Monday, May 31, 2021


This greeted us on our bedroom door. 
First graders write lovely notes.  The feelings we had stored in our hearts burst right out in a flood of tears. 

Little Cuter didn't think it would be a good idea to wake the kid up and squeeze out some more love. 

Being responsive and responsible grandparents is difficult, especially when you've waited 16 months and 26 days for this:

Sunday, May 30, 2021


The plane was delayed an hour.  We, of course,  were there 2 hours early. Wearing a mask for 3 extra hours wasn't part of the plan; TBG's mask tolerance was struck to the limit before we boarded.

Our 3rd seatmate was a lovely woman on her way to surprise her family.  Her legs were much longer than mine; sharing my foot space seemed like the friendly thing to do.  

We all read and napped and hoped that the plane would fly faster.  TBG availed himself of the free-with-an-Allegiant- credit-card Diet Coke.  I opted for my water bottle filled with ice tea. 

I reached for it.  I popped the button. The straw shot right up.... bringing with it a giant stream of liquid... heading for the ceiling before landing on my lap.... on my sweater.. on my face. 

Our seat mate had a wad of tissues pressed to my self before I realized that I was wet.  My white sweater absorbed most of the spray,  turning it to ecru as I watched in horror.  The seat belt sign was on,  so I couldn't rinse it out.... not that I had another shirt to swap with. 

And so, as TBG massages his swollen kneecap,  and the lady to my right does the same, I sit between them holding my pant legs away from my skin,  my sweater away from my chest,  wondering about the physics of liquid escaping upward while flying through the air. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Too Excited to Think

Yes, it's true - I am too excited to compose coherent thoughts.  

TBG and I leave tomorrow to hug our daughter and her family for the first time in 18 months.  We're seasoned post-Pandemica travelers, having flown last month for Big Cuter's wedding, so the airport scene and the whole flying thing aren't terrifying.  They are annoying, since we'll have to be masked throughout, but that's all.

We'll arrive after the littles are asleep, but we've been promised a rousing GOOD MORNING!!!! 

Like FlapJilly told her mother, I'm too excited to sit or lie down or stand up - it kind of hurts inside.

And so, to spare you any more blather and drivel, I'll counter the cicada stories from back east (climbing on legs, landing in hair, too noisy to bear) with this wildlife scene from my courtyard right now:

This little fella was under the window, having dinner, for quite a while.
Then, he hopped over to the fence to see what the mourning dove was looking at.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, denizens.
I know that TBG and I will be having the time of our lives.
We've waited half of Giblet's life for this.
I'm going off to imagine my daughter's arms wrapped around me.........

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Do I Have To Decide?

C J Box writes one of my favorite series.  Joe Pickett roams the mountains of Wyoming, enforcing hunting and fishing regulations and solving complex murders with the aid of his falconer friend and the women in his life.  He's a complicated man living a life I can only imagine, and C J Box describes is so that I feel that I'm shivering in the cold, right along side him.

The public library is now open to visitors.  We are asked not to browse, so I picked up my reserved book and moved over to FICTION to find another Hilary Mantel opus.  I was waylaid by the new location of New Fiction, from which I picked up Dark Sky, the latest Joe Pickett story, and a new shelf labeled Aren't You Lucky! which yielded three James Patterson books - perfect for getting between me and preparing for the visit to the grandkids.

I came home at 11, and, except for an hour out to swim and talk to the kids, I read straight through until 4.  It was a fine, fun, fast read.  Though filled with polemics, and certainly not his best work (quarantine was hard, and took a toll on C J Box, too) it raised interesting issues (the focus of attention is on a faux-Mark Zuckerberg) and skirted around others (was it incest or the interwebs that led to the suicide?) but it stopped me in my tracks when a reliable narrator made a  reference to an antifa rally.

There's no such thing.

Antifa brigades believe that Nazism would not have gotten a hold on Germany if people had taken to the streets to break up their rallies.  In that vein, when white supremacists gather, antifascists show up to disrupt things.  They are often violent, but they don't surface except in response to fascists in our streets.

They don't hold rallies.

I had to pause when it came up in the book.  Ignorance?  Stirring up the masses?  A dog whistle?  

And, more important, does it make a difference?  Do I have to avoid him like Kevin Spacey films?  I take comfort in the fact that I took this from the library, so he's not directly profiting from my experience.

Life is very confusing these days. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

What Day of the Week Is It? - A Snippet

I thought I'd have a better handle on the day to day.

I thought that being able to go out and about would help me hold onto the days and the months.

I've long ago given up remembering the date; once I've paid the bills on or around the 29th of the month, I'm clueless.  When we weren't going anywhere it didn't matter if it was Tuesday or Sunday.  TBG took care of the television, but we weren't watching anything in particular on any day in particular so that didn't help, either.

But now I have an appointment every Thursday morning with the Pilates diva.  I have to stay more connected; I slept through one session already.  

The fact is, I'm not trying that hard to know.  I find myself missing the endless flow of one day into another, with only our meals to break the routine.  

This having things to do and places to go and people to see stuff is hard.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Tudors

I'd never heard of Hilary Mantel until she was a question (twice) in our weekly on-line trivia game.  She won a Man Booker award for each of the first two novels in her trilogy about the court of Henry VIII.  Embarrassed that I was unaware of a literary giant, I downloaded the first  book from Kindle Unlimited and requested the second two from the library, in hard cover.

They are 600 and 700 pages, and more; while the books were heavy, it was easier than scrolling through it on my screen.  I read most of Wolf Hall on Lenore the Lenovo, sitting at my desk like an 18th century schoolkid, reading by sunlight.  The find feature was really helpful since I knew absolutely nothing about the Tudors, despite having taken a course on them from the Humanities Seminars.  (I won't link to it because it was awful and I don't want to smear what is otherwise a wonderful program).  

There's a cast of characters in the front of the book, to which I returned much too often for fluidity's sake.  That may have contributed to my mixed feelings about it, although the fact that Ms Mantel refers to Thomas Cromwell, around whom the plot (and the Court) revolves, as he had a lot to do with it.  I was constantly confused about who was saying or doing what. 

But I plowed on. Bring Up the Bodies raced by like a modern crime novel, though one with the touch of a bodice ripper.  I  was two thirds through the trilogy with only two wives gone; the last book, The Mirror and The Light, is less about Henry and more about Cromwell.  It is intimate, inward looking, reflective, where the first two books were outward facing, setting the stage for what was to come.  I have been thinking about it since I finished the last page this morning.  

It's revealing more and more about itself.  It's left me hungry for more - from this author, sure, but more about the history itself.  TBG and I watched Young Bess last night, and I was able to fill in some historical gaps that would otherwise have confused me.  The movie filled in where the book left off, and though both are fiction I woke up this morning feeling like I knew a little bit about the lives of the last of the Tudors.  

See that?  I now know that Henry VIII's offspring were the last three Tudor rulers of England.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Things I No Longer Know How To Do

I can easily locate the appropriate cleaning supplies in the appropriate room with the appropriate amount of searching- which is none, because each is in the first place I look, because that's how I decided where to put them.  

That happened during Pandemica, when I was cleaning out of boredom.  Now that life is on its way to normal, I find that I am impressed by the convenience, and wondering why I haven't done the rest of my house the same way.  It feels like a gift from the Pandemic.  

But there are things that I lost during Pandemica, and each one makes me smile.

I have no idea how to pack to visit Little Cuter's family.  I know that I have clothes there.  What they are is a hazy recollection of some favorite pieces and then lots of nothing.  And then there's the issue of size.  There is more of me than there was in late 2019 - not much, but more than pants with snaps have encountered recently.  

I've decided that it's a good thing she has a washer and dryer and a neighborhood yard sale while we're there at which the discards can be given new homes.  I refuse to bring luggage.  

Speaking of luggage, I have a collection of suitcases with rusty hinges and torn seams clogging the closet space in the garage.  I am usually really good about donating and recycling and sharing, yet since I discovered this before our first foray out into the world (for Big Cuter's wedding) a month ago, I've been tripping over them as I get into and out of my car.  

You'd think I'd do something about it, but I seem to have lost my oomph to do more than one thing in a day, and, even then, two days in a row out of the house feels untethered.  

I've forgotten how to multi-task, because for so long there were so few tasks.  I'm not sure all that busyness needs to be recovered, but the absence of my ability to cope is of note.

I'm getting better at not judging the wearing of masks; I'll wear one whenever I go out with the grandkids - in solidarity with them and to protect against the slightest hint of disease getting into their bodies.  Uncle Joe and the CDC could've done a better job at the roll out,  and I know the science says there's a miniscule risk of transmission, but as long as FlapJilly wears a mask at school, Gramma and Grampa will be wearing them with her.  

But there's this: do I hold doors for people when I am unmasked and they are masked?  Do I hold doors at all, even when masked?  The science says yes to both, but I find that I am not the only one who no longer knows what to do where etiquette is concerned.

Reality is taking some getting used to.

Friday, May 21, 2021


There was no monsoon to speak of this year.  Our winter rains were pretty much non-existent.  The oleander across the street receives no supplemental irrigation; its owner has a row of dead and dying plants behind his fence, but directly in my view.  All over town, there are trees barely holding on to life.  

Our oasis (the areas closest to the house) is well irrigated, and everything is fine.  The irrigation drops off toward the street, where the plants are drought tolerant and the water hasn't flowed in years.  New plantings get a deep soaking, and everything gets really wet down two or three times during the summer, but for the most part, what's out there must fend for itself.

I lost a few little cacti and one barrel cactus early in Pandemica.  I thought of them as dying in sympathy for what was happening to their humans.  They were outside the view from my desk window, so their absence didn't make a dent in my life's experience.

But yesterday I came home to find this:

Fallen. Dead. Sad.

It's right by the driveway so I see it all the time. 

The gardeners are on hiatus until July.  It's too heavy and too prickly to be moved by anyone I know and love.  

I heard Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist, talk about trees on NPR.

Simard says that trees have been known to share nutrients at critical times to keep each other healthy. She says the trees in a forest are often linked to each other via an older tree she calls a "mother" or "hub" tree.

She goes on to urge that dying trees not be culled.  Rather, they should be left in the ground until they are good and truly gone.  During that time, they are sharing nutrients via an underground fungal network.  

Now, she didn't mention the same thing happening with cacti, but I don't see why it wouldn't be true.  Go forth and multiply is the prime directive for all living things, and those things living in our harsh environment need all the help they can get.  

So, I'm not going to worry about the dessicating carcass.  I'm going to admire it and encourage it to send its potency to the other plants nearby. 

That will feel much better than being displeased by a toppled over plant in the front of my house.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Things Are Starting to Go

Together, TBG and I have never lived in a place as long as we've lived in this house.  I'd plant gardens and leave them to flourish for someone else.  Every appliance was always new and state of the art, every room freshly painted, every floor waxed to perfection.

Like the proverbial car ashtray, we sold when things started to get dirty.  Or so it seemed.  

We only bought one "used" house; and I spent one overwhelming afternoon with our friendly repairman who fixed the Thermador double oven, the KitchenAid dishwasher and the pop up kitchen fan before refusing to look at the recalcitrant disposal.  You've spent $900 already today; I can't let you run up a bigger bill.  

That was in the late 1990's.  The invoice included parts and labor, with no discount for the lunch I served.  

After bopping around the country, and from house to house when we settled in one city, we found our forever home here in Tucson.  That was 2006; the appliances were bought before the house went on the.  According to the man from Budget Blinds this afternoon, our Hunter Douglas shades are 17 years old.

No wonder the cords have frayed.  No wonder the track is damaged.  No wonder slats have fallen off the track and needed scotch tape to hold them on.

It's all being fixed and replaced and the general sprucing up will remove a minor annoyance.  I know, though, that this is just the beginning.

We've been through a number of disposals, a dishwasher, and a microwave.  I'm sure that nothing lasts forever.  I'm just waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Further Dilemmas in the Saga of the Mask

The Post Office sign recommends that I wear a mask inside.  I glanced through the glass door, saw the masked man on the other side, and slip my face covering on.  All the patrons were masked, as were the employees.

The tellers in the bank, and the associates in their offices, were all masked, as was I.  Their sign is pretty straightforward : Put Your Mask ON before you come into the lobby.

Knowing that they were required, I masked up after gathering my cart and myself together at Albertsons.  I bought a red bell pepper and two apples.  I was in the store for less than 5 minutes.  

Even before my vaccine that visit wouldn't have set off any alarm bells.  So I wondered what it would fell like to be mask-less in my grocery store, to be able to hear what others were saying, and to have them hear me.  

I have a loud voice.  It carries.  Until Pandemica no one ever asked me to speak louder.  Unmasked, I'd be able to watch the speakers' lips and I wouldn't have to speak up.  I could wear my hearing aids with impunity; putting on a mask is treacherous business when there are already devices stored behind the ears.  

Beyond that, it wouldn't have made a difference.  My mask is comfortable and I wasn't there long enough for it to become annoying.  But I was uncomfortable, nonetheless.  I'm not endangering anyone else by breathing free.  Dr. Fauci told me that the breakthrough outbreak on the NY Yankees proved it.  Thought they tested positive (part of their employment) none of them had symptoms.  This, Dr. Fauci told me last night, means that the vaccine is powerful and will protect me, and it will create a virus load so low that I will be unable to shed disease, even if I become infected.

So, why am I wearing a mask?  

To keep the employees safe?  Why, if they are vaccinated?  If they are not vaccinated let them wear a mask, both to stop the spread of the disease them may be carrying, but to protect themselves as well.  

I will make sure that any possibly unvaccinated, disease spreading, fellow shopper will not get within breathing distance of me and my cart, and I'll assume everyone else is in that category.  I'll keep myself safe, because that's my job.

Not wearing a mask would be inappropriate where it is required.  If I don't like it, I can shop someplace else, or use curbside pick up.  But when it's not required, there's an entirely different calculus.  

At Lowe's Garden Center today, I was blissfully unmasked and happily socially distant as I cruised the outdoor aisles, filling my cart with treats for Ms E's 5th graders.  Some patrons wore masks.  Most were smiling back at me from the parts of their faces that have been covered for so long.

Joe Biden was right.  Americans do like to smile at one another.  We should start doing it more often.... I hope.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Stones and Bricks

SIR has taken home improvement to the next level, and then some.  Little Cuter calls him her Super Hero; he accomplishes more in less time than is reasonable for a mortal human.

This weekend, he unloaded three yards of gravel from his Dad's truck into his own backyard.  The first load was quick, backing the vehicle up to the gate and tossing the stones over the area where grass refuses to grow.  The second load was anticipated, and unloaded with even greater alacrity when it became obvious that a third yard was needed..... and the supplier closed at 3.

By the time the third yard was spread evenly and the truck was returned, we were on FaceTime with their family, admiring his work.

At the same time, their neighbor began eyeing the mailboxes that live on his front lawn; the kids' mailbox is there, right next to his, allowing the mail carrier to go up one street and down another without missing a house.  Many in the area have decorated these spots, with flowers and seasonal flags and decorative edging.  Their mailboxes have remained unadorned..... until yesterday.

As my son-in-law was hauling gravel, his elderly neighbor stood, arms akimbo, studying the situation.  At some point, 15 bricks appeared at the site, and Pete was still standing.  Over the course of the afternoon, amid much more contemplative examination, those bricks were placed in a circle around the posts holding the boxes aloft.  

Little Cuter has hopes that Mrs. Pete will plant flowers.  SIR was amused at the endless staring.  I suggested that, perhaps, Pete hoped SIR would cross the street and offer to help.  

Just another day in the suburbs.... and we'll be there in 10 more days to see it for ourselves. 

Monday, May 17, 2021


Whole Foods is no longer sanitizing cartsw, but is requiring masks inside the store.  Approaching the plexiglass encased staff temperature check booth while putting on my mask, I motioned to the 20-something chatting away on her cell phone without a mask in sight.  

I guess we're not taking this mask thing very seriously any more, eh?

He laughed.

Baskin Robbins requires masks, too, even though the worker bees and I were all vaccinated.  Two young women came in at the end of our conversation, and one volunteered that she was vaccinated too.  Her friend made non-committal hand gestures while nodding.

Then we should all be comfortable taking off our masks, right?  

We all agreed, but kept ourselves asked, anyway.


Albertsons is still sanitizing carts, but the outdoor workers don't have to be masked.  Inside, once again, face coverings were required and I complied, seething under cloth I really didn't need to wear.

Saturday night we drove Fast Eddie and JannyLou to dinner at Dr. K and Not-Kathy's house.  None of us wore masks.  We all hugged.  We shared serving utensils.  We ate indoors.  Despite the extraordinary number of dietary restrictions present around the table, we managed to create a feast.

This is like Thanksgiving was said more than once.  


Breadsmith's wanted my face covered.  At this point, I was tired of repeating If we believed the science and stayed home, now we should believe the science and unmask.  

The issue is trust..... and for this I have let the former guy into my brain again.  Did anyone worry that the polio vaccine was an evil plot?  Was smallpox eradicated by fear of a vaccine?  No, because the leaders stood up and said Do It!  That the airwaves are transmitting the lie only makes my heartache even worse; we own those airwaves and we ought to have oversight that demands the truth.  

I felt guilty all weekend, whether masked or not.  What message was I sending, and to whom?  Was that woman glaring at me in the parking lot squinting because of the sun or trying to tell me I'm a sheep for wearing a mask....except that would be backward, since now wearing a mask outside means you are unvaccinated......

How about a barcode stamped on my forehead?  I'm just about ready.

Friday, May 14, 2021

It's One Of Those Moments

My son is happily married to a wonderful woman.  His professional life is taking off and their pig has accepted him as Leader.

My daughter and her family are happily ensconced in a home they love, a home filled with laughter, and affirmations, and words.  

My husband and I are reasonably hale and hearty.  

The bills are paid.  There's food in the fridge.  All the appliances are functional.   

And now the CDC says I don't have to wear a mask.  I don't think I'm rushing out to WallyWorld this afternoon, but I'm no longer in the market of color coordinated face coverings.  (Nancy Pelosi won that battle a year ago, anyhow.)

It's one of those rare moments in time where everything and everyone is okay. 

I'm going off to enjoy it. 

Have a great weekend, denizens.  I'll be back on Monday with thoughts on being unmasked in a brave new world.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

We Are Having Milk Shakes for Dinner

There's a bunny in the courtyard right now.  

He's all by himself, which is unusual; two together is the norm.  But, here he is, gently hopping into the excavation surrounding my rose bush.  There are no flowers, only the hips, and he doesn't seem interested.

He's a graceful little fellow, soft and well-fed and inquisitive.  The one eye I can see is huge and dark and whirling around in its socket, mimicking the big ears that have just perked up and are twitching ................

Up on his hind legs, head swiveling, then 6 hops and he's gone, under the pony wall, through the drainage hole, away from the birds searching for their dinner.  He's pretty big for most of them, but the hawks would grab him up in a moment.

And, in the time it took me to type that (much longer than it took to happen) he's back, out in the front yard, investigating the stones and being eyed by a mourning dove, sitting atop the saguaro's newest arm.

It's dinner time everywhere, it seems.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A Shortened School Year

I had high hopes for Grandma's Garden this year.  I was going to install the irrigation system over the hanging baskets, getting the 5th graders to figure it out with me.  I was going to pull every weed and flatten every divot and smooth every hummock until walking without searching for impediments was possible.  

We were going to grow strawberries and tomatoes and lettuce and carrots.  Radishes of all descriptions, including the giant daikons, would top off our salads.  I hoped to start gourds that would be ready when the next school year began.

Those plans will wait for next year, when we can all be back in the garden together.  This school year ends in 8 days.  We are really behind schedule.

There will be summer school, and the number of registrations has surprised everyone.  Two summers ago there were not enough enrollees to run the program.  This year, our cup runneth over.  With the summer's  STEM focus, my little corner of their world will fit right in.

But what to do about the 5th graders from Virtual Garden Club?  We were planning to do experiments from home, then school reopened, now it's ending. Somehow, our plans never came to fruition.

So, tonight, I'll be searching the interwebs for pots and saucers.  I have seeds and soil and plant markers.  We'll gather together in the garden and put our treasures together all at the same time.  They can take them home and tend to them over the summer, a reminder of their days in elementary school as middle school looms before them.

It's the least Grandma can do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Really Random Thoughts

12-15 year olds can be vaccinated against COVID-19.


Liz Cheney's out and the twice impeached former guy leads the news and the talking heads can't get enough of him and I just don't care.  I refuse to participate in his resurrection. My life is lovely without him.  


A town in Japan bought a giant pink squid with the pandemic assistance funds the government sent their way.  It's a tourist town and they figured this would help them in the future.  I can't decide if I'm appalled at their disregard for immediate human suffering or if I'm enchanted by their optimism.


The East Coast's main gasoline pipeline has been hacked for ransom and the news is worried about what it will do to prices.  I'm stuck at pipeline has been hacked for ransom.  This is not a good thing.  This is a serious attack on our infrastructure.  Someone ought to be sounding an alarm, not worrying about how much it will cost to drive down to see Grandma this summer.  


As the world reopens, the laundry expands back out into the directions it explored before we became shut-ins.  There are many more categories.  

This is both a good thing and a bad thing.


It's The Yellow Season here in the desert Southwest and the pollen is everywhere.  Acacia are just starting out as the palo verdes are finishing up and it's just weeks and weeks of little yellow flowers everywhere..... inside the bbq and on top of the pool and inside the door if you don't close it quickly... and yes they are beautiful, especially against the bluest of blue skies, but the allergens keep us on edge.

As long as it's just a scratchy throat or itchy eyes we're pretty sure it's not minor COVID symptoms.


Did I mention that teens can get vaccinated?  It's possible that littler ones could be eligible by summertime.  

Isn't science grand?

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Mother's Day Snippet

Among many other wonderful celebratory interactions, I kept coming back to Giblet's video message.

Dressed in his just-like-daddy outfit, his opening comment was Happy Mother's Day, Grampa!

Much hilarity ensued, as he was prompted and failed to say what everyone expected him to say.  Instead, it was a word salad, created by a young brain that's just learning to put thoughts together in paragraphs, that's working overtime to keep up with what's churning, that sometimes just has to smile and say all the loving words he knows.

Thus, it was happy everyone day, with our names mixed together, our genders confused, and all of us smiling and laughing and loving.

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Getting Back to Normal

It takes practice.  I have not had enough.

Just today,  I stopped by Grandma's Garden to water the newly planted baskets without wearing my mask.  I entered through the back gate, thus missing the signs on the front door reminding me that We Wear Masks at Prince.  There were no scholars on the playground or in the garden with me.  I turned on the hose and was gently sprinkling the baskets when a timid voice said Hi, Grandma Suzi.

I turned, I smiled, and I quailed.  The child was at the gate.  My mask was in my car.  I explained why she couldn't come in, repeated it to the younger boy who came a minute or so later, and got out of there as soon as my task was done.  

I sat in traffic going across town to Scarlet's house for mah jongg.  I sat in traffic coming home to swim with TBG a couple of hours later.  Heavy traffic around lunch time was not unusual in the Before Times.  When I ventured out a year ago,  I was struck by the empty streets.  Today, the traffic was a surprise, reminding me that vacationers are returning (and driving without paying attention to where they are going) and workers are back in offices.  

NPR was talking about a remake of Music Man opening in the Winter Garden Theatre this fall.  I began thinking about taking FlapJilly and her mom to The Big Apple for a girls' trip...... and smiled.  I haven't planned ahead in a very long time.

The Pilates Diva and Little Cuter made the same point recently - there is no reason to revert to all our pre-Pandemic craziness.  If we need a break, we should take it.  Why feel pressure to over-perform?  Sometimes, just getting through a day is triumph enough.

That was all excusable during Pandemica.  Why should we stop taking good care of ourselves now that the world is reopening?  Spending a whole day reading a book was a fabulous way to pass the time when there was no one to visit and no place to go.  Now that the world is loosening up, why is that same activity less valuable?

Maybe this post needed a different title?  What's Normal Going to Be?  seems a bit more appropriate.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Jigsaws and Conversation

When the kids moved 45 seconds away from SIR's parents, I worried that it would be difficult to create the kind of bond that proximity breeds.  It's the little things, I thought.  The ring pop Papa brings every time he drops in, Maga's store of crafts and tea sets..... how could I compete with that?

It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I wrote letters and sent presents and we would, every once in a while, try a video chat.  TBG and I visited as often as we could without feeling like an invading horde.  It was fine; we made our own memories and they were powerful and wonderful.

Then Pandemica hit.  Instead of flying to visit last March, FlapJilly and I spent an hour or two every day or so, drawing and reading and talking on Zoom while Mom and Dad tried to work and care for a toddler.  As things sorted themselves out, and the family returned to some semblance of order, we'd settled into a lovely routine - dinner with the grandkids, brought to us by FaceTime and our daughter.  

It was a chance for Little Cuter to download her day into sympathetic ears, and for the aching hearts of lonesome grandparents to be blanketed in the chaos of home-dinner-bath-bed time without leaving the comfort of our own home.  We've probably spent more time with them this year than we ever have before. 

But my favorite times are when FlapJilly asks if her mom will connect her to Gramma so we can do puzzles together.  A combination of laptops and iPads and cell phones lets us move the pieces on the same puzzle, always leaving the last few for FlapJilly to finish off  before the dancing and cheering icons on the bottom of the screen prompt us to get out of our chairs and move with them.

Today, the phone rang and the kid herself wondered if I wanted to do puzzles.  Usually shy on the phone, this was a new step on the path to girlhood.  And there was more.  She's reading the descriptions - Mongolian horses at sunset - and chatting up a storm.  She's enjoying the chapter book we sent.  Her cooking subscription box arrived, and Peruvian Pupusas are on the menu for this week... along with many jokes surrounding the work pupusa.

With a Cinqo de Mayo theme, the Talking Cards asked relevant questions, although which South American country would you like to visit left my granddaughter with a perplexed look on her face.  I chimed in about the giant telescope array in Chile which will see deeper into space than ever before before her mom came in and read the recipe for fried flatbread with cheese and announced that it had a spot on the meal plan.

It was drivel and it was silly and it was certainly not profound.  It was an amusing way to spend an afternoon at home; I was still in my pajamas when she called at noon.  During lock down, this would have been the highlight of my week.  It's one of the things I'm going to remember to hold on to as things start to open up.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

They Really Didn't Want My Money

(This follows a piece of yesterday's post.  Reading that will fill in any gaps.)

All the relevant parties being vaccinated and on vacation and available for hugging, it was time to buy tickets to see our grandchildren.   My excitement was tempered with the overwhelming number of choices and decisions to be made.  Which airline?  Which airport?  Which days?  

I gathered my thoughts and my phone as TBG watched the NFL Draft, hour number nine zillion and twelve, and failed dramatically to purchase round trip airfare on Allegiant.  Yesterday's post was written before I rewarded myself by opening the tabs and choosing flights and dates and seats and once again being rejected.

After the third time the laptop reset itself to the box for my email and refused to accept the reservation, I began to take things personally.  The Live Chat Now told me it was my devices' faults and not their system at all.  Sometimes people have to clear their history and their caches and turn the computer off and then on again......  it was the on again that made me scream out loud.

Plus, the fares were now $400 more expensive than they had been when I started way back on Saturday night.  We began considering our options - wishing that COVID didn't preclude our taking the train from Midway to South Bend.  I decided to enjoy the sunshine and stopped trying.  

This morning, armed with an even more detailed description of my daughter and her family's activities for the foreseeable future, fortified by the hummingbird considering the crepe myrtle outside my window, on my turned off and then on again computer I logged on to my profile, chose flights and seats and used my points and my voucher (amazingly not rejected as it had been a few times during this odyssey) and was, once again, reset to the email box..... over and over and over every time I clicked on Purchase.

I dialed the appropriate phone number even though the Chat person said it was less busy between 9pm and 4am Pacific time,  She must be right.  I just got a busy signal, not even voice mail.

I was seriously pissed.  

Channeling all that energy into my iPad, I went through the very familiar steps, having memorized the voucher's numbers and letters by checking everything to be sure I hadn't made a mistake at every step along the way.  If nothing else, it was excellent mental exercise.

Miraculously, the price was lower than it was yesterday, and - even more miraculously - it stayed that way until I clicked on Purchase.... held my breath.... and was rewarded with a confirmation number and an email and an itinerary that only took five days and $200 to acquire.  

High speed rail is looking real good right now. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Getting Back to Real Life - Random Thoughts

My cell phone rang today.  Twice.  

It hasn't rung twice in one day since Pandemica began.  Texts come through on a regular basis, emails pop up and are quickly answered, but a ringing phone that demands to be spoken to was a rarity.  

The first call was from my Cousin Ilene; we don't speak often enough.  The second call was from a Phoenix area code; I picked it up with trepidation.  Usually, the 602 calls are from Amy from Health Care Services reminding you.... I've never heard more than that, hanging up before I scream futiley at a recorded message.  This call was from a name I recognized.... but couldn't immediately place..... though she identified herself with the expectation clear in her voice that I would know who she was.  

Awkward.... until I decided to laugh at myself, concede my faux pas, and move on, promising to attach her name to the phone number now living in my contacts.  
We're planning a trip to see the grandkids.  I want to go today, but that's unrealistic.  I have their vacation dates and school dates and the airlines' calendars up on the computer screen, hiding behind the tabs next to this one.

I tried to do this on Saturday night on my phone, while TBG was watching blather about the NFL Draft.  Every time I pressed Purchase These Flights an error message occurred.  They had changed the prices and I had to start again.

At the third rejection, I gave up.  By waiting until today, I've inflicted a sizeable monetary penalty on our trip.  It doesn't seem quite fair, but then, why should it?  The only coughing and unmasked passenger on our last flight was wearing an airline employee polo shirt and name tag.  
Walking outside without my mask is my reward for being vaccinated.  It is not a statement that I don't like masks (I don't, but I understand their utility and I put up with them for the good of the whole).  It's enjoying the privilege my vaccination has earned me.

I still feel like I should have a bar code tattooed on my forehead, announcing to the world that I'm safe to be out in the world.
We went to dinner with Dr K and Not-Kathy last night.  We ate outdoors, on a socially distanced patio, with a fully vaccinated server, and food that none of us had to cook or clean up.  

We even had dessert.

It felt marvelous, if somewhat more anxious than usual.  Instead of trying to eavesdrop on conversations, we were alert for the errant sneeze or cough.  Luckily, there were none.

We might even do this again.
SIR asked about our emotional reaction to being out in the world.  He and Little Cuter have been keeping their family secluded, venturing out only for FlapJilly's 5 days a week in person school and Giblet's day care so Mommy and Daddy can work.  There have been no indoor adventures, no family visits, no restaurants.  

We admitted to the sense that something is not right even when we knew, intellectually, that we were fine.  Believing in the science is one thing.  Getting my heart and soul to join the parade is something else, entirely.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Danger of On Line Bill Paying

BBVA bought Compass Bank, my neighborhood banking establishment with the friendly tellers and loan officers and managers.  The website experience didn't change all that much, nor did the in bank experience, nor did the drive through experience.

This week, though, the on-line banking wouldn't load.  The verbiage told me to update Chrome (it is up to date; I checked, just the way they told me).  I turned off the computer, unplugged it, and didn't restart it for a long time.  I got the same error message.

I could access the app on my phone, so I knew I was still a customer.  But it's not set up for paying all my bills at once; figuring out my path through new steps in small print was more trouble than the never found benefits.

This was April 29.  I waited for April 30, hoping that a new day would bring a new result.  Nope.  Magical thinking didn't work.  What a surprise.

I took a check from TBG and went into the bank to deposit it; I didn't trust the scan at home feature by this point.  Moriah, my favorite teller of all time, referred me to a senior administrator.  He promised to help.

We went into his office, he took my phone, and scrolled and clicked and did all the things Android users do to establish that the app is properly installed and that my credentials still worked.  I didn't have to change my password - that was a good thing.  Other than that, he thought that I would be fine.

I wasn't.  I went home and it was still telling me that I don't have access to my account because Microsoft's support for your web browser ended on January 12, 2016. To continue to use our online services, you must upgrade to a current version of Google ChromeTMMozilla Firefox® or Microsoft Internet Explorer®.

It's an interesting error message, since I have had full access to my account through that web browser, on which (incidentally) I am typing to you with no problem.  I followed the HELP instructions and found that, as I noted the day before, Chrome is fully updated.

The banker gave me a phone number, and told me which option to push.  Unfortunately, I waited until today, Sunday, to call.  They aren't there until noon, Central time.  I wanted to have my bills paid before I started my day.  Guess that plan is moot.

The issue is that I have no idea how much I owe to whom.  All my bills are delivered electronically to my bank, showing up in Bill Pay like clockwork.  I assume they are still in there.  I just can't access them.  

TBG has been railing against putting everything online for years.  He says it's not safe, not secure, not as tangible as the paper bills he holds in his hands, as the paper checks he wrote this morning and is now driving to the post office to place in the drive through mail box.  Until now, I've been firmly on the other side, looking at paying bills as a faux video game, clicking merrily through and having the machine do the math.

Today, as I stay on the line to speak to the next available representative....... oops.... even though it is 10:03 here in Tucson .... and Google reassured me that it is 12:03 Central Time...... and the recorded message says that they are open Sunday at Noon Central Time..... I listened to a lengthy recorded message which ended with the hours they are open... which is now....  and they are telling me they aren't there..... Our offices are temporarily closed...... and now it's 10:14 Central Time and they are still not answering the phone.... as they have been every time I've called.

I really do want to pay those bills.  The companies will not be amused if I don't.  Alas, the information is stuck in cyber hell.  It looks like I'm going to have a long afternoon, calling the phone numbers on the back of my credit cards and paying bills by phone.

Paper and pencil...... right now I'm longing for the olden times.

(After much too much time spent listening to the same message, I opened the link in Firefox and paid everything that needed paying.  Through Google, I'm still stuck.. On the phone, I'm still stuck.  Thank you, Firefox, for connecting me to my finances.)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Do You Get The Burrow via Email? READ THIS!!!!!

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.