Thoughts of home & family…

Hello, babies, and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day and the weekend will surpass what you’d hoped for and the good memories will stay with you through the winter months and whatever lies beyond.

America and all the world rely on tradition to tell us what to do, how to order the months of the year, how to plan our celebrations. It’s been described as peer pressure from dead people, but it holds heavy sway over most of us and proves hard to break with when we try.

This Thanksgiving is unique in our downsized family. Before our mom’s eight siblings and their offspring scattered to the winds, holidays were oversized productions at our grandparents’ house, any work involved taken for granted by kids under twelve, the mountains of food appearing by magic, clean-up accomplished by swanky uncles with shirt-sleeves rolled, children strictly banned from the kitchen.

Those storybook times are long past, but most years since, my two sisters and I and parts of our families have managed to be together, sharing the love and good cooking. This time, for whatever reasons, a perfect storm conspired to keep that from happening, so we deal.

Middle sister and bro-in-love have retired to beautiful but relatively remote environs and their daughters and families are prevented by various circumstances from being with them, nor will they be with each other.

Baby sis has fallen in love, has recently retired, is spending the weekend with her new people, and happiness abounds. We get to connect with her kitten, Big Jade, twice a day while Mama’s away. Baby sis’s kids and grands are on the Left Coast, thus not physically huggable on this holiday either.

Pa and I are here, dead center USA, least traditional of the siblings, he of original hippiedom, I a rebel from jump. One of our guy kids is deep in the heart of Texas, the other two keep Georgia on our mind. The Oncology RN is working, as is so often the case, on behalf of coworkers with families. His other half, one of the youngest in his big family, is trying mightily to be their rock through a stretch of rough road, and it’s likely nobody will even get around to dinner this year.

And how are the non-traditionalists faring? So far so lovely. We made sure the Jadester was safe and warm, first order of business. Loved her up good, then came home and Kim made Belgian waffles in his snazzy hotel-style waffle maker – so right with fruit, syrups, bacon, sausage, lots of excellent coffee. It’s been raining lightly all morning and the fireplace feels wonderful. Right here is where we need to be while I baby my back some more. We could be kind of iffy conversationalists right now anyway, like after the toasts, yikes, wouldn’t be prudent.

And now the day stretches before us, quiet and full of possibility. Kim’s on the other side of the wall playing guitar, I’m here with my coffee, we never lack for books to read or movies to watch. If angst should overcome me, I can always sit back down here, open a vein, and bleed on the keyboard. We might watch parts of the National Dog Show in a bit – it’s becoming a sort of campy tradition with us. Anyway, we’re not allowed to get bored, that would be a crime.

I don’t miss turkey – we could have shoved one into the oven if we’d wanted to. I do miss all the cooking aromas and the happy activity. What I miss for real, though, the only thing that will matter to me, ever again, is my family. I really, this year, miss those hugs, both given and received, those familiar voices, those beloved laughs that are like no one else’s. There’s only one wish in my bucket right now – that at some point in the foreseeable future we could ALL – we three sisters, our amazing men, our kids, their partners, and their kids could be together in one place. And if our brother’s kids and their kids could be with us too – that’s my idea of heaven, which we can choose to make at least a little of right here, right now. Henry-boy, you’re on that list too, kiddo.

That’s where we get our traditions – from the things that mean the most – and now we’ve come full circle, for the non-traditionalists among us.

The sweetest of thankful days to us all. Amen.


Wait! Breathe…


One by one

dig the clods

from your throat

and recall what breathing felt like


Leave the answers

to people who have them

what you don’t know

hurts less than what stands in for real


Tell yourself you

don’t care that might makes right

that right doesn’t matter

that upside down is how we do things now


You don’t care

it doesn’t matter make a note

it’s what saves you until they turn the lights back on

and the night-critters scatter until next hoedown


Not to care

makes the days fruitless

and the nights frightening

but no other armor has been provided to the rank and file


So wait here in limbo stasis

until the rules change for better

to something your heart will see when right counts again

you know it always did no matter what the storytellers say 


JSmith 11/22/2019












Ok, boomer, what now?

The old adages made their fame by hitting the mark time after time, and they’re maddening because so true. What I’m kicking against this morning is that the more I want something the more it escapes my reach.

What I want is robust health, but it’s clearly too much to ask, as every time I think I’m almost there, something stupid happens, and not always my fault. Is it Karma? And when do I wear out the bad stuff?

Yes I’m blue, and yes this is therapy. This year has been a physical struggle since March when the screaming gut meemies hit and put me flat on my back for two weeks. Things never got right with my system, so my primary care doctor sent me to a phalanx of specialists who determined that there’s nothing seriously wrong with me except high BP, a wrecked spine, and dysthymic disorder, which is described thusly: a smoldering mood disturbance characterized by long duration as well as transient periods of normal mood. {How fun is THAT?!}

It’s simply under there, and some days, like yesterday, I feel all day like I need to cry, but don’t, and never really know what it’s about. It’s frustrating, a little debilitating, and a lot annoying, partly because it takes effort to tamp it down enough not to blow Kim’s day out of the water, and therefore exhausting. I went to bed early last night and left him up watching the 49ers, just so I could lay it all down. Also, my back hurt like a mofo, which is a whole other story.

Long story shortened, because SO MANY WORDS, my wonderful primary care put me on a new BP med that works so well (and she did seriously caution me about this) I passed out for a split-second one of the first nights I was on it, went down hard on our polished-concrete floor, and put myself back a few squares on the Health Chart. Out of an overabundance of optimism, we didn’t inform anyone, but after 3 weeks of spasms and enforced rest because I had no choice, we gave in and saw my pain specialist yesterday for a sacro injection, which is starting to take effect, and I’m supposed to get an x-Ray today if I can.

I’m sitting here looking for the words to say how much this is working on me. I’m trying hard, I’m doing it right, I’m keeping a BP log for one doctor, a different diary for another, watching my caffeine intake, monitoring my sodium, taking my meds religiously, trying to include enough protein in my diet despite being turned off by most meat products, limiting alcohol, letting Tylenol suffice as pain med, plus Cymbalta that doubles as a hit to the low-grade blues. And then this goofy body turns on me again.

Why do I tell you this stuff, greater world? Why do I bare my rotten soul to you with such abandon? Because we’re humans together on this big blue marble, and if dumb things happen to me they happen to other people, too, and those people need to know they’re not alone.

All my life I’ve had bizarre accidents that played hell with my structure and maybe my DNA, who knows? But it messes with my psyche if I’m going to become a fall risk in my own home, with Big Kim right there and can’t keep it from happening. I’m a boomer, an Ok boomer, and I like it fine. I just don’t want to be Officially Old. Not yet.

I looked after six older people for quite a few years, did lots of different things for them, from the mundane to the intimate. I know that look of panic, that total vulnerability, and I’m not ready for that, I’m not there, don’t want to be there, and the helplessness of finding yourself on the floor and wondering if it’s going to mean an ambulance ride is awful.

I’m a give-it-to-me-straight girl. Just tell me and I’ll deal. But I do fully acknowledge that I don’t want an X-ray that says I have a hairline fracture in my back – let’s not play that, ‘k? Let’s get this show back on the road to health. Today. Damn. It.



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