…and the smell of Gunsmoke..

Hello everyone and hope you are all practicing safe distancing from friends and family. I can’t even begin to imagine where we’d be without the internet. That being said, I live in a rural area where internet is spotty at the best of times, so there are moments where it is a real chore to stay connected. I have even had to ditch the streaming and resort to such an archaic thing as DVD’s. Can you believe it!  While I do get cranky about paying good money for poor service, I realize, like everything else in this weird state we find ourselves immersed, my internet provider does not require yet one more harried customer barking down the phone lines. I recognize that there are some very dedicated people who cannot hope to work from home that are keeping us going and literally the whole town is streaming at the same time. These are challenging times…so to internet providers…I salute!
An interesting thing happened when I plugged in my DVD. It essentially unplugged me from the world. While it is imperative that we all keep abreast, my DVD does not ping with unread alerts, messages, and the urge to peek in on the rest of the world. For however long the length of the show I’m watching, I am truly engaged.  Certainly, if I choose, I could have my phone in one hand and the dvd remote in the other, but well, the point is I’m watching the DVD because the internet has slowed to a standstill. In a bargain bin one time, whilst waxing nostalgic, I picked up a bunch of various DVD’s related to my childhood.  Bonanza, Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, and the like. I’ve never actually watched them…it just made me feel happy to know that I had them and could revisit my childhood on a whim. Since those purchases, streaming apps have begun to offer much the same programming and my DVD’s have stayed in their shrink wrap.  The programs on the streaming apps are in my watchlists and are ones I save for a rainy day…never quite getting around to them either, but there is comfort in knowing they are there. They offered me escape once upon a time and as I look at my DVD shelf, they are indeed all portals to another place, not unlike my collection of books. But unlike books, I can be a passive audience with a DVD. Not something I would normally recommend as a librarian but desperate times and all that. One TV program that I actually researched specifically and ordered the DVD, was Gunsmoke. A show with a long and varied career both on radio and TV that was in our home every single Sunday night. My dad, in particular was a western fan but Gunsmoke was one my mother often enjoyed too. From my memory, it seems that it was on very late (my dad was usually asleep by then), and it was always at my mother’s indulgence that I was permitted to watch.  My mind connects Gunsmoke with her. We did not have a great relationship. Her alcoholism and agoraphobia (that woman could out social distance the best of us!) caused for some best forgotten memories. There are a few gems in my memory that I like to revisit and one of favourite memories is watching Gunsmoke with my mom  one Christmas when I was about 12. Some friends had taken me for a drive to look at Christmas lights around Dartmouth, N.S. where I grew up and I returned home to find that Gunsmoke was about to start. My mom offered to make me a turkey sandwich and I cannot eat a turkey sandwich to this day without thinking of her.  I can almost taste it…soft white Ben’s bread, miracle whip, carved turkey breast, a little pepper, and bread & butter pickles. Add a cold can of pepsi and it was heaven indeed.  I don’t know what episode it was we watched that night, it could have been a repeat. I ordered one year of the series hoping it was close to the year of my memory and that is the DVD my husband and I started watching after the internet died.
I have been feeling very anxious this past week. I find myself realizing at 2pm that I forgot to brush my teeth or wonder why I’m starving at noon, only to realize I forgot breakfast. I even look up to see my dear cats looking at me woefully only to realize I forgot to feed them (not to worry, there is always a dish of dry food…but they are spoiled and do not hesitate to remind me if the Fancy Feast does not arrive on schedule).  I find I must make a very concentrated effort to do what used to be automatic. I miss the walks with my friend and neighbour. I miss the volunteering activities that engaged me in my retirement. I miss the little preschoolers and their boundless energy. I miss so much but perhaps I can turn this around to embrace a state of noticing more. Projects waiting to start, books to be read, DVD’s to take out of their shrink wrap. A time to be gentle with myself. Social media and news headlines can be very alarming without context. Social Media can be misinforming and thus creating undue alarm and News headlines want to grab our attention. It is all alarm nonetheless and it is easy to forget that there is still good in the world and blessings to be counted. It is hard to remember to relax and simply do what we can, there’s no more that we can humanly do other than wash hands, distance, don’t hoard. and help others (unless you are an epidemiologist, and well…much for you to do, stay safe and well!). That’s it. Trying to sleep through the night has become almost impossible and I feel in a constant  state of high alert. But a curious thing happened last night when I chose to watch an episode of Gunsmoke just before bed. I became immersed in the story and transported back to a simpler time. James Arness with his soothing voice had a great calming effect (a great counterpart to William Conrad who played Matt Dillon on Radio that I would listen to via Radio Classics on XM radio and always found calming on my way to or from work).  Matt Dillon would always save the day and, it would seem, even this night so many years later. 
Having had this unexpected experience (thank you internet (non)provider), I plan to revisit more shows that helped me throughout my youth and which, at least to me, are comforting me once again. “Lost in Space” (the original) is another great one I own on DVD. Danger, Danger, Will Robinson…socially distance yourself from Dr. Smith!!!  In keeping with that theme, you can watch “My Favourite Martian” on Prime. All good hokey fun. I do, however, recommend avoiding the “Twilight Zone” for obvious reasons. Back in the day most TV shows were, indeed completely episodic and the story was told and wrapped up in one concise episode. Kids today don’t understand the horror of getting to the end of the show only to see the dreaded banner “to be continued…”. There were so many unknowns…would I be allowed to turn to this channel again next week at this time in a house with only >gasp< one 19” black and white TV??? Would we be home on that day and that time? Would I forget and be outside playing with friends? Even if I asked, would my parents remind me it was on??? So many things could go wrong before the next episode was aired! I would love to go back and tell young me that I now have the ultimate power! I can watch episodes one after the other at my whim, repeatedly if I choose, whenever and wherever. The child that I was would think I had become a God…lol
Another great find, and this time on the internet, is The Ultimate Online Nova Scotia Kitchen Party (Covid19 edition). For those of you who may not know, Nova Scotians are famous for their kitchen parties. The kitchen was where everyone hung out and entertained their friends. A few (or more) beers, a guitar, a fiddle, accordion, or spoons brought out everyone’s favourite tunes and toe tapping jigs. The people on this site are filming themselves performing in isolation and sharing with the world. Young and old, families together, my God the talent coming out of my home province is unbelievable.  It makes me awfully homesick to watch and I can almost smell the salt air through the screen. Homesickness is not a bad thing in and of itself, it the kind of sickness that makes us reach out to the familiar and we are blessed to be able to do so virtually from the comfort of our couch with our coffee mug in hand (or a cold bottle of Keith’s). Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2551910281742126/?multi_permalinks=2557943237805497&notif_id=1585061778487065&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic
I was so moved by everyone sharing on this site that I posted a thank you and one of my aurora pics hoping to bring some light to others. While my Facebook page can garner a few dozen likes and a couple of comments, and this blog even less, – I was blown away by the response from my home province. I had thousands of likes and hundreds of positive comments that truly lifted my spirit. I have often stated that I did not venture into this in order to become rich but rather to share the beauty that I have been blessed to capture. The wonderful reception from the kitchen party was an unexpected balm to my spirit these past few days. It made me truly happy to be able to reach out and find a connection to these wonderful people. While I can hang out there and enjoy the music, photos are not in line with the vision of the site so instead of posting there, I’ve invited the audience to pop in and visit on my Facebook page whenever they might like. Thankfully I don’t have to be dressed or have the house tidy if and when they arrive…lol
So to those of you who are feeling their heart start to race for no apparent reason (when mine does that I always hope my Fitbit is at least giving me the credit for apparently having run a flight of stairs) I urge you to look to where you can find joy. It might be in the form of TV shows or movies that remind you of better times, it might be in helping your neighbour get supplies, it might be a walk through a park with a camera, or a phone conversation with a good friend – sharing your coffee across the miles or only meters as the case may be. Revisit and reconnect what comforted you in your youth.  In the past I have even looked up old toys I once played with just to see them again…the internet can  magical! Re-read a favourite book. I am currently re-reading Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronauts’s Guide to Living Life on Earth”. He has many great you-tube videos that are balm for the spirit as well. Self-isolation is hardly the isolation it would have been 30 years ago. Embrace positivity where you can, do what you are tasked with doing. The best part is, no one’s going to see the mess my house is in or see me sitting here in my Star-Trek bathrobe at past lunch. There is immense freedom in that my friends, embrace it! Stop by my gallery or better yet my FaceBook page where I will be posting something every day to hopefully reach your spirit the way so many of you reach mine.

Stay well my friends!
P.S.…having watched Doc Adams now in a few episode of Gunsmoke, does anyone else see the uncanny resemblance to the character of Dr. McCoy on Star Trek?

Also…in writing this it has literally just dawned on me that I have a grandson named Matthew and another named Dillon, neither of them did I have hand in naming. Mind blown! What an amazing Universe 🙂

The photo attached is a Corona of the positive kind…an auroral corona, bursting into the sky like a portal to another world 🙂

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