Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Best Library

We've been on a tour of the local libraries this vacation.
It's the best, free, indoor activity for an Indiana winter.
Today's adventure took us to the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend.
There was one marvel after another, starting with this perfectly appropriate Christmas tree in the lobby.
We rode the elevator to the third floor, the space reserved for children, and found ourselves in a train centered wonderland.  First, we had to enter through the luggage tunnel:
TBG and Flapjilly were the happiest campers, conversing
through the train car's window.
When he turned around, Grandpa was amused by this very useful moose.
There were computers everywhere, on big tables and on little desks 
We distracted the digital native with the magnetic table; you moved the fish and the lizards with wands from below. Somehow, Little Cuter managed to stack them atop one another; it was a bit too graphic an image for a 2 year old, so we moved on.
Story time was a lesson in "You don't have to be able to carry a tune to amuse little children."

The librarian sang and jumped and read and clapped and then it was time to go.  It was hard to extricate the little one; there were so many wonderful books to read. Only the promise of lunch with Daddy allowed us to put on her coat.

We told her not to worry.We know we will be returning on our next visit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Most Generous Grandchild

She shares hugs.

She shares giggles.

She shares stories and baby dolls and lots and lots of books.

And, of course, she shares her germs.

This is how I spent hours between 3 and 5 this morning:

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dinner

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.

Happy Heart

For this ten day trip, I packed three library books and four new downloads on my Kindle.

My girls seem to be following in my footsteps.

My heart is full.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

So Much Fun

There was the library, with a quiet toy corner. There was preparing Uncle Big Cuter's air bed. There were the silly blinking glasses. There was no time to write.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Generational Brownies

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.

Leaving

The plane starts boarding at 5:30am.

Yes, 5:30 in the early early morning.  That's just under 2 hours before the sun rises in Mesa, and Mesa is where the plane will be.  Unfortunately for us, Mesa is almost 2 hours away from our home.

It's almost not worth it to go to sleep.

We investigated using our Marriott points to stay at the Courtyard around the corner from the terminal.  But, alas, the days of stay-and-park-for-free seem to have disappeared along with the leg room in coach class.  By the time we got done with the fees, the free room wasn't so free any more.  

So, we set our alarms for 3am.  We'll be on the road by 3:15 and parked in the long term lot with plenty of time to meander through the outdoor concourse to our gate. I'm trying to avoid considering just how tired I'll be; TBG's shoulder is the right height for my sleeping head, and the three hours to South Bend will be just enough for me to catch the rest of my 40 winks.

Everything is shipped, except the last bit of winter clothing which didn't fit in the under-the-seat bags we're allowed for free.  I'll drop it at the post office after I stop at the bank and the grocery store; we need snacks for the plane.

I'm going to try to avoid thinking about anything too serious for the next two weeks.  I'll be sharing the love, though, never fear.  Now, it's time to do the errands and contemplate sleep.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

I Could... But I Won't

I could go off on a rant about the foxes guarding the hen houses in the proposed Trump Cabinet, leading off with one of the questions his transition team asked the Department of Energy:
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.
photo: JPetersenPhotography.com
Have a wonderful weekend, denizens s.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rust-Oleum, SIR, and a Gift Gone Wrong

We were really happy back in October.  TBG and I bought the supplies and SIR was delighted to have a project. Happy Anniversary!  Happy New House!

  Before he installed the reclaimed and refurbished cabinets and taped and mudded ("It's really an art that takes time to master.") and painted the walls (the exact right shade of white) and installed the lights and panels and whatnots that make this space worthy of FlapJilly's description: 
Daddy's Garage...

Before he could move his most needed tools off the dining room table and onto the work bench and the pegboard......

Before the Beer 'Fridge could get out of the way of everything and come to rest in the perfect spot...

........ the floor had to be refinished.

He sanded.  He swept.  He cleaned.  He re-sanded the rough spots.  He made sure the surface was pristine.   
He did everything the directions told him to do, in just the same order they recommended. 

These pictures are what happened.
Splotches do not belong in Daddy's Garage.
Nor do white streaks or brown blobs.
And did you notice the pitting.
Yes, denizens, those are holes.  
Holes with rough edges do not belong in Daddy's Garage.
It may look like freckles, but it's imperfection after imperfection and it does not belong in Daddy's Garage.

And, if that weren't enough, the measurements he took (again, according to their plan) left him with half the floor uncovered.  He was reluctant to tell me that he paid for the rest himself; after all, it was a gift and he's not ungrateful.  

But, it's hard to hide the garage floor when the in-laws come to visit.  We saw the sparkles (lovely) and the holes (unwanted) and the streaks (distasteful) and the blob (just ugly) and the uneven coverage and the splotchy streaks so in the vein of and second prize is TWO weeks in Philadelphia  he laughed and told me that not only did the product suck and the results disappoint him but there wasn't enough and he had to buy more to finish the job.
   
Home Depot asked me to review the product.
I linked to this post. 

Hello, Home Depot people!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A course in manners was needed, or so her parents thought. 

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

The Same Party, Year After Year

I've been attending the Cornell Club of Southern Arizona's Holiday Party for more than a decade.  No matter where we hold it, it's exactly the same.  

The men are wearing Cornell ties and pins and polo shirts.  The women sport shiny red things - on their feet, on their bodies, dangling from their ears.  We always have name tags, even though, by this point, we should all recognize one another.  After all, we've been doing the same thing for more years than most of the children playing tag around the edges of the adult conversation have been alive.  

Some years there are more of us, some years there are fewer, but I can always count on seeing the fascinating members of the Classes of 1954 and 1963 and 1990.  They each have a story to tell, and this is the place for reminiscences.  "Of course I'd like to know what my alma mater felt like right after WWII" is not merely polite conversation.  I was listening long before they stopped to wonder about me.

There's the woman with the fancy red and black raw silk jacket, pulled from the closet every year for this occasion.  There's the woman who lives too far for us to visit as often as we'd like. There are the other two couples TBG and I try to meet for dinner once or twice a year; having three calendars in the same place at the same time makes planning a cinch.  

There's The Gnat, now a middle schooler but once a little one I kept occupied with crayons while her mother ate her lunch in relative peace.  This year I addressed her family's holiday brownies to her alone; I'm certain she'll share.  

We move around from venue to venue; our homes are scattered to the four winds, so nothing is convenient for everyone.  We've been at country clubs with terrific views and restaurants with terrific chefs.  We've have pianos to accompanying our caroling.  We've eaten salmon and chicken and salads.  We've gone vegan and vegetarian.  We've never skimped on dessert.

There's always a cash bar and I always refrain.  Wine at noon puts paid to the rest of the day for me.  Besides, there are stories to hear and tales to tell, none of which require lubrication.  It's two hours of reveling in the past while wondering about the future.  It's two hours of conversation with well-educated humans.  It's two hours of catching up and discovering the new and then it's time for the finale.  Give My Regards to Davy and the Alma Mater and Evening Song and then it's hugs all around and Good Bye, 'til next year.

For one afternoon, I'm 18 and 19 and 20 all over again.  Year after year, it's the same party.....  and it's wonderful.


Monday, December 12, 2016

I Lied

Actually, Blogger and Lenore the Lenovo conspired in my iniquity. But, when it comes right down to it, I can't blame Russian hacking for the lack of a post early this morning.

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

A Vacation Day

I'd call in sick, except the Burrow prints only the truth.

My truth, right now, is that I need a break.

I'll be back on Monday, refreshed and ready.

Have a wonderful weekend, denizens.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Filling My Soul

I read Horton Hatches The Egg yesterday.  Fifteen English Language Learners sat silently at my feet, legs in criss-cross-applesauce, hands in their laps..... for the most part, any way.  Grandma stops reading when there is tumult on the carpet; it's amazing how quickly silence from a grown up leads to silence from the kids.

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

The Boys Helped Me Decorate

"Put this on the doorknob." 
Met by a blank stare, I commented that it wasn't a very complicated instruction.
"You don't have door knobs," was Mr. 11's accurate if somewhat snarky response.
And so it went, for minimum wage plus a tip, last Wednesday.

They've been helping me for years; they know the drill.
Carrying the ladder and the tall box of large, unbreakable, out-door ornament balls, they required no supervision to get started.  As I sorted and repacked and organized Halloween and Thanksgiving on the garage floor, my young assistants took to their task with all the importance it required.  My neighbors slowed down to wave and smile as my trees grew more festive.  Their work did not exist in a vacuum.  As their satisfied smiles proved, it really was important work.

The inside was less prickly, at least as far as the flora was concerned.
11 and 13 are, by nature, testing the waters to see how far they can go, and Decorating Day was no exception.  "Why should I put Santa on the roof?" wondered Mr. 11, allowing me to make a fool of myself by explaining how Santa came down the chimney and the chimney was on the roof and even though the orange house has no chimney.... and by this point Santa was happy and I was humming Fiddler on the Roof
 and Mr. 11 went outside to put Santa up on a pedestal.
The reindeer usually guard the front door, nestled in between the container garden.
The boys found a much more active role for them to play in whatever narrative they were constructing.

Grazing reindeer..... it's new this year and I kinda like it.
From my front porch I see them feeding, as I look over my peace wreath out to the mountains.
I'm a very happy camper these days.
And, did I mention that I have antlers on my car?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Feeling Blessed

Bo and Luke Hazard, the Staffordshire Terriers who live with Mr's 11 and 13, were playing rough on Saturday night.  When Amster returned from dinner with the girls, her kitchen and dining room looked like a crime scene.  Blood was everywhere.  The dogs showed no puncture wounds, which led the vet to believe that it was teenage rough housing rather than fraternal terrorizing.  How to keep it from happening again remains a mystery.

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

A Snippet - On Willful Ignorance

My favorite Facebook meme -
 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:
abcnews.go.com
Not a photo of the President-Elect acting Presidential.
A photo of an actor acting Presidential-Elect.

I thought that not watching the inauguration was another boycott designed to do nothing, to make me feel good about doing something which would, ultimately have no effect at all, that it was Mr. Trump stealing my American experience from me.  But now, still feeling the buzz from the fact that a vetted, responsible, news source with editors, chose to use a clip from Saturday Night Live to represent the incoming President, I'm thinking that maybe they have a point.

The man tweeted.
He watches.
He cares.
I can't get to him any other way.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What Was THAT?

Sitting quietly on the couch, the tv humming with a TBG-approved sporting event, my eyes and my self  buried in a Tana French novel, there was peace and serenity.

CRASH!! TinkleTinkleTinkleTinkle.....

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:
What if we'd been having dinner? (as I wiped glass from the tabletop)
What if FlapJilly had been strapped into her chair? (as I brushed tiny glass pieces off a seat)
What if....
What if....
What if.....
Having avoided death once in my life, I know that this is probably not the worst thing that could have happened.  But it's pretty close, especially for those who can't escape quickly, for those who are, unwittingly, below the disaster, for those whose PTSD was released by an unexpected and very loud report.

I'm sending this post to Sylvania; I'll keep you posted if I get a response.  We did replace the bulb, and it seems to be settling in very well.  But who knows when another light might decide to create some excitement on its own?  I can't sit under an umbrella in my own house.  I just have to put this in the Shit Happens file and try not to worry whenever I sit below my ceilings.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Something Easy You Can Do

I agree with Rain, a denizen, that individuals boycotting companies to make a political statement is unlikely to make a difference, in policy or the bottom line.  I wrote the post, and I wrote the emails, and I talked it up to my friends (once again, preaching to the choir), but inside, I was sighing.

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
 
Surrounded by healthy eaters?  How about some Pringles socks or a Corn Flakes cup?
Have I just solved half your gift giving problems by directing you to their website?
That was not my intent, but feel free to thank me.
What I wanted to do was give you a feel good moment, to counter a Breitbart-fueled revenge campaign.  The other side makes most of the noise.  It's up to us to talk back.  So......

After you've shopped, or even if you don't, why not go to Kellogg's Contact Us page and thank them for standing up for real mainstream America, the America that is inclusive and respectful and kind.

I did.
I felt better afterwards.

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