Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Third Generation

Daddooooo and G'ma took me to see Pirates of Penzance when I was little.  They took me when I was medium sized and again when I was grown.

I blasted the music on my car stereo as I drove to pick up The Cuters in elementary school, and we sang along with it driving home.  We saw it on the stage and we saw it on film.

On Sunday afternoon, I took FlapJilly to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame to see it, live, un-mic'ed, with a Mozartian orchestra - plus an oboe or two- conducted by a gentleman with a green parrot perched on his shoulder.

I told her the story that morning, skipping lightly over the complicated 21st-birthday-leap-year scenario, concentrating on the Pirates wanting to marry the daughters and the policemen who marched, tarantara, tarantara.

We talked about Ruth, who lied to Frederic about her beauty, and laughed in the afternoon when the actors rhymed it with booty.  They didn’t mean stolen wealth, they meant just what makes a 4 year old look surprised and ask her grandmother if they really said her favorite word for butt, in that song, on that stage, in public.  Then, she laughed.

That laugh.  Oh, denizens, that laugh.  I could feel my parents enjoying it too.

She jumped from square to square on the carpet during the intermission, then stood, leaning on the balcony railing, for the entire second act.  The professor sitting to her enjoyed her giggles and marching and wide-eyed surprise as much as I did.

We found the policemen, hiding in the wings.  We reveled in the sword fighting and Ruth clomping around the stage with a bucket stuck to her right foot.  We sighed with Mabel and wept with the Modern Major General as he regretted his lie.

We cheered with joy as the couples paired off.  I'm not sure she noticed that, since there were more men than women in the cast, some of those couples were a pirate and a policeman, holding hands and hugging.  This was definitely a 21st century edition of a 19th century operetta.

During the curtain call, FlapJilly clapped wildly for the Pirate King.  He was her favorite.

She met the cast in the lobby, after we took the elevator (That made my tummy tickle!) down from the balcony.
Teagan Earley (Kate) and FlapJilly
There was a lengthy conversation about dance class and singing and working hard, with Teagan's family and FlapJilly's grandma standing by, teary eyed, as our girls bonded over light opera.

All the way home we serenaded one another.  We were the marching policemen: Tarantara, Tarantara.  We were Frederic berating Ruth: Faithless woman!  But mostly, we were her favorite, because It is, it is, a glorious thing to be a Pirate King!

It's also pretty glorious to share adventures like this with the next generation.  Thanks, G'ma and Daddooooo, for starting me off on the right foot.  I'm glad I brought you with me, in my heart, to share it with the little girl I know you would love to pieces.

Sometimes, for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I know you are still around.

Monday, April 29, 2019

April in Indiana

We are very glad to be here, surrounded by family and love.
But, when we left Arizona the temperature was headed firmly into the 90’s.
This is what I faced on Sunday morning:
I looked outside.
I was depressed.
The view out the front door wasn’t much more enticing.

It’s a good thing all my winter clothes live here.
I put on several layers and went out to breakfast with some of my favorite people.
My heart, at least, was warm.

Friday, April 26, 2019

He Was My Daddy Before He Was Daddooooo

He was always larger than life, bigger than anyone else in his orbit, sui generis as I called him in his New York Times obituary. The world revolved around him - from his perspective and from that of those around him. We always considered, in the front or the back of our minds, how he would react.

Kids loved him. A lot. The five year old daughter of the divorced mom living with her parents across the street rang our bell every morning, sometimes before anyone in our house was awake, wondering, "Can Herbie come out to play?" My friends brought him their broken (homemade, of course) skateboards to fix. He was the first to grab the baby and dandle her on his knee, the one who was always up for an outdoor game, the one who would listen attentively to the most convoluted story told by a little one.

He was also the first one to pick up his ball and go home if things didn't go his way. His rules. His timing. His game. That was fine when his playmates were tiny; by the time they hit 8 or 9 they weren't buying his nonsense any longer.

He was always making or fixing something, whether in the garage or in the basement. His workbenches were orderly and paint spattered and always equipped with an extra chair for any small bottom that cared to sit beside him and learn. He was willing to let anyone handle just about anything, as long as he was there to supervise. Just as he did with Jenny he did the same with us - we always had a kid made birdhouse securely fastened to a metal pole around the edge of the property.

He was great in the snow, pulling a tied together string of sledders across the Bethpage Black Course, headed for the highest hill we could find. He helped us create snow forts and the piles of snowballs we'd throw at one another.... his always sailing across the driveway first, dead aimed at our opponents.

He was great at the beach, out farther than any of the other dads, kids in tow, clinging to his shoulders and his waist and his neck, buffeted by the waves but never putting us at risk, never losing his balance, the water's buoyancy compensating for his damaged hip. He was fluid in the water, swimming lengths of the pool without taking a breath, his body a sleek dolphin until he found the legs of an unsuspecting offspring. Then, without warning, the dolphin became a whale, water spouting from his mouth, into the face of his child happily paddling along.


He was a master gardener before the term was invented. His crops were legendary in the neighborhood, not as annoying as his brother's rhubarb (which were left, anonymously, on doorsteps when he couldn't give them away any longer), but certainly better than anyone else on the street could grow . Just ask him. He'd tell you so.

Out in the yard, he was good for the heavy lifting, the ladder climbing, the tool buying and cleaning. He was at G'ma's disposal, following her orders, never talking back or disagreeing. Those afternoons outside in the back yard were heavenly.

Annoying? For sure. We'd all be in the car, ready for our Sunday-Go-To-Grandparents-Day, when G'ma would wonder,"Where is your father?" Invariably, he'd found one last project to finish, one item that required his attention, one way to make the whole scene revolve around him. G'ma was annoyed, so we were too. Then he'd get in the car and start singing a silly song, or follow a windy imaginary line in the road, or tell us a story or ask us a question and we'd be off, the annoyance forgotten until, cruising the Belt Parkway under the flight paths of JFK (Idlewild, then) and LaGuardia, pointing out the various aircraft overhead, we'd hear G'ma's familiar refrain: "Two hands on the wheel, Herbit!" Reluctantly but obediently, his hand returned from outside the window, his eyes returned from the sky to the road , and we'd drive on.

He was big on exposing us to culture. Museums, restorations, operetta and ballet - we didn't have a lot of extra cash but there was always money for culture.... and pizza. "Anybody hungry?" was the signal to speak up for Carvel soft serve ice cream or a Vincent's pizza brought home, piping hot, eaten on paper plates to maintain the kashruth. He stirred his ice cream into soup in the cup, his pizza he ate plain.

He was a purist in many things,definite ideas about what was fashion and what was style. A bagel could have sesame or poppy seeds, onions or everything, but blueberries and parmesan cheese were beyond the pale: "THAT is NOT a bagel." Tools were put away where they belonged; he outlined them on the pegboard holder so there could be no mistakes. And, when it came to decisions around the house, each kid and he had one vote, but Mommy had 5.

That was just the way it was. He was complicated, not easy, and mine.
Passover, April 1961

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Worms, Rakes, Fertilizer, and The Hole in Grandma's Garden

The 3,4,5 combo class was finished learning about worms.
The teacher wondered if they might find a good home in the garden.
I love freebies.  I love worms in the garden.  I love the teacher.
Getting to "YES!" was easy..
After careful and proper examination, interrupted only occasionally by an eeewww or frantic jazz hands waving the creature away, we set to preparing their new abode.  
We deposited the worms fairly deep, in lines we drew in the soil.
("No, we don't need gloves.  It's good to feel the soil on your hands.")
Then we covered them gently, to protect them from the sun and predators. 
Escaping their cover, these squirmers were busy pooping, or so the scholars showed me.
Yes, there are small black dots at the back end of the dusty worms.
Gardeners call that castings; the scholars much preferred poop. 

Later in the day, it was all about the rakes.
It's a congenial activity, with lovely piles created slowly and neatly. 
Everyone wants a rake; some have to settle for over-watering the strawberries. 
The confluence of watering cans carried by 7 year olds and rakes wielded by 9 year olds is the creation of a mud puddle beneath the tree.  It was inconvenient, messy, and yet another place for Grandma to trip, but that was nothing compared to the joy these four had, following Betty's directions, developing smooth and even mud.
It wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I created the garden, but, on many levels, it's very very close. 

The Master Gardener Handbook told me to fertilize my citrus.
We created a trench below the irrigation line and poured the measured  ("Estimate the circumference of the trunk of our dwarf mandarin orange for me, please.") fertilizer evenly around the tree, set the timer to water it in for an hour or so, and our work there was done. 

While all this was going on, there was, as always, activity in The Hole.
Started by kindergarten scholars for no discernible reason, it is now deep enough for a third grader to fit comfortably and completely inside.  They've gone about as fer as they c'n go (Oklahoma reference, anyone?)  but that doesn't stop them from trying. 
They step back and stand up when the dust gets too heavy.
Otherwise, it's a real treat to get filthy in Grandma's Garden.
No, I don't care. 
They aren't asking me to get dirty that way.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Blooming Tucson

 Ocotillo usually bloom when it rains.
  It hasn't rained, yet the blooms are gorgeous all over town.
They are usually smaller and pointier.  Fast Eddie and JannyLou and I were admiring them this morning, agreeing that they've never been lovelier. 

On the side of the house, the aloe are sprouting tall orange spiky booms.

The Euphorbia AntiSyphilitica have their small white flowers weighting them down.

Even the succulent I transplanted without recognizing that it was ready to sprout a tall spiky yellow addition managed to endure the afternoon sunlight and lack of proper irrigation and put on a show.

You have to be hardy to survive in the desert. 
Just look at that tiny little bit of blue, appearing with no assistance from anything human.  She makes me smile. 

This yucca was rescued from the discard pile at the middle school; he and his friends were free for the taking.  
Also left pretty much on his own (although planted in a swale when it was much cooler and wetter)  this fellow sent a bright yellow flower up to greet me one morning.

And then there are those who don't survive.  We cherish them, too.  These ribs were once holding up a giant saguaro.  Now they are decorations, and sometimes, home to small creatures.

There are bigger and brighter flowers, too.  Some I planted and irrigated and fertilized and staked, nurturing them with care.

Others, once established, exist on what Mother Earth provides.  They do just fine.

It's a nice mix for me.  A few plants to prune and deadhead and otherwise tend, while most of them put on their show for free.
(Dated Joni Mitchell reference, anyone?)

And then, as every spring, there are the babies.
Attached to mama, 
or sending long photo-tropic shoots out toward the sunshine, 
some proudly reveal their parentage.

Others spring from bulbs planted long ago, re-emerging and surprising me every year.   

And some unfurl from tiny buds through fragrant white flowers into rose hips which, some year, I will harvest and use. 

As every gardener knows, there is always more to do, something new to learn.
But, for now, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the results of my labors.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Best Child Rearing Advice, Ever - A Snippet

I had this quote from Dr. Spock on my refrigerator when The Cuters were kids:
All parents do their best job when they have a natural, easy confidence in themselves. Better to make a few mistakes from being natural than to try to do everything letter-perfect out of a feeling of worry.
Or, as MTF wrote, in a postcard that was affixed right above Dr. Spock:
CONGRATULATIONS! Remember this: no matter what you do, you’ll feel guilty. So, you might as well do what you want to do and hope for the best.
Words to live by, indeed.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day (redux of the redux)

The Burrow is 10 years and 1 week old today.  Born on April 14, 2009, it's a creation of Big Cuter's encouragement (Mom, you are way hipper than you think you are) and Little Cuter's unlocking the door (If Suzi can't write, maybe Ashleigh Burroughs can).  This is the 8th post I ever wrote.  I like it just as much today as I did then.

I hope you are able to be out and about, planting or enjoying one of my favorite holidays.  


Earth Day

I like Earth Day. I was there at its creation, after all.

It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Initially, it was a touchy-feely alternative to the harsher realities of the anti-Vietnam War protests. You wanted to do something, but war was such an uncomfortable subject and arguing against it made your parents wonder why they were spending tuition dollars while you were telling the lawfully elected President of the United States of America that you knew more than he did. With your picture in the crowd on the front page of the NY Times. At 18 years of age, no less. But planting trees? Recycling newspaper? Not littering? And all this in service to Mother Earth. Who could be aggravated about supporting Mother Earth?

Earth Day had teach-in's. They were more fun than sit-in's, which invariably involved police and disciplinary action. They were less fun than be-in's, which owed more to Timothy Leary and The Grateful Dead than to anything political or practical. Teach-in's were earnest and had hand-outs and statistics and pictures of desolate landscapes ravaged by the cruelty of man. There was science and legislation and outrage and lots of tree give-aways.

Earth Day had no mandatory family gatherings. It required no gift giving, no card sending. You went outside and did something - cleaned a playground, weeded a median strip, planted one of those free trees. You felt good because you were doing good.

Now there is Earth Week and "We're greener than you are" tv networks Were this still 1970, there would be protests about the idea being "co-opted by 'the man'". Instead, Sheryl Crow is designing reuseable grocery bags for Whole Foods and Wal-Mart is selling them next to the discounted paper towels.

And Mother Earth is grateful.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Passover Story

Brother is an excellent writer.  He kept me amused all through college with his semi-monthly JA NEWS.  All sides and corners of the pages were covered with amusements and philosophy, as were the envelopes.  He has his own particular take on the world, and this description of his seders is a window for the rest of you.

Enjoy the weekend, whether you are celebrating anything or not!

Our Wacky and Wild Seders

We have two dozen haggadot that are all the same. Sometimes we start reading around the table, each person reading one sentence. You have to pay attention – “Where are we?” is not acceptable with this crowd. Then we switch to each person reading one word. It goes slowly at first, then picks up speed until somebody says “REVERSE” and we go the other direction. It usually ends in laughter when two people next to each other keep saying “REVERSE!”

We also have a collection of different haggadot, from fancy collectible printings to crumbling ancient Maxwell House booklets. When we use these haggadot, everyone at the table gets a different version. We sometimes try the one sentence at a time thing with the various translations. You have to listen while reading ahead and thinking about your next line. This usually winds up in a discussion like, “That doesn't make sense” or “You missed this part” or “Mine translates that as (whatever).” We always compare artwork in the different versions. Some is astonishingly good, some is astonishingly bad, and some is just astonishing

But the company and the food are always good.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Eating Their Young

I blame the 24 hour news cycle.

There's really nothing to report.  People are anxious.  People are angry.  People are concerned.  No one knows anything except what we don't know.  Yet the talking heads keep talking.  And talking.  And talking.  And, because there's really nothing to talk about, they're picking on the low hanging fruit.

Bernie Sanders made money from his book.  The socialist, the Independent running as a Democrat, the guy with the funny voice and the funny hair and the funny ideas is a rich guy after all.  This is, apparently, an item worthy of intense scrutiny.  Is he allowed to rail against the elite when he is, himself, a member of the 1%?

Three hecklers were outside a Mayor Pete rally in Iowa, dressed in costume.  They vowed to follow him everywhere he goes, ranting about abortion and homosexuality.  I was reminded of the giant chicken that followed one of the candidates around one year.... or was that an episode on West Wing.... or both?   Seriously, folks.  There were three of them.  Three.  Did they really deserve 2 minutes of air time?

I was keeping a mental list of all the Democrats who think they ought to seize the moment and run for the Presidency.  Then Marianne Williamson showed up on my Facebook feed.  I stopped counting, then.  On the one hand, I'm thrilled that so many people are willing to put themselves out there, sharing their vision, hoping against hope that someone will pay attention.

But no one is paying much attention to anything but the numbers, it seems.  Are there too many?  Is this one left enough?  Can that one appeal to a wavering Trump voter?  What state is this one from, again? 

The policies that distinguish one from another are rarely touched upon.  Statistics are tossed about with reckless abandon, this much growth, this much loss, these suffering, those flourishing, and symbols and labels are dissected and parsed and perused for impiety, imperfection, a hook.

Because that's what the 24 hour news cycle has brought us - the hook.  Tune in and see us eviscerate.... tout..... expose....tell all. 

If only they would tell all.  I'd love to hear a substantive debate on the roll-out of projects to support the Green New Deal.  Let's get down in  the weeds, again, on health care policy.  And what about immigration?  That's a national conversation that's lurking under the surface of everything else, from minimum wage hikes to public education to a robust public transit system. 

There are some very smart people in the mix right now.  I'd love to hear what they have to say, sitting around a table, being questioned by Tim Russert (oh, where are you when we need you most?), delving deep into the details.  None of them are very far apart on the basics, it seems.  Let's see how they work out the specifics. 

A girl can dream, can't she? 

Instead, there will be endless hours of speculation about what's color coded and redacted and who's frantic and what might this Committee or that MOC might subpoena.  Nothing that will advance the conversation.  Just filler. 

No wonder I'm watching Leave It To Beaver at 8 o'clock in the evening.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Getting HIred

It's that time of year.  School is almost out and summer looms.  What to do? What to do?

I wasn't old enough to work at more than neighborhood babysitting through most of high school. I went to Cornell for a summer program after my junior year, and my grandparents sent me to Europe after my senior year.  Then, I was a rising college sophomore, home for the summer, with no prospects at all.

I called Aunt Rose.  She and Uncle Frank ran Jack and Jill Nursery School and Summer Camp.  I'd been in her first class of kindergarteners, those who missed the public school cut-off but were certainly ready for learning.  I'd gone to summer camp with my siblings, riding the bus for hours, sometimes scoring a place in the front seat of Uncle Frank's sedan if the buses weren't available. 

Aunt Rose and G'ma hit it off from the get-go, my retired kindergarten teacher mother bonding with the woman who would start us off on the right foot for school.  My phone call was well received; of course she could use me.

I had bus duty and a group of my own.  I worked from 7 in the morning until after 4 in the afternoon.  There were no breaks.  I ate lunch with the campers, I swam with the campers, I went to the Arts and Crafts barn with the campers.  I earned 12 cents an hour.

I had jobs at college, waiting tables (I made much more than 12 cents an hour) and being a research subject all across campus.  I convinced a friend to let me run the Engineering Honor Society's doughnut table in Hollister Hall.  As graduation loomed, with no prospects for truly gainful employment on the horizon, I opted for graduate school instead of full time work.

Chicago offered a range of part time opportunities - I taught in the JCC's after school program, I coded research results, I analyzed interview recordings.  I worked summers at Blimpies ("Mayonnaise, Mustard, or Russian Dressing?") and as a temp, answering the phone and  typing for the Washington DC Metropolitan Council of Governments.  They wanted to hire me, and I was tempted, until an older and wiser woman mentored me to finish my degree and be the person who was hiring the typist.

It was great advice, or so I thought. Then, I graduated.  Degree in hand, dozens of interviews under my belt, and no job in sight, panic began to set in.  Daddooooo's business declared bankruptcy years before; there was no help  to found by looking to my parents.  TBG and I were getting married at the end of August, and I was supposed to support us while he attended business school. I had the application for food stamps on my kitchen counter.  I had no prospects.

Dawdling home late one afternoon, I was stopped on the Midway by an heavy breathing friend, gasping as she chased me down.  There was a guy on the phone in the research office I'd just left, searching for a person with exactly my credentials.  I raced back, set up an interview, and found myself, at the end of the day, in the office of the Executive Director of The Agency.

"What kind of salary are we talking about here?" he asked, leaning back in his chair, folding his hands across his belly, staring me down.

My unemployed brain took issue with my New York raised mouth as I heard myself saying "Well, since you would only hire the best person for the job, the best person should earn the highest salary available.  So, I guess we're talking $15,000 a year."

There was a long pause.  He kept staring.  I tried to act nonchalant.  $15,000 was the biggest number I'd heard around the lunch table; it was aspirational, not realistic.  Yet there was my mouth, expecting it.

"Well, they grow them with brass ones in New York, don't they?" was his eventual reply.  We settled close to that number, with a guaranteed raise in 6 months if I measured up.  I shook hands, made my way to my ancient Chevy, and drove to the nearest diner to call G'ma.

My screams of joy really didn't need the phone at all.

The raise never really materialized.  The Executive Director ended up in jail for embezzlement. But all of that was in the future.  On that day, on that afternoon, I'd been hired.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Family Vacation

We drove there every summer, a 10 horsepower outboard motor packed in the car along with our suitcases and G'ma's red cooler filled with snacks.  Each kid had a suitcase upon which to perch in the backseat, the better to see over the front bench and out into the world.

We stopped at the first rest stop over The Bridge (I'm not sure which bridge) for breakfast, having left home before dawn.  I never knew or questioned why we had to leave so early, it was just what we did.

Timberlane still exists, just as it did when Daddooooo drove down the barely marked rutted lane off Lake Shore Drive in Bolton Landing in the late 1950's and early 1960's.  Richard and Cecilia McCann owned the rustic cabins and dock and fire pit around which we held sing-a-longs and roasted marshmallows and threw kindling in to watch it spark.  For G'ma, it must have been her job without the electric luxuries (washing machine, dish washer) which, added to the fact that one of the kids always got sick when we were there, may have led us to venture further afield at times.  But when I think of family vacations, I think of Lake George.

I had a lot of freedom there.  I could row a boat into the middle of the lake with nothing but my fishing pole for company.  I could take the rowboat with our motor attached (an additional expense to the cottage rental that Daddoooo cheerfully paid) to town all by myself.  I'd tie up at the dock, buy a snack at the canteen, flirt with the boat boy, and motor on home, contented. 

I saw A Hard Days Night in the theater there.  I can feel the pebbly beach beneath my feet as I type this.  There were big trees and sneaky paths amidst them. 

We had a special place, Paradise Cay, where we'd take the boat to picnic.  We were free to wander the small island we anchored on, a freedom I regretted when I looked down and saw a long long long long snake slither between me and my next footstep.  Daddooooo to the rescue - it was harmless and, in famous parenting language, it was more afraid of you than you are of it.  We lolled on rafts in the calm cay, usually unbothered by other families.

I don't remember us every having an argument in Paradise Cay.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Taxes - A Brief Rant

I really really really don't want to send this government our money.  I felt this way during Viet Nam, too, but I was getting a refund rather than directly contributing, so it hurt a little less. 

This is very painful.  I really really really don't want to fund his wall, though I will gladly pay for bus tickets from Nogales to San Francisco for any asylum seeker who needs one.

I watched Mayor Pete this afternoon.  Do yo think they will let me send my tax dollars directly to him?  I, too, am ready to define a new era.  I'd like to help fund it as well.

Thanks for listening.  I feel much better now.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Random Thoughts on a Random Week

I was out of the NCAA Men's Basketball pool after the third round.  I watched the games with a lackluster sort of enthusiasm, barely tuning in until the end unless TBG shouted for my attention. 

There was a time when I planned my late March around the Madness.  I missed no games.  One year I won the brokers pool (I knew about Jim Valvano and they did not) and made $90, a nice chunk of change in the early 1980's. 

Time passes and that which used to amuse now becomes background noise to aggravations I wouldn't ever have imagined. 
Government is quirky. 

Some things - deportations and tax collections come uncomfortably to mind - happen with alarming rapidity.  Others - road repairs, at least in my neck of the woods - seem to languish for eternity until they all happen at once. 

After years of closed entrances to the interstate at all ends of our neighborhood, rumor has it that everything will be open for business in a very short while.  We went from bumping along slowly but steadily to being barred from access at all.  And now it will all be available all at once and no one will know what to do.

Which entrance to choose?  Which exit to use? 

Retirees problems, for sure.
The good news/bad news piece of the Ina Road entrance opening made me laugh just now.   We will now have smooth and easy access to the best donuts in Tucson, access denied due to road construction.

I am helpless before them.... and the road is opening soon.
We've been binge watching old movies on TCM. 

Nick and Nora; all The Saint's; several incarnations of Perry Mason, they're old friends who soothe a weary soul. 

The modern world is a barbed and angry place for me right now; I need my old friends now more than ever. 
I've always wanted an emblem.

For a while, in Marin, where we lived on the top of the hill, I wanted a signal flag to announce that we were home and accepting visitors.

Nannie's friend, Irene, put a porcelain cat in her window to encourage folks to drop in.

Somehow, all those random thoughts seemed to go together in my mind..... my mind that has been so roiled by recent events. I'm going to spend the weekend reveling in the presence of my eldest child and anticipating being in the presence of all the younger ones next week.   That is solace for my soul.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

She's Gone

She was taken from the street in front of her daughter's new home.

They had an order of deportation.  There was nothing to be done.

She was allowed a phone call, the phone call the family had been fearing.  It was as awful as they had imagined.

Through tears, they moved on to Plan B, the option the immigration attorney had urged her to think about, to plan for, to have ready.  Her tio on the other side would meet her.  Her girls would bring her clothes and supplies tomorrow.  From there...... who knows.  The plan was just that - a plan.  No one wanted or expected to use it.

Except that she was taken from the street early in the morning and by noon she was in Nogales.  Two hours that changed everything.

She came here 25 years ago, when border crossings were fluid, when the back and forth of workers and families was not viewed as criminal, but was accepted as the normal course of events.  When a path toward citizenship began to be discussed, she started putting money aside to pay her back taxes, taxes she'd have been happy to pay if the government had made it possible for her to do so without endangering her undocumented status.  She was eager to participate in the economy, to share in the dream.  She asked for nothing from anyone.

As the American attitude toward immigrants changed, so did her status.  She began to live dark - moving in with friends and family so her name would not appear on a lease, putting her cell phone and her car in her daughters' names, driving just at the speed limit, making full stops before turning right on red, remembering to signal before changing lanes.

She stopped putting money aside for back taxes; it didn't seem as if the government was anxious for her to move in that direction.... the direction of honesty, transparency, truth.  They wanted her gone.  Not contributing, not helping, just gone.

Last week a family in our town was pulled over because their car windows were tinted darker than the law allows.  A mother and father and two tweens were taken and deported, leaving two younger children behind.  It made the papers.  Everyone was sad.

This case didn't make the papers.  It just made everyone sad.

How is the world a better place because my friend is no longer here?  My country hurt someone I love, on a day when the DHS Secretary fled the scene, when a self-hating Jew in the White House, a man whose own family is disgusted by his behavior, is told by POTUS that he is in charge, on a day when our tax returns arrived from the accountant.

I'm thrilled to send money to Washington right now.  Absolutely thrilled.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cooking Soothes the Soul

That's just one of the phrases Bill Penzey weaves into the pamphlets in his gift boxes, into his emails, into his Facebook posts.  The store makes me smile, the spices are delicious and interesting and have expanded my cooking horizons, but up until yesterday I didn't really get the whole soothing my soul thing.

Fast Eddie and JannieLou, Dr. K and Not-Kathy, and TBG and I were all quite upset at the world around us, at events beyond our control, at the current political and social climate.  We were functional, but not by much.  TBG claimed to have malaise.

Everyone gathered at our house for dinner and commiseration.  Dinner for 4 turned to dinner for 6, with gluten free and carb-less and dairy avoidance in attendance as well.  Denizens of The Burrow know about my fractured relationship to the kitchen; in general, it's not a pretty sight.  But we needed to be together.  We needed community.  And I.... I needed to do something. 

So, I made brownies. 

Bill Penzey is right.  Cooking didn't solve the problem, but the brownies put smiles on all those forlorn faces.... even the I-shouldn't-eat-this guests.  This was something I could do for those I loved, even as we were frustrated out there in the world.  The knot in my stomach unclenched just a bit as I watched the small squares disappear from the plate, one happy set of fingers at a time.

It's true - cooking soothes the soul. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sculpture Tucson, part 2

The artist was dressed as you'd imagine he'd be dressed.
He had a big belt and a fancy neck adornment and a cowboy hat that was just this side of too much.   
He smiled as passersby discovered the contents of their junk drawers, on display, transformed, causing them to stop and stare and go deeper and deeper in to something that is either profound or profoundly absurd. 
Whatever it is, I stood there a long time, listening and staring and taking pictures with my new phone.
There were so many parts on which to focus, so many options on the phone itself, but the artist was generous, enjoying my conversation with the inanimate object in my hand. 

I walked on, admiring the art, smiling at most of it, until I came to this.
It's an aging hippie.  The look on his face spoke to me.  We communed for a while before the artist wandered over.  We laughed and sighed and then he turned and showed me his favorite piece.   
The dog and the leash are metal, the leash standing upright, as the pooch waits for its human, the distracted and detached individual modeled by the artist himself. 

Along the outer edge of the first tent, a retiree from Iowa was busy crocheting.
I stopped to admire his ergonomic crochet hook, to talk about how much we both like Ames, and to agree that cold weather and old bones are basically incompatible. He was teaching at the university, where they were skeptical of his crochet plus glass work. 
The beading just made it extra special. 

This artist and I admired the lounging long legs as she described the work that went into designing the fence posts. 
I saw no one hovering over Inverted Prayer, but I stopped and stood up a little bit straighter as I admired her form. 
And then, as I was leaving, there were these.  
I smiled. I tried to walk by and I couldn't.
The shapes, the juxtaposition, the colors.... the more I looked, the more I liked.
The artist averred that this was his favorite piece in the show.
He'd placed the final shapes in his driveway when a freak rainstorm came through.  The raindrops changed the colors as he watched them streak the shapes.  The rain stopped and he ran for the fixative.  We agreed - they were meant to be. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Sculpture Tucson

and in between them, there was a lot to see.
 Unless, of course, you've been there for two days, after which
 the magazine is more interesting than the adult conversation.
I went early in the morning, before the heat and the crowds.
There was time to stop and listen to the music,
to pause in the shade and admire a tented wonder,
to marvel at the proximity of the parking to the event.
The artist wanted to show her piece in the light.
I took some time to stare back at this face.
There were many faces on display,  
some creepier 
than others.
There was whimsy 
in all sizes.
There was a fox canoe with oddly coiffed oarsmen,
and a table to put it on. 

And these are just pieces whose creators I didn't talk to.
Tomorrow, I'll share those.