Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Product That Really Works

Visibly more beautiful skin from a body wash by Dove - sure, and I have ocean front property in Nevada I'd like to show you, too.  Your snarky reviewer read the email with more than a grain of salt.

She's been burned before by products promising lustrous this and shining that and all within time frames that seemed impossible.  Visibly more beautiful skin after seven days?  Even I could follow through on a program like that. If it didn't work, I'd lost nothing; they were sending the product my way for free.

The visible care toning container arrived at my doorstep a few weeks later.  The instructions for the reviewing program were simple.  Try it, take a picture, and write about what you thought.

Free soap and a prompt.... I was on it in a flash. 

The label was intriguing; the highest concentration of NutriumMoisture technology across the Dove portfolio. I'm not sure what NutriumMoisture technology is, but there's a lot of it inside that easy to hold container. 

There must be, because this stuff really works. 

As always, I speak only the truth to you.  If I hadn't noticed a difference you'd have been the first to know.  If it had been a close call, I might have swayed toward the I don't think so edge of the seesaw.  But there is no doubt about it - I do have visibly more beautiful skin, and the only change in my beauty routine (such as it is) has been Dove Visible Care Toning body wash.

The product promised to promote skin’s elasticity and strength. Maybe that's the reason my skin looks so much smoother, less segmented by teeny tiny lines that arrived without warning one afternoon a decade or so ago. 
This is my calf before I used Dove Visible Care Toning body wash.
This is my calf after 10 days of using the product.

If this review taught me nothing else, it is that photographing one's own body is a difficult task.  I don't know if you can tell that there's a difference, but TBG sure can.  He reached over and patted that calf and noted a change.

After 42 years, that's reason enough to use the body wash.
There's a sweepstakes entry for everyone who leaves a comment below.  The prize is 2 $500 spa gift cards, courtesy of Dove.  There's also a $1 off coupon to thank you for reading this unpaid (except for the body wash) review.

Don't know what to say?  You might like to answer this question:
Am I the only one who bought the same soap, year after year without thinking about it because it's what Mom/my partner/my roommate always had and it works just fine?

Please, tell me I'm not alone! You'll make me feel better and you'll be entered in the sweepstakes for 2 $500 spa gift cards if you copy your comment at the link below.

First, the goodies. Here's a coupon for $1 off the Dove Body Wash

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Enter to win one of two $500 Spafinder gift certificates!
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
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c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that post.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/18/2012 - 8/22/2012
Be sure to visit the Dove® VisibleCare™ Crème Body Wash brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Watch the Olympics With Me, vol. 1

I'm watching it all on tv.  Big Cuter thinks we are hopelessly 20th century, sticking to the big screen in our living room. He watches in real time, on his telephone.  Honestly, even if I had more than a stupid phone (which I don't) I don't think I'd watch that way.  I just don't care that much.

What I like are the stories and the spectacle and the momentary hush before the bell rings and the event begins.  I like the preparation coming down to that one instant for everyone, all at the same time.  The athletes, the time keepers, the bell ringers, the basket-ladies, the groundskeepers, the maintenance crews - it's all been about this moment in time. 

They are all in it together, and I, sitting at home on Douglas, am there with them, too... and with the billion other people who watched the Opening Ceremonies last week.  Danny Boyd made a movie for the modern age, and he did it with style. 

There was no over-the-top extravagance; dare I say he did it on the cheap?  I mean that in the nicest way possible, denizens.  I hate excess, except where bubbles are concerned... but more on that, later.  The production numbers were filled with smiles and sighs and though it may have been a bit odd to have the National Health Service assume center stage at an international sporting event, once I got over the oddity of it all I kinda sorta liked it.

The clothes really looked liked that in the 1960's - I had an orange and white harlequin block A-line dress that looked just like the black and white ones on the dancers.  David Bowie and Elton John and Queen and the announcers were singing along and so was I.
There were dancers of all shapes and  sizes and abilities. Notting Hill  and Mary Poppins who knew that James M Barrie donated the proceeds of Peter Pan to the Children's Hospital and all of a sudden the NHS connection becomes a bit clearer and sure it's a stretch  but they are promoting reading and that's a good thing.

C'mon, people, it's The Olympics; you have to feel the love, even if the reach is a bit too far. 
The production spoke to a young demographic.. "Another thing I don't understand," was Meredith Viera's constant response to the technology used in the show.  The crowd was a part of the cast, with LED's at each seat.  The dancing looked more like aerobics than anything else, but then, I'm not part of that target demographic so I went with it and, to my surprise, found the hip hop blending into the Beatles and all of it quite pleasing to my ears.  When the crowd chimed in with "I'm forever blowing bubbles" I was transported.... to summer evenings in the backyard with butterfly nets and lightning bug jars and bubble wands... and to freshman year in college seeing Women in Love and walking home humming that tune and dreaming about Alan Bates.
With Will and Kate kissing as a backdrop, and London's melting pot strutting its stuff on the field, it was time for the Parade of Nations, my favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies.  Greece came first, and that was the beginning of the what are those boys carrying conversation.  The girls accompanying the sign bearers carried flowers; what were those boys toting?

I got lost in the beauty of it all.  I want an Aruba team hat, and one from Lesotho and Hong Kong, too. Domenica's style and India's flowing turbans and elegant saris, the comfy Guamians and Portugal's scarves dazzled the eyeballs.  There were giant tulips on the lapels of the competitors from the Netherlands, the symmetry of which was opposed by the Mexicans who preceded them, each of whom seemed to have made a unique outfit based on shiny primary colors. 

Some less politically correct countries were color coded; the German girls were in pink and their boys were in blue.  Guyana put the girls in orange and the boys in yellow, but I'm choosing to avoid making clothes a political statement since it seems that the USofA outsourced the manufacturing of their outfits to China.

Instead, I'm focusing on the memorable - the Solomon Island's blue and yellow goatee, the bare-chested Fijian, the Finns boogieing to the BeeGees.

It made me sad to see them athletes videotaping the event instead of smiling and enjoying it like the blonde Australian girl who was jumping and yelping. She was glad to be there, and I was glad to share her joy.  The Nigerian women were swinging their hips and the Spaniards stretched out in a long thin line so that each and every one of them could have a few seconds on the international television feed.  There were Palestinians and Independent Olympic Athletes and citizens of Chinese Taipei who probably go home to Taiwan and it didn't matter to me at all. 

For one evening, we are all s planet together.  Out of many cauldrons that, it turns out, was what those boys were carrying, one Olympic torch was lit.  Not one outstanding individual, but many future Olympians had the honor of bringing the flame to the end of its road. 

It got a little dusty... something must've flown into my eye.... I admit to a tear or two. 

It's a good thing London does great fireworks; the sad went away with the first, crown-like burst.
There will be more Olympic coverage as the Games go on.

Wondering where my commentary on Sir Paul McCartney might be?  I have given up trying to say it nicely - the man can't sing any more.  I was embarrassed for him.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Telling Stories

It's my fault that G'ma's dentures have been rattling around in her mouth these last few months.  Apparently, the dentist has been waiting for us to make an appointment to have the bent clasp repaired.  That fact was mentioned to me at her last appointment, but it never made it into my permanent memory bank, let alone onto the calendar.  With the upcoming nuptials, "Preparing G'ma" has a place on the To Do List and fixing her teeth tops her section. The appointment was yesterday, at 4pm.

I arrived at the pod-castle just after 3.  Her nap was over, Law'n was on the tube, and the Horace Mann blanket was covering her lap.  She was wearing one of my favorite blouses, the yellow one with the gathered bottom, and a pair of pants that looked like ones she bought for herself but which, upon closer inspection, belonged to another resident.  Laundry is fungible at the pod-castle; every month or so the worker bees scour the closets and dressers, returning misplaced items to their rightful owners.  If I ask about a specific article, they are always able to find it.  I've given up any emotional  content which tries to attach itself to this issue; it's not worth the bother.

Wearing somebody else's brown pants and her own perfect smile, she ambled to her bathroom and emerged, twenty minutes later, hair brushed and ready to go.  Her hair is another issue, but one that I will put off until next week.  That glamorous style created by Jesse is unmanageable for her.  It's too bad; she looked great. Yesterday afternoon, it was good for a laugh as it blew into her eyes, no matter how she cocked her head.

"Look at my hair," was the prelude to every sentence which left her lips between her apartment and my car.  Air conditioning, the summer breeze, bending over to sit on the seat.... her bangs were drooping into her eyes and making her giggle.  I love to hear my mommy giggle.  I know, in that moment, she is happy.

Driving out of the parking lot, the facility's over-sized sign caught her eye, as it usually does.  "Friendship Villas..... is that where I live?"  I try to convince myself that it doesn't matter that she can't remember as I remind her that, in fact, she's lived there for nearly three years.  "Assisted Living... what the hell do they assist me with?"  Bad grammar aside, it's an interesting question and I stumble over the answer.

G'ma is at an in-between stage in the panoply of services available to the elderly in America today.  Not demented enough for Alzheimer's Care nor independent enough to manage her own home, she's caught in the middle.  Independent Living is the euphemism for the hotel-like accommodations which feed and entertain the no-longer-driving elderly.  It's possible to hire help to manage medications and to encourage participation, but monitoring the success of those services proved overwhelming for both of us.  She doesn't need all the care that is available to her in Assisted Living, but there's no alternative that works for us.

She's paying for care she doesn't use and they can't manage to keep her laundry straight?  It's one of the many pieces of her life which isn't working out quite the way we had planned. She's safe and happy, so I try not to worry....too much.

"What do they assist me with" morphed into "If I were dropped off on the side of the road right here, outside this driveway, I still would have no idea where to go."  That's true, and horribly sad, but the fact is that she's not going to be dropped off on the side of the road and she's never without someone to tell her where she belongs.  I remind her of this and she smiles.

The good thing about her lack of short term memory is that sad thoughts don't take up residence for very long. The bad thing is that she doesn't remember that we have this conversation each and every time I take her out.  I'll never tell her that these reminders are pinpricks in my soul; it won't make any difference and would only serve to make her momentarily sorrowful.  I keep those thoughts to myself.

She likes to point out the bright yellow and red and green cars which seem to dot our streets in greater numbers than were found in New York.  "Do I still have a car?" she wondered as we tooled up Oracle Road.  "Nope, brother took it one day for Niece-the-youngest.  You gave up driving the day you called me and said that it had taken you two hours to get home from the grocery store.  You forgot the way...."  and I continued with the saga she had related all those years ago, how she had driven all around town, noticing the homes of our friends and doctors and babysitters but unable to figure out how to connect the dots and find her own house.  "Did I ever get home?"  After pausing for the obligatory moment of giggles, I went on by retelling how she ended up in front of the library and, "of course you could get home from the library."

"I have no memory of that at all."

There's no affect attached to that sentence.  It doesn't seem to make her sad or mad or angry or frustrated or any of the other emotions which roil to the surface of my soul whenever we're in one of these situations.  It is.  It's a fact.  There's no sense in wasting attitude.

Once again, I go to school on being an old old person by watching my mom.

I retold the story of her journey to Arizona, from freezing in New Jersey and selecting her first apartment here to her fall in my garage and the consequent hospitalizations for a fractured spine and sprained shoulder and how the medications overwhelmed her and she fainted and broke both her ankles at the same time and wore two lower leg casts for 10 weeks and had three lovely Mexican ladies living with her and caring for her and how that was unsustainable financially so she moved to the pod-castle.

"I have no memory of that at all."

She was the keeper of the stories, the one who remembered which relatives did what when.  She kept track of our friends and our appointments and our responsibilities and our birthdays and our anniversaries and now it's all gone.  I amuse myself, at times, by imagining a pill that would reawaken those sleeping memories and surprise us all.  She'd remember and I could forget and it would all be just the way it used to be.

The light changed, I drove on, my fantasy vanished.

I don't mind telling those stories.  It makes the time pass and I've bowlderized them sufficiently so that no awkward parts remain.  No sense in reminding her that she lay like a sack of potatoes on the bathroom floor.  No sense in reminding her that her refrigerator was filled with left-overs in take-out containers yet she continued to order dinners.  No sense in reminding her how difficult it was to prepare her medications and Daddooooo's medications and of the consequences of those difficulties.

No, there's no sense in that at all.  Instead, I tell her stories, in the same sing-song voice I used to lull the Cuters into a peaceful, resting state.  I'm parenting my parent, even down to story time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Letter to Aurora, Colorado

Dear Aurora,

Tucson sends you its love.

The media reports specific numbers of killed and wounded, but we here in Tucson know that's only a part of the story. This happened to all of you, each and every one of you. We get it. Really, we do.

Everybody has a story, or is one degree of separation from a story, that puts a loved one on the way to or passing by when or right across the parking lot. That is true here in our small-town-metropolis of just over 1 million; it must be even more true in yours, one third our size.

Does it seem as if all the faces in town have the same glazed and dazed expression? Do you feel as if you are walking through a movie or a bad dream or any of the other banal explanations thrown your way? There's more than a little difficulty involved in realizing that this really did happen right there in your town.... where you shop and stroll and send your kids to the mall. It's just a regular town in a beautiful part of the country. We get it. Really, we do.

Colorado and Arizona may look like the Wild West to those back East, but we know that cowboy boots and silver belt buckles are only the outward trappings; in fact, we're just the same as everybody else. Going to the movies or going to the grocery store shouldn't be a cause for concern, no matter where you live.

Yes, you are a few miles from Littleton and it didn't take long for that connection to run as an undercurrent to the sorrow and the loss. Border skirmishes and guns-blazing-ATF-raids were our background noise. We know, as you do, that it has nothing to do with what happened that day. It's something with which to fill air time. People need to know why and cultural differences and prior bad acts fill the gap neatly.

Welcome to the eye of the media hurricane. For a while, everything will whirl around you. You'll see friends and neighbors and first responders on the screen just when you thought you could prepare dinner or sit down for an hour's televised diversion without being reminded that horror had struck just across the way. There is no escape; it's everywhere.

Not that you should or would forget those injured and lost, not that you ever could. Their stories are part and parcel of your memories of that night. The toothless 6 year old, the pregnant dad, the friends and the heroes, they are with you now and forever. We get it. Really, we do.

For those of you who were there, you are now the other, the ones to whom it happened. I did nothing more than take a girlfriend's daughter to meet her Congresswoman. I was Everywoman. It was an event, but the kind of event that grown ups and kids attend every day. Then, bullets flew. Suddenly I was iconic, I was everywhere, I was the neighbor who took the little girl to meet Gabby. My pseudonymous blog was suddenly inextricably connected with my real life, and my real life bore no resemblance to what it looked like the week before. It was a hard pill to swallow.

I saw the same confusion on the faces of Tucsonans I encountered. We were stunned. We were shocked. We never thought that such a thing could occur in our little corner of paradise. After all, it was just a sunny Saturday morning.... for you, a balmy Thursday midnight.... a regular day in a regular week that all of a sudden, without any warning, became another day that will live in infamy.
We get it. Really, we do.

What got us through those awful first few weeks, what has sustained us individually and as a community, has been the overwhelming love and support of a nation. President Obama came to us as a father and a husband, Brian Williams shared our pain on Dateline, late night talk show hosts sent their love. We were cosseted by kindness and comfort from total strangers. A ten year old in New Jersey, a grandmother in Iowa, long lost high school classmates - my heart was touched by those who knew me and those who thought that they did. Strangers accost me on the street, in restaurants, in the produce aisle and compliment me on my progress. Privacy? Not any more. I'm part of an historical event, just as you are. We have no choice.

I'm a public figure attached to an awful event and it's an odd place to be. It's not a role I sought, nor is it a role I can ignore. Without asking my permission, life threw a wrench into my carefully laid plans. My foundation was shaken in a very public way. My reactions have been scrutinized on an international scale. The Associated Press and National Public Radio and the New York Times have been in my living room. Who am I? Am I the same woman who picked up Christina-Taylor that morning? Am I a national figure worthy of public attention? Are my opinions more valuable because I was shot?

When the reporter sticks the microphone into your face, remember that we've been there, done that, and we get it. We really do.

You are not alone. The hearts of a nation are sharing your pain. The attention will wax and wane as the judicial process grinds its way forward, and events will occur that bring back the emotions you think you have carefully packed away. PTSD may rear its ugly head. Time will dull the pain, and you'll have moments where you don't hear the shooting or the screaming. I promise.

You can choose to allow the events of that night to change your life or you can choose to ignore it as best you can. Opinions will fly, full of certainty and conviction. Others will presume that they know just how you are feeling. Strangers will approach you in parking lots and reporters will call and ask for your reaction the next time something awful occurs..... and there will be another time... and another.

Political and philosophical conversations aside, the personal piece is yours and yours alone. If I've learned anything at all from my experience, it's that every one involved has his or her own reality. No one is more accurate, more precise, more right than another. This happened to you as individuals, but it happened to your town and your country, too. Everyone feels the need to weigh in. There is a new definition to your existence.

It's an interesting, pock-marked road to travel. Please, remember that you are not on your own. We get it. We really do.

The Woman Who Took The Little Girl to See Gabby

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Throw Out the Artwork

Yes, that is what Little Cuter emailed me this morning: Throw out the artwork.

Allow me to explain.  In preparation for her upcoming nuptials, hosted in our humble abode, I have been purging our personal spaces of detritus.  I have been cleansing with a vengeance.

It's not cleaning, per se.  I am sweeping up major piles of dust and debris, but I'm saving the actual washing of the garage floor for Ernie and his big strong guys.  I'm old.  I'm achy.  I'm lazy.  I'll pay.

But there are pieces of the task which cannot be accomplished by hired help.  Decisions must be made.  If I let TBG get involved, there will be nothing at all for my grandchildren to discover about their parents; he'd toss it all.  I'm closer to him than he thinks on this issue; what I save I save because I don't want the children to be angry if I dispose of a treasure they thought was safe at home.

Big Cuter was horrified that the photo album I created after his Grand Tour of Europe was not where he thought it would be.  No, dear, it was not sitting out on the shelf in the room in this house which is nominally yours but in which you have slept perhaps 50 nights in six years.  I had no idea that you would need it when I packed up the last room I moved you into and out of while your actual residence was elsewhere. 

Moms make mistakes, and apparently stashing his memories in a box with other childhood trinkets was a big one.  It reappeared when he was home for the holidays and we went through the boxes of books and toys and magazines and other relics of the days when he and his stuff were strewn over the floor.  He always knew where everything was, even if no one else could walk without damaging herself or his things. 

The kind of cleansing upon which I have embarked requires a ruthless dedication to the ultimate objective - less.  We had friends in Marin whose children could put something on their bulletin boards only if they removed something else.  Clothes were replaced, one by one, rather than added upon without thought.  If something came in, something went out.  The mom's entire childhood is contained in one, slightly oversized, shoebox.

I can't live like that.

On the other hand, I can't stand all these boxes.  They line the walls of the garage, marked with the kids' names and the contents within - books, collections, video games, stuff.  Four of the boxes contain the photo albums which don't fit on G'ma's shelves at the pod-castle.  The rest belong to my young adults.  I don't mind holding on to them for now, if what is inside is worth saving.  Yesterday, it was Little Cuter's turn to have her belongings put under the microscope.

I found soccer trophies of all sizes and descriptions; she definitely wants to keep them all.  I found trolls dressed, as she rightly pointed out, in clothes made by her babysitter and her mommy and her very much younger self.  Those she will save for her own children.  There's a polar fleece vest from the last soccer team she coached, girls who loved her so much there were always one or two of them hanging from her arms or her waist or her neck.  It, too, is a keeper.

And then there's the artwork.  I struggled with that this week just as I did when she was first creating the masterpieces.  There's a hidden talent lurking beneath the surface, but sports and friends competed for time and an evil photography teacher quashed her teenage spirit.  I remember the pride she felt when she presented me with the yarn self-portrait.  It was garish then and it is garish now but it's my girl.... by my girl.  How can I throw it away? 

How?  Simply by talking to the sanest, most reasonable human being I know - the artist herself.  Without batting an eyelash, without missing a beat, after listening to me brag about moving boxes and clearing out space she gave me permission to throw out the artwork

If she's not going to be sentimental about it, then neither am I. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aurora, Tucson, and Me

I have to write about it.

I've tried avoiding it.  I've tried minimizing it.  I've tried ignoring it.  I've tried tuning it out.  I've skipped headlines and entire sections of the newspaper.  It's not working.

Eighteen months ago I was one of those people... those regular, everyday people, those I just went to the movies people.... those people in the all-too-familiar hospital gowns with the silly ties that won't stay together. 

I understand why they have those goofy grins on their faces; they've lived to tell the tale. 

There is sorrow all around them, but they are here to lend an ear... or to be leant an ear themselves. 
Thirty minutes after the bullets stopped flying, I was sedated. I stayed that way until Mr. and Mrs. Obama came into my room and went right back down the rabbit hole again as soon as they left.  It wasn't until Thursday morning that I was fully awake.

I think that is why it has taken me so long to tune into the media coverage.  I have no memories of the immediate aftermath; in many respects, this was just another news story.  Once the weekend passed, though......
Location... location... location..... as your Realtor will tell you, it makes all the difference.  The Tucson shooter's family sent a relative out front with a typed statement which he read to the press before retreating to the family's home.  The Aurora shooter's family, who live in San Diego, hired an attorney who conducted a press conference wherein she said pretty much what the Tucson relative had read aloud.

The two shooters look eerily alike.  Didn't anyone in their orbits notice that look in their eyes?
I run away from the feelings and the stories and then I feel guilty for trivializing a catastrophe and then I plunge headlong into the birthday boy and the toothless 6 year old and the good dad driving the kids to the late show and I start typing through tears.

I read each and every one of the mini-biographies which ran in the New York Times after 9/11.  I wept and I smiled and I looked forward to each day's new stories.  I was touched by most, I remember some even now, but it always felt as if it had happened to the other.

There's not so much of that feeling any more.
The randomness resonates.  My hyper-sensitivity to the security of my surroundings has gotten another boost.

Between Netflix and Peapod, we really don't have to leave the house at all, do we?
I have a place to put the January 8th emotions, a special box in the corner of my psyche that I can open or close at will.... for the most part, anyway.  I don't know what to do with these Aurora feelings.  

I'm listening to stories about heroes and lost loved ones and driving through the neighborhood I missed a certain little girl who would have loved to have helped me choose my earrings for the wedding.

These Aurora feelings are just like the Tucson feelings.  I am the other.
Send love and healing vibes and warm wishes to Aurora, denizens.  I'm here to tell you that it really, really helps. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Thoughts

Thanks for the love and concern you've been sending my way as the sorrow in Aurora unfolds.  I was heavily sedated immediately after January 8, 2011, so this part brings back no personal memories for me. The loss, the devastation, only exacerbates what's always so close to my heart. 

Time passes, and the wounds become less raw, less omnipresent, but never less painful.  I hope that those Coloradans are as enveloped in love as my family and I were; that's what got us through the darkness.
There's an interesting discussion on BlogHer about purple backpacks and long division and the Lands End back to school catalog.  People are all over the map in their responses, but the tone of it all is civil and intelligent while "agreeing to disagree" through gritted teeth.  It's just what on-line conversations should be all about.
While I'm on that subject, I tried raising gender neutral children and, except around the edges, I don't think it's possible. Kids are who they are and as long as they are accepting of differences it doesn't matter to me whether they are wearing pink or not.

As TBG said, as our little boy stared at him in disbelief, "I'm man enough to wear a pink shirt to work!"
The Euphorbia rigida (gopher plants) have settled in nicely but haven't grown into a hedge as I had hoped.  Today, amidst the light sprinkles on our edge of the monsoon, whose deluge we can see to the south and the east, I went back to Rillito and purchased 9 more.  The originals were 5 gallon containers; these newbies are 1 gallon.  As usual, the size of the plant is almost the same.

I hope that the originals' success was not due to the larger root system they'd developed in the nursery.  I'll tend these new ones lovingly, right up until the wedding.  After that, they are on their own.  We'll see just how tough desert hardy really is.
My primary care physician is now sending prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically. This is a good thing; it's faster, more accurate, and requires one less stop at the front desk for slices of dead trees. 

On the other hand, the intricate lab request for my blood work is sitting on my desk, boxes checked off in typical medical professional writing style... which is to say, it's messy.

Slow steps, sure.... but this is creeping along glacially.
Tucson Bloggers had a CPR class on Saturday night.  The four women sitting behind me laughed with me as we noted that none of our spouses had joined us to learn how to save a life.  We joked about calling one another for assistance.... though the southeast corner of Tucson is quite a ride when seconds count.

The instructor was young and smart and entertaining and serious.  Check for alertness - Call 911 and get an AED - 200 chest compressions ... it's not that difficult.  The Heimlich Maneuver isn't called the Heimlich Maneuver any more but the motion hasn't changed.  2" above the belly button - press up and in hard.  If you're home alone, look for an edge not a corner and do it to yourself, remembering that, if you choose to use a chair with wheels, be sure it is pressed up against the wall before you impale yourself on the armrest.

TBG is still laughing at that image.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Who Do You See?

Someone came running up to me at the gym this morning, her face alight with delight at my progress, or so she gushed all over me and anyone else who might have been listening. She proclaimed that she''d watched me walk across the room and there had been "none of that lurching from side to side" she'd grown used to seeing. 

I liked having my efforts at proper ambulation recognized and rewarded.  I wasn't that crazy about the whole lurching from side to side image, but I had to admit that it was accurate, if painful to admit. 

My goal has always been the same: a fluid gait.  The number of muscles and tendons and joints and ligaments and bony structures which have to work in unison in order for me to achieve that goal is unfathomable. 

Not that one couldn't count it.  I am certain that Shannon, and Kyria and Becky could figure it out, but the number would still be unfathomable.... deeper than deep.... to the bottom of the ocean and beyond... a never-ending distance where the end is always out of reach. 

I can feel it getting closer... I am making progress... but I never know how close I am to being done.  I just keep plugging along.

Today I did squats and toe raises and leg presses and hamstring curls and more stretching and exercises prescribed by the women who are directing my rehab and then I went looking for ceramic pots.  I need a big one to replace the tall one blown over in last week's storm.  I wandered througjh three different businesses, each covering an acre or more of uneven ground and all manner of obstacles to fluid mobility. 

I bent and examined and lifted and carried and drove home and planted and moved pots and fertilized and cleaned up and swam laps and as I dripped across the bedroom floor on my way wash off the chlorine, TBG, with all manner of love and concern in his voice,  told me, gently but firmly, that I was "limping about as badly as I've seen you .... ever.... you are all scrunched up and your shoulder is nearly touching your hip."

He wasn't buying my "look at all I've done today" spiel; he sets high standards and that's a good thing.  His advice - take your time, get yourself organized, think about your hips and your shoulders, use your poles if you need them - is what everyone who's working on me tells me.  And, of course, they are right..... since I was able to right myself and move out of the room with nary a lurch.

Seeing progress when I'm strong, and possibility when I am weak.... people feel very free to comment. Not quite sure how to define myself these days, I'm looking outside for clues. Not for the long term; I know that will take care of itself.  I'm unanchored in the here and now and I wonder.... what do you see? 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Companionable Silence

G'ma and I went out for ice cream last week.  There were new glasses to be picked up from Dr. Le and hibiscus to be purchased at Rillito and the weather was down to double digits.  The timing was right.

I arrived at the pod-castle while the residents were finishing up their desserts.  Hot coffee and fresh baked cake; my mom could have been sitting at a diner, sharing a meal with friends.  But, the facts are that these friends replay the same conversations over and over again and she has no idea what their names might be or how she came to be sitting at the table with them.... and, the most important fact, she doesn't seem to mind.

"Who are they?  Who knows?! They're pleasant company.... at least I don't remember them being unpleasant."  Such is the wonderfulness that is my maternal unit.

She greeted me by name.  From then on, everything else was gravy, sauce on the sundae, the cherry on top.  The married couple wanted to know where I was going and why.  The lady G'ma sometimes recognizes as someone she's seen before complimented my necklace.  I rambled on about gardening and the up-coming wedding and we all took a moment to notice that the giant clock on the wall of the dining room was, for the first time in several years, actually telling the correct time.  It was no longer perpetually 2:20.

I kept to myself the narrative arc which wondered why an environment which served a confused clientele would leave a confusing landmark in place.  I figure that since this is the major complaint I have about my mother's care I am pretty lucky and should just keep this one to myself. 

Coffee finished, we said our goodbyes, promised to be back for her 2 o'clock pill. "And if I'm late, what will happen? Will I keel over at 2:01?"  She may be forgetful, but she's still the woman I used to know as Mommy.... at least every once in a while.

Yes, we get our eye care at Wally-World and I couldn't be happier.  Dr. Le hugged me from behind as I stood atop G'ma and her new eyeware.  The doctor tossed a little grief our way, wondering why it had taken us three weeks to pick up the new, slightly stronger, pair.  G'ma liked her new, smaller pair of specs, though the right side seemed "unbalanced.... kind of smoky."

I knew that was the glaucoma which Dr. Le had found for the first time last month.  With a somewhat stronger prescription, the world looked clearer to her... except where it was not.  There's a surgical correction, of course, but we're not fooling around with anesthesia and a nearly 90 year old woman any more.  By the end of the day, she'd forgotten to mention it, anyway.  It will become her new reality and as long as she can see my face and the television there's no need to worry.... at least that's what the doctor and I decided, with her agreement. Her "NO surgery!  I can see just fine!" was dispositive as far as we are concerned.

We strolled the aisles and bought toothpaste and denture cream and candy bars, all to her preference.  Some things you just don't forget, it seems... things like Colgate not Crest and Baby Ruth's not Pay Day bars.  Loaded up the car, chocolate in the cold pack, and drove through the drive-through at Dairy Queen.

A strawberry milkshake makes a perfect lunch for me.  Fruit and calcium... mmmmmmmmm.  G'ma, of course, (chime in here, grandchildren), had chocolate in a cup with chocolate sauce... as always.  $5.01 in cash and we were outta there, parked under the only scrap of shade I could find in the parking lot, facing the busy main street.  We had the a/c running and our seats practically shaded and we watched the cars go by, slurping and spooning in total contentment.

She's a slow eater of ice cream, my mother.  She's deliberate and precise and she doesn't like it when drips occur.  There's a method to her madness.... always has been.... always will be... and I love it.  We were each absorbed in the moment, with no need to talk.

" This, I think, is what they call a 'companionable silence',"  I said. 

"Yes, it is," she said and she smiled and she put another carefully assembled spoonful into her mouth and I smiled at her clacking dentures and her frozen chocolate tongue and at the fact of her sitting there next to me and, right then and there, we knew that life was good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reality, TV, and Me

I suppose if I had to choose someone to write my story for television, it would be Aaron Sorkin.  Even so, it was weird.

I knew that the shootings were going to be featured on The Newsroom; I'd heard a reference to it in the promos. Chronologically, it fit perfectly into the lull after the new year, when the Gulf Oil Spill had retreated to background noise and newsrooms around the country were searching for the next big thing,  I thought I was prepared.

The story arc became very clear when TBG reminded me that Christina-Taylor's question, framed in my car on the way to meet Congresswoman Giffords, was about pollution and the destruction of the Gulf Coast.  That was the running motif to our domestic worries in early January of 2011.  I'll never forget it.

Big Cuter, watching The Newsroom in San Francisco on a break from studying for the Bar Exam, was more startled than his parents.  He's usually the one with the calendar in his brain, keeping track of what happened when.  In this instance, it was only obvious to him after the fact.

I guess you had to have been there.

For us, sitting on Douglas, clutching our own selves, too personally involved to even glance at one another, the sequence of events was immediately recognizable.  The inaccuracy of the initial facts being reported - not the least of which was Gabby's death - hit TBG hard.  For him, the worst part of the whole event was sitting in the UMC waiting room, watching talking heads declare that his congresswoman had died of her wounds.  If she were gone, what had happened to me.... to the family members of the others crowding the waiting room, knowing nothing but what was broadcast on the screens attached to the ceilings. 

"That news cast such a pall over the room," he remembered.  The need for speed crashed against any considerations of accuracy.  Getting it first was more important than getting it right.  Jeff Daniels' protege says it best: This is a person we are talking about.  Or, as TBG continued to opine, "real people were affected by their inaccuracies... seriously...."

It's our story.... it's a part of history.... and I am still amazed that I am at the center of it all.  I'm sure that The Newsroom will move on to the Arab Spring and the snowstorms in the USofA because that's where the reporters went after lurking in Tucson for a few weeks.... waiting for the next big thing.

I don't feel like a very big thing.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grammatically Infuriated

I seem to recall a time when Wolf Blitzer didn't annoy the hell out of me.  Whenever it was... and I just spent a minute or so trying to place it in context.... many years have past since then.  Now, his little face and little voice and little mouth make me want to scream.

We all have our annoyances; I'm just sharing mine out loud.

TBG likes listening to the talking heads of all descriptions.  We have this conversation periodically, when I open my ears and hear words strung together in vague approximation of sentences by bloviators on the left and the right.  I cannot argue with his response to my astonishment that he would spend time letting them into his ears let alone his brain. "Without being there myself, without seeing it in person, I can only gather as many facts and opinions as are out there and decide for myself what to believe."

He spends his days thinking and comparing and groaning aloud.  This afternoon we watched Wolf and his reporter deconstructing the Romney campaign's attack on President Obama's donors and the government contracts they received.

I thought CNN was the thoughtful arm of the media.

Duh.  What voter is naive enough to think that donors don't receive federal dollars?  That's what appropriations are all about.  Living in Tucson, where Raytheon is a major employer, I certainly hope that they are spreading their wealth around Washington, reminding our legislators that jobs are needed here, too.  I'd be disappointed if they and their spokesmen lobbyists were not extending their largesse on both sides of the aisle, covering all their bets.

This is the best that they can come up with seemed to be the reporter's thesis.  His disdain mounted, Wolf's eyebrows lifted, and then the graphic came on the screen, the one with the misplaced apostrophe, the one that makes me throw pillows across the room.

I know you think that you're being very clever, using a grammatical rule.  Unfortunately for you, oh person who is typing the words I saw on the screen... and for the editor/supervisor who monitors your work..... its is possessive without the apostrophe.  It goes against the rule you think you are following.

When you see it's it means it is.  Nothing belongs to it at all. 

And so, there I sat, fuming at the folly of it all.  The facts are the facts.  A company gave money to the President's campaign, now that companies are people and can do that sort of thing, and then that company was awarded a federal contract.... or a grant... or an opportunity of some sort.  I was too infuriated by that errant ' to pay much attention to the content. 

This was CNN, not the local middle school's audio-visual department..... which would probably have a teacher who could correct the mistake before it went live so maybe it should've been in a middle school.  This was on television.  I remember when that meant something.

My grandparents, immigrants to this country at the turn of the 20th century, read four or five newspapers each day.  They listened to the radio.  They needed to learn the language and that was the best way to do so.  Care was taken with the words that were printed or broadcast; good grammar was absorbed along with the content. 

They went to the movies, where they read titles like this one, from Buster Keaton's The General
So I thought it best to hold her...... all that grammar packed into eight little words.  My grandparents learned English, their third (or in G'ma's mom's case, her fourth) language by imitation and through conversation.  I remember being chastised for using slang.... It's not right!

There were expectations of excellence, and no thought of dumbing down to the lowest common denominator.  Valentino, The Sheik, expected his audiences to contend with screens like this
And, somehow, they did.  G'ma remembers reading the titles aloud and having them read to her.  There was hooting and hollering and laughing accompanying the pianist down in front, and then there was a low murmur when the words appeared as seatmates shared their English expertise with the newly arrived or the infantile.

Reading aloud as a group exercise... I'm loving the image right now.

And my brain is back at being furious with CNN and Wolf Blitzer and the reporter whose name I've blessedly forgotten.  If you are that flippant with the rules of grammar, why should I not assume that you are simiarly oblivious to the rules of good reportage?  Why should I believe a word you say?  You obviously don't care about doing things well.. or right.... nor do you check your work.

Humph.  I am infuriated.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Random Thoughts

Monsoon is crashing over our heads. 
Were I motivated to sit under the portico with a tripod and a remote switch I might have captured the lightning strike that bisected this scene moments before I took this picture.

It's noisy and blustery and altogether wonderful.
Though we might be a little crowded, scrunched inside if it happens during the wedding, the enormity and the beauty of it all will provide a wonderful distraction to any discomforts.

And anyhow, I'm not allowing it to rain that evening.
I've already sent the memo.
Remember that closet I had professionally organized?  Thirteen months ago I wrote this:
Boxes of photographs and scrapbooking materials sit on the floor, taunting me but out of the way.
Yesterday, I tackled those boxes.
MOTG needed some photos of our bride-to-be, and they were all there, in labeled envelopes, for the most part, nestled amongst the negatives and the rolls of Kodachrome and the instant camera and its square film packs.
I have a box of memories ready to be mailed, two full recycling bins, and one less box in the corner. 

It's nice that this wedding is also having a positive effect on my closets.
I've been swimming laps every day, examining in minute detail every twitch of every muscle fiber.  G'ma asked me, last week, why I was leaning over; this morning I realized that I list to the right even when swimming.
It seems I am doing it everywhere.  Now, the answer I gave her feels less snarky than I thought at the time.  It seems to be the truth:
"It's just the way I am these days."
I needed a place to store the MaxSea, so I flipped up the roof of the CD House which lives by the front door and those acid loving plants
and traded floral nutrition for Roman Holiday, Justified (season 1), and Sports Night (the complete series).

There's something to be said for this cleaning up and putting things away in an appropriate place business, it seems. 
I took out three books from the library. 
Finished Alexander McCall Smith's newest No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel in one blissful afternoon.
Stuck Jesse Kellerman's paperback of The Executor in my purse where it languised for days.
When I finally opened it up, the entire story came back to me in a flash - including the fact that I absolutely abhored the narrator the first time I read it.
It's a good thing that his father's Victims was my third choice.  I haven't read it and Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are two of my favorite detectives.  I'm half way through and loving it.
I was going to use the bbq to create a tasty dinner this evening.
Right now, the lightning is still announcing its presence with authority.
Excuse me, please, while I attempt to convince TBG that dining out is in our best interests this evening.
I promise we'll be home in time for The News Room and Political Animals.... Sigourney Weaver as Hilary Clinton?  That, and more, in tomorrow's Burrow.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's a Dry Heat...

....but it is heat nonetheless.

Shannon, she of the miracle massage hands, has been torturing me with her photos of the California coastline this week. I awake to something like this
every morning.  I'm glad she's having a good time... I just wish I could be there with her.

I love my own pool in my own backyard, but there's nothing like running into the ocean and having a wave crash over your head to cool you off.  I'd much rather rub salt than chlorine out of my eyes.  The grittiness of the sand and the sharpness of the shells is more pleasant to my tootsies than the pool's pebbly surface. 

And then, there's the smell. Driving from Tiburon to Stinson Beach, I'd roll down the windows as we turned the curve past the Mountain Home Inn, and the parking lot for the trails down to Muir Woods and the fire roads which led you higher up and the Alice Eastwood Campground, scene of several memorable Columbus Day overnights when the Cuters were young.  All those thoughts crowded into my head as I steered around the edge of the USofA, but they were pushed aside by the smell of the ocean.

My nose knew it was coming before the road revealed it
up ahead and down below.

I had the same sensations as a youngster, sitting in the back seat on the way to the beach. 

It might have been my grandparents' beach, which announced itself in the snippets we could see through the train trestle uprights as we drove through Arverne to The Butcher's Co-op where they lived out their final years with a view of the waves. 

It might have been Long Beach, early in the Fall, with our kites at the ready and all the free parking we could imagine, coming over the bridge and inhaling the outboard motor fumes and the salty sea air. 

It might have been Point Lookout, or one of the beach clubs on the way to the public space at the far end, just a little further than Long Beach and with just a little bit richer smell.  Driving past gated and guarded mansions - were the owners really Mafioso? - and a Nike Missle site I was overwhelmed with anticipation.  Couldn't my parents smell it too?

They never drove fast enough on those trips.  Never.  Not once.

And now, I live too too far from the waves and the salt water and the sand.  I love my desert, but somehow, to me, summer requires the ocean.

I'm going to have to remember that for next year.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pre-Wedding Tune Up - Garden Edition

We are within 70 some days of marrying off our baby.  The plans have been made, deposits have been placed, attire has been purchased.  I am involved in on-going negotiations with the weather gods and goddesses.  TBG and I had the most fun ever tasting desserts, the post for which must wait until after the party so as not to reveal too much too soon.  Everything is in place and all I have to do is wait..... or so I thought until I looked at my containers.

This used to be a geranium.
I don't like their odor but this one had pretty flowers.... for a while. 
This held vinca and the remnant of a Get Well gift's foliage. 
The vinca surrounding the adenium (in its own pot, having its own watering needs) met a tragic end. 
These zinnias which look like daisies have certainly seen better days. 
 Beth Hargrove, of Rillito Nursery, laughed as she saw me coming through the doorway.
She'd posted on Facebook that locally grown hibiscus had been delivered this morning.
To me, it was a siren's call.
Seriously, denizens, who could resist this beauty?
She's called Windy Sun and that's just what we've got here in the desert southwest in the summer.
The monsoon rains blow in every once in a while, accompanied by dry gusty blasts of dust.
I know it's hot everywhere in the USofA these days, and I know that some of you don't have power (though how you are reading this in that event remains a mystery)
but day after day month after month of triple digits does tend to wear at the soul.
So, I bought that one and this one
which has all these wonderful babies just ready to explode
(see arrows below)
and I watered them with Maxsea
 which is specially designed to feed hibiscus and vinca
like these I planted together in the pot that once held my ill-fated magnolia tree, it of the 72-hours-then-keeling-over-in-a-mushy-heap life span once I got it home.
I made sure that the water seeped all the way through to the bottom
and then I was done.

Tomorrow morning I will tackle the pots in the back.
Right now, I can't see through the sweat dripping into my eyes.
Those pots will be in the shade in the morning.
Waiting sounds like a grand idea.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Girls' Night Out(s)

I had trouble punctuating the title. Is the plural in the middle, like attorneys general?  Or is it, like lemon meringue pie, three words acting as one?  I fudged and used parentheses in an attempt to get around the rules by being cute.

As TBG tells me quite often, it's a good thing that I am short.  Were I 5'11" with the same attitude I would rarely go a day without encountering someone who wanted to punch me in the face.  But, that persona in a small but sturdy body results in rueful head shakes or surprised laughter, much to his dismay.  I'm not obnoxious, I'm small.

But, I digress.

It doesn't matter, though, because that's what a good Girls' Night Out is all about - digressing.  Weekdays have a tendency to smoosh into one long blur of alarm clocks and bus schedules and elevators and errands.  Necessary but routine.  Glad to have the places to go and the life which needs tending but, for most of us, it's about the other more than about ourselves.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women .... volunteer at a higher rate than .. men across all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic characteristics. I love it when the facts bear out my preconceived notion.

Whether we make the lists and let others fill them or take on all the tasks ourselves or ignore them while worrying about them, being a homemaker means that you sleep in your in-box.  And don't think that working inside or outside the home for financial compensation, or living alone, or sharing an apartment doesn't mean that you aren't a homemaker, too.  Creating a home is what we do. 

Ronni Bennett, elder blogger extraordinaire, has lived alone in Greenwich Village and Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon.  She's aware of the irony, which is one of the many reasons I love her.  Through the personal pieces she occasionally posts, I've watched her create her own personal private spaces on both coasts.  When she opens it up to friends, it's as homey a place as one can imagine.

Yet there are posts which reveal a longing for New York, an emptiness I imagine for her because of something I've noticed - she has never mentioned the name of any of the women who live in either of the Portlands.  The named characters are, like Annie, New Yorkers. 

My guess is that if you offered Ronni a chance to spend two or three hours with her Village girlfriends she'd be all over the travel arrangements in no time.  Sometimes, only your girlfriends will do.

There are times, of course, when a group of women can be toxic, with friendships ending and feelings broken beyond repair.  But that's often something that you can see coming down the road.... and something that I try to avoid at all costs.  Life's too short to burden it with negativity.

I'm rambling here, because I keep checking the comments on Monday's Applebee's postTen years...since August 2010....nine years.... I can't remember..... is nobody spending some quality time with the girls? 

In Chicago, I played poker on the first Monday of every month with a group of similarly situated women.  It ended in disaster... but we saw it coming and were able to laugh about it after the fact ... but for several years I had an anchor in my life.  Men were allowed as long as they were naked and serving.  None of our husbands/boyfriends/roommates took us up on the offer.  We drank vodka and cranberry juice and carried our quarters in cigar boxes or Crown Royal bags and starting at 6 and ending with the last hand dealt no later than 10pm once every 30 days or so we were responsible for no one, for nothing.  Only the hostess prepared; the rest of us were guests.  It was heavenly.

It wasn't the cards or the alcohol or the foodstuffs which filled me - it was the company of women.  There was an ease to the conversation that was noticeable the one time a husband walked through, commenting on our nails.  "Certainly the prettiest card table I've ever seen," wasn't much of a statement, but it ripped through us like a hot knife through butter.  Outside of the poker game we rarely socialized with one another; inside the poker game we were one unit.  We felt the rent of his presence, not because we disliked him (that came later) but because we knew that he had intruded into something very special - Girls' Night Out.

I'm ready anytime you are..... just give me a call.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kids in the Wild

There's something about boys out in the wild.
They will find an adventure ten steps from the parking lot.
This the the top of the secret place.
Big Cuter wondered how I managed on Mt. Lemmon with Amster and her kids on Sunday.
I told him that I was able to creep through the secret place with no problems.
"The secret place?" he wondered.
"You know, there are always secret places," said I.
"Ahhhh, yes, I know," was his reply.
For a moment, I think, he was back on Mt. Tam with his little sister and his mother on an adventure - hunting buffalo and tracking them silently with our Nature Explorer backpacks and our sticks.
The buffalo were everywhere, just as Amsters' kids' imaginary terrors were stalking us this weekend.
Up and over and under we went - or they went and I observed and photographed.
"Will we be on the blog tomorrow? I like to know when I'm on the internet."
That was the permission statement from Mr. 7,  maturing more quickly than I'd like.
He's still the kindest boy on the planet, willing to hold and carry and help.  He's just more grown up about it all.

The sand across Canyon Rose Lake looked like snow.
The ripples from the fishing lines were mesmerizing.
There was room to dance on the path.
And there was time to contemplate the future on the rocks.
Amster loves those toe-shoes.
There were all manner of fishermen
 and women
and picnickers of every ethnicity .
The path was paved, the temperatures at 7,000' were in the 70's and my heart was happy.
I looked out at Elizibeth, far and yet close enough to stay connected, peering into the distance.
That's the thing about kids in nature - there is nothing but imagination between them and the world.
No homework.  No chores.  No plans to be made or kept.
It's just trees
and cattails
and love

Monday, July 9, 2012

Applebees? Yes, Applebees!

I was low on fuel and short on time. My neighborhood Applebee's fit the bill.

I spend much too much time emailing and not enough time looking at the women who fill my world. A quick text, an update on Facebook, an e-card for a birthday or a heartfelt but still one-step-removed-from-a-real-hug get well card...they are useful and convenient and keep the flames of a relationship on simmer. But for a real dose, to reinforce all the reasons I love them in the first place, I felt the need for Girls' Night Out.
Applebee's offered us a gift card if we'd have some fun and post about it here in The Burrow. The fact that they were also willing to pay me for writing this post was an extra added bonus. What a treat - right around the corner for Happy Hour at a place whose motto is "Life is Better Shared."

Yes, the menu was in the shape of an apple...Applebee's, remember?...and it was good for a giggle or two while Crayola Mom and I waited for Miss Margo and Chicago Gal to arrive.

Our table was bright and sunny, right by the window, and my feet actually reached the floor with my spine pressed against the back of the booth. I was in heaven and we hadn't even ordered yet.
Elke took our drink order with a smile.

Yes, we wanted margaritas.

No, we didn't want them with olives, a little on the dry side.

Yes, we wanted them fruity and cool and on the rocks with salt.

We were thrilled to know that they were half price. It really was Happy Hour!

The UofA Wildcats were in the process of winning the College World Series as we four hugged and drank and ate. Our booth, up by the windows and above the bar, was quiet enough for us to talk without screaming but close enough to the energy from the bar that we were able to follow the game on the distant televisions without feeling that it was intruding into our face-to-face time.

Of course, that face to face time was leavened by alcohol...

Classic Margarita with Miss Margo's fingers to the left...

Watermelon Margarita with Chicago Gal's fingers on the right...

No one wanted a face shot, which was probably a good thing...as were the straws. Those glasses were huge and filled to the brim; sipping delicately from the edge of the glass was impossible, though it was good for some more giggles.

Starting with the Happy Hour Menu seemed like a wise move; the regular menu was page after page of mouthwatering scrumptiousness, but it required more reading than we were up to after one round of drinks. But, right there on that apple-shaped menu were more tasty treats than we needed...though we ordered most of them, I must admit.
There was spinach and artichoke dip
and there were potato skins (with cheese and bacon bits).
Crayola Mom chose boneless not-so-spicy wings
which still managed to sizzle my tongue.
My favorites were the Crispy Chicken Won Ton Tacos.
Who says America isn't a melting pot?
We have here Asian/Mexican/American fusion.
Chicken stuffed into wonton shells fried into the shape of crispy tacos and topped off with cole slaw.
They could not be cut and retain any semblance of structural integrity.
There was no sharing; each one had to eat one.
Yumminess abounded as we ordered some more spinach dip and another round of drinks and some white queso dip which didn't photograph well but kept Crayola Mom happy as the rest of us pondered whether we should skip the protein and head straight for dessert. Chicago Gal suggested that, following with "I'm kidding...no, I'm not!"

It was that kind of an evening, denizens.
Feeling the need for something that resembled dinner, I opted for the Sizzling Double Whiskey Steaks with mashed potatoes on the side. Two 4oz sirloins on a steamy plate with so many veggies they were falling off onto the charger.... we split them into four equal pieces and transferred our portions onto the clean small plates which kept appearing, out of nowhere, at the edge of our table.
None of us needed a whole main course; this divvied up nicely and felt like food that Mom would approve. No matter how old you get, Mom's still a touchstone. She'd have been proud of us, eating our veggies and cleaning our plates...all of us except Crayola Mom, who took her portion home to her growing son.

She was still working on that White Queso dip.

And then it was time for dessert. Back to that apple shaped menu we went, my guests ordering with me smiling and encouraging. I knew there would be bites for me of whatever they chose. And so I had some whipped cream from the chocolate mousse
and the chocolate sundae shooters.
The chocolate sundae shooter had crushed Oreos in the bottom, which I would have photographed but Miss Margo finished them before I could reach the camera.
Chicago Gal and I enjoyed the blondie and the ice cream.
When it was time for the bill, the girls reached for their wallets.
We had $150 to spend, and they were certain we were over our limit.
Not to worry ladies.
Not only is Applebee's a comfortable place to catch up with the girls, it's a bargain, too.
Visiting on-line has its purposes, but I could get used to this Girls' Night Out thing pretty easily. Applebee's can be found hanging out on-line, too, so find them on YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr!
And Applebee's is a welcoming venue, a comfortable spot for hanging out with the gang.
I have a feeling we'll be back in our booth before very long.
This could become a habit.
As with all good promotions, this one comes with a sweepstakes. "When's the last time you had a girl's night out?" is what we want to know. Type your answer in the comments below and you'll be entered for a chance to win a $150 Applebee's gift card. There are other ways to enter, too. They are listed in RULES below. Good Luck!!
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/9/12 – 8/3/12.
Be sure to visit the Applebee's Life Is Better Shared page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!