Friday, February 28, 2020

The Novel Coronavirus - A Snippet

Now people are turning up without any connection to a known vector of the virus.

I've learned that a pandemic has three components and that this novel coronavirus has met two of them..... so far.

I've learned that Donald Trump can make even disease all about him, and his wonderfulness.  We let him into the living room tonight for the first time in a long time and were, once again, stunned by his absolute refusal to believe in facts, or to use facts, or to do anything but try to stay awake behind all those chattering nabobs of negativism who were trying to tell us that the shit is about to hit the fan.

Now, it seems that, unless your immune system is compromised or you are very young or very old, Covid-19 is like a mild case of the flu.  And, as our President rightly pointed out, many people die after contracting the flu.

Still, when governments are shutting down schools and talking about cancelling the Olympics, when the Pilates teachers are teaching in Tucson instead of South Korea this week, when I start wondering if I made a mistake refusing travel insurance, it seems prudent to pay a little bit more attention to the situation.

I'm trying not to think about the 36 hours I spent in Las Vegas with 400 well-traveled strangers.last weekend.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Not a Leap Year Day Baby

G'ma delighted in telling the story.  Feeling contractions on February 26th, my mother tried to get me to wait. 

"You're missing the opportunity of a lifetime, kiddo," she told me as Daddooooo got us to the delivery room.

I couldn't agree with her more. I'd have been a great Leap Year Birthday Celebrant.

But, alas, control was ceded to a higher power and I arrived just before 2 in the morning, on the 27th.

I'm older than I might have been.  10 years ago we sat with The Golden Gopher and Elsa Peretti, toasting the fact that I was on the couch to celebrate.  Tonight, we'll celebrate with more friends from graduate school and from Big Cuter's Lamaze class and from next door.

It's the 68th anniversary of my birth, my 11th bonus birthday.

All I want is the birthday card Little Cuter promised to mail once she bought stamps, the phone call from her brother, and a few opportunities to thank a first responder or a doctor or a well-trained stranger.

It feels good to be able to do that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Gardening on a Windy Wednesday

Everyone was wearing a jacket, and everyone wanted to dig.
The kindergarten decided, once again, that the entry to the Garden was the perfect place for a hole.
The big kids filled it in, tamping it down with the shovel until I encouraged them to stomp it. 
"Yes, you can stomp, too," is hard to say with a straight face.

As always, there was weeding in The Forbidden Area.
Most of the gardeners remembered to stay clear of the saguaros' spiny protrusions and were able to pull out the mustard which had gone to flower and which, since it's "a plant in the wrong place," is, by definition, a weed.  

Our friend at Rillito Nursery bought us a container of lady bugs.
I'm going back this evening to release them according the instructions.  By then, they should have recovered from the dance party the 2nd grade had with them.  I was very grateful for their well-constructed container.

As always, there were scallions to be eaten..... some a lot longer than others.
The Lorax Garden has delicious Dinosaur Kale 
which made these scholars very, very happy.
There was a lot of happy going around today.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Another Escape

Is it happening to you, too? 

Is watching the news next to impossible?  Do you turn to the local news first in the paper, avoiding anything that reflects the critical state of our democracy before you've had your morning coffee? 

Do you wonder where to place your allegiance?  Does anyone but a Bernie Bro have total confidence in their choice?  (For the Grammar Police:  I am using their in its new, first person singular, fashion.) Is thinking about it giving you a headache?

I gave myself a pep talk.  I have to stop worrying about things over which I have no control. 

I can't influence the media to remind people that as of today Bernie has exactly 34 delegates, far short of what he needs.  I can't make Donald Trump be any less orange.

I do my best to keep a low carbon footprint while still living my life.  I write and call and show up when needed.  I read what needs to be read and I share with others.  I do what I can do.

Beyond that, I have to stop ruminating about the condition of the world.  I've been  having weird dreams.

So, last night, TBG and I laughed our way to sleep with My Favorite Year.  To be accurate, they were say-the-dialog-along-with-Peter-O'Toole-while-giggling-hysterically laughs.  We knew exactly what was coming and could hardly wait for it to get there.  We've seen it dozens of times and we've guffawed thousands of times and if you are having trouble with the world writ large, perhaps you can escape into 1950's live television, just as we did.

You can thank me later.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Flying - A Snippet

There was a Cornell conference in Las Vegas; I flew in on Southwest for lunch on Friday and out on Saturday at dinner time.  It took me a week to get organized to go.

The TSA agent in Tucson looked at my boarding pass but not my license.  I was surprised, and told the supervising agent so.  He promised to look into it.  I'm looking into the process of filing a complaint myself.

I scored bulkhead seats on both ends of the trip; I don't understand why the 60 or so passengers who preceded me passed them by.  The flights were uneventful, although I was surprised to be told to contact a flight attendant if something made me uncomfortable.  They were not talking about the seats.

McCarren Airport is disgusting; I wanted a shower after going through security; sitting on the hard plastic chair took a leap of faith.  However, I did manage to find the perfect dinner.
Those fat, salty, crinkly fries and the hot dog which fit perfectly in its bun almost made up for the rest of the airport experience, which was as crowded and dirty and neon and overwhelming (and not in a good way) as the city itself.

It's good to be home.

Friday, February 21, 2020

An Escape

Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier are dancing across my television screen.  We've watched the 1940 version or Pride and Prejudice several dozen times at least, but somehow, tonight, as the sun is setting and dinner is digesting, this old friend is warming my heart in new and unexpected ways.

Suddenly, Darcy doesn't seem quite as supercilious, quite as cold.  He's fallen haplessly, hopelessly, impossibly in love... and he's a clod about it.  Jane's simper isn't grating on my nerves, and Mary's goggle-eyed dorkiness has a lovely overlay.  I can't stop smiling.

I'm giggling at Edna Mae Oliver's condescension as if I've never seen her before.  We're mimicking Mr. Collins as the clarinet announces his arrival

Greer Garson is too old to play Lizzie, and she steals every scene she's in, but even that isn't dampening my enthusiasm.  It's not a complete balm against the insanity that is Donald Trump's assault on American justice, on the Democrats' insistence on eating their young, but it's helping.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Edibles in Grandma's Garden

Our apple tree is showing signs of life.
No, we don't know what color they will be, nor how big they will be, but someone knew something - we have to get them before the squirrels do, because squirrels love apples.

We shared our edible nasturtium,  
even with our most reluctant friends.
She was not pleased.

 And then, there was a major success:
we grew a carrot!
It may have been harvested a tad early, since it was thought to be a weed,
but we managed to divide it 7 ways

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Happy Birthday, G'ma

You're in my thoughts. You've been popping up in the strangest places.  You're smiling and you're comforting and you're there.

I don't conjure you, you just appear. 

It's lovely to be driving across Orange Grove and hear you telling me to "look at that sky; those clouds look painted on."  I certainly heard it often enough; over and over and over some days; some days with surprise in your voice; some days with awe; but always, without fail, on every sunny day. 

I treated myself to a facial.  As the aesthetician felt my skin, complimenting (herself?) its smoothness, I saw you lying in a hospital bed (there were so many hospital beds) as a doctor or a nurse or a tech wondered how you kept your skin so soft. 

The kale leaf I offered a Prince Scholar fell in the soil as we made the exchange.  I heard myself echoing your matter-of-fact tone as I told him, as you told all of us, to "brush it off; it's fine." 

I brought fruit to JannyLou's dinner party on Sunday, standing beside you in our Oceanside kitchen as you created yet another fruit salad while I cored the strawberries.

And I've been feeling your hugs.  They didn't last very long; you're the only person I've ever known to break away from a hug with "Okay, that's enough!"  They weren't random; hello, goodbye, and tears were acceptable occasions for that much touching.  But I can feel them now, whenever I want.

Happy Birthday, Mommy!  Thanks for hanging around.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Watching the Dermocrats Debate

I've had a hard time watching the debates.  There have been so many of them.  But I answered a call on my cell phone that put a different spin on things. 

TBG and I were on the couch, watching HBO's John Adams while digesting lunch.  My purse was on the coffee table, my phone was in my purse, the volume was up, and we both heard it ring.  This unusual confluence of events caused me to swipe to take the call, even though the number was unknown to me.

It was just a reflex.  

Ray was on the other end of the phone, calling from Mike Bloomberg's campaign, wondering if I wanted to attend a Debate Watch Party at Gentle Ben's on Wednesday night.

"Will you be feeding us?" 

"Oh, Suzi, there's always food!"

I signed up, knowing that my friends who are making ads for his campaign will probably be there, enjoying the fact that "the event will happen, even though we don't know that Mike will be on the stage.  

We're committed to supporting the nominee, whoever it is," he went on, talking about the "opportunity for Democrats to get together" as if it were a natural thing to do.  Would that that were the case, I thought, and then smiled at the notion of doing something to make it so.

The DNC is in total disarray; don't get me started on the mess to come in Nevada's caucuses.  But a gathering of like-minded people who are invested in the process and whose differences are really only at the margins sounded like fun.

Plus, there would be food.

Because Bloomberg knows technology better than anyone else running (except, perhaps, for Trump's minions), by the time I put my phone back in my purse Lenore the Lenovo showed me an email, thanking me, by name, for signing up, and ending with this:
Validated parking for the event will be in the U of A Tyndall Garage 
Food, drink, and parking? It seems that I will be happily helping Mike spend his money all the way to November 3rd.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Enjoy "Presidents Day"

This was first published in 2011.  It's one of my favorite rants.
Mary Ball Washington gave birth to a boy child on February 22, 1732. Unlike many of the stories surrounding this man (think cherry trees and coins across the Potomac and standing up in an open boat as it crossed the Delaware) this is an indisputable fact.

Mary was not in labor on the third Monday of February.  She produced her child on a specific day - the 22nd day of February.  His birthday didn't move around with the vagaries of the federal holiday calendar.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln met her second son, Abraham, 207 years ago today.  Like Mrs. Washington before her, she was not in labor on an indeterminate day sometime in the middle of the month.  It occurred on a certain day, a day formerly commemorated by school children and mail carriers alike.

Alas and alack, these fine gentlemen have been conflated into Presidents and their birthdays combined into a generic celebration designed primarily to afford employees the opportunity for a 3-day weekend in the middle of the winter. What was wrong with the old system, I wonder?  As an elementary school kid I looked forward to those random days off in the middle of the month.  One day, breaking up the routine.  One celebration for each president - pennies examined on the 12th, leadership and lying (not) on the 22nd.

There was no time for a weekend away (not that G'ma and Daddooooo could have afforded to take us anyplace anyhow) and there was no competition between students for who went the furthest and had the most fun.  It was an opportunity to go sledding at Bethpage (the Black Course was used for many things in my youth; this was the best of them) or to meet friends at the bowling alley and then walk to Smiles (our precursor to a 5-and-dime) where we cruised the aisles until our parents picked us up.

It was grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon on the side, eaten on paper plates and accompanied by the admonition Don't Tell Daddy since the bacon was not exactly kosher and he cared a lot more than did G'ma.  There were snow forts to be built, snowball fights to be fought, snow men to be built. The entire neighborhood roamed from front yard to front yard, creating and tumbling and finding warmth and drinks and the occasional bathroom in whichever house we happened to be in front of when the need arose.

And now?  Now President's Day is always an event.  It's a long weekend for which plans must be made.  It has no intrinsic meaning, no relationship to George or Abe or any of their colleagues.  Their faces are used to advertise white sales and car sales and furniture sales and The History Channel runs back to back episodes of The Presidents but that's about the size of the historical component.  What began as tributes to great men has devolved into spending opportunities for the masses.

Am I bitter?  You bet.  A day off followed by another one 10 days later.... what better way to combat the winter doldrums than that?  A random day, a day to cuddle under the blankets with your sweetie or to do all that laundry that interfered with your weekend plans and so still sits in the basket, mocking you.  A day to explore the neighborhood and have lunch in that place you've driven by 100 times before..... a day just to be.

Sometimes, when I was a girl really was better.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day

(an oldie but goodie, from 2018)

 Hearts are everywhere, and not only today.
There's the heart Yogi Mary found in nature.
 There's the heart the Mesa Mavens drew for me at the first Stroll and Roll.
There's the heart that bereft parents look at and cry.
And there's the one I send to you, denizens, filled with everything wonderful and beautiful.
Happy Happy Valentines Day to the people who make my heart sing and my fingers fly over the keyboard, each and every day.  Thanks.... for being here, for commenting, for reading, for caring.

Without your presence, there would be no Burrow.  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Weeding Wednesday

It was a busy day in Garden Club.  We had visitors from one of our donor agencies, 
who were quite interested in the harvesting and ingesting of our super-power-inducing scallions.
 When not entertaining visitors, the gardeners got to work removing the invasive parsley sprouts, which we have determined are weeds, a weed being the wrong plant in the wrong place.
Some of the roots were in so deep that a trowel was necessary.
The Rock offers shade and loosened soil for the roots to take a deep hold.  That's just one of the many many many reasons I have offered to deter the gardeners from undermining the stability of one of their favorite places to sit.  I speak, they dig, and so it goes.
 The older gardeners assured me that they were cautious enough to avoid backing into the saguaros, so I opened the gate and let them into The Forbidden Space to weed.  
Though he started with the Fiskar trowel, 
this gardener quickly reverted to what he knew. In Africa, we use our hands, like this...
and he dug in with all 10 fingers, separating the soil and tossing out the entire plant structure, from leaves to roots, fluidly, happily, quickly, competently, all the while chatting me up.  

I love Garden Club.

And there was more.  So much more.

I knew she could be trusted with the sharp pruning tool, so I left her to deadheading the containers. 
As she pointed out, we need to cooperate and we can do this. 
The old hose was refusing to cooperate, but the gardeners were determined.... until the whistle blew and all their efforts unfurled as they raced across the playground to get in line.
And, of course, when there is digging, there are bugs.   The most delicate of all the first grade gardeners carted her treasure carefully, sharing it with anyone who wondered what she was carrying.
The bug was the same color as her bows.  
(don't scroll if you don't want to see the beast)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

They Need a New Pronoun

Taos Rainbow and I were discussing our upcoming girls' trip to San Francisco when the subject of the non-cisgendered first person singular came up.

They need a new pronoun, we declared at the same time, laughing at how decades apart haven't changed us at all.

We remember when Ms was invented, she went on. We agreed that whatever initial resistance might arise, a new pronoun would be less of an assault on the ears and the senses than the transformation of the third person plural to the other side of the grammatical chart.

It hurts my ears.

I'm willing to adjust to whatever might be chosen, although I fear it is already too late.

And so, I sigh and move on from this kerfuffle, which is a needed change of pace from the dismantling of our justice system (cf Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation).

I'm going to put out my flag and remember Abe Lincoln, whose birthday is today, and who understood that keeping his rivals within his Cabinet would make him a stronger, not smaller, leader.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Independent Gardeners

 Our old, patched together, still-leaky hose was a tangled mess until I set these two to its unwinding.
 The ground was covered with leaves and branches and random rocks until this crew got to work.
  With temperatures in the mid-40's, it took a leap of faith and the world's most plaintive Please!!  before I turned on the water.  But the new hose and nozzle were just soooooo attractive, and he promised that the plants and not his shoes would be his target, and because, because he's an experienced Garden Leader, nary a drop went astray. 
 Our thank-you-USDA/UA -for-your-grant wall is the result of my request for something wonderful
created on the outside of our garden wall.  These two assured me that they could be trusted out there, and I knew that they could.  

The whole morning, was like that - young humans going about their business, asking permission when necessary, making decisions on their own, competently spending my favorite day of the week is Wednesday because we have Garden Club together.  

It's a happy place.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Renovation AlertHotel Alert
A daily destination amenity fee of USD 32 will be added to the room rate.

I was proud of the discounted flight I found to take me to a Cornell alumni leadership conference in Las Vegas this month.  I opted not to choose a seat, not to bring anything that didn't fit in the space it would share with my toes, to board last, and not to ask for anything extra. 

It's a two day trip; I don't need a lot of clothes. I'm a small person; I don't need a lot of room. The flight is short.  I'll be fine.

I researched the least expensive way to book the hotel, combing through all the travel sites and the AAA and the hotel's direct website.  Cornell's group rate was the least expensive so I booked the room the way I could have done before an hour's stroll through the interwebs.

It wasn't going to cost me very much to figure out how to increase the membership of the Cornell Club of Southern Arizona, of which I am now the president. I was flying in for two specific presentations, for the opportunity to coordinate a strategy to save my college, for the chance to learn and, perhaps, make a difference.

I wasn't planning to participate in any amenities.....and is participate even the right word?

When I think of amenities I flash to the free toiletries in the room, perhaps a bathrobe in the closet, perhaps a bottle of water that is complimentary rather than showing up as a $5 charge on my bill at checkout.  I think of the decor and the ambiance.

I'm not bringing gym clothes (no room for them) or fancy partying clothes (no need for them) nor a swimming suit (no time for it).  I won't be gambling.  If they are considering the options available to me (that I won't be using) as amenities, then I think we have to have a conversation around a dictionary. agrees with me:  Amenities are the little things in life that make you comfortable — like more legroom on a flight or the chocolate on your hotel pillow.  Wikipedia, however, gave me the real story: In real estate and lodging, an amenity is something considered to benefit a property and thereby increase its value.

My trip is no longer quite as affordable.  I'll be paying for things I won't be using.  I'll be wondering why the daily destination amenity fee wasn't mentioned in the information promulgated by Cornell when they invited me to the conference. 

I hate it when a perfect plan develops an

Friday, February 7, 2020

Little Hands - A Snippet

They wrap scallions around kale around a bright yellow cauliflower, all grown and harvested in our gardens.
They examine the roots of a harvested-too-hard-and-it-all-came-out plant. 
And when their tiny fingers aren't quite strong enough, the tip of the plastic pink trowel helps to get down deep.
Their faces are wonderful.
Their fingers are magical.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Mayor Bloomberg's Bus Came To Town

And what a bus it was.
There was an entourage of half a dozen well dressed 30 and 40 somethings, along with a photographer, a videographer and their own audio visual accompaniments.
The fact that the former Mayor of Miami couldn't remember to repeat the questions for those in the back didn't dampen anyone's ardor too much. 
Maybe it was the free barbecue buffet - wings and brisket and salad and slaw and drinks for everyone in the room.... all 150 or so of us..

I'm still all in for Mayor Pete, but I've always liked Mike.
I think he's electable, even if he is late to the game.  He's not perfect, but no one is perfect perfect (nor do I want anything to be described as perfect ever again... and now my anti-Trump rant is done).   
And his wealth is impressive, when viewed up close in my little corner of the world.  
Beto showed up, but he didn't feed us, and we had to buy our own beers.
Today, there were yard signs and bumper stickers for the taking. 

It's shaping up to be an interesting race, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

SOTU - or not

I'm an involved citizen.

I ought to watch the State of the Union address.  A reporter from the AP once asked to sit next to me on my couch and watch one with me.

Tonight, I tried to listen as I drove home.  I lasted one very long block before I removed his presence from my automobile.  He was killing the lovely buzz I carried after visiting with old friends. 

TBG was apologizing before the door closed behind me; he tried but he just couldn't do it... I just couldn't listen to him.

For a while,  with the sound muted, I focused on Nancy Pelosi.  Her smirk may not have been quite proper behavior for a public official in a public space, but, in this alternate universe we're inhabiting it seemed just right.

Tomorrow those fools who applauded every. single. sentence. will deny their oaths to judge impartially.  Tonight, they looked like foxes in the hen house.

Disgusted, TBG and I gave up entirely.

I'm still a good citizen.... and I will vote on November 3.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Shingrix 2.0

I had an awful time with the first Shingrix vaccine; I was flat on my back for a day and a half.  I was not looking forward to receiving the second dose.  Knowing that I had a 6 month window made it somewhat less pressing than preparing for Thanksgiving and Chanukah and Christmas and New Years and TBG's birthday and my family visiting and school starting and so it went until Saturday.

TBG wanted to make no plans for watching the Super Bowl; he wanted to be alone on his couch with his son on the phone and me by his side.  I had nothing on my calendar for Saturday afternoon and my physical presence would be more important to TBG than any input I might provide. I was out of excuses; I had to get the shot.

I called the pharmacy, hoping that their cupboards were bare.  They said come right down, we'll have it ready when you arrive.

And they did.  And it hurt.

I drove right home, just in case.  I didn't have lunch, just in case.  I changed into comfy clothes, just in case.  I worried, just in case.

Reading didn't distract me.  I kept checking in to see what condition my condition was in, pausing after each pithy chapter of  Girl, Woman, Other to feel my forehead, to listen to my body, to refresh my stay-hydrated-water-bottle.

I tried to nap, but I was too anxious.  I got hungry, so I ate a sandwich.  My arm hurt, but the rest of me seemed just fine.  All through the night and the next day, I kept worrying and kept feeling healthy.  I went to Costco and we watched the game and I made brownies and I kept worrying.  Still feeling fine, I forgot to take analgesics before bedtime and my sore arm woke me up every time I rolled over. 

This morning, I left the house an hour earlier than I should have, fully convinced that I was late until a light bulb went on over my head.  I barely made it up the stairs to Pilates, struggled through, drove straight home, and crawled under the covers.  Everything hurt.

I slept for two hours undisturbed by TBG's comings and goings or the television or the ringing of the phone.  When I woke up, I felt fine. 

Was it my body's last attempt to reject the vaccine?  Was it a migraine without an aura?  Was it a seven hour flu?

It doesn't matter.  It's over. 

And I don't ever need to get another shot of shingrix again.

Monday, February 3, 2020

They're Here, Again

We all recognized it at the same time: there was a lot more traffic.

It happened all at once; a 15 minute trip suddenly took half again as much time.  Those of us who are never late were surprised to find our lunch companions even later than we were.  Normally, we'd be embarrassed; last week we just shook our head and murmured, They're back.

The weather is still dark and dreary up north, so our friends drive back or fly down or come for a week or so to an air b&b on this side of town and that makes us happy.  It's the presence of everyone else that annoys us. 

Restaurant patios are full of diners wearing jackets, sitting beneath heat lamps, but outside, looking at the sunshine through semi-transparent plastic curtains.  Inside, please, we live here and we're cold! is our going out to lunch mantra.... although out of town guests have been known to influence the outcome. 

There are lots of things going on this month - the Gem and Mineral Shows;  UofA basketball home games; the Rodeo; and a variety of political fundraisers for all the worthy causes.  Even this week's rainy prediction won't get in our way; we're going to see Little Women and the exhibit at the Center for Creative Photography and maybe Scarlet will join us, now that she's healthy.

I like it when two pieces of my life intersect, the past and the present doing something new together.  It's just too bad that it takes so long to get there these days.