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Archive for October, 2019

My Nashville family has returned home from New Zealand and Australia. They Ubered straight from the airport to their home, just a few hours after we’d tucked the Grands into bed. Bob and I were happy no bones had been broken during our tenure. Well, just my left thumb, when a basketball landed straight on it in the Sound Waves pool. This was ostensibly the highlight of their week with us, the biggest water park in the world!! (maybe) at the Grand Ole Opry; but for me it was always those tender bedtime talks.

I found out that the L’il Pumpkin loves school. He really loves learning, and can now count by tens! He also plays alphabet Go Fish with aplomb, proving he’s ready to read. And the Love Bug is so sweet she offered to finish singing my Yiddish lullabies because my Fall cold was having its most severe effect on my throat. In fact, my croaking voice wasn’t relaxing at all, it only made them giggle.

Pop Bob had fun fixing little things around their house. Like any good pilot, he had his checklist of things to do – new batteries for the dogs’ invisible fence collars, fix master bathroom door, replace the silverware holder in the dishwasher. I texted my daughter in the middle of their trip, asking her if they might mind all this fixing-up? Great Grandma Ada had once warned me about stepping on the toes of in-laws.

The Bride replied, “You are welcome to fix as much as you’d like!”

After all, they are a busy professional couple. The Groom was accepting an award for his Vanderbilt research in Melbourne, at the World Congress of Intensive Care in collaboration with Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS). As much as we’d like to think the world is flat and connected by technology, there is still something to be said for actually meeting up, face to face, with others around the globe doing research in your field.

Still, we could Facetime with them after meeting a koala! And I could pull out my smart phone at Sound Waves and slo-mo video the Love Bug under a waterfall!

I was reminiscing with Bob about his primitive use of early video cameras, the kind you hoisted on your shoulder in the 80s. Just then the Rocker texted us – did we happen to have that stop-action film he made in our NJ garage with his Star Wars action figures? He was just about the Bug’s age when he and a friend would spend hours recording Luke Skywalker’s adventures in minute detail. If the weather wasn’t conducive for a trip to the beach, creativity ensued on that cement floor.

The L’il Pumpkin and Pop Bob assembled an incredible Star Wars battle station in Legos while I drove the Love Bug to basketball practice one night last week. And just like that, this morning, my son and his new company Totem has released another amazing Star Wars trailer, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

All those years ago, in our garage with his imagination, and later with his bandmates. Music was always playing in his mind and through his fingers. I am trying to convince the Bride that we should all be Star Wars characters for Halloween because,  “The Story Lives Forever.” Here are our little Jedi Knights at the museum.

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It’s a generational thing I think. I like to read. Sometimes I write or watch TV. Since Bob retired, I’m staying busy keeping up with him. And we’re currently grand parenting which means I’ve inherited the two grand dogs too. It’s a full house!

This morning, once the kiddos were out the door, I found myself strangely enough listening to a podcast. We have no cable and the Sonos doesn’t speak our language so music has been limited too. I’m planning to watch tomorrow night’s debate online.

In my sort-of-self-imposed news sabbatical, I turned to the New York Times on my phone! And there it was “Modern Love” a podcast:

Https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/09/style/modern-love-podcast-connie-nielsen-ann-leary.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good story. I just don’t walk around with earbuds in my ears listening to my own personal sound track while life takes place around me. And to be fair, I don’t know many Boomers who do. I know not to stop and pet a millennial’s dog on the street. The sheer nerve of me, wanting to interact with a stranger!

And just so we know they are in another universe, wireless ear buds are getting bigger and brighter. Like neon signs flashing, “Couldn’t be bothered.”

But I started playing “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive” on my cell, about a couple going through a rough patch in their marriage, while I was brushing my teeth. The only time I paused the podcast was to step into the shower. It caught me unaware. It moved me – there are so many penguin marriages. It made me think of Janis Joplin.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin left to lose.”

If tennis was a metaphor for this marriage, what is mine? Driving? Bob was never an athlete, he tried racketball once and screwed up his shoulder. He’s just not the competitive type. I grew up on the stuff, camp teams, color war and game nights; maybe it’s an Irish thing? Sometimes I can get him to play Scrabble with me.

The Love Bug is currently on a girl’s basketball team. It does my heart good to watch her play even though at this age it’s more about socializing. But she’s all about the rules I’m happy to say. There will be no “Dennis tennis” in her life.

When a nine hour drive to visit the Bride and family was a recurring trip, I’d listen to This American Life and a few Ted talks in the car, but not anymore. I wonder if our grands will listen to podcasts in the future? It’s really just an old fashioned radio show when you think about it. With a few ads thrown in to pay the bills.

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Does wisdom really come with age?

Or is it just another word, in a cacophony of Tweets by this President, meant to deflect our slow but steady march to impeachment? Bob has been saying for days that starting a war would win him the next election. But after trying to tarnish his front-runner, Joe Biden, and watching Bernie Sanders succumb to an MI, maybe Mr T thinks abandoning our allies in Syria will turn the tide.

After all, we’re not talking Ukraine today.

Today, my 92 year old neighbor and friend, Berdelle, will be meeting up with 95 year old President Jimmy Carter to jockey a nail gun with Habitat for Humanity. Sporting a black eye and 14 stitches from a recent fall, this ex-President has more wisdom in his little finger than the current inhabitant of the West Wing. He arrived in Nashville yesterday with the much-needed rain:

“Country music singer Eric Paslay performed “Deep as it is Wide,” a song he penned about the hope for something bigger and better than us.

“In a land full of songwriters and singers, we’re always trying to say I love you in a different way,” he (Carter) told the Habitat volunteers huddled under a white tent and sheltered from the morning’s storms. 

“… It’s amazing how Habitat shows love to the world. You can say I love you, but when you go out with your hands and your feet, that’s the strongest way. You don’t even have to say anything.'”  https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/10/08/president-jimmy-carter-nashville-habitat/2432826001/

Actions do speak louder than words. And my way of showing love to my family has always been with my cooking. Ever since the temperatures have started to fall, I’ve been making soup. There’s just something about a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove that says comfort food. Since I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, yesterday I made the Bride’s special Peanut Soup! Mostly it’s carrots, onions and sweet potatoes, with a kick of ginger and peanut butter.

Bob delivered said soup to Ms Berdelle while they were planning a Fall garden. I had never heard of a “Fall garden,” planting vegetables like kale in October. My past Yankee experience was limited to planting bulbs in the Fall. Wisdom comes with so many lessons; love is in the details. Like spreading seeds and plants throughout your urban neighborhood. Like getting up when you fall, and fulfilling a promise to build homes in Nashville.

This is what true leadership and wisdom looks like.

Hands building homes instead of typing off Twitter tirades. I mean, if the Lords of Twitter can block you for hate speech, or trolling a celebrity, or showing your breasts, then why can’t our Golfer-in-Chief be blocked for spreading lies? He’s threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy, while polling for impeachment climbs to 58%. I was wondering what might convince his Republican comrades he’s run amuck.

The chaos Mr T’s Twitter feed has created is unmatched in history. I prefer to chop up the holy trinity of onions, celery and carrots for a soup base, and maybe add fresh sage for wisdom.

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I was talking with Great Grandma Ada this morning and I mentioned that disrespect, or its evil cousin “contempt,” is a most toxic part of some marriages. I figured this marriage counselor had seen her fair share of marital discord over the years. We started off discussing how Pompeo is holding Congress in “contempt” by refusing to hand over documents relating to our President’s abuse of power in Ukraine, and now VP Pence has joined this “League of Sycophantic Gentlemen Eager to Ignore a Subpoena!” 

Ada pivoted immediately from politics to personality. She told me how she had always wanted to do a study of newlyweds, specifically of videos detailing how they handled the whole wedding cake situation. I blurted out, “Oh, you mean did they smash a piece of cake into each other’s mouth?”

“Yes,” she said, she could usually predict if a relationship was going to last by the way they fed each other cake on their wedding day.

Nine years ago, my reluctant Bride was having nothing resembling a huge, monstrous, wedding cake at her ceremony in an apple orchard. No, she chose cupcakes that would be named after her dogs – Bailey’s Irish Cream and Guiness’ Dark Chocolate – and since we didn’t have an MC to set aside a special time for cutting a cake, guests were served their tiny sweets during the reception on a rooftop downtown. I added small maple sugar candies, the kind the Bride loved as a child in the Berkshires.

They went so fast, I’m not sure if the Bride and Groom even tasted them?

Their marriage has grown into a mutually supportive, loving and respectful partnership. Getting along with your partner in the good times is easy; but getting along through grueling residencies and fellowships, punctuated even now by weeks of MICU on-call-endless nights and emergency phone calls, takes commitment and courage to a new level.

Ada brought up Melania Trump, how she slapped her husband’s hand away. I mentioned a recent video montage of world leaders looking disgusted and appalled at Mr T’s remarks. What are the signs of contempt?

“Here’s some common signs that contempt is underlying the negative tone in a conversation.  Eye-rolling suggests contempt.  An upper lip raised on one side suggests contempt.  So does a sarcastic tone of voice.  Beware if you have these habits, and also if you have been on the receiving end of these negative communications. They are sure signs that someone is not listening or listening to deprecate you (or you to deprecate your partner), not to gain understanding.

Empathy and contempt are polar opposites.  Empathy involves caring about others feelings and concerns.  Contempt is arrogant (“I know best”) disregard, dismissal and denigration of others’ concerns.  Empathy nurtures relationship bonds; contempt invites relationship and marriage problems.”  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201303/how-contempt-destroys-relationships

Will House Democrats have the WILL (I was going to write a different word, but after having to look up “BLANK Strap” thinking Mr T meant “boot strap” which he didn’t, I thought the less coarsening of language the better) to impeach? What will it take for this League of Sycophants to release the documents desired so that articles of impeachment may be served? Will they claim executive privilege once again? Shall we remain a sovereign state? These old white men are in contempt of court and we are a nation of laws. Straight jackets have come to mind.

Meanwhile, here is the Love Bug learning how to decorate a cake. It’s up to us to model  empathy, to teach kindness.

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Happy October from Nashville, the home of a seemingly endless summer. Yesterday it was 101 in my car! And Happy Jewish New Year to everyone, now is the time to do a deep dive into our souls. Right up until Yom Kippur, Jews everywhere will be condensing years of therapy into this holy week, asking ourselves what we might want to change or do differently in the future. In other words, let’s make some New Year’s resolutions.

Resolved:  To worry less – Lately I’ve been worried about early onset dementia. What will Bob do if I suddenly start dialing the microwave in hopes of making a phone call? Also why am I getting dizzy every time I lay down? Maybe I shouldn’t list all my worries right now if I want to worry less.

Resolved:  To laugh more – Finding humor in the strangest places is my God-given right –  and self-deprecating humor is an Irish tradition! For instance, I was telling everyone on erev Rosh Hashana what a thrill it was to steal an olive in an Italian abbey last year, which led to stories of petty vandalism by everyone. Belly laughing ensued.

Resolved:  Never to steal again.

Resolved:  To bake more – I secretly want to be a contestant on the Great British Bake Off! The Flapper was an excellent pastry chef, and her specialties were coconut birthday cakes and banana cream pies. Therefore, in the past I’ve limited my cake skills to carrots; but I’ve always been a pastry snob, never touching a dessert at a party unless it was home made. So for my birthday I made a savory olive and ham cake. I found the recipe on a French paper towel.

Resolved:  To disconnect more from social media – and the news for that matter. I’ve been thinking lately about what we would do before everybody had their necks craned at an odd 30 degree angle. Hint – We’d talk to one another! Whenever I leave the house without my iPhone (refer back to my first “worry” resolution) I first become alarmed, and then I settle into this nice homeostasis of contentment. Nobody can find me! I am FREE to flutter about without checking Instagram or responding to another Trump joke.

Resolved:  To bloom where I’m planted – I married a gypsy. Let’s face it, Bob’s not happy unless he’s moving or planning a trip. I hear, “Where should we go next?” and I think, “Why not walk over to the Farmer’s Market.” He’s global, I’m local. I’m starting Pilates to go with my T’ai Chi but I need to work on staying present, and all that new/old/age stuff. If Ms Bean can suddenly start heading up the stairs at bedtime with us for the first time in 2 1/2 years, I can get over any fear! Right? I mean she’s older than me in dog years.

Resolved:  To try not to experience too much Schadenfreude during this whole impeachment inquiry thing –  Well, let’s face it, you had to see it coming. We are going to need a new name for this debacle, maybe not one with the suffix of “gate.” After all, Watergate was a condo complex, and “Ukrainegate” doesn’t do it justice. But my pleasure in seeing Trump’s fall, like Gulliver all tied up by his larger-than-life ego, may be supplanted by pain if Pence takes the oath of office. Still, a little Schadenfreude is good for us:

“…if you’re more science orientated… In the last 15 years, evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists have got very interested in Schadenfreude as a functional emotion – as opposed to deviant, diseased passion which is how it has been seen in the past. It makes sense that would have evolved to enjoy seeing justice done, and transgressors get their comeuppances. Studies show that seeing bad people punished even if they don’t know they’re being punished, like when we see a waiter spit in a rude customer’s soup – activates the reward centres of the brain, the dorsal straitum.”  https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/12/18/why-taking-pleasure-in-others-misfortune-can-actually-be-good-for-your-mental-health/#2b174cb46526

Republicans need to do some serious soul searching this Fall. It’s time to stop the old bait and switch mentality and stop using words like “traitor” and “civil war.” Running our country like its his own personal fiefdom is about to stop. The shofar has sounded. This “witch hunt” is over!

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