Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I refuse to let Donald Trump ruin my birthday.

I'll be back tomorrow with thoughts.  For today, enjoy FlapJilly's slo-mo jumping.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Doing Good

This, apparently, is My Plate.
It's the newest incarnation of The Food Pyramid. 
Every school child listening to our Nutrition Expert knew that.
I felt very old, especially when I realized that I was the only one who noticed the voices on the television during her entire presentation.  
She engaged the kids, though, and that was as important as engaging the adults.  They acted out bran and germ and carbohydrate to demonstrate the beauty of whole grains.  We had fun with those My Plate stickers, affixing them to their appropriate sections.  
Yes, I said, I did want a mask
although the Brussels sprouts were my first choice.

 And then, there was the forklift.
The youngest member of our group looked through the door into the warehouse and raised his hand.
"I want to ride on the forklift!"
"Oh, we all want to ride on the forklift,"  our docent sighed.

It is that kind of place. Respect is the first item on the ubiquitous values posters; it's on display in every interaction.  Clients are greeted as they enter, offered assistance in navigating the carts and the lines and the paperwork, and everyone is smiling.  It's hard to ask for help, we're told.  
It's easier when people are kind.
Amster and I shared a special smile as we were told how Gabby used the money that people sent to help her after a tragedy your parents can tell you about to help those who need more than food.
The kindness continued out to the benches with hearts
near the tented area where home gardeners sell their produce and the even bigger shaded playground.
We walked through the demonstration gardens
past the chickens
and along a path
paved with
 the most wonderful memories
and wishes.
Through the warehouse for an overview, before it was time to get to work, we trooped.  
The building is vast, organized, and filled with busy, purposeful, badged humans and random donations
from food drives at schools and churches
and foodstuffs donated by grocery stores
and wholesale distributors.
Volunteers go out into the community to harvest grapefruits and oranges and lemons and limes from homeowners who cannot possibly consume (nor pick) all the fruits hanging on their trees. They, along with farmers' extra inventory, also make their way to the warehouse.  . 

Some of the cans are dented or past their expiration date.  Some of the produce is too mushy.  But nothing goes to waste.
The farmer comes and picks up the detritus (except that which is so awful that it goes to nourish the compost piles) and returns, as he can, with pork products the Food Bank can distribute. 

Waste nothing.  What goes around comes around.  There is so much to learn.

The random cans and bottles are separated from the softer bags of rice and boxes of cereals.

and are then separated by category.

Different sorts of food boxes are created for different sorts of clients, thousands every year.
Pallets of foodstuffs are delivered to distribution centers and pantries all over Southern Arizona.  
Staff and volunteers work inside the warehouse and out in the community.
Want to establish a vegetable garden in your backyard?  They'll send a team out to install one.  They've done hundreds of them.
The goal is to shorten the line between you and your food.  Backyard-to-kitchen is perfect.

Today, Amster and her boys and Mr. Baseball and I were tasked with the rest of our group to package harvested grapefruits in plastic bags, being sure to toss the too soft fruits and those with holes all the way through pieces into the compost bin.  

In true assembly line fashion, we each had a specific job.  Some selected the fruits, some bagged them, some tied the bags.  Someone had to separate those stuck together grocery bags for easy grabbing by the packers. That was a task which could be done while sitting on two stacked plastic crates; I raised my hand and hobbled over.
Our bags of opened bags went over to the assembly line to receive 2 large or 5 small grapefruits.
The teenagers giggled 
and the younger kids were quite serious and then our supervisors gave us the one minute warning. Our shift was ending.  
We did 15 hours of work today; that's two days of a staff member's time our leader said.
He thanked us for freeing up staff for other tasks.
He escorted us to the door and, a little after 3 o'clock, we five were back in Amster's car, on the way home.

I could have gone to Rep. McSally's Town Hall and tried to pin her down on something. That was my plan until the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach made me reconsider my options.  Lady Jane suggested that I trust my gut. I made sure there would be security (thank you, Rep. McSally's staff, for reassuring TBG and me so quickly last night) and I wanted to see democracy in action and I didn't want the shooter to take this from me, and I'd made a small amount of noise about attending, but, in the end, I just didn't want to go.

Doing good made me feel much better than tilting at windmills or facing my demons.
I spent time connecting with others while making the world a little bit better.  
That's what I do best.
I think I'll leave the public displays of intention to others for a while.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Just a Little Teary - A Snippet

FlapJilly is being promoted.

She's leaving the world of The Two's and crossing the parking lot to The Three's.  Her first friend at school moved over a month or so ago, so she'll have a familiar face in unfamiliar surroundings.  The play equipment is bigger and more challenging and the curriculum is less pre and more school.  She's ready for the challenge, and her parents couldn't be more proud.

And then Little Cuter and I exchanged the glance that said it all:
OH, Where has my baby gone?  
It's a mixture of joy and yearning and overwhelming heart exploding love.... and it left us both just a little bit teary.  She's such a big girl now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Misrepresentation of Fact

This is the only one I could find.
Yesterday, I waxed eloquently about the items I retained from the kids' childhood.
I said that I had kept Little Cuter's trolls.
I did not.

Although I could swear that I saw them in a box, with the striped jacket Kathy-The-Babysitter made for one of them, when I went to pack them into a box for FlapJilly today they were not there.

Now, did I lie?
No, because in my heart I truly believed what I was saying.  
Was I truthful?
I thought that I was, but apparently I was not..

Is this an alternative fact?
No, because I know, now, that it is not a fact.
It is a figment of my imagination.

Is it a misrepresentation of fact?
Probably, although that was not my intention.

The difference is that I am acknowledging the error and accepting the opprobrium which is rightly due me for writing that which is not true.  I'm not trying to create a phrase to cover my mistake. 

Please, accept my apology.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Do You Still Have My Trolls?"

After a tough morning at the pediatrician, replete with a flu shot that really hurt a lot, FlapJilly and Little Cuter plan to retire to the couch this evening. Apparently, trolls have made a comeback, on the big screen and in toy stores. They are streaming on home tv's nationwide, including that of my little girls.

I missed this development entirely.  It's only because I've been organizing our storage that I knew the answer to her question.

I saved everything.

I have cardboard boxes of various shapes and sizes, labeled with memories of The Cuters' childhood - Construx, Leggo, Brio, Dinosaurs, Playmobil.  I have boxes and bookshelves filled with the literature of their youth - Ramona and Black Beauty and Christopher Robin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next generation to listen to them as read-alouds.  I have Little Cuter's small glass animals and her pog book and yes, I have her trolls.

There is much to be shed when one moves, whether up-sizing or down-sizing.  Too small and too big everything, broken anything, that which has not been touched since last I moved.... gone.  The Cuters' elementary school artwork was a lot harder to leave behind, but, over time, I've whittled it down to the most interesting or useful pieces.  I've never found a doorstop I love more than the one Big Cuter created after what must have been a most interesting nightmare.  I use Little Cuter's ceramics class sushi plate as the soap dish next to my bathroom sink.  The Bride and Big Cuter created a finger painting when they were 3 years old; it has adorned every garage wall since then.

Going through collections and books and mementos was more difficult.  Candles were used rather than stored.  Tests were tossed, reports were read and removed.... well, you get the idea.  They are big kids now; I'm keeping only that which means something to me, or which my grandchildren will enjoy.

Hence, the trolls.

I hoped that she would bring the kid here to play with them, and she did say that I could bring them and give them to her myself, but I can't wait to see her face when she opens the box so I'm bringing them to the post office in the morning.

Yes, I still have your trolls, and the clothes your babysitter made for them, and though I'll send the objects your way, those memories will always be nestled close to my heart.

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Want a Doughnut?"

There were a dozen of them on the counter.  TBG bought them, in part, because the original plan for the day included Mr 11 and 13 and the lifting of heavy boxes in our garage. He thought they'd like the treat after their work was done.

But it was cold and rainy and none of us wanted to be in the garage so I took the boys home and returned to a white cardboard box filled with that-which-I-cannot-resist.

Glazed.... powdered sugar.... cinnamon dusted... cake or air puffed up nearly three inches high... doughnuts are my nemesis.  Like Ado Annie, I'm just a girl who cain't say no.

He's done this before, brought irresistible treasures like these into my house.  Yes, my house.... my kitchen.... because the smell of them permeates every room and I have no where to hide.  This time, I decided to take matters into my own hands - I ate one as soon as I saw them.

It was perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  

Unfortunately, there were 5 more just like it, sitting there in all their sugary splendor.  I forced myself to flee the scene.  I was safe, for the moment, at least.  But all afternoon, as I wrote postcards and unpacked groceries and made dinner and got fresh bottles of Perrier they stared at me.  Through the cardboard carrier, I could feel them calling me.

And so, this afternoon, when he got up with Want a doughnut? from beside me, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  

 Yes, yes, oh yes I want not one but a dozen doughnuts.......

Friday, February 17, 2017


"I'm not ranting and raving... you're just dishonest people."

There's a Russian intelligence ship 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut and the President's (fired) choice for Director of National Security lied to the FBI and nobody seems to be minding the store.

Peter Alexander wondered what to do when the President, after reviling the media for presenting Fake News, presents as fact that which is demonstrably untrue.  "The leaks are absolutely real.  The news is fake because so much of the news is fake," may make sense to the Commander In Chief (pause... catch your breath.... I know.... I know...) but it wasn't much help to anyone else.

Alexander Acosta, nominee for Labor Secretary, wasn't at the press conference ostensibly called to announce his selection.  MSNBC's Kasie Hunt couldn't get a Republican member of Congress to admit to having watched the press conference, let alone appear on camera.

For fifteen minutes, the news was all about the press conference, until another in the series of certainly-illegal-but-highly-entertaining leaks coming from the intelligence community or the White House or long-time civil servants or Obama staffers or aliens from one of the 60 new planets discovered by Kepler appeared.  At this point, the fact that Gen. Flynn lied to the FBI hardly seems to register on my bizzaro-meter.

I'm going to spend the next few hours mourning the loss of the Monopoly thimble.  It's only an existential loss; we've been playing with scavenged Parcheesi pieces for years and I see no reason to invest in a new version and this is exactly the antidote to the news that I need to get through the rest of the afternoon.

Remember how the judge on SNL wanted just one day without a terrifying news alert from Washington?  Right now, I'd give anything for a full hour without fear.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Deja Vu All Over Again

"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

I've been trying to hold it together, immersing myself in reading aloud to kindergarten kids,  but I've had enough.  The New York Times is not fake news.

You can argue if Flynn was a rogue actor or if the President has any idea what a two-state solution actually means or if Jeff Sessions can possibly oversee an impartial inquiry but one thing I cannot countenance is calling The New York Times fake news.

"Don't do anything you wouldn't want printed on the front page of The New York Times" was Daddooooo's mantra.  When The New York Times ran a bold headline that fact was reported by other outlets.  Having your wedding or death reported there in anything other than a paid advertisement signified something.... I'm not sure what, but it was something.  A friend counts their publication of his Letter to the Editor as a milestone achievement in an otherwise quite successful life.

Everyone makes mistakes and there have been errors and there is certainly a bias but please, Mr. President, do not call The New York Times fake news.  You grew up in New York; you should know this in your bones.  As a 6th grader on Long Island, my Uncle Abby explained "yellow journalism" to me by reading the New York Daily News and the New York Post aloud. They were not The New York Times.

Besides, while we're obsessing over who's running the asylum, the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  I wish I felt confident that someone was actually in charge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentines at Amphi Middle School

It started out neatly, on 4 cafeteria tabletops.
That didn't last long.

There was happiness.

and there was seriousness

and there was silliness.

They worked alone.
or together

and some shared a bench
and inspiration
There was candy
and there was love
(please note the foam press on earrings)
and there were lots 
and lots
of balloons.
As I was leaving, I stopped to hug Miss Levine and to admire this last heart of the day.
Happy Day After Valentines Day.