts to undermine relationship with rhetoric and falsehoods, misplaced loyalties and inaccurate assumptions, and, worse yet, words of aggressive animosity and actual hatred. i wonder what the fallout will be. will the silken gossamer threads of connection sustain? will empathy fall by the wayside? will love of humanity – in all its shapes and sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic positions, religious affiliations – all its anythings – prevail?

“we live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender.” (john o’donohue) the question is always, every single day, how will we live? how will we spend that time? who will we be?

realizing the vast array of wise words that would also be appropriate alongside photographs we’ve taken in kenosha, i chose to post these words of dr. martin luther king jr., “darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” and i added this in answer to derisive comments about protestors:

“one of the foremost protestors in this land was dr. martin luther king jr. the thousands of people who walked in peaceful protest here, even drove and marched right by our house, were walking in that spirit. there have been rioters and looters in each city of unrest. they are spurred on by the vitriol and angry words of the current president, who seems to revel in discord and chaos. the fact is, the vast majority of people who are protesting in this nation are protesting in peace. just like in kenosha. this nation needs equality – the only way to get there is to listen to those who speak, listen to those who protest. their words count.”

and then, in a fine example of what conversation has defaulted to, i was called a “cupcake”, a “snowflake” and “infantile”. wow. i beg your pardon.

and they laughed? how dare they.

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CONNECTED ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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back the **** up! [d.r . thursday]

i have hugged exactly two people since the pandemic started.

two people. one is my husband, who i’ve been hugging daily. and, this past wednesday, finally, at long last, after seven months of not seeing him, and with great forethought, i hugged my son. that’s it. no best friends. no dear friends. no sweet neighbors. no co-workers. no one else. just two. matter of fact, i had an extended conversation a while back with my daughter and, in the middle of a discussion about possibly having a long-long-long overdue visit out in the high mountains and the absolute need to hug, even mask-on-face-turned, her admonishment to stave me away from the rampant numbers there at that time, “how will you not hug me, mom?”

so walking in front of the neighborhood store, about to put my mask on, imagine my astonishment when someone i haven’t seen in almost a decade called out my name, ran up and hugged me. HUGGED me.

this was an adult! an adult exhaling cigarette smoke. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement that i was in the process of putting my mask on but hadn’t completed the motion. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement of my incomplete-mask-putting-on-action who completely ignored my stepping-back-hand-out-clear-non-verbal-please-back-the-****-up behavior.

daaaaaaamn. i was shocked. it’s a freaking pandemic. my hug-quota is sorely lacking and yet, it is i who should choose who i would like to sacrifice my safety for in order to hug. did i mention? it’s a pandemic!

when i regained my composure on the sidewalk a few blocks away, i reviewed my actions. david, who was clear i did not want to hug this person, said i sent all the right signals. i reviewed it all again. i mean, i am a huggy person and this person would likely remember me as such. this wasn’t a cold reaction to the person; it was a reaction to the social distancing guidelines that we have been encouraged to follow in order to not spread or contract covid-19. i mean, it’s a pandemic!

what would YOU do?

i suppose next time – if this happens again – i could, as fast as my mouth could manage, say, “it-would-be-nice-to-be-able-to-hug-you-but-right-now-in-the-pandemic-i-am-not-hugging-people-sorry-don’t-take-it-personally.” only this wouldn’t have worked. she came at me in a warped speed tunnel…she went directly from the curb to hugging in seconds flat without stopping, without exhaling the cigarette smoke, without donning a mask, without passing go, without collecting $200, without stopping to think, “oh yeah, it’s a pandemic! i shouldn’t be hugging her.”

or, since that likely wouldn’t work in the warp-speed version, i could say in a loud assertive outdoor voice, “back up!” or i could use 20’s spicier version of that (only i won’t print that here.)

either way, it’s alarming to be put in a position like that.

david’s momma told us about a woman who spontaneously hugged her when jeanne gave the woman tomatoes. it horrified my mother-in-law, who then went home and showered and washed all her clothes. at the time i wondered how that could ever happen. well. silly me. s**t happens.

this is such an odd time. it’s scary all the way around. we have been inordinately careful, like many of our dearest friends. we are making choices based on what are the safest behaviors. the fact that someone can just arbitrarily take away your choice – during a pandemic (don’t know if i mentioned that yet) – is bracing.

i will have to have a plan of action for the next time. practice it. evaluate it. practice it again. make it a reflex. and make it flipping obvious.

in the meanwhile, i want my hug back. i need it for people i have actually been dying to hug.

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BACK UP! from PIETA ©️ 2010 david robinson


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the pied piper. [flawed wednesday]

“while some will see the pied piper and his power as the devil, an evil entity that lures innocents away to their death, other interpretations see something entirely different: a christ-like savior.” (aimee h)

and there we have it.

this country has its very own pied piper. and in no way can this be a good thing.

“the term “pied piper”: … someone who, by means of personal charm, entices people to follow him or her, usually to disappointment or misfortune.” (maeve maddox)

without evidence nor using factual information, as is his unfortunate and biased practice, back in the early stages of this pandemic, the president of this country belittled others for wearing masks, and did not publicly himself wear a mask until mid-july, despite his presence in public places amongst citizens of this country deserving of respect and safety. his failure to make mask-wearing a national mandate in those earliest days of disease undermined the efforts of pandemic-fighters-treaters-sufferers across the country.

thus set the stage.

he pied-pipered his way all over fox news and media-biased outlets; he tooted his pipe into conspiracy theories, never taking responsibility for the safety of his populace. instead he led millions of people over the cliff and almost 190,000 people into death, simply by denying the very thing that could have minimized loss: a mask.

wearing a simple piece of cloth across your nose and mouth seems a small price to pay for a significant amount of safer passage through this time of pandemic. so it seems ludicrous and disgusting to go to the local grocery store and watch people arrogantly walk about with their masks firmly planted around their chins, just begging for someone to ask them to wear it properly. yes. the declining vigilance of the public.

the pied piper’s acolytes are everywhere and his followers are marching, goose-stepping toward what? the story of the pied piper relates that the followers – in the piper’s return to the village – were children and that those “children died of some natural causes such as disease or starvation and that the piper was a symbolic figure of death.” in easy metaphor, our very own piper, without evidence, has distilled the importance of masks to the point of dangerous disregard, pitting side against side, blather against facts, non-actions against actions, subjugating the very economy to disaster, costing jobs, homes, safety, the feeding of families, and has led this country to the brink of death.

is it his personal charm? i think not. the anger he has unleashed, the lack of moral compass, the lies, the rhetoric, the violence…his pipe-tooting seems limitless. instead of unity he chooses division. instead of health he chooses disease. instead of love he chooses hatred.

the pied piper, a self-described rat-catcher, piped to eradicate a poor town from an infestation of rats. ahhh. the metaphor continues. for, tucked into his own house-of-white, while tooting the ever-increasingly-ironic “draining of the swamp,” he and his minions have the best of the best pandemic tools and aids at their bidding. the 2000 people at the lawn rally bestowing accolades upon his every word and gesture have, likely, slightly fewer tools and aids. the millions of those watching fox news, tucked into living rooms across this country, have, likely, far fewer opportunities and far less resources to avoid or combat this coronavirus, this disease, this death.

but the one thing they could have? the one thing that is accessible to most anyone? the one thing that thousands of people sat in front of sewing machines making in the early part of this year, that are available most anywhere, from organizations or religious institutions or individual donors? the one thing that could have saved thousands of lives to date? the one thing that purportedly could still potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives?

masks.

please – vigilantly – wear a mask.

because the pied piper truly does not care if you live or die.

pied piper (noun): the hero of a german folk legend, popularized in the pied piper of hamelin (1842) by robert browning. a person who induces others to follow or imitate him or her, especially by means of false or extravagant promises.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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better humans. [two artists tuesday]

one of my sweet momma’s favorite stories to tell me, about me, was when i used to stand in place and bellylaugh. she said i would put my tiny hands up in the air and then deeply bend at the waist and bring my hands down, up, down, repeating over and again, all while laughing heartily. it made everyone nearby laugh, hearts-open. it made her giggle to tell me this old story. and each time she told it i felt deeply loved.

i remember my first baby’s – The Girl’s – bellylaugh. it was extraordinary hearing this wee child, knowing little about the world, laugh. it felt like the same miracle when it was my second baby’s – The Boy’s – turn to chortle with all his little body. their giggles made everything in the moment alright. they are deeply loved and their giggles still to this day make everything in the moment alright.

so perhaps that’s a good place to start in the quest to be better humans. perhaps bellylaughing first about the sheer unlikeliness, the improbability, that you get to live this very instant, in this very place, at this very time. nevermind the division, the hostility, the challenges, the histrionics of forces-human-designed. you are here. i am here. no matter how same we are, no matter how different we are. we are in this together. that’s a start. now commence betterment.

“so, i wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile. we may never pass this way again. that’s why i want it with you.” (seals & crofts)

he spoke about humans today. how it all really boils down to a measure of how we live in community that is the important stuff. the never-pass-this-way-again moment-after-moment-ness of how we help each other, hold each other, support each other, raise each other up, love each other, regardless of the each or the other.

momma loved the verse “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it, for i shall not pass this way again.”

maybe the beginning of being better humans is that simple. let’s share this moment. let’s be amazed we are in it together. let’s be amazed we are in it at all. let’s learn how to be in community together. even in the hardest stuff. it’s a worthy exercise to see two people or two disparate groups defuse a hot and angry moment communicating with humor, to temper down with a lightness of spirit, to divert what could divide them forever, instead focusing on how to move forward with generous hearts.

maybe “let me drown in your laughter” (john denver) is a good start. maybe love will take shape in the pause of anger overtaken by a wave of kindness and gentle temperament, an intentional defusing of heat. maybe then grace will flow in like the tide of change. maybe then we can recognize what we have been, what we are, where we want to go, who we want to become – together. mindfully knowing “we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone) maybe then we can – together – have the real conversations, sob the gut-wrenching and worthwhile cries, see our human failings. and we can take a tiny baby step toward being better humans.

yesterday a small peaceful protest drove and walked by our house. we live on a street perpendicular to the more important streets, the more likely avenues for protest. yet, right in front of us, right in front of our house, was this marvelous group of people marching and driving, chanting and beeping. we stood and clapped, joining their enthusiasm, echoing their pleas, and couldn’t have been more proud to see them go by. and we laughed in those moments of living, joining, hearts-open. not bellylaughs, but audible smiles, exulting in the baby steps, right here, right now.

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this labor day. [merely-a-thought monday]

it’s the stuff of hamburgers and hotdogs, cold pepsi-colas, potato salad. it’s the stuff of pick-up wiffleball games and music from a boombox and friends gathered in the backyard. it means going to the beach a few last days, going up north for a long weekend, going to the big box store for picked-over school supplies. it’s the three-day weekend coda of summer, the last-licks of time spent more freely, the season marker of the starting of routines.

in this pandemic time, it is a ticking time bomb.

how difficult it must be for healthcare workers to stand by and watch as americans all over this country make poor choices. these workers have laboriously teetered on sheer exhaustion these past months as they have treated covid-19 patients – over 6 million of them. these workers have grieved with over 185,000 families as coronavirus patients died, often being the only ones to witness this passing with the patients, to ease their burden and pain, to hold their hands. how it must feel to be a doctor or nurse or assistant who has tediously tended to a patient (or several hundred or several thousand patients) to see the cavalier and apathetic way people are moving about, gathering, non-masking wearing, non-social-distancing. for how blatantly have these months of labor, these months of learning bit by bit, been devalued. it’s bracing. and, for those working side by side to eradicate this pandemic, despairingly ungrateful, i would suspect. an utter disregard for the appreciation of the mountains of hardship this pandemic has created.

labor day, a “yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” would be the perfect time to recognize the endless and diligent work of the experts in medicine, research and science.

this labor day would seem the perfect time to, once again, examine your commitment and dedication to the health of this nation, to eliminating the pandemic that sustains itself off the aggressive ignorance of those who refuse to acknowledge its severity or, in some cases, its very existence.

this labor day would seem the time, a dire time, to acknowledge the way you may have become aloof to mourning the sheer numbers of people who have been affected by this contagion. it would seem the time to cease warped game-playing with the reporting of the dramatic effect this has had on this country. it would seem the time to fact-check everything you eagerly ingest about this global pandemic, a planet-changer in its own regard.

this labor day would seem the time to put aside big-picnic-wishes, kickballs and croquet sets and, instead, work toward regaining strength, prosperity and well-being.

this labor day: the time to wear masks, to social distance, to not gather in large groups, and generally, to just not ignore that which could kill you or someone you love.

read DAVID’S thoughts this LABOR DAY


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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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MILLNECK FALL from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood