Totally random…

Happy 100th, Betty, and thank you.

Remember broomstick skirts? I do, and I was doing fairly okay with the aging process until my throat started looking like one… so now, like Nora Ephron, I feel bad about my neck. Filters (did you know they have cotton-candy hair?) may or may not have been employed in the making of this image, but if any were, they were clearly defenseless against the throat rebellion. Just a reminder of how real life can be…

Waiting for spring with a whole new intensity this year, which is misguided since we’re barely into winter for real. The thought of walking outdoors, on real surfaces, in fresh air and sunshine, is genuinely tantalizing at this point… but since it’s currently 12º out, headed for a blazing high of 19, I plan to make the acquaintance of the treadmill in the 5th-floor workout room in about 5… 4… 3… Time to grease the zircs, oil the hinges, and get this show on the road. Rita Jo’s out there every nice day, finding the cool walking trails, and I’m consumed with envy, so I have to get there… starting with a benign stroll on the flat sidewalk along the Kaw. FIRST NICE DAY!!

Still maintaining my extended fast from TV news, but I’m fully aware that the insanity continues unabated. It’s cause for both tears and laughter, so I look hard for the humor and kindred spirits.

*****

When it’s over, it’s over, but I keep a good thought.

On the subject of current events…

The weekend starts tomorrow, or if you live in #lfk, tonight. Absorb all the good from it…

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What they wanted…

Artist Credit: Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour
"We wanted to help people
We were smart and driven
We loved science and physiology, humans and disease
So we made a commitment
We signed up
It was an honor

We read thousands of pages
Attended hundreds of lectures
Pulled all-nighters
Took more exams than we thought possible
Finals week felt insurmountable
But it didn’t break us
It made us stronger

We learned statistics and biochemistry
Immunology and pathophysiology
We mastered genetics, virology and pharmacology
We read scientific papers and learned how to dissect them
Papers, not videos
It was an honor

We came running when you needed us
Literally, running down the hallway
To the ICU, the trauma bay, labor and delivery
I need help, you said
We can help, we said
It was an honor

There were moments that we thought would break us
Moments that drove us to journaling, to therapy, to nightmares
Broken babies.
Paralyzed children.
Dead pregnant mothers with three kids at home.
The wail of a mother whose son just died.
We bent but we did not break
We returned because you needed us
And we could help
It was an honor

Then there was fear
Fear of walking into our place of work
Fear that we’d be killed by going to work
Fear that we’d kill a loved one because of our work
There were tears and sleepless nights and anti-anxiety medications
But you banged your pots and pans
You sent us pizzas and called us heroes
You needed us
We could help
So we wore our masks, and our gowns, and our gloves, and our goggles
We decontaminated ourselves before going home and isolated ourselves from our families
We almost broke
It was an honor

How quickly the joy turned to defeat
Elation to rage
You’ve learned to do your own research now
You know better than we do
Gaslighting is your language
Your selfishness is astounding
You don’t want our help when we ask you to stay healthy
Yet you arrive at our doors begging for help at the end

You stole our resources
You hobbled our ability to help those who did what they were supposed to do
You killed our patients by filling our beds and using up our ventilators
We can’t help any more
You broke us
There is no more honor”

- Anonymous

A poem written by a physician after reflecting on the veteran who died in Texas because of the ICU bed shortage. 
Artist credit:
Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour

*****NOT A DISCLAIMER: I read yesterday that people are simply done with COVID and all its iterations, finished, through, sick of hearing about it, and I know in my bones that's a fact. But it doesn't change the equal and opposite fact that COVID doesn't care, it just wants to eat, sleep, live, and reproduce, and will for as long as we allow it. Our refusal to deal with facts is bringing our amazing, incredible, unmatched, behemoth of a healthcare apparatus down on our heads and the implosion will be... simply beyond. We've been warned... and warned... and warned... and we do not care. Sars-cov-2 is now part of the warp and woof of human existence, and the cost will be incalculable. "The fall thereof was great... "

There's nothing you nor I can do about any of it now, unless you're unvaccinated. You have the power to do that much and it isn't too late yet. The variants are becoming increasingly uglier, but the vaccinated are staying out of hospitals when they do fall ill. However tired you are of knowing about it, the death toll goes on relentlessly. And the people who once had the tools, energy, and incentive to help are finding other ways to stay alive. May whatsoever gods there be have mercy on us.

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Personal choice…

There’s a fun little thing that happens to some of us when we cross a certain threshold on the I-can’t-believe-I’m-this-old track: it sort of stops mattering whether other people like us very much. Except for animals and babies… we still care about the innocents because they look straight at us without trying to hide anything and all they want to know is whether we might hurt them.

Here’s the deal, people can like me or not, it doesn’t matter much either way… I have far less time on this planet than I’ve ever had before and I can’t spend it worrying about things I can’t change. It isn’t that I don’t care, it’s simply none of my business what anybody thinks of me, thank goodness. Jeez, look how many I’s and me’s are in this paragraph alone and it’s obvious to both of us that it’s time to lay it down. Nobody with this many rings around the ol’ cankles has the latent energy to deal with that much id, baby. I lied about the cankles.

What is this gibberish and why does it pass for sanity-based some days? Could it be that’s what the world feels like in my head when I’m being honest? Ah, yes… yes it could. This has been a time, so people really should lower their expectations and get over it because most of us are doing the best we can. A lot of “doing my best” these days is sarcasm-based and slathered in humor because I wouldn’t survive without it. Humor gets its funny from sideswiping truth so closely you can see the paint-transfer marks after it goes by, and there’s almost nothing better for getting through life.

Christmas is a logical place to start this morning…

TOPICAL…

Another thing about humor is that it isn’t always funny.

I like being a baby boomer and except for the obvious drawbacks, I like being older. It takes a long time to get here, with a lot of mishaps along the way, but it’s more than worth the trip. The mishaps and setbacks have built a system for the long haul and I’m here for it.

Boomers are fierce…

We know shit.
Rarely the first time at least.
We know this for sure.
If yours doesn’t, mine would say you’re lucky. Maybe knowing how to say things is the greatest threat of all.
Pretty sure there’s a book or two in me that will never see daylight.

*****

If life and truth are compadres, we all end up here…

“The parts of yourself that you gave away… ”

Never, never, never regret the giving.

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Thankful…

Holidays now are ghosts of traditions past, but yesterday felt right. Rita and Kim did the cooking, kept it simple but delicious, and all the feelings were mutual. Three people in one room on the same page makes for a relaxing observance and we enjoyed it all.

In the afternoon, Rita went to a movie with friends and we flaked out with football, isn’t that how it’s done? We missed getting a picture of Kimmers, but he snapped one of us for posterity since the hope of “next year in Jerusalem” is never guaranteed.

*****

And oh wait… here’s Kim on yet another beautiful day this November… 💙

We hope everyone’s gathering was peaceful, all hearts grateful, all ties intact. That’s a lot.

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Sifting sprites…

We are geologists, combing layers of life’s sediment,

scuffing our feet across forgotten expanses left behind

as sprites stir, sleeping off grudges just beneath the surface…

and they are not happy.

They like neither themselves nor what differs from self…

and they are not happy.

Life is too long and too brief to provide shelter and light

to zealous sprites who after long sleep exist in the world to

insure greatest maximum distress for earth’s other inhabitants,

because why should any existing thing find what sprites can’t have.

.

So we go in search of other worlds… pockets of benign welcome where

we finally drop the shoulders, unclench the jaw, and free our tongue

from the roof of our mouth.

We say the words that hold life and mean them… words that rescue the Happy…

and we are happy.

We find the ones who get us… and in knowing us, they heal us.

Valuable trust is carefully rationed until we find that not everyone we knew

has turned spritely…

and with all the world gone dusty and dry

a cooling rain shower to the heart regenerates what matters.

JSmith 11/11/2021

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An homage…

My mom was one of nine siblings and I grew up surrounded by cousins, with our maternal grandparents at the center of the circus, always. It was one of those families where the Christmas presents fill up half the living room and the dining tables take all the space that’s left. We were raised on humor, hugs, and a knowing instilled by farmers and former military that we were expected to suck it up and survive.

But Grandpa died of lung cancer… and then when Grandma, the Queen Bee, left us at age 95… all the air went out. We went from time-honored massive family reunions to none, literally in a heartbeat. The Clan has dispersed itself around the globe over the years, so there are generations of cousins I’ll never know, even by name. And it’s sobering to realize that most of the cousins I grew up with I’ll never lay eyes on again. They’re there… I’m here… neither of us is going here nor there for all the reasons… so the last time we saw each other… was the last time we’ll ever see each other.

People change. Life changes us if we’re living it at all. We assume we know the humans with whom we share a gene pool, but it’s a delusion of youth and immaturity… the longer we live, the greater the distance between us. And sharing a bloodline doesn’t mean we’ll get along, or even like each other. The current mood of the planet has soaked into every part of society by now, making family dynamics a minefield… therefore, at least half my extended family considers me “better in theory than in practice” at best… and I’m good with that.

Everything ends. The most beautiful things in the world – like a big crazy family with love coming out its pores – don’t remain static, they can’t. So I’m paying homage to a dynasty that was and is no more. It was never what we purposely remember it to be… but close enough for family and fairytales.

WHERE IT STARTED…

WHERE IT WENT… x 3 or 4 by now

Possibly the last big reunion we had. These are all 1st cousins, about half the total at the time.

Fall melancholy… moody rambling… somber thoughts…grieving the losses… celebrating what was. All respect to a big ol’ family that’s tried as hard to be human as any I know. And on we all go…

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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…

*****

*****

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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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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Addendum…

There’s still such a rumble out there about Simone Biles’ supposed “dereliction of duty,” I’m posting another story that deserves to be remembered. Simone Biles stands as the Greatest Of All Time in gymnastics, and owes the world precisely nothing. That she’s being dissed for declining to risk life and limb for people she’ll never know and who will never attempt to rise to the greatest heights of anything whatsoever, is sublimely ridiculous, end of story.

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

The woman on the left is Elena Mukhina, the 1978 women’s gymnastics World Champion. She broke her leg and was not permitted the appropriate time to heal. Soviet gymnastics coaches pressured doctors to remove her cast early so she could start training for the 1980 Olympics. She protested heavily, as she knew her leg was not properly healed and would not withstand the grueling training regimen typical of her sport. Trainers and coaches dismissed her concerns and forced her to continue her training.

While practicing the Thomas Salto (since banned for being so dangerous), she under-rotated due to her newly weakened leg, and she landed on her chin. She broke her neck, which rendered her quadriplegic for the rest of her life. She was 20 years old at the time and died at 46.

Reports from Tokyo are that Simone Biles does not trust her own mind and body right now. Given the high level of difficulty (and danger) of the skills she performs, it is asking A LOT to expect her to continue to perform before that self-trust is restored. By pulling out of the team finals, she is listening to her body and her mind and giving herself enough time to heal so she can continue being the badass Queen she was meant to be.

Simone is doing what Elena was not permitted to do – be a voice for her own body and mental health. Anybody who would malign Simone for pulling out of the team final (and daring them to settle for the silver medal) should consider how they’d feel if, instead of reading the headline “Simone Biles pulls out of team final,” they were greeted with “Simone Biles paralyzed during dismount.”

And if you asked the rest of Team USA if they’d rather have a healthy Simone Biles or a gold medal, you know damn well what they’d answer, and they wouldn’t have to think for a second.

Angie Woodson – 7/27/2021

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Oh, I love a rainy day…

The last thing I remember is Kim saying in my ear, “I’m leaving to play PickleBall. It’s raining, so keep sleeping…”

Two delicious hours later I’m awake to gray skies and pouring rain, the quintessential way to start a Thursday in July. There’s even lightning and thunder, bonus for the girl who misses all the nighttime storms without her ears connected. Time is racing since we unquarantined – we’re already at the end of another week and the middle of yet another month and I can’t point to much of anything as a mile marker, but a still, wet, thunderous Thursday morning, with a faint glow on the forest from the sun that’s up there somewhere… is memorable. And thank you, by the way, universe, for gravity.

It’s 10:45 am and some of the streetlights are still on as the skies keep pouring down. I peeked at the weather map and it looks promising for a nicely socked-in day to start the weekend, which here in #LFK traditionally starts at 5pm on Thursday. Or 5Am, whichever comes first.

Since feeling good makes me feel good, I saved some silliness to share, plus a smidgen of seriousness…

*****

Barns & Stable… Michael Hors

*****

For Kim, who as a Navy man started in the ship’s galley as a cook and sailed back into port on the bridge as a navigator. It ain’t ALL glory, baby.

*****

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About beauty…

It’s been raining for days, and pouring for the last hour. No one could love rain more than I do, even with the accompanying melancholy, and today’s a perfect time for sharing a beautiful poem that reached into the center of me yesterday…

SILVER

“How many years of beauty do I have left?”
she asks me.
How many more do you want?
Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.
When you are 80 years old
and your beauty rises in ways
your cells cannot even imagine now
and your wild bones grow luminous and
ripe, having carried the weight
of a passionate life.
When your hair is aflame
with winter
and you have decades of
learning and leaving and loving
sewn into
the corners of your eyes
and your children come home
to find their own history
in your face.
When you know what it feels like to fail
ferociously
and have gained the
capacity
to rise and rise and rise again.
When you can make your tea
on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon
and still have a song in your heart
Queen owl wings beating
beneath the cotton of your sweater.
Because your beauty began there
beneath the sweater and the skin,
remember?
This is when I will take you
into my arms and coo
YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING
you’ve come so far.
I see you.
Your beauty is breathtaking.

Jeannette Encinias

********************

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Joy of Comfort Food…

It’s a gorgeous day! We’re working on a project that has us going back and forth to Kansas City and today was one of those, so we had a short meeting and then hit our new fav spot for lunch, where today’s specials were ham & beans, and hot-beef sandwiches. That big hot-beef plate looked and tasted like what my dad and I used to get at Mrs. Taylor’s Café in Dodge City America when I was in grade school, and that makes three times in as many weeks when I’ve been close to tears over food. Daddy would take me with him sometimes on sale days and treat the two of us to Mrs. Taylor’s on the way to the sale barn, sometimes sharing a piece of pie if cattle prices were up. Sight, sound, taste, aroma, all the things intrinsic to memory, were there today while I devoured the whole meal, leaving Kim shocked and grinning. And yes, good ol’ Wonder Bread, which I hadn’t eaten in decades. Feels like I’ve been hungry for a year but couldn’t make it go down – this was like buttah, and life is good. It was a fun day out, all three hours of it, but ask me how I know I’m in my third trimester of living and I’ll tell you it’s because I’d rather be home than anywhere else on the face of the earth.

Thoughts shared on a Thursday…

********************

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The After

It was fall just last month, with leaves covering the ground while our hemisphere said night-night ’til spring… and now spring is HERE, or will be in a couple of days. It’s been cold this week, but the grass is green and the trees are budding. My tall duck-blind here on the corner tells me the story every day, and the takeaway is that nothing is final except death, so where there’s life… hope exists.

I observed a moment of silence yesterday in honor of my Diary-of-The-Year-That-Was, after I made my final entry. She was a sweet muse, my diary friend, and she carried me through dark and light for 365 days without leaving me to my own ends. I missed her immediately, I miss her still… but endings are sometimes the next step in the process if you do it right. I had an imaginary friend around age four whose name was Agnes Opal and whose persona I absorbed, along with her delicious moniker, but she didn’t make it to 1st Grade with me. We were country kids without the privilege of kindergarten at our small school, so I managed to shed all vestiges of Agnes before I was found out by my peers, OMG. Endings… don’t argue when they stop you in your tracks – you may have escaped a fate worse than death and you’ll never even know. My uncles thought it was just damn cute when I said my name was Agnes Opal, but it wouldn’t have given me a great start on the playground, so yeah… endings. Once you figure out that LIFE CONSISTS OF CHANGE from womb to tomb, you own the formula for peace. But full disclosure, it’s tricky to apply.

Today’s our official immunity date after our COVID vaccinations, which will change very few things in our immediate world except for that breathe-a-little-easier feeling. We’ve done what we can, we dealt with a wonky health year in our household, and we’ll keep masking in public for as long as we need to. Douglas County’s new cases yesterday were ZERO, so there’s that hopey-changey thing again, always in the background.

I couldn’t be more ready for spring and the joy of walking onto the balcony barefoot and soaking up sunshine. It’s a good time to come out of the cave.

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It’s Thursday in America… page 225

Kim Smith 03/04/2021

Day 354 – 03/04/2021

This is the day. We’re here… March 4th. Word on the street is that Q is in charge, the former guy will be re-inaugurated today as America’s rightful president, JFK Jr. and Elvis will appear on the Capitol steps, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be impeached, and Mike Pence will turn into an actual Q-tip and spontaneously combust, setting off fireworks INSIDE the dome. It’s gonna be LIT, America! Meanwhile, Congress opted to take a skip day, which puts a damper on the fun and games, and I’m just gonna hide and watch while the dreams go somewhere to die. My sympathy to those who find themselves on the wrong side of history today.

We’re still bathed in pleasant temps and sunshine, and we have things to keep us occupied and moving forward, so that’s the plan. Kim’s morning and part of his afternoon are full, and this evening is our date with destiny at Sigler’s for second shots. I felt life returning as soon as we got the first one, and all the things I haven’t let myself think about for the past year are rising to the top again.

This picture my friend Ivy posted has all the feels in it and says things I want to but can’t. I don’t think he’ll mind if I save it in my diary for future times when I need its message…

Each successive generation of humans sees itself as the be-all-end-all to the world, but life goes on, over and over. We’ll soon be returning to a less-tethered lifestyle and I hope it will be with the intent to make things better than The Before. It would be a tragedy to have isolated ourselves for a year and learned nothing.

Good news, the Ship of State is afloat again.

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A Thursday… page 221

Kim Smith 02/23/2021

Day 347 – 02/25/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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