Appreciate The Simple [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I awoke alarmed and sat up. Dogga was not sleeping at the foot of the bed! He’s always there! Where was he? And then I remembered. We were “up north” for a few days. Dogga was safe at home with 20. I lay awake feeling deeply his absence. Disoriented.

A few days later we were home. Because of my up-north-late-night-moment-of-bewilderment, I was hyper-aware of how “right” our world feels when we are all together. I adore our daily patterns and rituals. Dogga’s enthusiasm, his Aussie quirks inform every move we make.

Sometimes we think we hear BabyCat thumping around upstairs or awake feeling as if he just jumped onto the bed – we call it “the raft.” When we are all together on the raft, there is nothing better on earth.

It’s such a simple and yet profound thing. Presence. With it, all is right in the world.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE RAFT

smack-dab. © 2023 kerrianddavid.com

Celebrate The Pivot [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Rob and his family celebrate the solstice. Arnie and his family celebrate Hanukkah. My sister and her clan observe Christmas. The earth travels. There is a moment when the tide of retreating light tips and returns. A touch more light than dark. Minimum declination pivots and slow walks, minute by precious minute, toward maximum. For eons, humans have celebrated, personified, and symbolized the moment of light’s return.

The best story. The fewest words.

[in preparing for a cantata, she wrinkled her brow and said, ‘I need another piece!” She noodled for a few minutes on the out-of-tune church piano, pulled a few phrases from the imagination-sphere, and then sang this song. It sprang into earth fully formed. Thank goodness I had my old iPhone at the ready to capture it. We didn’t record the performance. I tell her, again and again, that she needs a proper recording of this beautiful song. She says, “Someday. And maybe with a cello line…” In our own way, we await the return of the light]

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

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Throw Open The Window [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Sometimes it feels as if we were shot into space for a few years and have come back to much changed Earth. Or, it feels like we were stranded on a desert island and are returning to places now strange in their familiarity. Reentry from isolation. Everything is changed. We are changed. The rituals of the season punctuate the strangeness.

We’ve been delighted to once again have dinner with friends. Unmasked. Unprotected. Indoors. I look at the faces of the people I love as we laugh and I think, “Oh, yes. I remember this.” The warmth of companions-in-life, reaching across time and covid boundaries. “We missed you,” we say, relearning who we are together. Our faces are older. Perhaps wiser in all that has passed.

Last year we drove to North Carolina. We arrived late in the day on Christmas. We walked through the small town, beautifully lit for the season, though seemingly abandoned. Our footsteps echoed off the walls. We were happy to be there, enjoyed the displays in the windows, we walked down the center of the street with no thought of possible traffic. We held hands. The absence of others was so normal that we didn’t think it odd that we had an entire town to ourselves.

This year is the mirror image, an alternate reality. People are out. We are out though the vestiges of isolation hang on us like Marley’s chain. We stop to take photos of the lights like ethnographers fascinated by the ceremonies of the locals. I found myself staring at the row of illuminated trees wondering what it represents. “Why can’t it just be pretty!” I admonished myself. “This is how people celebrate the season.”

And, aren’t we all looking for the moment that Scrooge awakes after a night of ghosts with new eyes and a deeper understanding of precious life, throwing open the window to the morning sun, hoping against all hope that he hasn’t missed it and asks, “Boy! You there! What day is it?”

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about LIGHTS

Wink With Piet [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

My first thought was of Piet Mondrian. Not the colorful compositions but a never-before-seen shadow side. Abstract reduction into simple geometry. An artistic vocabulary concerned with spirituality and universal values. I used to ponder how a utopian pursuit of the spiritual landed on clean hard geometry; bold primary colors set inside hard black lines. I’m certain that, given a similar pursuit, my visual vocabulary would have been softer. Ethereal.

It was the first snow. I looked down at the aging planks of the bench. A criss-cross-apple-sauce of workmanship dusted with white. We’ve never painted the loveseat. After so many years, so many winters and summers, rain and snow and sun, the grain of the wood is alive with texture. An aged face.

One of my favorite rituals of spring is the first sitting. After another freezing winter, another year of age, will the wood continue to hold my weight, our weight? We hold hands and sit slowly, gingerly. Our knees creak before our weight finds the planks. Like a baton pass, the wood takes on the groaning as our knees pass our load to the seat. We sit for a moment with eyes open wide. And then, after a slight bounce-test, we relax. The wood will hold. Our loveseat is like a faithful friend.

The snow melted as fast as it arrived. That is the way of first snow. Blink and you’ll miss it. Except for the love seat and matching chair, we hauled all the other summer furniture into the garage. The table and umbrella. The small ladders that serve as end tables. The fire pit. The first dusting of snow is the cue. The pond freezes so we pull the pump and fountain. Soon, we’ll stack the plastic Adirondack chairs and they’ll take the last available spot in our tiny garage. We push the loveseat to the wall beneath the kitchen window.

We stand on the deck and sigh, feeling the weight of coming winter. The dark days. For a moment, the yard seems bleak. But then, the birds land on the wire. The squirrel highway is open for business. We hear the ancient croak of the cranes in the distance. A cold gust brings a blizzard of falling leaves. A wholly different kind of abundance. The energy moves underground. A time for sleeping and quiet rejuvenation.

Simple geometry. Reduction to cold days and hard lines. Brilliant blue sky. A wink from Piet Mondrian.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE DECK

Rake The Ritual [on DR Thursday]

It is that time. The ritual of the green bags. They are green because they are biodegradable, an important detail in the ritual cycle.

The rite unfolds over the course of several weeks. Each household in our tree-lined neighborhood, according to their own special timing announced to them by the trees, shuffles into the fallen leaves with implements of collection or whirring blowing machines. They sculpt the leaves into piles. They scoop the leaves into green bags. They pile the green bags at the curb.

Some prefer to place the bags in a perfect curbside line. Some prefer to stack the bags. Later, an orange truck (our ceremony is punctuated with secondary colors!) rumbles slowly down the street, acolytes jump from the truck and collect the bags.

The communal bags are taken by the orange trucks to a community field where they are stacked high into transformational mounds. Over the winter, over time, the mounds slowly reconstitute. They compost. The green bags dissolve. The contents of the bags compact, heat, and join, becoming vibrant rich soil.

Energy changing form.

There is a matching ritual in the spring. The people, according to their own special timing announced to them by their flower beds, leave their houses and bring shovels to the mounds of soil. They collect buckets and truckloads of the former-leaves-now-earth, return home and dig the new soil into their gardens. The planting marks the beginning of the next cycle. As shovels turn earth, the trees bud, new leaves, future soil, pop green and tender on the branches.

A perfect life cycle. A time honored autumnal observance. The ritual of the green bags.

read Kerri’s blogpost about GREEN BAGS

Meditation, 48x48IN, mixed media

meditation © 2012 david robinson

Welcome The Next Normal [on Merely A Thought Monday]

There was a time when my marker of the holiday season was the return of Pirate Christmas Ale; a rich and happy stout. It tickled me that the return of the holiday season was signaled with a Pirate and not jolly Ole Saint Nick. I drank one-a-night, from the day I saw the Pirate’s return to the store, through the end of the year. Pirates-in-holiday drink in moderation.

It’s been many years since I walked with the Pirate through the threshold of light’s return. With my move to Wisconsin came the establishment of a new normal. And then came COVID. I think we’ve both come to the realization, after a few years of deep disruption, that there will not be a return to normal. Just as with my move from the west coast to the upper-midwest, there will be the creation of a new normal. Just what that will be remains to be seen.

We know the new normal means leaving the house. We work at home and have mostly isolated these past few winter seasons. Cabin fever is getting to us. So, we’re taking calculated adventures. A visit to the Botanical Gardens. A walk around the small town of Cedarburg. A drive into Chicago. We continue to hike our trails but we’re both feeling the call of exploration, the desire to sail our ship toward the horizon. We really wanted to go to a concert but chose not to – COVID considerations remain central to our weird calculus.

Yesterday, while walking the streets of Cedarburg, we saw a tent behind the Stilthouse. Tables and heaters. We grabbed a spot under a heater, ordered lunch and lingered over a glass of wine. It sounds so normal yet, what was once commonplace, what was once something done without much thought – was a rare and delicious treat. We savored every moment.

Lately, we’re getting this reminder again and again. When the water line into the house broke – and we were without water for a day, the return of the water through the faucet brought cheers and happy dancing. There’s so much we take for granted. There’s so much to be savored in the commonplace, in the everyday, especially when we understand it might not be available forever.

Mostly, there is this: during the darkest days of every year, people come together in many ways to light candles, to exchange gifts, to make meals, to offer hope, to help each other through the dark time. Whether they realize it our not. The light returns. The earth spins. There’s water in the pipes. A heater and a table. Merlot in the bottle. Good friends. Good cheer. New work. The beginning of the next normal.

read Kerri’s blog post about GOOD CHEER

[this post marks the 200th consecutive week of the melange. Corks are-a-poppin’]

Light A Candle [on DR Thursday]

A Double Haiku

Candle on a rock,

His favorite fishing hole.

Observance, our own.

Electric aspen,

Trout slide through glassy water.

Quiet, like his voice.

read Kerri’s blog post about OBSERVANCE

www.davidrobinsoncreative.com

See The Shape [on DR Thursday]

The Balinese would call this an auspicious day. They would never perform a funeral rite on a day that was not promising. This soul will come back in seven generations and requires a providential sending.

The Greeks placed coins on the eyes of their departed loved ones. Fare for safe passage over the river Styx.

Columbus’ son will give his eulogy. His son-in-law will guide the ritual. His granddaughter will sing for him. His daughter-in-law will play her compositions, prelude and postlude, and sing a special song for him. His coins are his family. They will pay his passage. Actually, that his family will perform every aspect of his service – his sending – is testament to his earth-passage, what he did during his time while walking on this planet.

Heart.

We laughed while driving across Kansas. The day was fraught with obstacles. Breakdowns and high winds. “Columbus is making this trip eventful,” I said. He was full of mischief.

“I can see that sparkle in his eye,” Kerri responded. Nothing was going to stop us from getting to his service. Nothing. Not even mischief.

I have often been asked, “What is the shape of your day?” A curious question to ask a visual artist. “Not flat nor two-dimensional,” I think but do not say. “Certainly organic. Not geometric. My days are rarely geometric.” I never know what lines-of-thought or surprise events actually close to give definition to my day until the end, when I stand back and look at the whole. That is true for all of us. No one knows the shape of their day at sunrise.

Today, the lines have closed so we gather to look at the shape of Columbus’ life.

Heart. Big heart.

read Kerri’s blog post about HEART LEAVES

Columbus circa 1998

Look. Really Look. [on KS Friday]

“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).” ~ e.e. cummings

The ritual became real when Kerri asked the bride and groom to turn and look at the community of people assembled as witnesses to their wedding, “No, really look,” she said. Eyes met eyes. Family. Friends. The unspoken but oh-so-apparent moment: We’re here for you.

Rituals, like a good story, are about single moments. Everything builds to the moment. In the ceremony, Kerri told the couple that they would have days that they could not take their eyes off of each other and that they would have days that were…not so much, but in all of their days, through all of their challenges and celebrations, they would have this moment, and this single-moment, when all else dropped away, would carry them through everything: standing before their community of support, they looked into each other’s eyes and said, “I do.” I carry your heart.

Initially, when they asked her to perform their wedding, she was stunned. “Why me?” she asked. After their ceremony, unique in all the world, simple and profound, I wanted to ask but did not, “Now do you know why they asked you?” My wife understands the power of a moment, the deep river of a ritual, and the long ripples that simple words and intentional actions can send through the long-body of a lifetime.

“Are you ready?” she whispered to the couple when the music faded. “Yes. Oh, yes,” they replied.

read Kerri’s blog post about I CARRY YOUR HEART

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

Mark The Passage [on KS Friday]

Just after we met, we dug a small pond in the backyard. It was a party that Kerri called The Big Dig. People came with shovels. We drank mudslides. I met many of her friends and neighbors. We laughed. It took less than ten minutes with so many people to dig the hole. The liner went in and rocks placed around the edges. The pump was placed and the water rushed in. It was a marker in time. It was meant to be a marker, a ritual of passage into the new and the unknown.

She’d planned The Big Dig before we met. Originally, it had nothing to do with me. It was serendipity that I could be present for The Dig. Serendipity or design. Who knows.

The morning after the party, sipping coffee, we sat in lawn chairs on the muddy ground surrounding the now bubbling pond. Kerri used the “M” word, married, “When we are married…” She realized what she’d just said. She blushed and apologized and backpedaled. I was, at the very moment she used the “M” word, doing something I’d never done before: imagining myself married. To her. I was seeing it and, laughing at her anguished retreat, I confessed what I was seeing. We sat by the pond and stared at each other. A ritual passage into the new and unknown.

The pond has always been mine to care for. This marks its eighth year. We just replaced the liner. We had to put flagstone around the pond because DogDog was cutting a deep velodrome path around it, racing in excitement every time John and Michele let their Dachshunds out. Each day we walk to the pond to try and catch a glimpse of the frog-in-residence. This year we named the frog Magic.

Just a few days after The Big Dig, Kerri took me to the marina where the 4th of July celebrations are staged. Bands played. There was a carnival. Too much food. The dog jump is a big attraction (dogs running and leaping into a pool of water in a distance-leap competition). After dark we sat on a blanket and watched the fireworks. Sitting on that blanket, vibrant color exploding in the night sky, I imagined myself living in this town, so far from the west coast that had been my home most of my adult life. “Can I live here?” I asked myself. The answer was immediate: you can’t live anywhere else.

DogDog was born on the 4th of July, probably while we were watching the dog jump. We will celebrate his eighth birthday on Sunday with a rowdy race around the pond. His favorite thing. And then snacks. Also his favorite thing. And then a visit with Unka-John. His really, really favorite thing.

A step into the new and unknown. Ritual passages. You have no idea where they will take you or what the reality of the step over the threshold will bring. You cannot know. You can only step.

“This looks like fireworks,” she said, showing me the up-close-photo of the plant. “I love it,” she smiled.

“Me, too.”

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

read Kerri’s blog post about the FIREWORK PLANT

i didn’t know/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood