Thursday, February 23, 2017

Just a Little Teary - A Snippet

FlapJilly is being promoted.

She's leaving the world of The Two's and crossing the parking lot to The Three's.  Her first friend at school moved over a month or so ago, so she'll have a familiar face in unfamiliar surroundings.  The play equipment is bigger and more challenging and the curriculum is less pre and more school.  She's ready for the challenge, and her parents couldn't be more proud.

And then Little Cuter and I exchanged the glance that said it all:
OH, Where has my baby gone?  
It's a mixture of joy and yearning and overwhelming heart exploding love.... and it left us both just a little bit teary.  She's such a big girl now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Misrepresentation of Fact

This is the only one I could find.
Yesterday, I waxed eloquently about the items I retained from the kids' childhood.
I said that I had kept Little Cuter's trolls.
I did not.

Although I could swear that I saw them in a box, with the striped jacket Kathy-The-Babysitter made for one of them, when I went to pack them into a box for FlapJilly today they were not there.

Now, did I lie?
No, because in my heart I truly believed what I was saying.  
Was I truthful?
I thought that I was, but apparently I was not..

Is this an alternative fact?
No, because I know, now, that it is not a fact.
It is a figment of my imagination.

Is it a misrepresentation of fact?
Probably, although that was not my intention.

The difference is that I am acknowledging the error and accepting the opprobrium which is rightly due me for writing that which is not true.  I'm not trying to create a phrase to cover my mistake. 

Please, accept my apology.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Do You Still Have My Trolls?"

After a tough morning at the pediatrician, replete with a flu shot that really hurt a lot, FlapJilly and Little Cuter plan to retire to the couch this evening. Apparently, trolls have made a comeback, on the big screen and in toy stores. They are streaming on home tv's nationwide, including that of my little girls.

I missed this development entirely.  It's only because I've been organizing our storage that I knew the answer to her question.

I saved everything.

I have cardboard boxes of various shapes and sizes, labeled with memories of The Cuters' childhood - Construx, Leggo, Brio, Dinosaurs, Playmobil.  I have boxes and bookshelves filled with the literature of their youth - Ramona and Black Beauty and Christopher Robin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next generation to listen to them as read-alouds.  I have Little Cuter's small glass animals and her pog book and yes, I have her trolls.

There is much to be shed when one moves, whether up-sizing or down-sizing.  Too small and too big everything, broken anything, that which has not been touched since last I moved.... gone.  The Cuters' elementary school artwork was a lot harder to leave behind, but, over time, I've whittled it down to the most interesting or useful pieces.  I've never found a doorstop I love more than the one Big Cuter created after what must have been a most interesting nightmare.  I use Little Cuter's ceramics class sushi plate as the soap dish next to my bathroom sink.  The Bride and Big Cuter created a finger painting when they were 3 years old; it has adorned every garage wall since then.

Going through collections and books and mementos was more difficult.  Candles were used rather than stored.  Tests were tossed, reports were read and removed.... well, you get the idea.  They are big kids now; I'm keeping only that which means something to me, or which my grandchildren will enjoy.

Hence, the trolls.

I hoped that she would bring the kid here to play with them, and she did say that I could bring them and give them to her myself, but I can't wait to see her face when she opens the box so I'm bringing them to the post office in the morning.

Yes, I still have your trolls, and the clothes your babysitter made for them, and though I'll send the objects your way, those memories will always be nestled close to my heart.

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Want a Doughnut?"

There were a dozen of them on the counter.  TBG bought them, in part, because the original plan for the day included Mr 11 and 13 and the lifting of heavy boxes in our garage. He thought they'd like the treat after their work was done.

But it was cold and rainy and none of us wanted to be in the garage so I took the boys home and returned to a white cardboard box filled with that-which-I-cannot-resist.

Glazed.... powdered sugar.... cinnamon dusted... cake or air puffed up nearly three inches high... doughnuts are my nemesis.  Like Ado Annie, I'm just a girl who cain't say no.

He's done this before, brought irresistible treasures like these into my house.  Yes, my house.... my kitchen.... because the smell of them permeates every room and I have no where to hide.  This time, I decided to take matters into my own hands - I ate one as soon as I saw them.

It was perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  

Unfortunately, there were 5 more just like it, sitting there in all their sugary splendor.  I forced myself to flee the scene.  I was safe, for the moment, at least.  But all afternoon, as I wrote postcards and unpacked groceries and made dinner and got fresh bottles of Perrier they stared at me.  Through the cardboard carrier, I could feel them calling me.

And so, this afternoon, when he got up with Want a doughnut? from beside me, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  

 Yes, yes, oh yes I want not one but a dozen doughnuts.......

Friday, February 17, 2017


"I'm not ranting and raving... you're just dishonest people."

There's a Russian intelligence ship 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut and the President's (fired) choice for Director of National Security lied to the FBI and nobody seems to be minding the store.

Peter Alexander wondered what to do when the President, after reviling the media for presenting Fake News, presents as fact that which is demonstrably untrue.  "The leaks are absolutely real.  The news is fake because so much of the news is fake," may make sense to the Commander In Chief (pause... catch your breath.... I know.... I know...) but it wasn't much help to anyone else.

Alexander Acosta, nominee for Labor Secretary, wasn't at the press conference ostensibly called to announce his selection.  MSNBC's Kasie Hunt couldn't get a Republican member of Congress to admit to having watched the press conference, let alone appear on camera.

For fifteen minutes, the news was all about the press conference, until another in the series of certainly-illegal-but-highly-entertaining leaks coming from the intelligence community or the White House or long-time civil servants or Obama staffers or aliens from one of the 60 new planets discovered by Kepler appeared.  At this point, the fact that Gen. Flynn lied to the FBI hardly seems to register on my bizzaro-meter.

I'm going to spend the next few hours mourning the loss of the Monopoly thimble.  It's only an existential loss; we've been playing with scavenged Parcheesi pieces for years and I see no reason to invest in a new version and this is exactly the antidote to the news that I need to get through the rest of the afternoon.

Remember how the judge on SNL wanted just one day without a terrifying news alert from Washington?  Right now, I'd give anything for a full hour without fear.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Deja Vu All Over Again

"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

I've been trying to hold it together, immersing myself in reading aloud to kindergarten kids,  but I've had enough.  The New York Times is not fake news.

You can argue if Flynn was a rogue actor or if the President has any idea what a two-state solution actually means or if Jeff Sessions can possibly oversee an impartial inquiry but one thing I cannot countenance is calling The New York Times fake news.

"Don't do anything you wouldn't want printed on the front page of The New York Times" was Daddooooo's mantra.  When The New York Times ran a bold headline that fact was reported by other outlets.  Having your wedding or death reported there in anything other than a paid advertisement signified something.... I'm not sure what, but it was something.  A friend counts their publication of his Letter to the Editor as a milestone achievement in an otherwise quite successful life.

Everyone makes mistakes and there have been errors and there is certainly a bias but please, Mr. President, do not call The New York Times fake news.  You grew up in New York; you should know this in your bones.  As a 6th grader on Long Island, my Uncle Abby explained "yellow journalism" to me by reading the New York Daily News and the New York Post aloud. They were not The New York Times.

Besides, while we're obsessing over who's running the asylum, the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  I wish I felt confident that someone was actually in charge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentines at Amphi Middle School

It started out neatly, on 4 cafeteria tabletops.
That didn't last long.

There was happiness.

and there was seriousness

and there was silliness.

They worked alone.
or together

and some shared a bench
and inspiration
There was candy
and there was love
(please note the foam press on earrings)
and there were lots 
and lots
of balloons.
As I was leaving, I stopped to hug Miss Levine and to admire this last heart of the day.
Happy Day After Valentines Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


The substitute teacher for the kindergarten class cancelled her scheduled appearance 15 minutes before the school's corridors opened for the morning. The substitute substitute could come right away, but she had to leave at 11. The students, all of whom showed up on time, had to be divided between the remaining teachers after lunch recess.

Chaos is troubling for many of these kids.  School is the rule driven place, where expectations are made clear.  It's safe.  They know what will happen and when.  Disrupt the routine, and expect a reaction.

An unfamiliar sub is hard enough when you're 5 or 6. When outside you are bigger and taller than everyone else but inside you are a lot more scared than everyone else, when the new morning teacher doesn't come back so your whole class is scattered into strange rooms, when you find out that it's going to last for the whole rest of the day..... well, it's all just too much.

And so he stood there, sobbing as quietly and unobtrusively as the biggest kid in the line could sob, and I watched as three then four then five littler boys put their arms around him and told him that it would be okay... and that their room was really, really nice … but mostly they just hugged him.  

I drifted over, being Grandma, making sure everything was okay, and I found myself in the outer circle of a huge hug, all of us concentrating on the least among us.... no matter how big... in a Horton kind of way.

He caught his breath and the tears stopped and I told them how proud I was of boys taking care of boys who, themselves, were brave enough to ask for help. We hugged and patted some more; as I peeled away, one of the littlest ones followed me. 

His small tug on my cloak and his very serious face stopped me.  Once certain that he had my total attention, he reported the following fact:
"Grandma, we were doing one of our things - we were doing kind."

Love shows its face and it's impossible not to smile.  

Happy Valentines Day to the grown-ups at Prince Elementary School,
who teach and model kind each and every day. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Abe Wasn't Born Yesterday

I first published this in 2011. 
 It remains one of my favorite rants, although now, with fake news all the rage, it feels just a little bit creepy to celebrate things which didn't happen.
Mary Ball Washington gave birth to a boy child on February 22, 1732. Unlike many of the stories surrounding this man (think cherry trees and coins across the Potomac and standing up in an open boat as it crossed the Delaware) this is an indisputable fact.

Mary was not in labor on the third Monday of February.  She produced her child on a specific day - the 22nd day of February.  His birthday didn't move around with the vagaries of the federal holiday calendar.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln met her second son, Abraham, 207 years ago today.  Like Mrs. Washington before her, she was not in labor on an indeterminate day sometime in the middle of the month.  It occurred on a certain day, a day formerly commemorated by school children and mail carriers alike.

Alas and alack, these fine gentlemen have been conflated into Presidents and their birthdays combined into a generic celebration designed primarily to afford employees the opportunity for a 3-day weekend in the middle of the winter. What was wrong with the old system, I wonder?  As an elementary school kid I looked forward to those random days off in the middle of the month.  One day, breaking up the routine.  One celebration for each president - pennies examined on the 12th, leadership and lying (not) on the 22nd.

There was no time for a weekend away (not that G'ma and Daddooooo could have afforded to take us anyplace anyhow) and there was no competition between students for who went the furthest and had the most fun.  It was an opportunity to go sledding at Bethpage (the Black Course was used for many things in my youth; this was the best of them) or to meet friends at the bowling alley and then walk to Smiles (our precursor to a 5-and-dime) where we cruised the aisles until our parents picked us up.

It was grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon on the side, eaten on paper plates and accompanied by the admonition Don't Tell Daddy since the bacon was not exactly kosher and he cared a lot more than did G'ma.  There were snow forts to be built, snowball fights to be fought, snow men to be built. The entire neighborhood roamed from front yard to front yard, creating and tumbling and finding warmth and drinks and the occasional bathroom in whichever house we happened to be in front of when the need arose.

And now?  Now President's Day is always an event.  It's a long weekend for which plans must be made.  It has no intrinsic meaning, no relationship to George or Abe or any of their colleagues.  Their faces are used to advertise white sales and car sales and furniture sales and The History Channel runs back to back episodes of The Presidents but that's about the size of the historical component.  What began as tributes to great men has devolved into spending opportunities for the masses.

Am I bitter?  You bet.  A day off followed by another one 10 days later.... what better way to combat the winter doldrums than that?  A random day, a day to cuddle under the blankets with your sweetie or to do all that laundry that interfered with your weekend plans and so still sits in the basket, mocking you.  A day to explore the neighborhood and have lunch in that place you've driven by 100 times before..... a day just to be.

Sometimes, when I was a girl really was better.

Friday, February 10, 2017

And Now, A Break From Controversy

Big Cuter reports on the horizontal rain afflicting northern California.

Little Cuter complains that this winter has been lame, as, snow-less and frigid, she watches the East Coast dig out.

We are having unseasonably warm temperatures, here in the desert Southwest.  In honor of the sunshine and the light breeze and the hint of spring in the air, I wore shorts and began to refurbish my containers.

There was a lot of work to do. Last week I cut back all the obviously dead pieces from most of the containers, leaving only that which seemed likely to bloom.  
The results were appealing in a what will these flowers look like? sense, 
but they all need to be cut back and repotted. 
I bunched this snapdragon
 with two other survivors in one pot,
but the rest of them will have to wait while I cogitate. 

Some of the containers are still quite beautiful, even if the colors are a holiday or two behind.

We see this basket-on-a-post from our bedroom.
Geraniums have a peculiar odor, but these 
are viewed from afar. 
 I don't know how they'll do in summer's full sun, but right now, they are gorgeous.

This is a much nicer inner space than the political sphere and a much nicer outer space than either of my children enjoy.  Feel free to come back over the weekend if it all becomes too much.


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