Are we there yet?

How’s the whole space-time continuum thing working for ya’ lately? Feeling a little stretched? Compressed maybe? Are we any closer to understanding the warp and weft of the fabric of our existence? Are we tuned in or out? “Einstein concluded that space and time, rather than separate and unrelated phenomena, are actually interwoven into a single continuum (called space-time) that spans multiple dimensions. So how many dimensions are there in the space-time continuum?”

https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-the-space-time-continuum

This, boys and girls, is what happens when rain and gray skies become the order of the day for days on end… the coping mechanisms run right off the charts into unexplored territory, including black holes.

My brain has run amuck, so in lieu of actual wisdom this morning I offer you memes, glorious memes, which die an ignominious death if not shared forever.

From the current news cycle:

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Sunrise… sunset…

There’s everything to be said for second chances. We don’t all get one in every situation. In fact, the greater the need for a second shot, the less likely we’ll be afforded one. They’re handed out like candy when we’re little, so someone should warn us early on that life doesn’t continue in that vein and that we should think, first of all, and then wait to act on an idea until we’re pretty sure it’s a good one.

When I came to a semi-conscious conclusion a few years ago that life as I’d known it was ending, in terms of physical capabilities, I failed to consider the major ramifications of shutting down. Not that I had a real choice… when pain rules, you do what it says, and it took me to some dark places before Dr. Carlson put an end to it for me. But going to ground and closing the door in your third trimester of life is a serious undertaking which requires equally serious effort to reverse.

Change is underway. This morning, like an actual person, I drove across town again on a valid license to check on a friend, stopped at Einstein’s for a bagel, paid for it with my updated credit card whose pin number I know, parked Kim’s truck back in its spot without destroying anything anywhere, and I feel slightly reborn. It’s like someone raised a curtain and there was the world, big as life and twice as natural. It’s ridiculous… at almost 75 it feels in lots of ways like I’m just getting started.

I hope the central message floats to the top of all the I/me/we, and lights up in neon: DON’T QUIT!! Whatever’s stopping you from living your life… physically, mentally, spiritually… don’t give in to it unless that’s the only choice available, which was coming true for me until six months ago. If there’s any chance to maintain a vital life of your own… do it. It takes great energy to come back, and the time consumed is staggering. But step by step… slowly we turn… and life goes on.

There are Memorial Day observances around town today, and something big going on in South Park for kids, but things were pretty quiet this morning after Busker weekend. One block of 8th street is still closed, with booths in place, so it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Feels like a Sunday…

No typos detected.

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The celebrations of life…

This weekend is Busker Fest in Lawrence America, a 4-day street-performer extravaganza that includes various sound-stages close to downtown, music everywhere, art parades, food booths, merch booths, contests, feats of derring-do, delights for the kiddos, Farmers Market, and untold other good stuff. It started the year before we moved here, and that’s probably the only one we’ve missed. What we love most is knowing it’s happening and that families are having a great time… we watch the steady stream of walkers heading from East Lawrence to Mass Street, and grin big… the underlying vibe here is a healing one. When I’m out driving or walking there isn’t a heavy sense that half the people around me hate what I love, or that I’m a minnow who somehow slipped into the piranha tank. Other than the occasional pygmy shark, there’s been no real threat detected most days.

Turns out early morning on a Saturday is a great time to drive across town, who knew? I had an errand at 7:30 and since everything around downtown is blocked off for the festival, I took different routes there and back, soaking up the cool morning air. There were people out everywhere but very little traffic, and I was truly in Free State Kansas. Tiny piece of unsolicited advice from The Big Sister… never shut down and give up on living, it’s hard to ramp it all up again and put things back where they belong. Pain started shutting things down shortly after we moved here… I stopped talking on the phone due to hearing loss… I lost energy for being social due to both of the above… and a senior neurosurgeon told me there was no way to stop the nerve pain in my body. Things… they happen. My driver’s license was expired for six months, which didn’t matter that much since I was never behind the wheel anyway, but another six and I’d have had to retake all the tests and jump through a few other hoops. There are small mercies…

Life returns, to bodies and to societies, although it’s sadly true that both usually have to hit rock bottom before coming back.

Key-change is key.
I’m grateful to the special people who’ve gotten me this far… and with a legal driver’s license even!

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Streaming Kansas…

It started raining sometime after midnight and has paused only momentarily since. Down in the parking lot there’s a small truck with a large green canoe lashed over top of it, which is reassuring as we may have need of it by Thursday. All this spring rain is wonderful and will benefit everything… as it simultaneously adds to the general lethargy. I haven’t yet tested the outer limits of my capacity for the Magnolia Network, even on mute, but it’s only a matter of time… perhaps this is the day I quietly go mad and Kim comes home to a mere whisper of the person formerly known as his wife. Anything could transpire as the chill rain pelts against windows that were just this morning professionally washed via power-lift, despite the obvious liquidity of the surroundings at the time. Don’t ask, I am mos def not in charge here. I’m very glad for that fact, and you should be, too.

Being happy in the rain really isn’t that heavy an assignment for a reclusive Pollyanna, and I thank my friend-cousin for this reminder…

…and sometimes a little wine.

We don’t understand until we get there, but all the “wise” things older people have said to us about life? Those people were being brutally honest, and the process only becomes more honest and more brutal as it plays out. It’s all real, and mostly based on our own choices.

This too is our choice… to trust enough not to give up on humanity nor ourselves, and to refuse to lose the things that matter.

The “love unconditionally” part is the kicker and we all know it. Gud luck to us.

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What matters…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 4/2022

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, full of sunshine and hardly a drop of wind yet. SoCal Man’s already been out cleaning the balcony glass and will probably plant the rest of his current nursery purchases today. Music cranked, hands in the soil, he’s a happy guy. Then he’ll count the pots in the storage room and set off to find fillage for them, which makes me as glad as it does him. Nurturers gotta nurtch, and since I need less intensive TLC these days, blooming surrogates help fill the blank spots. His eye for color and personality makes it an upper every time I step outside, with my sole contribution being to dead-head and maaaybe water once in a while.

I have to think that if it weren’t for lack of wisdom and maturity, relationships could be this simple from the get-go. Kim loves to cook, grow things, play his guitars, play PickleBall and ride his bike, and be The Guy for people who need one. I like to read… write… savor long silences… organize stuff… and now that I can sit there again, play my piano. We know these things about each other and if we just “let it be,” everything else works out, all that trivia we’d otherwise bicker about. I’m glad we caught this train in our 50s, with gas in the tank, plenty of earned wisdom, and a certain form of maturity, the key to which is to never actually grow up… otherwise, we’re both such intense people we’d likely have maimed each other by now.

Easter Sunday, with Rita Jo as my loving and forgiving audience. Little rusty…

Kim received a gift last fall, the opportunity to be The Guy in a situation where everybody wins. Three gals in their 70s and 80s asked if he’d be willing to help them improve their PickleBall skills so they wouldn’t be intimidated in open play, and nearly every weekday morning since, the four of them, and often others, have played at 7am, with the result that everybody’s game is getting better, including Kim’s, of course. Last week he drove Nancy, Susan, and Mary to North Kansas City for lunch at Chicken n Pickle, followed by two hours of play on a reserved court… and rumor has it that everyone had a fabulous time. They’re so good for him, and vice versa I just know it. Life is often too sucky to talk about, so the good things really stand out. The bonus is that they’re all cooks and they bring treats to share with each other, which I sometimes benefit from if I get to Kim’s backpack quick enough. The relationship reminds us of his seven aunties in Minnesota and their mutual admiration society. Good stuff.

Life stays good if you don’t give in to it.

Life has never felt this angst-filled, but on the flipside, it’s never felt this exquisitely precious, either. Remember two things in the name of peace and sanity:

  1. Life is all about change. Accept that fact, and live it as it comes.
  2. We have zero control over what happens on the planet, and indeed in our individual lives. Don’t try.

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For all the empaths I know and love…

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Time and other variables…

The seasons press on, and just like that it’s 420 again… how time flies when you’re having fun! Quiet morning here, overcast, showers possible, even storms. It’s like silent mood music outside my windows, and sweetly healing, so here are a few of the recent best from my Share-It file…

First a timely reminder. (Aren’t taxes supposed to be a little late?)

Gud luck to ya’…

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I’ve developed a new system, which works in all situations for obvious reasons, and I highly recommend it…

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It’s a fact of life that the world is at war unendingly, despite the intense wish on all sides that fighting could cease. Turns out the military industrial complex owns us and must be sustained at all cost, so enterprising humans have to work at achieving harmony in more inventive ways, such as getting to know each other and learning to appreciate what every person brings to this experience of living. It remains a worthy goal.

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Something the COVID pandemic continues to teach me, and it adds to my sense of peace…

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And this is for everyone who needs it this morning… keep rocking that survival thing.

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Unsolved mysteries…

Another holiday weekend has passed for three senior heathens sharing a gray chilly Ishtar, complete with Spanish mimosas and good food. Seems entirely apropos and it was indeed perfect. Rita did all the cooking… a small spiral-cut ham, au gratin potatoes, asparagus that she roasted just before we sat down, and jalapeño deviled eggs. Kimmers poured Cava & Pomegranate mimosas until the well ran dry, and a mellow time was enjoyed by all. For dessert, I whipped up a lemon cream meringue pie just like Mama used to make, the complete scratch version, a feat I couldn’t have attempted a short three months ago, and it came out right, go me. Sometime late afternoon Rita went home to nap with Jade, my chair tripped me and held me fast for the next couple of hours, and Kim watched the National Canine Agility Show. When you’re not sure what to celebrate, you can’t go wrong with dogs.

Easter strikes me as one of the weirder Christian holidays, what with its origins in ancient pagan rituals, rites of spring, fertility goddesses, bunny-rabbits and all. Hard to gather up all the pieces and make them fit somewhere… so dogs it is, then!

So many pieces/parts left over every time.

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In my third trimester of living, I have no answers and know only a handful of things for sure:

  • Life is a gift and we’re here to live it
  • If not for the catalysts of profit, greed, and control, humans could find ways to get along
  • If we don’t make life about truth and love we’ve wasted our time here
  • Human communication is a difficult climb, and that’s entirely because of humans
  • 99.9% of us end up being too soon old, too late smart
  • Karma is a bitch only if we are

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I believe Finneas gets it right, so I’m sharing his exquisite gift of music with you again…

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Always a challenge…

Shootouts… it’s always something. In the greater world it’s war, hunger, need, and disease that stretch humans past their limits. In the scaled-down version, we obsess over sports and winning… and no apologies for that because a steady diet of pain, injustice, and death does exactly to us as we might expect, so we hang onto the happy for as long as possible. Our beloved Jayhawks made it to the NCAA Final Four and we’re quietly psyched.

It’s five whole days before our game with Villanova… and we’ll survive the wait. Somebody will win, somebody will lose… life will roll on. April 7th is MLB Opening Day and we’ll have a whole different roster of familiar faces to cheer for when the Royals get going. In the fall we’ll turn our attention to the Chiefs and hope for a big season. Maybe by Super Bowl 2023 we will have achieved world peace simply by running away from every unpleasant detail of life. That’s worked before, right?

As with most of them over the past few years, it’s been quite a week. Lots of people saying words, other people speaking with explosives, but is anybody anywhere really listening? The truth is slammed more viciously than misinformation and one gets the impression lots of people prefer the narrative of lies.

It’s a gray day, with a blue mood hovering, so I’ll hustle back to something happy before this post implodes… a photo of my kid celebrating his birthday with three friends. In Iceland. Inside an ice cave. For a midwestern farm guy it would have once seemed slightly inconceivable… and it’s so cool. I’ve never been shy about living vicariously, especially if that was the only option.

The travelers…
Black sand beach…

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It always comes back to real estate… where we’re standing when life happens. Our planet is so beautiful and so tortured. Gonna keep my soul wrapped around the beautiful today if it kills me.

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The Sunday wrap-up…

Good Morning, Sunday, I was up to greet you at 6:30am, which in truth was 5:30am… so here we go. Put me on record as voting for an end to DST, an unnatural practice which wreaks havoc with the normal beat of our lives. Why, in the 21st century, are we still cutting a foot off the blanket at the top and sewing it onto the bottom, thinking we’ve gained something? American life has changed, farming has been revolutionized in most ways (lights and GPS, for example), DST is a remnant from an era and mindset that half the nation is trying to bring back and it’s time for it all to go away. End of rant, steps off apple crate.

Today’s weather forecast looks promising… 61º and sunny… but we never know out here so it’s not a bad idea just to tote a little sunshine around in our pockets for emergencies. Rita and I keep an eye on the projections and Wednesday looks like this week’s nicest day unless the wind cranks up, so we’ve penciled in a “hike.”

Last week was truly a mixed bag o’ tricks, from the local level to the global, and as usual I saved goodies for you as it all unfolded. There’s something for (almost) everyone here, so pick and choose, share, get in on the story…

First off, it’s Sunday, we talked about that, so…

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For all of my friends and family who are still here, still very much gay, in the face of the world’s willful ignorance.
All respect.

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I learned this unequivocally last week and it sustains me.

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The Sunday Homily:

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Information saturation…

Someone please explain to me, like I’m in kindergarten, the process by which email procreates and multiplies when left to its own devices. I was sure my various folders had been whittled down to a single page of no more than 100 emails apiece mere weeks ago, but a sobering look this morning revealed thousands of messages lurking there in the dark. It’s war, kids, the kind I can proudly stand behind: DELETE EVERY IRRELEVANT EMAIL. Fortified with Kim’s coffee, I shall do so with glee. It concerns me that they’re able to gather silently and join forces this way, but once I see them they’re done for. What troubles me is all the “not seeing,” because that has staying power. Okay… off to wreak havoc and mayhem, thus atoning for my sins of neglect, and simultaneously exorcising a few demons. Frustration comes to mind… might be a good day to work on taming that one.

Our schizophrenic late-winter weather, the rollercoaster ride collectively known as COVID, war that threatens to turn global, daily rifts and tensions among humans everywhere… it all gives me pause 🐾 🐾 . But something feels different lately, beyond the astounding fact that I’m free of nerve pain for the first time in five decades. The atmosphere is starting to feel somehow changed… the tenor of conversation among thinking people has a distinct note of hopefulness under it… the knowledge is starting to penetrate that we might not have to stand still for fascism’s creep after all. And that’s a BFD.

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Back from the Cyber Crusades, my Gmail is lighter by thousands of unopened messages, and what a rush THAT was. What with all the quiet and isolation since 2019, I really should approach such things with a measure of caution… what if the excitement had caused me to pass out? Bonus nap, you’re right!

After a few mild days in a row, we’re having a snow day, and I heard a rumor of waffles. If that happens imma whip out the Nutella and spread it right on that gorgeous Belgian baby and then settle in by the fire. The Big 12 Tournament is in progress, and the Jayhawks are on the floor at 2pm. Waffles, bacon, coffee, and a win would be perfection. And a bone-warming soak. Weather is an adventure aphrodisiac for your olds, isn’t it rich.

Speaking of old, which is where it goes if we’re lucky…

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Time marches on…

(Didn’t get posted yesterday… )

According to the leaf shape, these are daffodils, but they could be jonquils with no argument from me. I like them because they remind me of growing up on the farm. The fence boards are too even and perfect, and my guess is pressure-treated… we were far better-acquainted with hedge posts and barbed wire… but the flowers say spring and my heart says yes. “Hello, March” indeed. You’re welcome here… please be nice.

This week will be tantalizing before temps drop back into the 40s and under:

In my desire to be outside walking every day, I’m done with winter for this go-round… but I’m pretty sure it isn’t done with us. Kansas winters are sneaky, so never turn your back on one. For a handful of days though, we’ll enjoy the heck out of the balcony and what’s out there on the streets, and be fully prepared for spring when it settles.

I can’t remember the farm without thinking about my little brother, who was a Leap Year baby and not happy about it. Three older sisters teasing him about only having a birthday every four years was an annoyance he didn’t need, among many others. He would have been 66 this Leap Year, which is hard to envision as he left us at 29… and it will never not hurt…

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… and yet spring comes every year.

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The days of wine and roses…

Seventeen designated “I LOVE YOU THE MOST” holidays with my husband and counting… and it’s all still real. Since his kitchen is the best restaurant in town, we’ll share something with the love cooked in, toast to happy days ahead, and feel grateful.

The romance is still there, and it’s everything:

Happiness is overrated and likely sinful.

Despite the gaiety and lightheartedness of our forebears, Valentine’s Day, like other “human interest” observances, is hard for people with heavy hearts. Being alone, when every conversation is about being with another person, takes a toll. I see you… do today on your terms.

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To Kim, who has saved my life from the beginning, countless times over… you’re The Guy.

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How cold WAS it… ?

Good morning on a sunny, crispy-cold Saturday. Compared to yesterday’s predawn 5º temp, it was a balmy 20º this morning, so Kim walked Mass Street and environs, bringing me his icy fingers as he does after every winter stroll. I actually invite the delicious shock and brace for it, everybody has a good time, and I’m not the one who has to go out and earn it. Also, did I mention it’s Saturday. The Breakfast. The Soak. In all sincerity, if Dr. Carlson and staff knew what a huge role a simple kingsize jetted bathtub can play in the healing process, it would be prescribed during every post-op dismissal. I can hear my bones sighing as I sink under the water…

The world squandered the power to shock me some time ago, but this past week was surprising in its onslaught of book bannings across the country. Comes across like a sudden and spontaneous development, but it’s no doubt been underway for months and years because the banning of “seditious” books is a key element of fascism, whose proponents desire control like they require oxygen. However far this goes, it’s a honkin’ big yellow canary in the coal mine letting us know that none of what’s happening to democracy is benign, nor do the autocrats have our interests in mind in any way, best or otherwise.

When political actions call for less education, less knowledge, less awareness among the public… ask why.

Not all writing is journalism. Not all writing is truth. Not all journalism is truth. But this woman’s protest sign exposes what’s behind book-banning and the arrest of journalists around the world.

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I have only a passing knowledge of the thought processes of early psychiatrists like Freud, Jung, and others, but I do share an affinity with Dr. Jung for silence… the quiet of a tended mind. It makes surviving chaotic times doable. On that note, I wish you a peace-filled weekend, and may every cognizant discovery stay with you and affirm you in the space you inhabit.

I’ve shared this before, yes… probably will again.

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Sunday grab-bag…

Lately I’m up by 6am to watch the gorgeous winter sunrise unfurl, don’t ask me why, it’s already worrisome enough… am I turning into a DAY person, ’cause this keeps happening! Any morning the temp is above bone-shattering, Kim makes his early-morning trek down Mass Street and back… observing… tracking the pulse of life in #lfk. Somebody waking up in a doorway might need a cup a’ coffee or a few bucks for breakfast. It was in the 50s in the afternoon, with sunshine, so he played PickleBall in Lyons Park, and when he got home he walked with me to the river and back, which was the fulfillment of a simple little longterm wish… he just wanted to go on walks with his girl, and she wanted to go. Life, I’m thankful you can still surprise us. Out there in the sunshine, hiking pole in hand, everything starts to seem possible.

If you’re a list-maker, I don’t even have to explain… sometime in the last three years I stopped making them, which would have been a harbinger of change had I been paying attention. As a perpetually-unreformed ball of anxiety with OCD, I don’t function without lists… a planner… a set of calendars. At some point in there, as the isolation weighed heavy, it all ceased to matter and the only thing I was keeping track of was doctor’s appointments, but those should be fewer and further between now, and my psyche is asking “What do we do next?” so yes, Virginia… life does go on.

If you’ve read this mundane stream of consciousness to here… X … you’re a real friend who knows sometimes I just need to let my mouth and brain run until they find a parallel track… and your long-suffering doesn’t go unnoticed. I saved stuff all week with you in mind, so here ya’ go…

Getting to be a bit much for the average bear…

On the flip-side, a far greater truth… and bless the memory of Thich Nhat Hanh.

On the weather front…

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A single sentence can be life-changing. When I encountered this one I stole it and practically ate it for lunch… it’s provided an ongoing epiphany, amen.

That’s gonna stick.

In related news…

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But plotting a break-out…

Some of you have been reading this mess for a long time now, so thank you for sticking around. I only wish I knew each of you as well as you’ve allowed yourselves to know me, and I welcome every comment. I’d love to talk with you…

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Success on a Monday…

Gotta love it when a plan comes together – it was over 50º and sunny before noon, so Rita and I walked the south side of the river from the boathouse parking lot to the bench at the other end and back, probably a half-mile total. It was amazing to be out in the air, which felt pretty crispy around the ears, striding out, hiking pole in hand and sister by my side. The city has a huge clean-up project underway next to the Kaw, clearing acres of dead trees and underbrush back away from the sidewalks, opening up small tributaries and other vistas we hadn’t known were there. Lots of tiny encampments have been dismantled and hauled away, but we could still spot a few tents and hooches through the leafless winter trees. “Sleeping rough” wouldn’t describe it, and I wish every human could count on warm shelter no matter what.

Along with welcome moments of consciousness-raising, today’s walk was a needed affirmation that all is well in the recovery process. The success of previous spinal procedures has hinged on my doing the work post-op to make it happen… somehow… without the actual source of the pain having been addressed… so I carried the guilt every time for the lack of positive returns. This time around, we were in the right place when the technology arrived, stellar young people REPAIRED the problem, I walked out of the hospital without nerve pain, and today’s effortless half-mile folded me up when I tried to tell Kim about it. Gratitude… so full of it these days.

It’s cool when your body agrees.

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