Lush Tuesday… page 83

Day 152 – 08/11/2020

The morning air is fresh and cool and my walk felt good. Strolled until that certain sharp poke in the hip made me head for the barn, all the time carried on the waves of a playlist provided by Thumbprint Radio on Pandora, clearly my muse. We’re like Siamese Sisters – I couldn’t have picked a better playlist on my own if I’d worked hard at it. Twelve tracks played full-on in my ears before stalling out on one that wasn’t me, from the opening piano notes of LULLABYE FOR A STORMY NIGHT by Vienna Teng to the sweet melancholy of Jim Chappell’s GONE. In the middle were his STORYTIMETHE MYSTIC’S DREAM, Jim Stubblefield… RIVER by Joni Mitchell… HOME, Michael Bublé… Sarah McLachlan’s TRAIN WRECK and FALLEN (LIVE)… two Nora Jones favorites… Eric Clapton with LAYLA (UNPLUGGED)… and finally BALLAD OF THE RUNAWAY HORSE by Jennifer Warnes. Best story song ever. It’s a little sobering how much my friend Pan knows about me but I feel so SEEN, oh wait…

Repairs are underway in the intersection below my windows and I’m watching people operate machinery just like the toys that used to live in my yard… skid-loaders, backhoes, big dump trucks, a little crawler-tractor. Pretty sure some of those guys are living the dream, and it’s a great day for it!

Leaving this here for posterity…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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Summer rain… page 82

Day 150 – 08/09/2020

Crashing thunderstorms this morning and they’re hold-me-close comforting… like a big hug from the universe, not to wax too poetic. Feels just right.

I’m kicking stuff off my desktop while I watch the rain… the *keepers* always sort themselves by the end of the week:

Be like a teabag – find your strength when the heat’s on.

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

True story…

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

This too.

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

From a loved one… and the artist’s name is attached.

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

Memory-shot on FB – Wedding Day 07/25/04

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

And the Daily Zen: To heal a wound, you need to stop touching it. Namasté…

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Hope lives… page 81

Day 149 – 08/08/2020

We just celebrated our 16th anniversary, and the partnership being what it is there was a point at which I started having Kim read my blog posts before publication, not for content but for flow. In the months since, he’s caught a plethora of trippy syllable sequences; thus, showing me a swanky new set of subtle wording schematics and style. Observe how successful he’s been – take the challenge and read that last sentence fast six times. 😂

He does, of course, take in the content of what he reads; thus, his comment this morning that some of what I write sounds a little depressing. He’s spot on – 🎯🎯🎯 – it does and it is. My blog is like a diary, intentionally so since the pandemic started, and it’s therapy. I write what’s in me and put it out here in the agora to keep me accountable. If somebody reads it, identifies with some part of it, ends up being encouraged by something I say, that’s the best thing ever, but I write for me. “Me” has been a little blue lately so my journal reflects that… self-healing is herky-jerky and never fun to watch, either from inside or out. I try for the happy every day, though, and always succeed on some level… my full name is pronounced Pawl ly AN a. I’m grateful to *My Michelle* for saying so openly what most everyone is experiencing in these months… a low-grade depression that encompasses… everything. We’ll be okay one of these days as long as we keep loving each other.

Kind of in a mood to jump the fences today, but age and wisdom will no doubt prevail and evening will find us still moored to the dock, here where we like it best, with love holding it all together.

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Okay, NOW it’s Friday… page 80

Day 148 – 08/07/2020

sun out

clouds in

breeze blows

light goes

day creeps

mind leaps

JSmith 08/07/2020

The following was stolen goods when I helped myself to it – part of a Buddhist workshop – and hopefully the Buddha would approve of theft-on-account… on account’a I liked it and needed it:

Inner Dialogue, Self-Counsel

Self-Counsel: Whomever you’re waiting for to save you, they’re not gonna show up.

Inner Self: But I just want to be loved, I just wanna share this experience with someone.

Self-Counsel: Love isn’t easy, there’s no fairy tale ending. Did you ever hear the one about the guy who got everything he wanted? He still wanted more. You could fit whole universes in that hole in your heart and that would still just be a drop in the bucket. Not because the bucket is infinite, but because the water evaporates.

IS: So what do I do?

SC: Whatever you do, you have to do it yourself. Those were basically the Buddha’s last words. You already have the love you’ve been looking for. Embrace your shadows, hold your demons, rock the helpless child to sleep.

It’s not enough to do it once and be done with it, you have to do it every day, every minute. You have to forgive the world the pain it’s brought you, and forgive yourself for not knowing how to handle it. With this as your main focus, everything else will fall into place. You have to trust the love that’s in you, and see that it shines alone, without needing support.

IS: But it’s so easy to forget.

SC: You have to build it into a pattern. Then you won’t need to remember, it’ll just be there, and you’ll just be here.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

-John Lennon

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It’s a good life… page 79

Day 147 – 08/06/2020

Another cool morning, so I wandered around the neighborhood for an hour, racking up a prideful number of steps for that time of day. The GPS map of my route will be fun once I find it in the app!

Discovered lots of big and small changes along Mass Street and points east – it’s interesting to see how Downtown is rising to the occasion and finding creative ways to stay in business while dealing with the reality that is COVID-19. A young street-guy hollered from across Mass Street “I feel like a surgeon!” I said “Because of your mask?” (Which was hanging off one ear.) “Yeah, my mask! I feel like a surgeon!” The surgeon was wearing what looked like a water shoe on one foot, the other was bare, and I saw by his outfit that he was no cowboy. We waved and went on our way, whereupon I heard him loudly proclaim to the next strollers “Hey, I feel like a surgeon!”

I’m glad Downtown and East Lawrence are full of walkers and bike riders so the white-haired short stack with her hiking pole doesn’t stand out, other than to budding surgeons in search of an audience. And now, after a full-service shower, I’m ready for the PickleBall player to come home so we can figure out what the rest of the day holds.

Annnnd… so far there’s been a light garage clean-out and coaxing an ailing car across town to said garage. And lunch. Only about 9 hours to go until bedtime, yay. Daily diversions, take me awaaaaaaay…

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Sweet weather… page 78

Day 146 – 08/05/2020

It was 60º at 7:30 when I went out for a walk and the quiet morning air was sublime. The epidural I had on Monday seems to be doing its thing – I walked for 45 minutes with only a little ache from the steroid, so that’s encouraging. Pain’s such an odd thing… a warning, a message, a universal element of being alive… and it creeps up on you psychologically. After weeks, months, years, it turns you inward and the next crash-and-burn is full-on self-absorption. I was flirting with that state when I ran into a timely mirror the other day, and now I’m gently backing away from the abyss. We absolutely don’t know how we’ll do under compounded stress until we’re there, but the gross stuff we don’t need usually floats right to the top. So score one for the pandemic and train-wreck spines, I guess…

We can hope…
Best Venn diagram ever…

It’s still possible to understand each other as humans, at least on some level, if we’re straight with ourselves and everyone we meet. It’s not half as scary as closing your heart to the world, and I’m glad for this week’s reminder of that.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith – rooftop garden – 08/04/2020

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Notes to self… page 77

Day 142 – 08/01/2020

  • Are half-finished projects during this long dry spell eating your lunch? Pick one and do it – the morale boost gives you a natural high.
  • If you’re having trouble concentrating, thus playing hell with pleasurable reading, try an anthology of short stories – they’re engaging without the commitment.
  • Is resentment churning because stupid people are making the chaos worse? Revisit times when you were stupid, willfully or otherwise. It won’t help… but it makes you lower your voice a little.
  • When the day has reached peak stasis, you’re ready to break out of your skin suit, and you feel yourself becoming languidly unhinged, do what the fitness watch says, “MOVE YOUR BODY!” Keep moving until you lose the urge to do the only honorable thing by committing hara kiri.
  • If you can’t google out the most perfect way to be healthy, start with less food and more motion – the details will follow in good time.
  • Since we picked up 15 more COVID cases in the county yesterday, sticking to the cave continues to be a good option.
  • When you go really quiet for a few months, your awareness expands and you notice just about everything.
  • Owning everything is a weakness – life isn’t all about you, so don’t take it too personally.
I care nothing for revenge… only peace.

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Becalmed… page 76

Day 140 – 07/30/2020

It’s been rainy for a couple of days, starting with heavy fog this morning and morphing to rainfall once again. We bob along on the surface, trying not to just go through the motions like it’s Groundhog Day ad infinitum, but that’s an increasing challenge for me due to “the life of the mind.” BC [Before Covid], I spent most of my hours right here anyway, thinking thoughts and doing the daily, so the difference DC [During Covid] is in the nature of the thoughts. They’re circular, thus unproductive, and they’re relentless… figure this out, make sense of that, reconcile yourself to one unpalatable truth after another. I try to run them all through the Zen shredder before digesting them, for the sake of gut health, but their very insistence and the dearth of answers make each new 24-hours a maze to navigate from waking to sleeping.

Pretty sure this is why humans would rather not think about things too much, why comfortably numb is the preferred state of mind when life gets dicey… and life is always dicey. When your inner self gets to do her own thing, she comes up against pieces/parts that don’t fit… then what? If she goes around them, they’ll always be there serving as obstacles to other pieces/parts of life, so the only choice is to deal with them, which usually involves discarding something, and that’s when the fight starts.

Looking out at the mist hanging in the trees, I have one wish… that I had known the pandemic was on its way and would change life irrevocably for all of us. The heaviest shock, beyond the staggering death toll, is how it has separated us politically, intellectually, and spiritually – a virus the whole planet is dealing with but Americans have managed to turn into internecine warfare.

There’s always blue sky somewhere, though, and often it’s right overhead, with the half-moon at its center.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Around the ‘hood… page 75

Day 138 – 07/28/2020

Woke up before six to a great morning – 74º and 97% humidity. Body knew we needed to walk, Brain wasn’t buying it.

BRAIN: I’d rather stay here, take my time waking up, get caught up online…

BODY: Online will be here when we get back – I’m not camping in that chair again all day.

BRAIN: It’s gonna hurt.

BODY: Yeah. Let’s go.

We walked down Rhode Island to 9th and when we came up New Hampshire toward home we found our reward – a display for the specially-commissioned mural painted on the adjacent building. After reading the bios, I’m good for at least a week on learning one new thing a day – Kansas has a rich history in every direction. Aaron Douglas, Gordon Parks, Langston Hughes, Oscar Micheaux, Gwendolyn Brooks, Hattie McDaniel, and Coleman Hawkins all spent a portion of their lives here and contributed to the genius that is us while sharing themselves with the greater world.

Ms. Head’s full of it and she knows it. If we listened to her all the time we’d miss some of the best stuff.

DISCLAIMER: Kim Smith had nothing to do with these wonky early-morning caffeine-free photos.

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Rainy Monday… page 74

Day 137 – 07/27/2020

For reasons I’m still exploring, I grew up a pleaser and it’s taken me most of my life to shed that tendency, but at this point the people I care about keeping happy are few in number and all the “should” has gone out of my relationships and interactions. “Is it true, is it real, is it right?” If not, our conversations are going to be brief.

The isolation that defines 2020 is showing me that I’m really not all that nice a person and people are likely justified in their relief to be shut of me, at least for the time being. A quick mental inventory of extended family members tells me the gene pool is overweighted by about half toward the conservative-thinking side, and most of those choose to keep me at arm’s length, at the least, for which I can’t blame them since I rarely shut up online. It’s a different story in person… there are days when I don’t say much of anything out loud.

Most of my lifetime has been marked by saying too much, blurting stupid things, irritating friends and family with my penchant for trying too hard, so I love my life in recent years, here in my comfy citadel where I have few opportunities to be overbearing, at least in the flesh… and I’m learning from all of it. I say what seems important to say and a steady sense of detached calm carries me through and over a lot of things… but at its bottom is a loneliness that defies description. It embodies the grief of death and endings, and the nowhere feeling that comes from having no idea what will happen next, where it all goes from here. It sounds like worry when I put it in writing, but it isn’t so much that as the waiting… the heavy sense of quiet outside and in… the tension everywhere… while the fight we can’t do anything about swirls around us.

I just want it over, decided, finished one way or the other. Either full-on fascism will be the victor, everything about America that hasn’t already changed will complete its metamorphosis, and we’ll live with the results or die FROM them… or we’ll get a second chance to make democratic government work. One hundred days is a long time to hold our breath.

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It’s complicated… page 73

Day 136 – 07/26/2020

So what do people do who don’t write? Explode… give up… give in… go batshit unhinged… disappear, what? Clearly there are other channels, reading being one, and it’s looking better on that front the past few days, although I still tend to abandon a chapter and wander off without notice. My safest and best outlet is to write it down – whatever’s eating my lunch – put it out there where I’m accountable for what I’ve said, and let the dice keep rolling. Odds are that at least one other human will read my words and just like that, there I am – a responsible adult saying things out loud and standing behind them.

This so-called responsible adult shows few outward signs of owning the title, all things considered. Most days I sort more detritus out of my life – digital or otherwise – manage a shower, eat stuff, watch TV with some level of engagement, and fill the gaps with whatever I can stay focused on. Hey – it’s a life.

So good thing I did something Grandma… all my grandmas… would have approved of:

He covers a multitude of sins on my part, including that of sloth, and has the grace to give those sins kinder names, thus making me look like a nicer person than I am. And he’s yet to meet a grandma who didn’t like him so I rest my case. 💋 Still celebrating #16…

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Milestones… page 72

Day 135 – 07/25/2020

Got out and walked in the cool air just after six this morning and watched the neighborhood wake up – or not… pretty quiet Saturday so far, but Farmers’ Market was setting up and a few other walkers were out. Increased my distance this morning with half the pain, so I’m calling it a win.

When I was almost home, Kim zipped up on his bike on his way to PickleBall and got cheeky with me, so win-WIN. Sidewalk kisses under a shade tree are great any time, but they’re a must if it’s your 16th wedding anniversary when everything’s a celebration. My future looked like a blank slate to me when I was a little farm kid, but two things took shape as life materialized: I wanted to be happy… and to know that I, the authentic me, had made someone else happy. Feels like it’s all about winning today, of the satisfying kind.

Ms. Brain just asked “Where’s the music?” and now da boyz, Leon and Johnny, are in my head like the best friends they’re becoming. Mr. Russell’s soulful twang… and lord, lord, those pounding chord progressions… and Elton John being his inimitable self. Neither of them will ever know what their gifts to the world are giving to me, that farm girl who had no clue where she was going… but I hope in the economy of the universe they’re both richly repaid. And please don’t tell, but now the girl’s dancin’ to “Hey Ahab,” have mercy! Could just accidentally survive this whole catastrophe.

Things being what they are, we decided to let Anniversary Day plan itself and we’re right on schedule. We’ll have The Breakfast, as is only fitting, with The Best Salsa In The Known World, and then we’ll just hide and watch – the day will be good stuff. Tonight we have tickets for an outdoor cabaret being put on by friends – the audience sits in their cars and listens on an FM station, BYOB and popcorn, what could be better?

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

So simple once you figure it out…

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Realities… page 71

Day 134 – 07/24/2020

“Every time you argue with reality, you’re going to lose.” Proven fact… want stories? John, in off moments between hospital shifts, has been sending me short self-development videos done by a young Canadian woman who’s fun to listen to and easy to look at, and her delivery is quickly growing on me. One of yesterday’s was called “How to Accept What Causes You Pain” and I found it helpful – simple reality is powerful. Here’s the link if you’re interested. It’s about ten minutes long…

Still playing with my new headphones and tracking down music on Pandora. So far this morning I’ve listened to Sam Smith’s “Fire On Fire” three times, Elton & Leon’s “Never Too Old to Hold Somebody” twice, and I revisited Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” just for old times’ sake. Speaking of old… Joe Cocker’s cover of “I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends” is staying on my playlist. But “The Union” is the album that’s putting wind in my sails just as the doldrums have settled on us in earnest, and I’ve discovered that I can match tones again, with the music directly in my head… although I only sing along when Kim’s out.

Notes on the ties between Elton John and Leon Russell:

“At the time of their first meeting, on August 26, 1970 at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles when Leon was in the audience during Elton’s United States debut, one of the two pianists had already written two hit songs, played on over a dozen Top 40 records, and was at the beginning of a six-year run where ten of his albums appeared on the Billboard Top 100 charts – including one live album and one greatest hits collection.

“And the other one was Elton John.

“Leon had a four-decade-wide dovetail relationship with Elton. In the 1970s, the pianist and singer from Oklahoma was a major influence on John’s early piano-playing style and song-writing. In 2010, Elton used his passion for his early mentor to record an album together [at a barebones low point in Leon’s life] and get his name back into the music lexicon, saying at the time, “If Leon can get the accolades he deserves and be financially O.K. for the rest of his life, I will have done something decent with my music,” and their collaboration eventually resulted in a Top Five album and Leon’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Mr. Russell’s words, “Johnny found me by the side of the road and picked me up.”

In the documentary of The Union album, Leon does a run-through of “In the Hands of Angels” and Elton John breaks down in sobs against a door frame. “When he played that, we just lost it. No one has ever written me a song before. He said, ‘I want to thank you for saving my life,’ and I just burst into tears. It was the most magical of times because here was my idol accepting me. Actually, he could eat me for breakfast at playing piano.

The Union is a seminal work full of pain and promise and I can’t get enough of it in this new age of detached living.

The album came out in 2010 and Leon died six years later at age 74, releasing several more albums during that time. Thank you, Elton John, for those extra years you gifted to him and to us.

Leon Russell and Johnny …

I rode to the farm with Kim on Wednesday for pool maintenance and when we got back to town he drove me around to point out changes since the last time I stuck my nose out. We used to do that with my mother-in-law, he and I, and I sounded just like she used to… “Oh my, when did they redo THAT?” “THEY closed? Really?” “Wow, THAT’s totally different!” I love our space, the quiet, the insulation from chaos, but if we’re forced by misguided egocentric fellow citizens to remain in this state of limbo for another year to 18 months, it won’t always feel so Zen, especially when we look around at how other first-world countries have managed the pandemic – resentment is a totally human emotion and no respecter of persons. From the tone and nature of online comments, I know that people my age group and up are expendable, as are children, so home continues to be okay with me for now. Case numbers in Douglas County are over 500, with two deaths and a predominance of recoveries, so we know it’s being managed about as well as possible, but there’s just nothing I miss enough to mingle. And I could take myself for a drive any day of the week if Kim didn’t tote me along… I obviously haven’t been sufficiently motivated yet.

Past a certain age, people start to become invisible to the energetic viable world, but “Remember: when they look right through you, you’re still there.” – Guante

A tacked-on thought after an hour of internet reading: I wish people would leave Harry and Meghan alone. Love is hard. Life is hard. Relationships are hard work – let them breathe.

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Sunny clouds… page 70

Day 132 – 07/22/2020

I walked this morning before 7 o’clock while the air still held a hint of cool. Kept moving until my back said “Let’s go in,” and if I could just do that three more times today I’d have 10,000 steps.

Blew some of my allowance on a set of bluetooth headphones which arrived yesterday… and now I’m sitting here with Leon Russell and Elton John, tears on my cheeks, while they deliver The Union. Small mercies, children, I can hear every note and nuance. Beautiful morning…

The book I mentioned on Sunday was consumed in two days and I immediately started another, so maybe the reading logjam has been broken. I’m not me without a good book going so this feels like psychic progress.

Now here’s Leon with “When Love is Dying” and I can’t even, it’s so heart-rippingly exquisite. Ever since I realized my hearing was fading, I’ve wanted to make music sound real and right to me again, and this is the closest I’ve been in ten years. I’ve missed it like pure cold well water. And here come those plummy hair-raising chord progressions of “Never too Old to Hold Somebody” and there’s just no way not to lose it.

Healing comes to us in any way it can – any fissure or crack in the protective veneer and there it is, warm, welcome, filling whatever space we’ll give it. Books and music have done that for me since childhood and it gets weird without either one, so everything’s sunny-side-up this morning even as I type through the tears. You have to hurt good sometimes to feel better.

The boyz are singing to me now about Shiloh…

Gone to Shiloh
For the Union
Shoulder to shoulder
Side by side
Gone to Shiloh
Hope springs eternal
When flags and bullets start to fly

The year 2020 seems to be our Shiloh and there’s nothing for it but to face it, in union, shoulder to shoulder, side by side. Hope springs eternal.

Now, let’s have some Mr. Blue Sky and bring the house up into sunshine range. “Mean Evil Woman” is the second track, how cool is that? “Don’t Bring Me Down” is #4… Ooo-oo rrrooop…. I’m going with that for the day. The calendar tells me this is HumpDay, so let’s all get over it in style. 💋

Photo credit: Kim Smith – Kaw River 07/21/2020

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And Tuesdays, too… page 69

Day 131 – 07/21/2020

That reprieve we needed… it’s here, as of yesterday evening, and it’s pretty sweet. Temp of 72º this morning, and the only reason the humidity is in the upper 90s is that it’s still raining a little. We asked, we received, it feels like a benediction.

Decatur Man and I exchanged quick humor bytes this morning before he texted this in response to my question about his schedule:

“I’m in Covidland today.
I got floated here yesterday, and the unit manager, who’s a friend of mine, was crying because she’s so overwhelmed. 
So I picked up an extra shift today
(12-hr shifts), along with 2 of my 4200 (Oncology unit) buds. 
It’s terrible here these days.”

At this point, any united effort to halt the spread of the virus would be a godsend. Anything, any level of genuine concern, any solid indication that the naysayers are at least trying not to make it worse. It seems somehow unAmerican that the helpers are fair game and entirely expendable – our teachers, healthcare workers, and the countless others who keep the great world humming. I dislike the fact that everyone’s chances of survival seem to be linked to the common sense of others – the odds are not in our favor.

But Pool Man will be home soon from the Ponderosa and he’ll probably stay tucked in with me until the skies clear – he’ll have to get out and ride his bike or walk at some point, rainfall permitting. Life continues to be a desirable thing… irreplaceable and worth defending for everyone I love, however long it takes, so no whining here about anything but the flies in the honey.

Showers bring flowers. Reminds me of my grandma’s house.

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