Oh, I love a rainy day…

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

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

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

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

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Barns & Stable… Michael Hors

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

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The mystery of Monday…

Mondays are ridiculous in retirement because what’s the difference? And yet… our psyches have long been conditioned to know that Friday night to Monday morning IS different, feels different, settles down into us in singular ways; therefore, Mondays feel sleepier and less motivated than most other weekdays, and more susceptible to random naps. I’ll take that…

We have a temporary cool-down outside, from a high of 97º yesterday to a forecast 79º later today – somebody’s dyslexic and it’s very sweet. I wore my granny cardigan on the balcony this morning, but my feet were bare – summer’s here! That doesn’t seem quite real this year, but time doesn’t lie… or so they say…

We’ll have things going on this week and next, and then just like that it’ll be JULY. I remember setting an optimistic goal of July 4th for getting fully vaccinated – and repaired as much as possible – to be ready for life when it returned. It’s happening, we’re here, our community and life around the country are making a comeback, and it feels right and good. The flipside is that too much of the world is still suffering from the pandemic and too many world citizens are still fighting the fixes, but I’m encouraged by the smart people all around me and in leadership, so this Monday morning is going down as a win on the books. I’d rather win every time, I like winning, winning feels excellent. But a friend told me you can’t win ’em all, so some of the victories have to be on the inside. When I kick a blue mood to the curb, when I decide not to think about who’s happy to be free of me, when I feel sorry for myself a teensy little bit and then know I’m an idiot for it… those are wins, dammit, a person can build on those. Watch me. 😂 The sun’s peeking through the cloud cover now, I can do this.

If you’ve ever wished you didn’t care… wished you could make the important things not matter… wished you could turn off, drop out, take a mental hiatus until things come right again… don’t. Don’t wish it, and don’t wish away how it all makes you feel. Life keeps right on going and we’re better off if we go with it, willingly and with some sense of where it might be taking us, though we’re blind in the face of the unknown. We don’t have the luxury of dropping out – life simply doesn’t last that long, even though a random Monday can seem never-ending…

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About beauty…

It’s been raining for days, and pouring for the last hour. No one could love rain more than I do, even with the accompanying melancholy, and today’s a perfect time for sharing a beautiful poem that reached into the center of me yesterday…

SILVER

“How many years of beauty do I have left?”
she asks me.
How many more do you want?
Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.
When you are 80 years old
and your beauty rises in ways
your cells cannot even imagine now
and your wild bones grow luminous and
ripe, having carried the weight
of a passionate life.
When your hair is aflame
with winter
and you have decades of
learning and leaving and loving
sewn into
the corners of your eyes
and your children come home
to find their own history
in your face.
When you know what it feels like to fail
ferociously
and have gained the
capacity
to rise and rise and rise again.
When you can make your tea
on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon
and still have a song in your heart
Queen owl wings beating
beneath the cotton of your sweater.
Because your beauty began there
beneath the sweater and the skin,
remember?
This is when I will take you
into my arms and coo
YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING
you’ve come so far.
I see you.
Your beauty is breathtaking.

Jeannette Encinias

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Monday’s never late…

Kim woke me up just after 7am yesterday so I could enjoy the rain, lightning, and thunder, and the waterworks have never really stopped for long since… it’s the soaker we’ve needed. He potted most of his summer plants last week and they’re loving this – all those rainy nutrients for their roots to marinate in. There are showers in the forecast for much of the week ahead, but when the sun does return these little guys will be bursting with life, which is exactly what we need all over the place.

Note to Self: Burst with life at your first opportunity.

Self: Tall order, but maybe by lunchtime.

My friend Leigh said it perfectly: “No bright sun, must have quiet, coffee, meds, food, etc… till I feel like I’m human again. It’s a process, please proceed with caution.”

It’s wet and gray outside, and not necessarily conducive to rising and shining… but the green, green trees, stretching to the horizon, look like a rain forest… the neighborhood is sleepy and quiet… and the flowers on the balcony are shaking it off, getting ready for sunshine. I’d hate to be found less sensitive to inspiration than a petunia, so I’d best do the same. Ready for ya’, Monday…

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April… showers?

I got up at 6 o’clock this morning to watch it snow. That’s a lie, I got up for the bathroom and WOW, IS IT SNOWING!! We tried with limited success to capture the maelstrom on camera, but the sky is filled with big fat flakes that are building up on everything except the streets and sidewalks, and the new leaves look amazing under a layer of heavy white. We’re in a perfect snow-globe right now, and under a freeze warning for the next couple of nights, so I hope the little growing things will be safe. After gazing out the big windows, Kim decided this calls for a real breakfast because it’s imperative that we properly observe the unexpected – so he’s in the kitchen doing that thing he does… and now the mad swirl is starting to settle, as snow-globes do. A brief but fun diversion if one is simply determined to wake up early.

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I’m holding my breath for the verdict in the murder of George Floyd… and meanwhile trying to be one of these wherever possible…

The sun’s always there somewhere!

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Lurching toward spring… page 232

Day 364 – 03/15/2021

I slept ’til 8am, thus messing with Mother Nature by recovering my lost hour from Daylight Saving Time. HA!! Thumbs nose, laughs, trips over a space heater, ponders a lost jigger of salt.

It’s a Monday again… and who knows? We did finally get our downpours yesterday… all afternoon… and now we head into a week of mixed reviews – wet or dry, chilly or warm, breezy or still. Sounds like life as we know it.

Kim picked Marcelo up at 11am yesterday and they blew town. Rita brought lunch and a cold bottle of Praia, and Seth & Adam stopped by shortly after with the beautiful remains of Warren’s birthday cake, a 3-layer cocoa dream made by Adam. We were all still laughing around the table when Kim showed up, making it a true party – he’s missed those guys all year.

Life halted last March with a decisive act – we came inside and symbolically closed our door to any and all invaders, and I promised myself I’d stay out of the public fray until some sort of ALL CLEAR happened. Tomorrow I will have kept my promise, and that means something to me after watching so many people break their word at every opportunity. I’m in no rush to get out there, but knowing I can do it now with a clear conscience is cool. We’ve had both shots and we’ll stay masked for the foreseeable, but I’m making a list:

  • Barbershop
  • Pedi
  • Dentist
  • Chiro
  • Pain Doc

I think Kim’s list says “PLAY PICKLEBALL” and “RIDE BIKE,” but we should both be ready for prime time by the 4th.

Life stopped with little warning… and we adjusted. As life returns to our community and the world, we’re being afforded grace to meet it as it comes, a little at a time… and this feels better. Fourth of July it is, then, a fitting Independence Day and a worthy goal.

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Weekend rain… page 230

Day 362 – 03/13/2021

No downpours so far, but it’s gray and wet outside and only 48º so Miss Spring is playing the tease, as she is wont to do in these parts. We’re mostly tucked in for the weekend, but next week looks more outdoor-friendly, with highs in the 50s and 60s. Even if I have to sit while Rita walks, I’m getting out there, provided it isn’t raining, which is also a possibility, sigh…

Kim took note of something I’m wearing today and said that it makes me look happy. Who doesn’t love a nice comment, but it made me ask the inevitable question: Do I seem UNhappy to you? His answer encompassed the shitty year we all just passed, the illness rampant everywhere including in our household, the daily wear and tear, and the way everyone feels unseen through it all – he gets it. Truth: I’m happy, he knows I’m happy, have never lived a happier life and never will… but we both also know that feeling absolutely everything for everybody takes a toll. Germanic melancholy inserts itself throughout this creature who is me, and warring with that muse leads only to misery, so you get to hear all about it, Diary friend. I tell the truth here, and unfortunately it makes me sound like a sad panda sometimes. I can fix it by not keeping a diary or a blog of any kind, but nothing good would come of that, so keep eavesdropping if you want to… the smiles I wear on the outside come from a clear heart on the inside, and most of that happens right here.

Sympathizing with AtlantaMan this morning… it’s almost 80º there today and he’s inside the hospital walls. Same yesterday. He has jasmine in bloom on his deck, for Pete’s sake! Nobody wants to miss that! A thought this morning about missing… missing out… happy vs unhappy. We’re emerging into the light again as a nation, as a society… but there will always be that sense of what’s been lost, what’s missing… because the basics haven’t changed. That knowledge makes unbridled happiness a stretch for now… but neither can it be allowed to ruin what’s left, so Pollyanna stumbles on, always up for good news.

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Still here… page 230

Day 361 – 03/12/2021

We’re hoping for a rainy weekend and there’s some falling now so it looks promising. Kim made Sunday omelets for breakfast because we didn’t eat ANYthing last weekend and the need was great. If I’ve counted right, Tuesday will be Day 365 since we moved this feast indoors, and our COVID immunity becomes official the next day. Timing is everything.

The Jayhawks beat OU last night to advance to the semi-finals of the Big 12 Tournament, so that was cool. Big Mac is out due to COVID protocols, but the team hung together and won by 7 points, after leading the whole game. Some years they gel just in time for the final curtain, but they usually get there.

Swiped this from Chris:

How to taste thyme: cook. -Patty

Feels like a slow news day… think I’ll curl up and enjoy the weather.

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It’s a WINDsday… page 229

The Mothership seeks us… Kim Smith – 03/10/2021

Day 359 – 03/10/2021

Blustery and 65º at 8am, and the Weather Channel says 76º this afternoon, so spring’s getting fairly serious around here. We even have our first weather warning, downgraded from YIKES to maybe, for tonight:

We’re in there between Topeka & KC…

The sun’s out and the patient’s catching a few rays for the pallor – things are definitely looking up. Neither of our elevators will be functional for a part of the afternoon so this feels like a day to do whatever sounds good next, right here – the stairs from 1st to 4th wouldn’t be a fun trip right now.

Talked with Rita and she’s been out walking on the warmer days, even when she’s at risk of being blown into the river, so I have to kick it in the butt and get out there with her next week, a worthy incentive.

Not a lot of news, Diary, even for the sake of posterity. For now we’re savoring the peaceful easy feeling that emanates from the White House, and being thankful. Wednesday will mark a full year numerically since we came inside on March 12, 2021 and closed our door, coinciding with the day our COVID immunity will be reached after our 2nd shots. On the 359th day, it looks like THE YEAR THAT WAS might go out the way it came in… on kitten feet, ready to pounce, much like March itself is known to do. All seems quiet on the American Front this week, but appearances are not to be trusted, so who knows what’s bubbling under the lid. It would be fun to think that April 1st has no plans for making fools of us, but once bitten forever shy, and eyes wide open.

I love the fresh air from the balcony, and all the outdoor sounds. Spring will have a holiday feel this year… our numbers are looking excellent and the city’s ready to celebrate outside its doors… in safe and sane ways, right #lfk? Douglas County has recorded some 8,700 coronavirus cases, with 79 deaths… and we’ve had only two new cases since Monday. Living in the midst of a university medical community, not to mention the university itself, holds decided perks which pay off beautifully in a pandemic, or any other potential challenge, so there’s everything to be grateful for. People here are smart enough to know that life’s too ridiculous to be taken seriously, but you gotta do right or somebody will be leaving the world early. Just makes sense.

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Socked in… page 223

Day 349 – 02/27/2021

Saturday breakfast underway, with fog peering in our windows… Kim Smith – 02/27/2021

Picture Guy got out early this morning and walked for an hour, taking fog photos…

South Park
More South Park… in Stephen King mode
Kaw River bridge
The view from the cheap seats
Old power station
We’ll leave a light on for ya’.
8th & New Hampshire… home sweet home
Home Sweet Home for real… ready for the weekend.

If it gets into the 60s this afternoon and the sun comes through for us, Rita & I will probably walk again – these windows of opportunity are too good to miss right now.

We got a call from the pharmacy, scheduling our second shots, so things are moving right along. We’re on for March 4th, which has been widely touted as a possible date for mayhem on the part of Q if President Biden were to give his State of the Union that night. Most of Congress, the Supreme Court, and of course the President and Vice-President, will be inside the Capitol whenever the address does take place, so it’s a prime target. March 4th is also the date the former guy is supposed to magically burst onto the scene as SuperPresident and something, something, all will be well once again for the proud boys and girls and their various cohorts. So! Vaccination day could be FIRE! I’ll just be happy if I don’t get ghastly ill again, but it is what it is… I’m gonna go through some things, but I knew what I signed up for. 😎 😷 🎤

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Wednesday Weather… page 216

Mass Street #lfk – Kim Smith 02/17/2021

Day 339 – 02/17/2021

Fine snow is still falling, seemingly forever now, and it’s a balmy 7º at 6am, up from the double-digit minus-zero temps of the past week. Kim walked over to Mass Street to take a few photos hoping nobody had been out yet, but the City is always on the J.O.B. The prettiest spot is our parking lot so I guess he could have stayed closer to home. After steady snowfall for the past 72 hours or however long it’s been, there’s only a couple of inches of white on everything as proof – quirky weather event.

The extended deep freeze is taxing resources like heat, light, and internet, and companies are doing rolling blackouts in an effort to balance the grid. We were without internet and TV for a few hours yesterday, but haven’t been affected otherwise yet. KU has temporarily shut everything down over on The Hill due to unpredictable power and cold temps, and others are doing the same.

I’ve been back in COVID mode again for the past few days – I’m calling it BANCS, for Body Aches, Nausea, Chills, and Sweats -and if I ever see the end of it I’ll… frankly be shocked. Sleep is the only thing that helps – I don’t feel all that much better when I wake up, but while I’m out I can escape what’s happening for a few hours. It will wear itself out at some point, hopefully soon.

And now our skinny snow is getting fatter and coming down like it means it – such a pretty world sometimes.

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Chillin’… page 212

Lac Simon, Duhamel, Qc, Canada

Day 331 – 02/09/2021

Took the day yesterday to chill… both figuratively and literally. Outside temps stayed frigid and it was snowy-ish all day, but toasty in here. We didn’t turn on TV until after 5pm and the peaceful quiet inside and out was curative. Had to process the Super Bowl game a little because I have such respect and a mama’s heart for Patrick Mahomes – the sad truth is that he showed up to play, as did the Bucs’ squad, but the Chiefs weren’t sure about the whole thing and Patrick, playing injured, tried to make up the difference. Hard to pull off two SB’s in a row, but damn, guys, you were there to try.

There was sweetness after dark last night to more than compensate – the Jayhawks beat OSU, in Allen Fieldhouse, and looked like a team while doing it. That’s fun right there, and we’ll take more of it – all their remaining games would be fine.

Note to future self: I’m fully aware of the complete inequities involved in the things we make important, but everything finally sifts down to life or death, joy or sorrow, love or its opposite, indifference. A ballgame, won or lost, can’t change the calamitous situations we face… but bread and circuses have always kept societies manageable and we willingly buy in for lack of a better plan.

Gonna be cold all week so I’ll just stay here and keep my little corner of the world cozy – that’ll be best for all concerned.

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Snow day… page 190

Day 306 – 01/15/2021

We have blowing snow and cold temps this morning, which calls for biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon & sausage, and a spa soak. Sometimes it’s good to be quarantined.

The information spigot is still gushing after the coup attempt, but with our anti-fascist forces, the true ANTIFA, on the J-O-B, my anxiety has taken a dip for now.

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Makes it easier to appreciate good stuff from my friend Steve…

FOUND IN COMMENTS: Fun nerd fact, the candy banana flavor we are all familiar with is based on the Gros Michel Banana. That was the original commercially available banana, which was nearly wiped out by a fungus in the 1950s. We then switched commercial bananas to the Cavendish which was resistant to the fungus and is now what everyone knows as the standard banana. Therefore, artificial banana flavor is based on a banana that almost no one born after 1958 has ever tasted.

As a 1947 baby, I must have known real bananas.

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New Year’s Day 2021… page 181

Day 292 – 01/01/2021

We woke up to fat snowflakes this morning and neighborhood flaws are being covered over hour by hour while I watch from my windows. Perfect way to observe a fresh start when everybody needs that more than anything, and now a little light is filtering through and making the snow look like fondant.

Our neighbors’ balcony

Kim says if he had more chutzpah than good sense he’d go down to the river and take pictures, but since we both know how that stacks up, he’s still here by the fire. Across the street, though, the little 3-year-old is out with his daddy, shoveling porches and sidewalks like a boss.

Our New Year’s Not-Rockin’ Eve was sweetly chill. Kim made Tortellini Bisque and garlic bread, we toasted to endings and beginnings, stayed up past midnight to escort 2020 out the door, shook the dust off our psyches, and burrowed our way into blessed sleep. We celebrated this morning with the Saturday breakfast on Friday, which will mean Sunday breakfast on Saturday, and a waffled-up Sunday morning. These rebel hearts will never be tamed…

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 01/01/2021

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Hey, it’s Monday… page 165

Day 274 – 12/14/2020

It was 16º out when Kim got up so he postponed his walk and turned the heat on for the first time – the fireplace has been handling it okay ’til now but the cold made it all the way inside overnight. It’s the height of privilege to sit here in my little world with a silent space heater keeping my toes warm while I commune with friends online, read the latest news long enough to raise my heart rate, sip my coffee, and stay outta everybody’s face while Kim fills the spa tub. My self-orbit affirms that we humans really aren’t worth all the effort.

Sweet surprise this morning – Katie (cousin) called to wish me a Merry Christmas, catch up a little, and ask for directions. Emily & Savannah (daughter & granddaughter) are in Dodge City, America, of all places, on their way west and want to find the farm where Katie’s and my grandparents homesteaded and where I grew up, along with the family cemetery. Confusion and hilarity ensued for 15 minutes as Katie, in Florida, typed directions into her phone while I reconstructed the miles in my head. I think we ended up with a usable map but I’m also pretty sure Savannah will Google Earth it and they’ll be golden. Can’t wait to hear the………. rest of the story. And hopefully see some pics – I don’t know when I last saw the old neighborhood.

A cool find this morning – we had relatives in Sheboygan, and after visiting there when I was 3 or 4 years old the name became a treasured part of my vocabulary. Sheboygan… so delicious to say.

Strong waves at the lakefront, Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Sheboygan, Wis.

Routine used to be a four-letter word to me but with only upheaval everywhere I’m seeing its better side, which is comfort. Today’s Monday so I know what we’re having for lunch and that The Voice 2020 wraps up tonight and tomorrow, which is Tuesday so I know what we’re having for lunch then, too. The Amazing Race finale happens Wednesday night, and I’m not bothered by the fact that I have no idea what food I’ll be stuffing into my face that day. Space… options… comfort.

Comfort… that would be this man right here. I posted his picture the other day holding an elderly patient who was crying for his wife. Everyday heroes taking it to the stratosphere.

This is my 274th day isolating, starting in mid-March. For every one of those days I’ve spent in my perfectly great space whining and fretting, with tiny forays to see Rita or keep a doctor’s appointment, this human being has been at the hospital. His license plate reads CVD HNTR. Dr. Joseph Varon, a 58-year-old physician and chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, has been hunting covid-19 for 270 days straight. He has not had a single day off since March. “I was meant to do this,” he says.

From The Washington Post: “Born and raised in Mexico City, and with specialties in pneumonology, intensive care, internal medicine and geriatrics, Varon was particularly well-equipped to wage war against a virus that has killed more than 290,000 Americans.” [Now over 300,000, post-WP publication.] His personal experiences, he said, prepared him for this moment.

In 1985, he was working as an intern in one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake leveled the building. He watched many of his colleagues die that day. “I have seen disaster up front all of my life,” he said. “The only thing that scares me is corona” — a disease he calls “short-term AIDS” — and its unpredictability.

Mid-interview, Varon had to duck out. He followed up with a text: “I just admitted 6 covid patients in the past 60 minutes,” he wrote. “It is absolute madness.”

As the medical staff at UMCC witnessed the psychological effects of isolation in patients, Varon instructed staff to wear large photographs of their faces hung around their necks, so that patients could recognize the person who was caring for them behind those “space suits.” One day, he went in to see patients with a picture of Brad Pitt attached to his personal protective equipment suit, eliciting laughter from even those who were the sickest.

“Other doctors stay behind the lines, they do not get their hands dirty,” said Tanna Ingraham, an ICU nurse at UMCC hospital, who was also hospitalized with covid-19 for 12 days. “He is totally hands-on and treats every single one of his patients as if they were his family members.”

Everyday heroes… 💙

Today, December 14, 2020, clusters of everyday heroes are gathering in State Houses across the country to do the right thing on behalf of democracy, speaking in the prevailing voice of the American people. We will owe them our future and our lives.

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