Pull In [on DR Thursday]

I suspect the turtle understood the giant blonde woman with the camera aimed at this face as a threat. He did what turtles do when stressed: retreated into his shell. “I’m not going to hurt you little guy!” Kerri said, on her knees, snapping pictures. The turtle was, at best, dubious of her reassurances.

We were considering going to an outdoor concert until we saw photos of large crowds of people packed together. Covid has made us crowd averse. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that,” we chirped together and laughed at our stereo response. “I wonder if I will ever be ready for that,” Kerri mused.

At this moment I know more people with Covid than I have personally known throughout the entire span of the pandemic. I suppose this virus that rolls on and on, shapeshifting as it goes, would exhaust our guard sooner or later. I am guilty of thinking, “What’s the point?” as I don my mask to enter a store. Yet, every day this week, a new name or group of names has joined my roster of friends-with-Covid. So, I put on my mask. I pull my head into my protective shell.

There are real threats and there are nice ladies with cameras that only seem dangerous. “May you live in interesting times.” We do. A pandemic. Global warming has arrived. Nationalist madness on the rise. We cannot send our children safely to school – or shop at the grocery store – or attend a concert – without the thought of gun violence. We are awash in real threats and, like countless societies before us, we seem dedicated to our own demise. Madmen and women are at the wheel and we are in the backseat whispering, “Slow down,” looking at each other with, “Do Something!” in our eyes.

When Kerri showed me the photo of the turtle I was struck by the calm on its face. I recognize that turtles probably don’t have the facial muscles to fully express their fear but nevertheless I was delighted by the notion that the turtle-in-retreat was calm. Nothing to be done but pull into the shell and wait it out. No reason to panic.

We’ve discussed being more turtle-like in our lives. We live in Interesting times and there’s not a thing to do about it, other than perhaps write. Make art. Change a few behaviors. We need not wrinkle our brows or cry out in fear while pulling our heads into our shells. The sunrise is still as beautiful, we hold hands when we walk, make dinner together, love on Dogga at night. There’s lots of love inside our shell, no matter the surrounding madness, a quiet center in the storm.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE TURTLE

shared fatherhood © 2018 david robinson

Dial Three Numbers [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Last month, when the car across the street blew up, there was general pandemonium until the fire department arrived. In a few moments, order was restored. People, myself included, who only moments before had been running around in panic, gathered at the end of our driveway and watched the methodical dousing of the fire. Tragedy turned to block party the minute the men and women of the fire and police departments took charge. We transitioned from unsafe to secure, in a heartbeat, from “I don’t know what to do,” to, “I’m so glad they know what to do”. Neighbors chatted. Speculated. We shared tales of the explosion. We compared notes while the people who know what to do put out the fire and cleaned up the mess.

We take for granted the security we enjoy. In the back of my mind, I know that dialing three simple numbers into the phone will summon people who know what to do.

We awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of our basement carbon monoxide alarms blaring. We turned on the lights but something was dreadfully wrong. It was as if the entire house was on a dimmer switch: there was light but it was very dim. And then we heard a buzzing sound in the ceiling. And then the smell of hot electric wires filled the room.

We dialed three simple numbers. In a panic, we put the dog, our bag with important papers, and the computers into the car.

And then, the people who know what to do arrived with their red lights ablaze. They calmly came in the house. They searched every square inch of our home with heat sensing technology. They pinpointed the source of the buzz and the burning smell. It was not yet dire but could have been bad had we not been awakened by the alarms. Within minutes of their arrival, our fear dissipated. Problems were identified. Safety was secured. Advice given.

We were safe. We dialed three simple numbers and help was on the way.

read Kerri’s blog post about FIRE ENGINES

Create Calm [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

calm copy

This word, calm, is a rare bird among words. It is a triple play of words: an adjective, a noun, and a verb. A descriptor, a thing, and an action.

If I had a superpower, it would be to calm. To create calm. To inspire calm hearts. Soothe, make peaceful, generate calm within and beyond the eye of the hurricane.

Last night we watched The Barkley  Marathons, a documentary about a wacky ultra-marathon trail race in Tennessee. Very few people finish the race. One of the racers, an unlikely finisher, told the story of how he came to be in the field. His dad did what he was supposed to do – he worked and saved all of his life so he might retire and then go have experiences. But – you know the story – he died one year shy of retirement. “I decided not to wait,” the runner said. “I want to suck the marrow from every moment of this life.”

Usually, the center of a delayed life smolders. Henny Penny races around the center-cage of a fearful life. But, you’ll know someone who is fully in their moment, who is sucking the marrow out of this tasty life, when you see them. Their center is calm. They are not predetermining their experiences. They’ve stripped off their “should” and “can’t.” Rather, they step onto the unknown field and open their arms to what comes. They play an infinite game, they play-to-play, and perhaps learn a little bit about themselves along the way.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CALM

 

 

old suitcases website box copy

 

 

classic ©️ 2013 david robinson

Make A Good Team

newbaby3

an illustration for Shayne And The New Baby

The lake is very still today. Usually the lake, Lake Michigan, behaves more like an ocean than a lake. The breakers roll onto the beach. It is famously fickle and can change moods in a heartbeat. It regularly swallows tankers. This winter it swallowed more than a little bit of the shore. The Coast Guard routinely practices search and rescue missions off the coast; we’ve stood on the rocks many evenings and watched the helicopter go through its paces. Today there is calm. Today there is peace.

This afternoon I completed the 65th and final illustration in the Shayne Trilogy. Like the lake, when I cleaned my brush and put it aside, I was quiet inside. In the middle of March, after a call with Beaky, we decided there was nothing more important than illustrating and publishing the manuscripts that she’d written. And, there was no time to waste. We illustrated, designed, and published the first book of the series in record time. Beaky had her very first-ever book reading and author signing on April 11th. It was a triumph. That day I knew I that I would never do anything more meaningful or important in my life.

When Beaky passed away at the end of April, the second book was midway through the design phase. The illustrations were complete and Kerri was working furiously to publish it by May 1st. Beaky’s passing, of course, derailed all progress and I wondered if we would be capable of bringing all of her books to the finish. We were still for many weeks. We were breathless.

And then, last week, out of nowhere, a strong wind caught our sail and we were back at it with the same fervor as before. It was as if someone threw a switch; we did not get out of bed that day intending to resume the work, but by noon I was drawing the next batch of illustrations and Kerri was layering words over images. The second book, Shayne And The Yellow Dragon is, at this moment, a single click away from publication. Yesterday Kerri began laying out the final book in the trilogy, Shayne And The New Baby. At this pace, we are a few short weeks away from finishing what we started a lifetime ago in March.

the creative team

the creative team

The illustrations are simple. They came easily – as do all labors of love. They are just what Beaky wanted. “You two did all the work!” Beaky protested as we wheeled her toward the over 70 people that gathered for her reading. I teased her that she must have forgotten that she wrote the books. “We make a good team, Beaky,” I said, and she smiled.