Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 10

I have no pictures; I was too achy to take them.
Your gift for the 10th day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Do you know about Zicam?  Ir's a homeopathic, in oral spray/nasal spray/tablet form, based on zinc. You start medicating the moment the symptoms appear and it stops the sneezing, aches, and general yucks from getting any worse.  
Usually.  
It's been a mainstay of my visit here in Indiana, as a cold reared its ugly head soon after I arrived.  
This particular disease, however, seems to be resistant to improvement. It's been a challenge to keep from hugging and kissing the littlest human, as I try to spare her from contagion.  
It's a leap of faith that she'll stay healthy.  I want to leave her with memories, not sneezes.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 9

I am certainly not in Arizona:

Your 9th gift on the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Dancing is moving to the music without stepping on anyone's toes, pretty much the same as life. (Robert Brault)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 8

Before she became inconsolable at the thought of going to bed, FlapJilly was milking the last bit of fun out of her playtime, including Mommy in her dollhouse fantasy, snuggling with her Daddy for a story, wrapping Grampa in her Wonder Woman lasso of truth, and generally being a delightful human being.  It’s so hard to let go of the day sometimes.


Your gift for the 8th day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Are you as confused as I was about Boxing Day? I spent all day wondering about it. Then, because there are no unanswered questions in The Age of the Google, I found the answer, and I share it with you, for your edification.
It’s an old tradition (Pepys mentions it in 1663) where tradesmen and servants and purveyors of services received Christmas Boxes... what we now call The Envelope.  Apparently, there was no shame attached to ringing the doorbell, hat in hand, and asking for your box.
And now you have another fact to add to your arsenal.
You’re welcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 7

Swanning around in our holiday hats:

Your gift for the 7th day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Little Cuter made this for Xmas dinner. Prep time was minimal. Our taste buds were delighted.
Yukon Gold potatoes chopped into 2” squares.
Lemon zest.
Mustard.
Lemon juice. 
Olive oil. 
Salt and pepper. 
Mix together and roast for an hour or until cooked through.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 6

Merry Merry Christmas !
http://liftupyourday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Caroling-Geese.jpg
Your gift for the sixth day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
As in years past, my all-time favorite Xmas carol, 
courtesy of Walt Kelly and Pogo. 

Sing loudly and lustily to the tune of Deck the Halls.....

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!


Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!


Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!


Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!


Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!


Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 5

Eleven years ago, this was happening:
As you read this, I am leaving that golden sunshine and warm winter air for frigid conditions outside and warm and fuzzies inside.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend, whether you are celebrating or just enjoying the general good cheer.  The Celebration tour will continue on Monday, but, for now:

Your gift for the 5th Day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
From a college friend of Big Cuter, a man who walks the walk and shares his light with everyone.  May this be an inspiration to you to ring up your legislators and make your voices heard.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” 
 Matthew 5:14-15

Happy Everything, Day 4


Happy ninth day of Hanukkah.

Your gift for the 4th Day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Phone Congress is the simplest way to connect to your elected representatives.  Whether you call to complain or voice an opinion or send holiday greetings, it's also the easiest way I've found to remember where the numbers are stored.

Does it feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, led by the good ole USofA? Go ahead, make your voices heard!  Call those who represent you and scream  You'll feel better about democracy, America, and yourself.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 3

Happy 8th Day of Hanukkah!!
May your year be filled with miracles and light.


Your gift for Day 3 of the 12 Days of the Holiday Celebration Tour:

Princess Myrtle is in Paris, studying accounting.
Wisdom from my French grammar book: "Note: 'the problem' is masculine, 'the solution' is feminine." Worth noting -- grammatically speaking this is fairly unremarkable (nouns ending in -tion are often feminine). Make of that what you will.
I am making nothing of it, because I am not looking for an argument. I will say, though, that after watching the news last night, TBG wondered if we could just give the world over to women for a while. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 2

I'm not a fan of cute animal pictures, but this one still makes me smile.
https://i.imgur.com/nD7Dmoh.jpg
It reminded me of  FlapJilly, when we calculated her age in hours.

Time flies.
I still smile.

Your gift for Day 2 of the 12 Days of the Holiday Celebration Tour:


"Oh, My God!" 

by Billy Collins
**
Not only in church
and nightly by their bedsides
do young girls pray these days

Wherever they go,
prayer is woven into their talk
like a bright thread of awe

Even at the pedestrian mall
outbursts of praise
spring unbidden from their glossy lips.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Everything

I can promise only picture posts from now til the new year.  
I will make my phone calls and share my opinion on mccain.senate.gov and flake.senate.gov   (just substitute the appropriate name and click through to CONTACT) once each day.  
And then I am determined to revel in my favorite time of year, spending it with and thinking about 
my favorite people.  
So.
From my "If there is a holiday we celebrate it with style" family to yours,
Happy Everything!
 I promise to leave you a little gift each day, along with the pictures.

Your gift for Day 1 of the 12 Days of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
To Kill a Mockingbird, the one on your shelf, or in your bathroom, or this one from Amazon.
Then share the black and white movie version with those you love. 
:

Friday, December 15, 2017

TBG on My Hanukkah GIft



I've never been offered humans before.

It's weird

I've eaten blocks of chocolate and chocolate animals, but never a human.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. 

I want the sweets.

They were the good guys, right?  Are they more or less edible if you like them or don't like them? 

Did you eat Maccabees when you were little?  (I don't eat chocolate; why would I remember that?)

They are people.... (he's eyeing the package)...little warriors with little shields and little beards and plaintive eyes on their little faces.

For now I'm going with the weird.

No offense to you, but those Maccabees are going to remain uneaten for a while.  I do have Hershey Kisses.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Happy Thoughts

Doug Jones fulfilled his childhood dream.

The Cutco rep came by and sharpened all my knives.

FlapJilly's cough isn't keeping her from turning somersaults.

Rolfing has evened out an uncomfortable imbalance in my hips.

Joe Biden called John McCain one of my best friends.

I've bagged and packed and delivered and mailed almost all of The Brownie List treasures.

There are still more unread books on my shelf, some of them in large print.

Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, and the Moody Blues are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The sun came up and I was here to see it.

I love this time of year.




















































Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It Must Be Said

I've been trying to rise above the fray, to go high when he goes low, to stay out of the morass and dwell in the light of the season.  I have been fairly successful.  The Burrow has been filled with kids and sweets and stories.  The news has been on for the cold open headlines and nothing else.  I skip straight to the comics in the paper.  I haven't opened the NYTimes or Washington Post apps on my phone in weeks.

But this morning it all fell apart when the latest Trump Tweet popped up on the tv, as TBG switched from ESPN TO MSNBC: 
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
(and would do anything for them)

Innuendo.  Insinuation.  Backhanded dismissal.  The sexual connotations were clear even to my sleepy eyes. 

(and would do anything for them)

She's hardly a lightweight.  Has he just noticed that she's in the ring fighting against Trump (when did he start referring to himself in the third person?) ?   She's been all over the news for weeks.  Is he standing up for his fellow predator, WJC?  Doesn't Hilary deserve her entire sobriquet? 

(and would do anything for them)

I tried all those other responses to the tweet, but I couldn't get past the filthy underpinnings.

This is not how polite people converse.  This is throwing mud and seeing where it sticks.  This is demeaning the office of the presidency.  This is so DJT.

(and would do anything for them)

He and Roy Moore should take a boys trip somewhere together...... far far away from the rest of us.

I am so over this guy.




Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sunshine, Kids, and A Good Book

That pretty much sums up my recent past.

It started with this photo, putting the exclamation mark to SIR's insistence on snow for Christmas.

It moved on to Amster's Cookie Party, with two little girls who are not so little any more, with Mr. 14 towering over me while weighing less, with Miss Texas no longer a young'un.  Time passes and I don't seem to change a bit, or so I imagine until I find old photos, or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. 

I remember G'ma wondering who was staring back at her while she brushed her hair.  I have become my mother.

Undaunted by my furrowed brow, I went out into the bright sunshine, laughing at the football players making snow angels as a touchdown celebration on my way past TBG and the television.  I've had an incredible string of good fortune in the public library of late, and I spent some time on the refurbished lounge chair reading and soaking in the sun. 

Apparently, I, like many older people (yes, the NP did include me as an older person.... sigh), am Vitamin D deficient.  How that is possible with 350 sunny days each year is a biological conundrum, but one the test results were clear about.  So, I sit in the sun as medicine, now.

Yes, I also take a supplement, but I'm enjoying the fact that tanning is now in my best interests. 

I finished Ace Atkins in large print.  I gave stickers to the first graders in the cafeteria after dropping off trays of Amster Cookie Party treats in the teacher's lounge.  I'll go to Mr. 12's first basketball playoff game.  I'll open another of my library treasures when I get home.

Sunshine.  Kids.  A Good Book.  Life is good.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cookies

Bring 48 cookies/brownies/clusters.
Take home 48 cookies/brownies/clusters.
Chat with Amster's friends and associates.
Admire the growing children.

It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Amster was prepared with take home containers which she found in her Xmas Storage Bin.
The array was varied.
Some were gluten free.
Some were "no nuts."
Many of them had sprinkles or peppermint bark.
The girls who made these gingerbread men were reluctant to part with them.
I shared their pain, until Mom told me that there were lots more of them at home.
Watching the young'uns pick through the frosted shapes, looking for the most.... sprinkles or icing or size.
There were grown up hands
reaching and walking in an orderly fashion around the table,
delicately placing goodies in containers.
And there were small faces filled with sweets.
It was two hours of laughter and conversation and calories.

I wondered how many cookies were considered too many cookies.
The moms said 2 or 3 or 4.
Mr. 14 said 25.
Mr. 12 said 50.
Is it any wonder that I love those boys?

Tomorrow, offices and schools and freezers will be filled with the goodies we didn't eat with our soda and prosecco today.  Tonight, we're all feeling grateful and full.

I love this time of year.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Feeling the Love - Ignoring Everything Else

Ms K's 4th graders sent me letters.  All of them thanked me for stickers and stories and smiles; some of them wondered why I never came to visit them any more.  Where was I?  Did I go to other schools?  Was I busy?

I was missed in the cafeteria.  Their letters reminded me that, sometimes, I even gave them two stickers each.

As the complimentary closures moved from Sincerely to Love to Your Prince Grandchild, I felt more and more abashed.  I emailed Ms K and a plan was laid.

I spent the morning replying to each letter, paying careful attention to my penmanship.  I plated brownies sized for 10 year old hands.  I put them in my bag, on top of the book I was leaving and the one from which I'd be reading.  I added business cards proclaiming their wonderfulness, found the biggest stickers in my drawer and drove to become their Surprise Reader.

It wasn't much of a surprise once they espied me walking across the playground.  I admitted to nothing, t for inscrutable while trying not to laugh.  But soon I was seated on a table, reading  aloud from Thce D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths  while Ms K displayed the illustrations on the white screen on another side of the room.

The technology was new to me.  I thought they'd have to pass the physical book around. Helplessly, I handed her the book I'd be leaving as I told the class about Mrs. Kleiner, my own 4th grade teacher, my first role model and my all time favorite teacher.  Their letters mentioned the stories I told about when I was a little girl, so I waxed eloquent for a while before I wondered aloud if they knew what the Greek myths were.

"Sure, some of us read Percy Jackson."  

My heart sang as I saw the shy smiles on the faces of those readers; kids who love books are so easy to love back.  We began at the beginning, with an overview and a map (I love maps) on Page One, introduced Gaia, took a detour through Ceres, then jumped ahead to Hera and Zeus and Argus and the beautiful white cow who could spell her own name.  We ended with the Pantheon, their Greek and Roman names in calligraphy beneath golden line drawings.

Did they see the huntress, Artemis/Diana?  Diana... Wonder Woman?!... not the Amazons but like the Amazons... and she's even older than I am left them gasping.  
Which goddess I would I be?  I had to stop and think about that.  I reviewed my options, considered Aphrodite (because, why not?) and decided on Athena.  Wisdom with a sword - I like that.

I left them with the 4th grade version of my elevator pitch on civic engagement - you live and learn here therefore you have an obligation to speak truth to power because democracy is a contact sport so contact your legislators because they can't know unless tell them how you feel.

They left me with a full heart and a happy soul.

Being plugged into nothing more hi-tech than Ms K's whiteboard was a perfect way to spend the day.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Distracting Myself

I left this scene of loving chaos
when the chaos began to out-weigh the love,
and went outside to meet the UPS delivery person.

I took my time coming back inside.

The drippy euphorbia-formely-known-as-pedilanthus has shed its tiny red flowers
and the agave pups have grown up very nicely, thank you for asking. 
Once the winter rains begin I'll move them to their permanent homes in the front yard, 
where they can grow to their full 6 foot splendor.  
Til then, they are protecting the pop of color I bought for FlapJilly's visit.
For some reason, no beasties have munched on the pansies this year.
It's the first time my I'm buying them even though I know they'll be eaten foreboding was for naught.

The tiny cacti JannyLou gifted me last year . 
are hosting some clover-ish petals.
I'd remove them, but those tentacles are covered with glochids.... infinitesimal prickers that pierce the toughest gloves and embed themselves in the soft parts and the knuckles and the creases of my fingers.  Since, by definition, it's only a weed if it's a plant-in-the-wrong-place, I've decided that it's meant to be.

This post is me trying to ignore Al Franken and Jerusalem and the RNC.
I refuse to let the world ruin my favorite time of the year.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Avoiding the News, As Much As I Can

He's smallifying National Monuments, allowing, he says for the biggering of Utah's economy, ignoring the fact that tourism is the state's largest industry, anchored by The Mighty Five national parks and monuments.

He's going after Medicare, lowering payouts to physicians and increasing co-pays.  If you're too young for this to remind you of the difficulty you'll have finding a gerontologist, remember that now there's no incentive to buy insurance if you would rather let those of us who do protect ourselves shoulder your fair share of the burden.

A fetus now has "personhood."  There's no CHIP funding to help finance health insurance for those cells when they are here in the world with the rest of us, there may not be free pre-natal vitamins available as there were under the ACA nor lactation support, but that fetus may well receive some tax benefits.

And that's only what I can write off the top of my head.

I can't watch Rachel Maddow any more; she's suffering and so am I.  Brian Williams's dry humor is, suddenly, off-putting.  Saturday Night Live's cold opening was scarier than it was funny. There's too much sturm und drang for me right now. 

I want to surround myself with elves and Hanukah lights and shiny wrapping paper.  I want to revel in the smell of brownies, fresh out of the oven, imagining the recipients, those I love-and-who-send-me-thank-you-notes-and-are-therefore-on-the-Brownie List.  I have cards that make me smile, holiday specific and generic, peace-filled and colorful.  I have matching pens, too. 

There are baby lizards jumping off the lantana.  Black birds with white primary wings are zipping around, but I can't identify them, though I just spent a few lovely minutes with my bird identification books (Watchable Birds of the Southwest by Mary Taylor Gray, Peterson's Western Birds Field Guide, and the Golden Guide to Bird Classification). 

I'm going to try to avoid the news for a bit.  I'm halfway through Karin Slaughter's latest (The Good Daughter; it's as good as all her others) and there are a few others awaiting me on the shelf.  I have last minute errands (baking powder, snack bags, Penzey's spices for vanilla before the price goes up) and Pilates and a massage.

If that doesn't distract me, I can't imagine what will.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Four Years Ago Today

As she did with everything, my mother died in a most convenient fashion.
In her bed, after I'd tucked her in and told her I loved her and she whisked me away with a brush of her hand, preferring to sleep than to have me stay and chat, she drifted away in the early morning hours.  The Old Folks Home woke me at 5am; my east coast siblings were awakened by me at the civilized hour of 7:30 in the morning.  

A Thursday morning, so that her family, spread far and wide, could travel over a weekend, for a Sunday funeral, missing not that much time from work, spending time playing games and telling stories and agreeing with Intrepid Cat that This is fun.... too bad G'ma had to die for it to happen.

I miss her.  I talk to her (she doesn't usually answer).  I wrote this for her.
Esther Tamara Rukasin Annis

Born February 19, 1923
Died December 5, 2013

A smart, thoughtful, interested and interesting woman.
A loving grandmother and mother and aunt.

She is wallowing in chocolate, Hershey's kisses on the side, 
watching Christina-Taylor jump in mud puddles.
Listen in to the conversation:
"You're getting filthy, sweetheart!"
"It's fun!"
"Come, have some chocolate.... take more... don't be stingy with yourself."

Peacefully,in her sleep, surrounded by her memories and supported by Hospice and staff and family,
she left this world and is now reunited with the woman she used to be. 
Sad but not tragic, her loss leaves a void to be filled with good books, loving children, and more photographs than any family should ever collect in ten lifetimes. 

She will be missed and remembered.


Monday, December 4, 2017

A Weekend Spent Reading and Elfing

I finished Lachlan Smiths's Leo Maxwell series on Friday.  I spent the rest of the day baking and organizing and writing and packing and driving to the post office with a big bag filled with goodies.

I read Lee Child's new Jack Reacher novel on Saturday, after a lovely morning of shopping and butterfly garden visiting (where I was greeted by a Prince scholar who remembers me because I give him stickers) and more shopping and driving and eating and driving followed by more baking and writing and a little bit of packing.  Mostly, I sat outside in the sunshine and read, until I came inside and read some more.



On Sunday, completely forgetting the Cornell Club Luncheon I'd been looking forward to for weeks, I wandered an art fair with JannyLou, noticing the very large dogs, buying a garlic grater (which turns out to be an extremely useful and beautiful tool), and finding the perfect ornament for the wooden tree I bought at the Tucson Botanic Garden with Scarlett on our Saturday morning adventure.

I came home to Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke's latest collaboration, and spent the rest of the afternoon following the adventure while trying to figure out who wrote which parts.  There was more packing and writing and driving to the post office, and there will be more baking as the evening goes on.  I'll be looking at the Super Moon and snuggling next to TBG as I finish the mystery and start Michael Connelly's newest series, taking a moment to thank the public library for providing me something tangible for my tax dollars.

Except for forgetting my chance to get dressed up and have a delicious lunch with smart people I really like in a lovely space I'd otherwise never get to visit, it's been a pretty perfect weekend. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

It's Starting

She's always first.
Her packages are secured by multiple layers of his-old-firm's tape; this year I did not bleed while extricating the treasure from within.  
Huzzah!
The treasure resides beneath my Tree of White House Ornaments v.2, 
awaiting the start of Hanukkah.  
I'm not mixing holidays on purpose;  this just seemed like the logical place to stash a pretty, small, heavy box.  We're a blended, all mixed up family, sharing our celebrations in all directions.  It's The Holiday Celebration Tour and we take and make our pleasures where we pleases.

Besides, were I really looking for correctness, I'd bring my desert outside inside, since Bethlehem looks more like Tucson than Germany's Black Forest.  But it's not about religious or historical symbolism to me; it's about memories and smiles and the notion that TBG's colleague has been sending us these ornaments for decades.  
I needed two trees to display them.

We are in the interregnum, the extra week granted bakers and shippers and shoppers when Thanksgiving comes in the 4th not the 5th week of November.  I feel like I should have more time.  Yet there it was, her box, sitting on my front doorstep, alerting me to the beginning of The Season of Frantic Mailing.  

Everything is in place.  It's just a matter of starting.  Tonight is the first of our holiday-dinners-with-friends.  I'll be bringing brownies.  I'd better start baking them now.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

You'd Never Think - A Snippet

You'd never think that Arizona men's basketball would be un-ranked, Steve Lavin told me, and it got me wondering.

You'd never think that so many prominent men would be called to account for acting like pigs, which is probably an affront to pigs, but that's what we called them back in the day which got me wondering about the fact that

You'd never think that the President of the United States would be one of those pigs.
Ana Navarro's tweet says it best: 
Matt Lauer lost his job. Charlie Rose lost his job. Mark Halperin lost his job. Glenn Thrush lost his job. Billy Bush lost his job. Harvey Weinstein lost his job. Kevin Spacey lost his job. But in politics... Conyers still in Congress. Moore still running. Trump still President.  
You'd never think ... but we're living it.  I don't like to think of it, but I must.

You'd never think that the "fiscally responsible party" would rush through tax reform in a matter of weeks, would reprise Trickle Down Economics as if no one remembers Ronald Reagan and maybe they don't but I do and I'm going down a rabbit hole of I can't believe that they are doing this while all the while they are doing this to all of us, except those of you who are very very very rich.... or are corporations, because you are people, too, it seems.

You'd never think that either, but it's true.  Net neutrality is in jeopardy and graduate studies are in jeopardy and I'm not even touching the environment and public lands and our increasing isolation from the rest of the people on the planet.

You'd never think that.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Socks and Underwear

No one needs anything.  No one wants anything.  Socks and underwear and comfy sweat pants are on every list.  Beyond that, there are no special requests.

I know who likes what -  color and thickness and support and show-vs-no-show-vs-I-don't-want-them-to-fall-down.  I shopped a little on-line, not considering Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shipping most of it to myself at FlapJilly's house.

Though the thought of the pool and sunshine was tempting, the kids felt like Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without snow.  I agree that it's hard to fully embrace the season when I'm wearing shorts and a tank top, but, somehow, I think I would survive. 

But that's where they will be so that's where we will be. 

Being absent for the main event makes decorating for Christmas somewhat of a non-event.  I was finished after two boxes and one hour.  A friend complimented my restraint.  I have two niches reserved for Chanukah; that decor is in one small box and will fill those spaces nicely when the holiday begins.

Until then, I'll be baking brownies and packing them and shipping them with notes on stationary I've bought and saved and found hiding in surprising places.  I have good pens and return address labels and The List is up to date. 

I opened the cedar chest and found stickers and gift tags and wrapping paper and bags and their accouterments neatly arrayed on wooden trays and in metal tins, organized by type and size.  I thanked my last-year's-self for being so thoughtful.

Everything is touched with a memory.  We put tags on top of tags on top of tags, reusing bags and boxes, some inherited from Nannie, so that the packaging becomes part of the gift, a blast from the past, a smile before the treasure inside is revealed. 

I love this time of year.  I don't need snow. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Short Review - Lincoln in the Bardo

Used loosely, "bardo" is the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena.
wikipedia

I heard George Saunders on NPR's Weekend Edition and I was flummoxed; he didn't sound like The Saint.  The more I listened the more evident it became that this was not the actor back from the dead, but a master of the short story talking about the dead.  It was a driveway moment; I sat in the car until the interview wrapped up. 

The conceit of the story is immediately believable.  The telling is cryptic, requiring some work until the pieces fall into place.  It's part play, part eulogy, and pure poetry.  I kept interrupting TBG to tell him how wonderful this passage... this thought.... this absolutely how did he know that I thought about it just that way description.

I cringed.  I sighed.  I teared up and I laughed out loud.  I ran when they ran and I worried when they worried and just when I thought I had it in hand it flew up and away in an entirely different direction.  

It's a mixture of fact and if-it's-not-a-fact-it-should-be and after a while I stopped wondering and just let it wash over me.  The end left me holding the book open in my lap... for a long time.  

One of the best books I've ever read.



Monday, November 27, 2017

There Was Hugging

There was love.  There was laughter and tickling and racing and running.  There was so much hugging.

There was love first thing in the morning, when FlapJilly hid in her mommy's neck, not wanting anything more than those arms around her small self, sheltering her from the world.  There was love later on, when the zoo was tiring and her daddy's shoulders were the only place she wanted to be.

There was love in the pool in the late afternoon sun, when her tiny arms and legs paddled furiously, alternately shouting Marco and Polo, pretending to close her eyes and squealing with delight when she was caught. 

I want to like something as much as FlapJilly liked the pool was Big Cuter's accurate assessment of the situation.

There was hide and seek.  Three year olds do not have highly developed skills in this arena; squeezing into a corner of the kitchen, lying silently under the ottoman in the living room, curling up beneath the dining room chairs, each choice left her open to capture and squealing and, of course, more hugging. 



There was more food than we could finish at more meals than I can remember.  There was bacon and then more bacon and then bacon for breakfast this morning. 

SIR posted a photo on Facebook from his happy place. 

There can never be too much bacon, he reminded me as he hugged me.

There can never be too many hugs.


There was following the labyrinth at the Redemptorist Center, as FlapJilly ran races through the traces, jumping over the small rocks that guided TBG and SIR and me in and out ever closer then ever further from our goal.  She placed a few of her grandpa's coins on the rock at the center, joining the small stones and other trinkets left by other passersby, and then asked for one of her goldfish crackers to leave as well. 

There were friends dropping by, hugging me in my kitchen, sharing stories and wine and bacon.  There was jumping on the bed and pushing her Mommy's doll carriage filled with her Mommy's Beanie Babies, before abandoning care-taking for the far more interesting task of crashing the Brio trains into one another, while the wooden bears ate the wooden piggies, before the small, blonde policeman put her grandma in jail.

It was the warmest Thanksgiving on record in so many, many ways.

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.

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