Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Parenting Adults - A Snippet

They are not our problems.

We keep telling ourselves that, but it doesn't help.  We have all these ideas.  We have years of experience.  We've been there, done that, or some variation thereof, and we could help.

But, we can't.

They are not our problems.  The kids own them and take responsibility for them and are doing what they deem right and it is so so so so hard to sit back and watch, instead of swooping in and saving the day.

Not that we are capable of saving the day.... but at least we could try.

No matter how old they are, children are still a piece of your heart walking around, unprotected.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Alt-Right - What Upsets Me

I'd never heard the term until this weekend.  Alt-Right was everywhere and I was flummoxed. Everyone knew about it but me.  The talking heads speak to TBG all day long; how had the phrase not osmosed into my brain?

I investigated the situation on-line, read Bannon's screeds and his history, and found myself awash in mainstream media trying to find the least offensive synonyms for racist, homophobic, xenophobic rants.  I thought that Alt-Right was another synonym.

Big Cuter disabused me of that notion.  Alt-Right is what the people who used to keep their beliefs under a rock have taken to calling themselves.  I guess I've been living in a bubble of people who think, but the words and the ?logic? are awful.
I refuse to provide links because nobody else should have that nonsense running around in their brain.
It's not that these are new ideas.  There has always been an ugly current in America - from the Salem Witch Trials to burning crosses to No Dogs No Jews Nobody Who Isn't a Real American... a David Duke American.... an American who doesn't threaten those who feel the most left behind.... I suppose... I don't understand it and I'm not sure I want to spend the time required to do so.

What upsets me is the 40% of Americans who plan to vote for a man espousing those values.

What upsets me is the mainstream media using Alt-Right instead of Far Right Extremists or the Splinter Wingnuts of the Party Formerly Known as Republican when they talk about people they despise but to whom they must give air time.

What upsets me is that this is happening in my America.

Words matter.

Putting lipstick on a pig still leaves you with Sarah Palin.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Another Sign of the Apocaplyse

What have we come to when this is on the shelf at Costco:
How can there be anything but organic water?
Or, perhaps, I am mis-parsing and the organic relates to the coconuts?

Still, how can water be anything but a beverage?
Or is it because it has coconut it qualifies as a beverage, where without the coconut it would be.... drinkable?

It's things like these that keep me questioning on a Saturday morning, waiting to pay for my lime flavored sparkling natural mineral water.... 
which, apparently, assumes I know enough about water to recognize it as a beverage.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pilates at Amphi - A Public/Private Partnership

GRIN's legwork and Body Works Pilates's teachers and Balanced Body's equipment have given the girls' Sports Fitness Class at Amphi Middle School professional Fletcher Pilates instruction, within the curriculum.
That may not seem like much, but I am here to tell you that it is a monumental achievement.  Without the support of the school's administrative staff, without their determination that the program would succeed, without their fearlessness in the face of insurmountable (to me, anyway) obstacles, they tweaked and poked and prodded and together we came up with a solution that worked for everyone.

It's been going on since April 13, 2012.  That's 9 semesters of work, 9 semesters of girls who've gained strength and control, noticed by their Coach and classroom teacher, verified by those who've gone before them.  We've done research and measurements on physical and psychological dimensions over the years, and now, with the help of the friendly folks at AlignaBod, we have the perfect tool.

The girls aren't that interested in how many seconds they can hold a plank.  That doesn't translate to their lives outside the gym.  These are 12 and 13 year old girls; they spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.

If I can show them in pictures how their bodies have adapted to their work on the mats, if they can see themselves standing straighter and taller, if they can hold the pictures in their hands or put them on their locker door or bulletin board at home....

Do such things still exist?  Is Facebook the digital bulletin board? Ah, once again, I digress .... 

.... I think it will make a big difference.

I took three photos of each student.  They faced forward, to the side, and to the grid.

I aligned them with the bold vertical line but gave them no instruction other than

Just stand there.  

Some were stiff and some were loose and some were delighted to join in the fun.

I asked each of them to write her name on a clean page of the yellow mini-legal-pad (scrubbed, there on the left, for obvious reasons) and to respond to this prompt:
using this scale: 
Are you impressed with my high-tech materials?

In December, I'll repeat the process and consider my findings.
I'll print the pictures for the girls, and hope for the best.

My expectations have already been met.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Betwixt and Between

The Cuters are in limbo.  Big Cuter is waiting to hear about a job that would make him happy on all levels.  Little Cuter and SIR are squatting in his parents' home, searching for child care, tending to friends at funerals, and feeling unanchored.  Fast Eddie and JannyLou have returned from Colorado with laundry and errands and chores galore. Amster is gearing up for two trials, back to back, as her boys adjust to Middle School.

I am in the middle of it all, watching and wondering and unable to help anyone with anything.

My life goes on, basically unchanged.  My new session of Humanities Seminars doesn't begin for several weeks.  Until then, there is nothing new for me.  This, more than anything, connects me to the passage of time.  There is no reason to buy new pens and pencils and notebooks.  There is no rearranging of activities.  There is just more of the same old same old.... and I'm stuck.

It's August.  I should be on the beach, toes in the sand, waves lolling me to sleep, sun on my back, iced tea in a cooler under an umbrella beside my extra large Lake Tahoe beach towel.  Or, I should be on vacation, my family in tow, the trunk filled with suitcases and snacks and games, me, in the front seat, reading Roald Dahl aloud.  How far is it from Marin to San Diego?  Exactly as long as it takes to read The Twits.

Those are the memories I have of August.  This whole notion of school starting mid-month (and the wrong month, at that) is disconcerting.  I should be taking a long walk, feeling the heat and the sluggishness of the end of summer.  Instead, everyone is racing around, trying to get where they are going before it's too late.

Isn't it too hot for that?

There's a sense that the political season is heating up; Hillary's emails combined with Bannon's Breitbart sensibilities make that a certainty.  But Congress is still on vacation (Did you notice?  Why would you?  It's not like they've done anything when they've been in session on Capitol Hill.) and our Arizona primary is still a week away.  The general election is becoming a more terrifying spectre, and September is still a page away on the calendar.

And here I sit, betwixt and between, wondering what the end of the year will bring, while marveling at the speed with which this summer has gone by.

The days are long, but the years are short.   That's never felt truer than right now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

41 Years Ago Today

Today, as I'm writing this, I'm remembering sitting around the pool at a lovely little motel just a mile or so from my parents' home with TBG and Daddooooo and Nannie and Grandpaw.  Daddooooo looked at the leaves on the trees.... looked at them turning over, showing their undersides.... looked at them predicting the rain that would fall all night lonog.... looking and not saying anything.

He didn't want to spoil my wedding day before the weather did.

Of course, my sister and my mother woke me at 6am to inform me that it had been raining, that it was raining, that it looked like it would never stop raining, and what was I going to do?  Go back to sleep came to mind.  The drama was more important than the facts.  What could I do?

TBG called at 7, wondering if I were still going to show up, even in the rain.  My oft repeated plan was to elope if the heavens opened, but that seemed like more trouble than it was worth, especially that early in the morning.  Sure, I said, and, having inspected the not-as-well-protected-from-the-rain-as-I'd-hoped-it-would-be grass under the yellow and white striped tent covering the back yard, I did, in fact, go back to sleep.

Then I woke up, got dressed by myself because my maid of honor had vanished, and decided I was hungry.  And so, while the guests arrived and the rain became a drizzle became a sauna, I stood in my mother's kitchen, snarfing down little hot dogs wrapped in dough - pigs in a blanket, a staple at Jewish weddings, and yes, that makes it a weird name - as the caterers made sure I didn't drip mustard on my dress.

I remember G'ma being appalled.

School schedules and Bar Exams and new job start dates and finances and preferences precluded anything but a late August, totally humid (even if it hadn't rained all night), Sunday afternoon. G'ma made sure that the high school band cancelled their weekly practice on the field across the street.  She found a rabbi to marry us, and the two of us, non-sectarian at best, knew that if we lived on Long Island we'd have joined his congregation.  How could we resist a guy who showed up late because his tennis match ran late?

Friends hitchhiked all night, bringing uninvited but welcomed guests.  They were tired, but they were

Cousins grown to young adulthood without my noticing, one grandmother snarling but present, my Bubba grabbing my hand as I walked back down the aisle, my drunken sister dancing while sleeping on the shoulder of a guy she should have married.... I hold these memories front and center in my brain.

Some sent telegrams - yes, actual yellow paper telegrams - expressing regrets that they were unable to share our day.  There were two birthdays on the 25th which we celebrated with smaller cakes beside the whipped cream (not butter creme) filled three tiered yellow cake with fresh strawberries garnishing it everywhere.  There was a one-man-band, with a keyboard and assorted bells and whistles but at least it wasn't an accordion player (yes, denizens, G'ma and I went to the mat on that one, believe you me......).

By the time we left, in a car decorated with cans (until the end of the street when TBG had had enough clatter to last a lifetime), the world's prettiest wedding dress sported a dark and muddy hem, impervious to dry cleaning techniques known at the time. After hours of partying on that wet grass, TBG had perspired through his suit coat and his tie. Poor guy,  his only request had been that we not get married outside in the heat of the summer.

That was the first of many I can't believe I agreed to this moments.  Over 4 decades (oh, dear God, 40 plus years!) there have been many of those moments.

I'm looking forward to 40 more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This is the restaurant, next to the pet groomers, in the shopping center across from my gym.
It's 1.4 miles from my front door; an easy bike ride when I was so inclined.
Once, my chain fell off as I was climbing the long hill up to that corner.
I pushed my bike into OVB and they reattached it with a smile and no charge.
I had my first Tucson mammogram and Dexa scan in the suite of offices to the right of the Dance Studio.  An old Cali friend's high school friend owns the Family Swim School next door.  I checked it out when Little Cuter was pregnant with FlapJilly.  It's overrun with munchkins in diapers and bikinis and their frazzled parental units.  It's a smile on steroids. 
I'm not sure how Short Term Parking works for an event space,
but Stargaze seems to think it works for them.  The rest of the parking lot is huge and usually empty; I suppose they considered that when installing the sign.
And then there's this business, with the strangest name I've ever seen.
Is it imaginary fitness? 
I feel, therefore I am fit?
From the advertising, I think they try to combine body and soul while sweating... but I'm not sure. 
Why have I given you a tour of this shopping center?
While reading the Saturday paper I came across an article describing a rotating cadre of women being transported to a brothel posing as a massage parlor.  The women stayed for three weeks, then were replaced by new sex workers.  Police officers were indicted in the probe.  
The name sounded familiar.... and then I realized why.
There it is, right next to my cobbler.
I remember wondering if I should try it when I brought a pair of flats to be resoled.
I never did.

They, too, have a short term parking sign in front of their establishment.
Make of that what you will; I'm not going there this morning.

Did I mention that this shopping center is separated by an alley from the Sheriff's Department?

I wonder what else is hiding in plain sight in my neighborhood?

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Kids Are Moving....

and I'm not there to help.

I packed no boxes.  I taped nothing closed.  I held no fragile objects as bubble wrap surrounded them.

I did nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I made sure that the plastic container with the clothes I leave at their house held everything I'd left behind, but I didn't do anything more than push it back into the closet when I was done.

Okay, I'll give myself some credit - I took our toiletries out of the bathroom and placed them in the sealed plastic container, leaving one less set of drawers for them to empty.  It doesn't seem like much, does it?

SIR is a master packer, and my efforts would, no doubt, have required supervision and a great deal of angst on his part.  He's much neater than I am; last year's Christmas presents sat in their beautiful white Crate and Barrel shipping box so that he could admire the precision with which I had placed the gifts.  He was amazed... wondered that I, the Queen of Disarray, could have created such perfection.  I smiled and told him that I thought of him as I did it; the packing was as much a part of his gift as the Nike ID sneakers.

So, I am not surprised that I wasn't asked to pack.  TBG and I were on FlapJilly duty when the moving first began, and our wonderful children assured us that hugging the world's most wonderful grandchild was help enough.  I was okay with that.

But now, the truck is packed and unloaded and their stuff is in storage and on portable clothes racks in SIR's ancestral manse, and I have no role at all.  I can't help them find child care.  I can't get FlapJilly a library card.  I can't fill their refrigerator with Parmesan Reggiano and thick sliced bacon because they don't have access to their new house for a month or so and  there is nothing I can do but type to you and whine.

My role seems to be sending FlapJilly Minnie Mouse clothes and striped organically grown cotton pj's and saying YES! when she points to my daughter's phone and asks to Facetime with me.

"G'ammma?  Hi, G'ammma!" 

She babbles along as she eats her dinner and TBG and I babble back.  Little Cuter smiles.  I guess, if this is all she need from me right now, I might as well just sit back and enjoy it.


Friday, August 19, 2016


I have to break my promise.  I can't do what I said I was going to do.  My goals must be reset.  I'm having a hard time with it all.

7 weeks ago, playing basketball with Mr. 11, I was coerced onto the basketball court.  It's hard to stay on the sidelines when the world's most adorable middle schooler is importuning from the free throw line.  Please..... Please.... Oh, PLEASE..... I couldn't resist him.

Passing was fine, but then he wanted me to teach him to take a charge.  This involved swinging my butt into his belly.... and swinging my lower half is not something I've done a lot of in the past 5 years.  Needless to say, I swung, he took the charge and slid across the court, and my knee, swollen and achy, reminded me every day following that my bball days are long gone.

I've rested.  I've iced. I've compressed. I've elevated.   I took a week off from everything.  I've been very very very careful in the gym and at Pilates and in life.  I'm better, but it still tingles.  It swells up (in various places) after I use it... and I use it all the time.  

I spoke to the nurse (after PT's and other pros have examined and flexed and manipulated me) and she says that I am healing as I should, that I should continue doing what I'm doing, and that eventually, over time, if I'm smart,  I should be fine. 

 Her final words?  Just don't do anything extreme.

We agreed that climbing (or preparing to climb) the Sears Tower is extreme.  She told me I was crazy to do it.

Since I have no interest in giving back any of the gains I've made on my perforated (right) side, since favoring my newly damaged left knee has put torque on places that were previously un-torqued before (creating new and interesting gait patterns), since my knee talks to me in unpleasant tones every time I take a step, and since the nurse told me that I was crazy (which we all knew, anyway)..... I can't do the climb.......

..... this year.

I am beyond bummed.  I am embarrassed.  I don't want anyone to think I am wimping out... but I am. In the past, I've taken advice from professionals with a grain of salt; I try to find congruence between what I am told and what I feel and what My Body tells me.  My Body... capitalized because that's the important lesson here.  My Body has a mind of its own.  I may need a new defining moment, but my need doesn't necessarily translate into My Body's compliance.  It's on its own trajectory.  I may be able to push and prod around the margins, but it will heal when it heals, the nerves will connect when they connect, the swelling will go down.... eventually.... if I take good care of my self and don't do anything extreme.

My Body and I are going to have some long conversations over the next few months.  I'll do my part, with the ice and all the rest, I'll continue to strengthen the areas around the injuries so that the damaged pieces aren't over-taxed, but I'm going to expect a similar effort from My Body.

I'm going to take an epsom salt bath and begin the conversation.  

2017's SkyRise is only 14 months away.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hell in a Handbasket

The Conservative talking head listed the NSA hack, Aetna pulling out of health care exchanges, and something else monumental and potentially lethal to Hillary Clinton, all of which have been lost in the uproar over Donald Trump's new campaign staff.  A pollster and a media mogul with a Goldman Sachs heritage folded over his naval career will be running things from now on, if anyone can be said to be running things on the Trump side of the campaign.

All this because The Donald has "been very unhappy over the past few weeks," according to MSNBC.  Everyone wants him to change.  Everyone wants him to be someone he is not.  Everyone wants to find depths in the shallows, sincerity in the sophistry, calm amidst the storm.  Everyone keeps trying, but The Donald knows in his heart what they do not - that he is who he is.

Looking for that which does not exist is quixotic, by definition.  In that sense, Trump is saner than the Republicans who want him to represent them and their Party in a manner that is somewhat more respectable than the behavior their chosen candidate has displayed thus far.  They want him to be someone he is not.

The man can read from a teleprompter.  He doesn't do it with much enthusiasm, but he can accomplish the task.  That made Republican fundraisers happy; two weeks ago they asked for donations based on the fact that their candidate didn't make a single faux pas while reading aloud.  I watched that speech; he seemed to be seeing the words for the first time.  There was no bombast, no declarative cadence, no head shaking or finger pointing.  It was boring.  The audience was as numbed as I was.

Boring is not something that Mr. Trump does well.  He has a finely tuned sense of the audience, and knows when dropping a Crooked Hillary bomb will fire them up.  But speechwriters don't put those kinds of incendiary devices in carefully crafted public policy tracts.  Those are filled with facts and nuance and compare-and-contrast statements that don't involve name calling.  Those are not areas of comfort for The Donald.

And so, as his daughter vacations with Vladimir Putin's girlfriend, as his son is on a (big game hunting?) vacation, Trump shoved the RNC's Paul Manafort aside.  Manafort's problems have been all over the news.... overshadowing The Donald.... and that, I fear, more than the substance of the accusations being hurled at Manafort, is why he made the move.

He wants to be who he is.  "I don't want to change" might be acceptable from a 4 year old, but "I don't want to pivot," isn't designed to bring comfort to the hearts of those who would like to see a Republican in the White House next January.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and the news is filled with the rantings of a man who's in over his head and can't figure out an exit strategy.  If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.

Somehow, though, I'm not laughing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Problem With James Patterson

is that his books are impossible to put down.  I started Bullseye this morning and finished it this evening, after Pilates and hosting the Happy Ladies Club for cards and eating a meal or three along the way.

Now, the heavens have exploded and the cable's gone out twice as lightning wreaks havoc with signals electronic and fiber optic.

I've been absorbed in a plot involving a political assassination, Vladimir Putin, and a walking tour of New York City.  Maybe that's why I lost all four hands this afternoon... and lost is a kind description of the drubbing I took.  My mind was with Michael Bennett and the various snipers dying by his side.

I'm sorry.  I have no thoughts other than wondering if I should take my camera outside and try to capture the lightning.  It was vertical and flashing on JannyLou's new driveway when I began to type and now it's right over our roof.  I'll be back tomorrow, with more than weather related drivel to consider.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More Olympic Thoughts

Not of Zeus and Hera but of  Katie Ledecky and Maya Dirado and Alyson Felix and Bernard Lagat's little sister.  Of Mo Farah toying with his opponents over 10,000 meters and of Usain Bolt cruising past Justin (is he off the juice?) Gatlin.

The American gymnasts, all colors of the rainbow, and 41 year old Uzbekistan gymnast Oksana Chusovitina; Ryan Lochte, swimming with and against Michael Phelps; the '49'ers Michael Carter's daughter, Michelle, thanking her dad for teaching her everything he knew and for believing in her.... these are my Olympic thoughts.
I can recognize the parents and grandparents who raised these babies to fantabulous adulthood.  Aly Raisman's mother's face as her daughter completed her final routine spoke to me - all those hours driving and waiting and watching and paying and praying and now.... over.

Their offspring may be doing the competing, but the grown-ups have some skin in the game, too.
Millennials carp at NBC's tape delayed coverage, aimed at 50 year old women who like the athletes' stories more than their accomplishments, crying that in this century there is no reason for anything less than immediate gratification.

I, who have spent the better part of the last 10 days with some part of the games (often muted) in the background, like both the competition and the biographies.  I can't imagine watching preliminary heats of anything if I didn't care about the participants.
I wish I knew why the female gymnasts wore sparkly makeup and pranced and preened while the male gymnasts wore functional shorts in their country's colors and tumbled without ballet arms.

Tears, on the other hand, were gender neutral.  Diego Hypolito. Brazil's floor exercise silver medalist, was sobbing into his hands as he waited, sobbing into his teammates as the scores were announced, sobbing and smiling as he and bronze medalist Arthur Nory wrapped themselves in the flag.

I have to admit that I was a little teary, myself.
Poor Max Whitlock.  He may have won the gold medal in floor exercise on Tuesday, but he got no camera time at all.  

All those weepy Brazilians stole his thunder.
I spent all week wondering about the picture on Great Britain's uniform.  What is it?  

I suppose I could look on the interwebs, but I'm enjoying the confusion.  
The stands are empty.  Swimmers are mugged at gunpoint.  Cycling courses were wet and steep and dangerous.  Golf and synchronized diving (who decided that was a sport?) and air shooting (the noise... TBG couldn't hear it without cringing) and boxing held no allure for me.  But there were many channels from which to choose and I was rarely left wanting.  

I'll miss them when they're gone.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Blooms

There hasn't been a picture post of flora in The Burrow for a while.  
Here's a summer edition, for those who need a break from Olympics and politics.
I know that I needed one.
It's hard for me to imagine anything blooming in triple digits, but these roses put on another show.
The osteospurmum decided that the heat was perfect for its purple flowers.
The ones in the shade are doing nothing.  
This fellow, though, is blooming its heart out for me. 
The wild gomphreda is taking over the tended look of the big pots with its long stalks.
They blow in the wind, waving and bowing and coming back upright with the slightest breeze.
They are fun to watch, but their wild nature is in stark contrast to the more well-behaved vinca.
I planted them looking for height; I got more than I bargained for. 

That became quite clear when I stood back and looked at the smaller pot.
The gomphreda are taking over the pathway to the pool.
TBG is not amused, but I continue to giggle.
My successes are often quite overwhelming.

Finding the right plants to last through a Tucson summer in a small container basket sitting in full sun has been an ongoing project.  The lobelia and vinca did really well together 
until the irrigation to the basket decided to stop flowing.
Once I saw the drooping leaves and ran to its rescue with a full watering can, the vinca perked right up.  The lobelia will take a little more nurturing and pruning and the whole thing will get a dose of MaxSea natural fertilizer with an extra helping of Phosphorus (the P in the NPK on the fertilizer bag) to promote roots and fruits ... or flowers, in this case.  

There is very little forgiveness when gardening in the desert.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The First Day of School

It's early August and the kids are back at school.
 I think school should start after Labor Day, but my opinion was irrelevent, 
even when I was President of the School Board.

And so, today, Moms and Dads
and grandparents
 and uncles stood in line 
and sat at the tables
 and perched papers on their laps
 as they registered their youngsters for school.  

Some of the scholars were independent enough to seek their own answers.

Some needed a strong grip on Mom's hand to get through the front door.
Can you see the sticker on her right shoulder?
Gramma Suzi brought them, as always, to brighten a scary morning.
The grown-ups got them, too.
That way, when they missed their kids they could rub the sticker and feel the love.
Funny, the magic works for kids missing their moms, too.
A quick rub, and all is well..... at least, that's what I promised them.

The wait was long, especially when there were a lot of kids to sign in.
Big brothers were good care takers of those too little to walk down the halls.
 But the clock told us it was time to find the classrooms, and the kids were on their own.
I wandered into the Teachers' Lounge, looking for staff who needed stickers, 
and I found this.
See the name on that middle shelf?
I'm on the team.
I'm official.
I'm thrilled.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
It's impossible to be sad when I'm surrounded by little ones.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Inciting Violence 101

Thomas Friedman told the Trump kids that they should be ashamed of their dad. I liked that.

It's the same logic that makes me want to spend 5 minutes alone with my shooter, holding him by his shoulders and shaking his silly little frame and yelling at him.  I think I'd feel much better after that.

I don't know if the 5 Trumpkins will feel that way after talking to The Donald about inciting to riot.... or about sticking to the script.
Did you see Mr. Trump on the campaign trail today?  Bombast without screeching is really boring.  Spare yourself the trouble of listening to him; just pick up any of his outrageous remarks and read them in a monotone while staring down at an imaginary podium, on which rests a speech you really don't want to give.

I think the man is truly hoist by his own petard.  Did you know that a petard is a bomb?  Bomb... bombast... am I reaching?
Yesterday's post (well, Tuesday's post, to be precise) engendered controversy and thoughtful comments.  That is my America.  Genuine disagreements spelled out and argued by passionate individuals with disparate views.... with guns, if they are owned, securely locked away because they are not needed.
At best, Mr. Trump's language was imprecise, in Anonymous's words.  "There is nothing you can do, folks" is a statement which assumes a knowledge of the Constitution and the President's role in the Judicial nominating process. That this was followed by boos and head shaking and shouting from the audience belies the notion that his reference to The 2nd Amendment people was a benign suggestion to mobilize political strength.

I think if he had wanted to suggest that unifying power at work, he would have said We or Conservatives or Our Movement.  But he said 2nd Amendment People, and that references guns (and not in a well-regulated militia, either) and that's outside what I think of as the political sphere.
And then, there's Yitzhak Rabin, slain by a Rabbinical student who was radicalized by conservative religious leaders who likened Rabin's peace overtures to the Nazi's extermination of the Jews.  He didn't hear the nuance, he heard the meta-message.

That's my fear.  Not that raging bands of angry, armed, white men will overtake the streets, but that one deranged individual will think he's doing a good deed when he shows up at a political event with assassination on his mind.

I've been there.  Done that.  Believe me, once was quite enough.
A high school friend sighed aloud while reading yesterday's post.  Her six year old grandson wondered why.  She told him that Trump had said something that upset my sweet friend very much. This is what he wrote to me: 
I want to punch Donald Trump in the weiner.

I'm reluctant to condone violence, but I don't want to quash a young knight's wish to ride into battle with my colors in his hand.
I spent the day thinking GRIN thoughts and making GRIN plans and tomorrow is the first day of school and you know I'll be there as you are reading this with your morning coffee, FAMBB, soaking up the love.  Pictures and joy tomorrow.  This day is done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Donald Trump, the 2nd Amendment, PTSD, & Me

I can't wait until tomorrow morning to post this.  It must be said, and it must be said NOW.

It caused me to gasp aloud, cover my mouth, and shriek inside my skull.  The Republican nominee for President of the United States sent me crashing into tears and sweats and No No No No ringing in my ears.  Susan Collins is right; the man shows no empathy.

At a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, this morning, he said this:
If she gets to pick her judges...... nothing you can do, folks.
(Pause. Tilt of the head.  Quick glance at the podium as he turns to the front and finishes:
Although the 2nd Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.
Trump's people can spin that six ways from Sunday, but they can't take away my gasp.  They can blather on about the power of unification but my heart and my brain and my fight-or-flight reflexes were all in agreement - he was wondering if those with guns might use them against a sitting President of the United States.

His people can assure me that he was speaking about the NRA's massive electoral presence until they run out of breath, but I heard it, undiluted, and, I know what he said.  He didn't mention lobbyists.  He said The Second Amendment People.  Am I the only one who conflates that with Those Who Own Guns?

Do I think he really was calling on armed assassins to stalk Hillary's bus?  No, but only because that would require a plan and I don't think there's much chance of The Donald coming up with a plan for anything.  No, because I don't think there's much connection between his mouth and his brain.  No, because if it were a credible threat the Secret Service and the FBI would be all over him..... wouldn't they?

Has he deadened our senses so much that we are able to laugh and take his words, the best words, the really good words, as sarcasm, as a throw away line, as meaningless?  Rational people, the Trump supporters told me on NPR, would know what he meant.

I think Gabby and Mark said it best:  
Donald Trump might astound Americans on a routine basis, but we must draw a red line between political speech and suggestions of violence. Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.
Gabby and I have standing on this issue.  We were shot by a young man seeking infamy, a young man whose passions were inflamed by hateful rhetoric, a young man who had easy access to a Glock 9mm and the bullets that perforated my hip and Gabby's brain and killed Christina-Taylor. 

This is real stuff, Mr. Trump.  I cried.  I sweated.  I shook and am still shaking.  I was having a very nice day until you opened your mouth.  Now, I'm sad.  I'm anxious.  I'm quivering.

You are a blowhard.  You are hurtful.  Your actions shame the party of Abraham Lincoln.  All that is global.  Today, you hit me where it hurts the most.  

It's unforgivable.  

Sharing the Love

GRIN, the not-for-profit foundation I started after Christina-Taylor was murdered and I was shot at Gabby Giffords' Congress On Your Corner event, is intertwined with the Amphi School District.  It was CTG's school district, it's the district which invited me to judge children's photographs, it's the district to which I pay taxes and which educates the people who will populate the world I inhabit.

I have a vested interest in its success.  I'm going to need the doctors and lawyers and plumbers and electricians and clerks they are teaching.  If they don't do well - on both sides of the equation - my quality of life will suffer.  That's the practical reason, but not the most important one.

The average salary in the District is $38,662; it took a state wide election to give them a raise.  They buy their own crayons and stickers and markers and books for the classroom library.  They come early, they stay late, they act as nutritionist and fashion consultant and judge and jury in their free time.  I'm not going near the fact that guns on campus are coming soon to a school near me.....

So, on the Monday before classes start, when there are meetings and planning sessions and time spent putting up posters and name tags and schedules, GRIN brings treats.

I set the alarm, located the schools on Google Maps (and printed it out... which turned out to be a smart move since my phone died on the way to my first stop), and was in my friendly, neighborhood Albertson's by 7:30 in the morning.

Vera, the Grocery Manager, has been collecting goodies for me for years.  She never wants her picture taken; this year she put her associate in front of my lens.

Look at that cart, denizens.

There were lemon creme and key lime and berry pies.  There was a sheet cake and decorated cupcakes, muffins and donut holes and croissants and sweet breads.  There were boxes of donuts and there was a triple layer strawberry shortcake that was just begging to be taken to my house and devoured.

Instead, I loaded the coolers I'd remembered to stack in the back of the Uv, and drove to Rio Vista Elementary school.  There, I off-loaded supplies for 3 elementary schools into the trunk of a college sorority sister; some ties really do bind.  She took them to the central piece of the map, and I drove on to pick up Scarlett and drop off the rest.

Nine schools received Welcome Back to School Love Fest treats.  Nine sets of very surprised and happy employees gave us many more than nine sets of hugs and thanks and blessings.

It was a very nice way to start the day.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Random Thoughts on Watching the Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony was done on the cheap, as the talking heads kept reminding us.  There weren't many props.  The most controversial one was a replica of Alberto Santos Dumont's plane - the first manned flight, according to Brazil.

There's a bit of a brouhaha about that among those who care, but it's their party.

I say, let them have it.
The show's designers explained the philosophical underpinnings of each segment; never have politics been so colorful.

It's hard to smile while watching slavery, depicted with heavy square blocks for shoes and long wooden yokes balanced on shoulders with hands spread wide. But this is Rio, where thousands live in favelas with little sanitation while millions of dollars built one use arenas on the beach, below.
NBC couldn't seem to decide on the best camera angle; all that shifting around was vaguely nauseating.

There were shimmery metallic sheets glimmering and twisting and making shapes and while I enjoyed the occasional view of the dancers within them, I am certain that they looked much better from the nosebleed seats than they did through the lenses of NBC.
The hats were impressive. Fedoras and head scarves, wide brimmed sunhats and khafiyehs, cowboy hats and Panama hats and every one adorned in something brightly colored.  Who knew grosgrain ribbon came in so many colors.

The USA wore Ralph Lauren's POLO brand right on their breasts.  The overt commercialism was hard to watch.  It's the Olympics, for crying out loud, not NASCAR.
Some of the Pacific Islanders were nearly naked and oiled.

Or, as one announcer squealed, "He's so shiny!!!!"
Merdan Atayev, the flag carrier for Turkmenistan, towered over everyone at 6'5" plus that tremendous hat.

Evan Przesiecki

Brazil provided little bicycles to guide each country as it entered, and gave each flag bearer a child holding a seedling.  The little girl next to that very big man made me remember what the Olympic Ideal is all about.

To paraphrase something I heard a lot of that night, it was lovely to watch the world coming together in a time when forces are trying to tear us apart.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

When BlogHer merged with SheKnowsMedia a little more than a year ago, the changes were subtle but meaningful.  As time goes by, they become more overt and meaningful in an entirely different way.  I'm not altogether pleased.  And, although no one asked my opinion on the subject, I'm offering it here, anyway.

After the merge, my ad revenue checks began coming regularly, and with more data on the stub.  $25 every quarter isn't much, but it makes me happy and so, by extension, I was happy with SheKnowMedia.  The ad choices were more varied and the payouts (marginally) larger.  Last year's BlogHer conference was splashier and more vibrant and, perhaps, a little more Hollywood.  Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop website (like me? buy what I like!) wasn't that interesting to me, but Black Lives Matter and Ana DuVernay more than made up it.  

But today, when I should be checking into the Marriott in L.A. for BlogHer'16, I am typing away at my desk in my own library in my own home in Tucson.  I'm not all by myself.  I'm still responsible for all that is usually on my plate.  I won't be collecting swag and meeting old friends.  I won't learn anything new nor will I hear from eloquent bloggers.  Kim Kardashian and Mayim Bialik and Sara Michelle Gellar do not entice me. 

I will learn about coding elsewhere.  I will optimize my SEO's with help from Tucson friends.  I can't replace the swag, but Amster's kids were the usual recipients and, now that they are in middle school, giant stuffed pencils hold less allure.  I will be fine.

I'm just sorry that what was once the highlight of my blogging year is no longer available to me.  It's like losing an old friend.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Women in the Workplace - Feminism, 40 Years Later

She's in the middle of a bidding war for her services.  Two departments in the same institution want to hire her.  At the end of each interview, she was asked to hold off on accepting the other offer until  a competing bid could be presented.  It's a lovely place to be.

We were kvelling about how wonderful she is, about the fabulous future in either situation, about how proud of her I am.  And then I wondered how she would manage to juggle the two.  What would she say to an offer that would give the others time to respond?
Mom, I'll use my go-to response, the party line: "I have to talk to my husband before I make a final decision."
I was stunned.  That was not a response that had occurred to me.
Mom, we're a team, a partnership, and we're in this together.  I'd never make a big decision like this without talking to SIR, and he would do the same with me.
How times have changed.

Forty years ago, I, too, needed a job so that my family could move forward.  I interviewed and accepted the offer and then called my parents and TBG.... in that order.  True, this was before cell phones and I knew that G'ma and Daddooooo were at home and that TBG was in class, but none of that was factored into my decision to accept a paying job on my own, without consulting anyone else.

I think that if I'd said I have to talk to my husband the offer would have been rescinded on the spot. Forty years ago, as women were bullying our way into the professional workplace, independence and self-reliance were more important than family values.  I wanted to appear confident and self-sufficient and capable of holding my own in a male dominated environment.  I certainly did not want to be perceived as needing my husband's approval before I could act.  I certainly didn't want the fact that I was a newlywed to impinge on the hiring decision.

Little Cuter and SIR look at it from a different perspective.  They and FlapJilly are a cohesive team, working together to better their lives.  There are no uni-lateral decisions.  In our why-is-planning-this-wedding-so-hard year, I suggested that she kidnap SIR and elope.
MOM!  That is NOT the way to start a relationship!  There are two of us involved here!
They are equal partners, and they lose nothing by consulting before deciding.  It is an accepted and agreed upon fact that they are equivalent, that they share power and authority.  Consulting a spouse is polite.  It's an integral part of the little community they are creating.  There is no loss of status or respect implied when she says that she must share the decision with her husband.

How times have changed.  No one is asking if her husband will allow her to work (yes, I was asked that).  She asked about work/family balance in every interview (I pretty much had to guarantee that I didn't want to have babies right away).  How times have changed.

As TBG says, our actions cleansed the pipes in the hiring system.
As always, when I write about someone, I check the facts/attitude for accuracy.  Little Cuter suggested that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that she's not sure I covered everything or that I got it all right, but she was too tired to think about it tonight.

So, this is Part One.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Loving Eyes, 24/7

I spent the day watching Lady Jane's oxygen saturation level fluctuate.  She had her second knee replacement and I was her Person.

I answered questions and reminded her to use the breathing device to clear her lungs.  I texted her out-of-town children with regular updates, and took copious notes when the doctors spoke.  That's what a Person does.

I was in the hospital for 11 days, and someone was always there with me.  My job was to heal.  Taking care of business was the responsibility of my Person.

And so, after early morning Pilates so that my body would be prepared for sitting on vaguely comfortable furniture, I drove through the driving rain, left the car with the Valet Parking/Free people, and settled in.

I left at 5, when another Person arrived.  There were many hugs and many thanks and much love in that room.  Lady Jane said it best:
There's nothing like girlfriends.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pants, and the Wearing Thereof

I commented every time she posted a picture of her toddler daughter sauntering through the neighborhood, clad in a t-shirt and a diaper and pink cowboy boots:
Her replies were always a variation on the same theme:
Pants are vastly over-rated, especially when you are 2.
In Miss Adelaide's honor, perhaps, FlapJilly, my very favorite little poy-son, develop(ed) a bad, bad cold. She and her parents spent the weekend inside, having home repair adventures and playing with helium filled birthday balloons on looooong strings.

Apparently, my granddaughter spent the entire weekend wearing butterfly panties.... and nothing else.

Toddler Wisdom:  Pants are unnecessary accouterments and shall not be tolerated.
The talking and tweeting and posting people are all agog over the existence of nude photos of Mrs. Trump.  As I understand it, these were professional photos for a now defunct French men's magazine.  She's pretty naked in the pictures I could find on-line, and I'm sure Mamie Eisenhower is rolling in her permanent waved grave right now, but I don't think that attacking the candidate's wife is an effective assault on Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.
After all, Bill Clinton would have to be Hillary's response.
So, perhaps, we should all take a deep breath and a big dose of Toddler Wisdom:
No Pants.

Monday, August 1, 2016

PsychoSomatic Angst

I was hobbling.  There was probably a moment of trauma, but Pilates and basketball with Mr. 11 and a new massage technique all vied for the honor.  I iced and elevated and tried not to aggravate it and, little by little, the swelling went down and my mobility increased.

I was on the mend.  I wasn't perfect, but I was making progress.  Driving still led to swelling, but I managed to get all the way to the Arizona Daily Star's offices at the opposite end of Tucson with only minor discomfort.  I parked away from the front door, under a shady tree, and strolled through the parking lot and the paper's lobby.  I didn't need to sit on the comfy couch; my knee didn't hurt at all.  I examined the linotype machine and the pictures on the wall and then Brenda Starr came and escorted me to her class.

She leads budding journalists on a summer writing adventure.  They are young and eager and have PRESS badges on lanyards around their necks.  I was there to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly who sought my story after January 8, 2011.  They were there to listen.

And so I told them about that sunny Saturday morning, about Christina-Taylor getting her sweater and Roxanna reassuring me that the kid really did want to attend Gabby's event.  I told them about driving and parking and seeing the photographer and how the world changed in an instant.  I told them about blood pouring out of my favorite skinny jeans.  I told them about holding a 9 year old's hand as the light in her eyes vanished, despite my begging her to stay with me.

I told them about the NYTimes reporter who was late for our interview and got all the facts wrong.  I told them about my friend, Amanda, from the Associated Press, whose calls I always answered.  I told them how Brenda Starr wormed her way into my heart by reminding me that she was the local press. I talked about honesty and intrusiveness.  I talked about loss and engagement and moving on.

Then, I stood up.

My knee was locked, but that didn't surprise me.  My hip was stiff, but that wasn't unusual, either.  I walked down the steps and across the lobby and by the time I got to my car I was bent in half.  I could barely get into The Uv; I haven't been that contorted in years.

The drive home included a stop in the grocery store.  I was so achy that I forgot what I went in for; poor TBG may never get hot chocolate again if one of us doesn't buy milk pretty soon.  But milk was the furthest thing from my mind that afternoon.  I just needed to get home and get comfortable.

Comfort was far from easy to achieve.  I had ice on my knee and pillows on my back and TBG's hands pushing and soothing at my direction and I was still writhing.  I couldn't stand up to cook dinner.  I couldn't find a comfortable position to eat what we ordered.  Stretching didn't help; I could barely manage to get down onto the floor, let alone lie in a position to disconnect from the pain.

I took Bayer and Advil and Ativan and went to sleep... or what passed for sleep that night.  I tossed. I turned. Everything hurt.  My dreams were messy, unremembered but leaving me antsy.  Getting out of bed was an exercise in delicacy and gentle transitions.  Sitting up... one leg down and then... slowly.... the other... putting weight on my feet and feeling gravity arguing with my tendons and ligaments.  It was a sight to behold, denizens.  I'd have laughed at myself if it didn't hurt to jiggle.

I grabbed the foam roller and contorted myself onto the floor. Leaning back, I gently pressed my swollen lumbar spine, willing myself to relax into the stretch.  Easier said than done, but I held on, releasing more and more pressure onto the roller, leaning further over until, finally, my head was on the carpet.

I rolled up and down, slowly, carefully, gently massaging the mush and gush that had accumulated.  I rolled over and used my Yamuna ball on my psoas and the other connective tissue in and around my hip.  The pain went from excruciating-I-can't-move to this-isn't-so-bad.  I could walk almost upright.

This was progress.  I hadn't felt such freedom of movement since I started talking to the students about January 8th.... and then it hit me.  Talking about that day hurts - literally and physically hurts.  I tense up.  Evil juices flow through my veins.  I get hot and bothered and, apparently, so does my body.  As the realization dawned, I found myself standing straighter.  My knee was still swollen, but I could stand on it.  My hip still ached, but I was upright.  A giant breath blew out of my mouth; I didn't send it but out it came, and with it the tears and the rage and the anguish, nearly visible, always accessible, but this time leaving me behind.

TBG says this happens to me every time I am called upon to speak about that day.  He knows I enjoy the talks, so he's never said anything before, but the knowing smile on his face as recounted the other times revisiting that day led to similar consequences forced me to stop and think.

As soon as the roller and my husband had finished fixing my physical aches, I took some time to review the situation.  Obviously, I have more work to do.  Obviously, the pain has not gone away.  Obviously, this is something to be examined and considered.  A plan must be developed; I'll be talking and thinking and writing about getting shot and Christina-Taylor's murder for the rest of my life.  It's a defining moment.  I just have to figure out a way to keep it in my head and out of the rest of my body.

An achy heart can be carried more easily when the rest of me isn't in pain.  I just have to figure it all out.  PTSD... the gift that keeps on giving.