Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Alt-Right - What Upsets Me

I'd never heard the term until this weekend.  Alt-Right was everywhere and I was flummoxed. Everyone knew about it but me.  The talking heads speak to TBG all day long; how had the phrase not osmosed into my brain?

I investigated the situation on-line, read Bannon's screeds and his history, and found myself awash in mainstream media trying to find the least offensive synonyms for racist, homophobic, xenophobic rants.  I thought that Alt-Right was another synonym.

Big Cuter disabused me of that notion.  Alt-Right is what the people who used to keep their beliefs under a rock have taken to calling themselves.  I guess I've been living in a bubble of people who think, but the words and the ?logic? are awful.
I refuse to provide links because nobody else should have that nonsense running around in their brain.
It's not that these are new ideas.  There has always been an ugly current in America - from the Salem Witch Trials to burning crosses to No Dogs No Jews Nobody Who Isn't a Real American... a David Duke American.... an American who doesn't threaten those who feel the most left behind.... I suppose... I don't understand it and I'm not sure I want to spend the time required to do so.

What upsets me is the 40% of Americans who plan to vote for a man espousing those values.

What upsets me is the mainstream media using Alt-Right instead of Far Right Extremists or the Splinter Wingnuts of the Party Formerly Known as Republican when they talk about people they despise but to whom they must give air time.

What upsets me is that this is happening in my America.

Words matter.

Putting lipstick on a pig still leaves you with Sarah Palin.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Another Sign of the Apocaplyse

What have we come to when this is on the shelf at Costco:
How can there be anything but organic water?
Or, perhaps, I am mis-parsing and the organic relates to the coconuts?

Still, how can water be anything but a beverage?
Or is it because it has coconut it qualifies as a beverage, where without the coconut it would be.... drinkable?

It's things like these that keep me questioning on a Saturday morning, waiting to pay for my lime flavored sparkling natural mineral water.... 
which, apparently, assumes I know enough about water to recognize it as a beverage.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pilates at Amphi - A Public/Private Partnership

GRIN's legwork and Body Works Pilates's teachers and Balanced Body's equipment have given the girls' Sports Fitness Class at Amphi Middle School professional Fletcher Pilates instruction, within the curriculum.
That may not seem like much, but I am here to tell you that it is a monumental achievement.  Without the support of the school's administrative staff, without their determination that the program would succeed, without their fearlessness in the face of insurmountable (to me, anyway) obstacles, they tweaked and poked and prodded and together we came up with a solution that worked for everyone.

It's been going on since April 13, 2012.  That's 9 semesters of work, 9 semesters of girls who've gained strength and control, noticed by their Coach and classroom teacher, verified by those who've gone before them.  We've done research and measurements on physical and psychological dimensions over the years, and now, with the help of the friendly folks at AlignaBod, we have the perfect tool.

The girls aren't that interested in how many seconds they can hold a plank.  That doesn't translate to their lives outside the gym.  These are 12 and 13 year old girls; they spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.

If I can show them in pictures how their bodies have adapted to their work on the mats, if they can see themselves standing straighter and taller, if they can hold the pictures in their hands or put them on their locker door or bulletin board at home....

Do such things still exist?  Is Facebook the digital bulletin board? Ah, once again, I digress .... 

.... I think it will make a big difference.

I took three photos of each student.  They faced forward, to the side, and to the grid.

I aligned them with the bold vertical line but gave them no instruction other than

Just stand there.  

Some were stiff and some were loose and some were delighted to join in the fun.

I asked each of them to write her name on a clean page of the yellow mini-legal-pad (scrubbed, there on the left, for obvious reasons) and to respond to this prompt:
using this scale: 
Are you impressed with my high-tech materials?

In December, I'll repeat the process and consider my findings.
I'll print the pictures for the girls, and hope for the best.

My expectations have already been met.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Betwixt and Between

The Cuters are in limbo.  Big Cuter is waiting to hear about a job that would make him happy on all levels.  Little Cuter and SIR are squatting in his parents' home, searching for child care, tending to friends at funerals, and feeling unanchored.  Fast Eddie and JannyLou have returned from Colorado with laundry and errands and chores galore. Amster is gearing up for two trials, back to back, as her boys adjust to Middle School.

I am in the middle of it all, watching and wondering and unable to help anyone with anything.

My life goes on, basically unchanged.  My new session of Humanities Seminars doesn't begin for several weeks.  Until then, there is nothing new for me.  This, more than anything, connects me to the passage of time.  There is no reason to buy new pens and pencils and notebooks.  There is no rearranging of activities.  There is just more of the same old same old.... and I'm stuck.

It's August.  I should be on the beach, toes in the sand, waves lolling me to sleep, sun on my back, iced tea in a cooler under an umbrella beside my extra large Lake Tahoe beach towel.  Or, I should be on vacation, my family in tow, the trunk filled with suitcases and snacks and games, me, in the front seat, reading Roald Dahl aloud.  How far is it from Marin to San Diego?  Exactly as long as it takes to read The Twits.

Those are the memories I have of August.  This whole notion of school starting mid-month (and the wrong month, at that) is disconcerting.  I should be taking a long walk, feeling the heat and the sluggishness of the end of summer.  Instead, everyone is racing around, trying to get where they are going before it's too late.

Isn't it too hot for that?

There's a sense that the political season is heating up; Hillary's emails combined with Bannon's Breitbart sensibilities make that a certainty.  But Congress is still on vacation (Did you notice?  Why would you?  It's not like they've done anything when they've been in session on Capitol Hill.) and our Arizona primary is still a week away.  The general election is becoming a more terrifying spectre, and September is still a page away on the calendar.

And here I sit, betwixt and between, wondering what the end of the year will bring, while marveling at the speed with which this summer has gone by.

The days are long, but the years are short.   That's never felt truer than right now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

41 Years Ago Today

Today, as I'm writing this, I'm remembering sitting around the pool at a lovely little motel just a mile or so from my parents' home with TBG and Daddooooo and Nannie and Grandpaw.  Daddooooo looked at the leaves on the trees.... looked at them turning over, showing their undersides.... looked at them predicting the rain that would fall all night lonog.... looking and not saying anything.

He didn't want to spoil my wedding day before the weather did.

Of course, my sister and my mother woke me at 6am to inform me that it had been raining, that it was raining, that it looked like it would never stop raining, and what was I going to do?  Go back to sleep came to mind.  The drama was more important than the facts.  What could I do?

TBG called at 7, wondering if I were still going to show up, even in the rain.  My oft repeated plan was to elope if the heavens opened, but that seemed like more trouble than it was worth, especially that early in the morning.  Sure, I said, and, having inspected the not-as-well-protected-from-the-rain-as-I'd-hoped-it-would-be grass under the yellow and white striped tent covering the back yard, I did, in fact, go back to sleep.

Then I woke up, got dressed by myself because my maid of honor had vanished, and decided I was hungry.  And so, while the guests arrived and the rain became a drizzle became a sauna, I stood in my mother's kitchen, snarfing down little hot dogs wrapped in dough - pigs in a blanket, a staple at Jewish weddings, and yes, that makes it a weird name - as the caterers made sure I didn't drip mustard on my dress.

I remember G'ma being appalled.

School schedules and Bar Exams and new job start dates and finances and preferences precluded anything but a late August, totally humid (even if it hadn't rained all night), Sunday afternoon. G'ma made sure that the high school band cancelled their weekly practice on the field across the street.  She found a rabbi to marry us, and the two of us, non-sectarian at best, knew that if we lived on Long Island we'd have joined his congregation.  How could we resist a guy who showed up late because his tennis match ran late?

Friends hitchhiked all night, bringing uninvited but welcomed guests.  They were tired, but they were

Cousins grown to young adulthood without my noticing, one grandmother snarling but present, my Bubba grabbing my hand as I walked back down the aisle, my drunken sister dancing while sleeping on the shoulder of a guy she should have married.... I hold these memories front and center in my brain.

Some sent telegrams - yes, actual yellow paper telegrams - expressing regrets that they were unable to share our day.  There were two birthdays on the 25th which we celebrated with smaller cakes beside the whipped cream (not butter creme) filled three tiered yellow cake with fresh strawberries garnishing it everywhere.  There was a one-man-band, with a keyboard and assorted bells and whistles but at least it wasn't an accordion player (yes, denizens, G'ma and I went to the mat on that one, believe you me......).

By the time we left, in a car decorated with cans (until the end of the street when TBG had had enough clatter to last a lifetime), the world's prettiest wedding dress sported a dark and muddy hem, impervious to dry cleaning techniques known at the time. After hours of partying on that wet grass, TBG had perspired through his suit coat and his tie. Poor guy,  his only request had been that we not get married outside in the heat of the summer.

That was the first of many I can't believe I agreed to this moments.  Over 4 decades (oh, dear God, 40 plus years!) there have been many of those moments.

I'm looking forward to 40 more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This is the restaurant, next to the pet groomers, in the shopping center across from my gym.
It's 1.4 miles from my front door; an easy bike ride when I was so inclined.
Once, my chain fell off as I was climbing the long hill up to that corner.
I pushed my bike into OVB and they reattached it with a smile and no charge.
I had my first Tucson mammogram and Dexa scan in the suite of offices to the right of the Dance Studio.  An old Cali friend's high school friend owns the Family Swim School next door.  I checked it out when Little Cuter was pregnant with FlapJilly.  It's overrun with munchkins in diapers and bikinis and their frazzled parental units.  It's a smile on steroids. 
I'm not sure how Short Term Parking works for an event space,
but Stargaze seems to think it works for them.  The rest of the parking lot is huge and usually empty; I suppose they considered that when installing the sign.
And then there's this business, with the strangest name I've ever seen.
Is it imaginary fitness? 
I feel, therefore I am fit?
From the advertising, I think they try to combine body and soul while sweating... but I'm not sure. 
Why have I given you a tour of this shopping center?
While reading the Saturday paper I came across an article describing a rotating cadre of women being transported to a brothel posing as a massage parlor.  The women stayed for three weeks, then were replaced by new sex workers.  Police officers were indicted in the probe.  
The name sounded familiar.... and then I realized why.
There it is, right next to my cobbler.
I remember wondering if I should try it when I brought a pair of flats to be resoled.
I never did.

They, too, have a short term parking sign in front of their establishment.
Make of that what you will; I'm not going there this morning.

Did I mention that this shopping center is separated by an alley from the Sheriff's Department?

I wonder what else is hiding in plain sight in my neighborhood?

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Kids Are Moving....

and I'm not there to help.

I packed no boxes.  I taped nothing closed.  I held no fragile objects as bubble wrap surrounded them.

I did nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I made sure that the plastic container with the clothes I leave at their house held everything I'd left behind, but I didn't do anything more than push it back into the closet when I was done.

Okay, I'll give myself some credit - I took our toiletries out of the bathroom and placed them in the sealed plastic container, leaving one less set of drawers for them to empty.  It doesn't seem like much, does it?

SIR is a master packer, and my efforts would, no doubt, have required supervision and a great deal of angst on his part.  He's much neater than I am; last year's Christmas presents sat in their beautiful white Crate and Barrel shipping box so that he could admire the precision with which I had placed the gifts.  He was amazed... wondered that I, the Queen of Disarray, could have created such perfection.  I smiled and told him that I thought of him as I did it; the packing was as much a part of his gift as the Nike ID sneakers.

So, I am not surprised that I wasn't asked to pack.  TBG and I were on FlapJilly duty when the moving first began, and our wonderful children assured us that hugging the world's most wonderful grandchild was help enough.  I was okay with that.

But now, the truck is packed and unloaded and their stuff is in storage and on portable clothes racks in SIR's ancestral manse, and I have no role at all.  I can't help them find child care.  I can't get FlapJilly a library card.  I can't fill their refrigerator with Parmesan Reggiano and thick sliced bacon because they don't have access to their new house for a month or so and  there is nothing I can do but type to you and whine.

My role seems to be sending FlapJilly Minnie Mouse clothes and striped organically grown cotton pj's and saying YES! when she points to my daughter's phone and asks to Facetime with me.

"G'ammma?  Hi, G'ammma!" 

She babbles along as she eats her dinner and TBG and I babble back.  Little Cuter smiles.  I guess, if this is all she need from me right now, I might as well just sit back and enjoy it.


Friday, August 19, 2016


I have to break my promise.  I can't do what I said I was going to do.  My goals must be reset.  I'm having a hard time with it all.

7 weeks ago, playing basketball with Mr. 11, I was coerced onto the basketball court.  It's hard to stay on the sidelines when the world's most adorable middle schooler is importuning from the free throw line.  Please..... Please.... Oh, PLEASE..... I couldn't resist him.

Passing was fine, but then he wanted me to teach him to take a charge.  This involved swinging my butt into his belly.... and swinging my lower half is not something I've done a lot of in the past 5 years.  Needless to say, I swung, he took the charge and slid across the court, and my knee, swollen and achy, reminded me every day following that my bball days are long gone.

I've rested.  I've iced. I've compressed. I've elevated.   I took a week off from everything.  I've been very very very careful in the gym and at Pilates and in life.  I'm better, but it still tingles.  It swells up (in various places) after I use it... and I use it all the time.  

I spoke to the nurse (after PT's and other pros have examined and flexed and manipulated me) and she says that I am healing as I should, that I should continue doing what I'm doing, and that eventually, over time, if I'm smart,  I should be fine. 

 Her final words?  Just don't do anything extreme.

We agreed that climbing (or preparing to climb) the Sears Tower is extreme.  She told me I was crazy to do it.

Since I have no interest in giving back any of the gains I've made on my perforated (right) side, since favoring my newly damaged left knee has put torque on places that were previously un-torqued before (creating new and interesting gait patterns), since my knee talks to me in unpleasant tones every time I take a step, and since the nurse told me that I was crazy (which we all knew, anyway)..... I can't do the climb.......

..... this year.

I am beyond bummed.  I am embarrassed.  I don't want anyone to think I am wimping out... but I am. In the past, I've taken advice from professionals with a grain of salt; I try to find congruence between what I am told and what I feel and what My Body tells me.  My Body... capitalized because that's the important lesson here.  My Body has a mind of its own.  I may need a new defining moment, but my need doesn't necessarily translate into My Body's compliance.  It's on its own trajectory.  I may be able to push and prod around the margins, but it will heal when it heals, the nerves will connect when they connect, the swelling will go down.... eventually.... if I take good care of my self and don't do anything extreme.

My Body and I are going to have some long conversations over the next few months.  I'll do my part, with the ice and all the rest, I'll continue to strengthen the areas around the injuries so that the damaged pieces aren't over-taxed, but I'm going to expect a similar effort from My Body.

I'm going to take an epsom salt bath and begin the conversation.  

2017's SkyRise is only 14 months away.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hell in a Handbasket

The Conservative talking head listed the NSA hack, Aetna pulling out of health care exchanges, and something else monumental and potentially lethal to Hillary Clinton, all of which have been lost in the uproar over Donald Trump's new campaign staff.  A pollster and a media mogul with a Goldman Sachs heritage folded over his naval career will be running things from now on, if anyone can be said to be running things on the Trump side of the campaign.

All this because The Donald has "been very unhappy over the past few weeks," according to MSNBC.  Everyone wants him to change.  Everyone wants him to be someone he is not.  Everyone wants to find depths in the shallows, sincerity in the sophistry, calm amidst the storm.  Everyone keeps trying, but The Donald knows in his heart what they do not - that he is who he is.

Looking for that which does not exist is quixotic, by definition.  In that sense, Trump is saner than the Republicans who want him to represent them and their Party in a manner that is somewhat more respectable than the behavior their chosen candidate has displayed thus far.  They want him to be someone he is not.

The man can read from a teleprompter.  He doesn't do it with much enthusiasm, but he can accomplish the task.  That made Republican fundraisers happy; two weeks ago they asked for donations based on the fact that their candidate didn't make a single faux pas while reading aloud.  I watched that speech; he seemed to be seeing the words for the first time.  There was no bombast, no declarative cadence, no head shaking or finger pointing.  It was boring.  The audience was as numbed as I was.

Boring is not something that Mr. Trump does well.  He has a finely tuned sense of the audience, and knows when dropping a Crooked Hillary bomb will fire them up.  But speechwriters don't put those kinds of incendiary devices in carefully crafted public policy tracts.  Those are filled with facts and nuance and compare-and-contrast statements that don't involve name calling.  Those are not areas of comfort for The Donald.

And so, as his daughter vacations with Vladimir Putin's girlfriend, as his son is on a (big game hunting?) vacation, Trump shoved the RNC's Paul Manafort aside.  Manafort's problems have been all over the news.... overshadowing The Donald.... and that, I fear, more than the substance of the accusations being hurled at Manafort, is why he made the move.

He wants to be who he is.  "I don't want to change" might be acceptable from a 4 year old, but "I don't want to pivot," isn't designed to bring comfort to the hearts of those who would like to see a Republican in the White House next January.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and the news is filled with the rantings of a man who's in over his head and can't figure out an exit strategy.  If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.

Somehow, though, I'm not laughing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Problem With James Patterson

is that his books are impossible to put down.  I started Bullseye this morning and finished it this evening, after Pilates and hosting the Happy Ladies Club for cards and eating a meal or three along the way.

Now, the heavens have exploded and the cable's gone out twice as lightning wreaks havoc with signals electronic and fiber optic.

I've been absorbed in a plot involving a political assassination, Vladimir Putin, and a walking tour of New York City.  Maybe that's why I lost all four hands this afternoon... and lost is a kind description of the drubbing I took.  My mind was with Michael Bennett and the various snipers dying by his side.

I'm sorry.  I have no thoughts other than wondering if I should take my camera outside and try to capture the lightning.  It was vertical and flashing on JannyLou's new driveway when I began to type and now it's right over our roof.  I'll be back tomorrow, with more than weather related drivel to consider.  


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