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shift-key. [merely-a-thought monday]

shift key framed

summer is soon going to draw to a close.  it’s august 10 and with today’s feel-like at 96, it’s clearly not anytime too soon.  but soon enough.

this summer has been unlike any other.  in our deference to the pandemic we have limited ourselves to that which we believe shows regard to recommendations given so as not to be responsible for spreading this.  we’ve worn masks.  we’ve social distanced.  we’ve not eaten in restaurants or stood by barstools sipping wine in enclosed spaces.  we haven’t shopped in department stores or had people over in our home, and, differing from every other summer we have had together,  we haven’t traveled.  it has been unlike any other.

but that isn’t the case for everyone.  people have flocked to the beaches and water parks.  people have traveled to hot spots – on purpose, in the name of looking for a break.  people are eating in restaurants and are gathered at bars and at big backyard barbecues.  people are singing in indoor venues and are clustered on sandbars.  people have gone to little towns, vacationing and, with the it-won’t-happen-to-us mindset, placing the locale at risk, placing the locals and the health care system in that locale in a precarious way.  hundreds of thousands of people are headed to or are gathered in sturgis right now.  it’s their summer.  and, if you scroll through facebook, it’s not a heck of a lot different than their last summer.

i read a quote today that spoke to the sturgis crowds.  “there are people throughout america who have been locked up for months and months,” was the excuse for an influx into this town of 7000.  i have to disagree.  any instagram or facebook peek will reveal that people are not locked up; many people have lived summer just like they always live summer:  any way they want.

in the attention-deficit way of america, many people have simply moved on and their temporarily-outward-gaze has shift-key-shifted selfishly inward.  but we are still out here:  mask-wearers, social-distancers, stay-close-to-homers, quietly and not-so-quietly trying to mitigate this time. and we can see the others so we are disappointed, saddened and stressed and we are riding the long-limbo-wave of impossible decision-making.

the masses have spoken – at least in this country – and freedom (read: independence from the government mandating for the safety of all) rules.

but freedom isn’t free, as the old up with people song points out, “freedom isn’t free. you’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty.”

i suppose that our sacrifices count, little as that might be in the big picture.  as this pandemic continues to rage, as chaos continues to ensue, as relationships shatter over disease-disagreement, our not going to wine-knot matters, our crossing-the-road-to-the-other-sidewalk counts, our consistent mask-wearing-social-distancing makes a difference.  it just doesn’t feel that way.  the bigger picture looks bleak and my heart sinks looking ahead, fall and winter just over the we-have-so-many-unanswered-questions horizon.  whether they (in a countrywide sense) are exercising caution or not, our little part is significant.

the up with people song continues, “but for every man freedom’s the eternal quest.  you’re free to give humanity your very best.”

what is our very best?  individually?  collectively?

perhaps a nationwide shift-key would be of value.

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

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outraged. and weeping. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

weeping man (reverse threading, april 23, 2020):

…this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege (or lack thereof).  it does not care.  it can take anyone.  and so we weep.

if there is a painting that depicts the face-holding grief and prayerful yearning for hope, it is this painting WEEPING MAN.

i wonder if he weeps for those who have fallen ill, those who have died.  i wonder if he weeps for those who refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic.  i wonder if he weeps for those on the front lines, helping.  i wonder if he weeps for those who have hidden in extravagant bunkers underground in far away countries.  i wonder if he weeps for our isolation.  i wonder if he weeps watching people intolerant of the isolation that will protect others, people who are selfishly and arrogantly protesting stay-at-home orders.  i wonder if he weeps for the unrelenting non-discrimination of this contagion or if he weeps for the divisiveness of responsibility-taking, the it-doesn’t-affect-me attitude.  i wonder if he weeps for the continuance of humanity.  or if he weeps for the loss of humankind.  or, if he weeps for the lack of humaneness.  i wonder if he weeps because, in the middle of this trying and profound now,  Next will come.  i wonder if this painting is tomorrow’s tomorrow and he weeps with relief and hope.

today:

i am outraged.

where have we come since april 23 of that writing?  we have been cautioned.  we have been advised.  we have had the benefit of science, the benefit of research, the benefit of funding, the heart-wrenching benefit of experience.

we have lost 150,000 people.

and we stand to lose many more.

the shifting quicksand of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm our nation, this country fraught with division and a dedication to entitlement.  people argue for their “right” to do-what-they-want because, well, they want to.  the “we-didn’t-get-to-do-this-so-we-get-to-do-that” mode of thinking.  a warped sense of deservedness, i’ve heard it time and again.  to hell with masks, with physical distancing.  to hell with recommendations about gatherings.  to hell with self-sacrifice.  to hell with responsibility.  to hell with leadership, with facts, with example-setting.  to hell with it all.  people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country are left-and-right touting their deserved-rights to live as they wish, to gather as they wish, to travel as they wish, to do what they wish.  and the overwhelmingly whiny justification-among-justifications is because they didn’t get to do what they originally wished or planned or wanted.  wow.

and the pandemic continues.

and the people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country live as individuals more dedicated to their own desires than to the actual good of the country.  to hell with all those people dying.  to hell with all those sick.  to hell with the sanctity of each and every living human being.  to hell with all those lasting repercussions of this disease.  to hell with a spirit of helping.  to hell with a spirit of community.  whose idea was that anyway?

and so we continue to destroy ourselves – in so many arenas.  and the weeping man watches from the sidelines as the divided people lash it out in the stadium, gladiators of precisely what?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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enough. [flawed wednesday]

give peace a chance

enough.

on the back of the vehicle’s window we just passed the other day there was this sticker:  “you can give peace a chance.  i’ll cover you if it dosen’t {sic} work out.”

the mantra “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion” screamed its head off at me as i read this with distress.  but there’s this:

mass shootings in public schools, killing people

mass shootings at colleges, killing people

mass shootings at concerts, killing people

mass shootings at nightclubs, killing people

mass shootings at places of worship, killing people

mass shootings at movie theatres, killing people

mass shootings at malls, killing people

mass shootings at stores, killing people

mass shootings at restaurants, killing people

mass shootings at bases, killing people

mass shootings at post offices, killing people

enough.

peace deserves a chance.  the gun-law-less-ness-populace has had its chance.  it has failed miserably.  it is still failing.  it is breaking hearts and lives left and right.  it is placing the value of life below the value of a semiautomatic weapon.  what have we come to?  what horror must happen before legislation is put into place that considers the actual lack of need, the lack of appropriateness, the sheer lack of respect for human life for these weapons of mass destruction to be removed from day-to-day life?

“guns don’t kill people.  people do.”  yes, people pull the trigger.  yet, without guns, what would those trigger-hungry people do?  “pew, pew, pew, pew,” they would yell out while running with their pointer finger aimed at the ‘enemy’.

“you would cry too if it happened to you, ” my wise friend jotted the lyrics of this song to me.  in this country of little-to-no-community-empathy, she was making reference of these lyrics to the pandemic.  yet, they apply to any despicably irresponsible act by leadership – the lack of leadership for the covid-19 pandemic, the lack of leadership for gun control, for banning assault weapons, the lack of leadership for racial equality and addressing unrest, the lack of leadership for social justice and safety of all peoples, the revoltingly vigorous encouragement of a society to pine for more of the second amendment.

it only took new zealand six days in 2019 to announce a new national gun policy.  weapons of mass destruction (all military-style semiautomatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and modification parts to morph guns into semiautomatic status) were banned merely six days after a mass shooting.  it is assumed that gun ownership is a privilege there, not a right.  gun homicides there have been in the single digits, with the highest number of 11.

and the united states of america?

enough.

i might add:  anyone  who purchases a sticker announcing their dismissal of peace as an option should spend a little more time reading it.  “dosen’t” is spelled wrong.  perhaps that is one of the problems.  little to no thought, little to no investment in critical thinking.  little to no conversation or use of intellect.  no refrainment of an overabundance of anger and reactionism.  just a blunt declaration of violence, a creed to evil.

enough.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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a dance in the night. [k.s. friday]

slow dance

to sit in the dark.  to watch the flicker of flame on the yard torches.  to stare into the bonfire.  to listen to the crickets.  to feel cool air brush your face.  to walk barefoot in dewy-damp grass.  to slowly swirl, in time to music, in time to your heartbeat, in time to deep breaths.

we all need a break.

instead of a mind racing-against-itself in the middle of the night, we need a dance with slow.  we need a dance of hope.  we need a dance of release.

do you remember how to slow dance…in the middle of the night?

even in the bleakest of times, even in the dark.  the tiniest pinprick of light through an inky sky will remind us of the trillions of stars that are always there.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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SLOW DANCE ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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against all odds, teachers teach. [two artists tuesday]

des plaines

“against all odds and despite all the obstacles, we are going to make it.”  (marilyn monroe)

the desk and the chair were connected and under the chair was a metal book rack.  there were 35-40 of them in my tiered room, which oddly doubled as both my choir room and my eighth grade math classroom.  math 8 was the last period of the day and, to give you a sense of the personality of the class, both of the children who were later voted “class clowns” were in my general math class.  a hot day in florida, the air conditioning was competing with the outside heat and trying to keep tired students at-the-end-of-their-school-day awake.

he was sometimes vocal, but mostly quiet.  he didn’t like math; he told me he didn’t really like school.  his eyes were bright even in his sullen face.  every day i greeted him and told him i was glad to see him.

that day, when he came into the room, i sensed he was even more unhappy than usual.  it wasn’t but a few minutes into my math lesson that his desk-chair came hurtling down the tiers at me.  it didn’t hit me, but back-in-the-day hurling desk-chairs was serious stuff and i, a young teacher at the time, was unnerved.

i think back now about that desk-chair being flung, the way it was all dealt with, the intervention and the caring hearts that were involved.  i think about that young man, whose name i still remember.  i knew back then that against all odds and despite the obstacles facing him,  he had a support system and he would make it.

amid a contemporary rise of real scaled-up violence in schools, less and less is about those support systems, for students or teachers.  resources, help – both are short in supply in public schools across this country.  yet, despite all odds, teachers teach.

i shake my head at the any-day-any-school terrifying concern of shootings in the classroom.  with gun-control-be-damned mindsets determining legislation, children must practice active shooter drills.  despite all odds, teachers teach.

i think about the lack of funding, the lack of supplies, the lack of a sustainable student-teacher ratio.  despite all odds, teachers teach.

and then, i think about this pandemic.  a global threat, this country’s leadership has not risen to the challenge and, in mindblowing checkmate moves, it has mandated that children physically return to schools this fall.  in the middle of an urgent and dangerous contagion, caution is being dismissed, putting children and teachers and administration and support staff at absolute risk.  it’s deplorable.

and yet we know, foolishly mandated, that against all odds, and despite all the obstacles, teachers will teach. that’s what teachers do.

“against all odds and despite all the obstacles, we are going to make it.”

against all odds and despite all the obstacles.

but the words “we are going to make it” beg a quagmire of unanswered questions, deeply concerning worries, and matters of life and death.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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a long while. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you

a long while.

since last i saw you. and you. and you. it is dizzying. the yous and the longwhiles.

it makes me want an RV, updated map apps and a little bit of time.

i’m finding myself talking to people these days – people who have gone on to different planes of existence like my sweet momma or my poppo.  i ask them advice.  i tell them tales of the day.  i bemoan the challenges of our world with them; i wonder with them.

twenty-eight years ago today my big brother crossed over.  the transition of here to there is something of great ponderance for human beings.  we don’t know.  we profess to knowing, but we hardly know.  we only know what it feels like to be left behind, missing and yearning.  i will forever-and-ever yearn to be within embracing distance of my parents, my brother, and loved ones who have no tangible form but whose silken threads-of-being are eternally wrapped around me, always reminding me.

it’s like that for people still here on this very planet, people who we have not seen, people who we pine about when last we saw them.

truth be told, i spent the last couple of days in tears.  not slow-motion-tears that quietly weep down my face.  but the kind of tears where your ribs and your back hurt the next day; the kind of tears that swell your eyelids and make mascara application undoable.  the kind of tears that remind you how much you love someone and how much you miss them.  for me, this time, this was about my children.  it’s impossible to really explain what this missing feels like.  i can say it is wrapped up in the act of breathing, in every aspect of living a day, in the darkening of light.

the pandemic has brought exponential pain to people in our world.  suffering its disease, we worry about those who have been diagnosed, we grieve those who have succumbed to its ugliness, we wrangle with the illogical, implausible, grossly inadequate response of our land.  we are floored at those who are picking fights over this monster that is on a path of destruction which has unfathomable fallout.  we cannot understand the division and the planting of flags-of-the-ridiculous when peoples’ very health and lives are at stake; what truly matters more than that? it’s insanity: how can so many people be so lost? we try to sustain good attitudes and do the right thing.  we try to protect each other.  we try to avoid being a reason that this pandemic is spreading.  and we miss everyone we love in the process.

we wonder:  when?  when will “last” be now?  when will we see you?

and we hope, with great desperation, that it is not a long while.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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LAST I SAW YOU ©️ 1997, 1999 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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i wish. but i can’t. [flawed wednesday]

calm

it wasn’t just because of the font.  i’m sure he poured my coffee in this mug because i am anything BUT calm.  perhaps he was hoping for the power of suggestion working on me.

i wish i could write something heartening about calm. i wish i could wax poetic about sitting on a rock next to a cool mountain stream or in an adirondack chair on the back deck.  i wish i could write about the hush of rain or the tranquility of a sunrise.  i wish i could narrate moments of sustained serenity – meditative and centered.  i wish i could chronicle days of relaxation and a giving-over of worry and stress.  i wish i could report on ease of mind and a stillness of spirit.  i wish i could relate stories of soul-replenishing time shared with loved ones.  i wish i could recount adventures and goings-out without anxiety.  i wish i could write of a quiet, peaceful heart.

but right now, i can’t.  calm is elusive these days.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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we went somewhere. [two artists tuesday]

masked

drum roll.

we went somewhere.

for the first time in months – we went somewhere other than the grocery store, costco, two trips to the hardware store, a very few outdoor-socially-distanced-six-or-less-conversations or all-things-work-related.  we still haven’t been to a restaurant, a bar, a hair salon, a department store.  we still haven’t picked up curbside or gone to a barbecue.  we still haven’t seen family.  we have seen an insanely limited number of friends-who-are-family-to-us.  no one has come over.  we still haven’t had any outings with others.  we still haven’t gone to the beach or the pool.  we still haven’t rented a boat or a canoe, had a pedicure or even proper follow-up on my broken wrists.

but on friday, with more stress in my heart than i could manage at the time, we left our house and took a drive out in the county and stopped at an antique shoppe.  donning masks with paper towels in hand to grab the door handle and a plastic bag full of wipes, we entered the shoppe which had a sign that asked patrons to use “common sense” while there.  although the proprietor did not wear a mask, several of the customers had them on.  there were those slightly leering looks we have grown familiar with, but we continued on our merry way regardless.  this is wisconsin and, according to the nary-a-conscience-among-them-wisconsin supreme court justices, no one has to do anything they don’t wanna do here.  nah-nah-nuh-nah-nah.

it was nerve-wracking.  but antique shoppes are places where we are in our element so we persevered.  we didn’t linger as we usually do.  we touched very few things and were careful to social distance around others we passed in the aisles.

heartened by our little jaunt, we left and went to another shoppe just over the illinois border.  here, everyone had a mask on and every person you passed made room and verbally said, “excuse me” or “thank you” as you made eye and trying-to-be-expressive-eyebrow-contact with them.  we felt more comfortable there – cognizance of the need for caution during a global pandemic is a sign of an intelligent being, in our meager opinions.  and the people at this shoppe seemed cognizant.

it’s exhausting, but we’ll keep being vigilant.  in thinking about what we can or might do in days-to-come, we’ll still keep away from places and people and activities that are clearly not safe.  we’ll still wash our hands and socially distance.  and we will keep beating the wear-a-mask drum.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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things i learned at the little red schoolhouse. [merely-a-thought monday]

a bar owner

the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten.  built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons.  it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact.  lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.

share your toys.  take your turn.  say please and thank you.  wash your hands.  do your own work.  hold the door for others.  keep your hands to yourself.  be kind.  help others.  listen when others speak.   be respectful of your elders.  follow the rules.

i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices.  i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills.  i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.

the rules seemed simple at five.  we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them.  those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them.  the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime.  one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground.  to be THAT child was not a sought-after title.  instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.

it’s the way i feel about masks.  it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark.  this recommendation comes with passionate imploring.  it is a simple rule.  if this, then that.  conditional.   if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country.  it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease.  pretty simple, yes.  a mask.

instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that.  we see them everywhere.  it’s breathtaking.  and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing:  we will not get to go out to play.

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

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this land was made for you and me. [d.r. thursday]

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i played “this land is your land, this land is my land” on the ukulele the other day.  were woody guthrie to be alive, he may have added another verse to this song, this one depicting the russian roulette game that people in this country are playing with the coronavirus.

it’s astounding.

these are NOT normal times, no matter how much you might want to ignore that little fact. and since these are NOT normal times, you should be mindfully considering at-great-length anything you want to do that IS normal.

“from california to the new york island. from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”  when was the last time that it occurred to you that what you do affects others?  was it today?  was it last week? was it ever? what amount of sacrifice are you willing to take in order to protect others and yourself and put this country on a healing trend so that things MIGHT be able to be normal again SOME day?

are you out at the bars?  are you at a restaurant, maskless, ordering from your masked server without a care in the world except whether you would rather the sparkling water or the tap?  are you having dinner parties, group gatherings, barbecues in your backyard?  are you on vacation?  are you talking out of one side of your mouth and acting out of the other?  are you duplicitous; do you want people to believe you are being careful and mindful, but on the other hand, it is your life after all……    are you putting anyone in harm’s way?  are you renting cabins in small remote towns that have hospital/medical systems that would be stricken by a surge in numbers, something that you might bring there, even inadvertently?  are you at the beach?  the club?  the public pool?  are you making plans to go to disney as soon as it opens?  are you wearing a mask when you are outside your home? are you social distancing?  do you really care?  or are you like so many people – irked by any degree of self-sacrifice, believing you are an entity unto yourself?  are you buying into conspiracy theories and falsehoods?  do you think this global pandemic is overblown?  do you feel inconvenienced?  do you think we should just throw caution to the wind and take-our-chances?  are you upholding ignorance?  are you mimicking the repulsive behavior of a president who doesn’t care about anything but his re-election and will spout off lies to your face, your actual face?

“when the sun came shining and i was strolling, and the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling, as the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting:  this land was made for you and me.”

for you and me.  there’s a responsibility there.

today my daughter told me that someone called her an asshole when she asked them to as-per-the-law-where-she-is put on a mask to enter the shop.  and SHE’S the asshole???  this person could not put a small piece of cloth over their nose and mouth to protect others and my daughter is the asshole???

because of this person and their apathetic incomprehension and their unconscionable extraordinarily selfish behavior – repeated ad nauseam across the land that’s made for you and me – i cannot see my beloved daughter.  “it’s a pandemic,” she wrote.  “all the respectful tourists stayed at home.”  she is at risk.  the numbers are rising where she is and the people who should stay in their states-with-exponential-growth and wait-to-travel are populating her area in droves.  without a care in the world.  without giving a flying flip.  and with no shame.  and so it’s not safe there.  how dare they.

“this land was made for you and me.”  act like you belong in a community, like you belong in a country, like what happens to people across the land affects you too, like you care even an ounce for others.  it’s actually pretty simple:  don’t be an asshole.

i’m tired.  as in – exhausted.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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