Friday, April 16, 2021

Sitting in a New Space

I've been grumpy lately.  It hasn't been fun.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to be happier.

My first step is moving to the kitchen table at sunset on a cloudy evening.  Usually, this seat is too bright to sit in for anything but admiring the view, while shading your eyes.  But tonight there's a delightfully boring grey haze behind high clouds and I can sit and look out at the view while I type to you.
Now, there is a reason to be happy.

Little Cuter received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine and SIR gets his next week.  We are so close to having a fully vaccinated tribe; another reason to smile.

FlapJilly told us that after reading 3 chapters in my book, I just put my bookmark in and went to sleep. 
He little brother explained in great detail SIRs kindness in making ice in my water.... there is ice in there.  Facebook may be the work of the devil, but FaceTime has cemented our relationship with our grandkids that nothing in the Before Times had equaled.

I'm smiling as I type that.  This is really working.

I ran back to the market for three items - all of which were right there on display shelves as I walked through the door.  I didn't have to interact with the store beyond grabbing them and heading to the checker, where there was no line, and where the Hershey bars with almonds were still Buy 2, get one FREE!!! right there at the cashier.  TBG was a very happy man when he saw them on the counter.

I hung out with JannyLou, unmasked and acting like it was not unusual.  I'm scheduled to play mah jongg in real life with Scarlet on Saturday.  Tucker Carlson is right; if we're vaccinated we can be inside with one another, without masks.  The fact that visiting my girlfriends is now going to be part of my routine makes me very very happy.

I'm going to read the Treasury Department's report on the cyber security breaches.  I'll let you know if there's more than what's being reported; there was a lot in the Mueller Report that said (for all intents and purposes) if they'd give us the information we need, we could answer/prove/connect that.  I read all 408 pages and the 1100 footnotes, too.  The holes were gaping.  I'm excited to see if now they are filled.

Thanks for helping me plan and clear my brain.  Writing to you always helps, always makes me smile, always makes me feel connected.  You, denizens, are among the biggest grins of all.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

A Referral - A Snippet

I've begun and rejected two posts while I've been on hold.  

The phone tells me it's now been 10 minutes since I connected with my doctor's voicemail-from-hell system.  There was no obvious number to push from the instructions, so I hit O and moved from droning voice to soft rock blaring from Speaker Phone.

After 5 minutes I spoke to a young woman.  She listened.  She put me on hold.  She came back and asked my identifying information before putting me back on hold.  After 9 minutes she wondered if I had a fax number for that referral; back on hold after giving it to her.

Three minutes later, she's back.  Okay, we'll work on that and hopefully it will go out in time.

Hopefully???????  I explained that without that referral I was on the hook to self pay a really high bill that my insurance will cover if they send the referral on time.  

Don't worry.  I'm sure it will be there by the time of your appointment.

No, there was no way to have done this more efficiently.  The phone call I made to the PA on Monday was absolutely the right way to proceed.  

Why did I have to call again, then, I wondered as I hung up.  I don't need any more anxiety in my life right now.  

It's the little things that make the biggest difference, don't you think?  I'm not feeling the same love I felt when I saw the doctor herself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Subscriber Email Alert

Feedburner, the RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) feed is no longer really simple, at least for me.  As of July1, 2021, Bloggers's RSS subscription service will end.  

I'm working on setting up something new. In order to be sure you don't get left behind (at least I hope you don't get left behind),  please send an email to ashleighattheburrow@gmail.com.  That will put you on the list (which I should be able to find in Feedburner but cannot) which (I hope) I will import into the new RSS.

I'll be posting this at the end of my verbiage over the course of the next few months, too.  

A Virtual Baby Shower

Little Cuter's elementary school friends are now moms themselves.  The newest one to join the club was feted on Sunday... all day on Sunday.... by friends and family far and wide.  This is a brave new world, denizens, and they are extraordinarily comfortable there.

LilHil, whose family's dates overlap with ours in so many ways, hosted three events in a row.  His Family, Her Family, and Her Mom's Friends gathered for consecutive hours of introductions and games and memories and love.

How is it possible that these kids I drove to soccer practice are now seeking parenting advice?  

How is it possible that none of their moms look any different than we did when we sat at PTA meetings decades ago?

Her mom sat in a kitchen that was familiar to me.  Three women who've always been together were in one room, together.  It was like old times, only different.

LilHil was a master Zoom-ologist.  There were no awkward silences.  The games were silly (I either need to go back to the nail salon or subscribe on my own to People and US; my knowledge of celebrity children's names extended to North West and Prince George) but there was much chattering and giggling and somebody won a prize. 

The mom-to-be was gorgeous (but wasn't she always).  She told a story about us that I had thought of that morning in the shower.  Her mom and I nodded along as she told it, recalling an afternoon 17 years and a blink of an eye ago, when together we solved an insoluble problem.  That it made as much of an impression on her as it has had on me reinforced my belief in the importance of girlfriends.  

And there they were, girlfriends from raising the Cuters in Marin, at the other end of Zoomia.  I didn't expect to be able to connect, and yet we did.  It was a less than life but more than Facebook experience.  

I liked it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Sun Is Out and I Am Blue - A Snippet

I can list all all the causes for my angst -

  •     The lady who sneezed - maskless - over the vegetables at Albertsons yesterday afternoon.
  •     Taxes are due.
  •     We're traveling to Big Cuter's wedding next week - airplanes, hotels, restaurants......
  •     My irrigation is refusing to water two of my vulnerable roses.
  •     There's an HOA meeting next door at Fast Eddie's house and I wanna stay home and Zoom.
  •     The pool filter conked out after absorbing more than its weight in detritus; we haven't swum in 3 days.
  •     The trilogy about Henry the VIII I'm reading is pointing out the lapses in my knowledge of        history.    
Those are the facts.  The results are a stomach jumping around, a head that refuses to settle on one thought for more than 5 seconds, and hands that are shaking when they aren't otherwise occupied.

My blood pressure was super high at the dentist's office this morning.  

I need to begin my meditation practice.  I need to exercise every morning.  I need to eat 3 meals, regularly scheduled throughout the day.  I know all this.  I know, also, that nothing on that list is all that terrible.

And yet, here I am.  Head in my hands.  Typing though I want to weep.

I'm having a Post Covid Melt-Down.  I think I'll wallow in the sorrow for a while and come out refreshed at the end.  

At least, that's the plan.

     

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Strange New World

Olga's comment last week about it being "a strange new world out there" resonates in my soul.  I gave myself a sick stomach last Thursday, forcing me to cancel dinner plans next door.  I think I did too much too soon. 

Reading at Prince on Wednesday, a private session with The Pilates Diva on Thursday followed by a haircut and lunch out...... it was a normal middle of a normal week set in the middle of Pandemica.  It freaked me out.

By Friday morning, I was anxious about reading to another kindergarten class.  I could have cancelled, but my heart wanted to share Caps for Sale more than my brain was feeling reluctant.  I overrode my thinking and drove down to school.

I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Nothing was different than it had ever been.  There were bright eyes shining back at me - 25 of them where before, during hybrid learning, they were 12, two days a week.  Getting used to all those extra bodies on the carpet caused some consternation.  The boys in the back were talking and the girls beside them were fidgeting.  The littlest one with the tiniest face had a mask that was just not staying up over her nose; I could have fixed those ties if I wanted to get close to her...... the shot of adrenaline that coursed through my body as I considered a plan of action stopped me dead in my tracks.

Like I said, I couldn't wait to escape.

We imitated the monkey and wondered how the peddler got all those caps back on his head when all he has is that skinny little arm.  I put stickers on chests and appreciated the few thank you's which came, unsolicited, out of a few of them.  Normally, I'd have insisted on the polite recognition of a gift, but that would have delayed my exit.

I didn't stop to chat with the office staff.  I got back to the UV and took off my lanyard and my Coat of Many Colors and my mask and realized, with horror, that I had no hand sanitizer.  My hands never left the steering wheel all the way home; no way was I touching my face.

I shouted a Hello to TBG as I stripped and made my way to the shower.  I washed off all traces of school, then joined TBG in the pool and swam a half mile.  

I felt physically clean on the outside.  I felt invaded on the inside.  

I reassured myself that I was fully vaccinated, that teachers have been in classrooms, unvaccinated and unscathed, all year.  I didn't touch any one or any thing but the chair on which I sat, and the table to which I moved so that I could be higher and further away.  No one sneezed or grabbed me.  I was in the room with the scholars for 15 minutes.  

I'm fine.  I know I'm fine.

I'm anxious and overwhelmed and when I realized that there is nothing on the calendar this weekend I calmed down.... a little.

Little Cuter advises small steps.  She knows that I get excited.  She's suggesting that I tamper my enthusiasm and listen to my soul.  Costco can wait.  It will be there when I'm ready.  She's right.  I'm just not ready yet.

I will be Doing Nothing for a few days, and I'm totally excited by the prospect.

Who knew that I'd look back at Pandemica with fondness?

Friday, April 9, 2021

And Today, A Haircut

It's been more than a year since my hair has met a pair of scissors.  That's about 2 months too long. Up until then, I was amused by the length and the variety of embellishments available.  Then, my locks refused to come down from their pony tail; it took about 30 minutes before the up do relaxed.  And the ends were frayed and lifeless; pulled into a bun they weren't noticed by anyone but me.

I made the appointment the day I received my second vaccine.  It was a declaration of freedom, of a return to The Before Times.  I was only a little bit anxious.

The signs outside their new location said it all:  No Mask?  Okay.... see ya next time! stood on one side of the door, You Mask Up.... We Stay Open was on the other.  

I knew the owner, my stylist, had been vaccinated.  She offered me a chair away from the other patron, but since everyone was masked and she and I were full of Fauci Ouchies, I demurred.  I didn't know how she'd cut my hair while I wore a mask, but long hair is easier than short hair when it comes to that particular issue.  She was no where near my face or ears - that was new for me.

We caught up on our husbands and our daughters and my son.  She regaled me with tales of unmasked patrons at their brewery, and the subsequent encounters with the police.  Their brews are now in cans which they are marketing to supermarkets.  Pandemica forced them to improvise; the improvisation will be a second revenue stream once things really open up.

Without stray hairs falling on my nose, the haircut was delightfully itch free.  The conversation was delightful and the results were exactly what I wanted.  She had fun sculpting a new style, and I had fun showing off my new do to Lady Jane over lunch.

It was an absolutely normal day.

Why is my stomach in knots now that I am home?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Back At School

The scholars have returned to full time, in person learning on the campus of Prince Elementary.  Masked and socially distant, they walk in careful lines, stopping on the horseshoes that have been painted on the playground.  When I came around a corner, two little ones hugged the wall until I passed.

Grandma was back at school, and it was wonderful, despite COVID precautions.  

There were no hugs (sigh) but there were many many smiles.  Do you remember me? followed closely behind HI!!!!! from the mouths kids I haven't seen for 14 months.  They've all grown.  With masks covering half their faces, identification was spotty at best.  Of course I do! was my standard answer.  It sufficed.  

Grandma's Garden is a disaster.  Even the weeds have abandoned the space.  There are 2 stray yuccas, no doubt pooped out from a burrowing beast.  The aloe vera are flowering, but their leaves are brown and sagging.  I thought the irrigation was set to water every day; that doesn't seem to have happened.  The clean up will be fun for the kids and easy for me, supervising from my perch atop the stool G'ma used in her kitchen as she chopped veggies for salad.  I'll bring it out just for the occasion.  

And then I went to Ms F's kindergarten - 23 five year olds and 2 six year olds, according to the graph outside the classroom.   That's a lot of kids in one room, especially when they've been used to seeing half as many earlier in the year.  Small class sizes were a major benefit of the Pandemic Times..... though it seems churlish to wish for their return.

I read Caps for Sale and gave out stickers and no one tried to hug me (a first) as I stood to leave.  The teacher and I exchanged teary glances across the heads of her scholars.  We didn't have to say a word.  

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Tomorrow Is Not Promised

I'm sad tonight.  Almost too sad to write. and that strikes me as funny since I haven't spoken to her since she called me in the hospital to express her outrage at the NYTimes reporting on my shooting..

You are not 59 years old.  I know this because R'y isn't 59.  I know what year this is; you are both 58.

R'y is her brother and they are my first cousins and we lived next door to one another, our fathers working together and commuting together, then not; our parents best of friends, or not; but the kids never were involved in that drama.  

Instead, we ran the in and out of one another's houses, relying on their pretzels and our bread and butter for an afternoon snack, asking which ever mother was available a question, playing in whichever yard was available, the only real demarcation our swing set and their cherry tree along the back fence.

Every once in a while, she'd be  Annie Oakley with me, skulking around corners, snapping caps in the handguns we pulled from our holsters.  There were lots of silver stars involved, on our chests and decorating our accoutrements, which at times included vests with fringe.  She and the other big kids in the neighborhood would always play Red Light, Green Light and Red Rover across our front lawns. 

But mostly, she was an indoor mouse.

And what wonders were in her house.  4pm every afternoon it was Million Dollar Movie, sitting on the floor in front of her tv, watching old movies, the same ones over and over and it didn't matter because it was something nobody else was doing..... at least nobody I knew.  She was three years older and so much wiser, at least about certain things. 

I learned to read Seventeen magazine from the back page, where the new nail polish colors appeared. I don't remember ever coloring our nails together, but I remember the joy she took in painting hers. She introduced me to The Paperback Bookstore in Rockville Center, the first bookstore I ever loved, and to the notion of books in series, starting with Nancy Drew, then Sue Barton, Student Nurse; and others lost to the decades.  

She and her mother were ferocious knitters.  Everything they made fit perfectly and was exquisitely stylish, and looked perfect on their tiny frames..... at least that's how it seemed to me.  I wore her hand me downs, including the green and purple plaid plastic rain coat that I disliked with every fiber of my being.  She was an Information Operator one summer; I had a secret way to reach her.  

I visited her once, in college where I met her boyfriend's roommate.  We had a brief but torrid romance, for which I was too young and he was too serious.  And now that I think about it, it was my Spring Break and it could be 50 years ago this very week that she let me into her grown up world.  

She married the boyfriend under the tree between our yards; he was always just perfect for her. 

We grew up.  We saw less and less of one another.  But dad's as always, whether at her' dad's pre-funeral birthday party in New York or a family wedding in LA, though years had passed, nothing between us had changed.  We picked up right where we left off.  She was always just there, in the background, a presence, my Cousin. 

And today, she died.

She'd been sick then she got sicker and now she's gone.

I've spent all afternoon finding myself out there in the backyard, staring into their sunroom, seeing her read and knit and watch us run around under the sprinklers.  There are lots and lots of memories.  

There won't be any more.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Spring Has Sprung

This is  what I saw when I opened the blinds this morning.
The flowers are fabulous up close, too.
The yard guys were here and used their youth and strength to dig holes for my new roses.
They look much better now that they are out of their black plastic pots.  
This beauty shed her protective leaf soon after Matt put her in the ground.
And then, there are the pots.  My annuals turn out to be perennials and surprise me every year.  This pot in this spot was an unhappy home for a rose bush and a variety of refugee plants from other parts of the garden.  But the globe amaranth (Gomphrena Fireworks) comes back year after year after a drastic haircut in the fall, and the snapdragons reseed and flourish, creating beauty with no effort on my part.
  I was entranced by these pansies in the nursery and brought a bunch of them home.
It took them a month or so to settle in, but the hot days and cool nights have put a smile on their faces. 

Faces, you say?  The dog who lived with Nannie and Grandpaw when I met them was named Pantetta Jane Louise Marie Bertha Bernice Martha Viola Susan Linda Tallulah Sapphire, Pansy for short.  

Her black and white face was as sweet as these pansies.  The memories they conjure up are even sweeter..... creating another wonderful garden moment.