Dream [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Sleep is hit or miss in our house. If it’s a miss for one, it’s a miss for all. Synchronized sleeping is rare.

Last night, Kerri woke me at 12:45. “I’m-up-you-up?” We ate snacks. We talked. Our midnight conversation lasted until 4am. In case you’re wondering, important stuff arises when talking through the night.

The downside of world-class-deep-night-chat is that morning arrives and it’s brutal. Coffee is not a luxury. I immediately invoke the no-power-tools rule. It’s important, when sleep deprived, to stay away from sharp objects or motor-driven-blades.

It’s good thing I don’t work in construction. These days I’d get very little accomplished.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DREAMS

smack-dab. © 2023 kerrianddavid.com

Let It Rain [on DR Thursday]

We are reading Raynor Winn’s new book, Landlines. It is terrific. We make a cup of tea, get under a blanket on the old couch in the sitting room, Dogga asleep at our feet, and Kerri reads to me. Life does not get better than this.

A theme in the book is to put yourself in the way of hope. It has become my mantra for the turn of the year. Hope is coming through; stand in its path.

I started a new painting. I’ve been making sketches for a few weeks. It is the theme I snagged on when broken wrists and lost jobs stopped all artistic motion.: train through trees. As David Bayles and Ted Orland write, there is a difference between stopping and quitting. I stopped for a spell. Putting on my painter-clothes and descending into the studio felt like coming back into myself. Embodiment. As I lay out the composition and layered in some under tones, I felt as if air rushed into my lungs after holding my breath for too long.

We mimicked our smack-dab cartoon and took a midnight walk along Lake Michigan to bring in the new year. “Star dust is raining down on us,” Kerri said, in the first minute of 2023.

Stardust. Standing in the path of hope. A deep full breath. A good book and a warm blanket. A cup of tea. The excitement of rushing to photograph a train racing through the trees – and all things that inspire a painter to paint, a composer to compose, and two writers sitting side-by-side to capture their thoughts as the ritual beginning of each new day.

Life does not get better than this.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BUFFALO PLAID

Choose Awe [on KS Friday]

Of course, it’s not enough to appreciate the cloud-stripes that stopped our motion on the trail. I might have painted them in one of my pieces – for no other reason other than they are a cool pattern. Of course, I would have believed I was making it up. Imagination at its finest. But, in mid-trail, to peer up and see them painted on the sky-canvas sent us into a Google frenzy. You’ll be relieved to know that striped patterns in cloud formations are due to an oscillation called the Kelvin-Hemholtz instability. Phew! Not aliens or Van Gogh run amok, just ordinary old Kelvin-Hemholtz, unstable and oscillating. Again.

Nature continues to astound me. Nature continues to blow my imagination to new heights. As an artist, I am relieved knowing that I will never create anything as perfect or profound as what nature tosses up every minute of every day. There’s nothing left to do but play in these fields and appreciate the conversation. Since I am also a unique-form-thrown-up-by-nature, respecting the conversation, having deep gratitude for the moment, wouldn’t hurt.

Standing on the trail, watching the miraculous lines scratched into the blue-blue sky, I re-realized something important: Google might be able to explain it – which is no small feat – but explaining it, labeling it, putting it into a context-box also diminishes it. It gives us the illusion that we are separate from it; that we can control-it-by-rationalization. Visitors at the zoo.

Sometimes I think awe is a better path than explanation. I imagine that we might approach global warming, weather weirding differently, if we weren’t under the illusion that we could Google nature into submission. Awe is participatory, boundaries dissolve. I-am-that. Life beyond definition, beyond category and sub-category, glimmers.

Next time, I will opt for a few more moments of astonishment before reaching for my phone. Explanations and easy answers can wait their turn in line.

Lost. In the Questions ~ Kerri Sherwood

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about STRIPES

lost. in the questions © kerri sherwood

Laugh Your Way Into Slumber [on saturday morning smack-dab]

Once again, instead of peacefully sleeping, the mother-lode-of-comedy rolled through my brainpan. If I could only remember, after the lights go out, to order a drink, sit back, and play audience to the nonsense that takes the stage-in-my-mind, I’d laugh my way into slumber. Seriously, what I think is funny.

I’ve read that a mind needs to be occupied with something. It doesn’t matter what the “something” is as long as it’s sufficiently occupied. Without some parameters, that monkey-mind will latch onto anything passing through and then whip it into a full-blown stand-up routine. I suspect that the person who first said, “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” arrived at their insight after several sleepless nights.

I’m putting a post-it note by the bed. It reads, “The joke is on you.” No, really. It’s on me.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Retrace Your Steps [on KS Friday]

We completed the first loop and, rather than continue in the same direction as we usually do, we turned and walked the other way, retracing our steps. It was remarkable. Walking in the opposite direction seemed like a different trail altogether.

It is the way of memory. Take a walk backward in life through places you’ve already been. It is a different trail. Often unrecognizable. In fact, with each backward stroll, the path is surprisingly different depending on the reason for retracing your steps.

This is the season for retracing steps. Remembering people and places, tastes and smells. Kerri asked how we celebrated Thanksgiving when I was a boy. We spent the next several hours roaming through our forgotten lands. Some were delicious. Some painful. Some made us laugh.

I’ve been talking with Horatio and emailing with Rob about next steps. Where to go from here. This seems like a well-worn path: sudden job loss. Their advice is clear: do not walk the same path. Do not do the same old thing in the same old way. “My advice is mundane,” said Horatio.

As we set our eyes on a new trail, we also walk old paths in our minds. In order to avoid doing the same old thing -again – we must first see the loop that we’re on. Turning around and walking in the opposite direction seems prudent.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about STEPS

figure it out/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

Write Together [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Dogga is sleeping at the foot of the bed. As he ages, he’s starting to snore and it makes me chuckle. His paws wiggle. He’s running circles in his dreams.

While he runs, we sit on the bed, feet under the blankets, doing what we do together each morning. We are writing blogposts. It’s among our favorite things to do. We structure our days around our time to write.

Twelve years ago, staring at the keyboard and flickering white screen, I pondered the utter madness of writing my first blogpost. I did not identify as a writer. I was convinced that I had nothing to say. Why, then, was I staring at this blank screen, my fingers hovering just above the keys?

The romantic in me tells the story that I knew, someday in my distant future, I’d begin every-single-day sitting next to my wife, writing. Staring at that long-ago blank screen, somewhere deep down, I knew that I needed to learn to write, I needed to learn to give voice, not because I had anything worthwhile to say, but because I had something sacred I needed to learn to do. Our writing time is, after all, sacred time.

I’ve only recently come to realize that the great body of work I will leave on this earth is not, as I once hoped, my paintings. It will be these posts. What started as my musings has become our musings. We’ve calculated that, all together, to date, we’ve written the equivalent of ten decent sized books.

On the wall to my right is a small frame within a large frame. Within the small frame is a StoryPeople print. A couple embraces and the message reads: Someday, the light will shine like the sun through my skin & they will say, “What have you done with your life?” And though there are many moments I think I will remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.”

That’s it. The proof in my stars. None of the plays or paintings, none of the certificates on my inner wall of respect, matter a whit. Each day, in this life, I was given the gift – or gave myself the gift -of a blank screen, fingers that hover, and a step into uncertainty so that, one day, my future self might say, I am proud to be one of us.

read Kerri’s blogpost about EVERY MORNING

KS Coming Through [on KS Friday]

Last night, in one of the great shocks of my life, Kerri began humming the theme song from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. My dedicated Hallmark movie watching wife, deep in a story of snowy-christmas-romance, the predictable kiss impending, out of nowhere, hummed as if it was her favorite tune, the theme from a spaghetti western. Clint Eastwood flipped his poncho, bit his cigarette, crinkled his eyes.

For a moment I thought she was possessed. Ennio Morricone was coming through.

Humming, she never looked away from the screen, her eyes misted over with the inevitable conclusion. Two lonely people found each other against all odds in the final minute of the movie. Squeaky clean romance to the tune of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

“Where did that come from?” I asked

“What?” she replied.

Moments later a new song hummed to the surface. I asked her to recall the spaghetti western tune but she couldn’t. Apparently she is either a mystic-music-channel or a human radio station.

Life with a world-class musician is never dull. Since I was born without the music gene, I generally find her either magical or mystical. The other day we emerged from the woods to find a thongophone. Yes. A thongophone. Without a moments hesitation, she approached this mountain-that-I-cannot-climb, picked up the thongs, and began to play the pvc pipes with ease. Her tune was whimsical and bright. I sat in the sun and enjoyed the concert she played for fun.

When she was done, she bowed. I applauded and asked, “Where did that tune come from?”

“What?” she replied. “I dunno. I made it up.”

Kerri Sherwood. Coming through.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about the THONGOPHONE

galena/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Do The Important Thing [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

These are the short days of the year. The moment I’m finished with work, we head out the door for a walk before the sun disappears. Sometimes, like this week, when the weather is gorgeous, we walk the neighborhood during my lunch break. We are walk-opportunitsts.

It’s easy on the weekends to fill up the days with the-things-that-need-to-get-done. The gutters need cleaning. The leaves need raking. Winter is coming. Generally, we build the list around a walk but occasionally there is an inversion. The walk goes on the list.

I know we have our priorities straight. Even on the days of inversion, even if the list is lengthy and incomplete, we recognize that the most important thing is not the door that needs fixing or the deck that needs repair. The most important thing is to hold hands and take a walk. Together.

It’s how we appreciate our moment of life. The list can always wait for another day.

read Kerri’s blog post on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Stumble Forward [on KS Friday]

I stared at the print in our Airbnb. It made me smile. A happy sloth sitting for a portrait. My children’s book-story-imagination ran amok with the possibilities. This sloth might be pals with Pooh.

The image is by Simon Te Tai. He’s a photographer and manipulates his images using other technologies. He alters the personality. He sometimes adds human characteristics.

I’m paying attention to the uproar in the art community over text-to-image software, like Dall-e. Type a simple phrase into the generator and it will produce an image. “It’s the end!” frightened artists cry!

It’s curious to me. A camera is a technology that, when first introduced, produced the same cry from artists. “It’s the end.” And then artists worked with it. The world would not have a Van Gogh or a Matisse without the camera. The camera freed artists from the necessities of realism. It opened paths to other vibrant explorations.

I remember the first time I saw Photoshop. “The end of truth as we know it,” I thought. A photograph was no longer proof that something happened. It was a shock. Disorienting. Now, I sit next to Kerri everyday as she manipulates our cartoons, produces our blog-boxes, and tweaks photos. It is common, everyday. Liberating.

There isn’t an art form that hasn’t been fundamentally altered by technology. Amplification of sound made it possible for us to attend a concert in a stadium of people. The swirling lights, the moving images playing behind Elton John were sophisticated and an integral part of the experience.

Our language is being altered by technology. The text. The tweet. The emoji. The pendulum is swinging back toward the image, the symbol, and away from the written word. Pictographs on screens rather than chipped into the walls of pyramids.

It’s a push-me-pull-you, this dance we do with technology. Something is rendered obsolete while something gained is not-quite-understood. Change is like that, especially the rapid changes introduced by technology. We stumble forward like a drunken sailor, never quite knowing where we’re going because we understand ourselves by where we’ve been.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SLOTH

bridge/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Stop And Rest [on KS Friday]

At the height of the pandemic she recorded music on her phone and posted it for the community. It was a warm blanket, a comfort sent to people separated by the virus. Yesterday, she stumbled upon the recordings. There are hundreds. She played one for me. Pressing pause, she looked surprised and said, “These were good.”

I appreciated her honesty. I smiled at her surprise. Having been taught that it’s not nice to brag, she rarely acknowledges the scope and depth of her gift. Her pat response when I genuinely gush about her latest composition: “It’s okay.” It is good medicine for a gifted artist to say to herself, “My work is good.”

Also yesterday, she had a “talk” with me. She advised that I be less hard on myself. “Hold yourself softly,” she said. She was spot on. She can see it in me because she can see it in herself. She was telling me that, like her, my work is good. I swallowed my immediate response, “It’s okay.”

“Okay” is a hard word. It comes from a long road of vulnerability and a dedication to getting better and better. Minimizing is both armor and a practice. The path of artistic passion runs through, “Love what you do.” Yes, love it, but don’t get lost in it.

A life of mastery is built upon a mountain-range of mistakes and a dedication to never arriving. Keep walking. Keep growing and opening. Keep discovering ways to say more with less. Every once in awhile, it’s nourishing for the artistic soul to stop for a rest and crawl under the warm generous blanket of, “My work is good.”

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about QUILTS

and goodnight/and goodnight…a lullaby album © 2005 kerri sherwood