Archive for August, 2013

We all remember our firsts, right? First kiss, first friend, first job, and what about your first car! You thought I was heading somewhere else, right? Well, walk with me down memory lane for a bit, because today is International Bacon Day, and I’m living in the South now; and we consider bacon a major part of the food triangle, or plate, or whatever… , but hey who doesn’t like bacon!

Not sure why August 31st received this honor, probably some meat-middle-manager’s idea of a joke, but it seems to be catching on. And it was seeing how Ford was celebrating the day for all things bacon, offering a special decal for their Ford Fiesta, that got me thinking. All vegans please look away now:     bacon---profile-1377696523

I thought back to Bob’s first car, a Ford Galaxy. It was the 60s, of course, so he and his friends decided to papier mache his little hot rod in paisley! Here is what he had to say about it, and since it’s in a language I don’t understand called auto-speak, I’ll quote,

“It was my first car, a 1960 Ford Galaxy 500, with a 390 cu in engine, dual Holley four-barrel carbs, and a Hurst four-speed shifter.”  Paisley Ford 1969 B

I never got to ride in that baby, we had broken up when we left for college, and he had gone the way of Woodstock. Alas. That’s him in the black shirt upper right, looking like a Sgt Pepper’s cover shoot. You can get a glimpse of the colorful paisley hood in the front of the picture.

I was one of the rare few with a car in high school. It was an ancient red Renault that I inherited from a brother who either went off to college or to a kibbutz and left me in charge of it. It was super tiny for the day, about the size of a Mini Cooper that was swimming around with huge Caddies and their sharp fins.  I remember swerving through puddles and playing that game where you stop suddenly and everybody jumps out and rearranges themselves in the car, like circus clowns. Oh yeah, I packed people into that beauty!

Yes folks, that was the worst of my teenage crimes against humanity. I left it to others to drive across the state line for a beer run, my stepfather was a judge, so that just wouldn’t do.

My moment of grace was when that same brother, Eric, taught me how to start up the Renault on a hill. We pulled up to a stop sign at a very good angle, pulled up that little parking brake, and since i didn’t know any better, I just kept trying. We inched further and further backwards down the hill, until I finally got the synchronization of brake, clutch and gear. Thank you for your patience big brother!

It wasn’t until later that I learned that not “all girls” knew hot to drive a stick shift on the floor. Was the automatic shift invented when more women started driving or something? The Bride informed me that she was the only one of her friends who could drive a shift. Let’s hope our little Baby Bug will have the opportunity to learn about a four speed stick. Here is the cutest 1 year old in her latest big girl ride! Now, go and cook some bacon! photo

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One day after the anniversary of the 50th March on Washington for civil rights, I am struck by a few things.

At the foot of the greatest living Republican President, Lincoln not Reagan, not a single GOP legislator spoke. Sure we heard from three Democratic Presidents, but the Bush league was absent. Health problems, probably.

President William Jefferson Clinton said something that made me almost weep in my car. Since I was driving and not taking notes, it went something like this – “…how is it possible that in our great democracy it is easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to vote…”

And now, for all you cartographers out there, who were wondering if our country’s racial divide still exists in our now post-civil rights era. more fully integrated, land of the free….  Here is a little work of tremendous art, a Pointillism-type of a color-coded map of the USA.

Drawn from our 2010 Census of all 308.7 million Americans. Here is ONE dot per person In this racial profile:

  • White pixels are blue,
  • Black pixels are green
  • Asian pixels are red
  • Hispanic pixels are brown

So play around on the site. Big green dots in rural areas usually mean it’s a prison. Try and find where the blue and green dots intersect to make teal in your neighborhood. Who the heck needs those voter’s rights laws after all?


Here is our weekly Cville’s map done around UVA by the Demographics & Workforce Group at UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

In Charlottesville, 10th Street Northwest shows up as a dividing line between mostly white Corner blocks and the almost all-black 10th and Page neighborhood, and the highest concentration of Asians surround UVA’s Darden School and medical center.



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We’ve all come to that point. A place where there’s no turning back, not enough fuel to land safely at home, but just enough to make it to the next destination. Some people may fold at this point, insist they could never get there, afraid of the unknown, so they’d rather take their chances swimming with sharks. Others may just hover, like Wiley Coyote over a canyon, in their mistaken belief system that the air will keep right on supporting their standing-in-place bodies.

But some keep going. The drums of war are beating once again.

Baghdad is suffering more violence today than it has in years – 1,057 killed last month alone, 50 killed by bombs in the last 24 hours…”More than 4,000 civilians have been killed and 10,000 more have been wounded so far this year, with Baghdad province worst hit.”

I am by no means a Mid-East scholar. But I do like to source my news, to hear all the stories surrounding an issue, to try and not make snap judgements. And that’s why I started reading alJazeera around the Egypt uprising; and I’ve even tuned in to their new American news network, channel 215 on Dish, these past few days.

Because I’d been unplugged in Nashville, and am returning to an inevitable “surgical strike” by our forces in Syria. And I learned that there have been around 20 instances of the use of chemical weapons within the country since the fighting began, which leads one to wonder why the West is responding now? Does a “red line” have to show videos of women and children dying? As one Arab scholar mentioned, “Killing is killing.” How very biblical.

And btw, Russia will veto any intervention proposed to The Security Council, because they think the horrendous attack in a suburb of Damascus on August 21st was actually caused by the rebels. And as I’m listening to alJazeera America, I’m thinking back to my favorite HBO  show of the moment, “Newsroom.”

This fictional newsroom ran a story about Serin gas, a story that proved to be false. And I thought about when the Bride was in Paris during her 2nd semester, about the Serin gas that was used in the 1995 Metro bombings.

And on this rainy morning, I’m really not sure who to believe. Certainly the Newsroom’s General Stomtonovich’s on-air “confession” was cooked by its producer, we saw him do it.

And now the UK has drafted a resolution  “…authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians in Syria.” And we are circling our battleships; the drums are drum drum drumming.

And I think back to the bill of goods we were sold about WMDs in Iraq. And it’s like our whole country has gone out to the edge, once again.

photo 3




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We’ve been driving home now for almost nine hours. And out of all the Snap Judgement and This American Life podcasts we listened to, one struck home. It was about an Arab who lived on the Jewish side of Jerusalem. His newspaper column was titled “Second Person Singular” and it’s just about his life, as an outsider on the inside.

Probably because that’s been my MO. I was the foster child, the strawberry blond, the lapsed Catholic who married a Jewish guy; somehow or another I just never fit in. Belonging is one of those basic human needs; my psychologist brother or MIL could tell you all about it. It’s Maslow’s rule of thumb. We all need to belong.

And yesterday, for the Love Bug’s first birthday, I had to stay in bed with a bad virus. I managed to bake the cupcakes, make the frosting, and even wrap up a couple of curried chicken wraps. I had a few days beforehand to play and cuddle with her, but I was absent for the big event.

But still, what’s important about one day? Every month since she was born, I’ve managed to visit with her, either in TN or VA. Almost every day I talk to her and we FaceTime all the time. I just have to get her to say “Nana” and not mean “No” or “Maybe!”

I listened to her party from my feverish upstairs in-law suite. I felt like an Arab living in the wrong part of Jerusalem. But it was all good. The Bride brought her up for a last minute night night before the festivities, before a little boy knocked the baby gate down on my steps and yelled. “It was an accident!” I snapped this picture.

Happy First Birthday Love Bug.


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It was a rainy day in Nashville. This weekend The Love Bug is about to turn one! Yesterday she went swimming with PapaBob and last night, when the rain stopped, we rockabilled out at another Pickin Party in the park.

We’re planning a birthday menu and baking our famous carrot cake cupcakes with toasted coconut cream cheese frosting.

There’s no time to waste. But first, happy birthday to my wonderful traveling companion in this life! Better it couldn’t be!


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It’s all over the news. The Royal Couple has posted their very first family portrait, with little Prince George all swaddled in sunlight and the Royal dogs (not Corgis btw) posed like bookends. And as usual, this new Royal Dad and Mum are doing things their way. Breaking with tradition, royalswithdogs202way-2d70d30b93779950a5f74576222866817a37caec-s4-c85

“The pictures were taken by Kate’s father, Michael Middleton, in the family’s backyard. The casual images are a departure from the royal tradition of hiring professional photographers for baby portraits.” http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/20/213761688/prince-georges-first-official-photos-break-with-tradition

And this made me think of what the common folk do, at least here in America. We used to run to Sears, or another big box store, to have a suitable portrait done of our wee ones. But this year, for the first time in 60 years, those smiling baby faces behind cloth clouds will be no more. Sears and Walmart unexpectedly shut down their portrait studio operations. “To take the family to a portrait studio in 2013 was akin to taking it to a phone booth to make the day’s calls or sitting it down in front of the Betamax for movie night,” according to Jason Notte on MSNMoney.

So I thought I’d share with you this morning the family portrait I received, along with hundreds of the Bride and Groom’s Facebook followers, this past weekend. They have been faithfully cataloguing the Love Bug’s growth with monthly shots by her semi-professional photographer Dad. But at this wedding in Denver of a high school friend, someone “snapped” or more likely touched this lovely triptych in a botanical garden.  1098150_10201464515316824_686007004_n

DIY has never been easier in our digital age; Apple, Shutterfly, Photobucket, Google and Snapfish make taking and sharing photos simple and painless. I overheard a young girl of about 11 asking a boy if he had “…an Instagram?” He replied yes, he does. Her quick retort, “How many followers do you have?”  And so it begins…

I don’t have lots of Instagram followers, probably not as much as that little boy. But I did get the Groom’s eye view of his family from this weekend, and it always makes me smile.photo



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Yesterday was a busy day. It was also the second day of absolutely glorious weather, a day I’d rather have been enjoying outside instead of waiting in an endless waiting room.

While driving to said room, I was listening to an NPR author interview of Douglas Rushkoff who wrote Present Shock, the modern edition of future shock. He was talking about living in a digital age; about the constant pinging of tweets and Facebook messages that serve only to distance us from real time, face to face contact. We get a distorted feeling of connection; we are caught in an elusive virtual present. http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-illustrated-so-beautifully-you-will-need-to-tell-someone?c=ufb1

The heroine in my current book is certainly not caught in her present. She’s a time traveler, sailing through the buildup to WWII, the 1980s and the flu epidemic of 1918. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is a wonderful ride for a summer read. The NYTimes calls it “Elegiac in tone,” full of intrigue brought on by an elusive doctor treating her for depression. Will Greta take a lover in this life? Will her philandering husband return to her in another? Is her twin brother really dead?

It seems Madonna has optioned the film rights to Andrew Sean Greer’s time traveling book!   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/31/madonna-the-impossible-lives-of-greta-wells_n_3683830.html

“I got a phone call last week. … I think it’s fine,” Greer said. ” … From a celebrity who read the book and loved it so much she called me up personally to talk to me about it. I thought it was going to be one of her assistants who was like, loved your book, she’s interested. Right. She didn’t read it. But oh no, no, no. She called me. She read it. She totally got it. There were a couple other people interested and they sort of all made a deal together, and she’s optioned the rights to it. We’ll see what happens. But it’s fun because it was Madonna.”

Yesterday, I was ready to complain about killing time in a doctor’s office. But my very own Dr MacDreamy saw me right away…so I had to switch my first few sentences above out of the present tense and into the past. And I awoke this morning to another glorious day, one day closer to a certain someone’s first birthday. If only we could slow time down just a little.


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The first time I ever heard about a “meat and three” restaurant was while visiting the Bride after their move to Nashville. In all my time spent in New England, then later on the Jersey Shore, and even here in Central Virginia I’d never heard of the “meat and three.’ But right around the corner in the Bride and Groom’s neighborhood there it stood; a tiny shack that looked like it was about to be condemned, and like the infamous Grilled Cheeserie food truck, it has eluded me ever since.

You are supposed to pick a meat – beef, chicken, pork – and then choose three side dishes from a large assortment. These may include: slaw; fried corn; stewed apples; candied yams; mashed potatoes; black eyed peas; lima beans; collard greens; mac and cheese; you get the picture. Usually it is all served up with corn bread and sweet tea. This place was only open for lunch, but it was always packed with people and parking was a nightmare. It was surrounded by high-dollar, swanky joints that opened at night with $30 entrees and valet parking.

It’s surprising that the Food Channel doesn’t have some sort of segment on this classic Southern theme, unless that Diners and Dives show is supposed to be a way of blending the ubiquitous Northern diner, all shining steel and mirrors with pies in a turntable kiosk, with the meat and three. Its chef is Guy Fieri, who “…hunts down America’s best little-known greasy spoons and samples their can’t-miss menu items.” Although, when I think of a greasy spoon, it’s usually a breakfast place. Still, lunch like a mini Thanksgiving dinner is pretty good for about $7!

Sorry to say, this Nashville mainstay has closed. “The oldest meat-and-threes in the area, was also the most popular. No one would mind the worn floors, dusty windowsills or creaky booths.” It was a place where the waitresses were sure to call you “Honey” and make you feel right at home. http://www.meatandthree.com

Back at home, cooking for two requires just one exemplary side dish imho.  So I thought I’d share my favorite summer side du jour. One day in Whole Foods, I picked up a small container of cubed feta cheese and olives in olive oil with fresh herbs. So I decided to mix that with some chopped organic kale, chickpeas, local cucumbers, fancy white almonds and cherry tomatoes. I sprinkled in some fresh parsley from the deck, and poured on a little truffle flavored balsamic vinegar glaze with a pinch of Crazy Susan’s garlic salt and viola, it’s my Southern Cville side!   photo

It’s too late for me to visit Nashville’s meat and three. But I may have to learn how to bake a chess pie!

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Maybe we need to come up with another type of alert when a teenager goes missing. Let’s call it the Black Cherry Amber Alert. Because while network news has been plastering the pretty blonde face of a 16 year old girl from California who was, granted, horribly abducted by a family friend, our local news story is just that, local.

Last weekend, a beautiful African American 17 year old girl from Nelson County VA was going shopping in Lynchburg and never returned home.  2ileopiAlexis Murphy was looking forward to starting her Senior year in high school; she had many friends and was supposed to play in a volleyball tournament this week. Instead, her white Nissan Maxima was found right down the road in Albemarle County, deserted in a movie theatre parking lot.

“Deputies with the sheriff’s office, the Virginia State Police and agents working with the FBI are all working to locate Murphy…” But what would activate an Amber Alert in Virginia? According to a VA government website:

1) The abducted child must be 17 years of age or younger or is currently enrolled in a * * * secondary school in the Commonwealth, regardless of age, and the law enforcement agency believes the child has been abducted (unwillingly taken from their environment without permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian).*

2) The law enforcement agency believes the missing child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.*

3) A law enforcement investigation has taken place that verified the abduction or eliminated alternative explanations.*

4) Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the child, suspect, and/or the suspect’s vehicle.*

5) The Child must be entered into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) missing person files as soon as practical.

A local rapper, J Willz, posted this “Gone Missing” music video to YouTube (above, please click to the wordpress website to play) trying to bring more attention to Alexis’ disappearance. And I thought I’d post a picture of black cherry amber. Our prayers are with the families of ALL missing children.


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Great essay on body image and daughters…just don’t comment and hit the email notification button…just sayin

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