Diary of a Sea Change…

I think a really good person to #SociallyDistance with would be a guitar player who cooks and likes to read. 🖤💙Got one, let’s do this…

Self-Quarantine Day One – 03/13/2020

We stocked up a little today, preparing to shelter in place and stay out of the mainstream. No TP to be found in town, but most things are still available. Came home, ready to do what’s required. Not so different for me, I leave the house two or three times a week. For Kim, no daily PickleBall, and less popping in and out of businesses on errands, but he’ll still walk before dawn unless that much time outdoors becomes a no-no.

Day Two – 03/14/2020

Kimmers went foraging for TP at 6am and scored a 12-pack fresh off the truck. No hoarding, just a gracious plenty for now. We keep remembering little things we need from the grocery store, so the list grows.

When the Sports World went dark yesterday, people started waking up to what’s going on. “Oh crap, it’s real?” Thus, no toilet paper and no hand sanitizer. Panic shows its ugly head…

Day Three – 03/15/2020

Sunday. Starting to get acquainted with life as it now stands. A Saturday…and now a Sunday…with no live events except for an obscure car race. Night-time TV shows run with skeleton crews…and now going dark. Broadway – dark. NYC shutting down. State Governors taking the responsibility to close restaurants and bars. Anti-science citizens still insisting on full participation in order to preserve the economy. Market in free-fall.

Finding straight information on the pandemic takes determination, but it’s out there. The more two people with susceptibilities know about the threat, the more likely we can avoid some of it.

Day Four – 03/16/2020

A changed world starts to adjust to changed circumstances. Reality bites. The characteristics of this virus are sobering in comparison to some of the others. Hard to detect and pin down. Spreads like wildfire once unleashed. A direct threat to people with heart/lung issues, among others.

Slept ’til 8am, woke up feeling groggy and blue. Same for Kim on the blues – he’s cut off from the physical world that keeps him clicking along. He walked before dawn again, but getting no court play will show up more and more in his mood…

A word can change the atmosphere. Got my feelings hurt this morning instead of letting it all roll off. Since we’ve spent most of our waking (and sleeping) hours together for the past 15+ years with minimal argument over anything whatsoever, it’s clear the unknown is taking a toll. We both know we’re vulnerable to the killer, and so are family members and friends we love… and so far nobody at the top is offering conclusive consensus as to what we’re dealing with, nor a desire to publicly confront it in crucial ways. Time is of the essence…

Rode with Kim to pick up prescriptions and we got fast food on the way home. He said the place was spotless and everything usually sitting out is behind the counter now. So far, Lawrence isn’t a hot spot but there are eight confirmed cases in Johnson County next door. Planning to ride this out to the end and move on.

… to be continued.


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The quiet…

Kim left the house before 7:00 this morning in rainy darkness, giving himself time to stop at the hospital for routine labs before going out to the Sports Pavilion to walk laps and play PickleBall. I could have fallen asleep again after his goodbye, but the thought of coffee and quiet drew me out of my warm nest.

Sitting here watching the rain fall and the light slowly change, a memory: I once had a little boy who, around two and three years old, could sometimes be found sitting in his dad’s big closet in the dark with his blanket over his head. Maybe it was too noisy for him out in the big spaces, but as an old soul, I think he just needed time alone to process everything.

As that little boy’s mom, our loft space is my closet, the rain is my dark, and the quiet is my blanket. I totally get him. Some of us are blessed with the affliction of feeling too much, so the defenses have to be mighty.

The kid in the closet figured things out in fine form. The mama, who’s slower on the uptake, still works on it in the quiet dark. 💙

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Rain, rain, you can stay…

rainy Monday my jam

pace slows pulse rests quiet settles in every space

thoughts roam words stir world feels viable perchance

the peace of waters rolling on

JSmith 02/24/2020

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One moment, please…

don’t startle her, curled asleep, there on the edge of the abyss

the sun is shining and her guard is down

sore winners have worn her out

let her rest her soul as the day drains away

is it one strike you’re out game over

the greatest generation would rage and weep

so sleep on ’til dawn, weary Lady, but the fight won’t quit

***

America, you in trouble, girl…

JSmith 02/10/2020

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Slow food for a snowy day…

*A timely re-post from 2013

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 stick of butter
2 15 oz cans chicken broth
24 oz. frozen egg noodles

Directions

Cook chicken, soup, butter, and broth in crock-pot on low for 6-7 hours.

Take chicken out and shred.

Put chicken back in; add noodles and cook on low for 2 hours. Stir a few times while cooking.

Suggestion: Serve over mashed potatoes, with your favorite side.

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Against all odds…

If you’re a fellow word-broker you’ve undoubtedly noticed that expressive language is not the common currency everyone deals in, and words don’t carry the same meaning across the board. PEACE, for instance, the term I’ve been flinging about for the past week or so, connotes different strokes for different folks, so in case anyone’s tiptoeing around the subject like it’s a deceptively passive quicksand bog waiting to drag you down to the Slough of Despond, feast your quaking spirit on this anonymous piece of writing that came into my hands yesterday. I’m grateful to the author, whomever he or she may be…

Knowing I can live exactly that way, free and at peace in myself, feels anything but passive or depressing, just in case there was any misunderstanding as to where I’m coming from with the PEACE thing. It comes down to making my choices for my reasons and quietly standing by them against the world. And I’m one voice in all the confusion saying you can do the same, because I know that to be true. It’s how you manage to live your one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver puts it, against all odds, and you really must! This is likely the only shot we get, kids, so get started ASAP. It’s that thing at the top of the list.

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It’s personal…

Peace. It’s a GOOD thing, as Martha Stewart (remember her?) likes to say. It isn’t easily come by, therefore of great value. Once chosen it requires a moment by moment conscious choosing until it settles into a fixed attitude. The world, of course, doesn’t magically change just because we wake up one morning and decide we’re going to wrap ourself in peace instead of constant angst…but it feels a little like it does, because the perspective shifts. A thought comes and the next one behind it is “But wait, is that my job? Is it worth my mood? Is it fair to affect Kim’s day and the life we’ve been given, this amazing second chance after all the loss we both slogged through to get here?” Reality doesn’t change a bit, but my place in it starts to take on an altered significance – and this is okay. I can get used to this. After all, nobody died recently and left me in charge again, I can probably lay down some of this heavy-duty responsibility for a while.

If you noticed, my last post wasn’t titled “Finding Peace,” but rather “Making Peace.” Most intangible things we go looking for we never really find – it works best to make them out of the raw materials we have available to us and go from there, otherwise we’re off on an endless goose chase, we get distracted, forget what the goal was, and end up frustrated and discouraged. The good things and the beautiful people have a way of finding us when we’re chill and receptive instead of tied in knots – the past week has shown me the truth of that again and I’m glad I didn’t miss it by being all wound up.

This year since March has been about tracking down some elusive health issues, and tomorrow is D-Day for a twice-postponed endoscopy/colonoscopy that for some reason has filled me with dread when it’s a rodeo I’ve been to before and know is routine. I’ve done all the self-talk and for all of Saturday and Sunday I restricted myself to liquids and soft foods in order to make the prep as benign as possible, so it’s just me being a basket case. Pretty sure it’s because last time we tried this I had that super-scary totally unrelated sulfa-drug reaction in the middle of everything that landed me in the ER, so you see what we’re up against here – it’s never easy, kids, jeez. How will I ever convince you I’m not simply crazy? Never mind.

So… I’m “starving,” but there’s no food in sight for me until late tomorrow morning after the propofol wears off, when Kim’s promised me a salted-caramel malt, but at least for now black coffee is considered a clear liquid, how cool is that? This whole process is much improved from when I did it ten years ago, so see, it doesn’t pay to worry and fret. Far better to let yourself be at peace.

You heard it here first.

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Of seasons, surprises & sass..

What a season of life this is. While I own up front to having been keenly honed in on the political landscape since at least Obama, a lot of heavy-duty things have gone right on happening on a personal level that have required all the strength, stamina, patience, and fire-proof humor I could throw at them.

This past year alone has been full of opportunities for natural growth. Kim shattered his wrist and went through months of healing and therapy, the PT part of which is ongoing via his guitar playing, which the accident could have ended but didn’t. It’s sweet when I can neatly tie up all the loose ends like that – it so rarely happens in real life.

I found out about a friend’s suicide – heard it from a stranger at Christmas time, and that’s exactly what I mean about loose ends. I’m still dealing with it, but I am dealing because I know from experience that when you don’t it gets all kinds of worse. Natural growth.

People we love dissolved their relationship, something we were not only the last to see coming, we never saw it at all. We’re either a) true believers, b) gullible, c) out of touch with the world, or d) all of the above. I’m guessing it’s d) and I don’t care, for all the right reasons – mine.

Other people we love retired and moved several states away. We’re deliriously happy for them, but tears have been and will be shed. Lots of great stories already, though, so on we roll.

A few people exasperated me this year with their strange need for me to think like they do or justify why not, so I changed my whole approach to social media and it’s been like a benediction – such sweet peace. Now I can in some ways, for some few moments at a time, order my immediate world the way I like it. And in seasons of life such as we find ourselves currently experiencing, that matters.

Namasté, friends. 🙏

If you could see inside my head, it might look something like this…

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Peace …

Best wishes for peace and joy to you and all you love throughout the holiday season and the new year…

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Try a little happiness…

field of summer flowers

Hello blogging buddies. A thought hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks this morning – I used to be the also-proverbial ray of sunshine. A daisy. A Pollyanna, a fixer-upper, a this-is-not-so-bad girl, a “we just need to sit down and talk this out” person who was always about the positives and the possibilities. You too?

Have we disappeared for good, we thoroughly optimistic, cheerful souls who kept the world afloat through sheer determination and plucky grit? We haven’t, right? Not for good? We’re just biding our time until it’s safe to stick our heads out again, right? Because if we’re really over and done, that would be too sad, and I guarantee the world would miss us. They think they wouldn’t, because we’re annoying and always underfoot, but they definitely would, and it wouldn’t take long because life is no good without hope and optimism. People get irritable and touchy, including us feel-goods, and it’s not fit for man nor beast out there, which is right about where I find my happy lil’ ass this morning, so it’s past time for a major attitude adjustment. (I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I’m keenly aware of this.)

I’ve Twittered and Facebooked and coffee’d to the max so far, written a couple of “sorry for that thing I said when I was tired” notes (oh yes, until my dying day), made a mental list of “Miles to Go Before I Sleep” tasks, and thought about a nap at 9am but opted for a little more coffee instead. It’s Monday and the slate is clean so I might tread lightly through my life for a bit just for grins…

Go out there and be happy campers, my fellow believers in the good stuff – the world isn’t expecting you so it’ll be a nice surprise all around. x0x0x0x

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Just me, talking to you…

YBA_How-to-Make-the-Most-of-the-End-of-Summer

The world sucks, doesn’t it. Life and everything about it. The news is dire. Social media is awful. Humans are horrible. Things happen on the daily that make us want to go back to bed and forget we belong to a race, any race, especially the human one.

Except. Except every day something beautiful happens. Every. Single. Day. If I extricated myself from the morass that is Facebook I’d miss the wonderful things my friend’s son with speech apraxia says and does every week now – funny things, amazing things, things that make me laugh and cry with both of them. I’d miss the twins another friend’s daughter had just the other day, one boy, one girl, so sweet and tiny on their mama’s chest, her eyes full of tears from the overwhelming emotion of it all.

It’s a little quiet over there these days on my feed – people don’t really know what to say while we wait for the other shoe to drop, and we’re hoping to still be friends after the world ends or doesn’t. There are people I’ve known forever and people I’ve never been near in person, and they all mean something to me so I’m staying cool, posting a few laughs, keeping things friendly, sharing something from my side of the fence once in a while but on the down-low so as not to disturb the balance too much while maintaining my right to be me.

Twitter is where I let my bad self out to run around, such as it is. I’m not raw, vulgar, or spitting in the face of authority, but if you’re looking for careful civility you should maybe stick with my blog and my Facebook feed. There’s a rumor that I also have an Instagram account, but I can never remember that or think to log in and take a look at what’s accumulating there in my name.

Summer is trying to switch us over to fall, that melancholy time of endings. I’m ready – fresh out of creative ideas for now, so let’s see what’s next. Change is necessary, boys and girls, so here we go.

I’m so glad we could have this little talk – you’re the best for listening… 💙

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The accidental sabbatical…

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Things – they happen. The heat. The rude surprises. The unbelievable and the bizarre. The days and nights when the dank Hound of Funk sits on your chest and won’t move. Things – they deteriorate in a heartbeat and leave you with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth and your brain encased in glue.

This space has been mostly shuttered for the summer due to the above, not on purpose, it’s just worked out that way one steamy day at a time. I sit here to write, while anything and everything happens but that. For some reason, Facebook and Twitter have to be monitored incessantly, even though they’re primarily what empower the big ugly dog to bring me down. And once the smelly old Funkmeister makes himself at home it’s all about staring out the window with a throat full of tears, marking time until Happy Hour.

Last week something clicked on the inside of me and I was all at once disgusted with myself for being passive and discouraged and lowdown blue over feeling helpless, which made me mad, which ignited some good energy, which scared the Dog, which made me laugh, and I haven’t had to swallow any tears since, nor has the Funk Dog come slinking back. That’s what we’re calling progress around here in lieu of light at the end of the tunnel until we get some.

A friend this morning posted “8 Warning Signs That You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted:”

  1. You Lack Motivation
  2. You’re Easily Irritated
  3. You Can’t Sleep
  4. You’re Having Anxiety Attacks
  5. Small Things Upset You
  6. You Feel An Urge To Cry
  7. You Feel Dizzy And Nauseated
  8. You Feel Detached

I was there on six of them and I have a feeling we could ALL benefit from a stretch of R&R right now. The world’s an unholy mess, that’s a fact. But here we are, against the odds. It’s summer — time to read, have a cold brew or two or a few, enjoy the sun and the water, and love on our babies of every age, size, and description. I’m only one small person – in the end maybe my answer is to better the space I’m in and to do no harm. So okay then, joy to the world and happy sunshine, and I mean that sincerely. We can work this out.

 

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On losing your spark…

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Yes, it’s Monday, which is no biggie since I’m retired, but there are so many of them and they relentlessly click past while sneering at my lack of productivity. It’s demoralizing, not to put too maudlin a point on it, especially since I know the Monday voices are absolutely right.

I was in a conversation thread last week about losing your spark – apparently it’s a thing right now, who knew? Mine died the night of November 8, 2016, and that’s all I’m going to say in that regard except that it’s proving to be a long road back. In last week’s conversation, a beautiful friend who knows whereof she speaks counseled starting small, one thing at a time, racking up little successes, continuing to move forward. She’s right. It works, even when you know you’re still swimming in molasses.

It just got easier. This morning, October 30, 2017, the sense of being suspended in a state of limbo is gone for the first time in eleven months, which is once again all I’m going to say, except that Kim told me at lunch “You look adorable today. You look like you’re feeling better.”

I know it’s still a long road ahead, but I’m content for now just to feel the spark again. I have a project that I want and need to finish and, like other things, the process has suffered from my lack of ability to engage. So while it feels like somebody’s home again, I think I’ll get at that.

Wishing each of you sunshine, clarity, and peace today…

 

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Duty calls…

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“An adventure a day” has been our marriage mantra from the beginning – any time we find ourselves up against a plot twist, we have to figure out how to turn it into something fun, interesting, challenging, or in some other way memorable. Easy-peasy most days, as it turns out, and we have some great little stories to show for our efforts.

We’ve also each carried a desire, over the years, to belong somewhere. Kim’s been looking for it since his growing-up years in SoCal, and I spent a lot of years wishing to feel at home the way I did on the family farm where I grew up, as I felt forever the outsider on my married-into one.

Lawrence is proving to be that safe space for both of us – the vibe, the weather, the manageable scope of our surroundings, the sense-of-new that’s in the air we breathe. Being seated on a jury this past week only added to the knowledge that I’m a real citizen here.

Physically and psychically it was a challenge (aka adventure). Having been a jury member twice now, both criminal cases, it’s my heartfelt opinion that sitting in judgement of a fellow human is the heaviest responsibility this side of bringing home a new baby.

The charge was Criminal DUI, the charged a young Hispanic man. Young white prosecutor, older Hispanic defense attorney. Young white highway patrolman, phlebotomist, and KBI expert. All-white jury pool. All-white jurors, five women, one man. (We learned that misdemeanor offenses require a six-person jury and felonies twelve.) I think I could be an effective jury consultant after watching the attorneys narrow the pool by dismissing every male the approximate age of the defendant and keeping all of us who looked like sisters, moms, and grandmothers.

The charges…

1.) Operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner

2.) Driving 92mph on a 75mph interstate

3.) Driving under the influence of alcohol

4.) Refusing a breathalyzer and a blood test

The highway patrolman’s testimony was articulate and the evidence of speeding was solid. The KBI’s toxicology reports were quite conclusive and delivered in a succinct manner by a young woman who clearly reached her level of expertise by virtue of knowing things. The phlebotomist from the hospital demonstrated serious credibility and provided key testimony about the chain of evidence. In the only nebulous part of the evidence presented, the grainy dashcam video shot at 2am was helpful but not conclusive as to the charge of unsafe driving.

We were the typically assorted crew, and although we exchanged very little personal information during off moments, our personalities were coming out by deliberation time. Our lone guy struck me as neutral, right down the middle, just the facts, please, all in a day’s work. Of the five of us women, one was a no-nonsense Fox News conservative (her words) and not interested in nor affected by any discussion of potentially mitigating circumstances; another was an educator, probably in her 40s, who engaged us in discussing various scenarios and possibilities; there was an adorbs sorority girl from The Hill who seemed to be most concerned about making all the numbers add up so as not to wrongly convict the defendant; then you have me, the eldest in the room, focused on all my unanswered questions; and finally, a young woman not too long out of college and involved in a career. She volunteered to serve as foreman, which surprised me until I saw her in action.

Foreman Woman efficiently and dispassionately took us through each of the charges one by one and we discussed them until we felt ready to vote. We voted GUILTY on three of the four charges, the only logical thing to do in view of the evidence. Even as we filed back into the courtroom, my brain was still trying to work out why the defendant had requested a jury trial for a DUI, and how a conviction was going to affect his mother, who was in the courtroom both days. Nonetheless, it was done, over.

Afterward, the judge came to the deliberation room and talked to us, and in answering our questions she provided two key pieces of information that have allowed me to let it all go:

1.) Sometimes people request jury trials on the outside chance that a jury might have enough doubt or sympathy to exonerate them.

2.) This was his second DUI offense.

Okay, I’m sorry, nice-looking young man, go do your time and learn some things about life.

And I’m sorry, mister well-trained professional law enforcement officer, that I entertained the slightest possibility of not taking a proven menace off the highways. Wow, he looked so clean and earnest and hopeful, too.

When I met Kim for lunch I realized that I was shaking all over, mostly from relief that all of us together had managed to do the right thing. The heavy sense of responsibility stayed with me into the evening and I found myself crying over silly things on TV.

Alexander Hamilton, et.al., placed a lot of trust in the jury concept – that Americans through the years would retain enough personal integrity to make life and death decisions as concerning their fellow man. This one was fairly easy to own because the solid truth of the body of evidence was overwhelming – we were presented with established facts from credible witnesses. And yet when you walk into the deliberation room you’re hit with the sense of accountability you owe to the entire process, and that’s good – it should never be an easy assignment.

I’m relieved and gratified to say that heritage didn’t show up in any way as a topic for consideration – we discussed only the facts and the evidence supporting them as they related to the charges. Each of my fellow humans on the jury surprised me in happy ways and each one taught me something. Thank you, our beloved forebears, for entrusting this important task to simple citizens – we truly are all in this together.

This, for whatever reasons, has been a hard post to write – I’ve been trying to find the words since last Thursday and now I’ve written a whole LOT of them and this has grown long. I keep thinking of what the educator in the room said: “If any one of us were to find ourselves in trouble in a court of law, we would hope for an honest, serious jury who would consider nothing but the facts of our case.” Amen. It matters.

 

 

 

 

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…and a red umbrella…

rainy-day-hd-wallpaper-1-6826

rain makes me happy

when the sky cries i feel joy

am i damaged goods?

JSmith 09/18/2017

 

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