Black Friday… page 150

Day 257 – 11/27/2020

Can’t remember why it’s called Black Friday but I’ve never done one and this year would be an incredibly stupid time to start. Kim said Mass Street was quiet this morning so the stores didn’t open early for sales – maybe #lfk isn’t going to the dance this time around.

I’m seeing lots of Twitter comments about crying jags and teary breakdowns on The Day After. I have a feeling we stayed home and did it right, all brave and stiff-upper-lipped, and today the knowledge of everything we’ve lost is proving too heavy. Will there ever be a road back to what we knew and believed to be real?

This day feels ponderous to carry so I’ll have to break it up into livable chunks – sixteen unbroken hours of staying awake for it is unmanageable. Tried not to write about it, but I can’t go all day without breathing. Tried not to talk about it to Kim but he’s the only one here. Looking for a diversion in the bottom of the toy box that will take me outside myself and into the sunlight. Feels like it will be a long winter, with days and days of isolation and uncertainty, so I gotta figure it out, I can’t whine my way through another year of this. And by the time a vaccine gets final approval, a distribution system is in place, and we’ve all received our two shots with a month between, it will most likely take that long. Then we’ll have to keep wearing masks and social distancing until we achieve community transmission reduction. Long haul ahead, Mama, pull up your big-girl undies.

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What day is it?… page 138

Day 242 – 11/12/2020

Got a little spoiled when the weeks were zipping by like proverbial clockwork, then this one hit the brakes and turned it all to slow-mo. But history is being made every single day and that takes time. So yeah, it’s only Thursday when it feels like it should be next Monday.

It’s chilly to cold and winter’s setting in, week by week, and with virus numbers on fire across the country, Lawrence Sports Pavilion won’t be opening again any time soon. That means Kimmers will be cooped up for weeks on end in a place he knows like his own pores, with mostly frosty walks and trips upstairs to the workout room to break up the ennui. Yikes. Good thing he likes reading, research, selective TV, and cold morning walks. He trekked to the Boathouse again early this morning and caught a better shot of one of the rowing crews.

I should be so motivated – the walking not the rowing – but there are roadblocks at every turn…

And booking a class would result in exactly this all too often, minus the cigarette…

Not to get cliché-crazed, but all of life is hour-by-hour from cradle to grave and every day’s question is “What’s next?” We’ve been in suspense waiting to know the answer for this era… and soon enough, what’s next will be what’s right now.

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Veterans’ Day 2020

Kim was rollin’ ’round the river early this morning and brought back the receipts…

Rowing crews, bundled up, down by the Boathouse
Crewing on the mighty Kaw
Old power station, still used but currently undergoing a cleanup and revitalization, in conjunction with work on the riverbed below the dam.
Yup, those are roads they’ve built out into the river.
Liquid sunshine on this Veterans’ Day morning
Can’t hold back the light…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/11/2020

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A Walk in the Woods…

Watching the snow fall, seeing how it gradually covers the flaws and imperfections in the landscape, and thinking: We’re on the cusp of change, either a new embrace of democratic government and individual freedoms, or a sharp swerve into fascism, with no real middle ground available for the foreseeable. This election will come down hard on one side or the other and Americans will deal.

Question: What happens then with what’s been lost? What about all the connections that remain but the relationship part has drained out? What about friends who were friends before we knew we were idealogical foes? Likely most of those ties won’t survive the intense reckoning, in part because there’s no easy way to pick up the thread and go on. Where do we start? What do we talk about? We’ve all shown our colors now and there’ll be no going back to the naiveté of simply not rocking the boat. Life’s too short to be that afraid and disingenuous, and look where it got us.

Will I be big enough, someday when the world feels a little safer and saner, to throw off the slings & arrows, not against me but people I love, toss all the other ugliness onto the funeral pyre with it, light a match, and walk away? Toward more solid relationships, not back into my cave? Right now it feels like no, not right away, maybe not ever if we’re plunged full-bore into an aberrant form of government.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. Will this election be fair and true, or has somebody laid the groundwork for sabotage again? PTSD from 2016 makes me overly cautious about even expressing hope. So far, I’ve managed to write myself through it, but that will no longer be a panacea if everything goes badly wrong.

This is all borrowed trouble from my active imagination, but it’s also a way to prepare myself for any eventuality. Considering the *what ifs* in any situation makes for a better Girl Scout.

I’ve watched a number of people walk out of my life over the past sixteen years… I’ve booted a few to the curb myself… I’ve put some on hold in 2020 until all this is over. Each time, it’s a stark reminder of how sharply divided we are in America, and it doesn’t happen without stirring up a deep sadness. Things will never be so incredibly ideal that we don’t need each other, and those relationships happened for reasons.

Since not everything is meant to last forever, I’ll be focusing on what does – it’s the rational thing to do. I’m hoping for a groundswell of healing energy from people who know that a hard heart will kill you and closed minds lead to blind alleys and dead ends. We can live without a lot of things, but hope isn’t one of them.

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First snowfall… page 130

Day 225 – 10/26/2020

We woke up to a white coating on everything but streets and sidewalks, with light snow still falling… we’ve since watched big flakes come down in earnest a couple of times… and radar shows more on the way. Nothing’s been cold enough long enough for it to stick on, but it’s pretty for now and I love a snow-day. It’ll be even quieter all up in here than usual.

Seeing the vari-colored trees decorated with snow calls for this…

I hope I’ll remember.

Only 8 days/years now…

Me hanging on, hoping for a good landing.

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Going, going, gone… page 129

Day 224 – 10/25/2020

Wow, mood all over the place this morning, my Diary muse. October is almost over and we’re down to single digits – 9 days until what we’re still calling Election Day even though at least 56 million people have already voted as of three days ago and the lines stay long most everywhere. Including today we have over 200 hours to fill before the polls close on the 3rd. I’ll probably start with moving to my other chair and watching whatever sports happen to be on. And more coffee.

The cook went for a walk early and then still wasn’t hungry by 10am so he tried to talk me into hot cereal. On a Sunday morning. No and no, he wasn’t passin’ that cheese by me unless it was in an omelet. I’m spoiled – why get over myself now? I neeeeed that ranch omelet or Sunday isn’t Sunday, and I mean, what else ya’ got? Forecast says hard freeze tonight and possible snow tomorrow, wha… ? Tues thru Thurs isn’t looking too inviting either, but the weekend bodes well if Mother Kansas doesn’t get all moody on us. I totally feel her and she’s entitled. Long hours to wait for the answer to the question: Is there any price under the sun that’s too high a cost for the pleasure of owning the libs?

Came across this pic from gentler, more tranquil, days… maybe five years ago, all things considered. When our world comes ’round right, these sweet times can return and we’ll gather in the courtyard at Cielito with friends again, laugh, enjoy great food, and toss back tequila shots. When I see Americans in long voting lines in every town and city every single day I begin to think that the world we knew is still out there… only better, once the chaos ends. It has to end.

Let’s get back here…
Also this, I think…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Frozen… page 128

Day 223 – 10/24/2020

Morning, Diary… it’s 6am and apparently time to be awake. Kim was up, I rolled over and saw the glow of the kitchen lights, and that was it. I’m looking out at the hushed cold darkness and wondering if our preservation efforts on behalf of the mums did any good. Oh well, ya’ try.

Can’t imagine why my brain wants MORE hours in the day for overthinking now, while we’re all still limping toward Jerusalem. But I do know why writing saves me…

I can sit here and get it all down, and then put a lot of it out for public consumption, but only by those who choose to wade through it. I’m not at all sure how well I would have done with the long isolation if I couldn’t vent to myself in some cohesive way, and the resulting feedback helps a lot.

Today’s forecast is Not Horrible… and there’s breakfast. Two outta three so far, I’m in.

Also, here’s where this whole mankind experiment went off the rails…

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Marking time… page 127

Day 222 – 10/23/2020

Dark rainy morning. Kim had stuff to do first thing, so I’m sitting in the quiet with my coffee, watching headlights bounce off shiny surfaces below me. No warm-up for a few days now, and Monday’s forecast says 31º and snow showers, with a low of 20º. Whoa, baby…

It was fun to get out yesterday in t-shirts and shorts and roam around in the 85º temps. We saw pretty leaves, ate lunch in the car with the windows down, watched an enormous muskrat nibble on greens next to a creek, drove around KC metro just because we could, found what we wanted, and happily crawled back into the cave four hours later. Not old, just tired…

Watched last night’s debate, so that’s done now. Counting down the interminable hours until we know and trying to keep my head busy. It’s chilly, wet, and windy, so this will be an indoor day, which means working twice as hard at holding steady. We have a freeze warning for tonight, so we might try to huddle the mums together and cover them. They’re so perfect we hate to give them up, especially when there are some warmer temps to follow.

Welp, Diary… I’m gonna be boring and tedious for eleven more days and then let’s both hope for a sea change all ’round. Then the next sea change will be when we know we can walk into any restaurant or other business in town, attend any event, gather with friends, without the restrictions imposed by a pandemic. That one will be a pretty big deal, too.

Wow, look at the time… 10am… this day is positively streaking by!

And you thought you’d be getting something new…

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Falling… page 125

Day 220 – 10/21/2020

… the rain, the temps… here’s where it gets real, Diary, as the weather closes in and the balcony becomes off-limits – how sloooow can she gooooo? Chill and damp out there this morning, with showers in the forecast. BUT… tomorrow’s supposed to be in the 80s, so I barely have time to whine about this, I just know what comes after tomorrow and beyond…

A few stalwarts are on the courts again this morning, but Kimmers opted to stay in where it’s cozier, playing guitar, which doesn’t make me sad. I’m running comfort-food menus through my head and just got to the M’s. I think we have Velveeta Mac, which is always a guilty pleasure on a cold day. Since we usually think of the same food ideas, we’ll see how that pans out…

We did pick Mac & Cheese for lunch, which I’m pretty sure we just had last week but desperate times call for desperate measures. Kim put Italian sausage crumbles in his today, but I’m always reluctant to harsh the cheesy mellow with anything – it’s therapy. We got a brief hard rain when he would have been playing PickleBall, so he called that, too. It’s gray and drizzly, one of those days where I wander from one distraction to another like a dog who doesn’t know where to lie down. Most of it happens in my head, but still…

I’m tuning in to TV news coverage a little more as we get down to the wire – it’s hard to resist keeping tabs on shenanigans and polls. That practice failed us utterly last time, however, so I’m trying to stick with the highlights and take every last thing with a grain of salt. We’re mostly spazzing out over The Voice… they’re doing such a stellar job of production this season we forget there isn’t a live studio audience. Also The Amazing Race, which is new to Kim and an old friend to me from their earliest seasons, before I spaced it off. And maybe a debate tomorrow night, American entertainment at its nadir. We’ll watch… we ain’t scared.

Adding this so I’ll know in the future where things were right now, two weeks out:

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Adapting… page 124

Day 221 – 10/20/2020

Those PickleBallers… “Oh, you kids!” They updated the outdoor rules to read:

Play starts at 10am

Temp at least 45º

Wind low enough to keep the ball in play

Janice, who’s helping keep things organized and happening while she awaits knee surgery, is asking Parks & Rec to hang tarps on the north fence to block the chill breezes… nothing on that yet, but this is a dedicated bunch and they’ll figure it out. Kim’s over there now and I’m guessing a spa soak will be in order when he gets home – it’s still just 45º.

Yikes, sitting here typing and a migraine hits – rare occurrence now. Guess I’ll hit back with some more caffeine and hope it stops at *aura* level. They happen when I’ve been super-stressed, whether I’m aware of it or not, then suddenly the pressure’s off and BANG, migraine. I’d hate to think I’m getting just a little too happy… relaxed… optimistic… but I’m pretty sure the next two weeks will keep all those little blood vessels up there busy. Hoo-boy…

Kind of all over the place with the daily Thought Parade. My optimism is at a slightly lower ebb than yesterday, but not so’s my peace of mind would really notice. The eternity of *Almost There* will pass, but it will require a lifetime’s worth of grit to get there and this “one minute at a time” stuff is cruel and unusual punishment.

Okay. Today. It’s the only chunk of time I need to think about right now. The KIMN8R is home after a couple hours of play in the bracing fall air, he’s making red beans & rice with corn muffins for lunch, and the afternoon does indeed call for a warming soak. Even if life weren’t that great it would be magnificent.

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That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)… page 123

Day 220 – 10/19/2020

Yup, rollin’ on into another week. We finally started the fireplace last night – it’s been chilly for enough days that the building is absorbing some of the cold and the fire was soothing. Same this morning – high temp today of 46º, overcast and gray. But then… Mother Kansas takes over again and it’s the ol’ rollercoaster ride:

Over the past couple of weeks I’m sensing a sea change in the country… or I hope that’s what it is. I’m starting to allow a cautious optimism to permeate my thoughts and to maybe, possibly believe that truth and right will win out. It’s hard to get there, though, because for as long as I live – and I’m counting on another 30 years or so – the night of November 8, 2016 will never leave my consciousness. We knew that night what the nation was in for and all of it has come true, so never again will I blindly trust that things will work out for the best no matter what.

But… I’m starting to have hope with something under it and I do know what time it is.

Monday’s MickeyD day and my belly’s starting to tell me about it. So with Taco Tuesday and the big weekend breakfasts, that leaves just three lunches a week to get creative with and the routine, for two non-traditionalists, is comforting and fun. Also we’re lazy, yeah.

Something happy yesterday as I was bopping through my photo cache – a pic of John, taken I know not where nor when, but I love it. That smile turned my okay day stellar.

John says: Taken April 26, 2013, inside a Lockheed Super Constellation on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I’m thinking this might be the weirdest of Halloweirds we’ve experienced, so I’m bracing for the worst while opening a large porthole to the best. Mere days to wait, we hope, as we test our capacity for suspense, stress, and terror. Suck it up, fellow believers, we’re going to make it.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Hope on a Sunday… page 122

Day 219 – 10/18/2020

The intrepid PickleBallers are in dire need of a safe place to play indoors, but SPL is open for limited fitness activities only. Our typical short fall is morphing into early winter for now and outdoor play is becoming no bueno. So Kim borrowed my headphones and went for a long walk while I was sleeping this morning, and now he’s playing electric guitar, I’m noodling as usual, and we’re both waiting for hunger to strike and then it’s omelet time. Our high temp today is expected to be 49º so the spa soak will be from HEA-vun!

Less rain this year so the leaves are not quite as vivid and they’re dropping fast. Fall is such a metaphor for what’s happening in the world, and a present reminder that hope carries us until spring… every time. Thinking of all that’s changed in eight months, that’s one thing that remains – hope – and I’m trying to wear it on my face these days. I started realizing a couple of years ago that I have little need for mirrors now – my hair’s a no-effort deal, I bother with zero makeup except on rare occasions, I’m well-acquainted with my face after all this time, so mirrors are slightly superfluous and I forget to look, which naturally follows when one is neither jarring nor arresting to look at.

But the thought that follows from that is this: how much have my countenance and underlying substance been altered by the hours, days, weeks, and months here in my ivory tower? When we finally see our “boys” again, will I catch an “Omigod, Mom!” glint in their eyes before they check themselves? Have I gradually and imperceptibly melted and re-compacted into a zombie-like being who absorbs the hits, one by one, and keeps slogging forward? Or is that just how it feels from inside my head?

Rita stopped by yesterday for some fun catching up – she looks amazing despite her stress and exhaustion, and she’s getting on the downhill slope of things. Spring holds out hope for ALL of us! Odd to be thinking in those terms, maybe, since summer barely ended, but in the words of a favorite author:

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Live right in it… the hope. While the wind blows, the rain spatters, the snow falls and whips around us… live right in the hope. By spring we’ll know what sort of nation we are and what we personally will do with that. By spring maybe we’ll start getting a handle on the current pandemic before the next one hits. Maybe spring will bring some room for healing… repairing and rebuilding some of the vital relationships… putting things back together in this society we’ve made. I hope so.

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Stay in line, America… page 119

Day 216 – 10/14/2020

First day of advance voting here. We ordered mail-in ballots but decided we needed the rush of being there… and that was a great call. It’s a perfect fall morning, little breezy, little cool, sunshine everywhere along with the leaves. The line, distanced and masked, was out the door only about 50 feet when we got there, and the whole thing was a smooth operation – eight voting cubbies on two floors, everything sanitized and in order – and the woman who facilitated our voting process in light of the fact that we have mail-in ballots out there somewhere was amazing – she knows her stuff, and we have no qualms that our votes won’t be counted. When the paper ballots arrive we’ll shred them, and that will be that. And anyone silly enough to think you could get away with voting twice has never met the force of nature that is the County poll worker.

Neither of us has ever been so energized to cast our vote and we’ve been voting since Nixon. And now we wait. We were near this level of urgency in 2016, and we were marinated in the belief/hope that it wouldn’t go south. But it did… so the next three weeks… and hopefully not beyond, please, universe… will be a wonky bundle of angst tied with barbed wire.

Me until we see the white smoke.

We’re so incredibly privileged – we drove three blocks straight south, parked in the courthouse lot, stood in line, signed the required paperwork to keep tabs on our vote, took our time marking our ballots, returned to the car… and by the time we walked back through our door we’d been gone exactly 30 minutes… on a morning so beautiful it could make a grown man cry, on a day when we’re upright and breathing, with eyes and ears to take it all in. Everything about this morning has felt right… make it so, world.

Beautiful inside too, and a memorable place to fulfill a sacred duty, right, and privilege.

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The weeks… page 112

Day 207 – 10/05/2020

And lo, we are delivered once again unto mOnday. Hello bright world, hello color, hello resolve… let’s go.

It’s chilly this morning, but the PickleBallers don’t much care as long as the sun’s shining. Kim would have crawled out of his skin by now if they hadn’t been able to keep playing outdoors when SPL closed things down, so that needs to go on for as long as possible… ’til frostbite becomes an issue.

This morning we have the case of Schrödinger’s president… he is either ill or not ill, highly-contagious or benign, in hospital or out… and American life limps on. Less than 30 days from an election nobody trusts, we have little real knowledge as to how it might all play out, which is crazy-making. Should we be finalizing our passport applications and choosing the things we’ll take with us… or getting prepared to roll up our sleeves and put the country back together? The truly crazy-making factor is that we may not have a definitive answer for months, not days. But hey, why borrow trouble on a mOnday when I could be making GOOD trouble somewhere??

Every time I’m out here scribbling, leaving my Diary open to the immediate world (and how do they know there isn’t another, grittier one somewhere) I spare a thought for the wanderer who happens upon my blog space. Poor soul doesn’t know me from a ton o’ coal so he or she just has to jump in and run with it (or flee). I inherited a wonky sense of humor from Daddy, added to it in various ways during my Latta years, polished it on John’s delicious sarcasm, and I’ve honed it now for sixteen years keeping up with the KIMN8R. Short story… it isn’t for everyone.

And all at once, sunshine pouring in through the windows, hot coffee right here, memory flooding the room, I LOVE THE WORLD. It’s the best place I remember being so far, and it feels worth keeping intact.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Beautiful weekend… page 111

Day 206 – 10/04/2020

Sunday Morning Sunshine… Harry Chapin. I hadn’t thought of either one in years, but here it is back, pouring through the window blinds, and into my ears. Too chilly for outdoor PickleBall this morning, but Kim caught some sun on the balcony a while ago and now he’s heading up to the workout room… and he’ll be riding his bicycle to a car show on the south edge of town this afternoon, masked and socially-distanced in the great outdoors. Thankfully he’ll never shed his Southern California DNA; whereas, my mornings mostly look like this and don’t measurably improve by the hour:

I’m trying not to slide off into feelings this weekend. We’ve kept a temporary lid on TV news and avoided the rest wherever possible… mostly. It does help. The Chiefs/Patriots game has been postponed, apparently due to COVID issues, so there goes the best long-play distraction on the schedule for today, dammit-cwap. So selfish of those guys not to risk their lives for my sanity.

There’s too much beauty around us to worry about it – Kim’s mums on the roof are loving fall and so are we. And today’s Matt’s birthday, so I’m celebrating with him in my heart and via cyberspace, and remembering Danny. ❤️

Photo & Digit-al Selfie: Kim Smith 10/04/2020

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