Archive for November, 2017

What the heck is happening? First, Clarence Thomas, then Donald Trump, and now Garrison Keillor; right after our Minnesota Nice Guy published a piece supporting Al Franken? And really, Charlie Rose…

It’s getting hard to keep track of all the sexual misconduct allegations swirling about, let alone the height of a North Korean missile launch, and where it might land in the continental United States. To be fair, we were in LaLa Land all last week, blissfully unaware of “Breaking News.”

Except for the Little Pumpkin, pulling up a chair to help me chop vegetables, and looking into the mirrored backsplash at himself. “Nana,” he said, “I almost lost my eyebrows!”

“Join the club!” I said, while everyone burst out laughing. Ah the joys of being a redhead.

My beautiful and amazing SIL Jorja (also a redhead) hosted over 20 people for Thanksgiving. The childrens’ table on the patio was so adorable, I actually wanted to sit there. The last time she cooked a bird was in 1998 – since she and my brother Mike opened The University Club in Oxford there’s always been a professional chef at the helm. But California got sunnier once Jorja moved West, and the feast she prepared (with some pies and lasagne thrown in for good measure) was delicious!

From 7 months to 70, we all had a jolly good time. Especially all of our little cousins!

We stayed with the Bride and Groom in Venice Beach. We rented bikes and tooled down to the Santa Monica Pier with the kiddos in a trailer. Bob successfully tried out a Segway. We walked along the Boardwalk, and one day we strolled along the canals. The Love Bug got to play with the Rocker and Aunt Kiki’s new kitten. We all tried some Poke, which is Hawaiian, a bowl of delicious sushi-like yumminess.

I discovered yet again that I love the Golden State, and it’s been good to my son. The Rocker just won a Clio for his work on Dunkirk. Chances are you’ve seen a new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer that he composed.

I wish I could find the old elementary school tape that he and his buddy Alex filmed in our garage. They made a meticulous stop-action cartoon using little Star Wars action figures. How could I explain to his teachers that in fact, he was able to concentrate When He Wanted To Create Something.

Now that we’ve returned to Nashville, I worry about this next generation of young boys. I taught my son to respect women, but my generation was so busy making feminism work, passing Title IX, telling our little girls that one day they too could be President, that we may have forgotten a few simple rules.

No means NO. Asking permission is not the same as getting permission. And it’s never OK to run around in your skivvies in a workplace. Unless you’re three years old and fully potty trained, then the whole Nature Boy look is appropriate. Now, it’s time for action and adventure! And while we’re at it, let’s go look for those missing eyebrows.



Read Full Post »

It’s that time of year. A time to think about gratitude and sheer luck – we happened to be born in these United States and not in say, Syria. We get to roast a turkey and kick back to watch football, we’re not packing up our meagre belongings to flee across borders, escaping bombs, and worse. We’re making cranberry sauce. We’re trying politely not to talk politics.

Bob and I are packing tonight for California. We’ll be catching up with the newlyweds, and meeting up with nieces and cousins for Thanksgiving. My amazing Sister-in-Law, Jorja, is hosting the combined clan in Pasadena. Big props to her, she lost my brother Mike several years ago, but family is everything to her. And she just moved to Cali to be closer to her grandbabies, so we can relate!

Did I mention the Rocker won two Clio awards? He composed the music for the trailer, Dunkirk, the movie by Christopher Nolan about WWII. About altruism and honor, sacrifice and courage. I was thrilled when he told me, almost as an aside. I remembered when we sat at a cafe on the street in Silver Lake, and he saw Nolan get out of his car. The Rocker was still “taking meetings.” I had faith in him; somehow, I knew everything would work out. I can’t wait to see those golden statuettes!

So this Thanksgiving I am grateful for:

  • My Little Pumpkin running into my arms
  • My Love Bug singing to me as a turkey in her school play
  • Bob agreeing to move to Nashville
  • The Bride and Groom in their new house, paying off their med school loans
  • The Rocker and Aunt Kiki not just surviving, but thriving in LaLa land
  • Great Grandparents who are still living independently

Life is about change, I know. And I vow to embrace whatever the future holds. I am California dreaming and I prefer not to think about North Korea, or a president who tweets like a Kindergartener. I’m happy not keeping up with CNN. I’m happy making chicken masala for our crew tonight.

Despite our differences, we Americans can gather around our Thanksgiving tables, and be grateful we are free to worship and speak freely. We are free to take a knee. We are free to be… totem poles of love.






Read Full Post »

Make it stop! Let’s admit it. We all want it to stop; every day a new allegation about some older white guy sexually harassing a younger woman.

You would think we are a country born of Puritans who would impeach a sitting president for a consensual affair with an intern. But hey, it was a BJ in the Oval Office. And she was an adult with a proclivity for berets. And anyway, he admitted it, and apologized, right?

This was a part of the conversation I was having with my hair stylist, Chase, this week. What we didn’t know at the time, was that another crazy white man whipped out his semi-automatic rifle in California and fired at an elementary school, killing five people. Like many mass murderers, he first killed his wife. When news started to trickle out, I was taking a selfie of my new hairdo. Oblivious, I drove through the Gulch and met Bob for lunch.

My brother’s daughter teaches music in a California elementary school. Her two beautiful little girls attend the same school. Initially, I panicked. Then I learned that all praise was going to the school secretary for locking down the building so fast. Or God, with thoughts and prayers. I’m so sick of thoughts and prayers. Praise Jesus, all those “active shooter” drills have paid off!

Chase and I like to discuss how organized religion has ruined many a family gathering. He grew up Southern Baptist, never feeling accepted, while I talk about Catholics and Jews. I’m sure everybody and their grandparents will be talking about sex around this Thanksgiving table, after they hold hands and thank God for our abundance. The whole school shooting thing will be simply a footnote, next to Aunt Mary’s oyster stuffing.

I became weary of all the sexual allegations floating through social media when I read a piece about my hometown hero, John Grisham. Author, lawyer and handsome script writer, he was being interviewed by a British journalist to promote his latest book, “Gray Mountain.” Maybe he thought he was safe to speak freely? He said he thought sentencing for child pornography has gone too far, he cited a buddy of his in Canada who had “too much to drink” and somehow downloaded something about 16 year olds. It was a sting operation.

“He pushed the wrong buttons.”

And so Twitter took off calling Grisham a pervert when he was merely stating a fact. There’s a lot of middle aged white guys in our prisons it would seem! “The length of federal sentences for child pornography has increased 500 percent in the past 15 years, according to the advocacy organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums.”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/10/16/john-grisham-says-sentencing-for-child-porn-offenders-is-too-harsh-they-arent-real-pedophiles/?utm_term=.aee6aaca0fdf

But hey there are hardly any mass murderers in our prisons, mostly because they either shoot themselves or are shot by the police. Look at that TX church shooting last week. Was it only last week? Why a vigilante hopped into a truck with his gun and pursued the killer. Now that, people, makes great news coverage! Everybody should own an arsenal of guns, it’s the American way after all.

Even Grisham’s thrillers have some overtly violent undertones. Although I rather appreciated his argument, that the actual makers and distributors of this particular genre called child porn should not get less time in prison than the guy with a laptop. In a robbery of innocence, they’re not even driving the getaway car, these balding bad guys are watching the chase on a monitor. So they are complicit, but to what degree?

This does not excuse Roy Moore, who was banned from roaming a mall on the hunt for young girls. I hope the voters in Alabama can make the distinction between active and passive participation. Or will they believe it’s all a conspiracy from the “fake news?” Sexual harassment is a bipartisan affair, but taking the NRA’s blood money is NOT.

Look at Al Franken! He was a comedian at the time he supposedly French kissed a USO cast mate (with her permission) and “pretended” to grope her while she was allegedly “sleeping”; he wasn’t running for the Senate at the time. Oh, and she was an adult, an active participant in a comedy routine.

Another funny man, Louis CK , has found his bad behavior plastered all over the news. Most women I know never thought he was funny, there was always too much anger underneath his persona. If you want to know what male white privilege looks like, it’s him. He thought that by asking a woman (again an adult, and once 2 adults) if it was OK if he whipped out his willy made everything just fine. Almost a consensual self-mastabutory act in order to burn off all that stage energy. And he hasn’t really apologized, though I’m sure he’s “seeking help” since his career is tanking.

The American people decided that mass murder is just a part of the deal we made with the devil and the NRA, and until recently, sexually boorish male behavior was acceptable, so long as it’s not rape. And maybe now we need a sincere apology, so long as the particular aberration involves a penis and not a gun, oh it doesn’t involve children. Molesting vs killing children?

After all, Mr T’s little hands have been known to do their share of groping. He liked to walk into the Miss Teenage America dressing room to see girls as young as 15 naked, and bragged about it. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/timeline-of-trumps-creepiness-while-he-owned-miss-universe-w444634

Let’s hope he doesn’t push the wrong button.

The California gunman this week next killed his neighbor before going to the school. “At the time of Tuesday’s attack, Neal was out on bail for assaulting a neighbor with a deadly weapon in January, police said. That neighbor, whom police did not identify, was among those Neal killed during his rampage.” His second victim was his neighbor. Isn’t it strange how crazy people don’t kill so many people in other countries?

But the fact that a known domestic abuser with an arsenal had run amok hardly caused a ripple in the media…guns are endemic to our American society. It’s a cowboy culture, canonized in the film industry. The Second Amendment is our right! Five years after the Sandy Hook massacre, we’d much rather debate electing a pedophile in a red state.


Read Full Post »

It’s been a busy weekend. Not busy like Great Grandpa Hudson’s busy Veteran’s Day celebrations, but busy enough. On Saturday, Bob and I stopped by a new Vietnamese restaurant opening in our neighborhood; and that evening we saw the spectacular “Jane” documentary with the Bride’s family, about Jane Goodall and her beloved chimps of the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. As we were leaving the theatre, I remembered interviewing Dame Goodall in Rumson in the 90s.

She was slight like the Flapper, elegant in an easy way, no makeup with her grey hair pulled back in the proverbial ponytail. Wrapped in a long poncho. I remember the determination in her eyes, so focused and bright.

Last night we walked down our alley to meet our 90 year old neighbor, Burdell, and walk to a presentation on the history of Germantown. Our little outpost neighborhood in Nashville started out with an abundance of slaughterhouses in the 1840s and began developing into a mixed residential area until the 1950s. It was an old-school slide presentation and when a certain house on Monroe St appeared, Burdell whispered, “Turnip greens.” Seems a woman would sit on that front porch yelling, “Turnip greens!” all day long.

And I thought I had entered into a Southern novel and was wishing my sister-in-law Jorja  was here.

Burdell and the man wielding the laser light single(or double)handedly rescued Germantown from becoming an industrial zone in 1979. The city wanted to build an emissions testing garage across the street from those venerable old homes, so our buddies ran quite a protest with press coverage and champagne and donuts! Certain homes became historic landmarks and an architectural review board convened to save the tiny row houses and bungalows from extinction.

Now we are back to being a mixed residential zone, only the new condos and apartments being built are hardly affordable. In fact, a new town home next to an old funeral home and across from a pet store just sold for over 1M.

At least that’s what Bill told me. This is how I get my news these days, from neighbors walking past our porch to the coffee house; from Bob’s “damage report” every morning; from BBC and Nashville Public Radio; and for up to the minute “breaking news” from Twitter. I’m changing my habits. Gone are the days of yelling at Morning Joe over coffee. Instead, this morning I watched a video clip on my laptop from the Today Show of Joe Biden.

First I just watched his facial expressions, without sound. Then I punched in the sound as he answered Savannah Guthrie’s question about some juvenile Tweet Mr T sent regarding North Korea’s leader being “short and fat.” Biden was measured and serious, we are no longer laughing at Mr T’s buffoonery. He said he’s known many presidents, and that our children and grandchildren are watching, that our country used to lead by “The Power of our Example.”

We all know you can teach a child through lessons, words and workbooks, but it’s our example as teachers and parents that sifts through their consciousness. I wanted the Love Bug to see “Jane” because she also loves animals, and being outside collecting bugs. If you want your child to not develop an eating disorder, you don’t grab their arm or threaten at the dinner table. One models a healthy lifestyle by living it. Just thinking about two man-baby leaders trading sarcastic middle school Tweets with those same fingers that can access nuclear codes is more than horrifying.

They are putting humans on the endangered species list. When Jane’s chimps ventured south on the Gombe, they were systematically annihilated by a different group in that area. Territory is hard-wired in our brains I’m afraid. And Mr T goes to China and comes back with a branding agreement for his name to be used on hotels and escort services among others, but nada on North Korea. There is a move to impeach this president, have you signed the Need to Impeach Trump petition yet? https://www.needtoimpeach.com

We are walking on a tightrope.



Read Full Post »

Out of the blue, my Little Pumpkin asked me yesterday from his car seat if I knew why he didn’t like Donald Trump. I had to ask him to repeat himself because you know, he talks like a three year old, but as soon as I said, “Why?” (why is one of his favorite words actually), he replied just as clear as a bell,

“Because he’s mean.”

So I prattled on about how Mr T is also a narcissist and a bigot, but still it’s not nice to call people names. The world of adults can be very complex. Teaching a child to be polite at the dinner table for instance, while flossing your teeth would be a No. Talking about politics in the car with a toddler who is just out of diapers for naps, probably not a good idea.

And because there is a wall of kindness in my neighborhood – an art installation meant for people to Instagram their ideas of kindness around the world – I’ve been thinking a lot about morality, and plain basic decency lately. How can we teach children to be ethical when it seems like all bets are off in this post-Trump year. Our Grabber-in Chief leads the pack of men behaving badly.

The Republican Senate candidate from AL is being defended by his good ole boys, quoting the Bible. Hitting on teenaged girls it would seem is acceptable, but for Kevin Spacey, hitting on teenaged boys is not. Isn’t being a pedophile a uni-sex situation, universally condemned? The Catholic Church has finally figured it out. This is the murky field of dreams, or nightmares, we seem to be wading through – thank you Harvey Weinstein…

The Love Bug and I watched the artist, who flew to Nashville from the Twin Cities btw, painting her gorgeous bouquet of flowers on the back wall of a restaurant at twilight. She was sitting high up on scaffolding, like Leonardo with floodlights, when I asked our Kindergardener what kindness meant to her. The Love Big said,

“Letting other people go first.”

Now I must admit, she was always a sensitive child. Whenever I would play a game with her, she would purposely try to let me win. And depending on your point of view, that can be a good trait, or a bad one. But for this old feminist, I thought maybe she needs to get a little more pushy, like her Mama at that age who was leading the pack of bad girls in preschool. I remember always pulling her aside to say, “That (behavior) is hurting your friend’s feelings.” Or, “Think about how you would feel if…” As a grandparent, I realize more and more the pull of nature over nurture.

Maybe it’s time we women went first for a change! Teach our girls to fight hard, with their words and maybe even their fists if need be. To push bullies away, to yell when some boy starts behaving badly.

We swept up so many legislative seats last Tuesday, women of all colors and even a transgender woman, who unseated an incumbent conservative in VA, that I came close to crying. Something I won’t do in public. And in MN, a Black transgender woman won a seat on the City Council. So many Democratic women won, I think because of the Women’s March and the “Trump Effect.” Pink pussy hats and all.

The survey found that 70 percent of Democratic women were “appalled” by Trump’s victory, more than two-thirds were “shocked” by it, and more than half reported feeling “angry” and “depressed.” Nearly three-quarters of Democratic women reported “a sick feeling” when they saw Trump on the news. The women with the most visceral reactions were roughly four times as likely to engage politically after Trump’s victory than they were before it. For Democratic women in New Jersey and Virginia, casting a ballot may have represented yet another way to express their displeasure with Trump. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/11/09/in-tuesdays-elections-women-won-big-here-are-three-things-we-learned-about-women-and-politics/?utm_term=.e9aaf4695e2b

So yes my Little Pumpkin, Mr T is mean. But his election may have started a revolution, and like Madame Thérèse Defarge, we women are pretty angry and out for revenge after years of patriarchy and white privilege, with our knitting needles and our vote. And no, my sweet grandchildren, revenge isn’t good per se. #Kindness is listening to everyone’s story, #Kindness is Compassion.






Read Full Post »

On Saturday, Bob and I met the other in-Laws, Grandma Shavaun and Grandpa Mike, at Monells for brunch. We enjoyed a serious, family-style Southern meal that included the Bride, Groom, kiddos and another group at the same table. Lots of biscuits, bacon, chicken, corn pudding and cinnamon rolls were passed along with the requisite eggs and pancakes!

The Groom’s parents had arrived from VA to help celebrate a certain little Pumpkin’s birthday.

On Sunday, the Love Bug’s little brother had his 3rd birthday party at a gymnastics training center with the whole preschool class in attendance. Lots of jumping, swinging, balancing and climbing ensued while parents milled about talking about the latest childhood illness or the best barbecue. Just as I was uploading a picture of my grandson to Instagram, sweaty and smiling, a news alert popped up on my Iphone. Another shooting.

I wonder if the Bride and the Rocker remember me dragging them to a Town Hall meeting with my friend Betsy. Do they think about collecting all those toy guns at the community college, where we handed out teddy bears in exchange for water pistols. I wrote about that Republican congressman in the paper, the one who didn’t want to receive all those toy guns at a Town Hall, because he voted against the assault weapon ban. His incumbency was over at the next election.

Researchers have also examined the laws: a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines was passed in 1994. It was lifted in 2004.
Experts said lifting the ban helped to usher in a new era of mass shootings. With these weapons, individuals could shoot faster and for longer periods of time – and consequently were able to kill more people in their attacks.   http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41890277

We forget that once upon a time we didn’t sell these deadly Ruger AR-556s. President Bush didn’t exactly lift the ban, he just let it run out. He could have pushed to extend its life, but instead it’s now much easier to mow down a large group of people in a very short amount of time. Killing people is all this rifle is good for, so maybe just maybe soldiers should be carrying them, but Joe the Plumber? http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/11/everything_we_know_about_the_sutherland_springs_shooter_an_ar_556.html

America the beautiful, where our health is regulated and our guns receive the finest care.

I felt sick serving birthday cake. It’s hard to explain the combination of helplessness and hopelessness that sinks into one’s soul at the news of another mass shooting in the middle of a 3 year old’s party. But here are some numbers to contemplate:

This particular AR-556 was manufactured in Mayodan, NC after the state that gave us a bathroom bill offered the gun company, Sturm, Ruger, & Co. “…as much as $13.7 million in tax breaks, after a bidding process in which the state raised its offer three times.” The CEO of that company made over 4 Million dollars in 2016. The company employs over 2,000 people in their factory that used to dye yarn for textiles; “At the beginning of October, 11,600 Americans had been killed by gun violence so far in 2017.”

And THREE of our worst mass murders have occurred in the last 16 months thanks in large part to the availability of the AR-556.

  • Pulse Nightclub, Orlando  =  49
  • Las Vegas Concert  =  58
  • Sutherland Springs, TX  =  26

And it’s the mental health of our legislators that I am calling into question. If only Dr Seuss were still alive, he could write a new book. You could be shot here or there, you could be shot anywhere.

The sound of thunder woke me early this morning. Please vote today, vote for your grandchildren. Vote for a sane gun policy. Get out your umbrellas, a little rain shouldn’t stop you.




Read Full Post »

A psychologist friend once told me that 80% of our lives are filled with duties, things we feel obliged to do, like cleaning the kitchen let’s say. Or visiting a sick friend with a pot of soup. This same doctor told me it’s alright to lower that ratio, to do more of what we really really want to do, and less of all that obligatory stuff. Now that’s a hard pill to swallow for a recovering Catholic school girl, but since our move I figured I’d give it a try.

It’s an age old philosophical question, that may inform some of our political divisiveness today. For instance, Kant wrote about ethical dilemmas that were universally accepted. Is it ever OK to lie? Or, by allowing a society to think that lying (alternative truths) is acceptable, don’t we call everything anyone ever says into question?

It’s the credibility factor, this feeling we Americans have of watching our government implode like an episode of Big Brother or Celebrity Apprentice. For Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a metaphysical philosopher, morality consists of differing layers of duty:

“…a duty is something that we are obligated to by the Categorical Imperative. In other words, it is something that that we can see as a universal rule for all of humanity necessary for a morally just society.” 

…a perfect duty is one which one must always do and an imperfect duty is a duty which one must not ignore but admits of multiple means of fulfillment. Kant specifies two imperfect duties: the duty of self-improvement and the duty to aid others.

So maybe we could try to get our imperfect duties down to 50% self and 50% others?

For Great Grandma Ada, painting is her time for self-improvement and learning, mixed with friends and fun. For me, the practice of writing weekly, attending workshops and authors’ readings are my ways of self-indulgence. For the Bride, keeping up with her continuing ed credits and practicing yoga to prevent burnout help to improve her life. And for the Love Bug? Well just about everything is about learning these days, but she already told me she loves music class!!

Now when it comes to our “duty” to aid others, this is the divide I’ve noticed in our political life. Since the extreme right Tea Party takeover in the late 90s, there’s been less cooperation in government and more castigation. The whole #MAGA movement held a kernel of truth in its inception. Gone are the days when we were the world leader in democracy. Only Mr T hasn’t really been making us great again, he’s been digging our collective grave.

Few countries look anymore to Trump’s America as a global exemplar, the “city upon a hill” Reagan spoke of in his farewell address to the nation. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel is routinely described as the leader of the free world, the moniker bestowed on the US president since the days of FDR.
The Economist, which trolls Trump almost weekly, has described Chinese President Xi Jinping as the most powerful man in the world. American exceptionalism is now commonly viewed as a negative construct. “Only in America” is a term of derision. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41826022

And partially this fall from grace is due to a new GOP philosophy of individualism – that Ayn Rand sector of old white men. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it. It’s “all for one” and no one for all. Of course they want to abolish taxes for their richest 1% of donors, and they don’t care about millions losing their health insurance. They’ve become callous pioneers of a myth they’ve sold middle America.

Lately I’ve heard that many of my VA friends, who are self-employed, are losing their Anthem coverage. These people are certainly not impoverished, but they may be if they have to quadruple their health insurance payments. Now they didn’t vote for Mr T, but I wonder what his followers are thinking. It’s funny how the word “entitlement” only applies to others, to “socialists,” until they reach age 65, or have their insurance companies pull the rug out from under them.

If the White House has truly become an “Adult Day Care Center,” we can only hope that Mueller finishes his investigation soon, and that Republicans with a conscience stop quitting politics altogether and step up to the madness before it becomes an existential crisis. I’d like my 5 year old grand daughter to have more days filled with music, and less active shooter drills.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: