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

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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.

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fistful of dandelions © 1999 kerri sherwood

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Hold Hands And Skip [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Ten years ago, right about now, I was sitting on an airplane wondering what she would be like in person. We’d been corresponding everyday for several months. An unlikely correspondence. Spontaneous at the beginning; growing in intention during the months that followed. “You’re already good friends,” I told myself. “Let it be what it is.”

What it is. That first meeting in the airport she was holding a daisy so that I’d recognize her. I’d have known her without the daisy. We held hands. We skipped out of the airport.

We held hands and skipped out of the church the day we were married.

In our ten years together we’ve packed in a lot of life. A full spectrum of life’s colors. Deep grief to mountain high joy. Wild frustration to even wilder elation. Sometimes I feel as if life is trying to hammer us into submission. Or, just hammer us. Ours has not been an easy road. Lots of water. No safety net. But one thing has been true throughout: even on the worst days, we somehow find our way by holding hands. We find our way by skipping.

read Kerri’s blogpost about TEN YEARS

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Read It [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I can’t complain. I had perfect eyesight for most of my life. And then I didn’t.

I wear glasses to drive at night. The first time I put them on I was astounded, not because I could see but because I was so completely unaware of how I’d adapted to not seeing. With my new glasses firmly hosted on my nose, I proudly read aloud every road sign until Kerri said, “Stop,” in that quiet voice that let me know I was skating-on-thin-ice.

It’s the ends of the visual-pole that go blurry. Very far. Very near. Grocery shopping is a riot. We do all kinds of contorting trying to read labels. “I’m going to take this can to the end of the aisle where the light is better,” she says.

“Wait. You’re supposed to read the labels?” I ask, just to get a rise out of her, adding, ‘I’d help you read-the-can but my eyes are crap. Can’t see a thing.”

And then, there are menus. We’re not yet at the large-print-stage of life but, let’s face it: although blurry, we can see it from here.

read Kerri’s blogpost about READERS

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Take A Drive [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We are a walking paradox: homebodies and roadtrippers. We love to be on the road, going on adventures and discovering new places. We adore being at home, comfy in our well-worn patterns.

It only makes sense that, when we can’t take a long roadtrip, our escape-fantasy-of-choice is to get in the car and drive. We head to the county, out into the country. We slow down. We get lost on purpose. We dream and the stresses-of-the-moment dissipate. We drive, windows down. There are no wrong turns. We are free.

Eventually, we return home, find a sunny spot in the back yard, pour some wine and nestle into our chairs. “Life is good,” we breathe, drinking in the setting sun. We re-realize something we understood when we first met: it’s all a roadtrip. This whole complicated amazing life.

We look at each other, knowing what the other is thinking. “Let’s just keep going and going and going….”

read Kerri’s blogpost about A DRIVE

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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

Note The Trail [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Our pin-on-the-map lands between two airports: O’Hare to the south and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell to the north. On clear summer days, or unseasonably warm days like last week, we recline in our Adirondack chairs and watch the planes Etch-A-Sketch in the sky. According to our recent 5 minute contrail-count-study, at any moment, there are more planes in the sky than one might believe.

It always makes we wonder if Ben Franklin or Leonardo daVinci joined us on the patio would they calmly count contrails from their Adirondack chair or would their heads explode at the wonder of it all. It amuses me to imagine Leonardo hopping around with excitement and pointing to the sky.

In my recent past the phrase “digital exhaust” was relevant to my work in the wild, wild world of software development. Like a contrail, the output of our incessant tapping of keys leaves a trail marking our arc through digital space/time. The particular characteristic that had me hopping out of my chair was the notion that “reading” the digital contrail not only marks our past but is a great way of foreseeing future action. Past patterns are terrific indicators of future behavior. Just ask the FBI.

Kerri keeps a paper calendar where she records the significant and insignificant details of every day. It’s a behavior she inherited from her mother. Beaky was a great recorder of events and maker of lists. If I want to know if we had dinner with 20 in November of 2016, Kerri flips open her 2016 calendar and hits me with the details: yes we did and we had blackened Tilapia, small potatoes, and roasted asparagus. I’ve lost many a debate to the entries in the calendar. Her calendars are our personal analog contrail. Our unique life arc through space/time.

It’s helped me answer one of Tom’s questions about his great-grandmother Isabelle. He found a box with stacks of daily flip-calendars that Isabelle kept, each day had a notation about the weather. A hardworking ranch woman, standing on the porch of the farmhouse, in the days before airplanes, she stared at the sky and made a note in her calendar: hot sun, not a cloud in the sky. Tom looked at me as we went through the stacks in the box, asking, “Why would she do that?”


read Kerri’s blogpost about CONTRAILS

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

Unroll And Renew [on DR Thursday]

During the past weeks I have rectified a wrong that I did to myself. A few years ago, after several water disruptions in my basement studio, with the space in disarray and too full of stuff, I had a fit of “what-am-I-going-to-do-with-all-of-these-paintings. With no thought to the future, I rolled several of my canvases. There are many, many paintings so I made multiple heavy rolls. And then I stacked them. The stacking was my crime. The weight of the top rolls pressed those on the bottom. Left too long and the canvas warps; the paint cracks.

I feel as if I am emerging from a dream. The past. Dried flowers in springtime.

At breakfast on Monday, Liam asked if I had been painting. I blinked, not ashamed of my reply but mostly shocked at the truth of it. “I just finished a painting,” I said, “the first I’ve completed in three years.” Three years ago I rolled my paintings to keep them out of the water – to get them out of the way. Broken wrists, lost jobs, pandemic, an uncanny series of water issues…A pause. Or, I feared, a finish?

I carefully unrolled the paintings. Flattened the waves in the first canvas roll with books. I built successive layers of flat paintings, using the weight that caused the problem to my advantage. Opening the rolls was like taking a walk back through my life. Two of the rolls were paintings from the early 1990’s. A self portrait in orange on an Oregon beach. I recognized the paintings but had to reach to find the painter. Dried flowers. A dream. The past.

Kerri wrangled carpet tubes from a big box store. We cut them and carefully rerolled the paintings, now with a solid center so they cannot be smashed. We devised a strategy to stand the tubes, protected from any future water problem.

Emerging from the dream. Perfect timing. It is the season of renewal. Spring.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DRIED DAISIES