Monday, July 31, 2017


MOM, Be Careful!!!
They weren't happy that I was up one level.
I was pretty pleased with myself, however.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Look Into My Eyes

And sometimes it seems as if she is looking into my soul.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

How about you, you, you? You can come too, too, too.
Yes, we're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo.
First, we had to finish breakfast, a plan facilitated by Grandpa's spooning the oatmeal into the face.
Again with some help from Grandpa, 
socks and shoes were added, with FlapJilly supervising.
We drove to the zoo, paid our admission fee (their family membership requires a photo id), rode the little train around the periphery of the exhibits, and made straight for the goats and the alpacas 
and the miniature donkeys.
It took two quarters to release ten tiny pellets of appropriate food; FlapJilly had no fear of being bitten or otherwise touched.  She fed them until I ran out of money.

Then we went to the playground in the zoo.  It had big slides and little slides and slides in the sunshine and slides in the shade.  One try on the big and sunny slide was quite enough for the grandkid.  "It's very hot there."
Calling Grandpa once again, she located a cooler, twistier, longer slide,
and spent the next few minutes congratulating herself - "I did it!" - as she climbed and slid and climbed and slid, over and over and over again.

After a brief stint as a Princess in the castle (Belle.... Elsa.... all the princesses)
and making some meals (and some friends) in the little house behind her, we rode the carousel (No pictures, Gramma!  Hold me!) dophin until Gramma was just a tad nauseous, and then we hit Panera for some mac and cheese.  Or, as they say in the nearly-3-years-old-universe, mac-a-noonoos.

She's napping.  Grandpa's napping.  I'm not far behind.
It's hard work, being a little kid.
Hard work, indeed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Travel Day.... ALL DAY

The least expensive way to get from our house to FlapJilly's house includes a ninety minute drive to Phoenix.  Allegiant Airlines flies out of Mesa Gateway Airport, off to the side of the megalopolis.  A one-way ticket takes a passenger directly to the tiny South Bend airport for as little as $72, if you catch the sale on the right day.  You pay extra for everything  - a reserved seat, a bag in the overhead bin, early boarding, soda or chips or pretzels or lunch - but the planes are new and the seats are comfy (if you aren't too wide or long), the flight attendants are helpful and friendly, and the planes are always on time.

The down-side is that the planes fly between those two cities only on Monday and Friday, and the flight to South Bend leaves Mesa at 7:30 in the morning.  So, today, we set our alarms for 3:55am and were in the car by 4:15, TBG at the wheel.  I navigated us successfully to the parking lot, we found a great spot, shaded by a tree, and we shlepped the suitcase through the pouring rain to the terminal.

I took off my shoes and walked barefoot; suede and water are not a good combination.

There's an Arrivals/Departures display right inside the doorway.... and it did not share good news.  For the first time since we've been traveling this route, there was a problem.  Our plane would not be leaving at 7:30.... the board read 11am.  Discovering this at 6am was quite unpleasant, to say the least.

And so, we waited. The plane which was to take us had never left Pasco....and don't feel bad if you've never heard of Pasco, because no one else had ever heard of it either.  Apparently, it's a tri-city area in the state of Washington.

We waited. TBG stretched out over several empty seats and napped. I read The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, my go-to on the Kindle when I have time to kill but no appetite for a story.  We waited and ate and waited some more.  We didn't have little kids to corral or an appointment to make, so we were relatively sanguine about the delay.  But it kept getting longer and longer.

Finally, the plane arrived, passengers exited, we entered, and I turned off my phone.  When we landed, safely, three hours later, I turned it on again to find that Allegiant had sent me two $50 vouchers via email.  No explanation.  No apology.  Just $100 in my inbox.

All of a sudden, I didn't feel all that bad about the delay.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Happy (almost) Birthday, FlapJilly

I'm on my way to pay obeisance to the loudest Princess I know.
courtesy of JPetersenPhotography

I'll keep you posted on our adventures.

If you need more verbiage, here's where I was three years ago, just before she was born.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I'm Just Wondering

Thanks, Little Cheese, for alerting me to the fact that this had yet to appear!

I've tried to come up with an explanation, but I can't.  It's a question no one has asked.

Believe me, between the New York Times and the Washington Post and the various on-line aggregators I bring to the table, and the televised talking heads of all descriptions who are TBG's companions most of the day, we hear and see it all.  What we miss generationally, Big Cuter is happy to provide.

Still, I seem to be the only person who is wondering, and that makes me wonder why I'm wondering... and why they are not... and who are they, anyway.

Obviously, Mr. Trump knew that he'd be seated next to Mrs. Abe; he brought a Japanese/English translator to the G-20 dinner at the center of the latest kerfuffle.  Didn't anyone wonder about the rest of the seating arrangements?

Who decided that it would be a good idea to put Melania Trump next to Vladimir Putin?

There are so many questions that fall out of that one.  Did the Trumps ask for it as an excuse for the bro-mance between the boys to continue in public?  Was the G-20's Social Secretary having a bit of fun?  Did Vlad the Bad make a request?  

Why am I the only one who seems to care?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How Am I Doing? A Progress Report

This is a tale of a splinter, a pool, and a hip.  

I decided to swim as my aerobic activity.  Sunscreen applied and soaked in, I wrapped my robe around myself and stepped onto the coir doormat.... and a pricker made itself at home in the sole of my right foot, the one that lives below the bullet holes.

I hobbled over to the pool, descending gently on one and a half legs.  I soaked and poked and prodded and pulled but success eluded me.  So I swam my laps, got my heart racing, cooled down, and hobbled back and found my tweezers.
I sat down, crossed my leg, and confronted my lack of flexibility. 

On the steps in the pool, in the water, I could bend enough to examine the situation.  On land, trying to open out into cobbler pose, I was an utter failure.

On a chair, with my ankle resting on my other knee, I tried to look at my wound.  I failed.  I sighed.  

I took a deep breath, entered my Pilates Space, folded my ribs and bent my spine in a gentle curve.  Slowly, steadily, with oppositional energy flowing between my hip and my rib cage, I lifted myself up and over.

And then, there it was.  

The sole of my foot was available for minor self-surgery as my hip groaned and creaked and cracked and made all kinds of unusual noises.  Remembering my RIC physical therapist's admonition to Assess the threat value of the sensation, I recognized that although it was weird and loud and scary, it didn't hurt.  Since she'd reassured me that I was incapable of doing further damage to myself unless I fell off a building, I kept pressing out and down and tried as best I could to ignore the cacophony.

I pressed, I pulled, I tweezed... twoze? ... and I was splinter-free with my hip turned out to a position it hadn't assumed since I was perforated, six and a half years ago.  It's been a long time coming.  I'm very glad it's here.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Stating The Obvious

I'm watching Republicans telling me that Obamacare is failing, that there are counties with no insurers, that premiums are predicted to rise 30 or 40 or 50 percent.  Our President is gleefully blaming the failure of the exchanges on his predecessor.

There is so much duplicity, it's hard to know where to start.

The iconic image of an Insurance Guy starts and ends with boring.  Actuaries love the predictable; they make money by betting on the likely outcome.  They factor in every teeny tiny variable before they decide that you ought to pay them $684 every month.

Right?  No one disagrees thus far?

So what happens when the Federal Government can't decide how much of the rug they are willing to pull out from under the system?  Insurers pick up their policies and go home.

It's obvious.  Why can't they say so?  Is it because, after 7 years of complaining, they didn't have a plan to repeal and replace the ACA written and ready to go?  Seven years is plenty of time, even in Washington.

And where are the Democrats?  If ever there were a time to be working on the fixes, necessary with any piece of major social legislation, it is now.  Since nothing is being legislated in public, I hope that the work is being done in private.  When the dust settles, I want a reasonable offer on the table.  

However, I don't think that now is the time to be talking about it.  I agree with Woodrow WilsonNever … murder a man who is committing suicide.  The Republican Party is doing a fine job of imploding all on its own.  

It's too bad that real people are being affected.  As a screenplay, it's fabulous.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Speaking Truth to Power... Or Trying To

OFA and Indivisible and Planned Parenthood all wanted me to visit Senator Flake's office to weigh in on health care.  Then I heard President Trump threaten to fund a campaign against my Junior Senator because he's not yet come out in favor of the BRCA.  I was ready.

Under overcast skies, I drove down Oracle, put on my turn signal, and waited at the divide for the traffic to subside.  Waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then I noticed a big guy in a bright yellow shirt standing in the middle of the entrance to the parking lot.  He was going to be smashed by The Uv unless he stepped out of the way. I checked and my turn signal was blinking away.  He had to know I was coming his way..

The traffic eased and I hit the gas.  He moved just enough for me to get through and raised his hand as I drove in.  I braked, rolled my window down just a bit, and heard him ask Can I help you?

No, thank you, I replied.  I didn't need help.  I knew exactly where I was going/

Why are you here? he wondered.

I swallowed my rage; it's a public parking lot, with a credit union and professional offices and there's never been a security guard questioning my existence before.  I smiled through gritted teeth as I said, To see my Senator.

Why? Are you here to protest?

I'm here to see my Senator.

Oh.  Okay.  Park in the back and when you are done, leave the premises immediately.

What if I were here to protest?

I'd ask you to park off the property and stay on the public street.

I drove on, found my OFA contact on a bench outside the office, and I loitered for a while.
I made my comment, had my picture taken for a We Were Here collage, and talked about the major protest that the owners of the property feared.  None of the organizations with which we connect had announced any plans to converge; OFA was scheduling people for 10 minute segments throughout the day, but that was all we knew about.

Something struck terror in the heart of the Senator's landlord and he hired polo shirted protectors for his tenants.  Poor fellow.  All he got for his efforts was a stream of white haired voters expressing their opinions in the context of civic engagement.  There was not a screamer or a rioter to be found.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Bad Things Are Easier to Believe

A high school friend texted, wondering when we'd see one another again.  She's out on Long Island and I'm in the Sonoran Desert; it's not as if we can drive to the diner and catch up.  We have a stronger connection now than we did then, distance not-withstanding.

We renewed our teenage friendship at our 40th high school reunion, eight years ago.  Bob Iger was there (he was voted Most Enthusiastic by our Senior Class, back in 1969) but none of the boys I cared about attended.  Not my 9th grade boyfriend, who ditched me when he invited Roomie to the Spring Dance.  Not my Senior Year Boyfriend, who slept around that summer, while I was in Europe.  Not My Best Friend, with whom I played Connect Four for hours on his bedroom floor, with whom I exchanged five page, hand-written letters all through college, whose wedding I attended, and who I haven't seen since.

I have those memories stored at the top of my brain's Things To Think About box, directly below the tests I struggled to complete, the invitations I didn't receive, and the birthday corsages I missed. It's a pile of unhappiness, and I don't understand why it's still so present.

I haven't been in love with that short, blonde, smiley face for 54 years; how can it still hurt this much?

Do you do that to yourself?  Do you stockpile the hurts and the slights and your own misdeeds, taking them out for a stroll every now and then?  Sometimes they are brought up indirectly; the corsage memory came from watching Van Heflin in Kid Glove Killer last night.  Some of them live close to the top all the time, butting into an otherwise lovely afternoon, reminding me of being left out, alone, unloved and unwanted.

At least that's how it felt at the time.

Zoloft helped with some of it.  Ativan comes in handy, too.  But the newsreel of my life, passing on a continuous loop through my head, seems to trip over the times I listened to G'ma and Daddooooo fight, over the slings and arrows of teasing and bullying and wanting what I didn't know how to get.

That's really the crux of the matter.  I wasn't happy with what I had.  I wanted more.  What it was, I didn't know.  I just knew that it wasn't what I had, right then, in that place, at that time.

It was 50 years ago.  It feels like yesterday.  Julia Roberts was right; those bad things have staying power far beyond their worth.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Reward

I began to clear off my desk.  It is now possible to see the actual desktop... in some places, at any rate.  The remaining piles are a more neatly organized incarnation of the previous disaster site.  Everything that is out needs to be there, at least for now.  Trust me, it's true.  I know it may not look like it's true, but it's true.

The pile of comics need to be framed; they won't get wrinkled sitting on top of that stack.  The crayons go to Prince Elementary School; they'll melt if I put them in the garage on the Prince Shelf, and if I put them in a drawer I'll forget about them.  The stack with the smiley faces is for FlapJilly's birthday, the save the date card and Paul Ryan's home address (700 St. Lawrence Ave, Janesville, WI 53545 if you want to drop him a line) are reminders of actions to be taken, and I'll admit that my excuses become a bit more feeble as you get further from my chair, but, as I said at the start, it's only a beginning.

As a reward, I'm fleeing the scene.  I'm going to read a novel and go to Pilates and not think about the mockery the French are making out of DJT's love of pomp and circumstance, not think about laughing when the MSNBC talking head said that Donnie Junior "is just stupid,"  not think about anything but the blue skies and the (relatively) cooler temperatures and the amazing lightning storm last night, not think about how weird the word lightning looks... not think about anything at all.

Have a wonderful weekend, denizens.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Signage - A Snippet

Yesterday it was 30 degrees cooler than it had been the week before.... and it was still stinking hot.
There is barely any traffic on the roads, so my eyes were free to wander.
There are lots of churches along the routes I travel; their signage serves as both landmark and amusement.
They are also sources of information.
In case you think that is a typo on the screen, look at the permanent, stone markers below it.
I do love precision.
I am tempted to take them up on their offer and check them out.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Remember DJT's 400 pound guy sitting on his couch?  The one who hacked the DNC emails and tampered with our elections?

Maybe he wasn't made up out of the candidate's imagination after all

Maybe The Donalds were sharing a laugh about the guy from the Miss Universe pageant who was offering up information on Hilary.

As I type this, no one knows what The President knew and when he knew it.

In this bizarro world, it's easy to believe that Rob Goldstone was exactly the character DJT had in mind.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bonjour, TBG

It's that time of the year, again.  TBG arises before the sun and watches young men flying up and down mountains on quarter inch tires, their knees pumping efficiently, their fans cheering wildly.  It's the Tour de France, and he doesn't miss a moment.

Do you know a cyclist?  Do you know a serious cyclist who has not had an accident?  Everyone we know who cycles outside has a story - the road rash kneecap that is permanently freckled with asphalt that cannot be removed, the tire track on her leg from the SUV that crashed into her tandem, 37 stitches repairing a face transformed into hamburger, fractured body parts ranging from the pelvis to the shoulder to the skull, and all those concussions.  That's just my immediate family and friends, and I'm sure I've forgotten some of them.

Needless to say, TBG doesn't ride outside anymore.  We are not looking for any more surgeries, any more rehab, any more blooded people. He misses the speed and the scenery and the adventures, but he's more than satisfied with the safety and security of a stationary bike in the gym.  He's cycling 250 miles a week, indoors, with no risk of falling.  He gets his fix on outdoor cycling during the Tour de France.

If I want to be with him, I'm watching it, too.

It's not an onerous chore. NBCSports has invested more money in their coverage as the years have gone by, and the production values have soared.  The Live Production TV website says it best:
The core of the race coverage is the use of five high-frequency wireless cameras on motorbikes, two journalists reporting from motorbikes, and images captured from two helicopters with Wescam gyro-stabilised camera systems. The five cameras on motorbikes capture the drama and beauty of the race from within it while the helicopters cover the race and also capture much of the beauty of the French countryside that is such a large part of the production. At the finish line nine additional cameras are in place to capture the dramatic reactions of racers finishing stages and during time trial stages and like the prologue in Liege, hard-wired cameras are placed on the course. Also new this year is a camera mounted on the Tour de France race director’s car.

Are you feeling Trumpian this morning?  Did you skip that italicized block of print because it's too dense and there are no pictures?  Here's their graphic explaining it all:

I'm not sure I'd want to be the guy hanging on the back of the bike, hoisting a heavy camera on my shoulder:
And what does all that technology bring us? The beauty of the French countryside is part of it.
So is the action.
All those cameras on all those cars and motorcycles (yes, we wonder if smelling exhaust fumes is the most efficient way to cycle in first place) give TBG up close and personal lessons on positioning and power.

There's strategy, like how to make a sharp left turn, 100 meters from the finish line, in the rain, and the commentators describe it all in excruciating detail.  It's a good thing they are skillful.  Phil Liggett (play-by-play) and Paul Sherwen (analyst) have been calling the race together for 32 years, and they are very, very good at it.  They speak the languages, and pronounce the names of the castles correctly.
There's camaraderie and intelligence and every once in a while a phrase will make us smile.  When's the last time you heard someone talking about a situation coming to fruition?  They are weaving a story as we watch what is essentially a very boring sport - spandex clad men whose knees go up and down and up and down and up and down.... except when they are going sideways
I've learned a lot, too.  I've heard what it's like to be in the middle of the peleton, the large group of cyclists following the leaders.
I've learned to read the graphics on the screen, to recognize the significance of the special shirts,
and to appreciate the teamwork involved.  It's still too hot to go outside here; I'm getting my outdoor fix from the tv this week, with my sweetie by my side.  It's not a bad way to spend July.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Putting Myself in Time Out

Miss Levine, my favorite kindergarten teacher, would tell unruly five year olds that everyone needs a moment, now and then as she was escorting them to a seat in the hallway, with a book and a hug and a smile.

I took my own moment this weekend.  I unplugged from everything except FlapJilly on Facetime.  I watched no talking heads. I read the newspaper, but only the light-hearted and personal pieces.  I caught up on the comics.

I read a novel and did a crossword puzzle or two and I cooked with yummy veggies and fresh artisan bread. On Saturday, because Scarlett and I had agreed to watch Sam Elliott's moustache together, and on Sunday, because Brenda Starr and I had a date to play games and eat crepes in the morning, I left the house.   There were no prolonged good byes; it was too hot to stand in the parking lot.

And so I spent a lovely weekend; the only problem I encountered was running out of lives on Candy Crush Saga.  I wrote no letters, signed no petitions, called no elected officials.  I expressed no outrage.  After all, everyone needs a moment, now and then.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Romantic Composers

In June, amidst surgeries and heartaches, Scarlett and I spent two blissful hours each Thursday listening to snippets like this:
You can listen to it the way her audiences did; just turn it on in your living room.  She preferred playing to small groups.  Close your eyes and imagine her fingers dancing over the keys, while Johannes Brahms sits in the corner, slyly smiling.

Did you know he was such a good looking young man?

Neither did I.  I'd only seen the scary old man pictures.

Tannis Gibson, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the UofA, showed me a side of the composer hitherto unknown and unconsidered.   She talked to us about the interpersonal and the technical, the instruments and the times, the performances and her own experiences. 

It was a magical month.

She shared her favorite performers, and sometimes I recognized the music:
Listen past the scratchiness; it's from 1938.
Imagine the fingers floating.

They were all there, those who turned the world of Classical music in a new direction.  Chopin and Brahms, the Schumanns and Liszt, Felix Mendelsohn and Fanny Hensel ... what, you haven't heard of Fanny Hensel?
Don't be surprised, we talked a lot about the treatment of women, too.  At the same time that women abolitionists here in the USofA were told to stay off the main stage, were told that females speaking in public was inappropriate, so in Europe were these talented women relegated to smaller, more intimate, more appropriate venues.

It was a month long immersion in a world I rarely visit.  Thankfully, I have a list of suggested listenings (of which these are just a few) to keep me company until my next journey into the unknown.  I'm definitely an old dog learning new tricks.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ranting and Raving

I haven't done this for a while.  There's a lot that's stored up.  Feel free to come back tomorrow if you don't want to spend the next few minutes being aggravated with me.
When did it become appropriate to take your foot off the gas and coast to the red light, even when that red light is three blocks ahead?  Being in the left lane (aka the FAST lane) only exacerbates the problem.  While you are saving a teaspoon of gas, I'm missing the opportunity to enter the left turn lane before the sensor goes off, thus missing my green arrow.  What you've saved in coasting, I've used in idling.

Net net, we both lose.
How is it possible that members of the public mistook NPR's line-by-line tweets of the Declaration of Independence as attacks on the President?  The line which drew the most outrage, according to, was this: A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. 

That was said about mad King George, so, perhaps it is understandable that NRA supporters saw the shoe fitting and were defending DJT's right to wear it.
How can Circle K's gas prices differ so widely across my town?  

Up here, on the Northwest Side, where land is available and the roads are 6 lines wide, where we are unincorporated and have no local government closer than the county to levy a tax, regular gas is ten cents more expensive than it is downtown, on the approach to the highway?
And then there was the news.  Steam was coming out of TBG's ears.  He couldn't believe how easily the commentators were letting DJT off the hook.  His tweeting (about Mika, but that was just the last straw in a week-long tweet storm; it could have been anything) was reprehensible, it was unPresidential, it was demeaning the office, it was embarrassing the nation, it was sexist and disgusting and the world needed to hear his opinion.

So, he spoke, I typed, we tweaked and three days later, on July 4th, in the prime real estate of the bottom right corner of the Letters to the Editor page of the Arizona Daily Star was this:

We are grandparents. We are are Americans. We are patriots. From all three perspectives we are disgusted by the President's ad hominem tweets. Bullying is never okay. It is an abuse of power, and the greater the power, the greater the abuse.
TBG and AB

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Oops.... I Forgot

I had a lazy day, read a book, swam, lifted weights, made a yummy dinner.
What I didn't do was blog.

Hope your day was sparkly and wonderful!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July

(reprise edition... yes, you've read it before)

The sky is pure blue, "painted that way" as G'ma said every time she looked up.  The occasional fluffy white cloud drifts by, and I'm hearing G'ma remark on that, too.  The flag in front of the house is swaying, the pole attached to one of the front columns with thin, silver wire.  

It's an elegant solution to TBG's reluctance to put holes in his house;  I feel like Daddooooo every time I wrap another ring around the post. 

Daddooooo was big on flags and the 4th of July.  We always went to the beach.  We always stopped at Custom Bakers in Long Beach on the way home, where the bakers always let us go back and stick our fingers in the vats of frosting. 

We always went to the boardwalk as the sun was setting.  There were skeeball games and mechanical fortune tellers and the smell of the ocean, too black to be seen but too noisy to go unnoticed.   We practiced our ooohs and aahhhs all afternoon, and we were in fine form by the time the booms and the bangs began. 

Through it all, the flags were flying. 

There was a big one in the bracket beside the garage door, until the house was painted and further holes were frowned upon (is this some kind of male thing I just don't get?). A pole-holding-tube was sunk into the flower box, and while it was neither sturdy nor attractive, it did the job and as far as Daddooooo was concerned that was that. 

There was a plastic flag attached to the car's antenna, and all our bicycles had flags on the handlebars. 

I'm not letting the tradition fade away.  Happy Fourth of July,denizens! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

My America

I saw this
and I was disgusted.

I saw this response tweet from Mika
and I giggled.

Then I remembered this
and I realized that I, too, have been sucked into the morass.

I miss the Obamas and their ideals.
I'm going to try to live up to them.
After all, this is my country, the land that I love.
I won't participate in its denigration.
I'll try to keep my head up, my thoughts positive, and my energy engaged.

That's my plan, and I'm sticking to it.
On this 4th of July Weekend, I'm rededicating myself to the inclusiveness that is My America.
I'm off to buy more sweets from the Syrian ladies,
 recent immigrants trying to establish themselves as bakers.  
This is My America!