Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Reprise of Thanksgivings Then and Now

I've been re-reading Thanksgiving posts, and smiling a lot. Here is some of the joy.   I'll be back to reality on Monday; I'm taking the weekend off.
*****
Memories Then:
..... 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:
Thursday Afternoon: "What time are you getting your mom?"
"Oh, SHIT, I forgot about G'ma!"
*****
I, math challenged, asked G'ma how many ounces were in a cup. TBG wondered why I needed to know.  

"I don't want to measure them out, I want to know how many are in the box." Big Cuter went further. "She wants to do the math.  I know that's weird coming from Mom, but...."

They laugh at my foibles and love me nonetheless.

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.  

For this year and every year:
Thanks for being part of the wonder that is my life.  Each and every one of you makes it that much sweeter.  
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Warm and Wonderful Tuesday

The alarm woke me up, but I didn't mind.  I put on my favorite workout tights, ate my favorite flavor of yogurt for breakfast, accomplished great things at Pilates, and was home in time to receive our rewoven-at-a-remarkable-price poolside lounge chairs at 9:15.

I went out again.  Costco, early, open before their posted hours, offered up a great parking spot.  I went purposefully through the store, list in hand, and checked out in record time. 

Two of my favorite men carried and stacked and put away while I organized my very clean refrigerator.  Each item I placed carried a story. Lox for FlapJilly and cured meats for SIR and Big Cuter.  The cranberries and navel oranges smiled back at me from the fruit bin; they knew that Cuisinart had finally sent the replacement-for-the-recalled blade so that I could make Auntie M's cranberry relish.  There are yams reminding me of Ivette and her casserole, and I found myself missing Hough's creamed spinach in a visceral way.

The day was young, and I was just getting started. My list and I drove to Whole Foods and found stacks of fresh everything.  The butcher loaded the turkey into my cart and hoped that I enjoyed my dinner.  A helper helped me find the gravy and another walked me to the Tabasco and the cashier and I had a lovely conversation about nothing at all.  I off-loaded the groceries into the UV, having secured the first spot outside the door, and zipped home.

The guys carried and I put things away and then I went out again.  I had time to read The Lorax to another class of kindergarteners before lunch with my boys, served by my favorite waitress. I found five books at the library, and took a minute to thank the librarians. I picked up a photo at Walgreens.  I bought another twin mattress, picked it up at the warehouse, and had Big Cuter at home to get it into FlapJilly's bedroom.

All over town, people seemed to be sharing my good karma.  When there were crowds, they were well managed, but mostly, I didn't have to wait at all.  The salespeople were accessible and friendly and helpful. The prices were Black Friday sale prices. 

The chili fixings are organized for tomorrow's dinner which I'll make in the morning before I drive to pick up FlapJilly and her parents.  I found the instructions for the car seat so that SIR can wrangle it into place. No one wants to install it for me; apparently, it's a major liability issue.  We're all lucky that Little Cuter married a very handy fella. 

The AAA anticipates record numbers of travelers this holiday weekend; Tuesday will be the busiest day.  In keeping with the wonderfulness that is this particular week, the kids are arriving on Wednesday. 

All of us under one roof.   The sun comes up and I am here to see it.  By definition, it's a very good day.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Warmest Thanksgiving On and Off the Playground

My stickers and I spent some time on the playground, enjoying the sunshine, tying shoelaces, telling stories, and watching all sorts of monkey business involving climbing and the tether-ball contraption.
Contraption is a good word.

We wrote you a thank you letter, one of the kids lining up to show me something or tell me something or hug me or plead for a sticker for the reluctant friend whose hand she was holding told me.

So did I came from the back of the crowd.

I was bemused.  My school mail slot had held no treasures, yet they were certain I had been thanked.

They were right. 
These were in an envelope hand delivered to me by the School Social Worker.

She found me reading The Lorax, as I do with every kindergarten classroom.
After all, if you don't care, who will? is an important lesson, whether you are 5 or 65.

In their notes, first graders thanked me for reading that book when they were in kinder, a lifetime ago, before acquiring the ability to end a note with Your friend, Angel.  I thought about that and about the other important lessons these new Americans were learning.

Personal correspondence is important.
Feeling thankful and expressing thanks are both important..
Writing and drawing with your own two hands imparts a special meaning.
Remembering the good things is important..
Saying I did it for you! will make you feel proud.

Smiling, I read You make me happ.  If you think about it, that's how happy should be spelled... hap-p.

Right now, waiting for my boy to walk through the door, surrounded by thank you's for stickers and hugs and reading, I'm basking in the warmth of the season.  I'm so grateful to have these little humans in my life; I could turn around and write the same things back to them all.  

And so, I will.

Excuse me while I decide which stationary to use for my thank you for the thank you notes note.




Monday, November 20, 2017

The Warmest Thanksgiving in Decades

It's not just the weather-woman who's predicting it.  I can feel the warmth and the love heading my way, and no one has even arrived.

http://www.jpetersenphotography.com/

FlapJilly took her parents to Chicago on Saturday.

Little Cuter sent photos and messages and videos.

The subtext was there, right behind the joy of spending An Epic Day With Those I Love.

So windy I can't breathe.

It better be warm in Tucson bc it's freaking COLD here.

Don't worry, honey.  Mom's got it under control

The cold snap is over.  We're moving from the high 70's back to the upper 80's by Tuesday..... coming closer and closer to 90 as you come closer and closer to being here.  I spent the day gardening, planting, creating bursts of color to delight your eyes. 

We're heating the pool.  The toys and the floats and the Super Soakers are ready and waiting.  It is all as you would wish. The sun will still be shining when we get home to Tucson; a swim can be the very first thing you do.

I love it when a plan comes together. 

I love it even more when the plan involves my favorite humans coming together, when friends and family overlap, when nice tops over elastic waist pants is the mid-afternoon dinner dress code. I love taking out Nannie's flowery plates and G'ma's flowery plates and those small bowls and tiny spoons and forks and every small salt and pepper shaker I own. 

I love the memories.  I love the here and now. 

I'm going to be very grateful all week long.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Last Post About This, I Promise

Allegiant annoyed me then pleasantly surprised me.

Today, Allegiant entranced me. 

I copied the second, complimentary post to their Director of Customer Relations.  Today, she told me this:
We were happy to hear that your telephone call with Adam was so delightful. Although we are a large airline, we do our best to make every passenger feel as if they are our only one. It will give me great pleasure to recognize Adam for achieving this in your conversation.
 It will give me great pleasure to recognize Adam...... 

She was smiling and I was smiling and I bet that Adam will be smiling, too.  

Isn't it marvelous that our misadventure in the air has led to all this happiness on the ground?  I love that my blog post lets her give and take pleasure as she recognizes excellence.  I love that there is excellence to be celebrated.

And now, before this devolves into total smarminess, I'll stop.  There's a lot to do before FlapJilly and her parents arrive on Wednesday.

Yes, they're flying Allegiant.
It's what we do.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tiny Apples

Did you ever have them?
G'ma found them for the High Holidays.
She left them in a bowl on the table; one of the few times I remember her decorating.

They make me very happy, in a very few bites.
Thank you, Whole Foods.
I've spent the afternoon with my mom on my shoulder.
It's been lovely.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where's Ivanka? - A Snippet

I won every hand at cards today.  There were only three of us and the games were fast and furious.  There was a lot of shuffling and counting and dealing and even more conversation.  We're all on the same page, politically, so you can imagine where we meandered as we perused our hands.

Men behaving badly, politicians behaving badly, voters behaving badly - we had no patience for any of it.  We were laughing and crying and shaking our heads.

Where's Ivanka in all of this?

Someone asked it.  There was silence.  Then we all started talking at once.  Complicit. Absent.  Selfish. 

Not one of us thought she was standing up for women.  Not one of us thought she was tweeting #MeToo.  Not one of us thought she ought to be where she is.

And then I was sad, because this is a moment she could seize and make her own, a space in time unlike any other, where those previously silenced are now shouting from the rooftops.  I hate to see anyone waste an opportunity.

I guess Complicit is where she will have to remain.

Sigh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Don't You Run?

That was Big Cuter's query last night on the phone.  After a lengthy and painful discussion of men treating women badly, centered on his feelings of helplessness and desire to do more.... but what??, we moved on to politicians behaving badly, which led to Martha McSally, my non-representing Representative, and her decision to vacate her seat and run for the Senate.

Why don't you run, Mom? 

I was ready with my response, because I've been thinking about it over the last few months.  The answer has two parts.

Part One - I don't want to mount a campaign.  I remember talking to Lynne Woolsey, our Congresswoman when we lived in Marin.  She kept calling and asking for money.  I kept saying No. Finally, I broke down and told her that we wouldn't be sending her any money, that the big donation I'd given her months before was only done to secure the signed-by-Bill-Bradley-basketball that was on auction at the fundraiser my friend held for her. 

And then I wondered Don't you have anything else to do besides making these calls?  Y'know, like legislating?  There was a significant pause, a significant sigh, and then, in a tone unlike the rest of her call, she muttered Three to four hours a day.... every day

I don't remember how we ended the conversation.  I do know that she stopped calling.  I also remembered that pause and sigh.

So, Big Cuter, in answer to your question, the thought of spending 20 hours a week dialing for dollars holds no appeal for me.  I ran unopposed for the school board, and that's as much electioneering as I am interested in doing.  None.

Part Two - I don't think I'll make that much of a difference. 

Would I enjoy the work?  Perhaps.  I like policy and figuring out solutions to intractable problems.  I'm not much for listening to opponents who are clearly wrong, and that seems to be a big part of any legislator's job.  I'm not that good at keeping my opinions to myself, which may be why he thinks I ought to run for office but which would not make for a very effective term in office.

More than that, though, is that I think I can make more of a difference here in my little corner of the world, where 360 elementary school kids are amused and delighted and thrilled to see me when I show up on campus.  I hold hands and tie shoes and read stories. I'll plant a garden and we'll eat Prince-grown veggies together and they'll take home starters for their own gardens, if they want to shorten the distance between farm and table. 

I'm a comforting hand to hold when recess is just too much.  I'm a solver of problems and a wiper of tears.  I'm a shoulder for teachers to lean upon.  The world is marginally better because I am ensconced in that small school.  I can see the difference I make, each and every day.  I just don't think that being one of 435 would be as significant.

So, thanks for the vote of confidence, and for thinking that your mother should serve the greater good.  For now, I'm happy tidying up right here in Tucson.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Happy Ending

Well, you were right.  I've never been so glad to have send a scathing email.  Allegiant Air has restored my faith in the business world.... at least, their little part of it.

After being poorly treated by flight attendants and encouraged to report the incident by you, my faithful denizens,  I put the matter behind me.  As usual, writing it down had taken the edge off the angst. I assumed my email would wind its way through a bureaucratic maze, resulting an nothing more than a we received your email and thanks for telling us response.

I was so wrong. 

I sent the email off on Thursday evening, less than 24 hours later I was on the phone with Adam G, a member of Allegiant's Management Review Team in Las Vegas.  Apparently, I ignited quite a firestorm with my little post.  "A lot of people have seen this," was one of the first things he told me.

I must credit Chris Elliot, the Travel Troubleshooter columnist whose run-to-the-rescue articles make me smile every Sunday in The Arizona Daily Star.  He lists the contacts for all sorts of companies on his website, and encourages people to document their issues in writing.  I found several big-shots at Allegiant, and cc'ed them all on a cover email (which included the names of those who'd offended us, which I didn't need to publicize to make my point in the posts) linking to the two blog posts I'd written.  Apparently, Mr. Elliot is correct when he says that those at the top will listen; at least it was true at Allegiant.

Adam G was incredible.  Kind, thoughtful, patient, funny, sympathetic, he used the word unacceptable in every third sentence.  This was not the kind of behavior Allegiant condoned, and he wanted to be sure that I knew that.  He wanted me to know that everyone, from Customer Care to In-Flight Services to the Management Review Team was upset about it.  

He told me that the issue had been discussed with the crew.  He told me that I was remarkably restrained in my response.  (That was the second time in two days people complimented me on being calm; there may be something to this for me in the long run.)  

We agreed that everyone is aggravated with the airlines these days, and I noted that I hadn't said anything about the seats that don't recline or the narrowness of those seats.  I knew what I was getting when I bought an Allegiant Air ticket - direct service to my desired location on an airplane that wouldn't fall out of the sky.  He was upset, on behalf of himself and his company, that polite was not part of my experience that day.  He said it often.  He said it with feeling.  There was no doubt that this was more than just a shut her up contact.  He cared.

We serve a wide variety of travelers, and we have to be aware that not everyone is having a good day.  There it is, in a nutshell.  

Plus, he gave me goodies!  I have a travel voucher and lots of points added to my credit card, both of which we'll use to visit FlapJilly.  But, as I said in my thank you emails to the Vice President of In-Flight Services and the Director of Customer Care, the stuff is less important than the message

That message was received loud and clear.  Allegiant was not proud of the behaviors we witnessed, and it did something about it.  That is corporate responsibility, customer service, and the right thing  to do.

I wish there were more I could do, but, as I told Adam G, our family already does most of its flying on Allegiant.  I can only share with you the facts as they unfolded, and leave you with the idea that there are some really good actors in the corporate world.  I was lucky enough to be cosseted by them last Friday.

I'm so happy that Allegiant is back to being my favorite way to fly.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and the NYTimes

I dismissed the kudos he awarded himself when the Executive Editor of the NYTimes said that the biggest story he published was outing Harvey Weinstein's sexual assaults.  I wasn't sure that it merited all that praise; it was, after all, not the Pentagon Papers.  It was not taking down a President, nor stopping a war.

But now, less than a month later, Republicans are calling for their Senatorial candidate in Alabama to drop out of the race after allegations that he fondled and molested a 14 year old when he was 30.  Ridley Scott is reshooting his latest film, taking out Kevin Spacey and replacing him with Christopher Plummer, after a young man accused Spacey of sexual assault.  Those accusers were merely the first to speak out; others have followed in their footsteps.

Kasie Hunt told us that she and other women in the news business never spoke up about sexual harassment because they assumed that no one would care.  An Arizona state representative is on the receiving end of similar complaints lodged by female legislators and lobbyists.

So, perhaps I was wrong.  Perhaps the NYTimes did change our national conversation in a meaningful way. 

I'm not certain that it will prevent men from behaving badly, especially when our President is a party to the issue.  It does seem to have empowered the abused, and that is a significant change.  It's caused me to wonder, for the first time in 50 years, why I didn't tell anyone about the hospital employee who backed me into a corner of an elevator and tried to kiss me.  And, perhaps, it will allow another young woman to yell, to tell, to kick, to feel that she has the right to speak up and speak out and to place the blame where it belongs.

Maybe Mr. Baquet was right after all.  Maybe he saw the ripple effect before I did.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Taking Action

I'm having a new experience.  It's making me smile and giggle and look at myself in a whole new way.

Yesterday's post about flight attendants gone bad evoked the same response from three very different people.  None of them thought that I was over-reacting.  Each one of them thought that I should report the incident upstream.  I was gently chided for taking it as calmly as I had.  They all agreed that I was under-reacting.

Never.  Ever.  Not Once.

That's how often I've been told to amp it up.

Often.  Frequently.  More than anyone wants to remember.

That's how often my behavior has been met with eyes and gestures inviting me to take a breath, to take it down a notch or twelve.

But yesterday my readers rallied around my plight, commiserating with me, placing the blame squarely on the rude worker bees in the sky, imploring me to send the email off to Allegiant Air.

And so, I will.  I'll refer them to the blog post for the gory details, and I'll supply the names in that less public venue.  I do it in the name of passengers to come, and with deep respect for those who encouraged me to make my voice heard.

I'm still smiling.  I can't picture myself as the mature human who held off clicking "send,"  only to be encouraged to go for it with gusto.  Giggling.  A lot.

This story has a happy ending.  Read the follow-up post published Nov. 13, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

PTSD and Me

This story has a happy ending.  Read the follow-up post published Nov. 13, 2017

We boarded early, thanks to our Allegiant credit card perk, and placed our suitcase in the bin right overhead. My very anxious flyer husband had a moment of panic he didn’t need when he reached up to retrieve his book and couldn’t find our bag.  

The flight attendants had moved our suitcase to an overhead bin several rows back, according to the woman seated behind us.  They never told us. He found the case and moved it back over our seats only to have it moved again, without warning, and replaced with someone else’s bags by the same two flight attendants.  We watched them the second time.  

At neither time did they explain the move, or notify us that they were relocating the bag.  They just did it. There was no indication that the original location, the one right over our seat, was inappropriate - no sign, no verbal warning, nothing. 

Normally, that would have occasioned a grimace and a question.  But it was Monday, and the news was filled with yet another murderer with an oversized weapon and an undersized ego, this time killing people at prayer.  All those families living through TBG's nightmare, joining the club of survivors and their loved ones, crying on the screens in the airport, on the front pages of the newspapers, bringing my husband right back to the Emergency Room in January, 2011.

PTSD is a recurring visitor, set off by loud noises or young men in hoodies passing on the street.  Sometimes, the trigger is more obvious, like a mentally ill man with a gun he shouldn't have had shooting up people who were gathered together for a quintessentially American experience.  It inflames every nerve ending, heightens the fight-or-flight response, sends shivers and sweats up and down and all around the body.  It's no fun at all.  It's also very difficult to control.

And so, instead of passing it off with I can't believe they did that, he stewed.  He grumbled.  He clenched and unclenched his fists.  Calming down was not an option.  He was raw, and they were the target.  He said nothing, but he was pissed.  The flight attendants said nothing, either.

When it was time to serve drinks, these same two ignored our row, though they served the people in front, behind, and across the aisle.  They never asked if we would like anything. They just pushed away.   Our seat mate asked me to press the call button. One returned, snarled as she clicked off the dinging, heard the elderly lady’s request for a snack, snapped “We’ll be back,” and left without further service or comment.  

My seat mate was hungry and confused.  My husband was incensed.  I was a puddle of angst.  Were our reactions over the top?  Probably.  But we were in full PTSD mode, and were in no mood to be calm.

Eventually, the flight attendant returned and when my seatmate asked about being ignored, she retorted with “We had to move the cart."  

We love flying Allegiant. We do it all the time. We tell our friends that it’s worth the drive from Tucson to Mesa. We’ve never had anything but delightful, friendly, thoughtful service until now. Allegiant has a warm place in my heart, since it brings me to my grandchild in South Bend.  This experience, on that day, was anything but lovely.

Being ignored is unpleasant. Being dismissed is just rude.  If this had happened on the ground, in a restaurant, we’d have gotten up and left, after talking to the manager.  That was obviously not an option for us in the air.

A bit of courtesy retraining, reminding them that information is the most important currency when traveling, that consideration and thoughtfulness make for happy customers  seemed to be in order.  While safety is obviously their first and most important concern, polite treatment of paying customers is important, too.

And so I began to type.  Most of the verbiage in this post is from the email I wrote, letting my fingers carry off some of the steam pouring out of my ears.  I didn't send it.  Writing it was enough. I didn't want to explain that those of us in The Club that No One Wants to Join are viscerally affected when yet another mass shooting is on the news.  There was no way to convey that, while their service was atrocious, our reaction was over the top and yet completely understandable.

The world is a dangerous place.  Most of the time I can ignore that fact.  Most of the time I can go about the business of daily life, passing off the occasional bump in the road with my ongoing mantra - At least I am here to experience it.   But when the situation is exacerbated by real life events that echo our own trauma, all bets are off.

I still think that they should have told us that they were moving our suitcase.  I don't know that I needed to be peeved about it for a 4 hour flight.

PTSD..... the gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

We took the South Shore Line from South Bend to Chicago. The round trip cost $27.  Eastbound, our conductor called for our attention before imparting detailed instructions on the do’s and don’t’s of train travel. He asked if anyone had any questions, and paused to give us a chance to respond.

We took an Uber from FlapJilly’s house to the South Bend Airport for $25 plus a generous tip because Antonio was super cool.  We spent a lovely 25 minutes talking football and relationships and admiring the entrepreneurial spirit.

Less than $300 got us to and from FlapJilly and her parents, via Allegiant Airways and a trek up and down I-10 at either end.  And now, at the end of all that coming and going, I can barely keep my eyes open.

All those miles, filled with all that love.  I’m going to have very sweet dreams tonight.


Monday, November 6, 2017

SOFA CHICAGO

Seret took me to the Structural Objects Functional Art and Design Fair on Navy Pier .
Visiting art with an artist .... I was in heaven.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.

Tableware was on display in all shapes and colors.
I stared at these curves, marveling at the handles and the spout .
This set was made out of paper.

There were a series of faux grade school reports.
This was my favorite.

Portraiture had a big presence, with faces created in three dimensions.

These little guys were part of a larger set which came from Korea.

There were MFA students presenting a project representing light and space.
It's pool noodles over bent metal.
I'd have bought it were they selling it.

These little glass teapots live encased in glass.
There were several iterations the theme, but these were my favorites.


He's carved from wood.
I know.  He looks real.  I almost spoke to him.

The work with glass stopped us in our tracks.


I imagined this as a pair of sconces.... very expensive sconces.


The insides of these gondolas were all different.



These are look open don't they?  
In fact they are shaded glass and flat.

The photo doesn't do justice to the depth of the paint on the canvas.
It looked like it was lots of fun to create.
I wanted to try it, myself.

This is called Industry.
I think it's a phallic submarine.


The woodcarvers' guild was well represented.
This is so delicate, it looked like it was about to float away.

At the end of a long aisle, there was this:
and this:
I couldn't stop giggling.

These sculptures were shimmery, lifelike, intricate, and filled with history and culture.
I spent quite some time communing with Hanuman, my favorite monkey.

There was a gallery filled with instruments in every color imaginable..
The gallery lighting made photography a challenge, so here are some close-ups.


And then there was this, the first thing we saw when we walked in.
It was a wonderful afternoon.
We wished we had unlimited funds.
We'd have brought all of this home, and more.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Old Friends

We've known the groom since playgroup, in the early 1980’s.   The bride is a new and worthy addition to our crew.  Their nuptials this weekend are a lovely coda to our annual Halloween With FlapJilly Adventure; it was kind of them to schedule it so conveniently.

TBG and I will take the train from South Bend to Millennium Park in Chicago, avoiding driving through the toll road and Stony Island and city traffic. We qualify for the Senior Fare; round trip travel will cost less than a tank of gas.  Public transit makes me smile. 

The affair is in the Loews Downtown Chicago; we’ll travel by elevator from our room to the party. That’s a perfect commute. No need for a hat or gloves or a coat to defend my black tie outfit from the elements.  With a few alterations, TBG’s tuxedo Now looks quite study; we haven’t gotten this dressed up in a long time.

One of the advantages of old age combined with bullet wounds is the right to wear flats. Black patent comfort will complement my fancy strapless dress and glittery jacket. I broke out the onyx jewelry which I reserve for special occasions, although I debated bringing G’ma’s rhinestones. The drippy dangle earrings were heavy on my earlobes when I wore them while packing.  If I couldn’t bear them for an hour I decided not to torture myself for an evening.

Glamour, glitz and comfort.  It’s going to be a perfect weekend.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Distracted

Foreign tourists mowed down by a fanatic.

Presidential tweets excoriating our judicial system.

My Rubber Stamp Representative, who votes with Trump 96% of the time, is deemed too liberal by her fellow Conservatives.

It was 38 degrees when I drove Little Cuter to work this morning and it rained on us with cold, hard drops when we walked to the car after dinner.

I could be annoyed, depressed, aggravated, peeved. I could be righteously outraged.




But there's this little person with the biggest personality who serves as a perfect distraction.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket, but it’s pure background noise.

Grandchildren..... better than Ativan.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween At FlapJilly's House

Our Tucson neighborhood does not measure up to the minimal standards of Halloween-ing.
There are no decorations.
There are no trick or treaters.
There is no candy waiting patiently on doorsteps for random requests.
And so, TBG and I travel to the midwest for our fix.
Little Cuter and SIR have the best house.
I stayed behind to man the candy station, while the kids and the husband and the pooch took off to acquire sweets and share the joy.

There was a slow and steady stream of littles
and bigs.

The need for a coat was overwhelmed by their need to show off the costumes.
I was more than happy to share my fire pit.

Some came in wagons, holding tight to Moms and Dads.

Some were happy to be terrifying all by themselves.
The strangers were wonderful, it's true, but those I knew were even better.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg rolled the streets of Northern Virginia
and Wonder Woman protected the home front with style and panache.
All the love, all the joy, all the smiles warmed me more than the fire pit or the five layers of clothes I was wearing.  


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Apologies

Yesterday was the first time since 2009 that I’ve forgotten to post my thoughts for your consideration. TBG and I are visiting FlapJilly and her parents and other grandparents and her cousins and, I must be honest and admit that I totally forgot to write to you.

Mea culpa.  Mea maxim culpa.

FlapJilly is all consuming, from  hide and seek that got Grandma in the coat closet with my legs stuck above the boots and umbrellas to stuffing her mouth full of delicious and gigantic grapes. She is delightful company, but the company is impossible to ignore. She’s charming and demanding and right  now she is refusing to go to sleep.

She’s overstimulated and overtired and overindulged by her maternal grandparental units, and, perhaps, we’ve aggravated the situation. There is a minuscule amount of guilt on our parts, we must admit. There is something delightfully decadent about making her happy.

Can you blame me for falling into her orbit and out of yours?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Apologies

There are apologies, and then there are apologies.

Mark Halperin, author, talking head, 52 year old Harvard graduate,  says that he understands from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.  

I'm sorry for the women in his life if it took five others to bring to his attention that which they have been watching forever.  I'm bothered by the men in his life who watched and said nothing.  And I'm annoyed that time will pass and he'll be back after his mea culpas have been swallowed up by the next sexy story.  

Bush the Elder, former President, groped two women at a photo shoot.  His spokesman released this statement:
At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.
In her dotage, G'ma, who never told a blue joke in her life, began to leer at the young male aides at the Old Folks Home.  Her younger self would have been appalled.  That younger self was expert at the Oh dear not again, Daddoooooo eye roll, the same one Barbara Bush gave Heather Lind when she heard, once again, that bad joke, that unfunny joke, that reminder that her husband was just a little bit off.

Do I understand him because it's familiar or because I think it's generational?  I wonder if it's the reverse aging that comes toward the end, when your parents regress and become your children, replete with 3rd grade potty humor? 

I'm not sure why.  I believe the one, and I'm skeptical of the other. They were both wrong. Why I am willing to accept the sincerity in one case and not in the other remains a mystery.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Something in the Air - A Snippet

Joseph was kicking a sturdy red bucket.  They were determined kicks, fueled by the furious expression on his face.  He never came close to hitting anyone; his kicks were precise and focused.  He was looking for an escape valve for something that was boiling inside; the girls and I decided that he must have had a bad morning at home.

I'm a little off center myself, now that our President has declared Jeff Flake's take down a personal victory, now that no other Republicans have backed him up or disputed the President's story of his victory lap at lunch.  There's a Bannon backed candidate for his seat; the mainstream alternative seems to be my own personal Congresswoman, Martha McSally, who is a Rubber Stamp Republican, voting with the President 95.9% of the time even though Trump lost our District by 4.9%. 

I twist and turn and get no place.  I wonder if Joseph has a red bucket I could borrow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jeff Flake

I had another post planned for today, but evens go ahead of me and here I am, once again, bemoaning the sorry state of American politics.

Jeff Flake, my junior Senator, is trading in complicity for..... hmmmmm..... a run for the Presidency in 2020?  His remarks on the Senate floor are worth reading in full, but here are some of the pieces I liked the best:
I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our – all of our – complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.
Well, you don't hear that every day.

He called them all out for being complicit; it's every bit as powerful as SNL's Ivanka Trump perfume ad, and every bit as true.


My soon-to-be-former-Senator went on.
But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue – with the tone set at the top.
We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country - the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.
I wonder if he's been listening in to my dinner conversations over the past 10 months?  Petty.  Having nothing to do with .... the people (he's) elected to serve. He sounds like TBG and me, changing from the news because it's spoiling our digestion.

There's more. He's finally come to the point at which those of us who've been paying attention for a long time began:
With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.
Yup, he is what he is and he's not going to change, neither sooner nor later.  This is a man who brags that he has never said I'm Sorry.  Such hubris is, as Sen. Flake goes on to say, quite dangerous:
When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do – because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam – when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.
He is talking about the soul of not just the Republican Party but of the Republicans themselves.  They are so busy keeping their jobs they are forgetting to do their jobs.  
 Leadership knows where the buck stops. Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.
Leadership lives by the American creed: E Pluribus Unum. From many, one.
We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are. 
I still think he's wrong on guns.  I still think he's wrong on reproductive rights.  I still think his votes on Repeal and Replace were misguided.  I think that his book was the first shot and this is the second shot across the bow of I'm Running for President

Right now, though, I really don't care.  Right now he's standing in the well of the Senate decrying the desecration of our American values by the man in the Oval Office, a member of his own party, a demagogue with a Twitter feed.  Right now, that constitutes bravery.

I'm proud of him today.
 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TEDx Sedona, 2017

The license for Sedona's TEDx project is held by a friend of Seret and Mr. DreamyCakes.  They were flying in from Chicago.  Sedona is a lovely drive from Tucson.  I missed my friends.  The decision to attend was an easy one.

It was a good decision.  There were allusions to avenues of thought I'd never considered before.  There was laughter and there was sorrow and there were gasps of surprise, of outrage, of disbelief.  The speakers were seated in the audience, were available at dinner before and lunch during and dinner afterwards.  They were out on the patio, wandering around, eager to engage the audience.  It was communal and stimulating and very, very real.

There were young women out to change the world.

Zoe Wild, a former Buddhist nun, a whirlwind, an unstoppable force for good in the world. entranced us with tales from the coast of Lesbos, where she and her team braved frigid waters and darkness and rocks to guide boats carrying refugees to shore.

Following their progress to the camp which would house them, she saw an opportunity where others saw despair.  Shifting the paradigm from crisis to progress, from charity to solidarity, she and her team took on the roles of city planners.  Why not create a big city, they wondered?  One Light Global built a community center, a school, gardens and gathering places.  Instead of disparate humans seeking shelter from a storm not of their own making, One Light Global looked at the residents as members of the community, as beings with skills they could share.  A tool sharing program soon created areas for small businesses to grow, for crafting sessions to develop into community support groups, for a sense of doing for themselves instead of being on the receiving end of charity.

Be bold and revolutionary with your participation to enact change

Deesha Dyer applied for a White House internship when President Obama was inaugurated.  She had to be a part of his team, even though she didn't have a college degree.  A full-time job followed the internship, along with her promise to finish her degree.

She did that and rose to become the White House Social Secretary.  Stunned by her own transformation, she resolved to share the wealth of knowledge and experience her opportunities has opened for her.  She and friends founded beGirl.World.  After two years of study together, 14 girls from Philadelphia traveled to Paris and London.

They traveled on passports secured with the help of beGirl.World, taking an airplane, not a rocket ship as someone had posited.  The notion of Europe was that distant to those girls.  They had never known anyone who traveled the world; that's for white girls, they said. After their experience abroad, the girls are going on to college, to the Peace Corps, and, they hope, back to places far and wide.

Again, it wasn't charity.  It was inclusion and sharing experiences and a conscious effort to make these girls citizens of the world.

Deesha made an interesting point:  You think nothing is wrong when everyone is the same.  Those girls didn't feel deprived; they knew no one who ventured overseas, who had a passport, who dreamed of climbing the Eiffel Tower (the real one, not the one in Las Vegas).  Without that opportunity, they really didn't know what they were missing.  Deesha showed them that it was out there, and attainable, too.

It was easy to feel good about the world after listening to what these two had to say.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Short and Strident Rant

The executive editor of the New York Times calls outing Bill O'Reilly and Harvey Weinstein the newspaper's biggest stories of his tenure, the ones of which he is most proud.  I can't decide if I'm okay with that. 

Certainly, the stories needed to be told.  Convincing the accusers to speak publicly was a coup others had tried and failed to accomplish, according to Rachel Maddow.  But the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, igniting all sorts of things .... the end of a war, the end of a Presidency. 

I'm not sure that men will stop behaving badly.

In the meantime, if I have to watch their female announcers wearing cocktail dresses cut down to here with hemlines up to there, then I want ESPN's male announcers to stand beside them in black leather pants, shirtless.  I'm looking for equal opportunity exploitation. 


Friday, October 20, 2017

I Made a Grown Man Cry

OFA asked me to shepherd a group to Congresswoman McSally's office this morning.  We were a small but vocal band of three retirees, each with a story to tell.  OFA does provide fact sheets with talking points; our voices amplified them with a personal point of view.

Bill talked about gun safety and DACA and his experiences in the field.  JannyLou talked about insuring a loved one with Type 1 Diabetes before and after the Affordable Care Act.  The Congresswoman's staffer nodded and sighed and took notes.  He was properly sympathetic and bemused by a system that forces long time partners to skip marriage in case health care costs should bankrupt their family.  He heard what they were saying. 

I asked him if he'd visited the Gabe Zimmerman room in Congress, the one dedicated to Gabby's staffer who was killed on January 8, 2011.  After all, Gabe was employed in the same capacity, meeting with constituents, before he was murdered by a Glock wielded  by a man even the United States Army didn't want to equip with a gun. 

By this point, his pen was down and his eyes were locked on mine.  I was on a roll.

Next time you're sitting next to your employer, my Congresswoman, ask her why she is not interested in keeping you safe.  If I were your mother, I'd call on your behalf.  I was sorry to shock him, but getting shot myself was pretty surprising; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, even in front of a Safeway on a sunny, Saturday morning.

He volunteered that he was driving the Congresswoman to an event this weekend.  He looked a little green around the gills as he said it.  I pressed on.

She's MY voice in Congress, and I don't think she is listening to me.  I told him about my op ed and her response on her telephone town hall and about my repeated, unsuccessful attempts to ask for an explanation.  I reiterated that her vote was a personal insult to her community, an insult exacerbated by the fact that her vote wasn't needed to pass the legislation.  She was tone deaf to her constituents, at least the ones who know me, or know of me, or of any of the others in our circle of horror.

We talked about the Venn Diagram of being-one-step-away-from-a-gun-violence-victim/survivor, about how many people are invited into the club no one wants to join each and every day.  We talked about Las Vegas.

And then we were back on insurance and the fact that I would have been uninsured and financially devastated had I been responsible for my medical bills before the ACA abolished lifetime caps and exclusions for pre-existing conditions.  He was aghast.  His face, already blanched from pea soup to vaguely nauseated, was white. 

Yes, uninsured after participating in democracy, with a 9 year old by my side.  Injured while being a good citizen, just as Gabe was killed while working to enhance my experience, at the side of an elected official.  Injured while waiting in line with those who didn't agree with Gabby at all, and were there to tell her so.  I told him that being scared to meet with people is not the way to make us feel heard, that shaking hands and paying attention would be a good start.

I paused, took a breath, and told him that I felt disconnected from ....

"YOUR representative," came out of his mouth, strangled by emotion. 

She may be one of 435, but she's my one.  She's all I've got and she's not hearing me.  Will you tell her, asked JannyLou? 

We all took a breath.  We shook hands, he took our picture (to be uploaded to the OFA site), and promised to pass along our comments.  As we left, his face had regained a rosy hue, though his eyes had the look as he bid me goodbye.  He definitely heard us.  Whether we can make a difference or not on the larger stage, I do not know, but today we made a small dent. 

After all, I bet he didn't go into work today thinking that his was a dangerous job.  I bet he goes home with a different mind set. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Smile

Forget Jeff Sessions rewriting history.
Forget Donald Trump and his $25,000 unfulfilled promise.
Forget the Cubbie's dismal hitting and Gordon Hayward's shattered ankle.

Instead, look at this face.
Aren't you smiling?


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Red Rocks

You have to ease into the vortex, even though it comes upon you rather suddenly.  One minute you're climbing through Coconino National Forest, filling your eyes with thick green conifers.  Then the road bends and this is there:
I was naughty.  I couldn't help myself.  I had no side-seat driver.
I took my own pictures while piloting thousands of pounds of metal.
Like I said, I couldn't help myself.
It helped that everyone else on the road at that moment was also slowing down to oohhhh and ahhhh.

The red is from iron ore.
Sometimes it's orange.
Some of the tops have been sheered off by glaciers
but most of the formations resemble sand castles, dribbled over time.
Parked in one of the many Scenic View pullouts, I found myself counting the layers.
I was looking at a picture of deep time, imagining ancient creatures crushed within the walls.  
Sedona does that to you.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On Vacation - A Snippet

Three moms rented a house for themselves and those they love.  I drove from Sedona to Flagstaff one night to join them.

There were a lot of them and they were paying for the space so I came prepared to sleep on a couch, happy for their company.  I had my pillow and sleeping bag and a camping mat just in case all the couches were taken. 

Oh, no.  That was most certainly not happening. 

A not-very-happy-but-extremely-gracious young man gave up his bedroom.  The moms dismissed my protestations with that look you give your teenager when she is, unbelievably, stating an absurdity.  Each one of them would have slept on the floor before allowing me to do so, no matter how well equipped I happened to be.

And as I stood there, surrounded by their love and their caring, I felt old. 

I walked in with the enthusiasm of a college kid on a weekend adventure, couch surfing and hanging out in pj's with my friends.  They saw a grandma, someone they could and should cosset and treat with the courtesy due her cronehood. 

It was a moment, denizens.  It was a very interesting moment.

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