Wednesday, March 31, 2021

And Then, Whole Foods

I was excited to go.  Unlike my first two excursions, there was no anxiety.  I had a smile on my face when I announced my intentions and I was grinning all the way there.  Making all the green lights was just an added bonus. 

I should have remembered to worry.

Of all the awful parking lots in Tucson, this is the worst.  Even emptier than I'd ever seen it on a Tuesday afternoon it was terrible.  I took a spot to avoid on-coming traffic and hailed the young woman with Whole Foods credentials who was walking by.  Yes, if I bagged my own groceries I could use my own bag.

I masked up, grabbed the big blue soft sided igloo, and stepped onto the walkway..... where I was immediately confronted by two young white guys who were buff and unmasked, walking my way, chatting up a storm.  I hung back, but then I woman behind me was on my tail.  I sighed (mentally) and plowed ahead.

The sanitized carts were where the carts usually sat.  I waited as the he-men put on the masks an employee provided, passed by the plexiglass encased temperature check station (for staff only), and there was the produce department, just like it always was.  

I didn't want to browse, but I was helpless. Apparently, so were the other women of a certain age, none of whom seemed the least bit interested in maintaining any sort of social distance.  It was a start and stop situation, with me doing most of the zigging and zagging.

Obviously, there is a rhythm to grocery shopping in Pandemica.  Equally obvious was the fact that I missed the training session.

It was lovely to choose my own chicken breasts at the butcher counter.  I was delighted to ask the bakery kid to slice my ciabatta.  I wasn't that thrilled with all the people walking by, perusing the merchandise right under my elbow.  Once again, I was on a dance floor without knowing the steps.

I stood back at the cash registers, waited until the woman in front of me was finished, then unloaded my cart.  And there they were, another couple of a certain age, angling their cart so that he could stand right next to me in line.  

It's 6 feet, not 6 inches...... but I bit my tongue, moved to the other end of the cart, and continued unloading.  I left the cart there, effectively enforcing social distancing, and smiled at the cashier as he pulled it down to the end of his aisle where I stood packing my own big bag.  

They kept getting closer and closer.  I left it there on purpose.  

I know.  I saw them. 

It's my first time back in the store in a year.  There are a lot of people......

His smile and nod and sympathetic eyes told the rest of the story.  I wasn't the first person he'd encountered with the same face I had .... deer in the headlights, overwhelmed but bearing up, happy to be out but ready to be home.

I left my cart with the garbed-head-to-toe-in-plastic sanitizer girl and her wand of magic spray goop and drove home as safely and quickly as I could.  

There's a wide world out there.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Gradually Opening Up

Today I went into Michaels, searching for a perfect match to an unnamed skein from my stash.  My search was fruitless.  My visit was instructive.

Once again, I left the thing I needed the most at home and had to return.  Once again, the parking situation flummoxed me.  I ended up in  Curbside Pick Up #1.  I left the UV there and went inside.  I couldn't see around the two giant trucks bracketing my little space; backing out would have been perilous.  That, at any rate, was my excuse to myself.

The truth is that I was anxious to get it over with.

There were no bins of discounted items outside the store.  Everything else looked just like it did a year ago.  Uninspiring kid crafts were 50% off, mildly more interesting ones were 40% off.  There were neon Crayola crayons and signs announcing KITCHEN and FAMILY, signs whose obviousness have always disturbed me.  I was tempted by the colored pens and the crafting paper, but I restrained myself.  

There might have been a shopper or two in the store with me.  I saw only worker bees, who scurried out of my way whenever I approached.  The yarn aisles were blissfully empty as I compared my remaining little ball of pink with the samples in their bins.  I found the yarn, but not the color.  

I felt up a few other options, but restrained myself.  I perused the kid crafts once again, saw that there was a line at the cash registers, and left.

It was less terrifying than yesterday's sojourn in the grocery store.  I sanitized my hands and removed my mask and listened as NPR reported on the new and improved statistics on transmissibility and severity of disease for the mRNA vaccines.  

It was a good day, a harbinger of things to come, I hope.

Monday, March 29, 2021

I Went To The Grocery Store Today

For the first time in 54 weeks, I went grocery shopping.  The last time we were in the store was March 12, 2020.  We were stocking up for two weeks at home, filling a cart with milk and eggs and bacon and ice cream.  We didn't think about toilet paper.  We certainly didn't think it would be more than a year before one of us ventured back inside.

This trip involved preparation, where our last one was a giggle-fest of what can't we do without for a fortnight? We made a quick list for dinner.  I found an N95 mask to add below my NaomiNomi mask and ventured out.

I've been in the parking lot over the past year, visiting the dry cleaner and the UPS store.  But they appear before Albertsons.  Today, I had to contend with the main piece of that lot.  For a moment, I forgot which aisle I liked.  Parking, turning off the car, donning my face coverings - everything took on monumental significance.

I was almost to the store when I realized that the list was still on the front seat of the UV.  

On my second try, I was presented with a choice - carts neatly lined up to the right of a CLEANED AND READY arrow, and RETURN CARTS HERE to the left of another.  In the past, the carts were strewn helter skelter.  Things have certainly changed, I thought as I stood there thinking it, and I haven't even gone inside.

I grabbed a cart and the doors opened as I turned.  It was bright, probably no brighter than it ever was, but startling to eyes that haven't seen that many lumens at once in a while.  Most everything was where it had been last year, but I didn't take time to browse.  I shopped the outside edge of the store and only noticed the red ONE WAY arrows on the floor as I went the wrong way over the one before the cashiers.

I stayed back and kept my groceries back and noticed that no one had their own bags dividing one order from another, the way it used to be.  I thought about the surface on which I was placing my unbagged-because-why-use-more-plastic-than-necessary fruits and veggies for the first time ever.  I left my credit card in the reader for much too long, distracted as I was by the magazine covers behind the checker's head. I had to be prompted to enter my phone number so they can give me discounts as they track my every purchase.

How are you, today wondered the kid bagging my produce.

It's the first time I've been in the store in more than a year.  Honestly, I don't know how I am right now.

He didn't miss a beat.  He didn't look surprised.  

Yeah, I can imagine.

He'd obviously seen whatever was on my face many times before.  

I couldn't wait to get home.

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Boring Presser

We listened while we were in the car, getting TBG vaccinated and then getting drive through lunch.  It was an excellent use of our time.

The vaccination volunteers were friendly and conscientious.  We arrived early and nobody cared.  The waiting area nurse was as excited as we were, especially when it came to talking about seeing the grandkids. Fifteen minutes passed and we were on our way.

All the while, Joe Biden was answering questions at his Presidency's first press conference.

He called on the AP first, and the reporter said Thank you, Mr. President.  He didn't insult anyone, although he resisted being pushed around.  There was genuine substance to his answers.  He managed to stop himself before veering off into uncharted territory.

He laid blame on his predecessor where it was appropriate, and dismissed him the rest of the time.  

We put him on the television when we got home, but turned him off after a while.  It was boring.  Delightfully, charmingly, down in the weeds minutiae boring.

It made us indescribably happy.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

March Madness

Today usually starts my favorite sports weekend of the year - March Madness's Sweet 16.  Winnowed down from 68 teams, the top four from each of four brackets face off for the right to go to the Final Four.   

This year I'm hard pressed to tell you the names of more than one or two teams competing.  I'm not even sure if they are playing on Thursday or not.  For some reason, there were games last Monday, something which was brand new this year.  It must be COVID protocols.  

Whatever the reason, it's confusing.  TBG refused to believe me when I insisted that the announcer said Monday, only to return, abashed, a few hours later with the admission that I was right.  I couldn't take much credit for it, though.  It really shouldn't have been the right answer at all.

Duke and North Carolina are no where to be found.  Once mighty Indiana didn't make the cut, and equally fabulous-in-the-past Georgetown was seeded way at the bottom.  With more and more One and Done players (kids leaving for the NBA after one year of showing off their skills in college) joining those going directly from high school to the pros, there's little incentive beyond laundry or an alumni connection to draw the more casual fan to the game.

You can't watch a player develop into a superstar over four years if he's bailing after just one.  It's hard to evaluate a coach when his roster is so unstable.  The best players aren't in the college game anymore, and if they are, they are not there for long.

I usually have an upbeat post about our family pool.  This year, the grandkids were in the bottom 0.1% of all ESPN participants.  After the first round, I was in the bottom 17%.  None of us are paying much attention to the standings except for Queen T, whose virgin experience with this ought to be more enthusiastically experienced by the rest of the family. 

Just another COVID casualty.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Another Grocery Store

I was fine this morning when the sun was out.  I did a little gardening, read on a chaise n the back yard surrounded by my handiwork, looking for the happy and finding it elusive.

It grew colder and I went inside and read and made a fancy lunch for us and read some more.  I was fine while I was distracted.

And then the clouds rolled in and the gloom settled into my soul.

Picking up a prescription shouldn't put anyone at risk, nor should managing a grocery store, or running a cash register.... and, once again, it all comes back to guns.

Republican fundraising after the fact just added to the roiling in my gut.

I don't know whether to scream or cry.  I'd rant and rave if there were anyone besides TBG to hear me; he's having a harder time than I am.  Jamie Guttenberg's father has been voicing my feelings since she died in Parkland.  He's angry as he wipes away his tears.

This seems like another young guy with an untreated mental illness and access to weaponry designed to kill.

I can't believe I'm still typing that sentence.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Having a Bad Day

(This post will make a lot more sense if you read yesterday's post and the exchange between Allison and Little Cuter first)

I hadn't made the connection to the Atlanta sheriff's comment until Allison referenced it in a comment.  

Even knowing that it was in large measure self-protective and ultra-protective of FlapJilly all those years ago when Little Cuter used it as a protective shield against the more-than-a-little-scary people sharing the ER Waiting Room for 5 hours on a Saturday night, it's always felt kind.

My girl is nothing if not thoughtful of others.  She takes very good care of herself and her people, but she's always aware of the effect she has on others.  TBG always said she could sell ice in Alaska; they'd buy it just to be around her for a little while longer.  She makes you feel good about yourself.

I love the fact that she recognizes the good in everyone, and that she's raising her children to look for it, too.  Rayshard Brooks was certainly having a bad day when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car in the drive-thru lane at Wendy's.  That doesn't happen on a good day, not to anyone.  Perhaps, if our police were not as weaponized as they are, if there were active mental health units available to organize a solution,  if they were able to see a person having a bad day rather than a bad guy, an inebriated man wouldn't have been shot dead. 

There's a difference between most of the behavior the police see and really bad behavior.  Plotting to kill someone does not qualify as having a bad day.  Buying a gun and shooting people does not count, either.  

As I was typing this, TBG told me about the shooting in a Colorado grocery store.  That's not a bad day for anyone except the patrons and employees.  

The shooter?  I really don't care how he or she or they are feeling.  Not one bit.  

I'm glad that my grandchildren are able to see the world through kind and thoughtful lenses right now.  FlapJilly knows that there is evil in the world; she's been gradually introduced to the former president over the past year.  She'll come face to face with it soon enough.  Right now, she's delightful and unspoiled and, like her mother, sees and points out the best in others.

It's a gentler way to introduce her to the world, akin to how I describe my perforation to kindergarteners.  A young man who didn't know to use his words to solve a problem, decided to let a gun speak for him.

They can decide if he was a victim of circumstance or a devil in human form on their own.  Little Cuter and I, in our own ways, are trying to teach something worthwhile in the midst of something awful.  Framing it this way puts a spin on the situation that I think Defund the Police really means.  We need to look at things in shades of grey, as long as no one is in danger.

Guns change the equation. If Georgia had a waiting period those people would not have died that day.  If the shooter really was having a bad day, perhaps that time out would have worked like Giblet's time outs ..... a chance to think about your actions and recognize where you went wrong.  I wonder if that deputy sheriff ever thought of that?

And having a bad day doesn't excuse anything.  Just ask Alexander.

Monday, March 22, 2021

All Was Calm, All Was Bright

SIR was painting the shed.  All the doors and gates on the property were open to facilitate the movement of ladders and such.  

And then there were lots of sirens, which was unusual but not overly troubling, until the flashing lights left the main road (all two lanes of it) and entered their quiet piece of suburbia.  

They were inside, eating lunch, when Little Cuter read the alert from the neighborhood's Facebook group, among whose members are several police officers.  After abandoning his car on the highway (several miles away), the driver had been tracked to their neighborhood.  The police were in pursuit.

SIR went out to shut the doors and gates.  The sirens increased in volume and frequency.  The grown ups contemplated taking the family down to the basement.

There were loud pops.

The alert was over.  An ambulance was on the way to take the suspect to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest. 

The neighborhood was quiet once again.  

A few hours later, when asked if she wanted to tell Gramma and Grampa about their exciting afternoon, FlapJilly started out this way: A man was having a really bad day, and so  there were police... and..... then she lost interest in the story and ran off to play in the mud kitchen.
They are definitely not having a bad day.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Sweet Dreams

Little Cuter sent this photo, captioned:
I support this sleeping position.
So do I.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Billy Collins

He was the opening night speaker at the (virtual)Tucson Festival of Books this year.  I cleaned the kitchen as he spoke.  

I really wished that he could have been here in person.  His video was fuzzy and I couldn't watch his eyes crinkle as he laughed.  

He laughed a lot.  

He takes the mundane and madness it special.  His is not the poetry of inexplicable symbolism.  He's accessible on a first reading,  though more comes through the more times you posts the words. 

This is the poem he read to me ten years ago,  at a Literary Society luncheon.  It is exactly how I feel today. 

I couldn't say it better,  so I decided not to try. 


Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.

Just another Wednesday
you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday's saucer
without the slightest clink.

by Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate 2001-2003

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Answering Karina's Question

Karina Bland met us after I was perforated.  She felt like an old friend after 10 minutes.  Her writing hit no sour notes.  She wants TBG after I'm through with him.  Her weekly email of Things I Meant to Tell You brightens my inbox and sends me, via links, on a deep dive through her family and friends and social issues presented with a human touch.  If I'd taken a different career path, I'd be her.

So, when this morning's newsletter wondered what will you feel safe doing once you’ve been fully vaccinated? I started my list and sent it to her.  Here's an expanded version.

I made all my appointments - eyes, hearing aids, haircut.  My super suit (what Karina called her vaccinated self) doesn't work without the nano technology embedded by others.

As soon as their parents are (I almost wrote SHOT.....oy vey) vaccinated we are on our way to Indiana to hug the grandkids.  Alert Guinness; a record will be set. I may never let go of Little Cuter.

After Scarlet gets her 2nd dose, we will sit at her big table instead of across town from each other, and play mahjong with real tiles instead of moving them with a cursor on our screens, our phones turned off instead of connected to Duo. 

Lady Jane is two weeks behind me, but soon we will stroll arm and arm into Scordato's, and ask Brett, our favorite waiter, about his daughter, ask Brandi, our 2nd fav, about her not so little any more newborn from last Spring, and eat fresh from the oven pizzas.  Neither of us love the phone; we have 13 months of detailed news to share.

Fresh from the oven pizza is only the beginning - hamburgers topped with goodies from the sports bar around the corner, scrambled eggs and english muffin from our breakfast go-to spot , and french fries and chicken salad sandwiches at Wildflower.

Movies?  Maybe The Loft, Tucson's art theater, where the audience skews older and are probably vaccinated.  I'm still not over my Aurora Shooting Terror and don't know when I'll feel okay about going to a multi-plex.  At least I can't blame that on COVID.

Shopping?  Quick trips to the grocery store are a given; picking my own fruit has been a goal since March, 2020.  Costco, with its high ceilings and giant spaces, is tempting. Walmart's curbside pick up system is easy to use and saves me money since I'm not tempted by the children's clothes and the brightly colored gym shorts favored by SIR. I think I'll avoid going into Alan's Shoes and Bed Bath and Beyond and other places I'd have browsed without intention in the Before Times.  No need to expose myself when there's no need.  I'll focus on filling needs first.  Strolling mindlessly will be confined to the great outdoors.

And that's the difference.  I'm bringing a mindful mindset to rejoining the world. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Peeking Through To The Other Side

I'm starting to think about a post-vaccine reemergence.  It's terrifying and exhilarating and aggravating.  I'm not big on change.  I got used to doing nothing, seeing no one, going nowhere.  I was firmly ensconced in the go-nowhere-world, which had ceased to feel limiting and had become a comfortable norm.

Sleep in?  Why not?  Stay in pajamas all day?  Why make more laundry by changing?  

Now, though, I am on the way to being medically cleared to reenter the world.  Masked and distanced but out there, doing the things that need to be done, starting with check ups deferred.

My eye doctor has retired.  She's a youngster and she's gone.  She left last April, with no forwarding address.  I can't even say goodbye, and after 15 years of seeing her, hearing about her son, sharing the Cuters and grandkids, she has vanished.  The store has no way to reach her - I tried her cell phone and it was disconnected said the kind clerk who directed me to her successor.

He swears the new lady doctor is nicer, kinder, and smarter than the one I loved.  She's also had both doses of the vaccine. I made an appointment for April 1st.  We shall see.  

The Audiology Clinic is closed until noon today.  My Audiologist is still listed on the website, so I am hanging onto hope that she will be there to greet me and test me and make it so my hearing aids pick up the frequencies I'm missing.  Big Cuter was insistent that my hearing was less acute this winter than it had been over the summer.  TBG and I apparently haven't noticed.  Maybe because we already know what I'm going to say?

I'm vacillating about a haircut.  It's been 14 months.  My locks brush past my shoulders and, in the back, make a serious dent in my spine, tickling my scapula when I shower and requiring a towel of their own when I dry off.  No longer am I five minutes in and out.  Bad hair days are a thing of the past; my many scrunchies and clips and grabbers coil all the offending strands into one neat and lovely pony tail. As SIR told Little Cuter, that scrunchie adds something to your face.

Still, the ends need trimming and I miss my hairdresser and the tales she tells of her daughters and her husband and their brewery.  I miss sitting in her chair as she chats and snips.  She understands my hair - every woman reading this understands what I mean, don't you?  She's a gem, as a person and as a stylist.  Her studio has moved to a less convenient location, but I'll travel for good service.  The question is - how long can I let it grow?

Regular haircuts, like eye doctor appointments and hearing check ups, marked the passage of time in Pre-Pandemica.  There have been no such markers for the last 13 months.  Is it summer or is it spring?  Only the thermometer knows for sure.  The rest of us, humans depending on events to remind us of where were are and what we are supposed to be doing, have been left in a soup of endless Thursdays, months with 70 days, alarms alerting us to the sun coming up but not much else.

This is going to take some introspection.  How much do I want to add back?  How soon?  Why?


Monday, March 15, 2021

My Second Shot

This Walgreens was 30 miles and 35 minutes further away than dose number 1.  Unlike last time, there was traffic, lots and lots of traffic.  A rent-a-truck going 60 in the left lane in a 75 mph marked zone backed up cars for miles and miles and miles.  The grey van next to him moved up and back, precluding anyone from passing safely.  We observed all this as we followed the cars that were moving with more alacrity,  awkwardly passing in the far right lane.

That's not TBG's usual style of driving, but we were on a mission and he was determined to get me where I needed to be when I needed to be there.  As we drew closer to the orange U-Haul which was causing the disaster, we snarled at the driver who was holding his phone and merrily chatting away.  Our death stares didn't phase him, but they made us feel marginally better.

(There ought to be a direct phone line to call the police when someone is holding the phone; it's illegal all the way from here to Phoenix.)

We exited I-10 after a brief pit stop at the Rest Area, which is now reopened and was densely populated with masked travelers emptying their bladders.  The road that Google Maps selected took us through the Gila River Indian Reservation on a lightly traveled straight road that passed cookie cutter stucco-ed  one story homes with covered porticos at the front door to shelter cars from the sun.  The colors were different, but the basic style was always the same.  

There were no store save the gas station and mini-mart at the highway's exit.  Ten miles of vacant land, farm land, scattered houses, and one lone man working on a motorcycle in the shade of his portico.  The land is flat and featureless.  There's a BASF ("We make chemistry happen") factory set far back from the road, but that's it.  Desolate is giving it too much character.

Casa Blanca Road ended at a traffic light, and civilization appeared over the horizon.  Freddy's and Chipotle and Fry's and Basha's and gas stations of every variety lit up the overcast afternoon.  It was jarring to move from what could have been the early 1900's to the 21st century just by turning left.

The Google Maps lady sent us past all the different-but-basically-the-same strip malls, directing us to turn right into the Amtrak Parking Lot.   

There were no other cars there.  There were no humans to be found.  There was certainly no Walgreens in the small paved area.  Refreshing the app did nothing; she sent us to the same place.  I had the right address, having Ctrl+C'ed it directly.  I told her app that she sucked😒and closed her up.

I called the store and was told that there was no Amtrak lot in town.

After some confusion about where we were and where we should turn, I managed to get a cross street from the very confused young woman who was trying (and failing) to help me.  I have never wished for a paper map unfolded in my lap more than I did at that moment.  Finding Smith Enke Road on my phone was a less than pleasant challenge, but I saw a Walgreens and then a street sign and we turned and parked and were still 10 minutes early.

TBG followed me in for a bathroom break, then sat in a comfy chair as I filled out paperwork.  After assuring himself that I was safe and well taken care of, he went back to his car to wait without being surrounded by possible virus spreading humans in the store.  

The pharmacist stabbed me and directed me to a chair across from the main desk.  There was no joining TBG in the car until 15 minutes had past.  So, I sat and moved my arm around, chatting pleasantly with the woman occupying the I'm Next chair.  When enough minutes had passed, I stood, told the pharmacist that I felt fine, and turned to leave.

The line of patients waiting to drop off prescriptions applauded, smiling and giving me thumbs up and nodding heads and smiles behind their masks.  I curtsied and blushed.

I danced along to the top hits from 1965 all the way home.  It was an easy way to keep moving my arm, pretending I was 13 years old again.  This shot stung more than the first one, and the injection site was painful, not tender.  I prepared myself for the worst.

Home, fed, nestled in the couch with a book, I felt fine until I decided to stand up.  My legs weighed 10,000 pounds.  There was a weight on my chest the size of a refrigerator.  My tongue had a hard time forming words.  I've never been that tired.  Ever.

I finished pulling up the shades and flopped back on the couch.  The clock said 8:07.  I announced that I was going to sleep.  I took 2 Advil for the arm pain and pulled the covers over my head.

TBG rubbed my back until I dropped off.  The next time I looked at the clock it was 7:07, the sun was shining, and my arm still hurt.

I haven't slept that long since I can't remember when.  

And now it's nearly noon.  My arm, Advil soothed, still hurts when I move it abruptly, but it's fine tucked next to my waist as I type to you.  My friends have had reactions on the second day, so I'm uncertain how the rest of today will unfold.  But for now, I'm fully vaccinated and relatively okay.

I feel grateful and humble.  I feel safe and healthy.  I'm ready for a big sign that says SCIENCE ROCKS!!!

Friday, March 12, 2021

My Second Dose

Tomorrow's the day.  We'll drive up to Casa Grande, to a different Walgreens on the other side of town, so that I can get my second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Though I was delighted at the time to receive Moderna's entry into the vaccine marketplace, today I wish I didn't have to do it all over again.  A one shot, J&J miracle cure would suit me just fine.  

But off we'll go, and I'll present my arm and wave it around once it's inoculated, and I'll stay hydrated. I have Advil and chicken soup and small cans of Coca Cola.  I've got the blankets the kids made for us through Shutterfly to cosset me.  I've made no plans for several days afterwards.... not that there were that many plans to be made before the shot, anyway.  

And two weeks from now, I will be free.

Or not.

We can gather with our vaccinated friends, indoors, unmasked, sharing food and drink and hugs and sports on tv.  We can gather with unvaccinated families, one unit at a time, as long as they are not at high risk.

Okay, I get all that.  If I could beam myself up to Indiana, I could hug my grandchildren and their grown ups.  But the CDC is still saying I shouldn't travel, that there are risks.  If I could drive across town to touch them, I'd be there in a heartbeat.  But what if I come in contact with a contagious person, and I bring that contagion into their home?  Until the CDC tells me otherwise, I'm waiting until the grownups (at least) have gotten their shots.

I'll still be masked.  I can't see myself in a restaurant filled with unmasked eaters, but I might find it possible to sit at an outdoor table, far from other diners, and eat a slice of pizza hot from the oven.  Scarlet and I will play mah jongg together, but the friendly weekly gathering of Happy Ladies at the Oro Valley Community Center won't be part of my life for a long time, I'm afraid.

The Happy Ladies are hiking - but they are wearing masks.  I'll put that off, too.

Listening to music outdoors at Club Congress will be on the agenda, dining at the Cafe's close quarters will have to wait.

I'll take the remaining pink yarn into Michaels and try to match it myself.  I'll check out the Tweezerman tweezers near the Customer Service Counter at Bed Bath and Beyond with my own eyes.  And the fruit --- I'll be in every market in town, just to see and smell.

Best of all, I'll be able to be outside in Grandma's Garden with my Prince Mustangs.  There is a lot of work to be done.  I will enjoy supervising it, from a distance, masked and not hugging, comforted by the mere presence of those small humans playing with what's growing in the garden beds.

Slowly, life will return to normal.  I cn hardly wait.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


There were eight of us, four fraternity brothers and their girlfriends.  We met when I was a sophomore at Cornell.  We've stayed in touch ever since. 

Two couples are still married, five decades after we were together in Ithaca.  One marriage ended in divorce, despite the lime green tuxedos at their wedding which, we were certain, would keep them together forever, just so as not to have to repeat that sartorial faux pas again.  

And the other couple?  Their story is the stuff of Grimm.

They were gorgeous - He, tall and blonde, and She slight, with long dark hair.  They didn't share a religion or ethnic background, and that put paid to the relationship as far as all 4 parents were concerned.  Their vitriol was toxic.  It was impossible for our friends'  relationship to endure.  

They broke up.  They each married (unsuitable) others.  Neither of those relationships were destined for success; their hearts were still in Ithaca, dancing at parties, hiking the gorges, playing cards with friends.  There were children born of those marriages, Hers, which ended in divorce and His in a long term separation.  

Though they hadn't seen one another for years, their hearts were always attached.

And then He moved away from his wife, and She was close by visiting one of us, and that friend suggested that they drive down and see him.  

It was as if nothing had changed.  This was where they were meant to be.  

It wasn't a public reconciliation.  His children didn't know.  Only certain friends were informed. They were together and didn't need marriage or a public announcement.  They had one another and that was enough.

They both had health issues, and his claimed him last week.  The loss of this big, generous, thoughtful athlete, the man whose papers I typed, who played pool and drank beer with me at The Salty Dog  after the other 6 had graduated and left town, who lived on a turkey farm and captured one to share with a class of schoolkids,  who played varsity basketball and captained the lacrosse team at the same time when the hoopsters needed more players to fill out their roster is unimaginable.  Glen lives in our memories;  it's hard to imagine that he's not here on earth, too.

We're at the age where this is happening with alarming frequency.  He was a big part of our past, and a heartwarming part of our present.  She is glad to have had the time together.

It should have been more.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Gardening Without Gloves

I am bound and determined to finish my yard, garden bed by garden bed.  Bending and scooping and digging and pulling are tasks designed to aggravate my hip.  I have to take it in stages.  I have to remember to stop before I hurt, when the twinges are just beginning.  Last week I worked until I dropped, and drop I did.  

I am not looking to repeat that experience.  Filling the dishwasher required more mind over matter movements than I've had in a long long long long time.  The good news is that I was able to work hard enough to feel broken.  The bad news was feeling like my back and my hip were spiky corona viruses, poking and burrowing and otherwise annoying me.  

Advil and medical marijuana helped, but I woke up feeling only slightly less stiff.  I lost two days of sunshine and balmy winds.  I am going to try to avoid that situation in the future. 

Of course, I've said that to myself every year since I was perforated.  I don't ever seem to remember.

For example, I bought anemones and planted them in pots.

I worked on the irrigation, feeding the tubing through the bottom hole to minimize the disruption of the visual field.  That worked on one pot, but the other was being recalcitrant, refusing to accept the emitter and then refusing to spew water when I turned the system on manually, just to check.  I attempted to bend over to reevaluate the situation.  Bent over was as far as I got.  Using the pony wall nearby I managed to achieve a somewhat erect posture, hobbled through the front door, and fell onto the bed.  

Today, everything was working smoothly..... don't ask me why.  Feeling like the garden gods were smiling on me, I decided to walk the front yard, surveying the scene, planning upgrades and downgrades.  

The well established palo verde no longer needs irrigation.  It hurt my heart to dig up the carefully buried drip line surrounding the perimeter of the canopy, but that was the only thing that bothered me.  The rest of my body found that to be an enjoyable task.

Then, I started picking out dead fronds from the yucca.  That's a dangerous chore.  Sometimes they pull right out.  Sometimes they are stuck and the stiff, razor sharp xylem cuts through your palm like a hot knife through butter.  

I know that.  I've felt that.  And yet, today, I decided it would be a good idea to garden without gloves.

Never mind the jumping cholla that attached itself to my bare ankle. My ankle is fine,  My ankle is fine.  The fingers that tried to establish a hand hold to pull it out are another matter entirely. 

Those prickers are slick and sharp. Gaining traction to pull it out without sticking myself some more, without gloves or newspaper or anything to protect myself..... well, those are minutes I don't need to repeat any time soon.

And there was more.  Glochids, the tiny prickers on prickly pear cacti of all variety attacched themselves to my fingers.  This is just one of them which I removed, with tweezers, once I decided that enough was enough.

This is of unknown origin.  I found it when I reached for the door handle.  
You'd think it would hurt, and that I would have noticed it.

You would be wrong.  As I'm typing this report of my injuries, I'm finding tiny slivers of plant life which have embedded themselves in to my skin.  

Maybe next time I'll remember my gloves.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Pandemica Stole the Festival

The Tucson Festival of Books is my favorite weekend of the year.  I usually get two or three posts out of the event.  I always learn new things or find a different way to approach an issue.  I can pick up a new author or three, serendipity bringing me face to face with a person who writes what I want to read.  

I could wander the vendors and exhibitors, tent after tent of used and new and new-to-me books just waiting to come home with me in my giant tote bag.  Bookmarks and notebooks, activity pages for kids and lists of If you enjoyed this book try these rounded out the You Need This Now items I unpacked on the kitchen table.  

There's not a lot of serendipity when you're sitting at your usual desk with the usual view staring at the computer screen.  

The same minutes long introduction video played before every session.  What was a charming way of comparing the various moderators' takes on performing the same verbiage at the start of the real life sessions, watching that video 10 times over the course of the weekend was a bit much.  By the 3rd session, I was using that time to prepare my snacks and pillows.  In real life, I'd be smiling at my neighbors, moving my water bottle so that someone could walk past my feet to the chair further down the row, settling into a folding chair outside or an upholstered pull down auditorium seat, always on an aisle and aware of the exits, comforted by the presence of hundreds of other readers, smiling as the moderator thanked us for coming and praised the donors who made it all possible.

I had to do all that alone this year.  There was no one to comment on what I was crocheting.  There was no one to share the laugh or the surprise or the eye-widening comparison uttered by the brilliant person sitting 50 feet away.  The only being 50 feet away from me this weekend was the hawk riding the wind currents, looking for food.

In years past, when I was tired I'd grab a seat at the back of a sparsely populated tent.  Cooking demonstrations, Native American legends, scientific advances in obscure fields - it was always different and always interesting.  My brain was expanding as my hip was relaxing.  This year, I wandered from the library to the back yard to the kitchen, seeking inspiration and finding none.

Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fight Club, and that made him semi-famous.  Little Cuter had a later work, Invisible Monsters 

on her bookshelf, and it led me down a garden path of gender identity, trust, and redemption.  I had lots of questions to ask Mr. Palahniuk.  I was settled in my chair at 8:50 for the 9am session.  I had my pencil out and my crocheting in hand.  I listened as the moderator explained the chat function.  It was the 7th or 8th time I'd heard the spiel, but this time I paid attention.  

I looked at the bottom right corner of my screen and there it was.... kinda.... sorta..... it said Chat Disabled.  Ever hopeful, I assumed that it be functional once the conversation began.  Wrong. Emily St. John Mandel and Chuck Palahniuk talked  about things that the interviewer found interesting, but there was no way for those of us in the audience to participate.  The session we were viewing wasn't live and in person - it was taped.

I left.  I wasn't interested in a podcast.  I was looking for interaction.  

The day before, James Lee Burke managed to converse with those in the ether, as his interviewer seamlessly read our questions aloud after Mr. Burke couldn't locate his reading glasses.  Our random queries led him to desk slapping laughter.  He was having as much fun as we were.  

That immediacy, the lowering of barriers between writer and reader, that is what the TFOB has meant to me over the years.  It's another thing that COVID took from us.  The organizers did a fine job of putting together any kind of festival at all.  I was willing to forgive them the 38 minute technical delay over all the presentations at the Saturday morning start of things.  I'm not so sure about not being informed that some sessions would be taped.  I would have gone out to the garden after lunch had I known that the Garry Trudeau interview I heard last week was to be replayed at 1 on Sunday. I assumed it would be a different conversation.

I don't like criticizing the Tucson Festival of Books.  They did the best they could.  I'm looking forward to the real thing in real life with real writers and listeners in 2022.


Have I mentioned that I hate COVID? 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Pandemica Pros and Cons

I'm having trouble coming to terms with my freedom.  A part of me wants to extend my term of imprisonment.  I'm going to miss Pandemica... at least, some parts of it.

A second dose of the Moderna vaccine will be shot into my arm on Saturday.  After I recover and wait 14 days, it's unlikely that the disease will hospitalize me.  This is different from my original hypothesis, the one that went once I'm inoculated, I'll be safe.  Safety is relative when it comes to COVID 19, it seems.  

I might get sick, but I won't take up a hospital bed.  That's good news, except for the parts where I think about my friends who are long haulers, who never went to the ER, who were never admitted to clinical care, but who are gasping while walking up the stairs months after they were "over it".  

I'll be wearing a mask forever, I think.  Scarred lungs are not the gift I want to give my aging body.  

I'll visit with vaccinated friends, inside, hugging and sharing food and drink and mask-less conversations that I can actually hear.  (Don't get me started on masks and hearing aids.... wearing them, conversing behind them,  hanging on to them when they fly across the car.)  I'll dine al fresco with Lady Jane. I'll play mahjong with Scarlet at her dining room table.  I'll drive aimlessly around town practicing left turns and parallel parking with Mr. 15 and his learner's permit (windows open; he had the disease and is - theoretically - unable to pass it on). 

I'll go into Whole Foods and pick my own produce.  

That needs to stand alone as a statement of all I've missed.  As Not-Kathy says, How do those shoppers know exactly which tomato I  don't  want?  I have spent a year with bruised bananas, squashed grapes, and melons that didn't ripen even after a month on the counter.  I want apricots and plums and peaches.  I want sweet corn and baking potatoes of just the right size.  I want to be tempted by ugli fruit and pears from Chile.  After not hugging my grandchildren, not picking my own fruit has been the worst part of pandemica.

I've missed my Prince kindergardeners and gardeners and teachers.  I've missed my servers at Ghini's and Sylvia, the cashier at Barnes and Noble who moved there after Linens and Things closed and who always shares San Francisco stories.  I've missed the french fries at Wildflower and hot pizza anywhere.  

I won't miss making 3 meals a day for 2 people, each of whom used to be able to take care of most breakfasts and lunches on our own.  I won't miss mopping my own floors (okay, I'm a princess.... I can take the abuse.... I can't stand doing the floors).  

While I have enjoyed the on-line Pilates classes the studio has provided, I will be very glad to get back into the welcoming embrace of those who know how to push me harder, how to align my body just so, and who have the fancy pieces of equipment that I just didn't replicate at home.  A towel, a mat, a magic circle,

and a roller have kept me going for the past year, but working on the reformer and the cadillac

and the pedi-pull
with trained instructors enhances my performance.  Plus, I miss my friends, those who sweat beside me, groan with me, and laugh about it afterwards.  It's easier to quit a taped lesson than it is to walk out of a session in the studio.  Believe me.  I've turned off or fast forwarded through more of the video classes than I ought to admit.

But there's been a serenity to this time that I will miss.  Once I got used to it, I found a rhythm that was soothing and amusing.  The 23 book series I read last March got me over the beginning.  I hid within the world Dana Stabenow created, and I was fine.  I emerged for meals, but otherwise I was in Alaska.  

Once I faced the situation squarely, I ordered cleaning supplies and ebooks and started puttering in the garden.  We ate when we felt like it and went outside when it suited us.  My garden was pruned to within an inch of its life. I got dirty i the middle of the day and didn't have to shower and go meet someone... I could rest my achy hip and go back out to dig.  

Without structure, days of the week became irrelevant.  We marked the passage of time by FaceTiming with FlapJilly and Giblet while they ate their dinner.  We watched the 2 year old develop language and emotional maturity.  We stood in awe as FlapJilly blossomed into a girl who reads chapter books and is tall enough to turn on the kitchen faucet without a step stool. That happened before our very eyes, every single day.

Little Cuter gets to unload her day to her parents.  Grandkids get to play silly hiding games behind their hands.  Grandparents get to wallow in the everyday life of those who live far far away from us.  This is a tradition that, I hope, does not end with the acquisition of vaccines.

I hope I remember how it felt to have unlimited stretches of time, with no required activities.  

I want to retain the (relative) lack of clutter that staring at the same spaces every single day forced me to notice and remove.  

I want to snuggle into a chair for 5 hours of reading without any sense that there is something else I ought to be doing.

I want to remain mindful of the quiet spaces, to revel in them rather than look to fill them.

I want to take time every morning to watch the birds in the rosemary and every afternoon to watch the bees replace them.

There's a lot to look forward to doing and seeing and feeling.  It can't come soon enough.  I just want to remember to hang on to the parts of Pandemica that enriched my life.   

Saturday, March 6, 2021

(Virtual) Tucson Festival of Books

It's my favorite weekend of the year, and now you can share in the joy. 

The Tucson Festival of Books  starts today at 9am.  The sessions are all on CrowdCast, both live with a chat function and archived for future viewing.

I listened to Garry Trudeau in a pre-festival special event.  I was impressed with the quality of the presentation.  If you're interested, click through to the list of authors/sessions/exhibitors and dive in.  

It's where I'll be all weekend.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Joy In The Morning - A Snippet

TBG was flipping through the list of viewing choices when I pointed and smiled.  All of a sudden, I was in junior high.

If you were a 13 year old girl in 1965, you might have seen Joy in the Morning, just like we did.  You might have gone to school on Monday morning with tears in your eyes, waiting to share.  

For a moment, seeing the title on the screen, I had knee high socks and a plaid skirt and anxiety and romance and hormones flooding my space.  It was a moment out of time and, practicing mindfulness,  I stood still and let it wash over me. 

And now I have a warm feeling, a giant hug, surrounded by old friends, looking back through rose colored glasses.

Thursday, March 4, 2021


Both my heart and my Capitol are broken.  The images in yesterday's post hurt my heart in a visceral, physical way.  I can feel it pounding as I type.  Listening to the occasional Congressperson talk about securing the Capitol makes it worse.

G'ma and Daddooooo were big on seeing where it happened, no matter what it was.  We took a helicopter over Gettysburg, toured Antietam in the pouring rain, got up close and personal with the Liberty Bell and Fraunces Tavern and The Freedom Trail in Boston, but Washington, D.C. was a recurring trip.  

It made everyone happy.  

By the time we were tweens, Brother and I could explore the museums on our own, meeting the parental units and our younger sister for lunch.  As we got older, we could roam the city all day long.  I sat in the gallery of the Senate, I saw Dorothy's ruby slippers in the Smithsonian.  I never felt threatened or intimidated or uncomfortable.  There were Park Police and Capitol Police discreetly keeping me safe.  

There weren't any fences, except those telling me to keep off the newly planted grass seed.

I could accept that kind of fencing without feeling violated.  What Brother shared is terrifying.  The ability of any American to walk into her representative's office and speak truth to power has been shattered.  Not by COVID, but by terrorists from within.

That we've done this to ourselves is the worst part.  We've normalized Putin's Russia here in the USofA.  Today's hearings concentrated on the 3 hour delay at the Pentagon before the National Guard could be called in.  Further testimony revealed that they could have been there in 20 minutes, just as the insurgents were breaching the building, if only a decision had been made.

The delay that put the lie to the peaceful transfer of power.  The delay that broke my heart.  I'm not crazy about the optics of the military taking on citizens on American soil, but I wasn't that happy to see them clear the crowd at the Bible stunt either.  Instead, we have video that still makes me cringe.  

How about those optics?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

This Is Our Nation's Capitol

Brother is one of my favorite correspondents.  I've shared his thoughts and pictures before, in stories that were uplifting if, at times, unsettling.  This one is just unsettling.

I'll comment on all this tomorrow.  For now, I'll let his words and photos tell the story.


I took a tour of DC last Thursday, 2/26/2021. First time I was in The District since January, 2020. Wanted to see the fence before March Fourth (the day of big parades).

Getting off I-395 to go to the Capitol past the Rayburn Building, 

you can’t go there.  Detours send you back to the highway unless you ignore the detour signs and know the other way around.

There are heavily armed National Guardsmen in camo inside the fence. They are spaced about 100 feet apart all the way around all the fences everywhere.  You can hear them talking. They are bored. So are the many DC cops interspersed among the Guard.

The unclimbable fence extends for miles.
It is difficult to get a grip on the fence, but specialized hooks will overcome the close spacing.
Kevlar blankets will overcome the razor wire.  

Large trucks are effective in blocking access. 

Nothing will overcome fire from the M16’s and long guns inside the fence.

At the photo op church across from Lafayette Plaza, it appears that Jesus needs protective fencing too.

Black Lives Matter Plaza is two blocks north of the White House and best visible from the sky.

There is plenty of parking at $2.30 an hour (the National Park Service pay station thanks you for your “donation”).

I want my city back.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The American Way

Republicans can't get elected the franchise is expanded.  Therefore, all measures must be taken to limit access to the voting booth.

Voter Suppression seems to be the policy of the Republican Party.  Not one of the policies, or the primary policy, the policy.  It's an interesting pole around which to wrap an organization representing, according to Gallup, 25% of Americans.  

That's almost 83 million humans. 83 million people who identify with a cult of personality determined to limit the most basic of civil rights.  

Did you see the golden statue of the former President at CPAC?  I'm not sure if it was meant to be ironic (probably not) or exalting (like the golden calf) or reminiscent of their leader's golden locks, but all it brought to my mind was his golden toilet.

Seriously.  Would you pose next to a toilet?  

As I watch these poorly dressed, poorly groomed, poorly grounded in reality white men pay homage to their idol, I cannot help but smile.  I am comforted (amid my disgust) when I think about an old man who has never in his life faced a consequence confronting (Manhattan District Attorney) Cy Vance, Jr. and all those Assistant United States Attorneys in the Southern District of New York.

He can say that the investigations are part of the witch hunt.  He can blame it all on politics.  He can say that little green men are invading our borders.  It doesn't matter.  There is now a paper trail filled with facts and those facts will tell the story.  

It won't be pretty.  

He, his children, and his businesses are all under scrutiny.  I cannot imagine putting a Former President (and his Secret Service detail?) in prison, but house arrest upstairs in Trump Tower with an ankle bracelet (golden, if he insists) and as much access as a real inmate has to the outside world would suit me just fine.

I want him out of my life.  

His own party, save those few who now are on his enemies (aka Heroes) list, is incapable of shutting him up or shutting him out.  The media, try as they might (which isn't that hard), cannot resist him.  (Seemingly) reasonable people are in his thrall.  

It's time for someone to stand up for Truth, Justice, and The American Way (21st Century Style).  It's time for the documents to expose the truth and for justice to prevail, so we can go back to inching our way to a more perfect union, (much too) slowly and with many missteps, but always with our eye on the prize.  

That's my American Way, any way.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Something's Going On

Blogger is having issues.  

I really did write a post to be published today.  It seems to have vanished.  

I'm going to try to retrieve it.

Wish me luck.