Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Limp


I spent the morning considering Julius Caesar. Was Cicero being snarky as he praised the dictator for life for his victories and his clemency and his poetry? Did Caesar err by allowing his enemies to live? Since one of those who survived was Brutus (of Et tu? Shakespearean fame) perhaps it wasn't the best decision he ever made. Would the proposed Caesarean reforms have preserved the Republic had Caesar not been assasinated before they could be implemented? Did he really have a sexual relationship with King Nicodeme, as Suetonius's epigrams suggest? My brain was afire as I hobbled from the classroom at noon.

Three hours of sitting and listening is more than my recovering hip can handle happily. Sometimes I bring a footrest, sometimes I sit straight upright with my feet planted firmly on the ground, sometimes I cross my legs, one over the other, switching the over to the under every 15 minutes. I'm still looking for the appropriate solution. The result of stimulating my brain for hours is a stiffening of my hip joint and a hobbling gait that resembles Walter Brennan in To Have and Have Not. I'm quick but I'm wobbling.

The drive to the restaurant for lunch was too short to stretch my constricted ligaments; my gait worsened with every step. The parking lot was full; I left The Schnozz across the street in the lot for the meeting to follow and gimped into the nearly empty dining room. Where were the drivers of all those cars in the parking lot? As we ate and chatted, my friend and I watched as the Arizona Republican Club dribbled out of the meeting room behind the big wooden door to our right. Not one of the attendees walked without assitance – a cane, a walker, a friend's arm – and not one of them appeared to be younger than 70. I compared my walking abilities to theirs and I sighed.

Bette Davis was right – old age is not for sissies.

We had some more ice tea and walked across to the meeting where I found myself, once again, occupying an armless padded chair. My hip protested, but my attendance was mandatory. Leaving early was not an option. It's hard to concentrate when sitting sends shooting pains up the side of my torso, .

Tonight we're joining friends for dinner. There will be more sitting and readjusting and stabbing pains.

I'm not getting worse, though I'm not recovering as quickly as I'd like. I hurt and the rehab is hard and I'm getting frustrated and I know that if I don't keep up with the exercises and the strengthening I'll never glide gracefully across the dance floor.... not that I ever did before getting shot. 

 It is very confusing.

I parked  in a handicapped spot at the grocery store last week. I placed the blue plastic placard over the rear view mirror, grabbed my reusable bags, and amazed myself with the graceful nature of my exit from the car. I was complimenting myself as I walked evenly and precisely toward the store when my reverie was interrupted by an older gentleman who made eye contact and said “You look pretty good to be parking in a disabled parking space.” 

I stopped, I smiled, I thanked him. It felt great to be described as “pretty good” when walking was concerned.

Then I paused and reconsidered. 

 Perhaps he wasn't being kind. Perhaps he was aggravated. Perhaps he thought that I was unfairly using the placard. Perhaps he had perceived me as being whole.

I'm holding onto that thought and smiling. With motivation like that, I'll lose this limp yet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This Post is My Revenge

When he was younger, his curls were golden brown.  When asked to identify the parts of his head, he'd point to "my eyes, my nose, my ears, and my beautiful" as he got to his hair. Now, he's sitting on Douglas, twirling a few strands over and over just above his left ear.

My dad did the same thing.  I'd sit in the back seat behind my father, watching as his hands gesticulated and pointed and twirled and did everything but guide the car.  It drove me crazy.

Now my son, my nearly-a-lawyer, grins his fiendish grin as his father dodges the mister fan the kid has unearthed from beneath my bathroom sink.

It must be generational.  We are bred to make one another nutty.

He will sit beside his sister, his finger a millimeter away from her arm, declaring with that fiendish grin that he's not touching her.  Think about it - is it possible not to flinch when someone is telling you that he is not touching you?  I don't think so.

Yet his joy is so pure, his delight so genuine, it is simply impossible to be angry with him for long. We know that he won't hurt us while we assume that he will continue to annoy us.  It's frustratingly delightful.

He and I play Guillotine at the round glass-topped kitchen table.  As we drove to lunch today, I listened as he regaled his father with tales of how giving me -2 or -3 point cards always results in my losing track of everything except getting rid of those cards because they upset me so much for no real reason.  I stop playing well, I have no strategy beyond making them go away.  I always lose those games, he reminded me, giggling madly.

My prose was just interrupted as he asked if I'd seen HP7b.  "HP7b???" I queried.  Through an inordinately large smile he nodded as he expanded it.... Harry Potter ... the 7th movie ... the second part.

I ask you, denizens, how was I supposed to know that?

I remember the hike I took with my girlfriends the first time our kids were home from college.  We all had the same reaction
It's great to have them home.  I love having them home.
When are they leaving????? 



Monday, November 28, 2011

Afterglow

There's a lovely aura in our home right now.  Little Cuter and SIR have landed safely, picked up the dog, and decorated their apartment for the holiday season. Big Cuter and TBG are on the couch, snuggled under blankets, watching football and sharing esoterica.  I've baked the first batch of holiday brownies and am listening to the printer creating the labels as I type to you.  Life is good.

We were quiet and peaceful for the holiday this year.  Usually, I am the home for the otherwise uninvited; my turkey is always big enough and we've yet to finish a side dish.  But this year we kept it simple.  I picked up G'ma at the pod-castle at 2-ish.  When she asked if she had to wear fancy clothes I just laughed; sweats were the order of the day. 

There's nothing I like more in the kitchen than to watch my daughter work her magic.  Pepper Jack cheese is cut into many, equally sized squares.  Potatoes are cut into cubes, also equally sized.  Asparagus is seasoned, rolls are heated, cobbler is cobbled, and nothing is burnt.

For the first time in memory I did not burn the rolls.

The jello mold doesn't gel if I use low-fat Cool Whip.  I'll have to remember that for next year.  Aside from that, everything was perfect.  My gravy had no lumps and, though I thought it was too salty, the boys all agreed that it was perfect.  Who am I to argue?

I was smarter this year, at least that's how I'm casting it.  In reality, I forgot to order the turkey and Sunflower Market had no more free-range birds to sell me when my pouting face and I showed ourselves at the meat counter on Tuesday. The largest pre-packaged bird in the meat case was 12 pounds; our usual turkey tips the scales somewhere in the 20's.  I was anxious for a moment, then picked up a turkey breast, too.

I cooked the breast first thing in the morning and saved it for left-overs.  The house had that "good food is coming" smell all day, even thought the "real bird" didn't go int the oven til noon.  SIR and I enjoyed the drumsticks and the white meat made everyone else very happy.  There was enough for sandwiches, plates with mayo and stuffing, and rarebit on Friday night.

Now, the rarebit is another story entirely.  I've been making it from scratch since Stouffer's stopped shipping it to my supermarkets.  The recipe is more complex than I usually undertake, bu t I prepare everything in advance and hope for the best.  The best is usually soupy... tasty, but too thin.  This year I took my time and stirred everything just a little bit longer.  The result was the perfect consistency..... until it began to cool.  A slow pour turned into a sluggish ooze which morphed into a gelatinous sludge as the meal progressed.  Was it grout?  Was it spackle?  It was tasty although thick.... ok, nearly-brick-like. 

Next year I'm putting it in the fondue pot with a sterno underneath. 

Little Cuter's only culinary failures have been pies.  We are masters at making pie soup.  Our crusts are delicious, but the contents never transform themselves into a fork-able bite.  This year she skipped the whole thing and went straight to a cobbler.  Making her own dough was much simpler than she'd imagined it would be.  The results were spectacular.  I've had some every night as a bed-time snack.  The last bowlful is in the 'fridge, waiting as a reward when I finish this post.

With only grown-ups at the table, and family to boot, cleaning up was a cinch.  There were tall people to replace the fancy serving dishes on the high cabinet shelves. There were volunteers to empty the ever full garbage can whenever I called for help.  I was plied with drinks, alcoholic and sparkling and tasty, as I watched Little Cuter load the dishwasher.

It wasn't that long ago that I told G'ma to sit and let me do the dishes.  Now she and I were the watchers.  We didn't mind at all.

And now it's Sunday night and Tim Tebow has won again and the boys are still on the couch and I've made dinner and done laundry and put the pointsettias in fancier pots.  The mailing labels are affixed to the PriorityMail boxes and I've got a plan for the morning.

It's time to treat myself to that cobbler and watch the holiday season unfold.

After all, I'm done with my shopping.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Small Business Saturday, Burrow-Style

I want to go to each and every one of these places with each and every one of you.  Just look at all the fun we can have in

Bloomington, Indiana buying books at Howard's Bookstore (111 W. Kirkwood) and used ones at Caveat Emptor (112 N. Walnut). They have no web presence; we'll have to drive 45 miles south of Indianapolis and visit in person  We could buy Little Cuter something wonderful at Goods for Cooks before we stopped for dessert at BluBoy Chocolates Cafe and Cakery.  The name alone has me drooling, and then I saw the pictures of the cakes made with locally sourced ingredients.  Thanks, Little Cheese, for these ideas.

Traveling further south, just outside of Dallas we'll come to Flower Mound, Texas and Sole Groove Dance  Fitness.  So many great names, so much fun and excercise.  SEL suggests a class pass for someone who hates traditional exercise classes.  This is so totally within the spirit of the adventures post  in this series.  How about buying them for your book group or your two best friends?  It's always easier to keep to a routine if you have someone who's depending on you for company.

Somewhat closer to my own stomping grounds, we can meet at Quilters Ranch in Tempe.  Not-Kathy had to insure that there was a great quilting community before she could really consider joining us here in Tucson; from the exclamation points in Sandy's recommendation I think she'd be happy in Tempe, too.

Katiekono could meet us for a Mediterranean lunch at Saba's on Tatum and E. Bell Road.  After lunch, we could meet Laura further south at Catalina Ranch House in Catalina, your one stop shop for all things Arizona.... from the ridiculous

to the sublime


Once you're in Tucson, Leah and I would like to invite you to Mildred and Dildred and the Kids' Center (which has a fabulous website) for the kiddies, Summit Hut for all things outdoors, The Loop (immortalized in The Burrow here) for jeans, and PopCycle and Little Bird Nesting, on 4th Avenue for funky, recycled fun.  Leah's inviting us to shop on-line at her (self-described) hobby business, Barefoot Books and at her etsy shop, too.

There are Farm Boxes from CSA, yoga packages (Barefoot Studio here in Tucson or your local purveyor), and, when all else fails, a gift card from your favorite small business.  Discovery Toys (thanks KatieKono) is a smart place to shop for the young 'uns on your list, as are Tupperware and Pampered Chef and Avon and Cutco and Mary Kay... all of which are sold by your neighbors in the ultimate small business.  Sure, Target and Wally-World and Macy's and Toys R Us are open early and late and have everything, but local shopping keeps the money closer to home... and that's a good thing.

By now you should be finishing up your last bits and pieces....... as should I.... and I'm not.... but I do know where to start looking once I put on my elf hat.  Keep an eye out... maybe we'll run into one another.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For my happy, healthy family

For my friends, near and far, old and new and old-and-found-again

For the abundance of goodness I see every day

For the richness of the world I inhabit

For the fact that I am here at all, 

I am truly grateful.



Happy Thanksgiving to you all !!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving - Tuesday

My favorite parts of the holidays hearken back to the past.  Sometimes I reach to my childhood and sometimes I go back to last year.  This is the post I wrote in 2009 as I was waiting for the kids to arrive.  Life was simple and my worries revolved around keeping G'ma safe and secure as she recovered from bi-lateral broken ankles.  This year is a bit more complex, with emotional issues taking center stage at a once-again-family-only Thanksgiving dinner.  I'll be busy prepping and shopping and wedding planning.... I'm going to be recycling posts and hugging my children.

Here's how I felt back then:

I've been thinking about family and friends, as The Cuters make their way to the desert southwest for a family-only Thanksgiving. They're at their respective airports hours early, as befits a TBG-spawned human, and if the weather holds out they'll arrive in Tucson within an hour of each other. The Little Cuter will be arriving first and promises to be hungry; I'm bringing pot roast and fresh baked bread so she can feast while we await her brother. TBG thinks I'm silly; I flash to Daddooooo meeting me at LaGuardia with a bag of bagels and oranges and Coca-Cola and some chocolate candies for himself. I'm smiling as I pack the snack sack.

C&B were planning to join us, as they have every year since we've been sharing a state. Alas and alack, medical issues have altered their plans; when did we get old enough to have our bodies get in the way of life? Of course, there was the Thanksgiving when TBG and my brother and I drove 350 miles over the river and through the woods from Chicago to Nannie and Grandpaw's house, stopping at every rest area so TBG could throw up. Stomach flu seems to haunt him in late November, which is a shame because Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday. But we still went on the trip; he was young enough and healthy enough to manage the inconvenience. C&B are dealing with more serious issues and we'll have to be thankful for having them in our lives from afar this year. Don't the sickness gods recognize that we have certain traditions that ought to be respected? Perhaps they didn't get the memo.

Last year our Minneapolis snow birds invited themselves to our celebration; it was nice to know that they felt comfortable enough to announce that they were invite-less and wanted to join us. He even volunteered to cook the turkey, since he'd done it at his own home forever and ever. We accepted her offer of brownies and let him make the gravy in exchange for putting two more chairs at the table.

Amster's kids are still too young to do a grown-up Thanksgiving. Though she laughingly asks them if they were raised by wolves, being the only children at a grown-up table would put stress on even the most well-behaved 4 and 6 year olds. She's taking them to a house with other kids and a heated pool and spa. That seems to be an exceptionally wise parenting maneuver.

The Bride's mom called this afternoon to wish us a happy holiday, and the answering machine bears R-Squared's hope that we enjoy our turkey. The mailbox delivered cards from Maryland and New Jersey and my email inbox is full of Thanksgiving cheer. We may be just the 5 of us, but we're certainly surrounded by a cloud of holiday love.

I'm basking in the glow of it all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perhaps

I've been counting down since January, although I realized recently that I don't know what I'm counting down to.

When I left the hospital, someone said "In a year you won't even know this happened to you."  He or she -I remember the words, not the speaker- was referring to my physical condition, not my emotional response, but it doesn't matter.

The reality is that, as the anniversary of January 8th inches closer, I am more and more focused on thinking about what happened to me. 

The Happy Ladies Club has been hiking together for months now, without me.  The paths will be there when I am ready, I know, but I'm feeling the loss as the weather turns cooler and my polar fleece vest stares at me from the closet.  There's no need for it down here, but up on the mountain it comes in quite handy.  Were it animate, it would have grabbed my hand and asked why it was still relegated to the closet. 

The answer is simple - walking is hard work. 

I'm more limber and I'm stronger, but endurance was never my long suit and it's certainly not any more palatable these days. I am more capable, both in pilates and in the kitchen.  I can carry a heavy skillet from the oven to the cooktop with two hands, pivoting on my right leg.  I couldn't do that in August, the last time I made that meal.  I am making progress, but I still know this happened to me.

I was driving to Office Max on Saturday, NPR droning in the background, the sun shining and traffic moving well when it became clear to me that I had been shot.  I don't know what set me off, what made me say it out loud, but I found myself announcing, to no one, "I was shot.  Bullets went through me."  I could feel them ripping through my body. 

It was very odd, denizens.  Very odd indeed.  I have no memory of that actually happening to me, yet there I was, going 35 miles an hour and contemplating the confluence of weaponry and me.  It wasn't scary, just very real and very odd. 

As I move further away from the event, it seems to become closer and more immediate.  Connections between those of us who were there that morning have deepened; our hugs are longer and more intense.  The media frenzy over Gabby's book, the approaching anniversary and atttendant activities, the popping and clicking as I stand more upright and move my femur more freely, they combine to remind me.  Over and over again, they remind me.

This is not a bad thing.  It's important to keep certain memories close to my heart, sharp and clear and present. 

Christina-Taylor will always be inextricably intertwined with my Thanksgiving memories.  Donning my turkey apron, selecting serving pieces as G'ma supervises, filling the glasses with ice and water.... she will be in the kitchen on Thursday, albeit only in our hearts.  She will never be forgotten; I'll just have to imagine her growing older. 

My hip will creak and I'll scowl and groan and then I'll notice that I've carried all the heavy grocery bags out of the trunk and into the kitchen.  I wasn't doing that last month.  I didn't even try.  The lumbering gait I've adopted is better than dragging my stiff limb along with me as I locomote.... it's not walking yet but it's a closer approximation to the real thing. 

Perhaps I am putting things in perspective.  I always giggle at that phrase, wondering where perpective might be, and if it has a door I can close to contain whatever is going behind it.  I think perspective changes over time.  What was cannot be what is. I cannot stay in that dark place.  I cannot wallow in the loss and the pain and the waste. Yet, I don't want to lose those thoughts, those feelings, those important details that make up the whole.

Perhaps this is why things feel more immediate.  As they gather themselves into a bundle, preparing to occupy a lower shelf in my memory bank, perhaps I am revisiting them once again, just to be sure that I am wrapping them up safely.  Perhaps I ought to welcome the pinches of my heart and the incessant references to Gabby and Mark and the shooting.  His book tour touches down in Tucson next week.  Perhaps I'll attend. 

Perhaps is a good place for me right now.  My reality is uncertain, my past surreal, my future taking a turn off the path I'd imagined.  But I am here to tell the tale. 

Perhaps.  That may be all I am capable of right now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday Afternoon with G'ma

A jigsaw puzzle and Fiddler on the Roof made for a lovely afternoon.  The fact that I was sitting next to my mother while all this was going on lit up my heart.  It's been a long time since we played a game on a Sunday.... a very long time.

I've been avoiding her of late.  As the numbness in my thigh wears off, my brain becomes aware of the sensations that are coming in from my adductors and my abductors and my knee and my psoas and my glutes.  The muscles have atrophied after 10 months of disuse.  There is clicking and crunching and tension as my femur moves around in the socket.  I'm nervous and I'm walking stiffly.

G'ma notices and asks kindly and intensely "Why are you limping?"  There's such love in her voice and concern in her eyes and I know I'm going to make her sad once again when I say "I was shot," and that's hard to do.  I love her.  It's hard to watch her face fall and then light up as she replies "In the ass!" We both giggle before she remembers that there was a child there with me.  If we are lucky, someone will interrupt us before we get to "and she died."  It's easier if we just mouth the words to one another as we turn to our new companion.

It's been harder lately to have the conversation.  My heart is aching as we come closer to the anniversary of last January and Congress on Your Corner; being reminded of it every time she sees me walk leads me to avoid my mother. If only I could avoid the guilt.

But today, I slept late and skipped breakfast because Kinsey Milhone was racing around the edges of  a few very interesting and interrelated plot lines in Sue Grafton's latest and I couldn't put the book down to feed myself.  Big Cuter, home for the holiday, brought home burritos for lunch and, fueled by salsa and guacamole, I went to Costco on the Sunday before Thanksgiving..... and got out in less than an hour.

Having a young strong man to empty my car left me smiling and finished with my chores.  The boys were on Douglas watching men throw each other to the ground, I'd finished my novel, and I had chocolate to deliver to G'ma.  One very deep breath later I was headed to the pod castle.

I found my usual parking spot in the back and went in through the (usually empty) family room.  This afternoon I was hard pressed to make my way through the crowd.  Four residents and Olga, the recreation specialist, were huddled around the big round table, engrossed in a very odd game of checkers.  G'ma was trouncing Norman; she had a double king and was jumping all over the board, thoroughly enjoying herself.

Resting my cardboard box of goodies on the back of a walker, I watched and I smiled.  Good days are to be treasured.  I began to collect the pieces of this one for my memory book.

Once they noticed my presence and shared in the chocolate bounty the game was forgotten and replaced by a jigsaw puzzle.  As I left to put the goodies in G'ma's room we went through the limping/shot/ass/child conversation arc once again.  It didn't hurt quite as much.

Straightening out her closet, refilling the paper cup holder, and noticing that I'd better buy her a new tube of toothpaste took ten minutes or so.  My return to the jigsaw puzzle was heralded by my mother,who, in a loud, clear voice, said "Look who it is! Suzi! HI!" and my face nearly burst from the smile.  She hasn't called me by name in months.

The television was muted, but Fiddler on the Roof was showing so I turned up the sound as Tevye hosted an engagement party and men danced with bottles on their heads.  Olga was pretty excited as she found edges and roses and green shutters and Norman worked on his brick corner and G'ma just sat there, watching.  Fran was pushing the pieces around and thumbing through a magazine and G'ma was watching her, too.  I was unable to resist the pull of Olga's enthusiasm and soon I had my own little corner of the puzzle going on in front of G'ma, who, it turns out, was not watching at all.

No, she was looking for the mate to the piece in her hand, not wanting to disturb anyone else by touching a piece until she was sure, very very sure, that it would be the right one.  Olga kept encouraging her, all the while working on her own section, eyes never leaving the residents or the pieces.  Fran left, and Norman found the corner piece and G'ma noticed that my part fit into his part and we were laughing as another of Tevye's daughters decided to fall in love.

G'ma wasn't tucked under her blankets taking a nap.  She wasn't stupefied in front of The Discovery Channel or CourtTV.  She was participating and it was all Olga's fault.  According to G'ma, she is impossible to refuse.

For two years I've tried every ruse in my rucksack to get her to go to Bingo.  As I was putting the chocolate into the bowl in her room I noticed a picture on her coffee table - she and Fran smiling over Bingo cards.  Who took the picture?  Olga.

Sitting and reaching are activities in which I can engage for about an hour before my body announces its presence with authority.  We'd been working on the puzzle for well longer than that, talking about Olga's plans to become a doctor, her interim step involving radiology, and the upcoming admissions interview.  Her fluent and lilting English came after her native Russian; I imagine the American admissions process is new to her, too.

She's a bright young woman with a loving heart and a spine of steel.  Anyone who can get my mother to attend an exercise class, who can shanghai her as she passes in the hallway, who can put her to work and have her do much more than she imagined possible, this is a woman who would be an asset to any program.

Her husband, he of the biblical nomenclature, is thrilled that she has found work which feeds her passion.  Listening to her cosset and coerce and convince while respecting dignity and enjoying a laugh it was easy to see that he was right.  She accomplished what I could not.  And my mother is loving it.

And not only is she loving it, she's living it.  The caregivers tell me that she's tired when she goes back to her room after dinner and she's not staying up til all hours of the night.  Instead, she's tucking herself in by 11 and is up and having breakfast by 9.  She's interested and stimulated and having a life.

She called me by name today.

So.....

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to recommend Ms. Olga, activities specialist extraordinaire.  I cannot imagine a job or a course of study in which her demeanor, intelligence, character and capabilities would not be an asset.

I look forward to following her rising star.  I encourage you to join me in that endeavor.

*****
I might also include a link to this post.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Shopping Secrets, the Penultimate Edition

Yes, denizens, if you have been compliant shoppers/deciders/list makers your holiday gift giving needs should be well on track to completion.  This is the last post before Thanksgiving; our original plan was to be finishing up odds and ends by next weekend.  In that spirit, this post will be an eclectic mix. If you're uninterested in the tips skip on down to the last paragraph - I have a favor to ask.

Before we get to that, let's talk about Brad's Deals.  I met them at BlogHer'11 and they offered me an Amazon gift card if I'd run their badge on The Burrow for a while.  Selling ad space on my blog was sorta cool, and sure enough they were right on time with the code for the gift card.  A company which pays its bills on time is a company with which I will do business.  There are all sorts of positive blurbs on the website, but I like their own description of what they do.  
Every day, we sort through thousands of coupons, sales and promotions but only publish the best 100 or so for our readers. Our standards are high. We publish only what we would recommend to close friends and family members
Brad's a personal assistant.  He's there to make your life easier.  You fill in the box labeled "What are you looking for?" and coupons and deals appear before your very eyes.  They are for stores and sites and items you might actually be interested in - Macy's, Land's End, Canon cameras - and they always tell you that "this is the best deal we could find by $40" so you know they've checked around.

They will send you a daily email if you ask.  Beware: the deals are so amazing and the shopping interface is so seamless your credit card balance may grow and grow and grow.  Doing the research for this post cost me $120.... so far.

For something a little different, I direct you to an offshoot of Brad's called Strange Deals.  This is the place to find custom painted Nikes

not Gingerbread Men Cookie Cutters 
but NINJAMEN Cookie Cutters

and, my personal favorite,
the $11 Yodeliing Pickle

Tell me you are not smiling right now.

On a practical note, I've been thinking about gifts for the people who tend to my life.  The manicurist, the UPS and USPS and FedEX people, the dry cleaner and the grocery cashier and the masseuse.  For some, it's a financial transaction, for others it's merely fresh home made brownies and a smile, but this year I'm making it just a little bit more personal.  CTG's Foundation has these very small, very pretty, very useful butterfly magnets and I'm going to add one to each gift this year.  You can, too, by clicking here.  They aren't up on the website, but an email request will work.

I'm going to suggest that you look around you for a neglected school and consider dropping off one of those tiny Christmas trees or poinsettias that are appearing in the grocery stores right now.  Attach a card thanking the staff for educating our children and sign your name or A Grateful Neighbor, and ask the lovely people behind the front desk if they would mind placing it in the staff room.  I guarantee that you'll make some very worthy people feel very special, even if just for a moment. And I promise, it is better to give than to receive.

Now, for the favor:  Next Saturday is Small Business Saturday.  Shoppers are encouraged to patronize their local merchants .... and that's where I need help.  I'd like to highlight local small businesses, but how can I find them without you?  If you comment below, anonymously or pseudonym-ously or actually as yourself, and leave the name and contact information I'll do the rest.  Don't worry about keeping up with the comments; I'll research them and post them next Friday so that you can shop on Saturday.  I know you are in Bloomington and Brooklyn and Chicago and Marin, you are in DC and its environs, Boston and Charlotte and Charleston.  You can't be the only ones there.... share the love...... let us in on your secrets.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Seeing Change

Sea Change was sent to me by Penguin.  BlogHer is paying me for this review.  My thoughts are my own.

Sea Change is an odd book.  A novel within a novel, printed in a different font and an almost-but-not-quite-dissimilar-enough authorial voice, Jeremy Page's tirbute to the loving memory of Kate Jones never quite caught my attention.  I finished it and I never thought of it again until I sat to write this review. 


That rarely happens to me.  I'm still carrying Theodora with me, nestled up next to Dr. Faust and Cicero.  If I'm more attached to school work than I am to a novel.... well, denizens, I think it's a sign that I didn't care about the book.


Granted, coping with the death of a little girl is probably not the best theme for me right now.  Jeremy Page's best writing is the telling of the story of that afternoon, with the shining drop of dew and the frightened and then running for safety little girl, and I guess I do remember some of the book because I can feel him watching her cross the field, feel the danger rising, feel his wife and the horse and the ground beneath my feet.

I just wish the rest of the book had kept up.  Perhaps it's because I refuse to stay stuck in the past, and Guy can't seem to move beyond it.  Living a double life, his reality contorted and dysfunctional, unable to look clearly at his present and his past, this character is a mess.  It would have been a better book had he been a more likeable or interesting mess.  I wasn't thrilled with his wife's behavior, but I was much more interested in her (never revealed) reasoning than I was in Guy's immobility in response. 


Page is often a wonderful writer; his descriptions of floating on the North Sea brought me to a place I'd never thought of before.  He likes writing, but asking it to reclaim the things you've lost is a bit much. Several pages later he tells us that you remember the things you save; you don't forget the things you've lost. So which is it?  Do I need to write it down ?  How is changing the ending filling that empty place?  Like Guy, I've never knkown a space more absent than the space where a child was.  I'm just trying not to wallow in it.


And so I am back to the opening of this review.  In loving memory of Kate Jones is inscribed in the center of the last page of the print book which I held in my hand.  It felt like a cheap shot, an unexpected kick to the gut, a statement that this is quite close to a real story and who are you to judge.


Then, again, it might be my PTSD acting up. 


Sea Change is not a happy read, it's not a truly satisfying read, but it does have its moments.  I'd be happy to send you my copy if you think you'll like it more than I did.

In fact, if you are interested in reading what others have written, click on oer here and see what the BlogHer Book Club has to say about Sea Change.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PTSD and Me

I'm going along just fine, having an ordinary day.  Suddenly I'm flipping out, stomach aching and armpits sweating, as I tool along 2 miles under the speed limit behind the idiot in the car in front of me. Does he not see that there are 100 yards of empty road between him and the car in front of him?  Does he not see that the light is changing and we'll sit at the corner forever until we get the green?

I get past him, not really cutting off the bus in the right hand lane, and I'm first at the intersection. NPR is giving the traffic report instead of telling me a story and I'm furious.  I'm only going to be in the car for 13 more minutes; don't waste my time with useless drivel.  The reporter returns and tells me that Zuccotti Park has been power-washed and the tents can't go back up and some fool is screaming about changing something but I'm not sure what it is because the blood is rushing to my ears and I can barely hear.

Such is life after trauma.

Waiting for Gabby's interview was stressful, watching it was tearful, and the day after has left me raw and exposed.  Our stories are so similar that her revelations feel like my own.  When I share my thoughts with you they are my thoughts and only the ones I filter get through to you.  Last night, Gabby pointed to areas that are still tough for me.  She looked awful and bruised and "beaten up" in her husband's words and I look at my own suffering spouse and he's not on Douglas right next to me... he's back at the hospital looking at me, entubed and bloody.

For me, the hospital was a safe though sleepless place.  I was scared but I was in the right place for any problem I might encounter.  Everyone was nice to me.  Everyone was worried about me.  I was drugged.  When I was discharged I could feel every mile away from its security blanket  falling away from me and leaving me bereft.

Those who love me and saw me in that first week have a very different experience of the place.  Those who saw me when I came home have no experience of it at all.  Everyone with whom I might possibly find companionship has a different experience and none of them are mine.  It's a very lonely place to be.

I feel sorry for myself because I'm limping and I'm mad at myself because I'm whining.  I want to visit G'ma but my hip hurts so I drive by and don't make myself get in and out of the car and walk down her hallway and reply when she asks me why I am limping.  I feel guilty, then I'm aggravated, then I'm furious.

There is laughter and there are tears and there is stress - that's life.  This is something entirely different.  This strikes at the id, the scary piece that runs out of control and puts me in places I'd rather not go.  Mine runs in the lane next to my normal side; I feel myself screeching and I feel myself watching in amazement.

It's very odd, denizens.  Very odd indeed.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Contemplating the ABC Interview

The woman is a force of nature.  Her persona grows and grows. She is present although she is absent.

Gabrielle Giffords was elected to Congress by District #8 here in Southern Arizona and as far as we are concerned she's still our Representative.  When we needed her in Washington she interrupted her therapies and flew in to cast her vote.   No Democrat can declare until Gabby decides not to run in 2012:
I am operating under the presumption that Gabby's going to be well enough to run," said Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers. "I don't think she'll have to run a terribly vigorous campaign. If voters are convinced that she's mentally capable of doing the job, she can run a less vibrant campaign than she has in the past." (Arizona Star,11/13/11)
I'm sure that last sentence infuriates the Congresswoman.  I'm sure she's grinding her teeth with those strong facial muscles which she's developed over months of grueling, painful, frustrating rehabilitation.  She's not putting in all that work to run a less vibrant campaign.  I just can't believe that could be true.

It's right there that I realize why people are interested in my story.  I'm answering the question myself.

I need Gabby to get better for all sorts of reasons.  Some of them are related to her, it's true.  My husband and I were the recipients of the wonderfulness that was Mark Kelly in the hospital and our hearts and prayers and thoughts and good wishes are with him every minute of every day.  He's a great guy. Gabby's a bright and beautiful young woman cut down in her prime, triumphing over adversity, refusing to give up (cliches are cliches because they are true). She's heroic at a time when heroes are hard to come by.  The thought of those two going through this just breaks my heart.

But there's more going on for me.  My hip and I are stuck in an uneasy alliance right now.  I'm encouraging it to do more and it's reminding me that I've neglected the surrounding muscles for 300 some days.  I'm  paying the price.  I'll admit it - I'm whining a lot.  I can get around, but it's a less vibrant walk ... and there I am, needing Gabby to get  better, to keep trying, to push through the pain, not because she'll be better for it but because each time I decide that I've had enough I remind myself that, yes I took 3 bullets but none of them went through my brain.

That's a very hard sentence to type.  I'm not sure how to punctuate it and I don't want to read it again to figure it out.  My hip (all right, my ass and the whole right side of my right leg) is talking to me right now, and the message is loud and clear - OUCH - but my heart hurts even more.

We were there, together.  The same gun damaged us.  The same EMT's and Sheriffs and strangers helped us.  We are part of the same piece of history, but, for us, it's our personal story, too.

What happens to her happens to me.  Or so it seems.  There's no real reason that our fates should be tied together, but I rarely think of Christina-Taylor without thinking of Gabby, too. Since I talk to Christina throughout the day (my therapist says this does not mean that I am crazy) I spend a lot of time wondering What's Gabby doing right now?

I worked in a rehab hospital where I saw the most amazing recoveries on the neurology service.  I close my eyes and I see the hallways and the therapists and I feel the hope and the frustration and the anxiety and the love.  I open my eyes with Gabby making this happen, getting better, taking charge of the situation and fixing it.......

And she can't and I can't and it's awful.  Simply and truly and honestly awful.  It could be worse.... it could always be worse...... but our pain, our loss, our struggles are our own and they are awful.  We are different and the same all at once.  We are separate and we are bound together and it's just another piece of the paradox.

The connection extends to The Bride,god-child-extraordinaire. She texted "I love you, miss you, & am very proud of you," and I knew without further explication that living in Birminglox Alabama she'd seen Gabby and Mark and Diane Sawyer at 9pm Eastern time and she'd reached out and touched me as soon as it was over.

I don't imagine that I figure in the interview at all.  She was just feeling the connection. It's the same thing that happened at the grocery store yesterday; everyone wants to know how Gabby is doing.  I don't know.  We weren't friends; Christina-Taylor and I were constituents.  I'm still waiting for my handshake and my picture.  But the cashier and the lady at the yams and the bagger were all convinced that I knew what she was feeling.  I've told them for the last 10 months that I really don't know, but they don't seem to hear it.

Maybe they can't.  I know I can't stop thinking of Gabby as mine.

I want to give her a hug.  Instead, I'm going to eat a piece of pie and grab a box of tissues. Diane Sawyer starts in 10 minutes.

(If you want to see what I said after the show, click over to BlogHer.  They actually paid me for my thoughts..... it takes a few seconds to load.... don't get frustrated.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Read the Indictment

I wasn't going to read it.  I wasn't going to bring it into my home.  I could imagine the worst and that was enough... for a while.

I watched drunken college kids who couldn't see further than Saturday's Big Game overturn a truck and give student protests a bad name.  I wondered where the University's official reaction was hiding, and whether the Student Government was there, too.  Mark May was furious

I found myself agreeing with something about which I had no firsthand knowledge.  It's one thing to be told that the Grand Jury's report was disturbing, it's another to make that determination myself.  

So, I read the report.  Disturbing doesn't begin to describe it.  Sickening.  Horrifying.  They come closer.  Mostly, though, it's very very sad.

There are eight Victims' stories recounted, and they are appallingly similar.  The gifts were the same - golf clubs, clothes, tailgate parties with the Sandusky family (yes, he has a wife and 6 adopted children) before games, tickets and trips and sleepovers in the basement.

What went on atop the mattress in that bedroom had me sighing then crying by Victim 4.  Victim 5 was 7 or 8 when Sandusky attacked him in the shower.  Reading that "he was extremely uncomfortable and pulled his hand away and slid by Sandusky" had me moaning out loud.  


There's only one parent mentioned. Where were they? The Grand Jury reminds us that Coach recruited his victims from Second Mile, his "charity dedicated to helping children with absent or dysfunctional families." These were lost boys, with no one to speak for them.


The culture of God - I heard that several times today. It's another reason I read the report. Could the football program be that powerful? I didn't believe it.... Indiana fired Bobby Knight, Ohio State fired Woody Hayes ... and their offenses were against fully clothed college students in very public spaces. Sexual abuse of a 10 year old? No way Penn State let this by.


I couldn't understand why the graduate assistant didn't pursue the issue. His first call was to his father. He was 28 at the time. He didn't call the police. He called home. That felt just a little bit odd to me. Big Cuter is 28. He loves his Dad, trusts his Dad, admires his Dad, seeks advice from his Dad, but I have to think that his first call would have been to the police, no matter how good a defensive coach the rapist might have been. Could Joe Paterno's power be that powerful?


The issue required investigation. I needed answers, and I found them in the Grand Jury's report. Indicted-for-perjury University Senior Vice President Gary Schultz "never reported the 2002 incident to the University Police or other police agency, never sought or reviewed a police report on the 1998 incident and never attempted to learn the identity of the child in the shower in 2002. No one from the University did so. Schultz did not ask the graduate assistant for specifics. No one ever did. Schultz expressed surprise upon learning that the l998 investigation by University Police produced a police report. Schultz said there was never any discussion ... about turning the 2002 incident over to any police agency." (Bold is mine - I was groaning out loud at this point.)


Wondering whether to believe that the incident really happened? "The Grand Jury finds the graduate assistant's testimony to be extremely credible. That's good enough for me, especially when, several pages later, "(t)he Grand Jury finds that portions of the testimony of ...... Gary Schultz are not credible" Which parts were incredible? The parts where he denied hearing the graphic descriptions of what the graduate assistant saw.


They knew and they did nothing. They saw this man in the hallways, on the sidelines, in the shower .... what kind of place is State College, anyway? The last story in the indictment answers that question. Read it and weep.


"In the fall of 2000, a janitor named James "Jim" Calhoun observed Sandusky in the showers ... with a young boy'. What he saw upset him so that "Jim was shaking .... his fellow employees feared Jim might have a heart attack. All the employees working that night ... were relatively new employees. In discussions held later that shift, the employees expressed concern that if they reported what Jim had seen, they might lose their jobs." Their supervisor was told; he told Jim "to whom he should report the incident, if he chose to report it." 


Apparently, Jim needed his job. The report ends like this:  
No report was ever made by Jim Calhoun. Jim presently suffers from dementia, resides in a nursing home and is incompetent to testify.  
Victim 8's identity is unknown.
The details are uncomfortable but everyone should read them.  We should hug our children and tell them that all touching should feel just like this ... and when it doesn't you run like hell..... screaming as loudly as you can.... and don't shut up until somebody listens to you.

Would that the Second Mile kids had had parents like you and me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shopping for The Troops

It's Veteran's Day.  I have a nice post I like to share, and I'll do that after we talk about what to send and how to send it.

I'm starting backwards, with how to send it.  After lots of practice, I realized that it was easier to start with the box and fill it as I collected the items.  My house stayed neater, I had a sense of what else might fit, and it forced me to mail it when it was full.  I never had a spare bedroom filled with potential goodies.... at least that was the plan,



So, to enable you to learn from my mistakes, let me suggest a trip to the post office (or USPS.com and does anyone else wonder why it's not dot gov?).  A Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate Box stacks neatly and travels safely to all parts of the globe, and the USPS gives it to you for free.  If you order on-line you get a package of 10.... free.... no charge for shipping.  


Take it home, tape the bottom securely, and open your mind to the opportunities. 


Ms. CheeseHead (GO PACKERS!) is making cooling neck wraps for her nephew serving in Afghanistan.  They have to be tan (too bad, the red/white/blue ones were pretty awesome) and they require a lot more effort than I have energy to expend, but you know that the guys in his group are going to love them.  Anything handmade will feel like home, and that just has to be a good thing.


My InBox informed me that expired coupons can be used on overseas military bases, and that our military families find them helpful in making ends meet.  I can't even begin to explore how appalling that is... but I can show you how to help
. I support Troopons: Coupons for Troops
If you are anything like me, your desktop, purse, reusable grocery bags are all holding those coupons you would have found really useful had you remembered that they were there.  Instead of groaning and tossing them, click through to Coupon Cabin and see how easy it is to turn forgetfulness into thoughtfulness.  If you are really good, or have children with time on their hands, spending an afternoon cutting coupons and mailing them off is a crafty way to do a good deed and have a chance to listen in on what's really going on in their lives.

What to pack inside that box?  Magazines and paperbacks and puzzle books (remember the writing implements!) are good to line the bottom and sides.  Individually wrapped foodstuffs (avoid peanut products) are better than big bags of loose items.  Think fit inside a breast pocket.  Animal crackers have a nifty resealable inner pouch which has been proven to be effective against desert sands.  I have this on good authority.  

Personal care items are always appreciated.  Dark socks, unscented wet-wipes, small packets of tissues, hand lotion, dental floss - look at what you use in the morning, what makes your day a little bit easier, then see what's on special at the small business nearby and do a good deed in all sorts of directions.  Think AA-batteries and notepaper and thumb tacks and a deck of cards or game of Boggle or travel yahtzee.  

My favorite thing of all to send is cards - birthday, graduation, wedding, New Year, Mothers' Day..... there are never enough in the PX and my desk was over-flowing with Disabled American Veterans and St. Jude's Children's Hospital and and and cards from all sorts of worthy organizations which were sent on their way and put to good use immediately.  

Finally, I found this suggestion on anysoldier.com
Beanie Babies!
No kidding! A really good excuse to get rid of those things (don't buy new ones, collect them from your house and ask your friends)!! Send some in every package to ALL units as they are really easy for the Soldiers to carry with them and give to the local kids who love them. These are better then small plastic toys which will break easily and are not as easy to carry in a pack. There is NO more effective ambassador for our country than a Soldier helping the local folks.
I have finally found a way to separate my kids from their childhood treasures!  Here's to emptier closets and fuller hearts and a wonderful holiday season.

Now, here is my thank you to those who have served.




".... our Star Spangled Banner yet waves....."


"......purple mountains' majesty....."

Remember :

Say "THANK YOU !!" to someone who served.

And, perhaps, a moment of silence at 11am.....
when the shooting stopped forever..........
the first time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Right Invitation to the Wrong Party

FAMB knows that this story is true.

As a junior in high school, I could have gone to the Senior Prom.  The boy who wanted to take me was nice enough, but he liked me much more than I liked him, and I didn't want to lead him on.  I certainly wanted to go to the prom.  I just didn't want him to think I was his girlfriend.  I told the intermediaries that he shouldn't ask me (it was a long long time ago, children, and the rules were different) and that was that.  I was sad on Prom Night, but my heart knew that I'd done the right thing.  I'd missed an event, but I'd been true to what was right.  

It's as real to me this afternoon as it was in 1968.  As Aaron Sorkin put it, the memory helped to bring a murky problem into specific relief.

After ignoring their calls for more than a polite period of time, I agreed to a friend's plea that I speak to the group's representative.  This was not a chore - he was young and charming and a fellow Cornellian and a gardener and the more we talked the more it became obvious that he could easily pass for the Cuters' older brother.  

That was part of the problem, I think.  I liked him so I wanted to like what he was selling.  It was a dangerous combination.  

The issue is fraught with emotional overtones, overtones I was dismissing as he was reminding me of their presence.  With passion and reasoned argument he explained the dire consequences and the relatively uncomplicated solution.  He was a good salesman and he had a great product.  The hook was set and he began to reel me in.  

Don't think for a moment I was anything but flattered to be asked to join them. But don't assume, either, that I gave it the consideration it deserved.  I got excited and I jumped in with two feet.  Sure, I'll talk to the media.  Sure, I'll go on the morning shows.  Sure, I'll lobby the Senate.  Sure, I'll fly, changing planes.  I won't have any problem getting around.  I can take a cab if it's too far to walk.

There was no reflection, no thought, no intelligent questioning.  He was offering an adventure and I was signed on before we hung up the phone.  Then reality set in.  TBG was the first to weigh in.  "Good for them - they recognize that you are a presence," came just before "There are crazy people out there... please don't put your face on this issue" burst forth.  Talk about passion.  The man was intense.

I ignored it and went on planning but I was uncomfortable.  I was flattered and I was anxious.  I was holding the paradox in my hands and trying to be kind to myself and true to myself and not letting events dictate my reactions .... it was exhausting. 

There was never any question that my young friend was using me.  We talked about it and laughed about it and agreed that they would write and I would rewrite my script and that I wouldn't say anything I didn't believe and the whole time I was vaguely uncomfortable.  It was free floating and hard to attach to anything specific but the attitude I've been nurturing during my recovery,  my gentle calm, was shattered.

It never really repaired itself.  I had a weekend to think about it and talk about it and get input but it wasn't until Little Cuter and I talked it out that everything became clear.  It was the right invitation to the wrong party.  

There were too many items on the down side of the ledger.  The fun parts remained untarnished. The negatives pierced my heart.  I worried about disappointing and not living up to expectations and becoming too fearful to act but when all was said and done I had to trust my gut.

The only parenting mistakes I made occurred when I didn't trust that little bit of anxiety that hides beneath my transverse abdominus muscles.  I couldn't ignore the fact that I wasn't sleeping well, that I was barely hungry, that my mind was racing in a thousand directions and none of them were ending in happy places.

My decision was reinforced after I spent the morning attending to details for an upcoming project here in Tucson.  Emails, phone calls, a golf cart ride, more emails and some updating..... and through it all I was smiling.  I got up from the desk with a spring in my stride and I noticed it.  I noticed it because it had been absent since I made that first phone call.  

As the legal experts in my life tell me, that is dispositive. It requires no more explication.  I'm happy and I'm not going and I am in charge of my life.  It was nice to be asked..... I'm respectfully declining.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Facilities and Their Parking Lots

I was at a planning meeting today.  Many agencies and constituencies were represented.  Some of the representatives were wearing impressive uniforms with shiny badges.  Some of the representatives could have used a shave.  

Some participants spoke in answer to every statement, every comment, every question.  Some said nothing at all.  No one dozed off, although I noted several smart-phone-checks.  Only one person left mid-stream to take a call; I'm finding that to be quite less than the norm these days.  

Those with the most power never said a word.  Those representing entities which report to Boards were the most invested in the minutiae.  That's where the parking lots come in.  

Parking will be an issue.  Whether dignitaries show up and complicate matters, or whether it's 12 people and 2 dogs, the preparations are the same.  No one wants to be caught off guard.  We all agree that planning for more is better than being surprised and unprepared.  It's somewhat overwhelming for me to think about, but everyone else at the table had a "been there, done that" attitude which helped to calm me down.

Actually, that's not entirely true.  The parking lot people had done this before and they were quite anxious and that was easily transmitted across the table and down into my soul.  "Our lot is designed for slow moving traffic." "Our registration takes place that morning."  "People use our facility quite heavily at that time of year."  "Will the signs be visible from both directions?  Our members might get confused."  "I'll hear complaints ...."

And none of those were calming thoughts.

Answers were given and plans were made and if really important people plan to show up none of our plans will be useful at all but we are on our way to knowing what will happen, who will need what forms, who will call whom.  Several constituencies have yet to weigh in.  I'm going on a golf cart to survey the route tomorrow.  There are many more facts to be gathered, but the process is moving forward.

The parking lot people are still anxious.  I don't know what to do to assuage their pain.  I have so many many many other things on my mind right now that parking lots make me want to laugh or cry or scream or wonder why in the world people need to assume obstacles before they've heard the plan.  

I need to take a cue from those with the most power.  I have to learn not to say a word.  I have to learn to take it in and use what is necessary and toss the rest.  It's a worthy goal..... might I be able to work it up into a resolution?

Great.  Just what I need.  Another project.   

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Random Thoughts

I'm really confused by Herman Cain.  Is it possible that he is as clueless as he appears?  It can't all be a case of Gotcha! by left wing media stooges, can it?  Ann Coulter adds to my perplexity.  As a fellow Cornellian, I know that she received a top-notch college education.  If you start at the beginning of the clip you can try to make sense of it yourself.  For me, it's another example of Republican tone-deafness, right up there with the Glock raffle earlier this year here in Tucson.


Oh, Ann.  Our blacks are so much better than their blacks?  I don't even know where to begin..... so I'm leaving.
*****
Joe Paterno hears that one of his coaches was seen in the shower room with a 10 year old boy and he sends a note to the principal?  That's the least I'd like to think .... and that's just for the presence of the kid in the space, let alone what the graduate assistant saw that upset him so much.  Of course, no one told anyone the particulars, because that's how these things are spun.  But, as Michael Rosenberg writes in SI.com today, Joe Paterno, Penn State didn't do what was right.

Once again, some of the best writing I read comes from Sports Illustrated.
*****
TBG and I have been battling chest colds for a week or more.  We've blamed it on the changing barometric pressure, on allergens blown up by the edge of the haboob, on lack of sleep and too busy days but we've finally given up, we're giving the devil his due, and admitting it : we are sick.

Of course, neither of us will seek medical care.  It's just a cold, after all.  Instead, we will thank Proctor and Gamble for sending a box of goodies after BlogHer'12.... because inside that box was cough medicine  just like nearly the same as  reminiscent of honey.  Free and effective - perfect!
*****
Left an event early last night so that I could pick up a girlfriend and drive downtown to see Calexico at The Rialto.  Our tickets were at will-call and they were the comfy reserved seats up in the loge.  The ones with perfect sight lines and a place to rest my achy leg and the aisle right there for dancing.... yes, those seats.  It was the concert to wrap up Tucson's Day of the Dead celebration.

The celebration included a parade.  We knew that.  What we didn't know was that the entire downtown area would be barricaded.  We drove down Alameda three times, making the same U-turn beside the same car loading the same green lighted shrine into their truck.  We tried going across 6th a few times - both east and west.  We went south to Broadway and cut west, heading for the underpass and downtown but there we were again, headed toward Alameda.  I drove on Council Street for the second time in two months. Entering I-10 south of downtown, we tried the Congress Street exit but it, too, had those barricades.

It wouldn't have been so bad if there had been someone manning the barricades, someone to tell me how to get to The Rialto for the show.  But, alas, there was no one.  We were thwarted.  We continued west to Miracle Mile and drove north to Swensons.  Ice cream almost fixed the ache of missing the show.... almost.  Sigh.
*****

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday on A Leg and A Half

I was a very busy person on Sunday.  I don't think that I could have been busier.  I was productive and purposeful and tended to myself and my home and my family.  I did what needed to be done and I finished each task before I began another.  I have a few new cuts and scrapes which make me very happy - I haven't done anything which could have cut or scraped me until Sunday.  The tiny scratches are a physical manifestation of the progress I've made.

I have to keep thinking of these things.  I need a distraction.  My leg hurts.  Bending brings more than a twinge to my glute and my quads and my soul.   The weed in the basket below?

I wanted to pull it out by the root but I was too weary to maneuver myself down to the ground and poke around in the hesperaloe.  It was that kind of a day - fun mixed with discomfort.  I was busy balancing the paradox .  
I got the petunias into the pots.
I moved the irrigation tubing into the pots.
I moved the river rocks out of the way and I moved the pot closer to the pillar.
It was heavy.
I put the rocks back.

And then I did it all again with another pot.
By the time they were in place I didn't have the energy to cover up the extra tubing.
I'm planting and that's a good thing.
I'm leaving one piece unfinished, and that's annoying.
The paradox doesn't get any more comfortable.
But the yellow stripe in these black petunias can certainly make me smile.
Taking off my gloves and feeling the warmth of the potting soil as I separate the transplant's roots and lay them gently but firmly out to the sides makes me grin.  
I'm almost happy enough to ignore the sharp stabbing in my hip.

I switched out the hanging basket, hopeful that this variety of million bells will withstand the sun and the wind.
The portulaca (below) was the previous tenant of that space but since it now looks like Medusa's head
I'm happier with it in a less conspicuous spot.

Something, or somethings, are growing in the 4th container.
I know not what they are, but, in keeping with my resolution to nurture volunteers, I decided not to plant over them.

Instead, I put the rest of the petunias in the front courtyard.

I'm taking a chance with an Arabian Jasmine. 
The label says it blooms from June through September.
I have white sweet smelling buds right now.
It's November........ I'm just sayin'......

I got Concert Pal's final succulent into the ground, and cannibalized some existing irrigation to get it started.
That's not amended soil; it's worm castings.
Yup, worm poop.
It's a natural fertilizer, has no odor, is easy to apply, and is brought to the Master Gardeners by the purveyors every Fall and spring.  It's supposed to be watered in, but the clouds were rolling in and my hip was telling me that dragging the hose was out of the question.  
I decided to listen to it.

I rearranged the scarecrows, taking away the pumpkin heads and making them more Thanksgiving appropriate.  The rain last week had smooshed them and flattened them.
They needed some TLC.

And then I put away the Halloween decorations and took out the Thanksgiving boxes and distributed their contents around the house.  I took the emptied boxes back out to the garage, put them in the closet and closed the doors.
Those doors have not been shut since December, 2010.

I'm making progress.
Even if it hurts.




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