Friday, October 30, 2015

Can You Believe the Cute?

Yoda and a strawberry joined our bumble bee at the library for story time yesterday.
It was the grandest collection of adorable I've seen in a long time.

FlapJilly was in heaven - all those books ready to be pulled off the shelves.
Grandpa was on the floor, but he wasn't chasing after her.
The antennae were annoying.
The librarian was a saguaro.... how did she know that we were coming?
There was singing and reading and dancing and controlled chaos and I'm still smiling.

We'll be home this weekend, and I'll be able to think about Republicans yelling at ridiculous questions, about Cubbies losing four in a row, about watching West Wing from the pilot episode.

For now, though, I'm going downstairs to hug the baby.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Too Much Fun

Oops.... We were having too much fun for Grandma to take time to post. Perhaps tomorrow will be different......

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


In between the snuggles
there was decorating.

Babies can't use power tools
but Daddies can.
I'd never seen anyone use a power tool to open a pumpkin, 
but then again I'd never seen anyone use such perfect carving tools

He did a great job, but FlapJilly had just as much fun with her Crayola water based paints. 
I mention that they are water based so that you don't think she is permanently purple.
Once she figured out that the colors were for the pumpkin instead of for spreading on the plate, 
she took great delight in placing a delicate finger tip or two on her pint size pumpkin.
Little Cuter was a helpful assistant, covering the baby's palm with purple paint and placing it on one side.  It was less than successful, and the kid was less than thrilled, but Grandma had a great time laughing at them all.  I was careful to keep the clapping to a minimum, though.  FlapJilly is a great imitator and I didn't want the paint to go flying .

We got her dressed, again, and ate dinner and ran around the first floor and then it was time for bed.
But first, there had to be more hugging.
Life is pretty good right now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Music Time and A Couple of Parks

It's tough, being a grandparent.

You have to go to the park
and climb on the slide
and slide down the slide.
There was lots of wandering around
and crawling under 
while wondering where her minions might be hiding. 
There was looking for Grandpa through the bars,
and following the parade behind her.
You have to watch her devour a grilled cheese sandwich while flirting with the worker bees, 
and then go to music class where she becomes the queen bee.
And then, after singing and dancing and making music with every kind of percussion instrument ever invented,
you must go to another park, where tan bark makes the littlest human in the party extremely happy.

There were dinosaurs to sit upon
and cars to drive
before it was time to go home.

As I warned you yesterday, there's not a lot of pithy thought this week.
There's just lots and lots of love.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin Farm

We traveled (it was delayed, it was crowded, there's a lot of stupid in the world) and arrived after the baby was asleep.  We ate and drank and hugged SIR and Little Cuter and went to sleep so that the morning would come quickly.  I needed a baby hug, and tomorrow could not come soon enough.  
The day dawned, breakfast was eaten, a nap was taken, and then it was time for The Event of The Day: Kuipers' Pumpkin Farm.

Pumpkin farms in October are a chancy business - they can be over-crowded and run down.  Often the animals look desperate for a rescue.  

None of that was a problem for us this afternoon.  There were three parking lots filled with cars, and there was nary a crowd in sight.  There were families of all ethnicities, and children of all ages, including FlapJilly, arguably the most adorable human there.

She was too little to ride the ponies, but that didn't stop her from enjoying them.  

There was a palomino named Trigger, which made TBG smile.  

The whole thing was a source of giggles and chortles and squeals of delight for the littlest member of our troop.

FlapJilly was in charge, and we followed the pointing finger
to the Gourd Arbor. 
It was probably prettier when the gourds were still hanging, but FlapJillly didn't seem to mind.

There were piglet races and hay mazes and sand boxes filled with kernels of corn, 
but the most fun were the animals.
Here she is kissing the goat.
The goat was unimpressed, but FlapJilly was undaunted.
Her face was pressed against the fence, her arm was through the opening, and her squeals were delightful.

The sheep came out to meet her,
which made pulling its ear all the easier. 
These animals are obviously used to little kids.
The sheep stood there, patiently letting her explore.
It was a glorious afternoon,
with fall colors and warm temperatures
and the cutest little girl in the whole wide world.

I can't promise that this week's posts will be any more pithy.
There will be lots of photos, though.
I can't think about much beyond FlapJilly.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Snippet From 9+ Hours of Testimony

From TBG's lips:
And isn't it interesting that, once again, a woman has to be smarter than everyone else.....
and she is.
I'm not a big fan of Mrs. Clinton.  I think she plays fast and loose with the truth (see Tysons' Foods profits in the 1980's).  I'm not talking Vince Foster rumors, but how did those Travelgate papers get on a family only table in the White House?  I think she has an interesting relationship with what the rest of us would deem appropriate.

I don't fault her for personality traits; I cannot imagine that it is possible to rise to her level of influence without being ruthless (Joe Biden, it seems, to the contrary) and I think ruthless in women is characterized through a different lens.  I don't think there's an unbiased view out there and I don't have a personal one...

Except when she was at a rally in Tucson, with Chelsea, and I watched them together and it felt right.
And then a woman fainted in the front row and Mrs. Clinton was down on her knees on the stage, in her blue pantsuit (because we always report on what women are wearing, even when could-and-don't point out the men wearing Hermes ties), refusing to go on, despite her handlers' pleas, until the EMT's arrived.

She's a mom, and it showed.  One thing on which we all can agree is that Chelsea is a fairly normal human being.  Her parents can take some credit for that, I think.

I worry about myself, though.  I'm watching her impress the hell out of us, with her well-spoken, detailed, self-serving-but-why-not answers and I'm beginning to think she looks damn Presidential.
I'm beginning to believe that a sterling character may not be a necessary characteristic for a President.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Distinctive Voice

My family tells me that they can identify me in a crowd of thousands.  Your voice carries, Mom, is the nicest way they let me know that they heard my conversation with the cashier half way across the store.  That comment is often accompanied by rolling eyes and shrugging shoulders.  After all, what can you do about a mother who is loud?

In the late 1970's, TBG and Orb Kcrob and Belly and I went to Grant Park for the 4th of July concert and fireworks.  We were meeting other friends, friends who were always late.  Our big pink sheet was on the ground, our balloons floating above it.  Unfortunately for us, every other large group had the same idea; the ground was littered with colorful, easy to identify, blankets and the air was swimming with balloons.  There was no way our friends would ever find us.

(No, Millenials, we couldn't use our cell phones or send a GPS link to a device.  Those things had not yet been invented.)

After finishing the first bottle of wine, we began to search the crowd in earnest.  It was fruitless.  I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I'd go up to the guy at the microphone on stage and ask him to make an announcement asking our friends to meet me at the stage.  As I left the blanket, TBG wondered, idly, if I'd remember where they were so that I could return safely.

Blithely, I assured him that I was fine, and off I went. Once at the stage, I realized that I was not the only one with lost companions, that others had tried to have similar announcements made, and that unless we were looking for lost children, we were out of luck.  Our friends would have to find us on their own.

Sadly, I turned back to the crowd and came to the startling realization that I had no idea where I'd left my husband.  Somewhere dead center, I discovered, was no real help when the crowd numbered close to one million.

I began to walk.  It was hot.  I was lost.  I was lonely.  I was frustrated.

By the time I'd tripped over the same people for the third time I had had enough.  Warning those nearby to cover their ears, I cupped my hands around my mouth and yelled for TBG, aiming my shout in the general direction of where I thought I'd left my blanket.

Over the heads of thousands, my sweetie, standing and looking for me by this time, heard my dulcet screech and pointed his outstretched arm in my direction. I was in an entirely incorrect section of the park, having lost my way entirely, but my distinctive voice saved the day.

No one else could have found us by her voice alone was the consensus once I returned to the warm embrace of my friends.  I smiled, somewhat sheepishly, and opened the second bottle of wine.

This all came back to me today while I was shopping in Clique, my favorite store in Tucson.  I recognized your voice said a friend-of-a-friend we'd met years ago.  We exchanged phone numbers and made plans for December and I left with a new blouse, a renewed connection, and another check mark in the box of You have a distinctive voice, Mom.

Sometimes, that's a good thing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Allowing Myself to Care

I have resisted for years.  Others became excited, and I was able to maintain my equanimity.  I'd been burned too many times before.

I threw myself into it while sitting in the bleachers, a $2.50 extravagance which the sun and the peanuts and the beers made worthwhile.  The game was played, and we watched and cheered and threw back home run balls hit into the stands by opposing players.

We wore Cubbies shirts and Cubbies caps and wrapped ourselves in plastic bags from the food vendors when the wind whipped up.  I had a wide array of gear, something for every season.  I bought Brother a Cubs jacket for his 30th birthday, which he exchanged for a Nationals jacket on his 60th birthday.  It was hard for me to buy something other than Cubbies blue, but he was cheering for his (new) hometown team and who was I to complain.

We'd listen to the cheers from our backyard, leaving the gardening and running inside to watch the televised replay.  We were six blocks from Wrigley Field.  We could walk to the games.

Ticket prices went up.  Friends moved away.  The Golden Gopher and his bride held their wedding party on a rooftop; we watched the game in the gloom as we celebrated their union.  Lights were installed, the neighborhood had parking stickers for residents only, and the stadium started to peel away from the rafters.  It was upgraded and refurbished and Jumbotrons were installed.

It was starting to feel like a regular ballpark, instead of the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

The only thing that never changed was the outcome at the end of the season.  The Cubs continued the longest drought in professional sports.

Then, 2015 arrived.  Back to the Future II announced a Cubbies victory in 2015.  A new manager arrived, one who couldn't be bothered talking about the curse.  Young players were groomed and brought up to the major leagues, players who had no idea of the long standing tradition of Oh, My.... they've lost again.

They had the best time at the end of the regular season, playing against the number one and number two teams in the league for the chance to get into the World Series.  They beat them both.

And then, they met the Mets.  The Mets, who defeated them in 1969.  The Mets, who have a deep bench and fantastic pitching. The Mets, who outplayed them and made it almost impossible to watch without wincing.

I went online to play Words With Friends, and found SIR and Little Cuter there, too.  Instead of apologizing for playing faux-

Scrabble while the Cubs were on tv, I commiserated with them.  The two most rabid fans I know were similarly distressed.

And now, with two minutes to go before the starting pitch, I am in a quandary.  Do I put on my tee shirt and yell GO CUBS?  Do I resign myself to the sinking feeling in my gut?  Do I continue to care?

I can't believe I've gone this far......
And now it's bottom of the ninth, the Cubs are down by three runs, and the Mets' closer is basically un-hittable.

On the other hand, with Rizzo and Castro and Soler coming to the plate ....young men whose existence was unknown to me a month ago... I am hopeful....

(Ground out to second)

.... and even though it's been an awful few hours, especially since the cameras are focusing on the forlorn fans in the stands....

(Another infield ground out)

and Big Cuter keeps calling to remind us that There's always next century.... and the rain is turning the batter's bx to mush as the count goes to 2-1.... and no one has gone home.  It's pouring rain and no one is cowering under the overhangs.  No one is paying any attention to anything but the final out... 3 balls and 2 strikes in the bottom of the 9th and we're down by 3 runs and the fans are cheering.

(He stood there.  Called third strike.... third out.... down 3-0 in the series....)

And yes, somehow, I still care.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Chair Fell

There were six of us, women of a certain age, playing mah jongg this morning.  We were at two tables, playing 3-and-a-dummy.  The upstairs lobby in our friend's senior living complex is bright and airy and, if I sit with my back to the hallway, I can see both the main entrance and the doorway to the balcony.

It feels very safe.

I traded my usual seat without much thought; my friend was warm, and I could feel a breeze she was lacking.  I decided not to mind that I couldn't see the doorways; she promised to keep an eye out if there was a tumult below.

I was fine... I was winning.... once then twice then oh, dear this is embarrassing, three times in a row. I managed to fill a 2015 + winds hand; if you know the game you know that doesn't happen very often.  I had lots of jokers and it was easy to decide which hand to play and I was cruising along, smiling and accepting kudos and then I jumped about five feet in the air.

A woman seated behind me stood up.  Her heavy purse was more than the armchair's backrest could handle and over it went.  It's a heavy chair.  It made a very loud noise.

The other two women at my table were surprised, too, but neither of them levitated.  Neither of them was hyperventilating.  They weren't leaning back in their chairs, hands on their bellies, feeling the breath going in... deeply... holding and slowly releasing.  They were a little bit concerned about me, though, since I was doing all of that while trying mightily to smile.

I was fine.  I would be better soon.  Was she okay, the one whose chair set this off?  The fact that she didn't go over with the chair is the saving grace of the situation; the rest of it was awful.

I was back on the cold sidewalk, looking into Christina-Taylor's eyes.  My heart was pounding and my chest could barely contain it and then there was an absence of feeling and thought and everything but memory.  It's sharp edged and tinged with grief and it's usually locked up tight in the box in my head which I reserve for such things.

It only takes a chair falling in a lobby to release the Kraken.

PTSD... the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Write It Down

When did it start to become a problem?  I never had trouble remembering lunch dates or dry cleaning or birthdays.  They were part of what I did each day, keeping track was a chore as much as the actual events were.

Then, I gave up my paper calendar for my smart phone.  I used to like choosing the paper, the way the weeks were laid out, the pictures I'd be spending my year eyeing.  There was space for random notes, smiley faces and frowns, fat markers denoting important events.  I can open the shoebox marked with the relevant year and tell you exactly what I was doing on this date.

I used to look back on them when I reorganized my treasures, those treasures my heirs will have to deal with once I am gone.  Now, I have to hope that the app recording my monthly activities will not vanish into the ether as technology changes.  There are no personal notes attached to Little Cuter's wedding or FlapJilly's birth day.... emoticons or emojii's don't carry that individual touch.

The physical act of writing the appointment seems to have made a difference in my ability to keep the facts in place.  I could close my eyes and try to imagine what the words looked like on the page.  It's not the same, trying to remember pixels.

I write this because Scarlet has been gone for three weeks and spent last week recovering and I miss her and I want to see her and I think we made plans but I can't remember and flipping through my calendar is more of a chore than emailing her and wondering if we did, in fact, have a date.

Perhaps it is old age, creeping in around the corners?  Perhaps I've decided that I have better things to occupy my brain than compiling statistics which can be easily retrieved, any time, day or night, with the tap of a fingertip?  Perhaps I was never that good at it, and my memory is tricking me, once again?  Pam Peterson, a friend of Seret and Mr. Dreamy Cakes, sums it up pretty nicely right here:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Good Friends - A Snippet

It stopped drizzling.  The air was warm and scented and the sky was orange and navy and Amster was on one chair, Seret was on another, and JannyLou shared the end of my lounge.

The steaks were cooling next to the bbq, the prosecco was bubbling in our glasses, the guys were watching the Mets defeat the Dodgers.

I was surrounded by the women who know me the best, the women who would, and did, drop everything to rush to my bedside.

But, this evening there was no bathos, no sorrow.  There were giggles and stories and hugs.... so many many hugs.

Life is good.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

(Belated) Happy Birthday, Daddooooo

Once again, I forgot whether his birthday was the 12th or the 14th of October.  Used to be that I could remember because it was NOT Columbus Day.  Now that Columbus Day is on a Monday instead of a specific October date, that becomes more confusing.  And, every time I wondered about it, I was struck by the fact that I ought to be calling it Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Life is so confusing these days.

Once I determined that today is the day, I began to spend time with my dad.  True, he's been dead since the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and that Saturday occurred twelve years ago, but he was a big presence in life and, it seems, that continues in the after life, too.

He was watching me schlep pots from the front to the side of the columns in the backyard.  It was a mindless, heavy, sweaty chore, a chore he'd have delighted in doing for me.  It didn't matter to him that I spent hours in the gym every day; when this kind of thing needed doing, he was the go-to guy. I laughed at myself as I grunted and dripped and wiped perspiration on my shirtsleeve; I had the same motions he did.

Funny how those things live on in the memory banks.

I watched a video of FlapJilly giggling as SIR blew raspberries on her neck, and I knew that Daddooooo was behind those air explosions.  He was a lot rougher than his grand-son-in-law, but the reaction of the girls on the receiving end didn't vary much from Little Cuter to her own daughter.

Activities just this side of rude were his forte.  Kids knew it, and loved it.  He was a co-conspirator of the highest order.  I wish he were here to play spouting whale with FlapJilly in the pool.  Gross and riotous all in the same expulsion of pool water, there was never a dull moment when he was around.

I smiled at the mailbox which adorned my ancestral manse and which now sits on the wall of my potting shed, holding nothing of great importance inside but memories and a satisfying clunk as the lid lands.  Brother and I fought over who would take it home, proving that the most important keepsakes are not always the most financially valuable.

I'm limping less, and so I look less like he did.  The hiking of the hip, the swaying of the torso, the grimace on my face all reminded my siblings of our father.  Though I am not sorry to see my limp disappear, I do miss the connection to my dad.  I wish I had been kinder to him about it.

I don't have many other regrets, though.  I was there for him when he needed me, I consoled him when he wanted to get out of the hospital and home to his own bed, I listened to him bitch and moan about everyone and everything as his life drew to a close, and the last words I said to him were Daddy, I love you.

Would that he were here to share the glint of mischief in FlapJilly's eyes.  Would that he had lasted to meet SIR, a man with whom he could share home repair hints and the love of Little Cuter.  Would that he were here to dissect Supreme Court cases and celestial discoveries with my son, my son who called him every winter morning one year for this exchange:
Hi, Daddooooo.  I'm wearing shorts, it's 70 degrees, and I'm biking to school. What's it like in New York?
You rotten kid! It's minus 15, there's ice on the ground, and we haven't seen the sun in days.
HA HA HA HA HA!!!! I love you, Daddoooooo.
I love you too, kiddo.
Me, too, Daddy.  Me, too, indeed.



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shall We Judge the N-M Christmas Book?

Oh, why not?

It's not even Halloween and it's going to be over 100 degrees tomorrow and still Neiman-Marcus wants me to get in the Christmas Spirit.  Of course, their Christmas spirit includes a $530 Gucci leather handbag for tots
and a faux fur chair for sitting on the sidelines at your kids' soccer games.
At $125 it's fairly reasonable for the rest of the book.  On the other hand, my $15 collapsible chairs are still being used decades after my game watching days have ended.

I was able to skip over the $2500 and $3500 handbags; my canvas sack from BlogHer'15 is my go-to purse these days.

I'm always on the lookout for soft and warm headgear for my girl, and the smiley face balloon is emblematic of her sunny disposition.
However, my stash of $5/skein yarn will make two or three of these, thus saving me $245 on each hat.  Mine won't have faux fox fur, it's true, but she won't lose her mind if she misplaces one of mine.

The Fendi page was beautiful,
even with the $250 gloves (see above for "I've lost one" reaction) and the $700 skate sneakers.

Continuing the really??? theme, I'm not sure about the utility of a python and calfskin high top with dyed silver fox and nutria trim,
but my guess is that someone spending $3,200 on them is not going to be shooting hoops.

If fox fur upsets you, the burgundy one might intrigue you; it has a rooster feather.

The $750 Tom Ford trainers (I suppose at that price you need something fancier than sneakers)
are stunning and, were I an extravagant human I'd buy a pair for Brother, 
who wears nothing but sneakers.  
Unfortunately for him, I'm not.

I have to admire a store that includes books in its catalog. 

It offsets the discomfort I feel when I look at a $500 dog collar,
or a $500 basket of thongs.
I did find a few things that made me smile, in a this might be possible way.
These Toms boots come in at $98, and with fake fur they don't strike at my sensibilities.  Perhaps they will adorn Little Cuter's tootsies this winter.  After all, Toms were her shoes of choice at her wedding.

I like the $40 chrome ornament stand as a centerpiece for a holiday table
but that was all that fit my budget and my psyche.

I was looking for more, but I was stopped in my tracks by the His and Hers Fantasy Gifts.  ultimate children's costumes in Mackenzie-Childs trunks cost $5000 each.... but that's not what irks me the most.  I'm looking for Wonder Woman and Super Girl and Catwoman and Elektra... those princesses don't do anything but sit there and look pretty.
Then, again, that seems to be the theme of the entire book.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Interesting Idea on Sensible Gun Control

I love Ronni Bennett.  Her elderblog, Time Goes By, is my go-to source for all things aging.  Others agree with me, as did John Gear, who sent her an article he wrote in 1999.  I'm excerpting it, with comments in italics, below.  It's an interesting idea, one that makes sense to me because it talks to Americans where they are most vulnerable - in their wallets.

John Gear, in The Progressive Review:

We can fix the gun problem. We can make America safer, without limiting
our right to bear arms. And we can do it without an expensive, dangerous,
and futile "War on Guns."

To solve the real problem (keeping guns out of the wrong hands-without
restricting other people) we must use an idea that has worked to limit
losses from many other hazards: insurance. That's right, insurance, the
system of risk-management contracts that lets people take responsibility
for choices they make that impose risks on others.

I know you didn't buy your gun to hurt me, but it just might do that.  I like the notion that you will be responsible for helping me heal when your weapon damages me.

Insurance is what lets society accommodate technology. Without it, we
would have few autos, airplanes, trains, steamships, microwaves, elevators,
skyscrapers, and little electricity, because only the wealthiest could
accept the liability involved. When people are accountable for risks
imposed on others, they act more responsibly. Insurance is what enables
this accountability.

Holding people "accountable for risks imposed on others" is a concept that gun owners seem unwilling to accept.  Framing it within the concept of car insurance makes it accessible to the otherwise closed mind.

Rather than trying to limit access to or take guns away from law-abiding
adults, we must instead insist that the adult responsible for a gun at any
instant (maker, seller, or buyer) have enough liability insurance to cover
the harm that could result if that adult misuses it or lets it reach the
wrong hands.

"The unsecured gun a child uses to shoot a playmate" is a tougher sentence to read than "lets it reach the wrong hands" but it has the same meaning and the same consequences.

Who gets the insurance proceeds, and for what? The state crime victims'
compensation fund, whenever a crime involving guns is committed or a gun
mishap occurs. The more victims, the bigger the payout. The greater the
damage (from intimidation to multiple murders and permanent crippling), the
greater the payout. The insurers will also pay the fund for other claims,
such as when a minor commits suicide by gun or accidentally kills a
playmate with Daddy's pistol. This will reduce such mishaps. Insurance is
very effective in getting people to adopt safe practices in return for
lower premiums.

The crime victims funds are county entities, not state entities, but they do wonderful work.  Pima County's fund, through Barbara LaWall's County Attorney's Office, sent personal and financial help my way.  I'd be a lot worse off without it.

On the other hand, calling a minor's suicide or murder of a playmate a mishap is a very poor choice of words.

When a crime involving a gun occurs, the firm who insured it pays the
claim. If the gun is not found or is uninsured (and there will still be
many of these at first) then every fund will pay a pro-rated share of the
damages, based on the number of guns they insure. This will motivate
insurance firms--and legitimate gun owners--to treat uninsured guns as
poison, instead of as an unavoidable byproduct of the Second Amendment.
Thus, insurance will unite the interests of all law-abiding citizens, gun
owners and others, against the real problem with guns: guns in the hands of
criminals, the reckless, the untrained, and juveniles.

In saying his plan will unite the interests of those on both sides of the issue I think he is being a little bit naive.  Still, naivete is better than stubborness.

Like other insurance, firearm insurance will be from a private firm or
association, not the government. Owners, makers, and dealers will likely
self-insure, forming large associations just as the early "automobilists"
did. Any financially-sound group, such as the NRA, can follow state
insurance commission rules and create a firearms insurance firm. 

AARP offers insurance and lobbies legislators.  Let the NRA do the same.

That's it. No mass or government registrations. Except for defining the
rules, no government involvement at all. Each owner selects his or her
insurance firm. By reaffirming the right to responsible gun ownership and
driving uninsured guns out of the system, we use a proven,
non-prohibitionist strategy for improving public safety.

I still don't think guns belong in everyone's hands, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Each insurance firm will devise a strategy for earning more revenue with
fewer claims. Thus gun owners -- informed by the actuaries -- will choose
for ourselves the controls we will tolerate, and the corresponding
premiums. (Rates will vary according to the gun we want to insure, our
expertise, and claims history.)

Some will want a cheaper policy that requires trigger locks whenever the
gun is not in use; others will not. Hobbyists will find cheaper insurance
by keeping their firearms in a safe at the range. Newer, younger shooters
and those who choose weapons that cause more claims will pay higher
premiums. That way, other owners, with more training and claims-free
history, will pay less. (Insurance companies are expert at evaluating
combined risks and dividing them up-in the form of premiums-with exquisite

This comes close to Chris Rock's immortal suggestion that guns be unregulated and available, but that bullets should cost $5000 each.
Again, Americans think with their wallets.

Soon, the firms will emphasize cutting claims. That means promoting gun
safety and fighting black market gun dealers, which is where many criminals
get guns. And every legitimate gun owner will have a persuasive reason --
lower premiums -- to help in the fight.

Smokers pay larger health insurance premiums.  Ferrari's cost more to insure than Hondas.  This is fair, and understandable, even to the most ardent 2nd Amendment supporter.

We need to start discussing this now, because it will take several years
to enact. Gun-control advocates will hate this because it forsakes the
failed prohibitionist approach. But the evidence is clear: there is
virtually no chance that prohibiting guns can work without destroying our
civil liberties, and probably not even then.

Destroying civil liberties, virtually no chance that prohibiting guns can work.... these arguments are overused and untested, but if it gets an NRA member to read this far and think the plan is sane, then I can handle two sentences of nonsense.

And the organized gun lobby will hate it too, because most of their power
comes from having the threat of gun prohibition to point to. But again the
evidence is clear: we have the current gun laws -- ineffective as they are
-- because we have neglected a right even more important to Americans than
the right to bear arms: the right to be safely unarmed.

That's my favorite phrase in the article -
"the right be be safely unarmed."

Naturally, many gun owners will resent paying premiums, because they
resent assuming responsibility for risks that, so far, we've dumped on
everyone else. So be it. It is only by assuming our responsibilities that
we preserve our rights. Some will note that the Second Amendment doesn't
include "well-insured." But, just as the press needs insurance against
libel suits to exercise the First Amendment, we must assume responsibility
for the risks that firearms present to society.

Here's where opponents of sensible legislation will go batty, I think.  Assuming responsibility is a foreign concept if you think leaving a loaded pistol on your nightstand is the best way to raise a child.

The problem is real, even such prohibitionist strategies are doomed to fail,
even if passed. Sadly, some pro-gun groups have already revved up their own
mindless propaganda, blaming Springfield on liberals, TV, Dr. Spock, "bad seeds," y
ou name it -- anything but the easy access to guns that made massacres like Springfield so quick, so easy, and so likely.

In 1998, a shooter opened fire in a high school in Springfield, Oregon. You can read about the survivors here.  As always, I am not naming the shooter.  He gets no publicity from me.

This won't work instantly -- but it will work, because it breaks the
deadlock about guns and how to keep them away from people who shouldn't
have them, without stomping on the rights of the rest of us. Thus it
changes the dynamics of this issue and ends the lethal deadlock over guns.

It's time for everyone, people seeking safety from guns and law-abiding
gun owners alike, to work together to fight firearms in the wrong hands,
and it's time to fight with FIRE: Firearm Insurance, Required Everywhere.

So, what do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2015

This Time of Year

I love October.  In Ithaca, in Marin, in Tucson, in Chicago, I love October.  Two years ago, I loved October in Fort Lauderdale.

The air is full of new smells.  Here, it's creosote after a rainstorm.  In my childhood, it was leaves burning.  In Marin, it was rosemary and, on certain hikes, on certain days, salty sea air.

It's needing a sweater when you first go outside in the morning. Even if it's 80-something-degrees outside, it feels like winter's on its way.  My tank tops feel under-dressed in temperatures that would, in other surroundings, be perfect.  My wardrobe is turning to blacks and browns and greys; the pinks and yellows and aquamarines speak more of Mothers Day than Halloween.

And then there's Halloween.  I'm not decorating outside this year, partly because we forgot to make the scarecrows and partly because TBG and I will be spending the holiday with FlapJilly.
On the inside, I've taken a fairly restrained (for me) approach.  I tossed the broken but loved old decorations; not an easy thing to do, by any means.  But sentiment gave way to My heirs will do it if I don't do it now and I smiled as I thought of the paper cups we are still using in  the bathrooms.... the paper cups I took from G'ma... the G'ma who died two years ago.....  and there are bags of them unopened in the closet... and I was ruthless.

What's left is, as Perfect Patty the Cleaning Maven remarked last week, is the loveliness this time of year brings.  Everybody's house is so different, so decorated, so pretty.  We have moved on from spending time admiring FlapJilly's recent photographic excursions with her mother to admiring and smiling at the decor.  That pumpkin under the glass top table?  He laughs out loud when you make a loud noise.  Sneezing is an interesting experience in our house at this time of year.

There is Fall Decor waiting in the wings, to be followed by Chanukah then Christmas then New Years.  There's a small pause for the sorbet of whatever is left in the candle container before Valentines Day descends.  I love each and every moment of it, and I feel bereft when March arrives and there are no memories to be retrieved.

But I love the beginning, in October, most of all.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Snippets - CUBBIES WIN!!!


According to ESPN, everyone everywhere except Pittsburgh wanted the Cubs to win the wild card game and advance to the Division Championship 7 game series.

That's all you need, if you want to look like you understand what's going on.
Yes, Daughter D, this next phase is a series.

The first game was, absurdly, between the teams with the 2nd and 3rd best record in baseball. How did it happen?  It's the first time in the system's 17 years; no one expected it.

I have my t-shirt from 1989, carefully cold water washed and folded neatly, to be brought out on championship runs.

I am letting myself dare to dream.
Little Cuter took FlapJilly to the softball field, where, to the delight of the women's league on the adjacent field, my granddaughter expressed herself
I'm sorry.
Kinda sorta.
Anyway, CUBBIES WIN!! and if FlapJilly feels it, who am I to say her nay?

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Sometimes, I forget to eat it.  Sometimes, it is all I can think about. Lunch and I have a very complicated relationship.

It took me a long time to get used to the idea of ruining a perfectly good slice of rye bread by using it to hold meat in place.  The bread was enough for me; why was roast beef needed?

It was in elementary school that this first became an issue; there was no Go-Gurt or Lunchables in the 1950's. G'ma would make a week's worth of sandwiches, label them in her tiny print, wrap them in Saran Wrap and pop one in my lunch box every morning.  By the time I opened it up at noon, the frozen bread had softened into an interesting paste, often adhering to the pastrami or salami or turkey it contained.

Friends soon learned that sitting next to me would often garner them something much more interesting than their pb&j from home.  I wished I liked peanut butter; I loved jelly and bread. Trading for an apple or a cookie, I'd leave the cafeteria hungry and sad.  It made learning in the afternoon a challenge; I attribute my math difficulties to the fact that it was always taught right after lunchtime.

In 6th grade we were allowed to go off campus for lunchtime; every once in a while G'ma would write me a note and a friend and I would walk to the diner and have a hamburger.  But these treats were few and far between; mostly, I suffered.

In middle school, lunch took on a whole other meaning.  It was less about the food and more about socializing.  With whom would I sit?  Somehow, eating became less important than negotiating a favorable seat.  By high school, we could drive to Mickey D's or Dairy Queen if we had an older, licensed, friend.  Sometimes I ate in the girls' gym, keeping the monitor company.  It was weird, but I did it.  The lunch room was often too much of a social scene for comfort.

In adulthood, I learned to binge.  For weeks at a time, I'd carry an egg salad on challah in my purse.  That morphed into tuna in a margarine container.  When I was pregnant with Big Cuter, McDonalds was back in a major way; my co-workers informed me I was no longer allowed to choose our lunch destination.  It made a come back when Big Cuter was in kindergarten; his afternoon classmates would meet up for kids' meals then carpool to class.  I was no longer able to gag down the burgers, but the french fries never lost their allure.

At home, raising the kids, I'd pack us into the car and we'd go out for lunch.  Making it at home was never an option, except when I heated up Spaghetti-O's for my son.  They never tempted me, but I could delude myself into thinking I was a good mom because I was cooking for him at home.

And now, as an adult, with all options available at the turn of an ignition key, I am still stuck. Fast food burgers at 5 Guys, pizza at Sauce, tuna salad at Beyond Bread, Jimmy John's delivery, yogurt from the fridge.... I'm hungry and I'm unable to decide.

Bread and butter is looking awfully good right now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

World Languages

I represented my alma mater, Cornell University, at the Tucson Unified School District's College Night.  Among the bright eyes and sharp minds there were those with specific needs for their next educational adventure.  Is there snow? What would a pre-med program look like?  Can I study large animals at the Vet School as an undergraduate?  I'm interested in civil engineering ... bioengineering... neuroscience ..... nutrition...  foreign languages.

Yes yes yes yes yes... Ezra founded his namesake University on the premise that any person could find instruction in any course of study. Not to worry; if you want to take Ancient Aramaic, someone will teach it to you.

All night long I wondered if I'd chosen the most obscure language taught at Cornell.  My computer problems prevented me from searching the website.  This afternoon, when the fabulous AV guy spent fifteen minutes rerouting signals and reprogramming our DVD's remote, I was tasked with finding the Instruction Manual.

In the back of that manual are two pages listing the individual codes for over 175 languages.  I'm amazed at the reach of the Yamaha DVD player, but more than that I am surprised. I don't recognize  Afar or Assamese or Avestan or Aymara.  Bihari and Bislama, Dzonghkha and Faroese and Frisian and Gallegan are equally unknown, and that is just the first of four columns.

It gets worse.  Gikuyu, Guarani, Herero, Hiri Motu .... 'twas brillig and the slithy tove is all of a sudden sounding less like gibberish and more like something I haven't yet discovered.  Komi, Kwanyama, Letzeburgesch, and Manx sound place specific to me.

As we move into the third column, Nauru and Ndebele (North and South) and Ndonga lead into Nynorsk and Occitan (post 1500).  Seriously, that's the notation.  I guess there aren't a lot of 15th century Occitan speakers using DVD players these days.)

Telugu and Tigrinya and Tswana and Twi and Volapuk and I was beginning to think it would never end and then I saw Yiddish... and I smiled.  It's such a silly word in itself, you almost have to smile when you say it.  I remembered Donna's comment, on West Wing, that words such as spatula and far-fetched should be Yiddish, even if they aren't because they sound as if they are.  I began to imagine what Lingala might sound like.  I pondered Wolof wooing.  And then I came here to share it all with you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

VW and Me

It's all TBG's fault, actually.  He jinxed the whole thing by his one, off-hand comment last weekend.

"Y'know, The Schnozz has been basically a trouble free car.  You haven't had anything major or expensive to deal with."

From his mouth to Satan's ear, for sure, because this morning, on my way to Mah Jongg and the middle school and the furniture store and the gym and the library and the grocery, with the clouds lowering and the windshield showing a smattering of tiny drops, my sunroof refused to close.

Yes, I know, in a normal climate a temperature of 84F would require the air conditioner at full blast.  Here in Tucson, though, we start opening our windows and reaching for sweaters once we're back down into double digits.  84 was perfect for smelling the desert air, creosote on the breeze, nothing mechanical to cool me... perfect for lowered windows and open sunroofs.

It got half way there, and retreated.  Then it wouldn't move at all.  Then it went an inch and stopped.   Clearly, something was amiss.  I pulled off onto a side street and called the dealership.  Certainly there would be a fuse I could pull and reinsert to fix the problem, I thought, conveniently forgetting that it cost $75 to replace the rear tail lightbulb, with a See a Certified Mechanic to perform this operation warning in the manual.

Sure, they could look at the car today.  Sure, they could drop me off at home.  No, there was no simple fix.

So, Andrew took The Schnozz, a Brazilian music major recently relocated from Juneau drove me home, and TBG held me as I responded to Andrew's phone call.

"The mechanic managed to get it closed...."  and right away I knew I was in trouble.  $1700+ worth of trouble.  Apparently, the track on the frame is bent, requiring the replacement of the entire mechanism.  The part is not in stock.  It will take the better part of a day to install.

On the bright side, for this kind of thing, for sure they have a loaner for me.

I hate car trouble.  I use my car as a purse, carrying my stuff from hither to yon.  My purses don't break, and when they do, I throw them away and get another.  I don't let their break downs eat into my soul the way I allow automotive and computer problems to take up residence and start chewing from the inside out.

This is only money.  I was safe, if somewhat wet, and there is a plan in place to resolve the issue.  I should be able to let go.  I keep telling myself that it's not my fault, that no elephants climbed on the roof of the car, that leaving it open last night didn't do lasting damage, that I could honestly answer All the time when Andrew wondered when I last opened the damn thing.  Apparently, some people keep them closed from April til October and they get stuck.

I'm trying to find an answer to the unanswerable.  I'm getting pretty good at that, it seems.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mud Run, Tucson Style

Amster and the kids invited me to tag along.  
I was their gear holder and photographer and cheerleader.

I was there at the start
when they were in the tub
("Not cold at all!!" according to Mr. 10)
 near the army guys 
 who Amster thought were quite rude, using their size to advantage, 
but who Mr. 10 thought were wonderful.  
They stopped and helped him with the carry-the-buckets-filled-with-sand-through-the-mud obstacle.
"They were really nice, Mom.
Those buckets were really heavy."

It was that kind of an event, a little bit family

and a little bit fun .
There were teams in matching outfits
(Yes, they were superheroes)
and there were orange shirted monitors on foot and on bike, 
making sure everyone was having a great time.

Getting over the top of this A-Frame stymied some, but stumped none.
There was always someone to help.
Those two on either side of Mr. 10 (in the green shirt) weren't going anywhere until he was over.
They didn't know that he's totally competent, completely in control of his body and its capabilities.
They saw a little one and they stopped competing long enough to be sure he was safe.
Then, they were off.
I'm not sure that Mr. 10 even knew they were there, but they were.

Towards the end, there were monkey bars, 
which Amster completed, and on which Mr. 12 rang the bells.
The jump for the first rung was more than Mr. 10 could manage, but he was okay with that.
After all, you can't teach height.  Maybe next time....

At the end, there were bananas 
and Muscle Milk and medals
It was competitive - and don't you know that we stayed for the medal ceremony - but it was friendly.
There was a double header award for completing two Mud Runs in one calendar year.
We got those medals, too.
Only in Tucson would we think that 95 degrees is perfectly cool,
 but that's just what it was this Saturday.
They were perfectly cool, too.