Go ahead and hope…

Spring

spring’s here too soon, yo

but loving it is not wrong

makes hope live again

JSmith 03/23/2017

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It all fits…somewhere…

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Immersed in my current obsession again this morning, another big jigsaw puzzle on my desktop. It’s one way to kick my brain cells into gear before noon, along with about a gallon of coffee, and the sunshine outside my windows.

Obsessions, like the rest of life, can add to our education if we’re paying attention. For today’s wake-up challenge I chose one with a semi-tough blend of colors and upped the percentage of oddball pieces, as well as the total number, and as I’m working away my stream of consciousness goes something like “Okay, that one might work, just try it. Wow, so close. So many pieces, but it’s one per spot, focus until you see it. Look for one at a time, just one, but if you run across one that goes somewhere else grab it,” which taken together strikes me as a rolling metaphor for life.

I give the pieces names: one that’s concave on all four sides is a squishy, the fun pieces are toys, if there’s a bubble on top with upraised arms and a wide bottom that’s a snow angel, the ones with droopy or proud tabs come with a ‘toon-peen warning, like that. And there’s always an empty spot that doesn’t seem to have a match anywhere on the board, but toward the end, there it is. It doesn’t look like it could be right until you drop it in place…and then it’s a perfect blend. Subtlety is so easily missed…

Guess that was Granny Smith’s little homily for the day, make of it what you will. But do keep your eyes open for opportunities and sweet link-ups that can change the whole picture, and I wish you well with solving the puzzle that’s currently in front of you. MUAH!

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Doesn’t apply, just saying…*

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when it’s down to just

two pancakes topped with cherries

t-shirts are the shiz

JSmith 02/13/2017

* Some days are all about the corn.

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Facts of Life

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move it or lose it

the experts are not kidding

leaves not to return

JSmith 02/04/2017

 

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Be like a tree…

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Image: Lars van de Goor

Be like a tree, and let the dead leaves drop.

~ Rumi

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Sacred Sound of the Universe

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Constant Reader will remember my brutal fall on the ice in January and the mystifying soundtrack that has inhabited my skull ever since. After nine months’ time, during which the music has morphed from one personality to another, and countless days when I’ve found myself astonished that Kim can’t hear it because it’s so overwhelming and all-enveloping, I’ve finally stumbled across an answer that resonates with me.

It’s a passage from THE NIX, by Nathan Hill, in a scene from the tumultuous 1960 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Allen Ginsberg has seated himself cross-legged in the grass, palms raised to the universe, listening, as the hordes of protesting flower children stream past him toward an unseen ambush.

“He wants to soothe them. ‘The way forward is like water.’ But he knows it isn’t good enough, isn’t radical enough to calm the wild appetite of the young. And so Ginsberg strokes his beard, closes his eyes, settles into his body, and answers in the only way he can, with a deep bellow from the bottom of his belly, the great Syllable, the sacred sound of the universe, the perfection of wisdom, the only noise worth making at a time like this: Ommmmm.

“He feels the hot holy breath in his mouth, the lifted-up music breath released from his lungs and his gullet, from his guts and heart, his stomach, his red blood cells and kidneys, from his gallbladder and glands and the long spindly legs he sits on, the Syllable issues from all these things. If you listen quietly and carefully, if you are calm and you slow down your heart, you can hear the Syllable in everything – the walls, the street, the cars, the soul, the sun – and soon you are no long chanting. Soon the sound settles into your skin and you are simply hearing the body make the sound it has always made: Ommmmm.”

The music inside my head is simply the sound my body has always made, and when I’m intentional about calming every cell and listening it sounds like Ommmmm, the sacred sound of the universe. It’s a G-major and I would deeply miss it now if it ever went away…

 

 

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The Art of Humaning

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Like the world outside our doors the place I call home is endlessly quirky. Our daily lives are first off influenced and impacted by the commercial entities under us and the wheels of commerce send a hum upward through the girders that assures us the world is on track, a nap would be good. Above the hum, on floors three through five, independent thought rules. We’re a collection of young to old, friendly to cold, liberal to conservative, social butterfly to I-vant-to-be-alone, moneyed to who knows/cares – the quintessential microcosm in so many directions. A neighbor-sighting is rare for me, possibly because I vant to be alone.

Consensus is often hard to come by in the governance of the building, inside and out, concerning the simplest of matters. Many tears can be spilled over a paint color while the landscaping dies clean away. We are know-it-alls and trust-me-I-know-nothings. A lawsuit is for some the quickest route to satisfaction, while for others patient thoughtful communication is the only way to go. Some are quick to take offense, some know how to deflect it, and some truly do not give a shit.

We’re a civil bunch – in the hallways, the mailroom, on the street, we’re nice AF, voluntarily forgetting what he said about…what she told her…where they stand on… Life requires it because humaning in close quarters is deadly after all the civility leaks out.

Wherever two or three are gathered, there will be the basic building blocks of personality among us and those elements have to continuously mesh in order to prevent societal meltdown, whether on a grand or intimate scale. A spinning globe scabbed over with layers of bloodied inhabitants has no alternative but to stop being stupidly selfish and help each other. It really is that simple.

Nothing about our particular living experience is new, different, or unique to the world – this is who humans are and we will never align perfectly with each other. But forget perfect, we have to collectively make the whole thing work or let it all go down the sewer – we’re out of options. Will we figure it out? Will we keep ourselves from erasing all life from the earth? Or will we hold out for what we want, damn the consequences forever?

 

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A sister I didn’t know I had…

Sally Field, who is approximately my age, struck me as overly adorbs in her Gidgety phase and her Flying Nun embarrassed me – such a dippy premise. She went on, of course, to conquer immensely stronger roles, but I realize now that it was the vulnerability oozing from every pore that made me shy away from her in the beginning – I had plenty of that without reinforcement from someone who was too cute for words.

Now on the cusp of 70, Sally Margaret Field, like so many other women in our generation, has found her voice. For maybe the first time, she is no one’s primary caregiver and doesn’t need help herself. Quoting from Apr/May 2016 AARP, “In so many ways I feel like I’m new to myself. I believe all of us, in every stage of our lives, are coming of age.”

Sally’s most recent character, Doris, one she molded and developed, sounds like someone I’d like. Quoting Field again “Doris {who’s a little eccentric} doesn’t see herself as older,” and she then goes on to laugh at the way she forgets about her own age until she’s brought up short. “You forget because inside you stay the same.” {Been saying.}

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday this week will bring more pool time in sight of those mortified young kids who are charged with our safety – pretty sure this wasn’t what they signed on for. I can’t be certain whether they’re embarrassed for us, for themselves, or simply disgusted at how stupid life is, but I’m going with all of the above. Speaking of age gaps, the AARP piece ends with Sally talking about playing the love interest opposite men who were one to three decades older, a studio decision that always embarrassed the actors. On the set of Absence of Malice, Paul Newman apologized profusely for having to kiss her – at twenty years older he was extremely uncomfortable.

However, author Taffy Brodesser-Akner says this about what Sally Field has learned lately – “…that the embarrassment is beside the point, maybe. The alternative to growing old is dying young, and she has so much left to do. She beams her Sally Field smile at me, that broad grin, her nose becoming even more of a button, her eyes shiny, and while what she says next is about kissing a younger actor, it’s also her most essential statement on this moment in her life:”

“We’re still alive and upright. Pucker up, honey.” ~Sally Margaret Field

Everyone will be relieved to know that no lifeguard personnel are at risk of being kissed or otherwise disrespected by class members. I mean, gack.

 

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Word Salad

Morning kids, me again, here in my Do All Things With CARE CAKE shirt, thinking about the state of the world.  Bwahahaha, I meant thinking about my own personal world — stay sharp.

I have to tell you …

I miss my little Maddie so much it takes my breath away.  It hurts worse than my bones and keeps my heart so raw I’m just marginally safe for human interaction, which of course means here I am on my blog holding forth in public, or the miniscule percentage to which the universe grants me access.  And heard is a sigh of relief from the remainder.

Adding to the joy in the world and subtracting from its woes are the dear ones who heard my pathetic “cry for help” yesterday and offered not only information but viable solutions, as a result of which I have good news:  My private concert continues unabated, but it’s taken on a muted, slightly disgruntled tone as of this morning’s wake-up.  It’s a start, I have to believe that.

“Hope is often bitter, but it drives us, and we cling.” ~Michelle Sagara

This is my first brush with Michelle, but one hopes she herself was driven enough to cling until the bitterness was over, that would only be right.

So, what else … well, I need to let you know that if you should ever become afflicted with auditory hallucinations, which I have learned via those same dear ones is most likely the proper term for my Wurly-Blitz … {and here’s a fascinating article in case your curiosity should happen to temporarily distract you}:

Can’t Get It Out of My Head

… also I was deeply gratified to read this entry in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology …

Case report: A 70-year-old man with acquired hearing loss suffered a whiplash injury in a low-speed road traffic accident, and subsequently presented with bilateral ‘tinnitus.’ On closer questioning, he described hearing orchestral music. There was no evidence of psychosis, delirium or intoxication (emphasis mine), and the patient was managed expectantly.

Conclusion: This patient represents the first published case of musical hallucination precipitated by whiplash injury. We explore the possible pathophysiological underpinnings of musical hallucination and highlight the need for a greater awareness of this disorder. A management strategy is suggested.  (Which suggests to me there might BE such.)

… and where was I … okay, that’s right, if you someday find yourself plagued by earworms, ask yourself if you’ve been taking oxycodone and if the honest answer is yes, Job One is to stop that.  My last was approximately 36 hours ago … and my sweet hope, in defiance of gravity and other realities, is that 48 hours out, the difference will be highly discernible.  It occurs to me that I should have volunteered for a clinical study — it could have been the shining moment in which my brain made an imprint upon the world that wasn’t a skid mark.

So get off drugs if possible, and your next soldier in the battle is music.  I know, music is what started the whole thing, is that not a metaphor for life?

This morning my head has been full of the earworm-crushing sounds of Living Room Songs – Ólafur Arnalds (exquisite — find them!) … the soundtrack from Catch and Release, with its delicious quirk and subliminal voices … and now my brain is swimming in the silky melancholy of Mr. Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours.  There’s nothing like the sappiness of Glad to Be Unhappy for confusing the squirrels, and the classic angst of Mood Indigo puts my parents and grandparents, my smooth Reese uncles and snappy Cousin Chet in the room with me, along with that whole over-romanticized WWII vibe, which is not a bad thing at all right now.  The near-keylessness of Frank’s Ill Wind should finish jangling things nicely — how the hell did he pull that off?

And now I’m treating my ears to The Union with Elton John & Leon Russell –GLORY!! Unanticipated bonus = I can’t sit still for If It Wasn’t For Bad or Eight Hundred Dollar Shoes or Hey Ahab (good god!) and here comes Monkey Suit !! so shoulder therapy is happening.  There is also brazen singing along because Kim is at the grocery store, and I this second realized I can once again snap the fingers on my left hand. You can’t tell me music isn’t the best therapy known to man — it’s loud enough that it feels like it’s coming from inside my chest and if this plus a supply of Yasso bars (find those, too, I promise you’ll thank me unless you’re a salted caramel-hating psycho) doesn’t fix me, I just don’t know what to tell myself.

Holy cow, you’re still here?  It isn’t even morning anymore and this has grown to the length and juice of an overworked stump speech, so for the determined stragglers here’s an ice cream cone for your stubborn devotion.  It’s so beautifully written it left me in tears and I have to share it.  DISCLAIMER: I’m an unapologetic Obama lover — but if you aren’t I hope you won’t let that keep you from this wonderful story.

Meet the man …

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Of bubbles and bibles and Southern Baptists …

A new friend is graciously letting me share a piece he wrote — the mark of a quality person in my world, especially as there was no hesitancy and he doesn’t know me from a ton of coal.  All I know about him so far is that he has a gift for saying things that need to be said — and read — and that’s sufficient for the time being.  And that he’s good people.  I hope my friends will be as struck by the truths he’s delineated as I am …

“I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but we don’t live in a Christian nation founded on Biblical principles. 

We live in a secular nation founded on the U.S. Constitution, which protects your freedom to be a Christian if you so choose, and to live by Biblical principles, whatever you interpret those to be. 

It also protects the freedom of those who choose otherwise. 

It’s kind of a beautiful thing.

If you’re a Muslim, no one can make you eat pork. If you’re a Christian, you can load up on the bacon and ham with a big greasy grin on your face. If you don’t subscribe to any religion at all, the world is your buffet.

It even works well within Christianity.  Southern Baptist? No one can make you say a Hail Mary. Catholic? No one can keep you from wearing your “I love the Pope” hat to the mall.

Do you think gay marriage is a sin? Ok, fine. Check your fiancé’s genitals before the ceremony and everything should be a-ok. Just remember it’s not your place to peek inside the pants of other people’s partners. So you can go your merry way and let others do the same.

See how that works? You get to live YOUR life according to your beliefs. You don’t get to force others to live THEIRS that way. And they don’t get to force you to live their way either.

This is how our funny little government works for everyone. This is why it’s a handy dandy thing to remember that, should you seek an office or a job in government, YOU ALSO WILL BE WORKING FOR EVERYONE when you clock in each day.

It’s also good to remember this is why the courthouse lawn and other taxpayer-funded facilities are not churches or temples or mosques. 

The Ten Commandments may look lovely hanging in your church or on your wall at home, but unless you want to allow symbols of other religions including nine-foot bronze statues of a half-man-half-goat with curly horns from the Temple of Satan to greet you when you go to the DMV to get your plates renewed, it’s really best to leave those things up to the private individual to display. 

Any Pentecostals cool with a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe at your state Capitol building? No? Well, then maybe you get my point.

Your church, however wonderful it may be, has not been appointed to govern those who don’t wish to attend it. Your holy book, however full of wisdom you find it to be, has not been passed into legislation. 

And if you ever study what happens when any religion is given a pass to govern with that kind of power, you’ll thank God it isn’t that way here.”

by Ken Robert

{Follow him on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/writerkenrobert?fref=ts}

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Yes. Most emphatically still here.

Anyone between 40 and 65+ gets this — once it starts you’ll do everything cheap and painless to make it stop.  And by it of course I mean aging.  I squandered at least 25 years’-worth of primo brain cells cursing every line, gray hair, and extra pound — “STOP!  STOP IT!!  STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!!  GIVE ME SOME TIME TO MENTALLY PREPARE!!  {Interweave creative language of your choosing.}”

Over the years it’s inexplicably gotten more challenging to match up the two realities:  I don’t feel any older in my psyche, I’m in fact regressing and there are those who own evidence to prove it, but my exterior road map is relentlessly becoming more detailed, my once-blonde/brown/henna-ish hair has at long last come out of the closet as its own true amazing silver, and my late-life-acquired supplemental mass is stubborn and sneaky so I’ve decided to own it for warmth, comfort, and familiarity.

The rush in all of this is that it doesn’t feel like I’m giving up.  I only have to adapt to the kindergartener around my waist until winter’s over — it’s cruelly cold outside — and then I’m thinking I’ll work on it again.  Or … you know ….. just possibly not, really, not in any stressed-out sort of way.  Because even though my lines and veins are more visible now, I’ve survived to a point where this body’s pretty freaking okay for its years and experiences.  And I’m in love with my shiny silver hair that Shelby at the barbershop cuts for $10+tip and gives it a life of its own so that I might have 99 problems but my hair isn’t ever one of them.  (If I wanted to pull senior rank on her she’d cut it for $5 and probably say about her tip “Oh honey, that’s fine, go buy a coffee or something.”  But WTF, are you kidding?!  Baby Jesus, don’t ever let me get THAT kind of old!)  So anyway how truly awful could it be to haul around more pounds than my body was designed for?  Oh, wait … right … wasn’t taking the whole Life & Death thing into account.  So … you know … erroneous THERE, but …

Well, so I’m going with two out of three unless or until I can change, but meanwhile that tiresome head-voice has gone strangely silent.  After all those years of fighting my body … okay, it was a half-hearted effort at best … she and I are starting to feel like real friends.  Not like, hey I forgive you for being such a biotch and embarrassing me … just … hey … no forgivey-stuff required, I’m you and you’re me and we like each other fine and this feels good.  And wow, hey, look at all the options that just opened up!

“Having work done” was never part of my bucket list, and after having my face sliced and stitched up last month I can tell you that there’s no way I’d do it voluntarily just because things weren’t close enough to perfect.  The twelve women in the slideshow linked here are some of my best role models — I hope you’ll revel in their happy stories!

http://www.purpleclover.com/entertainment/3543-12-stars-say-no-to-plastic-surgery/

I love this woman like Kanye loves Kanye!

JamieLee

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Tuesdays are so weird …

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

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

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

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

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We survived another week!

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President Barack Obama was here in Lawrence, Kansas, on Thursday, a few short blocks away on Mt. Oread.  The University of Kansas hosted him and I would have stood in line for hours to get a free ticket, and then for hours more to see and hear him, if my face didn’t look like a jigsaw puzzle and feel like rubbish.

As you know, there was no throwing it back on Thursday because the pitching arm was sleeping it off.  No Friday Funnies, because twern’t funny, McGee.  Which brings us to SaturYAY and a guest editorial, graciously loaned by my dear friend, playwright Philip Grecian.  Thank you, UncaPhil, for sharing your unadulterated thoughts with us.

(By the way, Kim and I love Lawrence because it isn’t just for Smurfs — everybody gets a say here, and plenty took advantage of that opportunity in reference to the president’s visit.)

And here’s Philip …

Been lookin’ over fboo today and see that an awful lot of ignorant people said an awful lot of stupid things while the president was in the area.

I understand if you’re a racist (and some of you are and think I don’t know it), and I understand if you’re a moron (Most of you aren’t. A few of you are, and demonstrate it regularly. I try to deal with you charitably).

Some of you are just blindly Republican (The thoughtful Republicans don’t spew hateful, stupid things. Some of you would be surprised how many thoughtful Republicans are actually reading this. I pray they’ll wrest some power away from the others. It could happen).

When George Bush was president I admit that I didn’t much care for him in the office and said so. Usually I waited till he’d done something that seemed…odd…or clueless…or thoughtlessly mean-spirited, and I’d comment. Usually making a little fun because, well, let’s be honest, he was easy to make fun of.

But, you know, my comments about George Bush…and comments made by others who didn’t like him much…were never as bone-deep mean and hateful and angry as what I’ve read here about Barack Obama. Some of you folks take my breath away with your hate.

And when I ask you why you feel that way…you give me some boilerplate FoxTrot talking point…one that’s usually made up out of whole cloth by some Foxy Barbie or Ken or dissolute Jabba the Huckabee. And if you’re called on it…if it’s pointed out that somebody just made up that “fact,” you’re quiet, retreat, and bring it up elsewhere on somebody else’s wall…like some extremist whack-a-mole.

Whaddya got? “Obamacare?” Wanna bitch about that? Hey, idiot, IT’S WORKING. Wanna talk about how we need to “Take Back America?” Yeah? From whom? He handily won office by vote of the majority. Twice. He reminded you of that, didn’t he?

Wanna talk about how he’s “ruining the country” and how you “can’t wait till he’s gone so we can put America back together?” Yeah? Really? Show me how he’s doing that. Jobs are up, economy’s up, we avoided a Great Depression–The Sequel. We’re better off than we’ve been in a long time.

So why all this palpable…hate?

Racism is all I can come up with…racism spiced up with a little party loyalty on steroids…a lot of “poor me” victimology…and a lot of foolish belief in the Murdochtrine of Fox News.

If George Bush had accomplished what Barack Obama has accomplished, you’d be building statues to the guy. And, except for a very few days when President Obama first took office (No, not two years…not 365 X 2. Do the math to see when Congress was in session during those 24 months), he did it with Congresspeople whose main raison d’être was to keep him–and by extension, the American people–from having any success at all.

And look what he accomplished in SPITE of that.
And just think what he MIGHT have accomplished beyond THAT, if the House, especially, had been working for the country…instead of for their exclusive club…and instead of for the Koch Brothers.

Just think.

For once.

If you are this clueless after all this time, you will always be this clueless. The world isn’t just passing you by, it’s passing over your head.

And you just sit there…engorging yourself with Fox News lies and Koch Brothers treachery.

I pity you.

So very much.

~ Philip Grecian

I don’t remember dancing …

Did we dance on Tuesday?  I don’t think we danced on Tuesday …

It isn’t an insignificant omission, is the thing.  Because life really IS a dance and if we let the silliness fall off our cracker even once, we could be setting ourselves up for a lifetime of resting bitch face.  Yeah, see, we meant to have fun but we forgot.  And then our faces got bored with smiling and now we feel powerless to, you know, like, fix any of that.

Seriously.  Okay, the rules have changed then — we’ll just dance ANY old day and preferably EVERY day, and even if we happen to forget once in a while, RBF won’t have time to set in!  It’s important, and I’m thinking this could be a breakthrough.  Register your opinion in comments!

 

beautiful story

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A self-rant …

2015 looks fine so far, relatively speaking, but there is much to do as the year rolls by.  Each of the eight points delineated by Neil is a rant aimed specifically at me — a kick in the shorts toward a more focused writing experience.  So on January 5, 2016, remember to ask me how I feel!

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Good Writing Practices:

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