Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Vampire or: He Loved in Vein

Ouch.  And it only got worse.  If puns make you ill, feel free to come back tomorrow.  For the rest of you, there's a treat in store.

The Gaslight Theater has been in Tucson for 32 years.  It's a measure of the wonder that is Gaslight that I remembered details from the History section of the program.  Apparently, a group of friends from UofA went to Alaska in 1977, lasted one summer having  produced one show, came back to Tucson and never left.  The whole thing felt like a family affair; the Kitchen Staff is listed in the program alongside the Costume Designers and the Controller and the Board of Directors.  Our server began her career there when she was 16..... as did one or two of the patrons that afternoon.  It's one of those 1890's Wild West Saloon-type places, those over-the-top tourist attractions with a 3-man-band, sing-alongs and free popcorn on the table when you sit down.  It felt like a frontier cocktail lounge.

If you are planning to see the show, which closes November 6, I'm warning you now that there are spoilers ahead.  I don't think it will make a difference - most of the jokes are groaners - but I feel an obligation to alert those who might be annoyed.

So, did you ever see a show where the wigs were characters of their own?  Have you ever watched hair dancing?  Wondered if an actress had a particularly small head since her wigs and she were in a constant battle against gravity?  G'ma and I did last weekend.  Shirley Smith, the Wigs person,  likes hair, I guess.  Lots and lots of hair.  There are looooooong yellow braids and gigantic black and white beehives and this brown thing which with Miss Minna argues.  And argues.  And argues.  The best part was that the wig kept fighting back.  I don't know, maybe you had to be there.  Suffice it to say that if my goal for G'ma is No Unhappy Days  I now have about a month in reserve.  Her whole body shakes when she laughs and thinks no one is watching her.  My heart was bursting.

But, back to the show.  I never knew that there were so many ways to faint.  Sideways, backwards, left and right and each one was funnier than the next.  The entrances were funnier than the exits .... just ask the actors who were laughing as hard as we were.  Do you remember Tim Conway and Carol Burnett? 


Like that, and we were right there, booing and clapping and generally forgetting our troubles.  They tangoed and polka'd and we watched a skeleton do the Macarena, a word which was easily replaced with Nosferatu in the lyrics.... and since those lyrics consist mainly of one word being repeated over and over ad nauseum slowly but surely a room full of strangers were singing in 4 part harmony, on-key, and with enthusiasm.  Well, okay, maybe just with enthusiasm but we sure did feel good about ourselves.

Olio is a great cross-word puzzle and scrabble word but until the Gaslight Gazette I'd never seen it anywhere other than on those grids.  But, there it was, right after Act II, with Wolfman Jack and his hair introducing Tom Jones and the Addams Family and some girl groups from the 1960's singing - now, remember this show is about a vampire -  
And then he kissed me.....He kissed me in a way that I'd never been kissed before 

and we groaned, but not as loudly as during Love is Strange or Count Dracula (Todd Thompson)'s stirring rendition of I'm Too Sexy for My Cape.  It was awful and wonderful at the same time.

I'd be remiss if I didn't single out for recognition and applause and kudos and amazings and look at those fingers ..... Linda Ackerman pounded the keyboards of her upright piano and electric keyboard and I will never hear Werewolf of London


in quite the same way ever again.  This was really much more than dinner theater music, denizens. 

A few weeks ago, Amster took Messers 7 and 5 to the show, and she could hardly wait for me to see it so she could share.  We kept ourselves giggling as we were lifting at the gym on Saturday.  It kept us happy all morning long, and I was humming and singing and dancing across my living room, sliding on the slippery smooth tiles all afternoon.

I'm not sure there's a higher compliment that can be paid to The Vampire than this one:  it was fun!
*****

G'ma and I were at the Gaslight Theater as part of a benefit for the Southern Arizona Support Group of the Scleroderma Foundation thanks to my Pilates Pal Pat's invitation.  Don't you love it when your friends turn you on to something new and fabulous along with the chance to do good? 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Going to College

It's College Fair time and I'm a busy girl.  Today, I started at 2pm and I will finish at 9.  I'll have visited a Catholic high school, a non-denominational private high school and tonight, 3000+ students and their parents will descend on the Tucson Convention Center for the big public high schools fair.  That's a lot of talking (something that's never been a problem for me) and a lot of driving (80 miles by the time I'm finished) and many bottles of water.  I drag my boxes of Cornelliana from my trunk to the venue using my luggage cart and my muscles.  I have a Cornell banner to decorate the front of my table, and this year I remembered to put a roll of packing tape in the box so that I can attach it to the front of my space.  Some schools come with their own tablecloths, but I am not that fortunate.  However, I do have a poster that I can use to protect my delicate self from the rough table tops that the schools bring out for these events.  Splinters are not part of this job description.

The kids come in all shapes and sizes and colors.  They are well-prepared and totally unprepared.  For every kid with a pre-printed list of questions and a pen to record the answers, there are 5 or 10 who want to know if they can study cosmetology in the Ivy League.  I've picked up a few tricks over the years I've been doing these dog and pony shows, and my standard opening is "Do you have really good grades?"  The appropriate applicants stand up just a little taller and smile just a little wider as they nod their heads and agree with me.  The kids who seem to shrink into themselves, the ones whose eyes roll up and to the right, the ones who giggle and say No without embarrassment, those are the ones I worry about.  This is the Ivy League, after all.  You can't just slide into a space, you have to earn it.

"What kinds of courses should I take in high school" is a FAQ.  "Is it better to get good grades in an easy course or worse grades in an AP class?"  is another.  My answers don't do much to make them smile.  "You should take the toughest classes your school offers and you should get high marks in those classes."  One young man asked me if his mother had told me to tell him that.  I laughed and said that all good mothers think alike and she was not just saying that to make his life miserable, as he alleged.

Some of the students arrive with parents in tow.  Their questions tend to focus on the financial aid packages available.  Since Cornell has instituted a policy that no student will incur more than $7500 per year in loans, I am getting used to seeing very surprised parents on the other side of my table.  The University of Arizona used to be tough competition for us.  The AIMS Scholarships gave a free ride to those students who scored well on the state's standardized test - and the kids had 3 tries to accomplish their goals.  With the budget crisis facing our state, the grants have been dramatically reduced and all of a sudden staying home for college is less financially attractive.  Last year I was interviewed by the local NBC affiliate and my face made the 10pm news.  My congratulatory phone calls all included surprise at the generosity of my alma mater.  I was (and am) proud.


Some of the students were hyper-organized.  They came to my table with spreadsheets and pre-printed questions.  Others were clearly at a loss.  They had no questions, no curiosity, no idea where to start.  I worry about them.  But then there were the kids who know what they want to be when they grow up and have a plan to get there.  The girl who wants to be a vet, and wonders if an undergraduate degree from Cornell will help her gain entry to their Vet School was followed by the prospective geologist who is struggling to find a school which has not cut that department.  Who knew that geologists were having trouble finding an education? 


I met a young man who is interested in cryptozoology.... and he says it has nothing to do with decoding ciphers.  I promised to call Ithaca and see if anyone can teach him what he wants to know.  The budding biometric engineer stood open-mouthed and stunned upon hearing that Cornell had built an entire building devoted to nano-technology.  He just kept repeating a whole building as his classmates milled about him.  Sometimes, I am the bearer of very good news, it seems.


And now, dear denizens, I must leave you and drive to the Convention Center to entice even more students with the wonderfulness that is Cornell.  It's nice to do a job you enjoy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I am supposed to be able to garden now.  It's late September and I really should be back at school.... oh, apologies to Rod Stewart but I'm addled right now.  I've spent 2 hours in my front yard with a pointed shovel and four 3-gallon plants and I am no closer to having them in the ground than I was before I started.

It is not for lack of effort, I assure you.  I waited til the sun had gone behind the clouds.  I had my favorite gripping gloves protecting my delicate digits from cactus prickers. I'd planned and placed the newbies in exactly the right places.  I was properly hydrated and nourished.  I'd foregone the weight room this morning in the gym in order to save my strength for digging.  And the plants are still in their pots.

I started with the easy things first.  I know, I know, just like homework, you're supposed to start with the most difficult tasks when you are freshest.  But I wanted to be sure that I had something to be proud of when I was done, so I cheated and began simply.

I had a little leaf cordia (cordia parvifolia) sitting lonely and alone and unable to be irrigated.  I'd purchased two of them 2 years ago, one for each side of the front yard.  The southernmost plant was along the main irrigation line and it was a simple matter to extend a bit of 1/2" tubing to the site I'd picked.  The one on the northern edge was too far from the main line for the water to reach.  I tried to keep up with it through hand watering, but the water needs to get down to a depth of about 2' to properly nourish the root system and my bucket brigade was never able to penetrate more than 8 or 9 inches.  Yes, we measure these things in the desert, with soil probes and pencils and aggravation.  So, my first order of business was to move the stunted one over near its cousin.  They grow about 10' wide so I stood at the center of the established plant and spread my wings. Adding a few inches to the spot in the air where my fingertips had stopped, I jumped a few feet over and put my arms out again, measuring where the transplant would live.  The rootball was small, no doubt a result of being under-watered, so the hole didn't have to be that deep.  I cleaned out the detritus from the roots and spread them carefully in a lovely circle around the stem.  I covered them with the soil I'd removed from the hole and added worm castings to nourish them.  Just like in a normal garden, 15 minutes of work and I was done.

I had a toothpick cactus (Stetsonia coryne) which was supposed to grow 5" a year. That didn't happen.  Instead, it sat in a place of honor in the middle of the front yard and turned yellow.  It took almost no effort to remove it from the ground and replant it over by the other columnar cacti.  Once again, a small root ball made digging the stetsonia's new home a simple task.  Back fill and worm castings and a prayer that I had remembered which arm was to be facing south and I was done. 

There were several yellow yuccas (hesperaloe parviflora) to be dealt with.  I thought that I would trim back the dead leaves and fertilize the remainder but there was nothing left after I pulled at the brown stalks.  It's always interesting to look at the bottom of a dead plant and see what has happened to the roots.  These were gone.  Vanished.  Disappeared.  Unavailable in any way to carry the water and minerals to the blooming parts.  Mr. Crayola has had the same issues in his garden; perhaps it's something in our neighborhood's soil?  We'd commiserated over their demise in his yard last weekend.  This weekend it seems to be my turn.

The sun was starting to cast long shadows as I picked up the shovel and began to create the first of the bigger holes.  I moved away the crushed rock we use as mulch, and then I rested.  You might not think that 3" of stones would be that difficult to move, but it is.  The little pieces don't like to stay stacked up, and when you think you've moved them far enough from the place you'll be digging you soon realize that you haven't left room for the soil you're removing.  Putting the dirt from the hole on top of the stones just means that the stones get put back into the hole along with the backfill.  Separating them requires more forethought and planning than I'd given the project.  I groaned, dropped the shovel in disgust, and treated myself to a bottle of water.

I finished the first 16.9 fluid ounces and took another bottle back with me to the dig.  The top 2" of dirt came off nicely.  After that, it was a struggle to break up the compacted soil and get enough to warrant lifting the shovel.  I moved around the hole, trying to attack it from different angles.  I took my small trowel and tried a more up-close-and-personal approach.  I paused and drank and went back to the task but after 15 minutes this is as far as I was able to get:


Sweat was pouring from every pore (don't you just love homonyms?) and the golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) was still in its plastic pot.  My fantasy - finishing the project on my own in one afternoon - was obviously just that.... a fantasy.  There was no way that I was going to get through the rocks and the hardpan and dig a hole that was as deep as the rootball and twice as wide.  Not by myself.

I'm calling Ernie and his guys in the morning.  He can come and dig me 4 holes and I'll pay him whatever he asks because gardening should not leave me cursing the earth as I put my tools away.  No, it should not.

There are many reasons to love living in Tucson - the soil is NOT one of them

Monday, September 27, 2010

Politics with Aged Parm

Aged Parm and I met the Big Cheese for lunch and politics on Friday.  Our drive up to Saddlebrooke was quintessential Arizona - big blue sky, white puffy clouds and the mountains hugging the side of the road.  I-77, Oracle Road here in Tucson and beyond, is built on the fault line.  I like to imagine the earth pulling apart from itself, little by little, over deep time eons, as I cruise northward in The Schnozz.  But I had little time for reverie on the drive, because Aged Parm was fired up and rarin' to go.  I love the company of an active and engaged mind, especially when there's attitude attached.  And let me tell you, the woman is nothing if not filled with attitude.

The Home has been sponsoring candidate forums as we approach Election Day, and Aged Parm has been on the aisle for each and every one of them.  She's also, apparently, been the only one asking any questions.  And hers are serious questions - how would you fund the tax breaks you propose?  Unlike the woman who wondered if we were safe here at home with all our soldiers fighting wars across the globe, Aged Parm has read the position papers and the newspapers and watched and listened and sifted the facts and she's not just asking to hear herself talk.  She really wants to know the answers.  She is opinionated, and, like most of my friends, she knows that her beliefs are true and that she's right.  Delightfully, that doesn't mean that she is close-minded. You'll see proof of that later on.

For now, we'll drive to the Clubhouse and dine with a view of the golf course which is closed for reseeding (Note to those who want to stay great and spend a little - come in September when the gardeners rule and the courses are closed.  The rates are remarkable.) The Big Cheese was right behind us and we took a table with a view.  We talked about the mountains and hiking and Uncle Gene and Congressman Mike Pence, he of the good hair and not much else.  We drank a lot of ice tea, the better to stay awake during the upcoming forum, and then it was back up the hill to another Club House.

My parking karma held and we grabbed the first spot by the door.  Aged Parm and her decorated cane are living proof that slow and steady wins the race.  Fear of falling permeates every step but she still puts one foot in front of the other, unwilling to let aging get between her and a good fight.  And this was going to be a good fight.

The League of Women Voters has been around since there have been women voters.  Every LWV member I've known has looked tailored and harried and has spoken with an authoritative tone surrounding facts and figures and dates and issues until I succumbed to the onslaught and agreed. With whatever she wanted.  Captain Al Melvin, incumbent State Senator for Legislative District 26, tried to bully our LWV Moderator and she just smiled and calmed the storm and moved the program along without missing a beat.  It was admirable.

There were 5 candidates, 2 microphones, 2 minute opening and closing statements and 1 minute answers to questions submitted by the audience on 4x6 index card and asked by the LWV Moderator.  The whole thing lasted about 2 hours, which was 30 minutes too long, but the space was lovely and the company was good.  The performances were real and unmediated.  The candidates couldn't hide behind makeup or lighting or speechwriters or handlers.  The House incumbents were facile with the finances and the numbers rolled off their tongues with ease.  Cap'n Al (seriously - the first signs I ever saw referred to him that way) mouthed tea party platitudes like secure our border roll back Obama-care but none of our questions addressed those issues.  Education, the budget, business and job development and taxes were the major topics, but we spent a fair amount of time talking about privatizing rest stops  "I support rest areas"  -- Terri Proud wanted us to know that. Cheryl Cage is a capitalist and Cap'n Al was an Eagle Scout and Vic Williams volunteers in his son's classroom.  This was politics up close and personal.

Captain Al sat with his chair angled just enough to show his opponent his back.  Terri Proud says "We tax our businesses way too much"  and Nancy Young Wright warns that "we can't bring young workers here when our schools are 50th in the nation" in spending per student.  Senator Melvin reminded us that Arizona is "in the mid 30's academically and that's just fine" and I looked to my left to watch the smoke pour from Aged Parm's ears.  Muttering about the triumph of mediocrity we almost missed Representative Vic Williams' admitting that compromise was a good thing.  The more we paid attention to his answers the more impressed we became.  We didn't agree with his political views, but his answers made sense and we have to vote for two of the three and we left the auditorium wondering if we were considering voting for a Republican.  Had we learned something?  Had our opinions been changed?  Do we have more investigating to do?  Yes, yes and yes.

The drive back home was punctuated with can you believe she said that's and look at those gorgeous mountains and, my favorites, coming from each of us and repeated more than a few times: I do like you!

It was a very nice day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Fought The Law and The Law.....

Musical accompaniment to the post
a special feature of today's Burrow, just for you!

uploaded by crazybeatlefan to youtube -- recorded for Hullabaloo March 21, 1966
Click the video and let it play in the background as you read my tale of woe,

I'd gone to dinner with Amster and a lady-lawyer-friend of hers that night at the end of May.  We'd gorged on fresh fish and veggies and laughter until 11:30pm... truly a late night for yours truly.  I dropped Amster off at her car and headed for the highway and home.  It was a pretty night  and my windows were down and the air was cooling off and the stars were twinkling.  Tucson has a dark skies policy, so there's only a minimal amount of ambient light;  it's a big black sky out there.  It hadn't rained for months and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The music was good (I get the community radio station, KXCI,  down there, before the Santa Catalinas interfere with my reception further north) and my belly was full.  The highway was newly reconstructed and the road surface was sweet.  The overhead lighting was clear and bright.  I was singing along, obeying the speed limit, in the 2nd lane from the left.  

The Schnozz has a big blind spot and I know it.  I'm vigilant about checking those back corners even when I'm not planning to change lanes.  Daddooooo always told me to watch the space around me when I drove (the Cuters and I called it our cone of silence.... why, I do not know)  and that lesson was learned.  Sure enough, there in the 3rd lane, hanging on my bumper, was a brownish goldish sedan.  I sped up just a touch to put space between us.  He sped up as well.  I slowed down.  He slowed down.  He never got closer or farther but he never went away, either.  After a mile of this, I began to worry.

A stalker?  I'm alone in the middle of the night on the highway.  Scary thoughts began to crowd into my head.  I began to think of the nearest exit with a 24hour gas station on the corner, of where the closest police substation might be.  I'd maneuver myself into the right lane and drive to a safe place as fast as I could.  I'd be fine. Sweating but breathing, I felt better.  I had a plan.

At the top of a rise in the road, with level pavement and no exits or entrances or other cars in sight, I hit the gas.  The Schnozz took off like a champ, I put on my right turn signal, looked in the rear view mirror to be sure I'd surprised the stalker and left him in my dust, and was rewarded by a Sheriff's Department cruiser flashing his blue lights.  I wasn't alone.  I relaxed and pulled over.


Deputy Diamond came to my window and I greeted him with "Thank you for coming to save me."  Flummoxed, he responded with "I thought you were racing."   Racing, sez I?  Racing? Had he seen that car on my tail for a mile or more?  Did he have any idea of how scared I was?  I was flabbergasted that he thought it was appropriate to punish me for trying to keep myself safe.  

"You were going 15 miles over the speed limit, Ma'am."

"Yes, I was. But I wasn't speeding, Officer.  I was accelerating."

Now, TBG tells me that speed limits are something called black letter law.  That seems to mean that there's no room for interpretation. "65 means 65, sweetie."  Apparently, my intentions are immaterial.  But I didn't know that at the time.  At the time, it seemed important that the officer know how scared I was.  I told him, again, that the other car had been following me and making me very nervous.  I asked him why, if he thought we were racing, he had pulled me and me alone over to the side of the road?   

"Because I could only stop one of you." 

I just had to laugh.  I was a victim of automobile profiling.  Amidst the brouhaha over SB 1070 and racial profiling, I'd been pulled over because I drive a speedy little car.  


I was bitter but polite.  I told Officer Diamond I would see him in court and I moseyed on home.  Slowly. Carefully. Deliberately. And well within the speed limit... even the 25mph sign on the never-seen-another-car-on-it-road.  TBG was properly sympathetic but my happy mood had been sullied.  I could hardly wait for my court date in July.


Two weeks before that court date, I was rescheduled and reassigned.  My new date was September 23 at 3pm. Two more months of driving on a ticket and there was nothing I could do but wait.  So I did.  

And then it was yesterday.  For four months I'd been rehearsing my performance and suddenly it was Opening Night.  I was stoked.  I chose the proper outfit - not too dressed up but more than jeans and flip flops.  I wanted to be taken seriously but I didn't want to look uppity.  This is Tucson, after all, and I'm not a snowbird.  This is my home and I was partaking of its justice system and I wanted to look like I belonged.  Heels in my purse, I left the Schnozz in the parking garage and walked, in my flip flops, through the Courthouse's pink archways and up the outside curving stairway, through security and down the hallway to Courtroom 2.  I was an hour early.


The room looked like a Shaker Meeting Room.  The benches were wooden pews, without adornment or comfort.  There was no barrier between the audience and the tables for the accused and the accuser and the Hearing Officer's bench was uninspired as well.  But I cannot call it uninspiring.  There was something about the whole situation that demanded respect.  The H.O. was decades younger than I, and his clerk younger still, and yet there was a majesty to the proceedings that was undeniable.  When a case was called a digital clock with bright red numbers turned on.  When the case was settled, it turned off.  I saw this happen only once, since there was only one case in the 2 o'clock hour. I read my book and waited for 3pm.


A Sheriff's deputy and a Tucson Police Officer brought themselves and their weaponry into our quiet little space a little before the hour.  A 20something and her mother, a 30something woman with a newspaper, and a pony-tailed kid who really should have stopped smoking dope before he got dressed for court made up the rest of our merry band.  The clerk asked each of us our names, and the H.O. acknowledged that I had been waiting and that Officer Diamond was not in the courtroom.  Would I wait 10 minutes to give him a chance to arrive?  They'd take one case, and then it would be my turn.  


I could hardly contain myself.


The 20something's reasoning that it was the rain and not her driving ability that caused her to slam into the car in front of her didn't cut it with the court.  The deputy said she should have left more space and the H.O. agreed and she was fined and she said she'd pay and then he got the officer and the pony-tail settled into their chairs as he invited me up to his bench.  The clock turned on, he read my case number aloud and then it was : No, Officer Diamond is not in the courtroom, the case is dismissed without prejudice and if the Officer doesn't resubmit the paperwork within 90 days it all goes away.  No, he didn't want to hear my defense, because if the paperwork is resubmitted it would appear that I had testified already and that just could not be.  I took my paperwork, printed right there on the clerk's desk, and I was done.


And y'know what, denizens?  I'm peeved. Even though the H.O. said it was "highly unlikely, given my experience"  that the case will be reinstated, I have to wait 90 days, almost til Christmas, for this to be finished.  And worse, I didn't get to tell my side of the story.  Sure, the Cuters and TBG and Amster and the Crayolas and G'ma all agree that I am right and blameless but somehow that is just not enough.  I guess I need to hear it from an official representative of the state which wrongly accused me.  Now, I am left to wonder if the officer forgot, or if he was involved in an undercover operation which could not be jeopardized or if my case was so insignificant that he decided to blow it off or if he knew he was wrong and so gave up before we began.  All this uncertainty is making me just a little bit antsy.  


And he has 90 more days to exert control over my existence... even longer if I consider the new trial date.  The cards are not stacked in my favor; had I not appeared in court they'd have issued a warrant for my arrest.  I've enjoyed trading on this story all summer long, but I'm ready for it to be finished once and for all.  Alas, as I told the Cuters, you can't always get what you want....


I can't decide... what's the answer to my initial question? Did The Law win? Somehow, I fought The Law and The Law decided to ignore the fact doesn't pack the same punch.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Political Ramblings

My mind is everywhere today.  Running riot in my brain are thoughts of
  • John Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity on October 30th and how I can justify the expense of flying out to meet and talk with like minded non-insane people.  My favorite cousin-in-law will be attending, and Brother and his girls have been urged to be The Burrow's on-the-scene-correspondents, but I am feeling an immense tug of my own.
  • Gabrielle Giffords and Jesse Kelly facing off with she's lying NO he's lying television ads as they vie for her seat in Congress.
  • Elizabeth Warren getting her dream job, only not really getting it. Obstructionist politics imposing a glass ceiling of its own right there above her head.  I can't imagine how she's feeling as she carries the baby to term and then hands it over to the real parents.
  • The private company that wants to build a landfill in the desert, near the homes of desert dwellers who live far from the hustle and bustle of city life (if such a thing exists in the neighboring metropolises of Tucson and Marana) and who are not that interested in having other people's trash leaching toxic liquids into a rising aquifer.  As a letter to the editor pointed out today, they are not trying to put this dump next to the million dollar houses in the Foothills. Of course, there's not a lot of empty flat land there anymore, but I got her point anyway.
  • John Huppenthal, running for Superintendent of Public Education here in Arizona, has posters everywhere announcing that he's in favor of the English language and discipline in the public schools.  I'm fine with English, but is it his plan to reinstitute flogging?  I found this little snippet on youtube today:  
          It gets interesting at about minute 1:40.  One wonders, is leaving the room when faced with tough
          questions really the behavior we want in our schools' chief?
  • Larry Summers is leaving the Obama administration and former Xerox Corporation chief executive Anne Mulcahy is the leading candidate to replace him.  Out with the educators, in with the business types.  Perhaps it will help our President find his voice when it comes to explaining our economic woes.  The Town Hall meeting was just so sad.  Questioners wanting to know when it will be their turn at the bailout trough.... not recognizing that most of those too big to fail (OK, not GM yet, but still....) institutions have repaid the money, with interest, and that the economy is no longer in free fall.  After 22 months he's staunched the bleeding left from the uncauterized wounds of 8 years of Republican leadership.  Are we really that short-sighted that we can't notice the facts?
  • I'm surprising myself every time I think of the Clintons these days.  Loved Bill on The Daily Show (click here for the whole interview) especially his rueful remarks about paying for Chelsea's wedding - "I can't believe there were any unemployed people in that area after we got done".  He's a policy wonk at heart, and without having to appease the electorate he seems to be doing a world of good.  Hilary, the woman I would not could not never would ever vote for seems to have come into her own now that she has a job description that does not rely on Bill.  She's traveling the world, kicking butt and doing it with a smile.  Obama was lucky to get her, even if he was following the later West Wing story arc.
Everything is in a muddle.  It's raining in the fall in Tucson.  A Jewish girl married to an astronaut is competing against a marine with a good conduct medal to be my Congressional representative.  Our schools are underfunded and the superintendent candidates are bickering over minutiae.  The recession is over but no one is making any money or spending any money and the job market is a scary scene to contemplate when your two children are in graduate school.  We have an articulate, intelligent President who can't seem to get his message across.

G'ma says there have always been times like these.  I can't believe THAT is something she can remember.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Secretariat

G'ma and I went to the movies last week.  It was a freebie from BlogHer (thank you very much!) and since neither of us can resist something for nothing we piled into the Schnozz after dinner and drove to the mall.  Using Costco's strategy of burying what you came in for far from the entrance, the Loew's Theaters at the Foothills Mall have no exterior entrance.  With our usual parking karma we nabbed the first space by the doorway and then we walked and walked and walked through the Food Court (which changed from Coke to Pepsi since last I traversed its garish halls... McDonalds has vanished, Taco Bell is there instead) and past the purse kiosks and the vitamin store and the Carter's Babies Outlet (G'ma was wondering how much they were asking for the infants they were offering..... she may lose recent events, but bad grammar is hardwired into her DNA) until we plunked ourselves down at the end of a very long line of people.  We were 40 minutes early.

I was supposed to contact the Disney Representative and my name was supposed to be on a list.  The officious though smiling woman who seemed to be running the show had no idea what I was talking about, so G'ma and I waited our turn, patiently moving forward 10 or 15 places every 5 minutes or so.  We were among the last 16 people to be admitted.  After Ms. I'm In Charge made everyone move to the right, G'ma and I had two seats on the aisle and a nook for the walker within easy reach.  There were announcements and thank you's and then the screen opened to a natural and gentle curve.  I am so accustomed to tiny venues with even tinier screens - this one was big and beautiful.  There were no previews or commercials, the movie just started.

discoverhorses.com

 I wish I could say that I loved it, but I didn't.  This was a movie that didn't know where it was going and couldn't decide which story to tell along the way.  Was it a feminist screed -- brave daughter fights male chauvinist pig husband and brother to save her Daddy's legacy?  Was it a horse racing movie -- Daddy always said you knew what the horses were thinking, Eddie? Was it a window onto the world of the early 1970's, with protest pageants (who knows?  I still can't figure it out and that's after several days of thinking) and plaid bell-bottom pants... on the men?  There wasn't much suspense, since the story is well-known (I won't spoil it) and there wasn't much horse lore or, for that matter, much horse at all.  They talked about the horse, but Big Red was never a character in the way that the animals were in Seabiscuit or The Black Stallion.  One thing is for certain - this was not a movie that over-indulged in special effects or fancy camera angles.  The racing footage was pedestrian.  There was no sense of urgency or excitement.  The audience clapped, but no one cheered.
The cast was wonderful, and did their best with a leaden script nearly totally devoid of character development or nuance.  Diane Lane is gorgeous and real at the same time - that's a combination that will keep me interested through almost anything and it worked again here.  Her clothes were handsome and so was she but I bought into her persona because of what she brought to the role, not what the role offered her.  John Malkovich is one of my favorite living actors; he could make a dog food commercial seem vaguely deviant.  He played an over the top character with love in his heart, hidden behind the crusty exterior which seems to be de rigeur for actors in their 50's these days.  Kindly but irascible says it all.  The one character I cannot forget actually appears in a multitude of disguises -- the hats that Malkovich wears deserve a SAG card of their own.  The supporting cast is brilliant in its own right - James Cromwell and Margo Martinson and Nestor Serrano are all faces you've seen and names you've never known.  The scenery was pretty and the clothes were stunning a and that's about all.

I did tear up just a bit - Scott Glenn's portrayal of Penny Chenery's father's gradual decline from an undisclosed mental failing was beautiful in its absence.  There was nothing frantic or over-wrought about this gentle man sequestered in his office, surrounded by memories of days gone by.  The scenes between him and Diane Lane hit very close to home for me.  Her sense of loss, of abandonment, of picking up the mantle he'd left for her...... been there, feeling that.  I was worried that G'ma would identify with his disability and that it would leave her feeling sad, but I forgot that she forgets.  If it made an impression, it's buried with the rest of the detritus that's clouding her thinking.  When I asked about it on the way out, it was gone. 

Leaving the theater was much easier than I had expected it to be.  There was a delightful 9 year old girl walking slowly and carefully and 2 steps behind G'ma and her walker as we made our way up the wide stairs to the exit.  She wasn't pushing, she wasn't anxious, she wasn't annoyed and she wasn't in a hurry.  She was behind G'ma and G'ma was slow and that was just fine with her.  I complimented her on her outstanding regard for the welfare and safety of lovely old ladies and suggested that she tell her grown ups that she had received recognition for her behavior which they had obviously instilled in her from birth.  She laughed, pointed out her parents to me, and then informed me that she had a grandmother in a nursing home so she knew all about how to behave.  Egotistical?  Not at all.  She was absolutely right.

G'ma and I drove back to the pod-castle with smiles on our faces.  It was a great night.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Flu Shot Adventure

I have spent the last week trying to get a flu shot.  Without the media fueled panic over H1N1 this year these vaccines have been traveling under the radar.  Nevertheless, while our pundits are busy wondering how the tea party could have triumphed in so many elections last week, others of us were reading our bulletins from the local hospital and deciding that protection against the flu is something that we can actually do to change our experience of the world.

As the economy tumbles and health care costs soar and people persist in worrying about the birthplace of our president instead of the graduation rates in our high schools, I chose to take a step toward furthering my own personal well-being.  I have been feeling disconnected from the things that made me feel strong, lately.  I hurt my shoulder dragging my suitcase through NYC last month so weight lifting has been on hiatus.  It's still too hot to garden much past 8am.  I'm not powerful enough to affect the balance of trade or the situation in Afghanistan but I can be responsible for my own health.  With that intention, I set out to get a flu shot.

I went to pick up a prescription at Walgreens.  Usually, I use the drive-thru window and receive my pills via the pneumatic tube system.  This time, I parked in the shade (its still in the triple digits here in the desert Southwest) and took my reusable tote bag into the store itself.  I grabbed Hershey's Kisses for G'ma and was tempted by the new school year pens but I resisted and presented myself at the pick-up counter for the medicine and the shot.  "Do you have insurance?  Oh, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona?  We will have to charge you $35 for the shot; we have no contract with them for this."  In stunned silence I paid for the chocolate and left, shot-less.  These aren't two fly-by-night entities - BCBSAZ and Walgreens should hardly be strangers to one another.  And yet, sadly, they are, at least where this year's flu vaccine is concerned.

The next afternoon found me in Target.  I had a $1 off coupon for toilet paper so, with G'ma's tush in mind I parked (no shade) and began filling my bright red cart with all manner of things I needed but really hadn't planned to buy:  a new shelf for the laundry room, a 6-pack of chocolate protein boosts for TBG, candles in fall colors and a new Nikon Coolpix L22 to replace the one I dropped on the garage floor.  The lens is fine, but the battery compartment lid is cracked and I've been unable to figure out a way to keep it closed without compromising my ability to actually take a picture.   I'd chalk it up to a business expense, but since The Burrow has earned me less than $17 in the 17 months of its existence I'm not sure just how far that will get me.  Wandering the aisles, I passed the pharmacy and inquired about the availability of the flu shot.  Yes, it was in stock.  Yes, I was in the right place.  Yes, they had a deal with BCBSAZ and there would be no out-of-pocket expenses for me.  But, no, he couldn't do it right now  because his computer was down and there was no way to tell when or if it would ever be functional. Thwarted again.

This morning, I went to Wallyworld to stock up on staples.  The checkout line was long and slow but, as usual, filled with friendly  people and proximity to mini-dramas to help pass the time.  With my ice cream and eggs safely ensconced in my cooler bag, I left the check-out line and walked past a cafeteria table covered with a white cloth.  Sitting behind it were two ladies who probably graduated from high school within 3 years of me.  There was a stack of insurance papers on the table and they were each wearing a sticker identifying them as employees of the Mollen Clinics.  I wasn't put off by the fact that the intake worker had her sticker affixed to her bare right biceps, nor did I care if the nurse drew up the serum before I sat in the chair.  I had ice cream a-melting and no time to be wasting.  It was the paperwork that did me in -  the procedure required me to copy the information on my insurance card onto a white form with blue bordered boxes.... three times.  On the same form.  Twice on the front and once on the back.  It was the exact same information but writing SAME was not acceptable.  So I filled in the blanks and sat in the chair set just a bit askew and now I have a bandaid covering a somewhat sore spot on my right upper arm. 

The ladies and I laughed about the fact that I had to write the same stuff over and over again, and they seemed somewhat abashed to be insisting on such a ridiculous activity.  I'm sure there is a reason that the information in the first set of boxes cannot be deemed to be the default answers unless otherwise specified.  I considered the possibility that the form was destined to be cut into pieces, each set of data going to another desk.... until I realized that it was a two sided form, with the same information written directly  behind itself on the other side of the page.  It was just dumb. 

I would put aside privacy concerns and opt into a thumb-print system in a heartbeat. Collect all the information ever created regarding my body and encrypt it in the cloud.  Set up a system where the information can only be accessed  by my thumbprint.  I don't know how to do it, or I would have done it already.  But there's a computer nerd out there somewhere who knows how to do this, I am sure.  Anytime I went into a physician's office all the relevant and irrelevant materials would be right at her fingertips.  My gynecologist's office is virtually paperless - she refilled my prescriptions from her desktop computer as I sat in the chair, she printed the directions for my mammogram on the same page as the prescription I am to hand to the receptionist next week, and it's printed in Times New Roman 12 so everyone can read it clearly.  She admits to a steep learning curve and some resistance from her staff, but the time saved and the clarity of the record of patient care more than compensated for the kvetching. 

All I know is that I invested a lot of energy in trying to secure something that will keep me healthy.  It was annoying and frustrating and time consuming and it really didn't have to be all that hard.  There are many times when I wonder if we are really as advanced as we think we are.  This was one of those times.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Road Trip Down Memory Lane

Are you liking but not loving your car?  Is it close but no cigar to the kind of performance you'd imagined?  Even if you don't know anything about horsepower or torque or pulling g's as you round a corner, TBG assures me that if you examine your tires your experience will be transformed. 

Really, you should believe him.  The man buys cars the way some people take vacations.  He loves them and they love him back.  They smile at him from the driveway and against the background of Lake Michigan and the Pacific Ocean and it's more than look at me look at me because anyone who knows him knows that that is the last thing this most private of people would ever want.  He's always been an under the radar kind of guy, proud of his accomplishments but never one to seek out attention beyond his immediate circle.  He's not driving them to show off; he'd like an invisibility cloak if the truth were told.  Nope, the man loves them as machines.  They are beautiful and functional works of art.  He was the only one in the family  who was not surprised to find a Ferrari on the 5th floor of MOMA. 

He understands the physics and the mechanics and the inter-relationship of all the parts and though he's tried to explain it to me I'm really not paying attention to more than the basics.  Structural integrity seems to be key, as is reliability.  Our first sports car was a 1978 British Racing Green MG with tan leather seats.  It was gorgeous.  It was fun.  It was just my size.  I had lusted for that exact make and model since I learned to distinguish between a Triumph and an MG and a Morgan.  It was just about perfect. 

What it didn't have was an engine that could be counted upon to get you home safely.  Tooling along the highway one frigid January afternoon, reveling in the fact that TBG had actually allowed me to get behind the wheel when he was occupying the passenger seat, I was brought back to reality by his screeching What the *^#** are you doing???????? As he pointed madly behind us to the flames coming out of some part of the back of our car I was more focused on the tachometer's rapid plunge from 3500 to 0.  I steered us over to the shoulder and we waited.  I'm not sure what we were waiting for.  The emergency phones were widely spaced and it was 30 or 40 below 0 and the wind was howling.  We were pretty far out in the country, and there wasn't much traffic... actually, there was no traffic.  After a while, he looked at me, I looked at him and we agreed - turn the key, but get ready to jump. 

Somehow, the engine turned over and we drove straight home.  The Service Department couldn't find anything amiss and we loved listening to Scott Joplin as we drove around Lake Geneva with the top down so we kept hoping that this behavior was something other than typical British automotive dysfunction but when it stalled 17 times between home and Rocky's apartment, we sold it to a man who wanted "a clean car for my wife."  The damn thing was nothing if not clean - it never went anywhere.  In reality, it wasn't a car.  It was a stereo with seats.  A very pretty stereo, but not much beyond that. 

So, this post which was going to be an ode to tires we have known, has become a trip down memory lane.  I'm sure I'll revisit our automotive adventures as the months go on.  For now, let me reiterate the original point: tires matter.  They are the interface between your self and the road.  Next time you fill up your tank, walk all the way around your chariot and notice the amount of tread that's left on the tires.  Drive to a tire shop first thing in the morning when your tires are cool and ask them to check the air pressure.  They'll be happy to oblige, without charge, hoping that you'll come back to buy your tires from them.  (Of course, I'm assuming that you don't live in New Jersey, where pumping your own gas is forbidden.  There, you should ask the person who's filling you up if he'll check the tires, too).  This is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that, according to our government
(u)nder-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
 We here in The Burrow care about our denizens and want you to stay safe and last longer, too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Voting for Governor

Back in 2003, my liberal friends were appalled that I could find good in Arnold Schwarzenneger and that I intended to vote for him in California's gubernatorial recall election. He was a Republican, for crying out loud, didn't I realize that he was, therefore, the spawn of the devil? There was no room for discussion - I had strayed from the path of righteousness and deserved to be flogged.

I remember standing on the Bill Williams Trail on Mt. Tamalpais, hands on my hips and fury blazing from my eyes.  "Girls, he's a pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay rights Republican. Maybe there are three of them left in the world.  We have to support him.  He's an endangered species."  They were unmovable, unshakable, adamant in their conviction that he was nothing more than The Terminator, a groping, muscle bound idiot without the credentials or the gravitas to lead the Golden State.

Here we are, 7 years later, and he's term-limited out of a job.  In the interim, he tried to clean up the mess left by his deposed predecessor, Gray Davis.  A bland, professional politician, Davis failed the state in a number of ways, not the least of which was being suckered by the felons at Enron into locking California into ruinously expensive energy expenditures.  It will be decades, if ever, before the state can find its way out of the financial morass in which it is mired.  For now, roads go unpaved, government workers are furloughed, and a once proud education system is gasping for air. 

I liked watching Arnold govern.  He was spot-on, dead-right, absolutely accurate when he called the legislator girly men.... they were whining and whimpering like pre-pubescent teenage girls every time Arnold tried to whip them into shape.  It wasn't a sexist or anti-gay slur coming from him - it was an Austrian speaking idiomatic English with a swashbuckler's air surrounding the whole conversation.  It made people laugh, it put people in their place, and it demonstrated where the power lay. 

Watching a political neophyte wrestle with governance was interesting.  Like most state legislatures, California's is an abominable mess.  Power grabs and re-election gambits have given way to a gimme mine and gimme it quick mentality.  Special projects whoosh through the approval process while the larger whole, the quaking and quivering mass of jello that was once a robust dot-com-and-build-me-a-new-home economy, lies writhing in the dust.  There's an interesting cycle of serving, retiring, raising money and then serving again which is going on amongst a certain percentage of the elected officials.  Jerry Brown, who's been Secretary of State, Governor, Attorney General, mayor of Oakland and a presidential and senatorial candidate, is, once again, running for the governor's office on the Democratic ticket.  It's been hard to keep track of exactly what he was doing at any given moment, but his principles seem to be the same as those he learned at the Sacred Heart Novitiate while studying to become a priest. 

Meg Whitman, former CEO of ebay and possessor of her own fancy degrees from Princeton and Harvard, is his opposition.  She's spent $119 million of her own money to finance her campaign.  Since she's worth about $1.3 billion that's really not that much.  A little more research discloses that the charitable foundation she established and named after herself and her husband was started with a donation of approximately $9.4 million worth of ebay stock.  It's now valued at $46 million.  She turned down Warren Buffett's call to make his Giving Pledge.  I guess giving away half of her billions just doesn't float her boat..... at least   It's hard to extract policies from her campaign site - create jobs, cut spending, blah blah blah.  The most notable tidbit there was this scary photo of Nancy Reagan endorsing Meg and Carly Fiorino (who's running for U.S.Senate)



Still and all, I am captivated by the race.  I have to be.  It's self defense.  Here in Arizona we have incumbent Jan Brewer facing off against Terry Goddard, our Attorney General.  The difference between the two states could not be greater.  There is no educational background on Governor Brewer's site, but there are these fun facts:
  • Religious Affiliation: Active member of Life in Christ Lutheran Church in Peoria    
  • Best Political Advice She Ever Received:  "Your Word is Your Bond"         
  • Favorite Book:  "Reagan Diaries" by President Ronald Reagan
  • Favorite Arizona political figure, past or present:  Former Congressman Bob Stump
  • Hobby:  Gardening
  • Favorite Music Group:  ABBA    
  • Favorite Candy:  Snickers
  • Favorite Drink:  Coke Zero
There's no mention of her tenure at Glendale Community College; I had to dig deep into the bowels of the interweb to find a school that would claim her.  

Terry Goddard is possibly the sleepiest candidate I've ever had the misfortune to be destined to vote for.  He's a Harvard guy, with a local law degree from Arizona State University. Having served as Mayor of Phoenix for four terms he must have done something right, but I'm hard pressed to come up with an example of exemplary governance from the website.    While he didn't suffer a bout of aphasia during the debate

 
It gets really awful at 41 seconds.... 

and his answers were cogent if incredibly somewhat boring, the Rasmussen poll taken after the debate showed Brewer's lead growing.  

Yes, growing.  Up 3 points to 60% while Goddard remained stuck at 38%.  So, what does that tell us?  Can it possibly mean that 3% of the people who were formerly undecided are now thinking that a woman who looks to the moderator for help with such pleading in her eyes has the emotional chops to govern our state?  Come on, people..... the woman is just not smart.

I'm sure that there are legacies and donors and politically connected students who are accepted at Harvard.  I'm certain that not everyone who graduates from Harvard is brilliant or qualified to become my governor.  But everyone who's gone to Harvard has experienced being in a room with people who think and speak and read and have more to offer than interesting facts.  There is a real benefit to be gleaned from such exposure.  Even if you can't follow the arguments, you can watch as they are made.  Eventually, something has to sink in.  

I want my elected officials to have a sense of nuance and modicum of depth to go with it.  I want someone who could take a deep breath, say Let's start that over again, shall we? and laugh at herself before coming back from what has happened to most some of us at one time or another.  It's not the brain freeze that freaks me out.  It's her look for an out, for rescue from the guy to her left, for the floor to open up beneath her and let her escape.  I don't want someone like that deciding what I'm going to have for breakfast, let alone how my state should be run.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Unmatched

I couldn't come up with a better title for this post than the one that Hannah Storm and Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters gave to the story of friendship which they produced for ESPN's 30 For 30 series.  If you ever doubted that sports is about more than the athletic performance alone, one of these films might just convince you to rethink your position.  Have you wondered why I wax eloquent over something I've never done nor ever could do nor want to do and can only understand from an outsider's perspective?  It's because of the people. 

I am haunted by sports stories more than by disasters or theatrics or politics.  Unmatched (careful if you are at work, there's a loud commercial as the video begins) has just added another layer to the cake full of scripts that rattles around in my head when I'm thinking about nothing.  Do you ever go to that place, denizens?  Your body is purposefully engaged in an activity which requires nothing more than the most minimal engagement on your part - trolling the aisles of a familiar grocery store purchasing the same items as usual, walking from the bus stop to your apartment after work, waiting in the carpool lane for the bell to ring at 3:12pm - and your mind is free to wander in the back rooms of memory, stumbling across a trunk full of perfect games and missteps and graciousness and victory with a twist and opening it with a smile.  

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are my age, give or take a year or two.   I remember watching Chrissie on television in the early 1970's and for the first time feeling that I was behind, that I was old enough to be accomplishing something.  Martina, 2 years younger than Chris, was the first woman to show me that muscles were sexy, in an I can do anything kind of way.  Beyond that, I don't think that I paid much attention to their rivalry or to their lives in general.  I knew that one or the other was #1, that Chris got married and divorced and married and that Martina came out and that one or the other won a championship.  I never stopped to think about their lives together.  Then I watched the show.

Unmatched is reality television at its very very best.  A camera followed them around for a day or two, barefoot on super comfy cotton covered couches, top-down in Martina's convertible,  hanging on the stools in the kitchen, running under the turning leaves.... all the things that girlfriends who haven't seen each other in a while do.  Whether it's been a week or a year, there's no lag, no awkward pauses, you just pick up where you left off and everything is easy.  Apparently, while the rest of us were watching the surface, the athletics, the competition, Chris and Martina were having a friendship.  They hit balls together, they traveled together, they had dinner together, they laughed at each other's foibles and appreciated the other's strengths.  

They are brutally honest with one another, and that honesty is based on a lifetime of respect.
Listen to the words, but watch their faces, too.  When was the last time you said thank you to a friend?  Watch this clip til the end; it might just inspire you.


Watching the two of them last night I was reminded, once again, of how important my old friends are to me.  They have seen me at my best and at my worst.  We, like Chris and Martina, remember each other's stories often better than we remember our own.  We are caretakers and problem solvers and, as they nodded to each other in the car, "Definitely there for you, in a heartbeat."  There's nothing better than that.

There's admiration and respect for the game and the parts they each played.  Over 80 meetings they each ended up with 18 championships.  They pushed each other and drove each other and sometimes a streak would last for a long long time.  But they needed one another and fed off one another and really appreciated one another.  Listen:


One final thought.  I don't remember which of them said it, but it really doesn't matter.  Like the best of friends, sometimes:
In the beginning, especially, we had nothing in common........ but we had everything in common.
 This is why I like sports.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Tempest in a Template

22 weeks ago I changed my comment widget to one provided by IntenseDebate.  It's bulky and requires another click but it allows me to reply to your comments through my email in-box and that made it marginally more acceptable than other options.  I added the code to my template and I was off and running.... kinda.... sorta.... but the tech support was wonderful and I've stuck with it.

Now I find that JES is having issues and wants to resign from the on-line discussion.  I find that unacceptable - not his wanting to resign, but the fact that The Burrow is no longer user friendly.  Especially for such a wonderful new friend.  I'll not worry about the fact that his work computer blocks the comment sections since firewalls and I have barely more than a nodding acquaintance.  But I do wonder if others of you out there in the blogosphere have tried to comment and been thwarted by the process itself.  

If you've been reluctant to join the conversation because you don't want to be personally identified, then this is not your issue.  If you create a blogonym (your internet identity -- go crazy and redefine yourself) you can type it into the NAME box, add your email (there's no spam, I never see it, it is not saved on anyone's server, it's merely a means of insuring that you are a human and not a robo-program-spam-monster) and then leave a comment and see if you have problems.  

I hope that you don't.  I hope that you haven't.  I hope that it is an issue reserved for JES and JES alone and for whom I will fashion a solution personally tailored to the foibles of his situation.  But if this is a wide-spread problem I'd really like to know about it.  I can't ask you to comment, obviously, so send me an email at ashleighattheburrow@gmail.com and let me know what's going on.

In the meanwhile, I will be spending the rest of the afternoon looking for the code that IntenseDebate assures me is lurking in the template.  The fact that neither I nor CTRL+F can find it has been creating a gnawing knot in the pit of my stomach.  It looks like I'll be in an electronic conversation with my pals at IntenseDebate once again.

There are times when I pull at my hair and wish for the days of paper and pen, where I could put my hands on the item for which I was searching.  I wouldn't (didn't) have The Burrow then, and that would be sad.  On the other hand, I wouldn't be trying to teach myself computer programming instead of being out in the yard, digging in the dirt.  

On the third hand, the temperatures are climbing to the triple digits again, so, perhaps, I'm better served by staying indoors.

Let me know if you've had issues.  I promise to be back tomorrow with a more interesting topic.
 *****
Coda:  JES is not a whiner, nor a complainer.  He is a serious man with a serious issue who gave me the prompt for today's quickie post.  If his issue is your issue be sure to let me know.  You squeaky wheels will be getting your grease soon enough, I promise.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Come and Hike With Me


 The Happy Ladies Club is on the move again, and I'm loving it.  We drove up past the ski run on Mt. Lemmon  (have you forgotten that Tucson is home to the southern-most ski resort in the Continental USofA?) and climbed even higher.

Yes, as the sign says, we were 8800' above sea level when we paused to take these pictures.







Pausing was a good thing - the air is quite thin at that altitude and we were all feeling it.








faces blocked to protect the innocent


Happy Lady Hikers from near and far were brave enough to peer around the corner of the Fire Lookout Station to get a glimpse of the cozy living space inside.  Replete with a refrigerator, an outdoor shower, and a guy wire holding you onto the mountain..... what more does one need?








Did you think that I was kidding about the guy wire?  This is how it is connected to the roof.

Any building which requires that kind of support is not one which I choose to hold onto and peer into.


I was content to stay on terra firma and pretend to be Ansel Adams.




The undergrowth is thriving since the pines burned in the Aspen Fire, in the summer of 2003.



The ferns are doing better than the aspens and the lodge pole pines.

The soil is so poor.

The regeneration will take generations.









Meanwhile, the black-eyed susans have a chance to strut their stuff.









Most of them seem to have bloomed last week, but these two waited for us and we thank them.









There was columbine








and then there was this


and this


and this


and this


and for a while I forgot that I was in the desert.

It was a really nice hike.

Thanks for coming along.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

There's not going to be a Mayor Daley in Chicago.  My favorite city in the USofA has seen the last of the Daley dynasty, unless there's another generation waiting in the wings.  For the time being, the Democrats are all in a dither and the Republicans are absent and I am living in Tucson.  Tucson, where the streetcar project which was to be the centerpiece of a massive revitalization of downtown failed to receive further Department of Transportation funding and is now, once again, teetering on the brink of financial uncertainty.  Relying on soft money is never a great idea - soft money being the catchphrase for grants and pork and other funds which arrive after much begging and pleading.

The notion that if private business doesn't want to invest in it then maybe it's not worth doing never comes up.  I'm not talking about schools or public safety, the things which are the responsibility of the civic authorities.  I'm talking about a fun-to-ride-on modern streetcar between the University campus and the bars and restaurants downtown.  This is not public transportation as Chicago and New York know it - a reliable means to get from point A to point B with efficiency and a minimal cash outlay.  This is another gimmick designed to spice up an area that is still recovering from a 1960's urban renewal that wiped out neighborhoods and sent businesses scurrying north.  I'm not sure that carnival rides are the best solution to its woes.

Long time residents tell me that downtown once was an elegant destination.  Would that that were the case today.
*****



My youngest niece is in Santiago, Chile, studying Spanish and seeing the sites.  Her Facebook album is an interesting blend of rooftops and park benches and then there is Londres Street. 

Beautiful old buildings and luscious trees and the site of Londres 38.  General Pinochet tortured and held captive more than 1000 Chilean citizens in the building behind the smaller tree.

According to my traveling relative, the government thought that by changing the name to Londres 40 no one would figure it out.

That didn't work out too well for them, it seems.  The building is now a museum, which was open to the public for Dia de Patrinomia, a part of Chile's bicentennial celebration.  I was remembering Mature Landscaping's discussion of the Low Country mansions, built and maintained by slave labor.  Sobrina's photo of this inscription inside Londres 38/40 says it all
How do you fill this void so full of imprisoned memories?
Human history is full of examples of cruelty, no matter how far we travel.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails
 
Five Star Friday