Riding it out… page 52

Day 88 – 06/08/2020

Life returns, like green shoots across a fire-scorched terrain. Saturday evening we picked up fresh garden produce from friends and spent a couple of hours with them in the shade of their hugemongous back yard, quietly celebrating a birthday and reconnecting. It was affirming and highly comforting.

Yesterday morning we went to Rita’s, McD’s breakfast in hand, to help her with yard work. My help was slated to consist of sitting on the porch watching the big kids, but the mosquitos got wind of it, passed the word, and I had three rather alarming welts before I knew what hit me. My reaction to things lately is whack, so I retreated into the cool dark of the living room to ponder my uselessness.

Those two opportunities for connection have satisfied my sociable jones for the foreseeable and I’m content to wait for the next great idea someone has. Ready to sit on Cielito’s patio before too long, and see other friends when it feels right. Douglas County is striving to be New Zealand and doing well at it so far – 67 total cases, 0 deaths. But someone in last Sunday’s peaceful march of thousands has tested positive and wasn’t wearing a mask, so the risk has been set loose among us anew.

And the beat goes on. We think, plan, and adapt, working toward a day when we, our loved ones, our community, and the world are safer and life is kinder to the human race.

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In… page 47

Day 67 – 05/18/2020

My baby sister, Señorita Margarita Rita, lives ten minutes from me but we hadn’t seen each other since March 10th. I put on actual clothes, shoes, and eye makeup and she came over today bringing the sunshine. Wow. Needed that. It was time to feel like a person again and enjoy the perks pertaining thereto. It was time to laugh a lot.

We distanced – no hugs, spaced apart – but that’s a distance I can live with since it was the only one in evidence. It’s affirming and gratifying when the people you love get you.

Because I have sisters, I will always have friends.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 05/17/2020

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Still in here… page 44

Day 60 – 05/11/2020

Dear Diary… I didn’t forget you, I just took a 4-day weekend to contemplate the error of my ways and re-visit my anger issues, which may or may not have required generous amounts of alcohol and endless games in the virtual worlds I haunt.

A thorn-in-the-side I am… I’ve never learned to dissemble and pretend matters of life-and-death aren’t real, which irritates the stuffing out of people. Everything’s SURreal – in the middle of a plague that requires social-guideline cooperation from the global community, Americans are now SOLDIERS, fighting a WAR, and we must buck up and march into the maw – who do you think makes billionaires their money, for goodness sake?

No allowances are made for grieving – its heavy pall across the nation has never been addressed by the general running this war – and his loyal troops shame us if we try to put a human face on any of it. “Chin up, keep marching, there’s no crying in war, slacker!” chant the Right-to-Life people as they again force us to ask, WHOSE right?

It’s a challenge to corral the cognitive dissonance and mash it all together in a livable form.

But we won’t grieve if we don’t care, so… NEW RULE:

Standing by for peace in our time …

Photo credits: Kim Smith – 5/10/2020 from our balcony – rainbow cloud

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Staying in… page 41

Day 53 – 05/04/2020

Took the weekend off – no blogging, and I moved just enough to signal that I was still alive. The limbo state kicks my butt for all the reasons, while also appealing to my hermit-girl mindset and natural tendency to shift into neutral and stay there.

Good weekend. And a sweet gift this morning – a young relative who shares my outlook and value system sent me a friend request on FB. Feels encouraging in a way nothing else has in a while, especially when the gulf is wide between me and so much of my extended family.

This was our 8th Saturday and Sunday inside, and every Monday I vow to be more “constructive” somehow… the odds for this one are iffy as ever. But it did dawn on me yesterday why I’m currently addicted to the games I play – each of the three lets me create an environment I like, and it’s about being able to establish order and beauty by my own efforts while chaos goes on “out there.”

So… Monday… let’s do this, and may the 4th be with us.

I do kinda need to cut my hair again, but birds aren’t nesting in it yet…

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Sunrise photo by Kim Smith

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Staying in… page 37

Day 46 – 04/27/2020

Pretty morning, with rain before sunup. Kim planted asparagus ferns yesterday and they’ve had their first drink of rainwater – always a good omen.

Last night we watched “No Direction Home,” a Scorsese follow-up documentary on Bob Dylan which is likely precisely the way Bobby Zimmerman wants to be remembered. At 3-and-a-half hours it was way worth it for these two old throwbacks – great footage and interviews… and all the remembered things.

I had Kim document my home-grown haircut, which called for a touch of makeup, and when I opened my kit nothing looked all that familiar… like what do I do first? Hadn’t so much as looked at in 50+ days. Here’s my DIY Monkey Business in the front, Squirrel Party in the back haircut, still damp from the shower. My grandparents were pioneers, dammit, I will survive.

And in case you need to hear this today… Kurt Vonnegut for the win… again. 💙

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No shelter… page 31

Day 39 – 04/20/2020

Happy 420 Day, boys and girls… thought I’d start with the GOOD news.

No diary entry yesterday… feels like I’ve run out of words.

Here’s the thing… Moms are… moms. You really need to know only one thing about us – don’t fuck with our kids. Mine’s an RN in Atlanta, where they’re expecting the virus to peak sometime this week, and the venom being displayed toward the medical community has ended me.

I’m done. The cruelty of the MAGA movement has helped me to kill my darlings:

  • a naive belief that if people just hear the truth it will change them
  • Midwestern guilt that makes me leave the door open to people for too long
  • any remaining misconceptions about what Christians stand for
  • a deluded impression that when required to suck it up and deal, Americans knew how

As John (my kid) said to me this morning, “It’s hard to tell how or when a shift will occur in anyone that will turn them into the very creation they once abhorred” … but I’m watching it happen in real time.

“All logical arguments can be defeated by the simple refusal to reason logically.”–Physicist Steven Weinberg

This short column by John Pavlovitz says it perfectly. I hope you’ll read it…

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Gimme Shelter… page 26

Day 32 – 04/13/2020

Chilly morning after a frigid windy night – sounded more like the prairie than the forest.

DEEP THOUGHTS ON A COLD MONDAY: I started training for this years ago, this social distancing, and every day I settle further into what I know is true. Being a loose cannon in a big extended family makes you figure out who you are or get run over, and you learn that self-defense is a waste of energy. It is what it is. It will be what it will be. My goals haven’t changed… live well now, inside myself, and head for a happy old age.

We’ve heard of at least one Lawrence church congregation that met together yesterday. We’ve been at 39 virus cases here for a few days… we’ll see where we are in two weeks…

Churches aren’t being attacked or persecuted, they’re being asked to live out what they say they believe in – love. Care for other people. Solid stewardship in the world. So yeah… what made me stay so long at the fair?

This must be a Monday. I should eat something and go to work on the hours…

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SQ Diary… page 20

Self-Quarantine Day 25 – 04/06/2020

Watched a movie, slept, got up, drank coffee.

Ate stuff. Played computer games. Left the news on, avoiding city hospital segments.

Folded laundry, paid bills, looked out the windows. Gray skies again.

Balmy afternoon, sans sunshine.

The minutes ticked by, the sun went down, we gave it up again.

*****

… Day 26 – 04/07/2020

The fine line between tuning out and DROPPING out is blurring a little. Yesterday had a never-ending quality to it and I thought far too many thoughts. Not having the answers to the simplest questions is a form of torture…

Being labeled an essential worker doesn’t make you expendable. But maybe we have an endless supply of dedicated humans to feed into the maw, so essential protections for the essential members of society are not an essential part of the picture. There’s no place to hide from that knowledge.

Knowing that nothing under the sun will ever change the conversation in America weighs heavy. It would be a well of strength if we were all in this together… but we can’t hook it up where it counts in a crisis. We’re fighting the virus, the unknown, our fears, ourselves, and each other while Americans of all ages die in a battle they can’t win. If this strikes you as being political, well… point made.

So that was yesterday, my diary friend. This morning is beautiful so far… biscuits & gravy in a bit… and here’s a puppy…

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SQ Diary… page 13

Self-Quarantine Day 18 – 03/30/2020

Had my first sleepless night since the pandemic broke. Couldn’t get comfortable, tame the aching, stop my thoughts. The person charged with overseeing the welfare of the nation is bullying blue-state governors, accusing doctors and nurses of theft, hoarding, and black market activity, because given the chance that’s what HE would do. My disgust and fury are off the chain. City ERs and ICUs are war zones, nobody’s working their own angle, for god’s sake! Their only aim is to stay alive long enough to make a difference.

Jeez, any wonder I can’t sleep? Top epidemiologists in the world and he consults Mr. Baseball…

I never really knew what hate feels like until landing in this era. I’ve seen its effects all my life, especially during the Civil Rights struggle, and I watched the white supremacists come out of the woodwork during Barack Obama’s time. SPOILER ALERT: They never left, they somehow gained influence and they’ve brought friends. I’ve been angry at people, furious, ready to fight to the end… but I’ve never known what it was to hate. I’ve learned. I despise every atom of Donald J. Trump with a white-hot cleansing fire. I find no honor in him, no respect, no character, no intelligence, no self-control, no class. It’s ALL about him, ALL the time. He displays not an ounce of empathy for another living thing on the face of the earth.

Family members, friends, their kids, the nurses and doctors of the world, are on the front lines doing what they’re trained and conditioned to do, with one hand tied behind their backs. They’re putting themselves at risk every hour they work, and they do it by choice because that’s who they are. For them to be slandered with accusations of theft and waste is so out of the norm it doesn’t bear thinking about. They’re reusing nasty old masks and other personal protection gear, strictly against regs, because there isn’t enough stuff lying around to STEAL in the first place!

Lumpy has no idea what those life-and-death hospital scenes look like – just as he has no clue what real Americans deal with day to day during GOOD times. Suit him up, send him in, let him stay on his feet for twelve hours breathing through a funky mask and standing in body fluids. And then send him back in there the next day and the next. With the same mask. And when he whines, slap him so hard his cousins fall down.

I’ve wondered over the years what it would take for me to get political on Facebook again and bring it to my blog. Answer: this. All of it since 2015. It finally reached critical mass and toppled of its own weight. It’s my battle and I’m up for it… but first you cry.

DISCLAIMER: SOME of the white people in red states.

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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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