Thursday, September 29, 2022


Does planning a trip stop you dead in your tracks?  Do you enjoy the thought of visiting people and places far from home but dread the work it takes to get there?  Do you like traveling but hate organizing it?  If so, welcome to the club.

It's been far too long between visits to our grandkids.  A wedding this summer complicated things.  Illness and surgeries added to the delay.  But FlapJilly has a short Fall Break next month followed the next weekend by Halloween; it is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Getting it all together, though, has been an entirely different state of affairs.  I've had the idea for weeks.  It's taken me that long to figure it out.  I'm still not done.

There are a lot of moving pieces.  Friends to see, places to stay, transportation to be arranged.... it all became overwhelming.  I was stopped dead in my tracks, unable to do more than click through to the various airlines which can get me where I want to go, and sigh.

It's almost $900 to fly from Tucson to South Bend, with a change of planes in between.  We could drive to Mesa and fly Allegiant, but their twice a week flights don't make sense for the trip we want to take, even though the price is right and we could stay with JannyLou and Fast Eddie in their new digs close to the airport.  I love my grandkids, but $2000 is a lot of money, even with our still-restricted-by-COVID lifestyle curtailing most of our spending on fun.

Flying into O'Hare is half the price.  It's just far from where we want to be.  Rent a car?  Take public transportation?  Call a friend?  Obviously, I opted for the latter.  She was delighted to hear from me and thrilled to drive us anywhere we wanted to go, even a road trip to Indiana.  One problem solved.

FlapJilly has Friday and Monday off; her grandparents will take excellent care of her.  Giblet can miss a couple of days of pre-school; we'll keep him home and entertain him once his sister has returned to 3rd grade.  That leaves two un-filled days.  There's not much to amuse us in northern Indiana; we've been to the Studebaker Museum and Notre Dame and the South Bend Art Museum.  There's not much left to see.  It was these empty days that stumped me in planning..... we want to be there for the two weekends but what to do with the time in between?

We have friends with a house on Lake Michigan, but they will just be returning from a cruise and hosting guests might be a challenge.  I tossed and turned and mulled and considered and got nowhere.  I decided to ignore those two days and move to obsessing about the end of the trip, after Halloween on Monday.  I'm lucky to have friends who will always say YES when we want to visit; Seret and Mr. DreamyCakes will feed us and put us up and take us to the airport after we spend a day remembering why we love them so much.

So, now I wait for American Airlines to return my call.  Apparently, we each have a trip credit.  I don't remember which trip was cancelled during Pandemica, but there's documentation so it must have happened.  In order to use those credits, though, I have to speak to a human.  The robot who took my call offered the opportunity to hang up and have a real person call me back within 1 hour and 6 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I've taken the interregnum to type this screed.  My stomach is in knots - for no reason.  My head is pounding - for no reason.  I'm perspiring.  I keep getting up and walking around and coming back to type.  

I will be so glad when the planning is over and I can just go.  There are times when being a grown up is just no fun at all.  Ridiculous, I know.  Foolish and silly and a total waste of emotional energy and yet, here I am, sweaty palms and fingers slipping off the keyboard.

I may just go and look at pricing private jets.

Back in Grandma's Garden

After more than two years of benign neglect (I maintained the irrigation while ignoring everything else), Grandma's Garden was in need of a serious overhaul.  I spent a morning or two pulling weeds, finding a carrot, and swatting small flies.  This was clearly a job for my young gardeners.

The little kids had fun weeding. They didn't make much progress, but they did require a lot of help.  There was no time for photos.  The bigger kids were more adept (they avoided disengaging the irrigation tubing) 
and were stronger.  It took two then three then four of them to extricate the carrot.
They dug around it with a plastic trowel, they pulled,  they grunted, then one intrepid soul got down and dirty and pulled it out.  
I'd have taken a photo but they were too excited to hold it still.   From the other raised bed, came these gardeners with something vaguely cucurbita....  a squash or a melon.... 

We cut it lengthwise and smelled the insides, which were sweet, with a thin round of white flesh between the shell and the juicy seeds.  We broke it up into sections and planted it in a variety of containers and spaces.
As always, there were bugs.  We put this fellow into the garden and watched him maneuver around a leaf.
It was a productive few hours.  We have proof :

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

He's 4

Little Cuter called.  Giblet had something to share with us.  Were we available for a video conference with our 4 year old?

It took a while to turn on my phone and figure out how to make the call include our faces but I got there eventually and we tuned in to see a very happy little boy and a very soft and round panda bear, Bob the Bear, to be precise.

Everyone will get a chance to take Bob home and document their adventures.  What adventures could Bob look forward to tonight?

I'm going to read this book to him   

Apparently, talking to grandparents is also an adventure, and Little Cuter snapped a photo

to include on the pages that Giblet would contribute to the journal which accompanies Bob the Bear.  We were privileged to view it.  

Here's Avery's picture.... here's Lucia's picture..... This is Thomas (interjection from Little Cuter - Thomas the friend at school, not the dog at home).... this is Leo's...

And so it went, each page carefully turned and thoughtfully attributed and described.  We were appropriately appreciative of each student's contribution until there weren't any more pages to turn and he closed the book, leaned into the screen, reached out his pointer finger for the red button and said, Okay, bye!

Apparently the conversation was over.  

He had shared what needed to be shared and he was done.  

We were giggling uncontrollably as Little Cuter grabbed the phone so that FlapJilly could make silly faces at us.  Giblet continued trying to hang up.  He was done.  Time to move on, people. 

We all agreed.  He's 4.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

It's The End of the World As We Know It

and I feel fine!

The sunset really did look like the end of the world.

That's rain.

The desert is amazing.

Monday, September 26, 2022

How It's Going

It's nice to know I'm not alone.

Except for Dkzody, the comments shared all the feelings.  It's so hard to move to a newer way of life, and despite Latane Barton's reminders (and she's 88 years old so has wisdom beyond mine) that it's just a new adventure I don't like it any more than I did last week.  

The 2nd day, I woke up and turned off the alarm and opened the front door before I remembered that I wasn't getting a daily paper delivered any more.  I frowned.  I tried to read the comics on my phone, because, like Kathy G , they are very important to me.   But they were even smaller in pixels than they were in print.  I gave up and opened a book.

I played with the various ways of getting the news on my phone.  I followed The Star and Tim Steller on Instagram and Twitter.  I downloaded The Star's app and hit all the icons to see what happened.  It took me a while, but I figured it out.

The screen looks just like the print edition.  The words are too small for me to read, but the headlines are bold enough to prompt me to highlight and click on anything I want to read and, as if by magic (but probably because of a setting I installed but who remembers?), the content appears in readable form on my screen.  

And I get the whole article without having to find where it's continued on A6.  This was not immediately intuitive, but I got there.

I can click through to a different section.  That was the exciting result of pressing one of the icons.  I pretended I was 5 and clicked through a dozen times or so, marveling at the technology and being forced to agree with Latane that it was fun.

But I still can't read the comics.  

Like Linda Reeder,  I enjoyed reading the paper over a leisurely meal (hers is lunch).  It was my quiet time, without the distractions that come with being connected on line.  Like Carol with all the numbers,
there are parts of the printed paper that I find are irreplaceable.  Hers are the tv listings.  Mine are the crossword puzzles.

It's a new world and I'm cranky about having to keep up.  That's all this is.  Thanks to all the denizens whose words I used to fill out this rant.  I've linked to their blogs (if they have 'em) in case you want to read more.

Friday, September 23, 2022

A Thoughtful Accomodation

I had my mammogram this week.  The protocol includes foregoing lotions, creams, sprays, and goo of any kinds on the day of the procedure.  

I showered right before the appointment.  Muscle memory took my hand to the CeraVe before my brain kicked in.  I didn't open the drawer with the deodorant.

I drove over, changed into a shirt length gown with the opening in the front, and walked down the hall for some squishing.  

The technician was delightful, the experience completely pleasant, and I smiled my way back to the small dressing room where I put my used gown in the basket near the shelves and I saw this:
No smelly patients leave their establishment, that's for sure.

It was truly a thoughtful accomodation.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

A First

For the first time in my life,  I will not be receiving a print copy of the local newspaper.  I'm joining those of you who read The Burrow and The New York Times on-line with your morning refreshments.  

No longer will I unfold newsprint with my orange juice.  Nevermore will the Opinion Page accompany my oatmeal.  I cancelled my subscription to the print edition of The Arizona Daily Star.

Owned by Lee Enterprises, The Star still has editorial cartoons, unlike many other papers.  It runs a full page of Letters to the Editor.  Their Solutions Journalism long form projects really do contribute to making Tucson a better place.  I can access all of that very comfortably on-line.

The comics are another story entirely.

Used to be, there were two full pages of comics and puzzles at the back of the Tucson & Region section.  I'd get there after reading the local news and the opinions and staying up to date on the UofA in the sports pages.  The last of my oatmeal and glass of milk went very well with the lives of fictional characters drawn by artists I've followed for decades.  

All of that was taken away this week.  The comics now occupy one quarter of one page.  They are fewer and, infuriatingly and foolishly, they are smaller.  I mean really smaller.   I have to squint to read them.  This is not conducive to a calm digestion.  

And it costs $85 each month. 

And so, reluctantly and with great regret, I called Subscription Services and changed to digital access only.  

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  I miss my old life already.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Creatures in the Garden

I spent the morning at Prince, on the playground and in the garden.  I tied shoes.  I pulled weeds.  I counted 3-2-1 and never got to GO for races across the concrete.  I pulled carrots that demonstrated their root vegetable-ness by sprouting roots from the carrot itself.  

Strangely, I encountered no wildlife in the garden itself.  I had to step out onto the grassy area to be confronted with the first creatures.  
To me, they looked like small berries.... like the small berries on the Solanum americanum I'd pulled out five minutes before.... a plant that self-seeded in Grandma's Garden.... a plant whose little berries give little kids tummy aches if ingested and therefore has no place in a school garden.  

But the girls insisted they were little lady bugs and in no danger of being eaten.  They spent some time showing me the wings and the dots and by the time they were finished I was convinced.

There was a crowd of kids waiting for my attention.  I have a lizard, a baby lizard said the person with these impossibly tiny hands.  
And, in fact, there was a tiny lizard at the top of the heart in her hand.
It was fascinating to all of us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

lower case letters

I'll resist the urge to go all E. E. Cummings in this post, despite the content screaming for it.  You can thank me later.

I spent the morning with magnetic lower case letters and rotating groups of kindergarteners.  The teacher divided them by ability; what we did with the tiles varied accordingly.  Not that I was given instructions.  Use your imagination was all the direction the teacher felt I needed.  

It's nice to be trusted.

The first group had no trouble with anything except the b and the d.  I told them that I had the same problem in school, too, until I realized that the b carried his belly in front.  We had some fun tracing b's on ourselves - starting with the stick at our heads down to our big bellies - while I considered all the parts of the b and the d, marveling that kids who barely understand that the letters in a word or a sentence have specific, meaningful places are able to remember which letter goes which way.  

The next groups needed a little more help.  We went more slowly, concentrating on the individual letters before sounding out c-a-t.  

Not c-a-f.  

Nope, even though the t and the f look pretty much the same if one of them is upside down. Put the j in the mix and only the dot saves the day.  The fact that the i has a dot, too, is just unfair.

And don't get us started on the u and the n.  I finally realized that the vowels were pink and the consonants were yellow, but up until then I was as flummoxed as they were.  

By the time the last group arrived, we were all a little tired.  One scholar has no English, one's gaze was focused somewhere beyond the drawn window shades, and two were eager if unable.  We matched the tiles to their counterparts on the magnetic board, taking special delight in the beautiful g.

Cleaning up was easy and efficient.  They went to run around at recess before returning to work on math.  I drove home and took a nap.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Little Women, Part 2

I found my copy of Little Women, repaired by Sister at some point in her childhood.

The pages are brittle and almost orange with age.  The print is very small.
But the illustrations are as powerful as ever.   I was struck, once again, by one of the reasons I loved Jo March.  It wasn't only her attic hideaway or her independence or her literary aspirations.  It was something more tangible.

See for yourself.  Here's Jo March:
And here am I, sometime in elementary school.
Obviously, it was meant to be.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Impossible To Be Sad

With my bus number pinned to my left shoulder and my name and classroom on the fish hanging from my neck, I waited for the bus on my first day of school.

The scholars at Prince Elementary School have lanyards with the same information.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I spent the morning in another kindergarten classroom, this one with fewer students in attendance.  The range of abilities is tremendous.  One girl writes her name and copies the sight words (I, the, see, my, am) flawlessly.  One boy switches the pencil from hand to hand, neither side feeling just right.  Tracing the letters was a challenge; recreating them on his own just wasn't happening this morning.  Nope, not at all.   But there were the requisite number of unidentifiable squiggles vaguely representing the letters in the appropriate space on his paper, so that was a win.

Instead of a star with the smelly marker from the teacher, today the scholars received a silly sticker from Grandma Suzi.  Proud doesn't even begin to describe their faces.

And today they got to choose their own sticker - a rare and very special treat.  Why?  Because I was a little bit blue this morning and they put a giant smile on my face, just by being.  

Why did you say thank you to us when you were leaving?

Because you fill my heart and my head and my soul with love.

It's impossible to be sad when you are surrounded by 5 year olds.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

$7,000.00 A WEEK FOR LIFE

I found the labels and stickers and placed them in the appropriate spots.  

I made sure my 10-DIGIT PERSONAL I.D. NUMBER was visible through the window on the back of the envelope.

I stamped it and spent a moment contemplating all the good I could do with $7K a week.  

Publishers Clearing House can come to my house any time now, carrying balloons and waving that oversized check as the cameras record the moment for posterity.  

Do you think they call before they come?  I want to be sure to be here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Jewish Penicillin

As the High Holidays approach, the local Chabad's Jewish Calendar and my parents appear.  I'm in the backyard, bickering with my siblings as Daddooooo takes family pictures - stills and movies - under the pin oak tree. I'm in the kitchen as G'ma takes the navy Kosher cookbook off the shelf over her sink, opening to the same stained pages as always.
I am certain that the Revere Ware pot is 72 years old;  G'ma and Daddooooo received the set as a wedding present in 1952.  I'm almost positive that the Tupperware with the white lid also began life in their kitchen, as did my lifelong love of the matzoh ball.  

I like them all the ways G'ma made them, the fluffy ones and the dense ones, the ones she served at Seders and the ones I could cajole her into serving me for lunch just because.  Consistency was never her strong suit, but I didn't care.  I, the pickiest eater in a family of picky eaters, was delighted with every iteration.  

That is fortunate, because I, too, have a consistency problem with the consistency of my matzoh balls.  TBG claims not to notice anything beyond the Yum Quotient, which is very high.  I notice every difference and consume each of them - the Manischewitz and the Streits; the boiled quickly and the frozen; the golf balls and the baseballs - with reckless abandon.

The liquid itself deserves its own post.  Suffice it to say that its role is to enhance the matzoh balls, rather than take center stage.

Jewish Penicillin - it cures physical aches and pains, and soothes the soul.

As I typed that I remembered the series saying the same thing.  I can see G'ma smiling, with love, at my hubris.  

I told you they were with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Remembering How To Garden

1. Securely fasten hair.  Do not think that crab claw clip will stay in place when branches brush against it. 

2. Have a pop-up straw instead of a screw off top water bottle.  Pushing the button on the side is much cleaner than turning the cap and watching the little dirt particles fall off your glove into the container.

3.  Wear those gloves.  There's a reason you bought them.  There's a reason Little Cuter sent them.

4.  Long sleeves and long pants are crucial.  Yes, it's 80-something-degrees at 7:30 in the morning and it's only going to get hotter but those prickers are just as sharp whether it's cool or hot outside.  

5. You have a kneeling pad.  In fact, you have two.  Use them.  The gravel ground cover/mulch does not feel good on bare skin.  It is really hard to kneel on, too.  

6.  Bring all the tools you think you'll need with you.  It's easier to put away that which you haven't used than it is to get up from the ground and retrieve the missing items.

7.  Don't put too much on your plate.  Bring everything for one type of activity.  Don't assume that fertilizing and pruning and planting will all happen at the same time.

8.  Step back and look before you begin.  Step back and admire when you're finished

9.  Do most of the pruning and weeding before the yard guys come.  Let them pick it up and cart it away.  Save your energy for the fun stuff.  

Monday, September 12, 2022

Doctor's Orders

Friday:  Annual Medicare Wellness Check Up with my Primary Care Physician (PCP).

I, concerned about the test results the law insists the lab send to me before they are sent to the doctor, wondered if my blood pressure and cholesterol were going to send me to the morgue before the new year.  

She, a trained medical professional, explained every single test result that frightened me.  She was able to reassure me that High did not equate to immediate death.  The numbers were trending in the right direction; my medications were working..... except for that bad cholesterol number.

I admitted to going on a hard boiled egg/omelet/egg salad/hollandaise/bearnaise/creamy dressing spree during the spring and the summer.  The eggs, she said, were just fine.  But, did I put mayonnaise in my egg salad?

Of course. (followed by eye rolling and laughing)

Well, maybe you could think about cutting back on that.

I pouted, shrugged my shoulders, and we moved on.

Sunday:  Dr. K and Not-Kathy come over for breakfast and the 10 o'clock football game.

I make Queen T's drenched in butter, double decker French toast, with mascarpone oozing out of the center.  

Dinner includes potato salad with, yes, mayo as the binding agent.  

I'm trying to be a good patient.  I'm just not trying very hard.

Friday, September 9, 2022

He's Living In The White House

Curt Prendergast became our local paper's Opinion editor after Brenda Starr moved away last Fall.  In doing so, he inherited the Thursday morning Zooms - a moderated community forum focusing on the issues (and sometimes the fun) in and around Tucson.  

Juan Ciscomani is running for Congress (against Kirsten Engel, although from her total invisibility you would never know that she is in the race).   I've spoken to Ms Engel twice, and I'm convinced that her views align with mine.  I knew nothing about her opponent. 

I'd not Zoomed with The Star since my friend left. I clicked through and found the link, made sure I was muted and that the video was off, then sat back for the show.  I was not disappointed.

Curt Prendergast is laid back and tenacious, non-threatening and determined, pleasant and piercing.  Juan Ciscomani is well spoken and well dressed, a proud father and husband and son, and believes in everything that I don't.  They put on a very entertaining and informative 45 minute show.

I tried to overlook the candidate's use of the Royal We; the interview was just getting started and maybe he was nervous.  Still, it bothered me.  Is he monumentally self-centered or enmeshed in an evil cabal determined to undermine all the progress toward an equitable society that's been made over the last half century.  Or is he falling mindlessly into Campaign Response #11.

If only that were the worst thing that happened.  Unsurprisingly, it was not. 

Did I mention that Curt is direct?  Our readers are interested, and it's the elephant in the room question so: Do you believe that Joe Biden is the lawfully elected President of the United States?

My face nearly broke from the gigantic smile that question posed.  The options were simple:  Yes or No.   Or so I thought.  Mr. Ciscomani had an interesting take on the question:  He's living in the White House.  

Curt asked him again, agreeing with the occupancy part while putting the focus back on the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.  Well, we can all agree that he's living in the White House, and will be living there for two more years.

Curt tried a third time and, with a benign expression on his face, the candidate replied That's my answer.

And so they moved on to the states deciding what's right for women based on that state's values, although he allowed that as he had a wife and three daughters he'd be okay, kinda sorta, with exceptions for the horrible actions of rape and incest and to save the mother's life. 

Despite the obvious resonance high capacity magazines and background checks have here in Tucson, Mr. Ciscomani was adamant.  He believes in the 2nd Amendment, no matter the emotional cost to his Southern Arizona constituents. I was tempted to remind him that Martha McSally tried the same thing when she ran for the same office, and she lost... and she lost again when she ran for Senate.  But if he thinks the radical left is coming for his guns there's no reasoning with him at all. 

He rambled through an excoriation of Democrats' spending, paying people not to work during the Pandemic thus pumping too many dollars into an economy that had serious supply chain issues and when you have more money than goods that leads to inflation.  At least I think that was the connection he was making.  

I had a hard time moving on from his opposition to the financial lifeline that kept families together with food on the table when working was impossible to take offense at his simplistic explanation of a complicated, once in a lifetime economic experience.  He admitted that gas prices are coming down but.....

When the half hour turned into 45 minutes and our time was up, I was more informed.  I'm able to make a sensible decision.  

I'm going to vote for the person with a heart.  I cannot support someone who weasels out of answering the question that separates Team Trump from everyone else.  To call that behavior disingenuous puts too polite a shine on it.  Dissembling?  Hiding in plain sight?  Dog Whistling?  Pretending? It's certainly deceptive, and I think that's the point.   

I find it telling that nowhere on his website does he say that he is a Republican.  

Really.  No where.  I just opened every page and couldn't find it.  Not even in his introduction:

I am excited to announce I am running for U.S. Congress in Arizona’s new 6th congressional district to represent the community and state I proudly call home. 

Seems to me that sentence demands a party affiliation. Then again, his signs don't identify him as a Republican either.

He's the worst kind of politician, running away from telling us who he really is, hiding behind obfuscations and omissions, ready to get elected and rip off his disguise and show us what's hiding beneath. 

He's behind Ms Engel by a slim margin, and, according to Politico, he carries the burden of an unpopular patron (Ducey) and a toxic Republican ticket (Masters, Lake, Finchem).  But I've never gone wrong underestimating the voters of Arizona, and I'm scared.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022


I've said it before and I'll say it again - girlfriends make life worthwhile.
A soft manila envelope appeared in my mailbox, a discovery that made Little Cuter extraordinarily happy. I carried it in with the lunch I was delivering and opened it on the towel protecting the couch from dripped tzatziki.
The accompanying verbiage, on a very impressive, heavy weight note card, was pure Little Cuter. One of her besties across campus thought that since we had newly-engineered body parts we should have newly gifted Engineering swag.
Very, very soft t-shirts in XL... perfect for sleeping

There was joy all over the place - each one of us feeling connected and happy and seen (to quote this year's Bachelorette's favorite feeling).  TBG and I reveled in the fact that our daughter's friend is basking in the happiness our kid feels because we will be functional once again.  And she's happy for us, too.  
There was more in the mailbox.  A flatter manila envelope contained this embroidery-I-can-turn-into-anything-I-want that SIR's brother's wife stitched just for me.  She's warm and wonderful and
even though we haven't seen each other in some time, we think of her quite often.  That she was looking for a project and thought of me as she stitched makes this extra special, because I know just how she feels.  I send crocheted baby blankets filled with loving thoughts in every loop.  To receive a similar gift warms the cockles of my heart.  
Rocky called last week.  Her name came up on the caller ID and TBG and I said, at the same time, with the same intonation - She's calling because she forgot to send us an anniversary card!

TBG, who rarely talks on the phone, took the receiver from my hand and relayed the entire scene to our delighted friend, who was apologizing all over the place as TBG laughed and called her ability to recognize birthdays and anniversaries with physical cards memorable for their consistency,

It's always nice to be reminded that she cares.


Back At It

Today was a balmy, ninety-something cloudless Tucson morning, with a high breeze that didn't do much to cool things off, but which moved the air just enough.  TBG was able to drive himself to PT.  For the first time in weeks I was alone in my house.  

No one would notice what I was doing.  I could read.  I could turn the volume on the music up way too loud.  I could play Candy Crush Soda.

I chose to garden.

Yesterday, my clippers and I went to work on the dead edges of the hanging basket and the big containers.  I was ruthless.  I ripped out and cut back and removed.  I reorganized and replanted.  

The garden center's newsletter told me to give my roses a haircut, so I did.  LiLou, our grand-pig, did a fine job of trimming their branches on her last visit; there wasn't much left for me to do.  

I watered in the changes before going inside to be sure TBG wasn't writhing in agony.   

But today I had no one to care for.  I cranked up the music (the neighbors weren't home) and dug a trench (for the fertilizer) around the drip line of the Meyer lemon tree  Walking with the hose, bending, digging, spraying myself and not minding at all I soaked the tree and the roses surrounding it, not stopping until

there was a lovely puddle waiting to be absorbed.  Yesterday's deep watering had loosened up the soil; it was very receptive this morning.  I watched the water, the bubbles and the currents and the flow.  The dragon fly came back; we spent some time reminiscing.  

In the front, I filled the passive irrigation buckets around Tree, then carried the 25 pound bag of fertilizer from the UV to all those wet places, which I wet again before adding the right amount of nutrients and wetting each one for the last time.  

In the front yard, the not-that-much-lighter bag of fertilizer and I fed Tree.  I washed cochineal scale off the prickly pear cacti.  I spent some time pondering the advisability of another oleander, a fast growing though somewhat thirsty hedge that could fill the space left when the desert willow keeled over and turned brown.

I found a way to store the rest of the fertilizer and hoisted it up to the top shelf, because Queen T organized the potting shed and that's where the fertilizers go.  I took a final tour, planning my next projects.  

It's been wonderful to spend two days doing what I love for as long as I want without my body deciding that we were finished.  I love my new hip.  Yay Science!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

A Modern Retelling

Little Cuter texted me this picture of her kid eating mac and cheese (and drinking a Coke!) at the Annual Labor Day Family Fish Fry.  FlapJilly needed her mom by her side (not socializing with the extended family) as she ate and read (a behavior of which both her mother and I heartily approve).
And what was she reading as her mother and I were texting (apparently an acceptable behavior, as was posing for a picture for Gramma ("I love being in the blog!")?

Prepare for your head to explode.

What's the latest graphic novel? 

Little Women

She is engrossed.  She loves it.  This is her 2nd time reading it.  Jo is obviously her fave.  

Jo is FlapJilly's middle name, a family name she shares with her mother and Auntie M.  It's also an homage to the woman I wanted to be when I grew up.  I read Little Women every few months for more than a few years.

A multi racial family during the Civil War?  Very woke. 

A quick on-line search revealed that this is a graphic retelling, where the girls are siblings in a blended family.  The blurb upset me; I don't like change.  I don't understand the need to remove the context (what's wrong with a little history?). 

But a smart publisher obviously bought the concept.  Although she was surrounded by cousins she adores, our voracious reader (every room she creates begins with a bed, a lamp, and bookshelves, of course!) moved around with the book by her side, ready to be opened to her fabulous bookmark as soon as she finished her big bite.

The overview at Barnes and Noble only revealed so much, and I had so many, many questions.  Recognizing the limits of texting, I cut to the chase: 

Does Beth contract AIDS?


I thought all modern kid lit was culturally relevant.

Apparently not... and we moved on to other things, leaving behind what else had been done to Miss Alcott's opus.  But I took my questions with me, and they've been niggling and nagging all day.  It wasn't just the stories (which were wonderful).  It was the relationships and the Should I/Should I Not decisions that resonated then and which inform much of what I do now.

I hope the themes of maximizing your potential while recognizing the costs; of self-less service to others; of life's fragility; of the importance honesty to yourself and with those you encounter along the way still exist in the modern retelling.

I really, really hope so.

I think I have to go to Bookmans tomorrow, trade in some store credit, and see for myself.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Labor Day

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

My Zaydeh was a paperhanger. So was my uncle, his son,. They belonged to the Paperhanger's Union. When he retired, my Zaydeh got a lapel pin and a photograph of himself. The also-retiring 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 cudgels in their relationship, management/labor, spent a lot of time bruising the edges of their relationship.

LABOR:  I sat on Zaydeh's shoulders, bouncing around the living room to his enthusiastic rendition of 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.

On the other hand, Daddooooo inherited his father's bridal shop, working alongside my uncle,  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.  His generalized anger at his life was unassailable; the Union Guys were real.

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, who ran for President from prison (sigh.... in 2022 this is an eerily terrifying precedent).

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, loved the fact that the shop was his.  

But the ladies who sewed and who did the piece-work 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.

When Daddooooo wasn't  around to hear, 
G'ma told stories of marching with her parents in Solidarity Parades  Daddooooo railed about union bullies, but rarely in G'ma's presence.

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

Friday, September 2, 2022

It's Just Not Right

I took this picture on August 21st.
I took this one on August 24th.
Not even September.

It's one thing to have school start on August 4th, instead of the Wednesday after Labor Day.
It's another thing entirely to have Halloween decor and treats greeting me at the grocery store when it's triple digits outside.  

What's the damn rush?


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Running From #TFG

#TFG, as the Urban Dictionary puts it, is an abbreviation most commonly used on Twitter to describe the disgraced, double impeached, 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump.

It may be that TFG is losing his appeal.  The crazies are still all over the media, all over the Letters to the Editor page in the local paper, delighting the MSNBC talking heads by bloviating on Fox.  But on the ground (literally, on the ground) here in Tucson, things are changing.

It's VOTE FOR ME time on the sidewalks and the median strips.  There are the usual MY NAME HERE signs and the THIS IS IMPORTANT SO VOTE YES signs.  There are family portraits (replacing the ominous black posters he started out with).
And there used to be portraits of #TFG, like this one from Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, the one who wants to fire the administration, whatever that means.
Since things started heating up down in Florida, since it became clear that #TFG was handling our nation's secrets the way he handled everything else (ie poorly), the signs have begun to change.  

This is how Kari Lake is running now:
I'm not sure who excised #TFG from this sign.  I'm not sure why.  I just know that it made me smile when I drove past it going south.... smiling so hard that I had to turn around and pull into the bike lane to take a photo.

And she's not the only one.  Abe Hamadeh, an election denier who's running on the Republican ticket to become Arizona's Attorney General, plastered the town with these signs:
This glared at me from every corner, every turn I took.  And then, bringing TBG home from physical therapy, we saw this:
Invoking Lincoln instead of Trump.

Honestly, Abe, really?  Do you think people won't notice?

I don't know if they are pivoting away from Trump; the verbiage on the bottom of the sign promotes all #TFG's shouting points.  But the fact that two rabid #TFG supporters are cancelling him must mean something, right?

I suppose it's hard to ask for my vote to put you in charge of law and order in my state when the guy who endorsed you is ever more clearly a criminal.