reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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hold on for dear life. [two artists tuesday]

ice

i’m sure the tree held on for dear life.  perched among the big boulders on the shore of lake michigan, these trees have held on through many a storm, waves crashing past them, wind howling.  only this time it was too much.  it didn’t have a chance.

we could hear the lake from our house.  the winter storm was raging and the intermittent crashes and booms were clearly devastation-in-the-making.  when we drove big red over to see, it was astounding.  the wind, the waves, ice had torn up and thrown entire chunks of sidewalk.  boulders were thrown twenty feet.  waves pelted the gazebo that sat back from the lake’s edge.  trees were uprooted, glazed in thick shrouds of ice.  the storm came and the storm left and the lakefront was forever changed.

in the littlehouse on island we watched the shoreline fade – many feet – over the course of a few months.  waves from the south pounded the shore, eating away at earth and trees, demolishing the new dock.  what it looked like when we first lived there is not what it looks like now, merely six months later.  it is forever changed.

we aren’t big sitcom-watchers.  but we are earth-show-watchers.  it’s astounding to see how our good earth is mutating – through no fault of its own.  profound.  fires destroying ecosystems, displacing and killing wildlife, changing the horizon forever.  glacial ice melting, challenging the arctic.  earthquakes and tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis.  toxic air forcing the use of face masks, and even of oxygen, the prevention of carbon dioxide in an environment less protected by photosynthesis and more consumed by greenhouse gas emission.

i have lived a couple blocks from the shore of lake michigan now for thirty years.  the storms in the last ten years have been fierce.  each one erodes the coastline a little more.  walking along the water’s edge the-day-after made it all feel apocalyptic, these changes.  ‘less is more’ the saying goes.  then it alludes that more is even more, perhaps too much.

the tree held on for dear life.  and lost.  are we holding on for dear life?  how are we long-term helping our good earth?  how are we long-term hindering it?  do we have a chance?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

 

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our daisy. [d.r. thursday]

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if there is an icon image for us, this would be it. the full image of david’s daisy painting includes language:  you said, “i’ll be the one.” yes. you are. 

i was the one holding the daisy.  way back when now, in baggage claim, thinking he would have no idea who i was, i texted him i would be the one holding the daisy.   we hadn’t ever met yet, but our backandforthandbackandforth email letters had been going on for about six months and it was time to see the face of the other half of the backandforth.

i was nervous in the airport waiting.  i got there early, which, in and of itself, is a feat because i am not a way-too-early-to-the-airport person.  i visited the mirror in the ladies room a number of times, checking my outfit, my hair, making sure i had no food in my teeth (linda can tell you bill t. had made me paranoid about this).  the evening before, i agonized over what to wear.  a nice outfit?  a dress?  leggings and a tunic?  i ended up with my favorite old jeans, my boots and a big oversized black chenille sweater.  i needed to feel like me.

the girl in the airport restroom was waiting for her fiance to return from the service; their wedding was merely two months away.  she asked me who i was there to meet and i told her the (short) version of the story.  she laughed and said, “ah.  it’s obvious.  you two will find out you are soulmates, ” which made me laugh.  clearly that was silly.

i only knew his face from a tiny photo on a website.  i had seen photographs of his coffee cup in various settings and his paintings (which i loved), but not his face.  the identifying daisy in baggage claim – in my belief – was necessary.

that daisy was quivering when this guy with jeans, boots and a black shirt and outer jacket was walking toward me and i realized the girl in the bathroom might be right.  a kind face and easy stride, he walked up to me and, laughing, we hugged.  we skipped out of the airport, the daisy cheering us on.

the rest is history, as they say.  there have been uphills and downhills; the roller coaster for two artists living together would challenge any six flags amusement ride.  life beginning together as two grown-up adults is navigable but requires much negotiation.  two people with different pasts – one of us with children, one of us without – is full of lessons and storytelling and learning curves.  the smack-dab in the middle of middle age brings its own neuroticisms; the late 50s is not necessarily a time that you feel at the very apex of feeling good in your body.  we pay attention to health and diet and know our time together is not the decades and decades of our parents’ times together.  we try to maximize moments.  and we sometimes struggle with the feeling of starting over.  not the resilient twenties or thirties of our first marriages, yet starting again with much of the same arduous uphill climb.

so in the roadtrip of this life together were i to assign an icon it would be this daisy.  because this daisy in the painting on our wall reminds us:  i’ll be the one. yes. you are.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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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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the old green chest. [two artists tuesday]

toolchest

the old planters peanuts can sits on top of our dresser.  it is a decor mismatch, so it is not there for its color or what it offers as an artistic statement.  it is there because it was my sweet poppo’s.  he kept it in the third drawer down of his dresser.  in it he would place cash, his money clip, odds and ends from his pockets.  “look in the peanut can,” he’d say, if you needed a couple dollars.  it was one of the treasures i kept from their house, the peanut can that had made its way from long island to various houses in florida.  it brings my dad close and every time i look at it sitting atop our dresser, i feel like we had a little conversation, my daddy and i.

you already know we have a penchant for boxes.  not the cardboard kind,  but most definitely the wooden kind and the metal kind.  old wooden boxes, seemingly value-less, of greater value to me than anyone, things my dad used in the garage, things in which my sweet momma kept her paper clips. each a bitty visit from them.  we have old apple crates, old brewery lidded boxes, boxes with slide lids, boxes with hinged covers and hooks to secure them, tiny boxes and big boxes.  and old vintage suitcases.  all special boxes – places to keep the most precious and the most visually-mundane-but-emotion-permeated items.  a place for rocks or stones we couldn’t place-label anymore, a place for my mom’s wooden clothespins, a place for ticket stubs or notes or feathers or cards, a place for colored pencils, ink pens and nibs, rubber bands, a place for our nespresso pods.  it’s not likely we need any more boxes, wooden or metal.

but there it was.  the somewhat battered green metal carpenter’s chest.  its personality taunted us from the floor of the antique shoppe we were trolling with jen and brad.  i went back twice to look at it, to touch it.  we noted that jen and i touch things when we see them; brad and david stand back and admire them.  different processes.  venus.  mars.  “don’t you have to touchhhh it,” we ask?  but i digress.  anyway, we, david and i, are not big helpers-of-the-retail-world, rarely shopping for new ‘stuff’.  but this chest?  it was different.  it was old.  and it was green.

we walked away without purchasing it.

but i still think about it.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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noodling. [k.s. friday]

the art of noodling

we can never repeat it.  that piece we played together during a quiet moment in the service.  moments where notes suspended, combined with hearts and lingered in the air.  we noodled our way through it and, even just after it was over, we could not speak to how it was shaped or where it went.

it is my absolute joy to work with someone who can join me in this.  jim, our beloved guitarist, is a ready partner.  hand signals of the key, head nod count offs and we are on our way.  sometimes the noodling takes us to a more intense, busy place and sometimes it is the stuff of nirvana, peaceful, thoughtful serenity.  always it is rewarding for both of us; we share a smile when it’s done and know that the ethers now own that piece of music.  never to be repeated.

improvisation is a driving force – we play at least seven pieces of music every service.  with skeletal lead sheets we choose how to perform each one.  sometimes we liken our performance to ‘how it was done on the recording’ and sometimes we have our own agenda, working it into the style or feel we wish it to convey.  but, because we don’t simply read every note on the page (since they aren’t on the page), we know the performance of each piece will also never be repeated.  it is not likely that most realize we are drawing from deep inside, from knowledge or experience, from heart, when we play.  they likely think we are reading music that is all written out.  i don’t suppose it matters what they think as long as we deliver what we intend.  as long as we shape the service emotionally, for that is what the music is all about.

as a composer, my favorite moments, in addition to those sweet moments of harmony when we, with our respective instruments sing and can hear the lining up of the stars, are those moments of noodling.  we have no fear of what’s next.  we have no preconceived notion of where to go.  we just start.  and we follow where the music leads us.  it’s ephemeral.  it starts from the dust and returns to the dust.  and is never to be repeated.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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kneel. [d.r. thursday]

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of all his watercolors, i remember this one.  maybe it’s universe-timing but the image of a person kneeling silently in reflection, in prayer, fading into the blue of eternal sky and the hinted suggestion of sun seems particularly synchronistic.  the fluidity of line, the brushstroke revealing the image of humanity – in a transitory time here as part of the whole.  a blurry-edged fleeting existence in all of time’s galaxy.

but the destruction, the disregard, the disrespect.  people who disassociate with the truth of here and now, gone tomorrow.  intent on pillaging the universe’s glee that each of us is here, each of us is exquisite, each of us can positively impact another.  this place is a place of profound beauty, the sky and the sun sure day to day.

perhaps the lure of this painting is the inkblot-exercise.  depending on what you focus on, the figure will be there, the figure will disappear.

perhaps the point is the earnest time on our knees, whether or not literal.  the questions we ask, the things for which we give thanks, the time to focus, the imploring to help us notice it all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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winding trail. [two artists tuesday]

winding trail

the road from here to there is oft not straight.  the way the crow flies is irrelevant.  “the only way there is through,” joan told me quite some time ago.  we were talking about grief.  i had lost my sweet momma and it felt brutal; at any age the loss of a parent is profound.  i was talking to joan about it – about getting to the other side of the grief.  and she told me that the only way there was through it.  a winding trail it was, with switchbacks and no guardrails.

that has happened for me with each encounter with grief.  there is nothing easy about it, nothing straight.  the grief of loss, the grief of instability, the grief of anxiety, the grief of fear, the grief of insecurity, the grief of aging, the grief of failure, the grief of change, in all its rampant forms.

and yet, out hiking, winding trails are my preference.  a hike that takes me past hidden-treasure-vistas, a hike where i cannot see the end from the beginning, a hike that surprises at each turn.  these winding trails are gifts in the woods, in the mountains, in between red rock formations high in elevation.  there is much to see, much to learn about.  they are journeys of not-knowing.  they are journeys of wonder, of revelation.

we are not crows; no flightpath in our lives will be straight, no endpoint clear in our sight, no one thing all the way from here to there, no vector traveled without veering a bit off-course.  even reverse-threading our lives will not reveal a straight path; instead it will reveal a vast horizon of ping-ponging and circuitous route-making.  we will most definitely wind around, through decisions and opportunities, missed marks and challenges at the goal line, defining and re-defining.  living.

which winds me back to joan’s wise words of years ago, which i can still hear her saying.  the only way from here to there is through.  winding trail and all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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