Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 10

I have no pictures; I was too achy to take them.
Your gift for the 10th day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Do you know about Zicam?  Ir's a homeopathic, in oral spray/nasal spray/tablet form, based on zinc. You start medicating the moment the symptoms appear and it stops the sneezing, aches, and general yucks from getting any worse.  
It's been a mainstay of my visit here in Indiana, as a cold reared its ugly head soon after I arrived.  
This particular disease, however, seems to be resistant to improvement. It's been a challenge to keep from hugging and kissing the littlest human, as I try to spare her from contagion.  
It's a leap of faith that she'll stay healthy.  I want to leave her with memories, not sneezes.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 9

I am certainly not in Arizona:

Your 9th gift on the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Dancing is moving to the music without stepping on anyone's toes, pretty much the same as life. (Robert Brault)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 8

Before she became inconsolable at the thought of going to bed, FlapJilly was milking the last bit of fun out of her playtime, including Mommy in her dollhouse fantasy, snuggling with her Daddy for a story, wrapping Grampa in her Wonder Woman lasso of truth, and generally being a delightful human being.  It’s so hard to let go of the day sometimes.

Your gift for the 8th day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Are you as confused as I was about Boxing Day? I spent all day wondering about it. Then, because there are no unanswered questions in The Age of the Google, I found the answer, and I share it with you, for your edification.
It’s an old tradition (Pepys mentions it in 1663) where tradesmen and servants and purveyors of services received Christmas Boxes... what we now call The Envelope.  Apparently, there was no shame attached to ringing the doorbell, hat in hand, and asking for your box.
And now you have another fact to add to your arsenal.
You’re welcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 7

Swanning around in our holiday hats:

Your gift for the 7th day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Little Cuter made this for Xmas dinner. Prep time was minimal. Our taste buds were delighted.
Yukon Gold potatoes chopped into 2” squares.
Lemon zest.
Lemon juice. 
Olive oil. 
Salt and pepper. 
Mix together and roast for an hour or until cooked through.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 5

Eleven years ago, this was happening:
As you read this, I am leaving that golden sunshine and warm winter air for frigid conditions outside and warm and fuzzies inside.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend, whether you are celebrating or just enjoying the general good cheer.  The Celebration tour will continue on Monday, but, for now:

Your gift for the 5th Day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
From a college friend of Big Cuter, a man who walks the walk and shares his light with everyone.  May this be an inspiration to you to ring up your legislators and make your voices heard.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” 
 Matthew 5:14-15

Happy Everything, Day 4

Happy ninth day of Hanukkah.

Your gift for the 4th Day of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
Phone Congress is the simplest way to connect to your elected representatives.  Whether you call to complain or voice an opinion or send holiday greetings, it's also the easiest way I've found to remember where the numbers are stored.

Does it feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, led by the good ole USofA? Go ahead, make your voices heard!  Call those who represent you and scream  You'll feel better about democracy, America, and yourself.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 3

Happy 8th Day of Hanukkah!!
May your year be filled with miracles and light.

Your gift for Day 3 of the 12 Days of the Holiday Celebration Tour:

Princess Myrtle is in Paris, studying accounting.
Wisdom from my French grammar book: "Note: 'the problem' is masculine, 'the solution' is feminine." Worth noting -- grammatically speaking this is fairly unremarkable (nouns ending in -tion are often feminine). Make of that what you will.
I am making nothing of it, because I am not looking for an argument. I will say, though, that after watching the news last night, TBG wondered if we could just give the world over to women for a while. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Happy Everything, Day 2

I'm not a fan of cute animal pictures, but this one still makes me smile.
It reminded me of  FlapJilly, when we calculated her age in hours.

Time flies.
I still smile.

Your gift for Day 2 of the 12 Days of the Holiday Celebration Tour:

"Oh, My God!" 

by Billy Collins
Not only in church
and nightly by their bedsides
do young girls pray these days

Wherever they go,
prayer is woven into their talk
like a bright thread of awe

Even at the pedestrian mall
outbursts of praise
spring unbidden from their glossy lips.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Everything

I can promise only picture posts from now til the new year.  
I will make my phone calls and share my opinion on and   (just substitute the appropriate name and click through to CONTACT) once each day.  
And then I am determined to revel in my favorite time of year, spending it with and thinking about 
my favorite people.  
From my "If there is a holiday we celebrate it with style" family to yours,
Happy Everything!
 I promise to leave you a little gift each day, along with the pictures.

Your gift for Day 1 of the 12 Days of the Holiday Celebration Tour:
To Kill a Mockingbird, the one on your shelf, or in your bathroom, or this one from Amazon.
Then share the black and white movie version with those you love. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

TBG on My Hanukkah GIft

I've never been offered humans before.

It's weird

I've eaten blocks of chocolate and chocolate animals, but never a human.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. 

I want the sweets.

They were the good guys, right?  Are they more or less edible if you like them or don't like them? 

Did you eat Maccabees when you were little?  (I don't eat chocolate; why would I remember that?)

They are people.... (he's eyeing the package)...little warriors with little shields and little beards and plaintive eyes on their little faces.

For now I'm going with the weird.

No offense to you, but those Maccabees are going to remain uneaten for a while.  I do have Hershey Kisses.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Happy Thoughts

Doug Jones fulfilled his childhood dream.

The Cutco rep came by and sharpened all my knives.

FlapJilly's cough isn't keeping her from turning somersaults.

Rolfing has evened out an uncomfortable imbalance in my hips.

Joe Biden called John McCain one of my best friends.

I've bagged and packed and delivered and mailed almost all of The Brownie List treasures.

There are still more unread books on my shelf, some of them in large print.

Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, and the Moody Blues are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The sun came up and I was here to see it.

I love this time of year.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It Must Be Said

I've been trying to rise above the fray, to go high when he goes low, to stay out of the morass and dwell in the light of the season.  I have been fairly successful.  The Burrow has been filled with kids and sweets and stories.  The news has been on for the cold open headlines and nothing else.  I skip straight to the comics in the paper.  I haven't opened the NYTimes or Washington Post apps on my phone in weeks.

But this morning it all fell apart when the latest Trump Tweet popped up on the tv, as TBG switched from ESPN TO MSNBC: 
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
(and would do anything for them)

Innuendo.  Insinuation.  Backhanded dismissal.  The sexual connotations were clear even to my sleepy eyes. 

(and would do anything for them)

She's hardly a lightweight.  Has he just noticed that she's in the ring fighting against Trump (when did he start referring to himself in the third person?) ?   She's been all over the news for weeks.  Is he standing up for his fellow predator, WJC?  Doesn't Hilary deserve her entire sobriquet? 

(and would do anything for them)

I tried all those other responses to the tweet, but I couldn't get past the filthy underpinnings.

This is not how polite people converse.  This is throwing mud and seeing where it sticks.  This is demeaning the office of the presidency.  This is so DJT.

(and would do anything for them)

He and Roy Moore should take a boys trip somewhere together...... far far away from the rest of us.

I am so over this guy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sunshine, Kids, and A Good Book

That pretty much sums up my recent past.

It started with this photo, putting the exclamation mark to SIR's insistence on snow for Christmas.

It moved on to Amster's Cookie Party, with two little girls who are not so little any more, with Mr. 14 towering over me while weighing less, with Miss Texas no longer a young'un.  Time passes and I don't seem to change a bit, or so I imagine until I find old photos, or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. 

I remember G'ma wondering who was staring back at her while she brushed her hair.  I have become my mother.

Undaunted by my furrowed brow, I went out into the bright sunshine, laughing at the football players making snow angels as a touchdown celebration on my way past TBG and the television.  I've had an incredible string of good fortune in the public library of late, and I spent some time on the refurbished lounge chair reading and soaking in the sun. 

Apparently, I, like many older people (yes, the NP did include me as an older person.... sigh), am Vitamin D deficient.  How that is possible with 350 sunny days each year is a biological conundrum, but one the test results were clear about.  So, I sit in the sun as medicine, now.

Yes, I also take a supplement, but I'm enjoying the fact that tanning is now in my best interests. 

I finished Ace Atkins in large print.  I gave stickers to the first graders in the cafeteria after dropping off trays of Amster Cookie Party treats in the teacher's lounge.  I'll go to Mr. 12's first basketball playoff game.  I'll open another of my library treasures when I get home.

Sunshine.  Kids.  A Good Book.  Life is good.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Bring 48 cookies/brownies/clusters.
Take home 48 cookies/brownies/clusters.
Chat with Amster's friends and associates.
Admire the growing children.

It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Amster was prepared with take home containers which she found in her Xmas Storage Bin.
The array was varied.
Some were gluten free.
Some were "no nuts."
Many of them had sprinkles or peppermint bark.
The girls who made these gingerbread men were reluctant to part with them.
I shared their pain, until Mom told me that there were lots more of them at home.
Watching the young'uns pick through the frosted shapes, looking for the most.... sprinkles or icing or size.
There were grown up hands
reaching and walking in an orderly fashion around the table,
delicately placing goodies in containers.
And there were small faces filled with sweets.
It was two hours of laughter and conversation and calories.

I wondered how many cookies were considered too many cookies.
The moms said 2 or 3 or 4.
Mr. 14 said 25.
Mr. 12 said 50.
Is it any wonder that I love those boys?

Tomorrow, offices and schools and freezers will be filled with the goodies we didn't eat with our soda and prosecco today.  Tonight, we're all feeling grateful and full.

I love this time of year.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Feeling the Love - Ignoring Everything Else

Ms K's 4th graders sent me letters.  All of them thanked me for stickers and stories and smiles; some of them wondered why I never came to visit them any more.  Where was I?  Did I go to other schools?  Was I busy?

I was missed in the cafeteria.  Their letters reminded me that, sometimes, I even gave them two stickers each.

As the complimentary closures moved from Sincerely to Love to Your Prince Grandchild, I felt more and more abashed.  I emailed Ms K and a plan was laid.

I spent the morning replying to each letter, paying careful attention to my penmanship.  I plated brownies sized for 10 year old hands.  I put them in my bag, on top of the book I was leaving and the one from which I'd be reading.  I added business cards proclaiming their wonderfulness, found the biggest stickers in my drawer and drove to become their Surprise Reader.

It wasn't much of a surprise once they espied me walking across the playground.  I admitted to nothing, t for inscrutable while trying not to laugh.  But soon I was seated on a table, reading  aloud from Thce D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths  while Ms K displayed the illustrations on the white screen on another side of the room.

The technology was new to me.  I thought they'd have to pass the physical book around. Helplessly, I handed her the book I'd be leaving as I told the class about Mrs. Kleiner, my own 4th grade teacher, my first role model and my all time favorite teacher.  Their letters mentioned the stories I told about when I was a little girl, so I waxed eloquent for a while before I wondered aloud if they knew what the Greek myths were.

"Sure, some of us read Percy Jackson."  

My heart sang as I saw the shy smiles on the faces of those readers; kids who love books are so easy to love back.  We began at the beginning, with an overview and a map (I love maps) on Page One, introduced Gaia, took a detour through Ceres, then jumped ahead to Hera and Zeus and Argus and the beautiful white cow who could spell her own name.  We ended with the Pantheon, their Greek and Roman names in calligraphy beneath golden line drawings.

Did they see the huntress, Artemis/Diana?  Diana... Wonder Woman?!... not the Amazons but like the Amazons... and she's even older than I am left them gasping.  
Which goddess I would I be?  I had to stop and think about that.  I reviewed my options, considered Aphrodite (because, why not?) and decided on Athena.  Wisdom with a sword - I like that.

I left them with the 4th grade version of my elevator pitch on civic engagement - you live and learn here therefore you have an obligation to speak truth to power because democracy is a contact sport so contact your legislators because they can't know unless tell them how you feel.

They left me with a full heart and a happy soul.

Being plugged into nothing more hi-tech than Ms K's whiteboard was a perfect way to spend the day.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Distracting Myself

I left this scene of loving chaos
when the chaos began to out-weigh the love,
and went outside to meet the UPS delivery person.

I took my time coming back inside.

The drippy euphorbia-formely-known-as-pedilanthus has shed its tiny red flowers
and the agave pups have grown up very nicely, thank you for asking. 
Once the winter rains begin I'll move them to their permanent homes in the front yard, 
where they can grow to their full 6 foot splendor.  
Til then, they are protecting the pop of color I bought for FlapJilly's visit.
For some reason, no beasties have munched on the pansies this year.
It's the first time my I'm buying them even though I know they'll be eaten foreboding was for naught.

The tiny cacti JannyLou gifted me last year . 
are hosting some clover-ish petals.
I'd remove them, but those tentacles are covered with glochids.... infinitesimal prickers that pierce the toughest gloves and embed themselves in the soft parts and the knuckles and the creases of my fingers.  Since, by definition, it's only a weed if it's a plant-in-the-wrong-place, I've decided that it's meant to be.

This post is me trying to ignore Al Franken and Jerusalem and the RNC.
I refuse to let the world ruin my favorite time of the year.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Avoiding the News, As Much As I Can

He's smallifying National Monuments, allowing, he says for the biggering of Utah's economy, ignoring the fact that tourism is the state's largest industry, anchored by The Mighty Five national parks and monuments.

He's going after Medicare, lowering payouts to physicians and increasing co-pays.  If you're too young for this to remind you of the difficulty you'll have finding a gerontologist, remember that now there's no incentive to buy insurance if you would rather let those of us who do protect ourselves shoulder your fair share of the burden.

A fetus now has "personhood."  There's no CHIP funding to help finance health insurance for those cells when they are here in the world with the rest of us, there may not be free pre-natal vitamins available as there were under the ACA nor lactation support, but that fetus may well receive some tax benefits.

And that's only what I can write off the top of my head.

I can't watch Rachel Maddow any more; she's suffering and so am I.  Brian Williams's dry humor is, suddenly, off-putting.  Saturday Night Live's cold opening was scarier than it was funny. There's too much sturm und drang for me right now. 

I want to surround myself with elves and Hanukah lights and shiny wrapping paper.  I want to revel in the smell of brownies, fresh out of the oven, imagining the recipients, those I love-and-who-send-me-thank-you-notes-and-are-therefore-on-the-Brownie List.  I have cards that make me smile, holiday specific and generic, peace-filled and colorful.  I have matching pens, too. 

There are baby lizards jumping off the lantana.  Black birds with white primary wings are zipping around, but I can't identify them, though I just spent a few lovely minutes with my bird identification books (Watchable Birds of the Southwest by Mary Taylor Gray, Peterson's Western Birds Field Guide, and the Golden Guide to Bird Classification). 

I'm going to try to avoid the news for a bit.  I'm halfway through Karin Slaughter's latest (The Good Daughter; it's as good as all her others) and there are a few others awaiting me on the shelf.  I have last minute errands (baking powder, snack bags, Penzey's spices for vanilla before the price goes up) and Pilates and a massage.

If that doesn't distract me, I can't imagine what will.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Four Years Ago Today

As she did with everything, my mother died in a most convenient fashion.
In her bed, after I'd tucked her in and told her I loved her and she whisked me away with a brush of her hand, preferring to sleep than to have me stay and chat, she drifted away in the early morning hours.  The Old Folks Home woke me at 5am; my east coast siblings were awakened by me at the civilized hour of 7:30 in the morning.  

A Thursday morning, so that her family, spread far and wide, could travel over a weekend, for a Sunday funeral, missing not that much time from work, spending time playing games and telling stories and agreeing with Intrepid Cat that This is fun.... too bad G'ma had to die for it to happen.

I miss her.  I talk to her (she doesn't usually answer).  I wrote this for her.
Esther Tamara Rukasin Annis

Born February 19, 1923
Died December 5, 2013

A smart, thoughtful, interested and interesting woman.
A loving grandmother and mother and aunt.

She is wallowing in chocolate, Hershey's kisses on the side, 
watching Christina-Taylor jump in mud puddles.
Listen in to the conversation:
"You're getting filthy, sweetheart!"
"It's fun!"
"Come, have some chocolate.... take more... don't be stingy with yourself."

Peacefully,in her sleep, surrounded by her memories and supported by Hospice and staff and family,
she left this world and is now reunited with the woman she used to be. 
Sad but not tragic, her loss leaves a void to be filled with good books, loving children, and more photographs than any family should ever collect in ten lifetimes. 

She will be missed and remembered.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Weekend Spent Reading and Elfing

I finished Lachlan Smiths's Leo Maxwell series on Friday.  I spent the rest of the day baking and organizing and writing and packing and driving to the post office with a big bag filled with goodies.

I read Lee Child's new Jack Reacher novel on Saturday, after a lovely morning of shopping and butterfly garden visiting (where I was greeted by a Prince scholar who remembers me because I give him stickers) and more shopping and driving and eating and driving followed by more baking and writing and a little bit of packing.  Mostly, I sat outside in the sunshine and read, until I came inside and read some more.

On Sunday, completely forgetting the Cornell Club Luncheon I'd been looking forward to for weeks, I wandered an art fair with JannyLou, noticing the very large dogs, buying a garlic grater (which turns out to be an extremely useful and beautiful tool), and finding the perfect ornament for the wooden tree I bought at the Tucson Botanic Garden with Scarlett on our Saturday morning adventure.

I came home to Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke's latest collaboration, and spent the rest of the afternoon following the adventure while trying to figure out who wrote which parts.  There was more packing and writing and driving to the post office, and there will be more baking as the evening goes on.  I'll be looking at the Super Moon and snuggling next to TBG as I finish the mystery and start Michael Connelly's newest series, taking a moment to thank the public library for providing me something tangible for my tax dollars.

Except for forgetting my chance to get dressed up and have a delicious lunch with smart people I really like in a lovely space I'd otherwise never get to visit, it's been a pretty perfect weekend. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

It's Starting

She's always first.
Her packages are secured by multiple layers of his-old-firm's tape; this year I did not bleed while extricating the treasure from within.  
The treasure resides beneath my Tree of White House Ornaments v.2, 
awaiting the start of Hanukkah.  
I'm not mixing holidays on purpose;  this just seemed like the logical place to stash a pretty, small, heavy box.  We're a blended, all mixed up family, sharing our celebrations in all directions.  It's The Holiday Celebration Tour and we take and make our pleasures where we pleases.

Besides, were I really looking for correctness, I'd bring my desert outside inside, since Bethlehem looks more like Tucson than Germany's Black Forest.  But it's not about religious or historical symbolism to me; it's about memories and smiles and the notion that TBG's colleague has been sending us these ornaments for decades.  
I needed two trees to display them.

We are in the interregnum, the extra week granted bakers and shippers and shoppers when Thanksgiving comes in the 4th not the 5th week of November.  I feel like I should have more time.  Yet there it was, her box, sitting on my front doorstep, alerting me to the beginning of The Season of Frantic Mailing.  

Everything is in place.  It's just a matter of starting.  Tonight is the first of our holiday-dinners-with-friends.  I'll be bringing brownies.  I'd better start baking them now.