Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Debate Blather - Random Thoughts

I have anecdotal evidence that the debate influenced at least one voter. Princess Myrtle reports an acquaintance shifting from Trump to Clinton, after watching Donald (if Hillary can call him that then so can I) last night.

At least someone was paying attention.
At cards today, a Happy Lady remarked that Hillary left the Cabinet because she was ill.  She said it with certainty, the way you'd talk about the weather.  When confronted with the notion that the Secretary of State left because it was time for her to run for President, when we wondered about the nature of the supposed illness, when we asked where she'd heard about it, she was stunned.

It had never occurred to her that this was not a fact.  She likes us and she trusts us so she didn't dismiss us out of hand.  Instead, she listened and saw the merit of our argument.  She's already disgusted with Donald, but she feels a lot better about Hillary right now.
This is a change election.

I heard it so often last night and this morning and this afternoon that I began to wonder:  were there crib sheets handed out by the media gods?

And anyway, doesn't every challenger run on change?

Hillary's as close to an incumbent as we have in this election and I need her to make my point.

Donald said she'd been fighting ISIS all her adult life, that she'd been making policy for 30 years.  She's got experience, I agree.  But it's bad ... bad experience.

He saw no problem in blaming her for everything.  Why not?

And the media is calling it a change election, feeding into the narrative.
I've been enjoying Sniffgate.

I especially like the fact that Donald says he wasn't sniffling at all.  It's impressive, watching someone lie about a viewable fact.
Poor Chris Christie.

Not only did he have the unenviable job of spinning Donald's performance last night, today a former aide described, in court, the Governor laughing about the traffic on the George Washington Bridge.  As if that weren't enough, there's a clip of Donald brushing off Governor Chrisite's role in the Bridgegate scandal this way: Of course he knew about it.

Poor Chris Christie.
My favorite part was Donald interrupting Hillary.

I love the fact that Lester Holt let him be Donald, making no effort to rein him in.  Instead, he allowed Donald to demonstrate that he is that guy who talks over you, who smirks at you, who makes it about himself and his version of reality... that guy who's in every workspace... who knows that he's better and bigger and cannier than you are....

I can't imagine that was lost on those white, suburban women who are or were in the workplace.  It's happened to every one of us.
Does anybody else find it unusual that you can't get a casino license in New Jersey without making your tax returns public but you can try to get elected to the Presidency without sharing the same information?

I want everyone to know where the Donald's debts lie.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Finding Happiness

It's right there next to love and hope, according to my Humanities Seminar's professor, Dr. Albrecht Classen.

Humans, he said, "destroy ourselves and keep on going.  Why?  The human spirit!"

That's love and hope and happiness all rolled up into one lovely package, tied with a ribbon of all of us.  "We are looking for light."

It was cold and drizzling this morning.  Monday during the school year brings out many more cars than Thursdays in the summertime; my commute to class took the same amount of time, but there were many more idiots annoying me.  The parking lot was filled, not just the prime spaces, but the ones in the middle of the middle, too. The wind at my back hurried me across the street just a little bit faster than I'd anticipated.

But, I had hope.  I was on my way to a favorite professor talking about interesting works I'd never have found, let alone read, on my own.  There were fourteen chairs arranged in a semi-circle around the podium; it was going to be a seminar and not a lecture class and I was thrilled.  There were old friends and new friends and strangers still to meet and greet, but at our break a new friend and I spent much so much time talking about love and happiness and hope and survival that the rest of them started without us.

Happiness, creeping around the edges of a gloomy day.

Have you ever thought about the 7 Deadly Sins as spokes on the wheel of life?

Do you agree with Gerhardt the Good that you can only do good if you are not looking for praise - from God or man?

Do you enjoy the History of Mentality or are you more interested in the History of Emotions?

I'm happily hoping that I'm going to love the rest of questions he asks this semester.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Club No One Wants to Join

At dinner last week,  Fast Eddie's response to TBG's "How are your symptoms?" elicited a delighted belly laugh and a big, big smile.

"Once the doctor told me I was cancer free, I was so happy that nothing really bothered me for a long time.  Oh, this hurts or that's awkward?  So what!  I am cancer free!"

JannyLou and I exchanged a loving, knowing look.  We'd had that conversation many times; talking about life with a reverence and respect that, perhaps, was somewhat lacking before we both didn't die.

We looked at her husband as I talked and she nodded.

 "Isn't this just the best place to be?  You've faced it, you're okay, and it's not as scary as it used to be. Every day is a good day, right? "

He stopped.  All four of us took a moment.  And then we smiled, bright, beaming, up to the eyebrows smiles as the reality sunk in.  The sun came up and we were here to see it.  By definition, that's a good day.  Anything else is whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top of that fact.  It's liberating.

Unfortunately, the initiation process is pretty rough.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Quiet Day

The air smells of creosote, after 10 minutes of sunshine and heavy rain.

The roses are in full Fall bloom, surprising me as they have every year with these bonus flowers. Though smaller than their counterparts in the Spring, they are unexpected and, somehow, more precious.

I have Ann Patchett's new book awaiting me, and a tub slowly filling with epsom salts in which I can recline and read.

I have nothing more to add to the world today.

The sun came up and I was here to see it; by definition, it's a good day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Anniversary, Little Cuter and SIR

It's all about the love. It has been since the first time I saw them together, in Little Cuter's dorm room, at the end of her freshman hear. . She'd packed up most of her stuff, but there were stray bobby pins and scrunchies and papers lying on the floor, ready to be picked up and stowed away. SIR stood in the middle of the room, holding 5 suitcases, patiently smiling at my girl as she scurried abound, picking up the detritus of her first year away from home.  

You probably want to put those down,” I said. “This could take a while.”

I know. And it's okay,” he said, gazing at my girl the way a mommy wants a young man to gaze at her daughter. He was easy, glad to be in her aura, not at all put upon by the fact that she wasn't ready to leave. He was there because he wanted to be.

His sister invited Little Cuter to Indiana the next year, to join in her wedding festivities. “Mom,” she laughed as she called me from the Ladies' Room, “everyone says the same thing: Oh, you're Little Cuter! How do they know who I am?” The answer was simple – she was the girl he was going to marry, only neither of them knew it right then.

He followed her to Chicago and she followed him to Indiana and twelve years after I first saw them together very little has changed. They are still a team, working things out together so that the solution fits them both. There is mutual respect and understanding of the other's foibles. She needs her sleep. He needs to putter. They both need one another.

They fill each others' holes, stepping in when needed and stepping back when that's required. They giggle and they care and they love.... oh, do they love.

Today is their anniversary. Take a moment and revel in the fact that, in one little corner of our globe, two people are very very happy right now.

(edited to reflect the true number of years ... see comments below)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

He Drove My Car.....

He rearranged the mirrors and the position of the driver's seat.  He reorganized the air vents and reset the thermostat on the air conditioner.  I didn't have a problem with any of that.

He pushed the green ECON button and The Uv moved sprightly down the road as he chauffeured Fast Eddie and JannyLou and me to dinner.  

Did we lock the car?  He says he asked me why I didn't do it from the remote key.  I remember telling him that I'd pushed the button on the door.

After a lovely dinner and scintillating conversation, we returned to the parking lot to find the Uv's lights blazing into the night.  I leave the selection wand on AUTO; the lights come on when it's necessary and turn off with the engine.  I was confused.  I walked on ahead, sat behind the wheel, and realized that the accessories were all running, the car was "on" and the battery was dead.

Hmmmmmm..... did I mention that he drove my car?

We called AAA, returned to the restaurant for a while-we-wait beer, and met the kind technician 23 minutes later.  He jumped the battery, we drove home, but the mystery remained unsolved.  TBG is not the kind of person who forgets to turn off the car.  In fact, he made that point several times on the ride home, at one point describing his actions in stentorian tones
I double pushed it and got out of the car.
Double pushed it? Yes, because that's how he turns off his BMW.  My little Honda, so much less refined, needs but one tap to shut itself off.  Once it's off, one light tap turns on the accessories.  So, a double tap turns it off and then half-way on.... just enough to drain the battery and offer Fast Eddie the opportunity to try another craft beer as we waited for help.

Because she knew that I'd be devastated if she didn't, The Uv started right up when I bounded out of bed with plenty of time to deal with AAA again if she had disappointed me.  Nope, my girl was right there for me, not angry one little bit that I'd let him drive my car.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Angels in America - Millenium Approaches in Tucson

Scarlett and I sat for more than three hours this weekend.  With two intermissions and three acts which built upon one another until the whole thing came toppling down... or rising up... or burst into a zillion crisis pieces... the performance ended with a gasp from the audience and then.... silence.

Absolute silence preceded thunderous applause.  Though the applause must have been gratifying for the cast and crew, the silence was more telling... and spoke louder than the clapping of our hands. Matthew Bowdren's directorial debut left us stunned, speechless, moved, hollowed out, and aching for more.

Loss and abandonment, denial and greed and the consequences of living a lie.... The Rogue Theater's subject matter never leaves us laughing. We are thoughtful, introspective, wrung out, and shaky; our smiles are for the excellence of the production and do not reflect the angst we've experienced from our seats.  Someone must have written a worthwhile comedy, don't you think?

A quick survey of those sitting around us revealed that none of us had seen the play before.  Since we were all of a certain age, the play's setting was all too familiar to us.  1985 - Ronald Reagan and AIDS and the elevation of greed to an art form - was very real to us.  Big Cuter saw the play as history; we remembered the reality and saw no reason to subject ourselves to a retelling.... until now.

There were teary, older, gay men leaving the show.  I spent the afternoon thinking of my social work colleague, the third person in Chicago to die of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.... AIDS before it had a catchy moniker.  He kept telling  us that he was dying; we kept telling him that he was too young to be so depressed.  And then, he died.  Watching Magic Johnson these days it's easy to forget that, before dollars were spent on research, the virus ran unchecked through the gay community, and it was a death sentence.  Tony Kushner's words brought it all back, in a rush.

I don't know if I'd have ventured to see it someplace else, as a stand alone piece.  Those around me echoed the sentiment.  It was the first play in the 2016-17 season; we all had season tickets so we swallowed our reservations and took our seats.  Scarlett wanted to leave after the first act; it was painful.  The second act was intense, the third necessary to see what happened, and now she's sad because she'll be out of town in early October when they do a reading of Perestroika, the second and final part.

The passage of time hasn't dimmed the horror.  And that, I think, is a good thing.  It's good to be reminded that sometimes the government has to get over its reluctance to step into a messy situation and must act to save the vulnerable among us.  It's good to be reminded that politics has always had an inherently unsavory side.  It's good to see the consequences of hiding in plain sight, of self-castigation, of longing and of loss.  It's not easy, but it's necessary.

That, I think, might be a definition of art.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Yarn Bombing

YarnBomber is coming to Tucson. Stephen Duneier, the YarnBomber, is a true polymath.  This, from his website, is what he does when he's not covering the mountains around Santa Barbara with yarn:
He teaches Decision Analysis and Behavioral Investing in the College of Engineering at the University of California, publishes independent research, coaches the world's most experienced and successful institutional investors through Bija Advisors, and give talks around the world on macroeconomic related topics, as well as how to improve performance through a more mindful approach to decision making. He also does a special motivational talk just for K-12 students entitled, "Bija: Seeds of Dreams"
All that, and he had time on Saturday night to Skype with Tucsonans at TedX's gathering of collaborative fiber artists... part of the Dreamer creative team.... even if we didn't know we were worthy of such a designation until he told us so.

He's coming to Tucson, to cover parts of downtown and the University with alien campsites.

He took his inspiration from John Lennon's Imagine:
There is something magical about people of all ethnicities, colors, races, and religions, wealthy and poor alike, joining together from every corner of the map for a collective experience of pure whimsy. In moments like that, you realize, you’re not the only dreamer after all.
Is it any wonder the project inspired me?

6pm found me driving the Uv to The Rail Yard, a repurposed collaborative workspace, where TedX has a desk and some files, courtesy of a lovely landlord.  This is the scene when you walk through the warehouse-like roll up metal door.
Behind the couch is the great outdoors.
We could see the fireworks (which I mistook for a shooting star) over the UofA Football Stadium without doing more than turning our heads.  The breeze was gentle, the moon was nearly full, and the company was extraordinary.  

This is Miss Mary, leader of TedX Tucson, who is organizing the event. She was perforated when I was, back in 2011.  It's no wonder that the installation will go live on January 7th... our weekend.
There were nametags
and there was food
and there was yarn 
donated and brought by participants
and there were knitters in all poses

Some were new to the craft, some of us were crocheting, and Miss Mary kept busy making sure that we were all fed and hydrated and admiring the work which had already been donated.

Yes, she asked me to pose with the alien beastie and the projects she's already collected and, of course, I was up for anything.  

If you want to participate, there will be another gathering in a few weeks. 
The artist will be there.
So will I.

Friday, September 16, 2016

End Robo Calls Forever

No, it's not an interwebs meme.  It's a used by yours truly, totally free, delightfully easy way to end those calls from Nancy-at-Customer-Service-There-is-nothing-wrong-with-your-account-I-want-to-sell-you.

Never again.

I don't know if it works on cell phones (it looks like there might be a charge, but I didn't investigate any further), but I'm guessing that many denizens still have a land line.

When you can answer your land line, go to

It takes less than 5 minutes.  Your phone will ring once.

And then, whenever a telemarketer, a Medicare Specialist, an IRS scammer or any other robocaller tries to disturb you, you'll hear one ring, and then silence.  And the absence of that second ring is quite satisfying.

You can thank me in Comments.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My America

Cards with the Happy Ladies Club.  It's Hand and Foot, a variation of Canasta that requires some but not total concentration.  With six decks in the draw pile, counting cards becomes an exercise in frustration.  So, we chat and we prompt one another when it's her turn, or when she's forgotten to discard, and then we go back to chatting.

If there are two tables, the conversation can often be loud  If there are six at one table, the game lasts forever.  It doesn't matter.  There are no toads in this group, there's no one I consciously avoid sitting beside, we all have our strengths and weaknesses but we're basically a congenial crowd.

And so, when Colin Kaepernick's kneeling during the National Anthem came up in conversation, there was no cause for alarm.  The Mainer was appalled, insulted on behalf of the military, thought it was a terrible idea.  I smiled and said I totally disagreed with her, that I thought it was a meaningful gesture that had far-reaching consequences and yes, he certainly could have held a press conference to express his views, but we probably wouldn't have been talking about it if he had.

The fact of our having the conversation, 60-something ladies in the desert Southwest talking about race and Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter and of course all lives matter but that's not the issue.  The issue is The Conversation - be respectful, hands in plain sight, say Sir, don't run - that parents of young black men have every time their sons leave the house.

That we were talking about it, parsing the details, worrying about where America was headed - that is my America.

And then, someone mentioned that she was still undecided about her vote in November. It wasn't all that awkward to ask her why.  She doesn't like either of them.  She doesn't trust Hillary; "She lied about Benghazi."  Republican sponsored Congressional Hearings found no facts, but she remained convinced that something was there that had not been found.  What turned her around was the reminder that that same investigating Republican Congress also refused to allocate the funds necessary to defend all our embassies adequately.  Mrs. Clinton couldn't have done it, even if she had wanted to do it.

She acknowledged Trump's basket of deplorable ideas, but thought maybe a change might be good for the country.  We worried that issue to death as we shuffled the cards for the last hand.  We were still smiling, still friends, still disagreeing but listening and thinking and, I hope, at least one of us was rearranging her future plans.

This is what I love about Tucson, and what I hold and have always held as my ideal of America.  The right to agree to disagree without the loss of status or freedom makes this the best country in the world... or as close to it as can be.  It was on full display at cards on Tuesday afternoon.


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