Friday, September 30, 2011


It's a good thing we sleep with our windows open, because there's nothing like waking up in the middle of the night with the sound of rain and thunder roaring in your ears, the smell of petrichor wafting through the room, the feel of a fresh breeze blowing on your skin, and the coolness of raindrops plopping on your face. In the middle of the drought of the century.


Thursday, September 29, 2011


It's bad when Satan comes around and has to go back because it is too hot out here. That's what it's been like around here all flaming summer long.

Record hot temperatures. Record number of days over 100 degrees. Record number of consecutive days over 100 degrees. Record hot highs. Record hot lows. And how about this: we have even had the case of our low temperature being higher than the reigning record high temperature on a given date. I don't even know what kind of record to call that?

Oh, and did I mention that, according to our friendly neighborhood weatherman, we are in the middle of a 7-year drought? AAAGGGHHHH!!!!!

Well into September, after day after day of a blazing season, we finally got a cool front! Though when "cool" means "down in the 90's," it doesn't mean much. But, we get what we get, and in this case, we were glad to get it.

We turned off the a/c, we opened the windows, and I even psyched myself up to fire up the oven and cook, for the first time since April. We loved this for almost a whole week! But then Monday came along, and suddenly GOTCHA!! Back over 100 degrees, and a new record: fully one-quarter of this year has been given over to the infernity of 100-degree days.

Are there any records left? I'm afraid to know.

One of my favorite pieces of Texana trivia is the parting speech given by Davy Crockett to his once-constituents after losing his bid for re-election to the Tennessee State House of Representatives: "You all can go to hell, I'm going to Texas."

Well, Davy, after sweating through this steaming, screaming, searing, swearing, simmering, sweltering, sizzling, scorching summer season, I am beginning to wonder if you didn't get the two mixed up...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fountain Of Youth


When I get up in the morning, everything hurts. My muscles are stiff, my back hurts, my plantar fasciitis is agonizing. I suck it up and gut it out: I walk on the treadmill, work in the garden, chase little kids, move the chicken house, hang out the laundry, and after a day of lifting that bale and toting that barge, I feel every day of my years. Long before bedtime, I am ready to give in, and I'm not surprised when I wake up with Charley Horse a few hours later. That's the way it is at home.

But here! Out here in magical California, things are different! I cook, fetch and carry, do errands, work in the garage, take out the dumpsters (ours and the neighbors' for a grand total of seven, and those suckers are heavy!). Throw in my little mother and her sister to take care of, and just like at home, it adds up to hard labor. By 7 o'clock, it's bedtime at the old folks' home. They are all tucked into their recliners, in their pj's, for an evening of Mexican Dr. Phil. I've still got hours to go, but you know what, NOTHING HURTS!!!

So. What's the deal? Do I recommend California? Nope. I've given this some thought, and I'm pretty sure I've got it figured out.

At home, I am just about the oldest person around, but here...well, the opposite. There is no Fountain of Youth, not really. What there is though, is two old great/grandmas, and there's nothing like a couple of 80+yo's to make a 50-something grandma feel like a KID!

In the final analysis, it's all kinda "relative"....

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flying Through Phoenix

It isn't that I fly to LA all that often or anything, but every time I do, I find myself in Phoenix. And every time, the same thing happens. It goes like this:

We are making good time. Not only are we on time, we are a few minutes early. So far so good. But as soon as we land, we come to a stop, and the captain announces that our gate is occupied and we will just cool our w/heels out here on the fringes for a "few minutes" until our gate is free.

We settle down to wait, and from then on, every five minutes we hear, "It should just be another few minutes." This goes on enough times that my one-plus-hour layover ends up shortened by 25%. The flight attendant optimistically informs me that a run is probably not required, but a hustle will definitely be helpful, and don't worry, there are golf carts and moving sidewalks. So, I don't worry, but I tie on my running shoes and prepare to sprint.

Even 45 minutes is do-able for a grandma in fairly decent shape, but the minute I step into the terminal, I see that a run may not be a bad idea, because I have de-barked at this end of the "B" gates, and my connecting flight is alllllllllll the way at that end of the "A" gates.

The race is on! And God bless the man who invented wheels on suitcases. I just wish that was the kind of suitcase I had right now.

Sky Harbor is well-marked, and it takes just a quick glance to locate the "A Gates" arrow. I scurry over to the sign and behold a corridor stretching to eternity. I can't even see the other end. Fortunately there is a moving sidewalk. It would be even more fortunate if it worked. But that would be a lot to expect at this point, wouldn't it, so I gird up my loins and start the first mile.

Lo and behold! The second leg of the moving sidewalk is moving, and I hop on! "Stand on the right/Walk on the left," the sign says, and that's cool, except that the sign doesn't say how fast to walk, and it only takes one minute for me to catch up to the next walker who is taking his Sunday stroll. There is no way to pass, so I fall in and slow my step to match his, which leaves me frantically cooling my heels and see myself being overtaken, and passed, by the horde that spurned the hi-tech sidewalk in favor of only their own foot power.

The moving sidewalk finally reaches the end of the terminal. I think. But when I get off...PSYYYYCH! It's only the corner in a 90-degree turn, and off to the right stretches another endless hallway. "A" gates all, but mine is nowhere in sight.

I spit on my hands, hoist my non-wheeled case over my shoulder, and gird up my loins, rejecting the moving sidewalk to take off on my own. Sure enough, I easily pass the suckers walkers on the moving sidewalk. Coming to one last moving sidewalk, which I also bypass, I can see my gate coming up in the nebulous distance. YAY! There is light at the end of the tunnel!

I really don't know what I'm worried about. This event is scripted and finely tuned, and I have participated enough times to know how it comes out: I will make it to the gate in plenty to time to make my flight.

What I should be worried about is what comes next: KALIFORNIA.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Tale of Two Summers

YAY! Summer! Not. Summer is far and away my least favorite season, but this one promised Pure Promise: a new(ish) house, a trip to Jamaica, a trip to California, and TWO visits from our cadet! What could be better? Well, as it happens...

Good Summer: A new house! Well, new to us. Definitely not our dream house, but we have discovered that our dream house doesn't exist. At least not in our price range.

More Good Summer: A visit from the cadet! Having him safe at home in his own little bed is reason enough worth living for, all by itself. But having him at home to lend some friendly muscle to toting that barge and lifting that bale, What could top that?!

More Good Summer yet: Our first trip to Jamaica, and all expenses paid! Jamaica absolutely lived up to every expectation. Waterfalls, beaches, open-air restaurants, humorous road signs, flowers in cascades of rainbows, good weather~complete with a summer storm~and friendly natives. But as much as we liked the "Jamaica" stamp in our passport, nothing measures up to the "America" stamp at the end of the trail. Well, to be perfectly honest, there is no "America" stamp, only a disappointing electronic swipe. But if there were an "America" stamp, it would definitely be the best.

And this is when the Promise fell apart.

Bad Summer: One day after we arrived back in the Land of the Free, our cadet showed up for his second visit. That is always cause for celebration, and so far so good. But one day after his arrival, one of our darling daughters got sick. Fine one day, deathly sick the next, with not an instant of warning.

For her: emergency room visits, tests, scans, labs, appointments with doctors of every specialty. Threats of lupus, Crone's disease, cancer, leukemia, kidney infections, and who-knows-what other unnamed horrors.

For me: grandma-ing in spades. Breakfasts and lunches, laundries, beds, toys, you-name-it, for four little almost-motherless kidlets. Keeping two houses going is not for sissies, and only the bare minimum got done at either place. My house, four months later, still looks like we moved in yesterday.

Thank God that the other grandmother, who lives in the area was able and willing to do the afternoon shift. There went eight weeks. And finally, armed with a freezer full of ready-to-eat meals and an accommodating husband, darling daughter was able to hold her own. Nothing heroic yet, but at least essential functions. So it was time for California for me.

Good summer: California! Sorta. I am NOT a fan of California, but my mom lives there, and my brother, who lives in Japan, was coming for a visit, so that is worthwhile anyplace. It was a trip to remember, dusting off old memories, and making new ones. We were kids again, visiting the house we lived in, playing in the house where we used to visit our cousins half a century ago, doing some touristy things, meeting the new neighbors, enjoying the 107-degree record-breaking heat that we thought we had left at home. Oh, no, scratch that last one. It goes under Bad Summer.

Bad summer: My little mother's health is failing. She can no longer get around without the help of a cane or a walker. Her beloved garden and outside birds now take up far more time than they used to, a way, time is what she has now. Some things she simply can do no more. She gave up driving, leaving her at the mercy of whomever will take the time to take her the few places she needs to go. I am sandwiched between the realization of the mortality of my daughter on one side and of my mother on the other side.

At last home again, home again, to things precariously balanced, but ok for the moment. Nothing good happened at home while I was gone. My house still looked like we moved in yesterday, and my paperwork was piled sky-high. Neither of those has shown any significant improvement. But nothing terribly bad happened, either, and though my darling daughter has had another small relapse or two, she is overall very much better, a fact for which we are very thankful, even though we still don't know what ails her.

Just to top off the bad-ness of the summer, shortly after I came home my internet went on strike. Two weeks later, I am still internet-less, on begged and borrowed computer time, and really, no relief on the horizon that I can see. Trivial in the big scheme of things, I know, but how frustrated do I want to be. Technology is wonderful. When it works, but, alas.... And now I am ashamed to even include this little irritation in my bad summer, because the hits just kept on coming.

More Bad Summer: Two days later we had word that our little 3-year-old friend died suddenly. Her grandmother and I were homeschooling moms together about a hundred years ago, when our children were young. A lot of things can happen in 25 years, and what happened was that our children grew up and became parents themselves. This little girl suffered some major injuries at birth, and her life was severely compromised. She was blind, and at the age of 3 still did not sit up or even hold her own head up. We always knew that "someday" this would happen, but we had no way to know that it would be as simple and sudden, and shocking, as a cold when she was visiting her other grandmother in Florida with her family. I am once again acutely confronted with mortality in a place you don't usually find it.

Yet more of a Bad Summer: My daughter's precious mother-in-law, so selfless and generous all summer long with her time and her resources, has been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. All the more unbelievable because she was perfectly fine until only five days before, but since then, every day she is visibly worse than the day before.

What could possibly measure up to a summer that set out to be so promising? Well, as it turned out, maybe nothing. Maybe nothing at all. Maybe what trumps everything is the uneventful, everyday, ordinary day.