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Food Police?

When you see an obese child, what do you think? Do you immediately blame the parents, and/or poverty? There is no fresh produce to be found in their neighborhood, or maybe you think the parents are just lazy…What if we make school lunches more nutritious. Let’s get Jamie Oliver into every school cafeteria and teach those lunch ladies how to steam vegetables! Get a communal garden going outside the gym!

I find it fascinating that the GOP is all about getting government out of our way for free enterprise. They start yelling “fascist” whenever Mrs Obama wants to see kids get off the couch and move, or a school system tries to change what a school lunch may look like – don’t tell us parents what to do with our kids! Get government out of our lunch boxes!! We know what’s best for them, and if a parent wants to leave a gun lying around well…and then I picture a two year old yelling I WANT TO!!

Bob tells me he rarely mentions weight to one of his patients, after all he is not a family practitioner. But when he sees a severely obese child, he may say something to the parent in the ER. Because this is such a serious health risk, he risks that patient’s dismal satisfaction score. Not all doctors have the courage to tell a parent they are endangering their child’s health. Luckily, the rate of childhood obesity in this country is finally leveling off:

After a steady rise for many years, the number of calories American children take in each day is going down. Childhood obesity rates, though still too high, have now leveled off, and are starting to go down in some populations. The 5 billion school lunches served each year are more nutritious than they were a decade ago. Children are eating less processed food and drinking less sugar-sweetened beverages and full-fat milk.  http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/30/opinions/clinton-brown-healthy-kids/index.html

So yes, we can put juice in vending machines and model a healthier diet for our youngest children: by including them in food prep and offering fresh, real food; by sitting down to dinner as a family (an almost insurmountable task these days); by going to farmer’s markets or even helping them plant their own little tomato plant in a pot. I’ve mentioned my neighbor Kath the food blogger before. I love the way she has introduced real food to her toddler, he http://www.katheats.com/ways-motherhood-has-changed-me

Still, I think about how my Foster Mother Nell really didn’t cook, she would jokingly say she could open a can. Women in the 50s were sold that bill of goods – TV dinners on a tray, canned vegetables with marshmallows. Life was supposed to be “easy” for the 50s housefrau. They grew up watching their mothers actually grind meat on the dining room table, and wash clothes by churning them through a semi-automated washing machine, or maybe they were hauling clothes down to the creek? Why shouldn’t they get to vacuum in high heels!

And all I ever ate for lunch in high school was tuna sandwiches and potato chips, followed by a cheeseburger at White’s Drug Store immediately after school, with fries dipped in gravy… SO, canned food, semi-fast food, and I was never fat, in fact I made spaghetti for myself at night cause I thought I was too skinny! Those were the days, before babies, before menopause packed on the pounds.

We can all teach ourselves to prepare a healthier diet, we don’t need an RD to work up a meal plan. If there are no markets with fresh veggies in our neighborhood, we could plant some in pots. What we cannot and should not do for our kids is model complacency. What my generation had was the ability to walk to school, to go out on our bikes after school and not come home till twilight. We had the freedom to move, which this next generation may lack.

Kudos to the city planners and engineers who are redesigning parks and playgrounds all over the country. And bravo to the police who are walking beats and making neighborhoods safer and crime-free – not by stopping and frisking but by stopping and talking.

And maybe we could have a course at the police academy on nutrition?

Basil is ready for Pesto

Basil is ready for Pesto

The first time I heard this phrase, “The mobility of content,” was yesterday while driving along the most glorious mountain views of Albemarle County. It was a sunroof-open-mobil moment on the good ole fashioned radio. I was listening to NPR and an interview with the creator of Netflix, talk about how they came up with the idea of original content. Most people think “House of Cards” was their first original pilot series. But no, Little Stevie’s “Lilyhammer” was being produced in Norway; they were six months in, when The Boss’ bestie cringed at the idea of releasing all of the Scandinavian mob-driven drama at once. Think of it like a record album, Steven Van Zandt was told, and so we begin.

While celebrating Ada’s 91st birthday, I grabbed her iPad and told her, “You’re gonna love this.” Ada has been a Marriage and Family Counselor for almost as long as I’ve known her. In fact, when she returned to school in the 60’s, thereby creating a role model for all young feminists in the NY/NJ metropolitan area, I had just started dating her son. “It’s about two couples, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play the wives,” I crooned in her ear. I had just finished semi-binge watching “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix, a comedy about divorce loosely, and I wanted her to enjoy it as much as I had. https://www.netflix.com/title/80017537

Now I hate to get prejudicial, but for the most part I’d bet not many octogenarians+ know from streaming content. Ada is unique, in many ways, but her tech skills are particularly excellent. She gets her news online and in paper form, she shares photos and corresponds via email, although she prefers actual phone calls! She can Facetime with her Great Grandchildren in Nashville, and now I’ve got her on Netflix! We only watched two episodes of “Grace and Frankie” while I was there,  but I’ve got a feeling this woman who wrote her dissertation on humor in conflict, will become addicted in no time.

My guilty pleasure is watching “Bloodline” late at night when Bob’s working the evening shift. I’ve plowed through all the original content Netflix has to offer, “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and yes, I even started out long ago with “Lilyhammer” when we first got our Apple TV. I can watch Netflix on a plane, on a train, or even in the rain. I don’t like to watch on my phone however, even though “Lawrence of Arabia” has been watched on cell phones worldwide more than any other content. Imagine that.

But “Bloodline” is skeeving me out. It’s Shakespearian in its ethos, a family tragedy enfolding in the beautiful Florida Keys. If you want to see what drug/alcohol addiction is really like, how it can corrode character from the inside out, just watch Ben Mendelsohn play the “bad” brother Danny. And our Albemarle neighbor, Sissy Spacek, is compelling as the Rayburn family matriarch.

“Bloodline” is cleverly constructed, but a lot of the mystery hinges on Danny. Mr. Mendelsohn (who made his name in the United States in the Australian crime drama “Animal Kingdom”) is suitably inscrutable — his character is a quicksilver manipulator who can seem benign one second and malevolent the next. His good looks are bleached out by bad behavior, and only his smile, wryly sweet but fleeting, restores his boyhood charm. At his best, Danny seems well-meaning and misunderstood; at his worst, he looks a little like a middle-aged Robert Durst.     http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/arts/television/review-bloodline-on-netflix-depicts-a-family-with-nasty-secrets.html

Since we can carry our entertainment with us, wherever we go, and now not just with Netflix, but Amazon, Hulu, Google and even HBO will be streaming content, http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/best-media-streaming-sites-services/ I wonder how this will change story telling. Or is a good story a universal thing of beauty, passed down in its oral tradition from generation to generation, since we could paint an image on a cave.

Scene From a Birthday

Scene From a Birthday

Kinda makes up for that Supreme Court decision that gave Bush a second term, doesn’t it? Just when we think politics is all smoke and mirrors, something like this comes along, and renews my faith in our old republic. Confederate flags are coming down, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, and love in all shapes, sizes and genders wins! To honor the SCOTUS decision on #MarriageEquality, Facebook friends turned their profiles into one long stream of colorful rainbows.

And an old friend posted this lovely sidebar:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/26/justice-scalia-suggests-asking-a-hippie-about-gay-marriage-heres-how-to-find-one-near-you/ It’s funny because the only person who still talks about Hippies in my life is Ada, and now it’s more of a funny, wistful look back at her life raising three sons in the 60s.

Leave it to Chief Justice Tony Scalia to make this analogy, and I’m trying to decipher his meaning here, about Justice Kennedy’s albeit sentimental ruling. We should just ask a “Hippie” what he thinks about the ‘freedom of intimacy” or in other words, in Scaliaworld of Hippie-past, we should all just have us some free love.

He first quoted the majority opinion, which said that “‘the nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” Then, he added, “Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage.” “Ask,” he added, “the nearest hippie.”

Well first of all Tony, I think that spirituality kinda means religion, for those of us not tied to a church. The Post article was so hysterical, I had to share it with my very own Hippie-in-Residence, Bob. His first response was that old Tony is “…an asshole.” His second response was, “Did you see where Hippies live?”

Oh yeah, The data Estately used to round-up their Hippies was based on these variables: “The number of communes and intentional communities per capita in each state, the number of food co-opers per capita in each state, the number of local Etsy stores per capita selling hemp, patchouli and tie-dye products; and the percentage of Facebook users who express interest in the Grateful Dead, Phish, cannabis, tie-dye, peace, LSD, Bob Dylan or hippies.” 

And of course, my Old Woodstock alum mentioned that Vermont was the number one state to find a Hippie! And it just so happens the Rocker will be playing the Friendly Gathering festival in Timber Ridge, Vermont tonight on the Wood Stage with The Parlor Mob http://www.frendlygathering.com/#about

So for all you reformed ex-Hippies, new-age Hipsters, and just plain folks looking to rock out hard, why not take a road trip to the Green Mountains and get your Mob on? http://www.parlormob.comparlor-mob

An interesting word, “contempt.” It implies dishonor, and three more D words – disdain, disgrace, and one may even result in being despised. It’s a strong word; if you should find yourself in contempt of court you may find yourself in jail. But contempt is a step beyond the worst case, like despair trumps depression. Which is why it was so contemptible for an Alabama Congressman to use such semantics on a radio show recently.

Republican Rep. Gary Palmer told a radio host he thought it was too soon to be calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the SC memorial in front of the state house. He just kept clinging to his Southern tradition as he elaborated:          “…people that have an agenda seeking to exploit a tragedy…to me, that’s beyond contempt.”

Now granted, I’ve taken my time trying to exploit this particular tragedy, one in which a white supremacist zealot sat in on bible study in a black church in Charleston, SC for an hour, and then executed nine people in cold blood. When I saw the picture of that deranged 21 year old, my first thought was, “He’s crazy as a loon.” And news junkie that I am, I followed right along with the debate. Should this be called an act of terrorism, or a hate crime? And I think you know which side of the fence my sentiments were falling right? Because to me it’s no worse to kill someone in a house of worship than in their own house – or in a Kosher market or a movie theatre – or in a college or an elementary school.

Why has no one asked the important question over Father’s Day weekend? Why did the shooter’s father buy him a handgun for his 21st birthday?! Most parents can tell when their kid is going off track, and from all accounts this particular young man was sending out all kinds of clues. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the mentally ill will always be with us, but how crazy are we Americans for not doing something about gun violence in this country! We had a legislator in this state who was attacked by his psychotic son, with a knife, because guns had been taken out of the home. Can we not agree on background checks at the very least? http://mountainmornings.net/2014/01/26/political-willpower/

A debate about the Confederate flag only serves to pollute the waters. Yes, I agree the Rebel flag belongs in a museum. I was semi-shocked to find it flying on houses in rural parts of the South still, but that involves private property and if I want to fly a cardinal flag outside my house I have that right. Do we fly a Nazi flag outside the Holocaust museum? A blogger I admire, who happens to be African American and Jewish, posted a comment online that the erosion of voting rights in the South should be our priority, and not where or what is on a flagpole. And I get it, I really do.

When our President must use the N word to make his point, and shrugs his shoulders to show he has little political leverage or will left to fight the gun lobby, well I just wanted to cry. That was after listening to the families of the #Charlestonshooting forgive the killer. What should we forgive him for exactly? I’m getting out my rosary beads, and this will be my prayer:

 “Forgive us Lord for letting this happen again and again and again”

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I was going to write about Father’s Day. About all the great Dad episodes over the years in this family. Instead, it was becoming a list of Mommy fails:

About how I never wanted to say to my kids, “Just wait ’till your father comes home,” and then one day I did. About how I quit  teaching the Bride how to drive. After she hydroplaned her way through five trees and over the Hope Road sign in the rain, Bob gallantly picked up the pieces of my shattered psyche, and taught her how to drive.

But maybe that’s the point? When we’ve had it up to here with the mundane, daily life of children, housekeeping, cooking, laundry, driving, pet care and generalized nursing duties. like picking bees out of the Rocker’s clothes, well a good Dad knows when to step into the fray. The 50s are gone and Father Doesn’t Always Know Best, but it would behoove him to know how…

To calm a frightened child at night

To cook a meal, or pick one up

To do the dishes

To help his child learn to ride a bike, and drive a car

To tutor/help with homework, including advanced math and science projects

To encourage critical and creative thinking

To not mix colors and whites in the laundry

To ease the passing of an old dog over that rainbow bridge

To remind his wife that everything will be alright, again and again, and that she has a partner in all this

And to stick around until that time when it’s just the two of them again, and they can lean on each other

A Good Husband and Father will bend with the wind, above all he must not be rigid and set in his ways. He will put his family first, ahead of his career. He will protect them at all costs. And even if he was hit as a child, he will never hit his children or break their spirits. He would never use words or discipline to humiliate them. And if his Father left, or he never knew him for some reason, this Father will be doubly determined to never abandon his family, he will ride out the storm of life. He will be like that Israeli fruit, the Sabra; an Israeli born citizen named after a prickly pear – tough and treacherous on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside.

I remember dancing with my Foster Father, or really standing on his feet while he twirled me around the kitchen. There was a dogwood tree outside the window, and he would whistle a tune and sometimes play the spoons! I remember playing gin rummy with him almost every night, for pennies. I remember his little presents for me every day when he returned home from work at Picatinny Arsenal – a flower, a pretty rock, or a colored pencil. Ada always said he was a hard act to follow and she was right.

Fatherhood today can be a challenge, a paradox. But when it’s done well, the outcome is pure love. When your children yell, “Watch Daddy, watch me,” all they need is to know that you love to watch them: climb trees; play an instrument;, swim without swimmies; or ride a bike. All they need is your presence. So sleep late all you Dads out there, put down your devices, and then remember to play and have fun tomorrow! Oh and Bob, your second and third Grand Daddy acts are priceless!IMG_1753

Once upon a time, a girl named Rachel Dolezal thought she was black. She sprayed on a tan and permed her hair and that was that. She worked towards racial healing and social justice, until her really mean white parents spilled the beans, which left us feeling flat.

Poetic justice? Karma? What we think about Rachel says a lot about who we are. How does one forge an identity? Politicians of old would play up their status as first generation immigrants. You could be proud to be Italian, or Irish when in truth not very long ago, your last name meant you would be unelectable. I was so proud when Jack Kennedy was elected President. It proved that not all Irish Americans/Catholics were under the Pope’s thumb. 

But Rachel was passing as an African American. She lied and said her father was black. No one has mentioned that not very long ago, light-skinned black women might pass as white. Reconstructing themselves to fit into the class and culture of the majority in order to gain access to all that being white in the early Twentieth Century had to offer. 

So does that mean that today being perceived as black, or mixed race, is more empowering for young white women, offering them more economic and cultural opportunities?

Can we wear our identity in the same way we pick our clothes? I don’t think so. Being true to our “authentic self” is the first order of business in the world.  We might study Spanish, dye our hair black, and live in Puerto Rico, but if our parents and grandparents immigrated from Sweden to MN that doesn’t make us Latino. We can assimilate a certain culture sure, and if we marry into that culture/race the chances are pretty good our children will be able to check that “mixed” box on their college applications. But we are still unabashedly pasty white, no matter how much we may like the music and food of a different race. 

Today is Ada’s 91st birthday. Many in her generation changed their names or even denied their Jewish heritage in order to live in America without prejudice before and after the Holocaust.  Just look at Madeleine Albright. But not Ada, she fought to keep her identity, and when our little Happy Bud had his Bris, I could tell that she was pleased. 

When we all melt into the American pot, sometimes we miss out on the spices that make us the most enticing and liberated country in the world. We need to embrace our differences, add some pablano peppers and cardamom so that we can grow as a nation

Eventually we will all check the mixed box, or maybe that question will no longer be asked – no one race will be marginalized – and then we can truly be “post-racial.” A beautifully pregnant young ER doctor in a Mexican hat does not make her Mexican. 

  

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