Attend [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” ~Thomas Merton, Love and Living

I had an odd-thought-revelation as we drove into the parking lot of the Hospice Alliance. We were there to make a donation. In cleaning out the house, Kerri found several throw-blankets. She washed and freshened them, preparing them for donation. In a past life she was a volunteer at the Alliance and wanted the blankets to go where they would be the most useful, provide the most comfort.

My mom tells me that my dad’s last days were lovingly tended by amazing hospice caregivers. His passage was eased by their guidance and attention. In some small way, the blanket donation felt like a thank-you-note. I was not present in his final weeks and it brought me comfort knowing he was in the care of such extraordinary people.

And that was the seed of my odd-thought-revelation. As we pulled into the parking lot, on the first bright sunny day in weeks, I stepped out of the car and turned my face to the sun.

In the warmth I understood that we are all in hospice care. Our time is limited. Every single moment is precious. Every single moment is shared. We’d do better if we realized it. We’d do better if we attended to each other, to relieve pain and suffering, to pay attention to the quality of each and every life in our passing moment. In our tender and oh-so-temporary lives.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BLANKETS

Be Grand! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Little pot roasts are popping up everywhere! Adorable bundles of baby smell and killer smiles. In our pal-group, the babies are having babies. And it’s transforming us into something a little more grand.

Not having had children of my own (I am the proud papa of my two given-children), I’ve spent my life as the weird uncle. I taught my toddler niece to say, “I want another margarita!” and my sister was not pleased. I’ve never successfully changed a diaper but I’ve had riotous fun with many crawling creatives, banging pots and breaking crayons. Uncles, like grandparents, are there to break the rules.

Of this I am certain: Kerri dreams of heaping love and presents on her future grand-pot-roasts; I can’t wait to finger paint and then meet after the mess at the Cheerio bar. Green fingers and snacks! A sure sign that life is grand.

read Kerri’s blogpost on SNACK TIME!

[happy mother’s day!]

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Call It A Life [on KS Friday]

Seven years ago today, Beaky passed. The last time we saw her she was clutching a blue notebook to her heart. “You found it!” she exclaimed, rocking back and forth in glee. The journal she kept of a special trip to Europe. A memory, a connection to Erling she thought was lost. We searched the house high and low. We stayed an extra day knowing that meant a 24 hour drive/sprint home. In the last bin, truly , the very last, tucked in the far recesses of the garage, we discovered the notebook.

What I recall about that search is how many times we stopped, dust coated and tired. We sat in the middle of boxes, stacked papers and bins and said, “We’re never going to find it.” Or, “It’s not here.” And then we’d go to the next room of the house, open closets, pull out boxes, the search resumed.

As you might imagine we found more than the blue notebook. That night Kerri told me many stories of family and events sparked by something we’d unearthed. “Oh, my god!” she’d exclaim. “Look at this!” The vet papers for the dog named Shayne. A photo of the family at the house on Long Island. Good times. Stories. Our search became a connection for Kerri to times that she thought were lost.

Memories. Legacy. Doing what is yours to do, looking back and calling that a life.

Eric recently wrote in our Slack channel about my play, The Lost Boy: Your introduction — chronicled on Skips blog — stuck with me, and comes to mind frequently in daily interactions. “This is a memory, after all. It all happened. Though because it’s memory, it probably isn’t factual. So, if I contradict myself, if you catch me saying the opposite of what I just swore was true, if you find me standing smack in the middle of a paradox, it’s not that I’m lying to you. It’s a memory.” The Lost Boy was a story told to me by Tom. Originally, it was meant for him to perform, the story of doing what was his to do. It only became possible to produce after he had slipped into the land of memory. It became mine to do.

And isn’t that the magic of life. What is mine and what is yours to do is never separate. 50 years ago Beaky and Pa took a trip to Europe and she kept a journal of the trip in a blue spiral notebook. 7 years ago Kerri and I spent a long day and night scouring a house to find it. I am now part of the memory of her journal. Her journal is now part of the story of Kerri and my past.

“Never underestimate your power to impact or influence another person’s life,” Paul said to his actors. Doing what is yours to do. Never really understanding or knowing the impact of the simplest action. Calling it a memory. Calling it a life.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about BARNEY

legacy/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Pass The Cheer [on DR Thursday]

We do some quirky things. Driving an aspen tree halfway across America in the back of our car is certainly on the list of quirky.

It’s from a place special to us. We honeymooned at Linda and Bill’s condo in Breckenridge, Colorado. I am from Colorado and our honeymoon trip felt like coming home – for both of us. We return to that special place when we can, though not often enough. There is a trail we like to hike. It’s become an old friend that we need to visit when in the area. If we do nothing else, we strap on our boots and begin the climb. It follows a brook up the side of the mountain. We’ve never made it to the top but one day…

On our mantel is a piece of driftwood from Long Island, Kerri’s home. In our dining room is a log – literally a log – we carried from our trail in Breckenridge. Elemental. We have stones from our respective birthplaces, too. Our house is filled with confused cairns, pointing both east and west.

We named the little aspen tree Breck. It traveled in a pot with its tippy top branches bent against the car ceiling for the ride. It survived the journey. For the first few years it lived in a pot on the deck in the warm months and was wrapped and protected in the winter. Breck’s quaking leaves make us smile and instantly transport us to the special town in the high mountains.

Breck did not like its first spot where we planted it in the yard. The top branches died. When we moved it last fall, we were afraid that Breck would not make it through the winter. We talked to it. We cheered for it. “You can do it!” we chirped. Imagine our relief and celebration a few weeks ago when we went out back and found Breck budding. Lots of buds. More sun. Better soil. New Growth!

A reminder of a special place. A symbol of resilience and a hearty can-do. This spring it feels as if Breck is speaking to us, too. More sun! Better soil! You can do it. New growth. Art-life budding.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BRECK

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

Wag-A-Wag [on DR Thursday]

We call it his wag-a-wag. Dogga came to us with his tail docked, and as an exceptionally happy pooch, his stumpy little tail is often in full expression. He leaves no doubt about his anticipation and enthusiasm. Walk into a room and the wag-a-wag of the supposedly sleeping Dogga will start to flutter. “It would be so good for you to love on me!” And, the wag-a-wag is always right.

Sometimes it seems so simple, this art of living. If I had ten Academy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize or two that would be great, but I wouldn’t trade a single sweet moment with the wag-a-wag for a plaque to hang on my wall or a statue to put on my shelf. Don’t get me wrong, I’d delight in a degree of success, but I know at the end of the day, in my last few moments, I will treasure my life with the wag-a-wag, the mornings on the raft with the sun streaming in the window, drinking coffee, talking about the day, and Dogga rolling over just-within-reach (he’s an Aussie and has a spatial quirk) for his morning belly-belly.

It’s the rule of the wag-a-wag. Walk into the room and signal simple enthusiasm, an expectation of mutual generosity. Not only is it so good for me to love on you but it is so good for you to love on me. One-and-the-same-action.

read Kerri’s blog post about COZY

nap with dog-dog & babycat, 36×48, 2020

nap with dog-dog & babycat © 2020 david robinson

Taste And Adjust [on Merely A Thought Monday]

In our kitchen, I am the sous chef. Second in command. I chop, slice and dice. Then, I place my colorful preparations in glass bowls, carefully arranged relative to the stove so the chef need only reach to add an ingredient to her magic-making. “What’s first?” I ask. “Onions and garlic,” the chef replies, tying on her apron. I know the answer before I ask but it’s our ritual signal, like the kitchen version of “On your mark,” to the runners at the starting line. The onion steps onto the cutting board.

We love to cook together. I have learned through the many phases of my life that my relationship with food mirrors the relationship I have with life. If I attend to the the palette of tastes and textures that I eat, if I take the time to savor and appreciate my food, I carry that attention into every moment of my day. If I rush through and jam any food-like-object into my mouth, I carry that same inattention into my life. Appreciation, savoring, is mindfulness. Slowing down to plan and fully fill the palette of flavor fosters anticipation. Moving through a grocery store or farmer’s market is a wholly different affair when favorite recipes call.

I did not arrive easily at my understanding of food and life. The first recipes I tried were utter disasters. Don’t ask BK about my inaugural batch of lentil soup. It will send him into waves of horror-laughter. I ate it to prove that my cooking was not so bad but could not hide that my soup nearly killed me. And, I remember the moment that I decided to learn to cook. I remember like it was yesterday the understanding that sent me to the stove: I wanted, perhaps for the first time in my life, to take care of myself. More than that, I wanted to fully taste the richness of being alive and to do it, I had first to stop running. One must stand still to fully taste. To savor, one must stand still with others. “What do you think? Kerri asks, “More salt?”

Experimentation, trial and error, are the only way. Taste and adjust. And, isn’t that a terrific life credo?

In the recent past, each week, we try new recipes with 20. We’ve discovered some incredible flavors, our repertoire is expanding. Soups and chilis and stir fry. Mostly, that we intend to make meals together, that we slow down and enjoy each other’s company en route to a new taste, an ingredient that we can’t pronounce, a spice that is unknown. “This might be a disaster,” we say as steaming bowls of deliciousness hit the table. “Well, there’s only one way to find out,” we say as we click together our spoons and dive in.

read Kerri’s blogpost about EATING WELL

a photo from before the pandemic. we can’t wait for this to end so we might create more memories like this one.

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

Travel Here [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

One of the cruelties of multiple daily zoom meetings is that, in addition to seeing other faces, you also stare at your own. “OMG!” I think to myself (of course- who else would I think to), “I look old!” The picture that I see on the screen does not match the picture in my mind. In my mind, I am much younger. “Some old guy stole my voice!” I shout to myself.

Here’s a strange bit of phraseology: I did not know our kids when they were kids. I came into their lives when they were already adults so I don’t have the memories of footie pajamas, bath time or back yard swing sets. During a recent visit with Craig, I realized that Kerri measures her time on earth relative to her children. She’s constantly reconciling the adult son/daughter sitting across the table with the infant son/daughter that she remembers like it was yesterday. “Where did the time go?” she asks, looking at her hands.

We’re all adults now. Well, even staring into the eyes of that dude who stole my voice, I’m cautious about claiming adulthood. I feel as if I stepped into a time machine that thrust me forward in time. I remember myself in footie pajamas as if it was yesterday. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that it’s in the last few laps that you understand the race is all in your mind and the real juice of life is in enjoying a body that can run. Or feel. Or sense. Or love. Or dance. Or hold the hand of the one you adore.

The advice I’d give to our children is the same advice I’d give to myself (and I’d do it, too, if that rat-bastard hadn’t stolen my voice!), “There’s no hurry. This race is not run on a line. It’s a circle. You’re not really getting anywhere more important than where you already are.” It’s a time machine to now.

read Kerri’s blog post about TIME MACHINES

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Connect The Poles [on KS Friday]

Though it is not, this could be a close-up of an x-ray. Arteries carrying blood away from the heart, veins carrying blood back to the heart, and the capillaries that connect the them. Outgoing. Incoming. And the connection between the two. And, as is always true of language, in the naming and the action-describing, the whole system is obscured. This part does this. That part does that. Mechanical mind applied to a miracle of pulsating life.

In North Carolina I overheard an old guy grousing about climate change. He is a sceptic. “There’s record snow in California!” he decried, “And, we’re having record heat here! You can’t have it both ways!” His reluctant listener bobbed her head. “It’s either warming or it’s not!” he railed. “Explain that to me!” Mechanical mind. Parts-thinkers cannot see the whole system. The capillary-word that tumbled from his mouth but bypassed his mind was “record.” The poles are, after all, connected.

I am fascinated by my current work. I am witness to and a participant in the creation of software. The language is familiar though the meanings are new: epic and story. Bug. My mind, lately, has been awhirl. The developers necessarily talk of information as content-objects. Items. The language of “fixed” things. Yet, the problems in the world that they design and solve for are “fluid.” Information, in our day-and-age, never stops. It grows exponentially everyday. It is movement, constant motion. More/faster. Sometimes I get a glimpse behind the curtain and see the developer’s work of content-items-in-motion. You’ve never seen a faster moving current of symbols. Is it a particle or a wave? It depends.

The tree in our front yard reaches toward the house. Kerri tells me that our children climbed through the branches when they were young. When the crew had to clear some branches to trench the yard, Kerri winced each time a branch snapped and fell to the ground. “I can’t look,” she said, not taking her eyes off the tree. Holding vigil. Holding her heart.

It’s easy to forget that, in all cases, no matter the eyes though which we see, the movement is always back to center. To the heart-of-the-matter. The pieces are never isolated. This tree is not separate or distinct from the sky or Kerri’s heart. The poles are always connected, whether we recognize it, see it, acknowledge it, or not. Breathe in. Breathe out. Two actions or one?

read Kerri’s blog post about THE TREE AND SKY

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