Smell The Flowers [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

ferdinand copy

Ferdinand is the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight. In a moment of bad timing, Ferdinand sits on a bee and is mistaken for the most ferocious bull in his cadre. He is hauled off to be the main event at the bull fights, a high honor for most bulls! Needless to say, he disappoints. Through a mighty wave of provocation, matadors taunting and goading crowds, Ferdinand refuses to fight. He sits center ring and smells the roses. His dedication to peace is a disappointment to all. He is hauled back to his pasture where he lives out his days enjoying the flowers.

The book became a best seller when it was first published in the mid 1930’s. The world was busy readying itself for yet another world war. In the second year of it’s publication, 1938, Ferdinand was the best selling book in the United States.

A mixed metaphor. A big bull with a gentle heart. The greatest power in the arena impervious to the ugly taunts and goading. Ferdinand, you might say, didn’t take it personally.

As luck would have it this week, we enjoyed a children’s concert telling of Ferdinand and a few days later we saw a one-man show, a Winston Churchill impersonator. We left both events with the same impression: if history repeats itself then we are certainly cycling through the late 1930’s. The world seems dedicated to tweeting itself into greater and greater conflict. The arena is alive with screaming and taunting, accusations and blame. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, into this blood-lust, a bull would enter, sit center stage, and smell the roses?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FERDINAND

 

doggadeck website box copy

Sort And Re-Member [on Two Artists Tuesday]

eileen's gloves copy

We often wander through antique stores. While Kerri shops for unique treasures, I find myself lost in the historical, the stuff-ness that lingers when the story is forgotten and only the artifact remains. Shelf after shelf, booth upon booth, of time gone by.  Former possessions awaiting a rebirth, a new story-maker to take them home.

We are helping 20 prepare an estate sale at his parent’s house which simply means we are helping him open drawers, clean out closets, sort what has meaning and worth for him, what will have meaning and worth for an estate sale shopper. It is impossible to do this for someone else without significant blowback. At home, we are opening our own drawers and closets and asking ourselves if we really need all this stuff. What no longer has value? What is still used and use-full? What carries so much story that we will never part with it?

There was a time when women wore gloves and hats. There was a time when people wrote letters with ink and paper, folded their note and put it into an envelope, licked a stamp and dropped the whole affair into a box for a postal pickup. There wasn’t an expectation of immediate momentary reply because it simply wasn’t possible. Things change and that changes us (not the other way around).

“Do you recognize those bowls?” Kerri asked. It is common for us to find duplicates of our stuff in the the antique store. We laugh and make the sound of dialing a rotary phone. Sometimes we hover over the bin of albums and reminisce. “Oh, I played this album over and over!” We ring the bell of a typewriter return. We wrinkle our noses at the musty-dusty smell of hardcover books, “My college library! The stacks!”

Artifact. Possession. Story lost and story found. Expectation. Change. Tom asked of the ranch and a treasured box of an ancestor’s artifacts, “What will happen to it after I’m gone?”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GLOVES

 

preadventure painting sale box copy

Browse now. Buy Wednesday through Thursday

 

 

bistrochairs website box copy

 

Step Forward [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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In story terms, before leaving home, before walking into the dark woods, it is necessary to take a moment and wander from room to room to remember. One last time, to touch the life you are about to leave.  Just as ‘how’ something is done can only be known after the fact, so too, ‘who’ you are can only be seen at the moment of leaving.

Isn’t that why we look back? To put a period on the sentence before stepping into the unknown. Each run up to the new year, amidst the celebrations and hoo-haw, we review the traveled path. We touch it,  label it, put it on the shelf, let go, celebrate and grieve, and make resolutions based on who we want to become. And then, we turn and step into the unknown woods, the new year.

This week, Kerri and I have been wandering from room to room in the melange. Lingering in a spot, laughing about some of the things we tried to do, amazed at some of the things we achieved, letting go of the ‘should-haves’ and lingering in appreciation of the ‘what-is.’ In a year, we did not achieve what we set out to achieve. In a year, we discovered what we never could have imagined.

Last year, at this time, the melange was the dark woods that we stepped into. We had no idea what we’d find. We had intentions and dreams and ideals (oh, those pesky resolutions!). We started with some good advice. It came from Beaky and was our very first Two Artists Tuesday design. Live Life, My Sweet Potato. Step into that dark wood. There are bears and swamps and mountains to climb. Experience all of it. The celebrations and grieving, the lost-ness and found-ness. Life is not found on the other side. Life is found in living of all of it.

That’s what we found, touching back to the first week of the melange. An affirmation. Step forward. Live it all.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MELANGE, WEEK ONE

 

SWEET POTATO copy

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if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copy

 

momma, d & k website box copy

 

two artists designs ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

What’s The Story? [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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oversizedjoy copley place website box copy

Let Me Take You Back [it’s KS Friday]

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let me take you back

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Before Kerri and I were married, I asked her daughter, Kirsten, to tell me ‘the one thing’ I should know and understand about her mother. Kirsten’s answer was immediate. “Mom’s the most thready person you will ever meet,” she said.

It is true. Kerri is the most ‘thready’ person I have ever met. Thready means threaded to the past. We mark auspicious days. Each piece of furniture in our house carries a story. Every day she writes in her calendar what we did or what happened; at the end of the year it is our ritual to read the calendar and retell the stories of the days just lived. We light candles for lost loved ones.

She is rooted, deeply rooted, in family, in ancestry, and she actively and consciously tends the root through her thready-ness. And, what is most remarkable to me, is that her thready-ness is not weighty. It is in no way heavy. It is light-hearted and surprising and lively, just like her composition Let Me Take You Back. On this KS Friday, take a moment, and let Kerri give your spirit a lift. Let her take you back.

 

LET ME TAKE YOU BACK on the album AS IT IS available (track 12) on iTunes & CDBaby

Kerri’s designs & TAKE YOU BACK products

record player CLOCK copy

read Kerri’s blog post about LET ME TAKE YOU BACK

www.kerrianddavid.com

let me take you back [as it is] ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

let me take you back – designs & products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

What’s The Story

This is a very old watercolor that I called The Inner Monologue

This is a very old watercolor that I called The Inner Monologue

All the ladies were talking about how their bodies have changed with age. My body has changed, too! You’d never know it now but I used to be less than two feet tall with really pudgy knees. Kerri punched me when I offered my perspective on my body change. Apparently there is a statute of limitation for how far back in time you can go on the my-body-has-changed conversation.

When I was studying acting we were taught to write backstories for our characters. The play script was filled with clues but we learned that a character is not 3 dimensional until it has an articulated history. This was always problematic for me. I had no problem creating a backstory – that was easy – and I could justify my imagined story happenings in the script – but I couldn’t see how my imagined story led to more specific actions in the performance. If anything, the backstory got in my way. Like all young actors I got lost in the backstory, trying to “tell” it rather than pursue my clear action. Acting, like life, is about the pursuit of desire. My backstory muddied my ability to act. Acting is an art form of the present moment.

When I was teaching acting I came across the same problem. The young actors would spend hours telling me the details of their backstory which only served to diffuse their present action. They’d try to perform their history instead of pursue their current target.

The backstory was interesting but functionally useless in the present moment.

I’m finding the same challenge off the stage as I found on it. In one form or another I’ve coached a lot of people. I hear a lot of backstories. Our backstories are interesting. They do what they are meant to do: they give us identity. We spend hours and hours telling each other about our past adventures and abuses. People are storytellers, telling the story of their lives all day, everyday. Most of the storytelling concerns the past. What we did or did not do, what was done to us or justifying what we did to others. Most backstories are about limitation. Most backstories have a root in fear that show up as “reasons why I can’t” stories. Do you remember the famous Richard Bach quote? Argue for your limitations and sure enough they are yours. As interesting and informing as it is, very little of the backstory is functionally useful in the present moment. I don’t want the person I was a decade ago defining the choices I make today.

It’s become something of a mantra for me, something I find myself writing or saying a lot: The actions we need to take are usually very simple. The story we wrap around them make them difficult. What’s the story?

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

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This painting is called Icarus.

This painting is called Icarus.

Look At All The Stories

My Stuff

My stuff.

It is ironic to me that I spent the previous two years divesting myself of stuff. When I moved to Kenosha last October, the truck was filled mostly with paintings, art supplies, and books. If I excluded those things, I could carry my worldly possessions on my back. And, I did for months. I now know without doubt what is essential and what is luxury. Mostly, my story is no longer entangled with my stuff. Well, in truth, there are still a few things that are sacred: the box that held DeMarcus’ brushes, a treasure or two from Bali, grandpa’s nutcracker, Bob’s tools. I gave away many useful things because of the story they held!

Since moving I’ve been helping Kerri clean out her house. Each week we take stuff to the Goodwill or place bags on the curb. She has been twenty-five years in her house and raised two children. The things we sort through have layers and layers of story. Children’s toys and books, sporting equipment, old electronics, and clothes; everything comes with a memory. More than once Kerri has held tightly to a box or shirt, saying, “I can’t get rid of this! Craig used this when….” We’ve saved many things, not for usefulness, but for story.

Several times we’ve made the trip to Florida to sort, box and store the contents of her mother’s house. Kerri spends hours each week on the phone with her mom, Beaky, as she pours over an enormous list of her possessions. Beaky is now in assisted living and will never return to her home. She wants to make sure that each item goes to the right person and that the story held in the item goes with it. In fact, the designation of recipient often has more to do with the story than the item. She is reaching into the future attempting to build a story link with the past.

A few weeks ago we walked by an open house. It was an estate sale. People were lined up out the door to go in and buy stuff cheap. The people in line were anxious and jockeying for position; they wanted to get in before all the good stuff was gone. The stories associated with the stuff died with the homeowner. The new story begins with a bargain found at an estate sale.

Last week while in Denver for my grandfather’s funeral, I crawled under Ruby’s house to pull out the boxes that Bob had stored there, mostly things they hadn’t used in years. Ruby said, “I didn’t even know that was down there!” Forgotten stories resurface.

My parents’ house is filled with the accumulated possessions of a lifetime. Their sedimentary layer of stories includes children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. They’ve added no small amount of my grandfather’s possessions now that he has passed. The layers of story sediment compounded. “What are we going to do with all this stuff?” my dad asked. “Someone must have use for it!” He might just as well have asked, “What are we going to do with all of these stories. Someone must have use for them?”

It’s the question Tom asked when he found a trunk plastered into the walls of the family’s ranch house. The trunk contained the worldly possessions of an ancestor, a young boy named Johnny who died a century earlier. Little slips of paper written by his mother accompanied the layers of clothes and toys. “She wanted to keep his story alive,” Tom said. “What am I going to do with it?” he asked when he knew his life was on the glide path to the finish.

Someone once said to me, “You are not your stuff.” No. But we are people of commerce. We are people who identify ourselves through our stuff. We place great value in what we accumulate and what we accumulate becomes the vessel for passing on our value and our story. Look around you. Look at all the stories that surround you! Stand in your home, close your eyes, and spin around. Open your eyes and look at any object, any thing. What’s the story? What is essential? What is luxury?

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Canopy by David Robinson

Canopy by David Robinson

Go here for fine art prints of my paintings