Count It [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

187 box framed copy

People like to count things. Kerri and I are people so it only follows that on this melange anniversary week that we’ve been counting all manner of things. 52 weeks. 5 posts a week. 260 posts times two. 520 posts between us. What does it mean? Nothing of consequence.

People like to count things. Isn’t it true that, as the proverb states, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And, after the thousand miles journey, sitting in the sun by the side of the road, who wouldn’t try to calculate the actual number of steps? Just for kicks? What does it mean? Nothing really.

187. The number of product lines that Kerri designed in the first 6 months of the melange. Not single products, but entire lines. From art prints to bath mats to tote bags to cell phone cases. In our week of counting, it is the single number that astounded me. It was the aspect of the melange that required the most amount of time and effort.

It was also fun. I loved watching Kerri design. She becomes hyper-focused. Passionate. Impeccable. I was mostly beckoned for feedback. “What do you think about…?” Usually, there was no answer required. In asking the question she generally identified her preference and was back to working before I said a word.

People like to count things. It is another way of telling the story. Well, at least a part of the story. 187. 520. What does it all mean? Nothing really.  The numbers are the least part of the story. The simple joy of working together, the river of ideas shared along the way. The heart conversations. The laughter. There is no number capable of capturing what happened in the midst of all those steps.

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read Kerri’s blog post about 187

 

[Here’s the very first Flawed Cartoon Wednesday. I thought (and still think) these cartoons are hysterical. The number of people who went to the Flawed Cartoon store: 0. What does it mean?]:

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if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy[Do it! Go to the store just for kicks! You’ll be the first!]

 

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flawed cartoon ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Recognize The Riches [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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I moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin with a truck load of paintings. Three canvases, a series I’d painted for The Portland Chamber Orchestra, were too big to fit in our house. “What will I do?” I asked Kerri. Without blinking, she said, “Let’s call Jen and Brad.”

When Kerri and I were developing our cartoon, Chicken Marsala, we needed some honest feedback. “Who will be honest with us?” I asked. The answer was immediate, “Let’s call Jen and Brad.”

When the world seems bleak, the winter too dark, the mountain too steep, the inspiration-well too dry, the wasteland too big, the one sure-fire-spirit-lifting-perspective-giver is a potluck with Jen and Brad.

When the adventure needs sharing, the mischief demands conspirators, the escapade requires companions, we can count on Jen and Brad for a hearty “Let’s do it!”

And so, it was no surprise that for Kerri’s inaugural stomp on snowshoes that our trek was with Jen and Brad.  For a few moments as I followed behind, listening to the laughter and conversation, the curiosity and questions, I was completely overwhelmed by the enormity of friendship.  There is nothing better in life than these two people; they make us rich beyond measure.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SNOWSHOES

 

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snowshoes ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Make The Climb [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Roger and I used to talk about art in terms of levels of sophistication. For instance, no one masters an instrument the first time they pick one up. There are layers of learning necessary before the musician “knows” how to play. The “knowing” has little to do with the accumulation of information and everything to do with giving over to what the body learns. Finally, it is a letting go (of the mind) into an undefended sharing. Flow. It has nothing to do with knowing and everything to do with availability. This ‘availability to experience’ is what we called sophistication.

Both the artist and the audience pass through layers of greater sophistication. The artist wants greater and greater challenges. The audience wants greater and greater challenges, that is, they want to participate in something that demands more from them. It requires that both artist and audience show up, open, give over. Union is the ultimate purpose of art. Participation in something greater than your self. That is how art informs and transforms.

And then, there is the flip side, the anti-art. You can feel it. The absence of the genuine experience. The demonstration of accumulated knowledge. I cringe when a curator launches a three-masted-ship-of-study that tells me what the art is about, what the artist felt, and what I should see and feel. When the actor attempts to control what I see, when the art is so conceptual that it precludes me or anyone save the artist from entering the conversation, when the  knowledge priest stands between me and my god…you’ll know the levels of sophistication have left the building when the conversation is one way, judged, controlled.

Kerri calls this the blah-blah. When a real moment is disrupted by an agenda, when the flow is dammed by an unnecessary display of knowledge. And, the kicker is, we are all guilty of it. I am. It is a necessary step in climbing the ladder of sophistication, slipping back down the ladder of sophistication. To confuse technique with art. To garble the necessity of the open heart with  the realm of the intellectually abstract.  To give a standing ovation to something that put you to sleep. To try to control what the other person sees or thinks or feels; a fool’s errand. The great artist trap. The great life trap.

And, the best you can do (truly, the best thing), is to catch yourself in the moment of blah-blah, laugh at yourself lost in the trap, pull out the ladder, and begin again to climb toward simplicity.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AN UNNECESSARY DISPLAY OF KNOWLEDGE

 

 

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Be A Neighbor [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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We were in the basement putting away Christmas stuff when John cleared our driveway and sidewalk with his snowblower. We didn’t hear it or I’d have run outside to give him a big bear hug. I discovered his generosity when I pulled on my boots, grabbed my shovel and stepped outside to find a job well done. Coming back in the house Kerri said in jest, “That was quick.” Pretending to be a snow-shoveling-superhero, I said, “Take a look if you doubt my capabilities!”

She immediately doubted my superhero capabilities because she knew the real superhero was John. Like me, she was overwhelmed with his kindness.

If you could order your neighbors on Amazon, you’d be foolish not to pick John and Michele. Seriously, if I could give the world anything it would be the peace of mind that comes  when you have good and caring neighbors. Neighbors who have your back. Neighbors who, without being asked, watch your house when you are away. Neighbors you can call at any moment, at any time of day or night, “help,” and know that they will be happy to be there.  Neighbors who you look forward to hanging out with, who are curious about the world and passionate about what they do.

My parents were good neighbors. They understood and taught me that ‘neighbor’ is not a statement of location. It is active relationship, connective tissue, participation, the most immediate and potent way of making the world a better place. Start where you live.

Later in the afternoon, knowing that John enjoys good beer, we walked to a local micro brewery, debated which beer he’d enjoy the most, bought him a “thank you” crowler and left it on his porch.

Back in our yard, falling backwards into the deep snow, we made snow angels. Laying in our newly minted angels, looking at the clouds, Kerri said, “You know, we’re really lucky.”

True. Very True. We have great neighbors.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SNOW ANGELS

 

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Take A Walk In The Snow [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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I just wrote a post about global warming and then I cut it. In truth, I spent a about an hour reading and researching and cross-checking things. We’ve been measuring the ocean temperatures everyday for decades. We’ve been recording levels of human carbon emissions into the atmosphere for decades. The data is there. The science is there. The evidence is there. So, too, is the counter-narrative. A Chinese hoax? The Deep State? So much conspiracy! And, really, what does that have to do with a photograph of snow at night? Delete!

The embrace of the counter-narrative fascinates me. The committed belief in what is demonstrably false -led me to read a bit about denial psychology. Here’s the dictionary definition: “a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.”

So, then, I started writing a post about the denial psychology run amok these days in the USA. If you don’t know what I’m writing about then (to borrow a phrase I read today) you are either a Martian or a watcher of Fox news. I cut that post, too. I suspect you are as sick of the lazy-minded debates, entrenchment and ever-present fearmongering as I am. Even I am bored by what I wrote. Nothing new! Nothing new! And, what does that have to do with a photograph of snow? Delete!

It is not uncommon for Kerri and I to take late night walks in the snow. Especially, when it is actually snowing. There is peace. There is quiet. We hold hands and listen to the sound of our feet crunching the new snow, the whisper of wind through the trees. Peace. Quiet. Listening.

We haven’t had one of our late night walks lately. There hasn’t been any snow. A dusting here and there but that hardly qualifies. And so, we wait for the return of the snow. The return of the listening, the quiet, and perhaps, too, the return of the peace.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SNOW ON THE LAKEFRONT

 

snowheart website box copy

 

snow on the lakefront ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood

Sometimes it is inconvenient to see all of life as a metaphor. Forever exercising the capacity to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. Everything referential to something else. It’s no wonder people avoid me at parties!

A bar at the airport. Both the bar and the airport are liminal spaces. In-between places. Neither here nor there. Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a detective story? Waiting for our flight at this gathering place of strangers, we decided to celebrate the beginning of our trip, some much-needed time off. A break from the grind. We ordered two glasses of wine. No sense jumping into space without sampling the airport’s finest red!

With multiple games of football playing all around us, awaiting the bartender to bring us our wine, Kerri asked me if I wanted to bowl. She was already placing the tiny yellow pins and blue bowling ball on the bar. Placing our wine beside the pins the bartender said, “Well, look at you!” Apparently we were not the first people to bowl at his bar.

I was first up. I rolled the ball. It hit the pins and bounced off. I caught the ball before it rolled off the bar. Now, as metaphors for my life go, this one is frighteningly accurate. Kerri cheered, “Do it again!” as if my direct-hit-with-no-result was intentional. My wife is hysterical. She pulled out her phone and set it up to record my ineffectual nature for posterity. I complied. I rolled. You can see the result. Kerri stopped recording before she howled with laughter. She packed up the pins before taking a turn. She promptly sent to video to many of our pals. “They’re going to love this!” she giggled.

Never, ever think that I do not serve a purpose on this earth, in this life.

In a world of metaphor, one pin falling is actually worse than no pins at all. It’s like a 25 cent tip or a 1 percent salary raise. Insult to injury. As Horatio would say, “Always the bridesmaid….” of course, it’s why people periodically sit with me at parties. Feeling good about yourself is often a product of relativity.

And, if all else fails, there is a healthy pour of the airport’s finest red. Have a good trip!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BOWLING AT THE AIRPORT

 

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Listen To BabyCat [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Everyone has there safe spot. The place where they can relax, let their guard down. Rest. Mine is the chair in my studio. For years my dad’s safe spot was his reclining chair. He’d melt into it and fall fast asleep. Safe spots are contained spaces. Quiet. Known. Cocoons.

BabyCat has many safe spots. He moves with the sun from safe spot to safe spot around the house. He recently added another to his holdings. It is not fancy. There is nothing designer about his tastes though this choice surprised us: a toothpaste box from Costco.

Moments before it became a BabyCat safe spot, the box was loaded with coffee, eggs, a bottle of wine.  It had no importance. We tossed the box to the floor merely to make space on the counter. A discard en route to the recycling bag. And then BabyCat occupied it. We knew immediately that this was not temporary housing by the way he settled in. This was the real deal. He purred.

Though we’ve moved it to a less trip-able spot, the toothpaste box remains one of BabyCat’s favorites in his safe spot rotation. Watching him move from zen to zen I realized he is never far from a safe spot. He has constructed his life according to maximizing his inner quiet and comfort. It is his top priority.

There must be a lesson to be learned in there somewhere. This year, as I run from place to place, from one stress spot to the next, enrapt in my all-too-important list of things to accomplish, I will stop (periodically) and remember the power of a toothpaste box, the lesson of BabyCat and the real  possibility of moving through life prioritizing my peace  instead of raising my blood pressure.

BabyCat Lesson One: identify more than one safe spot. Then multiply.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BABYCAT’S BOX

 

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