Friday, April 28, 2023

The Bank Called - A Snippet

Caller ID said PNC Branch Bank.

My blood pressure spiked.  My hands shook, flop sweat took hold of my armpits, and my voice was tiny as I said Hello?

A nice voice identified itself as the branch manager and asked how I was doing. 

How was I doing?  I was shaking.  Bank errors are never in my favor.  I've been out of town and uninvested in my real life for two weeks. All sorts of mayhem might have ensued while I was blissfully baby watching.

I'm a little anxious.  Is something wrong?

I'm sure the pause felt longer to me than it did to my interlocutor.  

Then he laughed, said No, no, not at all and proceeded to thank me for the nice e-review I left n their app after TBG deposited a check for me while I was gone.  He was glad to help me with any future banking needs I might have.  He thanked me for my time and wondered if there were anything else he could do for me..... and I spoke before thinking:

Sure.  Don't ever call me again.  You scared the shit out of me.

We were both laughing as we ended the call.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

It's Also The Orange Season

The yellows seem to contain more allergens than the reds, although that might be because there are so many more of them.  But the reds and oranges certainly hold their own.  Take a look.  

These aloe have been sending out new shoots for 15 years.  They exist on no supplemental irrigation.  And my new next door neighbor was thrilled beyond thrilled when I introduced her to the healing properties of applying the fleshy leaves' inner goo to a fresh burn.  Blooming doesn't seem to affect their medicinal value, and the hummingbirds consider it their own personal juice bar.

The red yucca are rescues from Amphi Middle School's front yard renovation.  The animals feed on the spiky leaves, but this year one brave stem arose from the devasation.
The ocotillo are the showiest of the oranges.  I've circled the flowers which appear, along with the green leaves, when there's enough moisture in the ground and the air.  Otherwise, they look like dead twigs.
Those are the desert plants, those which need no supplemental irrigation now that they are established.  Inside the courtyard, there's a rose bush in need of more water than he's getting.
Around back, it's another story entirely.  With a now/finally/with the grandkids' help/carefully curated irrigation schedule in place.  the containers and the roses in the ground are thriving.

This is the end of the bearded iris bulbs.  There are more ready to sprout.
It's fun to have a place for annuals.  The two bottom pots were a new addition last winter, when I must have planted a sunflower seed because that's what's popping up out of the purple and white verbena..
Snapdragon seeds apparently do very well in the desert.  Their flowers are obscuring the rescue plants which share The Container Where Failures Go For One Last Chance.
I see this rose every time I step out of my shower, or grab a towel or a bandaid or a bottle of shampoo from the cabinet in that same nook.
This year, I noticed an interloper.
Yes, that red rose is growing out of the root stock, below the graft but not giving in to its fate.
I think there's a lesson there, but I'm not that interested in figuring it out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Yellow Season

It starts out slowly.
The Mexican Bird of Paradis decided to join the party for the first time (in 15 years).
She's still a little shy, taking it slowly, too.
The yucca have no problem announcing their presence,
nor do the mature agave.
This was the most mature pup I transplanted during last winter's rains.
The smaller ones have yet to settle in enough to bloom.
I've highlighted them for your ease of viewing.

Even the transplant is sending off pups (the arrow at the bottom of the plant).  I will have plenty to share; all you have to do is ask.
This is the original mama plant.
She's showing off with two flowering stems.  

Then there are the Engleman's prickly pear paddle cacti,
whose flowers start out like this
and end up like this.
That's a golden barrel cactus on the left.

When it all comes together, it's really quite marvelous.

I admit that I'm hiding from current events. I'm much happier thinking about the flora than about the Supreme Court. I'm trying to ignore the fact that a former President of the United States is on trial for rape, nor am I allowing my brain to wonder whether Trump or Bill Clinton or John Kennedy was the worst sexual predator to occupy the Oval Office.... and then there's the whole Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson situation.
That's a rabbit hole with no obvious exit.

There will be more pictures of flowers tomorrow.  It's that or ponder the fact that Joe Biden is old.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A Consumer Product Warning

I saw a commercial last night..... at least, I think it was last night.... I'm so tired from my "vacation" that the clock has lost all meaning.  

I do remember the commercial.  It's rare that an ad for a sweet treat attracts my attention, but this purported to have three of my favorite ingredients - a cone, vanilla ice cream, and a butter cookie.  If only that it had been true.

On tv, the cookie looked like it was wrapped around the ice cream atop a cone.  In reality, the ice cream was topped with miniscule brown chocolate swirls pretending to be sprinkles; butter cookie colored crumbs; and some kind of goo.  

That goo went all the way down through the middle of the vanilla ice cream filling, what little of that ice cream there was.  Instead, there was the cone.  The cone which was the butter cookie, conically configured to confound my taste buds.

I wanted crunch.  I got mush.  I was holding butter cookie a la mode in my hand. 

And, from my perspective, it was even worse than that.  Not only was the bottom half of the above-the-cone ice cream coated in chocolate, but the entire inner surface of the cookie-cone was covered in it as well.  

I don't like chocolate. (Feel free to judge me.)  Chocolate was not advertised as part of the deal. 

And chocolate has no business being anywhere near something that calls itself a butter cookie.  

Butter cookies are safe. You don't have to eat around any part of a butter cookie.  Every bite is just as good as the last. They come in comforting containers that your grandfather would open with his strong and gnarly fingers before gently proffering one from his big, soft hand.  They were my father's favorite snack.

The butter cookie cone is a bad idea.  Would you choose a frozen butter cookie over one stored at room temperature?  There's a sogginess factor involved in a defrosted cookie which does not translate well to the expectations one has for an ice cream cone. (cf paragraph 5 above) 

There's not one part of this that I can recommend.  Don't waste the treat space in your tummy on it.

In fairness to the product, though, I probably should have looked at the picture on the box before relying an a sleepy memory.

Monday, April 24, 2023


My plane was at 5:45pm until it wasn't. Delayed due to airport runway construction at my change- planes-in-Las Vegas, it would arrive after my also delayed connection.  This was not good. 

I called Southwest and Carolynn changed my flights (without charge, with a helpful and lovely attitude) to the next 5am until she realized that one was going through LAS also, then at 5:40am through LAX.

Big Cuter motioned to the baby and shrugged, his body language reminding me that we were always awake between 3ish and 5ish anyway so that flight wasn't really as early as it sounded.

We drove on empty roads over the stunningly illuminated Bay Bridge,  past the soon to be defunct stadium of the Oakland A's, who will be the Las Vegas A's now, and took the second exit off the empty highway to the airport.  It was less than an hour from awakening to the gate .... including gate checking my overhead bag because it was a full flight and my new boarding number was in the late B's.

The flights were easy, if packed full.  The gates were close to one another.  There was no turbulence.  I couldn't fall asleep... neither on the plane nor on the couch once I landed and TBG drove us home.  

I deadheaded my container plants.  I swam some easy laps.  I showered and made a simple dinner and watched TV.  

Napping did not happen.

Sleep was instantaneous once my head hit the pillow. My eyes flew open at 6 something,  panicked that the baby and her parents needed me and that I was late to the party. 

It was not the most restful of days or sleeps.   

I'm not looking forward to the second-day-home-at-altitude headache and exhaustion I know is coming this afternoon.  

I'm glad to be home. I'm just very, very tired.  My brain will be awake enough tomorrow to regale you with wit,  whimsy, and basic truths.  Until then..... yawn... I'm not gonna push it. 

Thanks for understanding. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

She Has A Name

Mr Dreamycakes weighed in
I had a few ideas.  
Big Cuter's suggestion was close to being acceptable. 
But Queen T exercised her maternal prerogative and I was powerless to resist. 

Please welcome Honey Bunny, the Easter baby whose mommy greets her that way every day. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Street Scene

Queen T treated me to a pedicure this morning.  She left earlier than I, because she wanted her nails done, too.  I walked the two tenths of a mile uphill to the salon, marveling at my ability to do so with every step.  I was happy before I walked upstairs to the spa, chose my color, and took a seat in the comfy chair next to her.

Cocoon Urban Day Spa
An hour of pampering was just what I needed to shed the tired, up with the baby feeling.  Queen T was finished before my toes were dry; she walked home to nurse and pump (because that's her life right now). I sat, chatting companionably with the woman to my left and the technician who'd tended to my toes, until I could put on my bought-yesterday-for $4 at Target flip flops and hobble down the steps to the street.

New toenail polish and new flip flops and steep stairs were a challenge, but I survived until I reached the sofa outside the restaurant on the first floor.  I reorganized my phone and wallet around my person, draped my coat over my shoulders, and began to walk home.

Home.  Everyone should have access to a home.  No one should have to sleep on the street, wrapped in layers of blankets, their possessions huddled beside them. Vulnerable humans exposed, strays, broken people in a broken system.  There are not enough shelter beds for those who want them.... and many do not want them at all.

Still, signs like this

made me cringe.

I didn't take pictures because it seemed unnecessarily cruel to objectify them for my own purposes, but trust me, there were more than a few sleeping in the sunshine, on the pavement, against the buildings, behind the benches, around the sculptures.

It's a beautiful city with a terrible problem.  I fretted for two blocks then decided to laugh at the most ridiculous structure I've ever seen.

Yes, it is wobbly looking.  Yes, it is squiggly. Yes, it is intentional.

It put me in the right frame of mind to go back to the happy young family.  I had only a few regrets about not caring more, about not doing more, about reveling in my joy while others sleep on the street.

If the whole city can't solve the problem, I can't take it on my shoulders.  

On the other hand, If not me, who?  If not now, when.

It's a quandary, indeed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


There is no denying it. Babies are the original attractive nuisance. 

Feeding her the supplemental formula she needs to gain some weight,  changing her delightfully stinky diapers, recording the amount that she swallowed and the color and texture of her excretions, staring at her face, feeling her fingers wrap around mine... it's exhausting.  

She's on her own timetable,  which does not synchronize with that of the adults charged with her care.  "What time is it?" is no longer a relevant question.  It's baby time and that's all that matters. 

So when I called TBG to say goodnight before I fell asleep at 7:45 last night,  all we could do was laugh.

I want to write about Dominion,  and street people in San Francisco,  and Ron DeSantis, and so much more. But I am tired and besotted and already hours late with this post,  so I'll leave you with this and be back tomorrow with worthwhile verbiage. 

Thanks for understanding. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Today's Adventures

The walk from the kids' apartment has many amusements, chief among them (for me, at least) are the informative signs and and pictures along the way.  I finally caught a picture of my favorite one when the sun and clouds didn't obscure the words
The clangor of their coming and going comprised a contrapuntal symphony of cosmopolis. It's onomatopoetic, and evocative of the place, even if the current versions of the rail cars are silent.

At the end of my meandering today, I sat on a bench, looking at The Willie Brown Bridge, otherwise known by everyone as The Bay Bridge, eating soft serve ice cream and thinking of Daddooooo.
When the street lights came on in the summer time, and all the neighborhood kids were in their pajamas, my Dad would wonder aloud Who wants Carvel...... and his car was miraculously filled with lots of hungry humans (this was before seat belts... I'm old) who were admonished to finish the damn things before you get back in the car by my smiling father who was, for the moment, exactly in his element.

He'd have been ecstatic to come home to this perfect little person,
just as I was.

I'm having such a good time.  I don't know how I'll leave on Saturday.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Substack, Clarence Thomas, and Me

Have you investigated Substack?  

It's a long form combination of Twitter and Blogger - the quick response and sharing features of Elon Musk's hulk of what used to be a source of information but which is now just supporting his ego AND the regular postings of people I know and trust.  

While my Twitter feed was curated to keep most of the crazies at bay, so many of the people I followed have left the platform that it's no longer very useful at all.  I counted on Joyce Vance's insight for the legal background on Trump's troubles; she's now on Substack, sharing her ideas and opinions and pictures of her chickens and their new coop.  I don't have to open threads any more.  It's all laid out on one page, just like my blog.

There are paid and free options for everyone.  Instead of resubscribing to Vanity Fair, I used those dollars to follow her and have the opportunity to comment and get extra posts.  It was a smart move.  Although I thought I'd miss the gossipy, sleek, and shiny magazine pages and their attempts to keep me up to date on what's cool and trendy, I've found that I don't really care that much.  I have Little Cuter to keep me up to date on those issues.

I read long and meandering posts from Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  He's not the best writer in the world, but his viewpoint is interesting and often quite thought provoking.  His profile introduces him as offering

his take on news, pop culture, sports, and whatever else interests him.  There are links to music, outrage over Republicans stripping Americans of their rights, and analysis of the sports world that is entirely believable.  After all, he's Kareem.

I don't care that much what is behind Dan Pfeiffer's pay wall; the early portions of his rants are enough to let me know what the old Obama crew is thinking.  Still, it's nice to have a little bit of outrage every few days.

Heather Cox Richardson is writing the history of America as it happens.  She's fact based, delving deeper into the stories that Google News gives only brief notes.  Her most recent expose of the DOJ's efforts to combat the fentanyl epidemic gave me some hope that actual steps are being taken to end the scourge.

Judd Legum's Popular Information, Cheryl Strayed, and Larissa Babij's a Kind of Refugee are three very different and interesting takes on the world we live in.  I recommend them all. Krassensteins' Democratic Informer - Fighting Hate and Lies is often a video.  The twins who create the content are smart and Jewish and opinionated; if you don't agree with them you might be appalled.  

I'm still browsing and picking new reads, reads which are labeled by the length of time it will take to read them and whose identifying symbolism changes from a red dot to a black check mark once they are finished.  I spend less time rereading stuff; that's a good thing.

Then, there are NOTES, which are restacked and passed on by others.  There are also comments - civil, intelligent, honest comments.  A nasty piece of verbiage was called out immediately.   Substack is aiming to be a respectful forum, and thus far it seems to be meeting that goal.

I left my first comment after Joyce Vance referenced Stephen Beschloss's concerns about Clarence Thomas.  It was a comment I researched and spell checked (twice), comparing Abe Fortas and Clarence Thomas.  If I could find it again I would copy it for you.  Alas, I have no idea where it went after I saw it the first time.  It's a new platform, and they are still finding their way.  Hamish McKenzie, one of the creators, wrote what's quoted below.  Read on, if you're interested.  

I don’t think it’s helpful to think of Notes as a Twitter alternative. It’s something new and different. It’s a sharing and recommendation system that is part of the Substack network, so it’s about growth and discovery and connection and community. It will reveal itself more over time (in some ways that we can’t anticipate, I bet) and as it does it will become ever more distant from the social networks we know today. It’s a subscription network, not a social network; it’s something different.

As for content moderation: kick the tires for a bit, spend some time on Notes, hang out in your Subscribed tab, then dabble in the Home tab. See what the experience is like. See how often you come across deleterious stuff. Block people you really don’t want to hear from. My bet is that the dynamics of the subscription network and recommendation graph make it default much better than other platforms. We have content guidelines that we will continue to enforce, but it’s the design of the system, and the more power and control that you ultimately have as a user, that will make Notes a great place to spend your time.

We’ll be publishing our vision and philosophy about how we ensure Notes is a good place for discussion later this week. We hope it will spark some productive thought and critique.

Sunday, April 16, 2023


I'm trying to comment on your comments and Blogger is not recognizing me. 

I may appear as anonymous in the profile picture,  but if it's signed a/b you'll know it's my handiwork. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

On the Streets of San Francisco

I've been walking along the Embarcadero.
There's lots to see. 
But probably my favorite thing to see was this guyriding high in the very well protected bike lane, reading his phone. 

San Francisco is really unlike any place else.

Thursday, April 13, 2023


I don't know how I raised two children to adulthood.  To be honest,  I don't know how my siblings and I survived our childhood. 

I have vivid memories of  Sister as an infant, sleeping unsecured in a bassinet that hooked over the front seat. 

Today,  the baby rode to her doctor's appointment strapped six ways from Sunday into a padded car seat with an insert designed for her smaller self. 

I didn't sterilize anything.  This thing 
is installed on the already crowded counter,  ready to sterilize and clean every bottle every time. 

I heated bottles in a pot of warm water on the stove. I shook out a drop or two on my wrist to test the temperature.  Today,  Big Cuter used this thing
and a digital thermometer to ascertain the exact temperature of the supplemental formula.

I've been on laundry duty all day,  which made me very happy.  Why? Because some things never change. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

So Small

This sock is much too big for her tiny foot. 

The 0-3 month clothes swallow her up entirely. 

Queen T threading (insert blogonym here)'s arm through what seemed like miles of sleeve in the newborn sized onesie was like watching a marathon in slow motion.  The fingers, tiny as they are,  kept getting stuck. 

She and I spent the morning on the couch,  snuggling,  while her parents got some uninterrupted nap time together. Songs were sung. Stories were told. Kisses were given. 

True,  the conversation was a bit one- sided, but when she opened her eyes she looked deep into my soul. 
Can you tell that I'm obsessed?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Look Who's Here

I'm on my way to hug the newest and youngest denizen.  

She will need a carefully considered blogonym. 

What a lovely thing to think about.

Life is good.
That was supposed to post on Monday, but in all the excitement and changing my travel plans (she arrived 2 weeks earlier than planned) I wrote it but didn't publish it.

Apologies are tendered, but I know you'll understand.

Waking up at 3:23am for a 5:15am flight put a damper on the evening; I was tired at 8 but stayed up til 10 and can't remember the first plane taking off.  Walking across the aisle from Gate 13 to Gate 14 made changing planes a breeze, but the early alarm began to take its toll before the second flight took off.

I made good use of an empty apartment - I napped until the young family arrived.  Since then it's been watching in amazement as my son's big hands change the tiniest diaper on the newest member of our family.
Life is good.  How can you doubt it when these eyes are seeing the world for the first time.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Going To Hell In A Handbasket - A Snippet

Today, Tennessee expelled two young black legislators for protesting with other young people.  The issue was guns, but it could have been voting rights or reproductive choice.  

The white female legislator who protested with them escaped expulsion.

Clarence Thomas has been taking joyrides with a rich Republican donor.

The 45th President of the United States is facing multiple felonies in multiple jurisdictions.

House Republicans refuse to present a budget for negotiation, and they seem to think that's okay.

The Women's NCAA Basketball Championship Game was brilliantly played, poorly refereed, and is now mired in racist angst....and Jill Biden's gotten dragged into the fray, too, just by trying to be nice.

It does feel like the world's going to hell in a handbasket, but then I remember I've been predicting that as the School Shooting Generation grows up and becomes voters, the world will change.  Maxwell Frost (D, FL) got his start as a Students Demand Action volunteer and is now the youngest serving member of Congress. They want a world where the air is breathable and Manhattan Island isn't underwater.

I decided to go into the weekend thinking positive thoughts.  Worrying won't solve anything.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Biosphere 2

It wasn't as much fun as we had hoped.

The self-guided tour appeared easily on our phones; there were no headphones required.  Without a tour leader to monitor our progress, we were able to speed our way through the rain forest (damp and completely uncomfortable albeit gorgeously fecund) and walk as the project directors and professors and managers described what they were doing in each section.

What started out as a can humans survive in an enclosed space became less enclosed as the plants didn't give off enough oxygen to support human life.  Once additional oxygen was pumped in, the whole can humans survive in a can thing became moot.  

The facility has been owned by a series of institutions, most recently the University of Arizona.  There were a dozen or so stations where, with a push of a button,  a short lecture began.  Were I an interested middle schooler,, looking for a career path, it might have been fascinating.  As a grandmother with a 4 and 8 year old in tow, I sped through a lot of it.

Not that there weren't wonders. 

There was art. 

There were tree props.

There were anthracite/malachite boulders.
And there were lilacs.
I asked the lovely young lady at the cash register if there had been research about the psychological effects of living in the Biosphere.  She directed me to this book, whose sub-title tells it all..... 

Two Years and Twenty Minutes.........

Those were very long 20 minutes, I bet.