Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2016

Fog Happens. That was the bumper sticker I loved on Martha’s Vineyard. To this day I have remained a bumper-sticker-free driver, although I do appreciate a good joke on a taxi. There is one company in town that adorns its taxis with snippets of wisdom, like this one: “Only dead fish go with the flow.” And you know that silver fish you sometimes see on a car that means the driver is a Christian? Well a friend gave me that fish with the word “Gefilte” inside; it stands above my desk keeping guard. My car shall remain fish-free!

This morning it’s hard to see your fingers in front of your face. Birds are grounded and the red tail hawks are not circling the backyard looking for vermin. I wonder if planes will be grounded too, and that has me worried since we are supposed to fly out of here today for our 37th Wedding Anniversary river cruise up the Danube. Fingers crossed the fog lifts and s&*t doesn’t happen!

For a person who doesn’t like to travel, I seem to be doing a lot of it. We are supposed to have WiFi on the boat so hopefully I will continue to blog.

I will be happy to take a hiatus from CNN. The fog of war continues as our brave armed forces “assist” the Iraqi forces in taking back Falluja. Trump continues to spout nonsense to Bikers in DC, many were Vets yesterday showing respect for the fallen as they cruised the monuments.

And don’t get me started on the gorilla and the toddler. Bob says they could have tranquilized the big guy, but I said he may have collapsed on the baby…we met a large animal Vet the other day at Starbucks. Pat is married to our small animal Vet. He tends to cows and horses all over the Shenandoah Valley and he told us they are “Wild” animals and cannot be trusted. That made me feel better, sort of. Still I turn away from the video. So, as much as I’d like to be all Dame Jane Goodall about gorillas, I’m sure the zoo did the right thing. Right?

Time for another cup of coffee, to clear my foggy brain, and make sense of the final packing checklist. To edit out the useless, and stick with the essentials. We always pack light, one carry-on each for any trip, of any length, anywhere. Bon Voyage!  IMG_4484

 

 

Read Full Post »

That’s the funny name of a farm near here. It never fails to tickle me each time I pass by, it speaks to the klutz in me, and to that part of me that thinks, “Well, you could step in …..!” The promise of an opportunity in the midst of a screw-up.

This morning we have one presidential candidate who would like to hold his taxes in close to the vest, and another who thinks everybody deserves to have private emails. The problem is that when you decide to run for the highest office in the land, everything is fair game. I cannot imagine anything Hillary might say in a private email that would (excuse the pun) trump the Donald’s oversized ego and grandiose public talking points.

He speaks in Twitter, full of incomplete sentences and contradictions. And he gives friends and enemies alike nicknames, as if he were a twelve year old boy. Try to think what would happen if Hill spouted any of his nonsense. Imagine Madame Secretary calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.” Trump later Tweeted:

“I find it offensive that Goofy Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, pretended to be Native American to get in Harvard.”

Personally, I’d take “Goofy” over “Pocahontas” any day, as Jenna Johnson reported in the Washington Post. A Native American journalist, who called Trump’s remarks offensive, said: “It’s absolutely ludicrous in this day and age that we’re recognized as high cheekbones, the stereotypes of what you would see in ‘Dances with Wolves,’ ” Robertson said, referencing the 1990 movie. “Pocahontas — it’s so overdone. Like, come on. We’re living in a day and age now where that whole image and the romanticism around it and her portrayal — really it wasn’t a good story if you look at the history of Pocahontas.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/05/26/donald-trump-gets-called-out-for-calling-elizabeth-warren-pocahontas/

No, the story of a Native woman who was captured by English sailors and used as a pawn to broker peace for the Jamestown Settlement, was later converted to Christianity and married to John Rolfe (even though she had already married a Native Pamunkey man named Kocoum), moved to Henrico, VA, and died from tuberculosis or pneumonia she contracted after visiting England at the age of 22 is not a good story.

Another sign I pass frequently in my travels around Charlottesville is the birthplace of Meriwether Lewis, President Thomas Jefferson’s personal Secretary and later leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition – a little tour de force that relied heavily on another kidnapped Native woman named Sacagawea. It’s almost ironic that Lewis’ first duty for TJ was privately screening officers in the Army with a code he wrote next to their names. He was a trusted neighbor who was born about ten miles from Monticello, right down the street from me, and after a bitter political fight between the Federalists and the Republicans, President Jefferson needed to know who was on his side! From Monticello’s website:

The roster of all commissioned officers, dated July 24, 1801, that was supplied to Jefferson featured curious symbols beside each officer’s name. Historians have identified an accompanying key that gives a meaning to each symbol as being written in the hand of Meriwether Lewis. From this it has been concluded that one of Lewis’ first duties was to assist Jefferson in determining the worthiness or unworthiness of officers, and in some instances their political leanings as well.

So secrecy and intrigue are not new to the political machinations of our fair country. I can only hope that Trump might trip himself up eventually, and say something he cannot walk back. Something, anything indefensible. Or maybe he’ll laugh like John Dean?

We chose Misty Gray for our basement. You can barely see our ghostly, gray mountains this morning, but the sun is OUT and the view from our basement under the deck isn’t half bad. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend folks, and try not to trip and fall into your local ER!

IMG_4453

Read Full Post »

We will be finishing our unfinished basement in a few weeks, so it’s time to pick a paint color. Last time I picked a color it was Navajo White, remember that from the 90s! Since warmer off-whites are out, and cooler off-whites are in, I’m looking for a pale bluish/grey color at the Benjamin Moore store. Should I stick with pale Moonlight White, or go more saturated with Edgecomb Gray, Silver Gray, or Gray Owl? Wait, what about Beach Glass, I love that name! http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/color-gallery#&ce_vm=0

This is where my horoscope shines through all my disbelief about horoscopes. I’m a Libra, so the scales of justice are blind and I can take weeks weighing and balancing a simple choice like the basement’s new, hip wall color. Funny, cause I can walk into the shoe department at Nordstrom and hear one shoe calling my name.

But the new grey also pertains to my generation. My last blog post on Facebook garnered lots of comments about Bob’s retirement plans; the idea of combining co-housing with sustainable senior living. Friends from his old “hippie house” at Duke, friends who actually did join communes in the 60s, and relatives who lived and worked on a kibbutz all chimed in. My friend Edie from high school told me about this guy, a mere 29 years old, who was  featured on the Today Show – Willie Geist called him a “Disrupter.”

Ash Jacob developed an App for Aging in Place! “With 10,000 people retiring every day in the United States, 29-year-old Ash Jacob is using iPads and other technologies to change the senior care industry.” http://www.today.com/news/29-year-old-uses-technology-turn-senior-care-industry-its-t94056

While watching the video, I was aware that the 90+ year old client had a rep from the App company there, and on the other side of the client sat the actual aide who assists with daily tasks. So what Jacob did was put an iPad in every home to let the family stay informed…when did she eat lunch, what did they talk about…seems counter-intuitive to me. Although it does solve the problem of driving to doctor appointments and coordinating medication, the things a family member might do if they lived in the neighborhood.

Which begs the question for aging silver foxes like us, just HOW do we want to age?

No use fighting it with creams and potions, it’s a fact of life. Would you rather stay in your home with an aide doing daily chores and an iPad to communicate or alleviate guilt?  Or would you rather live in a community with like-minded people, a new tribe so to speak, and share the resources. You know Bonnie cooks for four households, Ronnie mows the lawn, Nurse Johnny drops in as needed? There would be a van driver, say Moishe, who would drive you to the symphony or the latest climate change protest, or the doctor, or the unveiling. Otherwise you could walk most places, or scoot around on a scooter.

You could participate as little or as much as you like – not a vegan? Start a chili cook-off! Yes, there are big places like this already, The Villages in FL and right here in VA we have Westminster Canterbury (WC) http://westminstercanterbury.org  But you’ve got to buy into places like this, so if you’ve got the money, no problem. Once you walk in, you can move between more or less care needed for the rest of your life! Sigh. It’s the totem pole of life and death – independent living, to assisted, nursing and or memory care, and out the door. This is from WC’s website:

Learning is revered among our residents. Opportunities are abundant for continued education. Developed in association with the University of Virginia, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) conducts university-level classes for older adults. Many classes are held at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge. You might even find your neighbor as one of the instructors. At Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, there is plenty to do, and every day is different. While one day may take you outside of the community to experience lifelong learning, the next day you may choose to:

Walk the Nature Trail, featuring a stocked pond, gazebo, and walking path in a 17-acre protected habitat.
Play a friendly game of pool in the Billiard Room.
Create a stunning arrangement in the Flower Room.

As Ada would say, “You get the picture.” As Sue might have said, “Probably lots of Bunnys in that place.”

But Bob was thinking more of Summer Camp for Seniors, or a Post-Modern Woodstock.  Think of co-operative gardens. A small boutique operation, non-profit, come as you are kind of place, no ‘dressing for dinner,’ near a beach town, with a hot tub. Where everybody has a front porch. Maybe a retrofitted motel or hotel? A bungalow colony?

For me, I’d rather not live an isolated life, connecting with family via App. I’d like to learn how to play Mah-Jong. I’d like to be able to swim in a pool, or the ocean, and take cooking classes, walk my dog, and knit and string beads. And write and travel with Bob some, and make new friends. Maybe still try and make a difference in the world, if that’s not too corny anymore. I want to be near my grands most importantly of all. I don’t want to be an after-thought to them; they will really, really need us in those pre-teenage wonder years. Once they get a license, it’s all over!

I’ve let my strawberry blonde hair turn a golden grey, not a dictionary definition of the color, “…dark, dismal, or gloomy; gray skies; dull, dreary, or monotonous.” No! Grey is the new Platinum, Titanium and Gold. We are all made of fine metal. And 10,000 of us every day are redefining what retirement looks like. Here is my silver fox, who was and is always a disrupter, in his happy place.  IMG_3261

 

 

Read Full Post »

While looking at colleges for the Rocker, we stopped by my alma mater. After the proverbial backward-walking tour, I dragged him into the library. I remember being told that each graduate’s senior thesis would be stored there permanently, until the end of time, and my young self thought, “Hey, this writing thing is cool!”

Sitting with him, we poured through the old-school paper, and I could see he wasn’t all that impressed. After all, there were numbers and graphs and charts, and psycho-babble about what those statistics meant. I had spent the better part of a year testing a group of deaf children to find out how the development of language influenced cognition. His eyes remained focused on the middle-distance. Then I said,

“You know I did all of this by hand, right? We didn’t have computers.”

The Rocker grew up with personal computers. Not just at school, but at home Bob was a very early adapter. Granted they were bigger, and cumbersome, but we were like that family that got the first color TV on the street. Or maybe the first black and white. So it was no surprise to see how well the Rocker could integrate his God-given musical talent with technology. That pioneering spirit came straight from his genes, from a Dad who never stayed within any line he ever saw.

In fact, when people ask whatever would Bob do if he retires, I think to myself, he will always be hungry – he will never be afraid to be foolish.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” was imprinted on the back cover of the last old school paper edition of the bible of innovators, The Whole Earth Catalog. This book turns 45 years old today – a mere blip in time – but it was like Google before personal computers, and its creative genius was Stewart Brand. The single most influential guy in Steve Jobs’ universe.

…it’s almost impossible, to flick through the pages of the Catalog and recapture its newness and radicalism and potentialities. Not least because the very idea of a book changing the world is just so old-fashioned. Books don’t change anything these days. If you want to start a revolution, you’d do it on Facebook. And so many of the ideas that first reached a mainstream audience in the Catalog – organic farming, solar power, recycling, wind power, desktop publishing, mountain bikes, midwife-assisted birth, female masturbation, computers, electronic synthesizers – are now simply part of our world, that the ones that didn’t go mainstream (communes being a prime example) rather stand out.   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/05/stewart-brand-whole-earth-catalog?CMP=share_btn_tw

Maybe Bob will start the first commune/co-housing community for old Boomers and revolutionize the continuingcare/assistedliving/nursinghome industry? I can see it now, the Rolling Stones and Parlor Mob playing in the dining barn.

As for me, there will always be meals to prepare. We celebrated a friend’s graduation yesterday from UVA. An amazing wife and mom of three, Michelle is an exceptional NICU nurse who completed her doctoral thesis and will Walk the Lawn today. Congratulations Michelle, my former roller derby cohort, you are inspirational on so many levels for young women today.

And of course, since we are always hungry, I made lobster pot pies!  IMG_4435

Read Full Post »

Call me crazy, but yesterday I picked up the latest, golden-colored Atlantic magazine with a picture of the Donald on the cover. “The Mind of Donald Trump” is the cover story, all about how a psychologist would dissect the Trump brain, what makes him tick. Since he had recently entered my dream life, yes folks, Donald gave me six million dollars for a book deal, In. My. Dreams., I figured I owed myself a reckoning. But I didn’t read that story, I read the one about kids, and achievement, and toxic stress. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/how-kids-really-succeed/480744/

It seems we are now a country with more than 50% of children living below the poverty line, requiring free or reduced lunches at public schools. Once I got over that shocker, I read on…educators are looking beyond standardized test scores to predict why some poor kids fail and some thrive in school. They are looking into the character traits that contribute to a child’s academic success…

“…often referred to as noncognitive skills, or character strengths—that include resilience, conscientiousness, optimism, self-control, and grit. These capacities generally aren’t captured by our ubiquitous standardized tests, but they seem to make a big difference in the academic success of children, especially low-income children.”

In other words, who has true grit? Lo and behold, research has shown that this stuff cannot exactly be taught. It takes a combination of forces, all environmental (although if you ask me, nature plays an important role here as well) that combine in the right way during early childhood, and can be enhanced by a certain pedagogy. And most importantly, if a child is raised with “toxic stress,” he or she will adapt to school in a way that makes learning nearly impossible. They will close off and become “behavior” problems.

Toxic stress is defined as severe and chronic stress, the kind a child living in poverty is more likely to encounter. Is it safe for them to play in the street, or walk to school? Do they see loved ones routinely, are they consistent when they do ? Are they hungry, can they sleep at night? Are their needs being met? Imagine a child growing up in Syria, or Chicago. Stress baths a developing brain with all the wrong signals.

In a way, they are learning not to trust the world, or anyone in it.

“When those signals suggest that life is going to be hard, the network reacts by preparing for trouble: raising blood pressure, increasing the production of adrenaline, heightening vigilance. Neuroscientists have shown that children living in poverty experience more toxic stress than middle-class children, and that additional stress expresses itself in higher blood pressure and higher levels of certain stress hormones.”

Yesterday I also got a note from the Bride telling me that a certain Principal was moving from their neighborhood school to a magnet school. Yes, in Nashville there are public elementary schools where one can be immersed in Chinese and learn to stand and speak in class, into a microphone, with impunity. Students grow their own veggies and feed into the very best high school. The problem is getting into those schools is a matter of luck – it’s a lottery system. Which in my mind seems cruel and unusual.

It’s one thing to abandon “No Child Left Behind,” which arguably didn’t work anyway, but then to offer the best practices at only some schools in the country is a piecemeal approach to the problem. Fostering a feeling of belonging, a willingness to learn and resilience almost always comes down to each individual teacher.

Let’s train and teach our educators, ALL of them, to foster true grit in their classrooms. Failure is OK, keep trying. Don’t say to the boys who sit at the back of the class with their caps pulled down covering their eyes, “We know who the losers are in this class.” Let’s make every school magnetic, with high expectations for every student and : “…less lecture time; fewer repetitive worksheets; more time spent working in small groups, solving problems, engaging in discussions, and collaborating on long-term creative projects. It’s a style of teaching and classroom organization that is relatively common in independent schools and in wealthy suburbs but quite unusual in inner-city public schools.”

School is almost out for the summer. It’s time to raise a child who feels her or his world is a safe place. Let’s work on our children’s resilience this year, a little indomitable spirit never hurt anyone. It’s takes a piece of grit to create a pearl.  IMG_4265Yesterday, the sun came out.

 

Read Full Post »

While eating a burger at Bob’s flying club last week, I happened to meet a young entrepreneur. Eric Walden was all decked out in a uniform, with wings on his shoulder and his cap. Then much to my surprise, I saw him again last night on the late night local news. The anchors’ hook was something like:

“Have you ever wanted to fly like the rich and famous?”

For the vast majority of people, commercial flights are the only option, but Albemarle County pilot Eric Walden is hoping to change that by making private flights an option for people who aren’t among the richest in the world.

“There’s a whole lot of other people that have the need and the desire to travel privately, but a lot of them don’t know that it’s available,” said Walden.       http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/New-Charter-Flight-Company-379228591.html?

With expectations high for more airport delays and missed connections this summer, I’d say he started the right business at the right time. Walden owns a turbo-prop Daher TBM 850 that can carry up to five passengers. He can fly higher and faster than Bob’s Piper Arrow, and if say five people wanted to split a ride to Nantucket, the price compares favorably with commercial tickets – AND there is no time lost waiting in TSA lines!

Walden has been flying for 25 years and comes from a long line of aviators; his great-grandfather first flew a monoplane in 1909. The name of his charter flight company is Little Hawk Logistics.

And speaking of birds, I’ve had a bluebird battering my windows lately. He, or she, is staying at the back of the house for the most part, on the first floor. One day I was using Bob’s computer to do some book editing, and between the bluebird knocking and the generator recycling itself, I could barely think! In researching this problem, it seems it is male birds fighting off their reflective rival, and once a female is attracted and a nest secured the window battering should stop. Unless it’s a cardinal?!

Here are some ways to prevent this behavior:

  • Decals or paper shapes placed inside or outside the window
  • Strips of tape, plastic or paper arranged in an irregular pattern
  • Soaping the outside of the windows either fully or in a pattern
  • Placing non-reflective screen outside the window 2-3 inches from the glass
  • Adding one-way transparent film or opaque plastic to windows
  • Repositioning an outdoor plant or flower basket to block the window view
  • Closing outside shades or blinds if possible

It’s another rainy day on the Blue Ridge. In fact the headline before the story on Little Hawk Logistics was, “Rain Fifteen out of Last Seventeen Days!” I guess I am not alone in feeling like mildew is spreading at my feet and rust is clogging up my joints.

So let’s dream for a moment about the sunny future of aviation this weekend. If you’re anything like my hubby, you will love this story out of Germany. It seems they are developing the Lilium Jet, a small helicopter-like plane for private use – think The Fifth Element! It will be to aviation what the Tesla is to the auto industry.

“The company’s aircraft concept promises flight without the flight infrastructure. It will require an open space of just 225 square metres — about the size of a typical back garden — to take off and land. The Lilium Jet can cruise as far as 500km (310mi) at a very brisk 400kph (248mph), and reach an altitude of 3km (9,900ft). And it recharges overnight from a standard household outlet.” http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160512-the-flying-machine-in-your-back-garden

Here is the Love Bug preparing to go over her Checklist for departure to CHO!

IMG_1469

 

Read Full Post »

Once, when I was writing for the Berkshire Eagle, a headline went something like this: “Sunshine for Six Days Straight!” True. Because of the topography, similar in some ways to Seattle, Pittsfield, MA was overcast and grey much of the time. That is, when it wasn’t covered in snow. Spring was called “Mud Season,” and summer was fleeting. I’m sure Climate Change has affected New England, and maybe it’s warmer and sunnier up there, but I’m pretty much done with this “Omega” thing that has Central VA stuck in endless overcast, cold, rainy days.

“Scattered Showers for Two Weeks Straight!”

When my sister Kay, and niece Karen came to visit, after my Nashville trip, the mountains did a disappearing act. I swore up and down they really were there, under that blanket of clouds, and I know they believed me. And all the old-timers are telling me not to despair, cause we need the rain, we’ll be happy in August when it’s triple digits…And I don’t need to wear a sun hat…another silver lining for this ex-waterfront counselor who gets a basal cell carcinoma scraped off her nose every few years.

Yes, this is the down-side to having a ski-jump nose.

Still, I’m getting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And I’m sorry to be a downer folks, but there is good reason: 1) I was alone for Mother’s Day – OK that’s not unusual, but it still hurts; 2) Two 90 year old family members were just hospitalized – they’ve been released but…; 3) Trump seems to have won the nomination; 4) The Love Bug has a cavity.

Oh and let’s discuss Prince for a moment. We advertise for laxatives on TV when our opioids make us constipated?! Hello! Prescription pain addiction is a huge problem that started awhile ago – remember Elvis? Let’s drag out all the experts, until the next celebrity succumbs, and talk about heroin addiction on the campaign trail ad infinitum. Until we stop waging a WAR on drugs, and treat this as I’ve said before as a Health Policy issue, we are the real enablers of this epidemic.

I know this does not seem like the end of the world list, and since I don’t like to use the term “First World Problems,” I won’t! But the rain has granted me more time to research the Flapper for my book. Where were the restrooms located in speakeasies? What was the alcoholic content of beer sold in drugstores? What kind of lighter was used to ignite cigarettes?! And since this is historical fiction I know I can just “make stuff up,” but I’d like to have a believable context to work around.

Maybe today I’ll throw on an anorak and head to the garden store for some flowers. The time to plant was last weekend, and I’ve been dragging my feet, since planting in a slow, steady rain isn’t my thing, but if I can’t actually see the mountains I might as well look out on some pretty pots. Maybe we should call Spring in the South “SAD Season?”

Here are two sisters, with identical noses, dodging raindrops! Kay was like another Mother to me, it’s like I had three moms growing up. Forgive me, it’s my Blue Period. And thanks to Karen Bisset for the picture – her company is fabulous btw! http://www.fromthecradle.biz/about-us.html13151762_788085601326885_8141167915272270988_n 2

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: