reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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exit. stage right. [merely-a-thought monday]

exit

metaphorically speaking, the gravel hadn’t even settled after we pulled out of the parking lot and our newly-created-recently-released website had already been changed.  david warned me about this, telling me how tom m used to tell him this very thing about the moments – even just mere moments – after you leave a position.  you are forgotten, your ideas are left behind in the dust; you are the person who used to do the job.

i had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks and months designing, branding, carefully trying to portray this unique place in a fresh, interesting, vital-to-the-community way.  i painstakingly chose fonts and always included “xoxo” in posts.  i pored over hundreds of pictures i had taken there, looking for the right imagery to represent this performing arts center to which, just over a year ago, i had felt an instant attachment.  TPAC, a beautiful 253-seat theatre on a tiny island.  i added a small heart to advertising, social media posts, communications.  my heart was attached and it seemed apropos to subtly include love from TPAC in everything to the residents who have shared their island with it.

for the last year – until the end of the day yesterday – we, two people with lifelong immersion in the arts, have been the co-managing directors of this theatre.  on this island-you-cannot-drive-to, across death’s door from the mainland of door county, we weathered our way through waves of challenges.  we were brought there to create, to bring TPAC into next, to carefully elicit change in a place that pushed back against change.  we made dear new friends; we gauged our days and our progress by the greetings at the grocery store.  my fondness grew.

managing a performing arts center is not for the weak of heart.  it is not, as some would think, simply about booking performers into the space.  instead, it is weaving the place in which it exists into its very fabric, acknowledging the importance of the local arts organizations and forging relationships with their people, listening, working together to make the theatre accessible and intrinsic – necessary – to all.  it is fundraising, addressing personality issues, graphic design, ad sponsorship, strategizing, gently and firmly guiding.  for us, it was seeing the infinite details (i’m the detail one) and the arcing scope into the future (he’s the big picture one).  it was sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-wooden-stage-dreaming at its best and cleaning-the-backstage-refrigerator at its most practical.

we lived in the littlehouse on the water, a place we still cherish.  every morning i took a photograph over the lake; every night we marveled at the million stars in the sky.  we walked on quiet roads and hung out laundry to dry.  in the middle of enacting progressive forward-moving dreams, we had also returned to a simpler place, a simpler time.  washington island is indeed away-away and the ferry that makes it possible to come and go dictated our few comings and goings.

there were moments, as you would suspect, of difficulty, for no tiny place is immune to that, to agenda or powerplay.  indeed, no dense urban city is immune, so a somewhat homogeneous island with generations-long-standing residents proves no different.  when we accepted this position we put on our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats and, with more objectivity than those who have been immersed in the politics and life of a place for most of its tenure, we were determined to leave those hats on, despite all odds, regardless of any pressure to bow differently.  we brought heart to TPAC and we leave pieces of our hearts behind in it.

every journey has meaning.  today i grieve the inevitable exit from this place.  they will continue on, outsiders-be-gone, with one of their own at the helm to take them into next, the island way.  TPAC will continue to grow and change; there is so much potential there.  we can see it.

and today, as i close my eyes and see the traditional red-cushioned theatre seating of the house and feel the wooden stage under my boots, i know my heart will mend a bit as the dust settles.  and the key sticks in the lock of the backstage door just as it always has.

(a farewell video post to TPAC)

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

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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contrail pondering. [two artists tuesday]

contrail

on island we rarely heard airplanes overhead.  if we did, they were small cessnas and pipers, low-wing and high-wing single engine airplanes, buzzing over the shoreline heading for the small grass strip airport.  otherwise, it was quiet. very.

lately, here, we have noticed that it is quieter than normal.  we are in what is generally an approach for the milwaukee airport and we often see airplanes overhead heading north or airplanes coming across the lake in line for o’hare, south of us.  it seems more of a rarity now to hear a jet overhead.  it makes us pay attention.  it makes us look up.  it makes us ponder.

we wonder where it is coming from, where its final destination.  we wonder how many passengers are on board.  in these times of no-travel, the contrail seems a contradiction of this time, a plane leaving its mark on the day.

in my previous life i had some time at the controls of both small airplanes and helicopters.  the jargon was language i was accustomed to.  there are languages of career.  we all have them, words, expressions, theories specific to our chosen work; we learn our spouse’s language, even just enough to understand just enough.

i’m better at the controls than in the passenger seat of a small airplane; motion sickness rules less if you are ‘driving’.  i never got near the point of solo-ing on any flying machine.  there was much to learn in ground school and hours rented on an airplane or a helicopter were expensive for an already-stretched budget.  but, stick in hand, flying a helicopter over the woods of new hampshire while employed at an aviation college there, brilliant new england fall colors beneath us, i could see how the flying-bug could bite.

and now it is quiet.  a few moments ago, while writing this, a jet flew overhead.  i stopped typing to pay attention and looked out the window.  i wondered:  where is that plane going?  who is on that plane?  do they feel safe?  are they wearing masks?  did they turn their blower off?  are they sitting six feet apart?

and i pondered:  what state might that plane be flying here from?  what are the covid-19-numbers in that state?  are people staying safe-at-home?  are there protests in that state, people who are placing everyone in their ever-widening concentric circles at risk for contagion?  are there people who are laissez-faire-individualizing this global-everyone-is-affected-pandemic, rejecting commonsense social distancing and simple respectful preventative measures? are there people making homemade masks, like here, because there isn’t enough PPE to go around?  are they wondering why the federal government of fifty states and five territories is hostage-taking necessary supplies, pitting governors against each other, encouraging a competition for lifesaving devices, blaspheming good works, eliminating knowledgeable workers, warping what is important vs not important, encouraging bracing and dangerous practices?  are they shocked and dismayed at the ever-widening inequity, the gross partisanship?  are they stunned into disbelief at the absolute lack of sane and measured leadership?  are they embarrassed and profoundly saddened?

and i wondered:  when will we go on an airplane next?  where will we go? when will we feel safe?  will everyone wear a mask?  will everyone sit six feet apart?

and i thought, as we are apt to do after-the-fact:  i should have gotten my pilot’s license.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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southport cairns. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

southport cairn

wearing flipflops, our feet weren’t prepared for schoolhouse beach.  one of only five sandless limestone beaches in the world, we were picking our way across glacier-polished rocks on washington island, vowing to wear our hiking sandals the next time.  it was stunning, these smooth white rocks representing thousands of years of geology.  it is illegal to take even the tiniest of stones from this beach, but it is obvious that people need to hold these silken rocks in their hands, cairns built along the water’s edge.  it’s a place you will forever recognize once having visited there, a place that touches a sense of peace within you.

the cairns up on the high ridges of red rock were equally as moving.  stunning in the sunsetting high desert sky, the uneven sandstone edges of stones were piled in formations and i relished every second sharing this with my cherished daughter.  it is a sacred place, these canyonlands full of red rock millions of years old.

as we walked in the drizzle in our neighborhood, the sky over the lake began to take on a pinkish hue.  we approached the lakefront down by the old beachhouse and saw them, something in thirty years of walking this lakefront i have never seen: dozens of cairns stacked on the rocky beach, mazes, tiny labyrinths.

inspiring and inviting, the cairns beckoned us and we spent time in raindrops wandering and photographing.  we were quiet; you could hear the lake gently lapping at the shoreline.  mostly, it took us out of our thoughts and worries of the time.  someone had made lemonade and we had the good fortune to sip of it.

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

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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.

view CANOPY on david’s virtual gallery

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CANOPY ©️ 2009 david robinson

 

 

 


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“even chaos has boundaries.” [merely-a-thought monday]

chaos copy

chaos (physics): ‘behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions’

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we were at a meeting up north this summer when mona said this, “even chaos has boundaries.”  i jotted it down because it felt relevant.  in the midst of a contentious situation we were trying to keep our ‘do what’s best for the organization’ hats on, trying to believe that there, indeed, would be an end to the chaos.  committed to a peaceful forward-advancing plan, we kept both hands on the hats, guarding against a wave, a treacherous wave of onto-the-band-wagon-jumping, the aligning of two camps on different shores offering nothing of good import for the organization.

but there is a fine, fine line.  an infinitesimal line of crossover – where one tiny change, one more jenga block, one more pick-up stick, one more stone in the cairn, tilts the seesaw and chaos reigns.

we face, today, a seesaw of the greatest sensitivity.  like refraction, light passing through various mediums, the bend in light is dependent on the medium.  the slightest change in density yields change.

clearly, we must be sensitive.  the light we refract, our response, will determine what the next person has to work with.  if we refract less light and more darkness, darkness will exist, will be pervasive. and darkness, in the way of chaos, sussing out change and a hole in the dam, will become exponential.  where is critical mass, when the seesaw collapses, the cairn falls?

we must be sensitive.  we must be responsible.  we must respond in integrity, despite everything around us, despite the doubters, despite the rhetoric, despite the cavalierness, despite the political dogfight, despite the positioning of that ever-present caste ladder, doing what is best for each of us, for all of us.  what i do affects you.

in our own worlds, for ourselves, for all, we can strive not to pull the wrong jenga block or move the wrong pick-up stick.  choose your cairn-stones with care.

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

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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

 

aftermath

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ice ©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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laugh. [k.s. friday]

creativity is not always a serious thing.  songwriting isn’t always serious.  today we offer you the attempt we made on washington island to record our brilliant and profound song SITTING HERE IN THE SUN.  we understand, with 7 takes, if you can’t bear to watch it all.  and we understand if you are underwhelmed by the song (not to mention the angle of video recording) – when you finally get there.  but right now – at the very beginning of a new year and a new decade – we are thinking maybe the laughter is the most important song of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jaunt over to DAVID’S blogsite to see if he added anything esoteric to my meanderings

for real recordings, go to iTUNES: kerri sherwood here

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

 


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the polar antonym of hip. [two artists tuesday]

polar antonym

i would like to start with synonyms:

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.42.56 AM

and now some antonyms:

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ick.  i would much rather be thought of as “swell” than “moth-eaten” or “chic” rather than “dowdy”.  good grief.  this is full of possibilities for an emotional breakdown, an inferiority complex in the mixing bowl.

in the show schitt’s creek, moira (the ever-present, loving and compassionate mom -NOT-) is speaking to the dad (equally as despicable in his own right.)  she states that to their children they are “the polar antonym of hip”.

hmm.  is this not a defining characteristic of parenthood?  we simply cannot be hip like them.  we are not them.  our children have different hip-ness than we do; our children are swell – and will be swell – in different ways than we have ever been.

i hardly think that the well-practiced eyerolls that my daughter has given me (in my view or from a thousand miles away) are because she thinks i am “modish”.  nor do i think the radio silence in-between my equally sweet love-professing text messages to my son are because he is thinking, “wow!  my mom is supercool!”  it is part of their job to think we are un-hip.  it is part of their journey in life to think we are “antediluvian”.

it IS the circle of life.  forget rafiki and mufasa and the lions and all.  the circle of life is the circle of hipness.  you are hip until you are no longer hip.  the line is foggy and you will not be notified until it is too late.  there is no expiration date or deadline for payment.  it just happens.  the crease between your eyebrows is deep and the waistline on your jeans slowly creeps up from your hips.  un-hip.

but such is life, as my sweet momma would say.  maybe it’s time to embrace being ‘the polar antonym of hip’.

i will not be whipping out the credit card to try and stay ahead of it.  ‘hip’ is untenable.  the silky threads trailing behind it escape grasp.  my boots and flipflops and black shirts will have to be my new ‘hip’.  my philosophy of less-is-more will have to be my new ‘hip’.  driving big red and littlebabyscionwithhundredsofthousandsofmiles will have to be my new ‘hip’.  listening to john denver and james taylor and carole king will have to be my new ‘hip’.  trying to keep being an honest artist in this world of machinated stuff will have to be my new ‘hip’.  and my jeans, sitting sort of on my hips, will have to be my new ‘hip’.

and i will hope-against-hope that maybe, just maybe, my children will think, “wow!  mom’s pretty hip.”  (only even the word ‘hip’ isn’t ‘hip’.)

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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not. [two artists tuesday]

kindnessSCHITTSCREEK.jpg

granted, schitt’s creek is not a shining example of serious shows.  nor is it the apex of intelligent, thought-provoking viewing.  but we had run out of parenthood (still sniffling over the bitter end) and this is us and everest movies and documentaries and decided to try on something new.  we chose schitt’s creek.

it quickly became apparent to us that the humor in this show was not necessarily in alignment with our sense of humor, but we watched anyway.  we decided it was a study.

the stunning moment came when one of the characters looked at another and, in complete candor, said, “kindness is a sign of weakness.”

we sat and looked at each other, the glow of the moon on water out the window.  we dove deep into those words.  after much debate and a search for profundity, we realized that in this country, at this time, with these circumstances, it was a true statement.  kindness is not where it’s at, not what gets you ahead.  it is without power and control.  its calmness is terrifyingly missing in national goings-on, in international goings-on, in dealings with people even close-up and personal with agendas that serve only themselves.  kindness has left the building in more places than we would care to think about.  but a weakness?  not.

beaky, my sweet momma, said, “be kind.  be kind to each other.”  and she damn well meant it.  it may not have served her as well as being arrogantly demanding might have.  it may not have served her as well as being haughty, nasty, biting might have.  but it leaves a legacy for her that i am proud to speak about.  it is a rare treat to see someone not take sh*t from someone else and do it with strong backbone in a kind way.  my sweet momma was well-practiced.

and, i might add, she was not weak.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

click here for a link to BE KIND buttons

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and, if you wish:  more BE KIND merchandise found here

 


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the music waits. [k.s. friday]

wait a while songbox

there was not room on island for my piano, sheets of blank score paper, baskets of notebooks of lyrics, melody smidges, chord progression fragments.  they waited at home for my return.

consumed by many tasks and layers of work since we arrived back home, we are surrounded by boxes and bins still unpacked.  there is much to do.  we have many other things tugging at us and these packed boxes, although frustratingly in the way, have sunk to a lower rung on the list of things-to-do.

i have been in and out of my studio, grabbing music as i need it, playing through a piece here and there, reviewing music for work.  i have added a few notes to notebooks, to my calendar, a line of lyric here and there to remember on scraps i hope not to lose.

the other day i pulled out cds, finding a few with pieces that didn’t get tracked.  rough cuts of piano for under lyrics, rough cuts of piano instrumentals.  every artist has them…the cuts that didn’t get finished, the cuts that didn’t make it to the album.  scraps of paper, notebooks of ideas, rough cuts of beginnings.  they all eventually lead somewhere.  no idea, no melodic gesture, no lyric stands alone.

and so, my really beautiful big resounding piano waits for me as i am quiet.  pencils i’ve saved from The Boy’s and The Girl’s pencilboxes sit atop, next to blank score paper, notebooks and pa pads.  they all wait.  the muse waits.  the music waits.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAIT A WHILE ROUGH CUT et al ©️ 1995-2019 kerri sherwood