Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Some Thoughts on Unions

I post about unions every Labor Day.  The first paragraph of the post sets the tone:
My Zaydeh was a paperhanger. So was his son, my uncle. They belonged to the Paperhanger's Union. When he retired, my Zaydeh got a lapel pin and a photograph of himself and the also-retiring Union Rep. The Union Rep got a pension and health insurance. No one knows if he got a copy of the photograph, too.
The New York Times ran a lengthy op ed last week, wondering Why Do We Pay So Many People So Little MoneyIt's a long piece, well referenced, from varying viewpoints. It made clear economic arguments which, to me, are often abstruse and obtuse and arcane.

It's worth reading, if only to see that no one thinks what is going on right now is sustainable for much longer.
Gig workers aren't employees so Uber doesn't pay into the tax system which supports the social safety net, putting the burden on those of us who do pay taxes.

Investors in Uber are happy, because the company is keeping costs down.  Consumers are happy because the company keeps its prices low.

Workers get the short end of the stick.
What happened to the union movement?  

A friend lost her job to a younger, pay-her-less, employee during a down-sizing, despite the fact that she had seniority.  Alas, the union rep told her, the City Manager has the ultimate say.  It's in the contract.

Workers Unite!!  You have nothing to lose but your chains!
It seems to me that the only unions still protecting their members are representing the police and professional athletes. 

Did you know (I didn't) that police don't have a Permanent Record?  Get fired for cause?  Just go across town and try again. No one will know about your past.  It's in the contract.

As for the NBA and the NFL and the MLB, it's the Rich vs the Richer, while the people manning the parking lots and the concession stands work for minimum wage with no benefits.  I don't see a lot of interest in unionization there.  I can see why.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Let Me Rant For Moment, Please

If you don't want to read it, I understand.  My feelings won't be hurt.  Not one little bit.  But this has been boiling up in my head all week long.  I look at it from different angles, trying to find a way out. I attempt to put myself in their shoes.... and I start to hyperventilate.


I'm in a dither over masks. 

Maybe it's the way I was raised.  G'ma lost one of the few friends she had when the woman absolutely refused to fasten her seatbelt.  G'ma's car didn't move until everyone was buckled up  That was the rule.  It was smart, it was the law, and She Said So.  There was no argument.  Her friend wouldn't get in the car if she had to wear a seat belt, and that was that.

To say that the incident made a lasting impression on me would be the understatement of the  pandemic.  You go to the wall for your principles.  There are consequences.  Deal with it.

That science would take a back seat to The American Way and Freedom and Choice (as long as we aren't talking about a uterus) is just amazing to me. 

I took pride in America, until Donald J Trump turned us into a third world country. 

I'm pissed at the Mayo Clinic for allowing Pence to walk around unmasked.  I dwell on the good that could have come from a respected institution making a statement and not letting him through the front door if his nose and mouth weren't covered.  But, they caved.  The swab factory threw out a batch of much needed swabs because they, too, cowered before the power that is Trump.

I understand that people don't wear helmets on motorcycles; we called them Organ Donors when I worked at the Rehab hospital.  But I never see anyone without a seat belt.

Masks.  It's so simple. 

New Zealand had a soccer match with 43,000 people in the stadium, unmasked, because they haven't had a new case in 3 weeks.

It was do-able.  We are The United States of America....... or we used to be.

Okay.  I'm done.

Thanks for listening. Feel free to rant in the comments..... know, in advance, that I agree.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Mama, Please.....

FlapJilly is quite proud of the fact that she conducts her entire Getting Ready for Bed Routine independently. Showering (a big step up from a bath), brushing her teeth, putting on lotion.... she's on top of the whole thing.

Mama has to set the water temperature, though, and that's where we went today on our daily FaceTime visit.  Giblet followed us, because he is obsessed with his sister.  While the women in his life worked on adjusting the flow, he climbed the step stool and demonstrated his dexterity with FlapJilly's electric toothbrush over the sink.

It was an adorable background to catching up with our little girl, who's a short order cook for three hungry family members, when she's not being a full-time professional at the University of Notre Dame, a housekeeper, a gardener, or an excellent parent.  

Giblet was wandering around the bathroom as Little Cuter sat on the floor in the hall outside the door and FlapJilly continued to wash every body part thoroughly.  This is not a speedy process.  There are a series of steps which must be followed.  

After a while, Giblet became restless.  His sister had been behind the shower curtain for a looooooong time.  He began to peek.  He was persistent.

And then came a wet face peeling back the curtain, and with it a plea from the big sister:  Mama, could you please keep Giblet entertained for a while?

And we laughed.  

Really, Mama, keep the toddler entertained so I can shower in peace.  

Thursday, June 25, 2020

To Olga, and JannyLou, and Allison - A Snippet

Thank you for your comments on yesterday's post.  Thank you for so many, many reasons.

It always amuses me when the trivial posts attract attention.  Little Cuter told me today that it doesn't always have to be profound, and that made me feel better.

But, more than that, it was your easy acceptance of the importance of the mundane.  Naming it, describing it, validating it - all that happens publicly, right here in The Burrow. 

I never want to let you down.  It's nice to be reminded that you enjoy the simple things, too.

And now, since nothing much has happened (beyond the further erosion of trust in our judicial system) since yesterday, I'm done.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Was You Ever Bit By a Dead Bee?

Walter Brennan asks that question in To Have and Have Not.  It's a window into the soul of the respondent. 

Yesterday, I sat on a (possibly dead) bee, and asked TBG the same question.

The bee was certainly dead by the time I smacked it into the pool and TBG skimmedit
Some minor surgery with a pointy tweezer removed the stinger.  There was no swelling nor lines of red poison flowing through my veins.  The nerve into which the bee inserted himself is sore, and announces itself with authority every time I change position. 

According to Dr. Google, this combination of symptoms is called a Large Localized Reaction.
It is now obvious to me that I really do miss my old life. 

My blog has turned into drivel, and for that, I apologize.

The fact is, sitting on a bee is the most interesting thing that's happened to me all week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A Smile for You

Let's see.....

  • The Trump campaign flubbed the rally.  Why they didn't just move the whole thing outdoors when the crowds didn't materialize is a mystery to be solved in Tell-All books.  Seeing a defeated man shlumping off Marine 1 last night gave me some measure of hope for America.
  • The Attorney General of the United States of America has decided that he is the Attorney General for the President of the United States.  I found myself hoping that the copy machines at SDNY are working overtime, placing the documents the Criminals In Chief want to suppress in as many hands as they can.
  • Professional sports are grappling with the same issues as public schools - everybody wants us, nobody can tell us how to do it safely.  Will we open?  Sure....... without fans, for sports, okay..... but schools without students just doesn't seem like school.
  • Governor Ducey finally allowed local municipalities to decide their own fate; Tucson and Pima County are now requiring masks when you're outside your house and near anyone else.  The people who answer the phones are getting slammed by people who think that their liberties are being infringed upon.  
I can't do anything about POTUS or the AG or the DOJ's SDNY or MLB or the NBA but I was able to call the Mayor and the County Supervisor and thank them for their actions to keep me safe.  

For you, dear denizens, who are dealing with the same stressors, I offer this:

Apparently, FlapJilly, granddaughter extra-ordinaire, all almost 6 years old, has decided that she does all the jobs in the world.  Today, her favorite job was helping Dada in the garage.  My favorite job title is one I saw on an advertisement today - Paid Testamonialist.

In my next life, that's what I want to be.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Happy Birthday, Brother Dear

He's younger than I am.... a fact he delights in sharing.  

He stopped shaving for a while, and sported a full beard.  Not many men look better with a lot of facial hair; my brother is one who does.  He didn't scratch it or pull at it or play with it.  It sat there, on his face, making him look distinguished and delightful. His wife's not crazy about it, so it comes and goes; quarantine has seen its triumphant return (on Zoom).

He's all about balance - work, family, friends, exercise, religion, sex, learning, and adventures all have a place in his life. 

He wears sneakers everywhere; they are comfortable and why not?

He drives a Chevy and a pickup truck and a Miata, a recent addition that makes him very very very happy.  He carries a collapsible bike in his car, and cycles near and far.  He doesn't believe that large metal tubes should fly through the air; his car takes him where he wants to go when he wants to go there.  He's driven back and forth to Chicago more times than I can count; he always tries to stop at Little Cuter's house on the way. 

"I love Uncle Jeff!"  she says.

He spent three hours in a toy store searching for exactly the right gift for FlapJilly.  He donned a headlamp and crawled under the kids' deck to help repair the solar lights on the pergola.  He bought a much-too-heavy-to-lift-without-help power tool in a garage sale in Indiana or Ohio or someplace off a highway on his way hither or yon, and dropped it off with SIR who he knew would love it. 

He and SIR have bonded over home repairs and parenting daughters and loving their wives.  SIR sent him to a White Sox game with corporate tickets for the area behind home plate; Brother's still kvelling and telling the story to anyone who will listen.  The love goes both ways.

FlapJilly was delighted that he showed up for her birthday party last year.  The fact that he put on a magic show was beyond her wildest dreams.  Uncle Jeff is the MOST FUN! 

And today is his birthday.  I'll call and sing and send him a card and I'll remember to tell him that he is special to me in a way that no one else can claim.  He's known me and liked me for all of our lives. We've laughed and cried and celebrated and mourned and vacationed.  He's sent letters I'll save forever. 

He's the best little brother I've ever had.  Today is his day.  Lift a glass and send him some love.

Friday, June 19, 2020

We're Fine

As the national news catches up to the fact that there are people who don't live on either coast, the Bighorn Fire has attracted a lot of attention from people who love me. 

Things are replaceable.  You two are not! 

I smiled about Little Cuter's text for quite a while. 

Brother wrote and called and we chatted up a storm, which was quite an accomplishment given that neither of us has done very much since March. 

Big Cuter was part of a larger parade of You guys are okay, right? calls and emails and texts, all devolving into the minutiae of our daily lives.

It was an oddly normal set of interactions in this weirdness. 

In case you, too, were wondering, this is what it looked like at sunset on Wednesday.
No filter.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

And In Today's News

Aunt Jemima is going away.

A 26 year old with a gun and a taser and a partner and a badge kicked a dying man after shooting him in the back.

John Bolton saved the evidence he should have given during the impeachment hearings for a book he's leaking today. 

A friend has Valley Fever, not Covid.... and somehow pneumonia and a hard to treat fungal infection feels like good news.

Trump fans are lining up now before going inside tomorrow night to a masks-optional scream-a-thon.

Johnny Weissmuller is swinging on vines with Jane, as TBG wonders how Tarzan manages to stay clean shaven. 

I'm going to turn on the grill and ponder that last one for a while.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What We Want

Today, our President told us that we don’t know what we want.

I almost knew what he meant (which is in itself cause for concern).  It’s a lot like how I used to describe what a social worker did.

We stand on the outside of the doors with our hands pressed firmly, holding them shut.  Behind those doors are your nightmares, your disturbances, your issues.  We do our best to shield you. You really don’t want to see what would happen if we stepped away.  You want us there.

And that was supposed to be happening now.  Crisis Teams, willing to go into volatile situations with their wits and their hearts, leading with compassion instead of weaponry.  It sounded just like the job for me - in the middle of things, in the moment, present at the event itself.  The long term solutions could be left to those more inclined in that direction; I was more of an Emergency Room medic than a rehabilitation specialist.

Well, that was how I envisioned my future.  Unfortunately, the funding never materialized.  All those hands holding back the thundering hordes were whisked away.  And now we have police resolving mental health issues, resolving them with loaded revolvers on their hips.

Yes, sir, we do want law and order.  But I want to put the emphasis on the order piece, the structure within which we approach these issues.  That's a social work point of view, seeing the client in the context of his system, making the kinds of changes with and for the individual, within and without, in the psyche and in the world around them.

Yes, it was a lovely dream.  It's nice to see it creeping out around the edges of the Defund The Police debacle.  

I get it - if it bleeds, it leads.  Defund the Police will get the trolls a roiling, the message boards screaming, the letters to the editor pouring in.  That's good for business.  

Refund social services.  Recommit to peace.  Rethink our approach to everything.  We're supposed to be sheltering in place, anyway.  We might as well make good use of our time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

It's My Job, 45 Years Too Late

I took every course on Adolescent Development that Cornell's College of Human Ecology had to offer.  Juvenile justice, adult probation, mentoring a high schooler - I was preparing for a career touching the edges of policing, but defined from a social welfare perspective

Deinstitutionalization was the order of the day.  Community Mental Health Centers, with robust outreach efforts, would provide services to those in need, monitoring successes and trying to head off disasters.  Young offenders would be engaged in community based job training and education and service programs, funded by the generosity of the federal government. 

By the time I went on to graduate school, that generosity was no where to be found.  Those CMHC's never materialized.  Those people who had been, and would have been, housed in mental health facilities were now roaming the streets.  Their behaviors were still cause for concern.... and there was no one to answer to call except the police.

Defund the police is such a bad slogan.  I prefer Refund Social Services. 

I've always said that I was born at the right time.  We didn't talk about sex and disease in the same breath.  Our music was (and still is) the best of any generation. But the promise of an open society, constructed to care for the least as well as the most among us, to approach problems from a position of kindness and hope rather than punishment and fear, the reason I did all the reading in all those classes, that never materialized.

Perhaps there is hope.  I'd like to feel regret that I'm missing this opportunity.  I haven't missed my social work license in a long, long time. 

Hope.  That's a feeling I haven't noticed for a while.  I'm going to noodle around with it for a while.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Wait For It - A FlapJilly Snippet

And while Mama was working, I was sitting below her doing my work in a workbook.

What kind of workbook?  Letters or numbers?

Numbers, of course.  It was numbers.  It was Addition and.................. and ............ and........ .................and.......

(insert sigh, giant hair shake, and shoulder shrug before she looks back at the camera and says, emphatically

..... and Not Addition.

Oh. Subtraction?

That's it!  But Not Addition is the opposite so.............

and we moved on to another topic while Grampa and Gramma smiled at this glimpse into the brain of an almost-6-year-old human.

(P.S. Her teacher sometimes says "take away" just like Grampa.)

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Bighorn Fire

No, we have not had to evacuate.

Driving east after picking up my prescription at the drive-through window today, the white cloud of smoke was appreciably larger than it had been yesterday.  The air is misty even here, about 4 miles from the edge of the evacuation area.  

I received an email from an evacuee, asking for help since her files are at home.  

Those who are fleeing live on the foothills of mountain that is afire.  Foothills are rolling mounds, created by the accumulation of detritus that eroded down the face and piled up at the base.  There are lots lovely homes occupied by many people I know; the Happy Ladies Club is reaching out to see what we can do.

Covid-19 makes relocating a nightmare.  Triple digit temperatures add an extra layer of awful to packing up and getting out.  The Sheriff's Department went door to door, making sure every resident knew that they were at GO! 

I guess Trump and plague weren't enough.  We're being tested to see how resilient we are, as a County, as a Country, as individuals and as bubbles.  

I love that concept - creating a bubble of people with whom you can share space.  A clear, bouncy, protective shield, held together by the thinnest of threads but, somehow, those threads are enough.  

Right now, enough feels pretty good.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Proud of My Town

Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan.   There are programs and global actions (and a gift shop, of course) and there's Campaign Zero.  

Somewhat less controversial than defund the police (which should really be called reallocate resources), these eight steps to reform policing have been proposed nationwide.

As of Wednesday afternoon,  two cities in the United States have adopted them.

San Francisco is one of them, probably to no one's surprise.

Tucson, Arizona is the other.

I have never been as happy to call it home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020


The weather was perfect here in Tucson, breezy, sunny, mid-80's, not a cloud in the sky.

I had access to all the exercise I needed,  on my own schedule.

I had choices in the fridge for lunch, and I prepped most of tonght's dinner yesterday.

FlapJilly received the letter Grampa and I sent, and we opened it together, on FaceTime, as Giblet put items into and out of a plastic container on the floor behind her.


Georgians are waiting hours to vote.

A friend has a fever and body aches and has to wait days for the results of the Covid test because no one in Tucson seemed to have the results-in-15-minutes kind.

Our President has a new network, OANN, to which I am not linking, nor am I repeating his tweet justifying a grown man pushing an old man to the ground.

George Floyd went to rest in a white, horse drawn carriage.
And.....  when I looked for an image to upload, I had choices from the Hindustan Times and Voice of America and South Africa, where en24News ran the photo I chose. 

I am so ready for tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Time Passes, Part 2

Though the studio is open in a thoughtful way, I won't be taking Pilates in public for a while.  I just don't feel safe spending a prolonged period of time indoors, one on one, face to face with my instructor.

But, I love Pilates and I can't be without it, not if I want to keep walking in something approaching a normal gait, that is.  Classes are offered on-line, and that's been working fairly well for me, but they are scheduled to end this month. 

I signed up for the alternative - a monthly fee to access 72 (and counting) classes anytime I want. The process was simple, the email explaining it was simple, and I was all ready to jump in and start sweating to my laptop when a random sentence caught my eye.

I could watch it on my tv.  The email said it was simple.  Vimeo had videos to guide me through it. I clicked through to them, scrolled down to watch on your tv, and saw the time stamp on the video - 6 yrs.

People have known about this for six years.  I didn't even know there was such a thing as Vimeo until the email arrived. 

I am so behind. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Time Passes

I wrote graduation cards to TBG's cousin's kids.  I met his cousin when she was 6 or 7 years old; we sat on the floor in the corner of her aunt's living room, playing gin (she won.... she always won) as she identified the newest arrivals.

Uncle Bill.  Uncle Bill.  Uncle Chuck.  Cousin Bill.  Cousin Chuck.  Uncle Bill. Billy.  Bill.  

I kid you not.  They were all at least 6' tall, and except for her father, they were all Bill or Chuck.  It should have made it easier.  It didn't.

But, I digress.

I have vivid memories of her childhood, but I've never met her children.  Congratulating a high school senior isn't hard to do, but I wanted to have something personal to say. 

Google Photos shows me pictures from years gone by.  Today I saw FlapJilly in a sunhat, munching on her toes in 2015
which, except for the sparkly eyes, looks nothing like this taken Thursday,
where she's celebrating her kindergarten graduation, wearing her reading medal and a mortar board.

I look in the mirror and am surprised by my face.  I don't mind it.  It's just not what I'm expecting.  Am I the only one who long ago stopped aging the self-portrait I carry around inside myself ?

I like growing older.  I'm relishing my status as Crone.  I just don't know why my outsides can't keep up with my insides..... where I'm still 25, with my whole life ahead of me, my hair more black than grey. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Is Anybody Paying Attention?

(To the 16 people who read this when it was poorly formatted, please try again!)

I clicked through from the morning newsletter to read this: Stacey Abrams: I Know Voting Feels Inadequate Right Now because I never think that voting feels inadequate.

When I got there, this is what the page looked like:

Stacey Abrams: I Know Voting Feels Inadequate Right Now

And I wondered if anyone paid attention... as I was mildly thinking about Stacey Abrams's breasts....and then I got mad.

I'm trying to assume that ad placement has more to do with size than the article it accompanies.

I'm having a hard time hanging on to that fantasy. I wondered if the same person would have put one of those delightful Duluth Underwear commercials atop Tom Cotton's anti-American screed.

And wondering what Tom Cotton has filling those Buck Naked Briefs might have distracted me from his words.... before I was forced to leave this page and cram my brain with something .... anything... because just put Tom Cotton in place of this guy and see if you can get it out of your head afterwards:

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Going Out Into The World

Amster made a good point a week or so ago - eventually eveyone will have to leave home.  Eventually, we all will have to engage with the world.  Her clients can't wait two years before a jury can be empanelled.  The world cannot be put on hold.

But how and why and when and what constitutes a good reason - all that remains in flux.  Newsweek called out the CDC for failing when it was needed most.  Statistics are being compiled in a haphazard way, often conflating the results of PCR and antibody tests, using hospital data on morbidity to describe a more nuanced reality,  Dr. Fauci hasn't been heard from since last month.  The Bay Area is opening up slowly; Arizonans can get their hair cut anytime they can get an appointment.

Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but right now this little mind would like some clarity.

I'm dwelling on this because I have a situation.  The owner of the land across the street from us is going before the County Board of Supervisors in July, looking for a rezoning.  He wants to build 55 homes on property which now has 1 house.  Tonight, the neighbors are gathering for a strategy session. 

I wondered if we'd all be wearing masks, sitting 6' apart, outside.... I hit Reply All and waited.

It took less than a minute before the host agreed that it was all possible, if we brought our own chairs.  He's selling his house, and has disposed of most of his furniture. 

I laughed to myself, remembering a time when not having enough chairs was the biggest problem a host might encounter. 

I'm counting on my neighbors to adhere to the Pandemic Politeness Protocol.  If not, I'll be home before my seat belt has time to retract.  I haven't stayed safe for all these months to put myself at risk now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


Little Cuter created a Kindness of Calendar for her graduating kindergartner.

Every day has a different activity, starting with June 1st:  Volunteer to do the dishes after a meal.

FlapJilly was faced with the detritus of baking and snacking and dinner.  She was unfazed.
It was a problem to be solved, an organizational dilemma that was right up her alley.  That which did not go into the machine was washed by competent hands in the sink.  
And Mama didn't have to do anything at all.

It's been a tough week for the grown-ups; kindness certainly helped.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


I was in need of solace today.  My President decided to comfort me by manhandling a Bible in front of a church; he moved 10,000 peaceful protesters seeking redress of their grievances to do so.  I'm sure some people are impressed by this.  I am not.

I didn't want to hear about federal troops securing the populace (read: property).  I wanted hope and guidance and love and reassurance that, somehow, we will figure this out together.  I didn't need someone with the answers.  I needed someone willing to engage the conversation, with an open heart and a hug whenever necessary.

I needed my Mommy.  

I didn't want a picture.  I wanted to spend time with her.  I took out her recipe for Stuffed Cabbage (Holishkes) and started to smile before the index cards were settled on the counter.
She kept her recipes in a metal card box, with alphabetical separators and smudges of meals gone by.  If you look closely, you can see her smiling as she notices the tomato stains on the ones she wrote for me, many decades ago. And if you read them, you can hear her, too.  

Only an educated woman could combine squish and mush and come up with squoosh 
which is exactly the sound the mixture makes as it squooshes through your fingers. 
G'ma and I had a good laugh about that.

I blanched cabbage and squooshed the filling and rolled it all up into neat little packets.  They were cooking and now they're simmering and soon they'll be browning. 

Can you smell them? 

G'ma is all around me, embedded in every breath I take, helping me get through a difficult day.  I'm going to follow her advice (see below)  
and hope tomorrow is a better day.

Monday, June 1, 2020

No Words

I have all these thoughts. My head tends to explode as I follow them. I keep trying, but I have no way to make sense....

If part of being an ally is opening myself to the anguish......

FlapJilly loves her Facebook Messenger app because she and I can chat.... if Mama gives her the phone....on which she saw something that led them to a conversation about skin color and how some people think it makes a difference and the importance of standing up when people are mean because of skin color and my favorite little girl's face appeared over her mother's shoulder, nodding her agreement with a fierce and determined and certain mien as my daughter and I tried not to cry........
Ben's Bells organized a clean-up in Downtown Tucson on Saturday morning, after protest turned to destruction on Friday night, and the only thing more absurd than the oxymoron of Downtown Tucson is breaking the windows of the local businesses who support it .... and then I go off the deep end (Are there outside agitators in Tucson?)..... 

Not only do I have no words, I have no conclusions trying to be put into words..

I do know this.  In my darkest days, after I watched Gabby Giffords's head blow apart, senselessly, suddenly, 10' away from me...... I often found  myself sitting at a table in a corner of the Ben's Bells studio, painting coins 
for bells, 
as I wept, acknowledged but unmolested, doing good when I could think of nothing else to do.  
Beautiful Annie gifted me this one in the hospital while they buried my little friend.

It hangs beside the fireplace in our living room; I notice it every single day.  It speaks to me and smiles at me and today, perhaps it's giving me some guidance.....

I feel better having written this.  Thanks for helping me organize a thought.  


It's not a bad place to start, I guess, but........