Celebrate the equinox!

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Stream of consciousness…

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Being retired and to a degree physically limited means I end up with a lot of quiet hours when my brain free-wheels. For instance, today I’m deeply conscious of the fact that Facebook has given us a string of expressive emojis, but as with all things social – and human – we need more. A few helpful suggestions: an icon that means “I agree with your comment but not the meme/link/article attached”; a general WTF choice; one that says “Jeez, I’m sick of this shit”; one for “If I see this post again in my feed I’ll do bodily harm to whomever is in my path”; like that. It would be easy-peasy for the coding gurus and it seems so little to ask in return for our unwavering fealty to their product, amirite?

* Summer truly kicks into gear shortly before it’s over, spring and fall in Kansas are mere blips on the seasonal chart, and winter lasts for freaking ever. And if that seems like a fair deal to you, you’re probably voting for someone I wouldn’t hire to manage a Christmas kiosk.

* Much like summer, life takes its own sweet time getting underway, and some of the most vital lessons aren’t mastered until we’re past middle age and don’t need them as urgently. That strikes me as sad, but I can’t call it unjust – maybe some humans just figure out how to pay attention better and sooner and it’s my bad for being such a happy-go-lucky farm girl and believing most of what I was told, far past when I should have figured it out.

* I thought it would take a lot longer to get old, and the day I own it is theoretically far into the future, but here I am, watching where I place my feet, being aware of my environment at all times, simply because there’s nothing like a broken bone for holding up progress. Not sure how many falls I have left in me before I’m under house arrest, so caution beats impulse now, deflating as that is.

* The trouble with submitting to what hurts – bodily, mentally, emotionally – and sitting down to wait for the pain to end is that the day never comes when it doesn’t make you wince, and it gets worse not better, so whatever it takes you have to do, think, feel that thing until you can work it out the ends of your toes before it morphs into a permanent personality and/or lifestyle change. It takes work.

* The sum total of today’s musings is that if I couldn’t read books and write words I would be verbally frustrated, a big weather baby, a past-dweller who could never move on, and a chronic aging whiner who gave up and let all the chips fall. Writing as therapy isn’t free, but it’s amazingly no-cost in its effectiveness since the toll it does extract is added back to our personal pile at the end, when the results speak for themselves and we’ve managed to acknowledge our own hearts and find some truth. Takes a LOT of work.

* Here’s how much work: I started musing on Monday and we’ve landed smack on HumpDay already! There’s much to be said in favor of having something to show for your work, and this isn’t it, bwahahahahaha!!

* Oh, but look! This morning when we click Farcebroke’s LOVE icon we get a sweet surprise. Think of the possibilities …

Have a happy, whimsical, lighthearted day if life permits…and if your heart is breaking I send you hug vibes and empathy.  ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainy days and haiku…

 

subscribing to the

Big Dick School of Politics

leaves you needing more

JSmith 9/16/2016

 

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Everyday advice…

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life is brief, don’t let 

a self-regarding turdball

bring heartache to you

JSmith ~ 9/5/2016

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The calm before the earthquake…

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Another beautiful Saturday morning in the neighborhood – Farmers Market is busy, #lfk is opening her arms to us as always, the sun’s shining, 67º and easy. Friends who are family have included us in their 3-Day Labor Day Blow-Out, so the day promises lazy fun around the pool and great food including BANANA PUDDING!!

The Official Saturday Breakfast that hasn’t diminished an iota in more than twelve years of Saturdays – always the best-tasting, most satisfying meal of the week – has been humbly savored. And now Kimmers is in his Happy Place, the one with the stove, putting together a big pot of beans & hotlinks for the Framily. The sun is in its heaven and all’s right with the world – we’d make every day look pretty much like this if it were in our power.

Turns out, and experience teaches us this, there’s bloody little we control, and there are watershed events as we roll through life that abruptly stop the momentum and make us take an accounting. Therefore, second, third, eleventh chances cannot be overrated, and spending vital chunks of the past week with my cherished baby sister has driven that point home as nothing else has in years. It’s never a bad idea to stop and take a look under our public face, down to the one we wear for our own use, and past that to the Real Us. A fresh face-off (see what I did there?) with mortality is an exquisite motivator to change what needs changing, fix what needs fixing, just DO it, now instead of someday.

To close out The Week That Was, we had an earthquake mere seconds after Kim took the sunrise picture. It was apparently 5.6 at its epicenter, 3.2 here, 235 miles northeast. Rattled things pretty energetically up here on the 4th floor…but after the earthshaking week behind us it was only an entertaining blip.

I hope your Labor Day celebrations will be earthshaking in all the best ways.

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The Weekend that Was

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Monday morning is here again and it’s one I’m happy to greet with a smile – it was quite a weekend. Let’s just say for now that I’ve gone at life this morning with new-found intention and it’s already paying dividends. So far, and it isn’t even noon yet, I’ve eaten a bagel brought to me by Kim, who zipped to Einstein’s and back on his bicycle – you’re finished, pneumonia! I’ve been to my (physical) therapist for an hour of stretching that made me ravenous and sleepy. Did I nap? Oh, no, there’s life to be re-jumpstarted!

The bed looks almost unslept-in, so I can slide by on that for now. There’s a big load of towels in the washing machine having their second hot bath in three days because I spaced them off sometime around…Saturday, maybe, and left them gathering moss in the machine. The bills are in a neat pile for payment and sitting where I can’t miss them – they’ll wait right here until I get sick of looking at them and do what’s called for.

And now through no fault of my own it’s after 1pm and I’ve consumed a Five Guys baby cheeseburger and fries because it’s what Kim wanted for lunch, yay! When you’ve been as scary ill as he’s been you get to choose for the foreseeable future, and I’m not one to stand in the way of desire.

Also, my current project, for the first time in weeks, is open on my desktop and spread across the top of the chest next to me and on the bed. I’m ready to read it all again, edit where I must, and move on. That feels good.

The weekend left me smiling because for the most part it was so unbelievably sweet. And even the bitter portion of it holds a sweetness that’s almost too precious to talk about.

Kim and I try for an adventure a day, sometimes as simple as sitting on the balcony just out of the rain and watching the light show. Last Friday he broke out the hot-rod and we drove to a small town nearby. Our mission, which was to sell a few antique pieces so we can quit paying to store them, hit a slight delay so we drove on down the street in search of a late lunch, and lo, there was Luigi’s, looking quaint and enticing. Mid-afternoon, ours was one of three occupied tables, and it was wonderful. Clean-smelling wood everywhere, tranquil, all sounds wrapped in cotton. We were seated in a window nook and presented with our choice of delicious Italian fare, accompanied by a generous pour of the house Pinot Noir, and the best bread & oil we’ve experienced anywhere. Wow, well-kept secret, Luigi’s, and we so needed that cozy pause in the space/time continuum.

Saturday’s date was a walk through the cut to Ladybird Diner for a malted vanilla phosphate and a piece of lemon blueberry crumb cake while we soaked up our daily quota of Vitamin D at a sidewalk table. The rest of the day consisted of various sportsing, all involving balls and keeping score, as they do.

Sunday morning brought sad news, which is where the bitter joins the mix. Something tragic took place and someone died, someone we knew, and it’s heartbreaking. The sweetness, the heart-lurching precious part is that my sister and her big amazing cat Jade both woke up to a new day, sunshine, and ongoing life – because circumstances, people, the rotation of the earth conspired to move them out of harm’s way. It was the kind of close call that makes you and your big sister sit up and pay close attention. We talked all afternoon on the balcony, shared a bottle of wine, laughed, cried, and got the healing process underway. There’s always so much to be grateful for. Always.

And life is good, don’t ever think otherwise.

 

 

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August wanes…

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the summer doldrums

full of silence and ennui

my bestie is borked

JSmith 8/23/2016

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Headed back…

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The writing of the words and the telling of the stories has taken a back seat for the past few weeks to Kim’s duel with pneumonia. At this point he’s discouraged over his lack of bounce, his ongoing weight loss, and the fact that he’s weak-kneed and not very interested in the world around him, but progress is finally underway despite all outward evidence to the contrary.

Meanwhile, back at the computer, Mama’s muse seems to have gone on hiatus and is hopefully enjoying a white-sand beach where the water is clear and warm – it could only benefit us all.

And now it’s Monday, the accepted time for new beginnings, new resolve, new dedication to the task at hand, which is to write the words every day, dive back into the projects large and small, stay tuned to what’s inside and less aware of the extraneous. It’s painful not to write, so I can never stray far.

Pretty sure I’ll eat these words, but a small part of me is ready for fall and winter with their coziness and quiet – it’s all wonderfully conducive to writing, reading, thinking, planning, and sleeping – but none of it will wait that long, so wish me well ignoring the distractions. It’s still summer for a while yet…where’s my white-sand beach?

 

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Missing my bestie…

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My 24/7 buddy, who doesn’t have headaches or backaches or insomnia, and is seldom waylaid by a bug, has been down for two weeks with all of the above plus a cough that won’t give up. Stepped-up inhaler hits and a steroid are improving his color and infusing a skosh of energy, but he isn’t much fun right now, go figure.

And it’s all about moi, of course, you knew that, right? So bless the Rio Olympics!! Two gray days running – making it feel like an early fall here  – and we’re snuggled in with the TV coverage, reading, writing, snacking, talking – whenever The KIMN8R isn’t napping. After two lifetimes of experience with it, we got married to spend all our time together, so it’s good that options exist for making sure that happens. The Big Guy scares me just a little when he turns into a skinny ghost, but his wicked humor is peeking through again and I’m detecting a hint of Guido Mode in his voice. Gonna live – that’s good enough for an overcast Monday in August.

Enjoy yours, boys & girls. ❤️

 

 

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So just be real…

I read a story today, shared by a friend whose granddaughter dictated it to her daddy, and was struck by how on the mark this small girl is. You’ll see what I mean:

“We flew on an airplane to Albuquerque to see Ian and Jordan and Ashton and Uncle Doug and Aunt Jill. Will got diarrhea. 

Then we flew to Chicago to see Aunt Beth and Grandma and Uncle Billy and Josiah and his sister and the dad of the baby and those two with a jacket and glasses. Then we flew home. Grandma threw up.”

 

 

Her story illustrates important tenets of writing:

  1. Tell it like it is. If people want us to write kindly about them, they must learn to be behave well.
  2.  Engage your readers by telling them things they would not otherwise learn.
  3.  Illustrate with plenty of pink.

So simple, really, and once again a little child leads us.

 

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The short hot summer…

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August is here now

bringing bolder sun and surf

September can wait

JSmith 08/01/2016

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Whimsy…who doesn’t need some?

A psych-out when I start feeling weighed down by nonsense is to “brighten the corner where I are.” It’s the equivalent of Spring Cleaning without the lifting, bending, and sundry other exercise I like to refer to as work. My desk and I are good friends, so of course I ignore it and treat it like crap most of the time, but there always comes a day when the windows have to be flung open and the detritus swept away. Today is that day – AGAIN – in my world, and lucky you, I love to (over)share.

We start with our big honkin’ desktop because EYEBALL FEAST EVERY TIME WE SIT DOWN HERE. You can immediately see what a crucial first step this is, besides which everything from this point hinges on it. (Gah, I always hope my readers are note takers.) Nobody else’s desktop will suffice – it must speak to me, personally, in some way, and most tell me “You are freakin’ nuts, lady” which is when I know I’ve found THE ONE.

Today’s springboard, our dominant image:

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That’s merely the start, although admittedly an auspicious one. Now that we have an arresting vista in front of us at all times, we must upload that same image as our Facebook cover picture. Done. And, since we use a sweet add-on called Facebook Purity, we get to upload a background image for all of Facebook. Furthermore, since the name of today’s game is *cheer,* we’re using this one:

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Is that not an enjoyable little kick in the shorts over and over? When you spend a lot of time somewhere it’s powerful to make it yours.

Next up is our Facebook blog page, which obviously has to coordinate with the overall theme we’re developing here, and this will do quite nicely as our cover photo:

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All of our Facebook pages share a background, which is working out swimmingly, as you can see. We are ON A ROLL, boys and girls. Add this same image as the header for our blog page, tweak the background, and violas!! Moving on…

What shall we do next? We have choices:

  1. Two Gmail accounts whose non-coordinating backgrounds are piteously crying “Pick me, pick me!”
  2. The big loud Twitter header, or is that just my monitor? But yeah, there’s that.
  3. And we have to go get a new Chrome Theme.

Oh, haha, I forgot, this is my page, I choose! We’re doing the Twitter header next and there’s an outstanding reason for that – IT’S GONNA BE IMAGE #1 UP THERE AGAIN! See how simple this is? See a pattern here? Give a shit?

So now we’ll tackle the whiny Gmail accounts. Okay, pay attention because this is where this stuff gets tricky.

WE’RE GOING TO USE TWO OF THE SAME BACKGROUNDS WE’VE ALREADY UPLOADED. If I didn’t crack myself up I’d have no fun whatsoever. And I did try to warn you up top via words like whimsy and psych – which is like a twin or something to psycho, right?

And here’s where you get in on the fun – you get to decide which two of the three backgrounds above you want to use for your mail! You know, when you redesign it all according to what speaks to you.

Okay, all we have to do is find a new Chrome Theme and we’re set – there are a million of ’em and it’s fun. This one’s perfect and I’m happy. Cheery, even. For all the reasons.

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Hope you are, too.

 

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ZEN beats PPT

 

Interesting phenomenon in progress: just as too much of social media is disintegrating into a sticky morass of politics, racism, and religious conflict and I’m wondering who the hell I’ll hang with after the mud dries and the dust settles, a door opens – one of the best kinds, totally unexpected and unanticipated. Said door is an invitation to blog for a site whose aim is to provide new platforms for current voices. Their bonafides having checked out, I’m in.

That’s three weeks ago, and my sticky news feed is increasingly being populated by writing sites, blogging sites, photography sites, publishing sites, helpful friendly contact with writers of every stripe (not the porn dudes, they can’t find the trail), and it’s the best attitude adjustment I’ve happened across in months. Nobody’s been purged, blocked, unfriended, unfollowed, or hidden (recently), I’m just so busy talking with friendlies in the world of words, the spunk is quite organically melting right off my page, who knew?

Venturing further into the writing community is proving timely on a purely personal level as well – in a week when nothing at all seems to be going smoothly (an aberration for us), when there are more questions than answers, when our pitiful attempts to garner information come smack back in our faces RETURN TO SENDER every time, and both of us are entertaining morose thoughts of a worm & gopher-guts diet…whew…new friends to save the day (for me). Not that all my old friends aren’t doing a bang-up job, promise.

So yeah, we’re just over here speaking of books and blogs and …

“… shoes- and ships-
And sealing wax-
Of cabbages and kings-
And why the sae is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings.”

“Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.”*

…and just like that, my prickly, peevish, testy news feed is Zen AF and feels all homey and shit. Guess who took it full PPT on everybody in the first place? Should I write that down somewhere?

 

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*Jabberwocky, Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

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Kicking over the traces…

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Do you ever want out of your skin? You know, because you’re worn out from thinking all the thoughts that pile up in your brain like kindling, splinters poking and needling. Because the stuff held in by your skin hurts all day every day. Because someone you love is stressed and unhappy and you can’t fix it. Because the world isn’t kind and the slings & arrows extract their pound of flesh and energy every freaking day and you’re tired of the ugly. Because all the relentless hurt hurts so relentlessly. And you finally drop your guard and share some of the pain to make it feel less potent and you’re hit with the ice-bucket challenge – dispiriting to the max. Meanwhile, your heart flutters like a bird in your chest and you fully grasp why people drink and do drugs.

Yeah, me too, bubbie, getting out of this skin is Job 1 today; however, that’s apparently not happening, which leaves humor for toughing it out. What’s your antivenin of choice – deadpan, dark, ironic, satirical, blue, highbrow, slapstick, something else… what helps you get through the night? It would be a kindness to come share some of it with us – we’re dyin’ heah. Life is so simple most of the time that when it turns crunchy it’s really noticeable. The world is full of crazy-ass people who make me want to cry, mean-ass people who do make me cry, willfully-ignorant people who make me want to leave the planet – I don’t feel like seeing ANY of it today, boo-hoo.

So come share what makes you laugh. Robin Williams knows how to make the hurt better by sharing it, so he’s my go-to guy.

 

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The Unbearable Lightness of Reading…

 

A marathon it’s been, the best kind – three books in quick succession, by three distinct authors, and connected by one unbroken muscular thread – The People, as they have always called themselves – and their existence from time primeval.

First in the “series,” entirely by happy chance, was MAUD’S LINE, written by Margaret Verble and published in 2015, the fictionalized story of a young Cherokee girl becoming a woman in 20th Century Oklahoma. Its contemporary portrayal of a time just past hooked itself into my imagination from – halleluiah, page one – and delivered me directly to book two.

Which – I assume you’re taking notes – was LAKOTA WOMAN, by Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes, published in 1990, and not fictionalized at all. The author was active and instrumental in the Bureau of Land Management and American Indian Movements of the 1970s and 80s with Russell Means, Dennis Banks, so many others, and her gritty recounting of all the seemingly unrightable wrongs that have altered The People’s reality since the White Guys got here burned itself into my consciousness, not to put too fine a point on it.

So when both a friend and an esteemed nephew recommended Annie Proulx’s BARKSKINS within hours of each other it was clear that lil’ Ms. Serendipity had dropped in again and placed a shiny object in my path. Off the top, let me quickly address a few negative comments I’ve seen: that perhaps Ms. Proulx’s focus is…unevenly focused…that she hammers, that she commits “stylistic infelicities.” Yes, I caught all of that, recognized it, owned it and read on. The scope of the story is so expansive, so unexpectedly gripping, that the combined weight of all the odd little imperfections adds up to less than that of a feather – notable by virtue of existence, but in the end taking nothing from the whole.

Annie Proulx, author of THE SHIPPING NEWS, for which she won a Pulitzer in 1994; BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, for which she won the prize called “We’re turning your book into a movie;” along with at least a baker’s dozen more titles, has at 80 years of age turned out an epic about trees, of all things, that kept me absorbed from first page to last. Aside from her colossally amazing book, I love that she’s even older than I am, has been described as “sassy,” and knows how to write like a mutha.

Annie takes us from 1693, starting with the French in what became Canada, to 2013 in what is still Canada – with side trips to London, New Zealand, what we now know as the continental United States, and points everywhere around the globe, the entire saga stemming from one family line and diverging throughout multiple others, from the French, to The People, to the Dutch, et.al. And the wonder is that she makes us care about the majority of those characters, even though we sense they are soon to be swept from the stage to make room for succeeding generations, each one more fascinating than the last.

I like big books and I cannot lie, and at more than 700 pages BARKSKINS was too short. Annie Proulx knows how to put us at the scene of the tale with a lovely economy of language; how to scatter engaging and/or redeeming characters into all parts of the story, avoiding what could have become a tedious litany; how to illuminate dilemmas that we would downplay if left on our own. If that shedding of light is “hammering,” we’re clearly in need of a butt-load more of it – the denuding of nearly all this planet’s original forests is but one ongoing dilemma of many.

BARKSKINS indelibly lays out the sins of the past and their consequences for all humanity while also serving up reasons for hope, that essential tool of survival. Hang onto it, you future humans, and may it save your hide since most of your forebears have never carried, nor do they (we) carry, their (our) fair share of responsibility for what your present might look like.

As William T. Vollmann wrote in his New York Times book review:

“Now our own world is likewise fading, thanks to climate change. The root cause of our self-impoverishment is thoughtfully teased out in BARKSKINS, whose best line may well be this: ‘My life has ever been dedicated to the removal of the forest for the good of men.'”  – June 17, 2016

 

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