My body returns to Tucson today, but my heart remains behind.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016
Big Cuter likes to cook. FlapJilly likes to help. Little Cuter reigns in her kitchen.
Grandma ate and enjoyed every bite.
The food tastes much better when I don't have to do anything but bask in the love of those I love.
It's a very happy Hanukkah, indeed.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
You know you've been a success as parent when your daughter uses your recipe to make brownies for her colleagues and your granddaughter joins her on the counter while munching on the ones you brought from home, saying Grammma, come here!!
Life is good.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goal of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?but, I won't.
I could rant about whether I should validate and verify the information, but it came from NPR and I'm choosing to believe that they are not purveyors of Fake News, but I won't.
I could scream at the rafters that WORDS MATTER, but I won't.
Instead I will relish the fact that on Monday afternoon I will have the world's sweetest grandchild snuggled in my lap...or chasing me around the house.... or bringing me a book or six to read.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Standing in front of the pantry while yelling M&M’s PLEASE!!!! at the top of her lungs was not to be rewarded. And so, they began to work on Excuse me.
She’s a fast learner, my delightful granddaughter. As her parents made sure to use the phrase at every possible moment, she figured it out rather quickly. Pleasing the grown-ups is FlapJilly’s favorite pastime; their smiles and congratulations on her polite asking brought joy to everyone.
But, would the work done in private translate to a social situation? She’s often a little shy when there are others about, especially if some of them are men with great big loud deep voices. Would she be brave enough to interrupt when others were watching?
The question was answered last Sunday. After a grueling weekend spent removing the old roof from the new house, Daddy and Papa and Uncle were sprawled on FlapJilly’s couch, recuperating, paying minimal attention to anything but their aches and pains. The tv was showing a sporting event of some sort; no one was paying much attention. The conversation was desultory.
In strolled the little one. Gently, quietly, respectfully, she placed one tiny hand on her grandfather’s knee. Excuse me, Papa. I want some M&M’s, please.
Adorable, right? Perfect parenting, right? Imagine it with the please pronounced Peesh and the joy is complete.
Yes, my dear. You may have all the M&M’s in the land. Polite behavior is always rewarded.
We’ll be there on Monday. I can hardly wait to be interrupted.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
I wrote it. The systems refused to save it or publish it.
I copied it to a text file and promptly forgot about the whole thing.
I apologize. In my defense, I am about 50 boxes through The Brownie List, and there are so many many many more to go.
Today's post will be live at midnight. Sorry if I disappointed you this morning. I'll try not to let it happen again.
Friday, December 9, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
I've been feeling disconnected from the Prince Kindergartens this year; Miss Levine has moved on up to 4th grade, and I had to work to establish a new routine for myself. Miss Levine was easy; I could open her door anytime, any day, and plunge right into whatever was going on. Different teachers have different expectations, though, and I never want to be a bother. But last month found me chatting in the Teachers' Lounge with most of the kindergarten teachers and we developed a plan.
I want to make a lasting memory, one that all of the kids and I can share. The teachers were looking for a Cool Down period after lunch recess and before the afternoon learning blocks began. Dr. Seuss was the perfect answer. From 11:30-12 every day, the youngest students return to their classroom and try to transition from playing to studying. Transitions are hard, even more so when English is your second or third language and you're not very good at it yet. There are work sheets to be decoded and rules to be followed and if your brain is busy translating your body is often left behind.
Enter Grandma. Horton and I have been making the rounds of the classes, joining them on the playground, accepting hugs and smiles, then following them into their room and onto the carpet. I get a chair, because Grandma's don't get down on the floor that easily. It's not that they haven't asked me to join them; they'll make a special square space just for me, I'm sure. But up on the chair I have gravitas.... and everyone can see the pictures in the book more easily, too.
Reading upside down is an acquired skill. I wonder if there is a class in that in Masters in Education programs. I lose track of the lines. I fumble the words. The kids don't care. As long as the pictures are held firmly before their eyes, they are focused. Grandma messed up the rhyme? Only the teacher smiled. Grandma skipped a page? Everyone hollered.
We learned two new words - faithful and immense. Faithful was hard to define; a good friend who trusts you was as close as we could come. Immense was much more fun - HUGE is a concept every one of the kids can grasp. When you are the smallest on the campus, when everything is adult sized and you are just 5 years old, when the strangeness and newness compound to minimize your existence, HUGE is all around you.
Horton on the tree was immense. The egg was not. The fact that Mayzie the Lazy Bird's egg turned out to contain an elephant with wings was delightfully surprising; that baby was definitely Horton's kid. How that could be was a concept far removed from their enjoyment of the story; little ones are more comfortable with absurdity than their third grade siblings. The older kids were aware enough to squawk when the egg revealed a non-bird creature; That Cannot BE!! But the little ones just giggled and shared in Horton's joy.
Being captured and caged and shipped across the sea must have resonated with the refugee kids at my feet. There was an almost-creepy silence when Horton was getting seasick as he left his home behind. I left it alone; this was story time, not therapy. Perhaps I was imagining the extra joy on their faces as Horton and the baby return to the jungle, together, home, once more.
Perhaps. Perhaps they were just thrilled at the generic happy ending. Perhaps they didn't understand any of it and were merely reacting to my enthusiastic reading aloud voice. Perhaps.
One thing I know for sure. My heart was very happy.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Needless to say, my friend is upset.
Little Cuter has had a cold and a cough and a sinus infection and bronchitis for weeks. Over the counter medications and prescription broad-spectrum antibiotics have minimized her discomfort but not eliminated the disease. She's still coughing and sneezing and congested. She hasn't had a full night's sleep in who knows how long. Moving to a new town meant finding new doctors; it was one of the tasks she thought could wait. Now, faced with a third trip to the Health Center for the same ailment, she's wondering what else she can do.
Her mother is more upset than she is.
SIR and his adult male relatives spent the weekend taking the roof off the new house in preparation for the arrival of the roofers between 8 and 9 this morning. By 10, FlapJilly and her dad left their roofless manse so that she could get to pres-school and he could get to work. The roofers were no where to be found. Frantic phone calls to the realtor who'd recommended them and the company itself were fruitless. The fact that it snowed last night and is supposed to rain tonight and my girl has no roof over her head just added to her stress. Though there was material on the roof when SIR drove by after lunch, there was nary a worker to be seen.
Everyone is flummoxed and only the roofing contractor can alleviate the stress.
I spent my morning counting my blessings. TBG and I have finally vanquished the cold-from-hell. It was cold enough outside to wear my cowboy boots with stars to class today. In class, the student-who-is-also-a-Rabbi gave the first cogent explanation of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac that I've ever heard. My lunch salad was filled with brown leaves of lettuce; the server noticed and took the charge off my bill. I found parking spaces everywhere I went, and I found most of what I wanted at just one store.
And what was it that I wanted? In addition to socks and more socks, I found something for which I've been searching for three decades.
Yes, The Uv has antlers and a bright red nose.
Not only that, the antlers have 7 led lights each.
As I look at the minor disasters besetting those I love and recognize that none of them are life threatening, all of them are manageable, I am inordinately happy.
And, on top of everything, my car has antlers.
No, it doesn't take much to make me smile these days. Not much at all.
Monday, December 5, 2016
In the interest of maintaining my sanity, I'm choosing to be uninformed.I've steered away from the President-Elect because it's December and I can immerse myself in elfing. I try to avoid anything that will burst my Holiday Celebration Tour bubble, from toxic relatives to toxic soon-to-be-elected-officials. But just now, watching ABC's World News Tonight's opening headline reel, I was both informed and smiling.
Obviously, I came to The Burrow to share it with you.
The Army Corps of Engineers will deny the Dakota Pipeline a permit and maybe, just maybe, the Water Protectors can go home for the winter. There's a terrible fire in an artist's warehouse in Oakland; families are desperate for contact as firefighters sift through the wreckage. I forget what the third story was but then, the fourth story, was the President-Elect's Twitter Tirade (their headline, not mine) with this image behind the verbiage:
Friday, December 2, 2016
We were on our feet and frantic. It doesn't take much to set off our PTSD, and loud, unexpected noises are triggers for both of us. Our heads were swiveling around, trying to locate the source in a house whose curves and angles and open floor plan distorts locations and flummoxes even the most efficient seeker of sound.
There was nothing on any of the kitchen counters; we'd cleared them and emptied the dishwasher and nothing was out of place. Nothing could have fallen. The cabinets were shut; nothing fell out of them. Looking inside and on top failed us. Then, we looked down.
The floor was scattered with shards of glass. They were everywhere, but where did they originate? The Thanksgiving decorations were neatly stacked in the niche; none had taken flight. The kitchen table was bare and so was the island. Then we looked up, because we realized, at the same time, that there was a dark spot in the breakfast nook.
A light bulb had exploded.
For no reason that we could discern, our Sylvania Long Nec 75W/130V/WFL item J788 had flipped its lid. The entire glass shielding the bulb was strewn on our floors while the rest of the mechanism remained firmly ensconced in the can in the ceiling.
We dragged in the tallest ladder and TBG took his achy breaky knee up to the offending recessed can
His hand, swathed in a thick leather glove, untwisted the remainder of the flood light and handed it down to the plastic bag I was holding up high.
That lasted a few seconds; it was so hot that the bag began to melt to its surface. After quickly dumping the bulb carefully into the sink, we stood back and stared. The glass was missing and the curved base surrounding the tiny bulb was cracked on the back.
How this happened remains a mystery. We never noticed it until it exploded all over my tiles.
As we swept and wet-Swiffered and vacuumed and wiped with paper towels and then did it all again, we found ourselves repeating an awful refrain:
Thursday, December 1, 2016
And then I read that Kellogg's is pulling its ads from Breitbart News. Their reasoning turned my boycotting frown upside down:
"We regularly work with our media-buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren't aligned with our values as a company," Kellogg's said in a statement. "We recently reviewed the list of sites where our ads can be placed and decided to discontinue advertising on Breitbart.com. We are working to remove our ads from that site."CNN/Money goes on to describe Steve Bannon's hissy fit, which includes calling his views mainstream America and calling for a boycott of his own.
And so, denizens, here's something wonderful for you to do. Buy some Frosted Flakes or Rice Krispies or TBG's favorite, Special K. Indulge in a box of Pop Tarts. Can't eat that stuff? No problem. Personalize a box for someone who can
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I love putting out the pillows and the candle holders and the door hangers. I love watching my house move from TBG's Episcopal sparseness to his mother's Christmas-on-every-surface.
There is nothing I relish more than an afternoon in a comfy chair, with a good book in my lap and liquid refreshment by my side. It's even better if the sun is out and the temperatures are in the 60's -Tucson's version of winter - and if the book is #10 in a 20 book series, and all the remaining ten texts are on my bookshelf, on loan from the library, just waiting to be read.
And that's where I am right now. I have something from every column of my Smile Through December spreadsheet, and I don't know what to do. I punted, earlier in the day, by getting my nails done. Out with October and November's orange; in with December and January and various shades of red.
That was an easy choice. Now, I have to decide whether to bake or to decorate or to read. This is much harder. It's a good thing that it's time to leave for Mr. 11's 6th grade basketball game. I can put off my decision until after dinner, because I am the Designated Super Fan for my young friend. He cannot be disappointed; I'll figure out what to do this evening once I finish cheering.
So much time. So many choices. Such a lovely problem.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
I have something to send Megan, frequent comment-leaver and fierce woman incarnate, and it seemed silly not to send her brownies, too.
Not-Kathy and Dr. K know the holidays begin when my brownies arrive; it's early this year, my friends.
And, perhaps, my treats will arrive at R-Square's before their lands on my doorstep.
It's Brownie Season, and I'm happy.
I will not ruin it by thinking about that which I cannot change (ie. President-elect tweets) having done what I can to make my voice heard (emailed my Senators re: Jeff Sessions for anything).
I will smell the baking and write the cards and start the season off with a full heart.
Monday, November 28, 2016
My holiday season revolves around the baking and distribution of dozens of boxes of brownies. The fact that I didn't bump into December this weekend means that this is an extra week, a week which has no assignments, a week in which can be used to compile and prepare.
It's a luxury I rarely experience.
This year, as always, I lost the Brownie List. Not the hard copy I always print out, the list of names I can check off as cards are written, labels are printed, and boxes are packed. No, the list that Little Cuter created for me a decade or so ago, the one with the addresses, the Official Brownie List.
I searched this PC and documents and Gmail messages and came up empty. There were links to folders which had been deleted. There was no Brownie List. My girl attached it to the plaintive email I sent. I realized that it was a Google Doc..... easily accessible from anywhere... as long as I was signed in.
I may save a Brownie List file with that information to help me next year when I forget and begin looking again.
With the list on the screen and 2015's hard copy on my desk, I began to update my USPS address book. I created a Brownie List and checked to be sure that all the addresses were up to date. I went back to the Google Doc and color coded the entries for Christmas and Chanukah and Both. I sorted the ranges by columns, which made me inordinately happy.
I have a pantry filled with Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate and giant bags of walnut halves. I have new 8" square pans, purchased this summer, on sale, in a moment of forethought and planning. There are a few last minute items - flour and sugar come immediately to mind - but I'm as well organized as I've ever been.
And, I have an extra week. I think I'll go online and apply for Medicare. I have the time.
Friday, November 25, 2016
..... of full bellies lying on the couch, begging for relief, as Hough's creamed spinach wound its way through an overloaded digestive tract.....
..... of my first niece, a veg even as a toddler, eating cucumbers for dinner and feeling just fine.....
..... of walks around the neighborhood, wrapped in scarves and hats culled from the front hall closet, surrounded by all ages and temperaments, mellowed by tryptophan
On dinner in Cleveland Heights at Nannie's house:
We'd sit in the dining room, using it, for once, as more than an inconvenient space between the kitchen and the tv room, sideboards groaning, waiting for Nannie's yearly screech.
Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my mother-in-law jumping up from the table, just as the first fork was lifted and yelping, "Oh, shit... I burned the rolls!"
Memories More Recent:
And my mother, my dear, demented, forgetful mother, knew, without missing a beat, that there were 8 ounces in a cup. And she was surprised that I didn't remember that fact... and that she did.
There were fewer people at the table, but just as much love. We are here. We are fed. We are happy.
Thanks for being part of the wonder that is my life. Each and every one of you makes it that much sweeter. Who needs pie? I have all of you.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Apparently, the only way to contact a member of Congress by email is to be a resident of the district. Enter a non-congruent zip code and you get an error message that makes you feel small for asking the wrong grown-up for help. At least, before asking for my zip code, Rep. Mike Turner had the decency to apologize:
I started to call every member on the Committee. The mailboxes were full, or phones were unanswered, until I got to Rep. Farenthold who gave me space for a rambling message about conflict of interest and our President-to-be.
I re-read the post which inspired me, and thought about the second paragraph.
I decided to wait until Monday and call the local offices of the remaining members. If they're not in DC I bet they are home, checking in with constituents. Maybe there will be someone answering the phones there.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
I took my letter (handwritten, on my embossed stationary) to a Pantsuit Nation Tucson Meet Up
Of course, that's just me. Rep. McSally never endorsed or denounced Mr. Trump. She decided that it was okay to be silent on the subject. She didn't think I needed to know, but I did. She's good for Southern Arizona, but I couldn't cast a vote for her without knowing.
Call it alt-right or white supremacist or nationalist or kakistocracy, there is business taking place in the corridors of government which demands, at the very least, a comment from a moderate Republican woman who speaks for me in Congress.
Monday, November 21, 2016
What was it?
#GrabYourWallet was created last month in response to Trump's bragging about sexual assault. They created a spreadsheet of companies carrying Trump branded products and encouraged consumers to contact the retailers with this message:
I told Bed Bath and Beyond that I would miss them and their coupons and their friendly employees. I told Zappos that I'd look elsewhere for Little Cuter's winter boots. I complimented Nordstroms for delaying Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving but said that carrying Ivanka's jewelry was a deal-breaker for me. I told Neiman-Marcus that their catalog went unopened into the recycling because I could not, in good conscience, shop with them this year.
Zappos! got back to me right away:
HSN, which I glimpse only as I flip through, looking for Property Brothers, is sorry to lose me as a customer:
I assure you that I have made the proper department aware of your concern and suggestion. Our marketing and management team always take our customers concerns very serious, and it will be reviewed.
We will definitely hate to see you go. You have been such a wonderful customer for so long.* I would greatly appreciate if you gave us another opportunity to provide you with quality merchandise that will exceed your expectations.
Jet.com made me sad even as it engaged me. I've written about them . They are bright, kind, energetic young people but their ability to disconnect capitalism from politics was somewhat disheartening:
There were 50 some companies on the boycott list. There were also companies which could be complimented, companies like Home Depot which has Discontinued below every single Trump branded lamp on their website. Their CEO may have supported Trump, but the company isn't doing business with him any more.
I only heard about it this weekend.
Even if DJT hadn't won the Presidency, I'd have abandoned those retailers for allowing a reprehensible human to enrich himself while using their platform.
I stopped buying Calvin Klein products when he popularized the heroin chic look. I told Hanes that gentlemen might prefer them but I found their advertising offensive.
Once again, I can let my money speak for me.
Of course, Big Cuter wanted a new shower curtain ... and Bed Bath and Beyond is on the list.
Sigh. I hate it when my principles crash up against my life.
And that must have been what the list's creators were thinking when they included Amazon.com on the spreadsheet. Working parents have supplies delivered, grandparents have gifts delivered, everyone has something delivered so I was pretty sad about saying goodbye to Amazon until I searched and found Jeff Bezos's desire to send Trump into space. He said that the President-elect's plans will erode democracy around the edges. I was feeling encouraged. I searched the site and found 7,252 results for prayer rugs. I decided to write and express my feelings, but I can't separate myself from the Borg; I'm an Amazon Smile customer for life.
I'm doing what I can. That's all that can be asked.
Friday, November 18, 2016
FlapJilly screamed for an hour after pre-school yesterday. DOUGHNUTS!!! DOUGHNUTS!!! DOUGHNUTS!!!
TBG has had a chest cold for nearly two weeks, a cold I'd been fighting with Zicam spray until I decided that I was healthy and stopped medicating. Now that cold is back, with a vengeance, and my throat is scratchy and my head hurts and my tummy isn't happy at all.
But what's making me sick is Kris Kobach insisting that registering enemy aliens, or potential enemy aliens, or just Muslims in general is based on long-standing legal precedent. Korematsu v United States was the 6-3 Supreme Court decision allowing for the registration and, ultimately, the internment of Americans of Japanese origin during FDR's administration.
Antonin Scalia had this to say on Korematsu, back in 2014:
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Thus spake a 2nd grader, a young man who was working on distinguishing between the long and short vowel sounds. We read the often used words as I tried to find examples of that-which-passes-for-rules in spelling the English language. Two consonants after a vowel make a short sound (except when they don't) was simple enough, and so was an e at the end of the word makes a long sound.
It got tricky when we got to cage and case and mice and nice. That c is quite a problem (as was quite, but we'll get to that later.) If it's cage and case why isn't it mike and nike? The e at the end of the word was the clue, and his face when he realized that the e at the end makes the c an s lit up the classroom.
That's when he decided he'd learned something. He went on to zip through the ce words, and enjoyed the story to which they were attached. He showed great understanding when he substituted his for the.... he was hurrying because he wanted to find out what happened, and calling it his bag instead of the bag just showed comprehension.
Of course, I made him go back and correct the error, but he did so knowing that his mistake was a smart one.
It took 30 minutes. It nourished me for hours. I've committed to returning every Wednesday throughout the school year. I'm going to rely on those little faces to bring me back to all that is right and good with the world.
It's not much, but it's a start, as I try to find my way through to whatever lurks on the other side. It's hard to be terrified when you're totally happy.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
She's comfortable in her own skin, and that's the part that moves me the most. She's not tentative. She's smiling and she's joking - with her husband and with her dog. Her words are more fluent and her expressions more reflective of her inner self.
Aphasia, as Gabby says in this story, sucks. The words are there; she just can't find them. I cannot imagine the hours she's spent on her search. My struggles to acquire a fluid gait pale in comparison to my Congresswoman's struggle to speak.
And yet, she smiles. She leans into Mark and he squeezes her shoulder and they agree that looking backward is useless. There is only tomorrow. I've heard Gabby say it. I've heard her mother say it. In the clip, I heard Mark say it.
We haven't forgotten what happened, but we're not stuck there. We are moving forward, dragging our reluctant and recalcitrant and frustrating bodies along for the ride. We are more than our disabilities. We are strong. We are courageous. We are bold
Gabrielle Giffords Continues to Inspire. It's a bumper sticker and it's a promise to myself.
If she can be all those things, then so can I.