Beautiful day…

It’s Monday morning after a good weekend, the sun’s shining (but I haven’t looked at it yet), the coffee’s icy, as it should be, and I’m savoring an Everything bagel… the M-day and I have it going on so far. Kim’s over in NoLaw hitting PickleBalls with a big bunch of people he enjoys so I have a couple more hours to wake up before the day actually kicks in. Then… it all stretches out before me as an absolute blank… and is there anything better for weary minds than a day when nothing happens? This particular introvert’s greatest joy is a skinny calendar with whole blocks of time when there are no appointments scheduled, no deadlines to meet. I went underground sometime in mid-quarantine and I kinda like it down here, it appeals to my hermit personality… but it does nothing to improve my social skills, so there’s that, and I’m trying to surface again.

We have a need as humans surviving on an often hostile planet to connect, to understand something about our purpose here. When the connections are broken, by us or by others, the resultant hollowness goes on and on, becoming part of life’s daily fabric, and the older I get, the harder the spaces are to fill… because I toss out everything that doesn’t ring true. And yes, I do intend to live long enough to be somewhat of a problem to my progeny, although he did nothing to deserve that.

*****

You too? Or just me…

Having been made freshly-conscious of the fact that I’m “better in theory than real life,” let me just say, via someone whose name I regretfully don’t know…

This is the grace I want to extend to all. That, too, takes a lifetime to learn.

*****

And somehow, this thought is affirming and soothing…

This too, from my wise Twitter friend…

It all simply goes on. We live and are happy.

But… I stubbornly want to understand why people choose to follow ugliness when we live among wonders in the world:

Butterflies can’t see their wings.

They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can.

People are like that as well.

~Naya Rivera

Photo ©Petar Sabol

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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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Onward to the weekend…

The pandemic that will never end rolls on day by day while the world’s people argue themselves and their children into early graves over it. Since I have no words left and it’s not my job to save people from themselves, my focus has turned more and more to the ones who want to stay alive and be in harmony with other humans.

It isn’t easy to keep showing up for a world that’s crumbling beneath your feet, with people who despise everything you stand for. But keep your head up and keep on walking through the muck and ugliness – and LOOK!… fall is here just in time to help with that.

Things happen every day that make us question our very existence and how long it can be maintained, so thank you to the smilers, the laughers, the lovers who don’t let us forget where the good stuff is.

There’s nothing there for you… move on.
Vitally important…

*****

*****

Leaving this here because it makes me inordinately happy…

Thank the universe for people with loving hearts and a lack of harmful ego. For those whose sense of humor heals us. For the ones who hold us together when we’re coming apart. For the people who look us in the eye and tell us the truth… and love us thereby. The world’s a mess and ever shall be, but facing it together makes it doable.

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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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Thrill of the unknown…

Someone always has the words… and isn’t that a gift when we do not. Thank you to my beautiful friend Mark Zimmerman for sharing.

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

FORGETFULNESS

The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read,

never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,

not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins – 1941

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Happy weekend…

The work on the water lines continues apace as we close out yet another week. It’s engaging to watch, even knowing it’s hitting our HOA in the shorts, but it does go on and on, much like life in the time of COVID. I felt overwhelmed for a bit yesterday as I suddenly registered the weight of where we find ourselves. Our case numbers in the county have gone from zero to 100 with lightning speed, and our whole U.S. healthcare system is overrun for the fourth time. Hospitals are full, children are dying in ever greater numbers, Florida’s gone to reefer trucks to store their dead… again. In the midst of all this, it’s worth noting that no hospital anywhere is full of people suffering side effects from the COVID vaccine. Where did we lose our ability to all pull in the same direction for even one split-second in history? I miss the “All for one, one for all” response to past challenges to our existence. I’m not as inspired by the “All for me, fuck that guy” philosophy. But people do what they do and believe what they believe… so we’re saddled up for Rodeo #4. We’ll see who’s still standing this time when the dust clears.

Speaking of dust, this crew is A+ at what they do, wreaking a minimum of destruction. The entire fire line is exposed now, from doors to street, and it could all be history by the end of the day, which I’m sure everyone would welcome. Beer-thirty, everyone, and happy weekend.

In the saga of the haircut, it finally happened, along with some much-needed chick therapy, and the trek to attain the new refurbished me continues. I hope the world doesn’t go to sleep on us again just when we were breathing new air.

Welp, for now, let’s all sing in the sunshine, boys and girls…

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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

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

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

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A Sunday in the time of ‘rona…

As the fog of the past eighteen months continues to dissipate, it’s impossible not to register the hurt of humanity around us. Everyone we know, everyone we see, has absorbed pain and uncertainty since the outbreak of the pandemic, and it shows. In the human race we want somebody else or a whole lot of somebody elses to understand, to just please get it, okay? And when it feels like nobody does, it’s a lonely place, so maybe someone needs to hear this on the first day of August 2021:

Much of the world is still in dire straits, and here’s a fact: It always has been. But the trajectory as we start another new month is onward and upward, which hey, happens to be our state motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera – To The Stars Through Difficulty. Feels better, hm? And in case nobody’s mentioned it since Christmas of 2019: If you’re reading this, you’re worthy of everything the world has to offer, so getcha’ some.

So here’s a simple rule of thumb…

And this, despite its typos, says good things:

*****

This presents as an oxymoron, but it’s possible to take our time while moving forward…

We’re really not here very long…

*****

Best thing to know in the midst of chaos, sadness, happiness, all the time…

Happy Sunday, August 1, 2021, to all of us, with a hug for everyone who still stops by this blog. 💙💋

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Are you old enough?

A lovely guest post…

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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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Plausible invisibility…

For my niece KG, my friend VP, et al

We walk among people every day whose physical lives are defined and confined by invisible illnesses of the immune system. They know it, we don’t. They feel it, we can’t. Lacking a cure or effective treatment protocols for something called fibromyalgia, for instance, doctors have traditionally preferred to suss out other “causes” they know how to prescribe for. As research is turning up clues and avenues for possible treatment, the wheelbarrow load of symptoms that’s been newly-labeled as ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome) may finally be coming into favor enough for medical professionals to seriously address it. That would be nice. My friends-and-family circle is dotted with immunocompromised individuals who live quietly inside bodies full of pain and perpetual exhaustion, so an intentional focus by the medical community would be as welcome as rain… says the girl who loves rain. A truly frustrating part of autoimmune disorders is their capricious nature – they flit around in the body, inflicting bits of torture here and there, feinting, withdrawing, teasing, tormenting. And then they all take a powder somewhere and HEY! A GOOD DAY!! Blessed be if it happens on a day when you really, really, really want to do something.

Some autoimmune disorders eventually leave markers that become visible to the casual observer, but some don’t, staying hidden at cell level, disrupting the daily peace of the carrier at will. Talking to someone who’s never experienced anything like it is generally not very helpful. And complaining just… well, we all know where that gets us in life. We humans believe what we can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. We don’t do well with “phantom” illnesses, in ourselves or others – “You’re up walking around, taking nourishment, so show us the medical report or you’re a lazy piker.” America has little patience with those who can’t or won’t tote that barge, lift that bale. Who ever said life was fair, right?

Someone you know has an illness you can’t see, so a few things…

1) That person is fighting every day just to be able to participate in life

2) It likely never occurred to them that one day they’d wake up sick and never get better

3) Trying to be stronger than one feels is exhausting – be patient

As for the curious claim that people with invisible illnesses are “faking it,” what can we even say? What would they gain from that? Being in pain, unable to move freely, medicated, in and out of doctors’ offices, spending thousands on medical expenses, experiencing the gamut of emotions that accompanies chronic illness, missing most of what people call life because they can’t “get there.” Easy to fake and totally cool, right? We all wish we could find a sweet deal like that and coast.

Everyone you know, every human you’ll never know, deserves personal dignity and at least a pinch of understanding, so if empathy isn’t really your thing, at least give them that much. Leave them that tiny place inside that believes they’ll be better someday. And never forget that they miss their old carefree smiling selves, too.

This has been a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT on behalf of hurting people everywhere. Thank you for your support.

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I love sunny Sundays…

It’s a gorgeous morning and Kim’s on the balcony greeting the sun while I work my way through another weekend wake-up. We’re both ready for *consistently warmish* in the weather forecast, and he has plans with Marcello today for PickleBall and go-cart racing. Everyone’s still staying masked, but the parameters are perceptibly widening for getting back into life as we knew it. At present, Douglas County is the most vaccinated county in Kansas against COVID – close to half the population – but people who think it’s over and act accordingly are a fly in the ointment, so half is only halfway there.

The Kimster’s in his happy place when the sun’s shining.

This article from WaPo perfectly articulates how a return to the world feels right now, and I hope it won’t be behind a paywall. Short story, we introverts are conflicted… (and a heads-up, there’s more blog text after the link, so hit the MORE button to continue reading, if necessary).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/introverts-are-dreading-a-return-to-the-noise-crowds-and-small-talk-of-normal-life/2021/04/09/386006b0-987b-11eb-b28d-bfa7bb5cb2a5_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F31ce4b3%2F6071c74d9d2fda1dfb4a1eec%2F59728e17ae7e8a1cf4ab33c8%2F60%2F72%2F6071c74d9d2fda1dfb4a1eec&fbclid=IwAR1eIuSq6X32M_HZyHbT3Q4U-BqkAOtlDCPoogMZvMkrXM6wpoWWroQNhTo More

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Tuesday on the line… page 228

Day 358 – 03/09/2021

Woke up yesterday morning in a killer mood, meaning if I could have righteously killed something I would have. Things hit me wrong all day, from the reminder of George Floyd’s cold-blooded murder (I fully accept the paradox of my own murderous thoughts) to flashes of the former guy’s face and name. WHY?? How can we miss him if he won’t go away? I gave you a break, Diary, and didn’t make you listen to the sordid details… I don’t want to carry any of it forward – let it die with yesterday, it was only inside me anyway.

This morning’s a new day and Kim’s on his feet for it so far… barely. He’s been so awesomely sick since last Friday that I think I’ve found another piece of the COVID puzzle for our household. I haven’t understood how I could be sick for months and he’s stayed healthy through the whole thing, but his reaction to his 2nd vaccination makes me think he DID contract the virus from me at some point (how could he NOT??) but stayed asymptomatic. It was very clear that his system wanted NOTHING TO DO with that invasive potion. I threw some of my questions out into the cosmos the other day, and this morning an answer came pinging back to me with this headline from ABC News:

FDA Authorizes New T-cell Test That Could Be Game Changer for COVID-19 Long Haulers

The new test is able to determine whether or not a human has had COVID-19 at some point, so if we run into a genuine need-to-know in the future, the fact that there’s a way to find out is a nice ace to hold.

My brain has felt disconnected from my body for the past week. Thoughts get halfway and stop. I forget what I hear. I started a board with Rita in Words with Friends after long absence, played two rounds, and forgot all about it. Finished a book, had to think for a while to remember what the story was. It’s like maneuvering in a heavy wool fog, and it’s a relief to feel it lifting this morning. Kim goes to ground when he’s sick, deadly silent, sleeps, just wants to die without the commitment ’til it’s over, and he was ill enough to scare me a little, so that might be a clue as to why I found myself shutting down. My anger flares at things people say about COVID, and their devil-may-care approach to “controlling” it… the anguish America has been through… what we’ve done to our medical community… all the ways this may have done longterm damage to the health of the nation. I hurt for the people I love until I think I can’t stand it… and then we all hurt some more.

A long siege like this is hard on a Pollyanna – it’s our job to keep on the sunny side, to find the silver lining, to smile and dance ’til the curtain comes down… but after the energy’s gone, you sit with yourself like a book you once read in a dream, and you read it again, this time between the lines, and you get it… the song & dance was never your gig, not really. Bread & circuses, jesters, clowns, we seek out all the distractions there are… but finally, we each have to be with just ourself for company and have an honest conversation about what’s real and what isn’t. If cognitive dissonance doesn’t shut the whole thing down with a bang, we’ll learn some things.

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Crawling right along… page 226

Day 355 – -3/06/2021

I’ve been without a hangout buddy since yesterday morning, so it was kind of a quiet, droopy Friday, and today doesn’t look promising either. Kimmers sailed through his first COVID shot while I was miserable for more than 48 hours, but the bill came due with the second one and he’s been down for the count. I had some chills and queasiness this time, pain around my waist, and general ennui, but that last part isn’t anything new. We’re fully shot up now and have the bracelets to prove it, so once Kim gets back on his feet, we’re good to go… if everybody else gets vaccinated too. The sooner that happens on a massive scale, the sooner we can return to some kind of social existence… and hug the people we love.

I went to Stabby Dillons just now to get electrolytes for Kim, my first time inside a grocery store in a year minus one week. I couldn’t find the PAY NOW button at self-check even though it’s the biggest one on the panel, but nothing much has changed except that there are no deli counters anymore. I still need two more weeks of immunity before I’m considered “not a threat,” but it was a rush to be out driving around on a perfect almost-spring day, knowing we made it this far.

From a fellow traveler…

Interesting statistic I saw this morning: So far, flu deaths are down 99% this flu season. Maybe we will someday unmask the reason for that.

Apparently Gatorade Fierce is good medicine, as the Big Guy is now lights-out with a Russell Crowe movie playing on blast, so it should all be just a painful memory by tomorrow. NO PAIN, NO GAIN! Righto. Every time.

A memorable season is upon us, with the advent of spring and a degree of vaccine security coming to us simultaneously. That’s perfectly scripted, and the hope, within and without, feels like something brand new… never been here before.

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Friday, new day… page 218

Day 341 – 02/19/2021

Sunlight’s pouring through the blinds this morning, we’re supposed to break 32º this afternoon, and I feel like I’m emerging from a coma. In three weeks, with a few brief exceptions, I will have been staying inside these walls for a year. The silence, the gradual loosening of connections to the world, the can’t-give-a-shit, and the brain fog of COVID wove a web around me and extracted a price. But my head is crystal clear today for the first time in months and all I want to do is EVERYTHING. There are loose ends hanging all over the place – stuff to do so I can keep moving and get life underway again, in here first so I’ll be ready for “out there” by Christmas. It’s a goal that suddenly seems within reach – “Oh, you’re AWAKE, let’s do something!”

The day promises other sunshine goodies. I found a little stack of mail on the verge of expiring and opened all of it in time for deadlines, whew. I’ve had affirming text chats with two online friends that will keep me on the sunny side all morning, and I got all girly again, with real clothes, just because it felt like time, and because a real other human may step inside our house and spend some time with us. It’s just past 10am and the possibilities are breathtaking.

Tomorrow’s a story with sweet possibilities of its own, but right now today’s a really good day to BE.

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