Thursday, September 30, 2021

Flying Critters

The moths cover the glass on our front door, attracted by the light in the foyer inside.

The little yellow moths/butterflies travel in pairs.  I thought they were playing.  Scarlet opined that they were mating.  Whichever it is, they are rarely found alone.

Monarchs are few and far between, but they are here.  Other, somewhat smaller and less colorful butterflies are also making an appearance.  

The no-see-ums, tiny red crawling up your leg things, must have been flying this afternoon.  I found one half way up my leg.

The tiny black pin head sized beasties were swarming around my sweaty head as I watered the trees this afternoon.  They drove me inside.  I'm not cooking on the bbq tonight unless the wind picks up and blows them away.

There are butterflies drowned in our pool, floating amidst the leaves.

There are 6" dragonflies but, surprisingly, no yellow jackets at all.  Every summer but this one we've had them as visitors when we swam.  I have no explanation.

A turkey vulture is cruising the thermals above our neighborhood, occasionally swooping low over our patio and scaring the bejeezus out of us.  Its 4 or 5 foot wingspan makes quite an impression when its just outside your window.

Best of all, there was a hummingbird by my side as I watered the sweet acacia late yesterday afternoon.  She fluttered just to my left, investigating the spray from the hose, I suppose.  I stood still and cast only my eyes in her direction.  Her wings made a tiny tiny tiny breeze.... or was that my imagination enhancing the experience?  

I'll ask the owl nesting in JannyLou's tree tonight when she hoots.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Lemon Tree, Very Pretty

(sorry about the earworm)
I've been trying to deal with this corner of the back yard for 16 years.  Last week I bought the biggest Meyer Lemon tree in the nursery, having neither the patience nor the time left on the planet to nurture a 5 gallon starter to fill the space.  This is what they delivered today:
Once again, power tools were involved in the creation of the hole.
The bottom of the box was shoveled off,
then the dusty roots were brushed away.
They muscled the box over to
and into the hole.
We (I advising, they doing the work) turned it so that the fullest part faced into the yard.  
They filled the hole, established the irrigation, and used the extra soil to cover an exposed fiber optic cable on the outside of the pony wall.  
I went out to water it a second time (apparently you cannot over-water a citrus tree) late this afternoon,  and this is how it looked.  
As I said - lemon tree, very pretty.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Found Moments

This card appeared as an attachment to an email from Old Friends (junior high and beyond).  He found it and she shared it..... 
from 1964.....which feels like yesterday.  

I remember what I wore - a navy A-line linen dress with a short white same fabric cape with blue piping and navy, fabric covered buttons.  I remember the size 4.5 AA shoes with the tiny heel that G'ma and I went into The City to buy.... because all the other Long Island girls apparently had larger feet than I did.  I remember doing The Twist.  I remember that I was the first girl he asked to dance.

He took someone else to Prom.  He married someone else. We were all friends.  It seemed that everywhere you turned, someone was crushing on him, big time.  It's one of the cornerstones of my higher education in Oceanside.  I haven't had this much fun thinking about my youth in a long time.


I'm going through old photos, throwing out negatives and duplicates, sending classroom and team friends to the appropriate child, losing the landscapes entirely.  I have pictures of places - I'd be hard pressed to say where or when they were taken.  

But the pictures of Murphy the Wonder Dog, of the Cuters when they were small, of the living rooms and kitchen and hallways of their lives - these have been appreciated by the spouses and offspring.  Queen T thinks Big Cuter was adorable (he was) and FlapJilly is obsessed with the dog, and everybody likes pictures that tell a story.

I had lots of stories as I sorted.  No music, no podcast, just the photos and the memories kept me occupied for hours.  


I was repotting the indoor plants that I've (most recently) killed, in the vain hope that fresh surroundings will save them.  Yes, I am the only person on the planet who was unable to keep a peace plant alive.  Too much water?  Too little water?  Too much sun?  Too little?  I tried it all, as the advice givers shook their head at this obvious flaw in my character.

It was a messy task, and the soil needed sweeping.... only there wasn't a broom handy and I was too achy to go searching for one and then I looked to my right and saw one of my heirlooms

The metal dustpan hung on an S hook on the wall adjacent to the stairs to G'ma and Daddooooo's basement.  I claimed it as my own when we cleaned out their house, and there it was, at my elbow, on top of the red and orange shelves we painted one boring winter afternoon when my siblings and I were young... which is another heirloom.

My parents and I communed as I scraped and scooped and then deposited the contents over the fence, into the wild.  I could hear Daddooooo wondering why I don't compost (no one can assure me that animals won't nest in it) and see G'ma gently pruning the tips of the gomphreda.


There's a reason people keep stuff.  It's for found moments like these.  My friends can  

Monday, September 27, 2021

A New Author

(Well, she's new to me, anyway) 

Following along in my unplanned journey into Stories of Exile, I've found Ibi Zoboi.  She is a clear voice, a no bullshit, cut to the heart, I can't read another word but I cannot put this down kind of writer - and her voice is unlike any other I've read.

She brought me to Haiti and Detroit and inside juvenile detention and I'm still wondering what happened to those I met along the way.  They were very real.  

On the first page of American Street, ICE separates a teenage Haitian girl - with American citizenship - from her mother - whose paperwork is not exactly in order - as they step off the airplane into New York, and, as Manman promises, la belle vie.  Fabiola's struggle to free her is just one of the threads Zoboi has running through her story.  There are three cousins and an aunt.  There are good boys and bad boys - because these are high school kids so of course there are both kinds of boys.... sometimes rolled up into one.  And there is Detroit.  I love reading when the location is a character, and the burnt out, gentrification nibbling on the edges, city is a serious player.

I worried that this would be an overcoming bullying story.  I worried that the unwillingly renamed Fabulous would mope and moan for 200+ pages.  I worried in vain.  This girl is strong, and she's not afraid of stepping into her power.  Alone and uncertain, she imposes order amidst what appears to her as chaos.  Her voudou practice is part and parcel of everything she does... and if you don't think it's real at the beginning I'll bet you have a different perspective by the end.

This is real loss and real love and family above all.  This is marketed as a Young Adult novel, and it would certainly be worth reading in middle school or high school.  But I'm almost 70 and I couldn't put it down.  

I moved on to poetry, Amanda S Gorman style poetry, with Punching the Air - written with Dr. Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated 5 (formerly the Central Park 5 - young black teens wrongly accused of rape and murder who served years of detention before being exonerated in 2002).

This one, too, stopped me in my tracks.  Could I continue to put these images and thoughts in my lazy Friday afternoon brain?  This is first person stuff, which felt like it was happening to me.  Looking through the cell bars at the paper and markers on an unreachable table... I had to put the book down and take a cleansing breath or six.  

The reality of unequal justice is hard to read about, yet we must.  There is optimism and hope and pain and fear (with far more of the last two) but mostly, in both books, there is absolutely beautiful writing.  There is nothing more, nothing less, that is needed.  It is spare and elegant.  It elegantly inhabits  all sorts of different spaces, and effortlessly brings you along on the ride. 

You'll smell the inside of Dray's car.  You'll see Amal's painting.  

I'm waiting for the rest of her oeuvre from the library.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Snippet From Real Life

The 20-something engineer/entrepreneur and new homeowner to his mother:

I never knew how clean your house was until I had one of my own.


Have a lovely weekend, denizens.  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Happy Anniversary to My Indiana Grown Ups

I don't know, Mama, I think it's clay.

That was Little Cuter's thought on the traditional gift to celebrate 9 years of marital bliss.  TBG and I sent them clip on shoes for their Peleton .... last month.... when she showed us the hole she'd worn in her sneakers on the bike.... when TBG began his you need the proper equipment rant....when I thought that cycling shoes were exactly what they needed for their anniversary.

It's a good thing I thought of it then; the 22nd crept up on me without warning.  

There's a new video gaming console and there's chocolate and there is lots and lots of love as the four of them party the night away.  Maybe not their usual celebration, but they looked pretty happy on FaceTime this afternoon.

Nine years ago right now we were gathering for a sunset wedding.  The temperatures were cool enough, the breeze was warm enough, the fairy lights and the smiling faces were equally alight.  It was one of the best nights of my life.

Though I still call them the kids, they are definitely adults..... as my daughter loudly pronounced when I laughed about Mario Kart appearing on her television:

Mom, I'm an adult.  I can play whenever I want.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A New Addition

When the big tree fell, we were more than sad.  Our house looked open and vulnerable, unprotected on one side, a gaping hole where once there had been lush greenery. We lived with it for a few months while I decided on a replacement.

A Native tree was the obvious first filter.  A tree from the nursery rather than a box store was the second decision.  Though the price differential was substantial, the quality and guarantee sealed the deal on where to shop.  The owner and her helper and I discussed varieties and availability and growth pattern and water needs.  I talked about my sweet acacia, the volunteer set among my rose bushes and therefore watered more frequently than any desert tree has a right to expect.  It's 25' tall and gorgeous.  We've got a 12 footer right here was all I needed to hear.

No, I didn't want to take it home (it's huge) myself.  Yes, I wanted them to deliver and plant it.  

There's a stake along the main trunk, and there will be two outlying poles to keep the rootball intact and in the ground while the tree gets comfortable. We've had some serious wind lately and no one wants the new installation to topple over.  

They brought a lot of tools.

They started with a broom, sweeping away the stones, marking the outside of the berm to come.  

There's no digging a hole in my front yard, especially a hole this big, 

without mechanical help.

Not only is the clay soil resistant to human powered shovels,

my particular corner of heaven seems to be filled with red bricks.

 Lots of red bricks.They came in handy later on.

I learned something new today.  When planting a large or spiky plant, first slice off the bottom of the container with an Exacto knife - a very big, very sharp Exacto knife in this case.  Then, maneuver the plant into the hole.  

Use the remaining barrel to turn what you're planting until all the parts are just so, then use industrial scissors or that strong Exacto knife to slit the side of the plastic and peel it away.  

The root ball is intact, ready for fluffing and before it is surrounded by clay attacking amended soil.

They cut off the weak shoots around the bottom.

I like the concept of the trashy trunk - leaving small sprouts low down on the trunk to keep the nutrition flowing and strengthening that which will support the branches and leaves above.  The nursery guys assured me that the trunk was sturdy enough already.  I chose to believe them because I don't want a shrub growing out of the bottom of my new tree.  I want it to grow tall and leafed out over the driveway - covering it with shade 

They installed support stakes

and used that broom to spiff up the berm after placing  those bricks as a water retention barrier.

Nice, isn't it?  It's a sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana) - fast growing, needing little maintenance once it's established, and creating a gigantic crown which will shade and protect and fill in the gap left by the wind destroyed palo verde. 
Notice the pot, all ready to drip water.

 I'll create a passive drip system (small hole punched in the bottom of 2 pretty planters, each holding 5 gallons of water) since there's no irrigation over there.  TBG and I will fill them on a schedule.  We'll remove the supporting center pole in six months, and the ones on the side in a year.

I'll keep you posted on her progress.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Old Friends

Friends of long standing?  Friends I've known forever?  Old Friends just feels right.

Besides, we are old now.

I met the Golden Gopher and his long, blond ponytail on my first day of social work school.  We were 5 people in blue jeans and flannel shirts, surrounded by Huckapoo shirts and slim skirts.  

In the early 1970's, clothes were defining and we definitely stood out.  I searched for my people, and found them in the back row, smiling as I approached.  We've been friends ever since.

Weddings and surgeries and moving and all of life's adventures have passed through, leaving their marks.  When he and Mrs. Gopher came for my birthday, just weeks after I was perforated, we spent the night laughing and crying and remembering and being grateful.  There are some people who are permanent fixtures - these are two of  them.

They are the reason we're living in Tucson.  We live in Phoenix but we love Tucson they told us and here we are.  They are not.

Tucson proved pricey and unavailable.  They're moving to Asheville, North Carolina, instead.

I'm glad for them.  I really am.  It's driving distance to her sisters.  It has 4 distinct seasons.  There's lots of music and festivals and natural beauty.  The coast is close.  So is Nashville.  Prices are reasonable.  There are small communities within 10 minutes of downtown Asheville, each with its own personality.  And every Friday night there's a drum circle in the middle of downtown.

They'll be happy.  We will visit.  Still, having them here in town for a week before they begin their drive east is wonderful .... and a tease of what might have been.


Monday, September 20, 2021


Confusing was the calmest adjective... or is it an adverb.... in the lead up to getting a supplemental COVID vaccine.  There was no guidance that was relevant fifteen minutes after it was issued.

That's as much as I wrote before I fell asleep on the couch.  It was deep sleep, for a while, until I moved and my arm announced its presence with authority.  

That was the beginning of my impetuous decision to get an additional dose of the Moderna vaccine.  A friend told me that Walgreens had lots of them, the online registration process was easy once I assembled my paperwork, and there was an appointment available at the pharmacy down the block in 15 minutes.

An hour later I was jabbed and back on the couch.  I had to say that I was immunocompromised, but since my doctor told me to get the shot, and my immune system is old and therefore compromised, I only hesitated for a moment.  I don't like lying.  I don't like getting sick and dying even more.  It was a foolish worry on my part; the next day the boosters were authorized for all of us over 65.  

Go get yours now.  

The rest of this blog tells the story of my reaction.  Don't let it deter you.  If I had anything else to write about I would do so, but this booster knocked me on my ass for two days.

The exhaustion was compounded by the pain in my arm.  The shot-giver told me to take Tylenol not the Advil on which I usually rely.  Extra Strength Tylenol recommended that I take two 500 mg tablets every 6 hours.  1000mg seemed like a lot; I took one.  

That proved to be a mistake, since my arm woke me up every REM cycle, and there was really no comfortable place to put it.  By 5am, I gave up and took two pills...... and I slept well and woke up on my own, without my arm prompting one bit. 

One could speculate forever about why I decided in this instance that I knew better than the manufacturer, but I was so foggy I couldn't hold the thought.  If that feeling - a cloud in my brain, inserting a semi-permeable layer between me and the rest of the world - is what COVID-brain is like, then I am very glad to have minimized my chances of living with it long term.

I cancelled plans - yes, I had plans - and spent the day on the couch, until the fog lifted a bit and I decided to do a few errands.  The library was easy and I found some treasures.  I felt okay, so I went on to Whole Foods.  

Their carts are very sturdy.  I know this because one supported me throughout the store.  I managed to get dinner and ice cream and a melon.... which was too heavy for me to lift onto the counter without moving my whole body.  That was a sign.  

Getting the groceries into the car was challenging.  Sitting down felt great, and I let the air conditioning cool me off until I felt safe to drive..... at the speed limit.... in the right lane.... all the way home and into the garage,  dragging the groceries in my cooler bag into the kitchen.

I shoved them into the refrigerator and headed for the couch.  I am not as tough as I thought I was.  Dinner was nothing like the extravaganza I had planned, but there was food and I am proud of that, at least.  Feeling foolish about overdoing it, I wasn't paying attention to my lower intestine until my third or fourth trip registered on my (still foggy??) consciousness.  I'll spare you the details - suffice it to say that I cancelled all plans for today, too.

I'm now 48 hours past injection, and I'm doing fine.  The symptoms came on all at once and are leaving in stages, but they are leaving and I am inoculated and as safe as I can be.  

It's good to live in a country where healthcare is available and free and easy to obtain.......... oh, yeah, right.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Handling It Like a Grownup

Nicki Minaj has almost 23 million Twitter followers.

She tweeted that her cousin's friend... or maybe her friend's cousin.... got the Covid vaccine and a swollen testicle - and the first gave rise to the second.  . 

Despite all medical evidence to the contrary, Nicki Minaj tweeted the connection between manhood and the vaccine to 23 million followers, all over the globe.  This is not your aged aunt on her back porch sharing gossip with a neighbor.  23 million is a lot.  

The media didn't help the situation by sharing the story - laughing at it but advancing it at the same time.  Then Joe Biden stepped in.

He offered to educate her, to facilitate her meeting with scientists who would address her concerns, to get her questions answered, to do what he could to make her see the light.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to inhabit Joe Biden's skin these days.  Have at it was the most recent gentle explosion from within.  I'm having fun imagining his conversation with Jill as they brush their teeth and go to bed, that time of day when  no one else is around and your inner idiot can be given free rein.

The possibilities are endless.  I'll leave you to them.  I will be admiring our First Lady whose influence on educating rather than shaming those who are in error.

This explanation makes me much less angry than I would otherwise be. 23 million people .... well, perhaps she'll change her mind and become an ambassador.  I'm going to hold onto that thought for the weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Changing Your Hair Color On TV

We really like Nicolle Wallace.  We like her voice, we like her mind, we like her mom-itude and her admission of responsibility and doing penance for Sarah Palin.  She kept us company all thru Pandemica 1.0, giving us something to do while we waited for our daily mid-afternoon call with the grandkids at their dinnertime.  

After a few months, we began to notice her clothes - specifically, the orange and brown blouse which complements her hair and her cheekbones.  

Then we began to fixate on her hair.  Working from home hair, going into the studio hair, having a long day hair, just curled hair - we were all over it.  We weren't judging, we were noticing.  Some we liked more than others, but underneath it all was her refreshingly candid commentary and her insistence on making her point, so her outside was less important than her inside.

All of that is to say that we are not entirely weird when we spend much longer than you'd think we would analyzing her hair color this week.  I didn't recognize her at first.  The next day it was all roots and not a lot of streaks.  Then it was too light.  Today, it is too dark.

I've never colored my hair, but I've lived among women for nearly 70 years, so I've heard the stories.  Getting the color right,  as in She tried but she didn't.... or I'm going back because she didn't... or other variations on the theme.   I get that it's an issue.

I've just never seen it played out in real time on television.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Met Gala

I never paid attention to this event before.   

But I go nowhere and see no one and now any splash of color (that's not sports) catches my eye.  Especially when my first view is of Amanda Gorman

Us Weekly

There were a lot of crystals.  There were lots of nearly naked women and if there were any nearly naked men I couldn't find a picture to share.  I'm not sure how this is okay.

I know nothing about the event itself.  I have no interest in knowing any more.  It's enough that I spent some delightful minutes watching videos of people I didn't know smiling/grimacing/turning this way and that on the red carpet.  I browsed Vogue's coverage for a while, realizing that I knew very few of the celebrities.... and that I didn't care.

It was pretty and superficial and I didn't care about that, either.  I was amused in a novel fashion for a while and that, in Pandemica 2.0, is, apparently, enough.

(Have I mentioned that being a considerate member of society requires vaccinating yourself against highly contagious diseases..... like TB and polio and Covid-19?)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Childhood of Old Age

We've always thought about life in stages - infancy, childhood, adulthood, old age.  

We met on the cusp of Adulthood, in the old age of Childhood, and passed into the infancy of Adulthood together.  We moved through adulthood's middle two stages without major traumas (ok, maybe except for getting shot) to ourselves or those we love.  We were remarkably healthy and active and involved.

Lately, it's become obvious that we've moved into the infancy of Old Age.  

Everything hurts.

This morning our hands hurt...... all four of them. A dull ache, no desire to clench a fist or touch fingers to thumb - is this some rare contagious syndrome?  We lay in bed, our hands in front of our faces, turning them palm to back and around again, marveling at the addition of another body part to our list of aches and pains.

I'm not talking about my hip and its assorted sensations.  They are in a separate class.  It's my eyes, which get really tired as the night goes on.  There's no good reading light in the living room, so I've been augmenting my adjusted-with-contacts vision with my reading glasses for a few years.  My eyes never hurt until recently;  after a few hours with a good book my facial musculature now announces itself with authority.

There's more.  Last week I took out my distance glasses to watch late night tv - supplementing my contact once again.  My prescription was adjusted during the summer's Brief Reopening.  It's not that my eyes have changed, it's that they have less endurance......  just like the rest of me.

I cleaned the house before the new cleaning lady came to review the premises - doesn't everyone? I didn't want her to think we were slovenly, so I dusted and mopped the floors two days earlier than usual, throwing in loads of laundry along the way.  At a certain point, I realized that everything but my hair was telling me to stop working.

Some of it, of course, is my hip.  But we have great air conditioning and I was still covered in sweat  profusely perspiring  glowing .*  

I'm not complaining.  I'm merely stating facts.  Every day that the sun comes up and I am here to see it is, by definition, a good day.  I just wish I could stay awake and enjoy it a little longer.

Monday, September 13, 2021

How To Lose Weight

Pandemica - I can't travel, I can't hug my friends, I can't eat.

What?  I feel you furrowing your brows.  The connection is not obvious, but it's there.

Taos Bubbe and I had plans to eat pizza and salad at Sauce..... until she arrived early and discovered that they had no outdoor seating.  Luckily, the plaza also houses a Prep and Pastry, which had several umbrella shaded tables just waiting for us....... after a 15 minute wait while they dithered about, neither clearing the dirty plates nor wiping the table nor seating us.

We were shaded.  There was no breeze. It was over 100 degrees.

And there were flies. Lots of little annoying beasties, landing on my bare shoulders and bare legs and hovering over and occasionally alighting on my avocado toast.  

Taos Bubbe was hot.  I was dripping sweat.  I had absolutely no appetite; there was enough on my plate that the server offered me a to-go box.

We met up a few days later at the Sauce near me.  Their outdoor seating has misters overhead and is tented; I was sure we'd be fine.

We were not.  

The breeze, what there was of it, was blowing the mist toward the sidewalk, not the seats.  Triple digit temperature (again), tiny flies (again), no appetite (again).  After eating not very much of our very good food we agreed that it was too hot to visit any longer.

This morning, Amster and I had our usual lunch at North.  We ate outside, tented, under broken misters as the temperature rose with the sun.  As soon as the food arrived, so did the flies.

My food was delicious.  The service was impeccable.  I was never without ice tea.  

I had no appetite.  Though we had more to say, we left as soon as TBG's pizza to-go arrived at the table.  He was the only one of us who truly enjoyed his meal.

After waiting for the cleaning lady (90 minutes late but where was I going anyway) I ran to Whole Foods then bbq'ed NY Strip Steaks.  The low 90's didn't feel much cooler than the low 100's, even though the sun had already set.  The absence of a breeze was made tolerable by the bats, who were busy reducing the number of flying annoyances to a random few.  

Yes, as I sat and boiled, I was grateful for the presence of bats.

By the time I sat down to eat, the knife and fork felt too heavy to lift.  There is a lot left for lunch and dinner tomorrow.

The scale is rewarding me.  I don't care.  I like eating.

GET YOUR DAMN VACCINE so that I can eat inside like a sane person.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Moths and Caterpillars and Chewed Upon Leaves

Scarlet's never had her own garden before; she's alert to every nibble and discoloration in her small but passionately tended space.  She has a gardener she trusts, but he has his own ideas about what to cut and how to cut it.  She uses me as a sounding board - am I right to insist on this?

Late Summer in the desert has brought the moths.  More moths than anyone ever remembers seeing.  Not butterflies, with colorful wings and delicate markings.  These are swarms of brown winged insects, clustering around your face and arms, swirling about in my courtyard as I type to you.  Twenty or thirty of them are touring my front yard right now, some dipping down to investigate 2 feet off the ground, others circling the rosemary, looking for I don't know what.

There are some tiny yellow ones who have paired up this morning, dancing between the crepe myrtle bush and the river rocks.  Google tells me that moths are drab colored and encourages me to look at the wings when the beasts are resting - moths' wings are horizontal, not folded like butterflies'.  But these things don't seem to stay still for any length of time.  They are flying around, interfering with my walk to the mailbox, trying to get into the house when I open the door.

Coming home from dinner next door last night was an exercise in speed and agility.  We went in.  The moths (all but one) stayed out.

Google tells me that moths are nocturnal and butterflies are diurnal.  The moths here in Tucson have not gotten that memo.  I'm watching a horde of them surround the gardener who is raking the detritus from the courtyard.  Every scrape of his rake releases clouds of dust and sends flying things all around his scarf and hat draped head.

He doesn't seem to mind at all.  I am totally creeped out, inside and watching it happen.  I'm itchy. I want a shower.  I can feel them all over me.

Have I ruined your morning?  Imagine Scarlet, with her perfectly manicured garden and its nibbled upon leaves.  The caterpillars are so happy, with all the fresh greenery our record setting monsoon brought to us.  They need to feed in order to change into magnificent butterflies, and the damage they do to the plants is purely cosmetic.  The leaf miners, leaving their signature trail of white behind them, don't hurt the plant, either.

She was concerned, but I calmed her down.  It's the circle of life, and, sometimes, it's not as pretty as we want it to be.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Her Dad..... Her Husband...

and our birthday and anniversary twin....  died too soon.

He was a big guy, in all ways.  Large in stature.  The world's biggest smile.  A hug that deserves a special spot in the Hugging Hall of Fame.

Non-judgmental but snarky, always ready with a bon mot or a snarky quip or a really bad joke, he was a fixture at soccer games and basketball games and school plays.  There are fathers who love their daughters, and there are fathers who coach basketball for their daughters, but they all take second place to Mr. A, whose world revolved around the two women in his life.

They were the tightest three-some in Tiburon.

To say that he was a proud grandfather would be understating the case.  That tiny baby in his grandpa's big arms, smiled upon with all the love in the world, I'm so glad they were in each other's lives..... even for just a moment.

I cannot get my head around the fact that he is no longer on this earth.  

Rest in peace, Mr. A.

Your memory is already a blessing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

I Am

You are your best audience he said to me, with a big smile.

I should hope so came out of my mouth before my brain engaged.

We kept swimming, and I kept thinking.  By the end of the next lap, I was ready.

If I didn't find myself amusing, if I didn't like what I thought, how awful would that be?

And we stopped for a while and thought of the people who were always so negative, who never had positive energy, let alone positive thoughts to share.

I'm really glad that I like what I say, and how I say it.

FlapJilly spends time alone, with makeup and fancy clothes and jewelry and hair accessories.  By the time she comes down to share the beauty, she's already had her own personal, private adventure.

She's her own best audience, too.

Talking to Little Cuter while the kids ate dinner tonight, Giblet was laughing and wiggling and having a grand old time.  No one was paying much attention.  He was happy as a clam.

Talk about being your own best audience.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

It Was A Civil War

But aren't they all?  

I had this thought while swimming laps this afternoon.  Communal societies, like that depicted in The Island of the Sea Women by Linda See, share and share alike..... until someone breaks a norm and then all hell breaks loose.  

Suddenly there are factions.

I'm thinking about the Tudors, a dynasty built on bastards and blood, in which the peasantry was called upon to do the dirty work. Did a cobbler in Cornwall really care who sat on the throne?  Does a woman in a remote Afghan province care which repressive autocrat  holds the Presidency?  

I don't think so.

People, real people like you and me, want the government to stay out of our way and to keep us safe.  Beyond that, things get a little messy - how far out of my way and how safe and who (like, if a fetus is a person at 6 weeks is that when child support begins?).  The intricacies get in the way, more often than not, and it would be nice to think that the discussions were political -  not personal.

Mostly,  it seems that our governance is a clawing for power rather than a regard for the general well-being.  

Sounds like a dysfunctional family dynamic.  Sounds like the start of a nasty divorce.... or a civil war.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day

 Here's my Labor Day post, recycled and improved every year since 2012.


My Zaydeh was a paperhanger. So was his son, my uncle. They belonged to the Paperhanger's Union. When he retired, my Zaydeh got a lapel pin and a photograph of himself and the also-retiring Union Rep. The Union Rep got a pension and health insurance. No one knows if he got a copy of the photograph, too.

It was that kind of complicated relationship to Labor, with a capital L, that dominated my growing up years. Daddooooo's father owned a business. G'ma's father was a worker. In the same way that her parents' accented speech and his parents' religious devotion were there, so was management/labor, bruising the edges of their relationship.

On the one hand, I sat on my Zaydeh's shoulders as he bounced me around the living room, singing Zum Gali Gali, a Zionist/Socialist work song.  When I needed a biography for a book report in second grade, his daughter, my mother, suggested Eugene Debs. I was the only one in the class who wrote about the Wobblies, who knew that, before Bernie Sanders, a Socialist, a man who understood the plight of the working man, ran for President, albeit from prison.

On the other hand, Daddooooo inherited his father's bridal shop, working alongside his brother and the cutters and pressers and seamstresses he'd known his entire life. He took care of the girls, the worker bees, the ones who created what he tried to sell. He struggled to make a success, and failed, and among those he held accountable were the Union Guys.

He was unable to make a go of a business he'd rather not have owned.  He was living a life unlike that which he'd imagined in college.  It was not making him happy, nor was it paying the oil bill.  The generalized angst was unassailable; the Union Guys were real.

Yet I knew that we needed unions - the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire proved that protections were necessary and that management had no interest in protecting the welfare of the worker. Without collective action, nothing could be achieved.  I was still the 8 year old in love with Eugene V. Debs.

Those feelings didn't seem incompatible with the boss's daughter piece of me, the one who loved seeing her Daddy's name on the showroom door.  The ladies did piece-work, but always had time to smile and chatter at me, in Italian.  The cutter, an imposing fellow with a gigantic pair of scissors, shared a small corner of his even more gigantic table with me, as I worked beside them, trimming lace, doing idiot work in my father's parlance, completely content, with a foot on each side of the divide.

G'ma told me stories of her parents marching in Solidarity Parades, though never when Daddooooo was around to hear.  Daddooooo railed about union bullies, but rarely in G'ma's presence.

The battle between labor and management, waged, silently, over my kitchen table.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Pandemic Lite

TBG and I are vaccinated.  Our doctors tell us to get the booster when Moderna is approved, to wear masks, and avoid eating inside.

JannyLou and Fast Eddie are in the same situation.  We live next door to one another.  We haven't seen them in more than a month.  

JannyLou and I went out to lunch - so long ago I can't remember where.  There was much catching up.  There was no hugging.  Today, when she called to apologize for being AWOL, I laughed and told her she was taking the words out of my mouth.   There's nothing to talk about, once we caught up with the kids' lives.  We aren't doing anything worth talking about.

My weekly private sessions with the Pilates Diva are the only things on my calendar.  The only person who's been in our house lately was the window washer, and we stayed as far from one another (masked, of course) as we could.

There's not the same sense of panic as there was when we were doing this a year ago.  It's not as scary, now that we've been vaccinated and continue to take precautions when we venture outside.  Going inside is still a problem, although I'm comfortable going into the grocery store and Penzey's spice store.  Last year, I had everything delivered to a door - of my house or my car.

I go into the public library now, rather than having my books brought outside to the HOLDS table.  This is a mixed blessing, since I am tempted by books that I've already read..... although there are so many Linda LaPlante and James Patterson books that I am not surprised.  

Life is returning to what passes for normal in the 2020's.  We're having a Labor Day bbq with JannyLou and Fast Eddie on Monday -- I accepted the invitation only after I'd confirmed with TBG that he felt safe and comfortable sitting in their backyard, sharing a meal.

At least it's not weird anymore. There are just more layers between us and the real world. We've gotten used to them.  I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

A Bifurcated Life

Driving north after an away lacrosse game, my Audi full of high school seniors, Big Cuter and I were having one of our serious discussions.   I don't remember the topic, but I do remember his conclusion:

My generation has never experienced an American loss.  You had assassinations and Vietnam.  We see only wins.

Six months later, a freshman at Georgetown, he watched the smoke rise from the Pentagon on September 11.  The losses would start to pile up.  His life now had a before and after.  He was 18.

The war in Afghanistan has persisted throughout his entire adulthood.  There was no draft.  Some in their generation raced to the battle - Pat Tillman wasn't drafted - but most just shared the generalized angst of a war being fought on our own shores.

That faded soon enough. The war, as Wolf Blitzer mentioned today, was rarely the first or second story on the evening news.  It was hardly ever a  headline. His friend served in Iraq; we thought of him every day.  Once my friend returned from Afghanistan, it hardly ever entered my thoughts.  Malala and Karzai and Taliban were words that floated through the news, but my attention was usually drawn elsewhere.

Vietnam was my high school and college, but by graduate school the terror had ended.  My son and his friends never had to induce allergy attacks to avoid service; those who joined the fight had nobler motives, I think, than those who ran from it in the 1960's and '70's.  

But then, as now, we were trying to solve a Civil War.... and that doesn't end well for the intervener, as Joe Biden continues to point out.

The effects on a generation who've only known an America engaged in a futile war, who grew up believing in American exceptionalism and had the facts (ie, their life experiences) to prove it - well that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

There Is Nothing

Without outrage, politics is less interesting.  

Without sunshine, I can only post photos of rain (and I did that yesterday).

Without access to the Prince Scholars (who are now masked, but still unvaccinated) I have no stories or pictures to share.

I've been reading authors I know and their stories are comfortably the same (and I have shared them already).

Honestly, denizens, I'm out of ideas.  

I'll try to do better tomorrow.