Life Force

An established habit, good or bad, is hard to break, so my first impulse every morning on my way back from the bathroom is to put something in writing. That starts my clock, shapes my mood, and sets the day in the starting blocks. Today feels like the Friday it is – the sun’s dazzle has prevented us from opening the blinds yet and it’s a good omen when the future’s so bright you gotta wear shades! 😎

I managed to toast a bagel to perfection this morning and didn’t burn my fingers getting the veggie schmear right… it’ll be 50s and sunny today… the laundry’s caught up except for a little stack of leggings and t-shirts to fold… and I have only one daunting phone call to make, telling a medicare entity “I do not owe this bill. Thank you.” Easy slide into the weekend…

It isn’t telling someone to “back off, Jack” that’s daunting, it’s the talking-on-the-phone part because I have a mental block about it since losing my hearing, even though bluetooth puts the conversation directly into my ears/brain. I dread encountering an accent that I’m slow to grasp, making me sound like a finicky white-woman. I assume that people will talk too fast, too muffled, too dismissively… but those roadblocks seldom actually occur. I’ve simply turned into a social chicken – it’s a lot of work, I’ve been there done that, and couldn’t we handle this via more advanced technology? I like my comfort zone, but my access is being noticeably tampered with this month. When Kim was trying not to die recently of what may have been extreme food poisoning, I made three trips to Stabby Dillons in as many days – the girl who hadn’t been in a store in an entire year – and lived to tell the story. There’s the occasional business detail that can’t move forward without my say-so, thus requiring an appearance or an assurance via phone call that I am indeed ME, which is a definite Comfort Zone Violation. But… I will make that call today and I’ll finesse the shit out of it, and won’t even miss the comfort I’ve sacrificed. Then, as conditions improve and people can mingle again, the Zone will shrink further, perhaps even to a healthy level at some point (?) making social interaction a no-brainer… and that’s when I’ll really miss the ol’ CZ. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜·

Twitter’s a complete minefield today, the Jayhawks don’t play until tomorrow, it’s too chilly for balcony time… what to do, what to do. It would be just darling if I accomplished something, so I’m giving that some thought…

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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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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 β€” and ships β€” and sealing-wax β€”
      Of cabbages β€” and kings β€”

Or maybe do something constructive.

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Friday, new day… page 218

Day 341 – 02/19/2021

Sunlight’s pouring through the blinds this morning, we’re supposed to break 32ΒΊ this afternoon, and I feel like I’m emerging from a coma. In three weeks, with a few brief exceptions, I will have been staying inside these walls for a year. The silence, the gradual loosening of connections to the world, the can’t-give-a-shit, and the brain fog of COVID wove a web around me and extracted a price. But my head is crystal clear today for the first time in months and all I want to do is EVERYTHING. There are loose ends hanging all over the place – stuff to do so I can keep moving and get life underway again, in here first so I’ll be ready for “out there” by Christmas. It’s a goal that suddenly seems within reach – “Oh, you’re AWAKE, let’s do something!”

The day promises other sunshine goodies. I found a little stack of mail on the verge of expiring and opened all of it in time for deadlines, whew. I’ve had affirming text chats with two online friends that will keep me on the sunny side all morning, and I got all girly again, with real clothes, just because it felt like time, and because a real other human may step inside our house and spend some time with us. It’s just past 10am and the possibilities are breathtaking.

Tomorrow’s a story with sweet possibilities of its own, but right now today’s a really good day to BE.

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Rockin’ & Rollin’… page 209

Day 327 – 02/05/2021

Yesterday turned interesting before it was all over – we’d put our names on the list at our pharmacy for vaccinations, and at 4:30 they called to say a few people didn’t show up and would we like to come get our shots, as they had to be used. Oh, YES WE WOULD, so we put on shoes and went out there, and SHAZAM, the thing we’ve wondered about, waited for, thought might be a figment of our imaginations, is underway. Yay! I mean, I’m a homebody, but DAMN, there was a place or two I liked to go!

The FIRST thing is to wait out my reaction to the shot – chills, sweats, body aches, and nausea. I feel just like I did every day I was not sick with COVID according to the swab test. Pretty sure that means the vaccine is working so my body’s fighting it, and I may also have gained some antibodies, which despise COVID. They’ll duke it out for a couple of days and we’ll all go on, I’m just glad to be halfway through the process already. Went back to bed at 8:30 this morning, covered up my head, and slept for three more hours. No improvement yet, but at least I know what’s going on.

Tried to eat Lipton Noodle Soup for lunch, but ended up back in bed for another four hours of sleep – out cold. And now I actually do feel better – nuked those noodles and put ’em in my belly! That’s ONE way to get to the end of a day.

Annnnd feeling awful again, but it will likely all be a memory by tomorrow and we’ll stand by for the next thing…

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Friday it is… page 202

Day 320 – 01/29/2021

Yesterday lived up to its billing, and the sun’s shining this morning. Life… it goes on. Kev came by last night and we fed him street tacos and got caught up – so good. Next, Typhoid Mary and I need to pick up where we left off, now that we’re both apparently over the ‘rona. I miss her like rock misses roll and I need to laugh at her funny self again.

I put on eye makeup yesterday for Kevin’s benefit, and this morning my peepers are all puffy, red, and teary. So what NOW, 2020-Extended-Version, have I become allergic to eye shadow after not wearing it for a year? Must I present as a lizard for the remainder of my days? Hardly seems fair… I’m such a good kid as far as anybody knows.

Speaking of good kids… I love all of these ones:

And especially today, to every nurse, doctor, medical person, thank you with everything I am for all that makes you YOU. For showing up shift after 12-hour shift, pulling extras when somebody doesn’t make it in… working via smoke and mirrors on little sleep… treating an illness you often can’t make better… most of you in the pressure cooker without tests or shots for the past year… like the rest of us, if we were all under insane stress every minute. I want THIS for you when it’s all over, you brazen caring souls who make it out of the fire day after day:

Also there’s this, so…

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Sunrise… page 196

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/22/2021

Day 313 – 01/22/2021

I fell asleep last night with a quiet sense of peace that’s been absent for too long – it felt amazing. And when I woke up this morning my first impulse wasn’t to check the news for overnight disasters emanating from Washington DC, specifically one big white house located there. I could get used to this.

All of the other crises roll inexorably forward, but these few days of taking a deep breath are already erasing some of the fallout from what we just survived. President Biden faces a monumental task in raising us out of the COVID pit we were left to wallow in; fortunately, he’s the man for the moment. We’re almost certain to lose another 100,000 Americans by the end of February, if not sooner, and it’s a job for the ultimate experts to get us through this horrendous failure of leadership without our losing hundreds of thousands more. Apparently the production of vaccines was semi-ramped up, with a stingy outlook to the future, and no roll-out plans for getting the preventative into our arms. I checked Douglas County’s COVID information site just now to find that our vaccination status is currently late-spring to early-summer, and that’s just the first shot. By the time we wait the required interval and get our second vaccination, then keep on keeping to ourselves until the numbers drop appreciably, we can count on another year of this. I’ll never forget that it didn’t have to be this way.

I’ve aged in here, from the inside out… by fifteen years at least, and most of it in the past year. My heart has grown a protective crust; I find it harder to forgive; I will not suffer fools; I’m grumpy with the people I love most, and snippy with friends. I’m inattentive, self-absorbed, quite often oblivious to what’s going on with the humans I care about. On the outside, I look more like my Grandma Wagner by the day, my turkey neck rivals Mitch McConnell’s, and I’ve acquired what John called at age four “soggy arms.” I may be stuck with most of that, it just sort of happens when you sit around and get old – but I can shed a lot of the inside stuff, and I can work seriously on doing that now that the air’s been cleared. It starts with being just as real as I always try to play it.

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Snow day… page 190

Day 306 – 01/15/2021

We have blowing snow and cold temps this morning, which calls for biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon & sausage, and a spa soak. Sometimes it’s good to be quarantined.

The information spigot is still gushing after the coup attempt, but with our anti-fascist forces, the true ANTIFA, on the J-O-B, my anxiety has taken a dip for now.

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Makes it easier to appreciate good stuff from my friend Steve…

FOUND IN COMMENTS: Fun nerd fact, the candy banana flavor we are all familiar with is based on the Gros Michel Banana. That was the original commercially available banana, which was nearly wiped out by a fungus in the 1950s. We then switched commercial bananas to the Cavendish which was resistant to the fungus and is now what everyone knows as the standard banana. Therefore, artificial banana flavor is based on a banana that almost no one born after 1958 has ever tasted.

As a 1947 baby, I must have known real bananas.

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New Year’s Day 2021… page 181

Day 292 – 01/01/2021

We woke up to fat snowflakes this morning and neighborhood flaws are being covered over hour by hour while I watch from my windows. Perfect way to observe a fresh start when everybody needs that more than anything, and now a little light is filtering through and making the snow look like fondant.

Our neighbors’ balcony

Kim says if he had more chutzpah than good sense he’d go down to the river and take pictures, but since we both know how that stacks up, he’s still here by the fire. Across the street, though, the little 3-year-old is out with his daddy, shoveling porches and sidewalks like a boss.

Our New Year’s Not-Rockin’ Eve was sweetly chill. Kim made Tortellini Bisque and garlic bread, we toasted to endings and beginnings, stayed up past midnight to escort 2020 out the door, shook the dust off our psyches, and burrowed our way into blessed sleep. We celebrated this morning with the Saturday breakfast on Friday, which will mean Sunday breakfast on Saturday, and a waffled-up Sunday morning. These rebel hearts will never be tamed…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 01/01/2021

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Christmas Day… page 175

Day 285 – 12/25/2020

When you’re feeling old, tired, and beat up there’s much to be said for simplicity, and after the butt-wippin’ known as 2020, the simpler the better. Subscribing to that point of view, Rita made a yummy breakfast casserole and brought crescent rolls and champagne, with fresh raspberries for muddling. Kim made a skillet apple crisp served with vanilla bean ice cream and warm caramel sauce. Delicious, fun, and clean-up took mere minutes. Preston was not in a mood to be adventurous and get out of the car, even for a potty break, so Rita took him home around 2:00 and now they’re napping. Elma FaceTimed her while she was here to show her all her gifts and I got to see and say hi to Matt. It’s been a sweet day, a little microcosm of connection.

John’s habit since he started his nursing career has been to work on December 24th and 25th to allow a colleague with kids to be home with them, so that’s where he is today. I miss him so much my heart feels shredded, but he’s right where he needs to be and it’s all okay. He made sure to have his own celebration, which makes this heart a little happier. Missing lots of family… the holidays bring it to the surface in ways you can’t say no to and I’m sending a little prayer out into the universe that Christmas 2021 won’t feel like this one.

We create our own happiness, our own sweetness, our own peace, and we did a good job of that today. Rita always brings the joy, and great food, and the love. Life is good. πŸ’™

As we get ready to close out a year we can’t wait to see the backside of…

A silent salute to all we’ve lost in 2020…

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Friday smiles… page 169

Day 278 – 12/18/2020

I slept through the sun’s bold appearance this morning and by the time I opened my eyes everything had faded to gray – early bird gets the pageantry. Kim came in after his walk and threatened me with icy fingers but this lump of Zen was not having it. He played PickleBall outdoors at SPL yesterday and they’d planned to do that again today, but the wind’s coming up so he might be trapped… yikes. We may be forced to have another nice soak just to put the day on track.

It’s Friday, which is always fairly stunning now… the days are sometimes endless but the weeks and months disappear like smoke. So… the weekend. All the same stupid, scary shit that was out there yesterday is still there today, only more so, having bred and multiplied overnight… but I’m deciding to subtract it from my conscious existence until Monday morning. I’ll see things, I’ll read things, they’ll simply be none my bidness ’til I say so.

The Jayhawks won last night… by 1 point. They’ll forever be the Heart Attack Kids – they’re like Mr. Patrick Mahomes, who undoubtedly did ALL his book reports on Sunday night before the school quarter ended. Energizing, to say the least.

We finished The Queen’s Gambit… reluctantly… last week, and I’m ready to watch it all over again NEXT week. Stellar production, best overall series in a long time, just too brief.

In the interest of strengthening my resolve to keep on the sunny side, I raided my California-by-way-of-North-Dakota friend Steve’s timeline again…

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Hello, #lfk weekend… let’s do this.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith, Kaw River, 12/18/2020, no editing

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Grabbing for the good… page 162

Day 271 – 12/11/2020

Our weather change has arrived in temporarily-benign form… high of 45ΒΊ today, in the 30s tomorrow, and 20s on Sunday, with chances of rain and maybe snow throughout. The good-idea man decided that on a wet chilly morning, making the Saturday breakfast on Friday would be just the ticket, and that man was so right. It was perfect, and he knows how to keep me quiet for a while…

Last night we watched the 2010 remake of “True Grit” with Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, et.al., which neither of us had ever seen. Wow, what fun. Can’t go wrong with Coen Brothers! And Kim thought he’d seen ALL their stuff. Hailee Steinfeld was luminescent in this one, the writing is stellar, and, well… that cast.

After my usual foray into Facebook and Twitter this morning, and catching up on the headlines, I’m already taking evasive measures against the Blue Meanies, lest they crash my day for me. Cousin Michael passed this along…

Helpful…

The asparagus ferns on the balcony finally succumbed to cold temps and the fact that we forgot to water them, so we cut the planters free this morning and Kim hauled them down to the bin. They went above and beyond this year, and the balcony looks naked without them. Don’t think we’ll be spending a lot of time out there in the immediate future, though, so we’ll get over it.

Borrowing some inspiration from my North Dakota friend Steve Gelder this morning because despite what I’ve seen and read in my first hours awake, I can’t afford to spend today crying.

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Friday… page 155

Day 264 – 12/04/2020

Never know what mood morning will deliver after a night’s sleep full of murky but seemingly significant dreams. I slept well last night but woke up near tears, so who knows. We have sunshine and low 50s this afternoon and Kim’s out west playing PickleBall on SPL’s outdoor courts – and temps through at least next Thursday say that could happen a few more times, depending on wind. I’m never so happy for him as when he can be outside living his best life.

Meanwhile, I’m here looking at a desk that needs attention and hoping today’s energy allotment hits soon. May have to fall asleep to TV news while I wait…

Yeah, that happened. Still don’t hate the condition of my workspace enough to fix it.

Some days, Diary, are just days. And yet not, because life is still out there and things are happening and I can’t stop thinking about ANY of it. I was struck yesterday by this quote:

“Joseph Campbell said that the command to love our neighbor is obviously one of the hardest of all religious concepts. But to recognize our connection to others goes to the core of life’s mystery, and when you live as if it’s so – you are threading yourself into the long-train of history and the fabric of civilization. Perhaps the simplest way to say it is that ‘We’re all in this together. We are all first responders to one another.'” – Bill Moyers

Ended my afternoon with this – joyful, amazing, incredibly moving. Powerful therapy.

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Black Friday… page 150

Day 257 – 11/27/2020

Can’t remember why it’s called Black Friday but I’ve never done one and this year would be an incredibly stupid time to start. Kim said Mass Street was quiet this morning so the stores didn’t open early for sales – maybe #lfk isn’t going to the dance this time around.

I’m seeing lots of Twitter comments about crying jags and teary breakdowns on The Day After. I have a feeling we stayed home and did it right, all brave and stiff-upper-lipped, and today the knowledge of everything we’ve lost is proving too heavy. Will there ever be a road back to what we knew and believed to be real?

This day feels ponderous to carry so I’ll have to break it up into livable chunks – sixteen unbroken hours of staying awake for it is unmanageable. Tried not to write about it, but I can’t go all day without breathing. Tried not to talk about it to Kim but he’s the only one here. Looking for a diversion in the bottom of the toy box that will take me outside myself and into the sunlight. Feels like it will be a long winter, with days and days of isolation and uncertainty, so I gotta figure it out, I can’t whine my way through another year of this. And by the time a vaccine gets final approval, a distribution system is in place, and we’ve all received our two shots with a month between, it will most likely take that long. Then we’ll have to keep wearing masks and social distancing until we achieve community transmission reduction. Long haul ahead, Mama, pull up your big-girl undies.

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Ah, sweet limbo… page 144

Day 250 – 11/20/2020

So the Cult of Trump has decided to shoot for the moon, overturn what election officials are calling the most secure election in modern history, impose herd immunity/mentality on the nation, and continue ruling from the minority because they say so. The inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, who have been duly elected by a margin of 6 million votes and an insurmountable electoral total, is constitutionally set for January 20, 2021. It remains to be seen how desperate Donald Trump is to keep that from happening, not a happy thought to entertain since he holds the power to burn it ALL down on his way out.

So far, most of the serious GOP discussions available for public consumption have followed this template…

It’s been hard to sort things out post-election, but a couple of areas stick out to me in the puzzle department…

Actually worth fighting a war in the streets over?
Because those are just words.

We have to recognize that voting isn’t what it used to be. We’d put an X by the person we preferred over the other one, usually two decent human beings, wait for the results, and work to make our party better if we lost. That innocent landscape has changed since I first cast a vote in the 60s, and the current state of the union means that when one candidate is a genuine quality human being and the other is not, our vote becomes a personal statement of our code of ethics and life view and we don’t even have to tell anybody what box we marked – it’s apparent from our choices, our loyalties, and how we live out our lives.

This perpetually-hopeful Pollyanna is more convinced than ever that we’re not only two nations, we speak two different languages and live in separate realities, primarily because we follow two diametrically-opposed news feeds and retain what we see and hear. Trust and respect have been lost between us and we don’t know how to talk to each other anymore.

Hope tells us we could fix it all somehow, but hope seems to have taken a hike and wants no part of it. Even hope can’t breathe without communication, and it’s a slow death. πŸ–€

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