Friday, July 25, 2014

On Our Way

My hair is cut.  My nails are done. The clothes are in a laundry basket on the floor of my closet, awaiting transfer to the big rolling suitcase.  My reading material and crossword puzzles have been considered and collected; I'm still vacillating between a vast array of totes/carry-ons/purses.  I have the yarn and the crochet hooks for the extra-large blanket the kids requested sitting in the closet of the room I'll be occupying.

My granddaughter and I are on our way.

The baby is descending nicely, thank you for asking.  Mom is in love with yoga's cat and cow poses, and credits them for keeping everything moving in the right direction.  They promised that she won't deliver today or tomorrow, but I am very glad that my plane ticket puts me on the ground in Chicago tomorrow night. 

Little Cuter still can't really get her head around it, or so she claims.  I think she's as close to it as it is possible to be.  There is no real preparation for the all encompassing nature of motherhood.  No one can explain how odd it is to have a piece of your heart residing in another, much smaller, much more demanding, much needier, much more vulnerable being. 

There's your human ... the one who lived under your heart for almost 40 weeks ... who must now face the world without the comfort of her mother's womb.  She'll be out there and you will be responsible as the world becomes filled with worries and delights. 

Just thinking about it has my eyes filling with tears of joy. I've never felt this way before.  My baby is having a baby .. and just moments ago, it seems, she was tiny and beautiful and mine.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Noticing G'ma

She's everywhere these days. 

Sitting on my desk is a picture of her playing with a goat when she was 21.  I never knew that woman.  Wearing short shorts and a midriff revealing blouse, her hair in two braids, she's completely in the moment, not wondering what others were thinking, not judging herself.  She was a wonderful mother but she was never like this.

And yet, when I think of myself I conjure images of college and building sand castles and reading in bed by the light from the hallway and in none of them do I have grey hair.  My thirties and forties are filled with pictures of my children, and myself in relation to my children, but the visions are of the kids ... not of me. 

I have no idea when my hair tilted more toward the white than the black side of things. The face I see in my mind's eye is filled with more color than the one the mirror reflects.  It's younger.  For the first time, I am wondering if this young woman is the one that G'ma saw when she thought of herself.

That's not who is visiting me these days, though.  These days, as I wait for my granddaughter to enter the world, I'm accompanied by a very real sense that my own mother is here, waiting with me. 

She's the content old lady who agreed to whatever I suggested.

She's sharing the love that I feel every minute of the day, surrounded as I am by pictures of FlapJilly and Little Cuter occupying one body.  My phone rings and there they are, the girls on the lock screen and G'ma hovering just above my head.  The combination is eerie and lovely at the same time.

Yes, it is as weird as it sounds.  I don't live my life this way.  I'm a fairly grounded individual, for the most part, I think, usually ... and yet I have been having conversations with my mother, I have been crying on her shoulder, I have been missing her and consulting her and noticing that I'm doing it as I'm doing it.

Perhaps there is something to the notion of crossing over to the other side.  Perhaps she's finishing up the work she started the day she died ... the day the pregnancy test revealed the existence of a new life.  She's watched over my girls as they've grown ... creating parking spaces where there were none with her personal parking karma ... leaving me with the knowledge that she was paying attention, up close and personal, while I was so far away.

Now that the baby is just days away from arriving, now that I am packing to join the prospective parents as we wait, together, for her presence, my own mom is coming to say goodbye. 

I'll always have her with me, but her work here is nearly done.  Just as when I kissed her goodnight for the last time, the intensity of her spirit is almost overwhelming. 

I can't prove it.  I feel it.  that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

She Was Riding on the Bus

"Do you want to tell me about being on television? The teacher told me to ask you about it."

"Not really......"

She's always at the studio, amusing herself while her mom exercises.  Dressed to the nines, with hair accessories matching her outfits, her smile as big as the sky.  She dances to the rest room, streaking past our sweating bodies, trying to become invisible.  That is impossible; her personality fills the room.

Not wanting to be too pushy, I left the conversation at that.  I'd done what I'd been asked to do; I posed the query.  We were both satisfied, but her maternal unit was having none of it.  Pressured by her parent, she relented.

"I was on that bus in Oracle, on my way to camp."

That bus.... the yellow school bus GOP Congressional candidate Adam Kwasman and his fellow protestors were trying to block ... the one that they feared was carrying disease ridden, gang prone, undocumented children.... children who were terrified, according to the candidate, who saw their faces through the windows. "This is not compassion," Kwasman said.  I wasn't sure whether he was talking about the decision to bus the kids to Oracle or his own behavior.

You might have seen it on tv ... the protest signs, the angry faces, the news vans, and the bus crawling past adults with poster boards and fists in a rural community on the outskirts of Tucson. 

Turns out that the bus was filled not with immigrant kids, but with local YMCA campers, on their way to an adventure.  My little friend was one of them. By the time she got the basic story out, she was surrounded by fascinated grown-ups, all eager to hear it from an eye witness.

What was it like?

It "wasn't scary ... it was funny ... we all took out our phones and started to take pictures and filmed it ..." 

Apparently, there was a cow in the road, too.  Bovine protestors is a new wrinkle in the public debate; our little friend was delighted to share a piece of information which no one else knew.

And then she paused, and we waited, and she looked me right in the eye and said
"Some of the signs were mean.   
One said 'Go Back to Mexico, you Brats!'  
How did he know we were brats?"
And so it goes.  She took it personally, profoundly shaken, not stirred by the vehemence of rational argument but hurt in her heart by an anonymous grown-up.  If those adults are looking to change hearts and minds, they're failing.

We talked for a while about being part of a national event.  "What happened to YOU?" she asked and Christina-Taylor was with us for a while before we were back to the weirdness of total strangers being privy to an incident in which you were a major player.  People talking about it and us over breakfast.  People imagining our lives ... our lives ... when we weren't all that special.  She just got on the camp bus.  I just went to the grocery store.  I made a point of the fact that those with notoriety are people just like us, because we are also people with notoriety and we were just regular people until ... and we laughed at the circularity of it all.

I encouraged her to write it down and told her I'd send it along to Brenda Starr at the local newspaper.  She told me about her friend who was on tv that night, "but they didn't want to talk to all the kids ... just him."  The crowd around us reassured her that we were all interested in her story, that we'd all read it, that she had something to say and we wanted to hear it.

That's about the most positive outcome I could manage from an absolutely awful affair. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keeping It Together

He's unworthy of her.  No one disagrees with that piece of the equation, not even he.  Somewhere beneath the destructive behaviors is a kind heart and a giving soul.  Unfortunately, he always seems to get in his own way.

When she asks, he's there ... but she doesn't want to have to ask.  She's not asking him to read her mind.  She's perfectly comfortable telling him when she is in pain, when she needs comfort, when his support is the only thing that will make it all seem right.  Those are the times when there are new heartaches, new situations, new needs. 

But certain things just come with the territory.  Family life includes child care and discipline and entertainment and supervision.  None of it should be a topic of conversation.  It should go without saying.  For a while, it seemed like a men are from Mars, women are from Venus issue; moms being hardwired to worry.  Over time, it became obvious that he wasn't paying attention to picking up the slack, let alone taking an active role in anything remotely resembling active parenting.

She was doing it ... because it had to be done.  She'd never use the kids to teach him a lesson.  Wives 1 and 2 own the patent on that.  Besides, she loves the kids and the time she spends with them; to her, it's the least onerous requirement of family life. 

It would be nice to have a true partner, one who was less demanding than the most demanding of his children. It would be nice to have confidence and trust in the one who pledged to share his life with you.  It would be nice to plan a vacation rather than a separation.

For now, she's keeping it together.  It's all she can do.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Random Thoughts - The Sunday Editiion

When did August become Autumn?  On our mall walk this morning Brenda Starr and I saw shoe stores filled with browns and blacks with nary a sandal in sight.  School starts on August 4th ... and that's not a district with year-round classes.  The temperatures are still in triple digits.  The summer blooming Texas Rangers have just hit their peak, matching the crepe myrtles in my courtyard that herald the height of the heat. 

School should start after Labor Day.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Prep and Pastry outdid itself this morning.  We met Cali Grammy after our walk, and marveled once again at all the babies and pregnant mommies and the wonder of seeing one another after several months.  Grammy apologized as she snapped pictures of our food; "I'm one of those people...." didn't phase us at all.  We moved silverware and napkins and glasses and you are rewarded with these:
 I was encouraged to include protein along with my fruit and croissant/donut topped with strawberry glaze... real strawberries... no artificial sweetener after-taste or gloppiness in my mouth ... so I asked for a scrambled egg ... which was perfectly cooked and garnished with a pea shoot or three.
We split the pastry.
Cali Grammy waffled between the varieties and settled on these creamy and gooey fruit covered French toasts. She didn't talk much after they arrived on the table; I think she liked them.
 Meanwhile, Brenda Starr ordered the tri-tip sliders she's been eyeing since we began eating there.  She, too, was quiet once she put top on the cheddar cheese biscuit.
To no one's surprise, I kept right on talking.
James Garner died, and I am blue. 
He is ... now was ... on the short list of people with whom I'd like to share a meal. Along with Robert Mitchum and Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, his name in the cast will guarantee that I'll at least take a chance on watching the movie. 
He always seemed comfortable in his own skin; Murphy's Romance seemed more autobiographical than fictional.  He was married to the same woman since 1956, which doesn't surprise me at all.  His politics were left of center and his smile melted my heart.  He was the best Maverick ... and I'm willing to argue the point. 
He will be missed.
What do you do when the Bridal Registry is completed and you've yet to buy a gift?  The happy couple live many states away; I knew him as a college student when decorating choices were dictated by availability and portability.  Past history is no help today.
I can guess at their color scheme by examining the choices they made.  I can be creative and hope they like my choice.  Or, I could send an email and ask for guidance.
It's absolutely lovely to have this at the top of my worry list.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

Where to begin? 

Presidents Obama and Putin were on the phone discussing the US sanctions when the news broke about another Maylasian Airlines plane ... this one shot from the sky ... despite Ukranian separatists' denials ... with hundreds of innocents on board.

Is it a problem of command and control in the field instead of at headquarters ... if there is a headquarters that a jumpy junior officer shot first and asked questions later?  Is it a plot against the airline itself ... not a far-fetched idea from a woman who enjoys reading international thrillers?  Is President Putin lighting the wick of a global conflict? 

It must have been an interesting conversation, don't you think?

And then there's the invasion .... or incursion ... into Gaza.  TBG wonders what Hamas hopes to accomplish by shooting rockets into Israel. Beyond drawing attention to themselves, I have no answer. Those rockets are, for the most part, repelled by the Iron Dome.  If their intentions are to kill Israelis, they are failing.  If their intention is to stir up the world, they are succeeding.

Through it all, civilians are suffering, on all sides.  Mothers of slain children are chastising their countrymen for acts too terrible to imagine.  When I heard the story, I was stunned.  Jews don't do that sort of thing ... that phrase resounded through my head for days.  It's not how I was raised.  I may have harbored homicidal thoughts toward my shooter ...  now and then and not very welcomed when they came ... because I didn't like seeing that side of myself.  They were thoughts, though, and never in any danger of becoming actions.   Even the death penalty was more than I could handle.

And I grieve for the families of the three Israeli boys, kidnapped and killed and mourned across the globe.  There was a memorial service here in Tucson; I didn't attend.  I can't cry in public ... not any more.

I drove around town today, dropping off donations and reselling books and sending packages and having lunch and checking out wall-beds and coffee table repairs ... and I saw nary a rocket in the sky.  I didn't worry about tuning my radio to the emergency alert channel.  I drove without cares and I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where tomorrow is truly not promised ... where there are forces actively engaging in events designed to end your life.

I have to think that the people are being very poorly represented by their leaders.  I refuse to believe that people are just evil.  I refuse.

PLEASE use restraint when commenting. Everyone is wrong and everyone is right and people are dying ... and that's the part I just can't stand.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colbie Caillat and Me

It seems that I am at the forefront of a new trend.  Colbie Caillat told Elle magazine that she's tired of being Photoshopped.  She wants to be able to walk out the front door without makeup and without judgment.

I've been doing that for years.

Big Cuter says I have spoiled him for all other women, since it takes me no time at all to get ready to go.  I search for my keys and my phone and my wallet - you'd think I would have learned to keep them in the same place by now, wouldn't you? - and I'm out the door.  I don't own any makeup to put on. My hair is wash and shake and finger comb to dry.  I like everything in my closet these days and the temperature is always hot so there aren't that many decisions to be made. I can be up and in the shower and in my clothes and out the door in less than ten minutes, if I have to.  I don't look that much different when I have an hour to prepare. 

Colbie Caillat told Elle that she worries about disappointing her fans.  That's akin to a first grader freaking out when he sees his teacher holding hands, wearing shorts, walking near the zoo.  You get over it.  If her music is dependent upon her appearance, if her listeners can't appreciate its value without imagining a glamour puss mouthing the words, then she might have a point.  But I've been enjoying her for years and have never given much thought to anything beyond the sound.

No one should have to be on all the time.  Celebrities should be able to run to the corner store and grab a paper (does anyone do that anymore?) without worrying about being on the cover of the supermarket tabloids.  But, since my should's don't rule the world, those in the public eye have to punt.  Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis in part because he had enough money and influence to allow her to live a life out of the public eye.  Buying an island or a mega-yacht isn't possible for most, so they worry.

I suppose I could worry, too.  I have gone beyond clean-and-pressed, washed-and-dried, nothing-more; I wore makeup on special occasions until sometime in the 2000's.  I know I didn't move any to Arizona in 2006.  The rest of the wedding party had their makeup done and they looked lovely.  I brought my face to the party, clad only in sunscreen.

My samples go straight to Elizibeth, who regards them as manna from heaven.  Then, again, she's 16 and trying to decide what she looks like.  Face paint is just one variation, for now. She knows I think she's gorgeous when she rolls into the dining room with bed-hair.  When pushed, she'd probably admit that she knows it, too. 

That's where it gets tricky. 16 and hiding behind war paint?  We are not alone with our insecurities, the opening opines. And then, there's this:

Do they like you?
Do you like you?
I like you.

This is one of those posts which ends up in a different place than I'd intended. I'm glad to know that I am on the cutting edge of a burgeoning trend.  This video prompted lots of comments and likes and shares on Facebook, so it obviously touched a nerve.  It's never been a big deal to me, one way or another.  I'm not very good at it, I'm lazy, it's an expense I can avoid..... I have lots of reasons but the biggest one is that I just don't care about it that much. 

I do, however, always wear good underwear, because Bubba was right.  You never know when you're going to end up in the hospital.  Trust me on this one, denizens, even if you are reading this as you are applying mascara.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the Mail...

....came the Costco Magazine, featuring an illustrated article on myofascial release strategies, including the deep tissue work which has been so helpful in my recovery.  As we age we tend to dessicate, inside and out.  As our fascia dry out, they become adhesive, clinging to the tissues around them.  Separating them from others and themselves is something we should all be thinking about, because we are never too young to take prophylactic measures. 

I took that information with me to meditation several weeks ago.  I sat on the floor, legs extended, arms by my ankles as I leaned up and over my fourth and third quadrants (lower abs to pelvic floor), sinking into the pose, just as Costco advised.  After 15 minutes of clearing my mind and not judging the thoughts which entered and left, my forehead was closer to my kneecaps than it ever had been before.  My fingers were well beyond my heels, and my spine had no knots or kinks. 

It took me a while to regain an erect spine, and even longer to stand up and rejoin the group on my chair.  But it felt great to be so much taller..... a sentence which started out to read It was great to feel so much taller but which is truer as first presented.
...came a letter from Robert S Mueller, III.  He apologized for taking so long to respond to my letter as he retired from the FBI.  He sent his thoughts to my family and said a thing or two about "the circumstances of that tragedy" and I smiled.

It's not often that remembering January 8, 2011 makes me smile, but thoughts of former Director Mueller always do.  He was a kind and gentle presence in a sharp and painful process,  He knew all of our names and our stories and he held my hand ... not shaking it, but holding it, as he apologized for the fact that this had happened on his watch. 

There was not a doubt in anyone's mind that he truly cared.  How often do you get to say that?  Can you see why thinking about him makes me smile?

And then, of course, there was the stationary itself.  A half sheet embossed with his name alone in a serif font, in big and small capital letters, in black at the top of the short end.  The watermark is straight down the center of the almost-but-not-quite-too-thick paper.  It made my smile even wider.
....came a thank you note from a good friend.  She lives here in town.  We email and text and phone all the time.  Yet, she took the time to use a pink, deckle edged, folded over note card (yes, I do love stationary) upon which she penned words of gratitude and friendship.

Some old habits, ingrained since childhood, die hard.  This is one I am glad is showing staying power.
.... came an AARP card.  Actually, it was two cards, one for me and one for my spouse.  My spouse has been ignoring these requests for two years longer than I have been, following his lead since the gesture matched my own desires. 

But this week he looked at the shiny red surfaces of the plastic rectangles and thought aloud that, maybe, we should sign up.  He said they were the only people who advertise anything about Medicare Supplemental insurance plans. 

I bit my tongue.  Medicare is his issue first and I am leaving it in his court.  I don't understand it and I don't want to undertake the investigation.  Therefore, I didn't mention the stack of ads accumulating in his Medicare file folder.  He'll get to it when he gets to it.

Meanwhile, I am frowning over joining an old people's club.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rillito Downs Farmers Market

They made a big splash in the local papers, moving from St. Philips's Plaza and landing a mile or so further south, at the racetrack, in a decidedly more income-diverse neighborhood.  JannyLou and I decided to check it out on Sunday morning.... although, to be accurate, I decided and asked if she wanted to come along. 
I sighed when she said she'd already had breakfast; Prep and Pastry was on my mind all morning.  With memories of Marin's extravagant Farmers Market at the Civic Center in mind, I skipped my usual yogurt and granola.  I was hoping for a fresh pastry.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, one of those big sky, big cloud mornings G'ma loved.

 Parking was free and plentiful and close.  JannyLou and I took the cloth grocery bags from The Schnozz and crossed into the Market. 
Locally grown is a small universe here in the desert Southwest; these ranchers drove two and a half hours to hawk their wares.
That's Star on the left and Barbara on the right.  They know every ounce of feed that their animals ingest; $7 per pound ground beef is on my list the next time we need bbq'ed burgers. 
The veggies were colorful
and plentiful.
Does the variety surprise you? 
It's not Marin, but it is fresh and home grown.
Are those not the most gorgeous squash you've ever seen?
Curcubits do very well here.
So do heirloom tomatoes.

I strolled past the flower seller; it's much too hot to put anything into the ground right now.
I was thirsty,
and there were so many options.
Emu oil, taken from locally raised emus, fascinated us for a while. 
The mint seller was friendly and helpful and JannyLou and I shared a 2-for$19 promotion.
I took peppermint tincture, she took spearmint.
I rubbed some on the back of my neck and felt cooler immediately.
TBG liked it on his swollen and achy kneecap, too. 
There were very expensive eggs
and jams and jellies galore. 
and popsicles.
I was hoping that these were from the juice of the prickly pear cactus, or that the name was an homage to our most prevalent opuntia, but the dots on the uneaten popsicle on the sign looked too much like glochids for anything to entice me to stop. 
There were lots of helpers, from soup
to salsa. 
Some were human.
I was thrilled to find Sven the Knife Sharpener; I will be taking my entire inventory to him.
Sven stood next to the sweet treats, but they didn't tempt me.
It was hot and I was tired
So were the Indian caterers.
In cooler weather, I will be bringing home some of these for dinner. 
But on Sunday, with the sun blazing and my skin frying, tomatoes and peppermint and some roasted peppers for pasta were all I could imagine.


Monday, July 14, 2014

I love it when people cook for me.  One of the perks of getting shot was home cooked meals delivered six days a week.  Every night, TBG and I dined on something new and interesting which I did not have to think about, or shop for, or prepare.  Everything came in disposable containers; had we eaten on paper plates there wouldn't have been any clean up at all. 

I didn't appreciate the effort it took for G'ma to live up to Ladies Home Journal and Daddooooo's mom, the world's most judgmental mother-in-law.  G'ma wrote out the week's menus and went to the Kosher butcher once a week, collecting minute steaks (arguably the toughest cut of meat on the poor dead beast) and chickens and ground beef.  If it was Tuesday, it was spaghetti and tiny, rock hard meatballs with Ragu heated up on the stove.  She became a better cook once the kids were out of the house, but I never entered into the "My Mom is a Better Cook Than Your Mom" contests. 

I didn't hide my dissatisfaction with culinary arts from my husband-to-be... a fact of which I remind him on those occasions when my efforts in the kitchen lead to less than salubrious results.  It's hard to put in all that time and effort only to be disappointed with the results.... and we were often disappointed with the results. 

Then Big Cuter sent me a link to Blue Apron, with a coupon for one week's free meals.  I ignored it.  I continued to ignore it even after he asked about it.... the second time.  Neurasthenically avoiding housework, I clicked through to the website and found, within five minutes, that three meals from the categories I'd not eliminated in my profile (tending to TBG's fish allergy) would be delivered sometime between 8am and 8pm two Wednesdays from then.

The delivery service brought the crumpled but serviceable, very heavy box to my front door.  TBG took it the rest of the way.  In the kitchen, I unpacked sealed packaged of chicken and ground beef and plastic bags of bulgar and rice and paper and plastic containers of all shapes and sizes
holding heirloom tomatoes and garlic and shallots and those microgreens.
There were chayote squash and non-fat Greek yogurt and a truly phallic cucumber I really should have photographed.  We put cold stuff in the 'fridge, stacked the dry ingredients in a lovely basket, and dined that night on an organic chicken brought over by JannyLou. 

Thursday, Big Cuter and I put our speaker phones on the counter in our kitchens 900 miles apart, and began to cook.  Not more than ten minutes into the process, my son said "Maybe this can be our thing, Mom."  From then on I really didn't care if the meal was tasty.  My heart was full. 

But, cook we did, from our laminated instruction sheets.  They left nothing to chance.  There was a picture of everything about which one could wonder... and wonder I did.  Often, and with feeling.
First step was to wash and dry the produce.  Then there was chopping and mincing and dicing and medium dicing and Big Cuter startled me by remembering the conversation we'd had when he was 9 or 10 and scoffing at the notion that there were actual directions for cutting something up. 
His enthusiasm for the knowledge and the memory of our sunny California kitchen kept me smiling as I spent more time than I usually do preparing more ingredients than I usually have into a dish that looked more elegant than anything I usually create. 
It was tasty, too.
The next night I struck out on my own, creating Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Cucumber Salad. 
There was little or no conversation at the table.  As Daddooooo would have remarked, "The silence is a compliment to the chef."
I took it with a smile.... and that's how we ate.... smiling... right up until we looked at the kitchen.

The first night, cooking with Big Cuter, we madeFilipino Beef and Squash. I was too overwhelmed to add photography to the endeavor.  The pictures for this post are from the second meal, for those of you who are keeping track of such things.  



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