Courage, like love, needs hope as its daily bread…

My sabbatical from televised news has worked out so well I’ve extended it indefinitely, but the events of the day remain on my radar via the written word, with what’s happening in Ukraine uppermost. This morning, after posting several things on Facebook regarding the attack by Putin, it occurred to me to wonder why I’ve been so drawn in by this conflict, and I immediately realized that it’s because we so narrowly escaped our own date with a dictator, who’s still hovering over history. With America so divided, the fate of democracy still hangs in the balance, no easy breathing room yet. The Former Guy was very much a part of the lead-up to this war, supporting the little KGB ferret in his grandiose plans for the planet, and both of them need to be absent from the world stage for the good of all. President Zelensky was the victim of TFG’s arm-twisting over Joe Biden’s candidacy, so it’s a neat little package brought ’round full circle, and the machinations need to end now. President Zelensky has my highest respect as he fights for and with his people.

“We’ve already suffered so much. We’ve lost so many people to war, and famine, and historical events. Almost seven million Ukrainians were killed in World War II, more than any other country. We don’t need much. We’re not an imperialistic people. We aren’t very warlike. Our land is covered with black soil, so we can grow everything we need. We just need peace.”

(Baryshivka, Ukraine: HONY Archives 2014)

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A Saturday sum-up…

This week the news is war. Last week and every week preceding, the news was war. The story of human existence is war. The Never-Actually-United States has been at war somewhere in the world since we became a thing. Research conducted by the Jang Group and Geo Television Network shows that the United States has been at war for about 225 of the 243 years since its inception in 1776. (As of 2020.)

All of the above begs the question, “Why does this particular war over Ukraine get the attention of human-thinking people? Why do we care? Why is this juncture in history one to take note of?” I can only speak for the liberal who lives in my skin: This 74-year-old has observed the workings of the world for a while now, watched how men like Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama conducted themselves in office and beyond, picked up a few hints as to how the world’s supposed to work. Recently I’ve observed Donald Trump & Company, along with the bulk of the party formerly known as Republican, and watched how they conduct themselves both in and out of office. In that process, I’ve picked up a hint or two that the world isn’t working at all. The oligarchs and wannabees broke it and won’t let anybody fix it.

Now comes the little tyrant, his path paved by toadies like TFG, strutting onto the stage and declaring he’ll have it HIS way. He holds only the power the world gives him… why is the world still sleeping? Fascism and democracy do not play well together… this will not go down easy for any of us.

From the week…

President Zelensky, in uniform with his army, told Putin “When you attack us you will see our faces, not our backs.” Volodymyr Zelensky is one of Ukraine’s tens of thousands of Jewish citizens.

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A Ukrainian woman gave sunflower seeds to a Russian soldier, telling him to put them in his pockets “so flowers will grow where your body falls.”

The animal kingdom, down to the smallest amoeba, has earned the right to laugh itself sick over humans. We are such fools.

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Woke to the realities…

Ukraine 02/24/2022

Woke up to light snow this morning and the well-telegraphed news that Mother Russia is bombing her kith & kin in Ukraine, people are dying, and every word out of that little ferret’s mouth was a lie. And TFG is calling him “savvy.” At least Neville Chamberlain didn’t publicly suck up to Hitler.

Y’all GQP folks can force the world you want, but it comes at a price. And when you say you want 100% safe, clean, fair, you mean white… but your numbers are off.

Kentucky, the home state of Mitch McConnell, which he has “served” in office for almost 40 years. They keep electing him, I guess…

For the past decade, I’ve asked myself why any independent-spirited American would want what the party formerly known as Republican has to sell. Why trade your birthright for a pot of stew? If questioned directly, people will say, “No, I hate fascism, Nazis, bullying… I hate hating.” But when something of theirs comes under threat, they want an enforcer standing there ensuring they aren’t going to lose any of it.

The world is changing… it always is but the process used to take longer. The pace of change in the 21st century has broken the will of people who simply can’t keep up, which in truth is most of us in one way or another. Technology outstripped our basic knowledge decades ago, the planet is awash in deadly viruses, human relationships are on the line in ways we hadn’t contemplated until now. People don’t know what to do with all of it and we sure by god want somebody in charge when things feel crumbly.

In other words, humanity seems almost exclusively fear-driven in this century. The world we thought we understood has gone off and left us, and we’re having a hard time putting it all together in order to survive. Survival… that’s cold hard fear at its most genuine and it holds the power to send us back to the caves.

Enter a strong-man. I don’t think he’ll be the moral weakling behind the Oz-like curtain… that guy doesn’t have the staying power, and “law & order” has finally taken note of some of his shenanigans. But there’s somebody out there with the will, intelligence, and experience to pull off a “rescue of the free world.” The way has been paved, now it’s just a matter of waiting for Guffman and we’re off.

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Goals…

Since my current objective is to be outside walking every day, I’m hyper-focused on The Weather Channel, and what I’m seeing is a roller-coaster path to spring. Pretty sure it’s that way every year, but this time I’m feeling the nuances. We had 8″ of snow late last week, and parts of it are still on the ground. Today’s high is forecast to be 70º with sunshine, so the remnants should disappear while Rita and I are out “hiking” this afternoon, and I can’t wait. She’s scouting out a path I haven’t taken, just for extra interest and incentive because she’s cool like that.

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That was yesterday. We walked around the Pohler Lofts neighborhood and spent a little time at the Wishing Bench, which someone with a wonky heart on a rough day set on fire some years ago, but which has been refurbished and laden with items dear and meaningful. Next time I’ll take a fresh pic… yesterday we were just there to look and ponder. We went from Pohler to Hobbs Park & Stadium on 11th and looked at the murals… read the quotes by Langston Hughes, who grew up a few blocks NW of there… along with other words from other souls who helped make Lawrence what it is.

Old photo of original bench.
Hobbs Stadium

We love this town, which is still in Kansas but so not like the rest of the state. Our Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, is one of the nation’s most endangered in this year’s midterms… and her GQP legislature has hatched a bill to separate Douglas County, one of two blue dots in the state, from the rest of NE Kansas and stretch our voting block in a straight line across the state all the way to Colorado, 400 miles long and an inch deep. Against our will. Against anybody’s better judgment. Against sanity. It’s crazy-making to be rendered helpless in our own defense, which delights some people no end.

I have a theory, which if proven wrong would crush me. I think you can make #lfk your kickaround dog, poke her with sticks, try to put her nose in the mud… and get virtually nowhere. Digest this in whatever way lines up with your basic philosophy, but a blurb Google handed me says “Lawrence, Kansas was founded in 1854 by antislavery radicals who had come to Kansas under the auspices of the New England Emigrant Aid Company to outvote proslavery settlers and thus make Kansas a ‘free’ state. The city was named for Amos A. Lawrence, a New England textile manufacturer who funded the company’s settlement efforts.”

“Antislavery radicals” sounds so… judgmental, don’t you think? When we go to Free State Brewery… Free State Dental… any number of clearly freedom-loving spots in town… I just think how fresh the air feels. I am for sure anti-slavery, but isn’t everyone? Wait… that’s the “radical” part, isn’t it. From what I can gather, John Brown was a nutty old scarecrow who knew his beans, knew right from wrong, knew people weren’t livestock, and he left an indelible imprint here, as we continue to ask ourselves “WWJBD?”

Abolitionist John Brown has been famously depicted in a mural done by Kansas artist John Steuart Curry in the State Capitol building in Topeka, completed in 1940. The mural portrays Brown almost as an Old Testament prophet, a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other.

Mr. Brown did his rabble-rousing in the 1850s, coinciding with #lfk’s infancy and likely setting the tone for future dealings with the surrounding world. Then in the 1860s, as Civil War devastated the country, William Quantrill contributed his bit to history:

“The Lawrence Massacre, also known as Quantrill’s raid, was an attack during the American Civil War (1861–65) by Quantrill’s Raiders, a Confederate guerrilla group led by William Quantrill, on the Unionist town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing around 150 unarmed men and boys.

The attack on the morning of Friday, August 21, 1863 targeted Lawrence due to the town’s long support of abolition and its reputation as a center for the Jayhawkers, who were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking plantations in pro-slavery Missouri‘s western counties.” -Wikipedia

Quantrill couldn’t burn most of the native stone buildings on Mass Street and elsewhere, but he did his damndest to scorch the character and reputation of Lawrence. And how many people today can even tie his name to this place in history?

I may have been too mesmerized to take pictures yesterday… I haven’t been out much ya’ know… but it’s all still there and we’ll go back. Not today, however, when the high temp will be 28º, a 40º drop from yesterday afternoon’s balmy stroll. Overcast. Gray. Glad I got out and shook hands with Monday while the gettin’ was good. I’m more thankful for a little sister who never whines about slowing her “veteran hiker” pace for the old girl with the hardware onboard. Wait… she has plenty of same, so she knows.

Thought I was seeing ghosts slipping along the sidewalks… all that talk of Quantrill’s Raiders and John Brown and how we got here. Turns out it’s snowing, and now the flakes are gathering mass and acting all sassy. I get to stay in here all day, and walk or no walk I’m loving it. I’m wishing all of us a cozy day bathed in peace and freedom…

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Film at eleven…

We’re in the throes of a schizophrenic weather event, a thing the bread-basket is well known for. Yesterday’s high temp was 66º with sunshine. The wind, however, was a ravenous wolf that escorted winter back to our door as we slept last night, and at 6am the world outside is swiftly being layered like a wedding cake, even as the snow pushes southward. It’s currently 23º out there, which is almost our high for the day… a drop of 41º from yesterday’s temp. Real-feel is 8º so I’m sticking with blanket, fireplace, and hot chocolate for the duration… and we’ll pioneer our way through until tomorrow’s high of 40º and sunny.

I miss the colossal blizzards of my childhood, back in the olden days on the prairie. In retrospect, although school was canceled on a regular basis every year, there was one true big-deal weather event… in the winter/spring of 1957. The snow came down like wet laundry from March 23rd through the 25th while the wind made winter-festival sculptures of it and we cooked up adventures in our dark farmhouse. The electricity was out for about a week, but we had Coleman lanterns and kerosene lamps from my grandparents’ house across the drive, so it was all fine with us, by which I mean anyone not responsible for clothing, feeding, and sustaining us as viable humans. Our floor furnace ran on gas, but did it need a spark from the wires to fire it? At any rate, we stayed snug as bugs, my folks always kept the freezer full of food, and the kitchen stove was on gas. Yay us!

March 1957

That year I was nine years old, my little sisters about 4 and 5, and in the photo we’re sitting atop the evergreens in our grandparents’ shelter belt, which never really recovered. Our baby brother even got to check it all out for himself the day this photo was taken, feeling the cold, eating the snow. Our neighbors could walk out their upstairs bedroom windows onto the drifts that stacked up against the north side of their house. Good times…

It’s only grown darker since I got up at 5:45, and not much is shakin’ down there on the streets. A true snow day for savoring…

Next month is the 60th anniversary of one of Kansas’ biggest blizzards, MY blizzard, about which there’s information in the link if you’re interested, including a small paragraph about the blizzard of 1886, which was related to me by my grandma, born three years after the event. The People, with their verbal accounts of history, had it right… and I wish I’d listened to every word of hers like it was a lifeline.

https://www.weather.gov/ddc/1957Blizzard [Hit back-arrow to return to blog post.]

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Life in its third trimester…

Longevity is a thing in my gene pool. My two grandmothers both celebrated their 95th birthdays in their right minds… some of my great-grandmothers lived into their 90s… one of my uncles is 92, in shape like the Marine he was, and still living an independent life. Other relatives have beaten the odds as well… kept their faculties about them… lived long and prospered. I consider that a positive thing, as I enjoy living and prefer to do it on a healthy basis as much as possible.

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” -William Saroyan

Since embarking on my 70s almost five years ago, life has changed in both subtle and clear-cut ways. It’s getting easier to stay mellow, partly thanks to the solitude of the past two years, partly due to the changing character of American life, which has taken on a set-adrift sort of feel.

“These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all… “

But in other ways a mellow state of mind is a total reach, so it’s healthier to feel, experience, vent, exorcise… and move on. “So strange, the world of social media. We think we’re negotiating the rapids just fine, and then with no warning we’re hung up on the rocks of somebody else’s bad day. Or our own.” -source unknown

Being misunderstood… misperceived… misjudged, is a fact to be dealt with for the duration of life, but it’s always jarring when it happens. I’ve never managed to solve the mystery of someone else’s misguided disapproval, so I tend to ignore it instead, which works just fine most of the time, but does add to a general sense of social malaise. Human interaction… for as educated, experienced, and sophisticated as we like to see ourselves… still swings wildly between love and hate… peace and warfare… acceptance and exclusivity. We lack the courage of our convictions so we lamely defend them ad infinitum, with less than positive results. When it comes to human communication we’re a consistent contradiction, our facts in disarray, our feelings spilling over, our frustrations fully on display. Everything’s a competition, an opportunity to be offended, a place to stake a claim. It’s exhausting and simply reinforces my reclusive lifestyle… the energy available to me can be better used elsewhere.

Things happen every day to remind us that the world is a cold and crazy place, that values vary among individuals… and the challenge inherent in human existence to care about each other becomes ever more… challenging. Sometimes there’s a sense that no genuine caring is left in the world and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. But when I think about the people I love, and who love me, or at least value my personal welfare… I know I’m inundated by the good life and I’ve never had it better. Perspective is everything.

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The days of wine and roses…

Seventeen designated “I LOVE YOU THE MOST” holidays with my husband and counting… and it’s all still real. Since his kitchen is the best restaurant in town, we’ll share something with the love cooked in, toast to happy days ahead, and feel grateful.

The romance is still there, I assure you:

Happiness is overrated and likely sinful.

Despite the gaiety and lightheartedness of our forebears, Valentine’s Day, like other “human interest” observances, is hard for people with heavy hearts. Being alone, when every conversation is about being with another person, takes a toll. I see you… do today on your terms.

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To Kim, who has saved my life from the beginning, countless times over… you’re The Guy.

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Simple Sunday stuff…

As faithful readers know, Sunday mornings are all about ranch omelets and a therapeutic soak, which tends to soften the knowledge that yet another weekend is coming and going as we speak. Thanks to Omicron, et al, I’m still hanging with just me, Kimmers, and Rita most of the time – we’re triple-vaxxed, but so was John when it took his legs out from under him – however, it’s really other things that have conspired to keep me in a detached frame of mind. Small example… in the silence and ennui of sheltering from the virus, with the added influence of spinal issues and pain, I mindlessly let my driver’s license lapse, so I’ll have to run the gauntlet necessary to correct that oversight in order to regain my independence. Soon…

It’s mostly the quiet that keeps me snuggled into this space where it’s soothing and healing, and I see little outside my windows that tempts me other than a warm sunny day. Kim ran errands after the KU game yesterday and when he got back we walked around the block, staying on smooth surfaces, in the sun, and out of the wind as much as possible. The one thing I couldn’t do eight weeks ago has become the very thing that makes me feel best… my own two feet taking me where I want to go, pain free… and I’m already finding that nothing exorcises angst like taking it for a brisk walk. Other than Kim and a roof over my head this is all I’ve really wanted for a whole bunch of years, so life is good and that’s the truth.

Truth has traditionally been a dear, slippery commodity and we deal with it on our own behalf in totally different ways than we afford to other people, all the while constructing a cover story for our own schizophrenic approach to reality. A truth we can likely all agree on: Life is hard. Damn hard. And unpredictable, not to mention chaotic. So it’s a boost to the human story when we find it within ourselves to be genuine with people and help in some way to make life better for them. Or on the sucky days, to at least stay out of the way.

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Pretty mellow all up in here this Sunday morning. The sweet sweet strains of Kim’s Telecaster guitar sliding through the house mingle like smoke with the wispy thoughts in my head, and make anything feel possible… all of life, bright and happy forever. Seriously, it’s that good for a few amazing moments and I’ve learned to wallow in those while they last because otherwise life’s all about waiting for something. Sorry, running outta time for that, I’ll take THIS, RIGHT NOW.

Person out there, my fellow human who’s reading this, I thank you. I want to give you something of value for hanging in with me over the years and being my therapist, but all I ever come up with is a smile or two from cyberspace. Do please soak up all the goodness of the day.

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Which begs the age-old question: Does okra REALLY taste like ass?

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YES!!

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Closing one site…

A quick bit of business this morning:

As per intermittent threats put forth by me since before COVID crept onto the stage, I will be closing my self-titled (Playing for Time) peripheral blog page on Facebook… tiny drumroll, please…

on March 15, 2022. It’s an auspicious date that popped out of the hat, by which I mean the top of my head, and we’re doin’ it.

So. If you like following my blog and you still get your notifications through that rapidly-disappearing Facebook page? It’s time to change that.

Enter your email address where called for HERE on the right-hand side of the main blog page, subscribe, and set your preferences. If the site gives you any backtalk, come here to Comments and tell on it… I’ll do my best to fix it for you.

If you want to be here I don’t want to lose you, so do the thing NOW because Mama’s not gonna nag forever, and not a moment after 3/15/22.

The page that’s going away:

https://www.facebook.com/Playing-for-Time-174149176111937

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Just let it go, Elsa…

So much swirling around in my head, so little to write home about. The sun comes up, shines through the winter clouds or not, the sun goes down, sleep does that thing it does and delivers us to another sunrise… and life continues to happen. More every day I understand how we’re but another species on the planet, albeit the one holding most of the chips. We’re smart, too much so for our own good in key ways… “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” if you know your proverbs. We want to believe we can handle anything and everything, but when reality bites we’re just another species at the mercy of our environment and earth’s other creatures, who don’t care about us one way or another.

For me that’s a freeing realization… I haven’t sussed out the what, where, and why of my existence, but I know I’m a sentient being with limited power in my sphere. Rather than fill me with dread and fear, that knowledge sets me free to live as me, end of story. I didn’t ask to come here, as far as I know, but I’ve willingly paid my dues on my way through, done what I can most of the time to make things better instead of worse, tried to keep it real. What more is required… what am I neglecting? It’s a large planet inhabited by billions of people, of which I am one. A blip. A speck of DNA in the universe. And yet, somehow, I matter to a handful of humans who are my life; therefore, I belong here, being me… and I don’t have to understand that in order to proceed.

If we could strip away ego, ambition, greed, and all the meanness in the world, leaving each of us standing in our own skin, on our own merits… and if we could each unselfishly look out for the guy next to us… being human would eventually become an accolade. “Yeah, that’s the species that cares, the one that nurtures its weaker members and pulls for the good of all. It’s cool to be human.”

Mr. Waits is my spirit animal.

With every passing day post-op I feel more human in good ways and more equipped to meet life on its terms, which… well, we have no other options, so… Projects that have languished for months (years) under my piteous gaze are falling like dominoes now that I can start and finish most of them in a day or less and without penalty in terms of pain. So… plot change… reset… I’m possibly not irretrievably ancient after all… and the freedom to pursue a goal and achieve it is beyond value.

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The world needs us to keep dancing…

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How cold WAS it… ?

Good morning on a sunny, crispy-cold Saturday. Compared to yesterday’s predawn 5º temp, it was a balmy 20º this morning, so Kim walked Mass Street and environs, bringing me his icy fingers as he does after every winter stroll. I actually invite the delicious shock and brace for it, everybody has a good time, and I’m not the one who has to go out and earn it. Also, did I mention it’s Saturday. The Breakfast. The Soak. In all sincerity, if Dr. Carlson and staff knew what a huge role a simple kingsize jetted bathtub can play in the healing process, it would be prescribed during every post-op dismissal. I can hear my bones sighing as I sink under the water…

The world squandered the power to shock me some time ago, but this past week was surprising in its onslaught of book bannings across the country. Comes across like a sudden and spontaneous development, but it’s no doubt been underway for months and years because the banning of “seditious” books is a key element of fascism, whose proponents desire control like they require oxygen. However far this goes, it’s a honkin’ big yellow canary in the coal mine letting us know that none of what’s happening to democracy is benign, nor do the autocrats have our interests in mind in any way, best or otherwise.

When political actions call for less education, less knowledge, less awareness among the public… ask why.

Not all writing is journalism. Not all writing is truth. Not all journalism is truth. But this woman’s protest sign exposes what’s behind book-banning and the arrest of journalists around the world.

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I have only a passing knowledge of the thought processes of early psychiatrists like Freud, Jung, and others, but I do share an affinity with Dr. Jung for silence… the quiet of a tended mind. It makes surviving chaotic times doable. On that note, I wish you a peace-filled weekend, and may every cognizant discovery stay with you and affirm you in the space you inhabit.

I’ve shared this before, yes… probably will again.

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Snow-day stuff…

Our frantically-forecast snowpocalypse failed to live up to its billing, but things are white outside, we had biscuits & gravy for breakfast followed by a lovely soak, and I feel no impulse to leave the building today for any reason. Totally zen situation. Now, if only it were the weekend, with sports on TV… so soothing.

I’ll never not love rain and snow, the more the better… to a point. Snow, especially, carries magic in its kaleidoscope stencils.

Every day for an introvert is filled with never-ending thought… endless attempts to process it all… to figure out where one is and why…

Inevitably, a large percentage of my thought process becomes about current events, in this recent era more than ever. In our naiveté as Americans we want to believe, like Pollyanna, that all will be well no matter what because… well… we’re Americans. While incontrovertible facts tell us we’re becoming a less healthy republic by the day, we continue finding comfort in our determined delusions. Memo from a Baby Boomer this morning: America is very much in trouble, democracy is holding on by a hangnail, and we’re seeing nothing on the horizon massive enough to take out the impending fascism that’s bearing down on us. It’s ugly, but it’s truth we need to hear.

Reality does have a way of barreling right over us without a backward glance to survey the damage – that’s how “what ifs” come to us. A basic reality is that each of us is one person… one. We can do only what we can do. But when we pool our efforts and resources, human existence starts to take on a whole different look, so take heart…

And then to make yourself available.

We’re powerless to fix much of anything in the world… so the only logical place to start is with us. Be the real you today… I’ll be thinking of you.

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