An homage…

My mom was one of nine siblings and I grew up surrounded by cousins, with our maternal grandparents at the center of the circus, always. It was one of those families where the Christmas presents fill up half the living room and the dining tables take all the space that’s left. We were raised on humor, hugs, and a knowing instilled by farmers and former military that we were expected to suck it up and survive.

But Grandpa died of lung cancer… and then when Grandma, the Queen Bee, left us at age 95… all the air went out. We went from time-honored massive family reunions to none, literally in a heartbeat. The Clan has dispersed itself around the globe over the years, so there are generations of cousins I’ll never know, even by name. And it’s sobering to realize that most of the cousins I grew up with I’ll never lay eyes on again. They’re there… I’m here… neither of us is going here nor there for all the reasons… so the last time we saw each other… was the last time we’ll ever see each other.

People change. Life changes us if we’re living it at all. We assume we know the humans with whom we share a gene pool, but it’s a delusion of youth and immaturity… the longer we live, the greater the distance between us. And sharing a bloodline doesn’t mean we’ll get along, or even like each other. The current mood of the planet has soaked into every part of society by now, making family dynamics a minefield… therefore, at least half my extended family considers me “better in theory than in practice” at best… and I’m good with that.

Everything ends. The most beautiful things in the world – like a big crazy family with love coming out its pores – don’t remain static, they can’t. So I’m paying homage to a dynasty that was and is no more. It was never what we purposely remember it to be… but close enough for family and fairytales.

WHERE IT STARTED…

WHERE IT WENT… x 3 or 4 by now

Possibly the last big reunion we had. These are all 1st cousins, about half the total at the time.

Fall melancholy… moody rambling… somber thoughts…grieving the losses… celebrating what was. All respect to a big ol’ family that’s tried as hard to be human as any I know. And on we all go…

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Rain = Life

Rain, rain, do please stay… go away some other day… because there’s something about rainy days and Mondays that starts a week off right. Kim has razzleberry muffins just out of the oven, the leaves are blowing, and fall is settling in. Rain always makes a fresh start seem doable…

And I know it’s Monday and all… but a less-than-Monday outlook is permissible whenever we say so.

Over these past two years, immersed in a pandemic and a simultaneous attack on democracy, I think we Americans have a new realization about the importance of inner (and outer) rest… peace of mind and heart… freedom from threat. The way of life we value has taken on a vastly deeper meaning in the face of loss, and rest doesn’t come easy… but we can’t survive without giving in to it.

When everything within and without is in turmoil, it’s a challenge to stay focused on what matters… so along comes a rainy day to wash away the dust…

I’m heading for a nice hot soak with the Muffin Man, for which my beloved old bones will thank me. We’re in October of a year that hardly seems to have registered in key ways… beat up, jangled, but still truckin’ down the road… and good things are happening. Life continues…

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Good hearts are safe homes…

I have brazenly committed a crime this morning and I have no shame, because I stole a piece of writing (and life) that’s too exquisite to keep to myself…

Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — from her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an Old Country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate — once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

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Seasons of change…

***

Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority
.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils
.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket…
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

**

Jane Kenyon, “Three Songs at the End of Summer” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by The Estate of Jane Kenyon. 

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Choose kindness and laugh often…

An interesting discovery: Once you own what you’ve always known – that approximately half your world finds you insufferable – the next step is to laugh! And here’s where I’m grateful to people in my life who’ve shown me how to laugh at myself, sometimes at painful expense as the butt of the joke. I grew up among people whose approach to living included plenty of laughter, a grace when all else fails… so here I am, left laughing at the asshole who turns out to be me, and it’s ridiculously freeing.

There, that was a freebie this morning while I absorb the fact that it’s Friday again. I will feel no surprise one day when it’s revealed that we were part of a colossal Truman Show – won’t shock me at all, in fact by now I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what’s going on. It’s okay, Friday means weekend, and the weekend means favorite foods, so keep the cameras rolling, Mr. Director.

Sudden thought: We can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but what’s the temperature of the room if we’re simply whelmed, anybody know?

A sweet thing for end-of-the-week from a Twitter contact:

Bless the rescuers, the caretakers… the lovers.

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Since it’s clearly bits & pieces day, here’s a quote I’ve always loved. I stumbled across this well-worn copy yesterday…

Which brings me to an online conversation that happened yesterday, resulting in the following conclusion:

And my goal is to go out laughing.

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Not my job, man…

Liberating thought of the week: It is not my job to save you from yourself.

Thank you, universe, the answers always come if we can be patient enough.

So here’s the thing: when you’re the firstborn, it’s all on you in ways you don’t get until much later… but it’s a fact that when you’ve been an only child ’til close to five, you decide you know everything and are large and in charge. The role fit my justice-driven little mindset and I owned all the bossy responsibility, except for the hard work – that was Rita’s job. And now in my dotage, I’m still trying to order my personal world the way I like it. Is that misguided or what? Who does that?? The things we absorb in childhood soak into our DNA and take up residence as part of us… so sorting it all out isn’t an assignment for sissies. But if what you really want is for life not to continue along the same deepening rut, you have to change something… the only thing I can change is me, and I’m old, boys and girls, so wish me luck. Except for the obvious negatives, I don’t mind being an Old, I just don’t want to exemplify the stereotype, so I’m patiently sifting through the wreckage for the answers to life. It’s okay, I wasn’t really doing anything anyway…

It’s a beautiful September morning here and Kim’s enjoying it on the PickleBall courts while I perform that trick called waking up, even though I crawled out mere minutes after 7am. Despite, or possibly due to, a lifetime as a farmgirl, I’m this person:

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The following thought from Charles Blow has stuck with me all week, because how often do we do this to each other? Let’s be honest, it happens daily. We’re full of our own thoughts, plans, and woes, putting one foot in front of the other, and we miss the fact that somebody felt unappreciated because of our lack of attention to their own essential thoughts, plans, and woes. Full disclosure, I made Rita feel that way last week and did not have a clue that I’d done it. Every one of us is miserably human and centered on where we are, you know why? Because much of the time, WE’RE ALL WE’VE GOT. Man, if not for our inconvenient emotions we’d be… well, animals. So…

*****

What I know is that I will call fire & brimstone down on my head ’til I die, for one simple reason:

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Remind yourself today: I HAVE POWERS

Go out there today, September 16, 2021, and use your powers. Do yourself right.

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Yay, it… was Monday…

Which means that the haircut I missed on the 4th, already weeks late at that point, happens TODAY. Right, universe? Today? No shenanigans involving ERs and cardiac units, especially with Kim out of town this morning. Just gonna walk right through the cut and… get this mess cut. Too easy. Except that it wasn’t. And doesn’t life have a sense of humor… or something. The artiste who’s trying to tame this 3rd-trimester-of-life fright wig had a medical emergency of her own yesterday! For real. I assured her I won’t die from too much hair on my head, she’s hopefully recovering well today, and the big-hair experiment over here continues…

The weather was perfect yesterday – not hot, not windy, not too much of anything, just right – and that’s always a gift in the middle of August. The little things are everything, with the state of our existence now permanently in flux. Cooler weather… the bagel on the counter when I woke up… the blessed quiet in the house… it’s an all-day list. The best little gift I’ve given myself in recent months has been shutting the door on TV news. There are entire days when the screen is black until the evening sportsing and frolicking, and it’s… just good. I read the straight skinny most days from bona fide feeds… and breathe. I thought I’d miss being dialed in, go through withdrawal, cheat-watch, be in a crappy mood. What happened was I immediately forgot all about it, not because I’m pre-CRS but because my psyche was primed and ready to shed itself of the daily wear and tear. I’m not shirking any responsibilities as a citizen, I’m still engaged, still aware, just processing information differently. It’s all about managing the spaghetti and the waffles.

DISCLAIMER: Since “happy and at peace” doesn’t mean lobotomized, the following is true…

And by the time I get my hair cut we’ll be twins.

I love you, life, don’t quit me now.

And a little something fun for the kiddos…

mornings are for baking
evenings are for beer
middays are for taking naps
it happens daily here

life is good no matter what
and does go on and on
when you treat it with respect
it carries you along

tradition can be stilting
routine can grind your gears
but a balanced life will roll along
'twixt the baking and the beers

merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along...

JSmith 08/16/2021

*May be sung as a round

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Nobody knows what today holds. Anything… literally… can happen. Be fully alive.

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… and that’s when the fight started!

What a night! Things were rockin’ and a’rollin’ and ALL the answers were blowin’ in the wind, my friend. Everything broke loose here around 2am when our balcony furniture started doing the shimmy, with the greenery and blooms taking the worst end of it. Kim headed out to referee but changed his mind when the wind and rain slammed against the partially-opened door. The chaos was multiplied on the roof, with tables and chairs tumped over, sodden cushions blown against the walls, tomatoes and peppers slammed to the floor, trim boards torn loose, destruction in all directions. At some point during the party, neighbor’s big rattan sofa blew over the railing, off their 3rd-floor balcony, and landed in front of the parking garage. It was a spectacular event accompanied by 5.5″ of rain and at least 6′ of wind… and Ms Can’t Hear What Yer Saying missed the whole damn show. This crazy life.

Our summer babies have the sadz.
But whatever this is, we’re siding the building with it next year – it’s impervious to everything.

By the time Kim got me woke up this morning, he’d been over to Mass Street for a haircut and brought back my fav Starbucks extravagance – an Iced Brown Sugar Oatmeal Blonde Espresso, a subtle reminder that he’s glad I’m still breathing. It’s the little things. And now I’m chasing it with Iced Kim Smith Fresh-Ground Beans. This crazy life is okay.

John’s in the Bahamas with friends this week for some much-needed decompression, and I’m entirely more relaxed knowing they’re getting to enjoy that. There’s much to be said for vicarious living, just ask me. Saves a whole lotta wear and tear…

And now, after a week of dental appointments and other intentionally-scheduled pain and suffering, I’m primed for a weekend of being nothing but my lazy self. This crazy life is really good.

We made a spur-of-the-moment lunch choice today and tried the new BBQ place a block south of us – Gold Medal BBQ, owned and operated by, and I quote “Olympic Gold Medalist Kyle Clemons and World Class Wife. Specializing in Memphis style smoked meats.” They’re athletes with ties to KU and the community, and the very personable young Mr. Clemons stopped by our table to chat, so that was fun. His mama was in the kitchen making the cole slaw, making Kim an automatic bona fide fan, as it’s the real deal. We’ll be back, with friends in tow. The food and service were terrific, and this non meat-eater would happily consume entire pounds of the pulled pork on just about any medium you can name. We had it as beignet appetizers, with sugar, darlin’, yes. And then I had the Wild Hog, a generous baked potato with choice of meat (pulled pork, you guessed it), cheese, and sour cream. Okay, yeah, they’ve got me. The dam on the COVID food desert in my brain is showing giant cracks. So happy…

This crazy life is so good on a daily basis that it’s insane to complain, but we all know how people are…

Hello, weekend, doin’ great so far…

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Oh look, it’s Trivia Tuesday!

A handy thing about keeping a blog, however long in the tooth and past its prime it may get, is having a place to stash “keepers” – the melange that gets my attention through the week and politely waits to be shared. I like the patchwork that’s created by a few days of hoarding.

Since I’m in the process of shedding layers of anger accumulated since the start of the pandemic, a lot of what catches my eye relates to that. We came out of either the 2nd or 3rd wave of COVID just in time to greet the Delta wave hitting us from unvaccinated next-door Missouri, and things are kind of going on hold again. So yeah, there’s anger, some of it “righteous.” A comment found online:

“The Delta Variant got this bad because of people like you (anti-vaxers). We’ve been in this pandemic almost a year and a half. I’m tired of it. I want my life back. I want shit to be normal again. Shut up and get the god damn shot.”

That’s where I am this morning, but working on it. People are selfish, end of story, and if it’s truly every man for himself (women and children be damned) we’ve lost the plot on this grand experiment of democracy.

*****

Masks, distancing, all the protocols. I’m saying it nicely, with my inside voice, but you know it’s true.

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One week’s numbers.

Medical data says it’s the unvaccinated who are harboring, incubating, and sharing the Delta variant, and they represent some 99% of deaths from same. The vaccinated are still getting sick in various (low) percentages depending on region, but they aren’t in hospitals on ventilators – they get well. However it impacts you, COVID-19 is an illness you don’t want to encounter once, let alone twice, and for every reason in the world it’s in the planet’s best interest that we somehow still manage to contain it. The tragedy lies in the ultimate challenge to shut the lid on Pandora’s box after the fact, so this mob of viruses (virii?) is likely here to stay, in its various iterations. That makes me justifiably angry, but I’m laying it down… for today… along with my concern for beautiful young people in this world, some of whom are raising amazing little ones, all being strong in the face of fog and fear… and for so many other humans who are making it through, showing up, doing the things. None of them deserved this lack of preparation, mobilization, engagement, or caring on the country’s behalf, yet here they still are. All respect.

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My comment to a Facebook friend just now (edited):

“The whole thing is ugliness from start to (hopefully someday) finish. My rage has simmered since learning about coronavirus; through the agonizing wait for hospital personnel to have access to the vaccines (LONG after politicians who STILL bad-mouth them stepped to the front of the line and got theirs); past losing friends for saying one too many times that there’s an RN I care about more than any other human out there; through people’s refusal to help themselves, and their willingness to put the lives around them at risk; through all the denial and racism and other visceral hatred out there. I’m tired of being angry and I can’t afford to replace it with ennui and depression, so I have to deal with it. Stand back… “

ICU Nurse

Kathryn Ivey’s statement is the saddest part of the whole pandemic saga – it didn’t have to be. Which brings me to another apropo comment…

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Can’t remember the last time I argued the facts with anyone. Besides Kim.

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Life, as we all say, goes on – to a point. It’s brief, so it’s important to me to live it with joy and enthusiasm, which requires chutzpah, energy, and an unfailing sense of humor.

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Joy is still a thing…

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, with rain and thunder, and now a peachy glow in the eastern sky. There’s a bouquet on the table and the morning hugs are extra sweet, because today’s our anniversary. Seventeen years ago, on a Sunday, after church, two dreamers made promises in front of many witnesses, and much living has ensued.

Wedding Brunch in the Kids’ Church

Since we walked out that day hand in hand, there’ve been broken bones, surgeries, heavy-duty illnesses and diagnoses, heartaches for loved ones, sad goodbyes… and more pure goodness and joy than any human deserves. The promises we made to each other on July 25, 2004, and repeatedly since, have been kept, are being kept, will be kept, and it’s an occasion to celebrate. Even if both of us DID space it off until yesterday morning!

August 2014

*****

Frank O’Hara, poet of the NY School & exemplary bohemian, died 50 years ago today in an accident on Fire Island. (Via @deborahsolo)

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The mystery of Monday…

Mondays are ridiculous in retirement because what’s the difference? And yet… our psyches have long been conditioned to know that Friday night to Monday morning IS different, feels different, settles down into us in singular ways; therefore, Mondays feel sleepier and less motivated than most other weekdays, and more susceptible to random naps. I’ll take that…

We have a temporary cool-down outside, from a high of 97º yesterday to a forecast 79º later today – somebody’s dyslexic and it’s very sweet. I wore my granny cardigan on the balcony this morning, but my feet were bare – summer’s here! That doesn’t seem quite real this year, but time doesn’t lie… or so they say…

We’ll have things going on this week and next, and then just like that it’ll be JULY. I remember setting an optimistic goal of July 4th for getting fully vaccinated – and repaired as much as possible – to be ready for life when it returned. It’s happening, we’re here, our community and life around the country are making a comeback, and it feels right and good. The flipside is that too much of the world is still suffering from the pandemic and too many world citizens are still fighting the fixes, but I’m encouraged by the smart people all around me and in leadership, so this Monday morning is going down as a win on the books. I’d rather win every time, I like winning, winning feels excellent. But a friend told me you can’t win ’em all, so some of the victories have to be on the inside. When I kick a blue mood to the curb, when I decide not to think about who’s happy to be free of me, when I feel sorry for myself a teensy little bit and then know I’m an idiot for it… those are wins, dammit, a person can build on those. Watch me. 😂 The sun’s peeking through the cloud cover now, I can do this.

If you’ve ever wished you didn’t care… wished you could make the important things not matter… wished you could turn off, drop out, take a mental hiatus until things come right again… don’t. Don’t wish it, and don’t wish away how it all makes you feel. Life keeps right on going and we’re better off if we go with it, willingly and with some sense of where it might be taking us, though we’re blind in the face of the unknown. We don’t have the luxury of dropping out – life simply doesn’t last that long, even though a random Monday can seem never-ending…

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We carry on…

It was a fun weekend, resulting in a train of thought that’s still on the tracks this morning… and the main nugget is that the hum and swirl of American life rises out of a rich network of subcultures thrumming with energy and heart. Some of our societal microcosms are readily visible on the surface, with signs and symbols we know at a glance… service organizations like the Lions Club; religious groupings; a worldwide fellowship for magicians; the Hell’s Angels; and a club for every possible area of human interest under the sun. Saturday night we got to meet a subculture we previously knew almost nothing about – the world of gyms and cage fighting. When you “know a guy,” you go there.

A young veteran we love and respect owns a gym in the KC area with some other people including his wife, and in the interest of positive advertising, physical fitness, and pure badassery, he’s fought his way to professional status and a spot just under the headliner on the card… so it was time we saw the show for ourselves. A sweltering hot evening, long lines of fans, huge fairgrounds pavilion with big open windows, BBQ, drinks, a light-show going on, music that was primarily heavy-duty vibrations felt from the feet up, long tables arranged concentrically with ends toward the cage, and chairs designed by Satan himself for maximum torture. Knew I was gonna be in trouble, but I wasn’t missing this, even though the undercard consisted of something like fourteen fights before it was our man’s turn. And it was great – we were with friends who are family and everything was laughter and hugs and a feeling I’d forgotten over the past eighteen months… belonging. I found myself doing things I vowed I’d “never do again,” like sip a sistah’s drink when offered, shake hands, hug people face to face, laugh and talk unmasked in a public gathering… but almost three months of being fully vaccinated, plus our negligible transmission rate, makes all the difference. The people-watching was sublime – no worries about the generations coming up, America… they’re beautiful.

Kim has taught me a lot about boxing, which was of absolutely no use in this venue – the action is fast and furious, three 3-minute rounds, and there may have been only one match that lasted through two. Most of the amateur matches were over in under a minute, with someone either knocked out or tapping out, followed by hugs and camaraderie all ’round. These guys fight out of various gyms and mostly know each other, and the whole operation, under the glitz and glitter, is squeaky clean, everybody checked again before entering the cage, everything recorded and monitored. That said, there’s a thing in all of us that loves a winner, and we can turn primitive in a heartbeat when that’s on the line. I can still scream with the loudest of them, and I welcomed every chance to stand up outta that chair. A colossal thank you to DM Bruce Associates for their co-sponsorship of the night and their sweet hospitality to us as always.

Our man Deron “The Pharaoh” Carlis won by knockout in the 2nd round and walked away unmarked, so the evening was a total upper, and when we came home after 10:30, 8th Street was all lights and people, with the streetside dining areas full. We hope the city will let those stay open all summer!

When the light goes… when life dies down to an ember… it’s easy to think it might be finished, never coming back, never the same again. But being in that pavilion on Saturday night, with people from all over the NE corner of Kansas, having Deron’s (ridiculously young) parents come over to hug us, and seeing other people we’ve met since moving here, full of happiness and hugs, was a little revelation: I still need other humans, they aren’t all impossible to communicate with, and it feels good to care. Who knew cage fighting could do all that?

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Zen for the Third Trimester of Living

It’s a sunny Monday, there are actual butterflies outside my window, and I’m feeling all charitable and positive-y, blessed be. The morning walker brought me a nice warm Everything bagel, made a fresh pot of coffee, and started the day/week with hugs, so I already owe him AND the universe, meaning a good attitude is the very least I can do, and it’s so simple on the good days…

My fav RN and I had a text convo this morning that touched a little on what I’m sharing now, in the sense that one way to survive in a whacked-out world is via a simple formula: Get in, do your job, get out, live your life. This piece of writing, found unattributed, provides a fairly decent manifesto for doing that at this stage:

I asked a friend who has crossed 70 and is heading towards 80 what sort of changes she’s feeling in herself. She sent me the following:

1.   After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, and my friends, I have now started loving myself.

2.   I have realized that I am not “Atlas.” The world does not rest on my shoulders.

3.   I have stopped bargaining with vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor guy save for his daughter’s school fees.

4.  I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She’s working much harder for a living than I am.

5.  I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.

6.  I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.

7.   I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment: never, NEVER turn it down, just say “Thank you.”

8.   I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.

9.   I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.

10.   I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.

11.   I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.

12.   I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas, with relationships, I will never be alone.

13.   I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.

14.   I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Author unknown but appreciated

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Smile, be kind, take in a little happiness… it befuddles the naysayers and makes children and old people feel better.

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The thaw… page 220

Kim Smith – 02/23/2021

Day 345 – 02/23/2021

Let the record show that on February 23rd at 10am I walked around on my balcony barefoot and was.not.cold. It’s 66º now at 2pm, I have the door wide open to the fresh air, and I realize I may never have known a year when I was more ready for spring. Rita came by for me this morning, we picked up coffee, and went down by the river where we walked from the Mass St. bridge to the boathouse and back, which has to be at least a mile. Felt amazing and there were quite a few fellow Lawrencians out. We drove around for a while afterward, finding the best route to the river for next time (better parking, closer to the boathouse) looking at historic houses in the neighborhood, and generally frittering away a beautiful morning.

When I got home, Kim had left for PickleBall (I spaced it off) and I was locked out, but that was easily fixed because Leon and Thomas were working on the doors to the trash building and I prevailed on Leon’s kindness for a master key. I love living here… this spot, and #lfk overall – the we-care-about-people vibe comes through, under and over everything else. Rita drove me past the hospital a little way and showed me Lawrence’s tent city for our homeless population through the winter and the pandemic – makes me feel even better about where we are and the humans we live among. They’ve built wooden structures with peaked white-tent tops in a fenced area that seems fairly isolated and safe. And just up the street they’ve broken ground for a rehabilitation center… bless you, my homies.

I couldn’t see for the sun, but I took a few pics anyway… and this is why Kim’s the photographer in the family.

Off the dirt onto the walking path…
A frozen tributary
Somebody’s hooch. Had to squint at the “TV.”
Riverbend…

The next two days won’t be outdoor days, but the weekend looks promising.

And with that, I’m sitting here looking out the window and word comes through that Tiger Woods has been injured in a rollover crash, extracted via Jaws of Life, and he’s in surgery for multiple leg injuries. There’s never been a predictable day of life for any human who’s breathed oxygen… but you really don’t need to try so hard, 2021, to outdo last year.

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Just keep moving… page 103

Day 196 – 09/24/2020

Over seven decades of living I’ve collected a laundry list of heavy-duty experiences, but the realities of the pandemic and our crisis of government have combined to generate a climate I’ve never tried to exist in before and I wish the head part of me could be unconscious until late January with no harm done to life or limb. Karma knows I’m not asking for trouble, but I’ve never wanted this desperately to shut my thoughts off, no matter how awful things in my immediate world have looked at times. The possibilities presented by the constitutional crisis we’re being sucked into are so extreme my mind won’t shut up about them and I’ve run out of useful distractions again.

After yesterday’s sound-bites to the effect that “there won’t be a transfer of power,” I said this on my FB page:

“We’d be hatching an escape plan right about now, but no country will take us, due to Covid. Gonna be ‘interesting.’ Sounds like drama but pretty sure America is HERE —-> X.

“We have friends in Canada but they’d be unable to help, with the borders closed. It’s intriguing to see that all the responses to this post have so far been from women – these are the first things we think of when our loved ones are threatened. And isn’t it instructional and humbling to experience what most of the world has lived with forever – that frisson of fear, the knowledge that we.are.not.safe.”

Gonna grab some cheese to have with that whine.

Okay, all better now.

I rescued a little treasure this week and she’s taken up residence on my desk as a daily caution against backsliding, although she and I both know the risk is minimal. Maggie makes me smile for all the reasons.

I’ll go hang out with Rita today and the rest of the world will come ’round right for a while. Odds are we’ll laugh ’til we cry, and maybe let the tears be therapeutic before we wipe them away; we’ll accomplish enough to keep her energized and encouraged; and one more day of WTF-is-coming-at-us will have been dealt with in productive ways.

And all the women said, AMEN.

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