Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Good Friends - A Snippet

We met when the Jews came to visit after I was shot.  They brought a Shabbat meal and words of comfort and left me with a new friend for life.

Our husbands embrace their alone time with the same degree of passion.  Writing is a passion and political activism is part and parcel of our beings.  We love our two kids and our one grandchild (each) with reckless abandon.

We don't like to shop, but sometimes we give in to the urge.... and this is what happens when that urge strikes us at different times, in different stores, with different motivations.....
but the same outcome.

Sometimes it's obvious that we were meant to be in one another's lives.

It's Ba-a-a-ack

And yes, there's an ack in the title.

TrumpCare is back, and it's worse than ever.  John McCain's best friend, Lindsay Graham, joined with Louisiana's Bill Cassidy in introducing a revised repeal-and-replace bill that Ohio's John Kasich tweeets eliminates the guardrails that protect some of the most vulnerable among us.

In a sop to my own Senator's NO vote in July, Arizona is poised to receive heaping piles of pork from Graham-Cassidy.  Can he be bought off?  I tried to ask his office that very question this morning, but the phone was busy ... very very busy .... in the car (on speakerphone if I had ever gotten through).. from home ... on my cell on the way to pick up the mail.  I'll comment on his website and his Facebook page, but I wanted to have my voice heard, too.

Indivisible has a lengthy but readable outline of the bill here.  There's a sample script for contacting your Senators here.  If you live in Arizona or Ohio or Tennessee or Alaska, they've created special scripts for you - asking for a return to regular order in the Senate where those Senators can speak their mind in the time honored traditions of their institution.

I'm asking you to take the next two minutes, the ones you'd have devoted to reading a typical post in The Burrow, and make those phone calls right now.  If you can't get through, go to the Senators' webpages and comment as a constituent.  Ask for a response.  You can start here, at our government's cleverly titled Contact Elected Officials site.

If you don't act, you don't get to complain.

Monday, September 18, 2017


It's hard to think of autumn when I'm sweating in shorts and a tank top.  It's too hot to plant, too hot to rejigger the irrigation system, too hot to revamp the containers and replant that which needs more or less sunshine.  The euphorbia along the edge of the roadway are scorched, I hope not beyond repair, but I'm too uncomfortable to help them.

A lot of Tucsonans are sharing these thoughts.  Buying a frame for our new 11x14 FlapJilly portrait by JPetersenPhotography, I had this same conversation with the cashier.  It's not that we're complaining, necessarily.  It's that we're bored.  We're ready for light sweaters and narrow wale corduroy slacks.  We're tired of sleeveless blouses and ready to don our cowboy boots.  But boots when it's 98 degrees, humidity or not, lead to very sweaty feet.  We agreed that we'd have to wait.  We agreed that we were pretty peeved about it.

Michael's has everything Fall on sale.  Halloween decor and Thanksgiving serving pieces and stickers and candles and everything in between, all colored orange and brown.  I wandered the aisles, filling my cart with an owl and a pillow and some small ceramic pumpkins, laughing at the heat rising from the parking lot as I schlepped my treasures to The Uv.  The thermometer might be telling me that it's time to swim, but my purchases announced that it was time to drag out the autumn tchotchkes.

We'll be in Indiana for Halloween with the grandbaby, so my decor will be less scary and more generically seasonal this year. It's not that much of a problem;  I discarded my witches several years ago, along with the kindergarten treasures my now-30-somethings created.  I struggled with the turkey candle holders and turkey platters and turkey lawn ornaments; it seems counter-intuitive to venerate that which I am soon to eat.  For now, they remain in the box.

But the new owl sits cozily beside the farmers and the pumpkins and the curcubits in all their many incarnations - paper squash, ceramic cucumbers, plush pumpkins, etc etc etc.  JannyLou is the only one I know who consistently decorates for each season; last night she told me that Marshall's (a store whose threshold I have never crossed) has lots of cute things you don't need but really want to have.  I may stop in this week, on the theory that you can never have too much of a good thing.

If only I could wear my wool socks and a cut-off sweatshirt while I'm carting things from the garage to the mantles.  Then it might actually feel like Fall.  For now, it will just have to look like it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Feeling the Years

I'm trying to buy a wedding present, but I'm getting stuck in the past.

I'm remembering him as a toddler, as the 3 year old birthday boy, as the suburbanite living across the street from his school until his parents finally returned him to his proper place, the city.

I'm remembering his mother's gigantic cell phone and her fiendish attachment to it... and to him... when our sons were quite a bit smaller than they are right now.

I'm having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it has been three decades since the boys hid under the kitchen table together.  I don't feel that much older, but one of those little ones is tying the knot in 6 weeks ... and pre-schoolers don't get married in fancy hotels downtown.

Where have those years gone?  Amster's oldest is in high school.  I'm on Medicare.  The calendar pages keep turning and I don't notice anything changing.

I suppose that's a good thing.  I suppose I should be flattered that the Uber driver thought I was late 40's/early 50's at the most.  But sometimes,  the reality of buying a crystal carafe for a kid whose diapers I changed just stops me dead in my tracks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Brief and Random Thoughts on Sports

TBG watched about 10 minutes of Monday Night Football this week.  My campaign to minimize the intrusion of football in my life is gaining ground.  On the other hand, while I was visiting FlapJilly, he and Big Cuter spent much of the weekend dissecting the actions of overgrown men running into and away from one another.  They've been betting against the spread since the kid was in elementary school; they have years of records to prove it.  I suppose it's too deep a bond to sever.... at least, for now.
TBG's having another hometown moment, with the Cleveland Indians now proud possessors of the American League's longest winning streak.  The Tribe has won 21 in a row and ESPN is all Cleve-town all the time.

It's nice to see my guy smiling.
Thinking about the Indians reminds me of my Marin friend, a self-described scary black man several decades my junior.  Talking with Dana Carvey (yes, I'm name dropping ... and I'm smiling as I'm doing it!  He was just one of the guys.  Oh, I did love living in Marin.) one afternoon in front of the gym where we all trained.

The news was filled with outrage over the Redskins' ownership's refusal to consider a name change.  Someone in the group asked me if I'd like a team named The Hebes, then asked my friend how he'd feel about cheering for The Aunt Jemimas.  Without skipping a beat, his reply was (and still is) perfect:
I don't know.  Are they winning?
FlapJilly is playing soccer at pre-school.  The program comes to them, one morning a week.  She has an orange jersey, of which she is quite proud.

Monday was the first session.  They learned to kick and to shuffle side to side and they ran very very fast.  In the email the coach will send to the parents each week there was also The Word of The Week.  This week's word was Respect.  Respect for each other, for the coach, and for the game.

I'm going to like hearing about this..... I'm going to like it a lot.
My favorite sport these days is American Ninja Warrior, the timed obstacle course that favors the quick and the brave, the strong and the flexible, small people and tall people and men and women, all of whom compete on the same course, with no accommodations.  It's fast and fun and weirdly inclusive; we find ourselves moving in sync with the athletes as they fly and run and leap and fling themselves from pillar to post.  It's exhilarating to watch.

You need agility, grip strength, focus and tenacity.  It's only dangerous if you miss the objective and fall 18' into a pool of water, or swing on a rope into a heavily padded landing area.   The fans are up close and personal in bleachers paralleling the course, and they wave signs and wear matching t-shirts and cheer.

There is lots of cheering in Ninja Warrior, from the stands and the competitors, too.  They all want to win, and they all want to watch someone win.  They admire and gasp and applaud, marveling and despairing as we do, taking real pleasure in everyone's accomplishments.

It's everything wonderful about sports.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No

When we moved to Arizona, I made a promise to myself:  You don't have to go to any more meetings.
Today, I agreed to steward two meetings a month.  I couldn't help myself.  OFA asked, and I said yes.

Our Southern Arizona leader, a woman with the wonderfully appropriate name of Mary Darling, met me this afternoon at Crave, a coffee bar cum gathering place which deserves its own post.  Her husband, the oldest 16 year old you'll ever meet, and another organizer were introduced, and then we retired to our own little table, where she pitched her idea.

Filling every paragraph with and you're so good at that, she outlined a series of information sessions and postcard writing opportunities, visits to Rep. McSally's office, and personal commitments by the participants to further amplify the message.  

Amplifying the message means tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram pictures and, more to my skill set and comfort level, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces.  My role is to help the attendees find meaningful connections to the bullet points on the one page fact sheets OFA will prov, ide, which we'll start the meeting by reading to ourselves.  Facts may be indisputable, but they are less potent than personal stories, especially when it comes to connecting with staff, interns, Communications Directors, and, perhaps, one can hope, the Congresswoman herself.

It's a way to amplify my own voice while helping others.  It's making my little corner of the world just a little bit better.  It's two afternoons a month, on my schedule.

I really couldn't say no, although I feel like I should apologize to myself for breaking that promise... and doing it with a smile on my face and a hug around my heart.

(If you're local and want to be kept informed, let me know.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 11, 2001

Sixteen years ago, Christina-Taylor's parents were unaware of the planes flying into the Towers. They were busy with her birthing.

On another plane this afternoon, I did a little mourning and a little smiling.  I imagined her Sweet Sixteen party, an event that will never happen, which made me sad and mad and resigned.  But I could see her, dressed and accessorized to the nines, her hair as shiny as her eyes, greeting her guests, making sure everyone was having a great time, delighting in being the center of all the love and attention.

Her father reminded us over and over again that Christina-Taylor would not want sadness to be her legacy.  I try, each and every day, to remember that, to focus on her laugh and her attitude and the fun we had together.  Some days it's easier than others.

Flying home from my granddaughter, another tall, inquisitive, thoughtful, delightful girl, I felt the loss of the 9 year old holding my hand and jumping for joy over the prospect of an autographed picture of herself and her Congresswoman. I wallowed in the memory.

I didn't move the story forward; her birthday will not be desecrated by talk of guns.

Instead, I remembered touring behind the scenes at the Tucson Zoo and creating flyers for her business and playing pick-up sticks.  I remembered laughing with her parents over her antics.  I tried not to cry.

It's 110 very fast miles from the airport to my house; I made a quick detour at the very end.  Just outside our neighborhood,  Christina-Taylor's park has been upgraded to include an obelisk and a monarch butterfly way station and an educational garden and a statue of CTG and her brother.
I left her a birthday card and finished my drive home, fantasizing about her by my side.  It put a big smile back on my face.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.  

Monday, September 11, 2017


There were lions and zebras and chimps. There was sunshine and there was a cousin and there were lots of snacks.
But mostly, my heart was filled with love. Some things are too beautiful not to share, things like this.
I'll write more for tomorrow. Today, I'm reveling in the love.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Setting Off on an Adventure

TBG doesn't want to get on a plane.  As I told him, I'm not leaving him behind.  He's not coming with me.  It's an active choice on his part, I can't feel sorry that he'll miss the fun.

Chicago will be sunny and warm this weekend, perfect for a party and for visiting with friends.  There will be breakfast with Niece-the-Youngest and a rental car to take me hither and yon, visiting old friends, dropping in on the bookstores on Broadway, sitting on a bench by the lake at the Far Far Park.  There will be visiting of the grandchild and the concomitant giggles and hugs and stories and dress up.

If only I didn't have to get up at 4am to catch my plane in Mesa.  Still, saving nearly $300 by flying Allegiant rather than a major carrier makes driving in the dark somewhat more acceptable.  Even with the weekend car rental, I'm more than $100 to the good for this trip.

All this fun, all by myself.

I can hardly wait.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

It's Just Cruel

DJT's 6 month ultimatum to Congress - fix DACA or I'll intervene - might be a political ploy, might be making good on a campaign promise, might be a sop to his base, might be the kick in the ass that Congress needs to get something, anything, going.  It might be all those things.  But one thing it is, for sure - it's cruel.

How do you expatriate someone who's never lived a sentient moment outside the USofA?

It's been heartening to hear Martha Pollack, Cornell's new President, say that the University will continue to aid its DACA students.  I loved hearing John Kasich inviting DACA recipients to come to Ohio, where they will be welcomed with open arms.  I've been tempted to join rallies and street side demonstrations; the invitations pour into my mailbox in a steady stream.

In turn, I've tried and tried to write something more eloquent than It's Just Cruel.  I want to add my voice to the outrage.  I want to make a difference.  I want to change someone's mind.

As I often sing to the kids at Prince, though, You can't always get what you want.

I'm coming up empty.  So, I'm sharing the words of twins, Notre Dame undergraduates, DACA recipients, children of undocumented parents, future world changers.  They are living it.  They say it better than I ever could.

Here's the link.  Enjoy.  Then, if you want to let your Senators and Representatives know how you think, click through here to make your voices heard.  If I can't find the words, maybe you can.


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