Friday, March 29, 2019

Volunteerism on a Thursday Morning

I'm starting them young.

Pulling my luggage cart filled with those Smart Water bottles across the courtyard this morning, I stopped to chat with a teacher.  After agreeing that Charlotte's Web is appropriate for everyone at every age, she moved on and I was left with four girls eager to know if the Garden was open for business.

"I need help, it will take all recess, are you ladies free?"

I heard the "Yessssss"-es as they ran ahead, leaving me in their wake.  Approaching the Garden gate, I was joined by a boy who wondered what we were doing and if he could help.


Yes, sir, you can help.

But no one else.  This is a job best done by a small crew, and that opinion was seconded by the girls once they heard the plan.  We had those water bottles, a hose, hanging baskets (some shaded, some in full sun), rising temperatures, and a weekend coming up.

Grandma Suzi does not come to Prince on Friday.  The plants require hydration. The 6 of us were on it. We discussed the structure of the basket (it includes a water trough), when to stop (watch for water dripping out the bottom), which baskets might need more water once they all were watered once (the ones in the sun, "because... the sun!" with the look only a 9 year old can give), and I knew we had a meeting of the minds.

This was their project.  I didn't touch the bottles or the hose or the box or the Universal Key. 
They explained to those who came over that they could watch but please don't get in our way.
And no one did.  I smiled and nodded as the explanations were repeated, but I wasn't talking.   Once the bottles were full,

we confirmed the plan for tomorrow.  They and they alone could enter Grandma's Garden when Grandma wasn't there.  (This is a Major Privilege.) Yes, they could each bring one friend, but no more, and No, they didn't have to bring anyone else. 

We thanked one another and went our separate ways.  They to lunch, I to forward their faces to the people in charge.

I've never written a Hall Pass before.  I hope this suffices.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Parsley and a Surprise

When seeds are spread with profligate glee, this is what happens.
A plethora of plants.  An overwhelming, flowering, gone to seed invasion of parsley.  Something had to be done.  Thinning: We find the place where the plant meets the soil, grab firmly, and pull straight up.
We admire the root we have successfully extracted, and then, since we aren't composting (yet), the plants that no one wants to take home are carted to the trash can in our trusty green barrow.
This is a project with an unlimited life span; there were a lot of seeds spread with glee.
And then, nestled deep within her hanging basket, a treasure was discovered.
A radish.  A small, perfectly formed, red and white radish.
It was properly admired while Grandma Suzi found the plastic knife.
We shared tiny bits of our own garden grown produce.
Very tiny bits, but they were ours.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Making LIsts

Do you make lists?  We make lists in our family. 

Best Pizza (deep dish only because the New York pizza at Vincent's in Baldwin is indisputably the best pizza of any kind, thus obviating the need for the list at all.)

Best Mom-Being-Mom Story (falling/bouncing on the driveway during Family Basketball; still not  remembering which Cuter uses a slotted spoon to serve his/her tacos; No bag, there's enough packaging in the world come immediately to mind.

Best Dad-Being-Dad Story (Definitely starts with throwing lawn furniture onto the roof.... don't ask.)

Movies with No Bad Scenes - Inherit the Wind was just on TMC, which is what brought it to mind.  The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not (yes, I even like the Mr. Johnson scenes) lead off my noir category, sharing First Place with The Thin Man.  

Favorite Movies includes Love, Actually, (which isn't in No Bad Scenes because I don't like the Laura Linney character).

Best Movies include a lot of the ones above (okay, all of them), which can be watched at an time.  Best Movies also include those that need the right mood. Get Out (which is in my head once or twice a month, at least) and 3 Billboards come to mind. 

And, once again, my fingers are telling me where this rambling post is headed.  At Big Cuter's urging, we watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.   Knowing my penchant for crocheting or Candy Crush-ing while the television is on, he insisted that we do nothing else while watching it. 

He was right.  It's an animated comic book that draws you in and pushes you out of its world.  It wows you with visuals that are softer and stronger and brighter, faster, and odder, yet held together by webs and the best modern music score - spoken word poetry, with accompaniment, really -  since Get Out.  

And don't forget to share it with the kids.  It's about as multi-cultural as ..... well, it's multi-verse-centric and that allows for a lot of very cool Spider-People.  When's the last time a super-hero moved with the grace of a ballerina?

Actually, I can answer that question.  Little Cuter has a series of photos of FlapJilly in her ballet tights, tutu, and bun, wielding her Wonder Woman sword and shield, slaying Green, her extra large dragon (yes, there is more than one dragon in her collection), while talking to someone on her purple plastic play phone. 

It's nice to be able to recommend a movie that reinforces all those pieces of her. 

And that's only one slice of the moral of the story.  As I'm typing, I'm thinking that this Spidey fits into all the movie categories above.

You could start our own list :  Movies I Ought To Watch.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I'm Reading Again

Once I enrolled in the Faulkner seminar, I eschewed reading for pleasure.  I knew that feeding my brain with anything other than the required books would open me up to the temptation, release the floodgates, and damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead I'd be gorging on mystery series instead of plowing through early 20th century stream of consciousness blather. 

(Yes, I had a hard time with Faulkner.)

But the class ended with one book still unread.  The professor was correct - I enjoyed the lecture without having read the text.  Her comments were generally Faulknerian, rather than specific to one volume.  Since the characters fold over one another across the entire oeuvre, my lapse wasn't that big a deal.

And there's still that one book, un-returned to Little Cuter with his companions, waiting for a long lazy stretch of time.  I missed the public library.  I'm glad to have it back in my life.

I've finished one and am ready to start the second Lisa Scottoline lawyer-murder-mystery I seem to have missed since 2017. 

I've devoured three issues of Smithsonian, whose long form articles have taught me about things I didn't even know existed. 

Mary Higgins Clark teamed up with Alafair Burke to continue their true-crime-producer murder series, and even though I spent more time than I should've trying to see who wrote what, I enjoyed every page. 

And that's just this week.

It feels good to be back to my regular life.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Random Thoughts Over the Weekend

At one point, the owner of the winning brackets in our family pool was Giblet, whose parents chose his teams based on the sounds he is currently making.  Bffffff gave him Buffalo and Wofford, both of whom went further than almost everyone in the family thought they would.

There's something terrifically humbling about being bested by an 8 month old.
Ten days ago, TBG told me something he's been telling me for years: lift your right knee.  This time, he said it in a way that I could finally hear: You are strong enough.  You won't limp if you lift your knee.

A compliment wrapped in the promise of my ultimate goal:  A Fluid Gait.  That was all it took for me to reacquaint myself with the inner workings involved in raising my knee.  He is right - I am strong enough.  What's missing is endurance.  It's hard work.

But today, when Scarlet nearly cried watching me not limping across the patio, I felt rewarded for all those hours in the gym
Duke nearly lost to UCF on Sunday afternoon.  UCF is coached by a former Duke player, who brought Coach K's first NCAA championship home to Chapel Hill. 

The camera lingered on the two men embracing after the final buzzer.  It was very special.
I've spent 22 months waiting for the Mueller Report.  I'm strangely nonplussed by what was revealed on Sunday afternoon.

I find myself somewhat relieved that we're not trying to indict a sitting POTUS.  I want to concentrate on the ideas the Democrats are proposing rather than getting down into the judicial weeds surrounding that issue. 

On the other hand.........
The birds are migrating, filling my yard with peeps and squeaks and caws.  Leaning over the rosemary to water the newly planted containers on the other side of the pony wall, I disturbed all sorts of winged creatures.

Yellow necks and red crests and tiny little brown things (LBT's to those in the know) were none too pleased to have their feasting interrupted.  There are lots of creepy crawlies living among the bushes. Those with wings to to the air as well.

Surrounded by beings who make their way in the natural world,  I was definitely the intruder.
The book I wanted was unavailable in my (less than a mile down the road) Barnes and Noble this morning.  I went on Amazon Smile and found that, if I spent at least $35, Amazon Prime would have my goods to me before 9pm. 

There was no extra charge.  I forfeited the $1 credit for an audio book they'd give me if I requested 2 day delivery,  but I rarely download audio books.  I wanted to deliver the book tomorrow morning, and now I can. 

Jeff Bezos may know everything about me (I subscribe to the WaPo, I shop at Whole Foods, I use Amazon Smile) and that is kinda sorta creepy, but in return I get an otherwise unobtainable-in-time tome delivered to my front door, without paying an upfront charge for the service.

Every brave new world has its upside, I suppose.

Friday, March 22, 2019

What's App

JaVanka using a personal server to send emails.

She using her personal email and not forwarding the messages to her government account.

He communicating with foreign officials using his AOL account, taking screen shots to memorialize the occasions.

He talking to foreign leaders using What's App.

It was just more background noise from the swamp until they got to What's App.

Big Cuter was in Athens last week for work (sigh.....).  Before he left, he made sure I had installed, and then messaged me to be certain it worked, What's App. 

Apparently, that's how one messages a distant land.  It is also the first piece of the whole email scandal/private server scandal with which I have a personal relationship. 

I know about the existence of the screen shot, though I have no idea how to take one. 

I have a general notion about the role of the server, but I'd be hard pressed to go more than a sentence or two into it.

Auntie M alone among my correspondents uses AOL.

But What's App is on my phone.  It is something I understand.  I feel connected. 

It's not much, but it's something.

I really need to get a life.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Parental Snippet

(TBG spoke.  I typed and lightly edited.)

Dear Cuters,

The conversation as we warmed up before spin class this morning came around to Mayor Pete.

Some of my fellow Medicare recipients, while admiring his intellect, were concerned about his age.  Could they trust someone that much younger?  Had he lived enough to be relied upon?

And I sat there, on my bike, feeling enabled, enabled to reach the right decision about an impressive guy.  He does have good experience; the only thing slowing me down would have been his age.

But that is so easily overcome-able when I have the example of my own children, who, in their mid-30's, consistently exercise great judgment, fine intellects, and unquestioned integrity. 

Thank you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Watering the Hanging Garden

Once I got the right Universal Key, we could turn on the second hose bib.  That meant we could use the hose to water the hanging garden.  That meant we had to move the hose.
It meant untangling it, unkinking it, unwinding it.  It meant cooperation.  It meant getting dirty.
There were temptations aplenty, once things got straightened out.  It was cold enough (notice the gloves on the left) that no one wanted to take an outdoor shower.... but it was tempting.

That was then, when school was in session.  Today, the school is closed for Spring Break.  Grandma's Garden is behind a locked gate and a very high fence.  The raised beds and the mandarin orange tree are on the automatic irrigation system.  The hanging garden attached to that fence requires human attention.  It does not know that the Garden Club is on vacation.  It only knows that the sun is out, the breeze is blowing, and watering would be very nice, thank you so much, really, we'll perk right up.
I've been pondering the problem for a while.  I can't reach the hose bib from outside the fence.  I'm not strong enough to carry and lift enough water in one container.  My soccer mom water cooler won't fit between the slats.  Then, I remembered the Smart Water bottles I've been saving.  
My plan is to give them to the Garden Club kids who don't have a watering can at home, but there's no reason they can't be useful now.  I put the box in the trunk of The Uv.  I stood the water bottles around the hose bib outside my garage, filled them, and put them, one by one, into the box.  No heavy lifting for me; I save my energy for the tasks I enjoy.
Like watering.
I had exactly enough for all the baskets with sprouted seeds.
I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Geeking Out

GRIN has been getting a lot of attention lately, for some reasons I know and for some reasons I don't.  Normally, that news would make me smile.  People are thinking about my little 501(c)3.  I must be having some kind of an impact.  That is good.

But, the website was not good.  In fact, it was childish, puerile, kindergarten-like.... to perseverate a bit.  Go Daddy's website builder wasn't user friendly, at least as far as a semi-computer-literate 60-something year old found it.

I tried to update it, and made it worse.  I couldn't retrieve the original iteration.  I thought about calling the help line.  I thought about it a lot, often, whenever I thought of the website at all.  I did nothing about it.  The thought of dealing with the website gave me a stomach ache. 

I created a Facebook page, with just a little effort, and focused on that for making GRIN's presence known to the world.

Then, people started noticing GRIN.  The site went from 0 views per month to 4 or 5 each day.  The situation could no longer be ignored.  I reserved Saturday for the task; it was 3 o'clock before I sat down at the desk.  Neurasthenia, it's called - that tiredness you feel when you don't want to do something.  I was suffering until I couldn't stand myself.

I found my log in credentials easily and allowed myself a moment or two to revel in the joy of putting things back where I knew where to find them.  Of course, then I had to actually face the task.  I opened the website, clicked through the ad without looking, and tried to open the original website builder. 

The ad reappeared.  I read it.  It offered 30 days of free something or other.  I tried to get to the part of the site I remembered, but they really didn't want me to go there.  I took a deep breath, and accepted their free offer.

It was simple.  It was easy.  It was professional looking and stylish and, with a few minor glitches, exactly what I want it to be.  And, it was fun to use.  It took me longer than the promised website in an hour, but that was okay, too.  Like I said, it was fun.

I paused for dinner, closing the computer.  Reopening it that evening, I think I signed up for another 30 day free trial.  I have emails telling me about the wonderfulness of the deals I've agreed to.

That's an issue for another day.  Right now I'm reveling in the fact that I'm creating something all by myself.  I figured out how to upload GRIN related posts.  I have drop down menus. 

I'm proud.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Pete Boot-edge-edge

Anand Giridharadas, Time Magazine Editor at Large, tweeted this yesterday:

"Instantaneously........ like a magic trick" ---- that's how I want to write!

Thanks to Allison, a long-time denizen of The Burrow, for forwarding this to me, knowing that it would make my heart sing.  Six trenchant paragraphs leaving a lasting impression of both the author and the hero.  

The tweet strikes to the core of what is most attractive about Mayor Pete - his brilliant, curious brain, wired to dig deep and do the work, in search of a workable solution - and gives you an easy story to tell when people wonder about his qualifications.  "He learned an entire language to read more books."

Yes, I think he's ready to step into the Oval Office and do the job. He already knows the language.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Shen Yun

The commercials made me drool.  The colors jumped off the screen and so did the performers.  They leaped and twirled and spun as their costumes flared around them.  We missed them last year.  I was determined to go this year.  When I saw that the performance was on my birthday, I bought two seats on the aisle.

They were not inexpensive.

Billed as a response to the Communist Chinese Government's position that this spiritual heritage (was) an ideological threat,  a threat which they took so seriously that they,  for decades, tried to destroy these traditions, artistic director D.F. brings his company to venues all across the globe.  The advertising was sublime - people testified to seeing it 7 or 10 times, of having it change their outlook on the world, of being transported.

For TBG and me, not so much. 

There were two narrators - one speaking English, one Chinese (I suppose, since I speak no Chinese myself) - who introduced us through each half's ten segments.  The Ming Imperial Guards, the Sleeves of the Tang Palace. Porcelain in the Balance - it was a tour through 5,000 years of Chinese history presented with brilliant colors and flowing sleeves..... lots and lots of flowing sleeves. 

The porcelain jars were balanced on the girls' heads as they twirled and dipped and pranced.  The Imperial guards were fierce, the sleeves of the Tang Palace went in and out as if by magic.  We were kinda sorta impressed, but also somewhat non-plussed.

Their leaps were almost high enough, their pirouettes nearly flawless, their somersaults herky jerky.  There was leap frog.  There were circle dances.  There was running and holding and losing and finding but it was all just a little bit less than we'd expected.

What I didn't realize until The Divine Path is Near was that there was a spiritual underpinning to the whole thing.  There was a diety on the really-pretty-amazing screen  (the performers went into and out of the screen, in a patented system and method of integrating digital background with stage performance -US Patent No. 9,468,860) and the song was trying to touch my beliefs.

 Reading the program, I learned that the troupe members are spiritual seekers on a shared journey.  They draw inspiration from the spiritual practice of Falun Dafa.  They meditate together, study teachings together, and strive to live by the principles of truth, compassion and forbearance...(p)erforming with remarkable self-discipline and selflessness.....

The male narrator told us that Falun Dafa is also called Falun Gong.

The Artistic Director, D.F. is also the costume designer, director of classical Chinese dance, and a Distinguished Professor of Music and Dance at Fei Tian College in New York, an accredited 4 year college under the auspices of Falun Gong in America.  The LA Times gives a good background on the politics and the persecution and the origins (in 1992) of the movement. 

Nowhere does it reference the Law and Order episode which ended with Falun Gong members standing silently, arms outstretched, on the courthouse steps.  Everyone who heard my story remembered that episode.  No one remembered what the politics were or what the story line was or who was the good guy or the bad guy.  Everyone remembered the silent figures as creepy.

That's kind of what the show was like, too.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Best Advice (Because Someone Asked)

Don't do anything you don't want printed on the front page of the New York Times. (Daddooooo)

Don't be sad in advance. You'll have plenty of time to be sad once you know. Why waste time before then? Right now, enjoy being happy.  (Bubba)

Don't hold it inside. It only gets worse.  (Little Cuter)

Don't let the delivery get in the way of the message.  (Big Cuter)

Tell the truth. It's easier to remember than a lie. (G'ma)

Breathe! (Carol Gaxiola of Homicide Survivors)

And the very best advice, handed down by the women on both sides of my family to me and mine, advice that I am pleased to say that I have always followed:

Never leave the house in holey underwear.  What if you end up in the hospital? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

It's The Little Things - A Snippet

I planted snapdragons.  I carried a 20 pound bag of soil to the bed at the back of the patio.  I knelt and I sat and I bent.

The sun was out, the air was cool, and the breeze smelled of creosote from the rains the day before.  I was wearing gloves and long sleeves and tights; nothing was going to raise allergic bumps on my skin.

I trotted back and forth between the garden garage and the containers, lifting the bag of potting soil up to the rims and pouring in fresh nutrients. 

I carried everything back to storage.  I dragged and un-kinked the hose, stomping on the curls that wouldn't straighten out.

I had no pain.  I didn't notice my hip.  I was strong and fleet of foot.

At the end of the day, I had "regular people's tiredness" planting me on the couch.  It wasn't a perforated person's performance at all.

I seem to be making progress without really noticing it at all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Faulkner Finale

Big Cuter wondered what I learned in class this morning.  I had to tell him that class ended last week, with a whimper, not a bang.  I read two of the three books, and enjoyed them as literature even thought figuring out the story was less important than going with the flow.

Then again, to quote Alan Arkin, What flow?  There is no flow.

I need flow.  I'm uncomfortable without it.  I don't like fighting my way through to what's going on.  I require some basics, or at least a codex.  When I was able to spend an hour or two with the text, letting it wash over me, I could imagine the stream of Faulkner's consciousness.  But it was hard to get to a place of comfort before boredom set in.

The words were elegant.  The story was incomprehensible.  I couldn't keep the characters straight.

And yet I persisted.  I read nothing else for six weeks.  I knew that if I turned to something more accessible I'd never have the strength to return to those texts.  I read a few chapters of Absalom, Absalom, our final book, and I enjoyed the lecture. 

That was Monday.  I carried the text around all week.  It was in my bag at the TFOB.  But there were so many wonderful books at the Festival, and I was so tired of arguing with what I was reading, that I bought Craig Unger's House of Trump House of Putin  and I'm more than half way through it as I type these words.

I feel free.  I look forward to picking up the book.  I'm sharing factoids with TBG on a regular basis. 

But they are just words, sharing facts.  They are what they are, doing what Unger wants them to do - telling us what happened  He doesn't let the prose get in the way of the information he's sharing.

I kind of miss that annoying prose.

Monday, March 11, 2019

March Gardening

Little Cuter wanted to go outside and play, but it was too cold in Indiana for anything more than napping boys, girls doing artwork at the kitchen table, and Grandparental Units on Facetime.  

I didn't have the heart to tell her about these:
If you enlarge the purple petunias you see they are speckled.
That was new to me.

The succuents
and the cacti are very very happy, 
The cooler temperatures this winter didn't seem to bother them, sheltered as they are in the front courtyard and covered entryway.

The plants in the back had a harder time of it.  
They were in for some serious pruning.  
Thanks to Maga, I had a beautiful butterfly feeder to hold up the more-than-top-heavy flowery remains. 
The hanging basket had retreated into a shell of its former self.  Only the roots and the planting medium survived the temperature changes.  I removed the dead stuff, I separated the three plants as much as I could, and I re-potted them with Black Gold soil from Rillito Nursery
Now nestled in a woven basket (it may last only a season, but what a season it will be.

I wanted a picture of the first rose of the season, but the sunlight suggested that the jalapenos were more deserving.  They've frozen and wrinkled and although the camera makes them yellow, really they turned from green to bright red to an interesting burnt orange.  
My original project was to plant this rose beneath our bedroom window.
I was out there with the amending soil and the proper shovel and a great attitude.
After three pokes at the ground I decided to save my energy for other tasks. 
This beauty will be fine in her container until the garden guys come at the end of the month.
I want to live to garden another day.
I've got a six week window of opportunity; I can't waste a moment.

Friday, March 8, 2019

TFOB Part 5

And now we come to Trump. 

Sunday was Michael Isikoff, David Corn, Craig Unger, and Michael McFaul in the morning, talking about Russian Impulses.  Ambassador McFaul took a picture of us as we were taking pictures of us, before Jim Nintzel, the editor of Tucson's free weekly and the session's moderator, began the panel to serious applause with this statement about the state of our union:  "It's like a Tom Clancy novel, only more terrifying."

Here are some nuggets from all of them.  There were so many good ones I forgot to attribute some of the quotes to the speakers.  They didn't really disagree; I think they'll be okay with my mashup.
(Unger) The Russian Mob is a state operator.  There was $1.3 Trillion in assets sent out of Russia when Putin came to power.  That needed to be laundered.... and Trump sold 1300 condos.
A dozen guys in Russia hacked one guy in the US, and they changed the course of the election.
Deep Fake Videos exist which make it nearly impossible to tell reality from falsehood.
(Unger) Big law firms, like Jones Day, represent Russian oligarchs today.  Partners in these firms are serving in the White House today.
After a lengthy discussion on Facebook and Twitter ("They are tech companies, not media outlets, so they can't be sued because they claim 'no editorial oversight'"), the panelists offered advice on how to survive. 
Stay engaged.  Pay for good journalism.  That's how to protect democracy.
Americans want data.  Make people know what you want.
Feeling somewhat hopeful about the future, I strolled through the children's section, chatted up the creator of Clarabelle Blue, grabbed a cup of lemon gelato, and enjoyed the sunny weather before returning to the serious business of the day: Can Truth Survive Fake News.  Nina BurleighRick Wilson, and David McCraw - a journalist who covered the Amanda Knox trial, a tv talking head whose last book is Everything Trump Touches Dies, A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, and a lawyer for the New York Times - and the moderator, David Maraniss, presented a fascinating combination of outrage and sorrow.  

Here are some gems:
Roger Ailes was a tv genius - he brought 90 million viewers a day to Fox.
(Wilson) Most good White Houses leak on purpose.  This isn't a good one.
(Wilson)  He's crazy as a sprayed roach.  (I was laughing too hard to remember who he is.)
(Wilson)  Trump must drive a wedge between his base and the mainstream media, because if his words are reported accurately........
(McCraw) Saying "Well, my guy's not Harvey Weinstein,"  that's not really the bar.
Every relationship with Trump is centered on fear and loss.
Trump and Pecker - that defines DJT's relationship to the press - money or blackmail.
And then there was my favorite:  The reason Republicans don't stand up to Trump?  FOMT, or 
Fear Of Mean Tweets.




Thursday, March 7, 2019

TFOB Part 4

(Yes, I am milking the experience for an entire week's posts.)

Random Quotes from Random Authors on Saturday:

Martin Walker:  "Macron is Trump with table manners"

Jonathan Lethem: "Write the book you want to read." (He didn't claim authorship, but it was new to me so I'm giving him credit.)

And Jonathan Lethem, again, on why we love stories:  "Human gossip - from Cain and Abel - who did what to whom and why."

An author responding a lengthy question"I like the word sheriff."

To round off my day, I spent the 4 o'clock hour with H. W. Brands, one of TBG's favorite historical biographers.  It was a master class in democracy.  Here are some gems:
The Constitution gave us a Republic.  Jefferson, with All men are created equal, gave us a democracy.
(Quoting Benjamin Rush) Without a King or a Central Church, how will we create a moral society 
Rush is the tofu of the Founding Fathers.  Anyone on any side can quote him. 
The frontier used to be the solution to our domestic problems.  We had room to grow.
If democracy has a failing, it's that short term problems rarely get solved.  There's an incoherence in the current framework to solve our problems. 
We can be comforted and reassured that these same problems were in existence at the founding.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

TFOB Part 3

I secured a reserved ticket to hear Lorna Luft waxing eloquent on classic movies.  I was in my happy place.

She's a slip of a thing, as Daddooooo would say, presenting as a friend you'd have over for wine and conversation.  She's quick on the uptake, eager to laugh (at herself and at others), and achingly sincere. 

I sat 50' from Judy Garland's daughter on Saturday.  For me, it was a thing.  Here are some snippets:

She's written A Star Is Born, a timely title this Oscar year, and the conversation kept bouncing back to that movie.  Did you know that the studio really wanted Cary Grant opposite Judy Garland?  They wined him and dined him over many months but, ultimately he said "I can't play Norman Maine."  
There have been 5 versions of the film, "because it's a great story, isn't  it?" 

There's only one line that's been in all of them: "I just want to take another look at you."

If you've seen it, you know why. 
The 1954 version was cut to ribbons by Warner Bros, which thought it ran too long.  By instructing projectionists where to cut the film (they sent directions), they could squeeze in an additional screening or two.

Only the audio exists intact today. If you watch it now, the cut portions are covered with stills.

You may now stop hissing Jack Warner.
As for Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's steamy Oscar performance and the subsequent gossip about a romance, "It's not happening, people!  They're ACTORS!"

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

TFOB Part 2

Little Cuter sent me on a mission - find books for FlapJilly where the main character is not white.  The kid's life is more colorful than her literature, it seems, and that is a situation that required a remedy.

 So, Gramma to the rescue.  Or so I thought.

The Harper Collins kid lit tent was my first stop. 
The tent was big, the selection was huge, but of all the picture books in all the Harper Collins land, there were no human characters of color.

Sigh.  I was probably louder in my disappointment than I should have been, but I was terribly, sadly, horrifyingly sad.  I was smiling and quietly repeating "No, that's a bear/kitten/puppy" until I exhaled that much too loud yet much earned "SERIOUSLY?" as we reached the end of the books on sale without a single one for me to buy.

A local bookstore that I like, a lot, was similarly unsatisfying.
There was a brown policeman in a career-centric I-Can-Read book, but the inquisitive kids in the story were all whiter than white.  The bookseller assured me that the store carried the titles I sought, but I was at the fair, and they were not.

I had better luck in the used book department while supporting my local public library and spending very little money.  I left that tent with a big smile on my face.
And then there were the UNA ladies.
They didn't bat an eyelash when I inquired about their stash of colorful characters.  They merely smiled and waved their hand at the display.  There were world stories and earth stories and folk tales from every corner of our planet.  I settled on an over-sized collection, a series of chapters (a Big Sister type of book these days) and activities to complement them.  
Words and art projects - that sits right atop FlapJilly's happy place.

I left with some swag - a Fancy Nancy tiara, a Wilbur Wildcat face mask, several bookmarks, a few pins, several notepads of various sizes and quality, and a tote bag or two.  I bought some books for the authors I heard to sign, and to buy a little bit of time with them (yes, I'm shameless and I'll admit it).  I didn't wait in any lines longer than 3-in-front, and the conversation in those lines was stimulating.  The entire book purchasing experience was a treat.

If only I could have stopped worrying about being a mother whose child didn't look like the kids in nearly all the books I saw that day.  It's hard enough to parent without adding that burden to the pile. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

TFOB Part 1

It's my favorite weekend of the year.  Authors and sunshine and books everywhere.

I walked miles and miles, saw old friends and made a few new ones.

I'm exhausted, from my legs that carried me, ably and relatively smoothly, up and down the mall, to my fingertips at the end of the shoulders that carried a backpack filled with books I bought. 

The Festival of Books, the 3rd largest book fair in the USofA, deserves more than I can give it right now.  I'll be back tomorrow with pithy analysis and photographs. 

Right now, I need an epsom salts bath.

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Long Goodbye

He's gone, now.  There's a hole in the world that cannot be filled.

He's no longer striving to do that which had become impossible.  The Loathsome Disease that robbed him of his stamina and his thoughts released its hold on Tuesday morning.  I'm imagining him hovering over his house as his friends and family gather together to share memories - nodding and smiling and chiming in when a detail isn't just quite right.

He's a good listener, and I intend to keep talking to him.  He saw the world through a pediatrician's eye and heart, and I'm not willing to let go of his wisdom right now.  His heart-attack-in-Peru-adventure coincided with my perforation.  The hug we shared afterwards, when we were both, finally, upright and ready to visit, stays with me to this day.

We were feeble, where before we'd been strong.  We were unstable, where we'd previously been solidly planted.  We hugged and held onto one another, feeling our hearts beating, recognizing the wonder of it all. 

"It's good to see you!"  "It's good to be seen!"

Who said which first?  I don't remember.  I do know that those words were more than platitudes.  They were very real to both of us, to each of us, to our families who stood around us and smiled, ready to catch us if (when?) we fell.  He leaned on me, I leaned on him, and together we took a deep breath into the After of our lives.

We almost died.  We didn't.  We were gifted with bonus years, and we were bound and determined to enjoy them.  Sadly, the Loathsome Disease stole much of the joy, the opportunities, the adventures.  But his smile was still there.  The twinkle in his eye remained.  His handshake, though tremulous, still sent power and love through his fingers.  Burtt was still in there, though buried beneath a deteriorating self.

Dependent when independence had been his forte, he ran his caregiver ragged on their daily walk... until he decided that she could, in fact, keep up with him. They walked until he could no longer get out of bed.  He didn't always obey the traffic lights, didn't always stay on the sidewalk, but he moved, at his own pace, through the world he was preparing to leave.

At the end, he knew that he wasn't hungry, that he didn't want to eat, and no one forced him to feed the body that was betraying him. 

There was respect for the man himself, even if he was only a shadow of his former glow.  No one talked around him, over him, through him.  He was included even when his affect revealed nothing.  His opinion was sought, even after he was unable to share it.  He nodded.  He had an occasional YES or NO.  He was here until the end, in the ways that he could be, involved and revered and loved.

He was loved, so very, very loved. 

Is there anything better to be said about a life well lived? 

Rest in Peace, Burtt.  May your memory be a blessing.