Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What Happened to the Fidget Spinners?

They were everywhere.  Kids had them on the playground, unless the teacher had already confiscated them.  They lined the checkout counters at the grocery store and the car wash and the hardware store.  They came to dinner with the grown-ups, a means of keeping the kids occupied, obviating the need to include them in the conversation.  They were a fad.

The Cuters went through a variety of collectibles - round discs and printed cards, saved in plastic sleeves held in three ring binders.  Some were used in a tiddly-winks like game, but most just sat there, being looked at.  The cards were often disgusting, in a fourth grade blood-and-guts way.  As long as it was just yucky, I let it go.  There was no sense in judging a fad that would vanish before permanent psychological damage could be done.

Hula Hoops were a fad when I was very young.  Bubba and Zayde and I went to John's Bargain Store on East 93rd Street in Brooklyn and we each bought one.  Why?  They were rationed.  I remember the cashier looking askance at my grandmother as she approached the counter.  Was she really going to shimmy in the middle of a plastic wheel?  In retrospect, she was probably annoyed that we were walking out with three of them. At the time, I just thought I had a very cool Bubba.

I had to Google fads in the 1950's to see what else constituted a fad.  Davy Crockett - I had a coon skin cap with a tail, I named my bicycle Betsy after Davy's rifle, and I was furious that  my family wouldn't name my newborn sister that, too.  The Mickey Mouse Club - I was in love with a few of the Mouseketeers, wanted Annette to be my best friend, and waited impatiently for Friday's Spin and Marty episode.

I thought I would remember more of the 1960's, but I sat, staring at Lenore the Lenovo Laptop, for a long time trying to come up with what constituted a fad.  I could only come up with one:white go-go boots.

White go-go boots were a fad during middle school.  My family didn't have a lot of extra money, so I must have been exceptionally persuasive to have convinced G'ma to buy me a pair.  I remember her making me promise that I would wear them; the fad ended before I out-grew them.  There they sat, a sad reminder of the folly of following trends.

Google thinks that Rock and Roll was a fad; I think it was a cultural shift.  I'm not including it in this review.  By definition, I think a fad has to have a limited life span.  I'm still listening to Rock and Roll aren't you?

Was being a hippie a fad?  Longing for peace, brotherhood, sisterhood, and multi-cultural understanding, fueled by recreational drugs and home brewed beer, we toppled a Presidency and ended a war.  Was that a fad, or a cultural revolution?

Was marching on Washington or the Dean of Students Office a fad?  Some of us certainly did a lot of it, and then we didn't.  And then, decades later, we were at it again.  That's not a fad, that's a statement.

Was wearing tie-dye and bell-bottoms and my hair in long braids a fad?  I've shucked the pants, but the tie dye is still in my wardrobe.  My long hair fell victim to TBG's pleas that he loved short styles, but I was an adult by then, too mature to be influenced by fads.  Or so I thought.

The Prince scholars are my quick go-to group for that which is trendy among the younger set.  Affirmation T-Shirts seem to be all the rage these days; everyone is Mommy's Best Daughter or certain that I am a Rock Star! or a Hero for the Ages.  In this case, I am an anti-fad follower, as my new favorite tee proclaims:

Like the fidget spinners and the pogs and the Mouseketeers, fads fade away.  They live in the boxes of memories your parents store for you, and then you open the boxes when your mother sends them to you when you buy your first home.  You hold the painted plastic Rat Fink and wonder why????

That's the definition of a fad - years later you look at it and wonder why????

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Are You Registered To Vote, vol 2

The young woman behind the counter was waiting for me today.

"I didn't get to the website you gave me, but I have the next few days off and I'm on it." will be there when she's ready, I assured her.

"There are a lot of people running, and a lot of propositions."  She did not look thrilled.

"Pick an issue you care about and google it with a candidate's name.  That's a good place to start."

A smile lit her face; this was within her wheelhouse.

I gave her some stickers, for herself, her friends, and their cars.  She agreed that it was her generation's responsibility to care for their future.  She was grinning as we talked about rallying her friends to go to the polls.

I left with a big smile on my face.

Now, I'm off to write postcards to get out the vote for Stacey Abrams, my own small contribution to counter the voter suppression tactics of her opponent.  I'm still showing off the felt #InvestInEd emblem JannyLou gave me to show that I'll vote-against-the-vouchers.  And I have a sticker on my car, just like the ones I gave the girl behind the counter:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Beauty and The Beast, 1946

Scarlet and I spent a truly surreal afternoon together.  Really.  Though he denied any connection to the movement, Jean Cocteau appears in every scholarly explication of surrealism that I found this evening.  He inspired it, he created it, he reveled in it - whatever he called it.  And today, celebrating European Art Cinema Day, Scarlet and I joined him in fantasy, watching his black and white masterpiece, La Belle et La Bete.

The Loft's Program Director had much too much fun making fun of Disney's animated remake in his opening remarks.  I'm not sure as he is that Cocteau's candelabras, muscular men's arms protruding from the walls, moving with Beauty as she runs through their shadows, are any less creepy or amusing than 1991's dancing and singing torchiers. 

Yes, along with a magic mirror and a transporter-equipped, jewel encrusted, right hand glove, there were living body parts in usually inanimate objects.  We got used to the arms pretty quickly.  The statues with eyes that ogled brought giggles from the crowd; perhaps we are jaded, 70 some years later.  On some level, it was creepy.  Then, again, so are talking light fixtures. 

The subtitles called her Beauty, but the actors, speaking French, said Belle.  There was a square jawed suitor and a wastrel sidekick and the father and daughter loved each other very much, just like the story is supposed to be.  Cocteau threw in some annoying sisters, but coming from a Cinderella-driven childhood they didn't seem out of place to me  Their presence made it feel more like a fairy tale. 

And the audience reacted as if it were. We sighed, we gasped, we smiled together.  Story time for grown-ups on a Sunday afternoon, with a good friend by my side.  Life is good.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Medicare Open Enrollment - A Snippet

"You get the Humana plan from AARP.  Everyone does."

That was the advice TBG got when he turned 65.  From everyone.  That was the advice I got, too, two years later.  So that's what we got.  And it was good.

We have simple needs.  The plan met them.  And it had a fabulous feature - Silver Sneakers.

Do you know Silver Sneakers?  You give your name and address and the staff at any affiliated gym looks you up on the computer and gives you a access to the facility.  For free. 

And there are lots of affiliates.  LA Fitness.  The Y. 

The Fit Stop 5 minutes from Little Cuter's house kept me sane while awaiting Giblet's arrival. Silver Sneakers let me follow my yogi to Planet Fitness one Sunday morning.  All at no cost, with minimal paperwork and a welcoming attitude from everyone, every time. 

I'm using it just the way it was intended - it gets me moving in situations where I might otherwise not.

And so, because I use it and I love it and it saves me a monthly gym membership, because it's effective in the most basic way, the way every doctor talked about with G'ma as she aged, because those who don't move, die, that plan that everyone gets will no longer include Silver Sneakers as a member benefit.

It's replaced by 50% off our LA Fitness membership, and a discount at affiliates. 

That's $360 a year we'll have to add to the cost of coverage in 2019, unless our adviser can suggest a better solution. 

That's vacations where working out will be behind one more obstacle, if the opportunity exists at all.

That's the first step in forgetting why I chose the apartment furthest from the dining room when G'ma moved to The Old Folks Home; it was the only exercise she got, and then only because she was hungry. 

Sigh.  Just when I thought things couldn't get worse. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Such a Big Girl

"Why is Thomas orange?" 

SIR was concerned. The big people were relaxing on the couch, watching videos on the phone, on the iPad, on the television, after a hard day at work and pre-K.  The dog, with his now orange fur, strolled by. 

The parents wondered.

"Orange?  Why is he orange?"

"He must have gotten into something in the garden."


"Sure, it could be pollen.  Let me look."

And then, without lifting her eyes from the screen in her lap, not missing a beat, came FlapJilly, participating in the conversation as a fully fledged member of the team.

"Guys.  Guys.  I spilled my mac and cheese on him."

Being a Big Sister has propelled my grandbaby into Big Girlhood.  

She's learning about the planets, because pre-K has a curriculum that includes such things.  She announced that Saturn is her favorite among them, "because it has rings, just like me!"  

She's riding her two wheeler around the neighborhood, propelled by her Daddy on roller blades, kept stable by his steady hands and her training wheels.  They zoom down the driveway and she squeals with glee as Grampa and I gasp.  She took a spill when we accompanied her to the park; she checked for blood, got back on her bike, and rode home to report to her mother: "I fell off, but I was brave."

She said yes to the offer of a bandaid, but that might have been a fashion statement,
just as it was here.

Did I mention that she wants to be Merida for Halloween?  Since they costume as a family, that means her mother has to be a huge black bear with a crown, while her Dad and Brother get to be Vikings.  Still, when your daughter wants to be the hero from a film called Brave, it's hard to say no.

In real life, she's also a girly girl, one who spreads blue eye shadow on her forehead (look to Wonder Woman's makeup for her inspiration) and a different pouffe of blush on each cheek, one whose vanity table is covered with bling. 

"Are you blogging?  You're giving off a very nice vibe."

Yes, about FlapJilly, I told my husband, and we smiled.

This feisty little human lights up our world.  
Photos by

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I'm Still Jittery

Scarlet and I went to the movies today, wending our way through parking lot construction to  The Loft.  Our membership renewals came with 4 free passes; we each used one to gain admission to Love, Gilda.

It looked like it would be a private showing until the lights went down.  By the time the previews were finished there were two other women sitting at opposite ends of the theater, and a gentleman down in front.  Theater One, the biggest, renovated auditorium, was ours for the enjoying.

Until the jackhammers started.

Gilda had a miscarriage, and the pounding was intermittent.

Gilda went through chemotherapy, and the pounding got louder.

After ten minutes or so, I went out to the lobby, seeking redress.  I told the ticket seller that the movie was becoming unwatchable, what with the construction going on right outside.  He nodded.  I went back to my seat to see the end; I'd already invested an hour or more in the film and I was bound and determined to see it through to the end.

The credits rolled and Scarlet was out of her chair and into the lobby  By the time I caught up with her the ticket seller was emailing his manager, handing us replacement passes, and apologizing.  As first one woman and then the other came past I I encouraged them to get their free passes, too.  The older gentleman couldn't have been more delighted.

We walked out past the jackhammer on the opposite side of the wall by our seats.  It was only marginally louder.  Then I drove home. 

My hand were shaky, but I put it down to the flu shot I got after the film.  I had trouble sitting still, and I thought it was because Prince is on Fall Break and I miss my routine of stories and gardening and hugs.  My head hurt, and I was anxious, and then I realized that I had been sitting beside concrete destruction for nearly an hour.

No one would choose to do that, especially someone who thought she was going to the movies. 
The movie was sweet, poignant, reminiscent of my young adulthood.  I recommend it.... without jackhammers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Happy Thoughts

I've been avoiding the news since Susan Collins. It's really been quite lovely.

It helps that the temperatures have been in the low 80's, that the rains have cleared the air of pollen and dust, at that the clouds, fueled by tropical storms and hurricanes near and far, have led to spectacular sunsets. 

And the pool is still warm enough for laps.

The risk of triple digits has passed, so I feel safe putting plants directly in the soil.  I'm going to risk planting another rock rose bush to supplement the ones the javelina had for brunch one Tuesday last year.  I'm going to amend the soil in some small areas of the garden, the dead zones where nothing has grown (and I've tried everything) for the 49 seasons we've lived here. 

If the soil won't come to me, I'll bring myself to the soil. 

I will not be defeated.  The yarn storage has gotten totally out of hand; I'm on Pintrest looking for suggestions.  I have the world's widest array of plastic bins and plastic bags and wicker baskets, in all shapes and sizes, covered and bare, handles optional on most.  I have a fancy label maker I've never un-wrapped from the impossible to destroy plastic covering. 

I'm all set, once I make a decision about what to do. 

My desk is, once more, a disaster zone.  I won't take a picture, because it's embarrassing, even by my standards.  And that's a very low bar.  But in order to find the label maker I'll have to dig through the layers, and so, it seems, I will have to approach this task as well.
I'm being ruthless in the kitchen.  I bought a new loaf pan to replace the ones Nannie handed down to me from Paw's older sister and my banana bread just slipped right out, bouncing on the cooling rack with reckless abandon.  I'm not used to shouting Hey, come back here to my baked goods.

Out go all my no-longer-non-stick, never use them even thought Someone Special gave/bought/handed it down to me.  Others can use them; I don't need them taking place.

I want everything I touch to make me smile, or at least not make me groan. 

And this is the prescription I've set for myself, to counter the overwhelming sadness I encounter when I try to face the world outside my house.  I'm listening to the DJ's on KXCI, our community radio station, because I can't bear to hear NPR rehashing the same sorry state of affairs,, program after program after program.  This morning I rolled down the car windows and sang along, loudly, to music that's been mine for decades.

Life is much happier here in my little shell.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Minimalist Decor

I used to go all out.  I carved pumpkins, I painted pumpkins, I stacked pumpkins on bales of hay next to scarecrows, I piled plush pumpkins beside plastic pumpkins overlooking ghost candlesticks.  Amsters kids helped me decorate, and then went home to complain to their mother that she didn't have enough stuff to celebrate the season.

Year after year, I stuffed those scarecrows myself, with help from whatever child happened to be available.  When the Cuters were both in college, TBG and I rented a house next to a young family.  Shyly, their third grader asked if she could help.  Her enthusiasm for the project outside prompted me to continue decorating inside, even if only TBG and I were there to enjoy it.

We were in transit; renting while searching the country for our forever home.  Almost everything was in packing boxes; I laughed at myself when I saw that the holiday decor was in the front of the storage garage.  The movers must have known that I'd need it, that it would make me happy.

And so it went, with helpers and without.  Even here in Tucson, when it was only the two of us to admire it, I went all out. 

And then FlapJillly came along.  It was much more entertaining to watch follow a toddler through her neighborhood than it was to sit in Tucson, waiting for trick-or-treaters to ring our bell. 

They never did.

Thus began what has become an annual pilgrimage to the Midwest for Halloween.  This has had a serious impact on my need to fit out my environment to suit the seasons. Blithely assuming that it would make a difference, last year I divided up the decorations: Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving.  This year I opened all the boxes because what I wanted could not be found where I thought it ought to be. 

And through it all I repeated a new mantra. Whatever I take out, I have to put away.  I was judicious in my choices.  I don't have much of an emotional attachment to most of what I've been carting around for decades, back and forth across the country.  I feel like I'm on the brink of a New Year's Resolution, something to do with trimming the edges of my living space.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Soothing My Soul

I'm emotionally exhausted. I've emailed Jeff Flake twice today, and I'll go into the office in person tomorrow.  I don't want to think about voices being unheard, about bad behavior - in the hearing room, not 36 year old allegations if you must disbelieve her - and that bad behavior being rewarded, about a frustratingly limited FBI investigation that wasn't much of an investigation at all.  I didn't want to think about it this afternoon, and I don't want to think about it tonight.

So let me share the loveliness of Grandma's Gardeners, who, upon hearing that the irrigation system was the victim of institutional interference (there's a leak somewhere in the middle school field and the water's turned off until it's repaired), happily built a bucket brigade from the water fountain in the cafeteria 
to Grandma's Garden., where,
under the supervision of my newest Garden Leader
they carefully watered the surviving plants.
The watering cans have to be small so they are not too heavy. 
All those big drink cups from Great America and Marine World and Cornell that have been languishing on my gardening shelves at home have finally been put to use.  They fill up quickly, and the kids love the adventure of going in-the-out-door because Grandma Suzi said it's okay.

Did I mention that they were very careful? 
Watching these kids tending tiny growing things warmed the cockles of my heart.  
They really needed warming.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Judge Kavanaugh's 10 year old wanted to pray for the woman.  He said that he was proud of her for that, though his behavior didn't reflect it.  A lot of wisdom from children, he went on.

Today, Garden Club at Prince proved the last part.

A womanly 5th grader, matured earlier than her peers and carrying more weight than looked optimal, was hanging out with me as her classmates carried cups and watering cans from the cafeteria to the garden. She made one run, and that was enough.  We agreed that irrigation without water is less than wonderful, and then she began to talk about bullying.

I'm not sure why, but she did.

She told me that bullies have bad home lives and that's why they act the way they do  She told me that bullies won't grow up to be successful, to be rich, because they have bad attitude.  Sweating and wiping our faces on our shirt sleeves, we pondered the mysteries of why, as I directed the hand irrigation behind her. 

It was a moment.

And then the football thrown by the big, early maturing, raucous, popular  boys, the ones who were going to play on the high school field at 5:30 that afternoon, that football landed squarely in the middle of one of my garden beds. 

You've assassinated my marigold!

They came into the garden, abashed, laughing loudly and nervously, and wondering What is a marigold??  I showed them, breaking off the damaged flower and securing it behind the left ear of one as another gave me a hug and said how sorry they all were.  They moved their game to the other side of the swing set, calling out 'Bye, Grandma!  Sorry, Grandma!

The boys and the marigold were gone, but my smile remained.  And I couldn't help comparing these kids who truly have no connections, who go to an admittedly fabulous but certainly not exclusive or elite school, these multi-ethnic teammates to the picture painted by those who were there of Brett Kavanaugh and his. 

I was very proud of our Prince Scholars today.


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