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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Happy Days… page 90

Day 180 – 09/08/2020

We’re cliff-diving today… yesterday’s high temp was 96º and today’s will be around 59º with overcast skies, rain, and wind. Capricious Kansas.

Closing out a beautiful weekend with rain couldn’t be more perfect. This may have been the most memorable birthday celebration since my 50th with my sisters in Colorado, for different reasons but with the same sweet vibe, and I came out feeling cherished, something we should all get to experience at least once. I had loving convos with my boys, greetings from enough friends and family to match my age, and a totally-unexpected gift from some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. This amazing armful of flowers left me speechless and on the verge of tears…

The weekend weather was conducive to staying in until evening balcony drinks, Kim made the food I love, and we spent three days being goofy together and feeling wrapped in cotton. Su-weet.

The sunflowers are in bloom out at Grinter Farms and I’d love to see them this year, but for now a shot that fits the day…

River Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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Life, it’s good… page 89

Day 178 – 09/06/2020

A few words about today: It’s Sunday, it’s beautiful out, and it’s my birthday. It isn’t a milestone other than the fact I’m still breathing, but this year’s observance has been couched in hours of pre-meditation, by which I mean 2020 has been one uninterrupted disaster and I never stop thinking. So what I’m putting in my thoughts today is this wonderful poem…

I want to age like sea glass.

Smoothed by tides,

but not broken.

I want my hard edges to soften.

I want to ride the waves

and go with the flow.

I want to catch a wave

and let it carry me

to where I belong.

I want to be picked up

and held gently by

those who delight in my

well earned patina and

appreciate the changes I went

through to achieve that beauty.

I want to enjoy the journey

and always remember that if

you give the ocean something

breakable it will turn it into

something beautiful.

I want to age like sea glass.

~ Bernadette Noll ~

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Is it fall yet? … page 88

Day 173 – 09/01/2020

Yesterday began with increasing darkness after dawn followed by rain into the afternoon, which was heavenly and made everything feel like fall. This morning, despite an 80% chance of showers, it’s overcast but dry with a predicted high of 78º and that only briefly. My heart is ready for autumn with its softer days and crisp nights, long sleeves, and mugs of something hot. I’m not a pumpkin spice fan and I don’t wear socks until the first snow, but fall is my friend.

I’m jonesing for kinder, friendlier days and a stress-vacation. The hours are long, the news is dire, and my psyche responds accordingly, so minute-by-minute reminder to me:

I’m also taking deep breaths and reminding myself that when life’s entirely about the challenges, you have to keep the main thing the main thing at all times…

There’s always a sweeter, more sympathetic side to life if we can remember how to see it, and it makes all the difference. So hello indeed, September – you’re welcome here. 🍂🍁

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Making lemonade… page 87

Day 171 – 08/30/2020

The temp at 9am is 66º and the sun’s shining through a light cloud cover – perfect for PickleBall but only two other players showed up so Kim pedaled back home and we’re on computers until hunger takes over. It’ll be omelets because even though we toss a lot of traditions out the window we have our rules. And a nice spa soak and convo since that’s in the Sunday playbook too.

Life right here in this place is lovely and wonderful so why does everything else feel especially grim this morning? And having asked myself that question… where do I start?

  • Is it because despite all documented evidence to the contrary, too many people still see COVID-19 not as a worldwide pandemic killing an inordinate number of humans, but as merely a flesh wound, an inconvenience. “It’s a flu, we’ve seen this before, it’ll fade away… like a miracle.”
  • Is it because our racial divide is being used to foment civil war and people are choosing sides and picking up weapons?
  • Is it because there’s so little common ground left where we can meet friends and family and remember who we are, together?
  • Is it because we’re in a state of limbo and extraordinary breath-holding, waiting to know if our fractured democracy can hang in until the nightmare ends, or if America will be saddled with a tyrant and his progeny for the next few generations.
  • Or because when I say these things out loud I lose friends.

A puzzle… who could ever solve it…

Imma go have breakfast with the cook.

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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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There Are Heroes

My baby sister is my hero. The one our grandpa called Dutch… the child who could fall out anywhere, get puppet-walked to bed and go right on sleeping without missing a beat… grew up to be one hell of a nurse and an even better human being. She doesn’t have an RN behind her name, it’s more of an IC (I Care), but she’s a caregiver beyond measure and you’d be grateful to see her there if you needed help.

She spent three months this summer as angel of mercy to her lifetime best friend (since they were five), taking her to all the doctors’ appointments intended to address her out-of-control back pain before it was finally discovered that she was suffering not from a bad disk, but a spine full of tumors. Fifteen days later Hospice started visiting twice a week while Rita hung in as caregiver as it quickly became a full-time job, pouring love into her friend’s life while she changed sheets and finessed every detail.

I was privileged to be there with Rita as Joy took her last breath. Such love… sixty-plus years of it… heartbreaking and humbling to witness. It’s a story that’s happening about every 80 seconds in America right now with a virus moving among us, life and death played out, often with no loved ones close by… and every individual story matters. We’re so blessed if someone’s there to hold our hand and say our name and smooth Carmex on our lips as we make our exit. And if it’s from the comfort of our own bedroom with our devoted dog on the bed with us, even sweeter.

I’m so proud of my sister and her friend – there was no word of complaint that either of them had been dealt a bad hand, no going back on promises made, no shirking of the job in front of them… Joy’s to die, Rita’s to be there. It’s possible that humans are the worst thing ever to happen to planet Earth, but there are shining stars out there who pull everything together and cause it all to make perfect sense for a while. You see that circle of love and you know it’s what we live for and that it’s all worth it. In a year when everything hurts and it feels like genuine brotherly love has fled the universe, a hellish experience showed once again that if we’re supremely lucky, love and caring show up where we need them – with skin on.

Being there. It’s what you do when you love somebody.

Quintessential Joy
Rita & Joy
Rita, Joy & Caroline – the Three Musketeers – from Five to Life
Joy Anna

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Book of days… page 85

Day 157 – 08/16/2020

I read a wonderful book this week – 100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi. Amazing writing… so genuine. The tears I cried while reading were sweet and unexpected and not wrung out of me by some trick of the alphabet. It’s a beautiful story told with love, humor, and immense talent. Today I started Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – it looks promising and the reviews when it came out were stellar – and it’s Margaret Atwood. So, things on the reading front are better lately and that’s a relief.

Other stress points have found resolution over the past several days too, so… we’ll sing in the sunshine, we’ll laugh every day. The sun’s shining today but it’s that pale yellow light that turns everything flat and dull. Still singing, though, light is light!

And reading… still reading.

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Week’s end … page 84

Day 155 – 08/14/2020

It’s 10:45 and the day already feels endless. I walked before it got hot, came in and iced my hip… and went into neutral. Sometimes I try to remember why it felt like there was more to do in The Before because it wasn’t all that much. But we had lunch out a few days a week… wandered in and out of stores without a second thought… went to KC for this and that… planned short or long trips and took them… saw friends once in a while or had them here… what we thought up to do wasn’t contingent on virus numbers or the necessary restrictions they’ve brought into everyone’s lives.

With the new phase we’re into in the election cycle, birtherism is the Soup of the Day again. And after seeing shots of neighborhood mailboxes – those familiar Dalek-like blue sentinels – being removed and hauled off on trucks in Portland and other cities, the sure knowledge that we’re across the line into authoritarianism can’t be put off any longer. I know, dear Diary, nobody likes it when I talk politics, but it’s just you and me, so I’m going to tell you a secret I discovered this morning – I’m okay with not seeing people anymore if they’re in favor of what’s happening to America, and there’s a certain freedom in that. As Kim always says, “I feel so much better now that I no longer care.”

Welp, when you’re blue, you’re blue, but sometimes you can get glad in the same pants you got sad in, so maybe it’s time for music…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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Lush Tuesday… page 83

Day 152 – 08/11/2020

The morning air is fresh and cool and my walk felt good. Strolled until that certain sharp poke in the hip made me head for the barn, all the time carried on the waves of a playlist provided by Thumbprint Radio on Pandora, clearly my muse. We’re like Siamese Sisters – I couldn’t have picked a better playlist on my own if I’d worked hard at it. Twelve tracks played full-on in my ears before stalling out on one that wasn’t me, from the opening piano notes of LULLABYE FOR A STORMY NIGHT by Vienna Teng to the sweet melancholy of Jim Chappell’s GONE. In the middle were his STORYTIMETHE MYSTIC’S DREAM, Jim Stubblefield… RIVER by Joni Mitchell… HOME, Michael Bublé… Sarah McLachlan’s TRAIN WRECK and FALLEN (LIVE)… two Nora Jones favorites… Eric Clapton with LAYLA (UNPLUGGED)… and finally BALLAD OF THE RUNAWAY HORSE by Jennifer Warnes. Best story song ever. It’s a little sobering how much my friend Pan knows about me but I feel so SEEN, oh wait…

Repairs are underway in the intersection below my windows and I’m watching people operate machinery just like the toys that used to live in my yard… skid-loaders, backhoes, big dump trucks, a little crawler-tractor. Pretty sure some of those guys are living the dream, and it’s a great day for it!

Leaving this here for posterity…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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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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Hope lives… page 81

Day 149 – 08/08/2020

We just celebrated our 16th anniversary, and the partnership being what it is there was a point at which I started having Kim read my blog posts before publication, not for content but for flow. In the months since, he’s caught a plethora of trippy syllable sequences; thus, showing me a swanky new set of subtle wording schematics and style. Observe how successful he’s been – take the challenge and read that last sentence fast six times. 😂

He does, of course, take in the content of what he reads; thus, his comment this morning that some of what I write sounds a little depressing. He’s spot on – 🎯🎯🎯 – it does and it is. My blog is like a diary, intentionally so since the pandemic started, and it’s therapy. I write what’s in me and put it out here in the agora to keep me accountable. If somebody reads it, identifies with some part of it, ends up being encouraged by something I say, that’s the best thing ever, but I write for me. “Me” has been a little blue lately so my journal reflects that… self-healing is herky-jerky and never fun to watch, either from inside or out. I try for the happy every day, though, and always succeed on some level… my full name is pronounced Pawl ly AN a. I’m grateful to *My Michelle* for saying so openly what most everyone is experiencing in these months… a low-grade depression that encompasses… everything. We’ll be okay one of these days as long as we keep loving each other.

Kind of in a mood to jump the fences today, but age and wisdom will no doubt prevail and evening will find us still moored to the dock, here where we like it best, with love holding it all together.

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Okay, NOW it’s Friday… page 80

Day 148 – 08/07/2020

sun out

clouds in

breeze blows

light goes

day creeps

mind leaps

JSmith 08/07/2020

The following was stolen goods when I helped myself to it – part of a Buddhist workshop – and hopefully the Buddha would approve of theft-on-account… on account’a I liked it and needed it:

Inner Dialogue, Self-Counsel

Self-Counsel: Whomever you’re waiting for to save you, they’re not gonna show up.

Inner Self: But I just want to be loved, I just wanna share this experience with someone.

Self-Counsel: Love isn’t easy, there’s no fairy tale ending. Did you ever hear the one about the guy who got everything he wanted? He still wanted more. You could fit whole universes in that hole in your heart and that would still just be a drop in the bucket. Not because the bucket is infinite, but because the water evaporates.

IS: So what do I do?

SC: Whatever you do, you have to do it yourself. Those were basically the Buddha’s last words. You already have the love you’ve been looking for. Embrace your shadows, hold your demons, rock the helpless child to sleep.

It’s not enough to do it once and be done with it, you have to do it every day, every minute. You have to forgive the world the pain it’s brought you, and forgive yourself for not knowing how to handle it. With this as your main focus, everything else will fall into place. You have to trust the love that’s in you, and see that it shines alone, without needing support.

IS: But it’s so easy to forget.

SC: You have to build it into a pattern. Then you won’t need to remember, it’ll just be there, and you’ll just be here.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

-John Lennon

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It’s a good life… page 79

Day 147 – 08/06/2020

Another cool morning, so I wandered around the neighborhood for an hour, racking up a prideful number of steps for that time of day. The GPS map of my route will be fun once I find it in the app!

Discovered lots of big and small changes along Mass Street and points east – it’s interesting to see how Downtown is rising to the occasion and finding creative ways to stay in business while dealing with the reality that is COVID-19. A young street-guy hollered from across Mass Street “I feel like a surgeon!” I said “Because of your mask?” (Which was hanging off one ear.) “Yeah, my mask! I feel like a surgeon!” The surgeon was wearing what looked like a water shoe on one foot, the other was bare, and I saw by his outfit that he was no cowboy. We waved and went on our way, whereupon I heard him loudly proclaim to the next strollers “Hey, I feel like a surgeon!”

I’m glad Downtown and East Lawrence are full of walkers and bike riders so the white-haired short stack with her hiking pole doesn’t stand out, other than to budding surgeons in search of an audience. And now, after a full-service shower, I’m ready for the PickleBall player to come home so we can figure out what the rest of the day holds.

Annnnd… so far there’s been a light garage clean-out and coaxing an ailing car across town to said garage. And lunch. Only about 9 hours to go until bedtime, yay. Daily diversions, take me awaaaaaaay…

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Sweet weather… page 78

Day 146 – 08/05/2020

It was 60º at 7:30 when I went out for a walk and the quiet morning air was sublime. The epidural I had on Monday seems to be doing its thing – I walked for 45 minutes with only a little ache from the steroid, so that’s encouraging. Pain’s such an odd thing… a warning, a message, a universal element of being alive… and it creeps up on you psychologically. After weeks, months, years, it turns you inward and the next crash-and-burn is full-on self-absorption. I was flirting with that state when I ran into a timely mirror the other day, and now I’m gently backing away from the abyss. We absolutely don’t know how we’ll do under compounded stress until we’re there, but the gross stuff we don’t need usually floats right to the top. So score one for the pandemic and train-wreck spines, I guess…

We can hope…
Best Venn diagram ever…

It’s still possible to understand each other as humans, at least on some level, if we’re straight with ourselves and everyone we meet. It’s not half as scary as closing your heart to the world, and I’m glad for this week’s reminder of that.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith – rooftop garden – 08/04/2020

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