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the path back is the path forward


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damning ice-damming. [two artists tuesday]

there is a price to pay for having an adored old house. ours is 93 years old. sturdy, charming, with wood floors and crown molding, built-in cabinets and solid doors, details that wouldn’t necessarily be affordable in new construction. but then there’s that thing that many of these sweet old houses don’t have enough of — called insulation.

many’s the time i have been on a ladder in the winter with a hose that is stretched to the basement laundry tub spigot. just me and hot water tending to the ice in the gutters. one year, when it was a particularly big problem, big jim came over and performed magic. i remember driving to illinois to purchase the proper tools: heating cables (they were out in wisconsin stores) and one of those really long telescoping snow rakes. and now d has had the distinct pleasure of dealing with this as well. each fall now we check the gutter cables – i’m always holding my breath to make sure they are still working lest the winter comes and they cease being warm in the middle of ice-damming weather.

and ice-damming weather it is.

it’s not like i’m happy that other people are dealing with it, although there is a little bit of content that we aren’t alone in this. as we walk around the neighborhood or drive around town we point at houses and icicles, inches of solid ice clearly stoked up in the gutter, snow falling off roofs like icing sliding from a cupcake on a hot summer’s day. even newer houses and brand-new construction have ice-laden soffits and fascia. and i listen and just keep hoping i don’t hear the telltale drip-drip-drip sound somewhere inside the house; that is never a good thing.

my first experience was memorable. i was alone when i walked in the front door and could hear water literally pouring somewhere. thinking someone had left a faucet on, i immediately went to check the bathrooms, but the sound lured me directly to the sunroom where i stared at the scene that ice-damming had created. my dad and a friend, neither in town, provided some pretty healthy support over the phone for my first adventure on the perilous ladder perched on the icy deck with an unwieldy and uncooperative long garden hose that i had to first thaw from its frozen coiled state as i tried to win against mother nature and too little insulation. eventually, i did win, but not until i was solidly drenched in 20-degree temperatures and i had earned the nickname ‘hoser’ over my moral-support-suggestion-laden-phone-calls and their quest to keep me laughing.

another time, my son can attest to walking into the sitting room one day to find water coming in from above the windows. we both stared at the phenomenon (staring is a requirement as a first reaction in ice-damming). then we got to work with every spare towel we could find. so, yeah, it’s not like i’m happy other people are dealing with it (isn’t that something like schadenfreude?) but i am happy for company in misery. and i know that in the summer, when we are calmly sitting outside in adirondack chairs in the warm sun having an iced tea, these will be funny stories.

but now? this year? yes, i am still holding my breath. the ice is particularly stubborn and the temperatures are lingering in ice-damming territory. facebook posts are abounding with pictures of dammed ice (or “damned” ice, depending on your level of zen) and people’s comments are empathetic and knowing. i don’t remember this from long island at all. i blame wisconsin. nevertheless, in the words of my momma, “this too shall pass.”

i seem to be thinking about those words a lot these days.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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#pow. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” (paul theroux)

ten inches already. that’s what the weather app says. another several on the way. it’s stunning out. snow-magic everywhere.

my phone camera log has many, many photographs of snow. a lot of these are from my daughter, a professional snowboard coach and instructor and an avid and passionate snow-girl in the high mountains of colorado. every one of them makes me yearn to be there…in the snow-covered fallow of winter, the time of energy storing up underground ready to burst forth in spring and bring new life, a new day.

yet climate change barrels forward, knocking down the door. “we have arrived at a moment of decision. our home – earth – is in grave danger. what is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.” (al gore)

global warming threatens. the last five years were the hottest on record and CO2 levels are historic. the trends are dangerous. the weather is extreme. the long-term effects of decisions we make now will change the trajectory of what is possible and impossible for our children, their children, the children of their children. we, each of us, need be responsible.

“protect our winters POW was started in 2007 by pro snowboarder jeremy jones, who witnessed first-hand the impact of climate change on our mountains. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize passionate outdoor people to educate others about the growing problem of climate change and its negative effects on the environment, to protect the places and lifestyles they love. POW is a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders advancing non-partisan policies that protect our world today and for future generations.” (protectourwinters.org)

2021. i cannot imagine – in recent years – a time when recovery and preparation were more vitally necessary, more heartbreakingly essential and when potential disaster was more imminent. we face down the raging pandemic, politicial chaos, heartless social injustices, vitriol echoing from one coast of star-spangled-banner-land to the other, wild and extreme weather events, bitter fallout from any and all of these.

the fallow of this winter need be rich with nutrients to conquer the acerbic byproducts of this time. the snow will help, i hope. yes, the fallow. this long, long winter. maybe snowmelt in the spring will reveal a wash of positive movement, rejuvenation, renewal.

“i don’t want your hope. i don’t want you to be hopeful. i want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire.” (greta thunberg)

it is our earth – graciously granted to us for a time. it is our absolute obligation – imperative for the future, any future – to act. like it matters.

“perhaps the rewards of solving climate change are so compelling, so nurturing and so natural a piece of the human soul that we can’t help but do it.” (auden schendler)

“the eyes of all future generations are on you…” (greta thunberg)

yes, greta. and what will each of us choose to do?

eleven inches now. we celebrate each flake.

*****

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

visit PROTECT OUR WINTERS.ORG


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alleluia. [k.s. friday]

the crystallized ice on their windows now is enchanting. snowflakes blown sideways onto a cold kitchen window, sticking there, magic.

we have waited through a cold and dismal late fall, through days of unending grey, outside and in. we have studied the accuweather app, searching for a sign of snowfall. and yet, nary a storm, nary a blizzard, save for a few tiny flakes here or there. but those skeletal flakes on those windows…alleluia.

yesterday, on the way home from joyous and cherished time in chicago with my boy, in the twilight of the day, on backroads taking us past ravines and woods and houses decked out for the holiday, twinkling lights strewn in grandiose fashion, it snowed. real flakes softly blowing over the road. alleluia.

we were mostly alone driving on these roads, for we were not in a hurry. we moseyed back home, slowly relishing the time we had spent, not eager to let go of it. we moseyed back home, slowly appreciating the spirit of small towns along our way. we moseyed back home, elated at the snow falling, our headlights lighting the way through tiny squalls. alleluia.

we arrived home and the snow had stopped. there were no snow-covered trees, no white front lawns, no strewn lights twinkling out from under a blanket of snow. but it had happened, even though we could no longer see evidence of it. the snow had fallen and it was magical.

this year – full of broken lives and shattered hearts, all of us smack-dab in a world of hypocrisy…and we wait. we look for light, for hope, for truth. it matters not our story, our particular religious narrative, the specific names we attach to our holidays or our deity. it matters that there is a return of light, that the universe will ultimately, even if it’s eventual, offer healing. the divine. we can choose to believe in its goodness. even if we can’t see it.

i wrote these lyrics, this song, last year while in the position i used to hold. “we’ve waited for you, waited for you a lifetime. and you were out there waiting, a bright light. …and now, you’re here in a world of hypocrisy and your love can heal us all. our broken lives, our shattered hearts, we’ll give them all to you, beloved one. alleluia. alleluia. alleluia…” in the cantata i directed last december, this song preceded another song i wrote two decades earlier. “holy, holy…,” i had penned.

with carols playing softly in little-baby-scion, snow gently falling from the sky, the warmth of a hug still lingering, twinkling lights cutting the darkening night, on our drive back home, i could feel a little healing. it felt holy. alleluia.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

you can find more christmas music here on iTunes


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space for peace. [k.s. friday]

slowly-but-surely-time-rapidly-rushing we are approaching the holidays. with all the concurrent spinning plates wishing i could slow it all down, wishing i could feel it happening. i want to feel the peace of the season, the peace of quiet winter coming on.

wisdom comes from unexpected places. softly. an instagram post here, a text there, a conversation on the phone, a note. people, wittingly and unwittingly, giving me words on which to linger, images in which to immerse, snippets of thoughts to ponder.

i woke up this morning feeling hopeful. a bit more sleep was restorative. i read wise soul-provoking words of my girl; i received an email from a generous stranger.

i started to recall the times in my life when an obstacle was actually a gift, when a turn in the road was the thing that protected me. instead of railing against the current, i am slowly slipping onto the raft that is taken by it.

i took a picture of the blue sky yesterday – just blue – because it was the first blue sky in days. i felt deep gratitude for it and for the sun i could feel on my back as we hiked. the two masked women we passed on the trail raised their hands, fingers outstretched in the symbolic v, and called out, “peace.”

early this morning i sipped coffee that david brought me, my legs stretched out on the bed tightly snugged between dogdog and babycat, both laying ever-so-close. and we spoke of waking a little bit lighter today than yesterday. it doesn’t change the circumstances. but how we are in those circumstances changes us.

and in the slow-but-sure-rapid-rushing-time advent of this winter, this season, this time of quietude and rejuvenation, it allows space for peace.

*****

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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greenery and pine cones. [k.s. friday]

i started noticing while hiking on one of our favorite local trails. greenery and pine cones sharing space. a visual backdrop for hallmark holiday movie escapism, the repetition of these simple symbols of the holiday season over and again on trail brought my camera to hand time after time. capturing these photos has been decorating my mind with fancies of christmases-past and brightly wrapped packages and trees of all shapes and happy lights galore and times spent with my children, my family, my friends. the trail’s gift has inadvertently set me on the path toward light, my spirit breathing with each snap of the iphone.

a week before thanksgiving my son sent me a photograph of the christmas tree in their apartment. with garland strung and lights and soft holiday-themed pillows, it was straight out of a magazine. “a classic look,” he told me. yes. beautiful and classic, welcoming winter. my daughter’s photographs are snowy and crisp, crystalline and inspiring. winter is coming on in the high mountains. it dresses them with idyllic wonder.

we haven’t started listening to holiday music. it’s too raw at this point. but we will. i will climb out of this cavern, aided by every gift of nature as it heads into this magical season, and i’ll soon turn it – music – on. in the meanwhile, slowly, we have strung some new white twinkling happy lights, we have brought up a couple trees from the corner of the basement storage room. maybe we’ll bring up the big bins and we can step-by-step-forward turn our home into a celebration of what-is and not a daily reminder of what-was. walking toward light. each silver ornament a coaxing, each strand of lights an urging, each tuft of greenery an encouragement. all seasonal prompts, that out of the dark there is light. indeed, in the dark there is light. “nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” (john muir)

john muir also wrote this: “between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” maybe that’s somehow why i am noticing. the greenery. the pine cones. laying on the trail, juxtaposed yet clearly related. dark and light, juxtaposed, yet clearly related. a new world, a doorway.

no wonder i keep seeing these sweet moments in nature. no wonder i keep searching. no wonder i have my camera out on the trail.

*****

if you are ready for holiday music, i have three christmas albums to help you celebrate and welcome the return of light – click on this link

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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and then it snowed. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

snow in evergreen

i was really, really happy when it started snowing.  not only was this softly falling snow beautiful, but it placed me back in time.  although listing toward spring, it is, actually, mostly still winter.  it is march.  it is wisconsin.

time is warping and it is difficult to remember what day it is, nonetheless what month it is.  the stress of worry, of deep concern for our children, our families, our friends, of social distancing and isolation, of working remotely – all of it has taken us out of time.

although there were many negative social media comments about it snowing, i was grateful.  we went out and walked in it.

snows are different.  there’s the light snow that blows across the sidewalk as you walk.  there’s the heavy snow that invites you to make snowballs and greet snowmen as you pass them in the neighborhood.  and then there is this – the magical snow that feels and looks like stars falling from the sky.  we walked in quiet, mostly.

march.  wisconsin.  winter poised on the birth of spring.  snow.  it grounded us back into right now.   we believe all things will come.   in time.   we are all marking time.  one day we will sit in the warm sun.  one day this worry will lessen.

in the meanwhile, i say let it snow.

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

our snowman feb 14 2019 'valentino' website box copy


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“the first dandelion!” [merely-a-thought monday]

first dandelion copy

one of the sure signs of spring’s imminent arrival in our town is when boats start populating the harbor again.  big shrink-wrap is removed from cabin cruisers, sailboats and yachts of all sizes and the slips start to fill up, slowly at first and then with abandon.

it was with much glee that, on our hike through the trails in a local forest preserve, i spotted it and called out, “the first dandelion!”  i’m aware that not many people get as excited about dandelions as i do, but, for me, this harbinger of spring – along with gentle beauties like lilacs and tulips and daffodils – is cause for celebration.  it conjures up images of cups of dandelions in water on my counter, having gone from little-kid-fists to my hands.  it makes me think of decades ago, sitting cross-legged in the grass, making necklace chains out of clover.  it brings the hope of a new season, the ever-more-constancy of sun and warmth, the season of flip-flops approaching.

with so much uncertainty on the horizon, the drone of winter’s end is taxing.  we yearn for a blanket of warm sun, a chance to raise our faces from worry to face the sky, to breathe freshly mown grass, to put our hands in the dirt, cleaning away the debris of the harder times, perhaps preparing to plant.

but this is wisconsin and this is life and nothing is really static.  life is fluid as is weather.  four days after we celebrated “the first dandelion!” we drove home through a snowstorm, blowing, wet snow covering the courageous pioneers of spring.  the thing i try to remember, as the grasp of winter holds tight the reins of this new season, is that they are still there.

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

FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS – the CD single or download on iTUNES

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CLICK ON THIS ^^TOTE BAG ^^ FOR FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS PRODUCTS

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ice pops. [two artists tuesday]

ice pops copy.PNG

i know it comes as no surprise to you that we watch the national geographic show ‘life below zero’.  we’ve talked about it before and have even quoted snippets of wisdom from some of the show’s regulars.

in the next day or so it will drop to a “feels like” temperature of -52.  that’s negative fifty-two.  the “actual” temperatures won’t even reach the single digit negative numbers.  now, that’s cold!  and yet, each time the temperature is posted on the screen when we watch ‘life below zero’ it is usually some negative number (which doesn’t include the wind chill.)  then, whichever arctic resident they are following will proceed to go miles to hunt or gather or fish, walking or driving snow machines in bitter winds, dragging behind them sleds upon which they will place their findings.  i think we watch it because it is so far from our own lives.  we love the vistas and can’t really imagine the life.

the whole town was closed today; the school system, the colleges, the city offices.  and we haven’t even gotten to the life-below-zero temperatures yet.  at lunchtime we took a walk and the snow was amazing.  it was quiet and the lakefront was full of ice.  our sedum plants looked like the lemonade ice pops i used to make The Girl and The Boy with the tupperware do-it-yourself-ice-pop-set i’m saving for the possibility of grandchildren.  the snow is everywhere; there are enormous baby-sled piles on the sides of the roads.  icicles abound.  it’s beautiful.  it’s a vision of real old-fashioned winter, a calendar entry on one of those the-year-in-wisconsin calendars, postcard images of this time of hibernation.

and so, in deference to the scope of mother nature’s ability to stop us in our tracks, we plan to limit our outdoor exposure the next few days.  we look outside at all the snow that has already fallen and, expecting more, make sure we have enough basics in the fridge and the cupboards to last, in case we can’t get out.  our little scion rocks, but unplowed roads and extreme cold are not necessarily its gig.

maybe we’ll take a little time and watch some more ‘life below zero’.  by sheer comparison, we’ll realize how easy we have it.  oh! and hey, maybe we’ll make some ice pops.  or not.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

-52 website box


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snow? [not-so-flawed wednesday]

snow on the lakefront copy

december 2016 – snow on the lakefront

we are waiting patiently.  after all, this is wisconsin.  snow is a part of our climate.  our average annual snowfall total is just over 36″.  we have a long way to go to achieve that.

it snowed in november but didn’t really stay around.  it dusted snow a few days ago.  and that’s really it.  for two people who love to hike in the woods as a quiet snow falls, this is not exactly our cup of tea.  we didn’t even have a white christmas.  i’m thinking of asking for my money back; this is not the winter i anticipated.

now, there are plenty of people here who are perfectly content without snow.  it’s hard to imagine why they would prefer cold grey days to sky-blue-brilliant sun reflected off of snowcover.  i lust over every photo My Girl posts, not just because of those colorado mountains in her pictures, but the snow is spectacular and necessary – regulating the surface temperature of the earth, protecting root systems, melting to help water tables and avoid drought.  this is the point where i am not mentioning all the research i just did for the last hour about snowfall and our earth and climate change.  it’s painful.

anyway….i know it isn’t convenient.  i know if you must move around in it, it can be dangerous.  i know it’s a lot of work.  but, i’m really thinking it’s about time for a good-old-fashioned blizzard.

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

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snow on the lakefront ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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when sled dogs dream [flawed cartoon wednesday]

when sled dogs dream jpegBIG copy 2

life below zero has captured our attention.  sheesh.  we are not ‘those people’ who have to follow shows, but we find ourselves searching the channel-changer for the national geographic show or… wait-for-it-this-is-no-surprise … this is us.  (so i guess, in essence, we are ‘those people’.)  anyway, that’s not my point.

dream SQ PILLOW copywhen david drew this, i laughed aloud.  it is truly funny to think about what animals dream (like our dogdog who runs in his sleep and babycat who snores up a storm) and if their dreams distort reality, just as ours do.  in the morning, over steaming mugs of coffee, we often tell each other what we remember from our dreams.  talk about distorted reality!  i crack up thinking about what jessie holmes (the most avid -and very-sweet-to-his-dogs sled dog guy on the show) would do if he saw this cartoon.

the last little vestige of winter is in the air here (well, maybe.)  dream CLOCK copyas i write, there is snow in the forecast.  even though we had this amazing hike-gift the other day in sunny 65 degree temperatures, truthfully, i don’t really mind that winter hasn’t ended; it is a time of fallow and that brings great anticipation for spring and newness.

in the meanwhile, happy wintery-spring.

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DREAM & WHEN SLED DOGS DREAM – PRODUCTS on Society6.com/flawedcartoon

FLAWED CARTOON WEDNESDAY – ON OUR SITE

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WHEN SLED DOGS DREAM & DREAM ©️ 2016 & 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood