Archive for October, 2012

My heart goes out to my Jersey Shore. Not the one that Snooki made famous. I’m talking about the peninsula between two rivers, the bay bridges that flew our flag after 9/11, the Stone Pony where my son’s band held court, the small businesses, the boardwalks and dunes, the beach clubs, the people. It’s the people, the friends I’ve made who knew me when, who are suffering now and I feel their loss.

In NJ we had to try and keep our kids inside on Mischief Night, the night before Halloween. It was not an easy task, if they wanted to teepee somebody’s tree or throw eggs on another’s car, chances are they managed to succeed. Sandy made mischief of that beautiful coastline with impunity. While watching CNN in Nashville on Nana duty this morning, I see that the Nashville Red Cross is sending volunteers to Tinton Falls, NJ – the same building where thousands stood in line on September 11th. I’ve talked and texted my way through. A tree missed a car by inches, the tide crept one house away. No one has power, no one. I’m thankful the Rocker and Ms Cait evacuated Asbury Park to my MIL’s house; I’m afraid of what they will find when they return today.

But as cabanas floated out to sea, and long generations of fishermen lost their boats, their homes and their livelihood, I was happy to hear that Gov Chris Christie called our President’s response to the storm “outstanding.” http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/10/30/christie-not-interested-in-photo-op/
“The president was great last night. He said he would get it done. At 2 a.m., I got a call from FEMA to answer a couple of final questions and then he signed the declaration this morning. So I have to give the president great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done — as far as I’m concerned — a great job for New Jersey.”

That’s what Christie said on Mischief Night, yesterday. It’s mad to think of politics during a crisis like this. Sandy’s death toll is now up to 50, and with live wires down and gas lines disrupted, many residents are being urged to stay away a few more days. Sometimes, I feel as if we’re living in a nightmare of gigantic Climate Change proportions. And it doesn’t help that I’m reading “Cloud Atlas,” by David Mitchell http://www.reviewsofbooks.com/cloud_atlas/review/. It’s such a dystopian horror show, encompassing so many time periods, that every so often you think it actually could happen. That’s the trick of sci-fi, cut very close to the truth.

We are genetically altering our food, we can clone mammals, it’s just a few more steps to a Corpocracy – hey, with Citizens United, we’re already there. Today people are searching for an open gas station so they can run generators, if they have them. Tomorrow we may just need Soap so our fabricants can fall asleep. “Certainly the vacant disneyarium was a haunting frame for those lost rainy landscapes.”

So bring it on Halloween, just try and scare me now you sleep-deprived new parents!


Read Full Post »

The weather gods are predicting a one in a hundred year storm. When we moved back to NJ and bought a Mid-Century Modern Jetson-style ranch in Rumson, the realtor told us we’d have a flood once in a hundred years. We then had the December 11th No Name Storm almost 20 years ago, exactly one month after we moved in. The full moon was aligned with the rising tide.

Our old kitchen appliances went sailing down the street in brackish river water from our garage, and since we were out of state at a conference, our children had to be rescued…along with the babysitter. The babysitter who left the Corgis to fend for themselves in the laundry room. They never named the storm because it caught everyone by surprise.

I am hoping and praying that all my friends and family, and everyone who is living on the east coast in the track of this super storm named Sandy, will be safe. If you are thinking of evacuating, then please pack up your essentials and consider heading west. Now. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did!

Read Full Post »

It’s that ghoulish time of year again. Sometimes, I honestly wish we had been Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is no conflict, they just don’t celebrate All Saint’s Day. They view it as a pagan custom, and happily go about their business of knocking on strangers’ doors and handing out pamphlets all the time! But in my kid’s elementary school, when everyone would wear their costumes and march about the schoolyard in late October, the JW kids felt bad. I even felt bad for them. Still, what I want to know is when did it become OK to stereotype young girls as sex objects for Halloween?

You’ve heard about the furor of slimming down Minnie Mouse for a storefront display at Barney’s in NYC, right? Well who’s complaining about all these girls and young women, respectable by day, dressing up in Daisy Dukes on Halloween? I only remember dressing up as a “Gypsy” back in the 50s, in a long, full skirt. That was exciting enough, getting to wear make-up and bangles on my arms. Today, once our little girls outgrow the “Princess” phase, at about pre-puberty, who thinks it’s just fine to dress like Lady Gaga?

When my children were little, I was that much hated crafty mom. I had a sewing machine and knew how to use it; I actually made many of their Halloween outfits. The Rocker’s best was Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Bride made a nifty Wonder Woman. All of a sudden, somewhere in middle school, all bets were off. Monsters and madonnas littered the schoolyard. But I do remember one girl dressing up as Amelia Earhart. You had to have a lot of confidence to fight the culture of sexism that surrounds our kids. “You can’t be what you can’t see.” http://tedxwomen.org/speakers/jennifer-siebel-newsom/

Siebel, in this video, says she wanted to get away from the media push for power and strength outfits for boys at Halloween and soft, passive-princessy things for girls and dress her small children as gender-neutral animals. So she chose a lamb for her daughter and a lion for her son. She then saw the joke, it is a subtle thing, this sexism. I remember feeling that way when the Bride was small – where are the female super-heros? The Love Bug will be a giraffe on her first Halloween, because we have always had a fondness for “long, tall blondes.” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/tall-blondes/introduction/2253/ You will find giraffes roaming free all over my house! And her Uncle and Ms Cait?
Zombies of course!

Read Full Post »

I live down mountain from the President who first proposed we Americans should be happy. TJ actually penned it right there, in our Declaration of Independence, that we must feel free to pursue happiness. There are just 2 problems – he didn’t define happiness, and we didn’t start measuring it until 1972. And strangely enough, we Americans seem to maintain the same score on this scale no matter what party our President belongs to, only about one third of the nation is “extremely happy.” http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/america-the-anxious/

Why so glum? Well last night this word nerd was impressed with how many times Mitt used the word “tumult.” I felt like I had fallen into a time warp, even the President had to remind him that the Cold War was over 20 years ago and this isn’t a game of Battleship! Tumult is a word from the last century. Sure these are tumultuous times, Arab Springs are quickly getting frosty. The Islamic world is more dangerous now than anytime in recent history, and electing a guy who seems to auto-correct his platform on foreign policy would be more like “malarkey” to me.

One thing that will always make me happy is going to the movies. In another instance of art imitating life, we saw Ben Affleck in “Argo” over the weekend. It was brilliant, right down to the set and feel of 1979. The juxtaposition of the actual photos next to the movie stills from the Iranian Revolution at the end only added to the power of the film. The attack on our Embassy in Benghazi is still fresh in our minds, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/timeline-of-events-comments-surrounding-attack-that-killed-4-americans-in-benghazi-libya/2012/10/20/ef5addbe-1a89-11e2-ad4a-e5a958b60a1e_story.html and only added to the terror of watching angry actors in Argo scaling the walls of our Embassy in Tehran.

When we walked out of the movie theatre, Bob turned to me and said, “If our involvement in that rescue mission had been made public, Jimmy Carter would have been re-elected.”  Interested in researching the 444 day occupation of our Embassy? http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/documents/hostages.phtml It was fascinating last night to see Mitt’s newer, softer approach to Libya. Maybe he realized that trying to win political points in the midst of a national crisis is not very Commander in Chief-like.

The Bride was barely eight weeks old when the Iranian hostage Crisis began. We only got one channel on TV late at night in the Berkshires, and there was no internet at the time; the newspaper was our window to the world. My memory was filtered through a new mother’s eyes. I remember being sad when Carter was defeated. Like McGovern, he was a man you could trust, a man of peace. I like to think we are a people who can learn from history. And since the Arab world is in such flux, now more than ever, we need to keep our respected world leader in the White House.

For a little comic relief, to improve your level of happiness for the morning, why not follow-up on Gov Mitt’s auto-correctness? http://www.damnyouautocorrect.com/category/best-of-dyac/

And don’t forget to vote! 

Read Full Post »

Once upon a time, in a town between two rivers, we had 2 Welsh Corgis. One was the mama, Tootsie Roll, and Blaze was her son. When I opened the door in the morning, they would zoom out in perfect Blue Angel formation, zig-zagging across the yard warning all creatures great and small to stay clear of our territory. Our Vet was Dr Poole, and his daughter Heather was our dog sitter. Here is a painting my sister Kay did of the dynamic duo.

Heather was studying Chinese Medicine in NYC, and so we were agreeable subjects for her acupuncture needles. It wasn’t until we returned from a long trip, to an elderly Tootsie’s tepid reception, that we realized she had been practicing massage on our dogs. It was as if Toots was saying, “What, oh, it’s you again?” No happy, jumping, slobbering kisses for us!

Naturally I jumped at the chance to learn dog massage when our wonderful friend and vet, Dr Barbara Butler, offered a workshop this weekend: “Therapeutic Massage: Chinese Wisdom in Your Hands.” She brought along 2 of her beautiful and very well mannered English Setters, Pearl and Rusty. We learned that “An Shen” and “Tui Na” are methods that originated in different parts of China, but today are used simultaneously to describe all manner of animal massage. Dr Barbara showed us how to calm our dogs during a thunderstorm by rubbing gently in the hollow behind the ears. She also demonstrated how to massage the bladder channel running down a dog’s back to improve their health and well being. Earlysville Animal Hospital will post the diagrams of a dog’s meridian points in the near future. http://earlysvilleanimalhospital.com

Targeted massage can reduce pain, and help with muscle spasms by increasing circulation. It can also soothe joints and connective tissue in geriatric or arthritic dogs. It’s almost like yoga for dogs, an immediate stress reliever. Since our own special needs rescue pup has hip dysplasia, I was eager to try it on her. Ms Bean’s eyes glazed over and she immediately had to lay down. Thank you Dr Barbara and also Dr. Emily Kinnaird, her able assistant, and the staff at Earlysville – the best little animal hospital in central VA! Oh and thanks to Pearl and Rusty too. I have to think they returned to their farm for a nice long nap!

Read Full Post »

It’s turning out to be a very slow day. First I woke up to Ms Bean barking on the back deck, and looked out to see another hot air ballon coming our way through the morning fog. Can you see the mountains starting to turn orange?

Then I started researching New Zealand. http://www.newzealand.com/us/Places/?cid=p:con:us:specialinterest
Why? Because we had a lovely dinner last night on the mall with a new Emergency Physician Bob is recruiting from Richmond and her husband and some friends, and we talked about New Zealand. They were lucky enough to have been there and have me convinced it is the next place to see! Of course, it’s the last place on earth where an ancient nearly extinct lizard can be found, so…

And then, I started making a new Shutterfly book. How the hours just whiz by when you’re combing through baby pictures. Shhh, it’s a secret, but a certain Great Grandmother believes that pictures need to be held in one’s hands, and not viewed in small phones or on computer screens! I love Shutterfly, even though their constant barrage of emails can be off-putting. http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books

So don’t hate me because I’m procrastinating. Yesterday I showed up at the Albemarle County Office Building and voted early for the first time in my life. I’ll be in Nashville when our nation goes to the polls. It’s an important election! We women want our grand daughters in Brag Books – not binders after all!

Read Full Post »

My Father was a pharmacist in Scranton, PA. Although I never knew him, he died when I was 7 months old of a brain tumor, I’ve heard a few things about him over the years from my siblings. He was very tall, very smart and crazy in love with his children. He didn’t trust hospitals, he thought they may be linked to polio; remember people thought you could “catch” polio in a swimming pool at that time. And he never kept any drug in our house except aspirin! Every pharmacist in the 1940s was a “compounding” pharmacist. My sister Kay had to help him mix drugs with a mortar and pestle when his headaches were severe and he lost the use of one arm.

Today, most pharmacists count pills into bottles that have been manufactured elsewhere. And most work for huge chains like CVS or Walmart, they don’t own their own store. Sure they have to be computer literate, they have to be able to read whatever a doctor or NP or PA writes, and they must know their chemistry. They may even need some social skills. But I really started feeling sorry for them last year when I got my flu shot at a big box drug store. It was late at night and Bob was insisting, since his hospital had not received the vaccine yet. She was a pretty, young thing and naturally we started talking while I took off my jacket in a private room behind the pharmacy.

She opened up to me about her long commute, the terrible hours, that she is currently working two pharmacy jobs, her terrible boyfriend, and the other two degrees she had before getting the Doctor of Pharmacy degree and becoming certified. “Ten years of school so I can do this,” she said as she plunged the syringe in my arm. Later I googled “pharmacy jobs” and found that many can be part-time so the company can avoid including benefits and that the rate of pay doesn’t increase over time…ie, no possibility for advancement. And now this:


In the past couple of weeks, a flurry of emails went back and forth between the Bride and Bob since most cases of fungal meningitis occurred in TN and VA. The outbreak is not limited to epidural steroid injections. The FDA has recommended anything made by that MA pharmacy (NECC) be pulled from shelves, which includes a numbing gel that ER physicians commonly use on children before suturing. It’s called LET for a combination of lidocaine, epinephrine and tetracaine. While checking for the list of NECC’s recalled products, I was referred through the FDA to this rather long list: http://www.neccrx.com/List_of_all_products_manufactured_since_January_2012.pdf

Unlike a bacterial meningitis, fungal infections have a slower start and a longer life, but it seems that the outbreak may have peaked at over 200 infections and 15 deaths, the last being reported in PA. http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112713625/fungal-meningitis-cases-214-101612/ I’ve been thinking about my Father lately. Here he is standing in front of a Valentine window display at his drug store.

Read Full Post »

It’s been a most intriguing weekend so far. Our anthology of stories from bloggers around the country, “Tangerine Tango,” arrived in a sweetly smiling brown box. My essays are sprinkled in among other women who manage to find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of everyday life. My brother, Dr Lynn, has already downloaded a Kindle version. Thanks Jim!

And the Bride has been published too. Remember that child she took care of right before the wedding, when she was on a toxicology rotation? Remember the brown recluse spider bite? It was a heartbreaking moment for all of us who knew; wedding shenanigans were immediately put into the proper perspective. I was on another platform back then, but her paper just came out in their professional journal this month, Annals of Emergency Medicine. I am so very proud of her.

I wish I knew that the Dalai Lama, who was here visiting Cville, had scheduled a talk with medical professionals at UVA. Bob said the tickets sold out in 2 minutes. I met a woman who heard him speak about being vulnerable, about bringing compassion into their relationships with patients. “His holiness emphasized the importance of paying attention, being mindful, and giving a patient a sense of hope, peace and satisfaction with their life, especially at the moment of death.” http://www.nbc29.com/story/19794898/dalai-lama-charlottesville

Although I missed his lecture, I bought his book “Beyond Religion.” The Dalai Lama writes: “The fundamental problem, I believe, is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/02/beyond-religion-dalai-lam_n_1125892.html

And I attended a half-day Yoga/Dance Workshop. It was exhilarating to be in the company of women who could create peacefully and nurture our inner artist. We talked about the difference between setting goals and having an “intention” for our time together – one is future-based while the other is grounded in the here and now. How soon we adults forget to play together. And this morning’s Love Bug update? Learning to play!

Read Full Post »

What do you do when you’re confronted with a mopey mood? Maybe you didn’t sleep that well because there is a new little human being in the house trying to tell the difference between night and day. Or maybe it’s just a dreary, rainy sort of morning and you woke up to find you were out of milk for your coffee. You might even be anticipating a lackluster VP debate? Well if you were Peter Rabbit, you’d decide you need a change of scene! http://www.npr.org/2012/10/11/161708397/emma-thompson-revives-anarchist-peter-rabbit

This wonderful little character, who first debuted in 1902 just a few years before the Flapper was born, is being brought back to life by the Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson. She is the first person to be authorized to continue the story of the little bunny since 1930, after Beatrix Potter’s death. I didn’t know that she writes too, but Thompson says that she loves the Victorian language. For instance, where we might say we found a cheese sandwich in our lunch bag, Thompson says, “…inside wrapped in brown paper were some excellent sandwiches of cheese and pickle.”

I agree with Thompson when she says, “I think the first words that enter you when you’re very small have a hugely powerful, potent impact on your relationship with language. And to have had Potter as a child did me — not to make her sound like spinach or anything — a lot of good because she’s such a brilliant writer.” And of course Peter Rabbit is a bit of an anarchist, like a little rebellious child who wants to do the exact opposite of what his parent’s think are good for her or him.

So today, in honor of Peter Rabbit, why not do something slightly dangerous? Break a rule, go on an adventure. “Action and adventure” I used to call those mopey days with small children. After all, even a trip to the park can be like going to the circus for a small child. Maybe in my next life, I’ll come back as a children’s literature author? I have a wonderful idea for a book about a big white dog named Buddha. He loves his life by the beach where he sits under a magical huckleberry tree. Or maybe I should just write it for the Love Bug?

Read Full Post »

Finally, Fall has arrived. Someone once said that a person’s favorite time of year is related to their birthday, which makes sense. Our whole lives we have been celebrating our birthdays, or at least until we’d rather forget them, and so we’ve become conditioned to “like” that time of year. It’s true in our family; the September babies love the Fall and the August babies adore Summer. Thought I would share this little kitten’s morning picture. She was born on a seasonal cusp, but I can already tell she has a preference for furry sweaters.

I wonder, will the Love Bug’s birthday party happen before school starts or after? This is a very big question since school levels the playing field and expands potential invitees. It will most likely depend on which part of the country our children decide to live in, whether school begins before or after Labor Day. I have pictures of birthday parties in 1950s Victory Gardens, they were small affairs with everyone wearing pointy hats, sitting around the kitchen table. Think about your Mother’s kitchen table. You’ve started back in school and the days are getting shorter. You joined a bunch of kids off the school bus, kicking leaves and slowly meandering your way home. You walk into the house and it’s warm, almost too warm compared to that crisp Fall day. But the smell of cooking is the first thing to hit you. It surrounds you and you melt into it.

My foster mother Nell stayed at home. Her generation was almost required to stay home if the husband could provide for the family. She once told me she worked for a short time at a store before she married, but she never learned to drive and so she was marooned in our little house. She seemed happy to me, but I wonder now. Her gift to me is priceless. Taking me in, loving me like I was her own child. And her comfort food can still make a bad day better. She made “Haloopkeys” (I have no idea how to spell it) – a Slavic dish of stuffed cabbage with pork and rice and cooked in sauerkraut, served up on a formica table with chrome legs. Every culture has a stuffed vegetable delicacy. And every person on earth has a memory of their mother’s kitchen table.

My Fall Table

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: