Archive for June, 2014

courtesy of Steff's Instagram

courtesy of Steff’s Instagram

The Supremes never fail to surprise me. Kudos to SCOTUS for protecting our cell phone privacy rights during a police search, and unanimously no less, which means really we blue and red states should all be able to get along.  And then they go and rule against buffer zones around abortion clinics in MA.

The court said the state law violated the First Amendment because its “buffer zone” limited speech too broadly, covering 35 feet from the doorway of facilities and including public areas like sidewalks.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/supreme-court-massachusetts-abortion-buffer-zone-mccullen-v-coakley-108348.html#ixzz362N9mDxe

So now anyone who would like to speak to a woman, a total stranger, kindly and gently about why she’s determined to do this procedure (not their words) and push graphic floating fetus leaflets into her hands is allowed to approach her on a sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. The caveat was that the Chief Justice advised MA to consider doing what NY has done – make it a crime to harass anyone within 15 feet of a reproductive health care facility.

In other words, tighten up the language people!

I don’t know, I like the term buffer zone. I remember the buffer from biology 101 many years ago; it’s important in regulating the PH of a cell. Without a buffer zone, changes in the environment of all living things would go haywire. Adding a buffer keeps us all on an even keel so to speak.

I always pictured it as a moat around the castle, the castle might be a liver cell and the buffer moat is protecting its function…if the moat gets to flowing over its banks the liver can’t function. If the moat dries up, bad cells will invade.

Last weekend we had some friends visiting us from MN with their little boy, Opti. First of all, I love his name. And second I love boys in 6th grade, they are figuring out the world and willing to try just about anything. We watched the USA tie Portugal in the World Cup and he explained some of the rules of the game which was great.

But his mom, Steff, had to return to the Minneapple because she’s a commissioner on the Parks and Rec Board and POTUS was visiting the overflowing banks of their rivers and streams. Steff and her family normally ride their bikes to work and school, they keep bees in their urban garden – I like to think if I were younger and living in a city, I’d be as green and ecologically driven as she is. IMHO she is a rock star! And she got to shake the President’s hand, and be up close and personal as he delivered this speech http://www.scribd.com/doc/231560097/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Town-Hall

The President talked about many things besides the floodwaters. And it made me think that maybe the problem with this intractable Congress is their buffer zone, that place where lobbyists and money flow freely into and out of the castle Capital. That space where special interests and corporations get to frame our laws so that the Constitution becomes an instrument of power for some, and not for all.  And instead of suing our President Mr. Boehner, might you consider letting down the bridge over your moat?

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Note to new moms everywhere. Keep a journal! Because chances are, especially if you have a girl, there will come a time when your adult daughter will ask you exactly how you handled each developmental stage of your baby’s life. When Google doesn’t work, and her friends’ suggestions won’t do the trick, you will be called upon to offer up your advice.

So you must be prepared! And that’s when you’d better have a good memory.

Take naps for instance. My constant refrain was, “The Bride napped right up into Kindergarten, she loved her nap. The Rocker gave his up at two!”

All of that is true. Only I don’t recall how I knew it or accomplished any of it. It was over 30 years ago after all. There’s a picture of my girl all blonde curls spread out sleeping on her bed with her pink acrylic blanket and Barbie doll, so I do have evidence. And before my feminist friends complain, the Bride, we found out at the age of two, was allergic to mites. So all cotton or wool blankets, stuffed animals, rugs and curtains were removed from her bedroom. Sounds harsh I know, but I didn’t want to label her an “allergic” child or give her pills all the time.

Plastic Barbie was her only bedtime comfort.

And now I don’t feel so bad. A friend has just blogged about her solution to naptime troubles. She has an ingenious solution which involves a vintage plastic lunchbox that her mom saved for her grandson. http://www.babykerf.com/the-lunchbox-surprise/

How to get the toddler into his/her crib without the benefit of a bottle? How to get the toddler to stay in said crib and not try climbing out? How to get the toddler to stay in bed once they have left the crib behind? How to get the toddler toilet trained? And the list goes on and on and everyone has their two cents to say; and if you’re not the type of grandma to keep everything baby-related, or if you have a spouse who thought it was his duty to recycle all your children’s toys while you were away, or if your brain has just forgotten the day to day tasks of childrearing and only held onto the highlights, then you are out of luck.

This past weekend the Bride and Groom visited Walter Place in Holly Springs, MS. The Love Bug had a chance to play with her adorable toddler cousins Antonia (Tony) and Franchesca (Frankie). Thanks to my sister-in-law, and my beautiful niece Lucia for their hospitality. And thanks for adding their toddler wisdom to all those tricky questions. One day maybe the girls will dress up in hoop skirts for a Pilgrimage of their own.

from left: Frankie, Tony, Lucia, Bug

from left: Frankie, Tony, Lucia, Bug

And Bob and I are pleased to announce that this coming Thanksgiving, we will be giving the Bride and Groom hints about changing baby boy diapers! Talk about tricky!


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Since moving down South I’ve loved collecting Southern phrases, words that had no possibility of filling my Northern ears in the past. Lovely clerks will call me “Darlin” for no reason, and speak to a single person in the plural “Y’all” ALL the time. There’s calling a grocery cart a “Buggy” and “Directly” could mean soon or a month from now. You will hear me say that’s the “High Doller” restaurant, and I am partial to the word “Catawampus” but the funniest phrase I’ve heard is “Peckerwood Mayhem.”

Unlike Redneck mayhem, which if I watched that Duck Dynasty show I’d probably understand, Peckerwood Mayhem is in a class by itself. It found it’s way into our vocabulary by way of a Southern author, Julia Reed. She wrote “Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena.” http://www.gardendistrictbookshop.com/content/queen-turtle-derby-and-other-southern-phenomena In her book she talks about a shrimper in Louisiana who is trying to deal with an Austrailian giant jellyfish invasion that manages to eat the shrimp in his nets and yet elude capture. His theory for why this is happening in the Times Picayune is;

“They got some kinda sonar connected to ’em or somethin…that’s what I think anyway and it’s good enough for me.”

Anyway, she explains the difference between rednecks, who will “aspire” to things like nice watches and trucks and a house “…that looks like Tara” etc and “peckerwood.” The latter are people who are too pitiful to even aspire to much according to Reed. In her opinion, these are the people, direct descendants of the Celts, who leave their broken down washing machines and cars in their front yard. Makes me happy Bob finally fixed that John Deere tractor we had sitting out front for a week!

All this to explain my day at the hand therapy clinic yesterday. First of all, there’s a sign on the door that says “No Guns Allowed” and my first thought is “Nice” and of course my second thought is “What the #%*+ is wrong with Target?” Right? Then I realize that I’ve been in the South for almost ten years and the signs about guns no longer surprise me!

So they sit me down and stick my hand in a machine that blows hot corn husks at me. I’m sitting there pretending my hand is in some tropical HOT (really really HOT) Caribbean beach trying to catch sand blowing in a typhoon and I look over right next to me is a policewoman, with obvious guns and locks hanging all over her and she’s wearing a bullet-proof vest. Across the table from her is a policeman, decked out in much the same fashion. They are talking with the therapist about speeding tickets in a good ole Southern drawl. And right next to him is a nice looking man, quiet, in an orange jumpsuit with his hand in some painful contraption. And right out of my mouth loud and clear since all these machines are making noise I say,

“Are you a prisoner?” 

He smiles and says, “Yes,” and I say, “Well, orange is the new black!” And then we’re off to the races talking about that show which is my guilty pleasure on Netflix and those cops are totally oblivious since they don’t have Netflix and never heard of it. And I can tell they are uncomfortable… but the prisoner, he’s feeling good, like finally someone is talking to him, seeing him. Then he tells me they only have basic cable in prison and I could almost cry.

And in all my years on this earth I’ve never talked with a prisoner or been inside a prison, but now I feel like I want to know how this well spoken, thoughtful guy found himself there. I want to get all those non-violent criminals paroled and out of the feedback loop of our justice system, and get rid of “For Profit” private prisons which seem to be cropping up all over the South. Because we all know if you have money in America, you can OJ the system just fine.

Watching the woman cop place his handcuffs back on and sling a metal chain around his waist and shuffle the prisoner out of the hand clinic, I feel like I had a little taste of Peckerwood Mayhem, corn husks and all.

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Trumpets please. The cast came off and a splint went on, my dominant right hand that is. It seems that despite being told there is nothing one can do about a fractured pinky finger, the UVA Hand Clinic has me doing some serious physical therapy. I’m sure that my three week wait to actually see a doctor after the bounce house fall, planting in my garden and mailing 90th birthday party invitations, didn’t help my hand heal. But that’s just me; delay, deny and avoid doctors at all costs since I have so many at home. That’s my problem.

You might think that a doctor’s family has it made in the shade. But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. It’s pretty well known that anyone involved in health care will be treated differently in a hospital. It’s kind of the opposite of selection bias – once the person treating you finds out you’re in the same field – nurse, doc, therapist or spouse of same, whatever – they may subtly change their strategy. The person treating you may not even realize they are doing this, but by being nicer, kinder and making exceptions to their rules and treating you differently, they are shortchanging you.

Let me find an example. When I came down with West Nile before moving to VA, after a week of unendurable headaches and fever, I finally got to an Opthalmologist who knew what he was doing. I was sent pronto to the nearest hospital’s MRI machine and ended up waiting in the hallway until one became available. I was in such pain and going blind that I hardly registered what Bob was saying to all those people who knew him so well, all I remember is everybody apologizing for me being in a hallway.

I really didn’t care about the hallway at that moment, I wanted the pain to stop.

They didn’t do a lumbar puncture (LP) because well I didn’t see the ER doctor on duty, and they didn’t have an available room, and besides I didn’t want an LP and nobody wanted to question my husband and his wife as to what they wanted in this emergent situation. I hope you’re getting my drift…

If I hadn’t been with Bob, if I’d have been anybody else, the eye doctor probably would have called an ambulance and I would have been whisked away toute suite to a hospital with a bed and an available MRI machine and an ER doc who would have punctured my spine alright, and I would have been admitted to the hospital. Instead I was sent home on steroids.

In the worst of circumstances the very best people in health care will try and make our (meaning everyone else in the health care field) lives easier – thereby putting us at greater risk.

This is why when I went to another state while pregnant with the Rocker for my “older mother” test – the one where they stick a needle in your pregnant belly to get some amniotic fluid – I told the receptionist that my husband was a contractor! Yes sir, I lied because A) this amniocentesis test was fairly new, and 2) I didn’t want anyone to know my husband was a doctor because I was unconsciously already aware of this selection bias.

I know I’m complaining in a sort of ‘poor privileged me’ way – first world problems. And I know this anecdotal bias has probably never been studied, but I’m not the first to notice it. Ask anyone you know in the health care field. Oh, and when my wonderful NP asked me at the UVA Hand Clinic to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, I had to smile.

Because Bob has always said the day he hammered his thumb accidentally putting up a shelf was a BIG 10. He saw stars, he couldn’t speak, and finally when he could, all he could do was swear. When he walks into a room to see a patient and they are texting, he remembers his thumb and knows this is not a 10 on the pain scale. But pain is pretty subjective, your 7 may be my 3?

This is the first time in 2 weeks I’m using more fingers than two thumbs to write. And for that I am grateful. It’s good to start off your day listing two things you’re grateful for, soooo 1) Yay for 9 fingered typing

And B) I’m also happy my 6’3″ son and Ms Cait came to visit this past weekend. That baby who backed away in the womb from the needle in the ultrasound of my amniocentesis test, is going to turn 30 this summer! And his Grandmother Ada just turned 90! Bring on the fanfare!   IMG_0699

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It’s a revival! A reunion? No, it’s revolutionary news, The Parlor Mob is getting back together! Granted we got the inside scoop from a flying buddy of Bob’s back in NJ. His kids are seriously into my son’s old band, the pilot wanted to know if the band was reuniting and so Bob said, “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

So we called the Rocker up pronto. And sure enough, it seems Live Nation really really wanted them to headline a few shows in the Fall. So while one guitarist is married and expecting a baby any day now (Big Congrats Paul!), he was on board; and our tall, lanky guitarist and Sam the Drummer didn’t have to do much to convince Mark the singer to say “Yes.”  http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/music/2014/06/09/parlor-mob-returns-live-dates-new-music/9863341/

The big news is that the Rocker and Paul had a few songs percolating in their fingers. So they are releasing a new EP “Cry Wolf” before their shows around the NJ/NY area, oh and one up in Boston. Lately the Rocker has been backing up his friend, Nicole Atkins, and after playing in the UK and just this past weekend with the Avett Brothers on the East Coast, he’s looking forward to playing again with his band of brothers.

You can hear their new single “The Day You Were Born” http://www.parlormob.com streaming live on their website. Needless to say I’m ecstatic since I love these guys. Tickets go on sale Friday

“I think you take things away from all of the other projects you take on when you’re away and you bring them back, in this case, to the Parlor Mob,” added Rosen. “We’ve just been doing so many different types of musical things that it adds a whole bunch of new musical influences for us. So, coming back to the Parlor Mob is old hat for us, now. We’ve all stayed friends and we’ve been hanging out, but to finally get together and make noise again has been fun. We fell right back into it pretty easily.”

My son’s been making noise since the day he was born, and it’s always been music to my ears! Rock on baby boy, we are so proud of you. Here he is on Sunday with Nicole and the Avetts in Portsmouth, VA.   IMG_0684



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Some of you may be watching the Belmont Stakes, but I’ve been texting with my brother-in-law Charlie.
He’s in DC with his Dad, Hudson Favell, a WWII vet making his first pilgrimage to the Washington memorials.

Townships in NJ redirected traffic and stood at attention to salute the vets traveling South today. Bus loads of octogenarians who signed up as teenagers to fight for freedom and democracy on foreign shores.

On this D Day weekend we thank these brave men for their courage.

And I particularly want to thank you Hudson, for serving on the Zaniah, and for being the best Grandfather my children could ever dream of – for loving them, carving them beautiful wooden blocks, officiating at the Bride’s wedding, and taking care of Grandma Ada! You are the best of the greatest generation!



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Before we moved into our NJ home on a tributary of the Shrewsbury River, we naturally had to do some a lot of renovating. This was our modus operendi – take whatever style we get and transform it into our own; you give me a Jetson, mid-century modern house, and I give you a touch of French Country home. But unlike scraping a tacky, Roman wallpaper mural off a dining room wall, this job surprised us since it had been hidden during each inspection. Underneath (or above) every ceiling were wires that stretched into infinity.

The wires belonged to some intricate, ancient security system the previous owner felt moved to install for some inexplicable reason. There was a moment of deliberation. Should we try and retain or revamp this system? I wanted to keep the 60s doorbell after all, and Bob drew the line at the front door. The faux-Chinese door with its handle in the middle was going to stay! But the wires had to go. While the contractor was wrestling with its tendrils, Bob said to me, “Honey, the best defense is a dog!”

At the time we had a pair of dogs our Vet called “The beautiful and the sublime,” or was it “The ridiculous and the sublime?” Bones was our proud, old German Shepherd, our first married dog. He slept under the Bride’s crib and kept her safe at all costs. He also kept UPS and other invaders at bay. Then there was the ridiculously young Tootsie Roll, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Bride’s first dog. She picked her out amidst other Corgis without tails insisting that a dog needed a tail! If Bones’ bark didn’t keep a home intruder out, Toots would chomp on their heels and drive them into the river for sure.

So you see we didn’t have security systems, we didn’t hunt deer or shoot skeet, and so we had no need to hide firearms in our dashboard or keep handguns in our nightside table or rifles under our bed. We felt pretty secure living in our little hamlet with our dogs. Certainly Bob had pulled many a bullet out of a patient on the wrong end of a gun over his years as an Emergency Physician. He even pulled nail gun nails out of a poor guy, and stitched up many a knife wound. But guns were by far the worst offenders. And I know lots of Americans who own guns just love them.

They clean them well and keep them locked up and stored away so their kids can’t fiddle with them. They even teach these kids how to handle them properly, which is fine when you live in a rural environment and part of what your family eats is actually game meat. I don’t want to change your culture, even if sometimes a child might accidentally shoot his best friend while playing around with a firearm. https://mountainmornings.net/2013/10/29/the-safest-home/

Just please don’t call up all your gun carrying buddies and decide to open-carry your guns around Target…or Starbucks or any university, or any public place really. Because the rest of us, the other 50% or maybe more of Americans don’t want to see your legal rifles slung over your shoulders while we’re buying diapers, or coffee. And we certainly don’t want to see a posse of gun toting white guys sashaying around the next corner. In fact I’m surprised the Supreme Court hasn’t taken up this issue, cause it’s kind of like yelling fire in a crowded building isn’t it. “Look at me, I could blow you all away with one little squeeze of my finger!”

So if you feel the same way I do, about shopping with people who are openly carrying firearms, please let Target and your legislators know cause it’s a state’s rights thing of course. Even the NRA said these guys are nutso. But then, they backed down, admitting it was a mistake to call them “attention-hungry and weird.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/4/nra-backs-down-admits-it-was-a-mistake-to-shame-op/ I hope Target gets the message, #OffTarget

PETITION: http://every.tw/offtarget
TWITTER: @Target #OffTarget
PHONE: 612-304-6073; press 1 for guest relations
EMAIL: http://tinyurl.com/kd49bte
FAST TWEET: http://momsdemandaction.org/offtarget/

Buddha guarding Cait


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The Briefing Room will be losing one of the sweetest White House Press Secretaries in recent years. Jay Carney, who btw looks like an altar boy I once knew, happens to be married to a fellow journalist, Claire Shipman. He told the morning news feed that he has two small children and he was missing too much of their lives! I almost spit up my coffee.

What a relief, to hear a man in a position of power say such a thing, proudly, bravely and without rancor. Is it just coincidence that Shipman and her co-author Katty Kay just published a book about the confidence gap between men and women? I recently wrote about “The Confidence Code” and a woman’s tendency to talk less in meetings and ruminate more; “tortured cycles of useless self-recrimination.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/fashion/katty-kat-claire-shipman-new-book.html?_r=0

Reminds me of Josh Levs, a CNN reporter, who recently fought CNN’s parent company Time Warner for equal paternity leave. Moms and adoptive parents were allowed 10 weeks family leave whereas dads only got 2 weeks paid leave. “It can’t be a conversation by women about women,” Levs said of resolving family-work conflicts. “In a country that prides itself on family values, we need to do a much better job of valuing families … and that includes fathers.”

One of the best things we women of the 60s and 70s did was to raise our sons to expect to be involved in their children’s lives. Millennials today want to not just be in the birthing room, they want to be present in the sturm and drang of childhood. Hooray I say! Let’s all lift our coffee cups to men who change diapers.

And to my honey, who stuck by me for 35 years as of tomorrow, I’d like to say in brief, “Cheers!” Even if he did hang one piece of wallpaper upside down a long, long time ago, he proved to be the most loving father and supportive husband in the world. For sitting with me in the family room while “sleep training,” for teaching them how to ride bikes and drive cars, for telling me countless times that everything would be OK, even after endless days of toddler turmoil and teenage angst. I salute you dear partner in life. And I’d pick you again, in a heartbeat!    IMG_0073


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