A watershed week…

Dear Diary,

It’s been a while.

I found better things to do.

Love ya, mean it –

Me

.

I got my hug(s).
Hugs all around, all week.

The 4-year drought was broken this week when John Latta came to town for a few days, time enough to really connect again, with us and his Auntie Rita. The hours were pure joy, no rush, no big deal, just together. The phenomenon that is COVID has left us all standing, so far, at least… and that’s no small thing, with John working in its midst at the hospital from the beginning, and Rita and I managing to contract it despite our precautions. Kim comes out looking like a star, with his asthma and heart history… out there doing ALL THE THINGS all year, and never sick a day except for that nasty food poisoning. We know it isn’t over, but here we were, together again, and that was huge.

The four of us took a drive around Lawrence so John could be blown away by almost thirty years of growth and other changes on KU’s campus and the town since he moved to Atlanta, and that was fun, but after they’ve seen the big city they’re not all that easy to impress. 😊

The time between Monday afternoon and 9:00 this morning passed every bit as fast as we knew it would, but we packed a lot of good food, great laughs, and even better conversation into the hours. The Oncology RN with hospice skilz and an uncanny grasp of human nature was here long enough to quietly assess the health and wellbeing of the parental units, and he very graciously and seriously answered questions the three of us had about our health in general. It was a beautifully-timed visit, urged into action by the love and friendship of Kevin Bruce, and John’s partner Anthony, who both sensed it was time for the Mama to see Mr. John and vice versa. We agreed today on the way to MCI that we won’t let four years pass again before we see each other, no matter what tries to intervene… little things like broken bones, illnesses, insane scheduling, and pandemics. Meh, mere details.

I’ve been moody and weepy since about March of 2020, right through the election and its aftermath, even as things began to look more hopeful for the world… and I kept wondering when that other shoe would drop… when I’d feel some sort of resolution to the events of the past five years or so… when I might feel real again, with compelling reasons to still BE, and a genuine interest in pursuing all the good stuff in this third trimester of life. The errant shoe found a solid landing this week when John’s plane touched down, and the hours before he boarded again for home were valuable beyond measure.

My deepest gratitude to the people who love us – they help us keep life as it CAN be, at its best.

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The weekend…

It’s hot, people, DAMN hot! One evening it was a little too chilly and breezy for the balcony, the next morning it was too hot to sit out there, that’s how it works in Kansas. We broke 100º a few days in a row, which is benign unless you were used to a chill wet spring right up to that point. It’s great, though, it’s exactly what we asked for… sun and warmth… and we’ve been all about it. Yesterday, Rita came over for tuna salad sammiches with all the other good summer stuff, and the three of us spent the afternoon in the pool out on the Ponderosa, doing that thing white people do… getting “a little color.” If Eastern European skin pigment is superior, why do we instinctively know that anything other than pasty white looks and feels better? Make it make sense, universe.

Now we’re slated for a few days of cool-down, and maybe some rain again. Helps when it doesn’t all hit at once without letup, and it feels a little sauna-like today, so maybe there are full clouds on their way.

Speaking of without letup… Arizona ballots from a federal election have now been transferred to a private compound in Montana where they’re being scrutinized for “bamboo fragments” and other imagined irregularities.

  1. How is this even real?
  2. How can it possibly be legal?
  3. Bamboo fragments?

And now other red states are clamoring for their own cyber-ninjas and never-ending “audits.” Make it make sense, please.

In the continuing standoff between the science-inclined and the boogeyman-believers, the latter insist that their guy be given credit for a vaccine they refuse to take, and there’s nothing in this world that can make sense of that, so I’ve done entirely enough thinking until at least Monday morning.

Ready for a lazy afternoon. Ready for sammies and beer. Ready for baseball, so bring it, Royals, our golden boys of summer…

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We carry on…

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

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

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

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

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

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Feelin’ froggy…

Much happened in the past week, but with little outward change to show for it. The partisan divide that we hoped would begin to resolve after the former guy left only continues to intensify, making agreement on any matter a bridge too far for Congress. This week’s most heinous example: Benghazi somehow required ten investigations and thirty-three hearings, but the assault on our Capitol and democratic rule doesn’t merit even a second look by some of the very people who were under direct threat. Those senators who voted against sanity haven’t succeeded in concealing anything, most especially their own cowardice, and shamefully two of those people “represent” Kansas, which makes me want to hop a bus and flee the state.

Dan, never my type, is my late-life crush… I love him for his mind.

As usual, though, the week’s haul of good stuff has weighed more AND been worth its weight in gold… and when it comes to good news, the small things are the big things…

1.) Douglas County has brought COVID case numbers down to near zero, so protocols are being relaxed. At SPL the announcement was made on Thursday “NO MASKS REQUIRED” (for the fully vaccinated) and those old PickleBallers were celebrating.

2.) The Royals have been fun to watch and are playing some really good baseball, looking more and more like the cohesive team they’ve shown they can be.

3.) Food is a friend again, both good and bad news but definitely more fun – I polished off a hot beef sandwich at Kelley’s again on Thursday like I’d been chopping firewood all morning, and then snacked all afternoon. Um, yikes.

4.) The best thing this week was a text convo with John and this shot of him wearing a t-shirt brought to him from Ghana by a co-worker he mentored. The map and trim are made from kente, Ghana’s national fabric.

The guy in the t-shirt looks to have weathered a year-plus of COVID by getting younger, a nice bonus I wasn’t expecting for him, all things considered. We last hugged him, in Atlanta, in the spring of 2017, which my remaining math skilz tell me was four years ago. I was thinking it had been two or maybe three years, so the realization that four years have passed is putting me in a time warp. Life has intervened since 2017 – broken bones, illness, schedules, commitments, and COVID have all combined to keep us hug-less – but love and trust and silliness and blessed technology have made up the difference in sweet welcome ways and all is well. Life is life, we’re all adults here, it goes on. Still, universe… a hug would be nice.

It’s a chilly Saturday but people have been going back and forth to Farmer’s Market all morning so there’s life in the neighborhood. The pulse of #lfk is quickening, week by week, as people crawl out of their caves and shelters and venture forth again, and I’m here for it even when it’s just from my 4th-floor perch. In retrospect, the past year seems like a Dark Age with only the ghost light left on for guidance… and coming through and out of it feels like winning. No victory comes without loss, but it’s sweet nonetheless – humans are designed for progress and positivity, it’s our bread and water and we move on. I’m deeply grateful on this gray weekend that everyone whose love and caring I depend on, everyone whom I love beyond telling… has survived the pandemic. That’s something 600,000 American families can’t say this morning and my heart breaks that it’s true… so I’m inexpressibly grateful. We’ll still get a chance for those hugs one of these days…

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And now it’s Monday…

It was a windy, rainy Sunday but happy and cozy all up in here, and I heard from my claim to motherhood first thing, working the holiday to help cover for all the moms, sons, and daughters who called out for the day. There was a perfect omelet and a spa soak… a Royals-White Sox game (we lost, but baseball is Zen even on a bad day)… peach malt smoothies… veggie lasagna for dinner… and I’m seeing a definite festive food pattern here.

A belated Happy Mom’s Day to all who signed up in any way.

Speaking of parenthood… the concept has somehow worked, after a fashion, down through the millenia, without improving massively during that time. It’s still a nebulous proposition, given that the scenario is always an original. First-time Mother Human meets new Baby Human, and neither has a clue, so they do the best they can with what they know at the time. Later, they realize they could have done better with more knowledge and experience… but since it doesn’t work that way, we’re all golden if we live through it and end up friends. I call that a win, and my job is to care for the relationship.

Nurturing each other, from inside or outside the confines of family, requires a compassion that takes in the whole picture, isn’t easily come by, and is always costly in some way.

My first instinct is to try to understand where someone’s coming from, in the interest of real communication, but after 25 years, I’m admitting defeat in the face of fascism’s propaganda arm, whose steady onslaught of conspiracy theories and general nonsense has been unrelenting and stops intelligent conversation in its tracks. Its presence in the world is an oppressive gray curtain, masking and obscuring clarity and truth, seemingly impenetrable after a quarter-century. It astounds me that they’re still in business… until I remember the 71 million keeping them there.

The Pro Wrestling of news…

There are clearly limits and roadblocks to human understanding, but given even half a chance I’ve been known to try for it anyway. It’s the Pollyanna in me that won’t quit, and in the face of pandemics and upheavals… no apologies.

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The ties that bind…

Kim Smith – 05/01/2021

Yesterday Rita and I talked about writing, which we agreed journaling isn’t, not really – saying what we think and feel doesn’t make us writers. But we also agreed that we’re grateful we can both put words down in a way that lessens the angst, clears the view, and starts loosening some of the knots. Her journal is REO – Rita’s Eyes Only, whereas I throw my thoughts to the four winds in case another human might be encouraged by my bad example. Also, I’m past the statute of limitations on caring about perceptions, which is intoxicating, so someone stumbling onto my site on any given day might come face-to-face with most anything, from politics to nostalgia, usually a heavy mix of both.

Nostalgia is uppermost today, with thoughts of the big ol’ family I once knew claiming my attention. Grandpa was the head of the clan, but Grandma was the Queen Bee, and we all wondered how cohesive the family would be once they were both gone. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that without Grandma especially, it was a bridge too far and our diaspora across the country and the planet… illness and death… partisan politics… other life factors… have proven too much for the bonds that once held us. We’re scattered, but also divided, which was inevitable since blood is only ONE of the ties that bind humans together, and on its own isn’t enough. There are generations of cousins I don’t know and never will, a circumstance every family experiences in our move-anywhere world… but difficult news this morning about a family member I did know well has set the memory machine in motion. I’m the one who preaches about life being all ABOUT change, but some of it is incredibly hard to absorb when it gets here. My generation is second in line for family seniority, though, so absorb we will.

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It helps to know something that Grandma & Grandpa instinctively understood…

Enough has always meant: A place to belong, a reason to BE, the requirements for survival, and family. The past year has imbedded a lot of lessons and among them is this… we have to be enough, in ourselves, alone, in order to survive this life. The good news is… it’s doable.

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Good times…

Kim Smith 04/16/2021

A good thing to do on a rainy Friday is to make your own fun, so we took Rita to the restaurant where we had the killer roast beast the other day. She and I ordered the meatloaf, trusting that it would be the real deal, and there may actually be a god somewhere because our Aunt Bette could have made this one. Plus real mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans… and enough meatloaf left over for Rita to make a nice big sammie later, the best part of the whole meal. This time Kim had warm peach pie ala mode, and I took my requisite bite(s). Yes, it was good… but one day soon I have to remind both Kimmers and Rita that I’m the champion peach-pie maker of all time. In seventeen years I’ve made exactly one for Kim, so long ago he has no memory of it, but it’s the best, write that down, and it needs to happen at least one more time. We had a nice little drive over there in the rain… and back… and now it’s a “destination place.” Kim said monthly, I was thinking weekly…

Lunch was one of those sweet little chunks of life when everything feels right, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough. We’re in a new little town, in an establishment new to us, twice now, but we haven’t felt new there the way you do in some places. We might be chagrined to know that we’re sitting bold-faced in a roomful of dyed-in-the-wool MAGA faithfuls, but it doesn’t have that vibe at all… in fact, I just realized that I haven’t seen a single red cap there so far, and everyone comes in masked. Just this week alone, the news from the camo-and-neckbeard side of society has been crushing beyond words, with one after another Black unarmed citizen, often underage, shot on sight by police who are either terrified by the specter of black skin or it triggers an urge to kill… or both.

And Pam Bondi called Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha killer, 17 years old, “a little boy.” Depends on which POV you’re trying to sell, I guess. Whatever it is… it’s.too.much.

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I’ve totally fasted from the news today, which I’m highly recommending to myself as a repeat event – it’s made that Old Home Week lunch settle delightfully.

Sweetness being at a premium, we tend to soak it up like flowers in the rain, and today has been nurturing. I’m looking out at the light rain still falling, and how green the world is, just since yesterday, with leaves already obscuring the neighborhood… and reminding me to appreciate… everything. Especially the guy who leadfoots us around the countryside to seek adventure and do exploits, while listening to our nonstop blather without hearing most of it.

That guy asked me about Ramadan the other night and what it entails. I told him that among other things it’s an entire month of fasting from morning ’til night, and then people gather at sundown to celebrate with food.

HIM: Oh, that’s why they’re called Ramadan Noodles!

ME:

HIM: And the people stay in Ramadan Inns, right?

ME:

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Tuesday-ing right along…

Kim Smith 03/21/2021

Yesterday was an eventful day… I took a stroll over to the barbershop so that’s one thing done for now, and I got an epidural at the Pain Clinic in the afternoon. Had an allergic reaction to one of the cocktail ingredients in the injection because WHY NOT?? but Kim got Claritin and it worked for me in time to watch USC crush the Jayhawks in the NCAA. Since everybody missed out on the tournament last year we’ve been watching lots of basketball this time around and all the games are fun, no matter who’s playing… except for this one. Decidedly not fun… 3rd-biggest loss in Jayhawk b-ball history. But Shelby told me a story while she was cutting my hair: Someone in their family March Madness pool thought the higher the little numbers in front of the team names, the better they were, so she filled out her bracket with 16s… and she’s winning most of the upsets! 😂

It’s been birthday week/month for both John and Kim, and today Kimmers finally became a card-carrying member of my decade, bless his heart. We took Rita Jo with us to Ottawa for his semi-traditional b’day lunch at Luigi’s, which was fun and delicious, not to mention our first dine-in experience in more than a year, if memory serves. And with linens and nice cutlery, no less! Birthday boy got his Shrimp Diablo, so he had a good day. Also there was wine, because it isn’t good to keep things bottled up.

So… yeah… this blog remains a journal until life opens up and starts happening again. Just getting it out there, still, remembering where we’re going so when we arrive I’ll know it. I’m not a writer, I’m a sifter of events and a wise-ass keeper of the record. Poetry and haiku used to bounce around in my head in The Before Time and I hope that will come back soon, along with thoughts that go beyond the same tired old arguments.

We heard babies cry today and squeal from happiness… and watched people doing life together in a way that seemed awfully familiar. And we met the new owner of Luigi’s after lunch, a young woman named Kristin knocking it out of the park in her first week, who took us through the upstairs of the old building, where there’s a dance floor and a speakeasy. It was a good day… rainy and sweet and full of humanity. And Kim doesn’t seem to mind reaching a nice round number at last.

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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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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 only 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 for months 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 think 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 be 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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Crawling right along… page 226

Day 355 – -3/06/2021

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

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

From a fellow traveler…

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

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

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

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A Thursday… page 221

Kim Smith 02/23/2021

Day 347 – 02/25/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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The thaw… page 220

Kim Smith – 02/23/2021

Day 345 – 02/23/2021

Let the record show that on February 23rd at 10am I walked around on my balcony barefoot and was.not.cold. It’s 66º now at 2pm, I have the door wide open to the fresh air, and I realize I may never have known a year when I was more ready for spring. Rita came by for me this morning, we picked up coffee, and went down by the river where we walked from the Mass St. bridge to the boathouse and back, which has to be at least a mile. Felt amazing and there were quite a few fellow Lawrencians out. We drove around for a while afterward, finding the best route to the river for next time (better parking, closer to the boathouse) looking at historic houses in the neighborhood, and generally frittering away a beautiful morning.

When I got home, Kim had left for PickleBall (I spaced it off) and I was locked out, but that was easily fixed because Leon and Thomas were working on the doors to the trash building and I prevailed on Leon’s kindness for a master key. I love living here… this spot, and #lfk overall – the we-care-about-people vibe comes through, under and over everything else. Rita drove me past the hospital a little way and showed me Lawrence’s tent city for our homeless population through the winter and the pandemic – makes me feel even better about where we are and the humans we live among. They’ve built wooden structures with peaked white-tent tops in a fenced area that seems fairly isolated and safe. And just up the street they’ve broken ground for a rehabilitation center… bless you, my homies.

I couldn’t see for the sun, but I took a few pics anyway… and this is why Kim’s the photographer in the family.

Off the dirt onto the walking path…
A frozen tributary
Somebody’s hooch. Had to squint at the “TV.”
Riverbend…

The next two days won’t be outdoor days, but the weekend looks promising.

And with that, I’m sitting here looking out the window and word comes through that Tiger Woods has been injured in a rollover crash, extracted via Jaws of Life, and he’s in surgery for multiple leg injuries. There’s never been a predictable day of life for any human who’s breathed oxygen… but you really don’t need to try so hard, 2021, to outdo last year.

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