An homage…

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

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

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

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

WHERE IT STARTED…

WHERE IT WENT… x 3 or 4 by now

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

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

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Hey… it’s Wednesday

Here we are at HumpDay once again, boys and girls, on the downhill run to the weekend.

WHY I LOVE WEEKENDS, by some pore ol’ retired thing

  1. They do not contain medical appointments.
  2. The already Zen pace on my side of the equation slows to an imperceptible crawl.
  3. The weekend menu is outstanding.
  4. The trace of guilt over being lazy goes totally underground for a couple of days.
  5. Sometimes weekends mean seeing actual people… and we know there’ll be more of that ahead.

It’s overcast this morning, with only a slight breeze, and it feels like the world’s at a standstill… everything static… to remain this way forever. But hark, what do I see from my window? People and dogs. Gird your loins, folks, life goes on.

Case in point…

And the trees know when it’s time for change…

Just about when we think we can’t stand the status quo another minute, we look around and our immediate situation has morphed into something else entirely. In light of what looked like an endless slate of dental appointments, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I have only one left… this time around. Friday we see a neuro about my back. Patience… patience… and the world turns.

Maya Angelou’s profoundly simple statement of fact will stay with me…

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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.

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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.

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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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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…

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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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Good hearts are safe homes…

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

Naomi Shihab Nye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

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Seasons of change…

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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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The Gift of Letting Go

to live in this world

you must be able

to do three things

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go…

©Mary Oliver

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The inimitable Ms. Oliver’s punctuation choices make us slow down… read that again… count the ways… just as she intended. She subtly reminds us that poetry and prose are different animals, meanwhile enchanting us with her grasp of the world.

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Not my job, man…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remind yourself today: I HAVE POWERS

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

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Tell me…

In the middle of ongoing disquiet, another guest author has appeared on my doorstep this morning, precisely on time. Mary Oliver left us in 2019, but her words are filled with life, and I love her…

It’s the birthday of American poet Mary Oliver (1935), born and raised in Maple Heights, Ohio, a semi-rural suburb of Cleveland. Her father was a social studies teacher and athletic coach in Cleveland public schools. Of her childhood, Oliver said, “It was a very dark and broken house that I came from. And I escaped it, barely. With years of trouble.”

She skipped school and read voraciously to escape her home life, mostly the work of John Keats and Emily Dickinson. She also began taking long walks in the woods by her house and writing poems. She says, “I got saved by poetry. And by the beauty of the world.” She calls her early poems “rotten.”

After Oliver graduated from high school she took a trip to Steepletop, the home of the famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in Austerlitz, New York. She became good friends with Millay’s sister Norma and ended up staying for seven years, helping Norma organize Millay’s papers and writing her own poems. She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College but never earned degrees.

Oliver’s first collection of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems (1963), was published to wide acclaim when she was 28. She writes short, poignant poems, most often about her observations of the natural world, particularly the world of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she spent more than 50 years with her partner, Molly Malone Cook, who was one of the first staff photographers for The Village Voice.

She finds most of her inspiration on her walks and hikes. She takes along a hand-sewn notebook so she can stop and write. Once, she lost her pencil, and now she hides pencils in the trees along the trails so she always has spares. She says, “It has frequently been remarked, about my own writings, that I emphasize the notion of attention. This began simply enough: to see that the way the flicker flies is greatly different from the way the swallow plays in the golden air of summer.”

Oliver’s books consistently hit the best-seller lists. Her collections include Dream Work (1986), Why I Wake Early (2007), Blue Horses (2014), and Felicity (2015). She was outside replacing the shingles on her house when she got the phone call that she’d won the Pulitzer Prize (1984) for American Primitive (1983). Her books about the writing of poetry, A Poetry Handbook (1994) and Rules for the Dance (1998), are routinely used in high school and college creative writing courses.

Mary Oliver died in 2019 of lymphoma.

On writing poetry Mary Oliver said, “One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn’t be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.”

One of her most famous poems, “The Summer Day,” ends with the line, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” When an interviewer asked her what she’d done with her own wild and precious life Oliver answered, “Used a lot of pencils.” -Copied from Facebook, author not known

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A reflection…

Photo Credit Kim Smith 09/05/2021

Today’s guest post, while I celebrate my 74th birthday, is a gift from Suzanne Reynolds…

She Was Told She Was Beautiful

When she was a little girl

they told her she was beautiful

but it had no meaning

in her world of bicycles

and pigtails

and adventures in make-believe.

Later, she hoped she was beautiful

as boys started taking notice

of her friends

and phones rang for

Saturday night dates.

She felt beautiful on her wedding day,

hopeful with her

new life partner by her side

but, later,

when her children called

her beautiful,

she was often exhausted,

her hair messily tied back,

no make up,

wide in the waist

where it used to be narrow;

she just couldn’t take it in.

Over the years, as she tried,

in fits and starts,

to look beautiful,

she found other things

to take priority,

like bills

and meals,

as she and her life partner

worked hard

to make a family,

to make ends meet,

to make children into adults,

to make a life.

Now,

she sat.

Alone.

Her children grown,

her partner flown,

and she couldn’t remember

the last time

she was called beautiful.

But she was.

It was in every line on her face,

in the strength of her arthritic hands,

the ampleness that had

a million hugs imprinted

on its very skin,

and in the jiggly thighs and

thickened ankles

that had run her race for her.

She had lived her life with a loving

and generous heart,

had wrapped her arms

around so many to

to give them comfort and peace.

Her ears had

heard both terrible news

and lovely songs,

and her eyes

had brimmed with,

oh, so many tears,

they were now bright

even as they dimmed.

She had lived and she was.

And because she was,

she was made beautiful.

Suzanne Reynolds ©2019

Photo Credit: Nina Djerff

Model: Marit Rannveig Haslestad

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Thunderstorms rolling through…

It’s a rainy weekend, thanks to Ida and other disturbances including good ol’ Larry… we knew he’d show up at the party eventually. No PickleBall for The Guy because the indoor courts are closed to the public on weekends, so he produced yet another iteration of The Saturday Breakfast, whose savory delights left me speechless. He said, yeah, that’s what he’s been workin’ on all this time…

When you decide to let go of something… say, anger, to cite a random example… it’s all a process. One step might be resolved in a matter of seconds, others are layered so deep they’re an enigma requiring time and determination to crack. I’ve held to my divorce from TV news, but I pick up plenty of it elsewhere, and this week was full of challenging developments that make my sense of justice want to stand up and get rowdy. Instead I “cut clippings” from the internet like my g’ma did the newspaper and share them with likeminded people who say “Right on.” Or other words.

Incredibly, the COVID pandemic is still #1 in the news after almost two years. That’s nearly impossible to accept in one of the richest, most educated nations on the planet, but here we are. No amount of logic, patience, impatience, nor any combination of approaches to the problem has changed anything – half of us will remain a danger to the other half out of a deep need not to comply with anything the other half touched, and the ramifications will go on forever.

Stupid EDIT button won’t edit out…

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Death beats gerrymandering and voter suppression every time.

So yeah, that’s the COVID scene, continuing unabated. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Texas and our inimitable Supremes pulled off a whoop-de-doo that may have them all by the tail before it’s over. We don’t need no Taliban, we grow our own.

Turn your sister in and collect $10K, just like that, bubba.

So that’s last week, what I have receipts for. Disturbing stuff, but I can’t do a damn thing about any of it, so today’s about the breakfast, the hot soak, the great coffee, the quiet, the rain…

We thought the atmosphere in the nation would improve after the election, but the neighbor-against-neighbor mindset seems here to stay, and we’re watching a country we stupidly thought we knew willingly march itself into Authoritarian Capitalism. And I can’t do a damn thing about that, either. This Pollyanna gig ain’t all it’s made out to be, boys & girls, in fact it’s a real slog lately. There are people I “should” contact, things I “should” do, wrongs I “should” right… and I hope there are enough tomorrows for the truly important out of all that. Meanwhile…

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I remember 28 as the year before all hell broke loose and life got real. Better fruit would have helped.

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It’s just Tuesday…

Saturday was a beautiful day so we spent a lot of it on the balcony. Sometime mid-afternoon, Kim said “What’s that fluttery noise I keep hearing?” And then he stood up, looked over the north railing, and muttered “Oh, shit. Oh, holy shit.” My ESPN told me right off we were in trouble but I didn’t know what I’d see down on ground level. Muddy water was gushing out of the ground on both sides of our entryway and from several spots in the parking lot, rapidly coating everything in its path with sand, clay, and silt. When I first looked over the railing I thought the water was pouring out of our lobby doors, and I could imagine it sluicing down the elevator shafts into the parking garage and storage cages, among other thoughts. Kim got our building manager here ASAP and it turns out it was the city’s fire line that broke, which isn’t good but does let us keep our house water on – fortunate, because this will take a while. There was a broken pipe earlier out by the street, so since yesterday we’ve had guys here running fun-size machinery to trench out the whole line, and Pa is entertained. Even with the jackhammering it isn’t all that loud, so we have to wonder how big a sponge the parking lot has become and we hope no one drops a backhoe into a sinkhole.

Down to about half-force at this point.
Kim & Kevin Cheney (bldg mgr) deciding how to handle the mud piling up against the garage’s overhead door.
Waiting for the City to come shut the rest of it down.
The entry’s boarded up like there’s been a bank robbery, and all the concrete has been dug out of the walkway, so progress. There are bad pipes in there somewhere, and something wonky out in the parking, so hey, free entertainment while it lasts

Speaking of “free” and “entertainment,” I stole a bunch of stuff from my friend Steve Gelder this morning because I can use the smiles and he just carelessly leaves it all lying around on Facebook anyway…

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Seriously.
It’s all in there, I just need a system for accessing it when I want it!
Who of us cannot say the same thing?

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Happy Tuesday! Steve did the work, I did that thing I do (theft), and we can all just smile for a while…

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Yay, it… was Monday…

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

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

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

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

I love you, life, don’t quit me now.

And a little something fun for the kiddos…

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

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

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

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

JSmith 08/16/2021

*May be sung as a round

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

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… and that’s when the fight started!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello, weekend, doin’ great so far…

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What a beautiful morning…

It was wonderful waking up in my own sheets this morning after spending the previous three nights in a hospital bed. They have their charms, and cool bells and whistles, but they don’t feel like home. The whole thing was an interesting diversion, starting with 8 hours in the ER on Wednesday, causing me to miss a haircut appointment, which in Girl World is something to write home about. Then upstairs to the Cardiac unit, of all places, for much additional needle-poking, a rat’s nest of lines and cables, and round-the-clock observation. Was allowed up only for a bedside commode, oh joy of existence, so by yesterday morning I was feeling wretched, especially with my scalp full of glue from a brain scan. My everlasting thanks to Mona, who rescued me from the lowdown blues with a lovely chair bath, a shampoo cap, clean sheets and gown, and a brisk walk in the hallway in my cute yellow floppy-socks. She’s going into my binder full of heroes. No conclusive answers yet from various batteries of tests, but after a high of 210/203 in the hospital, my BP first thing this morning at home was 113/67, so maybe we’re getting somewhere.

We decided to retire in Lawrence for two primary reasons. 1) The vibe of the arts community and the university, and 2) the stellar medical community from here to Kansas City. The excellent LMH complex is closely associated with KU Med, so we always have access to the brightest and best, including the latest technology, very reassuring when things go wonky. In the many times we’ve needed medical personnel here, we have yet to encounter a negative experience, which speaks volumes. The help we received and the people we met this week have only confirmed to us that this is home, and it’s a health perk to feel like you belong somewhere. It’s been gratifying during this pandemic to live in a place where people have instinctively grasped the need for health protocols and followed them. It makes all the difference.

As usual, I have receipts:

*****

My first test in the ER Wednesday was a CT scan for stroke. The second was a rapid COVID test, showing the priority the virus still holds here in town, especially with Delta assaulting us now. The third was a chest CT to look for pneumonia, yet another marker they’re on high alert for. We could help each other so much, all across the nation, just by keeping that bit of 2-way protection across our mouth and nose when we’re around each other. Kids have no problem with it, it’s an “adult” issue nobody can solve, so on we go, slogging through the viral load around us.

It’s a strange world, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Just for starters, we’re stuck via gravity to a ball of assorted schmeh, spinning through the universe among other large balls of schmeh. Highly unusual existence, except that we don’t know any other, firsthand. Quite probably it’s our very tethered-ness here that makes us bicker amongst ourselves about things like who’s right or wrong and why it matters. We have no Planet B, so there’s no place to take a powder ’til we feel better about life on this one, we’re “in community” whether we wish it that way or not, so it seems a shame we have such a hard time communicating within the human commune. Not all of life is threatening, nor scary beyond reason, and most things we find the grit to talk about lose at least half their power over us. But the talking, the saying of things, turns out to be the terrifying thing we can’t do, so after all’s not said and done our relationships become part of the health schematic we can’t fix.

Therefore… we fix what we can! And we’re fixing to have another healing spa soak on this partly-rainy Sunday morning, and count blessings.

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