Friday, May 31, 2019

Normal is Abnormal

Or so the gerontologist said yesterday, while showing me my DEXA Scan results.  She gave me a sandwich - good news on the outside, the bad news smooshed in the middle.  There were 6 pages of information, but she said the last 5 were less important than the top sheet, the one with the Densitometry Results.

My spine is Normal.  That's abnormal for a person of my age, sex, complexion, eye color, and heritage.  I should be in the Osteopenia range.  I'm not.  In fact, my spine is in 7.9% better shape than it was two years ago when I last had a scan.  That was the good news, surprising to my doctor and comforting to me.  My right side seems just fine, too.

The filling of the sandwich was filled with less wonderful news.  Apparently, my left femur neck is Osteoporotic. 

It's such an ugly word.  It sat on my heart.  My eyes began blinking back tears I didn't know were hiding, up close and ready to drop.  As the physician described why she wouldn't prescribe medication at this time - You're relatively young, and the medication can only be taken for 7-10 years- my shoulders began to drop from my ears. 

I am taking the requisite dose of Vitamin D - 2000 IU/day - already, even though I live in the sunniest part of the country.  Apparently, we don't metabolize our vitamins well as we age.  The D is available at Costco for a nominal price, the pill is small and yellow, it has no side effects.  Continue with that, she said.

Exercise daily was her next prescription.  She loves Pilates - It's balance as well as strengthening - and liked my weight lifting program, too.  She said any exercise except swimming counts as weight bearing, which is what my bones need.  30 minutes a day, every day was her advice.  Yes, walking counts - walking around the garden, walking as I clean out the garage, walking up and down my street early enough in the morning to avoid dying of heat stroke. 

Everybody wants me to move.  I suppose I ought to listen. 

Finally, she came to diet.  Are you taking calcium supplements? No? GOOD! 1200 mg of calcium per day, from foodstuffs not pharmaceuticals, is what I need.  Cheese is good.... who doesn't like cheese?
Since bread, cheese, and Prosecco are my Lost on a Desert Island foods, I was able to smile and agree that this was a good plan.

The other side of the sandwich was that this is something I can stop in its tracks if I follow her advice. Can it be reversed?  If you can reverse it, I'll write you up as a Case Note.  We agreed that that was my goal.  I left with a smile on my face, no new prescriptions to fill, and a diet to reexamine.

At home, I Googled Calcium Foods.  I'm going to have to eat a wheel of hard cheese every few days in order to meet my 1200 mg goal.  I'll have to buy milk (4 glasses a day will cover me) and drink it.  Yogurt, broccoli rabe, ice cream.... they are all 200 mg per gigantic serving.  Even I can't eat 6 yogurts a day. 

Then, again, I do have an abnormally normal spine.  I think I'll concentrate on being grateful for that right now.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Do Your Homework

I thought of the phrase before Big Cuter posted this link to Alexandra Petri's column, the one entitled It Is Increasingly Clear That None of You Read My Report.

I'm on page 92 of The Mueller Report, and I've been outraged for 90 pages. 

Elizabeth Warren came to that conclusion right after the report was issued.  Congressman Amash read it on a plane ride home, came out for impeachment, and was greeted by a standing ovation at a Town Hall a week later. 

If I could, I'd vote to open hearings on obstruction of justice by the President of the United States.  But I can't.  Instead, I called my MoC and left a message - TBG and I have moved from let the voters decide in 2020 to if not for these misdeeds, then for what?

I've spent the week carrying the big, fat, white book around town, exhorting people to read it.  Consider this post my exhortation to you.

It reads like a denser Harlan Coben thriller.  Lots of players, lots of connections, more lies and underhanded behaviors than you think are possible ... until you realize that you're spending an inordinate amount of time reading the footnotes.  Legal citations, interviews, and tweets underpin nearly every sentence.  Director Mueller is right - every one of his words is carefully chosen. 

You should read them.  Read them and make your own decision, without a filter.
As for me, after the first 100 pages or so, yes, I'm sure the CIA has done similar things to other countries but that's not the issue.  Russia did this to us and the President doesn't seem to care.  His campaign didn't seem to care.  It would be nice if Congress wondered why.

I'll keep you posted on my reactions as I keep reading.  It may take a while.  I have to break it up with the treats I brought home from the library; there's only so much slime I can stomach at one time.

In the meantime, if you're reading the original (always better than the Cliff's Notes ... which are now called Sparks for some reason) feel free to chime in in the comments. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

It's been an odd day. 

It started out breezy and sunny, a perfect day to open the garage door and try to make sense out of the chaos within.  Now, it's cloudy and the air is full of larger than average flying insects, which the bats, a bit earlier than usual, are competing with the birds to devour.

My printer/scanner decided to dis-invite the computer, or vice versa.  I've unplugged and restarted and removed and downloaded.  I have to re-install and align but I just don't have the emotional energy to deal with what I fear will be not much more progress than I made this afternoon.

The glitch was discovered as I tried to print, scan, and send a secured document.  JannyLou wasn't home.  Amster's office is further than I wanted to travel.  Kinko's seemed the obvious answer, except the secure document wouldn't open on a pay by the minute computer.  It cost me 2 minutes at 59 cents each to find that out. 

I headed to the public library.  It had no restrictions on the opening of secure documents, and, with a little help from the librarian, I managed to get it printed and downloaded and uploaded and sent on its way.  It only cost a dime to print the page.

That was the second time I visited the library today.  On Sunday, the only remaining attractive tome was The Mueller Report.  I took it, and I'm reading it.  You should, too.  Form your own conclusions, without spin or rhetoric. The book I'm using has analysis from Washington Post contributors, but I'm skipping that.  The redactions are as informative as the words on the page. 

By the end of page 4 I was seething.  If Attorney General Barr read every third paragraph, his summary made sense.  There is a lot of exculpatory verbiage, which might lead one to believe that there was no evidence at all.  But each of those paragraphs is followed by one detailing the lies (who made them and when) and the refusal to hand over evidence by those who were being investigated.  The Report is very clear about this - their conclusions might have been altered, one way or the other, but they will never know.

There's so much obstruction, even in the first section, on cooperation/coordination (both terms are defined, as is collusion), the administration thwarted the Special Counsel's efforts.  After about 8 pages, I began to wonder why.

There are so many lies, so many instances of standing in the way of truth gathering, so much conniving - for what?  What were they and are they trying to hide?  What deep secret is lurking behind all these machinations?  An awful lot of effort went into making sure that those who were interviewed were toeing the party line. 

I've been stewing about this all weekend long.  I was glad to be in the library twice today. I found a James Patterson Alex Cross mystery this morning and C J Box's latest installment in one of my favorite series this afternoon.  I'm going to put politics aside for the next few days.  It's getting in the way of my summer.


I had a real job, a social work job, an Agency job.  I needed a car to visit my clients.  I had $663 in the bank.

It was the summer of 1972.  A brand new Mustang went for around $3000 at Fleischman's, our Ford dealership in Long Beach.  They didn't have a used car lot, though.  I had to peruse the classified ads in the newspaper to find something within my price range. 

Did I mention that my family drove Ford products?  My grandparents drove Chrysler's.  My uncle drove Buicks.  We drove Fords, or Mercury's when Daddooooo was feeling a bit more upscale.  The one thing no one in the family drove was a Chevy.

"Only idiots drive Chevy's."

"All Chevy drivers are idiots."

"Look at that idiot; of course, he's in a Chevy."

Naturally, the car I wanted was a Chevy.  Reluctantly, I showed the ad to my parents.  The mileage was right, the price was "negotiable,"  it lived just a few miles away.  But, it was a Chevy.  We agreed to go and look at it.

The older gentleman who greeted me outside his garage was charming.  He dealt with me, though Daddooooo made a valiant effort to take over the proceedings.  While my father examined the tires and looked under the hood, I listened to the car's life story.

She was aqua.  She was huge.  She was a 1967 Impala.  She had seat belts and manual windows and an AM radio.  The upholstery was intact.  I could reach the pedals and see out the mirrors.

He wanted more than what I had.  I showed him my bank book to prove that I was, indeed, spending everything I had, and he agreed to take it all.  In exchange, I took Annabelle.

Without ABS, driving to and from Ithaca in the winter was a challenge.  She barely fit into the parking space carved into the stone wall in front of the house we lived in senior year.  She survived an encounter with a City of Chicago garbage truck - her bumper was permanently askew in the aftermath, but she took a healthy chunk out of the errant truck's tire, and I sued the City and won $125 in damages.

She lasted through graduate school, managing to make it back and forth to New York a few times before her engine began to give up the ghost.  I added a quart of oil before I set out on anything longer than a trip to the grocery store.  I changed the distributor wires (singeing the little hairs on my arm because I didn't wait for the engine to cool) and brought her in for regular oil changes, but she was falling apart when I bequeathed her to Brother as his college graduation gift.

He, a mechanic at heart, kept her going for a year or two.  She died in the front yard of his fraternity house in Peoria, and froze into the icy puddles that winter.  After the thaw, he sold her - for $200 - to a young family.  I still have nightmares about that couple and their children, stranded somewhere, Annabelle having finally fallen to ruin.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

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

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

I belonged.

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

That was fairly disingenuous even for Marin.

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

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

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Retiring the Garden for the Summer, Part 2

Thursday, May 23, 2019 -  The Last Day of School

 A friend is getting on with her life, and Grandma's Garden inherited her "I know I'll use them someday" collection of plastic pots.  I carted them, organized them, and stacked them neatly.
I debated taking on the destruction of the parsley forest, when the big kids, allowed to wander during their last recess before middle school, wondered if they could do anything for me.  
 Yes, I'd be happy to sit on the bench and watch them work. 
 Taking advantage of one of the gigantic trash bags the delightful groundskeeper bequeathed me ten minutes before, I set them to pulling plants. I signed a yearbook or two, I helped them pot the carrots and onions they unearthed, and I repeated the plant care instructions I'd been giving all week - Plants are not fish.  They do not swim.  Water Wisely.

Of course, there were beasties to be discovered.  This small grasshopper
 (trying to creep between the heels of his hands) 
was admired and, mercifully, freed.  

And then it was time to go.  
I began to push my loaded cart.... I didn't get far.  
And they did.
Making kind humans, one little American at a time. 
Until next year.......

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Retiring the Garden for the Summer

School ends this week.  With no one around to tend the raised beds, it's time to retire the plants.

 There was giant lettuce (yes, those stalky things are lettuce run amok)
and an alium looking flower atop what we took to be an onion..... until I remembered that alium are part of the onion family so why wouldn't they share a similar blossom?
As with all good retirements, planning was crucial.  Grandma Suzi thought that 50 pots would take care of all the plants fit to share; she was off by a factor of 4.   There are no 3" or 4" plastic or ceramic pots left in Tucson - unless they cost more than fifty cents a piece.  After three days spent cleaning out all the Dollar Stores within a 10 mile radius,  I can confidently assert that this is true. 
Everyone wanted a plant to take home.  Scholars who had never set food in the garden before were suddenly bound and determined to be farmers over the summer.  Big kids and little kids, they were all interested in a crash course in plant management.
The lesson was simple: Plants are not fish.  They do not live in water.  Do not drown them.
The older scholars heard about soil having its own architecture, and how over-watering would destroy the gentle bridges which allowed air and water to move freely.  
The little scholars were still laughing about their new plants not being able to swim.
There was a wide variety in the pots I found outside the Dollar Stores.  Some were left over from my home garden, some were ordered from Amazon (tiny, because Grandma didn't read the fine print and mistook 3cm for 3", but perfect for seeds),
 and some, by the last day, were some random plastic cups we found in the Garden Bench.
And then there was the lizard caught in the anti-bird netting over the strawberry plants.
"Grandma Suzi, there's a lizard stuck in the netting."  
"Yes, I know."  
"Do you have scissors?" 
"But, there's a lizard stuck in the netting!!"  
"Yes, I know."  
And so it went until someone found scissors in a backpack and Travon managed to extricate the creature from his prison.  
His tongue is very pink.
No, I did not want to pet him.
There was a lot going on in the garden, and there are still lots of plants to be harvested.  If you're in the neighborhood, bring a container and feel free to dig one or two out for yourself.  There's a trowel in the garden bench and potting soil beside the raised beds.

Have a great time, and remember - Plants are NOT fish.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Happy Birthday, Little Cuter!

Written in 2012, updated in 2019

There's a lot to love about my little girl.  Just ask her husband; he'll be glad to share.  So will her in-laws..... and her brother.... and her co-workers....and I. Watch her childrens' faces when she enters the room and you'll see what I mean.

In first grade she came home flummoxed and out of sorts.  The girls in her class had made up a list to take the guess work out of who would get to sit next to Little Cuter at lunch.  Another child might have been flattered; my girl was annoyed.  Why?  What made them think that she was special? She hadn't done anything to merit such attention. And anyway, didn't she have a say in the matter?

I smiled, remembering TBG's oft repeated advice on how to be cool - just act as if you don't care. Her trick was that she really didn't care.  She didn't keep score.  She was friends with everyone.

Nothing had changed by middle school.  "Mom, why do the kids fight with one another?  If you're not mad at anyone you can sit anywhere you like at lunch.  Why don't they get it?"  It was a good question then and it's a good question now. She still gets along with everyone; it's just easier that way.

A high school carpool conversation ended with "He's so awful even Little Cuter doesn't like him."  Catching up with her later in the day, laughing as I shared the story, I was stopped by her expression.  She was perturbed.  Who did they mean?  She was trying to think of someone she didn't like.

She's a truth teller, in the gentlest way imaginable.  "Mom, I love you, but......" has started many a Mom Improvement Project.  We are honest with one another.  I, brutally.  She, kindly.

Thirty-four years ago you arrived on the scene, somewhat reluctantly if the truth be told.  Today, there's not a reluctant bone in your body.  You embrace the world and its challenges with open arms and a welcoming smile - now and then.
(in this case, the day you started Junior Kindergarten)

  You're doing your best in 2019, and the world is a better place for it.
Happy Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Who Wants It More?

I've been listening to the NBA playoffs, sporadically and disinterestedly, as the background noise to the rest of my evening.  Big Cuter's devotion to the Golden State Warriors impels his father to follow the games more closely than he might otherwise choose.  I love the boy, too, but that doesn't translate to slavish attention to the nuances of rebounds and free throws and temper tantrums.

Honestly, I don't think that the presence (or lack thereof) of Kevin Durant is all that big a deal.  I can think of many other things with which to occupy my mind.

And so, I have been reading novels and preparing end of year notes for each kindergarten scholar, and playing Candy Crush Soda, all without my hearing aides amplifying that which I've chosen not to hear.

But some things do penetrate. 

Today, Draymond Green credited his mother and his fiance for telling him to sit down, shut up, and get out of his own way.  He labeled his own behavior disgusting, admitted that he was ashamed when his 2 year old son aped Daddy's behavior, after scoring on his Playskool hoop.

This wasn't in his personal journal.  It was behind a podium, speaking on the record, in response to a reporter's question.  His performance had been outstanding; gaining control had a lot to do with it.

And I thought of the impact his words might have on an impressionable young athlete, struggling to find a balance between passion and ego and action.  Stop whining; start playing.  Not a bad message at all.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Overlap - A Snippet

I read two novels this week - Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher (who does not look at all like Tom Cruise) and Jeffery Deaver's newest main character's first book. 

Both feature strong, silent types with a variety of lethal skills and backstories worth exploring.  Both men operate outside the law, in a Paladin role, rescuing the weak, restoring sanity to the universe, then moving on.  Both authors write tight prose, construct surprising plots, and keep me coming back for me.

So, I was struck when, at about the same point in each book, the main characters encounter a feisty female police officer whose orders are the same:  Thanks for the offer of help.  Please leave town now,  and don't come back.

Were Child and Deaver having drinks one night, concocting their plots, planning the overlap?  Or is it merely coincidental?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Really, Uber?

Another Branson Parent (what the grown-ups called ourselves at the kids' high school) had an awful experience.  She's far from hysterical.  She's traveled a lot.  I like her.  She's got a cautionary tale that I'm happy to share.  Here are her words, with minor editing.

So, I was in LA to help my daughter move. She is in Manhattan Beach which is 15 minutes in normal traffic south of LAX.  

After going out to dinner in Manhattan Beach with a friend, I ordered an Uber. was staying at the LAX Hilton.  Upon his arrival, I checked that the driver had my name, that I had his name and that his license plate was the same. He seemed like nice guy.

After about 15 minutes I noticed we were changing from the 405 - which goes right to LAX - to the 118 - going east-away from the airport. We got way into a strange dark neighborhood.  He exited and drove into a housing development with no street lights. 

He pulled over and said," I don't know what happened". At the same time I pulled up the directions on Google Maps and turned on the audio directions and called my daughter. She drives to the airport all the time and said, "Wow, he is all the way of east LA!" 

I told him to follow my directions.  I watched his map while we were driving; it did not look like the normal Uber app. We directed him back the way we came and eventually we got to the LAX Hilton, which is literally down the street from the terminals.  I had given Uber the exact address when I ordered it. 

He had the nerve to say, "give me a tip on the app" when I got out of the car! 

Vulnerable, frightened, and furious, I was not in the mood to pay more for that trip.

I protested on via Uber's app when I got home, 6 days after it happened. They responded that they would look into it. On the app, my charge went from $46.39 to .01 so I thought they would not charge me. 

Then I got the credit card bill -  they charged the entire fare. So I protested again and they said "Sorry, we pay our drivers within 30 days so we have a 30 day limit on protests". I told them I had protested after 6 days. "Sorry, there is nothing we can do".

Nothing they can do?  I want to know that they have disciplined the driver and I want other people to know you can follow all the safety recommendations and still get in a scary situation.... and that Uber will charge you the full fare to do so.

It would be great to let more people know about this. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thank You, Little Cuter

Little Cuter works with a lot of very smart people.  They have PhD's and positions of authority at a Prestigious American University.  They are also delightful human beings.  We know this because she tells us so, but also because in the office of The Shakespearean Scholar hangs a handsomely framed Forbidden Planet poster.  As the saying goes, he had TBG at Hello.  

When he recommended this book, Little Cuter sent it my way for Mother's Day.
Yes, it's Romeo and Juliet written in text messages.  Just as Elizabethan English is difficult for high schoolers, texting is often beyond obscure to their grandparents.  This slim volume may just bridge the gap.  

Knowing what's happening allows the reader to notice the beauty of the  language.  In Marin, I paired Shakespeare with several picture book re-tellings, including Moss Gown.  
The 5th graders gave formal readings (we had invitations and programs) before interested family, friends, and faculty, The Bard's words rolling off their tongues fluidly, with meaning and expression.  It made sense to them.  

I think I might try the same thing with Romeo and Juliet next year. 

What a great gift - memories and a new project and a book.  Thanks, kiddo.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

There are some people you can call.
My Garden Guru is one of those people.  
I sent him this picture and a plaintive plea: I have a leak that is beyond my competence :-(
We texted back and forth then planned to speak after Garden Club.
I watched the ground around the irrigation box get wetter and wetter as the little kids then the big kids came through to eat their scallions and examine our sunflowers
Then I looked up and saw his smiling face.
On his lunch hour, in the middle of a phone meeting, he drove across town, to Grandma's Garden, because I needed him.  My heart was bursting.
And, as always, he had time to explain the situation to curious kids.
He shoveled mud with his bare hands, examined the assembly,
and went back to his truck for the materials and tools necessary to effect a perfect repair.
We left the hole uncovered, barricaded to prevent random trampling, and told everyone that the garden was closed for two days.  

The hole was still moist when I turned the lever and watched for a leak.  It was more fun than watching paint dry, because every second might bring catastrophe.  

There was no disastrophe (a perfect FlapJilly-ism).  My Garden Guru did it, after all.  

There was water flowing through the drip system and not dripping into the hole.  Now, the only watery mess was one we made ourselves.
Grandma's Garden was open for business again. 
Open, thanks to one remarkable human being.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Inherited Traits

Little Cuter wonders if I'm more like G'ma or Daddooooo.

I always thought that I was my father, incarnate, until I realized that it was possible to remake yourself into a kinder, softer, more accepting version of that which both entranced and terrified you.  "You're just like your father," G'ma would snipe when the hangries got the best of me.

Yes, she sniped.  It never felt like a compliment coming from her lips.  Sad, but not tragic, I suppose.

I have his strong upper body and, according to my siblings, Daddy's limp.  Again, sad, but not tragic.

Like him, I love Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare and Mozart.  Like him, I am always enrolled in some class or other; people notice when I take a break, as they worried when he stopped showing up for class at Queens College.  I send postcards (often obscene, as his were, to test USPS's moral code) for no particular reason at all, each time remembering my delight when his travels took him to Oconomowoc and other oddly named places for no reason (it seemed to me) other than the chance to send me their hometown postcards.

On the other hand, he was chocolate and I am vanilla.  He went to synagogue and I avoided it as often as possible.  He lived tethered to his parents; I moved as far away as I could.  He used to make me cry and wonder why;  I tried hard not to replicate that particular piece of his parenting strategy.

G'ma and I shared a love of libraries and librarians and well-written fiction, of finding a hairdresser and never letting her go, of doing laundry on the same day every week.  I like to think that I am less judgmental than she was, but I do have my moments, in spite of myself.  We bonded over stationary of all sorts, and took pleasure in writing notes to everyone, for everything.  Making lists, over-packing, forgetting things that others remember easily - the overlap is scaring me as I type it out.  I'm wearing elastic waist pants and skirts just like she did, and my varied collection of  Vera Bradley purses reminds me of her Fall/Spring/Summer SportSac's... the last one, untouched since she died, resting quietly on a shelf in the garage.  Like her, there are some artifacts I just can't abandon.

And so it went, over and over, until I got out of bed this morning and gallumphed to the sink to brush my teeth.  The mirror answered the question.  I am my father. 
This is his eyebrow.

What it's doing on my face is an unsolved mystery.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A President We Can Admire

No, this is not a political diatribe.  This is an homage to a man who wouldn't let me present this in .  public.  He was emphatic - over several months, over a variety of formats - that he did not want to be feted.

That, as you can imagine, was a hard pill for me to swallow.  I love telling people that they are wonderful. I love extolling virtues.  I love sharing small stories that illuminate larger truths about a special human being.  And all that was denied to me.

But here, in The Burrow, he holds no sway.  This is my space and I will use it as I please. Let me introduce you to Our President.

TBG and I came into his orbit through the Cornell Club of Southern Arizona.  He was Our President.  He'd been Our President long before we arrived, and he continued in that role until he couldn't do it any more.  That was three years ago, three years of reminding the membership that his tenure was drawing to a close, three years of searching for someone to step into his shoes.

And those shoes are hard to fill.  His are the only meetings I willingly attend.  They start on time and rarely last more than an hour.  Speaking softly, rarely interrupting, he somehow manages to move ten talky Ivy Leaguers through a planning agenda that will result in well-attended events throughout the year.

He listens to everyone, to everything, smiling appreciatively even when what's proposed is outrageous.  He's easy; if you want to make it happen, go for it.  So we've gone behind the scenes at the Reid Park Zoo, seen plays we'd never attend on our own, had lunch with Sandra Day O'Connor's brother, all with Our President by our side.  He never took the credit, diverting attention to the immediate planners, but everyone knew that it was his quiet enthusiasm which kept the Club in motion.

The true measure of the man can be taken by what he did on January 8, 2011.  Despite tight a cordon of Tucson police and FBI Special Agents and various and sundry hospital functionaries, Our President managed to wend his way through them all until he found a person who could pin a note on the curtain surrounding my bed.  It was a plain sheet of paper, printed on his home computer.  GO SUZI GO! greeted me when I came to consciousness, encouraged me when I wanted to give up, connected me to people who cared about me, who went out of their way to help me heal.

"How did you manage to get that paper to me?" I asked him, months later.   He shrugged his closer-to-7-than-6 foot frame, put a disarming smile on his handsome face, and said nothing.  The First Lady answered for him, summing it (and him) up perfectly.  "It was just Warren being Warren.  You know what that's like."

Yes, I do. 

Power and grace and elegance, wrapped up in a kind and caring human.  I'm honored to have you in my life.

Friday, May 10, 2019

A Medical Update

Today I continued my week-long pursuit of medical care.  I'm seeing everyone I need to see, then plan to forget about them for 364 days.  Medicare gives me an annual wellness visit every 365 days, so I'll be back in the office next May.

Today, I went for a medication review and found that it was time for my annual review.  As with all government programs, Medicare is awash in paperwork. 

Am I afraid of falling?  Of course, who isn't?

How much strenuous exercise can I do without stopping for 2 minutes?  A moderate amount, I suppose.

Do I have someone to help me if I need it?  How often do I feel sad or lonely?  Do I have a living will?

These are not questions designed to make you feel young.

The geriatrician agreed with the gynecologist that tripping on my own shoelaces was evidence of klutziness but did not count as a fall for Medicare's purposes. 

We discussed retiring doctors (she's young and in debt; she's mine for life)  and DEXA Scans (she's in favor of gathering information; if the results warrant it, we'll have a conversation), and TBG's bromance with his soon-to-retire physician (yes, she'll be happy to treat my husband, as long as he is as much fun as I am.)

I got my second pneumonia vaccine, had blood drawn, and drove home to inform TBG that he'd better work on his schtick.

TBG's gift to me - the cold from Hell - is being treated with the over the counter medications the doctor and her resident had independently suggested.  It was nice to have a cold treated by two professionals.  Now, even though my head is about to explode and breathing is a fondly remembered skill, I am confident in the fact that I'm doing what I can.

Good medical care.  What a privilege to be able to partake.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

G'ma Was Right

Once again, my mother proves her perspicacity.

"Be sure your doctors are younger than you are.  Otherwise, they retire just when you need them."

Today I had my last appointment with my gynecologist, a woman referred by a woman I respect, a doctor with a sense of humor and the ability to tell me I'm an idiot without making it seem like an insult.

"Yeah, I'm prescribing you medication that will give you necrotic bone disease.  What else did you learn on the internet today?"  That was her snarky response to my derisive response to her professional opinion that I might need Fosomax. 

She's retiring next month.  Paperwork has overtaken her life.  Everything has a code and conversations are parsed by the possibility of an attached diagnosis.  It's just not fun any more. 

She loves her patients and wonders how she'll fill her days and it was fun to watch her delighted confusion. I tried not to feel sorry for myself.

"Who should I see?" 

"I don't know what to tell you," was her disheartening reply.  "I have 4000 patients.  Not everyone takes Medicare.  Not everyone is accepting new patients.  And why does everyone want to move to Oro Valley, anyway?" 

I reassured her that I had no intention of moving to, nor a need for, a gynecologist in Tucson's northern suburb.  She told me that I really didn't need to have a gynecologist at all.  I'm at below average risk for breast cancer, my insides looked fine to her today, and unless I have a problem there is no reason for me to be examined every year.  Her former PA is now working with my GP; if something is needed, she can take care of it. 

We hugged.  I wished her well.  I left the office feeling relieved and old at the same time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Happy Birthday, Big Cuter

(I liked it when I wrote it last year, and I like it this year, too.)

You've been a cheetah and a ninja.

You've been Robin Hood and Zorro.

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

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

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

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

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

 O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! 

Happy Birthday, my Mothers Day bundle of joy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Typewriter and Me

G'ma used to love to stand in the doorway and listen to me type. She said it was one of the prettiest sounds she ever heard.
I took piano lessons forever, and never really go the hang of it. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, with the lid on it, and that complicated my relationship with music. My fingers were willing, but reading the notes and translating that into a tune was, for the most part, beyond my capabilities.
Typing, though, was something that came easily. I took a class to learn the keyboard one summer, and breezed through it. My fingers flew. I could copy text fluidly. I got an A, although the teacher was never satisfied with my work. I was too fast. I would’t wait for the rest of the class. I was a problem.
I loved it.
We had a black, manual Smith Corona machine at home. The keys took some strength to push, but my hands were up to the task. There was something very satisfying about the sound and the pressure and the results. But, I lusted for an electric machine. They were expensive when they first came out, but by the time I went off to college, my parents could afford to equip me with a light blue Selectric.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
My thoughts flew from my brain to my fingers and onto the page. I typed for everyone, for free and for beers and for party invitations. I edited as I transcribed, making me a valuable commodity at Cornell in the early 1970’s. Typing was a money maker and a friend maker and something that made me smile.
I like pens and paper, probably more than any thing in the world. But the typewriter opened my thoughts to the world. I was faster than a speeding bullet, able to write big words in a single breath.
Look….. in The Burrow…’s your mom…. she’s a writer…. she’s a typist.

Monday, May 6, 2019


It's hard to be so far from those I love.

One Cuter on the West Coast.  One Cuter in the Midwest.  Brother on the East Coast.  TBG and I in the middle of it all, a plane flight or two away from them.  It sounds closer than it feels.

We toyed with the idea of moving to Indiana.  I float the idea of returning to California.  The East Coast holds no allure; we lived there and don't want to return to the congestion and the weather and the taxes.

We love our home, our friends, our life in Arizona.  The weather works for our older and achy bones. The politics are in play, with a Senate seat up in 2020 and a blue wave creeping around the edges of the polity.  The body workers upon whom I rely to keep me moving' and groovin' are in place.  TBG has his spin class buddies.  My garden is finally taking shape.

But those I love are absent from my day to day life.  FlapJilly and I spent a delightful 40 minutes playing Ninja Mini Golf around the corner from her house.  
 TBG held a play party in the sunshine this morning.
Neither of those things can happen on a random Sunday when we are thousands of miles away.  We struggle with the conflicting emotions.  TBG missed the mundane activities that occupied our lives when The Cuters were young; he was at work or recovering from work while I carted them play dates and gymnastics and birthday parties.  The notion of recouping those losses via his grandkids was intriguing enough to have us looking at apartments here.

But the sun didn't shine for 5 days in a row.  Notre Dame has no Humanities Seminars for adult learners.  The gym with the "good spin bikes" is half an hour away from where we'd live.  And we know no one but the kids and the machatunim, and that's just not enough.

Do I want to start over again?  Do I want to establish new friendships?  Do I want to find ways to become involved in the community when I don't know the issues that matter?

I feel too settled to abandon the life I've made in the desert Southwest.  I'd be heartbroken to leave my Prince family  And just thinking about driving in the snow again makes me shiver.... and that's assuming that someone else will shovel the driveway so that I can get out.

Yes, there are companies to do the yard work and the groceries can be delivered and my grandchildren will fill my heart with joy.  But I can get on a plane and fly here, stopping in Chicago to see old friends if I want.  Their lives are full without us, though they'd love to have us around.

Yes, they would.  They tell us so (just not next door!) and we believe them.  But I've lived in so many different places since I left Long Island when I was 18, and Tucson really feels like home now.

Leaving is hard.  Life decisions are hard.  I'm glad I'm around to have such a lovely quandary to examine.

Friday, May 3, 2019


TBG and I have taken to watching old Westerns instead of politics in the morning.  It's a much better way to start the day, focusing on the clear, black and white distinctions, between good and evil.

"They knew why I shot him - he killed  my horse."

"She loved me and left me - I shot her."

"You emptied the water barrels in the middle of our trek across the desert - you don't deserve to live."

Things were very simple back then.

Without much ado, punches are thrown, bullets fly, dead men are left behind, and Paladin rides on.

I loved Richard Boone when I was young; Paladin was my favorite of the oaters.  There was something comforting about a grown-up taking charge, trading his services for a jewel or a bag full of cash.  The characters he encountered were multi-dimensional (within the confines of a 22 minute episode) and needed him.

You sent a telegram, explained your problem, and asked for his help.  Have Gun.  Will Travel.  His card said it all.

He worked for himself, when he wanted, for whom he wanted.  He set his own fees.  He left when he was finished, leaving the bodies for others to bury.  He knew right from wrong.  With more nuance than menace, he rescued damsels in distress.

I often imagined myself as a damsel in distress.  He was my hero.

And so, driving home from dropping everyone off where they needed to be, unable to stomach more than a minute or so of Morning Joe on the radio, I was delighted to return to Paladin on the television, my sweetie finishing his sleep on the couch, Thomas-the-Wonder-Dog curled up at his feet.
Sometimes, black and white simplicity is all I need to feel rescued.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Perfect Antidote to a Trying Day

 There was conversation.
There was bouncing.
There was free play.
And there was love.
Lots and lots of love.
While I watched, TBG and Giblet amused one another.

It was a much better use of our time than watching William Barr.
Giblet speaks the truth.
Giblet does not dissemble.
Giblet has not been bought off.
Giblet does not embarrass his office.

We were much happier playing with him than we'd have been if we'd spent the day watching our institutions crumble.  
He's just love (and poop) all day long.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Babysitting Giblet

Today’s the day.

Yesterday, we went to Mayor Pete’s campaign headquarters, took ourselves out to lunch, and ran between the raindrops.  I explored Mishawaka (isn't that a great name for a city?) on my way between Whole Foods and Notre Dame, came home and made dinner, played HQ and watched Golden State until way too late at night.

Today, we're keeping the little man out of day care, looking forward to a bonding experience.  As you're reading this, he's eating or napping or playing in the playroom.  He might be taking a bath - the "if all else fails" option because he loves to splash.

Little Cuter left us a list.  Like most second children, his schedule is less rigid than his older sibling's was.  After all, he joined a party already in progress and had to learn to get with the program.  It helps that he is the happiest kid on the planet, willing to go along to get along.

Before we left Arizona, TBG declared that getting to know Giblet was his primary mission.  Spending a whole day with him should give him that opportunity.  Paying close attention as his daughter outlined the routine, he chimed in with the next piece before she could write it down.

He's been paying attention since we got here; I've been ignoring it entirely.  I pitch in when asked, but mostly I've been watching my husband do all the things he missed while he was out earning a living.  He is delighted by the minutae.  He revels in the little things - which spoon to use (it really doesn't matter), what foods to serve (if he hates it, try another), when to be where and why.

I did that.  I don't miss it.

He didn't.  He does.

And so, in retirement, he can recreate pieces of his young adulthood which slipped away while he worked 60 hour weeks.  I will take pleasure in his joy as I watch from the couch, reading my book, writing tomorrow's post, going to Costco while the oldest and the youngest males in the family bond.

What goes around comes around.  I'm so glad to be here to see it