Friday, October 9, 2015

Snippets - CUBBIES WIN!!!


According to ESPN, everyone everywhere except Pittsburgh wanted the Cubs to win the wild card game and advance to the Division Championship 7 game series.

That's all you need, if you want to look like you understand what's going on.
Yes, Daughter D, this next phase is a series.

The first game was, absurdly, between the teams with the 2nd and 3rd best record in baseball. How did it happen?  It's the first time in the system's 17 years; no one expected it.

I have my t-shirt from 1989, carefully cold water washed and folded neatly, to be brought out on championship runs.

I am letting myself dare to dream.
Little Cuter took FlapJilly to the softball field, where, to the delight of the women's league on the adjacent field, my granddaughter expressed herself
I'm sorry.
Kinda sorta.
Anyway, CUBBIES WIN!! and if FlapJilly feels it, who am I to say her nay?

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Sometimes, I forget to eat it.  Sometimes, it is all I can think about. Lunch and I have a very complicated relationship.

It took me a long time to get used to the idea of ruining a perfectly good slice of rye bread by using it to hold meat in place.  The bread was enough for me; why was roast beef needed?

It was in elementary school that this first became an issue; there was no Go-Gurt or Lunchables in the 1950's. G'ma would make a week's worth of sandwiches, label them in her tiny print, wrap them in Saran Wrap and pop one in my lunch box every morning.  By the time I opened it up at noon, the frozen bread had softened into an interesting paste, often adhering to the pastrami or salami or turkey it contained.

Friends soon learned that sitting next to me would often garner them something much more interesting than their pb&j from home.  I wished I liked peanut butter; I loved jelly and bread. Trading for an apple or a cookie, I'd leave the cafeteria hungry and sad.  It made learning in the afternoon a challenge; I attribute my math difficulties to the fact that it was always taught right after lunchtime.

In 6th grade we were allowed to go off campus for lunchtime; every once in a while G'ma would write me a note and a friend and I would walk to the diner and have a hamburger.  But these treats were few and far between; mostly, I suffered.

In middle school, lunch took on a whole other meaning.  It was less about the food and more about socializing.  With whom would I sit?  Somehow, eating became less important than negotiating a favorable seat.  By high school, we could drive to Mickey D's or Dairy Queen if we had an older, licensed, friend.  Sometimes I ate in the girls' gym, keeping the monitor company.  It was weird, but I did it.  The lunch room was often too much of a social scene for comfort.

In adulthood, I learned to binge.  For weeks at a time, I'd carry an egg salad on challah in my purse.  That morphed into tuna in a margarine container.  When I was pregnant with Big Cuter, McDonalds was back in a major way; my co-workers informed me I was no longer allowed to choose our lunch destination.  It made a come back when Big Cuter was in kindergarten; his afternoon classmates would meet up for kids' meals then carpool to class.  I was no longer able to gag down the burgers, but the french fries never lost their allure.

At home, raising the kids, I'd pack us into the car and we'd go out for lunch.  Making it at home was never an option, except when I heated up Spaghetti-O's for my son.  They never tempted me, but I could delude myself into thinking I was a good mom because I was cooking for him at home.

And now, as an adult, with all options available at the turn of an ignition key, I am still stuck. Fast food burgers at 5 Guys, pizza at Sauce, tuna salad at Beyond Bread, Jimmy John's delivery, yogurt from the fridge.... I'm hungry and I'm unable to decide.

Bread and butter is looking awfully good right now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

World Languages

I represented my alma mater, Cornell University, at the Tucson Unified School District's College Night.  Among the bright eyes and sharp minds there were those with specific needs for their next educational adventure.  Is there snow? What would a pre-med program look like?  Can I study large animals at the Vet School as an undergraduate?  I'm interested in civil engineering ... bioengineering... neuroscience ..... nutrition...  foreign languages.

Yes yes yes yes yes... Ezra founded his namesake University on the premise that any person could find instruction in any course of study. Not to worry; if you want to take Ancient Aramaic, someone will teach it to you.

All night long I wondered if I'd chosen the most obscure language taught at Cornell.  My computer problems prevented me from searching the website.  This afternoon, when the fabulous AV guy spent fifteen minutes rerouting signals and reprogramming our DVD's remote, I was tasked with finding the Instruction Manual.

In the back of that manual are two pages listing the individual codes for over 175 languages.  I'm amazed at the reach of the Yamaha DVD player, but more than that I am surprised. I don't recognize  Afar or Assamese or Avestan or Aymara.  Bihari and Bislama, Dzonghkha and Faroese and Frisian and Gallegan are equally unknown, and that is just the first of four columns.

It gets worse.  Gikuyu, Guarani, Herero, Hiri Motu .... 'twas brillig and the slithy tove is all of a sudden sounding less like gibberish and more like something I haven't yet discovered.  Komi, Kwanyama, Letzeburgesch, and Manx sound place specific to me.

As we move into the third column, Nauru and Ndebele (North and South) and Ndonga lead into Nynorsk and Occitan (post 1500).  Seriously, that's the notation.  I guess there aren't a lot of 15th century Occitan speakers using DVD players these days.)

Telugu and Tigrinya and Tswana and Twi and Volapuk and I was beginning to think it would never end and then I saw Yiddish... and I smiled.  It's such a silly word in itself, you almost have to smile when you say it.  I remembered Donna's comment, on West Wing, that words such as spatula and far-fetched should be Yiddish, even if they aren't because they sound as if they are.  I began to imagine what Lingala might sound like.  I pondered Wolof wooing.  And then I came here to share it all with you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

VW and Me

It's all TBG's fault, actually.  He jinxed the whole thing by his one, off-hand comment last weekend.

"Y'know, The Schnozz has been basically a trouble free car.  You haven't had anything major or expensive to deal with."

From his mouth to Satan's ear, for sure, because this morning, on my way to Mah Jongg and the middle school and the furniture store and the gym and the library and the grocery, with the clouds lowering and the windshield showing a smattering of tiny drops, my sunroof refused to close.

Yes, I know, in a normal climate a temperature of 84F would require the air conditioner at full blast.  Here in Tucson, though, we start opening our windows and reaching for sweaters once we're back down into double digits.  84 was perfect for smelling the desert air, creosote on the breeze, nothing mechanical to cool me... perfect for lowered windows and open sunroofs.

It got half way there, and retreated.  Then it wouldn't move at all.  Then it went an inch and stopped.   Clearly, something was amiss.  I pulled off onto a side street and called the dealership.  Certainly there would be a fuse I could pull and reinsert to fix the problem, I thought, conveniently forgetting that it cost $75 to replace the rear tail lightbulb, with a See a Certified Mechanic to perform this operation warning in the manual.

Sure, they could look at the car today.  Sure, they could drop me off at home.  No, there was no simple fix.

So, Andrew took The Schnozz, a Brazilian music major recently relocated from Juneau drove me home, and TBG held me as I responded to Andrew's phone call.

"The mechanic managed to get it closed...."  and right away I knew I was in trouble.  $1700+ worth of trouble.  Apparently, the track on the frame is bent, requiring the replacement of the entire mechanism.  The part is not in stock.  It will take the better part of a day to install.

On the bright side, for this kind of thing, for sure they have a loaner for me.

I hate car trouble.  I use my car as a purse, carrying my stuff from hither to yon.  My purses don't break, and when they do, I throw them away and get another.  I don't let their break downs eat into my soul the way I allow automotive and computer problems to take up residence and start chewing from the inside out.

This is only money.  I was safe, if somewhat wet, and there is a plan in place to resolve the issue.  I should be able to let go.  I keep telling myself that it's not my fault, that no elephants climbed on the roof of the car, that leaving it open last night didn't do lasting damage, that I could honestly answer All the time when Andrew wondered when I last opened the damn thing.  Apparently, some people keep them closed from April til October and they get stuck.

I'm trying to find an answer to the unanswerable.  I'm getting pretty good at that, it seems.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mud Run, Tucson Style

Amster and the kids invited me to tag along.  
I was their gear holder and photographer and cheerleader.

I was there at the start
when they were in the tub
("Not cold at all!!" according to Mr. 10)
 near the army guys 
 who Amster thought were quite rude, using their size to advantage, 
but who Mr. 10 thought were wonderful.  
They stopped and helped him with the carry-the-buckets-filled-with-sand-through-the-mud obstacle.
"They were really nice, Mom.
Those buckets were really heavy."

It was that kind of an event, a little bit family

and a little bit fun .
There were teams in matching outfits
(Yes, they were superheroes)
and there were orange shirted monitors on foot and on bike, 
making sure everyone was having a great time.

Getting over the top of this A-Frame stymied some, but stumped none.
There was always someone to help.
Those two on either side of Mr. 10 (in the green shirt) weren't going anywhere until he was over.
They didn't know that he's totally competent, completely in control of his body and its capabilities.
They saw a little one and they stopped competing long enough to be sure he was safe.
Then, they were off.
I'm not sure that Mr. 10 even knew they were there, but they were.

Towards the end, there were monkey bars, 
which Amster completed, and on which Mr. 12 rang the bells.
The jump for the first rung was more than Mr. 10 could manage, but he was okay with that.
After all, you can't teach height.  Maybe next time....

At the end, there were bananas 
and Muscle Milk and medals
It was competitive - and don't you know that we stayed for the medal ceremony - but it was friendly.
There was a double header award for completing two Mud Runs in one calendar year.
We got those medals, too.
Only in Tucson would we think that 95 degrees is perfectly cool,
 but that's just what it was this Saturday.
They were perfectly cool, too.

Friday, October 2, 2015


I sat in the parking lot at Prince Elementary School as I heard the news. I found myself screaming NO at the top of my lungs.  It didn't help much, but it felt good at the time.

Once again, the television is covered with pictures of a parking lot, with stories of reunions, with wondering when the next set of facts will be delivered to the hungry maw of the press.

I can't worry about more facts right now.  I'm with the officers meeting the families of those who died at school today.  They are stepping into the after portion of their lives.  They've joined the club of the bereaved-by-a-gun ... and yes someone pulled the trigger but he didn't throw 13 hunting knives now did he?

I cannot care about the issue more deeply.  I cannot do more than I am already doing to make my position known, to support organizations and candidates whose views coincide with mine, to encourage my friends and family and readers and strangers to take action.  With some minor corrections on the edges, there really doesn't seem to be much progress at all.

Yes, we are chipping away at the NRA, one race at a time.  But the national conversation has yet to find a champion to scream at the top of her lungs - THIS SHALL NOT CONTINUE.

There is a resigned overlay to the reporting.  The tellers in the bank today shook their heads, commiserated with me, and then went back to work.  I don't know why I'm surprised - if the murder of kindergarteners and teachers in an upscale Eastern town didn't create massive change, how can I expect junior college students' murders to do any more?

I am so very very tired of thinking about this. And really, what difference will it make?  I cannot care more deeply, and feeling the sorrow will not help anyone at all.  I have been reminding myself of that all afternoon - no one is helped if I am crying in a heap on the couch.  It's an awful thing to say, but right now I don't have any more room in my sad box.

I sent TBG to the gym to spin away his angst and burgeoning PTSD hollowness.  I spread sunshine wherever I went - thanking bankers for recognizing me and saying a real hello, congratulating cashiers on finding the best coupon I could use, not tailgating the much-too-slow pickup in front of me - hoping to right the balance of the world with kindness.  I looked for the good in every encounter. I cannot let the shooter win.  He cannot take this day from me.

Then JannyLou left me a message, wondering how I was doing and if there was anything she could do to help.  We agreed that she could let me not think about it.  She could agree with me that feeling sad will help no one.  She acknowledged that trying to put it in the back of my mind did not make me a bad person, but rather a person who is still raw in the same space that these feelings are nudging.

I'm going to watch videos of FlapJilly and read an Ace Atkins mystery and spend some time with Phrynne Fischer and I'm going to try as hard as I can to avoid the news.  I'm going to take care of myself, so that I can continue to fight another day.

Today, it's just too hard.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Archeology Southwest

I went to tea on Sunday.  I ate scones with clotted cream.  I ate crust-less cucumber sandwiches.  I wore my mouse shoes and a frilly skirt.  I sat next to the 92 year old man who wrote the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. With Lady Jane by my side, I examined the relationships between museums and native tribes, while sipping tea and crooking my pinky just so.

I learned new words - geoglyph and patinated.  I listened to a man pronounce complicated-to-my-ears Hopi and Zuni and Havasupi names with nary a hitch in his delivery.  I expanded my horizons and joined a new organization and made plans for a girls' trip to Flagstaff.  It was a well-spent two hours, indeed.

Robert G. Breunig runs the Museum of Northern Arizona.  Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, it's Lady Jane's favorite museum ever.  Lady Jane does not toss compliments lightly.  After listening to Mr. Breunig's presentation, I understand her love.

The museum itself is newly housed in a building created by a committee.  Somehow, this one seems to work.  The Native American Advisors had a list of requirements.  It should face east, have circularity of form and be connected with the cycle of the seasons.  There should be as much natural light as possible, and the construction should use local materials.

It didn't sound too challenging, until Director Breunig began talking about the effects of natural light on ancient artifacts.  The collection staff were opposed.  The Advisors were adamant.  Because this is the kind of place where inclusion, consultation, collaboration, and partnership are primary values, a solar tube, opening only when someone enters the room, was installed.

Would that Congress could compromise so easily.

The native people's connection to the earth led to a living roof, satisfying the request that the building should be alive.  The earth for the native grasses growing atop the museum is local. The energy savings from 7' of earth above the collections is the 21st century rationale, but I'm going with a living building, myself.

In addition, on the equinoxes, the sunrise hits a sun icon on the front door.  Shades of Indiana Jones, eh?

Underlying all this wonderfulness was the question with which I entered the room: "Who told us this was all okay?"  Who gave this white guy permission to create a museum showcasing the other?  Mr. Breunig addressed it in his opening remark, quoted above, which endeared him to me immediately.

There was no dancing around an elephant in the room; he went at it straight on. The museum is a collaboration between the curators, the donors of artifacts, and the creators of stories and baskets and jewelry.  Their mission statement says it best:
We will not oppose each other; 
rather, we will enable one another and allow objects and people to speak.
Yet, that speaking brings up another set of issues.  Respecting indigenous knowledge means getting information from the source communities. What happens when the information a curator wants is held sacred by the tribe, to be shared with elders or initiates, but never with outsiders?  How does each side explain the need?  Mr. Breunig's discussion was fascinating.

Here's one example: The Museum created a Zuni Database, with information from NMA, UCLA and Cambridge.  They downloaded it and gave it to the Zuni.  Deal with it.  Identify it, classify it, determine who has access to it.... returning the data to the Zuni was, in some way, restoring it to its proper place.  NMA ws honoring the native perspective and giving it voice.

In a similar circumstance, the Havasupai chose from a wide array the items NMA displays.  NMA is given over to the tribes for festivals four times each year.  The Easton Collection Center is a spiritual home, housing relics still meaningful today.  It is truly a living building.

It was the most respectful discussion of individual differences I've heard in a long time.  With everything to divide them, these people came together and created a  monument to history and culture, viewed from another perspective.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


All those shapes.
All those colors.
All those smiles.

We made girls
with green hair 
or were they rays of sunshine? 
We made letters
while noticing that there were numbers there, too.
(see the 36?) 
Funny how one thing hides within another,
or pretends to be something else entirely.
Larry really liked the lower case b transforming itself, without much help, into a 6
We sat and studied it for a long time.

The girls seemed able to do the task while seated.
Those two blue shapes made a bow
just like the one in her hair. 
They were also wings, which flew around her head.

And, there were smiles. 
Just putting the dot on the J was cause for joy.
And why not?
We're getting smarter every day, and that is fun.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


There, I said it.  I want to go back to paper and pencil.  NOW.

Last week, I wanted to share photos of the scholars in the kindergarten classroom, cutting and coloring and concentrating.  They were, theoretically, uploaded to Dropbox, which meant that they should be accessible here, on Lenore the Lenovo.  They existed in New Folder in Dropbox on my phone. Yet, they were no where to be found in Lenore.

I searched everywhere.  I screamed.  I stormed around the house.  I searched again.  I checked the phone and reassured myself that I had not totally lost my mind.  They were on the phone in Dropbox but not in Dropbox on the computer. It took days for them to be accessed on the laptop.

Lenore has it in for me.

I have a meeting tomorrow.  The information is in the GRIN inbox.  Lenore has decided that This webpage is not available.  Did all of Go Daddy! disappear over night?  I don't think so.  I found it on my phone readily enough... although working from my phone is hardly convenient.

There have been other issues, too.  Words With Friends will not load on Lenore.  Links do not open automatically; This webpage is not available is my only answer to the clicks.  I tried to use System Restore, which has saved me in the past, but apparently Lenore the Lenovo required me to set up System Restore.  My other computers set up automatic restore points.  Lenore did not. The first date to which I can return is today, when it's already too late.

I'm toast.  I'm screwed.  I'm aggravated.

I wanted to make the kids an anniversary card, but the photos I needed were no where to be found, though I know they are in here.  I suppose I shouldn't have cleaned out my gmail folders; I deleted the card I could have used as a template.


There was something about replacing a broken laptop in my warranty. Right now I am ready to accidentally run this one over with my car.... or toss it from a great height.... or spill breakfast lunch and dinner on it.

It deserves nothing better.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Scholars at Work

It was a tough morning in kindergarten.
After all the effort it took to cut out that ear, the glue stick wouldn't let go.
Every station had a challenge.... like scissors.
Some of the friends in the classroom had the skill down pat.
They knew how to hold the paper 
and turn the paper  
although some had to stand to do so. 
Make no mistake,
this was serious business. 
The story featured a mouse
and cutting the M was the straight part of the task. 
It was those pesky eyeballs and noses and ears, all those round shapes, that gave us the most trouble.
I'd never considered the pedagogy behind this kind of exercise, but watching the scholars zip through some pieces and struggle with others gave me time to ponder.
"Thumbs up" was the most frequent reminder needed.
Some of the kids just didn't have the coordination yet.
Neither did Big Cuter, who failed scissors in Senior Kindergarten, 
and who, as I went on to tell the strugglers, is now a lawyer.

The glue stick was also an issue.
It really liked the taste or the texture or the personality of the paper because it often refused to let go.
One of the scholars thought he'd try the up-in-the-air approach.
We had fun describing adhesion and friction and the need for a solid base - for glue and for life.

Then there was coloring
leaving no white spaces because in this room we color the whole picture.

Finally, there was showing off the finished product. 

This teacher is creating Americans, one letter of the alphabet at a time.


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