Rain = Life

Rain, rain, do please stay… go away some other day… because there’s something about rainy days and Mondays that starts a week off right. Kim has razzleberry muffins just out of the oven, the leaves are blowing, and fall is settling in. Rain always makes a fresh start seem doable…

And I know it’s Monday and all… but a less-than-Monday outlook is permissible whenever we say so.

Over these past two years, immersed in a pandemic and a simultaneous attack on democracy, I think we Americans have a new realization about the importance of inner (and outer) rest… peace of mind and heart… freedom from threat. The way of life we value has taken on a vastly deeper meaning in the face of loss, and rest doesn’t come easy… but we can’t survive without giving in to it.

When everything within and without is in turmoil, it’s a challenge to stay focused on what matters… so along comes a rainy day to wash away the dust…

I’m heading for a nice hot soak with the Muffin Man, for which my beloved old bones will thank me. We’re in October of a year that hardly seems to have registered in key ways… beat up, jangled, but still truckin’ down the road… and good things are happening. Life continues…

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Onward to the weekend…

The pandemic that will never end rolls on day by day while the world’s people argue themselves and their children into early graves over it. Since I have no words left and it’s not my job to save people from themselves, my focus has turned more and more to the ones who want to stay alive and be in harmony with other humans.

It isn’t easy to keep showing up for a world that’s crumbling beneath your feet, with people who despise everything you stand for. But keep your head up and keep on walking through the muck and ugliness – and LOOK!… fall is here just in time to help with that.

Things happen every day that make us question our very existence and how long it can be maintained, so thank you to the smilers, the laughers, the lovers who don’t let us forget where the good stuff is.

There’s nothing there for you… move on.
Vitally important…

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Leaving this here because it makes me inordinately happy…

Thank the universe for people with loving hearts and a lack of harmful ego. For those whose sense of humor heals us. For the ones who hold us together when we’re coming apart. For the people who look us in the eye and tell us the truth… and love us thereby. The world’s a mess and ever shall be, but facing it together makes it doable.

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Seasons of change…

***

Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority
.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils
.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket…
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

**

Jane Kenyon, “Three Songs at the End of Summer” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by The Estate of Jane Kenyon. 

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Not my job, man…

Liberating thought of the week: It is not my job to save you from yourself.

Thank you, universe, the answers always come if we can be patient enough.

So here’s the thing: when you’re the firstborn, it’s all on you in ways you don’t get until much later… but it’s a fact that when you’ve been an only child ’til close to five, you decide you know everything and are large and in charge. The role fit my justice-driven little mindset and I owned all the bossy responsibility, except for the hard work – that was Rita’s job. And now in my dotage, I’m still trying to order my personal world the way I like it. Is that misguided or what? Who does that?? The things we absorb in childhood soak into our DNA and take up residence as part of us… so sorting it all out isn’t an assignment for sissies. But if what you really want is for life not to continue along the same deepening rut, you have to change something… the only thing I can change is me, and I’m old, boys and girls, so wish me luck. Except for the obvious negatives, I don’t mind being an Old, I just don’t want to exemplify the stereotype, so I’m patiently sifting through the wreckage for the answers to life. It’s okay, I wasn’t really doing anything anyway…

It’s a beautiful September morning here and Kim’s enjoying it on the PickleBall courts while I perform that trick called waking up, even though I crawled out mere minutes after 7am. Despite, or possibly due to, a lifetime as a farmgirl, I’m this person:

*****

The following thought from Charles Blow has stuck with me all week, because how often do we do this to each other? Let’s be honest, it happens daily. We’re full of our own thoughts, plans, and woes, putting one foot in front of the other, and we miss the fact that somebody felt unappreciated because of our lack of attention to their own essential thoughts, plans, and woes. Full disclosure, I made Rita feel that way last week and did not have a clue that I’d done it. Every one of us is miserably human and centered on where we are, you know why? Because much of the time, WE’RE ALL WE’VE GOT. Man, if not for our inconvenient emotions we’d be… well, animals. So…

*****

What I know is that I will call fire & brimstone down on my head ’til I die, for one simple reason:

*****

Remind yourself today: I HAVE POWERS

Go out there today, September 16, 2021, and use your powers. Do yourself right.

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Bits and pieces…

The past week has been quiet and weird-feeling, so I’ve been quiet and weird too, and it’s… frankly, getting old. Just in time, there’s a party on the roof this evening to “celebrate summer and get acquainted.” And if that doesn’t shake me out of the doldrums (what are the odds?), I’m determined to catch up with Rita before the week is out. Meanwhile, I hoard to share…

*****

*****

Humor nails us most accurately.

Distressing realities continue, so just the facts…

*****

Sufficient unto the day is the existence thereof, and this one looks stellar – sunny and still, and calling my name. Brighten the corner where you are today, boys and girls, the world will thank you. Or nah, it won’t notice, but you’ll feel better.

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Oh hello, Monday…

Since commenting wisely on the personal bravery and sacrifice that have delivered us to this point in history is above my pay grade, I spent the Memorial Weekend in TV sports, online games, and quietude. We’re living in momentous times that continually threaten to overwhelm us, and sometimes ya’ have to check out for a while.

This morning I’m clearing my desktop and sharing a few things from the past week that got my attention, made me smile, laugh, cry, think. You’re welcome.

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Cara Brown, American watercolorist
“Blush” 2013
watercolour on paper

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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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Monday, but not blue… page 219

Day 344 – 02/22/2021

It was a good weekend. Rita came over and watched the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech with us, and Kim made tamales, street tacos, beans & rice and all the other stuff for lunch – fun, happy afternoon. Sunday was the two of us all day, with the TV on low and ambitions the same. Which brings us to Monday, full of sunshine, and the week ahead is looking like this:

Almost 70º tomorrow, OMG!!

Sunlight changes everything, as Pluto, in its distance, is acutely aware – the sun’s warmth makes everything doable. Not wishing time away, but when spring arrives I’ll feel like I’ve been sprung from the slammer. We get our second shots on the 4th, and two weeks after that we shouldn’t be a threat to man nor beast so a semblance of “out & about” might start happening. Kim’s been out a lot during the pandemic, but not about – just all the shopping, and playing PickleBall under strict guidelines – so things will get better for both of us.

Over the past year, though, I’ve finally settled into the happy loneliness that’s always been who I am, and it’s good.

And the simple truth is…

It’s not that I so value my own company, but I feel better when I’m not inflicting myself on unsuspecting humans.

Haven’t seen much of the ‘rona since the last flare, but my relationship with food is still iffy. I’ll be feeling right as rain, sit down to a meal I love, and my stomach turns on me… but less often every day, and that’s good news because food’s one of the second-best things about life.

Kim has a full day outside the walls and I’ve ticked several things off my list this morning – I’m letting the sunshine soak into my soul, and maybe tomorrow my bones.

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A Thursday… page 201

Day 319 – 01/28/2021

I woke up early, just as Kim was leaving for his walk. When he came back he had a bagel in his pocket AND he was glad to see me. He said it was 24º with a real-feel of 19… hardy soul. Any day that starts with Einstein’s is in danger of turning really good, so I’m standing by. We might actually get to see somebody we love later today – it’s been months – and the Jayhawks play tonight, so the possibilities are lining up.

We’re almost a month into the new year and it’s feeling better every day, having the adults in charge… but the damage is still a little overwhelming. From a friend: “A second Capitol police officer has committed suicide. A statement was also released saying 140 cops were injured, in addition to the one killed and the first suicide. One cop is going to lose his eye. One was stabbed with a piece of fencing. Others were beaten severely. Mostly by folks who would probably tell you they’re all about law & order and supporting the Thin Blue Line.” It’s impossible to unify with that, so the grown-ups know what the task ahead looks like.

Another friend shared this:

“There’s no way that America would have elected an openly racist sociopath for a president, stood idly by as children were put into cages, a pandemic was ignored and science turned into a dirty word as we all hurtle toward an open race war where the government backs the wrong side. Yet, here we are… ”

People are suffering horribly, here and around the planet – we have to be about fixing that, one starfish at a time.

Our country’s on its way again and really good news is hitting our eyes and ears minute by minute… but I did nail down what this *limbo-life and other-shoe* sense of things comes from: We’re at least temporarily rid of Trump, but not trumpism, and its devotees seem entirely disinclined to turn loose of minority rule, so where does this end, if ever? If the head guy and his posse aren’t held accountable for all the death and desecration they’ve wrought, then we just hosted a 4-year rehearsal for the next coup, and a subsequent wannabe dictator will likely be smart.

But… here we are … -X- … and life is good, that’s the truth.

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Note to Self: F is for… friends, fairies, flowers, fish, and frogs.

Also, there’s more good soup and bread for lunch. ♥️

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Feeling good… page 195

Day 312 – 01/21/2021

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for (you and) me.”

Yesterday’s inaugural was amazing, beautiful, and healing. It was America in all our incredible diversity… and it was just right. Chris Wallace said he’s been listening to presidential inaugural addresses since JFK, and Joe Biden’s is the best he’s ever heard. I listened to all of them too, and he’s right – it was exactly what the nation needed.

President Biden’s day yesterday began at 6am and ended at midnight. He gave four speeches, signed seventeen executive orders, swore in 1,000 workers, walked down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House, at a run a few times, on his recently broken foot, and more. Late last night he was watching the Parade Across America on TV, holding his great-grandson, with a cozy fire going, still on his feet, not a chair in sight. He was back at work in the Oval Office early this morning. And then some idiot named Hannity referred to him as “the weak, the frail, the cognitively struggling Biden.” Yeah, I watched him in operation all day and saw none of that, so Mr. Hannity can tell it to the rain.

Time to bid farewell to the circus that was the outgoing administration. Time to let the memory of it fade away. Time to forget we ever had to deal with those people on an hour-by-hour basis. Time to let that name leave our mouths, and for the ubiquitous red hat to become our shameful swastika. The Spooky Men know…

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We made it out alive. And now we get busy fixing things.

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Goodbye to Donald J. Trump, the man who wanted to be Conrad Hilton but turned out to be Paris Hilton. – National Review

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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 45º 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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The sweetness… page 158

Day 267 – 12/07/2020

Another nice day so Kim played at Lyons Park and I went over to Rita’s for a few hours. Fun time and good to catch up again – she’s still sorting out from the events of the summer and fall but making terrific headway. Preston and Jade both slept the whole time I was there and her cozy house was welcoming and Zen – just what the doctor ordered.

Home now, settling into the evening groove, watching the cars and foot traffic below my window, wishing it wasn’t going to be dark in an hour, tiptoeing through the dusky limbo, waiting for something to pierce the shell and present itself as real life. Kim’s here and he’s real. His 49ers are playing the Bills tonight and that’s real stuff. Life gradually breaks through again.

Reality is sometimes overrated, but I vastly prefer it to delusion even when it hurts. Today we mark the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where almost 2500 Americans died in a single day. For each single December day leading up to this commemoration, U.S. coronavirus deaths looked like this:

Reality intrudes despite all efforts to drown it out, and sweetness and light can’t exist without it, so when there’s no way back to what was, you go with what is – the good stuff – and the lights start to come on again. A steady hand to hold is a sweet gift while you wait.

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Loving everybunny… page 154

Day 263 – 12/03/2020

For so many reasons, Christmas has been a non-event in my life for the past 25 years or so (other than that first magical one with Kim in 2004 which we decided we could never top), but today is December 3rd and my immediate world needs some cheer, so holiday mode it is. It was fun to have a mini-blizzard to start things off – a few minutes of tiny snow flurries – and my space heater’s keeping my toes warm this morning. ❄️❄️❄️

When I walked over to the barbershop at 8am it was below freezing, but no wind so no biggie. Says we might get rain today, with low 50s and sunny through the weekend. Sounds just fine.

The Jayhawks have been playing every couple of nights and we have a televised game to look forward to again tonight – Washburn here at 7pm. We’re 2 – 1 so far and the team’s coming together the way it happens every year… essential players leave, FNGs come in and learn the ropes, you gradually get a whole new team and life goes on. Sometimes it all gels into a beautiful thing and it’s always worth hanging around to find out.

Still taking our distractions where we find them, even though in a world loosed from its moorings things like sports and TV require a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to enjoy. Even the parts based in reality are sometimes a bridge too far alongside knowledge of what the pandemic and sedition in government are doing to us.

Aiming for holiday happiness, though. Pollyanna’s no quitter.

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It’s our lucky day… page 139

Day 243 – 11/13/2020

Today is Friday the 13th in the year 2020 – what could possibly go wrong? In truth it feels like a lucky day to me and I’m expecting good things to happen. Or maybe I’ve finally gone ’round the bend and this will be the day the meteor hits. If so, we’ve had a good run.

Our human connections help define us, and without them for so long I’m drifting a little – the people I love help anchor me, and sometimes I miss The Before when some of us didn’t know each other so very well. I miss our three boys and nothing yet indicates when we can be together again. A cousin was going to drive across several states with her daughter for a visit and I had to tell her no, one of the hardest things I’ve done. All because of a “so-called pandemic” that was really only a hyped-up flu, participated in by the entire world as a fvck-you to Donald Trump… that didn’t magically disappear the day after the election like a massive caravan of invaders from Mexico… even now, after all the math says Biden & Harris have won.

Instead, because conspiracy theorists and grumpy-ass naysayers politicized a virus and the idea of protecting ourselves against it, America is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis that’s spiraling out of control. We have a medical system that’s overburdened across the nation and personnel who are burnt beyond even talking about it.

It’s going to be an uphill battle for President-Elect Biden to bring this wholly unnecessary disaster under control, but we know he won’t throw up his hands, slide it off onto states that didn’t vote for him, and absolve himself of any responsibility – because he’s an adult, he knows how this works, and he’s the man of the hour. I cannot wait for sanity to be the standard operating system again. Even with a vaccine on the horizon, we’ll likely be into the 3rd quarter of 2021 before doses can be delivered worldwide and infection rates fought to submission, while the isolation becomes fallout that has to be addressed on its own… and already has. Had America simply paid attention in March… April… May… and taken the guidelines and mandates for what they were – an effort to save lives and our economic viability – instead of interpreting the benevolent wisdom as a ruse to somehow steal their freedom… we wouldn’t find ourselves at this frankly terrifying juncture now.

We’re losing a 9/11’s worth of American lives every two days, and soon it will be 2,000+ people every single day. That should be a difficult statistic for even the most jaded among us. They’re running out of refrigerated morgue trucks in El Paso, turning away car accident victims at Utah hospitals, burying entire populations of nursing homes plus their caregivers, repeated ad infinitum across the nation. Aside from our temporary lost standing in the world, the racial injustice and warfare in our streets, and the wreckage of our economy, a non-response to a global pandemic, with its resulting carnage, seems a very high price to pay for the demand to be right and make the liberals cry.

It’s 10am and the sun’s shining bright on a 33º morning, so I need to soak up every minute of it… the days are short, and losing the light by 5pm lets the melancholy creep in and dim my inner lights for a while every evening now. My optimism is increasing hour by hour and the knowledge that the grown-ups are finally stepping in cheers me, but the flip-side is knowing how much opposition is out there to truth, progress, innovation, freedom of expression, and room and opportunity for every kind of human. But ya’ start somewhere…

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