Archive for September, 2013

This is a letter the Love Bug dictated to me for her parents, who are returning from the Outer Banks today.

Dear Mama and Dada,

OK, first. Life is good here with Nana and PapaBob. I point to things and they get them for me, all the time! Not just sometimes. And we do a lot of walking, I mean a LOT of walking around. And I don’t have to hold hands all the time anymore, get it? Ya!

Mornings from now on will have to start with dog kisses. This Ms Bean dog, she puts her head through the bars in my crib and she kisses me every morning. So even if I wake up with a poopy diaper, the day has a great start. And if I’m really really hungry, they let me have some Puffs in the living room. Get it?

I have learned many new skills. Like how to open and close windows with a crank and crawl in and out of a rocking chair with the dog’s toy and my toy monkey too! It gets crowded but we manage, Nana keeps me from falling out. We also pick flowers on the deck. And we play Mozart and dance in the morning after Sesame Street.

I like to get outdoors in the afternoon. A little fresh air never hurt anybody, that’s what PapaBob says. We watch bees buzz, and clouds and planes fly by, and we like to go see the horses next door. Nana says her friend has alpacas, and I don’t know what they are but I can’t wait to see them.

There will be Mac and Cheese for dinner every night, what’s not to like? And Nana said not to tell, but I DO like chicken mac nuggets. Especially if we dip them in yogurt! And here are some other new foods on my list: Irish oatmeal; white nectarines; hot dogs; cookies. Don’t judge me.

I still like baths the way you do them, although they can never be long enough, right? Just keep the water warm and wait till my fingertips turn into raisins. But try not to nibble on them please. Nana is always nibbling on me, on my ears and my toes. You’d think she just couldn’t get enough of me.

Kisses,  Your Love Bug who misses you boodles!

photo copy


Read Full Post »

I’m flying solo at home for a few days as a Nana. Bob helps out at night thankfully. With back to back Cville weddings, the Bride and Groom are taking a mini second honeymoon this week, leaving the Love Bug with us. What an awesome responsibility. I guess when you’re having your own babies in your 30s, theres no time to think about it. And also car seats and strollers somehow just seemed easier to handle…in fact, i don’t think we even brought the Bride home in a car seat!

I can’t get enough hugs and kisses. The first night was rough, I kept listening for her cry, but she slept right through the night. Guess she likes her new/used crib, a super find on Craig’s List. photoWe take life slow here, we’re on baby time. We walk around the property with Ms Bean, pointing out hawks and clouds. We climb in and out of her rocker and practice going up and down stairs. We have picnic lunches and feel the wind in our hair.

As usual, baby time means I’ll catch up with the news next week. But I did hear about the possible government shutdown, and how President Obama was using “soft power” to try and work with Congress. Fancy dinners and phone calls to gently cajole or persuade those recalcitrant Republicans.

But the White House cancelled their annual picnic. And that may be the problem. Everybody knows, even a baby, you don’t cancel picnics!


Read Full Post »

And I say “Hell no!” My indignation this morning has nothing to do with the five, count ’em, 5 weddings we’ve been invited to this year. I’m actually glad our friend’s children and our children’s friends have decided to tie the knot. I’m equally ecstatic that my niece in MN is finally allowed to marry her partner.

What gets my Irish up is our Republican candidate for Governor – Ken Cuccinelli. If you think our current ultrasound Governor, who will hopefully be indicted soon for accepting boatloads of gifts from a political donor who presumably expected payback https://mountainmornings.net/2013/08/04/a-gift-horse/, was bad, you won’t believe what kind of religious zealot Cuccinelli is; he would like to take us back to the past, long before “irreconcilable differences” became grounds for a divorce .

His record as AG and Senator is indicative of his extreme ideology; he would like to regulate ” who you marry, what kind of contraception you use, and when you can end a bad marriage.”                email20130918.jpg

Luckily, most polls show that his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, is ahead. Not surprisingly, we women really like Terry; “Cuccinelli has a 7-point lead among men, while McAuliffe has a 14-point lead among women in the poll.”
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/ken-cuccinelli-terry-mcauliffe-virginia-governor-2013-poll-96976.html#ixzz2fLhhOlAS So get out there ladies, we’ve got just a few weeks left, October will be here and gone before you know it!

Besides the GOP stand or “war on women,” as adjuncts to men, you know made out of a piece of rib or something, my dander is severely raised when they try to deny science. Because this too is personal. Over the past year, three cousins and a friend have been diagnosed with cancer. They are fighting the good fight, with surgery, chemo and radiation, and I’d like to believe that our legislators will continue to fund evidence-based research at our esteemed public universities. My love and a casserole or a prayer shawl are with them all.  And my vote, for Terry.

I’d like to believe that every marriage will last forever, that every child will have two loving parents of any gender that can afford the time and money to raise them, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/can-smart-economics-turn-us-into-better-parents/279695/ and that cancer will be eradicated in my lifetime. I’d like to believe that love is all you need.


Read Full Post »

This morning it’s overcast and calm. Only the first ridge of mountain is poking up between the clouds. Not like yesterday, when we woke to a clear day and another mass shooting, this time closer to home at the DC Naval Yard.  And if you happened to miss the physician, Janis Orlowski, who treated some of the survivors make her heartfelt plea to end gun violence, here it is:

“There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate,” she said, adding that “I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots.” She added: “Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.” http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/09/watch-dr-janis-orlowskis-moving-plea-against-gun-violence-after-navy-yard-shootings/69471/

If you don’t work in  a trauma center, if you’re not an ER doctor or nurse, you may have watched or listened to the incident unfold with a cynical eye. It’s just another crazy person; didn’t they have to go through a metal detector?; how did the shooter obtain clearance to enter a secure DOD facility? But if you’ve actually seen what a bullet can do to a body, if you’ve had to race against time to save a life, if you’ve had the heartbreaking job of telling someone’s family that your patient, their loved one, has died, well then you understand the problem.

And the problem is GUNS. The epidemic is gun violence. Because that is what’s evil in our society, it isn’t the mentally ill person who believes that a voice is telling him to shoot up a school or a movie theatre. Mental illness affects many of our families and friends, that is inevitable, it’s been around since time began, or Cain and Abel if you prefer. People who suffer from mood disorders through those with paranoid schizophrenia can seek treatment, they can live a normal life. We are the Prozac nation after all.

What we cannot escape is guns – they are sold in parking lots, and online, as if they are candy. They are glorified in film and on TV. I’ve said this before, I don’t need to know why some one entered a Naval facility with a rifle and picked off his victims from an upper landing in a beautiful atrium – the motive really does not matter. Let’s ask ourselves why our legislators could not get a simple background check law passed. Because as we saw yesterday, having more guns inside a facility isn’t the answer.

Yesterday we were a nation in shock again. When I walked out to my car I saw this. photoHow could this happen? Was it another angry bird that flew into my car’s window, a hunter’s gun shot, a deer antler? I live in the woods, nothing was taken, so Bob and I picked up thousands of pieces of shattered green glass. And I thought about the survivors of the Naval Yard shooting, the people who saw the carnage up close and personal.

Today I’ll have my window replaced, but I wonder how long it will take the survivors to put the pieces of their lives back together. And when our nation will stop electing puppets of the gun lobby. Or are we immune now to this, even after small children are massacred in their classrooms, have we become habituated to shock?

Read Full Post »

Holden 09 005 FB

Serenity in a mountain view

August and September are filled with birthdays in my family. The Bride and my sister Kay share back to back birthdays, I call us Virgo/Libra types (you can count me in later this month) – the Christmas party babies! Happy Birthday to them on this glorious weekend.

These two share more than a couple of dates on the calendar. Kay introduced the Bride to art in her New York City apartment. My sister studied at the Art Student’s League and she also helped to illustrate many medical books during her years working at Mt Sinai Hospital and producing graphic art for the Medical School. With sun pouring through her beautiful Upper East Side window overlooking a garden, the young Bride was given a pencil and a blank canvas along with the love and encouragement of her Aunt Kay.

Painting has been a common thread throughout both their lives. After a long high school day filled with too many AP classes, the Bride would settle into her art class and paint along with beautiful music.  My home is filled with drawings from those days. And Kay’s renditions of our farmhouse in the Berkshires, and our beautiful Welsh Corgis will always decorate our walls.

This meditative time, setting up the instruments of art, the pencils or delicate brushes and turpentine, the smells, the easel outdoors, the time alone to ponder and really see – to see their way into a subject – this bit of creation helped them deal with the everyday stress of school and work. It helped them to slow down.

The Bride sent me an article this week about being busy. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_r=1&

Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 G.P.A.’s  make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications. I recently wrote a friend to ask if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn’t have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and I gave up trying to shout back over it.

The author, Tim Kreider, calls this addiction to busyness a kind of hedge against emptiness, an “existential reassurance.”  We impose it on ourselves and it makes us feel important. After all, if we’re always so busy, how can we ever take time off for self-awareness. He posits that you don’t hear people holding down two jobs with four kids complaining about being too busy, because they’re just plain exhausted. Interesting stuff, this monkey brain!

Surprisingly an old friend simultaneously posted an article about being a distracted parent, about always saying, “Hurry up!” to her child. And I could see how this attraction to being busy can get its start. The child who likes to dawdle, who stops to talk with strangers, who wants to engage with her environment soon learns to make a goal and stick to a time schedule. And if she or he doesn’t, they may be labeled “special” in school…instead of “artist.”

The Love Bug likes to stop for ice cream with her parents. Slowing down is something children can either help us to do, or we can teach them how to be anxious. We’re the adult in this equation, it’s our choice.  photo

Read Full Post »

I remember once going out to dinner with the family, and arranged before us on the table were your typical paper placemats. Except that on these cute little mats were a number of what looked like high school portrait pictures. The mats were titled something like “Before They Were Famous.” There in the corner was the key, and you had to match the picture with the star. So long before smart phones and portable gaming devices, long before reality TV produced celebrities, a family had the chance to actually interact by guessing which adolescent girl was now Cher.

Tonight, if you’re lucky enough to live in the New York metropolitan area, or have access to WNET channel 13, http://www.wnet.org, you can tune into a documentary at 10:30 that shines a light on some of our generation’s most acclaimed modern artists.  But it’s like a dream within a dream, because we get a glimpse of the early life of these men, before Studio 54 threw stardust around them, through the lens of a friend and photographer, William John Kennedy.

Full Circle: Before They Were Famous
FULL CIRCLE: BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS is the story behind a series of photographs of Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana taken by William John Kennedy in 1963/64 just as the 2 artists were on the cusp of fame. It includes terrific footage of a rare interview with Robert Indiana at his home in Vinalhaven, as well as moments with Ultra Violet and Taylor Mead.
The Director of the Warhol Museum, Eric Shiner, is interviewed and we gain his insight while we watch the evolution of an artistic icon. But if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the musical score of this film, and those of you who know him may recognize a certain something.  Because the music was created by my son, the Rocker, and like any good mom I’d recognize that sound anywhere. From the moment he picked up a violin in first grade, and our Corgi accompanied him, throughout high school with his band in our garage, I’ve become his biggest fan.
I was thinking about him yesterday, on the anniversary of 9/11. Because I knew where my daughter was; I had called her in DC to tell her what was happening and I knew she had left the federal building she was working in and started walking back to her apartment in Adams Morgan. And I knew where Bob was; he was waiting with rescue personnel at the dock in Highlands, NJ for burn patients who never came. But I didn’t know where my son was. He was supposed to start his first after-high-school job on that beautiful Fall day, and they had called to tell him not to come in, but I couldn’t find him.
He was out at Sandy Hook with his friends on the beach, watching the plume of the Twin Tower’s smoke drift out to sea. And the collective trauma of that day was familiar, that sense of suffering brought me back to 1963 when I learned that our President had been shot while I was in gym class at my NJ high school. What does that say about a generation marked by such a tragedy?
Because even before his band, The Parlor Mob, became famous, before the world tours and the Paris Vogue cover shoots and the iTunes Best Rock Band of the Year award, I was always proud of my son for following his own heart, for playing outside of the lines. As the Bard likes to say, and I may have quoted this in his senior yearbook, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Read Full Post »

In all this talk about Syria, we Americans may be forgetting that the biggest public policy shift in our lifetime is about to take place. The Affordable Care Act is rolling out on October 1st, whether Kerry manages to corral Syria’s chemical arsenal or not. Even though employers of 50 or more get a one year delay to implement a health insurance plan for their companies, and smokers get a one year reprieve from being charged more than non-smokers, Obamacare is scheduled to debut on time with:

“…health exchanges (marketplaces), community-rated health plans, tax credit subsidies, individual insurance requirements, prohibiting annual and lifetime limits on coverage, requiring insurers to accept all applicants without regard to their health status (pre-existing conditions) and limiting how much more they can charge them…” http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/08/delays-pose-big-problem-obamacare.html

What a monumental effort, making health insurance available for all just when we qualify for Medicare! Then I heard about thousands of hospital workers being laid off in TN, and naturally asked Bob what’s up. After all, we Boomers are just the beginning of a tsunami of health-related consumers to wash ashore; how could our country possibly be laying off medical personnel? Of course the easy answer is to blame the government, Obama and all his caring, that’s what the GOP would like us to believe.

Actually, hospitals across the country are massively laying off workers for a few reasons. One big one is the sequester – you remember that courtesy of the Tea Party. Our budget was cut by 1.2 Trillion, that’s trillion with a “T.”  Since nobody on The Hill could find a way to stop The Sequester, Moody had this to say: “…sequestration is expected to lower the revenues of hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers by $11 billion in 2013.” That’s Billion with a “B.”

Medicare under from budget sequestration could “exacerbate an already challenging operating environment for not-for-profit hospitals” that are facing “low revenue growth” from government and private insurers, Moody’s Investors Service said this week. The sequester involves about $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts, including a 2% reduction to all Medicare reimbursement rates, that took effect on April 1. http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2013/04/10/Moody-Sequester-Medicare-cuts-threaten-hospitals

And the funny thing is, well it’s not really funny, but if you happen to live in a red state, with a governor who said thanks but no thanks to the Affordable Care Act, well the chances are that your favorite nurse, or physical therapist, or doctor may not be there is undeniable. http://www.wkrn.com/story/22942014/laid-off-workers-rally-outside-vanderbilt

You decide, is this job loss due to a bill that gives all Americans access to health care? Or is it due to an intractable Congress?DB_medicaid_map



Read Full Post »

When it’s a glorious Fall weekend, with nights in the 50s and the high for the day is maybe 80, we will always meander our way off the mountain and down into the city, to mix and mingle at the Farmer’s Market, aka Cville City Market. College kids are back in town, and because it’s a big football weekend there are Ducks everywhere (Oregon), so it’s shoulder to shoulder energy.

Breakfast included a locally sourced bacon and egg sandwich with organic iced green tea. This is however a recipe for disaster with my visual field deficit courtesy of a West Nile mosquito. Because the sun was merciless, and live bluegrass music was everywhere, I wore my sun hat and therefore couldn’t see (or hear) anything to the right of me. Needless to say, I bumped into lots of friends and strangers!

What got to me this time was the abundance of heirloom tomatoes. I don’t think I could ever eat another supermarket tomato again. I moved here determined to stay true to the famous Garden State tomato. That and pizza. But it’s time to admit defeat, one out of two ain’t bad. The many-colored and zebra striped heirloom tomatoes in VA are simply divine.

Which leads me to a little riff on loyalty. I’m about as loyal as they come, like James Carville is to Bill Clinton. I still buy Tide and Dove soap. Which is why I’m keeping my options open about Syria. Yes, I’m a pacifist and I detest this run-up to war. You can’t bring about peace by surgically striking Damascus. If I were that opthalmologist-turned-dictator Assad, I’d get pretty darned pissed. But the mere fact that our President has changed his mind, and is asking the Congress to step up to the plate, gives me a measure of hope. This President who stood tall against the Iraq war. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on Tuesday night.

Because when Virginia’s own President Woodrow Wilson tried to prevent another world war with his League of Nations, he was on to something. And so the world waits for the UN Security Council to vote and for our elected officials to say Yea or Nay. Because Syrian violence is about loyalty – the succession of leadership by bloodline from Mohammed (Alawite a type of Shiite interpretation – 12% minority but ruling class of Muslims) vs a belief in succession by Mohammed’s most able and pious companions (Sunni – 70% of Syrian Muslims).

And btw, 90% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni! Imagine if Jesus had children, and so Christians split into 2 sects; the apostles and saints vs his progeny…instead of say how many? Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Congregational, Lutheran, Baptist….

According to Shiite Islam, Mohammed’s only true heir, imam, was his son-in-law Ali bin Abu Talib. But Alawites take a step further in the veneration of Imam Ali, allegedly investing him with divine attributes. Other specific elements such as the belief in divine incarnation, permissibility of alcohol, celebration of Christmas and Zoroastrian new year. http://middleeast.about.com/od/syria/tp/The-Difference-Between-Alawites-And-Sunnis-In-Syria.htm

Making the world safe for democracy, doesn’t seem to fit in this scenario…at least not without more bloodshed. And unlike my heirloom tomato tart recipe, I can’t envision the end game.


Read Full Post »

This is an addendum to the last blog post, courtesy of the Bride and TN Poison Control Center. I guess this is not such a new recreational drug. She has seen many teens die in the ER and her husband has seen the results as well in Vandy’s ICU. Molly has also been called “bath salts.”

04-04-11 What is in Molly’s Plant Food? (one of the latest recreational drug rages to affect Tennessee’s teens and young adults)

Question of the Week
April 4, 2011
What is in Molly’s Plant Food?  (one of the latest recreational drug rages to affect Tennessee’s teens and young adults)
Molly’s Plant Food is a synthetic hallucinogenic amphetamine marketed as a “plant food” that contains ingredients that produce highs similar to Ecstasy. Molly’s Plant Food is usually purchased at a convenience store and is packaged in a capsule form with a cost of $8-$12 per capsule. The product label warns “not for human consumption”; however it is packaged in a psychedelic colored wrapper and several Internet web sites and chat rooms refer to the product as “legal ecstasy”. The active ingredient is mephedrone, which is not a scheduled (DEA) drug, therefore making it legal.
Over the past six months, The Tennessee Poison Control Center has received an increasing number of calls from emergency departments regarding symptomatic patients who have ingested or snorted Molly’s Plant Food. Clinical effects include euphoria, anxiety, paranoia, agitation, tachycardia, hypertension, delusions, diaphoresis, and weight loss. The treatment is supportive with intravenous fluids and benzodiazepines. Signs and symptoms have lasted an average of 24-48 hours.
This past week brought good news. Under an emergency court order sought by the Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner and the Attorney General, sheriff narcotic detectives have been removing the products from convenience stores in Rutherford County. Since Molly’s Plant Food is titled a “plant food”, it must be registered with the state as a fertilizer (the purported use of Molly’s Plant Food) and clearly list its ingredients. Molly’s Plant Food has neither been registered nor are the ingredients listed on the package.
This question prepared by Marilyn Weber, CSPI, MSN, RN Tennessee Poison Control Center

Read Full Post »

I’ve noticed that news travels slowly in the South. Maybe it’s the history of cool, early evening  breezes on a front porch, where neighbors would catch up with the news of the day, or maybe it’s just the culture. Everything is slower here, and I’ve come to expect it and actually I’ve come to like it. A little banter before a business transaction never hurt anyone, and in fact it helps keep us human.

Well, it’s not often that my husband says he hasn’t heard about a drug. He is a walking encyclopedia of drugs – their generic and brand names and what they say they can do for one of his patients. I used to quiz the Bride on a shoe box full of flash cards filled with a pharmocopia of drug information that she had to commit to memory in order to practice the art of medicine. Brand and generic name on one side, its prescribed use and complications on the other.

But my brilliant hubby never heard of “Molly.” We just figured this illegal drug hadn’t made its way to our sleepy central VA town. Two people died over the past weekend at a concert in NY, and one died in Boston from a new “club/designer/street” drug named Molly. When we heard this news, I said it must be a type of Ecstasy, and I guessed right.

“Molly is classified as a Schedule One drug by the federal government. That means they believe it has “no currently accepted medical use” and “a high potential for abuse.” So now we know it a very pure form of the club drug MDMA , and when taken with other drugs, including alcohol, it can be fatal. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/mdma-ecstasy-abuse/what-does-mdma-do-to-brain

And yesterday, we found out that one of our own, Shelley Goldsmith a 19 year old second year UVA student, may have died last Saturday after taking Molly at a rave club in DC.

“Shelley Goldsmith had a full scholarship to U.Va., where she was beginning her sophomore year. She was a Jefferson Scholar and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. Students remembered their friend by painting the Beta Bridge near campus with the message “Shelley our Shooting Star.”

Her autopsy results haven’t been published yet, but statements from her friends, the people who accompanied her by bus to DC, are becoming public. It may take awhile, even in this digital age, for news to travel, but I hope our kids are listening. My condolences and prayers to her family.



Picture from her sorority’s tumblr page

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: