What’s your favorite season and why is it fall?

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Wrote this yesterday before the day turned irresistibly beautiful… before we walked with friends to a restaurant new to all of us and spent a long lunch laughing and cementing friendship… up the street to Sylas & Maddy’s for ice cream… and a nice stroll home, talking all the way. The Muse tapped my shoulder about this post in the late afternoon, but by then I was far too comfy where I was…

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Favorite season? Fall, hands down for me, for all the reasons. In general, it isn’t too ANYthing… too wet/too dry, too windy/too still, too cold/too hot, just friendly, benign, middle-of-the-road weather while we brace for winter. And never have I been more conscious of the letting-go process fall embodies. The bell tolls, bring out your dead!

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Uncertain of our significance in the universe, we hang onto everything we encounter in life… we might NEED this experience, this memory, this bit of detritus we never really understood in the first place! And we do need some of those things, but not consciously. They’re all there, influencing everything we say and do, we don’t have to think about it constantly, none of it is going away. Short of a lobotomy, most of us will remember the significant moments in our lives, both good and bad, until death or the dreaded Oldtimer’s claims us. The goal is to no longer be predominantly shaped by the negatives we can’t entirely forget – life is genuinely not long enough for those memories to be left in charge… they rule from a bad motive and muck up things that would otherwise be perfectly beautiful for us, thus the need for fall housecleaning. It starts from a spiritual place.

Yesterday Kim and I took a drive through the countryside, which in Eastern Kansas this time of year is a requirement. The leaves are getting creative in their death throes, everything looks crisp and clean, crops are ready for harvest or soon will be… and there’s no sense of regret attached to any of it. Earth’s inhabitants respond to the seasons and behave accordingly, humans in ways that are hard to define. Autumn is the dying time so we tend to assign an extra portion of melancholy to its days and miss its true essence entirely… that death isn’t always a downer, sometimes it’s required. Industrious as we may be, the house isn’t clean if the stench of old death still permeates the walls… so really… why do we cling so tightly to things that once hurt us, made us question our right to be here, and still hold the power to ruin an entire day if we let them? I think that was rhetorical…

I love all the sweet, poignant, utterly lovely moments fall brings, leading to the kind of memories that save us in moments of uncertainty and that inescapable sense of being alone.

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If you find yourself overwhelmed by loneliness and questioning your place in the scheme of things, remember…

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Also, and this is very important to me…

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Autumn, I really love you…

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Totally Zen start to the day, sitting in the predawn darkness while rain pounded against the windows and the trains going through town sent out their lonesome danger-laced greetings. “We’re here, beware. You, though… sleep on, all’s well.” Kim’s 6am PickleBall group fell apart at the last minute, so he came back home and I ended up with an Einstein’s bagel out of the deal. For lunch we made a Ramen noodle stew that will end up in the rotation… perfect on a rainy fall day. All is indeed well.

Speaking of which, before we get too far into holiday shenanigans…

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This morning the U.S. is in constitutional crisis, teetering between the democracy we’re trying to keep, and the fascism being foisted upon us… but I can’t get into that, my beautiful fall day would be wrecked and so would yours. It’s exhausting, the outer circumstances and the things we all deal with on a personal level, and sometimes it feels like I’ll never not be tired, so this resonates…

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Loss and patience go hand in hand if you survive.

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Fall carries its own brand of generosity, with its colors and schizophrenic weather and its assurance that it really is okay to let go. Its intrinsic melancholy is oddly healing and it feels like home.

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Sea change…

Look at the time, it’s the next-to-last day of summer already! We have a nice cool morning ahead of our 100º high… the sun’s shining, the mowers are mowing, the fresh-cut grass smells like a benediction… and I enjoyed my morning walk before 7:30. We’re supposed to be in the mid-80s tomorrow, and then autumn greets us on Thursday with a high of 61º and rain, wouldn’t that be perfection. Seemed like kind of a short summer, but they all do now, and we’re ready for the loveliness fall brings.

It’s been a week since I sat here and wrote anything, but not for lack of opportunity and effort. I learned early on that my muse does not reward effort… she values only my trust. First and foremost: coffee, preferably Kim’s, which is steeped in love and not tainted by Starry-eyed capitalism. 😊 Next, quiet and focus, which might not be exactly what you envision. I can stare at a leaf outside my window while I write a whole paragraph without glancing at the keyboard. Is that a marketable talent? SPOILER: No. No, it is not. But it’s a good exercise when it works.

And then, when the quiet settles down around me, we talk, my elusive muse and I. She brooks no untruth, no dissembling, no dancing around the real stuff, and sometimes she simply goes away until I’m ready for it. She knows the world is a hard place to be right now if you possess awareness… that double-edged sword of knowledge. She knows other species don’t have to deal with this aspect of life on earth, so she tries extra hard to be kind while tormenting me with things I could maybe think about.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness… what it is and what sort of power we hold over it… and as with all of life, it comes down to balance. Kim gets twitchy-butt if he stays indoors for too long, whereas it’s pretty okay with me in here most of the time. It does get really quiet, though, especially without the talking heads on TV news who used to babysit me. What I’ve realized is that often all I crave is the murmur, the presence of other people, and I don’t even need to be part of the conversation. Times when I’m happy to sit in the corner of a coffee shop with my iPad, on the periphery, listening to the ebb and flow of communal existence while bearing no responsibility for decisions being made around me, simply benefitting from the nearness of others who resemble me. And then I toddle back home, thankful for the grace of peace and silence.

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I think about what it means to be an introvert, an empath, a peacemaker, and a relentless advocate for truth and justice, all wrapped up in one neat little neurotic bundle… and mostly it means that at any given time somebody’s really pissed at me and would love to tell me so, and that my spirit is basically conflicted nonstop… but whaddaya gonna do. Refer to description in this paragraph… by the stars, I never had a chance.

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Life is an endless puzzle, but a bit of awareness and longevity go a long way, and eventually, over years of paying attention, a pattern emerges. Humans are selfish and lazy; therefore, life has only a partial shot at running smoothly at any point in time, and given free reign we will screw things up past all fixing. Are we there yet? Feels like we’re there. I saw this yesterday. It’s real. Feel free to google it.

Dealing with the day-to-day is a contact sport not suited for the faint of heart nor the easily discouraged, and that’s without assholery like the above. Ya’ll can have Orange Jesus 100% to yourselves, thx.

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I plan to do the same. Hope it works out that way for you, too.

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Hello, starshine…

It might sound odd, but I miss you when I stay away for too long and fail to write down every thought in my head as OCD, ADHD, and anxiety demand. Beyond an incredibly faithful core of readers, I have no idea who sees my words… but there are days when I can feel benevolent forces just behind the wall… this wall I’m scribbling on now, defacing it with my own brand of graffiti… and I’m glad you’re there. Makes me wish for words of wisdom to impart, something that would make your day a little shinier, your heart a bit lighter. Alas, it turns out I’m here mostly to bitch and moan and call for backup, so may the gods bless your heart for sticking around.

This morning was undoubtedly one of the most perfect of my lifetime, and that’s saying a lot. The temp and humidity were just right and the sky was pure sunshine, a Chamber of Commerce kind of day. I walked to Einstein’s to get a bagel and coffee, then to a picnic table in South Park where I enjoyed a quiet breakfast while I read my book via phone and watched Larryville wake up. Not a leaf was stirring in the massive trees that must have already been standing when Quantrill and the Boys came through during the Civil War, trying to burn everything to a cinder.

There’s no way I could reach across this, let alone around its circumference. There be giants.

A couple of people wrapped in blankets on the hard floor of the gazebo were gradually letting the sun’s rays wake them up, and I hope someone provided coffee after they came to life.

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As we inch our way toward the season of the long shadows, I’m storing sunshine and benevolent days… we’ll need every bit of it.

Kim Smith self-portrait, August 2022

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I’ll leave you with this… and if you know the translation, please share it!

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Laziness… the habit of resting before you’re tired

How to tell if something has become a habit… when you feel utterly miserable if you miss a day. Kim woke me up when he left for PickleBall, which I assume was around 6:30, and the next thing I knew it was nearly 8:00. When I stepped out onto the balcony the sun and thick hot air made me duck right back inside to think it over, whereupon I decided some buttery grits with toast and jam sounded more rejuvenating… and here we are.

If every day went according to plan, we’d be robots, but missing my morning walk will stick like glue and I’ll be looking for shade toward evening to make up for it. Seven months ago I couldn’t envision ditching the lifetime nerve pain and doing whatever I wanted to do… so now when I pass up opportunities to DO… I feel it. I’m calling that a beautiful thing while I line up the day… there’s usually enough to do.

I remember scorching summers, some total drought-makers, but the current heat wave feels ponderous even when the humidity is below 50%. In an era when all our chickens seem headed home to roost, I’m not holding out false hope for consistently milder weather any time soon, by which I mean I may never see that day again. Good to be old… I got to see most of it at least once. Live with this we will, kids, ’til we die. The human race is nearly inscrutable on every level, but one thing we know about us… even the gods can’t tell us a damn thing because we arrived here knowing it all.

Not a lot to write home about right now, just felt like checking in with everybody. And I saved another little stack of stuff to share with you…

Right off the top, a commentary on the past couple of weeks:

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In that vein, and don’t let on that I told you, but Kim always wanted to invent a Braille halter-top.

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Self-explanatory.

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This one’s just a freebie.

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I like to reiterate the following on a semi-regular basis to keep misinterpretations to a minimum if possible:

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This is critically important, so don’t skim past it…

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And this… shared by a wonderful friend… because I love it.

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Did you wake up grumpy? Or let him sleep…

Woke up at 6:30 to dark skies, and rain hanging in the northeast, but it’s apparently moving that direction, leaving us behind. We had generous rain yesterday, though, so no whining here. There’s a crew on the corner across from us, taking out a large, very dead tree, one we’ve said for the past couple of years was “going to have to go.” Progress, I love it.

Over the past hour, reading news online, I’ve learned a couple of things, first being that the Supremes are still cooking up shenanigans. According to their pending edict, the freedom to conceal weaponry on one’s person is entirely too precious to be entrusted to the States, those silly entities they never mess with except as a last resort to get what they want. The issue of women’s right to our own bodies, however, is piddling enough for those same States to deal with as each region and subculture might deem fit. Roe v Wade is over. Not a good look for The Bench… the power of the gun tops the right of women to exist equally… but they’re so far past caring about public perception, truth, integrity, and justice, we can dispense with thinking they’ll rescue anything or anyone but themselves. So there’s that.

But wait! There’s MORE!!

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And next come all the dominoes we’ve said would fall once the dam broke…

It’s a sin to say you love someone and vote for people who will hurt them.

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This is all distressing beyond words, which brings me to the question forming in my head since I woke up… to wit: How are your connections with people who hold polar-opposite views on life? Are those connections surviving? What’s your secret? But here’s my real honest question… when heinous things are perpetrated by government people from the polar-opposite side, do you automatically feel a spark of anger against the people who voted them into office? Does your psyche register a pinch of betrayal every time? Is there a feeling of “This is personal”? Has your willingness to trust taken any hits in the past few years? Just wondering…

And now there’s a curtain of rain hanging in the forest that is East Lawrence, the neighborhood is taking on a soft glow because the sun’s still up there somewhere, and it’s a beautiful world. Life really is all about patience, from one moment to the next.

Soooo… weekend’s here, I say we get this party started!!

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For the good times…

Yesterday was amazing. The sun popped over the hill at 6:30am and tracked its way to sunset, never once getting lost in the gray matter. Stayed a little breezy, so never truly short-sleeve weather for this delicate prairie flower, but it was a superb Saturday. We met Rita out at the winery in the late afternoon for Easy G and the Blue Notes, a Cajun & Creole food truck, and smooth local Farmer’s Turnpike White. The food truck, Duke’s Place, is the baby of Papa and Mama Duke, and the aroma of jambalaya, seasoned fries, fried okra, and other wonders was irresistible. Since nobody resists around food, wine, and music, we had the fries. Rita knew Mama from another winery night and the three of us had a fun conversation while things were heating up in the truck, wherein we learned that Papa teaches music at three area universities and earned his doctorate in that subject at KU this spring. I’m guessing he’s late 40s, early 50s, and I’m all respect. And Vanessa (Mama) never stops smiling while she works, so the vibes are cool.

We set our lawn chairs under the trees in the green green grass, commandeered the one little wooden table on the place (it’s becoming a running joke), settled in, and breathed. The day, despite the tiny chill in the air when bigger gusts sailed through, was lovely, and the dozen or so small children in attendance looked to be in kid heaven. Just past the main yard and narrow driveway there’s a little meadow where one girl, maybe 8 years old, held her own against three likely-9-year-old boys and a football – girl’s got an arm. There were four tiny girls and one just past toddler age who flitted around like butterflies, all whispers and bravado. Every once in a while the herd instinct would take hold and all the kids from big to small would run down a path into the woods, only to wander right back in short order. The smallest followed after everyone until her eyes glazed over and she looked like she wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep, right in her little tracks, and this mama’s guessing that happened before they left the driveway. One reason I know is that I slept nonstop until 8:30 this morning and felt positively renewed. NOTE TO SELF: Wine and Cajun fries, fresh air and music at every opportunity.

The evening was like a delicious shot of novocaine after the weekly load of fresh pain, which not only rhymes but is part of a greater rhythm. When you combine benign nature, great food and drink, heart-grabbing music, and the knowledge that likely everyone there would have your back if necessary… you can’t go wrong. The winery is partially the creation of friends of Rita’s… a chemical engineer and his physician wife… and their two little boys made up part of the football/pirate/explorer entourage down in the meadow. Can you say wholesome, boys and girls? Chip and Joanna Gaines have nothing on this place. 😊

People will always determine whether life is good or not, and as much as I try to live without them, it feels better to be around kindred spirits. I think tomorrow I might get to see a couple more and I can’t wait. ❤️ If what we’ve all just been through hasn’t helped us sort out our priorities, we’re not gonna get there, kids. Make it a great week… we’re due for a heat wave here tomorrow!

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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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Add patience and wait…

Hi, just me over here waiting impatiently for spring to find a toehold. Our weather from day to day is schizophrenic, to say the least… warm, cold, rain, snow, wind, sun, low temps, mild temps.

Forecast for the week ahead:

My mission is to stop being a fair-weather walker and just GET OUT THERE. Stay tuned…

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While I wrestle with my conscience and matters of health, I’m entirely awake to the unspeakable realities happening to fellow humans around the world, and to their lack of choice as to their living… or dying… conditions. My silent tribute to the proud and utterly courageous people of Ukraine, on a beautiful Saturday, in an alternate world…

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“How wonderful to be alive. I am sorry for forgetting.”

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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.”

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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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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.

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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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How cold WAS it… ?

Good morning on a sunny, crispy-cold Saturday. Compared to yesterday’s predawn 5º temp, it was a balmy 20º this morning, so Kim walked Mass Street and environs, bringing me his icy fingers as he does after every winter stroll. I actually invite the delicious shock and brace for it, everybody has a good time, and I’m not the one who has to go out and earn it. Also, did I mention it’s Saturday. The Breakfast. The Soak. In all sincerity, if Dr. Carlson and staff knew what a huge role a simple kingsize jetted bathtub can play in the healing process, it would be prescribed during every post-op dismissal. I can hear my bones sighing as I sink under the water…

The world squandered the power to shock me some time ago, but this past week was surprising in its onslaught of book bannings across the country. Comes across like a sudden and spontaneous development, but it’s no doubt been underway for months and years because the banning of “seditious” books is a key element of fascism, whose proponents desire control like they require oxygen. However far this goes, it’s a honkin’ big yellow canary in the coal mine letting us know that none of what’s happening to democracy is benign, nor do the autocrats have our interests in mind in any way, best or otherwise.

When political actions call for less education, less knowledge, less awareness among the public… ask why.

Not all writing is journalism. Not all writing is truth. Not all journalism is truth. But this woman’s protest sign exposes what’s behind book-banning and the arrest of journalists around the world.

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I have only a passing knowledge of the thought processes of early psychiatrists like Freud, Jung, and others, but I do share an affinity with Dr. Jung for silence… the quiet of a tended mind. It makes surviving chaotic times doable. On that note, I wish you a peace-filled weekend, and may every cognizant discovery stay with you and affirm you in the space you inhabit.

I’ve shared this before, yes… probably will again.

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Forever…

Oh hi, just me here, thinking about stuff again. We emerged yesterday from ten days of frigid temps, snow, fog, and rain… by which I mean all of 2022 thus far… so today’s high near 60º will feel like a holiday. We may get to enjoy a couple days’ worth before the cold asserts itself again, and this reminder of spring is tantalizing. However… 

… BACK, that is.

A thought: I have three partial rolls of Forever stamps in a caddy on my desk. Considering the number of pieces of snail mail we send in a year’s time, that may be how long they last – forever. The post office will be a distant memory and someone will find these sticky tokens, and wonder… and if that turns out to be the most puzzling artifact in my house, I will have dodged a number of bullets.

If you’re looking for an exquisite read, I recommend The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles. There were passages that literally took my breath away, left me in tears, transported my winter carcass out of the cave. It’s a compelling, layered story beautifully told.

From the sublime to the ridiculous… I see this morning that “urine” is still trending on Twitter because all over America people who think they’re part of a master race are drinking their own pee. Horse meds with a piss chaser for “treating” COVID, as opposed to vaccines… anything to own the other half. This is actually where we find ourselves at the start of Pandemic, Year Three. I can step back, separate myself from all of it, and muse about the implications until ever-present reality steps in again and I want to circle the wagons for protection and support… and then I realize people I used to turn to aren’t there anymore and aren’t invested in what’s up. The shock of that knowledge has worn off, but the ache never leaves.

And then I come across other news and facts, and have to face it that the ridiculous is totally in vogue right now.

DISCLAIMER: The law has not yet been instituted, but it’s on the books.

Ready or not, sublime or ridiculous, we’re swimming in the waters of a new year, human-ing and hoping for the best. Each of us has challenges to meet, unique to us but universal to the race, and that’s where our hearts and minds will be. The year 2022 will inevitably be a stretch in ways we have yet to envision, so I hope we’ll all experience some “outside myself” moments, some chances to be there for someone else, to make those small differences that make ALL the difference. And if we find ourselves with softer hearts when (if) 2023 rolls around, we will have won something important.

*****

Old(er), not old. Age, like sex, happens 99% in the brain.

And that brings us full-circle back to forever, which we all wish belonged to us and maybe does, we’re just not sure how or where. Seems like an okay idea to live like it’s a fact… with everybody’s forever in mind.

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On the stroke of midnight…

On the stroke of midnight tonight, you can resolve to be better, if you like…

to be fitter,

to be healthier,

to work harder.

On the stroke of midnight tonight,

you can resolve to become a whole new you,

if you so choose.

Or, you can take a moment to acknowledge what you already are.

All that you already are.

Because it’s a lot.

You’re a lot.

And you deserve to be seen.

On the stroke of midnight tonight perhaps you could congratulate yourself, for coping.

For breaking, again,

and for rebuilding, again.

For catching the stones life has thrown at you,

and for using them to build your castle that little bit higher.

You have endured my friend.

And I don’t see the need to resolve to become a whole new you,

when you are already so very much indeed.

Happy new year.

You made it.

Donna Ashworth

ART by Sherine Tolba

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