Ta-da!

*

Drumroll and some horns, please, it’s a breakthrough morning.

Someone asked me years ago what I saw myself doing at age 65. If I recall correctly, my answer was “Whatever I want to,” and then we were off and running again, trying to keep up, losing contact with dreams…

Now, ten years past 65, I sit here at my desk thinking about goals… options… open doors… roadblocks… the stuff of everyday living, and it’s beyond exhausting. Not DOING it, THINKing about it. All this year, on reasonably nice days, I walked and walked and walked. But for a farm girl I’m a big sissy and when the weather turns cold, so do I. And then I sit inside feeling guilty and under a cloud of self-reproach that’s entirely unnecessary and unproductive BECAUSE…

… we determined a few posts back that I DON’T DO MORNINGS, so why do I continue to torment my psyche about it? Here’s what I know, suddenly, having just typed those words… IT’S A COP-OUT my brain employs. By which I mean, “Well, I didn’t make it out to SPL for YET ANOTHER MORNING, so the day’s pretty much shot for that. I mean, it gets dark around 2pm now, so… ” Another approach occurs to me… I could utilize experience and intuition to figure this out and make something work. Not a problem, just a challenge.

GOAL: To walk five days a week. Or, you know… three.

REALITY: When it’s cold and miserable outside, any excuse is legit. Nope, sorry, not today, no can do, blah, blah, blah…

FACT #1: Sports Pavilion Lawrence is, under most circumstances, open to Douglas County residents every weekday from early to late, and they have a snazzy walking track that’s safe, if inevitably boring. But did I mention that if you live in the county, the facility is FREE to use?

FACT #2: It’s been established that mornings are not my personal jam; however, afternoons exist and will have to be taken into the equation if I hope to come out a winner on this.

The track encompasses the interior of the building, on two levels. It’s cozy inside and there are people there. A TODDLER would have shed their inherent laziness long before now, faced facts (see above) and been ON it. Accountability is tedious, but so is DISability, so…

Somebody do what you can to keep me responsible… thx. It’s 15 or 20 minutes’ driving time each way, so it’s not like walking a block down to The Summit to work out. Which I never did even one time when they were open, so there’s that…

But let’s not make this all about me, she said, turning for a profile shot… if you’re a Boomer, you’re sort of an Old, and moving is your ticket to the future. Not as in “Let’s pack the truck and get outta here,” but as in legs, arms, booty, everything well-oiled and grooving to the beat in your head. We can give ourselves a genuine advantage for the crazy golden years, and it’s worth getting totally serious about. Totally. Positive resolutions to us all.

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Things… they happen

*

Couldn’t find it on my bucket list when I went to cross it off, but I finally earned a decent shiner in my lifetime, and it was so easy to do! Almost made it home from my walk Monday afternoon when I stubbed my toe in the driveway to our building and went down. I don’t remember the fall, just the solid impact and the aftermath. Once my senses returned I was trying to see where all my stuff was… little shoulder bag with essentials, my glasses, my walking pole, the tiny hearing aid that flew across the pavement… when a svelte young businesswoman drove slowly out the drive, looking at me turtled up while deciding to do nothing. It felt precisely like somebody was looking but not seeing. I was a bug on the sidewalk. Fortunately, a woman likely in her 60s hopped out of her car and tried to help me get my feet under me. Due to my suddenly messed up right side we were having no success, when a man in his 50s strode over and carefully lifted me under my arms so I could stand up, gathered my detritus for me, and saw me to the door. Those two people have obviously lived long enough to know everybody’s gonna need a hand sometime, and they made all the difference. I actually feel kinda bad for that lovely young woman… Karma never forgets and this mama’s heart wonders what the cost might be. Oh well.

So yeah, that’s how that was. My cheek swelled about 3″ beyond its limits, with the outline of my ruined glasses showing like a roadmap, and now we get to marvel over the beautifully changing fall colors on this canvas of a face, starting with livid purple. It’s been necessary to show myself in medical offices, making sure everything still checks out, and I have a disclaimer: Be advised that if you indicate Kim and say “I’ll bet HE did that, right?” I will look you in the eye and ask why you’d say that. “Do you hit YOUR wife?” It strikes me as an old-white-man thing to say and I’ll call you out. An old white man with Dr. in front of his name asked me that question on Tuesday, but the right words hadn’t yet formed in my frontal cortex where expressive language resides. Come at me again, you old fart, with your not-humor, I’ve got your answer right here.

Here’s the truth: if you’re a woman and you ask me that same question you’ll do it tentatively, softly, with eyes downcast, and you either know me really well or not at all. If you know me enough to trust me, you’re asking for yourself, things have happened, and you need someone to tell. And you know Kim would never hit me, but you need an in. If you don’t actually know me, you don’t know my husband either or you’d have the answer already. If you’re a man and ask me, something in you is damn proud of him for supposedly asserting his rightful authority over a clearly insubordinate wife. I’m not having it, Mr. Cellophane, sit down. And don’t speak to me again without authorization.

Okay… all better now.

Anyway, if you’re either brave or a masochist, here’s what it looked like Tuesday morning:

By evening, gravity was carrying it all south down to my real wrinkles and I have a kind of wondrous scary pirate vibe going now. No more pics, and I know you’re thanking me. My medical-everything friend Regina told us to go to a Mexican grocery and get arnica gel for the bruises. She broke her orbital socket last summer so she knows… and she’s right. It works. Not fast enough that I won’t shock my hairdresser out of her boots today… but I can see a difference already.

I have a love/hate attitude toward the new boots I was wearing when I fell, but I’ll put something on and get back on the horse today, walking to my haircut and home again, before an excess of caution puts me back in my comfy chair to stay. Cannot, will not, have that.

You know why I write about getting older?

  1. Barring circumstances, everyone goes there.
  2. There’s no cure for it.
  3. It gets realer and realer.
  4. If I can scout ahead and warn you of some of the pitfalls, well… one is glad to be of service.
  5. This is a part of life to be enjoyed, if possible, rather than discounted as “just getting old.”

Don’t fear life, it goes on. Never let the bastards wear you down, compadres. Your horse is waiting…

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I can work with that…

Oh hey, my Muse, I didn’t see you there when I sat down! I was lost in thought about HABIT… what it is, how it happens, what it means to humans for good or ill. Glad you’re here on a Sunday morning, you can help me with this.

Over a lifetime, I’ve unconsciously built a wide range of habits into my daily existence, some of them a real bitch to get rid of. What I’m after at this point are GOOD habits, BETTER habits, BENEFICIAL habits, since there really isn’t time left for detrimental processes. I’ve been happy to discover that I’m still equipped for growth, that I can add a new module to the operating system and make everything sync.

I’m talkin’ ’bout my new drug… walking, something I took for granted until in my 20s but never after. Farm Girl ran for acres on sturdy little legs, mostly barefoot. Tripped her way through grade school, danced through high school, went to college in the almost-70s so remembers only pieces/parts. All of that was very real and vital and life-shaping, and it’s mine. I own the ensuing years, after my life-altering accident, and all they held. This morning it feels like I owe tribute to the NOW and the gift of walking out the door and going ’til I feel like heading home. Unless the weather is dire, I can’t sit here much past sunrise without my butt twitching to go outside. I have to latch the Tevas to my feet, get out there, and offer up my daily measure of thanks. By the time I get home there are aches going on… but nothing hurts. It’s an excellent morning when I’ve been out and about, back home and iced by 8am, and this was one of them, go me. Now I have the entire rest of the day to fart around.

A sweet secret muse is Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, and I love this story:

Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope:

“Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.

I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I’ll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is – we’re here on Earth to fart around.

And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it’s like we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.“

Let’s all get up and move around a bit right now… or at least dance.

All respect, Kurt, you ol’ dog…

***

What’s my motivation? To keep dancing.

***

It was a sweet week, highlighted by having this guy hang out with us for a few hours, play our piano, jam on guitars with Kim, sing, harmonize, fill the house with joy. If you haunt the music-underground in Lawrence in any of its iterations, the swell of talent that’s always just behind the curtain here, you likely know this gifted young man… lucky you.

Vincent Brauer. Remember the name.

***

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Helpful, honest, happy family = amazing…

I’m sitting in my 4th-floor perch on a rainy Wednesday morning, observing the dog-walkers and the drizzled foliage while I savor the events of the past week. John booked a spur-of-the-moment flight to check in with the parental units, and his timing couldn’t have been more spot-on… we needed to see and celebrate with him. When he was here about this same time last year, life was feeling markedly unsettled for all of us including Auntie Rita… and much positive resolution has transpired since, so we toasted to every bit of it. On Sunday he treated us to a wonderful 18th wedding anniversary celebration at Basil Leaf… Italian food, wine, exquisite desserts, and the best company we could ever want, while we counted our blessings. Life remains good.

***

Between the weather and timing, we managed a handful of walks… and the remainder of our waking hours were spent talking and eating, a true Midwest sojourn for Atlanta man. Tomorrow he’ll return to his oncology unit and we’ll resume our exercise routines in earnest, possibly skip a meal once in a while… and life will go on until we see each other again. The days since last Friday will keep my heart fed for some time to come…

***

Until next time.

***

The world delivers a load of stress to our doors every day. I’m glad real family, however we manage to come by those people, is there to help us handle it all and move on. I fiercely love and need my people.

***

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Stormy Sunday…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 05/15/2022

When I got up this morning, a huge mothership of a storm was hovering overhead, rapidly snuffing all hint of light from the sky. Then came the lightning, rain, and wind, and full dark returned. Perfect! The Sunday omelet never tasted better, and Kim’s fresh coffee will get me through the day, big grateful sigh. Inside I weep for the world and its brokenness, so all the beauty and sweetness has to be gathered up and held close.

I told a Twitter friend a bit ago, “I’m sick at heart. This nation should be a safe place for lovers and babies and other vital parts of society… for ALL of us.” We’re statistically a pro-life culture in our ideology, but what does that even MEAN when a white supremacist guns down a dozen or more Black people, broadcasts it live on the internet, and is carefully brought before a judge, physically unscathed. His 18-year-old white hide is sacred, therefore safe, and the only thing I see in America that can beat white pigment for power… is a gun. The right of white American men to be armed matters more than any law, moral or otherwise… it’s more precious than our children in school… its significance outweighs every issue other than money, and the two are inextricably linked. We’re all adults, we can acknowledge a fallacy when we see it, and it isn’t hard to recognize this lie for what it is. The vacuous statement that “All Lives Matter” is tragically laughable, along with its various iterations… Black… Blue… old… animal… veteran… redneck… fat… unborn.

Thought I made that one up, didn’t you?

The unborn are the easiest demographic to advocate for… they’re silent, appealing in the way of kittens, and once they pop out of that sacred womb they’re on their own! Win-win!! The sentiment that every human fetus is the loftiest, most precious form of life on earth just doesn’t play to the cheap seats. We watch how reality ends up for the loudest voices and deepest pockets, and there’s no way to miss the various dichotomies. If you’re part of the Citizens United mindset, you absorb the obvious lies and ignore the inequality in every direction, mouthing platitudes on the way to your bank. If you’re a member of the real world you refute the lies and fight the inequality… and that’s how that is.

A few spears of sunlight briefly reached the intersection.
A Shark headed to the next rumble. No Jets in sight…
Everything swept clean …

Kim brought these home from Farmers Market yesterday. Have a Sunday as happy as these poppies!

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What matters…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 4/2022

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, full of sunshine and hardly a drop of wind yet. SoCal Man’s already been out cleaning the balcony glass and will probably plant the rest of his current nursery purchases today. Music cranked, hands in the soil, he’s a happy guy. Then he’ll count the pots in the storage room and set off to find fillage for them, which makes me as glad as it does him. Nurturers gotta nurtch, and since I need less intensive TLC these days, blooming surrogates help fill the blank spots. His eye for color and personality makes it an upper every time I step outside, with my sole contribution being to dead-head and maaaybe water once in a while.

I have to think that if it weren’t for lack of wisdom and maturity, relationships could be this simple from the get-go. Kim loves to cook, grow things, play his guitars, play PickleBall and ride his bike, and be The Guy for people who need one. I like to read… write… savor long silences… organize stuff… and now that I can sit there again, play my piano. We know these things about each other and if we just “let it be,” everything else works out, all that trivia we’d otherwise bicker about. I’m glad we caught this train in our 50s, with gas in the tank, plenty of earned wisdom, and a certain form of maturity, the key to which is to never actually grow up… otherwise, we’re both such intense people we’d likely have maimed each other by now.

Easter Sunday, with Rita Jo as my loving and forgiving audience. Little rusty…

Kim received a gift last fall, the opportunity to be The Guy in a situation where everybody wins. Three gals in their 70s and 80s asked if he’d be willing to help them improve their PickleBall skills so they wouldn’t be intimidated in open play, and nearly every weekday morning since, the four of them, and often others, have played at 7am, with the result that everybody’s game is getting better, including Kim’s, of course. Last week he drove Nancy, Susan, and Mary to North Kansas City for lunch at Chicken n Pickle, followed by two hours of play on a reserved court… and rumor has it that everyone had a fabulous time. They’re so good for him, and vice versa I just know it. Life is often too sucky to talk about, so the good things really stand out. The bonus is that they’re all cooks and they bring treats to share with each other, which I sometimes benefit from if I get to Kim’s backpack quick enough. The relationship reminds us of his seven aunties in Minnesota and their mutual admiration society. Good stuff.

Life stays good if you don’t give in to it.

Life has never felt this angst-filled, but on the flipside, it’s never felt this exquisitely precious, either. Remember two things in the name of peace and sanity:

  1. Life is all about change. Accept that fact, and live it as it comes.
  2. We have zero control over what happens on the planet, and indeed in our individual lives. Don’t try.

******

For all the empaths I know and love…

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The wind… it blows!

For three or four days running, the weather service threatened us with rainstorms, potentially severe… with no results to show… until my overriding thought became “Either do something or stop blowing about it, ‘k?” We finally got our rain last night, and a suburb of Wichita was hit by a big ugly tornado, so the weather people weren’t wrong, merely premature. The Andover storm, despite its fierce strength, did far less damage than a record-breaking tornado in the same town thirty years ago, which caused massive damage, as well as loss of life. It’s early in the news cycle, but what’s known is that close to a thousand buildings were damaged or destroyed and there are injuries, but no reports of fatalities so far.

In the country’s bread basket we take wind for granted… it’s part of the scenery. I’ve escaped to a corner of Kansas where it generally blows just enough to keep the air pristine… but it will always be part of living here. Wind is crazy-making, whereas rain opens the doors and windows to the subtle force that guides me… the germanic melancholy, the weltschmerz, imbedded in my DNA. We love rain, my muse and I, so empty promises in that regard are grudge-worthy, and since thunder, lightning, and rain give me something to write home about, I hope there’s a lot of it scheduled. No more tornadoes, though, thanks. Like my wise old UncaPhil, I hates me them tornadoes.

It’s a beautiful morning, cool with light breezes. Gonna savor it because guess what, our old friend Wind will arrive soon to blow us through the day. Looks like the grace period ends in approximately 5… 4… 3… so I’m appreciating it all in double-time!

The weekend’s here. Treat yourself to something fun, and remember…

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THEY DID IT!!!

Our beloved boys of fallwinterspring grabbed the brass ring and brought it home!! The joy, exuberant spirit, and sheer relief are palpable through the walls and it’s healing to wallow in all of it while it lasts.

Kim and I walked Mass Street around 4pm yesterday and with traffic blocked it was all people, all the time, with hours left until tip-off. The air was full of happy anticipation, with long lines outside venues offering watch parties. We came home, made pizza, as one does in these situations, and watched the game in the relative quiet of our own place, hearts in our throats ’til the final seconds. Simultaneous with the closing buzzer a roar went up from the streets, we tied our tennies on our feet, grabbed sweatshirts, and romped one block west to see it all for ourselves. I’d hedged about doing that since I’m just 3mo post-op after my back surgery, but when it might well be a once-in-a-lifetime thing… no regrets. I took a hiking pole, hung onto Kim, and celebrated. Put my spine in the shelter of a parking meter, held on, and watched the sea of happy humanity parade south, likely only to snake its way back north at some point. It was an exquisite sight.

It was stunning to see how quickly Lawrence converged on downtown, with thousands of students streaming down from The Hill after watching the game in Allen Fieldhouse, and other people hoofing it in from all directions. I sensed no bent toward celebratory destruction, just a happy, thankful, somewhat inebriated vibe. There was a low-key, benevolent police presence, with extra personnel brought in from the KC area for the party, and they seemed part and parcel of the night. They were appropriately industrial-size and sober-faced but friendly and helpful, and registered no concern over the myriad open containers passing under their noses, nor the sweet scent of weed permeating the atmosphere. A very mellow kind of noisy happiness was going on and I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. Neither of us thought to take a selfie to prove we were there… but neither will we ever forget it.

Eighth Street was a party all day, from early to late, and when we walked back home it looked like a brewery had exploded, but I’d put money on the street having been swept and scrubbed before the sun came up this morning, along with Mass and all its tributaries. Lawrence loves to party and knows how, so we get to keep doing it.

The scene on our corner, with our building in the background, while the outcome of the game was still in question…

In the nine years since we moved here, the Royals have won the World Series, the Chiefs the Super Bowl, and now the Jayhawks the National Championship… such a richness of human spirit in a world that could use a bigger share of the wealth. In hard times that won’t quit, there’s something about a group of individuals melding themselves into a team and winning the big prize that takes us out of ourselves. And we love them for it… with their gifts and talents and achingly-perfect forms, they’ve briefly rescued us from the pall of failure, death, weakness, and discouragement. We desperately need our heroes… kudos to the parents who bear and raise them, these beautiful young men and women who are our future.

ROCK CHALK!!

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… and one to go!

There is joy in Mudville this morning, and we’re collectively gearing up for the final round, happening tomorrow night. The bluest of the blue-bloods are duking it out, you see what I did there, and the excitement only builds.

Massachusetts Street yesterday immediately after the game ended… all photos courtesy of the Lawrence Journal World.

******

Party tomorrow night starts at 8:30, win, lose, or draw! Be there!!

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Always a challenge…

Shootouts… it’s always something. In the greater world it’s war, hunger, need, and disease that stretch humans past their limits. In the scaled-down version, we obsess over sports and winning… and no apologies for that because a steady diet of pain, injustice, and death does exactly to us as we might expect, so we hang onto the happy for as long as possible. Our beloved Jayhawks made it to the NCAA Final Four and we’re quietly psyched.

It’s five whole days before our game with Villanova… and we’ll survive the wait. Somebody will win, somebody will lose… life will roll on. April 7th is MLB Opening Day and we’ll have a whole different roster of familiar faces to cheer for when the Royals get going. In the fall we’ll turn our attention to the Chiefs and hope for a big season. Maybe by Super Bowl 2023 we will have achieved world peace simply by running away from every unpleasant detail of life. That’s worked before, right?

As with most of them over the past few years, it’s been quite a week. Lots of people saying words, other people speaking with explosives, but is anybody anywhere really listening? The truth is slammed more viciously than misinformation and one gets the impression lots of people prefer the narrative of lies.

It’s a gray day, with a blue mood hovering, so I’ll hustle back to something happy before this post implodes… a photo of my kid celebrating his birthday with three friends. In Iceland. Inside an ice cave. For a midwestern farm guy it would have once seemed slightly inconceivable… and it’s so cool. I’ve never been shy about living vicariously, especially if that was the only option.

The travelers…
Black sand beach…

******

It always comes back to real estate… where we’re standing when life happens. Our planet is so beautiful and so tortured. Gonna keep my soul wrapped around the beautiful today if it kills me.

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An almost-spring weekend…

Good morning on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday. It’s still cool out, but temps are heading for the mid-60s by afternoon, the sun’s shining, and something that feels suspiciously akin to joy is rattling around in my heart. Kim made The Breakfast, of course, and it was perfect… of course. He’s been making life as smooth as possible for the past 18 years… and now I can’t possibly thank him enough for never giving up on a fix for the spinal pain… it’s changed everything and given me my life back. There aren’t really words for that.

THIS GUY

I have the world’s best men in my life, and on this day 52 years ago, I gave birth to the absolute best human I know, who affirms along with Kim that I have reason to have existed. Happy Birthday, John Latta. Celebrate everywhere life takes you in the coming year.

Birthday guy at Hot Betty’s for breakfast this morning…

John with hospital co-workers and good friend Lanette, on his right.
Less outnumbered… by one, thx to Mike.
Lisa and her homemade banana pudding cake. That’s a stellar start to a birthday.

Good story to go with the photo above. John says, “There was a group of ladies celebrating a birthday next to us (I thought the birthday girl was in her 20’s, but she’s 46 today!), and I offered her a piece of the cake. Their table went crazy for it, so we had enough left over that they could share in the birthday love.”

******

With a one-sided terroristic war underway, and a psychopath killing as many children as his troops can find, for the sake of shock value, it’s hard sometimes to relax into what’s at hand… the life we’re privileged to live here, at least for now… hard to take joy in the smaller things without being guilt-ridden over it. But the chaos is there and we’re here, and a sanity-based approach to life tells us we can be of no assistance there and very little here. So what’s on tap for today is…

NCAA Basketball Tournament play, starting at 11am with Baylor and UNC, which leaves just enough time for a nice spa soak first. The KU Jayhawks play Creighton at 1:40, our fan-focus of the day, and then it’s endless roundball ’til the sun rises tomorrow, as far as anyone knows. You pick your escapist poison, we’re settled on ours. Which brings up a thought…

Don’t be like Pluto.

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Courage, like love, needs hope as its daily bread…

My sabbatical from televised news has worked out so well I’ve extended it indefinitely, but the events of the day remain on my radar via the written word, with what’s happening in Ukraine uppermost. This morning, after posting several things on Facebook regarding the attack by Putin, it occurred to me to wonder why I’ve been so drawn in by this conflict, and I immediately realized that it’s because we so narrowly escaped our own date with a dictator, who’s still hovering over history. With America so divided, the fate of democracy still hangs in the balance, no easy breathing room yet. The Former Guy was very much a part of the lead-up to this war, supporting the little KGB ferret in his grandiose plans for the planet, and both of them need to be absent from the world stage for the good of all. President Zelensky was the victim of TFG’s arm-twisting over Joe Biden’s candidacy, so it’s a neat little package brought ’round full circle, and the machinations need to end now. President Zelensky has my highest respect as he fights for and with his people.

“We’ve already suffered so much. We’ve lost so many people to war, and famine, and historical events. Almost seven million Ukrainians were killed in World War II, more than any other country. We don’t need much. We’re not an imperialistic people. We aren’t very warlike. Our land is covered with black soil, so we can grow everything we need. We just need peace.”

(Baryshivka, Ukraine: HONY Archives 2014)

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Goals…

Since my current objective is to be outside walking every day, I’m hyper-focused on The Weather Channel, and what I’m seeing is a roller-coaster path to spring. Pretty sure it’s that way every year, but this time I’m feeling the nuances. We had 8″ of snow late last week, and parts of it are still on the ground. Today’s high is forecast to be 70º with sunshine, so the remnants should disappear while Rita and I are out “hiking” this afternoon, and I can’t wait. She’s scouting out a path I haven’t taken, just for extra interest and incentive because she’s cool like that.

******

That was yesterday. We walked around the Pohler Lofts neighborhood and spent a little time at the Wishing Bench, which someone with a wonky heart on a rough day set on fire some years ago, but which has been refurbished and laden with items dear and meaningful. Next time I’ll take a fresh pic… yesterday we were just there to look and ponder. We went from Pohler to Hobbs Park & Stadium on 11th and looked at the murals… read the quotes by Langston Hughes, who grew up a few blocks NW of there… along with other words from other souls who helped make Lawrence what it is.

Old photo of original bench.
Hobbs Stadium

We love this town, which is still in Kansas but so not like the rest of the state. Our Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, is one of the nation’s most endangered in this year’s midterms… and her GQP legislature has hatched a bill to separate Douglas County, one of two blue dots in the state, from the rest of NE Kansas and stretch our voting block in a straight line across the state all the way to Colorado, 400 miles long and an inch deep. Against our will. Against anybody’s better judgment. Against sanity. It’s crazy-making to be rendered helpless in our own defense, which delights some people no end.

I have a theory, which if proven wrong would crush me. I think you can make #lfk your kickaround dog, poke her with sticks, try to put her nose in the mud… and get virtually nowhere. Digest this in whatever way lines up with your basic philosophy, but a blurb Google handed me says “Lawrence, Kansas was founded in 1854 by antislavery radicals who had come to Kansas under the auspices of the New England Emigrant Aid Company to outvote proslavery settlers and thus make Kansas a ‘free’ state. The city was named for Amos A. Lawrence, a New England textile manufacturer who funded the company’s settlement efforts.”

“Antislavery radicals” sounds so… judgmental, don’t you think? When we go to Free State Brewery… Free State Dental… any number of clearly freedom-loving spots in town… I just think how fresh the air feels. I am for sure anti-slavery, but isn’t everyone? Wait… that’s the “radical” part, isn’t it. From what I can gather, John Brown was a nutty old scarecrow who knew his beans, knew right from wrong, knew people weren’t livestock, and he left an indelible imprint here, as we continue to ask ourselves “WWJBD?”

Abolitionist John Brown has been famously depicted in a mural done by Kansas artist John Steuart Curry in the State Capitol building in Topeka, completed in 1940. The mural portrays Brown almost as an Old Testament prophet, a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other.

Mr. Brown did his rabble-rousing in the 1850s, coinciding with #lfk’s infancy and likely setting the tone for future dealings with the surrounding world. Then in the 1860s, as Civil War devastated the country, William Quantrill contributed his bit to history:

“The Lawrence Massacre, also known as Quantrill’s raid, was an attack during the American Civil War (1861–65) by Quantrill’s Raiders, a Confederate guerrilla group led by William Quantrill, on the Unionist town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing around 150 unarmed men and boys.

The attack on the morning of Friday, August 21, 1863 targeted Lawrence due to the town’s long support of abolition and its reputation as a center for the Jayhawkers, who were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking plantations in pro-slavery Missouri‘s western counties.” -Wikipedia

Quantrill couldn’t burn most of the native stone buildings on Mass Street and elsewhere, but he did his damndest to scorch the character and reputation of Lawrence. And how many people today can even tie his name to this place in history?

I may have been too mesmerized to take pictures yesterday… I haven’t been out much ya’ know… but it’s all still there and we’ll go back. Not today, however, when the high temp will be 28º, a 40º drop from yesterday afternoon’s balmy stroll. Overcast. Gray. Glad I got out and shook hands with Monday while the gettin’ was good. I’m more thankful for a little sister who never whines about slowing her “veteran hiker” pace for the old girl with the hardware onboard. Wait… she has plenty of same, so she knows.

Thought I was seeing ghosts slipping along the sidewalks… all that talk of Quantrill’s Raiders and John Brown and how we got here. Turns out it’s snowing, and now the flakes are gathering mass and acting all sassy. I get to stay in here all day, and walk or no walk I’m loving it. I’m wishing all of us a cozy day bathed in peace and freedom…

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Film at eleven…

We’re in the throes of a schizophrenic weather event, a thing the bread-basket is well known for. Yesterday’s high temp was 66º with sunshine. The wind, however, was a ravenous wolf that escorted winter back to our door as we slept last night, and at 6am the world outside is swiftly being layered like a wedding cake, even as the snow pushes southward. It’s currently 23º out there, which is almost our high for the day… a drop of 41º from yesterday’s temp. Real-feel is 8º so I’m sticking with blanket, fireplace, and hot chocolate for the duration… and we’ll pioneer our way through until tomorrow’s high of 40º and sunny.

I miss the colossal blizzards of my childhood, back in the olden days on the prairie. In retrospect, although school was canceled on a regular basis every year, there was one true big-deal weather event… in the winter/spring of 1957. The snow came down like wet laundry from March 23rd through the 25th while the wind made winter-festival sculptures of it and we cooked up adventures in our dark farmhouse. The electricity was out for about a week, but we had Coleman lanterns and kerosene lamps from my grandparents’ house across the drive, so it was all fine with us, by which I mean anyone not responsible for clothing, feeding, and sustaining us as viable humans. Our floor furnace ran on gas, but did it need a spark from the wires to fire it? At any rate, we stayed snug as bugs, my folks always kept the freezer full of food, and the kitchen stove was on gas. Yay us!

March 1957

That year I was nine years old, my little sisters about 4 and 5, and in the photo we’re sitting atop the evergreens in our grandparents’ shelter belt, which never really recovered. Our baby brother even got to check it all out for himself the day this photo was taken, feeling the cold, eating the snow. Our neighbors could walk out their upstairs bedroom windows onto the drifts that stacked up against the north side of their house. Good times…

It’s only grown darker since I got up at 5:45, and not much is shakin’ down there on the streets. A true snow day for savoring…

Next month is the 60th anniversary of one of Kansas’ biggest blizzards, MY blizzard, about which there’s information in the link if you’re interested, including a small paragraph about the blizzard of 1886, which was related to me by my grandma, born three years after the event. The People, with their verbal accounts of history, had it right… and I wish I’d listened to every word of hers like it was a lifeline.

https://www.weather.gov/ddc/1957Blizzard [Hit back-arrow to return to blog post.]

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Weekend loading, please be patient…

Sunrise with Streetlight – Kim Smith 01/14/2022

We were graced with a brief band of fire this morning before the gray winter skies closed in and extinguished it from view. Tomorrow’s forecast says cold and snowy, so we appreciated the warm handshake from the sun, no matter how short-lived. Today it’s simply cold and gray, requiring a more creative approach to the hours. It’s good to be able to spend a few minutes in my desk chair again, because other than books and a couple of games, most of my creative impulses are poured into this big MOchine. Feeling better usually requires writing words, and that happens best right here.

Or I could borrow someone else’s, because…

On the uninspired days, it’s helpful to remember this rule.

Looking back over this week’s trove of saved things, one stands as more important to remember than the rest…

Anybody guilty? Raises hand… 🖐🏼

*****

Latte and macarons for the therapy…

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