Addendum…

There’s still such a rumble out there about Simone Biles’ supposed “dereliction of duty,” I’m posting another story that deserves to be remembered. Simone Biles stands as the Greatest Of All Time in gymnastics, and owes the world precisely nothing. That she’s being dissed for declining to risk life and limb for people she’ll never know and who will never attempt to rise to the greatest heights of anything whatsoever, is sublimely ridiculous, end of story.

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The woman on the left is Elena Mukhina, the 1978 women’s gymnastics World Champion. She broke her leg and was not permitted the appropriate time to heal. Soviet gymnastics coaches pressured doctors to remove her cast early so she could start training for the 1980 Olympics. She protested heavily, as she knew her leg was not properly healed and would not withstand the grueling training regimen typical of her sport. Trainers and coaches dismissed her concerns and forced her to continue her training.

While practicing the Thomas Salto (since banned for being so dangerous), she under-rotated due to her newly weakened leg, and she landed on her chin. She broke her neck, which rendered her quadriplegic for the rest of her life. She was 20 years old at the time and died at 46.

Reports from Tokyo are that Simone Biles does not trust her own mind and body right now. Given the high level of difficulty (and danger) of the skills she performs, it is asking A LOT to expect her to continue to perform before that self-trust is restored. By pulling out of the team finals, she is listening to her body and her mind and giving herself enough time to heal so she can continue being the badass Queen she was meant to be.

Simone is doing what Elena was not permitted to do – be a voice for her own body and mental health. Anybody who would malign Simone for pulling out of the team final (and daring them to settle for the silver medal) should consider how they’d feel if, instead of reading the headline “Simone Biles pulls out of team final,” they were greeted with “Simone Biles paralyzed during dismount.”

And if you asked the rest of Team USA if they’d rather have a healthy Simone Biles or a gold medal, you know damn well what they’d answer, and they wouldn’t have to think for a second.

Angie Woodson – 7/27/2021

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But did you die?

Things… they change. Having taken a step back from the abyss lately, I’ve been dragging my psyche into fewer angst-ridden areas of life, but I’m nevertheless acutely aware of the controversy swirling around Simone Biles and other Million Dollar Babies of the sports world this year, and particularly this week. Apparently some round-headed pretender who likely couldn’t pull the trigger on a chin-up has called Simone Biles “a selfish sociopath” and “a shame to the country” for putting her health and well-being ahead of gold medals. According to Charlie Kirk “We are raising a generation of weak people like Simone Biles.” She’s so embarrassingly weak she does death-defying gymnastic moves nobody else in the world has ever thought of. What a taker.

So hey, if you live through it, no harm done, right? Everything for Mother America. That sounds a little 3rd Reich to me, so I’m giving Byron Heath a guest-essay spot this morning…

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This realization I had about Simone Biles is gonna make some people mad, but oh well.

Yesterday I was excited to show my daughters Kerri Strug’s famous one-leg vault. It was a defining Olympic moment that I watched live as a kid, and my girls watched raptly as Strug fell, and then limped back to leap again.

But for some reason I wasn’t as inspired watching it this time. In fact, I felt a little sick. Maybe being a father and teacher has made me soft, but all I could see was how Kerri Strug looked at her coach, Bela Karolyi, with pleading, terrified eyes, while he shouted back “You can do it!” over and over again.

My daughters didn’t cheer when Strug landed her second vault. Instead they frowned in concern as she collapsed in agony and frantic tears.

“Why did she jump again if she was hurt?” one of my girls asked. I made some inane reply about the heart of a champion or Olympic spirit, but in the back of my mind a thought was festering:

*She shouldn’t have jumped again*

The more the thought echoed, the stronger my realization became. Coach Karolyi should have gotten his visibly injured athlete medical help immediately! Now that I have two young daughters in gymnastics, I expect their safety to be the coach’s number one priority. Instead, Bela Karolyi told Strug to vault again. And he got what he wanted; a gold medal that was more important to him than his athlete’s health.

I’m sure people will say “Kerri Strug was a competitor–she WANTED to push through the injury.” That’s probably true. But since the last Olympics we’ve also learned these athletes were put into positions where they could be systematically abused both emotionally and physically, all while being inundated with “win at all costs” messaging. A teenager under those conditions should have been protected, and told “No medal is worth the risk of permanent injury.” In fact, we now know that Strug’s vault wasn’t even necessary to clinch the gold; the U.S. already had an insurmountable lead. Nevertheless, Bela Karolyi told her to vault again according to his own recounting of their conversation:

“I can’t feel my leg,” Strug told Karolyi.

“We got to go one more time,” Karolyi said. “Shake it out.”

“Do I have to do this again?” Strug asked.

“Can you, can you?” Karolyi wanted to know.

“I don’t know yet,” said Strug. “I will do it. I will, I will.”

The injury forced Strug’s retirement at 18 years old. Dominique Moceanu, a generational talent, also retired from injuries shortly after. They were top gymnasts literally pushed to the breaking point, and then put out to pasture. Coach Karolyi and Larry Nassar (the serial sexual abuser) continued their long careers, while the athletes were treated as a disposable resource.

Today Simone Biles–the greatest gymnast of all time–chose to step back from the competition, citing concerns for mental and physical health. I’ve already seen comments and posts about how Biles “failed her country,” “quit on us,” or “can’t be the greatest if she can’t handle the pressure.” Those statements are no different than Coach Karolyi telling an injured teen with wide, frightened eyes: “We got to go one more time. Shake it out.”

The subtext here is: “Our gold medal is more important than your well-being.”

Our athletes shouldn’t have to destroy themselves to meet our standards. If giving empathetic, authentic support to our Olympians means we’ll earn fewer gold medals, I’m happy to make that trade.

Here’s the message I hope we can send to Simone Biles: You are an outstanding athlete, a true role model, and a powerful woman. Nothing will change that. Please don’t sacrifice your emotional or physical well-being for our entertainment or national pride. We are proud of you for being brave enough to compete, and proud of you for having the wisdom to know when to step back. Your choice makes you an even better example to our daughters than you were before. WE’RE STILL ROOTING FOR YOU!

Byron Heath 07/27/2021

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I have excruciating memories of Kerri Strug’s sacrifice for those farging bastidges. No one should ever ask that of any athlete.

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The mystery of Monday…

Mondays are ridiculous in retirement because what’s the difference? And yet… our psyches have long been conditioned to know that Friday night to Monday morning IS different, feels different, settles down into us in singular ways; therefore, Mondays feel sleepier and less motivated than most other weekdays, and more susceptible to random naps. I’ll take that…

We have a temporary cool-down outside, from a high of 97º yesterday to a forecast 79º later today – somebody’s dyslexic and it’s very sweet. I wore my granny cardigan on the balcony this morning, but my feet were bare – summer’s here! That doesn’t seem quite real this year, but time doesn’t lie… or so they say…

We’ll have things going on this week and next, and then just like that it’ll be JULY. I remember setting an optimistic goal of July 4th for getting fully vaccinated – and repaired as much as possible – to be ready for life when it returned. It’s happening, we’re here, our community and life around the country are making a comeback, and it feels right and good. The flipside is that too much of the world is still suffering from the pandemic and too many world citizens are still fighting the fixes, but I’m encouraged by the smart people all around me and in leadership, so this Monday morning is going down as a win on the books. I’d rather win every time, I like winning, winning feels excellent. But a friend told me you can’t win ’em all, so some of the victories have to be on the inside. When I kick a blue mood to the curb, when I decide not to think about who’s happy to be free of me, when I feel sorry for myself a teensy little bit and then know I’m an idiot for it… those are wins, dammit, a person can build on those. Watch me. 😂 The sun’s peeking through the cloud cover now, I can do this.

If you’ve ever wished you didn’t care… wished you could make the important things not matter… wished you could turn off, drop out, take a mental hiatus until things come right again… don’t. Don’t wish it, and don’t wish away how it all makes you feel. Life keeps right on going and we’re better off if we go with it, willingly and with some sense of where it might be taking us, though we’re blind in the face of the unknown. We don’t have the luxury of dropping out – life simply doesn’t last that long, even though a random Monday can seem never-ending…

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We carry on…

It was a fun weekend, resulting in a train of thought that’s still on the tracks this morning… and the main nugget is that the hum and swirl of American life rises out of a rich network of subcultures thrumming with energy and heart. Some of our societal microcosms are readily visible on the surface, with signs and symbols we know at a glance… service organizations like the Lions Club; religious groupings; a worldwide fellowship for magicians; the Hell’s Angels; and a club for every possible area of human interest under the sun. Saturday night we got to meet a subculture we previously knew almost nothing about – the world of gyms and cage fighting. When you “know a guy,” you go there.

A young veteran we love and respect owns a gym in the KC area with some other people including his wife, and in the interest of positive advertising, physical fitness, and pure badassery, he’s fought his way to professional status and a spot just under the headliner on the card… so it was time we saw the show for ourselves. A sweltering hot evening, long lines of fans, huge fairgrounds pavilion with big open windows, BBQ, drinks, a light-show going on, music that was primarily heavy-duty vibrations felt from the feet up, long tables arranged concentrically with ends toward the cage, and chairs designed by Satan himself for maximum torture. Knew I was gonna be in trouble, but I wasn’t missing this, even though the undercard consisted of something like fourteen fights before it was our man’s turn. And it was great – we were with friends who are family and everything was laughter and hugs and a feeling I’d forgotten over the past eighteen months… belonging. I found myself doing things I vowed I’d “never do again,” like sip a sistah’s drink when offered, shake hands, hug people face to face, laugh and talk unmasked in a public gathering… but almost three months of being fully vaccinated, plus our negligible transmission rate, makes all the difference. The people-watching was sublime – no worries about the generations coming up, America… they’re beautiful.

Kim has taught me a lot about boxing, which was of absolutely no use in this venue – the action is fast and furious, three 3-minute rounds, and there may have been only one match that lasted through two. Most of the amateur matches were over in under a minute, with someone either knocked out or tapping out, followed by hugs and camaraderie all ’round. These guys fight out of various gyms and mostly know each other, and the whole operation, under the glitz and glitter, is squeaky clean, everybody checked again before entering the cage, everything recorded and monitored. That said, there’s a thing in all of us that loves a winner, and we can turn primitive in a heartbeat when that’s on the line. I can still scream with the loudest of them, and I welcomed every chance to stand up outta that chair. A colossal thank you to DM Bruce Associates for their co-sponsorship of the night and their sweet hospitality to us as always.

Our man Deron “The Pharaoh” Carlis won by knockout in the 2nd round and walked away unmarked, so the evening was a total upper, and when we came home after 10:30, 8th Street was all lights and people, with the streetside dining areas full. We hope the city will let those stay open all summer!

When the light goes… when life dies down to an ember… it’s easy to think it might be finished, never coming back, never the same again. But being in that pavilion on Saturday night, with people from all over the NE corner of Kansas, having Deron’s (ridiculously young) parents come over to hug us, and seeing other people we’ve met since moving here, full of happiness and hugs, was a little revelation: I still need other humans, they aren’t all impossible to communicate with, and it feels good to care. Who knew cage fighting could do all that?

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The Temptation of Truth

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The Lie said to the Truth, “Let’s take a bath together, the well water is very nice. The Truth, suspicious, tested the water and found it was indeed nice. So they got naked and bathed. But suddenly, the Lie leapt out of the water and fled, wearing the clothes of the Truth.

The Truth, furious, climbed out of the well to get her clothes back. But the World, upon seeing the naked Truth, looked away with anger and contempt. Poor Truth returned to the well and disappeared forever, hiding her shame. Since then the Lie runs around the world dressed as the Truth, and society is very happy…

Because the world has no desire to know the naked Truth.

*19th Century legend

**Painting: Truth Coming Out Of The Well, Jean-Léon Gérome, 1896

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Despite hopeful movement toward restoration, the upheaval we hoped would end when the former guy left isn’t over at all. The people who want America to have an authoritarian form of government want it BAD, and they never give up on that ideal nor its methods, so the battle for recovery will be uphill all the way. Our consolation is that the adults are running the shop again and a fair-to-middling MAJORITY of us want to stick with democratic rule. Joe Biden, the first American president to say it out loud, told us the other day that “Democracy is in peril in America,” and that’s clear to anybody paying attention.

Encouragingly, while we’re fighting to hang onto our very way of life, things are happening on all fronts, much of it positive. One wee problem that does need lots of work…

Ongoing stress and turmoil notwithstanding, the world turns. Every day. And life is about more than just surviving… we still want what we want, need what we need, and those things are all wrapped up in the freedom to be.

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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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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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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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Thoughts on a weekend…

  • The weekends disappear as fast as they ever did, but without that pit of dread at the end.
  • Wish the Jayhawks could have made it into the Sweet 16… but they gave it what they had to give. Onward.
  • Spring teased us with early warm temps and now she’s keeping it all under wraps… just chilly, cloudy, and breezy enough to encourage me to stay inside. Tomorrow = 75º and WINDY so… a compromise.
  • Last week held the most disturbing revelation so far of what we’re becoming: a bill signed into law by Georgia’s governor making it illegal to give water to voters standing in line… for eleven hours or longer in the heat and humidity because most of their polling places have been removed, but only in the Black neighborhoods.

The Bible Belt has lost the plot, boys and girls…

Hauling a golden image of their Christ-figure into the midst of their convocation… outlawing a cup of cold water given in kindness… canceling and thwarting the rights of any demographic they don’t like… it’s hard to see the appeal unless you’re a Nazi at heart.

Sunday Homily 03/28/2021

Overcoming and halting our slide toward fascism will require massive determination and a full cognizance of reality.

Kim sent me the link to an independent study done after WWII, a search for the human WHY. As now, the seeds of destruction were planted long before that war and its ghastly consequences, and as the article says “… the steady movement toward tyranny is measured as drips, not as a flood.” The people interviewed for the study had strikingly similar comments: The changes happened so gradually, but so relentlessly, that we woke up too late and our freedom was gone.

https://gen.medium.com/this-is-how-it-happens-c289765df373

What do you do if you’re Nazi Germany and you’re wrong and losing the war? A chilling answer from the article:

“We have to justify our having injured those we have injured, or we have to persuade others to our guilty view in order to implicate them in our guilt.”

History confirms that statement. And the article at the link is pleasingly brief but chock full of insights. Good read.

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Crawling right along… page 226

Day 355 – -3/06/2021

I’ve been without a hangout buddy since yesterday morning, so it was kind of a quiet, droopy Friday, and today doesn’t look promising either. Kimmers sailed through his first COVID shot while I was miserable for more than 48 hours, but the bill came due with the second one and he’s been down for the count. I had some chills and queasiness this time, pain around my waist, and general ennui, but that last part isn’t anything new. We’re fully shot up now and have the bracelets to prove it, so once Kim gets back on his feet, we’re good to go… if everybody else gets vaccinated too. The sooner that happens on a massive scale, the sooner we can return to some kind of social existence… and hug the people we love.

I went to Stabby Dillons just now to get electrolytes for Kim, my first time inside a grocery store in a year minus one week. I couldn’t find the PAY NOW button at self-check even though it’s the biggest one on the panel, but nothing much has changed except that there are no deli counters anymore. I still need two more weeks of immunity before I’m considered “not a threat,” but it was a rush to be out driving around on a perfect almost-spring day, knowing we made it this far.

From a fellow traveler…

Interesting statistic I saw this morning: So far, flu deaths are down 99% this flu season. Maybe we will someday unmask the reason for that.

Apparently Gatorade Fierce is good medicine, as the Big Guy is now lights-out with a Russell Crowe movie playing on blast, so it should all be just a painful memory by tomorrow. NO PAIN, NO GAIN! Righto. Every time.

A memorable season is upon us, with the advent of spring and a degree of vaccine security coming to us simultaneously. That’s perfectly scripted, and the hope, within and without, feels like something brand new… never been here before.

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A Thursday… page 221

Kim Smith 02/23/2021

Day 347 – 02/25/2021

Saw the sun for a while this morning before a cloud layer dimmed the lights a little. Not a bad day ahead, 40s and low breezes, then 60s again by Saturday, so we’re sloping toward spring by increments.

A year “on the inside” has noticeably lowered my threshold for delicacy, illustrated perfectly by the arrival yesterday of the bamboo back-scratcher I ordered. After shattering my left shoulder and the extensive surgery on the right, my little T-Rex arms reach only so far, along with Kim’s forbearance, so the mothers of invention prevail again.

Every once in a while I remember why I started a blog in the first place, beyond John’s suggestion that it might be a good exercise. I started writing (again) because I was in my late 50s and had a clear sense of life’s brief candle. Dad, Robert, and Daddy had died one after the other, I’d moved, I was into my life with Kim, and it was time to slow the roll and observe the moments. Over the past fifteen years there have been many and I’m glad most of them are here for me to revisit any time. Every good thing in my life is a result of someone’s caring… thanks for this one, John.

If I don’t listen to the continuing clamor from the right, I think we’re starting to heal. What’s denied NEVER heals, so it’s been a crucial beginning for President Biden to bring us together via candlelight memorials and fireside talks, recognizing that more than a half-million humans living within our borders have died in a pandemic that is far from over. It’s vital for a president to say it out loud, acknowledge what happened, and help us grieve so we can start rebuilding. On this side of the fence it feels like we’re home again, it’s still here, and we can put it right… together.

The turmoil continues outside these walls, especially in the halls of government, but now, with solid moral leadership in place, there are ways to tame the uproar. By the time we get our second vaccinations and wait some more, we might merge back into a society that’s finding its footing again. The thought of that kind of freedom is tantalizing and worth the price it takes on all our parts to get there. I don’t regret staying out of the fray, there’s been no need for me to be out there. Baby sister is fully shot up now, so we’ll be a force in our own minds again soon. Maybe Saturday will at least be warm enough for another walk…

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The days of wine & roses… page 214

Day 335 – 02/13/2021

Zeroº this morning, with the wind taking it to -17. No walking for now, but Kim got up at 5:30 and had half a day’s work done before I opened my eyes. He’s cooking eggs & taters now, so Saturday has begun.

My computer updated the other night and now I can’t get into Facebook except on the app. Not a crisis… I’ll figure it out… eventually. There are bigger fish to fry right now. Yesterday’s pathetic 3-hour “case” put on by DJT’s defense people was laughable, if it weren’t all so bloody dangerous, and if the Senate doesn’t agree to call witnesses today before slapping a CERTIFIED tag on this one, they’ll be culpable for what follows. Since watching arrogant men lie is one of my least favorite things to do on a Saturday or otherwise, they can just have at it today.

It’s Valentine-All-The-Time weekend and we’re here for it.

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Hearing impaired… page 213

Day 333 – 02/11/2021

Oops, didn’t know I totally left my diary out of the equation yesterday ’til I peeked in here this morning. Wonder what I did all day? Oh yeah, same thing I did the day before that – I watched wall-to-wall coverage of DJT’s Senate trial before a jury of his peers, including an oversized cohort of enablers. The case presented by the House Impeachment Managers is one of the most incredible pieces of work I’ve ever witnessed – a clear, concise timeline of the events leading up to and taking place on January 6th, each dot connected to the next and supported with stills, video, Twitter posts, time stamps, in-their-own-voice sound bites, all seamlessly spooled out without wasted words from the Managers. Only the most jaded in the Senate or elsewhere could deny direct culpability on the part of the former president… therefore, many will. The House Managers intend to wrap up their presentation of evidence today or tomorrow and then his defense team, hastily assembled after the first team walked, will duck and weave in an attempt to put up some sort of wall between Donald Trump and the facts. In their introductory remarks on Tuesday, we got a taste of what that’s going to look like and wall-to-wall watching won’t be a temptation on that round. They seem to have no clue how to deliver a defense they don’t have, and five years of continuous lies have been enough for me. So… I’ll have to find some other excuse for being nonproductive. Ah, weekend just in time – I’m set.

This is history. I watched Nixon’s impeachment hearings on a little black & white TV on a farm in the middle of nowhere, while 3-year-old John played on the floor and napped next to me. The Watergate details were titillating, surprising, in some ways shocking, but Richard Nixon and the events around his impeachment look like kindergarten shenanigans in comparison to what has transpired under DJT. As Dan Rather said, “This is the trial and the evidence the Republicans truly feared.” None of it will change their verdict, but they most certainly didn’t want the world to see it.

The House Managers played this video in its entirety for the assembled jurors… thirteen minutes that ask “If this doesn’t require accountability, what would?”

Should be required viewing for everyone over age eighteen, but I know that’s cliché and won’t happen. It’s crystal clear that Donald Trump carefully and steadily fomented rebellion in an attempt to remain in office, and the results speak for themselves. Another day, another information dump about what he and his posse got up to in the halls of government, and my takeaway is that this can never be allowed to happen again.

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