Wednesday, November 30, 2022

And So It Begins

It started in Chicago.  I bought large, round, glass containers with white and red and yellow lids at Crate and Barrel, filled them with homemade brownies, and dropped them off at 5 or 6 houses.

Fast forward 40 years, and I'm no longer shopping at Crate and Barrel for brownie packaging.  It's no longer half a dozen close friends who are on the receiving end of my baking. The list now stretches to three pages.  There are 80 some entries, and not all of them are households.  I bring plates of treats to the garden store and the Pilates studio.  Prince Elementary School has many recipients, yet only occupies one line on the spreadsheet.

It's a labor of love, albeit a messy one.  Chocolate ends up everywhere; this morning's first batch sent it right to the floor.

It's not really my fault - the bowl was too small.  I usually used my large glass mixing bowl, but that broke, after many years of dedicated service, sometime this past year.  I tried the metal bowl with straight sides, but the spatula and I got a little carried away and the result is in the photo.

I bake three batches at once when I'm in Brownie LIst mode.  I tripled the recipe and wrote it on a squiggly piece of turquoise note paper.... a piece of paper which has somehow disappeared since last year.  I did the math again... and then once again when I was cooking and realized that I couldn't possibly mean three tablespoons of salt and baking powder were required.  No, I recalled as I stood, bemused, in front of the bowl.  This is the reason I bought a set of measuring spoons that included a one and a half tablespoon.  This confusion is why I wrote the recipe down in its trebled form all those years ago.  Math and I do not intersect well.  Writing it down saves heartache.

I used up the last of the trin of Baking powder, the one I bought for last year's brownies.  I have now proven that a person of my baking havbits uses one container per twelve months.  After a small mental nod to Dr. K's long ago query - how long does a tube of toothpaste last for you?- I added baking powder to my grocery list and moved on.

Something always goes awry with the first batch, and this year was no exception.  No, I didn't spill the 10 pound bag of sugar I purchased for the occasion, although I tried.
I didn't burn the butter and chocolate, or forget to add the flour, disastrophes from years gone by.  This year I forgot to set the timer.  I left the kitchen after cleaning up and starting the dishwasher.  I came to Lenore the Lenovo and did some work.  I wondered why the timer wasn't buzzing, but I didn't get up until I smelled something verging on the unpleasant emanating from the oven.

My brownies are usually very gooey, one might say undercooked.  But people like them that way, or have come to expect them that way, and haven't complained about them arriving that way, so that's the way they are supposed to be.  These three pans were definitely not gooey.  The edges were uncuttable by my don't-damage-the-non-stick-surface spatula; I had to resort to the Cutco spreader with its rounded metal blade.  

I salvaged enough of the middle pieces to fill several gift bags for the staff at Prince.  I cut the rest into small pieces and brought them to Grandma's Garden.  The grown ups were delighted.  The kids didn't notice the difference.  I stopped and bought more baking powder on the way home.

All in all, it was a very successful first day of Holidaze 2022.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Make The Beeping Stop!

TBG and I bought our first house in the mid-1980's.  Neither of us was particularly skilled in homeownership.  Daddooooo, however, was a true pro.  Upon entering the building for the first time, he headed straight for the basement and then the garage, taking note of the furnace and the water line and the circuit breakers and the insulation and whatever else was important.

Unfortunately, we paid very little attention to those details, which led to my frantic phone call several months later, crying that my basement was covered in a foot of water and the hose from the washing machine was doing a crazy dance against the wall.  

He told me where to go to turn off the water.  He never scolded me for my inattention to the important things.  He recommended several solutions to dispose of the water (using it as a kiddie pool for his grandchildren was his first choice) and wished me luck.

I wish he had told me to write down the location of that valve for future reference.  That's a lesson I wish I had learned.

Tonight, just as I was adding the last ingredients to the sauce pan, the smoke alarms began to beep.  Not just one alarm announcing it needed a new battery.  No, this was the whole system, in unison, blaring the world's most uncomfortable sound in a continuous stream of agony.  Neither of us noticed any smoke from the cooktop, not that it mattered.  A voice joined the beeping, saying FIRE over and over and over again.  

I was up to my elbows in dinner prep so TBG said he'd take care of it.  He twisted and disconnected and removed batteries and the noise never stopped.  He tried all manner of configurations of those actions on one of the two units we can reach with the short ladder.  Nothing worked.  

I turned the dinner down to low and went to Google.  The 3 Simple Steps to Stop the Beeping were, he promised, exactly what he'd done.  I went back to Google and scrolled to the third entry, which told me what I already knew, what I had learned years ago, what I promised myself I would never forget.  

There's a reset button in the middle of the faceplate.  You hold it down for 15 seconds.  You let go.  The whole system shuts down, one by one, as you listen.  

The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized.  Neither TBG nor I go up tall ladders any more; repairs like the one he tried are really too dangerous   But that button is big and raised, with a fairly flat surface, and can easily be pushed by the end of a broom or a mop while your feet are planted firmly on the floor.  

I knew this before Google reminded me.  I wish I had written it down.  

Monday, November 28, 2022

Made In Tucson

All the vendors were local.  Not all of the were as snazzy as she was.
There were blocks and blocks of them, on both sides of the street, in parking lots and enclosed spaces and undeveloped parcels.  There was lots of street parking within a block or two, and street parking is free on the weekends (and after 5pm every day.... another reason to love living here).  

Taos Bubbe and I had planned a lovely day of breakfast and shopping, but her tummy ache got in the way.  I found out about the change of plans as I was putting gas in my car, a block away from Not-Kathy and Dr. K.  A phone call and a quick change of sweatshirts and Not-Kathy was in The UV with me.

This was a fortuitous turn of events.  Grandma's Garden was right on the way.  I used my special key,  we examined the bench that needs shoring up, I locked up the gate and we continued downtown.  The GPS got us through the construction and luck gave us a parking space one long block from one end of the fair.

There were homemade knit ski caps and metal art.  There was a lot of jewelry.  Apparently, vinyl stickers are a very big deal; every 5th tent was selling some.  There were 3-D printed plant casitas and t-shirts reminding us that we were on Tohono O'odham ancestral lands.  Saguaros and sugar skulls were everywhere.

I was attracted to the fused glass, and found a menorah which was too thin to stand on its own but which I just had to have.  Luckily, I had Not-Kathy by my side.  

After visiting the rest of the vendors, we stopped by the Makers Space where my friend has learned welding and lusts to use the lathe and the turner and the tiny jewelry making tools.  It's a cooperative space filled with her people.  

We took that energy back to her house where Dr. K and I chatted while she rummaged in the garage for supplies, showed me various options, and created the perfect stand for my pretty menorah.  
It's nice when the solution to a problem creates an opportunity for a friend to find joy.  She was as happy to make it as I was to receive it.  She took unfinished scrap wood and made something useful.  She is the living, breathing incarnation of a frugal person. 

I'm so glad she is my friend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Feeling Thankful

The Loop is beautifully paved and marked and signed. Before Pandemica, Brenda Starr and I walked some of it, section by section, gradually increasing our speed and endurance.  We went from barely making it from the parking lot to the trailhead to climbing gentle rises.  We weren't fast, but we were faithful.  

This morning, Taos Bubbe and I covered three and a half miles in little over an hour, out and back from Brandi Fenton Park (which has a lot of parking lots, all of which I drove through, looking for her, before I settled into a space and hoped for the best) to the ramp up to the Swan Bridge ..... the other side of the bridge where Brenda Starr and I started our last walk.  

I had forgotten how wonderful it is to move outdoors.  Except for a lot near the wash where two gigantic excavators were maneuvering, loudly, around yards of huge boulders, there was no extraneous noise.  

Sneakers and bike tires provided the background to the stories we told, stories including friends from college, people we've known for 50 years. I hearkened back to power walking along Lake Michigan with Dr. P, when our children were the same age as our grandchildren are now.  

We were friends then and we are friends now. We told the same kinds of stories, walked at the same kind of pace, reacted the same way to whatever was provoking us that morning.

And it's always been first thing in the morning.

I'm thankful to Science for giving me a new hip.  

I'm thankful to Pima County for providing a lovely space. 

And I'm thankful to all the women I've known along the way, the women who keep me grounded and amused and energized; who broaden my horizons and help narrow my focus; who walk with me, every day, sharing our stories, in one another's lives, no matter how long it's been since we've been on a walk-in-real-life together.

I hope your tomorrow is filled with smells that make you smile and all the feels that fill your heart.
If you are traveling, be safe.
If you're cooking, don't burn the rolls.

I'm posting pictures Thursday and Friday.
I'll be back with verbiage on Monday.

Happy Erev Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

What Passes for Autumn in Tucson

This is the time of year when we start all our phone calls with a weather report.  While my grandchildren are throwing snowballs in Indiana, I am wearing shorts and wondering what to plant in my containers.  They are having a wonderful time, and I don't begrudge them a moment's pleasure.  But in my 8th decade, the warmth and sunny skies make November a much more palatable month.

We do have our own opportunities for leaf peeping.  These two crepe myrtles were planted at exactly the same time, and share the same exposure.  Why one is orange

and the other is red, remains a mystery .

The  Pedilanthus bracteatus (Tall Slipper Plant) on the left lives in a 4' tall planter, mostly shaded from the sun.  The yellow branches need to be trimmed, another sign of fall.  Once it's cleaned up, there will be tiny red flowers sprouting from the most unlikely places.  They set off the little red and white Santa faces I hook onto their stalks.

Yes, we have America's weirdest politics, but it was sunny and 70-something today, with nary a cloud in the sky.  I walked without a sweater, pushing up my long sleeves.  I didn't risk slipping on ice.  And, because it's Autumn in Tucson, there's little chance of rain.

We are in the right place for this time of our lives, messy politics and all.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Prepping the Second Raised Bed

The medium size kids broke up the clots and added the contents of the compost and seed cover bags Guy the Groundskeeping Guru found for us.  There was much discussion over the amount of smoothness necessary to make Grandma happy.
The bigger kids came.  There was a 30 pound bag of soil that had to move from one end of the garden to the other.

She was bound and determined to do it all by herself.
Once she arrived, there was the problem of getting into the heavy plastic to the potting soil inside.  Again, she wanted no help.
We shared in her joy as she dumped her treasure into the bed.

And then there was combining and mixing and comingling and all the other words for smooshing it all together
When it was smooth as could be, we laid the irrigation tubing  before they had to return to class.  I turned it on, and found that the emitter remaining after the tube popped itself off  was sending a jet stream right into our mandarin orange tree.
I turned off the station that waters the tree.  I love it when that which is not planned turns into a perfect solution. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

How Am I Doing?

I'm checking in with myself, six months after my hip replacement, nearly thirteen years after a young man with an untreated mental illness, who didn't know to use his words, thought a gun would solve his problems.

That's how I describe my trauma to the Prince scholar gardeners.  Saying the words used to bring me right back to lying on the sidewalk outside the Safeway, holding Christina-Taylor's hand.  These days, they don't touch my heart at all.  That's progress.

I am able to look at the faces and judge the lesson learned without feeling the bullet wounds.  I can have conversations like why did they let someone like that have a gun, anyway? and steer them to voting and using your voice and talking to your grown ups about how you feel... and, by the way, I think you are absolutely right.

Not hurting has a lot to do with it, I'm sure.  I'm up and down, sitting on the edge of the raised beds, leaning over, standing up without pushing myself off the ground, carting 30 pound bags of soil from my car and over the low fence into the garden.  I don't mind bending down to pick up the trowels and buckets left by the last group of stragglers.  Nothing hurts when I do any of that; all of it was problematic before science fixed my hip.

I'm walking at least a mile outside every day, and that has led to some interesting aches and pains.  My toes hurt.  The balls of my feet hurt.  My ankles and shins remind me of their presence with alarming regularity.  And today, as recompense for annoying them during an hour with the Pilates Diva yesterday, my quads and my hamstrings joined the chorus of complaints.

At least I figured out what shoes to wear.  And I can't really blame all those body parts.  I haven't used them correctly in more than a decade.  And the rose accented epsom salts from Whole Foods make an excellent foot bath... which makes TBG laugh.... and that makes me happy.

My progress in Pilates is remarkable - to me, anyway.  My knees are facing the same direction and so are my toes - all of it without any special effort on my part.  I'm noticing a lack of lurch where before I was canted to one side.  Having a mobile hip joint makes everything more difficult - just the way it should be.  There are no more accommodations.  

My body is whole.  It's just going to have to learn how to be used.  I measured my full five feet, one quarter inch when last I stood against the doctor's yardstick.  I'm listening to pod casts and enjoying the neighborhood on foot... and my feet are the most worrisome part of my body right now.  

That's progress.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Remembering Life Lessons

The irrigation in Grandma's Garden at Prince Elementary School was on the fritz.  The scholar gardeners had never heard that expression, one that I heard in my house anytime anything went awry.

I pulled up the tubing so that the gardeners could till the soil.  Without the need to be careful of the irrigation!! they could trowel and dig and mix with impunity.  They did a wonderful job.  The soil in the first bed was almost loamy; if love were a nutrient the seeds would have sprouted already.

We re-laid the lines, burying them beneath the reconstituted soil.  I went to the control box to manually activate the system.  I had explained it to the kids; I wanted them to see the water in action.  

Unfortunately, the system did not cooperate.  Nothing happened.  Thankfully, the whistle blew and they were off to class, leaving me alone with the dysfunction. 

I checked all the connections.  I made sure the water was running from the main line to the garden, remembering when I had a similar experience that was attributed to a groundskeeping error.  I loosened and tightened the connectors one more time.

Everything looked fine.  Some of the tubing holes were ridged with lime, but all of them had enough of an opening to allow the water to flow.  And yet, it would not.  

I reset the timer on the control box, wondering if Manual might be the only setting that didn't work.  But Automatic was just as recalcitrant.  There was nothing.  I made a mental note to call Jessie The Irrigation Guru, and locked the playground gate behind me.

That was last Wednesday.  I went back to the garden on Tuesday to start work on the second raised bed, and took another look at the timer.  The front, the top, the sides, the bottom - I wiped away some lime deposits but saw no structural imperfections.  

I turned to the back of the box and had to laugh.  There is a compartment for 2 AA batteries.  The system has been in operation since before Pandemica (though turned off for 18 months in the middle of lockdown).  I have never replaced the batteries.... actually, I never knew they were there so I couldn't possibly have replaced them.  

Getting the cover off to remove them was impossible for my arthritic fingers.  I'll bring a pair of needle nose pliers tomorrow, along with another set of Duracell AA's.  I'll also bring this famous family story:

The neighbor knocks on our door.  "Is your Dad home, Brother?  My refrigerator is broken and I'd like to see if he can help."

"He's not home.  But I'll come with you."  

He was 5.  She was a nice neighbor.  She said, "Sure."  They walked 2 doors to her house.

He opened the refrigerator door; the interior light did not go on.  He lay down on the linoleum and reached his hand behind the machine, grabbed the cord, and pushed it firmly back into the socket, firmly.

"There you go!  All fixed." 

Is it plugged in was, from then on, the first question we asked when something went on the fritz.  I can't believe I forgot it.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Once Again, It's Gone

The next time Comcast/Xfinity decides that our monthly bill isn't high enough,  I'll remind them of their failure to perform. 

It's like the being football's extra point kicker. You have only one job.  It's the same job every time.  It's what you are supposed to be good at doing. 

Screwing it up shouldn't be an option.  In this case,  losing service twice in 8 days definitely counts as screwing up.  Especially when it means I have to use my phone as a mobile hot spot to post this. 

 I'm happy that the phone can connect to the internet (although now that Arizona's elections are decided it's not really necessary). I'm proud that I figured out how to create my mobile hot spot.  I wish I didn't have to be so clever. 

More tomorrow when (if????) the problem is resolved. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Football Blues

DeShaun Watson, a talented quarterback, is ready to begin practicing with his new team, the Cleveland Browns.  

He's also been accused of sexual assault by 24 women, massage therapists for his former team.  He's not been convicted, and the old team settled lawsuits with most of the women, facts which some use to cast doubt upon his culpability.  And I get that athletes are prey to these kinds of accusations.  

But two dozen times?  Even the NFL couldn't look past it. They decided that missing 11 games and getting therapy was punishment enough.    

Oh, yes, there was a financial penalty as well, a $5,000,000 fine and $690,000 in lost salary. 

Of course, he has already received a $44,965 million signing bonus, and he has a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract.  Is there that much difference in living on 275 or 270 million dollars for the next five years?  I'll never know.

What I do know is that I wouldn't want my husband or son or brother to share a locker room with him. 

Yes, I'm judging him.  If the Texans weren't worried about it they wouldn't have settled 30 cases.  If he weren't a talented quarterback neither team would want him around.  There's not been a spirited defense of his character.  And there are two dozen women willing to talk about his penis in public.

The football world is all agog.  Will he be in sync with the rest of the team?  Will he be in shape?  I could  care less.  

I've put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.  In the weekly family pool, I pick teams based on where I've lived, where those I love live, and a random something - blue uniforms; mammals; predators - for the rest.  Some years I win, most years I lose.  My system requires no real involvement in the game itself.  There are always certainties, teams in New York and Northern California and Chicago and Indiana and Arizona..... and, until now, Cleveland, TBG's home town. 

Now my pick is Not The Browns.

It's all I can do.

Monday, November 14, 2022

I'm So Proud of Us

I really am.

Americans believed Joe Biden when he said that this was a battle for the soul of America.  

Americans stood up to a Supreme Court which obviously does not represent the will of the people.

Young people who grew up with Active Shooter Drills used their power to elect gun safety legislators.

And Mark Finchem, the insurrectionist election denying Trump acolyte, was the only clear cut loser among all the MAGA Republicans running for state wide executive offices.  It seems that most Arizona voters want their votes to be counted and certified the old fashioned way - honestly, reflecting the will of the voters and not that of the Secretary of State.

We still don't know who will be our Governor or our Representative; they're still counting.  And counting is what they should be doing.  They are verifying and curing and counting.... hundreds of thousands of mail in ballots which dropped off on Election Day.... and it's so much fun listening to the talking heads positing this that and the other about who those voters might be.

Mark Kelly won.  In his email after the announcement, he noted contributions from all 50 states.  

I'm so proud of Americans.  We're really seeing beyond the craziness.  We voted to save our democracy.

Michael Beschloss said, on MSNBC, that we were watching history being made.  He called this one of the 3 most consequential elections in our history.  

I'm kinda tired of being in the midst in that ancient proverb:  May you live in interesting times.  I'm ready for a little bit of boring right now.

Friday, November 11, 2022

I Was Misinformed

Apparently, Steve Kornacki was right and I was wrong.  I misunderstood the Secretary of State's website and went to sleep with a false sense of optimism.  This morning I woke up to find that there are 200,000ish votes left to count in Maricopa County alone, and that while Mark Kelly's 85,000ish vote lead is good, it's not great.

Katie Hobbs is holding on to the Governor's race by the tippy tip tips of her fingers.  My Congressperson has yet to be determined; as of 4:59pm today(Thursday) with 69%  reporting.  I highlight that to make the point that there is no indication of what whole 69% is part of.  I'm a careful reader; this lack of precision is just adding to the craziness.

I slept well last night, and I've been content all day. Democracy survived.  There are still many too many people who don't believe the nose on their face, even when looking in the mirror.  But there are also those who recognize real threats, and who are willing to go to the polls to defend against them.

Look at Kansas.  Look at Kentucky.  Not exactly places that jump to mind when I think about protecting abortion, and yet both states' constitutional amendments banning abortion went down to defeat.  

Look at Maxwell Frost, 25 years old and a member of the House of Representatives.  When asked how it happened, he talked about guns and choice and health care and a living wage.  If you talk about these things, you'll find that most people believe, too.  

Look at John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania.  Fetterman won while recovering from a stroke.  Shapiro, whose opponent is apparently in more legal trouble than Trump, ran an impressive campaign; the talking heads are considering him a national player.

Look at the entire state of Michigan, now run by a Democratic tri-fecta.  Someone said Buttigieg/Whitmer in 2024.

Though we were teetering on the brink, I'm breathing easier.  The center held.

It's good to know that the country which our veterans protected is still worthy of their service.  

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Election, 2022

I want it to be over.  I do not like living on the edge.  

That's what I typed 20 minutes ago.  Since then, the Secretary of State's fantastic website has updated itself to 100% of precincts reporting.  It's still not officially declared, but this looks like the results.

The margins in some of the races are very slim - House (9,482); Governor (4,083);  Attorney General (3,732) - with 100% of the precincts reporting.  The numbers are constantly being updated, but the changes are small... 7,  10,  13.  MSNBC has Joy Reid reporting that only 77% of the precincts are in; I'm sorry if you were provided incorrect facts by the mainstream media.  I promise, you can trust me, at least.  

The MAGA candidate for Gabby's seat, Democratic since our arrival in 2006, and his counterpart for Attorney General are the probable winners over two very qualified women, and I'm disappointed.  

My little slice of the world is now going to be represented by someone whose values are antithetical to mine. I will have no voice in the House of Representatives.  A man who answered No one disputes that Joe Biden is living in the White House to repeated questions about the validity of the 2022 election will now have a seat in Congress, representing me, speaking for me, voting for me.

It occurs to me as I'm typing this that this has never been the case, ever, at any time in my life.  I've always had a Representative who shared most of my views on most things.  

I am really quite bereft right now.  I knew that looking at these results would bring me down.

We've had a Republican Attorney General and a Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction  in Arizona so I'm not expecting much change there.  It would have been nice to have a competent human, one who has worked as an actual lawyer in actual courtrooms, as Attorney General.  Alas.  The SPI has been there, done that, to no great acclaim.  If you thought Dobbs turned back the clock, you'll find no disagreement here.

That Katie Hobbs is ahead by just over 4,000 votes is at once gratifying and terrifying.  Kari Lake has been making denial noises for a week or so; I wish the margin were more like Mark Kelly's (83,251).  

The news is not all terrible.  Though barely squeaking by, a W is a W for Katie Hobbs.  

Our elections are safe, at least for the immediate future.  Insurrectionist and Election Denier Mark Finchem lost by 77,569 votes.  But 858,609 Arizonans thought he'd be a fine Secretary of State and that makes me shudder for our democracy.  

My friends, the Hernandez sisters, won elections to the State Legislature in their individual Districts; they will be joined by all those I supported from my District.  At least on the micro level, in Phoenix, I will be represented appropriately.

And Mark Kelly withstood the accusations of promoting nuclear war and causing inflation and poisoning our children with fentanyl by allowing child rapists to carry it across the border (yes, there was all of that and more).  

He will be my Senator for the next 6 years.  That makes me very happy.

This is the will of 44.41% of the eligible voters in my state.... all 1,840,493 of us who cast ballots.  I hope that the 2,303,436 people who could have voted but did not take the time to do so know that they are not allowed to complain about the people in power.  

They had their chance and they blew it.  My candidates may not have prevailed, but I participated. At the end of the day, I have to be satisfied with the result.  

That's how it's supposed to work.. just as Tim Ryan said last night:

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Off Line

The Burrow was disconnected.  Cut off from the world.  No way out.  No way in unless you knew my phone number and could text me.

It was exhilarating, for a while.  There was nothing I could do.  It was not my problem to solve.  I never turn on the tv when I am at home, so I wasn't as unhappy as TBG, who missed his talking heads and Perry Mason.  

Anyway, the recorded voice told me that it would be fixed by 11:15.  I did some holiday shopping, sewed on a button for Amster, gardened with Prince scholars, and drove home to find that 11:15 had come and gone and that the recording now projected a 5pm fix.

Were I conspiracy minded, I'd go down a rabbit hole of losing-the-internet-and-tv-on-election-day, but I'm already on the edge of complete freak out so I closed off that door.

5 o'clock came and went.  Our internet stayed where it was, blocked in the ether, stuck in the fiber optic cable, magically vanishing without saying goodbye.  The recorded voice now said it would be fixed as soon as possible.  It also reassured me that their technicians were working very hard to solve the problem.  

That may well have been true, but you couldn't prove it by the state of the electronics in our home.  As the minutes turned into hours, TBG's need for aural stimulation led him to the dusty DVDs on the high shelf in the hall closet and soon we were flopped on the bed, happily watching Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland eat up the scenery in Robin Hood.

Then he got hungry.  I took myself out to the kitchen, relishing the silence.  Alone, I took out my hearing aids and let the quiet consume me.  It took me a while to start cooking; it was the most peaceful I'd been in a long time.

Then It's Back!! rang out happily from the bedroom and there was noise and exultation and televisions on everywhere and I kept my hearing aids out for just a little bit longer.

I can't say that I am sorry to have missed the speculating on MSNBC and CNN or the sports trivia on all the ESPN's (yes, there are many, and we have them all).  All that noise that is balm to his soul and which mostly just irritates mine was back and he was so happy that I took a moment to be grateful that this was at the top of my Aggravating Factors List.  

But everything seemed very loud.  The tv's volume, set 5 steps lower than usual, felt like too much as he began flipping from college basketball to Dave (an inspired choice for Election Night) to the screaming heads and their garish graphics filled with no information at all.  

I was glad for Kevin Kline and for the internet and for the smile that everything-is-working-again put on TBG's face.  I was glad that my cell phone provider and my internet provider are distinct entities.  I'll be glad later on tonight when our local races are counted and I can access the results.  I'm glad that I can post this to you.

But it was kind of nice to be disconnected.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Prepping the Soil

After Guy, our Groundskeeping Guru, told me he'd salvaged bags of soil for the garden, it was simply a matter of toting them to the raised beds.  Between the two of us and a wheeled cart we brought enough soil and compost and mixtures of the two to refurbish our planting medium.  

It was a good thing that so many scholars were willing to get dirty.
First came removing the remaining plants, stunted vestiges of what they might once have been, had COVID not intervened.  

Not everyone was on board with killing what, to my eye, were weeds. Thankfully, the girl whose dad told her that what I thought was a small white carrot was, in fact, ginger, stepped right in to make it feel okay.   After collecting several small specimens and displaying them on the edge of the bed, she chose to pose like this:

The searching and the wondering - is this a gingerbread? - and the presentation of the treasure to our resident expert was a delightful distraction from thoughts of death and destruction.

Later in the day, a Gardener found this one, which was sending out many more roots than seemed appropriate to its discoverer.
After that, rocks, roots, twigs, bark, and feathers were excavated and transferred to the garbage bag. 
 Sometimes, a trowel worked well.

Sometimes you had to get in there with both hands.
And sometimes the temptation of two little boys, two plastic trowels, and a newly tilled and de-clodded pile of soil is just too much to resist.
The two fisted flinging only lasted a second or two, but the giggles went on for a while.  In general, it was a pretty wonderful day.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Rillito Farmers' Market

It was a sunny Fall Sunday in Tucson, where no one was confused about the time because we never change our clocks.  Not-Kathy and I walked on the multi-use path for 2 miles before we began to shop.  It might sound counter-intuitive to get hungry before looking at groceries, but these were such healthy groceries, and the walk was the second in my Early New Year's Revolution (sic FlapJilly) of walking at least a mile, outside, every single day, so the Market at the end of the road seemed like a lovely congratulations from the world.

Plus, there were lots of tables and chairs for resting and for eating, and the black clad young man on the left kept putting out more and more of them.
As at all Farmers' Markets, there were plants.
I won't dwell on the paucity of the vegetables available; this is the desert, after all.  But in addition to the few tables of onions and potatoes and squash, there was this display of mushrooms.
Not-Kathy couldn't believe her luck.  She and the vendors struck up a happy conversation about the Lion Mane mushroom
which apparently tastes like crab (or lobster).  I stood in awe, taking in nature's bounty, and wondering who was the first person brave enough to eat that tufted monster?

There was a lot of fish and beef and honey and eggs.  There were home made soaps and lotions, wooden salad bowls and leather jewelry. There were salsas and tamales and other delights.  Like the T-shirts said, this event is for locavores.
Even Jewish locovores.
shout out to the owner, a high school classmate who traded up from pizzas to bagels.

Friday, November 4, 2022

A Wicked Kind of Beauty

The cashier at lunch asked if we wanted to eat outside.
Inside!  Please!  We live here.  It's cccccold out there.  
She nodded in agreement : I need my winter coat.

But the cooler temperatures (low 60's with clouds and drizzle) perk up the greenery and release all kinds of enticing odors.  I'd been inside all morning; I took a stroll around my driveway when we got home.  

The concept of the nurse tree is nicely illustrated here.
Shielding the saguaro's new growth, it allows for lots and lots of new arms.  The arrows just point out one side of the connection.  New things pop up in the most unexpected places, too.  I went to get a closer look at something and almost stepped
 on these guys.
Someone pooped out something that found a happy space and is propagating like the begats.  I usually attribute these to birds, but I may have to rethink that.  My walk included this remarkable series of small, symmetrical tunnel entrances
and one really big hole nearby.
There's a footprint to the left (see the toes?) but the tailings from the digging go off to the right.

The clouds were getting darker and I was getting colder and I didn't stick around to see if anything was going in or out.  
I'm not sure I want to know what's condominium-izing the ground beneath our front yard.


Thursday, November 3, 2022

A Bonus Day

We returned before we were expected.  

A last minute hiccup in our plans combined with a no-change-fee-fare brought us to our own bed two days early.  I was looking forward to sleeping in and being quiet.  After all, it was a day without expectations or plans or friends waiting to have lunch.  It really was free, a bonus day.

I thought I'd be tired from traveling.  I thought I'd spend the day lounging on the couch or the patio, doing the Wordle and Spelling Bee and the Mini Crossword.  It sounded like heaven.

Apparently that lack of oomph only happens to my husband.  

After a restless night I was totally awake at 9am.... which should have felt like 6am because I should still be on Eastern Time.... but there I was, bright eyed and bushy tailed as G'ma would've said.  I wasn't tired or achy at all.  I was totally energized.

I cleaned the whole house, and I'm not just talking about dusting.  From the fronts of the stainless steel appliances (never again!) to the deepest recesses of the countertops, from the floors through the furniture, I touched and improved every surface.  

Does anyone else remember Mr. Clean?

I was a White Tornado.  

I pulled out the Fall Decor box and spent a lovely long time putting out old familiar pieces.  I changed the pillow covers from summer to autumn.  I watered the plants.  I did laundry.  I paid a few bills. I made banana bread muffins.  

And then I went out.

The library, the grocery store, the drug store, and the bagel store had everything I needed, including  smoked brisket with veggies and sauce and cheese on a bagel which TBG says is the best lunch he can remember eating.  

We had a companionable lunch over catch-up tv then read James Patterson novels outside until the sun went behind the clouds.  We have become weather wimps, and we don't care if you judge us.  Our bellies were still with Little Cuter in Indiana, so I made an early dinner and did the dishes while TBG dealt with the garbage and now I am typing to you.  

Soon it will be 7pm, and I can feel free to use electricity to run major appliances without disturbing the grid.  I have a dishwasher to turn on (soap's already in there, thank you very much for planning ahead) and another load of laundry to run.

Obviously, the next time things have to get done, I should go on vacation first.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

It's a travel day.  

Lyft to the train station.  Get off the train and take an excursion bus for 20 minutes to get back on the train.  Track repairs added that step. 

Up the steps to find a taxi, operated by possibly the slowest driver in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Spend several delightful hours with Dr. P, a playgroup mom,  reliving old times and trying not to despair over current events.  Add in a short walk for lunch (where she and TBG sat on wet cushions which led to wet tushes and a quick trip to the dryer for their pants and underwear) and then we were in her car on the way to the L.

Took an elevator down to the platform and the elevated train to the airport and the moving walkway through terminals until we collapsed at a restaurant. 

Now we wait for the plane to depart,  then Lyft home. 

Well,  the plan left on time and landed 30 minutes early.... but the Lyftc would take 35 minutes to arrive and there were no taxis at all.   We waited only 10 minutes for one to show up,  but it felt like a year.  By the time we got home it was 2am, Eastern Time.
As TBG pointed out,  9 segments is really too much for old bones. 

And yet,  we go on. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween Cookies

Decorating cookies is an integral part of Halloween. 
Little Cuter had every add on imaginable available for her independent cookie creators,  and they did a fine job. 
The sprinkles took a detour, to what may be my favorite Halloween picture of all time:
I hope you had a wonderful and spooky day!