Archive for November, 2016


It’s raining this morning in Southern California. One can’t complain because the state has been experiencing six years of drought. In fact, the Rocker had us watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary film “Before the Flood” last night. It’s on Netflix and I highly recommend it. 

It’s about the astonishing rate of Climate Change our beloved planet is experiencing, and what steps we need to take immediately to stem the tide. To stop the tsunami toward damnation that H Bosch depicted in his 16th Century triptych “Garden of Earthly Delights.” http://m.mentalfloss.com/article.php?id=65670

And so we are ending our beautiful Thanksgiving week the way it began, driving during a deluge. We are grateful for this rain and the magnificent coastline just a few feet away. Yes the sea will continue to rise, but so shall we to its challenge. 

We are grateful for our family; for raising adult children who still want to hang out with us. For the Great Grandparents still living independently and with passion. 

For our Grandbabies – for their always astonishing love and free spirits! For our friends, near and far. And for you dear reader. You have been kind enough to lend me your ear all these years. We’ve been through quite a bit together; this started out with the Bride’s wedding and we are fast approaching the Rocker and Ms Cait’s big day. 

I am thankful for you. 

But before we head home, Bob and I will take a detour to my sister-in-law’s memorial in MN. Dr Jim’s wife, Anita, died suddenly after a devastating stroke right before Thanksgiving. They married when Jim returned from Vietnam in the early 1970s. 

He met his future bride while First Lieutenant Jim was studying at the Monterey Language School before his deployment. Anita was that rare California bird, native to Northern California, slender and sassy who always wore the boldest, shortest mini skirts with white gogo boots.

When he introduced her to his East Coast family, we were all dazzled. I remember thinking I was thankful Jim survived the war, but thought I would lose my brother forever to the kind of girl the Beach Boys immortalized. My sister Kay and I were sitting at a table outside a NYC cafe at twilight, I was sipping a Grand Marnier. 

We had arranged to meet them that night, and as she walked down Madison Avenue heads turned. A colorful exotic blonde bird of paradise had landed in our cement jungle. The smell of oranges has been forever associated with my handsome brother’s return alongside his beautiful West Coast bride. 

Anita was a designer, an artist who reluctantly left her Left Coast home to follow her husband to the arctic chill of Minneapolis. She was always opinionated, but soft spoken. She loved my brother fiercely, and she helped care for the Flapper in her old age with a sweet and calming kindness. I will always be thankful for her. 

May her legacy be an abundance of California sunshine with just the right amount of nourishing rain. Her love and laughter will continue through my brother, their daughter Lisa, her California nieces and nephews and my LA children. 

Here giraffes can graze in a garden that meets the ocean. After the memorial, Anita will be returning to her paradise. 

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This morning I asked the Bride if this is the first Thanksgiving we won’t be together. She reminded me that when she was in Paris during college we were apart.  “Ah yes,” I said laughing, “but you had your brother!” 

And this year we have her brother!  We are in California with the Rocker and Ms Cait, and since the Groom couldn’t leave his new post, the Bride and her family will stay in Nashville. Our Big Chill group has been splintering lately too, lots of new grandbabies to welcome into the world. Congrats Al and MJ!

It’s been fun exploring the Gold Coast with Bob. Thinking aloud about retirement, after all it’s been all of two weeks so far. What would it be like to live among the dream weavers of Southern California? The climate is great, the fish is fresh, the people seem happy! But our grandbabies would be so far away.

So we play the If – Then game. If we live in Nashville, then Nana gets her heart’s desire. If we live in Santa Barbara, then Pop Bob gets to walk on the beach every day. 

Bob likes to say, “If my grandmother had balls, she’d be my grandfather.” Tacky I know,  he picked up that little ditty from his father, who liked to point out the stupidity of playing an “If – Then” game. Like for instance, whoever thought that IF Mr T ran for President…he might win?

Which brings me to the latest fiasco of newsworthiness – the controversy over a certain CNN news crawl. You know the header under talking pundits on a political show that’s trying to give the American people both sides of an argument. Only my side, which I might call “extremely liberal” and others may call “progressive” was pitted against the “alt right” sometimes called the “alt Reich.”

Never mind that the majority of citizens fall into a huge bell curve in the middle of those two extremes. We seem to have elected a President who David Duke endorsed, who settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit over his fake university, who is being charged for raping a 13 year old, and who thinks Breitbart is the news leader. Have you noticed that nobody’s talking about emails anymore. 

“If Jews are People”

That was the header under CNN while talking heads debated the pros and cons of their political pendulum. And just like Shakespeare might have a dream within a dream, the nightmare continued with the headline “CNN Sees Twitter Backlash Over If Jews are People Headline Crawl.” Like the only thing that went wrong here was the poor intern who typed in that chyron. Let’s all pile on social media shame shall we?


Because the writing has been on the wall this whole time. Mr T doesn’t like reporters unless he has them in his pocket. He loves the Twittersphere because he controls the message. Our very First Amendment is in peril people, because a despot has won the keys to our kingdom. Celebrity apprentices will rule with abandon. 

It’s not funny. It’s not Entertainment News anymore. Reality TV and the real media are merging into a dystopian future we should have seen coming. 

I asked Zoltar if it’s time to sew my gold jewelry into the hem of my jacket. He said, “Yes.” 

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Alright folks, it’s been a week and a half. According to President Obama it’s time to stop all our belly aching and get back to work. At least that’s what he told his White House staff after the election – moping shall cease and desist, like they’ve been on one long, communal shiva call with the rest of the country. Even though Hillary will win almost 2 Million MORE votes than the comb-over, it’s not a Popular Vote contest, is it?

“We probably have about 7 million votes left to count,” said David Wasserman, an editor at Cook Political Report who is tracking turnout. “A majority of them are on the coasts, in New York, California, and Washington. She should be able to win those votes, probably 2-1.” By mid-December, when the Electoral College officially casts its ballots, Wasserman estimates that Clinton could be ahead by 2 percentage points in the popular vote. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/clintons-popular-vote-lead-will-grow-and-grow/507455/

So what’s a girl to do, besides sign up for the Million Women’s March on January 21? Watch a little Turner Classic? Walk your dog? Meditate to a new mantra; #LoveTrumpsHate? Find things for your newly retired hubby to do, like throw out half the spice cabinet? Cook up some comfort food? Well, sure all of the above, plus I’m reading a good book of historical fiction to take me back in time, way back, to the island of St Thomas in the 1800s.

“The Marriage of Opposites” seemed like a good title, since Bob and I have always said no modern day algorithm would ever make us a match. And I love Alice Hoffman! Because it’s now in paperback, this book has been a perfect traveling companion, from NJ to Nashville and back again. What I didn’t know is that she is telling the story of a certain French Impressionist painter, a real life Sephardic Jewish man born on St Thomas who was destined to take over his family’s business but wanted instead to paint.

He was born Jacob Abraham, but instead used his French name “Camille” Pizzarro; perhaps Hoffman has changed the spelling from Pissarro to keep this a fictional tale? I was well into the book before I realized who this last child of Rachel Pomie would become, the “Father of Impressionism,” the man who married his mother’s maid and began painting outside. The friend of Degas and Monet, he preferred living in the French countryside and was influenced by Gustave Courbet. His paintings “…dignify the labor of peasants in communal villages, reflecting the socialist-anarchist political leanings that the two artists shared.”

And in synchrony with my rebellious mood of the moment, it seems Pissarro is one of many early Colonial artists currently on exhibit at the New York Historical Society: “The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World” opened November 1st and runs through February 26. The first Jewish settlement of the New World was in New Amsterdam in 1654, when Brazil expelled 23 Jews to this early Dutch Colony of New York. http://observer.com/2016/11/colonial-jews-who-knew/

The curator said that during this time, Jews were not seen as “invisible outsiders.” They had certain freedoms in our new country, to worship as they wished and to flaunt society’s norms. It seems unimaginable that almost 4 centuries later, a man has won an election by preaching about discriminating against our current invisible outsiders of the moment…Mexicans and Muslims. He even dreamed of punishing women who would seek an abortion. Is this the America we all learned to love in grade school?

Once I was stung by a bee under a clothesline of billowing sheets. It is my earliest memory, the first time I felt as if I didn’t belong. Nell was not my mother, my name was different.   Today the feeling remains.


Woman Hanging up the Washing, Camille Pissarro 1887

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Yesterday we went out to a favorite Cville bagel joint for brunch. You can’t order steak and eggs with a Bloody Mary while reading the Sunday NY Times a la my good ole days – before marriage, before children, before leaving the NY metropolitan area – but you can get a good approximation of a NY bagel. I ordered smoked turkey on an everything bagel, with vegetable cream cheese and sprouts. It was always the Bride’s go-to choice, if it wasn’t going to be lox.

What I didn’t order up was a side of racism.

Because our local news had a story about how some of Bodo’s Bagels customers had been openly hostile this post-election week. Granted, we’ve been hearing reports about an increase in bullying all over the country; but when I read that someone didn’t want one of “those people” making their bagel, well I have to admit I did get a little pissed!

A popular Charlottesville restaurant chain claims its employees have become the targets of prejudice-related harassment following Tuesday’s election. Bodo’s Bagels is taking to social media to tell people who promote hate to stay away from its shops.

Scott Smith wants Bodo’s to be an inclusive place

“The business is conceived as being inclusive really from the ground up both on the customer and employee side,” Smith said.                        http://www.nbc29.com/story/33695338/bodos-owner-speaks-out-following-harassment-toward-workers

Bodo’s is the kind of place Democrats love. You have to stand in line to order, in fact the lines are often long. You can weave around the front of the store and feel like you’re in a Disney line for Space Mountain. When you finally get to a cashier to place and pay for your order, you are standing right in front of the kitchen and you can see everything that’s going on. You are given a ticket with a number on it. No names like Panera or Starbucks, just a number.

Then you mingle with a hungry crowd waiting for their number to be called. Chances are you meet somebody you know or make a new friend on the spot!

Yesterday the line went out the door, and stayed out there the whole time we were eating brunch. The parking lot was every man and woman for themselves…all colors, all ages, we all knew why we came there yesterday, some of us after church, some before heading out to a matinee. I wondered aloud if the owner would hit the best Sunday sales record ever, if they would run out of food.

Hate is a fascinating subject, it feeds on prejudice. After moving South, I remember distinctly the first time I heard a woman tell me she went to a smaller hospital in the area because she didn’t want “those darkies” taking care of her. I remember a friend telling me her mother would not go to Red Lobster for the same reason. Every time I drive into town, I have to pass a big Confederate flag waving at me, as if it’s saying, “Look at me, you will never be rid of me.”

I asked Bob if there was a way to tally up how many fender benders there were last week, because I’m not the only one feeling like I’m sleep-walking through this post-election apocalypse. Can we keep a tally of the number of hate crimes? Is saying aloud you don’t want to walk up to “that” cash register a crime? Is hate speech saying you don’t want “that” person making your bagel? Has this President Elect unleashed the underlying hate and angst of the blue-collar White population and made it OK for them to voice their disdain for the “Others.” Since when did the party of the worker, of the underdog, of the Unions, become the party of elites?

I can’t listen to the pundits anymore, they are obviously clueless. And I’d like the few Republican friends I have left on Facebook to give it a rest. I know you are not racist, and I know you care, it is the extreme Right of your party that has prevailed. We are protesting because it’s our God-given-RIGHT to protest! People are telling me they feel like they did after Kennedy was shot. They feel like they did after 9/11. One person is moving so he can build a bomb shelter! WTF

Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and feel better? More determined to fight another day? To march in the Million Women’s March on Washington January 21st, the day after the Inauguration. Great Grandma Ada wants to go, and so does my niece Lucia from California who accompanied me on another similar march years ago.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/12/politics/womens-march-on-washington-planned/

Until then, let’s give to the ACLU, the International Rescue Committee, to Planned Parenthood. Let’s open our hands and our hearts to our fellow Americans, whatever color their skin or sexual identity they have, or head gear they choose to wear. Let’s say something when we hear hate speech, it is not acceptable. Let’s all order everything bagels at Bodo’s! And wear a safety pin like the Bride has been wearing, because #LoveTrumpsHate.   15094843_10210220151522257_1749270517854516976_n

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I’m living in a small sky blue speck, in a sea of blood red.

The Old Dominion voted for Hillary Clinton, as did most of the big cities and states on both coasts. But Trump’s clarion call swayed the majority of our electoral college, surprising my Democratic family and friends. Shocking me into a dystopian fugue state. Yesterday I actually felt like a zombie, which is to say I didn’t feel much. Great Grandma Ada asked me to explain it, and I had no words. My niece Lucia asked me what she should tell her daughters, and I had no words.

Whenever I am at a loss for words, I look to poetry, and so Bob Dylan came to mind given his recent Nobel Prize. I want to buy all his albums, in vinyl, and play them on an old fashioned record player, with a needle that gets stuck sometimes so you have to pick it up and put it down again. Because he spoke of the great divide, of the power elite who could send our boys to a swamp in Asia because our government, our country, thought we had God on our side. He called attention to the swath of red states, to the working class who today are called the vanishing middle class.

All those White people with no college degree, going nowhere, feeling left behind in the Rust Belt. One third of the Latinos who voted the GOP line, because they didn’t want anymore workers coming over here for free, taking their jobs. All those Evangelical Christians, who voted for the least Christ-like candidate our country ever saw fit to nominate. All those old men who could just never trust a woman to do a so-called man’s job protecting this country. All that free-floating fear and anger, don’t matter if he pops some Tic Tacs and kisses the hell outta you.

Many are brandishing their firearms, wishing the liberal elites take the next plane to Canada. Making false distinctions between love of country and government. I wonder how long it will take them to hate the new GOP government. Feeling self-righteous, they know not what they have done. But while our country is divided, the power players are smiling and gracious, talking about our democracy.

You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows.

Only time will tell what this “Historic” election means for Women, for the Undocumented, for Muslims, for the Climate. Our system isn’t rigged when a despot can win 279 electoral votes but not the popular vote, right; and the gerrymandering that flooded both houses on the Hill with red shall never be undone. Lobbyists are fleeing DC like rats from a ship.

But hark, the Dow is going up folks, because the Market hates uncertainty, so Wall Street must think they have a friend in this lustful Billionaire. After all, he could shoot someone and get away with it, he’s got God on his side! When President Obama shakes his hand on the White House porch today, I just may lose my lunch.

In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

The Groom told the Love Bug that, “Everybody gets a turn.” And even though we all thought this was Hillary’s turn, the people voted so now it’s Trump’s turn. And I would add the  biggest, loudest bully on the block will need to face Pocahontas, aka Senator Elizabeth Warren in four years, so we better get busy. The Boston Globe reported Warren saying: “I’m intensely frustrated by the apparent likelihood that, for the second time in five elections, a Democratic nominee will have won the popular vote but lost the presidency in the electoral college.” 

And just like Gore, I’m devastated. Just like McGovern and Humphrey, I’m feeling left behind. The wind is blowing brown oak leaves past my aviary window, circling and bobbing to their death, they are being tracked into the house. But the sun came up this morning. And my fingers found words again. img_5313

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Tomorrow I will be voting for our First Woman President! I am so proud to cast this vote, to pull the lever or press the button in honor of my Grandmother, Anna Robinson, who wasn’t allowed to vote when women suffrage was passed because she had married an “alien” Irishman. Immigration is the grand story of this great country, not it’s problem. But first let me fill you in on the last few days.

Returning home to my newly retired husband was a bit strange. People are asking me how is he doing, like we got a diagnosis of some dreaded disease. Yes, he still shaves in the car and puts his pants on one leg at a time. Don’t forget, Bob was never a 9 – 5, Monday through Friday kinda guy; he worked plenty of weekends and like a commercial pilot, had lots of free time around the house. I’ve already set some limits – no reorganizing the linen closet for instance. But do feel free to search and destroy random stinkbugs while cleaning out any expired cans from the pantry! Thanks Babe!

The Virginia Film Festival coincided with my return from Nashville, so we ventured out to the Historic Downtown Mall for dinner and a show. Only the film was midday, so dinner at the Nook came later, guess we are slipping into early bird specials already. We saw a documentary about the Holocaust…I know, I know. In the midst of this bizarre and stressful election denouement, why submit ourselves to such heartache. But it was a film about children, and I thought it might be uplifting.

The film, “Not the Last Butterfly,” was inspired by a poem written by Pavel Friedmann, “The Butterfly,” about never seeing another butterfly in the transit ghetto that was Theresienstadt outside of Prague in the former Czechoslovakia. Commonly called Terezin, it is sometimes mis-identified as a concentration camp, but it was a Walled Ghetto of Limbo for Jews awaiting their fate at the hands of the Nazis. It was a stop along the way for 15,000 children between 1941 and 1945. Pavel the poet was shipped to his death in Auschwitz in 1944. Only 100 children survived Terezin.

He was the last. Truly the last.
Such yellowness was bitter and blinding
Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.
That was his true colour.
And how easily he climbed, and how high,
Certainly, climbing, he wanted
To kiss the last of my world.

I have been here seven weeks,
Who loved me have found me,
Daisies call to me,
And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.
But I haven’t seen a butterfly here.
That last one was the last one.
There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.

In an effort to make this horrific history approachable for schoolchildren today, a teacher in California came up with the idea to create 1.5 Million butterflies: yes, One and a Half Million to memorialize the total number of Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Under the leadership of a mosaic artist, Cheryl Rattner Price, they set about designing a curriculum that would include each child making by hand a ceramic butterfly and painting it, while simultaneously learning about one particular child who perished during the war. It was a profound undertaking, and quickly spread around the globe and to many different faiths. A rock festival in Poland created butterflies. A Catholic school in Oregon took on the Butterfly Project. The installation has taken flight at the San Diego Jewish Academy, but the butterflies are arriving from all over the world.

Remember I had just returned from Nashville. I had given the Love Bug butterfly kisses on her cheek. So when they showed the archival footage of children during the Holocaust, I thought of my grandchildren. When they showed Jewish stores and synagogues burning during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, I thought of the the Black church that was burned down in MS last week, with “Vote Trump” painted across a wall. Slowly, tears streamed down my face, because I understood how hatred starts out. Slowly, hatred of the “Other” becomes socially acceptable, so that the electrician who came to fix our phones said, “Why should they get a free ride, when I had to pay for my wife to come here?”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/02/vote-trump-painted-on-wall-of-burned-out-black-church-in-mississippi/

So tomorrow I am voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton, for my grandchildren. I am voting for Love, because I don’t want to go back to a time where Women and Blacks were humiliated and disenfranchised in this country. I don’t want to go back to that great America where LGBT people were ridiculed and denied their rights. The Germans didn’t believe Hitler meant what he said, but we need to believe Trump means what he says; and he likes nuclear weapons and calls our military a bunch of “losers.” We cannot elect such a man filled with hate.

For more information about the film, or to see if you can arrange a showing at your school, please visit: http://thebutterflyprojectnow.org    img_5559


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My Nashville visit is coming to an end. It was short, only four days, but we packed a lot of sweetness into this visit, and that’s not including all that Halloween candy. 

Of course we stopped into Parnassus books with the baby, who is now officially two years old and no longer a baby. He is a happy camper and parrots everything we say. We played with the trains at the train table, made a new friend, and found a few new books. 

Last night was a double feature featuring “Little Elliot, Big Fun!” The Bride cuddled with the Love Bug and the Baby, ahem Toddler Bear, fresh from their bath. I had the honor of reading to all three from this beautifully illustrated picture book about an elephant on a boardwalk. A Jersey girl delight!

Little did I know it was a book about anxiety for kids. Elliot the elephant approached his walk on the boardwalk with trepidation. “What if” … questions littered his path. For instance he didn’t want to ride the big swings, because what if he flew into the water? He couldn’t swim. 

When we got to the part about the roller coaster, of course I went off script. The Bug said she wouldn’t ride a roller coaster and I had to agree. I never liked roller coasters and avoid them at all costs. Then I looked at the Bride and said, “Do you like roller coasters?”

I knew that my big girl loves roller coasters, even the scary kind they barely strap you into and swing your legs upside down. She and Bob would always ride them again and again. 

“I just LOVE roller coasters,” the Bride said. 

“Well,” said the Bug looking pensively, “I changed my mind. I really like roller coasters!” 

Because Life is a roller coaster and you’re not always strapped in very well, and your stomach can sink and your eyes might squeeze shut. And when it’s time to get off, you want to be sure you enjoyed the ride. 

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