Hold On And Smile [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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I do not know the full history of the Ernie straw. I only know that he holds a place of reverence in our odds-n-ends drawer. And, when Ernie makes an appearance, there is general celebration, photos taken and texted, and laughter-rooted-in-deep-memory swirls like the straw through our kitchen. I watch and appreciate their glee.

I do not share the lived history that Kerri and our children share. They are, as Michael Perry taught me to say, rather than my step-children, they are my given-children. At Kerri and my wedding, my newly given-children shook my hand and said mechanically, “Welcome to the family.” And then they laughed and hugged me tight. Our memories together are new and have tender, shallow roots. We are early in the creation of our history together.

This summer, I was on Island and Kerri made a trip home to see Kirsten. During our late in the evening phone call, Kerri was thrilled that Kirsten had found the Ernie straw and was using it everyday! She sent me pictures. Kirsten posing with Ernie joyfully spiraling out of her cup. I heard Kirsten laughing in the background. Kerri joined her laughter and they giggled me through their history with Ernie.

Ernie is out of the drawer every day since Kerri broke her wrists. He fits nicely into the lid of her Hydro Flask, the only safe coffee-delivery-system. Ernie has been seen rocketing out of her wine glass, too. These days he does duty on both ends of the day.

Mostly, I’m delighted to be making memories with Ernie. The next time he comes out of the drawer I will be more than an passive watcher, a mere listener to the stories of the Ernie straw. I now have real experiences with Ernie. I am slowly entering the weave of story, the fabric of participation. And, like Ernie clutching tight to his corkscrew straw, I couldn’t be more pleased to be winding my way into this part of the tapestry.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about the ERNIE STRAW

 

 

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Noodle [on KS Friday]

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It happened again. We’d just finished rehearsal. Kerri began to play and guitar Jim joined. As the non-musician in the group, my job is to listen and bask in their playing. It’s tough duty but I’ve resigned myself to it. I take my role seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I always make the same mistake. I always assume they are playing a piece that they know. They aren’t.

I can be forgiven for my mistake. First, they are effortless. Easy. Secondly, they appear to know where they are in the piece and also know where they are going. They don’t. They are making it up as they go.

There is a guiding rule in improvisational theatre: say ‘yes’ to the offer coming your way. Go with it, not against it. Listening to Kerri and guitar Jim is like witnessing masters of the rule. Their ‘yes’ is so complete, that they cease being two players and merge into one river of sound. In my mind, this merging is  the very reason, the ultimate purpose of art. When the audience falls into the world of the play, the soul of the witness enters into the soul of the painting, the listener gives over and becomes the music. The tribe knows who they are by the stories they tell. Shared experience. Say ‘yes.’

When they play their final note together, I always ask when they last played the piece. I don’t remember hearing it before. They smile and tell me “Never.” They were noodling. Making it up as they go. Playing together.

It’s like a sand painting. here for a moment and then gone. “No one will ever hear that one again,” Jim and Kerri laugh.

I always wish that I had a recorder running and then, I remind myself that point is not to capture it. I am greedy in wanting to share all that I am fortunate enough to experience. The power of the moment, the potency of the sand painting, is not diminished, rather it is increased, when the wind joins and sweeps the sand away.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on NOODLING

 

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go here for all of kerri’s albums though you’ll find none of her noodling in these many, many albums (there are more albums than seen here).

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Slow Down And Join [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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We were in Madison at the campus. It was Friday afternoon and the party was already raging. Music thumping, horns honking, people pouring out of class, racing to feel the freedom of week’s end. The rush hour was revving. Cars swerving, cutting in and out, vying for ‘the advantage’. People all around hurrying to be some-other-place.

We went to Madison to flee the noise and mess of our life. We needed a mini-getaway. A breather from walking into our current life-headwind. We thought we’d walk a bit. Grab some dinner. I’d never actually been to Madison. We forgot it was Friday. We chose a destination without really thinking it through. In our search for peace we stepped into chaos.

So, we fled Madison. A day of double fleeing. Or, one long extended flee.

Leaving Madison we knew without doubt where to find refuge. When you walk through the doors of Cafe Carpe in Fort Atkinson you step back in time. It is a place dedicated to the simple art of slowing down. It is a place where people come to be together, to chat and laugh and linger. To join. There is a backroom with a stage no larger than the average kitchen table. Musicians passing through know that it is a good place to stop and play. People listen. And then they talk to you about making music and relevance.

We sat at the end of the bar and watched people trickle in, join their friends, enter the storytelling. A woman stepped through the door and asked if anyone knew about the poetry reading at the library.

“That was last night. I heard it was good.”

“You mean I missed it?” the woman rolled her eyes. The cafe crowd erupted in laughter. “Yep.” The woman took off her coat and sat down. People introduced themselves to her. She joined.

Screwed to the bar where we sat were two small brass plaques. Just Bob. Just Leslie. Kerri asked the bartender about the plaques. “Oh, Bob and Leslie come in every Friday night.  They have for years. They put those plaques on the bar to mark their spot. Should be here any minute.” she said.

“Let us know when they come and we’ll move,” Kerri offered.

“Oh, they won’t make you move. They wouldn’t want that. But they might want to join you and have a drink.” she smiled.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CAFE CARPE

 

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