Joy is still a thing…

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, with rain and thunder, and now a peachy glow in the eastern sky. There’s a bouquet on the table and the morning hugs are extra sweet, because today’s our anniversary. Seventeen years ago, on a Sunday, after church, two dreamers made promises in front of many witnesses, and much living has ensued.

Wedding Brunch in the Kids’ Church

Since we walked out that day hand in hand, there’ve been broken bones, surgeries, heavy-duty illnesses and diagnoses, heartaches for loved ones, sad goodbyes… and more pure goodness and joy than any human deserves. The promises we made to each other on July 25, 2004, and repeatedly since, have been kept, are being kept, will be kept, and it’s an occasion to celebrate. Even if both of us DID space it off until yesterday morning!

August 2014

*****

Frank O’Hara, poet of the NY School & exemplary bohemian, died 50 years ago today in an accident on Fire Island. (Via @deborahsolo)

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Sunshine and rain…

It’s good that spring and summer were here to greet us as we emerged from our caves after the long COVID winter because doing it the other way around would have been infinitely more challenging. The sunshine and rain, trees and flowers, warm days and kind breezes are just what the doctor ordered and we’re using it all to full advantage whenever possible. There’s apparently more rain coming in the next couple of days, and then back to sunny temps. Life is good, the world is sometimes a hospitable place, and I’m grateful to be here still, in a community that generally embraces the broad spectrum of humanity and the incredibly endless variety offered by this planet.

Yesterday I got to see a friend from the past and it was everything. John came to Kansas just in time to help me jump-start things again after the effects of the virus and the long containment… my friend Lyn showed up and affirmed that I’m not done yet, and she was excellent medicine – it’s healing when someone’s on the same page with us, no explanations needed. Lyn and her husband Rob came to see us here in Lawrence a few years ago, and when I laid eyes on her yesterday it was as if no time had passed since then – we were instantly laughing and hugging and sitting down to remember together, all the good stuff, the crazy stuff, the awful, the unbelievable, the indelible. And to catch each other up on The Intervening Years, the Synopsis. It’s an amazing feeling to be loved by someone who doesn’t HAVE to love us for any reason – thanks, Lyn, you were right on time.

*****

You know how people are, the minute we feel better we’re full of advice for everyone around us. To wit:

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Lunch is being discussed at the moment…

I hear it’s actually gonna be tuna sammies, fresh-cut watermelon, baked beans, and tater chips. I’m in.

It’s Friday! Again! Wow! Have a super good weekend…

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A watershed week…

Dear Diary,

It’s been a while.

I found better things to do.

Love ya, mean it –

Me

.

I got my hug(s).
Hugs all around, all week.

The 4-year drought was broken this week when John Latta came to town for a few days, time enough to really connect again, with us and his Auntie Rita. The hours were pure joy, no rush, no big deal, just together. The phenomenon that is COVID has left us all standing, so far, at least… and that’s no small thing, with John working in its midst at the hospital from the beginning, and Rita and I managing to contract it despite our precautions. Kim comes out looking like a star, with his asthma and heart history… out there doing ALL THE THINGS all year, and never sick a day except for that nasty food poisoning. We know it isn’t over, but here we were, together again, and that was huge.

The four of us took a drive around Lawrence so John could be blown away by almost thirty years of growth and other changes on KU’s campus and the town since he moved to Atlanta, and that was fun, but after they’ve seen the big city they’re not all that easy to impress. 😊

The time between Monday afternoon and 9:00 this morning passed every bit as fast as we knew it would, but we packed a lot of good food, great laughs, and even better conversation into the hours. The Oncology RN with hospice skilz and an uncanny grasp of human nature was here long enough to quietly assess the health and wellbeing of the parental units, and he very graciously and seriously answered questions the three of us had about our health in general. It was a beautifully-timed visit, urged into action by the love and friendship of Kevin Bruce, and John’s partner Anthony, who both sensed it was time for the Mama to see Mr. John and vice versa. We agreed today on the way to MCI that we won’t let four years pass again before we see each other, no matter what tries to intervene… little things like broken bones, illnesses, insane scheduling, and pandemics. Meh, mere details.

I’ve been moody and weepy since about March of 2020, right through the election and its aftermath, even as things began to look more hopeful for the world… and I kept wondering when that other shoe would drop… when I’d feel some sort of resolution to the events of the past five years or so… when I might feel real again, with compelling reasons to still BE, and a genuine interest in pursuing all the good stuff in this third trimester of life. The errant shoe found a solid landing this week when John’s plane touched down, and the hours before he boarded again for home were valuable beyond measure.

My deepest gratitude to the people who love us – they help us keep life as it CAN be, at its best.

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I love sunny Sundays…

It’s a gorgeous morning and Kim’s on the balcony greeting the sun while I work my way through another weekend wake-up. We’re both ready for *consistently warmish* in the weather forecast, and he has plans with Marcello today for PickleBall and go-cart racing. Everyone’s still staying masked, but the parameters are perceptibly widening for getting back into life as we knew it. At present, Douglas County is the most vaccinated county in Kansas against COVID – close to half the population – but people who think it’s over and act accordingly are a fly in the ointment, so half is only halfway there.

The Kimster’s in his happy place when the sun’s shining.

This article from WaPo perfectly articulates how a return to the world feels right now, and I hope it won’t be behind a paywall. Short story, we introverts are conflicted… (and a heads-up, there’s more blog text after the link, so hit the MORE button to continue reading, if necessary).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/introverts-are-dreading-a-return-to-the-noise-crowds-and-small-talk-of-normal-life/2021/04/09/386006b0-987b-11eb-b28d-bfa7bb5cb2a5_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F31ce4b3%2F6071c74d9d2fda1dfb4a1eec%2F59728e17ae7e8a1cf4ab33c8%2F60%2F72%2F6071c74d9d2fda1dfb4a1eec&fbclid=IwAR1eIuSq6X32M_HZyHbT3Q4U-BqkAOtlDCPoogMZvMkrXM6wpoWWroQNhTo More

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Socked in… page 223

Day 349 – 02/27/2021

Saturday breakfast underway, with fog peering in our windows… Kim Smith – 02/27/2021

Picture Guy got out early this morning and walked for an hour, taking fog photos…

South Park
More South Park… in Stephen King mode
Kaw River bridge
The view from the cheap seats
Old power station
We’ll leave a light on for ya’.
8th & New Hampshire… home sweet home
Home Sweet Home for real… ready for the weekend.

If it gets into the 60s this afternoon and the sun comes through for us, Rita & I will probably walk again – these windows of opportunity are too good to miss right now.

We got a call from the pharmacy, scheduling our second shots, so things are moving right along. We’re on for March 4th, which has been widely touted as a possible date for mayhem on the part of Q if President Biden were to give his State of the Union that night. Most of Congress, the Supreme Court, and of course the President and Vice-President, will be inside the Capitol whenever the address does take place, so it’s a prime target. March 4th is also the date the former guy is supposed to magically burst onto the scene as SuperPresident and something, something, all will be well once again for the proud boys and girls and their various cohorts. So! Vaccination day could be FIRE! I’ll just be happy if I don’t get ghastly ill again, but it is what it is… I’m gonna go through some things, but I knew what I signed up for. 😎 😷 🎤

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The thaw… page 220

Kim Smith – 02/23/2021

Day 345 – 02/23/2021

Let the record show that on February 23rd at 10am I walked around on my balcony barefoot and was.not.cold. It’s 66º now at 2pm, I have the door wide open to the fresh air, and I realize I may never have known a year when I was more ready for spring. Rita came by for me this morning, we picked up coffee, and went down by the river where we walked from the Mass St. bridge to the boathouse and back, which has to be at least a mile. Felt amazing and there were quite a few fellow Lawrencians out. We drove around for a while afterward, finding the best route to the river for next time (better parking, closer to the boathouse) looking at historic houses in the neighborhood, and generally frittering away a beautiful morning.

When I got home, Kim had left for PickleBall (I spaced it off) and I was locked out, but that was easily fixed because Leon and Thomas were working on the doors to the trash building and I prevailed on Leon’s kindness for a master key. I love living here… this spot, and #lfk overall – the we-care-about-people vibe comes through, under and over everything else. Rita drove me past the hospital a little way and showed me Lawrence’s tent city for our homeless population through the winter and the pandemic – makes me feel even better about where we are and the humans we live among. They’ve built wooden structures with peaked white-tent tops in a fenced area that seems fairly isolated and safe. And just up the street they’ve broken ground for a rehabilitation center… bless you, my homies.

I couldn’t see for the sun, but I took a few pics anyway… and this is why Kim’s the photographer in the family.

Off the dirt onto the walking path…
A frozen tributary
Somebody’s hooch. Had to squint at the “TV.”
Riverbend…

The next two days won’t be outdoor days, but the weekend looks promising.

And with that, I’m sitting here looking out the window and word comes through that Tiger Woods has been injured in a rollover crash, extracted via Jaws of Life, and he’s in surgery for multiple leg injuries. There’s never been a predictable day of life for any human who’s breathed oxygen… but you really don’t need to try so hard, 2021, to outdo last year.

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Insurrection… page 184

Day 298 – 01/07/2021

My overriding emotion this morning on awakening to the reality of yesterday’s chaos is one of sadness – the inconceivable has happened in our nation’s Capitol and life in the United States is broken. Those who know Donald Trump told us in 2016 that the story would end this way – and the one prediction yet to manifest itself is that he will trigger a thermonuclear device on his way out the door. Anybody know where those codes are?

Reports say four people died in yesterday’s terrorist attack on our Capitol, same number as when Benghazi happened – there will be endless probes, hearings, and recriminations, right? Lumpy will sit for eleven straight hours of testimony before this is over, right? Justice will prevail after the great unwashed stormed the barricades, scaled the walls, shattered historic windows, smeared blood on statuary, urinated liberally everywhere, ripped nameplates off the walls, sat in personal offices and at the dais of the Senate with their feet up, taking photos of paperwork, walking away with items, fomenting insurrection with every act, right? Justice will prevail. I guess the Capitol police and reinforcements were saving their rubber bullets and tear gas in case any Black people showed up – in fact, had this event had a color key the Black version would have looked like this:

For the people inside, the roar of the mob came first, then the sounds of doors and windows being breached. A few highlights of the day:

How it started… with Chamber assistants bringing the Electoral College ballot boxes. Staff had the presence of mind to grab the boxes when the mob broke through.
Teach… your children well.
Just an ordinary Wednesday in America. Little troll behind Wolfman Jack has already been fired. Wore his work badge to the riot.
Dropping in…
That’s a big hammer, son, whatcha’ got in mind??
History smashed.
How’s your aim, senators?
Close your eyes for naptime, kids, it’ll be over soon.
Democratic representatives comfort each other.
Arrest this asshole.
And this one.
I also saw confederate flags yesterday – explain that, America.
America has lost the plot.
If these are your heroes, unfriend me, unfollow me, block me out of your life – I don’t know you.

On another note, remember COVID? Almost 4,000 people died in this country yesterday as a result of it. My test came back negative, but since I still feel like dog shit and have all the symptoms of the virus I’m gonna stay right here ’til morale improves. Sense of smell and taste are gone and the sweats and body aches are like a rollercoaster ride. Maybe the swab has to actually tickle your brain in order to get the goods, who knows? It’s a plus if I don’t have it, especially for Kim since there’s no way not to expose him – in which case, this feels like something that needs its own vaccine.

But that was a bridge too far for survivalists.

Meanwhile, the Flight Attendants’ Union says their employees will not staff planes on which the terrorists from the unmasked superspreader try to fly home. Good luck on the DC streets, MFs.

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New Year’s Day 2021… page 181

Day 292 – 01/01/2021

We woke up to fat snowflakes this morning and neighborhood flaws are being covered over hour by hour while I watch from my windows. Perfect way to observe a fresh start when everybody needs that more than anything, and now a little light is filtering through and making the snow look like fondant.

Our neighbors’ balcony

Kim says if he had more chutzpah than good sense he’d go down to the river and take pictures, but since we both know how that stacks up, he’s still here by the fire. Across the street, though, the little 3-year-old is out with his daddy, shoveling porches and sidewalks like a boss.

Our New Year’s Not-Rockin’ Eve was sweetly chill. Kim made Tortellini Bisque and garlic bread, we toasted to endings and beginnings, stayed up past midnight to escort 2020 out the door, shook the dust off our psyches, and burrowed our way into blessed sleep. We celebrated this morning with the Saturday breakfast on Friday, which will mean Sunday breakfast on Saturday, and a waffled-up Sunday morning. These rebel hearts will never be tamed…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 01/01/2021

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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 day after… page 176

Day 286 – 12/26/2020

Wild ride today… got up at 7:00, ate part of my breakfast, realized things were wonky, went back to bed at 8:30 and slept for 3 & a half hours. Chills, body aches, nausea, the strength of a kitten. Better now after passing out for a while, and I don’t think it’s anything but stress and fatigue so maybe I’ll get my legs under me again before the day’s out. Poor anxiety-driven system.

Cold this morning but up into the 50s now and Kim’s heading out for another walk. Don’t think much else will be shakin’ for the foreseeable.

On the day after, I’m thinking of these guys… we were last with them 2 & a half years ago. Various circumstances have kept us from going to Atlanta, and before COVID they were busy going places, such as Amsterdam, and after COVID hit had to cancel a trip to Paris in March for John’s birthday. So it’s been a while since we could coordinate plans, and my heart feels it.

Think I’m gonna go wrap up in a blankie…

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Sunday… page 164

Day 273 – 12/13/2020

As of 3:30pm I’d moved just enough today to let Kim know I was still alive. He walked early this morning, made Saturday breakfast for Sunday, we both spaced off via the internet, and watched Mahomes & Company whoop up on Miami, although we were none too sure for a while there. Kim’s making a grocery and On The Rocks run and then we’ll be tucked in until tomorrow. Sundays in #lfk are quiet as the prairie.

Yesterday he made a loaf of banana-salted-almond-chocolate bread and glazed it with powdered sugar mixed with pineapple juice. Oh my. Tasty. Good thing I can leave it alone once it cools off.

Texted with John for a bit this morning, a dependable day-maker. Nobody makes me laugh harder or cry sweeter tears… and what we don’t talk about stays with me more than anything I read or hear anywhere.

This resonates with me, even though I don’t have students:

One grandma was born in 1889, a grandpa in 1899. Late 1900s sounds just like that. Yikes.

With dark happening by 5pm we never mind being in where it’s cozy before then. Kimmers is back, groceries stowed, and I’m ready to rest from the day’s strenuous labors.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 12/13/2020

Top photo: Current occupant of Sunflower Bike Shop’s front window

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Saying thanks… page 160

Day 269 – 12/09/2020

Woke up to a gentle sunrise, feeling grateful… just a quiet knowing that good finally wins out.

I’m thankful for the sunshine. This is our fifth day in a row of fair skies and milder temps, and that helps with absolutely everything. After today it’s winter again for a while, as is to be expected in December, but this has been good.

Kim took the photo above on his walk this morning of a window on Mass Street, and brought me a bagel, both of which made me smile and feel the thankfulness.

I just read through some of the comments on my blog and was teary-eyed grateful for so many genuine human beings who talk to me, here and on other social media. You’ve been my steady friends through all the crises, and I hope I’ve been yours.

I’m deeply grateful for writers, here and everywhere, who take me through the days in boxes filled with brilliantly-organized words. When you sit at your keyboard, and open a vein and bleed, it lets me into your world and all those beyond and I see you. You should feel seen.

I’m grateful always for Kim, in all things. His commitment to this household, formed from the two of us, goes above and beyond. I don’t deserve him but if he weren’t here I’m not sure I’d be ANYwhere.

I’m very thankful that Rita lives just across town, listens to my rants, loves me unconditionally, and is THERE. I’m undeserving of that after all the crap I pulled on her when we were growing up.

My gratitude, appreciation, and love for John know no limits. I can’t find words for the magnitude of my respect for him, and my deep thankfulness for his caring. Best. Ever.

I’m thankful, grateful, indebted to the people out there who’ve been fighting both coronavirus and their fellow citizens for nine months, with no good end in sight until truly effective vaccines can be delivered and administered in such numbers as to slow the roll and finally stop it. We don’t deserve those people at all, and without them we mos def would not be around much longer.

Kim’s psychic photo reached out and grabbed me this morning. Some people call melancholy souls *feelers* and on occasion feelers have been known to know things. You don’t really know… you just KNOW. It’s a curse because when you feel in your bones that something’s going to happen and nobody believes you, what are you supposed to do with that?

So you write, you spill all of that between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place angst onto the page and leave it screeching in its death throes while you walk away… and pity the poor soul who happens upon the steaming pile. For an anxiety-ridden little lump of flesh, practically from birth, it’s possibly odd that I prefer to deal in nothing less than truth. Hit me with it straight on, I’ll sort it, and I’ll do what has to be done. And having put it out there that way, I see that dealing with life head-on is how I handle my built-in anxiety – just do it. There are facts hitting us in the face every day now that we can’t run from and they aren’t going away, so I look, absorb, adjust, and carry it ’til bedtime. Thank the universe I sleep like the proverbial dead.

Since this was created the events of 9/11 have dropped at least two places and within a week will no longer be on the graph at all.

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Perspective… page 153

Day 262 – 12/02/2020

Passivity has taken me to a severely rudderless point… how ever will I right the ship again and head for true north? Some days it simply isn’t worth chewing through the restraints, and that’s not even a whine, just a fact. So I’ve been on a hunt this morning for things that take me outside my ridiculous self and break the ennui, this first of all for its x-ray vision:

This from an Australian beach. Wha… ?
Mothballed cruise ships and other vessels, in Greece I think. Some look quite longterm.
Whoa, gotta go!
Christmas joy in the U.K.
HOUSTON, TX – NOVEMBER 26: Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,220,000 cases, including over 21,500 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

The year 2019 was dicey and 2020 has broken me. So grateful that music and its people still heal us.

Credit to Kim Smith for photo at top – 12/02/2020

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How’s the weather?… page 148

Day 254 – 11/24/2020

Kim’s photo of yesterday’s sunrise gives me all the feels – it’s clouded over again this morning but without the drama. All things considered, I’m not ready for winter this year, the early dark, the wind, the cold permeating the building – the weather becomes my jailer. One attitude adjustment on backorder – they’re temporarily out of stock.

Totally blah this morning. Everything on the inside feels the way it looks outside – dull and gray. Things are moving forward on the political front, but we still have two months of limbo to get through while the country and its people continue our slide down the garbage chute. Two more months for those supposedly in charge to ignore the massive loss of life every single day. It’s hard knowledge to reconcile.

The sun’s always out there, though. Kim’s photo of Watkins Museum yesterday morning…

And a random street…

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Rollin’ on… page 143

Day 249 – 11/19/2020

We’re headed for 76º and sunny, so if it isn’t too windy for PickleBall Kim will get a reprieve from the four walls – plus his walk and a bike ride. He already took pictures at the river this morning.

I updated my iMac to Big Sur OS and it wouldn’t boot back up so I left it because I’d already clocked out for the day. This morning Google and I found the key and we’re in business again, whew! This baby’s my lifeline for the foreseeable.

“Lawrence’s hospital is projecting a more than 500% increase in COVID-19 inpatients in the next two weeks, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino, an infectious disease expert, said Tuesday night at a town hall meeting on the pandemic.” – Lawrence Journal World

I’m really not cranked about any excursion that requires packing a diaper bag.

We can’t save people from themselves, we can’t even save ourselves from them. They seem bent on killing us to prove a point, although that point is elusive – the actual why. Simple health protocols have become too difficult for Americans – what was it that generated this visceral lack of concern for the human race? What has incited nearly half our population to this level of animus toward the ones who try hardest to save us from ourselves, and to literally keep us breathing? What activates that desire to inflict harm, to punish other humans for being? It’s in all of us, we want to be right. We want to have our voices heard, whether we’re saying anything or not. We want to be justified in our choices and decisions. And most of all, we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. And we’re losing the fight for life.

Kim’s photo of the granite bedrock below the dam is talking to me this morning. Took it millions of years to get that way, and man’s machinations don’t affect it much. Granite will still line the riverbed millions of years from now if nobody pushes the red button. So is the lesson simply to BE THERE? To hang in for the long haul? To let it all wash over you and on to the ocean? Mr. Granite Slab does well with that – feelings aren’t part of his chemistry, Mr. GS don’t care. The rest of us are on our own.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/19/2020

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