Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year's Eve

I'm taking the weekend off.

I'm in no mood to review, project, or analyze.

The sun is out and so is the moon and it's 8:21am.

There's probably some pithy comment about beginnings and endings and everything all at once and Mother Earth bringing her children, moon and sun, together to cosset the beings who inhabit her surface, but I'm not in the mood to theorize or speculate or cogitate.

I'm going to revel in the fact that, despite the odds and inconveniences and foolishness of others, my immediate family is safe and happy and ready to take on 2021 with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.  We have goals and expectations.  

We'll consider them on Monday.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hot Pants

It's really hard to avoid commenting on the (can't come up with a family friendly word so) clusterfuck that is vaccine distribution in the USofA.  Do the Trumps have financial ties to Moderna? Heather Cox Richardson thinks so, and she's my go-to person for current events.  Were the states prepared for shouldering the entire burden of distribution? Will there ever be a place for honest COVID information that is readily available to the public (asking for a friend)?

But I'm not going there.  I have one more week of self-imposed exile from the political fray, and I'm trying to indulge without worrying that I'm missing the big picture.  Luckily, Big Cuter and TBG are addicted and affixed to their devices (tv and phone and computer) so nothing really gets lost.  If I need to know, they tell me.  I allow myself HCR's morning posts and then I move on.

Yesterday, I was pruning the gonphreda, which had long ago gone to seed.  The tall wavy stalks were shedding pink and white mess all over the yard; though the wind blew it away, the plant itself needed help.  So I took my pretty purple Xmas present gardening gloves out for their first foray, sighing over the sorry condition of my pruning shears.  The sharpener is at the Farmer's Market, and there are too many humans breathing the air there for me to feel comfortable getting to his back corner.  

Soon....... soon.......

But, I digress into sadness.... and I retreat just as quickly.

Back at the tall planter, gathering all the stems and cutting carefully above any new leaves that had sprouted, I began to snip.  I moved to my left, and bumped into a sleeping pig.

(Not a sentence many of you could type, right?!?)

LiLou is camouflaged when she reclines; her coloring matches the desert rocks and ground cover stones.  She certainly wasn't obvious to me, even though I was standing right next to her.  

My excuse for such ineptitude on my part?  I was looking at the bright blue sky and the brighter white clouds scudding across the horizon before I turned my gaze to the planter.  I missed the ground entirely.

But LiLou knew I was there, and she snuffled and snorted and moved away when I inadvertently nudged her hip.... quite ungraciously I might add.  

She's my Grand Pig, and I want her to love me, so I bought my way back into her affections with a treat - the stems of the plant that I'd just beheaded.

The wispy flowers were ignored in favor of the greener leaves and the crunchy stems.  She chewed and chewed and chewed as I moved the plants around so she could reach her favored treats. Her ruff went up straight - a sure sign of happiness - and then there were the hot pants.

Pants as in panting, not the short shorts you were imagining.  

It's a deep in the throat, guttural hoo hoo hoo that was terrifying until Queen T told me that, in pig language, those hot pants mean I LOVE YOU.

The way to a pig's heart is, obviously, through her stomach. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Real World Keeps Trying to Intrude

There are health scares all around me.  A Play Group kid is a COVID long hauler.  Fast Eddie is aching from head to fingers.  Dr. K and three other spouses are dealing with medical issues that just won't go away.  I can't even look at the number of Americans who have died under this President's inability to manage the most  basic duty - to preserve and protect.

But I'm bound and determined to stay focused on the sunny side of life until 2021 arrives, so I'm not waxing eloquent on sickness and loss today.  I'm pulling my brain away from DJT's temper tantrum and focusing on the good, like this view from my kitchen table,

 with happy fans yelping from the couch, and this
memory of cocktails on the patio.... with a Navajo healing blanket keeping them warm... and this
giant kiss from our hearts to yours.

It's a challenge, keeping a smile on my face when there is so much suffering.  It's worth the effort.  

And, when all else fails, take a moment and imagine my delight when LiLou devoured a latke..... the enormity of the absurdity turns frowns upside down.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Dybbuk

There was a dybbuk in the house last week. Things were going missing, and there was no other explanation. We sat at the table discussing it over a rousing game of Uno.

Queen T:  I lost my glasses.... where have they gone?

Mom:  I lost my book.....where has it gone?

Dad:  I lost my youth..... 

(group devolves into hysterical laughter)

Friday, December 25, 2020

My 12th Merry Merry


I first published this in 2009.  33 people read it.  Thank you to everyone who was here then and is here now, to those of you who found me through Time Goes By, or after 2011, or from real life.... real real life from 7th grade or the neighborhood or blood ties, and to those of you who stumbled in and never left.  The Burrow is my gift to myself.  I love that you share it with me.... that is the best gift of all.

So, here, as always, courtesy of Daddooooo and Newsday's comics section and my own lusty if off-key memories, is.....

                     ...... my all-time favorite Xmas carol, courtesy of Walt Kelly and Pogo. Sing loudly and lustily to the tune of Deck the Halls.....

Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo! Nora's freezin' on the trolley, Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou? Trolley Molly don't love Harold, Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly, Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo! Donkey Bonny brays a carol, Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon, Willy, folly go through! Chollie's collie barks at Barrow, Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley, Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo! Chilly Filly's name is Chollie, Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly, Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof! Tizzy seas on melon collie! Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof

 (Picture is from Robert Sabuda's The Night Before Christmas Pop-Up Book)

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Girlfriends and Children

In the Life Is Good column, we have this:
 Prepared by my son, presented on a beautiful, sturdy, seasonally appropriate paper plate, clean up and
dishes done by Queen T and TBG while I sat outside with my beautiful, sturdy, seasonally appropriate paper plate and talked for an hour to The Ballerina in Arkansas, catching up and dishing dirt and remembering Colin Powell and soccer and sisterhood.

Two takeaways:
1. This was a reason to have children.
2. You share a very special bond with the women you raise your children with. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Outside My Morning Windows

I turn the blinds and get a glimpse; I slide them to one side and there it is, smiling, right outside my bedroom window. 
When the window's been open all night,  I can smell it before I see it. 

Outside the shower is a giant, square window.  Outside the window is this:
Yes, it is December 21st. Yes,  Jupiter and Saturn were visible as The Christmas Star just over the horizon.  And yes,  roses bloom in Tucson.

Monday, December 21, 2020


My holiday decor is old.
It has not always been stored in optimal conditions.
Pieces have deteriorated.
The airman's goggles have lost their elastic strap, and now sit perched upon his head.
My panda needed an arm glued back so that he could hug the branch.
But the most prevalent problem is feet.
One foot, two feet
reindeer feet,
they are at the bottom of every box I unwrap.

Who knows.
It makes me smile so I'm sharing it with you.

Friday, December 18, 2020

And Why Not?

Dinner tonight,  the last night of Hanukkah, because I have 5 pounds of potatoes and really,  why not?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Our Christmas Tree, vol 1

Queen T asked, with dewy eyes and a winsome smile, if we could have a live Christmas tree this year.  She is, as you will soon see, impossible to resist.  After agreeing on one no more than 6' tall, and their putting on the lights and being responsible for filling the base with water every night and checking it a few times every day, I had run out of excuses.

So, this afternoon, we 3 took The Queen's Audi (TQA from now on) two miles south to the place I first bought a tree in Arizona, and which, despite news stories to the contrary, was filled with beautiful, premium trees, priced at their cost plus $5 and any contribution you want to include.

where we bought

Well, only one Noble Fir, a stately, locally grown (or as local as firs can get to the Sonoran Desert), bit of Christmas cheer which the youth group was happy to tie onto QTA (although more unraveling the knotted string than actual tying occurred) 
You want to open the car doors to allow him to tie the tree to the B pillars rather than lowering the window and tying it to the pillar that way  Think about it...... how would you open the door to get in.... or out?

After longer than it had to be but what difference did it make, we'd accomplished our mission
She's in her stand, outside, her branches relaxing after being tied up for the trip to the desert.  It's a cool night, so the shock of moving is somewhat mitigated.  Tomorrow we'll bring her in and adorn her.  Rest assured that you will see a post recording that thrilling event.  I am trying my hardest to stay chipper and upbeat, and this seems to be the best way to get there.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

My Grandpig

She's classy and sassy,  just like Queen T.
Her hoof-icure is impeccable,  as befits a Nob Hill resident. 
Always happy to meet a stranger,  she's glad to shake Hello.
Is that not a great face?

She's never had a potty accident. Her idea of a long walk is once around the block. Mostly, she sleeps in the sun.  She is the perfect apartment pet.

She's quite affectionate once she learns who's in charge; apparently,  Spoiled Pig Syndrome is a real thing. But she will sit and turn and wait for a bit of brownie or a hunk of lettuce.

Her name is LiLou.  You can follow her @lilou_sfpig, along with 26,000 others on i

Monday, December 14, 2020

A December Sunday

I'm in full on elf mode; 21 more boxes of brownies to mail, many more to deliver locally.  But I had a novel I wanted to finish and the sun was out and Queen T bought us matching Pajamagram pajamas that were just perfect for hunkering down on a lounge chair in the sun with ice tea and a paperback.  I got behind.

Big Cuter is painting his Warhammer miniatures.  Queen T is doing the 1014 piece puzzle she received for Hanukkah.  TBG is enjoying the company and Red Zone in equal measures.

And Santa on the spin bike is silently observing it all.

Happy last few weeks of 2020, denizens.  I'm going to try to stay upbeat and joyful.  

We'll see how far I get!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Averting a Disaster - A Snippet

Queen T announced the news with appropriate affect - concern, alarm, but no panic - the small table lamp was smoking.

She'd unplugged it before seeking assistance, reaffirming my son's wisdom in choosing a life partner.  

The smell was awful.  The bulb was melted and so was part of the glass shade.  Big Cuter carried the thing to the backyard, placing it as far from the house as he could.  

We opened windows and turned on ceiling fans and took the HVAC off automatic and pressed its fan ON.   Although the extension cord was a Daddooooo heirloom, wiser minds convinced me to throw it away.  Apparently, these things may not last forever.

We are ever grateful that Queen T was in the library when the table began to smolder.  We are thankful that our house did not ignite.  I feel foolish about some things (apparently everyone in the world except me knew that you shouldn't plug a surge protector into a surge protector to get that little bit of extra length).  

Just another piece of the poop pie that is 2020.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Virtual Garden Club

It's much easier to talk about gardening when you are in the garden.  This is a fact which smacks me in the face every Wednesday morning at 9am, as I look at little boxes filled with faces on my computer screen.

I wanted them to feel the sturdiness of the rose blossom as it's nestled in its pre-bloom cocoon
Mrs. E was an excellent helper with her cursor, since we couldn't get mine to work.  She pointed out the spiky leaves that covered the impending bloom, first when they were in protection mode (above) and then as they opened up to allow the flower to reveal its beauty.
Moving on to another rose bush, we watched the petals unfold.

We talked about stamens and pistils and the pollen that sticks to the birds' beaks and goes on to pollnate the next tasty treat.
We talked about rosehips, and the energy that's stored within.  
We discussed making tea from the spent blossom's remains.  We talked about the energy stored in the rosehips being conserved for the following year's blooming season  

There were yawns (I was among them) and there were questions and then we were done.  40 minutes of talking and sharing and staring.  It's not the same as being there, but it helps.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

I Couldn't Go

There's a new memorial in downtown Tucson.  It commemorates the events of January 8. 2011 and those who helped and other important dates and people and peoples going all the way back to pre-history.  It includes an archive of mementos left in the various spontaneous memorials which popped up at the Safeway and in front of the Medical Center and at Gabby's office.  It includes a timeline of life in Tucson. It has improved the Pima County Courthouse plaza and the building itself.  

The project began as The January 8th Memorial and funds were raised for that purpose.  I understood the need that spawned it.  Those lost souls should never be forgotten.  The first responders and hospital personnel and the community that embraced us in the aftermath (and to this day) should be celebrated. I don't judge those who want to honor them.

The architectural renderings were gorgeous.  There's a broad, slanted walkway with names and engravings on the living walls, walls which grow higher the further down you go.  There are symbolic representations of those who died and those of us who survived, with our names, there for as long as the monument stands.

I don't understand why anyone would want to reward me for not bleeding to death on the sidewalk.

If GRIN could take center stage, I'd be delighted.  If Dr. Friese's call to public service after treating us were celebrated, I'd be thrilled.  If My Angel, Nurse Nancy, had an alcove all to herself, it still would not be enough to reward her.  

All I did that day was survive.  I couldn't save Christina-Taylor.  I didn't tackle the shooter.  I managed to dial my cell so TBG and CTG's mom could be called, but that's the extent of my heroism.  The people of Tucson who created those mementos, who smiled lovingly as I halted by, who actively came together as a community to heal.

That is what should be memorialized.  A lot of good came out of an agonizing experience.  A lot of strangers became lifelong friends.  Humans put themselves at risk to save others, and then faded into the background, not seeking publicity or kudos, having done what was needed and moved on.

We were invited to a private viewing before the grand unveiling next month.  Every request I made was granted.  The parking was free.  The weather was beautiful.

This morning, I woke up and decided.  I just couldn't go.

I didn't want to be in that emotional space.  I didn't want to spend all day preparing and the next few days recovering.  Without being able to cry on the shoulders of my fellow members of the club that no one wants to join, I couldn't see the point.  It's the connection, knowing what it was like in the moment, knowing that we are here and others are not and the why's and the pain can be assuaged, as much as it ever can be, by big, warm, long, deep hugs within our special group.

I'll go sometime.  Just not now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A Full House

After quarantining and testing, Big Cuter and his entourage drove straight through from San Francisco to Tucson, stopping only for gas, drive through In-And-Out burgers, and bathroom breaks wearing N-95 masks and sanitizing themselves before, during and after every intersection with other humans.  Once they arrived, there was no hugging until showers were taken and clothes changed.

This is what over the river and through the woods means in 2020.

Big Cuter lives in a studio apartment, separated by a one mile uphill trek from Queen T's studio apartment.  They've been in their own quarantine bubble since March, observing San Francisco's strict guidelines, as are most of their neighbors.  After months of living in boxes, they wondered if we would mind if they spent the holidays with us.  

That's all the holidays. 

They arrived the weekend before Thanksgiving and are leaving the weekend after New Year's.  Seven weeks of company in a house that has held but two souls for eight months.  We were accustomed to the silence, to infrequent comings and goings.  We'd reached a balance of exercise and eating and Facetime with the grandkids that got us through, day after day, month after month.  Suddenly, doors are opening and coffee is brewing and there are so many more opportunities for hugs.

That's the strangest part - all the hugs.

I'd forgotten how my son's arms and chest feel as he lifts my feet off the floor for the world's strongest hug.  Touching someone else took some getting used to, I will admit.  I have Covid 19 Stranger Danger and that extended to my extended stay house guests.  I'm breathing easier now that we are into Week 3.

It helps that we are all mask wearers and science believers.  It is wonderful that Queen T will eat salmon anytime I make it.  The astounding fact that my son has become an excellent cook makes me smile 6 nights out of 7.  

It was a while before I stopped feeling guilty about having them here.  It was the safest way to travel, and we all took every precaution, but it was more of a risk than we had taken since they made the same trek for 4th of July.  We were nervous then, too.  

But living in a box puts stress on the body that those of us with more than one room to roam can only imagine.  Seeing the same four walls, eight if you count the bathroom, day after day after day, being unable to go out because wildfires have turned your sunny California skies into murky, death dealing sludge just added to the pain.  The combination of the two helped us justify their summertime trip.

It was the emotional pull of the holidays and the confidence that they could make the trip unscathed that allowed us to say yes again.  I still feel vaguely guilty, but am trying not to let it ruin my days.  Seeing him here without his sister and her brood is ......

There are no words.

It's a full house with a large hole, but a hole that will be filled with love and laughter and relief and joy if we can all just hold out a little longer.  

Monday, December 7, 2020


The Brownie List grows and shrinks as children move out on their own and older relatives move on to .... wherever you want to imagine them.  At this time of year, and especially this year, all wishes and fantasies should be indulged.

It was in that spirit that I turned from curmudgeonly declaring that I wasn't going to bake this year to recognizing that this year, of all years, was not the time to deprive the recipients of something that brings joy.

I know it brings joy because people tell me so.  

It's not just that the brownies (with or without nuts, depending on allergies and preferences) are delicious; TBG's been telling me that for half a century..  No, it's that they arrive every year, year after year after year.  They are a tradition, over decades and generations now, just enough to remind us that we're connected.

The packaging varies, depending on what's on sale after December 25th.  That's part of the fun.  Once it was tiny melamine bowls with pink and purple hearts painted on the bottom.  More people complimented the bowl than the brownies that year.

So now, my dining room table is awash in supplies and my kitchen is permanently covered with brownie crumbs.  Anything that's not already packaged is fair game for anyone in the house.  There are a lot of smiles around here right now.

I'm sending more smiles out every day.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Democracy In (in)Action

My junior Senator was sworn in yesterday.  Standing by his side was his wife, my former Representative.  It was a happy moment, a deeply personal moment, a step in the right direction at a time when the whole thing seems to be going off the rails.

Plus there was my senior Senator's purple wig, worn in solidarity with those women who are staying home, away from salons, and are reluctant to show their un-dyed selves in public.  She's been wearing various colored wigs on the Senate floor since Pandemica began.  

Two Democratic Senators from Arizona.  One's a friend and one is delightfully weird.  Both have the best interests of our state at heart..  They may be a bit too conservative for my wish list, but I'm not letting perfect get in the way of what I have right here and now. 

That's being an adult.  That's democracy.  It's not exactly what I want it to be, but it's what we've got and what we have to work with.  I'll still be writing letters and calling and filling out the forms at, but I know that there will be a receptive ear at the other end.

Unlike the current incumbent, who seems hell bent on destroying our democracy.  That's not a surprise.  The most democratic of functions, the election, broke his brain.  He is the living, breathing description of Cognitive Dissonance.  He absolutely cannot accept that he lost, and that everyone knows that he lost.  That's our reality; we are inured to it.

But the enablers in the Republican party are another matter entirely.  They are not all emotionally crippled.  Some of them must still believe in facts.  On the local level, Secretaries of State and county election officials understand that this attack is on more than our democracy; it is on our fellow citizens.  Have the Republican  members of Congress forgotten that it is those citizens who elected them?  

Greta Hutchinson ran the local elections for as long as I or anyone else could remember.  G'ma and she were fast friends; G'ma always a poll worker, keeping her ear to the ground.  Nothing went on that Greta didn't know about.  No one dared make a false move; Greta was fierce.  And everyone knew her.

That was true on mid-century Long Island and it's true in 21st century Tucson.  F. Ann Rodriguez and Katie Hobbs are visible presences, reassuring and informing and confirming and not being swayed by outlandish claims.  In Chicago, we knew the precinct captain as a presence all year long; when it came time to vote and his minions rang the bell to ask if I needed help getting to the polling place, it seemed like neighbor helping neighbor.

These are real people doing real jobs and doing them well.  That's anathema to the Trumps.  I get that.  But what about the rest of those calling themselves Republicans?

There is no excuse for allowing this insanity to continue.  Someone has to speak out, and speak loudly and clearly while doing so.  

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tier 2

The states are the final arbiters of who gets what, when, as they ramp up to start delivering some of the COVID vaccines.  The Federal panel on such things issued guidelines, but the decisions are going to be made by the individual states.  

All the panel members but one agreed that nursing home residents and front line medical workers ought to be innoculated first.  The dissenting scientist didn't think the data showed that it would be useful and not harmful in that population; the idea that facts informed a decision made me smile.

It was encouraging to note that front line medical personnel includes housekeeping and food service and admissions as well as doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists.  

And then there's Tier 2 - those over 65.  I was heartened that he didn't say the elderly, although that's exactly what he meant.  Those with co-morbidities will go first, the healthier of us will follow.  Our age cohort is most vulnerable to the disease.  Vaccinating us will reduce the load on hospitals because when we get sick, we get sick.

I understand the thinking behind that.  I just disagree.  

I think that after the front line medical personnel are safe and well protected, the next people to be vaccinated ought to be teachers and school bus drivers and other front line education personnel.  Students, starting in middle school, ought to be included in that group.  

Elementary school children keep their masks on because that's the rule and rules are not made to be broken.  By middle school and high school, social distancing and mask wearing becomes more problematic.  Without schools, parents can't go to work.  Without teachers, classrooms can't function.  If the bus driver gets sick, there are no substitutes lying in wait to drive sniffling kids all over town.  

Give it to those who are trained to keep us safe.
Give it to those who are educating our children.
Then, save the elderly.  
I don't want to wait, but I will, because we are all in this together, and I want us to get it right.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


And now, it seems, that June will bring more than summertime.  According to an important person speaking on NPR (I missed her introduction), by June, every American who wants one will have a vaccination.

I wasn't prepared for June.

When I took the plane home from San Francisco on March 12th the airports were empty.  I watched the screenshots of the airports last weekend and I was horrified, then quietly calm.  This is why I have to wait until June to visit my grandchildren.  People just don't listen.  

I can't imagine that every single one of those people will quarantine for 14 days to be certain that they are not contaminating those they've traveled to visit.  Certainly, each and every one of them has come into close sustained contact with an infectious person among all those crowds.

Did they refrain from hugging while waiting, shoulder to shoulder, at baggage claim?

Did each and every one of them wear a mask at all times, staying socially distant from loved ones?

This is why I have to wait until June.  Knowing the reason helps, a little.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020


I missed it when I stopped, then I forgot to notice its absence.  But COVID was getting me down last month, so I started up again.

Deepak Chopra's collaboration with Oprah passed me by the first time it was aired, but the interwebs are a wonderful place to find that which has passed.  And so, on YouTube, I bookmarked the 21 Days of Abundance, and started my practise again.

The sessions are about 15 minutes long, and begin with a vaguely woo-woo talk touching on the philosophy of Abundance.  He tells me that I create my personal abundance from an infinite source, and my snarky New York self battles with my open-to-new-experiences self as I try to still my mind and absorb the peace.

It's a challenge.

There's a summary statement at the end of each presentation; some of them made me open my eyes and write them down.

There is a way I can fulfill my true purpose in life.

Today, and every day, I give that which I want to receive.

Today, I focus on what I want to attract to my life.

Some of them are harder to parse, and niggle at my brain, like Attention energizes; Intention Transforms.  It keeps folding in and around and over itself.

And then there are the ones that surprise me.  For example - The night before, we watched the 1934 version of The Count of Monte Cristo.  The morning's meditation left me with this thought:  As I live in present moment awareness, I live the magic of synchronicity.  The afternoon's conversation with old friends wound around serious topics only to end with Not-Kathy declaring that Dumas' classic was her favorite book, one she read over and over again.

I smiled, living the magic of synchronicity.