Taste The Sound [on KS Friday]

Toadshade trillium. Say it out loud and taste the sounds. Toadshade trillium. Yummy words worthy of e.e. cummings.

I am working in a tech space and keep a document on my desktop: Terms in this Unknown Land. Tech folk speak in acronyms, PAI and SMB, SERP and TAM. Although my colleagues are mostly left-brainers, they are remarkably poetic in their language, peppering their acronym-speak with tasty terms like “cluster calculations” and “stemmings.” I admit to losing the sense of the conversation in the sound. They are, despite the stereotype, passionate and creative and unconsciously poetic. “Plots a curve of probability.”

Toadshade trillium. Plots a curve of probability. Forget the meaning and taste the sound! What might Mary Oliver have done with those syllables!

My lesson this week: I cannot stand and work at my computer all day. I can do the standing (I have a stand-up desk) but staring at a screen eventually shuts down my brain. Across from my stand-up desk is my drafting table. I think better with big pieces of paper and a pencil and then translate back to the computer. I need to move to think but that’s only part of the lesson. When at the drafting table I’m more likely to take things less seriously. I free myself. I get snarky and funny and scribble and draw big arrows and make fun of myself and the logjam in my thinking. I play.

And, while I play, I talk aloud, and hear the sounds of the shapes that I draw. Poetry and motion. Taste the movement. One and the same. Free the thinking. It’s enough to scare the dog but it’s liberating to my kinesthetic necessity. I scribble notes in every direction and dance back and forth between word and image. Consequently, I produce better work.

Thank goodness I finally tasted a few word-sounds that sent me tumbling into a productive scribble dance.

read Kerri’s blogpost about TOADSHADE TRILLIUM

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

pulling weeds/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

Say It Again [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

First, I’ve never heard Kerri use the words “gollygee” or “schnuckums” though, I am wildly impressed that in a single thought-bubble she managed to include both. Now, as all challenges go, I am dedicated to using them three times a day over the next week so I can incorporate them into my vocabulary. “Gollygee, schnuckums, I think I’ll take out the trash.”

I am guilty of applying the word “antiques” to us and much of our day-to-day surroundings. Kerri gives me “that” look every time I suggest that we are chickens-not-of-the-spring. I never suspected that, behind “that” look, was such a benign phrase. Gollygee, schnuckums. I imagined the phrase running through her mind was something more sailor-ish. Salty. Not recommended for public hearing.

Gollygee, schnuckums. An antique phrase. Benign, with hints of tired pleasantry. Love with overtones of irony. Proof positive that our corningware and mixing bowls are properly matched with the era of their users.

And, aren’t you impressed? I used Gollygee, schnuckums three times in a single post. This challenge is going to be a snap!

(*If I go silent, if I suddenly disappear from earth, you’ll know that I used my new phrase one too many times. Don’t blame her. As usual, I will have done it to myself)

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

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Know The Poem [on KS Friday]

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” ~Rainier Maria Rilke

“First robin!” she said.

“What?”

“First robin. That means spring is here!” she looked at me with “duh” eyes. I was new to Wisconsin so the rituals were not yet known to me. I did not yet understand that in this strange land a water cooler is called a “bubbler” and that cheese curds are sacred food. Before the week was out, I’d heard it three times from strangers. “First robin!”

Years ago, during my first winter in Seattle, after months of gray, the sun came out for an hour and all the people working downtown poured out of the tall buildings and stood facing the sun. They moaned with satisfaction. “What’s this!” I exclaimed. Weird behavior. The next year, after months of dreary gray, the moment the sun peeked from behind the drab curtain, I ran out of my apartment to revel in the return. Leaning against a brick wall, eyes closed, feeling the warmth on my face and the heat reaching my bones, I knew this was my passage to becoming a “local”. I moaned with satisfaction.

Poetry is visceral. It has it roots in the moans of sun drinkers and robin-seers. The green pushing up from dark soil. The smell of spring or the first hint of warmth on the winter wind. Words cannot capture feelings but isn’t it glorious that we try?

We were walking the neighborhood on a cold afternoon. She squeezed my hand and pointed. “First robin,” I said and she smiled. “Spring.”

Now, doesn’t “First robin. Spring!” sound like a grand start to a poem of renewal? Ahhhhhh, yes. A hint of warmth on the wind, harbinger of green shoots reaching. Someday soon, sun will call me out of hiding and color my pale face.

read Kerri’s blogpost about FIRST ROBIN

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

baby steps/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

Step Off [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“A tree is not made of wood, it is wood.” ~ Alan Watts, The Watercourse Way

Language is powerful. It’s a drum I have beat for a long time, the notion that we insist that the narratives we wrap around ourselves are somehow “reality.” We are told that 50% of Russians believe the hell wrought on the Ukraine is merely propaganda. A made-up story. Not true. It is the narrative they are fed and, in order to eat it, they must ignore any evidence to the contrary. Their economy crumbles. The ruble falls. How could they not see it? Don’t laugh. 40% of USAmericans still believe the last presidential election was stolen, a plausible story only if wearing blinders with fingers placed firmly in ears. Burying your head in the sand is not a Russian or American trait, it’s uniquely human. We see what we believe, not the other way around. Our language makes it so.

Years ago I read that the word “wild” could only come from a people who believe all things must be tamed. Wild makes no sense without the concept of tame. Wild, bad. Tamed, good. So, a people afraid of their own “nature” must become tamers. A people who think “nature” not only can be but must be managed. To be “above” it all, in charge and atop the pyramid, giver of names. It is the necessary narrative for such tamers of the wild, those who story their very nature as corrupt. Tamed, good. Above it all. Separate. Is it any wonder the intrinsically conflicted human world rarely embraces peace? Our narrative leads us to believe, amidst so much inner and, therefore, outer conflict, peace is something to be created because we are naturally conflicted. What else?

Where, exactly, does wild end and tame begin? Where’s the line that delineates nature from civilization? What if nature is neither good nor bad? What if your nature was neither good nor bad? Perhaps self-love would be within reach and, as a natural extension, the love of others, too. It’s an alternative narrative though not possible in a belief-story that fears the wild. Wholeness begins with a step off the pedestal.

It’s in the language. Somehow separate from the world in which we live, not “in” nature or “of” nature , we are deluded to believe we are made of different stuff. Above it. Divinely manufactured. Made.

Manufactured. Made. Trees made of wood.

And, just what are we made of? I guess it depends on the story we decide to tell. Wild stuff.

read Kerri’s blogpost about TREES

Stack The Impossible [on Merely A Thought Monday]

We watched the video of Jaxon climbing the ladder of the red plastic slide. His momma said, “Is that your big boy slide?” Jaxon said, “Big boy slide.” Pandemonium. “He said it!” his father exclaimed, “I think he said it!”

Big boy slide. A first phrase. The moment when what’s necessary becomes what’s possible. It’s something we take for granted every day. The utter impossibility of spoken language. Sounds uttered in sequence that somehow make sense. Of course, we’re also quite capable of stringing together sounds that make nonsense, too. Soon, Jaxon will ask his parents for the keys to the car and a wholly different kind of pandemonium will let loose. From climbing a ladder to driving the Volvo. The impossibilities stack one upon the other.

My mother is adjusting to life without my dad. She says often, “I don’t think I can take it, this loneliness.” She is doing what is necessary. In our last chat, she spoke of playing pickleball, of taking a walk, of meeting a friend for tea. Moving with intention out of the apartment to meet other people. The moment when the necessary becomes what’s possible. She will, I am confident, live her way into the impossible.

The impossible rarely happens in a snap. We live our way into it. Jaxon’s pronouncement and subsequent trip down the big boy slide was a long time coming, a step in the process worthy of celebration. And then, the miracles will keep coming. Full sentences. He’ll learn to write. Someday he’ll write love letters and drive the car to pick up his date. He’ll ask someone to marry him. The art of the impossible. This life.

And, the most amazing of the impossibilities, as we stack our lives with the formerly inconceivable, we grow less and less capable of seeing it. Perhaps that is necessary? How would we exist if we saw each other as keepers of the impossible? Experiencers of the unimaginable?

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE IMPOSSIBLE

Name Your Wine [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“Ooooh,” I said, reading the bottle, “I want to be untamed and unbound. Plush and jammy!” She rolled her eyes. I won’t tell you what she said. There might be children reading.

As wine bottles often do, it inspired an interval of time paying attention to the phrases I paste on the labels of my life. What if I described my days with wine-label terminology? Last week was definitely earthy and robust. Crusty with hearty notes of calamity.

In my work life, I’m hearing with alarming frequency the word taxonomy. We need to create a taxonomy. We are approaching a taxonomy. The study of naming. The science of definition. With what classification will we identify, and therefore label, our creation? If our product was wine, what would we say of it? Bold and expansive, yet subtle and refined? Are we talking about what it is, what it does, or defining it so it will sell? Those levers are never mutually exclusive. A written language is always an abstraction. Reaching yet never hitting its mark.

Aren’t we living in an age where the world is seeking a new-ish taxonomy? Spin your news channels and hear the same story-wine described in remarkably contradictory terms. What is fruity to one audience is classified as filthy to the other. Two labels, one wine. One team refusing to taste for themselves. We brand ourselves “divided.”

William Shakespeare either created or wrote for the first time in the English language over 1,700 words. I want him on my taxonomy team. I want him to lead my wine-life-labeling committee. Though, I imagine he would be amused to tears at our wild word-world of marketing, our reality-wielding-“news” channels, he wouldn’t be at all surprised that the power of a label pasted on an experience. “Call it what you will,” he might say, “It’s a sorry sight.” No matter. Words, words, words.

Sorry sight! A great name for a wine. A bold red blend for a brave new world. William gives it two thumbs up. Edgy and energetic, nutty and dippy with hints of crackers.

read Kerri’s blog post about WINE LABELS

Blur The I [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

We capture quotes all week. Some we see. Some we hear. Some find their way into the Melange. Most do not. We usually note where we heard or found the quote so we remember the context. It’s a practice. It’s not as if we are perpetually eavesdropping on conversations. We’ve simply tuned ourselves to immediately write the amazing words and phrases that catch our attention.

A common phrase is mind-over-matter. Athletes and actors and dancers are conditioned to ignore the limits of their bodies. To keep going. The mind as master over body. I loved this quote because it is the flip side. The mind, the “I”, wanted to stop but the body did not listen. It kept going.

Lately I’ve been reading about – so, paying attention to – the false separations that language necessitates: Mind and body are spoken of, thought of, as separate things. And, the question is this: where does one begin and the other end? Mind over matter. Body did not listen. I made myself do it. Once you start listening for it, it is ubiquitous. Exactly where is the line between “I” and “myself”? When your toe is in pain, isn’t your whole body is in pain? Follow your gut. What does your heart say?

When Dogga gets excited, his little body bounces. He runs in circles. He has to work hard to sit still. Say, “Do you want to go…” and he’s bouncing before the words “on errands?” reach his ears. He knows he won’t actually go on errands until he first sits on the rug. Eventually, he bounces his way into compliance. Control follows unbridled enthusiasm. Control is a means to an end. Rug before errands. Sit before snack.

Dogga might say, while bouncing enthusiastically, “I wanted to stop but my body kept going!”but I doubt it. Given his unified happy spirit, I’m certain the phrase would come out of his muzzle this way: I wanted to stop but I kept going. Watching him is like reading the I-Ching: no separation.

read Kerri’s blogpost about I AND BODY

Wander In Wonderland [on Two Artists Tuesday]

I’ve re-read his email several times. Skip’s explanation of the development of the computer. Subject/Object. Noun/Verb. Items/Action. It’s a story of cause and effect. This causes that. I’ve learned more from this single email than from my very expensive graduate degree. And, it’s sent me down the rabbit hole and I am currently in a world easily as miraculous as Alice’s Wonderland.

Does the moon cause the tides? It does if you are an English-speaker. Causation is the foundation structure of the English language. An action needs an initiator. The noun is king. He kicked. The sea rocked the boat. The moon causes tides. If you speak Mandarin, the moon and the tides are inseparable, not perceived or described as separate events but as interconnected. The same dance, differentiated forms.

Where does an action begin? A consequence end? I warned you. A rabbit hole.

Our perception of the world has everything to do with the language we use to describe it. Our creating of the world has everything to do with the language we use to imagine it. In a world where actions are separate from items, verbs from nouns, this causes that, it’s easy to believe that order is separate from disorder, cosmos is separate from earth, humans are separate from nature. Death is separate from life. Is it?

Each year that passes I’ve noticed the world of written communication includes more emojis and fewer words. Attention spans are shorter – mine, too. Tweet and text. Images carries the bulk of the message. If you could see the analytics on my blog you’d note that if I use more than 600 words, you are less likely to read what I write. We are slowly moving toward ideograms and slowly away from alphabets. Whatever will we do, what might we see, when nouns and verbs blend into image? When the eyes of dedicated separation begin to see through the eyes of interconnectivity – or, as Skip says, “When actions become central.”

It’s called a Wolf Moon, I read, because wolves are particularly loud and vocal during the first months of the year. One questioner asked if the moon causes the wolves to howl. Noun/Verb. Subject/Object.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE WOLF MOON

Point The Way [on Merely A Thought Monday]

“You can accomplish with kindness what you cannot by force.” ~ Publilius Syrus

It’s one of the most interesting Wikipedia pages I’ve come across. Publilius Syrus. A life described in two sentences that conclude with this: “…but by his wit and talent he won the favor of his master, who freed and educated him. The rest of the page are maxims attributed to him. A Syrian. A Roman slave. An observer of human-kind.

We live in a world of ubiquitous maxims. They are posted everywhere, in stores, billboards, and elementary school signboards. Appeals to our better nature. Choose kindness. There are, of course, plenty of appeals to our worse nature, too. It’s as if our maxims are in a tug-of-war. I imagine that Publilius Syrus experienced in his short life both ends of the rope, the cruel and the kind, which is why he wrote so many maxims.

This quote came across my screen so I wrote it on a lilac colored post-it note and stuck it to my monitor. It may or may not be from Christina Wodtke: “When you make complex things, words eventually fail.” Life is a complex thing that words will always fail to describe or contain. The best a word can do is point to something, or the way to something. A maxim, an ideal, is, after all, a signpost, a direction. A choice of path. A point-of-view is created during those moments of choosing.

Kindness is not a thing. It’s not a word – not the word. The word simply points the way to something so complex, so boundless, that the word will always fail. But, we know it when we see it. We know it when we offer it. We know it when we receive it. We know with certainty when we choose it and when we do not.

read Kerri’s blog post about CHOOSE KINDNESS

Color The Language [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

In the cartoon version of our life, Kerri cleans up my language. I never use the word “beeswax” when there are more colorful options available. I’m an artist. Color is my thing.

It’s hard to explain the inner imperative that drives an artist to spend their precious life composing or painting or dancing, even amidst the knowledge that heeding their inner call might never pay the bills. I know many, many people who’ve snuffed their artistry because it simply doesn’t make financial sense. They are now like boiled fish. The ‘”good living” that they make doesn’t replace the vitality-in-life that they ignore. Source is source.

I also understand that the answer, “Because I have to…” must sound childish to someone who has never operated out of an inner necessity or something more meaningful than making-money. I actually understand their eye-roll and less-than-subtle-but-always-predictable response about the need to “take responsibility…” They’re really saying, “Grow up.”

What I’ll never understand is the gap. For instance, Kerri’s music is all over the world. She is regularly stopped on the street or contacted by people who reach to tell her that her music moves them, touches their souls, makes their day, opens their hearts, calms their fears… And, then, she’s asked what’s she’s really going to do (for a living). Or, better, if she’ll play for free. Or why it bugs her that Pandora or Spotify make money – lots of money – on her music – and that is the reason why she is not. The gap between those two poles is…mind boggling. And, into the gap, the question is always dropped: What are you really going to do?

So, I paint the question with vivid colorful language because it makes my love laugh but definitely needs scrubbing before publication.

read Kerri’s blog post about BEAUTY

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com