Winding it down… page 132

Day 228 – 10/29/2020

It stayed gray out yesterday and more of the same is forecast for today, but the weather guy’s showing us some sunshine for Friday and beyond, which would work out just super. There’s even some pouring through the blinds right now.

I walked over and got a haircut at 8am yesterday and found Mass Street in a subdued mood. The three of us in the barbershop commiserated over the state of things in general, as ya’ do, and I walked home thanking providence again that we landed here in #lfk. Lawrence has its flaws and it can drive me nuts, but it’s home and that’s the best place to be in a perfect storm.

We went to Sigler’s for our flu shots, picked up lunch, and spent a little time with Rita, who may get to lay it all down in the next couple of weeks and “relapse.” One thing 2020 has taught us is that life is a marathon and if you can put one foot in front of the other, you’re still in the race.

From yesterday’s photo dive…

Sweet little Maddie-girl. Still miss her. 💗

Today’s calendar is blank, so my main order of business will be conserving enough *spoons* to last me through the weekend. Kim’s filling the spa tub, a great start, and I’ve written myself an Rx for Total Zen Living while the multi-crisis distills itself down and filters through the funnel.

Mountain by mountain, bird by bird…

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First snowfall… page 130

Day 225 – 10/26/2020

We woke up to a white coating on everything but streets and sidewalks, with light snow still falling… we’ve since watched big flakes come down in earnest a couple of times… and radar shows more on the way. Nothing’s been cold enough long enough for it to stick on, but it’s pretty for now and I love a snow-day. It’ll be even quieter all up in here than usual.

Seeing the vari-colored trees decorated with snow calls for this…

I hope I’ll remember.

Only 8 days/years now…

Me hanging on, hoping for a good landing.

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Frozen… page 128

Day 223 – 10/24/2020

Morning, Diary… it’s 6am and apparently time to be awake. Kim was up, I rolled over and saw the glow of the kitchen lights, and that was it. I’m looking out at the hushed cold darkness and wondering if our preservation efforts on behalf of the mums did any good. Oh well, ya’ try.

Can’t imagine why my brain wants MORE hours in the day for overthinking now, while we’re all still limping toward Jerusalem. But I do know why writing saves me…

I can sit here and get it all down, and then put a lot of it out for public consumption, but only by those who choose to wade through it. I’m not at all sure how well I would have done with the long isolation if I couldn’t vent to myself in some cohesive way, and the resulting feedback helps a lot.

Today’s forecast is Not Horrible… and there’s breakfast. Two outta three so far, I’m in.

Also, here’s where this whole mankind experiment went off the rails…

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Marking time… page 127

Day 222 – 10/23/2020

Dark rainy morning. Kim had stuff to do first thing, so I’m sitting in the quiet with my coffee, watching headlights bounce off shiny surfaces below me. No warm-up for a few days now, and Monday’s forecast says 31º and snow showers, with a low of 20º. Whoa, baby…

It was fun to get out yesterday in t-shirts and shorts and roam around in the 85º temps. We saw pretty leaves, ate lunch in the car with the windows down, watched an enormous muskrat nibble on greens next to a creek, drove around KC metro just because we could, found what we wanted, and happily crawled back into the cave four hours later. Not old, just tired…

Watched last night’s debate, so that’s done now. Counting down the interminable hours until we know and trying to keep my head busy. It’s chilly, wet, and windy, so this will be an indoor day, which means working twice as hard at holding steady. We have a freeze warning for tonight, so we might try to huddle the mums together and cover them. They’re so perfect we hate to give them up, especially when there are some warmer temps to follow.

Welp, Diary… I’m gonna be boring and tedious for eleven more days and then let’s both hope for a sea change all ’round. Then the next sea change will be when we know we can walk into any restaurant or other business in town, attend any event, gather with friends, without the restrictions imposed by a pandemic. That one will be a pretty big deal, too.

Wow, look at the time… 10am… this day is positively streaking by!

And you thought you’d be getting something new…

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Breaking out… page 126

Day 221 – 10/22/2020

It’s a bright, shiny Thursday morning, with temps headed for the mid-80s by afternoon, so we have PLANS. Can’t waste a day like this. Getting really nice now, but it was foggy when Kim went walking early, and all our windows were steamed over.

South Park
Richard’s Music, still sleeping…

The PickleBallers are playing at 9:00 and then we’re gonna blow this pop stand for a few hours. Going over on the Missouri side to buy a few fireworks just in case we have reason to celebrate on the 3rd or thereafter. Wouldn’t want to be caught without a way to holla, and we can always start a funeral pyre with them if things go south. Again.

Just saw that today’s high will be 85º… and tomorrow’s 45º. Kansas, you are rarely boring. Tedious, yes, but boring? There’s never time.

So yeah, ready when it’s Go Time. I even put on eye makeup, for me, not the fireworks people or even Kim. The girl part of the old girl is still in there.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Adapting… page 124

Day 221 – 10/20/2020

Those PickleBallers… “Oh, you kids!” They updated the outdoor rules to read:

Play starts at 10am

Temp at least 45º

Wind low enough to keep the ball in play

Janice, who’s helping keep things organized and happening while she awaits knee surgery, is asking Parks & Rec to hang tarps on the north fence to block the chill breezes… nothing on that yet, but this is a dedicated bunch and they’ll figure it out. Kim’s over there now and I’m guessing a spa soak will be in order when he gets home – it’s still just 45º.

Yikes, sitting here typing and a migraine hits – rare occurrence now. Guess I’ll hit back with some more caffeine and hope it stops at *aura* level. They happen when I’ve been super-stressed, whether I’m aware of it or not, then suddenly the pressure’s off and BANG, migraine. I’d hate to think I’m getting just a little too happy… relaxed… optimistic… but I’m pretty sure the next two weeks will keep all those little blood vessels up there busy. Hoo-boy…

Kind of all over the place with the daily Thought Parade. My optimism is at a slightly lower ebb than yesterday, but not so’s my peace of mind would really notice. The eternity of *Almost There* will pass, but it will require a lifetime’s worth of grit to get there and this “one minute at a time” stuff is cruel and unusual punishment.

Okay. Today. It’s the only chunk of time I need to think about right now. The KIMN8R is home after a couple hours of play in the bracing fall air, he’s making red beans & rice with corn muffins for lunch, and the afternoon does indeed call for a warming soak. Even if life weren’t that great it would be magnificent.

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That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)… page 123

Day 220 – 10/19/2020

Yup, rollin’ on into another week. We finally started the fireplace last night – it’s been chilly for enough days that the building is absorbing some of the cold and the fire was soothing. Same this morning – high temp today of 46º, overcast and gray. But then… Mother Kansas takes over again and it’s the ol’ rollercoaster ride:

Over the past couple of weeks I’m sensing a sea change in the country… or I hope that’s what it is. I’m starting to allow a cautious optimism to permeate my thoughts and to maybe, possibly believe that truth and right will win out. It’s hard to get there, though, because for as long as I live – and I’m counting on another 30 years or so – the night of November 8, 2016 will never leave my consciousness. We knew that night what the nation was in for and all of it has come true, so never again will I blindly trust that things will work out for the best no matter what.

But… I’m starting to have hope with something under it and I do know what time it is.

Monday’s MickeyD day and my belly’s starting to tell me about it. So with Taco Tuesday and the big weekend breakfasts, that leaves just three lunches a week to get creative with and the routine, for two non-traditionalists, is comforting and fun. Also we’re lazy, yeah.

Something happy yesterday as I was bopping through my photo cache – a pic of John, taken I know not where nor when, but I love it. That smile turned my okay day stellar.

John says: Taken April 26, 2013, inside a Lockheed Super Constellation on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I’m thinking this might be the weirdest of Halloweirds we’ve experienced, so I’m bracing for the worst while opening a large porthole to the best. Mere days to wait, we hope, as we test our capacity for suspense, stress, and terror. Suck it up, fellow believers, we’re going to make it.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Hope on a Sunday… page 122

Day 219 – 10/18/2020

The intrepid PickleBallers are in dire need of a safe place to play indoors, but SPL is open for limited fitness activities only. Our typical short fall is morphing into early winter for now and outdoor play is becoming no bueno. So Kim borrowed my headphones and went for a long walk while I was sleeping this morning, and now he’s playing electric guitar, I’m noodling as usual, and we’re both waiting for hunger to strike and then it’s omelet time. Our high temp today is expected to be 49º so the spa soak will be from HEA-vun!

Less rain this year so the leaves are not quite as vivid and they’re dropping fast. Fall is such a metaphor for what’s happening in the world, and a present reminder that hope carries us until spring… every time. Thinking of all that’s changed in eight months, that’s one thing that remains – hope – and I’m trying to wear it on my face these days. I started realizing a couple of years ago that I have little need for mirrors now – my hair’s a no-effort deal, I bother with zero makeup except on rare occasions, I’m well-acquainted with my face after all this time, so mirrors are slightly superfluous and I forget to look, which naturally follows when one is neither jarring nor arresting to look at.

But the thought that follows from that is this: how much have my countenance and underlying substance been altered by the hours, days, weeks, and months here in my ivory tower? When we finally see our “boys” again, will I catch an “Omigod, Mom!” glint in their eyes before they check themselves? Have I gradually and imperceptibly melted and re-compacted into a zombie-like being who absorbs the hits, one by one, and keeps slogging forward? Or is that just how it feels from inside my head?

Rita stopped by yesterday for some fun catching up – she looks amazing despite her stress and exhaustion, and she’s getting on the downhill slope of things. Spring holds out hope for ALL of us! Odd to be thinking in those terms, maybe, since summer barely ended, but in the words of a favorite author:

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Live right in it… the hope. While the wind blows, the rain spatters, the snow falls and whips around us… live right in the hope. By spring we’ll know what sort of nation we are and what we personally will do with that. By spring maybe we’ll start getting a handle on the current pandemic before the next one hits. Maybe spring will bring some room for healing… repairing and rebuilding some of the vital relationships… putting things back together in this society we’ve made. I hope so.

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The weeks… page 121

Day 218 – 10/16/2020

Here we are, Diary, closing out another week under wraps, and prospects for a change of venue aren’t looking good any time soon. The KC Metro area, 30 minutes away, is a Coronavirus Cauldron again, with their highest number of cases since the pandemic started, and our levels in Douglas County have been steadily keeping pace… 51 new cases, 97 new cases… zero new for a day… 45 new cases…two days ago it was 704. We’ve had almost 19,000 cases total in the county and more than 200 deaths. Dayum, I am never gettin’ out of this house!

But things are rough all over and I’m not whining. I lose friends when I talk about it, but John & colleagues have been at this for almost eight months nonstop at the hospital, along with all the other active medical personnel around the globe, and a portion of the population despises them for it, maybe because they’re a constant reminder that yes, Virginia, there is a pandemic. Nobody’s coming to make it all better, make it go away, disappear… like magic. It just rolls relentlessly on, taking victims as it pleases, leaving devastation in its wake. And the one thing that could have saved thousands of lives and endless grief – the simple mask – was politicized early on, assuring maximum damage from the enemy among us. It defies belief, the situation we find ourselves in, but it’s real, and thanks for just absorbing all this stuff, my muse…

Temps were in the 30s this morning, have now crested 40, and might soar to 60 and beyond before the day’s over. Too nipply for PickleBall this morning, so we’re both tapping away at our keyboards, listening to stuff, and sighing…

No idea what today will hold, but I saw the Dr. Teal’s Orange Epsom Salts next to the tub, so odds are good that “Calgon” will take me awaaaaayyy after while.

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Marking time… page 120

Day 217 – 10/15/2020

Without specific markers the hours turn into days and the days turn into each other, but yesterday had its share of markers: Kim pedaled to the courthouse before 8am to see if there was a line yet for early voting and picked up an Einstein Bros. bagel for me on the way back. We voted. We had a working lunch on Cielito’s patio with Kevin for our quarterly review. Kim played bluesy guitar most of the afternoon while I read. We watched the first episode of this season’s Amazing Race. Markers.

Today’s been considerably more rudderless, although I did get a confusing Medicare mixup resolved with the stellar help… again… of Kevin’s people. I made Velveeta Mac for lunch because once in a while you have to say yes to the cheese. I looked at the little stack of stuff on my desk and thought about sorting it, but didn’t.

Reposted something sarcastic on Facebook this morning and it occurred to me that one reason I limit my page membership is that I don’t want to asplain things. I have no energy for the comments. When I post something funny from Andy Borowitz NOT THE NEWS and get back a huffy “OMG that isn’t even TRUE!” it gives my day a kick in the shorts it doesn’t need. If you don’t get it, google it, I don’t want to have this discussion.

It’s undoubtedly because I’m getting what’s commonly referred to as old. Susan H. and I compared notes this morning about voting and how long we’ve been doing it. My first time voting was in 1968 – Nixon v Humphrey. As of yesterday I’ve voted for a U.S. presidential candidate a total of 14 times, none so fraught with intensity as this one. THERE’s a marker.

An arresting little “keeper”:

Interesting Times ‘R Us. I hope desperately to avoid the second curse, and I shudder to think what the third might entail in my case. I’m okay with *interesting.*

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Stay in line, America… page 119

Day 216 – 10/14/2020

First day of advance voting here. We ordered mail-in ballots but decided we needed the rush of being there… and that was a great call. It’s a perfect fall morning, little breezy, little cool, sunshine everywhere along with the leaves. The line, distanced and masked, was out the door only about 50 feet when we got there, and the whole thing was a smooth operation – eight voting cubbies on two floors, everything sanitized and in order – and the woman who facilitated our voting process in light of the fact that we have mail-in ballots out there somewhere was amazing – she knows her stuff, and we have no qualms that our votes won’t be counted. When the paper ballots arrive we’ll shred them, and that will be that. And anyone silly enough to think you could get away with voting twice has never met the force of nature that is the County poll worker.

Neither of us has ever been so energized to cast our vote and we’ve been voting since Nixon. And now we wait. We were near this level of urgency in 2016, and we were marinated in the belief/hope that it wouldn’t go south. But it did… so the next three weeks… and hopefully not beyond, please, universe… will be a wonky bundle of angst tied with barbed wire.

Me until we see the white smoke.

We’re so incredibly privileged – we drove three blocks straight south, parked in the courthouse lot, stood in line, signed the required paperwork to keep tabs on our vote, took our time marking our ballots, returned to the car… and by the time we walked back through our door we’d been gone exactly 30 minutes… on a morning so beautiful it could make a grown man cry, on a day when we’re upright and breathing, with eyes and ears to take it all in. Everything about this morning has felt right… make it so, world.

Beautiful inside too, and a memorable place to fulfill a sacred duty, right, and privilege.

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Hello Friday already… page 116

Day 211 – 10/09/2020

Oh hey, Diary… you’re still here? You’re wondering about my day yesterday and how many tasks I checked off my list? Two-and-a-half, so get off my back, ‘k? The list is right here, meaning it isn’t over yet, jeez you are so annoying sometimes.

Today started out so mellow it’s hard to feel guilty about much of anything. Kim woke me up at 8:00 with the news that there was fresh coffee and a bagel waiting. Then he pedaled on down to PickleBall town and I’m still here, sitting in sunshine, sipping the good brew. Padding across the room just now for more coffee, the thought hit me full-blown – I like being me. It feels right. I couldn’t have truthfully said that until recent years, and I just haven’t recognized it that clearly until now – life is good, I’m happy, I feel like me and that’s a gift. Things happened very early in my life that pushed me into an adult world before I had any knowledge or skills for coping, and I spent decades catching up… trying to uncover the facts that other people seemed to understand instinctively about life.

It took the advent of Kim for me to latch onto who I am and not turn loose. When somebody smart, strong, and nurturing loves you as is, the doors and windows are flung open and life gets real. I’m glad I got to stick around for this part, I probably wouldn’t have totally believed anyone who told me it keeps getting better – I would have considered it a platitude.

But it does get better… life… in so many ways. The best gifts for me so far are time and quiet. My root anxiety keeps me living on the edge, so not feeling rushed… pushed… hurried… is the biggest luxury I can name beyond the gift of knowing I’m loved. And the sweet silence I get to immerse myself in here is the other half of the equation.

Progress Report: We sheltered on March 12th of this year and I’ve spent 99% of my time since then in basically these two big rooms. Kim’s been in and out a lot, wearing PPE from the beginning, but beyond barbershop haircuts, doctor visits, and time spent with Rita, I’ve mostly been right here. Kim brings food in, and we’ve eaten on a couple of outdoor patios, but not inside anywhere I can think of since March. And most places here still have limited indoor seating, if any. It’s all fine, no complaints here, my Diary friend – it is what it is. And maybe soon… we’ll know what it will be.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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The circle… page 115

Day 210 – 10/08/2020

Yesterday’s task with Rita was sorting a six-drawer dresser packed to the gills with old and newer family photos – not ours, but people we knew so not all mystery. This is my seventh household to help deconstruct, the previous six for family members, and the impact is always the same – when life ends, it’s over. Every tiniest object that meant something special… all the carefully laundered and folded favorites… the Post-Its, the bills that keep finding the mailbox, the personal rubble left behind in jacket pockets… nobody’s coming back to see to any of that. It’s over.

So if we’re very lucky, someone who knew us, loved us, cared what became of us, shows up to make things right and tie up the dangling participles.

We were halfway to the bottom of Drawer #4, talking about how good it was to hear from Susan the day before, when we both reached for the same photo… High School Homecoming Queen Susan! The basement chill zinged up to 11 and we celebrated a sweet Twilight Zone moment – just like that, the three of us were in the same room again. Life is weird and spooky and crazy and I like it a lot. It’s good to be reminded regularly that humans aren’t one-dimensional and neither is the world we live in. Susan moved away almost two years ago and we miss the socks off of her… yesterday’s serendipity was a gift.

And just like that, life goes on. In Susan’s sweet face I see our nieces and great-nieces and the little great-great-niece we “met” last week… and Reese and Wagner genes going back as far as we want to explore. Life goes on… the circle keeps turning.

I nabbed Rita’s senior pic out of the same drawer and since I’m the equal-opportunity do-it-my-way Big Sister, I have to put it here for posterity, doubly proving that DNA-by-association has always been on my side. My sisters are my best friends… always were, really… and age doesn’t change any of that, thank the universe. 💙

So Diary… am I good or what? It’s actually Throwback Thursday, a masterstroke of timing, which bodes well for wrapping up the week on a high note. I see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 little jobs I could get done this morning and hardly move from my desk – ask me tomorrow how that went down. I’m still in Coffee & Think mode at almost 10am, so we’ll see…

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The weeks… page 112

Day 207 – 10/05/2020

And lo, we are delivered once again unto mOnday. Hello bright world, hello color, hello resolve… let’s go.

It’s chilly this morning, but the PickleBallers don’t much care as long as the sun’s shining. Kim would have crawled out of his skin by now if they hadn’t been able to keep playing outdoors when SPL closed things down, so that needs to go on for as long as possible… ’til frostbite becomes an issue.

This morning we have the case of Schrödinger’s president… he is either ill or not ill, highly-contagious or benign, in hospital or out… and American life limps on. Less than 30 days from an election nobody trusts, we have little real knowledge as to how it might all play out, which is crazy-making. Should we be finalizing our passport applications and choosing the things we’ll take with us… or getting prepared to roll up our sleeves and put the country back together? The truly crazy-making factor is that we may not have a definitive answer for months, not days. But hey, why borrow trouble on a mOnday when I could be making GOOD trouble somewhere??

Every time I’m out here scribbling, leaving my Diary open to the immediate world (and how do they know there isn’t another, grittier one somewhere) I spare a thought for the wanderer who happens upon my blog space. Poor soul doesn’t know me from a ton o’ coal so he or she just has to jump in and run with it (or flee). I inherited a wonky sense of humor from Daddy, added to it in various ways during my Latta years, polished it on John’s delicious sarcasm, and I’ve honed it now for sixteen years keeping up with the KIMN8R. Short story… it isn’t for everyone.

And all at once, sunshine pouring in through the windows, hot coffee right here, memory flooding the room, I LOVE THE WORLD. It’s the best place I remember being so far, and it feels worth keeping intact.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith

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Beautiful weekend… page 111

Day 206 – 10/04/2020

Sunday Morning Sunshine… Harry Chapin. I hadn’t thought of either one in years, but here it is back, pouring through the window blinds, and into my ears. Too chilly for outdoor PickleBall this morning, but Kim caught some sun on the balcony a while ago and now he’s heading up to the workout room… and he’ll be riding his bicycle to a car show on the south edge of town this afternoon, masked and socially-distanced in the great outdoors. Thankfully he’ll never shed his Southern California DNA; whereas, my mornings mostly look like this and don’t measurably improve by the hour:

I’m trying not to slide off into feelings this weekend. We’ve kept a temporary lid on TV news and avoided the rest wherever possible… mostly. It does help. The Chiefs/Patriots game has been postponed, apparently due to COVID issues, so there goes the best long-play distraction on the schedule for today, dammit-cwap. So selfish of those guys not to risk their lives for my sanity.

There’s too much beauty around us to worry about it – Kim’s mums on the roof are loving fall and so are we. And today’s Matt’s birthday, so I’m celebrating with him in my heart and via cyberspace, and remembering Danny. ❤️

Photo & Digit-al Selfie: Kim Smith 10/04/2020

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