Friday, February 27, 2015

And Now There Is This.....

Thanks for a lovely visit, FlapJilly.
Grandpa and I will miss you more than you can imagine.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

And Then There Was The Playground

FlapJilly went to the playground today.
It was her first experience with outdoor equipment.
By the time she was able to sit up on her own, the snows had descended on her home turf.
Grandma was happy to show her the ropes.
That's an accessible swing for movement impaired children, but it fit FJ and G'mu just fine.
SIR and Little Cuter were excited to put her in the bucket swing,
but she kept sliding down.
Her little hand had the bar in a death grip.
With the addition of Mommy's purse as a backstop, the entire adventure took on a much happier cast.
Daddy held her back
and she sailed to Mommy 
 and if she could have formed the words she'd have been yelling "HIGHER!!!!"
The slides were less successful.
SIR barely fit on the smallest one, and FlapJilly wasn't that thrilled with the tube,
but standing in Daddy's arms is pretty wonderful no matter where you are.
We paid a visit to Christina-Taylor's angel
which lives on the grassy slope overlooking the tot-lot
and I spent a moment or two counting my blessings and thinking of my angels.
I hugged the ones nearby and sent loving vibes heavenward and then I stowed the sadness and we went to lunch.
Life is good. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

And Then We Did This

Grandma gave FlapJilly a baby carrot....
excuse me....
an organic baby carrot...
and the reaction was mixed.
My finger seemed just as tasty.
More tomorrow; we're going to the playground!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And Then There Was THIS

Dkzody gave me permission in yesterday's comments to let the world stop.
So, instead of typing to you we did this:
I will try to type for you tomorrow... but I make no promises.
This is so much fun. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

With Best Intentions....

I planned to write. That was my intention. 
Then this happened
 And this happened.
There was this
 and this
and this.
I am happy in GrandmaLand.
Blogging might just have to wait.

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Want My Rotary Phone Back

I wrote you all a lovely post.  It had pictures and laughter and love.  FlapJilly is bringing her family to visit us tomorrow and I was awash in the wonder of it all.

And then, the laptop ate it.

I clicked Save because I wanted a better picture of the high chair and the fire engine and the swim clothes I bought her.  I took those photos on my phone, cropped them on my phone, and tried to upload them from my phone.

Blogger was having none of it.  The new photos were no where to be found, then or now.  I know they are on the phone; I can see them.  But the synchronization feature is apparently too much bother for Lenore the Loser Laptop. 

I could send them to Evernote or email them to myself or upload them to Blogger and write the verbiage around them, but I'm too peeved for any of those options to work right now.  I have no more love in my heart; I'm just pissed at the loss of that lovely post.

So, I want my rotary phone back.  I never misdialed; it wasn't that hard to put your finger in the hole and pull the dial around to the metal arc.  I remember trying to beat the touch tone phone with the rotary phone at the World's Fair in 1964; not even Maddy, the most popular and therefore obviously the most phone savvy of us all, even she couldn't go faster.

On the other hand, the kids using the touch tone phone made a lot more mistakes than she did.

I want paper files.  I don't want to have to open folder after folder and enter a passcode to get the list of passwords I need to open the programs I'd like to use.  I tried printing out the list, but I believe them when they say not to reuse your password so the list was six or seven double sided pages long.... and then something would get hacked and I'd need to change the code or I"d find another site requiring a passcode and after a very short time the paper was unreadable. 

I don't want to type things into a screen.  I want to hand write my bills and use my T-80 to balance my checkbook and I want to run out of stamps and return address labels.

No, I don't.

But I feel much better now, after that rant.

Thanks for listening, denizens.  I'll post pictures (if technology allows) and write about love next week.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Birthday, G'ma

I always liked the fact that our birthdays were a week apart.  You and I were the only ones who truly appreciated the month of February.  Everyone else was looking forward to Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday but you and I knew that the more important dates were our birthdays.

We were right, of course.

You did not look forward to turning 50.  Your standard line had always been, "Just take me out back and shoot me."  When Daddooooo procured a cake with that picture decorating the top, you were not amused.  He never tried to be an ass... and yet, he was.

Still, you smiled and ate it and thanked him. 

Valentines Day was yet another reason for gifts in February, and his heart shaped pizza the following year made up for the 50 faux pas.  You were good about concentrating on the better side of his weirdness... and he never did forget a birthday.

When I turned 40 you forgot to call... or send a card... or remember that it was my natal day at all.  When we spoke later that week, you were abashed.  It seems that you were incapable of registering the fact that you had a child who was four decades old.  You'd just denied my existence.

I laughed with you at that.  As Little Cuter looks her up-coming 30th birthday squarely in the face, I feel your pain.  I'm not laughing so hard any more. 

You aged gracefully and peacefully, shedding your sharper edges along the way.  Though Brother and Sister think I had the hardest duty, caring for you at the end of your life, they are wrong.  You were no longer judgmental... except about strangers at parties.  You were willing to do whatever I suggested, and thought my adventures were delightful even though you couldn't remember them.

You loved me, and told me so.  That was the best and most profound change, the one I cherished most.  You trusted me and never argued... if I thought it was right, then you agreed.  I knew that was a blessing at the time, and I told you so.  Your response was quintessentially you: Why not? Who wants to be around a cranky old lady?

I would love to take you to lunch tomorrow, sharing sea food and watching you devour a chocolate dessert.  Instead, I'll dig in the garden and talk to you.  I'll tell you about FlapJilly and the consonants pouring from her face and I'll wish, for a while and forever, that you were here to share the joy.  It's like you said when Bubba, your mother, died: Now, there's no one else on the planet who wants to hear me kvell* about my grandchildren as much as I want to kvell about my grandchildren.

I won't languish in sorrow, though, because we were happy whenever we were together, and I don't want to lose that feeling.  I'll remember your 90th birthday party and your bemusement...what am I doing?  It must be a party. It's for me? I'm HOW old? ... and I'll wish we were celebrating your 92nd one today..... together.

Happy Birthday Mommy..... I love you lots.

*kvell- express joy, brag

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Random Thoughts

Robert B. Parker is dead, but Spencer and Jesse Stone live on.  Ace Atkins has kept the short sentences and chapters, though he's added a bit more description, in his role as Spencer's caretaker. Jesse Stone is now encased in more verbiage than Robert Parker wrote if you took all his books together.  Reed Farrel Coleman twirls the language on the page; he's a poet from the dark side, for sure.  If only he'd use a proper name now and then to remind the reader which character is speaking.
My Humanities Seminar requires no reading; there are articles which augment the lectures, and which are to be read after class.  It's odd to attend a class without preparation, but the absence of required reading has left me with plenty of time to indulge in novels and biographies and history.

This move to non-fiction is a surprising turn of events. Is it possible that my brain is expanding its capacity as I age?
Alex Rodriguez apologized for his bad behavior while acknowledging that many will not believe his sincerity.  He sent a hand written letter to the Yankee organization, refusing the team's offer to let him use Yankee Stadium for his mea culpa combined with a press conference.  He's managing the story, without allowing for questions.

He wants his return to be all about baseball, not about his suspension or the PED use which led there.

I'm not sure he's in charge of that particular agenda.
TBG finally received his Medicare card.  His gap coverage is in place, but his prescription drug coverage won't be official until March.  It seems that one must have the actual card in hand before the application can be processed.

It's a damn good thing he didn't need any medications this month. Slow acting bureaucracies make for good posts, but they also interfere with real life.
Kevin Spacey has been showing up in credit card ads this month, in advance of the return of House of Cards next week.

Am I the only one who sees a connection between the two events?

Am I watching waaaaay too much tv?
Did you ever look up at the tv  (I guess the answer to that last question is YES) and see a friend's face only to have that face transform into a famous person?  I just saw Mr. Dreamy Cakes in the person of John Calipari..... for a moment, I was stunned.
We have a new, commissioned artwork from Seret on the wall over the fireplace in the living room.  It's paint and pumice and textured and fabulous.  It's from her cairns series, based on the small, stone, directional, commemorative, balanced piles one sees along trails here in the southwest.

We see it as we come around the corner form the bedroom, as we come in from the garage, as we cook in the kitchen.  The joys of an open floor plan home are magnified when there's something wonderful to see; the house seems to have revolved to put this piece at its center.

"Sometimes, I Just Hate the World"

We were in Barnes and Noble, Mr. 9 and I.  We hadn't had an adventure together for quite a while; the bookstore was his destination of choice.  He knows it makes me happy, and that fit right in with his plan to purchase a new Wimpy Kid book (for his big brother) and his own copy of the book he's reading in his school's Book Club.  There are enough of them, if everyone shares and reads just what is required for the next meeting.  I couldn't deny him the chance to hold a personal copy.

He chattered about basketball.  The Wildcats played the night before, and we parsed their performance and their footwear.  His mom signed him up for a team at the JCC; she'd pick him up at his dad's on Sunday afternoon for the next round of tryouts.  "I think he just wants Mom to drive me," is all he knows about his father's puerile temper tantrum about Mom signing the kid up for an activity on  Dad's custody week. 

At a certain point, it can be hoped that the father will realize that it's not his week, it's Mr. 9's life.  That point is still somewhere in the fantastical future.  For now, Amster will drive 35 minutes to pick him up and 35 minutes to bring him home because she understands the value of consistent attendance. Mr. 9 has been shielded, at least on the maternal side, from any of the controversy.  All he knows is that he's playing ball.  It makes him very happy.

He held the door for me, like a well-mannered child should, and then we examined the Booksellers' Choices and the Just In shelves.  The Wimpy Kid was right there on the top; he clutched it to his chest as we rode the escalator up to the kids' section.

It was the two of us and a bookseller, all alone on the second floor.  She's seen us before, and, I imagine, she knows what to expect.  Mr. 9 has many questions. He asks for help in locating an author, wonders if other titles are available, and then he finds a compilation of the 10 Best Everythings in basketball.

We spent a long time going through the book.  We stumbled over the foreign names.  I gave him the brief history of Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul Jabaar, leaving out his sexual exploits.  He recognized Dr. J, but most of the other, older players were new to him.  I thanked my lucky stars for a sister who loved the 1960-70's Knicks, and for a husband and a son and a daughter who keep me updated on what I need to know to converse with a well-versed 4th grader.  We argued over the book's anointing LeBron James as The Best Basketball Player Ever - I held out for Michael Jordan.  The debate ended in a tie, we think.

I was captivated by the board books for Valentines Day, and claimed Big Kisses for FlapJilly.  Mr. 9 was curious about it ("It's for the baby, right?") as I reassured him that I was not choosing a bright blue cardboard book with an elephant on the cover for either him or his brother or Elizibeth. 

Did he want me to read it to him?  YES!

And so, we sat in a nook and he snuggled closer and closer as more and more kisses rained down on the heads of the characters.  At the end, we agreed that there had been a lot of kisses, that FlapJilly would love it, and that, YES, he would like a kiss right then, too.

The bookseller smiled from behind the shelving cart. 

He took me to the biography section, and we discussed those people he recognized and those he didn't. The United States presidents as kids... Rosa Parks.... and then a soccer goalie whose outstretched arm looked larger than life. 

Mr. 9 picked up Tim Howard's biography and read the blurb on the back.

He stumbled over Tourette's Syndrome - the pronunciation and the definition. 
"Imagine being in 4th grade math and all of a sudden your body starts twitching and your mouth starts yelling curses at the top of your lungs and you can't do anything to stop it.  You just have to wait until the episode ends."

"You can't stop it?" was all he said as he flipped through the book and returned it to the shelf.  We went on to look at some more chapter books and then, he announced, it was time to go.  We strolled to the escalator, he got on first, and halfway down he turned and said
Sometimes, I just hate the world.
Was it his parents' divorce?  Was it ISIS?  Was it that his brother is taller than he?  "Why, sweetheart?"  I asked.
Why would the world make you curse and twitch and not be able to stop it?  Why would that happen?  I sometimes just hate the world.
If that's not the most precious thing you've heard all day, please leave your entry in the comments below.  My heart leapt out of my chest and enfolded him in a huge hug once we landed on the first floor.  "I know, sweetheart, I know.  You are the kindest kid I know. When I'm faced with something like that, I feel overwhelmed.  So, I try to make my corner of the world just a little bit nicer, and hope that the love spreads out."

He nodded.  He agreed that kindness helps most everything, and that his Ben's Bells necklace identified him as someone who cared.  And then, we went on to something else.

But, I've been thinking about it for the last few days.  Kayla Meuller, unvaccinated school kids, Boko Harun... sometimes I guess I just hate the world, too.  If it overwhelms me, how must it feel to a 9 year old?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentines Day at Amphi Middle School

We proved that one is never too old for arts and crafts.
 There were stickers  
and scissors
and fancy papers
and even more stickers.
There were grown-ups like JannyLou offering assistance, in front
and behind the tables.
The boys and girls were capable of choosing their own materials,
but cutting out a heart
sometimes required an adult. 
The paper's blank back side left lots of room for love notes.

 Many of the valentines were collaborative efforts,
 with backpacks crashing into one another
as room at the table was at a premium.
 Peeling the backs off the puffy foam stickers required concentration.
So many middle schoolers wanted to participate that we had to put out another set of double tables. 

Of course, some artists made themselves comfortable, oblivious to the chaos.
And, as always, in the end it was all about the love.

We started out with 144 sheets of paper.
We were left with none.
By any measure, it was a very successful afternoon.

Friday, February 13, 2015

TBG told me that it is possible for hackers to penetrate any computerized system in any automobile.  Although it hasn't been reported as the cause of an accident... so far... it is conceivable that someone could hijack your brakes and apply them, full force, while you are tooling down I-95 at 85 miles an hour. 

I could die if that happened was my immediate thought.  And then I went back to watching Zorro. 

A beat or two later the whole thing hit me.  I thought of dying with absolutely no affect.  It was a fact without emotion attached.  I considered it and moved on. 

I type that without judgment, because not judging is the single most important lesson I've learned since being perforated.  I believe that as the amplitude of a situation increases so do the individuality of responses.  At the risk of sounding like R. D. Laing, my experience of you during a period of intensity is not your experience of you nor is it your experience of me or my experience of me.

Going back to a place of horror is, for me, going alone.  Those moments on the sidewalk outside the Safeway are as vivid to me today as they were when they were happening.  The brightness never dims.  The connection is as deep now as it was then.  I can close my eyes and, even as my fingers type these words, I am holding her hand....

That piece is and, I imagine, always will be sad.

The fact that I almost died is another matter entirely.  I believed Nurse Nancy when she told me that I was not going to die; she claims to have said it as more of a hope than a reality but I took it at face value. 

I believed Christina-Taylor's shade in the medevac when she told me the same thing. "You'll be fine," was actually said by the nurse in the seat behind my head.  I didn't know he was there; I saw CTG's face and believed her words. 

Through it all, I was more worried about falling off the slant board as the EMT's carried me from the parking lot to Ina Road where my helicopter awaited.  I was happy to be reassured, because I certainly did not want to die.  It was easy for me to believe what I wanted to hear.

For 14 weeks on the couch, Platonically examining my life and the lint in my navel, I poked around the edges of death.  After three months of thought, I wasn't much deeper in understanding why it is, but I was convinced of what it is.

I'm really not afraid to die.

Don't misunderstand me - I really do want to continue to live. I want to work on developing a fluid gait. I want to watch FlapJilly and her future siblings and cousins grow into amazing young people.  I want to see if anti-vaxxers are vilified and if Republicans can govern.  I don't relish disease or infirmity, but death is no longer looming as the most awful thing ever.

In that context, I really don't care.  Oh, someone can hack into my car and turn the cruise control to 90 while I'm driving on city streets.  I could die.  Oh.

I'm not sure if I'm happy about this situation.  If I approach it from a mindfulness perspective, as Yogi Marsha recommends, then I must not judge.  If I think it stems from being close and then saved, then, as TBG reminds me, the situation is too big for judgment. 

It is what it is.  It's just very odd.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Abe

Throwback Thursday...
This was first published in 2011.  It's one of my favorite rants.
Mary Ball Washington gave birth to a boy child on February 22, 1732. Unlike many of the stories surrounding this man (think cherry trees and coins across the Potomac and standing up in an open boat as it crossed the Delaware) this is an indisputable fact.

Mary was not in labor on the third Monday of February.  She produced her child on a specific day - the 22nd day of February.  His birthday didn't move around with the vagaries of the federal holiday calendar.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln met her second son, Abraham, 207 years ago today.  Like Mrs. Washington before her, she was not in labor on an indeterminate day sometime in the middle of the month.  It occurred on a certain day, a day formerly commemorated by school children and mail carriers alike.

Alas and alack, these fine gentlemen have been conflated into Presidents and their birthdays combined into a generic celebration designed primarily to afford employees the opportunity for a 3-day weekend in the middle of the winter. What was wrong with the old system, I wonder?  As an elementary school kid I looked forward to those random days off in the middle of the month.  One day, breaking up the routine.  One celebration for each president - pennies examined on the 12th, leadership and lying (not) on the 22nd.

There was no time for a weekend away (not that G'ma and Daddooooo could have afforded to take us anyplace anyhow) and there was no competition between students for who went the furthest and had the most fun.  It was an opportunity to go sledding at Bethpage (the Black Course was used for many things in my youth; this was the best of them) or to meet friends at the bowling alley and then walk to Smiles (our precursor to a 5-and-dime) where we cruised the aisles until our parents picked us up. 

It was grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon on the side, eaten on paper plates and accompanied by the admonition Don't Tell Daddy since the bacon was not exactly kosher and he cared a lot more than did G'ma.  There were snow forts to be built, snowball fights to be fought, snow men to be built. The entire neighborhood roamed from front yard to front yard, creating and tumbling and finding warmth and drinks and the occasional bathroom in whichever house we happened to be in front of when the need arose.

And now?  Now President's Day is always an event.  It's a long weekend for which plans must be made.  It has no intrinsic meaning, no relationship to George or Abe or any of their colleagues.  Their faces are used to advertise white sales and car sales and furniture sales and The History Channel runs back to back episodes of The Presidents but that's about the size of the historical component.  What began as tributes to great men has devolved into spending opportunities for the masses.

Am I bitter?  You bet.  A day off followed by another one 10 days later.... what better way to combat the winter doldrums than that?  A random day, a day to cuddle under the blankets with your sweetie or to do all that laundry that interfered with your weekend plans and so still sits in the basket, mocking you.  A day to explore the neighborhood and have lunch in that place you've driven by 100 times before..... a day just to be.

Sometimes, when I was a girl really was better.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


THAT is the only photo I took the day I injured my thumb with stickers, and it was taken the next morning, after a visit to Walgreens.  Perhaps if I'd stopped to take a picture or two, my thumb would have survived in better shape. 

Since I was a slacker on Friday, on Monday I went back to Prince and asked the kids if they'd pose for my blog.  I asked them to decorate one another; once burned, twice shy was my motto. 

The joy is the same.... it's just a different day.
Enjoy the smiles!

Some were restrained, choosing carefully.
 Others couldn't get enough of a good thing.
 Three across the nose... a butterfly in the middle.... the friends took great care to create masterpieces.
 MORE! MORE! MORE! he cried.
 There was some initial skepticism....
 but the gang was as enthusiastic as elementary school kids can be when they are doing something wacky, with a grown-up's permission.
 Pals... silly together.
The girls were hard at work, decorating a friend:
 He was a willing subject... even when they started in on his hair.
They were especially proud of the moustache.
It never fails.
No matter how tired or grumpy I might be, after a few minutes on the Prince Playground, I am filled with smiles and joy.  Who knew that stickers were the ticket to a good time?