…and a red umbrella…

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rain makes me happy

when the sky cries i feel joy

am i damaged goods?

JSmith 09/18/2017

 

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Sum-sum-summertime!

A nice thing happened last week – one of my sister’s besties shared two pieces from my old blog and it was a huge encouragement for at least two reasons:  1) It touches me that she saved them, since I only vaguely remember writing either one, and 2) It didn’t make me cringe to read them again from this vantage point.

Reposting one here:

Kim and I have been catching some advertising on TV that has us scratching our heads.  The ads are for a well-known outdoor-recreation merchandiser of colossal proportions, touting their store-sponsored summer camps.  The footage shows happy children and their parents sleeping in tents, toasting marshmallows, going fishing, and participating in other fun activities associated with the open-air experience – all of it taking place

INSIDE THE STORE!

I’m all for exposing kids to new experiences and the joys of outdoor living, but somehow the ads only succeed in making me feel sad.  I grew up camping with my family, so I know it doesn’t have to cost big bucks for the real thing unless you require everything to be first class.

First class we weren’t – more like a band of gypsies – but I wouldn’t trade those summer idylls for anything.  My dad was an irrigation farmer, making it difficult for him to get away during the over-heated summer months; however, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Three or four times a year, between May and September, my parents, an aunt and uncle, and a raft of kids would load up and go to the lake for several days of sun, swimming, water-skiing, sleeping under the stars, and eating food cooked outdoors.  There was a little fishing here and there, too, and we were usually joined by other relatives and friends at various points during our stay.

My grandpa had stocked up on Army surplus items when the gettin’ was good (and cheap), so we had access to a big green army tent that was hot as blazes after a day in the sun but did a good job of sheltering us from the elements; kerosene lanterns; cots and smelly sleeping bags; portable cook-stoves; ammo boxes for storage; and most anything else a few days without the comforts of home might require.

After loading the station wagon with everything from soup to nuts, the first stop was the grocery store for all the real food – bags upon bags of it.  Then with everyone crammed into the vehicles we caravanned to the nearest large body of water, an hour and a half away, happy as clams, singing, laughing, and playing travel games, and with much “discussion” over who got the spot between Mother and Daddy in the front seat.

We kept a small ski boat and a big old (with the emphasis on old) ramshackle trailer house in a storage area at Cedar Bluff Lake, towing both down to the water upon arrival.  The boat would be launched, the trailer leveled insofar as was possible, the tent(s) set up, the charcoal grills placed on standby, and all things put in order for an extended stay.  We kids, of course, barely noticed that these things were happening.  We’d either worn our swimsuits on the drive up, or shucked into them the minute the wheels stopped rolling, and we were happily jumping off the dock, dunking each other, yelling, running around … and asking what we could have to eat.

Our mom and aunt seemed to do little besides cook the entire time, when they weren’t busy grabbing a streaking, flailing kid at every opportunity in order to slather him/her with sunscreen, but they were nevertheless visibly more relaxed and laid-back about life than at home.  Everyone who’s experienced it knows there’s something about food cooked and consumed outdoors that enhances its flavor many times over, and we feasted like royalty.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and fruit for breakfast, baloney sandwiches, chips and veggies for lunch, grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks or chicken with all the extras in the evenings.  And a steady, day-long supply of cold soda and Black Cow bars, plus anything else we could manage to ferret out of its hiding spot.

The babies played in the sand.  The little kids banded together and pursued their own enterprises of hiking, exploring, sharing secrets, and defending each other from callous onslaughts by the medium-sized kids … who obviously dedicated their time to harassing the little kids.

The bigger kids’ hours were defined by transistor radios, water-skiing, sun-tanning, and keeping a close watch for interesting-looking members of the opposite sex.  The kicker was that our parents preferred going to the lake during the week rather than on weekends in order to avoid the crowds, so the pickings were slim.

Our dads spent their time trying to keep the boat motor running, hot-dogging on slalom skis as a reward for their efforts, and consuming quantities of cold beer.

And our moms, who were known to do a little sun-tanning themselves while catching up on their reading and talking, were no doubt simply thankful to survive it all one more time.

The time always passed far too quickly, and after three or four days of non-stop sun and water everything would be packed into the cars again for the trip home, each and every item either wet or coated with gritty sand, or both.

Unlike on the drive up, there was no singing; there was barely a word spoken.  We were all sunburned within an inch of our lives, AGAIN, and God help the child who inadvertently touched a sibling on any part of his or her person.  We were well-acquainted with the misery of sun-burnt skin and we swore each time that it would never happen again, but nobody in our acquaintance yet knew how potentially deadly the condition was, so we were not nearly as careful as we should have been.  On the way home, the only reason anybody vied for the middle spot in the front seat was because that’s where the A/C blew the coldest.

It was rude, it was crude, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  We loved every minute of it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat … if only to have all those people back with us for one more lazy summer.

Not every child will be lucky enough to experience the kind of summers we did, but I do hope they realize that there’s more to life than a pseudo camp-out in a retail store.

 

Burntside-Lake

 

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As the year rolls…

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may day came and went

no big romp around the pole

june has better plans

JSmith 05/22/2017

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Thoughts of fears, tears, and ears…

 

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when your fears are not safe in other ears

the sadness is yours and can’t be shared

and it builds and stacks and pools

and spills over

but tears are salt in the wounds

and do not close the cuts

.

go deep into that hollow

where hope hangs on

wrap yourself in it and stand

against what pains and disappoints

the antidote for hurt

may seal the cuts

JSmith 05/08/2017

 

 

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Doesn’t apply, just saying…*

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when it’s down to just

two pancakes topped with cherries

t-shirts are the shiz

JSmith 02/13/2017

* Some days are all about the corn.

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Fragile Blue Marble

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let it be over

the questioning fear and loss

please let it end well

JSmith 01/16/2017

 

 

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The Fix…

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there are remedies

for what breaks our hearts in two

but they are unknown

JSmith 12/26/2016

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When adulting sucks…

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blankets piled in waves

bed still warm and welcoming

must resist ’til dark

JSmith 12/19/2016

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An Accidental Anarchist*

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It’s an odd sort of experience to morph into an activist’s soul late in life’s trajectory, and The Goggle is disappointing me this morning with its lack of historical references, by which I mean naming names. Gimme the skinny, interwebs, I know it’s in there – people who sat on the sidelines for decades, absorbing life’s blows while they found their voices, and finally said, “Oh, so that’s how it is. And they expect me to keep my mouth shut about that?”

Annnd, after a swift kick to the tires, Google spits out a nearly endless list of not only names but faces, all female, because that’s what I asked for: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Nina Simone, Ida Tarbell, they’re on the roster, along with so many more women whose courageous voices changed the face of our society and moved it forward. I’m privileged to add my own small cries to the weight of what was accomplished on my behalf long before I decided I was brave enough. I hope I will never again be afraid to add my affirmations and my pledge of support for the righting of injustices, toward common goals of love, peace, and acceptance.

Since November, our mutual progress toward those goals, most notably that of the past eight years, hangs in the balance. Crucial change for the lives and futures of LGBTQ citizens may not be fully realized any time soon despite the massive amounts of blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into coaxing the human race into the 21st Century.

People who are NOT Real Americans – anything other than straight, white, Christian males – may be in imminent danger, how much remains to be seen. These people are our friends and neighbors and we have a moral responsibility, and hopefully a genuine desire, to be their advocates in a hostile environment.

Women’s burgeoning independence is mos def at risk, no question. Our silly concept that our bodies belong to us, having gained little to no traction over all the years of constant battle, will be DOA. It’s sobering to look at that roll call of strong women, from young to long dead, and think that we might drop the ball on our watch. What a travesty that would be, so let’s not. I do not want to disappoint the likes of Malala Yousafzai, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dolores Huerta, Audre Lorde, Rosie Batty, et.al., do you? Didn’t think so.

More than ever before in our lifetime we have to be on our game. Women are the heart and soul of a society and much is squandered when our influence and input are rejected. The world needs healing – but it won’t happen without what we know and who we are, so please find your voice and use it, for the sake of the race.

.

*Title borrowed from a fellow blogger – thanks.

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All about the fat lady and a song…

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heart upheavals come 

and go and we are still here

we are made to live

JSmith 11/21/2016

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The sleeper wakes…

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Since yesterday fell on a Sunday it was all about grazing, napping, TV sports, and trying to mentally get my poop in a group for starting a new week, which happened today, actually. 

There’s now a handy list of ESSENTIALS taped to my bathroom mirror, providing steady inspiration and focus for being something other than retired, because it’s so hard to stay on task. My happiest day is one where the calendar is a wasteland – a blank slate – but a never-ending string of those can become tedious and full of ennui, so a new LIST and a soupçon of discipline are called for at this point.

There are things I need to get down in words, and that happens best when the crowded house at the top of my neck has been freed from clutter. Working on it…

So for now, my list reminds me to do things like:

  • Get up
  • Shower
  • Accomplish one thing every day
  • Do other stuff

I’ll be chugging down the tracks in no time, because I THINK I can, darn it. Admonitions about writing show up three times on THE LIST, because what else is it about? Getting rid of the crap, within and without, opening blinds AND windows, bringing all fresh air onto the scene…preparing to snuggle in and put words on the page through the fall and winter months. So yeah, thanks for listening… 💋

 

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Stream of consciousness…

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Being retired and to a degree physically limited means I end up with a lot of quiet hours when my brain free-wheels. For instance, today I’m deeply conscious of the fact that Facebook has given us a string of expressive emojis, but as with all things social – and human – we need more. A few helpful suggestions: an icon that means “I agree with your comment but not the meme/link/article attached”; a general WTF choice; one that says “Jeez, I’m sick of this shit”; one for “If I see this post again in my feed I’ll do bodily harm to whomever is in my path”; like that. It would be easy-peasy for the coding gurus and it seems so little to ask in return for our unwavering fealty to their product, amirite?

* Summer truly kicks into gear shortly before it’s over, spring and fall in Kansas are mere blips on the seasonal chart, and winter lasts for freaking ever. And if that seems like a fair deal to you, you’re probably voting for someone I wouldn’t hire to manage a Christmas kiosk.

* Much like summer, life takes its own sweet time getting underway, and some of the most vital lessons aren’t mastered until we’re past middle age and don’t need them as urgently. That strikes me as sad, but I can’t call it unjust – maybe some humans just figure out how to pay attention better and sooner and it’s my bad for being such a happy-go-lucky farm girl and believing most of what I was told, far past when I should have figured it out.

* I thought it would take a lot longer to get old, and the day I own it is theoretically far into the future, but here I am, watching where I place my feet, being aware of my environment at all times, simply because there’s nothing like a broken bone for holding up progress. Not sure how many falls I have left in me before I’m under house arrest, so caution beats impulse now, deflating as that is.

* The trouble with submitting to what hurts – bodily, mentally, emotionally – and sitting down to wait for the pain to end is that the day never comes when it doesn’t make you wince, and it gets worse not better, so whatever it takes you have to do, think, feel that thing until you can work it out the ends of your toes before it morphs into a permanent personality and/or lifestyle change. It takes work.

* The sum total of today’s musings is that if I couldn’t read books and write words I would be verbally frustrated, a big weather baby, a past-dweller who could never move on, and a chronic aging whiner who gave up and let all the chips fall. Writing as therapy isn’t free, but it’s amazingly no-cost in its effectiveness since the toll it does extract is added back to our personal pile at the end, when the results speak for themselves and we’ve managed to acknowledge our own hearts and find some truth. Takes a LOT of work.

* Here’s how much work: I started musing on Monday and we’ve landed smack on HumpDay already! There’s much to be said in favor of having something to show for your work, and this isn’t it, bwahahahahaha!!

* Oh, but look! This morning when we click Farcebroke’s LOVE icon we get a sweet surprise. Think of the possibilities …

Have a happy, whimsical, lighthearted day if life permits…and if your heart is breaking I send you hug vibes and empathy.  ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyday advice…

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life is brief, don’t let 

a self-regarding turdball

bring heartache to you

JSmith ~ 9/5/2016

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The Weekend that Was

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Monday morning is here again and it’s one I’m happy to greet with a smile – it was quite a weekend. Let’s just say for now that I’ve gone at life this morning with new-found intention and it’s already paying dividends. So far, and it isn’t even noon yet, I’ve eaten a bagel brought to me by Kim, who zipped to Einstein’s and back on his bicycle – you’re finished, pneumonia! I’ve been to my (physical) therapist for an hour of stretching that made me ravenous and sleepy. Did I nap? Oh, no, there’s life to be re-jumpstarted!

The bed looks almost unslept-in, so I can slide by on that for now. There’s a big load of towels in the washing machine having their second hot bath in three days because I spaced them off sometime around…Saturday, maybe, and left them gathering moss in the machine. The bills are in a neat pile for payment and sitting where I can’t miss them – they’ll wait right here until I get sick of looking at them and do what’s called for.

And now through no fault of my own it’s after 1pm and I’ve consumed a Five Guys baby cheeseburger and fries because it’s what Kim wanted for lunch, yay! When you’ve been as scary ill as he’s been you get to choose for the foreseeable future, and I’m not one to stand in the way of desire.

Also, my current project, for the first time in weeks, is open on my desktop and spread across the top of the chest next to me and on the bed. I’m ready to read it all again, edit where I must, and move on. That feels good.

The weekend left me smiling because for the most part it was so unbelievably sweet. And even the bitter portion of it holds a sweetness that’s almost too precious to talk about.

Kim and I try for an adventure a day, sometimes as simple as sitting on the balcony just out of the rain and watching the light show. Last Friday he broke out the hot-rod and we drove to a small town nearby. Our mission, which was to sell a few antique pieces so we can quit paying to store them, hit a slight delay so we drove on down the street in search of a late lunch, and lo, there was Luigi’s, looking quaint and enticing. Mid-afternoon, ours was one of three occupied tables, and it was wonderful. Clean-smelling wood everywhere, tranquil, all sounds wrapped in cotton. We were seated in a window nook and presented with our choice of delicious Italian fare, accompanied by a generous pour of the house Pinot Noir, and the best bread & oil we’ve experienced anywhere. Wow, well-kept secret, Luigi’s, and we so needed that cozy pause in the space/time continuum.

Saturday’s date was a walk through the cut to Ladybird Diner for a malted vanilla phosphate and a piece of lemon blueberry crumb cake while we soaked up our daily quota of Vitamin D at a sidewalk table. The rest of the day consisted of various sportsing, all involving balls and keeping score, as they do.

Sunday morning brought sad news, which is where the bitter joins the mix. Something tragic took place and someone died, someone we knew, and it’s heartbreaking. The sweetness, the heart-lurching precious part is that my sister and her big amazing cat Jade both woke up to a new day, sunshine, and ongoing life – because circumstances, people, the rotation of the earth conspired to move them out of harm’s way. It was the kind of close call that makes you and your big sister sit up and pay close attention. We talked all afternoon on the balcony, shared a bottle of wine, laughed, cried, and got the healing process underway. There’s always so much to be grateful for. Always.

And life is good, don’t ever think otherwise.

 

 

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Headed back…

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The writing of the words and the telling of the stories has taken a back seat for the past few weeks to Kim’s duel with pneumonia. At this point he’s discouraged over his lack of bounce, his ongoing weight loss, and the fact that he’s weak-kneed and not very interested in the world around him, but progress is finally underway despite all outward evidence to the contrary.

Meanwhile, back at the computer, Mama’s muse seems to have gone on hiatus and is hopefully enjoying a white-sand beach where the water is clear and warm – it could only benefit us all.

And now it’s Monday, the accepted time for new beginnings, new resolve, new dedication to the task at hand, which is to write the words every day, dive back into the projects large and small, stay tuned to what’s inside and less aware of the extraneous. It’s painful not to write, so I can never stray far.

Pretty sure I’ll eat these words, but a small part of me is ready for fall and winter with their coziness and quiet – it’s all wonderfully conducive to writing, reading, thinking, planning, and sleeping – but none of it will wait that long, so wish me well ignoring the distractions. It’s still summer for a while yet…where’s my white-sand beach?

 

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