Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Adventures in Tucson - The Flandreau Planetarium

Grace Flandreau died with great riches, much of which she left to Tucson.  Her friends decided that a planetarium would be a wonderful use of the money.  Her biographical plaque didn't say why. I was left with a hole in my fountain of knowledge, a hole which grew deeper as the afternoon went on.  We had a wonderful time, my boys and I, and I'd hate for you to end with that impression.  It's just that it could have been so much more.

Miss Vicki and Scarlett and I went to the opening of the new projection system last Fall.  The speaker was delighted with his new toy, whose computerized technology was hidden from our view.  All we saw were two boxes resembling slide projectors, nestled in niches near the ceiling. 
It was much less fascinating than Hector Vector, which it replaced.
Even the worker bees loved Hector.  Can you see his Santa hat?
 
But Hector was lowered into his pit in the middle of the auditorium, and a tentative young man took us on a pedantic and puerile tour of our sun's planetary system.  There were interesting graphics outlining orbits and constellations, but he didn't explain any of them.  He related dry facts without ever mentioning that the images he was projecting on the ceiling were real photos taken by real satellites.  Only when an image revealed black parallelograms did he think to tell us that the cameras hadn't been over every part of the planet, and that was why those areas were dark. 
 
I had to stop to realize that all the pictures which had come before were not computer graphics.
 
There were questions from the crowd, and he made a valiant attempt to answer most of them, but there wasn't much substance in the replies.  Little kids were opening their brains to science, and he was leaving them flat. 
 
His lack of enthusiasm annoyed me, so I let my mind wander back, as I sat in the dark to the Rose Planetarium in New York City right next to the Museum of Natural History.  I spent many wonderful afternoons in that square block of Manhattan.  I've eaten hot dogs on the steps of the Museum, and I've wheeled my ancient father in his Transporter ("It is not a wheelchair Goddammit!") to the front of the start show line. 
 
We were escorted to an elevator then ushered past hundreds of patrons who had been waiting patiently and we were seated in the front corner of the viewing area.  "Primo seats, Sir," was the attendant's parting comment.  My father true to form, wondered why he was being patronized. 
 
There wasn't much similarity in the depth or the breadth of the NYC program when compared to that in Tucson. But, for the day after Christmas, it was a perfect way to while away a few hours.
 
Lest you forget that we had a really good time, let me share one of my favorite signs in all of Tucson.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Instructions

Zanner and I put together a multitude of Little Tykes playsets.  She, newly divorced and childless, I, newly retired and overwhelmed, sat on the floor of my living room with orange and blue and yellow plastic tubes and steps and connectors neatly organized by size and shape.  Our heads were invariably cradled in our hands. The instructions were inscrutable.

Written in Korea or China or Taiwan by humans fluent in languages other than English, there was no recourse to grammar or sentence structure or definitions; the pages had a logic all their own. Each piece was designed to slip easily into its corresponding section, or so the pages would have us believe.  The reality was always much more complicated.

Hours passed.  Laughter turned to tears turned to anger.  It was a good thing that Big Cuter was too young to understand the verbiage; it was certainly not rated for an infant's ears.  We managed to get the slide attached to the climbing house.... or so we thought until we stood the whole thing up and realized that the damn thing was inside instead of outside.  I'll never forget her face as she wondered how much I really wanted my son to have this particular toy..... if looks could kill I wouldn't be typing to you right now.

Thankfully, that phase of childhood ended.  As they matured, the kids were much more competent than I at assembling their presents.  When 650 piece Leggo sets arrived, I deferred to their father.  My role was to keep him from hurting them after they began disassembling the castle he'd spent two days constructing.  It was his sister's Christmas present, I was out of that loop..... thankfully.

 
All this came screaming back to me on Christmas afternoon.  SIR sent me his magic shirt folding device after I'd ooh'ed and aah'ed about it as I folded their laundry.  Place the shirt in the middle.  Flip the right side.  Unflip.  Flip the left side.  Unflip. Flip the bottom. Unflip.  Voila! You have a perfectly creased t-shirt to sit neatly in your drawer.  I was hooked. 

Creating the connections was not as simple as it might have been.
It was a blast from the past..... and not a pleasant blast at that.
In that moment, I was back on the floor, three decades ago, screaming at inanimate, colorful, plastic, pieces with no discernable markings to guide me.
 
Let me quote from the front of the instructions. 
*Design of movable ring, adjustable thickness, in use, thin clothing
*The durable material, strong toughness, ductility, can use millions of times.
 *Only 3 steps, 3 seconds can be finished garment finishing
*Trousers, shirt, pajamas, T-shirts, thick clothes can be used.
Where to begin?  The random "in use" in the first line?  Ductility and strong toughness in the second?  All those finish words in the third?  Only the last line gave me hope. 


Then I turned the page over.

There were only four pieces to the device.  None of them were numbered or labeled in any way - front /back, left/right, up/down.

The instructions labeled them 1 through 6.

The first use of installation and operation section began with this:
   Open the packaging, install the 2.6 can be used.

In retrospect, 2 and 6 were identical and thus could have been installed interchangeably without a problem.  I spent much too much time looking for piece 2.6.

The diagram became my friend, as the words were more and more hilarious
1second piece four fixed angle First piece inserted. 
2second piece eight fixed holes Press in fixing
3sixth piece four fixed angle Fifth piece inserted
And on it went. 

There was an arrow pointing to a thin coat of interval.

We were flummoxed.

1 different interval time. Will be first 4,5 demolition. Open.

Big Cuter began to be interested ---- demolition sounded like fun.

And we laughed and we pressed and we jiggled and we coaxed and suddenl the whole thing was together and I was sitting on the floor of the living room with a pile of clean Cuter clothes and the perfect tool to create small, neat piles.

I am very glad that SIR and Little Cuter are in charge of FlapJilly's creations this time around.



 



 
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Remembering

I love my son. Among his many talents is an aptitude for heavy lifting. When his father and I were young and spry we set a good example for him.  One of his favorite stories is emptying his Junior year apartment at Georgetown, me in gym shorts and a tank top and sneakers, carrying two boxes precariously balanced in my arms as I maneuvered down the steps past another mother, this one dressed in silk and pearls, delicately holding a dry cleaning bag, containing one dress, as she wondered where the rest of her family was hiding.

As age and infirmities and bullets have intervened, we've come to rely on Big Cuter's presence for heavy arranging.  This afternoon, in between bouts of Guillotine, he was on the ladder in the garage, bringing down boxes labeled Psych Books and Cornell Papers and Law School Stuff.  I can promise you that none of the treasures contained within that cardboard has been seen in this century.... or the latter half of the previous century, if I think about it.  We've had children and careers and a dozen or so homes and we've carted this stuff around to each of them.
Some of it will be saved forever.  My foreign doll collection (when Europe was a lot more than just a web click away) will be dusted off when FlapJilly is a little bit older.  
Spain, Holland, Israel

But do my heirs really need my assessment of the juvenile justice system circa 1974?  Will anyone be grateful that I saved the program from the conference at which I presented a short program in 1977?  As I went through Daddooooo's desk when we sold our ancestral manse, I held his fourth grade report card and wondered.... would anyone else ever care?  Today I laughed with Big Cuter as I predicted the same fate for him and his sister..... unless he schlepped the boxes and I made some decisions this week.

I'm so very very very glad I did.  On the top of the Cornell box was this letter to me, from my father, at the end of my freshman year.  Universities were blowing up all over the country, and Cornell was no exception.  We were ending the semester early, closing the campus in protest.  The shootings at Kent State were eleven days old.  I was involved in the outskirts of the protest movement, but I'd traveled to Washington, D.C. the month before to join the Mobilization to End the War.  I'd gone with tear gas protection and a promise to stay safe.  Reading this as an adult, as a parent, is a different experience than being 18.
And because I was one of the few people who could read his handwriting, I'll retype it for you here:
5/15/70
Dear Suz
The Ides of May are upon us and we yet survive.
Hope you are very fine and well and I look forward to seeing you soon and having you around.
Lots of platitudes floating around in my head but don't want to annoy you with them but this is not a platitude      LOVE! Daddy.
 
Some things are worth saving.  Perhaps, thirty or forty years from now, The Cuters will have a similar moment.  I'm donating the books and saving the letters. They can decide.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Nannie's Christmas (Redux)

This post is reprinted from several years ago.
I've spent this holiday thinking about her.
I decided to share her with you.
*****

Her birthday was December 26th.  No wonder her son, whose birthday is January 2nd, and she didn't care that much about celebrating the event.  The big deal had already happened. For each of them, I think, that was the way it ought to be.

She was a presence, my mother-in-law.  A great athlete in her youth, and her son's youth, by the time I met her she was on her cancer/heart/macular degeneration way toward the end.  I never ran the bases in Awful Arabs vs Terrible Turks family baseball games in the backyard, but I heard tales of her smacking the ball far enough for the littlest one, who grew up to be my Big Guy, to make it all the way home.

Home was what she made.  G'ma kept us fed and clothed and I always knew I was loved, but home for me was overlaid with a patina of angst, of worry, of waiting for the next shoe to fall.  According to TBG, home for him was safety and comfort and laughter.  It was his mom.

He remembers her sitting at the breakfast room table, laughing at a ribald joke told by her big brother, who'd stop by to see how she was doing in the late afternoon.  He remembers her sangfroid when he was caught smoking cigars beneath Teddy Mortimer's stairwell.  He remembers her whistling louder than any mom should ever be able to whistle, calling the kids and the dog home for dinner.

I remember Christmas.

I'd been to their home before, but Christmas was different.  I watched.  I paid attention.  I took mental notes. All the things my family cherish here are directly descended from that first Christmas, my very first Christmas.

I never missed it growing up, a fact that surprises TBG to this day.  My friends were Jewish, my neighborhood was Jewish, and I had my menorah to light up eight separate nights.  I didn't think I was missing anything.  But, as Big Cuter says, "once you've seen Christmas you realize it's great!" I was hooked from the start.

I think Nannie recognized a kindred spirit from the get-go; we never exchanged a hurtful word.  Strong-willed, she was always willing to listen to another opinion.  She loved to learn, and all things Jewish became a major topic between us.  We learned from one another, she encouraging me to light the Chanukah candles when the holidays coincided, I asking for help in explaining Easter to a toddler.  There was respect, there was love, and there was shopping.

Oh, yes, denizens, there was shopping.  She was good at it.  She enjoyed it.  She never wasted time or money.  She found what she wanted because she knew how to ferret it out.  She was a good teacher, and I an attentive pupil.  After a while, she didn't have to ask if I wanted it.... she just knew.

The fancy presents have been out-grown.  The sentimental mementos remain bright and shiny, just like my memories of her joy when I opened the white cardigan with pearl buttons she'd remembered I'd lusted for months before.  Did I mention that she was perfect?

Her gifts struck the right note - not too silly, not too treacly. Like this Santa from 1980
which has hung at the bottom of my tree for the last .... oh, dear.... 32 years.  He has his own special box, with clouds  behind the hard plastic which holds him in place. I laugh with Nannie's ghost every time I put him away.

Though her house gifts were seasonally colored,

the woman was obsessed with ducks.
There were wooden ones and felt ones and stone ones which hung from the ceiling and rested atop the televisions and the shelves and were nicely complemented by the pterodactyl which flew in the window between the tv room and the living room. When she died, I chose dish towels as my piece of the inheritance
 I've never regretted my decision.

Auntie Em was an Avon Representative for a while.  I was the beneficiary of many fragile ornaments which did not survive the many moves and trees they adorned.  These little angels are called Nannie and Grandpaw
and were also part of the stash I took home.  There were lots of fancy glass pieces and collections of Tobey mugs and commemorative spoons, but the simple, silly things
like this winking Santa, are the ones I treasure most dearly.  They are Auntie Em and Nannie and Cleveland in the snow.  They are long walks after huge meals and cousins of all ages and descriptions dropping in just as the ball is snapped for the final down of the game they'd been waiting for all vacation long.

As the ornament I snagged reminds me
How lucky I was to have so much of it.

Happy Birthday, Maw.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

MERRY MERRY MERRY TO ONE AND ALL



I give you, today, my all-time favorite Xmas carol, courtesy of Walt Kelly and Pogo. Sing loudly and lustily to the tune of Deck the Halls.....
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!
Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!
Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof(Picture is from Robert Sabuda's The Night Before Christmas Pop-Up Book)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Snippet from Hanukkah

TBG wanted to title this post "A Goyish Chanukah" ... and I suppose I should have bowed to his desire since the whole thing was his idea.

My menorah was filled with disabled candles.
I broke them as I was putting them in, and, because I am cheap, I refused to throw them away. 
A solid shamash would have been more sensible, but sensible wasn't part of my equation.
I struggled to put that dark blue candle on its chair in the middle, after lighting all the others.
It bent, it swiveled back and forth, it teetered, it dripped, it refused to melt at the bottom to be safely secured, and, finally, after much effort, if somewhat askew..... it was in. 
Nes gadol haya sham, said I.
A great miracle happened there.
 
It's part of the prayer.
It was true tonight. 
It made my husband laugh.
 
HAPPY HANUKAH.... however you spell it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bela Fleck (Redux)


I've been wearing the t-shirt I bought at this concert all week long.
I've been searching for the CD.... have been making do with the link below.
Happy Listening!
*****
Big Cuter and I sang along with the Tuvan Throat Singers and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at the Rialto Theater last night.  Had there been an aura-camera in front of us, I am certain that there would have been but one halo of wonderful light surrounding the two of us.  We were each with the other's perfect person for that moment.  

I bought the tickets in September, as those of you who keep track of the information in the sidebar can attest.  I found Bela Fleck on Pandora, and liked the sound enough to click over and see what it was.  His banjo picking is clear and precise and quick, and even if  "the banjo isn't a real instrument," as Victor Wooten, the Flektone's tonsured-with-dreadlocks bass player snarkily smirked, he sure does make pretty music on it.  He's been nominated for Grammy's in more categories than any other artist, and I'd give him a statue in each and every one of them.

We were sitting in the balcony, always the right choice at the Rialto.  Floor seats are folding chairs smashed too close together on a totally flat floor.  Unless you're 7' tall, sight lines are non-existent.  But up in the loge, there are cushioned seats with arm-rests, and the rake is such that even if that 7' person is right in front of you there's a good chance you'll still see what's happening down there on the stage.  Big Cuter and I sat in the front row of the second section, with a low ledge for jacket and foot resting right there in front of us.  We were right up near the ceiling, as close to heaven as we were likely to get in Tucson this season.

Big Cuter noticed it first - there was no one actually playing the drum kit.  There was definitely percussion, but there did not appear to be a musician creating it.  I wondered if it were taped, but that just didn't feel right.  The girl to my right pointed out Futureman, the Flecktone standing stage left, and told me that he was making the music... with the small wooden whatchamacallit around his neck.

The whatchamacallit was also called the Vegetarian Electronic Porkchop, but the liner notes from the cd I bought call it a drumitar.   Futureman (aka Roy Wooten) invented/created/developed/played it... sometimes with his left hand while using his right more traditionally with brushes or sticks on the drums themselves.  For the most part, though, he stood upright, assuming the posture of a guitarist as he created drum sounds from a (it looked like wood) gadget hanging around his neck.  It was odd.  It was delicious.  It was unlike anything we'd ever heard or seen or thought of before.

It was just like the rest of the concert.

Three or four songs into the program, four men in odd dress walked out on the stage.  Big Cuter looked at me.  I looked at him.  In one voice we said TUVAN THROAT SINGERS???

It was an NPR moment made real.  We'd heard them on All Things Considered driving home from school one day, and we'd sat in the car in the driveway to hear the conclusion of the piece.  It was otherworldly and strange and impossible and suddenly, without warning, there they were on stage right before our very eyes.  We couldn't stop smiling.  At one another.  At the stage. At the audience.  Were there five other people in the auditorium who knew what was in store for them?  I can't imagine that they were.  Listen

 
if you are interested in the throat singing, start at the beginning.
if you want to hear Jingle Bells, skip ahead to about 3:16 and prepare to smile

It was really something. The entire audience was giggling, then trying to sing along, then giggling some more.  Bela on his 5-string banjo and his one-man-horn-section Jeff Coffin accompanied the Tuvans on their their igil and byzaanchy and doshpuluur and kengirge and shunggyrashHonestly, thoughthey were no weirder than the drumitar.  

The Rialto is a bare bones venue, but the Flecktones brought production values to the evening.  There was a gentle light show, with snowflakes and geometric shapes wandering the walls and ceiling.  The sing-along, in Tuvan, was coordinated with the lights, which illuminated the audience when it was our turn to chime in with Aa-shu Dekei-oo.  The players were introduced by spot-light, and the mood was in turns dramatic and giddy and concentrated as the colors changed from blues to reds to greens.  It was pretty special for Tucson.  For anywhere, really.

No, the throat singers did not come all the way from Siberia just to sing Jingle Bells. They came back after intermission and sang songs about fast horses and beautiful women and then some songs about beautiful horses and fast women.  They seemed to be having as much fun as we were.  Jeff Coffin played two saxophones at once (really, he did) and Bela Fleck sat on a high stool all alone on the stage and talked to us through his banjo and the music was absolutely marvelous.

This was a holiday concert, and hidden among the notes were Silent Night and What Child is This? and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, but mostly we watched the most accomplished jam band I've ever seen.  These are extraordinarily talented musicians, as well as being consummate performers. The music wound around and into and over and through bluegrass and classical and Tuvan and it occurred to me that traditional music sounds the same the world over.  Throat singing originated before there was language yet it blended right in with ancient Christian hymns played on modern instruments.  Is there a deep-seated sense of sound and rhythm that defines us as humans on the planet?  It certainly seemed so last night. 

Jingle All the WayThe holiday tour is over, and the throat singers are returning to their home on the steppes as I type.  The Flecktones are doing their Christmas shopping.  Big Cuter and I are annoying the hell out of TBG, because we've had the Jingle All The Way cd blasting on the stereo all day long. 

Perhaps you had to be there?
What do you think?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Friends

My holiday cards bring all sorts of information; do yours?

Along with kudos for my brownies, I receive (sometimes lengthy... sometimes in teeny tiny font.... hint ... hint...) newsletters printed on festive paper.  No one ever has a bad day in those letters, unless you're Airman Dentist, and then all the reader can do is shake her head at the fact that they've come out at the end of December still intact.  For the most part, though, they are announcements of new jobs, new relationships, new homes, new trips, new babies (guilty).
Poor report cards don't make it into the headlines, or even the fine print.  I'm not judging or complaining.  I'm just stating the facts as they appear in my mailbox.
 
Today's mail brought some astonishing news.  Our friend is the new Ambassador to Canada.
 
I had to stop and let it sink in for a while.  TBG hired him decades ago, I watched them build their dream house and create a dream family and now he's representing our country to our neighbors to the north.  They are the perfect people to take on such a task; I'm just having a hard time getting my head around the fact that Bruce is now Mr. Ambassador.
 
The picture on the front of the card were Mr. & Mrs. doing something to a black hatted something while wearing furry earflap hats and mittens with a maple leaf.  Honestly, denizens, it's a mystery ... but a happy mystery... and one that, perhaps you can help us solve.
Any ideas will be gratefully accepted.
 
That's the most surprising bit of news we received.  There were weddings and fabulous vacations and academic accomplishments galore, of course.  The mail brings no bills (I'm paperless these days) and the advertising circulars have mercifully disappeared.  Instead, my trek to the mailbox brings me smiles and memories and love.
 
I hope you are reveling, too. 
 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidaze

 
"Are you okay, Mom?  You sound tired."

My boy was concerned. There was no energy behind my words.  I may even have been slurring a bit.  It was 8pm and I was leaning on my neck on Douglas, feet on the coffee table, barely able to hang on to the phone.

Yes, I was tired.

The tree was purchased, established safely and straight-ly in the base.  The lights run up and down the trunk and the main branches, but stick pretty close to the center.  It took an hour to install them... an hour on my feet, moving carefully, unwinding mini-lights, wearing long sleeves to protect my skin from the allergens in the Norfolk Pine. 

The ornaments were unpacked, vaguely organized by size, shape and weight on the serving platters I used for the big holiday party we hosted in California.
Cookies, champagne, guests putting ornaments on the tree.... it was designed to make my life easier.  Like most of my party plans, it was saner in the imagination than in the execution. 

We debated hosting a similar event this year, then quickly came to our senses. 

The brownies are (mostly) mailed.  The gifts are (mostly) wrapped. The kitchen table is still a disaster area, but it's a festive mess so it's somewhat less aggravating to TBG, who prizes clean countertops.  Then, again, he married a Pile Creator, a Clutter Mistress, a Project Person .... he is never surprised.

My printer and my computer need counseling; they refuse to speak to one another.  I took the last batch of boxes to the lovely folks at the UPS store and spent much more money than I should have so that I didn't have to wait in line at the post office.  The Automated Postage Center and the counter had lines out the door.... at both locations I checked. The UPS lady helped me carry my packages in from my car, had most of the addresses I was using in her computer from previous shipments, and I was out of the store in less time than it would have taken me to drive to the post office.... let alone wait in line.

Sometimes it helps to have a bit of disposable income to grease the wheels.  

Dinner has been pancakes and eggs and bacon more often than is usual in our rotation. It doesn't involve a trip to the grocery store, with two of us in the kitchen it takes about ten minutes from hunger to the first bite, and we sleep like babies with our full of carbs tummies.  Creating anything with more than three ingredients is more than I can handle right now.

I have a smile on my face and love in my heart and yes, Big Cuter, I am exhausted.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The End of an Era

It was only 161 votes which separated Ron Barber, Democrat and fellow January 8th shootee, from his opponent in November's election, Martha McSally.  That's two hundred doorbells rung or not, 200 family members and friends who remained unconvinced, a block or two of  un-contacted voters.  That's what happens when a Congressional District is gerrymandered into equal thirds - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

My little piece of heaven, Arizona's Legislative District 9, is sending two Democrats to Phoenix for the next session of the House.  Ethan Orr lost by 132 votes to Dr. Randall Friese, another January 8th friend. He'll join Victoria Steele in trying to make Arizona a more human-friendly place, one that cares about education and gun safety; he's already crafting legislation, or so his wife told me last week when we met at Pilates.

I am trading a personal relationship in Washington, D.C. for one in Arizona's State House.  If, as Tip O'Neill pointed out, all politics is local, this should be a good thing.  Instead of knowing one of 435 Representatives, I'll know one of 60.  This should fill me with a small sense of power.  Instead, I can't get past the ache of losing my connection to Washington.

When TBG and I talked about leaving the comfortably liberal confines of Marin County, we encountered skepticism.  We were moving to the Wild West.  Were we sure we were thinking clearly?  I had a ready answer: My Senator would be The Maverick, John McCain, my governor a Democratic woman, and my Congressman was a Jewish girl whose centrist position in the Democratic Party fit both TBG and me quite nicely.  California was in the midst of an economic crisis, and residents were fleeing north to Oregon (which mounted a campaign against immigrants from other states) and east to Arizona.  The Copper State was trending purple, and we would be adding more blue to the mix.

Then, President Obama tapped Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security and her Secretary of State, Jan Brewer, moved up to the governor's mansion.  We traded down, in my opinion. 

Then, John McCain chose Sara Palin as his running mate, insulting the electorate and diminishing his stature in our house..... and many others. I was glad she could see Russia from her front porch; I just wish that Senator McCain had asked her a question or two before deciding she would be appropriate to lead our nation should he die in office.  Given the loss of Gov. Napolitano and the rise of a trained hair dresser in her place, this was not an outre concern.

Then, Gabby's brain intersected with a bullet. Ron Barber took her place in Congress, winning by the same kind of slim margin which removed him from office today.  Gabby spoke across the aisle.  She touched ranchers and sheriffs and teachers and police officers alike.  She was on the rise. 

Her seat will be occupied in January by a woman who flew fighter jets and argued with her military superiors demanding equal treatment as she served in the Middle East but who chose to remove any mention of her beliefs or plans from her campaigning.  She softened her image, appearing in soft blouses instead of her Air Force uniform.  She got her hair cut.  The changes were cosmetic; her positions have not changed since the last time she challenged Congressman Barber. 

And so, here I sit on Douglas, admiring my tree and the sunshine and the music and wondering where Arizona and America are going.  Should Dreamer kids receive drivers' licenses?  Will the Medicaid expansion Governor Brewer approved continue to provide services to our most needy?  Will sensible gun legislation ever have a chance in Washington? 

I voted.  My friends voted.  I made my opinions known, tried to convince others of the validity of my views, made phone bank calls and wrote checks.  In the end, I won one and lost most.  The Arizona  that enticed me  in 2006 is a memory.  It's the end of an era and I am sad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa Came to Prince Elementary School

 GRIN was there, too.
We were making frames for the pictures with Santa. 
 
Everyone
was dressed to the nines.
These two were "almost twins".
These sisters were working too intently to smile, but I couldn't let all that pink go unrecorded.
 
As Santa's elf sent pictures electronically, GRIN volunteers ran the craft table.
 With paper and stickers and markers,
 volunteers helped with the choices.
There were so many,
many choices. 
Once the decision was made, Miss Ellen traced the 4x6 template into the middle of the frame. 
 She put an X through the rectangle which would hold the picture,  
to remind the artist to keep the decorating outside the box.
This led to decidedly mixed results. 
Our listeners were very young
 
and very excited  
 After the first few episodes of confusion, we decided not to care.
 
Some took to it naturally.... delicately.... just look at her pinkie.
 There was serious attention paid to detail 
and great precision brought to the task.
Some worked with great concentration.
Some put great thought into the placement of every precisely chosen item.
There was collaboration

and there was great pride.
 But mostly, there was joy. 

GRIN was thanked effusively for our help.
I said thanks, but I knew in my heart that I was the one who should be thanking them.

These Prince Mustangs fill my heart.

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