Always a challenge…

Shootouts… it’s always something. In the greater world it’s war, hunger, need, and disease that stretch humans past their limits. In the scaled-down version, we obsess over sports and winning… and no apologies for that because a steady diet of pain, injustice, and death does exactly to us as we might expect, so we hang onto the happy for as long as possible. Our beloved Jayhawks made it to the NCAA Final Four and we’re quietly psyched.

It’s five whole days before our game with Villanova… and we’ll survive the wait. Somebody will win, somebody will lose… life will roll on. April 7th is MLB Opening Day and we’ll have a whole different roster of familiar faces to cheer for when the Royals get going. In the fall we’ll turn our attention to the Chiefs and hope for a big season. Maybe by Super Bowl 2023 we will have achieved world peace simply by running away from every unpleasant detail of life. That’s worked before, right?

As with most of them over the past few years, it’s been quite a week. Lots of people saying words, other people speaking with explosives, but is anybody anywhere really listening? The truth is slammed more viciously than misinformation and one gets the impression lots of people prefer the narrative of lies.

It’s a gray day, with a blue mood hovering, so I’ll hustle back to something happy before this post implodes… a photo of my kid celebrating his birthday with three friends. In Iceland. Inside an ice cave. For a midwestern farm guy it would have once seemed slightly inconceivable… and it’s so cool. I’ve never been shy about living vicariously, especially if that was the only option.

The travelers…
Black sand beach…

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It always comes back to real estate… where we’re standing when life happens. Our planet is so beautiful and so tortured. Gonna keep my soul wrapped around the beautiful today if it kills me.

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Add patience and wait…

Hi, just me over here waiting impatiently for spring to find a toehold. Our weather from day to day is schizophrenic, to say the least… warm, cold, rain, snow, wind, sun, low temps, mild temps.

Forecast for the week ahead:

My mission is to stop being a fair-weather walker and just GET OUT THERE. Stay tuned…

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While I wrestle with my conscience and matters of health, I’m entirely awake to the unspeakable realities happening to fellow humans around the world, and to their lack of choice as to their living… or dying… conditions. My silent tribute to the proud and utterly courageous people of Ukraine, on a beautiful Saturday, in an alternate world…

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“How wonderful to be alive. I am sorry for forgetting.”

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The official word…

Today is rolling out in Second-Coming font size… the reddest of red-letter days in long years… because life has changed. This morning was my 3-month post-op visit and I’ve been cleared to do anything I feel like doing. Wow, I wonder if they realized who they were awarding carte blanche to — things could get dicey. The x-rays show everything’s precisely in place and healing perfectly, and there were no red flags, so all systems are norminal, and off we go.

My surgeon gave me a great hug, and I got to tell him about Sunday afternoon when Rita and I hiked for 90 minutes on rough trails. His nurse said they have 50-yr-old patients who can’t do that, so I’m humbled, and I’m primed to take advantage of the years Dr. Carlson has returned to me, even though all of it still feels slightly dreamlike.

We’d planned to have lunch at Crushed Red, a favorite KC noontime spot, but it was barely 11am when my appointment ended, so we came home instead. Our entire discussion on the drive back was where to celebrate over food, and we finally settled on The Roost, pulled the car into the parking garage, and walked there. It wasn’t until we were flirting with each other at the bar that we realized we were in exactly the right place… back in one of the prime locations where our Lawrence sojourn started, among people we know, who seemed genuinely happy to see us, making it a true celebration. So far today we’ve marked the occasion with good food and Bloody Marys, and it’s been a day worth writing home about. Guess this blog-spot is home…

And we just got a text that sweet friends are coming to celebrate with us this evening, although they won’t know it’s a party until they get here.

Thank you for hanging in with me through all the times when I’ve come here to vent and whine. On this day, by contrast, I’m full of knowing that at least SOME of the rougher parts of life really can get better, which in turn changes everything. Please don’t ever give up.

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An almost-spring weekend…

Good morning on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday. It’s still cool out, but temps are heading for the mid-60s by afternoon, the sun’s shining, and something that feels suspiciously akin to joy is rattling around in my heart. Kim made The Breakfast, of course, and it was perfect… of course. He’s been making life as smooth as possible for the past 18 years… and now I can’t possibly thank him enough for never giving up on a fix for the spinal pain… it’s changed everything and given me my life back. There aren’t really words for that.

THIS GUY

I have the world’s best men in my life, and on this day 52 years ago, I gave birth to the absolute best human I know, who affirms along with Kim that I have reason to have existed. Happy Birthday, John Latta. Celebrate everywhere life takes you in the coming year.

Birthday guy at Hot Betty’s for breakfast this morning…

John with hospital co-workers and good friend Lanette, on his right.
Less outnumbered… by one, thx to Mike.
Lisa and her homemade banana pudding cake. That’s a stellar start to a birthday.

Good story to go with the photo above. John says, “There was a group of ladies celebrating a birthday next to us (I thought the birthday girl was in her 20’s, but she’s 46 today!), and I offered her a piece of the cake. Their table went crazy for it, so we had enough left over that they could share in the birthday love.”

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With a one-sided terroristic war underway, and a psychopath killing as many children as his troops can find, for the sake of shock value, it’s hard sometimes to relax into what’s at hand… the life we’re privileged to live here, at least for now… hard to take joy in the smaller things without being guilt-ridden over it. But the chaos is there and we’re here, and a sanity-based approach to life tells us we can be of no assistance there and very little here. So what’s on tap for today is…

NCAA Basketball Tournament play, starting at 11am with Baylor and UNC, which leaves just enough time for a nice spa soak first. The KU Jayhawks play Creighton at 1:40, our fan-focus of the day, and then it’s endless roundball ’til the sun rises tomorrow, as far as anyone knows. You pick your escapist poison, we’re settled on ours. Which brings up a thought…

Don’t be like Pluto.

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Rainy day stuff…

Radar shows that it rained off and on through the night, and today is more of the same. These aren’t the driving spring rains that flush the creeks and rivers… those will come… but the slow soaking is good, we need that too. A lot of the trees are covered in buds already… so brave every year, unafraid of a sudden killing frost. We’re under a wind advisory today, it’s wet and chill out there, and my plan is to stay close to the fire, NCAA Basketball, and the food source. Kim just went to the store for soup & sammy makings, so we’re looking good.

The Jayhawks won big last night, other games will run all day, tucked in is where it’s at, and we’re happy. That’s entirely enough to carry the day.

For all of us, for now, some food for thought…

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Somebody needs to hear this today… I know I did.

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The world needs all the good humans it can get.

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Calling in my chips…

I need your help this morning. After months (years?) of empty threats, I finally killed a Facebook page that may… I’m now wondering… have been a connection for more people than I knew. So… if you’re reading this and you accessed this page by signing up to follow the blog… please grant me one small favor and either click “Like” or “Rate This” so I’ll know everybody didn’t get lost. Clicking “Like” puts your icon under the post… clicking “Rate This” and choosing a star is completely anonymous… I can’t see who rates my blog pieces, but the stars are encouraging. Take your pick, either way it will be really helpful to me… I talk to myself constantly but would prefer not to simply be writing to the wind.

Thx.

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Going mad…

Two memories from the depths of the pandemic… how deadly quiet it got here in East Lawrence, and the absence of sports events on TV. We’d sit on our 4th-floor balcony and talk about how we missed all the walkers, joggers, baby-strollers, and dog-exercisers. Also street traffic, which slowed to nonexistent at times. Sports returned before the outdoor rumble did, and we were like starving refugees, indiscriminately watching every offering. I know some of my theater friends, reading friends, blogging friends might wonder if I actually like watching televised sports or if it’s a way to stay cuddly with Kimmers. Nope, I really mean it, I genuinely get into basketball, tennis, golf, baseball, football. They lose me at auto racing, bowling, soccer, and hockey, but all of it is real people doing real things, so that’s a plus, even if some of them are getting paid outrageous piles of cash for royally entertaining the masses.

DISCLAIMER: The KIMN8R taught me to belch properly, and I’ve learned some choice new language under his instruction, so he has a real buddy to watch ball with… bonus, right?

My earliest memory of “sports” as a thing comes from playing on the living room carpet at my grandparents’ house while Grandpa watched Major League baseball on their little black & white TV. The distinctive cadence of the announcer’s voice, the rumble and roll of the intriguing Hammond B3 accompanying the action, the aroma of Grandpa’s pipe and the crackle of the daily paper as he read it cover to cover before working the crossword puzzle in ink, comforting smells from Grandma’s kitchen… it’s all with me forever. I had the world in those moments… security, love, family, and a sense that there was terrific stuff out there to find out about. So the world of sports, however intense it may be at times, is comfort food to me.

This week the phenomenon that is March Madness gets underway and we’re happy campers. The First Four started it off Tuesday and Wednesday, and tonight at 9pm we’ll see Kansas against Texas Southern if we can stay awake for it. Joke. We’ll be awake.

In a time when joy has been harder to come by, college basketball has helped with the empty feeling. We cheer the Jayhawks every year and talk about them like we knew them, and we follow kids on other teams as we watch them play week by week. When they hit the NBA, we remember them with a silly sense of pride, like we had some part in it. Nothing’s pure, not much is straight-up what it really is, but the world of college ball FEELS different from pro sports, politics, and war… therefore, it’s mostly encouraging and refreshing. Bring on the big ol’ challenges, NCAA… it’s time to DANCE!

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Less is more…

In taking care o’ business this morning, I’ve made a gruesome discovery… Facebook pages do not die a pretty death. Not sure this one’s really gone yet… I sense lurkage in the background. But I brought the sword down and I’m fairly certain no one will miss that little pile of data.

So don’t go looking for that ol’ page, the deed is done. We can hang out here and keep life simple. Thx for always stopping by.

(If you’re new here, I just killed a Facebook page that theoretically led to this blog. Everything’s under control. And hello.)

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It’s Monday, but it’ll be okay…

We have sunshine this morning, and promises of 60s and 70s coming up this week. Spring loves to tease, and we always forgive her because she’s pretty and she smells good.

Quick bit o’ bi’ness… a reminder that tomorrow my peripheral Facebook page, which theoretically hosts this blog, is going away because it’s outlived its usefulness in the current scheme of things – neither the blog nor I seem to have achieved Meta status, so… anyway, if you haven’t already, click the Follow button on the right and insure that I’ll be able to annoy you to infinity and BEYONNND. Thx.

Every morning I read the news… the headlines… the bylines. I look at the stills, taken at great personal risk by global photographers, one of whom we lost just the other day, an American this time. A tiny angry tyrant is stomping on all the sand castles and making a slaughterhouse of Ukraine, trying to erase the population of a sovereign nation. Much of the world seems to be standing back, out of the fray, hoping the unleashed psycho behind the curtain soon runs out of steam. Meanwhile, pregnant women and their unborn babies are fair game for him.

Hard to witness, harder to be there. Mother and baby both died.

It hurts to watch it all, without the power to change the course of history. We long to fix it but can’t… so it always comes back to kindness, caring, and love. Let your heart keep on loving.

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The Sunday wrap-up…

Good Morning, Sunday, I was up to greet you at 6:30am, which in truth was 5:30am… so here we go. Put me on record as voting for an end to DST, an unnatural practice which wreaks havoc with the normal beat of our lives. Why, in the 21st century, are we still cutting a foot off the blanket at the top and sewing it onto the bottom, thinking we’ve gained something? American life has changed, farming has been revolutionized in most ways (lights and GPS, for example), DST is a remnant from an era and mindset that half the nation is trying to bring back and it’s time for it all to go away. End of rant, steps off apple crate.

Today’s weather forecast looks promising… 61º and sunny… but we never know out here so it’s not a bad idea just to tote a little sunshine around in our pockets for emergencies. Rita and I keep an eye on the projections and Wednesday looks like this week’s nicest day unless the wind cranks up, so we’ve penciled in a “hike.”

Last week was truly a mixed bag o’ tricks, from the local level to the global, and as usual I saved goodies for you as it all unfolded. There’s something for (almost) everyone here, so pick and choose, share, get in on the story…

First off, it’s Sunday, we talked about that, so…

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For all of my friends and family who are still here, still very much gay, in the face of the world’s willful ignorance.
All respect.

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I learned this unequivocally last week and it sustains me.

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The Sunday Homily:

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A road marker…

Two years ago we were experiencing our last normal week and none of us knew it. We sheltered at home on March 13, and I started a pandemic diary in this space that ran for a year and accumulated some 233 pages. It’s already proven to be a valuable resource in sorting the details of what happened, because it doesn’t take long for the facts to get muddled, especially in a time of reduced input and impetus.

This morning’s article from CBS News about the pandemic death toll is sobering but not shocking… we’ve known from the start that a cover-up was prime, denial was paramount, and dealing with reality was above TFG’s pay grade. If the world survives, people will someday know the whole truth… it always surfaces with the passing of time.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-pandemic-deaths-18-million-study/?fbclid=IwAR2KqDKBqnGhkyZmVjPEmddPoy7peAK48jkIfB-U188_bzfV2xpNJnBQ9h8

Lies and willful ignorance don’t make for a healthy society, especially if they’re woven into the very foundation. What’s wrong in the world is bad enough… what’s worse is what’s conjured up.

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https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript

From the pitiably dense to the primo-darling…


The Valais Blacknose is a breed of domestic sheep originating in the mountains of the canton of Valais in Switzerland (from which its name derives). They have been documented as far back as the 15th century, but only became a standardized breed in 1962. Their unique, fluffy appearance sets them apart – their distinctive black faces contrast with the white curls of their woolly coats. They also have black ears, knees, hocks, and feet, and both rams and ewes have spiral horns. 

These little stuffies are real and they exist in the same world as red-hat wearing MAGAs who are equally clueless for no legit reason and are not adorable.

Speaking of cute, Toodles takes the cake:

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And since it’s Saturday in America, we’ll segue from cake to cheeseburgers…

Despite growing concern from the medical establishment, we’ll be subjected overnight to an industrial-strength circadian-rhythm disruption that is entirely unnecessary and probably detrimental. It’s 2022, we can stop this ancient (1918) custom now.

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Information saturation…

Someone please explain to me, like I’m in kindergarten, the process by which email procreates and multiplies when left to its own devices. I was sure my various folders had been whittled down to a single page of no more than 100 emails apiece mere weeks ago, but a sobering look this morning revealed thousands of messages lurking there in the dark. It’s war, kids, the kind I can proudly stand behind: DELETE EVERY IRRELEVANT EMAIL. Fortified with Kim’s coffee, I shall do so with glee. It concerns me that they’re able to gather silently and join forces this way, but once I see them they’re done for. What troubles me is all the “not seeing,” because that has staying power. Okay… off to wreak havoc and mayhem, thus atoning for my sins of neglect, and simultaneously exorcising a few demons. Frustration comes to mind… might be a good day to work on taming that one.

Our schizophrenic late-winter weather, the rollercoaster ride collectively known as COVID, war that threatens to turn global, daily rifts and tensions among humans everywhere… it all gives me pause 🐾 🐾 . But something feels different lately, beyond the astounding fact that I’m free of nerve pain for the first time in five decades. The atmosphere is starting to feel somehow changed… the tenor of conversation among thinking people has a distinct note of hopefulness under it… the knowledge is starting to penetrate that we might not have to stand still for fascism’s creep after all. And that’s a BFD.

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Back from the Cyber Crusades, my Gmail is lighter by thousands of unopened messages, and what a rush THAT was. What with all the quiet and isolation since 2019, I really should approach such things with a measure of caution… what if the excitement had caused me to pass out? Bonus nap, you’re right!

After a few mild days in a row, we’re having a snow day, and I heard a rumor of waffles. If that happens imma whip out the Nutella and spread it right on that gorgeous Belgian baby and then settle in by the fire. The Big 12 Tournament is in progress, and the Jayhawks are on the floor at 2pm. Waffles, bacon, coffee, and a win would be perfection. And a bone-warming soak. Weather is an adventure aphrodisiac for your olds, isn’t it rich.

Speaking of old, which is where it goes if we’re lucky…

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Spring arrives every year…

We need the part of spring when the sun and the air feel new

We need that flash of renewal to stay with us and keep us alive

We are so very needy… and why not

The idea that we’re a super race contains flaws. -JSmith 03/08/2022

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Author of “Love After Love”

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This is all random today as the world rages around us, because…

And sometimes understanding accompanies the reruns.

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New week, who dis?

It’s Monday, boys and girls, in a week when anything could happen. That’s true of all of them, but life isn’t always this packed to the gills with angst and trouble. Wotta world, and the ride goes on and on. I squirreled away a few things over the past few days to share with you, to mark our place at this juncture in time. Little road signs…

Let’s start with the obvious, because it needs saying:

However, having stated the obvious…

Think carefully, I’m not for everyone.

With winter dipping in every few days and layering us in white, and the pandemic just now in enough of a lull to relax protocols, it isn’t easy to fill our time, so we’re always grateful for sportsing on TV that engages our attention and sometimes emotions. Sports involve real people doing real things, and spectating is next-best to participating. Maybe some of this is on the schedule…

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Because life isn’t static and things happen, staying a little loosey-goosey about the state of the planet only adds to the Zen total. Everything has to be evaluated in terms of forever… what matters now and for how long.

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Time marches on…

(Didn’t get posted yesterday… )

According to the leaf shape, these are daffodils, but they could be jonquils with no argument from me. I like them because they remind me of growing up on the farm. The fence boards are too even and perfect, and my guess is pressure-treated… we were far better-acquainted with hedge posts and barbed wire… but the flowers say spring and my heart says yes. “Hello, March” indeed. You’re welcome here… please be nice.

This week will be tantalizing before temps drop back into the 40s and under:

In my desire to be outside walking every day, I’m done with winter for this go-round… but I’m pretty sure it isn’t done with us. Kansas winters are sneaky, so never turn your back on one. For a handful of days though, we’ll enjoy the heck out of the balcony and what’s out there on the streets, and be fully prepared for spring when it settles.

I can’t remember the farm without thinking about my little brother, who was a Leap Year baby and not happy about it. Three older sisters teasing him about only having a birthday every four years was an annoyance he didn’t need, among many others. He would have been 66 this Leap Year, which is hard to envision as he left us at 29… and it will never not hurt…

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… and yet spring comes every year.

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