Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Yellow Season

It happens every year.  The acacias start it off as the yucca begin to sprout.  I was worried about my newly planted tree trying to draw water up from the parched soil and finding nothing of value. Would it bloom in its first season?  I'd been following instructions and gradually reducing the frequency of watering.  

But I was worried.  It hasn't rained in a while.  I really didn't want it to fail. I wanted it to enjoy a yellow season of its own.  So,  I set the nozzle to flat spray and filled the low-tech slow irrigation system - two 10 gallon planters with small holes in the bottom.
And it worked. These little buds appeared on tiny branchlettes (is that a word?).
There are leaves on some of them and buds on others.  This feels unusual, but I'm not looking this gift horse in the mouth.

His big brother in the back yard looks like this.
I'm going to keep watering the little one and encourage more buds to appear.  It takes a while for those buckets to fill.  My phone plays the Grateful Dead and I extol his beauty.  

I believe that makes a difference.  Who's to say that it doesn't?

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

NCAA Elite Eight

We arrived early, because that's part of the fun. No rushing, no crowds, no hurrying to get seated before tip off, no anxiety at all. Since this was our first trip to a public event since Pandemica reared its ugly head, lessening anxiety was a paramount consideration. 

The Chase Center is beautiful and easy to navigate. The escalators and elevators are conveniently located. Every surface was sparkling clean. There were worker bees strategically placed; they each had maps to help us locate our section.  

We were in the 1st row of the 2nd tier, in line with the Arkansas basket. We could see the players' facial expressions and hear their feet pounding the floor. 

There were a lot of Duke alums all around us, though we noted a UofA hat and some Gonzaga tee shirts, too. Deliriously happy fans screaming encouragement was the background noise all night. It was wonderful. 

Being there in person let us feel the explosiveness of the game more viscerally than watching on TV. The time zipped by. 

Everyone showed proof of vaccination (or took a rapid test at the site) before entering. We opted out of our masks, as did most everyone else. There was no coughing or sneezing in our area. It felt safe, normal, convivial, friendly, and large. 

Queen T and I kept smiling at one another, reveling in the fact that we were at a public event, with all the joy and energy immediately available, not filtered through a screen. 

If we were infected, there have been no signs of disease so far.  

I have missed being in a public space while sharing an activity with thousands of others.

It was good to have a bit of normal in our lives. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Don't Judge Us

TBG did taxes one morning last week.  It's a task he dreads, one that takes a lot of internal dialogue before he can face The Organizer - the blueprint of what must be sent to the wonderful human who actually prepares our return every year.

His goal has been to simplify the process, and over the years it has gotten less burdensome.  This year, it took about an hour, including collecting the documents and copying the exhibits. (TBG likes hard copies, and so hard copies he shall have.... another way to stay married for all these years.... I just copy and smile... and enjoy it when the mortgage guy is amazed that we have everything at TBG's fingertips, ready to be photographed and emailed.)

And there we were, before 9am, taxes secure in a manila envelope, ready for me to weigh and process at the Automated Postal Center before dropping it in the box inside the post office. 

He does the thinking, I do the grunt work.  We are both comfortable in our roles.  We deserved a reward.

Wanna drive me to the Post Office and then go get donuts?

I took that picture just before debating whether a 3rd sugary donut would constitute a proper lunch.

Friday, March 25, 2022

A Surprise

This greeted me when I went out to get the newspaper earlier this week.
There were birds on the rosemary and up on the saguaros and perched among the palo verde branches and they all took flight when I opened the door

I was more interested in the flower which had miraculously appeared in the soap yucca overnight.  

.  I've always enjoyed the foliage.  I never imagined there would be a flower.
The bright red exterior 
peeled back over the next day,
revealing white blossoms beneath the sticky exterior.
I watched it change as I stood at the window, doing Pilates, using the desk as my barre.  The changes were slow but steady, several pieces opened up while I was doing my thing.  But then, everything stopped.  This is what it looked like 2 days later
The white is whiter and each has a stamen and pistil inside.
The red is sticky and has structural integrity.  
The fronds are sharp and pointy and I poked myself trying to get closer for a better photo so this is what we're left with - a bizarre flowering for the first time in 15 years.

The desert southwest never ceases to amaze me.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

I've Known Some Amazing Women

There have been women who have disappointed me.  There have been women who stunned me with their brash assurance that everything they did was perfectly perfect.  There have been liars and cheats, bullies and brats, self-absorbed walking pity parties whose presence darkened the mood of every room they entered.  

To paraphrase Julia Roberts Pretty Woman, the bad stuff is easier to remember.  Those people have taken up too much space in my brain over my seven decades on earth.  It's time for that to stop.  There are so many women who have been positive inspirations, who have set great examples, who have lived their lives intentionally, with purpose present every day.

Well, maybe not every day.  

I came to this epiphany - that I was focused on things that hold me back rather than those that  move me forward - while saying hello to Opal and Joey one afternoon last week.  I was fretting about something that was long in the past, but which niggles me whenever it pops to the front of my brain.  Opal gave me a look that would have made Lady Jane proud - what are you doing in that mind space  she seemed to wonder.  She went on to remind me that there were many more pleasant places to take my wandering brain.

Lady Jane was full of such pronouncements.  It was never a good idea to repay a kindness with Oh, you didn't have to do that.  She would frown, knit her eyebrows, and remind me either that she did have to do that or that she wanted to do that and either way I should just say thank you and not diminish or exalt her actions.

She was always pressed and put together whenever we got together, because I was going to look at her and she wanted that to be a pleasant experience.  She didn't mind if I came straight from the gym; she often did, too.  But her tops matched her bottoms and her sweater complimented the outfit and her t-shirt showed wrinkles from exercise, not from being stuck in the back corner of a drawer before being worn.

At the end, she was still the same.  Her blanket was pulled up to her chin, nary a wrinkle nor a crease to be seen.  Her hair was brushed.  After she admired the long scarf I was wearing, she directed me to her closet so that I could see how she had her collection of long scarves loosely tied around a hanger.  She knew that mine were probably (definitely) languishing unfolded in a cubby in my closet.  

She wanted me to be my best, and was not above prodding and demonstrating.  

She took care of everything related to her end of life planning.  She wrote her own obituary; chose the card stock, ink color, font, and wording for the card her family would send out;  set the site and time frame for her Celebration of Life (unfortunately, she is not in control of the Arizona Inn's reluctance to schedule large gatherings).

And there was more.  When I finally got to the restaurant to gift our favorite waiter - Brett-with-2-T's -  the wedding stash Lady Jane and I had created for him, his new bride, and his 2nd grade daughter, I worried how best to tell him that she had died.  I didn't have to worry.  She had called him before she died, to say goodbye, to thank him for his kindnesses, because she said it was the right thing to do he told me.

I smiled.  She was a role model for me in many ways, up to the very very end.  She's a much better person to have in my head.


By some strange coincidence, I wrote a similar post in March, 2011.  Here it is - a catalog of good friends.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


We are off to collect our holiday present from Big Cuter and Queen T - a weekend of food and fun surrounding tickets to the NCAA's March Madness Elite Eight game on Saturday.

We know what seats we have.  We don't know what time the game will begin.  And, since you have to win on Thursday to play on Saturday, and Thursday is tomorrow, we don't know who we'll be seeing.  It could be Duke and Gonzaga, which would be very cool.  Arkansas vs Texas Tech.... not so much. 

The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that Arizona is in the South bracket, playing in San Antonio, and the game we are seeing in San Francisco is the West bracket.  It is possible that Arizona could be playing at the same time as what we will be seeing.... a fate too awful to contemplate.  We are hopeful that wiser minds prevail, and the television and advertising and NCAA gurus recognize that they can extend their audience by showing the games one after the other. At this time, there is no definitive answer.

San Francisco's mask mandate is gone.  This means we can enjoy the game without face coverings.  This means that we will be sitting with thousands of other people, indoors, for the first time in 2 years.  The last time I was in a large public venue was with Taos Bubbe on March 11, 2020, when we saw the last performance of The Last Ship.  Sting thanked the few of us in the audience for showing up.  Little did we know that it would be years before we did something like that again.

It will be interesting, unnerving, new, and nuanced.  We're bringing masks, just in case being unprotected is too overwhelming..... and this brings me to the point of this post:  masks.

Loops behind the ears don't work for those of us with hearing aids.  The devices fly off when the mask is removed.  The straps interfere with the proper placement of the devices and they are often found hanging from my earlobe, wrapped around the strap, dangerously close to being lost forever.

Unfortunately, the N-95's with straps around the head are very difficult to find.... unless you call CVS and discover that they have just receive a pallet of free - FREE!! - masks from the government.  

Do you want the free ones? the clerk wondered.  I laughed, said YES! and we both thanked Joe Biden for keeping me safe as we wondered at the absurdity of the proposal to cut the pandemic research and testing funds by the same Feds who were providing this giant stack of masks
to anyone who asks.

Individually, they have a flat front, tight straps, and a long under the chin piece that seems to be more useful than those that stop at the jawline.
I wouldn't go so far as to say they are comfortable, but the price was right and they do the job and we are now more than ready to traverse through airports and sit next to strangers in this new, semi-post-Pandemic world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

My Inner Recluse

Early this morning, TBG and I sat on the patio, listening to the birds, watching the yellow come out as the sweet acacia begins to bloom, doing nothing but being.  

In some ways, I miss Pandemica's endless days of nothing.  He stared at me in wonder, his always on the go wife regretting that there were places to go and people to see and things to do.  But I found myself believing it.  

I know that young parents had an entirely different experience - there was never enough time even as the days stretched on endlessly - but I was remembering reading the 23 Kate Shugak books, non-stop, moving only from the comfy chair to the couch. 

I did it to pass the time, the 2 weeks of sheltering in place that we all thought would nip this disease in the bud.  Now, looking back on 2 years of restricted living,  I find myself resenting the fact that I know what day of the week it is.

My calendar is booked up.  I have calls to return.  The HOA meeting will be held in the back yard of the new President's home, not on Zoom; I'll have to wear shoes and real pants to attend.  

There's a lot more laundry now that we are doing things and going places.  

Moving along to a Vimeo Pilates class this morning, I flashed back to the first time I watched that reel, in the first early summer of Pandemica.  It was instantly terrifying.  I watched the hawk circling the neighborhood and remembered how frightening the outside world had suddenly become.  My walls seemed to hold back the awfulness, the fear, the disease.  

The feeling passed quickly; it's hard to panic when you're doing a plie while balancing on one foot.  But there's been a lingering aura all afternoon, a push-pull between wanting to run to every store I've ever visited and the overwhelming urge to retreat with a book to the backyard and never move again.

Before the world shut down, days on end with nothing to do was my recipe for depression.  After Pandemica, I'm surprised to find that the reclusive side of myself is actually a lot stronger than I'd ever realized.

Turns out that 70 is not too old to learn more things about myself.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Thoughts on Watching March Madness

My bracket was busted immediately; I had Kentucky going all the way to the Final Four.  When they lost in the first round, I took it as the second sign that this was not going to be my year.  The first was when Big Cuter texted me that neither of his parental units had visible entries in our annual family pool, even though we certainly submitted them on time.  

It's the dybbuk doing the dirty work.


Once I decided not to care, I began it enjoy it a lot more.  I had minor rooting interests in the teams remaining in my brackets, but mostly I could continue to watch the athleticism without living and dying at every play.

Indiana lost early, but Notre Dame kept on winning.  That was unlikely and delightful for the starters, but I enjoyed the shirts on the boys on the sidelines, all of whom were wearing this: 

Big Cuter has a long standing pool with friends throughout the years.  Knowledge of basketball is not a requirement for participation.  This makes for lively chatter on the message thread.  I thoroughly enjoyed the young woman who, upon growing tired of picking all the animal mascots to advance round by round, was searching for another theme.
There is a lot of basketball to be watched.  Full days can be consumed by it.  

This is not necessarily a bad thing.
The graphics supervisor for one of the stations broadcasting the first round opted to work from Indianapolis, where his nephew was starting for St. Peter's, a 15 (out of 16) seed Jersey City school scheduled to play #2 Kentucky. He thought it would be nice to see the kid play in person.  

That's the St. Peter's team which put Kentucky out in the first round, and sent Murray State home in the second game that weekend.  His nephew was the star. 

So far, that's my favorite feel good moment of the tournament.
Now it's time to cheer on my Arizona Wildcats, seeded #1, but, like The Bride's Kansas Jayhawks, seem bound and determined to try to stop my heart 1000 times a game.  

They need me.  I must go.

Friday, March 18, 2022


I bought an Amazon Basics shredder.  15 pages at a time, 20 minutes to cool down, half the price of Google's Best Shredder.

It has chompers for credit cards and cd's.  It came fully assembled except for the casters, and they were easy to shove into the legs.  It's light enough to push easily.  The bin opens and releases smoothly.  I had shredder oil already, and lubricated it after an afternoon of shredding.

Two paper garbage bags (thank you, Whole Foods Delivery) were filled with material to be shredded.  It took several hours, and ended up filling two giant boxes:
I'll be driving them to the Transfer Station, since the boxes don't fit in the recycling bin, and putting shredded paper in loosely seemed like a surefire way to blanket the neighborhood with small scraps.  

The floor was covered in dust and some of those loose scraps.  I was forbidden to do any more work on this project until after the appraisal.  It was hard to disagree with the decree - the mess was something to behold.

Having created a lot more square footage while keeping our identities secure seems like an odd tradeoff.  But there's been so much oddness over the past two years that this just seems to fit right in.

Life is strange.  Mine is getting neater.  That is strange.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

I know nothing of the origin of this holiday, nor why it became a festival of drinking.  I don't have to send a card or a gift; it's a low key celebration for me.  It was fun to stand on the Michigan Avenue bridge and watch the green dye spread up the Chicago River; but that was in graduate school and I've aged out of such proceedings.

Instead, the holiday has always been special for Little Cuter and me.  We were the only two members of the family who liked corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes.  The boys probably had pizza; their dinner was not my responsibility.  

Nope.  Little Cuter and I peeled and cut and boiled and sat down at the table with lots of napkins and our plates piled high.  We drank water; she was a child.  We did not use any cutlery.  

Yes, denizens, my child and I ripped our cabbage to shreds with our bare hands.  We picked up slices of salty meat and ate them like somewhat less rigid hot dogs.  The potatoes were a challenge, but I'm sure we managed.  

It happened once a year.  It made us very very very happy.  We still laugh (ok, giggle) about it.  I wish we were together today.  It's just not as much fun alone. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Opal and Joey

They sat on Lady Jane's bench, just inside her front door.  

Her daughters wondered who would want them.
I DO!!!
And so they arrived in a big box, with their names emblazoned on the outside.
I unpacked them and straightened their hair and hat and skirt and placed them on The Thing,
inherited from my great-grandparents, and formerly a catchall for items coming and going in the garage.

We see them every day.  

I wanted to race inside and write a note to my friend, thanking her for her continuing presence in my life.  The thank you's to her daughters will have to be enough.  I don't know how to write to heaven.

I miss her.
Opal and Joey do, too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

What Constitutes a Pile?

Please refer to yesterday's post for the details behind this one.

I've survived one night and half a day of my commitment to No Piles Left Behind.  It's been a struggle.

I heard husbandly laughter emanating from the kitchen, and then his announcement - Here's a pile!  He walked in carrying two clean items of clothing that somehow ended up on the kitchen counter instead of in the laundry basket.  How?  I can't say.  

Obviously, I had them in hand and then went on to another chore which required two hands so I must have set them down and forgotten to return and reclaim them.  I noticed them a few times as I passed by; I did nothing about them.  Why?  I don't know.

The learning curve is quite steep.

This morning, after deciding on a resting place for the iPad he uses for Zoom spin class and we use for Facetime with the grandkids, he handed me the cord and plug.  Again, from the kitchen, I heard his laughter and another announcement -I found another pile.  I must have put the damn thing down and forgot to pick it up and put it in the basket where it should live.  Why?  Who knows.

There's a glass in the kitchen holding water that is getting to room temperature so that it can be added to the beautiful flower arrangements today. 

That was an Excused Pile, since it was a work in progress last night.  This morning, however, it is close to becoming A Pile.  I'll freshen the vases when I take their photos for posting; one pile I removed on my own.... although not after TBG reminded me that it was there.  

At least I saw and noticed this one, and had a plan of action to boot.  Progress can be noted.

TBG brought in the newspaper (yes, the old school, paper paper, that is wildly expensive but counts as my support of local journalism and thus is a mitzvah).  He handed it to me and I smiled.  I couldn't sit down to read it right away; did leaving it on the kitchen table count as creating a pile?

Nope.  Apparently, the morning paper on the table is not a pile.  Now, if it goes on into the afternoooooon........ he began to opine, but I was laughing too hard to hear the end.  YAY! I get to keep one item, unused but waiting, out where I will find it and read it and then recycle it.  There seems to be some breathing room in the description of A Pile.

I moved my beautiful catch-all bowl from the kitchen to the office. 

It's a much more convenient place, albeit a new one.  The library books rest right beside it.  The still to be hung metal bulletin board rests behind it.  The bag of printer cartridges for machines which no longer live or work in my house is out there, too.... and I just realized that it's A Pile.  

I moved it to the closet, along with the rest of the To Be Dealt With boxes,  

and now my little corner is pristine.

The corner makes me happy.  The To Do pile is still visible, but it's not glaring at me.  Is this what Feng Shui is all about?  I've not gone full Marie Kondo, but neatness is, it seems, its own reward.

Who knew?

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Productive Weekend

I can barely move.  Every body part announces its presence with authority.   

On the other hand, I have never occupied a more organized space. There is not an item out of place.  The vases of fresh flowers do not compete with piles of crosswords and library books.  

It's kind of terrifying.

After the Best Cleaners EVER waved goodbye and closed the door, I stood in the kitchen, marveling.  There is no To Do pile in the corner of the kitchen counter.  There are no books about to be read, no knitting to pick up, no puzzles nor pen at hand.  

I can appreciate the lack of clutter.  I am more relaxed in this space.  I can walk to the library and pick up the book I'm reading, or the crossword compilation from Little Cuter's crew, or to the front bedroom for my knitting, safely stored in the closet.  It's not that they are gone, it's just that they are not lying around in public, waiting to be used.

Over the decades, TBG has been annoyed, bemused, resigned, but mostly appreciative of the fact that this is how I live.  It's how I lived before I met him.  It's how I've lived since I've known him.  When I travel for a few days he claims to miss my little piles of stuff.  It's one of those It won't change but I can live with it decisions you make in order to stay married this long.

But recently, events conspired to force a change in a habit that defines TBG and irritates me just as much.  (Don't ask; I'm respecting his privacy over the little things as well as the big things.  It's my first rule of blogging - ask before you reveal. Anyway, it doesn't add anything to the story.)

I enjoy the results of this change as much as TBG enjoyed looking at our Ready for The Appraiser Tomorrow Morning domicile.  And so, we've made a pact - we both change.

We will both be rewarded every day.  Our living environment will be more pleasant for each of us.  It's a way to say I love you. It's giving 'til it hurts.

I'm totally stressed out already.... and it's only been an hour.... most of which I spent writing this and thus unable to leave behind any untoward reminders of my existence. 

Oh.  This will not be easy at all.

Friday, March 11, 2022


I have boxes and boxes of photos.  I have boxes and boxes of scrapbooks to be filled.  Most of those scrapbooks are still in the original wrapping.  I have a large stack of blank pages.  I have stickers and decorative papers and embellishments of every size, shape, color, and dimension.  

All of these have been stored in closet after closet until they were moved into the front bedroom of this house by Big Cuter during Queen T's attack on the office closet in December 2020.  They were happy there, resting under Not-Kathy's quilt, covered from prying eyes who might judge the mess.  

There are so many other projects to tackle before putting old pictures into albums for humans who are accustomed to viewing them as pixels on a screen.  But the photos are archival at this point, so storing them in an old fashioned way doesn't seem too odd.   It's just time consuming and messy.  It was easy to put off.

But we are refinancing our mortgage and an appraiser is coming to judge us on Monday and suddenly my quiet pile has become evidence that we are poor homeowners..... or something like that..... as TBG implored me to do something, anything, how can I help this look lots better.... and so, today, I began to go through the stash.

I found that there were more than just photographic memories.  There were collections from trips gone by.  Relics from the 1996 Olympics

playbills from Broadway and Off-Broadway

and maps.  There were lots and lots of maps.  If I had left that box for my grandchildren to find after my demise they would have wondered about my obvious obsession with maps.  I think I saved them to use as background for scrapbooking pages, but they wouldn't know that (look how I've assumed that I never did get around to putting those pictures away).

Not wanting to be remembered as any weirder than I really am, I tossed all of them into the recycling.  

There's more work to be done, and a meeting of the minds over where to store the remaining few boxes, but I made more progress today than I have in the last two decades.  

I'm quite proud.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

What Makes Sense

Sister texted about a friend going off to Poland to help with refugee resettlement; he speaks Polish, so this makes sense.

Niece the Eldest texted about friends on the ground in Ukraine.  She can send them money directly and they can use it to help others with immediate needs.  This makes sense, too - my donation won't be going to overhead. 

Gas prices are inching up and I'm cutting back on driving and that makes sense, too.  I'm willing to pay more to ride around my safe town, doing normal things, not worrying about dumb bombs dropping on my head.  

If women my age and older are taking up arms, paying more for my pleasures makes sense, too.


Joe Biden, former Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is in charge and that makes perfect sense, too.  I spend time every day thinking the gods that the former guy is not currently running the show.

Bombing a maternity hospital makes no sense at all.  I saw that on the news feed and stopped doom scrolling for the day.  Taking care of myself makes all the sense in the world.  I'll save my emotional energies for supporting Queen T - and that makes the most sense of all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

It Takes a Toll

Everything was on time.  We had the extra leg room exit row seats on all four legs of the trip. All the flight attendants were delightful.  There was no turbulence.  The passengers next to me were small, masked, and silent.   

The walk from the airport parking garage to the gate was long. I haven't taken a long walk since Pandemica began.  This was a hell of a way to begin again.  

We trekked through mini-sized Tucson International Airport (you can go direct to Mexico) and from the very end of the outlying E Concourse at Dallas/Fort Worth's contribution to mega-projects to somewhere in the middle of DFW's D Concourse.  The monorail doesn't touch the E Concourse; there are escalators up and down at the end of the 2 sets of moving walkways after turning corner after corner after corner on foot and by the time the gate was in sight I was done.

Have I mentioned that I haven't taken a long walk in quite a while?  I am really out of practice.  

I have everything I need in a closet in Indiana, so I travel there with a big purse filled with cords and chargers and crossword puzzles and a giant cashmere shawl.  It didn't seem that heavy at home.  By the time I arrived at the gates it felt like I was toting a collection of bowling balls. 

Wearing a mask isn't that onerous if you're sitting still.  Exercising (and those walks were exercise) is another thing, entirely.  I was unbothered on the airplane; I barely survived the walks.  Breathing my own exhaust, the mask getting sweatier by the step, my bag getting heavier, my hip announcing its presence with authority - it was unpleasant.

And now we are home, at altitude, drinking water constantly, napping briefly, eating copiously, and feeling every cell in our bodies rebelling. 

We had a marvelous long weekend.  I wish it didn't take such a toll to get there.  


Monday, March 7, 2022


 Hi I am FlapJilly who is WRITING this right now. I am excited to be writing this. Yesterday me and grandma  wrote a book called GIBLET(logan) THE CLUMSY LION which everyone loved very much especially TBG(grandpa)

 sorry there was a ghost on my butt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i am so good at blogging!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What she is not good at is finishing the blog with dignity and aplomb (two new words which were acted out in grand style). 

Instead, there was UNO (of course, she won) and tic-tac-toe (which she won... with some extra curricular activity involving Grandpa's x's which looked like +'s and which she circled over to get three in a row).  We will watch the end of Encanto, have some lunch, stop off at the mall and Barnes and Noble before we pick up Little Cuter in her new office under the golden dome at Notre Dame.

There's a beautiful, gentle snowfall outside the wall of windows.  Grandpa and FlapJilly have moved on to mental tic-tac-toe - a 3rd person is needed to record the squares (numbered 1-9) they hold in their brains,  so I must leave you now to help them.  

It's a slow, easy, wear the same clothes as yesterday day.  

It's perfect.

Cold, Wet, and Rainy

And it doesn't matter.

I have effectively deposited all my winter clothes in two plastic buckets which live in a closet in the basement.  Every time we visit, I find new old clothes, items I'd forgotten I owned, stowed neatly beneath socks and underwear and my favorite t-shirt, the one that says Have No Fear - GRANDMA IS HERE.

We stayed with the little ones while their parents went out to dinner, for the first time in a long time.  We watched Encanto until Giblet decided that he needed to be in the playroom.  We built with giant cardboard blocks, tossed a soft ball around, and generally indulged the youngest member of our crew.  

Bedtime was less fun for Giblet than it was for FlapJilly, who, after an hour or so of listening to his unhappiness, managed to calm her little brother down.  She has the magic touch.  She knew just what to say and how to say it.  She wouldn't let me interfere - Gramma, you stay here.  I'll go.

But while he was wailing, and TBG watched on the monitor to be certain he was safe, she and I had a great time.  We read her horse encyclopedia (in anticipation of the pony she desperately desires) and admired manes and coats and the spots on the appaloosas.  She has saved $40; she's well on her way to buying her own pony.

We talked about Pippi Longstocking, whose hardcover book smiled out at me from her shelf.  Her mom loved Pippi, and as FlapJilly recounted some of her favorite stories - the cannibal king and skating on brushes to wash the floor  - I was awash in memories.  She's not dressing up like Pippi, unlike her mother who had me putting pipe cleaners in her pigtails so they'd stand straight out of her head, just like the red haired heroine.  But admiring Pippi's jolly independence was enough for us.  

She painted my fingernails - silver and gold and a sparkly rosy pink.  We discussed her crying brother - the big people were slightly freaking out but she was calm as calm could be.  This happens a lot.

Eventually, the parents came home, hugs were exchanged, baby brothers were happy, and FlapJilly earned her first babysitting money - $1 from a very grateful grandma.

We're leaving tomorrow.  I'm sad.

Friday, March 4, 2022

On Vacation

After 7 months, we're with the grandkids. Yesterday was filled with air travel and hugs and more hugs and then Arizona basketball..... but no blogging. 

I'll be back in on Monday. Right now I'm going to play with the babies!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

In The Garden

The 5th graders and I went out to Grandma's Garden today.  Though the mandate is gone, most of the students were masked.  All of them stayed far enough away from me - they don't want me to get sick any more than I want to be sick.  

We had much too much fun last week, laying bean seeds on wet paper toweling and sealing into a zip lock bag.  They watched and took notes every day as the seeds shed their coats,


 opened just a touch, 

split in half, revealing a little leaf near his thumb

and sprouted roots

and rootlets

They germinated.  The kids watched as life began.  It may be that I was more impressed with that fact than were the students, but the way they cradled their treasures


showed me that something was going on. They cared about the seeds.... maybe because I told them to give them names - for identification purposes... and because it was fun.

We planted the first crop of our 3 Sisters Garden, Prince Style - using tomato cages instead of corn stalks for support. 

We will get to the squash and corn in the next few weeks.  For now, it's time to watch our babies continue to prosper. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Is COVID Over?

Looking around here, it sure seems that it is.  Masks are a rarity.  Restaurants are packed.  Plans are being made.  Festivals are being held.

Festivals are the perfect super spreader events.  Lots of people, many of whom have traveled from other places to join the fun, congregating and talking and eating and being close.  Seems like the perfect kind of thing to avoid, right?

But then there's the Tucson Festival of Books.  

It's my favorite weekend of the year.  Hours and hours of talks and questions and famous people right there in the same room with me.  Books and ideas and those who love them mingle and mix in polite if sometimes disorderly crowds.  I run into people I haven't seen in forever; I was really looking forward to that after two years of seeing no one.

I reserved tickets to see Billy Collins (twice) and Alexander Vindman and Viet Thanh Nguyen.  I noted, with half my brain, the number of seats in the Ballrooms and auditoriums and classrooms.  600.  350.  110.  

I haven't been around 110 people in 2 years (not counting air travel).  I haven't sat in a room right next to a stranger (not counting air travel) for 2 years.  I haven't gone to an event with more than 12 people (and that was my son's wedding) since March, 2020.  And I just signed up to spend at least 4 hours doing just that.

The University of Arizona's COVID protocols, which the TFOB is following, mandate social distancing and indoor masking (N95 or 3ply surgical), but a quick look at the stands in the basketball arena shows just how well enforced those protocols are. 

So, I sent off an email, wondering just those things.  Would there be mask policing?  Were they limiting the number of attendees to allow for distanced seating?  Just how safe will I be?

So, no, not really, COVID is not over.  It's taken on a different profile, but the question is still the same - just how safe will I be? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Solace, Strength, and Strength

Queen T is understandably upset.  With family and friends living in a war zone, she's glued to the news and the Twitter-verse and Facebook, translating the best from Ukranian or Russian to her solicitous husband, who is just as powerless as the rest of us.

It's been awful for them.

Last Sunday, we listened and offered love and comfort as Big Cuter wrapped her in his arms and then she interrupted the semi-effective cosseting we were offering and announced that there was a gathering at the Civic Center in support of Ukraine and she was going right now.

Big Cuter went to put on going outside pants as we hung up the phone.  These photos arrived several hours later.  

At this most difficult time, she found solace in the presence of strangers.  It's a small world, after all.