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Archive for April, 2016

I know this seems pretty simple but to me it meant the world. When I was little, my foster father Jim played cards with me almost every night after dinner. He also did the dishes first, but that’s another story. Because this story is  about ballerinas, and a daughter/dad relationship. 

We had an old cigar box filled with pennies. Oh yes, he taught me how to gamble too! The bets were one penny each game and the winnings went into my piggy bank. Surprisingly I do not attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings. 

Our running card game was gin rummy, easy enough for me to learn matching and counting in the same suit. Needless to say, hearts were my favorite. 

The important point here is Time. We talked, we laughed, we had a little snack and btw, we played cards. Jim worked at Picatinny Arsenal, and he got home every evening a little after 4pm. Right after Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

Granted I was an only child in our tiny house. The Flapper and my brothers and sisters lived in Scranton, PA. We would drive over the Delaware Water Gap frequently to visit them. Still every night, like clockwork, I played cards with my Daddy. 

And I was reminded recently that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s family was from Scranton. Irish/Welsh coal miners, just like mine. Strong women who survived alone after mine accidents claimed their husbands. I was also told that Grace Kelly came from that neighborhood, a real life princess who was famous for her portrayal of Hitchcock heroines. The Love Bug will enjoy her movies some day, since she loves princesses!

So go ahead Hillary, and play that “Woman Card.” We are the generation that fought for women’s rights. That died in back alley abortions, that forged our backbones on our Suffragette sisters. 

So that little girls have the opportunity to have pay equity and play tennis and soccer in the big leagues, and also play princess and study ballet. Because we all know a true ballerina is stronger than any elitist rich boy running for president. Right?

My mission in Nashville is done. This old ballerina can hang up her toe shoes, while the next generation of strong young girls is fitted for their pretty pink dance slippers. 

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“Did you wear yourself out Nana?” the Love Bug just asked me. I took a deep breath and said, “Almost,” which is our very favorite word. In truth we did have a very busy morning. Climbing up the beautiful public library’s marble stairway, dancing with Ms Mary at the puppet show, and chasing her little brother all over the castle playground. I was about to read her a book before her nap.

And then it hit me – I started reading the Bug a book about a little pig named Olivia. Olivia always wears pearls, has a little brother who likes to do everything she does, and always wears herself out!

The Bride has been wearing herself out lately looking for a house. Nashville has a hot housing market. Some houses never hit the market before they are sold. So it pays to be savvy. Only working nights, and having two small children, and a broken AC unit makes house hunting hard! I remember those days. 

Moving with a two year old Rocker who could unlock any door and let himself out. Now he could really wear me out – he was a perpetual motion machine toddler. 

The puppet show today was about growing a rainbow colored garden. Ms Mary asked the Love Bug what her favorite color was and she said, “Red and green.” No pinks or purples for this girl. Strong bright primary colors for our little artist in residence. 

Lavender is my favorite, and not because of Prince. The first thing we will plant at the Bride and Groom’s new house, the home just waiting for us around the corner to find, will be a lilac tree. Lilacs remind me of Nell.

And my foster mother Nell taught me what love is about, in a tiny little house in Victory Gardens.   

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Believe me, I’m not a baker. I love to cook, but dessert left me despondent. My go-to cake was always three layer carrot with toasted coconut cream cheese icing. Other than that, I could maybe do chocolate chip cookies if push came to shove. 

That was it my whole life, two things. Period. 

But finally Pinterest wove its magic spell around my brain; it was a chocolate peanut butter flourless cake that looked divine and sounded like my favorite candy. I loved and then I pinned it under “Yum.”

Resistance was futile. My best cousin/friend Anita was hosting the Passover Seder this year and I calmly offered up my usual butternut squash casserole AND this amazing cake that I’d never made before. Oh yes. It looked that good. 

Ada wasn’t sure it was worth the work – the beating of eight eggs for five minutes with my ancient 1960s avocado green Sunbeam mixer – the gradual melting of chocolate and butter – the water bath! The challenge was real. 

When the recipe called for me to check the temperature I laughed. I didn’t have a thermometer for a cake, or candy, or a turkey for that matter. I don’t even think I have one for a person!

It was a risk, delivering the cake still in the pan, peeling off parchment paper, spreading the chocolate ganache on top. But I’m happy to say the cake was a hit. In fact Bob told me it’s the best thing I’ve ever made! Harumph. 

Kudos to last night’s real heroine Anita! She and Skip lead a Seder that couldn’t be beat and her grandson Zach was an amazing babysitter/playmate with my two grands. Thanks for an absolutely lovely evening, with just our LA crew missing. 

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the cake. But here’s the recipe: 

Peanut Butter Flourless Chocolate Cake

Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends and family and faithful readers. So long Cville, we’re gonna miss you!    

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Traveling with dogs can be tricky. Particularly when your dog is a rescue who starts gagging the moment you ask her if she wants to go for a ride.

We never had a dog who didn’t love jumping into any moving vehicle when invited for a ride. Buddha Bear would leap onto the Piper Arrow’s wing and happily sit beside Bob as his co-pilot! The Corgis always cuddled under the plane’s seats. So watching Ms Bean run away from the hanger and foam at the mouth while sitting in the back seat of my Honda was disturbing, and finally led us to the Vet for canine anti-nausea drugs.

But watching Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard apologize for bringing their dogs illegally into Australia was even more disturbing. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/18/johnny-depps-wife-amber-heard-pleads-guilty-over-bringing-dogs-to-australia

Yorkies “Pistol” and “Boo,” due to the last-minute sacking of one of Heard’s assistants, did not have all their proper doggie paperwork completed, which led Heard to outright lie on the immigration form as they landed in their private jet. Some excuses seem to work I guess, although I would caution anyone to check (YES) when asked if you are carrying animals into another country, certainly if you happen to have two terriers in mini-mesh-carry-ons. When threatened with deportation, death, or ten years in jail, eh quarantine, Heard and Depp agreed to film their apology.

Heard’s punishment, a one-month good behaviour bond of $1,000, was an anti-climactic end to a Hollywood clash with Canberra in an imbroglio dubbed the “war on terrier”.Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said the video, played to her Gold Coast court on Monday, was “of far more benefit to this country” as a warning to would-be illegal importers than any conviction recorded against Heard.

The scripted video that played in court looked as if some mind control expert had taken over the couple’s souls. Depp tells us to “Declare everything” at the end, as if only the truth will set you free! I kept looking at him thinking they must have to use more make-up to age his pirate persona since he seems to be getting younger. As part of their sentencing, the video has now become a viral sensation, and may get more views than Depp’s latest rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow. Maybe they could rename this next Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, “Dead Dogs Tell No Tales?”

As for us, on last month’s trip to NJ – her maiden voyage – Ms Bean did just fine with her pill onboard. She even got to play with a Jack Russell visiting from Arkansas. Now she runs toward the car when we ask if she wants to come along! And we may just have to pack her up and evacuate if the wind shifts and this Shenandoah wildfire starts moving in our direction. It has burned over 2,000 acres and the smoke is affecting my eyes and lungs. This was our view last night. IMG_4282

 

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I don’t know about you, but when I heard Ted Cruz’ wife Heidi say that the first thing he did after they were married was to buy 100 cans of soup, I was shocked. I knew this had to be some clue, some secret scientific device that would help us dig deep into his brain. We already know Cruz is an absolutist, you’re either on the dark side or the light side of his universe. But 100 cans of soup? http://gawker.com/after-his-honeymoon-ted-cruz-immediately-bought-100-ca-1770893594

When Heidi questioned her newlywed about his motivations, he said, “I know you. You won’t be making things.”

Now soup is a comfort food. For me it’s homemade soup, but hey what kid would pass up some tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich? And if you grow up into a man who doesn’t know a pot from a pan, who likes to stand in front of the refrigerator and eat whatever catches his fancy, standing up while swigging milk from the carton, well you might just worry about your future meals. Particularly if you marry a woman who avoids the kitchen.

But the more troubling part of the story is that Heidi took all that soup back to the store – then she called her mom who told her to go right back and buy that soup and replace it in the pantry! So, it’s like a lesson on being submissive, being a good God-fearing Christian wife who is dominated by her husband. Yessiree ladies. Make sure he knows he’s the boss!

Then I found out that early in their career they lived separately, for 7 years in Texas. And that Heidi had moved there for his political career but didn’t really fit in. That she was found wandering around a highway with her head in her hands one night http://theweek.com/speedreads/602452/ted-cruz-wife-lived-apart-first-7-years-marriage

Now I have some sympathy for this woman. The woman that Trump’s campaign smeared. I know what it’s like to move to a place for your husband’s career and though I never wandered onto a freeway exit ramp, I did have my existential moments. Wondering why I was surrounded by women who could only talk about their nails. Feeling like a duck out of water.

What I wouldn’t give to have a sit-down with Heidi. I’d tell her that it’s not all about the Lord and her job at Goldman Sachs. I’d tell her that her husband has no chance at winning the Presidency. It’s about what this country stands for, the freedom to do things our way, to forge ahead and make our own choices. I’d tell her that food is love, and she should start listening to herself and nobody else. You might want to keep a can of Cream of Mushroom soup around in case you need to make a casserole. But definitely, learn how to bake a killer meatloaf. This is my turkey mushroom meatloaf, wrapped in bacon and it doesn’t get much better than this!IMG_3806

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This morning I slept late. I woke from another nightmare. This is the only time in my life where I’ve been having back to back nightmares. I can get pretty Freudian about my dream life; when something unusual like this happens, I pay attention. My unconscious mind is telling me it’s time to change the rules of the game.

“Everyone I know is in transition,” Great Grandma Ada said. We’ve been trying to convince her it’s time to become a Snow Bird, and she is finally ready. She is ready to end the virtual search and start scouting out the places her friends have landed on the beautiful FL coastline. Of course, anyone who knows her can tell you she never met a stranger. Whatever community that is just quirky enough to tickle her fancy, she will become the ruling Queen Bee in a matter of days! Still, it won’t be easy leaving the house you called home for fifty years.

The Bride and Groom are buying their first home together. Yes, it kills them to see how prices have gone through the roof in Nashville over the past five years, but they thought by this time they would have been headed home to VA – a place for lovers and two sets of loving grandparents! But life being what it is, and their careers just starting to take off, they decided to stay put. I know in my head it was the right decision, but my heart is just catching up with my head.

They made an offer on a perfect house today. Fingers crossed please.

The Rocker and Ms Cait have acclimated to the West Coast. It fits them to a T, I would love to see more of them, but they are happy in the hills of LA. Both creative types, doing well in their fields; my son is in his perfect place. And lucky for me, he has been staying out of my nightmares!

And us? Well we sold the tiny town house to the parents of one of the tenants, almost too easily, while we were on vacation. We never went to market. The father is actually a physician too, and his wife loved the house from the moment their daughter moved into an upstairs bedroom. No more urgent emails and calls in the early morning – “The smoke detector isn’t turning off;” “The kitchen faucet is broken;” “There’s a squirrel in the chimney!” I loved that charming hundred year old house. And it’s strange to think we don’t have our future charted. We won’t be living in town, so where will we be living? Someplace warm for Bob, someplace near the grandbabies for me. My North Star is hiding.

These are the dark and scary things of my 3 am night life, the feeling of being uprooted, of being immobilized, of not belonging. There is death, and public humiliation. Oh yes, Jung gets into my free-wheeling interpretations. Traveling back and forth over the Delaware River Water Gap as a child, to visit my birth family, left me always seeking a safe harbor, a port in the storm.

Retirement looms large as the big unknown future unfolds at its own pace. Bob worries he might be bored no longer working. I personally don’t think boredom is an option for him. He is a nomad, and would love to travel the world, footloose and fancy free. Not me, a home base is essential to my quiet dream life. But wherever I land, I will keep writing so long as my fingers, and my mind, keep working. I just sat down in front of a blank piece of paper and drew a clock, so all is not lost! http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/384949524/the-unknown-brain?showDate=2016-03-25

I read that our generation, the Baby Boomers, will redefine our golden years in the same way we created a cultural revolution in the 60s and 70s. I suppose that is true. Aging in place, maybe. Co-housing, why not? Didn’t Bob go to Woodstock! No dressing for dinner in a retirement home for us, with Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Does the AARP print a rule book? We really never wanted to play by the rules, so why would we now?

My psychologist brother, Dr Jim, just sent me this article about nursing homes; fair warning, it’s not pretty. http://www.vox.com/2015/12/2/9826772/life-lessons-nursing-home?mc_cid=042158e728&mc_eid=e134d96057

Here’s my theory: If for most of your life you are concerned with the mundane (which, think about it, always involves personal comfort) then when you get old and feel a lot of pain, that’s going to be the only thing you’re going to think about. It’s like a muscle — you developed the mundane muscle and not the other one.

So I’m working on my creativity and compassion muscles, how about you? Here is our high school reunion picture from 1996 – this year will be our 50th! Bob is front and center, can you find me next to Bess? Hint, third row from bottom on the right. 10366217_974001499278561_5244274030678340288_n

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Don’t talk to me about your religious freedom. Mississippi and North Carolina, you will not get my vote, my money, or my sympathy. In fact, I can’t believe I must still fly into Charlotte in order to get anywhere from Central VA. I will purposely book flights through Atlanta in the future; at least Georgia’s governor had the decency to reject yet another “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.”

Let’s start with the whole public restroom issue. You want to be able to pee in a private stall? Great. You don’t want your daughter in the same bathroom with a transgender woman, what?

Believe me, a person who is born male, and feels like God played a trick on them because inside, in their soul, they feel female, that person is not going to violate your daughter’s bathroom stall. Remember, even in the men’s room there are separate stalls, with locks, so we can ostensibly sit on the pot. She (or he if you prefer, though whether or not they have gone through any surgery will hopefully NOT be a prerequisite for choosing a bathroom) will have spent most of their life being harassed and humiliated – unless it’s Caitlyn Jenner.

Wait, is that what you want at the women’s bathroom doors of Charlotte Airport – morality police? Like Iran, someone to make sure we women are acting and dressing accordingly; that we were born women? How will you check our femaleness? Maybe we should make transgender women wear a big “T” on their chest?

I have a revolutionary idea. Why not do what the rest of Europe has been doing for ages – put a big “WC” on every bathroom, short for “water closet,” and let the chips fall where they may! If you grew up female in the NY/NJ metro area, you never let a “Men’s Room” sign stop you from using it, since there was always a line to the Ladies! Yes, we Northeners are infidels aren’t we.

And marriage equality, still? Extreme religious groups are trying to pass bills in every state to chip away at the HUMAN rights of the LGBT community. Like the right to have an abortion if we so choose; first we saw TRAP laws to limit access to health care clinics that provide abortions, then “personhood bills.” Well guess what, the Supreme Court answered   that sticky question about abortion years ago, and the one about marriage equality? That happened last summer.

But hey, now it’s your religious right to not hire a gay person in MS because of HB1523, or sell condoms in your gas station, or use a bathroom without worrying who’s peeping through the stall! “Churches, religious charities and private business can use the law to legally not serve people whose lifestyles they disagree with. Governments must still provide services, but individual government employees can use the law to opt out.”  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35971038

Yes it is, only it’s not OK to pass a law saying we ALL have to agree with your religious beliefs, because in fact we don’t. The Law of the Land says we don’t!! You see your freedom is just another word for bigotry.

Once upon a time, women didn’t have the vote, and Black folk couldn’t sit wherever they wanted in theaters, buses, or public parks. Let’s remember that our country was founded on religious freedom – the freedom to NOT have any one specific religion make public policy – that is worth repeating since even Thomas Jefferson got this part, he built a LIBRARY in the middle of his academical village, and not a church!

We Americans have the freedom to NOT have any one specific religion make public policy ie we like to keep our church and state separate. Some of us don’t even go to church! This is not the New South I’ve come to love. Here is a picture I took at Cville’s Lee Park after the bill to relocate General Robert E Lee’s statue and rename the park was introduced. It’s time to pick sides America. IMG_4143

 

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