Modify The Plan [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

When you are an artist, you begin your career with the understanding that retirement is not really an option. You will work as hard or harder as any of your friends. You will have satisfaction in your work that few people can imagine. And, you will, most likely, unless you are very lucky or have a surprise trust fund, never experience lasting financial security.

Also, when you are an artist, you can’t imagine not making art so “retirement” generally means the-big-dirt-nap.

We have, since our great-double-wrist-break-and-financial free-fall of 2020-21, changed our approach. It’s less easy to improvise when the world perceives you as old-and-should-be-retired (non-dirt-nap-variety). Your networks collapse. Your mask obscures your capabilities.

We’ve modified our plan. We’ve modified our expectations. Now, we need only live long enough to break the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living artists. Anything is possible! That belief, a hard-core dedication to abundant possibility, is what makes us artists in the first place!

Retirement (non-dirt-nap-variety), here we come!

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

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Ramble [on DR Thursday]

I’m like a two-year old: I want to know “Why?” For instance, the lichen growing on the birch tree is Hypogymnia physodes, but it’s also known as “Monk’s Hood.” Why?

There’s a wildflower also known as Monk’s Hood. I read that the flower gets its name because its petals resemble the cowls once worn by monks. However, the flower is also known as “Wolfsbane.” Why? What does the bane of a wolf have to do with the hood of a monk? I’m capable of inventing a slew of possible connections but they will be just that: inventions.

In an attempt to bore you beyond rescue, I’ve lately been fascinated by how much of our world is a blizzard of unhinged information in search of a context. For instance, conceptual art needs an explanation. Without a curator, it’s nothing more than a banana taped to a wall. Twine with a dirty sponge. Oddity seeking to be taken seriously.

In the 21st century, we measure relevance by the number of followers, not by the substance-of-the-matter-being-followed. It’s a popularity contest. Lots and lots of flowing information, most of it useless. Without use. Without substance. And, scarily for us: without being questioned.

What is empty content pushed through a fabricated context? “Breaking” news. MAGA. Q.

It occurs to me that society needs more two year olds! A healthy practice of asking “Why” would spare us from certain death-by-bloviation.

A cowl, by the way, is both a monk’s hood AND a loose neckline in contemporary women’s clothing. Wouldn’t the monks be surprised if they’d confused their cowls!

Now, get out there and find context for this bit of useless information.

read Kerri’s blogpost about LICHEN

pieta with paparazzi © 2010 david robinson

Punch The Buttons [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I drew an outline around the remotes and numbered them. I sketched in important buttons and numbered them in sequence, “Press this first.” Then, I wrote scenarios. “If you want to do this, pick up #3 and follow the numbers.” Finally, I set each remote in the matching outline. It’s a fool-proof remote-map for Unka John when he comes to house-sit and take care of Dog-Dog. Dog-Dog does not require a remote so no map is necessary.

The volume control is on a separate remote than the power-on remote. Also, the volume remote wreaks havoc with the standing fan in the living room. Adjusting the volume causes anxiety in the fan so it’s important to move between the fan and the television while aiming the remote. The fan also has a remote but it ignores the television altogether. I think. We never use that remote. We’re old school and stand up to punch the buttons on the fan.

Dog-Dog also has a fan for his crate. I am the remote for his fan. I’ve looked and looked for his volume control but, so far, no luck. I’ve punched all the buttons but his bark-volume remains the same. Technology! It can be so fickle!

read Kerri’s blogpost on this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerriandavid.com

Reach Through The Trees [on DR Thursday]

When my time on the planet could be counted in single digits, I drew the same picture over and over and over again. A cabin in the forest. A tree in the foreground. Among my first oil paintings was the cabin-in-my-mind.

For years, my cabin hung on my grandfather’s wall. When we traveled to Iowa for a visit, I was pleased to see it nested in a modest frame in his home office. It may be my first painting to make an appearance beyond the walls of my boyhood home. When he passed, my parents claimed the painting and it circled back to their house, where I painted it.

Last year, with my dad in assisted living, while moving my mom into her new apartment, I brought the painting back with me to Wisconsin. Full circle. We put it in a new frame. It rests in my office, sitting on the floor against the file cabinet because we can’t decide where we want to hang it. Each day, standing at my desk, I am, for a moment, pulled back in time to the boy who had to draw this cabin again and again.

Why? I certainly didn’t feel as if I was inventing it as a drawing exercise. From this vantage point I remember it as a recall, the invocation of a memory. My child-brain never questioned it. My cabin, as if I lived in a world before photographs and was trying to record what once was, trying to reach through the trees to what could no longer be touched. I had to draw it so I might remember it.

Now, with hundreds of paintings between me and my cabin in the woods, I wonder if every painting I’ve ever painted comes from the same impulse, reaching through the trees to what cannot be touched. Canvas on the easel has always pulled me into it, like a good story pulls a reader into a book.

It’s also a great definition of art and artistry. Just try and wrap your fingers around King Lear or grasp the deep well of Martha Graham. Kerri’s piano bounces when she plays it; she is little and her piano is grand. The force that comes through is beyond comprehension.

I laughed when my doctor told me that we rationalize things because we want to control them and, sometimes there is no rational explanation. No way to control it. Art regularly blows through the question “Why?”.

read Kerri’s blogpost about REACHING THROUGH THE TREES

Listen To Dan [on saturday morning smack-dab]

Between the dog-of-destruction reigning supreme in the backyard and the water-line-trench-destruction in the front yard, we’re the award winners in our neighborhood for worst yard. Luckily, we have Dan. He knows everything about grass. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. For years he’s given us great lawn advice that we forget almost immediately after we ask. Patience is a virtue and his name is Dan.

With the complete annihilation of the front yard, first resulting in a weed-covered-burial-mound and then the subsequent scraping away of the mound and all living things with it, we thought it best to finally put Dan’s advice into action. He drives by periodically to check on our progress and give us some hints and encouragement.

Things are looking up! Tender grass is growing in most spots in the front. We’re awaiting the fall day that Dan gives us the go-ahead to “over-seed.” With any luck, he tells us, our once bald lawn will have a full head of hair by this time next year.

The award will have to go someone else.

read Kerri’s blogpost about GRASS

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Be The Feast [on DR Thursday]

This time of year, if you want to walk the Des Plaines river trail, do it early in the day. The mosquitoes come out in the afternoon. They are vicious little critters.

The Des Plaines mosquitoes are subject to one of the great mysteries in my life. At home – in fact, everywhere else on the planet – the mosquitoes prefer Kerri. I can be mosquito-free while she’s a mosquito-buffet. Not true at Des Plaines. Those wicked flying needles feast on me and give her a pass. Why?

Last week we started our walk a little later than planned. It’s as if the folks in the Des Plaines control room throw a switch. One moment, there’s not a mosquito to be found. The next moment, the mosquito dinner bell is rung and I am the main course. I run-walk, slap and silly dance my way back to the relative safety of the car. Kerri walks leisurely asking, “Are there any on me?”

It’s been a great equalizer in our relationship. For years, in the early summer evenings, writhing, she asks in desperation, “Are you getting bitten?” My smug response has always been, “No. Are they out?” Now, as I wiggle and swat my way through the forest, she strolls and smiles and asks, “What’s the matter?”

Equalizer. Compassion-builder. Though, now I understand why she suggested a later start for our walk in the woods. “What about the mosquitoes?” I asked.

She smiled.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MOSQUITOES

earth interrupted I © 2012 david robinson

Hold Vigil [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

BabyCat waited until I was traveling. He was with Kerri long before I arrived in her life. I believe, to leave, he needed to have her all to himself. He passed suddenly, with little warning that something was wrong. She raced him to the vet. He was gone. In the blink of an eye.

When you wake up in the morning you never really know how your life will change that day.

We have a photograph that kills me every time look at it. Dog-Dog standing at the door, looking out. Not understanding. Holding vigil for BabyCat’s return. Sometimes I feel like I am Dogga standing at the door. I hear a sound in the house and think, “What’s that BabyCat doing now?”

And then I catch myself. Dog-at-the-door. Holding vigil.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MISSING BABYCAT

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Remember [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

It’s taken some time but Kerri has, at last, taught me a hard-to-learn-lesson: when I am to listen versus when I am to listen and give voice to a thought (sometimes known as “Offer advice”).

The challenge: the cues are not readily apparent. To misread the cue is to unleash certain havoc.

This, in a nutshell, is what I’ve learned: In 100% of the cases, listen and nod. Say nothing that is not the verbal equivalent of a nod. These moments that seem-to-my-eyes like problems-to-be-solved are never what they appear.

Boil the nutshell down to its essence: nothing needs solving. There are no solutions required so don’t offer any. There are only four words that are universally useful. It. Will. Be. Okay. (variation: We. Can. Do. It) (Bonus word: Together).

Now, if only I’d remember my hard-learned-lesson when I most need it. Remembering is not so easy.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ZEN-GEN!

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Melt And Hammer [on Merely A Thought Monday]

We are easily entertained. Once, we nearly crashed the car laughing-so-hard at the names we gave to our alter-egos. Who drives around naming their alternative selves? We do. Sit us in a corner and we’re pretty good at finding something to do.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

Igneous is volcanic. Fiery. A few weeks ago we painted rocks to put on the trail. Since we’re both cycling through an artistic-growth-crisis, we painted and fantasized about our new career intentions. When Kerri suggested we call ourselves “igneous artists” I howled. The layers of meaning are too vast to count. Plus, I thought it sounded suspiciously close to “ignorant artists” and I liked that, too. “We should hang out a shingle,” she said, “For Hire!”

Igneous artists.

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.” ~ Albert Einstein

Because we tend to riff on everything, while painting rocks, we rolled around our new art-moniker until we had an appropriate clever (to us) sub-phrase. “It sounds like a lyric,” I announced, mostly as enticement for my lyricist wife to spin out a theme song. She did not take the bait.

Igneous artists with sedimentary souls.

‘Layers of soul’ is a yummy image. Especially if the layers are born of elements like fire. Like all artists, we’ve been forged, melted in a hot furnace and hammered into shape. The smith hammers out the impurities. “People don’t change,” Kerri often quips, “They become more of who they already are.”

I could stand to lose a few impurities. I look forward to becoming what I am already.

“To draw you must close your eyes and sing.” ~ Pablo Picasso

read Kerri’s blogpost about IGNEOUS ARTISTS

Have A Constitutional [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“Have you not noticed that love is silence? It may be while holding the hand of another, or looking lovingly at a child, or taking in the beauty of an evening. Love has no past or future, and so it is with this extraordinary state of silence.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

As the evening cools the heat of the day, we look at each other, no words need be said, stand, hold hands and walk out the gate. In another era, they called this kind of evening stroll a “constitutional.” Walking at days end is good for your constitution, your health.

I’ve learned it’s good for my mental health. All of the energy swirling around inside my brain channels down and out through my feet. Fifteen minutes into our stroll, I take a deep breath. I sigh. The last swirl spirals out. With a clear mind, I relax. I squeeze Kerri’s hand. The beauty of the evening flows in. I can see beyond what I think.

We walk a loop through the neighborhood that winds toward the shore, past the beach house where we held our wedding reception. We follow the path through the park, emerging onto First Avenue along the row of houses overlooking the lake, by Jim and Linda’s old house. Echos of laughter. Good times gone by.

Sometimes we talk. Sometimes not.

The other night, as we strolled in silence, I smiled at how much of my life I spent trying to “get somewhere.” Trying to “achieve” or “obtain” some imagined thing. Always separate from my moment. It made my constitutional that much sweeter, knowing I had no where else I wanted to be. No imagined place, racing around my mind, pulling me from the lapping water, the cooling evening air, my wife’s hand, the sound of our slow walking.

read Kerri’s blogpost about EVENING