Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Monday, August 30, 2021


I was adamant the first time it was asked.  Fall? I don't fall.  Not since my son tackled me in the driveway as I was going for the basket.

Then, I took a tumble, tripping over loose stones, falling backwards, landing none too lightly on the pony wall, the backs of my arms keeping me from landing on the ground.  I vowed to wear shoes whenever I ventured out the front door; socks only would be a thing of the past, and I'd be fine.

Then my sandal caught the edge of the oriental rug in the kitchen.  I was very glad to have the counter right there; had I been 6 inches further away my nose and the ground would have become quite well acquainted.  By concentrating on strengthening my ankles and remembering to pick up my feel rather than dragging them along the floor I was sure I'd be fine.

Then I had lunch with Lady Jane, down three small steps to get to the garden at The Arizona Inn.  Coming up after a delightful repast, she tripped over the rubber strip holding the carpet runner at the top of those three small steps.  Down she went, right onto the floor,  rolling smartly onto her side so that her wrist didn't try to hold her up - and certainly fail at the task.

There I stood, right next to her, unable to do a thing.  I was not steady enough on my two feet to lurch over and grab her.  The same thing happened to G'ma almost a decade ago.  I could do nothing but watch her and her walker tumble to the ground.

This is not a good feeling.

The doctors are right to ask about falling.  I no longer bristle at the question.  

Friday, August 27, 2021

What I Couldn't Do

Our cable package has music channels.  R&B, Country, Heavy Metal, Pop Hits, and, TBG's favorite - Classic Oldies.  That's what we swim to; Zone 2 is the outside speakers and that's the red button I push to make the sound happen.  Our set up is complex and I never bothered to learn it.  That one red button is enough for me.

So, this afternoon, I changed and slathered lotion and grabbed a towel and my goggles before I pushed the button and the music began.  I had no idea it would be a romp through my adolescence - and my failure to learn to dance.

Daddooooo taught me the lindy in our living room.  It was fun, but I was too awkward to enjoy myself. I paid more attention to the fact that it was a dance named after Charles Lindbergh than I did to learning the steps.  Besides, nobody in junior high was doing the lindy; they were doing a raft of other dancer.  I didn't know them either.

First on this afternoon's playlist was The Mashed Potato.  I could do that - sorta kinda, but my hips hurt with every turn in and turn out.  Plus, it was kinda stupid.

A few songs later came The Pony - I remember it had something to do with lifting your knees, but that's about all.  That song sent me down a mental spiral - the Frug, the Watusi, the Boogaloo - the songs weren't played but the memories were quite clear.

I calmed down when they switched to The Twist - I was good at that.  I could do The Swim (crawl, breast stroke, back stroke) and The Hitchhike, so I didn't have to spend all my time sitting and watching.  But the feeling was awakened and has been dogging me all afternoon.

I never wanted to go back to Junior High..... this is only one of the reasons.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

It's Back - And I'm Happy

Pandemica was made a little more bearable by the ease with which I could participate in our democracy without leaving home.  Postcards To Voters and Vote Forward have, once again, sent me emails asking for help.  It's a much more productive use of my time than playing Candy Crush Soda Saga.

After being vetted - I sent a sample postcard and was approved within 24 hours - back in the Olden Times, it's now a simple matter of clicking on a link and downloading my voters.  Vote Forward has me printing out template letters with a Fill In The Blank section following I vote because.  Postcards to Voters gives me the essential information and lets me format the (less expensive) postcards myself.

I write about participating in democracy and making my voice heard and my vote as my statement of interest.  I use colorful markers and print carefully.  With football rearing its ugly head once again, having meaningful work that allows me to share space with TBG is a delightful bonus.

This year, Vote Forward is asking for bilingual letters, and they have a website with translations you can copy.... unless you have a Spanish speaking friend who can help.  You don't sign your full name, just first with a last initial, and the word VOLUNTEER clearly noted in the return address space.

If Being inside again is getting you down, I suggest clicking on one of those links and making yourself useful.  Voter suppression is everywhere.  These missives have been proven to increase voter turn out.  It's a concrete way to make a difference.

I'm going to create some postcards now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Today's Her Brithday

She died last Spring, just as things were opening up.  Her death opened a giant hole in a lot of hearts.

Her husband devoted his life to making her happy, and he was quite a success.  He tended her when she was well, and cared for her when she was ill, and always made sure that she had what she wanted, when she wanted it.  She was always particular, and he didn't mind accommodating her.

Now she's gone, and his responsibilities have vanished.

I sent him sustenance from Whole Foods after her death; he called to tell me that almost everything I selected was our usual order.  I haven't seen them in decades; some things never change.  We grew up together and those early memories are deeply imprinted.

I'm still not used to the fact that she is no longer on this earth, even though our paths rarely crossed once we were adults.  Since April, she's taken up permanent residence in a corner of my mind,  popping up in the most unexpected places.  She never did this when she was alive.

Her brother is now the patriarch of his family, the only elder remaining in his line.  I occupy a similar space in my family.  Last week, we talked on the phone about how weird that is.

I never polish my nails without thinking of her.

I never read a paperback book without remembering her bragging about reading 4 books right now.  I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it today, but I remember it vividly nonetheless.

Happy Birthday, Cuz.  May all your raspberries be organic and unbruised.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

46 Years Ago Today

Sometimes it feels like yesterday.  Sometimes it feels like forever ago.  Always, it feels just right.

Monday, August 23, 2021

And There's More

As Linda pointed out in her comment to Friday's post, it's too bad money can't buy common sense.  Upon a deeper dive into the school funding issue, it seems that this applies, oh, most definitely applies, to Governor Ducey.

Let me explain.

The Governor's decision to withhold federal Rescue Plan money from any school district with a mask mandate may come to bite him in the ass.  It's $1800 per student - a sizeable chunk of change in any district's budget. 

Unfortunately for Governor Ice Cream, these funds cannot be released to districts which receive other Federal aid programs, like all those available to lower income demographics.  So my District and all the other school districts serving those at the bottom of the economic pile are losing nothing by doing the one thing the experts say can mitigate the transmission of COVID 19 - mask mandates. 

And which Districts stand to lose all those Federal dollars our Incompetent in Chief won't give them if they, too, want to protect their kids?  All those rich, white, Republican suburbs, with inflated home prices because the public schools are wonderful.  Suddenly, they're not going to be as wonderful as they could be,  if your District were tempted to put masks in their dress codes.

Ducey is trying to give them $7000 vouchers for private schools, but that's a plan that seems to be going nowhere.

It may be that every parent in those districts is anti-mask, but Arizona has sent home a kindergarten class in the middle of the first day and lost an unvaccinated teacher and it's only a matter of time before those folks have it happen to them, because it can happen to you..... when you least expect it.... or when you've deluded yourself into believing that it only happens to the other guy.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Trouble at the Top

Gen. Milley says there was no information sent to his desk that indicated an 11 day collapse of the Afghan Army.

Gov. Ducey will give families $7000 for private school tuition if they don't want to send their kids to a mask-mandated school.  He'll also withhold  $1800 per student in American Rescue Plan money from districts which enforce mask mandates.  According to his spokesperson, this money is the Governor's to dispense.  No one else ought to weigh in.

The City of Tucson is punishing their unvaccinated workers with a 5 day without pay suspension.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is rewarding vaccinated employees with $300 checks.

Does it seem to anyone else that our governance is running around like chickens with their heads cut off?

Thursday, August 19, 2021


Auntie M now has as many years as Harold Hill has trombones.  

That was her brother's quick math answer to an unasked question, as he sat beside me on the couch, frantically switching channels, trying to find one that wasn't advertising chilling side effects and horrifying diseases or shivering puppies or starving children...... and don't get me started on that adorable little elephant who's just learning to walk.  

More and more often, TBG and I are struck by the novelty of ...... well, pick just about any category... and find ourselves noting that in 140 years on this planet we have ......

At back to school night this week, FlapJilly's new 2nd grade teacher recognized SIR.....  because she taught his sister three decades ago and recognized the face.  That sister is now teaching 2nd grade, herself.

This brought me back to volunteering in the library when Little Cuter was in 2nd grade and her 20-something teacher had a mild meltdown when one her her students checked out a book that she had checked out when she was a 2nd grader in that same school... her name was on the book's paper card, right there in her own 7 year old scrawl.  

How is this possible? she wailed.  

How is this possible, indeed?

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

We Had A Pandemic Date

We ran an errand where both of us went into the store at the same time (masked, of course).

We got lunch at a drive through window and ate in the car, under a tree in the parking lot.

We got a curbside pickup of groceries.

We came home.

This is not the way a rainy Tuesday should be spent.  I can't feel safe going inside a restaurant because people refuse to get vaccinated.  I can't stroll comfortably with my husband, because after a few minutes he starts to feel claustrophobic beneath his mask, and mask we must, because we don't know who is unsafe.

This is backwards.  It's not fair.  We did everything right and now we are punished and forced to stay home because others refuse to believe the science.  They are running around, merrily infecting themselves and others, and I don't want to be one of their others.  

I think they should stay home, or at least away from indoor spaces and crowded outdoor venues, and the rest of us should have free reign over the community spaces that now seem ultra-dangerous.  Several concert venues in Tucson and Phoenix are now requiring proof of vaccination in order to enter their space.  

Right now, though, I'd give anything for a vaccination only pizza parlor.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


It looks awful.

It's got to feel worse.

There are no women and girls in the streets; the unmarried ones are hiding to preclude their being taken as wives for the young Taliban soldiers.

And don't get me started on those who've spent 20 years working with the coalition forces to build a modern, functioning society - and who are now left behind.  Joe Biden did a poor job in preparing for their evacuation and I cried as Matt Zeller spoke on MSNBC about the moral stain this leaves on my soul.

Alexander the Great turned away from fighting there.  The Russians failed after a disastrous attempt at nation building in their own image, and now we are repeating the scenario.  One of the poorest countries in the world, its economy dependent on heroin, with a fantastically corrupt elite (per Rachel Maddow) and the Taliban now in control of American military bases and the equipment (arms, ammunition, helicopters....) - this is not a scenario that bodes well for the future.

I've left a message at the White House.  I'm writing this post.  There is no NGO presence to which I can send money.  I'm out of ideas.

All I can do, it seems, is feel sad.

What a waste.

Monday, August 16, 2021

That's Just What I Was Thinking

Listening to Patrick Lam talk to Helen Rosner on Splendid Table this afternoon, I had one of those Meg Ryan moments.

Y'know, the moment in Sleepless in Seattle where she and Tom Hanks both say magic - he on the radio, she in her car.  

Helen Rosner was talking about her ambivalence regarding air conditioning.  She and Patrick Lam agreed - you need it and you love it but it distracts you from the season outside.  I mean, it makes you want to make

(all together now)

a post roast.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Family Time

Randomly one afternoon on our last visit to Indiana, Giblet asked me about my brother.  Specifically, he wondered why he wasn't visiting, too.  Was he visiting Chicago Cousin, his daughter, helping her with her new house?  Why?

He was perplexed.  We were surprised at his recall of the details.  After all, my brother appears, randomly, when he's driving from Maryland to Chicago.  He stays for an hour (the trip puts him in Indiana just around dinner/bath/bed time) then drives on to see his own kid.  

Though it's not a great quantity of time, it is obviously high quality time.

This time, Brother brought gifts.  FlapJilly got G'ma jewelry that Intrepid Cat (Brother's eldest, for those keeping track) passed down to the jewelry person in the family.  Some of it was deemed too delicate to wear right away.  It's safely stored until the proper occasion arises.

Giblet got a bright yellow dump truck.  It makes noise.  It has flashing lights.  It was right by his side on our FaceTime call this evening.  

Did my brother make silly sounds?

YES!!! was the obvious answer, followed, as we knew it would be, by a series of raspberries and toots and hoots and hollers.... just like Daddooooo did for me and then for my kids.  Apparently, Giblet touched the truck and Brother created a sound.

Basically, they spent an hour screeching at one another was Little Cuter's assessment of the situation. 

And then my brother got in his car and called me to share the love.

I made noises with Giblet, FlapJilly got some of Mommy's jewelry, and everyone looked great.  They say you two look great, too.  

 Family, far flung as it may be, still manages to stay connected.  I am so grateful that my brother does not like to fly.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Late Summer in the Garden

The yard guys started things off before 8am.  

I saw them through the window when I rolled out of bed. I usually have time for breakfast before they arrive, but, there they were and so there went I, walking the entire property and pointing out what needed to be done.  

There was much to be done.

They raised the lantana so each bush is now a lovely round capped mushroom with lots of space beneath the lowest leaves.  No pack rats will find them attractive, now that the sun and the wind have free access below the entwined branches.  

They trimmed a tree branch or two; it was hard to tell which to cut, since the rain weighted them down. 
Still, I knew that nothing belonged dangling over the bbq.... too bad we couldn't figure out what to do to fix the situation.  

They planted a tree.  Purchased from a local not-for-profit, I only saw it on-line.  In real life, it is too small to replace my downed palo verde but perfect to grow big and stately between my house and my neighbor's garage.  Not my original plan, but gardening in the desert is often a case of missed opportunities.  I'm still looking for a statement tree for the front of the house; blocking their garage was lower down on the list.  

Still, it's done, and I am grateful.

All the weeds are sprayed with toxic only to them blue stuff.  Though they'll be back in the morning, all the snake/squirrel/unknown beastie holes are raked smooth and covered over.  The stones are neatly contained within the borders of the paved paths and driveway.  For one day, at least, everything is pristine. 

The barrel cacti are all atilt or lying flat on the ground, yet each one still has one thick root anchoring it to the soil.  Given my new pet theory that the plants communicate and share nutrients as they are dying, we left them in the ground.  I don't know if the theory works for cacti, but I'm enjoying the thought.

There's not a lot of planting to be done.  I'm cleaning out the containers which haven't been changed since before I was shot.  It's not a pretty job, but somehow it's very rewarding.  I always did like pruning more than planting.

We've had a record breaking monsoon, and there's still more to come.  The ground will be ready to accept new offerings in a month or so, when I'm ready to get down and dirty once again.  For now, I'll let the high 90's feel cool and enjoy watching my floral offspring grow.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

A Backwards Day

Monsoon brings rain in the afternoon.  The clouds come together in a dark and menacing crowd and drop much needed moisture - sometimes for a minute, sometimes for hours, sometimes gently and sometimes with the full force of Mother Nature.

Our mornings are hot and steamy.  The sky is blue. If there are clouds, they are sitting on Pusch Ridge, stuck on the mountain top.  Mornings are the time to go outside and do what can be done, triple digits not withstanding.  

Swimming in the morning when the birds are looking for breakfast and the flowers are opening to the sun is one of my great pleasures.  I went to sleep last night with the firm intention of doing half a mile in the pool then cleaning out the second tall planter.  I did the first one yesterday, in the light drizzle that monsoon provided.  It was lovely.

But I awoke to raindrops.  Lots and lots of raindrops.  I tried to roll over and go  back to sleep, but TBG is back to his morning Zoom spin class and the music was too loud and too good to ignore.  Reluctantly, I got up and did nothing.

I tried two collections of short stories, but neither Haruki Murakami nor Alan Gurganus held my interest.  I finished up some Cornell Club business.  I deleted emails.  I considered going through the large pile of I'll get to this later on the corner of my desk, but shrugged my shoulders and continued to avoid it.  The grocery store was tempting, but I have food for dinner and lunch and breakfast was French toast on brioche bread which filled me up all day long.

It was turning out to be a wasted day - and then the sun came out.  

The clouds were stuck on Pusch Ridge.  The air was hot and steamy.  The pool looked inviting.

It was the early morning at 2 in the afternoon.... truly a backwards day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A New (to me) Author

Exit is the most unlikely police procedural/
I laughed out loud.  I gasped.  I was constantly surprised.  These things do not happen with regularity on their own; to find all three in one book is unlikely.

Many characters are old... really old, the kind of old that involves figuring out how to get up off the floor when everything hurts. Many characters die.  Each of the characters is a distinct personality; there are lots of them and it's easy remember who's who.  That is unlikely.

The story unfolds as if it's somewhere in the middle of a series.  I kept checking to be sure it's a stand alone story.  I have narrative lust - I want to know that even the minor characters will reappear sometime.  Sadly, I think that is unlikely, too.

Unlike Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (I apologize if you read Call me Zebra on my recommendation - I could barely finish it and still don't know what happened)  Belinda Bauer  is an author worth revisiting.  And, best of all, she has written other stories - and some of them are serials.

Monday, August 9, 2021

I've Become My Mother

I have lots of cute sundresses.  I have yoga pants of all lengths and colors.  All my shorts, save one, pull up comfortably over my hips and stay there, without a fastener of any kind.  My two favorite skirts have wide elastic bands that expand and contract with every breath.

Nothing constricts.  Nothing pinches.  Nothing requires more than a tug or two to settle into place.  I have wraps and necklaces and earrings that don't annoy me.  

I see no reason to change this. Ever.

And then I thought of the clothes in my mother's closet.  Her wardrobe during the last few decades of her life included nary a zipper nor a snap.... except the ones on her bra, at which she cursed while fastening it in front and swiveling the damn thing around to its proper position.  We never talked about it.  I wonder if she, too, realized that life was too short to worry about buttons on your bottoms.

Or, perhaps, it was totally an issue of comfort.  She always looked put together; those matching jogging pants and jackets of the early "90's  had her name written all over them.  Her sweat pants kept her warm in the winter and her elastic waist jeans protected her aging skin while she gardened.  All her tops were long enough to prevent an errant glimpse of skin; none of them were ever tucked in.

I don't remember her ever complaining that her outfit was uncomfortable.... even after Thanksgiving or Pesach or the first bbq of the season.
Once again, I'm realizing just how smart my mother really was.  

I gave away my high heels.  I think it's time to move on to those pesky zippered pants.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

I'm So Angry

This is usually my happiest evening of the school year.  The kids show up for their first day tomorrow and, usually, I'm filling the pockets in my Grandma robe with stickers, and deciding which shoes are the most comfortable for standing and bending.

I should be setting my alarm for 6:30 so that I arrive in the parking lot while there are still empty spaces.  Hugging and smiling and introducing will occur;  I will comfort little ones who don't want to leave Mommy.....  at least that was my plan earlier this summer, when the virus seemed to have released its death grip on our County, and people were believing that we could go into public spaces without our masks - our reward for being well behaved during Pandemica.

Instead, I am going over to Scarlet's to play mahjong.  I can't risk getting sick, and our Governor has made it impossible for the local district to keep me safe.  Masks can no longer be required.

This is, I am told, in defense of my liberties.

All except for life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness - all of which are encapsulated in the fact that I do not feel safe going to the first day of school.  The kids will all be under 12 and thus unvaccinated.  The grown ups are probably a mixed bag.  I could contract the Delta variant and have no symptoms and transmit it to everyone with whom, up until now, it's felt safe to visit.

I suppose this is my punishment for those moments when the reopening of the world felt like more than I could bear, when I remembered the long, empty days with a certain fondness.  But, I could cry to the universe, I'd come to terms with allowing events and people back into my life.  I had learned to travel safely and to party with my grandkids without endangering their health.

The unvaccinated - if you are reading this please comment and tell me why - served as hosts for a virulent new disease, one that now threatens to morph into still another variant.....Delta Plus, according to Lawrence O'Donnell..... and if someone can explain to me how their liberty trumps mine I'm ready to listen. 

Until then, I'm thinking of Jezebel's solution to Yellow Jack..... and if it's gotten to the point where I am thinking about using weaponry to keep myself safe..... well, things have certainly gotten out of hand.

We have a problem.  We have a solution.  We were almost there.  I am so angry.

Tomorrow's post should be stories and pictures of America's newest scholars.  I'm going to wallow in self-pity take the day off and regain my composure.

Come back on Monday.  I'll have a better attitude, I promise.  Til then, stay safe.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Back To School Love Fest

Once again, GRIN delivered Back to School treats to every elementary, K-8, and middle school in the Amphi District.  This is what my car looked like once everything was loaded.  
The blue IKEA bag behind the goodies was necessary - there were lots of cakes and brownies and more cakes and cookies and muffins and fruit tarts and fancy cupcakes and more cakes and cookies and even some Hostess products.  

How does this wonderfulness happen?  

Vera - a manager at my Albertsons.
 She smiles at me in July and agrees to have supplies for me in August.
The store provides some, she provides some, and this year other staff members donated, too.

Year after year after year she does this.
It's for the kids.

It's that simple for her.... and for me.... and for every grateful face I saw in every office for 3 hours this morning.  Doing good for the little ones is its own reward.

But Vera deserves her own special reward, and this is all she'll let me offer.

You are very special.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Everything Breaks At Once

Last night the bbq refused to light, although the click-click-click (repeat for 8-10 seconds) of the igniter was perfectly fine.  This afternoon, even the clicker was gone.  I can make burgers and hot dogs inside under the broiler, but they are not the same.  I'd just as soon have tuna fish for lunch.

When I swam this morning there was no water draining from the spa into the pool itself like there usually is.  It was a signal that there was something amiss, but the temperature was perfect and the sun wasn't over the roof yet, and my swim was wonderful (thank you for asking).  When TBG got home, not only was the water still nowhere to be seen, the thermometer read 129 degrees.

The pool itself was certainly no where near that; it's delightfully brisk in these triple digit afternoons, and that suits me just fine..... as long as I don't think about kicking and pulling through unfiltered liquid which is potentially housing bugs and bacteria of all shapes and sizes.  

The handyman has been requested and the pool guy informed of the disastrophe that awaits his weekly visit.  It's unsettling when things don't work, but everything that can be done has been done.  Anxiety is not helping, yet here it is.

Normally, I'd go out for a swim to recalibrate my emotions.  That's not happening.  I think I'll have that tuna fish now.

Monday, August 2, 2021


Jennifer Lopez is hawking a product .  I'm not sure what it does or if it is valuable, but if it will make me look as good as she looks, I want it says TBG with laughter in his voice.  It's true that JLo seems to have defied aging by all observable standards, but it didn't seem funny until he went on.

Twenty years ago, Cindy Crawford was seen by TBG in person at the Denver airport.  She remains the most beautiful woman I ever saw - without wearing makeup - she was stunning.  She was also seen by TBG on a late night infomercial hawking a skin care product.  

She was using melons - as an ingredient and as a prop.

She put two melons on a counter - the one she sources from and another, random melon.  Ten days pass, and the other melon looks like you and me, and her melon is perfect.  

I'm not sure why, but I'm still laughing.  

I don't think we're cantaloupes (under- or over-ripe) yet.  I'm leaning more toward honeydew.