Friday, April 30, 2021

Uncle Joe - A Snippet

Wasn't it wonderful to listen to reasoned arguments instead of screeds? 

 Did it make you smile when you forgave his verbal missteps, remembering the former guy's bloviating and appreciating the difference?  

Did you find yourself clapping along - more than once?  

Were you nodding and grinning as our president unveiled a vision for America that emphasized growth and healing, rather than division and discontent.

There's no reason we can't.......

That's the America I grew up in.  I'm glad to have it back

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Grandma's Back in the Garden

The CDC says it's safe for me to be outside with a few people.  It rained yesterday and the soil was more supple than usual.  The sun was out and I was ready - I was back at Prince Elementary School.
The raised beds were a disaster, but we were able to save some aloe and one random plant that looked promising.  It's now surrounded by stones to remind others not to pull it.
Palo Verdes have seeded themselves, taking advantage of the irrigation and lack of attention to thrive where they should not be.  It took 30 minutes of digging and wedging and cooperating, sacrificing a plastic tool or two along the way, but the baby tree and its roots are no longer embedded in the raised bed.  
It helps to have strong 5th graders to do the heavy lifting, especially 5th graders who can dispose of garden waste with such style.
The younger kids came in and wanted to plant, so we set up the vertical garden provided by our friends at the Department of Agriculture.  They used my very old Cornell cups to fill their planters with soil, then placed amaranth and edible flower seeds just as deep as the packet directed.  
There were labels included in this year's gift bag, and they were filled out carefully - Spelling Counts so the descriptions were copied with care.
There was a minor kerfuffle over the fate of the two lizards who have taken up residence in the plastic bench, chomping happily on the roaches and assorted other bugs crawling around on the bottom.  I left the lid open, stacking the contents neatly on the side.  The garden helpers had raked and swept and carted and dumped and it would have been disrespectful to leave a mess.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Mother's Day Amaryllis

People buy amaryllis bulbs in WallyWorld, at the drug store, at Michaels, and at garden centers.
They buy these bulbs from late October through the end of the year.  Sometimes they come in pretty pots.  The maintenance to display ratio is overbalanced toward beauty.

The thing is, they are bought as a Christmas flower.  The red blooms and bright green stems complement the holiday decor.  In April, between Easter and Mother's Day, my tchotchkes tend toward the pastels.  

Apparently, this bulb never got the memo.

The first year, it bloomed in January.  Over time, its internal clock has reset itself, relentlessly moving forward through the year.  The thick leaves have been anchoring the giant pot just outside our front door, surrounded by pink and white vinca and the occasional gladiola, for quite a while.  

The flowers opened this weekend.  I broke off the stalk and brought them inside.  

We just got home. I have no particular decorations anywhere.  The flowers are a bright burst of color against the rainy (finally!!!!) skies. I suppose it really shouldn't bother me that they are 4 months late. 


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Traveling - Random Thoughts

Sitting right next to a human to whom I am not related was weird.  Not scary,  which was surprising,  but odd.  

Eating in public was something new.  Hidden away,  as far as we could be from the madding crowd,  the food tasted just as good as it did at home. 

Keeping six feet apart in the airport seemed superfluous.  We were all crammed into a metal tube,  breathing recycled and filtered air,  shoulder to shoulder and back to front. 

There was drink service,  but no food on our short hops,  which made me very happy.  That was the piece that worried me the most.

The transitions were seamless.  The security line was 3 people long.  People raced off the plane,  pulling suitcases out of the overhead bins more quickly than I've ever seen before. 

The planes were full.  The rides were smooth.  There were no mask avoiders, no sneezers, no crying babies,  no seat kickers. 

We worried about it for a lot longer than necessary.  I won't say I was completely comfortable,  but it wasn't as bad as I'd expected it to be.

In Pandemica, that's about as much as one can expect. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Email Subscriber Alert (Again)

 Feedburner, the RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) feed is no longer really simple, at least for me.  As of July1, 2021, Bloggers's RSS subscription service will end.  

I'm working on setting up something new. In order to be sure you don't get left behind (at least I hope you don't get left behind),  please send an email to  That will put you on the list (which I should be able to find in Feedburner but cannot) which (I hope) I will import into the new RSS.

I'll be posting this at the end of my verbiage over the course of the next few months, too.  

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day (Redux, x12)

(This is the 8th post I ever wrote, back in 2009.  I like it just as much today as I did then.)

I like Earth Day. I was there at the start, after all.

Created in large part by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, in the world of 1970 it was a touchy-feely alternative to the harsher realities of the anti-Vietnam War protests. War was such an uncomfortable subject and arguing against it made your parents wonder why they were spending tuition dollars while you were telling the lawfully elected President of the United States of America that you knew more than he did. With your picture in the crowd on the front page of the NY Times. At 18 years of age, no less. 

But planting trees? Recycling newspaper? Not littering? And all this in service to Mother Earth. Who could be aggravated about supporting Mother Earth?

Earth Day had teach-in's. They were more fun than sit-in's, which invariably involved police and disciplinary action. They were less fun than be-in's, which owed more to Timothy Leary and The Grateful Dead than to anything political or practical. Teach-in's were earnest and had hand-outs and statistics and pictures of desolate landscapes ravaged by the cruelty of man. There was science and legislation and outrage and lots of tree give-aways.

Earth Day had no mandatory family gatherings. It required no gift giving, no card sending. You went outside and did something - cleaned a playground, weeded a median strip, planted one of those free trees. You felt good because you were doing good.

Now there is Earth Week and "We're greener than you are" tv networks Were this still 1970, there would be protests about the idea being "co-opted by 'the man'". Instead, Sheryl Crow is designing reuseable grocery bags for Whole Foods and Wal-Mart is selling others next to the discounted paper towels.

And Mother Earth is grateful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


There aren't many events which could put me on an airplane, but Big Cuter is marrying Queen T on Saturday and TBG and I, clad in every possible layer of protective equipment, are going.

A date that met all the conditions was chosen, back when vaccines were a vague hope sometime in the future.  There was no end in sight, and the kids were ready to move on.  We hoped for a vaccine that would allow us to be there, but encouraged them to plan it anyway.  We would send our love and feel safe at home.

There were no hard feelings involved.  We were all on the same Keep The Parents Safe page.  TBG hates to travel anyway; on that level there was some cause for joy. This was a legal ritual certifying their commitment; an officiant and two witnesses are all they'd need.
Then there were vaccines, and we got ours in time to be fully filled with antibodies that grew comfortable for two weeks and, according to the CDC and Dr. Fauci it should be safe for us to travel.  We will hide ourselves in far away corners in the airports.  We'll sip our drinks through straws slipped under our masks.  Though Southwest disinfects and microbial protects every part of the plane for 6-7 hours each night, I'll bring my wipes and clean everything before I get comfy.

I bought N95 masks with metal nose strips and comfortable bands, and Not-Kathy gave one to TBG with clear instructions on how to use it.  I bought safety goggles to protect us from droplets in our eyes; I think they will be most useful in the lavatories, but I think mine look pretty cool so I may kust wear them and smile.  They expand to fit over prescription glasses..... I have to decide if contacts or glasses or both is the most protective way to go.  

I'm probably overthinking this, but that's only because Southwest gives us each 2 free bags so I've been  tossing in an extra pair of shoes or two, instead of obsessing about overfilling my carry-on.  I have our boarding passes on the phone, and while the Early Bird Check In didn't put us as close to the front of the line as I'd hoped, we're still in Group A and there's nothing more I can do so I'm going to try not to think about it until we are searching for seats.  

At the end of the voyage will be two smiling faces and a pig.  I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Driving With Mr. 15

You met him when he was Mr. 3, an adorable bundle of love and smiles and curiosity.  He was happy to climb at the playground for hours, while his mom worked and I watched.

I took him to buy hissing cockroaches at The Bug Shop and crystals at The Rock Shop (those are the real names, not blogonyms.... creative, eh?).  I drove him to the park with his scooter and to play basketball at the courts partially funded by CTG's foundation.  I watched his soccer games from the sidelines and basketball from the bleachers.

Today, I'll be watching him sit behind the wheel of a car, driving.

Amster says she won't sign him up for driving lessons until I think he's safe behind the wheel. She thinks he's fine, but she wants confirmation.  She's the only one he's driven; he needs more practice with someone not his mom.   

I am the designated "Is This Okay or Not" person, because every parent needs someone who loves their kids as much as they do  and who will step in and say Good Job or Whoa without fear of recriminations or outrage.  We are that for one another.

So, this afternoon Mr. 15 and I will cruise around our old stomping grounds, checking out the Ace Hardware where we bought his mom a plant, then following the twisty curvy up and down road as far as it will take us.  I'll show him how to parallel park ( a skill I taught everyone who asked) and I'll reassure myself and his maternal unit that the world will be safe with him behind the wheel of a moving mass of metal.

How did this happen?  When I close my eyes, I still see this:
The world keeps turning, and I am here to see it.
Life is good.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Small Steps Are Better

And they make me happier, too.  

TBG made us breakfast and I read the Sunday paper all the way through.  I spent some time thinking about my granddaughter, who really enjoyed the clipping I sent her extolling the praises of Nandi, the Tucson zoo's elephant who is also 6 years old.  She really liked the paper; she'd never seen anything like it.  My daughter had to explain the concept of newsprint and the newspaper to a true child of the 21st century.  

Then, I took the UV to the post office, mailed the current installment of FlapJilly and TBG's games of tic-tac-toe (with notes to one another) and drove to Michaels.  

The store used to be on the way home from the post office, if I made a loop with more traffic lights.  TBG drove me to curbside pickup one week; the next week the website said Temporarily Closed.  The newspaper announced the opening of a brand new Michael's in the shopping center that's on the way home if I make a bigger loop from the post office - that's where I headed this morning.

There was a spot right in front of the door (I love parking karma) in their mostly empty section of the lot.  The store was equally empty.  

Unlike the old establishment, there is a Maker's Spot.  Brightly lit oversized wooden tables, reminiscent of the cutting tables in Daddooooo's wedding dress factory are bisected by electric plug in strips. (I'm sure there's a name for that, but it escapes me.... and I've been thinking for a while.) There's a sign offering the use of their tools or your own, and the chance to book (socially distanced) parties.  

All the patrons and staff were masked and cautious.  The bright red carts were still bright red and pristine, not sun-bleached or dinged.  And right inside the door was what I'd been yearning for - shelves stocked with pretty items, all marked 60% off.

My cart was soon filled with plastic wine tumblers and sturdy disposable plates elegant enough for company.  I found ribbon for Mr. 17's graduation gift and skeins of yarn in all sorts of interesting colors and textures.

I even found the yarn I needed to finish my current project, the reason for my visit.  

I was tempted by the kid art projects and the sparkly little animals on the display carousel by the cashiers, but I resisted.  After all, everything but 2 skeins of yarn was purchased out of desire, not need.  

Everything will bring joy to me as I use it and to the recipients of the projects I create.  I shopped locally (and safely).  And I went home without anxiety.  In all, a good day.  

I have to remember to pay attention to Little Cuter -small steps, Mama, small steps.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Sitting in a New Space

I've been grumpy lately.  It hasn't been fun.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to be happier.

My first step is moving to the kitchen table at sunset on a cloudy evening.  Usually, this seat is too bright to sit in for anything but admiring the view, while shading your eyes.  But tonight there's a delightfully boring grey haze behind high clouds and I can sit and look out at the view while I type to you.
Now, there is a reason to be happy.

Little Cuter received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine and SIR gets his next week.  We are so close to having a fully vaccinated tribe; another reason to smile.

FlapJilly told us that after reading 3 chapters in my book, I just put my bookmark in and went to sleep. 
He little brother explained in great detail SIRs kindness in making ice in my water.... there is ice in there.  Facebook may be the work of the devil, but FaceTime has cemented our relationship with our grandkids that nothing in the Before Times had equaled.

I'm smiling as I type that.  This is really working.

I ran back to the market for three items - all of which were right there on display shelves as I walked through the door.  I didn't have to interact with the store beyond grabbing them and heading to the checker, where there was no line, and where the Hershey bars with almonds were still Buy 2, get one FREE!!! right there at the cashier.  TBG was a very happy man when he saw them on the counter.

I hung out with JannyLou, unmasked and acting like it was not unusual.  I'm scheduled to play mah jongg in real life with Scarlet on Saturday.  Tucker Carlson is right; if we're vaccinated we can be inside with one another, without masks.  The fact that visiting my girlfriends is now going to be part of my routine makes me very very happy.

I'm going to read the Treasury Department's report on the cyber security breaches.  I'll let you know if there's more than what's being reported; there was a lot in the Mueller Report that said (for all intents and purposes) if they'd give us the information we need, we could answer/prove/connect that.  I read all 408 pages and the 1100 footnotes, too.  The holes were gaping.  I'm excited to see if now they are filled.

Thanks for helping me plan and clear my brain.  Writing to you always helps, always makes me smile, always makes me feel connected.  You, denizens, are among the biggest grins of all.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

A Referral - A Snippet

I've begun and rejected two posts while I've been on hold.  

The phone tells me it's now been 10 minutes since I connected with my doctor's voicemail-from-hell system.  There was no obvious number to push from the instructions, so I hit O and moved from droning voice to soft rock blaring from Speaker Phone.

After 5 minutes I spoke to a young woman.  She listened.  She put me on hold.  She came back and asked my identifying information before putting me back on hold.  After 9 minutes she wondered if I had a fax number for that referral; back on hold after giving it to her.

Three minutes later, she's back.  Okay, we'll work on that and hopefully it will go out in time.

Hopefully???????  I explained that without that referral I was on the hook to self pay a really high bill that my insurance will cover if they send the referral on time.  

Don't worry.  I'm sure it will be there by the time of your appointment.

No, there was no way to have done this more efficiently.  The phone call I made to the PA on Monday was absolutely the right way to proceed.  

Why did I have to call again, then, I wondered as I hung up.  I don't need any more anxiety in my life right now.  

It's the little things that make the biggest difference, don't you think?  I'm not feeling the same love I felt when I saw the doctor herself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Subscriber Email Alert

Feedburner, the RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) feed is no longer really simple, at least for me.  As of July1, 2021, Bloggers's RSS subscription service will end.  

I'm working on setting up something new. In order to be sure you don't get left behind (at least I hope you don't get left behind),  please send an email to  That will put you on the list (which I should be able to find in Feedburner but cannot) which (I hope) I will import into the new RSS.

I'll be posting this at the end of my verbiage over the course of the next few months, too.  

A Virtual Baby Shower

Little Cuter's elementary school friends are now moms themselves.  The newest one to join the club was feted on Sunday... all day on Sunday.... by friends and family far and wide.  This is a brave new world, denizens, and they are extraordinarily comfortable there.

LilHil, whose family's dates overlap with ours in so many ways, hosted three events in a row.  His Family, Her Family, and Her Mom's Friends gathered for consecutive hours of introductions and games and memories and love.

How is it possible that these kids I drove to soccer practice are now seeking parenting advice?  

How is it possible that none of their moms look any different than we did when we sat at PTA meetings decades ago?

Her mom sat in a kitchen that was familiar to me.  Three women who've always been together were in one room, together.  It was like old times, only different.

LilHil was a master Zoom-ologist.  There were no awkward silences.  The games were silly (I either need to go back to the nail salon or subscribe on my own to People and US; my knowledge of celebrity children's names extended to North West and Prince George) but there was much chattering and giggling and somebody won a prize. 

The mom-to-be was gorgeous (but wasn't she always).  She told a story about us that I had thought of that morning in the shower.  Her mom and I nodded along as she told it, recalling an afternoon 17 years and a blink of an eye ago, when together we solved an insoluble problem.  That it made as much of an impression on her as it has had on me reinforced my belief in the importance of girlfriends.  

And there they were, girlfriends from raising the Cuters in Marin, at the other end of Zoomia.  I didn't expect to be able to connect, and yet we did.  It was a less than life but more than Facebook experience.  

I liked it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Sun Is Out and I Am Blue - A Snippet

I can list all all the causes for my angst -

  •     The lady who sneezed - maskless - over the vegetables at Albertsons yesterday afternoon.
  •     Taxes are due.
  •     We're traveling to Big Cuter's wedding next week - airplanes, hotels, restaurants......
  •     My irrigation is refusing to water two of my vulnerable roses.
  •     There's an HOA meeting next door at Fast Eddie's house and I wanna stay home and Zoom.
  •     The pool filter conked out after absorbing more than its weight in detritus; we haven't swum in 3 days.
  •     The trilogy about Henry the VIII I'm reading is pointing out the lapses in my knowledge of        history.    
Those are the facts.  The results are a stomach jumping around, a head that refuses to settle on one thought for more than 5 seconds, and hands that are shaking when they aren't otherwise occupied.

My blood pressure was super high at the dentist's office this morning.  

I need to begin my meditation practice.  I need to exercise every morning.  I need to eat 3 meals, regularly scheduled throughout the day.  I know all this.  I know, also, that nothing on that list is all that terrible.

And yet, here I am.  Head in my hands.  Typing though I want to weep.

I'm having a Post Covid Melt-Down.  I think I'll wallow in the sorrow for a while and come out refreshed at the end.  

At least, that's the plan.


Monday, April 12, 2021

A Strange New World

Olga's comment last week about it being "a strange new world out there" resonates in my soul.  I gave myself a sick stomach last Thursday, forcing me to cancel dinner plans next door.  I think I did too much too soon. 

Reading at Prince on Wednesday, a private session with The Pilates Diva on Thursday followed by a haircut and lunch out...... it was a normal middle of a normal week set in the middle of Pandemica.  It freaked me out.

By Friday morning, I was anxious about reading to another kindergarten class.  I could have cancelled, but my heart wanted to share Caps for Sale more than my brain was feeling reluctant.  I overrode my thinking and drove down to school.

I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Nothing was different than it had ever been.  There were bright eyes shining back at me - 25 of them where before, during hybrid learning, they were 12, two days a week.  Getting used to all those extra bodies on the carpet caused some consternation.  The boys in the back were talking and the girls beside them were fidgeting.  The littlest one with the tiniest face had a mask that was just not staying up over her nose; I could have fixed those ties if I wanted to get close to her...... the shot of adrenaline that coursed through my body as I considered a plan of action stopped me dead in my tracks.

Like I said, I couldn't wait to escape.

We imitated the monkey and wondered how the peddler got all those caps back on his head when all he has is that skinny little arm.  I put stickers on chests and appreciated the few thank you's which came, unsolicited, out of a few of them.  Normally, I'd have insisted on the polite recognition of a gift, but that would have delayed my exit.

I didn't stop to chat with the office staff.  I got back to the UV and took off my lanyard and my Coat of Many Colors and my mask and realized, with horror, that I had no hand sanitizer.  My hands never left the steering wheel all the way home; no way was I touching my face.

I shouted a Hello to TBG as I stripped and made my way to the shower.  I washed off all traces of school, then joined TBG in the pool and swam a half mile.  

I felt physically clean on the outside.  I felt invaded on the inside.  

I reassured myself that I was fully vaccinated, that teachers have been in classrooms, unvaccinated and unscathed, all year.  I didn't touch any one or any thing but the chair on which I sat, and the table to which I moved so that I could be higher and further away.  No one sneezed or grabbed me.  I was in the room with the scholars for 15 minutes.  

I'm fine.  I know I'm fine.

I'm anxious and overwhelmed and when I realized that there is nothing on the calendar this weekend I calmed down.... a little.

Little Cuter advises small steps.  She knows that I get excited.  She's suggesting that I tamper my enthusiasm and listen to my soul.  Costco can wait.  It will be there when I'm ready.  She's right.  I'm just not ready yet.

I will be Doing Nothing for a few days, and I'm totally excited by the prospect.

Who knew that I'd look back at Pandemica with fondness?

Friday, April 9, 2021

And Today, A Haircut

It's been more than a year since my hair has met a pair of scissors.  That's about 2 months too long. Up until then, I was amused by the length and the variety of embellishments available.  Then, my locks refused to come down from their pony tail; it took about 30 minutes before the up do relaxed.  And the ends were frayed and lifeless; pulled into a bun they weren't noticed by anyone but me.

I made the appointment the day I received my second vaccine.  It was a declaration of freedom, of a return to The Before Times.  I was only a little bit anxious.

The signs outside their new location said it all:  No Mask?  Okay.... see ya next time! stood on one side of the door, You Mask Up.... We Stay Open was on the other.  

I knew the owner, my stylist, had been vaccinated.  She offered me a chair away from the other patron, but since everyone was masked and she and I were full of Fauci Ouchies, I demurred.  I didn't know how she'd cut my hair while I wore a mask, but long hair is easier than short hair when it comes to that particular issue.  She was no where near my face or ears - that was new for me.

We caught up on our husbands and our daughters and my son.  She regaled me with tales of unmasked patrons at their brewery, and the subsequent encounters with the police.  Their brews are now in cans which they are marketing to supermarkets.  Pandemica forced them to improvise; the improvisation will be a second revenue stream once things really open up.

Without stray hairs falling on my nose, the haircut was delightfully itch free.  The conversation was delightful and the results were exactly what I wanted.  She had fun sculpting a new style, and I had fun showing off my new do to Lady Jane over lunch.

It was an absolutely normal day.

Why is my stomach in knots now that I am home?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Back At School

The scholars have returned to full time, in person learning on the campus of Prince Elementary.  Masked and socially distant, they walk in careful lines, stopping on the horseshoes that have been painted on the playground.  When I came around a corner, two little ones hugged the wall until I passed.

Grandma was back at school, and it was wonderful, despite COVID precautions.  

There were no hugs (sigh) but there were many many smiles.  Do you remember me? followed closely behind HI!!!!! from the mouths kids I haven't seen for 14 months.  They've all grown.  With masks covering half their faces, identification was spotty at best.  Of course I do! was my standard answer.  It sufficed.  

Grandma's Garden is a disaster.  Even the weeds have abandoned the space.  There are 2 stray yuccas, no doubt pooped out from a burrowing beast.  The aloe vera are flowering, but their leaves are brown and sagging.  I thought the irrigation was set to water every day; that doesn't seem to have happened.  The clean up will be fun for the kids and easy for me, supervising from my perch atop the stool G'ma used in her kitchen as she chopped veggies for salad.  I'll bring it out just for the occasion.  

And then I went to Ms F's kindergarten - 23 five year olds and 2 six year olds, according to the graph outside the classroom.   That's a lot of kids in one room, especially when they've been used to seeing half as many earlier in the year.  Small class sizes were a major benefit of the Pandemic Times..... though it seems churlish to wish for their return.

I read Caps for Sale and gave out stickers and no one tried to hug me (a first) as I stood to leave.  The teacher and I exchanged teary glances across the heads of her scholars.  We didn't have to say a word.  

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Tomorrow Is Not Promised

I'm sad tonight.  Almost too sad to write. and that strikes me as funny since I haven't spoken to her since she called me in the hospital to express her outrage at the NYTimes reporting on my shooting..

You are not 59 years old.  I know this because R'y isn't 59.  I know what year this is; you are both 58.

R'y is her brother and they are my first cousins and we lived next door to one another, our fathers working together and commuting together, then not; our parents best of friends, or not; but the kids never were involved in that drama.  

Instead, we ran the in and out of one another's houses, relying on their pretzels and our bread and butter for an afternoon snack, asking which ever mother was available a question, playing in whichever yard was available, the only real demarcation our swing set and their cherry tree along the back fence.

Every once in a while, she'd be  Annie Oakley with me, skulking around corners, snapping caps in the handguns we pulled from our holsters.  There were lots of silver stars involved, on our chests and decorating our accoutrements, which at times included vests with fringe.  She and the other big kids in the neighborhood would always play Red Light, Green Light and Red Rover across our front lawns. 

But mostly, she was an indoor mouse.

And what wonders were in her house.  4pm every afternoon it was Million Dollar Movie, sitting on the floor in front of her tv, watching old movies, the same ones over and over and it didn't matter because it was something nobody else was doing..... at least nobody I knew.  She was three years older and so much wiser, at least about certain things. 

I learned to read Seventeen magazine from the back page, where the new nail polish colors appeared. I don't remember ever coloring our nails together, but I remember the joy she took in painting hers. She introduced me to The Paperback Bookstore in Rockville Center, the first bookstore I ever loved, and to the notion of books in series, starting with Nancy Drew, then Sue Barton, Student Nurse; and others lost to the decades.  

She and her mother were ferocious knitters.  Everything they made fit perfectly and was exquisitely stylish, and looked perfect on their tiny frames..... at least that's how it seemed to me.  I wore her hand me downs, including the green and purple plaid plastic rain coat that I disliked with every fiber of my being.  She was an Information Operator one summer; I had a secret way to reach her.  

I visited her once, in college where I met her boyfriend's roommate.  We had a brief but torrid romance, for which I was too young and he was too serious.  And now that I think about it, it was my Spring Break and it could be 50 years ago this very week that she let me into her grown up world.  

She married the boyfriend under the tree between our yards; he was always just perfect for her. 

We grew up.  We saw less and less of one another.  But dad's as always, whether at her' dad's pre-funeral birthday party in New York or a family wedding in LA, though years had passed, nothing between us had changed.  We picked up right where we left off.  She was always just there, in the background, a presence, my Cousin. 

And today, she died.

She'd been sick then she got sicker and now she's gone.

I've spent all afternoon finding myself out there in the backyard, staring into their sunroom, seeing her read and knit and watch us run around under the sprinklers.  There are lots and lots of memories.  

There won't be any more.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Spring Has Sprung

This is  what I saw when I opened the blinds this morning.
The flowers are fabulous up close, too.
The yard guys were here and used their youth and strength to dig holes for my new roses.
They look much better now that they are out of their black plastic pots.  
This beauty shed her protective leaf soon after Matt put her in the ground.
And then, there are the pots.  My annuals turn out to be perennials and surprise me every year.  This pot in this spot was an unhappy home for a rose bush and a variety of refugee plants from other parts of the garden.  But the globe amaranth (Gomphrena Fireworks) comes back year after year after a drastic haircut in the fall, and the snapdragons reseed and flourish, creating beauty with no effort on my part.
  I was entranced by these pansies in the nursery and brought a bunch of them home.
It took them a month or so to settle in, but the hot days and cool nights have put a smile on their faces. 

Faces, you say?  The dog who lived with Nannie and Grandpaw when I met them was named Pantetta Jane Louise Marie Bertha Bernice Martha Viola Susan Linda Tallulah Sapphire, Pansy for short.  

Her black and white face was as sweet as these pansies.  The memories they conjure up are even sweeter..... creating another wonderful garden moment.

Monday, April 5, 2021

A Full Weekend

Pandemica is expanding her reach.  Before vaccination became available, there were very few choices. What began as restrictive soon became a comfort.  As long as we stayed inside our own personal space (and weren't we glad it is such a nice personal space) we were safe.  

Washing the groceries became unnecessary once the virus was determined to be airborne and short-lived on surfaces.  DoorDash and the grocery stores figured out how to keep us fed; no one came closer than the trunk of the UV or the pony wall at the edge of the courtyard.

There were no sports - to play or to watch.  There were no parties or meetings or appointments to keep.  There was just Pandemic. 

We soldiered on.  What does that call up for you?  I'm thinking of mindless masses walking in formation, following the orders from above, not knowing or caring where we are going or when it will end, just plowing along in an orderly procession, hoping that those in charge know what they are doing, knowing that that hope was futile, and yet carrying on just the same.

We had no choice.  The fox was in the henhouse and the farmer was no where to be found.  Then, Joe Biden was elected.  We started to sleep more comfortably, though the situation on the ground hadn't changed at all.  Once he got into office and things started moving, another kind of anxiety arose, though.  Now, we had to face A Return to the Outside World.

At first it was just an idea.  When we can..... fill in the blank with go out to eat, sit on a friend's couch, hug our kids..... just filled us with joy.  The notion of newness, reinforced when I walked into a Walgreens to get my first shot, was overwhelming.  There was so much where there had been so little.   

Now, there is more.  TBG waits until Wednesday until he passes into Fully Vaccinated Plus Two Weeks mode.  but I am two shots and two weeks plus into our new world. "You are chomping at the bit to get going, aren't you," was his response when we decided to embrace our new reality and invite Not-Kathy and Dr. K over to watch a basketball game.

We've been seeing them - masked and distant and outdoors - all year long, bringing our own cocktails to sit on their new roof deck, watching the sunset and quantifying our illnesses and our losses.  The visits were frustrating but fortifying.  Now, it seemed like we could actually do more.

Following the CDC guidelines, we determined that TBG would be safe, even though he was still several days from completing his two week waiting period.  We called him our One UnVaccinated Person, even though he's so close, and, since we knew that he had be rigorously staying away from pathogens floating in the air and we knew that the other 3 of us were protected by modern science, we agreed to have an in person, indoor, experience.

I cooked.  TBG cleaned.  I forgot that you have to start early if  people are coming over; I was barely out of the shower when the doorbell rang.  The guest bathroom mirror never did get wiped down, but our guests did not complain.  Knowing someone for 40some years adds a layer of comfortable not noticing.

We hugged.  We laughed.  We cheered and hollered and were so glad to have other people to share the joy.  The UofA women crushed UCONN, a result none of us expected and all of us enjoyed.  We ate dinner and dessert and found comfort n the little things we used to take for granted.  Not-Kathy was, as always, freezing in our air conditioning.  Dr K and TBG found that they share a fondness for AT&T's spokesgirl, Lily.  My roses were admired.  It was an ordinary Friday night, one we've reenacted hundreds of times before.

It was the best night of the last 13 months.

Friday, April 2, 2021

And Today, The Eye Doctor

Dr. Le retired last April.  I loved her and she's gone.  When I asked if her replacement was a nice and kind as she had always been, the response was heartening - If anything, she's nicer.

I didn't think that was possible, but I made the appointment anyway.  This morning, I was able to confirm the initial assessment.  She's absolutely delightful.

The office is in Walmart.  I know, that's a weird place to go.  I tried an optometrist in a private office when we first moved; I left before seeing the doctor.  The floors were filthy, the receptionist was rude, and there were too many waiting patients for the chairs available.  Later that week, I walked past the Vision Center at the Wally World around the corner, and it looked spiffy so I made an appointment and began my love affair with Dr. Le.  

For 15 years we chatted about our children, their education, their progress, and our roles therein.  I helped her with some things I knew about, and she kept my vision clear.  The new doctor told me I wasn't the only one who missed her.

Did you notice something that sets this post apart from the others in this week's series on reentering the world?  I started out without describing my fears.  

I parked at the wrong entrance, but everyone was masked and distant, once I got through the entryway.  An elderly couple was in front of me, she helping him get a firm hold on the cart, he not being very interested in moving, me standing 6' behind them and waiting.  

A Wally Worker cocked his head and wondered if I needed help.  No, I'm just being patient.  It's hard to navigate this new world.  They can take their time.  The much younger man behind me smiled over the social distance.  It was 9am and no one was in a hurry, if hurrying meant inconveniencing someone else. 

This is a change I can welcome.

I was the only patron in the Vision Center when I arrived, and only the 5 employees shared the space until the doctor took me into her little room.  She's received both her vaccines (I checked when I made the appointment) and was double masked with protective glasses, so my masked self felt comfortable sharing a close space with her.  Once I got into the chair and the exam began, my anxiety vanished.  

My updated prescription and I left the office feeling quite good about the whole experience.  My exit was unobstructed by other shoppers.  I showered when I came home, washing any stray cooties away. I had no residual angst.

Tomorrow, I'm having my first at a restaurant meal.  JannyLou and I are driving over together, another first.  We'll sit outside and feed our faces and pretend that things are just peachy keen.  They are getting there, slowly but surely.  

I feel like I'm ready to graduate from the bunny slopes.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A Big Deal

Look, here's the deal.  America is falling behind in infrastructure.  Bridges are in danger of collapse, 400 some of them in dire need of immediate replacement.  And how about those roads and no wifi in outlying areas. Our enemies are aware of our shortcomings, and are prepared to capitalize on them.  

Unions built the middle class and the middle class built America.  I have nothing against millionaires and billionaires and big, successful companies, but working class families shouldn't pay 22% of their income in taxes when Amazon pays nothing.  I have an idea to make them pay up, and it's a better deal than they had up until 2017.  

I'm not wedded to my funding scheme.  I welcome input and new ideas.  Just don't think about adding any tax burden to anyone earning less than $400,000 a year.

Oh, and we're going to replace every lead pipe carrying water to humans.  Every one should be able to drink clean water.

My plan is certainly big and bold, but America is good at doing big and bold.  There is nothing we can... or.... that is to say there is nothing we can't do if we do it together.  Historically, infrastructure has been a bipartisan issue.  Can't we all get along?  

$2,000,000,000,000 is certainly a lot of money.  But we're investing in our future.  Our children and grandchildren will thank us.
If you didn't hear Joe unveil his American Jobs Plan today, that's a pretty complete summary, gaffe reference and all.

I'm thinking about the grand spaces America used to build, about the difference the interstate highway system made in all our lives (and IKE promoted it as a way to move men and machinery during wartime, the same way Joe referenced our enemies finding chinks in our grid, today), about the beautiful new bridges and lead free drinking water and I'm feeling very glad about the state of our Presidency right now.