Never Say Never [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

The GrassKing. You know who you are. We hang on your every word. We await our next grass-master-secret-instruction. And, in this grass-green-confession, is a cautionary tale.

As an artist I have lived most of my life in cities. In apartments. Tending grass was not only not in my plan, it was a sign of value-collapse. Artistic annihilation. Mowing lawns and raking leaves served as an odious vision, a threat traded among fellow artists. “If you keep that up, you’ll end up mowing grass.” No Way! Never.

20 bought me a lawnmower when I moved to be with Kerri. “You’ll need this,” he said. Stoically. Knowingly.

“What has my life come to?” I asked myself. At the time, there was no answer. The universe-of-my-mind was silent on the subject.

It’s the word “never.” I know enough to never say never but I said it – and here I am. Every day I sit patiently, watching my phone. Awaiting the crucial word from the GrassKing. Over-seed Now! I imagine the GrassKing outside, wrinkled brow, meat thermometer in hand, taking the temperature of the soil in sun and shade. We are waiting for the optimum reading: 58 degrees.

The anticipation is killing me. What has become of me?

read Kerri’s blogpost on VALUES COLLAPSE

smack-dab. © 2023

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Appreciate The Glee [on KS Friday]

My “word-of-the-day” is bedight. Adorned. It seems most appropriate that this adverb popped in my box on this day of Forsythia. The trail was bedight in Forsythia. A sudden explosion of vibrant yellow.

I always look forward to the first Forsythia sighting. It’s the day Kerri dances in delight, chanting, “They’re back! They’re back!” Her relationship with Forsythia reaches into her childhood and has deep love-roots. My association is more recent: it’s the flower that makes Kerri dance. She runs to the vibrant petals to take a close-up. I stand back and appreciate the glee.

Dogga acts as if we are Forsythia. When we return home from errands – even if we’ve only been gone a few minutes – he jumps vertically at the backdoor, so excited is he to see us. Sometimes I like to go on errands just so I can come home to such a glorious welcome. Who doesn’t want to be greeted with out-of-control enthusiasm!

Yesterday, after a particularly arduous slog through the day, Kerri sat on my lap and declared, “We are successful at nothing!” We burst into laughter. Zero. Nil. Nada. Zip. Bupkis. Nought. Naught. And Zilch. And, into that vast nothing, we pour our good laughter and heart until our nada-cup runneth over.

She did not say that we are unsuccessful. Our particular form of success, apparently, is no-thing. Like Glee. Or enthusiasm. Or music. Or beauty. They are hard to wrap your fingers around. They are even harder to assign concrete monetary value. What is our work worth? What – exactly – is our work? Beyond no-thing?

Yesterday I asked Arnie the to ponder the same question I’ve asked many of my wise-eyes pals: why would people support us? Financially? Beyond caring for us or liking us (trust me, we are wildly abundant in love and friendship), why would someone – anyone who doesn’t know us – support our work? What do we bring of value to the community? For us it’s confusing. Approximately 1,500,000 people listen to Kerri’s music every year through streaming services and she receives nearly-nada. Our blogs and cartoon have reached people in over 80 countries. We love to write together. We love to share what we create. Is there concrete value to what we offer? No-thing? If so, what is it called? What could it be? What shape is graspable? We are sitting on the mountain so we cannot see it. What are we missing?

Mostly, we hope to bedight the life-trail – yours and ours – with the vibrant yellow that lives beyond words and evokes spontaneous dancing. Mostly, if it doesn’t make you dance, we hope it helps you stand back and, like me, appreciate the glee.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes or streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about FORSYTHIA

the way home/this part of the journey © 1998 kerri sherwood

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Just Look [on DR Thursday]

“There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

There’s really no reason Breck should be alive. This tiny aspen tree survived a too-packed-car ride from Colorado to Wisconsin, three years root bound in clay pot, a first bad planting among the ferns, a relocation to a better spot, and a serious pruning to clear the already dead branches. Yet, despite all the odds stacked against her, Breck is budding like never before. Breck is thriving.

My theory for Breck’s resilience? She knows she is loved. Never before in the annals of tree-dom has more warmth and attention been heaped upon a tiny living thing. Consequently, each bud feels like a full-circle-love-return. Each new bud fills us with hope, infuses us with possibility.

It is simple.

It’s been a few days since Kerri snapped the photo of Breck’s buds. This morning, while I was out with Dogga on my bunny watch, I was literally gobsmacked: the buds have burst into tender leaves! When did that happen? It’s worth noting that the bunny nest is in the tall grasses at the base of Breck’s trunk. I’ve been paying attention, or so I thought. I’m double-in-wonder at the sudden transformation from bud to leaf.

Paying attention. Seeing what is right in front of our noses.

As I sat on the deck and watched Dogga sleuth the bunny pathways through the yard, I wondered about all the buds-a-poppin’ that I have missed in my life, so focused on, “what I didn’t have,” or lost in the weeds of, “should.” I thought again of the closing sequence of the movie Love Actually. [Hugh Grant voice-over]: Love actually…is…all around us. It’s so pervasive that we miss it.

If only people – myself included – would just look.

Embrace Now, 36x48IN, mixed media

read Kerri’s blogpost about BRECK’S BUDS

Embrace Now © 2016 david robinson

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Feel The Rumbling [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

“We have to stop and be humble enough to understand that there is something called mystery.” ~ Paulo Coehlo

Kerri sprinted through the kitchen. “Dogga has a baby bunny in his mouth!” I reached the window the moment she said, “Dogga, drop it!” He did. The bunny hopped away. Dogga beamed with satisfaction. A new friend. And who wouldn’t want to take a gentle ride in a dog’s mouth?

The Mayapples are reaching through the devastation. The new green is slowly overtaking the broken brown. We wondered if anything survived the eradication. How foolish we were to doubt the power of life. The force of nature. Already this spring the chorus of the frog’s-re-emergence has blown us away. “We only think we’re in control,” I thought as Kerri knelt to capture the wrinkly green splendor.

We sat in the back. It’s our preferred spot when we attend a performance. We can’t help it. We study. The singers, a chorus comprised of women and men who’ve been touched by breast cancer, Sing-To-Live, made me think of the Mayapple. Resilient. Powerful. Reaching through the fear and devastation. Life reaching for life. Their final song of the night brought tears to my eyes. Why We Sing.

This is why we – human beings – make art. Life reaching for life.

I shared a painting from the deep archives with Horatio. He wrote, “You were bursting at the seams, amigo…Have you thought to paint the current iteration and see what that looks like?” Bursting at the seams. I feel the rumbling.

I dream of the day Kerri returns to her piano. There’s so much more music! I feel the rumbling.

Butterflies bursting from cocoons. Hardy green shoots breaching seed pods. Mayapples push through the crusty soil called by the warmth of sun. Bunnies emerge from their leafy nest. Courageous people singing to live. It’s everywhere. Feel the rumbling.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MAYAPPLES in case you’d like to support our too-many-words and music and painting.

Thank Dale [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Dale is back. And he has an attitude. The people in the neighborhood know better than to approach Dale. He wants to be left alone on his daily constitutional and will answer even the friendliest “Hello!” with a harsh retort. Gobble-gobble.

We saw the young couple before we saw Dale. They were frozen, mouths a-gaping. They were pushing a stroller and were caught between curiosity and caution. Spelled. You’d have thought they just spied a Leprechaun strutting down the street. We slowed the car, stopped, and followed their gaze. A turkey was in the hood. Dale was just outside our door. Strutting down the sidewalk. He warned us to mind our own business and crossed the street behind our car just to make his point.

Here’s the weird idea that flashed through my mind as Dale stomped across the street: he reminded me of Scrooge. Suddenly, my imagination was awash in the turkey version of The Christmas Carol. I was particularly taken by the possibilities of the ghosts! How might the turkey Jacob Marley appear to the Scrooge-like Dale? The Ghost of Christmas future? The options were hysterical and inspiring. I wanted to thank Dale for the idea but he was already strutting far down the opposite sidewalk. I wanted to tell Kerri but she’d had enough of me for one day. I kept my idea to myself.

The young couple were suddenly released from their spell and the husband looked at us, child-like, “Turkey!” he pointed and smiled.

“Yes,” Kerri replied in a sing-song affirmation, “We saw it, too.”

I wondered at the final scene in my Turkey Carol. Dale, after a night of ghost-visits, flings open his window to the morning light, unable to fully comprehend what he’d just experienced. He asks a small child on the street, “Boy! You there! What day is it?”

The boy, taken aback by the sudden question coming from a notoriously unfriendly bird, replies, “It’s Christmas, sir!”

Dale, newly made, throws his wings above his head and dances with relief.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DALE – if you’d like to support our writing and workintheworld

The Heart Of The Matter [on Merely A Thought Monday]

“Well, there goes wine and coffee…” I thought when I read the headline. At 100 Years Old, I’m ‘The Oldest Living Doctor’ – 5 Things I Never Do To Live A Long, Happy Life. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The good doctor’s advice is sound, simple, and sans finger-wagging.

Several months ago, Dwight started an important ongoing conversation: how do we live well this chapter of our lives? I recently read a quote (that I can’t re-find) that suggests we grow old-in-our-minds because we stop being curious about life and living. The quote speaks to the good doctor’s first Never Do: I don’t spend my days retired. His fifth Never Do is an extension of the first: I don’t let my knowledge go to waste. Bookends, encouraging us to stoke the fires of curiosity and to share abundantly our gifts.

Ann used to say, “Find a need and fill it,” and I suspect her good advice knows no age limit. Margaret, one of my great unconfessed inspirations in this world, makes quilts, makes meals, makes smiles.

Since our dinner with Dwight I’ve been paying attention to the many guides that populate my path. I am surrounded by people either approaching or older than the ‘age of retirement” who are younger at heart than most of the 30-somethings I know. They are fully following their star. Horatio is writing scripts and books and making movies, making art, and has an “ever-growing ” idea pile I call his “mountain of amazing things to explore”. Judy is painting and writing more beautifully now than ever, Rebecca is boldly leading people to simplicity, Master Marsh tends a section of the Calaveras River, plays music, and makes trouble. To be clear: they are not “striving to achieve” – a concept-distinction that Dwight has me pondering – they are engaged with life. They are rooting around on their heart path. Each is finding a need in others and filling it. My list of “those-who-inspire” could go on and on.

A moment ago my thoughts turned to H. He visited me in a dream last night. If ever there was a model for how to thrive in the last chapter, it is H. He sang with his barbershop quartet, was a lively presence in Kerri’s choir and famously rapped a song, encrusted in bling, at age 89. His enormous car filled two parking spaces and after expertly landing his machine between the lines, he’d pop the trunk and retrieve his walker. I learned early on not to ask if he needed any help. The answer is “no.” He died in his middle-90’s, boldly making a mess of new technology, stomping around in this strange new world.

All are embracing the good doctor’s 4th Never Do: I don’t restrict myself. It seems to me that all of the good doctor’s rules are encapsulated in #4: it is the heart of the matter.

read Kerri’s blogpost about 5 THINGS

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Take A Drive [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We are a walking paradox: homebodies and roadtrippers. We love to be on the road, going on adventures and discovering new places. We adore being at home, comfy in our well-worn patterns.

It only makes sense that, when we can’t take a long roadtrip, our escape-fantasy-of-choice is to get in the car and drive. We head to the county, out into the country. We slow down. We get lost on purpose. We dream and the stresses-of-the-moment dissipate. We drive, windows down. There are no wrong turns. We are free.

Eventually, we return home, find a sunny spot in the back yard, pour some wine and nestle into our chairs. “Life is good,” we breathe, drinking in the setting sun. We re-realize something we understood when we first met: it’s all a roadtrip. This whole complicated amazing life.

We look at each other, knowing what the other is thinking. “Let’s just keep going and going and going….”

read Kerri’s blogpost about A DRIVE

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smack-dab. © 2023

Follow Your North Star [on KS Friday]

We are on a hummingbird watch. There’s an app that plots their migration. They’ve been spotted to the north of us.The little hummingbird symbols on the map show a veritable cavalry of hummingbirds approaching from the south. Our hummingbird feeders are poised and ready, filled with sugar water. Gay, Jay, and Kerri have an agreement: the first to spot a hummingbird in their yard gets a celebratory margarita.

One of my heroes, my great-aunt Dorothy, had multiple hummingbird feeders on her mountaintop yard. I remember sitting in the sun watching the hummingbird posse dart from feeder to feeder. Dorothy’s little plot of grass was a magical place. Blue bottles caught the sun, special rocks glittered, Poncho the dog lazed in the shade, Del’s old army jeep teetered on the edge of the abyss. A ride in the jeep was certain to take us up the mountain into wild, unimaginable adventure.

They did not live in the world of hurry-up and get-there. Their world was the opposite. They were not trying to be-somewhere-else. They designed their lives on experiencing the here-and-now. Their intention was to appreciate-the-fullness-of-this-moment. It was the only place in my childhood, other than my studio/bedroom, that made sense, though it’s taken me a lifetime to recognize why.

They didn’t split themselves. They chose simple living over anxious striving. When I was young I often looked at Dorothy and wanted to know what she knew, wanted to live as she lived. I loved taking walks through the mountain trails with her. I’ve only recently recognized that Kerri and I walk as Dorothy walked. Slowly. Open to what crosses our path and calls our attention. We are capable of walking the same trail each day and experiencing it anew each time.

My north star has been there all along, even in the times when I jumped into the race because it was what I thought I was supposed to do. Yesterday, I went into my upstairs office, sat at my drafting table, and drew cartoons, modifying scripts generated from chatGPT. “I can’t continue to just apply for positions,” I told myself, “I have to do something different as well.” Cartoons.

I laughed. I was full-to-overflowing with ideas. I’ve not been so happy in weeks. Something different; something sane. Something now.

This morning, while I washed dishes, I gazed out the kitchen window, watching for the hummingbirds. I remembered something Susan said to us at breakfast last week: your yard is a sanctuary. She told us that she makes a pilgrimage to our yard each year to recharge. Our yard is like Del and Dorothy’s mountaintop, not by accident, but through intention. It is the place we sit-in-the-here-and-now. To rejuvenate. To enjoy the chipmunk colony living in Barney-the-piano, the chatter of the squirrels, that flash of the cardinals. To await with great anticipation the arrival of the first hummingbird.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes & streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about TINY FEATHERS

i didn’t know/this part of the journey © 1998 kerri sherwood

Turn Around And Look [on DR Thursday]

One little line gives reference to the whole. The horizon line. It is how we naturally – visually – orient in space. It is a baseline of perception. It’s the beginning of discernment.

It is a line that disappeared.

Among other things, art is a reflection of its time. In the past century, art leapt into the abstract. We are “post-modern”. Expressions of personal fantasy rule over community truth, a breaking apart of shared ideals, instant doubt of objective theories…we are mirrored in post-modern art. What is art? What is it not? There’s not a whit of agreement to be found.

General distrust is the beating heart of the post-modern ideal. Division, aggression, tribalism, conspiracy…are its blossoms. Our children perform active-shooter-drills in school; a performance we shudder to attend while our leaders smile and look the other way. Post-modernism at its finest. The absence of a baseline.

Shared truth, group trust, community…requires an undeniable horizon line.

What is up? What is down? What has value? What does not? What has merit? What is undeserving? There is a line. Where is it?

Walking through the antique mall, Brad and I discussed chatGPT. I’m playing with it; he’s using it in his work. It’s raising some very big questions. The questions are not new. They are the next step in a series of questions people have been asking for the past 30 years: what is true? A photograph was once proof that something happened. That hasn’t been true for a few decades. A video was once proof an experience occurred. That is no longer true. News – a word that once implied the accurate reporting of an event. No more. No horizon line.

Brad and I turned our discussion to a sorely missing quality in our times: discernment. In the absence of a horizon line, people will – and do – believe anything. We speculated that, with the introduction of chatGPT into our world, perhaps discernment will once again become important. Perhaps the complete absence of a truth-anchor will turn us toward a common center and require us to look at each other, to seek and restore general trust. The post-modern tide will someday turn and we will draw an old/new line in the sand: we’re-all-in-this-together.

I know, I know. Pie-in-the-sky. However, I’d like to point out that shared dreaming brought us here. Shared dreaming is how we stood on the moon. It is how we can talk to someone across the planet using a small device that fits in our pockets. When a dream becomes shared it becomes powerful. Manifest. A shared dream is a form of a horizon line.

If a shared dream isn’t powerful enough to establish trust, try remembering the other one; the original line of discernment. The line that invites curiosity. It need not be debated. Turn around and look. The horizon line is everywhere.

Four-by-Four, 48x48IN, acrylic, (sold)

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE HORIZON

4×4 © 2007 david robinson

Read The Shadow [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Kerri said, “Look at that shadow! It makes me think of the collar Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore with her robe!”

Ruth’s collar was not my first thought. I went straight for Spirograph. The colorful spiral drawings made possible by the magic of plastic rings and wheels.

I suppose most people would have their moment of shadow association and move on to other topics but not us. Our association led to another association: what might Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s collar and a Spirograph have in common?

The artistry of mathematics. Action scribed from a center of integrity.

The Notorious RBG once said, “I am optimistic in the long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle, it’s the pendulum, and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.”

The colorful line scribes an arc all the way to the edge of the ring and then, in perfect pattern form, scribes an arc across the board to the other side. And again. And again. Until a beautiful pattern, a brilliant complex roulette is formed. A single line that, at its inception looked random or out of control, running to the extremes, weaves – in the long run – a unified, inclusive, connected design.

Optimism in the long run. The symbol in a collar. The certainty of tides. The balance point found in all polarities. So much hope! A visit from RBG and a memory of a childhood toy. And, all of this from a single shadow cast on a dresser on an early spring morning.

read Kerri’ blogpost about SHADOWS