Stumbling on… page 133

Day 229 – 10/30/2020

Welp, Diary, I spent yesterday crying. It was apparently my pre-election meltdown, and once the dam was open it was all over, I couldn’t stop – just too much of too much for too long. Cried ’til I was dehydrated like a prune and I hope that’ll be it for awhile – I realize now that it was a slow-rolling panic attack. The shock of 2016 still resonates and I’m afraid I’d jinx everything if I were to easily believe in the possibility of rescue and peace and the milk of human kindness again. If we ever do get back there, we have to safeguard it with our lives.

No crying today, we were busy all morning and the sun’s shining. I was around more people this morning than I’ve seen in seven months, all of them masked and super congenial, and it wore me out! I may need a refresher course for fitting back into society when this is all over. We’ll be occupied again tomorrow, so that’s one more day down, with three to finesse after that. Feels like a long ol’ way back home.

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Winding it down… page 132

Day 228 – 10/29/2020

It stayed gray out yesterday and more of the same is forecast for today, but the weather guy’s showing us some sunshine for Friday and beyond, which would work out just super. There’s even some pouring through the blinds right now.

I walked over and got a haircut at 8am yesterday and found Mass Street in a subdued mood. The three of us in the barbershop commiserated over the state of things in general, as ya’ do, and I walked home thanking providence again that we landed here in #lfk. Lawrence has its flaws and it can drive me nuts, but it’s home and that’s the best place to be in a perfect storm.

We went to Sigler’s for our flu shots, picked up lunch, and spent a little time with Rita, who may get to lay it all down in the next couple of weeks and “relapse.” One thing 2020 has taught us is that life is a marathon and if you can put one foot in front of the other, you’re still in the race.

From yesterday’s photo dive…

Sweet little Maddie-girl. Still miss her. 💗

Today’s calendar is blank, so my main order of business will be conserving enough *spoons* to last me through the weekend. Kim’s filling the spa tub, a great start, and I’ve written myself an Rx for Total Zen Living while the multi-crisis distills itself down and filters through the funnel.

Mountain by mountain, bird by bird…

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Maintaining… page 131

Day 226 – 10/27/2020

Over the past sixteen years or so I’ve shed a lot of baggage – like the gremlins that wake me in the middle of the night with recriminations over stupid things said or done. That rarely happens anymore and I was struck by this thought just now… “Don’t fret. Let it ALL go. You learned something every single time, right?” And other than the people I love there’s no loss I really fear, so humans have little they can hold as leverage against me. Speaking the truth can get me badly damaged or killed but nobody can cancel my spirit, so on we roll.

A line was crossed last night with Amy Coney Barrett. The GOP hasn’t just poked the bear, they’ve awakened a sleeping giant that they won’t know what to do with. Americans don’t take kindly to, nor easily forgive, fellow Americans who take our earnings, bury our freedoms, and slap us around like punching bags while encouraging us to die in ever greater numbers, and we’re out there by the tens of millions, standing in endless lines, saying exactly that.

Wherever this ends up, nothing in the U.S. will ever be the same again. The year 2020 is the capstone to the preceding four in showing us what we’ve become, and we can’t unsee any of it. People have laid bare their rabid prejudices, their stunted worldview, their willingness to tolerate any amount of ugliness in order to preserve their place in society, and all of that will be a challenge to deal with and put behind us. If the forces of autocracy win out, there’ll be no dealing, we’ll simply be looking for a hiding place.

My mood this morning is fairly toxic. Nothing appeals, nothing’s interesting or compelling, I’m a cipher. Just let it be over – the weight of not knowing is squeezing the stuffing out of me.

NOTES TO SELF:

I know this much is true…

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A Walk in the Woods…

Watching the snow fall, seeing how it gradually covers the flaws and imperfections in the landscape, and thinking: We’re on the cusp of change, either a new embrace of democratic government and individual freedoms, or a sharp swerve into fascism, with no real middle ground available for the foreseeable. This election will come down hard on one side or the other and Americans will deal.

Question: What happens then with what’s been lost? What about all the connections that remain but the relationship part has drained out? What about friends who were friends before we knew we were idealogical foes? Likely most of those ties won’t survive the intense reckoning, in part because there’s no easy way to pick up the thread and go on. Where do we start? What do we talk about? We’ve all shown our colors now and there’ll be no going back to the naiveté of simply not rocking the boat. Life’s too short to be that afraid and disingenuous, and look where it got us.

Will I be big enough, someday when the world feels a little safer and saner, to throw off the slings & arrows, not against me but people I love, toss all the other ugliness onto the funeral pyre with it, light a match, and walk away? Toward more solid relationships, not back into my cave? Right now it feels like no, not right away, maybe not ever if we’re plunged full-bore into an aberrant form of government.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. Will this election be fair and true, or has somebody laid the groundwork for sabotage again? PTSD from 2016 makes me overly cautious about even expressing hope. So far, I’ve managed to write myself through it, but that will no longer be a panacea if everything goes badly wrong.

This is all borrowed trouble from my active imagination, but it’s also a way to prepare myself for any eventuality. Considering the *what ifs* in any situation makes for a better Girl Scout.

I’ve watched a number of people walk out of my life over the past sixteen years… I’ve booted a few to the curb myself… I’ve put some on hold in 2020 until all this is over. Each time, it’s a stark reminder of how sharply divided we are in America, and it doesn’t happen without stirring up a deep sadness. Things will never be so incredibly ideal that we don’t need each other, and those relationships happened for reasons.

Since not everything is meant to last forever, I’ll be focusing on what does – it’s the rational thing to do. I’m hoping for a groundswell of healing energy from people who know that a hard heart will kill you and closed minds lead to blind alleys and dead ends. We can live without a lot of things, but hope isn’t one of them.

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First snowfall… page 130

Day 225 – 10/26/2020

We woke up to a white coating on everything but streets and sidewalks, with light snow still falling… we’ve since watched big flakes come down in earnest a couple of times… and radar shows more on the way. Nothing’s been cold enough long enough for it to stick on, but it’s pretty for now and I love a snow-day. It’ll be even quieter all up in here than usual.

Seeing the vari-colored trees decorated with snow calls for this…

I hope I’ll remember.

Only 8 days/years now…

Me hanging on, hoping for a good landing.

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Going, going, gone… page 129

Day 224 – 10/25/2020

Wow, mood all over the place this morning, my Diary muse. October is almost over and we’re down to single digits – 9 days until what we’re still calling Election Day even though at least 56 million people have already voted as of three days ago and the lines stay long most everywhere. Including today we have over 200 hours to fill before the polls close on the 3rd. I’ll probably start with moving to my other chair and watching whatever sports happen to be on. And more coffee.

The cook went for a walk early and then still wasn’t hungry by 10am so he tried to talk me into hot cereal. On a Sunday morning. No and no, he wasn’t passin’ that cheese by me unless it was in an omelet. I’m spoiled – why get over myself now? I neeeeed that ranch omelet or Sunday isn’t Sunday, and I mean, what else ya’ got? Forecast says hard freeze tonight and possible snow tomorrow, wha… ? Tues thru Thurs isn’t looking too inviting either, but the weekend bodes well if Mother Kansas doesn’t get all moody on us. I totally feel her and she’s entitled. Long hours to wait for the answer to the question: Is there any price under the sun that’s too high a cost for the pleasure of owning the libs?

Came across this pic from gentler, more tranquil, days… maybe five years ago, all things considered. When our world comes ’round right, these sweet times can return and we’ll gather in the courtyard at Cielito with friends again, laugh, enjoy great food, and toss back tequila shots. When I see Americans in long voting lines in every town and city every single day I begin to think that the world we knew is still out there… only better, once the chaos ends. It has to end.

Let’s get back here…
Also this, I think…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Frozen… page 128

Day 223 – 10/24/2020

Morning, Diary… it’s 6am and apparently time to be awake. Kim was up, I rolled over and saw the glow of the kitchen lights, and that was it. I’m looking out at the hushed cold darkness and wondering if our preservation efforts on behalf of the mums did any good. Oh well, ya’ try.

Can’t imagine why my brain wants MORE hours in the day for overthinking now, while we’re all still limping toward Jerusalem. But I do know why writing saves me…

I can sit here and get it all down, and then put a lot of it out for public consumption, but only by those who choose to wade through it. I’m not at all sure how well I would have done with the long isolation if I couldn’t vent to myself in some cohesive way, and the resulting feedback helps a lot.

Today’s forecast is Not Horrible… and there’s breakfast. Two outta three so far, I’m in.

Also, here’s where this whole mankind experiment went off the rails…

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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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