Monday, August 31, 2020

Running Around Town

I was bored on Saturday afternoon.

I'd finished my book, my hands were achy from too much crocheting, and dinner wasn't going to take much work.  The clouds were gathering, so swimming was not an option.  I'd already done one Pilates video.  I had no interest in cleaning.

So, I baked brownies.  Lots of brownies.

TBG did some damage to the first pan, but I woke up on Sunday morning to more brownies than one man should eat.  Sorrowfully, he agreed with my assessment.  I bagged them up and took to the streets.

I left some in Amster's mailbox for her boys.  I left some with Scarlett for her neighbor whose dog died this week.  I hung out with Dr. K and Not-Kathy on their front porch, admiring their succulents and bemoaning the fate of the fig tree, before leaving them with some treats and driving on.

I was going to make another stop, but there was a line of people out the door so I called ahead for fried chicken from Lucky Wishbone and meandered over to pick it up.

I came home with a big smile on my face.  There was such a sense of freedom, of normalcy (normality? one of them got Hoover into trouble, and I don't remember which one is right).  I listened to the radio.  I drove on formerly familiar streets.  I noticed local restaurants replaced by national chains, and the shadows of signs where small stores once thrived.  

It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon in the summertime, with clouds gathering and the streets mostly empty.  It made me so very happy

Friday, August 28, 2020

The headline in the WaPo made me smile: Cornell students petition to have freshman TikTok star expelled for flouting coronavirus rules.

I've been leary about Cornell's plan to reopen, worrying about the 4 Tucson kids who planned to start as freshmen this month.  But the University stuck to its guns; they'd done modeling and determined that the risk was smaller if they opened.  

Why? Most students and faculty and staff would be in Ithaca anyway.  Leases are signed a year in advance and cannot easily be broken; students would return to their apartments however the teaching experience was received.  By formally opening, Cornell could require students to sign a behavioral contract in order to participate in the semester ahead.  

Masks, social distancing, participation in surveillance testing (free and twice a week at a convenient location near you), small gatherings allowed with masks and spacing - nothing unusual, just our new normal if people would get with the program. And if you want to go to Cornell this semester, you get with the program.  

No one in the wider world believed that students would be capable of being well behaved.  No one thought that college students could keep their hands and their mouths and their bodies to themselves.  No one thought they were mature enough, would care enough, were responsible enough to comply.

And I was right there, agreeing with all of that.  And then there was that headline, and I was abashed.

A freshman with 500,000 TikTok followers posted pictures of herself squished together with other maskless idiots at a party. Once word got out, a petition to have her removed from campus garnered 2000 signatures before the ink was dry.

Jessica Zhang has shown that she .... wants to put other citizens at risk for the sake of her own entertainment.   
Some students don't have the luxury of going home to a quiet and healthy environment to focus on academics.  
Do not ruin it for everyone else. 

The University received the petition, saw the TikTok schtick, and says it is taking action. 

They've only been on campus for a week or so, and look at what they've done.  They've come together to right a wrong, to expose and condemn the misbehavior, and to offer a preferred solution.  The petition ends this way, reminding us that they are, still, kids:

And if you're more mad about people exposing others for violating guidelines and putting everyone's health at risk, then you're part of the problem.

The penalties for violating the Cornell Student Behavioral Compact are of escalating severity, including expulsion with no refunds.  The petitioners want Jessica's acceptance revoked; that wasn't listed as a possible outcome in the Compact. 

To prove that the University is taking this seriously, the Compact includes this warning:

I acknowledge and agree that there is no appeal of the decisions and directives of the CCCT, as these determinations will be made on an urgent basis to protect the health and safety of the community as a whole.

 And this even more dire warning:

The decisions and directives of the CCCT will not be reported by Cornell as disciplinary records or actions. However, I acknowledge and agree that the university may disclose violations of the Compact to my parents .....

Oh no.  They're going to tell my mom.

Kids like rules.  That was my basic parenting mantra.  It worked then and it works now; FlapJilly and Giblet have a lot of freedom because there are rules in place to keep them safe.  The Class of 2024 came to campus after agreeing to abide by those same kinds of rules, and they are taking the appropriate steps to bring their wayward colleague into line.  

I really hope this works.  Transparency will help; there are daily metrics posted on the Covid-19 Tracking Dashboard.  There seems to be buy in from the students.  

This is one time when I'd like to be proven wrong.  Another weekend is coming up..... I'll be watching the numbers.

Thursday, August 27, 2020


Words are not enough.  

Joe Biden is right - we are in a fight for the soul of our country.  And that soul looks better from one side of the racial divide than the other, as has been patently obvious over the course of the pandemic.

I want to know how to fix it, because that's what I do when there's a problem in my space.  

The NBA players refused to come out on the court, at least for tonight.  I wish I could refuse to come out of my house until there is change..... but would anyone notice.... and isn't that what I've been doing for the last 24 weeks, anyway?

There's nothing I can think about that doesn't bleed into knowing that this has been going on for 400 years, that only because there are cell phones can we see in stark detail what families of color have known for centuries.

This is just not right.  

It is the America in which we live.

It is not the America I want it to be.

I'm not coming out until I have some kind of plan.

What will he tell his son about us collectively and individually?  

I really need a plan.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

There it is.  I watched it and stood up straighter.  I watched it and felt empowered.  I watched it and realized how far we've come and how far we have to go.  

Look at her walk across the set.  Look at her blow that horn.  I sat in her kitchen years ago, applauding with others as a few notes and then a few more emerged.  America really is beautiful; just listen to her and try to disagree.

All of Tucson was united for those weeks and months and now, if you ask someone if they were in town when Gabby was shot, they'll tell you why they were on their way to that corner but something came up.  It's our town's where were you when moment.  

Martha McSally is running ads caling Mark Kelly a millionaire who scammed the taxpayers.  I call him a man who loves and admires his wife.  She's well worth the adoration and the respect.  She inspires me, each and every day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The RNC and BIrthdays

I tried to watch it, knowing full well I'd last only minutes at a time. We'd find ourselves screaming at the screen after 30 or 40 seconds before TBG hit last on the remote and took us to large men throwing a small ball through a hoop. 

At commercials, we'd click back over to see how the Republicans were doing.  Nikki Haley being a brown girl in a black and white world confused us.  Tim Scott trying to be rational amused us.  There were freed hostages looking like they hadn't changed clothes since they got off the plane, there were indicted gun toting rich people, and there was Don, Jr with his perfectly coiffed beard, showing just enough grey to add gravitas to his screeching.  

He looked at the camera as if it were dinner.  He scared theshit out of me.

I put off writing this post, because I wanted to celebrate two birthdays.  But every time I tried to put thoughts together, I got swept up into the trampling of norms, once again.  I mourned the loss of Jackie O's Rose Garden trees before I knew that Melania was going to speak there, using only campaign staff, I'm sure, to set up and clean up and run the event.  

The Hatch Act doesn't have much in the way of penalties going for it, but the idea is a nice one, don't you think?

I spent some time stewing over that while considering the fact that an alarming number of Americans think 180,000 dead fellow citizens is an acceptable number.  I tried to figure out how the emergency use blather about plasma as a therapeutic is any different than what has been going on since the start of the Pandemic.  

And in the midst of it all were the clips of Jacob Blake getting into his car .... getting shot as he was getting into his car.... all 110 pounds soaking wet of him followed by a gun wielding police officer who decided it was a good idea to shoot into his back .... with kids in the car.... and I cried.

We ended up watching George Raft movies until late.  Then the smoke detector in the bedroom decided to scream FIRE! FIRE! CARBON MONOXIDE! FIRE! while bleeping that high pitched you will not sleep through this tone.  It took TBG 5 times up the ladder before Dr. Google suggested a fix that worked.  

Why don't these beeps happen at 2 in the afternoon?  Are they deviously programmed to annoy at night?  I spent many minutes thanking TBG for being tall enough to reach the ceiling from the top of the ladder; he spent those minutes reassuring himself that his knee had, in fact, held him up the whole time.  It was an interesting confluence of emotions - anniversary love and beeping hell and Republicans and bad cops all roiling around in my head.

It was then, crawling into bed for the 3rd or 4th or 7th time, that I remembered the posts I was going to write.  For the 17 of you who read my short apology, thanks for coming back to see this.  I am sorry.  Life got in my way.

Monday, August 24, 2020


That's the number of years TBG and I have been married.

I'm typing this on Sunday night, and it was a Sunday night when we drove away from G'ma and Daddooooo's house, with cans tied to the back bumper and Just Married written on the windows.  

We were starving.  There was lots of food at the wedding, but we were too busy dancing and talking and hugging to eat.  Sister, my attendant, had been charged with keeping me fed.  Unfortunately for both of us, the whiskey sours caught up with her before dinner was served; neither of us ate at all.  By the time we untied the noisemakers we hit upon a plan - dinner before anything else.

We drove to Motel on the Mountain, a lovely-from-afar resort up on a mountain which I passed and lusted for every summer as Daddooooo drove us to Lake George for vacation.  We should have done our research.  Two weeks after we checked out the place closed for a total renovation.  The arachnid in the shower added to the ambience.  

The restaurant, however, was fantastic, as was the view from our table.  We toasted my parents who had paid for a meal we hadn't eaten.  We toasted our future.  We battled the spider and added up the gifts, somewhat embarrassed to be the recipients, recognizing this as somewhat weird, and smiling at the fact that we could admit it out loud.  

It's been that way for 45 years.  There aren't many filters, and that's just fine. One of us saying We shouldn't talk about this right now has saved us over the years.  Recognizing that marriage is hard work has made the bumps easier to navigate.  

Over time, the marriage has taken on a life of its own;  I often feel as if there are three of us in the house.  Sometimes it gets crowded in here, especially as we enter month six of Pandemic '01.  Most of the time, though,  the marriage is a comfy couch, with butt impressions that welcome us, support us, know us, and make allowances for our foibles, be they spills or spats.

Happy Anniversary, Big Guy.  

P.S. This is your card.

Friday, August 21, 2020


I heard Michelle.  I heard Kristen.  I heard Khizr Khan.

I watched the best roll call ever, crying with Matthew Shepard's parents, enjoying the flowered shirts and the little kids standing stock still with signs (except the girl in the pink, who ran away as soon as she could).  I want some Rhode Island calamari.

As Big Cuter put it, every time I hear Barack Obama speak it's like a present.  On Wednesday night, he warned America of what is to come if we don't get off the couch and vote.  Nicolle and Joy and Rachel were giggling like sorority sisters as they manned (womanned?) MSNBC's analysis desk; I loved it when they cut away from the Convention for a moment to share the laughs.

I sat mesmerized as Nicolle Wallace laid out the background behind a former POTUS stepping up and slamming a current POTUS.  She was in the room.  She knows whereof she speaks; her remarks are terrifying and should be required listening for everyone who still thinks that DJT is qualified to hold office.... any office.... anywhere.

And then there was Gabby.

It's 4 months shy of a decade since she was able to put together a sentence without effort.  4 months shy of a decade of daily therapy.  4 months shy of joining us together in pain and recovery and inspiration.... because that is what the last 10 years have been like.  

I wish I could find a clip of the full video that preceded her speech.  She plays the Star Spangled on her french horn.  That takes a lot of breath, a lot of control, a lot of remembering.  She sits with her therapist, practising her speech.  Then she walks, without a cane, without much of a limp, from one side of the staged set to the podium.  Every single moment was inspirational; I've watched her struggle with each and every part of what went into those feats... and yes, feats they are.  I was drenched in tears before she opened her mouth.  Here's what she had to say

Courage.  Determination.  Getting up every day to do what needs to be done.  Once again, Gabby Giffords inspired me, as I hope she inspired those who might be considering sitting this one out.  

She is my hero.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

I Have Hair

That's my plaintive description of myself every morning, as I stumble out of bed and into the living room, unable to see in front of my face.

I haven't had a haircut since February 11th, exactly one month before TBG and I began to shelter in place. I had an appointment the week afterwards; I opted to cancel it, and rescheduled to June.  After all, once this was over, everyone would be rushing to get in.  It was the smart thing to do.

You can guess how prescient we were.  That June appointment came and went.  I can't remember if it fell during one of the It's-okay-we -can-party-now reopenings they've declared here - TBG and I don't go anywhere we can avoid, and the salon is one of those places.

He could cut my hair if I wanted it shorter, having been my coiffeur for several decades.  But once I ordered clips and elastics along with the groceries I was able to keep it out of my eyes and off my neck. I have hair that annoys me, and I haven't said that in decades.

I have a pony tail for the first time since graduate school.  In a week or two I won't even need a clip to hold in the escapees.  Swimming was a challenge until enough of them were long enough to stay back.  I'd lift my head out of the water and see nothing through my goggles but hair.  I'd swim a lap and feel tickles at the nape of my neck.  I have hair now.

One small dollop of shampoo was all I ever needed; now I'm conditioning my locks and going through bottles of product with alarming frequency.  I'm combing and spraying and decorating my head with two pony tails, with clips holding the top back, with clips pinning the sides away from my ears - activities I haven't enjoyed since my 20's, when my hair reached to my waist.

In the '60's and '70's it was great hair, except that TBG is the only man I've ever met who doesn't like long hair, so the summer between social work school quarters I chopped it all off.  I could turn my head on the pillow without thwacking him in the face.  I wasn't vacuuming up long strands from the shag carpet.  I gave away my bonnet hair dryer and my sit underneath one too.  I was free, and I stayed that way until freedom went away and we were stuck inside.

What started out as a let's see where it goes experiment has morphed into Scarlett wondering what I'd done to make my hair look so good this morning.  The answer is embarrassingly straightforward - I took it out of the pony tail holder.  I didn't comb it or shake it or ruffle it with my fingers.  I just took the elastic off and opened our on-line mahjong game.  I wasn't looking for a compliment; my scalp was looking for a reprieve. 

Both Allison and dkzody commented on my lengthy tresses on Monday's post.  No one comments on my hair.  Or no one used to comment on my hair.

Pandemic '01 has been full of surprises, not the least of which is that I have hair. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

First Grade

She's wearing her black and grey dress, the one she's worn to her last 3 birthday parties, the one that twirls fabulously, the one that still fits her and makes her smile after all these years.  The choice was a no-brainer.

She knows that her best friend from kindergarten will be in her class this year, too, as will another one of the girls in their crowd.  Her teacher's name is Miss Happy.

On Tuesday, she went to her school and to pick up her packet.  She'll got her own Chromebook, because today she'll meet her classmates at an 8am meeting on a screen at her own workstation in her own home, as her parents work on their own computers at their own workstations.  

There's a full day's worth of activities planned, according to one of the many emails from the District.  There will be synchronous and non-synchronous learning.  There will be a parent available when the technology gets in the way of the learning.

It's not taking the bus with the boys down the street.  It's not playing on the playground or eating cafeteria food.  But it's First Grade in the 21st Century, and she's embracing it with all her might.

Congratulations on making it to The Grades, FlapJilly.  I know you'll crush it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Happy Birthday, Auntie M

You can play anything with strings.  Your brother says it with certainty and I have no reason to doubt him. You are the only person I ever knew who had a harp in her living room.

You taught the most challenging students, and they learned.  American history is living and breathing through your photographs.  Lighthouses and formal gardens and more give us glimpses into the past you've discovered and shared.  

You saw a need and created a Gifted and Talented program for the state of Maryland, even though your own gifted and talented child had graduated before you saw your work come to fruition.  

You are the keeper of the family history, the one who chases down documents and photographs and hands down bracelets and stories from generations past.  

You are a mom and a wife and a friend and an aunt and the best sister-in-law a girl could imagine.  You listen.  When you speak, you have something to say.  You are kind and generous and never miss an opportunity to send a card....... which reminds me to use quarantine as an excuse when I call to sing Happy Birthday.... although you are probably reading this on the East Coast well before I'm awake here in the desert..... so


Monday, August 17, 2020

FaceTime with FlapJilly

FlapJilly and her family have agreed to share their emotions and to ask for what they need during this Weird Time.  So, when the soon-to-be-1st-grader stated that she wasn't ready to end our daily call, it was Gramma to the rescue.  TBG went off to make a pizza, SIR was attending to Giblet, and Little Cuter had a brief moment to tend only to herself... and the house... and .. .. and.....

These young parents working from home are my heroes.  

So, after several abortive attempts to connect, we were finally on together, with our Effects keeping us amused.   My face mask includes cucumber slices; I just missed capturing it the picture.
My little marsupial hops across the screen, with FlapJilly's sweet voice singing a hopping song.
I'm not thrilled with the ones that cover her face entirely; I decided to retreat to space with E.T. while she flapped her owl wings.
Giblet got into the act when his big sister offered him the phone.  He's big for his age, but not THIS BIG!
As usual, TBG and I had not yet had lunch when the kids called.  With popcorn streaming in front of her face, FlapJilly ate her tuna while Gramma , you little devil, scooped up some yogurt.
I spared you the photo of the chihuahua vomiting dog bones.  The kid loves it; I merely pretend to be amused.
That's a pretty vicious tiger, with sharp claws that tried to injure me through the ether.  Once again, I escaped to space.
She went quickly from predator to prey, offering me her entire head to eat as much as I wanted.
Again, the kids was fascinated with seeing herself as a pixilated bomb.  I retaliated with a purple moustache and an extra 100 pounds.
We ended with Yak to School, her current favorite avatar.
School starts on Wednesday.  I'll have a lot to say about that. For now, until schools starts, she is loafing on the couch, soaking up the last free days of summer.  It was her Mommy' idea.  

Friday, August 14, 2020

Penzey's Spices

I'm out of Quebec Beef Spice.  The Fox Point vanished months ago.  People seem to need brownies and cookies in these troublous times; I just opened the last bottle of Madagascar Vanilla, bought on sale before the prices tripled.  It is time to order from Penzeys.

Do you know about Bill Penzey?  A Wisconsin boy, he gre up in the spice trade and followed his family's footsteps.  He writes lengthy posts on Facebook, decrying the state of our country, urging us to come together, reminding us that cooking is love.

I never really got that cooking=love thing.  G'ma was many things, but a good cook was not one of them.. Food was sustenance; I rarely took delight in putting what she made into my mouth.  There were, of course, certain things that I loved; the crust stuck to the bottom of the pan when she made fried chicken comes quickly to mind.  But sitting here, looking at my freshly wiped keyboard (donate one of your precious disinfectant wipes and be amazed at the shiny reflection that gleams beneath your digits), I am hard pressed to come up with another meal that made me happy.  

Rock hard meatballs.  Minute steak cooked to within an inch of its life.  Chicken in a variety of broiled states.  I could always count on a fresh salad and bread or rolls, and I never remember being sad at the table.  I didn't know any better.  

When Rita's mother made me pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse, I was stunned.  Who knew that food could be fun?  For G'ma, cooking was a chore, a necessity, something she did for us but which she'd rather skip entirely.  The only cooking I remember us doing together was when we tried to make an angel food cake.  I inserted the beaters in the electric mixer incorrectly and 12 egg whites went flying all over the kitchen with reckless abandon when we turned it on.  We laughed, spent a loooooong time cleaning, and that was that.

I don't remember when I discovered Penzey's.  It sits on the corner in a low-rent strip mall on Oracle Road, AZ Rte 77, a major north south thoroughfare in Tucson.  I drive past it on my way downtown, on my way to Prince, on my way just about anywhere midtown.  

The salespeople are delightful, engaging, funny, and kind.  No one laughs when I say that I have no idea what to do with marjoram.  They are happy to discuss the relative merits of single or double shot vanilla, of Fox Point vs Sunny Paris (it's the salt), of the best way to roast vegetables.  These are not conversations I have on a regular basis; cooking is still something I view with apprehension.  But Penzey's makes it easy.

There are recipe cards. There's a website.  There are always freebies; today it's 2 jars of cinnamon and a hug coin

They asked for suggestions - organizations that are in need of Hugs - and I sent them a link to Youth on Their Own (imagine trying to couch surf during the pandemic.... as a 15 year old).  It seemed only appropriate.

My favorite Penzey's giveaway is this one, though. 
It's huge, it's as vibrantly colored today as it was when I got it years ago, and the message makes me smile.  I may not be good at it - whether that's healing the world or cooking dinner - but with Penzey's help, I'm trying.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

I Had To Laugh

I was signed up for an online Pilates class with one of my favorite teachers, so when TBG wondered when I'd be exercising I replied, with confidence, 11 o'clock.

So, when 11 o'clock rolled around and the email with the class link still had not arrived, I called to inquire.

Oh, we changed that class to 10 o'clock.

Really?  I signed up last night, after dinner, and didn't look back, expecting to be sweating and grunting instead of talking to you on the phone.   Don't worry, I thought it but didn't say it.  

Instead, what came out was this:

But I organized my whole day around this!

And then I laughed.  And so did she.  As if I have anywhere else to be at any particular time these days.  

True, I've been involved in some on-going negotiations, but I'm a volunteer so they can wait until I'm re-engaged. I have groceries to pick up (anytime before 8pm) and spices to pick up (anytime before 7pm) and a letter to mail (walk to the street or drive to the post office.... decisions, decisions, decisions), but I'm totally in charge of when all of that happens.

But I organized my whole day around this!

And, I did.  I dressed for it, I ate when I did in preparation.  I raced through a conversation with the yard guys because of it.  

And all the while, I was energized in a way that I haven't been in a long time.  I had someplace I wanted to be at a specific time. I knew that I'd enjoy it.  I knew that I'd feel better afterwards.  I was looking forward to a novel experience.

And for that, I am very grateful.

(I'm also grateful that she explained where the updated schedule is hiding so that I can have this same feeling next week.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Someone Lovely to Contemplate

I should be writing about Kamala Harris.  100 years after white women were able to vote, a woman of color has just become the presumptive nominee in 2024.  

But, like most sane humans, I'd be voting for Biden no matter which of the women (or men, before that became untenable) he chose from his list.  As several talking heads have noted, the deep pool of qualified women of all shapes and sizes and colors speaks very well of the Democrats in general.  Now, I can revel in imagining Sen. Harris skewering VP Pence in whatever debate format he consents to be bbq'ed upon, while contemplating a Biden/Harris ticket, if I felt like thinking about anything serious at all..

But my aches are still aching and I'm leaning on the herbal heating pillow (the smell of which nauseates TBG so I have to hide away as I soothe) and I'm thinking about Little Cuter's friend and her brand new baby.

We started out living within biking distance; carpooling to soccer practise was a no brainer.  Her mom and I drove to the away games, playing endless games of gin rummy in a variety of interesting motels all over Northern California.  Her dad and TBG share a birthday.  Her parents were married on the same Sunday in August, just one year earlier than we were.  

I've followed her life, from near and far, since she was 7; we've always seemed intertwined.

And now, she's a mom to E4, with the smiles and the pictures to prove it.  

How this is possible remains a mystery to me.  After all, I'm the same as I was when she was 7, or 10, or 16 or when she first saw snow (in Marin, in our backyard)..... am I not?  Those memories are fresh, able to be called up with the briefest suggestion.  Time passes quickly, without my noticing that it's gone.

And then, in this world, there is E4, a testament to the passing years, a ray of sunshine in Pandemic '01. It's so nice to have something delightful to think about. Welcome to the world, little one.  Just by being, you've made my day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Feeling Hopeful - A Snippet

It started with Greta and climate change, moved through the Parkland kids and gun safety, and ended with  college football players taking on the NCAA.  I'm feeling very hopeful about the youngest generation, the ones who are the same age that I was when we shut down colleges, stopped a war, and challenged a president or two.  

After a day tangling with bureaucracy and feeling blue, I turned my attention to the sports talking heads and saw, once again, the power of that cohort when it is marshalled for social change.  Football players in the Pac 12 started with Keep Us Safe and moved into reclaiming rights to their own likenesses, adding a bit of share the wealth along the way.  

Flexing your muscles feels good these days.  Watching others do it feels good too.  

Monday, August 10, 2020

First Day of School

It's my favorite day of the year.  I put on my newly washed coat of many colors, stuff my pockets full of stickers, and leave my house before 7am.  The parking lot in front of the school is filled with families dressed in their back to school finery, colorful hijabs and dashikis of all lengths bumping up against glittery unicorns and sneakers that blink when you run.

I miss cries of Watch My Shoes! as last year's kindergarteners shusss across the lobby, on their way to the stairs up to first grade.  I miss hugs from big kids who were once littler.  I miss admiring new backpacks and hairdos and being introduced to mommies and daddies.

Mostly, I miss talking to the newbies, the ones whose parents waited until the first morning of school to fill out the paperwork and who are waiting in an endless line of grown ups and kids who all seem to know where they are going and what they are doing.  It's scary. 

But then Grandma kneels down and wonders if you're new to Prince... and if this is your grown up.... and do you think she will miss you today?  Well, let's put a sticker on her shirt, and one on yours, so that if either of you feels a little lonesome, you can rub the sticker and feel the love.

Choosing the stickers.  Placing them carefully on the grown up's shirt.  Smiling through the tears standing on the eyelashes.

And the best part is, if you see someone with a sticker, that means they saw Grandma, too.  And you can smile at that person, because wearing a sticker means you smile at others... and they smile back.

And then it's quiet.  An hour or so of chaos, and then the emptiness left behind, with only the staff and a very tired, very sweaty, very happy Grandma to survey the quiet.  

I stay out of the classrooms the first week or so.  I wander the playground and the garden, with no particular plan, just soaking up the love.  And that's what I'm missing the most - the love.  I've always said that it is impossible to be sad when 5 year olds are hugging you.  I know now that it is possible to be sad in their absence.  

Friday, August 7, 2020

Feeling Useful

Days pass and I don't go outside.  The alarm people laugh when I call them to cancel; yes, it's 1:20 in the afternoon and yes it's the first time we've ventured outside today and who would have thought that was possible before we entered the year of the plague, Pandemic 01.

I have inadvertantly reserved real, not e-, books from the local library.  They're available now.  Two of them are waiting for me.  The librarians will bring them out to my car; apparently they've been sanitized to within an inch of their lives so they are safe to touch.  I drove around town today, dropping off birthday brownies and healing brownies and visiting with Dr. K and Not-Kathy in the parking lot between the bagel store and the Urgent Care (don't ask).  I drove past the turn off for the library on more than one occasion (okay, I'll admit to driving on auto-pilot and paying no attention to my ultimate destination, thereby necessitating a u-turn and retracing of my tire tracks).  

The bottom line is, I had many opportunities to pick up new reading material  and I never managed to accomplish the task.

I'm now afraid of books.  

But now, this evening, as I was defrosting the last package of Costco boneless skinless chicken breasts (which, somehow, don't seem to require a comma between the adjectives) a text allowed me to re-engage with the world.

Prince's principal is a fabulous human being who is now frantically registering students whose parents decided to wait until just before school starts to show up with the documentation required.  The masks which were made for her have yet to be picked up; for some reason, I'm running a bit behind

For some reason?  Don't get me started.

I have a donation ready to help with the internet connectivity divide.  It's a lot of money to be thrown at a problem that should be solved by the legislature and the utility companies (in spell checking, I found that I had spelled that futility, which made me laugh).  But, as with most things education, it's bake sales and charity that will foot the bill. 

If only people could decide what to do. The principal had some information, but no time.  She gave me the phone number and now \ I can cajole and plead and try to make something good happen.

I have phone numbers and I have time and I have the ability to pick up and deliver masks and those lanyards I bought.  I can take the burden off someone who's otherwise engaged in important work. 

I feel useful.  

For the first time in a long time, I can't wait until tomorrow so that I can get started.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Jonathan Swan's Axios interview with DJT was a candidate for this post.  For some reason.... okay, for many reasons..... it makes me extraordinarily happy.  The man's a blithering idiot, waving around charts with big (seriously big), bright bars of color and pouting that the interviewer couldn't ask questions that weren't on the chart.  

TBG and I sat, fascinated, then closed our eyes and couldn't tell if we were listening to Alec Baldwin or the real deal.  We opened our eyes and imagined Sarah Cooper lip syncing his words.  The exercise made it a bit more palatable.... and then I started to giggle.  The whole thing is so ridiculous, and Mr. Swan was so meticulous, and yes the Modern Major General did come to mind.

But that's about all I had that to share.

The faunae (isn't that a great plural?)  are racing and slithering and scampering and leaping (yes, it's leaping when you're a bunny covering great distances on tiny little legs) and soaring  above and across the deser these days, and they, too could have been fodder for this post.

But, on Monday I mopped the floors, from stem to stern, with broad, swipes criss-crossing the tiles and my body.  The bucket is on wheels; I carried nothing heavier than the towel covered pole I dipped and wiped and dipped and wiped.  

Then, I did an hour-ish of Pilates, from the fabulous Vimeo classes my studio has uploaded  

Sometimes I forget that I'm not 25 years old any more.  Sometimes my heart and my mind and my body are in sync.  I was in the cleaning zone on Monday morning.  I could feel the mop moving with my shoulder girdle, sometimes pivoting my hips, sometimes using my lower abdominals to hold my hips in place as I twisted around my spine, mop in hand.  Pilates asked a lot of me, and I gave what I could, which felt like a lot.

Then, I stood up.

Some things are not meant to be, and me being erect at that moment was one of those things.  I know just when I wrenched the muscles that are now being cosseted by my herbal heating pillow; I know I won't be repeating that particular motion any time soon.  

I'm medicated, inside and out.  I have a loving husband who is willing to rub my aches and soreness.  I have a hard foam roller that provides luscious myofascial relief.  I have a pool for lolling and for stretching and for separating all the vertebrae which are trying desperately to crunch together here on dry land.

It's nice to have a plain old sports injury, I suppose.  I can blame it on my shattered hip and destroyed quadriceps, which put me more at risk for failure as I tried to roll up and over so that my legs were parallel to the floor and my feet were above my head. All that in one fluid motion she said on the video, and I, 68 going on 25, attempted to do just that.

I made it.  I felt it.  I am feeling it now.

Thanks for listening, denizens.  It helps to whine out loud.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Teasing - A Weather Snippet

The clouds started forming early in the afternoon.  

Sunshine out front, grey fluffy mounds gathering in the back, and a certain thickness in the air.

All afternoon we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  

The sun came out.  The clouds moved, south to north, but never got any darker.

And there was no rain.  There's never any rain.  The one monsoon we had lasted for 15 minutes, took out my palo verde, and vanished.  

The newspaper is talking about drought.  

And every afternoon it's the same damn thing.  Clouds.  No Rain.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Primary Day

The last time I voted by mail, G'ma and I worked on her vote from home ballot.  The Democrats, the Jews, the women - those were our choices when I didn't have enough information for an informed decision.  We laughed, we commiserated, we grumbled, she signed her name and I put it in the mail.

Neither one of us gave it another thought.  

Now, with our President raising hell over the validity of vote by mail, TBG and I joined the rest of the sane world and asked for mail-in ballots.  The process was simple; a few clicks on the first website that came up when I Googled  request mail in ballot in Arizona and we were all set.

I proved it to TBG by going back to the website and looking ourselves up.  We were listed as requesting vote by mail ballots.  They arrived two days after the newspaper told me they were mailed.  

They sat on the ledge.  I did some research (the Corporation Council, the sheriff, the county attorney), found a dark pen, and marked away.  TBG finished his.  We signed them and sealed them in the inner enveloped and put them in the outer envelope and marked the appropriate boxes.  They didn't need stamps; I affixed our individual return address labels and dropped them in the mail slot inside the post office.

Five days later, I Googled check mail in ballot status in Arizona.  Two clicks and I was at my own personal page in the Secretary of State's database where, it was recorded, my ballot was Accepted.  And today, Primary Day, I didn't have to deal with other humans.  I stayed safe and I voted and I'm certain.

That's all the job of the Secretary of State, an office that's pretty important right now.

Katie Hobbs is our Secretary of State; can you tell that I like her?  Jan Brewer was our Secretary of State before she became our Governor.... that didn't turn out well in either position.  Michigan's Secretary of State is Jocelyn Benson, as she memorably told the Tweeter in Chief. Brian Kemp was Secretary of State in Georgia at the same time he was running against Stacy Abrams for Governor..... and we know what happened there.

Who is your Secretary of State?  

Monday, August 3, 2020

More New Words

Although, to be fair, this post should really be title Old Words Which Are New To Me.

When I was in elementary school, the kids called me The Human Dictionary.  Daddooooo and G'ma were never afraid to use a 5 syllable word when a 2 syllable word would suffice.  They assumed that I would understand, either from the context or, more frequently, from the dictionary.

They had a gigantic Webster's Unabridged, always out and available, its onion skin pages full of adjectives and nouns and synonyms and explanations.  There were flags of countries that no longer exist.  There was a definition of whore when Cleopatra was in the theatres and my down the street neighbor told me that's what she was and I should ask my mom about it.  Before I took that step, though, I went to the dictionary.... where I was left flumoxed and confused as a 9 year old in the middle of the 20th century shold have been. 

Still, I remember that I went there first.  

So when JannyLou loaned me her copy of Bruce Holsinger's Innovation of Fire, I was emotionally perpared to dig in.  Big words, unusual words, arcane words - they don't bother me, or so I thought.  But 10 pages into the novel I realized two things:  I wanted to start with the first book in the series, and I needed a dictionary close at hand.

The library had a downloadable ebook available, so my Kindle and I settled in with A Burnable Book, Holsinger's tale of skulduggery in the 14th century.  Geoffrey Chaucer and his friend John Gower write poetry and play politics and engage in subterfuge while Holsinger plunges the reader head first into the original town and gown struggles between the clergy and the Parliament and the upper and lower classes.  

And head first into language oterwise unencountered in the modern world.  Holsinger understands the confusion, and brings it to the forefront in the first episode.  A young maudlyn (a whore) comes upon
A square of silk, the embroidery dense and loud..... Here is a language she reads: of splits and underside couching, of pulled thread and chain stitch, an occulted story told in thread...
I had a vague sense of what she was seeing, so I skipped looking up splits and couching.  But then Part i started, and with it a calendar, Day XV before the Kalends of April to the Ides of April, 8 Richard II (18 March -13 April, 1385).  Turns out that March, May, July and October are the months when the ides fall on the 15th (thank you Julius Caesar for teaching us about that).  Otherwise, it's the 13th, the day roughly in the middle of the month and from which other dates are counted.  The Kalends is the first day of the month.  Apparently, each King marked the passing years of his reign (cf 8 Richard II); I thought I was being clever by renaming this year Pandemic '01 but it seems that British royalty got there first.

Holsinger pens a careful recreation of London, Southwark, Westminster, Greenwich and the lands beyod.  I like maps, and his book could surely have used one.  But he takes the reader through alleys and over bridges and carefully tells us whether we are turning right or left at each juncture.  His prose is powerful; you can smell the stink of the Long Dropper ( a privy atop the Thames, with 3 holes, all too small for a grown man's body, and a looooooong drop before the plop) and feel the blade of the knife as it pierces the flesh.  

But I didn't know about the gong farmers, who shoveled the shit out of the river and onto barges to be floated or carted further away.

By the end of the second book, I knew about the barbican (the outer defense of a castle or walled city, especially a double tower above a gate or drawbridge) because I had to figure out where a character was waiting and who could see her and why it was a big deal to be let inside.  

I learned that curfew was strictly monitored, and that hue and cry was exactly that.  When a murder occured in the streets, our hero began shouting to raise the hue and cry!  A murder! nd all the windows opened and calls for the sheriff rang out.  911 was more personal then.

I didn't know that carl was a peasant or man of low birth.  I didn't know that hermits lodged in the towers surrounding the gates of the City of London.  I didn't know that a lozenge was a charge in the shape of a solid diamond, in particular one on which the arms of an unmarried or widowed woman are displayed.  Heraldry was big in the 14th century; a legal battle over who can have what on his bends (the colorful band denoting rank and name) swirls in and around the books.  

There was more, much much more.  The first book, on the Kindle, was easier to parse.  The dictionary was available at the touch of my finger.  For the second, physcial book, I had to have my phone by my side.  G'ma's dictionary is in Little Cuter's house, mine were on my shelves, and my phone was smaller and quicker.  

Quite a change from the mid-1300's.  I am left wondering what devices will be used to decipher Maus 700 years from now.