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2020. and black-eyed peas. [d.r. thursday]

black-eyed peas. we are iso a recipe for black-eyed peas. we read that eating black-eyed peas on new year’s day brings general good luck and financial good fortune to the eater-of-the-peas.

we also read that we should eat pork – which might explain why my sweet momma often insisted on pork for new year’s day. apparently, the fact that pigs root forward suggests that the eater-of-the-pork will indeed move forward as well in the new year. we will stay away from chicken and turkey on new year’s day because chickens and turkeys scratch in the dirt and we have done enough dirt-scratching this year so would like to avoid that at all cost in 2021.

at midnight tonight – new year’s eve – we are going to open both doors to our house – the front and the back – to allow the old year – the mighty-roaring 2020 – to leave, exit, escape, make an exodus, get the heck out.

at midnight tonight – new year’s eve – we will have the stockpots ready and the big finnish wooden spoons. we’ll bang lids and pots together and drum on the metal as loud as we can. (i know it’s “loud-ly” but we are just going to be utterly loud!)

we are heeding any and all suggestions, any and all superstition, any and all custom so as not to impede 2020 and its mean-spirited-spirit to leave and also generously allow for a kinder 2021 to arrive. our list goes on…

yes. tonight we will usher out this year-of-years and, maybe like you, smooching with great expectation, we will greet the new year.

*****

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accountability. [two artists tuesday]

beaky thought greg norman was pretty, well, handsome, shall we say? she was taken with his tall blondness and, though she didn’t follow golf much back then, she kept an eye on him. she would be proud of him these days as he cautions us all not to take covid-19 lightly. stricken with coronavirus, he urges, “do what is right, not just for you, but your family, friends, co-workers and other people around.” he adds, “i wouldn’t want anyone to experience this hideous virus. please take care.” i imagine she’d write him a letter.

the headlines say it all – a surge upon a surge. choices made during this holiday season will deliver blowback to people’s health and well-being, their very lives, decimating the healthcare system, and there is no one to blame for that but ourselves. every single choice impacts us all in the time of this shared pandemic. disney world and large family gatherings and traveling trips to other parts of the country all play a role; there is no escaping accountability.

i recently read of a discussion about authority and accountability. the open question was this: who has authority and who has accountability? wow. really? this seems, without any undue thought, a no-duh. those who have authority to make decisions are the same as those who are accountable for them. escaping from responsibility-taking is off the table. if you make a decision then you must support that by taking responsibility for it. in any arena. if you travel on an airplane or a train or a car to a different part of our country and you bring covid as luggage, you must take responsibility. if you gather and covid is a silent guest at the long dining table laden with treats, you must take responsibility. if you don’t wear a mask and you are with others who become infected, particularly those at high risk, you must take responsibility. and i wonder – is it worth it? we each have the authority, the liberty, the freedom to make decisions. but that also makes us responsible. it makes us accountable. in any arena.

dogdog, as we rapidly approach the end of 2020, just asks this one thing. with this two-ply cotton fabric mask on his head, he looks up at us and queries, “this? this is what all the hubbub is about? this tiny cloth mask? it can literally save lives?? pshaw!!”

as we watch him looking at us out of the corner of his eye, i imagine him adding, “just WEAR the freaking thing!”

i’m guessing greg norman and my sweet momma agree.

*****

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“not the same.” [merely-a-thought monday]

the dog hides in the bathroom when there is even the hint of a disagreement, an argument, any kind of underlying tension he senses in his sweet and highly intuitive body. he slowly rises from the old wood floor in the living room or the tiled floor of the sunroom or sprawled on top of the raft and tiptoes down the hall to lie down out of the fray, even if it’s a quiet fray. he can feel it – the tension – and it makes him feel angst.

this year. angst. how can any of us be without angst this year? it seems that things in the universe have spiraled out of control, things are afire and we drop-roll in anxiety. we succumb, in pain, to the extreme pressures this year has presented and sometimes we direct it at each other. ptsd is alive and well and will likely prevail past december 31, rolling its tentacles into the new year.

“things will not be the same because we will not be the same,” 20 texted us, having stumbled across this quote. he captured, in his passing on of these words with no attribution, the truth of it. things will not be the same. and neither will we. we will not be the same. and neither will things.

so i guess the question is this – how do we all rise from the ashes of this year? how do we “live above the circumstances” as jonathan texted? how do we drag our tired bodies and minds and hearts into 2021 and have hope?

though, decades ago, i was granted a master’s degree in counseling and i try to incorporate the methods of communication i learned, i still fail miserably in the middle of spatting with d. i try to resist my and his laundry list of what-happened-last-times or i-remember-you-saids or i-remember-you-dids. it is to no avail. somehow we end up tiffing not-so-much only about now, but instead, about all the back-thens up to now. i don’t think we’re alone in this. and i suspect that this year has burdened us all with so much stress and insulated time together that it is inevitable. there has been so much; confusion and anger and grief and sadness wash over us all. we are all exhausted. we are forever changed.

but i hope we can also take away from this year that we survived it. broken wrists, pandemic fears, covid-lost jobs, a city stricken by violent social injustice, a country in chaos, chasms of relationship differences, isolation, suffering a firing, losing a community. we will not be the same. things will not be the same.

and yet, we are here…on the doorstep of 2021…in the tiny liminal space between the holidays, rapidly approaching the new year. the bootstraps call our names and, again, we bend, like rugged, ragged reeds in the wind, and tug them up. we try, once again, to remember that we have somehow gotten through 363 days – already. we are changed. things are changed. i heard myself saying to a dear friend, “yes. you are made of every single thing up to this very minute. but now you are here and your next step is in now, not in then, not in all that.” i need remember. we need be in now. in spite of and because of. looking forward, stepping forward. ever slowly, but doggedly forward. tripper would celebrate this phoenix-choice.

two wise women offer these words:

“the life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” (anna quindlen)

“tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (mary oliver)

alike. and different.

things will not be the same, yes, because we will not be the same.

maybe that’s ok.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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comfort you. [two artists tuesday]

van morrison said it: “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

how is it that, in the middle of feeling low-low-low, these sweet animals know exactly what to do? tucked under an old quilt, dogdog and babycat jumped up on the bed, searched my face and snugged up tightly right next to me, bookends on either side.

there are days – in these times – we must all feel the anguish of mental health exhaustion, of wide-awake anxiety, of worries too steep to climb, struggles, fears to which we close our eyes, wincing in pain.

there are days we reach out to others, extending words of reassurance, tiny tidbits of humor, virtual hugs, care packages, texts of love.

there are days we can only lay under a quilt. we sort and sort through the stuff-in-our-brains, listing the realities of our angst, wondering, reeling, succumbing to lonely early winter darkness.

if only it were so easy as to be dogdog and babycat. with no hesitation, they simply comfort. their response is pure. their compassion is the stuff of unconditional love. they don’t make assumptions or have judgement. they don’t assail with questions or platitudes. they don’t slough it off or explain it away. they don’t ignore it.

instead, they show up. and it is absolutely clear to me that they are saying, “i want to comfort you.”

*****

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space for peace. [k.s. friday]

slowly-but-surely-time-rapidly-rushing we are approaching the holidays. with all the concurrent spinning plates wishing i could slow it all down, wishing i could feel it happening. i want to feel the peace of the season, the peace of quiet winter coming on.

wisdom comes from unexpected places. softly. an instagram post here, a text there, a conversation on the phone, a note. people, wittingly and unwittingly, giving me words on which to linger, images in which to immerse, snippets of thoughts to ponder.

i woke up this morning feeling hopeful. a bit more sleep was restorative. i read wise soul-provoking words of my girl; i received an email from a generous stranger.

i started to recall the times in my life when an obstacle was actually a gift, when a turn in the road was the thing that protected me. instead of railing against the current, i am slowly slipping onto the raft that is taken by it.

i took a picture of the blue sky yesterday – just blue – because it was the first blue sky in days. i felt deep gratitude for it and for the sun i could feel on my back as we hiked. the two masked women we passed on the trail raised their hands, fingers outstretched in the symbolic v, and called out, “peace.”

early this morning i sipped coffee that david brought me, my legs stretched out on the bed tightly snugged between dogdog and babycat, both laying ever-so-close. and we spoke of waking a little bit lighter today than yesterday. it doesn’t change the circumstances. but how we are in those circumstances changes us.

and in the slow-but-sure-rapid-rushing-time advent of this winter, this season, this time of quietude and rejuvenation, it allows space for peace.

*****

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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a meeting of the minds. [d.r. thursday]

sensitive souls, dogdog and babycat study us, follow us, respond to our auras. their questioning gazes, locking eye-to-eye contact, belie all manner of thought and wondering going on in their minds. they are clearly concerned. in moments of high anxiety, moments of shorter fuses, moments of tears, they pace, uncertain how to help, uncertain of what they might do to resolve the angst. in moments of laughter, moments of gaiety, moments of teasing, they play along, happy to be a part of the joy-joy.

lately, after deep behavioral study of us and subsequent research, they have made a few requests: stop reading the news, stop wondering when orbit-people are going to be honest and forthcoming, stop checking the weather for a late warm spell, stop worrying.

they checked in with d on this; it was a meeting of the minds. “momma is clearly distressed. she is agonizing over things she has no control over. we want to help,” they told d.

as he relayed this to me, i asked, “what did you tell them?”

he said, “i told them that, though daunting, stress is a fact of life for people. i told them that fretting, even brooding on things, is a part of people’s every day, of their makeup, that there are so many things to be besieged with, things over which to be troubled.” he continued, “i tried to explain the political chaos, supreme court indignities, the financial strain, healthcare issues, the fear of the pandemic, racial, gender and sexual orientation inequality, pointed misogynistic behaviors, the isolation…”

“wow. what did they say? what did they do?” i asked.

“they stared at me, blank-eyed, and said, ‘can we have a treat?'”

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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just know. [two artists tuesday]

loves me loves me not

we passed the daisy on the trail and i went back to take a picture.  it was instant recognition of  “loves me, loves me not” as i saw it.  the questions we threw willy-nilly to the universe, the don’t-step-on-a-crack, knock-wood, bread-and-butter reflexes of our 60s-70s childhoods.

were it all still to be so easy.

i remember sitting in the grass making clover chains.  i remember the transistor radio playing on the bazooka bubble gum beach towel.  i remember playing in the woods out back with the neighbors.  i remember kickball in the street and badminton and croquet in the yard.  i remember hula-hoops and skateboards on my driveway.  i remember the “boing” the pogo stick made.  i remember koolaid and ice pops that seemed to never run out.  i remember bike hikes with sue and carvel ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles.  i remember frisbee at the beach and making apple pies.  i remember listening to cassettes and practicing piano.  i remember the trunk of the maple tree against my back, the branches holding me as i wrote.  i remember the sound the pressure-filled-from-the-sun-light-purple-hosta-flowers along our sidewalk made when popped.  i remember it was time to go home when it got dark and i remember catching fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lids.  i remember sunday drives and picking apples and kentucky fried chicken on picnic tables further out on the island.  i remember cabins in state parks and wide-eyed flirting with older lake lifeguards upstate.  i remember duck ponds and friendly’s.  i remember my puppy riding in my bike basket and ponytails.  i remember loves-me-loves-me-not.

it seemed an innocent time.  a time of marvel.  a time of safety.  never did i wonder if my parents loved me.  i just knew.

babycat just rolled onto his back, all four paws outstretched, his big black and white belly just begging for a pet.  he doesn’t ask questions.  his world is relatively small – since his kittenhood adoption, the littlehouse was the only other house he has known other than our house.  yesterday we brought him and dogdog into the basement as the tornado siren went off.  dogga was nervous but babycat adapted, finding a place to lay on the carpet.  his only demand is for food, several times a day with clockwork precision.  otherwise, he is unconditional.  his presence in my life has brought me eleven years of a gift i really needed when he arrived.

babycat is laying right next to me now as i type.  tucked close in, his snoring is punctuated only by his purring – it’s a two measure repeat in 4/4, each breath a half note.  it is the 11th anniversary of his “gotcha day” and he’s marking the day with a celebration of naps. no worry of “loves me, loves me not” crosses his mind.  he just knows.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the new bowl. “what now?” [merely-a-thought monday]

what now bcat

we put out a different water bowl in the kitchen for dogdog and babycat.  neither one of them will drink from the bowl.  we put their old water bowl in the next room, filled with water, so that they will be able to hydrate, but we were hoping that they would adjust to the new one.  neither one of them will drink from the bowl.  in the world they inhabit, one that must have low level anxiety frequencies they can feel from the-whole-outside-world, they do not like change.  it’s been days and neither one will drink from the bowl.

“what now?”

in the past months and in what now feels like a broken world, we can face forward.  we can set intentions and take one baby step at a time, all in unequivocal love of all humankind.  we can be light for each other and we can hold fear tenderly.   we can look newness of change eye to eye as we learn, challenge the status quo, embrace compassion and principle and stride confidently into a new time.

we can sit by the new bowl, encourage our dog and cat to drink from it, recognize their fear of the unknown, of change, and just love them.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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the benefits. [d.r. thursday]

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MY LOVES 24″x 48″

i woke in the middle of the night to discover i was spooning the cat.  he jumps up on the bed and, pretty much like a sack of concrete, settles in for a long night’s nap, mostly because, well, clearly, the other 23 hours he slept in the day were not ample enough sleep.  he snugs in and prevents movement of most sorts:  there will be no blanket adjustments, no leg adjustments, little rolling over.  my hot flashes necessitate much wrestling to find cooler air as he has permanently planted his sweet large body and is down for the count.  and so, you must adjust.  granted, his sleep-apnea-style-snoring would be cause for plucking-and-moving (to another room) but we love him and suffer his sleeping-sovereignty; the benefits outweigh the costs.

sally told me that there is a machine that duplicates the frequency of a cat’s purring vibration.  i did not know that cat purring is healing and restorative – to broken or fractured bones, tendons, joints, muscles, infections.  we would rent out babycat but i am trying to figure out how to make him lay on my broken-and-in-the-ridiculously-slow-process-of-healing wrists.  once again, the benefits outweigh the costs.

i hadn’t ever had a cat before b-cat, but now it’s been almost eleven years.  he is in some ways more of a dog than a cat, having tolerated a parent who knows dogs and was too busy at the time to read ‘kittens for idiots’ all the way through.  so he sits when asked and speaks when asked and does dog-like things.  however, he rides the fence and takes advantage of cat-like things at will, like claws.  and he is fickle as fickle can be.  jen explained that cats will patiently ‘allow’ you to stroke them and pet them and fondle them, all seemingly appreciated, until the doll flips and it suddenly reaches out with both front paws and pulls your hand up to its razor teeth.  ahh, but those moments preceding the bite…the benefits outweigh the costs.

in this time of other-worldliness and alternate-reality these creatures of ours – dogdog and babycat – are companions unlike any other.  they will not argue politics or policy.  they don’t strategize or scheme.  they are not semantics-nuts or particularly immersed in propaganda-hunts.  they will not roll their eyes at our rants nor will they feed them or egg us on.  instead, they comfort when they suspect we need it.  they are quiet when there’s been too much noise.  they are entertaining when we need funny.  they are warm in the cold pandemic plane.

and they curl up with us in solidarity.  benefits always outweighing the costs.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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oblivious. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

to bee or not to bee

“deliriously oblivious,” i thought as we passed the bees buzzing the dandelions on the trail.  with no real idea of the state of the pandemic-battered world, these bees were just going about their bee-life.  in some silly way, i was jealous.

much of the time right now i feel as if we are living in an alternate reality than others.  we shop with masks; many wander about fresh-faced and seemingly unaware.  we distance from others; we pass gatherings of people, clearly not related, all not even a smidge apart from each other.  we walk in single file on the side of the trail as we approach others; groups of people swarm the trail, passing right by us, unmasked, unconcerned.  we yearn to travel a bit, see our children, our families; others post about their gatherings or even trips.  we patiently work by videoconference, technology reigns supreme these days waiting for a time when it is safer to venture out; crowds protest and push for heedless immediate re-opening.  our hearts break for families losing loved ones to this dangerous virus; deaths are reported as cold numbers sans empathy.  the weighing of losing more lives vs ‘opening up’ is posed as an actual question.  it feels like we are on another plane of existence watching the world, abiding by different rules.  truly.

and right here, in the middle of it all, the bees buzz from dandelion to dandelion, and soon flower to flower, seeking nectar.  migratory birds return to the skies above and animals return to prowl about in warmer temperatures.  in other parts of the country and the world, wildlife is enjoying a reprieve from people.  in what must be a breath of fresh air for them, animals are freer to roam, freer to linger.  their curiosity is taking them off the beaten path, out of their norm.  i wonder if there is some kind of intuition that informs them; i wonder if they are somehow conscious of this looming threat to humanity.  i wonder what they are thinking as they watch this play out, the impact of a pandemic on health, relationships, mindfulness, neighborliness, working in community together.  i wonder how they, in the infinite wisdom of instinct, would decide if someone placed the words ‘health’ and ‘economy’ in front of them and made them choose just one.

there are moments i am convinced that dogdog and babycat know.  i’m sure that they can feel the anxiety we hold.  dogga, in particular, watches our faces for cues, his gaze is eye-to-eye-contact riveting.  they hover about us, close by.  perhaps unmindful of the pandemic, but certainly conscious of our emotions.

and as bumblebees begin to buzz in our backyard, the dog chases them.  the birds begin to discover there is water in the pond again.  the squirrels dance across the wires.  the turkey lands on the roof.  the sun rises earlier.  the lettuce starts to grow.

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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