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Granted, I’ve never kept a gratitude journal. I tried once keeping a diary, in middle school, it was pink and had a pretty lock and key. When my older brother found his way into it, I decided it wasn’t worth keeping after all. The Bride, however, did like writing in a journal consistently, at least in high school and through most of college. I think it was a way to let off steam in her highly competitive world.

But years ago I did follow Oprah’s advice and try to list, in my mind and sometimes aloud with Bob, three things every day I was grateful for, every night before going to sleep. Some nights the list was easy; 1) I saw two juvenile foxes playing in the backyard, 2) The mole isn’t cancer, 3) My son’s band released an awesome album.

And sometimes finding things to be grateful about was harder; 1) The sun came up, 2) The rice didn’t burn, 3) A hospice nurse was at the wrong house. Some days, it feels like nothing is going your way, but especially on those days, it’s important to find something, anything to turn your mood around.

Which is why it seems like Thanksgiving is just some arbitrary day on the calendar to be grateful. Why shouldn’t we be grateful every day? After all, we may have been saved by Native Americans on that First Thanksgiving, but then look what we did to them. We brought them plagues and pox and then we herded them off their sacred land.

We’re not with our Big Chill family this year because we were expecting a grand baby in Nashville. Our little guy came three weeks early and his other grandparents, along with Aunt Jen and Uncle Dan, will arrive tomorrow to sit at the Bride and Groom’s table. It’s their first Thanksgiving, but Bob and I will get the turkey in the oven early in the morning like we’ve done for decades.

And tonight I’ll make a gratitude list, and instead of telling Bob, I’ll tell you: 1) I’m grateful my little Love Bug said she needs me to help her play Pictionary – Dada draws a picture and we guess what it is; 2) The Preschool Thanksgiving was the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time; and 3) I’m so happy to hold our little grandson in my arms. And I could go on and on. What are you grateful for?

"Mama you are a princess and I'm a ballerina" the Bug

“Mama you are a princess and I’m a ballerina” the Bug

Ten Travel Tips

Will you be traveling this week for Thanksgiving? Take it from me (she says while passing into another time zone), and make your time spent sitting in planes, trains and cars more pleasurable by following these tips:

1) Don’t transport a pet. Even if it’s the sweetest little pet in the world. At some point some TSA agent may ask you to take said pet out of its carrier and then all bets are off.

2). If you must transport a pet, go directly to your Vet and get Xanax.

3). Stay hydrated. Most old folks get into trouble when they change their routine, and an ER visit may be the result. So keep drinking, whether you’re thirsty or not.

4). Try something new, like AirBnB! Why squeeze your aching back over Great Grandma’s sofa bed, when you could easily book a sweet Zen retreat with a hot tub on the deck?

5). Take a baby aspirin, or two! It’s better not to have a blood clot spoiling the fun of football games and leftover turkey sandwiches.

6). Download all your favorite podcasts; like This American Life, Serial and TED Radio Hour. And consider buying a mophie – this is a gizmo that allows you to recharge your devices’ batteries….right, without using that plug in the wall.

7) Practice your response to conservative Uncle Joe’s rant about Executive Orders and immigration. Remind him that Grandpa Sam came over on a boat

8). Pack a pair of sandals. Even the most comfortable shoes can create blisters when you least expect it.

9). If you’re traveling with children, any rules you have about time spent online should be forgotten. Come to think of it, throw out all the rules.

10). Don’t travel this coming Sunday! Just say NO.

Safe Travels everyone!

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Frat Boys

The talk of the town is last night’s article about Greek life and the nuanced acceptance of a rape culture at UVA. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119?page=6

It’s a long and grueling read interspersed with an old Rugby Road drinking song which was only recently banned from football games. It tells the story of a First Year girl who was brutally gang raped at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party in 2012. She tells her friends and a Dean and is gently persuaded not to press charges for a myriad of reasons – her reputation, loyalty to the school and fear of not rushing a sorority, ruining the boys’ lives and on and on.

Last night that fraternity house on Rugby Road was vandalized. I imagine some group of angry young women was seeking revenge. President Sullivan has issued a statement that appears to be too little and way too late.

I was a freshman at Emerson College in 1966 in Boston. But we had a curfew in our dorms and the trolleys and underground MTA stopped working at midnight. It was a different age, but the drinking games at MIT across the Charles were the same. The consequences were a bit different. Girls got married quickly pre-birth control. Some obtained illegal abortions and had their fertility compromised. Some may have been raped, but I didn’t know or hear of anyone victimized in that way.

And Time wants to ban the word “Feminism.”

It’s hard to read that young men can still behave like they are entitled to sexual favors simply because they belong to an elite Greek brotherhood at this prestigious public university.

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Techno Wizard

OK, so I’m not as bad as Great Aunt Bert, who once asked me where my blog “goes?” In fact, for my age, I think I can keep up with most technological advances, with a little help from my kids, my hubby, and a certain friend in MN (Thanks Steff). But I failed miserably on this online test of my favorite and most prolific author, Margaret Atwood. http://www.theguardian.com/books/quiz/2014/nov/18/margaret-atwood-75-quiz?CMP=twt_gu

Happy Birthday Ms Atwood! She is ten years my senior and she IS a techno wizard. For instance, do you know the answer to this question – “Which piece of technology did Atwood invent?” Hint, it’s not the She-Reader!

And just to preface this piece about techno skills, you must know that I’m not nor was I ever an earplug kinda girl. Remember those Apple ads of kids running around with earbuds in their ears all happy and dancing? Well, that’s one thing I missed the memo on; when I walk I like to hear birds, when I bike I read the New Yorker in the gym, I work-out to my own inner music. I look at the scenery, I want to be connected to my environment, not hooked up to a device through my ears.

However, on the mind-numbing drive to and from Nashville, alone, the Bride turned me onto podcasts. Much safer than trying to change books on CDs while passing trucks, my iPhone plugs into the car’s stereo for hours of compelling journalism. Beats right-wing radio jocks every day. And the latest thing she has me hooked on is “Serial.”

Billed as the 1999 murder baffling millions, and created by the “This American Life” team, “Serial” is like having a little Agatha Christie along for the ride. Only it’s non-fiction. And before I even had a chance to explain the story to Bob, this podcast was making national news. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenkilloran/2014/11/13/the-serial-podcast-is-eating-us-for-breakfast/

I inhaled/binged on seven episodes in the car even though they are released every Thursday and now have the UVA Innocence Project team involved. It’s a Romeo and Juliet meets West Side Story whodunit. And if I lost you at “podcast,” have no fear. You don’t need earplugs, or a car with a plug for your smart phone. You can listen on your laptop http://serialpodcast.org

I’m talking to you, big sister Kay. I know you can jockey your MacBook like a pro, and you finally broke down and bought a DVD player, and thanks for allowing me to put you on Facebook (a mixed blessing). I’ll always remember Kay’s story of trying to buy our Nana a refrigerator in Scranton, PA, when she was perfectly happy with her ice box! Will Serial or Netflix be the next frontier? Come to think of it, I think you need an iPad like Great Grandma Ada!

A Tale of Two Sisters (before smart phones)

A Tale of Two Sisters (before smart phones)

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Cheatin the Hustle

Months ago I heard about a nifty new strategy for robbers and thieves. They would roll up next to your car at the gas station, and while you’re busy filling up your tank with gas (just ignore this my NJ peeps, everyone else in the states has to pump their own gas) the bad guys will drive up next to the passenger side of your car, and in one swift move jump out, open up your door and boom, snatch your purse right off the seat! Seems like easy pickins, right? So I’ve been locking my car doors while gassing up ever since, just in case.

But one time in Nashville I didn’t see this hustle coming. The Bride was outside her car filling up the tank, while I stayed inside in front talking to the Love Bug in the back seat. All of a sudden there was a young girl at my open window telling me a sob story about how she had to get somewhere and just needed a few bucks for gas. Naturally I gave her a five dollar bill for gas, and later the Bride told me I’d been had. In retrospect, she did look like a meth addict, but hey.

But I was not surprised this past week. In the middle of my zombie/like/9hour/driving/trance on my way back from Nashville at a Sheetz, I was struggling with the monitor on a gas pump. It took my credit card info and I was about to enter my zip code when it asked me if I wanted a car wash??? Normally I’d press the “No” button – only there was NO “NO” button! So I’m trying to figure out how to get back to the initial screen, when all of a sudden a man who I can only describe as a lunatic is staring me right in the face.

With my car locked and only a gas hose between us, he starts telling me how he needs some money to get back to West VA!This guy, who looks like the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart, hauls a big red gas can up for me to see and what? fill it up for him? I can’t even get my own gas, which is what I start yelling at him – “I can’t get this damn thing to work, so NO…” and he gets out of my face in a hurry. Probably the first crazy Yankee nana he’s ever encountered! As I drive out of the Sheetz, I notice a beat-up van with a woman who looks like the wife of the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart sitting in its open door. She’s holding one of those cardboard signs with a message I didn’t read.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice? In retrospect, maybe I should have called the police. But I’d already called them on my drive to Nashville about an aggressive driver who almost ran a car off the road right in front of me. I didn’t need to become known as the interstate watchdog/vigilante/nana, so I found a Starbucks, which is like finding an oasis in the desert on that trip, and refueled my engine. One non-fat, Chai tea latte later, and I was home free.

"Yeah so then what happened?"

“Yeah so then what happened?”

They are searching in Orange County today for Alexis Murphy and another missing girl. The last place Alexis was seen was at a gas station. Maybe NJ has the right idea after all?

Are You a Busy Bee?

On our very first outing with my new baby grandson, the Bride and I were perusing Lululemon in the Hill Center. It was a warm day, the door was open and a slight breeze blew colored leaves at our feet. The Bride was looking forward to practicing yoga in a few weeks and getting her post-natal groove on. While she tried on yoga togs, I had a nice time chatting with another grandmother from Kansas who was taking care of a two year old who just happened to be in preschool at the time. Then while checking out, the fit, handsome young man tallying up our purchases, looked up and had the nerve to ask us,

“What do you have planned for the afternoon?”

“Well, we’ll have lunch, then I’ll feed him (pointing to the stroller), then we’ll pick up the two year old from preschool,” the Bride said with a smile. ps, never ask a nursing mother anything about feeding her child, for the obvious reasons. And pps, never ask a woman, ever, what she’s planning on doing with her day, or for that matter what she did all day, because,
A) it’s none of your business, and
2) you don’t know her and you don’t really care anyway.

Maybe my Jersey came out, but I don’t like the implication. It’s a semi-paternalistic, passive-aggressive question that suggests we had nothing better to do on a weekday than shop and dine. After all, I couldn’t reciprocate, I knew what he’d be doing with the rest of his afternoon; he’d be right there behind that cash register asking inane questions.

Which leads me to this wonderful article my niece posted on Facebook about the Dis-EASE of being busy all the time. http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-disease-of-being-busy/7023?page=1
I was guilty when my kids were little. The Bride had to write me a note about not having time for ballet, what with piano and horseback riding, etc. And the Rocker asked me not to schedule him for any more sports teams, before asking him first! I love the sentiment from the Persian culture, in their language they don’t ask how busy you are, which is what we mean when we say, “How are you?” They ask how your heart is doing

It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Having a new baby at home cuts through that disease – we no longer need to appear busy, because in fact we are very busy. Nursing, cuddling, changing diapers all the while toilet training and teaching and feeding and loving a toddler, not to mention laundry and husbands and grandparents and friends who come to visit and cooking and…

There is a new yoga studio opening up in Nashville, specifically for young moms and children called Blooma.http://bloomanashville.com I’ve often said it was yoga that got the Bride through medical school. I’m pretty sure this new studio is just what the doctor ordered. Take that hipster Lululemon clerk.
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As you already know, we had a Bris this weekend for our new grandson. He was named after his Great Grandmother Ada’s Father, Sam Pinkofsky, who was the first to immigrate to this country with a few scheckels in his pocket from Russia. Sam taught my honey, his Grandson Bob, to love digging in the earth, and to go through life looking on the bright side of things. “Better it Couldn’t Be” was his motto. And this baby boy was blessed with Sam’s Hebrew name, Sholom, which means “Peace” – a a very chill, peaceful baby he truly is!

The Greats flew to our Simcha – a Yiddish word that means a joyful celebration. Grandma Ada, Grandpa Hudson, and Great Uncle Jeff all came from NJ. Friends from Nashville came bearing flowers, beer and gifts galore. And we not only had a delightful, young woman Rabbi, we also had a sweet and talented woman Cantor to accompany this age-old ritual procedure, the circumcision of a son on his his 8th day of life. Our Mohel was a pediatrician from Vanderbilt; the house was chock full of doctors! And though everyone thought it might be his Nana (me) who might hit the floor and pass out, it was actually Great Grandpa Hudson who went very pale and said,

“I don’t feel so good….”

So Hudson hitched a ride by ambulance to the Bride’s hospital. One of their friends went with him, and the baby naming went on as usual. Because in Judaism, life always trumps death, and anyway, Hudson was fine and being a Vet, he was discharged immediately. As most ER docs will tell you, Vets pretty much have to be unconscious before you can admit them to a hospital.

PopBob got back in his plane and flew home to the Blue Ridge, and the Greats all went back North. But I’ll stick around a few more days just to help keep the chickens out of the kitchen.  IMG_1644

 

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