Black Friday… page 150

Day 257 – 11/27/2020

Can’t remember why it’s called Black Friday but I’ve never done one and this year would be an incredibly stupid time to start. Kim said Mass Street was quiet this morning so the stores didn’t open early for sales – maybe #lfk isn’t going to the dance this time around.

I’m seeing lots of Twitter comments about crying jags and teary breakdowns on The Day After. I have a feeling we stayed home and did it right, all brave and stiff-upper-lipped, and today the knowledge of everything we’ve lost is proving too heavy. Will there ever be a road back to what we knew and believed to be real?

This day feels ponderous to carry so I’ll have to break it up into livable chunks – sixteen unbroken hours of staying awake for it is unmanageable. Tried not to write about it, but I can’t go all day without breathing. Tried not to talk about it to Kim but he’s the only one here. Looking for a diversion in the bottom of the toy box that will take me outside myself and into the sunlight. Feels like it will be a long winter, with days and days of isolation and uncertainty, so I gotta figure it out, I can’t whine my way through another year of this. And by the time a vaccine gets final approval, a distribution system is in place, and we’ve all received our two shots with a month between, it will most likely take that long. Then we’ll have to keep wearing masks and social distancing until we achieve community transmission reduction. Long haul ahead, Mama, pull up your big-girl undies.

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Getting thankful… page 149

Day 255 – 11/25/2020

Kim went over to the barbershop at 7:00 this morning for a haircut and brought me a bagel from Einstein’s, always a happy surprise. Everything bagel with veggie cream cheese. Pretty heavenly. Cold gray day but sunnier in here for whatever reasons. Gonna try to keep it that way. This week’s reminder to give thanks is right on time.

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How’s the weather?… page 148

Day 254 – 11/24/2020

Kim’s photo of yesterday’s sunrise gives me all the feels – it’s clouded over again this morning but without the drama. All things considered, I’m not ready for winter this year, the early dark, the wind, the cold permeating the building – the weather becomes my jailer. One attitude adjustment on backorder – they’re temporarily out of stock.

Totally blah this morning. Everything on the inside feels the way it looks outside – dull and gray. Things are moving forward on the political front, but we still have two months of limbo to get through while the country and its people continue our slide down the garbage chute. Two more months for those supposedly in charge to ignore the massive loss of life every single day. It’s hard knowledge to reconcile.

The sun’s always out there, though. Kim’s photo of Watkins Museum yesterday morning…

And a random street…

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Moody Blues… page 147

Day 253 – 11/23/2020

Everything from the sublime to the ridiculous makes me cry now. For months into the pandemic I couldn’t keep my head corralled long enough to read a book, and since I got back to it every one I’ve picked up has made me shed good tears, from Alice McDermott’s After This, to Barlow Adams’ Appalachian Alchemy, to the book I finished today The World Without You by Joshua Henkin, which had me sobbing more than once. Even when I have trouble sticking with them, I can’t imagine a world without all the books we want to read – they’re the best thing for taking us from here to there, and I have a big need for that.

It feels all wrong for this to be Thanksgiving week when it should still be summer. Since we’ve never made a big deal of holidays beyond our first Christmas together, the solitude of this holiday season will affect us less than most. And they’re 24-hour days like any other – they pass. Blessings on them all, I malign no traditions.

At least once a week someone asks on Facebook or Twitter “Do you personally know anyone who’s died from COVID?” Rod A, who was a year behind me all the way through school, died a few months ago, and last night I was notified that Loren D, a friend from another lifetime, had died of the virus in Hutchinson’s Stormont-Vail Hospital. There have been friends of friends, parents of friends, but these two I knew well. The longer it’s allowed to rage uncontrolled the more people we’re going to lose and my sense is that it will become real to every one of us before it’s over.

Wet out this morning and just above freezing. There are days when the gray skies put me under. Hope this won’t be one of them.

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Beyond frustrated… page 146

Day 252 – 11/22/2020

Wondering just how many wet mackerels to the face it might take for the world to wake up. This attempted coup isn’t a game, certainly not entertaining, and won’t succeed, but in the meantime people are dying in ever greater numbers while the Pouter-in-Chief plays golf and abdicates from everything but the shenanigans. The president-elect is being shut out of transitional resources that would enable him to address the pandemic, while Pretend President refuses to lift a finger himself. It’s been life and death for eight months running, medical people the world over are bone tired and sick of the resistance to sanity, and the numbers are only increasing. Please allow the medical community a minute of your attention:

Since about half the country considers itself above health guidelines and standards, here’s a heads-up from the battlefield…

Congratulations, America, you’ve nearly succeeded in pushing our Hippocratic Oath contingent over the cliff. That takes some nuclear-grade ugly shit and they’re catching it in spades. Beat me up for caring, you can’t touch me.

The Bible, being it’s Sunday, says “Love not the world.” Trust me, not a big problem on my part, most of what I see and hear only makes me want to burrow further back into the cave. The year 2020 has brought us a lot of things, most of them distressing and shocking, but none worse than the knowledge that half of us can’t even be taught to care what happens to the other half.

Want Pollyanna back? Somebody stop the idiocy, call a halt to the election charade, and let the adults into the room to address what confronts the nation. Every hour squandered means hundreds more lives lost. And contrary to popular opinion, each one matters.

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An important truth… page 145

Day 251 – 11/21/2020

To all the people who get it and have from the beginning… we’ve been here for each other and that matters. Written by my friend Philip Grecian

Y’know…we’ve all been locked down. 

We’ve washed our hands until they’ve cracked.  

We’ve washed our groceries, our mail, our door handles. 

Lots of us have lost our jobs, our incomes…we’ve had friends die and not been able to attend their funerals. 

Trips for groceries have become adventures in survival.  

There has been a good deal of despair.

*****

But one thing I’ve found is this:  I know you better.

I’ve held your hand through the Internet, and you’ve held mine.

We’ve kept each other buoyed up.

You were there at the very moment I’ve needed you…and I’d like to believe I’ve been there when you’ve needed me.

Even as we are farther away…I think we’ve come closer.

We have taken the time to realize how much we care about each other.

*****

Stay safe.

Please.

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Ah, sweet limbo… page 144

Day 250 – 11/20/2020

So the Cult of Trump has decided to shoot for the moon, overturn what election officials are calling the most secure election in modern history, impose herd immunity/mentality on the nation, and continue ruling from the minority because they say so. The inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, who have been duly elected by a margin of 6 million votes and an insurmountable electoral total, is constitutionally set for January 20, 2021. It remains to be seen how desperate Donald Trump is to keep that from happening, not a happy thought to entertain since he holds the power to burn it ALL down on his way out.

So far, most of the serious GOP discussions available for public consumption have followed this template…

It’s been hard to sort things out post-election, but a couple of areas stick out to me in the puzzle department…

Actually worth fighting a war in the streets over?
Because those are just words.

We have to recognize that voting isn’t what it used to be. We’d put an X by the person we preferred over the other one, usually two decent human beings, wait for the results, and work to make our party better if we lost. That innocent landscape has changed since I first cast a vote in the 60s, and the current state of the union means that when one candidate is a genuine quality human being and the other is not, our vote becomes a personal statement of our code of ethics and life view and we don’t even have to tell anybody what box we marked – it’s apparent from our choices, our loyalties, and how we live out our lives.

This perpetually-hopeful Pollyanna is more convinced than ever that we’re not only two nations, we speak two different languages and live in separate realities, primarily because we follow two diametrically-opposed news feeds and retain what we see and hear. Trust and respect have been lost between us and we don’t know how to talk to each other anymore.

Hope tells us we could fix it all somehow, but hope seems to have taken a hike and wants no part of it. Even hope can’t breathe without communication, and it’s a slow death. 🖤

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Rollin’ on… page 143

Day 249 – 11/19/2020

We’re headed for 76º and sunny, so if it isn’t too windy for PickleBall Kim will get a reprieve from the four walls – plus his walk and a bike ride. He already took pictures at the river this morning.

I updated my iMac to Big Sur OS and it wouldn’t boot back up so I left it because I’d already clocked out for the day. This morning Google and I found the key and we’re in business again, whew! This baby’s my lifeline for the foreseeable.

“Lawrence’s hospital is projecting a more than 500% increase in COVID-19 inpatients in the next two weeks, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino, an infectious disease expert, said Tuesday night at a town hall meeting on the pandemic.” – Lawrence Journal World

I’m really not cranked about any excursion that requires packing a diaper bag.

We can’t save people from themselves, we can’t even save ourselves from them. They seem bent on killing us to prove a point, although that point is elusive – the actual why. Simple health protocols have become too difficult for Americans – what was it that generated this visceral lack of concern for the human race? What has incited nearly half our population to this level of animus toward the ones who try hardest to save us from ourselves, and to literally keep us breathing? What activates that desire to inflict harm, to punish other humans for being? It’s in all of us, we want to be right. We want to have our voices heard, whether we’re saying anything or not. We want to be justified in our choices and decisions. And most of all, we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. And we’re losing the fight for life.

Kim’s photo of the granite bedrock below the dam is talking to me this morning. Took it millions of years to get that way, and man’s machinations don’t affect it much. Granite will still line the riverbed millions of years from now if nobody pushes the red button. So is the lesson simply to BE THERE? To hang in for the long haul? To let it all wash over you and on to the ocean? Mr. Granite Slab does well with that – feelings aren’t part of his chemistry, Mr. GS don’t care. The rest of us are on our own.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/19/2020

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If wishes were fishes… page 142

Day 248 – 11/18/2020

It’s a blustery day, sunny and windy. Parks & Rec installed tarps on the north fence of the PickleBall courts and every morning since then the wind has blown from any direction but north. They’ll hit it right again one of these days but had to give it up after a half-hour this morning.

Kim’s making banana bread mini-loaves, a bi-weekly occurrence, which he shares at PickleBall and tucks into the little food pantries on Mass Street. Makes the house smell amazing.

I’m scouting out good stuff today, like this picture Rita found from our wedding reception when I was still under 100 elbees. We were in the wonky kids’-church area and it makes me laugh that Kim had a door handle in his neck and never even felt it. “What, me worry?”

2004

What we hoped would bring an end to the chaotic limbo hasn’t, and the charade continues unabated while the world falls strangely silent. If I had a time machine I’d go back and talk with my Great-grandma Salome Wagner, who lived through the Civil War in southern Indiana and was forced to quarter Union soldiers on her farm. I’d ask her when she first began to realize that the United States consisted of two nations… and how she kept her heart from breaking. No time for such foolishness, then or now, but it comes to us anyway… the disbelief, the denial, the anger, the senseless bargaining, the overflowing grief. I’d ask Grandma Sally if she reached acceptance before she died, and if neighbors ever trusted each other again in her lifetime.

I’d hop in my ride and go see my Grandpa Reese for a while. He could tell me about fighting hand-to-hand in WWI at 17 and coming home to the gratitude of his country. Same with anyone who made it through WWII – nothing but appreciation for a job done. Korea, too, as far as I know. Maybe things started south during Viet Nam and we’ve never really pretended to be one nation since we brought our military personnel home to derision and contempt. This pacifist is of the opinion that if we send them, we support them.

There’s a long list of people I’d call on in my time machine, people who could provide much-needed perspective and objectivity, and I really wish I could have conversations with them. I’d be sure to get some hugs and advice from my mom while I was out there…

On the silent days I miss everybody louder.

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Feeling it… page 141

Day 247 – 11/17/2020

Emerging into the sunlight today, thankful for hot water and long showers. And Asian food. And people walking dogs in the sunshine. This epoch, with its endless hours available for thinking, is bringing it home for me in so many ways… and one semi-detached observation is that I’m clearly not evolving upward for the long haul, so I have to fix that ASAP.

That’s not even the half of it. I’ve “dialed” a wood-encased crank phone on the wall – our ring was one long, three shorts. My playlist back in the day, before transistors and recorders, came from Les Paul & Mary Ford 45rpms spun on a 32-volt player because we had to generate our own electricity on the farm via a windmill and a wall of batteries until rural electrification finally came along and changed everything. Our tiny black & white TV didn’t show up ’til I was in 6th grade and we had one channel, mostly snow, and a max of three channels in the end. Out there in the country, we didn’t know steps were for counting – they just got us from here to there while we blew the stink off. I see food as legitimate art, but nobody told us we were supposed to be documenting it in photos, so the world missed seeing some killer hotdogs and salmon cakes.

It isn’t that I’m feeling old, just succumbing to road-weariness. We have the great relief that Joseph Biden has been elected president of the U.S., balanced by the fact that DJT intends to follow the norms in the same manner he has from the start, which is to say not at all. So the news is good, but everything continues unresolved. In the meantime, nobody seems to be on the job at the White House, nor in any way managing the COVID pandemic while it rages and replicates by the hour. That’s the only reality that matters right now – until we tame the virus, all else suffers. The virus doesn’t move, we move it… and that’s the rub.

Sometimes humans have a hard time believing in things we can’t see, hear, smell, touch, or taste, so the pandemic is a true challenge, but it’s out there and it’s having its way with us. Kansas right now is #1 among nine states in rate of case rise. People are dying of an illness they deny exists with their last breath and they don’t stop yelling abusive crap at nurses until they’re intubated. It’s a challenge to deal with that kind of idiocy, but it’s here, it’s real, and are we going to let the experts jump on it before it wipes us out? That’s really the question now.

Or just ooh & ahh over the cool Christmas bling?

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The process… page 140

Day 244 – 11/14/2020

Foggy and gray this morning. Great breakfast, and now I’m drinking iced coffee ’cause my tummy likes it better that way. Farmers Market is set up in the wet chill – I think they run until the week before Thanksgiving – so there are people back and forth. Life rolls on.

With everything that’s been going on in the past few weeks, I accidentally spaced off my fibromyalgia meds and brought on a nasty flare. By now I’m wondering if I’ve kicked myself out of remission through my own stupidity, which will truly disgust me. Hello purple gremlins, please play nice.

I lifted this First Nations poem from my friend Paige…

And these words from 89-year-old Dan Rather went straight to my heart…

“COVID is sadness. Profound sadness. It is suffering, and sacrifice. It is perhaps the greatest abdication of presidential responsibility in American history. I have seen a lot of death and tragedy in my lifetime. But this shakes me to the core, completely and irrevocably.”

Life is never linear, thank goodness… but some things move the graph so far they have to be processed in small chunks. That’s probably what the gray days are for…

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It’s our lucky day… page 139

Day 243 – 11/13/2020

Today is Friday the 13th in the year 2020 – what could possibly go wrong? In truth it feels like a lucky day to me and I’m expecting good things to happen. Or maybe I’ve finally gone ’round the bend and this will be the day the meteor hits. If so, we’ve had a good run.

Our human connections help define us, and without them for so long I’m drifting a little – the people I love help anchor me, and sometimes I miss The Before when some of us didn’t know each other so very well. I miss our three boys and nothing yet indicates when we can be together again. A cousin was going to drive across several states with her daughter for a visit and I had to tell her no, one of the hardest things I’ve done. All because of a “so-called pandemic” that was really only a hyped-up flu, participated in by the entire world as a fvck-you to Donald Trump… that didn’t magically disappear the day after the election like a massive caravan of invaders from Mexico… even now, after all the math says Biden & Harris have won.

Instead, because conspiracy theorists and grumpy-ass naysayers politicized a virus and the idea of protecting ourselves against it, America is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis that’s spiraling out of control. We have a medical system that’s overburdened across the nation and personnel who are burnt beyond even talking about it.

It’s going to be an uphill battle for President-Elect Biden to bring this wholly unnecessary disaster under control, but we know he won’t throw up his hands, slide it off onto states that didn’t vote for him, and absolve himself of any responsibility – because he’s an adult, he knows how this works, and he’s the man of the hour. I cannot wait for sanity to be the standard operating system again. Even with a vaccine on the horizon, we’ll likely be into the 3rd quarter of 2021 before doses can be delivered worldwide and infection rates fought to submission, while the isolation becomes fallout that has to be addressed on its own… and already has. Had America simply paid attention in March… April… May… and taken the guidelines and mandates for what they were – an effort to save lives and our economic viability – instead of interpreting the benevolent wisdom as a ruse to somehow steal their freedom… we wouldn’t find ourselves at this frankly terrifying juncture now.

We’re losing a 9/11’s worth of American lives every two days, and soon it will be 2,000+ people every single day. That should be a difficult statistic for even the most jaded among us. They’re running out of refrigerated morgue trucks in El Paso, turning away car accident victims at Utah hospitals, burying entire populations of nursing homes plus their caregivers, repeated ad infinitum across the nation. Aside from our temporary lost standing in the world, the racial injustice and warfare in our streets, and the wreckage of our economy, a non-response to a global pandemic, with its resulting carnage, seems a very high price to pay for the demand to be right and make the liberals cry.

It’s 10am and the sun’s shining bright on a 33º morning, so I need to soak up every minute of it… the days are short, and losing the light by 5pm lets the melancholy creep in and dim my inner lights for a while every evening now. My optimism is increasing hour by hour and the knowledge that the grown-ups are finally stepping in cheers me, but the flip-side is knowing how much opposition is out there to truth, progress, innovation, freedom of expression, and room and opportunity for every kind of human. But ya’ start somewhere…

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What day is it?… page 138

Day 242 – 11/12/2020

Got a little spoiled when the weeks were zipping by like proverbial clockwork, then this one hit the brakes and turned it all to slow-mo. But history is being made every single day and that takes time. So yeah, it’s only Thursday when it feels like it should be next Monday.

It’s chilly to cold and winter’s setting in, week by week, and with virus numbers on fire across the country, Lawrence Sports Pavilion won’t be opening again any time soon. That means Kimmers will be cooped up for weeks on end in a place he knows like his own pores, with mostly frosty walks and trips upstairs to the workout room to break up the ennui. Yikes. Good thing he likes reading, research, selective TV, and cold morning walks. He trekked to the Boathouse again early this morning and caught a better shot of one of the rowing crews.

I should be so motivated – the walking not the rowing – but there are roadblocks at every turn…

And booking a class would result in exactly this all too often, minus the cigarette…

Not to get cliché-crazed, but all of life is hour-by-hour from cradle to grave and every day’s question is “What’s next?” We’ve been in suspense waiting to know the answer for this era… and soon enough, what’s next will be what’s right now.

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Veterans’ Day 2020

Kim was rollin’ ’round the river early this morning and brought back the receipts…

Rowing crews, bundled up, down by the Boathouse
Crewing on the mighty Kaw
Old power station, still used but currently undergoing a cleanup and revitalization, in conjunction with work on the riverbed below the dam.
Yup, those are roads they’ve built out into the river.
Liquid sunshine on this Veterans’ Day morning
Can’t hold back the light…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/11/2020

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Whole new Monday… page 137

Day 239 – 11/09/2020

Hello this morning to a world once again filled with possibility. President-Elect Joe Biden named his pandemic task force today, all of them doctors, all of them experts in their field. He and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris are assembling their transition teams and discussing cabinet appointments. Meanwhile, as my friend The Hoarse Whisperer said, “Is it just me or can everyone else feel the collective world losing interest in even hearing Trump? Feels to me like the world is just ghosting him.”

What I’ll remember most about November 7, 2020, is the car horns, jubilant cheering, and dancing in the streets, not just here in #lfk but around the world. The mayor of Paris sent his congratulations “WELCOME BACK, AMERICA!” and world leaders other than Putin, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Ji Xinping, and Obrador, all five of whom had a vested interest in a continued DJT romp, have expressed gratitude for our release from the nightmare. Finally the adults will be in charge again and that’s going to be huge.

Still processing the flip-side… learning that it wasn’t 30% of our fellow Americans who wanted another four years of chaotic dismantling of democratic government, it’s closer to 45%, meaning about every second person in the country other than Black people likes what we’ve been watching and experiencing since 2016. That’s weapons-grade knowledge… what do we even do with that?

We’ll have to find ways to live peaceably with each other, starting with thoughtful communication. It won’t be easy. Trust and respect have been broken and won’t be magically restored – it will take work to put things right, if ever they can be again.

Granada marquee on Mass Street

It’s been a week of revelations all ’round…

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