Thinking is harder than it looks…

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Hard-Core Reader knows by now that I spend a sizable amount of time observing –  pondering pretty much everything, really, and watching for the sparks that tell me something needs a closer review. It’s good exercise for the brain and so far it’s helped me sidestep (most) wacko mindsets and exploits. I like that my thoughts still belong to me and can’t be easily swiped, although technology could well change that in my lifetime.

We watched the Oscars Sunday night without falling asleep until almost the end and we were struck by how low-key it all felt compared to other years (some are calling it boring). There were snippets that didn’t work, a joke or two that fell flat, along with a handful of other predictable elements, but the room didn’t seem as angst-laden and fueled by savage competition as past shows. This time, glitz and glam took a bit of a back seat to camaraderie and genuineness, if I dare say that about Hollywood, and the whole thing felt, to us…comfortable. I have a few theories as to why that was, but I need to ponder awhile before I try to name them.

As Andy Rooney would say, “And another thing… ” – I dislike websites that promise an interesting story about someone you remember and then take you to pages full of ads and 50 or more photos to scroll through in order to get to the one you wanted to see. I rarely stick with a site like that – what are they thinking? Who has that kind of time? And while I’m here…I detest autoplay videos that pop up and startle the bejesus out of me about once a day, and ads that flash while I’m trying to read. I zap them and wonder if maybe life’s other little annoyances could be dealt with in a similar way – “I don’t like what you’re doing – please get out of my sight.”

Which brings us to ocular migraines, heinous little beasts that flare up with the least provocation – including flashing images and bright lights – and threaten to end the day before it gets started. Luckily this morning there was a cup of 2-day-old brown liquid left in the coffee pot, having somehow escaped the notice of the cook, and its caffeine content is at work on the cranial vessels as we speak. It tastes okay, too, so it’s a win-win.

Random weather lately, and there are light snow flurries going on outside my windows at the moment. Not a word was said about that in the forecast I saw before I was awake, which signifies nothing – forecasts here tend to be more of a guideline or a multiple choice survey. As Kansans we’re inordinately proud of our weather – not every state has the sheer range we do, often resulting in four or five kinds of weather in a single day.

Thanks for listening to another batch of ponderings – I hope the sun’s shining in your world today and that any surprises will be pleasant ones.

 

 

 

 

 

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The stuff of life…

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February is underway and the purge is on again, this time in the deepest recesses of my iMac, where my latent hoarder tendencies find safe pasture. In my favor, I’m a fairly organized hoarder, but even those systems are breaking down and need a good whomp to shake out the dust and detritus again, still, some more. It’s true, we really can be and often are our own worst enemies. Procrastination = my downfall. I’ll look at, listen to, deal with, make a decision LATER – I’m far too busy right now with whatever it is that gets me to the end of the day. So things stack up a little, out of sight and, of course, out of mind.

The “later” concept bleeds over into all of life. Don’t burn that gorgeous candle now, save it for “a special occasion.” Wait until you can drag it out of the far recesses of a storage closet after four blazing hot summers, including the one when the A/C gave up. It’s okay to enjoy it now because it’s too ugly to save for company.

Growing up on the farm, only guests were allowed to see the good dishes or know we had them. Being prepared counts. If, say, the governor were out on a listening tour at some point and was curious to know what that dead-end dirt road led to, and he and his henchmen knocked on our door and it was around lunchtime, my mother wouldn’t have been embarrassed to serve them a flash-cooked meal on our unblemished china. Priorities, people. On the other hand, she was wise enough not to give four wild children access to her dowry.

There comes a point when later begins to hold less promise and the do-it-now instinct kicks in. I’ve reached that point. You know how the center of an omelet is usually the best part? My self-imposed rule has been that I have to eat the outside ends first and then I can have the cheesy yummy center section. How stupid is that? No, no, no, it should always have been yummy centers first – when you aren’t already almost full from the less amazing stuff. If you leave anything on the plate (Ha!) it has to be the ends, not the middle, jeez, do I have to tell you EVERYthing?

Same for cake and frosting. Slide a knife horizontally through your piece of cake, neatly separating the frosting and about a half-inch of cake from the drier stick-in-the-throat part. You were going to eat that part first, right, and then reward yourself with the sweet stuff. No, look, this is important. Throw the cake in the trash and savor every bite of that frosting – you don’t have time to mess around. Later gets shorter every day, don’t waste this – no more saving the best for last.

You can extrapolate it out to just about everything – we wait for the right time, the right mood, the perfect occasion. We have to stop. I have to stop. Do the thing, enjoy the thing, appreciate the thing, in and of itself, just because. Mostly because we won’t be here forever.

Hey! Happy Tuesday, and be on the lookout for the best – it’s for you.

 

 

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Good intentions…

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It’s a gorgeous day-after-first-day-of-the-year and I’m feeling energized – I hope you are too. I intend to ride this pony until it disintegrates mid-gallop because the year just ended was an energy-suck of colossal proportions and I have catching up to do.

There are two kinds of people in the world – those who make resolutions and those who keep them. I tend to fall into the first classification, so this year I’m intentionally not making any promises. Instead I’m playing around with a short list from a blog piece I bookmarked and now can’t find. Fortunately I saved the list itself to a safer place:

  1. Choose a word of the year
  2. Set a mindful intention
  3. Keep a diary
  4. Persist

The first step is hard because there are SO MANY WORDS. I’ve been trying some on for size but haven’t picked a finalist yet.

Setting a mindful intention is easier – I know what I want to accomplish in the next year and have been saying it out loud, but only to myself, because sometimes verbalizing to other people sets all kinds of expectations in motion and who needs the guilt.

In another lifetime I kept a handwritten diary and filled years’ worth of notebooks with my thoughts. I could pick up the habit again. Might happen.

The fourth point is crucial so it helps to remember that resting when you need to is preferable to quitting.

It’s a simple list but we all know that some of the simplest things in life are the most difficult, so we’ll see what 2018 brings to us and what we do with it. I wish you all success in your intentions – want to meet back here in 2019 and compare notes?

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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!

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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 …

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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 …

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Rain stopped

ice melted

sun came out

December arrived.

A mystery.

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