Marking time… page 127

Day 222 – 10/23/2020

Dark rainy morning. Kim had stuff to do first thing, so I’m sitting in the quiet with my coffee, watching headlights bounce off shiny surfaces below me. No warm-up for a few days now, and Monday’s forecast says 31º and snow showers, with a low of 20º. Whoa, baby…

It was fun to get out yesterday in t-shirts and shorts and roam around in the 85º temps. We saw pretty leaves, ate lunch in the car with the windows down, watched an enormous muskrat nibble on greens next to a creek, drove around KC metro just because we could, found what we wanted, and happily crawled back into the cave four hours later. Not old, just tired…

Watched last night’s debate, so that’s done now. Counting down the interminable hours until we know and trying to keep my head busy. It’s chilly, wet, and windy, so this will be an indoor day, which means working twice as hard at holding steady. We have a freeze warning for tonight, so we might try to huddle the mums together and cover them. They’re so perfect we hate to give them up, especially when there are some warmer temps to follow.

Welp, Diary… I’m gonna be boring and tedious for eleven more days and then let’s both hope for a sea change all ’round. Then the next sea change will be when we know we can walk into any restaurant or other business in town, attend any event, gather with friends, without the restrictions imposed by a pandemic. That one will be a pretty big deal, too.

Wow, look at the time… 10am… this day is positively streaking by!

And you thought you’d be getting something new…

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Breaking out… page 126

Day 221 – 10/22/2020

It’s a bright, shiny Thursday morning, with temps headed for the mid-80s by afternoon, so we have PLANS. Can’t waste a day like this. Getting really nice now, but it was foggy when Kim went walking early, and all our windows were steamed over.

South Park
Richard’s Music, still sleeping…

The PickleBallers are playing at 9:00 and then we’re gonna blow this pop stand for a few hours. Going over on the Missouri side to buy a few fireworks just in case we have reason to celebrate on the 3rd or thereafter. Wouldn’t want to be caught without a way to holla, and we can always start a funeral pyre with them if things go south. Again.

Just saw that today’s high will be 85º… and tomorrow’s 45º. Kansas, you are rarely boring. Tedious, yes, but boring? There’s never time.

So yeah, ready when it’s Go Time. I even put on eye makeup, for me, not the fireworks people or even Kim. The girl part of the old girl is still in there.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Falling… page 125

Day 220 – 10/21/2020

… the rain, the temps… here’s where it gets real, Diary, as the weather closes in and the balcony becomes off-limits – how sloooow can she gooooo? Chill and damp out there this morning, with showers in the forecast. BUT… tomorrow’s supposed to be in the 80s, so I barely have time to whine about this, I just know what comes after tomorrow and beyond…

A few stalwarts are on the courts again this morning, but Kimmers opted to stay in where it’s cozier, playing guitar, which doesn’t make me sad. I’m running comfort-food menus through my head and just got to the M’s. I think we have Velveeta Mac, which is always a guilty pleasure on a cold day. Since we usually think of the same food ideas, we’ll see how that pans out…

We did pick Mac & Cheese for lunch, which I’m pretty sure we just had last week but desperate times call for desperate measures. Kim put Italian sausage crumbles in his today, but I’m always reluctant to harsh the cheesy mellow with anything – it’s therapy. We got a brief hard rain when he would have been playing PickleBall, so he called that, too. It’s gray and drizzly, one of those days where I wander from one distraction to another like a dog who doesn’t know where to lie down. Most of it happens in my head, but still…

I’m tuning in to TV news coverage a little more as we get down to the wire – it’s hard to resist keeping tabs on shenanigans and polls. That practice failed us utterly last time, however, so I’m trying to stick with the highlights and take every last thing with a grain of salt. We’re mostly spazzing out over The Voice… they’re doing such a stellar job of production this season we forget there isn’t a live studio audience. Also The Amazing Race, which is new to Kim and an old friend to me from their earliest seasons, before I spaced it off. And maybe a debate tomorrow night, American entertainment at its nadir. We’ll watch… we ain’t scared.

Adding this so I’ll know in the future where things were right now, two weeks out:

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Adapting… page 124

Day 221 – 10/20/2020

Those PickleBallers… “Oh, you kids!” They updated the outdoor rules to read:

Play starts at 10am

Temp at least 45º

Wind low enough to keep the ball in play

Janice, who’s helping keep things organized and happening while she awaits knee surgery, is asking Parks & Rec to hang tarps on the north fence to block the chill breezes… nothing on that yet, but this is a dedicated bunch and they’ll figure it out. Kim’s over there now and I’m guessing a spa soak will be in order when he gets home – it’s still just 45º.

Yikes, sitting here typing and a migraine hits – rare occurrence now. Guess I’ll hit back with some more caffeine and hope it stops at *aura* level. They happen when I’ve been super-stressed, whether I’m aware of it or not, then suddenly the pressure’s off and BANG, migraine. I’d hate to think I’m getting just a little too happy… relaxed… optimistic… but I’m pretty sure the next two weeks will keep all those little blood vessels up there busy. Hoo-boy…

Kind of all over the place with the daily Thought Parade. My optimism is at a slightly lower ebb than yesterday, but not so’s my peace of mind would really notice. The eternity of *Almost There* will pass, but it will require a lifetime’s worth of grit to get there and this “one minute at a time” stuff is cruel and unusual punishment.

Okay. Today. It’s the only chunk of time I need to think about right now. The KIMN8R is home after a couple hours of play in the bracing fall air, he’s making red beans & rice with corn muffins for lunch, and the afternoon does indeed call for a warming soak. Even if life weren’t that great it would be magnificent.

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That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)… page 123

Day 220 – 10/19/2020

Yup, rollin’ on into another week. We finally started the fireplace last night – it’s been chilly for enough days that the building is absorbing some of the cold and the fire was soothing. Same this morning – high temp today of 46º, overcast and gray. But then… Mother Kansas takes over again and it’s the ol’ rollercoaster ride:

Over the past couple of weeks I’m sensing a sea change in the country… or I hope that’s what it is. I’m starting to allow a cautious optimism to permeate my thoughts and to maybe, possibly believe that truth and right will win out. It’s hard to get there, though, because for as long as I live – and I’m counting on another 30 years or so – the night of November 8, 2016 will never leave my consciousness. We knew that night what the nation was in for and all of it has come true, so never again will I blindly trust that things will work out for the best no matter what.

But… I’m starting to have hope with something under it and I do know what time it is.

Monday’s MickeyD day and my belly’s starting to tell me about it. So with Taco Tuesday and the big weekend breakfasts, that leaves just three lunches a week to get creative with and the routine, for two non-traditionalists, is comforting and fun. Also we’re lazy, yeah.

Something happy yesterday as I was bopping through my photo cache – a pic of John, taken I know not where nor when, but I love it. That smile turned my okay day stellar.

John says: Taken April 26, 2013, inside a Lockheed Super Constellation on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I’m thinking this might be the weirdest of Halloweirds we’ve experienced, so I’m bracing for the worst while opening a large porthole to the best. Mere days to wait, we hope, as we test our capacity for suspense, stress, and terror. Suck it up, fellow believers, we’re going to make it.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Hope on a Sunday… page 122

Day 219 – 10/18/2020

The intrepid PickleBallers are in dire need of a safe place to play indoors, but SPL is open for limited fitness activities only. Our typical short fall is morphing into early winter for now and outdoor play is becoming no bueno. So Kim borrowed my headphones and went for a long walk while I was sleeping this morning, and now he’s playing electric guitar, I’m noodling as usual, and we’re both waiting for hunger to strike and then it’s omelet time. Our high temp today is expected to be 49º so the spa soak will be from HEA-vun!

Less rain this year so the leaves are not quite as vivid and they’re dropping fast. Fall is such a metaphor for what’s happening in the world, and a present reminder that hope carries us until spring… every time. Thinking of all that’s changed in eight months, that’s one thing that remains – hope – and I’m trying to wear it on my face these days. I started realizing a couple of years ago that I have little need for mirrors now – my hair’s a no-effort deal, I bother with zero makeup except on rare occasions, I’m well-acquainted with my face after all this time, so mirrors are slightly superfluous and I forget to look, which naturally follows when one is neither jarring nor arresting to look at.

But the thought that follows from that is this: how much have my countenance and underlying substance been altered by the hours, days, weeks, and months here in my ivory tower? When we finally see our “boys” again, will I catch an “Omigod, Mom!” glint in their eyes before they check themselves? Have I gradually and imperceptibly melted and re-compacted into a zombie-like being who absorbs the hits, one by one, and keeps slogging forward? Or is that just how it feels from inside my head?

Rita stopped by yesterday for some fun catching up – she looks amazing despite her stress and exhaustion, and she’s getting on the downhill slope of things. Spring holds out hope for ALL of us! Odd to be thinking in those terms, maybe, since summer barely ended, but in the words of a favorite author:

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Live right in it… the hope. While the wind blows, the rain spatters, the snow falls and whips around us… live right in the hope. By spring we’ll know what sort of nation we are and what we personally will do with that. By spring maybe we’ll start getting a handle on the current pandemic before the next one hits. Maybe spring will bring some room for healing… repairing and rebuilding some of the vital relationships… putting things back together in this society we’ve made. I hope so.

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The weeks… page 121

Day 218 – 10/16/2020

Here we are, Diary, closing out another week under wraps, and prospects for a change of venue aren’t looking good any time soon. The KC Metro area, 30 minutes away, is a Coronavirus Cauldron again, with their highest number of cases since the pandemic started, and our levels in Douglas County have been steadily keeping pace… 51 new cases, 97 new cases… zero new for a day… 45 new cases…two days ago it was 704. We’ve had almost 19,000 cases total in the county and more than 200 deaths. Dayum, I am never gettin’ out of this house!

But things are rough all over and I’m not whining. I lose friends when I talk about it, but John & colleagues have been at this for almost eight months nonstop at the hospital, along with all the other active medical personnel around the globe, and a portion of the population despises them for it, maybe because they’re a constant reminder that yes, Virginia, there is a pandemic. Nobody’s coming to make it all better, make it go away, disappear… like magic. It just rolls relentlessly on, taking victims as it pleases, leaving devastation in its wake. And the one thing that could have saved thousands of lives and endless grief – the simple mask – was politicized early on, assuring maximum damage from the enemy among us. It defies belief, the situation we find ourselves in, but it’s real, and thanks for just absorbing all this stuff, my muse…

Temps were in the 30s this morning, have now crested 40, and might soar to 60 and beyond before the day’s over. Too nipply for PickleBall this morning, so we’re both tapping away at our keyboards, listening to stuff, and sighing…

No idea what today will hold, but I saw the Dr. Teal’s Orange Epsom Salts next to the tub, so odds are good that “Calgon” will take me awaaaaayyy after while.

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Marking time… page 120

Day 217 – 10/15/2020

Without specific markers the hours turn into days and the days turn into each other, but yesterday had its share of markers: Kim pedaled to the courthouse before 8am to see if there was a line yet for early voting and picked up an Einstein Bros. bagel for me on the way back. We voted. We had a working lunch on Cielito’s patio with Kevin for our quarterly review. Kim played bluesy guitar most of the afternoon while I read. We watched the first episode of this season’s Amazing Race. Markers.

Today’s been considerably more rudderless, although I did get a confusing Medicare mixup resolved with the stellar help… again… of Kevin’s people. I made Velveeta Mac for lunch because once in a while you have to say yes to the cheese. I looked at the little stack of stuff on my desk and thought about sorting it, but didn’t.

Reposted something sarcastic on Facebook this morning and it occurred to me that one reason I limit my page membership is that I don’t want to asplain things. I have no energy for the comments. When I post something funny from Andy Borowitz NOT THE NEWS and get back a huffy “OMG that isn’t even TRUE!” it gives my day a kick in the shorts it doesn’t need. If you don’t get it, google it, I don’t want to have this discussion.

It’s undoubtedly because I’m getting what’s commonly referred to as old. Susan H. and I compared notes this morning about voting and how long we’ve been doing it. My first time voting was in 1968 – Nixon v Humphrey. As of yesterday I’ve voted for a U.S. presidential candidate a total of 14 times, none so fraught with intensity as this one. THERE’s a marker.

An arresting little “keeper”:

Interesting Times ‘R Us. I hope desperately to avoid the second curse, and I shudder to think what the third might entail in my case. I’m okay with *interesting.*

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Stay in line, America… page 119

Day 216 – 10/14/2020

First day of advance voting here. We ordered mail-in ballots but decided we needed the rush of being there… and that was a great call. It’s a perfect fall morning, little breezy, little cool, sunshine everywhere along with the leaves. The line, distanced and masked, was out the door only about 50 feet when we got there, and the whole thing was a smooth operation – eight voting cubbies on two floors, everything sanitized and in order – and the woman who facilitated our voting process in light of the fact that we have mail-in ballots out there somewhere was amazing – she knows her stuff, and we have no qualms that our votes won’t be counted. When the paper ballots arrive we’ll shred them, and that will be that. And anyone silly enough to think you could get away with voting twice has never met the force of nature that is the County poll worker.

Neither of us has ever been so energized to cast our vote and we’ve been voting since Nixon. And now we wait. We were near this level of urgency in 2016, and we were marinated in the belief/hope that it wouldn’t go south. But it did… so the next three weeks… and hopefully not beyond, please, universe… will be a wonky bundle of angst tied with barbed wire.

Me until we see the white smoke.

We’re so incredibly privileged – we drove three blocks straight south, parked in the courthouse lot, stood in line, signed the required paperwork to keep tabs on our vote, took our time marking our ballots, returned to the car… and by the time we walked back through our door we’d been gone exactly 30 minutes… on a morning so beautiful it could make a grown man cry, on a day when we’re upright and breathing, with eyes and ears to take it all in. Everything about this morning has felt right… make it so, world.

Beautiful inside too, and a memorable place to fulfill a sacred duty, right, and privilege.

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These are the good times… page 118

Day 215 – 10/13/2020

Another beautiful day and we’ll be working with Rita this afternoon, helping her get some more things squared away. High of 87º and sunshine tomorrow, and then Thursday dips back down into the low 60s. Fickle Fall is showing off.

I read a book over the weekend that’s staying with me even as I’m into another one. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson is mind-bendingly well-written and follows no rules except the author’s. She has a singular way of telling her story honestly but sparingly… so that we get it, if we’re listening, but she doesn’t have to completely let us in. I’m in awe of her gift.

And now I’m reading It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell, which echoes the theme of parental loss, but in its own niche and with its own flashes of brilliance – those “I wish I’d written that” moments – and its own ability to make me want to hang in until resolution is reached. It takes that level of talent now to keep me on the hook… I get distracted from my distractions.

We’ve had a nice soak, it’s Taco Tuesday, and adventure awaits so we’re getting on with it. There’s much to be said for a useful existence.

***This sat here all day yesterday while we were out, but it doesn’t look moldy, so I’m posting it.

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The mOnday Muse… page 117

Day 214 – 10/12/2020

Good morning, my Diary friend, did you make the most of your slack weekend? I slipped so far into neutral I couldn’t even feel the engine running and it wasn’t detrimental, as far as I can tell on one cup of coffee…

It’s a sunshiny Monday, with eventual temps in the low 70s, Kim’s in NoLaw slamming balls around, and I’m looking at stuff on my desk I could deal with and get rid of. Might do that…

A history note, Diary: Because the sound of their voices exceeds the limitations of my medications, I’m following the Amy Coney Barrett hearing this morning via Twitter and it’s totally meeting expectations so far. Claims of fairness are being bandied about, but there’s nothing fair about what’s happening in the Senate today. President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a 20-year veteran of the courts with a stellar record, was not afforded so much as a meet-and-greet by the GOP following the death of Antonin Scalia, with some 296 days remaining in the Obama administration. Now, with 21 days left in the Trump administration and over 9 million citizens already having voted for our next president, Mitch McConnell and his Senate will almost certainly confirm Ms. Barrett, whose name was put forward before The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s funeral had taken place. As is my duty as a United States citizen, I question her character and integrity for being a part of this and putting her name on such a tarnished process. She has three years’ experience as a judge and they’re vaulting her to the Supremes? Their motives have never been more transparent.

So then… mood for starting a new week?

“She’s kidding, right? She didn’t really mean that. Right?” If you’ve been giving me shit, I live for that flicker of doubt.

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Hello Friday already… page 116

Day 211 – 10/09/2020

Oh hey, Diary… you’re still here? You’re wondering about my day yesterday and how many tasks I checked off my list? Two-and-a-half, so get off my back, ‘k? The list is right here, meaning it isn’t over yet, jeez you are so annoying sometimes.

Today started out so mellow it’s hard to feel guilty about much of anything. Kim woke me up at 8:00 with the news that there was fresh coffee and a bagel waiting. Then he pedaled on down to PickleBall town and I’m still here, sitting in sunshine, sipping the good brew. Padding across the room just now for more coffee, the thought hit me full-blown – I like being me. It feels right. I couldn’t have truthfully said that until recent years, and I just haven’t recognized it that clearly until now – life is good, I’m happy, I feel like me and that’s a gift. Things happened very early in my life that pushed me into an adult world before I had any knowledge or skills for coping, and I spent decades catching up… trying to uncover the facts that other people seemed to understand instinctively about life.

It took the advent of Kim for me to latch onto who I am and not turn loose. When somebody smart, strong, and nurturing loves you as is, the doors and windows are flung open and life gets real. I’m glad I got to stick around for this part, I probably wouldn’t have totally believed anyone who told me it keeps getting better – I would have considered it a platitude.

But it does get better… life… in so many ways. The best gifts for me so far are time and quiet. My root anxiety keeps me living on the edge, so not feeling rushed… pushed… hurried… is the biggest luxury I can name beyond the gift of knowing I’m loved. And the sweet silence I get to immerse myself in here is the other half of the equation.

Progress Report: We sheltered on March 12th of this year and I’ve spent 99% of my time since then in basically these two big rooms. Kim’s been in and out a lot, wearing PPE from the beginning, but beyond barbershop haircuts, doctor visits, and time spent with Rita, I’ve mostly been right here. Kim brings food in, and we’ve eaten on a couple of outdoor patios, but not inside anywhere I can think of since March. And most places here still have limited indoor seating, if any. It’s all fine, no complaints here, my Diary friend – it is what it is. And maybe soon… we’ll know what it will be.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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The circle… page 115

Day 210 – 10/08/2020

Yesterday’s task with Rita was sorting a six-drawer dresser packed to the gills with old and newer family photos – not ours, but people we knew so not all mystery. This is my seventh household to help deconstruct, the previous six for family members, and the impact is always the same – when life ends, it’s over. Every tiniest object that meant something special… all the carefully laundered and folded favorites… the Post-Its, the bills that keep finding the mailbox, the personal rubble left behind in jacket pockets… nobody’s coming back to see to any of that. It’s over.

So if we’re very lucky, someone who knew us, loved us, cared what became of us, shows up to make things right and tie up the dangling participles.

We were halfway to the bottom of Drawer #4, talking about how good it was to hear from Susan the day before, when we both reached for the same photo… High School Homecoming Queen Susan! The basement chill zinged up to 11 and we celebrated a sweet Twilight Zone moment – just like that, the three of us were in the same room again. Life is weird and spooky and crazy and I like it a lot. It’s good to be reminded regularly that humans aren’t one-dimensional and neither is the world we live in. Susan moved away almost two years ago and we miss the socks off of her… yesterday’s serendipity was a gift.

And just like that, life goes on. In Susan’s sweet face I see our nieces and great-nieces and the little great-great-niece we “met” last week… and Reese and Wagner genes going back as far as we want to explore. Life goes on… the circle keeps turning.

I nabbed Rita’s senior pic out of the same drawer and since I’m the equal-opportunity do-it-my-way Big Sister, I have to put it here for posterity, doubly proving that DNA-by-association has always been on my side. My sisters are my best friends… always were, really… and age doesn’t change any of that, thank the universe. 💙

So Diary… am I good or what? It’s actually Throwback Thursday, a masterstroke of timing, which bodes well for wrapping up the week on a high note. I see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 little jobs I could get done this morning and hardly move from my desk – ask me tomorrow how that went down. I’m still in Coffee & Think mode at almost 10am, so we’ll see…

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Moving right along… page 114

Day 209 – 10/07/2020

Okay, Diary… the day I let depression and ennui keep me holed up in the cave instead of zipping over and taking it out on Rita is the day it’s time to wake up. I’ve been in a fog since about Friday… could be fibro-fog, could be a med change catching up with me, could be IMPOTUS and The Endless Flying Circus of 2020, could be all of the above. Whatever, I had Kim wake me up by 7:00 this morning to give me ample time to regain a modicum of functionality.

After a lifetime as a farmer’s daughter, farmer’s wife, and farmer, 8am is sleeping-in for me and if I go past that I might as well burrow in and stay for another 24 hours. Yesterday was simply a wash and I’m tired of feeling anesthetized and numb, so on this sunny Wednesday morning I’ve given myself a serious Come to Jesus talk and Self is starting to get with the program here…

I’ve changed out all my desktop and application graphics over coffee, always a kick in the right direction. Next I’ll have my little bowl of cottage cheese & sunflower seeds and reintroduce my bones to the shower. I choose to stand as a human today – I’m sure I still remember how.

After a few weeks of fall weather this afternoon’s high is supposed to be 90º… a temporary blip.

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Tuesday’s child is full of… page 113

Day 208 – 10/06/2020

Exciting day here… a specialty company is cleaning all the dryer vents in the building. They open to the outside and involve some lengthy ductwork but fortunately not too many turns, so not as bad as they could be. The techs found a 5″ piece of PVC in ours, along with the expected rubble – could be why I sometimes have to run a load twice before it dries. Alas, they’re finished in our place, so the thrill is already wearing off.

I’ll fix that this afternoon by hanging with Rita, whose plate is growing lighter by the day. Years of experiences during my lifetime and hers convince me that humans tend to give up too soon… just before we break through to the diamonds. We’ll never know what we missed, we just sense there was something we could have had but looked away. With things utterly surreal in the country this morning, knowing there are constructive, helpful things to stay engaged in is taking me a long way. (For posterity, Diary, IMPOTUS left Walter Reed Hospital last night under his own recognizance and returned to the White House shedding virus cells in the millions. His staff is dropping with it hour by hour, and the ones remaining are worried for their safety.)

Everything’s so off the rails at this point, imma hop a hot-air balloon and watch from a bit of a remove. It’s all gonna end up SOMEwhere, sometime… and we’ll live to tell about it or not. Fatalism is my BFF.

Okay, so lunch when Kim gets home… it’s Taco Tuesday! And then some afternoon therapy with Sistah-Woman. Slopin’ on down, into and through another week… it’s good that time never stands still.

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