Thursday, May 31, 2018

Racist Tweets -Another Snippet

Some of my news was consumed with what to call it.

Some of my news had people of color decrying it.

Some of my news applauded Bob Iger (my high school classmate) and some mentioned Wanda Sykes and some mentioned Channing Dungey.

Sinbad told Roseanne not to hide behind It's a joke.  "You said it, you own it.  Get behind it. It's yours."

But the drug company she blamed for scrambling her brain said it best - Racism is not a known side effect of Ambien.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Happy Boys - A Snippet

One grew up near Cleveland.  One grew up near Oakland.  The rivalry has always been intense.

One tries to be supportive, while not-so-secretly cherishing the belief that his team is superior

One knows that the only person he might consider a legitimate challenger to Michael Jordan in his personal pantheon is, right now, the best person playing basketball, anywhere on earth, and is leading his hometown to the Finals.

I sit on the couch, supportive of both, invested in neither.

They rant and cheer and groan and encourage and despair and coach from the sidelines.  I crochet.

There is no basketball until Thursday.  For these next few, blissful days, both my boys will be happy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Furthest Place I've Ever Been

Daddooooo's parents wanted to send me to Israel.  My mother refused to let me go until they sent my older cousin first.  Her parents did the research, sent her away, she returned in one piece.  That was good enough for G'ma and Daddooo; they signed me up without doing much more looking.
I had a boyfriend.  I had a brand new license and a brand new yellow Austin America and I was a high school graduate.  Did I want to go?  Not really.  But how could I say no?  So, I went.  Flew to Amsterdam (there were bunnies on the runway as we landed) on Sabena Airlines, which gave each of us a travel bag - promptly renamed Sabaga Beans.  Anne Frank's House, the edges of the Red Light district, the canals and then trains to Zurich and Milan and Rome and Florence, probably not in that order.

We went through Germany, not France, because the French were refusing to deliver fighter jets the Israeli's had paid for and the organization running the tour would have no part of spending any dollars in France.  So, twenty Jewish kids changed trains in the middle of the night in Karlsruhe.  None of us spoke German, there was no Information Please person to ask, and no clue beside which of the several-in-each-direction raised platforms our next ride would arrive.  

Hours passed.  It wouldn't have been so bad if Juden wasn't on the lips of the more-than-you'd-expect-there'd-be-in-the-middle-of-the-night passersby. We sat very close together, except when one of us would run to see where an arriving train might be headed.  I spent the nigh wishing that my parents had done more checking about Teen Tours.

There was a sea voyage to Greece and then another to Israel.  Mediterranean Blue was my favorite color until I saw Lake Tahoe.  

Neil Armstrong would walk on the moon while I was traipsing across the Israeli desert.  Did I recognize the importance?  Hardly.  I was  trying not to fall off the side of a mountain while wearing strappy sandals.  Should the Israeli guides have told us to wear sneakers?  Probably.  They also should have told us to bring lots of purified water, not the carbonated orange drink which usually sustained us. 

That's my most vivid memory of the furthest place I've ever been - clinging to a mountainside, loose gravel and slippery sheets of stone beneath my pretty-but-useless sandals, a rocky crevasse to my immediate left, my mouth totally dry (from fear?  from thirst? from saying Oh No Oh No Oh No over and over again?), and being pissed as all get out that they had taken us there so unprepared.  

Then the path widened and flattened and broadened into the most beautiful valley on the planet, a valley filled with goats and a lovely lady who greeted the disheveled, hungry, thirsty kids with pitchers of goats milk. We drank with reckless abandon, then rolled down the rest of the hill like kindergarteners.  

That was the thing about Israel - there were soldiers with guns everywhere, hitchhiking and taking the bus and standing on the street corners, but they were all Jewish.  So were the policemen and the garbage collectors and the politicians.  That feeling, of being one of the many, is my second most vivid memory.

There were funny things - standing on a crowded bus, a tiny human squished between curvy, unrestrained-by-undergarments women who neither bathed nor shaved their armpits. There were amazing things - walking right into Mayor Teddy Kollek's office in Jerusalem, catching him in the middle of a pastrami sandwich lunch.  He put down the food, hugged the strange American girls, and helped us find the items we needed for our Teen Tour Scavenger Hunt.  True story.  

Letters were the only way to stay in touch, and G'ma wrote to me every single day.  I took dozens of rolls of film, and there are but two pictures of me, both atop suitcases waiting to go someplace else, neither of which has any identifying characteristics.  There's no way to verify that I was ever in Europe at all.

I came home to no boyfriend, a mother who sent my high school yearbook photo, the-worst-ever-I-can't-believe-you-did-that-without-asking-me picture, to the Freshman Pig Book (ah, yes.... more on that sometime), and two weeks before I left to go to college.  

Re: the prompt - it felt VERY far away the whole time I was gone.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

Drastically revised this year,  the first iteration of this post appeared in 2009.  
I used to march in the Memorial Day parade. I was dressed in my Brownie uniform, and then in my Girl Scout uniform - replete with those embarassing anklets. I wore them because the troop leader said we couldn't march without them, they were part of our official uniform.  Marching was too cool to pass up.  I wore them and bore the scorn.

All the school bands marched too, and the moms on Benjamin Road provided the materials and the labor to make the capes the high school kids wore. There must have been a military presence there, but I didn't pay enough attention to notice. I was marching and I knew that, all over America, other kids were being Americans and marching, too.

I belonged.

In Marin, the Memorial Day parade was always good for a controversy or two. Or three. Should the anti-war protesters walk alphabetically in the main march, or have their own march, or walk 50 yards behind the official march? I especially liked this discussion: should weaponry be allowed?

That was fairly disingenuous even for Marin.

There were bands at this parade, too, and with Bobby Weir as the Grand Marshal you know the music was worth hearing, especially at the picnic in the park afterwards. Not exactly your typical VFW-sponsored event, but no one was complaining. It was Memorial Day; there had to be a parade and a picnic and a coming together as Americans.

I've got the flag G'ma bought us for a housewarming present, which replaced the one Dadooooo got us in Chicago.  I'll wear the tie-dyed tank top the Cuters and I made early one July.  I'll remember the fallen and recommit to doing everything I can to make this country worthy of their sacrifice.

We have a long way to go, but I have confidence in the future.
"We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For"

Friday, May 25, 2018

Kindergarten Graduation

I received this several times.
Of course, I went.

People dressed for the occasion.
They positioned themselves strategically,
maximizing their views and their viewfinders.
There were a lot of cell phones, each of them zoomed in on one very special child.
There were lots of balloons, too, like these which appeared next to me, as if by magic.
Just three minutes behind schedule, the Rising First Graders marched into the cafeteria.
They stood in their assigned places,
for the most part
(Hey, they're 6 year olds.)

There was the pledge and the Mustang Code of Honor.  There was an alphabet song and a counting song and a goodbye to kindergarten hello to first grade song and then it was all over.  The grown-ups were asked to wait until the scholars left the building before they traipsed across campus to collect their charges.

I left the parents and teachers to their newly minted Big Kids, holding the door for a few of them at the end of the line.  They were filled with big smiles or shy grins, a First Day of Summer Vacation spring in their steps.  Next year and Grade School were far in the future.  Right now there were sweet treats and balloons and backpacks filled with their name tags and awards and final projects and items from the lost and found.

Grandma Suzi added to their bounty.
After all, I received a written invitation.
I had to bring a gift.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Princess Myrtle, Jeff Flake, and Personal Responsibility

Princess Myrtle was, no doubt, in the audience as my lame duck Senator smiled his way through a truly terrifying speech about a democracy in trouble.

He must have assumed that there were no Trump supporters in the crowd, or else he didn't care.  After all, he had a platform.  It didn't matter that he might be hijacking somebody's graduation for his own self-aggrandizement.

Of course, he reassured them, we'll get through this.  How can he be sure?  He's leaving a position of great power, not bothering to run as a non-Trump conservative Republican in this red state.  It felt fairly crass of him to exhort those new lawyers to take action when he has done absolutely nothing to stop the moral vandalism he decries. 

He could have been a Howard Baker, a Republican Senator willing to stand up to his party's President.  Instead, he turned tail and ran.  He left Arizona without meaningful representation in the upper chamber.  He opened the primary to a host of would-be-Trumps, setting up a very interesting election season. 

Asking others to take personal responsibility while abdicating it yourself - that might be the motto of our current crop of politicians. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Spring Carnival at Prince

Once again, GRIN was at the Spring Carnival.
The teachers put on the whole show, with the help of high school and adult volunteers.
Everyone shows up.
Everyone has a good time.
There was a Dunk Tank,
and NO the teacher was not thrilled at all.  

There was face painting.

 There were simple games.
 I was fascinated by the duckies in the baby pool.
 The high school volunteer was sooooooo patient.
 The scholars were wary, but interested.
 The toddler looked on, sucking, silent, taking it all in.

There was a raffle.
There was cotton candy and there were hot dogs and there was soda and water.
And, there were nachos dished out by Phil-the-Wonderful-Grinner and Grandma Suzi.
The cheese was melted in crock pots, since the nacho dispenser takes much too long to heat up.
We filled small styrofoam bowls with chips, ladled on the cheese, and offered jalapenos on-top-or-on-the-side.  

There was lots of time to chat, for me to introduce Phil-The-Wonderful to the kids who hugged me.  We practiced introducing Grandma to Mommy and Daddy, concentrating on eye contact and a firm handshake.  I made plans for the tomato plant to go home with Olivia, the 4th grader who's been tending it this semester.  Her parents were delighted to meet the woman she keeps talking about at home.  

They talk about me.

I took that home with me and cuddled with it all night long.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Happy Birthday, Little Cuter

Though you are hardly little any more. 

You are a grown-up.   A college graduate.  A homeowner.  A wife.  A mother.  You've mastered every step along the way, with color coded files in easily accessible binders, with tables of contents and the answers to all the questions that might arise.

You love your routine, though you are not stymied by it.  Knowing where to be and what to do and when to do it simplifies your life.  I've learned to stand back and watch it work..... most of the time, anyway.  It's hard to be still, to refrain from offering suggestions, to point out a simpler method..... but you know that.  You're a Mommy yourself.

I listen to FlapJilly describe her own "golden curls, like Rapunzel"  but insist that her hair "is black, like Mommy's" when I offer her a yellow crayon to finish her self-portraitHer rueful expression when describing the impact of her impending big sisterhood - "babies cry a lot" - is the same one you had when Murphy-the-Wonder-Dog ate your underwear.  "Whatcha gonna do?" it says, with a little bit more sense of love than regret.

Acorns and Oaks and all that.  She's her own person, but there's a lot of you in there, too.

The part that zips her own jacket, though she's only three?  You learned to tie your shoes at the same age, in the back seat of Daddooooo's Oldsmobile, in the twenty minutes between Rockville Center and Oceanside.

The part that picks her own clothes and accessories, adorning herself with the right amount of swirl and glitter and color?  You would run back upstairs to change if I noticed that all the pieces of your outfit matched; you preferred stripes with plaid and would have none of that but it all goes together so nicely pleading.

The part that jumps high and wide and flips and flops and throws and runs?  I go back to a soccer game on the middle school field, your brother and a friend biking up just as you raced down the sideline and scored a very pretty goal. "Wow! Who was that??!!" wondered the friend.  "Oh, that's my sister," Big Cuter not-so-humbly replied. 

FlapJilly's delight while driving her pink Mustang around the backyard mirrors your joy while driving my Audi up and down the long driveway in Marin.  Her love of books? You're an English major. 

Is it fun for you to watch her grow, looking for yourself, for SIR, for the pieces that are uniquely her own?  That never goes away.  I see you doing things that G'ma did for me.  I see you mastering techniques (french braids) that eluded me.  I see you struggle with my struggles and overcome my obstacles.  I watch your choices and I admire you.

I love you every minute of every day, my little girl.  Every single day, but especially this one, when you joined the party.

Happy Birthday, Little Cuter!  Happy Birthday to you.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Did You Watch?

I did.  I asked TBG to set up the DVR to nuke the whole thing, all 8 or 10 or more hours of it for me.  I was interested, sure, but not enough to wake up at 3 in the morning.  When I rolled out of bed at 7:30, he had it all cued up for me.  I gathered my crocheting and pushed play.

There she was, entering the vaulted hallway, the world's longest veil trailing behind her.  I was entranced, ensorceled, bewitched by it all.  I'm not a Royals Groupie, but I've liked Harry ever since he realized that, perhaps, losing your mother when you were 12 might have had an impact on your life. 

He faced his demons head on, and came out the other end a better person.  He met his wife on a blind date; they bonded on a Do-Good-Deeds trip to Namibia.  TBG told me that her carrying a knapsack as her only luggage sealed the deal for Harry.  Her mother's teary face when the Recessional began sealed it for me.  If Mama approves, it's gotta be a good thing.

The Queen looked stuffed.  Prince Philip looked happy.  Camilla's hat looked like a peony on steroids, garish next to Kate (ok, Catherine.... it was a Royal Wedding so I should show some politesse) and her perfectly tilted white chapeau.  I didn't think that yellow was a particularly good look for Amal Clooney, though her taste in husbands is impeccable.  Serena was stunning in dress and demeanor, with her fascinating fascinator and her smiling husband at her side. 

I recognized Elton John, though Not Kathy and Dr. K had to point out  David Beckham when we watched it all again later in the afternoon.  The cast of Suits was there, and so was the woman who stars in Timeless (Abigail Spencer, though I had to look for her name on IMDB).  There were no chyrons identifying those the camera highlighted, nor was there any commentary during the ceremony.  I liked the silence, the feeling of almost being there.  I was annoyed at the absence of information. (21st Century Problem)

The page boys and flower girls were much more delightful than any set of bridesmaids could have been, especially watching the little girls climb steps that were almost-but-not-quite-too-tall-for-a-long-dress to clear.  The toothless boy holding her train made me laugh out loud with his goofy grin, a distant relative of the smile Prince William had as he watched his brother. 

The men were handsome in their military attire, gold braid and ribbons and gold-pointy-things abounding.  The harp had a crown on the frame.  The castle, the turrets, the Household Cavalry on the steps, the Windsor Grey horses (sire and offspring) pulling the open carriage through the streets of Windsor, carrying the newlyweds and their Royal Waves... it was everything a Royal Wedding should be.

I'm flashing back to a friend from long ago.  Zanner slept on our couch the night before Diana married so that she could get up in the middle of the night and watch the whole thing, live, on our big screen tv.  I was indulgent then.  I get it now.

Was I flashing to Little Cuter and SIR's nuptials in our backyard?  It felt just that special.  It was a family event, writ large because of circumstances but still deeply personal and human.  Harry's aunt, Diana's sister, gave the opening reading.  That spoke to family for me, more than anything else. 

I'll now relax into watching young Prince George grow up into the kind of man FlapJilly might consider marrying.  I'd really like to be around to wear a great hat at their wedding.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Tuvan Throat Singing - A Master Class

They were the masters.  We were the students.
Big Cuter was more successful than I was,
sitting knee to knee with Igor Kashkendey. 
He listened to every attempt, laughing with us, encouraging us, leaning in closer as we approached something close to what he was able to do in three part harmony all within his own mouth.

His hands told the story. 
Asking for more or less of whatever my son's throat was doing, 
his fingers miming the tones  for the eh and oy and growl-like -a-bear-deep-in-your-epiglottal-region.
It is said that there was throat singing before there was a formal language in Tuva, and it's easy to see why.  Igor told us that the children learn by mimicking the sounds of the animals they herd, and so a room full of adults began baaing and mooing and growling without moving their lips or using their breath for anything other than creating the vibrations molded into sound by their cheeks.

Or something like that.

Aldar Tamdyn worked  with another group,
until they all got together for a few farewell tunes, accompanied, this time, with music.
Tuvan banjo picking.......

It was quite an afternoon.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tuvan Throat Singing

Big Cuter and I spent the learning Tuvan throat singing.

Seriously, we did.  Chirgilchin came all the way from Siberia to teach us.  

Big Cuter got it once or twice.  I was less successful.  We are both very tired.  So, I'll reprise an old post and regroup for a fuller telling tomorrow.

Aa-shu Dekei-oo (December 21, 2010)

Big Cuter and I sang along with the Tuvan Throat Singers and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at the Rialto Theater last night.  Had there been an aura-camera in front of us, I am certain that there would have been but one halo of wonderful light surrounding the two of us.  We were each with the other's perfect person for that moment.  

I bought the tickets in September, as those of you who keep track of the information in the sidebar can attest.  I found Bela Fleck on Pandora, and liked the sound enough to click over and see what it was.  His banjo picking is clear and precise and quick, and even if  "the banjo isn't a real instrument," as Victor Wooten, the Flektone's tonsured-with-dreadlocks bass player snarkily smirked, he sure does make pretty music on it.  He's been nominated for Grammy's in more categories than any other artist, and I'd give him a statue in each and every one of them.

We were sitting in the balcony, always the right choice at the Rialto.  Floor seats are folding chairs smashed too close together on a totally flat floor.  Unless you're 7' tall, sight lines are non-existent.  But up in the loge, there are cushioned seats with arm-rests, and the rake is such that even if that 7' person is right in front of you there's a good chance you'll still see what's happening down there on the stage.  Big Cuter and I sat in the front row of the second section, with a low ledge for jacket and foot resting right there in front of us.  We were right up near the ceiling, as close to heaven as we were likely to get in Tucson this season.

Big Cuter noticed it first - there was no one actually playing the drum kit.  There was definitely percussion, but there did not appear to be a musician creating it.  I wondered if it were taped, but that just didn't feel right.  The girl to my right pointed out Futureman, the Flecktone standing stage left, and told me that he was making the music... with the small wooden whatchamacallit around his neck.

The whatchamacallit was also called the Vegetarian Electronic Porkchop, but the liner notes from the cd I bought call it a drumitar.   Futureman (aka Roy Wooten) invented/created/developed/played it... sometimes with his left hand while using his right more traditionally with brushes or sticks on the drums themselves.  For the most part, though, he stood upright, assuming the posture of a guitarist as he created drum sounds from a (it looked like wood) gadget hanging around his neck.  It was odd.  It was delicious.  It was unlike anything we'd ever heard or seen or thought of before.

It was just like the rest of the concert.

Three or four songs into the program, four men in odd dress walked out on the stage.  Big Cuter looked at me.  I looked at him.  In one voice we said TUVAN THROAT SINGERS???

It was an NPR moment made real.  We'd heard them on All Things Considered driving home from school one day; we sat in the car in the driveway to hear the conclusion of the piece.  It was otherworldly and strange and impossible and suddenly, without warning, there they were on stage right before our very eyes.  We couldn't stop smiling.  At one another.  At the stage. At the audience.  Were there five other people in the auditorium who knew what was in store for them?  I can't imagine that they were. 

It was really something. The entire audience was giggling, then trying to sing along, then giggling some more.  Bela on his 5-string banjo and his one-man-horn-section Jeff Coffin accompanied the Tuvans on their their igil and byzaanchy and doshpuluur and kengirge and shunggyrash.  Honestly, though, they were no weirder than the drumitar.

The Rialto is a bare bones venue, but the Flecktones brought production values to the evening.  There was a gentle light show, with snowflakes and geometric shapes wandering the walls and ceiling.  The sing-along, in Tuvan, was coordinated with the lights, which illuminated the audience when it was our turn to chime in with Aa-shu Dekei-oo.  The players were introduced by spot-light, and the mood was in turns dramatic and giddy and concentrated as the colors changed from blues to reds to greens.  It was pretty special for Tucson.  For anywhere, really.

No, the throat singers did not come all the way from Siberia just to sing Jingle Bells. They came back after intermission and sang songs about fast horses and beautiful women and then some songs about beautiful horses and fast women.  They seemed to be having as much fun as we were.  Jeff Coffin played two saxophones at once (really, he did) and Bela Fleck sat on a high stool all alone on the stage and talked to us through his banjo and the music was absolutely marvelous.

This was a holiday concert, and hidden among the notes were Silent Night and What Child is This? and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, but mostly we watched the most accomplished jam band I've ever seen.  These are extraordinarily talented musicians, as well as being consummate performers. The music wound around and into and over and through bluegrass and classical and Tuvan and it occurred to me that traditional music sounds the same the world over.  

Throat singing originated before there was language yet it blended right in with ancient Christian hymns played on modern instruments.  Is there a deep-seated sense of sound and rhythm that defines us as humans on the planet?  It certainly seemed so last night. 

The holiday tour is over, and the throat singers are returning to their home on the steppes as I type.  The Flecktones are doing their Christmas shopping.  Big Cuter and I are annoying the hell out of TBG, because we've had the Jingle All The Way cd blasting on the stereo all day long.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Very Good Day

Big Cuter arrived this morning.  Texting between the Cell Phone Waiting Lot (the cell phones were surrounded by cars, I guess, since I saw none of them occupying a parking space) and cyber-space, I alerted my soon-to-land son of my location. 

Soon-to-land, according to Delta.  Already down, according to the passenger.  Schrodinger's airplane
was his reply to my surprise. 

I love how my boy thinks.

We ate, the boys napped, and Not Kathy came over to loll in the pool with me while Dr. K visited the driving range.  If all goes well, they'll be Tucsonans by the end of the week.  We spent two hours deciding what I'll buy her for a housewarming gift. 

Big Cuter and I went to Whole Foods, collecting ingredients which he turned into dinner.  His joy when he discovered the exact brand of pretzel bread led the clerk who led us to it to give me a hug.  (How I raised children who love to cook remains one of the great mysteries of all time.)

Now he's sitting on the couch, trying not to tease his father.  When have I ever cheered for a Cleveland team? was his reply when his Daddy asked for just a little bit of support.  Because he loves his father, the kid won't be Celtics fan. But he won't be a Cavs fan, either.

They admire the same pieces of the game.  They rail at the same pieces of the game.  They drink Diet Coke and make references to obscure trivia and create Dream Teams within varying parameters. They are so relaxed, so in tune, so comfortable.... especially since the Cavs are up by 10 as I type this. 

My belly is full.  I have some fresh strawberries chilling for a special treat in my yogurt and on my cereal in the morning, and some macerating themselves in powdered sugar for strawberry shortcake tonight.  That's all the cooking I have to do, a fact which delights me. 

I can sit in my comfy chair, crocheting big squares for Giblet and his mom and dad and sister to snuggle beneath, breathing the same air as two of my favorite humans.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Do You Want A Smart House?

That's what he asked me this evening.  It took me totally by surprise.

"Do you want to be able to control everything from your phone?"  Note the use of your; TBG is the proud owner of a flip phone on which he can text and call.  Nothing else. Was he assigning me another task?  Was I now to be in charge of when the lights are off and on? 


A thoughtful pause, a nod, and we went on to other matters.

I don't want my house to be hack-able.  I don't want anyone other than my alarm company to know when I'm not there.  I don't want to be vulnerable to the foibles of batteries or creepy people with evil intent.  But it's more than that.

I like the notion of being hands on.  I like modulating the lamplight, setting the candles in the windows, physically changing my environment.  I don't need a program to announce that the sun has set; I like recognizing the passage of the sun, the lengthening of the days, the time on the clock when I flip the light switch. 

I don't want to say Oh, it must be 7, the lights are on.  I want to make the connection happen myself.

It's like the scrapbooks I'm forever planning to finish.  I don't add to the pile of photographs any more; creating bound books on-line is simpler and easier.  But it's not the same. 

I haven't touched it.  My handwriting is no where to be found.  Someone else fondled the pages and made the book.  Someone else had all the fun of assembling the pieces. 

And so, all those photos going back to the 1980's sit in the closet, nestled under and over the paper and cut-outs and glue dots and tape strips and archival ink pens and the albums.... some started, many still wrapped in plastic, all with a purpose when purchased.  I know I'll get to them.  I want to get to them.  It will be fun once I get to them

There is a lot to be said for simple and easy, which is one reason TBG thought a smart house might be a good idea.  But there's a lot to be said for actively engaging with the world, even on something as small as turning on the lights.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy Mothers Day - A Snippet

(Cue Happy Birthday, played sprightly and with enthusiasm, to accompany Little Cuter's mellifluous tones.)

Happy Mothers Day to you
Happy Mothers Day to you
Happy Mothers Day Dear Mommy and Grandma-from-FlapJilly-who's-refusing-to-sing-along
Happy Birthday....
     OH SHIT
Happy Mothers Day to YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Her follow-up text read, simply, I'm soooooo tired!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Any One Of These Things

Imagine a Presidential candidate hiring a campaign manager whose last client, banished from his own country, was taking refuge with Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Imagine it? I wish that were all I were able to do but, in fact, it really happened.  And no one seemed to care.

Michelle Wolf called out the correspondents at their dinner.  CNN... Breaking News!..... Yeah, you guys broke the news.  Fast and furious, with little regard for accuracy so long as you are first, being sure to get the scoop, to grab the headline. 

And so TBG sat in the hospital waiting room while CNN told him that Gabby was dead. It was awful for him to hear; imagine how Gabby's sister must have felt.

I cringe, watching reputable news outlets trying not to drool too heavily over the cover of Penthouse, which next month will feature a porn star linked to the President covering some of her naked breast with her hand.  I'm less interested in the ins and outs of the NDA than I am with the response to the story as a whole.  Why should I care who he slept with before he was even running for office?seems to be the Trumpite rationale.  Well, let's see.

Bill Clinton was impeached for behavior on the same spectrum of awful.  Granted, he was in the Oval Office while he was misbehaving, but then, again, so was DJT when he told the Russians why he fired James Comey.

I'm just sayin'......

I could go on, but I'm depressed writing just these few paragraphs.  In any other time, any one of these things would be enough.  All of them together seem to have induced a national stupor. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hey! Stop Shaking My Friend!

I was in the staff lounge, distributing stickers to the grown-ups, when Miss Mercey looked through the window.

"Are those kids shaking that bush?"

In fact, they were.

"I'm on it," I said, and went out to rescue the shrubbery.

"Excuse me, boys, please stop shaking my friend."

What followed was a spirited conversation revolving around the nature of friendship ("You're his friend.  Would you like it if he shook you?"), a brief scientific explanation of xylem and phloem (including references to pipes and nutrition), and the fragility of life in general.

They were 8 and 9 years old, totally engaged in the difference between a messy break (ankles and arms were alluded to) and a clean cut.  One is unplanned and hurtful, the other is necessary and gives us information, like how old is this tree, anyway?

We counted the rings (3) on the recently pruned branch, and commiserated with the torn off leaf ("I'm sorry, but 'he made me do it' doesn't excuse the act").  

We defined and gave examples of stress as we examined a reddish, spotted leaf.  We agreed that living things deserve a chance to be left alone and grow without stress, because .......

We never got to the because; saved by the whistle, they yelled "Bye, Grandma Suzi!" and ran off to get in line. 

That tree has friends for life.  Life is good.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Amidst a torturer explaining herself, a State Attorney General resigning over non-consensual bondage activities, and a convicted felon stealthily advancing to become the Republican candidate for his state's senate seat, a girl's thoughts turn to her own unmentionables.

That's what my grandparents' generation called the clothes we wear closest to our skin. Undies, panties, gotkes (the long pink one piece item my grandma rinsed out and hung over the shower curtain to dry) all the way to bralets and camisoles and pasties to cover protruding nipples (my son has my permission to stop reading at this point if I'm over-sharing) and support sagging bosoms (another Grandma term that I love) - every woman I know has a love/hate relationship with her undergarments.

Scarlett likes one bra and one bra only.  The sole purveyor of that item has a hit-or-miss relationship with keeping it in stock, especially when it goes on sale.  We spent a good portion of our last lunchtime bemoaning that fact.

I spent 50 plus years hiking drooping bra straps back up to my shoulders; no matter what I bought or how I tightened/loosened/opened/pushed/readjusted the straps would not stay put.  Then I found Coobies (see photo of them soaking, above) and, for $22 a piece, all my worries were solved.  Clique, my one and only boutique in town, stacks them up delightfully next to the cash register.  

There are polka dots and stripes and lacey fronts and backs.  There are bright colors and neutral colors and blacks and greys  and whites.  They make me happy.  They are perfectly priced.  They are comfortable all day long.

Unfortunately, they don't do very well in the dryer, even on the delicate cycle.  

Unfortunately, I don't really like doing hand laundry.  

This morning, staring into the empty cubbyhole where my Coobies live, I was forced to take action.  Months ago I purchased Dr Bonner's Castille Soap at Costco.  I was intrigued by the wordiness of the bottle, by a vague memory of the name, and, it being Costco, by the price.

Sadly, as Not-Kathy so eloquently put it, the soap cleans everything.... just not very well.  I was forced to scour the cabinets in the laundry room this morning, searching for an enhancer.  There, in the drawere beneath the washing machine, was a box of La France, the brightener and whitener G'ma used.  I don't remember buying it, but I was happy to see it this morning.  I followed the directions, poured in a satisfying amount, and squished my delicates to my heart's content.
La France is a bluing agent.  I don't know why blue is needed to turn my whites whiter, but, apparently, it is.  The bluing washed out, and the underwear is drying on the rack in the sunshine. The dry heat makes quick work of the cloth, though the inserts take longer to become wearable.  

So, for the rest of the day, my underwear will decorate my back yard.

If politics can reach to the gutter on a regular basis, I can blog about my lingerie.

At least mine is clean.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Happy Birthday, Big Cuter

You've been a cheetah and a ninja.

You've been Robin Hood and Zorro.

You've worn capes and baseball caps and a fools cap.

For a while, we wore the same size clothes; I'm still happy with your hand-me-downs.

You introduced me to Ender's Game and George RRRRRRRR Martin and the Old Man's War series.

You are always willing to Be A Tall Person, to Do The Heavy Lifting, to explain.

How is it possible that you have grown to be a man while I, most certainly, haven't changed a bit?

 O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!  Happy Birthday, my Mothers Day bundle of joy.

Monday, May 7, 2018

102 -- And There Is No Shade

The ice has broken in the Rillito River, our dry wash of redundancy, a pathway that floods with winter melt off but now, under no clouds and a scorching sun, lies sandy and pock-marked with coyote and horse and javelina footprints. 

There's nary a drop of water to be found.

At the cashier stand, a shopper told me that the 7am start to the 5k she'd run that morning really should have been at 6.  By 8, it was really too hot to run.

I wore my First Day It's Freakin' Hot Out dress to The Rogue's production of King Lear on Saturday afternoon.  It's long enough to cover my ankles if the air conditioning is fierce, and it has very little to annoy me on the top.  It's my acknowledgement that the temperatures are rising and I am prepared.

There's no reason to keep the long sleeve shirts in the front of the closet.  My jeans can be packed away.  I bid a fond farewell to my boots as I looked at them this morning; it will be many months before my feet will be cool enough to consider putting them on.

Friday, May 4, 2018

I'm Glad I Forgot to Order the Cake

The Parent Portal was clear - Amphi Schools WILL be open on Thursday, May 3rd.

I was thrilled.  I miss the little ones hugging me and asking for shoelace-tying-help and begging for stickers.  I miss making silly Dr. Seuss sounds in the kindergarten classrooms.  I miss wondering why no one wants to eat the jicama at lunchtime.

I am worried about the tomato plant whose olla ball must be sadly empty.  I wonder how the kids with working parents are faring at home, not (I hope) alone.  The Spring Carnival has been rescheduled from Friday to next week; I hope the volunteers can join me.  This walk out has been a logistical nightmare all around.

Legislators were in session through the night (the photo of my friend, Rep. Daniel Hernandez Jr, nodding out at 2 am has disappeared from my Facebook feed, otherwise I'd include it right here).  when Noah Karvelis, the #RedForEd activist, was refused the opportunity to speak, Dr. Randy Freise, my representative, read his words into the record.  Teachers filled the gallery, all day and all night.  It was a sea of red, watching as (they hoped) a budget was passed.

The Amphi Parent Portal told me that school would be in session tomorrow when I checked before bed.  I made a mental note to feel bad about not ordering a Welcome Back cake for Prince, and to stop at the donut store for treats on my way down Oracle to the school in the morning.  I had my book picked out, my stickers at the ready, and my heart was filled with joy.

I slept like a rock until I awoke with a start at 5:15am.  Tossing and turning was useless.  I got up, ready to spend the morning with my young friends.  I turned on my phone, checked my messages, and decided to look, one more time, at the Parent Portal.  Just to be sure.  I was so hopeful.

Amphi Schools will be closed today, Thursday, May 3rd.

Sigh.  The only good news is that I have another opportunity to buy a cake.  The budget, being passed in pieces, answers few of the #RedForEd demands.  It places an increased tax burden on districts not in Maricopa County, where the Phoenix Republicans live.  It excludes support staff.  It doesn't replace the money lost over the past 10 years.  It's inexplicable to the lay person, if my Facebook news feed is any indication of community sentiment.  I know, for sure, that my perusal of the plan has left me more confused than ever.

As of 1:30 Thursday afternoon, there's no update on plans for tomorrow.

I'm putting off ordering the cake.

And now it's 2:05pm and the Portal tells me that Back to School! ALL Amphitheater Schools Will Be OPEN on Friday, May 4.   

Wondering what I'll do with a sheet cake if they change their minds again.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

I Took a Walk Today

I did.
I put on my sneakers and loaded up my gear
and I took a walk.

I listened to Michelle Wolf's sometimes laugh-out-loud sometimes oh-dear-God schtick at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  I paused half way through and stretched.  I kept up a decent pace, and thought about my stride.  I tried to keep my hips even and my shoulders straight.  I used my newly found quadriceps and aductors, listening to them squeal and choosing to ignore their outbursts.

I marveled at the blossoms,
but I didn't stop to admire them until I was finished walking.  

20 minutes out and back on a relatively flat surface.
Rewarding myself with a moment communing with my little friend.
remembering her with others who share the loss. 
I talked to her about this, 
a new to me example of the wonders of nature.
I strolled on the newly raked paths in her garden.
Then I went home.

I took a walk today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

School is Closed

It's not a strike.  The educators are not at odds with their employers, the various Boards of Education who hired them.  Their issues are with the Legislature, and their walk out is designed to garner attention.

It seems to be working. 
Image result for az teacher strike

That's 50,000 educators walking 2 miles in triple digit temperatures last Thursday, the first day of the walk out.  They rallied in front of the state capitol.  They held signs.  They spoke to reporters.  They came back on Friday and again on Monday and again on Tuesday.  

They sat in on the Democratic Senate Caucus, absorbing the acronyms and the legalese and the Legislative shorthand. They took notes so they could share the information with their colleagues.  They posted on Facebook groups that have arisen like wildflowers after the rain.  

No one is happy about this.  No one wants to extend the school year, or lose a teaching certificate, or leave students unattended.  

But Arizona has cut corporate taxes for years, and that money has not been replaced by an accelerated economy.  Over a billion dollars has been slashed from educational appropriations over the past 10 years.  The protests are not asking for more.  They are asking for what's gone.

This morning, the paper reported on a new budget hammered out between the Republican majority and the Republican Governor, Doug Ducey.  Ducey, the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, and the only one who made any money out of that fiasco (just ask the franchisees who were bankrupted and left to manage on their own when Ducey took his money and ran), has rejiggered and reconfigured and obfuscated and claims to have come up with funding for a 20% raise over the next two years.

20 by 20 is his slogan, and it's a dandy one.  Unfortunately, there is no dedicated funding stream in the budget.  There are cuts to the arts and to services for the disabled and the Community Colleges are left out of the picture entirely, as are non-classroom specialists (reading teachers, for example).  Block grants are proposed, allowing individual districts to decide how to share not-enough-money with spending on textbooks, building repairs, and salary increases for clerks and librarians and custodians.

Think about that.  Miss Mercy, who sits at the front desk of Prince Elementary School, knows everyone's name.  She is the face of the school, the first person you see and the one you bid farewell when you leave.  She's looking to the future, when the minimum wage goes up and new hires will earn as much as she does, not withstanding the many years she's spent in the District.  

Think about the librarian, with a Masters degree, who is considered less worthy of a living wage.  NPR interviewed an Oklahoma teacher who earns less than a carpet installer or a brick mason, necessary jobs, for sure, but with somewhat less of an impact on the world than being in a classroom for 180 days a year.   

I-10 was filled with #RedForEd signs on cars heading back south from Phoenix after another day of protests.  I flashed a thumbs up at each one.  I bought my own Educators for Arizona red t-shirt (Miss Mercy said of course you are an educator.... you're here, aren't you!?!?).  I'm following the debate in the Legislature, trying to wend my way through the arcane language.  My State Senator, Steve Farley, posts readable updates, and I follow them, too.

The budget is moving this week.  Niches have been carved out for the constituents of powerful legislators (Tucson Unified School District property owners will be taxed while Maricopa County homeowners won't).  Governor Ducey wants this all to go away before he stands for reelection, and he's pandering to those who will vote his way.  

Sen. Farley said it best - The budget is our central moral document as a state.

I hope the legislators remember that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Visiting FlapJilly

We flew home and drove home and collapsed on the couch.
Forgive me if my brain cannot support thinking about our idiot President.
Forgive me if I cannot stop laughing about his possible responses to the Mueller questions.
My heart is still in Indiana, 
I will be back tomorrow (on time, I promise!).
It's just taking me a while to readjust.