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

Skip Again And Again [on Two Artists Tuesday]

On this day* nine years ago I exited an airplane, walked down the concourse, a little nervous to finally meet the woman with whom I’d been corresponding – an email every day – for the past 6 months. She’d written the previous evening that “she’d be the one holding a daisy” so I’d recognize her. I laughed since it hadn’t occurred to her that I’d studied her album covers and would recognize her with or without the daisy. She was at a distinct disadvantage since my face was nowhere to be found in the Google-sphere.

I exited the concourse, saw the woman holding the daisy, and knew I was meeting the woman who would someday be my wife. I knew it. I’d seen this moment before…

We stared at each other and laughed: black shirts, blue jeans, and boots. Both. We were dressed like twins. A hug amidst the laughter, we turned, holding hands, and spontaneously skipped out of the airport.

Two years later, after saying, “I do,” we held hands and, without a second thought, skipped out of the church.

Nine years ago, either my life changed or my life finally arrived. Either way, today (like every day in my lucky, lucky life) is a day to celebrate holding hands and skipping.

[We’ve decide this is our new song. You & Me by Eldar Kedem. It’s good for skipping]

*May 14

read Kerri’s blogpost about SKIPPING

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

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

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

Arrive At The Essence [on Two Artists Tuesday]

This past Saturday we passed a milestone. We began writing our Melange on February 12, 2018, four years ago. We’ve published 5 days a week, every week, no matter what chaos or crazy storm blew through our lives.

Our Melange has moved through many phases. Originally, we wanted to regain some control over the publication of our music, paintings, plays, children’s books and cartoons. In our first post I called it our “pile of creative perseverance.” Also, we wanted to make a living from our mountain of work so we set up Society6 storefronts and spent hours each day developing products based on what we published. It was a blast and a total bust.

Eventually, the stores fell off, the daily themes changed, and we arrived at a pure essence: we love to sit together and write. Each day. There’s always a visual prompt, mostly from photos Kerri’s taken during the week. There’s only one rule: we can’t read or know what the other is writing about until we’ve completed our drafts. And then we read to each other, talk about our posts and clean them up. It’s my favorite thing to do. It feeds our hearts, energizes our artistic souls and that is more than enough.

Somedays I feel as if we are writing ourselves into existence. Our Melange is the story we tell each other – and you – of our life together. It’s a continuation of the Roadtrip, the daily emails we wrote to each other before we met. And, if the Roadtrip was a narrative offering of “this is me,” the Melange is a narrative offering of, “this is us.”

We launched the Melange with this Chicken Nugget (below). I wrote, as an introduction in the inaugural post, that this Nugget – and the Melange – was “a quiet reminder that the universe of feelings was – and is – so much bigger than words can possibly contain.” Ironic, yes? Coming from two people who, each and every day, write words as their way of reaching into this vast universe of feelings.

Thank you for reading what we write. We appreciate every step you take with us on our journey.

read Kerri’s blog post about 4 YEARS

chicken marsala © 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

the melange © 2018-22 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Live A Great Story [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I suppose I must not have seen the small print requiring an extra fee for the petals to actually be attached to the stems. Silly me. I’m not a detail guy so it never occurred to me that ordering flowers was like flying on Frontier Airlines: if you want a seat you need to pay extra. If you want wings on the plane there’s an up-charge. If you want the roses fastened to the stem, it’ll-cost-ya.

Every story has a context. Without the context a story cannot be fully understood. Here’s the context for our sad-rose-tale. Kerri and I have out of necessity lived lean. Very lean. This is the first year since we met that I had the capacity to send my wife roses on Valentine’s Day. Context number two: since we spend 24/7 together and she monitors our expenses like a hawk (a necessary practice that comes from living lean) , it’s nigh-on-impossible to surprise her. Fromyouflowers.com seemed to be a solution for a long overdue surprise. “How bad could it be?” I asked myself. Woof.

Never ask yourself a question when you can ask other trusted people. I could have asked Jen or Gay or Jay. They would have warned me off. I could have asked them to arrange roses from a local florist and I would have secretly paid them after the fact. I did none of the above. I was having a nice conversation with myself and, left to my own devices, I’m perfectly capable of making a dumb idea sound titanically smart.

The roses (I use the term loosely) came, not on Valentine’s Day (today), but on Friday. Surprise! Gay’s response after seeing the picture truly captured their state: “Too bad they picked them in August,” she wrote. Even the leaves had abandoned the stems. Brad’s comment was my personal favorite: “How efficient,” he wrote, “you received roses and potpourri in the same order.” Efficiency was, after all, my aim.

Kerri, a gifted transformer of lemons-into-lemonade, separated the dead petals from those few still living and put them in a crystal bowl. And then, she offered me this consolation: “Think of it this way,” she said, “if they’d arrived intact, we’d never remember them. Now we have a great story to tell.”

First roses. A Valentine’s tale. We’ve laughed all weekend [I confess, the humor in the story took me a moment or two to see]. With or without roses, on this day of celebrating true love, this is what I know for certain: we live a great story so we have a great story to tell.

read Kerri’s blogpost about NOT-ROSES

Think On Thee [on DR Thursday]

I memorized Sonnet 30 for an acting class when I was in school. “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought…” For reasons I can’t explain, I still remember it. I can barely remember my zip code but Sonnet 30 has stuck around. “…I summon up remembrance of things past.”

I watched Dogga this morning. Standing in the middle of the yard, barking for friendship’s call. He’s not been the same since BabyCat passed. He’s still trying to find his place. Each morning after breakfast, he returns to the kitchen and lays on the floor. It was his ritual with BabyCat. They’d mooch some bites and when there was no more hope of food, they’d jump down and snooze together in the kitchen. Now, he assumes his usual spot but only for a few minutes. It’s not the same so he moves to the backdoor or the rug in the living room.

He’s always been a snow dog. When we think it’s too cold to go out, he thinks it’s balmy and perfect. After his daily unsuccessful bark-and-response, he finds a good pile of snow and lays in it. I tell Kerri that he is surveying his vast territory. He’s an Aussie so he likes having a job. Surveying the territory, watching for marauding squirrels, provides purpose. There is no more joyful moment in our house than when it’s time to take out the trash. He loves being the advance team. He leaps vertically at the back door, his joy is too great for his little body to contain. Clearing the yard of danger, I have safe and secure passage to the cans and back to the house.

This morning, as I watched him snuggle into his snow pile, Sonnet 30 rushed to the fore of my mind. “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.”

read Kerri’s blogpost about SNOWDOG

all my loves © 2020 david robinson

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