reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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two artists tuesday #2

card with frame be kind jpegmy sweet momma had a favorite quote.  it reads, “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.”  (this is generally credited to stephen grellet.)  the thing about favorite quotes and humanness is that sometimes we tout them, but fail to live by them.  momma really truly lived by this one.  she chose kindness, even over her own comfort, even over how she might humanly default in a given moment.  a little card with this quote hangs on a piece of tin in our kitchen.  being thready and all that means i love to gather things around me that remind of, well, things and people and places and ideals and moments.  mmm…you know what i mean.

ptom recently spoke about what it means to be in community…what building a sense of community boils down to.  he answered his own question, “radical kindness.”  can you imagine a world – everywhere – that was radically kind?  KIND.  sheesh.  what on earth would happen?  if kindness was everyone’s first response.  if everyone led with kindness.  if kindness superceded competition and agenda and reactionary anger and brazen cruelty.

when i drew this image i have to say i had never before noticed that the word “kin” is IN the word “kind”.  somehow it hadn’t occurred to me.  but after i drew all the stick people in a field of hopeful yellow scribbles (representing sun and warmth and generous days) i saw the word KIN.

be kind.  be kin.  yes.  we-are-all-in-this-together.  in the whole wide world.  should be simple, eh?  this week’s melange two artist tuesday.

BE KIN/BE KIND MERCHANDISE

mug BeKind

TWO ARTIST TUESDAY

www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange

check out DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTIST TUESDAY

framed printBeKind

be kind tote bag

be kind. ©️ 2016  kerri sherwood & david robinson


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two artists tuesday #1

SWEET POTATO copyvery early one cold december morning, a few years ago now, my sweet momma called.  it was early even in eastern time.  but momma had something to say.  she had had a heart event – cardiomyopathy – an event that mimics a heart attack and is dangerous – but is called “the broken heart syndrome”.  my momma’s heart was broken; my dad – her husband of nearly 69 years – had died.

on this pre-dawn phonecall with her she told me she just had one thing to tell me.  “live life, my sweet potato”, she said.

i knew she was fearful.  that was why she called so early.  her message still rings in my ears.

when we were playing with designs as TwoArtistsMakingStuffForHumans this saying found its way onto a sweet-potato-orange field.  later, david purchased it as a framed print for my birthday.  it hangs in a cherished spot as you leave our front door, reminding us – as we go out into the world or as we come back into our home – to live life.

we chose it to be the first of our two artists tuesdays to share in the melange.  not because we hadn’t already shared it.  but because it bears repeating.

thank you, my sweet momma.

LIVE LIFE, MY SWEET POTATO

two artists tuesday

www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange

live life, my sweet potato ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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quirky quirks.

FullSizeRenderwhen i was 38 i got a package from my sweet momma. of course, it was from poppo too but he was pretty much a follower on this one. i excitedly opened the big box and there was a note inside. it read something like, “surprise! it’s about time…thought you could have one of these now.” curious, i continued to rapidly unwrap.   inside this simply wrapped gift (for my momma had to mail it to me across the country and everyone knows that those sticky bows get squished when you mail them) was —- wait for it —- a barbie doll with chandelier earrings in a huge party dress with pastel flowers glued onto it! now, that – blossom beauty barbie – sounds like an unusual gift at 38, but you have to know the back-story…

my momma would not let me have a barbie when i was growing up. ahead of her time, she felt that the barbie-body was somewhat unconscionably derisive for women and the feminist in her was railing against having her own little girl fall prey to that attitude. and so, she never let me get a barbie of my own. instead, she got me the doll penny brite, an adorable, flat-chested, bright-faced, modestly-dressed doll who just looked 1960s happy. a little later i got a skipper doll, who was barbie’s younger sister – clearly she hadn’t inherited the same physical genes barbie had. not being particularly well-endowed myself, in later years, i teased my mom that she had given me nothing to aspire to, but she just pursed her lips and tried not to laugh.

so this was a big deal – getting a barbie from my momma. it’s too perfect that it happened to be one of the tackiest barbies out there. but i received this from her when i had my own little girl and she probably guessed i was about to start buying her some barbies (so as not to be “the only one” in her group of little girlfriends without one, like me, still recovering from non-barbie-ptsd.) momma was quirky that way.

we were driving the other day and had to head into a shop that was on the other side of the street. i said aloud to d that i was going to “go up to the light” so that i didn’t have to cross traffic (in my defense, it would have taken forever to cross.) oh no! words coming out of my mouth directly from momma. she had this thing about crossing traffic. she would give me directions to get places all by making right turns, just to not cross traffic. it didn’t matter how much or how little traffic; she just preferred not to cross it. quirky, eh?

once, my sister told our momma that she had a friend who was struggling financially and had little children to feed. the little boy loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the subject came up that he liked the little containers of jelly you get in diners when you eat out for breakfast. after that, my sweet momma never ever passed up the chance to take those little containers of jelly and wrap them in her napkin to put in her pocketbook (aka purse) so that she could save them for this little boy. even at assisted living, she encouraged everyone at her table (and other tables) to “save your jellies” so she could collect them all. now, it would have been easy/easier to buy small jars of jelly and peanut butter to give to this young woman for her children, but momma was on a quest…jellies it was. quirky.

this morning we laid in bed a little longer with our coffee and talked about momma. two years ago, right about now, the very moment i am writing this, my sweet momma took her last breaths on this earth. i cannot believe it has been two years; i cannot believe it has been only two years. both are true. and i’m betting that you can read, without the words, that i miss her…beyond words.

i’m sure there were times between my growing up and now that i found myself saying something or doing something or having an expression on my face that was identical to my sweet momma’s. i’m sure at some of those times i rolled my eyes thinking “whattheheck?” and trying to push back the momma-isms. i’m betting the girl and the boy find themselves every now and again thinking, saying, doing something that makes them push back at being a little like me. sometimes, we try so hard to escape the genetics, until one day, we realize we are damn proud of some of these traits, some of the quirkiness, some of the same gestures or expressions or….

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clearly, i wasn’t ready for the barbie doll until i was 38. maybe i’m not even ready now. penny brite wasn’t so bad after all. i’m grateful my mom stood against the prevailing winds of pop culture, opting for something different. i’m grateful she wanted her family to not have to cross traffic, figuring out, with her very analytical mind, how to get people from point a to point b in a safer way. i’m grateful she collected the little jellies for someone who needed them. and i am grateful for the quirks.

 

 


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“hygge”

img_0576in today’s paper there was a brief article about “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-ga”) a danish word that means “the concept of coziness, the absence of worry.” it referred to sitting under blankets, gazing at a fire, watching the snow fall outside, lighting a candle, reading a book…all seem to embrace the moment, not obsessing or feeling guilty about the options we didn’t choose for those moments, but making a deliberate effort to self-care.

we are reading a book together. it is about the quaker way of life. we are only a few chapters in and i am stunned at how it resonates with me…living in the tenets of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality…quite frankly, the bottom line of the very takeaways i feel in any religious organization with which i have participated. i’ve been a minister of music for churches for about 27 years now, on and off through the years.   and the bottom line for me in each of those places, the faith in my heart, is summed up best by the words i just listed. the love of each other in a community joined together by joy and common basic tenets for living.

coziness in the way it was described in the newspaper article speaks to that simplicity. coziness doesn’t come from too much stuff gathered around us…that would seem to beget confusion…instead the quilt, the fire, a simple candle, mother nature…the things that are right there waiting for us…are the things that bring me the most joy.

there is a quilt that came out of my hope chest (how’s that for an old-fashioned term?) that is now gracing our bedcovers. there is something magical about this quilt. we have other quilts as well and have used them, but for some reason, this quilt has brought us sound sleep, deep rest, a warmth that is unparalleled. i believe it came from my sweet momma’s mom – my mama dear, as we used to call her – and it is a combination of

handsewn work and machine seaming. it was created in a simpler time and maybe it’s that history that makes it magical. it is like sleeping at linda and bill’s house…in a quiet room, in an antique bed, under gorgeous old quilts…true indulgence. this old quilt on our bed is one of the joys in my life.  simple stuff.

now, don’t get me wrong. i am one to definitely appreciate the things that this modern world offers us. the posting of this post is evidence of that. last night i was totally reliant on my cellphone as the girl traveled many hours through mountain roads in the cold night. when your (stubborn and fiercely independent) daughter is driving over mountain passes and there is snow and ice, the ability to have her check in with you is priceless – sending a text from points along the way, reassuring me that all was going well. and, like any mom, i would have fought to the carpet had someone taken away my cellphone during that. the moments that i can facetime with the boy or the girl are gifts beyond needing explanation. modern is good.

but i appreciate the balance and i feel, as i am getting older, more a desire for time spent in the simplicities.

i am finnish and norwegian (as well as irish and a little tiny bit of english) in ancestral background. as much as scandinavians sometimes draw lines of distinction, i am wondering if somewhere in there…is some danish….because i have to tell you, HYGGE really makes sense to me.

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GOOD MOMENTS on itunes: kerri sherwood – track 2 on THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY

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don’t get losted.

img_2688he said it to me every time i left the house or hung up the phone…”don’t get losted, brat.” i smile every time i think of this and i talk to him. i know he can hear me. i’m not sure if he is saying anything back, but i’m sure he’s there. my poppo taught me so much…i find myself quoting him often, using the knowledge that he somehow conveyed to me, even when i didn’t know that i was absorbing it (ie:  listening.)   he was a real rube goldberg kind of fixer….he could fix anything. i find myself trying to follow his lead. every time i fix something or devise some sort of daddy-o kind of method i say, “my daddy would be proud!” he’d be 96 today. he would be an awesome 96. and i wish that he and david could hang out together, because david would have loved him. no doubt.

momma-daddy-and-metoday is also my mom and dad’s anniversary. (momma married daddy on his birthday “so he wouldn’t forget”.) they would have been married 73 years today. “wow-ee,” she would have said. i celebrate their love, their joy with each other, their tenacity, their patience, their steadfastness, their being-my-parents.

last week was our anniversary. the first. kind of odd when you consider our ages. it’s been a fast year. it’s been forever since that day. what is it about Time?

with early morning steaming mugs of strong coffee, we walked to the rocks to watch the sunrise over the lake. there is nothing like a sunrise to make you feel alive in the morning. we had wanted to watch it the day of our wedding, but we were both exhausted from five days of great fun with family and friends who had gathered around us and we missed it in lieu of warm blankets and a few more minutes sleep.

sitting there, we decided that we wanted to catch the sunrise every anniversary from now on…to welcome in a new year of adventures, a new year striated with sun and clouds and blue sky and grey days, warm air and freezing toes…new years to come and past years to celebrate.photo-3

later that anniversary morning, we sat on the deck and read our wedding aloud to each other. the readings, the poems, our roadtrip email entries, our vows. we are both, as it turns out, pretty ritualistic so this was powerful stuff. if you ever want to really remember why you got married, i’d recommend doing this. there is nothing like threading together.

this morning we talked over coffee. we talked about the last few years and the stuff of them. the ups and downs that we rode together, the joys and sorrows we felt together, the easy stuff and the hard stuff. we celebrated dogdog and babycat laying on the bed together with us. we talked about our anniversary. about what is actually important to us in this world. and what’s not.  and today….about my momma and my daddy.

and about one sure thing…that we both know…

together…hanging on tight…just like momma and poppo…we won’t get losted.

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liverwurst for lunch.

me and momma talkin

each load of laundry i put in today i am thinking of her. it’s been a holiday weekend with tons of things going on plus a busy week prior to that so the laundry has piled up. my sweet momma loved those piles and took great solace in the act of doing the laundry and having clean, fresh clothing and linens. so today, the day that would have been her 95th birthday, i also am taking great solace in doing the laundry and having clean, fresh clothing and linens.

we sat down together on the deck a little earlier and had a big bowl of fruit. what is it about already-cut-up-fruit that makes it taste so much better? i am vowing to make a huge bowl every week – spend some time cutting it up early in the week so that we can pick off it each day. watermelon makes me think of her, so each of these bites we take we chat about her. i wonder if there is lemon meringue pie or cheesecake in heaven; he wonders if she is having liverwurst for lunch. liverwurst is one of her favorites so i’m pretty sure it would be on the menu. not on my menu though.

liverwurst lunch

the last time i saw my sweet momma enjoying her liverwurst.  i always teased her about it.

that was one of those weird lunches i used to have in elementary school. i was the only one with an off-brand white bread or even -sheesh- rye bread, liverwurst and mayonnaise sandwich, all wrapped in wax paper. everyone else had cutesy sandwiches with fixings from the deli all wrapped in a glad bag. i had a sandwich bag of chips; they had pre-packaged lays or fritos. i had a whole apple, vying for the opportunity to get stuck in my teeth; they had oranges all sectioned in a baggie. i had a re-purposed bag of some sort (from a trip to the hallmark store or genovese drug store); they had the traditional brown paper lunch bag. but…now i’m thinking…what i wouldn’t give for a sweet-momma-packed-lunch these days.

we lit a candle earlier for her and we are leaving it lit all day. i want to feel her close by. i miss her. she would have loved the fireworks last night; her oohs and aahs would have momma effusive at shaynebeen cheery and boisterous. i learned about being effusive from her. she is the reason i know it counts to be effusive. each time i walk past the candle i cheer inside and i think of her.

we have a new grill. the last grill i had was put out to the curb a couple years ago. i’m astounded to think it has been that long. i put that grill together all by myself. i wrote to my friend frangelly that there were a zillion pieces, all in shrinkwrap, covering my dining room table. it took me three and a half hours to put it together and when i was done i stood back and thought, “wow…it looks like a grill!” the first time i lit it i took it into the middle of the street…i didn’t want to take the chance that some little piece i had misplaced or forgotten or something would make this new grill blow up in my backyard. (it didn’t blow up, by the way, and it lasted the next several years, so i am chalking that one up as a success – and – i am crossing putting grills together off my bucket list. from now on, we will buy them assembled.) i am the type to grill year-round, shoveling snow to the grill so that veggies and chicken and burgers and yes-i-live-in-wisconsin-brats can have that “grill” taste. what have i done for the last couple years without one? anyway, we have a sparkling new one now. we were going to use it yesterday but then i thought (in true thready fashion), “wait, maybe we can get some great steaks and grill them on momma’s birthday tomorrow. she loved a good steak on the grill and that will be a great way to christen it.”

now that it is the tomorrow of yesterday i am not feeling so much like going to the store to grocery shop. momma cutie-pie faceinstead, in my quieter day at home, surrounded by laundry baskets, my at-his-drafting-drawing-table-husband, dogdog and babycat, still in sweatshorts and a tank top, no shoes and no makeup, i’m thinking that maybe yesterday’s leftovers would be a better idea for dinner tonight. momma loved leftovers. they will make me think of her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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i blame my sweet momma.

IMG_1799three weeks ago we loaded a 5 1/2 foot long piece of driftwood and more rocks and shells than we could count into the xb to drive home. with sand everywhere, we carried back to wisconsin with us morsels of my life on long island…pieces of the north shore and my beloved crab meadow beach, pieces of the south shore and the fierce atlantic ocean.

i have always always collected rocks and pieces of wood. i’d like to be able to say that i could identify each one and its origin, but i really don’t know.  the easier ones to identify are the ones my children painted for me, all of which i saved.  but now all the pieces of my life that i have carried have blended into each other, blended into who i am.

for me, the piece of quartz or granite, the sedimentary rock with mica flecks, the conglomerate somehow arriving in northport, the clamshell that had been home to some northeast clam, the sand in a bag, pebbles, flowers from the field, grasses that dried in the woods…all important souvenirs – unlike a perfunctory t-shirt – things that ground me, help me remember, things i can touch.

my sweet momma loved rocks too. growing up we had a rock garden out back and their tv stand was a huge slab of rock that they moved on a moving van down to florida with them when they left long island. i always knew that i could give her something made of rock, made of wood, something natural, something organic, and she would celebrate it….with all her heart. she got it. that feeling of staying connected with the land she loved, the earth, the very soil, the very spot that gave her a memory. i get that. the rocks around our pond and scattered inside our house, the pebbles in my purse, the 6 foot long aspen branch in our dining room are evidence. the driftwood – and the sand – on our table make it clear.

i am thready, just like my sweet momma. i blame her.

thank you, momma.IMG_1853

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itunes: kerri sherwood