Live A Great Story [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I suppose I must not have seen the small print requiring an extra fee for the petals to actually be attached to the stems. Silly me. I’m not a detail guy so it never occurred to me that ordering flowers was like flying on Frontier Airlines: if you want a seat you need to pay extra. If you want wings on the plane there’s an up-charge. If you want the roses fastened to the stem, it’ll-cost-ya.

Every story has a context. Without the context a story cannot be fully understood. Here’s the context for our sad-rose-tale. Kerri and I have out of necessity lived lean. Very lean. This is the first year since we met that I had the capacity to send my wife roses on Valentine’s Day. Context number two: since we spend 24/7 together and she monitors our expenses like a hawk (a necessary practice that comes from living lean) , it’s nigh-on-impossible to surprise her. Fromyouflowers.com seemed to be a solution for a long overdue surprise. “How bad could it be?” I asked myself. Woof.

Never ask yourself a question when you can ask other trusted people. I could have asked Jen or Gay or Jay. They would have warned me off. I could have asked them to arrange roses from a local florist and I would have secretly paid them after the fact. I did none of the above. I was having a nice conversation with myself and, left to my own devices, I’m perfectly capable of making a dumb idea sound titanically smart.

The roses (I use the term loosely) came, not on Valentine’s Day (today), but on Friday. Surprise! Gay’s response after seeing the picture truly captured their state: “Too bad they picked them in August,” she wrote. Even the leaves had abandoned the stems. Brad’s comment was my personal favorite: “How efficient,” he wrote, “you received roses and potpourri in the same order.” Efficiency was, after all, my aim.

Kerri, a gifted transformer of lemons-into-lemonade, separated the dead petals from those few still living and put them in a crystal bowl. And then, she offered me this consolation: “Think of it this way,” she said, “if they’d arrived intact, we’d never remember them. Now we have a great story to tell.”

First roses. A Valentine’s tale. We’ve laughed all weekend [I confess, the humor in the story took me a moment or two to see]. With or without roses, on this day of celebrating true love, this is what I know for certain: we live a great story so we have a great story to tell.

read Kerri’s blogpost about NOT-ROSES

Help Them Smile [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

I howled with laughter when she said it. “You can buy anything that looks like something.” She was referring to the sweet Italian sausage that was not sausage at all but made of plants. I thought she was making a political statement. We are solidly in the age of things-are-not-what-they-seem. Photos can be manipulated. Words that come out of mouths can be placed there, not by the speaker. Propaganda is called news and American cowboy culture does not see its full-lemming transformation. Sausage-not-sausage is everywhere!

“What are you laughing at?” she asked, placing the sausage look-alike in our basket. Linda made us a yummy vegetable hash that included the not-sausage and we enjoyed it so much that we left with the recipe. “The age of enlightenment is officially over,” I thought but did not say. Had I answered honestly she would have told me to “gear down.” The grocery store is no place for philosophical hoo-haw.

“Nothing,” I said, giggling.

Standing in front of the cold not-sausage-section, looking down the aisle at people masked and not masked, some wearing masks on their chins, I felt thrust out of all reality and into the tragi-comedy that is our times. Peter Barnes wrote a terrific play, a comedy called Red Noses about the plague that swept Europe in the 14th century. A priest and his band of fools traveling through the villages offering humor as the only relief for the fear and pain. They wore red noses.

“When people in the future look back at us, I hope they laugh,” I said.

“What?” she asked, furrowing her brow.

“We need a band of fools.”

If we could laugh at ourselves, we’d probably have a better time of life during the pandemic, I thought, as an unmasked woman sneered at my fully masked face. I wonder how we’d have fared had there been a red nose mandate? Protect your neighbor by helping them smile.

Kerri stared at me and smiled. “Don’t make me tell you to gear down.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I think we need Dogga food.”

read Kerri’s blogpost about ANYTHING AND SOMETHING

Enjoy A Cuppajava [on Merely A Thought Monday]

The night is still and it’s hot. I suppose that’s why we’re having trouble sleeping though, if you read our smack-dabs, you’ll already know that sleepless nights make a regular appearance in our life and, therefore, our cartoon.

Sleepless nights and coffee. You might suspect that the coffee causes the sleepless nights but the opposite is true. Sleepless nights contribute to the giant mugs of coffee in our hands each morning so it also shows up in the hands of our cartoon selves. Puffy comic faces and never-enough-coffee. Sleep deprivation and coffee desperation make for good humor.

Coffee has always been central to our story. Before we met, the subject line of our daily emails was cuppajava. We wrote our cuppajava for months. Eventually, we called our combined catalogue of cuppajava The Roadtrip. With coffee in hand, we wrote truth-fests. Confessions. We asked questions and told secrets and laughed at foibles – all over a cup of coffee shared fifteen hundred miles apart. On my birthday, months before we met, a package arrived at my studio with a pound of Sumatra and a coffee mug stenciled with our shared middle-name (we have the same middle name). After months of correspondence, when we finally met, Kerri picked me up from the airport and had a cup of coffee waiting in the car.

Coffee is more than a casual player in our story. That’s especially true now that we are nearly a decade into our tale and have taken several actual road trips and written over a million words sitting side-by-side.

If we come to stay at your house, don’t be offended if we bring our own coffeemaker and coffee. We are coffee snobs, it’s true, but there’s more to our quirk than meets the eye. My old studio coffeemaker, the one that brewed my cuppajava, goes everywhere with us. It’s raspy and gasps the entire time that it’s brewing, but, somehow, all these years later, it continues to deliver coffee for our chats. Like us, it’s not pretty but it perseveres.

read Kerri’s blog post about COFFEE

Improvise [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

This might not be funny to the under-50-crowd. Just wait. Humor is the only way you can successfully navigate the things that start happening to your body.

To those of us who’ve crossed the line into diminished returns and leaky pipes, I can only offer a knowing smile. Yes, I know. Age has a way of translating crisis into a comedy monologue. There’s only one non-truth in this comic strip: Kerri would not be caught dead in the bushes. It’s the single obstacle to her launching a through hike on the PCT: no indoor plumbing (but she’s working on it…). As for my relationship with bushes? Well, let’s just say, “Now, that’s a good story!”

read Kerri’s blog post about REST AREAS

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Honor Their Choices [on DR Thursday]

I am guilty of lately losing my sense of humor and lightness of being. When our house filled with smoke from burning buildings, when a militia member murdered two people blocks from our home, when yet another black American was brutalized by the police, I shifted a gear. Seeking silver linings and applying positive thinking seemed like so much denial, spooning sugary frosting on a very bad cake. Love, I’ve learned, sometimes needs to be sharp. A mother will always yell when their child is running toward the street.

Yesterday we took a turn-around trip to Chicago. We stayed off the freeway and hugged the lake. There was no rush to get there. On the way it occurred to me that historians could boil down the entirety of the 45th presidency into a single phrase: defending the indefensible. I realized that my humor and lightness took flight, not because of the smoke and brutality, but because of the lengths people are going to defend the utterly indefensible, the completely ridiculous. Plane loads of black attired thugs toting “gear”? Dark forces, conspiracy theories run amok? A global pandemic whipped up to make the man in the hot seat look bad? The evil CDC attempting to manipulate data and conspire with the shadow-lurking-socialists to bring down the American president? John Grisham would reject this plot as too absurd.

It should buoy my humor – the ridiculous usually does – except so many in power positions are so complicit, wildly contorting themselves and with straight faces to bend hearts and minds to embrace the rolling fantastical narrative. And, so many are so eager to swallow the puerile stories without nary a thought or question. Where did my smile go? It’s hiding out with Occam’s razor waiting for the restoration of simple reason and good intention.

It’s not funny because it is dangerous. What began with crowd size protestations has fouled and inflamed every fiber of our institutions. We are the frogs in a pot and it is boiling. Half the frogs are screaming, “Wake up! Get out!” and the other half are croaking, “Come in. The water’s fine.”

In the evening we took a walk. There is a whisper of fall in the air. We agreed that it was time to breathe deeply and invite humor and humility back into our minds and hearts and writing.

The best advice I constantly give myself and too-soon-forget is to control my controll-ables and let the rest go. We (I) cannot control this dumpster fire. I miss my good humor and my eyes that are capable of seeing the good and decent in all things. We agreed there is no use screaming into a pot of frogs so dedicated to boiling. Even if we love those frogs who are taking pleasure in the hot, hot water. Boiling is their choice. Sometimes love needs to be sharp but sometimes it needs to recognize the teachable moments. After all, although they may be thinking like toddlers, these are not children racing toward the street; they are adults. There are public servants defending the indefensible and knowingly enticing their constituents into traffic.

The most loving thing we can do now is the American thing: take care of ourselves. Lightness and laughter will carry us toward the shore. This heaviness can and will sink all that we hold dear.

read Kerri’s blog post about DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE

earth interrupted vi ©️ 2018 david robinson

Laugh And Sing [on Two Artists Tuesday]

jimgle johns copy

In the end of the day, it is our sense of humor that saves us.

Drive across this big big country and you will find all manner of Americana to make you shake your head and giggle. Giant balls of string. Giant statues of Superman, Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox. The world’s largest six pack, a palace decorated with corn, and then, of course, there is Las Vegas. We create for ourselves VERY LARGE reminders not to take ourselves too seriously.

I generally feel everyday that I am living in a Salvador Dali painting. Reality twists. The bizarre becomes commonplace. Time bends. Portapotties sing. Craig looked with horror at his mother as she laughed, took out her camera, and took photos of the toilets singing Jingle Bells (and other Christmas Favorites). Craig walked away as Kerri and I walked toward the Quartet. While Kerri snapped pictures I pondered what happened to Porta Paul. He went dark. A bathroom break perhaps?

And, if you have given to believe that there is no shame in this dark dark world, take note: no one approached the potties while they sang. Everyone remained polite and clapped at the end of the set. Craig kept his distance and looked for other parents who were less interested in performing honey buckets. People in need of the relief found other, non-musical facilities. There’s less attention to private matters when the door you pull open is not singing.

All-in-all, a good laugh, a great reminder on this Xmas eve to sing with gusto. If the toilets can do it, so can you.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about JINGLE JOHNS

 

donnieandmarie uke website box copy

Know That You Are Funny [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Before the world of text messaging, it used to be a game for me. Sit in a coffeehouse and catch snippets of conversation. There were little word hysterics everywhere. If you care to listen, so much of life sounds like the first line in a children’s book. I’m not sure why any of us should take ourselves seriously. We are a very funny species when taken in dribs and drabs.

Now that the world conversation has been reduced to tweets and texts, word hysteria is so pervasive, there is no longer a need to venture into a coffeehouse to capture them. I don’t even have to scribble madly to capture them. They come pre-written.  They are flinging through our news. The word hysterics are channels for policy. So few words given so much weight. We are being ruled by children’s book. I can only hope that historians will have a better sense of humor than we currently do. Taken out of context, the hysteria is hysterical.

It is refreshing, then, when someone sends a text and they KNOW that they are being funny. The dachshunds ate by candlelight. John Oz sent me to the floor with gales of laughter. The power was out. The dogs had to eat. What a terrific first line of a children’s book! It opens worlds of possibility (and, what great illustrations!)

Knowing that you are funny. Not taking yourself so seriously. Precision in humor rather than reduction of communication. Pretend connectivity. I breathe a sigh of relief when a bit of intentional consciousness comes through a text. It helps balance the pervasive other kind, the kind we take so seriously, the word hysterics that are meant to close thought. To reduce our thinking. It is funny how easy it is to blunt minds.  So few words; no poetry. Black and white. Children’s book thinking. It’s almost funny.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on DACHSHUNDS

 

prayerflagsinsnow website box copy

Love The Melt [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

snowman copy

This melty fellow reminded me of my favorite Flawed Cartoon. It was among the first in my Flawed Cartoon canon and makes me smile every time I revisit it. Becoming meets Being. Hopes and dreams always come with realities attached and they can be very funny (especially when the attachments are someone else’s).

Tis the season of existential pondering and life review. In the past month, I’ve repeatedly heard the old and wizened caution the young and ambitious that time passes quickly. Your kids will be grown before you know it. Be careful what you wish for. Appreciate your moments. You are your choices. One minute you are a snowflake with possibilities….

Winter solstice. This season when darkest night gives way to the slow return of light. Isn’t that the epicenter of hope? It’s good news for you and me. Not so much for those men and women made of snow. As is true with all things, humor is relative. It’s only funny when it happens to someone else. Of course, with enough cycles, the sun will make puddles of us all (just kidding. Well, okay, not really. But don’t you think this puddle thing would have made a very funny Flawed Cartoon? Why are my ears growing? I think the sunless days are making my mind sag…).

 

SNOWMAN BIG COPY Master

 

read Kerri’s blog post about the SNOWMAN

 

art sale december 2018 copy

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

 

Flawed Cartoons/products ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Eat Some Laughter [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

flawed pillows copy

“Every lie begins with a truth.” Jonathan casually tossed that gem-of-a-phrase into our dinner conversation. I could write pages on his prompt – especially in these times – but that is a rant for another day. What matters at this writing is that, just as a lie is rooted in truth, so is a cartoon.

Today’s pillow onslaught is in honor of Kerri’s designs inspired by our it-went-nowhere-but-made-us-laugh-every-day-Flawed Cartoon. In revisiting her designs, I realized that her pillows reach into the truths that inspired the laughs. Face Your Giant.  Dream. So Much Possibility. You Are What You Eat.

Eat some laughter. Taste some truth. Surround yourself with Kerri’s designs.

(from the Flawed Cartoon Hall of Fame)

Pinochio BIGcopy copy 2

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FLAWED PILLOWS

 

 

laughing website box copy

 

flawed cartoons, designs, & products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Flawed Cartoon Wednesday

a bit of hump day humor from the melange!

49Steps BIGcopy copy 3

One of my favorite things about this week’s Flawed Cartoon is that I drew it years and years before there was a notion of Flawed. I drew it in an era when cell phones were not ubiquitous and looked more like walkie talkies. Were I to draw this cartoon today, my  man walking unconscious through the world would be glued to his phone instead of reading a book. The times have changed. Our distractions have gone electronic. However, the manholes of life remain surprisingly constant.

PAY ATTENTION merchandise/reminders [mugs, cards, wall art, cool stuff]

society 6 info jpeg copy

pay attention RECT PILLOW copy   pay attention SQ PILLOW copy

pay attention LAPTOP SLEEVE copy

i love this laptop sleeve!

‘I AM paying attention’ leggings

 

read Kerri’s thoughts on paying attention

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

 

pay attention! ©️ 1999/2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood