Guest Post: Tanqueray and Tulips

By Rebecca Borman

Many years ago I was in a church choir. I was an alto, and of course all altos sat together when we rehearsed. I usually sat next to a lovely woman whose name I wish I could remember. But I do remember quite a bit about her. Like me, she was a high school English teacher, and while we weren’t close friends, I gleaned a lot of wisdom from her. She was very down to earth, and a devoted teacher. She taught in the public school system, whereas I was teaching in a Catholic school. So, while the state-wide teacher strike didn’t include me, because I wasn’t in a public school, she was affected. I recall some of our conversations around that time. The “strike” was something called “work to the rule,” meaning that teachers would go to school and teach, but per their union they were not allowed to do any work at home. It struck me as typical that the teachers’ idea of a strike was to work only the hours you were paid to work. But even that was too constraining for my friend, and she would smuggle papers home in a large purse, so that she could grade them at home. I’m sure her students didn’t appreciate that as much as they should have!

Anyway, she and I usually arrived a little early for rehearsal, and we dutifully took our seats in the second row, the first row being for the sopranos, naturally. We often sat next to each other, and as soon as she sat down, she checked the chair in front of her. If it didn’t have a bar between the back legs, she’d switch it with a chair that did, because then she could rest her feet on that bar. “Creature comforts,” she would say to me. She used that term often, referencing small things that made her life just a little bit better.

It is a philosophy I whole-heartedly agree with. Sometimes, like when there’s a pandemic going on, it’s hard to find much to be happy about. But, creature comforts definitely help. The other morning, I went to Safeway for their “seniors only” shopping hours. (Thank you, Safeway and all grocery store workers.) Fortunately, I found some things I really needed, like the dish soap I was almost out of (ok, a very expensive organic brand, but still). I purchased some pasta which I hope is not whole wheat. I grabbed the last jar of off-brand peanut butter. These are not exciting items, but they were necessary. And then…I wandered over to the liquor section and bought a bottle of Tanqueray gin, because I’ve been hankering for a martini since Nana Kris posted a picture of one recently. From there, I went to the floral department and purchased some beautiful tulips, my favorite flowers. Tanqueray and tulips are my creature comforts. They won’t keep me from getting sick, and they aren’t going to enable me to enjoy the many fun things I had planned over the next few months. But they make me happy; they lift my spirits.

Never underestimate the power of Tanqueray and tulips, or whatever your creature comforts might be…..

Saturday Smile: Ya Gotta Laugh

Facebook has been full of funny memes written by men and women trying to cope with home schooling their little darlings. The respect for teachers has risen astronomically. Rightfully so.

I was with my niece Maggie and her kids, Austin and Lilly, geocaching yesterday afternoon. As tradition holds, following our successful adventure (three finds out of four tries), we got into the drive-thru line at Sonic. We weren’t the only one with that idea, and so we were in line for some time. Maggie checked her texts, and started to laugh.

She received a text from one of her girlfriends who is tackling home schooling her two little ones. According to her, one of the kids was protesting the amount of cutting Mommy was requiring. I hate cutting. My hand hurts. You’re making me cut too much. And so forth. Her sibling got tired of hearing the whining and responded by asking What do you do when you have to cut at school? Do you whine like this?

The friend then told Maggie that the argument quickly became a wrestling match between the two kids.

I’m calling that fight P.E. her friend concluded.

Hang in there mothers and fathers. It will end sometime.

Have a great weekend…..

Friday Book Whimsy: Light Changes Everything

I first met Sarah Agnes Prine — the main character in many of author Nancy E. Turner’s books — in These is My Words. In that particular book, Sarah tells her story about life in the Arizona territory in the late 1800s through a diary she kept of her daily life. I found Turner’s writing to be lovely, and her protagonist Sarah to be, well, fetching.

Since we live part of the year in Arizona to escape the winter chill of our Colorado home, I loved learning the history of my adopted state through her tales. Having done a bit of traveling in the state, I could easily recognize the areas about which she spoke. The characters in the book felt familiar as well.

Subsequent to reading These is My Words, I have read every Nancy E. Turner book written. No surprise then that I was delighted to learn that there was a new novel with Sarah Prine as a character. However, the  Light Changes Everything, rather than being about Prine, is about her niece Mary Pearl Prine — as gritty and determined as her aunt Sarah.

Mary Pearl is a teenager who is smart, a talented artist, and determined to make a mark on the world. She accepts a marriage proposal from sleazy lawyer Aubrey Hanna, but insists on putting the marriage off until she returns from studying art at Wheaten College, the college she attends (thanks to financing from her family) in Illinois. The education she receives teaches her about the finer things in life, but doesn’t change who she is at the end of the day. And thankfully, she escapes life with Hanna.

Turner paints a stark and honest picture of life in the frontier, when the western states and territories were young. Facing such hurdles as snakes and unbearable hot weather and greedy men, Mary Pearl, though not the eldest of the children, is the strongest.

I love Turner’s writing and storytelling. And I love to read about life in the frontier west. It makes me glad to be living in the 21st Century.

Here is a link to the book.



Thursday Thoughts

We’re Back in the Desert
Bill and I really debated as to whether or not we should return to AZ from our time in Denver over this past weekend. We needed to go to Denver so Bill could see his PD doctor and receive a refill on his pump medication. The refill required a visit from this particular doctor, as he runs the study in which Bill participates. We weighed the plusses and minuses of staying in Denver or coming back to Phoenix. Suffice it to say that the Return-To-Phoenix scenario won out for a variety of really good reasons. Our plane on Tuesday was only about half full, allowing us our choice of seats. We chose two in the way back, away from just about everyone. We also washed our hands in the neighborhood of a billion times. Oh, and I had one of these for late lunch (after wiping the stem with my handy-dandy disinfectant)….

The martini was ice cold, and the bleu cheese olives added a nice twang. There’s something about a 2:30 p.m. martini that makes you feel naughty enough to feel good. And anything that can make a person feel upbeat in this environment can’t be bad.

Virus Prevention
I’m trying to think of something besides this COVID-19 situation. Aren’t you just sick of hearing about it, and even sicker having to live it? It’s interesting to see how businesses are reacting and how people are responding. At the airport restaurant where we ate lunch on Tuesday, our server was wearing rubber gloves. I appreciate her attempts, but it occurred to me that unless you change gloves after ever personal encounter, the gloves are pretty much just like the hands. In fact, you might wash your hands more often than you would change gloves. Still, I give our server an A for effort.

Under the Gun
Dave and Jll spent the past couple of weeks traveling in the Holy Land with a church group. As the days went by, and as borders kept closing and COVID-19 victims increased, their travels became increasingly nerve racking. Finally, a few days before they were scheduled to return, they learned that the country of Jordan was closing shop. After a lot of work by a lot of people, the group traveled from Amman, Jordan, via Dubai, UAE, back to the United States of America. They landed at Denver International Airport sometime around 3:30 Denver time yesterday. I imagine they will spend the next couple of weeks in quarantine, and kissing the American soil (and their kids). God is good, and this blogger thanks everyone who helped bring them home…..

Quarantine Baby
For the most part, I am handling the social distancing situation fairly well. It helps that I have a husband with whom I can talk if I get lonely. And I was happy to see my sister Bec’s face at my door yesterday. But it’s the little things that are going to drive me crazy. Like WHO IS GOING TO CUT MY SHAGGY HAIR?


Murder Most Foul-er

This post originally appeared on October 1, 2019

A day or two after I blogged about my television binge watching habits, and in particular, how I was leisurely watching Midsommer Murders because there were 19 seasons on Netflix, Netflix announced that the program would be removed from their network October 1. At that point I was on about Season 9.


So I commenced to sitting down and watching episode after episode of the program. For the entire month of September, every afternoon and into the evening, I was parked in front of the television, watching Inspector Tom Barnaby, and then when he retired, his cousin Inspector John Barnaby. I watched the parade of sergeants that helped the Chief Inspector(s) solve the murders, all the while wondering how a small community like Midsommer could withstand the loss of four or five people each episode. I dreamed about Midsommer. I began talking with a British accent. I couldn’t stop craving bangers and mash. I would get into the passenger seat of my car, looking for the steering wheel.

Finally, Sunday I felt I simply couldn’t watch another episode. I was at the end of Season 17, and realized that I couldn’t eat another fish or chip. But I’m not a quitter, and I wanted to find out who would replace DSI Nelson. I wondered if the Barnabys would get another dog to replace Sykes. Would little Baby Betty Barnaby finally sleep through the night? So, I compromised. I began watching the first and last episodes of the remaining seasons. The first episodes would let me know if there was a new Detective Sergeant whose name and personality I would have to learn. The last episode would provide any surprises for the next season.

In my blog post about binging, I mentioned that the murders that took place in Midsommer were quite cozy. Maybe a thump on the head or a poison slipped into a cup of tea. But as the television years progressed, I realized that the murders were becoming more and more violent. Brutal, really. It went from a bump on a head with a cricket bat to being run over with an army tank or killed by bites from dozens of poisonous snakes. Really yucky stuff. Nevertheless, I powered on.

But watching the increase in sheer horror as the episodes progressed got me to thinking about our appetite for gore. In 1997, when the first Midsommer murder took place, we could handle a cup of tea laced with strychnine as a murder weapon. By 2019, we were lapping up murders committed by shoving a sharpened stick through into one ear and out the other.

Perhaps it’s because the outside world is getting more and more horrific, but it apparently takes darker plots and more violent murders to get us to pay attention. The same is true of sex scenes, even on television and sometimes even in programs that are in the 7 o’clock time slot. Often when Bill and I are watching one of the programs we like, a scene will make me uncomfortable. That’s when I will turn to Bill and say, “My, we’ve come a long way since Rob and Laura Petrie slept in separate beds.”

I know I sound like my grandmother, but it still seems to me that we are sacrificing clever plot lines and characters and dialogue and replacing it with sex and violence.

By the way, even though Chief Inspector Barnaby and Detective Sergeant Whoever-It-Might-Be face grislier murders, they still do it without a gun in sight. Just sayin’…..


This post appeared originally on January 27, 2015.

Alfre Woodard as TV's State of Affairs' President Constance Payton

Alfre Woodard as TV’s State of Affairs’ President Constance Payton

For most of my grown-up working life I was a professional communicator of some sort. I was a reporter, I wrote and produced newsletters, I was a media spokesperson, and so forth. But there was never any doubt that the aspect of my job that I liked the best was that of legislative liaison.

For one thing, I was so proud that I could spell the word liaison, with that extra “i” and all.

Anyhoo, in that position, I worked with legislators and their staffs on the local, state, and federal level. As a result of this job description, I traveled to Washington D.C. on numerous occasions and met Colorado’s U.S. Representatives and Senators. I’m not lying when I say I met with the members, as I think I actually met each one who served while I was legislative liaison. However, I must admit to you that I mostly worked with staff members, who (you will not be surprised to learn) actually do all of the research and analysis – the work, really — and are approximately 20 years old. And smart as hell.

I was thrilled to have such an exciting job, and the job came with lots of perks. Great restaurants for entertaining staff, opportunities to hear well-known political analysts speak (yes, it’s true; I’m a nerd), passes to watch the Supreme Court in action (you don’t have to pay, but you do need a pass to get in). Once I was able to sit in on a Senate Committee where I watched Colorado Senator Wayne Allard listen to testimony about, oh, I don’t know, something. The point is I was able to see and do LOTS OF COOL THINGS that most people will never have a chance to see and do.

I recognize how lucky I was.

Having said all of this, I will finally get to the point.

Without a doubt, the coolest thing I did in all of my years as a professional communicator was visit the West Wing of the White House one night after 10 o’clock.

Now, don’t start panicking. I wasn’t one of those people you have been hearing about  who have been leaping over the White House walls and getting so close to the president’s residence that they are tromping on Michelle’s organic vegetables and drinking Gator Ade out of the Obama’s refrigerator.

I had what is, in the world of professional communicators, technically called an in. I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend who was the correspondence secretary for President George W. Bush. As a result of her position, she had permission to give tours of the West Wing of the White House after important work was finished for the night.

And since, if you will recall, George and Laura hit the hay by 9 o’clock each night, that meant it was a go by 10 o’clock unless Russia was invading the Ukraine or some such distraction leading to a late bedtime. No entertaining famous Hollywood stars at wild parties during the Bush years.

I had to pass a background check, of course. And then it was a go.

I stood inside the Situation Room where decisions about wars and other military actions have been made for years. I sat in a chair in the conference room where you see the president meeting with his/her staff in all sorts of television programs. The TV show West Wing comes immediately to mind. I wasn’t able to walk into the Oval Office, but I was able to stand in the doorway and look in. I can’t tell you how thrilling that was for me. I walked down the oh-so-familiar portico by the Rose Garden, and the president and Laura’s bedroom window was pointed out to me. The light was still on, my friends, and it was probably 10:30. A wild night for the Bushes.

Probably most fun for me, however, was visiting the press room where I had witnessed an unknown number of press conferences from an unknown number of presidents and their press secretaries over an unknown number of years. There I stood, clutching the podium, with the familiar White House logo in the background. My friend snapped my photo.

That photo sits in a frame on my desk, and I look at it often and always feel the same sense of awe that I actually stood where so many famous people have stood. I told you, I’m a nerd.

Recently 6-year-old Kaiya was in my office and caught sight for the first time of that photo. With absolute dead seriousness, she cried out, “Nana, WERE YOU THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?”

Only slightly tempted to say yes, I instead admitted I wasn’t, but that I was standing right where the president stands when she sees him on television.

I guess that is about the height of my status with my grands. It’s downhill from here. I may not have been the president, but I always have Oreos in my cookie jar.

No Oreos

President Barack Obama. No Oreos.



Nana Kris. Oreos.


Was Norman Bates Second Born?

This post originally appeared on November 8, 2017

I came across a study recently that caught my attention. Not one to be overly concerned about birth order, I normally wouldn’t even bother to read the article that cited the study. But here was the headline:


So, for obvious reasons, I felt this story about birth order warranted a gander from this second born kid.

It wasn’t even like the story was out of National Enquirer. It came from National Public Radio, and the study was conducted by some economists from MIT (all undoubtedly either bossy first-borns or youngest kids looking for attention). The study looked at second borns in Florida and Denmark. Florida and Denmark? I wonder why they didn’t look at second borns in South Dakota and Romania, or maybe Kentucky and the Netherlands. Why did they pick Florida and Denmark? But I am getting distracted.

Apparently these second-born Floridians and Danes are somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 40 percent more likely to commit serious crimes or cause other kinds of unlawful mayhem. While first-borns have higher IQs, perform better in school, and earn higher salaries, second borns are earning crappy grades and barely making a living.

The reason for this apparent contrast according to these first-born economists? Parents are focusing all of their attention on their first-born child and sending the second born kid out to search for scraps. Just be home before dark so that you don’t disturb your brother or sister. Well, I might be exaggerating their findings a bit. But the gist of what I just said is true. They say the parents are less vigilant with their second-born child because they want to make sure their first born prince or princess is excelling in school, taking music lessons from a maestro, and being tutored by an MIT economist. Again, I might be exaggerating a bit.

But this part is true: The study author said that “the role models of the eldest child are his or her doting parents while the role model for the second-born is a spoiled older sibling.”

While I can’t vouch for every second born in the world, I can tell you unequivocally that I AM NOT A CRIMINAL. Despite my blog post on Monday about how I am a pretty good liar, I am unceasingly honest unless there is a surprise party involved or someone asks me if these pants make them look fat. When I applied for a job at Circle K in Denver when I was 20 years old, I had to take a lie detector test. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if that test was only given to second borns….). Anyway, I passed with flying colors. They even directly asked “Have you ever stolen anything while at work?”. I could quite honestly answer no to that question. It’s true that up until that point, I had worked only for my dad at the bakery and he would have kicked my butt if I had stolen money (how are we going to pay for your older sister’s ballet lessons from Anna Pavlova if you steal money from us?)

And I certainly have never killed anyone. The closest I have ever come was when I chased my sister Jen around the house with a butcher knife when I was 10 and she was 6. Perhaps I’m lucky that she ran so fast or I might be supporting the MIT first-borns’ clinical study results. But since the study didn’t say anything about third-borns, I can only assume that they are more likely to be killed by their second born sibling, and perhaps deserve it.

The headline for the next clinical study conducted by MIT will be:


Just sayin’…..

And, for the record, here are faces of some of my favorite second-borns, none of whom are criminals…..

Alastair, Mylee, Micah — all second borns. Well, technically Mylee is a third-born, but her oldest sibling is 15 years older. I think she counts as a second born.

Bec’s second-born Kate (Jojo), Dave’s second-born Kacy, and Jen’s second born Benjamin Joseph. No criminals.

Oh, and two really good second borns. Neither Bill nor Lilly have a criminal record.

I could go on and on…but I won’t. I have to run to the store and steal some Italian sausage.