Friday, October 30, 2020

My Sister's Ruler - A Quick Blast From the Past

Our calendula seeds were to be planted 1/4" to 1/2" deep.  Some of the scholars knew which knuckle on which digit was 1", some had no idea what those kids were talking about.  I was at my desk, in front of Lenore the Lenovo, and I couldn't get up.  My left arm reached over to the top desk drawer and felt around for something useful.

I found my sister's ruler.  
She was probably 10 years old when this wooden marvel came into her possession.  We probably bought it at Smiles, the 5-and-Dime store situated right our town square, when we joined the throngs of First Day of School shoppers.  

Smiles is now a funeral home.
My sister is edging closer to Medicare.
The ruler abides.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

5th Grade Gardeners

I spent the first part of the morning with a big smile on my face - Mrs. E's 5th graders had planted their calendula seeds and were eager to share their progress.  

We admired the growth that some had seen and commiserated with those who were still waiting for something to sprout.  The seed packet gives a range of 5 to 15 days for seedlings to emerge; there is still a big window of opportunity.

Calendula seeds look like tiny horseshoes; they're about 1/16th of an inch.  The scholars took them out of the box with a pair of tweezers.  The seeds were supposed to stay under the soil and sprout individually.  

One of the scholars had a seed with a different point of view.  Why is my seed on the outside of this plant? he wondered.

Upon closer examination, Zoom style, it was obvious that this was not a pellet of water retention material nor timed release fertilizer, both of which were in the fancy potting soil I provided.  Nope, this was a seed that had gotten caught up in the accelerated growth of its cousin and had become a part of the unfolding seedling.

Thinking about the sprout catching the other seed on its way to the surface made us smile. Maybe, the scholar surmised, because his plant is on the second floor of his house and therefore closer to the sun, it bloomed more quickly than others' had.  The scholars were pretty close on how many million miles away the sun is, and we spent a moment considering the difference between 93 million miles and one flight of stairs.  It's possible, but only in a very small way was our conclusion.

There are so many science experiments going on. Their new greenhouse was put to use when they planted the left over marigold seeds outside and settled the greenhouse on top.  Will the seeds grown outside in the planting bed differ from those raised inside a bedroom, or on a windowsill, on a coffee table, in the classroom, or in cups set out in the sun in Grandma's Garden?  There are so many data points, so many compare and contrast situations, so much to think about and learn and discover.

It was 50 minutes of intensity, broken up by Emily Dickinson reflecting on grass.  

It was 50 minutes of love, going both ways, with smiles and waves to boot.  It's Virtual Garden Club, and we're making it work.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Goggles and Giggles

There was just a little bit of extra stress in LIttle Cuter's life yesterday.  She called on her drive home, knowing that TBG does not approve of phone use while operating a motor vehicle.  Recognizing this as a sign that we were needed, I listened and he managed to keep his angst below the level of explosion as we absorbed the information, applauded the plan, and agreed that America's response to Covid 19 sucks.

All she wanted was someone to tell her what to do.  Between doctors and clinics and the CDC and the FDA and POTUS there were just too many notions and not many facts floating in the ether.  She's right, the answers shouldn't be this hard to find, especially 7 plus months into this.

Giblet squealed as they turned the corner into his neighborhood, and we left our girl with a rueful smile on her beautiful face.  

I felt the distance between us opening, chasm-like, yawning ever wider.  I wanted to do something.  There was nothing to do.  It's times like these that make us consider relocating to Indiana.

Fifteen minutes later, my phone announced a message.  The Halloween package of goodies to replace our physical presence for the first time in FlapJilly's life had arrived.  There were two Talavera pottery mini-pumpkins, Grandmother and Grandfather Pumpkinski, there to share the joy since Gramma and Grampa were stuck in Arizona.  There was a book and some cooking extras and, for reasons that deserve a post of their own, two pairs of brand new Speedo goggles.

We got to peel off the stickers!

Thank you, Priority Mail and the USPS for bringing me to my daughter's doorstep when I couldn't be there myself.

That face is just what I was after.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


My phone greets me with the news that it's 68 degrees outside. I look at my outfit and I start to shiver.  Possibly it's time to retire my sleeveless tank tops.

There was a little red exclamation point sitting beside the temperature notification, just begging me to click it.  I'm delighted even further - there's a freeze warning tonight.

It's a damn good thing we turned off the pool heater.  Today's temperatures look to be heading downward, with an overnight low hovering in the low 40's.  

I need to have a talk with the weather gods..... this is not Indiana, this is Tucson.  We don't do freeze warnings until after Thanksgiving, thank you very much.

I found a smile in the fact that I'd uncovered the shade cloth and other coverings this weekend; my still to be planted rock roses will need comfort and succor for the next few nights.  

Tomorrow's high is 59.

I know that if you are sitting inside watching snowflakes cover your patio, this seems like a very small thing.  But for me, right now, it just says winter is coming.........

VOTE - someone in charge needs to believe in climate change.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Fall in the Desert

We have six wonderful weeks when the temperatures are in the 70's and 80's and the breeze is cool and the sun is shining but not burning through your skin.  I can be outside without a hat shielding my face and my neck.  My long sleeve shirt and gloves (necessary and essential for these spiky garden tasks) are not impossibly hot.  There's no sweat rolling into my eyeballs, requiring glove removal and finding a clean spot on my shirt to wipe the drips.

I turned on Pod Save America and got to work.  The aloe vera along the side wall gave new meaning to overgrown.  The brown, dead leaves crunched off with a gentle tug of my fingers.  
Once they were clear of what was no longer viable, I pruned the burnt tips and the chewed upon outer leaves of the main plants, and began to remove the newbies which grew from the roots.  
The pups spent some time in buckets of water
while I admired my progress

I ended up with 31 pups which I potted in containers which have accumulated over the past 14 years.

They'll go to the classrooms at Prince, where the scholars can nurture the plants and the plants can soothe the pricks and scrapes of childhood.  Garden Club has seeded  knowledge throughout the student body.  They know what to do.

I can't be there in person.  I have to find new ways to stay connected.  


Friday, October 23, 2020

The Debate

I watched the first one, where, as one focus group member said, our President acted like a deranged crackhead.  

I flipped my eyes over to TBG watching Joe answer questions on the big screen while I watched Savannah Guthrie scold our President on my phone as I made dinner.  Every giggle from me led to an explanation for my sweetie on the couch.  All the best moments were replayed later for his amusement, but it was fun to share.

And so tonight we have a debate with a mute button and a strong, female moderator.  Our President is in full melt down mode as he's holding superspreader events all over the country. Joe Biden sent his best surrogate to a parking lot in Philadelphia while he holed up for debate prep.

Our President doesn't need to prepare. His aides, looking for post-debacle employment, are heard cautioning him to be measured and stick to the script.  That, of course, would take some preparation, if not a character transplant.  It's unnecessary. He knows where he's going - China and Hunter, with a dash of 33,000 emails on the side.

The Biden campaign has effectively recast Joe's surviving son as a lost soul, wandering in the wilderness, always held in the loving hand of his doting and devoted father.  His daughter, Naomi's, Twitter thread amplified the story, and it's a good one.  

This is how it starts:

Though the whole world knows his name, no one knows who he is. Here's a thread on my dad, Hunter Biden - free of charge to the taxpayers and free of the corrosive influence of power-at-all-costs politics. The truth of a man filled with love, integrity, and human struggles

It's a fine read. It puts our President to shame.... or it would if that word existed for him.

Perhaps, while our President is babbling on, Joe could accept a phone call from one of his grandkids, the calls he never lets go to voice mail.

Do you think that our President knows the names of his grandkids, let alone has them in his phone? 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Virtual Gardening

Mrs. E invited me into her 5th grade's Wednesday Zoom meeting.  I had more than a week to prepare.  I have come to a conclusion:  Teaching is not for the faint of heart.

Grandma got into her coat of many colors, organized her notes and her demonstration items, and then I realized that my computer was on an endless loop of rebooting itself and Grandma was gone and I was in a panic.  With two minutes to spare, I connected via the iPad mini perched atop a box (that was happily out of place) and leaning against my water bottle (I was thirsty but thwarted).

I found the gallery view (with a little bit of encouragement) and then there they were, bigger but still the same.  Their faces filled my heart.  I could feel it expanding in my chest.

But there was no time to dwell on the wonderfulness of it all, because suddenly the introductions and instructions and reminders were over and it was time to talk about xylem and phloem.

They are two of the strangest words to spell and say.  Somebody knew exactly what photosynthesis meant, and what it did, and the role of of sunlight in the factory that made its own food.  And we ate some of that food, as somebody else agreed that syrup is sap and that's food for plants and also food from plants and I stopped before I got caught up in it entirely.

We all took a moment to let it sink in.

Meristematic tissue - growth tissue - was next on the agenda, and then tree rings, and then the whole thing from roots through stem to flower.  I read  them Joyce Kilmer and an ancient Norwegian prose poem on trees.  We went over the instructions for the marigold seed planting project they'll do when their cohorts return to in-person learning on Thursday or Friday.  

Fifty-eight minutes had passed.    

I spent an hour or so finishing the project materials, then drove to pick up the soil and drop it off at school. 

That was 58 minutes of presentation, without worrying about running the call, or managing the questions.  I knew that the teacher would step in if I got stuck, or ran out of things to say.  The topic was one I loved. 

I was exhausted.  I was exhilarated.  I'm still smiling.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Random Thoughts on Aches and Pains

I noticed that my hip doesn't hurt.  

Brother said, halfway through this adventure in perforation, You never get a break, do you?  It's always there.  He was right.  It was always there, until suddenly, it wasn't.

Sure, I can make it hurt, but the dull ache of chronic pain centered in my hip is a thing of the past.


Of course, right now, after Pilates and swimming a quarter mile's worth of laps, my newly discovered adductors are announcing their presence with authority.

As always, so long as the pain sensation keeps moving around, everything's good. 


It's not pain.  It's a sensation.  

A wise physical therapist counseled  me to assess the threat value of the sensation before I decided it was pain and not discomfort related to getting better.  It was very good advice.  

I feel the sensation and I re-adjust my posture so that all my muscles are working together and, while it takes effort to hold myself erect, it's also exactly what I need to do in order to continue to heal.


I remember when the orthopedic surgeon told me that my only job was to heal.  I've added other jobs as I've been able, but I've always deferred to healing over everything else.  

I stop before I do damage.  I rest when I'm injured and I don't repeat the offending movement.  I'm not 30 years old any more; my mind refuses to believe and my body reminds........


And so I can work in the garden for an hour, bending and twisting and carrying and lifting and kneeling and sitting down and getting up.  When I'm done, I'm done, but while I'm working I'm intense.  

My body is not getting in my way as I'm doing the things I love to do.

The assessments always want to quantify how much my injury took from me.  How much of my life have I been able to resume, they wonder..  For many years, I've been stuck at 85%, and felt grateful to have that much.

Lately, though, 90% seems like a more accurate description.


There's still more work to do, but I have a new mantra that makes me smile and gives me hope. 

This is where I go when that last set of whatevers is just too much to consider, 

My 90 year old self will thank me for this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


We drove to the public library to vote today.
Not the one around the corner, the one where we've voted in the past, where I've met my friends serving as poll watchers, where I signed my name just below TBG's and walked to the booth with my ballot in hand. I'd smile as I deposited the paper into the slot, nodding thanks to the worker who handed me my

Nope, not that one at all.

Instead, we put on our shoes and drove 5 miles north, turned right onto Naranja..... and TBG came to a quick and unexpected stop.  There was a line.  A car line, moving slowly, steadily down the hill then turning into the driveway and going up the hill, through the parking lot, and around to the front door.  

There were smiles.  There were thumbs up.  There were masks and thank yous and a paper reminder of how and where to track my ballot.  TBG pulled into a space so that I could return my library books (any deposit box in the system is fine) and then we were done.

The line was as long when we left as it was when we arrived.  

And now I've done it all.  I've written postcards.  I've written letters.  I've written an op-ed.  I've donated.  I've attended. I've stickered my car and signed my house.  I won't phone bank (I don't answer those calls myself so I can't inflict them on anyone else).  

I am done.  There's nothing to do now but wait.

I am not good at waiting.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Grandma's Garden - The Disastrophe

FlapJilly created that word, a portmanteau that captures how I felt when I saw the garden on Sunday morning.
I was there in March, and then I was not. I stopped by to collect the tools and take down the hanging baskets, but today I brought gloves and pruning shears and loppers (giant clippers).  I should have brought a saw.

Hint for gardening in a small space - avoid borage.  I spent a lot more time than I wanted bent over the most stubborn, prickly, juicy branches of this weed.  Remember the definition of a weed?  It's a plant in the wrong place that you don't want to transplant anywhere else.  These hardy survivors of the wildflower seed packet my garden helpers sowed before everything ground to a halt have escaped their enclosures and are now weeds.
When Kamala asks what I'd have done had I known that a deadly pandemic was approaching, I go straight to Grandma's Garden.  I'd have been sure that the irrigation was flowing to the apple tree (it wasn't). I'd have had the scholars harvest the plants and take them home (they didn't). We'd have turned over the beds and turned off the irrigation and let the soil rest.

My involvement in all of that would have been to direct the physical labor while sitting in the shade on The Big Rock. 

Instead, I worked alone until my hip was no longer able to continue.  When I sat down I saw that things were beginning to look better.  Certainly, The space was neater, more tended, more loved.
The plants which survived are healthy and thriving.  The scallions are pungent.  The aloe vera, 
even the ones dwarfed and smothered by the raging borage, were green and gooey and perfect for soothing my rashy forearms.  (Note to self:  remember to wear long sleeves in the garden to protect tender skin from prickers and allergens and sap.)

And what, you may wonder, is that luscious pile of greenery? 

That is the what I raked, clipped, lopped, pulled, tossed, and otherwise moved from where it shouldn't be to its current location.  

That's as far as it got.  My hip and my hands and my back decided that they were done and I've learned not to argue with them when they get that way.

I'll ask the school's grounds keepers to take it away before animals begin to nest in what is, to the smaller creatures around here, a very enticing habitat.  

As for Grandma?  After a day in my garden everything hurts, but in a good way.  I was outside and I accomplished something tangible.  Physical labor that was once routine, then unimaginable, is now doable.  Every moment was a memory.  It was a really good day.
Our scarecrow's head refused to stay put, but the rest of Tom (or Jerry.... we can never remember) is nestled in his tree, ready to greet the scholars as they return to campus tomorrow.

It's as close as I can get to them right now. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

What To Watch

Did you know where I was going with this just from the title?  

I'm so angry at MSNBC and NBC and whatever other outlets they have.  There are never any consequences for this man; he bails on a debate and get an hour of free air time.  Watching Rachel Maddow and Kamala Harris try not to say aloud what was in their hearts last night was worth watching again this morning on-line.  

But I'm not laughing. 

The airways are the property of the United States.  They are given in exchange for news coverage... theoretically.... back when tv was a novelty and there were but three, lonely, 18-hours-per-day channels.  I don't like to see them abused.

Would I be able to stand Trump for an hour?  

Would I be able to stay awake for Joe for ninety minutes?  

We're looking for a screwball comedy, or maybe a British detective series.  I'll let the Twitter-verse alert me to the highlights.  

I've already made up my mind.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Things I'm Having Trouble Figuring Out

I have a lot of time on my hands these days.  It's giving me a lot of time to think.  Today, I was in a funk, and my thoughts were funky, too.

How can a woman be a Constitutional Originalist when the framers didn't consider her worthy to enjoy the same rights as they gave themselves, chief among them the right to vote?  If there's an answer, I'd love to hear it.  

How can a woman with two black children stand with a man who won't decry white supremacy?  I'm trying to imagine all the hugging and crying she talked about when the central issue is that No, honey, the President really does not care about you or your brother.... not one bit.

How sad and lonely it must be to wake up every morning and see Lindsay Graham's face in the mirror.  I am having a very hard time understanding how a man who loved and was loved by John McCain could have come to this.  

Where have Ivanka and Jared been?  I don't know why I miss her face so much, but I do.  Maybe it's because I could always let off steam with a good scream or two whenever she appeared.

Why is NBC counter-programming against Joe Biden?  How in the world is this in democracy's best interest?  And did anyone else notice that it took Dr. Fauci signing off on Trump's health status before Savannah Guthrie et al agreed to share a stage with him? 

How can Rudy Giuliani believe that anyone would leave three laptops to be repaired and then forget to pick them up?  And where has Rudy been these last few months, anyway?  

Finally, why, when I had a bang up finish for this post last night, did I get distracted and walk away, leaving the idea and the post to float away into the ether?

Sorry this is late, denizens.  As I said, I'm having trouble figuring things out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Happy Birthday, Daddooooo!

My father has been present lately.  It's somewhat disconcerting, this feeling that he's hovering and judging.... always judging... and loving, always loving even if he didn't quite know how to show it without getting in his own way.

My children loved him.  My grandchildren and he would have made the most marvelous group of creative if somewhat bossy and demanding humans.  

He'd be celebrating his 104th birthday today, which took me a moment to get my head around.  He'd have been so angry at Donald Trump for his attitude, my father who put an American flag on his car during the Viet Nam war just to rile the hippies, who was a contratrian by nature, but who was, at heart, a good man.

I miss him.  

This is the post I was going to schedule on its own.  But I read it and it got me thinking, about him pulling us on sleds across Bethpage Golf Course, of flying kites on the beach and the high school field, of Carvel in our pajamas and pizzas at Vincents, and of how glad he was - always - to see me.
It was always very confusing - was his birthday the 12th or the 14th of October?  One of them was Columbus Day and the other was Herb's Day and to this moment I'm still not sure, especially since the bureaucrats moved Chris's Day to the generic second Monday.

He was a confusing person, so this is not surprising.  I never knew if I wanted to hug him or throttle him.

Deaf-as-a-door-nail, hearing aid batteries constantly squealing or dying or resting comfortably in the breast pocket of his plaid wash-and-wear shirt, he monopolized conversations so that he would know what was going on. That works well until your audience hits second grade or so; after that, it becomes a full fledged "Herb Attack."

I know this because I have been guilty of them, myself.

His tales were fascinating.  If the facts weren't really facts, well, they should have been.  He went to City College with Richard Feynman.  He lived down the block from Jonas Salk. He knew every cobblestone, every cornerstone, every brick and street sign in Manhattan.  Serving as tour guide in The Big Apple made him about as happy as anything else I can imagine... and I've been sitting here thinking about it for a while.

Surrounded by his grandchildren-of-a-certain-age, those who were sentient but not yet sarcastic, he could sit for hours, regaling them with stories about the chickens they raised in the backyard on Hessler Avenue; about the boat he and his brothers built one summer... the boat that almost floated; about the time it rained frogs; and about all the times he got into trouble at school, because he just wouldn't stay still.

He probably deserved a diagnosis or medication; born in 1916, he was "just being Herbert." He continued being just himself, sui generis as I called him in the obituary I wrote for the New York Times, until the very end.

He died at home, between the first and second commercial of the 10 o'clock episode of Law and Order on the Saturday night before Thanksgiving.  There's some confusion about the date, since the hospice nurse didn't get there to sign the death certificate until early Sunday morning.  Like his birthday, I need cues to keep the date straight.  Like most things Daddooooo related, this is not now nor has it ever been easy.

The funeral home attendants gave her a moment in the hallway before they wheeled him out the front door.  G'ma leaned over, kissed him, and then admonished him, one last time: "Behave yourself, Herbert!  Don't give them any trouble."  The paramedics were bemused.  My mother looked right back at them.  "If you'd known him, you'd understand."

Happy Birthday, Herb, you strange and singular father of mine.  Happy Birthday to YOU!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Voting 2020

The sign came from Penzey's.  It was up for several weeks before our ballots came the day after they were mailed.  
I had done my research and formed my opinions.  We sat at the table with all the information we had gathered, our black pens, and a gazillions pages of instructions and notices which we read thoroughly.

It felt very good to mark a ballot and feel part of a movement to right the ship of state.  I voted for local officials I know and love, a Senator I know and admire, and a US Representative who always remembers my name.  There was school funding and recreational marijuana and a paperwork change at the Community College that has to be ratified by we, the people.

The only races left to decide are for the School Board.
I'm embarrassed to say that I have never attended a meeting, so I have to rely on second hand data. 

I was unable to find anything but an Introducing the Candidates article on-line, which basically told me nothing. There are no websites dedicated to anyone's candidacy. The youngest (and only non-incumbent)  has a fairly robust (for this election, anyway) Facebook presence.  

I liked what I saw there, but there are four people running for three seats.   Someone's got to go.

Amster knows and likes another one of the candidates, so that's easy.  Now, I'm left with one more choice, and the only people I know who might have an informed opinion on the matter have not responded to my pleas for advice.

It's a quandary.  

Monday, October 12, 2020


I smiled when I realized that this week was coming up. I have a post for Columbus/Indigenous Peoples/ Second Monday in October Day. I have a post about voting. I have a post about Daddooooo. That gets me to Thursday and something will certainly happen between now and then. 

Unfortunately, I read my Columbus Day post and I'm not reprinting it. It just doesn't seem relevant today.

What strikes me about today is that the holiday - whatever you call it - falls when it is supposed to fall, on October 12th. The fact that I noticed this let's me know that October 14th is Daddooooo's 104th birthday.... I can never remember which is which.... my dad or Columbus.... the 12th or the 14th.

And I think it matters what you call it. It used to be a school holiday, when it celebrated a noted Italian. Now that it is Indigenous Peoples Day, it's the starting date for on-campus, hybrid classes in my district. 

I'm trying to feel like that doesn't matter. I'll let you know how it goes. 

 For now, I"m going to finish this post work on getting my hair out of my face. There is a lot of it. I'd rather my thoughts roam around clips and scrunchies than racial inequities. It's Sunday night. I'm taking the angst off.

Friday, October 9, 2020

A Family Text-A-Thon

I'm looking forward to the next debate for only one reason.  Not for the stimulating dialogue or relentless questioning by probing moderators, not for the drama and the excitement and the aha moments, no, not for any of that.

What I'm anticipating is two hours texting with my far-flung family.  

Trump/Biden was awful, but Little Cuter and I kept one another sane until Queen T started typing on the family chat.  Then we joined the others in decrying the collapse of American civilization.  We hung up when none of us needed any more comforting..... it took a while.

Pence/Harris was a different kettle of fish, entirely.  Kamala introduced herself to America, and while some men seem to think that she was angry and a monster, the family agreed that she was Mom-ing him.  

It didn't take Joy Reid to explain that every black child in America knew those faces.  I must have texted I'm speaking" two dozen times.  The only thing I texted more was Her Face!!!  Those expressions told me what Pence was saying even when I couldn't bear to hear his sanctimonious blathering any longer.  

She was responding in the moment, just like we were.  She seemed approachable and enthusiastic and ready for the fight.

Mike Pence sat with a fly on his head.  The Biden campaign's fly swatter was created and sold out in a matter of minutes.  I'll spare you the what flies eat/land upon/signify memes.  They had us laughing last night.  They are everywhere.  Look and enjoy.

There were moments of CAPITALIZATION and moments of screaming at the screen, but mostly there was admiration for Sen. Harris and derision of Mike Pence, who seemed unable to answer a question or seem to care about any of the blather he was spewing.

Mayor Pete did a damn fine job of explaining Pence's style - lying with Midwestern sincerity.  Susan Page was useless as a controller of the scene.  My family was funnier than Nicole and Joy and Rachel on MSNBC last night.

That's it.  It's over.  Will there be another one?  Will I watch it if there is n mute button?  One wonders....


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Random Thoughts On The Elections

Though I've been looking forward to watching Kamala slice and dice the VP, I wish she had refused to participate, citing the CDC guidelines that say Mike ought to stay at home for 14 days.

I'm worried for her.


Martha McSally's grin drove me away from the screen after 9 minutes.  She was full of invective and disingenuousness and calling out a Naval officer on his patriotism rang hollow.... and that was one and a half questions in.  

I have a loud voice.  I'm passionate and sometimes I get carried away. But I like to think that  the sounds I'm emitting are worth hearing. Martha's were not.


Mark Kelly looked just fine next to her, spiffy in a jacket and tie, looking straight at the person whose question he was actually answering with facts and a calmness beside the chaos beside him.  

I caught an unintended snippet in the car a while later.  Mark was asked to respond to something and he said,  "I don't know where she's getting these facts.  Now she's just making things up."

And then he shut up.  The moderators waited for him to continue, but he'd said enough.

I can't wait for my ballot to show up.


Little Cuter voted this morning in South Bend and regaled us with the wonderfulness of it all on our call this afternoon.  

  • The doors opened at exactly 8:00.
  • Masked and socially distanced, the line moved smoothly through a 4 story atrium with hand sanitizer stations every 3 feet.  
  • The poll workers were masked and gloved and protected by plexiglass and more bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • Her identification was sprayed with cleanser before it was returned, she chose her own pen from a box and returned it for sanitizing after she had an emotional moment or two in the booth, marking her ballot, feeling like this could make a difference.... there is hope.
  • And, best of all was Miss Yvonne's response when Little Cuter thanked her for being a poll worker:  We all have to do something, baby.

I'm still worried about Kamala.  I hope someone from her side verified the negative tests...... not that it matters.

Joe Biden's Gettysburg speech was a damn fine piece of oratory.  

Not Obama-esque by any means, but a guy from Scranton standing in front of 4 military flags blowing in the wind above hallowed ground and telling me why I should trust him with the future took my shoulders out of my ears for the first time since the election was called in 2016.

I have hope.  For the first time in a long time, I have hope.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Participatory Democracy

The guy who owns the land across the street from our home wasn't paying attention when the County reconfigured the roads.  He's now left with a landlocked 12 acres and no access roads.

Our neighborhood won a lawsuit against him when he sued to use the allowed for one home existing on the premises driveway opposite my front door for a mega-development... with a school bus stop right there

that would replace this view from my desk.

We won that battle, though it took our Neighborhood Association's entire bank balance to do so.  

He came back again, this time with fewer houses.  We went back and forth and his planner listened and tried to accommodate us but that pesky driveway sending 600 cars a day through the streets that wind through our quiet, 80 home neighborhood was always a non-starter.  

He built a driveway out to the street through an as yet un-developed commercial parcel.  That would have been fine, had the driveway not poured its contents into a blind curve just after a traffic light where cars are revving up to enjoy the long, smooth road ahead.  

It was an accident waiting to happen, and his traffic study agreed, estimating that there would be 1-3 accidents per year if the plan were approved.  Considering that there have been zero accidents at that corner since I've lived here, that was somewhat alarming.

So the neighborhood busy bodies met and planned and strategized and kept up with continuances and then the virus forced us to meet outside and then the final hearing was scheduled for today, Tuesday, in the County Supervisors' meeting room.  Some of the men ventured to the venue, expressing themselves in person.  Some of us stayed home, watching on the computer and listening on our phones.... or maybe doing them both from the same device but I knew I could make my system work.  

With everything plugged in, we watched democracy in action for a couple of hours and then our issue came up and we spoke and they spoke and there were a lot more of us on our side than he had on his.  

We had so many comments previously submitted that he had to win by a super-majority: 4 out of 5. Our Supervisor made the motion, another seconded it, and there we were.  The Clerk said That's it, then, and moved on to Item 28.

Texting with another busy body who was also participating from home I wondered Did we just win?????

Apparently, we did. 

Seven years of worry led to this moment, and this moment is good.

Then, I heard Joe Biden speak at Gettysburg, and realized at the end of it all that my shoulders were out of my ears for the first time in 4 years.  I felt some hope, some peace, some sense of calm.

Sure, it might be the larger dose of Sertraline, but I prefer to give credit to today's events.  I'm going to watch Mark Kelly debate Martha McSally and continue to enjoy my winning streak.  I hope you, too, are having a wonderful day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mark Kelly on Zoom

Brenda Starr was hosting again.  She let another survivor friend and me into the call before anyone else was admitted; she wanted to be sure that the two of us made the cut - the call was wildly over-subscribed.

I don't recall that problem coming up when Sen. McSally spoke to us last week.  Is that a sign?  I hope so.

The three of us unmuted and turned on our video and chatted.  It was wonderful to share how long our hair has grown, what colors the others had chosen, how the hairdresser was a scary place to be right now.  Then, in the 4th box on the screen, appeared the candidate.... tying his tie.

He usually wears black, mostly a form fitting t-shirt.  The man isn't very tall, but he is very well proportioned to wear a tight tee.  I'm just sayin'...........

Once the others started filtering in, I began to smile.  There were Patsy and Jerry Ru..... and Bridget's iPad and Philips ipad ... all titles I'd seen beneath their faces on the previous Star-sponsored calls.  It felt like old home week.

The program started early, once all the spots were filled. The differences between the two candidates could not have been starker.  

Kelly stressed the necessity for teamwork - in space or in the Senate - where McSally had likened her time in Washington to being deployed in a combat zone.  No, Kelly said, in combat your mission is to destroy the enemy.  

"I don't think of it like that.  We're all on the same team - we are not enemies."

Can you imagine if all our representatives felt that way?

His answers were precise and nuanced.  He admitted when he hadn't thought through a policy, acknowledging the gaps in his preparation for the role - he's good at math, at science, a pretty good engineer, good at figuring things out but thinking about politics as a means to push social policy is something that he's still working on.

But his answers to specific questions on policy were quitedetailed.  He's obviously done his homework. 

He'd lower the age for people to enroll in Medicare. If you remove those folks from the risk pool (those trying to buy insurance on the exchanges) that should bring down the cost a lot. 

There's exactly the kind of answer a scientist would give. 

It's beautiful to watch his face as he talks about Gabby's influence. She showed him how politics can make a difference.  He would tackle Big Pharma's obsession with multiple patents, those messy problems that keep generics off the market for decades, and he peppered his answer with specifics: they make $20 billion, the formula remains the same, but the price to consumers has doubled.

It reminded me of my statin issue..... bringing clarity to drug pricing would make all of us better consumers.... my candidate was speaking directly to an issue that I face... and he offered a solution.

I began to feel a lot better about my country's future.

Monday, October 5, 2020


I've read all the snarky tweets, seen all the (very funny) memes and GIFs, listened to friends voices and read their texts and emails. There's a general sense of guilt mixed with I told you so floating in a soup of how should I feel about this.

I have no problems.  I have a solution.  It's tried and true.  It has been used whenever our nation has suffered a shattering loss - mass shootings especially seem to bring it out.  It is meant to console and comfort and show empathy and compassion.

At least that's what I assume those who use it want us to believe about them.  They are concerned.  They are paying attention with their heads and their hearts.  They are good people.

And so, here's all you have to say, write, think:

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

That's it.  

No need to take any action.  It's probably too soon, or too personal, or too intrusive, or too something.  You've said what you had to say.  You can be done with the issue now.

It works for them.  It's just about the right amount of time to expend. 

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Pandemica's Small Changes - A Snippet

Much has been lost since Donald Trump stole my country.  

Among the losses are Perfect Patty and her delightful daughter, My Young Friend.  We lost Patty to ICE and the bus to Nogales.  We lost My Young Friend to Shelter in Place.  Though she'll run to Costco for me, or rake stones that hurt my hip to move, I won't let her in to help me clean.

My house began to take notice. I acquired the proper tools and, with support from the other person who lives here, things began to sparkle once more.  Today was one of the days where the kitchen screamed Clean Me Now, and more than Method Daily Cleaner and Shine was called for.

Off came the burners and out came Barkeepers Friend. Soapy water on the counters and everything up and out.  After vacuuming came mopping and then we collapsed on the bed, waiting for the floors in the rest of the house to dry.

Normally, on a day like this, we'd opt to go out for dinner.  It was A Patty House and we didn't want to mess it up.

Today, having done the work myself, I was absolutely delighted to spend time in my beautiful space, creating a meal with not a lot of splattering to mess it up.  

Much has changed, indeed.  I am now happy to spend time in the kitchen.

The universe is realigning on its axis.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Yes, It Was A Shit Show

Queen T alerted us to Dana Bash's description on the family text last night.  Big Cuter was proud of us; when he finished teaching his class he returned to find his family had sent more than 50 texts in 20 minutes.  

We were fired up.

Little Cuter and I kept each other company through the first hour, suggesting a beheading in the public square for Chris Wallace and expressing a disbelief in the existence of civilized society.  There was something about doing away with cows that sent us over another edge, but when my kid began writing that it's the trees' fault that they are flammable I knew we had reached a new low in American discourse.

Joe Biden saying shut up was not a good example to set for young children, but it certainly echoed what I was screaming on my couch.  

I was screaming alone.  TBG was silent for the entire 90 minutes.  He did a lot of sit ups.  He held his head.  He frowned. 

Not-Kathy lasted 3 minutes.  I think she made a wise choice.

I watched it all. 

I had help.