Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Found Time

Carol's comment yesterday allows me to continue the conversation.  Feel free to chime in below.

I made some fundamental changes in my lifestyle before we went to Little Cuter's house last month.  I decided to abstain from alcohol and Facebook for the duration of our visit.  

Given that SIR is a purveyor of wine and spirits, the first part of the resolution was a tough one.  He's always got something new to share, something wonderful and unusual and cutting edge.  While I did try a vodka/cucumber/sparkling, fizzy can, it was awful and I could only manage 2 sips.  SIR was not insulted; it's a new product and those were samples in the DBF.

 (Designated Beer Fridge, which lives in the garage and has, until the onset of parenthood, contained only grown up beverages.  Now, fruit juice boxes share the bottom shelf uneasily with soda and sparkling waters.).

I had no trouble declining a night time cocktail; I sleep better when alcohol is not involved.  I didn't lose any weight - which was one of the reasons I was abstaining - but I reassured myself that vodka and cranberry juice were not essential parts of my day.  There was nothing special missing from my life.  Ted Lasso was just as sweet and funny with a straight head.

Leaving Facebook was another matter entirely.  I've been aggravated with Mark Zuckerberg and the lack of responsibility he's taken for allowing his platform to be overtaken by crazies.  Don't publish information without an editor or two checking reliability.  Don't put out into the public space that which should be hidden under a rock.  You know it when you see it - You can stop it.

Sister to Niece, the Younger:  Didn't you go to school with Mark Zuckerberg?  Why didn't you connect with him?  He's a gazillionaire now.

Niece to My Sister:  MOM, did you ever try to talk to Mark Zuckerberg? He's awful.

Now, it's possible that I am giving too much credence to the disdain dished out by an annoyed adolescent, but nothing over the past decades has happened to change my mind.  Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.... and they fear because there are consequences to ones actions, even if you are the epitome of white privilege, protected from insult and injury by wealth and education, assured by birth and Harvard of smooth sailing through life.  

Profiting off the demise of democracy, knowing what they were doing, they were, as Daddooooo would say, laughing all the way to the bank.  I was uncomfortable with being part of the business plan.  

I posted that I was leaving.  Friends from afar were sad, and so was I.  I knew I'd miss seeing their  grandkids growing up.  I was giving up the comments on those pictures, the snippets that gave me a glimpse into the lives of those I'd left behind. Those connections became very important during Pandemica.  Those were the only friends I could see, the only random encounters for more than a year.  

There was the pandemic itself, and then there was Trump. Having someplace to vent my spleen (occasionally), to read that which only fueled my passions, to be able to like snarky truths as I struggled to feel anything but despair.  I never got  into binge watching videos of babies lip syncing Mick Jagger; I'd just check back all through the day, just in case anything happened..... anywhere....

I was drawn to it.  Even when the politics waned and I began to breathe again, I found myself in the time suck of Facebook.  And it was boring.  As people began to live real lives, there were fewer and fewer interesting posts. 

Or, I asked myself, was I just done?  

There was a lot to amuse me in Indiana.  There was always a child or two craving attention.  Losing at Uno (she well and truly beat me the first time she played) was a much better use of my time than scrolling.  Watching television without a device in my lap was a totally different experience. (It was always tv worth watching; this visit mostly Ted Lasso).

Toward the end of the visit, I removed the Facebook icon from my phone's screen.  It's hiding there in apps rather than taunting me as I scroll.  I can find it if I need it, but so far that need has not come up.  

I wonder about some of my friends, those who live very far away but who whose frequent posts made them feel like neighbors.  I may just collect land addresses and begin using some of the fabulous stationary I bought during Pandemica...... I bought a lot of stationary during Pandemica......  when I wasn't on Facebook, looking for adventure and connection.

By now, everyone who was ever going to find me that way has done so.  That's a good thing, because I haven't opened it since the end of May.  Occasionally, a notice will come up that the grandkids are making a photographic appearance and I click on the link without thinking further than GIBLET FLAPJILLY GIBLET FLAPJILLY.  I admire them and then I click away.  

I'm not tempted to delve further.  Not even a little bit tempted.  

Last night I read Vanity Fair while the Suns lost to the Clippers.  A year ago, I'd have had my face in Facebook, or a down a rabbit hole Facebook created for me.  Less screen time feels more virtuous, too.  I'm not sure if that's shaming or cancel culture or dismissive or haughty or why do I care..... I just know that it feels that way.

Carol, it seems that this is another cleansing, another lesson learned.... another consequence (?gift?)  from Pandemica.. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

What's The Rush?

Yesterday's post poked a bubble I've been bobbling for a while.  Carole said that since Covid, nothing seems urgent any more.  There are appointments to keep, but tasks and errands and much of what used to pass for everyday life is less pressing.

I really ought to go into the studio and resume my thrice weekly Pilates membership.  I'm marginally resistant because of the transmissibility of the Delta variant and my desire to visit the grandkids next month, but mostly I'm feeling okay with swimming every day and the Pilates Diva's Thursday morning studio session and push ups........ none of which impose themselves on my calendar. (except the Pilates Diva - but she's more of a gift than an assignment).

My empty calendar brings me great joy.  

I am surprised when things pop up. Unless I'm listening for my phone to beep and remind me that I have an event scheduled,  my participation in the random Zoom event cannot be counted upon.  I'm always sorry to miss these things.  I'm never sorry that I spent an afternoon existing without constraints.

Little Cuter is on her first month long vacation from work or school since she was 12 years old.  Today, because what had been scheduled for all day was finished (brilliantly) by noon.  She took a nap.  The kids were at camp, SIR was working, and she and Thomas the Wonder Dog slept. 

That's the feeling I embraced during Pandemica.  

Hmmmm, that couch looks very comfortable right now...

And when there is no one to say ye nay, how very much more comfortable that sofa becomes.

This may be a lesson learned.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Putting Things Off

I have to work on the email forwarding service since Blogger is no longer supporting it. (If you get The Burrow in your inbox and you haven't sent me your email - now would be a good time to do so.) 

I have to repair the plantings in all three of my giant pots and two of the littler ones.

I have a leak in the irrigation that must be found and fixed.

I am looking at the open tube which needs a goof plug right now.  It sits outside my window as I type.  I found the goof plugs last week.  Why I haven't shoved one in there remains a mystery.

I have a shirt which needs alterations; I have yet to do the required measurements.

My winter clothes are in a pile on my closet floor.  Their plastic tub is in the garage.  This situation has existed for longer than I am comfortable revealing. 

I told Big Cuter that I'd mail his framed college diploma this weekend.  It's Sunday at 5:08pm...... that's not happening.

There are bills to pay and a cleaning service to hire and my car has a recall which needs an appointment.

I know I'll feel better once I do all these things.  I know that I have to do all these things.  And yet........I do none of these things.

I'm not proud of it.  I don't like how I feel when I look at this list.  And yet.....I do none of it.


Friday, June 25, 2021

The Politicization of Masks Becomes Personal

They've been friends for years... 14 of them, to be precise. Their friendship survived one couple's moving a short distance away; it may not survive MAGA.

They have vacationed together and spent every holiday together, sharing the photos on Facebook.  Four grownups in the same neighborhood, four adults who enjoyed spending time with one another, four fast friends.  Avoiding politics wasn't easy, but the friendship seemed worth the discomfort.  After all, there aren't many people who will gladly spend a weekend helping you move your mother from independent living to assisted living, sharing hugs as well as the heavy lifting.

They understood one another.  They've watched their children grow and prosper. Their relationship was a bulwark, something on which they all could rely.

Then came Pandemica, spiced with a touch of MAGA.  No one was visiting anyone, not in person, anyway.  It was easier to keep the conversations neutral .... until a wedding invitation arrived.  

Having lived through a Pandemic Wedding, I know the bruises that arise when a young couple is ready to start their life together.  Ours was in April, every one was vaccinated, it was outdoors, and it was very very small.  Not everyone could attend, and that was heartbreaking.  But everyone understood the competing desires/needs/restrictions.  All questions were answered.  No relationships were severed.

So when my friend asked if there would be outdoor heaters (it's cool here in November) and if people would be wearing masks, because she would be wearing one, the shit hit the fan.  

This is not about you!  It's about ME! replied the bride, without any thought to the virus raging through our state.  In November we were worried about the holiday surge.  There were no vaccines.  There was only seclusion.... holidays without family were in the offing and no one was happy about it but everyone understood..... everyone but this bride, apparently.

My friend gets cold; asking about heaters was designed to inform her choice of outfits.  But the mask was a no-brainer.  MAGA hats be damned - she was not going out in public without a mask.  She's her mother's care giver; she could not afford to get sick. 

The bride was having one of it.  Two days before the event, my friend was disinvited.  Via email.  Harshly.  Without compassion.  

She cried.  A lot.  She'd watched this girl grow from her teens to adulthood.  She didn't care for the groom, but she considered the rest of them as her own family.  To have it wrenched away, to be barred from the celebration, to be dismissed because she believed in science ..... there was a lot to feel.

There's also a lot to heal.   They are working on it, slowly, gently, with most of the effort coming from my friend.  Big Cuter says that there is no reason to deal with MAGA people; they are wrong and they refuse to listen, they are obstinate, they are willfully ignorant, and there is no excuse for that.  My friend is trying to repair something that has fractured at its core.  She believes that Big Cuter is right.  She misses her friends dearly.

How did keeping oneself safe become a hallmark of political tension?  Why did the young woman start screaming at me last week when, in a masks required space, I asked her to stay 6' away if she wasn't going to mask up.  I'm not an F'ing Bitch who's too scared to go anyplace without a shield.  I was following the rules, protecting those who might just be at risk even behind their masks.  

A simple piece of cloth.  A means to keep the virus contained.  No shirt no shoes no service doesn't lead to screaming fits and the dissolution of friendships.  I'm just very confused.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Happy 2-Month-versary

 She loves that our Zoom name for weekly trivia is Queen T's In-Laws.

He uses the words my wife in every conversation.

It's more than love.  That's obvious to everyone who comes into their orbit.  There's always a smile, a rub, a kiss, a how ya doin' in there.  I've never doubted that for a moment.

I'm talking about how they are embracing the marriage itself.  

They could have lived together forever; we'd still have loved her as our own.  But they were emphatic about making a legal commitment.  They wanted the world to acknowledge their union. 

It meant something to them when they broached the idea of a Pandemic Wedding.  Being married was important and they didn't want to wait any longer.

Two months in, they still seem to feel the same way. 

 It's really fun to watch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

I love that the library is open, this time not just for outdoor pickup, or only for indoor grab-your-reserved-book-and-go, but for actual browsing in the shelves.  There were two youngsters getting their first library cards and there were two shiny new bestsellers on the NEW BOOKS cart right inside the front door.  I grabbed them both.

I started with Faye Kellerman's The Lost Boys, another in her series about the ultra-Orthodox widow married to the converted (but did he really have to??) homicide detective.  The plots are always interesting, the family dynamics are often compelling, and the characters grow with the passing years.  I don't have many main characters in my life who are also approaching 70; it adds an interesting dimension to the stories.

All of that was true in this book, but I spent much too much time screaming at the pages.  If ever a book were in need of a copy editor, it's this one.  After bringing a six pack to the table, a guest opens the can. No, you can bring the six pack and open a can... but it doesn't work the other way around.  

There was garbled syntax galore.  Something happens on one day at the bottom of one page and two paragraphs later it's happened the day before.  It got worse as the story went on.  First it was every 50 pages that I shrieked in horror; by the end, it was every 5 or 10.  

This wouldn't have passed muster in Ms Eiler's 12th Grade AP English class.  I can't believe Harper Collins was so lax.

I tossed that book on the Return to the Library space on the kitchen counter and picked up Harlan Coben's Win.  Coben is one of my favorite story tellers.  He's a writer in the vein of Dick Francis and Robert B. Parker; he lets the story tell itself while you pay attention to the characters/  

Windsor Horne Lockwood III is not an assassin - he's a sociopath who kills people when its convenient. He's fabulously wealthy and handsome and trained in all the ways to injure and maim which exist in the universe.  He's full of himself, but, as he reminds you frequently, he is worthy.  If that's off putting to you, you won't like the book.  If you want more of him, I invite you to dig in.

This one is edited to the bare bones.  There are no wasted words, let alone errant paragraphs.  I was sorry to see it end.

(I used to include what I'm reading in the sidebar, until I got so far behind I couldn't catch up.  Look for more on what's on my nightstand in the future.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Happy Birthday, Brother

He cut off his pony tail.... now I'm the only sibling with one.

He helped his daughter buy a coach house in Chicago, and stopped by Little Cuter's house in Indiana on the way... because the best way for him to get from Maryland to Illinois was to drive.... because silver metal tubes should not be zipping through the air.... and because he can visit the only members of the next generation in our little family.

He's always been good about keeping in touch.  He organizes the annual phone call to our sister, laughing at my reluctance to engage.  He doesn't mind her snark - which drives me batshit crazy - and insists that we call and sing (his version of Happy Birthday includes you look like a monkey, and you smell like one, too) and somehow she's never aggravated with him.

He loved the Cubbies and now he loves the Nationals. When the logo jacket I bought him for his 30th birthday in Chicago wore out (finally) I replaced it with the DC team for his 60th.... though I still hope he harbors some love for Wrigleyville and the boys, I have to admire his fortitude.  These are not teams that usually win anything.  He loves them all the same.

He has a straightforward attitude towards life.  He looks for balance - work, love, religion, family, society - and comes closer to achieving it than anyone else I know.  He's as self-sufficient a human as one can be.  He grows corn and builds wooden objets d'art and has stored more of our family's past in his shed.  

I miss him.  

Today is his birthday, and this is as close to a hug and a kiss as I can get.  I'll call and sing (the monkey will appear in my song, for sure) and let him make me laugh.  Sometime, soon, that's all going to happen in person.  Until then, he'll have to print this out and hold it to his chest.

That's all I can do for now, Brother Dear.  HOpe your day is fabulous - just like you!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Change Your Password - NOW!

I didn't want to change my password.  It was a unique set of letters and numbers and symbols, one that I've used for my banking,and only my banking, forever.

The system was not amused.  It demanded a change.

I tried to click through and continue as I always have.  No dice.  The computer was relentless.

Your security of of primary importance to us.  Changing your password (to one I haven't used before and will never remember again but they don't care about that) will insure the integrity of your account.

No one has ever questioned the integrity of my account.  Its behavior has been beyond reproach.  And yet, because their system demands it, that which has been working just fine, thank you very much, has to change.

I don't like change.  Especially when things are going along so well.  But what I like doesn't seem to matter.

The screen was insistent.  It would not be ignored.  

The new password is easy enough for anyone who knows me to guess.  I hope that I am in that category next time I log in.  

Yes, I've written it down, but doesn't that defeat the purpose of keeping it secret?  A remote hacker would gain access easily no matter how obscure a password I chose.  Someone breaking into my house would find the little post it note pretty easily, too.

And so, I bid a fond farewell to that which had served me, competently, quietly, without drama or angst, for lo these many years.  


Friday, June 18, 2021

Now It's Pod Season

The saguaros are sprouting side-blooms, a rare phenomenon caused by no one knows exactly.  There's a phenology lab at the UovA (phenology being the interaction between plants and the seasons).  Everyone sees them, everyone is mildly disturbed by them, and I personally am blaming them for the paltry display of flowers atop the saguaros I pass every day.  Almost everyone blames the drought and the poor monsoon last year for stressing the plants to distraction, but the phenologists caution that these plants live very long lives, and are adapted to our severe weather.

But I know they are stressed, because my paddle cactus (Opuntia englemanii) tells me so.  From a distance, she's gorgeous, white snowflakes on pink or mauve or pea green paddles.

Up close and personal, though, she tells a different story.  The white spots are the protective coating created by the cochineal scale, an insect who's found the perfect roadside diner..... and decided to stick around for a while. 
.  I'm not too worried about the health of the plant; the underlying paddles are fine . Rain  (if we get any), will wash off some of the remaining gunk. There's enough deliciousness to share.  As G'ma would say, it's a small bug, it can't eat that much (which was fine unless it was sitting in my food)

 This picture is after the insects have left, their coatings drying out and waiting for a strong monsoon rain and wind combo to clean things up.

The stress is not only manifested in the fact that the saguaro bloom was disappointing.  The birds are feasting on the unprotected seed pods, dropping red garbage onto my carefully manicured yard.  

It's possible that a baby cactus will appear from all this seed dispersal, but they are very particular about sprouting and the chances are unlikely.  

And then there are the palo verde and the acacia and the Texas Mountain Laurel, all of which are bent over with hard seed pods.  

The older they get, the browner and thinner and drier they become.  
The new ones are green.

The bunnies and lizards and ground squirrels are having a grand time at my restaurant.  

So was the baby bobcat I surprised one recent morning when I opened the front door.  Lying in the cool underpinnings of the Mediterranean vinca (the training variety) on the ground that was still wet from the morning's irrigation... I felt bad for disturbing her. (Yes, I decided she was a she.) 

By the time we realized what was happening, I'd taken a step back through the doorway and she was looking at me from the pony wall across the courtyard.  We had a moment or two, then she leapt off to other things and so did I.

It's pod season in the desert. 


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Where Did That Little Boy Go?

We used to stand back to back, comparing our heights, he struggling to be taller than I was, I enjoying the fact that there was someone in my universe over whom I could tower... or at least, peer.

Those days are long gone.  I swear he grew 5" since I saw him a month ago, at his brother's high school graduation party (which is a whole 'nother story.... wasn't he just in Montessori pre-school?).  He has long lanky legs that have sprung out of nowhere.  

He spends many of his mornings in basketball camp and his afternoons lifting weights at the gym.  I'm no longer needed for rebounding or as the pick in the pick and roll.  His friends drive him where he needs to go, and, in two weeks or so he'll be driving himself.

His mom would not sign off on his official license unless I thought he was ready.  

Are they ever ready?  They are infants at the helm of several tons of metal hurtling at alarming speeds over poorly paved roads surrounded by inattentive drivers, aptly described in Grandpa's Advice : They're all jerks.

But. I must confess, he can parallel park like a champ, can back up his unpaved driveway and avoid crashing into the cacti, can execute a 3-point turn, and pull into a parking space.  

He cuts his right turns a little tight (I found myself once again clutching the arm rest, pulling the car away from that curb he was just about to .....), but took correction to heart.  

And he can enter I-10, on an uphill, one lane, litter-strewn ramp, with giant trucks everywhere, merging gracefully at speed into the fray.  He can drive 75 miles an hour, buffeted by passing semis, and carry on a fairly coherent conversation.  

He knows that he is never to text and drive.  

There's only so much protection I can give him.  He's ready to fly the nest.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Unpaid Work

When we moved from Marin to Arizona, I vowed that I would no longer give away my work.  If I picked up a chore, I would be paid for it.

That didn't last very long.  I took on the newsletter for The Happy Ladies Club after a lengthy skirmish over attending Board Meetings.  There was no one else.  Please?  Pretty please?  Pretty please with sugar on it and a cherry in the middle?  I was incapable of resisting the request.  The job was a pain in every body part, from my head through my heart to my butt, which grew tired of sitting while I formatted something that could be both digital and hard copy.

I created and took on the Happy Ladies' care committee after I was perforated in 2011.  They were so good to me for 14 weeks, I felt an obligation to return the favors.  Over the last decade, though, setting up Meal Trains and sending condolence cards has become rote rather than rewarding.  There are others in the group who are looking to help out.  I am on the cusp of giving up that role.

When the Neighborhood Association needed help with landscaping, I took on that role, too - after making it perfectly clear that I Don't Do Meetings.  That worked until the whole Board quit (lies, deception, temper tantrums.... the usual for HOA's, it seems) and there was a need for someone to take charge.  I connived and inveigled and coaxed and coerced and got Fast Eddie onto the Board and then into the Presidency.  

When he called and asked me to come to his first meeting, I couldn't really say no.  He was stuck in that job because of my handiwork.  It would be cruel to abandon him.

Once Pandemica set in, our meetings were Zoom calls.  I could sit at home in my pj's, crocheting to my heart's content, listening and commenting without the video function enabled.  We made plans and set agendas and did what we could.  I fired one landscaper and hired another but otherwise didn't have much to say about anything.  Parking in the driveway is prohibited by our CC&R's; arguing with violators was never something I was interested in doing.

I listened and I supported and I was always on the outer edge of the issues..... until last week.... when a neighbor decided that the landscapers needed to be discussed.  Why did we change when the work was being done?  (The work wasn't being done.)  What's the price differential?  (There is none; the new company is doing more for the same price.)  

My answers weren't enough.  He replied to my let me know if you have any other questions with YES, I have more questions.

My mother would not have approved of the language I used when I read his lengthy screed.  Were we insulated from lawsuits?  Did they have the proper insurance coverage?  Was the HOA specifically named?  Did they have Worker's Comp insurance?  He needed the documents and there he was, making a formal request as a homewowner.

I spent half an hour taking the snark out of my response, then sent an I got your email and I'll deal with it reply.

What happened next made my heart sing. The men on the Board were furious - on my behalf.  They approached Fast Eddie, encouraging him to spank the complainer, defending my excellent work (they really do like the job the landscapers are doing), and worrying about my psyche.

Fast Eddie just laughed.  She's no shrinking violet, you know.  They wanted to knock on the offender's door and explain to him, in no uncertain terms, that attacking me was a non-starter, and certain to have consequences.  The only thing scarier than us going down there, he said, would be if we sent HER to his door.  

I'm smiling again as I type this.  That my neighbors have my back was a given - that they would be so outraged on my behalf was a complete surprise.  Fast Eddie received compliments on my accomplishments and concern for my well-being.  For someone who disdained meetings, this was an unexpected benefit of that which I had scorned.

Today I sent the requested documents to the annoying neighbor.  I also sent a thank you note to my fellow Board members.  They may make me rethink my aversion to seeing them in a group, in person, on a regularly scheduled basis.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

It's Really Hot

It's really hot. Triple digits hot. Barely a breeze, fry your skin, don't even think about walking barefoot hot. It's 1070 hot..... at 6:17 in the evening.  

I swam early this morning.  The water was a delightful 880. The heater won't have much work to do today.

I found the UV's sun shield last week; it had been hiding right in front of my feet for a year. I wondered about it, but I didn't miss it until a few days ago.  


I never left my car last summer, never came back to a steaming interior and a too hot to handle gear shift, never went anywhere that wasn't curbside or drive through.  Emotionally, this is much better.  Physically, I'm not so sure.

After running around with the grandkids, my life feels sedentary.  Having to accomplish all the outside chores and activities before 10 in the morning is severely limiting, and the early evenings aren't  any more hospitable (cf paragraph 1, above).  

After walking in Indiana, I was considering short hikes in Arizona.  Those are going to have to wait.  Once again, Tucsonans are choosing shady spots rather than those closest to the door.  No one is bicycling past me in the middle of the afternoon.  The dog park is empty until the sun goes behind the mountains.

A friend and her family moved to town today.  Their belongings will arrive on Wednesday. 

I texted her, commiserating about the heat,  telling her When we moved into our house in 2006, it was 1170

Her response was perfect. 

That's the Tucson initiation!

She's going to fit right in.  Welcome to the neighborhood, Taos Bubbe.

Monday, June 14, 2021


It's like putting on an old pair of slippers - every part knows exactly where to go.

The kid worry drops neatly into place, right at the top of my head and next to my heart, right there in the middle of my breastbone.

The husband worry sits below it, more gut-centric.

They sit there, pulsing, squeezing my brain as I work to remove them, bit by tiny little bit or one big NO! at a time.  Albert Ellis gave me that trick after he did a one hour session with a mother and daughter on a stage in front of a room of social workers - and declared them cured.  After the somewhat awkward applause ended, he offered each one of us a free session, right there and then.  

Just say NO!

Really.  Well before Nancy Reagan, Albert Ellis told me that when those bad dumb stupid thoughts were overtaking my brain, all I needed to do was scream, out loud, NO!  and they would be gone.  Strangely, most of the time, it works.

It's the anti-trigger, breaking the link between that loud noise and my inner collapse.  It's empowering. It's cleansing.  And, if you will excuse me, I'm going outside to do just that.

Friday, June 11, 2021

A Survey on Aging

Elzbieta and I have been emailing about my participation in a longitudinal study on aging; today was my phone interview.  It was a lot more fun than I ever imagined.  Feel free to intersperse laughter.  We did.

Right after saying that We'll do the MRI screening first. she began listing diseases and conditions and maladies, one more dire-sounding than the next, a never ending recitation of all that could go wrong with the human body.

Does this list get any happier?  

Nope.  But don't worry, if you haven't heard of it you probably don't have it.

Then on to foreign substances in my body. My hip - I knew the exact date without skipping a beat.  More metal, prostheses, piercings (which are apparently the jewelry itself, rather than the hole as I thought), pacemakers, hearing aids, cochlear implants, electrodes, electrode wires, shards of metal, had I ever worked in a metal plant, was I a welder..... it got weirder and weirder.

Then, she got to the good stuff:  Have you ever had a panic attack or an anxiety attack? Since when?  

Um, yeah. Ever since I was shot on January 8, 2011 while holding the hand of my 9 year old friend, who died.

Long pause as she entered my response. Then, Yup, that'd do it.

Things got even more interesting.

Are you claustrophobic?  I sure am.

Would you be willing to be inserted into a metal tube......

I didn't let her finish the sentence. There are no circumstances on God's green earth that could induce me to get into one of those things.

We laughed.  She thanked me for my time, put me on a list for non-MRI studies, and we hung up.

In retrospect, she should've started with those last questions.  And I should have paid more attention to the title of the screening.  But then I'd have missed 11 minutes of laughing on a sunny afternoon.  

No harm, no foul.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Is This The Future? - A Snippet

Either my uncle or my cousin was born today.  The other one was born on June 6th.  I have never been able to remember who goes where on the calendar.

There's an app for that, and I could use it.  But then I'd miss out on contacting one of my siblings and asking the question. On the app, all I'd get is the answer.  Via text or phone or email, I'll almost certainly get a story, too.  We'll bask in each other's company for a while, reliving old times that seem brighter as I age, and then go on about our lives.

I've been thinking about this ever since Little Cuter gifted her father Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.  As described by the designated reader, it's a dystopian outlook on our future, where algorithms can do everything better than humans, leaving nothing productive for our species to do.

I'm not sure that an algorithm can hug me as well as Little Cuter did last week. 

It sounds like one of those boxy shaped robots ruling imaginary worlds on Star Trek, or like the Krell in Forbidden Planet and yet every time I try to dispute it, TBG's got something to refute me. 

He's been depressed about it since his birthday.  That was January 2nd.  It's been a long 5 months.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021


Little Cuter captured this at the end of our first day in Indiana. 
Little Cuter captured this at the end of our first day in Indiana. 

That's just how I feel at the end of our first day back in Arizona.

Tomorrow,  I will be able to think. Right now, beyond describing my physical condition, I'm incapable of coherent thought.

However, if you want to read some fabulous thoughts beautifully written by my friend, Marian Thurm,  I heartily recommend her new book -  The Blackmailer's Guide to Love.  You'll thank me,  I promise. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Now We Know We're Old

Despite my best intentions to write yesterday, I was consumed with Giblet, and then FlapJilly came home from her first day of summer camp, and then it was time to eat another delicious dinner and tell jokes before the kids went to sleep and Little Cuter drove us to the airport.

We were ridiculously early.  The TSA agent wasn't wearing a mask. Neither was anyone else in the nearly empty terminal, so we found a quiet corner and removed ours, as well. It was 9:15pm.  The plane wouldn't take off until Eastern Daylight Time.

It was 2:40am in that time zone when we landed at Mesa-Gateway.  

Our bodies were not amused.  Everything aches, on both of us.  

The seats were narrower than they had any right to be, and they didn't recline.  The drop down table was teeny tiny and the raised seam down the middle made resting your arms and head down an interesting form of torture.

For this, we paid money? - as G'ma would say.

By the time we caught the shuttle to the hotel (no way were we going to drive 2 hours in the dark back to Tucson) and showered and climbed onto the deliciously comfortable bed, it was 3:30 in the morning... no matter what the damn clock in Arizona was mocking us with.

In our youth, we'd save money by taking the red eye.  Next time I book us a flight, I'm going to remember the in our youth part. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

A Neighbor's Story

The kids' garage sale was a a tremendous success.  Strangers and friends, Amish and bikers, day care owners and treasure hunters (stamps? coins? vinyl records?) perused the items strewn across the lawns and the driveway, collecting twenty-five cent sleep sacks and ten dollar juicers, filling the money aprons with dollars..... lots and lots of dollars.

And there were stories, lots and lots of stories.  Most of them came from Little Cuter, who regaled the buyers with the history of every item sold until she listened to herself and tried to stop..... and found that she couldn't.

And there was this story, which made my day.  I'll write it as I heard it:

My daughter turned 5 just before kindergarten started; she's the youngest in her class.  Academics are not her thing.

Her aunt asked her if she was making A's in school.

Nope, she said with a smile, I'm making friends!

That's a nugget I'll carry with me forever. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Social Distancing.... Or Not

While not many are wearing masks, everyone in Indiana seems to intuitively understand the concept of social distancing.  Shoppers stay respectfully away in the produce aisle.  Doors are held for me while standing as far from the opening as possible.  Park goers ask permission before they take the next swing.

That wasn't the case when friends ventured out to a Marriott property in Northern California.  

They'd been secluded for all of Pandemica.  She's immunocompromised and was unwilling to take any chances.  But there was a new baby and family they hadn't seen so he researched the policies of the various hotel chains and determined that Marriott, his usual choice, seemed the safest.

He was sad to discover that reality was far from the ideal.

In order to access the elevators, they had to cross the lobby.  That's the case in most hotels - you walk in the front door and cross to the reception desk, then waltz across the lobby to the elevators.  My friends had no opportunity to waltz, nor to stroll, nor to loiter or linger.  The lobby was filled with wedding revelers, drinking and laughing and generally having a great time all weekend - with nary a mask in sight.

He complained to the manager.  He complained to the front desk.  He was met with excuses, with sympathy, with incompetence.  No one was empowered to do anything beyond asking the guests to take themselves outside.  They didn't comply and no one forced the issue.

Though they are both fully vaccinated, they're still wearing masks and avoiding physical contact even with close friends.  At dinner last week, outdoors on a patio, we bumped elbows rather than hugging.  She's wary of putting herself at risk, with good reason.  She's been careful for 17 months, and came through unscathed.  They chose Marriott because their policies seemed designed to insure safety.  Swallowing their anxiety about being in a public space, about exposure to the unvaccinated, about being in the world at all, they chose what they thought was the safest option.

Leaving their room, returning to their room, doing anything using the hotel's facilities - it all required a massive leap of faith and an unhealthy dose of fear.  This was not an inexpensive trip.  It was almost impossible for them to enjoy it.

A stern letter was sent to the president of the corporation.  So far, there has been no response.

It's frightening enough to travel these days.  To be confronted with an untenable situation when all they wanted was to bask in the love of family seems cruel, thoughtless, and really bad customer service.   

When the property promises one thing but delivers another, the customer has a right to complain.  When my friends lives are put at risk, I feel the need to post about it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Infrastructure King

South Bend was a dying community.  Mayor Pete turned the main street from an approach road to the highway to a pedestrian friendly shopping district, and downtown is now a destination. 

He also created the most wonderful playground I've ever seen.  Soft ground over acres of accessible to everyone equipment,  none of which was too hot or too high or too scary,  all of which was just right.... for everyone.... even Grampa. 
As Secretary Pete,  he's certainly the right man for reimagining our nation's infrastructure.  South Bend is the proof. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


Gramma had a boo-boo on her toe. Walking through the zoo would be a problem.

Then Giblet asked if the boo-boo hurt.  Do you want a bandaid? I get you one right now.

He ran upstairs to the bathroom  and returned holding a really cool one which, after Mama opened the wrapper, he carefully applied to my pinky toe.
Love comes in many forms. Sometimes it is simply sublime.