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. The “Raise The Dead Tour” 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 far 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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The Temptation of Truth

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The Lie said to the Truth, “Let’s take a bath together, the well water is very nice. The Truth, suspicious, tested the water and found it was indeed nice. So they got naked and bathed. But suddenly, the Lie leapt out of the water and fled, wearing the clothes of the Truth.

The Truth, furious, climbed out of the well to get her clothes back. But the World, upon seeing the naked Truth, looked away with anger and contempt. Poor Truth returned to the well and disappeared forever, hiding her shame. Since then the Lie runs around the world dressed as the Truth, and society is very happy…

Because the world has no desire to know the naked Truth.

*19th Century legend

**Painting: Truth Coming Out Of The Well, Jean-Léon Gérome, 1896

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Despite hopeful movement toward restoration, the upheaval we hoped would end when the former guy left isn’t over at all. The people who want America to have an authoritarian form of government want it BAD, and they never give up on that ideal nor its methods, so the battle for recovery will be uphill all the way. Our consolation is that the adults are running the shop again and a fair-to-middling MAJORITY of us want to stick with democratic rule. Joe Biden, the first American president to say it out loud, told us the other day that “Democracy is in peril in America,” and that’s clear to anybody paying attention.

Encouragingly, while we’re fighting to hang onto our very way of life, things are happening on all fronts, much of it positive. One wee problem that does need lots of work…

Ongoing stress and turmoil notwithstanding, the world turns. Every day. And life is about more than just surviving… we still want what we want, need what we need, and those things are all wrapped up in the freedom to be.

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Oh hello, Monday…

Since commenting wisely on the personal bravery and sacrifice that have delivered us to this point in history is above my pay grade, I spent the Memorial Weekend in TV sports, online games, and quietude. We’re living in momentous times that continually threaten to overwhelm us, and sometimes ya’ have to check out for a while.

This morning I’m clearing my desktop and sharing a few things from the past week that got my attention, made me smile, laugh, cry, think. You’re welcome.

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Cara Brown, American watercolorist
“Blush” 2013
watercolour on paper

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Feelin’ froggy…

Much happened in the past week, but with little outward change to show for it. The partisan divide that we hoped would begin to resolve after the former guy left only continues to intensify, making agreement on any matter a bridge too far for Congress. This week’s most heinous example: Benghazi somehow required ten investigations and thirty-three hearings, but the assault on our Capitol and democratic rule doesn’t merit even a second look by some of the very people who were under direct threat. Those senators who voted against sanity haven’t succeeded in concealing anything, most especially their own cowardice, and shamefully two of those people “represent” Kansas, which makes me want to hop a bus and flee the state.

Dan, never my type, is my late-life crush… I love him for his mind.

As usual, though, the week’s haul of good stuff has weighed more AND been worth its weight in gold… and when it comes to good news, the small things are the big things…

1.) Douglas County has brought COVID case numbers down to near zero, so protocols are being relaxed. At SPL the announcement was made on Thursday “NO MASKS REQUIRED” (for the fully vaccinated) and those old PickleBallers were celebrating.

2.) The Royals have been fun to watch and are playing some really good baseball, looking more and more like the cohesive team they’ve shown they can be.

3.) Food is a friend again, both good and bad news but definitely more fun – I polished off a hot beef sandwich at Kelley’s again on Thursday like I’d been chopping firewood all morning, and then snacked all afternoon. Um, yikes.

4.) The best thing this week was a text convo with John and this shot of him wearing a t-shirt brought to him from Ghana by a co-worker he mentored. The map and trim are made from kente, Ghana’s national fabric.

The guy in the t-shirt looks to have weathered a year-plus of COVID by getting younger, a nice bonus I wasn’t expecting for him, all things considered. We last hugged him, in Atlanta, in the spring of 2017, which my remaining math skilz tell me was four years ago. I was thinking it had been two or maybe three years, so the realization that four years have passed is putting me in a time warp. Life has intervened since 2017 – broken bones, illness, schedules, commitments, and COVID have all combined to keep us hug-less – but love and trust and silliness and blessed technology have made up the difference in sweet welcome ways and all is well. Life is life, we’re all adults here, it goes on. Still, universe… a hug would be nice.

It’s a chilly Saturday but people have been going back and forth to Farmer’s Market all morning so there’s life in the neighborhood. The pulse of #lfk is quickening, week by week, as people crawl out of their caves and shelters and venture forth again, and I’m here for it even when it’s just from my 4th-floor perch. In retrospect, the past year seems like a Dark Age with only the ghost light left on for guidance… and coming through and out of it feels like winning. No victory comes without loss, but it’s sweet nonetheless – humans are designed for progress and positivity, it’s our bread and water and we move on. I’m deeply grateful on this gray weekend that everyone whose love and caring I depend on, everyone whom I love beyond telling… has survived the pandemic. That’s something 600,000 American families can’t say this morning and my heart breaks that it’s true… so I’m inexpressibly grateful. We’ll still get a chance for those hugs one of these days…

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Beautiful Saturday…

Kim Smith – 05/13/2021

Five months into the year, change and upheaval were again the rule this week, including developments that could eventually lead to prison time for some current and former government entities. A monumental change came just yesterday when the CDC said that fully-vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in public. That feels like a positive indicator, and I’ll be happy to leave mine off in most situations once my governor ends the state mandate… but I won’t be getting rid of my colorful mask wardrobe any time soon, because we’ll now have to “trust” people who’ve acted dishonorably throughout the pandemic to follow the honor system and either get vaccinated or keep masking and distancing. With about 37% of the people we encounter refusing to do either one, we’ll be swimming with the sharks again, and the extra exposure, with variants multiplying, will strain these new baby vaccines to the max. Television personality Bill Maher, tolerate him or hate him, has contracted COVID-19 after having been fully vaccinated, so it’s hubris to think it can’t happen, and after flailing for months under the effects of the virus, the thought of getting it AGAIN, just when things might be improving here, is hellish. That’s my take on what, if I’m being honest, seems like a concession to selfishness. I get it… people are restless to go back to what they knew and loved, and who can blame them. I’m just not sure they’ll find life unchanged when they get there…

If anyone’s yoked to tradition, though, it’s me, despite a certain unwillingness to buy into some of it, so it’s a big deal to have pro baseball to follow again… and golf… and soon more tennis. That may all be bread & circuses, but I’m not proud – it gets surreal when nobody’s doing anything entertaining in the world! Life starts closing in when all the stages go dark at once, so this burst of energy on the horizon is as welcome as this morning’s rain. America’s athletes, Broadway personnel, administration officials, and others have done it right, gotten vaccinated, followed protocols… so there IS an “after.” They have my gratitude and respect.

The cards have been dealt, so hop back on the merry go-round, boys and girls… says Pollyanna, with a pained smile.

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Fresh air…

We clapped and cheered and cried… for justice, for the Floyd family, for America. It was almost more than we dared hope for, a clean sweep, guilty on all counts, and within seconds the killer’s bond had been revoked, he was (gently) handcuffed in front of us, and taken to jail, where our next sight of him is his mug shot, complete with orange jumpsuit. “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long [seemingly endless], But it Bends Toward Justice.” Maybe we haven’t become a nation of monsters after all… and yet the struggle for equal treatment of all humans goes on into infinity. Just seconds before the Floyd verdict was delivered, a 16-year-old honor student involved in a neighborhood girl-fight was shot in the chest by a police officer, no questions asked, and died in her yard still wearing her rainbow Crocs. I hardly need mention that she was Black.

Yesterday’s verdict, the only possible right outcome, provides a sorely-needed whiff of hope that a heinous practice, set in stone in this country after 250 years, can be ended… somehow. The relentless hounding of people of color in this nation has to stop. Full stop. End of story.

The entire mindset of the country has to change, that’s not asking too much, is it?

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AMEN

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Wow, it’s Wonderful Wednesday…

Kim Smith 04/11/2020

It’s a beautiful day and Kim’s on his way to Menard’s on his e-bike to research a project – he wasn’t made for indoors so spring is especially timely this year. Just when I think I couldn’t love him more it’s another good day, and yesterday was one of those. After a morning meeting, we had lunch at a Bar & Grille new to us and got our socks blown off – wow. The menu is amazing, and we weren’t surprised that they were nearly at COVID-restriction full-capacity before we left. The specials were meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, and pot roast, the last of which we glommed onto before the waitress could walk away, and it was… OMG, so good. Fall-apart roast beef cooked with carrots, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread… with real corn in it… and a bit of streusel on top. Felt like coming home to a big Sunday dinner and we couldn’t stop grinning at each other. We had no room for any one of the four desserts listed, but there’s always next time.

It’s been a heartbreaking week, and with more deaths and assaults of young Black men, I lack the stomach for watching the defense of George Floyd’s murderer. It pains everything I’ve got when people tell us we didn’t see what we saw, nor hear what we heard, nor do we recognize the evil that wears the killer’s skinsuit. It’s too much, all of it. Why do all the “accidents, mistakes, and errors in judgment” happen to Black people? A taser (8 oz.)… a gun (2 lbs.)… all same difference unless it’s a white person in the line of fire – then it matters. The anguish of Black mothers is gut-ripping, and even loving Anthony like I do I cannot register the depths of his mother’s love for him and his brothers and sisters, nor know her sleepless hours. It’s too much.

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and I won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson). After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor). These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”David Gray

“Today’s policing is nothing more than modern slave patrols.” -Bishop Talbert Swan

It’s.Too.Much.

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I read this morning that Lawrence still has some 200 people living outside, sleeping rough, and that efforts are being made to alleviate that, in keeping with the tent city already operating in “midtown.” Living here heals us in ways we could never have asked for.

Safe shelter for those who have none.

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It’s Thursday in America… page 225

Kim Smith 03/04/2021

Day 354 – 03/04/2021

This is the day. We’re here… March 4th. Word on the street is that Q is in charge, the former guy will be re-inaugurated today as America’s rightful president, JFK Jr. and Elvis will appear on the Capitol steps, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be impeached, and Mike Pence will turn into an actual Q-tip and spontaneously combust, setting off fireworks INSIDE the dome. It’s gonna be LIT, America! Meanwhile, Congress opted to take a skip day, which puts a damper on the fun and games, and I’m just gonna hide and watch while the dreams go somewhere to die. My sympathy to those who find themselves on the wrong side of history today.

We’re still bathed in pleasant temps and sunshine, and we have things to keep us occupied and moving forward, so that’s the plan. Kim’s morning and part of his afternoon are full, and this evening is our date with destiny at Sigler’s for second shots. I felt life returning as soon as we got the first one, and all the things I haven’t let myself think about for the past year are rising to the top again.

This picture my friend Ivy posted has all the feels in it and says things I want to but can’t. I don’t think he’ll mind if I save it in my diary for future times when I need its message…

Each successive generation of humans sees itself as the be-all-end-all to the world, but life goes on, over and over. We’ll soon be returning to a less-tethered lifestyle and I hope it will be with the intent to make things better than The Before. It would be a tragedy to have isolated ourselves for a year and learned nothing.

Good news, the Ship of State is afloat again.

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A Saturday P.S.

Image by Paula Belle Flores

You’re not imagining it, nobody seems to want to talk right now. Messages are brief and replies late. Talk of catch-ups on zoom are perpetually put on hold. Group chats are no longer pinging all night long.

It’s not you. It’s everyone. We are spent. We have nothing left to say. We are tired of saying ‘I miss you’ and ‘I can’t wait for this to end.’ So we mostly say nothing, put our heads down and get through each day.

You’re not imagining it. This is a state of being like no other we have ever known because we are all going through it together but so very far apart.

Hang in there my friend. When the mood strikes, send out all those messages and don’t feel you have to apologize for being quiet.

This is hard.

No one is judging.

Donna Ashworth, author of poetry book, ‘to the women’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/…/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp…

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Thursday sunlight… page 217

East Lawrence 02/18/2021 – Kim Smith

Day 340 – 02/18/2021

Heat wave today! Twelve degrees at 7am, feels like 4, headed for a high of 22º and sunshine. There’s still something shiny in the air that resembles snow, switching from flakes to sparkles every few minutes, so the snowpocalypse that wasn’t… continues.

We’re in fine shape here but feeling for the people in Texas and elsewhere who are without resources for coping. Also without leadership – TX guv is ineffective, and the guy with the skunk mullet has fled to warmer climes. Cancun sounded good to him this season, while at least one 75-year-old Texas couple are sleeping in their car at night to keep warm and the people down the street are burning their wooden fence in their fireplace. The world’s asking if America’s finished, and I’ve seriously wondered the same thing over the past few years, but I’ll keep hoping and working on the things I can, and I’ll run my mouth ’til I die, that’s a given. If it has no other effect, it keeps me square with myself and able to sleep at night.

In general, the realities of life are improving. A month into his administration, President Biden is quickly getting a handle on the fallout from the previous one. COVID vaccine distribution planning is being rescued, repaired, and put into action. The president’s goal of one million shots per day in his first 100 days is being surpassed – we’re now approaching two million per day and should soon reach three. COVID financial relief is very much in the pipeline at last, world leaders who don’t respect us are being firmly and calmly dealt with, and racial conflict is being addressed in more mature ways by knowledgeable, caring people. The Biden team is tackling our economic issues realistically, and infrastructure may yet get its fifteen minutes of fame – all without Uncle Joe’s face on TV every hour, yelling incomprehensible monologues out of his mouth hole. Good stuff… and wait, there’s more!

Life here, barring interference from nasty COVID variants or other unforeseens, could actually return to a semblance of normality by Christmas. Christmas THIS YEAR. That’s a carrot for my psyche, propelling me forward. From here, December looks like a warm comforter filled with the stuff of life – people, sweet occasions, food shared, uninhibited laughter, the pleasure of getting in the car and going… anywhere. That’s been the goal since we sheltered last March, with everyone still alive to share in it. So far, so good on a strictly personal level – but there are a half-million families grieving the ones who didn’t make it through. Life has changed in the nation over the past year, and I’ve changed with it in ways I won’t be able to reverse when the doors are open again. I don’t foresee myself going to any future big events without a mask… shaking hands was always a squicky habit, so it’ll be hugs for the people I know and love, elbow-bumps for the rest… and I may never break out of hermit mode because it works for me. I live and breathe solitude… and in here, Kim’s the only one who knows the goofy things I say and do.

Oh, but people… Streisand knows the answer to that one… so staying in here forever probably wouldn’t be a good plan. Deciding to trust hearts again, that’s the mission, should I choose to accept it.

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