Thursday, January 31, 2019

Planting in Grandma's Garden

I decided it was past the last frost.  I'm sorry if you are living in the polar vortex ravaged rest of the USofA, but here in Tucson it was in the low 70's, with high clouds cutting the sunshine every once in a while.  It was planting weather, for sure.
There were red onions and yellow onion sets
 available to be settled into the beds.
There was a sprouted head of garlic from Grandma's kitchen that nestled in the middle of the parsley.
And then there were the strawberries.
Oh, the strawberries brought such joy to their faces.
They were gentle with the budding plants as I shook them free from their containers.
We looked at the roots curling around the pot-molded soil, then untangled them slowly and carefully.
Grandma was busy holding the plant so there are no pictures of the the root dislocation or the trowel sharing as the hole was dug.

There was the proper addition of the displaced soil,
and then the seating of the plant with firm tamping.
Aria found some parsley where nothing else was growing 
while others were busy picking and eating from the bed where it's growing like ground cover.
With six months of Garden Club under their belts, the scholars are competent, confident, and proud.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


We were playing Family Basketball the last time I fell down.  I was going for the lay-up and Big Cuter was having none of it and the next thing we knew I was bouncing off the driveway, bleeding and surprised.  Falling is unexpected once you leave elementary school.

So, you know you've reached a certain age when the first question the doctor asks is When was the last time you fell?  It's not something anyone wondered about when I was a teenager, or when I was a young mother, or when I ran for the school board.  But now, as I enter the realm of senior care, it seems to be an issue of some importance.

I don't fall! is my usual retort, packed with some attitude and delivered with emphasis. 

And it was a true answer, one that I was proud to deliver.  Mrs. Dr. N complained that she was starting to hold onto the railing when she walked down the stairs, frightened that she'd send her 70-something self hurtling down the incline.  She said it made her feel old.  I told her it made her look smart.

There are a few things we can to to stave off the ravages of old age. Being careful is at the top of my list, and that includes holding on and slowing down. It wasn't always so.  Nannie laughed that I never walked, I scurried.  G'ma marveled at the speed with which I straightened her apartment and was ready to go.... before she had her coat buttoned.  My children, as they grew to adulthood, worried that I'd run before looking and disaster would befall me.  Fast was my middle name.

Then I was perforated. 

Fast was not an option.  Between the drugs and the movement restrictions imposed by the physicians, I was terrified.  Spit and baling wire might be holding me together, but danger lurked at the edge of every throw rug, across every curbstone.  I held on tight - to my cane, to my walker, to my husband.  G'ma beat me down the hallway of The Old Folks Home, her walker more comfortable than mine in our hands.

Gradually, the assistive devices fell away.  I was mobile, though slow, on my own two feet.  And so it has gone for seven or eight years, my gait slowly increasing in speed, my hips finding an even keel, my feet usually pointing in the right direction.  I no longer look for the closest parking spot.  I occasionally eschew a cart when I'm only buying milk.  Traipsing across the playground at Prince no longer makes me wince. I can feel my glutes and my adductors and my quadriceps (though I think there are only three of them in there) engaging.   I am healing.

I'm also forgetting to be careful.

I noticed my untied shoelace but decided to tend to it once I got to the car.  The library rug wasn't lying smoothly on the ground.  There was a drop of water on the kitchen floor.  Each time, I nearly fell.

I suppose it's a good thing that I am now capable of righting myself before disaster ensues.  My damaged leg and hip are strong enough to support me as I flail.  Last night, tripping over that carpet, I managed to hang onto my glass of iced tea as I hopped and stumbled across the room.  YAY I'm strong competed with Holy Shit I nearly fell.

I wonder if I have to mention this at my next appointment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Reading Faulkner - Vol. 2

Today was our first class, and it was a full class, 95% of whom raised their hands and admitted to having read The Sound and the Fury in their past lives and nearly the same number who admitted ot having finished the book recently, for this class.

Scarlet and I may be in over our heads.

The professor looks like someone I could be friends with, someone more concerned with words than appearance.  Once she got into the swing of the audio-visual set up and stopped reading her notes, she gave a concise history of literary criticism from the early 20th century to the present day, clearly establishing which camp she favored. 

She also told us that sometime during his sojourn with the Canadian armed forces (he was too skinny for the USofA) he added a u to his last name.  It was moments like those that kept me engaged during the paragraphs of dense critical theory; I had to pay attention in case she dropped another nugget.

That's what I like about the Humanities Seminars - they manage to satisfy a wide variety of students at the same time.  I'm certain there are those who wish  for more detail, just as I'm certain that I wasn't the only one who sometimes felt a bit afloat.  But we're all in it together.  Even if I can't read a word she's put up on the screens, I can follow along in my own text.

In fact, the section she planned to examine was the section I'd read an hour before, over lunch.  I understood my Cajun Po'boy more than I did the words on the page before me.  I got into my car remembering my feeble attempts to understand the medical students chapter in Ulysses and laughing as I realized that I was, once again, up against the inexplicable.

So, in the questions period after the lecture, I asked if she had any suggestions for how I should read the work.  I'm not stupid, but... and I was interrupted by knowing laughter.  At least I wasn't alone.
She told me to just plow on through it, not to worry about the details of the plot, that somehow I'd come to see that I knew exactly what was going on.

She admitted that it was confusing.  Since she'd started the lecture by wondering how many of us had wanted to throw the book across the floor at some point... or many points.... I knew she felt my pain.  She sympathized.  But she promised that it would be worth it.

So, instead of Ulysses I'm going to approach it like The Big Sleep, a book and a movie that I respect, that I love, that I can be amused by over and over again even though following the plot is nearly impossible.  Think you know who killed Eddie Mars?  When called to the movie set to answer that among other questions, Raymond Chandler said Who cares?  Who knows?

The plot is kind of the point, and it's not.

That's all I've got to go with.  We shall see how it turns out.

Monday, January 28, 2019

I'm Stuck

There was something I wanted to say about Nancy Pelosi being described as an Italian Grandmother.

There was a cave/Plato/Trump/P.T.Barnum post rolling around in my head.

We watched The Princess and the Bell Hop, a movie that struck exactly the right note in what could have been awful in so many ways, and I tinkered with writing about respect and not rushing to judgment.

But Little Cuter took FlapJilly's pink tutu'ed self to her first dance class on Saturday and there are videos.  So many videos.  She's crawling like a bear, and like a crab, and prancing all the way across the room with pointy toes.  Her hair is in a bun and face is radiant.

I'm sorry.  I'm stuck.  I can't seem to do anything else.  I will try to think tomorrow.  Today, I'm going to revel in the wonder of a little girl who turned on the heater in the play room so she could practice her steps and watch her reflection in the glass.  And of her mommy who knew how much I'd enjoy seeing it.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Fred MacMurray and The Beaver

I saw a picture of Bozo on Facebook last week, and I realized I'd forgotten the ruffle around the bottom of his pants.  He wasn't on my regular watching schedule in my childhood; I was more into Captain Kangaroo and Miss Nancy on Romper Room.  But TBG and I spent a week in 1983 on St. Maarten with WGN as the only television option.  Bozo woke us up every morning.

TBG's been taping Leave It To Beaver and My Three Sons; it's lovely background noise as we're getting ready to leave the house.  The teachers are female and young and kind and white.  The families are intact and middle class and white. Mom makes sandwiches on white bread.

The Beaver is still adorable, making the mistakes a sweet elementary school boy makes, then and now.  There's a lot of wisdom in his interactions with Wally, his big brother, that we find lacking in those with his father.  Ward just seems to exacerbate the situation, while June wrings her hands and hopes everything will turn out all right. 

I never watched My Three Sons, but I love Fred MacMurray and William Frawley.  Every time I see him with an apron in one hand and a fist in the other, I smile.  I love the notion of Grampa stepping in to take his dead daughter's place; he's modeling being a strong female figure to a house full of boys. 

And when I had that thought I realized that I was watching mid-20th century television through 21st century eyes.  The fillips were minor, nothing jumped up and said oh, dear, not that.  But I had to turn off Gone With the Wind because I couldn't watch happy slaves, and we've cringed and stopped watching more than a few old movies when the violence against women made us gag.

Molly Ringwald urges viewers not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  She has a point; I was taught Birth of a Nation at Cornell.  But I still can't have Kevin Spacey in my living room.

I'm not sure what secrets lie behind the boys in those houses.  I'm not sure I want to.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Modest Upgrades to Grandma's Garden

It was cold by Tucson standards, at 46 just twelve degrees warmer than Little Cuter's South Bend.  I decided to wait before planting more seeds; the packets recommend that the ground temperature be ..... and I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering how to measure the temperature of the ground.  Would a candy thermometer be better than an instant read thermometer?  Would a rectal probe feel most at home in the soil?  Could I stick my finger in the raised bed and guesstimate? 

 Luckily, the bell rang and the Garden Kids demanded my attention.
There were carrots to be watered,
 and scarecrows to be righted.
 There was deadheading
 and raking
and the clearing of small sticks.
There was an aloe vera to be planted with cactus soil,
 and another with amended potting soil.
They, of course, required watering
 being careful not to drench the soil.
There was a bug to be examined,
and a book about the garden to be read in the wheelbarrow.
Sometimes you just want to sit quietly.
Grandma's Garden is a good place for that.

It's also a good place to get restuffed,
 to acquire a face
to use natural materials
to lock Grandma in the garden,
to be proud of your work.
Drop by any Wednesday at lunchtime.
We'll be happy to show you around.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Reading Faulkner - vol. 1

Scarlet, whose locks are no longer eponymous, and I will be Humanities Seminarians again this semester.  For two hours every Monday afternoon for the next five weeks, we'll do close readings of William Faulkner's first three novels - The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! (the only book I know of with an exclamation point in its title).

It seemed like a worthwhile plan at the time.  An author we'd be unlikely to pick up on our own, one we might have read long ago but have long since forgotten, and one that Little Cuter, the English major, had well represented on her bookshelves.

I remembered her saying that she loved that course.  After spending an hour with the first 15 pages of The Sound and the Fury, I wondered why.

"Mom, I said I loved the course.  I hated the books.  Hated them.  But the teacher was interesting and young and cool and invited us to his house.  I loved that course."

Well, that leaves Scarlet and me in a pickle.  Neither of us like the book. She's plowing through the study guide before tackling the tome itself.  I am plunging bravely onward, aided by the copious notes my darling daughter took from that delightful professor. 
There are tiny post-it notes and penciled words and circles and underlining and stars... some pages have stars.  I think I'm well on my way to a close reading of the texts.

I just hope no one asks me what's going on.

I read another dozen or so pages this afternoon.  The point of view jumps around without warning.  This is problem. There is no description, no exposition, just random dialog, with nary a he said or she said in sight.  Some parts are in italics; I'm not sure why. 

The only easily identifiable train of thought I can discern are the inner ramblings of a damaged 30-something human.  He seems to have a caretaker who carries him hither and yon.  Why?  I don't really know.  He seems to have a young woman whose presence comforts him, and I think she's his sister.  It's not been explicitly stated.

Quentin seems to be female.  Versh has arthritis.  Mama is a less likable Mrs. Bennett (cf Pride and Prejudice). 

I have a feeling there are serious financial problems in the offing.  But I'm not sure.  The prose is oblique to the point of deliberate obfuscation.

I had the same reaction when I tried to read Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49: I read a lot.  I have an undergraduate degree from an Ivy League Institution and a masters degree from the University of Chicago, not known for admitting dummies.  I am not stupid.  Yet I cannot understand this.  For whom, exactly, is he writing????????

All is not lost, though.  I have a vague yet warm memory of reading Absalom, Absalom! in college; I think I really liked it.  I'm not running away from the adventure before me; I'm glad to have a challenge in my life.

This is not going to be easy.  Perhaps thinking about all those new wrinkles I'll be creating in my aging brain will provide the motivation I'm currently lacking.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Federal Holiday ... KInda Sorta

The mail wasn't delivered but the trash and recycling went out as usual.  The bank was closed and so were the schools, but even I forgot to put out the flag.

I never forget to put out the flag on National Holidays

Is it living in Arizona?  Is it holiday fatigue?  How is it possible that the day snuck up on me?  I left the house with a trunk filled with wonders for the Prince Scholars, and it was only when I recognized that I was making all the lights, that traffic was lighter, that I wondered what I was missing.  It was only when I switched over from KXCI to  NPR and heard Dr. King that I made the connection. 

There's something terribly wrong with this picture, and I think Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has the answer.  She wants to cancel Columbus Day as a Federal Holiday and make Election Day one, instead.  People can argue over Columbus as a hero forever and a day, but no one can argue that Election Day is unimportant.

And if you can make that argument, then you need to reread history - being represented in the governance of the nation's affairs is bedrock Americana.  People wouldn't go to such great lengths to suppress it if it didn't matter.

So let's shake things up a bit on the Federal Holiday front. 

We've already decided that Washington and Lincoln were somehow born on the third Monday in February, no matter the date each year.  I wonder if Dr. King would object to sharing his day with Mother Earth?

Dr. King wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail on April 16th.   April 22, Earth Day, gets no respect on the Federal level.  I propose that we  celebrate Martin Luther King Day whenever Earth Day rolls around. 

Why?  In their own way, each is a call to action.  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere goes very nicely with We're all on this planet together.  

No?  How about the weather.

It's hard to gear up for a holiday in the middle of January, especially this year when most of the country is frozen solid.  But April, now that's a different story.  It's much easier to celebrate outdoors when the wind chill isn't 40 below.  Wouldn't it be lovely to honor Dr. King by planting flowers and trees and gardens in his honor, nurturing the earth and taking practical steps to make the world a better place, one freshly dug hole at a time.

Building community, caring for one another, taking action to draw attention to grievances, cleaning and clearing and singing.  Woody Guthrie would be at home in either celebration...  you know, the Woody Guthrie who wrote This Land is Your Land.  Gaia and Dr. King, not detracting from one another but bringing value added to the day.

This land was made for you and me.  

Monday, January 21, 2019

On Championship Sunday

While TBG was comfortably ensconced in front of America's blood sport, I took advantage of the warming temperatures to work on the overflowing disaster area formerly known as my side of the garage, and then moved inside to work on the library closet and the desk drawers.

I didn't pay much attention to the game or the digital world in general.  I was a woman on a mission.  Focused. Medicated so that my hip-and-its-surrounding-tissues wouldn't interfere with the tasks at hand. 

It was late afternoon before I took a seat on the couch and opened my email.

Two friends from long ago were checking in to say hello.  In the combined 70 some years of friendship we have shared, I can't recall two emails from either of them.  Ever.  Yet, there they were, FAMBB and One Of The Nancy's, saying Hi!

They don't know one another.  The have absolutely nothing in common.  Really, the more I think about that the more true it seems.  Yet, there they were, in my inbox, reaching out to me from Massachusetts.

Of course.  

New England, where the weather outside is frightful and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are starring in the second to last game of the football season, where it's too cold to do anything but snuggle up on the couch and write to an old friend.  

Two very different women having exactly the same afternoon.  I'm flattered to be on the receiving end.

Friday, January 18, 2019

What Goes Around Comes Around - A Snippet

Ask a Prince Scholar about my role as their Official Adopted Grandmother and you'll hear about stickers.  Smiley faces and baseballs and puppies, hearts and dinosaurs and clouds, I place them on t-shirts and cheeks.  They are a shared smile between us, an intimate moment on the playground, in the classroom, in the garden, surrounded by others but alone, for an instant.

In general, I try not to interrupt the orderly flow of the student body, reminding the Scholars to wave-but-don't-shout, to keep-up-with-the-group, to be well-behaved so that I don't get into trouble for distracting them.  So it was noteworthy when the kindergartener with the small set of stickers in her hand left the line I was following to place one on my chest.
The teacher and I got a little misty as I croaked out a Thank You!  Who says kindness can't be taught?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Just Another Work Day

The sun was out, everyone's shoelaces were tied, and it was time to get to work. 
There was pruning and planting to be done... and some balancing on a rock which scared Grandma, even though the acrobat assured me that she was being very very very careful. 
Holding the pot steady was as much fun as filling it with fancy soil.
The Garden Club Kids were careful not to waste.  The potting mixture held firm in their hands. There was very little on the ground.  Carrot seeds are teeny tiny little things, placed an inch apart, one per hole, separated by two fingers held tightly together.  It was math and planning and fine motor control and it was so much fun.
Using Grandma's pruning shears is a privilege reserved for the bigger kids.  
Deciding what was alive and what needed to be removed was a challenge. We were encouraged to see that new buds were forming; cutting off the detritus allows more of the nutrients to go where they are useful.  "Plants are really smart."
The second raised bed is covered in a field of parsley.  
Within its confines, we found a worm, which delighted Grandma no end.  I explained the usefulness of the worm to the structure of the soil, but the kids were more interested in giving him a tour of the garden.  Although he was a most interesting and unusual friend, I managed to convince them to return him from whence he came.
There is nothing more dramatic than the sigh of a disappointed boy who is desperate to share a treasure with his class.  It took some parsley snacks to right the world on its axis once more.
"When do you go to the middle school?" wondered an anxious 5th grader, projecting into his future.  I had to admit that my presence there was less frequent and less intense.  We agreed that there are many losses as one grows up, as I silently wondered if I could possible clone myself.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Through a Visitor's Eyes - A Snippet

Jimmy's Sister came to town this week, looking for her forever home.  Tucson is the next stop on her where do I want to live tour, following on the heels of Albuquerque, which was so damn cold!

It's not that toasty here in the desert Southwest these days, either.  Clouds overtook the sunshine as I tied shoelaces on the playground at lunchtime.  Our rousing game of Duck Duck Goose grew progressively colder to my aging self, perched on the ground, silently pleading not to be chosen.

I'm going out tonight; I've spent the afternoon planning what to layer under my wool sweater. Under my jacket.  I may even bring gloves.

I know, I know, it's not as bad as where you are.  But for us, two days without sunshine is a recipe for grumpiness.  Just ask the kindergarten teachers trying to herd their usually well-behaved minions into some semblance of a forward facing line at the end of recess.  There are always more tears to wipe on cloudy days, it seems.

But Jimmy's Sister doesn't seem to be bothered in the least.  She spent the last hour or so in the hot tub, emerging with a spring in her step and a smile on her face.

It's the first smile about the outdoors I've seen all day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pent Up Comments

Well.... see what happens when I write about politics?!  Long-time denizens take to their keyboards and create thoughtful responses to my dilemma.  I thought I'd be writing about hosting a friend who's considering relocating Tucson; instead, I'm back in the political saddle again.

I'm no fan of James Comey - I think he cost Hillary the election.  Had I not been a Never-Trump person, I don't know that I would have voted for her.  I never trusted her, (you know that, Stacy) but at least she had the knowledge base to do the job. 

Was/Is she moral? Not by my standards, but who am I to judge?  Any woman who tried to make her mark in the political arena in the late 20th and early 21st centuries deserves kudos.  They were all braver than I was.  I cannot imagine the abuses, the discomfort, the disrespect they must have endured, with no recourse, with few allies, walking an unpaved path. 

Still, while I wish both parties had given us better choices, unlike DJT I don't think there were good people on both sides.  I don't think he is a good person.  Anyone who lived in New York City knows that Trump was the village idiot, good for a laugh, certainly not to be taken seriously.  He and Howard Stern exemplified toxic masculinity.  They were over the top and acted like they knew it.  Anything for attention.  Anything at all. 

Is the media biased?  Toward ratings, absolutely.  Against Trump?  Perhaps now, but I still remember Katy Tur and NBC showing two hours of an empty hall before Trump arrived, giving him and his views and his supporters free air time.  There were many Republican candidates, but none as ratings worthy as Trump. 

Add that to the Russian's help, and we're stuck where we are, today.

Rain, I don't think you have to worry about being trolled on my little out of the way blog. I, too, remember J Edgar Hoover and Nixon's enemies list, when the FBI was doing his dirty work.  Having met Bob Mueller I have total confidence in the report he will present, but I don't know that I would have such a strong point of view had TBG and I not spent time with him.  Being interviewed by the Director of the FBI isn't something we're likely to forget, but we remember his presence more than his title.

Are there excellent FBI agents?  I'm sure there are.  Are there honorable people who are trying to remain within the Republican Party?  Perhaps there are.  But censuring Rep. King is a very small step toward civility in governance.  When an emergency arises overnight, after two years of total control, when anything at all could have been funded, I don't think it matters which side you're on. 

We're being played. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Thoughts While Putting Away the Seasonal Decor

The sun can't make up its mind, and neither can I.

Ten years ago next weekend, my pixilated Obama T-shirt arrived just in time for his inauguration.

Today, I wonder if we've elected an agent of a foreign government to the Presidency.

Follow the money has never been more relevant than with this Presidency. Trump's inability to get American financing and the Russian Oligarchs need to launder their ill-gotten gains created a perfect storm, with Vladimir Putin holding the wind machine.  He's Russian, he's not impatient.  He's always understood Trump's bottomless ego, and of the opportunities it presented.

We're on tenterhooks, if the talking heads are to be believed.  We're Waiting for Mueller, and the conversation is like listening to Vladimir and Estragon.  We keep getting beaten, and we keep going back.  

So, I'm stuck.  Do I remember and revel in the sunshine and that once we did elect a good man to represent us well or do I stew about the fact that the buck no longer stops on the Resolute Desk?

Like the sun, I'm going back and forth.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Issue of The Scarecrow

The kindergarten scholars did the best they could with the supplies I provided.
Even then, the scarecrows had structural issues.
Now, after suffering the depredations of an Arizona winter, they were muddy, barely upright, and seriously deflated.  For the first Garden Club of 2019, I tasked the bigger kids with their repair.

Do not take Tom's head to fill Jerry's chest cavity! is certainly one of the strangest sentences I've ever uttered. 

And yes, the two scarecrows are apparently named Tom and Jerry. I didn't even know that cartoon was still on tv and I can't keep track of which one is which and the kindergarteners were supposed to name them.  I've decided not to argue.  
Anyway, no harm no foul.  And, the thief gifted him a bulging bicep
 .... as penance? 

We created a skeleton for his standing- by-the-mandarin-orange-tree-comrade out of found scraps and re-purposed trellis pieces, and I re-pinned and un-tucked at Jimena's direction.  She was quite certain that putting the flannel shirt inside the waistband of the jeans was misguided, a fashionista's nightmare, 
and, of course, she was right.

There was much hilarity once we got Jerry (or maybe he's Tom) firmly planted. (warning: there's sound!)
and, as always, I left Garden Club with a smile on my face and love in my heart.

And then, typing this, I laughed.
There she was, another 9 year old girl who knew how to make the most out of an outfit.      
I get so much more than I give.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Filling My Soul

It was cold and gloomy and looked like it was going to rain.
The marigolds reflected my mood - frozen on the tops, solid below.
I was trying to come out of yesterday's annual heartache, and those poor marigolds gave me the opportunity to do w hat I love most - wreak havoc in the garden, surrounded by kids who want to be there, too.  There is no amount of sorrow which cannot be assuaged by the presence of dozens of small and dirt covered fingers.

 We tried to deadhead the brown blossoms, leaving their stems behind.
Some of the stems were still green, filled with fluid, resilient, and resistant to the pinching action of tiny digits.  The blossoms themselves yielded with dignity and aplomb.  They were properly odiferous, which was noted with varying degrees of disgust.  They fell apart into nothing, absolutely nothing!!!! upon any kind of examination at all. 
The occasional healthier bloom got caught up in the general destruction.
Luckily,  we were able to repurpose them. 
We weeded

and found a carrot
which we ate with our scallions
which gave us our Super Power - !Extreme Bad Breath! -
 before the whistle blew, and my gardeners had all returned to their classrooms.

My heart was still aching, but it was cushioned by the love.....
and, obviously, protected by my Super Power.

Yes, I have a group of dedicated gardeners who are addicted to scallions.
There are worse problems in the world.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Today, I went to a formal bell ringing and an informal hug fest.

I had food with friends.

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

Christina-Taylor was not.

I'll be back tomorrow with more and deeper thoughts.  Right now, I'm trying not to examine any of the raw spots too carefully.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

January 8th

It doesn't have any other name.  It doesn't make the list of mass shootings on the chyrons.  It was a big deal and then not so much of one and every now and then it comes around again.

I wish it wouldn't.  I wish people wouldn't have to worry about me, about how I'm doing, about where I'll spend the day, about how they can help.

I wish it were just another Tuesday.

But it's not.  It's a very special Tuesday this year, one that makes me smile.  Today, on the anniversary of the assassination of a Federal Judge and the attempted assassination of a sitting Congresswoman, that Congresswoman will join the Speaker of the House as a bill is introduced to make meaningful changes in our nation's gun laws.

It won't solve everything. It won't fix the problem.  It's not enough and much too late.  True, all true.

But today, my Before-and-After Day, my government is working to make me safer.  Background checks as outlined in this bill would have thrown a monkey wrench into our shooter's plan to go to a store and buy a weapon designed to kill.  He was on a list, but not the right list.  That problem is addressed today by our nation's leaders.  They are standing together to tackle which cannot be fixed.

No one can give me back my little friend.  I'm not asking for that.  I wanted her to be remembered, for her loss to have meaning as life went on.  And so, 7 years after kindergarteners were gunned down in their classrooms, our legislators are taking a stand.

A small stand, but a meaningful one.  H.R. 8.... in honor of Gabby, and, I choose to believe, all the rest of us too.  All of a sudden, 8 isn't such an awful number.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Rescue Me

Little Cuter wonders if anyone has ever rescued me.

There were four handsome Australians who rescued me from predatory Italian teens in 1969.  There was the job offer that kept us off food stamps in 1977.  But I went straight to Nurse Nancy and Dr. Dave, who triaged and compressed and calmed me that morning on the sidewalk outside the grocery store 8 years ago tomorrow. 

They literally saved my life.  That counts as a rescue. They win all the marbles. But I went deeper, because that kind of question deserves contemplation.  Even if I'd wanted to ignore it, the damn thing kept popping up in my brain, day after day.  Here are my thoughts.

Tanya (the only blog person without a blogonym because she's just that special) rescued me from feeling that I had nothing left to offer.  She opened the doors to her classrooms and the loving hearts they contained.  I left one child bleeding on the sidewalk only to walk through the door of a school with more than 600 hearts just waiting to be held. 

It was a rescue I didn't know I needed at the time, which makes it even better.

The gynecologist who diagnosed my depression and sent me on to find the proper medications rescued me from 50 years of living with a knot in my gut.  That, too, was unexpected.  I thought everyone walked around with a fistful of anxiety in her chest.  That moment of exquisite peace when the meds kicked in and the angst went away certainly felt like a rescue, even if I had been unaware that I was drowning, unnecessarily going down in a morass that was fixable. 

Fixable.  That was a new concept for me.  The notion that I didn't have to suffer before I could smile, that I could relax and enjoy the world, that disaster wasn't lurking around every corner - she tossed me a lifeline and I've held onto it ever since.

But the rescue triggered by my daughter turns out to be the most personal one, the quietest one, the one that links generations and fills my heart whenever the question reappears in my head. 

Sitting Shiva for G'ma, the family around the table, playing games and drinking, laughing and remembering, FlapJilly there but not yet announced, it was, as Intrepid Cat noted, a great party...too bad G'ma had to die for us to have it. 

It was snarky enough to ring true to all of us.  We each could conjure up that judgmental face, that twinkly eye, that knowing nod of the head that defined the woman we were gathered to mourn.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks - she was really most sincerely dead.

Gone.  Forever.... the concept of infinity that hurts my brain was suddenly stabbing me in the heart.  No one between me and the abyss, and no way to recover that which I had lost.  No more answers to unasked question, no frame of reference through which to view the past. 

I was bereft.

And there was my girl.  Can I cry on you, kiddo?

Of course. Let's go.

And we went into a quiet room and she held me as I sobbed, patting my back as I missed my mommy, reassuring me that she had me and would always have me and telling me to cry it all out, just let it go.

I'm teary as I type this.  She pulled me back from the edge.  She straightened me up and aimed me in the right direction.  She supported and comforted and strengthened. 

If that's not a rescue, I don't know what is.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Good Bye, Silver Sneakers

Much of TBG's bike class at LA Fitness was up in arms yesterday; their memberships were no longer valid under the old rules.  Money was to be exchanged, accounts were to be updated, and spleen was vented. As of January 1, 2019, the AARP recommended, Humana Medicare Supplement plan, the one that everyone gets, no longer covers Silver Sneakers in Arizona.

Somehow, Humana managed to alienate a cadre of voluble, venerable, athletic subscribers with the stroke of a pen. 

According to my very busy Medicare Consultant (who, once I manage to attract her attention, is delightful, competent, thoughtful, and snarky), Humana's actuaries didn't think that customers used the benefit, although she was at a loss as to how they came to that conclusion. My clients certainly use it.

Use it or lose it - Daddooooo said it to Nannie, I said it to G'ma, and AARP says it to me.

I've typed about the absurdity of eliminating a provision designed to cut costs by keeping us healthy before.  I typed about situating G'ma in the apartment with the furthest distance to cover between her bed and her dining room because all the medical personnel agreed on one thing - those who move, live. 

Without impediment, I could follow my yogi and visit my grandchildren and work out with friends. My insurance company and I were working together.  I would do the work, they would pay the bill.  I looked at it as a contract between me, my health, AARP, and Humana.  We all cared about keeping me around and intact for as long as possible.  We all agreed that sitting still was a bad idea. 

I reveled in the fact that, for once, every part of the program was on the same page.  And as I reveled, Humana decided to eliminate that benefit in Arizona. 

No more open access.  A discount where before there was no fee.  Something called Silver Fit which is less helpful and more annoying. 

Good Bye, Silver Sneakers.  I'm sad to see you go.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Are You Feeling It, Too?

FaceBook smacked me in the mouth with it this morning. 
Okay, vacation's over! Get out of your pajamas and start adulting!
I was snuggled up with an iPad and a good book, gloomy coldness outside making the comforting blankets feel just a little bit warmer.  And then that piece of advice doused me with cold water.  I really ought to get up and get going.

The Prince Scholars are on vacation until Monday; I had vague hopes of joining them.  Apparently, it is not to be.

Little Cuter took today off as a mental health day.  Personal care, space from those who love her and need her, hours spent on her own terms.... she hosted and parented while the rest of us vacationed; she, among all others, deserves at least one day off. 

I have no such excuse.

I secured a spot in a Level II Pilates Coretet in the 9 o'clock hour, and dashed through the brisk morning air, clambered up the stairs, and stretched until I had no more kinks at all.  We went out to lunch and transferred our prescriptions to accommodate our new Rx plan and tried to get the car washed but it was closed. 

Too cold and gloomy for the cleaners to be cleaning meant the same fate for my gardening plans.  I gathered the holiday decor within the confines of the dining room and once I scour the house for any final lurking remnants (like the Santa face door hanger I just noticed on the desk beside me) I'll box them up and call Amster's kids to schlep them to the closets in the garage.

I'm saving my energy for the parts of adulting that only I can do.  Heavy lifting is not on that list.

I will check the bills to be sure there are none in need of paying, then I'm going to start the last of the books in the series Big Cuter gave for Christmas. As I hang on with my fingertips to the warm fuzzies of vacation mode I find that I'm adulting.... but my way.... in sweats and oversized comfy tops.... with only myself to please.

I'm listening to the voice that says Smile!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

January 1, 2019

I'm going to try to stay awake to welcome in the new year.  This afternoon I thought about welcoming 2019 along with Little Cuter, who lives on East Coast time.  That made me smile, and I will certainly text her when her clock strikes 12, but I really want to usher this year out the door on my own terms, and that will require that I am awake.

I want to watch the stars and smell the cold desert night and breathe deeply of possibilities and the future.

My New Year's Resolution, like most of my good ones, came to me fully formed and out of the blue.  Someone was complaining and I wa.  s annoyed that she was complaining and then I wondered why I was listening at all, since she was declaiming to the lobby in general.  Why did I allow her into my personal space?

I didn't have to hear it.  I could concentrate on the studio's background music or concentrate on tying the perfect shoelace knot.  I could hum to myself.  That which was unpleasant did not deserve space in my head; I could tune it out.  Without guilt.  Without shame.  With full acknowledgement of the existence of the annoyance, I gave myself permission to avoid that which did not enhance my life.

I'm going to pay attention to what I listen to.

I'm going to curate what gets more than a cursory space in my brain.  I'm going to have to concentrate on the good, because that which does not enhance my life isn't worthy of attention, and I have a lot of attention to be paid.  I've spent too many years focusing on what might go wrong; I'm going to try to concentrate on what's going right.

I'm going to pay attention to what I listen to.

I'm not going to listen to the little voice in my head when it wants me to feel small or anxious.  Fear, rage, sorrow.... those are emotions I can work with.  But the niggling nagging belittling worry monster is no longer welcome.

Neither external nor internal noise will be tolerated.  I will attempt to create order and beauty out of that which cannot be avoided.  The sun came up today and I was here to see it.  By definition, it's a good day.  I resolve to enjoy it.

I'm going to pay attention to what I listen to.
One of the first little voices I'm pushing out of my head is the one telling me to fix my Resolution. 
Stephen Pinker says that rhythm can overrule grammar when writing around the problem won't work.  And  I thought about it, twisting the words around and adding others but nothing was right.  It's not what I'm hearing, because I'll hear everything.  It's more about what sticks around, what demands my attention, what bears listening to. 

So, even though I commandeered  the I'm Silently Correcting Your Grammar t-shirt in the seasonal closet cleansing, I've made my peace with it all.  I hope those of you on whose ears it grates can forgive me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Why I Have Hope

Happy New Year, Denizens!!
May it be filled with laughter and love and light.