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the path back is the path forward


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ferdinand. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

ferdinand

i distinctly remember my sweet momma talking about FERDINAND THE BULL.  she would refer to him from time to time, a twang on the third syllable slipping into her new york accent.  i am wracking my memory for her other wise words about him.  my guess is that, despite not remembering her exact words, her message isn’t lost on me.

FERDINAND is a book published in 1936, the story of a gentle bull who loved to smell flowers (aka “flowuhs”).  he spent his time sitting under a tree, daydreaming, sniffing flowers.  upon finding himself in the madrid bullfighting ring, he sits calmly in the middle, refusing to take the bait.   the grace of a mashup of “i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.”  (oriah mountain dreamer) and “when push comes to shove, don’t.” (unknown)  we have much to learn.

FERDINAND was performed by the Washington Island Music Fest this past week and was among my favorite moments of this two week music festival at TPAC.   it was sweet on many levels, read aloud, depicted on violin, slides of the original illustrations on screen.

and my momma, in my mind’s eye, reminding me to be like FERDINAND.  a bull, by definition fully expected to want to fight, presumed to fight, just like all the other bulls – and yet, brave enough to be different, to sniff the flowers, to turn away from participating in dissension or violence, to be at peace being true to oneself.

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

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island prayer flags. [two artists tuesday]

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on march 19 of this year i wrote about our prayer flags.  the ones at our home, i cherish their presence as they flutter in our backyard breezes.  the prayer flags in this post are at our littlehouse on island.  they stretch between a tree and a covered wooden rocking loveseat that plants itself firmly gazing at the lake.  my sweet girl got me these as a gift, from the same little shop in ridgway, colorado that our home-prayer-flags come from.

the lake breeze is stronger than the breezes in our backyard; sometimes the flags are horizontal in its fury.  the threads are loosening, loosening; the prayers are flying, flying.  these little prayer flags are already more quickly tattered than the ones we have at our home.  prayers for peace, compassion, strength and wisdom are perhaps more zealous these days, perhaps more often, perhaps more imploring.

at the end of this season we will gently take our prayer flags down and wrap them in soft cloth or tissue.  we will thank them and put them in our special box to bring home with us.  perhaps they will then hang with the flags-in-the-backyard.  or perhaps, after a time of flying and more reassurance than i can explain, they will rest.  we will see.

“we pass under them every time we leave the house and every time we return.  our prayer flags fly between the house and the garage…a welcome sight either way.  although better given to you as a gift, we purchased our flags in a little shop in ridgway, colorado and i consider it a gift that we were able to spend time in that tiny mountain town in the san juan mountains.  these flags represent that place to us, that time, and so much more.

each color is symbolic of an element…white is air and wind, blue is sky and space, green symbolizes water, red is fire and yellow is earth.  flying these in a specific order produces a balance of health and harmony.  flying these promotes peace, compassion, strength and wisdom; the wind blows the prayers into the universe.  i cannot think of  more visual evidence of constant prayer.  it matters not to me what religious practice is associated with them.  the prayers are so much bigger than that.  everything is bigger than that.

every time we watch any depiction of an everest story, there are multitudes of these buddhist prayer flags.  they grace base camp and the summit and each camp between,  the prayers issued by those people seeking to reach the highest place on earth.

we can’t claim trying to reach the highest physical place on earth.  but we can claim seeking peace, compassion, strength and wisdom, a balance of health and harmony.  for me, for us, those things are the highest place on earth.” (march 19, 2019)

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click here to browse or purchase ISLAND PRAYER FLAGS as wall art

island prayer flags - the five elements

click here to browse or purchase ISLAND PRAYER FLAGS – THE FIVE ELEMENTS as wall art

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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island prayer flags photograph ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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leave a mark. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

seagull prints copy

years ago when i turned 30 we celebrated by going to the zoo.  we spent the day, along with my parents and my niece, traipsing around admiring animals, learning factoids, taking pictures, eating ice cream.  i’m not really a zoo person.  i prefer to think of animals living happily in the wild, supported by a world that is thoughtful, careful and ecologically minded.  but i do recognize the need to conserve endangered species, study wildlife and inspire education and preservation of species and their natural environments.

it just so happened that the day we visited this zoo, this day that i turned the big 3-0, they were pouring cement sidewalks.  there is a wee letter ‘k’ in that sidewalk.  a mark.

we all want to leave a mark.  is it an invention?  is it a passing-down of a precious heirloom?  is it a name on a bench in a personal, special place?  is it a work of fine art, a painting, a piece of music?  is it a story?  is it a world record?  is it a mindset?  is it a way of being on this good earth?

i’m not sure when they last poured the surface on townline road.  but on that day, a certain seagull decided to leave a mark.  it walked across the freshly poured street – pad, pad, pad – and, until they pour again, its mark will remain.  we smile every time we walk past this set of prints, wondering aloud how long they have been there.

as we continue our time here, we are aware both of the mark we are leaving and the mark people are leaving on us.  in many years from now, when the road is paved over and we are no longer, i would hope that most of us led with the mark my sweet momma left, “be kind to each other.”

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

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our posse. [merely-a-thought monday]

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we are five hours and a ferry ride from our basement.  but we have an amazing posse of friends back there on the mainland.  my girl has taken up residency keeping an eye on our house and our posse is keeping an eye out for her.  we know that, no matter what, someone is but a phone call and minutes away from any kind of help she – or our house, basement included – might need.  and in that, we rest easy.  such generosity.

the humidity and heat has been high in southeastern wisconsin this summer and our basement?  in a line from my big fat greek wedding, it suffers.  one dehumidifier is not enough.  worried, we texted our up-north-gang up north to ask advice:  “in a non-centrally-air-conditioned house, how many dehumidifiers would you put in the basement?”  immediately we got back answers from jay and gay, opinions from charlie and dan, and within days dan brought over a dehumidifier, installed it and checked on the one already there.  thinking about the cluttered basement, we texted to him that while paying attention to the basement to please ignore the basement.  he texted back, “i didn’t even notice the basement.”  generosity.

we ran home for a night a couple weeks ago.  we ran errands, we installed the a/c units in the windows, we grocery shopped, we weeded and vacuumed, we prepped the house for our girl’s arrival.  we picked up mail and packages from john, shared drinks and not-enough-stories with jen and brad, ate a late dinner with 20, had quick before-she-went-to-work coffee with michele.  in their busy schedules, our beloved posse dropped everything and made time to see us, time to spend together.  generosity.

we couldn’t be here without our posse there.  fact of the matter is, we couldn’t be THERE without our posse there.

because it takes a village to take care of a basement.  and each other.

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

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welcome sign. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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the first time we went to the tiny farmer’s market on island we ran into a few people we had just met.  new friends, they stopped to chat for a time and tom said, “the whole island is a welcome sign.”  that seems to be true.  a welcome sign.

yesterday we heard about people standing in line in the little grocery store.  the clerk and the customer checking out were having a chat.  no one in line interrupted.  no one shuffled their groceries.  no one shifted from one leg to the other, impatiently sighing loudly.  they just waited.  and then, when it was their turn, they had their own chat with the clerk.  the grocery store is a welcome sign.

we were walking down the road arm in arm, a few miles from home, and an old light blue pickup truck pulled up next to us.  a sweet old man leaned out and said, “you two lovebirds want a ride?”  we laughed and said that we were out for a stroll.  motioning to the bed of the truck, he told us he had plenty of room but added, “it looks like you are doing just fine.”  we chatted a minute more and he pulled away.  a welcome sign.

we were obliviously riding our bikes on the road, looking for deer in the woods.  talking quietly and laughing at my attempts at no-handed riding (which, by the way, came back after a try or two), i suddenly realized there was a car behind us.  i motioned quickly to d to pull over in front of me and get out of the car’s way.  as it passed, i called into the rolled-down window “sorry!”  the driver called back, “no worries!  enjoy your ride!”  no horn beeping, no revving of engine, no grumpy voice, no gesturing.  just a “no worries!”  a welcome sign.

it’s a sweet thing, this welcome.

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

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slow. slow. [two artists tuesday]

deer in woods copy.PNG

slow. slow.  when we drove home the other day, we realized how very slowly we were moving here on island.  the comparison began the instant we were on the mainland.  we hadn’t driven over 40mph for a couple weeks; suddenly we could feel the push, the frenzy to get somewhere, fast, faster.  it’s pervasive, that frenetic energy, and the closer we got to milwaukee, the more we could feel it.  our heartbeats raced as cars darted in and out of lanes, as horns beeped and drivers gestured impatiently.  no one noticed each other.  they just drove, destination their only intention.

slow. slow.  we walked home the other night.  after porch-sitting and having a short meeting, we ambled down the middle of the road.  no one was coming; no one passed us.  the interruption in quiet would have alerted us to any oncoming car.  we shared the woods around us with a deer, who was still, watching us for signs if we were going to approach.  our pause on the road and our slow movements convinced the deer to not run, but to stay and just be still.  to watch.  an eagle flew above us.  looking up, there was a moment we recognized that this eagle saw us.   the deer, the eagle, noticed us.  we were in the world together in those moments.  no intention but to breathe the same air.

slow. slow.  we are learning, slowly, about this community.  connecting the dots, discerning the culture, perceiving the nuances.  we are studying this place that is our job – a performing arts center with 250 seats on a tiny island you can only get to by ferry.  a step away-away.  a place in which we want to elevate artistry and growth.  we move slowly, thoughtfully.  our intention, our work, the maturing of this place that has been germinated and cared for.  a rich garden, a rich forest of verdant adolescence, waiting to flourish.  slow.  slow.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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morning lake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

two birds and an island

the lake wakes up different every day.  our little bay is moody and this pensive morning was not willing to add much color.  water morphed into sky which morphed into water and, were it not for hog island and two birds, it would be hard to tell where they each started and ended.

every day we are on island i will take a picture of the morning lake.  its hues, its movement, its message for the day.

today, as i look at this photograph with two birds and an island, i am quieted into thinking about the day.  in looking at the date, i note that 27 years ago today i lost my big brother.  i wonder if he is gazing out at this morning lake with me.  i wonder if he looks out on the day, its hues, its movement, the message of this good earth’s day.  i wonder if he has snapshots of every morning from heaven.

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

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