Friday, November 29, 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Turkey Day

May your stuffing be just as you like it!

The Shorthand Between Old Friends - A Snippet

We were sorority roommates our sophomore year at Cornell. 

"How do you know my Grandpa?" her 7 year old granddaughter wondered.  He and her Bubbe are long divorced; it was a logical question.  Bubbe and I looked, laughed, and said in one voice, "It's a long story."

The conversation wandered, her daughters' reminding us that we are old.  "Is that a thing?"  we wondered more than once. 

Then, again, we often laughed and said "It's  a thing," when the youngsters looked askance.

We finished each other's thoughts, we had the same of course when of course was required.

It's been 50 years since we met.  It feels like yesterday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Monday in Grandma's Garden

It's been cool and rainy and the plants are so happy.
So are the kindergarten girls who begged me to let them spend recess in my garden.
After admiring the faux fir collar on the stunning pink coat, we went in to harvest.
There were enough tiny tomatoes to serve everyone one.
"Just pop it in your mouth," was my answer to their quizzical looks.  
Everybody tried it, which was all I asked.
Some of them loved it.  Others spit it out on the grass.  

We all agreed that a mandarin orange would cleanse our palates, so we walked to the tree and I harvested one.... and then another one...... and then they went off to find something new.

 Underneath a lot of very healthy leaves, they found a radish.
It poked its red head above the soil, turning a seed into an edible delight.  
Wiping off most of the dirt, digging out the plastic fork from the garden bench, I described our home grown vegetable as crunchy with a big taste.  Their faces confirmed the second part - this is a seriously flavorful radish.  I cut small slices on the garden's brick wall,
 beside a Thank You pot of paper posies from a class of Prince Scholars.  

We're closing the distance between farm and table, one 6 year old's mouth at a time.

Monday, November 25, 2019


Not-Kathy was so ccccold that she needed a hot toddy.

I was wearing a long sleeved top, shorts,  and no socks.   She had a sweater over a sweater,  and spent the evening swaddled in a cashmere blanket. 

TBG and I waited for them outside; they love sunsets and this was a good one.  She refused to go out the door. 

It's autumn in Tucson....64 degrees at 6pm.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Lorax Garden

I read Dr. Seuss's The Lorax to every student in every kindergarten every year.
There's a moral that resonates with me, a moral that is explicitly spelled out -
Unless you care, nothing will change.
I always pause and point to each one of them when the story gets to this point. 
Unless.  You.
This is their garden, not Grandma's Garden.
It seemed only right that they do the heavy lifting.
Thanks to a grant from the UofA and the USDA, we're well on our way to creating our own Lorax Garden. We're going to fill it with weird and wonderful edible plants, like this passion fruit, which Rillito Nursery is holding for me.  We're conspiring to find more wonderful ideas; we're open to suggestions.
I picked up the supplies at Home Depot, where they loaded my car.  
I unloaded them onto a cart myself; it was my workout for the day.
I got the 1st grade to push the cart on the sidewalk; they needed my help so there are no pictures.
I let the kindergarten play without asking for help; this was a job for the big kids.

It took only one question - "Would you like to be strong and help Grandma?"
Some were able to carry and toss. Others used the drop and fold method.
Others waited until the much lighter and easier to maneuver trellises were ready to be stored.
I submitted my grant application on November 14th, one day before the review date.

On November 20th I received an email notifying me that my order was ready to be picked up at Home Depot.  Amazon would deliver the rest.  We will meet at Rillito Nursery on December 5th so the donor can pay for the plants.
I kept thanking Katie-the-Munificent for the speed with which this was happening.  She was bemused.  Apparently, this kind of efficiency is just what's expected.... by her workplace, her colleagues, and herself. 
 She was surprised by my surprise.  I hope she never loses that feeling.

Thursday, November 21, 2019


If I'm in the house, I'm watching the hearings.  If I'm in the car, I'm listening to them. I skipped Pilates to watch one. 

This shouldn't surprise you; I did read all 400 some pages and 1100 some footnotes of the Mueller Report.  I've watched every minute of every one of the Democratic Presidential Candidates' debates.

I like to make my own judgments based on the originals.  Or, I'm obsessed.

I feel no need to apologize.  It's my democracy, it's the world I'm leaving my grandchildren, it's the country that took my grandparents in.  

It's a reminder of living in Washington, DC during the Watergate hearings, when the WaPo wasn't a national paper, but was my local rag.  TBG worked for the Democratic National Committee; he played softball against the RNC in a summer league.  We lived and breathed a national crisis.

I'm spending a lot of time remembering working at Blimpie's (mayonnaise? mustard? Russian dressing?) and listening to Barbara Jordan's mellifluous tones on the radio.  We followed every up and down, every evidentiary hearing, every parliamentary turn.  I'm doing it again right now, and it feels great.... right up until I feel like my head is going to explode

So, tonight I'm skipping both the end of the hearing and the beginning of the debate.  I'm going out to dinner with JannyLou, her Granddaughter M, and M's roommate.  We're going to have pizza and talk about college and careers and while we may touch on the hearings they'll be tangential to the conversation.  

I'm looking at it as the sorbet to clear my palate before I start on the next course, tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sometimes, I Amaze Myself

Lenore the Lenovo Laptop is having issues. 

Ever since I participated in a webinar, my home screen picture has been covered with tiny icons, folders labeled webinar.  There are lots of them, denizens.  Lots and lots.  I know that the men in my family will be struck once again by my lack of interest in numbers; they'd have counted across and down and be able to tell you exactly how many there are, covering up Giblet's giant cheeks, taking forever to load, and, today, precluding me from opening my browser window.

I turned it off.  I unplugged and replugged.  I hit control+alt+delete with intensity and frequency.  The interwebs were frozen behind an invasion of nonsense.

I don't know how it got there.  I was uncertain how to get it off.

I tried System Restore, but, somehow, it is not activated.  It's always activated.  I don't know where it went on its vacation, but its absence left me in the lurch.  I couldn't go back to the day before the webinar and start over.  I had no System Restore established and the machine apparently decided not to set one up for me... even though she used to do that.... even though I was counting on her.....


I thought about calling Brother.  I thought about taking it to the computer doctor.  I thought about searching for answers on my phone.  I didn't know what I wanted to type to you today, but I knew that I had to have access to the site in order to do anything at all... and I certainly wanted to do something.

On the gazillionth time I got to Task Manager via Ctrl+Alt-Del I clicked on File. A drop down box appeared; the first option was Open s New Program.  There was a slot into which I typed google and which autofilled itself with  I hit Enter and there it was; the interwebs were mine!

I suppose I should seek a more permanent fix, but I'm satisfied for now.  I found a way to write to you, and I found a topic, too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Sometimes It Only Takes A Hug

The Garden Guru and his crew were busily installing the irrigation system for the 5th Grade Garden today.  The 1st grade and I watched intently, making sure to stay behind the yellow caution tape.  There was a lot to see - white plastic tubing, metal welded connectors, wooden garden beds - and a lot of questions to be answered.

What's Irrigation For?  What's Irrigation Mean?  Where's Irrigation Come From?  How do you say Irrigation?   It's confusing to be in the mind of a 6 or 7 year old.  The questions come with baggage - What if it's a leak?  Why is the tube white?  Can I turn it on now? - that is sometimes understandable (Grandma's Garden hose leaks and makes mud puddles; our tubing is black; that handle is just sitting there waiting for me to turn it.)

Sometimes there were no questions at all, just a gentle tug on my coat of many colors and a tilted head.  Does she want to get in front of me so that she can see?  Nope.  Does she want me to explain what he's doing right now?  Nope.  Does she need to tell me something?  Nope.

So I reached down and pulled her close.  Her arm went around my waist and I leaned into her, letting her hold me up just a little, taking the pressure off my achy hip.  She felt my weight shift and pressed back just a little bit stronger.  And then, she was gone.

Grandma! Grandma!  He was mean to her and she told me and we are telling you and she is sad and she's here/over there/on the ground holding her knees.  There was something in the air today, something that sent 5 and 6 and 7 year olds racing across the map of the USofA painted on the concrete, jumping over the hop scotch painted under the solar panels, clamoring for my attention and my love.

Because that's what I was dispensing all morning - love. 

Is the ground that tripped you okay?  Did you crack the concrete?  Is it sad?  Let's go check..... and so we did, to the tune of the boys telling us that the cement can't talk and the sniffles of the injured party.
We inspected and were able to determine that the menacing crack in the pavement was neither crying nor repentant.  We spent some time hollering at it for getting in the way of our friend, then, giggling and holding one another, we found a ball and played 4Square. 

Grandma! Grandma!  I have a boo boo... a scrape.... loose skin.... an untied shoelace.  It's a good thing that hugs are infinitely retrievable.  I needed a lot of them today.

Monday, November 18, 2019

An Extra Week

For some reason, this year seems to have inserted a few more days into the month of November.  I don't understand it. 

We traveled and I don't feel behind.

I have everything I need for the holidays' wonderful madness; I checked it out this afternoon.

I've organized the orange decorations into Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving boxes and corralled the pumpkins and baskets into two gigantic clear plastic bags, waiting for a tall person to put it up on the shelf.

I washed Grandma's Garden's scarecrows, after removing their stuffing to another gigantic plastic bag. 

My container plants are thriving after their earlier pruning.  The roses are budding out.  The landscapers were here last week; there's no sense in making a mess when it looks so well tended.

It's too early to start the Brownie List baking.  I know that the list exists in a useful form; finding it in Lenore the Laptop is the only remaining challenge.... and it's not a very big one at all.

I've read Robert Crais and C. J. Box and Ta-Nehisi Coates (and if you haven't read The Water Dancer you really should) this week.  I'm up-to-date with The Brothers Karamazov for class on Tuesday.

Dr. K and Not-Kathy are coming over for dinner, and so I have to spend some time in the kitchen.  Other than that, I'm quite at my leisure.

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Quiet Day in Grandma's Garden

Everyone knew what to do.
No one had to ask how. 
Checking the soil so the potted aloe vera wasn't over-watered.... because it's a plant not a fish.... it can drown in too much water....... 
....that's a true gardening skill.
Even the raking was gentler.
None of us could explain it.
We all liked it. 
All three of them planted the seeds that have now sprouted as nasturtiums and either sweet peas or hollyhocks.... if only we could remember.... but it really doesn't matter because we'll find out soon enough when the flowers come out.  
In the meantime, we'll have some of the scallion growing out of the onion we stuck in the middle. 
It tastes so much better when we grow it ourselves.
The mandarin orange tree was ready to be harvested, and everyone had as much as (insert gender neutral pronoun) wanted.  

And then there was this.
I found the head of one of the scarecrows hidden in the garden bench's bin.
It's Tom or Jerry or Terry.... no one is every quite sure.
One thing was obvious, though - he was dead.
He had no body. Of course he was dead.
And so, he was buried. 
There was dignity and solemnity and much attention to detail.

I told them they could put him anywhere they wanted.
Hoist by my own petard on a peaceful Garden Club Wednesday. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019


The Hanging Garden has a problem - we can't seem to figure out how to label the individual baskets.

We tried a Sharpie; the words washed off within the week.

We tried Grandma's label maker; they are hanging on by a thread, and the numbers are barely legible.

Today, Garden Club hosted one of our donors, and even she was flummoxed.

We're going to try laminating something, once we determine how to attach the covered label to the basket itself.

All this reminded me of the storage container on our Allegiant Air flights to and from South Bend.  I share it here to provide a smile.  
I don't know about you, but after today's hearing, I can use all the joy I can find..
Just thinking about the person who wrote that label makes me giggle.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Escaping Just In Time

School was delayed for two hours in Granger, Indiana today.  They do that when the snow falls faster than the plows can push it out of the way of the buses. 

Little Cuter said that planes were skidding off the runways at area airports; when we spoke this afternoon there was 10" of snow on the ground.... and it was still coming down.  She said they were beautiful, big, and fat, and soft, snow glove flakes.

The weather app on my phone says there are going to be 4 degrees bumping against one another in northwest Indiana tomorrow.  Four little degrees.... then two more come out to play so that by noon there will be 6 degrees to keep her family warm.

We got out just in time.  It was starting to accumulate as we drove to the airport.  Slush... un-plowed roadways... fools slamming on their brakes and skidding..... traveling 25 miles an hour and gliding to every red light.... TBG and I exchanged knowing glances.

It was a beautiful morning, doing the last load of laundry, watching the backyard turn white.  There's a different kind of quiet that falls on a suburban street, untouched by tire tracks, when it's snowing.  I had a long time to feel that silence as I made my way down the driveway to where the car was waiting.  The driver decided not to risk taking the slight slope; my careful mini steps were neither graceful nor speedy. 

Why do we live in Arizona, FlapJilly asked?

We don't shovel the heat.  We don't slip on it.  There's no school delay because the temperatures are too high.  Planes do, occasionally, find themselves grounded because it's too hot to take off,  but waiting in an air conditioned lobby for the sun to set  is preferable to sliding across the tarmac in a long, silver tube.

I'm just too old for winter.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Going Home

"Why do you have to go home, Gramma?"

It's a question I ask myself every visit.

My life is in Arizona.  My heart is in Indiana.

It's hard to leave my daughter, but I assuage my sorrow with daily phone calls.  The little ones, though...... it's a different story entirely.   FaceTime is wonderful, but it's not a tactile experience... and the touching is what makes the visiting so special.

Giblet lets me blow raspberries on his neck,  giggles,  then presents his other side for ore of the same.

FlapJilly wraps her arms around my neck So Tight, refusing to let go.

I can share mac and cheese with them, bite for bite.  I can wipe his runny nose and twirl her curly hair.  I can change diapers and tickle the softest belly in the land.  I can point to the sight words on her First Nine Weeks Quick Guide and laugh as she declares that MY spells GRAMMA.

My life is in Arizona.  My heart is in Indiana.

"Why do you have to go home, Gramma?" becomes harder and harder to answer.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

Say THANK YOU to someone who served... or to someone who is wearing the uniform right now.  

It's the least you can do.

And, perhaps, observe a moment of silence at 11am

when the shooting stopped forever.........

100 years ago......

the first time.

Though our government is in turmoil, those in uniform still serve, still keep us safe, still protect us with honor and integrity.

America is still America - in no small part thanks to them. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Story Time

Grampa was a big help, as Gramma collected the diaper bag and her shoes and her coat and the kid's coat and the spreadsheet with the address of Wednesday's story time. There were a lot of options on Wednesday's agenda, but the Notre Dame related English/Spanish class piqued our interest. We drove to the Notre Dame Center for Civic Innovation, a renovated building on the edge of downtown South Bend. There was a beautiful curving staircase, but we had a little one so the elevator made more sense.... especially since there were all those buttons to push.
Toni Edgar Fein is the Director of Read Baby Read, a Family Literacy Initiative. She brought a bag of books, a sheaf of copy paper filled with Spanish language versions of all the baby songs we sang, and a loving heart. In attendance was a tiny crawling kid, a big girl in a pink sweater set, and Giblet, right in the middle.
Jennifer Wittenbrink Ortega is the Literacy Program Director at the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture.

She helped the littlest listener stand on her own two feet, while Giblet continued reading the story. She helped the born-in-Peru Mom sing the songs in Spanish; Wheels on the Bus has never been so much fun. She's a living breathing example of the translational nature of the Notre Dame experience - reinforcing positive behaviors, like attending story time, with prizes for one and all.

At the end, we were given a free book (which Gramma forgot to take with us when we left). We filled out a pink slip (which I also forgot) to mark our attendance. Had I remembered to take it with us, it would have been the first in our collection, a collection which could be redeemed for diapers or books or, if we saved enough, for a crib.

Rewarding good parenting, one pink slip at a time, they are bringing the University to the community, one little mind at a time.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Having Too Much Fun to Write

Art projects.  
Walks to the park.
Finding sweet treats.
Practicing counting.

I apologize.
I'm having too much fun to think about anything else.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Cooking Class

In Mayor Pete's up-and-coming downtown, TBG, FlapJilly and I ventured to the River Valley Farmers' Market, an indoor veggie store cum cooking class for kids.  Like almost everything we do in South Bend, it was convenient, easy to park, free, and fun.

Rebecca Miller's Goats and Gardens family provided the veggies and sweet baked treats that surrounded the cooking class.   The peppers were too beautiful to resist; we brought three of the home.

As the oldest participant, FlapJilly was assigned to cream the butter...which was, she announced, "a really hard job."
Everyone got a chance to pat the dough,
and roll it out.
Then there were the cookie cutters.
There was a turkey, an owl, and a pumpkin.
Each kid made 3 of their own choosing, which Miss Rebecca placed a baking sheet and popped in the portable oven for 8 minutes.
The chefs made the icing while the cookies cooked.
Sugar and corn syrup make a drippy and tasty treat.
With a green icing pen
and lots and lots of sprinkles, the final touches were added.
She ate all three of them before we left.
Three cookies before lunch?
After a jelly packet with breakfast and a lollipop as we left the restaurant?
That was the warm up before frozen yogurt on the way to get Mama after work.
Grandparents don't really have rules when it comes to foodstuffs.
That's what we're for.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

All Grown Up

She can count to 109.

She brushes and flosses her teeth and washes her hands and face before bed all by herself.

She chooses her clothes for the next day and lays them out on the floor all by herself.

She latches the chest strap on her car seat without any help. 

There used to be a baby in the house. Now there's a kindergartener who can spell Halloween.

She still loves her Gramma and Grampa, though. That is one thing that remains the same.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Big Boys

Getting a haircut 
makes you feel
All Grown Up!
Just like Big Cuter did, there on the left, in 3rd grade, walking out of the salon, all 3 of them feeling it.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Tidying Grandma's Garden

Look what she's wearing while she's watering the Hanging Garden.
Boots.  Jeans.  A long sleeve jacket.
Fall has come to Tucson.  It was in the 70's today, and everyone was wearing warm clothes.
Filling the pitchers requires skill and patience; it's a talent possessed by a rare few. 
Nobody was enthusiastic about getting wet today, except one kindergartener who proudly stood before me, arms spread wide, declaring "Grandma Suzi, I'm all wet!"
"Well, that's what happens when you stand in front of an open hose nozzle," I laughed and told him to go play in the sun and dry off.

There is always weeding to be done.  
Reaching is required, since there's no stepping in the Mandarin Orange tree's planting bowl. 
And, as always, there is raking.
I don't know why they love it, but they do. 
Today, we piled the detritus into neat piles
loaded it into the barrow 
wheeled it out to the garbage can where we one-two-three-lifted and dumped the dust and dirt . 
We were really strong.

Somebody wanted a picture in front of the garlic chives she planted.
Grandma Suzi was happy to oblige.
And sometimes, you just want to be alone.
Burying the new irrigation tubing was perfect for that. 
Grandma's Garden has something for everybody,
especially Grandma.