Shimmy Dance [on DR Thursday]

Barney the piano has been in residence for over 7 years. His sound board was ruined and he was on his way to the junkyard when Kerri intervened. She played him on his first day here. He gave sweet voice for a few musical lines and then went silent. We’d occasionally wander out and press his keys but he was absolute. He was finished with his former purpose and ready for the next chapter.

Over time he lost his facade. The white veneer peeled from his keys and exposed the wood beneath. His decorative layer also began to curl. Pieces fell in strips like bark from a tree, exposing the rougher wooden structure.

Chipmunks have taken up residence. The squirrels glory in sitting high on his bald pate while lecturing Dogga. He’s beginning to sag in his middle and sink into the ground. He has been home to flower pots and once acted as our herb garden. Currently, we’re on the prowl for an appropriate chandelier to hang above him. I understand that pianos, at any age, love a good chandelier.

Barney has become an institution in our backyard. A fixture. I mow around him and never give it a second thought. We turn on the sprinklers to water the grass and water Barney, too. The first time we watered Barney, 7 years ago, Kerri cringed. It seemed sacrilege to spray a piano with water. She couldn’t look and retreated into the house. Now, Barney and the grass are one.

Sometimes at night we sit on the deck and watch the daylight wane. The pond light is on a timer and illuminates the fountain. The shadows dance on Barney. If we sit in the right spot, it seems the fire from our small tower dances in time with the fountain shadow on Barney. Fire and water move in a perfect shimmy dance. The elements come together. Alchemy.

Sitting in the waning light, watching the dancers dance with Barney, I’m reminded that magic is happening all around us. Everyday. Every moment. And, if I stop moving long enough to pay attention, I can see it. Barney also reminds me that we are never the same moment to moment. The changes are visible over time – long periods of time, but the movement is continuous. Slow. Joseph Campbell said that the universe creates forms and take them down. Creates forms, takes them down. Barney was once a piano. Now? To us, he is many, many things.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BARNEY AND FIRE

Lean On Poppo’s Cane [on KS Friday]

Next to the closet where we keep our shoes and old sweatshirts is a bucket. In the bucket are a few walking sticks we’ve plucked from the trail, used and brought home. We rarely walk with sticks so the few that made the trip home are in the bucket to remind us of special walks, the times we needed some stick-aid. And thank-goodness there was a stick available when we needed it.

In the bucket, alongside the walking sticks, is Poppo’s cane.

Poppo’s cane came in handy this week when Kerri broke her foot. She is a circle-walker and our house has square rooms so she regularly arcs too close to the doorjambs. She’s adept at breaking her pinky toe.

This time she broke more than one bone. When the yellow-green swelling hit her ankle we took her to the doctor and then she went for a spin in the x-ray machine. For a few days, I was her mobility prop and then Poppo’s cane took my place and became her trusty stick-aid.

She looked at me this morning and, with knitted-brow, asked the obvious question, “What’s going on?” I had no answer. In the span of a couple of years, she’s broken her wrists, torn ligaments, had fingers that simple refused to bend, lost mobility in her left shoulder, tendonosis, a tendon injury in her left foot, a digestive system that refused to digest,… She’s had a heaping plate of “what’s going on with my body? What’s going on with my life?”

Both are great questions to ask.

What do you do when your questions have no definitive answers? Lean on Poppo’s cane and take another step. What else? Appreciate the stick-aid. Perhaps one day, with a little perspective, while looking at the bucket of useful sticks, the story will make some sense. The questions will find understanding.

In the meantime, I’m considering moving Kerri into a furniture-less yurt. My theory is that circle walkers are safer racing around in obstacle-free circular homes.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about POPPO’S CANE

in these times/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Be Grand! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Little pot roasts are popping up everywhere! Adorable bundles of baby smell and killer smiles. In our pal-group, the babies are having babies. And it’s transforming us into something a little more grand.

Not having had children of my own (I am the proud papa of my two given-children), I’ve spent my life as the weird uncle. I taught my toddler niece to say, “I want another margarita!” and my sister was not pleased. I’ve never successfully changed a diaper but I’ve had riotous fun with many crawling creatives, banging pots and breaking crayons. Uncles, like grandparents, are there to break the rules.

Of this I am certain: Kerri dreams of heaping love and presents on her future grand-pot-roasts; I can’t wait to finger paint and then meet after the mess at the Cheerio bar. Green fingers and snacks! A sure sign that life is grand.

read Kerri’s blogpost on SNACK TIME!

[happy mother’s day!]

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Try To Disappear [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

“There will be days that you know you simply cannot win. The best thing to do when you find that you are standing in a no-win situation, is to vigorously wave your white flag and surrender to your fate as gracefully as possible.” ~ Quinn (not an exact quote)

“To keep your mouth closed and say nothing is trouble for sure. To say anything in this moment – anything at all – is the road to tribulation. There is only one thing to do. Feign a slipped disk. Crumple to the ground in desperate pain. Seek theatrical escape!” ~ the only advice my inner Confucius offered in my moment of need.

“This world is crazy. It makes no sense.” ~ Sterling Brown, This Is Us.

read Kerri’s blogpost on this Saturday Morning Smack-Dab.

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Call It A Life [on KS Friday]

Seven years ago today, Beaky passed. The last time we saw her she was clutching a blue notebook to her heart. “You found it!” she exclaimed, rocking back and forth in glee. The journal she kept of a special trip to Europe. A memory, a connection to Erling she thought was lost. We searched the house high and low. We stayed an extra day knowing that meant a 24 hour drive/sprint home. In the last bin, truly , the very last, tucked in the far recesses of the garage, we discovered the notebook.

What I recall about that search is how many times we stopped, dust coated and tired. We sat in the middle of boxes, stacked papers and bins and said, “We’re never going to find it.” Or, “It’s not here.” And then we’d go to the next room of the house, open closets, pull out boxes, the search resumed.

As you might imagine we found more than the blue notebook. That night Kerri told me many stories of family and events sparked by something we’d unearthed. “Oh, my god!” she’d exclaim. “Look at this!” The vet papers for the dog named Shayne. A photo of the family at the house on Long Island. Good times. Stories. Our search became a connection for Kerri to times that she thought were lost.

Memories. Legacy. Doing what is yours to do, looking back and calling that a life.

Eric recently wrote in our Slack channel about my play, The Lost Boy: Your introduction — chronicled on Skips blog — stuck with me, and comes to mind frequently in daily interactions. “This is a memory, after all. It all happened. Though because it’s memory, it probably isn’t factual. So, if I contradict myself, if you catch me saying the opposite of what I just swore was true, if you find me standing smack in the middle of a paradox, it’s not that I’m lying to you. It’s a memory.” The Lost Boy was a story told to me by Tom. Originally, it was meant for him to perform, the story of doing what was his to do. It only became possible to produce after he had slipped into the land of memory. It became mine to do.

And isn’t that the magic of life. What is mine and what is yours to do is never separate. 50 years ago Beaky and Pa took a trip to Europe and she kept a journal of the trip in a blue spiral notebook. 7 years ago Kerri and I spent a long day and night scouring a house to find it. I am now part of the memory of her journal. Her journal is now part of the story of Kerri and my past.

“Never underestimate your power to impact or influence another person’s life,” Paul said to his actors. Doing what is yours to do. Never really understanding or knowing the impact of the simplest action. Calling it a memory. Calling it a life.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about BARNEY

legacy/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Shape The Vessel [on Two Artists Tuesday]

George Ohr was one of the great ceramic artists of the late 19th and early 20th century. Like Van Gogh, he died unknown, never experiencing the success of his work. Robert reminded me of George Ohr’s story and I reminded Robert that Ohr would be a terrific story for him to tell through a one-man play.

What is it to follow your art-call with heart and dedication with nary a hint of financial reward or success on the horizon? Vincent Van Gogh would have been called an amateur during his life since the making-of-money is the flag we plant in the sand marking the line between being a professional and a dilettante. Those lines do not exist for artists with a deeper call. The money does not the artist make.

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, quite a journey for the unseen work of George Ohr’s life to find so much vibrant admiration after his passing. Had he known it would have changed nothing. He’d have spent his days at the potter’s wheel either way.

“Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. Cut out doors and windows from a room; It is the holes that make it useful. Therefore, profit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there.” ~Lao-tzu

Profit and usefulness. Shape and space. Mary Oliver asked the question: What will you do with your one wild and precious life? It hits the nail squarely on the head. It was not the pots that George Ohr made or the paintings that Van Gogh painted, it was the space they entered while throwing pots and painting paintings. It was the world they entered through their artistry, more expansive than financial success, more necessary than renown. A wild and precious life lived wildly and with avid appreciation.

Standing amidst the brilliant orchids, some of the flowers were in their last days. Their beauty fading, they cared not a wit. It is not in their nature to stretch their faces and pretend that the cycle of life is more valuable in the early bloom than it is in the late retreat. All is treasured, beguiling. Every last moment, not to be stalled or held onto. The root as necessary as the bloom, the winter as indispensable as the spring.

read Kerri’s blogpost about FIREWORKS

Keep Driving! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We both have long histories of epic drives. We like being on the road. In our early days (not that long ago) we thought nothing of 16 hour drives. And then, in a snap, something changed. Namely, being able to see at night. Weird. It’s on the list of stuff that our elders had been warning us about but we paid no attention because it was never going to happen. To us.

It was on the drive home from our honeymoon that we made the rule: no more night time roadtripping. If we can’t afford to stop, we shouldn’t make the trip. If we don’t have the time to stop, we shouldn’t make the trip. And, by the way, what happened to my 20/20 vision? I’m sure it’s here somewhere!

We are quite capable of denial. Denial is a great breaker of rules. Also, circumstance plays a role in our rule following. You haven’t experienced life until you’ve been in a car with Kerri driving like a demon to outrun a tornado. That the sun was setting was not a factor at all. We blasted through the night. I swear that LittleBabyScion nearly took flight. I didn’t know it was night, though, because I had my eyes closed. Sometimes it is simply better to not see what’s coming and keep on driving.

read Kerri’s blog post about KEEP DRIVING

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Get Up! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

When I was young and resilient, I enjoyed doing prat falls. I walked into walls on purpose. It was good for a laugh. Suddenly falling out of my clogs was a minor-show-stopper. It’s the element of surprise. Laughter loves the unexpected.

These days (how’s that for an old guy phrase!) I am less likely to spontaneously fall down unless, of course, it’s unintentional. Now, when I fall, I’m the one who is surprised. The good news in my reversal of fortune is that I can now take full advantage of the getting-up-process. My audience is no longer wowed by my prat fall but can be thoroughly entertained by my authentic struggles to stand. It’s not pretty so it’s filled with opportunities for fun.

“Age and stage” as 20 says. Age and stage.

read Kerri’s blog post about FALLING DOWN

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Travel Here [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

One of the cruelties of multiple daily zoom meetings is that, in addition to seeing other faces, you also stare at your own. “OMG!” I think to myself (of course- who else would I think to), “I look old!” The picture that I see on the screen does not match the picture in my mind. In my mind, I am much younger. “Some old guy stole my voice!” I shout to myself.

Here’s a strange bit of phraseology: I did not know our kids when they were kids. I came into their lives when they were already adults so I don’t have the memories of footie pajamas, bath time or back yard swing sets. During a recent visit with Craig, I realized that Kerri measures her time on earth relative to her children. She’s constantly reconciling the adult son/daughter sitting across the table with the infant son/daughter that she remembers like it was yesterday. “Where did the time go?” she asks, looking at her hands.

We’re all adults now. Well, even staring into the eyes of that dude who stole my voice, I’m cautious about claiming adulthood. I feel as if I stepped into a time machine that thrust me forward in time. I remember myself in footie pajamas as if it was yesterday. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that it’s in the last few laps that you understand the race is all in your mind and the real juice of life is in enjoying a body that can run. Or feel. Or sense. Or love. Or dance. Or hold the hand of the one you adore.

The advice I’d give to our children is the same advice I’d give to myself (and I’d do it, too, if that rat-bastard hadn’t stolen my voice!), “There’s no hurry. This race is not run on a line. It’s a circle. You’re not really getting anywhere more important than where you already are.” It’s a time machine to now.

read Kerri’s blog post about TIME MACHINES

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Love The Trade [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

There’s nothing more jolting than getting a new passport photo. It’s a forced opportunity to compare photos of yourself separated by a decade. The old passport photo is what you think you look like. And the new one? Well, let’s just say that denial can only go so far. “Someone photoshopped my face!” I declared. Kerri rolled her eyes. I also disparaged the camera and the photographer but neither of those ruses gained traction. “Wow,” I said in full acceptance, “I’d better start smiling more so the grooves in my face will be appealing.”

I’m spending an inordinate amount of time on Zoom these days so I have ample opportunity to watch myself watching others. The harsh morning light poured in the window yesterday amplifying my age. “I need a better videographer,” I said, but no one got the joke. The light made my grey beard glow so I soothed my startled soul with daydreams of someday becoming a wizard.

20 says that young people look at him like he’s furniture. “It’s like I don’t exist,” he said.

“Yes,” I agreed and added, “but I’d rather be happy in my new role as furniture than go back in time and be lost in the nonsense of my youth.”

I like the guy in my new passport photo. I don’t recognize his face but he laughs more and cares less. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a good trade. And, no one ever promised that progress was pretty.

read Kerri’s blog post about AGING

smack-dab. © 2021 kerrianddavid.com