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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.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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“the most grown-up thing you can do is fail at things you care about.” [merely-a-thought monday]

unicorn store 4

i still have it.  the index card is taped to the inside bottom of my old piano bench down in the basement.  these  words, “perfection is an eight letter word.  p r a c t i c e ” written in eight-year-old pencil-printing.  it’s been there – in that old spinet piano bench – since 1967, when i started taking lessons and needed a reminder how to keep the ups and downs in perspective.

i spent long hours on that bench and on the organ bench also in my growing-up living room.  what i could hear in my imagination wasn’t necessarily what was showing up on the keys.  my sweet poppo would encourage me, “remember, practice makes perfect,” he’d say.  i’d add, well, at least practice moves you in that direction.

there’s no guarantee for perfect.  there’s no route to it and any expectation that you will achieve it really is for naught.  the best you can do is the best you can do – moment by moment.   with practice, each best-you-can-do is better than the last.  and so on and so on.

it’s the caring that matters.

i have two amazing children who have shown me examples of the pursuit of how to do something, to a point of excellence, that you’ve never done before.  the keeping-at-it, toughlove-letting-go-of-judgment, the training, the practice, the trying-failing-rinse-repeat-ness of learning.  they approach new things like stoic explorers, adventurers prepared and open to experience.

it’s the very thing that inspired our snowboarding lesson earlier this year – the one where i broke both of my wrists.  every time i hear someone say, “eh, i’m too old; i can’t learn that,” i store my emotional response to that statement away in my memory bank, waiting for the day i’m about to say just that so i might pummel the words before they escape my lips.

even though my wrists broke and might never be the same and even though i cannot point to any great accomplishment or success on the slope, i would not take back the experience or the exhilaration and anticipation of learning something new, particularly, in this case, that very thing that would give me the slightest first-hand touch, not merely a window, into my daughter’s professional world.

in post-cast moments many people, aghast, said to me, “what were you thinking?  don’t you think there’s a point you are too old for that?  remember your age!”  i am more aghast at these words than all the months dealing with uncooperative wrists in a livelihood where they really matter.

knowing first-hand how difficult and humbling pure novice-ness is, i hope i can always release the suffocating self-evaluating that goes hand-in-hand with being new at something; i hope that i always care about learning.

at eight i had no idea what piano lessons would mean to my life.  i simply wanted – really, really wanted –  to learn.  i, at 8, didn’t beat myself up over getting it wrong or failing nor did i get self-conscious about my journey of mastery.  i just stepped into it.  and i cared with all of my eight-year-old heart.

we walk and talk about the day The Girl or The Boy suggest to getting-older-every-day-us that we purchase new technology or download a new app or try a new recipe or consider a new lifestyle or or or …. the day we will want to say, “eh, we’re too old; we can’t learn that.” i look down at my right wrist, which may never bend at a 90 degree angle ever again, and i remember to care.

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

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give a flying flip. [k.s. friday]

every breath

i am imploring you to help keep my beloved daughter safe.

please.

enlightenment comes through unexpected channels sometimes.  this morning i read a post by a brilliant woman who was my piano student 40 years ago. she forwarded a writing by a young woman who is a server in a restaurant who detailed her experiences in just one of her shifts.

it’s bracing.

my friend-who-was-my-former-piano-student prefaced it with this:  “I know it will feel so good to feel normal again and go out to dinner. But please, read this WHOLE DAMN THING before you do. You BETTER tip your server like they are risking their life to bring you a drink, because they f*ing are.”

the server wears a mask and gloves, carries sanitizer with her to work, stands back 6 feet from her guests at the tables in the restaurant.  the guests?  they remove their masks, which were required to enter, as soon as they sit down and never put them back on, even while ordering, even while their server is present.  it is cavalier at its best.  her safety is compromised over and over, at every breath, and she is painfully aware, as you read in her candid outpouring.

is the safety of this server any less important than your own?  is she dispensable?  is your dining-out experience so important you cannot sacrifice a bit of comfort?  where has this message of it-doesn’t-matter-if-we-protect-each-other come from?  hmmm.  let me think.  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it a fashion faux pas to wear a mask?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it seem unnecessary to protect each other?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country thinks everyone’s breath doesn’t matter?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country doesn’t really give a flying flip about the populace of this country?  if i sound pissed, it’s because i am.  enough already.

where do you stand?

i, for one, was breathless when i read the detailed narrative of this young woman’s shift.  with angry and worried tears in my eyes, i read it aloud to david.  i would love to read it aloud to you.

an expert at piecing-it-together during off-peak, My Girl, among other things, bartends and serves.  she busts her butt working hard in high mountain towns, waiting on tourists and locals alike.  she is a hard worker at everything she does and i have sat on her barstools watching her move in blurrying pace getting it done.  the last thing i want to have to worry about in the middle of this pandemic as it actually continues, despite the “leadership” and a percentage of the country’s population ignoring its steady presence, is whether or not the people who are sitting on those barstools or at the tables in her restaurant are (with sarcastic voice) oh-so-tediously pulling up a mask when they are breathing at my daughter.  i want to assume that they are.  i want to assume that the meager income she is hour-after-hour-after-hour trying to earn will not be dangerous for her.  i want to assume that the people who have chosen to go out, have a few drinks, eat a nice meal prepared by a chef, will generously, even at least appropriately, tip her.  i want to assume good although i fear selfish, unconcerned indifference.

the server ends her writing with a plea: “For the love of god..if you go out to eat please please please pull up your mask for the few minutes that your server is at your table. Why are you not already doing this?? And oh my god..tip your server like that burrito you are eating may cost them their life…”

have you gone out to dinner?  have you gone out for drinks?  did you ecstatically plan your outfit and put on your favorite shoes?  did you make reservations at your favorite restaurant?  did you pile into your favorite downtown bar?  did you wear a mask?  did you even bring a mask? or did you leave your mask at home because it’s not mandated by the local, state or federal government?  does respect have to be mandated?  does protecting each other have to be mandated?  can we choose respect and protection regardless?  there is still a global pandemic.  can we connect the dots?  can we think???

WILL you be going out to dinner?  out for drinks?  will you wear a mask?  will you carefully protect every breath of your server – someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, best friend, caregiver?  will you recognize their safety?  will you tip them for risking their life to bring you your margarita?  will you protect the others inside the restaurant or bar?  will you give a flying flip?

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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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my lullaby. for them. [k.s. friday]

i will hold you forever and ever

and as yesterday passed into today and i drifted off to sleep i knew, despite that she is on a different plane of existence, my sweet momma was holding me close to her.  it was bracing to think of the five year mark that has just passed now since she has been gone and the every-day-missing-her that goes along with that.  no different with my dad.  in a month it will be eight years and i can hear his “hi brat” in my heart.  i have no doubt that he is right there, holding on tightly.  both of them.  forever and ever.

it is a fact.  this parenthood thing is mind-bogglingly paramount.  ever forward from the day they are born.  it is all-consuming.  in every good and every daunting way.  every most-jubilant and every brutally-difficult way.  every securely-confident and every tumultuously-distressing way.  every way.

in this pandemic time of chaos we pine for a sense of normal which escapes us.  anxiety barges in and replaces our regular routines; peace escapes us.  we long to see each other.  we feel tired; we feel restless.  we sleep more; we cannot sleep.  we are astounded by the surrealness of this; we are crushed by how real this is.  and we worry.  it is hard to be away from those whom we love and knowing that right now we cannot go to them compounds it.  my heart needs to hug My Girl and My Boy and see that all is well.  we feel anxious.  our wishes go unfulfilled.

and yet as today passes into tomorrow and they drift off to sleep i know, despite how busy they may be or where they are in the world, that i am holding them close.  that no doubt can exist –  i am right there, holding on tightly.

and i hope, like you with your beloved children, that they can feel it.  forever and ever.

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I WILL HOLD YOU FOREVER AND EVER ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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“bacon-wrapped pears” [merely-a-thought monday]

baconwrapped pears

the pressure.  gee-willikers!  you simply cannot browse through any social media platform without seeing family’s and friends’ beautifully-prepared foods or rustic breads fresh out of the oven, off the grill, sizzling on the griddle, staged and plated for photos.

the pressure.  my first question is always one about wondering how, in the middle of this socially-distanced-stay-at-home-pandemic, all-these-people have all-those-ingredients in their homes at-the-ready.  we must be pretty basic shoppers; our larders are not filled with the likes of these ingredients.  we plan ahead; like you, we are shopping very rarely, limiting our exposure.  we miss our peeps at festival; we used to see them almost daily, as we would cruise about town to get fresh fruits and veggies.

the pressure.  neither of us wanted to go out to the store the other day.  we had chicken out to prepare, but, low on or depleted of fresh vegetables and potatoes, a side dish escaped us.  we did, however, have a multitude of pears, because you can’t purchase a normal amount of pears at costco; instead, it is assumed you have an army of pear-eaters and you will all devour them before the dreaded brown spots form on the outside of its smooth green-pear-skin.

the pressure.  what to do with pears, other than just, say, slice and eat them.  we googled.  every pear recipe has goat cheese in it, for good reason.  i love goat cheese and wish we could eat goat cheese, but a dairy free diet precludes that.  so we had to move on.

knowing that you must be sitting on the edge of your seat as you (maybe) read this, i’ll tell you what happened:  we looked in the freezer to see what else was there.  bacon!  now, i really love bacon.  i probably shouldn’t, but i do.  thinking we were being brilliant, we googled what you could make with pears and bacon.  those of you out there in perfect cooking/baking/inspired feasting social media land will say ‘no duh’ when i tell you we found -drumroll, please- bacon-wrapped pears!  simple!  you slice a pear into quarters and wrap bacon around the slices.  place in 400 degree oven and bake.  that’s it!  they were freaking amazing!

the pressure.  so then the pressure was to NOT post this pear-bacon-pairing-extravaganza on social media.  we sent a picture to a couple friends who knew of our facebook-meal-snack-drink ogling and we sent a picture to The Girl and The Boy.

our friends responded enthusiastically but our more recipe-savvy children did not.  i suppose they just thought to themselves:  yup.  pears.  bacon.  pears + bacon = bacon-wrapped pears.  yup.  the pressure.

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

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there is a place, a canopy. [d.r. thursday]

canopy

CANOPY 48″x48″

there is a place on a washington island road where the rest of the world disappears.  you are walking alongside forest and can see the sky as you look up, tall trees framing blue, the sound of sandhill cranes and red-eyed vireos accompanying your steps.  and then you enter this place.  the trees gently arc over the road and you are covered by a canopy; we have sheltered in this spot during more than one sudden rainfall.  even in the bright day, the green above you – which turns to brilliant umber, rich red, flaming orange during summer’s release on the forest – allows for little light.  and at dusk, while the sun sinks into the water hundreds of feet away, walking in the middle of the road, it is dark-dark, the canopy a lure for night creatures, safe in the shadows.

there is a place in a tree in the yard of my growing-up house outside the window of my old room where the branches invited sitting.  for hours i would sit there, write, ponder.  in the summer the maple seemed to grant me privacy from the world, its branches full of leaves and canopying my little spot.  a shelter.

there was a place in the wooden structure in our backyard that had a yellow awning that made a fort.  when My Girl and My Boy were little they would play up there for hours, The Boy lining up matchbox cars, The Girl often reading a book.  a special space, this little fort, it was hard when it was time to dismantle it and pass it on to friends with little ones.

these places of shelter – places of canopy – provide such a sense of protection, a sense of being held from harm – from the elements, away from others, in our own private place.  much like our homes, they can give us pause, a deep breath, safety.

in this time of distancing and stay-safe-stay-at-home, i look around our house and give thanks for its canopy of shelter, for the way it holds us from harm, for the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years it keeps us safe.

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CANOPY ©️ 2009 david robinson

 

 

 


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the ernie straw. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

ernie straw

the ernie straw.  this straw has lived in the kitchen drawer for decades.  it served the sesame-street-zeal of My Girl and My Boy when they were little-little and has made various appearances back in the sunlit-world from time to time since then.

this summer when The Girl was here house-sitting i came home and into the kitchen to find her using it to sip her pre-workout drink.  she laughingly told me, “it’s a good straw!”  i can’t tell you how happy i was that ernie was still in the drawer when she went searching for the perfect sipping-utensil.

in the last week, ernie has become my constant companion.  positioned carefully in my coffee hydroflask or perched in my water glass or teetering out of a wine glass, ernie and i have done beverage-life together.

they say necessity is the mother of invention and, particularly, this past week with two broken wrists, i would have to agree.  stuck closer to the right side of my brain as a creative thinker (although admittedly there is quite a bit of ny-style-left-side there as well) i have had to sort out how to do things, let’s say, in-a-different-way.

i can proudly say that i can put on my socks, eat my own meal with a fork or a spoon, cut a steak (with the steak knife lodged into my RH cast), put on a little eyeliner and mascara with my LH steadying my right hand (not easy, but some things are just necessary), and type.  last night i squeezed (!) the toothpaste out of the tube and surprised d with his toothbrush pre-pasted.  in bigger news, i have played my piano four days in a row.  i have 9 fingers to use right now; my right thumb is immobilized.  but there are a lot of notes you can play with nine fingers, especially at the right angle and taking your time.

ernie and i are trying to keep a good attitude.  his curlycue-ness is pretty cute and his smile engaging.  he keeps me from feeling too sad, too limited.  he reminds me that the constraints i feel right now are exercising my creative juju (he’s a ridiculous optimist).  and he, most importantly, ties me to all the years backward, where he, yes, an inanimate object, has been a part of my life and the life of my children.

i couldn’t be more grateful to have found this life-gossamer-thread in our kitchen drawer last monday, the day i was injured.  once again, something profound and something simple –  and both remind me of what’s important.

i sent My Girl a photo of ernie in my coffee vessel.  she quickly replied, “it’s a good straw!”   yes.

thank you, our ernie straw.

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

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you be you. [two artists tuesday]

you be you bus

we were watching out the window.  a balmy 35 degree chicago late afternoon and we were waiting  for The Boy to get home from work.  the bus went by touting an ad for one of the universities.  “you be you,” it read.

i personally cannot think of two people more dedicated to being themselves than my children so this post is in honor of their fierce ‘being you-ness’.  it is celebrating their ever-continuing search for who that is and their ability to both stand in and walk through the fire of growth.  it is lifting up their spirits of adventure and knowledge of what’s important.  it is acknowledging that they often walk outside what would be comfortable or secure for others, confident that they are finding their way in the space beyond the edges.  it is reveling in their zeal.  i am infinitely proud of them.  my beloved children.

you be you. indeed.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the cameras. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

cameras

1977.  graduation.  yashica fx-2.  my most-prized possession and my constant companion was the 35mm single lens reflex camera my momma and dad gave me when i graduated from high school.  it went everywhere with me and i made every reason to be out and about with it, capturing sunrises, sunsets, beaches, state parks, roadtrips, lighthouses, birds and other wildlife, my nieces and nephew.  i loved this camera and still have it, although i haven’t used it in years.  i learned about f-stops and aperture openings, film speed and depth of field – all with this camera.

somewhere along the way, automatic cameras began to reign supreme and i joined the ranks with a minolta that made taking pictures of My Girl and My Boy easier, faster, somewhat brainless.  as they were little and moments passed in lightning speed, this camera made moment-seizing more possible, although one still had to wait till the film was developed to see if you were successful.  sometimes it was the blurry photo, the funny face, the i-wasn’t-trying-to-get-that-picture photograph that are the prizes.  they are the ones we couldn’t erase, delete, photoshop, filter.  they were what they were.

i remember roll after roll, walking in to rode’s camera shop and taking advantage of their double-print deal, always sending photographs to grandparents, family and friends who were afar.  having sorted through every one of the prints in recent years, i can honestly say that i have literally thousands of photographs of my children when they were growing up.  perhaps this is the reason they roll their eyes at me now when i want to take pictures of them?

i can’t help but think of what i might have captured on film had digital cameras or cellphones with the exquisite-cameras-of-today been around back then.  video without having a gigantic vcr camcorder on your shoulder or even a smaller, still cumbersome 8mm camera, instant photos that you can preview and take over, every photo or image or video ‘fixable’, ‘changeable’, ‘alterable’.

i have to say i am a little envious of the ability of parents today who are able to document their children, their travels, their, well, every move, not to even begin to mention selfies, and instantly facebook-post it, email it, text it, snapchat it, instagram it, tweet it, snapfish or shutterfly-book-it, sharing it with the world.  it’s so simple.  their documentation will be so much more complete, the phone-camera a constant companion with no real added burden of weight or case or extra lenses or film or a flash.  the rise and ease of amazing technology.

it was with a sense of uh-oh-we-really-are-getting-olderrrrr that we happened upon the display of cameras and movie cameras in the antique shoppe.  i wanted to pick each one up, look through the viewfinder, compose a photo or two.  i was instantly transported back to crabmeadow beach with susan, climbing the fence to snag a few sunrise pictures.  i was in the boat with crunch, cruising long island sound lighthouse to lighthouse.  i was on the floor with my babies, catching their moments.

there was something magical about waiting for that old film to develop.  something that made it sometimes easier to put the camera, the device, away.  something that made it paramount to memorize -for your very own mind’s eye- the most precious of events, the most intimate details, the agonizingly briefest purity of a perfect moment in time.

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

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