A list of happy…

My (our) clean quiet loft

Sunlight slipping through the wooden blinds and striping the bed

Half a pot of coffee staying warm until after I talk myself into

A nice warm shower and undies fresh from the dryer

The French Open murmuring along on TV

Cold milk, crisp cereal, and a flawless banana

The never-ending array of great art on the internet, which is then translated into jigsaw puzzles in Judy World. The puzzles, in turn, allow my brain to freewheel in a universe of words and ideas and sometimes not surface for hours

Friends, with their beautiful ways of showing me I’ve been seen and heard and I don’t have to be cautious about my words

Plans that carry me forward and remind me I’m not finished here yet

Lunch with my husband, after hearing him play guitar for an hour

A relaxing pedi

Projects that capture my attention and validate the future

A town and a living space that nurture my humanness and affirm that life goes on

NOT THE END

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Perspective is everything…

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when the pain lets go

sun comes out the world looks new

all things possible

JSmith 01/17/2017

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A winter playlist…

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gray winter days are

like a snuggie with some class

feel cozy look inviting

JSmith 01/03/2017

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From hope to hope…

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chilly damp and gray

life alters and love is all

we cling to the true

JSmith 11/22/2016

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Head toward the light…

Colorful autumn

 

sunshine everywhere

how i want the world to be

no shadows the end

JSmith 10/18/2016

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Known only to me…

When I am old I shall wear purple and every damn color I want, probably all at once. I’ll be just like every other dried up old malcontent you’ve encountered, but different in ways known only to me, thus this brief Manifesto of Independence is for whoever ends up having to deal with me, most likely husband and then son, not that life ever follows a script.

IN CASE OF FUTURE FULL-ON FOSSILIZATION, BREAK GLASS TO READ:

  1. If I’m hungry, all efforts are futile until food happens – I more and more don’t have the capacity to maintain sanity during hangry spells. Good news: the devil within is easily placated, provided we like what we’re being bought off with.
  2.  I still hear non-stop music inside my skull from the ice fall last winter and it can get overwhelming in a way that loosens my hinges a little. It may never go dormant, so please factor that in when trying to reason with me.
  3. If I’m certifiably demented, don’t try to reason with me at all. Too much like arguing with the proverbial porker – only serves to frustrate you and irritate the pig. I’ll probably be fine in whatever world is current for me, so don’t waste precious resources trying to talk me out of it.
  4. Likewise, if intractable pain can’t someday be addressed with legal medical-grade cannabis – the thing that stops it – then pain awareness will have to be a fixture in the equation, too. I hate that, it sucks, I’ll be doing my best to stay sweet and not cause anybody trouble, but there it is, the big whiny elephant in the room.
  5.  It will be in everyone’s best interest to keep #’s 1, 2, and 4 from happening simultaneously. Good luck to ya’.
  6.  A great set of Beats headphones and Elton & Leon’s “The Union”will keep me out of your face for days – use it. Joshua Radin, Jennifer Warnes, Jason Mraz, the soundtrack of Catch & Release, The Lone Bellow, The Milk Carton Kids…  Merely a sampling – I’ll try to keep the playlist updated* until check-out – it will always be eclectic.
  7.  I don’t require much for survival, but two must-haves beyond music are books and a way to communicate. Even if you think I’m past reading, leave a book or two around because…you never know. No fluff, no bodice-rippers, best no serials. Poetry – that’s what I want – Krista’s, please. Give me an inactivated iPhone if it seems to provide a sense of being in touch with somebody, but if we’re all fortunate I’ll simply slip into a world where none of it matters to me anymore except the good times and die with a smile on my face. Or get hit by a bus. We never know.
  8.  Apparently women past 40 are programmed to grow an increasingly disgusting amount of first dark then white extraneous hair on our faces. If you leave that shit intact I promise I will come back after I die and sleep between you and your significant other until the end of your days. I mean this.
  9. If I need to live in a care facility for the good of all concerned, please try to find one that operates like a highly tolerant family – one where eating and sleeping are managed individually rather than institutionally – that would be huge. Also, of course, where no one will hurt me, whether on staff or in residence – that’s pretty huge, too.
  10. The baseline changes imperceptibly with the decades, but I will never not want to look and smell as good as reality allows. Please don’t subject me to the pitying faces of strangers without helping me look as much like this still-me person as anyone could expect. And while I’m here – please universe, no diapers, ‘K?
  11. After I’ve made my presence felt in my immediate world for as long as I can and something takes me out of here, give me a smokin’ hot body one last time and pack my ashes to the coast – pick one – for a sweetly drunken campfire and whatever you want to say about me. Talking to you of course, Kim and John.
  12. In the past few years since I let myself start writing again, I’ve put a body of words out there in the cloud that may or may not survive in one jot or iota. As long as the synapses fire I’m sure I’ll keep contributing to that pile of thought-turned-words that will, odds-on, prove to have been solely for my own rescue. That’s another thing we never know about – where it all goes when we do. Kind of pisses me off that I won’t be around to see if any of my sentences end up on Google Search. What I’m saying is, you two guys can do what you want with what I won’t be taking with me. Big Kev knows how to get to my passwords – that’s for the wording, the bits and pieces of ME. The rest of it…you know what to do.
  13. Anyway, thirteen points being my style, that’s about it. Keep it simple, keep it all about love, keep Karma in our corner. Plus all the things I’ve ever said, ever meant to say, never thought to say – take that with you. And did I mention the love – you know all about the love.

 

I have no thought that anybody might need this vital information any time soon. But if you don’t write it down when it’s now, a day comes when you can’t say it anymore – you’re no longer your own advocate. And everybody needs one.

*Also Tracy Chapman. Keb Mo. Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours,” the album.

 

 

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When it rains, we haiku…

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rain rain rain all day

more falls while darkness covers

all the world so wet

 

~JSmith

 

Add your haiku in comments!!

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A day in the life…

The sun’s shining, the air’s warming, and my competent young orthopedic surgeon shook my hand twice this morning before officially kicking me out. Celebrating will happen later with Kimmers, and tomorrow I’ll start working on my own rehab follow-up at Rock Chalk Park while he’s playing PickleBall. A heinous winter has come to an end far less painfully than we’d envisioned on our way to the ER, and two of us lived through it. Thank you, universe, your encouragement was highly appreciated, but throwing Maddie’s trek across the Rainbow Bridge into the mix was a nasty twist and you owe us for that.

During one of our final therapy sessions, the assisting tech asked me about retirement – and moaned when I described it as feeling like we have all the time in the world. “Oh, I SO want to be retired!” She hasn’t made it past 25 yet, pretty sure, so I feel for her because time and health are the most valuable currencies in human existence and she has a long way to travel before time is truly her friend. However, I say that knowing she’d be bored, frustrated, and guilt-laden over retirement right now. Having “all the time in the world” also means we’re personally responsible for filling those hours with things that matter in some way – things that add to our usefulness in our immediate world and inspire us to get out of bed every morning. Kim has never had a problem with that – he’s Rise & Shine Guy all the way. The retired girl has worked her way up to that status, in body at least, and is now disappointed if she misses a sunrise. I might not be awake until 10am, but I’m up, dammit, and the world is mine.

Life has gradually taken on a sweet rhythm, the pace has settled into the doable, if not always the desired, and we’re uniquely suited to the lifestyle because continued accomplishment is fun and happens of its own volition, but we’re basically lazy AF and our consciences are easily assuaged by small victories.

Breakfast is an event at least four mornings a week – biggest meal of the day – and for the remaining three we bow to the reality of late-life weight gain and decreased mobility. Mostly speaking for myself – Kim is far more capable and disciplined, bless his manly self. I’m working on it – never doubt what you can do when life goes right every once in a while.

Kim does the things I can’t do anymore, and I do the rest – it’s a division of labor that’s worked for us for almost a dozen years now, and every new day confirms that the naysayers were not only mistaken, but misguided, bless their hearts. If you know something, don’t let anyone rain on your parade – you’ll be scooping up any horseshit that falls, not them, but better than that, you’ll be reaping all the benefits. Unless the rain gods are paying your bills, their opinions aren’t worth the breath it took to blow them all over you, so walk away.

We spend hours every day writing at our computers – I spellcheck him and he edits my stuff for awkward syntax. On weekends our spa soaks are full of conversations we wish we could recreate later, on a full range of topics including politics, religion, sex, marriage, friendship, theatre, all the biggies. We’re hilarious and wise, and anyone else would find us insufferable but they’ll never have that opportunity because it’s all done entirely naked; therefore, it’s snobbishly exclusive, sorry.

After trying out a lot of the restaurants here we eat at home 99% of the time – it’s easier to the budget, and there is no better place anywhere than Chez Kim – at least not within said budget. Best food in town, and kinder portion sizes.

Evenings from 5pm on are balcony time on nice days, and from 5 to 6 no phones are allowed. The more friends out there with us the better, though, so if you’re on that list and within driving distance, get here – open invitation! Text first in case we’re naked.

Bedtime comes when we can’t keep our eyes open any longer…and the next morning we start the game fresh again. Any anger or mini-grudge has a 24-hr. statute of limitations – say what’s on your mind and get the f*ck over it because life is ridiculously short and we started late, so there’s zero time to waste on selfishness.

Sorry so long this time, but our days end up full one way or another. I hope you’re taking notes because unless we step in front of a bus we all end up at this stage of life and it helps to know some stuff going in. You’re welcome.

 

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So healthy it makes me sick …

We live, we learn – mostly we live.  So as it turns out, “twice-weekly PT sessions for six weeks” merely covered Phase 1. Six weeks ended Friday morning and now we try another month.  And then we “see.”  Not a problem – once I graduate, there goes 90% of my outside social life, so what would be the rush?

Health, though – such a ginormous issue in every direction.  Do we possess it?  Do we value it?  What value are other people placing on our health?  Do we take it entirely for granted, or do everything we can to maintain it?  Or realistically, somewhere between?  And if we lose it, can we get it back?

The past few months have shown us that my bones are in far better health than we knew.  And I’ve lost some pounds so my numbers are starting to improve — the dread NUMBERS that cause your extremely caring GP to make sad-panda eyes and counsel you to drop even more pounds and take scary-sounding drugs.  I’m just stumbling along for now, thanks, and trying to beat those numbers into submission by means of personal discipline and other words I avoid.

My preoccupation with health at the moment stems from learning that a cousin is going through a hellish experience.  He’s six weeks older than I am and we grew up more like siblings than cousins, our other siblings nicely stair-stepped or matched up in age, which made extended-family vacations oh so simple.  And now the skinny little boy in the photo is all grown up and overrun by adulthood, and he’s ill and in pain.  That hurts my heart. He’s a kind man who’s “been there” for everyone else.  And life couldn’t possibly get away this fast and our bodies metamorphose so quickly into whatever stage this is that feels suspiciously like a cocoon, while our 60’s-addled brains go right on scheming and dreaming and making plans like a boss.  Wow, whiplash!

Judy_Bruce_Vickie_Bon

Here, in their natural habitat, are my cousin Bruce, his big sister Vickie on the left, our Aunt Bonnie, who was probably still a teenager, and wide-eyed me, wondering what it was all about, Alfie.  This was just the other day, I’m pretty sure — I remember the shingles on that house — they were a reddish-brown and felt funny under my fingertips.

Bruce will get well I think, and we’ll all go on.  But the knowledge that he’s dependent for now on a wheelchair and round-the-clock help from an only slightly younger brother brings it all home in kind of an in-your-face way.

I mean, today Patty Duke has left the building.  In recent days it’s been Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Pat Conroy, Garry Shandling, and a litany of others in my generation.  This isn’t going to stop, and I’m not ready for it.  Happen it will, though, that’s how this goes.

We are ALL most definitely playing for time, boys and girls.  Make it count.

 

 

 

 

 

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Naked conversation …

This weekend’s spa soak found us once again solving world problems by means of logic, common sense, and positive thinking in the face of current events.  No, really.

KIM: So if the economy crashes again, we should have a realistic idea what we might do.

ME: Realistically, a van down by the river would be a plan.  No problemo, baby, I’d live under a bridge with you.

KIM: Or how about an Airstream?  We could get a cool antique truck to pull it with.

ME:

KIM: What?

ME: You need to focus.

 

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He knows I’m serious about the “whither thou goest” schtick, though, partly because we were in the bathtub when I said it and he always tells me you can’t lie to somebody when you’re naked.

Also, Headline Checker App, I didn’t appreciate my low grade on this one and I’m not sure your management style meshes with our goals at present, so buh-bye.  Who needs that kind of negativity … jeez.

 

 

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The rain in Spain …

waiting_for_a_train_in-the-rainy-day

Sitting out

watching the rain

hearing the trains

theatrical horns chewing scenery

while wheels rhythmically

play understudy.

.

No sweeter melancholy.

~JSmith, 3/8/2016

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It happens every year …

Hello-December-Funny-41

Rain stopped

ice melted

sun came out

December arrived.

A mystery.

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Tuesdays were for what?

The Grand Purge of 2015 is currently underway here at Chez Smith so everything that was on my desk … sticky notes, calendar pages, scribbled-on envelopes, wrinkled business cards, Twix wrappers … is in a heap on the bed and I can’t remember what Tuesdays are supposed to look like here on the blog because my notes are in there somewhere.  And who has the energy to scroll back … ?  Getting rid of that big stupid pile in the middle of the bedspread was my Tuesday goal.  Instead, oh look, it’s WEDNESDAY already!  Time to shift the detritus from love seat to bed again and see what happens.

Seems to me Tuesdays have been about thankfulness lately, which rhymes with beauty, which gets us back to Monday’s good intentions.  Are you OCD at all?  What are the things that hook you in and you can’t get enough of twenty-four hours a day because they engage your brain and ignite your passions?  And then a morning dawns, the next week or years down the road, when you wake up and can’t find two fricks to give about any of it.  And it feels kind of sad but mostly it feels like the most liberating thing that’s happened in too long.

Facebook and I reached an impasse like that the other day, one of many but this time totally out of left field.  We’ve agreed to stay friends, but we’re negotiating a little break from each other for health reasons — it’s an increasingly unhealthy place for me to hang out because my reserves are so pathetically low.  I can cite chapter and verse, but for now it seems sufficient to say that I’m out of energy for the general ugliness, and sharing my truth just annoys the crap out of people if it isn’t also theirs.  I woke up last Thursday with the settled knowledge that it’s not my job, man, and I have to tell you I feel SO much better now that I no longer care.

So I’m trying to make Facebook about relationship again without selling out.  We’ll see how long and how evenly my psyche handles the dichotomy — it’s guaranteed to be fascinating.  We should talk more about this tomorrow because I clearly haven’t solved the whole puzzle yet and I have a feeling there’s helpful advice out there that could open some windows.  I know it all comes back to beauty and beautiful places — living in them, creating them, facilitating them.  God, it’s probably something as cliché as “Be the beauty you wish to see in the world.”  Nooooooooooo, that sounds so pathetically passive and ineffective.  But bottom line, probably yes.  Because the really beautiful people do get trampled in life, but while stuff’s hitting them they’re shedding pollen and sloughing off seed pods that take root like science and make places for change to happen.

It’s obvious that the earth is losing its sparkle and could benefit from a beauty infusion, so I’m going to let myself think about all this for a while because it’s what we here in the office like to refer to as overwhelming.  Meanwhile, from the Playing for Time desk, a wonderful Wednesday to you all.  Make your corner of it beautiful if you can.

what you love

 Does this mess with your head like it does mine?  

I mean if you could know.

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Tuesdays are so weird …

As I was falling asleep last night I said to no one in particular, since I’m pretty sure Kim was down for the count, “This is going to turn around tomorrow — it will stop hurting so I can stop whimpering.”

Oh, I do adore being right!  I can haz gud day!!

Yesterday, though, I didn’t get back here with a recipe, did I.  You knew that would happen.  Screw it, let’s do something different.

somewhere

THERE’s a thought that will carry me through an entire day!  Plus the sun is shining, and Maddie’s keeping marauding dogs away from our 4th-floor windows, and Kim’s finishing his gorgeous painting project in the next room.  Apparently I’m still too young to die, so I’m gonna get on with living today.  Make it an amazing Tuesday in your world, and come talk to me about coping mechanisms.

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On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in January …

So tell me you’ve been finding every opportunity to dance since last week — it’s such a good habit to get into!  By dance I mean sparks of any sort inside the person that is you.  You give your heart permission to feel not just okay, but fabulous, even if it’s only a hit-and-run, and should it leak out your fingers and toes, by all means … make rhythm out of it.

It’s a bits & pieces Tuesday.  Here’s a glorious bit that Mary Oliver wrote about her partner of forty years, Molly Malone Cook, that makes my heart dance.  “The dance” is often The Blues …

“She was style, and she was an old loneliness that nothing could quite wipe away; she was vastly knowledgeable about people, about books, about the mind’s emotions and the heart’s. She lived sometimes in a black box of memories and unanswerable questions, and then would come out and frolic — be feisty, and bold.” 

I love that so much.

And these two pieces made my brain boogie today …

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letgoframe

Is it just me or is there a connection in all these jangly bits?    Seriously, anything’s possible when your brain dances with your heart.

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