Forward… page 188

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/13/2021

Day 304 – 01/13/2021

There used to be a woman in my neighborhood who could be counted on to take a stand on all things political. She was annoying, eclectic in the causes she lobbied for, firmly ensconced in the party of her choice, and gave zero fucks whether anyone agreed with her or not. I have become that woman.

I really have no clue what’s coming next. Will Donald Trump’s assault on democracy be halted in time to salvage our way of life… or will his loyal army of MAGAs, Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys, Qs, et.al., be allowed to repeatedly wreak havoc until it’s all in shambles?

Since I don’t know the answer, and I have no power to affect the outcome, I try to look away to cleanse the psychic landscape. Not easy to do when there’s nothing I can stand on daytime TV except news, and my brain still skitters off the page when I try to read. Twitter and Facebook convos center around current events, making the general chaos unavoidable there. And I bring it here to my diary on a daily basis because it’s what’s happening and little else, and the harsh reality of it never leaves my thoughts. Our loft has been my world for almost a year now, and it will go on that way until Kim and I are able to get vaccinated and the numbers in Douglas County stay negligible. Gets kinda same-same all up in here sometimes, making it a challenge not to grab the remote and see what’s happening… drop in on Facebook, see who’s saying what… join the Twitter choir lamenting the state of things. But I read an article this morning stating that older people are dealing with the pandemic and political woes better than other demographics because it ain’t our first rodeo. We’ve seen some things, we’ve gone through some things, we know we’ll go through more before we’re cut loose from here. Just the facts.

The loft across the hall is under renovation and they’re removing ceramic tile today with what sounds like jackhammers. My *ears* will be muted for the duration and Kim will have to communicate with me via sign language. Or simply SIGNS.

History Note: The process of impeaching Donald Trump for the second time is underway in the House.

So… computer games it is, then! Calgon, take me awaaaaaaay!!!

Sheltered behind those bricks on the left, Mama was still peacefully sleeping.

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Addendum… page 184b

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/2021

From my dear friend Philip Grecian on the disintegrating loyalty to Donald Trump among the ranks:

“Yes, Pence filled in where Trump wouldn’t…making decisions (it was Pence who called in the National Guard) and issuing orders. This does not mean that he would make a good president one day. It simply means that he did what a reasonably sane person with a position of authority would do under the circumstances.

“It appears now that this is the end of Trumpism. Thank heaven. Oh, there will be hangers-on who sit outside in their trailer parks drinking Budweiser and raging about the gummint… but we’ve always had them. For a brief, horrible, five years or so, they had some power and made our lives hell. There will always be people who make our lives hell. Until the day we die and it no longer matters. But these people are quickly losing their national influence. We’ll be dealing with them awhile longer… and we may be hearing from them again in 2024. But for now they’ve been weakened… For now, even many of their supporters have seen who they really are. For now, they will be fragmented. We can help the process by seeing to it that the Cruzes and Giulianis and Millers… and Trumps… are never again in a position to try to bring the country down. And then wait for the next monster to come slouching toward Bethlehem.”

I hope Phil’s right. But the venom hasn’t drained out of this crowd yet and they’re wallowing in the mud of their loss, halted mid-tantrum with no place to go. Thinking, feeling human beings want this over with. Done. But never forgotten, ever, or America will head right back to kakistocracy because it’s the path of least resistance – you don’t even have to think, and after a while you apparently don’t feel much of anything, either.

And now Congress is adjourned until after the inauguration, so who’s watching the baby while they’re away? Dozens of legislators called for Donald Trump’s immediate removal from office… and then went home. Somebody has to be the GOAT who gets him out of our house before he kills us all. If the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution isn’t utilized to accomplish that, then it’s just taking up space in a musty old document and might as well be jettisoned because unless we’re idiots the country will never reach the point of needing it again. OMG, what am I saying… ? Yeah. Better keep it.

And now it’s time to use it.

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Insurrection… page 184

Day 298 – 01/07/2021

My overriding emotion this morning on awakening to the reality of yesterday’s chaos is one of sadness – the inconceivable has happened in our nation’s Capitol and life in the United States is broken. Those who know Donald Trump told us in 2016 that the story would end this way – and the one prediction yet to manifest itself is that he will trigger a thermonuclear device on his way out the door. Anybody know where those codes are?

Reports say four people died in yesterday’s terrorist attack on our Capitol, same number as when Benghazi happened – there will be endless probes, hearings, and recriminations, right? Lumpy will sit for eleven straight hours of testimony before this is over, right? Justice will prevail after the great unwashed stormed the barricades, scaled the walls, shattered historic windows, smeared blood on statuary, urinated liberally everywhere, ripped nameplates off the walls, sat in personal offices and at the dais of the Senate with their feet up, taking photos of paperwork, walking away with items, fomenting insurrection with every act, right? Justice will prevail. I guess the Capitol police and reinforcements were saving their rubber bullets and tear gas in case any Black people showed up – in fact, had this event had a color key the Black version would have looked like this:

For the people inside, the roar of the mob came first, then the sounds of doors and windows being breached. A few highlights of the day:

How it started… with Chamber assistants bringing the Electoral College ballot boxes. Staff had the presence of mind to grab the boxes when the mob broke through.
Teach… your children well.
Just an ordinary Wednesday in America. Little troll behind Wolfman Jack has already been fired. Wore his work badge to the riot.
Dropping in…
That’s a big hammer, son, whatcha’ got in mind??
History smashed.
How’s your aim, senators?
Close your eyes for naptime, kids, it’ll be over soon.
Democratic representatives comfort each other.
Arrest this asshole.
And this one.
I also saw confederate flags yesterday – explain that, America.
America has lost the plot.
If these are your heroes, unfriend me, unfollow me, block me out of your life – I don’t know you.

On another note, remember COVID? Almost 4,000 people died in this country yesterday as a result of it. My test came back negative, but since I still feel like dog shit and have all the symptoms of the virus I’m gonna stay right here ’til morale improves. Sense of smell and taste are gone and the sweats and body aches are like a rollercoaster ride. Maybe the swab has to actually tickle your brain in order to get the goods, who knows? It’s a plus if I don’t have it, especially for Kim since there’s no way not to expose him – in which case, this feels like something that needs its own vaccine.

But that was a bridge too far for survivalists.

Meanwhile, the Flight Attendants’ Union says their employees will not staff planes on which the terrorists from the unmasked superspreader try to fly home. Good luck on the DC streets, MFs.

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Touching the past… page 167

Day 276 – 12/16/2020

Kinda frosty this morning – Kim’s hands were icicles when he got back from walking, despite gloves. Now Frosty the Snowman and gingerbread are on my mind, not because I want to DO ALL THE THINGS!! again or go back to an era when that was a big part of life… I just want to remember it all for a while. There’s very little from those times that remains untouched, unsullied, unbroken, and I need to pay homage to that remnant of Christmas joy.

The concept of *HOME* is extra-heavy on my mind today after hearing news from Dodge City, America, my old proving ground… (back-arrow returns to blog post)

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/i-do-not-feel-safe-kansas-gop-mayor-resigns-after-n1251334?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma&fbclid=IwAR0UVHatp9DkrPhRDOZo_PJVVVSCbb_m09DDzLdm_TykEPPZWaqbBx-8Oow

Things like this shouldn’t happen to people like Joyce and Bill Warshaw, end of story… and revealingly, the threats and ugliness are coming primarily from the church people. Warshaw’s Men’s Clothing Store was part of Dodge City from before my memory and I knew Bill’s parents, Max & Dona, who contributed to the life of the town in positive, memorable ways. America’s idiots are destroying what’s best in the country, and Dodge City is losing two stellar citizens. The sadness that grows from the giant rip in the fabric of our society feels like death, illustrated in macabre fashion by the relentless toll from the virus. Things are being carelessly shattered, with no avenues left open for eventual wholeness, no provision for healing. That’s scary – it kind of says there’s no way back. And after some of the comments I read, the only way I would ever want to see the town again is in my rearview mirror, which makes me sad – Ford County was home to the Wagners from 1905 when my grandpa, 19 years old, rode the train from Indiana to Dodge City, Kansas, bought a cow and some provisions, and walked the twelve miles west to his claim. That whole part of the country is in my DNA… but thanks bunches to my mom, the extremism and racism never made it past my skin. People we thought we knew are ripping their masks off now… and we see the faces of strangers looking back at us.

When this is your aim and you’re virtually run out of town on a rail for it…

We so easily lose sight of the most important things:

What was the pivotal moment when half of America’s population stopped sparing a thought for the other half? Was there some event? Has it been a gradual loosening of moral pinnings, too subtle for notice until here we are? Or were we always like this but never had to admit it until now?

This morning I’m saying thank you to every person working in a medical capacity during the pandemic, many of them since March – for hanging in, staying on the line, shift after shift, week after week, month after month, while they watch people die in spite of every effort to keep that from happening. They have my full focus through it all, and my arms are always around them. I’m grateful that they haven’t yet abandoned us to our own misery, although they must be sorely tempted every hour. I thank them for being who they are and doing what they do, head-on, straight through, because the task is in front of them, they’re trained for it, and they each started out caring mightily about ALL of it. I’m sorry the ignorant stubbornness of so many humans is kicking the care out of them for now. I’m sorry an already impossible job has been complicated and escalated by humans, the race they’re working to save. I’m sorry this has cost so many of them their own lives… I’m so sorry.

Each square in this solid mosaic is a photo of a life lost to COVID-19 in the medical community.

Relative to Mayor Joyce Warshaw’s experience with the anti-mask contingent, this would be my recommendation in all such situations:

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Getting thankful… page 149

Day 255 – 11/25/2020

Kim went over to the barbershop at 7:00 this morning for a haircut and brought me a bagel from Einstein’s, always a happy surprise. Everything bagel with veggie cream cheese. Pretty heavenly. Cold gray day but sunnier in here for whatever reasons. Gonna try to keep it that way. This week’s reminder to give thanks is right on time.

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Early thoughts…

I’ve been up for a few hours now, long enough to start processing last night’s events and what they’ll mean. My ruminating, reactions, and responses are still all over the place, so for today I’m letting social media friends help me turn it all into words, and there’s no reason to soft-pedal anything at this point – that ship has sailed.

Langston Hughes, who grew up just down the street from where I live now.

What’s looking likely is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will eventually win the White House, Dems will hold the House, the GOP will remain ensconced in the Senate as obstructionists for at least two more years, and the Supreme Court will continue as an enigma unto itself.

But truth learned can’t be buried, not anymore.

Truth…

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Breakthrough… page 96

Day 188 – 09/16/2020

It finally happened. Not because energy welled up from within and burst through my fingertips, but because disgust overwhelmed my ennui at last. Yesterday I studied the smears, smudges, and assorted rubble in front of me until I found myself on my feet, transferring everything to another surface while I decontaminated my desk and surroundings. Today the clean expanse glows, and holds only one extraneous item – so far. My monitor is free of dust and spit-takes. The 3-layer cart next to me has been unloaded, sanitized, purged, and repopulated with nothing but the priority goods, based on need or the shot of Happy they deliver.

It’s cause to wonder what else could happen right under my nose. Will I wake up one morning to discover that the WTF Basket has been whittled down to a sentimental note and an invoice for the t-shirt I really am going to send back? Will the two bins containing The Dread Unsorted find their way into the light and be forced to give up their secrets? My carelessly-hoarded stockpile of duplicate photos, bad photos, totally unnecessary photos… the ever-accumulating email… my series of I Need To Clean That Out folders… will all of that magically come up missing some glad morning? Stranger things have happened.

Since progress and success are not without price, I paid for my random foray into the real world with sciatic pain off the charts, but in my own masochistic way it was worth it. Might see what else I can get into… not sure if it’ll be instigated by ambition, boredom, being grossed out, or all of the above, but anything that moves the story forward is acceptable currency.

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Seasons… page 91

Day 181 – 09/09/2020

It’s misty, windy, and chill again this morning and it rained before dawn. The showers may stick around for a bit, and our highest forecast temp through next Wednesday is 83º so the times they are a changin’.

The seasonal transition to fall is the best, followed by winter-to-spring… everything seems to come ’round right, with new air, different foliage, the desire to FEEL it all again. And even though autumn has delivered a heavy load of melancholy since October 1985, it magically renews me every year like clockwork. In the swirl and murk of multiple crises bearing down on us, my spirit’s been waking me up the past few mornings with a jolt of happiness… anticipation even. Hello, soft muse, I’ve missed you.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

Since there are good and positive aspects to every experience I’m consciously seeking them out, and one I’m happily aware of is the opportunity I’ve had to get healthy. Among other things I could whine about, I took a doctor-prescribed Rx for about eighteen months that altered my body chemistry or some such for the next three years, and now I have things almost squared away again which produces a fierce sense of gratitude. As recently as March, shortly after we started isolating, I had to give up coffee, of all slings and arrows, but with the advent of cooler weather I braved a trial mug and discovered that we’re friends again. If that wouldn’t make a girl feel better in September, you have to wonder what it would take.

Fall is about endings so it inevitably holds a hint of sadness for most of us, but its quiet, gentle beauty provides a store of firewood for whatever winter brings. I have a nice little stash going here, gathered from my desk as I watch the leaves change from one day to the next. The arrival of a new season is giving me hope… life goes on, the planet keeps turning, things we couldn’t possibly bear up under have happened and we’re still standing, so my hat’s in the ring until the large female vocalist lets us know differently.

Under everything, always, is this…

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Staying in… page 43

Day 55 – 05/06/2020

I wandered into a beat-down yesterday and I’m still processing the whole thing. I clicked a notification from a friend’s page and commented in the thread… my comment was repeated back to me in a version that was the direct opposite of what I said… I got a heavy-duty lecture on military moms and moms who care about oh-so-many things… and shamed for caring overly-much about John and his fellow nurses around the country, which wasn’t part of my comment… and then I was immediately unfriended by both her and her husband. These are people I’ve known for years, and I didn’t know we were on opposite sides of the war until I was drop-kicked like I was hot.

I realize I’m the Rachel Maddow of my timeline – I’ll render you insensate with the facts surrounding things I care desperately about. And I’m sure I need a reminder once in a while that there are other things to think about… but from someone who loves me, okay?

I wish someone had loved Donald John Trump enough in his lifetime, ever, from womb to tomb, to help him grow into a real human being. I wish someone loved him enough now to tell him the truth in ways he could process – it would be a mercy. In my first marriage I had two mothers-in-law, the backup being the aunt whose house we lived in, and the early years were made more difficult by her need to control her world. No one could please her and she was miserable – afraid of everything, turned in on herself, shriveled by what she perceived as lack of love in her life – and it made her a tyrant. I had Lumpy’s number from jump – I know him.

The universe feels like it’s icing over, some days… and then I come back here to blog world and Facebook and my friends on Twitter where some people have taken the time to know me, and it’s clear that they get me. We’re on the same page, for one thing, but it’s relationship that makes the difference. We care about each other and it changes us, even if we can’t really change the world we live in. It would be snazzy if the people who lurk on timelines waiting to pounce showed up in neon, but life’s never that simple, so we should just tell each other the truth at the outset and get on with it. What are we afraid of?

Welp, that’s how that was, moving on. The sun’s shining, it’s a beautiful morning, and we woke up alive, so what’s not to like? Don’t worry, I’m not gonna start singing…

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Gimme Shelter… page 28

Day 34 – 04/15/2020

Would THAT be far enough away? ^^^

Likely no internet, so yeah… maybe. We have the technology, but does it have us? Or were we possibly more human before we knew everything?

Make it four-and-a-half and counting…

It’s in the 30s, but we have sunshine this morning, Kim’s had his walk and brought me a bagel… so c’mon, coffee, let’s DO this…

… even your own.

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SQ Diary… page 15

Self-Quarantine Day 20 – 04/01/2020

Slept more hours than not last night, so there’s that. I’ve awakened my Sleeping Sciatic by spending most of my time at my computer, because sure, why not, so it has a say in everything right now including in the middle of the night. Would it kill me to at least FEEL good?

Haven’t yet worked my way past the basic divide in the pandemic issue… one side says it’s about people, the other says it’s about money. What’s being done to our medical community here in the U.S. is heartbreaking, infuriating, crazy-making. All I can do for now is try not to inflict myself unnecessarily upon the world until I can swallow the deeply-entrenched cruelty that’s been awakened in our society – lots of awakenings this morning, huh…

Maybe I just need to cut ’em slack? This from my friend Mylène AF in Quebec:

“Reading some people’s posts, I realize how many have not grasped the severity of this situation. The fact that we are in a time of exceptional circumstances where NONE of the old rules apply and only exceptional measures will do. Everything has changed forever. The world we knew before is gone. Let it go. Those rules don’t apply anymore. Move through the stages of grief if you must. There is a definitive before and after line here.”

**********************************

Jeff Bezos isn’t intellectually challenged, though, so this makes no sense. It strikes this farm girl as a no-brainer… If almost 9 million dollars per hour rolling onto your side of the ledger isn’t enough to take care of the people who make that money for you, there will never be enough. It will never happen. The poor(er) among us will never be cared for, ever. Today there is no one poorer among us than Jeff Bezos – I wonder if he’s even slightly embarrassed about telling us that.

But perspective helps. Kim’s been sending lush guitar notes through the house for the past hour and now he’s making the Saturday breakfast on Wednesday – he knows how to get me to make actual food part of my day, and the flavors are a mood-lifter – sloooow food, with the love cooked in, as my sweet cousin Lonnie Joe always said. Feeling better already.

So yeah, some food, more coffee, sunshine, birds, balcony, Kimmers is going for a walk after breakfast… I’ll accomplish one thing I can point to as participation in living… and we’ll find ourselves at the end of another day. We have only so many chances to get this right, by which I mean everything. We’ll either figure out how to help each other and survive as a species or we won’t, end of story.

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SQ Diary… page 8

Self-Quarantine Day 13 – 03/25/2020

Some sunshine this afternoon and a chance for fresh air, with the balcony door open. Kim’s heading off on a bike ride.

Our friend Ryann brought us two jars of Tacos Jalisco salsa from a trip out west, so Kim made the Saturday Breakfast for HumpDay. It tastes as good on Wednesday as Saturday, and we had a nice spa soak after because why not?

Still coughing, feel like an old sock, but life goes on. Everything’s relative… sooo very relative now.

Talked with John this morning ahead of his return to the hospital tomorrow. Lots of things we aren’t saying… and that’s okay. We are all here —-> X … and we’ll deal. He has a job to do and his skills are sharp. The mama’s job is to sit with it, and to hope he and his colleagues will have the tools they need.

2:30pm. Kim will get back here by four and we’ll sit outside while the temp holds. We’ll chop vegetables for the steamer, we’ll have a couple of drinks, we’ll catch up on whatever we haven’t watched yet… we’ll say words and think thoughts… and it will be nighttime and we’ll shut it all out to await another day.

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What scares you?

So what really scares you? Not BOOGA-BOOGA pants-crapping scared, where your skin crinkles up and makes little screeching noises with sparklers on the ends.  More like what are you AFRAID of … that fundamental sense of dread that a cog will drop into a random sprocket somewhere and life will change.  Fear of loss is a keen motivator — what else drives us with that same force?

But what if life changed and you lived through that?  And what if it happened over and over ’til you realized how brave you were and then you just started doing things and saying things you didn’t know you could do and say?  What if people didn’t get any of that and you didn’t care?  What if you just started kicking ass, including your own, and life really did change and you wouldn’t change it back if you had the chance?  WHAT IF?  Not the question I want to be asking myself when I’m gowning up for the choir eternal.  What if I’d done all those things I knew I could do?  What if I’d let myself be who I knew I was?  And to quote Captain Obvious, what if I’d just been nicer?  Regret, let’s not have to go there.

Holy balls, I’ve survived too long to let fear force me back into the box, and by now he’s like an old friend anyway, sort of.  You know, keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your powder dry.

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.”  ~Dawna Markova

*A previously published piece, lightly edited for re-post.

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A list of happy…

***Another spring flashback for new friends…

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 hot shower and day-jams fresh from the dryer

French Open in full murmur on TV

Cold milk, crunchy cereal, and a flawless banana

Endless selection of great art on the internet, to be transformed into jigsaw puzzles that let my brain freewheel in a world of words and ideas, sometimes for hours (I was always a fairly cheap date)

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

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

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

A soothing pedi

Projects that lay hold of my attention and validate the future

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

NOT THE END

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The Unbearable Lightness of Reading

A marathon it’s been, the best kind – three books in quick succession, by three distinctive authors, and connected by one unbroken muscular thread – The People, as they have always called themselves – and their existence from time primeval.

First in the “series,” entirely by happy chance, was MAUD’S LINE, written by Margaret Verble and published in 2015, the fictionalized story of a young Cherokee girl becoming a woman in 20th Century Oklahoma. Its contemporary portrayal of a time just past hooked itself into my imagination from – hallelujah, page one – and delivered me directly to book two.

Which – I assume you’re taking notes – was LAKOTA WOMAN, by Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes, published in 1990, and not fictionalized at all. The author was active and instrumental in the Bureau of Land Management and American Indian Movements of the 1970s and 80s with Russell Means, Dennis Banks, so many others, and her gritty recounting of all the seemingly unrightable wrongs that have altered The People’s reality since the White Guys got here burned itself into my consciousness, not to put too fine a point on it.

So when both a friend and an esteemed nephew recommended Annie Proulx’s BARKSKINS within hours of each other it was clear that lil’ Ms. Serendipity had dropped in again and placed a shiny object in my path. Off the top, let me quickly address a few negative comments I’ve seen: that perhaps Ms. Proulx’s focus is…unevenly focused…that she hammers, that she commits “stylistic infelicities.” Yes, I caught all of that, recognized it, owned it and read on. The scope of the story is so expansive, so unexpectedly gripping, that the combined weight of all the odd little imperfections adds up to less than that of a feather – notable by virtue of existence, but in the end taking nothing from the whole.

Annie Proulx, author of THE SHIPPING NEWS, for which she won a Pulitzer in 1994; BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, for which she won the prize called “We’re turning your book into a movie;” along with at least a baker’s dozen more titles, has at 80 years of age turned out an epic about trees, of all things, that kept me absorbed from first page to last. Aside from her colossally amazing book, I love that she’s even older than I am, has been described as “sassy,” and knows how to write like a mutha.

Annie takes us from 1693, starting with the French in what became Canada, to 2013 in what is still Canada – with side trips to London, New Zealand, what we now know as the continental United States, and points everywhere around the globe, the entire saga stemming from one family line and diverging throughout multiple others, from the French, to The People, to the Dutch, et.al. And the wonder is that she makes us care about the majority of those characters, even though we sense they are soon to be swept from the stage to make room for succeeding generations, each more fascinating than the last.

I like big books and I cannot lie, and at more than 700 pages BARKSKINS was too short. Annie Proulx knows how to put us at the scene of the tale with a lovely economy of language; how to scatter engaging and/or redeeming characters into all parts of the story, avoiding what could have become a tedious litany; how to illuminate dilemmas that we would downplay if left on our own. If that shedding of light is “hammering,” we’re clearly in need of a butt-load more of it – the denuding of nearly all this planet’s original forests is but one ongoing dilemma of many.

BARKSKINS indelibly lays out the sins of the past and their consequences for humanity while also serving up reasons for hope, that essential tool of survival. Hang onto it, you future humans, and may it save your hide since most of your forebears have never carried, nor do they (we) carry, their (our) fair share of responsibility for what your present might look like.

As William T. Vollmann wrote in his New York Times book review:

“Now our own world is likewise fading, thanks to climate change. The root cause of our self-impoverishment is thoughtfully teased out in BARKSKINS, whose best line may well be this: ‘My life has ever been dedicated to the removal of the forest for the good of men.'”  – June 17, 2016

***It’s summer re-run time and this is a piece that was published in another forum a couple of years ago.

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