Moody Blues… page 147

Day 253 – 11/23/2020

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

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

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

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

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Feeling it… page 141

Day 247 – 11/17/2020

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

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

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

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

Or just ooh & ahh over the cool Christmas bling?

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Early thoughts…

I’ve been up for a few hours now, long enough to start processing last night’s events and what they’ll mean. My ruminating, reactions, and responses are still all over the place, so for today I’m letting social media friends help me turn it all into words, and there’s no reason to soft-pedal anything at this point – that ship has sailed.

Langston Hughes, who grew up just down the street from where I live now.

What’s looking likely is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will eventually win the White House, Dems will hold the House, the GOP will remain ensconced in the Senate as obstructionists for at least two more years, and the Supreme Court will continue as an enigma unto itself.

But truth learned can’t be buried, not anymore.

Truth…

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Maintaining… page 131

Day 226 – 10/27/2020

Over the past sixteen years or so I’ve shed a lot of baggage – like the gremlins that wake me in the middle of the night with recriminations over stupid things said or done. That rarely happens anymore and I was struck by this thought just now… “Don’t fret. Let it ALL go. You learned something every single time, right?” And other than the people I love there’s no loss I really fear, so humans have little they can hold as leverage against me. Speaking the truth can get me badly damaged or killed but nobody can cancel my spirit, so on we roll.

A line was crossed last night with Amy Coney Barrett. The GOP hasn’t just poked the bear, they’ve awakened a sleeping giant that they won’t know what to do with. Americans don’t take kindly to, nor easily forgive, fellow Americans who take our earnings, bury our freedoms, and slap us around like punching bags while encouraging us to die in ever greater numbers, and we’re out there by the tens of millions, standing in endless lines, saying exactly that.

Wherever this ends up, nothing in the U.S. will ever be the same again. The year 2020 is the capstone to the preceding four in showing us what we’ve become, and we can’t unsee any of it. People have laid bare their rabid prejudices, their stunted worldview, their willingness to tolerate any amount of ugliness in order to preserve their place in society, and all of that will be a challenge to deal with and put behind us. If the forces of autocracy win out, there’ll be no dealing, we’ll simply be looking for a hiding place.

My mood this morning is fairly toxic. Nothing appeals, nothing’s interesting or compelling, I’m a cipher. Just let it be over – the weight of not knowing is squeezing the stuffing out of me.

NOTES TO SELF:

I know this much is true…

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That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)… page 123

Day 220 – 10/19/2020

Yup, rollin’ on into another week. We finally started the fireplace last night – it’s been chilly for enough days that the building is absorbing some of the cold and the fire was soothing. Same this morning – high temp today of 46º, overcast and gray. But then… Mother Kansas takes over again and it’s the ol’ rollercoaster ride:

Over the past couple of weeks I’m sensing a sea change in the country… or I hope that’s what it is. I’m starting to allow a cautious optimism to permeate my thoughts and to maybe, possibly believe that truth and right will win out. It’s hard to get there, though, because for as long as I live – and I’m counting on another 30 years or so – the night of November 8, 2016 will never leave my consciousness. We knew that night what the nation was in for and all of it has come true, so never again will I blindly trust that things will work out for the best no matter what.

But… I’m starting to have hope with something under it and I do know what time it is.

Monday’s MickeyD day and my belly’s starting to tell me about it. So with Taco Tuesday and the big weekend breakfasts, that leaves just three lunches a week to get creative with and the routine, for two non-traditionalists, is comforting and fun. Also we’re lazy, yeah.

Something happy yesterday as I was bopping through my photo cache – a pic of John, taken I know not where nor when, but I love it. That smile turned my okay day stellar.

John says: Taken April 26, 2013, inside a Lockheed Super Constellation on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I’m thinking this might be the weirdest of Halloweirds we’ve experienced, so I’m bracing for the worst while opening a large porthole to the best. Mere days to wait, we hope, as we test our capacity for suspense, stress, and terror. Suck it up, fellow believers, we’re going to make it.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Marking time… page 120

Day 217 – 10/15/2020

Without specific markers the hours turn into days and the days turn into each other, but yesterday had its share of markers: Kim pedaled to the courthouse before 8am to see if there was a line yet for early voting and picked up an Einstein Bros. bagel for me on the way back. We voted. We had a working lunch on Cielito’s patio with Kevin for our quarterly review. Kim played bluesy guitar most of the afternoon while I read. We watched the first episode of this season’s Amazing Race. Markers.

Today’s been considerably more rudderless, although I did get a confusing Medicare mixup resolved with the stellar help… again… of Kevin’s people. I made Velveeta Mac for lunch because once in a while you have to say yes to the cheese. I looked at the little stack of stuff on my desk and thought about sorting it, but didn’t.

Reposted something sarcastic on Facebook this morning and it occurred to me that one reason I limit my page membership is that I don’t want to asplain things. I have no energy for the comments. When I post something funny from Andy Borowitz NOT THE NEWS and get back a huffy “OMG that isn’t even TRUE!” it gives my day a kick in the shorts it doesn’t need. If you don’t get it, google it, I don’t want to have this discussion.

It’s undoubtedly because I’m getting what’s commonly referred to as old. Susan H. and I compared notes this morning about voting and how long we’ve been doing it. My first time voting was in 1968 – Nixon v Humphrey. As of yesterday I’ve voted for a U.S. presidential candidate a total of 14 times, none so fraught with intensity as this one. THERE’s a marker.

An arresting little “keeper”:

Interesting Times ‘R Us. I hope desperately to avoid the second curse, and I shudder to think what the third might entail in my case. I’m okay with *interesting.*

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Stay in line, America… page 119

Day 216 – 10/14/2020

First day of advance voting here. We ordered mail-in ballots but decided we needed the rush of being there… and that was a great call. It’s a perfect fall morning, little breezy, little cool, sunshine everywhere along with the leaves. The line, distanced and masked, was out the door only about 50 feet when we got there, and the whole thing was a smooth operation – eight voting cubbies on two floors, everything sanitized and in order – and the woman who facilitated our voting process in light of the fact that we have mail-in ballots out there somewhere was amazing – she knows her stuff, and we have no qualms that our votes won’t be counted. When the paper ballots arrive we’ll shred them, and that will be that. And anyone silly enough to think you could get away with voting twice has never met the force of nature that is the County poll worker.

Neither of us has ever been so energized to cast our vote and we’ve been voting since Nixon. And now we wait. We were near this level of urgency in 2016, and we were marinated in the belief/hope that it wouldn’t go south. But it did… so the next three weeks… and hopefully not beyond, please, universe… will be a wonky bundle of angst tied with barbed wire.

Me until we see the white smoke.

We’re so incredibly privileged – we drove three blocks straight south, parked in the courthouse lot, stood in line, signed the required paperwork to keep tabs on our vote, took our time marking our ballots, returned to the car… and by the time we walked back through our door we’d been gone exactly 30 minutes… on a morning so beautiful it could make a grown man cry, on a day when we’re upright and breathing, with eyes and ears to take it all in. Everything about this morning has felt right… make it so, world.

Beautiful inside too, and a memorable place to fulfill a sacred duty, right, and privilege.

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The mOnday Muse… page 117

Day 214 – 10/12/2020

Good morning, my Diary friend, did you make the most of your slack weekend? I slipped so far into neutral I couldn’t even feel the engine running and it wasn’t detrimental, as far as I can tell on one cup of coffee…

It’s a sunshiny Monday, with eventual temps in the low 70s, Kim’s in NoLaw slamming balls around, and I’m looking at stuff on my desk I could deal with and get rid of. Might do that…

A history note, Diary: Because the sound of their voices exceeds the limitations of my medications, I’m following the Amy Coney Barrett hearing this morning via Twitter and it’s totally meeting expectations so far. Claims of fairness are being bandied about, but there’s nothing fair about what’s happening in the Senate today. President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a 20-year veteran of the courts with a stellar record, was not afforded so much as a meet-and-greet by the GOP following the death of Antonin Scalia, with some 296 days remaining in the Obama administration. Now, with 21 days left in the Trump administration and over 9 million citizens already having voted for our next president, Mitch McConnell and his Senate will almost certainly confirm Ms. Barrett, whose name was put forward before The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s funeral had taken place. As is my duty as a United States citizen, I question her character and integrity for being a part of this and putting her name on such a tarnished process. She has three years’ experience as a judge and they’re vaulting her to the Supremes? Their motives have never been more transparent.

So then… mood for starting a new week?

“She’s kidding, right? She didn’t really mean that. Right?” If you’ve been giving me shit, I live for that flicker of doubt.

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America, America…

DISCLAIMER: Not a diary post. Entirely opinion-driven content which some call political but I refer to as WTF is going on? My questions are genuine and knowing the answers would go a long way toward reconciling the collective transmogrification of this era. It’s therapeutic simply to ask.

  1. Which character traits found in Donald J. Trump are the ones that inspire trust, confidence, and loyalty in his followers? What do they hear when he speaks, what do they see as he moves through his world?
  2. Why did safety precautions during a worldwide pandemic become politicized? Why this battle over that situation? Does somebody stand to benefit if more Americans die? Is that why the mounting death toll – now more than the sum of five U.S. wars – is refuted and ignored?
  3. We see fascism encroaching on our now-creaky system of democracy… we’ve been watching its advance for the past four years, and far longer underground. Why are Americans who are anti-fascist, as our parents were, now the enemy? And why is that way of life what Donald Trump’s voters want for America?
  4. Will people really buy into four more years of daily chaos because they care about only one issue? How fairly will fetuses-saved balance viable-lives-lost when the counting’s done? And one last time, why are the unborn the only Americans who qualify for the unassailed right to live?
  5. His rallies never took a break until stopped by the virus. Endless political rallies held by the incumbent, who does that and why?
  6. The rallies consistently attract people who seem primed for confrontation, avid for it. Is the primal desire to inflict damage on liberals a general thing in the GOP now? Is that the emotion that drives the narrative?
  7. Why has the angry, armed white man become an icon in this era? What’s the appeal? Is the typical Trump voter really that base?
  8. What are the tenets and characteristics of today’s GOP that motivate an average citizen to align with it? What is it about the interface, the interaction with the public, the perceptions attached, and their code of ethics that causes people to identify?
  9. A homogenous society, pretty same-same, nobody weird, nobody marching to their own drummer, all pigment and cultural backgrounds tame and non-threatening… that feels like the kind of world conservatives want. Will there ever be real communication on all that and more?
  10. Are Trump’s followers good with a country where everyone except white Republican males is a second-class citizen? Where Black citizens live life from cradle to grave dreading THE MOMENT? Where LGBTQ citizens are gradually, or quickly, re-stripped of the equal rights and protections they’ve won, older people are entirely expendable, and truth is something our grandparents valued?
  11. After standing against Russia’s brand of ethics for generations, why does Trump’s base now want to BE Russia? What changed?
  12. For the evangelical world, which helped put him where he is, are there no lines anymore, no principles that matter beyond their agenda? And does the end ever really justify the means?
  13. What about Donald John Trump says “Jesus the Savior” to evangelicals and others? What are the similarities, the places where their reputed characters align?
  14. How do loyal Trump voters see the world in the next four years? Serene, the opposition vanquished at last, society remade into the conservative mold? No visible differentiations, nothing that marks us as a diverse, free, happy, inventive, creative society with the maturity to give and take? Will every aberrant blip, especially in cities now designated Anarchy Jurisdictions, be dealt with swiftly and forcefully before somebody can incite a neighbor? Is our right of redress against what was representative government already dead?
  15. Will Trump’s people and Republicans in general be happy with the spoils if he wins? Satisfied? In a mood to play nice? Or is this forever now? That’s the answer I want most.

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Saturday, the 4th… page 58

Day 114 – 07/04/2020

Drinking pomegranate tea while fragments of thought pop in and out of my headspace.

It’s a wonky 4th, but I’m two for two so far – the traditional breakfast and a spa soak. The rest of it is gravy.

Thinking of a story I heard a while back about someone who’s managed to alienate their cache of friends and family and now they’re old and not in good health, with few human resources – a pitiable spot to find oneself in, and one I hope to avoid. But I’m outspoken to the max on social media among like-minded friends, so I always hope people who are on another page entirely will either out themselves or find the door… preferably both. They’re not the hearts and minds I’m talking to, and they will inevitably be offended. Oh well… they weren’t gonna come change my sheets at the end anyway, so…

Ray of sunshine here, veritable 4th of July sparkler! It’s those damn morose German genes, and before I bring the house up a little, let me just say this is the most demoralizing Independence Day observance of my 70+ years. If we reach the next one with our democratic system of government intact, functioning, and regaining health, we will be a blessed nation indeed.

So, the good news. The sun’s breaking through the clouds and the humidity is only 74%. The neighborhood is quiet this morning – no mortar rounds going off since last night. The flowers are perking their heads up and taking advantage of the wet air and sunshine to do that thing they do… likely only to get slammed by another rainstorm. Makes ’em strong, right? The day feels lazy and free, so imma celebrate that.

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Remembering…

An edited nostalgia piece from 2013 …

During a nursery visit to replace trees and plants lost to the western Kansas drought and heat (we’ve since moved to the northeast corner of the state), the greenhouse owner snapped off a king-sized rose blossom and handed it to me.  As soon as I caught its scent, my grandma was there beside me and a whole era lined up for review. 

We grew up across a gravel driveway from my paternal grandparents on a farm in the middle of wheat fields and pastures.  There were cows and chickens and a big barn populated by sleepy cats, but the best part of the farm was Grandma and Grandpa’s garden.  It spanned acres, and included most of the veggies you could name — potatoes, carrots, onions, radishes, rhubarb, asparagus, sweet corn, peas, green beans, turnips (yucky), strawberries and tomatoes (both of which we were allowed to pluck warm from the vine, with a tap on the salt shaker Grandma kept tucked under the leaves); fruit trees including apple, cherry, and peach; and flowers.  Peonies, mock orange, baby’s breath, tulips, daisies, columbine, cosmos, daffodils, lilies, phlox, snapdragons, roses. Not a complete list.

All of this was surrounded by hedges that my grandpa kept trimmed — a tall one across the back, with openings into the orchard beyond, and shorter hedges along the front and sides with shaped entryways into the three main sections of the garden.  In a corner, close to the cattle pens, grew watermelon and cantaloupe.  And a quarter-mile away, next to an irrigation engine, was a colossal watermelon patch (which became infamous in its own right — a story for another day) that produced enough for all summer and into the fall, including a happy celebration for friends and neighbors in the yard.

Outside the confines of the hedges sat the two-story farmhouse my grandpa built, saturated with decades of living. Between the house and garden a hammock was stretched between two big cottonwoods, and a rope swing hung from a branch.  The clotheslines where we helped Grandma “hang out a nice wash,” as she invariably declared it to be, stretched across the grass.  

There was a cement and brick milk house where our dad and grandpa filtered the milk from the cows, skimmed off the heavy cream, and left it all in glass jars to cool in troughs of ice-cold running water brought up by the windmill anchored next to the building.  A battered tin cup hung on a pipe next to the well so anyone who wanted to could pump a fresh drink of water. (There was no pandemic raging.)   

We (my sisters and brother and I, along with cousins and neighbor kids) spent long hours in that yard, held tea parties under the tall conifers set in the middle of the garden, and built more than one fort among the fruit trees and evergreens out back.  And on occasion, we worked.  

When I think of my grandparents – she born in 1889 and he five years earlier – he shows up in long-sleeved chambray shirt and faded Levis and she’s wearing a homemade housedress and apron, tied at the waist and pinned to the flowery cotton of her dress at the shoulders.  And she never went out, hoe in hand, without a handmade sunbonnet.  A real lady had creamy white skin, and although Grandma had been born with distinctly olive coloring, she tried.  Grandpa protected his head with a well-worn felt cowboy hat that he sweated through in nothing flat.

Thus they went forth every morning equipped for work, intent upon it, dedicated to it.  Those luscious fruits and vegetables out there in the hot sun were life, and life doesn’t wait.  They did their best to corral us, to slow our head-long summer romp through the garden, to foist sunbonnets upon us and thrust hoes and rakes into our grubby little hands.  I remember thinking I really should help out more, take more of an interest, learn something while I was at it.  But the fork in the big tree behind the milk house was calling my name, my book was still stashed there from the day before, and I was hot and tired and needed a drink of water from the well …. and I never quite found time to own responsibility and discipline in any discernible way.  

There was one time of year, however, when we all pitched in and did our part.  I’m ashamed to say, it had a lot to do with the fact that we got paid for our efforts, but, well ….

Every year in the days preceding Memorial Day, my grandparents would cut armfuls of tightly-budded peonies, wrap them in wet burlap, and store them in crocks of well water in the cool cement-lined root cellar.  The other flowers, too, found their way into crocks, awaiting that early-morning observance at cemeteries around the countryside.  Our job as grandchildren was to take old paring knives and snip daisy bouquets in counts of twenty-five, band them and put them in canning jars in the cellar.  It was a treat to go from the sunny garden to the damp coolness of the pit, and Grandma and Grandpa paid us a nickel a bouquet. We were suddenly rich, and Woolworth’s, McClellan’s, and Duckwall’s were a mere twelve miles away.

Despite our mercenary outlook, we managed to gain a sense of having contributed to something special.  The day before Memorial Day, which was known as Decoration Day in the 1950s, and very early the morning of, neighbors and strangers from surrounding areas started pulling into the drive to collect the big flower baskets and smaller arrangements they’d pre-ordered.  And many, knowing there were always unclaimed flowers, stopped by to see what they might pick up.  The air had a special freshness about it and people invariably seemed happy and intent on their mission.

I remember feeling proud of my grandma for her ability to grow and arrange flowers into spectacular gifts, and a connectedness to all those people coming to embrace her talents.  I started to feel tied to all the generations being honored on those Memorial weekends, and I still remember snippets of stories from the conversations I overheard.

After all the paying customers had retrieved their floral offerings, Grandma let us kids have the leftover daisy bundles to place on the graves of the nearly-forgotten babies from the 1800s in our small community cemetery a mile west of the farm.  It always felt like we’d done something amazing by honoring those brief little lives, and the yearly military ceremony conducted by aging war heroes in a sometimes haphazard and ill-fitting assortment of service garb lent added poignancy.

If my grandparents were here now they would be gratified to know how much I actually did learn through their example and the privilege of living in their shadow.  Things like hard work, respect for the living and the dead, a certain acceptance that no matter what happens life goes on … all of these have stood me in good stead over the years.

As with most farmers of that generation they never became wealthy in a monetary sense.  But the things they passed along to us are beyond price … and worth consciously appreciating as another Memorial Day arrives.

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Diary… page 2

Self-Quarantine Day 5 – 03/17/2020

Good morning, morning. Feels exaggeratedly still out… like a state of suspended animation.

Kim walked this morning while I was wrapped in dreams of a different world – his favorite trek, down one side of Mass Street and back up the other. He says most of the restaurants have signs in their windows reading “TAKE OUT ONLY.” Our hearts are heavy for them – how long can they hang on? People we know and love, count on in the community, half the reason we retired here – this very real place is going to hurt BAD. Made me think of this…

I guess statistics and projections caught up with everybody yesterday and Lumpy decided to participate, so the guidelines are changing by the hour now. My New York Times Daily Briefing helps in keeping things sorted as we go along since a pandemic pays no heed to plans or yelling, it just does what it’s built to do – rolls on while we scramble to catch it by the tail.

Watched Governor Cuomo’s stellar Fireside Chat this morning – ostensibly talking to the people of New York, but emerging as the de facto leader of the nation at this point. Clear, concise information, every word absorbable. Facts, possibilities, probabilities, necessary courses of action in order to flatten the curve if that’s still an option. Calm, measured, everything considered and truthful. People like to be trusted – just give us the facts and we’ll do the right thing.

The KIMN8R’s in work mode this morning, staving off the twitchiness. I’m still a cluster of cells trying to process fast enough to reconstitute. Also I’m lazy, so…

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Diary of a Sea Change…

I think a really good person to #SociallyDistance with would be a guitar player who cooks and likes to read. 🖤💙Got one, let’s do this…

Self-Quarantine Day One – 03/13/2020

We stocked up a little today, preparing to shelter in place and stay out of the mainstream. No TP to be found in town, but most things are still available. Came home, ready to do what’s required. Not so different for me, I leave the house two or three times a week. For Kim, no daily PickleBall, and less popping in and out of businesses on errands, but he’ll still walk before dawn unless that much time outdoors becomes a no-no.

Day Two – 03/14/2020

Kimmers went foraging for TP at 6am and scored a 12-pack fresh off the truck. No hoarding, just a gracious plenty for now. We keep remembering little things we need from the grocery store, so the list grows.

When the Sports World went dark yesterday, people started waking up to what’s going on. “Oh crap, it’s real?” Thus, no toilet paper and no hand sanitizer. Panic shows its ugly head…

Day Three – 03/15/2020

Sunday. Starting to get acquainted with life as it now stands. A Saturday…and now a Sunday…with no live events except for an obscure car race. Night-time TV shows run with skeleton crews…and now going dark. Broadway – dark. NYC shutting down. State Governors taking the responsibility to close restaurants and bars. Anti-science citizens still insisting on full participation in order to preserve the economy. Market in free-fall.

Finding straight information on the pandemic takes determination, but it’s out there. The more two people with susceptibilities know about the threat, the more likely we can avoid some of it.

Day Four – 03/16/2020

A changed world starts to adjust to changed circumstances. Reality bites. The characteristics of this virus are sobering in comparison to some of the others. Hard to detect and pin down. Spreads like wildfire once unleashed. A direct threat to people with heart/lung issues, among others.

Slept ’til 8am, woke up feeling groggy and blue. Same for Kim on the blues – he’s cut off from the physical world that keeps him clicking along. He walked before dawn again, but getting no court play will show up more and more in his mood…

A word can change the atmosphere. Got my feelings hurt this morning instead of letting it all roll off. Since we’ve spent most of our waking (and sleeping) hours together for the past 15+ years with minimal argument over anything whatsoever, it’s clear the unknown is taking a toll. We both know we’re vulnerable to the killer, and so are family members and friends we love… and so far nobody at the top is offering conclusive consensus as to what we’re dealing with, nor a desire to publicly confront it in crucial ways. Time is of the essence…

Rode with Kim to pick up prescriptions and we got fast food on the way home. He said the place was spotless and everything usually sitting out is behind the counter now. So far, Lawrence isn’t a hot spot but there are eight confirmed cases in Johnson County next door. Planning to ride this out to the end and move on.

… to be continued.


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Wait! Breathe…

 

One by one

dig the clods

from your throat

and recall what breathing felt like

 

Leave the answers

to people who have them

what you don’t know

hurts less than what stands in for real

 

Tell yourself you

don’t care that might makes right

that right doesn’t matter

that upside down is how we do things now

 

You don’t care

it doesn’t matter make a note

it’s what saves you until they turn the lights back on

and the night-critters scatter until next hoedown

 

Not to care

makes the days fruitless

and the nights frightening

but no other armor has been provided to the rank and file

 

So wait here in limbo stasis

until the rules change for better

to something your heart will see when right counts again

you know it always did no matter what the storytellers say 

 

JSmith 11/22/2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wake-up calls…

Pitch dark and someone’s pounding on our heavy outer door. “Wake up! Fire Department! Everybody out! Wake up!” That’s what Kim heard. I heard “Sweetie, you have to get up, the fire department’s here, you have to get dressed, we have to get out,” all with a calm urgency in voice and hands. Mass confusion in my brain, which way is up, what’s happening, will we have to go outside in the cold, what clothes do I grab, I can smell an electrical fire, just put something on, what time is it? Kim says it’s 4:20. Seriously? Is this my life?

Within seconds I’ve managed to cover myself with pieces of clothing from head to toe and we’re out in the acrid stench of the hallway and headed to the atrium three floors down, past firemen with axes and hoses and other equipment always eerily reminiscent of 9/11, somberly focused on the challenge at hand, which isn’t yet fully known.

The outside air is good for breathing and also for waking up, and my next thought, of course, is how good my first sip of coffee is going to be this morning… followed immediately by how glad I am that I’m on day six of the flu instead of day two. There’s always at least one upside, right? And that whatever day of the week this is will likely only get better from here.

Maybe not more exciting, but better. It was indeed an electrical fire in the loft/condo two doors south of us on our floor, whose owners are rarely here, which blackened a wall and revealed a failure in the system. For a couple of predawn hours, there were firetrucks, lights blazing, on every side of our five-story building, and firemen in full gear crawling all over it, so we felt nothing if not safe. (In my case, of course, Kim is my first line of security as my “ears.”)

And now I’m sitting here putting it all together in my head and feeling thankful it wasn’t a big to-do to get a fire abatement company here at the soul-crushing hour of 3:30am, which is what time it all began. Due to a small compromise within the condo, the main ear-splitting fire alarm in our mixed-use steel, concrete, glass and brick building didn’t go off, but the individual unit itself notified our city fire department and in turn our building manager. No one had to call the condo owners in another state to okay payment to a private company, because the commercial entities on the first two floors and all the owner/occupants on the top three have a social contract along with all the other residents of the city, with the city fire department. It’s simple unadorned socialism – we pool our taxes and help each other out with these things, which strikes me as a fabulous arrangement at 3:30 or 4:20 in the frigid dark when nearly all my material goods, which aren’t that many, but especially my nice warm bed, are four floors above my head and I’m not asking for a lot else. If it ain’t broke, what’s to fix?

But guess who’s probably taking a nap this afternoon?

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