Pollinate [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

bee and thistle copy

“The Bee and Thistle sounds like a bar!” I quipped as Kerri knelt to take the shot. And, as we later discovered, it is! It is many bars! Pollination meets inebriation. Poetry or symbol or both. I can’t help but imagining little bees flitting from tap to tap, bees with beer bellies. Belching bees.

The US Department of Agriculture reports that pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we take. Flowering crops need those pollen-drunk bees flitting about to fertilize the plants. Without them, the whole system breaks down. Such a little thing. Such a necessary thing. Bees are in decline.

It seems the theme emerging from this week’s studio melange is the power of the small thing, the small gesture, the small act of kindness, the small bee. The little things taken for granted that go largely unnoticed until they are gone. And then the loss is titanic.

Austin wants to keep bees. Well, truth be told, he already has a small number of hives. A few days ago he received some queen bees in the mail. He ordered them on Amazon [if you doubt that we live in a remarkably strange time, reread that last sentence]. One of his queens escaped from her little matchbox mailer and when Austin opened the package the queen flew away. She apparently had other plans.

He told me the story of the queen’s escape and I knew exactly where he could find his fleeing bee. “She’s in a bar,” I suggested. “The Bee & Thistle.”

Austin wrinkled his nose and then laughed, “I guess I’ll have to order another queen and request one without a drinking problem.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BEES AND THISTLES

 

 

handshadowstones website box copy

Make A Small Gesture [on Two Artists Tuesday]

small gestures copy

We’ve built our towering life together on the small gesture. Coffee in bed. A note stashed in a suitcase to be found when far away from home. We hold hands everywhere we go. When getting ready for bed, the first one in the bathroom always puts toothpaste on both brushes. Little kindnesses. The smallest of signals and courtesies that say nothing more and nothing less than, “You matter most of all.”

Looking for the grand plan that will change the world or, better, trying to be the grand plan, often blinds us to the real necessity of the moment. We look for the mountain that needs to be moved and miss the hand that needs to be held.

My younger, revolutionary self screams, “WHAT?! WE NEED TO PUSH BACK! WE NEED TO FIGHT THE SYSTEM!! WE NEED TO CHANGE THE WORLD!!! THIS SMALL-MOMENT STUFF IS THE CRAP-THINKING OF AN OLD PERSON! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!!!!

I’ve been more changed by a smile from across the room than by all the agitation that I’ve engendered across the span of my life. I have initiated more change by holding my tongue than by wagging it. Listening, I’ve learned, is a most powerful small gesture.

If I am old (I don’t feel old), if I have learned anything, then I have learned that real love is not noisy or flashy or grand. It is quiet. It steps behind you when you are frightened, puts its hand on your back and whispers, “I’ve made you a toothbrush.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SMALL GESTURES

 

cropped head kiss website copy

UpLift [on Merely A Thought Monday]

cohesion copy

And, what is the opposite of cohesion? Incoherence. The lack of clarity or unity. Fracture.

For a period of time my work on this earth was essentially a meditation on power. Power with. Power over. After a while I understood that power-over was not really power at all; it was control. Control and power are two very different things. They are often confused.

Power is something created with others. Control is something done to others. The equation is simple: the more controlling a person is, the less powerful they actually are. A person who understands his/herself as powerful has no need to assert control over others.

A leader invested in control has only one sure route to controlling: to fracture. To divide. It is the way of the truly powerless. Incoherence and chaos are great tools if control is the aim. Destroy the unity. Play to the disgruntled. Feed the fire of those who are feeling powerless. Promise them control. Pushing others down to elevate the self can only end badly. Everyone drowns.

People secure in their power create cohesion. They unite. They uplift. Power is a force that grows between people. It cannot be owned by one. It is always the province of the community. A person secure in her/his power generates unity. What else? The power they feel within is an expression of the power they experience with.

Community is a word that implies cohesion. To commune. Common. And, what could be more common than a central focus, the intention to support and bring out the best in all.

What is the opposite of a powerful person?

 

read kerri’s blog post about COHESION

 

alice's restaurant, california websitebox copy

 

 

 

Taste The Dream [on KS Friday]

each new day songbox copy

I just finished reading The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai. There is an image in the book that I adore. A fish dreaming of a root beer float. In fact, the root beer float is the fish’s greatest dream, a seemingly impossible one to achieve. A little girl offers a solution. The fish should be in the root beer float, eating the dream from the inside.

Living inside the dream rather than chasing it. Language matters. Dreams are notoriously ethereal, very difficult to grasp. Impossible to chase. Wrap your fingers around a dream and it changes shape.

But, to stand within the dream, to live inside it, savoring each moment lived as a bite from life. A taste of the dream. No chase necessary. A fish in a root beer float. Each new day a bite to be relished. Each new day a taste of the dream.

 

EACH NEW DAY on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about EACH NEW DAY

 

vailKdotDdot website box copy

 

each new day/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Note The Milestone [on DR Thursday]

David RobinsonYoga Series 7 - Version 2

Some paintings are milestones, markers of change. This is one of those paintings.

And, although I recognized it as a marker, I had no idea what to call it. Since it was the seventh in a new series of experiments that I called ‘yoga’ paintings, I cleverly named this piece Yoga Series #7. A catchy title, don’t you think?

It became the lead image on my website. It was the banner image on my society6.com store. It was the image that identified this blog site for a few years.

I painted it a full two years before I met Kerri. Early in our lives together, I showed her my paintings, this painting. She asked me what I called it and I told her. #7. Sometimes my wife looks at me like I’m an idiot. Actually, she stares at me with a searing look of utter incomprehension. Her thought bubble carries a single word, “dullard.” This was the first time I experienced “the look.”

“That just won’t do.” she said. “It’s your icon. I think you should call it Iconic.”

Not only was it the first time I experienced “the look,” it was also the first time I received “the correction.”

“Iconic,” I said, pretending to try it on for size, feigning that the decision was mine alone to make and secretly loving that the decision was now – and forever – a joint affair. The moment was iconic.

“I like it,” I said.

David RobinsonYoga Series 7 - Version 2

iconic, 54 x 54IN, mixed media

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ICONIC

 

 

BootsWeddingBoots website box copy

 

iconic ©️ 2010 david robinson

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

Balance [on Two Artists Tuesday]

prayer flags 1 copy

Each day we sit on the deck and watch the personality of the lake change. We are witness to the power of the elements at play. Wind drives wave. Wave evaporates and moves wind. Lighting hits earth. Rain feeds the plants. Too much rain, too much wind, too much fire, devastates.

Balancing the elements. It is the central thought in many traditions. The cardinal directions are associated with a color and an element. North, south, east, west. Air, fire, water, earth. People need associations in order to talk about things. In order to know where they fit.

The colors differ from tradition to tradition. Sometimes black, white, red, and yellow. Sometimes blue, green, yellow, red. Sometimes there is a fifth element. There is always a center. When there is the understanding of center point there is also an acknowledgment that separations, experiences like north, south, east and west, are illusions.

Balance is a radically different intention than dominance. Taming-your-nature is not the same as balancing-your-nature. In the tame-your-nature idea, nature, your nature, is corrupt and needs to be controlled. In the balance-your-nature idea, your nature is neither good nor bad, it is a dance of energy, a push-pull of wind and fire, air and earth. In the balance-your-nature idea, there is no such thing as “wild.” because there is no intention to “tame.”

As you might imagine, the artist that explores the tame-your-nature mindset understands their artistry much differently than the artist that explores balance. I was born into and oriented toward the culture of tame-your-nature and so I divine through brush and story the push-pull between goodness and badness. Combat, combat everywhere. Right/wrong. Us/Them. Good enough/lacking.

I desire to see through the other lens. I suspect this desire is the epicenter, the driver behind my paintings. To understand the world I inhabit as energies at play, to know beyond an intellectual understanding that the distinctions don’t really exist; wind is not separate from water, earth is not separate from fire, people are not separate from planet. Illusion. Our division is a play of shadow puppets at best.

I think it is why we hang prayer flags at our littleislandhouse and at our home. Surrounded by combat, we are drawn by the desire to balance, we are enticed by the possibility of harmony.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PRAYER FLAGS

 

 

 

 

skylake website box copy

 

island prayer flags photograph ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood