In… page 51

Day 83 – 06/03/2020

Other than a haircut and an overnight in the ER, I’m still sticking close to home for all the reasons, the biggest being that everything I need or want is right here. The hot weather we pined for has arrived… and what were we thinking? Kim has left outdoor PickleBall early the past two mornings because of it, and the A/C’s making up for lost time.

He went for a walk this morning and brought me some alley photos. The one above depicts Gwendolyn Brooks and the introduction to one of her poems: “This is the urgency:  Live! and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind,” along with Oscar Micheaux, Gordon Parks, and Langston Hughes, each of whom had a seminal influence on the character of Lawrence, Kansas.

We’re in awe of this marble bust on Mass Street, not least because of the way it responds to sunlight. It’s an incredible piece of work.

This one painted on tiny tiles next to a doorway took me back to Sunday when we had my sister Rita here for her birthday. Kim’s Mexican Kitchen was in full-on production and the results were Ah-mazing. Alas, so amazing that a picture of the plates didn’t happen.

And the birthday woman, the only pic here I can take credit for. Her blue eyes and beautiful smile light up a room and our lives. 💗

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Still… page 48

Day 69 – 05/20/2020

A milestone – Kim got a haircut this morning at seven and came home with the swagger of a new man. As long as I get there before my dr.’s appointment a month away I’m good, but my goal is Monday or so after the desperate have had their shot at it all week.

Otherwise just maintaining. It’s been a windy spring and not consistently warm yet by any means, but we’re outside on the balcony for all the benevolent minutes we can catch. East Lawrence is in its glory right now – green as far as the eye can see. In the photo above and the one below, you’re looking at hundreds of houses and thousands of people but you can’t see them. The top photo is our view from the south corner of our balcony, and this one is directly across the street – in both directions a house on every lot, cleverly camouflaged by Mama Nature. The yards are like cocoons and seem especially inviting to stay home in this season.

Feels good to be here. Covid-19 cases in our county, which rubs elbows with Kansas City, are currently at 61, with 53 recovered and no deaths, which tells me people here in this university town take their science seriously. Kim rarely sees a shopper or worker without a mask when he goes for necessities. That feels soothing and reassuring, along with the way Mass Street shops are creating safe environments in which to do business. The barbershop we both go to apparently has it down to a science already, go Lawrence. It’s good to call you *home.*

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Staying in… page 38

Day 48 – 04/29/2020

Some mornings I feel almost lighthearted when I wake up, but today isn’t one of those. I finally broke down and had a long cry in the spa tub because it all stacks up after awhile… the sense of division most of all. The sides in our current civil war couldn’t be more clearly drawn, but I wanted to believe we still found common ground in the middle concerning life and death for the people we love. Guns in the streets, and large male types waving them in the faces of medical staff, yelling at them, breathing on them, threatening the general citizenry, and being praised for it because FREEDOM… it’s too heavy.

I’m a face-it-head-on person, but this I can’t deal with, so I turn into a little mouse during waking hours and lose myself in computer games with their fantasy worlds. If I could fill our spa tub with all my tears over a lifetime, they would overflow to the downstairs neighbors, and I’m just tired of crying. I’m tired of feeling… but if I could change that I wouldn’t be me anymore.

Got hit with an onslaught of ugliness first thing – my mistake for looking. Tomorrow will be better, right? I wish peace for you… don’t let your day look like this, ‘k? Never let the bastards get ya’ down.

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Shelter me… page 33

Day 41 – 04/22/2020

I’m starting to shelter from social media for great swatches of the day – in times of crisis and conflict it has a way of reaching out and grabbing me where I’m most vulnerable. Two distinct and disparate value systems are going headers against each other while everything else conspires to kill us, and the images are seared into my permanent record. This one has followed me around for a couple of days…

It isn’t photoshopped.

Eugenics, pure and simple, and we actually find ourselves at this point in history.

I’m the weak for all the reasons… Kim’s the weak because asthma and a heart attack/bypass… John’s the “weak” for potential lack of PPE while on shift. Most everyone I love falls into the category of THE WEAK for one reason or another – who decides who to treat… or not? Death panels, anyone?

A heavy attrition rate in nursing homes, prisons, poverty-stricken communities, minority populations, and among the aging would help the economy recover… that seems to be the mindset at this point. We have met the enemy and he is us. Gives the concept of shelter a whole new meaning – I’m picturing a cave in a remote location, the sooner the better. We old survivors are becoming prey.

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Gimme Shelter… page 28

Day 34 – 04/15/2020

Would THAT be far enough away? ^^^

Likely no internet, so yeah… maybe. We have the technology, but does it have us? Or were we possibly more human before we knew everything?

Make it four-and-a-half and counting…

It’s in the 30s, but we have sunshine this morning, Kim’s had his walk and brought me a bagel… so c’mon, coffee, let’s DO this…

… even your own.

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SQ Diary… page 8

Self-Quarantine Day 13 – 03/25/2020

Some sunshine this afternoon and a chance for fresh air, with the balcony door open. Kim’s heading off on a bike ride.

Our friend Ryann brought us two jars of Tacos Jalisco salsa from a trip out west, so Kim made the Saturday Breakfast for HumpDay. It tastes as good on Wednesday as Saturday, and we had a nice spa soak after because why not?

Still coughing, feel like an old sock, but life goes on. Everything’s relative… sooo very relative now.

Talked with John this morning ahead of his return to the hospital tomorrow. Lots of things we aren’t saying… and that’s okay. We are all here —-> X … and we’ll deal. He has a job to do and his skills are sharp. The mama’s job is to sit with it, and to hope he and his colleagues will have the tools they need.

2:30pm. Kim will get back here by four and we’ll sit outside while the temp holds. We’ll chop vegetables for the steamer, we’ll have a couple of drinks, we’ll catch up on whatever we haven’t watched yet… we’ll say words and think thoughts… and it will be nighttime and we’ll shut it all out to await another day.

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A progress report…

My good clean non-sparkly reboot for 2020 is going along pretty well so far, disregarding, as one must, what the world at large chooses to do with theirs. Attitude…good. Outlook…okay. Energy…looking up. Less sarcasm…it’s a reboot, not a makeover.

Happily, I’m back to the nice warm therapy pool, on my own schedule, with my own routine, since things just seem to go better when I’m the boss of me. Spending time in the pool again takes me back to water aerobics classes, so while my muse and I canoodle fresh ideas for the new year, here’s a little repost from that time a few years ago…

Summer water classes started on Tuesday so this chicky is in the swim again. It’s more exercise-y and less dance-y than my initial plunge at another facility, so this could work out. The instructor is easy to like and it’s all friendly women plus one shy husband. Other than a few younger women we’re all approximately from the same era, including our badass teacher, so there are Susans, Paulas, Lindas, Nancys, Judys…

Other commonalities include hearing loss, bad backs, arthritis, shaky balance, a laundry list of challenges. There’s a certain comfort in knowing I’m not the only person my age who’s falling apart, but it’s even better to know that everyone in the class, including Token Man, cares about her/himself or they wouldn’t bother showing up. I see it on all the faces.

Humor is how boomers roll, because without it you stop rolling. I advise maintaining a healthy personal space between yourself and humor-challenged people – they’re too tiring, and if you happen to be a *feeler* like me, you’ll haul the sand from every encounter until it all finally sifts out through your sandals. Our class is populated by people who like to laugh at themselves – how does anybody keep putting one foot in front of the other without that? Yikes.

Okay, imagine you’re out of school for the summer and you’ve signed on as a lifeguard at the aquatic center to impress babes. And then you draw the short straw to work during Senior Water Aerobics. 

Their little downcast faces are enough to break your heart.

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A list of happy…

***Another spring flashback for new friends…

Our clean quiet loft

Sunlight slipping through the wooden blinds and striping the bed

Half a pot of coffee staying warm until after I talk myself into

A hot shower and day-jams fresh from the dryer

French Open in full murmur on TV

Cold milk, crunchy cereal, and a flawless banana

Endless selection of great art on the internet, to be transformed into jigsaw puzzles that let my brain freewheel in a world of words and ideas, sometimes for hours (I was always a fairly cheap date)

Friends, with their unique ways of showing me I’ve been seen and heard and I don’t have to be cautious with my words

Plans that carry me forward and remind me I’m not finished yet

Lunch with my husband, after listening to him play guitar for an hour

A soothing pedi

Projects that lay hold of my attention and validate the future

A town and living space that nurture my humanity and affirm that life goes on

NOT THE END

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Homesick?

Depends on what you mean by home. The place where I grew up was true home for me – native sod broken out by my grandpa, walking behind a one-or-two-bottom plow and a horse or team. The harnesses and all the tack for that and various conveyances still hung on heavy nails up the stairway to the barn loft when I was a kid, harboring that good dusty leather aroma. Grandpa set all the corner posts in cement on what was then just a quarter of land, and poured a low cement border around the entirety of his and Grandma’s multi-acre yard and garden, half flowers, half produce, backed by rows of fruit trees and evergreens. The man meant to stay, he made that clear, and stay he did, until a sudden stroke in his late 70s stopped him in his tracks – I saw it happen – and the farm life he’d built went on because of my dad and my brother, and none of us had to leave home until we were ready to go.

I was fuzzy on the details, but I always knew I’d go somewhere, somehow, sooner rather than later, and I blame my mom, with gratitude. She read to us from the beginning, took us to the Carnegie Library Children’s Department at a reasonable age and turned us loose, gave us free rein in her personal library if we thought we were big enough to handle the subject matter, so there was always a world out there to know about, and we were indirectly invited to explore it without limits on our attitudes or ability to accept people where we found them.

There’s no going home now, and that’s okay. The farm of my childhood belongs to other people and is being lovingly cared for. The same is true of the farm where I spent my first marriage and raised my son. My life takes place far from both in every way and I don’t yearn for either as a destination – I haven’t so much as driven past either one in many years. But as age prepares to have its way more and more with my body and my mind, I heavily miss some of the people who shared life with me in those places, who left their mark on me, whose memories live inside my soul.

This is a different animal from nostalgia. It feels more like a need. In an upside-down time when truth has been losing some important battles, I need to sit down in my grandparents’ big farmhouse and hear old-fashioned wisdom from my grandma’s store of experience, hard work, perspective gained; her next-generation memories of family stories from The Old Country, The Ocean Crossing, Homesteading, I need to hear it all again and let it be at home on the inside of me.

I need to hear my mom’s quietly positive take on life again – just being with her always made me feel better, which says so much because her own heart was unsettled a lot of the time. She was serene on the surface, paddling like hell underneath, and able to be most things to most people, which took far more strength than anybody knew. I need to hold her and tell her that she was a more than excellent mother and person. And then I need to ask her all the things I didn’t know to ask when she was here…

Home is the people and places that have made me who I am, and short of a fateful blow to the head I couldn’t shed all of it if I tried. That knowledge gives me extreme comfort and a genuine sense of security. Kim, too, is home now, in both spiritual and tangible ways, as are John and Anthony, my sisters, other people in my life. So as it turns out, it isn’t so very tricky after all to get back home. I was “this many old” when I learned that.

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Sometimes problems have answers…

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Constant Reader will be relieved to learn that I may have solved my problem – the one where I cry nonstop. Oddest thing … turns out the answer in my case to the question “What do you read when you’re sad?” (see preceding post) … is “NOT FACEBOOK.” I haven’t sorted out why that is yet, but it’s a fact. Maybe it’s the abysmal state of our society right now and so many things are hanging out there unsaid, unaddressed, untalked-about, for fear of offending too many people, until finally there’s nothing left we can say. Maybe that’s it, maybe not. What I CAN say for sure is that I’m crying at the right places now instead of carrying tears in my throat like a pelican all day long and shedding them over stuff you wouldn’t believe.

A Facebook summer sabbatical was exactly what I needed, but since I slogged right on past every subtle AND clanging message to that effect, a fall sabbatical sounds even nicer. I started it a week ago – or more honestly the break started without me – and the sea-change in my mood was almost immediate. There are a few people I’ll have to peek in on once in a while, but I can’t be there right now and that’s okay. Bottled up thoughts and emotions aren’t healthy for humans, so this fall is all about restorative outlets, projects, and relationships. And wow, I feel better already, just for having written that.

Part One of two …

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What we need…

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Feels like a slow roll toward the weekend, a quiet HumpDay providing the fulcrum point, rain on its way in 4…3…2…maybe. At the moment it’s 80º, 83% humidity, no breeze. We can all say *sauna*, I know we can.

Kim came home from 7am PickleBall in the park a big ol’ sweaty mess, which always heightens our appreciation for a shower with actual running water. Just yesterday we were reflecting on everything we have to be thankful for while celebrating our wedding anniversary – thirteen years of genuine happiness so far, with everything necessary to keep it working. Neither of us expected to live this long, let alone together, so every bit of it is gravy and we’re absolutely grateful.

We threw together a few ground rules for A-Day before it got here:

  1. Nothing fancy
  2. No gifting each other with anything possessing monetary value
  3. Only fun stuff allowed, no stressors
  4. Make it up as we go
  5. Come home when we’re tired

So that’s how that was. Kim played PickleBall and then we went furniture shopping in Kansas City, which turned out to be a nice little thermometer for the relationship we’re celebrating. We don’t always head down the same path when it comes to home decorating, but yesterday’s discussions contained no whining or angst, just a clear-eyed look at what the possibilities were. In that spirit, we bought a ceiling fan we both liked, and came home to further research ideas. Slice o’ pie.

Speaking of which, lunch at Granite City was simple, tasty, and fun, and the Bloody Marys were positively ambrosial. We watched DVR’d stuff in the afternoon and both fell asleep in our respective chairs, are you feeling the pathos here? The thing is, if we’re “old,” we’re happily so – life is SO much less stressful when you’re not in charge anymore. We woke up in time for a vodka toast or two, popcorn, and another KC Royals win. It was a good day, or what we refer to around here as Tuesday.

And now the rain is here and our Wednesday is complete before noon. I hope if you need rain in your week you’ll have rain. I hope if you need the sun to shine there will be nothing but that.

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need…”

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Gathering moss…

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wandering off track

hoping for the best, ha ha

disciplined I’m not

JSmith 05/31/2017

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There comes a time…

creative-thinking

nothing replaces

doing the actual work

dream all you want to

JSmith 03/15/2016

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March on…

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feels like spring is here

Mother Nature might get bit

she will not be pleased

JSmith 03/01/2017

Best of all, March means more Jayhawk Basketball, for which we are mad, I tell you.

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Keep peace in your soul …

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self-care is hard-learned

after all options used up

rest has to happen

JSmith 02/15/2016

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