The stuff of life…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Perspective – a GOOD thing…


With the ever-widening gap between ages on my birth certificate and driver’s license I’m being forced to dig harder for the positives attached to getting older. First thing that comes to mind is the fact that I’m still breathing, since that isn’t a given.

Second…is that I’ve been out of circulation long enough to fall off most people’s cracker, buying me the relative anonymity I crave, and exempting me from psychically-strenuous socializing. I know staying home most of the time, either alone or with one other person, isn’t everybody’s idea of a positive, but in my world it’s an amazing thing and will probably help me live to a hundred or so – the Zen is hugely beneficial, both to me and to others who are thus spared.

A close third has to be the freedom from OPO – other people’s opinions. OPOs used to influence my thinking to a shocking degree, but I got over that when I remembered almost no Other People ask for my opinion about anything, ever, end of story.

It’s astonishingly liberating to look up and realize you’ve survived to a certain age and some of the people who used to make you nervous aren’t even here anymore. Look at me, outliving folks and getting all happy and shit. O me of little faith.

You’ll be shocked to know that sarcasm is in the positive column – very much so. Utilized correctly, it can provide maximum relief to the wield-er, while inflicting minimal damage on the distracted target.

And since there CAN be too much of a good thing, I’ve deeply thought for long enough and have to run. I’m positive.






New Year, New Us?


Do you have New Year traditions? Come share what they are because I’m looking for all the positive input I can find. Pretty sure I could benefit from more knowledge instead of just giving it my best shot every year.

My instinctive go-to in the new year has always been to lighten the load for the journey but these days my OCD is engulfed in love and comfort, and in this last third of life I’m perfectly good with not having every little detail tacked down. I’ll eventually decide whether I want that thing to stay on that table and I’ll store that little pile of whatevers, but it doesn’t have to be today or even next week, which represents a considerable lowering of expectations on my part.

The OCD shows up now primarily in thought form, first of all how to constructively untangle the snake’s nest that was 2017 and move into new territory. My brain feels more at ease when my surrogate gray matter, Mr. Honkin’ Big Hard Drive, is purged of detritus, swept and ready for whatever 2018 has in store, or at least I hope so. Current task = sorting about 5,000 saved Facebook posts into collections, a capability I’ve literally longed for. So satisfying, and it’s far more likely that I’ll actually read, watch, buy, eat, play, write, interact in some way with all the entries. Or not. Doesn’t matter, I just need them organized and out of sight.

I’ve dumped tons of superfluous email, a cathartic exercise if there ever was one, and I’m down to one Gmail account, Facebook email, annnd…guess that’s it. Wow. A bit more slash and burn and I’ll float into the new year light as a feather.

This feels like a great time to thank the souls who stick with me, who faithfully (or accidentally) read my silly attempts to make sense of life. The year of our Lord 2017 has been the most insane of my entire existence – seven decades’ worth – and we have no real clue at this point what its successor is going to look like – but I’d like to think we’re ready for it. A thing I love about humans is our ability to adapt, to roll with it, to come up with a Plan B. Don’t tell us no and don’t underestimate our capacity to survive – it’s been getting us by for millenia.

I’m wishing everyone true happiness in 2018 – a genuine Happy New Year. It isn’t a magic reset button, but we can make it work for now.





Not a problem, just a challenge…


inspiration gone

could return if life sorts out

may be a long road

JSmith 12/08/2017


The Emo Queen


falling asleep on

a pillow soaked with tears makes

for a soggy rest

JSmith 11/12/2017


Duty calls…


“An adventure a day” has been our marriage mantra from the beginning – any time we find ourselves up against a plot twist, we have to figure out how to turn it into something fun, interesting, challenging, or in some other way memorable. Easy-peasy most days, as it turns out, and we have some great little stories to show for our efforts.

We’ve also each carried a desire, over the years, to belong somewhere. Kim’s been looking for it since his growing-up years in SoCal, and I spent a lot of years wishing to feel at home the way I did on the family farm where I grew up, as I felt forever the outsider on my married-into one.

Lawrence is proving to be that safe space for both of us – the vibe, the weather, the manageable scope of our surroundings, the sense-of-new that’s in the air we breathe. Being seated on a jury this past week only added to the knowledge that I’m a real citizen here.

Physically and psychically it was a challenge (aka adventure). Having been a jury member twice now, both criminal cases, it’s my heartfelt opinion that sitting in judgement of a fellow human is the heaviest responsibility this side of bringing home a new baby.

The charge was Criminal DUI, the charged a young Hispanic man. Young white prosecutor, older Hispanic defense attorney. Young white highway patrolman, phlebotomist, and KBI expert. All-white jury pool. All-white jurors, five women, one man. (We learned that misdemeanor offenses require a six-person jury and felonies twelve.) I think I could be an effective jury consultant after watching the attorneys narrow the pool by dismissing every male the approximate age of the defendant and keeping all of us who looked like sisters, moms, and grandmothers.

The charges…

1.) Operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner

2.) Driving 92mph on a 75mph interstate

3.) Driving under the influence of alcohol

4.) Refusing a breathalyzer and a blood test

The highway patrolman’s testimony was articulate and the evidence of speeding was solid. The KBI’s toxicology reports were quite conclusive and delivered in a succinct manner by a young woman who clearly reached her level of expertise by virtue of knowing things. The phlebotomist from the hospital demonstrated serious credibility and provided key testimony about the chain of evidence. In the only nebulous part of the evidence presented, the grainy dashcam video shot at 2am was helpful but not conclusive as to the charge of unsafe driving.

We were the typically assorted crew, and although we exchanged very little personal information during off moments, our personalities were coming out by deliberation time. Our lone guy struck me as neutral, right down the middle, just the facts, please, all in a day’s work. Of the five of us women, one was a no-nonsense Fox News conservative (her words) and not interested in nor affected by any discussion of potentially mitigating circumstances; another was an educator, probably in her 40s, who engaged us in discussing various scenarios and possibilities; there was an adorbs sorority girl from The Hill who seemed to be most concerned about making all the numbers add up so as not to wrongly convict the defendant; then you have me, the eldest in the room, focused on all my unanswered questions; and finally, a young woman not too long out of college and involved in a career. She volunteered to serve as foreman, which surprised me until I saw her in action.

Foreman Woman efficiently and dispassionately took us through each of the charges one by one and we discussed them until we felt ready to vote. We voted GUILTY on three of the four charges, the only logical thing to do in view of the evidence. Even as we filed back into the courtroom, my brain was still trying to work out why the defendant had requested a jury trial for a DUI, and how a conviction was going to affect his mother, who was in the courtroom both days. Nonetheless, it was done, over.

Afterward, the judge came to the deliberation room and talked to us, and in answering our questions she provided two key pieces of information that have allowed me to let it all go:

1.) Sometimes people request jury trials on the outside chance that a jury might have enough doubt or sympathy to exonerate them.

2.) This was his second DUI offense.

Okay, I’m sorry, nice-looking young man, go do your time and learn some things about life.

And I’m sorry, mister well-trained professional law enforcement officer, that I entertained the slightest possibility of not taking a proven menace off the highways. Wow, he looked so clean and earnest and hopeful, too.

When I met Kim for lunch I realized that I was shaking all over, mostly from relief that all of us together had managed to do the right thing. The heavy sense of responsibility stayed with me into the evening and I found myself crying over silly things on TV.

Alexander Hamilton,, placed a lot of trust in the jury concept – that Americans through the years would retain enough personal integrity to make life and death decisions as concerning their fellow man. This one was fairly easy to own because the solid truth of the body of evidence was overwhelming – we were presented with established facts from credible witnesses. And yet when you walk into the deliberation room you’re hit with the sense of accountability you owe to the entire process, and that’s good – it should never be an easy assignment.

I’m relieved and gratified to say that heritage didn’t show up in any way as a topic for consideration – we discussed only the facts and the evidence supporting them as they related to the charges. Each of my fellow humans on the jury surprised me in happy ways and each one taught me something. Thank you, our beloved forebears, for entrusting this important task to simple citizens – we truly are all in this together.

This, for whatever reasons, has been a hard post to write – I’ve been trying to find the words since last Thursday and now I’ve written a whole LOT of them and this has grown long. I keep thinking of what the educator in the room said: “If any one of us were to find ourselves in trouble in a court of law, we would hope for an honest, serious jury who would consider nothing but the facts of our case.” Amen. It matters.






but listen…



Go ahead and hope…


spring’s here too soon, yo

but loving it is not wrong

makes hope live again

JSmith 03/23/2017


It all fits…somewhere…


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!


Doesn’t apply, just saying…*


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.


Facts of Life


move it or lose it

the experts are not kidding

leaves not to return

JSmith 02/04/2017




Be like a tree…


Image: Lars van de Goor

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

~ Rumi


Sacred Sound of the Universe



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…




The Art of Humaning



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?





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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