Thursday, August 29, 2019

Opening Grandma's Garden

There was lots to see in Grandma's Garden, now that the heat wave has passed and we can FINALLY  be open for business.  The wheelbarrow was the same, but the plastic trowels are new.
We collected the rocks Mrs. Ellis's classes made for us last year and placed them on the side of the raised bed .One enterprising scholar found a painted rock in the warbler house! 
With the floral pruner and careful supervision until he felt comfortable,  this scholar trimmed the invasive weeds covering the entry way.  It's nice to have competent help.
The next crew removed the hanging baskets from the fence and emptied the soil into the raised beds while their colleagues broke up the clumps and combined them with the existing planting medium.  Yes, the clumps were hard.  Yes, there was a lot of detritus atop them.  Yes, it all went into the beds.
While others were chatting, some of the girls were excavating The Hole in the Corner.  
 I'm not certain that the impossibly green bug was found in its depths, but we had a great time admiring its beauty anyway.  (Yes, there's a filter on the photo, but it was the only way to truly capture the color). 
The Mandarin Orange tree (not a lime, nor a lemon) has 19 fruits hanging from her branches.  It was very hard not to touch them.  The irrigation around our citrus tree attracted a lot of hangers on this summer.  I set the big kids to removing them. 
Apparently, some lessons were learned last year.  Nothing was left behind to sprout again.  Everyone was very proud of their roots.

A teacher shared the 5th grade's tiny garden project, and we muddled our way through it.

Were the cups supposed to go inside the wooden box?  Some did.  Some didn't.  
It's a randomized trial.

Did I over-water this?  Oh, YES!
 Since there was no way to truly save it, we decided that it, too, was an experiment.

And where did the water come from, you ask?  The plan was to place the boxes under the holes in the irrigation tubing and let the water drip in slowly.,  But two of the tubes were disconnected from the main line, sending arcs of cool water and loud laughter into the air.
It was much more fun to capture water this way than via the water fountain.
And we're all about the fun in Grandma's Garden.
It's so mice to be back!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Waiting for the Plumber

I didn't hear them pouring concrete next door at 3:30 in the morning.  TBG, his first night home, still jet lagged and time zone muddled, was roused by the trucks' bright lights and the beeping as they reversed.  He was uprooted from bed when the cement mixer began spewing its contents into the frame of the nascent garage next door.

I, deaf as a door nail without my hearing aids, was sleeping blissfully until he woke me, wondering how the noise and lights hadn't done so before.

He went out to investigate.  Yes, our neighbors' worker bees were there, in the dark, pouring concrete.  Apparently, it won't set properly in Arizona's August heat; they needed to get it done before the sun came up.  No, they were not interested in stopping right now!

We were not amused.  We called the sheriff.  If there's an ordinance that sent a deputy to Little Cuter's wedding party because the amplified music was banned after 10pm, there certainly must be an ordinance about construction at 3am.

There was not a light on next door.  Knowing that no one could sleep through the racket, we assumed they were out of town, unaware of the project being done in the wee hours.  We were wrong.

We waited in the courtyard to see what would happen, when our totally abashed neighbor walked across the yard, followed by a sheriff's deputy.

They told me they would have to start early.  I had no idea they meant THIS early.

His heartfelt apologies went on for quite some time.  He was mortified.  There was nothing to be done; the workers had satisfied the deputy that they were unaware that they were breaking any rules.  Apparently, my supervisor didn't tell me was enough to dissuade the officer from taking any further steps.

Apologies accepted - after all, they weren't getting any more sleep than we were and we like them a lot- we retreated to our respective domiciles and listened for another hour until the noise stopped.

And life went on, until last night when plunk...plunk....plunk...plunk.... went on for longer than I could stand it.  How I could hear it remains a mystery, but hear it I most certainly did.  I made sure the handle was completely set, but the drips continued.  A pillow over my head did nothing.  I got a step stool and removed the shower head, only to find that the drip was coming from the pipe itself.

Then, I dropped the shower head.  It was not a quiet sound.  Within seconds, TBG was standing, foggy eyed and frowning, in the shower beside the stool.

WHAT are you doing up there?

And then, of course, he had to try everything I had already tried.

I collected a bucket to collect the water - it's the desert after all; wasting water is a sin - but the plunks turned to plinks and they were very very very loud.  I put a towel in the bottom of the bucket; the plonks were quieter than the plinks and the plunks so I went back to sleep.

And this morning, because my handyman thought that this week would be a good time to take a vacation, I searched on Yelp for a plumber.  I chose a family man with 19 five star ratings; he'll be here between 12 and 2, unless he finishes his first job sooner.

Waiting for the plumber..... not exactly how I'd planned to spend today.  I'll use the waiting time to see if I can figure out  how to turn off the water to the house.  That seems like something I should know.... after 13 years.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Speaking "Mom" - A Snippet

Big Cuter speaks fluent Mom; he's often called upon to translate for his father when my ramblings leave TBG dazed and confused.  But my husband was on his own when he looked at me with loving bewilderment and joy, and said
There's like 50 movies in your Top Ten Movies.
I laughed, but he was serious.  He's thoughtful when it comes to numbers.  Ten means ten. 

But, since our brains were in Movie Land, he paused, then said
Initially, I perceived ten as being a finite number.  But, like Robin Hood's arrows, it turns out that it is infinitely available.  

Monday, August 26, 2019

Why My Neck Hurts

"Did you have trouble turning on the tv? TBG asked me the first night he was gone.  

I laughed.  The notion that I would voluntarily turn on the television amused me.  "i told you - left to my own devices I would never turn on the tv."

The second day began with a sunrise trip to the airport, hours of deep cleaning the kitchen, and a delightful early afternoon playing mah jongg at Scarlet's round table.   Then I was home and without a plan or a large print book.  

I looked at the tv.  It looked at me.  It smiled the way only an inanimate object can smile - that I know what you're thinking and I can help you..... come closer.... come closer..... 

 And so I opened the pretty wooden box which hides the remote that only I understand.  I pressed all on and, surprisingly, everything I needed was powered up and ready to go.  Netflix took its own sweet time buffering itself into existence on my screen, but once my icon - a sultry, featureless face with a hat tipped over the place for an eye and a Lana Turner curve to her hair - showed up I clicked right through to My List.

It was empty.

The Good Place was available and so was Stranger Things but I chose Grace and Frankie. TBG and I started it but he lost interest and since there's a lot of tv available when he's around and I have no desire to watch any more, I never finished Season One.  I gathered a fresh ice tea and the pitcher to refill my Contigo bottle, my cell phone, the house phone, and all the pillows in the land.  

Four hours later, I bestirred myself.

It went on like that for 3 days.  TBG came home with jet lag and fell asleep on the couch beside me.  I switched Netflix from John Mulaney to Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen and every actor over 50 and watched several more episodes before he stirred.

The next day, while he napped to college football, I came home and turned on my iPad mini.  With my earplugs in, I made some serious headway into Season Four.  Then I tried to move my neck.

I have some advice for you - do not resume binge watching at 11am.  I don't care how tired you are after spending hours deep cleaning the pantry with Perfect Patty's Youngest.  The fact that your back is speaking a new and interesting language is of no consequence.  Your hip's appeal to your better nature holds no sway.  Do Not Start In The Morning........ it will be evening before you know it.
Big Cuter approved of my orderly array of devices on the coffee table.  Little Cuter was pleased to know that I had, indeed, gone outside at least once each day.  A Pilates Teacher-Kid (suddenly, there are a lot of 20 somethings in the studio; for our purposes, they are all part of P T-K) was glad I stayed hydrated.

I felt quite Millennial, until I tried to move my neck.  

It turns out that watching nearly 30 hours of television does interesting things to the relationship your (very heavy) head has to your neck, your cervical vertebrae, your scapula and trapezius, and all those connective tissues that allow you to look and see who is knocking at the door.  

I may have been behaving like a 30-something, but my body refused to follow suit.  Ah, yes.... the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak.

"Hey, do you want to watch your thing if I watched football tonight?  Would that be fun for you?"

That, right there, is why I stay married.  

Plus, he rubs my neck.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Night Before

I wrote the first version in 2010.

Happy Anniversary, Big Guy.
I'm glad we did this.

Do you know where you were 44 years ago? Do you remember the weather and what you were wearing and what you had for dinner and who was late and who was obnoxious and how it felt to go to sleep that night? Probably not.... unless it's your wedding anniversary tomorrow, too.

I'm time traveling to G'ma and Daddooooo's backyard on Long Island. There's a yellow and white striped tent covering the grass, and the tables are stacked alongside the path towards the garbage cans... the cans which have been removed to a less conspicuous location, further from the walkway to be used by the guests as they arrive to celebrate with us, even though I thought it would be nice for my family and friends to admire the paint job we'd done on them one boring summer afternoon. They weren't elegant, but they were us. 

I lost that battle to G'ma's raised eyebrow and fifteen syllable enunciation of my name.

TBG's family had checked into their motel while he and Daddooooo and I were at the beach. We joined them around the pool later in the afternoon for hugs and congratulations and swimming as the wind picked up and the leaves of the trees turned upside down and silver. I watched Daddooooo noticing these sure indicators of rain and then watched him decide not to tell me. The man had an expressive face. 

I imagined him wondering just how waterproof the tent really was, wondering how sad I would be as I swam through mud to get to the ceremony, wondering why this happened to him over and over again never getting anything right and then I saw him smile and dive under the water to wash away the worries. Attention Deficit Disorder can sometimes be a wonderful thing. He came up with a smile and no indication that anything was amiss.

It was a soft and muggy evening as we gathered in the driveway, waiting for the last two guests to arrive before we could leave for the rehearsal dinner. They'd never been on time for anything we'd ever done together before; why we thought that this would be different still eludes me. Eventually we put a note with a map and directions on the screen door and set off, a caravan of celebration. The latecomers arrived after the first round of drinks (one of the 4 or 5 times I saw G'ma drinking... sweet vermouth..... it was a shocker) but before the salads and we ate and drank and had dessert and strolled along the piers, looking at the fishing boats tied up in the canals. 

The sky was cloudy but there were patches of stars every once in a while and I remember the sound of my sandals on the wooden planks to the background of  Daddooooo expounding, always talking, pointing out semi-interesting features of the landscape, with G'ma's murmured "Enough, already" as counter-point. 

But TBG's parents and siblings were along, too, and they were chatting and smiling and holding hands and looking at me with love and joy and I was happy thinking about the fact that they wanted me in their family as much as I wanted to be there.

After dinner, we retired to the backyard for more talking. Neighbors came over for brief hello's and congratulations and Daddooooo captured Grandpaw for 3 straight hours of non-stop jabbering and Brother went to pick up some pizzas because we were all hungry again. We caught fireflies in empty applesauce jars and played Kadimah and tossed a frisbee and football and we laughed..... especially when we realized that Grandpaw had turned down the volume on his hearing aide and was blissfully occupied with his own thoughts as Daddooooo chattered away. 

 Remember Daddooooo's expressive face? It made it easy for Grandpaw to know when to smile and when to nod. It was a win-win situation.... and no one else had to worry about amusing my dad.

There were clean sheets and a light cotton blanket on my bed that night. I fell asleep to the sound of raindrops on the roof.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Home Alone, Part 2

Another Excessive Heat Day, another day off from Garden Club.  I miss the kids, but I admit to being delighted to have yet another day all to myself.

Yesterday, I cleaned

  • the oven
  • the built in bbq's innards and underpinnings
  • the lime in the showerhead
  • several loads of laundry which dried outside in the sunshine.
I unloaded and sorted and evaluated and washed 
  • the kitchen drawers - all 14 of them
  • the cabinet under the sink
  • the laundry room drawer
  • the drawers in the bathroom vanity.

I stayed up until midnight, finished my book, locked all the doors, turned off the lights, complimented myself on setting them up so that I was cosseted on my way to my (lonely) bed, and slept.

Today, after Pilates and lunch with Fast Eddie and JannyLou (tomato bisque even though it was over 100 degrees outside) I came home and began binge watching Grace and Frankie.  After 7 episodes, I took a break to create chicken salad.

I plan to spend the rest of the day and evening and night munching and watching and laughing out loud, with no one to hear me.... or to join in.

This being alone stuff has its upsides and its downsides.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Home Alone

I've only spent 2 nights alone in this house, and that was in 2006.  I've left TBG behind, but not for 13 years has he left me.  A sibling reunion in Cleveland allows me to type this sentence:
Tonight, I'm home alone.
There's not a sound that I don't make. 

There's not a demand to be met.

It's heavenly.

I can feel tension oozing out of every pore, and I wasn't that tense to begin with.   I have the lights down low, except where I'm reading.... and the book is perfect - Sara Paretsky in large print.

I'll be back tomorrow, when I'll write during the day, before the quiet takes over.  Right now I'm going to relish the solitude.... the quiet.... the serenity ..... the peace.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Perfect Answer

Short and sweet, just like this post will be, I now present to you the perfect response when confronted by someone who thinks mental health care will solve our current trend toward daily mass shootings.

Acknowledge that, certainly, in some cases, the shooter is mentally ill.  But then wonder, in all seriousness, the following:
How many home runs did Babe Ruth hit without a bat? 

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Snippet for the Middle of August

Do you have kitchen tools that are older than your children?  Do you have tools which are older than you are?

I'm not referring to serving platters and cut glass bowls, nor to hand-me-down china or silver.  I'm thinking about G'ma's blender, which outlived her by a few years before burning out on my kitchen counter, half mixed cookie dough stuck to the beaters.

I'm thinking about the apple corer/peeler and the meat grinder, which I donated to a worthy cause before leaving Chicago.  They were handed down to Nannie from her sisters-in-law and for some reason they came to me.  Perhaps it was the apple picking then pie making which occupied The Cuters and me every Fall for one very frantic weekend which made her think this was a good idea.

I wandered around several kitchens in several apartments and one house, trying to find a place to attach the things.  I never discovered it.

I used the plastic teaspoon measure I've been using since Big Cuter was a glimmer in his father's eye this afternoon, which prompted this post.

I was making Sherri's Noodle Pudding, the mere reading of which just now has caused many of you to drool.  It's a recipe loved by everyone who's not lactose intolerant.  It was written on a yellow legal pad 30 some years ago.  I've pasted it and taped it and recopied it and printed it in order to read it at all, but I've held onto the original, too.

I also have Ivette's yam casserole (from sometime in the 1970's) and our behind the fence in Chicago neighbor's strawberry banana jello mold - both staples of my holiday table and both still in their original condition.

Is it my imagination, or do those things make the final product just that much better?

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Family Day

Auntie M started it off.

She's organized a family gathering for her siblings next week; she wanted to discuss the details with her brother.  Their older brother is getting older and there are concerns for his safety.  He's a set-in-his-ways bachelor, firmly ensconced in the corner apartment he took when the ancestral manse was sold.

There was laughter and there was listening and then TBG hung up the phone with a sigh.  "We're not getting any younger, are we?"

My sister's middle child was the filling in the Oreo.  After being featured in the New York Times, she's ready to turn her clothing line into a Real Business.  There was much conversation about valuation and inventory and percentages between the burgeoning entrepreneur and her uncle-by-marriage.  Her aunt just sat there and smiled.

The kid was wearing one of her creations.... or, to be precise, a creation-to-be.  How could I tell?  The bodice was held together with evenly spaced straight pins.   As she talked numbers, I concentrated on her grandmother and her great grandmothers and her grandfather and her great grandfather and all the years of sewing that led to this conversation between an Episcopal boy from the Midwest and an immigrant's offspring with a studio in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn, where her G'ma grew up.  What goes around, comes around  I thought as we finished our FaceTime and I began to make dinner.  The phone rang.  It was My Cousin the Fireman.

We grew up next door to one another.  He's six months younger than I am.  Our family lives overlapped until we both got married and I moved away.  Ever since I was perforated, he's been calling three or four times a year, to check in and say Hi.  It's the least likely series of  conversations I ever thought I'd have and I treasure each and every one of them.

In the hospital, he called me a hero.  When I protested that he, who ran into burning buildings, was the hero he interrupted me by yelling I never got shot!!!!!   Over the years we've discussed nothing and everything, with a few relatives thrown into the conversation to liven things up.  He's usually in the car and ends our talks as he goes through a tunnel or enters a parking garage.  I smile for hours after we're done.

I count on my children for frequent family visits.  It's lovely when family further out checks in, too.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

It's Too Hot

I was prepared to share the opening of Grandma's Garden with you.  I had brand new small shovels and spades; my brain was filled with images of small hands digging in the dirt.

We would have liked that post, if the kids had showed up.

We are having an unseasonably warm August; our temperatures have been over 100 for the past few days and it doesn't seem to be getting any cooler in the foreseeable future.  On Extreme Heat Days, the scholars don't go outside for recess.  They watch movies or play games in some of the larger classroom, under the watchful eyes of the monitors, while their teachers enjoy lunch and a brief respite from the chaos that is the first few weeks of school.

Grandma was not needed. 

It was vaguely unsettling to be plan- less at 10:30 in the morning.  I'm usually somewhere in my exercise cycle in the 10 o'clock hour.  Instead, I was wearing my Red For Ed t-shirt, standing in the Prince parking lot, wondering what to do.

It was too early for lunch and too late for breakfast.  I took the long way in a homeward direction, choosing to drive across the construction zone that used to be River Road, the fastest way across town.  I'm sure it will be beautiful when they're done.  Now, it's a time suck. 

I needed a time suck.  I didn't know where I was going. 

So, I admired the work the crews were doing, tearing the roadbed down to the soil below.  For a while in their youth, I told The Cuters that I wanted to work on those crews, that driving those machines and holding those orange flags looked like a lovely way to spend a day.  Today, I laughed with them in my head as I watched those workers outside in the Extreme Heat Day.  I really don't want to change places with them any more.

I dropped my Postcards To Voters at the post office and debated getting a sandwich to take home.  I opted for groceries at Whole Foods which I sped home to put in the freezer and the fridge before the Extreme Heat Day destroyed them.  Even a cooler bag struggles when the inside of your car resembles an oven on Roast.

And now I'm home.  I had yogurt and granola.  I read some of Ruth Ware's newest oeuvre.  TBG and I talked about families and travel and getting old.  I typed to you.  And it's only 1:06 in the afternoon. 
It's a bonus day.  I'm going off to fill it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

 This started out as a post about shoe fasteners.  After tying laces on quite a few of the very cool new shoes the Prince Scholars were sporting,  I sat on a bench and smiled as I zipped her zipper.  
 I tied these blue laces, and admired their heft.  As always, I asked if I could take a picture of her shoes.
Before she finished saying yes, I was surrounded by a bevy of beauties, each agreeing that they, too, would be happy to have their shoes photographed.  I couldn't deny them. 
And so I admired pink shoelaces and matching socks.
 As I tied these laces I noticed the lovely woven texture of the shoes themselves.  
There was no reason other than sartorial for these fur lined boots.  Flashing to FlapJilly's beloved pink with silver sparkles cowgirl boots, I realized that I was looking at a child whose parents realized that morning that there were other battles to be won.  
I have to share the loveliness that are these Cleopatra sandals.
That's my lace-less Chuck on the right.

It's so wonderful to be back.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


The printer won't print what I want it to print.  When I press the help buttons on the device the situation just gets worse.  It began printing out instructions.  I didn't need instructions.  I just wanted it to print.

Control+P usually produces a quick response.  Not this afternoon.  Noooooo, not this afternoon.

Of course not.  Why should the printer/laptop interface work when the laptop itself is giving me trouble? 

The lock screen now displays random icons and photographs.  I don't know where this particular assortment of treasures originated, though I recognize all of it as living in the guts of my device.  Ever since I turned the keyboard underneath the screen so that we could watch our nephew-in-law's Babe Ruth championship game without knocking into the keys and changing the streaming, the device has had issues.

It thinks I like that tablet setting.  I don't.  I like knowing where things are and I don't know where things are because the way things are now is not the way things ought to be.

Do you follow me?  I'm barely following myself.

I have an agenda to print out for a Board Meeting tonight.  I wanted to put the treasurer's report on the back side of the hard copies I'll distribute tonight.  I copied and pasted and failed.  I tried to copy on another application (from Open Office to Google Docs, if you're interested) but the report was having none of it.

I clicked on the print icon and nothing happened.  No noises.  No screen notifications.  Nothing.

I can't find the Open Office icon, which is the portal to creating new documents.  I tried to search for it in settings, but that only sent me deeper into the abyss.  I don't know why.  I'm usually pretty good at finding a back way into things.  My usual tricks aren't working.

I finally found the agenda, printed out 7 copies.... and realized I needed 8 of them.  Not wanting to try to locate the file, I copied it on the printer.  I'm happy to report that the top and the inside of the machine are able to communicate, even if it refuses to talk to its neighbor on the desk.

As for copying the Treasurer's Report to the obverse of the Agenda, I've given up.  We have $2701.45 in the kitty; I 'll share the news and we'll move on. 

I will deal with the inter-mechanized-device-communication-issue tomorrow. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Gentle Monsoon

The Golden Gophers are staying at Not-Kathy and Dr K's home this weekend.  It's been our plan to have all six of us live in Tucson.  The plan seems to be coming closer and closer to fruition.

The K's are snow-birding, because Chicago is wonderful in the summer and they live right above the Ralph Gehry designed  bandshell in Millenium Park.
A picnic on the grass with fine music happens just about every night for them, and they have only to  ride an elevator and cross a street with their wine and refreshments.   
While waiting for his wife to retire, The Golden Gopher has been volunteering and traveling and getting things organized so that they can move from Phoenix, which has been good to them, to Tucson, which, I am certain, will be better for them.

They spent today looking at neighborhoods.  The sun was out and the clouds were fluffy and the temperatures were below 100.  The air smelled of creosote - just like the creosote syrup in his craft cocktail Friday night.  

Yes, we're going out two nights in one weekend.  Our descent into sloth has been stymied by the arrival of friends.  We're going to the hottest new place in town tonight, taking Fast Eddie and JannyLou along to make it a real party.  I'm trying to tempt them with all the goodies I can muster.

And so, when yesterday dawned cloudy and drizzly, I smiled.  Tucson sits at a higher elevation than Phoenix, and that affects the weather.  We're cooler (in so many ways, but here I refer to the temperature) and, often, wetter.  And when it rains, it's wonderful.

Yesterday wasn't torrential.  It was steady and peaceful and soft.  You could sit under a ramada and watch the clouds crash into each other.  The bird in the sconce on the wall of Not-Kathy's house wasn't bothered at all by the water, and my friends enjoyed watching her coddle her eggs as they relaxed, not leaving the house, letting the world go by.

She can't retire soon enough for me.  I want them here all the time, enticing me to join them for adventures.  It's not too much to ask..... is it?

Friday, August 9, 2019

The First Day of School

I go there early enough to secure a parking space and avoid the drop-off traffic jam. 

"Hi, Grandma Suzi!" greeted me before I could lock my vehicle.  A smile appeared on my face, one that stayed there for the next hour.

"This is his first day of school," one now very grown up first grader told me about the young man beside him.  "This is our school's Grandma," he told his little friend.  "She's really nice."

Isn't that a lovely way to start the day?  It only got better.

Joseph got a really short haircut.  One of the Esther's had a brand new brown and gold gown to show me.  Last year's Student Council President gave and got a giant hug before she left and went next door, to start middle school.  The teachers asked for luck for the coming school year.

Parents who forgot their registration forms kept their youngsters waiting while the information was recorded.  Some dropped off their students, only to have to return and finish the documentation.  It was very hard to wait in the lobby until all the paperwork was completed.  It was hard not to be peeved at Mom.  All I could do was commiserate; I was peeved on their behalf.

How hard is it to return a form or two at the end of the school year?  They go home in backpacks and can be returned the same way.  There are translators available if language is a barrier. It's possible to skate by and never attend an assembly or a play or an awards ceremony, but filling out the required data to enroll your child is non-negotiable.  It should be done on time.  Otherwise, your kid sits on a chair, waiting for you to do what you should have done a while ago.

There.  It's out.  I couldn't say it at school, but I can rant here.  Thanks for listening.

But most of the kids were not so encumbered by parental neglect of their duties.  They huddled in small groups on the playground before lining up with their teachers and finding their classrooms.  The maelstrom that was the lobby was suddenly quiet.  Everyone was where they were supposed to be, except for the girl whose mother was just now starting to fill out the forms.  Latecomers were gently scolded - "School started 10...15...20 minutes ago.  You need to be here on time from now on, okay?" - and sent on their way. 

The front office staff took a big breath.  The year has begun.
That was going to be the whole post.  I'd written it in my head as it was happening, collecting anecdotes and impressions to share, making it up as I went along until this:

A mom a little bit older than most of the others in the room approached me.

"Do you work here?" 

I explained myself and my long involvement with Prince.  Before I could finish she asked  the question that had kept her up the night before - "How safe is this school?"

The front door was buzzed open for her yesterday.  Today, people strolled in and out with no one really watching.  She was dropping off her 5 year old.  Would she be protected in this strange new space?

I covered my dismay.  I told her about CTG, establishing my I know just how you feel credentials at the outset.  I described the double locking doors, the evaluation before the buzzer is pressed, the presence of a police officer between the two schools, the locked gates.  I talked about her fears and tried to reassure her that everything that could be done was being done to safeguard her little treasure.

I drove home thinking about FlapJilly and dropping her off at school for Junior Kindergarten.  I spent an inordinate amount of time that day explaining to the teacher that the kid could tie her own shoes.  Why I felt the need to share that information in that much detail remains a mystery to this day.  But, Mrs. Wilson listened and nodded and I left feeling a lot better.  That was my big worry.

What a world we a giving our kids.... the little ones who might be targets and the grown up ones who are sending them off to school.  The first day of school jitters should be about making friends and finding the bathroom and will I like lunch.

Bullets should have no part of it.

If you haven't called your Senator and demanded that Moscow Mitch call them back into session to do something about keeping us safe, here's the number for the United States Senate - 202-224-3121.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

I Can't

I have no new words.  I have nothing more to add to the conversation.

I could write about FlapJilly's big cousin, whose team is seeded first in the Final Four in the Babe Ruth World Series.

I tried.  My brain kept going back to 22 dead because of the color of their skin.

So, I'm posting these photos because I promised that I'd keep you posted on the spire's progress.... and because I just can't write anything else today.

It soothed my soul to be outside and take these pictures.  I offer it as an antidote to all those words that have been said before.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Back To School Love Feast

I remember YOU!

That was the second most often repeated phrase I heard this morning.  The first was OH! Thank you!!

I started the day with Vera, the generous donor at Albertsons, who filled a shopping cart with goodies for GRIN.  She wanders the bakery, picking and choosing that which will appeal to those who are educating our future, then waits for me to come through the door and hug her.

Look at how wonderful she is:
I filled the coolers I remembered to bring with those delicacies which would melt in the desert sun,
and drove off the the first of my 13 stops.  It was supposed to be 12 stops, but one of my favorite principals moved down the road, so I added his new middle school to my route.  He was busy when I dropped off their treats, but several staff remembered me enough to hug me and thank me for everything.  

I knew they were thinking of Christina-Taylor.  So was I.

I left donuts and strudel and cakes and pies of all kinds and descriptions.
I left cookies and and bagels and muffins and cupcakes.
I left behind good will, smiles, and treats to fuel those who are paid far too little to do far too much.

As always, I took away more than I left.  My achy heart was filled with love.  I was reminded that the worst day of my life led to some of the best days of my life.  

CTG would be proud of me.  Little Cuter complimented my small and mighty presence.  TBG listened raptly to my tale of the tour.  The Survivor's Network would approve of my self-care skills.

Healing the world, starting with myself, one small act of kindness at a time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Sunday at Costco.....Because

I knew what I was getting into before I left my driveway.  I wasn't surprised by any of it.  Knowing that kept me sane.

There was a line of six cars waiting to turn into the parking lot.  Having anticipated that, I stayed in the outside lane and turned left into the furthest entrance from the store.  I was all alone as I drove up to the companion box store and turned toward Costco.

It was then that the stupid began.

Yes, FlapJilly and friends, stupid is a bad word.  But grown ups know that it connotes a certain type of behavior that has no equivalent descriptor.  Foolish, brainless, idiotic.... stupid is all that and more.

It's not knowing that backing up into a car that's right behind you might be the reason there are horns blaring and people staring.  It's continuing to move when the agitation comes ever more obviously closer to your vehicle.  And, mostly, it's finishing your maneuver and driving way without acknowledging that anything happened at all.

It's blocking the pathway of the woman in the motorized shopping cart, not giving her room to get started without colliding into your ankles.  Not that you don't deserve it.  I blocked for her, much to the annoyance of the older gentleman to my left, and followed them into the store.

I like to pause out of the way to put my membership card back in my wallet.  I have noxious history of leaving such things in pockets and losing them forever.  I'm better off taking the time to do it right.  Since it's not easy for me to balance everything while moving forward, my cart and I pulled over, as we usually do, near the laptop displays.

There I watched children left behind by browsing parents, then berated for getting lost.  Really?  He'd been standing in the same place the whole time.

I meandered behind couples munching on the ubiquitous freebies, fondling sweat pants, admiring the costumes with a very intense 3rd grader by my side.  It was a slow walk, and I didn't mind.  There were dads with lists, dispatching offspring to hunt and gather.

A 30 something man left his cart and hustled past me to the flats of water, asking how many I wanted as he lifted one and placed it in my cart.  He was abashed as I thanked him.

There were giant hunks of meat and absolutely not one single solitary roasted chicken which made what's for dinner an easy question to answer.  I found my strawberry-frozen-yogurt-on-a-stick box, placed it in the cooler bag I remembered to bring in with me, and headed to check out.

I forgot my book, but that turned out okay.  There was no line.  No line at all at three registers.  On Sunday.  The cashier and her assistant and I shared a where are they moment before I headed out the door and found The Uv.

I managed to get everything into the car, while a silver Toyota waited patiently.  We were both in the shade;  that is a Tucson moment to be treasured.

I drove home the long way, the way with fewer lights and fewer cars and fewer busy cross streets.  I wasn't taking any chances on holding it together any longer; I didn't want to be challenged.  I didn't have the radio on.  I didn't want to hear about the death and destruction that is being perpetrated by skinny white boys in hoodies, by young men with access to weaponry that belongs on the battle field, in a country that can't seem to get its national leadership to care.

Sunday at Costco was the perfect antidote to Gilroy and Dayton and ..... oh..... I'm having trouble coming up with...... El Paso.

There are so many.

And it's so stupid.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cheese and Cheerios

The toddler is getting into her personal space, and FlapJilly is not amused.  She doesn't want to be aggravated with her funchie cheeks little brother, she just wants to eat her lunch without his hands on her plate.  It's her one meal in front of the television; she wants to savor the experience.

Mommy to the rescue.  Out come the blueberry Cheerios Chelle bought them for their birthdays.  Although Little Cuter thinks that the honey nut flavor is far superior, the blueberry box was close to hand.  And so she spread some out on the coffee table and let Giblet loose.
That worked for a while, but his sister was still there on the couch, eating salami and grapes (her current go-to meal).  He had only cheerios, and they were insufficiently entertaining.  So, back he went to her plate.

She being the charming and thoughtful and kind individual her parents have raised her to be, took pity on the poor boy and placed a small piece of salami on top of the cheerio she extricated from his grasp.  

And suddenly, a new treat was born - blueberry cheerios with salami on top.  Little Cuter stopped laughing long enough to text her brother and me - Cheese and Cheerios are back!!!

Cheese and cheerios?  Yes, cheese and cheerios.  It's a snack I concocted for The Cuters  Kraft American cheese ripped into tiny pieces and pressed between two regular cheerios.  They gobbled them down as fast as I could create them. They ate them all throughout their childhood.

My daughter and I laughed about the 21st century version her kids had created.  We agreed that this weekend was best remembered with cheerios than with gunshots.  We reveled in the moment and I went to Pilates with a smile on my face.

I left the studio and headed for the grocery store, where, since the gods were listening to our laughter, I found this display as the electric doors whooshed open: 
Obviously, the stars were aligned.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

It's August

Time for my annual rant about school starting before Labor Day.

It's just wrong.  Resorts suffer, from a lack of patrons and a lack of staff.  All those summertime jobs - life guard, camp counselor, ice cream man, boardwalk shill - peak in the dog days of August.  the song does say See you in September, not August.

That feels especially true to me this year.  For the first time in a long time, I was once again tethered to a school calendar.  Garden Club met every Wednesday; when I wasn't there, the kids noticed.  I reveled in those totally without entanglement mid-week respites all through the summer.... the summer that I think should still be going on.

Not that I'm sad to open up the garden once again.  Not at all.  It has nothing to do with future fun.  It has everything to do with prolonging my current state.

Since I was a little girl, I've loved hot August afternoons, the ones with no plans, where a walk down the street settles my soul.  The day has to be really hot, with no breeze, filled with the stillness that makes every breath taste deliciously of laziness and languor and lollygagging.  There's got to be no place to go and nothing to do, no one waiting for me at either end of the journey.

It's pure bliss.  It's a self-contained moment, usually alone, though there were some memorable ones when the Cuters were very young.  No chattering, no headphones, no sounds except the city sounds, or the tide along Richardson Bay, or the Mourning Doves cooing from the top of the saguaros. 

I can just be.

I'm not ready for it to end.


I'm sorry, denizens. 

I thought the debates would provide prompts for the rest of the week. 

I couldn't manage to get even one out of two nights of tedium.

Republican talking points?  Few of them turned the question on its head.  Dreaming vs Fantasy vs Pragmatism..... can't we all just get along?

Basically, we are not racists, and we don't think that someone whose words and actions are racist ought to be President of the United States. 

Our elections are at risk and he's blocking action to stave off the attacks.  He loves the guy who's shooting rockets over our allies.  He was friends with Jeffery Epstein.

So, to simplify things and get on with my rant, since they all agree on the basics - access to affordable healthcare and the voting booth - why don't they tell us who they are?  Marianne Williamson wears her heart on her sleeve, perhaps too literally for some.  Mayor Pete speaks about faith.  They reference values to live by, not experiences to be shaped by. 

I'd like to know how they approach problems.  I want to know who they admire.  What are they reading, besides polling data? 

Being President is all about character, when it comes down to the hard decisions and to the simple, everyday tasks.  Who are these people?  Inquiring voters, in this house, anyhow, want to know.  These debates really didn't bring me any closer to an answer.

As the title says, b-o-r-i-n-g.........