The trick is to keep moving…

This morning it struck me that ten years after following John’s suggestion to start a blog, I’m still here. You know the old question, “Where do you see yourself in five years… ten years?” If anyone has ever gotten that one totally right, I’d love to meet them. The past ten years have been packed with events, milestones, eruptions, and weirdness… who among us could have predicted COVID and its ongoing effects? And now someone I love is miserably ill with it for a second time, despite two shots, two boosters, and vigilance, so it’s never going away. We’re stuck in the circumstances of our own ignorance and inflexibility… twin curses of being human.

Speaking of which… the effects of ignorant inflexible human behavior are on display every few days now in the 1/6 hearings, showing us how deeply entrenched kakistocracy has become. Just as during Watergate, it’s demoralizing to hear and read the things said and done by people who were elected to work for the good of all. The money they’ve made off with. The laws they’ve broken. The lives they’ve destroyed. Apparently it’s necessary, every fifty years or so, to hold up a mirror so Miss American Pie can see if she’s done yet. The assessment from here is that she’s on life support, hemorrhaging, her coffers raided, and she’s being stripped for parts by the worst of the worst. It’s an uphill climb for people of goodwill who want her healthy and happy. More of an Everest, really.

Where we find ourselves…

Truth can shock us upon first hearing.

I have yet to meet the elephant I won’t discuss. As Kim likes to say, “I ain’t skeered,” and there’s very little that has the power to back me off of issues I care about. In this third trimester of living, it feels like there’s less to lose by simply being me. If what I say here or outside my door drives you crazy, makes you want to hurt me, beat me, make me write bad checks… that’s a you problem. For me, a diary with accountability has been just the ticket for getting through the past ten years of intense stress and change, and I owe a deep debt of gratitude to John for his discernment and wise advice. Also apologies for embarrassing him on the regular, but he did ask for it, when you think it out…

This is all coming from an old girl who cares far less about far more things than she used to… and far more about the things that actually matter.

Is that too much to ask?

Meanwhile, it’s hot. Damn hot.

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The arc… bends…

We’ve made it to HumpDay of yet another engaging week in the life of the USA and smaller environs, including my hideout. After just short of a year’s fast from televised news, I’ve been compelled to tune in to the 1/6 hearings because although history does repeat itself, it happens only once in the flesh. Before I tuned out of news-watching, I was an MSNBC girl, mostly by process of elimination, the same process that took place Monday morning before the start of the second hearing. I was early by fifteen minutes, so I clicked the remote, looking for a spot to land. Tried C-SPAN first, three ancient talking heads droning on as to what the imminent proceedings might portend. Looked at CNN, chose not to stick with the panel in place. Stopped by the networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, moved on. They were all still ensconced in the bubble and squeak of their Hello-America-How-Are-You morning fare, instantly reminding me that there’s a too-casual way of addressing world news. So I settled in with my old friends at MSNBC, remarking to Kim, now home from PickleBall, on the changes since we’d last seen the gang. Nearly everyone looked younger, shinier, more rested, which speaks to the reduced political angst they’re tasked with tracking every day, and it’s clear that things are changing for the better, even when we can’t see it happening. So that’s encouraging, as is the fact that no one can stop the truth. It comes out.

A footnote from the first morning’s hearing…

I watched most of the Watergate hearings in 1973 on a little black & white TV while my 3-year-old played and napped, and the names and shenanigans are still vivid. Shenanigans is precisely what they were, as opposed to the sedition that was being fomented by the Trump administration. In fact, by comparison there is no comparison. The recent series “Gaslit” provided a good look back at the quaint and silly misdeeds of the Nixon administration, and a timely contrast with the treasonous crimes of Trump’s. I can’t wait for the remainder of the current hearings. I assume they’re mostly preaching to the choir, but even the choir likes a good schematic.

Onion Choir agrees

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So yeah, if you’re goin’ back in, might as well dive deep.

All things considered… Russia’s war against Ukraine, racial and political unrest in the US, gun violence off the charts, economic uncertainty [I could do this all day]… our inability to accept each other will end us more efficiently than any of the above. I wish we could get it together, but with age comes realism. I get along with Kim as seamlessly as any experience of my lifetime, but words are as tricky for us as for all other humans and we can mistake each other’s meaning in a heartbeat. In light of that reality, why do we harbor the fiction that the world can learn to get along? It’s an impossible assignment… and yet, what else is even worth fighting for?

The week is not over. Finish strong.

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Are we there yet?

How’s the whole space-time continuum thing working for ya’ lately? Feeling a little stretched? Compressed maybe? Are we any closer to understanding the warp and weft of the fabric of our existence? Are we tuned in or out? “Einstein concluded that space and time, rather than separate and unrelated phenomena, are actually interwoven into a single continuum (called space-time) that spans multiple dimensions. So how many dimensions are there in the space-time continuum?”

https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-the-space-time-continuum

This, boys and girls, is what happens when rain and gray skies become the order of the day for days on end… the coping mechanisms run right off the charts into unexplored territory, including black holes.

My brain has run amuck, so in lieu of actual wisdom this morning I offer you memes, glorious memes, which die an ignominious death if not shared forever.

From the current news cycle:

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Breakthrough?

It’s been raining for days. It’s raining when we go to bed, still coming down when we get up. It’s wet, gray, fairly relentless, and requires a certain mindset, which is under construction as we speak, entailing reminders of green forest and spring flowers, justifying everything. And hark, what do I see in yon sky? Wonder of wonders, it be the SUN! Lo, life continues, boys and girls, despite every indication to the contrary. Not for all… but for us, the “lucky” survivors.

Even with sunlight now pouring through my windows, it’s hard to settle into thoughts of daily life as it used to be. The brokenness of our society is increasingly hard to ignore, to look away from, to deny, even more so this week with the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers. How do we deal with the heartache, knowing we can’t fix it but can only live in its midst and try not to turn into one of the bad guys? We don’t know, we’ve never been here before, and even my grandparents’ stories of the Civil War are not that instructive in these circumstances, although we are indeed engaged in a great barely-civil war of the spirit with our brothers and sisters.

Maybe our culture of “say the nice thing, do the nice thing” has rendered us incapable of truth in our relationships, even the closest. Does our desire to please, to be uber-accepted, keep us in circular mode… never quite getting it right but never giving up the effort? When do we hop off the Official Good Person treadmill and do a status check on who we are? You know, now, today, after everything that’s happened. I guess some of us stop treading when the world shuts down for a pandemic and we can suddenly hear ourselves think. We start slow-walking it when a million Americans die from the still-ongoing pandemic. We careen off the track when our babies are relentlessly slaughtered in their classrooms. We go into neutral when the whole world seems to be at war and rushing headlong into some kind of dystopia. And then the thoughts get really loud. Bossy and dictatorial. Words like “Stay awake!” figure bigly in the inner conversation. Simultaneously, it’s easier now to remember that I’m simply a creature on the planet, trying to survive without harming anyone else, doing my Girl Scout best, pretty much end of story. At this point, what seems doable to me as a human animal is very basic:

  • Want the good stuff for yourself and the world
  • Work toward conditions in which the good stuff will thrive
  • Don’t hoard any of it

Every human.

There’s no way to stop the decay without removing the two-headed monster of money and control. The monster has been alive and expanding since the first white man set foot on the soil of this continent, so it’s like… a big problem. Who’s gonna slay the dragon? Who ya’ gonna call? On the other hand, where ya’ gonna run? I’ll keep fighting with the only weapon I own, my words, in case they might have some effect somewhere that I’ll never know about. Since I always read what I write, the words are mainly for me… to keep me honest, to maintain sanity, to sort the world into digestible chunks, to keep the fulcrum balanced under the humor/angst see-saw.

Right now, with the sun lighting up the trees, I’m giving it all over to a strange sense of joy, inexplicable but undeniable. The feeling is completely welcome here, especially since it’s the foundation for all other emotions.

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Kim just got home from PickleBall and said there’s a wall of black in the western sky, headed directly for us. That’s okay, can’t rain on my parade, I’ve already talked myself through it. You make it an excellent day, please, and if anything I say resonates with you, ever, come talk to me in comments. I know you’re out there. 💙

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Moving right along…

Strange weather day… foggy and currently in the 50s, with a chance of severe storms after 10am. It’s very still outside, and except for the occasional car passing below my windows I might as well be the only human awake. I like that in a morning.

Lawrence has had her blowout celebrations for the Jayhawks, wrapping up with Sunday’s parade down Mass Street and up Mt. Oread to Allen Fieldhouse, and now the team, coaches, and support personnel are on a quick tour of the state. After KU won the championship in 2008, that year stands as the school’s highest enrollment mark. Stay tuned, we could see a marked increase again this fall. It’s a good place to be.

Can’t find crowd estimates for the parade yet, but the night we won the championship there were approximately 70,000 people downtown, so we can use our imaginations. And there were only three (3) arrests made that night, mostly minor infractions. This really is a good place to be.

So now we move on… to summer and all the outdoor living we can stand. To walking our buns off. To life here in Free State Kansas… it’s all good.

This thought woke me up today…

Therefore…

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THEY DID IT!!!

Our beloved boys of fallwinterspring grabbed the brass ring and brought it home!! The joy, exuberant spirit, and sheer relief are palpable through the walls and it’s healing to wallow in all of it while it lasts.

Kim and I walked Mass Street around 4pm yesterday and with traffic blocked it was all people, all the time, with hours left until tip-off. The air was full of happy anticipation, with long lines outside venues offering watch parties. We came home, made pizza, as one does in these situations, and watched the game in the relative quiet of our own place, hearts in our throats ’til the final seconds. Simultaneous with the closing buzzer a roar went up from the streets, we tied our tennies on our feet, grabbed sweatshirts, and romped one block west to see it all for ourselves. I’d hedged about doing that since I’m just 3mo post-op after my back surgery, but when it might well be a once-in-a-lifetime thing… no regrets. I took a hiking pole, hung onto Kim, and celebrated. Put my spine in the shelter of a parking meter, held on, and watched the sea of happy humanity parade south, likely only to snake its way back north at some point. It was an exquisite sight.

It was stunning to see how quickly Lawrence converged on downtown, with thousands of students streaming down from The Hill after watching the game in Allen Fieldhouse, and other people hoofing it in from all directions. I sensed no bent toward celebratory destruction, just a happy, thankful, somewhat inebriated vibe. There was a low-key, benevolent police presence, with extra personnel brought in from the KC area for the party, and they seemed part and parcel of the night. They were appropriately industrial-size and sober-faced but friendly and helpful, and registered no concern over the myriad open containers passing under their noses, nor the sweet scent of weed permeating the atmosphere. A very mellow kind of noisy happiness was going on and I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. Neither of us thought to take a selfie to prove we were there… but neither will we ever forget it.

Eighth Street was a party all day, from early to late, and when we walked back home it looked like a brewery had exploded, but I’d put money on the street having been swept and scrubbed before the sun came up this morning, along with Mass and all its tributaries. Lawrence loves to party and knows how, so we get to keep doing it.

The scene on our corner, with our building in the background, while the outcome of the game was still in question…

In the nine years since we moved here, the Royals have won the World Series, the Chiefs the Super Bowl, and now the Jayhawks the National Championship… such a richness of human spirit in a world that could use a bigger share of the wealth. In hard times that won’t quit, there’s something about a group of individuals melding themselves into a team and winning the big prize that takes us out of ourselves. And we love them for it… with their gifts and talents and achingly-perfect forms, they’ve briefly rescued us from the pall of failure, death, weakness, and discouragement. We desperately need our heroes… kudos to the parents who bear and raise them, these beautiful young men and women who are our future.

ROCK CHALK!!

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… and one to go!

There is joy in Mudville this morning, and we’re collectively gearing up for the final round, happening tomorrow night. The bluest of the blue-bloods are duking it out, you see what I did there, and the excitement only builds.

Massachusetts Street yesterday immediately after the game ended… all photos courtesy of the Lawrence Journal World.

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Party tomorrow night starts at 8:30, win, lose, or draw! Be there!!

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Oh, the finality…

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR

It’s past noon on Friday and the suspense hasn’t killed us yet, but I do admit to being more than a little elated over the fact that the Jayhawks have reached this point in the annual madness, while the verdict inches ever closer. On this cool sunshiny day, Mass Street is gearing up to shut off traffic during tomorrow’s big party, which will grow exponentially after dark if we win… and wouldn’t it be grand. In the times that try men’s souls, a smidgen of hope goes a long way… a little happiness becomes a lot of it… and spirits rise or fall on the fortunes of our sports icons… so we remember Seabiscuit, and we wait. This was the scene on Massachusetts in 2008, last time KU won the NCAA Championship. Pretty sure everybody’s recovered enough to do it again!

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Meanwhile, a bit of distraction lifted from my friend Ned Hickson of “Humor at the Speed of Life” fame on Oregon Public Radio…

Ned knows carnivals. I’d trust him with my life.

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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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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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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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