Friday, March 31, 2017

A New Landscaper

It reminded me of going to a new hair stylist.  I know it will grow back, but I am damn nervous, even before they start.

I've struck out three times this year, trying to hire someone to tend to the major tasks while I tackle the minor pruning and planting.  When the Arizona Daily Star ran this quote
“My guys work hard for their money,” she said. “I couldn’t in good conscience not pay my employees at least enough to get by on,”
 I made a mental note of the business.  When I read further, and saw this:
“If it becomes a problem where I have to raise prices, then I’ll raise prices,” McBride said. “If some customers don’t want to pay me more for the great work we do, then I don’t need those customers, frankly.”
I knew I had to call her.  She was delighted to hear my story, delighted to send the estimator (her husband) and delighted to have a crew at my house three days later.  Yesterday was the day, and my heart was in my throat.  They unloaded chain saws and rakes and hoes and containers with curious coloration.  I tried to stay out of their way; they knew what they were doing and they wanted to go about doing it without interference from the lady of the house.

The lady was having a hard time staying quiet.  No one has every pruned my trees without my direct supervision; imagine my surprise when my Texas Ranger went from a bush to a tree without my consent.  It looks fine with the lower branches trimmed off so that the agave it was hiding is now exposed to view, but I wish someone had asked me before they went to work.

There's no mistletoe in the trees and there are no wildflower/weeds/detritus on the ground.  The prairie dog holes and the bunny holes and the snake holes and the spider holes and the various other beastie holes took one man 2 hours to rake smooth.  They'll be holes again in no time, but for now, they are covered with gravel and the yard is pristine.

It's odd to write about the garden without taking pictures, but it doesn't feel like mine right now.  I have to go out and get used to it before I can capture it in pixels.  Like with a new haircut, it's going to take some getting used to.  The bones are good, it's all just a little too short right now.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

For The First Time, On the Big Screen....

It was Science on Screen day, and Tucson was one of the location pins on their map.  Dr. K and Not-Kathy and I were unaware of the date when we agreed to accompany TBG to a big screen showing of his childhood favorite, Forbidden Planet..

A migraine kept him home, but he reassured me that my presence at home, while always welcome, was not necessary for his survival.  One kiss and I was on my way to The Loft .

(This the only theater I'm comfortable visiting; I've convinced myself that mass murderers are too self-involved to notice an art house.  Please do not try to dissuade me from this position; I'm comfortable with the absurdity.)

It was clear and cool and after the carpool rush; I breezed across town, coming in a slightly longer but much less congested way, smiling as I realized that I was figuring out a back way into town, reveling in the feeling that Tucson is home.  I backed into a parking space under a bright lamp on a pole, grabbed a Blue Moon and a bag of free popcorn (a perk of membership in The Loft) and took seats on the aisle.

I scanned my neighbors, noted the locations of the nearest and furthest exits, shared my popcorn and Poor TBG chit chat with my dates, and then settled in for The Loft's coming attractions.  1984 has a stellar cast but do I really want to be that depressed? Deconstructing the Beatles....singing along with The Sound of Music.... Not-Kathy and I were filling the month of April with movie dates.

The lights went up after the Science on Screen promo film.  Chris Impey, UofA Astronomy guru and all-around delightful speaker took us on a PowerPoint trip through the confluence of movies and space.  It costs just as much to make a great blockbuster film as it does to send humans into space, or to build the telescopes to explore space, and every person in that theater felt Impey's outrage that only 12 people have ever walked on anything other than the earth.

We took a deep breath as we heard that our film cost $2 million to make, when that was real money but any time we might have spent pondering inequities in the distribution of the world's resources vanished when the curved credits came on the screen.

There are 19 men and 1 woman on the planet, and Anne Francis told NPR that it was the most fun she has ever had on a film set.  Before he was Lt. Drebin, Leslie Nielsen was the main love interest on Altair 4, the spark to Walter Pidgeon's Shakespearean renunciation of the id, freeing his daughter as he dies in her lap.

That's if you were paying attention to the plot.

Most of us were admiring the colors and the campy humor and the 1950's faux-sexual tension and bopping and swaying to the MOOG and its electronic tonalities, for which Louis and Bebe Barron won an Oscar in their own private once ever awarded category.

It's fun, it's deep if you need it and simple if you want it, and, of course, it has Robby the Robot

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The 10-Second Deal

I left TBG home to deal with the painting company.  They've worked for us twice before, the last time 5 years ago, before The Wedding.  He had the file with the old invoices close to hand.

Door bell rings, right on time.

TBG opens door, smiles in recognition as the painter does the same.

"Same deal as last time?" he asked.

"That works for me," husband replied.

It took longer to write the check than it did to close the deal.

Somehow, I never have that kind of experience.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


SIR took us to the Studebaker Museum.
It was shiny and it was colorful 
and there was something for everyone.
She carried the tires and brought Daddy the ratchet and they added oil and fluids before they went for a drive.
The grown ups not tending the child wandered through American history, following an immigrant family teetering on bankruptcy while making goat carts
 and sleighs
until one brother returned from the California Gold Rush, ready to invest in the family business the fortune ($8,000) he'd made.... building and selling small wheelbarrows to the miners.  
The Studebakers created cars of surpassing elegance
often decorated to within an inch of their lives.... like the wheels of this fire engine:
The museum was mostly Studebakers, but there was this Hispano-Suiza, Phrynne Fisher's car, sitting smugly beside the mannequin.

There was so much to stare at.  There were big fat tires
and fantastic colors
and elegantly shaped rooflines.
There were fins
and more fins
and there was sheer elegance.
There was the original kiddie car
and there was the carriage in which Mr. & Mrs. Lincoln rode to Ford's Theater that night...
which stopped us in our tracks, too moved to take a picture, standing respectfully in front of the most impressive vehicle of all.  

Monday, March 27, 2017

Butterflies to the Rescue, Once Again.

Last night, the sun set like this
but TBG and I were hard pressed to take our eyes off the book Little Cuter created.  The Grandparental Invasion - March 2017 is filled will hugs and love and smiles.
Our basketball pools, decorated by the stickers FlapJilly put on her dog and her father and her Gampa,
are totally busted, but the hearts and the minions and the Minnie Mouse polka dots allow us to smile as we cross off another team.  The love is there, but the girls are not.


I needed an antidote - and Scarlett and the Tucson Botanical Garden's butterfly exhibit came, once more, to the rescue.  The exhibit receives shipments of chrysalis every three weeks; there's always a new specimen to examine, like this one, who flew right past my nose to land on the hibiscus leaf.
From the side, he's perfectly camouflaged.
There were blue ones and big-eyes-on-the-wings ones and then this new one, with round wings and straight wings and striped wings.  It's hard to see all the pollen on the front of his wings and he flew away before I could maneuver myself into a more favorable position, but believe me when I say that there was an orgasmic quality to his rest.
The warmth and the humidity make the flowers happy, too.
They may be in the nursery next week.
I'll be waiting.

Friday, March 24, 2017

David Maraniss was interviewed by the lovely young reporter whose boots appeared here once before.  He's written books on Barack Obama and Roberto Clemente, on Detroit and Bill Clinton and Vince Lombardi.  He's an editor at the Washington Post (in his spare time?) and spoke eloquently about covering tragedies and of humanity's need to feel it.   
I wrote the words in my notebook before I took the microphone; I asked the first question of the afternoon.  How do you balance "humanity's need to feel it" with the intrusion into the lives of those who are the actors in the tragedy?
Some in the audience met my eyes and smiled the smile that says I know who you are, and I took that loving feeling in as I bathed in the warmth of his answer, words said slowly, after a pause:
You cradle them in your hand.

The best of the reporters TBG and I encountered did just that; I wish I had met Mr. Maraniss when I was in the drama.  His advice - Find the universal in the particular - was every PTA mom, every playgroup member, every soccer practice family who heard about Christina-Taylor and me and said  That could have been you with my child, or me with yours.  
He was perfect.

And then there was Amy Dickinson, America's long-winded Ann Landers for the 21st Century, whose column often ran longer than the news articles in the AZ Star, before the editor (who was forced to confess her sin to the final questioner) decided to limit her to one question per day.
She, like all the others, left her stuff on the chairs in front of me.  We exchanged meaningless pleasantries and then she was on, acting like my sister on a good day, smart and sassy and full of wisdom.  "In these times, it's really important for us to stick together and to stay connected," felt as comforting as she meant it to be; her kindness won us over after two sentences from her book.  

Though we chose to hear the happy part rather than the sadder section of the two she offered us, in the end she began to read about the day her mother died.... and she had to stop, to catch her breath, to compose herself.  The audience was quiet, unmoving, with a low rumble of it's okay ohhhh sniff underlining the moment.  As a fellow shootee sitting at my feet and I agreed, it was a quintessentially Tucson moment.

And that's the ultimate take away from the TFOB  -  it draws those moments out of talented people from everywhere. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tucson Festival of Books

Saturday morning, an hour before the first session of the first day of the TFOB, I was comfortably ensconced in the front row, feeling somewhat lonely.
Forty five minutes later, I was feeling the crush.

I listened to Tim Stellar and Joe Conason discuss covering the news in the 21st century.
"It's much harder to print fake news in a print paper than on-line," Conason said.  
"They get most of it right most of the time."  
His advice to the media - "You don't need to repeat every nonsense tweet" - seemed like a delusion, television being the ratings driven business that it is.  But the man used the word tendentious, a lovely, rarely used word, and for that I can forgive a multitude of sins.  

Before I left for Penelope at The Rogue Theatre, I shared a moment with Ron Fournier.  During his love story about his relationship with his son, he shared a fact I know is true:  Michelle Obama is the best hugger!

Sunday morning, bright and early, I sat in the front row of the Science Tent, not ten feet from Dava Sobel, author of the science books I love the most.  Planets is in my powder room.  Gallileo's Daughter, writing from her convent, has sat on my shoulder since she was published in 1999.  
There's a Cornell connection, too; she said that writing for Cornell Science was her favorite job.
I listened, star-struck, and delighted.  I chewed on my Kashi Bar, enjoying my breakfast with her.
It was kinda perfect, denizens.

I had lunch, I wandered through the astronomy exhibits (did you know that the first grad students in astronomy at Harvard were women?) and learned about planets from another Cornellian, finishing her doctorate here at the UofA.  I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Arizonal Daily Star's Main Tent.  You'll have to come back tomorrow to read about that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Antidote to the Pain

John Oliver is right.  We all need some Brazilian Zebras to brighten our days.

What, you wonder (if you didn't watch Sunday's edition of Last Week Tonight), am I talking about? Since 2005, the city of La Paz has employed people to dress up as zebras and bring kindness to the craziness that is traffic in the city.  They beg, they plead, they dance, they fling themselves before on-coming vehicles so that pedestrians can cross safely - all while looking like this:

Image result for smokey the bearImage result for mcgruff the crime dogNo, there are no real zebras in Brazil.

Yes, the program provides entry level jobs for recovering addicts and others on the margins.

No, they do not speak nor do they remove their heads while on duty.

Yes, they are Brazil's answer to McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear; kids love them.

The green screen image has been graciously provided to the video-producing public.  The zebra makes Trump's presser with Angela Merkel less awkward:


Sean Spicer's defense of the indefensible becomes a watchable piece of television when his tie begins to dance:
wingard entertainment

TBG and I were drowning in the swamp of Manafort and The President stands by his tweets.  We were staring at FlapJilly's face on my phone's wallpaper, missing our littlest girl with aching hearts.  We were travel exhausted and couldn't concentrate on anything remotely serious; even A Thousand Clowns was too much for my brain to handle.  

As John Oliver so plaintively cried - Why didn't we know about this until now?

Try it.  I promise that it will help.  Nothing else seems to do the trick.  Reality is trying to ruin my day already, and it's only 8 o'clock in the morning.  I'm going to watch some zebras and get back on track.  Look for The Burrow early in the morning tomorrow.... if I can tear myself away from these


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Too Little, Too Late

Sprawled on Douglas, drinking bottle after bottle of water to counter the altitude headache returning home sends my way, looking at pictures of SIR and Little Cuter and FlapJillly on my phone, I was, once again, screaming at the television.

Where were the replays of the ridiculous Sesame Street parodies of Donald Trump during the campaign?  Why was the outrage over his untruths muddied beneath worries about calling a lie a lie? Why did Katy Tur stand before an empty podium for hours, waiting for the candidate to arrive while Hillary Clinton was giving a fact-filled speech? Why? Why? Why?

Where was the press three years ago when this outrage began to be perpetrated on the American people?  I'm quite impressed with their current outrage, but, I fear, it is too little, too late.

Listening to the attendees at the President's campaign rally last night, it is clear to me that they don't care about the facts.  They are responding to the emotion.  They don't trust, they don't believe, and the Commander in Chief (uh, North Korea... China... the world is imploding, sir) is feeding the frenzy instead of paying attention to the world around him.

It's March, 2017, for crying out loud.... who else is running in 2020 and campaigning today?

Is it a tempest in a teapot?  Not when you listen to Adam Schiff make the case for impeachment.... at least that's the way it sounded to me.  Reasoned, careful, thoughtful, fact-filled..... and terrifying.

In exchange for ratings, the media gave prime time exposure to a clown.  He was everywhere, and I admit that I, too, was fascinated by the performances.  It never occurred to me that 45% of my fellow Americans were believing the drivel.... and that they would vote the fool into office.

Since he's golfed 9 times in less than 100 days, I don't think that he thought they'd do it, either.  He's in over his head, and moving Ivanka into an office on the 2nd floor of the White House won't do much to ease our pain.  I asked her to do something about her difficult dad back in October, and she ignored me.  Like Angela Merkel, I wonder what a handbag designer is doing in a policy meeting.

I understand the lust - Republicans own three out of three branches of government and they are reluctant to show cracks in the cement.  But, just like Big Bob's new driveway, when cracks appear they need to be addressed.  And this is not a crack, this is a fissure.

As we were trying to keep our eyes open towards 10pm, Rachel Maddow told us that The Guardian reported that Rex Tillerson (our stealth Secretary of State, the one traveling without the press corps) will be going to Russia instead of to NATO this spring.

If this is doubling down to drown out the criticisms, it's at best misguided and at worst a public admission of collusion with Putin.  Insult the German Chancellor, accuse the British intelligence community of illegal activity, snub Justin Trudeau..... I think I may just have to search the interwebs and find the videos the Russians have on DJT.

Our media shied away from the story, because it was leaked, because it wasn't verifiable, because because because..... Now, they are falling over each other, reporting that the US was considering employing the author of the report, extolling his credentials, repeating some but not all of the information.

Was it out of respect for the man?  Out of respect for the office?  Out of fear of retribution?  We will never know.  But the failure to expose the fact that the emperor is naked as a jaybird lies squarely on The Media.  The mocking videos were out there during the campaign.  The lies should have been called lies when they happened, instead of parsing the words to use to describe them.

Sean Spicer cannot be trusted to speak the truth.  Donald Trump cannot be trusted to speak the truth.  The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and the media is doing too little, too late,

When the leaks investigations begin, I want to see all those reporters sitting in cells, refusing to name their sources.  It's the least they can do for showing up so late to the party.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Travel Day

Bye-Bye Babies.... parental units and offspring.

Bye-Bye Trolls and dance parties and giggles and hugs.

Bye-Bye cloudy skies and stomping on snow and walking Thomas the Wonder Dog.

It never gets easier to say goodbye.......

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hanging Out on St. Patrick's Day

More serious musings next week. For now, I'm salving my heart with smiles like these. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It Is Hard To Fathom

(Apologies for the late posting; having grandbaby funis quite distracting!)
During nap time yesterday, TBG and I watched the news.  We've been on a diet of Trolls and Jeopardy while visiting; Little Cuter, wisely, shields her daughter from the President of the United States.

I've been pondering that fact while watching my brilliant granddaughter tell jokes and wonder What's This? and Who's That?

It's obvious to me that the kid could recognize the President.  It's also obvious to me why my daughter doesn't want her to do so.  The judge in Hawaii knows why, too, and took pains to point out to both the President and the rest of us that words matter, that hatred cannot be hidden behind a cloak of safety, that religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution and no one man can change that fact.  

How could you possibly explain all that to a little one, even one as smart as mine?

So, my granddaughter is growing up without knowing that DJT is running the country.  She is protected from the vitriol but is also missing out on happenings in the real world.  True, she's not even three years old.  She has plenty of time to learn.  But SIR and Little Cuter are so good about including her in the conversation, so careful to ease her into childhood from babyhood with a full complement of personal and interpersonal skills, to teach her all that they know and more, which makes it all the more striking when they ask that the tv be turned to a less poisonous person.

This is the President of the United States we are silencing, and I'm having a hard time disagreeing with their decision.  Spouting hatred, untruths and half truths, preening before adoring audiences (who, like most auto workers, have their insurance paid for by their employer) - none of that has any business in the mind of my little FlapJilly.

I guess I'll have to console myself with the fact that she is living in a world where the Cubs are the reigning World Series Champions.  A girl can't have everything, now, can she?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

TFOB Footwear

The shoes told the story.
The Arizona Star reporter wore her work-a-day cowboots
as she sat on the high stool, interviewing the author.

The author, shiny shoes on the left,came to town from New York City.
The Tucson based interviewer has dusty sneakers.

And then there was Amy Dickinson, of Ask Amy fame.
She came to town from upstate New York, and her short heels were perfect with her tan tunic and pants.  They must not have been very comfortable, though.

Monday, March 13, 2017

We are leaving sunshine and temperatures in the 80's
and the blooming wildflowers
for snow and temperatures in the 30's and this
The love will keep us warm.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Walking With an Angel

I was peeved.  After a lovely morning at home, I'd donned sneakers and a loose t-shirt, organized a water bottle, downloaded a podcast, and drove over to Christina-Taylor's path.  After walking nearly two flat miles with Not-Kathy on Monday, I was ready to tackle the 3.2 mile roundtrip along the Canada Wash.

Unfortunately, the construction on the nature preserve piece of CTG's park requires truck parking in the tiny lot; a Parks and Rec employee informed me, with no small amount of attitude, that there were no spaces.  She told me to leave.

I made a u-turn, with steam coming out of my ears.  Can't they park on the sidewalk or the open space? Can't they use the Community College lot across the street?  It was 70 degrees and sunny, citizens were out on bikes and trikes and horses and feet and who was she to tell me that I couldn't walk with my little friend's hand in my heart in the morning.

Did I mention that I was peeved?

I drove, aimlessly, considering traipsing to the path from afar and rejecting the thought as I drove through the lot.  I steamed and I stormed and I found myself driving east on Magee, across Oracle, without a plan until I remembered that there was a trailhead at the end of the road.

I drove.  I parked.  I organized my water bottle, plugged in my headphones, turned on a podcast, and set out.  I walked through the underpass, admiring the graffiti. I passed the huge houses and the spring wildflowers poking through the dirt.  I negotiated the smaller and the larger boulders, using my Smart Water bottle as a 1/4 sized hiking stick.  Up and over and on and on I went, until it occurred to me that, no matter how much fun I was having going up, I was going to have to do back down the hill I was climbing.

Sense overrode desire; I turned around and, slowly and carefully, deliberately and cautiously, I descended.  As I went, I thought about the fact that I was ill-equipped; I had no poles, no companions, no hat.  The terrain was unstable and I was wearing Nikes not hiking boots; the difference in traction was noticeable as the smaller stones became lodged in the grooves of my shoes, scraping against their brethren and minimizing the connection between my foot and the ground.

It was an adventure.  I was enjoying the air and the scenery as my heart was trying to stay calm and my feet were trying to stay under me.  Back through the underpass and arriving at The Uv, sitting comfortably in her parking space, I unhitched my fanny pack and collapsed into the seat.

And then, it hit me.  I'd taken a hike.  I left the house to walk as far as I could on the smooth, gentle incline of CTG's park, and I ended up climbing over rocks and sand and cacti.  I didn't fall.  I didn't hurt.  I wasn't all that frightened.  I couldn't stop smiling.

Needing to share the joy, I called Little Cuter.  I recounted the story, and her response was immediate and just a little teary.

"Oh, Mom.  That is so beautiful.  Christina took you there."

Of course, she did. It took one little girl to remind me of another little girl's presence, that's all.

She was with me as I drove to her park and it's obvious that she was not going to let anything as trivial as a parking space spoil our adventure.  Never one to wallow in self-pity, she was a doer, a problem solver, a smiling individual who knew that the answer to misery was action.  And so, inserting herself into my angst, she led me to a path where I'd passed her and her family many times, where they'd posed for a holiday picture, where I could prove to myself that, in fact, I don't need a flat, paved path in order to move in the great outdoors.

I can hike.  Christina-Taylor showed me that I can.