New decade who dis?

Hard rain against the windows, turning icy as it falls. Dark and gray, quiet and warm inside, and Kitchen Man has biscuits and gravy in the works. No early-morning walk for him, no PickleBall with the crew. He’ll be here playing guitar while I do that thing I do… that space-off thing.

It’s a cold, cruel world out there this morning. It can be a cold, cruel world everywhere you look… unless you know where to look. Like the story about the six-year-old who’s raised $100k so far for Australian fire relief through the little clay koalas he makes…

Or the rescue on Wednesday of a 68-yr-old woman with dementia, lost for six days in the California mountains, her car covered with snow, who looked at her heroes and said “I’m very cold, I hope you brought a blanket.”

That same afternoon, Massachusetts State Police stopped a car containing an 11-yr-old girl who’d been kidnapped when she stepped off her school bus, in something of a miracle rescue, where she was a total champion through the whole thing and gets to go home and live her life.

So as the little icicles lengthen on the balcony railing, I’m thinking what a nice round number 2020 is, one we’ll not see again in our lifetimes. We won’t make it to 3030 or 4040, possibly this Big Blue Marble won’t either, so plump 2020 strikes me as the year to say what we mean and mean what we say, we don’t have forever.

This feeler has always had a hard time leaving things behind… sentimental trinkets, cards, letters… relationships. But after so many years, Steven Wright’s philosophy comes into play: You can’t have everything, where would you put it?

Reality bites:

  • Only certain things matter in this trip between birth and death.
  • People head that list, family in bold lettering at the very top.
  • Energy is finite so I’m sticking with the people who are sticking with me.

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it:
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver
In Blackwater Woods

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A progress report…

My good clean non-sparkly reboot for 2020 is going along pretty well so far, disregarding, as one must, what the world at large chooses to do with theirs. Attitude…good. Outlook…okay. Energy…looking up. Less sarcasm…it’s a reboot, not a makeover.

Happily, I’m back to the nice warm therapy pool, on my own schedule, with my own routine, since things just seem to go better when I’m the boss of me. Spending time in the pool again takes me back to water aerobics classes, so while my muse and I canoodle fresh ideas for the new year, here’s a little repost from that time a few years ago…

Summer water classes started on Tuesday so this chicky is in the swim again. It’s more exercise-y and less dance-y than my initial plunge at another facility, so this could work out. The instructor is easy to like and it’s all friendly women plus one shy husband. Other than a few younger women we’re all approximately from the same era, including our badass teacher, so there are Susans, Paulas, Lindas, Nancys, Judys…

Other commonalities include hearing loss, bad backs, arthritis, shaky balance, a laundry list of challenges. There’s a certain comfort in knowing I’m not the only person my age who’s falling apart, but it’s even better to know that everyone in the class, including Token Man, cares about her/himself or they wouldn’t bother showing up. I see it on all the faces.

Humor is how boomers roll, because without it you stop rolling. I advise maintaining a healthy personal space between yourself and humor-challenged people – they’re too tiring, and if you happen to be a *feeler* like me, you’ll haul the sand from every encounter until it all finally sifts out through your sandals. Our class is populated by people who like to laugh at themselves – how does anybody keep putting one foot in front of the other without that? Yikes.

Okay, imagine you’re out of school for the summer and you’ve signed on as a lifeguard at the aquatic center to impress babes. And then you draw the short straw to work during Senior Water Aerobics. 

Their little downcast faces are enough to break your heart.

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(S)he had a face like a blessing… Cervantes

Last year a friend added me to a Facebook group, an action that would ordinarily raise the hair on the back of my neck except for who connected me and to which group. I like to be asked first, but if I know and love you, you might slip that cheese past me without an implosion. Oh, but the misguided adds I’ve quietly tiptoed out of!  What was it about my posts over the past ten years that revealed a secret affinity for Home Canning groups, Fundie Prayer-Chains, or a support page for Nursing Mothers?

This new page, though, is serendipity – all about women and faces and selfies.  One of those things is not like the others. Women and faces = good. Selfies = I suck, both at taking them and accepting the results.  But happily, this is all ABOUT acceptance – for ourselves and other women. Without camouflage, before coffee, after a run, in sadness, elation, frustration, other women’s faces are endlessly beautiful to me and seeing them every day is showing me more about genuine acceptance of my own than anything I’ve encountered until now. If they can all be real, why would I think I couldn’t? When someone shares a shot that’s possibly less than bare-faced, I think “No, please, show us your genuine, natural, beautiful self, the one who can trust her sisters.”

Over the past decade or so my body has been trying to quit me, but even at that we’re better friends than back when my pudding-brain thought I was such an irresistible speck of humanity. I’m getting pretty comfortable in this body with this face on it, but my selfies still shock me every time. “Hello, Me, this is what we really look like now from the outside, can you believe this shit?” I choose to blame it on Bad Inanimate Face because Resting Bitch Face sounds so judgy. Pretty sure two things are at work here to make me uncomfortable with my own shots:

  • It’s MY face in the viewfinder.
  • Selfies allow me to study my face in a way that invades my personal space and hurts my feelings.

But…sigh…the suggestion is that we each post a selfie every week for a year and write something positive about every photo we share, which I think is delightful advice in theory.  I’ve managed one so far – for now I’m busy drawing from other women the inspiration to be as naked as they are. Faces, guys, naked faces. As you were.

And being real at every stage of life is all that counts.

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” – Abraham Lincoln

Author’s Note: This post, and the two that precede it, are edited repeats of pieces I’ve published before, a fact that I’ve neglected to mention. I’m going back to fix the preceding posts.

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Known only to me…

When I am old I shall wear purple and every damn color I want, probably all at once. I’ll be just like every other dried up old malcontent you’ve encountered, but different in ways known only to me, thus this brief Manifesto of Independence for whoever ends up having to deal with me, most likely husband then son, not that life ever follows a script.

IN CASE OF FUTURE FULL-ON FOSSILIZATION, BREAK GLASS TO READ:

  1. If I’m hungry, all efforts toward anything else are futile until food happens – I more and more don’t have the capacity to maintain sanity during hangry spells. Good news: the devil within is easily placated, provided we like what we’re being bought off with.
  2.  I still hear music inside my skull from the ice fall that winter and it can get overwhelming in a way that loosens my hinges a little. It may never go dormant, so please factor that in when trying to reason with me.
  3. If I’m certifiably demented, don’t try to reason with me at all. It’s too much like arguing with the proverbial porker – only serves to frustrate you and irritate the pig. I’ll probably be fine in whatever world is current for me at the time, so don’t waste precious resources trying to talk me out of it.
  4. Likewise, if intractable pain can’t someday be addressed with legal medical-grade cannabis – the thing that stops it – then pain awareness will have to be a fixture in the equation, too. I hate that, it sucks, I’ll be doing my best to stay sweet and not cause anybody trouble, but there it is, the big whiny elephant in the room.
  5.  It will be in everyone’s best interest to keep #’s 1, 2, and 4 from happening simultaneously. Good luck to ya’.
  6.  A great set of Beats headphones and Elton & Leon’s “The Union” will keep me out of your face for days – use it. Joshua Radin, Jennifer Warnes, Jason Mraz, the soundtrack of Catch & Release, The Lone Bellow, The Milk Carton Kids…  Merely a sampling – I’ll try to keep the playlist updated* until check-out – it will always be eclectic.
  7.  I don’t require much for survival, but two must-haves beyond music are books and a way to communicate. Even if you think I’m past reading, leave a book or two around because…you never know. No fluff, no bodice-rippers, best no serials. Poetry is good, a lot of niece Krista’s, please. Give me an inactivated iPhone if it seems to provide a sense of being in touch with somebody, but if we’re all fortunate I’ll simply slip into a world where none of it matters to me anymore except the good times and die with a smile on my face. Or get hit by a bus. We never know.
  8.  Apparently women past 40 are programmed to grow an increasingly disgusting amount of first dark then white extraneous hair on our faces. If you leave that shit intact I promise I will come back after I die and sleep between you and your significant other until the end of your days. I mean this.
  9. If I have to live in a care facility for the good of all concerned, please try to find one that operates like a highly tolerant family – one where eating and sleeping are managed individually rather than institutionally – that would be huge. Also, of course, where no one will hurt me, whether on staff or in residence – that’s pretty huge, too.
  10. The age baseline changes imperceptibly with the decades, but I will never not want to look and smell as good as reality allows. Please don’t subject me to the pitying faces of strangers without helping me look as much like this still-me person as anyone could expect. And while I’m here – please universe, no discernible diapers, ‘k?
  11. After I’ve made my presence felt in my immediate world for as long as I can and something takes me out of here, give me a smokin’ hot body one last time and pack my ashes to the coast – pick one – for a sweetly drunken campfire and whatever you want to say about me. Talking to you of course, Kim and John and whomever you’d like to bring along.
  12. In the past few years since I started writing again, I’ve put a body of words out there in the cloud that may or may not survive in one jot or iota. As long as the synapses fire I’m sure I’ll keep contributing to that pile of thought-turned-words that will, odds-on, prove to have been solely for my own rescue. That’s another thing we never know about – where it all goes when we do. Kind of pisses me off that I won’t be around to see if any of my sentences end up on Google Search. What I’m saying is, you two guys can do what you want with what I won’t be taking with me. Big Kev knows how to get to my passwords – that’s for the wording, the bits and pieces of ME. The rest of it…you know what to do.
  13. Anyway, thirteen points being my style, that’s about it. Keep it simple, keep it all about love, keep Karma in our corner. Plus all the things I’ve ever said, ever meant to say, never thought to say – take that with you. And did I mention the love – you know all about the love. 💙💜

I have no thought that anybody might need this vital information any time soon. But if you don’t write it down when it’s now, a day comes when you can’t say it anymore – you’re no longer your own advocate. And everybody needs one.

*Also Tracy Chapman. Keb Mo. And Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours,” the album.

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

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Make Mine Chocolate

Speaking of friendship (see previous post), there are people who so seamlessly demonstrate it that we don’t realize how completely we’ve been immersed in its graces until they’ve packed up their toolkits and rolled on down the road toward home. Kim and I are rich beyond measure because we have a few key people like that in our life, and a few are all you need.

One of those people came to our rescue yesterday, on a totally voluntary basis, didn’t have to do it, on New Year’s Eve day, for six hours, as if he had nothing else in the world to do, such as watching the Liberty Bowl game where his beloved alma mater would be playing, followed by a 2020 party AT HIS HOUSE.

The backstory: My desktop computer and Kim’s had been giving us grief all year, and this friend and another one had been helping us baby both of them along while we were all legitimately distracted by other things. In the past week mine started crashing for real, and although it was connected to an external hard drive, it was, um, not good. Our friend and his family were out of town, but he picked the day following the day they got back, came here first thing in the morning (yesterday), drove us to KC, provided backup while we bought two units just like what we had, only newer-faster-better-shinier, turned around and drove us 35 miles back home, and then took the time to get both of us set up enough that we won’t be roaming the streets, wild-eyed and barefoot, before he can get back here. And he was STILL out the door in plenty of time for the big game, Karma sees all.

We’ve so far avoided advanced boomer-hood and it was an adventure we could have managed perfectly well, by which I mean calamity was possible at every turn. Kim’s always cool with driving but we’d have had two questions at the computer store. And once we got home and unpacked the merchandise we’d have been stuck like Chuck and it would be a no go until we found a guru, and good luck with THAT, post-holidays. Instead, thanks to the joys of having a younger friend who loves us and knows our limitations without making making us feel deficient about them, it was a smoooooth experience and a fun way to end a supremely challenging decade.*

*Ignore the random underlining, it won’t go away.

Turns out we were mere weeks from dropping off Big A’s support horizon, where they cease to know you, so those units owed us nothing – still looked new but were old dogs in tech years, and a clean, mean, smooth-running machine is always a sweet thing.

But this isn’t a story about tech for the new decade, it’s truth about friendship for the long haul. The kind that starts out rooted in trust that’s rewarded with integrity; grows for a generation; starts to feel a little like family; and begins to cause people to just *be there* for each other. That kind of friendship doesn’t lend itself to language very well, but it galvanizes me for the new decade because of the sweet goodness under it. Our friend has been through plenty, knows we have too. We’ve often been caught up in the slings and arrows of the boomer years while he’s still back there hacking his way through the forest, so *being there* has been an imperfect effort on our part but the love underneath never wavers.

Yesterday was a gift because it felt so pure. “I can do this for you. Let me do this.” Thank you, friend, sometimes it truly IS blessed to receive, and to know the things we thought were real… really are. I don’t think you set out to show us that, but you did – in the most genuine way possible. Here’s to a clean reboot for 2020. It’s ON, dude ‼️

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Actual Self-Care in 2020

Does the impending arrival of a new year make you introspective? Do you think about past years, what they held, and what you hope to do differently in the new one? Are there things you’re still trying to sort out in order to avoid future train wrecks?

No? Just me, huh. Well, this week as 2020 bears down on us I’ve been trying again to make sense out of the whole idea of friendship. You’d think I’d have that down by now, but the script got flipped a while back in a way that’s made me examine the parameters ever since. An introvert will survive!

I had a friend who was a few years older, half a dozen I think, an intriguing woman, large and in charge, very generous, well traveled, had a million stories to tell. She could be a little overwhelming, liked her own house and parties best, her own food, which was always creative and distinctive, her own stories, her own family, her own interesting life. She genuinely cared about yours too, she just had a hard time staying with any of it for too many minutes at a time, she had so much to tell you. There were lots of parties, lunches, dinners, evenings, game nights, gatherings of every sort in her place, where she was always the pivot, cooking, pouring wine, hostessing, keeping the vibe going.

She loved Kim – he could do no wrong, which I think was her take on beautiful men in general. He got her, far better than she ever knew, so they danced that dance. She emailed me from time to time with little things she needed him to do and he always showed up, then stayed for a bit to hear her worries and put them to rest if he could. We called an ambulance for her more than once, and through the ups and downs over the years a sort of easy relationship grew up among the three of us, although never completely on an even playing field. She somehow came from another time and a different world.

Our friend had health problems that started infringing on her social life in ways that frustrated her and made her feel isolated and lonely, although her days were still a social whirl compared to my chosen solitude. She began to urge me to spend a couple of mornings a week in her place, drinking coffee and talking, just girl stuff. She knew about the fibromyalgia and the back pain, et.al., and that I didn’t really “do” mornings, but I could come in my PJs if I wanted and it was just down the hall, and I’d be drinking coffee no matter what anyway, right?

There came a morning when it was an insult to my body to ask it to put one foot in front of the other, so I sat down and wrote her a cheery email full of girl stuff and all the news I could think of, and after touching on how I was feeling I said that my letter would have to take the place of a visit for that day, maybe for the week. But I didn’t apologize, the facts being what they were – it didn’t occur to me that I might need to.

Neither of us ever heard from her again.

When she moved away the following year, she found Kim to say goodbye. Nothing personal, just so long, be well.

A study in human nature?

I’ll have to look elsewhere to study friendship I think. Many months have passed but my sense of sadness hasn’t – it’s hard to reconcile the before with the after and make it all mean something. I can’t die for a very long time – I still have way too much to learn.

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Ready to leap?

Once again our little gaggle of planets have turned and rolled and done that thing they do that brings us to another trip around the sun, the great flaming Ra that keeps us just toasty enough to neither freeze nor fry if we have a lick of sense whatsoever, which every trip proves some do not, although many, sadly, don’t have a choice.

Now commences the ritual of preparedness for the arrival of another clean start – those things we do, the purging, the cleansing, the making room for the new. The things we swore this time last year we wouldn’t be staring at again, yet here they are, taking up space, morosely mocking us, flashing a hardly deserved middle finger since they were complicit in the fact of their existence. They called to us, those online purchases, with their suspect but irresistible sale prices. They cleverly rode in on invisible coattails, those ubiquitous email subscriptions that accumulate in stacks on the daily (!!). The paperwork we don’t need, don’t want, don’t have the energy to file but don’t quite possess the total abandon to toss – guess that’s never going away after all, despite our dedicated green-ness. Our shallowness would make me weep, but greater things preceded it and my tears are temporarily dry.

I digress, boys and girls, we’re vamping for 2020 and we’d best be ready – I heard on the interwebs it’s gonna be a lulu. But then, we’ve been training, so…

And what I DID NOT KNOW until this very moment as I was musing on a title, is that 2020 is a leap year, yes it is, so let’s all stay on our toes! Very best wishes to all as we say goodbye to the old we’re not keeping and hello to the new we’re welcoming. It comes to us every year, ready or not, so pull up your socks and let’s go!

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Waiting for the Wise Men

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Thoughts of home & family…

Hello, babies, and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day and the weekend will surpass what you’d hoped for and the good memories will stay with you through the winter months and whatever lies beyond.

America and all the world rely on tradition to tell us what to do, how to order the months of the year, how to plan our celebrations. It’s been described as peer pressure from dead people, but it holds heavy sway over most of us and proves hard to break with when we try.

This Thanksgiving is unique in our downsized family. Before our mom’s eight siblings and their offspring scattered to the winds, holidays were oversized productions at our grandparents’ house, any work involved taken for granted by kids under twelve, the mountains of food appearing by magic, clean-up accomplished by swanky uncles with shirt-sleeves rolled, children strictly banned from the kitchen.

Those storybook times are long past, but most years since, my two sisters and I and parts of our families have managed to be together, sharing the love and good cooking. This time, for whatever reasons, a perfect storm conspired to keep that from happening, so we deal.

Middle sister and bro-in-love have retired to beautiful but relatively remote environs and their daughters and families are prevented by various circumstances from being with them, nor will they be with each other.

Baby sis has fallen in love, has recently retired, is spending the weekend with her new people, and happiness abounds. We get to connect with her kitten, Big Jade, twice a day while Mama’s away. Baby sis’s kids and grands are on the Left Coast, thus not physically huggable on this holiday either.

Pa and I are here, dead center USA, least traditional of the siblings, he of original hippiedom, I a rebel from jump. One of our guy kids is deep in the heart of Texas, the other two keep Georgia on our mind. The Oncology RN is working, as is so often the case, on behalf of coworkers with families. His other half, one of the youngest in his big family, is trying mightily to be their rock through a stretch of rough road, and it’s likely nobody will even get around to dinner this year.

And how are the non-traditionalists faring? So far so lovely. We made sure the Jadester was safe and warm, first order of business. Loved her up good, then came home and Kim made Belgian waffles in his snazzy hotel-style waffle maker – so right with fruit, syrups, bacon, sausage, lots of excellent coffee. It’s been raining lightly all morning and the fireplace feels wonderful. Right here is where we need to be while I baby my back some more. We could be kind of iffy conversationalists right now anyway, like after the toasts, yikes, wouldn’t be prudent.

And now the day stretches before us, quiet and full of possibility. Kim’s on the other side of the wall playing guitar, I’m here with my coffee, we never lack for books to read or movies to watch. If angst should overcome me, I can always sit back down here, open a vein, and bleed on the keyboard. We might watch parts of the National Dog Show in a bit – it’s becoming a sort of campy tradition with us. Anyway, we’re not allowed to get bored, that would be a crime.

I don’t miss turkey – we could have shoved one into the oven if we’d wanted to. I do miss all the cooking aromas and the happy activity. What I miss for real, though, the only thing that will matter to me, ever again, is my family. I really, this year, miss those hugs, both given and received, those familiar voices, those beloved laughs that are like no one else’s. There’s only one wish in my bucket right now – that at some point in the foreseeable future we could ALL – we three sisters, our amazing men, our kids, their partners, and their kids could be together in one place. And if our brother’s kids and their kids could be with us too – that’s my idea of heaven, which we can choose to make at least a little of right here, right now. Henry-boy, you’re on that list too, kiddo.

That’s where we get our traditions – from the things that mean the most – and now we’ve come full circle, for the non-traditionalists among us.

The sweetest of thankful days to us all. Amen.

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Wait! Breathe…

 

One by one

dig the clods

from your throat

and recall what breathing felt like

 

Leave the answers

to people who have them

what you don’t know

hurts less than what stands in for real

 

Tell yourself you

don’t care that might makes right

that right doesn’t matter

that upside down is how we do things now

 

You don’t care

it doesn’t matter make a note

it’s what saves you until they turn the lights back on

and the night-critters scatter until next hoedown

 

Not to care

makes the days fruitless

and the nights frightening

but no other armor has been provided to the rank and file

 

So wait here in limbo stasis

until the rules change for better

to something your heart will see when right counts again

you know it always did no matter what the storytellers say 

 

JSmith 11/22/2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ok, boomer, what now?

The old adages made their fame by hitting the mark time after time, and they’re maddening because so true. What I’m kicking against this morning is that the more I want something the more it escapes my reach.

What I want is robust health, but it’s clearly too much to ask, as every time I think I’m almost there, something stupid happens, and not always my fault. Is it Karma? And when do I wear out the bad stuff?

Yes I’m blue, and yes this is therapy. This year has been a physical struggle since March when the screaming gut meemies hit and put me flat on my back for two weeks. Things never got right with my system, so my primary care doctor sent me to a phalanx of specialists who determined that there’s nothing seriously wrong with me except high BP, a wrecked spine, and dysthymic disorder, which is described thusly: a smoldering mood disturbance characterized by long duration as well as transient periods of normal mood. {How fun is THAT?!}

It’s simply under there, and some days, like yesterday, I feel all day like I need to cry, but don’t, and never really know what it’s about. It’s frustrating, a little debilitating, and a lot annoying, partly because it takes effort to tamp it down enough not to blow Kim’s day out of the water, and therefore exhausting. I went to bed early last night and left him up watching the 49ers, just so I could lay it all down. Also, my back hurt like a mofo, which is a whole other story.

Long story shortened, because SO MANY WORDS, my wonderful primary care put me on a new BP med that works so well (and she did seriously caution me about this) I passed out for a split-second one of the first nights I was on it, went down hard on our polished-concrete floor, and put myself back a few squares on the Health Chart. Out of an overabundance of optimism, we didn’t inform anyone, but after 3 weeks of spasms and enforced rest because I had no choice, we gave in and saw my pain specialist yesterday for a sacro injection, which is starting to take effect, and I’m supposed to get an x-Ray today if I can.

I’m sitting here looking for the words to say how much this is working on me. I’m trying hard, I’m doing it right, I’m keeping a BP log for one doctor, a different diary for another, watching my caffeine intake, monitoring my sodium, taking my meds religiously, trying to include enough protein in my diet despite being turned off by most meat products, limiting alcohol, letting Tylenol suffice as pain med, plus Cymbalta that doubles as a hit to the low-grade blues. And then this goofy body turns on me again.

Why do I tell you this stuff, greater world? Why do I bare my rotten soul to you with such abandon? Because we’re humans together on this big blue marble, and if dumb things happen to me they happen to other people, too, and those people need to know they’re not alone.

All my life I’ve had bizarre accidents that played hell with my structure and maybe my DNA, who knows? But it messes with my psyche if I’m going to become a fall risk in my own home, with Big Kim right there and can’t keep it from happening. I’m a boomer, an Ok boomer, and I like it fine. I just don’t want to be Officially Old. Not yet.

I looked after six older people for quite a few years, did lots of different things for them, from the mundane to the intimate. I know that look of panic, that total vulnerability, and I’m not ready for that, I’m not there, don’t want to be there, and the helplessness of finding yourself on the floor and wondering if it’s going to mean an ambulance ride is awful.

I’m a give-it-to-me-straight girl. Just tell me and I’ll deal. But I do fully acknowledge that I don’t want an x-Ray that says I have a hairline fracture in my back – let’s not play that, ‘k? Let’s get this show back on the road to health. Today. Damn. It.

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Fall, so soft, so quiet…

Every season has a reason, but I love fall. The cooler temps after we’ve steamed for weeks, the rain every few days, the leaves trying on their new fall attire, it’s all welcome every year even when it’s hard to say goodbye to summer.

Autumn and cooler weather make me want to sweep out the cave so that when the snow swirls around our door it’s just me and Boo in here by the fire, no nagging guilt about things I’ll wish I’d stuck with while I had the chance. I love winter naps and hot drinks and books and writing, with no ugly work ethic staring me in the face. So…

My “drag it out and get rid of it” purge this year is smooth workin’ fine – I don’t even take time to decide if a thing gives me joy, it doesn’t, so into the black bag it goes. And when you own it, they let you do that.

My barely hidden OCD tendencies play hell with my peace when there are bits and pieces tucked away in places where they don’t belong – Out of Sight, Out of Mind doesn’t work for me the way it does for Kim. I sometimes follow him around at a “not-annoying” distance rescuing items that his OCD is causing him to hide in places only he would think to look, and really not even him – he’s clueless when it comes to finding them again. But since he’s otherwise perfect as far as you know, he’s gotten by with it so far. I still love him madly and they tell me everyone has flaws.

So here we are in the exquisite heartbreak of fall that comes to our family just a bit more gently each year now. It’s raining, but the mid-afternoon sun is still managing to put a glow on the leaves outside my windows, and it makes me feel some kinda way. Happy, mellow, settled, at peace.

I hope the autumn of the year is being very beautiful and peaceful for you – it seems only right that it should be that way for everyone. But…

Life goes on, this we know.

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Found our way home…

It was lovely, that road trip. Lots of hours there and back, in the car, with my best guy, talking, talking, talking. Or just riding, absorbed in our own thoughts, thrilled by the landscape (in which case we’re talking again), or I’m dipping into social media while trying not to miss anything real and at hand. But not sleeping – I don’t sleep in the car. I don’t do it well so I inevitably wake up with a wonky neck or some such, and if Kim’s going to do all the driving, even though it’s by his choice, I like to provide company and an extra set of eyes.

So down the highways we fly, maniacs on holiday, grabbing road food and snacks, health constraints cast to the wind. And then – DESTINATION REACHED!! The gracious welcome of my younger sister and bro-in-love and their suh-weet mountain retirement place. Days in the 70s and low 80s, nights 50s and 60s, house left open to the soft cool breezes nearly every day we were there. The pace is brutal and not for amateurs – get up when you feel like it…take a coffee mug out back…let breakfast evolve…sometimes Susan cooks delicious comfort food…sometimes the guys bring breakfast sammies or donuts home after PickleBall. The sun climbs, as it is wont to do…the big articulated umbrella is deployed…more coffee happens…and showers…and naps.

At some point a mid-afternoon lunch is discussed and one of the local mini-breweries/pizza-ovens/neighborhood bar & grills is chosen, maybe in one of the little communities a few miles on up the mountain, always tasty, always an experience, and then home to watch for elk from the back patio as they come in for water and treats the neighbors put out. Sometimes mamas and babies bed down right out there for the night, guarded by the bull who claims them as his.

It didn’t occur to us to take any pictures this trip, except of Payson the Dog, and of some of the two elk herds that are currently making that little corner of the huge Tonto National Forest their home. It’s a unique situation and we feel privileged to share that front-row vantage point every once in a while. My sis & bro get to observe it all on a daily basis – the big extended family of noisy crows living in the lodge-pole pines just past their picket fence; the bobcat they’ve seen a few times; the mountain lion that skirts the territory on occasion, widening his hunting grounds or looking for a mate; the coyotes the mama elk mercilessly drive out, running them ragged, keeping them away from their gangly spotted babies; the wild flurry of gray bushy-tailed squirrels, hopped up on hormones and possibly something fermented, holding manic squirrel parties that defy gravity and the limits of brain-wave activity‼️

We’re most definitely going to miss all that until next time, but Susan & JR have much on their plate for the near future. He has a set of electronic drums to continue exploring, and my sweet sister has a new set of knees to pursue. They’re longing for a visit from their second daughter and our baby sister and their significant others, so we must be very unselfish, for goodness sake‼️ Full disclosure, it’s hard to stay away from paradise once you discover where it is. 😎

The love of family is deeply healing in a world gone stupid. It’s addictive, and my heart absorbs it like rain on a hot day, so I tried to soak up enough to last a while, a challenge beyond my abilities, but a worthy goal nonetheless. The older I get – 72 as of this month – the more my family means to me. To say I love them is to massively understate what it is because it’s so much more than that, and now that we all have the time and wisdom to really know each other I want us to spend as much time together as possible while we’re all still here, even as our logistics are once again shifting. We, better than some, know life affords no guarantees.

Part of a harem…
2-yr-old Bull Elk
1st Year Mating
Learning to Manage Females
Keep a Good Thought for Him

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Running away from home…

Attitude adjustment time AGAIN! Best fix we’ve found is a road trip, so we’ll be doing that tomorrow morning, back to my sis and bro-in-love’s to feast & drink with them, and commune with the creatures of the forest for a decadent ten days. We’re taking JR a retirement gift he can put to use in the I Don’t Know band – it’s time for drummer Tiger to get his chops back, and this setup wasn’t doing Kim any good in storage!

It’s all electronic so he can play it through headphones and thus not disturb the animals or the neighbors, highly crucial to this deal.

Party on, kids, don’t let the world grow cold!

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Oh, the places we could go…

It sounds so cliché and yet what IF? We all, if we’re lucky, live several lives from our beginning to our end. Our “tinyhood” is first, when we’re so new and unset that things mostly roll over us, leaving only small traces of what took place… if we’re lucky. Those memories fade as we move through other lives – our youth, our high school and college years with their general trauma, relationships, marriages, families, beginnings, endings, the pneuma – the creative energy – of life.

But all of it, as we roll or slog or trip or struggle through the panorama of our lifespans becomes part of who we are at any given time, a lot of it hard to shed, some of it buried pretty deep, most of it just outside the grasp of our conscious awareness, so how would we even start to deal with it? In simpler terms, how do we stop toting around all this pneuma? Just because we’ve accumulated it, is it forever ours by default?

We get older, hopefully we get smarter, we learn how to forgive and to let go of resentments and old scores. But whether we know it or not, the seed of every wound, every piercing, every time someone was able to make us feel less-than is still in there somewhere ready to trip us up if we let it. Maybe we have somehow been strong enough not to give it roots, but we don’t know exactly how to find it for full extraction, so it lurks and hides, the partial remains of who we were.

It would be so satisfying to dig up all of that accumulated rot and get it out of there – all those markers signifying “I go this far and no farther, so DON’T PUSH me.” “Here’s where the bad person/people hurt me, embarrassed me, shamed me, failed to love me enough.” “I can’t get rid of these, they’re my security blankets, my hedge against big-time pain, against things I never want to feel again. They help me remember where the lines are drawn.” I know, you probably hoped I was going to tell us both how to do that, how to ruthlessly excavate. So did I, but the answer didn’t miraculously appear as I typed the words.

And so the remains remain. But oh, what we could be and the places we could go if we could figure this out. It’s a worthy goal because it would change everything. I’m holding out hope to get there in my lifetime, sooner rather than later – while I still have time to enjoy the fruits. I’m still thinking about this…

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