Category Archives: Outings

Whine and Dine

Commission sales get ugly when foot traffic is slow. Grown adults edge each other out to stand near the door. Sleek smiles mask desperate intent. Kind faces morph quickly to mean ones. The quarry is all, and it’s in short supply.

A new salesperson, in this situation, is always resented. It’s rarely shown overtly. As I have more than once been on the “giving” end of such resentment, however, I know it is there. I am the new wrench in the works, my very presence taking sales away from other clerks. And this leads to a dilemma. If I lay back I will be better liked, but will not make my sales plan. If I sidle forward  faster than my peers and snare the man walking in the door I may make a sale. But I am painting a target on my back. In Tiffany blue, perhaps. But a target nonetheless.

Such is the way of high-end retail sales. My co-workers and I display grace, kindness, and prowess, much of it real, to the clients we help. Beneath these, however, co-exist thick veins of fear, spite, and competitiveness. Each sale made by another is a blow to our chances. You win? I lose. The system is rigged for ill-will.

My advice? Whenever you meet a salesperson who is working on commission, know one thing up front. They are lying. Or call it acting, if you prefer. I don’t care how sincere they seem. No matter how genuinely they furrow their brows when you tell them of your troubles, how brightly they smile at your recent promotion, or how assiduously they offer you water or tea. They are plotting the whole time. They’re out to get you. You are a meal ticket. You are prey. To even the best, even the kindest of them. They cannot help it.

This is the world I have rejoined. A far cry from the playground, one might say.

In the midst of this, for lunch, come MJ and Mike. I have asked them to make the trip, after a heartbreaking parting this morning. Suddenly, here is humanity again. My co-workers smile at the presence of my kid, her exuberant squeals of delight at the “fancy things,” her shy grins at the security guards, her red lemonade, (“it has cucumber!”), her skipping gait across the pale carpeted floor. Isn’t it nice? We’re all a family here, right?

My actual family and I retire to the back, and for an hour I am a mom again. Myra-Jean has been to the Natural History Museum, and brings a new matching game with a bug theme. It is multi-pieced and impossible; we play it happily on the small break-room table, amidst piles of old newspapers and leftover chips.

“I like your nice kitchen,” MJ says to no one in particular. She’s nuts. The place is a dive. But whatever.

“Thanks, honey. You can have lunch with me here any time you want.” It isn’t true, of course. This will probably never happen again. School will start, and anyway, Pasadena is a hike from where we live. But I can say it. After all, I am a salesperson. I can sell a bit of hope.

When we are done eating I tell MJ it is time for me to clock back in. She looks at me, uncomprehendingly. “What’s clock?”

“I have to go back to work.”

“But you’re coming home.”

I twist my lips regretfully. “I can’t.”

The effect is immediate. Her smile reverses itself,  cheeks flush, and tears begin to flow. Loud ones. Lots of them. My manager, making copies nearby, looks over briefly, then turns away. She’s a mom. She’s not mad. Still, this is less than ideal, and we both know it.

“I want to stay with you!” Myra-Jean screams.

Commanding myself not to cry, I attempt silliness. “But you can’t work here! You’re too little!”

The joke is a flop. This is getting bad. There are about to be two of us in total meltdown, and one of us will not improve her performance evaluation in the process.

Under my breath I mutter to Mike “You’ve got to get her out of here.”

He nods. He knows. He probably saw before he came here that this was exactly how it would end. Me and my brilliant ideas. “Take your daughter to work day.” And fully traumatize her. Nice.

We rush MJ to the front door as I try to distract her with my face, my keys, the “magic flowers” on the countertops, anything I can think of. Her cries grow louder, sailing over the heads of shoppers and workers like little kiddie drones. Duck!

To make matters worse, small bits of tortilla chip, which MJ had started chewing right before I’d broken the bad news, drip from her weepy mouth. They’re going everywhere. They’ll ruin the rug.

“Get her outside,” I whisper urgently to Mike, then turn to the security guard: “Sorry.” I gesture to the floor, which looks like a taqueria.  “I’ll clean it up in a second.” He looks down politely, then shakes his head. It’s fine. Just get your banshee kid out of here. Please.

The last I saw of MJ– through the big glass doors–she was attempting to hurl herself out of Mike’s arms, reaching her hands back towards me, tears sheeting her face. “Goodbye, Mama!” she keened. “Goodbye.”

And then they were gone.

For a moment I stood there. Holding. Holding. Then, stooping over carefully, I picked up my daughter’s chips where they lay, damp and listless, in the entranceway below. Slowly I rose, cleared my throat, and walked, head down, towards the back. Punching in my code, I barged the door open and fled to the break room. And breathed. And breathed. And did. Not. Cry.

Walking to the table, I picked up my daughter’s lemonade, now sweaty, pale, and nearly empty. Lifting it grimly, I took the last sip. No cucumber. Sigh.

As I turned to go back to the sales floor a co-worked entered and breezed past me. “Your daughter is so cute,” she said over her shoulder. Then she was off to the manager’s office. Probably celebrating her latest sale. Asshole.

“Thanks,” I said after her, forcing a smile.

Then, tossing MJ’s leftovers into the trash, I headed out to the floor. Four more hours to go.

Let the show begin.

Hired and Tired

Saturday morning I said goodbye to Mike and MJ, left the house in my new black suit, and drove to Pasadena to work the counters of high-end retail. It’s a job I did for years before MJ was born. Although I excelled at it, and my company treated me kindly, I swore never to return. Mostly it’s the dress code. I abhor hose. But it’s also the whole rich people thing. And the chain store thing. And the mean-spirited nature of for-commission sales. And the long hours. And the–OK, I could go on. But I won’t. Suffice it to say that, a year after my daughter was born, I gave all of my suits to Goodwill.

“No matter what work I go back to someday,” I told myself confidently, “it won’t be that. Plus, I’ll never be a size zero again.”

It turns out only the latter was true. Now I have to buy all new suits. In a larger size, of course.

Because I am back. Three days a week. That’s what will get me benefits, and right now we need them badly. A fact that hasn’t stopped me from feeling pretty sorry for myself.

It’s not that I mind working, per se. Like most of us, I’ve done it my entire adult life. I do, however, long for work that utilizes my brain, creativity, and twisted, occasional wit. But I still don’t know what that work is. Funnily, being a stay-at-home mom is the closest I’ve come.

It’s the hours of this job that are the hardest. When I say goodbye to MJ in the morning, now, it is for the day. I don’t get home until nearly eight, at which point she is asleep.  I’m losing, then, nearly half of my time with her. For someone who has been with her nearly every moment of her life, this is no small thing.

And I knew it would be tough.

But the pain of it, on that first day, surprised even me.

I was fine during the day. Lunchtime, with its quiet break room, almond butter sandwich, and buzzing fluorescent lights, was melancholy, but otherwise I stayed busy. “I’m OK,” I told myself. “I’m doing this.”

It was when I got in the car to drive home that things fell apart. I didn’t see it coming, either. It was like one of those stomach flus that arrive out of nowhere–one moment you’re fine and the next you’re heaving into your Crate and Barrel waste basket.

There I was, leaving the parking garage, fuming to myself about their $7 charge. “Rip off,” I muttered. “What’s the point of even working?” I pulled out into Pasadena traffic. Made a left on Green Street. Stopped for some pedestrians. I dialed Mike on the cell phone–perhaps I could at least speak to MJ before she went down. No answer. Dropping my phone dejectedly in the cupholder I looked up. There was a group of women  in the crosswalk. All were blonde and snugly dressed, but of disparate ages. Maybe they were related. It was hard to tell, because all five of them were sporting huge quantities of plastic surgery. One of them, with lips like tire rubbers and a face like pale jeggings, let her gaze drop on me. Mostly in a “you are going to stop, aren’t you?” way.

Our eyes met. It’s then that I started sobbing.

Each of her companions, now, turned to gaze at me–five exotic gazelles scanning the urban tundra. One cocked her head as she stared. “She’s doing something weird with her mouth,” her face seemed to say.

It was all I could do not to shout “so are you!”

But I didn’t. I was too busy crying.

I cried all through busy Pasadena. I cried on the freeway ramp. I cried down the 134, and onto the 2. I cried, smudging rivers off of my face, as I drove into Mt. Washington. I sobbed as I passed the spot where I got my ticket. (I also stopped, of course. I was upset, not stupid.)

When I got home I cried at Mike for a good long while. Then I peeled off my work clothes, dropping them carelessly on the wooden arm of a chair, and trudged, in my underwear, into MJ’s room.

Out like a light, as she should be.

Kneeling by her bed, I stroked her hair, adjusted her covers, and wiped my face on her stuffed animals. Snuff, snuff. It was a pathetic picture. Especially because I was wearing a garment–recently acquired at Target–that can only be described as a Granny thong. I got it for yoga. Which, I wept to myself as I gazed down at my garb, I would never do again now that I work.

And so it goes. It wasn’t until I had written a self-pitying epistle of great length and emotionality to a friend of mine that I was snapped out of my spell. She is in Brazil right now, and wrote back, via e-mail, quite immediately:

“You need to grow up a little about this,” she started. She went on to remind me of my good fortune in landing this particular job. “Maybe it’s just that I’m in a poor country, the backs of people being broken by inflation and NO jobs.  A job to support their families?  People would kill for that.”

And I know she’s right.  I’m going to get grateful. In a few days. For now, though? I am an emotional wreck with one wrinkled suit, another shift to work tomorrow, and a daughter I can’t stop kissing.

The good news? She’s fully potty trained. At last. It happened just this week, seemingly out of the blue. Maybe she’s more ready for this change than I know. Whatever the case, I’m glad I won’t have to teach any new caregivers the “drip catcher” technique.

Thank God for small favors.

And good benefits.

And the resilience of humans everywhere.

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Heya Culpa

Remind me next time not to fight the ticket.

I sit in traffic court, waiting to be called by the clerk so I can change my plea to “Guilty.” My cop is here–so much for the notion, widely dispelled, that “they never show”–and if I fight him now and lose–which I will, because I did it–I’ll forfeit my right to go to traffic school. So this entire enterprise has been a colossal, Kafkaesque waste of time. After eight hours of sitting in various seedy city courtrooms, staring at blue tiled floors and watching municipal employees chat each other up over styrofoam cups, I am going to have to pay the damn ticket. It’s so annoying. One more futile attempt to beat the system. I’m an ass. An ass with an empty stomach. And an ass nearly four hundred dollars the poorer.

Makes the notion of going back to work seem, if not more palatable, at least more necessary. Which is good, because I start, part-time, tomorrow.

Vacation is officially over. Life is back in session.

As for court? It never stopped.

Beach of Contract

I return to you sheepishly—the world’s worst travel blogger. It’s a designation I’m not proud of. I don’t know what happened—last year I wrote faithfully every day of my trip. This year? I didn’t want to blog about being away. I wanted to be away.

So I was. And then I felt guilty about it. That would be me in a nutshell.

Anyway. To partially assuage my guilt, here’s a whirlwind tour of some of the things I missed describing:

I did not write about my sister’s wedding. Not the 24-hour stomach flu MJ did, in the end, get the day before, nor the lovely, albeit blink-brief ceremony the day of. I didn’t write about the Deet I accidentally sprayed in my eyes at the reception, (or my subsequent eye-rinse with a nearby bottle of Pellegrino). I posted not one picture of my spectacular sister in her vintage pink gown, or her broad-grinned, big-hearted groom. But they were there, and so was I. And it was good.

A few days later I didn’t describe our harrowing car ride up to Massachusetts with five people, twenty bags, and one completely incontinent dog.

And then there was the Vineyard. Nothing written there. But oh, what I could have said. About MJ’s brass ring win at the Flying Horses Carousel. About long, guilty pleasure days at our hosts’ private beach. About fried scallops, extended outdoor showers, the Wolf range in our guest house, which I coveted painfully. About my book: “The Tiger,” which depressed and inspired me at once. About the dearth of ticks but the plethora of stinging jellyfish. (There’s always something.) About the live horseshoe crab a kid found at our beach, and MJ’s delight at same. The aforementioned species, it turns out, is five hundred million years old. Try explaining that number to a three-year-old.

Then on to Nova Scotia, land of vivid blues and barn-side reds. No writing here. None at all. But much biking. And crossword puzzling. And drinking of tea. And reading of a hardcover book called “Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms.” Nonfiction. Inspired by recent sighting. Dense, but I enjoy it. More beaches–this time public, but no less lovely. Constant sunscreen. A cave walk at the Ovens. Lobster risotto. Mosquitos abound, but less so than in summers past. There are countless spiders, though. An absurd number. Like arachnid wallpaper. I kill fewer this year. My attitude has softened. The enemy of my enemy, and all of that.

These Maritime days, although long, fly by. There is only one small drama: towards the end of our stay I hire a local boy to watch MJ. He is twelve. While she sleeps—which she does the whole time–he uses my laptop to view porn. The real stuff. Featuring all major body parts. And some minor. Fortunately I have a sense of humor. And a damp cloth. Plus, MJ and I are headed home.

And thus is a vacation spent. Failing as a blogger. And possibly as a mother. But succeeding, somewhat, at the task of relaxing. Except when I wasn’t.

Now that our plane heads home I will prepare to shed my lazy ways again. First order of business? Finish this post.

Second? Write another one tomorrow.

Third? Figure out how to set parental controls on my MacBook. Vacation will come again. This laptop will go with me.  And cheap sitters are hard to come by.

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Bugged Out

Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long. We were packing, flying, getting settled in…

“Oh,” you say. “Bravo! They didn’t get sick after all!”

Not so fast, optimistic readers. We did get sick. Today.

For God, capricious trickster that he is, needed us to get across country, spend one day with our family–thereby, assumedly, infecting them all, like Typhoid Marys in fancy dress–and only then did he lay us low. Or lowish. I must confess, I’m mostly just tired. Myra-Jean, however, threw up all morning. But now she’s out back playing with Mike. Kids. The resiliency is incredible. Also? Puking is easier for them. They do it, but they don’t seem put out by it the way we adults do. There’s a certain nonchalance.  I guess life is so filled with outrageous surprises for them that this is just one more. “Oh. Now my liquidated stomach contents are shooting out of my mouth into a mixing bowl. Maybe after I can go to the park.”

On another, perhaps even more disturbing  note: In the one day we spent in New Jersey I got two ticks on me. On my leg and  on my foot. I was wearing jeans, for fuck’s sake! And every conceivable kind of bug spray, from the homemade stuff my mom’s friend made–just for the wedding!–using sun-steeped teas of oregano, basil, and geranium, to the DEET-based it’s-so-toxic-that-you-should-throw-your-clothes-away-after kind. Guess what? It’s all bullshit. The ticks are coming, and there’s nothing anything in a squirt-bottle can do about it.

It’s depressing.

At least it looks like we’ll be better for the wedding. In this sense, at least, the bugs haven’t completely won out. We’ll be there with bells on.

And oregano. And DEET. And tweezers.

Still–paranoia be damned–we’ll have a beautiful day.

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The pill bottle in the background–which I captured by accident–is my mom’s antibiotic prescription. For acute Lyme’s.

One Flu Over the Mockingbird’s Nest

We make plans–the old saying goes–and God laughs. Well, he’s chuckling up a storm right now.

We’re supposed to be leaving for New York tomorrow. On the first leg of our epic tour. Stop one: my sister’s wedding. It’s on Saturday, in New Jersey. Remember? I’ve been worrying about the ticks?

But here’s a bug I never thought to worry about: the stomach flu.

Yes way. Mike just came down with it. I am listening to him vomit as we speak–he’s in the bathroom thirty feet from here. Don’t chide. I feel terribly for him. But what can I do? A grown man doesn’t need someone to hold his hair back. All I can do is bring him ginger ale. Which he will summarily expel anyway. It’s awful. A few minutes ago he said, “now I know how people on chemotherapy feel.” Why is everyone in this house obssessed with cancer? It’s downright ghoulish.

I don’t know what we’re going to do if he’s not better by tomorrow. Or, even worse, if I get sick. Or Myra-Jean does. It’s one thing for Mike to miss my sister’s big day. But for me to? That’s a whole different level of industrial-sized suckiness. And God forbid Myra-Jean does. That would be the worst. She’s supposed to be the flower girl. She’s been preparing for months, even writing a song for the occasion called “Pop like a Poppy.” It consists of two or three flower references and then the words “garden claw garden claw garden claw” in rapid succession. She plans on performing both it and “Space Oddity” at the end of the service. She won’t, of course. Instead, she’ll end up hiding behind my skirt the whole way down the aisle, but she’s got to dream, right? So let her! Please, God, cruel trickster, don’t give her the grippe right before the big event. She’ll be crushed. Like a poppy. Or some other fragile-stemmed bud.

Me? I’m basically sitting here waiting to get sick. It could come on any time. I’m trying to distract myself. I’m thinking, for example, of the day I just spent at traffic court. Remember the rolling-stop-sign citation? I went in finally. What a bust. Here I thought I was going to get my “To Kill A Mockingbird” moment. Instead, I got ten thousand other, totally banal ones, all of them spent waiting in line. You should have seen the queue outside the courthouse alone. Those metal detectors work double duty. Too bad they’re still so slow.

Or maybe it’s just that there were so many people there! In trouble for the stupidest things! This wasn’t the building for criminal cases, mind you. Only for jackasses like me. Did you know you can get a $330 ticket for throwing a lit cigarette out of your car? I mean, look. I hate littering as much as the next person. Actually, more. I’m that lady, after all, who’ll walk up to you and say “Um, did you need a bag for your dog’s poop? I have extras.” It’s amazing I haven’t been shot. By someone from the other courthouse, that is.

I still think $330 is draconian.

And jaywalking. It’s still a thing. Can you believe it? When those cases came up I found myself rooting urgently for the defendants. “Fight it. Fight it,” I muttered under my breath. Until the guy next to me, who was reading an AA book in Spanish, looked over at me like I was nuts.

“It’s just stupid, is all,” I said, shrugging.

He smiled uncertainly.

“Never mind,” I sighed. “Good for you for getting sober.”

Man, was his fine high.

Anyway. I’d take ten jaywalker tickets, five summons for tinted windows, and at least one littering citation if I thought it would keep me from missing Abigail’s wedding. So if there are Gods out there, I’m asking them now, please, quash the bug. All of them, if possible. Make my immune system strong, like bull. MJ’s, too.

As for Mike? It’s too late for that. But if he could be better by 4:08 PM tomorrow I’d be incredibly grateful.

What? I’m asking for a miracle?

Guilty, your honor. Yes, I’ll see the cashier right away. But–may it please the court–may I be assigned community service? Preferably in New Jersey? Sometime this weekend would be great.

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Throwing the Book At It

It’s hard to write when you’re flooded with anxiety. Or even wading clumsily through a couple inches of it. If only there was some kind of pump. A mental wet-vac. A mop. Because let me tell you, insurance doesn’t cover it, and to say it’s messy is an understatement.

And it’s not just me. The whole house is on edge. Mike and I, we have our reasons. Unemployment–Mike’s, at present–being a huge one. Money. Dwindling. Savings. Plummeting. Confidence. Tanking.

Get-rich-quick ideas. Burgeoning.

Having said that, I still haven’t sold my wedding dress, or even completed the listing. So much for my little schemes.

Meanwhile, we need new glasses for Mike, repairs for the car, a garbage disposal, school tuition, flea medication. It’s cliche to say that such expenses bloom when it’s least convenient. Such wisdom, however, adds small comfort.

Then there are the insects. Not those around now–although we are having a strange influx of moths, whose corpses are smeared, like little silvery ghosts, on every wall in the house–but future ones. We’ve finally booked our summer trip to parts east, and my anticipatory bug-a-phobia is in full swing. Instead of looking forward with grateful excitement to a journey with stops in New Jersey, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nova Scotia, all I can think is: Deer flies. Ticks. Mosquitos. Repeat. Deer flies. Ticks. Mosquitos. Repeat.

I’ve googled how to prevent Lyme’s disease. Then stayed up ’til midnight learning how incurable it is.

I know. I have to get a grip. People have real problems. These don’t qualify. Much.

Except then there’s the cholesterol. That’s real. I just got diagnosed with high levels. So, supplements have been ordered, milkfats lowered (just shoot me), and desserts basically eradicated. Cheese–my dear friend, confidante, and snack therapist–has been given the boot. We can stay friends, but never again will we sleep in the same bed. And this is something to grieve, as far as I’m concerned. Like, Elizabeth Kubler Ross–the whole thing. I’ve said forever that I wanted to be buried in a block of Cracker Barrel. But no more. Bury me now in a rough case of rice crackers. That’s about all I’ll be eating from this point forward.

So the food thing is a drag. And there’s that mid-life crisis I referred to earlier. It’s still bustling about, wiping both hands on its well-used apron and chuckling as it bustles about the kitchen. You should have heard it snicker when I checked out “Eat to Live” from the library. Cackle, more like it. Fucking asshole. Let it eat oatmeal with chia seeds for breakfast every day. See how peppy it feels.

Finally, there’s MJ. Her anxieties are flowering like peonies at Trader Joe’s. She is worried–continuously–about pooping in the potty. She fretted  when we told her we were going to San Francisco for the weekend, then cried when it was time to come home. She dreaded the fireworks last night. Until she saw them. Then she laughed and clapped her hands like a mental patient. But until that moment? You’d have thought we were dragging her off to a firing squad.

Speaking of which–and I digress–the Eastsider ran a piece today about how to tell the difference between the sounds of firecrackers and those of gunshots. “Oh, good,” I thought. “I’ve always wondered. Now I’ll know.”

Four experts later, the consensus was: there’s no way to tell.

This is life right now. It’ll improve. Or it won’t. Either way, we’ll walk through our fears, large and small, and learn that most of them are unfounded. What choice do we have? To lock ourselves in the house and never emerge, subsisting only on delivered Thai food and bottled water? I’ve considered it. But just think of all that BPA. Plus, Myra-Jean doesn’t like spices.

So out we go into the world, with its bugs, stigmatisms, and unidentifiable explosions.

Myra-Jean makes books when she’s anxious. I’ve talked about it before. This week she’s made four. Every time they’ve worked. She’s been immediately calmed, and able to proceed with whatever it was that was frightening her. It’s a magical tool, and fun, too. If only it were so simple for us grownups.

Maybe it is. Perhaps it’s time to make a few for myself. The first one will be called “Jessica does not want to end up on intravenous antibiotics after being bitten by a deer tick.” The next: “Jessica does not know how to enjoy a plant-based diet.”

From there? The list goes on. And on. And on. The drawings should be fun.

The feelings behind them are not.

An Apple (Tree) a Day

For a “Tree Adoption” it was a remarkably unshady event.

This was because the line we waited on to get our free sapling snaked through a large supermarket parking lot. And it was a long line, too. MJ and I arrived at around 9:45 AM and found about fifty people already there. Guess we’re not the only ones looking to fill out our family. And/or jump on free garden swag.

The sun was already hot, and, as I’ve said, shade was the one thing not available anywhere. Fortunately bottled water–given out by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez’s wife–was, and the supermarket itself had pretty much anything you could think of. Except for organic produce. I know this because the nice lady behind us held our spot while we went inside to buy an apple for MJ. Granny smith, as conventionally grown as it gets. Ah, well. Sometimes you’ve got to live on the wild side. I’ll give her a juice cleanse later. Wink.

There were several fruit tree types available for adoption–cherry, Asian pear, avocado–but we could choose only one. Influenced, perhaps, by her snack, MJ went for Gala apple. So, at about 11:15, we left with a four-foot sapling waving bravely out of our passenger-side window. My left shoulder was brutally sunburnt, and even the tree itself looked a little worse for having sat out in that heat, but I knew we would all be happier–and more hydrated–when we got home.

Mike looked a little concerned when we drove up. He’s been ambivalent, as you know, about this new addition to our family. His argument: we haven’t room. Our soil won’t sustain it. How will we put it through college? OK, maybe not the latter. Still, I knew that he would make a place in his heart–and our garden–for the young stray now dropping leaves on our cracked-up driveway.

It didn’t take long at all. By the time I was making lunch Mike had found a spot out back and was digging dutifully at the hard, rubbly soil. He grumbled some, sure, but in the end even he agreed that the tree would be a great addition to that currently sere and forbidding place, adding beauty, shade, and harmony to it. In ten years. But still.

A few hours down the line, it’s as if it has always been here. I can’t imagine life without it. It brings tears to my eyes to think we might have skipped out when we saw that crazy line.

As for the sunburn on my shoulder? A small price to pay. Apples ain’t cheap these days. Even the non-organic kind.

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Tree For Two

It’s not exactly a bun in the oven. But for us older ladies who crave a second child, it might have to do.

Assembly member Jimmy Gomez is having an event next week. I plan to attend. I can hardly wait. For there, I will finally get to grow my family. No, it’s not a fostering-a-kid thing, or a donor-egg workshop, or even a puppy rescue fair. After it is done I won’t qualify for congratulatory gifts, such as onesies, or hand-carved rattles, or even cute little dog bones in ribbon-wrapped packages.

A watering can, if anything, will be most appropriate. But I’ve already got three of them.

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It’s tree adoption day!

My goodness. I feel so nervous! What if it’s a bad fit? What if it doesn’t like us? Hates its new home? Fails completely to thrive? Will it be able to bond with us? Will I love it? Will my family? Will it loathe Myra-Jean, feel inferior to her? Will they fight?

Will the transplantation, in short, take?

I suppose there are books. On-line forums. Probably support groups. We will go. We will fight this battle together. We will become one family. One unit. One orchard, as it were, in the great green swath that is humanity.

Do I care what kind I get? Not at all–as long as it’s healthy. Sure, I’d prefer something attractive. Fruit-bearing would be a bonus. Uninfested, if at all possible. But if all that’s available is the tiniest ficus, worm-bitten and root bound? We will love it anyway. We will accept it with open limbs. We will wrap our arms around its trunk and tell it it is home.

Imagine the little acorns I may someday get to bounce on my knee. Sob. Must stop writing for the tears.

Ahem.

Does anyone have a pickup truck we can borrow?

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Two Birds With One Scone

In, the end, of course, the class went fine. True, the birdhouses took up just fifteen minutes of the kids’ time–there’s only so much you can do to two square inches of cheap cardboard. Oh, they drew on them a bit, and glued a couple of pom poms on, but then they moved on to a box of Magna Tiles on the other side of the room. Who can blame them? None of them seriously believed that their completed piece would become the domicile of an actual bird. Even four-year-olds are smart enough to see that. I think it explains their lack of urgency.

Fortunately–because I didn’t have a lot of faith in the first project–I also brought in the ingredients to make scones. As well as my killer, super-secret, stolen-from-a-restaurant-I-used-to-work-at recipe. This part went great–in spite of the fact that I accidentally used wax paper instead of parchment in the oven, which should have been a disaster. In the end, though, you couldn’t taste it, especially after I’d helped the kids slather three pounds of jam on their pieces. Organic, of course.

Anyway, it was a great success. Almost every one of the kids asked to bring a second one home to eat later. Hope their parents keep a lot of preserves around.

Still, I think I should give them the recipe and encourage them to make those for their dads on Fathers Day.

As for the birdhouses? They’ll make great Christmas tree ornaments. Now that’s thinking ahead!

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