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…

******

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…

******

“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.”

******

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.

******

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.

*****

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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Sea changes…

Whether we’re true believers, hangers-on, or equal-opportunity revelers, the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Easter exerts power over all of us. It’s hyper-represented, and thus misses the mark every year, by which I mean world peace is yet to be realized, and peace almost anywhere has become a myth.

For someone who likes to imagine herself a communicator, I’ve clearly done a piss-poor job of it over the past ten years or so. I’ve sat here at my computer, thoughts preoccupied with the immediate, and watched the world change, moment by moment, event by event… observed while the prevailing mood of the country rolled from benign tolerance to annoyance, to resentment, to violence… and I still have a hard time believing where we find ourselves at the end of 2021.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “I don’t get it” in the past decade, I’d buy a lovely dinner for the first person who could map out a schematic of what’s happened, and why almost nobody wants to talk about it. I’ve had conversations with a few former stalwart conservatives whose thinking has morphed over the years, and without exception they’ve been happy to tell me what drove their change of heart… things like morals, ethics, concern for other humans, how people are treated around the world, money, greed, blurring of government and religion, crime at the top, and so on. On the other hand, no 2021 conservative I know has shown the slightest willingness to have an adult conversation with me about the world and their take on it. If I ask a question, I’m intrusive and threatening. If I answer one, I’m rude and aggressive.

“I don’t get it” is no doubt a huge tell in the age game, probably a thing boomers say. But I’m just being straight, I want to KNOW. I want to know why we ended up locked in this cage of solid lines, solid walls, a complete stonewall. Everything that happens in the world affects us from womb to tomb, and the past decade has been packed with trauma and upheaval, so why would we think life wouldn’t have changed us in the process as well? There are people I care about who are so transformed as to be unrecognizable, but I still care. If they’re close to me, or were before society started unravelling, I’ll ask them questions… because I want to know who they are NOW. It’s no secret that I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago – life happened and it set me off in all new directions, for which no apologies are owed. Okay… so I’m a different person, you’ve changed, talk to me about what took you down the road you’re on… human things, not statistics, not rants, not I’m-right-you’re-wrong… simply, here’s who I am now, and because I love you I’ll even tell you why.

Somebody a lot of people claim to worship said “You have not because you ask not.” I’ve asked to the point of being summarily kicked to the curb… or I simply know I’ve asked for the last time “Who are you at this age? Can’t we have a conversation?” and if I push the envelope one more time I’ll be locked out and blocked.

How then do we lower some of the walls, open some windows, figure out how to trust each other? I’m hanging out here in the wind, an open book, knowing my liberal friends and family have my back, and wishing those I love on the other side would be straight with me so our relationships aren’t permanently broken. How can a simple two-sided conversation be so threatening? After everything that’s happened, it seems disingenuous to pick up and go on as if nothing has been altered and pretend we still know each other.

Either I’ve asked the wrong questions the wrong way… the right questions the wrong way… or there was never going to be a right way to start with. Communication is by nature at least 2-sided, so I’ve obviously over-talked because what I’m hearing from the other side is crickets. People forget they unfriended me years ago for being liberal-minded, we make a chance connection, they send me a Facebook request, I say yes (oh, Pollyanna, girl… sigh), they see I haven’t altered my worldview since last time they disowned me, they confront me with what are later described as rhetorical musings (with question marks at the end), I answer (being an old bag with a heart o’gold), they take offense, and within three minutes I’m out on my ear again. Will I never learn? No, no I won’t. It’s just how I roll.

I make enemies because I care and I won’t shut up. I lose people from my life because I talk to almost everyone the same way… I say my truth and I don’t dilute it to a ridiculous degree to keep from offending. What I should have been saying to people I love is “Don’t talk to me about your politics or who’s done what and how much you hate it. Tell me what you care about, what keeps you getting up every day, what life means to you now… and talk to me like you want to be there. I’m not being confrontational, I just miss you.”

And then I remember that I’ve done it too… I’ve dropped people like they were hot after the second time they slammed me in front of the gods and babies on Facebook… and I doubt that felt right to them either. Doesn’t seem quite like comparing apples to apples, but I’ve been impatient and unkind plenty of times during this challenging era.

From birth we know who we feel safe with, who we want to be around, who our people are, where we find comfort and peace. We of course also know who we don’t trust, who makes us clam up and be an observer, whose views scare the daylights out of us, who makes us feel less-than… and ain’t nobody got time for that.

You wouldn’t think a person would forget a thing like this, but it slips my mind that there are fellow humans who genuinely dislike me, disavow me, and have no interest in hearing my name again in this lifetime. None of what I’ve said is about those people… they have personal freedom to stay off the path I’m on, and that’s how that works.

The world has shifted under our feet and relationships we once thought couldn’t be broken are in ashes. It feels necessary this morning to acknowledge that, accept it, and keep moving. I’m sorry for my part in the brokenness… but I don’t give up without a fight when something matters, so I’m sure I’ll continue to annoy and disgust people I don’t even know are looking.

For now… let’s think about holiday lights.

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Thankful…

Holidays now are ghosts of traditions past, but yesterday felt right. Rita and Kim did the cooking, kept it simple but delicious, and all the feelings were mutual. Three people in one room on the same page makes for a relaxing observance and we enjoyed it all.

In the afternoon, Rita went to a movie with friends and we flaked out with football, isn’t that how it’s done? We missed getting a picture of Kimmers, but he snapped one of us for posterity since the hope of “next year in Jerusalem” is never guaranteed.

*****

And oh wait… here’s Kim on yet another beautiful day this November… 💙

We hope everyone’s gathering was peaceful, all hearts grateful, all ties intact. That’s a lot.

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November… wow…

Even though I’m about it every day, I can’t slow the seasons enough in my brain to fully appreciate them, and this morning we’re into November. It’s chilly, windy, and gray, with rain showers moving through, so fall is for sure not a figment of my imagination. It was a fun autumn weekend in town, as related to me by Kimmers after his various forays into the crush of humanity, and by my eyes and ears from the balcony. Yesterday was the inaugural run of the Belgian Waffle Ride here in Lawrence, and the streets were packed with bicycles, people, antique cars, booths, vendors, photographers, film crews, food, drink, music, and more. The Ride is a cool thing…

https://belgianwaffleride.bike/pages/kansas

… and since we’re Belgian waffle fans already, Kim made a Razzleberry version for lunch that was THE BOMB.

He also snapped pics of some of the riders, this particular group heading north out of town for the rough-country part of the challenge.

*****

With the days growing shorter and the evenings chillier, and with my powers of concentration again finding a footing, I’m back to books for company. I finished an excellent read over lunch called Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, as honest a self-assessment as I’ve ever seen from another human. A sentence near the end of the book, after the author had experienced lifetimes of pain, stays with me… “NOW I knew that joy was a kind of fearlessness, a letting go of expectations that the world should be anything other than what it was.”

Jamie Lee Curtis has touched me too, with her pragmatic approach to aging which never rules out a healthy sense of adventure. She provides a quote in reference to her own internal governor:

“The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.”John Steinbeck, East of Eden

So in times of self-doubt, when we’re questioning our motives and sanity, trusting ourselves becomes a passport to personal security.

Whatever it was, it happened, it’s over, keep moving. There aren’t that many other options.

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Fall breeze, autumn leaves…

Slowly we turn… step by step… and as of this afternoon we’ve had both COVID shots plus a booster, with a flu shot thrown in for good measure, along with the shingles and pneumonia vaccines that were already onboard. If we suffer any aches we’ll at least know we’ve done our part and it’s over for a while. If only we could say the same about the virus itself.

Step by step…

The tree across the street is showing off big-time… an arresting sight just beyond my window.

And the mums are happy with the way fall’s going so far…

Autumn evokes all the feelings, every year, without end. And the remembrance of feelings… a uniquely human capability… takes us down roads of its own choosing, where we relive what was until we run out of courage for the journey.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the first time my dad came out with a string of words that made no sense. My blood ran cold and my instant thought was “No, don’t do this! Please, I need you to still be my dad.” I’d lost my husband and I was looking after both my dad and my mother-in-law when that one sentence told me we’d gone over the cliff. I had the same reaction the first time a friend’s words told me he was a true believer in the fascist slide the nation and the world are taking. It’s that incredulous rush of “Wait, I thought we knew each other!” and newly shocking every time it happens.

So when you’re trying not to let the screaming-meemies take over, the good stuff gets saddled with overtime duty.

*****

*****

I pay little attention to mirrors now, but when one catches me I see my grandma looking back… a woman who survived much and kept her sense of humor past 95 years old. That fills me with hope.

After a few autumns on this planet, we know fall isn’t the ending it portrays itself as. To everything there is a season, and this one is for rest and renewal, so it’s very welcome here. Enjoy the leaves…

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Hey… it’s Wednesday

Here we are at HumpDay once again, boys and girls, on the downhill run to the weekend.

WHY I LOVE WEEKENDS, by some pore ol’ retired thing

  1. They do not contain medical appointments.
  2. The already Zen pace on my side of the equation slows to an imperceptible crawl.
  3. The weekend menu is outstanding.
  4. The trace of guilt over being lazy goes totally underground for a couple of days.
  5. Sometimes weekends mean seeing actual people… and we know there’ll be more of that ahead.

It’s overcast this morning, with only a slight breeze, and it feels like the world’s at a standstill… everything static… to remain this way forever. But hark, what do I see from my window? People and dogs. Gird your loins, folks, life goes on.

Case in point…

And the trees know when it’s time for change…

Just about when we think we can’t stand the status quo another minute, we look around and our immediate situation has morphed into something else entirely. In light of what looked like an endless slate of dental appointments, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I have only one left… this time around. Friday we see a neuro about my back. Patience… patience… and the world turns.

Maya Angelou’s profoundly simple statement of fact will stay with me…

Image

Seasons of change…

***

Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority
.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils
.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket…
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

**

Jane Kenyon, “Three Songs at the End of Summer” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by The Estate of Jane Kenyon. 

Image

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