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Archive for October, 2018

The circle of life was evident on Sunday when our Reform Jewish congregation wrapped the Torah around the sanctuary. We were there to welcome the latest students of Torah, over twenty First Graders are beginning their path toward Tikkun Olam – the tradition of repairing the world through acts of loving kindness. When I was studying Judaism, preparing to convert in 1978, I embraced this codified concept; it would become my “raison d’etre,” although I didn’t know it at the time.

” (Hebrew for “world repair”) has come to connote social action and the pursuit of social justice. The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria. The term “mipnei tikkun ha-olam” (perhaps best translated in this context as “in the interest of public policy”) is used in the Mishnah (the body of classical rabbinic teachings codified circa 200 C.E.). There, it refers to social policy legislation providing extra protection to those potentially at a disadvantage — governing, for example, just conditions for the writing of divorce decrees and for the freeing of slaves.

This was why my Temple’s committee was exchanging stuffed animals for toy guns at a peace fair.

Why I would find myself writing more and more to persuade politically in a newspaper column.

Why I dragged the Bride and my niece Lucia to a Planned Parenthood rally in DC.

We arrived early on Sunday when one of the older congregants opened the Temple door asking, “Are you here for the Consecration?

“Yes, as a matter of fact!” And as we unloaded Great Grandma Ada’s fire-engine red rollator and settled  Great Grandpa Hudson into his wheelchair, I noted there was only one policeman inside; no patrol cars outside, no armed guards, not even somebody directing traffic.

The day before, our country witnessed one of the cruelest acts of evil at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. A deranged gunman, shouting Anti-Semitic slurs, killed eleven elderly people and injured more, before being arrested. Yet again, media will ask why and how could this happen? And yet again I propose an answer – because of our beloved 2nd Amendment. There are more guns in our society than any other developed nation.

We don’t have more mental illness! We don’t have anymore Anti-Semitism either! Although if incidents of Anti-Semitism have increased by nearly 50% last year in the US, one could argue that our social climate has changed, that what was once whispered can now find a megaphone in platforms online and in the hate speech of certain politicians. If Mr T tells us there is evil on both sides, if he must be persuaded to speak out against Anti-Semitism by his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, and if his followers believe in fake news unless it’s on FOX, where can we turn?

There is a shift in the fabric of the universe.

Brazil has elected Jair Bolsonaro as President, an extreme Right Trump-like politician “His reckless plans to industrialize the Amazon in concert with Brazilian and international agribusiness and mining sectors will bring untold destruction to the planet’s largest rainforest and the communities who call it home, and spell disaster for the global climate,” Amazon Watch program director Christian Poirier said to CNN.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not run again for office in 2021, and speculation is that she may step down sooner. Saint Angela is paying the political price of keeping Germany’s borders open to migrants, stirring that nationalistic fervor, that spark that lead millions of Jews to their death in the last century. A cold chill went down my spine when I heard this news. Will Germany follow in the steps of Brazil, and the recent autocratic elections in Hungary? Will Germany elect a Trump?

While we were gathered in prayer this past Sunday, Mr T was playing the song “Happy” at a campaign rally in Indiana. He joked about his hair. There was one true thing he said, “We just don’t seem to learn from the past.” 

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Yesterday, a young man at Kroger approached us while we were self-checking out. Bob was scanning a bottle of Chardonnay as I was pulling my driver’s license out of my feed bag; TN needs to check everyone to make sure we’re old enough to drink! The guy looked at my holographic ID and smiled while he punched in a code, muttering under his breath, “Libra.”

Turns out he’s a Libra too, so we felt an instant sympatico.

Don’t tell me, it’s all hogwash, right? Most scientists dismiss the Astrological Signs as an ancient attempt to understand human behavior. But there was a period of time, back when I actually read a paper newspaper and before going to the obits first, when I’d scan my horoscope eagerly every morning.

“Libra energy enhances our social graces and turns our attention to beauty and style. In Italy, there’s an expression known as la bella figura, in which Italian natives not only dress to impress but also exhibit their brightest, best personalities when in the company of others. Libra transits help us achieve that kind of inner and outer beauty, making us feel like the fairest of them all. http://astrostyle.com/libra-horoscope/

Libra’s symbol is the scale, which really does sum me up; moderation in all things, equal justice for all, staying balanced and centered with a daily practice of T’ai Chi. But since you’ve probably either accepted or rejected your zodiac sign, I thought I’d share with you  the latest semi-crunchy personality test to hit the street: it’s called the Enneagram! Not nearly as fun as the zodiac, you only receive a number from 1 to 9, but perhaps just a tad more scientific.  https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test

And when you finish the test, let’s align our Chakras!

Turns out this Libran is a number 2, which the Bride had predicted. Also known as “The Helper,” I’m one of those people, people who NEED people. “Selflessness is their duty. Giving to others is their reason for being. Involved, socially aware, usually extroverted, Twos are the type of people who remember everyone’s birthday and who go the extra mile to help out a co-worker, spouse or friend in need.”

I guess I am La Bella Figura! After all, I was dressed up as an infant to delight my dying father.

And I accept the number 2, except for the remembering of birthdays part. I barely remember my own birthday but I get that by helping others, we are really helping ourselves to feel good. And what’s wrong with that? I honestly can’t cope with the latest news about pipe bombs trying to wipe out my party. It’s insane, has our country become one large crazy fiefdom run by the Tweets of a Cheeto?

Bob and I voted early this week, and we’re talking it up everywhere we go (ps in Nashville strangers talk to each other).

So don’t get distracted by the news, pick yourself up, take a tiny personality test, and VOTE early! It was a super sunny cold day, so I got out my fleece for the first time.

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After waiting quite awhile for my Uber, I’ve got my boarding pass in hand because for some reason I couldn’t check-in online. What in God’s name did we ever do before the internet? My job in this not-yet-frozen tundra is done. My brother is on the road to recovery.

Being the youngest of six children has its drawbacks; I could never get a word in at the dinner table, and I was always terrified whenever an older sibling drove me anywhere. It must have been part of the big brother contract – always drive fast in small sports cars.

My brother Dr Jim likes to reminisce about growing up “poor.” Since he remembers our Year of Living Dangerously I assume it’s true. But for me, growing up in Victory Gardens, I never felt “poor.” I wore that awful maroon uniform to Catholic school, always had enough food and a new pair of shoes. The Mahons provided unconditional love and puppies so what else did I need?

When asked about his hobbies, Jim who is still a working psychologist, likes to talk about golf. All his teenage friends were getting golf clubs one Christmas and the Flapper told him,

“There’s a country club down the road, maybe you can get a job as a caddy?”

Jim’s goal, once Spring arrives is to get back out on the golf course, and back to work of course. My short term goal is to celebrate the L’il Pumpkin’s Birthday once I get back to Nashville.

Long term? Voting in a Blue Tsunami and maybe a little Karaoke. I was 16 when Jim got his first Lieutenant bars. That’s the Flapper on the right!

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The turnaround was quick; maybe I should have been the 60s stewardess instead of my sister Kay? One day you’re walking on a beach trying to avoid stepping on sea slugs, and the next you find yourself packing for snow “showers.”

In the meantime, we finally installed The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Great Grandma Ada’s TV! I have a feeling she is destined to become a binge watcher, after all, once I introduced her to Pinterest all bets were off. She would still like to find artistic inspiration from paper and not her iPad, but she jockeys technology like no other 94 year old I know.

I left Bob a few instructions: Don’t watch The Greatest Showman without me! Don’t early vote without me! Keep an eye on Ms Bean’s swollen jaw, she and Maple aka Meatball had a bit of a tiff while we were away.

And speaking of the great showman, we were discussing Stormy losing her lawsuit against Mr T this morning on the way to the airport – Bob tried telling me that public figures have a different standard of proof for slander. That because she was an actress we get to say whatever we like about her, First Amendment and all that.

Not so sure I agree. And if someone started a Go Fund Me to help Stormy pay T’s legal fees count me in. After all, on this gorgeous Fall day as I’m about to take off for parts up North, I was thankfully NOT patted down randomly by TSA. So there is Hope.

Because I managed to squeeze in a haircut with my favorite stylist!

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It’s Fall Break y’all so we’re checking out another part of Florida. While everyone else was heading inland to Disney, we thought we’d try our luck on Anna Maria Island and lucky for us, Hurricane Michael passed us by!

I’m not complaining but there are basically NO bugs here. You’d expect to be fighting off mosquitoes at dawn and dusk, but I’m remarkably bite-free. I have seen pelicans, piping plovers, white egrets and a Great Blue Heron.

Our transport for the past few days has been “Meatball,” an eerily quiet, electric golf cart/dune buggy that reminds us of the Mini Mokes of old. This vehicle is the highlight of our trip for the L’il Pumpkin who just asked us if the moon is far away and we’re moving or is the moon moving?

Pretty astute commentary from an almost four year old bouncing around in the back seat!

The infamous red tide has started to recede. There is a faint, funky smell on the bay side of the island, but the Atlantic side is just fine. Hurricanes and tropical storms tend to rearrange the beach and bring new life to inlets and tributaries.

This little seven mile stretch of Florida has surprised me. It’s quaint. Old fashioned. Friendly. It’s like we stepped back in time to a small LBI meets the Vineyard.

Tonight we stopped for ice cream and they actually had a flavor called “Super Man!” We are missing Oktoberfest at home but wish you all a happy Fall!

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Buon Giorno! It seems that most of our little courtyard of Nashville neighbors are traveling to Italy this season. Rocky’s parents, a cute young couple, just returned from hiking around the Amalfi Coast, and Kudra’s mama is currently in Cinque Terre! FYI Rocky is about three pounds of Yorkie-mix and Kudra is a sweet grey tabby cat. Lucky for me, I’m the kitty sitter.

I love coming over to my neighbor’s house in the morning. The sun streams onto the screened porch and cute Kudra climbs up on my lap for a pet, or maybe a love bite depending on her mood. You can’t hear the street noise, only birds and squirrels, so it’s almost like a meditation; no Bob asking me where I’m going (to the bathroom honey), no TV background Michael Avenatti noise or pundits wondering how Supreme Court Justice “I Like Beer” Brett Kavanaugh managed to be sworn onto the highest court in the land.

I’m done listening to prevaricators, and all the useless prognosticating…this weekend just plumb wore me out.

The weekend started out Thursday on a high note however, I accompanied Bob and the Bride to a Planned Parenthood shindig with our delightful 91 year old neighbor, Burdelle. The keynote speaker was Irin Carmon, the co-author of the 2015 book, “The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” I couldn’t wait to hear how this legit, liberal icon on the SCOTUS got her start.  https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/books/review-notorious-rbg-the-life-and-times-of-ruth-bader-ginsburg.html

Ms Carmon, once a writer and editor for Jezebel, is an “…MSNBC journalist known for her smarts and feminist bona fides.” She was quite charming in person, strode right up to me and introduced herself. I immediately wanted to know more about her, this Harvard alum, this confident, competent young woman who wore bright red lipstick. Before I knew it, I was in a tight circle of women looking at her wedding pictures – Ruth was her officiant!

“She came all the way to Brooklyn,” Carmon said. Her talk about Justice Ginsburg did not disappoint.

Did you know there’s a children’s book about RBG? The Love Bug has a copy –  “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark.” So just to be fair, I had to stop by Parnassus and pick up a signed copy of the Property Brothers new children’s book, “Builder Brothers: Big Plans” for the L’il Pumpkin. Not that girls don’t build things too…insert strong arm emojis now. Wasn’t sure if I should include a picture of the Bug in her pussycat headband planting an oak tree, or this one?

We #StandWithPlannedParenthood

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“This job has side benefits!”

Great Grandma Ada said, as two tall, handsome young men escorted her to the stage. And so the laughter began.

My Mother-in-Law Ada was the honored guest and a featured speaker at her retirement community’s 2nd Annual Fall Film Festival yesterday. This particular organization has over a thousand continuing care and assisted living campuses all over the country. Their incredible “Optimum Life Engagement” director, Carol, met Ada months ago and enlisted her immediately, since we all know how charming and disarming this 94 year young Brooklyn babe can be!

We arrived early for the Red Carpet! Carol had provided a special parking spot, an actual handler (Lauren, an adorable Millennial), and hair and make-up people. The tech guys in the back adored the Marvelous Ms A…I was looking for E! News…

I told her later she threw a little Bette Midler into her speech, but she said, “No, don’t you know who my three famous role-models are?” I guessed to no avail – then she said, “Sophie Tucker, Margaret Mead, and Eleanor Roosevelt!” Not a bad trio.

Her son Jeff told her she’d hit the big time, corporate America. This was no Hadassah talk, after all, she was following a series of short films that residents had created on iPads to help celebrate aging and change some stereotypes.

It was an emotional rollercoaster, one woman used a teapot from her grandmother as a metaphor for her feelings about agism. A man saw the reflection of his younger self as he transitioned from home to a motor home. But listening to Ada was like rolling down the home stretch. She told us about being a family counselor, living in NJ for over 50 years and finding herself in TN. Feeling bereft at first, but taping into her sense of humor and a determination I knew she would find again.

“Life has other plans,” she told us, and she chose life. The Jewish Community Center has voted her IN, and last night we celebrated with Turkish food, her favorite. Just as her great grand daughter is starting Hebrew School this month, Ada is starting to bloom in this fertile Southern soil.

ps #HireAda was trending last night! Could talented senior motivational speaker be her next act? Here is Dr Ada with her new manager, Carol, backstage in the Green Room.

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