And now it’s Monday…

It was a windy, rainy Sunday but happy and cozy all up in here, and I heard from my claim to motherhood first thing, working the holiday to help cover for all the moms, sons, and daughters who called out for the day. There was a perfect omelet and a spa soak… a Royals-White Sox game (we lost, but baseball is Zen even on a bad day)… peach malt smoothies… veggie lasagna for dinner… and I’m seeing a definite festive food pattern here.

A belated Happy Mom’s Day to all who signed up in any way.

Speaking of parenthood… the concept has somehow worked, after a fashion, down through the millenia, without improving massively during that time. It’s still a nebulous proposition, given that the scenario is always an original. First-time Mother Human meets new Baby Human, and neither has a clue, so they do the best they can with what they know at the time. Later, they realize they could have done better with more knowledge and experience… but since it doesn’t work that way, we’re all golden if we live through it and end up friends. I call that a win, and my job is to care for the relationship.

Nurturing each other, from inside or outside the confines of family, requires a compassion that takes in the whole picture, isn’t easily come by, and is always costly in some way.

My first instinct is to try to understand where someone’s coming from, in the interest of real communication, but after 25 years, I’m admitting defeat in the face of fascism’s propaganda arm, whose steady onslaught of conspiracy theories and general nonsense has been unrelenting and stops intelligent conversation in its tracks. Its presence in the world is an oppressive gray curtain, masking and obscuring clarity and truth, seemingly impenetrable after a quarter-century. It astounds me that they’re still in business… until I remember the 71 million keeping them there.

The Pro Wrestling of news…

There are clearly limits and roadblocks to human understanding, but given even half a chance I’ve been known to try for it anyway. It’s the Pollyanna in me that won’t quit, and in the face of pandemics and upheavals… no apologies.

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Lurching toward spring… page 232

Day 364 – 03/15/2021

I slept ’til 8am, thus messing with Mother Nature by recovering my lost hour from Daylight Saving Time. HA!! Thumbs nose, laughs, trips over a space heater, ponders a lost jigger of salt.

It’s a Monday again… and who knows? We did finally get our downpours yesterday… all afternoon… and now we head into a week of mixed reviews – wet or dry, chilly or warm, breezy or still. Sounds like life as we know it.

Kim picked Marcelo up at 11am yesterday and they blew town. Rita brought lunch and a cold bottle of Praia, and Seth & Adam stopped by shortly after with the beautiful remains of Warren’s birthday cake, a 3-layer cocoa dream made by Adam. We were all still laughing around the table when Kim showed up, making it a true party – he’s missed those guys all year.

Life halted last March with a decisive act – we came inside and symbolically closed our door to any and all invaders, and I promised myself I’d stay out of the public fray until some sort of ALL CLEAR happened. Tomorrow I will have kept my promise, and that means something to me after watching so many people break their word at every opportunity. I’m in no rush to get out there, but knowing I can do it now with a clear conscience is cool. We’ve had both shots and we’ll stay masked for the foreseeable, but I’m making a list:

  • Barbershop
  • Pedi
  • Dentist
  • Chiro
  • Pain Doc

I think Kim’s list says “PLAY PICKLEBALL” and “RIDE BIKE,” but we should both be ready for prime time by the 4th.

Life stopped with little warning… and we adjusted. As life returns to our community and the world, we’re being afforded grace to meet it as it comes, a little at a time… and this feels better. Fourth of July it is, then, a fitting Independence Day and a worthy goal.

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Monday, but not blue… page 219

Day 344 – 02/22/2021

It was a good weekend. Rita came over and watched the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech with us, and Kim made tamales, street tacos, beans & rice and all the other stuff for lunch – fun, happy afternoon. Sunday was the two of us all day, with the TV on low and ambitions the same. Which brings us to Monday, full of sunshine, and the week ahead is looking like this:

Almost 70º tomorrow, OMG!!

Sunlight changes everything, as Pluto, in its distance, is acutely aware – the sun’s warmth makes everything doable. Not wishing time away, but when spring arrives I’ll feel like I’ve been sprung from the slammer. We get our second shots on the 4th, and two weeks after that we shouldn’t be a threat to man nor beast so a semblance of “out & about” might start happening. Kim’s been out a lot during the pandemic, but not about – just all the shopping, and playing PickleBall under strict guidelines – so things will get better for both of us.

Over the past year, though, I’ve finally settled into the happy loneliness that’s always been who I am, and it’s good.

And the simple truth is…

It’s not that I so value my own company, but I feel better when I’m not inflicting myself on unsuspecting humans.

Haven’t seen much of the ‘rona since the last flare, but my relationship with food is still iffy. I’ll be feeling right as rain, sit down to a meal I love, and my stomach turns on me… but less often every day, and that’s good news because food’s one of the second-best things about life.

Kim has a full day outside the walls and I’ve ticked several things off my list this morning – I’m letting the sunshine soak into my soul, and maybe tomorrow my bones.

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Frozen… page 215

Day 337 – 02/15/2021

We spent Valentine weekend in here where it’s warm, while dehydrated ice-snow fell continually without adding much to the accumulation. The layer of white on the balcony never melts, it just evaporates around the edges into the dry frigid air while more floats downward… and now I’m seeing small drifts out there. Real-feel temps are in the minus 20s, or so I’m told – I haven’t stuck my head outside in days. We watched the wrap-up of the Senate “trial” on Saturday and devoted the rest of the time to good food, Netflix, and a happy attitude. Sweet weekend.

So yeah… that’s done. Not finished, just over. It would have required a mass Come To Jesus event for conviction, so we knew where it would go. “It is what it is, he’s going to go through some things, but he knew what he signed up for.” Time to let Joe Biden help America get well, and leave Donald Trump to the criminal court system. It will take skilz, though, for the rest of us to successfully navigate a culture where just under half the people still want what he was bringing.

Now that Douglas County’s COVID numbers are trending downward and vaccines are getting into arms, there’s a place open for PickleBall three mornings a week, so Kimmers 4-wheeled it over there today. Pretty sure the nine players who showed up felt like kids let out of school, if his chipper mood is any indicator. It currently feels -22º out, I just saw a couple walking, faces into the snow and wind, and the thought of being in their shoes makes me want to cry. I wish the world could be a safe and warm environment for all living things. Dear ol’ Pollyanna.

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Peace is good… page 205

Day 323 – 02/01/2021

Our orbit and trajectory have brought us again to Monday, which differs from the weekend in terms of TV schedules, food, and guilt about being worthless bums… but not a lot else. Some of the irritations that once made me dread Mondays would almost be welcome distractions at this point. Almost. We have plenty ahead of us to think about, so I’m sticking with solitude for some time yet. It’s okay, even curative, and I’m not unaware of its benefits.

We spent a few hours with Rita yesterday in her cozy place, and that was mos def curative – best medicine since Christmas, and she doesn’t disrupt my inner solitude a bit.

In a world defined by conflict and upheaval, I know this much is true…

… so yeah, workin’ on that, but when your heart looks like this, it’s all uphill…

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

I asked Kim if this is what he ordered, and got the affirmative nod I expected and would have been crushed without…

It’s good to be Queen

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There’s still truth… page 186

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/10/2021

Day 302 – 01/11/2021

Took a news break for most of the weekend and that was a good decision – insurrection, sedition, and treason take time to process. It’s a lot to absorb and new information comes out every hour.

If people were angered by the street riots in 2020 and blamed it on everyone but the actual instigators of the violence… but those same people see the attempted coup at the Capitol as noble and right… then we come from two separate tribes. In which case it’s fine if we never run into each other again in this life – we don’t speak the same language. A friend shared this four years ago, and if I change Clinton to Biden it all still applies.

Qanon made their practice strikes against statehouses around the country with January 6th in mind, saw that they weren’t being stopped because they were 99% white male, and declared the coup on our Capitol a GO. It was very much an inside job, with maps and directions provided for finding hidden offices within the complex. Some carried zip-tie handcuffs and were calling for Mike Pence’s head as they burst through the doors. Nobody was arrested for the plot to kidnap and murder Michigan’s governor, so hey, carte blanche! Let’s do what we came here to do! People died that day, including a young policeman who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher. Another was beaten with an American flag… and a third was thrown over a railing in the Capitol. How’s that Blue Lives Matter thing workin’, I wonder. Democracy didn’t die, not that day, not any day soon because America fought back, but we’ll have to keep doing that – the terrorists are plotting additional attacks for the 17th and the 20th and beyond. Anybody awake yet?

The war is far from over but people more interested in immunity are already pushing for unity. You don’t make common cause with traitors, sorry.

These are not the heroes we’ve been waiting for, these misguided, low-information, absurdly outfitted white men who smeared feces in the Capitol hallways, urinated on carpets, and tore hell out of everything they could get their hands on. They aren’t brave, they aren’t abused, and they aren’t right. They’re just white. And the world has always belonged to them, damn it, and they’ve had all they want of this equality idea, so women and children stand back! Their leader could tell them anything at this point and they’d charge forward again. They’re a dangerous mob looking for direction.

Important note to self on a Monday morning:

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Still alive… page 178

Day 288 – 12/28/2020

I’m back, Diary friend, did you miss me? Whatever it was that hit me after Christmas took me out of the game for a while. Saturday was a no-sleep night due to body pain, and yesterday was a wash, but I’m none the worse for wear this morning. It felt like a reaction to Wednesday’s SI-joint injection – she gave me the max dosage this time and the pain was mostly waist to toes with off-the-chart readings in the tush area, but Rita had nearly the same experience the day before Thanksgiving minus the steroids, so how would I know? There’s stuff out there everywhere, things happen, human schematics are complicated, and I’ve lived with a wonky system since I first saw daylight, so just another anomaly to ponder.

Obviously, sickness of any kind is never a welcome guest, and less so now, especially until it shows its credentials. “What are you and where did you come from? What’s your intent? Don’t be COVID.” Waking up to sunshine this morning, back to whoever I am most of the time, called for putting the four walls in the rearview mirror for a while, so I put on real clothes, meaning top, bottom, plus bra and shoes – and we took the red flyer for a run to blow the cobs out. Saw another actual human and carried on a three-way conversation – a total delight even with masks… starting to forget how things were. Had a good drive, absorbed that free-as-a-bird vibe again, cracked each other up, picked up lunch and brought it home, and I’m calling this a good day at half-time.

When you’re staring life in the face, which seems only prudent, staying in touch with your inner Pollyanna is a benefit rather than a detriment. She may be an idealist and a cockeyed optimist, but she ain’t crazy and she’ll get you through.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 12/27/2020

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The halfway point… page 172

Day 281 – 12/21/2020

It’s the Winter Solstice already… and here in the bleak midwinter we’re getting a handful of nice days. Kim’s likely to play at least four hours of PickleBall today between the two parks, so his Monday’s looking good. I just might put on actual clothes and go hang out with Rita for a while…

Mr. Dan Rather and I are entirely on the same page today. Seeing Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, et.al., step to the front of the line for their COVID-19 vaccinations has been odious when millions of frontline healthcare workers, living in the midst of the virus for nine months, have not yet been protected. Same for teachers and ALL essential personnel. The person in the presidential seat of power, despite his denial and chicanery… I’ll begrudgingly give you that one. Incoming electeds, for sure. But these congressional a-holes who consider it their god-given right to always be first have shredded any willingness on my part toward forgiveness, let alone respect. They’ve done nothing but obstruct, cut funds, cut corners, blatantly lie to America, remain silent to this day while the virus wreaks havoc in the nation, but have the gall to say “I’ll take mine NOW.” They’re beneath contempt.

Or, in Jeff’s words…

Apropos… Marco Rubio quotes scripture incessantly on Twitter and elsewhere… and that’s pretty much all he does.

The ignorance, willful or otherwise, of those who continue to stand behind them, top to bottom, is stunning. Soul-crushing. How have we not realized the depth and width of the divide until now? It took a madman to show us who we are, and half the country is happy about it. Really scary.

Yup, definitely going to Rita’s…

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Hey, it’s Monday… page 165

Day 274 – 12/14/2020

It was 16º out when Kim got up so he postponed his walk and turned the heat on for the first time – the fireplace has been handling it okay ’til now but the cold made it all the way inside overnight. It’s the height of privilege to sit here in my little world with a silent space heater keeping my toes warm while I commune with friends online, read the latest news long enough to raise my heart rate, sip my coffee, and stay outta everybody’s face while Kim fills the spa tub. My self-orbit affirms that we humans really aren’t worth all the effort.

Sweet surprise this morning – Katie (cousin) called to wish me a Merry Christmas, catch up a little, and ask for directions. Emily & Savannah (daughter & granddaughter) are in Dodge City, America, of all places, on their way west and want to find the farm where Katie’s and my grandparents homesteaded and where I grew up, along with the family cemetery. Confusion and hilarity ensued for 15 minutes as Katie, in Florida, typed directions into her phone while I reconstructed the miles in my head. I think we ended up with a usable map but I’m also pretty sure Savannah will Google Earth it and they’ll be golden. Can’t wait to hear the………. rest of the story. And hopefully see some pics – I don’t know when I last saw the old neighborhood.

A cool find this morning – we had relatives in Sheboygan, and after visiting there when I was 3 or 4 years old the name became a treasured part of my vocabulary. Sheboygan… so delicious to say.

Strong waves at the lakefront, Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Sheboygan, Wis.

Routine used to be a four-letter word to me but with only upheaval everywhere I’m seeing its better side, which is comfort. Today’s Monday so I know what we’re having for lunch and that The Voice 2020 wraps up tonight and tomorrow, which is Tuesday so I know what we’re having for lunch then, too. The Amazing Race finale happens Wednesday night, and I’m not bothered by the fact that I have no idea what food I’ll be stuffing into my face that day. Space… options… comfort.

Comfort… that would be this man right here. I posted his picture the other day holding an elderly patient who was crying for his wife. Everyday heroes taking it to the stratosphere.

This is my 274th day isolating, starting in mid-March. For every one of those days I’ve spent in my perfectly great space whining and fretting, with tiny forays to see Rita or keep a doctor’s appointment, this human being has been at the hospital. His license plate reads CVD HNTR. Dr. Joseph Varon, a 58-year-old physician and chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, has been hunting covid-19 for 270 days straight. He has not had a single day off since March. “I was meant to do this,” he says.

From The Washington Post: “Born and raised in Mexico City, and with specialties in pneumonology, intensive care, internal medicine and geriatrics, Varon was particularly well-equipped to wage war against a virus that has killed more than 290,000 Americans.” [Now over 300,000, post-WP publication.] His personal experiences, he said, prepared him for this moment.

In 1985, he was working as an intern in one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake leveled the building. He watched many of his colleagues die that day. “I have seen disaster up front all of my life,” he said. “The only thing that scares me is corona” — a disease he calls “short-term AIDS” — and its unpredictability.

Mid-interview, Varon had to duck out. He followed up with a text: “I just admitted 6 covid patients in the past 60 minutes,” he wrote. “It is absolute madness.”

As the medical staff at UMCC witnessed the psychological effects of isolation in patients, Varon instructed staff to wear large photographs of their faces hung around their necks, so that patients could recognize the person who was caring for them behind those “space suits.” One day, he went in to see patients with a picture of Brad Pitt attached to his personal protective equipment suit, eliciting laughter from even those who were the sickest.

“Other doctors stay behind the lines, they do not get their hands dirty,” said Tanna Ingraham, an ICU nurse at UMCC hospital, who was also hospitalized with covid-19 for 12 days. “He is totally hands-on and treats every single one of his patients as if they were his family members.”

Everyday heroes… 💙

Today, December 14, 2020, clusters of everyday heroes are gathering in State Houses across the country to do the right thing on behalf of democracy, speaking in the prevailing voice of the American people. We will owe them our future and our lives.

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

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The sweetness… page 158

Day 267 – 12/07/2020

Another nice day so Kim played at Lyons Park and I went over to Rita’s for a few hours. Fun time and good to catch up again – she’s still sorting out from the events of the summer and fall but making terrific headway. Preston and Jade both slept the whole time I was there and her cozy house was welcoming and Zen – just what the doctor ordered.

Home now, settling into the evening groove, watching the cars and foot traffic below my window, wishing it wasn’t going to be dark in an hour, tiptoeing through the dusky limbo, waiting for something to pierce the shell and present itself as real life. Kim’s here and he’s real. His 49ers are playing the Bills tonight and that’s real stuff. Life gradually breaks through again.

Reality is sometimes overrated, but I vastly prefer it to delusion even when it hurts. Today we mark the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where almost 2500 Americans died in a single day. For each single December day leading up to this commemoration, U.S. coronavirus deaths looked like this:

Reality intrudes despite all efforts to drown it out, and sweetness and light can’t exist without it, so when there’s no way back to what was, you go with what is – the good stuff – and the lights start to come on again. A steady hand to hold is a sweet gift while you wait.

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Letting Monday gel… page 151

Day 260 – 11/30/2020

Good weekend, chilly with sunshine. The Chiefs and 49ers both won, and Rita came by for a while on Saturday.

Idle curiosity… we had stir-fry, but wondering how many people smoked a turkey for Thanksgiving?

A recipe I saved for Kim a while back, and you could substitute turkey for chicken…

I’d ask Kim to substitute thin crispy bacon for the thick cut, and less of it, but the rest of it sounds like… crack. Speaking of which, I should get cracking on something, like folding the laundry in the other room…

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Moody Blues… page 147

Day 253 – 11/23/2020

Everything from the sublime to the ridiculous makes me cry now. For months into the pandemic I couldn’t keep my head corralled long enough to read a book, and since I got back to it every one I’ve picked up has made me shed good tears, from Alice McDermott’s After This, to Barlow Adams’ Appalachian Alchemy, to the book I finished today The World Without You by Joshua Henkin, which had me sobbing more than once. Even when I have trouble sticking with them, I can’t imagine a world without all the books we want to read – they’re the best thing for taking us from here to there, and I have a big need for that.

It feels all wrong for this to be Thanksgiving week when it should still be summer. Since we’ve never made a big deal of holidays beyond our first Christmas together, the solitude of this holiday season will affect us less than most. And they’re 24-hour days like any other – they pass. Blessings on them all, I malign no traditions.

At least once a week someone asks on Facebook or Twitter “Do you personally know anyone who’s died from COVID?” Rod A, who was a year behind me all the way through school, died a few months ago, and last night I was notified that Loren D, a friend from another lifetime, had died of the virus in Hutchinson’s Stormont-Vail Hospital. There have been friends of friends, parents of friends, but these two I knew well. The longer it’s allowed to rage uncontrolled the more people we’re going to lose and my sense is that it will become real to every one of us before it’s over.

Wet out this morning and just above freezing. There are days when the gray skies put me under. Hope this won’t be one of them.

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Whole new Monday… page 137

Day 239 – 11/09/2020

Hello this morning to a world once again filled with possibility. President-Elect Joe Biden named his pandemic task force today, all of them doctors, all of them experts in their field. He and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris are assembling their transition teams and discussing cabinet appointments. Meanwhile, as my friend The Hoarse Whisperer said, “Is it just me or can everyone else feel the collective world losing interest in even hearing Trump? Feels to me like the world is just ghosting him.”

What I’ll remember most about November 7, 2020, is the car horns, jubilant cheering, and dancing in the streets, not just here in #lfk but around the world. The mayor of Paris sent his congratulations “WELCOME BACK, AMERICA!” and world leaders other than Putin, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Ji Xinping, and Obrador, all five of whom had a vested interest in a continued DJT romp, have expressed gratitude for our release from the nightmare. Finally the adults will be in charge again and that’s going to be huge.

Still processing the flip-side… learning that it wasn’t 30% of our fellow Americans who wanted another four years of chaotic dismantling of democratic government, it’s closer to 45%, meaning about every second person in the country other than Black people likes what we’ve been watching and experiencing since 2016. That’s weapons-grade knowledge… what do we even do with that?

We’ll have to find ways to live peaceably with each other, starting with thoughtful communication. It won’t be easy. Trust and respect have been broken and won’t be magically restored – it will take work to put things right, if ever they can be again.

Granada marquee on Mass Street

It’s been a week of revelations all ’round…

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Thinking ahead…

If the sun comes up tomorrow morning and there’s a way forward, I have goals…

  • Design an exercise routine and start using the 5th-floor workout room
  • Maybe try a No Alcohol November once we get past today (I crack myself up)
  • Read a book without going over every paragraph three times
  • Eat a vegetable
  • Swear less
  • Start walking again, weather permitting
  • Finish the whole-house purge I started mid-quarantine
  • Spend at least one day without hearing, seeing, or thinking about DJT & Co.

It’s all still a dream now on the 3rd of November and seeing it come to fruition is almost too much to hope for. If Joe & Kamala win this election we’ll still have the virus, the economy, racial issues, and the rest of life in America to deal with, and much to repair, but the difference will be leaders who know how to bring us together and get things done. Here for it, big time.

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It’s time… page 134

Day 232 – 11/02/2020

Here we are… the months, weeks, days, and hours have passed, one by endless one, and we find ourselves on the doorstep of KNOWING. We’ve agonized our way through every bit of it, pulling for America, afraid to hope. We have collective PTSD, not just from the election of 2016 but the four years that followed, and we need a divorce from our abuser so we can get well. The polls are in and tabulated and will change only infinitesimally before tomorrow, so we are where we are. Gonna hide and watch, and hope the growing sense of peace in my gut isn’t just a protective device to keep me intact.

It’s a sunny Monday, the start of a five-day warm-up, and I’m taking the light pouring through the blinds as a good omen. Maybe I’ll get something done today, strike it off the list and use it as momentum. Not sure why it matters, but it still does. Something about self-respect.

The PickleBall players should have a good week of it, with the sunshine and warmer temps, so things are looking up all over, dare I say it? I’m ready to put hour-by-hour awareness of what’s emanating from the White House on the back burner, relax a tad, and leave it to people who know what they’re doing. Ready to enjoy and talk about books, music, art, movies, all the things that make living a joy. Ready to live an unexamined life for a week or two. As we’ve seen clearly now, all of human existence is politics in one sense or another, and this will be my platform for the duration:

Listening to the experts and daring to hope. It’s a bold course, but I’m here for it. One more day…

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