Write The Essential [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I’m not sure what stacks up around your house. At our house, the stacks are paintings, cartoons, designs, composition notes, manuscripts, folios, notebooks of ideas, scraps of paper jammed into the notebooks of ideas, lyrics a-go-go, and the supplies necessary to make the other stacks possible. Colored pencils, brushes, too many composition books, canvas, tissue paper, paint, sketchbooks, art books, and the stacks-and-stacks of stuff teetering on the piano and bench that somehow resemble a nest.

All of this is to note that we are fantastic generators of content and equally inept marketers of what we generate. Thus, the stacks. It was this realization – and the necessity of making a living – that one year ago gave birth to the melange. Melange means ‘mixture’ or ‘medley.’

The idea was simple: Monday would be dedicated to our cartoon, Chicken Marsala. Tuesday would be dedicated to our Two Artists designs. Wednesday was Flawed Cartoon day. Thursday was for my paintings. Friday was for Kerri’s music. We created a Society6.com store for each day, set about designing 5 product lines a week (oh, god,…more content). Through our blogs we’d write about and publish the day’s selection, he-said/she-said-style. People all over the world would read what we wrote, be captivated by the cartoon, design or composition, and race to the Society6.com store to buy a print or a mug or a laptop sleeve or a greeting card. Content out, income, well…in.

And, it happened. People all over the world read our blogs. And, almost no one raced to the Society6.com stores. We studied a few things, learned a few things, reconfigured, tried a few social-media-marketing variations, bought ad space, waved our hands, jumped up and down, danced silly dances – we pivoted and pivoted again.

More readers. Less-than-no shoppers.

One day, after eight months, we looked at each other and considered pulling the plug and would have pulled the plug except for one small-yet-oh-so-important detail: we love to write together. In the course of a year, the melange managed to boil itself down to its essence. Each day Kerri writes her post. “Don’t look!” she says as I, sitting next to her,  write mine. And then, before posting, we share them. We read to each other. It’s always a surprise (though mine are predictably “heady” and hers are 100% “hearty”).

When I looked back at our first post one year ago I laughed at the irony. Love needs no words. Well, in this case, in our case, love revels in words. There are too many words for the love to contain. And, so, our stacks grow happily higher and higher and higher.

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read Kerri’s blog post about A YEAR IN MELANGE

 

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chicken marsala ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Open The Box [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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The other night, over a glass of wine, I listened as Kerri, Jen and Brad talked of the things they’ve stored from the lives of their children. Finger paintings, drawings, school projects. There are bins of irreplaceable treasures, moments captured in crayon and paste. Their conversation came around to this question: are these treasures as valuable to the children that made them as they are to the parents that collected them? Who are they storing them for?

I don’t have children of my own. I’ll never know what it means to raise a child so the best I can do during these conversations is listen. I can, however, appreciate the enormous love that flows through the conversation. There isn’t gold or rare coins in those plastic bins. Yet, I am certain, that given the choice between a bin of gold doubloons or keeping their children’s artifacts, the response would be unanimous. The doubloons are worthless when compared to the memories stored in those bins.

Over the new year we went to Florida. During our time there we had the opportunity to go through the storage unit that contained the remaining boxes from Beaky’s house. It’s been three years since she passed. Beaky’s daughters opened every box and the majority of the items were sorted into a donation pile or throwaway pile. A few bins, photographs mostly, were too monumental of a task so were put in the third pile: sort someday. A very few artifacts, rare treasures, surfaced from the boxes: a calendar where Beaky jotted thoughts about her days, a special note. Letters and drawings that she’d saved. Something she touched and cherished because it came from one of her children.

My parents are still with me, I am fortunate, so I don’t know what it means to lose them. The best I can do during these times is listen. I can, however, appreciate the enormous love that flows through the conversation. I am certain, that when time blows us all away, our accumulated possessions, our stuff, our oh-so-important achievements, will hold little or no lasting value. Oh, but those small notes, those child-hand scribbles, those shaky old-hand letters…the artifacts of our relationships, for the children sorting through our remaining boxes, priceless.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about STORAGE

 

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Be With [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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In the cliche’ hall of fame, this phrase probably sits atop the pile: the best present is being present. And, if you stop for a moment and think about it, this phrase is undeniably true. That is the reason it has the top spot in the cliche’ universe.

We gather. The ritual provides the reason. We gather to affirm. To revivify the story. To nourish the one thing that matters: our relationship to one another. The rest is merely accoutrement.

This season I saw many many photos of families gathered around a table. People shared photos of their loved ones standing by a tree, in the snow, on the beach, organized on a staircase, in a kitchen. People traveling to be with their people. On the cards we sent to family and friends we wrote, “Thinking of you.” What we meant was, “Wanting to be with you.”

In the many photos that people shared with me, no one showed me a photo of the stuff they received. No one showed me a photo of the stuff they gave. They showed me the reason they were giving and receiving the stuff. The relationship.

Sometimes it hides in plain sight.

And, since the relationships are the epicenter, there is only one thing that sits atop the pyramid of gifts given and received. And, every day it is the same: presence. Being with.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE BEST PRESENT

 

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Look To The Odds [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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With every bizarre image comes a good story and that is certainly true of this odd affair.

A few hours after I dropped Kerri at the airport for her flight to Colorado I was cutting paper for a project. My x-acto knife wasn’t paying attention and rode up the ruler and through my left index finger. I bled so much that I decided NOT to tell Kerri. I didn’t want to worry her on her trip.

An hour later, walking around the house with my finger above my head, trying to get the bleeding to stop, a text came in from Kerri. She was cutting stems from daisies and the knife slipped. She cut a nasty gash in her left index finger. She was bleeding so much that she wanted me to know.

What are the odds? We calculated that our accidents happened within the same hour.

Our story is one of strange connectivity. We started paying attention to it when, long before we laid eyes on each other, we discovered that we had the same middle name.

What are the odds?

When we met, that first day at O’Hare International Airport, I stepped off the plane to find a woman dressed just like me (black sweater, jeans, boots,… The Truth: our closets are mostly identical – filled with blue jeans and black things though she has more variety in tops and waaaaaay more shoe choices).

What are the odds.

I won’t bore you with the now long list of weird coincidences and connectivity. Nowadays, when Kerri breaks her baby toe, as she does once a quarter, I immediately put on my steel toed boots and move slowly around the house.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LEFT INDEX FINGERS

 

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Listen To You’re The Wind [A New Song on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

In our house we mark significant and auspicious dates (actually, we think all days are auspicious). Today is one of those. I never knew Kerri’s father. Her mother, Beaky, had a profound impact on my life during the 18 months that I knew her. Beaky and I united in two common causes: 1) To convince Kerri that her naturally curly hair was beautiful and to stop blowing her curls away, and 2) To convince Kerri to share with the world her music, those incredible unrecorded pieces – some of her best work – that live only in a notebook by the piano. Today is an auspicious day! It would have been Beaky and Pa’s 75 anniversary. It is also the day that Beaky gets one of her wishes  (hint: Kerri’s hair is still straight so…more work to do).

 

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about YOU’RE THE WIND

 

 

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you’re the wind ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

Fly Between The Poles [on DR Thursday]

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a morsel from ‘angel.’ kerri calls it ‘you can’t hold the sun’

Icarus‘ wings were made of wax and feathers. His father, Daedalus, made them so he and Icarus could escape their imprisonment. Before taking flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low nor too high. Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and his wings fell apart. He fell from the sky and drowned.

We see most of the Greek stories sifted through a post-Greek moralistic lens. Fly to high, hubris. Fly too low, complacency. The world as defined by polarities. Heaven, hell. Good, bad. Right, wrong. There’s another possibility.

Quinn used to tell me that the point of all the world’s religions, the message in all the great stories, is to find the middle way. To live in the center. This world, he said, will try its best to tug you to the extremes. It will dose you with propaganda, half truths. It will glorify US and demonize THEM. It will bamboozle you into twisted notions like ‘the dehumanization of others is okay.’ It is the lucky person that realizes that it is impossible to strip others of their humanity without also losing their own. Polarities are like that.

So, seek balance. Walk between the tug of the poles. It is the point of presence – live here, not in the scary future nor the regrettable past. Fly, not too close to either pole, but through the middle. Now. It’s possibly the point of the story.

This morsel is called You Can’t Hold The Sun. It’s true. You can’t stop time. No moth can withstand the flame. The sun will melt your waxy wings. The sea will make your feathers heavy with dew. Either way, you fall.

In the face of too much moralizing, Kerri will say, “If it’s not about kindness or joy, it’s not about anything.” That’s a statement from the center. I like to think that this center place, this middle way that Quinn told me about, is what we call love.

 

 

 

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

you can’t hold the sun/angel ©️ 2018/2004 David Robinson

Bring It [on KS Friday]

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It happened again today. Taking a walk in our neighborhood this morning a woman stopped us to tell us that we make her smile. We always walk arm in arm or holding hands. “You make me feel happy,” she said.

At first we were surprised by the people that stopped us. It’s been a curiosity in our relationship since the beginning that people are compelled to stop us to tell us that we make them smile. On the street, in airports, at restaurants, in hotel lobbies, farmer’s markets. Once, a shopkeeper came out of his store to tell us, “You two are a cute couple! It’s good!” he said, giving us a thumbs up. Another time, we were at the grumbling end of a heated debate and a woman, wrestling with her English, said, “You walk together! Same stride. It’s beautiful!” She clasped her hands to her heart and walked on. Suddenly, our disgruntled debate seemed…stupid. We laughed.

It makes us smile. They make us smile. Every time. These people who think that we  bring a bit of light into their day are actually bringing a warm joy-feel into ours.  It’s a loop. Or a mirror. Either way, it is a reminder of how love works in this big old world. Bring it and it will come looking for you.

SAME SWEET LOVE on the album AS SURE AS THE SUN available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SAME SWEET LOVE

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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same sweet love/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood