The process… page 140

Day 244 – 11/14/2020

Foggy and gray this morning. Great breakfast, and now I’m drinking iced coffee ’cause my tummy likes it better that way. Farmers Market is set up in the wet chill – I think they run until the week before Thanksgiving – so there are people back and forth. Life rolls on.

With everything that’s been going on in the past few weeks, I accidentally spaced off my fibromyalgia meds and brought on a nasty flare. By now I’m wondering if I’ve kicked myself out of remission through my own stupidity, which will truly disgust me. Hello purple gremlins, please play nice.

I lifted this First Nations poem from my friend Paige…

And these words from 89-year-old Dan Rather went straight to my heart…

“COVID is sadness. Profound sadness. It is suffering, and sacrifice. It is perhaps the greatest abdication of presidential responsibility in American history. I have seen a lot of death and tragedy in my lifetime. But this shakes me to the core, completely and irrevocably.”

Life is never linear, thank goodness… but some things move the graph so far they have to be processed in small chunks. That’s probably what the gray days are for…

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That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)… page 123

Day 220 – 10/19/2020

Yup, rollin’ on into another week. We finally started the fireplace last night – it’s been chilly for enough days that the building is absorbing some of the cold and the fire was soothing. Same this morning – high temp today of 46º, overcast and gray. But then… Mother Kansas takes over again and it’s the ol’ rollercoaster ride:

Over the past couple of weeks I’m sensing a sea change in the country… or I hope that’s what it is. I’m starting to allow a cautious optimism to permeate my thoughts and to maybe, possibly believe that truth and right will win out. It’s hard to get there, though, because for as long as I live – and I’m counting on another 30 years or so – the night of November 8, 2016 will never leave my consciousness. We knew that night what the nation was in for and all of it has come true, so never again will I blindly trust that things will work out for the best no matter what.

But… I’m starting to have hope with something under it and I do know what time it is.

Monday’s MickeyD day and my belly’s starting to tell me about it. So with Taco Tuesday and the big weekend breakfasts, that leaves just three lunches a week to get creative with and the routine, for two non-traditionalists, is comforting and fun. Also we’re lazy, yeah.

Something happy yesterday as I was bopping through my photo cache – a pic of John, taken I know not where nor when, but I love it. That smile turned my okay day stellar.

John says: Taken April 26, 2013, inside a Lockheed Super Constellation on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I’m thinking this might be the weirdest of Halloweirds we’ve experienced, so I’m bracing for the worst while opening a large porthole to the best. Mere days to wait, we hope, as we test our capacity for suspense, stress, and terror. Suck it up, fellow believers, we’re going to make it.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Fall weekends… page 106

Day 199 – 09/27/2020

Rainy misty Sunday… no breeze… all the red orange yellow green leaves silently blessing the falling water. And now here comes the wind, swaying the color bands out there in the great forest of East Lawrence, rain pounding down in earnest. Perfect. And me here with a belly full of breakfast and great coffee, water running in the spa tub. Most of the time real happiness is closer than breathing.

Today is my mom’s birthday and she’d be 93 years old now. She was three weeks short of 20 when I was born and I sort of helped raise her I think, before all my competition started showing up. She died suddenly in 1995 when she was 67, so we’ve been missing her for a long time. My iMac either dumped or hid several folders full of family pics and I realize as I’m searching this morning that all the photos of Mother are gone except this one, her high school senior pic. Maybe that’s okay for now… I can’t picture her at 93, so celebrating her at 18 is sweet.

I remember Mama…

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And life goes on… page 86

Day 169 – 08/28/2020

Temps have been in the 90s for days with a real-feel of 100+ but tomorrow should see a temporary end to all that and we’re here for it…

We spent a wonderful evening this week with Rita and mutual friends, socially-distanced at our fav Mexican restaurant in their big outdoor courtyard, and it was food for the soul. We’ve missed all of that. But hey, the college students are back in town and already nine Greek houses on The Hill are quarantined. I can’t stop looking at this graph… it took us about a month to get the hang of it, but we were stellar until the end of June when our Phase 3 reopening was in progress, and then the chart goes whack and by the first part of August, with the 20k student population moving in… not a happy picture, COVID-wise. The university is the lifeblood of Lawrence, so it’s discouraging to see the trend, and it means that time in the public domain will continue to be at a premium for the foreseeable.

In other news, there’s not much that’s fit to print, and the rest is mundane. We get up every morning and life happens while we do our best to be adult about it, with a fair success rate most days. As someone said recently, It Is What It Is.

It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s fine. 💋

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Summer rain… page 82

Day 150 – 08/09/2020

Crashing thunderstorms this morning and they’re hold-me-close comforting… like a big hug from the universe, not to wax too poetic. Feels just right.

I’m kicking stuff off my desktop while I watch the rain… the *keepers* always sort themselves by the end of the week:

Be like a teabag – find your strength when the heat’s on.

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

True story…

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

This too.

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

From a loved one… and the artist’s name is attached.

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

Memory-shot on FB – Wedding Day 07/25/04

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*

And the Daily Zen: To heal a wound, you need to stop touching it. Namasté…

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And Tuesdays, too… page 69

Day 131 – 07/21/2020

That reprieve we needed… it’s here, as of yesterday evening, and it’s pretty sweet. Temp of 72º this morning, and the only reason the humidity is in the upper 90s is that it’s still raining a little. We asked, we received, it feels like a benediction.

Decatur Man and I exchanged quick humor bytes this morning before he texted this in response to my question about his schedule:

“I’m in Covidland today.
I got floated here yesterday, and the unit manager, who’s a friend of mine, was crying because she’s so overwhelmed. 
So I picked up an extra shift today
(12-hr shifts), along with 2 of my 4200 (Oncology unit) buds. 
It’s terrible here these days.”

At this point, any united effort to halt the spread of the virus would be a godsend. Anything, any level of genuine concern, any solid indication that the naysayers are at least trying not to make it worse. It seems somehow unAmerican that the helpers are fair game and entirely expendable – our teachers, healthcare workers, and the countless others who keep the great world humming. I dislike the fact that everyone’s chances of survival seem to be linked to the common sense of others – the odds are not in our favor.

But Pool Man will be home soon from the Ponderosa and he’ll probably stay tucked in with me until the skies clear – he’ll have to get out and ride his bike or walk at some point, rainfall permitting. Life continues to be a desirable thing… irreplaceable and worth defending for everyone I love, however long it takes, so no whining here about anything but the flies in the honey.

Showers bring flowers. Reminds me of my grandma’s house.

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Rainy days and Mondays… page 68

Day 130 – 07/20/2020

It’s one of those Zen mornings when the sun comes up but hides behind dark clouds right away and everything changes. Kim had to vacate the PickleBall court ahead of the rain, so maybe we’ll pretend it’s still the weekend, have a big breakfast with the fresh salsa a friend delivered, and hit the spa tub again. I would not object. Rain is cool – it happens, literally, out of the blue, and always feels healing to me.

The process and experience of healing means different strokes for different folks, and I used to see it in my imagination as a fluid line moving forward, when it’s anything but that. You have to want to get there – the work, receptivity, and humility required don’t come cheap.

The isolation 2020 has imposed, in all directions, is proving to have some benefits, as most things in life do, however grim they may be at the time. It never hurts to take a step or two back and look things over from a new perspective, in fact it’s what keeps us from solidifying in place and letting life go on without us. The rain washed those thoughts in…

Weather forecast says showers could hang with us for a couple of days, so we’ll happily hang in…

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Hard rain gonna fall… page 64

Day 125 – 07/15/2020

Happening as we speak. The storm hit this end of town with wind gusts that knocked over our swivel rockers on the balcony, and now rain is falling straight down by the bucket. Rainy days… we’ve had a nice spa soak and Kimmers is on the other side of the wall playing blues/jazz/rock with one of his side chicks (of the 6-string description), and we might just roll through another day here.

Meeting challenges from all sides at once makes for a twitchy psyche at times, so a Zen dip in quiet waters is always welcome. It’s tapering off to an easy rain now, but it was timely and cleansing while it lasted.

Equilibrium, essential in any crisis, isn’t always easy to maintain. Visualizing events and their factions from a drone’s-eye view helps – getting above the fray – but it’s hard to stay up there when life-and-death is happening nonstop on terra firma – hard to divorce myself emotionally from the various upheavals going on when they all directly affect people I love more than life.

So yeah, the flipside of loving rain is the melancholy – the losses wrought by 2020 in its first half are feeling more permanent and the acceptance of them more difficult. But I’m a strange duck – an optimistic German with Irish angst – and it’ll be a good day because I will make it so. This beautiful life is not to be trifled with.

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The home front… page 61

Day 121 – 07/11/2020

Looks and feels stormy out, which makes me wish for lightning, thunder, and a downpour. This morning the humidity was the same as the temperature, both in the 80s, so a rain would be soothing.

I can feel the nostalgia creeping in as the days go by – missing places that were once home, wishing I could see family who are gone. I wouldn’t tell them what’s happening now, I’d just look at them for as long as I could and remember…

The current mood has no doubt been heightened by the fact that I’m in the process of winnowing my cache of 5,500 photos and graphics and I’m finding a lot of treasures.

Texted with John this morning. A couple of pertinent comments:

“According to the daily COVID-19 update email from Emory System Communications, we have exceeded the highest peak that we ever had back in April. Emory University Hospital, the flagship, and Emory Midtown hospital, which used to be Crawford Long Hospital many years ago when I moved to Atlanta, are both bursting at the seams on the regular floors and in their ICUs. The same is true at our facility. The ICU is so full of Covid patients that the step-down unit had to be turned into the ICU, and now even that is filling up with Covid patients. The MedSurg floors next to us are becoming Covid units as well, and the fly in the ointment there is that several of the nurses and one of the techs on that unit have become infected and are out on quarantine. Despite the system being close to bankruptcy for paying nurses, they are offering overtime and hazard pay again because they are desperate for people to come in and work.

“Everyone’s nerves are starting to fray and that is showing up more and more in the interactions among staff at work, and between various departments. There have always been tensions among particular departments, but some communication could barely be regarded as civil now. And I feel bad for the food delivery people, and the family members who drop items off at the one secured entrance to the hospital. The staff there are overwhelmed, and have started basically barking at anybody that walks through the door. It is taking on a very Lord of the Flies sort of feeling, as if we are all stuck on an island and only the strongest will survive, LOL.” – John Latta

I notice, of course, that my posts are better-received when I keep everything away from the edge, but real life isn’t like that. My edgy “knowing” today is that we are two distinct factions in the U.S. – and each believes the other is plotting to overthrow the government.

And that far too many world citizens still don’t grasp that a pandemic means life changes for everyone on the planet until the virus wears itself out or there’s a fix for it. End of story, one way or another.

No rain yet. But the day, with its weird light, isn’t over.

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Love staying in… page 55

Day 107 – 06/27/2020

A friendly rain shower was in progress when I got up at 6am, but between 4 and 5 o’clock there was a windstorm here with some sort of downburst and 2″ of rain. Our pretty little tree outside the east entrance is broken in half, our deck furniture was shuffled around and tumped over, and all the flowers on our balcony and the rooftop deck took a beating. We were blissfully unaware until after we’d enjoyed our Saturday Breakfast… but everything will recover, with the likely exception of the tree… and the rain is nice. The photo above is one of Kim’s hibiscus blooms – before the storm.

These are also BEFORE – the rooftop is looking more and more inviting this summer as improvements are done.

The view from the top…
Our broken tree
Gorgeous yesterday and will be again, as will the rest.

In other news, someone from one of the commercial offices in our building tested positive for COVID-19 and left without informing the other tenants and owners, after presumably sharing elevators and a mailroom with all of us. It’s easy for people to forget that they’re working in our house and basic courtesies apply.

Oh well, here’s another happy lil’ hibiscus …

EDIT: The tree looks hopeful. 😎

EDIT: Weather Service says Lawrence got between 4 and 5 inches of rain from the storm.

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Cocooning… page 54

Day 100 – 06/20/2020

The process of returning to the social realities of life will be one of jerks and starts… and there are all kinds of jerks out there. We had to take our car to the KC dealership for service this week so we made a lunch date with our friends Seth and Adam who live nearby. It couldn’t have been more wonderful to reconnect and catch up with them, but the lunch experience left much to be desired, primarily because in a metro area where COVID-19 numbers are still rising, none of the restaurant staff were wearing masks.

We chose the upper outdoor deck, but the tables weren’t thinned out so other parties were in close proximity… and it’s freaky to have a waitperson walk up to your high-top and repeatedly poke her face next to yours. The proper course of action would have been to pick another restaurant after we stepped inside and saw what the situation was, but Midwesterners are trained to be so damned polite it didn’t even occur to us – and quite possibly it’s the same over much of the city. At our car dealership, by contrast, everyone wears masks, and the person who handles the car adds gloves. Just good business these days.

It was comforting to see Lawrence again where there’s no prevailing cavalier attitude toward the various crises assailing us all – most people here, ESPECIALLY those with eating establishments, wear masks; embrace the presence and contribution of a diverse ethnic population; are liberal-minded when it comes to the care and feeding of other humans; and are aware and in favor of constitutional laws governing American society. I fear KCKS is a tad too close to the hee-haw over there.

My patience for fools is on hiatus – no fact, emotion, or consequence moves them off their chosen mark. Zero tolerance on social media if they step onto my timeline and unload their predictable weaponry on me – if I know you I might go 3 strikes, otherwise out the airlock you go. Today as we pass the hours before Tulsa kicks into gear, wondering how it’s all going to go down, fools loom large – they aren’t known for clear-headed decision making under pressure. Hoping for a non-conflagrational outcome.

Kim was out on his bike at 5:45 this morning, shooting at the fog, which strikes me as therapeutic and apropos.

Bridge across the Kaw – Lawrence to NoLaw
A skinny window on Mass Street

Photo credits: Kim Smith 06/20/2020

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At home… page 49

Day 71 – 05/22/2020

That’s one of Kim’s side chicks up there, the one he falls asleep with in his arms most evenings while we’re watching TV. The blonde Strat is another – she kissed him back the first time he put his hands on her. No jealousy here, my life has a soundtrack and all is well.

It’s been pouring rain this morning, with lightning and thunder, so we’re happy lil’ cave dwellers. Kim’s plants on the balcony and the rooftop garden are loving it and so are we. There’s something about the arrival of dawn followed by rapidly-increasing darkness that thrills my dreamy soul. When you add the drama of a thunderstorm, the day becomes memorable.

Since a rainy day is automatically a “day off” in this house, there will be less progress in evidence than usual – I feel I’ve already overreached by jotting a diary entry. Everything I need is right here, so Friday Zen it is, kids. Brighten the corner where you are!

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Staying in… page 42

Day 54 – 05/05/2020

It’s another fresh new morning and the dew was still on the very first hibiscus bloom when Kim snapped the pic. Workers are busy jackhammering the concrete out of our underground-parking ramp, but even they can’t disturb my Zen because…

I accomplished very little yesterday, but it was gray and rainy all day and Mondays are like that, even when every day is Monday. Or Saturday. Hope springs eternal on a sunny Tuesday, though, so we’ll see how it goes with these two little tasks I’ve been kicking around.

It’ll be a good day – thus spake Pollyanna. And when the noise stops, we’ll move out here…

A sweet hello from Kim’s morning walk…

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SQ Diary… page 3 1/2

Self-Quarantine Day 6.5 – 03/18/2020

Kansas weather changes can give a rookie whiplash, and true to no form whatsoever, the day has turned balmy. The sun broke through the cloud cover for a dazzling minute, and the air feels friendly at 63º.

Kim rode his bicycle to Stabby Dillons for a quick backpack full of groceries, and more vodka from On The Rocks. He isn’t wearing nitrile gloves yet on these errands, but… he’s quick and doesn’t inhale. 😂

His PickleBall buddy and actual friend Marcelo called and said he’d be over to go for a walk, so they’re out there somewhere away from the madding crowds and 6 feet away from each other (ha!) while they talk nonstop. Good medicine.

With the door to the outside world standing open, trees leafing out, birds singing, the approaching gloom has been swept out of the house again. C’monnn, spring.

Where it (officially) stands today… we’re in one of those counties bordering the red one. So yeah, stayin’ in… stayin’ alive…

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The quiet…

Kim left the house before 7:00 this morning in rainy darkness, giving himself time to stop at the hospital for routine labs before going out to the Sports Pavilion to walk laps and play PickleBall. I could have fallen asleep again after his goodbye, but the thought of coffee and quiet drew me out of my warm nest.

Sitting here watching the rain fall and the light slowly change, a memory: I once had a little boy who, around two and three years old, could sometimes be found sitting in his dad’s big closet in the dark with his blanket over his head. Maybe it was too noisy for him out in the big spaces, but as an old soul, I think he just needed time alone to process everything.

As that little boy’s mom, our loft space is my closet, the rain is my dark, and the quiet is my blanket. I totally get him. Some of us are blessed with the affliction of feeling too much, so the defenses have to be mighty.

The kid in the closet figured things out in fine form. The mama, who’s slower on the uptake, still works on it in the quiet dark. 💙

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