Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Sunny Summer Weekend in Monterey

It's oxymoronic on its face - there are always clouds and fog and cool ocean breezes in Monterey in the summer.  My backless yellow filmy dress for the reception was aggressively summery... until it was absolutely perfect.

We left Arizona under lowering clouds.  We returned to thunderstorms.  In between, we had nothing but sunshine.  It may have been a little overcast on Saturday morning, but we slept late and had a lovely breakfast and by the time we were ready to venture toward the beach there were clear skies overhead.  After spending Friday afternoon poolside with our books and sunglasses, a second day of brightness was an unexpected pleasure.

The bride and groom certainly deserved it. 

They took care of the entire event.  Calling themselves geographic mutts, their guest list involved travel from Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Boston, California, and points across the Atlantic.  Everyone would have to travel, so the kids chose a place that made them smile, offending everyone and no one at the same time.

It was brilliant.

Big Cuter was in the wedding party; we found one another after his rehearsal dinner, on the terrace at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, for cocktails and dessert.  There's nothing more wonderful than coming upon your child when he is surrounded by people who know him, and love him, and seeing him reflect their feelings, returning them ounce for ounce.  The bride and groom surrounded themselves with important people from their pasts and their presents. For years, stories had been told about people who had never met but felt they'd known one another all along. 

It was certainly that way for the bride and me. I don't know what she's heard about me, but I know a lot about her. She and the groom sat with Big Cuter in January, 2011.  Last year, she and Big Cuter spent a much-storied afternoon wine tasting in Napa, while others were more significantly, albeit no doubt less self-indulgently, engaged.  She's able to keep up her end of any sports conversation.  She writes a terrific Get Well note; one of her Thank You notes is in my permanent collection.  I know where she works and went to school and her address is on the Brownie List. 

Last Friday was the first time we saw one another, live, in the flesh.  I can now add she gives great hugs to the list above.

She and her new husband also invite great guests.  TBG and I spent the afternoon and evening with friends of the groom's parents.  Families needing to sit with families moved the four of us next to one another for the ceremony. TBG and I snagged comfy chairs under a lovely umbrella for cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres; they took the two seats remaining with smiles all around when we realized we were seated at the same table for dinner. 

Big Cuter kept us all supplied with refreshments and back stories and an interesting treatise on Big Law. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last time, that topic came up. They are 20- and 30-somethings, right on the cusp, figuring it out, making five year plans.

But that was only one backdrop to the joining of two lives.  There was the setting, on the green of the fifth hole, and it seems that with only five weddings a year the membership doesn't mind the fact that the fifth hole was closed for a few hours last Saturday, in the late afternoon. 

No members looked askance at the golf carts filled with neckties and heels inappropriate to the terrain.  Spikes work better when they are evenly dispersed along the sole of the shoe.  This is especially true when ambulating on grass. Wedges fared somewhat better, but those of us in flats were feeling fairly smug, I must admit.
I was glad that my mouse shoes, born purchased to assuage the hole in my heart when gunshots separated me from my high heels, had rubber soles, and a strap behind my ankle.  They were as close to sneakers as dress shoes can be, and I've already worn sneakers with that dress.
www.sergiophotographer.com/
The food and wine were chosen with care.  There was something for everyone, from bacon to figs. Stoli and Ketel One and Grey Goose, beers of all hops and malts, Diet Coke and cold sparkling water for those who had to drive. Big Cuter was raving about the vegetables well into the evening; I was focused on the roasted toasted peach nestled next to the greens and the melted cheese. I had peach melba at Sans Souci in 1973; until last Saturday night that had been my standard for cooked fruit. I wish I could package the taste for you, denizens....
 
The bride's gown was everything a bride's gown should be - flattering, with just as much sparkle as she desires, able to withstand vigorous dancing with nary a tug, allowing for the flinging of arms around the necks of parents of friends who are saying goodbye.  The groom held her hand, and we shared a married people moment, and then she was whisked away by the dancing and the love and the music and the love.....
 
Oh, denizens, there was so much love.
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Road Trip

It's not the prettiest part of the desert, nor the pretties part of the Golden State.
Still, it had its moments.
The road is straight and flat, even as it goes up and down for miles 
The crags of Arizona give way to softer hills in California.
The scale of the roads expand, too. 
The trucks are lost in the immenseness and closeness of the hills.
The road steepens,
and the Runaway Truck Ramp signs begin to appear. 


They are on both sides of the road, with blockades where there isn't enough room to slow down.

I'm not sure how effective those metal barrels would be.
There wasn't anything on the other side of that ramp, either.
 
The San Joaquin Valley feeds America.
The greenery is an overwhelming contrast once you come down into the valley.
Trees
and more vines 
 and more trees line the roadside.
 
So does James Dean.
 
There are also oil rigs,
dipping and raising and dipping and raising,
 right there along the side of the road.
Also mesmerizing, not nearly as pretty.
 
Is it boron which turns these mountains white?
We've driven through the 20 Mule Team Borax fields and they have this same color.
Unfortunately, there was nothing on Points of Interest on Uncle Beemer's GPS to explain it.
There are times when I miss the verbiage in AAA Trip Tiks.
 
After another night, we were in Monterrey, on the beach, smelling the salt air.
Needing to appease the tourist gods (aka G'ma and Daddooooo), we drove through Old Monterrey. 
Parts of it are glitzy 
and parts are very old 
and parts have been refurbished
but none of it drew us out of the car.
We were not alone. 
Though it was noon on a sunny Saturday, the streets were sparsely populated and there was parking available in front of every store and attraction.
We'd taken the kids when they were small.
We saw no need to take ourselves now that they are large.
 
After the wedding, we turned around and drove home. 
It looked exactly the same as it did on the way out. 
We even stayed in the same side-of-the-road motel, and ate at the same pizzeria.
The meatball and cheese sub was sublime.
The pizza crust was perfect.
And the music..... how did they know that was what I was doing? 
Celebrating our anniversary with eponymous music.
Life is good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Random Thoughts - The "It's All I Can Muster" Edition

Five days passed in 1600+ miles driven, two parties attended, old friendships renewed and new friendships made, outstanding food at almost every stop, and a thunderstorm to greet us as we pulled into the garage here at home.

I really need to sit outside and breathe some fresh air.  The lightning ionizes the atmosphere and the creosote is pungent and Cousin Brucie is no longer on Sirius radio, tripping over his thoughts in between giving He Who Will Always Be The Driver tunes to hum. 
*****
The driver owns the radio .... and I never drive.  I tried reading on the Kindle, but the power kept running out.

I could rant about paper books not requiring anything but ambient illumination, but the need to recharge the thing gave me time to chat over Chad and Jeremy... who were an improvement over the bubblegum theme... who were a disappointment after Dusty Springfield, my favorite she-should-be-more-famous artist of that era.
*****
Many of the wedding guests had traveled coast to coast for the ceremony on a golf course in Monterrey, California.  For some, it was the first time they'd experienced the vastness of our views here in the west.

TBG and I listened, eavesdropped, agreed with anyone who mentioned it, and always replied the same way: We vacationed here. We lived here. It never gets old.

 Even the air smells better.
*****
I got to put my bare toes in the Pacific Ocean, and to walk along the sandy shore, watching the kayakers learn to paddle synchronously.  Big Cuter remembers kayaking next to the swimming otters and going to the Aquarium when he was but a boy; I wonder if the man remembers how terrified his mother was as those happy furry swimming things tried to avoid my feeble attempts at navigating, showing their teeth and looking much more menacing than they probably were than and certainly are now, in hindsight, as I type the words to you.

I am an honest woman.  I am willing to represent myself fairly, foibles and all. Can you feel me resisting the delete key?
*****
We were hungry when we pulled in and now we are too tired to eat.  There aren't a lot of interesting choices in the refrigerator or the pantry, and the idea of getting back in the car and driving anywhere right now is probably not the kind of thing I ought to suggest to TBG ... remember him... the one who won't share the driving?

I've put the delicates in the sink to soak, unpacked and put away my suitcase, and written to you. 

My work here is done.  There is only one thing to do. 

Nap.

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Vacation

Sorry, denizens. Spotty internet reception, a laptop which even Big Cuter couldn't get to turn on, a wedding anniversary to be celebrated..... suffice it to say that today's post was a victim of circumstances.
 
I'll be back tomorrow. Today, I'm enjoying a road trip with my sweetie, on the first day of the 40th year of our marriage.
 
Wow.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Driving to Cali

Driving for hours, and I wasn’t bored for a moment.  I brought the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle pages and a bright green pen, along with a paperback and my Kindle. I never felt the need for more than the occasional clue.  It’s not the prettiest part of America, but it held my attention for seven hours.

It rained for a while.  TBG and I agreed that new windshield wipers are nearly as wonderful as new tires, and the only thing more wonderful than new tires is that new car smell.  We had it all and we were happy.

We became connoisseurs of road surfaces.  I pretended I was in an off-road vehicle as their tracks across the open space provided the road map for my fantasy.  We had a Coleman cooler filled with ice tea on the floor behind the driver’s seat and my sneakers stowed neatly beneath my own seat.

Mr. I Am Too Nervous To Be Anything But The Driver” mentioned the possibility of my getting behind the wheel, but thus far it’s only been another fantasy.  That’s fine with me. I have no responsibilities except navigation, and with my phone and the car’s user friendly nav system, I can pretty much relax in my chair.  After all, the directions begin by telling us to get on I-10 and continue to California.

We had lunch at Gramma’s Kitchen, right off the highway and the only locally created restaurant along the route.  Aptly named for most of the thoughts occupying my mind, every single bite tasted exactly the way I expected.  The perfect club sandwich, with a crisp pickle and exquisite steak fries in front of me, TBG’s burger had absolutely scrumptious onion rings… and eat local had a whole new meaning as we entered the highway behind a dual-bed-trailer-truck filled to its netted brim and back with fresh, yellow, onions.

California had pockets of congestion, but for some reason they were all headed east as we sped west.  There were no tolls, the speed limit was a mere suggestion, and now we’re relaxing in a corner room on the third floor overlooking a lovely drooping palm’s fronds whose rustling we can hear through the window which opens. California air smells good.

This is a really nice anniversary weekend trip.  Tomorrow we get to see our boy, and friends he’s had for almost half his life.  There will be a wedding and a drive home and then life will pick up a more regular pace.  For now, though, we’re enjoying this end of the summer sojourn.
Driving for hours, and I wasn’t bored for a moment.  I brought the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle pages and a bright green pen, along with a paperback and my Kindle. I never felt the need for more than the occasional clue.  It’s not the prettiest part of America, but it held my attention for seven hours.

It rained for a while.  TBG and I agreed that new windshield wipers are nearly as wonderful as new tires, and the only thing more wonderful than new tires is that new car smell.  We had it all and we were happy.

We became connoisseurs of road surfaces.  I pretended I was in an off-road vehicle as their tracks across the open space provided the road map for my fantasy.  We had a Coleman cooler filled with ice tea on the floor behind the driver’s seat and my sneakers stowed neatly beneath my own seat.

Mr. I Am Too Nervous To Be Anything But The Driver” mentioned the possibility of my getting behind the wheel, but thus far it’s only been another fantasy.  That’s fine with me. I have no responsibilities except navigation, and with my phone and the car’s user friendly nav system, I can pretty much relax in my chair.  After all, the directions begin by telling us to get on I-10 and continue to California.

We had lunch at Gramma’s Kitchen, right off the highway and the only locally created restaurant along the route.  Aptly named for most of the thoughts occupying my mind, every single bite tasted exactly the way I expected.  The perfect club sandwich, with a crisp pickle and exquisite steak fries in front of me, TBG’s burger had absolutely scrumptious onion rings… and eat local had a whole new meaning as we entered the highway behind a dual-bed-trailer-truck filled to its netted brim and back with fresh, yellow, onions.

California had pockets of congestion, but for some reason they were all headed east as we sped west.  There were no tolls, the speed limit was a mere suggestion, and now we’re relaxing in a corner room on the third floor overlooking a lovely drooping palm’s fronds whose rustling we can hear through the window which opens. California air smells good.

This is a really nice anniversary weekend trip.  Tomorrow we get to see our boy, and friends he’s had for almost half his life.  There will be a wedding and a drive home and then life will pick up a more regular pace.  For now, though, we’re enjoying this end of the summer sojourn.
Driving for hours, and I wasn’t bored for a moment.  I brought the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle pages and a bright green pen, along with a paperback and my Kindle. I never felt the need for more than the occasional clue.  It’s not the prettiest part of America, but it held my attention for seven hours.

It rained for a while.  TBG and I agreed that new windshield wipers are nearly as wonderful as new tires, and the only thing more wonderful than new tires is that new car smell.  We had it all and we were happy.

We became connoisseurs of road surfaces.  I pretended I was in an off-road vehicle as their tracks across the open space provided the road map for my fantasy.  We had a Coleman cooler filled with ice tea on the floor behind the driver’s seat and my sneakers stowed neatly beneath my own seat.

Mr. I Am Too Nervous To Be Anything But The Driver” mentioned the possibility of my getting behind the wheel, but thus far it’s only been another fantasy.  That’s fine with me. I have no responsibilities except navigation, and with my phone and the car’s user friendly nav system, I can pretty much relax in my chair.  After all, the directions begin by telling us to get on I-10 and continue to California.

We had lunch at Gramma’s Kitchen, right off the highway and the only locally created restaurant along the route.  Aptly named for most of the thoughts occupying my mind, every single bite tasted exactly the way I expected.  The perfect club sandwich, with a crisp pickle and exquisite steak fries in front of me, TBG’s burger had absolutely scrumptious onion rings… and eat local had a whole new meaning as we entered the highway behind a dual-bed-trailer-truck filled to its netted brim and back with fresh, yellow, onions.

California had pockets of congestion, but for some reason they were all headed east as we sped west.  There were no tolls, the speed limit was a mere suggestion, and now we’re relaxing in a corner room on the third floor overlooking a lovely drooping palm’s fronds whose rustling we can hear through the window which opens. California air smells good.

This is a really nice anniversary weekend trip.  Tomorrow we get to see our boy, and friends he’s had for almost half his life.  There will be a wedding and a drive home and then life will pick up a more regular pace.  For now, though, we’re enjoying this end of the summer sojourn.
Driving for hours, and I wasn’t bored for a moment.  I brought the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle pages and a bright green pen, along with a paperback and my Kindle. I never felt the need for more than the occasional clue.  It’s not the prettiest part of America, but it held my attention for seven hours.

It rained for a while.  TBG and I agreed that new windshield wipers are nearly as wonderful as new tires, and the only thing more wonderful than new tires is that new car smell.  We had it all and we were happy.

We became connoisseurs of road surfaces.  I pretended I was in an off-road vehicle as their tracks across the open space provided the road map for my fantasy.  We had a Coleman cooler filled with ice tea on the floor behind the driver’s seat and my sneakers stowed neatly beneath my own seat.

Mr. I Am Too Nervous To Be Anything But The Driver” mentioned the possibility of my getting behind the wheel, but thus far it’s only been another fantasy.  That’s fine with me. I have no responsibilities except navigation, and with my phone and the car’s user friendly nav system, I can pretty much relax in my chair.  After all, the directions begin by telling us to get on I-10 and continue to California.

We had lunch at Gramma’s Kitchen, right off the highway and the only locally created restaurant along the route.  Aptly named for most of the thoughts occupying my mind, every single bite tasted exactly the way I expected.  The perfect club sandwich, with a crisp pickle and exquisite steak fries in front of me, TBG’s burger had absolutely scrumptious onion rings… and eat local had a whole new meaning as we entered the highway behind a dual-bed-trailer-truck filled to its netted brim and back with fresh, yellow, onions.

California had pockets of congestion, but for some reason they were all headed east as we sped west.  There were no tolls, the speed limit was a mere suggestion, and now we’re relaxing in a corner room on the third floor overlooking a lovely drooping palm’s fronds whose rustling we can hear through the window which opens. California air smells good.

This is a really nice anniversary weekend trip.  Tomorrow we get to see our boy, and friends he’s had for almost half his life.  There will be a wedding and a drive home and then life will pick up a more regular pace.  For now, though, we’re enjoying this end of the summer sojourn.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

On The Road Again

Big Cuter's friends are getting married. TBG and I are the only parents of friends who were invited.  It's an honor we couldn't refuse and so, today, Mr. I Hate Hotels and I are packing and planning for a road trip.

He's got a brand new BMW 435i, dubbed FlapJilly's Uncle Beemer by Little Cuter, which is clean and shiny and ready to roll.  His knee is acting up, he's anxious about travel, and I'm trying to ignore the angst and concentrate on the adventure .... and on the love at the end.

It's been much too long since I've seen my son; I'm looking forward to lots of big hugs and long talks and leisurely walks.  He has no compunctions about straightening my gait and complimenting me when I self-correct; it's physical therapy with lots of love and it makes me very happy.

It's a two day drive to Carmel, the destination wedding's destination.  We cross Arizona, eschewing the no-tell-motels in Quartzite.  On our first drive to Tucson we spent seven miserable hours in the best place we could find, wearing protective clothing on every body part which might touch a surface in the room.  We checked out as the sun rose.  Now, more seasoned travelers on that route, we know to climb The Grapevine and sleep in Valencia.

You can see Valencia from a long way away, because the roller coasters at Six Flags tower over the landscape.  But first, you have to go over The Grapevine. 

Did I mention that TBG and I spent several hours at a rest stop on The Grapevine, watching his overheated brand new Mercedes gasp for air, waiting for the tow truck, going back down into the valley from whence we'd driven only hours before, leaving that car and piling into my little Honda v-tech hatchback ... and sleeping in Valencia?

The California Department of Transportation describes it as 40 miles of concrete, a twisty, curvy eight lane highway that has a dramatic 6% downhill grade terminating at the community of Grapevine.  Google Maps tells us that the village consists mainly of roadside services.  For us, it's a place to pull off and stretch our legs after negotiating the descent from Fort Tejon,  4,183 feet above us. 

Without the 19,000 big rigs Caltrans estimates travels this road daily, it might be lots of fun. The scenery is magnificent, the air is cool and crisp (if it's not raining), and the road surface makes a pleasant hum.  If I ignore the trucks pull out here if brakes fail lanes (they go uphill on the mountain side of the highway and end in giant sand walls), if I close my eyes when we are passed on the left and the right by giant metal boxes, if I can take deep breaths and count on TBG to be the safe and careful driver I know he is, I'm fine.

There are times when the flatness of the Midwest is very appealing.

But I won't be behind the wheel.  Of that we can be certain.  When we drove from Tucson to Chicago I was the pilot for exactly 60 miles .... between one rest stop and the next .... as my most reluctant passenger refused to close his eyes and sleep .... because he couldn't relax with someone else driving.  He drove thousands of miles, without complaint.  I read. I looked out the window.  It worked for us then and it works for us now.

Valencia is a creation of its location.  The frontage road of I-5 is chock-a-block with hotels of every affinity group imaginable.  There are four Marriott brands alone. I'm torn between the free breakfast and WiFi at the Fairfield Inn and the newly renovated rooms at the Courtyard.  Since we'll be traveling through town again on the way home, I suppose I could use both of them. 

Such are the decisions facing me.  They are nice problems to have.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Lincoln Park Zoo

The most fabulous picture I ever took of Big Cuter and The Bride happened there.
They were smiling and looking wide eyed because a pigeon had just pooped into Seret's long, luscious, curly, tangle of hair and I was taking pictures instead of helping her clean it out.
 
Thirty years later, all on my own, I could find the restrooms
still behind the sundial, inside, and down the stairs,
and I could watch the pretty pink birds for as long as I wanted
without having to explain why they have orange feathers
or why I insist that they are pink.
 
I can watch the camels recline 
and admire their grace as they lower themselves, slowly and carefully placing first one hump and then the other on the ground, in the shade
or in a pool of water, clear enough to reflect the sunlight 
and there was no reason to move on until I wanted to see something else.
 
Like the apes' indoor/outdoor habitat.
The indoor part is the white building on the right.
I like the swings and the netting and the greenery outside.
They are magnificent creatures, 
alarmingly like ourselves.
I moved on, unwilling to think deep thoughts.
 
I found a bench next to Hans Christian Andersen
opened a novel, and watched families and lovers and animals on leashes.
 
It was a beautiful afternoon.
 
 
 
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lincoln Park, Revisited

It's my favorite place in my favorite city. 

It was when I moved there in 1973 and it was when I was cruising downtown two weekends ago.  I always find a perfect parking spot.
Charo the Car-O in the first free space across from the old Academy of Sciences.
I'm never disappointed.  I'm usually surprised.  I'm happy with whatever is in front of me ... and there's a lot in front of me.

After lunch with my cousin once removed (thank you, Dr's N for the relationship information), I tried to link up with old friends.  They were, unfortunately for me, on their way to a wedding.  The Realtor wasn't ready to receive me until 5pm.  I had a block of time and no place to go.  The Zoo called my name.

I had my phone/camera, a water bottle, and comfortable shoes.  There's no charge to enter the animal paradise, nor for walking on the
Yes, the murky pond on which The Cuters and I would take paddle boats on lazy summer afternoons is now a nature preserve.


We would rest under the overpass, cooling our sunbaked selves.
Now, there is this:
I took a photo of two little naturalists observing the pond scum, but their parental units were appalled.  I deleted the offending photo, apologized profusely for including their children's backs in my picture, and continued my walk.  Really, there were no identifying markers... only the backs of t-shirts and shorts .... they were a colorful blot in the bottom corner of the photograph.... but I was not out to make anyone uncomfortable.... even myself.
 
I can always count on Chicago to fill my need for thick greenery.  Urbs in Horto is the city's motto, and it certainly is a garden in a city up there on the north side of town.







There were settings for wedding photos, and the sweaty bridal party proved my point.
They were leaving this planted just for them area as I arrived.
Perspiration is not a good look
This metal arch is further into the park, but a prettier venue, I think. 
After following the half mile Nature Trail, I entered the Zoo.
Come back tomorrow for that part of my adventure.

The Abdication of Responsibility

I admit that I never heard the hoopla.  I'm catching up well after the fact.  Perhaps that's a good thing; initial reports so often are fast and inaccurate.  Still, it was a bit disconcerting to find out how much I had missed.

No, Brother informed me, Ferguson was not a person.

Rather, it was a town in turmoil.  I'd been in total baby mode; the news which interested me was related to a seven pound human.  If it wasn't FJ-centric, I didn't notice it.  The kids, used to catching up on current events on their phones, never had the news on the television. Newspapers are an anachronism in their suburban neighborhood.  I listened to country music on their XM radio in the car.  I was cut off.  I didn't care.

Then, the kids went out on a post-baby-first-date.  Brother and I were providing child care; once FJ fell asleep and the left-over pizza was boxed up in the refrigerator, I put Daddooooo's favorite talking head, Gwen Ifill, on the screen.

Forty minutes later, I stopped listening and began fuming.

I listened to talking heads debate the merits of reallocating Iraq war machines to local police departments. Free toys for big boys.... what else will we do with them... they are frightening in a ring city outside St. Louis ... I still didn't know what all the fuss was about.  They'd moved on to analysis.  I was in search of facts.

So, I surfed the interwebs.  I found video of a big guy pushing a little guy.  I read his name has not been released on the scroll beneath the video of young people walking with their arms upraised, in surrender. Their faces did not reflect the passivity of their poses.  I went to The Times of London's coverage, hoping that distance would bring perspective.

I went searching for information, for something upon which to base an opinion.  I could feel the outrage.  I could imagine the fear.  I agreed with Brenda Starr that The Media and The Police and The Protesters were figments of the public imagination, that each broad category was made up of distinct individuals, that painting a picture with a broad brush was unfortunate, insulting, and lazy behavior.  I'm making her stance more stridently than she did.  By the time I got to her post on Facebook, my brains were exploding.

No one could tell me what happened.  The crime scene was destroyed.  Public officials were opaque in their statements.  The shining light in all of this, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson, left me, for a moment or two, with a smile.  He took responsibility.  He apologized.  He worked the crowd.  He was one of them. Those were facts I could hold onto.

And then I found another fact.  The Ferguson Public Schools are now unaccredited.  It just happened and it was coming for a while and it's been happening in a number of districts around St. Louis and those are all facts but what really got me was what it said to the kids and what it said about the grown ups.

I can't imagine that happening when parents are involved.  I cannot imagine a situation where the education offered by a public school district and accepted by the families who attend does not meet the basic standards set by the state... and where, unlike Arizona's policy that, as Brenda Starr opined over omelettes this morning, allows you to open a charter school in an abandoned Dunkin Donut shop, those options are not as easily attainable ... and where surrounding districts have the option to refuse students whose parents are invested enough to try an inter-district transfer.

If we treat kids like trash, how dare we expect them to shine as adults.

If we don't provide the basics, the things we watch Sally Struthers cry about with third world babies crawling at her feet, if we are so inured to the inevitability of poverty and rage without looking at the most basic underpinnings, if we can't send them into the future with the tools they need to survive, then I don't see how we can complain when they act out.

I hate that this is the fact I found.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Girls

They are asleep on the couch.  Brother and SIR are watching the Cubs lose to the Brewers, I'm typing to you, Thomas the Wonder Dog is sleeping in the sunshine, and the stars of the show are out for the count.

It's an exhausting time.  Little Cuter likes her rest and she's not getting very much of it these days.  She's typically in bed by 9:30 at night.  That seems to be when FlapJilly decides it's time to boogie.  She's not a cranky baby, she's just awake and alert and ready to enjoy human interactions.

Unfortunately, her paternal adult human has to leave for work by 7:30 in the morning, and her maternal adult human does not do well when operating on fumes.  Enter Grandma.

It took them a while to recognize the value of an adult who was in the house and willing to hold a squirming infant at 4 a.m.  In the beginning, I was responsible for keeping Thomas calm and peaceful and far away from the she-finally-fell-asleep child.  That was complicated by the thunder and lightning which punctuated most of FlapJilly's first week of life.  He's a scared beast, cowering and barking and shivering in terror.  These behaviors are not conducive to continued slumber.

"Never wake a sleeping baby" is one piece of advice I felt comfortable giving.  Now that she is eating so well and gaining weight so rapidly, there is no reason to rouse her and feed her.  She's making her own schedule.  Unfortunately, that schedule does not align with that of her grown-ups.  

My plan was always to be the backstop.  I'd hold the baby while her mom showered, or napped, or pruned the hydrangea.  They didn't have to worry about me; I was storing up memories for the days and weeks between my visits.  I promised that I would nap when I could, that I would ask for time off if I needed it, that I would not overdo.

I've held up my end of the bargain.  They had a hard time relinquishing their squishy love bug.  She's so delicious.  They didn't want to wake me.  But, after a night or two of intermittent cat naps followed by an early morning wake up call, SIR was beginning to look green in the gills.  And so, a few days ago, there was a tentative knock on my door.  

My girl was holding her girl, several bottles of breast milk, diapers, wipes and a swaddling blanket. Would I take her?  

Yes.

She was alert, awake, and ready to listen to me.  I sang her her very own songs, thanking Frank Loesser for loving her name as much as we do.  I recited Mother Goose.  I told her a revisionist version of Rapunzel, where the crafty prisoner climbs down her own hair and saves herself.  I put her between the safety of my bowed legs and lay back, closing my eyes while she dozed.  She wasn't rolling anywhere that I couldn't feel first.  

It was heavenly.

She awoke and I fed her and we burped together.  A new diaper made her much less fussy and then we were back to singing and talking and planning all the trouble we'll get into once she's more of a participant and less of a curiosity.  The hours passed.  We nodded off, then awoke to find one another.

Did I mention that it was wonderful?

By the time my girl was ready to greet the day, it was 10 am.  She'd showered and dressed and was standing in my doorway, wondering if the rest of us were ready to play.

There's not very much I can do to smooth the wrinkles of early parenthood.  It's nice that one of those things brings me so much joy.  Now, it's time to finish dusting and folding the laundry and vacuum the house before I get on a plane home.  

I hope they can manage without me.... and that I can manage without them.

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