Love staying in… page 55

Day 107 – 06/27/2020

A friendly rain shower was in progress when I got up at 6am, but between 4 and 5 o’clock there was a windstorm here with some sort of downburst and 2″ of rain. Our pretty little tree outside the east entrance is broken in half, our deck furniture was shuffled around and tumped over, and all the flowers on our balcony and the rooftop deck took a beating. We were blissfully unaware until after we’d enjoyed our Saturday Breakfast… but everything will recover, with the likely exception of the tree… and the rain is nice. The photo above is one of Kim’s hibiscus blooms – before the storm.

These are also BEFORE – the rooftop is looking more and more inviting this summer as improvements are done.

The view from the top…
Our broken tree
Gorgeous yesterday and will be again, as will the rest.

In other news, someone from one of the commercial offices in our building tested positive for COVID-19 and left without informing the other tenants and owners, after presumably sharing elevators and a mailroom with all of us. It’s easy for people to forget that they’re working in our house and basic courtesies apply.

Oh well, here’s another happy lil’ hibiscus …

EDIT: The tree looks hopeful. 😎

EDIT: Weather Service says Lawrence got between 4 and 5 inches of rain from the storm.

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Still isolating… page 53

Day 96 – 06/16/2020

In the past 3 months I’ve been inside public places a handful of times – the barbershop, the ER, my doctor’s office, and a car-service waiting room – and as a downright upright citizen I like our county’s good record on COVID-19 so far – we made page 1 of the New York Times yesterday:

This morning Rita and I met at South Park and enjoyed a walk, by order of the primary care physician we share in common. She’s wise enough to use our sister connection as medicine for whatever might ail us, and it works. The park’s about midway between our houses and it’s beautiful – populated by old-growth trees and eye-soothing flower gardens, smooth sidewalks criss-crossing the length and breadth of the space, and benches for the occasional sit-down. Rita’s a hiker, I’m not, so we strolled this morning, loosening up muscles grown accustomed to a semi-catatonic state, and talking, which is the good juju.

City workers spray disinfectant on all of the picnic tables, benches, and playground equipment in Lawrence’s 50+ parks and green spaces on a rotating basis – those spaces get well-used. Things we once gave little thought to are now part of living together as humans, much of it long overdue.

In the middle of all the insanity around us that’s beyond our control, this little city in a forest has been an oasis of calm. We hope that holds.

Peace to you, wherever you are today. 💙

A blustery spring morning on a deserted Mass Street

Photo credits: Kim Smith

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In… page 51

Day 83 – 06/03/2020

Other than a haircut and an overnight in the ER, I’m still sticking close to home for all the reasons, the biggest being that everything I need or want is right here. The hot weather we pined for has arrived… and what were we thinking? Kim has left outdoor PickleBall early the past two mornings because of it, and the A/C’s making up for lost time.

He went for a walk this morning and brought me some alley photos. The one above depicts Gwendolyn Brooks and the introduction to one of her poems: “This is the urgency:  Live! and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind,” along with Oscar Micheaux, Gordon Parks, and Langston Hughes, each of whom had a seminal influence on the character of Lawrence, Kansas.

We’re in awe of this marble bust on Mass Street, not least because of the way it responds to sunlight. It’s an incredible piece of work.

This one painted on tiny tiles next to a doorway took me back to Sunday when we had my sister Rita here for her birthday. Kim’s Mexican Kitchen was in full-on production and the results were Ah-mazing. Alas, so amazing that a picture of the plates didn’t happen.

And the birthday woman, the only pic here I can take credit for. Her blue eyes and beautiful smile light up a room and our lives. 💗

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Hanging on… page 50

Day 78 – 05/29/2020

Hello Diary, I’m still here. The weather was gray and rainy for most of the week, making it more challenging to ward off the sadz – sunshine removes the sting a little.

The ongoing loss of so many fellow Americans weighs heavy in the atmosphere but we can’t talk about it as a nation, deal with its implications now and for the future, or otherwise exorcise our disallowed grief. The deep sadness is always there.

The transformation of America from breadbasket and caring hand to the world, to a hate-filled isolationism that’s ME FIRST from the top down, is discouraging and worrisome, thus adding to the sad stack.

The willful ignorance by a third of the nation, leading to violent confrontation between proponents of science and those of bullshit, is sad-making.

The hateful determination to preserve a “separate but equal” status quo, equal being entirely arbitrary, leading to murder sanctioned by law, is unbearably sad and anger-generating.

The fact that I’m out of sync with people I love while we make our way through this supremely lonely piece of history is the ultimate sadness underlying all the rest, and I’m as powerless to fix that as I am any of the above.

***************

But where there’s sad… there’s happy. After waking up past midnight yesterday morning in anaphylactic distress, I took a little ambulance ride, did an overnight in the ER and survived to fight another day. I remember very little from when the paramedics put me on the gurney and wheeled me out of my bedroom until just before I was dismissed to come home, but I share this as a cautionary tale…

My hands, when I woke up, were swollen tight and itched so savagely I wanted to rip them off my arms, and the only thing different in my day on Wednesday had been spending about twenty minutes with needle and thread, reinforcing the ear-loop attachments on a mask that wasn’t MADE IN THE USA. The other symptoms were frightening, and I woke Kim up when my tongue started to swell – I know my limits.

Be wise, kids. And always try for the happy.

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At home… page 49

Day 71 – 05/22/2020

That’s one of Kim’s side chicks up there, the one he falls asleep with in his arms most evenings while we’re watching TV. The blonde Strat is another – she kissed him back the first time he put his hands on her. No jealousy here, my life has a soundtrack and all is well.

It’s been pouring rain this morning, with lightning and thunder, so we’re happy lil’ cave dwellers. Kim’s plants on the balcony and the rooftop garden are loving it and so are we. There’s something about the arrival of dawn followed by rapidly-increasing darkness that thrills my dreamy soul. When you add the drama of a thunderstorm, the day becomes memorable.

Since a rainy day is automatically a “day off” in this house, there will be less progress in evidence than usual – I feel I’ve already overreached by jotting a diary entry. Everything I need is right here, so Friday Zen it is, kids. Brighten the corner where you are!

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Still… page 48

Day 69 – 05/20/2020

A milestone – Kim got a haircut this morning at seven and came home with the swagger of a new man. As long as I get there before my dr.’s appointment a month away I’m good, but my goal is Monday or so after the desperate have had their shot at it all week.

Otherwise just maintaining. It’s been a windy spring and not consistently warm yet by any means, but we’re outside on the balcony for all the benevolent minutes we can catch. East Lawrence is in its glory right now – green as far as the eye can see. In the photo above and the one below, you’re looking at hundreds of houses and thousands of people but you can’t see them. The top photo is our view from the south corner of our balcony, and this one is directly across the street – in both directions a house on every lot, cleverly camouflaged by Mama Nature. The yards are like cocoons and seem especially inviting to stay home in this season.

Feels good to be here. Covid-19 cases in our county, which rubs elbows with Kansas City, are currently at 61, with 53 recovered and no deaths, which tells me people here in this university town take their science seriously. Kim rarely sees a shopper or worker without a mask when he goes for necessities. That feels soothing and reassuring, along with the way Mass Street shops are creating safe environments in which to do business. The barbershop we both go to apparently has it down to a science already, go Lawrence. It’s good to call you *home.*

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Still in here… page 44

Day 60 – 05/11/2020

Dear Diary… I didn’t forget you, I just took a 4-day weekend to contemplate the error of my ways and re-visit my anger issues, which may or may not have required generous amounts of alcohol and endless games in the virtual worlds I haunt.

A thorn-in-the-side I am… I’ve never learned to dissemble and pretend matters of life-and-death aren’t real, which irritates the stuffing out of people. Everything’s SURreal – in the middle of a plague that requires social-guideline cooperation from the global community, Americans are now SOLDIERS, fighting a WAR, and we must buck up and march into the maw – who do you think makes billionaires their money, for goodness sake?

No allowances are made for grieving – its heavy pall across the nation has never been addressed by the general running this war – and his loyal troops shame us if we try to put a human face on any of it. “Chin up, keep marching, there’s no crying in war, slacker!” chant the Right-to-Life people as they again force us to ask, WHOSE right?

It’s a challenge to corral the cognitive dissonance and mash it all together in a livable form.

But we won’t grieve if we don’t care, so… NEW RULE:

Standing by for peace in our time …

Photo credits: Kim Smith – 5/10/2020 from our balcony – rainbow cloud

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Staying in… page 42

Day 54 – 05/05/2020

It’s another fresh new morning and the dew was still on the very first hibiscus bloom when Kim snapped the pic. Workers are busy jackhammering the concrete out of our underground-parking ramp, but even they can’t disturb my Zen because…

I accomplished very little yesterday, but it was gray and rainy all day and Mondays are like that, even when every day is Monday. Or Saturday. Hope springs eternal on a sunny Tuesday, though, so we’ll see how it goes with these two little tasks I’ve been kicking around.

It’ll be a good day – thus spake Pollyanna. And when the noise stops, we’ll move out here…

A sweet hello from Kim’s morning walk…

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Staying in… page 40

Day 50 – 05/01/2020

Things… they change… and yesterday was as sweetly Zen as Tuesday was angst-filled. I’ve survived too many things to let wrong-headed people knock me off my game in this round, so I pulled up my big-girl britches, shook the cobwebs out of my head, and took charge. Sent two people out the airlock on Facebook who were only there to monitor my posts and pounce, and wow, does the air feel fresh in there now. Stay out my way, fools, I don’t have anything left over for dealing with you.

Kim spent his afternoon potting flowers on the balcony, after which we enjoyed drinks and popcorn among the blooms. It was a perfect day far into the evening, and just what the doctor ordered – Doctor Kim, medicine man. Kindness and love and caring are utterly healing and we can put each other right better than anyone else I know.

Today dawned clear and sunny, and we have a forecast high of 82º, so moping will not be tolerated for the duration. Feeling cute, might take a ride later… 😎

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Staying in… page 36

Day 45 – 04/26/2020

We can’t say nothing ever happens around here – yesterday was the best. I cut my hair and had a long text convo with The Kid, both stellar time spent. If I could see the back of my head I’d be dangerous, but the front came out cool and I look like me again. Until I can see my sweet Shelby, it’ll be monkey business in the front and squirrel party in the back.

John has the weekend off and Anthony was out on a mission, so we lazily chatted back and forth ’til we’d caught up a little. Atlanta’s getting slammed now as the virus peaks there, but he said he hasn’t been getting floated to the ER anymore, presumably because he’s one of the few chemo-certified RNs the hospital has left. That doesn’t break this mama’s heart to know because although the Oncology Unit can seem like hell on earth at times, the ER is Ground Zero.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and my belly is full of ranch omelet and bacon. Kim has the bug to plant flowers so he masked up and headed for the outdoor lot at Menard’s, list in hand. He also wants to do some upkeep and repair on the rooftop garden while he isn’t doing much else. Good thing he has energy enough for two people, because this half of the team can’t get it together – all my fire goes toward maintaining… my cool, my calm, my healthy bent toward realism.

MEANWHILE…

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Shelter Me… page 25

Day 31 – 04/12/2020

Best to everyone celebrating Easter this morning, wherever you are. Our governor mandated that gatherings must include no more than ten people… the GOP legislature voted to over-rule her… and the Kansas Supreme Court handed down a decision last night – by remote – that her ruling stands. We’ll know in a couple of weeks how well people cooperated because any new hot spots will tell the story – we’re now being told to assume that 5 out of 50 people we see, or roughly 10%, are shedding the virus. It isn’t a game.

The morning started out a balmy 58º, with a promise of sunshine when the big red sun popped up behind the trees, but it’s gotten cloudy, the wind is up, and we have a hard freeze warning for tonight. The photo above was snapped by Kim on his predawn walk – Mass Street, Easter Sunday, 2020. The world feels a little chillier and lonelier than usual, but the greater percentage of us are still here, and where there’s life there’s hope. And there will be open doors again…

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Gimme Shelter… page 24

Day 30 – 04/11/2020

Highly resembles my view of home for the first two trimesters of my life, until we moved to the great greenway of NE Kansas. Social/physical/metaphysical distancing is in my DNA – I can do this ’til the cows come home. Stating facts, not bragging about being a weirdo, although if you wanna compare notes…

Yesterday was a hit-the-wall day – after Kim’s brief flurry of git ‘er done, it was a big space-off. We did mark and mail our primary ballots, so we were productive – this is no time to become expendable.

Amazon is starting to ship nonessential goods as they’re able, and we got a little speaker for the balcony yesterday that does not disappoint. The breakfast cook is out there with his coffee, soaking up the sun and providing a soundtrack for the yard guys. Every day there are moments to put in the bank…

It’s been a month, but feels like about half that – weekends roll around at a crazy pace… how can it be Saturday again already? Mental engagement feels like a challenging but crucial factor. Can’t afford to drop out… I might not ever make it back and I’d be pissed about that.

*****

Little something to pass the hours…

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Gimme Shelter… page 22

Day 28 – 04/09/2020

Beautiful morning, crisp and still. Kim’s out for his dawn patrol of Mass Street and environs while the girl has coffee and works on being alive. Also studying the spider web on the window, bigger by the day, obviously prime real estate for the fat arachnid that perches in its middle at night and scampers to a hidey-hole when the sun shows up. Ever’body gotta make a living.

Odd experience yesterday. I rode with Kim to pick up our repaired blinds, and on the way back up Iowa we could see flashing lights. Looked like there’d been a wreck until we were right on it and realized there were no car pieces, but a couple dozen items of knit clothing strewn across three lanes of traffic. Just as we passed by, I saw the body on the greenway, face in the grass, handcuffed behind the back, and either wearing flesh-colored tights or naked from the waist down, looked female. Totally bizarre, and I haven’t found anything about it in the news yet. Makes ya’ wonder what ELSE people get up to when nobody’s looking…

It was 90º here yesterday… and by Sunday we have a chance of snow. Go home, world, you’re drunk.

*All photos property of Kim Smith

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Gimme Shelter… page 21

Day 27 – 04/08/2020

A gentle-feeling morning, with fog hanging in the trees. We have a forecast high today of 84º with wind, so the softness at 7am is nice.

Speaking of nice, yesterday was. Kim had to deliver something across town and invited me to ride shotgun. The ride was welcome after being inside for about a month, but the sights were sobering – brought it all home in a big way. Pretty much nothing is open except for curbside pickup. Mass Street is a ghost town. Saw people on their porches, but not many out and about on foot, and no kids running around anywhere.

Our delivery was the wooden blinds for the balcony door, in need of having a cord replaced and restrung. The storeowner opened the door a crack and asked Kim if he’d traveled anywhere recently. When he said no, she motioned for him to step away, placed a rubbermaid tub outside the door, told him to lay the rolled-up shade on it, and when he was back in the car she reached out and picked it up. Hello, brave new world.

Prettiest day of the year so far – high 70s, little breeze, warm sunshine – felt like a big hug. When we got back from our errand, Kim rode his bike on the levee while I took all my toys to the balcony. He was home in an hour, wondering if 3:30 was too early to day-drink, and the party was on – we watched the pink full moon come up, and did our part to solve the problems of the world. Too bad nobody listens to us…

A gift this morning from John’s supervisor and friend…

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SQ Diary… page 19

Self-Quarantine Day 24 – 04/05/2020

Another day, another conversation with my diary…

Yesterday baby sis, who lives across town, had a story to tell me that was too long for text, so we made the weird decision to use our phones for TALKING to each other. The belly laughs and the sound of her voice were good juju. I needed exactly that.

Sister Señorita Margarita Rita has called me her second mommy a lot of times since 1995, but she’s also returned the favor more than once, and she helped me take something off my plate yesterday that I wasn’t dealing with in a good way. Perspective… wisdom… and somebody with skin on besides Kim, saying words to me, making me laugh, letting me feel the lub. There was peace when I put my head on the pillow last night.💗

It’s sobering to know how much we need each other as humans and how much we generally despise each other, globally-speaking, on a daily basis. Those things are under there all the time, but we aren’t aware of them moment by moment because life streaks on and we make sure there’s no time for introspection, examination of facts, or new doors leading to unsettling change. We’re all so VERY human.

Solitude is my jam, but with the great world hum dampened to a murmur, I’m lonely for voices… life… people. Watching East Lawrence come alive in shades of green, white, and pink is conducive to sweeter moods, but the absence of all the walkers with their dogs and babies, the missing shouts of kids skateboarding, riding bikes and chasing each other down the street, makes the air feel a little ponderous and not quite real.

Not complaining, just observing. We never know what we have ’til it’s gone, and that holds true for all of life. We figure out how much it meant when it isn’t ours anymore. Stupid human pet tricks.

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