Wednesday, May 31, 2023

New Neighbors

The family I watched grow from elementary school through high school moved away at the beginning of the month, and the new people came right on their heels.  Actually, their repair and installation and other contracting people showed up and got right to work.  It was hard to tell if the new owners belonged to any of the vehicles.   

There was a partial lull in the proceedings this week, and the garbage cans were out for collection in front of their house yesterday (and Monday, too, because they are new and didn't realize that the holiday pushes our pick up days back).  Those were clues enough, I baked and wrapped and left brownies on the packages stacked up at their front door; the only response to the doorbell came from two delighted to see me dogs.

She called to thank me this morning, and we visited in her semi-furnished new home for just enough time.  Once again, I found a neighbor who loves to cook, and whose interest in an herb garden led to talk of a trip to the nursery down the block.  They moved from Las Vegas so the heat and dry air aren't as much of a novelty as it's been for other new neighbors......

...... which started me thinking about all the new neighbors I've had over the years.  

There was Claire, who shared our Honda del Sol in exchange for space in her garage.

There was Dara Blake's mother, who was delighted to park her 3 year old with the neighbor across the hall whenever I got home from work.  Dara Blake helped me change my clothes (ew... stinky stockings!) and sometimes snuggled while I read her a book and then she was ready to go home.

There was the mother and sons combo living above and below us when we were first married, the ones who painted the entryway steps (and then the risers so everything was drippy) the morning of our Kentucky Derby Party.

There was Sean who roped me into organizing an NCL chapter with our daughters and went on to become president of the national organization.

There was the owner of a well-known chain of gyms and his daughters and wife and two very scary pit bulls on one side of our Chicago house, and an absolutely delightful couple on the other.  Linda is in my life on a regular basis since her Strawberry Banana Jello Mold is a holiday staple, the recipe still on the small card she handed me 3 decades and more ago. 

We had gates linking the properties; they were never locked. 

For the longest time, we had JannyLou and Fast Eddie; the path between our houses now links us to The Wanderers, whose history of fixing a house until it is perfect and then bemoaning the fact that there are no new projects to be done makes me wonder how long we'll have them.

I'm not worried.  We have a pretty good track record so far. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

If There Are Words, I Will Read Them

Sometimes the ticker along the bottom is a much fun as the game.
I can hear her squeaking, can't you?

(BTW, it was a great game with Notre Dame winning the Men's NCAA Lacrosse Championship.  There was no squeaking.)

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day

  First posted in 2008.  

I used to march in the Memorial Day parade. I was dressed in my Brownie uniform, and then in my Girl Scout uniform - replete with those embarrassing anklets. I wore them because the troop leader said we couldn't march without them, they were part of our official uniform.  Marching was too cool to pass up.  I wore them and bore the scorn.

All the school bands marched too, and the moms on Benjamin Road provided the materials and the labor to make the capes the high school kids wore. There must have been a military presence there, but I didn't pay enough attention to notice. I was marching and I knew that, all over America, other kids were being Americans and marching, too.

I belonged to something bigger than my family, my school, my town.  

Belonging means different things in different places. In Marin, the Memorial Day parade was always good for a controversy or two. Or three. Should the anti-war protesters walk alphabetically in the main march, or have their own march, or walk 50 yards behind the official march? I especially liked this discussion: should weaponry be allowed?

That was fairly disingenuous even for Marin.

There were bands at this parade, too, and with Bobby Weir as the Grand Marshal you know the music was worth hearing, especially at the picnic in the park afterwards. Not exactly your typical VFW-sponsored event, but no one was complaining. It was Memorial Day; there had to be a parade and a picnic and a coming together as Americans.

I've got the flag G'ma bought us for a housewarming present, which replaced the one Dadooooo got us in Chicago.  I'll wear the tie-dyed tank top the Cuters and I made early one July.  I'll remember the fallen and recommit to doing everything I can to make this country worthy of their sacrifice.

We have a long way to go, but I have confidence in the future.
We are the ones we've been waiting for

Friday, May 26, 2023

A Silly Snippet or Two

Flipping through channels, TBG landed on a local station, announcing its 70 years of service to Southern Arizona.

He looked at me with horror.

I am older than tv.


Little Cuter's children are used to being photographed.  They understand posing and smiling and saying cheese.  

They are also, at times, total goof balls.


And what would the weekend be without a photo of the littlest addition to our family?  

Just thinking about her lowers my blood pressure. 

Have a wonderful three day weekend, if your life admits such things.  

Thursday, May 25, 2023

There Are Holes in My Life

School's out for the summer.  I have no scholars begging for my attention, sidling up for a quick hug, screeching HELLO!! across the playground.  

It's been many months since Lady Jane shed this mortal coil; I miss her every time I drive past her house.  I could count on her for lunch or an adventure every week.  I didn't have to plan them.  She did the work.  All I had to do was show up.

Scarlett is seriously under the weather and in no condition to amuse me three times a week with mah jong and long stories.  I miss her little dog racing like a crazy person whenever you come to the door.  There are certain smiles on the faces of certain friends that will live in my heart forever; Scarlett's joy in her pooch's love for me is certainly on the list. 

JannyLou is long gone to her retirement community; a good move for her but a big loss for me.  She was always up for a quick lunch or a long chat, without any notice at all.  Friends with availability are a rare commodity these days.

I find myself to be good company, and TBG provides hours of entertainment when asked to engage beyond the sports and politics talking heads.  But there are holes in my life that I just can't mend right now.  

I'm feeling bereft.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

It's A World Gone Mad

The judge told the defendant that he'd be in big trouble if he opened his mouth, and made him say out loud that he understood and that he didn't have any other questions.

The defendant's own lawyers agreed that there was no question about infringement of the defendant's First Amendment right to make a fool of himself on a national stage.  He just can't put others in danger while doing so.  

The talking heads were straining to come up with different ways to say As if.

Zero to none; hard to imagine; highly improbable; total lack of impulse control (cf E. Jean Carroll remarks in New Hampshire) makes this not if but when.  We changed the channel when they started giggling and calling him a petulant child.

He's in trouble in courts all over the country.  He's being challenged by others calling themselves Republicans but acting more like theocratic fascists than small government isolationists while trying to get to the right of a man with no ideas or ideals or a moral compass.  

And he was President of the United States.

Remember when we were sure that this would finally be the thing that put an end to it all?  Today, I'm wondering if all of these might send him away someplace where he can't bother anyone else.  He's a nuisance, a canker on my sunny spring afternoons.

Dealing with a toddler is often quite challenging.  I'm all agog, waiting to see how the judge handles his.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

My Desert Garden

I planted sunflower seeds in February, and promptly forgot all about them.  

Once they arrived at the nursery, I filled my basket-on-the-post container and the 2 little make-the-post-look-less-awkward pots beneath it with purple and yellow  pansies and violas and verbena
and calibrocha and the remains of an osteospermum which never quite took off no matter where I relocated it until it began to thrive atop the post. 

It was a lovely, if static, arrangement, requiring little maintenance, doing nothing, just sitting there, looking lovely.  And then, large leaves began to appear in one of the little pots.  I'd distributed all kinds of seeds quite liberally over the season; I wasn't sure what would develop.

I found out soon enough.  Those seeds were powerful stuff, producing clusters of blooms and soon-to-be-blooms and thinking-about-it blooms
all the way up, at every juncture of leaf and stem. 
There are a lot of nodes getting ready to sprout; that's a lot of sunflowers.  I watch the flowers follow the sunshine, the younger ones attempting to assert themselves over the bigger and more established first born.

This looks like a very interesting conversation, albeit in a language unfathomable to me. 

Actually, it's the newer blooms facing the setting sun, shoving the older one aside.  Survival of the fittest and all that, but I still found myself humming Old and In The Way and commiserating, all while reveling in the unexpected burst of activity in my little corner of heaven.

I've shared the space with a hummingbird and a family of quail. I've watched the flowers open and the centers change shape and color. Every day, there's something new, something more, something less, but always, there is something else.  
All because of some forgotten seeds.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Happy Birthday, Little Cuter

There are some people who really do make the world a better place, just by existing within it.

There are some people whose presence brightens the room, the party, the meeting.  

There are some people who elicit Oh, thank God she's here! when a team is formed.

I'm lucky enough to have birthed one of them.

People gravitate to my daughter; in first grade the girls made a rotating list to keep track of who could sit next to her at lunchtime.  She was nonplussed by the drama.  She just wanted to be.

In 6th grade she wondered why the girls all fight with one another.  Don't they realize that if you don't fight with anyone you can sit anywhere you want at lunch?

Recruited to participate in Peter Pan, she won the part of Nana and wagged her tail into 5th grade history.  She's not one to push herself into the limelight; that giant dog costume was the perfect foil.  

But when she has a good idea and feels that it's being ignored, she raises her voice and makes sure she is heard. Some pretty wonderful changes have occurred in her orbit because she spoke up.

She was a beautiful child.  When her hair drew compliments at a summer job (hostess at a waterfront restaurant in Sausalito) she smiled and said Thank you, I grew it myself.

It's that little bit of snark that I love the most.

38 years ago right now we were struggling together to bring her into the world.  Her big brother was quite disappointed that she didn't throw the yarn ball back to him from her isolette the next day.  I think that's the last time she let anybody down.

I'm a very lucky mama.

Friday, May 19, 2023

A Convergence

Back in the Fall of 1968, I was seriously considering applying to New College. 

The Charter Class graduated, in 1967; the thought of being in on the start of something new was thrilling.  

At that time, individual majors were encouraged, and hands-on learning was part and parcel of the experience. Best of all, there were no grades.  With a faculty/student ratio of 10-1, faculty-student contracts were used to monitor progress. 

This had great appeal to me. I wanted to understand what Mr. Rudolph was teaching in Math 12X.  I wanted to learn, but I was being graded by what I could take in and reproduce before I fully grasped it.  If we'd had a contract, I'd have set my own goal, a much less lofty one than the District demanded, and I would have relished the opportunity to take my time and figured it out.  

That's not something you can do in a big school.  The intimacy appealed to me. 

G'ma put the kibosh on it pretty quickly.  It's brand new.  What makes you think it will be there for 4 more years? Nothing about the curriculum or the no grades, though she read the catalogs along with me.  Just my Mommy looking out for me, seeking stability for her first born.

I, foolish and na├»ve, didn't counter with,  I'll transfer.  I moved on.  And, as usual, G'ma was right. Her timing was a few decades off, but New College isn't there anymore. The fascists are coming for the books and the learning and New College has been swept up in the maelstrom. 

Remember the Jews and the Commies and the homosexuals who were purged from Germany's universities in the 1930's? Read this article and tell me that the same thing isn't happening in Florida right now. 

They want to take it down to the moral studs and build out a replica of Hillsdale College“I understand that there is a new mandate for this college,” was the President's response.  

Cornell University, my alma mater, has a Mission Statement:  I would found an institution where any person may find instruction in any subject.

Hillsdale College has a mission statement too.  It runs down several screens on the laptop, and includes items such as these: (font captured exactly)

The College also considers itself a trustee of our Western philosophical and theological inheritance tracing to Athens and Jerusalem, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.
By publicly defending that legacy, it enlists the aid of other friends of free civilization and thus secures the conditions of its own survival and independence.

It ends with this gem:

The College values the merit of each unique individual, rather than succumbing to the dehumanizing, discriminatory trend of so-called “social justice” and “multicultural diversity,” which judges individuals not as individuals, but as members of a group and which pits one group against other competing groups in divisive power struggles.

Compare all that to the New College home page (as of May 18, 2023 at 8pm Pacific Time) Font captured exactly :

Join Our Community of Free Thinkers, Risk Takers and Trailblazers

Your education. Your way. Discover a public arts and science education driven by your curiosity, career aspirations, and individual learning style.

A new mandate for this college, indeed.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

I'm A Disastrophe

Remember that word, coined by FlapJilly and embraced by her grandmother with pride and glee?  It's a portmanteau of disaster and catastrophe, and it's exactly how I feel right now.

I went for my Annual Check Up this morning, but we never got around to any of those questions.  Apparently, my presenting symptoms were much more interesting.  

My doctor was late, a rarity in that office.  She sits with me for as long as I need her, so I assumed that she was doing the same for some other unfortunate soul.  I nursed my weeping eye patiently in the waiting room.  I had no place else to go and nothing else to do for hours; sitting quietly felt like exactly what I needed.

When it was my turn to enter the portal, they took care of the basics.  My weight was within the range I can handle.  My O2 sats and pulse raised no alarms.  My blood pressure, however, was delightfully low. I've been medicating since Pandemica, but the numbers never budged from the 140's and the 90's.  After 5 days of holding my granddaughter in my arms, on my chest, near my heart, I was calm, to the tune of 122 over 83.

I think I will prescribe myself a regimen of frequent caretaking visits.

But, I digress.

Once the doctor came in and we dispensed with noting how pleased we were to see each other, she asked how I was doing.

Ten days ago I would have said I was in my best shape in a long time.  Today, I'm a disastrophe.

I started with the medical marijuana drying up my teary eye (which left her laughing and not at all judgmental).  She asked me one or two questions and declared that I had conjunctivitis, implying that now-legal drugs would not solve the problem. I've managed to live 71 conjunctivitis-free years.  I'm fairly peeved that it's invaded my cells right now.  

On the other hand, I'm very glad that just one dose of erythromycin salve stopped the drip and eliminated the pain.  My vision is a little blurry (coating your eye with goo will do that) but the relief is worth the annoyance.

Bending over my bright pink toenails (courtesy of a last-minute-before-we-left-for-San Francisco pedicure with Not-Kathy), she looked then gently and carefully and kindly pressed and pulled and pushed, all the while explaining what she was feeling and what she was thought she might find. 

I'm lucky. Good care like this is hard to find.

Luckily, there didn't seem to be any displaced chips of bone, nor an alignment issue requiring surgery. I can bend it and extend it without excruciating pain.  We agreed that an x-ray was superfluous; we could see where .  I'm buddy-taping the broken third one to the healthy fourth one now; the second toe will have her turn tomorrow.  It will take 6-8 weeks to heel in strongly soled shoes .... no flipflops, no wobbly, no weak  no no support footwear .... she took this part very seriously.  

I have another appointment for Fasting Labs and my Annual Exam in September.  I've got my medication and my instructions and permission to take 600 mg of Advil twice a day, thrice if it really hurts.  

I am currently a total disastrophe.  But relief is on the way

Yay, Science!