But the Fighter Still Remains

My hands are full a lot these days. In the early nineties, one of my boyfriends tried for weeks to teach me how to juggle, but it was useless. I threw balls into the air, then got down on my hands and knees to find them under things. Eventually, I threw in the towel when it became obvious I would never master this excellent party trick. This was also the boyfriend who took me to parties where I didn’t share a language with anyone else and I’m truly shitty at charades, so an excellent party trick might’ve saved the relationship from quickly fizzling. Oh, who are we kidding? If the sex is good nobody has to say a word.

Speaking of speaking, yesterday, the sports doctor spoke to me in soothing words of a hip replacement wizard in New York who works on the broken joints of working ballet dancers. Most of the expected outcomes for hip surgery simply do not meet my expectations for me and the post-op restrictions seem impossibly strict. But what do I know? The calcification in my hip has set my spine off at an angle, causing me to wish I spent most of my time in bed, wearing marabou bed jackets and ranting about my close-up, though – seriously – I’ve got work to do. Gritting one’s teeth and getting on with getting about on bicycles while walking with a cane invites skepticism on the part of onlookers. You would not believe how often people who see me glide down the avenues on two wheels lose their shit when they get a glimpse of my cane. My back hurts. How is that your problem?

The sports doctor suggested I go back to physical therapy. In PT, I’d strengthen my abs, my back muscles and get painful massages; that’s okay. I’m working on that anyway and have two massage therapists on speed dial. To devote any more time to exercise daily, I’d have to be a professional athlete of some kind, since running off to Cirque du Soleil with a cane is obviously right out. Next step: installing a koi pond in a kiddee pool and taking up soothing tai chi in my spare time, which looks sillier when you realize I’ve been so busy touching my toes I let an entire cherry season slip past me without getting anything into a jar. My back hurts – but that stings.

I’ve Been Calling All Day

Outdoors is really just a giant terrarium, when you and your pepper plants think about it.

It’s Sunday, so here’s the garden. It’s got problems. It’s got issues. I am learning about square foot gardening at a rapid rate. For instance: four zucchini plants will not fit in any square foot gardening scheme, except possibly at the four corners, where they will be throwing spiny tantrums – and I know that. Why did I do this to my herbs and leafy greens? I don’t know. We suspect the deer are treating my fenced-in garden like a salad bar without a sneeze gaurd, but I can’t prove that without a trail of bacon bits. My neighbor came outside one morning and found a family of surly deer standing inside his fenced in garden, smoking menthols. The deer didn’t even run away. They stared at our neighbor, asked for directions to the convenience store and lumbered off. So maybe that’s why my eggplants are leafless.

One thing you can see clearly is plants that survived the groundhog rampages are doing well. Sort of. They’re doing a lot of something but it’s hard to tell what, exactly. It may turn out that we need six-foot fencing, which may not help with future groundhog problems. We’ve had this conversation often recently.

Us: We have a groundhog. Ate half our garden.
Helpful person: You should shoot him!
Us: If we drew a gun in our backyard the police would be on our roof in a matter of minutes.
Helpful person: Well, that’s what I’d do.
Us: We’ll visit you in jail!

Basil germinating in two window boxes is almost ready to move out of the greenhouse. Pesto: here we come.

They Were Calling It Your Cocktail Dress

Last night, Pete and I watched as the State Assembly fucked over 1 in 7 New Jersey residents by gutting public workers’ pensions and cranking up the heat on health insurances. The “debate” was broadcast on NJN, our state’s PBS station as I understand it because a vote was due later on whether or not the legislature would allow Governor Christie to sell NJN to WNET, a New York station. The specifics of that perplex me because I thought WNET came out of Newark, but I might be wrong about that part; suffice it to say the NJN people looked nervous on-air. Anyhoo, many members of the assembly cannot count public speaking as one of their magical powers and most speeches were incoherent. Some were better, heartfelt and distraught. Some made no fucking sense whatsoever as blue collar Democrats from urban areas struggled to explain why fucking over poor and middle class people was the right thing to do. One speaker from Camden couldn’t even finish a sentence without contradicting himself, so great was his cognitive dissonance. But this motherfucker took the motherfucking cake:

If this guy offers to "help" you, feel around for the knife in your back.

That’s Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald, Democrat of the 6th District (Hamilton). He was the sponsor of the bill joining Republican union busting and Democratic need to please father figures by punishing women and minorities. Here is his statement, which he read to the assembly almost verbatim. We’ll get to that almost in a minute. Can I get a witness?

New Jersey’s economic reality cannot be ignored.

“As of the July 20, 2010 report from the Division of Pensions and Benefits, the post retirement health benefit deficit was $66.8 billion. On the pension side, the combined unfunded liability as of June 30, 2010 was $53.8 billion.

“These are real numbers that play a large role in our property tax problem, and these numbers are reality because for decades people from both parties failed to do the right thing to keep these systems strong for our public employees.

“As difficult as this is to ask people in this economy to pay more, this legislation will finally fix the fragility of this system.

“This bill will bring property tax relief, make benefits sustainable for the working families who rely on them and preserve collective bargaining for future negotiations. This protects both taxpayers and worker rights.

“It’s now our responsibility to safeguard these systems and make sure the problems that led to this legislation never happen again. That is our obligation and commitment to New Jersey property taxpayers and public servants.”

Yes, all that extra punctuation should go to a good home, but not mine: I have cats and a groundhog to feed, what with that GINORMOUS pay cut coming my way, courtesy of Louis Greenwald and other quisling Dems. I was discussing it this morning with Siobhan.

Tata: It was absolute torture to watch the speeches on the assembly floor. Many of those people should not have skipped public speaking – or any kind of speaking – classes in high school. Greenwald was particularly odious for his repeated claim that he was saving the pension system and benefits by gutting them. But what signaled to me that he is slime was when he turned to the gallery and said to the unions in an overly emotional manner, “This is not your fault.” Because I heard, “Baby, why did you make me do that to you?”

Siobhan: But he was saying “Baby, it’s not your fault that I have to hit you, but you have to take it.” That’s such a different torture and belittling technique, because, see, it’s not his fault and it’s not yours, it just has to happen!

It is my fond hope that Democrats up for re-election call my house for votes and support, because I will happily explain why they will get neither. Further, I hope working people help Greenwald seek other employment opportunities in November, since he is a vile substitute for a human being who should be shunned by decent people for what he has done.

You Married A Music

Pete’s ranting and Sweetpea’s bathing her right shoulder. Pete’s brother’s gone – as they say – round the twist, leading to a blizzard of phone calls and dumb assertions. So long as all parties are at least 300 miles from one another, bruised feelings are the worst of it. They get off easy. Three of my sisters, my aunt, mother and I live within 20 miles of one another. Every week no one throws a phone through a picture window is a victory.

On Friday, I bought a case of blueberries and over the weekend jarred blueberry pie filling. Since I had jars, pots, sugar, spices and lemon juice, it was breathtakingly easy to clean and simmer blueberries, heat the jars, fill them and process. The hardest job was cleaning up blue drippings and splatters everywhere. Next thing I knew, seven quart jars lined up on my bamboo cutting board and I stared at them, asking, “What the hell just happened?” I am aware that none of this flushness with successosity will matter in the least if the lids pop off and the blueberries turn a furry boys-bathroom-blue. That could happen, probably right about the time I decide I know what I’m doing, with predictably disastrous results. Won’t that be fun?

This morning, flood waters are rising in Minot, North Dakota, where Miss Sasha’s husband Mr. Sasha is stationed. Emotions are running high. On Facebook, Miss Sasha reported, “Our newscasters are crying.” Pictures are both grim and perplexing. See?

Thousands flee flood in Minot, N.D.

Hoo boy. Or look here. There’s a picture for you. Miss Sasha, whose been preparing food for the people filling sand bags, recommends donations to the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross. You can contact them here. It’s very difficult to be helpful at a distance. If you’re of a mind to help critters, here’s the animal shelter.

I Love In You And I Love In Me

Somewhere, a little girl is plotting revenge.

Friday, when I left the library, I stood in sunlight at the bike rack. About half a mile later, the sky opened and I ducked into an alcove near the art library and threw on my rain gear. I am a genius, with the rain gear! I’m so smart, I waited a minute or two for the lightning to seem further away, then I climbed on my bike and promptly vaulted into an inconveniently placed flower bed when my rear tire got hooked on something invisible. I landed on my right shin and felt the impact reverberate through my hip. I had two thoughts in rapid succession:

1. I might really be injured here; and
2. Could the light please change so witnesses could go somewhere else and laugh?

So now I’m a plastic-wrapped grandmother in a row of geraniums and a pelting rain, hoping witnesses don’t crash their cars and further delay my arrival at the farmers market. I got up in a series of dumb maneuvers that would embarrass every dance teacher I ever studied with and walked my bicycle to the corner and crossed the street. I waited for the light to change and crossed another street. Then I sailed down a long hill with draining water spitting in my face and knew I was actually okay.

Faster Than My Bullet

Sean’s been playing these two songs on Altrok Radio. I listen to Altrok all day at work and mostly pay attention to my work. Now and then, a song grows on me like a thing that – uh – grows a lot. I recognize this has happened when I stop what I’m doing to find out artists and titles. This week, I was surprised to like two songs like things I really – uh – like a lot.

The video does this dark, perky song no favors. The boys do nothing for me. The song, though, is fresh and interesting, yet recalls the underground New Wave stuff of about 1983. Also good: when I looked up the lyrics – because I have a short attention span – I knew instantly middle aged people would find themselves humming this in dentists’ office without the slightest hint of what it was about and that is ACES.

This song is more complex, for one thing: you have little more than your imagination to work with, but please do give it a try:

I looked up the lyrics because – right – no attention span. It’s about the breakup so bad you know you might die. In classical dream imagery, losing one’s teeth is dreaming one’s death; the writer knows that. Points for smarts! Where else does this song score? Points for reminding us of Joan Armatrading; points for those high, clear piano notes reminiscent of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy; points for surviving long enough to record a decent pop song! The trying trying trying phrases sound like the tortured fever dream songs out of London in the early eighties, so once again: middle aged people will be humming in dentist offices without a clue. I love surprises.