Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Free Concert and A Front Row Seat to History

Mark Kelly for Senate was really a lot of fun.

For one thing, while everyone was standing, unable to see unless they were in the front few rows or were exceptionally tall or were hoisted on their Daddy's shoulders, TBG were comfortably ensconced on folding chairs in the front row, inside the VIP rope. 

No feet at all in front of us was Luz de Luna

with attitude

and joy

and music.

Oh, the music.

The standing room only crowd began filling the plaza at 2pm.  They kept coming for the better part of an hour, becoming pleasantly restless as the minutes ticked by.  Usually, a long wait is something TBG and I studiously avoid.  But there was a free concert going on right in front of us and the violin bows were crashing into one another in an obviously ongoing battle for supremacy, and the sun was shining and I was there to enjoy it.  

I  took great delight in the superfast recitation of I Am My Own Grandpa by the sound-checking hipster staffer.  I loved the un-muffler-ed motorcyclists who roared around the block, quieted, yelled Mark Kelly for President, and roared off to cheers from the gathered throng.

I admired the traditional Navajo dress of the campaign treasurer.
I loved listening to the youngest survivor of our shared experience command the audience's attention. And I loved this
and this.
And I love that Scott helped Gabby down that ramp to Mark's filial riff on their shared resemblance to the view of the earth from space - round. 

Science and facts permeated his stump speech, drawing more cheers than anything else. With guns and health care and climate change and a living wage as part of his platform,  I'm thrilled that a candidate such as Mark Kelly has a serious chance in my Arizona.
We left with a sticker and a window sign and an American flag - and a whole bunch of intangibles that keep jumping up and grabbing my heart.  It's fun to feel excited about an election again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Dear Prince Elementary School,

When I was a little girl
I loved my birthdays.  
As I grew older, they became less important.
Yesterday, you made them special for me, again.

I love my birthday cards, and all the words inside and out and on the back (yes, I looked).
Thank you for the compliments; one is never too old to be told that she is beautiful.
 I'm so very happy that my presence makes you smile, cheers you up, makes you glad to see me.
You know that you do all that for me, too, don't you?

You are all beautiful, inside and out.
You all make Prince a very special school..
You are kind and generous and helpful.
You are thoughtful and compassionate and silly.
You are eager learners and willing sharers of knowledge.
You make me feel loved as soon as I come through the door.

I loved my Hallway Serenade, Kindergarten Style.
There's nothing like a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to Me to put a smile on my face.
Your classroom cards are fantastic, as is your penmanship.

And then there was the Cake Parade, developing quite a following as you walked across the playground.  Another chorus of one of my favorite songs accompanied my cutting the cake and the icing roses just so.  On behalf of the last group of Garden Club Scholars (who were lucky enough to be there to share it with me) THANK YOU!!!

You gave me a wonderful day, a "just a little bit more special" day, a day 
I'll remember, always.

Know that you are all welcome - grownups and kids alike - to gather some Prince Super Powers. 
Our Grandma's Garden scallions, parsley, and lettuce is all grown with love.
You've shown me that there's plenty to go around.

With love,
Grandma Suzi

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Friends and Family Entrance

I always refer to my Perforation Family, a very extended family at this point, as members of The Club That No One Wants To Join. 

Like any club, though, there are perks to the membership.  In my case, it's access to a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate.  He called, we were thrilled, offered all the help we could imagine, and then Gmail brought me the news that I could bypass the long lines at his Kick Off Event by going to the Friends and Family Entrance on 5th Street. 

So, to 5th Street we went, TBG and I  We parked in the underground garage and rode up in the elevator with Ruben Moreno, the mariachi maestro who serenaded us as we toured the outdoor memorial at the hospital. There was much hugging, as there always is when we see one another around town. 

 Eight years.... yesterday.....the Friends and Family part was starting early.

We passed through a gate keeper or two and found ourselves wandering around the fairly empty patio of the Hotel Congress.  Forewarned that it was a Standing Room Only event, we quickly staked out spots on the most comfortable bench in the back. 

That lasted about 30 seconds.  It was cold.

We strolled over to the sunshine and found another Family Member.  Again, there was much hugging and catching up as she guided us to front row folding chairs.  Getting shot has its privileges, I suppose.

My State Representative's wife;, my MoC; this one's husband and that one's wife; Nurse Nancy who saved my life and Pat Maisch who fights the good fight, both wearing embroidered Moms Demand Action shirts... there was so much hugging and so much joy and so much hope and promise that it was easy to forget that the genesis of our friendships was the worst day of our lives.

I refused to get maudlin, though CTG was never far from my thoughts.  How could she not be, when everyone who looked at me that day saw her, as well.  Or thought of her, and that's good since her dad just wanted to be sure that she was not forgotten.

No, she's not forgotten.  She was well represented on the stage by another girl who was there that morning.  Emma McMahon was Gabby's Page one summer; the next January her mom was shot three times while protecting Emma with her body.  They were both at Mark's event, her mom madly taking pictures behind a very proud smile, as Emma introduced her hero, Gabby Giffords, to the crowd.

There's a future for that kid, that's for sure.  Just as there is a future for Mark Kelly and the members of the Friends and Family Club That No One Wants To Join.  We're the ones left behind to do the work, to raise our voices, to create the change so that nobody else need apply for membership.

Sadly, we're always here when you need us, right through The Friends and Family Entrance. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

A Shoelace Emergency

Sitting on the side of this month's Spirit Assembly,
watching Prince Scholars of the Month pose for pictures with their Mustang Mascot on Crazy Hair Day,
I noticed a shoelace emergency.  One of my most fidgety kindergarteners, sitting at my feet in the very front row, had straggly laces, knotted laces, laces which were invulnerable to my every effort to tie them.  Luckily, my cape's capacious pockets hold a plenitude of shoelaces, donated to GRIN via Facebook's Giving Tuesday event.  

Yes, I carry shoelaces in my pockets. It's what I do.   Unfortunately, I did not carry a pair of scissors.  I raced (in my fashion) across to the cafeteria lady, begged her help, and was able to return the shoes before the next round of photos. 

He really wanted to pull out the old laces, so I left him some easy ends.  The friend looking over his shoulder got in on the act, as well.   
So did his teacher.
A short lesson in tying 
involving bunny ears
came to a screeching halt when the length of the shoelaces became apparent.
Taking over, Ms B explained that the shoelaces were long because they belonged to Grandma Suzi's brother. 
"Your BROTHER??" 
"Yes, my brother."  
"Now I have cool, all grey shoes!
With cool, grey laces."

Friday, February 22, 2019

Happy Washington's Birthday! Really

I first published this in 2011. 
 It remains one of my favorite rants.
I remember when THIS was the most aggravating thing our government did.
Mary Ball Washington gave birth to a boy child on February 22, 1732. Unlike many of the stories surrounding this man (think cherry trees and coins across the Potomac and standing up in an open boat as it crossed the Delaware) this is an indisputable fact.

Mary was not in labor on the third Monday of February.  She produced her child on a specific day - the 22nd day of February.  His birthday didn't move around with the vagaries of the federal holiday calendar.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln met her second son, Abraham, 209 years ago today.  Like Mrs. Washington before her, she was not in labor on an indeterminate day sometime in the middle of the month.  It occurred on a certain day, a day formerly commemorated by school children and mail carriers alike.

Alas and alack, these fine gentlemen have been conflated into Presidents and their birthdays combined into a generic celebration designed primarily to afford employees the opportunity for a 3-day weekend in the middle of the winter. What was wrong with the old system, I wonder?  As an elementary school kid I looked forward to those random days off in the middle of the month.  One day, breaking up the routine.  One celebration for each president - pennies examined on the 12th, leadership and lying (not) on the 22nd.

There was no time for a weekend away (not that G'ma and Daddooooo could have afforded to take us anyplace anyhow) and there was no competition between students for who went the furthest and had the most fun.  It was an opportunity to go sledding at Bethpage (the Black Course was used for many things in my youth; this was the best of them) or to meet friends at the bowling alley and then walk to Smiles (our precursor to a 5-and-dime) where we cruised the aisles until our parents picked us up.

It was grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon on the side, eaten on paper plates and accompanied by the admonition Don't Tell Daddy since the bacon was not exactly kosher and he cared a lot more than did G'ma.  There were snow forts to be built, snowball fights to be fought, snow men to be built. The entire neighborhood roamed from front yard to front yard, creating and tumbling and finding warmth and drinks and the occasional bathroom in whichever house we happened to be in front of when the need arose.

And now?  Now President's Day is always an event.  It's a long weekend for which plans must be made.  It has no intrinsic meaning, no relationship to George or Abe or any of their colleagues.  Their faces are used to advertise white sales and car sales and furniture sales and The History Channel runs back to back episodes of The Presidents but that's about the size of the historical component.  What began as tributes to great men has devolved into spending opportunities for the masses.

Am I bitter?  You bet.  A day off followed by another one 10 days later.... what better way to combat the winter doldrums than that?  A random day, a day to cuddle under the blankets with your sweetie or to do all that laundry that interfered with your weekend plans and so still sits in the basket, mocking you.  A day to explore the neighborhood and have lunch in that place you've driven by 100 times before..... a day just to be.

Sometimes, when I was a girl really was better.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Goodbye, Silver Sneakers - A Snippet

It Happened

TBG's pass didn't work at the gym this morning.  Our relationship with Silver Sneakers has been officially severed.  No one is paying my membership fees.

$22 per month for an all-USA-access pass to LA Fitness seems reasonable.  I'm committed to regular exercise.  TBG lives most of his away-from-home-life in the gym.  I went through the internet sign-up procedure for whatever the United Health Care AARP Medicare Supplement calls their subsidy program.... twice.... once for me, once, after a bit of a kerfuffle with the software, for TBG.

It was a lot more work and a lot more money than Silver Sneakers was.  They required no sign-up procedure; I produced my identification, the club looked me up in an on-line data base, and in I went.  Platinum Fitness, Fit Stop, LA Fitness.... they all were glad to see me.

I worry about my less enthusiastic-about-the-whole-exercise-thing friends.  When it was free, and available everywhere, excuses were harder to come by.  Now, for people on a fixed income, watching every expenditure, $22 a month is a noticeable expense.  Couple that with a natural reluctance to start something new, and the insurance companies have, once again, taken steps to undermine our health.

Am I being overly dramatic?  Perhaps.  But aren't you used to that from me by now? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Today’s post was published yesterday afternoon.
I have no new thoughts to share this morning.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Happy Thoughts

I woke up to find that I had not published yesterday's post.  Rereading it, I started today the way yesterday ended - fearing for the safety of a Federal Judge.  Deducing that this was not a productive stance, I resolved to think happy thoughts, and sat down to write this post.

I saw the snow on Mt. Lemmon, my thoughts wandered to Daddooooo pulling all 3 kids on sleds tied one to the other, and I was smiling until I looked down and saw a swarm of black bugs crawling over the river rocks in the courtyard.

Where are the lizards when you need them?  Aren't those migrating birds the least bit hungry?  Granted, it's only 46today, but there's a free buffet climbing the concrete plinth of my southern column and I wish you would take advantage of the situation.  Like, now.

It's like watching a train wreck - it's awful and I can't tear my eyes away from it.  We've had a lot of intermittent rain over the last few weeks; the ground cover is covered with what passes for crabgrass

here in the desert.
It's not only my yard; all around me, the weeds and the viruses and the parasites, like mistletoe,

are enjoying the natural irrigation and cooler temperatures.

The humans are discontent.  We'll have two sunny days, albeit with below freezing nights, then more rain will fall.  Looking back at previous electric bills, we usually turn on the pool by the end of February.  I don't think that will be happening this year.

But I lost the train of happy thoughts, so I drove down to Prince Elementary School where Maurice Sendak's wild things terrified some kindergarteners with their terrible claws - on their feet!!! -  and where I found my smiles once again.

There were three girls with pink sneakers.  There was a headband with kitten ears atop a shiny head of black hair.  There was a boy without a jacket and a girl who forgot it at home and neither of them seemed the least bit uncomfortable on the playground.  There were random hugs from random Prince Scholars - where else can I go and find so much love available for the taking?

The traffic coming home didn't bother me.  The broken garage door couldn't dampen my mood.  The black bugs have disappeared and the sun is, once again, glinting off the snowcovered mountain tops out my window, as I sit here, typing to you, with a smile on my face.

Sometimes, it's the simple things that do the trick.

Horrified, Redux

Bloomberg Opinion made me smile with this headline:

Democrats Are Putting Gun Control Front and Center
The party has recruited Mark Kelly, who has made the fight against firearms his top issue, to run for the Senate in Republican-leaning Arizona.

Then Facebook made me wonder if this could be true:

Roger Stone Posts and Deletes Photo of Judge With Crosshairs

I followed the link to Time, which I deem a reputable news source, and found the original article along with this comment, toward the end:

some wondered aloud whether the image constituted threatening a federal judge.

Some wondered?????  Threatening?????

The last time I heard about crosshairs on an important person's face a federal judge ended up dead, and the Congresswoman who was targeted took a bullet to the brain.  I'd say that Judge Amy Berman Jackson has every reason to feel threatened.

I hope she is not naive enough to assume that she is not.

Been there.  Done that.  Ended up in a good place, but can't really recommend the precipitating event.  Take care, Judge Jackson.  Take care.

Monday, February 18, 2019


If you are going to see the Live Action Short Oscar Nominees, this is a SPOILER ALERT!
Unfortunately, on Saturday, six of us saw the Live Action Short Films nominated for this year's
Oscar. We probably should have paid attention to more than the starting time.  We should have examined the subject matter..

The nominees tell the stories of:

  1. A child alone and in danger
  2. A tween and quicksand
  3. Unrequited love and dying
  4. Ten year old child killers
  5. Children, guns, racism 
Four of them didn't end well.  The fifth was just melancholy, bordering on maudlin.  Bathos came to mind.

After the first one, told from the mother's perspective, The Doula and I found ourselves looking at one another, palms upraised, wondering "Why?"  By the time the toddler was kidnapped by the bigger kids, my head was spending an inordinate amount of time in my hands.  When, at the end, in a bizarre case of mistaken identity, a son shot the father he adored, we could hardly wait to get out of the theater.

Whose sensibilities are reflected in these films?  Who would voluntarily subject herself to these experiences?  Was there not one film in the entire world with a message worth remembering?  Do any of the nominators ever smile?

Those are the questions I pondered on the way to dinner, where yes, we'll have the large margaritas started the healing process.  For suggesting and promoting the activity, The Kibbitzer and I owe our friends a debt that will be hard to repay.  

All of us were glad the sun was out the next morning.  Gloomy weather would have been one blow too many.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentines at AMS

It was controlled chaos.

There was collaboration

and independent work.

Grandma brought scrapbooking tools for making round edges with hearts,
odd edged scissors,
and magic markers of varying viability.
Some were immediately enthusiastic

and some took a little more convincing.
And, in the end, 
it was all about love.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Open House in Grandma's Garden

It was Tuesday and the Scholars were surprised to see me.
There was a lot of work to be done to ready the garden for the Open House for donors.
Although some were disappointed by the emphasis on work
after a little bit of cheer-leading
the empty pots were filled with aloe 
and random seeds harvested from those spilled on the bench. 
The hanging garden received a careful hand watering.
And there was raking. 
Lots and lots of rakiing.

There was also mischief.
The rules are few and simple.
1.Don't climb on and don't fall off  the rocks.
2. All tools must stay below your shoulders.
Sometimes you just have to stare at Grandma and see how far she'll let you go.
Big smiles and giggles go a long way toward mitigating my wrath,
specially when my heart is soothed by a kid who found a quiet place to dig with a pint sized trowel.
Grandma's Garden is a good place for that.

Wednesday was warm and partly cloudy, perfect for showing off our space.
TBG and Lady Jane were regaled with stories and scallions.
while Beth Hargrove, from Rilllito Nursery 
explored the onion sets and the irrigation system. 
She showed a Gardener how to find and spread the marigold seeds hiding within the moribund flowers remaining on the stalks.  They never really recovered from the freezing nights.  Beth showed us how the garden reseeds itself, with just a little help from its friends.

Grandma's Garden is lucky to have lots of friends.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

@Shuttle CDRKelly

Find the video.

This is a man who believes in science, in facts.

This is a Navy pilot, the Commander of the Space Shuttle, and, because his wife showed him how to use public policy for the common good, his is a powerful voice for responsible gun violence prevention legislation.  

Also, he is very well behaved.

He likes his brother and his brother likes him.  He's friends with the rich and famous (Nancy Sinatra congratulated him on Twitter) and his friends from college. His wife's family likes him.

My family and friends like him.  We all saw him on the worst days of his life.  He always had something for us: a smile, a phone number, a space geek conversation.  He's a real guy, the same person in the video as in his living room.  

He's running to wrest the Participation Trophy from our appointed-by-the-Governor Senator, Martha McSally.  It is true that McSally is not my favorite human, true that I probably would have supported the Democrat no matter who it might turn out to be. But now I have a chance to support someone with whom I agree on my two major issues - health care and guns - and who has a real chance to make a difference in our world.

Did I mention that he is well behaved?  

Mark Kelly for U S Senate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What To Do? What To Do? - Random Thoughts

Amy Klobuchar stood in the snow.

Mayor Pete discussed his book from a chair in a gigantic South Bend lobby.

Elizabeth Warren stood on a stage with a gazillion flags behind her.

Howard Schultz is on a book tour, too, as people wonder if buying a venti latte is also making a political statement.

A lot of people are running to be POTUS.  It's a plethora of riches.
Democratic Socialism is being defined in the newspapers.  Racism is roiling Virginia's governance.  Gun Safety Legislation is being passed in State Houses across the land.  Nogales wants the Feds to take down the newly-installed concertina wire; the Feds say Sorry, Charlie.

I'm quite confused.
Legislators known for their negotiating skills were tasked with finding a way to keep our government open.  Between funding a see-through-steel-barrier (see-through-steel being my favorite Trump-ism these days) and limiting the number of ICE's detention beds, we're really between a rock and a hard place.  Should the government shut down, the negotiators will still be paid, even if other employees are not.

There's something very wrong with that picture.  Where's the noise on that front?
It was 40-something degrees outside this morning.  The birds are migrating, perching atop the crepe myrtle, picking at the seed pods.  The poppies are pushing up through the soil,.

Instead of gardening I'm searching for a clean sweatshirt to keep me warm between the car and the gym.  Puget Sound is bracing for the 4th or 5th snowfall in two weeks, trying to function without enough plows or salt or worker bees to clear the streets. 

The world is trying to decipher the difference between weather and climate while our Tucson visitors stare at cold, wet, gloomy skies, and we who live here apologize profusely for the rain and the wind.
What to do?  What to do?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Subject: warning shot
Keeping this short... we know you're busy.

We are still 22 months away from the 2020 elections, but Chuck Schumer is already recruiting a new political puppet to throw their hat in the ring and run against Martha McSally next year.

Schumer's PAC has even started running television ads against Martha. Washington liberals are dying to get rid of her because they know she'll never back down to their radical agenda.

This is a warning shot Friend — the fight to de-fend this seat has officially begun.
This assaulted me in my inbox last week.   I ignored it.  It reappeared this morning, forwarded by my Junior Senator herself.  Aside from the obvious grammatical mistakes, the content was no better than the subject.

This is what I emailed in response:


Senator, you are the most tone deaf individual I have ever encountered.  


You rose to prominence in the seat held by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who took more than A WARNING SHOT to the brain while doing what you were too reticent, to reluctant, too dare I say it cowardly to attempt - meeting her constituents while standing in front of a grocery store.  

No tickets.  No fee.  No red tape.  Just Gabby and a few dozen constituents...... until the bullets started to fly.  Ron Barber sat in that seat next, and, just a little more than a year after being perforated himself, he stood in the same spot, doing the same thing.  Ann Kirkpatrick, who represents us now, held one last Saturday.  You may say on your website that you are deployed to Washington, but your deployment does not seem very fraught with danger.... or constituents.


We who were there had no warning, none at all.  

Once you were elected to the House, we tried to get you to meet with us, publicly and privately.  I've written to you, publicly and privately.  I've been in your Tucson office more times than I care to remember.  I have spoken with your District staff and your D.C. staff.  I have never heard from you.  You have never explained why you think I lied, though you did manage to malign me in your telephone town hall when the article appeared.  

You are no more approachable as a Senator.  You have no office in Tucson, where you live, though you have one in Phoenix, where your patron, Gov. Ducey, lives.  Your office has responded "I haven't had a chance to speak to the Senator about that" to each and every phone call I've made.  

I make a lot of phone calls.

I signed on to this mailing list to find a window into your world.  I'm sorry I unlocked the sash.

Friday, February 8, 2019


A lot goes into the creation of a garden space.
Logistics is a big part of it.
The hanging garden required soil.  I required help getting it into and out of my car. The salesclerk at Home Depot put the bags in the trunk.  A young woman in a UofA sweatshirt took pity on me in the school parking lot, re-parked her car, and wheeled the bags I'd dumped onto my dolly all the way into the lobby.  Perhaps, in a pre-perforated lifetime, I might have managed it myself.  This week, not so much.
The rest was up to the Garden Club.
Balancing the load by hand seemed simpler than moving the bags themselves.
Pushing required three or four hands. 
Making the curve around the empty planter led to a mini-disaster. 
Having learned their lesson around the planter, the Garden Club used momentum and a lifting motion on the bags to make the turn toward the garden itself. 
With the end in sight, their gazes were uplifted. 
The girls got the heavy lifting done, depositing the bags at the entrance to the garden.
Their work was done.  They ran back to the playground, feeling very proud of themselves.

The next day, after the kindergarten girls tried and failed to move one of the bags to a more relevant location, these two he-men bent, counted, lifted and moved it without being asked. 
There are so many lessons to be learned.
There are so many ways to help.
There are so many opportunities to get very dirty.... to eat scallions.... to plant seeds and seedlings.
As always, you are all invited to drop in, any Wednesday over lunchtime.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

What They Told Me About Myse;f

I was born at French Hospital in NYC. Daddooooo had issues with the nuns. He wanted to be certain that, if it came to a choice between saving the mother or the baby, that the Catholic hospital would choose the soul he knew (G'ma) rather than the soul they’d created (me). “I can always make another baby, but I know and love my wife.”
Though they had both taken LaMaze classes,
Daddooooo was not allowed in the delivery room. When he first saw me, around 2am, I opened my eyes and looked at him, straight on, connecting to a part of himself that I’m not sure he knew was there. He patted my head, welcomed me to the world, and went home to sleep.

Mary Johnson was the baby nurse for all 3 of their children. She was tall and white and wore a uniform; I remember her wondering why Brother and I had the pots and pans out on the kitchen floor early on the morning that our sister was born.
Apparently, I loved Mr.Kelly, a stuffed clown with a ceramic face. When the crawl space flooded in the 1960’s, Mr. Kelly floated out. G’ma and Daddooooo were surprised (and, I think, a little sad) that I didn’t recognize him at all.
We lived in London Terrace, in NYC. G’ma would take me to the local pocket park, where I reclined in the pram while the hobos (20th century homeless males) made sure that no strangers bothered us.
I went ice skating at Grossinger’s Resort in the Catskills when I was just learning to walk. I was probably more competent then than I ever was.
And that’s it. I have the cards that were sent when I was born, but not many stories. I wonder why. Was I boring? Was their present too disappointing to allow for happy backward glances?

I wish I had asked for more.  It's too late, now.