Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Recap!

Here we go. I said as part of my goal setting for 2019 I was going to do a monthly recap to make sure I'm on track. Here is the monthly recap so BOOM! on track with this one!  (You know my method is to build in easy stars to keep yourself motivated.)

So reading, according to Goodreads I have read 6 of 80 books and I am "on track." So there it is again! On Track! Yay! How about the subgoal of getting in the next 15 Discworld books? I've read one of those and am waiting (not so patiently) for the next one to come available. I've been #1 on 1 hold for awhile now. I've got the next one in my hold queue as well and as soon as this one comes available I'll put the next next one on hold as well. I think that is what is going to be my trickiest part, getting them in time. But if all else fails I'll buy the ones I need RIGHT NOW.

Okay so as I typed that last paragraph I convinced myself to go put Men at Arms on hold now but suspend the hold for a bit so it still puts me moving forward in the line but I don't end up with it before I get book #13 and #14. I'll get the timing figured out before the year is over I'm sure.

Writing! With this recap (sneaky me, a recap counts as a blog) I will have written 18 blogs this month which puts me 4 ahead of where I need to be. There is that #4 again. It's a theme. Kind of. I wrote 8 short stories this month and that puts me 3.72 stories ahead for that goal. So four by rounding? I'll take it.

Monthly Museum/Attraction! This month we went to OMSI and saw their King Tut exhibit. It was interesting. Brent didn't care for it because it was all recreations of things so no actual artifacts and we both agreed that it was more about the archeologist who discovered the tomb than it was about King Tut. I also was in an odd mood, I guess, because I felt kind of odd about the whole thing. There was a whole presentation about how fortunate we are to see all of this because most tombs were raided by grave robbers long before archeologists got there. All I could think was what is the difference between a grave robber and an archeologist? I mean the guy that found the tomb was paid by someone else to look, but the rich guy footing the bills then got all of the things that were in the tomb.

I also was really bothered by the thought of poor King Tut enjoying his afterlife (because all of the things that were needed to prepare him were undisturbed) for ages and then suddenly WHOOSH! he is sucked away as his tomb is opened and all of his things are taken out. Solid chance that will be part of a short story of some sort.

But it was interesting...

Fitness/Weight! We did dry January. It was also interesting. I was drinking more than I realized. Still not a lot, mind you. I still only drink one drink at a shot. But I was probably up to 3 or 4 a week instead of 1 a week. I will have to keep an eye on that. Not next month, but starting in March. Revamped my workout and it was okay, revamped it again for February so we will see how that goes. But still hitting the gym around 5 days a week. Holidays are days off so we missed New Year's Day and MLK day but other than that we were there. Ended up losing that extra 3 pounds that showed up during Fuck It It's December and an extra 1.6 pounds as well. So that's nice.

Long term...Guys, I painted the living room. Seriously. It's all painted and it looks really nice. Even if I painted it once, hated the color then painted it again. Kind of fitting, actually, since it took me so long to get around to doing the job that I did it twice. 

What else...Oh the MasterClass I took the one by Malcolm Gladwell this month and it was really interesting. I thought for a bit I had screwed myself with that one. Because of the repairs in the basement and painting the living room I had pushed off starting the MasterClass only to discover there were 24 (!) lectures in the series. Thankfully they were short so I did multiples in a day and got through it all. I also didn't do the worksheets and homework. I might do that with some, but I'm really here for the lectures. 

So February.

It's a good thing I got ahead on things in January. February is a short month and we are spending 10 days of it on vacation. So...I don't expect I'll be ahead with writing next month, though my real goal for February is to find someplace to submit work in March so I can be on track with four submissions for the year. I also am hoping to end up February flat as far as weight gain/loss goes. We will not be dry, in fact vacation is about the only time I drink more than one drink in a day and I don't see that changing this time. Love those Mai Tais with no place to be. 

I also want to pick a couch for the basement. I want to move that project along now that it's all repaired and painted up. I just have to decide what kind of couch I want. That should be easy right...(pay no attention to the YEARS it took to get the living room couch and the EIGHT MONTHS I've been thinking about this couch).

There you go. Accountability post on the books.

I hope your year and your goals are going the way you want them to go. And if they aren't I hope you get the chance to change them. Remember, they are YOUR goals, you get to change what isn't working for you. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part Eight...

The summer she turned 20 she went to visit her aunts without her parents but with her roommates from college. They had decided to spend time with each other's families before school started again. They thought it would be fun to see where they all called home. Stacy had brought them to her house and they had met her parents but she felt that they wouldn't really know where she was from unless she brought them here.

They had spent a week at the birthday cake house and were comfortable enough to explore on their own. Stacy was on one of the platforms, which was under construction again looking at the changes her Aunt Bets had started, that she wouldn't complete until Fall. "What is she building?" She asked her Aunt Perry.

"What does it look like to you?"

"Well, this side looks like an extension of the garden, but the other looks like framing for another room."

"That's as good a guess as any."

"Does it ever bother you that you don't know what she's adding until it's finished?"

Aunt Perry shook her head, "No. She's made plenty of additions that were requested. The library was for me. The observatory was for Gloria. She builds what we need, what we want, and what amuses her. I think it's a good compromise. So tell me how your friends are settling in."

Stacy walked with her aunt back toward the main garden area and sat down in one of the swings. "I think they really like it here."

"Was that important to you?"

Stacy nodded. "It was. I know it probably shouldn't have been. I mean, they never really have to come here again. But I wanted them to..." she trailed off.


"It sounds bad."

"Why don't you let me be the judge of that."

"I wanted them to be who I thought they were. Does that make sense?"

"Who did you think they were?"

Stacy sighed, it was hard to explain. "I thought they were who they are. I know that's really circular but it's the only way I can explain it. So, okay, freshman year Jaelyn and I were roommates with another girl, Gaby. Gaby was great but she was not someone I would ever bring here to visit. She wouldn't have understood what I was sharing. When Gaby moved out at the semester and Alicia moved in it was like a puzzle piece just clicked in place. The picture might be really different, but we all fit."

Aunt Perry nodded, "And what about Mitchell?"

Stacy actually blushed a little here. "I knew Mitchell would love this place before I ever asked him to come here."

"Because he loves you?"

Stacy nodded, "Yes. I know we are way too young and..."

"Who says you are way too young?"

"Well everyone. My parents."

"Your parents or everyone? Because your parents are only two people."

"Okay, a lot of people. But, Aunt Perry, I already know. I've known since we met. I mean, I didn't know know. I knew he was always going to be a friend, but now I know, you know?"

"I know." Aunt Perry reached out and held her hand and they began to swing.

In the quiet they could hear Jaelyn walking with Aunt Bets around the outside of the house. Jaelyn was studying to be an architect and the house was endlessly fascinating to her.

"But it really shouldn't be able to stand." Up above them on the garden level, Stacy and Aunt Perry exchanged a look and a smile. It was the same thing her father used to always say but in a much different tone. It was wonder instead of accusation.

"It does stand though. It's sound."

Years later when people would write stories about the spaces and buildings that Jaelyn designed they always mentioned her "touch of whimsy" her "unique and bold choices" and her "ability to make a building seem like more than just a building." She always gave credit to Aunt Bets and the advice she had given her, "Never let should or shouldn't get in the way of does." People would nod like they understood, but only a handful ever really did.

At that moment Alicia was in the kitchen with Aunt Gloria. That's where she had spent most of her time. Alicia wanted to own a restaurant. She wanted to own a chain actually. She was majoring in business and hospitality management to prepare for that path but this summer she started a new phase of her education.

Years later when Alicia was a James Beard award winner and owned several successful restaurants she released her first cookbook and titled it "In Gloria's Kitchen." When asked about the significance of the title she explained that she had the opportunity to learn to cook from a woman who taught her the difference between cooking and creating and between feeding people and nourishing them. This cookbook held some of Gloria's recipes and some of her wisdom. Including tips on paying too much attention to your flour and then very little attention at all. People would nod while reading the recipe like they understood what she was saying, but only a handful ever really did.

Mitchell was in the library reading. When Stacy had first shown him the room he had fallen to the floor and grasped his chest, "I have died and gone to heaven!" She had known this would be the space he loved the most. Jaelyn was going to be an architect. Gloria was going to run an empire. Mitchell was going to write. She showed him her place marker. "In all of these years you have only read this far?"

"This is my fourth new library."

He didn't ask her to explain and she was glad. She wanted him to be surprised when he finished as well. But he didn't start at the beginning and work through them all. His preferred method was to close his eyes and pick at random. Which had always been Aunt Perry's way as well. Every visit they made to the birthday cake house he read as much as he could, always picking at random and never running out of new books to read. He understood what she meant by new library after about his sixth visit to the house. He had been delighted with the discovery.

That visit was a few years after the extension to the garden had been completed with a white gazebo that was perfect for a sunset wedding. And the year before he and Stacy co-wrote their Newbery Award winning book, "The Witches in the Wonky Tower." It was about the same time as the other platform had been completed. It was going to make a perfect nursery.

Stacy had brought her friends to meet her family and her family had given them all gifts. The best gift of all was Jaelyn now visited her Aunts every year, usually during the fall, that was the best time for building. And Alicia visited her Aunts every year, especially in the spring when creating new recipes was the easiest. And they all visited their Aunts for big chosen family reunions as often as they could.


The summer before her first birthday she made her first trip to the place her mother called the birthday cake house but what she would always know was the wonky tower...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Don't Stay...

My "On This Day" feed today was a longish post about falling out of love with the 49ers. By seeing it, and others from years around this day. I can see myself trying to talk me out of it. Trying to hold on to my love for that team. For those of you that don't know I was a massive fan of the San Francisco 49ers. I had been since I was a teenager. Brent was also a fan. It was the only team we had in common when we started dating. It was the team we raised Christopher to like. This was OUR team.

But that wasn't enough to keep me loving the team when the owners made what I considered to be horrible decisions. They gave good talks about only hiring "quality guys" about that mattering to them, and then continued to hire guys with domestic abuse issues. And to make excuses for that. Then they treated their coaching staff with complete disrespect. Then the move to the newly designed and incredibly expensive new stadium that left people sitting staring into the sun with no shade and a field that was so bad that people were getting injured from turf divots. The most important part of a stadium is the playing surface. How do you get that wrong? I just couldn't take it anymore.

And then once I stopped watching them the rest of the NFL soon followed. I just don't watch much anymore. To the point where we haven't fully committed to watching the Super Bowl this Sunday. We probably will, I would guess, but more for a communal experience with others than for any care about the game.

But this isn't really a blog about football teams or football in general it's a blog about leaving when you know you should.

Like I said, there were literally years of me posting about walking away and I stayed watching. To the point where I was hanging on to something that I wasn't really enjoying anymore. I know I've been joking about the spark joy thing with the KonMari method, but there really is something to that on a bigger level than just things you own.

Don't do things that you don't like to do.

Okay, I know, there are a ton of things we have to do that aren't really joyful. Cleaning, cooking, going to work. But those things bring you something you really do enjoy, a pleasant living space, not starving, the money to do the things you want to do. So they are functional things. And you keep doing those because of what they bring you. But if you can afford not to do those things? Stop it. Hate cleaning but can afford a cleaning person? Hire a cleaning person. Hate cooking but can afford to eat out or have food prepared for you in house? Do that. Have enough money not to work? Retire.

Do the have tos until you don't have to anymore. Then stop.

And don't do things you don't get joy out of "for fun." I know that seems really basic and we should all know that but sometimes we don't. Usually because of habit. We have always done this thing, so we keep doing it. Even though if we stopped and thought about it we don't enjoy it anymore. This happens in families all the time. Traditions are followed because they are tradition. And we convince ourselves that other people enjoy it so much we can't stop. Then a discussion happens and you find out you have been making a dish, or going to an event, or whatever for YEARS that nobody really liked, but everybody kept doing it because they thought they were sucking it up for the joy of others.

Take stock in your life on what you do that you do by habit. And then see if that still serves you. Do you enjoy your time? Do you feel like you are missing out on something else that might be better because you are doing things that don't really serve you anymore.

It's okay to be selfish and do the things that you enjoy.

And don't get me wrong, that can be doing things that you might not like that much because other people you do care for like them and that is where you get your joy. (Sorry, Brent, you aren't getting out of going to musicals) But make sure that they really do like those things and aren't doing them just for your sake. Brent and I were at a concert last year and right before the show started he said, "I was surprised you picked this show, I didn't think you really like the group" and I was really confused because I had picked the show because he really liked the group. And he was like, "They are fine but I didn't really need to see them live." He thought I had wanted to go, I thought he had wanted to go. Now it ended up being a fine show, but we would have skipped it if we had been clearer in our intentions around it.

Don't keep doing things that you don't enjoy if you can help it.
Only do the things that are a drag until you can afford not to do them.
Make sure your life is serving you.
Do what you can to enjoy your time.
Whatever your reasons are for doing something, make sure they are good ones.
       They bring you joy.
       They bring the people important to you joy.
       They provide you with the things you need.
       They are moving you along the path you want to go.
       They serve your purpose.

Go spark some more joy in your life. You are worth it.

Monday, January 28, 2019

If Barriers Worked I Wouldn't Be Alive...

Okay, so I'm being facetious but only because THE WALL should be treated with one eyebrow cocked and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Let's start this discussion with a few clarifying points. First off we do not have wide open borders right now and acting like we do lets me know that you aren't really interested in a discussion of the actual situation. Next most liberals do not want wide open borders. Some do. Sure. I can find examples of liberals and hard core libertarians who absolutely think we shouldn't have any borders at all. Now they might feel that way for different reasons, the liberals think we should help anyone who comes to us for help and the libertarians/anarchists (there is a fine line between hard core libertarian and anarchist) think that borders are just government inventions that are put there to condition us to believing we can only go where government tells us we can go. 

So yeah, you can find the case to be made out there for open borders. But most people aren't there. 

Next not all conservatives want a wall because they are racists and hate other people. But some do. Just like you can find quotes from people who want no borders it's just as easy to find quotes from people who want borders because it will keep out the brown people.

And I will also say that at more than one time people with the "mainstream" view walk right up to that line. Pelosi saying that The Wall is immoral. Trump wondering why nobody from Norway wants to come to the US only people from those shithole countries and also his Muslim ban. But in the same interview where Pelosi said that The Wall is immoral she also said that we have a responsibility to control our borders, just that a wall isn't the right idea. And Trump doesn't care if you call it a wall, a barrier, steel slats or peaches (not even kidding) as long as he gets something he can show his base. So yeah, you can look at The Wall from a purely partisan stance and pick quotes from either side that will further your belief. 


That's stupid.

Yes, I said it. That's stupid. And can we please stop being stupid and starting getting stuff done? 

We need to fix our entire immigration system. We need to look at it from top to bottom. We need to look at what we are doing to contribute to the conditions in South American countries that are causing people to leave in mass to try to get here. We need to find answers that work. Not rhetoric that doesn't. And, by the way, could we learn from past mistakes?

For instance the amnesty under Reagan and the border tightening under Clinton both had unforeseen consequences arise. But now we have seen them so maybe we should learn from them. And how shocked are some of you that the Republican was the amnesty and the Democrat was the lock down? Things shift, so don't act like your party has ALWAYS done it this way, they haven't.

Granting amnesty is thought to have increased the number of people who came AFTER the time period was closed. The belief was that amnesty was for anyone. It wasn't but that's a big dream to float out to the world. Tightening the border under Clinton by building more barriers over some of the easier spots to cross and making the punishment for illegal crossings more extreme did two things. One it ended the flux. Migrants come over work the harvest, then leave and spend the off season with their families in Mexico. Once the punishment became too high to risk crossing back and forth they stayed. So net illegal immigration increased, not decreased. Also by blocking off the easier routes it funneled people in to the more dangerous areas to cross. And people die there. And we knew they would. And we know they do. And we still funnel people to those more dangerous areas. It doesn't prevent them from trying to cross but it does mean they are more likely to die in the desert from starvation and dehydration (the immoral part of Pelosi's argument, by the way).

So we know that full scale open and accept doesn't really work. And we know that block and punish doesn't work. So what do we do?

Well we need to understand the real problems before we can solve them. So you have to accept that illegal crossings from the southern border are at record lows. Even with big scary caravans coming. (put a pin in that we will come back to it). They started dropping off at the end of Bush the younger kept getting lower during Obama and stayed low. There was a dip again when Trump took office that can possibly be attributed to his hardline rhetoric but since that didn't stick and the numbers went back up to where they were before (yet still historically low) we can't really think hardline works. So why did it drop off? It's the economy, stupid. See our economy tanked. There weren't jobs to be had so people didn't make the trek.

This lets you know that the reasons for most of the crossing on the southern border are economic. Not due to drug smuggling or more opportunity for the raping or other criminal activity. Which the president wants to have you believe so you can believe we NEED a wall. It's economic. People want to come here because they can't make money where they are. 

Okay, back to the caravans. Those scary scary things that Fox told you all about right up until the election when they stopped talking about them. They aren't coming as a voting block, or a George Soros sponsored scare tactic. They are coming, again due to economics and also due to fear. Where they are is dangerous. It's also why they come in caravans. Safety in numbers. The journey from South and Central America is dangerous. But living in an area where gangs have overtaken the entire system and you are under threat is even more dangerous. So they come here. And seek asylum. Which is perfectly legal. So stop saying they are coming illegally. They aren't.

And why is there such a big drug and violence problem? Because there is a huge demand for the drugs. From us. Here. In the states. So their countries are paying the price for our addictions and then we want to turn them away at the border because it's not our issue. Man, again that immoral line from Pelosi kind of rings true doesn't it? the number of illegal crossings is down. Where are the majority of illegal immigrants coming from? Legal entry. The come in legally. On what is supposed to be a temporary visit and then they stay. Still the highest numbers. On planes. That a wall wouldn't stop. 

And what about those drugs? They come in hidden with other shipments. Smuggled in through legal ports of entry. They aren't being hand carried over the border. We use way too much of them for that to be practical. Ships a lot of the time. Again, no wall is going to stop that. 

And just to top it off, you know what happened when a large group was stopped at the border and told that they couldn't come in? That it would take ages for them to even get a hearing on their asylum claim? And they sat and stared at that wall for months? They started digging under it. Tunnels. Walls don't work against tunnels. 

So what would a wall do? It would give Trump something he can say "Look! I built a wall!" It will take property away from people who own it. From Native American tribes who have reservations that cross the US / Mexico border line. It will prevent natural migratory patterns for wild animals. It will funnel people away from where the wall is to more and more dangerous areas to cross (rivers and cliffs and more desert). But will it really secure the border? Prevent drugs from crossing? Keep people from entering legally and overstaying their visas?

What we need is real work, not a symbolic gesture.

We need more drug treatment facilities in the United States and less stigma around seeking help. Stop the flow of drugs across the border by stemming the demand. Then we need to see how we can help the countries whose economies we have wrecked with our drug demand. We broke it, we need to help to fix it. 

We need to really look at our migrant worker visa program and make adjustments. We need those workers just like those workers need us. In places where they've locked down the illegal workforce there hasn't been a huge influx of Americans taking those jobs. They don't want them. So why do we keep pretending they do?  Make it EASIER not harder for people who want the jobs to do them. I think a "fast lane" for people coming in and out to work would be great. Like my TSA precheck at the airport. People could get some sort of super processing and then be able to cross back and forth for work more easily. Let them go home to their families between jobs. 

And then look at our jobs again. Why is there a difference between what jobs Americans will take or are qualified for? Where is our skills gap? Or our pay gap? Or our expectations gap? Look at the problem and fix it from the root. Don't demonize the people who want those jobs or the employers who need those jobs filled. Figure out what it takes to have an American workforce and also where it might not make sense to have one. If it is easier to have a migrant farming community, make one. 

Look at the border and see where and what security is actually needed? Where does a barrier make sense and where doesn't it? Where would it be better to have electronic monitoring? We have technology why don't we use it? 

Stop treating people who want to better their lives as criminals. The way you talk about people makes an impact. 

Look at our legal entry system and what ways we could be better about tracking when people don't leave when they should.  And then what we do about that.

We need to put caps on DACA and make it complete. Start from right now and say this is the hard end date. Register your children, register adults who fall in to the top date, and you get this form of citizenship. These are kids, now adults, who have only known the USA as their home. To send them away is cruel and wrong and we shouldn't do it. We need to give them a path to citizenship. We need to bring them out of the shadows. But we also need to be able to say this is it. And we need to get that information out to other countries. But if we do the other things maybe we won't have an ongoing issue.

We need to look at the TPS people. There are people that came under TPS who have been here for decades. Why would we feel the need to send them away? And for some it's not like the situation for them is now better. We are sending people back to the same problems they fled from. If we accept people under TPS we need to change the T to P. Maybe they aren't fully granted citizenship, maybe they can never vote, but they are here, they are working, they are contributing. They don't have to fear being sent home. But they are welcome to go home when the danger has passed.

We need more immigration lawyers and judges. The backlog for hearing cases is outrageous. If we could clear cases and get people settled either here or there it would make a difference. And no matter what your hardliners keep telling you, the majority of people do actually come back for their court case even if they have been released to live in the states while they wait. Of course they do. They want to be here legally. To feel safe from deportation. And by the way, anyone who was waiting on their immigration hearing and the date came up during the shutdown? They were moved back to the back of the line. So years and years waiting only to have to now wait many more years again. 

I am sure there are a lot more things out there that can be done. A lot more ideas. But we need to start working toward those things.

And one more since this is already really long and I don't honestly think anyone is still reading. Stop telling people about the "right way to do it."

Asking for asylum (the majority of the people in caravans) is not illegal. It is a right way to do it.

That friend of yours who applied and did the three years not working while living here under temporary status and is now a citizen and thinks we should close the door behind them? The only thing they have in common with the people at the southern border is that they were born in a different country. 

They weren't running for their lives.
They had enough money, or enough contacts here in the states, that they could afford not to work for multiple years. 
Their story is not the same.

I'm glad they had a path to come. I'm glad they are so comfortable being here that they feel the freedom to tell other people to go away. But they aren't the same. Stop pretending that this is the only or even the best way to immigrate. If you are running for your life you don't have three years to wait. 

Which brings me to my last point. Trump talking about declaring a National Emergency to get his wall built.

Be careful what you wish for. Be careful of the rhetoric around using isolated cases of crimes being committed by people in the country illegally to build support. (illegal immigrants are statistically less likely to commit crime, by the way) He has you scared of a boogeyman illegal immigrant shooting you so he gets his National Emergency wall passed and the next Democrat in office has a path for National Emergency on the gun that the illegal immigrant used, or the climate change that drove him out of his farming community when the crops all dried see my point? Government overreach rarely stops reaching.

If it wasn't a National Emergency for the last two years while he held the House and the Senate, it's not an emergency now.

But our immigration system is broken.

It does need work.

Pressure your congresspeople to do it. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part Seven...

The night before she turned 18 she learned one of the best secrets of her life.

Stacy had spent the past two weeks with her aunts doing all of the things she loved to do most. Baking with Aunt Gloria, planning with Aunt Bets, playing with Aunt Perry. And learning about everything they could teach her. Going to the birthday cake house was still her favorite thing to do.

But she was worried.

Her parents had always brought her here on vacations. She couldn't remember a time they hadn't come and she always thought that it was their favorite place as well. But lately they had brought her and then left to go somewhere else. And looking back she realized that they had never seemed to embrace the birthday cake house as much as she did. Her father was always worried it wasn't structurally sound and that truth be told the aunts might not be all that sound either. Her mother only ventured to the upper floors of the house the one time during the eclipse. Other than that she stayed in the lower floors.

Would Stacy eventually outgrow the house and its charms as well? Would she, like her parents, start choosing other places she would rather go? She liked to travel already. And she knew that she would like to see as much of the world as she could. But she also always wanted to come back here and talk to her aunts about what she had seen. Where she wanted to go next.

She and her aunts were all sitting together on one of the platforms drinking tea and watching the stars.

"What was my mother like as a child?" Stacy thought that might give her a clue as to when her mother had started to drift away from the aunts and the house.

"I imagine she was like she is now, just smaller." Aunt Bets said.

Aunt Gloria laughed, "That seems to be the usual way. People are not much different at their core no matter what age they are."

Stacy tried to clarify, "No, I mean, when she would visit here. What was she like? Did she always just want to bake and sit quietly in the kitchen?"

Aunt Perry shook her head, "She never came here as a child. We didn't meet your mother until she was a grown woman."

"Oh! Wow! I had always thought that you were Mom's side of the family. Dad just didn't seem...well...enough like you."

"And your mother does?" Aunt Bets tried to hide the tone in her voice. Not well, but she tried.

"Well no. Not really. That's why I wanted to know what she was like. When she lost that, I don't know how to describe it, feeling? So I guess it was Dad all along. What was he like? Was he always such a stickler for rules and the ways things should be?"

"He has been for as long as we've known him." Aunt Gloria replied.

Stacy was starting to get a little confused, "And how long have you known him?"

"Oh close to 18 years I would say." Aunt Perry answered.

"Wait, you mean you aren't either my mother's or my father's aunts?"

"What do they call us?" Aunt Bets asked.

"The aunts."

"Then I would say that yes we are their aunts."

"But how? If you didn't know them as children then it's not by blood, was it by marriage? Did they come along with one of Aunt Gloria's husbands?"

Aunt Gloria laughed, "Oh no. My husbands had all left this plane before we ever met your parents."

"Then whose aunts are you?"

"We've already established that. Your parents call us the aunts so we are their aunts of course and you call us aunt as well so we are yours. I'm not sure what is confusing here." Aunt Bets never could understand how people could take very simple things and make them very complicated.

Aunt Perry broke in, "There are many ways to define family. There is family you inherit through birth. There is family you gain through marriage. And then there is family that you choose."

Stacy thought for another moment, "Then how did we become family? Who chose you?"

"Well you did." Aunt Gloria replied.

"I did? How did I choose you when you said it was close to 18 years ago. I'm only just going to be 18 in," she checked her watch, "about 10 minutes."

Aunt Perry smiled, "You needed us and so we were there."

"I needed you?"

"Yes, you said it yourself. Your mother doesn't really understand the need for more in life. Your father is a stickler for rules and logic. You, you are different. You understand the extra. You can feel it. You can see it. Without someone around who also understood the drive for more, well, you would have eventually lost it. You needed us."

Aunt Gloria patted her knee, "You reached out to us and we found you. The rest is family history."

"But how did you convince my parents to come here? To just add new family to their lives?"

"Oh I am sure your father thinks we belong to your mother and you mother thinks we came along with your father. They will be fuzzy on the details of the first visit, whose idea it was or wasn't. But once they started coming it was just a matter of tradition. You would be surprised what people do in the name of tradition that they really don't know why or if they even like it." Aunt Bets waved off the thought like she was shooing a mosquito.

"It's almost time." Aunt Gloria almost whispered. "Eighteen years old. Are you ready?"

Stacy thought about it for a second. Ready or not she was turning 18 in a few moments. And tomorrow her parents would arrive and they would all celebrate together. Her mother, her father and the aunts. Her aunts. A feeling of peace came over her then. She knew she would never outgrow the house, or her aunts, or the feeling of belonging that only came here. She was ready to face eighteen and the world beyond now.

She seemed to feel the vibration even before she heard the gong.

Her Aunt Bets smiled, "A little something special for the occasion."

As the clock struck midnight the gong sounded 18 times. Deep and true. Stacy sat with her aunts, holding hands, watching the stars, listening to the gong, feeling the vibration deep in their bones.

This was her family. Forever.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part Six...

The summer she turned 18 she visited the aunts by herself again. Her parents had not divorced two summers ago as she had thought they would but had spent time "rediscovering themselves" and part of their new "relationship reality" was time by themselves to reconnect.

Aunt Bets thought it was ridiculous. "Rediscover themselves? Where did they think they had gone?"

Stacy didn't mind at all. It had given her more time on her own as they scheduled date nights and couples only weekends. She felt like it was preparing her for her time in college. She was, afterall, almost an adult now herself.

It was decided that this summer she would spend a few weeks with the aunts while her parents took a cruise and then they would join her for a long weekend spent celebrating her 18th birthday. They had asked over and over again if she was sure she wanted to spend it at her aunts' house instead of with friends and she had reassured them that she would celebrate with her friends another time. That on the actual date she wanted to be with Aunt Bets and Aunt Gloria and Aunt Perry. The birthday cake house was the best place to celebrate a birthday. Especially a landmark one.

Stacy spent most of her time that summer lying on the platforms her Aunt Bets had installed a few summers ago. They were much the same as they had been that first summer she built them. Not too large. Nothing fancy. No room framing. She had asked why they hadn't built anything more yet and Aunt Bets had replied that "They are waiting."

"Waiting for what?"

"If I knew I would have built it."

These were the sort of answers that drove her father crazy but made Stacy feel that all was right in the world. Aunt Bets would no sooner build something that wasn't ready to be built than Aunt Gloria would take a cake out of the oven before it was finished baking. Everything had a time and they seemed to know what that time was.

One afternoon Aunt Perry found her lying on the platform staring at the clouds. "Being worried is perfectly normal."

Stacy smiled it was not unusual for her Aunt Perry to start a conversation in the middle. "I'm more excited than worried I think."

"Excitement is just worry with better PR."

Stacy laughed, "Maybe."

"Do you feel like you are ready to go?"

"Yes. I have all of my classes picked out, I've starting chatting with my roomates. Orientation is in a month and freshmen will have a week on campus to settle in and learn where everything is before the rest of the students arrive."

"What are you hoping to learn?"


Now it was Aunt Perry's turn to laugh. "Everything is a pretty tall order."

"That's why I'm excited." Stacy paused "And worried. What if it's not what I am expecting? What if, instead of the classes being interesting they are boring? What if the professors are dull? What if I don't like it? What if I'm not cut out for college?"

"Then you can leave. You should never stay where you don't want to be."

Stacy thought about the option of leaving. That is what her Aunt Bets had done. She hadn't stayed in college when she discovered it didn't suit her. But Stacy couldn't imagine doing the same. She had scholarships that were going to pay for most of her tuition but her parents were still spending a lot on books and room and board to send her. And she was grateful for that. And already feeling the pressure of the expense.

"No matter what you think you owe to someone you never owe them your discomfort." Aunt Perry looked at her. Really looked at her. "No matter who it is."

"That is easier said than done."

Aunt Perry sat down on the edge of the platform and took Stacy's hand in hers. "It might be, but it's important. You are going to be in situations in your life where your inner voice and your manners fight. You need to let your inner voice win. If it helps to imagine that voice as your Aunt Bets' voice so you don't worry so much about good manners that's fine."

Stacy laughed. "Is that what you do?"

"No, I hear Gloria's. Quietly telling me what I already know. And promising me a cookie if I do the right thing. And she always comes through with the cookie."

Stacy laughed again.

But she remembered. And more than once she head her Aunt Bets telling her it was time to leave a situation, that she didn't owe anyone her discomfort no matter what.

When Aunt Bets found out that she had been Stacy's internal voice all through school she just nodded. "Of course I was. I am the best at giving advice after all. Gloria would just offer you a cookie."

Aunt Perry and Stacy had laughed a little louder at that than Bets had been expecting.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody, Everywhere....

Okay, I give in. I'm going to read it. I just put The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on my hold list for the library and I am debating just flat out buying it so I can read it quicker.

As you know I've avoided it because I tend to have issues around this area. (Some of you are asking yourselves "What DOESN'T she have issues around?")

My family is borderline hoarder territory. And I go between getting stuff and throwing it all away depending on when I last visited home and a few other things. I've got a system in place now. When something triggers me to go on a clearing out spree I clear it out of the house into the garage where it sits for awhile before it goes to Goodwill. I do this because there have been too many times where I've cleared out a bunch of stuff and then realized I really did want that stuff. This is a good stop gap measure.

So I've avoided the book because I already have a system. Because I don't really have a ton of clutter. Because I don't want to trigger a massive clear out that will be a mistake. But I have questions...

I want to see if the book addresses my questions. I don't know if it will or if it won't but I want to see.

I also want to see why it's been such a big deal for people. Is it just that most people don't know you can actually get rid of things you don't need anymore? Or is it just that people like the way she does it? So just like reading Twilight and Fifty Shades this is a book I might not actually enjoy that much but it's such a cultural phenomenon that I feel compelled to read it.

But mostly it's the questions.

Because having things means different things to different people. Does she talk about that? That it might actually be more stressful for you to get rid of things than to keep them? I know the basic principle is "Does it spark joy?" So you pick something up and if it sparks joy you keep it, if it doesn't you don't. colander isn't going to spark joy when I pick it up but I will regret getting rid of it the next time I make pasta.

And I have friends who are serious minimalists. Like each member of the family has a plate. A glass. A fork. And so on. But that means after each meal you have to wash dishes. Okay, I do dishes almost every day anyway because I have one blender and one set of smoothie travel mugs, but do I want to have to wash my breakfast dishes before I can have lunch and then wash my lunch dishes before I can have dinner? Not really. Having free time sparks more joy in me than constant dishwashing, so does the book talk about that?

And does it talk about why you might keep things other than the necessary, like a colander, or the time issues, like multiple dishes. Does it mention that if you grew up in plenty it might be easier to get rid of extras than if you grew up in want?

My dad kept everything that he thought might be useful later. Every spare bolt or nut. Every broken down appliance he could store. Every decent piece of wood that could be used again. And he did use a lot of those things. I've talked about it before, he was quite the inventor. He made things that made life easier and he made them all out of spare parts. A piece of wood and an old scrap of carpet became a boot remover. Old pallets became a luxury insulated dog house. Or a shed. Or a fence. He just built things.

My mother collects things that "are going to be worth something someday." So many collections of things. Figurines, jewelry sets, books. Anything that is sold with a number on it she's a sucker for. Even if you tell her, "Mom, this isn't ever going to be worth more than you paid" she will still keep them, and the box they came in, and the paperwork it came with. Because you never know there was that one woman in North Dakota who sold her Maximilian Von Shotzinger bug eyed doll for $1000 and she only spent $989 for it. So there you go...

But both of them were children of The Great Depression. My dad would have been 9 and my mother 7 when it ended. But we all know that when the economy starts to turn is not when farmers and other people who are hit the hardest by the downturn feel it. So they were born into it, they started their lives with it, and they lived with the ramifications of it forever. They kept things.

And so I grew up with them keeping things. And I also grew up poor. So there were things that we rarely bought. New clothes. Most of my stuff was from the DAV. Which is great when you are in high school and the cool "new" shirt that you repaired the small hole in and then covered it up with a kicky bandana is recognized by the person who gave it away in the first place. So you see, I have a thing about clothes. I don't buy a lot, but I keep them forever.

Books were from the library or Don's Paperback Book Exchange. Never a new book. And never a hardcover at all. Paperbacks and borrows. I use my library a But it took me years, and honestly the digital options, to start again. Buying a book, a hardcover book, on the day it was released, meant something more to me than just buying a book would to many people. Having that book was a real solid thing. Even now that I read on my Kindle I have a few hardcover books that I probably will have forever. Even though I've already read them and if I were to read them again I would do it digitally. But having them means something to me.

There are other things that I have that I have never done anything with. I have a few DVDs that I've never watched. But being able to buy them because right then I wanted them meant something to me. It still means something to me. So even though my TV doesn't even play DVDs I still have some. Not many, and a lot of them have been transferred digitally but I still have them. Music CDs are the same. Albums I bought that weren't from Columbia Record Company buy 10 for a penny. It was a turning point for me that I could buy them if I wanted them.

So what sparks joy for you might be different for me. And not only might the thing have sparked joy when I bought it but now it sits on a shelf, or in a box and I never deal with it, getting rid of it might spark something else entirely. So I want to see if she talks about that at all. I have questions.

I have things because not having them was my only option growing up. My family has an abundance of things for the same reason. I get rid of things because too many things makes me think of the excess stuff and the dust it collects in their houses. So I go back and forth. And there is a part of me that worries that I am always just one step away from hoarding all of the things. Because I'm the only one who seems to not do it.

As many things as I have, as many issues as I have around getting rid of things, I keep a really tidy house, for the most part. I keep a real watch on what I do buy and why I buy it. Even if Brent might not always agree. (winky face emoji or eyebrow waggle GIF should be imagined here) None of my siblings do. They all tend toward the same as Mom and Dad and keep everything. Garages overflowing with stuff. Storage sheds rented out to keep more stuff. Piles of things to deal with or not. Just so much stuff.

It's why going back to Albuquerque almost always triggers a clean out for me. We are in my mother's house where she lives with one of my brothers and my sister and there is just so much stuff. Everywhere you look there is stuff. Paperwork and collectibles and magazines and books and just so much stuff. And then you add a dog or two and a cat or two and living in the desert and you get pet hair and dust with the stuff. And it's all too much for me. So I go home and get rid of my things.

And I've never really understood it. Why I don't keep as many things as they do. I thought it was probably because when Brent and I were first married I went from raised poor to working poor. We just didn't have the extra money to buy things. Everything we made was sustenance money. So what we had was whatever hand me downs from his folks fit in the little U-Haul that Ann and I drove from Albuquerque to Florida and that's that.

Brent grew up in a very tidy house. Probably excessively so on the other end of the scale. Dirty dishes had to be put in a certain place to wait to be washed sort of thing. They couldn't just go in the sink and wait, they had to be rinsed and stacked NEXT to the sink. It was different. But it was what he was used to and since we didn't really have a lot of things at the time it wasn't hard to just fall in to the tidy world of his. And you get used to it. Less to dust. Less to clean. It's not bad.

I did have my things that I wanted to keep and it did drive him crazy that I would have paperwork I was working on and the multiple books I was reading scattered around. He would put things away and I would get pissed because out of sight out of mind for me so I would forget to finish things. We compromised on tidy stacks and stashed junk areas. It worked.

But I still worried about a latent hoarding gene.

This past Sunday talking to C about it and he said that he thinks the reason I don't do that, the reason I won't ever even though my siblings all tend to it is because I broke from the family at a young age. I didn't just get married and move, I broke. I left the religion, I left the political party, I left town, I broke from the family in a lot of ways. And subconsciously part of that is tied to living a life that even looks different from how I was raised. Neat, tidy, less stuff. To the point where I get stressed if there is too much stuff and too much untidiness. Isn't that interesting? I see it.

So anyway...long blog to say I'm going to read a popular book and see what the fuss it all about.

I'll let you know when I start it so you can have first crack at all of my things.

Kidding...I'm kidding...

I've already gotten rid of them...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

And What Else Have We Learned?

Okay, I'm going to talk about this again but in a sort of sideways way. Mainly because I think there are still things people should be taking from this that they aren't.

So the video comes out. People react. Then more video comes out and other people react. Then all of the video comes out and everyone has their say. But what did you learn?

If you want to understand why people reacted to that initial shot the way they did I have a suggestion for you. Put your own beliefs to the side and watch what is happening now. The Right is falling all over themselves to make these boys victims. And the media, because they didn't say at the beginning, there were a lot of assholes involved, is helping them. But please understand that these boys are not victims. They aren't good guys. They aren't heroes. They are at best Eddie Haskell. Punk kids being punk kids who should have been told to stop being punks by an adult they respected.

But instead we all watch the media and the Right tell us all about how these are good boys really. And the main mad dogger boy say that he doesn't feel that he owes any sort of apology because there was no reason for him not to stand his ground. And he's right. There has never been any reason for him to think he should move. He's never been taught to give way. To think someone else has a right to the space he is in. He has always been taught that he, white, male, private school, child of privilege has earned that space. It's his. He is owed that.

And he's getting reinforcement for that right now.

The President has weighed in on their side.

The media is falling all over themselves to show that they were wrong.

I believe Fox News has already installed their shrine to "LEFTIST CRAZIES ATTACK OUR SWEET BOYS"

But those boys, that group of kids were still assholes.

They still responded to the Native American chant with the tomahawk chop.

They still yelled back at the group that was yelling at them. (I'm not saying this is uncalled for or unusual but please let's stop pretending that they didn't do their part to escalate the situation)

And let's also remember that they were in DC to attend an anti-choice march. Sixteen year old boys.

Because they have been taught all of their lives that they are due this space. That their opinions automatically hold weight. And the PR firm that is representing them, the lawyer that is threatening to sue journalists that reported and didn't retract, the President, the media, their parents, their absent chaperones are all telling them they are right.

That is why there was a reaction to that photo.

Young white male wearing a MAGA hat smirking in the face of a Native American. It might not have told the whole story of what happened that day, but it does tell a story. And it's one that is being told again right now. As we watch.

Like I said, there were a lot of assholes there that day, but that does not mean that the boys weren't assholes. It just means they had a lot of company.

And I know that there are people reading this just waiting to clap back at me about white privilege so I'm going to add in a bit more here.

I read an opinion piece this morning about why parents on the Right are so worried. That this is Brett Kavanaugh part two for them. Where when Kavanaugh was accused they could see their husbands or brothers or sons being "destroyed by some woman" and now they see that it could be their young sons "destroyed by a clip of a recording." And that they are now panicked about what could happen when they are out in the world. My first reaction as I was reading this was to smirk. Yes, not smile nervously, smirk. I'm not worried that my husband or son will be caught up in this sort of thing because I don't think my husband or son has done something to be caught up in. But okay, you do you...

But then my smirk shifted to a look of disbelief then anger when the writer continued on to say he could already hear the "what about" comparing black boys to white boys and the fears of black parents and he acknowledged then dismissed those comparisons in one paragraph. With basically a "yes I'm aware of the post killing criminalization justification argument but..." Post killing. After they are dead. You know, when they really have been destroyed.

Do you understand the difference here? MAGA hat wearing young man was called a racist. Trayvon Martin is dead.  Covington Catholic is having to explain the black face photos. Tamir Rice is dead. We can go on. Young black boys are portrayed as big scary men. Nathan Sandmann is a young kid who just was standing there minding his own business.

Watch how things are portrayed and then you might understand the reaction to the photo.

There were a lot of assholes there that day. Don't dismiss the ones that look like you.

Monday, January 21, 2019

So What Did We Learn this Weekend?

The cycle moved fast this time. It's actually slightly impressive. From the release of snippets of video to more video to a lot of video. From outrage to think pieces. From one side to the other. It was a fast moving fire. And what did we all learn?

That no matter what you wanted to see you could find a video clip that would show that to you?
That often the side story isn't the whole story?
That we are still so divided that nothing but "winning" the argument matters?

I'll tell you what I saw and what I think.

I think there were assholes on all sides.

Plenty of assholes.

All shouting at each other.

Because that is where we are now.

It started with the one group that isn't getting a ton of attention (I don't think) but that, to me, is the most to blame. The Black Hebrew Israelites. This is a group that has gotten the attention from the SPLC for being a hate group. And they were on full display on that day. They had already insulted the Native American group. Repeatedly. Then they went after the Catholic school boys. They are not good people. They call everyone names. They are pretty nasty all around. So they were going after both of the other groups.

So in response to the Black Hebrew Israelites yelling at them the Catholic school boys decided the best idea would be to do school spirit chants to drown them out. Now according to his own statement the boy in the original video/picture says they asked their chaperones permission and that their chaperones said it was fine. This is was a bad call on their part. Yell back louder isn't really a good solution. And school spirit chants are basically rhymes about why I'm better than you are so maybe a bad choice on a whole other level. But here we were. One group yelling at another who then starts yelling louder to drown them out.

Add in the Native American group again. And again, per the statement he released, the gentleman with the drum wanted to diffuse the situation so he started playing and chanting. To drown out the other groups yelling. So add more noise. How is this supposed to work?

Then we have the showdown. The boy in the shot and the older gentleman in the shot end up face to face, the way it happened is not completely agreed upon from the different sides but the one thing they both agree on is that they were trying to diffuse the situation. To calm things down. That's what they each say they were doing. By mad dogging and by playing a drum in someone's face. How is that calming down the situation? It seems like it would just make it worse.

The young man says he didn't want to move or touch him or do anything that would exacerbate the situation.

The elder man says he was chanting a prayer for calm and wanted to distract the focus from the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Well...okay. But...

How about walking away? Why wasn't that the first option when the group started yelling at the kids? Why didn't the chaperones say, "you know what, let's take a little walk away for a bit and we'll talk on the bus about what happened and what you all think about it."

Or why didn't the boys and the Native American group talk to each other? Like, "Hey I see you're getting hassled by these men who were harassing us before. You want to team up to try something? I have a chant that is a prayer for peace and if you all pray too we can maybe change this situation." Imagine that image for a second. A group of high school boys all heads bowed in prayer while a group of Native American activists stand in front of them singing their own prayer and blocking them from a group of men who had been yelling at them. What a great uniting scene that would have been.

Instead one group yelled, the next group yelled louder, a third group added a drum and then the whole thing was posted on the internet so the yelling could spread even more.

This is where we live. Brent and I were talking about it yesterday and I said it's like we are all sitting on tinder boxes and holding lighters. He said it was worse, it's like we are in dry forests throwing matches at each other.

And that's what I got out of the whole the video shows you want you want to see weekend. We have stopped being able to talk to each other. To even imagine that the FIRST step should be discussion. That walking away is a valid response. That we don't need to get louder.

And I bring it back to a question I ask all the time. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?

The Black Hebrew Israelites aren't there to convert people to their beliefs. Not when they are yelling at Native Americans and Catholic school boys so why are they there?

The Catholic school boys were originally there for their own march but then what? What were they trying to accomplish by getting louder than the BHI? Were they trying to reflect their catholic beliefs? By doing tom-a-hawk chops and my school is the best chants? What were they trying to do here?

The Native American group was there for their own march as well but then what? If you are singing or chanting in a language that others don't understand how are they to know it was a peaceful thing? Are you trying to help me or antagonize me? What is the point of banging a drum in my face?

When you posted your outrage over the boys or support of the boys what were you trying to do? What about the people that sent death threats? What did they think that was going to accomplish? What is their goal?

Mine? I'd like to see us all put down the matches and pick up some watering cans. We need more calm voices and talk to get past our issues and less side picking and fighting.

It's hard. I get it. But we need to try.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Let's Go to the Tape!

Ray Rice. You saw him go on the elevator with his wife. You saw him dragging her unconscious body off the elevator. But the punishment, the outrage didn't happen until the video from inside the elevator was released where you saw him knock her out. At the time I was baffled. Why in the world did it take that? What did you think happened in there? She just took a little nap? What in the world...

R. Kelly. The stories and accusations have been around for years. Years and years. The women featured in the TV show had told their stories before. But it took the TV show to make people take action. To truly demand that something be done. For his record label to drop him. I mean Spotify tried to stop playing his music last year (I want to say it was last year) and people lost their shit over it. HOW DARE THEY! Now it's like HOW DARE THEY HAVE WAITED THIS LONG! What? People knew. But it took watching the show to really get it.

So now I sit here and wonder if we have to wait until the Trump Family Special Indictment show to get everyone on board. The information has been there. The stories have been around for years and years. Everything you needed to know has been in your face. But I guess we need a TV show, or the video from inside Trump Tower.

We can't read apparently. Or extrapolate facts. We need someone to take our hand and walk us step by step through everything AND show us the video. Don't forget the video.

It's extremely frustrating. People that I know are intelligent are pretending they don't see what is in front of their faces. "Well we just don't know." Chris Christie just wrote a book where he talks about how EVERYONE around Trump is a crook and a thief but Trump himself is fine. Wait, what? First off, Chris, you were around him so I guess you need to tell us which you are. I mean the bridge incident shows you are an asshole but which are you otherwise? A crook or a thief? And please, if everyone around you is dirty you are dirty. Especially if you chose everyone around you.

Cohen is telling all his secrets now. I mean it won't matter until the corroborating proof is released, and let's be perfectly honest unless it's a video tape I'm guessing that won't matter either. Though now that I think about it, the Access Hollywood Tape was a tape. It's right there in the name. Maybe because it wasn't a video until he got off the bus. Just audio. So somehow since they didn't SEE him saying those things it was all good.

There have been too many moments where the talking heads were sure this would be the thing that does him in. I just don't believe it anymore. I think that the biggest obstacle to anything being done is that those who support him would have to stop. And to stop supporting him they would have to admit not just that they were wrong but that that means other people were right. And it's that part that I think will prevent it from happening. We are so divided into sides and teams and who is with me and who is against me that to say "I was wrong, you were right" is impossible. It's too damaging to our sense of self to do.

Talking to a friend this week and I said I would hope that I would be able to do it. If the situation were reversed. If one of those dozen investigations into Clinton had actually found something I'd like to believe that I would have been able to say, "I was wrong." But it's all hypothetical. I don't know because she wasn't elected so the House and Senate didn't have two years of investigations (AGAIN) into emails and Benghazi and Uranium One and all of the other things that had been investigated and found to have nothing really there. I do know that when results of investigations were released I would watch almost holding my breath. So I know that part of me was willing to entertain the idea that she was guilty of something. I didn't think she was, but I wasn't positive because I didn't know everything. But I was right. So I didn't have to say I was wrong.

But I like to think I could. That I would be able to back away from someone, no matter how much I had invested in them, if they were dirty.

But I also believe I would never put my faith in someone who had the dirty history that Trump had all along.

Again. The stories and examples have been around for years and years.

We shouldn't need a video tape to believe it.

He's showing us live everyday.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part 5...

The summer she turned 15 she visited the aunts for much longer than she usually did. Instead of spending a week with them she spent months.

When the visit started she had been concerned about her parents and what her life was going to be like when she went home again, and though those thoughts were still in her head they were being mostly drowned out with other thoughts. Thoughts about baking. And house construction. And gardening. And reading. And stargazing. And...well everything that she could soak up.

Looking back at that time she wasn't sure if she had decided to immerse herself in everything about her aunts and their house because she was embarrassed for never asking questions before or if her aunts had decided to fill her head with so much information she didn't have time to think about what her parents were doing. She had finally decided that it didn't really matter why it had happened, she was just glad that it had.

Working in the kitchen with Aunt Gloria she learned that the trick to making biscuits that were light and fluffy and tender and perfect was to pay too much attention to the flour and very little attention at all to the flour. To make sure a cookie is sweet you had to add the right amount of salt. These were the sorts of directions that Aunt Gloria gave while cooking. And finally Stacy understood why her mother, when she would attempt to cook at home, was never successful. She would remember half of the instructions or think that she had to have misheard them since they were contradictory. So her very few attempts at things like biscuits in her own kitchen resulted in hard pucks of dough instead of the float away light and flaky bites of heaven her Aunt Gloria could make.

Pay too much attention to the flour. Make sure you use the right flour, King Arthur was the best. Then sift it. Then sift it again. But once you added in the shortening, always by hand to get the right feel, never a mixer, then you needed to barely touch it. Mix it like you didn't really care if it was mixed at all. Pay too much attention to the flour. Then pay very little attention at all to the flour. You had to add salt to fully taste the sweet. Salt enhances flavors. Without salt you don't get the real sweet unless you add so much sugar it gets cloying. A little bit of salt and the sweetness pops.

It was all very simple really. If you understood what Aunt Gloria was telling you.

She worked with Aunt Bets to plan a new section of the garden. They researched shade plants. Things that would bloom, fruit and flourish without direct sunlight. They plotted out the garden measuring rows and thinking of how things would grow over the years. How much room would a plant need in three years? In five? In ten? You had to keep that in mind when planting if you didn't want to have to tear out your garden and start over. While they were in the yard making their plans Stacy looked up at the bright sky and back down at the piece of land and asked, "Why are we planning for shade here? This is direct sun."

Aunt Bets nodded, "That's a very good question, and it only took you a week to ask."

Stacy smiled and laughed, "Well, I wasn't thinking about that part. I was thinking about the growing and the planning."

"A good lesson for you. Don't get wrapped up in the future and forget about the present." Then Aunt Bets continued to measure space for her flowers.

Stacy kept taking notes for a little bit and then paused, "You didn't answer my question though, did you?"

"Good. It didn't take you nearly as long this time."

Aunt Perry came out of the house with some lemonade, "Don't tease her too much or she won't want to help you later."

"Oh you're no fun. Here, look up there and tell me what you see." Aunt Bets pointed above them.

"The sky. Some clouds. There's a bird..." Stacy knew she was missing something.

Aunt Bets came behind her and placed a hand on each side of her head and guided it to the side and tilted down a bit. "Now what?"

She looked and, "Oh! What is that?"

There was a platform on the side of the house. Not much space at all, maybe five or six feet wide. But a definite platform.

"That's the start of the next part of the house. There is a matching branch on the other side. Or that's what they are going to be. I see two branches coming out from the garden and those will be..." she trailed off. "Well I'm not sure yet. I just know we will need those rooms for something. So I've started the plans now. You should never wait until you know what you need to make sure you have what you need."

"Are we going to start on that this summer?"

"Well, part of we already started or there wouldn't be a platform. But I'm not sure how much more we will get done this summer. Fall is a better time for building. The spring and summer are full of growth already. There isn't nearly as much competition in the fall."

"That and she likes to lay around in the afternoon with a glass of lemonade and a good book in the summer." Aunt Perry laughed.

"That too! And with that you are free from helping me for the rest of the day. I've got an appointment with a dashing detective and his trusty crime solving dog!"

Stacy laughed, "I don't think I've read that one."

"Well of course not, I'm still writing it."

Stacy was too shocked to even answer. Her aunt wrote books?

Aunt Perry stretched, "I think I'll climb a tree and head to the library, what do you think?"

Stacy was excited, she had been waiting to tell her Aunt Perry the news, "I finished!"

"You finished what?"

"Every book in the library, I finished yesterday." She was grinning from ear to ear.

"Well this I have to see!"

And so Stacy and Aunt Perry climbed the tree and headed into the library where Stacy found her bookmark had been moved back to the low wall and the very first book. "Oh you already knew!" She had hoped to surprise her aunt. But when she walked over to the small side of the room and pulled out her book mark she realized these were not the books she had read. She followed the wall all along the room from the lowest side to the tallest. As far as she could tell every single book was different. "How..."

Aunt Perry smiled at her, "The secret to a good library is never running out of books."

And so the summer went. Stacy made progress in the library. She learned how to cook. She learned how to plan a garden. She even did some sketches for how she envisioned the new branches of the house and what she thought might fit in those rooms. She also learned that her Aunt Bets had been the first of her family to go to college. Though she hadn't finished when she realized that most college instructors were like Stacy's father and full of can'ts and shoulds ("no offense dear, but he's always been a bit of a fuss") and Bets was much more interested in why nots and how comes.

She learned that Aunt Gloria had met all of her husbands at Farmers' Markets, yet not a single one of them had been a farmer. She also learned that going to the Farmers' Market with her Aunt Gloria still consisted of multiple men offering to buy her fruit or a coffee or a ranch in Montana. "There is just something about a Farmers' Market that makes men feel generous."

She learned that Aunt Perry went once a week to Sarah's grave site and told her about everything going on in the world. The whole world. And she got it all done in a half hour. "It helps that she keeps up with things. I only have to tell her a few things she might have missed. And we have a great shorthand, most long term relationships do, you know."

And at the end of the summer when her parents came to pick her up she realized that no matter what they had decided she would be fine. And she was.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part 4

The summer she turned 15 she went to the aunts by herself.  Her parents had tried to convince her it was an adventure on her own. A chance to get a break from them. But she wasn't a stupid girl.

"I think my parents are going to get divorced."

Aunt Bets looked at Aunt Gloria quickly. Stacy was pretty sure she wasn't supposed to notice the glance but she did.

Aunt Perry was the one to step in though, "Why do you think that?"

"They've been fighting a lot lately. And then they sent me here without coming as well. I think they are splitting up and will break it to me when it's all over with."

"And how do you think you would feel about that?" Aunt Gloria asked. "If it were to happen?"

Stacy shrugged her shoulders, "I think it would make me sad, but if it was better for them? Maybe? I don't know. I have friends whose parents are divorced and some of them are okay, but some are just not. Like they went crazy, you know? Dating and acting like a kid. It's weird to think of my mom or dad having drama like that. If they did get divorced I guess I would wish that they would just be happy being single, like you guys."

Aunt Bets laughed loudly at that. "Your Aunt Gloria is the most often married woman I have ever known."

Stacy looked confused.

"Oh now, that's not fair. I was only married a few times."

"What? Wait, you were married? How did I not know this? Were you two married as well?"

Her Aunt Gloria smiled, "I was married three times. My husbands all had the bad manners to die earlier than I did. It's been a long time since my last husband. You weren't even born yet when he passed."

"But how did I not know about them?"

"Because you never cared to ask," said Aunt Bets, "You were a child and children are the most self centered creatures in the world."

"Oh now don't look so shocked, sweetheart, it's perfectly normal to be self centered as a child." Her Aunt Perry tried to comfort her.

"That is true, you show me someone who was not self centered as a child and I will show you a neurotic grown up."

"But I still feel badly that I never even knew. What about the two of you? Were you two married?"

Aunt Bets shook her head, "I never was. I didn't feel the need for it. I had the house and the gardens and my sisters off and on, but I just never felt that tug to have a partner."

Aunt Perry smiled a small smile, "I was married once. She was my heart. When she passed I didn't feel the need to try again."

Stacy looked shocked again. "She?"

Aunt Perry laughed, "I thought the youth of today was much more open to such things."

"No! I mean, yes, of course, it's fine. I just was shocked that I didn't know. Marriage hasn't been legal for very long, so how could I not have met her?"

"Oh pish. We cared about the legality about as much as your Aunt Bets cares about building permits. We didn't have a document from the government, but we had a lovely wedding and a delightful marriage."

Aunt Bets nodded, "It's true. And Sarah outlasted two of Gloria's husbands as well."

Stacy couldn't believe it. How in the world had she never even considered that her aunts had ever done anything other than just live in the house waiting for her to visit. But it was true. She had never given a thought to what their lives were like when her family was not around. "What about children? Do I have cousins that I have never met?"

Aunt Gloria shook her head, "No, it was never in the cards for me and any of my husbands. And as much as Perry and Sarah didn't care about rules the adoption agencies did. And of course Bets wouldn't have ever let any man get close enough to try!" Her aunts broke out into loud peals of laughter.

Aunt Perry walked over and picked up a framed photo that Stacy had never noticed. "Here."

Stacy looked and it was her aunts in front of the house, which was only two stories at the time, watching another man and a woman plant a tree.

"That's my Sarah, and that is Dean, your Aunt Gloria's second husband. They were planting the climbing tree. Bets was already planning the expansion of the house at the time and said the tree would be important but wouldn't tell us why."

"This is amazing." Stacy looked at the old photo. Looking at her aunts as younger women made her smile, but she spent most of her time looking at Dean and Sarah. Would she have liked them? What were they like?

They all spent the rest of the day reminiscing about their younger lives. It wasn't until much later that Stacy realized she hadn't worried about her parents all afternoon.

And it wasn't until years later that she wondered how old her aunts really were, and how long ago that tree had been planted.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part 3

The summer she turned 14 her aunts gave her a gift. It was the best gift she had ever received and might be the best gift she ever would receive.

She was going to be going in to high school in the fall and was feeling very grown up at the time. During the last year of middle school you were tested for high school class placement. She had placed in all of the advanced classes and was feeling very smart and very smug about it. That feeling did not fade from the end of the school year to the summer visit at the Aunts.

"Did you want to go to the library and read? I believe your Aunt Perry is there right now."

"Not right now. I am trying to figure out the trick."

Her Aunt Gloria looked puzzled, "What trick?"

"The trick to how this works." she was following the circle of the sundial and looking for a hidden light source.

"I believe there is a book in the library that explains how sundials work, Stacy." Aunt Gloria smiled a teasing smile at her.

She sighed, "I know how they work. That's why I'm looking for the trick for this one. There is a ceiling blocking the sun when it's overhead. It should only work when the sun is low in the sky. This can't be a true sundial, it shouldn't work."

Aunt Gloria came and stood near Stacy. She looked at her watch then looked at the shadow from the sundial. "It's 1:30. Seems like it works just fine."

She rolled her eyes. "It seems like it, but it can't really work."

"But it does work, so it seems like that's enough."

She just kept walking around the tiles that were laid in for the sundial and looking up and around for a light. Aunt Bets was a very clever craftswoman and Stacy was sure she had made something that would make the sundial work without the sun. And she did it so well that it had taken her two years to even question it.

Aunt Gloria just kept smiling,"How far are you along the walls in the library?"

Stacy stopped and thought, "I think about halfway through."

"And when you are finished will you have read every book in the world?"

She laughed, "Of course not! I will have only read every book in that library. There are always more books. There are books printed everyday."

"And so right now you have only read half of the books in that room which isn't even close to half of the books in the world. Just like you have only learned half of what your Aunt Bets knows about making sundials. If that much."

"It still shouldn't work."

"Should or shouldn't doesn't stand a chance against does."

Aunt Gloria starting walking around the edges of the sundial with her. "Maybe we will put in a labyrinth next. They are very relaxing to walk through. You might enjoy that."

Stacy kept walking and looking. Aunt Gloria walked next to her singing a song just under her breath. Finally she said, "I should get back down to the kitchen. The bread is ready to take out of the oven and I don't want your mother to think I've forgotten her. Your Aunt Bets is about through listening to your father tell her why the house shouldn't still be standing as well." She had stressed the shouldn't in a meaningful way.

Aunt Gloria kissed her on her forehead and then walked to the stairway to the library. "Don't stay up here too long, you still need to unpack before dinner."

She had sighed again then. To be honest that was part of why she was so determined to find the secret to the sundial. She was feeling a little mad about her room. It was plain this time. The walls were unpainted. The bed was just a normal bed with a white comforter. The window looked out onto the tree outside. Her aunts hadn't even taken the time to do something special. It had disappointed her. Then it had made her realize she was too old to believe in the magic of the birthday cake house so she was determined to find all of its secrets. Starting with the sundial. But later. She did have to unpack.

She walked the stairs down to the library, skipping the playroom altogether. There was no mystery there that needed solved and really she was too old to spend time sliding around in her socks. As she walked to the center of the library to slide down to the bedroom level she looked for her Aunt Perry but she wasn't here after all. She must have gone with Aunt Gloria to the kitchen. She took a moment to see where her mark was and was feeling a little smug that she was actually more than half way through the room. Even better than she had thought.

She slid down the pole and walked into her very plain room. She tried to reframe her disappointment into thinking that her aunts knew she was growing up now and had no time for fish murals or spaceship shaped beds. She sighed. She would have to try harder to feel as grown up as her room looked.

While she unpacked she started to hum. The song her Aunt Gloria had been singing had gotten stuck in her head and she hadn't even realized it. She stopped and turned around slowly. The blank white wall was now blue. She was certain it had been white when she walked in.

"Keep humming. If you remember the words, try those out." Her Aunt Perry was standing in the doorway.

Stacy started to hum again. Trying to remember the way the song went. The blue in the wall deepend. "...ummm....something...something...And the stars in the sky shine down...." she sang what she could remember and as she sang more colors started to ripple across the wall.

"Do you know any poetry? You could try that."

She tried to remember one from school. "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree."

Aunt Perry motioned to the window. The tree outside was now covered in blooming flowers.

Stacy laughed with pure joy. And her bedspread went from white to gold. "How is this possible?"

Aunt Perry smiled, "It shouldn't be able to happen should it?"

Stacy shook her head, "No, it shouldn't." The blossoms all faded from the tree and the room went white and stark again.

Aunt Perry shrugged her shoulders and then started to sing. As she sang the patch of carpet under her feet became the blue of a mountain lake with a ripple circling out from where she stood. As if she had been a stone tossed into the middle of the water. "Should or shouldn't never stands a chance against does." Then she stepped out of the room and the blue faded away. "When you are done, come downstairs, dinner is ready."

Stacy stood for a moment looking around her bare room. Then she started to sing and recite poetry and quote lines she knew from movies. As the colors filled her room again and again she felt the magic of the house and of her Aunts all around her.

That summer she made it almost 3/4 of the way through the library. She set her watch by the sundial. She spent part of everyday sliding in her socks in the playroom. She laughed every time her father lectured her Aunt Bets about the addition they were talking about and most importantly, she learned that should or shouldn't never stands a chance against does.

It was the best gift anyone ever gave her.

Saturday, January 5, 2019


...just a rambling post.

I've been surfing the web for a bit, did some shopping, did some reading, did some furniture planning and was ready to log off when I thought...

I've been sitting in front of the computer for ages and not written, I should write.

So here you go. Me writing.

So I've been having fun with The Witches in the Wonky Tower. I'm not sure how much more there will be to that story but considering it all came from a random thought about cracked foundations and a joke title I'm not mad about whatever might or might not come from it. I don't know if I'll work on it more for awhile because this next week I am going to, brace yourselves, PAINT THE LIVING ROOM!


I'm a little shocked too. But I had the wall repair done and the retexturizing is white ugly patches so it is forcing my hand. Which I knew it would and that was part of the plan. I had the repairs in the basement done as well and then had them paint that. Which was great because it got it done, but was not great because I do crisper edge work than the "professional" did. So when I work on the living room I'll be doing some edge work in the basement as well.

And that painting is part of what led to the online furniture shopping. So far for the basement I've had an idea, framed some pictures for the walls and painted the walls to look good with those pictures. You know, the way normal people design rooms. Or not...

Thinking about the fact that to get the living room painted, years after choosing the color, I had to come at it sideways. I know it will look better when it's done. I know it's actually not even that hard to do, it's just two walls after all. But I still couldn't get up enough give a damn to actually do it. Until I did something else that made ignoring it impossible. Which I highly suggest for a lot of things.

Look around at the projects you really do want to get done and see why you aren't doing them. Then find something else that can be done that would force your hand and do that instead. Need new clothes? Throw out the old ones. Seriously. That ratty old underwear that you really need to replace? Toss it out and you will be forced to do it. Those jeans that are too big or too small? Get rid of them. Naked or shopping is a choice you will have to make. Make a deal with yourself or better yet someone close to you that you can't do X (whatever you REALLY enjoy) until you get Y (that project looming over your head) done. And then follow through.

Or don't.

Look around at the projects that you really do want to get done and ask yourself why you aren't doing them. Could it be because you really don't care about them? You just think you should? There are things that I kept on my "To Do" list for ages that I finally dropped off because I realized that I didn't really care about them. They didn't mean anything to me. I wasn't going to be happier or more organized or better off in any way having them done than I was right now. So off they go. Don't waste your time on things that are just not that important. Look at your lists and clear off the things you don't care about. It's just as satisfying to wipe them off the list because they aren't important as it is to wipe them off the list because they are done.

Oh, and just so you know...the paint color I picked for the living room all those years ago? I'm not painting the living room that color. I've changed my mind. BUT I did paint the basement that color so I don't feel badly for that poor swatch that has been just waiting for its moment of glory...

I'll post pictures when it's all done so you can enjoy the finally painted moment with me...

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Witches in the Wonky Tower Part 2....

The year she turned 12 was the year that the top floor of the house became the second highest floor in the house. She still remembered pulling around the corner as the birthday cake house came in to view.

"Oh they couldn't have! For Pete's sake!" Her father saw the house first.

"Oh that's really interesting." Her mother caught sight of it next.

"Wow. It's a...well..." Stacy wasn't sure what she was seeing.

"It's a DOME! They've built a dome on top of the house! Why in the world world in the world did they?" Her father was sputtering now.

Aunt Bets met them in the driveway, she was already smiling.

"Paul, Sally, Stacy! We've missed you!" She held her arms out for hugs and kisses.

"What did you do?" Her father was not to be distracted.

"Well, Gloria needed an new observatory, the tree is too thin at the top to support her telescope and with the solar eclipse happening, this just made the most sense."

They had planned their vacation to be with the Aunts this year for the solar eclipse. It was going to be full totality over their house. Her mother said it always was, which didn't make sense at all since the path of totality changed every eclipse, but Stacy just smiled when she said it.

Her father stepped back away from the house to take it all in, "This does not make sense. How is it even stable on those things?"

Those things were doric columns coming from what used to be the top floor of the house. On top of the columns was a new floor to the house which had a dome shaped roof. Looking at the house now the columns made it seem almost more wedding cake than birthday cake, but she still liked it all.

"Well we needed the columns to make sure the floor would be level, Paul, don't be silly."

"Oh of course I wouldn't want to be silly." Her father was truly exasperated now.

Aunt Gloria came out of the house then, "Oh lovely you are here! We don't have much time to get set up. Sally, we'll bake some tomorrow I promise, today is going to be too filled! Stacy? Please go inside and find your Aunt Perry. She needs some help carrying things to the observatory."

Stacy hugged her Aunt Gloria on the way by and went searching for Aunt Perry.

"Wait until you see what we've done with the place." Aunt Perry said as soon as she saw Stacy.

"I can't wait to see the inside!" Stacy took the plates from her Aunt and followed her upstairs.

On the bedroom level of the house there was now a spiral staircase where the fireman's pole had been. "It's only temporary, but we didn't think your parents would want to climb the tree to get to the observatory. And this makes it easier to carry things as well."

They took the spiral staircase to the library. Stacy smiled and wished they had time to read a little.

"I have a few books about the eclipse right over there," her aunt gestured toward the door, "Please grab them on our way out."

Stacy added the books to her stack of plates and they went out the door. The staircase led them around the house to the door of the tilted room but now there was another set of stairs that continued around to the what used to be the top of the house.

What Stacy couldn't see from the ground was that this wasn't just open space between the floors. The columns lined the edges of the roof leaving the center open. It was a large open space, much higher than what it looked like from the ground. The floor had tile inlays that made a compass rose with a spiral staircase in the center of the floor that led to the observatory. But that wasn't all. There were planters everywhere so the space looked like a garden and there were four porch swings hung, one facing each cardinal direction.

"We will come swing later. They are magnificent. You feel like you are flying."

Stacy couldn't wait. As she walked up the staircase she noticed that there was more than just the compass rose in the tiles. There were numbers.

"The staircase is a sundial! It's really very wonderful. Your Aunt Bets designed it all and Aunt Gloria made sure the calculations were exact and I chose the colors!"

Stacy already knew she would be spending a lot of time on what she now would call the garden level. It was probably going to be her second favorite level after the library. But then she saw the observatory.

There was a glass dome as the roof so it was completely open to the sky. There were murals of the constellations circling most of the walls except for one space where there were, Stacy counted very quickly, 30 orange and red circles. "What is this?"

"Wait and see!" Her aunt practically giggled at her. "Wait and see!"

There was low shelving with paper for note taking. There were books on astronomy and some on astrology as well. Which Stacy tucked a little to the side before her father could see them. There were pillows on the floor just perfect for lounging on to stare out of the dome. She could just imagine what it would be like at night time.

"Yes, we can." Her Aunt Perry smiled at her.

Stacy laughed. She had just been about to ask if they could sleep up there sometimes.

Just then her parents and her other Aunts joined them. Each carrying a tray or a pile of books or dishes.

"Right on time!" Her Aunt Bets declared. "Everyone find someplace comfortable to relax for a while. I've got passages marked in these books that we can share."

Her mother was smiling, ready for the adventure. Her father was trying not to look impressed. "I need to go back down and get the eclipse glasses. I left them in the suitcase."

"Paul, Paul, Paul, did you think I would design an entire observatory and not have eclipse glass?"

Aunt Gloria touched a button on the wall and the glass dome darkened and shifted. "You can safely watch the whole thing now."

"You made the whole dome out of eclipse glass? How is that even possible?"

"Settle down, it's starting. Perry? Are you ready?"

"Oh I am!" Aunt Perry picked up a sheet from the counter and walked over to the wall opposite the circles. She slid it into a holder that Stacy hadn't noticed before and then pointed out what she had done.  It was a pinhole viewer for the eclipse. The holes in the pinhole lined up perfectly with the yellow and red circles on the wall behind her. Thirty little shadow viewers.

"Why did you make that if we can just watch?" Stacy asked.

"Because there is more to life than just watching. Set the timer!"

"Timer set!" Aunt Gloria replied.

"The timer will chime every five minutes. Starting now." Aunt Bets announced.

The first five minutes passed with them all settling in and getting comfortable. When the timer chimed Aunt Gloria put a piece of tape over the first pinhole on the cut out. "Can you see it?"

Stacy looked closely and could see just the barest sliver of shadow covering the sun. "Yes!" Then she turned to look at the wall behind her. Her Aunt Perry had taken a charcoal pencil and traced the shadow line on the second yellow orange circle on the wall.

"OH! I see!"Stacy's mother was very excited. "It will be a mural of the eclipse!"

Stacy's father tried again not to look impressed but he was failing. Each time the timer chimed they would cover a circle on the chart and Aunt Perry would shade a circle on the wall.

They watched the shadow move across the sun and when the point of totality was reached a loud gong sounded somewhere in the house. Aunt Gloria hit the button and the eclipse glass faded away. "You can look directly at the sun for the next few minutes. The gong will sound again when I need to put the shade back in, but for now, look. Just look."

The sky was amazing.

The stars came out.

The glow of the sun threaded out in jumps and lines from around the shadow of the moon.

Stacy got goosebumps.

Aunt Perry colored in the shadow and then stood with her sisters hand in hand looking at the sun.

"There are things in this world and out of it that are so beautiful we can only stand to see their edges. Today we stand in the sunlight and in the moonshadow and we celebrate the unknown and the unknowable."

Aunt Gloria then handed them each a moon cake and cup of sun tea.

"Eat and drink and renew your faith that the light always returns even when the dark is unexpected."

Stacy had looked it up, the totality would last for 6 minutes over the birthday cake house. But time seemed to warp here like it did in the library. The all stood in awe of the ring of fire in the sky. Eating their sweet cake and drinking their tea. The timer went off for Aunt Perry to color her next circle, then the gong for Aunt Gloria to bring the glass back to safety.

They stayed in the tower and watched the shadow make its journey back across the sun. When it was complete they stayed for awhile longer. Talking about what they had seen, marveling over Aunt Perry's new mural and eating the leftover moon cakes.

Even her father had been impressed.