Friday, February 22, 2019

Happy Washington's Birthday! Really

I first published this in 2011. 
 It remains one of my favorite rants.
I remember when THIS was the most aggravating thing our government did.
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, 209 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.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Goodbye, Silver Sneakers - A Snippet

It Happened

TBG's pass didn't work at the gym this morning.  Our relationship with Silver Sneakers has been officially severed.  No one is paying my membership fees.

$22 per month for an all-USA-access pass to LA Fitness seems reasonable.  I'm committed to regular exercise.  TBG lives most of his away-from-home-life in the gym.  I went through the internet sign-up procedure for whatever the United Health Care AARP Medicare Supplement calls their subsidy program.... twice.... once for me, once, after a bit of a kerfuffle with the software, for TBG.

It was a lot more work and a lot more money than Silver Sneakers was.  They required no sign-up procedure; I produced my identification, the club looked me up in an on-line data base, and in I went.  Platinum Fitness, Fit Stop, LA Fitness.... they all were glad to see me.

I worry about my less enthusiastic-about-the-whole-exercise-thing friends.  When it was free, and available everywhere, excuses were harder to come by.  Now, for people on a fixed income, watching every expenditure, $22 a month is a noticeable expense.  Couple that with a natural reluctance to start something new, and the insurance companies have, once again, taken steps to undermine our health.

Am I being overly dramatic?  Perhaps.  But aren't you used to that from me by now? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Today’s post was published yesterday afternoon.
I have no new thoughts to share this morning.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Happy Thoughts

I woke up to find that I had not published yesterday's post.  Rereading it, I started today the way yesterday ended - fearing for the safety of a Federal Judge.  Deducing that this was not a productive stance, I resolved to think happy thoughts, and sat down to write this post.

I saw the snow on Mt. Lemmon, my thoughts wandered to Daddooooo pulling all 3 kids on sleds tied one to the other, and I was smiling until I looked down and saw a swarm of black bugs crawling over the river rocks in the courtyard.

Where are the lizards when you need them?  Aren't those migrating birds the least bit hungry?  Granted, it's only 46today, but there's a free buffet climbing the concrete plinth of my southern column and I wish you would take advantage of the situation.  Like, now.

It's like watching a train wreck - it's awful and I can't tear my eyes away from it.  We've had a lot of intermittent rain over the last few weeks; the ground cover is covered with what passes for crabgrass

here in the desert.
It's not only my yard; all around me, the weeds and the viruses and the parasites, like mistletoe,

are enjoying the natural irrigation and cooler temperatures.

The humans are discontent.  We'll have two sunny days, albeit with below freezing nights, then more rain will fall.  Looking back at previous electric bills, we usually turn on the pool by the end of February.  I don't think that will be happening this year.

But I lost the train of happy thoughts, so I drove down to Prince Elementary School where Maurice Sendak's wild things terrified some kindergarteners with their terrible claws - on their feet!!! -  and where I found my smiles once again.

There were three girls with pink sneakers.  There was a headband with kitten ears atop a shiny head of black hair.  There was a boy without a jacket and a girl who forgot it at home and neither of them seemed the least bit uncomfortable on the playground.  There were random hugs from random Prince Scholars - where else can I go and find so much love available for the taking?

The traffic coming home didn't bother me.  The broken garage door couldn't dampen my mood.  The black bugs have disappeared and the sun is, once again, glinting off the snowcovered mountain tops out my window, as I sit here, typing to you, with a smile on my face.

Sometimes, it's the simple things that do the trick.

Horrified, Redux

Bloomberg Opinion made me smile with this headline:

Democrats Are Putting Gun Control Front and Center
The party has recruited Mark Kelly, who has made the fight against firearms his top issue, to run for the Senate in Republican-leaning Arizona.

Then Facebook made me wonder if this could be true:

Roger Stone Posts and Deletes Photo of Judge With Crosshairs

I followed the link to Time, which I deem a reputable news source, and found the original article along with this comment, toward the end:

some wondered aloud whether the image constituted threatening a federal judge.

Some wondered?????  Threatening?????

The last time I heard about crosshairs on an important person's face a federal judge ended up dead, and the Congresswoman who was targeted took a bullet to the brain.  I'd say that Judge Amy Berman Jackson has every reason to feel threatened.

I hope she is not naive enough to assume that she is not.

Been there.  Done that.  Ended up in a good place, but can't really recommend the precipitating event.  Take care, Judge Jackson.  Take care.

Monday, February 18, 2019


If you are going to see the Live Action Short Oscar Nominees, this is a SPOILER ALERT!
Unfortunately, on Saturday, six of us saw the Live Action Short Films nominated for this year's
Oscar. We probably should have paid attention to more than the starting time.  We should have examined the subject matter..

The nominees tell the stories of:

  1. A child alone and in danger
  2. A tween and quicksand
  3. Unrequited love and dying
  4. Ten year old child killers
  5. Children, guns, racism 
Four of them didn't end well.  The fifth was just melancholy, bordering on maudlin.  Bathos came to mind.

After the first one, told from the mother's perspective, The Doula and I found ourselves looking at one another, palms upraised, wondering "Why?"  By the time the toddler was kidnapped by the bigger kids, my head was spending an inordinate amount of time in my hands.  When, at the end, in a bizarre case of mistaken identity, a son shot the father he adored, we could hardly wait to get out of the theater.

Whose sensibilities are reflected in these films?  Who would voluntarily subject herself to these experiences?  Was there not one film in the entire world with a message worth remembering?  Do any of the nominators ever smile?

Those are the questions I pondered on the way to dinner, where yes, we'll have the large margaritas started the healing process.  For suggesting and promoting the activity, The Kibbitzer and I owe our friends a debt that will be hard to repay.  

All of us were glad the sun was out the next morning.  Gloomy weather would have been one blow too many.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentines at AMS

It was controlled chaos.

There was collaboration

and independent work.

Grandma brought scrapbooking tools for making round edges with hearts,
odd edged scissors,
and magic markers of varying viability.
Some were immediately enthusiastic

and some took a little more convincing.
And, in the end, 
it was all about love.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Open House in Grandma's Garden

It was Tuesday and the Scholars were surprised to see me.
There was a lot of work to be done to ready the garden for the Open House for donors.
Although some were disappointed by the emphasis on work
after a little bit of cheer-leading
the empty pots were filled with aloe 
and random seeds harvested from those spilled on the bench. 
The hanging garden received a careful hand watering.
And there was raking. 
Lots and lots of rakiing.

There was also mischief.
The rules are few and simple.
1.Don't climb on and don't fall off  the rocks.
2. All tools must stay below your shoulders.
Sometimes you just have to stare at Grandma and see how far she'll let you go.
Big smiles and giggles go a long way toward mitigating my wrath,
specially when my heart is soothed by a kid who found a quiet place to dig with a pint sized trowel.
Grandma's Garden is a good place for that.

Wednesday was warm and partly cloudy, perfect for showing off our space.
TBG and Lady Jane were regaled with stories and scallions.
while Beth Hargrove, from Rilllito Nursery 
explored the onion sets and the irrigation system. 
She showed a Gardener how to find and spread the marigold seeds hiding within the moribund flowers remaining on the stalks.  They never really recovered from the freezing nights.  Beth showed us how the garden reseeds itself, with just a little help from its friends.

Grandma's Garden is lucky to have lots of friends.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

@Shuttle CDRKelly

Find the video.

This is a man who believes in science, in facts.

This is a Navy pilot, the Commander of the Space Shuttle, and, because his wife showed him how to use public policy for the common good, his is a powerful voice for responsible gun violence prevention legislation.  

Also, he is very well behaved.

He likes his brother and his brother likes him.  He's friends with the rich and famous (Nancy Sinatra congratulated him on Twitter) and his friends from college. His wife's family likes him.

My family and friends like him.  We all saw him on the worst days of his life.  He always had something for us: a smile, a phone number, a space geek conversation.  He's a real guy, the same person in the video as in his living room.  

He's running to wrest the Participation Trophy from our appointed-by-the-Governor Senator, Martha McSally.  It is true that McSally is not my favorite human, true that I probably would have supported the Democrat no matter who it might turn out to be. But now I have a chance to support someone with whom I agree on my two major issues - health care and guns - and who has a real chance to make a difference in our world.

Did I mention that he is well behaved?  

Mark Kelly for U S Senate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What To Do? What To Do? - Random Thoughts

Amy Klobuchar stood in the snow.

Mayor Pete discussed his book from a chair in a gigantic South Bend lobby.

Elizabeth Warren stood on a stage with a gazillion flags behind her.

Howard Schultz is on a book tour, too, as people wonder if buying a venti latte is also making a political statement.

A lot of people are running to be POTUS.  It's a plethora of riches.
Democratic Socialism is being defined in the newspapers.  Racism is roiling Virginia's governance.  Gun Safety Legislation is being passed in State Houses across the land.  Nogales wants the Feds to take down the newly-installed concertina wire; the Feds say Sorry, Charlie.

I'm quite confused.
Legislators known for their negotiating skills were tasked with finding a way to keep our government open.  Between funding a see-through-steel-barrier (see-through-steel being my favorite Trump-ism these days) and limiting the number of ICE's detention beds, we're really between a rock and a hard place.  Should the government shut down, the negotiators will still be paid, even if other employees are not.

There's something very wrong with that picture.  Where's the noise on that front?
It was 40-something degrees outside this morning.  The birds are migrating, perching atop the crepe myrtle, picking at the seed pods.  The poppies are pushing up through the soil,.

Instead of gardening I'm searching for a clean sweatshirt to keep me warm between the car and the gym.  Puget Sound is bracing for the 4th or 5th snowfall in two weeks, trying to function without enough plows or salt or worker bees to clear the streets. 

The world is trying to decipher the difference between weather and climate while our Tucson visitors stare at cold, wet, gloomy skies, and we who live here apologize profusely for the rain and the wind.
What to do?  What to do?


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