Totally random…

Happy 100th, Betty, and thank you.

Remember broomstick skirts? I do, and I was doing fairly okay with the aging process until my throat started looking like one… so now, like Nora Ephron, I feel bad about my neck. Filters (did you know they have cotton-candy hair?) may or may not have been employed in the making of this image, but if any were, they were clearly defenseless against the throat rebellion. Just a reminder of how real life can be…

Waiting for spring with a whole new intensity this year, which is misguided since we’re barely into winter for real. The thought of walking outdoors, on real surfaces, in fresh air and sunshine, is genuinely tantalizing at this point… but since it’s currently 12º out, headed for a blazing high of 19, I plan to make the acquaintance of the treadmill in the 5th-floor workout room in about 5… 4… 3… Time to grease the zircs, oil the hinges, and get this show on the road. Rita Jo’s out there every nice day, finding the cool walking trails, and I’m consumed with envy, so I have to get there… starting with a benign stroll on the flat sidewalk along the Kaw. FIRST NICE DAY!!

Still maintaining my extended fast from TV news, but I’m fully aware that the insanity continues unabated. It’s cause for both tears and laughter, so I look hard for the humor and kindred spirits.

*****

When it’s over, it’s over, but I keep a good thought.

On the subject of current events…

The weekend starts tomorrow, or if you live in #lfk, tonight. Absorb all the good from it…

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What they wanted…

Artist Credit: Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour
"We wanted to help people
We were smart and driven
We loved science and physiology, humans and disease
So we made a commitment
We signed up
It was an honor

We read thousands of pages
Attended hundreds of lectures
Pulled all-nighters
Took more exams than we thought possible
Finals week felt insurmountable
But it didn’t break us
It made us stronger

We learned statistics and biochemistry
Immunology and pathophysiology
We mastered genetics, virology and pharmacology
We read scientific papers and learned how to dissect them
Papers, not videos
It was an honor

We came running when you needed us
Literally, running down the hallway
To the ICU, the trauma bay, labor and delivery
I need help, you said
We can help, we said
It was an honor

There were moments that we thought would break us
Moments that drove us to journaling, to therapy, to nightmares
Broken babies.
Paralyzed children.
Dead pregnant mothers with three kids at home.
The wail of a mother whose son just died.
We bent but we did not break
We returned because you needed us
And we could help
It was an honor

Then there was fear
Fear of walking into our place of work
Fear that we’d be killed by going to work
Fear that we’d kill a loved one because of our work
There were tears and sleepless nights and anti-anxiety medications
But you banged your pots and pans
You sent us pizzas and called us heroes
You needed us
We could help
So we wore our masks, and our gowns, and our gloves, and our goggles
We decontaminated ourselves before going home and isolated ourselves from our families
We almost broke
It was an honor

How quickly the joy turned to defeat
Elation to rage
You’ve learned to do your own research now
You know better than we do
Gaslighting is your language
Your selfishness is astounding
You don’t want our help when we ask you to stay healthy
Yet you arrive at our doors begging for help at the end

You stole our resources
You hobbled our ability to help those who did what they were supposed to do
You killed our patients by filling our beds and using up our ventilators
We can’t help any more
You broke us
There is no more honor”

- Anonymous

A poem written by a physician after reflecting on the veteran who died in Texas because of the ICU bed shortage. 
Artist credit:
Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour

*****NOT A DISCLAIMER: I read yesterday that people are simply done with COVID and all its iterations, finished, through, sick of hearing about it, and I know in my bones that's a fact. But it doesn't change the equal and opposite fact that COVID doesn't care, it just wants to eat, sleep, live, and reproduce, and will for as long as we allow it. Our refusal to deal with facts is bringing our amazing, incredible, unmatched, behemoth of a healthcare apparatus down on our heads and the implosion will be... simply beyond. We've been warned... and warned... and warned... and we do not care. Sars-cov-2 is now part of the warp and woof of human existence, and the cost will be incalculable. "The fall thereof was great... "

There's nothing you nor I can do about any of it now, unless you're unvaccinated. You have the power to do that much and it isn't too late yet. The variants are becoming increasingly uglier, but the vaccinated are staying out of hospitals when they do fall ill. However tired you are of knowing about it, the death toll goes on relentlessly. And the people who once had the tools, energy, and incentive to help are finding other ways to stay alive. May whatsoever gods there be have mercy on us.

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Anger vs Gratitude…

Woke up yesterday morning processing anger, straight out of a dream… Kim said the growls and grumbling at 6am, which he first mistook for snoring, were truly impressive. I repeatedly ran everything through the wood chipper all day but the fury remains untamed as of wake-up time this morning.

Also, write this down: I DO NOT SNORE. However, my dreams are a wonder to behold for scope and realism. Yikes.

The catalyst for the renewed angst seems to have been a combo of things… fresh statistics illustrating our dismal outlook in the face of COVID and its progeny… the fact that we find ourselves in this position due to humans’ inability to care about other humans… and a heartbreaking article about the burden we’ve placed on the medical world and the toll that’s taking.

The pandemic is as much an industrial-strength shock to the medical community as to the rest of us out here who of course know it all. Those medical people spent long years full of sleepless nights on little food, learning how to save lives, maybe even yours or mine someday. That’s their drive, to make people better and thus the world a teensy bit softer for the landings. And they’re good at it, really good, and they know things, and have seen and done things which you and I do not want to know, see, or do… nor will we, because we don’t have what it takes.

Medical personnel do the jobs they’ve been trained and educated to do on an equal-opportunity basis… pigment, religion, politics, and rude combative patients notwithstanding, they do their jobs. And then one day a snazzy new virus knocks on the door like the skeavy Orkin termite, and the game changes overnight. The breakout quickly becomes the pandemic the world has now been living in for two years, all medical personnel, equipment, and hospital units required for the flood of sick and dying. It’s no longer about “making things better,” there’s no time. You keep the patient on your right alive, if possible, while losing the one on your left. The hours blur while you pull double shifts on your feet, clothed in trash bags and week-old masks because the supply closets are bare, praying you don’t catch whatever this thing is and end up dropping in your tracks. And then you watch that very thing happen to a colleague… and then another. And in a heartbeat, working in the medical field has become more about death than life.

Months have passed, you’re still pulling all your shifts and more, and now the monster has a name… Coronavirus. Or COVID-19. Or just COVID. There are even approved vaccines available… but not for you… because medical people, some of the first and longest-exposed, are not at the top of anybody’s priority list, which should have been an early indicator of where it would all end up. We only hurt the ones we love… or need like air and water.

Now you’re lonnnng months into the process, which feels less like a battle and more like an endurance race. You’ve gone from hero… “Doctor, please, help me!” “Nurse, I need you, please!” … to zero. “No, I DO NOT HAVE COVID, YOU’RE LYING!!” “It’s a HOAX! I can’t die!!” Nurses and doctors have been assaulted, insulted, spit on, screamed at, and blamed for letting people die of a scary disease those same people refused to vaccinate for. In the hopeless melee, the lofty goal of making things better dies a quiet death, and people we desperately need for our own selfish purposes are simply not there anymore. Their own institutions, in many cases, haven’t backed them up, haven’t provided the safety measures needed, haven’t compensated them for their heroic over & above sacrifices. The public, in too many places, has turned on them in ways we could never have imagined. These nurses and doctors see their lives trickling out, day by day, for a goal that no longer feels reachable… and for a populace that wouldn’t know the difference if the landings were made softer… and they’re finding other, less soul-killing things to do.

In parts of our nation where COVID and its variants are rampant, the bright shiny people who wanted to make a difference are walking away. Why risk death for people who don’t in the least mind if you drop in your tracks because they refused the antidote? Or because your employer doesn’t want to pay extra staff. Or “extra staff” is now a figment of the imagination. We won’t comprehend what we’ve lost until they’ve all taken their gifts elsewhere.

The pandemic is nowhere close to being over. Two thousand people a day are still dying in the “greatest nation on earth.” It hasn’t magically disappeared, it hasn’t been prayed away, it’s with us for the duration, however long Mother Earth lets us stay in the nest. As so often happens now, the minority chose for all of us, and life here will never be the same. I’m exorcising my rage today by paying homage to every person in the medical community who has tried, against insurmountable odds, to change the outcome, to save all lives possible, to make a difference. Thank you for BEING THERE and for using who you are to slow our slide to hell. Really, truly… thank you forever.

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Journaling toward peace…

Last week while triumphantly purging my Drafts folder, I found this piece from 2016 sitting in there untitled, and I remember receiving an okay to print it but for some reason never did. It was written by someone I know, after TFG won the White House in 2016, and reads like a road map to where we find ourselves today, so now is its time to see daylight.

A compelling viewpoint, shared by permission…

11/09/2016 – Physically ill this morning. America got the president it deserves. May the “greatest generation” and their ignorant, bigoted offspring live long enough to see the suffering that their choice creates. I’m fearful for B’s safety, and my own.

11/10/2016 – My spare thoughts are given to the idea of leaving, and if and/or when that might become a necessity. Not the best sleep I’ve ever had.

11/12/2016 – As I’ve had time to process, I’m feeling more resolved to see what comes and to approach it with optimism. Leaving would only help place the country even more in the grips of the ignorant deplorables who believe that God and their newly-elected president will save them from all they hate. And we’ll see. Perhaps he’ll ruffle feathers on both sides of the aisle and actually stir positive change. Or, he may fall under the spell of the conservative puppet masters and do real damage. But my fear of the latter doesn’t promote health in my own body/psyche, so I’m letting it go – as best I can. I’m working out, I’m eating well and being the best I can be, so that my life is enjoyable for me and a refutation to all those who believe that their god should, and will, smite me. I felt physically ill for the first couple of days, and was filled with bitter anxiety, and I’m letting that go. Living well, and happily fulfilled, is the best revenge.

As for safety, my conversations with B and various coworkers have been revealing. It’s only us, those of us who consider ourselves “enlightened whites” who are truly upset. One year into Obama’s first term, the black populace at large gave up on their (misguided) dream that their black savior had arrived to put right all that had been done, for generations, to demean and belittle them. And those who were never misguided, such as B and most of my coworkers, and who realized that one man – even if granted 8 years – could never overcome that much baggage, are resolved, as they have been their entire lives, to wake up and move through another day under the leadership of whoever is sitting in that seat. As they rightly point out, they were being gunned down in their own homes and during routine (profiled) traffic stops as much, if not more, than ever under Obama, so what’s the difference really? Their schools were being defunded and consolidated into even more wasteful and poorly run “charter schools of excellence.” When your skin color or race has been a key to oppression your whole life, and you learn from infancy not to trust leadership, then leadership does not matter.

B was sad for me that I was so hurt by it, but he was not in the least surprised by the outcome or any more worried about his future or safety – he lives with that fear every day anyway, something I had not fully understood. So, we’ll stay put unless things get crazy and we are physically threatened on a regular basis.  And in the meantime I’ll try not to be mean-spiritedly joyous when the deplorables suffer. The day after the election, General Motors announced that they were laying off 2000 workers in Ohio and Michigan, two states that voted for Trump because he’s going to get their jobs back. Imagining their confused, devastated faces brought me more glee than I care to acknowledge. But that’s as unhealthy as my own anxious depression. Those are lives and children and aging parents and stories too. I won’t become the fount of hatred that I detest in my “enemies.” Here’s to improvements where we can find them and strength to stand up and speak when those around us are being abused.

11/21/2016 – We’ve all had a lot of processing to do, and each of us does it in our own way.

Initially I read every bit of news, no matter how painful, in the vain hope that I might read something that would reverse the actual truth. But instead, I got an unbalanced helping of articles that said “it won’t really be as bad as we think it will be, it can’t be because…” and the alternative, which was always along the lines of “here’s how easily Trump will erase Obama’s legacy and gut: (your choice) the arts, gay rights, healthcare, etc.”

So then I stopped reading the news entirely, escaping into retail therapy and fluff pieces on psychology and history.

Now I’m back somewhere in the middle, taking my truth with the lumps so that my eyes are open, but not getting too bogged down in it.

Otherwise it is much the same here. Work, household chores – and now that it’s getting cooler, cozying up in the evening and staying to ourselves.

11/22/2016 – And now we wait, as the President-Elect prepares to appoint White Supremacists to key government positions and mixes his own business dealings with the machinations of world government. We wait. And in the meantime we LIVE.

We don’t have the luxury of allowing rampant ignorance to thrive.

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The view from here…

Overcast Sunday morning, but headed for the 60s this afternoon and Kim’s jonesing for a bike ride or some PickleBall… we’ll see what’s in the cards. But first a nice soak for the ancient bones.

The annual Fall Purge juju has hit and I’m primed to pare things down some more. Looks okay on the surface, but my brain remembers what’s stacked beneath. Cyber files, mostly, including thousands of photos, but there are still various bins and containers lurking, some of whose contents feel threatening to the touch during rough times. The psyche and I will get to all of it… sometime, at the right time. [Thx, my friend, for that convo this morning.]

And just when I was thinking it was safe to go back in the online waters, my Emotional Support Canadian resigned this morning via Twitter, pleading exhaustion. Says we’re on our own here. Didn’t even sound that regretful. Go home, America, you’re drunk – you’ve managed to lose goodwill from people who actually wanted to like us.

Soooo, what have I found for the disenchanted Sunday morning subculture that is us?

DISCLAIMER: I don’t identify as atheist, because who am I to say? And I don’t identify as Christian because I put in the time with them that allows me to have a say. In my 74+ years, life has taught me, humbled me, broken and remade me, caused me to call on all remaining brain cells, and given me incentive to stay the course. In terms of the universe, I know nothing except what it tells me, and this I know… whatever/whomever made/caused/set in motion the cosmos in which we find ourselves… we are it and it is us. Every molecule that ever existed is from a single source, which indicates a creator, either intentional or not. So… was whatever started this whole thing benign? Benevolent? Neither? Had a plan? Never gave a shit in the first place, just birthed a gigantic cosmos and wandered off? Did he/she/it do the whole thing as an experiment… or a taunt at an enemy… or did it hit a lever and OOPS?? Does it hate our guts, wish he/she/it could be rid of us? I mean, something keeps trying, but we keep insisting on masks and vaccinations and such…

This much I’ve learned…

  1. WE are the boogeyman.
  2. Nobody’s coming to save us.
  3. There is no Planet B.
  4. Kindness and cruelty are equally powerful – we choose.
  5. Earth would be healthier without us, but we persist. The least we could do is stop shitting in our own nest.

Not proselytizing for Abject Unbelief here, just a fan of clear-thinking approaches to all of life, so a little thought-food for the unfaithful…

DISCLAIMER #2: The above is neither a christian-bash nor a boast of any kind, it’s an invitation to all of us to be brave about truth. If it offends you and/or makes you want to shoot me dead, ask yourself why that is. Only you can say.

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There’s nothing more freeing than truth…

The past week held a little of everything, which I’m still processing. Forward progress happened… news of the world disappointed and sickened us again… the daily goodness we depend on was all there… and we learned more things about the people in our lives.

I’m still abstaining from TV news and benefitting from that new habit. Reading the headlines for myself is a different animal from hearing them pounded to a pulp by the various talking heads, and it worms its way into my psyche far less. It’s all still happening, still every bit as appalling and life-altering… but when I walk away from the written word, my brain knows there’s far more hope in the world than we’re being led to believe.

The past couple of weeks have been a watershed… a time for facing truth. The bent of the nation and the world is a totally real thing… corporate fascism is bursting with energy and drive in the civilized world, and the peculiar ethic, the tenets, the morés that fuel it have by now filtered down to the man on the street. A 3-minute conversation is all it takes to turn a buzz-word into a breakup. Who we are is out in the open, and it isn’t who everybody THOUGHT we all were.

A long-lost relative drew me into a political discussion recently, which stayed civil until I asked him how he could align himself with one of the most heinous human beings on the planet. His answer, “You make it about him, an undignified coarse-talking buffoon of a personality. I voted for principles. I learned a long time ago to live day to day on PRINCIPLES ….NOT…. Personalities. So….Judy, if we can’t compromise in our relationship, then we have to do the next best thing. Cut ourselves loose from one another.” For the second time in 20 years, you mean, after a 3-minute conversation. I have yet to find a 2021 Republican who will talk with me… just talk, and listen, and talk some more, with thoughtful silences and an indicated willingness to consider any and all facts. Apparently it’s a guiding PRINCIPLE not to do that.

The same relative told me, “I loved Robert and Judy Latta. This Judy Smith person I can’t deal with.” THE FACTS: Robert Latta died a violent death and didn’t come back, and Judy Latta, in many necessary ways, went with him. Judy Smith is who I am. You never knew me.

The division we knew was there, that we can feel building month by month, is too real for words. Until now we’ve been able to cover parts of it up and pretend it’s really nothing and it’ll smooth over. But people are finally saying outright “I don’t like you, please go away,” so I think it’s here to deal with for the foreseeable.

People don’t appear to want to talk, discuss, consider, think, instead preferring the lines to be drawn in indelible ink and never trespassed against. If the U.S. falls apart, it will be due in large part to the fact that most of the population can’t understand, and is not interested in, the differences between fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and democracy. The words themselves become the meaning and the power, and the human capacity for discernment and comprehension takes a hike – it’s all too threatening and complex to deal with.

The fact that truth is hard to come by in this era makes it a supreme challenge to keep the meaning in our relationships. What, we’re now asking ourselves, are those connections really all about? What makes them different from anything else out there? Why do we cling to myths and fairytales? Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one…

Despite my relative’s disavowal of The Former Guy, he’s still the de facto head of the GOP, still shaping its posture, still tainting whatever its values were. And as my chosen life coach John Pavlovitz wrote in September of this year…

“In this iteration of our nation, the elemental decency that should define human beings is no longer a universal requirement. The base-level expectations of those we live in community alongside simply do not exist anymore. There is no standard anymore.

For so many people here, it is no longer just about a sharing a difference of opinion on an issue or about voicing opposing political ideologies or even about the expression of personal or religious freedom—it is about inflicting as much pain as I can to people who I know nothing about and who have done me no direct wrong.

I’m not sure where we go from here, but I know that this version of America isn’t worthy of our or anyone’s children inheriting.

We’re going to need more good people becoming louder about what is and isn’t within the bounds of civilized society.

We’re going to need to name what is unacceptable and to demand decency and safety for all of us.

We’re going to need to collectively hold on to our souls or there will be nothing beautiful left to leave after we’re gone.

We have to do better.

We need to reverse the Trump Effect on America.”

And then made a golden idol of it.

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Life forces…

No force on earth holds the power of a single word

spoken in haste from the human heart,

no blow strikes so sure

no arrow so deep.

.

I love you, says DNA, tho I do not like you

so let’s speak no further lest we uncover truth that will end us.

Mayhap someday this core we’re protecting will acquire a name…

a bold new label for the ages.

.

For now we call it personal choice, my world my rights, freedom,

as it divides and plows asunder

the stuff of life that won’t be regained once gone.

Labels will not cover it.

.

Becoming the predominant species has not in turn

prepared us for being fully human, for living, for crossing boundaries on our way home.

Our spirit of adventure has been jaded by the journey

and we settle for the dull, the well-worn… the safe.

.

As a winning animal we are shabby and embarrassing, an unworthy victor.

Octopi outdo us for sensitivity and gentleness…

Crows and elephants care more deeply for their dead…

Nurse ants lick the wounds of fallen comrades.

.

Humans have evolved beyond such weakness

and we are right or we are nothing at all.

The Proud are highly amused by our

acts of love and goodwill…. all weakness and lies…

.

No force on earth holds the power of a single word

from the mouth of one esteemed.

Nothing after will hold the power to restore what is lost

in that searing terminus.

.

No force on earth holds the power…

so we disarm the words by assigning better motives

cutting slack

dissembling…

.

… and surrendering our inherent dominance,

we let the words gouge, stab, wound, and defeat us,

while the power of unconditional love goes unspent, unused, unemployed

in the pursuit of happiness… and freedom.

JSmith 11/14/2021

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Sifting sprites…

We are geologists, combing layers of life’s sediment,

scuffing our feet across forgotten expanses left behind

as sprites stir, sleeping off grudges just beneath the surface…

and they are not happy.

They like neither themselves nor what differs from self…

and they are not happy.

Life is too long and too brief to provide shelter and light

to zealous sprites who after long sleep exist in the world to

insure greatest maximum distress for earth’s other inhabitants,

because why should any existing thing find what sprites can’t have.

.

So we go in search of other worlds… pockets of benign welcome where

we finally drop the shoulders, unclench the jaw, and free our tongue

from the roof of our mouth.

We say the words that hold life and mean them… words that rescue the Happy…

and we are happy.

We find the ones who get us… and in knowing us, they heal us.

Valuable trust is carefully rationed until we find that not everyone we knew

has turned spritely…

and with all the world gone dusty and dry

a cooling rain shower to the heart regenerates what matters.

JSmith 11/11/2021

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A confession…

Boys and girls, in light of our ongoing relationship over the years, I’m obligated to inform you that I am armed, dangerous, and a threat to polite society, as evidenced by a whiplash experience over the weekend. Be forewarned is all I’m saying. It was one of those caught-off-guard, konked on the head surprises that we’re never waiting for and all we can do is absorb them.

It’s well-documented that I’m a liberal-thinker, it can’t be disguised or hidden, nor have I ever tried. It’s a part of me I appreciate most, no apologies. Over the years, as the lines have been drawn with an ever-finer marker and the ways we think about life have utterly diverged, about half my extended family has broken off communications, for which I don’t blame them – when you don’t share an inviolable worldview, what do you talk about finally?

A test of mettle arose this past week when I received health news about a relative who had cut me loose for my wanton liberal ways… or so I assume because he closed all avenues of communication and I didn’t hear from, or about, him for long years. After seeing the message I did the adult thing, scrounged around for a contact address, and wrote him and his wife a genuine note of love and concern, which… son-of-a-gun, opened that door right back up. He was ever so grateful and kind, going so far as to send me a Facebook request, which I validated… and that’s when the fight started, except that I don’t fight. He saw my posts, realized I was still that awful commie liberal witchy-woman he kicked to the curb all those years ago, and we had a conversation… calm and measured on my part, increasingly hostile on his, including a totally incomprehensible shaming for remarrying after my first husband was killed. This from someone with multiple marriages under his belt. And then he swiftly bailed and blocked me from any further contact. That’s twice, buddy, jeez.

Kids, I tell you this to let you know there’s no road through to the other side right now and may never be again. We speak two different languages, hold differing moral codes, and our outlook on humanity is terminally split. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to hold thoughtful exchanges with family and friends who abhor my take on life, and I can testify that it’s an impossibility at this point. As soon as a real conversation threatens to break out, they’re outta there every time.

So watch your backs… I’ve been officially declared toxic to the health of a family member; therefore, who knows what further mayhem I might get up to. I’m a small 74-year-old woman who has very limited contact with the world outside my door, and who will never show up on the doorstep of people who hate my voice, even if invited… the trip alone, at this point, would attempt to kill me. So what are people worried will happen? That I’ll expose a feeling they didn’t know they had and can’t acknowledge? That I’ll “force” them to talk with me like two adults? That I’ll ask a question they don’t know how to answer? That I’ll try to drag them into some mystical woo-woo place of real communication?

I have plenty of experience, but few answers… much heavy sadness, but few regrets. I’ve been transparent and dealt in truth as I know it. And life goes on, even as it’s perpetually ending…

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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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Thunderstorms rolling through…

It’s a rainy weekend, thanks to Ida and other disturbances including good ol’ Larry… we knew he’d show up at the party eventually. No PickleBall for The Guy because the indoor courts are closed to the public on weekends, so he produced yet another iteration of The Saturday Breakfast, whose savory delights left me speechless. He said, yeah, that’s what he’s been workin’ on all this time…

When you decide to let go of something… say, anger, to cite a random example… it’s all a process. One step might be resolved in a matter of seconds, others are layered so deep they’re an enigma requiring time and determination to crack. I’ve held to my divorce from TV news, but I pick up plenty of it elsewhere, and this week was full of challenging developments that make my sense of justice want to stand up and get rowdy. Instead I “cut clippings” from the internet like my g’ma did the newspaper and share them with likeminded people who say “Right on.” Or other words.

Incredibly, the COVID pandemic is still #1 in the news after almost two years. That’s nearly impossible to accept in one of the richest, most educated nations on the planet, but here we are. No amount of logic, patience, impatience, nor any combination of approaches to the problem has changed anything – half of us will remain a danger to the other half out of a deep need not to comply with anything the other half touched, and the ramifications will go on forever.

Stupid EDIT button won’t edit out…

*****

*****

Death beats gerrymandering and voter suppression every time.

So yeah, that’s the COVID scene, continuing unabated. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Texas and our inimitable Supremes pulled off a whoop-de-doo that may have them all by the tail before it’s over. We don’t need no Taliban, we grow our own.

Turn your sister in and collect $10K, just like that, bubba.

So that’s last week, what I have receipts for. Disturbing stuff, but I can’t do a damn thing about any of it, so today’s about the breakfast, the hot soak, the great coffee, the quiet, the rain…

We thought the atmosphere in the nation would improve after the election, but the neighbor-against-neighbor mindset seems here to stay, and we’re watching a country we stupidly thought we knew willingly march itself into Authoritarian Capitalism. And I can’t do a damn thing about that, either. This Pollyanna gig ain’t all it’s made out to be, boys & girls, in fact it’s a real slog lately. There are people I “should” contact, things I “should” do, wrongs I “should” right… and I hope there are enough tomorrows for the truly important out of all that. Meanwhile…

*****

I remember 28 as the year before all hell broke loose and life got real. Better fruit would have helped.

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Happy weekend…

The work on the water lines continues apace as we close out yet another week. It’s engaging to watch, even knowing it’s hitting our HOA in the shorts, but it does go on and on, much like life in the time of COVID. I felt overwhelmed for a bit yesterday as I suddenly registered the weight of where we find ourselves. Our case numbers in the county have gone from zero to 100 with lightning speed, and our whole U.S. healthcare system is overrun for the fourth time. Hospitals are full, children are dying in ever greater numbers, Florida’s gone to reefer trucks to store their dead… again. In the midst of all this, it’s worth noting that no hospital anywhere is full of people suffering side effects from the COVID vaccine. Where did we lose our ability to all pull in the same direction for even one split-second in history? I miss the “All for one, one for all” response to past challenges to our existence. I’m not as inspired by the “All for me, fuck that guy” philosophy. But people do what they do and believe what they believe… so we’re saddled up for Rodeo #4. We’ll see who’s still standing this time when the dust clears.

Speaking of dust, this crew is A+ at what they do, wreaking a minimum of destruction. The entire fire line is exposed now, from doors to street, and it could all be history by the end of the day, which I’m sure everyone would welcome. Beer-thirty, everyone, and happy weekend.

In the saga of the haircut, it finally happened, along with some much-needed chick therapy, and the trek to attain the new refurbished me continues. I hope the world doesn’t go to sleep on us again just when we were breathing new air.

Welp, for now, let’s all sing in the sunshine, boys and girls…

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Wow, Friday…

Don’t look now, but another week is in the record books. A couple of our projects moved forward, weather happened, I talked to John, got to see Rita, politics remained in a state of flux, and our old friend Pandemic raged on. Standard-issue for 2021, it’s what’s happening. After today’s dental appointment I’m on vacation ’til Monday, I mean it! Because that’s how it works every weekend. 😂

The words I put on this page on any given day mean nothing to anyone but me. They change nothing, stop nothing, alter no course of history. But truth matters. Human life matters, or nothing does. Our time here is such a blip it’s hard to think anything we say or do makes a difference… but somehow it does, every bit of it. So once we stop mattering to each other we’re headed for the trees and caves again, and you know what THAT means… no internet. Hey… 💡

There’s a heightened awareness again out here in the heartland as the Delta variant sweeps across the prairie claiming hosts. Our infection rates are up after months of low levels, there’s a shortage of ventilators, no fully-equipped ICU beds available, and children are dying in increasing numbers. Two things we’ve been familiar with all our lives – face masks and vaccinations – are the primary reasons this is happening, both of them having been politicized off the map.

The frowny-face is a bonus.

Talk all you want, people are hung up on what matters to THEM and you won’t reach them.

We’re seeing firsthand the meaning of Bangambiki Habyarimana’s statement that “Life is politics, you do it or it does you.” Everything in American life has been politicized by now, to the point that household items have come to define the enemy. We’re watching our society change, morphing into a different animal entirely. We’re becoming another kind of people here… a kind that cares only for its own short-list. We’re not going to like ourselves much when the transformation’s finished, but we’ll feel oh-so-safe and we’ll be very disciplined, and isn’t that, after all, what White America wants?

Authoritarian Capitalism = Corporate Fascism

But say what you will, the universe loves an optimist…

ZINNART.COM

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A Tuesday mixed bag…

This has been my favorite kind of morning… before sunrise could establish itself, rain moved in and turned our world to night again and we’ve had great soaking showers. Kim walked before the clouds arrived, and came home with a bagel for me, so we’re hitting on all cylinders so far, and I’m mentally spacing off this afternoon’s dental appointment for now, just for good measure.

We should have countertop people here any minute to help move us forward on our little remodel project, so that’s worth waking up for. We’ve been without sinks in either bathroom for a couple of weeks now, so progress will be entirely welcome. Pick a little, grin a little, things finally come to fruition and we move along, lifelike as all get-out. Oops, we’ve been bumped to tomorrow for countertops, wouldn’t cha’ know, and if that’s the biggest glitch the day holds, we’re favored upon the earth.

After journaling our COVID sheltering experience from start to what was supposed to be finish, I’m dismayed to see where we find ourselves as August unfolds. We could have stopped this thing in its tracks, but some people simply don’t want to.

Can’t help observing how infection rates correspond to voting trends.

It’s crazy-making that we’ve in some ways arrived back at Ground Zero for no legit reason except that people have decided science doesn’t fit their world. My Mama Said, ya’ know.

What will they think of next??
There are passports and then there are portals.

The general populace needn’t sweat it, though, the world isn’t about to shut down again. Been there, did a half-assed job of it, not going back.

Not feeling down this morning, not blue… but certainly in a pragmatic frame of mind. Every human’s existence is greatly shaped and determined by what other earth-dwellers do and there’s no escaping that reality. We have no option but to survive here together on this cockamamie spinning ball of schmeh… and it seems to me some of us aren’t trying very hard lately.

He tried harder than most…

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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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