Happy B’day to the KIMN8R…


You know those days when everything that can go wrong does? When you just can’t catch a break? When everything crumbles to dust at your touch? Yeah, there are plenty of those but today wasn’t one of them, not at all.

First, it’s Kim’s birthday and we walked over to Jefferson’s for a fish & chips lunch. We’ll go to Limestone tomorrow for a fitting celebration – his age finally has a 7 in it like mine, but in a different spot.

Second, the great condo we put on the market almost five years ago sold. Today. Funds are in the bank.

Third, the University of Kansas Jayhawks are playing Clemson in the Sweet Sixteen this evening and we’ll be stuck like glue to the game.

Fourth, we saw again today what wonderful friends we have and how sweet life is because of that.

Fifth, we have terrific family. That’s everything.

Milestones are a good opportunity to look around and see what’s changed since the last one. All the good stuff is still here and so are we – that’ll work.



A Paean to Spring Fever


Favorite kind of morning: waking up to rain hitting the windows (again/still/some more) while I watch the house get darker instead of lighter in the usual order of things. Sometimes I amaze myself – I got out of bed even though it was still raining.

Aaannnd, that was yesterday. Didn’t do diddly. Rain – 1, Judy – 0.

This morning dawned overcast and dry, or so I’m told. Wonder if “hazy and nondescript” will be the magic that moves me. That would be delightful – I have a long list.

However…I’m not through procrastinating yet and I’m fully engaged in what’s lately being referred to as “executive time.” Reading, drinking tea, writing, annoying people on Facebook, paying a bill – just one, wondering what’s for lunch…

And oh look, now we’re going shopping – that’s productive, right? It was even on the list. Wow, when you’re this much of a whiz at life you can’t even stop yourself from achieving goals right and left.

Guess what. Now it’s Wednesday. But it’s okay because I figured out what my problem is: Spring Fever like gangbusters. I’ve wallpapered my desktop and all my apps in electrifying flowers, which you’d think would zing me into my most productive frame of mind, but you’d be wrong.

Clearly you would, because now it’s Thursday. Pitiful situation with no remedy in sight other than a blistering summer capable of melting Spring Fever in its tracks. Knowing the odds, my plan is to soak up all the spring there is and deal with lists when it’s too hot to do anything else.

Not my house up there but it looks like a perfect spot for greeting the season and nurturing the Fever…






Let the good rain down…



What’s a dark rainy morning good for besides almost everything…

…good for listening to the drops against the windows…watching the neighborhood dissolve into a distorted river…sitting in the dim quiet of my house and thinking Zen (as opposed to anguished) thoughts…warming my hands on my favorite tea mug…writing words and bantering with friends…and maybe, possibly, crying just a little.




Grief – a most peculiar thing…


“The world breaks everyone, then some become strong

at the broken places.”

– Ernest Hemingway

So many kinds of grief for humans to deal with. So many humans dealing with so much hurt. Be kind. Let the candles speak.


We’ll keep a light on for ya’…


“Energy is wasted when you try to influence people who have already decided they’re not going to be happy or nice. Let them be as they are, and spend energy on the people who love and accept you, where you are and as you are. You’ll always attract more of the kind of people you focus your energy and attention on.”


This ^^^ popped up today as a memory from 2012. I posted it originally sans quotation marks or accreditation, which isn’t how I do things unless they’re my own words, but I somehow don’t think I wrote it. Six years of wear and tear can take a toll on the memories, though, so who knows, and regardless, I agree with the sentiment despite the fact that it’s a hard lesson to own and remember. Thus…

…it took the current state of the union to finally show me that we genuinely are two very different countries here in these (loosely) United States. What turned the light on was seeing the news I get from The Guardian, Reuters, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal and a handful of others, contrasted head-to-head with news delivered by Fox Entertainment in the same time frames, and in no way did the two resemble each other. Different topics, different emphasis, different atmospheres entirely. I consider myself hard to shock these days, but that did it – the contrast couldn’t have been more stark, and I can’t even be cute or coy about it. Because…

…it told me that people in the world I occupy, and people who live in Fox World, don’t hear the same updates, see the same stories, know the same facts, embrace the same concepts – so how could we possibly hope to ever understand each other? No exaggeration on my part, it was a revelation, I don’t care how naive that makes me sound. I’ve held out hope that honest conversation and a give and take of ideas will someday heal the divide, without understanding how deep and wide it really is. I can’t imagine what it would take to bring us together as humans, which makes me very sad. And…

…it’s hard to bottle up the blues long term, so thank you to everyone out there who’s helping to keep the flame lit until it’s your turn in the barrel. I’m pretty sure the brokenness of the world is going to require everything we’ve got and then some, so a team effort is all that really matters right now and none of us can get through this without friends.

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” ~Amiel







Thinking is harder than it looks…


Hard-Core Reader knows by now that I spend a sizable amount of time observing –  pondering pretty much everything, really, and watching for the sparks that tell me something needs a closer review. It’s good exercise for the brain and so far it’s helped me sidestep (most) wacko mindsets and exploits. I like that my thoughts still belong to me and can’t be easily swiped, although technology could well change that in my lifetime.

We watched the Oscars Sunday night without falling asleep until almost the end and we were struck by how low-key it all felt compared to other years (some are calling it boring). There were snippets that didn’t work, a joke or two that fell flat, along with a handful of other predictable elements, but the room didn’t seem as angst-laden and fueled by savage competition as past shows. This time, glitz and glam took a bit of a back seat to camaraderie and genuineness, if I dare say that about Hollywood, and the whole thing felt, to us…comfortable. I have a few theories as to why that was, but I need to ponder awhile before I try to name them.

As Andy Rooney would say, “And another thing… ” – I dislike websites that promise an interesting story about someone you remember and then take you to pages full of ads and 50 or more photos to scroll through in order to get to the one you wanted to see. I rarely stick with a site like that – what are they thinking? Who has that kind of time? And while I’m here…I detest autoplay videos that pop up and startle the bejesus out of me about once a day, and ads that flash while I’m trying to read. I zap them and wonder if maybe life’s other little annoyances could be dealt with in a similar way – “I don’t like what you’re doing – please get out of my sight.”

Which brings us to ocular migraines, heinous little beasts that flare up with the least provocation – including flashing images and bright lights – and threaten to end the day before it gets started. Luckily this morning there was a cup of 2-day-old brown liquid left in the coffee pot, having somehow escaped the notice of the cook, and its caffeine content is at work on the cranial vessels as we speak. It tastes okay, too, so it’s a win-win.

Random weather lately, and there are light snow flurries going on outside my windows at the moment. Not a word was said about that in the forecast I saw before I was awake, which signifies nothing – forecasts here tend to be more of a guideline or a multiple choice survey. As Kansans we’re inordinately proud of our weather – not every state has the sheer range we do, often resulting in four or five kinds of weather in a single day.

Thanks for listening to another batch of ponderings – I hope the sun’s shining in your world today and that any surprises will be pleasant ones.







Sunday wins…



Second day of the weekend dawned overcast and hazy, but warmish – 50s for a high and chances of rain into Monday. We made ourselves over-tired yesterday with the stress of our beloved Jayhawks losing their last regular season game – the trauma, you have no idea. So today will be flake-out day in order to recover. Except that the 5th Rule of Sunday says ranch omelets WILL be consumed, and we’re out of eggbeaters, ranch beans, and the right cheese, so the Big Guy is in street clothes before his time, prowling Stabby Dillons while atoning for our mutual sin of sloth in the preceding 24 hours. Think carefully before retiring, kids – it isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds. There are hazards.

And now the sun’s shining and I see blue sky out the windows. The hunter/gatherer is home and performing the ol’ breakfast magic, so the day is shaping up – I still plan to spend the bulk of it semi-comatose, but I’m guessing the KIMN8R, having tasted fresh air before he was even awake, will be back out there on his bicycle, or afoot, or on a PickleBall court. SoCal Man thrives in the sunshine.

While he was out slaying this morning’s dragon, I had an unexpected conversation with a Facebook friend that was equal parts sorrow and joy, and I feel infinitely richer for it. I hope that before you go to sleep tonight you will have found a new happy thing, experienced a serendipity, resolved a pain, seen things that made you smile. Keep your eyes and your heart open, life is too good to miss and there are people counting on you.

P.S. I’m thinking the pink-on-green looks either springish or bilious, what say you?



In like a…



March arrived here yesterday in lamby-pie fashion and it’s bringing us sunshine and soft temps again today. I’ve been absorbing some of that and hoping it wipes out the blue mood that’s stalked me all week.

March is an odd duck – it holds no major holidays unless you’re Irish (everybody’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day), the weather forecast is up for grabs, and the whole thing seems neither here nor there, this nor that. But my two favorite men celebrate birthdays this month, four days apart, so it isn’t all slush and gray days.

This seems like a perfect time to tell you that I get high on knowing people actually take the time to read what I write. I’m always happy to know you’ve been here, and some of you read every post without fail. That’s amazing. I’m hit and miss and I don’t write on a schedule, so I’m always surprised when you figure out I’m still here doing whatever this is. I suspect it’s cheap therapy.

Keep a good thought – we’re all still above ground and spring is just around the corner.


What we allow continues…



words are broken 

thoughts powerless

tears dry up


we sit with our pain

and wonder when (if)

we might heal


world is broken

no going back

water under the bridge


in uncharted territory now

without a map

bravery is all in all


what matters


or nothing


everything means we fix it

nothing and we blink

and look away


is love dying

are the stars winking out one by one

is life fading from under our feet


will we survive to tell the story

are we a cautionary tale

and is it nearly over


JSmith 2/16/2018




The stuff of life…


February is underway and the purge is on again, this time in the deepest recesses of my iMac, where my latent hoarder tendencies find safe pasture. In my favor, I’m a fairly organized hoarder, but even those systems are breaking down and need a good whomp to shake out the dust and detritus again, still, some more. It’s true, we really can be and often are our own worst enemies. Procrastination = my downfall. I’ll look at, listen to, deal with, make a decision LATER – I’m far too busy right now with whatever it is that gets me to the end of the day. So things stack up a little, out of sight and, of course, out of mind.

The “later” concept bleeds over into all of life. Don’t burn that gorgeous candle now, save it for “a special occasion.” Wait until you can drag it out of the far recesses of a storage closet after four blazing hot summers, including the one when the A/C gave up. It’s okay to enjoy it now because it’s too ugly to save for company.

Growing up on the farm, only guests were allowed to see the good dishes or know we had them. Being prepared counts. If, say, the governor were out on a listening tour at some point and was curious to know what that dead-end dirt road led to, and he and his henchmen knocked on our door and it was around lunchtime, my mother wouldn’t have been embarrassed to serve them a flash-cooked meal on our unblemished china. Priorities, people. On the other hand, she was wise enough not to give four wild children access to her dowry.

There comes a point when later begins to hold less promise and the do-it-now instinct kicks in. I’ve reached that point. You know how the center of an omelet is usually the best part? My self-imposed rule has been that I have to eat the outside ends first and then I can have the cheesy yummy center section. How stupid is that? No, no, no, it should always have been yummy centers first – when you aren’t already almost full from the less amazing stuff. If you leave anything on the plate (Ha!) it has to be the ends, not the middle, jeez, do I have to tell you EVERYthing?

Same for cake and frosting. Slide a knife horizontally through your piece of cake, neatly separating the frosting and about a half-inch of cake from the drier stick-in-the-throat part. You were going to eat that part first, right, and then reward yourself with the sweet stuff. No, look, this is important. Throw the cake in the trash and savor every bite of that frosting – you don’t have time to mess around. Later gets shorter every day, don’t waste this – no more saving the best for last.

You can extrapolate it out to just about everything – we wait for the right time, the right mood, the perfect occasion. We have to stop. I have to stop. Do the thing, enjoy the thing, appreciate the thing, in and of itself, just because. Mostly because we won’t be here forever.

Hey! Happy Tuesday, and be on the lookout for the best – it’s for you.




Perspective – a GOOD thing…


With the ever-widening gap between ages on my birth certificate and driver’s license I’m being forced to dig harder for the positives attached to getting older. First thing that comes to mind is the fact that I’m still breathing, since that isn’t a given.

Second…is that I’ve been out of circulation long enough to fall off most people’s cracker, buying me the relative anonymity I crave, and exempting me from psychically-strenuous socializing. I know staying home most of the time, either alone or with one other person, isn’t everybody’s idea of a positive, but in my world it’s an amazing thing and will probably help me live to a hundred or so – the Zen is hugely beneficial, both to me and to others who are thus spared.

A close third has to be the freedom from OPO – other people’s opinions. OPOs used to influence my thinking to a shocking degree, but I got over that when I remembered almost no Other People ask for my opinion about anything, ever, end of story.

It’s astonishingly liberating to look up and realize you’ve survived to a certain age and some of the people who used to make you nervous aren’t even here anymore. Look at me, outliving folks and getting all happy and shit. O me of little faith.

You’ll be shocked to know that sarcasm is in the positive column – very much so. Utilized correctly, it can provide maximum relief to the wield-er, while inflicting minimal damage on the distracted target.

And since there CAN be too much of a good thing, I’ve deeply thought for long enough and have to run. I’m positive.






The world on a blue marble…




air cold sky gray drizzle

time for this patch of earth to be

an ice rink



good day

killer breakfast

cozy fire

man playing liquid melodies

on a champagne stratocaster


sweet day

snuggled in blankets

voyeurs of the sportsing

hot chocolate yes please

small world all is well

JSmith 01/7/2018




Good intentions…


It’s a gorgeous day-after-first-day-of-the-year and I’m feeling energized – I hope you are too. I intend to ride this pony until it disintegrates mid-gallop because the year just ended was an energy-suck of colossal proportions and I have catching up to do.

There are two kinds of people in the world – those who make resolutions and those who keep them. I tend to fall into the first classification, so this year I’m intentionally not making any promises. Instead I’m playing around with a short list from a blog piece I bookmarked and now can’t find. Fortunately I saved the list itself to a safer place:

  1. Choose a word of the year
  2. Set a mindful intention
  3. Keep a diary
  4. Persist

The first step is hard because there are SO MANY WORDS. I’ve been trying some on for size but haven’t picked a finalist yet.

Setting a mindful intention is easier – I know what I want to accomplish in the next year and have been saying it out loud, but only to myself, because sometimes verbalizing to other people sets all kinds of expectations in motion and who needs the guilt.

In another lifetime I kept a handwritten diary and filled years’ worth of notebooks with my thoughts. I could pick up the habit again. Might happen.

The fourth point is crucial so it helps to remember that resting when you need to is preferable to quitting.

It’s a simple list but we all know that some of the simplest things in life are the most difficult, so we’ll see what 2018 brings to us and what we do with it. I wish you all success in your intentions – want to meet back here in 2019 and compare notes?


New Year, New Us?


Do you have New Year traditions? Come share what they are because I’m looking for all the positive input I can find. Pretty sure I could benefit from more knowledge instead of just giving it my best shot every year.

My instinctive go-to in the new year has always been to lighten the load for the journey but these days my OCD is engulfed in love and comfort, and in this last third of life I’m perfectly good with not having every little detail tacked down. I’ll eventually decide whether I want that thing to stay on that table and I’ll store that little pile of whatevers, but it doesn’t have to be today or even next week, which represents a considerable lowering of expectations on my part.

The OCD shows up now primarily in thought form, first of all how to constructively untangle the snake’s nest that was 2017 and move into new territory. My brain feels more at ease when my surrogate gray matter, Mr. Honkin’ Big Hard Drive, is purged of detritus, swept and ready for whatever 2018 has in store, or at least I hope so. Current task = sorting about 5,000 saved Facebook posts into collections, a capability I’ve literally longed for. So satisfying, and it’s far more likely that I’ll actually read, watch, buy, eat, play, write, interact in some way with all the entries. Or not. Doesn’t matter, I just need them organized and out of sight.

I’ve dumped tons of superfluous email, a cathartic exercise if there ever was one, and I’m down to one Gmail account, Facebook email, annnd…guess that’s it. Wow. A bit more slash and burn and I’ll float into the new year light as a feather.

This feels like a great time to thank the souls who stick with me, who faithfully (or accidentally) read my silly attempts to make sense of life. The year of our Lord 2017 has been the most insane of my entire existence – seven decades’ worth – and we have no real clue at this point what its successor is going to look like – but I’d like to think we’re ready for it. A thing I love about humans is our ability to adapt, to roll with it, to come up with a Plan B. Don’t tell us no and don’t underestimate our capacity to survive – it’s been getting us by for millenia.

I’m wishing everyone true happiness in 2018 – a genuine Happy New Year. It isn’t a magic reset button, but we can make it work for now.





A beautiful holiday season to you…


be blessed in your celebrations

be kind in your giving and receiving

be hopeful in your plans for the year ahead

be a force for love in all your relationships

be truthful in your words and actions

be encouraged by your fellow sojourners

JSmith 12/25/2017


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