Friday, December 29, 2023

Just Checking In

Little cousin love. 
Swimming in December. 

We've hiked and gone to the trampoline park and had Boba Tea.  The girls got pedicures while the boys watched football.  We've gone out for breakfast and eaten Big Cuter prepared dinners. 

Life is good.
I hope it is where you are, too. 

Monday, December 25, 2023

Thursday, December 21, 2023

I Seem to Be On Vacation

I didn't plan it that way.
I had high hopes of posting every day. The visitors in my house were not going to deter me from my responsibility to you,  my readers. 

Unfortunately, Honey Bunny is much more engaging and time consuming than I anticipated.  She's awake in the late afternoon.  That's when I usually type to you.  At night,  there are stimulating conversations with her parents,  sitting outside under the stars.  

My heart is full.  I can't kvetch about the Lying Liar or the United States' Supreme Court. I can't put together a coherent set of paragraphs about the Colorado Supreme Court.  I can't even formulate silly sentences about Supreme and what it means. 

Those thoughts are in my head.  They are banished as soon as I see this face. 

So,  I will apologize once again,  but this time without a promise to be as diligent as I have been since The Burrow began in 2009.

That's a long time without a vacation. Blame Honey Bunny, an attractive nuisance I wouldn't trade for anything.... even you. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

And Now, I'm Not In The Mood

I spent the day holding the most delightful bundle of energy.  Watching her wrestle with an empty 16.9 ounce plastic water bottle had both of us laughing.  She's no longer flinging it.  She's grasping it firmly around the middle and bashing it onto the bedspread.  Over and over and over again, switching hands and grips, sometimes using her newly acquired pincer motion to hold onto the (tightly secured) cap, she fascinated herself and her audience until she needed to stand up and use her legs.  

My son made a delicious dinner with minimal mess, and there's still some of Amster's rum cake on the counter for a lovely dessert.  I'm not thinking about loading up on sugar and alcohol the day before I have fasting labs because really, who schedules such a thing at this time of year?  

I'm not thinking about why the doctor wanted to redo the labs in three months.  I'm just not in the mood.

I'm having an exhaustingly wonderful time.  My family worries that I've taken on too much, but every moment with Honey Bunny feels like a gift from her parents.  Watching her change, day by day and week by week, while tiring and taking a toll on my body, reminds me to view the world with joy.  

She's thrilled with everything. I turn my head and then turn back - she giggles.  TBG's hair is a source of endless delight; she's gone from grabbing and pulling (Go ahead, baby, make me balder than I am) to gently placing her pointer finger underneath his soft locks. She laughs when he sits up and laughs when he brings his head down to her fingers again.

I'm finding it hard to muster much anger or angst about anything.  There is so much to worry and fret over.  Human rights are under attack here and abroad.  There's nothing I can do today or next week to fix any of it.  The fact that so many people seem to love a lying, indicted adulterer could send me into a tailspin, but two people in the last two days have complimented me on my Mark Kelly for Senate and I Will Vote 11/5/24 stickers on The UV's bumper and that's a new and exhilarating experience for me.  

With all this wonderfulness, I am just not in the mood to rant about the NYTimes' expose of the Supreme Court's process in the Dobbs decision.  I can't muster the snark to share my latest upset with the Lying Liar.  And the Gaza/Israel situation is beyond words for me.

So, you will have to excuse me for denying you the full effects of my rant.  I just don't have it in me right now.

Monday, December 18, 2023

And The Saga Continues

I had the rant all planned out.  It was pithy and thoughtful, if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, technology brought the whole process to a screaming halt.

Big Cuter found a machine for $199.  Apparently, without needing super powerful graphics (my Solitaire and Wordle games are fine with a plain processing chip.... or something like that) computers are stupid cheap.  I was surprised and delighted, gave him my credit card, and his magic fingers secured the device.  

After a lovely evening on the couch watching The Awful Truth,  he and Queen T made a shopping run to Wally World to pick it up.  They came back with baby bibs, an ugly Christmas sweater, a doll that crawls and spouts gibberish in a baby's voice (more on this in another post), and my beautiful, new computer.

I plugged it in the next morning, certain that I could set it up myself.  After the first deep inhale and the moan that followed the exhale, my son was at my shoulder.  I've got this, Mom - some of the nicest words to hear when machinery goes awry.

Spot Quiz - do you ever interact with a machine without groaning?

He set the settings to my preferences.  We registered the device with ASUS and Microsoft.  We moaned that Lenore the Lenovo died before I could back up all my data to the cloud (another saga soon to unfold).  I was all set to go.  

I spent the next day with Honey Bunny, coming to the computer when she napped.  I turned it on.... or, more precisely, I pushed the power button on the keyboard.  

I pushed it again, with more force.  I pushed it again, leaning my pointer finger a bit to one edge and then the other.  I called for help, which arrived once I brought the machine to my son's comfy spot in the comfy chair.  He probed and turned and pushed and got the same result as I did - nothing.

I've never seen a computer just die like this, Mom.  Did you do anything......

A brief moment passed as I remembered that he was helping and not deserving of a snarky response.  The truth was that, plugged in or not, the damn thing would not start.  

Sunday morning found me at the Customer Center in the Wally World around the corner from our house.  The young woman behind the counter had a hard time understanding the following:

  • the machine was dead, would not turn on, got no power when plugged in or on battery
  • I had no receipt because none was offered when it was picked up 
  • the email announcing that the purchase was ready for pick up did not have the bar code she was desperately seeking and I had no idea where that bar code might be.
  • I was certain that the box had been picked up at their store because my son's name was on the sticker affixed to the box, along with the address of the store.
  •  I didn't want a credit, I wanted a new machine at the same price.

Her supervisor and co-worker banded together across the counter, glaring at my inability to provide the damn bar code.  Discouraged but undeterred, I persisted until they found the item in their system.  This was not due to any malfeasance on my part, although you would not have reached that same conclusion by looking at their faces.  There was nary a smile among them.

Next thing I knew I was handed a receipt for the credit to my card.  They sent me back to Electronics to buy a new one.

I strolled and resisted all the cute baby things, arrived at the computer aisles, and found nothing resembling my inexpensive desire.  The sales clerk, her supervisor, and an interested Wally World worker were flummoxed, but I had a picture of exactly what I wanted.

 

After unlocking the shelves behind the register, after pulling boxes and looking at numbers, they found the machine I wanted.... although they weren't sure until I showed them the picture once again.  They ran my credit card, gave me a receipt, and wished me a Happy Day.

Big Cuter and I reprised our earlier scenario.  I took a long walk with Queen T and Honey Bunny.  The baby napped and I continued to set up the new computer, connecting and then disconnecting it from my phone, searching for a way to get Google instead of Microsoft Edge as my default browser (Settings are not easily available on this machine thanks to the Microsoft behemoth's presence).  

The girls and I hung giant ball ornaments from our spiky trees (Queen T took the baby out of the front carrier and put her into the stroller once she got an up close and personal look at the thorns) I made dinner and sat outside to calm my soul, went inside and fell asleep in the other comfy chair at 8:45.  By 9 I was under the covers and fast asleep.

Which brings me to this morning, at 6:34am, when I began typing this to you.  

My rant is still simmering.  

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Best Laid Plans

I did get to go to the last session of my Dr. Zhivago class.  All five of us did go out for dinner al fresco.  Big Cuter did some research and discovered an appropriate replacement for the dear,  departed Lenore.

What didn't happen was going to Walmart to buy the be computer.  What didn't happen was setting it up. 
And what obviously didn't happen was writing the blog I've been stewing over for the last two days. 

Rather than try to rant on my phone's little keyboard,  I'm going to bask in the glow of the Hanukkah lights and lean back on the Christmas pillows covering the couch while I do today's Wordle and Spelling Bee and digest my dinner. 

I'll try again tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

RIP Lenore the Lenovo

Because there is nothing else going on in a house with two working parents,  two grandparents, a baby, and a pig, my computer decided to die. 

I didn't drop her.  No on be else remembers her falling.  Yet she's separated from her base and cannot be charged. 
Big Cuter, my resident Guru for all things electronic, says replacing her will be less expensive than repairing her.  He will go with me later this afternoon to shop. 

So,  for now,  my thoughts about everything will have to wait until I can use a real keyboard and not my phone. 

Have a wonderful day,  full of joy and laughter.  Avoid kerfuffles if you can. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Yawn

There was a walk to Barnes and Noble on our schedule today.  Grandma had Pilates and an oil change for The UV and a quick stop for a dozen donuts
on the way home.

Grandma fell asleep instead of writing a blog post. 

Child care is exhausting.  Posting requires more brain power than I have right now.  Tomorrow there will be many pithy thoughts for you.  Right now,  though,  I'm going to finish my nap.

Monday, December 11, 2023

(Not) Watching Football

Ever since Scarlett died and I no longer spent Sunday afternoons playing mah jong at her house, football has been the backdrop to the day.  I pay attention to the Jets (homage to Daddooooo, who loved them, hapless though they were) and to the 49ers because Big Cuter is obsessed, but I find the whole thing quite easy to ignore.

Now that Queen T and Honey Bunny are here, my weekends are singing another tune.

There are long walks and gardening (the baby is a great companion, if not much actual help). There is brownie making with my assistant resting comfortably on a super soft blanket, mouthing measuring spoons and making noise with the baking trays.  There are lazy hours watching the wind play with the leaves on the trees, listening to the pool filter, watching the chlorine dispenser make its rounds.  It's quite exciting when it comes our way.

And today, we took a road trip.  

I forgot how much you need to pack when you travel with someone whose bodily functions are unregulated by convention or circumstance.  Bottles and wipes (of all kinds for every situation known to baby) and blankets and sweaters and hats (because the weather might change and we don't want her to be too hot or too cold) fit comfortably in the 3 part stroller (frame/car seat/stroller seat)'s hanging basket beneath the child who is strapped in six ways from Sunday, with cushioning around her chin and her skull.  There were diapers and bibs and white muslin cloths to wipe slobber from her chin.  There were teething toys (tethered to the stroller and secured in the diaper bag).  

It took a long time to gather it all together and stow it and the baby and Grandma in the car.  Queen T drove.  Our destination was 18 minutes away.

After a minor kerfuffle in our quest to secure a parking spot, we unloaded our precious cargo and her accoutrements before we wandered through the artisans hawking their wares, looking for my friend, Dee.  She's been bringing me the best tuna salad sandwich in Tucson for 15 years.  We've watched our families grow, sharing pictures and stories, making donations to Band Camp and GRIN.  It's my version of Cheers, and she's my Sam.  

Her mom brings crafts from Guatemala which Dee sells at the outdoor market in the upscale dining and shopping plaza.  FlapJilly will be the recipient of many small wonders this holiday season.  

Among the many dining options available around the plaza, Queen T chose an outdoor table at Reforma.  After gorging ourselves on guacamole and quesadillas and salmon on salad we drove home and napped.

I'm really enjoying having these girls around.  My Sundays have definitely taken a turn for the better.



Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Grandma was on the phone, the new fangled phone that no one else on the neighborhood owned.  She was adjusting her hat, getting ready to go out somewhere with someone, when she heard the news.

Her President declared WAR.  She wanted to serve but her parents begged her not to go; her brother had been conscripted and they were terrified of losing both their kids.  She caved, didn't become a WAC, and regretted it for the rest of her life.

I was walking across the hall between classes when the rumor mill reached me.  By the time I got to Mr. Quinlan's math class, the Principal was on the loudspeaker, announcing that our President had been shot and killed.   

School let out early.  Grandma was crying as she drove us home.  She told us that we would remember where we were when we heard the news.  She was right.

I was watching tv with TBG on October 7th, the day Hamas began to exterminate the Jews.  That's the organzation's stated purpose.  They paraglided and drove tanks and raped and murdered and beheaded and captured.  

I know where I was then, and I know where I am, now.

It's happening far away, yet it feels very close to hand.  As my neighbors decorate with a lighted creche and inflatable Santas and snowmen, I'm debating putting my electric menorah in the window.  It's something I do every year.  This time, though, I'm more than a little nervous about advertising that we're celebrating the holiday.

Days that will live in infamy.  We've had many too many of them.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ladies Lunching

Honey Bunny's presence in my house is prompting many changes in our lifestyle. She's neither an early riser nor a cranky sleeper.  Her father was both.  She takes scheduled naps (whatever happened to never wake a sleeping baby?) and wakes up smiling and happy to see whoever bends over the Pack 'N Play to extricate her.  

She's supposed to get a certain amount of calories from a certain amount of breast milk each and every day.  There is a vast supply - newly pumped and frozen.  The frozen is taking over our freezers.

Her father and their Audi transported a cooler full of already frozen milk; the colorful bags fill the garage fridge's freezer. The oldest bags are defrosted and used as new bags are pumped and added.  It's a system which includes a never ending cycle of reorganizing and redistributing the food which formerly lived in the cccccold.  

I don't have much to do with the process.  I watch in awe.  

My only resonsibility is to get the milk into her mouth. I feed her a bottle with powdered allergens after her first nap.  I always have a defrosted bottle close at hand once she's up and out and about.  She's very clear about wanting and not wanting the bottle; her snarfle face and the juicy raspberry which follows lets us know in no uncertain terms that, as her Daddy says, I have an itch on my foot and you are giving me a bottle?????

There are no jars of baby food.  There's a steamer to soften green beans, but no pureeing of anything.  Instead, she sits in her high chair at the table, gnawing on what the app (of course there's an app for that) judges to be appropriate for her age and toothlessness.  

What's approved?  The ribs not the leaves of lettuce, cut in long strips so she can hold and gum the piece without losing control. Last night, the red marks around her pretty mouth were not signs of allergy.  She bruised her tender skin with a chicken drumstick, beating herself in the face while trying to insert the thick end into her maw.  

It's fun to watch.  It also makes going out for a ladies' lunch very easy.
We took a nice long walk to Pappoule's, navigating the user-unfriendly lack of walking paths down from the street to the mall with aplomb if not dignity.  We spent a few minutes being admired by the owner, a woman we've known since we moved to town.  We spent a lot more time being admired by the other patrons, all but one table of whom were grandparent-eligible nd eager to know her details.

Taking an outdoor table so Honey Bunny could enjoy the trees, we continued to be a source of amusement to passersby.... one of whom, an old friend of Grandma's, took that picture (if I ever take a great picture I'll be sure to include my face).  The ladies at the next table engaged us in a spirited conversation about our daughters-in-law and their new fangled ideas - all of which were fine and wonderful if totally different from how we raised and fed our own kids.  

We couldn't just walk out when we finished our meal (I had salad, she had lettuce ribs and a hunk of chicken to suck on).  All the patrons on the patio requested a drive by.  We were happy to oblige.

It was such a success that we're going out to breakfast this morning, leaving as soon as Queen T creates strips of egg to bring along.  Apparently, scrambled eggs are a disastrophe in the making when you're nearly eight months old.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Eating - A Snippet

Toward the end of her life, G'ma's appetite waned.  One small chicken cutlet was enough for both lunch and dinner.  How can four bites be enough for you? became a commonplace comment.  Her response never varied; Where will I put the rest of it?

Now, as TBG and I explore the changes our eighth decade of life is bringing, we're finding ourselves following the same path.  A mini sandwich from Jersey Mikes is more than enough for lunch.  We share one steak for dinner, accompanied by eight green beans each. 

What has my life become when I'm counting the beans in the grocery store so we don't waste them at home?

Monday, December 4, 2023

Random Thoughts

The 49'ers defeated the Eagles this afternoon.  For most humans, this is of passing interest, if any at all.  In my house, though, it's a different story.  The television and the living room have been reserved for the game and nothing else.  As the 9'ers scored and scored and scored, the noise level rose and rose and rose.  

Honey Bunny and I spent the afternoon outside and on the floor in the kitchen, considering the possibilities inherent in measuring cups and spoons.

Everyone was happy.

*****

Queen T spent the day dealing with a Verizon-Store-From-Hell and its equally inhospitable sales people. 

After 4 hours over 2 sessions she still doesn't have her new phone.  She's uncertain if her order has actually been cancelled or if her upgrade is still valid.  She's been home for 90 minutes; she's still vibrating.

*****

We tried to order dinner, once the baby's sleep schedule precluded going out.  Our first choice is closed on Sundays, which we remembered only afer organizing our order.  Our second choice was unaceptable to one of us, our third choice was unacceptable to another.  

No one wanted me to make grilled cheese or omelets.  We balked at paying an exorbitant price for delivery.  We settled on Italian that we'll pick up in half an hour.  

It only took us 45 minutes from What should we have to dinner to placing the order.  I'm very hungry right now.

*****

The Cornell Club held our annual holiday luncheon today.  The Arizona Women's Chorus entertained us.  We've never had a performance before.  

It was the same people in the same setting, all of us dressed to the nines.  It's always a lovely event.  This year, listening to beautiful music and participating in an Arizona themed sing along of The 12 Days of Christmas before singing the Alma Mater with professionals joining in - this year was very special.

*****

Friends have been checking in as the brownies are received.  My favorite story so far :

A group of men have been having lunch together for many years.  The conversation over those years has concentrated on politics, travel, family, books, and sports.  As they've aged, they've instituted a new rule - the first 10 minutes are devoted to body parts.  Once those minutes have passed, there's no complaining about doctors or aches or pains.

I can think of a number of spaces in my life where that rule might also make sense. 


Friday, December 1, 2023

Admirable Women

 Linda's comment on yesterday's post got me thinking.  As I replied to her, I often think about the grown ups I admired as a kid.

Mrs. Kleiner, my 4th grade teacher, who was on her fourth career when we met.  She was a scientist.  She was engaging and funny and thoughtful and kind.  Mostly, I remember that I wanted to be her when I grew up.  

I wanted to be a person who did many things and who loved them all.  I wanted to learn something new every day.  I wanted to be happy in my work.  She was all of those things.  They felt right to me then and still do, today.  

There was Patty's mom, the Playground Lady.  That was her title.  For me, she was a sanctuary.  Kids were not nice to me sometimes.  There was no place to hide.  I'd have been happy in a corner with a book, but that wasn't an option.  A big piece of Grandma's Garden springs from that feeling.  No one will bother you if you want to sit and think, or draw, or read.  

And, like the Playground Lady, I'm always glad to see you, and I'm happy to have you talk to me as she made sure the girls stayed on the girls' side and the boys stayed on the boys' side (it was the 1950's) or now, as I keep the gardening tools from causing havoc.  

I wish I had told them all of that.  Linda's lucky that her Campfire Girl did.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Santos, The Lying Liar, and A Baby

The House is debating the expulsion of one of its members.  His name might be George Santos. It might be something else. 

The Federal Government has just issued 10 more charges against him.  All the lies,  dissembling, and trash talk seem to have finally caught up with him. 

It's taken a long time. 

The Lying Liar wants that same Federal Government to sue MSNBC for lying about him.  He wants their license to be revoked.  He thinks that trashing a law clerk, on the other hand, is protected speech.

Confusing? You are not alone.  I'm spending less time watching the news since the baby came to visit,  so the focal points shine a little more brightly.  The glare is burning my brain.

There's angst in the air, as a Government shut down looms large on the horizon.   

I'm lucky to have a wonderful distraction. 
How much of your lunch ended up on your cheeks?

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Girls!

There are lots of wonderful girls in my life these days.

One of them is living in my house.  
Notice the very intelligent piggy skulking beneath the high chair.  She knows that Honey Bunny takes great delight in flinging her food after she's had a suck or two on whatever Mommy decided was kid-friendly enough to try.  Lettuce (the rib not the leaves) was a big hit for both of them last night.

But there are bigger girls who bring me joy, too.  

I snuck away for a couple of hours yesterday to visit Grandma's Garden.  The green buckets in our hanging garden are starting to sprout seedlings.  From the delighted cries of Grandma LOOK!  It's growing!!! to our shared wonder at the magic contained in a tiny seed, it was a pretty wonderful morning.

Not everyone was content to admire the seedlings, though.  There was a major redecorating project taking place, centered on the painted stones made by the 4th grade earlier this year.  The stones move around from raised beds to the mandarin orange tree to the buckets on the fence, depending on the whims of the scholars that day.  

The tree stump sits there, haplessly allowing itself to be chalked and water painted and climbed upon.  (I hate Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree; I see no resemblance here at all.)  Yesterday, it was the site of the creation of a Rock Garden (capital letters, please).
There were others involved in its design.  They were too engrossed in shifting the tiny scarecrows and pumpkins from one bucket to another to pose for a picture.  I moved myself to the left and had four scholars who were happy to share themselves and their creation with you.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  it is impossible to be sad when kids are smiling at you.  I highly recommend it as an inexpensive form of therapy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

I Was Distracted

There's a lot going on around here. 
65 degrees is chilly for our baby, who had fun watching Grandma gardening.... instead of blogging.
A real piggy back ride was amusing for all of us, even for Grandma, who should have been blogging. 

I'll figure it out.  For now,  though,  I'll have to beg your indulgence for posts that are delayed. I'll be here everyday. I promise.  I just don't know when. 






Monday, November 27, 2023

And So It Begins

Hanukkah begins early this year.  Thanksgiving was early this year, too.  By a fortuitous set of calendar connected circumstances there's a week between turkey and December, and another week before the celebration of the Maccabee's victory over the desecrators of the Temple.  There's a whole month of weeks before we celebrate a baby's birth.

There will be more written about the Hanukkah.  The history resonates.  But, for now, I'm concentrating on my own annual commemoration - not of partisans over occupiers and the oily miracle that happened there, not of a woman laboring in a manger, but of the people I've connected to over the years.

The Brownie List started when I left Chicago and the women with whom I raised my children.  Those were connections I couldn't sever.  I gifted them all stationary (there wasn't email in 1992) which none of them ever used to communicate with me.  I did the same thing when I left Marin in 2006, with the same result.  

I refused to lose contact with those who had filled my life with joy and adventures and advice and love.  A simple Happy Holidays card would not be enough to maintain those connections; a card with a short note can easily be smiled at and forgotten.  But if I bake and package and ship you brownies, a more serious response is called for.  

And so, The Brownie List was created.  Not-Kathy says the holidays don't start until my brownies arrive; she and Dr K have been on the list since its inception.  She understands the rules - if you don't connect with me after the contents have been consumed (or frozen for future delectability) you're off the list.  There's a one year grace period before your name is stricken, but that's it.

It works.

The list is now four pages long.  People understand the procedures.  Every year I am the recipient of heartfelt thank you's and details that aren't included in a pre-printed Happy Holidays photograph adorned card. It's my way of maintaining long distance relationships, and it works.

Sunday was a day for baking and wrapping and printing out 17 USPS labels .
Monday is a day for packing and shipping the first installment of Hanukkah goodies (once I pick up bubble wrap).  
my shadow and supplies

Using a medium size priority mail box adds many extra dollars (thank you,Mr. DeJoy, for not adding a holiday surcharge this year) to an already pricey endeavor. Hence, the bubble wrap.  Layer upon layer protects the treats, and my friends receive a bulgy envelope, a package which brngs laughter all on its own.

There will be pans of brownies in the kitchen from now until the first of the year.  Those are free game to anyone passing through, unless they are already in their pretty packaging.  Touching those brings the wrath of the Brownie Fairy down upon the miscreant's head.  

It's all consuming.  It's my favorite time of the year.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Afterwards

The dishes are washed and I didn't do them. 

Costco made the pie.

Big Cuter opened and poured the prosecco. 

It's 5pm and life is good.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

2006
With Seret and Mr. DreamyCakes, their family and ours.
A mini-reunion for our kids.
A hug fest for the grown-ups.

Sending all the love and all the happiness your way, today and always.
I am infinitely grateful and thankful for your presence in my life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A Surprise in Grandma's Garden

Can you find it? 

Our Super Sweet 100s have taken over the raised bed.  There are lots of green tomatoes.  There are lots of flowers which will turn into tomatoes.  We've been waiting and waiting for them to ripen.
Here's a hint. 
Were your eyes sharp enough? Theirs were. 
I took the sharp secateur and cut our first harvested tomato into 6 pieces.  They weren't very big pieces,  but they were big enough to taste sweet and juicy and thumbs-up good.

We have high hopes for a huge harvest after the holiday break.  

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Porcine Pecadillo

The death of the irrigation system in the heat of the summer was the end of the roses I've tended through the years.  There are stalky remnants of the beautiful bushes, but cutting them back reveals nothing that looks healthy.  I'll wait until January to cut them back further, and hope that there is some hope, but I'm not hopeful.

Rillito Nursery's annual rose sale tempted me with this lovely specimen.  It has big white blossoms and a luscious scent.  I potted it outside our bedroom window for maximum viewing potential. 
Apparently, it was also in maximum dining potential for LiLou.  She munched on the leaves.  I was surprised but not upset.  But then she took more drastic steps.
She bit off off a burgeoning blossom,
Something had to be done.  After an hour or so of wrestling with a variety of supplies from my potting shed,
Queen T and I managed to construct a protective barrier.
We are waiting for the porcine predator to venture outside to see if our efforts have been successful.  
I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 20, 2023

A Want Ad

As winter break approaches, college students begin to make plans for the summer.  

Mr. 20, now a junior at the University of Arizona, is one of them.  He's majoring in something related to health sciences and nutrition, the exact title of which escapes me.  It's the perfect area of study for a young man who has always treated his body as a temple.  He doesn't drink or do drugs or party; last Saturday night he sat in the sauna and then the cold plunge pool with Amster before going to the UofA basketball game.  There was no carousing on either end.

He traveled to Italy this summer with family and friends.  While others ate leisurely breakfasts, he was working out in the local gym.  

He's looking for an internship in the supplements, wellness, or exercise related fields.  He's been wise with his investments and his earnings; he could work for free (although I am not advocating that in the least).

We've exhausted our contacts.  I offered to reach out this way.

If you have any suggestions, an email to ashleighattheburrow@gmail.com will be greeted with gratitude.

It takes a village.....

And because you were kind enough to read Mr. 20's request, I'm sharing a little bit of the intergenerational joy that's going on around here.

Life is good.  I'm so glad you are sharing it with me.



Friday, November 17, 2023

Yawn

We've been hosting the girls for 36 hours.

We're exhausted.

There is a reason women age out of childbearing.  

I have always respected those older relatives who take in needy grandkids.  Right now, respect has blossomed into awe.

I'm going to sleep now.  My fingers are barely moving across the keyboard.  My brain has only feeding schedules and nap schedules and bottle warming instructions and stroller security and.........

Good night.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Let The Babysitting Begin!

She was a trouper on the plane.  The roomier seat in business class made a big difference.  The cost to check two suitcases was just a little bit less than a seat in Business Class; she spent the extra $30 and didn't think twice.

Take-off and landing were bumpier than the little one expected, but her mommy giggled and set everything right in the world again.  They both napped a little.  They were both very glad to see Grandma at the airport.  

We spend most of our time interacting via video calls.  I wonder what her brain made of the fact that my face was actually right there, breathing the same air, touch-able and smell-able and ready for hugs (as soon as I sanitized my hands, of course).

We wrangled the stroller-cum-carseat, three loose bags, 2 giant wheeled suitcases, a blanket and a sweater and who knows what else to The UV, parked in the very first row but a loooong way down.  It was next to the sidewalk, so we weren't worried about being run down by one of Tucson's elderly errant drivers, most of whom decided to pick this afternoon to visit the hourly parking at the airport.

No, don't wait for this spot.  We're changing the baby and arguing with the carseat installation and then we have to load up all the gear.  It's going to take a while.

By the time we joined one another in the front seats, Queen T and I were beat.  And we were hungry.  Recognizing this as verging on the Danger, Will Robinson zone, we drove through In-and-Out before we hit the highway towards home.  

TBG was waiting in the garage as the door went up.  Yes, he was glad to see us.  He took Honey Bunny for a snuggle on the couch.  The car was unloaded, the pak-n-play moved to the windowless closet (rather than setting up the blackout curtains in what will be her room), and with not too much fuss and bother the youngest and the oldest took naps.

It's going to a wonderful visit.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

She's Coming

The high chair and full coverage bib are cleansed and ready to go.
Today, the rest of the supplies arrived.  
I turned into an early elf, sorting it all out.   There's so much more - diapers and a mattress pad for the Pak-N-Play my friend's teenage daughter slept in as a baby, sheets for that mattress and a dozen white muslin cloths because this kid slobbers.
There was an arts and crafts project, with directions only a dedicated grandmother would take the time to decode.  By some miracle, my non-geometrical mind figured out that there were tops and bottoms and rights and lefts.  The instructions were of minimal help.  
It may seem like a lot.  But they are going to be here for two months.  That's a lot more time than the vacation I referenced when a friend asked me, 30 plus years ago, if I had a good time:

It was all the work, without my changing table.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Excused

I arrived at the courthouse early, of course.  I walked through the courtyard which a tv reporter asked me questions.  I walked up the steps TBG helped me up when we went for the sentencing hearing.  I went through the security checkpoint I'd wheeled through over a decade ago.

Over a decade ago.  I thought the panic would have eased up by now.  Apparently not.  By the time I got to the elevator, I was back in my own personal space, remembering what happened and how it felt and what it looked like when the corridor was filled with reporters and various hangers-on.

It didn't help that the Jury Assembly Room was named after Judge John Roll, whose death led to one of the 7 life sentences our shooter received. 

Walking (not limping) into the same courtroom I'd entered eleven years and five days ago, I was impressed by the fact that the lawyers and the defendant and the judge's staff all stood as we entered.  It was a show of respect.  It impressed upon me the seriousness of the whole affair, and the value the participants placed on those of us joining them in the judging.  

It was humbling.  

The judge introduced himself and his staff, including the US Attorneys who would be trying the case.  He explained the process, including the why's and when's so that there would be no confusion.  He asked if anyone was feeling ill, and the man wearing the face mask raised his hand.  After describing his symptoms (coughing, sneezing, negative COVID test) the judge thanked him for wearing a mask and excused him from service.

Then he asked if anyone knew someone in the US Attorney's office.  Up went my hand.  

Who did I know?  The lead prosecutors on my case.

Did I recognize that they were not involved in this case?  Sure did, but I had to acknowledge the very fine job they did in convicting the person who shot Judge Roll and Gabby and me.

Did I think I could render a fair verdict after hearing the evidence?  My voice was shaking as I admitted that, in spite of guilt or innocence, I feared that I would be unable to decide that another young man would spend the rest of his life in a cell.  I told him that I am haunted by the fact of the shooter in a box.  I just didn't know if I could do it again.

He listened impassively, even as deep breaths were drawn by those around me.  

"Given that you feel you will be unable to judge this case without bias, I will excuse you from service at this time."

I walked out, down the hallway where I met Brenda Starr for the first time, and I smiled. There were some very wonderful moments that happened when our trial was going on, and collecting a new friend is certainly one of them.  

But, I'm not unhappy to be removed from that space.  I've spent much too much time going over it in my head.  I don't need a daily reminder.  I'm glad I escaped.

I don't think I shirked my civic duty.  I think I did what was best for me and for the system. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Jury Duty

I was excited to be called.  I was interested in the case as it was explained in one of the numberous emails I received over the course of the last month or two.  I thought I could be a fair judge.

All that changed when I received the juror packet.  Along with my bacge and lots of instructions, there was parking information.  

Parking in the same garage we used when the shooter was on trial.  Going through the same security screening that left me shaking in my wheelchair, for no reason at all except the whole place felt awful.  Sitting in a courtroom where another man may end up in a little box for the rest of his life, tied to me forever.

I just don't know if I can do it.  

I thought I could.  I was prepared for the reaction I might have.  I've been talking to myself about it for the last week.  But as the emails and phone calls kept coming in, advising me that the judge expected to see me at 8:15 on Monday, my anxiety moved from the back burner to my entire being.

I'm not sleeping well.  My heart is in my throat most of my waking hours.  I'm afraid of repercussions from the accused's cohorts.  I don't want to look him in the eye.  I don't want that connection.  

How can I possibly be unbiased?  How can I possibly pay attention when my brain is in full on panic mode?

I really thought I could do this.  I've changed my mind as reality sets in.  I hope the judge understands.  

Friday, November 10, 2023

Veterans Day

Today's a day to say THANK YOU to someone who served, or to someone who is wearing the uniform right now.  

It's the least we can do.

And, perhaps, observe a moment of silence at 11am, when the shooting stopped forever.........  the first time.

*****

That's the post I  usually publish on November 11th.  If you're interested, this is what I wrote for 2011 and what I wrote in 2018.


Thursday, November 9, 2023

They Are Asking An Unanswerable Question

The polls were wrong.  Americans do like their freedoms.  We like to choose our own medical care options.  We like to choose our own vices.  We don't like having to ask the government's permission to enjoy those freedoms.  

The Republican Party, dominated as it is by the Lying Liar and his minions, is making a lot of noise on the other side of that argument.  The mainstream media presents their rantings and ravings as if the blather were worth hearing.  

The rock hiding all that hate and distrust and anti-democratic christo-fascist rhetoric was overturned when the Lying Liar announced his candidacy for President.  After that, the answer to the pollster's question - Is America headed in the right direction? - was decidedly no.

It stayed that way all through his Presidency.  I was despondent. When YouGov asked me that question it was easy to answer.  We were racing away from what I thought of as America.  

When they asked again as the MAGA rhetoric rose ascendent early in President Biden's term, I answered yes as a show of support for him.  I thought American was on a terrible path, but Joe Biden was doing what he could to turn the tide.  

I meant it to be spun as pro-Biden.  But someone who was certain that the MAGA agenda was finally triumphant might also have said yes. 

It's essentially a very bad question.  Yet I couldn't stop considering it.  How would I answer?  What did I really feel?  How bad is it?  Am I under- or over- estimating Americans' desire to keep our republic? 

But then Americans started voting.  Kansas and Ohio and Virginia and Kentucky championed reproductive freedom and access to marijuana.  Book banning Moms 4 Liberty school board candidates, including Justice Scalia's daughter, lost in overwhelming numbers.

Do I think America is going in the right direction, now?  

I could answer yes, with a clear conscience. 

But our ability to have rational conversations across the political divide is on the verge of extinction.  The new Speaker of the House holds some fairly frightening beliefs.  The Lying Liar is ahead in the Republican race to the White House, despite 91 indictments.  

We are as fractured as we were from Civil Rights to Viet Nam.  But George Wallace was never elected President and LBJ didn't run for re-election.  No one was contending that there were alternative facts.  Republican leadership showed Nixon the door, not the nomination.

So the question is really more about feelings than reality.  Before Tuesday's election results, I was leaning toward no.  I was losing faith in Americans

According to Jerome Powell, the United States economy has recorded the highest growth rates of all major economies, yet according to those polls most Americans think the economy is in terrible shape.  That makes me wonder about the intellectual capabilities of the voting public. Here in Arizona, the Superintendent of Education is running ads touting his voucher program, diverting funds from the public schools .... funds which the voters authorized .... and I seem to be the only one who's noticed or is upset about this blatant attempt to undermine public education because an educated public is a fascist's worst nightmare.

But then Tuesday happened.  I feel pretty good about America right now, if anybody's wondering.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Mind of a Five Year Old

Little Cuter sent me some recent photos of Giblet.  This is the transcript of the accompanying text thread 

GRANDMA : That face.  Those cheeks. And a non-cheesy smile!! So handsome.  (not cute, he told me emphatically)

Little Cuter: 💗  NOT CUTE OR BEAUTIFUL

GRANDMA: Yes, I was told.  But the gel in his hair....

Little Cuter: 💗

GRANDMA ; What about gorgeous?

Little Cuter:  I'll try it.  

        a minute or so passed

Little Cuter: Handsome ONLY

GRANDMA:  🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣   I can't stop laughing.

Little Cuter:  Apparently GORGEOUS is for girls..... we'll tackle that issue at a later date....  







Tuesday, November 7, 2023

A Hanging Garden

Students from the UofA's School Garden Workshop, led by My Garden Guru, Moses Thompson,  descended from the heavens last Friday.  Like  angels, they solved a problem and left the world a better place. 
I received the grant from the USDA and found malfunction in possession of an irrigation system and 50 buckets.  The instructions were a mystery to me.  Worse still,  they were a mystery to Not-Kathy,  my go to fix- it person.  A pitiful email or two brought a team of students and mentors to Grandma's Garden. They did the thinking and the planning and the pushing of tiny prongs into equally fine holes
There was measuring and checking and double checking. 
They installed a two tiered drop irrigation system. It took them two hours.  I spent zero hours agonizing over it.  

That afternoon,  the scholars got to work. Fill a watering can with soil. 
Choose a bucket and fill it. 
Plant 2 kinds of seeds: carrots, nasturtiums, beets, lettuce, or quinoa. Everything is edible; it's a requirement of the grant. 
 
Much to the scholars' dismay,  nothing grew overnight.  Their disappointment was palpable.  They didn't help the situation by drowning their buckets in water, despite my reminders that Plants are not fish.  Seeds do not swim. 

We are works in progress.  




Monday, November 6, 2023

A Truism

There are a few truths which have never failed me.  Halloween costumes must meet three requirements: the wearer must be able to run, sit, and eat.  Clearly, the cardboard and duct tape and bungee cord robot Daddooooo and Big Cuter concocted one year failed on all counts, even with the bendable arms and knees.  

After that disastrophe, my family began to accept them and act accordingly.  At tree trimming time there are two options, and only two options.  You can help.  You can compliment.  There is no in between.  Many a holiday has been saved by the loving repetition of that mantra.

And then there's this one, which I demonstrated in real time to Queen T last January:  Always wait one more day before you pack the boxes.  There is always something you missed.  Always.  

This is what our glass table looked like today.
It's a lot fuller than when I started.  Following my truth,  I didn't pack it up right away. 

The second morning, I found these in the kitchen drawer.
The next day I noticed this sweatshirt folded neatly in a cubby inmy closet.
The powder room floral arrangement caught my eye the next evening, right after I assured TBG that I was sure I had everything.
I waited another day, and found this in the laundry.
I really and truly think I'm done this time.  Tomorrow morning I'll bring the storage box into the house.  I won't put anything into it until the next day.

There are some things in life which have proven themselves to be true.  Life is much simpler if you just go with the flow.

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Last Strawberries of the Season

They were 2 for $7 in the closeout area of the fruit department this afternoon.  

There were many bruised berries in many plastic containers, but I managed to secure a container that was filled with rosy red specimens and no mold.  I washed them and started taking off the tops when I realized just how large the leaves are.

I had to stop and take a picture to share with you.  

Seriously, have you ever seen them this full of vigor?  The leaves are the engines of the plant, and these big boys are doing their job. I've gone through most of the rest of the container since I took this photo.  

I'm off to finish the rest.  Have a wonderful weekend, denizens.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Reading the Book/Watching the Movie

At first glance, I was pleasantly surprised.  Omar Sharif is listed in the middle of the second page of the opening credits.  Eponymous, yes., but I'm not sure that Zhivago is the most interesting character in the novel.  I'm not even sure that it's a book about him at all.

Then, again, I had so much trouble figuring out who was who (more often than I was willing to admit until the professor told us that this novel has more characters than War and Peace) that I may be entirely wrong.

The book comes together in the end.  All loose ends are tied up.  The surprise near the end is really not a surprise if you've been following who was where when and how they got there.  Unfortunately, my detecting skills were not up to the task, except in hindsight. I didn't mind; it made the reveal all the sweeter. 

You can imagine how I felt when the movie opened with the secret.  

It got worse from there.  Individually the actors were wonderful, but they never seemed to connect with one another.  That may be a result of the script, which left out any of the novel's connective tissue.  Without the why, the what became a mystery.  What in the novel is poignant, in the film is banal (when it's not incomprehensible).

On the other hand, I noticed in the final credits that Omar Sharif's son, Tarek, played the young Zhivago.  That made me smile.

When it comes down to it, the movie does Boris Pasternak's only novel a tremendous disservice.  According to the ereader, the novel took me 14 hours to read.  IMDB lists Dr. Zhivago at 3 hours and 19 minutes.  

The movie felt longer.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Halloween 2023

As I have for the last 41 years, I'll be wearing my green hair.
In one picture, Honey Bunny looked like this
and then, she looked like this
and then there are some in the pumpkin which we are keeping within the family for the sake of modesty.  You'll have to trust me on this, but she's an adorably chunky pumpkin.

There's a Taylor Swift and a Mandalorian in Indiana.  Today at Prince there were kitty ear headbands and several sports stars and lots of orange t-shirts with various Halloween iconography in black or sparkles and sometimes both.

The real event happens tomorrow.  There are announcements taped up all over campus.
Welcome to Halloween 2023.  

No weapons allowed.

The Afghan twins don't need to be retraumatized by their classmates' accesssories.  

And apparently the grown ups need to be reminded to leave their weaponry at home, too.  Even at 8 in the morning.