Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Music Trivia

Lady Jane has taken up temporary residence in a brand new place, recuperating from 8 very long and painful days in the hospital.  She doesn't need daily physical therapy, she doesn't need oxygen ,nor does she need help with her medications.  She is too weak to do much walking and talking; cooking and cleaning are out of the question for the immediate future.  A sociable person, she'd wither on the vine if she were home, alone, using all her energy to struggle to the door to welcome visitors.

The Case Manager at the hospital wanted her to go to a Skilled Nursing Facility to receive treatment; this would be covered by Medicare.  But Lady Jane knew that her PT needs would resolve once she was mobile.  She didn't need daily treatment, she needed to get up and get moving.  The Case Manager reminded her, rather sternly, that Medicare would not pay for the kind of place we were describing.  Imperiously and appropriately, Lady Jane said she would pay her own way.

"I can't travel anymore.  This can be my vacation." 

And she's using it just that way.  I found her in settled in her room in a comfy, padded armchair, reading by the open patio door. A gentle breeze, the cooing mourning doves, the color returned to her previously ashen cheeks - we were a happy twosome.  The facility is brand new; she couldn't arrive until they ordered a bed and dresser.  The hot water heater had issues and so have a few of the meals, but the salads we ate the first evening were scrumptious and filling and the staff is willing and courteous and she has no complaints.

She has no complaints.  That says it all for me.  I'm helping her coordinate her care, so I have a semi-professional interest in the outcome, but mostly I like her a lot and I want her to feel safe and comfortable. We were congratulating ourselves on planning this part of her life so brilliantly when Raul knocked and was granted admission.

Raul, a bearded, nattily attired, Hispanic man with a deep Southern accent, is the Community Life Director.... although it took us a moment or two to decipher exactly what he was saying.  Please don't tell me that immigration is only a border issue; wherever he learned his English, it came with a drawl as thick as Lady Jane's Carolina roots.

Once we figured out the where and the what, my friend politely declined his offer to escort her to this afternoon's activities: a community meeting with the Ombudsman from the Pima Council on Aging (the County watchdog agency) and, right afterwards, a Music from the '30's and '40's Trivia Contest.

Raul paused, smiled, and reluctantly shared the fact that nobody else was interested in Trivia, either.  They've only been there a few days, and they, like the building itself, are still settling in, working out the kinks, discovering how their days will go.  For most of the residents, this is their new home.  They will have plenty of time to explore.

Lady Jane, meanwhile, will rest comfortably in her chair, her tablet and her telephone and her book close at hand. (Well, her book was close at hand until she decided not to finish it.  More on that in a future post.)  She's awaiting the arrival of a desk, so that she can be more organized, but, in general, she's doing exactly what she should be doing after a lengthy and debilitating hospitalization - nothing.

Her only job is to heal.  I'll bring her a nightlight and pick up her prescription and bring her something yummy if dinners don't improve soon, and she'll sit on her chair, icing her aching arm, admiring her snazzy, new, fire-engine red walker, as her body readjusts.

It's a rest home.  And yes, it is exactly as comfortable as it sounds.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bump! The Third Installment

Apparently, what you see is not always what you get.  That's the mantra I'm repeating to myself as I try to come to terms with these words from the body shop guy: If you'd been rear-ended again, you'd have been in big trouble.  You really shouldn't be driving your car like this.
It's been a busy week since the damage was done;  I finally found time to visit the body shop this afternoon.  They are lovely, snarky, funny folks, so his serious tone required serious attention.  we went out to The Uv, he lifted the carpeting in the trunk, and I gasped.

The floor pan is bend.  Smushed.  Crumpled.  Crushed.  There's really nothing left of the car's structural integrity.  A tiny bump would have done me in.

A quick call to the other driver's insurance company secured me a bright red Hyundai Elantra from Enterprise, which did, indeed, pick me up and got me on my way with a minimum of fuss and bother.  I drove back to the body shop, unloaded my stuff, got groceries for dinner and came home, mildly peeved because I left the garage door opener in The Uv.  

There's nothing awful about any of it.  I see that as my fingers type the words.  But I was grumpy and grumbly and was unfit company for anyone.  I soaked in the pool and I swam a lap or two, and I walked a few, and I bent and pressed and pulsed and floated and gradually the yucks soaked away.  

Most of them, anyway.  The space where I placed the memory of the bump! the sound the adrenaline the loss of control, gone in a second but always ready for a comeback performance..... PTSD, the gift that keeps on giving.  It's only a fender, albeit a $6000 fender. I avoided the dire consequences.  It's a beautiful, hot, breezy, sunny Tucson afternoon and the trees are showing off their newly pruned selves in yellow abundance.  

I don't need to be sad; it accomplishes nothing.  I notice these emotions as intruders into my world more readily than I have before, and that's major progress.  I have all sorts of strategies to move beyond the threat and into safety, and they work very well, thank you for asking. I just wish I didn't have to use them at all.  

Really, I just wish that none of it had ever happened.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day

First published on April 21, 2009, a kinder, gentler time, for sure.

I like Earth Day. I was there at its creation, after all.

It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Initially, it was a touchy-feely alternative to the harsher realities of the anti-Vietnam War protests.

You wanted to do something, but war was such an uncomfortable subject and arguing against it made your parents wonder why they were spending tuition dollars while you were telling the lawfully elected President of the United States of America that you knew more than he did. With your picture in the crowd on the front page of the NY Times. At 18 years of age, no less.

But planting trees? Recycling newspaper? Not littering? And all this in service to Mother Earth. Who could be aggravated about supporting Mother Earth?

Earth Day had teach-in's. They were more fun than sit-in's, which invariably involved police and disciplinary action. They were less fun than be-in's, which owed more to Timothy Leary and The Grateful Dead than to anything political or practical. Teach-in's were earnest and had hand-outs and statistics and pictures of desolate landscapes ravaged by the cruelty of man. There was science and legislation and outrage and lots of tree give-aways.

Earth Day had no mandatory family gatherings. It required no gift giving, no card sending. You went outside and did something - cleaned a playground, weeded a median strip, planted one of those free trees. You felt good because you were doing good.

Now there is Earth Week and "We're greener than you are"is the new corporate mantra. Were this still 1970, there would be protests about the idea being "co-opted by the man". Instead, Sheryl Crow is designing re-useable grocery bags for Whole Foods and WallyWorld is selling them next to the discounted paper towels.

And Mother Earth is grateful.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Surgeons - A Snippet

"You have to really trust a man who takes power tools to your head,"  is the quote on the front page of today's Arizona Daily Star.

TBG and I smiled as he suggested that I tell you about Daddooooo and the brain surgeon.

We hoped that whatever was removed would also remove the most noxious pieces of my Dad's personality.  I thought of posing that to the surgeon on the morning of the operation, but I was stopped in my tracks by the piece of tissue paper stuck to the doctor's cheek.

He'd cut himself shaving.

Re-read that quote.

Brother and I could do nothing but try not to laugh.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Death of the Shopping Mall, One Store at a Time

Macy's is leaving the Tucson Mall.  They're not relocating.  They're just leaving.

The Container Store opened a brand new outward facing store a few years back, and Toby Keith dedicated a barbeque and music destination around the same time.  Now Keith's is gone, and so are two other restaurants which followed.

Sears is still there, though, and it was near there that I entered this afternoon, bent on replenshing TBG's dwindling (okay, empty) stack of chocolates with a pound of See's.

At least, that was the plan.  I was surprised that the store's website told me that it was closed when I Googled it on Easter Sunday; I assumed it was for the holiday.  But, no, that was optimistic.  In fact, after I parked the Uv and dragged my still-aching body across the parking lot and past the Hallmark and the Red Robin, I found that the store was, indeed closed - closed for good.

There's white butcher paper covering the windows, there's an open rear entrance providing a glimpse into a storage area filled with empty shelves and pedestal trays, and there's a sign on the door:
Store Closed.  Sorry for the Inconvenience.
I accepted their apology.  It wasn't much comfort for TBG's chocolate lust, though.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Not-Kathy and her cousin were my partners in crime this afternoon, and they bore the full brunt of walking as rehab.  We met outside the Pilates studio after my one-on-one hour; I was warmed up and ready to go.  The sun was low in the sky and a slight breeze was blowing as we strode across the parking lot and onto The Loop, Tucson's 131 mile multi-use path linking our city to its surrounding communities and major waterways.
Yes, we do have waterways.  They are dry, horse and hiker friendly washes for most of the year.  During monsoon, though, it's a different story.  All the debris dumped upstream comes roaring on snow-melt-cum-rain fueled waves; people stand on the overpasses to watch as rusted out vehicles follow sofas downstream.
Downhill, following the Rillito River (yes, we recognize the redundancy) as it passes beneath Campbell, then uphill, which is much easier.  We chatted and gave advice and kept up a decent pace. I concentrated on using my newly discovered thigh musculature to propel me forward.  I thought about keeping my shoulders in a toaster slot (a Pilates image) and holding myself up from my abs.  I made sure to use my entire foot - heel, ball, toe - as I tried to put equal pressure on each side.

It sounds more exhausting than it is.  It makes me smile.  I'm proud of it all, because 6 years ago I couldn't do any of it.  Two years ago, getting to the path would have been a milestone. Today, we three walked about a mile and a half, and I lived to tell the tale.

This is the part that gets me.  This is when I start to whine, most often to myself, although if there's a good friend nearby, she's often a witness to my angst.  We stopped to hug and make plans for tomorrow and then I pretended to move.  The mind was willing but the flesh was weak. I lumbered, I galumphed, I limped, I whimpered and, somehow, I got myself into the driver's seat.  I would have been furious if I'd had the energy.

I hurt.  Everywhere.

Everywhere but my heart and soul.  I took a walk this afternoon with the girls.  That makes me smile.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bump! A Follow Up Report

The Uv's insurance claim was registered, but no action had been taken.  

When the phone rang at 5:30 the next morning I flashed to G'ma (Nope, she's dead. Yes, it's raw; it was 5:30 in the morning, people!) Who else?  My adrenaline, already stoked from the fender bender, was aluminum in the back of my throat before I said Hello.

"Ma'am, this is Maria from Erie Insurance calling about your claim number......"

"Do you know that it is 5:30 in the morning here?"

"Oh. No. I am So Sorry. I'll call back."

"Will you?" I wondered, and I hung up the phone.

We connected later, the company is taking full responsibility, I can go to my preferred repair shop, they'll get me an Enterprise loaner car, the appraiser will meet me and write the check on the spot, and yes, I was sure that I was feeling fine.

PTSD, the gift that keeps on giving.  I was fine as far as the claim is concerned.  The rest of me, the part that goes a little nutty and has a hard time finding its way back to center, that part is still a work in progress.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter Weekend

I wrote this in 2015 and I am resurrecting it here.
It's everything I love about The Burrow - family, deep thoughts, and a smile
Happy Day Off From Work to those observing Good Friday (by choice or executive fiat).

Happy Easter to those who believe,
to those who like getting dressed in frilly finery,
to those with great hats,
and to those thinking deep thoughts.
At an early age, Big Cuter wanted to know why that guy has a towel and nails through his hands when we were confronted with Marc Chagall's White Crucifixion at the Art Institute of Chicago. His query highlighted the central problem I had with teaching the Cuters about Easter.  I was stuck between bunnies and lambs and a crucifixion. 
Nannie was eager to help, but she, too, was flummoxed.The bookstores didn't offer much.  Their descriptions of the Last Supper and The Passion and The Resurrection were either glossed over or overly grotesque for a sensitive, half-Christian, half-Jewish, little boy.  
We decided to stick with the bunnies and rebirth.  It was spring, after all.
Passover presented some of the same issues.  Why did God want to kill little boys, my own son wondered. Walk softly and carry a big stick came to mind as an answer, but it wouldn't do much to assuage his worry.  He was, after all, a first born son.  We wondered about a merciful God, about a righteous God, about a jealous God before the soup was served.  
I didn't worry about those issues when I was a child.  I thought it was weird that someone could die and be reborn, but if my Catholic girlfriend thought it was true, then who was I to argue?  Weird worked through elementary school.  
By the time I was in high school, I was doubting the whole religion thing in general, and was able to ascribe my problems with the stories to a problem with mythology in general.  I didn't give the Bible more credence than Edith Hamilton's Mythology.
Now there's FlapJilly and I'm faced with the same dilemma.  I asked her other grandmother, a Christian of many perspectives, if she had any ideas, but, sadly, MOTG was as lost last year as were Nannie and I, decades ago.

Once again, there were those bunnies.
Is that what faith is all about?  Believing that which is awkward because God is somehow involved?  If I had faith, perhaps I would know the answer.  But, I don't.  
So I am left with eating unleavened bread as I contemplate the Resurrection.  I wonder if the disciple to Jesus's right in The Last Supper really was Mary Magdalene.  I posit interesting tides and the parting of the Red Sea.  I dip my pinky in a wine glass and recount the ten plagues visited upon Egypt, and then I wash them off the plate and eat dinner.
It's not exactly what Sunday School or Hebrew School hoped for, but it's all I've got at the moment.
I'll celebrate by planting more pink and white  blossoms in my containers.  I'll watch the leaves appear from the bulbs planted years ago, and I'll concentrate on rebirth and miracles.  
And I'll try not to be angry at the bunnies eating the petunias.  It's their holiday, after all.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


I was up and showered and dressed and on the road to my annual check-up.

The light turned green, the cars ahead began moving slowly... then slowing... then beginning to pause as they merged just past the strip mall... and the young man behind me, in Tucson for all of two days, starting a new job, anxious to get there and unaware of the merge (to be charitable) or not paying attention (to make a bad situation worse than it already was) .... crashed into the back of The Uv... which pushed me into the Toyota in front of me.

It was a loud, unexpected noise.  Twice.  Once when he hit me and once when I hit her.  I watched it happening in my rear view mirror and out the windshield.  Did I mention the loud, unexpected noise?  I don't do well with loud, unexpected noises.  I sat still and remembered to breathe.

The young man was beside my window, hoping with all his heart that I was okay.  What should I do? he wondered.  You should call 911.

The lady from the Toyota was at the passenger window, smiling, telling me she'd watched me trying to stop (what do you suppose she could see me doing?) and suggesting that we move our cars out of the intersection, the ultimate crossroads of those going south, east or west.

The Honda which started it all was broken which was no surprise given the fact that he accelerated into a bumper positioned to take out whatever he shoved into it.  It sat there, blocking traffic, until two landscapers parked their truck and ran back, gathering the young driver in their wake, and pushed his car behind mine.

I called Little Cuter to tell her that I was okay; we'd been hands-free chatting until we weren't any more.  She's not thrilled with unexpected catastrophes involving her mother any more than I adore sudden booms; we were both glad to hear that we were fine.

I cancelled my doctor's appointment and begged them not to charge me as a no-show.  I tried to reschedule it but had to hang up - the Sheriff arrived.  And that's when things took a turn for the better.  There was my Deputy getting out of the car.  He looked. He smiled. As I put my arms around his neck and hugged him he said I know you!

He was the one who told me to lie down so that they could take care of me when, blood pouring out of my thigh, I announced to anyone who was interested that I've been shot and I need some help.  When we left the hospital, I called the Sheriff's Department and asked for protection from the media. The voice on the other end of the phone said, You don't remember me, ma'am, but I was there at the scene...  and of course I did, I told him, as I repeated what he told me on the sidewalk eleven days before.  I don't remember a lot of what happened that day, but certain voices have stayed with me, I told him.

He led the detail that guarded my driveway, and afterward he sat in my living room with me, settling me in after seeing me cut down.  We had a moment... or two... or three.

Months later, I saw him at Sheriff Dupnik's celebration of the heroes of that day.  I got to tell his very young son that his daddy was a hero who saved my life, that he was a lucky boy to have such a great dad.  Today, that proud dad told me that he has another child, a 4 year old girl, and we marveled at the changes that have taken place in wow, it really has been 6 years, hasn't it?

The new-to-Tucson-perpetrator stood there in bemused silence.  The Toyota lady was still smiling.  She nodded in agreement when I told him This is such a Tucson thing.  

And so the claim is in process and it's only stuff not people that needs fixing.  I'm still breathing and trying to remind myself about the important things.  After all, the sun came up and I was here to see it.  By definition, it's a good day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Happy Passover

Families gathered around a table.

The fancy china unwrapped and the silver polished.

On the table, someone's hand embroidered ("NO! Don't use that to blot up the wine!) tablecloth and napkins.

Well-worn Haggadah in hand, the patriarch stands and recites and sings and calls on others to participate.

Hard boiled eggs and salad greens staunch the appetites, then apples-and-nuts-and-Manischewitz-Concord Grape wine ("More, please!) tickle the palate.

Matzoh ball soup and gefilte fish and then all the main courses anyone could imagine and then more singing and more praying and gradually the kids disappear until Daddy is looking for the Afikomen.

What could go wrong?  My all time favorite family photograph says it best:

I hope that your seders (should you be lucky enough to participate in one or two) are filled with joy and laughter and the kind of love that sends a favorite grandchild over the edge.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Ode to Ativan

I stayed home yesterday, reading, watching the laundry pile grow as TBG carried the heavy loads from the hamper to the machinery, cooking a delicious dinner, talking to no one but my husband.  He mentioned the anomaly several times - I'm usually out and about on Sundays, to the theater or the movies or dining with friends while he drowns in sports heaven (this time, The Masters).  But, there were worker bees painting the house and resealing the roof and I wanted to be sure the job was done right.

They left without saying goodbye.  So much for my best laid plan.

The sun is in and out, and the palo verdes are joining the mesquites, both sending tendrils of itchiness out into the air. Someone referred to it as a Super Bloom, and I believe it.  My itchy eyes have rejected my contacts all week; I've been squinting or gazing over the tops of reading glasses since my eyeballs decided to become faucets.  I'm not even going to try to describe the pouches that have developed between my orbital socket and the itchy eyeball itself.

I'm a wreck.

I see distance with one eye and read with the other; my contacts keep me focused. Without their help, my eyes revert to seeing the same thing at the same time, and my head and my stomach vie for the opportunity to remind me that they are unhappy with the new world order.  My brain takes some time to reorganize itself, and that process is aggravating, a little sickening, and, worst of all, is a reminder that my body needs add-ons in order to function properly.

I'm feeling somewhat old and decrepit

New sensations have appeared in the neighborhood of my right inner thigh, going up into my groin and across my abdominal wall.  That's not a part of your body which can be rubbed in public, but it's in public that it announces its presence most forcefully - when I'm standing up or exercising or sitting in a restaurant after Pilates.  I've developed some interesting coping strategies, but it's an annoyance.

I woke up this morning after the world's strangest dreams - I ran to the couch to be sure TBG was still in one piece.  I couldn't remember the details, but the overarching meme was fear and angst. I cried, he hugged me, and then I cried some more.  Facebook reminded me that Trump is a big investor in Raytheon, the company which built the missiles he sent to a deserted airport, after warning the Russians that they were coming, the airport from which further airstrikes were deployed the day after 59 Tomahawks destroyed it.... those air strikes hitting the same civilians who'd been poison gassed and happened to be on Fox News when Mr. President was watching.

I saw Justice Gorsuch in his lavender tie smiling and accepting admittance into the club which should have included a Justice Garland, instead.  Trump's preening sent me fleeing from the room.

It's all minor stuff.

The bill I thought was due on the 11th but turns out to be due on the 10th. The baby pictures I meant to send Seret on her daughter's birthday never did get scanned; they are a few days late when they should have been a few days early.  The book I am reading assumes knowledge that must have been included in an earlier story in the series; I thought I was reading them in order, but there is a new character confusing the issue and everybody seems to know who he is.... but me.  Someone knocked over our garbage can and after I cleaned up the mess (I touched those vegetables twice before, thank goodness we bag the messiest stuff, Oh No is the medical marijuana package lying on the street, announcing its presence to those dog walkers who choose to examine the detritus of the past weekend, now strewn over the pavement) I moved next door and did the clean up on JannyLou and Fast Eddie's overturned can as well.

Even doing a good deed didn't help.  I was a wreck.  There was no relaxing, no calming down, no way out of the abyss.  I'm dressed and ready to go to the gym, but this time my Bee Pollen Extract (for energy... it it's Dumbo's Magic Feather don't tell me.... it works!) is being supplemented with a small whiff of Ativan, the 21st century's Valium.

I took it before I sat down to type the story, because writing helps, too.  And now, as I think about the conclusion of this post, I notice that my stomach is less turbulent, that my shoulders are no longer bonking into my earlobes, that I'm breathing more deeply and my thoughts are (somewhat) less disordered.  It's a tiny 0.5mg pill that really packs a wallop.

I'm not smiling, but I'm not immobilized.  I'm off to the gym in my turquoise top.  I'll lift and I'll sweat and I'll get myself in gear to face the day.  If it took some medicinal assistance to get me going, I'm okay with that.  The world is awaiting and it's time to shine.

Mick Jagger is becoming the soundtrack to my life, it seems:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Playing Catch Up

I've been remiss, and I apologize.  The sidebar has not been updated since August.  I plan to remedy the situation over the next few weeks, once I get the history out of the way.

The problem began when the Pima County Library System improved their on-line catalog.  I was no longer able to log on using Google as my browser; I'm typing this on whatever operating system was installed when I brought Lenore home from Best Buy all those years ago.  For some reason, the system recognizes me through this portal. 

But, it got worse.  Once I managed to get on-line, I could no longer find my Reading History.  That was the list I used to update the sidebar; rather than keep a hand-written notepad with authors and titles, I could click on the website and cut and paste the information.  It was handy-dandy, it was efficient, and, suddenly, without warning, it was gone. 

I attributed it to a glitch in Lenore's guts, and didn't think much more about it until I mentioned it, in passing, to a librarian.  She told me the work-around.  She told me I was not alone.  She agreed that it was awkward and that the library should have an asterisk leading to the alternative and then we laughed because it was really a link not an asterisk that I needed and would anyone under the age of 25 know that an asterisk was anything but a star?

Once I fell so far behind with the books, the movies and tv and theater listings vanished, too.  I have no excuse for that.  I do have a plan..... and that's something, I suppose.  I've spent the last few weeks cogitating and I've decided to use several blog posts playing catch-up.  Brief descriptions to bring you up to date on what I've read and what I've seen over the past seven months.

Sigh..... the older I get, the faster time flies.

Here's a start.  I'll cut and paste them into the sidebar as they are written; don't be surprised if you feel as if you keep reading this post over and over...... you are, if your eyes drift to the right.

Suspect - Robert Crais is perfect.  His stories wind themselves around your brain and refuse to let go.
Corrupted - Lisa Scottoline tells a good story, though I keep wanting to smack her characters and tell them to get hold of themselves.
Mercy - Daniel  and Michael Palmer, father and son and TFOB stars, took me through assisted suicide and murder and mystery and I thought about it for a good long while afterwards.
Commonwealth - This is real literature, a book to treasure and reread with characters who reveal themselves over generations. 
Hollow City - Ransom Riggs peculiar children race through WWII London and The Blitz and other peculiar beings chase after them.  The photographs alone are remarkable enough.

And that is the first edition of the Catch Up Editions of the sidebars.  Thanks for letting me use them twice.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Going to Hell in a Bucket

I visited Hell, with Odysseus on his journey home to Ithake.  Everyone there was quite cordial, singing the praises of their former enemies.

I watched Hell on television, as aid workers hosed off tiny little FlapJilly-sized Syrian humans, who did nothing ore heinous than wake up in the morning.

I heard about Hell on the radio today, as the use of military force was seriously considered.  Did none of the Trumpians ever see Princess Bride? William Shawn's advice was true then and it's true now - Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Traffic in Tucson seemed to fit right in; the two or three accidents/incidents mentioned during usual rush hours blossomed into more than a dozen before I turned the noise off in frustration.

On the plus side, I felt a new connection between my leg and my belly and it showed in my performance at this afternoon's Pilates class.  It hurt like Hell when the nerves reconnected, but somehow this part of the journey through the Underworld had a bright side.

Nope, I'm still not enjoying the ride, but it gives me an excuse to share one of my favorite Grateful Dead tunes as a Have a Nice Weekend gift:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Random Act of Kindness

I've been aggravated, annoyed, frightened, stunned, overwhelmed, indignant and pissed off.  I've been horrified and terrified and sad.  It's been an interesting week in the real world, and though I've tried to soothe my soul with gardening and novels and classes and friends, the facts keep hitting me over the head. Steve Bannon and his one-rung-demotion has the talking heads ecstatic; my head is just shaking.

But the sun came up today and I was here to see it - by definition, it's a good day.  I collected Mr. 13 from his martial arts lesson and shared a companionable ride to his house, listening to his tunes, trying to decode the lyrics, and smiling.  He refused my offer of breakfast, and with an hour before my volunteer gig in The Reading Corner at Copper Creek Elementary School, I took my empty belly to the northern outpost of my favorite restaurant.

There was a line of people going through the front door, there were patrons waiting on comfy couches outside and inside, but the Community Table had chairs for 8 and only two were occupied.  I took a stool at the far end, smiled at the waiter who'd migrated to this location from the other, and ordered without a menu.

The food came; other patrons came, one talking on his phone then typing on his laptop, one playing solitaire on her phone before looking for a water glass, a couple of women starting out on their day. We improvised with coffee cups in the absence of water glasses and we gently abused the waiter about his oversight.  I'm not teasing you, I told him, The Community is teasing you! as I asked for the check.

There is no check, he said.  Someone paid your bill.  Have a great day.

What?  Wait?  Who?  Why?  I want to say Thank You.

No, it was anonymous.  Have a nice day.  Go. 

So I went, feeling delighted and befriended.  It was such a pleasant, unexpected surprise to be on the receiving end of what I'd done the night before I was shot. unsure if my notoriety or merely my existence in that place at that time got the credit for my good fortune ... was it random or personal ... had someone been watching me the whole time ... and then I stopped analyzing.

I stood in the shade (yes, we are looking for shade already) and I smiled.

It was so kind.  It was so unexpected.  It was a small thing with a big ripple.  It was such a Tucson thing.  I love my town.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Springtime in the Desert

The roses are budding 
and blooming.
The container gardens are relishing the cooler temperatures and the bright spring sunshine.
Out in the real world, there are many natural wonders.  
These are the spikiest thorniest scariest little things, with the most beautiful flowers.
The paddle cacti are bursting with color.
Up close, the pollen is very sexy.
Every time I sneeze or put anti-allergy drops in my eyes, I remember the soft stamen and pistils and smile.  

And then, in case I forget that I'm in the desert, there's this:
With all that tasty foliage, one wonders what beastie decided to take that bite.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Not Much Joy in Mudville

We sent our children to Final Four schools.  We were sure of it.

But, instead of Bobby Knight and John Thompson Jr, we had Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson and Craig Esherick and JT III.  Not exactly the upper echelons of the college coaching fraternity, by anyone's estimation, be they Republican or Democrat, Big 10 or Big East or ACC booster.  Instead of family vacations in Indianapolis or New Orleans or Atlanta, we were sitting on our individual couches in our individual living rooms, texting rather than hugging.

The Cuters graduated, the teams got no better, the Parental Units moved to Tucson, and UofA's 5 time Final Four coach Lute Olsen had a stroke and retired.  We were cursed.

The Bride graduated from Kansas, which managed to survive the departure of Roy Williams, thus providing us with a rooting interest.  IntrepidCat graduated from UNC, and they are always good for a cheer or two.  Her sister, Niece-the-Youngest, is a South Carolina grad, which, this year, made for a lot of excitement on both the men's and the women's sides.

But our schools - Indiana and Georgetown - were no where to be found this season.  They've fired the coaches and promised the alumni that happy days are soon to be here again.  But it's The Championship Game on television tonight, and we don't really care, one way or the other.

The story ends this way - I won the (20+ years running) Family March Madness Pool at the end of the Sweet Sixteen.  No one else could get any points at that time..... or, in  non-sports parlance, none of us had any teams left in any of the slots in our brackets.

There is no joy in Mudville; our Mighty Casey's didn't even make the cut.

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's a Tucson Thing - A Snippet

That's what TBG said as we looked at the rosebush outside our bedroom window.

It's quite odd, we thought, that those flowers exist on the same plant.

In fact, those flowers go through all those colors before wilting and leaving the rose hips behind.  It's colorful and unusual and beautiful and prickly all at the same time.

It's interesting and surprising and not something we've ever seen before.

Or, as my husband went on:
They are a melting pot, a polyglot, a bunch of differences inhabiting the same space... and they are getting along just fine.

 It's a Tucson thing. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

A New Landscaper

It reminded me of going to a new hair stylist.  I know it will grow back, but I am damn nervous, even before they start.

I've struck out three times this year, trying to hire someone to tend to the major tasks while I tackle the minor pruning and planting.  When the Arizona Daily Star ran this quote
“My guys work hard for their money,” she said. “I couldn’t in good conscience not pay my employees at least enough to get by on,”
 I made a mental note of the business.  When I read further, and saw this:
“If it becomes a problem where I have to raise prices, then I’ll raise prices,” McBride said. “If some customers don’t want to pay me more for the great work we do, then I don’t need those customers, frankly.”
I knew I had to call her.  She was delighted to hear my story, delighted to send the estimator (her husband) and delighted to have a crew at my house three days later.  Yesterday was the day, and my heart was in my throat.  They unloaded chain saws and rakes and hoes and containers with curious coloration.  I tried to stay out of their way; they knew what they were doing and they wanted to go about doing it without interference from the lady of the house.

The lady was having a hard time staying quiet.  No one has every pruned my trees without my direct supervision; imagine my surprise when my Texas Ranger went from a bush to a tree without my consent.  It looks fine with the lower branches trimmed off so that the agave it was hiding is now exposed to view, but I wish someone had asked me before they went to work.

There's no mistletoe in the trees and there are no wildflower/weeds/detritus on the ground.  The prairie dog holes and the bunny holes and the snake holes and the spider holes and the various other beastie holes took one man 2 hours to rake smooth.  They'll be holes again in no time, but for now, they are covered with gravel and the yard is pristine.

It's odd to write about the garden without taking pictures, but it doesn't feel like mine right now.  I have to go out and get used to it before I can capture it in pixels.  Like with a new haircut, it's going to take some getting used to.  The bones are good, it's all just a little too short right now.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

For The First Time, On the Big Screen....

It was Science on Screen day, and Tucson was one of the location pins on their map.  Dr. K and Not-Kathy and I were unaware of the date when we agreed to accompany TBG to a big screen showing of his childhood favorite, Forbidden Planet..

A migraine kept him home, but he reassured me that my presence at home, while always welcome, was not necessary for his survival.  One kiss and I was on my way to The Loft .

(This the only theater I'm comfortable visiting; I've convinced myself that mass murderers are too self-involved to notice an art house.  Please do not try to dissuade me from this position; I'm comfortable with the absurdity.)

It was clear and cool and after the carpool rush; I breezed across town, coming in a slightly longer but much less congested way, smiling as I realized that I was figuring out a back way into town, reveling in the feeling that Tucson is home.  I backed into a parking space under a bright lamp on a pole, grabbed a Blue Moon and a bag of free popcorn (a perk of membership in The Loft) and took seats on the aisle.

I scanned my neighbors, noted the locations of the nearest and furthest exits, shared my popcorn and Poor TBG chit chat with my dates, and then settled in for The Loft's coming attractions.  1984 has a stellar cast but do I really want to be that depressed? Deconstructing the Beatles....singing along with The Sound of Music.... Not-Kathy and I were filling the month of April with movie dates.

The lights went up after the Science on Screen promo film.  Chris Impey, UofA Astronomy guru and all-around delightful speaker took us on a PowerPoint trip through the confluence of movies and space.  It costs just as much to make a great blockbuster film as it does to send humans into space, or to build the telescopes to explore space, and every person in that theater felt Impey's outrage that only 12 people have ever walked on anything other than the earth.

We took a deep breath as we heard that our film cost $2 million to make, when that was real money but any time we might have spent pondering inequities in the distribution of the world's resources vanished when the curved credits came on the screen.

There are 19 men and 1 woman on the planet, and Anne Francis told NPR that it was the most fun she has ever had on a film set.  Before he was Lt. Drebin, Leslie Nielsen was the main love interest on Altair 4, the spark to Walter Pidgeon's Shakespearean renunciation of the id, freeing his daughter as he dies in her lap.

That's if you were paying attention to the plot.

Most of us were admiring the colors and the campy humor and the 1950's faux-sexual tension and bopping and swaying to the MOOG and its electronic tonalities, for which Louis and Bebe Barron won an Oscar in their own private once ever awarded category.

It's fun, it's deep if you need it and simple if you want it, and, of course, it has Robby the Robot

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The 10-Second Deal

I left TBG home to deal with the painting company.  They've worked for us twice before, the last time 5 years ago, before The Wedding.  He had the file with the old invoices close to hand.

Door bell rings, right on time.

TBG opens door, smiles in recognition as the painter does the same.

"Same deal as last time?" he asked.

"That works for me," husband replied.

It took longer to write the check than it did to close the deal.

Somehow, I never have that kind of experience.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


SIR took us to the Studebaker Museum.
It was shiny and it was colorful 
and there was something for everyone.
She carried the tires and brought Daddy the ratchet and they added oil and fluids before they went for a drive.
The grown ups not tending the child wandered through American history, following an immigrant family teetering on bankruptcy while making goat carts
 and sleighs
until one brother returned from the California Gold Rush, ready to invest in the family business the fortune ($8,000) he'd made.... building and selling small wheelbarrows to the miners.  
The Studebakers created cars of surpassing elegance
often decorated to within an inch of their lives.... like the wheels of this fire engine:
The museum was mostly Studebakers, but there was this Hispano-Suiza, Phrynne Fisher's car, sitting smugly beside the mannequin.

There was so much to stare at.  There were big fat tires
and fantastic colors
and elegantly shaped rooflines.
There were fins
and more fins
and there was sheer elegance.
There was the original kiddie car
and there was the carriage in which Mr. & Mrs. Lincoln rode to Ford's Theater that night...
which stopped us in our tracks, too moved to take a picture, standing respectfully in front of the most impressive vehicle of all.  

Monday, March 27, 2017

Butterflies to the Rescue, Once Again.

Last night, the sun set like this
but TBG and I were hard pressed to take our eyes off the book Little Cuter created.  The Grandparental Invasion - March 2017 is filled will hugs and love and smiles.
Our basketball pools, decorated by the stickers FlapJilly put on her dog and her father and her Gampa,
are totally busted, but the hearts and the minions and the Minnie Mouse polka dots allow us to smile as we cross off another team.  The love is there, but the girls are not.


I needed an antidote - and Scarlett and the Tucson Botanical Garden's butterfly exhibit came, once more, to the rescue.  The exhibit receives shipments of chrysalis every three weeks; there's always a new specimen to examine, like this one, who flew right past my nose to land on the hibiscus leaf.
From the side, he's perfectly camouflaged.
There were blue ones and big-eyes-on-the-wings ones and then this new one, with round wings and straight wings and striped wings.  It's hard to see all the pollen on the front of his wings and he flew away before I could maneuver myself into a more favorable position, but believe me when I say that there was an orgasmic quality to his rest.
The warmth and the humidity make the flowers happy, too.
They may be in the nursery next week.
I'll be waiting.

Friday, March 24, 2017

David Maraniss was interviewed by the lovely young reporter whose boots appeared here once before.  He's written books on Barack Obama and Roberto Clemente, on Detroit and Bill Clinton and Vince Lombardi.  He's an editor at the Washington Post (in his spare time?) and spoke eloquently about covering tragedies and of humanity's need to feel it.   
I wrote the words in my notebook before I took the microphone; I asked the first question of the afternoon.  How do you balance "humanity's need to feel it" with the intrusion into the lives of those who are the actors in the tragedy?
Some in the audience met my eyes and smiled the smile that says I know who you are, and I took that loving feeling in as I bathed in the warmth of his answer, words said slowly, after a pause:
You cradle them in your hand.

The best of the reporters TBG and I encountered did just that; I wish I had met Mr. Maraniss when I was in the drama.  His advice - Find the universal in the particular - was every PTA mom, every playgroup member, every soccer practice family who heard about Christina-Taylor and me and said  That could have been you with my child, or me with yours.  
He was perfect.

And then there was Amy Dickinson, America's long-winded Ann Landers for the 21st Century, whose column often ran longer than the news articles in the AZ Star, before the editor (who was forced to confess her sin to the final questioner) decided to limit her to one question per day.
She, like all the others, left her stuff on the chairs in front of me.  We exchanged meaningless pleasantries and then she was on, acting like my sister on a good day, smart and sassy and full of wisdom.  "In these times, it's really important for us to stick together and to stay connected," felt as comforting as she meant it to be; her kindness won us over after two sentences from her book.  

Though we chose to hear the happy part rather than the sadder section of the two she offered us, in the end she began to read about the day her mother died.... and she had to stop, to catch her breath, to compose herself.  The audience was quiet, unmoving, with a low rumble of it's okay ohhhh sniff underlining the moment.  As a fellow shootee sitting at my feet and I agreed, it was a quintessentially Tucson moment.

And that's the ultimate take away from the TFOB  -  it draws those moments out of talented people from everywhere. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tucson Festival of Books

Saturday morning, an hour before the first session of the first day of the TFOB, I was comfortably ensconced in the front row, feeling somewhat lonely.
Forty five minutes later, I was feeling the crush.

I listened to Tim Stellar and Joe Conason discuss covering the news in the 21st century.
"It's much harder to print fake news in a print paper than on-line," Conason said.  
"They get most of it right most of the time."  
His advice to the media - "You don't need to repeat every nonsense tweet" - seemed like a delusion, television being the ratings driven business that it is.  But the man used the word tendentious, a lovely, rarely used word, and for that I can forgive a multitude of sins.  

Before I left for Penelope at The Rogue Theatre, I shared a moment with Ron Fournier.  During his love story about his relationship with his son, he shared a fact I know is true:  Michelle Obama is the best hugger!

Sunday morning, bright and early, I sat in the front row of the Science Tent, not ten feet from Dava Sobel, author of the science books I love the most.  Planets is in my powder room.  Gallileo's Daughter, writing from her convent, has sat on my shoulder since she was published in 1999.  
There's a Cornell connection, too; she said that writing for Cornell Science was her favorite job.
I listened, star-struck, and delighted.  I chewed on my Kashi Bar, enjoying my breakfast with her.
It was kinda perfect, denizens.

I had lunch, I wandered through the astronomy exhibits (did you know that the first grad students in astronomy at Harvard were women?) and learned about planets from another Cornellian, finishing her doctorate here at the UofA.  I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Arizonal Daily Star's Main Tent.  You'll have to come back tomorrow to read about that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Antidote to the Pain

John Oliver is right.  We all need some Brazilian Zebras to brighten our days.

What, you wonder (if you didn't watch Sunday's edition of Last Week Tonight), am I talking about? Since 2005, the city of La Paz has employed people to dress up as zebras and bring kindness to the craziness that is traffic in the city.  They beg, they plead, they dance, they fling themselves before on-coming vehicles so that pedestrians can cross safely - all while looking like this:

Image result for smokey the bearImage result for mcgruff the crime dogNo, there are no real zebras in Brazil.

Yes, the program provides entry level jobs for recovering addicts and others on the margins.

No, they do not speak nor do they remove their heads while on duty.

Yes, they are Brazil's answer to McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear; kids love them.

The green screen image has been graciously provided to the video-producing public.  The zebra makes Trump's presser with Angela Merkel less awkward:


Sean Spicer's defense of the indefensible becomes a watchable piece of television when his tie begins to dance:
wingard entertainment

TBG and I were drowning in the swamp of Manafort and The President stands by his tweets.  We were staring at FlapJilly's face on my phone's wallpaper, missing our littlest girl with aching hearts.  We were travel exhausted and couldn't concentrate on anything remotely serious; even A Thousand Clowns was too much for my brain to handle.  

As John Oliver so plaintively cried - Why didn't we know about this until now?

Try it.  I promise that it will help.  Nothing else seems to do the trick.  Reality is trying to ruin my day already, and it's only 8 o'clock in the morning.  I'm going to watch some zebras and get back on track.  Look for The Burrow early in the morning tomorrow.... if I can tear myself away from these



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