Of wolves and wings and sealing wax…

A thing I like about being this age and out of the work force is that nobody’s the boss of us except death and taxes. When Kim got home from PickleBall this morning I’d downed half a pot of coffee but no food yet, so he made the Saturday breakfast on Wednesday because nobody told him he couldn’t, and I like how that works out.

The downside of not having a CEO is there’s nobody here to ensure that I live my best life except me. Kim’s entitled to carefully-worded suggestions, but I’m the only boss I have and it’s exhausting. I get up by 7am or earlier most mornings, grab a mug of coffee, and sit here for the next hour catching up on news of the world while the two wolves inside me wage a battle over the daily stroll. One wolf’s all about how it’s too hot or too chilly, too windy or too still, you deserve a little break and one day off won’t hurt a thing. The other, the leaner of the two, reminds me how easy it is to break a good habit, how miserably guilt-ridden I’ll be all day if I don’t put my shoes on and go, how righteous I’ll feel telling Kim about where I went and what I saw out there in the greater world.

The wise wolf won this morning’s tug-o-war again, so chalk up another one for health and sanity, she and I have found ourselves out there trekking far more days than not since this past December. And yes, my two Canis Lupii are female, full of wisdom and experience, I only have to be careful which voice I allow through the veil in any given circumstance…

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Rodney Dangerfield had it right… no respect.

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God’s truth. Come visit, we’ll show you.

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If you’re smiling, my work here is done. Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember…

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What we have here… is a failure to communicate!

So far I don’t mind terribly much getting older, there are things about it that are actually almost cool. But FEELING old… out of it… behind… I hate it. Nothing pisses me off faster than trying to do something I knew how to do before technology changed the parameters. I love technology. Technology is my friend. Until it isn’t, and I have to ask for rescue from someone whose otherwise perfectly lovely accent doesn’t play nicely via phone with my hearing assists/brain. And the page he sends me to clearly doesn’t look like the one he’s on because the right questions and blanks are not available; therefore, there’s an impassable hurdle in the form of name/password legalese which I will never get past so I’m hereby resigning from the world and resolving never again to leave the safety of my perfectly manageable home. It doesn’t matter that I can’t get an automatic payment set up online BECAUSE I’M A HERMIT NOW!! I won’t need the thing I’m supposed to be paying for, so stuff it, world!

Sigh. I feel marginally better, thx for listening. On a happier note… and EVERYTHING was on a happy note until that frickin’-frackin’ brick wall… I spent an hour and a half outside this morning, an hour of it walking. Picked up a bagel and coffee and sat in the park again, reading and people-watching. There were at least 50 middle-schoolers, and several adult-types carrying guitars, gathered on the east side of the park, but nothing discernible transpired before I trekked toward home. Looked all squeaky-clean and wholesome, though, at 7:30 on a Friday morning.

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Ope, it was THIS!

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ENJOY THE HECK OUTTA LIFE EVERY DAY!

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Still hanging around, what a surprise!

At 7:00 on a September morn, fog hanging in the trees, a cheese Danish and hot coffee in front of me courtesy of Kim… I’m settling into the fact that today I’m 75 years old. It’s frankly weird to find myself at an age that once sounded unbearably old, life over, stick with your comfy chair, lap blanket, and tepid tea, Granny-Face. But I watched both of my grandmothers live past 95, keeping their minds reasonably intact, and this morning I know you don’t shut things down three-quarters of the way through, so on we press.

When Kim and I got married, I was the reverse of today’s number… 57. A full range of life events has taken place in the intervening 18 years, letting me know for sure that life doesn’t hinge on ages, numbers, or our careful plans. I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be 75 plus a day, and the days will continue to spool out until I reach the final one, whenever it comes.

The gray flannel morning has crept up against my windows, socking me into my quiet corner with only my thoughts for company… just the way I like it. These gentle surroundings are causing me to be highly conscious of a few key factors in making it to this milestone in a positive frame of mind…

  1. After two years of treatment protocols, Kim’s oncology numbers are below zero… success!
  2. With the advent of vaccines, boosters, and a lower transmission rate, John’s work at the hospital is becoming a little safer and more conducive to longterm breathing.
  3. Since Christmas and a spinal fusion via robot, I’ve been without my old companion of fifty years… nerve pain… and I’m walking my tush off on the surrounding sidewalks.
  4. Last week I got new hearing assists with the latest technology… and joy of joys, I can actually HEAR! I’ve been missing so many sounds for who knows how long, I’m having to retrain my ears and brain to tolerate the sheer input of it all and it’s wonderful.
  5. Despite every awful thing at loose on the planet, genuine loving humans give me insane hope for a future that is not dystopian. I texted with two of them this morning… day made! People haven’t called me Pollyanna all my life for nothing.

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Very happy to be a Virgo. Otherwise, I’d have to be someone else entirely.

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Hello, starshine…

It might sound odd, but I miss you when I stay away for too long and fail to write down every thought in my head as OCD, ADHD, and anxiety demand. Beyond an incredibly faithful core of readers, I have no idea who sees my words… but there are days when I can feel benevolent forces just behind the wall… this wall I’m scribbling on now, defacing it with my own brand of graffiti… and I’m glad you’re there. Makes me wish for words of wisdom to impart, something that would make your day a little shinier, your heart a bit lighter. Alas, it turns out I’m here mostly to bitch and moan and call for backup, so may the gods bless your heart for sticking around.

This morning was undoubtedly one of the most perfect of my lifetime, and that’s saying a lot. The temp and humidity were just right and the sky was pure sunshine, a Chamber of Commerce kind of day. I walked to Einstein’s to get a bagel and coffee, then to a picnic table in South Park where I enjoyed a quiet breakfast while I read my book via phone and watched Larryville wake up. Not a leaf was stirring in the massive trees that must have already been standing when Quantrill and the Boys came through during the Civil War, trying to burn everything to a cinder.

There’s no way I could reach across this, let alone around its circumference. There be giants.

A couple of people wrapped in blankets on the hard floor of the gazebo were gradually letting the sun’s rays wake them up, and I hope someone provided coffee after they came to life.

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As we inch our way toward the season of the long shadows, I’m storing sunshine and benevolent days… we’ll need every bit of it.

Kim Smith self-portrait, August 2022

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I’ll leave you with this… and if you know the translation, please share it!

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You become…

QUESTION: How do we know when a new practice has become a full-fledged habit? I say it’s when our access to said habit is rudely cut off and we find ourselves in a near-depressive state over it. Circumstances of various sorts, most of them entirely beyond my control, conspired to keep me off the streets this week for a 4-day stretch that by Day Three had me in a minor meltdown. Since December 22nd of last year my two best friends, after #1 Kimmers, have been #2 walking, and #3 icing. Just let me get out there and walk it off, keep the ice packs in rotation, and all’s well. I didn’t mean to give my aging body an 8-year hiatus, but I’m kind of proud of how it’s been willing to pick up the pace again, now that it can, and this is no time to back off. I’m finding that my once overactive conscience operates on a standby basis these days because I don’t give it much to do. Once that morning stroll around town is in the bag the day is mine to live out, which feels sweetly Zen. And the best part is that the time spent outside in this green green city feels like the most powerful health elixir I could find. It’s good… in the face of all the things… to be able to say “It’s all good.”

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Remember that you are all you really have, which is entirely more than sufficient, so treat yourself with respect and don’t miss the good stuff along the way.

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Morning check-in…

Necessary diary entry this morning after realizing a longterm goal: To get up one fine morning and stroll to Einstein’s for a bagel and coffee outside. This was that morning and it did not disappoint. I simply put on real clothes, slid my iPad into its sleeve, and went there. Zero breeze, 70º and sunny, a few other early-risers to share the morning with. I love the old-guy walking cadres, whose members seem sheepishly happy to be seen doing something athletic and aren’t stingy with the smiles, which is cool. A couple at a sidewalk table nearby, he Black, she maybe trans, with possibly all their belongings in the pack next to them, clearly an intrinsic part of the Mass Street neighborhood, were enjoying the morning with me as they greeted all the street workers and vendors, making me part of the scene with their “How ya’ doin’? Havin’ a good day? You be safe now.”

Taking my time on the walk home I could see myself in the plate-glass windows, and it struck me that although I usually feel no more than 21 on the inside, I’ve somehow survived to become a silver-haired 75-year-old human less than a month from now. By all reckonings in our society I’m an old woman, good for not much at all, taking up space, using resources. That’s okay, stand back, I’m not done yet, apologies for any damage wrought heretofore. Looks like a hot weekend, then we’re back into a nice 80s groove, so be forewarned… I’ll be out there on my feet somewhere.

Sooooo…

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Fairly certain I was a cat in a former life.

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We’ve all made it to Friday, which is entirely worth celebrating. Be very good to yourself this weekend, and do something to make somebody else smile, too… the reward is so sweet. I know a lot of people are too cool or too shy or too distracted to interact, but I got smiles from high school kids this morning just by being there. I wear this silver crop like a badge because it opens doors for me… get out there and use what ya’ got, like me and the guys in the walking clubs. We’re still here, we have to do SOMETHING.

Enjoy a sweet weekend, and remember the school kids and teachers…

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Watering flowers…

Welp, sorry friends, you signed on so you’re destined to be exposed to my Diary Thoughts on a regular basis, because if I don’t blog it, it didn’t happen.

This morning was a milestone of sorts… a cool 62º at 7am, blue sky, flowers in full bloom everywhere… IN MID-AUGUST! I’m compelled to record that I enjoyed every minute of my most ambitious solo stroll to date, south down New Hampshire all the way to South Park via a shortcut through the courthouse lawn, where I took a cool minute to appreciate a handy park bench and all the casual but carefully-planned flowerbeds, freshly watered by an army of vest-wearing city employees while I was still sleeping. Then a loop around the gazebo and north toward home on Mass Street, which was in the throes of waking up and opening its doors. Nobody screaming in front of The Replay this time, just kindred spirits enjoying a perfect morning… bagels, coffee, a newspaper or two. Cool air, not a leaf moving, everything green and blue as far as the eye could see… felt right to smile and say good morning along the way. Most people do, which is nice, but they’re cool about it. We’re still in Kansas, but not all-up-in-your-bidness Kansas. Natives will get the nuance.

To make a long story longer, what I’m full of appreciation for this morning is incremental positive gain and the fact that it’s a fact. When circumstance prevents progress for long enough the concept gets buried in the mud, so when altered circumstance enables nearly unlimited progress… it calls for a moment. It truly is step by step. Every day. Over and over. You’re getting there, do it again, some more. See how much better it feels today than yesterday? Think what your one-year anniversary will look like and keep going.

And now I’m bringing the house lights down for the people who can’t help hating me a little or a lot. If you’re somebody who lives with silent pain, who’s likely been disrespected for not jumping into your big-girl/guy panties and getting on with it, who’s had it absolutely up to here with people who don’t get it… please know that my empathy is genuine because I’ve been in your shoes… off and on for fifty years, steadily for the past eight before my spinal fusion. I know intimately how much it hurts to be told YOU CAN DO something you cannot do. There’s not a thing I’m telling you to do. If circumstance prevents you from being part of the life you’re living, you have my complete understanding. That’s all I know to say to you, because I’m as helpless as you are to alter anything. And that whatever is still within your power to do, do that, and don’t willingly give up your personhood because your life refuses to conform with what you see out there. You’re here, your life belongs to you and no one else, and if you’re living in your head make it a good place to be… insofar as you have that power. I’m saying don’t give up. I did and I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t help because you still have to BE here. And if things get better, you have to fight your way back.

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Sometimes we give other people too big a vote in what our life will look like… because it takes time to figure it all out.

And REAL will tell you the truth.

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Sometimes physical pain is so linked to psychic pain we can’t sort it for ourselves… and very few people are in a position to help us with that, especially our fellow walking-wounded. We look for answers from people who have none for themselves… we forget that we are all we have, requiring a kind of strength that takes a lifetime to build.

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This. Because it’s exquisite and speaks volumes without words…

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It’s Thursday, a good day for letting real love into our secret worlds… and allowing it to heal us.

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A poet speaks for me…

The joy found in a cool August morning can’t be laid on too thick… it’s simply glorious. The rush of stepping into another sunrise and striding down the sidewalk, balance pole in hand, everything right with the immediate world for a few precious minutes, cannot be diminished by impending daily-ness. I walked as far as the courthouse this morning before looping toward home… next trip South Park! I saw Dennis scurrying along Mass Street, his arms full of collected treasures… where did he stash his shopping cart, I wonder. As I trekked toward my destination, I noticed two rough-sleepers in doorways on the east side of the street, and outside the Replay Lounge an early riser was singing, dancing, and yelling, so I chose another route home, for simplicity’s sake. Plenty of room for everybody.

I’ve had no success finding the title, but these words from an incredible writer are everything this morning…

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said.. 

A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.. 

Or a garden planted.. 

Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, 

and when people look at that tree 

or that flower you planted, you’re there..

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something 

from the way it was before you touched it 

into something that’s like you 

after you take your hands away.. 

The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said.. 

The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all..

the gardener will be there a lifetime.. 

-Ray Bradbury

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Get out and touch the world today if you can. Leave a mark. And may your coffee, your pelvic floor, your intuition, and your self-appreciation be strong.

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**The occasional reminder that no one sees your name, including me, but your rating thrills my heart. I feel so seen. 😎

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I can work with that…

Oh hey, my Muse, I didn’t see you there when I sat down! I was lost in thought about HABIT… what it is, how it happens, what it means to humans for good or ill. Glad you’re here on a Sunday morning, you can help me with this.

Over a lifetime, I’ve unconsciously built a wide range of habits into my daily existence, some of them a real bitch to get rid of. What I’m after at this point are GOOD habits, BETTER habits, BENEFICIAL habits, since there really isn’t time left for detrimental processes. I’ve been happy to discover that I’m still equipped for growth, that I can add a new module to the operating system and make everything sync.

I’m talkin’ ’bout my new drug… walking, something I took for granted until in my 20s but never after. Farm Girl ran for acres on sturdy little legs, mostly barefoot. Tripped her way through grade school, danced through high school, went to college in the almost-70s so remembers only pieces/parts. All of that was very real and vital and life-shaping, and it’s mine. I own the ensuing years, after my life-altering accident, and all they held. This morning it feels like I owe tribute to the NOW and the gift of walking out the door and going ’til I feel like heading home. Unless the weather is dire, I can’t sit here much past sunrise without my butt twitching to go outside. I have to latch the Tevas to my feet, get out there, and offer up my daily measure of thanks. By the time I get home there are aches going on… but nothing hurts. It’s an excellent morning when I’ve been out and about, back home and iced by 8am, and this was one of them, go me. Now I have the entire rest of the day to fart around.

A sweet secret muse is Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, and I love this story:

Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope:

“Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.

I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I’ll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is – we’re here on Earth to fart around.

And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it’s like we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.“

Let’s all get up and move around a bit right now… or at least dance.

All respect, Kurt, you ol’ dog…

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What’s my motivation? To keep dancing.

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It was a sweet week, highlighted by having this guy hang out with us for a few hours, play our piano, jam on guitars with Kim, sing, harmonize, fill the house with joy. If you haunt the music-underground in Lawrence in any of its iterations, the swell of talent that’s always just behind the curtain here, you likely know this gifted young man… lucky you.

Vincent Brauer. Remember the name.

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Stranger things?

A sobering phenomenon is in progress, and you’ll soon pick up on the key word in that comment. I used to think my phone, iPad, and desktop could hear every word I said, read my mind, and gauge the dilation of my pupils, silly me. Then I wised up and realized that, YES INDEED, MY DEVICES ARE FULLY TUNED IN TO MY EXISTENCE EVERY BREATHING SECOND, so now I try never to say or think anything while in range of an electronic device, nor make eye contact with Siri. And yet… they know. They all know.

Hold on, I’m getting there…

Through painstaking dedicated research, Kimmers and I have determined that alcohol and excessive heat are seizure-triggers for me, especially in tandem, and as we’ve gradually fine-tuned my tolerable amount down to approximately zero, I’ve been mulling something: Are there relaxing healthy drinks out there that might make some spoiled old girl feel less on the shelf when the party starts? I did, I asked that very question of myself. However, at no time did I voice it out loud, nor did I consult google. And yet… they know.

The thought had no sooner formed in my mind than I was seeing ads in all my social media feeds for mocktails, exotic teas, wellness tonics, hemp-infused non-alcoholic spirits, fooz booze, zero-alcohol whiskey, the spirit of bourbon sans bourbon, non-alcoholic wines, non-alcoholic apéritifs made with natural adaptogens… does somebody out there have ALL my numbers or is this the Truman Show? How do I escape the scrutiny of those who KNOW… do all my thinking in the shower with the fan on blast?

In case you hadn’t guessed, the Secret Word was “sobering.” If you were on top of it, here’s a cookie… 🍪

It’s 4:30 on a Friday. Almost time for me to clock out and slip into a comfortable weekend, but first a few parting gifts to tide us over ’til Monday or whenever Ms Muse drops in again.

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Not loyalty to me… loyalty to truth and kindness.

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Please enjoy a summer weekend, and if you feel lonely come talk to me…

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Helpful, honest, happy family = amazing…

I’m sitting in my 4th-floor perch on a rainy Wednesday morning, observing the dog-walkers and the drizzled foliage while I savor the events of the past week. John booked a spur-of-the-moment flight to check in with the parental units, and his timing couldn’t have been more spot-on… we needed to see and celebrate with him. When he was here about this same time last year, life was feeling markedly unsettled for all of us including Auntie Rita… and much positive resolution has transpired since, so we toasted to every bit of it. On Sunday he treated us to a wonderful 18th wedding anniversary celebration at Basil Leaf… Italian food, wine, exquisite desserts, and the best company we could ever want, while we counted our blessings. Life remains good.

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Between the weather and timing, we managed a handful of walks… and the remainder of our waking hours were spent talking and eating, a true Midwest sojourn for Atlanta man. Tomorrow he’ll return to his oncology unit and we’ll resume our exercise routines in earnest, possibly skip a meal once in a while… and life will go on until we see each other again. The days since last Friday will keep my heart fed for some time to come…

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Until next time.

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The world delivers a load of stress to our doors every day. I’m glad real family, however we manage to come by those people, is there to help us handle it all and move on. I fiercely love and need my people.

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Laziness… the habit of resting before you’re tired

How to tell if something has become a habit… when you feel utterly miserable if you miss a day. Kim woke me up when he left for PickleBall, which I assume was around 6:30, and the next thing I knew it was nearly 8:00. When I stepped out onto the balcony the sun and thick hot air made me duck right back inside to think it over, whereupon I decided some buttery grits with toast and jam sounded more rejuvenating… and here we are.

If every day went according to plan, we’d be robots, but missing my morning walk will stick like glue and I’ll be looking for shade toward evening to make up for it. Seven months ago I couldn’t envision ditching the lifetime nerve pain and doing whatever I wanted to do… so now when I pass up opportunities to DO… I feel it. I’m calling that a beautiful thing while I line up the day… there’s usually enough to do.

I remember scorching summers, some total drought-makers, but the current heat wave feels ponderous even when the humidity is below 50%. In an era when all our chickens seem headed home to roost, I’m not holding out false hope for consistently milder weather any time soon, by which I mean I may never see that day again. Good to be old… I got to see most of it at least once. Live with this we will, kids, ’til we die. The human race is nearly inscrutable on every level, but one thing we know about us… even the gods can’t tell us a damn thing because we arrived here knowing it all.

Not a lot to write home about right now, just felt like checking in with everybody. And I saved another little stack of stuff to share with you…

Right off the top, a commentary on the past couple of weeks:

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In that vein, and don’t let on that I told you, but Kim always wanted to invent a Braille halter-top.

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Self-explanatory.

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This one’s just a freebie.

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I like to reiterate the following on a semi-regular basis to keep misinterpretations to a minimum if possible:

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This is critically important, so don’t skim past it…

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And this… shared by a wonderful friend… because I love it.

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Almost the weekend…

8:30am

Big flash of lightning and now it’s pelting down rain, so I’m glad I got my walk in early. Now that they can actually go somewhere, my feet yearn for the sidewalks every morning and it’s getting to be a happy friendship. The annoying platitudes people have hit us with all our lives are turning out to be true. “One step at a time,” for example. Life in five little words. I can’t sit here for very long in the mornings before I have to put on my Tevas and get outta here, and by now I know old dogs can relearn old tricks, which is beyond gratifying.

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1:00pm

Guess what, I have no rant for you today. It’s beautiful outside, although entirely on the hot side, Kim and I went for a drive in the country after PickleBall, I got an egg & cheese croissant, and we stopped at a roadside stand where he bought sweet corn that was picked this morning. We’ll have it tonight with grilled salmon, and garden cukes & tomatoes, and does it get any better than that… ?

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So I’m just here to share STUFF, the bits and pieces I save all week with you in mind. I steal some of it from my friend Steve, and find the rest lying around loose. Enjoy…

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And maybe related, maybe not…

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Laissez le bon temp rouler…

Just as there are weeks that are a challenge from beginning to end, there occasionally comes a string of days outstanding enough to keep us in the game a while longer. Our week started on Saturday… Beatles’ Night at the winery from 4 to 9pm… nineteen acts, 3 songs each… hotter’n’ little blue blazes all day, but shady under the trees, with a wandering cool breeze for rescue. We packed the little rolling Coleman with cheese & crackers, watermelon, seltzer, sweat rags, and ice, and were undoubtedly among the happiest campers there. I mean, we do know most of the lyrics… and the updated renditions were really nice. I met a new friend, sitting back of us a little, who entertained herself and her husband by commenting on everything we did and tracking our wine consumption over the five hours we were there. Everyone brings us happiness… some when they show up, some when they leave. This morning I would define a good date as one where you can be outside, listen to nonstop music, buy and enjoy homegrown wine, eat parmesan French fries from the food truck plus the healthy stuff in the cooler, and step back into your teens for a few hours with the California musician who has no plans for growing up. By those standards, Saturday was the best date in memory, except that little sister was missing. Come to think of it though, I never DID take her on my dates with me, so…

We’re off to a great start, which will save my bacon, I can already see the writing on the wall. It’s on a card, to be honest, and it’s a date that never got entered into my phone. It’s my haircut appointment and my brain checked in with me just in time not to miss it, which is not only deeply disappointing when it happens, but a cardinal sin against my wonderful hairdresser. It’s never happened with this one. May it never happen.

So that’s two things. And Kim had a good Father’s Day, which included a terrific phone convo with his son Henry and a loving text from John… and he realized he’s within days of learning the outcome of his cancer diagnosis and treatment. We expect the numbers to be stellar. There simply are times like this, and we never know when they’re going to hit or how long they’ll last, so we hoard them a little… ammunition for later.

Since we’re on a roll, today was my 6-month post-op checkup with Dr. Carlson, during which I got straight A’s and so did he. The X-ray showed the metal cage is firmly ensconced in my back and nothing has shifted, I’m right where I’m supposed to be in the recovery process, and my next visit with him in six months will be my last unless something goes wrong further up my spine. I miss him already. He’s a bundle of gifts, talent, knowledge, and experience wrapped around a big heart and killer personality… and he’s returned my life to me. Since he’s a KU grad and comes here for all the B-ball games, he wants to meet us at one of the local breweries sometime, which will feel like Old Home Week if it happens.

People I love seem to be getting over various hurdles, recovering from illness, dealing well with endings and beginnings, so make a note: The middle of June 2022 was worth writing home about for the Smiths and the smith-adjacent. Betcha’ wish you could rub shoulders with us this week. You can. Bring tequila.

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Always with the questions…

So many questions… so much time… so few answers. The days are long, and rife with opportunities to think, which has never intimidated me but there’s so much more to think about now. I had grandparents who told me stories to which I listened like my life depended on it… and there have been times it has. They were all born in the 1800s except for one grandmother, the kid in the crowd, and they experienced a lot of things so we wouldn’t have to, such as life without A/C, motor vehicles, or consumer-protection laws. They knew things… and it’s taking me this long to catch up. My attentive listening lacked meat on its bones… life experiences to flesh out the facts simmering in my subconscious. Those necessary learning opportunities did come along, bit by bit, as they will, providing what feels like a unique perspective but is instead universal, I’m pretty sure.

Let’s do a quick checklist and see where we are, just out of curiosity. Raise your hand, nod your head, blink twice, say a rosary, whatever’s most affirming, for each thing you identify with as I blurt it out:

  • Planet Earth seems to be out of control
  • because it always was
  • but this feels excessive. Like disastrously crazy off the wall.
  • Is that why I feel sad and tired all the time? Do you feel sad and tired a lot?
  • Do you wonder when [if] this sensation of living in a state of limbo will end?
  • Do you miss the Before time when we knew less about our neighbors and family members?
  • And that was a good thing?
  • Do you think about your life and wonder what it’s all meant? Or is the point, as someone said yesterday, simply to live?
  • Were there things said to you by older people that seemed clear enough at the time… but you didn’t actually have a clue? And if you consider yourself to be “getting older” now, are some of those things becoming starkly real? Do you feel the parameters shifting?

One of my grandmas told me when she was in her 80s that her life had become very lonely. Our family spent as much time with her as we could, but I know we didn’t touch that existential loneliness that assails the human spirit. She’d outlived all of her German cousins and most of her friends… no one shared a past history with her… all her reference points were changing. As her granddaughter, consumed with my own life, I couldn’t begin to reach in and touch that sense of unease, alienation… solitude. But I do get it now.

A dear friend the other day was relating a dream whose meaning was too-easily discerned, and I said to him “There is no lonelier proposition than human existence, even with someone we nearly worship living right beside us.” Our minds and spirits take us to far places where no one can accompany us, and we wrestle with each of those worlds alone. The truth that “we are born alone, we die alone” becomes clearer as we go along… nobody can really tag along on those two trips, nor during much of the in-between. As Uncle Walter Cronkite might say, “That’s just the way it is.”

As the physical healing proceeds, I’ve been coming up with ways to feel not productive but useful, big difference. It’s still in the “I could” stage, but the ideas themselves build a sense of hope, which we can’t live without. And it helps keep the big shaggy hound from the door… the one that creeps in, sits on your chest in the dark, stares you down, and beats you with the awareness of your own empty solitude. So… what are you looking at this morning that seems insurmountable? Or merely annoying beyond words? What one thing could you change that would start to make a difference? Go get another cup of coffee, think about the question(s), write down whatever goes through your mind, reread it over the next few days… see what happens. Lemme know. Please.

Existential loneliness has been momentarily banished this morning by sunshine after rain, a peaceful house, and a breakfast of cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. It’s the little things. Make your weekend restful, healing, and fun.

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