A message to the faithful… [addendum]

[THIS IS A PINNED MESSAGE. NEWER POSTS ARE BELOW.]

Tomorrow starts the month of December and I’ll be unpinning this post, so please take note of its contents… thanks so much!

Such a year, such a time, amirite? But the sun still shines most days and keeps urging me to finish things I’ve started. Before the pandemic broke, I embarked on a mission to improve access to my blog by making it a subscription page (always free of charge) in lieu of depending on Facebook membership. I knew where I was going and what I wanted to do, but the project fared as well as the 37 others I began or thought about during those limbo-soaked months. Welp, here we are, 2021’s nearly over, why not launch a great and mighty effort to go out with a bang or something.

Here’s my thought process:

1. My blog has been tied to Facebook almost from the start.

2. Meta/Facebook’s future is murkier than my own at this point.

3. I would be delighted for my blog not to be dependent upon Facebook for staying in contact with my readers.

So hear me out…

If you want to keep reading the stuff I post on Playing for Time:

  1. Go to “Follow Blog via Email” in righthand sidebar on blog
  2. Register
  3. Break your Meta dependence and assure delivery of new posts

I’ll be hanging onto my auxiliary FB page, eponymously called Playing for Time, for a while, but since I’d like to have a quiet farewell ceremony ASAP, I hope you’ll make sure you’re subscribed through the blog itself so I don’t lose you. That matters to me. It matters that you read this stuff. It matters that you’re here.

BOTTOM LINE: PLEASE SUBSCRIBE THROUGH THE BLOG LINK BEFORE FACEBOOK ACCESS ENDS

If you’re reading this on Playing for Time the blog, look to the righthand sidebar and do the thing. If you’re reading on Facebook, go to my blog, look to the righthand sidebar and… https://playingfortimeblog.com/

[Unless, of course, this is your prime chance to bail, in which case, thank you for checking the place out.]

If you have any questions about the process, please ask in the comment section that accompanies this post, or on Facebook.

***** One additional note: At the bottom of each new blog post is a “RATE THIS” box. No one, including me, sees who votes, nor how – your vote is completely anonymous. But it means a lot to me because it tells me somebody read the post and had a response to it. So thanks for clicking. Your comments mean even more, so never hesitate to say something before you leave. I sorta live for comments.

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Sea changes…

Whether we’re true believers, hangers-on, or equal-opportunity revelers, the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Easter exerts power over all of us. It’s hyper-represented, and thus misses the mark every year, by which I mean world peace is yet to be realized, and peace almost anywhere has become a myth.

For someone who likes to imagine herself a communicator, I’ve clearly done a piss-poor job of it over the past ten years or so. I’ve sat here at my computer, thoughts preoccupied with the immediate, and watched the world change, moment by moment, event by event… observed while the prevailing mood of the country rolled from benign tolerance to annoyance, to resentment, to violence… and I still have a hard time believing where we find ourselves at the end of 2021.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “I don’t get it” in the past decade, I’d buy a lovely dinner for the first person who could map out a schematic of what’s happened, and why almost nobody wants to talk about it. I’ve had conversations with a few former stalwart conservatives whose thinking has morphed over the years, and without exception they’ve been happy to tell me what drove their change of heart… things like morals, ethics, concern for other humans, how people are treated around the world, money, greed, blurring of government and religion, crime at the top, and so on. On the other hand, no 2021 conservative I know has shown the slightest willingness to have an adult conversation with me about the world and their take on it. If I ask a question, I’m intrusive and threatening. If I answer one, I’m rude and aggressive.

“I don’t get it” is no doubt a huge tell in the age game, probably a thing boomers say. But I’m just being straight, I want to KNOW. I want to know why we ended up locked in this cage of solid lines, solid walls, a complete stonewall. Everything that happens in the world affects us from womb to tomb, and the past decade has been packed with trauma and upheaval, so why would we think life wouldn’t have changed us in the process as well? There are people I care about who are so transformed as to be unrecognizable, but I still care. If they’re close to me, or were before society started unravelling, I’ll ask them questions… because I want to know who they are NOW. It’s no secret that I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago – life happened and it set me off in all new directions, for which no apologies are owed. Okay… so I’m a different person, you’ve changed, talk to me about what took you down the road you’re on… human things, not statistics, not rants, not I’m-right-you’re-wrong… simply, here’s who I am now, and because I love you I’ll even tell you why.

Somebody a lot of people claim to worship said “You have not because you ask not.” I’ve asked to the point of being summarily kicked to the curb… or I simply know I’ve asked for the last time “Who are you at this age? Can’t we have a conversation?” and if I push the envelope one more time I’ll be locked out and blocked.

How then do we lower some of the walls, open some windows, figure out how to trust each other? I’m hanging out here in the wind, an open book, knowing my liberal friends and family have my back, and wishing those I love on the other side would be straight with me so our relationships aren’t permanently broken. How can a simple two-sided conversation be so threatening? After everything that’s happened, it seems disingenuous to pick up and go on as if nothing has been altered and pretend we still know each other.

Either I’ve asked the wrong questions the wrong way… the right questions the wrong way… or there was never going to be a right way to start with. Communication is by nature at least 2-sided, so I’ve obviously over-talked because what I’m hearing from the other side is crickets. People forget they unfriended me years ago for being liberal-minded, we make a chance connection, they send me a Facebook request, I say yes (oh, Pollyanna, girl… sigh), they see I haven’t altered my worldview since last time they disowned me, they confront me with what are later described as rhetorical musings (with question marks at the end), I answer (being an old bag with a heart o’gold), they take offense, and within three minutes I’m out on my ear again. Will I never learn? No, no I won’t. It’s just how I roll.

I make enemies because I care and I won’t shut up. I lose people from my life because I talk to almost everyone the same way… I say my truth and I don’t dilute it to a ridiculous degree to keep from offending. What I should have been saying to people I love is “Don’t talk to me about your politics or who’s done what and how much you hate it. Tell me what you care about, what keeps you getting up every day, what life means to you now… and talk to me like you want to be there. I’m not being confrontational, I just miss you.”

And then I remember that I’ve done it too… I’ve dropped people like they were hot after the second time they slammed me in front of the gods and babies on Facebook… and I doubt that felt right to them either. Doesn’t seem quite like comparing apples to apples, but I’ve been impatient and unkind plenty of times during this challenging era.

From birth we know who we feel safe with, who we want to be around, who our people are, where we find comfort and peace. We of course also know who we don’t trust, who makes us clam up and be an observer, whose views scare the daylights out of us, who makes us feel less-than… and ain’t nobody got time for that.

You wouldn’t think a person would forget a thing like this, but it slips my mind that there are fellow humans who genuinely dislike me, disavow me, and have no interest in hearing my name again in this lifetime. None of what I’ve said is about those people… they have personal freedom to stay off the path I’m on, and that’s how that works.

The world has shifted under our feet and relationships we once thought couldn’t be broken are in ashes. It feels necessary this morning to acknowledge that, accept it, and keep moving. I’m sorry for my part in the brokenness… but I don’t give up without a fight when something matters, so I’m sure I’ll continue to annoy and disgust people I don’t even know are looking.

For now… let’s think about holiday lights.

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Thankful…

Holidays now are ghosts of traditions past, but yesterday felt right. Rita and Kim did the cooking, kept it simple but delicious, and all the feelings were mutual. Three people in one room on the same page makes for a relaxing observance and we enjoyed it all.

In the afternoon, Rita went to a movie with friends and we flaked out with football, isn’t that how it’s done? We missed getting a picture of Kimmers, but he snapped one of us for posterity since the hope of “next year in Jerusalem” is never guaranteed.

*****

And oh wait… here’s Kim on yet another beautiful day this November… 💙

We hope everyone’s gathering was peaceful, all hearts grateful, all ties intact. That’s a lot.

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If wishes were fishes… page 142

Reprinting a page from my COVID Diary about this time last year…

Day 248 – 11/18/2020

It’s a blustery day, sunny and windy. Parks & Rec installed tarps on the north fence of the PickleBall courts and every morning since then the wind has blown from any direction but north. They’ll hit it right again one of these days but had to give it up after a half-hour this morning.

Kim’s making banana bread mini-loaves, a bi-weekly occurrence, which he shares at PickleBall and tucks into the little food pantries on Mass Street. Makes the house smell amazing.

I’m scouting out good stuff today, like this picture Rita found from our wedding reception when I was still under 100 elbees. We were in the wonky kids’-church area and it makes me laugh that Kim had a door handle in his neck and never even felt it. “What, me worry?”

Just Married – 2004

What we hoped would bring an end to the chaotic limbo hasn’t, and the charade continues unabated while the world falls strangely silent. If I had a time machine I’d go back and talk with my Great-grandma Salome Wagner, who lived through the Civil War in southern Indiana and was forced to quarter Union soldiers on her farm. I’d ask her when she first began to realize that the United States consisted of two nations… and how she kept her heart from breaking. No time for such foolishness, then or now, but it comes to us anyway… the disbelief, the denial, the anger, the senseless bargaining, the overflowing grief. I’d ask Grandma Sally if she reached acceptance before she died, and if neighbors ever trusted each other again in her lifetime.

I’d hop in my ride and go see my Grandpa Reese for a while. He could tell me about fighting hand-to-hand in WWI at 17 and coming home to the gratitude of his country. Same with anyone who made it through WWII – nothing but appreciation for a job done. Korea, too, as far as I know. Maybe things started south during Viet Nam and we’ve never really pretended to be one nation since we brought our military personnel home to derision and contempt. This pacifist is of the opinion that if we send them, we support them.

There’s a long list of people I’d call on in my time machine, people who could provide much-needed perspective and objectivity, and I really wish I could have conversations with them. I’d be sure to get some hugs and advice from my mom while I was out there…

On the silent days I miss everybody louder.

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What’s the story?

When we sheltered from COVID-19 in March of 2020, I took for granted I’d be staving off cabin fever by reading some of the many books from my never-ending list, but it didn’t exactly work out that way. Those months turned out to be very much like dealing with the death of a loved one, and instead of feeling energized by voluntary captivity and freed to pursue any and all interests, I found myself in grief mode, focus lost, drifting with the hours. I did try repeatedly to get into a book, but after the third or fourth romp through a paragraph I had to drop it every time.

Sometime this spring my damped-down psyche woke up and said “What’s to read around here, anyway??” and it’s been a steady parade since. OMG, welcome home, my BFF, I missed you like deserts miss the rain, please don’t do that again, ‘k?

Since once again becoming [TRIGGER WARNING: Buzz word] “woke,” I’ve read:

She Come By It Natural – Sarah Smarsh

The Year She Left Us – Kathryn Ma

11/22/63 – Stephen King

A Widow for One Year – John Irving

Women Talking – Miriam Toews

The 19th Wife – David Ebershoff

In the Distance – Hernán Díaz

American Woman – Susan Choi

After the Fire – Henning Mankell & Marlaine Delargy

All the Beautiful Girls – Elizabeth J. Church

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

Alice I Have Been – Melanie Benjamin

Among the Missing – Dan Chaon

The Atomic Weight of Love – Elizabeth J. Church

The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver

Current read is Billy Bathgate and the jury is still out, but all of the above I would recommend without hesitation. I’ve likely managed to leave out a few, but the joy is that I haven’t been without a book underway in months, and that’s progress I can respect. We’re in the thankful season, and I’m deeply grateful that good books are still part of my daily life, and that the thrill of aging and the joy of reading are still friends.

*****

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There’s nothing more freeing than truth…

The past week held a little of everything, which I’m still processing. Forward progress happened… news of the world disappointed and sickened us again… the daily goodness we depend on was all there… and we learned more things about the people in our lives.

I’m still abstaining from TV news and benefitting from that new habit. Reading the headlines for myself is a different animal from hearing them pounded to a pulp by the various talking heads, and it worms its way into my psyche far less. It’s all still happening, still every bit as appalling and life-altering… but when I walk away from the written word, my brain knows there’s far more hope in the world than we’re being led to believe.

The past couple of weeks have been a watershed… a time for facing facts. The bent of the nation and the world is a totally real thing… corporate fascism is bursting with energy and drive in the civilized world, and the peculiar ethic, the tenets, the morés that fuel it have by now filtered down to the man on the street. A 3-minute conversation is all it takes to turn a buzz-word into a breakup. Who we are is out in the open, and it isn’t who everybody THOUGHT we all were.

A long-lost relative drew me into a political discussion recently, which stayed civil until I asked him how he could align himself with one of the most heinous human beings on the planet. His answer, “You make it about him, an undignified coarse-talking buffoon of a personality. I voted for principles. I learned a long time ago to live day to day on PRINCIPLES ….NOT…. Personalities. So….Judy, if we can’t compromise in our relationship, then we have to do the next best thing. Cut ourselves loose from one another.” For the second time in 20 years, you mean, after a 3-minute conversation. I have yet to find a 2021 Republican who will talk with me… just talk, and listen, and talk some more, with thoughtful silences and an indicated willingness to consider facts. Apparently it’s a guiding PRINCIPLE not to do that.

The same relative told me, “I loved Robert and Judy Latta. This Judy Smith person I can’t deal with.” THE FACTS: Robert Latta died a violent death and didn’t come back, and Judy Latta, in many necessary ways, went with him. Judy Smith is who I am. You never knew me.

The division we knew was there, that we can feel building month by month, is too real for words. Until now we’ve been able to cover parts of it up and pretend it’s really nothing and it’ll smooth over. But people are finally saying outright “I don’t like you, please go away,” so I think it’s here to deal with for the foreseeable.

People don’t appear to want to talk, discuss, consider, think, instead preferring the lines to be drawn in indelible ink and never trespassed against. If the U.S. falls apart, it will be due in large part to the fact that most of the population can’t understand, and is not interested in, the differences between fascism, communism, and democratic socialism. The words themselves become the meaning and the power, and the human capacity for discernment and comprehension takes a hike – it’s all too threatening and complex to deal with.

The fact that truth is hard to come by in this era makes it a supreme challenge to keep the meaning in our relationships. What, we’re now asking ourselves, are those connections really all about? What makes them different from anything else out there? Why do we cling to myths and fairytales? Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one…

Despite my relative’s disavowal of The Former Guy, he’s still the de facto head of the GOP, still shaping its posture, still tainting whatever its values were. And as my chosen life coach John Pavlovitz wrote in September of this year…

“In this iteration of our nation, the elemental decency that should define human beings is no longer a universal requirement. The base-level expectations of those we live in community alongside simply do not exist anymore. There is no standard anymore.

For so many people here, it is no longer just about a sharing a difference of opinion on an issue or about voicing opposing political ideologies or even about the expression of personal or religious freedom—it is about inflicting as much pain as I can to people who I know nothing about and who have done me no direct wrong.

I’m not sure where we go from here, but I know that this version of America isn’t worthy of our or anyone’s children inheriting.

We’re going to need more good people becoming louder about what is and isn’t within the bounds of civilized society.

We’re going to need to name what is unacceptable and to demand decency and safety for all of us.

We’re going to need to collectively hold on to our souls or there will be nothing beautiful left to leave after we’re gone.

We have to do better.

We need to reverse the Trump Effect on America.”

And then made a golden idol of it.

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Hope and spontaneous joy…

Hope and spontaneous joy… I said those words yesterday to a Facebook friend who brings me happiness daily, a fellow writer of words but about half my age, so a fresh perspective with every post. Interestingly, we were talking football… and the consensus was that whatever sparks real happiness these days, bring it.

“What if I couldn’t write it down… ” That’s the mantra that moves me outside myself on challenging days and puts truth in front of me. Write it, say it, erase it, or share it.

… or it will kill you.

People who know me know that the highs and lows are what set me down in front of the keyboard. When life’s all chill I just live it. The great and awful days are what send me to this therapy chair every time.

Keep your friends close…

***

Not entirely true, I’m okay with my stand-up-and-take-it record. But I have nothing against softness…
Yeah, never learned chess
I’ve caused buttloads of hurt to people in this life, and being right isn’t a worthy reason.
It leads to hope and spontaneous joy.

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Life forces…

No force on earth holds the power of a single word

spoken in haste from the human heart,

no blow strikes so sure

no arrow so deep.

.

I love you, says DNA, tho I do not like you

so let’s speak no further lest we uncover truth that will end us.

Mayhap someday this core we’re protecting will acquire a name…

a bold new label for the ages.

.

For now we call it personal choice, my world my rights, freedom,

as it divides and plows asunder

the stuff of life that won’t be regained once gone.

Labels will not cover it.

.

Becoming the predominant species has not in turn

prepared us for being fully human, for living, for crossing boundaries on our way home.

Our spirit of adventure has been jaded by the journey

and we settle for the dull, the well-worn… the safe.

.

As a winning animal we are shabby and embarrassing, an unworthy victor.

Octopi outdo us for sensitivity and gentleness…

Crows and elephants care more deeply for their dead…

Nurse ants lick the wounds of fallen comrades.

.

Humans have evolved beyond such weakness

and we are right or we are nothing at all.

The Proud are highly amused by our

acts of love and goodwill…. all weakness and lies…

.

No force on earth holds the power of a single word

from the mouth of one esteemed.

Nothing after will hold the power to restore what is lost

in that searing terminus.

.

No force on earth holds the power…

so we disarm the words by assigning better motives

cutting slack

dissembling…

.

… and surrendering our inherent dominance,

we let the words gouge, stab, wound, and defeat us,

while the power of unconditional love goes unspent, unused, unemployed

in the pursuit of happiness… and freedom.

JSmith 11/14/2021

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Sifting sprites…

We are geologists, combing layers of life’s sediment,

scuffing our feet across forgotten expanses left behind

as sprites stir, sleeping off grudges just beneath the surface…

and they are not happy.

They like neither themselves nor what differs from self…

and they are not happy.

Life is too long and too brief to provide shelter and light

to zealous sprites who after long sleep exist in the world to

insure greatest maximum distress for earth’s other inhabitants,

because why should any existing thing find what sprites can’t have.

.

So we go in search of other worlds… pockets of benign welcome where

we finally drop the shoulders, unclench the jaw, and free our tongue

from the roof of our mouth.

We say the words that hold life and mean them… words that rescue the Happy…

and we are happy.

We find the ones who get us… and in knowing us, they heal us.

Valuable trust is carefully rationed until we find that not everyone we knew

has turned spritely…

and with all the world gone dusty and dry

a cooling rain shower to the heart regenerates what matters.

JSmith 11/11/2021

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A confession…

Boys and girls, in light of our ongoing relationship over the years, I’m obligated to inform you that I am armed, dangerous, and a threat to polite society, as evidenced by a whiplash experience over the weekend. Be forewarned is all I’m saying. It was one of those caught-off-guard, konked on the head surprises that we’re never waiting for and all we can do is absorb them.

It’s well-documented that I’m a liberal-thinker, it can’t be disguised or hidden, nor have I ever tried. It’s a part of me I appreciate most, no apologies. Over the years, as the lines have been drawn with an ever-finer marker and the ways we think about life have utterly diverged, about half my extended family has broken off communications, for which I don’t blame them – when you don’t share an inviolable worldview, what do you talk about finally?

A test of mettle arose this past week when I received health news about a relative who had cut me loose for my wanton liberal ways… or so I assume because he closed all avenues of communication and I didn’t hear from, or about, him for long years. After seeing the message I did the adult thing, scrounged around for a contact address, and wrote him and his wife a genuine note of love and concern, which… son-of-a-gun, opened that door right back up. He was ever so grateful and kind, going so far as to send me a Facebook request, which I validated… and that’s when the fight started, except that I don’t fight. He saw my posts, realized I was still that awful commie liberal witchy-woman he kicked to the curb all those years ago, and we had a conversation… calm and measured on my part, increasingly hostile on his, including a totally incomprehensible shaming for remarrying after my first husband was killed. This from someone with multiple marriages under his belt. And then he swiftly bailed and blocked me from any further contact. That’s twice, buddy, jeez.

Kids, I tell you this to let you know there’s no road through to the other side right now and may never be again. We speak two different languages, hold differing moral codes, and our outlook on humanity is terminally split. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to hold thoughtful exchanges with family and friends who abhor my take on life, and I can testify that it’s an impossibility at this point. As soon as a real conversation threatens to break out, they’re outta there every time.

So watch your backs… I’ve been officially declared toxic to the health of a family member; therefore, who knows what further mayhem I might get up to. I’m a small 74-year-old woman who has very limited contact with the world outside my door, and who will never show up on the doorstep of people who hate my voice, even if invited… the trip alone, at this point, would attempt to kill me. So what are people worried will happen? That I’ll expose a feeling they didn’t know they had and can’t acknowledge? That I’ll “force” them to talk with me like two adults? That I’ll ask a question they don’t know how to answer? That I’ll try to drag them into some mystical woo-woo place of real communication?

I have plenty of experience, but few answers… much heavy sadness, but few regrets. I’ve been transparent and dealt in truth as I know it. And life goes on, even as it’s perpetually ending…

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Ravenous butterflies…

In Silence Known – Andrea Kowch

“She did not need much, wanted very little.

A kind word, sincerity, fresh air, clean water,

a garden, kisses, books to read, sheltering arms, a cosy bed,

and to love and be loved in return.”

starra neely blade

********************

Art by Seb McKinnon

I hope I told you
How much you meant to me
And
How much I would miss you
When you were gone
I hope I told you
I hope I did

by Athey Thompson

********************

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The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things…

Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings…

The first Saturday in November arrives, cold and still. Some of the trees are looking dusty and stripped, but the show-offs are still holding their colors for all to appreciate. There are four of them in direct line of sight through my windows and they bring joy with every sunrise.

As temps begin to drop, we look for things that might keep endless summer alive in us, and the internet provides the greatest mining to be found, no question.

Joy!

After wiping my spiritual slate clean about a decade ago, I started from scratch, building something real from the pores in, and the realest element is Karma… she visits me every day, keeps meticulous track of what goes down among humans, and is never late showing up. Also, she neither lies nor fundraises.

*****

I miss Robin Williams and other fragile souls like him… the world is poorer for lack of their tender hearts. In their company there’s safety for everybody’s inner child.

Sometimes we forget that EVERYBODY gets that same choice.

Of shoes… and ships… and tomorrow’s Sunday…

Speaking of (in) jabberwocky.

Welp, there’s my problem, right there… the internet has “a little bit of everything, all of the time”… so I’ll inevitably dig out sobering truths among the summertime goodies. Such is life…

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November… wow…

Even though I’m about it every day, I can’t slow the seasons enough in my brain to fully appreciate them, and this morning we’re into November. It’s chilly, windy, and gray, with rain showers moving through, so fall is for sure not a figment of my imagination. It was a fun autumn weekend in town, as related to me by Kimmers after his various forays into the crush of humanity, and by my eyes and ears from the balcony. Yesterday was the inaugural run of the Belgian Waffle Ride here in Lawrence, and the streets were packed with bicycles, people, antique cars, booths, vendors, photographers, film crews, food, drink, music, and more. The Ride is a cool thing…

https://belgianwaffleride.bike/pages/kansas

… and since we’re Belgian waffle fans already, Kim made a Razzleberry version for lunch that was THE BOMB.

He also snapped pics of some of the riders, this particular group heading north out of town for the rough-country part of the challenge.

*****

With the days growing shorter and the evenings chillier, and with my powers of concentration again finding a footing, I’m back to books for company. I finished an excellent read over lunch called Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, as honest a self-assessment as I’ve ever seen from another human. A sentence near the end of the book, after the author had experienced lifetimes of pain, stays with me… “NOW I knew that joy was a kind of fearlessness, a letting go of expectations that the world should be anything other than what it was.”

Jamie Lee Curtis has touched me too, with her pragmatic approach to aging which never rules out a healthy sense of adventure. She provides a quote in reference to her own internal governor:

“The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.”John Steinbeck, East of Eden

So in times of self-doubt, when we’re questioning our motives and sanity, trusting ourselves becomes a passport to personal security.

Whatever it was, it happened, it’s over, keep moving. There aren’t that many other options.

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Fall breeze, autumn leaves…

Slowly we turn… step by step… and as of this afternoon we’ve had both COVID shots plus a booster, with a flu shot thrown in for good measure, along with the shingles and pneumonia vaccines that were already onboard. If we suffer any aches we’ll at least know we’ve done our part and it’s over for a while. If only we could say the same about the virus itself.

Step by step…

The tree across the street is showing off big-time… an arresting sight just beyond my window.

And the mums are happy with the way fall’s going so far…

Autumn evokes all the feelings, every year, without end. And the remembrance of feelings… a uniquely human capability… takes us down roads of its own choosing, where we relive what was until we run out of courage for the journey.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the first time my dad came out with a string of words that made no sense. My blood ran cold and my instant thought was “No, don’t do this! Please, I need you to still be my dad.” I’d lost my husband and I was looking after both my dad and my mother-in-law when that one sentence told me we’d gone over the cliff. I had the same reaction the first time a friend’s words told me he was a true believer in the fascist slide the nation and the world are taking. It’s that incredulous rush of “Wait, I thought we knew each other!” and newly shocking every time it happens.

So when you’re trying not to let the screaming-meemies take over, the good stuff gets saddled with overtime duty.

*****

*****

I pay little attention to mirrors now, but when one catches me I see my grandma looking back… a woman who survived much and kept her sense of humor past 95 years old. That fills me with hope.

After a few autumns on this planet, we know fall isn’t the ending it portrays itself as. To everything there is a season, and this one is for rest and renewal, so it’s very welcome here. Enjoy the leaves…

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An homage…

My mom was one of nine siblings and I grew up surrounded by cousins, with our maternal grandparents at the center of the circus, always. It was one of those families where the Christmas presents fill up half the living room and the dining tables take all the space that’s left. We were raised on humor, hugs, and a knowing instilled by farmers and former military that we were expected to suck it up and survive.

But Grandpa died of lung cancer… and then when Grandma, the Queen Bee, left us at age 95… all the air went out. We went from time-honored massive family reunions to none, literally in a heartbeat. The Clan has dispersed itself around the globe over the years, so there are generations of cousins I’ll never know, even by name. And it’s sobering to realize that most of the cousins I grew up with I’ll never lay eyes on again. They’re there… I’m here… neither of us is going here nor there for all the reasons… so the last time we saw each other… was the last time we’ll ever see each other.

People change. Life changes us if we’re living it at all. We assume we know the humans with whom we share a gene pool, but it’s a delusion of youth and immaturity… the longer we live, the greater the distance between us. And sharing a bloodline doesn’t mean we’ll get along, or even like each other. The current mood of the planet has soaked into every part of society by now, making family dynamics a minefield… therefore, at least half my extended family considers me “better in theory than in practice” at best… and I’m good with that.

Everything ends. The most beautiful things in the world – like a big crazy family with love coming out its pores – don’t remain static, they can’t. So I’m paying homage to a dynasty that was and is no more. It was never what we purposely remember it to be… but close enough for family and fairytales.

WHERE IT STARTED…

WHERE IT WENT… x 3 or 4 by now

Possibly the last big reunion we had. These are all 1st cousins, about half the total at the time.

Fall melancholy… moody rambling… somber thoughts…grieving the losses… celebrating what was. All respect to a big ol’ family that’s tried as hard to be human as any I know. And on we all go…

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