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the path back is the path forward


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trail magic. [two artists tuesday]

“trail magic” is a term for unexpected generosity on the trail. it originated on the appalachian trail and includes snacks and drinks, sometimes even pancakes or burgers. hikers stumble upon this magic – it is the stuff of celebration.

trail magic is not limited, however, to through-hikes and the wilderness. though we’d love to be out on one of those trails (the appalachian, pacific crest or maybe a little more doable for us – the john muir) we are a bit more localized at the moment. in nearby areas, we hike a few trails over and over, watching the seasons change and the wildlife come and go. we recognize when a tree has fallen or when grasses have been tamped down by sleeping deer. the subtleties surround us. we notice them. magic.

this holiday season was unlike any other for us. there was no music planning, no practicing, no piles of anthems strewn on the piano. there were no rehearsals, no services, no choir parties. there was no bonfire after the late christmas eve service, no luminaria party. there were no festive gatherings, no big crowded dinners, no small dinners with guests, no happy hours in holiday finery. there was no travel over the river and through the woods, no trips to visit or sightsee or play tourist. there was no newly-purchased christmas tree – real or artificial. there were no packages under the white lighted branches in our living room or the small forest of trees i have collected through the years.

but there was magic.

trail magic – on our journey through these holidays – came in the form of a very few people who reached out. their kindnesses were the gentle touch of a magic wand and today, as we write our thank-yous, i hope to convey that to them.

trail magic – on our journey through these holidays – came in the form of a blowing snowfall on christmas eve, inches of crunchy snow in the woods, a blustery day spent inside a warm house watching it sleet outside.

trail magic – on our journey through these holidays – most especially came in the form of these tiny bits of precious time: seeing the face of my son in-person on a freezing cold christmas eve, my boy and his charming boyfriend, both warm and relaxed and looking happy despite the circumstances of these times. and seeing the face of my daughter on facetime, a delayed opening of gifts, wrap and glitter flying, and then, just minutes after our new year turned, sharing her mountain-time new year’s eve with a sweet young man, both warm and relaxed and looking happy despite the circumstances of these times. magic.

for there is nothing more magical for me than to see my beloved children looking happy. there is nothing more magical for me than to share a little bit of time with them. trail magic – on our journey – indeed.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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comfort you. [two artists tuesday]

van morrison said it: “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

how is it that, in the middle of feeling low-low-low, these sweet animals know exactly what to do? tucked under an old quilt, dogdog and babycat jumped up on the bed, searched my face and snugged up tightly right next to me, bookends on either side.

there are days – in these times – we must all feel the anguish of mental health exhaustion, of wide-awake anxiety, of worries too steep to climb, struggles, fears to which we close our eyes, wincing in pain.

there are days we reach out to others, extending words of reassurance, tiny tidbits of humor, virtual hugs, care packages, texts of love.

there are days we can only lay under a quilt. we sort and sort through the stuff-in-our-brains, listing the realities of our angst, wondering, reeling, succumbing to lonely early winter darkness.

if only it were so easy as to be dogdog and babycat. with no hesitation, they simply comfort. their response is pure. their compassion is the stuff of unconditional love. they don’t make assumptions or have judgement. they don’t assail with questions or platitudes. they don’t slough it off or explain it away. they don’t ignore it.

instead, they show up. and it is absolutely clear to me that they are saying, “i want to comfort you.”

*****

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it is my hope. [d.r. thursday]

my beloved children,

in the last few years i have become increasingly vocal, doggedly writing about the politics of this nation. i have watched an administration sweep in wearing hatred and division on its sleeve, attempts to undermine and destroy any forward movement this country has made or has desired to make on so many fronts. i have decried their rhetoric, narrative of severing, narrative of bigotry, narrative of self-serving agenda. i have pushed back against the frailty of humankind and against the furthering of prejudice and discrimination of any sort, be it under the heading of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic status, religion. i have, time and again, asked to uphold what would make the populace safer in a raging pandemic. i have asked for leadership to be responsible, to be truthful, to be one with integrity, to prize virtue. i have raised up climate change and this good earth time and again. i have cited examples of inequality. i have been open and honest about my feelings and opinions, vulnerable to assault by those who do not agree. i have learned that’s ok.

in the last few years i have become increasingly vocal, doggedly writing about the evanescence of time, the impermanence of this very life, the beauty that rises with the sun. i have pointed to moments of joy, moments of devastating grief, moments of sheer bliss, moments to memorize. i have spoken of and to the ocean and of and to the top of mountains. i have drawn pictures in the sand and let the cool waters of high elevation streams run through my hands. i have described treasured moments with you, my children, with family, with friends, with my husband. i have been aware of how fleeting time is as it races on. i have learned that life is simply that – learning.

in this time it is my hope that this country will gather its resources into its national quiver and will lead forward with arrows of love and compassion. it is my hope that this country, like committed and passionately dedicated parents holding newborn life, will embrace each and every one of its citizens, holding and blanketing them with reassurance, with protection, with a promise of doing better. it is my hope that this country will offer to you – its children and its children’s children and its children’s children’s children – new times of peace, new times of equity, new times of profound and wise knowledge, new times of opportunity, new times of kindness, and that this will surely sweep across the land from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, from sea to shining sea.

it is my hope that you both, my amazing and brilliant daughter and my amazing and brilliant son, deep in your adventurous souls, will feel the freedom promised you in the universe. it is my hope that you speak your truth, that you speak for, that you speak against, that you speak up, that you speak out. it is my hope that you feel affirmed in your lives, strong and powerful, fiercely dedicated to every breath, tenacious, and both gently kind and profoundly vehement in the demand for justice and liberty. it is my hope that you feel unconditionally loved and cherished: by me, by partners, by family and friends, by this nation, by this very good earth. it is my hope that in the moments you take a deep breath and exhale you know that your presence in this universe is light itself and is truly making a difference…forever.

i love you,

mom.

***

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SHARED FATHERHOOD © 2017 david robinson


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a meeting of the minds. [d.r. thursday]

sensitive souls, dogdog and babycat study us, follow us, respond to our auras. their questioning gazes, locking eye-to-eye contact, belie all manner of thought and wondering going on in their minds. they are clearly concerned. in moments of high anxiety, moments of shorter fuses, moments of tears, they pace, uncertain how to help, uncertain of what they might do to resolve the angst. in moments of laughter, moments of gaiety, moments of teasing, they play along, happy to be a part of the joy-joy.

lately, after deep behavioral study of us and subsequent research, they have made a few requests: stop reading the news, stop wondering when orbit-people are going to be honest and forthcoming, stop checking the weather for a late warm spell, stop worrying.

they checked in with d on this; it was a meeting of the minds. “momma is clearly distressed. she is agonizing over things she has no control over. we want to help,” they told d.

as he relayed this to me, i asked, “what did you tell them?”

he said, “i told them that, though daunting, stress is a fact of life for people. i told them that fretting, even brooding on things, is a part of people’s every day, of their makeup, that there are so many things to be besieged with, things over which to be troubled.” he continued, “i tried to explain the political chaos, supreme court indignities, the financial strain, healthcare issues, the fear of the pandemic, racial, gender and sexual orientation inequality, pointed misogynistic behaviors, the isolation…”

“wow. what did they say? what did they do?” i asked.

“they stared at me, blank-eyed, and said, ‘can we have a treat?'”

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just know. [two artists tuesday]

loves me loves me not

we passed the daisy on the trail and i went back to take a picture.  it was instant recognition of  “loves me, loves me not” as i saw it.  the questions we threw willy-nilly to the universe, the don’t-step-on-a-crack, knock-wood, bread-and-butter reflexes of our 60s-70s childhoods.

were it all still to be so easy.

i remember sitting in the grass making clover chains.  i remember the transistor radio playing on the bazooka bubble gum beach towel.  i remember playing in the woods out back with the neighbors.  i remember kickball in the street and badminton and croquet in the yard.  i remember hula-hoops and skateboards on my driveway.  i remember the “boing” the pogo stick made.  i remember koolaid and ice pops that seemed to never run out.  i remember bike hikes with sue and carvel ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles.  i remember frisbee at the beach and making apple pies.  i remember listening to cassettes and practicing piano.  i remember the trunk of the maple tree against my back, the branches holding me as i wrote.  i remember the sound the pressure-filled-from-the-sun-light-purple-hosta-flowers along our sidewalk made when popped.  i remember it was time to go home when it got dark and i remember catching fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lids.  i remember sunday drives and picking apples and kentucky fried chicken on picnic tables further out on the island.  i remember cabins in state parks and wide-eyed flirting with older lake lifeguards upstate.  i remember duck ponds and friendly’s.  i remember my puppy riding in my bike basket and ponytails.  i remember loves-me-loves-me-not.

it seemed an innocent time.  a time of marvel.  a time of safety.  never did i wonder if my parents loved me.  i just knew.

babycat just rolled onto his back, all four paws outstretched, his big black and white belly just begging for a pet.  he doesn’t ask questions.  his world is relatively small – since his kittenhood adoption, the littlehouse was the only other house he has known other than our house.  yesterday we brought him and dogdog into the basement as the tornado siren went off.  dogga was nervous but babycat adapted, finding a place to lay on the carpet.  his only demand is for food, several times a day with clockwork precision.  otherwise, he is unconditional.  his presence in my life has brought me eleven years of a gift i really needed when he arrived.

babycat is laying right next to me now as i type.  tucked close in, his snoring is punctuated only by his purring – it’s a two measure repeat in 4/4, each breath a half note.  it is the 11th anniversary of his “gotcha day” and he’s marking the day with a celebration of naps. no worry of “loves me, loves me not” crosses his mind.  he just knows.

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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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a time to close your eyes. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

sleeping dogga copy

there is little as comfortingly sweet as watching your dog sleep.  dogdog is whirling motion so when he sleeps in your presence it is a magical time of trust and deep respite.  the vision of him asleep on the bed or in the middle of the living room rug is a picture of all-is-right-in-the-world; he has no other cares except he is with his people and he can rest.

some of the times i remember most about when My Girl and My Boy were young are the times they fell asleep with me holding them, in my arms, on my lap.  the moment you feel their little-child-body relax and fall into you.  exquisite.

it’s that moment you sigh and lay your head back to nap with someone you love.  the moment you close your eyes on the beach towel in the sun, warm sand beneath you.  the moment you drift off in the grass watching the clouds.  oh yes, the moment your face plants against the window at the rest area during your long journey and a couple hours pass by.  the moment, hiking in high mountains, you lean against a tree and your eyes close to the sound of the wind in the aspens.

rest.  a time of no real conscious worry.  a time of innate trusting that all-will-be-well.  a time of repose, of tranquility, of solace.

i have found, sometimes, if i want to go to sleep and cannot, that if i watch dogga or babycat sleep it will slow my overthinking-breathing.  it will settle my heart and mind a bit.  it will remind me that my own whirling motion – physical, intellectual, emotional – needs time to rest, to curl up on the living room rug and close my eyes.

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

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“as surely as the moon affects the tides.” [d.r. thursday]

DawsonDetail copy

new mother – a morsel

“when we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves, and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live.  from that time on there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tides, and affect us in some ways more deeply than anyone else can.  our children are extensions of ourselves.” (mr. fred rogers)

i simply cannot think of a more succinct way to say this but for the words of mr. rogers.

forever changed, i am sensitive to every little thing my even-as-grown-ups-children are experiencing, celebrating, enduring, adventuring, loving, suffering, yearning for, achieving.  i feel their joy as my joy, their sadness as my sadness.

parenthood, a profound honor, in all its diamond-facets is no small feat.  the vexing complexities, the moments of sheer joy, the heart-wrenching worry, the holding-on-letting-go-ness, the unconditional love.  all of it.

like the moon, their tide surely affects my tide.  and i would have it no other way.

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NEW MOTHER ©️ 2017 david robinson

 

 


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“don’t try to get it over with.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dont try to get it over with

a dime.  if i had a dime for every time i heard, “is this you?” as i answered the phone i would possibly be a rich girl.  i am a rich girl, nevertheless, simply because of the utterance of those words.  a dime for every lifeline.

in the craziest time of life, when i was reeling, hearing the voice of my dear friend scordskiii on the phone was a lifesaver.  it was a crazy time of life for him as well, profoundly devastating.  but we weren’t alone in our individual fires.  they raged about us and we each held the other safe, just away from the flames.  were i to have gotten that era over with as-fast-as-possible i would have missed it, this symbiotic exchange of breathing-together, of MAKING-it-through not getting-through-it.  conversations of laughter, singing, telling stories, pondering, arguing points, more laughter.  hours upon hours while he drove in some other part of the country and i sat up all night keeping him company or i drove way-far-away from where he was and he talked me through what i most needed to process at the time.  or we just sat still, in our own corner of the world, talking.  really really talking.  hours of review, of planning, of sorting, of truth, of fear, of ranting.  and laughter.  i have no idea what i would have done without him.  and, despite the pain and the fallout and the ash that (still) remains after the smoldering fire was finally doused, i am grateful to the universe for making me walk through it.  for making me be present.  for not keeping me from the lessons, for giving me reasons to not try to get it over with.  it was an extraordinary time.  the lifeline he extended to me is a thread that will never be broken.  despite his ensuing here-gone-here-gone-ness, his presence will always be a part of what has woven into what looks like me, what is me.

the fire.  who are the people who will stand in the fire with you, will stand still with you, will unconditionally love you, will be your guardian, your buoy, your champion, your lifeline?  how many dimes would you have by now?

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

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practice makes perfect. [merely-a-thought monday]

the world will treat you royally

“live generously and the world will treat you royally.” (crown royal commercial)

“practice makes perfect,” it says on an index card in the piano bench of my old piano downstairs in the basement.  written in the careful-penmanship-printing of me-probably-as-an-8-year-old,  i have kept this card in my bench for over 50 years.   i’m sure there were multiple times i rolled my eyes at this, as i opened the bench to take out and work on lesson music.  i still roll my eyes.  everything takes practice.

everything.  including living generously.  there’s always that moment when you have to decide to either take up the rope, as they say, and tug back or let the rope lay still.  so much easier to pick it up and tug, letting it lay there and not touching it requires sheer grit-your-teeth-restraint sometimes.  it’s too easy to tug, to even wrench, and too royally hard to let a sleeping rope lie.

but in those moments, the really tough ones and the little ones, that you actually and intentionally choose to mother-teresa your way through, your generosity spins outward in concentric circles and goodness spreads.  goodness has a way of coming back, returning to center, with centrifugal force and your heart in the middle.  gravity draws back goodness and keeps close the spirit of all with whom you have been generous.  kindness bestowed upon you is royal treatment; it is the world treating you royally.  we are all so fortunate.  we are already receiving lavish unconditional love.  what would happen if we practiced living generously even more?

after all, they say, practice makes perfect.

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

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