Stormy Sunday…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 05/15/2022

When I got up this morning, a huge mothership of a storm was hovering overhead, rapidly snuffing all hint of light from the sky. Then came the lightning, rain, and wind, and full dark returned. Perfect! The Sunday omelet never tasted better, and Kim’s fresh coffee will get me through the day, big grateful sigh. Inside I weep for the world and its brokenness, so all the beauty and sweetness has to be gathered up and held close.

I told a Twitter friend a bit ago, “I’m sick at heart. This nation should be a safe place for lovers and babies and other vital parts of society… for ALL of us.” We’re statistically a pro-life culture in our ideology, but what does that even MEAN when a white supremacist guns down a dozen or more Black people, broadcasts it live on the internet, and is carefully brought before a judge, physically unscathed. His 18-year-old white hide is sacred, therefore safe, and the only thing I see in America that can beat white pigment for power… is a gun. The right of white American men to be armed matters more than any law, moral or otherwise… it’s more precious than our children in school… its significance outweighs every issue other than money, and the two are inextricably linked. We’re all adults, we can acknowledge a fallacy when we see it, and it isn’t hard to recognize this lie for what it is. The vacuous statement that “All Lives Matter” is tragically laughable, along with its various iterations… Black… Blue… old… animal… veteran… redneck… fat… unborn.

Thought I made that one up, didn’t you?

The unborn are the easiest demographic to advocate for… they’re silent, appealing in the way of kittens, and once they pop out of that sacred womb they’re on their own! Win-win!! The sentiment that every human fetus is the loftiest, most precious form of life on earth just doesn’t play to the cheap seats. We watch how reality ends up for the loudest voices and deepest pockets, and there’s no way to miss the various dichotomies. If you’re part of the Citizens United mindset, you absorb the obvious lies and ignore the inequality in every direction, mouthing platitudes on the way to your bank. If you’re a member of the real world you refute the lies and fight the inequality… and that’s how that is.

A few spears of sunlight briefly reached the intersection.
A Shark headed to the next rumble. No Jets in sight…
Everything swept clean …

Kim brought these home from Farmers Market yesterday. Have a Sunday as happy as these poppies!

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Add patience and wait…

Hi, just me over here waiting impatiently for spring to find a toehold. Our weather from day to day is schizophrenic, to say the least… warm, cold, rain, snow, wind, sun, low temps, mild temps.

Forecast for the week ahead:

My mission is to stop being a fair-weather walker and just GET OUT THERE. Stay tuned…

******

While I wrestle with my conscience and matters of health, I’m entirely awake to the unspeakable realities happening to fellow humans around the world, and to their lack of choice as to their living… or dying… conditions. My silent tribute to the proud and utterly courageous people of Ukraine, on a beautiful Saturday, in an alternate world…

******

“How wonderful to be alive. I am sorry for forgetting.”

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It’s Monday, but it’ll be okay…

We have sunshine this morning, and promises of 60s and 70s coming up this week. Spring loves to tease, and we always forgive her because she’s pretty and she smells good.

Quick bit o’ bi’ness… a reminder that tomorrow my peripheral Facebook page, which theoretically hosts this blog, is going away because it’s outlived its usefulness in the current scheme of things – neither the blog nor I seem to have achieved Meta status, so… anyway, if you haven’t already, click the Follow button on the right and insure that I’ll be able to annoy you to infinity and BEYONNND. Thx.

Every morning I read the news… the headlines… the bylines. I look at the stills, taken at great personal risk by global photographers, one of whom we lost just the other day, an American this time. A tiny angry tyrant is stomping on all the sand castles and making a slaughterhouse of Ukraine, trying to erase the population of a sovereign nation. Much of the world seems to be standing back, out of the fray, hoping the unleashed psycho behind the curtain soon runs out of steam. Meanwhile, pregnant women and their unborn babies are fair game for him.

Hard to witness, harder to be there. Mother and baby both died.

It hurts to watch it all, without the power to change the course of history. We long to fix it but can’t… so it always comes back to kindness, caring, and love. Let your heart keep on loving.

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Spring arrives every year…

We need the part of spring when the sun and the air feel new

We need that flash of renewal to stay with us and keep us alive

We are so very needy… and why not

The idea that we’re a super race contains flaws. -JSmith 03/08/2022

******

Author of “Love After Love”

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This is all random today as the world rages around us, because…

And sometimes understanding accompanies the reruns.

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New week, who dis?

It’s Monday, boys and girls, in a week when anything could happen. That’s true of all of them, but life isn’t always this packed to the gills with angst and trouble. Wotta world, and the ride goes on and on. I squirreled away a few things over the past few days to share with you, to mark our place at this juncture in time. Little road signs…

Let’s start with the obvious, because it needs saying:

However, having stated the obvious…

Think carefully, I’m not for everyone.

With winter dipping in every few days and layering us in white, and the pandemic just now in enough of a lull to relax protocols, it isn’t easy to fill our time, so we’re always grateful for sportsing on TV that engages our attention and sometimes emotions. Sports involve real people doing real things, and spectating is next-best to participating. Maybe some of this is on the schedule…

******

Because life isn’t static and things happen, staying a little loosey-goosey about the state of the planet only adds to the Zen total. Everything has to be evaluated in terms of forever… what matters now and for how long.

******

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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…

******

… and yet spring comes every year.

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Courage, like love, needs hope as its daily bread…

My sabbatical from televised news has worked out so well I’ve extended it indefinitely, but the events of the day remain on my radar via the written word, with what’s happening in Ukraine uppermost. This morning, after posting several things on Facebook regarding the attack by Putin, it occurred to me to wonder why I’ve been so drawn in by this conflict, and I immediately realized that it’s because we so narrowly escaped our own date with a dictator, who’s still hovering over history. With America so divided, the fate of democracy still hangs in the balance, no easy breathing room yet. The Former Guy was very much a part of the lead-up to this war, supporting the little KGB ferret in his grandiose plans for the planet, and both of them need to be absent from the world stage for the good of all. President Zelensky was the victim of TFG’s arm-twisting over Joe Biden’s candidacy, so it’s a neat little package brought ’round full circle, and the machinations need to end now. President Zelensky has my highest respect as he fights for and with his people.

“We’ve already suffered so much. We’ve lost so many people to war, and famine, and historical events. Almost seven million Ukrainians were killed in World War II, more than any other country. We don’t need much. We’re not an imperialistic people. We aren’t very warlike. Our land is covered with black soil, so we can grow everything we need. We just need peace.”

(Baryshivka, Ukraine: HONY Archives 2014)

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A Saturday sum-up…

This week the news is war. Last week and every week preceding, the news was war. The story of human existence is war. The Never-Actually-United States has been at war somewhere in the world since we became a thing. Research conducted by the Jang Group and Geo Television Network shows that the United States has been at war for about 225 of the 243 years since its inception in 1776. (As of 2020.)

All of the above begs the question, “Why does this particular war over Ukraine get the attention of human-thinking people? Why do we care? Why is this juncture in history one to take note of?” I can only speak for the liberal who lives in my skin: This 74-year-old has observed the workings of the world for a while now, watched how men like Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama conducted themselves in office and beyond, picked up a few hints as to how the world’s supposed to work. Recently I’ve observed Donald Trump & Company, along with the bulk of the party formerly known as Republican, and watched how they conduct themselves both in and out of office. In that process, I’ve picked up a hint or two that the world isn’t working at all. The oligarchs and wannabees broke it and won’t let anybody fix it.

Now comes the little tyrant, his path paved by toadies like TFG, strutting onto the stage and declaring he’ll have it HIS way. He holds only the power the world gives him… why is the world still sleeping? Fascism and democracy do not play well together… this will not go down easy for any of us.

From the week…

President Zelensky, in uniform with his army, told Putin “When you attack us you will see our faces, not our backs.” Volodymyr Zelensky is one of Ukraine’s tens of thousands of Jewish citizens.

******

******

******

A Ukrainian woman gave sunflower seeds to a Russian soldier, telling him to put them in his pockets “so flowers will grow where your body falls.”

The animal kingdom, down to the smallest amoeba, has earned the right to laugh itself sick over humans. We are such fools.

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Just let it go, Elsa…

So much swirling around in my head, so little to write home about. The sun comes up, shines through the winter clouds or not, the sun goes down, sleep does that thing it does and delivers us to another sunrise… and life continues to happen. More every day I understand how we’re but another species on the planet, albeit the one holding most of the chips. We’re smart, too much so for our own good in key ways… “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” if you know your proverbs. We want to believe we can handle anything and everything, but when reality bites we’re just another species at the mercy of our environment and earth’s other creatures, who don’t care about us one way or another.

For me that’s a freeing realization… I haven’t sussed out the what, where, and why of my existence, but I know I’m a sentient being with limited power in my sphere. Rather than fill me with dread and fear, that knowledge sets me free to live as me, end of story. I didn’t ask to come here, as far as I know, but I’ve willingly paid my dues on my way through, done what I can most of the time to make things better instead of worse, tried to keep it real. What more is required… what am I neglecting? It’s a large planet inhabited by billions of people, of which I am one. A blip. A speck of DNA in the universe. And yet, somehow, I matter to a handful of humans who are my life; therefore, I belong here, being me… and I don’t have to understand that in order to proceed.

If we could strip away ego, ambition, greed, and all the meanness in the world, leaving each of us standing in our own skin, on our own merits… and if we could each unselfishly look out for the guy next to us… being human would eventually become an accolade. “Yeah, that’s the species that cares, the one that nurtures its weaker members and pulls for the good of all. It’s cool to be human.”

Mr. Waits is my spirit animal.

With every passing day post-op I feel more human in good ways and more equipped to meet life on its terms, which… well, we have no other options, so… Projects that have languished for months (years) under my piteous gaze are falling like dominoes now that I can start and finish most of them in a day or less and without penalty in terms of pain. So… plot change… reset… I’m possibly not irretrievably ancient after all… and the freedom to pursue a goal and achieve it is beyond value.

*****

The world needs us to keep dancing…

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Snow-day stuff…

Our frantically-forecast snowpocalypse failed to live up to its billing, but things are white outside, we had biscuits & gravy for breakfast followed by a lovely soak, and I feel no impulse to leave the building today for any reason. Totally zen situation. Now, if only it were the weekend, with sports on TV… so soothing.

I’ll never not love rain and snow, the more the better… to a point. Snow, especially, carries magic in its kaleidoscope stencils.

Every day for an introvert is filled with never-ending thought… endless attempts to process it all… to figure out where one is and why…

Inevitably, a large percentage of my thought process becomes about current events, in this recent era more than ever. In our naiveté as Americans we want to believe, like Pollyanna, that all will be well no matter what because… well… we’re Americans. While incontrovertible facts tell us we’re becoming a less healthy republic by the day, we continue finding comfort in our determined delusions. Memo from a Baby Boomer this morning: America is very much in trouble, democracy is holding on by a hangnail, and we’re seeing nothing on the horizon massive enough to take out the impending fascism that’s bearing down on us. It’s ugly, but it’s truth we need to hear.

Reality does have a way of barreling right over us without a backward glance to survey the damage – that’s how “what ifs” come to us. A basic reality is that each of us is one person… one. We can do only what we can do. But when we pool our efforts and resources, human existence starts to take on a whole different look, so take heart…

And then to make yourself available.

We’re powerless to fix much of anything in the world… so the only logical place to start is with us. Be the real you today… I’ll be thinking of you.

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Annnd… we’re rolling…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/05/2022

A few touchstones, a week into the crisp new year, beginning with a roadmap I’m still learning how to navigate…

Anne is a much-beloved kindred spirit.

*****

This has to be said and I hope you won’t have any trouble recognizing yourself in its joyous celebration of humanity…

*****

Some of us require extra grace, so thank you for giving it.

It doesn’t.

On the other hand, once we slide into life’s third trimester of experiencing it all for ourselves… we start knowing a couple of things and remembering what we may have forgotten. I love this photo montage for the way it ties my G’ma Wagner’s era to mine and keeps the love and humanity intact. Some things are universal forever.

And based upon zero evidence other than an odd quiet sense of hope this morning, I see this as a distinct possibility:

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What they wanted…

Artist Credit: Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour
"We wanted to help people
We were smart and driven
We loved science and physiology, humans and disease
So we made a commitment
We signed up
It was an honor

We read thousands of pages
Attended hundreds of lectures
Pulled all-nighters
Took more exams than we thought possible
Finals week felt insurmountable
But it didn’t break us
It made us stronger

We learned statistics and biochemistry
Immunology and pathophysiology
We mastered genetics, virology and pharmacology
We read scientific papers and learned how to dissect them
Papers, not videos
It was an honor

We came running when you needed us
Literally, running down the hallway
To the ICU, the trauma bay, labor and delivery
I need help, you said
We can help, we said
It was an honor

There were moments that we thought would break us
Moments that drove us to journaling, to therapy, to nightmares
Broken babies.
Paralyzed children.
Dead pregnant mothers with three kids at home.
The wail of a mother whose son just died.
We bent but we did not break
We returned because you needed us
And we could help
It was an honor

Then there was fear
Fear of walking into our place of work
Fear that we’d be killed by going to work
Fear that we’d kill a loved one because of our work
There were tears and sleepless nights and anti-anxiety medications
But you banged your pots and pans
You sent us pizzas and called us heroes
You needed us
We could help
So we wore our masks, and our gowns, and our gloves, and our goggles
We decontaminated ourselves before going home and isolated ourselves from our families
We almost broke
It was an honor

How quickly the joy turned to defeat
Elation to rage
You’ve learned to do your own research now
You know better than we do
Gaslighting is your language
Your selfishness is astounding
You don’t want our help when we ask you to stay healthy
Yet you arrive at our doors begging for help at the end

You stole our resources
You hobbled our ability to help those who did what they were supposed to do
You killed our patients by filling our beds and using up our ventilators
We can’t help any more
You broke us
There is no more honor”

- Anonymous

A poem written by a physician after reflecting on the veteran who died in Texas because of the ICU bed shortage. 
Artist credit:
Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour

*****NOT A DISCLAIMER: I read yesterday that people are simply done with COVID and all its iterations, finished, through, sick of hearing about it, and I know in my bones that's a fact. But it doesn't change the equal and opposite fact that COVID doesn't care, it just wants to eat, sleep, live, and reproduce, and will for as long as we allow it. Our refusal to deal with facts is bringing our amazing, incredible, unmatched, behemoth of a healthcare apparatus down on our heads and the implosion will be... simply beyond. We've been warned... and warned... and warned... and we do not care. Sars-cov-2 is now part of the warp and woof of human existence, and the cost will be incalculable. "The fall thereof was great... "

There's nothing you nor I can do about any of it now, unless you're unvaccinated. You have the power to do that much and it isn't too late yet. The variants are becoming increasingly uglier, but the vaccinated are staying out of hospitals when they do fall ill. However tired you are of knowing about it, the death toll goes on relentlessly. And the people who once had the tools, energy, and incentive to help are finding other ways to stay alive. May whatsoever gods there be have mercy on us.

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Forward in small steps…

My grandmother once gave me a tip:

In difficult times, move forward in small steps.

Do what you have to do, but little by little.

Don’t think about the future 

or what may happen tomorrow.

Wash the dishes.

Remove the dust.

Write a letter.

Make a soup.

You see?

Advance step by step.

Take a step and stop.

Rest a little.

Praise yourself.

Take another step.

And then another.

You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.

And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

***

Author: Elena Mikhalkova 

Photo Artist: Rosanne Olson

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A gift…

From my heart to yours this weekend… for all who read my “working through anger” post yesterday, and all who need the sweetness this morning.

John sent this, saying it makes him think of Kimmers and me, which puts me on the edge of tears before the music starts. Finneas, beautiful soul, is a brother to Billie Eilish and has worked with her from the start of her career. At the end of the video, their family silently gathers together…

How do you know
If you’ve done everything right?
Is it the love you have at hand
Or the cash you kiss at night?

How do you know
If it was worth it in the end?
Did every second really count
Or were there some you shouldn’t spend
On anything but anyone you love?
Was this the life that you were dreaming of?
A movie night, a yellow light
You’re slowing down and days are adding up

So don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child
Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

I’m unimpressed
By the people preaching pain
For the sake of some small gain
In the sake of someone’s name

I’m unprepared
For my loved ones to be gone
Call ’em far too often now
Worry way too much about mom

Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child
Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

It’s family and friends, and that’s the truth
The fountain doesn’t give you back your youth
It’s staying up too late at night and laughing under kitchen lights
So hard you start to cry

Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

–Finneas O’Connell

Find your joy this holiday season. Look for a handhold and hang on…

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Anger vs Gratitude…

Woke up yesterday morning processing anger, straight out of a dream… Kim said the growls and grumbling at 6am, which he first mistook for snoring, were truly impressive. I repeatedly ran everything through the wood chipper all day but the fury remains untamed as of wake-up time this morning.

Also, write this down: I DO NOT SNORE. However, my dreams are a wonder to behold for scope and realism. Yikes.

The catalyst for the renewed angst seems to have been a combo of things… fresh statistics illustrating our dismal outlook in the face of COVID and its progeny… the fact that we find ourselves in this position due to humans’ inability to care about other humans… and a heartbreaking article about the burden we’ve placed on the medical world and the toll that’s taking.

The pandemic is as much an industrial-strength shock to the medical community as to the rest of us out here who of course know it all. Those medical people spent long years full of sleepless nights on little food, learning how to save lives, maybe even yours or mine someday. That’s their drive, to make people better and thus the world a teensy bit softer for the landings. And they’re good at it, really good, and they know things, and have seen and done things which you and I do not want to know, see, or do… nor will we, because we don’t have what it takes.

Medical personnel do the jobs they’ve been trained and educated to do on an equal-opportunity basis… pigment, religion, politics, and rude combative patients notwithstanding, they do their jobs. And then one day a snazzy new virus knocks on the door like the skeavy Orkin termite, and the game changes overnight. The breakout quickly becomes the pandemic the world has now been living in for two years, with all medical personnel, equipment, and hospital units required for the flood of sick and dying. It’s no longer about “making things better,” there’s no time. You keep the patient on your right alive, if possible, while losing the one on your left. The hours blur while you pull double shifts on your feet, clothed in trash bags and week-old masks because the supply closets are bare, praying you don’t catch whatever this thing is and end up dropping in your tracks. And then you watch that very thing happen to a colleague… and then another. And in a heartbeat, working in the medical field has become more about death than life.

Months have passed, you’re still pulling all your shifts and more, and now the monster has a name… Coronavirus. Or COVID-19. Or just COVID. There are even approved vaccines available… but not for you… because medical people, some of the first and longest-exposed, are not at the top of anybody’s priority list, which should have been an early indicator of where it would all end up. We only hurt the ones we love… or need like air and water.

Now you’re lonnnng months into the process, which feels less like a battle and more like an endurance race. You’ve gone from hero… “Doctor, please, help me!” “Nurse, I need you, please!” … to zero. “No, I DO NOT HAVE COVID, YOU’RE LYING!!” “It’s a HOAX! I can’t die!!” Nurses and doctors have been assaulted, insulted, spit on, screamed at, and blamed for letting people die of a scary disease those same people refused to vaccinate for. In the hopeless melee, the lofty goal of making things better dies a quiet death, and people we desperately need for our own selfish purposes are simply not there anymore. Their own institutions, in many cases, haven’t backed them up, haven’t provided the safety measures needed, haven’t compensated them for their heroic over & above sacrifices. The public, in too many places, has turned on them in ways we could never have imagined. These nurses and doctors see their lives trickling out, day by day, for a goal that no longer feels reachable… and for a populace that wouldn’t know the difference if the landings were made softer… and they’re finding other, less soul-killing things to do.

In parts of our nation where COVID and its variants are rampant, the bright shiny people who wanted to make a difference are walking away. Why risk death for people who don’t in the least mind if you drop in your tracks because they refused the antidote? Or because your employer doesn’t want to pay extra staff. Or “extra staff” is now a figment of the imagination. We won’t comprehend what we’ve lost until they’ve all taken their gifts elsewhere.

The pandemic is nowhere close to being over. Two thousand people a day are still dying in the “greatest nation on earth.” It hasn’t magically disappeared, it hasn’t been prayed away, it’s with us for the duration, however long Mother Earth lets us stay in the nest. As so often happens now, the minority chose for all of us, and life here will never be the same. I’m exorcising my rage today by paying homage to every person in the medical community who has tried, against insurmountable odds, to change the outcome, to save all lives possible, to make a difference. Thank you for BEING THERE and for using who you are to slow our slide to hell. Really, truly… thank you forever.

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