An homage…

My mom was one of nine siblings and I grew up surrounded by cousins, with our maternal grandparents at the center of the circus, always. It was one of those families where the Christmas presents fill up half the living room and the dining tables take all the space that’s left. We were raised on humor, hugs, and a knowing instilled by farmers and former military that we were expected to suck it up and survive.

But Grandpa died of lung cancer… and then when Grandma, the Queen Bee, left us at age 95… all the air went out. We went from time-honored massive family reunions to none, literally in a heartbeat. The Clan has dispersed itself around the globe over the years, so there are generations of cousins I’ll never know, even by name. And it’s sobering to realize that most of the cousins I grew up with I’ll never lay eyes on again. They’re there… I’m here… neither of us is going here nor there for all the reasons… so the last time we saw each other… was the last time we’ll ever see each other.

People change. Life changes us if we’re living it at all. We assume we know the humans with whom we share a gene pool, but it’s a delusion of youth and immaturity… the longer we live, the greater the distance between us. And sharing a bloodline doesn’t mean we’ll get along, or even like each other. The current mood of the planet has soaked into every part of society by now, making family dynamics a minefield… therefore, at least half my extended family considers me “better in theory than in practice” at best… and I’m good with that.

Everything ends. The most beautiful things in the world – like a big crazy family with love coming out its pores – don’t remain static, they can’t. So I’m paying homage to a dynasty that was and is no more. It was never what we purposely remember it to be… but close enough for family and fairytales.

WHERE IT STARTED…

WHERE IT WENT… x 3 or 4 by now

Possibly the last big reunion we had. These are all 1st cousins, about half the total at the time.

Fall melancholy… moody rambling… somber thoughts…grieving the losses… celebrating what was. All respect to a big ol’ family that’s tried as hard to be human as any I know. And on we all go…

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Good hearts are safe homes…

I have brazenly committed a crime this morning and I have no shame, because I stole a piece of writing (and life) that’s too exquisite to keep to myself…

Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — from her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an Old Country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate — once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

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A fractured fairytale…

Once upon a time, long long ago, on a farm far away, there lived a little girl. The girl’s early childhood held much of what today’s world calls “going through some things,” silently shaping her psyche and setting her future in motion.

From the outside, we observe that the “wild and free, who cares??” mindset of farm children earned the girl her share of dings and cuts, but it’s in hindsight that we see her defining moment… a water-skiing accident at age seventeen that rearranged the molecules in her body in ways that would make themselves known over the ensuing years. Hotdogging for friends, she skied too far onto the sand and when her skis stopped she flipped out of them, impacting earth with the side of her neck and right shoulder, and flipping again onto her back on the beach. We know it couldn’t have been pretty, but any landing you walk away from is a good one.

The girl blithely greeted life as if she weren’t a ticking time bomb, and her naturally sunny nature saw her through much. She married a good man with PTSD, just home from Viet Nam, and they had a blond, blue-eyed little boy and continued the farming life, with everybody pulling together to make it work. When the girl was 29 years old one of the concealed bombs from the accident exploded in the form of a ruptured aneurysm under her skull, and following cranial surgery she found herself walking away from another one. Thin, bald, but under her own strength, she started to entertain questions about what else fate might bring?

One weighty answer came years later when the farmer perished in a harvest accident. The girl then left the farm and her world spooled out in entirely new directions. Life had been totally rearranged, and after a year and a month alone she met and married a California surfer-dude, natural caregiver, friend for life, and best boyfriend ever… that’s what she said.

Meanwhile, areas of damage continued to make themselves known. A once-nagging back pain was now a constant source of torment, and a couple of small back surgeries aimed at relieving pain changed nothing. Her right shoulder became unbearable, so more than thirty bone spurs were removed and a few tears mended. Countless lumbar injections and epidurals on her left side have had negligible effect.

The little blonde farm girl turns out to have a fatal flaw… she’s something of a klutz. This only became more pronounced after the accident, which put her gyro out of whack, so throughout her lifetime she’s had many interesting falls… one a memorable escapade on ice that shattered her other shoulder, cracked two ribs, and smashed her face into a large potted plant. Now both shoulders get regular steroid injections to deal with Arthur, who makes himself at home everywhere, uninvited.

The little girl from long ago is old or on her way, and now another bill has come due. Our story tells us that the scar tissue from the cranial bleeds and surgery has a life of its own and is generating something called focal seizures… oh joy for the girl. She realizes by the symptoms that these seizures have been building in intensity for five years or longer… and that the accompanying aura is the same as when the aneurysm first ruptured out there in the stillness of the prairie. She says it feels like waiting calmly in the presence of death… and there is no fear in the room. The good news is “there’s an app for that,” and better living through chemistry is panning out so far.

Moving our tale along, the girl who is now an Old got to see her own spine last week in stark relief, which answered all but a couple of questions because there’s nothing like black and white for instilling reality… and now the Girl and the Dude have a few things to talk about.

So, boys and girls… life is long, day by day, but a brief candle when viewed from the other end of the telescope. Early on, we think everything will get right when we’re finally adults, which is one of the saddest, funniest misconceptions of childhood ever. Only gradually and often at a late date do we start to grasp that life is about the moments and each one is steadily making us who we are. Sometimes the way we handle life makes us prickly and insufferable… sometimes life comes at us so hard and fast we struggle to sort things out in time to deal with them the right way. And sometimes we’re just jerks. At least that’s what the little farm girl said…

THE END

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Not my job, man…

Liberating thought of the week: It is not my job to save you from yourself.

Thank you, universe, the answers always come if we can be patient enough.

So here’s the thing: when you’re the firstborn, it’s all on you in ways you don’t get until much later… but it’s a fact that when you’ve been an only child ’til close to five, you decide you know everything and are large and in charge. The role fit my justice-driven little mindset and I owned all the bossy responsibility, except for the hard work – that was Rita’s job. And now in my dotage, I’m still trying to order my personal world the way I like it. Is that misguided or what? Who does that?? The things we absorb in childhood soak into our DNA and take up residence as part of us… so sorting it all out isn’t an assignment for sissies. But if what you really want is for life not to continue along the same deepening rut, you have to change something… the only thing I can change is me, and I’m old, boys and girls, so wish me luck. Except for the obvious negatives, I don’t mind being an Old, I just don’t want to exemplify the stereotype, so I’m patiently sifting through the wreckage for the answers to life. It’s okay, I wasn’t really doing anything anyway…

It’s a beautiful September morning here and Kim’s enjoying it on the PickleBall courts while I perform that trick called waking up, even though I crawled out mere minutes after 7am. Despite, or possibly due to, a lifetime as a farmgirl, I’m this person:

*****

The following thought from Charles Blow has stuck with me all week, because how often do we do this to each other? Let’s be honest, it happens daily. We’re full of our own thoughts, plans, and woes, putting one foot in front of the other, and we miss the fact that somebody felt unappreciated because of our lack of attention to their own essential thoughts, plans, and woes. Full disclosure, I made Rita feel that way last week and did not have a clue that I’d done it. Every one of us is miserably human and centered on where we are, you know why? Because much of the time, WE’RE ALL WE’VE GOT. Man, if not for our inconvenient emotions we’d be… well, animals. So…

*****

What I know is that I will call fire & brimstone down on my head ’til I die, for one simple reason:

*****

Remind yourself today: I HAVE POWERS

Go out there today, September 16, 2021, and use your powers. Do yourself right.

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Tell me…

In the middle of ongoing disquiet, another guest author has appeared on my doorstep this morning, precisely on time. Mary Oliver left us in 2019, but her words are filled with life, and I love her…

It’s the birthday of American poet Mary Oliver (1935), born and raised in Maple Heights, Ohio, a semi-rural suburb of Cleveland. Her father was a social studies teacher and athletic coach in Cleveland public schools. Of her childhood, Oliver said, “It was a very dark and broken house that I came from. And I escaped it, barely. With years of trouble.”

She skipped school and read voraciously to escape her home life, mostly the work of John Keats and Emily Dickinson. She also began taking long walks in the woods by her house and writing poems. She says, “I got saved by poetry. And by the beauty of the world.” She calls her early poems “rotten.”

After Oliver graduated from high school she took a trip to Steepletop, the home of the famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in Austerlitz, New York. She became good friends with Millay’s sister Norma and ended up staying for seven years, helping Norma organize Millay’s papers and writing her own poems. She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College but never earned degrees.

Oliver’s first collection of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems (1963), was published to wide acclaim when she was 28. She writes short, poignant poems, most often about her observations of the natural world, particularly the world of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she spent more than 50 years with her partner, Molly Malone Cook, who was one of the first staff photographers for The Village Voice.

She finds most of her inspiration on her walks and hikes. She takes along a hand-sewn notebook so she can stop and write. Once, she lost her pencil, and now she hides pencils in the trees along the trails so she always has spares. She says, “It has frequently been remarked, about my own writings, that I emphasize the notion of attention. This began simply enough: to see that the way the flicker flies is greatly different from the way the swallow plays in the golden air of summer.”

Oliver’s books consistently hit the best-seller lists. Her collections include Dream Work (1986), Why I Wake Early (2007), Blue Horses (2014), and Felicity (2015). She was outside replacing the shingles on her house when she got the phone call that she’d won the Pulitzer Prize (1984) for American Primitive (1983). Her books about the writing of poetry, A Poetry Handbook (1994) and Rules for the Dance (1998), are routinely used in high school and college creative writing courses.

Mary Oliver died in 2019 of lymphoma.

On writing poetry Mary Oliver said, “One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn’t be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.”

One of her most famous poems, “The Summer Day,” ends with the line, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” When an interviewer asked her what she’d done with her own wild and precious life Oliver answered, “Used a lot of pencils.” -Copied from Facebook, author not known

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A reflection…

Photo Credit Kim Smith 09/05/2021

Today’s guest post, while I celebrate my 74th birthday, is a gift from Suzanne Reynolds…

She Was Told She Was Beautiful

When she was a little girl

they told her she was beautiful

but it had no meaning

in her world of bicycles

and pigtails

and adventures in make-believe.

Later, she hoped she was beautiful

as boys started taking notice

of her friends

and phones rang for

Saturday night dates.

She felt beautiful on her wedding day,

hopeful with her

new life partner by her side

but, later,

when her children called

her beautiful,

she was often exhausted,

her hair messily tied back,

no make up,

wide in the waist

where it used to be narrow;

she just couldn’t take it in.

Over the years, as she tried,

in fits and starts,

to look beautiful,

she found other things

to take priority,

like bills

and meals,

as she and her life partner

worked hard

to make a family,

to make ends meet,

to make children into adults,

to make a life.

Now,

she sat.

Alone.

Her children grown,

her partner flown,

and she couldn’t remember

the last time

she was called beautiful.

But she was.

It was in every line on her face,

in the strength of her arthritic hands,

the ampleness that had

a million hugs imprinted

on its very skin,

and in the jiggly thighs and

thickened ankles

that had run her race for her.

She had lived her life with a loving

and generous heart,

had wrapped her arms

around so many to

to give them comfort and peace.

Her ears had

heard both terrible news

and lovely songs,

and her eyes

had brimmed with,

oh, so many tears,

they were now bright

even as they dimmed.

She had lived and she was.

And because she was,

she was made beautiful.

Suzanne Reynolds ©2019

Photo Credit: Nina Djerff

Model: Marit Rannveig Haslestad

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It’s just Tuesday…

Saturday was a beautiful day so we spent a lot of it on the balcony. Sometime mid-afternoon, Kim said “What’s that fluttery noise I keep hearing?” And then he stood up, looked over the north railing, and muttered “Oh, shit. Oh, holy shit.” My ESPN told me right off we were in trouble but I didn’t know what I’d see down on ground level. Muddy water was gushing out of the ground on both sides of our entryway and from several spots in the parking lot, rapidly coating everything in its path with sand, clay, and silt. When I first looked over the railing I thought the water was pouring out of our lobby doors, and I could imagine it sluicing down the elevator shafts into the parking garage and storage cages, among other thoughts. Kim got our building manager here ASAP and it turns out it was the city’s fire line that broke, which isn’t good but does let us keep our house water on – fortunate, because this will take a while. There was a broken pipe earlier out by the street, so since yesterday we’ve had guys here running fun-size machinery to trench out the whole line, and Pa is entertained. Even with the jackhammering it isn’t all that loud, so we have to wonder how big a sponge the parking lot has become and we hope no one drops a backhoe into a sinkhole.

Down to about half-force at this point.
Kim & Kevin Cheney (bldg mgr) deciding how to handle the mud piling up against the garage’s overhead door.
Waiting for the City to come shut the rest of it down.
The entry’s boarded up like there’s been a bank robbery, and all the concrete has been dug out of the walkway, so progress. There are bad pipes in there somewhere, and something wonky out in the parking, so hey, free entertainment while it lasts

Speaking of “free” and “entertainment,” I stole a bunch of stuff from my friend Steve Gelder this morning because I can use the smiles and he just carelessly leaves it all lying around on Facebook anyway…

*****

*****

Seriously.
It’s all in there, I just need a system for accessing it when I want it!
Who of us cannot say the same thing?

*****

*****

*****

Happy Tuesday! Steve did the work, I did that thing I do (theft), and we can all just smile for a while…

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Yay, it… was Monday…

Which means that the haircut I missed on the 4th, already weeks late at that point, happens TODAY. Right, universe? Today? No shenanigans involving ERs and cardiac units, especially with Kim out of town this morning. Just gonna walk right through the cut and… get this mess cut. Too easy. Except that it wasn’t. And doesn’t life have a sense of humor… or something. The artiste who’s trying to tame this 3rd-trimester-of-life fright wig had a medical emergency of her own yesterday! For real. I assured her I won’t die from too much hair on my head, she’s hopefully recovering well today, and the big-hair experiment over here continues…

The weather was perfect yesterday – not hot, not windy, not too much of anything, just right – and that’s always a gift in the middle of August. The little things are everything, with the state of our existence now permanently in flux. Cooler weather… the bagel on the counter when I woke up… the blessed quiet in the house… it’s an all-day list. The best little gift I’ve given myself in recent months has been shutting the door on TV news. There are entire days when the screen is black until the evening sportsing and frolicking, and it’s… just good. I read the straight skinny most days from bona fide feeds… and breathe. I thought I’d miss being dialed in, go through withdrawal, cheat-watch, be in a crappy mood. What happened was I immediately forgot all about it, not because I’m pre-CRS but because my psyche was primed and ready to shed itself of the daily wear and tear. I’m not shirking any responsibilities as a citizen, I’m still engaged, still aware, just processing information differently. It’s all about managing the spaghetti and the waffles.

DISCLAIMER: Since “happy and at peace” doesn’t mean lobotomized, the following is true…

And by the time I get my hair cut we’ll be twins.

I love you, life, don’t quit me now.

And a little something fun for the kiddos…

mornings are for baking
evenings are for beer
middays are for taking naps
it happens daily here

life is good no matter what
and does go on and on
when you treat it with respect
it carries you along

tradition can be stilting
routine can grind your gears
but a balanced life will roll along
'twixt the baking and the beers

merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along...

JSmith 08/16/2021

*May be sung as a round

********************

Nobody knows what today holds. Anything… literally… can happen. Be fully alive.

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… and that’s when the fight started!

What a night! Things were rockin’ and a’rollin’ and ALL the answers were blowin’ in the wind, my friend. Everything broke loose here around 2am when our balcony furniture started doing the shimmy, with the greenery and blooms taking the worst end of it. Kim headed out to referee but changed his mind when the wind and rain slammed against the partially-opened door. The chaos was multiplied on the roof, with tables and chairs tumped over, sodden cushions blown against the walls, tomatoes and peppers slammed to the floor, trim boards torn loose, destruction in all directions. At some point during the party, neighbor’s big rattan sofa blew over the railing, off their 3rd-floor balcony, and landed in front of the parking garage. It was a spectacular event accompanied by 5.5″ of rain and at least 6′ of wind… and Ms Can’t Hear What Yer Saying missed the whole damn show. This crazy life.

Our summer babies have the sadz.
But whatever this is, we’re siding the building with it next year – it’s impervious to everything.

By the time Kim got me woke up this morning, he’d been over to Mass Street for a haircut and brought back my fav Starbucks extravagance – an Iced Brown Sugar Oatmeal Blonde Espresso, a subtle reminder that he’s glad I’m still breathing. It’s the little things. And now I’m chasing it with Iced Kim Smith Fresh-Ground Beans. This crazy life is okay.

John’s in the Bahamas with friends this week for some much-needed decompression, and I’m entirely more relaxed knowing they’re getting to enjoy that. There’s much to be said for vicarious living, just ask me. Saves a whole lotta wear and tear…

And now, after a week of dental appointments and other intentionally-scheduled pain and suffering, I’m primed for a weekend of being nothing but my lazy self. This crazy life is really good.

We made a spur-of-the-moment lunch choice today and tried the new BBQ place a block south of us – Gold Medal BBQ, owned and operated by, and I quote “Olympic Gold Medalist Kyle Clemons and World Class Wife. Specializing in Memphis style smoked meats.” They’re athletes with ties to KU and the community, and the very personable young Mr. Clemons stopped by our table to chat, so that was fun. His mama was in the kitchen making the cole slaw, making Kim an automatic bona fide fan, as it’s the real deal. We’ll be back, with friends in tow. The food and service were terrific, and this non meat-eater would happily consume entire pounds of the pulled pork on just about any medium you can name. We had it as beignet appetizers, with sugar, darlin’, yes. And then I had the Wild Hog, a generous baked potato with choice of meat (pulled pork, you guessed it), cheese, and sour cream. Okay, yeah, they’ve got me. The dam on the COVID food desert in my brain is showing giant cracks. So happy…

This crazy life is so good on a daily basis that it’s insane to complain, but we all know how people are…

Hello, weekend, doin’ great so far…

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What a beautiful morning…

It was wonderful waking up in my own sheets this morning after spending the previous three nights in a hospital bed. They have their charms, and cool bells and whistles, but they don’t feel like home. The whole thing was an interesting diversion, starting with 8 hours in the ER on Wednesday, causing me to miss a haircut appointment, which in Girl World is something to write home about. Then upstairs to the Cardiac unit, of all places, for much additional needle-poking, a rat’s nest of lines and cables, and round-the-clock observation. Was allowed up only for a bedside commode, oh joy of existence, so by yesterday morning I was feeling wretched, especially with my scalp full of glue from a brain scan. My everlasting thanks to Mona, who rescued me from the lowdown blues with a lovely chair bath, a shampoo cap, clean sheets and gown, and a brisk walk in the hallway in my cute yellow floppy-socks. She’s going into my binder full of heroes. No conclusive answers yet from various batteries of tests, but after a high of 210/203 in the hospital, my BP first thing this morning at home was 113/67, so maybe we’re getting somewhere.

We decided to retire in Lawrence for two primary reasons. 1) The vibe of the arts community and the university, and 2) the stellar medical community from here to Kansas City. The excellent LMH complex is closely associated with KU Med, so we always have access to the brightest and best, including the latest technology, very reassuring when things go wonky. In the many times we’ve needed medical personnel here, we have yet to encounter a negative experience, which speaks volumes. The help we received and the people we met this week have only confirmed to us that this is home, and it’s a health perk to feel like you belong somewhere. It’s been gratifying during this pandemic to live in a place where people have instinctively grasped the need for health protocols and followed them. It makes all the difference.

As usual, I have receipts:

*****

My first test in the ER Wednesday was a CT scan for stroke. The second was a rapid COVID test, showing the priority the virus still holds here in town, especially with Delta assaulting us now. The third was a chest CT to look for pneumonia, yet another marker they’re on high alert for. We could help each other so much, all across the nation, just by keeping that bit of 2-way protection across our mouth and nose when we’re around each other. Kids have no problem with it, it’s an “adult” issue nobody can solve, so on we go, slogging through the viral load around us.

It’s a strange world, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Just for starters, we’re stuck via gravity to a ball of assorted schmeh, spinning through the universe among other large balls of schmeh. Highly unusual existence, except that we don’t know any other, firsthand. Quite probably it’s our very tethered-ness here that makes us bicker amongst ourselves about things like who’s right or wrong and why it matters. We have no Planet B, so there’s no place to take a powder ’til we feel better about life on this one, we’re “in community” whether we wish it that way or not, so it seems a shame we have such a hard time communicating within the human commune. Not all of life is threatening, nor scary beyond reason, and most things we find the grit to talk about lose at least half their power over us. But the talking, the saying of things, turns out to be the terrifying thing we can’t do, so after all’s not said and done our relationships become part of the health schematic we can’t fix.

Therefore… we fix what we can! And we’re fixing to have another healing spa soak on this partly-rainy Sunday morning, and count blessings.

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A Sunday in the time of ‘rona…

As the fog of the past eighteen months continues to dissipate, it’s impossible not to register the hurt of humanity around us. Everyone we know, everyone we see, has absorbed pain and uncertainty since the outbreak of the pandemic, and it shows. In the human race we want somebody else or a whole lot of somebody elses to understand, to just please get it, okay? And when it feels like nobody does, it’s a lonely place, so maybe someone needs to hear this on the first day of August 2021:

Much of the world is still in dire straits, and here’s a fact: It always has been. But the trajectory as we start another new month is onward and upward, which hey, happens to be our state motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera – To The Stars Through Difficulty. Feels better, hm? And in case nobody’s mentioned it since Christmas of 2019: If you’re reading this, you’re worthy of everything the world has to offer, so getcha’ some.

So here’s a simple rule of thumb…

And this, despite its typos, says good things:

*****

This presents as an oxymoron, but it’s possible to take our time while moving forward…

We’re really not here very long…

*****

Best thing to know in the midst of chaos, sadness, happiness, all the time…

Happy Sunday, August 1, 2021, to all of us, with a hug for everyone who still stops by this blog. 💙💋

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Week’s end, month’s end…

Sitting here assessing the week just passed, while Kim’s out at the Ponderosa doing pool maintenance. It’s another blazing day and we’re under an Excessive Heat Warning. Still. Some more. It’s July’s last blast and I’m not naive, this is how that works here, but it’s been fairly breathless out lately so a cooler break and some rain would be just amazing.

It’s been a good week filled with activity, which is way out of my comfort zone but proving doable one day at a time. “Raise The Dead Tour 2021” is on the road, with at least a dozen dental appointments scheduled for the two of us, since we’ve outlived our original dental work. Yay and yikes. We’re both working our way through necessary doctor’s appointments… Medicare wellness checks, pulmonologist, heart specialist, dermatologist, a mammogram, an ortho, and a consult with a spinal surgeon preceded by a myelogram since no MRI for me. Yesterday I got injections in both shoulders, I’ll be having another lumbar stick soon, and I have an actual appointment to get my fright-wig chopped off. If this sort of thing continues, we could both be feeling like actual humans again one of these days. Kim, after a months’-long dance with the devil in which he’s led the entire way, stays the picture of health and works hard to maintain that, so his rejuvenation process is less daunting than mine except for the walking and PickleBall playing and bicycle riding and keeping all the plates spinning all the time.

We came sliding out of the COVID third wave and started putting life back in order just in time for wave #4, brought to us primarily by Missouri next door, in the form of the highly viral Delta variant. We’re ready for boosters in a month when we’ll be six months out from our second shots, and we hope they’ll be available. After contracting COVID in January I’m still slowly shedding symptoms, and the thought of dancing with THAT devil ever again makes me shiver in my sandals.

COMMENT FOUND ONLINE: “Speaking from a nurse’s perspective, we were finally down to JUST having to wear a mask. We are now back to what feels like 10 pounds of garb for 12.5 hrs. There is a reason medical personnel are beginning to take this a little more personally. It’s one thing when being infected is not your fault, it’s another when you have the means to help yourself but won’t.”

So while some of us overachievers are trying to keep the most valuable thing we have and make it better, there are entire groups of people willfully standing in the way of life and health for the whole nation. It defies logic. Understanding. Acceptance. I can’t.

Since we stopped watching TV news a month ago, I’m finding the inside/outside cleanse and shape-up of ME to be less of an uphill trek. Without minute-by-minute, detail-by-sordid-detail input from the talking heads, daily life takes on a more realistic feel, with far more breathing room. And interestingly, some of the myalgic issues have been sort of on hold lately… hmm. I stay on Twitter long enough to check in with friends… same on Facebook most days, thus avoiding much of the angst that social media has to offer, and that’s another part of the wellness puzzle. The joys of anxiety-linked aging are many, by which I mean don’t count on it, so run like the wind. Really… run, walk, bike, skate, anything your body will let you do, while you can do it. Barring that, use all your mental powers to go and do – that’s where the internet shines, it has it ALL for us.

There are endless ways to be happy and caring during our jaunt through life, and most of them deserve an honest second attempt or three. It’ll keep a person busy.

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Joy is still a thing…

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

Wedding Brunch in the Kids’ Church

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

August 2014

*****

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

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Oh, I love a rainy day…

The last thing I remember is Kim saying in my ear, “I’m leaving to play PickleBall. It’s raining, so keep sleeping…”

Two delicious hours later I’m awake to gray skies and pouring rain, the quintessential way to start a Thursday in July. There’s even lightning and thunder, bonus for the girl who misses all the nighttime storms without her ears connected. Time is racing since we unquarantined – we’re already at the end of another week and the middle of yet another month and I can’t point to much of anything as a mile marker, but a still, wet, thunderous Thursday morning, with a faint glow on the forest from the sun that’s up there somewhere… is memorable. And thank you, by the way, universe, for gravity.

It’s 10:45 am and some of the streetlights are still on as the skies keep pouring down. I peeked at the weather map and it looks promising for a nicely socked-in day to start the weekend, which here in #LFK traditionally starts at 5pm on Thursday. Or 5Am, whichever comes first.

Since feeling good makes me feel good, I saved some silliness to share, plus a smidgen of seriousness…

*****

Barns & Stable… Michael Hors

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For Kim, who as a Navy man started in the ship’s galley as a cook and sailed back into port on the bridge as a navigator. It ain’t ALL glory, baby.

*****

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Sunshine and rain…

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

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

*****

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

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Lunch is being discussed at the moment…

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

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

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