Release The Tether [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

As the old adage goes, timing is everything. It is a lesson I will probably never learn. When something pops into my noggin, I grab hold of it like the tether to a hot air balloon. I can’t let go of the tether until I’ve expressed it. So, I am, and always have been, a master of bad timing.

Kerri has adapted well to my balloon-filled-brain. She knows that I can release the tether, the balloon will fly away, and life will go on with or without my urgent need to capture-the-thought. And, usually, there will be a second chance: all balloons come down again and, sometimes, they arrive at just the right moment. No raincheck required.

read Kerri’s blog post about RAINCHECK

smack-dab. © 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Watch Your Mouth [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

My mouth gets me into trouble. It has all of my life. Once, I told an artistic director – the theatre company was in trouble – that we could build our sets with little or no budget if they were cleverly designed. She said, “Great. You’re hired Mr. Designer.” She threw down the gauntlet. I designed a season of plays that cost nary a penny. Once a scavenger, always a scavenger.

My mouth gets me in trouble with Kerri almost every day. That’s how, over time, my mouth came to be an independent character, a persona separate from the rest of me. “Did your mouth just say that?” she asks. “My mouth said it, but I didn’t mean it,” I reply.

I have to constantly watch my mouth. It has a mind of its own and will take every opportunity to put my foot in it.

read Kerri’s blog post about my MOUTH

smack-dab. © 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Love The Competition [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

The inaugural Twizzler competition revealed to me the full depth and breadth of Kerri’s competitive spirit. I can only add that, to this day, I am win-less. Yet, oddly, her victory celebrations never decrease in intensity. You’d think after 200 straight wins her victory-lap-fun would fade. But, no! Even though I am pathetic competition, she relishes each victory as if it was the first.

Of course, you’d also be justified in thinking that, after 200 straight losses, my enthusiasm for the game would wane. But, no! I’m determined to someday claim the Twizzler Cup. I can taste it. Victory will be mine and, oh, what a sweet rowdy roadtripping celebration I have planned!

read Kerri’s blog post about THE GAME

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Improvise [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

This might not be funny to the under-50-crowd. Just wait. Humor is the only way you can successfully navigate the things that start happening to your body.

To those of us who’ve crossed the line into diminished returns and leaky pipes, I can only offer a knowing smile. Yes, I know. Age has a way of translating crisis into a comedy monologue. There’s only one non-truth in this comic strip: Kerri would not be caught dead in the bushes. It’s the single obstacle to her launching a through hike on the PCT: no indoor plumbing (but she’s working on it…). As for my relationship with bushes? Well, let’s just say, “Now, that’s a good story!”

read Kerri’s blog post about REST AREAS

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Round The Corner [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Kerri breaks a pinkie toe about once a quarter. She is circular in her thinking so it only makes sense that she is circular in her movements. She regularly gets tangled in the vacuum cord – vacuuming in circles. The challenge for every circular thinker is that, unless they live in a yurt, they actually live in straight-line spaces. Circle in the square. Straight-line spaces, rooms shaped like rectangles, have corners and people that move and think in arcs often try to cut corners. Baby toes pay the price.

There is a special sound she makes when she’s re-broken her toe. There’s a special sound she makes when she sees a big spider. I’ve learned to discern the sounds. These days, instead of asking, “Is everything okay?” I know it is more efficient and helpful to ask, “Left or right?” Then, I find her writhing in a doorway and help her get off the floor.

read Kerri’s blog post about BABY TOES

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Appreciate The Other Life [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Every so often we pick images for the melange according to a theme. A few weeks ago all of the images were green. This week we noticed that we had several photos of words or phrases so we decided to have a theme week. Yesterday featured a message on the tailgate of a truck, “Every day above ground is a blessing.” Today, the other life. La Otra Vida.

Kerri and I met in middle age so our history together is short. Our pals are couples who’ve been married for decades. It is common for us to leave dinner with friends, after lively conversation of raising kids, vacation stories or tales of pets from the past, and need to talk about the eras in life that we didn’t pass through together. Our cartoon, Chicken Marsala, came from a conversation about the kids that we didn’t have. What kind of parents would we have been together? What would we have done differently in life had we met when we were younger? Would we have fallen in love had the previous-versions-of-ourselves met at an earlier phase in our lives?

La Otra Vida. The other life. We’ll never know the answers to our speculative questions. I was not the person at 25 that I am today. Kerri did not know me during my train-wreck years. I was – and in many ways still am – a restless wanderer but I have developed over the years the capacity to sit still. To appreciate where I am.

Last night, sitting on the deck sipping wine, the sun was down and we had the torches burning. Dogga was asleep at our feet. We were listening to the soundtrack from the movie About Time and Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, a heartbreaking piece for piano and cello, began playing. I memorized the moment because, in another life, at a time that I was not so happy, I knew that La Otra Vida was out there somewhere. The other life. I knew someday, minus a few demons and with a few more miles behind me, that I would one day sit outside on a cool evening, my wife’s hand in mine, my dog asleep at my feet, and know with absolute certainty that life could not possibly be better.

I savored the moment. I will never take for granted this, the other life.

read Kerri’s blog post about LA OTRA VIDA

Miss The Point [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Kerri is a detail girl. I’m a big-picture guy and generally live at 30,000 feet. It is common for us to have conversations about diametrically opposed topics and think we are talking about the same thing. It is also common, when we have a spat and are in mid-turmoil – to realize that we are, and have been all along, in absolute agreement. We’re simply looking at the same elephant from radically different points-of-view.

It is the reason that one of the most oft-spoke phrases in our house is: Wait! What are we talking about again?

read Kerri’s blog post about YELLOW AND GREY

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Read The Walk [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Between the morning rehearsal and the evening wedding, we had several hours without commitments so we did the thing we most like to do. We walked. It was a gorgeous September day. We were in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, a miracle of reclaimed and converted warehouses, shops and condos that line the waterway. We followed the Riverwalk, Kerri snapping photographs, ambling our way to Lake Michigan.

It’s odd in this age of pandemic, to be in a city on a beautiful weekend day. The rules of engagement are different. The rules of enjoyment are different. Be out in the day but avoid the crowds. There was an art fair, a crush of people, so, as artists, normally pulled toward art gatherings, we walked the other way. In years past we would have waded in to the fray, talked to the artists, enjoyed people enjoying art.

Instead, we found a bounty of art on our walk. The shadows playing on the walls. The flowers. The finials. The sculpture. Everywhere we looked we found riches of intentional design. People dedicated to creating beautiful spaces had a field day re-imagining what had once been an industrial wasteland on the water.

Chiseled into the the boards upon which we walked was a narrative history of the city. We stepped on top of important dates of the Civil War. We walked across innovations, breweries arising in a city of beer, World Wars and the changes they wrought. Sports victories. We walked across the story of a previous pandemic, a hundred years ago. A few thin boards, markers of a tragic toll.

For a moment I stood and watched the kayaks paddling, the pontoon boats cruising the channel, the diners seated beneath umbrellas, the strollers, like us enjoying the day with no destination calling. Full moments in lifetimes that someday might be told in a few thin boards of narrative highlights.

I wondered how many people, how much dedicated action, it took to make this moment beautiful and possible. The architects. The artists. The artisans. The craftsmen and women. The laborers. The florists, The gardeners. The shopkeepers. The waiters. The chefs. The suppliers. The mail carriers,…Dreamers all, stretching back through time. Interconnected and interdependent in ways that only few recognize.

That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Were I to chisel the story of our pandemic in a boardwalk, or create a sculpture meant to capture our moment in narrative time, my theme would be interconnection and interdependence unnoticed. Unmasked. A myopic madness, a messy delusion of every-man-for-himself, a sure-fire way to perpetuate a pandemic or warm a globe.

There is, of course, no evidence for life thriving in a vacuum. On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence, apparent on a stroll in a city on a beautiful sunny September day, killing some time before a wedding, that it takes all of us, every last life, to thrive. An artist needs an audience. A developer needs a supplier. A doctor needs a patient who wants to be healthy. Who wants to do more than survive. Thriving is, after all, a group sport. A careful reading of the boards tells a very specific tale: no one does this walk alone.

read Kerri’s blog post about OUR WALK

Eat Your Consolation [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We love roadtrips. We’d rather drive than fly.

The rules-of-life change when on a roadtrip. Special allowances are made, especially at snack time. And, the most important rule change when on a roadtrip: it is always snack time.

In our early years, during our first-ever-roadtrip, I learned that Twizzlers held a special place in Kerri’s roadtrippin’ heart. They go waaay back. They are essential equipment. Competition is involved. I’m more of a peanut M&M guy and had never thought of turning my road-snacks into sporting events. In the road-snack department, I apparently had lots to learn!

I lose the Twizzer competition every time. She has years of practice and I adore how wildly she celebrates my defeat. I’m not saying that I throw the game. I legitimately lose. My losing streak has actually become part of our roadtrip tradition. I don’t mind my no-win-record, my consolation prize is a handful of multi-colored peanut M&M’s.

Life on the roadtrip is good. Very good.

read Kerri’s SMACK-DAB thinking

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Pack! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

There is no greater torture for Kerri than having to pack for a trip. Her packing-panic begins weeks before we leave. The stress of trying to plan for and cover multiple clothing scenarios – infinite possibilities given weather, unknown and unplanned formal affairs, nail polish color and shoe requirements… all to fit within the limited space of a suitcase (or the back of the car) is unbearable. The torture lasts long after the trip begins, long after the trip actually ends. “I should have thought to bring…” is a common refrain, sometimes weeks after we’ve come home.

On the other hand I pack in a few minutes with almost no thought. My formal clothes and my ratty clothes are often one-and-the-same. My unintentional packing strategy has been to reduce my choices to one: black on blue jeans. As 20 says, “Easy Peasy.”

I have learned that it is sometimes helpful to pretend that my packing is more difficult than it actually is. I fret over my choice of t-shirts. Do I bring both pairs of boots or just one? Sometimes help looks like indecision. After all, no one likes to suffer alone.

read Kerri’s blog post about PACKING

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com