Friday, July 30, 2021

Mr. Pack Rat

How unusual - NOT!  You have droppings in your courtyard, just like everyone else in Tucson.

That was the gist of my conversation with the lovely lady who answers the phone these days for Mr. Pack Rat.  After agreeing that the only way to fully protect my home would be to install a plexiglass dome over the entire property - and a lengthy and laugh filled discussion of our business model - she found an opening the very next day.

Well, that's only perfect, said I.

And so, this morning, hours earlier than promised, Eric came to inspect the scene of the crime.

Yes, those are pack rat pellets adorning my threshold.  I considered taking a picture, but some of you are eating breakfast right now and I'd hate to put that in front of your oatmeal.  Small, oblong, dark black - I left them in place so that the technician would have evidence.  

He says I can sweep them up, now.

He combed through the rosemary bushes inside and outside the pony wall.  He found piles of bougainvilla flowers, but they are disorganized, not neatly packed as in a nest.  He thinks the rat was sitting amongst them, chewing on the plant products he'd nibbled off my containers.  It didn't seem like a nest.

Who knew that pack rat nests were fancy?  Not I, certainly.  There are 5 nests outside the back walls, but there's been no infiltration into the back yard.. This is good news - we don't like finding little rat bodies floating on the surface of the pool.  Our drainage openings are well constructed, too; nothing is living inside the walls themselves.

After a thorough inspection revealed no clues, Eric suggested 2 live traps placed in the courtyard for 2 days for $50.  Their permit requires them to check the traps every 24 hours.  Eric is confident that he'll capture the varmint the very first night.

We'll be entering and exiting through the garage door until the beast is captured and the traps are gone.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Happy Birthday, FlapJilly!

Mama, next weekend I'll be 7.  

It's true.  I was there when she was a backache the night before she was born.  It can't be labor, Mom; the baby's not due until next week - that was the first grandmotherly comment to be dismissed out of hand.  

It's also a touchstone moment - babies don't often do what they're supposed to do when they are supposed to do it and good parents, like Little Cuter and SIR, learn to roll with it..... even when it includes projectile pooping.  It's amazing how well you can control your gag reflex when it's your own personal human creation looking up at you through her screams.

And then the random screams become burbling sounds of discomfort and the solutions, though always changing, are, eventually found.  Smiles and laughs and recognition; food smashed all over your face and hers, adventures in the real world, and, always, WHY??

School friends and cousin friends and encountering the outside world on her own - and making a place in it for herself.  She's grown out of babyhood, living firmly in childhood, and enjoying almost every minute of it.

Opinions are formed.  Music is now a shared experience -Taylor Swift, please.  Reading chapter books starring glittery unicorn princesses, finding balance while making turns on a scooter, cracking an egg without dropping any shell into the bowl - her body and her mind are exploding.

She's 4 feet tall - and proud of every inch.  

Today is her special day.  Deliveries and purchases and plans have been made; thinking about them while we talked today made her shiver with delight. 

Happy Birthday, darling GrammaDaughter.  Grampa and I love you very, very much.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Watching and Weeping

I watched the most manly men wipe tears from their eyes.  I listened as they retold their stories.  I was mesmerized by their bodies and their language.

These were big guys, with ribbons on their chests and fidelity to their oaths. In their hearts, they were broken.  

Name calling.  Eye gouging. Kill him with his own gun.  

I found myself leaning forward, hands gripping one another.  I wasn't crying, I was watching and learning.

I remember..... 

I remember, too.  

At least the deniers were few and far between back in 2011.  The most powerful moments this morning were those damning the elected officials who said it was all love and happiness.  Let them go over to Donald Trump's house, if they're so full of love.

They are looking for the truth.  They called out the former president.  They gave the Committee their wish list - who and what needs to be brought to light.  

And then it was finished. 

I took a little trip to the outside edges of PTSD this morning.  It was a reminder of how I felt every day of the former guy's presidency.  I hope that America can do justice to those defenders of the Capitol and its inhabitants that day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Exile - Books Worth Reading

I didn't realize that last month would be filled with stories of exile, and yet, it was.  I didn't plan it that way.  The universe provided the material and I drank it up.  I'm a little les anchored in my personal space, but in a good way.  Thinking makes it so.  

My rolfing therapist handed me this, and told me I would love it.

She was right.  I looked at the world with heightened sensibilities after seeing it through the eyes of a young girl growing up.  Why she and her father are alone in the world seems less important than the lessons he's teaching her, until the outside world intervenes and changes everything.  Modern conveniences take on extra dimensions, the simplest tasks are revealed as bewilderingly complex, and through it all there is a serenity and a hopefulness baked into the protagonist's DNA.  

Read it, then breathe deeply.  You'll feel the difference.

I reread Nora Ephron's Heartburn as a palate cleanser; her snarky prose still makes me laugh.  Then I picked up Madeline Miller's Circe and was, once again, in exile.
The Olympians and the Titans fight like the Hatfields and McCoys, and Miller makes them seem just that real.  Another young woman alone on an island, although this one consorts with Hermes and argues with Zeus.  Did you ever wonder about Scylla's origins?  Have you thought about Minos's reaction when his wife gave birth to the Minotaur?  And why would he name the beast after himself, anyway?  Those and so many other mysteries are described and explained and made real.... even as I knew they were not.

A knowledge of the gods and goddesses helped me.  Having read the Iliad and the Odyssey I had a ready made place in my brain for the questions Miller raised.  Bringing Penelope and Telemachos front and center at the end turned those stories somewhat askew - and I loved it.

I sighed when I read the last page.

From Little Cuter's office at Notre Dame, I took Call Me Zebra,

a fantastical picaresque, a jumble of quotations and philosophy and history, and a sad sad story of a young girl uprooted from her Iranian homeland and deposited in the outside - alone, well-read, but poorly prepared.  This is not a light read; every sentence is laden with meanings.... many many meanings.  There are references to literary figures unknown and known to me; at times it seems that the author's boundless knowledge has vomited upon the page.

But Zebra's internal journey, her commitment to discovering the why's of her exile, her single minded focus on expecting the best from everyone and schooling them when they fail to meet her standards, kept me gong through the rough spots.  

It's hard to dislike a book when a one of the main characters is a suitcase.

Yuval Noah Harari's Saipiens

tells humankind's history through comics.  The author visits laboratories and cave paintings and fossil finds while teaching evolution. It's easy to pick up and put down, giving you time to ponder.  The drawings are complex and full of random fun - the background characters in the airports and train stations deserve your close attention.  This one could be shared with middle and high schoolers; it's sure to provoke conversation.

And now, I'm going on to the newest translation of the Aeneid, by Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer
It's readable and enjoyable and maintains the meter and rhythm of the Latin (or so the reviews and her introduction told me; I'm not a Latinist so I can't say for sure.)  After all these stories of exile and displacement, I'm happy to return to the mother of all these adventures.  

All the same questions present themselves - Why not go home?  Where is home?  What if home no longer exists?  Is the journey more important than the destination?  What does all this tell me about myself, beyond what it says about the characters contained within its pages?

It's been a great month of reading.  I hope you like some of these - and that you tell me what you think in the comments sometime.

Monday, July 26, 2021

An Entirely Unusual Experience

The Olympic Games began, and no one seems to care... except, perhaps, for the Japanese people who are protesting outside the venues.  Their country is hosting an international super-spreader event and they are peeved.  Akio  Toyoda refused to attend the opening ceremonies even though he's CEO of Toyota, the major investor in the games.  That was probably a smart move, given that masking was sporadic and vaccination uncertain.  I'm not sure about Japanese politics, but Toyoda's absence made a statement that even I could understand.

The Opening Ceremonies were in stark contrast to the Chinese games'.  Instead of masses of humanity beating drums in sync, there were shapes and lines and solitary dancers exercising in white bloomers while colored lights played on the arena.  It was artful and somewhat interesting but we turned it off when the camera focused on a person on a treadmill.... for a very long time..... until s/he fell off and lay in a hump.

It wasn't a ball or a reclining figure - it was a hump.

The US gymnasts and swimmers stayed away - standing for hours among possible vectors for the disease the day before their events were contested seemed like the smarter move.  The swimmers gathered for their own ceremony, locking arms in a giant circle and singing the national anthem.  It was a wobbly circle and  the voices were somewhat off-key - it was nothing less than reminiscent of color war at summer camp, and in that, it was heartwarming and welcoming and a sweet way to start off a weird Olympics.

It's on the television all day long.  We watched archery. Robin Hood would be perplexed by these bows and arrows, although the targets look just the same as the ones he shot at against Matt of Sliwa in the movie.

We watched the men's 8's and 4's and the women's 8's - that's rowing for the uninitiated.  These are not multiple scoring events, yet the  long pull and glide across flat water was oddly mesmerizing and exciting.  We found ourselves rowing along with them, wondering if one arm was bigger than the other since it was doing most of the work.

These are the thoughts one has when sports slips from the front of the brain into the mush in the middle.  We were brought back to reality when the commentator began to describe the role of each pair of athletes - strength, guidance, technique are equally divided between them.  

I spent some time wondering what my life would have been like had I known that small people with loud voices are perfect coxswains.

There was shooting, with rifles too heavy for the contestants to hold for longer than it took to aim and fire.  One round was all I could stomach; we switched channels and watched tall, fit women in skimpy bikinis play beach volleyball.  It was more fun to see them dancing across the hot sand than it was to have the end of a rifle pointed at my face

Women's handball.  Volleyball for both boys and girls.  Fencing. A road race that went on forever, and was repeated on every channel.  The American men's gymnastics.  The camera angles were odd, the announcers odder still.  Arcane points of order, incomprehensible scoring, competitions between Norway and Korea - we watched it all.  It's the background as I'm cooking, as we're Facetiming with the kiddos, while we're talking to Queen T and Big Cuter for an hour.

There's nothing that demands our full attention - perhaps Simone Biles will do that for us.  Not even the swimming could hold my interest for long; 400 meters is a long time to watch unidentified bodies move through a pool.

It's the production values that have suffered the most.  There is a blond woman with a British accent who shows up from time to time to tell us what we'll be seeing next.  Mike Tirico stands on a deserted patio in front of  perfectly placed bonsai trees on perfectly spaced tables and teases us with what's to come. Mary Carillo was there, subdued and not funny at all.  There are no personal profiles of athletes training in the far corners of the world.  There are videos of watch parties back in the States, there are after event Thanks, Mom! interviews, but not much more up close and personal stories than you'd find in the evening news.

Big Cuter likes the sports and dislikes the human interest pieces; I'm sure he's happier with this scaled down version.  I, on the other hand, miss the spectacle.  I miss the roar of the fans; the empty stadiums are creepy and seem to overpower the athletes.  The void is overwhelming.

It's an odd event in an odd time in our odd little world right now.   

Friday, July 23, 2021

Going Backwards

The last time we flew home from South Bend, we were the only people in the waiting area.  It was early June, we were vaccinated, we were sitting alone and far from the few other travelers who were leaving Indiana at 11pm, so we took down our masks and breathed free.  

We weren't worried.  If we believed the science and stayed home for 14 months, we have to believe the science when it tells us we are safe was our mantra. 

All that has changed in the past few weeks.

Of course, we masked up whenever we went anywhere with FlapJilly and Giblet.  If the least among us could not be protected we would take all the precautions we could - to protect them and to show solidarity with their predicament.

As soon as you get your vaccine, my love was the all too frequent answer to horseback riding and eating inside a restaurant and traveling to Arizona... and it shouldn't be.  If everyone who could get vaccinated did get vaccinated I could have taken the kids to the library when the weather turned ugly.  Not that we didn't have fun at home - SIR and Little Cuter have created a paradise for kids of all ages - but there is so much world out there to explore.  

In the airport on Wednesday we kept our distance and our masks and found ourselves aware of every cough and exposed nose.  I went to Costco that afternoon and I wore my mask.  JannyLou and I masked up when we went out to lunch.  We were very glad to be sitting at an out of the way table in the back.

This doesn't have to be happening.  People are dying who might have been saved.... who probably would have been saved.... and who certainly wouldn't have served as a host for who knows what other variants might be percolating out there and I am slowly losing my mind as this threatens to happen all over again.

Little Cuter hugged us at the airport and reminded us that If there's even the hint of another pandemic, you are coming right back here... or maybe we will come to you  - you have a pool.

 I want them to be able to visit rather than flee.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

A Travel Day

All the planes were on time.

We only had to walk fast through two terminals at DFW, and climb up the stairs to the SkyLink tram because the escalator was broken to make our connection.

We had no third person in the row on either leg.

The time change has us very confused, as does lack of sleep, breathing recycled air, and not eating very much at all.

In short, denizens, I'm too exhausted to have anything meaningful to say, although I read several fascinating books that I am anxious to share with you.  Tomorrow will be better, I'm sure.  For now, excuse me but I'm going to take a nap.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Beautiful Day

FlapJilly stayed home from camp to play with her grandparents today.  Her mama didn't have to work, either.  TBG and I were surrounded by love.

We were on our way to Einsteins for bagels when the littlest member of our party decided that McDonalds would make her happier - so that's where we went through the drive through.  I know that their orange juice is delicious; TBG brings me one after he spins.  I didn't know that the blueberry muffin would be as good as it was.  I'm not a sausage and egg girl; the muffin kept my tummy happy.

FlapJilly's favorite place in the world is her mother's work place - the University of Notre Dame.  We parked by the lake, hoping to enjoy our breakfasts on its shores.  Unfortunately, the entire space was fenced in.  There was to be no picnic this morning.  

Instead, we headed to the grotto.  It's a spiritual gathering place, with candles to light and a kneeling bench for prayers.  There were lots of prayers..... some arriving on bicycles, some on scooters, some in strollers.  We sat and explained it all to FlapJilly, who nodded solemnly.  The benches around the perimeter were filled with grown ups reading and women chatting and us - three visitors who couldn't get enough of it all.

Strolling through campus, we admired the giant hardy hibiscus in colors I'd never seen before.  There were plaques on every tree, on every bench, on every statue and art installation.  Notre Dame has a lot of grateful alumni, and the campus is living proof of that.  

Little Cuter considered that Landscaping should be her next job - riding in a golf cart, weeding and planting and pruning and creating beauty every day.  

Since I forgot my phone in Tucson and TBG's flip phone has no internet connection, we made a quick stop at Little Cuter's desk to print out our boarding passes and say hi to her work friends before we continued our tour.

Father Hesburgh's library, Touchdown Jesus, Stonehenge, the steps of the Administration Building, the Presbytery - I haven't walked that much since I was perforated.  My hip hurt.  My heart swelled.

The little one cried as we left.  Transitions are hard for her, but this was deeper.  She really loves Notre Dame, with every fibre of her being.  Leaving ripped off a piece of her heart.  We reassured her that she'd return soon, that she could attend as a student, that it would always be there for her.

As Big Cuter said - I wish I could love something as much as FlapJilly does.

Monday, July 19, 2021


Getting shot outside a grocery store was unusual.  We weren't prepared for the bullets; we were waiting to shake the hand of our Congresswoman.  

I imagine the people who brought their children to the Washington Nationals' game last night would also say that bullets and the stadium were an unusual combination.  Once again, a special treat for special kids turned into a nightmare.

In Tucson, bullets flew for no reason and left an EMT in critical condition and the neighborhood in tumult.

Was it the heat?  Was it a personal vendetta?  Was it random chaos?  Does it matter?

It seems to me that one ought to be able to enjoy the world without considering whether bullets will fly.

It seems to me that children should be able to cheer their team on to victory without having to dive into the dugout to escape mayhem.

The toll this takes on grownups is something I can talk about with conviction.  A balloon popped as we were leaving Party City on Saturday morning.  I was staring at the sidewalk when the noise stopped me in my tracks.  I shook.  I took deep breaths to calm my heart.  Little Cuter hugged me as my hands quivered. I spent the drive home trying not to break down - the combination of the sound, the view, and FlapJilly's proximity to what sounded like another gunshot had pushed me over the edge.

Well behaved humans should have the right to go to a game without fear of gun violence intruding, despite the 2nd Amendment's proponents who think that their right to bear arms trumps my right to the pursuit of happiness.  

I wish there were legislators who understood that as well as those of us who've been there/done that.  Until that happens, we're all doomed to be ever vigilant.

It shouldn't be that way.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

She's Leaving Town

Many different religious groups visited me after I was shot.  Only the Jews came with food - a Shabbat dinner worthy of King Solomon.  The conversation was lively and felt comfortable; though none of us had met before, the cultural connection was strong enough that it didn't matter that we were strangers.  

Among the visitors was a writer with a purple streak in her hair.  Her charge was to write about the short Jewish girl from New York who'd been perforated while participating in American Democracy.  What happened was a friendship.

Her car was covered with stickers supporting choice and voting and equal rights and all the other things that Jewish liberals believe are good.  Those decorations kept her from replacing it long after its expiration date - they were hard to part with.  

We'd have breakfast or brunch all around town, chatting up a storm about our children and their children and her writing and my blogging and politics and growing older.  It was the growing older part that interested us the most.  So much was happening, so much was changing, and we still had the energy and the passion to try to influence the future..... but we weren't getting any younger.

Life was going on far from us - where the next generation was raising their progeny.  It was so very very hard for us to be so very very far from them.  

And then a bcc'd email told me the news - she's leaving Tucson for Minneapolis.

Tucson has beautiful weather and many human connections but it's missing the one thing that is most important - her grandkids.  They and their parents live in the frozen north.  Pandemica proved something to her - that is too far from Arizona.

Her granddaughter's name is a combination of her grandmothers' monikers.  Her grandson is growing so quickly she just can't keep up from a distance.   The parents like her and she likes them.  Though she visits frequently, there's nothing like being right there, all the time, sharing the child care responsibilities and the fun.

Spending time in Maine this summer, surrounded by family who joined her for a summertime idyll, solidified her decision.  Saying goodbye was hard.  She decided that she wasn't doing that any more.

And so she's leaving, on Tuesday, for a one bedroom apartment close to the kiddos, far from the friends and adventures she's had here in the desert.  She'll be in a place with theatre and music and family.  She'll dance and write and hug.  I'll miss her smiling face, her sunny attitude, her determination to right the wrongs of the world.  We'll still email.  We won't be having breakfast.

I understand all her reasons.  That doesn't mean I won't miss her.  A lot.

Happy trails, my friend.  Send postcards.  Come to visit anytime; there are always clean sheets on the guest bed.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Aging Out of Parenthood

There are reasons women don't give birth in their 60's.

Giblet took us to the fire station and pulled the string for the siren, honked the horn, turned on the lights, and got a sticker and a trading card for his troubles.

He took us to the park and went on the swings - super high and super fast, in his estimation.  The big slide was too scary (thank you, god of grandmas) but the little slide and the bouncing horse were almost as much fun as the bouncing fire engine..... even if the wheel in the park was very small, not like the wheel on the real fire engine which was super big.

He ate lunch and took me through his pre-nap routine, and fell fast asleep.

So did Grampa and Gramma.

It was five hours of nonstop chatter and entertainment and motion.  Five hours of managing the rapidly shifting emotions of a three year old.  Five hours of love and hugs and tantrums and running and Look At Me!

There's a reason young women are fertile.  If raising young ones were left to old ones, there would be a lot of kids raising themselves as their caretakers struggled to keep up.

We two, at least, are totally out of shape for the project.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Little Hugs

They were waiting for us at the airport.  TBG was walking faster than I - he got the first hugs.

They were jumping up and down as he walked through the security gate.  They raced down the corridor screaming Grampa! Grampa! Grampa!  I stopped walking and watched.  He knelt down and they were in his arms and he was in theirs and Little Cuter and I were teary as we watched.

I got in on the fun, too, creaky and achy but with a heart full of love.

I squeezed myself into the space between the two car seats and hugged arms and legs.  

We got home and hugged on the couch.

They had dinner at the table, and I held onto whatever body part was available.

After baths we hugged on the floor while we told jokes

 We woke up smiling, racing upstairs to start hugging again. 

Travelling Again

We always go to Indiana for the kids' birthdays in July.  Last year we couldn't go because of The Yukky-ness, as FlapJilly was calling the virus back then.  She was just 5 years old, coming off a shortened kindergarten year, staring at a summer without camp or friends or leaving the house.  SIR and Little Cuter made a backyard extravaganza for her and her little brother, Gramma and Grampa joined in via the interwebs, and she was delighted. But....... 

Next year you'll come for sure, right?

We couldn't wait until July.  As soon as everyone who could be vaccinated was vaccinated and the school year had ended, we flew to hug them in May.  

And now, a month later, we're going back.

Weren't you just there? queried our son.

Again! You lucky girl! said the Pilates Diva when I cancelled this week's session.

It happened so fast.... I didn't get the sheets back on the bed yet was Little Cuter's lament.

Yes, it's soon.  A year ago, this was impossible.  I'm never passing up another opportunity again.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Asterisk

Yesterday's post had an asterisk.  If you searched for it and came up empty, I'm sorry.  This is what I meant to add, with a little more verbiage than originally planned.


College Bowl was one of my favorite shows growing up.  Three teams from three different colleges answered questions posed by a moderator.  There was a high school version, too; our school was a contestant one year.  

I don't remember the questions falling to one side or the other of Too Hard/Too Easy.  I certainly don't remember them being this easy:

Arrange these men in the order in which they served:


The 20 somethings were flummoxed.  I laughed.  Those were very familiar faces. When I asked him, he admitted to taking a moment to get Ike and Harry in the right order, but he agreed that this was not a difficult question for a college student to answer.  

I pondered what they're not teaching you in school these days for a while, and then I wondered if I could answer the question were it posed to me in the same historical context within which the current contestants were operating.

I went back 50 years from my birth, because that's how far back those pictures are for today's college kids.  Take a look below and see if you can do any better.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Technical Difficulties

Can I blame climate change?  

A transformer overheated and there was a power outage and the cable went down.  The air conditioner worked and so did the lights.  Why were we unable to get a signal on the tv?  And where was my internet?  My phone connected but the computer and the iPad were unresponsive.

Before I left the house, I asked TBG if he needed any information.  His flip phone has only text and phone and photo capabilities...... and I'm not sure he has ever taken a picture .

Everything was fine by the time I got home, and life went on until this evening, when the cable box refused to let us watch the NBA Finals on our local ABC affiliate.

How?  That was what we said.  The what was self-evident - we could tune in the stations above and below but not 211.  Instead of Yannis and DeAndre we saw Peyton Manning, hosting College Bowl*.  

This led to exclamations of dismay, and many attempts, none of them successful.  We watched the end of the game on the tv in the bedroom, which was happy to connect us to that which we want to watch.  

My suspicion is that fault lies within our cable box, which has not been updated for many years, due to TBG's reluctance to lose the stored Best Of clips he's curated (Dean Martin singing in Rio Bravo, the State Dinner in American President, Spencer Tracey's final speech in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, eg).  I really don't care; left to my own devices I would rarely turn it on at all.  

But TBG would like there to be an explanation that does not require him to part with that which makes him smile so, I'm asking:  Can I blame it on climate change?

Friday, July 9, 2021

Overheard at Lunch

I hadn't heard from him in years, not since just after the divorce.  But there he was, on the phone.

"Do you remember what we had for dinner the night we made our daughter?"

That' s what you want to know?  I really don't remember.  


Why so upset?

She's visiting. I wanted to be sure that I never eat it again.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Summer Fun in the Neighborhood - Times Two

Bret-t.. our favorite waiter at our favorite pizzeria, regaled us with stories and videos of his trip to introduce his 7 year old daughter to his fiancee's extended family in Iowa.  Lady Jane and I were treated to videos of fireworks by the lake, of little girls' faces filled with wonder and awe.  We heard stories about jumping off the dock into that lake, of heat and humidity so thick that clothing was drenched within minutes of stepping out doors.  

Mostly, though, there were stories of familial connections that were new but which felt old.

She doesn't feel like my cousin, Dad.  She feels like my sister


SIR created his annual fireworks extravaganza again this year.  Little Cuter sent text invites to their neighbors with kids, and by nightfall there were children running through yards and hiding and chasing and laughing out loud while gasping and ooohing and aahhhing (from a very safe distance) at the sparkles and booms.  

Little Cuter took a break from her role as Entertainer of the Year and chatted with grownups as the children romped.

Giblet wanted to be like the big kids - he asked mom if he could take off his shirt like they did.  

FlapJilly was exhausted - Those boys wore me out!


Memories like that last a lifetime.  I know, because my 4th of July memories are vivid even 6 decades later.  

Thank you, Science, for bringing joy and laughter to everyone this summer.  Vaccinations made all these stories possible.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Mother Nature's Wrath

It was very windy last week, so windy that a whole tree fell down.
The wind broke it right off, exposing the fact that there was really nothing holding it together at all.
On the way down, the palo verde severed a saguaro.
Saguaros have personalities (yes, I am anthropomorphizing, but I am not alone 
This one had babies at her very tip, 
which means she was 75-100 years old, at least.  I shot this earlier this year to celebrate the newbie on the left side.
Mother Nature is ruthless.  She doesn't care what her destruction looks like once the damage is done.  One of the tree's branches tore off this chunk of saguaro skin.
Otherwise, it was a clean break, 
Now there is an empty space where there was once a tree, a tree that lost a whole part of itself in the Spring 
and, apparently, never recovered.

The landscapers came and toted it all away, covering the stump with the pebbles that serve as ground cover out here, removing all traces of what was and is now no more.

I bought a velvet mesquite from a local conservation group.  I don't have one, and the space is big enough to accommodate it.  The roots will always be far enough away from the house, it is a fast grower (akin to being too old to buy green bananas, I can't take a chance on a late bloomer), and it is a low water usage, xeric appropriate species.  

It's just not my funky palo verde and the cactus she sheltered who are suffering. 
The storm ripped hearts open in more ways than one.
(That's the end of the post.  For the gardeners who might be interested, the white innards felt like memory foam with a pleasant, almost wet texture.  The green inner leaves were almost mushy.  The ribs were pliant.  The water storage system is really something to admire.  I spent some time thanking her for the lesson.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

One More Thing

It's my flag, too.   I can fly it with all its ambiguities and still feel moved.  Flying it is part of my pursuit of happiness.  

On patriotic holidays and events, I wear all my red white and blue clothes - some of them tie dyed when Little Cuter was in elementary school.  I was just wearing that shirt! she said when she saw my tank top on FaceTime. (Yes, everything we made was very very big.  Oversized t-shirts as pajamas is still a thing.)

My gym rat friend, Bill the Marine, gave me a pair of light cotton sweatpants emblazoned with stars and stripes.  My $3 Target t with a flag graphic alternates with the sundress that is also about 30 years old.  That means they've been worn 90 times at most - Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day - and they show no wear at all..  At this rate there is no earthly reason to add to the collection; they will last forever.

I'm not making a political statement.  I'm making an American statement.  The America that embraced my immigrant grandparents and helps me live my exceptional life, only 100-some years later makes me very happy and I'm glad to celebrate.

There's a Trump flag - an absolutely giant Trump flag - in my neighborhood, flying below the Stars and Stripes.  It's America, so he can do that and incur nothing more than my opprobrium.  Seeing it has encouraged me to put our flag out every day for quite a while.  

I wonder what people think as they drive by?   I wondered what people thought when they saw this?

I was merely curious then and I am merely curious now.  

I'm just making my American Statement.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Happy 5th of July

Little Cuter went to work on Thursday and we were surprised.  She had the whole month of June off; what was she doing in the office during her vacation?

Mom? Dad?  It's July.

Oops.  Now we are missing months instead of just dates and days of the week.  We were abashed.

Big Cuter and Queen T are going to a 5th of July BBQ today, an event which rankles in my son's brain.  He's never heard of a 5th of July celebration.

Now that we are looking American history square in the face, reckoning with enslavers as Founding Fathers and the return of Jim Crow in our times, July 4th, which used to be unencumbered, is now conflicted.  We are no longer a colony, and that is a good thing.  We do not live up to the Pledge of Allegiance's promise of liberty and justice for all yet, and that is a bad thing.

Am I still allowed to be proud of America?  We are truly a young country - Great Britain was compounded in  935 or 1536 or 1706 or 1800 - and we have growing pains.  Slavery has darkened our history, no matter how much we try to put avoid placing it front and center.  Just look at Nikole Hannah-Jones's treatment at UNC - white donor money spoke pretty loudly in that affair.  

No one likes to dwell in the past.  No one likes to remember the worst parts of their lives.  Therapists teach us how to control those noxious thoughts, now to manage them, how to use them to better ourselves.  We don't seem quite willing to do the same for history, though.  

So, I look at the flag flying outside my front door and I wonder - do all Americans see it the same way that I do?  

Is it a beacon of hope, or a sign that only some are welcome to enjoy it all?  Did the passengers on the SS St. Louis, sent back to certain death in Europe, see it as a snarky salute to freedom for some, but not for them?  Soldiers' coffins are draped in that flag - I have been wondering how people of color who died defending a country that didn't accept them as fully equal feel about that.

These are uncomfortable thoughts, but they are necessary thoughts.  I have a rising 2nd grader in the family.  She loves Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  July is her favorite month of the year - not only because she and her brother have their birthdays then, but because the 4th of July comes then, too.  

SIR will put on a fireworks display in the street.  Little Cuter alerted the neighbors.  They will celebrate the wonderfulness that is the USofA  with explosions of joy.  

I'll watch fireworks from the front yard and the back yard, tempering my joy with honest assessments of what I am celebrating.  It's a little more complicated..... and, I think, it is necessary.

Between Pandemica and Black Lives Matter, I've had a lot of time to think.  If you have some time over this lost weekend, zip on over to the 1619 Project.  It's time for us to open our eyes to what really happened.  I don't think it needs to damage our vision of a more perfect union.  I see it as a way forward, a reckoning with our past and a commitment to move forward, armed with understanding, to create that shining city on a hill.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy 4th of July

 reworked, revised, revisited...yes, you've read parts of this before

The sky is pure blue, "painted that way as G'ma said every time she looked up.  The occasional fluffy white cloud drifts by, and I'm hearing G'ma remark on that, too.  The flag in front of the house is swaying, the pole wedged between the base and the capital of one of the front columns, secured with thin, silver, crafting wire.  

It's an elegant solution to TBG's reluctance to put holes in his house;  I feel like Daddooooo every time I wrap another ring around the post.

Daddooooo was big on ingenious remedies to intractable problems.  He was also big on flags and the 4th of July.  We always went to the beach.  We always stopped at Custom Bakers on the way home, where the owners always let us go back and stick our fingers in the vats of frosting.

We always went to the Boardwalk in Long Beach, arriving as the sun was setting.  Skeeball and mechanical fortune tellers and the smell of the ocean, too black to be seen but too noisy to go unnoticed, occupied us as we waited for night to fall.  We practiced our ooohs and aahhhs; we were in fine form by the time the booms and the bangs began.

Through it all, the flags were flying.

There was a big one in the bracket beside the garage door, until the house was painted and further holes were frowned upon (is this some kind of male thing I just don't get?). A pole-holding-tube was sunk into the flower box, and while it was neither sturdy nor attractive, it did the job and as far as Daddooooo was concerned that was that.

There was a plastic flag attached to the car's antenna, and all our bicycles had flags on the handlebars.   

I'm not letting the tradition fade away.  I'm ambivalent about much of America right now, confused by rethinking our past, embarrassed by our failure to keep ourselves safe.  But I'm not giving up.  I'm going to work to create a government that is truly of, by and for the people.  That's the most and the least I can do.
Happy Fourth of July, denizens!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Want The Burrow In Your InBox?

(Months ago, Blogger decided not to use the service which forwarded The Burrow to inboxes.  It took me a while (see below) but FollowIt reached out, offered to help, and here I am, writing about it. It's an otherwise gloomy day here, and I'm stuck in neutral.  This Subscriber Alert seemed like a fine way to finish the week.)


There's a nifty little box to the right, bordered in green.  Put your email in the box and send it on.

My inbox is currently overwhelmed with requests for financial support from every one with a (D) after their name.  (That is gender neutral not bad grammar..... hard to type/read/hear, but neater than he or she.)

I apologize for suggesting that I clog yours with my musings.  

There are a dozen or so, of  The Burrow's 1256 regular readers, who subscribe to this service, and if it's still working you don't have to sign up again.

If it appeals to you, fill in that box on the right.

If you click on this link you can set up filters and direct the kind of information you want to receive (Headlines; the whole post) to the place you want to read it.  

Theoretically, according to the folks at, this will increase my readership.  They had verbiage about how and why, which I ignored.  What they did offer was a (fairly) painless way to move my loyal subscribers from the service Blogger dropped to their product. 

It's free and they reached out in a kind and gentle way to guide me through the process.

Marina didn't mind that I couldn't find her email with the instructions; she resent it immediately.  

When I couldn't figure something out, there was a link which explained it all, including a link to the site in question.  

These tech challenges stress me ..... terrifically...... and so I put them off.  Marina never chided my tardiness, waiting until the very last day to act.

It's not often that I write of a tech issue gone right.  I just had to share.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Another Faux Monsoon

The wind is blowing fiercely.  The trees are banging against the walls and the bougainvilla blossoms are filling the courtyard from the ground to the top of the crepe myrtle, about 15' up there.  Unfortunately, they settle under the lantana and the rosemary, looking forlorn.  Over time, they'll dessicate and turn brown and then I'll have a brown carpet under my bushes.  

If I had two good legs I'd be out there pulling it away and dragging it away.  Now, all it does is aggravate me.

We skimmed the pool after the pol gy was finished skimming the pool and it was spotless..... until the winds started up.  Now it is as messy as the courtyard.

The clouds are massing over the Catalinas.  Despite the wind, they are not moving much.  They are often stuck on the higher peaks, bringing them rain while we have humidity and wind and nothing else.

Every afternoon I wonder if I should shut off the 2nd round of irrigation.  Will it rain?  Will it rain enough to turn off the supplemental water for a day or two?  Shall I err on the side of caution, or wait until the drops start falling?  

So many questions.  So few answers.