For Krista

morning glorious

blue-sky easy-breeze

families farmers mowers runners riders pedalers

dogs kids coffee sprouts

players hangers-on sun-babies

he does so we can

precious spoons accrue

Fat Lady mute

JSmith 4/24/2016

 

{Thoughts while pondering The Meaning of Life on a Saturday, prompted by feelings about the artists who’ve helped us get through the night, know ourselves better, value our existence more, give ourselves tacit permission to be weird. Those friends of the heart are relentlessly leaving us, and not by choice. They got older along with us, and talent can’t necessarily buy extra time – so we have a sacred responsibility to own what they tried to show us, and keep the lights on. Life is a good thing.}

A gift to my niece because she asked. She is a true poet and I love her enough to put some words out, knowing it isn’t a contest. ❤

 

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It’s a recipe day…

This sounds terrific for lunch tomorrow – somebody please do the work and get back to me with reviews, thanks! Screenshot 2016-04-19 at 11.35.06 AM

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Cooking Notes at this link: NYTimes

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Jabberwocky

DISCLAIMER: Girl is in a rainy-day mood – what does that even mean?  Rain fills her with a happy melancholy that may or may not occasionally veer off into the blues, but it’s all good – and useful. Sometimes drippy sunless weeks make her dig through the laundry basket for her freak flag, and then things get fun. Hang with her if you want – she’ll be gentle – please keep your hands and feet inside the roll-cage at all times until the ride comes to a complete stop.

Roaming around her usual haunts this gray morning she’s laughing at all the prime new humor – the day-making kind because so.spot.on.

If it rains long enough, a bit of introspection sets in. After intense moments of spiritually-guided meditation over at least a five minute period today, all of her senses are telling her that she is salt in her community, with a well-honed bent toward rebellion. Cool. She has been seen and known.

Here’s a creative thing she does when she finds herself on the verge of punching bunnies in the face ’til they cry little bunny tears: She ponders the statistical probability that there are Others who are occasionally visited by weirdly unhinged storylines and who willingly entertain thoughts of same. This insight simultaneously encourages, appalls, and confuses her – and brings up a fun question: Who here is willing to admit that they, too, are Desktop OCD? If you write, how much power do your computer screen, your actual desktop, your direct surroundings add to that experience? Can you fully relax if not all of those things are in sync? Oh. Well, yeah, she can too (we assume), it’s just that she prefers it this other way.

Matchy

When all her little proggies play nicely together, the soothing yet stimulating colors and designs cause her brain to overflow with copious, astonishing story ideas, hahahaha, yeah, no. But she’s happy, god knows, and nobody gets hurt. Are you out there, Dear Reader, kindred spirit? Don’t leave our girl alone in the universe. Say you do this, too, or something equally obsessive. Please show your work.

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A throwback to other lifetimes…

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Once upon a time there lived a little farm girl with big dreams – and who knows where that comes from?

Her mother, grandmothers, a grandpa, her aunties, uncles, sisters and cousins were voracious readers so there was never a shortage of books at hand, all of which were free for the borrowing if you thought you were big enough. {Except for that one in the top of the closet – ZOWEE!}  So yeah, big dreams got planted – extra points and a high five for the sweet double entendre, thank you.

She thought she was smart – she was told as much in subtle ways by other smart people, by which we mean her sassiness was nurtured to an appalling degree, thanks, Fam.

Alas, however, a shocking number of pivotal, paramount, life-and-death aspects of life were still unexplored at a juncture when that information would have been so very helpful to our farm girl. Since she was lacking in skills acquired only through knowledge, we’re forced to conclude that she was not nearly as smart as she might have thought. Let’s just say mistakes were made. Or in the words of her farm grandma, “Too soon old…too late schmart.” Sorry, chicky.

The girl grew up, sort of, and did the thing she said she’d never do – she married a farmer. And then a lot happened: a son, a life, a love, beautiful times, ugly times, hard and dirty work, serious illnesses, deaths, near-deaths, caregiving, more deaths, colossal lifestyle adjustments…and she matured, which is not the same as growing up. Our girl continues to reject that as a viable option.

She tossed those beat up green Ropers out and hasn’t been behind the wheel of a tractor or combine for more than a dozen years – a lifetime ago; however, we’ve all heard the wisdom that says you can take the girl off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl. That’s truth right there, I don’t care who ya’ are. Here’s another one – you can’t take the dream out of the dreamer – and big dreamers win big.

 

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A day in the life…

The sun’s shining, the air’s warming, and my competent young orthopedic surgeon shook my hand twice this morning before officially kicking me out. Celebrating will happen later with Kimmers, and tomorrow I’ll start working on my own rehab follow-up at Rock Chalk Park while he’s playing PickleBall. A heinous winter has come to an end far less painfully than we’d envisioned on our way to the ER, and two of us lived through it. Thank you, universe, your encouragement was highly appreciated, but throwing Maddie’s trek across the Rainbow Bridge into the mix was a nasty twist and you owe us for that.

During one of our final therapy sessions, the assisting tech asked me about retirement – and moaned when I described it as feeling like we have all the time in the world. “Oh, I SO want to be retired!” She hasn’t made it past 25 yet, pretty sure, so I feel for her because time and health are the most valuable currencies in human existence and she has a long way to travel before time is truly her friend. However, I say that knowing she’d be bored, frustrated, and guilt-laden over retirement right now. Having “all the time in the world” also means we’re personally responsible for filling those hours with things that matter in some way – things that add to our usefulness in our immediate world and inspire us to get out of bed every morning. Kim has never had a problem with that – he’s Rise & Shine Guy all the way. The retired girl has worked her way up to that status, in body at least, and is now disappointed if she misses a sunrise. I might not be awake until 10am, but I’m up, dammit, and the world is mine.

Life has gradually taken on a sweet rhythm, the pace has settled into the doable, if not always the desired, and we’re uniquely suited to the lifestyle because continued accomplishment is fun and happens of its own volition, but we’re basically lazy AF and our consciences are easily assuaged by small victories.

Breakfast is an event at least four mornings a week – biggest meal of the day – and for the remaining three we bow to the reality of late-life weight gain and decreased mobility. Mostly speaking for myself – Kim is far more capable and disciplined, bless his manly self. I’m working on it – never doubt what you can do when life goes right every once in a while.

Kim does the things I can’t do anymore, and I do the rest – it’s a division of labor that’s worked for us for almost a dozen years now, and every new day confirms that the naysayers were not only mistaken, but misguided, bless their hearts. If you know something, don’t let anyone rain on your parade – you’ll be scooping up any horseshit that falls, not them, but better than that, you’ll be reaping all the benefits. Unless the rain gods are paying your bills, their opinions aren’t worth the breath it took to blow them all over you, so walk away.

We spend hours every day writing at our computers – I spellcheck him and he edits my stuff for awkward syntax. On weekends our spa soaks are full of conversations we wish we could recreate later, on a full range of topics including politics, religion, sex, marriage, friendship, theatre, all the biggies. We’re hilarious and wise, and anyone else would find us insufferable but they’ll never have that opportunity because it’s all done entirely naked; therefore, it’s snobbishly exclusive, sorry.

After trying out a lot of the restaurants here we eat at home 99% of the time – it’s easier to the budget, and there is no better place anywhere than Chez Kim – at least not within said budget. Best food in town, and kinder portion sizes.

Evenings from 5pm on are balcony time on nice days, and from 5 to 6 no phones are allowed. The more friends out there with us the better, though, so if you’re on that list and within driving distance, get here – open invitation! Text first in case we’re naked.

Bedtime comes when we can’t keep our eyes open any longer…and the next morning we start the game fresh again. Any anger or mini-grudge has a 24-hr. statute of limitations – say what’s on your mind and get the f*ck over it because life is ridiculously short and we started late, so there’s zero time to waste on selfishness.

Sorry so long this time, but our days end up full one way or another. I hope you’re taking notes because unless we step in front of a bus we all end up at this stage of life and it helps to know some stuff going in. You’re welcome.

 

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Update for the faithful…

Happy day – unless tomorrow morning’s x-rays reveal a problem, which is hard to imagine, I’ve graduated from PT! After being around the cool people at the rehab facility for the past couple of months, I’m going to miss them. I’ll also miss 10-minute heat and ice packs, shoulder massage, and people who know how to shame me into working harder. Self-discipline will be called for if I don’t want a flaccid rotator cuff for life – so embarrassing and inconvenient. On to bigger and better things, then!

Shoulder-rehab

 

 

 

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Honoring Throwback Thursday

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Casting a long shadow at five years old on a San Francisco street corner, little me in her plaid-lined high-waters and namesake tee, a gift from one of my sweet, hunky uncles. I still have that teeny-beany T-shirt tucked away in a box.

I vividly remember entertaining large-scale dreams early on as my wee pudding-brain started jelling – life as a farm girl was simplified down to its essence, but the world felt limitless and open to me, thanks to my mom and my grandmothers who dropped clues I couldn’t miss. The kernel of all those dreams somehow escaped with its life in spite of everything – adolescence didn’t kill it, marriage and family didn’t smother it, loss couldn’t force it to crawl into a hole and die – and now I get to live the remaining dreams on my own terms.  They no longer seem so big – being a published writer isn’t the point anymore, I simply have to write or expire. Having a summer place in Colorado and a winter spot in California sounds merely exhausting. Kim and I fully intended to own a sailboat, sooner rather than later, but we turned down a prime opportunity last year because…that ship has sailed. He’s Navy and a veteran SoCal sailor, but when you own a boat you never run out of work, which sounded heinous in the light of day. Besides, a nest-egg stretches only so far.

What I remember about this Cali trip with my parents, who’d schlepped me to half the states in the union by this time, is that my sister Susan, nine months old, wouldn’t have anything to do with us when we picked her up from Grandma & Grandpa’s house. Broke my widdle heart, but she got over it, after which I undoubtedly started distressing her again. Aw, I hope not.

Incredibly, this photo was taken almost 64 years ago, which gives it the feel of belonging to someone else, and yet my DNA knows it’s from my lifetime. The hope on that little girl’s face, mixed with just a whiff of healthy skepticism, makes me happy this morning. Hope is hard to kill – it will die a thousand deaths before it reluctantly leaves us, and it has the power to keep us putting one foot in front of the other until things get better. The worst heartbreak is to give up too soon – don’t do that, okay?

 

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P.S.  Turns out I’d know me anywhere. Compare my relatively-new face on the left to my relatively-not-brand-new one in my profile pic to the right – a revelation that provides yet another ray of hope today, and I’ll take it!

 

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(S)he had a face like a blessing … *

*Cervantes

Last month a friend added me to a Facebook group, an action that would ordinarily raise the hair on my neck except for who connected me and to which group. I like to be asked first, but if you actually know me you can probably slip that cheese past me without an implosion. Oh, but hoo-boy, the misguided adds I’ve quietly tiptoed out of!  What was it about my posts over the past eight years that revealed a secret affinity for Home Canning groups, Fundie Prayer-Chains, or a support page for Nursing Mothers? {Hypothetical examples to spare the guilty, who clearly did not know me.}

This new page, though, is serendipity – all about women and faces and selfies.  One of those things is not like the others. Women and faces = good. Selfies = I suck, both at taking them and accepting the results.  But happily, this is all ABOUT acceptance – for ourselves and other women. Without camouflage, before coffee, after a run, in sadness, elation, frustration (!!), other women’s faces are endlessly beautiful to me and seeing them every day is showing me more about genuine acceptance of my own features than anything I’ve encountered until now. If they can all be real, why would I think I couldn’t? When someone shares a shot that’s possibly less than bare-faced, I think “No, please, show us your genuine, natural, beautiful self, the one who can trust her sisters.” So maybe I could dare hope my sisters would think the same on seeing photos of me.

Over the past decade or so my body has been in the process of betraying me, but even at that we’re better friends than back when my pudding-stage brain thought I was such an irresistible speck of humanity. I’m getting pretty comfortable in this body with this face on it, but my selfies still shock me every time. “Hello, Me, this is what we really look like now from the outside, can you believe this shit?” I choose to blame it on Bad Inanimate Face because Resting Bitch Face sounds so ugly and judgy. Pretty sure two things are at work here to make me uncomfortable with my own shots:

  1. It’s MY face in the viewfinder.
  2. Selfies allow me to study my face in a way that invades my personal space and hurts my feelings.

But…sigh…the suggestion is that we each post a selfie every week for a year and write something positive about every photo we share, which I think is delightful advice, in theory.  I’ve managed one so far – right now I’m busy drawing from other women the inspiration to be as naked as they are. Faces, guys, naked faces. As you were.

And being real at every stage of life is all that matters.

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” – Abraham Lincoln

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Yasss! Weekend!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but weekends even in retirement have their own aura – the barely-discernible pace slows, and the party mood amplifies. There are nights when we stay up past midnight and have not two vodka tonics but three, possibly more – are there no fences anymore whatsoever?  Makes me a little wistful …

I’m currently without adult supervision as Kimmers is out walking, taking advantage of the cool, crisp morning air while he stretches his legs and thinks his own thoughts. I’m doing things, too, of course.  I made the bed and…I made the bed. Because weekends are different in that they contain no residual guilt over the perks of voluntary unemployment. I’m happy as a big sunflower, sitting here in my own company, bedhead extraordinaire, coffee on endless spigot, playing my music, IM-ing my insolently profane girlfriends, and eating goldfish.  It’s a high all its own that rarely gets better. I didn’t say never, I’m neither stupid nor a fossil.

A fun thing I like to do on weekends is rummage through old photos, either in boxes or my online files. Some could embarrass friends or family, but is that not what social media is all about?  I’m sayin’!  I love this one…my cousin Bruce and me in our grubby training pants…he’s ready for a nap and I’m pretty sure I just tried eating a bug, the other two choices, of course, being Milk Dud or turd.  See more about my cousin here:  So Healthy It Makes Me Sick

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Enjoy your weekend to the max, boys and girls!  And if you have to work … gah, sucks to be you.

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The Watchers

walls what

did you see

when the riders came up mass

did you hear

and want to warn

did your windows weep

your stones cry out

did survival root you

fill your clefts with balm

for scholar and bum

set you as watchers

over revelry and mayhem

over life

.

JSmith 4/1/16

 

lawrence-kansas

 

Mass Street in Lawrence, Kansas, is a world unto itself.  Some of its buildings were here before Quantrill’s Raid in 1863, and they’re works of art in my eyes.  They embody so much of the spirit of the place – strength, longevity, resilience, the quiet joy of being free to be. They’re lovely to look at in every season.

 

 

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Oh, April, you’re HERE!

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And remember … “The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.”
George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

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