Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Feeling Blessed

Bo and Luke Hazard, the Staffordshire Terriers who live with Mr's 11 and 13, were playing rough on Saturday night.  When Amster returned from dinner with the girls, her kitchen and dining room looked like a crime scene.  Blood was everywhere.  The dogs showed no puncture wounds, which led the vet to believe that it was teenage rough housing rather than fraternal terrorizing.  How to keep it from happening again remains a mystery.

Needless to say, my friend is upset.

Little Cuter has had a cold and a cough and a sinus infection and bronchitis for weeks.  Over the counter medications and prescription broad-spectrum antibiotics have minimized her discomfort but not eliminated the disease.  She's still coughing and sneezing and congested.  She hasn't had a full night's sleep in who knows how long.  Moving to a new town meant finding new doctors; it was one of the tasks she thought could wait.  Now, faced with a third trip to the Health Center for the same ailment, she's wondering what else she can do.

Her mother is more upset than she is.

SIR and his adult male relatives spent the weekend taking the roof off the new house in preparation for the arrival of the roofers between 8 and 9 this morning.  By 10, FlapJilly and her dad left their roofless manse so that she could get to pres-school and he could get to work.  The roofers were no where to be found.  Frantic phone calls to the realtor who'd recommended them and the company itself were fruitless.  The fact that it snowed last night and is supposed to rain tonight and my girl has no roof over her head just added to her stress.  Though there was material on the roof when SIR drove by after lunch, there was nary a worker to be seen.

Everyone is flummoxed and only the roofing contractor can alleviate the stress.

I spent my morning counting my blessings. TBG and I have finally vanquished the cold-from-hell.  It was cold enough outside to wear my cowboy boots with stars to class today. In class, the student-who-is-also-a-Rabbi gave the first cogent explanation of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac that I've ever heard. My lunch salad was filled with brown leaves of lettuce; the server noticed and took the charge off my bill.  I found parking spaces everywhere I went, and I found most of what I wanted at just one store.

And what was it that I wanted?  In addition to socks and more socks, I found something for which I've been searching for three decades.

Yes, The Uv has antlers and a bright red nose.

Not only that, the antlers have 7 led lights each.

As I look at the minor disasters besetting those I love and recognize that none of them are life threatening, all of them are manageable, I am inordinately happy.

And, on top of everything, my car has antlers.

No, it doesn't take much to make me smile these days. Not much at all.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Snippet - On Willful Ignorance

My favorite Facebook meme -
 In the interest of maintaining my sanity, I'm choosing to be uninformed.
I've steered away from the President-Elect because it's December and I can immerse myself in elfing. I try to avoid anything that will burst my Holiday Celebration Tour bubble, from toxic relatives to toxic soon-to-be-elected-officials. But just now, watching ABC's World News Tonight's opening headline reel, I was both informed and smiling.

Obviously, I came to The Burrow to share it with you.

The Army Corps of Engineers will deny the Dakota Pipeline a permit and maybe, just maybe, the Water Protectors can go home for the winter.   There's a terrible fire in an artist's warehouse in Oakland; families are desperate for contact as firefighters sift through the wreckage.  I forget what the third story was but then, the fourth story, was the President-Elect's Twitter Tirade (their headline, not mine) with this image behind the verbiage:
Not a photo of the President-Elect acting Presidential.
A photo of an actor acting Presidential-Elect.

I thought that not watching the inauguration was another boycott designed to do nothing, to make me feel good about doing something which would, ultimately have no effect at all, that it was Mr. Trump stealing my American experience from me.  But now, still feeling the buzz from the fact that a vetted, responsible, news source with editors, chose to use a clip from Saturday Night Live to represent the incoming President, I'm thinking that maybe they have a point.

The man tweeted.
He watches.
He cares.
I can't get to him any other way.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What Was THAT?

Sitting quietly on the couch, the tv humming with a TBG-approved sporting event, my eyes and my self  buried in a Tana French novel, there was peace and serenity.

CRASH!! TinkleTinkleTinkleTinkle.....

We were on our feet and frantic.  It doesn't take much to set off our PTSD, and loud, unexpected noises are triggers for both of us. Our heads were swiveling around, trying to locate the source in a house whose curves and angles and open floor plan distorts locations and flummoxes even the most efficient seeker of sound.

There was nothing on any of the kitchen counters; we'd cleared them and emptied the dishwasher and nothing was out of place.  Nothing could have fallen.  The cabinets were shut; nothing fell out of them.  Looking inside and on top failed us.  Then, we looked down.

The floor was scattered with shards of glass.  They were everywhere, but where did they originate?  The Thanksgiving decorations were neatly stacked in the niche; none had taken flight.  The kitchen table was bare and so was the island.  Then we looked up, because we realized, at the same time, that there was a dark spot in the breakfast nook.

A light bulb had exploded.

For no reason that we could discern, our Sylvania Long Nec 75W/130V/WFL item J788 had flipped its lid.  The entire glass shielding the bulb was strewn on our floors while the rest of the mechanism remained firmly ensconced in the can in the ceiling.

We dragged in the tallest ladder and TBG took his achy breaky knee up to the offending recessed can
His hand, swathed in a thick leather glove, untwisted the remainder of the flood light and handed it down to the plastic bag I was holding up high.

That lasted a few seconds; it was so hot that the bag began to melt to its surface. After quickly dumping the bulb carefully into the sink, we stood back and stared.  The glass was missing and the curved base surrounding the tiny bulb was cracked on the back.

How this happened remains a mystery.  We never noticed it until it exploded all over my tiles.

As we swept and wet-Swiffered and vacuumed and wiped with paper towels and then did it all again, we found ourselves repeating an awful refrain:
What if we'd been having dinner? (as I wiped glass from the tabletop)
What if FlapJilly had been strapped into her chair? (as I brushed tiny glass pieces off a seat)
What if....
What if....
What if.....
Having avoided death once in my life, I know that this is probably not the worst thing that could have happened.  But it's pretty close, especially for those who can't escape quickly, for those who are, unwittingly, below the disaster, for those whose PTSD was released by an unexpected and very loud report.

I'm sending this post to Sylvania; I'll keep you posted if I get a response.  We did replace the bulb, and it seems to be settling in very well.  But who knows when another light might decide to create some excitement on its own?  I can't sit under an umbrella in my own house.  I just have to put this in the Shit Happens file and try not to worry whenever I sit below my ceilings.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Something Easy You Can Do

I agree with Rain, a denizen, that individuals boycotting companies to make a political statement is unlikely to make a difference, in policy or the bottom line.  I wrote the post, and I wrote the emails, and I talked it up to my friends (once again, preaching to the choir), but inside, I was sighing.

And then I read that Kellogg's is pulling its ads from Breitbart News.  Their reasoning turned my boycotting frown upside down:
"We regularly work with our media-buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren't aligned with our values as a company," Kellogg's said in a statement. "We recently reviewed the list of sites where our ads can be placed and decided to discontinue advertising on Breitbart.com. We are working to remove our ads from that site."
CNN/Money goes on to describe Steve Bannon's hissy fit, which includes calling his views mainstream America and calling for a boycott of his own.

And so, denizens, here's something wonderful for you to do.  Buy some Frosted Flakes or Rice Krispies or TBG's favorite, Special K.  Indulge in a box of Pop Tarts.  Can't eat that stuff?  No problem.  Personalize a box for someone who can
Surrounded by healthy eaters?  How about some Pringles socks or a Corn Flakes cup?
Have I just solved half your gift giving problems by directing you to their website?
That was not my intent, but feel free to thank me.
What I wanted to do was give you a feel good moment, to counter a Breitbart-fueled revenge campaign.  The other side makes most of the noise.  It's up to us to talk back.  So......

After you've shopped, or even if you don't, why not go to Kellogg's Contact Us page and thank them for standing up for real mainstream America, the America that is inclusive and respectful and kind.

I did.
I felt better afterwards.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Betwixt and Between

I love writing the cards and baking the brownies and decorating the packages and dropping them off in the post office, one by one down the chute, smiling as I send loving thoughts to the recipients.

I love putting out the pillows and the candle holders and the door hangers.  I love watching my house move from TBG's Episcopal sparseness to his mother's Christmas-on-every-surface.

There is nothing I relish more than an afternoon in a comfy chair, with a good book in my lap and liquid refreshment by my side.  It's even better if the sun is out and the temperatures are in the 60's -Tucson's version of winter - and if the book is #10 in a 20 book series, and all the remaining ten texts are on my bookshelf, on loan from the library, just waiting to be read.

And that's where I am right now.  I have something from every column of my Smile Through December spreadsheet, and I don't know what to do.  I punted, earlier in the day, by getting my nails done.  Out with October and November's orange; in with December and January and various shades of red.

That was an easy choice.  Now, I have to decide whether to bake or to decorate or to read.   This is much harder.  It's a good thing that it's time to leave for Mr. 11's 6th grade basketball game.  I can put off my decision until after dinner, because I am the Designated Super Fan for my young friend.  He cannot be disappointed; I'll figure out what to do this evening once I finish cheering.

So much time.  So many choices. Such a lovely problem.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Easing Into It

Big Cuter says I never send him brownies any more.  We'll see if he reads this and reacts with a smile.

I have something to send Megan, frequent comment-leaver and fierce woman incarnate, and it seemed silly not to send her brownies, too.

Not-Kathy and Dr. K know the holidays begin when my brownies arrive; it's early this year, my friends.

And, perhaps, my treats will arrive at R-Square's before their lands on my doorstep.

It's Brownie Season, and I'm happy.

I will not ruin it by thinking about that which I cannot change (ie. President-elect tweets) having done what I can to make my voice heard (emailed my Senators re: Jeff Sessions for anything).

I will smell the baking and write the cards and start the season off with a full heart.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Extra Week

Thanksgiving was early.  Chanukah is late.  This is an extra week.

My holiday season revolves around the baking and distribution of dozens of boxes of brownies. The fact that I didn't bump into December this weekend means that this is an extra week, a week which has no assignments, a week in which can be used to compile and prepare.

It's a luxury I rarely experience.

This year, as always, I lost the Brownie List.  Not the hard copy I always print out, the list of names I can check off as cards are written, labels are printed, and boxes are packed.  No, the list that Little Cuter created for me a decade or so ago, the one with the addresses, the Official Brownie List.

I searched this PC and documents and Gmail messages and came up empty.  There were links to folders which had been deleted.  There was no Brownie List.  My girl attached it to the plaintive email I sent.  I realized that it was a Google Doc..... easily accessible from anywhere... as long as I was signed in.

I may save a Brownie List file with that information to help me next year when I forget and begin looking again.

With the list on the screen and 2015's hard copy on my desk, I began to update my USPS address book.  I created a Brownie List and checked to be sure that all the addresses were up to date.  I went back to the Google Doc and color coded the entries for Christmas and Chanukah and Both.  I sorted the ranges by columns, which made me inordinately happy.

I have a pantry filled with Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate and giant bags of walnut halves.  I have new 8" square pans, purchased this summer, on sale, in a moment of forethought and planning. There are a few last minute items - flour and sugar come immediately to mind - but I'm as well organized as I've ever been.

And, I have an extra week.  I think I'll go online and apply for Medicare.  I have the time.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Thanksgiving (Re)Collection

I've been re-reading Thanksgiving posts, and smiling a lot. Here is some of the joy.   I'll be back to reality on Monday; I'm taking the weekend off.
Memories Then:
..... of full bellies lying on the couch, begging for relief, as Hough's creamed spinach wound its way through an overloaded digestive tract.....

..... of my first niece, a veg even as a toddler, eating cucumbers for dinner and feeling just fine.....

..... of walks around the neighborhood, wrapped in scarves and hats culled from the front hall closet, surrounded by all ages and temperaments, mellowed by tryptophan

On dinner in Cleveland Heights at Nannie's house:
We'd sit in the dining room, using it, for once, as more than an inconvenient space between the kitchen and the tv room, sideboards groaning, waiting for Nannie's yearly screech. 

Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my mother-in-law jumping up from the table, just as the first fork was lifted and yelping, "Oh, shit... I burned the rolls!"
Memories More Recent:
Thursday Afternoon: "What time are you getting your mom?"
"Oh, SHIT, I forgot about G'ma!"
I, math challenged, asked G'ma how many ounces were in a cup. TBG wondered why I needed to know.  

"I don't want to measure them out, I want to know how many are in the box." Big Cuter went further. "She wants to do the math.  I know that's weird coming from Mom, but...."

They laugh at my foibles and love me nonetheless.

And my mother, my dear, demented, forgetful mother, knew, without missing a beat, that there were 8 ounces in a cup.  And she was surprised that I didn't remember that fact... and that she did.  

I know she's in there somewhere.
For this year and every year:
There were fewer people at the table, but just as much love.  We are here.  We are fed.  We are happy.

Thanks for being part of the wonder that is my life.  Each and every one of you makes it that much sweeter.  Who needs pie?  I have all of you.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Statement of Fact

For my happy, healthy family, here and there,

For my friends, near and far, old and new, and old-and-found-again,

For the abundance of goodness I see every day,

For the richness of the world I inhabit,

For the fact that I am here at all, 

I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all !

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What I'm Doing - Part Three

RE: The President Elect

His phone call with Mr. Abe was on an unsecured line.  Surely this is as disturbing as Mrs. Clinton's use of a private server.

His businesses are intertwined with the business of the nation, and his children (who cannot really run a "blind trust" for him, now can they?) are in the room making policy even as they plan to run the businesses after the inauguration.  How is this not a conflict of interest?

His DC hotel touting their space to diplomats - how is this not Pay for Play?

I am quite concerned about the integrity of our government.  I hope that you will pay close attention to these matters, as you have to Mrs. Clinton's emails.

That's what I wrote in the space provided at the Blow the Whistle tab on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's website.  I signed my name, and the site assures me that I'm safe:

 Any personal information you provide us will be kept in strict confidence.

That's what I did on Sunday. After tackling retailers on Saturday, I spent the next afternoon targeting Congress.  I was much less successful.  

Apparently, the only way to contact a member of Congress by email is to be a resident of the district. Enter a non-congruent zip code and you get an error message that makes you feel small for asking the wrong grown-up for help.  At least, before asking for my zip code, Rep. Mike Turner had the decency to apologize:

Regrettably, I am unable to reply to any email from constituents outside of the district. 

There are no email addresses listed on the official web pages of the House of Representatives.  The administrator makes it very clear that the central network will not forward emails.  They suggest searching each Representative's web presence if you want to send an email.

Good luck with that.  I tried.  Google email Rep. Chaffetz (the Committee Chair) and see how far you get.  I'm beginning to see why Hillary used a private email server.

I started to call every member on the Committee.  The mailboxes were full, or phones were unanswered, until I got to Rep. Farenthold who gave me space for a rambling message about conflict of interest and our President-to-be.  

I re-read the post which inspired me, and thought about the second paragraph.  

I decided to wait until Monday and call the local offices of the remaining members.  If they're not in DC I bet they are home, checking in with constituents.  Maybe there will be someone answering the phones there.


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