Oh hello, Monday…

Since commenting wisely on the personal bravery and sacrifice that have delivered us to this point in history is above my pay grade, I spent the Memorial Weekend in TV sports, online games, and quietude. We’re living in momentous times that continually threaten to overwhelm us, and sometimes ya’ have to check out for a while.

This morning I’m clearing my desktop and sharing a few things from the past week that got my attention, made me smile, laugh, cry, think. You’re welcome.

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Cara Brown, American watercolorist
“Blush” 2013
watercolour on paper

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Feelin’ froggy…

Much happened in the past week, but with little outward change to show for it. The partisan divide that we hoped would begin to resolve after the former guy left only continues to intensify, making agreement on any matter a bridge too far for Congress. This week’s most heinous example: Benghazi somehow required ten investigations and thirty-three hearings, but the assault on our Capitol and democratic rule doesn’t merit even a second look by some of the very people who were under direct threat. Those senators who voted against sanity haven’t succeeded in concealing anything, most especially their own cowardice, and shamefully two of those people “represent” Kansas, which makes me want to hop a bus and flee the state.

Dan, never my type, is my late-life crush… I love him for his mind.

As usual, though, the week’s haul of good stuff has weighed more AND been worth its weight in gold… and when it comes to good news, the small things are the big things…

1.) Douglas County has brought COVID case numbers down to near zero, so protocols are being relaxed. At SPL the announcement was made on Thursday “NO MASKS REQUIRED” (for the fully vaccinated) and those old PickleBallers were celebrating.

2.) The Royals have been fun to watch and are playing some really good baseball, looking more and more like the cohesive team they’ve shown they can be.

3.) Food is a friend again, both good and bad news but definitely more fun – I polished off a hot beef sandwich at Kelley’s again on Thursday like I’d been chopping firewood all morning, and then snacked all afternoon. Um, yikes.

4.) The best thing this week was a text convo with John and this shot of him wearing a t-shirt brought to him from Ghana by a co-worker he mentored. The map and trim are made from kente, Ghana’s national fabric.

The guy in the t-shirt looks to have weathered a year-plus of COVID by getting younger, a nice bonus I wasn’t expecting for him, all things considered. We last hugged him, in Atlanta, in the spring of 2017, which my remaining math skilz tell me was four years ago. I was thinking it had been two or maybe three years, so the realization that four years have passed is putting me in a time warp. Life has intervened since 2017 – broken bones, illness, schedules, commitments, and COVID have all combined to keep us hug-less – but love and trust and silliness and blessed technology have made up the difference in sweet welcome ways and all is well. Life is life, we’re all adults here, it goes on. Still, universe… a hug would be nice.

It’s a chilly Saturday but people have been going back and forth to Farmer’s Market all morning so there’s life in the neighborhood. The pulse of #lfk is quickening, week by week, as people crawl out of their caves and shelters and venture forth again, and I’m here for it even when it’s just from my 4th-floor perch. In retrospect, the past year seems like a Dark Age with only the ghost light left on for guidance… and coming through and out of it feels like winning. No victory comes without loss, but it’s sweet nonetheless – humans are designed for progress and positivity, it’s our bread and water and we move on. I’m deeply grateful on this gray weekend that everyone whose love and caring I depend on, everyone whom I love beyond telling… has survived the pandemic. That’s something 600,000 American families can’t say this morning and my heart breaks that it’s true… so I’m inexpressibly grateful. We’ll still get a chance for those hugs one of these days…

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Wade in the water, children…

We both left the workforce ten years ago but the word *weekend* still holds allure, and we’ve kept it that way on purpose. The already glacial pace slows imperceptibly, the menu changes, sportsing is prime, the bed stays rumpled ’til Monday, and there are always spa soaks involved. On this Saturday morning it’s pouring rain… again, some more… and this sort of thing is predicted to go on for the foreseeable future, so the Royals/Tigers game may not happen this afternoon. Welp, there goes sportsing… except for golf. (Is it raining on the Outer Banks today?) And the Monaco Grand Prix, which I don’t really get into much, like most car racing in general, except in this case for dizzying glimpses of the principality.

So on this ridiculously lonely-looking Saturday, with a shortage of productive or not-so-productive things I have the energy to deal with, it’s on me to come up with whatever keeps me from losing more brain cells, and whine-writing is always a start. This week’s Hot Topic inside my head… the new masking advice from the CDC, which presumes all humans feel equally responsible for each other’s safety. Yeah, I know, I laughed too, but there it is and here they come.

A percentage of people are sick of the whole thing, and the rest of us are sick and tired of being tired and sick. Everything’s relative… I’m hearing Kansas people say they’re sick of the rain, and I understand. But if you grew up farming in a part of the state with a shortage of water and trees, that hits like blasphemy.

America is Freedom, I know that too… but the question always comes back around to “Whose freedom?”

Something to add to the equation:

Sorry, frontline workers, whom we “love with all our hearts” and whose “bravery is awesome,” your asses will be on the line forever, it seems. But hey, thanks, you’ve been just super.

COVID-19 is a subject America’s done with, finished, let it die, along with everything else we lack the cojones to face up to. The unvaccinated will ride our coattails to the end, and be pissed if something nasty catches up to them. But science denial isn’t our only problem here, nor likely our greatest – reform is required in every area of life if we’re ever to become a civilized society. The issues are all-encompassing and they’re killing us.

That’s from me to the universe this morning, thrown out there, guts and all, and Pollyanna certainly feels better, hope it helped somebody else’s day!! And I’ve temporarily written the sky dry, so who’s to say a terminal case of the morbs won’t be improved by a soupçon of sunshine? Kimmers is getting his weekend on with some heavy-duty cleaning of the environs, I see happy people walking back and forth down on the street, the coffee is stellar, and life is good.

“And all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” -Julian of Norwich

“All I’ve ever wanted from life is perfection, is that too much to ask?” -Judy of Lawrence

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About beauty…

It’s been raining for days, and pouring for the last hour. No one could love rain more than I do, even with the accompanying melancholy, and today’s a perfect time for sharing a beautiful poem that reached into the center of me yesterday…

SILVER

“How many years of beauty do I have left?”
she asks me.
How many more do you want?
Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.
When you are 80 years old
and your beauty rises in ways
your cells cannot even imagine now
and your wild bones grow luminous and
ripe, having carried the weight
of a passionate life.
When your hair is aflame
with winter
and you have decades of
learning and leaving and loving
sewn into
the corners of your eyes
and your children come home
to find their own history
in your face.
When you know what it feels like to fail
ferociously
and have gained the
capacity
to rise and rise and rise again.
When you can make your tea
on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon
and still have a song in your heart
Queen owl wings beating
beneath the cotton of your sweater.
Because your beauty began there
beneath the sweater and the skin,
remember?
This is when I will take you
into my arms and coo
YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING
you’ve come so far.
I see you.
Your beauty is breathtaking.

Jeannette Encinias

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It’s HumpDay… best get over it

Stay positive, they said. Buck up lil’ buckarette, revive the Pollyanna cosplay, keep a stiff upper lip (??), be HAPPY!! It’s all gonna be fine, getting better by the day, never stop smiling, they said. And they’re right, of course, they always are. So why the underlying sadness… the melancholy… the odd sense of disappointment, when we’re finally emerging from America’s worst trial in terms of death and illness since the early 1900s, and have so far narrowly avoided a fascist takeover of our form of government. Why the long face, bubie, that’s what I’m asking myself lately.

Maybe we don’t see and hear enough of the good stuff – the things that cause us not to despair of human existence. Pretty sure we don’t, and it’s the universal lament of old farts: “Where’s the GOOD news? Tell us about the GOOD people, the people who know how to care about somebody besides themselves. Show us why it’s okay to be human.”

Kim still walks every morning unless it’s pouring rain, a habit that gets him out in Main Street America as it’s waking up and affords him a window to things he’d otherwise miss. This morning as he came through the cut on his way home he saw someone sleeping on a bench under an overhang, shorts, bare feet, a jacket over him, guitar case covered with stickers, and a small pack of some sort. He came across the street for a few supplies from home and when he got back to the bench the sleeper was awake and shivering. Kim offered him a homemade Razzleberry muffin, some juices, an apple, sweatpants, socks, and a pair of Keene’s. The clothes went on right away while Kim came home again for an afghan for him, then sat with him for a while, making quiet conversation. When asked if he needed money, the traveler said “Oh no, I’m fine! Well, a dollar would help.” Kim knew if the guy was hung over he wasn’t in the mood for a lot of words, and it didn’t matter that he didn’t know what happened to his shoes, so after ascertaining that the guy would be able to navigate on his own, Kim gave him what cash he had on him, to get a better start on his day. Kid probably in his early 20s, either a newbie on the street or somebody who’d played a gig, things happened, and he found himself sleeping on a bench, for whatever combination of reasons. All of this took place while I was still sound asleep in my comfy bed, not a clue in the world.

ME: Did it make you feel fatherly?

KIM:

ME: Did you feel protective of him?

KIM: Oh, right away! Yeah, could have been me so many times… and… yeah.

The kid… who does have a name, shielded to protect the innocent and the guilty… put off such an aura of having ended up in the wrong circumstances and not at all sure what to do about it, that on subsequent passes through the neighborhood, Kim’s tried to spot him, just to make sure he’s okay and headed somewhere better before nightfall. But no news has to be good news in this case, for now at least. And for now, thank you, universe, for the good-hearted, who save us day by day.

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Monday’s never late…

Kim woke me up just after 7am yesterday so I could enjoy the rain, lightning, and thunder, and the waterworks have never really stopped for long since… it’s the soaker we’ve needed. He potted most of his summer plants last week and they’re loving this – all those rainy nutrients for their roots to marinate in. There are showers in the forecast for much of the week ahead, but when the sun does return these little guys will be bursting with life, which is exactly what we need all over the place.

Note to Self: Burst with life at your first opportunity.

Self: Tall order, but maybe by lunchtime.

My friend Leigh said it perfectly: “No bright sun, must have quiet, coffee, meds, food, etc… till I feel like I’m human again. It’s a process, please proceed with caution.”

It’s wet and gray outside, and not necessarily conducive to rising and shining… but the green, green trees, stretching to the horizon, look like a rain forest… the neighborhood is sleepy and quiet… and the flowers on the balcony are shaking it off, getting ready for sunshine. I’d hate to be found less sensitive to inspiration than a petunia, so I’d best do the same. Ready for ya’, Monday…

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Beautiful Saturday…

Kim Smith – 05/13/2021

Five months into the year, change and upheaval were again the rule this week, including developments that could eventually lead to prison time for some current and former government entities. A monumental change came just yesterday when the CDC said that fully-vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in public. That feels like a positive indicator, and I’ll be happy to leave mine off in most situations once my governor ends the state mandate… but I won’t be getting rid of my colorful mask wardrobe any time soon, because we’ll now have to “trust” people who’ve acted dishonorably throughout the pandemic to follow the honor system and either get vaccinated or keep masking and distancing. With about 37% of the people we encounter refusing to do either one, we’ll be swimming with the sharks again, and the extra exposure, with variants multiplying, will strain these new baby vaccines to the max. Television personality Bill Maher, tolerate him or hate him, has contracted COVID-19 after having been fully vaccinated, so it’s hubris to think it can’t happen, and after flailing for months under the effects of the virus, the thought of getting it AGAIN, just when things might be improving here, is hellish. That’s my take on what, if I’m being honest, seems like a concession to selfishness. I get it… people are restless to go back to what they knew and loved, and who can blame them. I’m just not sure they’ll find life unchanged when they get there…

If anyone’s yoked to tradition, though, it’s me, despite a certain unwillingness to buy into some of it, so it’s a big deal to have pro baseball to follow again… and golf… and soon more tennis. That may all be bread & circuses, but I’m not proud – it gets surreal when nobody’s doing anything entertaining in the world! Life starts closing in when all the stages go dark at once, so this burst of energy on the horizon is as welcome as this morning’s rain. America’s athletes, Broadway personnel, administration officials, and others have done it right, gotten vaccinated, followed protocols… so there IS an “after.” They have my gratitude and respect.

The cards have been dealt, so hop back on the merry go-round, boys and girls… says Pollyanna, with a pained smile.

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And now it’s Monday…

It was a windy, rainy Sunday but happy and cozy all up in here, and I heard from my claim to motherhood first thing, working the holiday to help cover for all the moms, sons, and daughters who called out for the day. There was a perfect omelet and a spa soak… a Royals-White Sox game (we lost, but baseball is Zen even on a bad day)… peach malt smoothies… veggie lasagna for dinner… and I’m seeing a definite festive food pattern here.

A belated Happy Mom’s Day to all who signed up in any way.

Speaking of parenthood… the concept has somehow worked, after a fashion, down through the millenia, without improving massively during that time. It’s still a nebulous proposition, given that the scenario is always an original. First-time Mother Human meets new Baby Human, and neither has a clue, so they do the best they can with what they know at the time. Later, they realize they could have done better with more knowledge and experience… but since it doesn’t work that way, we’re all golden if we live through it and end up friends. I call that a win, and my job is to care for the relationship.

Nurturing each other, from inside or outside the confines of family, requires a compassion that takes in the whole picture, isn’t easily come by, and is always costly in some way.

My first instinct is to try to understand where someone’s coming from, in the interest of real communication, but after 25 years, I’m admitting defeat in the face of fascism’s propaganda arm, whose steady onslaught of conspiracy theories and general nonsense has been unrelenting and stops intelligent conversation in its tracks. Its presence in the world is an oppressive gray curtain, masking and obscuring clarity and truth, seemingly impenetrable after a quarter-century. It astounds me that they’re still in business… until I remember the 71 million keeping them there.

The Pro Wrestling of news…

There are clearly limits and roadblocks to human understanding, but given even half a chance I’ve been known to try for it anyway. It’s the Pollyanna in me that won’t quit, and in the face of pandemics and upheavals… no apologies.

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Her rules…

Art Piece by L. Lichtenfells

Today’s guest post is from Lezlie Gwynn via Facebook…

Meet Madam Jeanne Louise Calment, who had the longest confirmed human lifespan: 122 years, 164 days. Apparently, fate strongly approved of the way she lived her life. She was born in Arles, France, on February 21, 1875. The Eiffel Tower was built when she was 14 years old. It was at this time she met Vincent van Gogh. “He was dirty, badly dressed, and disagreeable,” she recalled in an interview given in 1988.

When she was 85, she took up fencing, and still rode her bike when she reached 100. At the age of 114, she starred in a film about her life, at age 115 she had an operation on her hip, and at age 117 she gave up smoking, having started at the age of 21 in 1896. She didn’t give it up for health reasons; her reason was that she didn’t like having to ask someone to help her light a cigarette once she was nearly blind.

In 1965, Jeanne was 90 years old and had no heirs. She signed a deal to sell her apartment to a 47-year-old lawyer called André-François Raffray. He agreed to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs on the condition he would inherit her apartment after she died. However, Raffray not only ended up paying Jeanne for 30 years, but then died before she did at the age of 77. His widow was legally obliged to continue paying Madam Calment until the end of her days.

Jeanne retained sharp mental faculties. When she was asked on her 120th birthday what kind of future she expected to have, her reply, “A very short one.”

Here are the Rules of Life from Jeanne Louise Calment:

“I’m in love with wine.”

“All babies are beautiful.”

“I think I will die of laughter.”

“I’ve been forgotten by our Good Lord.”

“I’ve got only one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.”

“I never wear mascara; I laugh until I cry often.”

“If you can’t change something, don’t worry about it.”

“Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.”

“I see badly, I hear badly, and I feel bad, but everything’s fine.”

“I have a huge desire to live and a big appetite, especially for sweets.”

“I have legs of iron, but to tell you the truth, they’re starting to rust and buckle a bit.”

“I took pleasure when I could. I acted clearly and morally and without regret. I’m very lucky.”

“Being young is a state of mind, it doesn’t depend on one’s body. I’m actually still a young girl, it’s just that I haven’t looked so good for the past 70 years.”

At the end of one interview, the journalist said, “Madame, I hope we will meet again sometime next year.” To which Jeanne replied, “Why not? You’re not that old; you’ll still be here!”

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The ties that bind…

Kim Smith – 05/01/2021

Yesterday Rita and I talked about writing, which we agreed journaling isn’t, not really – saying what we think and feel doesn’t make us writers. But we also agreed that we’re grateful we can both put words down in a way that lessens the angst, clears the view, and starts loosening some of the knots. Her journal is REO – Rita’s Eyes Only, whereas I throw my thoughts to the four winds in case another human might be encouraged by my bad example. Also, I’m past the statute of limitations on caring about perceptions, which is intoxicating, so someone stumbling onto my site on any given day might come face-to-face with most anything, from politics to nostalgia, usually a heavy mix of both.

Nostalgia is uppermost today, with thoughts of the big ol’ family I once knew claiming my attention. Grandpa was the head of the clan, but Grandma was the Queen Bee, and we all wondered how cohesive the family would be once they were both gone. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that without Grandma especially, it was a bridge too far and our diaspora across the country and the planet… illness and death… partisan politics… other life factors… have proven too much for the bonds that once held us. We’re scattered, but also divided, which was inevitable since blood is only ONE of the ties that bind humans together, and on its own isn’t enough. There are generations of cousins I don’t know and never will, a circumstance every family experiences in our move-anywhere world… but difficult news this morning about a family member I did know well has set the memory machine in motion. I’m the one who preaches about life being all ABOUT change, but some of it is incredibly hard to absorb when it gets here. My generation is second in line for family seniority, though, so absorb we will.

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It helps to know something that Grandma & Grandpa instinctively understood…

Enough has always meant: A place to belong, a reason to BE, the requirements for survival, and family. The past year has imbedded a lot of lessons and among them is this… we have to be enough, in ourselves, alone, in order to survive this life. The good news is… it’s doable.

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Milestones…

We’re celebrating the first 100 days of the Biden administration, and the collective sigh of relief from the watching world is nearly audible. The refuseniks are sighing for their own reasons, but I remind myself every day that they’re outnumbered and on the wrong side of history, and then keep on keepin’ on while my thoughts range all over in the face of progress and good change…

First things first…

COVID… which is sticking with me like an octopus on my face… is one thing. The racial inequities are deeply embedded and not so readily addressed.

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The past year has been rough on everybody as we’ve each tried to meet and deal with it a day at a time, with mixed results. It’s taken a toll on our psyches, our confidence, our health, and our relationships, and I’m sure none of us want to ever see another one like it.

But giving in to ennui and depression is no way to end a year or a lifetime, so my attitude needs work. The days are beautiful and we have another errand to run today, out in the sunshine. Kim’s playing PickleBall now over in Lyons Park, bless his athletic soul, so he gets a double dose. It’s all good. Life is wonderful and we’ll survive it ’til we don’t.

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