Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
(next: Chapter 3 The Main Event)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I'm definitely not worrying about my bags any more.
When I was a little girl, my all-time-very-favorite thing was to pile into Daddooooo's car and get Carvel. I can feel the dopamine rush just typing about it. The taste, the sounds, the whole idea of being outside at night..... this Reunion was really turning out to be a blast from the past.
We were doing a whole lot of smiling when we fell, exhausted, onto our really comfortable beds. No wake up call, no plans til 7 the next night, and a really good friend within hugging distance. Life is good
Walked the High Line and watched as MTF offered to "take a picture of both of you" every 50 feet or so.
The High Line wasn't much of a work-out, so we continued downtown through the Meat Packing District
In Greenwich Village, the grid of mid-town vanishes into an Alice-in-Wonderland maze of teeny streets lined with cupcake stores and apartments to rent and S&M boutiques and more Halloween decorations than I'd ever seen in an urban area.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
OK, I suppose it wasn't as big a deal as the Northwest pilots who were surfing the web while flying over Minnesota, but we had our own travel snafu in NYC on Monday.
We'd wandered down to South Street Seaport, munching on hot pretzels and Sabrett hot dogs along the way. We'd shopped and looked at Trinity Church's graveyard and the hole in the ground that used to be the World Trade Center and we were ready to be reminded that Manhattan is really an island - we needed to see the water. Watching the river flow, drinking a beer, listening to a high school band play music from the 1940's..... we were definitely in New York.
Exhausted, we opted for the subway instead of walking back to the hotel. Found the station and asked the MTA men behind their bullet-proof windows for the proper train to take. It took the first guy several tries - he forgot to turn on the microphone, he didn't speak into his speaker phone, he spoke so quietly we couldn't hear, and his accent was so thick it was indecipherable. We went to the other window and asked our question again. "That would be the C train, downstairs."
A fellow traveller standing behind us said "the C????" but we thought the MTA guys knew what they were talking about so downstairs we went. Got on the C train and ended up in Brooklyn.
Exited at the first station and found a lovely transit cop who came out of her booth, shared her map, gave us detailed directions and agreed that we had been mis-informed. Got back on the C train to Nassau Street and tried again. Took the 4 to 14th Street, crossed the platform, took the 6 (a local) to 28th and Lex and there we were, across from the Park South.
I'm sending my ticket and a copy of this post to the MTA. We spoke English. We spoke clearly. We were certain of our destination. We were not rude. And we were given BAD AWFUL WRONG directions.
We want our money back.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
A little bit about me, at least as is relevant to this post: I’m an avid, nay, rabid football fan. I care way too much about the success of my beloved San Francisco 49ers. I jokingly, but with far too much seriousness, state that half of my t-shirts are 9ers (the other half are Georgetown). I’ve created detailed booklets** explaining the basics and not-so-basics of football to initiate the uninitiated into the game. I’m currently retired on a 3 year winning streak in Madden football. When I hear Cris Collinsworth say, “the quarterback recognized that the Sam linebacker was going to blitz up the A-gap, shifted his protection and audibled to a hot route from his X receiver to exploit the gap in the defense’s zone”, I not only know what he’s saying, but normally can see it happen as the play develops. No, I’ve never played football on any level beyond flag (thanks mom), but I’m about as big of an expert as most people reading this blog are likely to know/meet/read.
With my bona fides hopefully established I would like to move to the topic of this post: how do we evaluate quarterbacks – subtitled, why Peyton Manning is far superior to Brett Favre.
**Due to certain posting limitations, one cannot attach a powerpoint presentation to one's blog. If you would like to view the "booklet" that the Big Cuter has put together (and trust me- it's worth a gander) please leave a comment below and we can arrange a way to email it over. -- Victoria/ Little Cuter
Monday, October 26, 2009
I never thought much about the fact that we knew the families that owned the department store or the delicatessen or the shoe store. G'ma was PTA President and was friends with the town librarians and everyone knew what time the Good Humor truck came down each street. After living in big cities, I recognize just how special that was.
Chicago is a collection of towns which make up a city. Neighborhoods are defined and serve that function quite nicely. You know your local shops and your mail carrier and the ward workers the way you do in a town. But you're part of a bigger entity, and that changes everything.
The aspens were quaking higher up on the path, but Amster had work to do in the afternoon so we took Fat Man's Loop at a brisk pace, stopping for me to record the colors
and catch my breath. The air is a lot thinner at 7000' and endurance sports have never been my forte. I know the hike was only 2 miles but we seemed to have taken the steeper way around the loop - or so said the other hikers we encountered ..... all of whom were going the other way.
Back in town, we had delicious albondigas (we may be in the mountains, but it's still Arizona, and Mexican influences are never far from the table) at Charly's in the Hotel Weatherford and then Amster went to her deposition and I began to shop. I wanted everything. I wandered from shop to shop, stopping back at The Schnozz in the underground garage to drop off my parcels from time to time. Within a 2 square block area I was able to make a serious dent in my holiday gift accumulation, and everyone was happy to see me. It was mid-week, but the shops were busy. There was a nice college-kid buzz in the air, but it wasn't overwhelming. The Seasoned Kitchen's owner told me that most of his business was locals, not tourists. That's nice to hear.
The whole shopping thing was getting to me - why didn't Tucson have something like this? I decided to put the credit cards down and finish my last Lynda LaPlante novel on a bench in the amphitheatre.
A very gracious aging hippie asked if I would allow him to play his disco music on his boom box. Two moms and their 4th graders licked ice cream cones. A police officer strolled by and smiled. Change the boom box for a fiddle and it might have been 1899.
I got cold after a while, and strolled over towards Amster's meeting. Right across the street was the first post office established in Flag (I'd been there long enough to consider myself on a first-name basis by then) and the best light pole I've ever seen.
Just look at it, sitting there on that great base, sturdy, solid, attractive and not going anywhere anytime soon.
Just like the town.
Friday, October 23, 2009
On A**holes and Writer’s Block
If Kurt Vonnegut can publish a sketch of an a**hole in his novel Breakfast of Champions and still be revered by so many, what on earth do I have to be so intimidated about?
You see, what I had forgotten in my years after college, in the years removed from creative writing and over-analyzing for credit is that anyone can write anything, can say anything, and can express any opinion, as long as they can put enough words behind it to back themselves up. Talk long enough and someone is bound to believe you, all you have to do is participate. The filibuster works for a reason, people, and the daily grind of life, work, bills, and so-called grown-up-nitude (la-scope-la-glator) had numbed my ability to just express my creative self publicly. I had completely forgotten how to breathe, smile, lean back, put my hands behind my head and just share.
There are mental exercises that the FDA tells you can ward off dementia, and I practice them daily. I remind myself of my list of things to do, I play scrabble, I learn new words, new phrases and file them away in the “in order to appear intellectual to the masses” folder in my brain for later use. But one thing I have let fall by the wayside, a very important thing I just realized, is how important it is to exercise creative expression on a more regular basis. I am not an artist, can barely draw a stick figure, I’ve dabbled but never excelled in photography, but I used to be a damn good literary analytical student. But in these few years since college, I’ve completely stopped practicing. There are college counselors prepared to guide you through your major, guidance counselors prepared to walk you through your school-fueled emotional crisis, but there is no one there once you are finished with all the classroom learning to remind you to keep it up.
An epiphany that is years in the making, that perhaps I had because all of my education really did do its job, is that it’s not about who you can quote at a cocktail party (or that you knew to write “who” instead of “whom” on your guest blog). Instead the point of all of that time spent “learning” was not about the facts, but what you learned about yourself, and how to express it in a healthy forum.
That is why what Ashleigh is doing here is so important. She is exposing a side of herself that lay dormant for years. She is sharing opinions, thoughts, stories, and experiences that otherwise would fade gradually with time. By putting her words out in the world, by publishing them for actual human people to read she is showing us all that it is OK to keep growing, to keep sharing, to keep leaning back in your chair and smile, knowing that you’ve opened up a door in someone else’s conscious and participated in learning.
And look what she’s done for me. By encouraging me to share she has knocked the dust off the piles of education in my brain and forced me to get over my writer’s block. All it took was a little pressure, and a sketch of an a**hole.
1. http://theimpossiblecool.tumblr.com/ 10/21/09
2. http://vonnegutsa**hole.blogspot.com/2007/04/authors-and-their-a**holes-day-one.html (edited for content by me 10/21/09)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
But all in all, it's been a tough Fall in the ground for the newbies. I really have to get to work on the irrigation system. I'm just not diligent enough, and the flora are feeling it.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I could write my thoughts in a diary, but I don't. Keeping a record of myself for myself always seemed self-indulgent. Talking to you through the Burrow is more connected, and more rewarding, than Dear Me, could ever be.
In doing so, I'm trying to take on my piece of the process in other places in the 'sphere. I've been commenting and reading the other blogs posted by Blogher in my sidebar (except for the cat people..... sorry, but even I have my limits.....) and following my favorites. And that's how I found PROMPTuesday. If you don't want to click through and read about her (of course) adorable children before you get to the point I'm trying to make, just read this: Compose approximately 150 words in 10 minutes using the following prompt. Post it or link it to your blog.
Victoria, my business manager/daughter/Little Cuter's pseudonymous alter-ego, submitted a post to Five Star Friday last month, and it was selected as one of the 23 best entries of the week. After basking in the glory, I began to realize that I had not sumitted a paper for review in 35 or so years. Not bad, I thought, getting an "A" on my first try! I lived on that for a while, but the itch kept growing.
Then I stumbled upon this. And I decided to try it. It's probably a bit over the top, but it's supposed to be "top-of-mind, primal thinking before the ego and judgmental brain kicks in."
Anyway, the goal is "to make writing fun again" and I enjoyed doing it. Why don't you try it, too?? What do you have to lose??
PROMPT: Please tell a story about this cave :
They sat enraptured, enthralled, engrossed, engaged, dancing in their minds with the shadows. Leaping, lurking, lounging, laughing the images moved in a steady stream. Seeing themselves or others or no one at all doing something or nothing or everything and they watched. Imagined and projected and ruminated and looked but never thought. Never examined. Never gazed within.
Didn't wonder about the source of the light. Or what it might mean. There was no meaning. There were only shadows, misty murky ephemera wandering in and out of their consciousness.
Without wanting or needing or deciding that participation might be possible, they looked forward, at the prancing dancing silhouettes on the wall of the cave around them. And they sat.
Knowing that they were alive. Unaware that they were merely sitting, while living was just a few feet away. If they would only turn around.
(With thanks to Plato and Socrates for the idea.... and to the Big Cuter for explaining it to me so well. It's nice when those dollars for an undergraduate education come back to wrap their arms around you and give you a great big hug.)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
From a phone call: "You should have guest posts when you're out of town." "Why don't you write one?" "I'm not ready to share."
The immediacy of the blogosphere is intimidating, it's true. Put it out and there it stays, to be read by anyone and everyone whether you know them or not. Probably not. No, most definitely not. 77 people read the Burrow last week - do you know 76 others who've been here? (Of course, if you tell them how wonderful it is, then maybe you will, but for now, I'm dealing in reality.)
I've been commenting on other blogs for the last few weeks. Actually, Ashleigh Burroughs has been commenting, and I've been watching her do it. The assumption of another persona has been the only way I could muster the courage to write to you every day. A well-respected-friend told me that, in her classroom, it would be said that I have "a voice". I bask in the compliment, but it's Ashleigh who deserves the kudos.
Sure, sure, they are my fingers on the keyboard but are they my thoughts or Ashleigh's? I wasn't brave enough to blog; she was. Is. Continues to be, as I wonder why I rest comfortably behind her facade.
These musings are the stuff of my daily conversations and emails and ruminations. They are my truths, and I stand behind them all. Yet I have a hard time - ok, an impossible time - typing them under my own name.
So I understand your reluctance to post comments or write a guest blog. Here's a suggestion that's worked for me in bowling. Perhaps it will work for you in writing. If you bowl poorly, just change your name. No need to be Kathy or Jenny when Cookie or Peaches is just waiting to show you the way.
Take it from Ashleigh.... it works for us.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Apparently, everyone but Amster and I did.
But now we are initiated, and I wonder if we will ever go back.
Here's how it started: 18 months ago, TBG was recruited to be on a mock jury for one of Amster's trials. He spent a marvelous full day listening to arguments and then participating in deliberations with a real cross-section of Tucson's population. At the end, he was rewarded with many thanks and a crisp, new $50 bill.
He came home to my Harriet Housewife incarnation : chairs were on tables, rugs were rolled up, ottomans were resting on couches as the floor was being mopped to within an inch of its life. The kitchen counters were sparkling, the stainless steel appliances had nary a hand print nor a streak, the fallen french fries had been removed from the oven's floor, the bed linens were fresh and the bathrooms were gleaming. I had been busy, and I looked it. Bedraggled and sweaty, my manicure destroyed, I leaned on the mop handle and said "Hi". Without skipping a beat, my favorite husband reached into his wallet, took out the fifty, and handed it to me with a flourish. "You earned this more than I did, today."
This was the first money I'd earned since the Big Cuter was born 26 years ago. It deserved to be spent wisely. I placed it carefully in the top drawer of my vanity table and began to cogitate.
Laughing with Amster over weights at the gym the next morning, we tested and rejected many uses before we hit upon exactly the right place to spend my windfall - we'd invest in jeans. Our work-outs were going well, our bodies were responding appropriately, and if we waited til our birthdays we could even justify the expenditure as self-gifting (a concept near and dear to my heart). We had a plan.
But by the time winter was ending and our birthdays were arriving, the temperatures here in the desert Southwest precluded the wearing of anything heavier than corduroy shorts. There was no reason to buy the jeans and have them sit in the closet until the weather cooperated with our new purchases, so we waited. And we procrastinated. And we got busy. And life interfered, and with it our shapes changed again. So we hit the weight room with renewed energy this summer and (she) began cross-training and (I) concentrated on aerobics and then the perfect time arrived: my reunion.
I'd decided on the outfit for the event itself, but I'm going to be in New York City for 6 days, and fancy jeans will be the perfect thing to pack. So, off to Loop we went.
We were the only patrons, at first. One salesman, two women and two dressing rooms. Seemed like it would be a quick and easy experience. Not.
I had a vague recollection of the Little Cuter telling me I'd be there for a while, trying on all the brands until I found the perfect pair. "Have fun with it, Mom!" I tried, but it was scary.
Who knew there would be an interview before we were allowed to begin trying them on? Low rise.... mid-rise... boot cut... boyfriend jeans ..... dark wash.... flap-pockets.... whiskering (?!?).... distressed.... stitching.... embroidery..... Amster and I were caught in a fashion tsunami.
Wranglers. Levis. Gap. These were the designers I knew. Simple, single names that didn't confuse me. Did we like 8 for the People, or something like that? I shrugged at Amster, she shrugged at me and then she rescued us by announcing "We don't speak 'cool'". Ted got the hint. He handed us each a stack, and sent us into the dressing rooms to try on and show him every pair, whether we liked them or not.
In and out we trotted, turning, discussing, rejecting, approving, suggesting, questioning and trotting, once again, back into the dressing room for more. And more. And then some more. It never ended. I'd bring out three rejected pairs and be presented with 5 more options. I rolled up my sleeves and I sweated. This was hard work.
I've always let life tear up my jeans, and I don't understand the need to purchase something that is pre-ripped. Like my wrinkles, I've earned every one of the holes in the knees and the seats and I love them all. All the "distressed" options were thus removed from consideration.
Embroidery and obvious stitching were also non-starters. I'm a short person and I was going for a long look; there would be no distractions on these pants. One solid straight line from hips to heels, elongating mightily on the way. Ashleigh Burroughs is tall and willowy with legs that don't stop; the body which will be attending the reunion shares with her literary counterpart only the fact of having legs. I'm taking all the height-help I can get.
Did I want to struggle to latch and unlatch the obviously very cool but impossible to grasp - literally and figuratively- clasp? Did I like the hardware? How did the back pocket look? Were they comfortable? Suddenly, the entire purpose of blue jeans was being called into question -- aren't they supposed to be comfortable by definition ???
But the store was getting crowded and Heather and her boy-toy wanted to check out, so I put off my existential musings. Figuring that Heather had obviously shopped there before, since she was nodding sagely as Ted was pinning and selecting and dismissing and suggesting, her opinion was sought and received and agreed with mine and I bought the damn pants. By that point, I think I'd have agreed with anything just to have it be over with. My brain was awash in a sea of denim.
I'd always worn jeans to blend into the crowd. They go everywhere, here in Tucson and on Madison Avenue. As long as my other garments were sufficient, I never worried if I had blue jeans on the bottom. And my criteria for choosing them were simple - inexpensive and comfy and not ugly. Having spent the better part of an hour being schooled on the finer points of wearing my default clothing, however, I realize that time has definitely passed me by.
I remember taking a 4 year old Little Cuter into our favorite sandwich shop on Webster in Chicago (it's a fancy shoe store now, but that's another story...) and being snickered at by two middle school girls sitting at the first table. "Can you believe she is wearing blue jeans???" "She's so old." I turned and smiled sweetly and told them that I'd been wearing blue jeans since before they were born and that my generation had virtually invented the genre and they were wearing my fashion statement and ....... at that point, if she'd been a few years older, the Little Cuter would have dragged my ranting self away from them. As it was, the tirade sputtered and we ate our tuna.
Now, though, I begin to wonder if jeans have passed me by. People of all sizes, shapes, ages and colors were in and out of the store as we fine tuned our purchases. None of them were surprised at the prices nor at the depth and breadth of the selection. A woman "just back from eating myself across Europe" bought a pair of "fat pants" until she could lose her vacation weight. $200 fat pants? What ever happened to sweatpants and the gym? Somehow I don't believe in her determination to slim down. Or maybe she has a range of sizes of expensive jeans?
Expensive jeans. It even looks oxymoronic. What happened to me?? Where is the grounded, sane woman who knows value and refuses to be swayed by the tides of fashion? I'm lost, I fear, lost and drowning in .....
Oh, enough already. All that is true, but I just picked them up and tried them on I have to say that they look pretty good.
Yes, G'ma would be appalled, but THAT's the view you get. Because, as Ted reminded us, "It's all about the butt."
Friday, October 16, 2009
I bet you went to a lot of other places in your mind before you got to clothes for the party, didn't you?
Well, I didn't. In fact, I'm just back from checking to see whether my Yearbook will fit into the purse I've tentatively decided upon. It does.
What with President Obama being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace when Arizona State University didn't think he deserved an honorary degree last spring, I wonder that anything could surprise you. So I hope that you won't think me trivial when I say that this is, in fact, an important question.
It is also a question that everyone is reluctant to ask. I, however, have no boundaries between my brain and my mouth, so I've been asking everyone. "How dressed up are you getting?" is how I phrase it, and the responses have been uniform - everyone laughs. Giggles on the phone and LOL on Facebook messages and behind every smile I am also detecting (projecting???) a sigh of relief. Finally, we'll decide on the answer.
Because there really isn't an answer. Lunch at a fancy Upper East Side restaurant, then an after party up the street where the dress code is casual but neat. Now, I can definitely do "neat". Casual is an interesting term.
TBG and I once received a gorgeous printed invitation to a dinner that requested "dressy casual attire." This sounded like jumbo shrimp and military intelligence - oxymoronic and confusing. Turns out they didn't want a certain contingent to show up in t-shirts, so they couldn't just say "casual", and they weren't requiring suits and ties, so they didn't say "dressy." Clues would've been helpful.
I have my standard black silk skirt (or black wool pants) and a white silk blouse. My fashion-consultant-playgroup-mom friend told me decades ago that this would take me everywhere, and she was absolutely right. Proof of this is the fact that every woman to whom I posed this question included, in her list of possible outfits, a pair of black pants and a nice blouse. The brains-behind-it-all-organizer-classmate even sent an email saying that that's what she'd be wearing.
But this is 2009, not 1967 and I don't think I really want to blend in that much. I'm comfortable in my own skin, and I dress like it. I had no idea that it was possible to spend $200 on a pair of blue jeans until a niece let me in on the secret. Most of my wardrobe is hand-me-downs from my boys. Discarded polo shirts and flannel shirts and gym shorts and sweat shirts fill my closet. One of my favorite parts of the Hileman Holiday Celebration Tour is the pile of rejected-by-them-and-adopted-by-me clothes at the edge of my chair after we've finished opening presents. Oversized is just fine, thank you. I'm comfy. I try to stay away from sloppy; relaxed would be an appropriate adjective.
Living in the desert Southwest gives me certain sartorial privileges, and wearing cowboy boots is one of those perks. I'm not a poseur; I wear them around town the way a New Yorker would wear Chucks. They're comfy and they make a statement. I have a few pair from which to choose (it makes TBG happy to buy them for me, and who am I to refuse????) so I've moved on to the shirt decision.
Definitely tucking it in since I have the perfect belt. Black, dark green, taupe..... I have a collection of great silk blouses that are good looking and classic. They all tuck in. But what about the Nat Nast shirt as a jacket-type-thing with that fabulous J Peterman sleeveless light wool shell (which I bought at the only J Peterman store I'd ever seen, and where is J Peterman these days?)? It got great reviews at the rehearsal dinner last month. Or what about the crocheted sweater and the tea length skirt with ballet flats? I have a trendy short shirtwaist I bought at American Apparel, but I don't want to dress "too young" this time. This, even though the two 20-somethings in the store stopped and complimented me as I was trying it on and dismissed my "Isn't it too young for me?" with "No waaaay" in harmony. Still, nothing that gives me even a second's hesitation is going on the short list.
But as I said, there's no right answer. As long as a group of us agree, then we're fine.
When did it get this easy to be the one setting the rules? Was it always this easy and I just didn't know? Did I improve or is it just old age?
Whatever....... I'm liking it a lot.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
There's a peacefulness that comes over the garden as the sun sits low in the sky. I could feel the earth relaxing as I carved out new homes for my treasures. There were lots of snake holes, especially around the space I'd reserved for the Rhyolite bush, but I decided that I wasn't going to worry about that. I'd consider them participants in the project as they aerated the soil through which the Crossosoma bigelovii could shoot its roots.
The two yuccas - schottii and torreyi - are guarding the walkway to the little garden gate.
They are a nice complement to the hesperaloes I planted last year along the same berm.
The tender shoots that are emerging after the fauna gorging it endured are a testament to the strength of native plants. They're used to this happening to them, and they perservere through the adversity. I'm sure there's a deeper meaning to be found in this, but I'm just wondering where to send the memo to my resident fauna --- leave my flora ALONE!!!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
So, when I landed on Mythbusters TBG couldn't really protest. Once again, my inner nerd had triumphed. Turns out that the Big Cuter was watching the same episode, so there was also the bonding piece. And it was fun.
There were two myths tested, one silly and one profound. I loved them both. Kari and Grant and Tory tried to see if they could "knock your socks off" in a series of more and more absurd experiments culminating in 500 pounds of explosives blowing mannequin legs to smithereens. In fact, you cannot get blown out of your socks and live to tell the tale. "OMG there's a foot in it" was only one of Kari's finds after the test.
Adam and Jamie, on the other hand, aimed to devise an experiment that would prove that two bullets, one dropped and one shot but both released from the same height, would reach their target at the same. They wanted to do the releases at once rather than testing the firing first and then the drop. There was some faux drama ("...and we had to build it fast".... what was the urgency?.... was there a sudden need to know the answer? was the family coming home from Disneyworld to an unfinished experiment?) but mostly we watched them build stuff.
There had to be a release mechanism for the drop and a platform for the shooting. Pre-tests were conducted, brows were furrowed, but all along you knew that they'd come up with something totally cool and unexpected. And, of course, they did.
When Mythbusters' ultimate solution involved a clip, some rope, and a lot of imagination I could just about see Daddooooo on Jamie's shoulder, nodding, his lower lip pursed and his eyebrows raised in surprise, ready to bestow his ultimate compliment : "This guy is a good mechanic."
The Cuters knew that bringing me their broken toys, with sorrowful but hopeful eyes, would mean that their treasures would be packaged and shipped to Long Island. There, as long as it wasn't plastic, Daddooooo and his workshop would make it right. It might not be quite as beautiful as it once was - repairs often involved neon orange duct tape or red nail polish - but it would be "in good working order."
When Adam hopped on his unicycle for the trip to the other end of the experiment, I went to Daddooooo on my old 1-speed non-Schwinn bike, pedaling towards the high school, following the string of the kite that "had to be somewhere..... just gimme a minute....."
Too bad they never met - these guys would really have liked my Dad.
Daddooooo would have been 93 today. Happy Birthday, Herb !
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
One more cute kid and a dog story. Short and sweet and perfect.
Exactly how I feel about gardening. Beautiful photos:
This is real writing. I try my best and I aim to please, but Laurie White is an artist. This one is a bit longer than the other two, and requires your brain to be engaged. Go for it; you'll be glad you did:
Hope you liked them. Leave a comment and let me (and them) know what you thought. That is, after all, one of the pleasant distinctions between blogging and newspaper-column-writing : with blogging, you can be a part of it, too.
Monday, October 12, 2009
It really is Columbus Day. Chris and his fleet landed at a place he named San Salvador on October 12, 1492. Of course, that was according to the Julian Calendar. In 1582, a papal bull (and what an image that conjures in the brain) restructured the concept of the leap year and named the new calendar after the Pope himself. Suddenly, La Nina and La Pinta and La Santa Maria had landed 9 days later, on October 21st, Gregorian time. Adding 3 days every 4 centuries doesn't seem like a big difference, but try telling that to Columbus. Someone must have agreed with me on this, since we celebrate his arrival on the Julian date. I love it when things that shouldn't change don't change.
And that's why I'm smiling about today being Columbus Day. Because, in actuality, Columbus Day is now celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October, regardless of the date. That's just wrong. Totally and completetly unacceptable. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th, George Washington was born on February 22nd. Neither of them was born on the 3rd Monday in February... or at least not every year on the 3rd Monday in February. Holiday-declarers need to get with the program. Certain things should not be messed with.
But today is October 12th. And it's Columbus Day. And all is right with the world.
I've always like Columbus Day, because it's not a birthday party. It's the celebration of an event. Being born isn't anything to congratulate the infant about. If we had pictures of Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Washington there would be reason to say "Nicely Done, Ma'am". The babies really didn't do much at all. Columbus, on the other hand, sailed across the flat world to find a faster route to India's spices. Though his math was a little shaky, and he really wasn't in India at all, he found the Bahama (which had been doing very nicely without him except for just a little bit of internecine warfare) and laid the groundwork for the casinos at Atlantis.
No one expects you to be at her house for dinner on Columbus Day. You don't have to eat special foods or dress in any particular color. You might not have to work (it's a Federal Holiday) and there's probably a raft of politicians marching down the main street of the nearest major metropolis.
You can avoid the political controversy over the whole celebration because, really, if you stop to think about it, there was no way that all of Europe was going to stay on their side of the pond forever. Globalization was bound to happen. I'm sure the indigenous population had their own word for Columbus's intrusion, but that's what it was. As a result of a search for financial advantage, the Americas were introduced to Europe. I'll leave the would they have been better off remaining un-found to those with more interest in navel gazing than I have. It's a moot point. The world is and was and always will be a series of interdependent spheres. It's only the access points which change. (Need an example? Go to Erie, Pennsylvania and see the results of progress.)
Columbus Day is a holiday without stricture, without structure, without musts, shoulds or oughts. It is a break from school when you can go apple picking or clothes shopping or jump in the leaves. You can hike or take the kids to a museum or just clean your closets, all while enjoying an official holiday.
Friday, October 9, 2009
I really hope they recycle at the White House. Otherwise, they're setting a very bad example for our nation.
In another conversation on Afghanistan this afternoon, Campbell Brown couldn't believe that the President was "considering separating the Taliban and al Quaeda. I mean, can you do that?" Um.... yes, Campbell. One is a repressive, hateful-to-women political force with no ambitions beyond its own borders. The other is a terrorist organization with a world-wide vision and no mainstream political ambitions. Al Quaeda isn't running candidates in elections; the Taliban were the ruling party in Afghanistan for many long terrible years. If I know that how can she not know it? Didn't she read Kite Runner?
It's one thing to think that Americans in general are woefully out of touch with the nuances of foreign policy. We're separated by an ocean, we only speak English, we're bigger and better and we know it so why bother. I get it. But she's a television journalist. She's paid to provide insight or at least to prompt her guests to provide it. Mr. McCarthy was wrong in 8th grade social studies when he told us "There are no stupid questions." That was a stupid question.
General McChrystal is talking about Afghanistan, too. Agree or disagree, that's fine. But you're in the military and that's all about chain of command. Shades of MacArthur and Truman, only Obama hired this guy himself. He said he wanted "new thinking" when he replaced General David McKiernan, and it looks like he got it.
The Big Cuter and I were talking about Afghanistan last night. Had his Special Ops friend returned? I've been ever grateful that my boy resisted the temptation to serve his country by putting his body at risk. I'd have been proud of him, for sure. But like his Special Ops' mother, I wouldn't have slept starting from the exact moment he enlisted. It's a land war in Asia; haven't they seen Princess Bride?
And I've been thinking about Afghanistan. There can be plans and strategies and sorties and drones and boots on the ground and better intelligence and we still won't win. It's not that I don't hold our military in high regard. It's just that it's been tried before. The Russians failed. We've been there for 8 years. And, for an historical perspective, Alexander the Great conquered just about everyplace that he knew about except Afghanistan. He stayed there for three years (Iran took him about 6 months) and finally agreed to leave when his troops told him that they were going, with or without him. Alexander the Great. The one who rode Bucephalus. Who conquered the Persian Empire. He couldn't do it. The places in which we are fighting bear more resemblance to the villages Alexander saw than they do to Kabul or Levittown. They couldn't be subdued in the 4th century BC and I don't think they can be now.
But it's nice to see that people are thinking about it. After all, Nixon and Kissinger didn't talk to anybody but each other and that got us Cambodia and Laos.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
We began lining up before 2. I'm not sure how much before 2, but I was fifth in line. Apparently, the beautiful woman in the straw hat has been first for as many years as the others in line could remember.
I was pretty impressed with 5th.
Jay is a very talented man. He created the perfect cart for shopping the narrow aisles of the plant sale. Look at the size of those C-Clamps.
There is also an excellent collection of bungee cords, just waiting to secure many wonderful specimens.
Jay was about 10th in line.
I'm trying a new approach to landscaping this year - I am actually going to plan ahead, stick to a color scheme, and think about the plant's ultimate size before I stick it in the ground. I'm digging holes exactly the right size (just as deep and twice as wide as the root ball), setting the plants down on undisturbed soil, and protecting the most vulnerable with chicken wire cages. It's hard to know what the fauna will be munching on this season, but I'm guarding the ones with the most delicate leaves and stems. After a certain point, the yard begins to look like the outer edges of San Quentin, so I have to be a bit restrained in the chicken wire department.
This is what Jay had when I left. I'm sure he had more shopping to do; look at all those bungee cords he's yet to use.
Everything fit perfectly in the trunk. We drove home singing about the admirable qualities of a modern major general, much to the amusement of the kid in the 4x4 next to me at the light. Oh, well.
More on the planting next Thursday.
I have a feeling that some of Jay's friends and family may be reading a blog for the very first time. Welcome! If you like this post, you can click on the "gardening" label in the postscript below and read similar posts. Or click through the archives. Or check out some of the bloghers linked on the sidebar. And be sure to leave a comment; how else will I know that you've been here?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Making plans for the Cuters to come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's $200 more expensive for them to fly in after work/school releases them, but we'd pay double that for the pleasure of their company. TBG and I do just fine while they're off living their lives, but the house feels much more complete when they're around. We've moved so many times that it's not they're in their rooms and it's just like always. Rather, it's more they wanted to spend their time off with us and doesn't that make us smile. We're not looking backwards. We're enjoying the moment.
That last sentiment is my answer to "How do you move around so often?" I have loved everyplace that I've lived and I can hardly wait to see where I end up next. Maybe, at the end, I'll sell everything and sign up for one of those around-the-world-forever cruises. I think I read somewhere that it's cheaper than living in an apartment on land.
Autumn has officially arrived in the desert southwest. It's cool when I go out to get the newspaper now. Just two weeks ago I worked up a sweat between the end of the driveway and the front door; this morning I needed the hood up on my sweatshirt. OK, I'm a serious weather wimp --- it was in the mid-60's. And the sun was up. And there wasn't any wind. Still..... that's 40 degrees cooler than it was when I was sweating two weeks ago.
I bowled a 136 today! Liliana gave me pointers and I was an obedient pupil and I had the second highest score in the second game. We're not going to talk about the first game. G'ma was there, kibbitzing with the ladies and enjoying herself. She hugged me when I threw a gutter ball on a spare. How lucky am I to have her around?
You may have noticed that I've sold out to The Man, or in this case, the women. The Little Cuter has taken over as my business manager and is promoting the Burrow everywhere. Blogher is a community of women bloggers, and the ads are screened for awfulness, or so it seems thus far. TBG has said that unless it makes money it's a hobby and not a business... click on those ads and let's show him that this is for real.
*League Championship Series..... for those of you who want to know but don't want to take the time to look it up
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Oh, pal of mine, who's hurting you????? Are they not friending you? Ignoring your emails? Blocking your calls? I know you didn't get a reply to a letter ... even after you'd taken the time to track down a land address and written lovely thoughts on pretty stationary. Slighting someone who sends snail mail... now that's low.
You are not alone, though. I've been shunned, too ..... and she was as close to a best friend as I had back then. At least it always seemed that she thought so. We spoke once on the phone when I was in California, and then nothing. I felt strangely bereft when my emails went unanswered. We'd been so much a part of each other's lives and now.... nothing.
I wondered about it, too. Does she have so many friends that, like Audrey Hepburn in Charade, she has to wait until one of them dies before she can let me into her circle? And is it that swell a circle that I even want to be a participant? Is it that she's put that chapter of her life behind her and has no interest in revisiting the past? Has she become a completely forward looking individual who has cut the chains of childhood completely? Is she lazy? Rude?
I'm choosing to be superior and think it's because she's insecure and has decided that her life sucks and is therefore reluctant to show it off to people. Even people who were her friends back then. Of course she won't be coming to the reunion -- imagine sharing what you consider your not-so-wonderful-life with those who didn't think much of you then, either. As Marisa Tomei sighs at the end of My Cousin Vinny, "What a nightmare". (Even the accent is right!)
In your case, oh coolest of cool ones, maybe your friends, too, are embarrassed at how their lives have turned out. After all, to those of us firmly wedged in the middle of the high school social scene, you and your cohort were the icing on our cupcake. What if they are wrinkled or face-tucked-beyond-recognition or drug addicted or have risen in their chosen career to become Head Bagger at Safeway? What if their hair isn't the longest and the straightest and even if it were no one would care at this point? What if they have nothing to brag about anymore? What if they still think that matters?
Perhaps your intentions were mis-understood. You weren't looking for a BFF or a confidante or a rock on which to lean when you reached out and tried to touch someone. You just wanted to reconnect. I'll be kind right now and say that, perhaps, their lives are so complex and stressful that they just have no energy left for the new. Even if the new is really not so new at all.
Did you make bad choices in high school? Of course you did. That's what high school is for. And even though 40 years have passed, the need to be accepted, included, validated, noticed...... they're all still there. Who will say hello to me at the reunion event? Will I have anyone to talk to? I really don't want to stand at the buffet line all alone. Funny how one rejection, from someone you really don't know anymore, can shove you right back into the high school frame of mind. Who are these people in whom we've imbued such power?
I've decided that we are not going to obsess about this any more. We are fit, funny and fabulous.
And if you want, we can always track them down and hurt them in some unspeakable way. I'm practising my "Oh, you are so tedious" stare right now.