Friday, April 14


Driving home today, a good friend was out in her front yard. We slowed to a stop to greet Lucy. Then we invited her over for a play-date with Ellie. She looked like she really wanted to, and we were told she would be right over. Not more than 10 seconds after parking in our driveway, Lucy magically appeared smiling from ear to ear. We all ajourned to the back yard to sit in lawn chairs, sip cherry limeaide and watch our girls play with such reckless abandon it made us laugh out loud. When Ellie offered a fresh-picked grapefruit as a suitable toy, Lucy was not impressed. She obviously was more inclined to the old pork roast bone under the grapefruit tree - and settled down for a serious gnaw.

That pretty much was the end of play time. Ellie did a couple of half-hearted runs for us when I threw the rapidly deteriorating grapefruit for her to chase, and ultimately gave up and layed down in the grass next to her friend. I had to bring out more water for the water dish as they had both drained it completely.

When Lucy's Bill said the word "squirrel", she perked up and anxiously scanned the yard, ears shifting and her nose twitching. It was really cute. "Awh, she really loves to chase the squirrels up at the cabin," Bill said, finishing his drink. "Thanks for inviting Lucy over. She really had fun." He gave Ellie a parting scratch behind her ear as she wagged her tail. As he was leaving, he told us that after we drove away, all he had to do was tell Lucy, "Ellie!" and she took off down the street in a doggy bee-line for our house.

I was happy he mentioned that. There is something way too satisfying about learning you are so popular, or actually, that your dog is best friends with the neighbor's dog, and that she knew right where to find us from the single word cue, "Ellie".

Wednesday, April 12

Side-lining the BIG MARCH

My eye was drawn to the man running across the intersection at Camelback and 7th Avenue during rush hour this morning. He had the green light, but the fact that he was running in full neon orange vest and yellow helmet construction crew gear was kind of hard to miss. He was looking very intently at something ahead of him and to his left. I never even noticed the man who was out of his motorized wheelchair right next to me off the sidewalk until I followed running construction man's urgent line of vision as he crossed the street. The wheelchair was stuck in thick landscaping gravel, and the man's shriveled, twisted legs could barely hold him up as he tried to push his chair out. In my rear-view mirror, I could see the construction man reach the disabled guy and put a gloved hand gently on his shoulder as he probably began to say something like, "Hey, buddy, let me give you a hand..."

It was one of those things that you say to yourself, "Man! I'm glad I saw that!" I marveled at how a stuck wheelchair could have come to anyone's attention in a dusty light-rail construction site on the other side of four lanes of crazy Phoenix traffic. And, once the predicament was sighted, that a person would be prompted to physically respond and hurry to give assistance.

Yesterday, after the National Day of Action immigration march that drew an estimated 100,000 to down-town Phoenix, Alfredo Gutierrez - a former Arizona state senator, issued a short and hostile editorial in the Arizona Republic which threatend that his people would "take up arms" should current legislation "humiliate" them and "trample" their "rights". There is a good deal of political and social action brewing in town right now that did not get the same air-time as the emotional march Monday. Eventually we will hear more from those who resent the arrogance and gross intitlement exhibited by those who feel they are above the law and deserve all the priveleges of citizenship without the effort to earn it. Sentiments expressed at the all-day rally were loud, angry and bi-lingual.

In those 4 or 5 seconds in the far West South-bound lane of 7th Avenue as I passed the wheelchair scene at 40 mph, I noticed one more thing: the good samaritan was hispanic, and the other man was white.

I'm glad I saw that.

Sunday, April 9


Launching into the much easier imperfect tense after a devestating attempt on the preterite the month before, my Spanish 102 class laughed out loud when I answered the professor's question, "¿Qué cosas te gustaban hacer en tu joventud? ("What things did you like to do in your childhood?") I quickly responded (in Spanish) that I used to climb trees.

Now, the composition of our intimate class of 7 is this: everyone else is 20 yrs old (Oh, I forgot the 17 yr old) and I am not. They could all be my children. They like to appear very savey and sophisticated. They all had big plans for Spring Break and alcohol, and frequently go to Las Vegas with boyfriends - rolling their eyes that their parents are not happy about that - yet they fully belly-laughed when I said I liked to climb trees as a kid.

There's a lot to be said for gaining the perspective of a handy branch. I could see into Mrs. Leonard's backyard, and if I was especially daring, I could see Butch's house from my English Walnut perch. It was important to mentally size-up a tree where ever you were, as it could offer a potential day's climbing.

Seeing what was on top of our own roof was really cool, for some reason. The tennis balls and frisbees that were stranded up there stayed bleaching in the sun until the fall clean-up day when we could go on the roof with Papa and rake all the leaves off into a huge pile next to the garage. One by one he threw us off onto a trampoline. It was deliciously dangerous and the reckless bounce was so worth it. Even the kid next door - jealously watching us - was invited up and given a rake and an e-ticket dismount.

Being in squirrel and crow territory also had its merits. We were kin with the wild things. Imbedded in a leavy canopy we could spy on mom as she hung clothes on the line or supress laughter until we were dizzy from oxygen deprivation when she called for us and we didn't answer, or better yet, toss green walnuts down onto our little brothers and make them cry. It was a great irony when my older brother broke his arm, it wasn't during one of our aggressive tree-climbing expeditions, but while showing off for my mom & me on the swing set!

My class just thinks of me as the funny old lady. I think they must have suffered a very shallow childhood. Each one of them said they only played nintendo when they were little, and certainly never helped their dad with the yard work. Too bad.

Wednesday, April 5

Just Because China

It was just a passing thought, I think it hit me while I was vacuuming. I asked my husband, "Do you think they will have my everyday china on the internet?" He responded a little under his breath that he thought we could easily find out.

A few minutes later on the computer screen was a photograph of my everyday china dinner plate that I had selected for my bridal registry at "Diamond's" over 30 years ago! The pattern is called 'Berries 'n Such' by Noritake. I don't know why I was so surprised it was so beautiful - because I have been looking at it almost everyday for 30 years.

As a young newlywed I had taken a little cake over to my brother's house on one of those plates. It was a silly token for a married couple's get-together, it wasn't even a legitimate cake, it was something new called "Stir 'n Frost". It was so tiny in its own little disposable paper baking pan it could have qualified as the Easy-Bake graduate model. But I was a grown-up married lady and I wanted it to look nice, so I took it out of the little paper pan and placed it carefully on my lovely china plate.

The evening didn't go so sister-in-law can't play a game without cheating and she didn't even offer us a slice of the cake we had provided! Too embarrassed to mention it, we left without a taste and without my plate. Later, when I asked for my plate, she violently denied any knowledge of it. My pretty service for 8 was forever infamously reduced by 1.

When you have things because they were wedding gifts, you remember what happens to them and who gave them to you. The matching serving dishes given to me by Dr. Gibbons and his wife eventually were tragically chipped early. Four cereal bowls exited the scene one by one - utilized by anxious childish hands as water dishes for chickens in the back yard or some other equally china-at-risk endeavor. I lost 7 of my little cups all in one dramatic night - it's a dark memory. The 2 missing salad plates are mysteriously unaccounted for.

Today 2 large boxes arrived. Styrofoam static-charged 'peanuts' were never so appreciated! I slowly unpacked each of my replacement china pieces. They were beautiful. It was very emotional, this china. After 30 years you never know what will represent a marriage, a home, dreams and disappointments, a family gathered around the table.

For people who don't drink coffee, the little sugar and creamer were entirely impractical ~ but totally adorable. They, above all the other items, shouted "just because". I had actually purchased something I didn't really need just because I liked it. I should have had them all along.