Grasp The Natural Truth [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I often tell Kerri that she’s beautiful and her built-in-response is to deflect or deny it. I believe her response is learned – I’ve yet to meet a child who is overly concerned with how they look. Kerri is not unlike most of the women (and men) I’ve met in my life: they’ve learned to not like their bodies. In fact, I just spent a few moments searching my vast memory banks for the women I’ve known who loved their bodies and I can recall a whopping two.

The message-assault on a woman’s psyche is intense and begins young. Change it, mold it, shape it, cut it, starve it, lift it…The industry demands that a woman continually strive for the unattainable shape, size, color…They can never-ever look into the mirror and think, “I’m beautiful. No changes necessary.”

If I had a magic wand, I’d ding Kerri and all women on the noggin and make it possible to grasp the natural truth of these words: you are unbelievably beautiful.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BURLAP

smack-dab. © 2023

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Bring It On! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

My favorite Smack-Dab cartoons are drawn directly from our conversations. This one happened verbatim. We howled when Siri replaced our “wilty” with “wealthy”. I’m shallow enough to admit that I hope to someday experience the challenge of being un-hire-aable because I am too wealthy. “We’d hire you Mr. Robinson but you’re too stinking rich”.

I’m already familiar with the wilty part.

This is, perhaps, the only time I will suggest that you keep your comments to yourself. Unless, of course, you have suggestions about making me too wealthy to hire. In that case, bring it on!

read Kerri’s blogpost about WILTY

smack-dab. © 2023

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Simply Celebrate [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I wasn’t there when our babies picked dandelions for her. It was waaaay before my time. I just know how she felt when they did. Price-less.

It’s one of my favorite parts of our relationship. A dandelion is more valuable than a diamond. A homemade card, a painted rock…a story is most precious of all.

We read together. We walk together. We cook together. We struggle and triumph together. What could be more meaningful than a bouquet of freshly picked dandelions and the memories they bring to mind?

read Kerri’s blogpost about DANDELIONS

get this beautiful song here.

smack-dab. © 2023

fistful of dandelions © 1999 kerri sherwood

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Never Say Never [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

The GrassKing. You know who you are. We hang on your every word. We await our next grass-master-secret-instruction. And, in this grass-green-confession, is a cautionary tale.

As an artist I have lived most of my life in cities. In apartments. Tending grass was not only not in my plan, it was a sign of value-collapse. Artistic annihilation. Mowing lawns and raking leaves served as an odious vision, a threat traded among fellow artists. “If you keep that up, you’ll end up mowing grass.” No Way! Never.

20 bought me a lawnmower when I moved to be with Kerri. “You’ll need this,” he said. Stoically. Knowingly.

“What has my life come to?” I asked myself. At the time, there was no answer. The universe-of-my-mind was silent on the subject.

It’s the word “never.” I know enough to never say never but I said it – and here I am. Every day I sit patiently, watching my phone. Awaiting the crucial word from the GrassKing. Over-seed Now! I imagine the GrassKing outside, wrinkled brow, meat thermometer in hand, taking the temperature of the soil in sun and shade. We are waiting for the optimum reading: 58 degrees.

The anticipation is killing me. What has become of me?

read Kerri’s blogpost on VALUES COLLAPSE

smack-dab. © 2023

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Turn Around And Look [on DR Thursday]

One little line gives reference to the whole. The horizon line. It is how we naturally – visually – orient in space. It is a baseline of perception. It’s the beginning of discernment.

It is a line that disappeared.

Among other things, art is a reflection of its time. In the past century, art leapt into the abstract. We are “post-modern”. Expressions of personal fantasy rule over community truth, a breaking apart of shared ideals, instant doubt of objective theories…we are mirrored in post-modern art. What is art? What is it not? There’s not a whit of agreement to be found.

General distrust is the beating heart of the post-modern ideal. Division, aggression, tribalism, conspiracy…are its blossoms. Our children perform active-shooter-drills in school; a performance we shudder to attend while our leaders smile and look the other way. Post-modernism at its finest. The absence of a baseline.

Shared truth, group trust, community…requires an undeniable horizon line.

What is up? What is down? What has value? What does not? What has merit? What is undeserving? There is a line. Where is it?

Walking through the antique mall, Brad and I discussed chatGPT. I’m playing with it; he’s using it in his work. It’s raising some very big questions. The questions are not new. They are the next step in a series of questions people have been asking for the past 30 years: what is true? A photograph was once proof that something happened. That hasn’t been true for a few decades. A video was once proof an experience occurred. That is no longer true. News – a word that once implied the accurate reporting of an event. No more. No horizon line.

Brad and I turned our discussion to a sorely missing quality in our times: discernment. In the absence of a horizon line, people will – and do – believe anything. We speculated that, with the introduction of chatGPT into our world, perhaps discernment will once again become important. Perhaps the complete absence of a truth-anchor will turn us toward a common center and require us to look at each other, to seek and restore general trust. The post-modern tide will someday turn and we will draw an old/new line in the sand: we’re-all-in-this-together.

I know, I know. Pie-in-the-sky. However, I’d like to point out that shared dreaming brought us here. Shared dreaming is how we stood on the moon. It is how we can talk to someone across the planet using a small device that fits in our pockets. When a dream becomes shared it becomes powerful. Manifest. A shared dream is a form of a horizon line.

If a shared dream isn’t powerful enough to establish trust, try remembering the other one; the original line of discernment. The line that invites curiosity. It need not be debated. Turn around and look. The horizon line is everywhere.

Four-by-Four, 48x48IN, acrylic, (sold)

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE HORIZON

4×4 © 2007 david robinson

Focus Pocus [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

The technical term is “hyper-focus.” I am gifted at becoming absorbed in my tasks. I have a knack for stepping out of time. Especially when my task is an art project. A painting. A cartoon.

Kerri will tell you that my hyper-focus is less a gift and more a maddening quirk or slightly annoying defect of character. She quips that, when I am painting, the house could blow away and I wouldn’t notice.

She’s exaggerating, of course. I would definitely notice if the house blew away. Eventually.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HYPER FOCUS

smack-dab. © 2023

Weigh The Cost [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We are, like the rest of the nation, astounded at the weekly escalation of prices. It’s not just food; the cost of heating our home jumped 20% last month. We piled on layers of clothes through the winter so our usage actually went down. Use less. Costs more. There’s something wrong with that equation.

When you seek jobs in the non-profit sector, as I have recently been doing, you get an overview of desperation. Elders making choices between food and medication. Families with parents working as hard as they can and still not able to afford the inflated rents and cost of food. Each day I read celebratory news about the thriving markets while assisted living facilities evict seniors on Medicaid. What a sad dichotomy we’ve become. Not surprising, the real cost to us as a nation has very little to do with money.

The question is rhetorical because the answers are all around us: What if it all keeps going up?

read Kerri’s blogpost about COST.

smack-dab. © 2023

Note The Antidote [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Master Marsh said it best: customer service is a firewall against serving the customer. Epically long hold times, hold-music meant to invoke a migraine, dropped calls, mixed messages…I have no doubt that the people attempting to serve the customers are good people caught in an inept system.

Kerri’s latest bout with service-less-customer-service had one hugely positive outcome: they actually managed to put her to sleep. Now, in the middle of the night, when she tells me that she can’t sleep, I have the perfect antidote. I dial customer service – any customer service – and hand her the phone…

read Kerri’s blogpost about CUSTOMER SERVICE

smack-dab. © 2023

Bonus. From the Flawed Cartoon archive:

Nod [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

There is a lesson I receive again and again but – for obvious reasons – the penny refuses to drop. The learning hits me and slides off my Teflon brainpan. The lesson is this: Listen, don’t solve. Especially in the middle of the night. Particularly in the middle of the night. My job is to nod, nothing more.

The reason for my late night ineptitude? At the risk of reinforcing a stereotype, I am a male. I am hardwired to solve. When I’m tired I have no editor. Okay, when I’m rested, I have no editor so imagine my predicament in the dark hours.

It’s shocking. Since so much of my career was built on my great capacity to listen, I am sometimes astounded at how quickly I begin my lobby for a solution.

Dogga looks at me and shakes his head. I know what he’s thinking. “He’ll never learn.” It’s true. I can say with the utmost confidence that last night’s lesson is already forgotten and I am fully prepared to learn it again tonight.

read Kerri’s blogpost about LISTEN

smack-dab. © 2023

Visit An Old Friend [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We often walk the same trail. You’d think we’d get bored but we like to see how it changes through different seasons and at different times of the day. It’s never the same. It’s like an old friend.

In the same way, on our way home, we stop and visit a tree in a farmer’s field. It stands in isolation, alluring on the horizon. It is both the same and never the same. A guardian in the fog. The geese land in the surrounding field and gather close to its protective arms. It is an ancient beacon in the cold icy snow. It’s silhouette at sunset has moved me to tears. We have a relationship with it. It’s like an old friend.

Our old friends remind us to open our eyes. To pay attention. To make no assumptions. They are never the same and, I suppose, the same is true of us, too. A different season. A different time of day. Through cold and sun, fog and rain, if we stop to see or slow down enough to notice, time reveals us as we are. Ever-changing. Beautiful.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE TREE

smack-dab. © 2023