A year in the time of COVID… page 233

Day 365 – 03/16/2021

One full year, with a diary page every day & a half to show for it… I’m calling that creativity. These 233 pages hold joy and tears, light spirits and heavy hearts, my truth, reality as it happened, shock and awe. Kim and I created our own environment in here when we sheltered, and fine-tuned our routine to meet the circumstances. We’ve creatively avoided driving each other screaming yellow bananas in this open loft, and managed to create an even better vibe than before. Creativity matters in a crunch, as does patience.

The only thing I’ve had no patience for is the jerks.

This year in the catacombs could have been so much easier on everyone, and infinitely less deadly, but it was what it was, we went through some things, and eventually it’ll all just magically fade away. The mantra from hell still haunts…

All year I’ve railed against injustice on these pages, grieved cruelty and loss, damned stupidity, sought answers to the human dilemma, wished for connection… but a speed-skim from March 16, 2020 to today tells me it’s been at least 85% sunshine all up in here, and I’m glad I can look back and know that.

After the steady outpour, it could be time for a sabbatical, so I’ll be consulting with the muses… when they fall silent, I follow suit. Writing it all down was a wise plan… likely the best care I could have provided to myself and anyone who’s had to deal with me.

But tomorrow restarts the clock for 2021 & a half, as all of us survey the wreckage and wonder where to start. The challenges will gradually become less life-or-death, and more life-or-less. But it’s hard to settle for less, knowing what we know, and being alive all the way seems like the only choice. Thinking about sunshine… thinking about all the good hearts who got us this far.

So, Diary, I’ll take you underground again and close the book on the past twelve months. It was a microcosm of everything good or bad about the human experience, and it’s a valuable bit of living added to my arsenal of understanding. I learned things I wouldn’t have comprehended any other way… and it was past time.

My personal regrets in life are almost solely over stupid things I’ve said, leaving people with wrong impressions. But regretting circumstances isn’t in me because if you change one thing you’ve changed everything. So we live what’s in front of us and hope we do it right… and I have no regrets over the year we just survived. We kept up with the science, we followed the protocols, we’re fully vaccinated, and everything from here on out is gravy. Hmmm… wouldn’t it be nice.

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Lurching toward spring… page 232

Day 364 – 03/15/2021

I slept ’til 8am, thus messing with Mother Nature by recovering my lost hour from Daylight Saving Time. HA!! Thumbs nose, laughs, trips over a space heater, ponders a lost jigger of salt.

It’s a Monday again… and who knows? We did finally get our downpours yesterday… all afternoon… and now we head into a week of mixed reviews – wet or dry, chilly or warm, breezy or still. Sounds like life as we know it.

Kim picked Marcelo up at 11am yesterday and they blew town. Rita brought lunch and a cold bottle of Praia, and Seth & Adam stopped by shortly after with the beautiful remains of Warren’s birthday cake, a 3-layer cocoa dream made by Adam. We were all still laughing around the table when Kim showed up, making it a true party – he’s missed those guys all year.

Life halted last March with a decisive act – we came inside and symbolically closed our door to any and all invaders, and I promised myself I’d stay out of the public fray until some sort of ALL CLEAR happened. Tomorrow I will have kept my promise, and that means something to me after watching so many people break their word at every opportunity. I’m in no rush to get out there, but knowing I can do it now with a clear conscience is cool. We’ve had both shots and we’ll stay masked for the foreseeable, but I’m making a list:

  • Barbershop
  • Pedi
  • Dentist
  • Chiro
  • Pain Doc

I think Kim’s list says “PLAY PICKLEBALL” and “RIDE BIKE,” but we should both be ready for prime time by the 4th.

Life stopped with little warning… and we adjusted. As life returns to our community and the world, we’re being afforded grace to meet it as it comes, a little at a time… and this feels better. Fourth of July it is, then, a fitting Independence Day and a worthy goal.

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A Happy Sunday… page 231

Day 363 – 03/14/2021

I may or may not have been born talking, but I came by it as early as I could. Since I was the first baby and Mother was just out of her teens, cooped up in Grandma & Grandpa’s big house while Daddy and Grandpa built ours, she talked and read to me a lot, making words my first friends. There was never a time I didn’t love their shapes and sounds, and I’m sure I was a mouthy little fair-haired child, tolerated only for the sake of family ties. Other than during that horrid awkward stage when I looked like everybody’s great-aunt on steroids, I’ve always valued my own opinion and my right to hold same. All of that to say, I’m tired of talking. I’ve talked my way through a lifetime… explained, humored, kept the silences full… but finally, the mechanism has imperceptibly wound down over years and days and hours, until there’s just enough oomph left for the communication that matters… so I talk now only when there’s something to say. Thank you for that, Break Year.

Today is for talking and laughing. Kim has guy exploits cooked up with Marcelo, and Rita’s going to come hang out here with me. That’ll bring the sun out!

It’s been raining lightly all weekend, the house is cozy, I get to see Rita, and I’ve had two (2) ranch omelets in a week. Mama’s a happy girl.

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Weekend rain… page 230

Day 362 – 03/13/2021

No downpours so far, but it’s gray and wet outside and only 48º so Miss Spring is playing the tease, as she is wont to do in these parts. We’re mostly tucked in for the weekend, but next week looks more outdoor-friendly, with highs in the 50s and 60s. Even if I have to sit while Rita walks, I’m getting out there, provided it isn’t raining, which is also a possibility, sigh…

Kim took note of something I’m wearing today and said that it makes me look happy. Who doesn’t love a nice comment, but it made me ask the inevitable question: Do I seem UNhappy to you? His answer encompassed the shitty year we all just passed, the illness rampant everywhere including in our household, the daily wear and tear, and the way everyone feels unseen through it all – he gets it. Truth: I’m happy, he knows I’m happy, have never lived a happier life and never will… but we both also know that feeling absolutely everything for everybody takes a toll. Germanic melancholy inserts itself throughout this creature who is me, and warring with that muse leads only to misery, so you get to hear all about it, Diary friend. I tell the truth here, and unfortunately it makes me sound like a sad panda sometimes. I can fix it by not keeping a diary or a blog of any kind, but nothing good would come of that, so keep eavesdropping if you want to… the smiles I wear on the outside come from a clear heart on the inside, and most of that happens right here.

Sympathizing with AtlantaMan this morning… it’s almost 80º there today and he’s inside the hospital walls. Same yesterday. He has jasmine in bloom on his deck, for Pete’s sake! Nobody wants to miss that! A thought this morning about missing… missing out… happy vs unhappy. We’re emerging into the light again as a nation, as a society… but there will always be that sense of what’s been lost, what’s missing… because the basics haven’t changed. That knowledge makes unbridled happiness a stretch for now… but neither can it be allowed to ruin what’s left, so Pollyanna stumbles on, always up for good news.

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Still here… page 230

Day 361 – 03/12/2021

We’re hoping for a rainy weekend and there’s some falling now so it looks promising. Kim made Sunday omelets for breakfast because we didn’t eat ANYthing last weekend and the need was great. If I’ve counted right, Tuesday will be Day 365 since we moved this feast indoors, and our COVID immunity becomes official the next day. Timing is everything.

The Jayhawks beat OU last night to advance to the semi-finals of the Big 12 Tournament, so that was cool. Big Mac is out due to COVID protocols, but the team hung together and won by 7 points, after leading the whole game. Some years they gel just in time for the final curtain, but they usually get there.

Swiped this from Chris:

How to taste thyme: cook. -Patty

Feels like a slow news day… think I’ll curl up and enjoy the weather.

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It’s a WINDsday… page 229

The Mothership seeks us… Kim Smith – 03/10/2021

Day 359 – 03/10/2021

Blustery and 65º at 8am, and the Weather Channel says 76º this afternoon, so spring’s getting fairly serious around here. We even have our first weather warning, downgraded from YIKES to maybe, for tonight:

We’re in there between Topeka & KC…

The sun’s out and the patient’s catching a few rays for the pallor – things are definitely looking up. Neither of our elevators will be functional for a part of the afternoon so this feels like a day to do whatever sounds good next, right here – the stairs from 1st to 4th wouldn’t be a fun trip right now.

Talked with Rita and she’s been out walking on the warmer days, even when she’s at risk of being blown into the river, so I have to kick it in the butt and get out there with her next week, a worthy incentive.

Not a lot of news, Diary, even for the sake of posterity. For now we’re savoring the peaceful easy feeling that emanates from the White House, and being thankful. Wednesday will mark a full year numerically since we came inside on March 12, 2021 and closed our door, coinciding with the day our COVID immunity will be reached after our 2nd shots. On the 359th day, it looks like THE YEAR THAT WAS might go out the way it came in… on kitten feet, ready to pounce, much like March itself is known to do. All seems quiet on the American Front this week, but appearances are not to be trusted, so who knows what’s bubbling under the lid. It would be fun to think that April 1st has no plans for making fools of us, but once bitten forever shy, and eyes wide open.

I love the fresh air from the balcony, and all the outdoor sounds. Spring will have a holiday feel this year… our numbers are looking excellent and the city’s ready to celebrate outside its doors… in safe and sane ways, right #lfk? Douglas County has recorded some 8,700 coronavirus cases, with 79 deaths… and we’ve had only two new cases since Monday. Living in the midst of a university medical community, not to mention the university itself, holds decided perks which pay off beautifully in a pandemic, or any other potential challenge, so there’s everything to be grateful for. People here are smart enough to know that life’s too ridiculous to be taken seriously, but you gotta do right or somebody will be leaving the world early. Just makes sense.

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Tuesday on the line… page 228

Day 358 – 03/09/2021

Woke up yesterday morning in a killer mood, meaning if I could have righteously killed something I would have. Things hit me wrong all day, from the reminder of George Floyd’s cold-blooded murder (I fully accept the paradox of my own murderous thoughts) to flashes of the former guy’s face and name. WHY?? How can we miss him if he won’t go away? I gave you a break, Diary, and didn’t make you listen to the sordid details… I don’t want to carry any of it forward – let it die with yesterday, it was just inside me anyway.

This morning’s a new day and Kim’s on his feet for it so far… barely. He’s been so awesomely sick since last Friday that I think I’ve found another piece of the COVID puzzle for our household. I haven’t understood how I could be sick all year and he’s stayed healthy through the whole thing, but his reaction to his 2nd vaccination makes me think he DID contract the virus from me at some point (how could he NOT??) but stayed asymptomatic. It was very clear that his system wanted NOTHING TO DO with that invasive potion. I threw some of my questions out into the cosmos the other day, and this morning an answer came pinging back to me with this headline from ABC News:

FDA Authorizes New T-cell Test That Could Be Game Changer for COVID-19 Long Haulers

The new test is able to determine whether or not a human has had COVID-19 at some point, so if we run into a genuine need-to-know in the future, the fact that there’s a way to find out is a nice ace to hold.

My brain has felt disconnected from my body for the past week. Thoughts get halfway and stop. I forget what I hear. I started a board with Rita in Words with Friends after long absence, played two rounds, and forgot all about it. Finished a book, had to sit with it for a while to remember what the story was. It’s like maneuvering in a heavy wool fog, and it’s a relief to feel it lifting this morning. Kim goes to ground when he’s sick, deadly silent, sleeps, just wants to die without the commitment ’til it’s over, and he was ill enough to scare me a little, so that might be a clue as to why I found myself shutting down. My anger flares at things people say about COVID, and their devil-may-care approach to “controlling” it… the anguish America has been through… what we’ve done to our medical community… all the ways this may have done longterm damage to the health of the nation. I hurt for the people I love until I think I can’t stand it… and then we all hurt some more.

A long siege like this is hard on a Pollyanna – it’s our job to keep on the sunny side, to find the silver lining, to smile and dance ’til the curtain comes down… but after the energy’s gone, you sit with yourself like a book you once read in a dream, and you read it again, this time between the lines, and you get it… the song & dance was never your gig, not really. Bread & circuses, jesters, clowns, we seek out all the distractions there are… but finally, we each have to sit with just ourself for company and have an honest conversation about what’s real and what isn’t. If cognitive dissonance doesn’t shut the whole thing down with a bang, we’ll learn some things.

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Bits & pieces… page 227

Day 356 – 03/07/2021

It’s a sunny Sunday morning, but it’s quiet all up in here so far except for the steady murmur of the TV. Kim spent another rough night, so I’m trying to let him sleep it off, not the easiest thing in an open loft with one wall and few doors. I can “go deaf” and sleep ’til someone wakes me up, but he doesn’t have that handy defense. He’s gonna be fine, but coronavirus itself is something to be taken seriously in every way so no wonder the vaccine for it can temporarily knock us stem-winding. Zero regrets – it’s all part of our dues to keep living on the planet.

Past noon, and there’s a little bit of life in the house. We’ve been on a movie marathon for a while now, by which I mean Kim scans ’til something stops him, and 99% of the time it’s a winner. It might be something we never got around to seeing, or an obscure entry we’d never heard of, but he has the same nose for finding quality viewing as he does for finding the good parking spot. They’ve all been timely in some way, and most have had me in tears at least once, therefore cathartic. I ❤️ cheap therapy.

Spoiled Me missed out on her weekend breakfasts, so if Kimmers is dropping weight, I am too. I haven’t eaten enough to keep a flea alive since Christmas but my body hasn’t noticed because if you don’t move much, it’s all same-same in the end. The status quo needs work.

Truth, but won’t happen today because we’re just gonna hang right here until the immediate world squares itself a little, while we gear up for whatever’s next. Every day of this trek through the past year has meant something… and sometimes a day means “You got through this one, you did okay.”

Doing okay.

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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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It’s Thursday in America… page 225

Kim Smith 03/04/2021

Day 354 – 03/04/2021

This is the day. We’re here… March 4th. Word on the street is that Q is in charge, the former guy will be re-inaugurated today as America’s rightful president, JFK Jr. and Elvis will appear on the Capitol steps, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be impeached, and Mike Pence will turn into an actual Q-tip and spontaneously combust, setting off fireworks INSIDE the dome. It’s gonna be LIT, America! Meanwhile, Congress opted to take a skip day, which puts a damper on the fun and games, and I’m just gonna hide and watch while the dreams go somewhere to die. My sympathy to those who find themselves on the wrong side of history today.

We’re still bathed in pleasant temps and sunshine, and we have things to keep us occupied and moving forward, so that’s the plan. Kim’s morning and part of his afternoon are full, and this evening is our date with destiny at Sigler’s for second shots. I felt life returning as soon as we got the first one, and all the things I haven’t let myself think about for the past year are rising to the top again.

This picture my friend Ivy posted has all the feels in it and says things I want to but can’t. I don’t think he’ll mind if I save it in my diary for future times when I need its message…

Each successive generation of humans sees itself as the be-all-end-all to the world, but life goes on, over and over. We’ll soon be returning to a less-tethered lifestyle and I hope it will be with the intent to make things better than The Before. It would be a tragedy to have isolated ourselves for a year and learned nothing.

Good news, the Ship of State is afloat again.

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March, dun-dun-dun-D’oh… page 224

Day 353 – 03/03/2021

It was Saturday a minute ago, and not only is it somehow Wednesday, but we’re into a whole new month! Just when you think there’s nothing going on, so you fall out for a nap…

Sunshine RULES and we’re scheduled for a lunch meeting in Cielito’s courtyard today. I’m pretty excited about wearing real clothes, sitting (distanced) among #lfk peeps, and eating hot food straight out of a restaurant kitchen. It’ll be worth writing home about.

Tomorrow will be a landmark, with our second shots happening. I felt every day of the year it took to get here, no embellishment needed – I’m ready for the freedom of spirit the vaccine will eventually provide. And I hope someday there’s a test that will tell me what’s been going on inside my system all year… but this is my theory:

We voluntarily sheltered on March 12th of 2020, and sometime within that first week I got sick with body pain, chills, sweats, nausea, and a cough that wouldn’t quit. After three weeks, most of the symptoms fell off, but the cough has persisted all year. When I got sick again the day after Christmas, all the symptoms came back gangbusters, and I lost my sense of taste and smell that time around, both thankfully back now. My first coronavirus vaccine made me ill for three days with symptoms identical to the previous two cycles, which makes me think I had antibodies standing at the ready to fight the invaders because I brought the ugly-ass thing in here with me when we locked down.

The week before we came inside, there was an incident at the indoor pool involving both the water and the dressing room, which had been “taken care of” before I went there the next day. Coronavirus was already in town so my ESPN tells me I picked it up somewhere inside the facility and brought it home with me, because I’d been almost nowhere else – we were already being careful.

I have questions:

  • If the virus (or SOME virus) has been living in my body for a year, WTF has kept Kim immune to it, with his asthma?!
  • Testing wasn’t really a thing here yet when I needed one the first time, and the test I got after Christmas came back negative versus Rita’s positive, yet we had all the same symptoms, down to the oddest details. I didn’t cry or even think about it when the tech swozzled my nose and I’m pretty sure she didn’t get to the goods, so will the past twelve months remain a mystery?
  • If the clear thick stuff that comes up (sorry, Diary) is out of my lungs, what are the future implications? Am I coming to the end of something or the beginning?
  • So okay, something’s not right, will there be a way to right it? Will there be a way to even know definitively what this is? If it isn’t COVID then I should probably see what else they got, ’cause this doesn’t seem inclined to let go. It’s cunning… hits hard for two or three days and then hides again. Taunts me… “Feeling great, huh? Gonna do all sorts of stuff, huh? We’ll see… “

I was more than ready to shelter last year because I GET EVERYTHING, I really didn’t want this one, and I was terrified of Kim getting it. Irony is everything… he zips in and out of places all year and breathes free, while I play church mouse through the whole thing and get the ‘rona or its evil twin anyway. But a thought occurs… since I do tend to attract gremlins, staying out of the social bloodstream has been the best thing I could have done for everybody, me included, for every reason. I instinctively knew it at the outset, but didn’t know all the reasons, not by far, and I’ll never regret taking the guidelines seriously – what if I’d been out there freely shedding virus amongst those I know and love, for months on end? What if? Even masked, I would have been a menace because the coughing does not stop. In hindsight, I’m likely the one who gave it to Rita – she’s almost the only person except for Kim that I’ve had extended closer-than-six-feet unmasked contact with in the last twelve months. And you, Kev – stay well, dude. Wow, small circle!

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A Saturday P.S.

Image by Paula Belle Flores

You’re not imagining it, nobody seems to want to talk right now. Messages are brief and replies late. Talk of catch-ups on zoom are perpetually put on hold. Group chats are no longer pinging all night long.

It’s not you. It’s everyone. We are spent. We have nothing left to say. We are tired of saying ‘I miss you’ and ‘I can’t wait for this to end.’ So we mostly say nothing, put our heads down and get through each day.

You’re not imagining it. This is a state of being like no other we have ever known because we are all going through it together but so very far apart.

Hang in there my friend. When the mood strikes, send out all those messages and don’t feel you have to apologize for being quiet.

This is hard.

No one is judging.

Donna Ashworth, author of poetry book, ‘to the women’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/…/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp…

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Socked in… page 223

Day 349 – 02/27/2021

Saturday breakfast underway, with fog peering in our windows… Kim Smith – 02/27/2021

Picture Guy got out early this morning and walked for an hour, taking fog photos…

South Park
More South Park… in Stephen King mode
Kaw River bridge
The view from the cheap seats
Old power station
We’ll leave a light on for ya’.
8th & New Hampshire… home sweet home
Home Sweet Home for real… ready for the weekend.

If it gets into the 60s this afternoon and the sun comes through for us, Rita & I will probably walk again – these windows of opportunity are too good to miss right now.

We got a call from the pharmacy, scheduling our second shots, so things are moving right along. We’re on for March 4th, which has been widely touted as a possible date for mayhem on the part of Q if President Biden were to give his State of the Union that night. Most of Congress, the Supreme Court, and of course the President and Vice-President, will be inside the Capitol whenever the address does take place, so it’s a prime target. March 4th is also the date the former guy is supposed to magically burst onto the scene as SuperPresident and something, something, all will be well once again for the proud boys and girls and their various cohorts. So! Vaccination day could be FIRE! I’ll just be happy if I don’t get ghastly ill again, but it is what it is… I’m gonna go through some things, but I knew what I signed up for. 😎 😷 🎤

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More sunshine… page 222

Kim Smith 02/25/2021

Day 348 – 02/26/2021

Beautiful day in the neighborhood, sunny and crisp, and starting tomorrow it’s all daytime 50s and 60s for a week or so. Yay, my bones want out of these four walls for a bit!

I’m tuning out a lot of the shenanigans as we go along, but CPAC this year is LIT! All glitter and sequins and old military uniforms, and their very own golden calf for the QOP sanctuary. Somebody cobbled together a Bob’s Big Boy icon to make a DJT American Eagle Golden Idol and it’s everything – creepy, ridiculous, sorely misguided, and the capstone to this entire cultish gig they’ve got going. These particular Christians must not read the Old Testament… and when you’re in a cult, you don’t know you’re in a cult. Worshipping the Golden Ass… I feel safe in assuming many will kiss it. May whatsoever gods there be judge them fairly.

What can top that today for sheer chutzpah and laugh-my-ass-off entertainment? It’s still 2021 so my eyes are open.

Callooh callay, oh frabjous day!

The time has come, the Walrus said,
      To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —

Or maybe do something constructive.

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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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