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Archive for January, 2020

What’s a person to do in the middle of this Impeachment Trial, this theatrical show, a “foregone conclusion” as Andrew Yang has said? After reading that Republican Senators have been leaving the room, fidgeting with finger spinners, looking “weary and bored” according to the Associated Press, I thought our neighborhood association had a splendid idea – wine tasting!

My Go-To wine lately is “A to Z Wineworks” from Oregon, but I was willing to expand my horizons.

On Friday night we all gathered at Richard and Linda’s townhome that sits on the edge of a park. Our sommelier Calvin was delightful; he poured a delicious chardonnay from the Finger Lakes Region, “Fox Run Vineyards.” I happen to like love unoaked whites, and he told us the climate in upstate NY is similar to Chablis in France. The motto on their website is “Drink wine, Be happy.” https://foxrunvineyards.com/

Unfortunately, drinking wine hasn’t been making me happy since 2016. But I’m willing to keep trying.

Did you know some of the best wines today are coming from Virginia and Texas? Still, one of the finest unoaked chardonnays hails from California, at $90 a bottle – Williams-Selyem 2017. “California makes more wine than any other state in the United States. Not only does the state grow a variety of noble grape varieties like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, there are also plantings of lesser-known varieties such as Nebbiolo, Roussanne and Mourvèdre to name just a few.” 

Ever since the Rocker and KiKi moved out to LA, I’ve imagined myself a California girl. A most Progressive state, with no humidity, no mosquitoes and plenty of sunshine! So naturally Mr T hates it, why else would his administration threaten to cut federal aid unless the state drops its requirement that private insurers cover abortions. Governor Gavin Newsom said:

“California will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose, and we won’t back down from defending reproductive freedom for everybody — full stop.”

The California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, tweeted: “We will fight this by any means necessary.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/health/abortion-california-insurance.html

It’s hard for me to think of a more vindictive and malicious president in our history. He has been impeached, and knows he will most likely NOT be removed from his office, he will continue to hold his radical right-wing “rallies” and run again for a second term. Like every good con man, while we are all (A) looking at the Senate, bemoaning the lack of civility, he is (B) attacking a woman’s basic human right – to have control over her own body.

Again, this bully of a president threatens to withhold funds, but now instead of Ukraine he attacks California to please his base of white Christian zealots. “Let’s start by acknowledging that women are not things. Before we talk, like we have to, about what the attacks on abortion access mean for this anxious, awful political era, let’s establish as a ground rule that women are not vessels, or incubators, or an undifferentiated natural resource. Women are human beings whose human rights matter.”  https://newrepublic.com/article/153942/criminalization-womens-bodies-conservative-male-power

This is why your vote matters. This is why senators should actually be listening to Adam Schiff’s arguments, paying attention and not just getting their panties in a twist over his “head on a spike” comment. The GOP needs to stop whining and do their damn job! Remember that the GAO said Mr T BROKE THE LAW. Remember you can actually call on witnesses that were in the room. Remember the documents you are demanding are being withheld by the White House… We now have a tape of him saying Lev should “take her out” about the Ukraine Ambassador.

Our democracy is being held together, tenuously by our free press. Calvin and Linda are welcoming us into a new decade, this next week will no doubt set the course.

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It’s been a busy week: I started physical therapy; Great Grandma Ada had a visiting  friend from New Jersey, so I took her to a drag brunch; and Ada also regaled her JCC Book Club with a look back on her life… which will have to be continued since 95 years cannot possibly be distilled into an hour!

We did learn something new though – Ada was voted “Most Charming” by her Brooklyn high school class.

Since I’ve found the Senate Impeachment Trial of Mr T most distressing, and not charming at all, I refuse to watch it. Relying on the occasional Tweet to keep me up to date, especially of my favorite Senator Amy Klobuchar, it would seem that only Justice Roberts is taking this trial seriously. I’m glad he admonished both sides to keep it civil and behave with the gravitas the Senate chamber deserves.

A trial with no witnesses and no documents is still a trial worthy of respect. Right?

I was served a subpoena twice. Once a long, long time ago when I was working at Head Start in Jersey City I accidentally hit a homeless woman illegally crossing the street. Just as the sun came up over the skyline of Manhattan, I was blinded turning a corner and didn’t see her. My insurance company kept me in good hands and settled for the maximum amount on my policy.

The second time I was served we had just moved from NJ, and I had left my old car behind, it was a green Ford Explorer that the Rocker had inherited and drove to high school every day. But he wasn’t allowed a car on his college campus in Trenton, so we sold it. Or I should say, Bob sold it to a young man while I was in VA.

Long story short, he was arrested the next day for having marijuana in the car, my old Ford Explorer, and somehow or another I was still listed as the registered owner. Hence, a guy shows up at my door in Virginia ordering me to appear for a trial in New Jersey.  Again, a lawyer was deployed, money was exchanged, and a calamity was averted.

Isn’t it strange that I’ve never been called for jury duty, something I’ve actually wanted to do all my life, but I’ve been served TWO subpoenas! What if I didn’t have car insurance or the money to pay for a good defense? I was recently talking to a friend about Jane Fonda getting arrested for her Climate inspired Fire Drill Friday demonstrations.

I mean with all the protesting I’ve done over the years for women/human rights, why haven’t I been arrested? It’s almost a badge of honor today.

Congress should have subpoenaed Ambassador Bolton, sure, and he would have every right to hire a lawyer and fight it, if the Senate had the guts to call on him. It sounds like he’s willing to talk, and he might even lend some decorum to the proceedings, but his Republican cronies are afraid of the truth. They can’t handle the truth! 

Here is Amy Klobuchar’s early morning Tweet:

 “At 1:30 a.m. after a bunch of votes to stifle key witnesses the Republicans just voted down having Justice Roberts decide the witnesses! Why have this job if you’re not going to protect the Constitution? We are sworn to protect our democracy, not serve the President’s interests.”

Can you handle this cuteness?

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Last week I screwed up my courage and went to the doctor. As usual, it took months of misery and complaining to get me there because I’m surrounded by doctors and don’t want to trouble anyone with my minor problem which will most likely get better with time. You heard that, right? I have a major martyr complex.

Instead of dealing with my problems, and because i thought for now the threat of WWIII might be over, I focused my time on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – aka Harry and Meghan. https://sussexroyal.com/

So much stuff and nonsense. I’ve always been an Anglophile, like most Americans who love the British Royal Family precisely because we don’t have them – I’ve been eagerly anticipating the CNN special about the Windsors.

…binging on the Crown for awhile now too. Why? Maybe it’s the Queen Mother’s tiny purse, the assortment of Welsh Corgis, or the non-stop intrigue. Yes, they have castles and scads of money, but the Royals are also imprisoned in centuries of pomp and history.

I get that we can’t escape our destiny, even if we do live in a country without peerages and aristocracy. Princess Dianna wasn’t the first to chuck it all, let’s not forget King Edward VIII, Harry’s Great Grand Uncle, and Wallis Simpson – another poor, divorced American girl.

At first, I thought Meghan’s problems with life in the UK might have been what was keeping me up at night. Then I realized it was really my chronic neck pain; added to that was a severe pain in the ball of my foot if I walked Bean more than a block. Mind you, not sleeping and not being able to walk was all it took to get me to an adorable sports medicine doctor.

Yesterday I started Physical Therapy, because Bob has finished his round of PT and this must be what our future looks like! So while the Queen held a summit with her son Prince Charles, the heir apparent (let’s not forget Prince Andrew has already been banished from royal duties) and her grandsons, I was learning how to walk properly!

Queen Elizabeth II ultimately supported the young couple, Meghan and Harry, even though they jumped the gun with their press announcement:

“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

“It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

“These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”

So said HRH the Queen! https://www.npr.org/2020/01/13/795955373/after-summit-queen-says-royals-respect-and-understand-harry-and-meghan-s-decisio

In other words, let’s not drag this out, let’s not wait months and months before you call a doctor, or/I /mean figure out a way to make part-time Royalty work. Meghan phoned her thoughts in while staying with friends in Canada. Baby Archie and the Duke and Duchess had just spent a long holiday break in Victoria, British Columbia, without one single paparazzi spotting them; they must have felt the kind of freedom we commoners take for granted.

I believe they will carve out a new path for the next generation. Good on them and Godspeed! 962FFB38-8C7E-4018-B1D6-CE090BF7DED0

 

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It’s one thing to write about your life, and another to dig deeper into the details of one’s life. Bob told me he learned something from my last blog post, which is an important thing to do in any relationship – keep surprising people! The Flapper always said you should “…leave them wanting more,” a theatrical reference about curtain calls I think. But it’s also a pretty good life mantra; end your career at the top for instance, don’t descend into dementia on the job. Anyway, in case you are interested…

1. I’m a real Fan Girl. I’ve met two of my folk/rock/pop idols and tried hard not to gush, but the fine art of small talk just drifts away in the presence of greatness. Last year it was EmmyLou, but when we used to drive out to the Vineyard every spring with the little Love Bug I met Carly Simon in a clothing store. I probably turned red as a beet!

2.  I was once a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Back in the Berkshires, I convinced a friend to take the 6 month course with me. We pushed on a life-sized doll’s chest to try and get her heart beating again, “Annie, Annie are you OK?” Right after we graduated, the city of Pittsfield hired professional firefighters, so our days of volunteer work were done.

3.  Serious Crafting used to be my jam. Like Little Women everywhere, I was told that idle hands are the devil’s playground; thanks Music Man. It all started with quilting, I made aprons and pillows, blankets took way too long. Then I started knitting, mostly kids’ stuff and scarves, though I did once knit a sweater that got me stopped at Heathrow Airport. Today, I dabble with stringing pearls into eternity necklaces.

4.  I try to hide it, but this writer is a Porcelain Snob. It started way before Downton Abbey; maybe it’s the reference to homemaking, for a kid who never settled into anyone’s home. I recently had a dream where I had to explain that I wasn’t IN the foster care system, I just had foster parents. No big deal. But like a true Jersey girl, I never pay full price for my dishes. Great Grandma Ada and I traveled to Trenton to pick out my set of Lenox at the warehouse… this was when it was made in the good ‘ole USA!

5.  While my blog is named Mountain Mornings, I am definitely NOT a Morning Person. I mean I do like to start writing in the mid-morning, but coffee is de rigueur. I could stay up all night reading a good book, btw currently reading Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations, a Natural History of Love and Loss.” It’s a terrific antidote to the times, lulling me to sleep with short snippets of her childhood in rural Alabama juxtaposed with her current life in the city of Nashville. I cannot recommend this beautiful book of essays enough.

6.  I have (or maybe had is the better tense) an uncanny ability to Predict Trends. My fails are: I finally started painting my nails, and it still feels funny; and dyeing my eyebrows which is really funny! My wins are: I knew gaucho pants were looming on the horizon, and smartly avoided purchasing them.  I saw the snap bracelet coming from far away, same thing with oxfords for grown women. I was wearing this comfortable shoe long before Taylor Swift. It troubles me to report that I just bought my first pair of orthotics, per a sports medicine doctor who said I have a healing stress fracture in my foot. Thank you old age.

7.  Last but not least, I now have a Love/Hate Relationship With the Beach! My kids grew up on the Jersey Shore, and before that we’d travel to the Vineyard all the time. Later on, our paradise in the French West Indies was a continual winter retreat. I loved going to bed with sand in the sheets. But now, all that sunshine has crept up on me. Over the years, a dermatologist has been scrapping dubious patches of skin off my arms, hands, and nose. Looking “tan” has lost its cache, relegated to the ash heaps of time and cigarettes. Not that tanning was even possible for me. This explains my hat fetish! Still, my diagnosis of guttate psoriasis means I need some sun every day! What to do?

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Yesterday, a crocus pushed its shiny, new green leaves up in our garden. I remember always being surprised to see the little flower in the midst of snow and ice in the Berkshire Mountains. It is the harbinger of spring, just as sure as a robin jumping around in the grass. But this time, it’s too early; the first week of a new year should find us deep into winter with hats and scarves and gloves. Instead, today it will be 60 degrees.

“In addition to Crocus’ merit as a beautiful and cheerful winter bloomer, one species, C. sativus, is the source of the spice saffron. Henry Beston describes C. sativus in Herbs and the Earth (1935, D.R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.): “An autumn Crocus with a long history as a drug, a flavoring powder, and a pigment, only the golden stigma of the flower being used… May not overwinter.”  True enough, although many Crocus are perennial in Tennessee, as a USDA Hardiness Zone 8 plant C. sativus may not overwinter for many Tennesseans. If that doesn’t deter you from growing your own saffron, Steven Still writes that “about 7000 flowers are required to produce 3 ounces of saffron.”  https://ag.tennessee.edu/news/Pages/POM-2016-02.aspx

I had no idea the costliest spice in the world comes from a crocus!

Makes me want to dig up my old, Julia Child paella recipe. I was thinking about my younger, newly married self in the car the other day; living in Cambridge, MA and spotting Julia herself at the small green grocers’.  NPR was interviewing a chef about his “…worst kitchen disasters.” Of course, it was slicing off the tip of a finger with a mandolin his first time on live TV!

I’ve managed to avoid the dreaded mandolin injury – I use mine to slice whisper thin vegetables into my veggie lasagna. But one of my very first attempts at the fine art of cuisine in Cambridge does come to mind. I almost torched my kitchen when I tried making Julia’s recipe for Coq au Vin! Since then, I’ve left anything flambeed to the experts. Even resisting the urge to buy a tiny blowtorch to crinkle-brown creme brulee – my favorite dessert!

I wish my keyboard did l’accent aigu“Getting your (French) accents right is the difference between being a pêcheur (fisherman) and a pécheur (sinner). Which one would you rather have on your résumé?”

Parsley and rosemary are still growing in the garden, even some of Bob’s winter kale seems hardy and ready to be harvested. The Bride and her family are returning soon from Hawaii and I’d like to cook them something for their first night back. Maybe I’ll buy some red wine and make a big pot of Boeuf Bourguignon! Like every good semi-Southern cook I’ve got some bacon in the fridge and I know the L’il Pumpkin loves this dish.

Although, after hearing about their first Kalua Pig in a Pit, where the Love Bug definitely did not like the idea of unearthing the body of a full-on, dead, roasted pig, I may have to get creative with vegetables and her old stand-by, pasta. Maybe we’ll roast some marshmallows on the fire pit, and pretend it’s still winter! Here they are on a lava rock.

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We are busy cleaning up after our New Year’s Day shin-dig. Friends and neighbors brought side dishes – my favorite part of every meal – and I made the usual black-eyed peas, lobster mac and cheese, and a couple of roasted turkey breasts. It was a tight squeeze in our little city farmhouse, but Bob fired up the fire pit so some of us could flow out into the garden.  Totally recovered, Ms Bean was happy to stare at anyone with a Swedish meatball on their plate.

The night before we considered attending the New Year’s Eve concert at our Bicentennial Mall, only a few blocks away, but I guess we’ve become spoiled Nashvillians. As much as I love Jason Isbell, Keith Urban and Stevie Nicks –  https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/keith-urban-stevie-nicks-new-years-eve-932562/ – the chilling 50 degree weather kept us at home all snug in our bed.

We’d visited Great Grandma Ada and Hudson earlier in the day, and Bob paid a “house call” to one of their friends with a “medical question.” It seems he’s hardly retired, still doing remote medicine for family, with a small contingent of nonagenarians on call in the local mix. I kid my husband whenever we venture out, does he have his stethoscope with him?

Turns out Ms Berdelle, who is 92, DID walk down to the festivities on New Year’s Eve so shame on us!

I tried sending care packages of food home with people last night; for a Pot Luck we only had one duplicate, Hoppin John of course. We are all now doubly lucky in 2020!

I read that today is National Return Day. Every gift you never wanted, or maybe Aunt Anna sent you something you already have, will be returned today! Whenever I see a duplicate of anything, I remember our little Bride receiving the same exact My Little Pony for her birthday one year. She jumped up and down yelling, “She has a twin!” How could I deny her a twin pony?

Maybe that’s why I’m not a returner. About 10% of purchases in brick and mortar stores are returned after the holidays, but 20% of online gifts are returned. Obviously, it’s easier to send something back via your mailbox than it is to get in the car and try to park around this time of year. But I’m more of a re-gifter. OK, now you know. It’s a lot easier to shove something in a closet and wait…

Here’s to a very happy and healthy 2020 to all of you! I’m wishing my children and anyone on the road this weekend safe travels home. And if you’re taking a child back to college after winter break, consider picking up an absentee ballot at your city hall before you go!

I’m not a resolution type either, which makes me wonder what the heck am I?

Let’s see, I’m trying out a new elliptical at the Y, it makes you feel like you’re cross-country skiing and it’s good for my knees. I’m learning to say, “No” more often (see the last blog post). And I’m singing more torch songs. And if you clicked on the Rolling Stone link above, you’ll hear “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” In this #MeToo age, those Tom Petty 1981 lyrics from the New Year’s Eve Urban/Nicks duo don’t translate very well. But we could all try not to “…buckle with the weight of the world” in 2020.

“You need someone looking after you
I know you really want to tell me goodbye
I know you really want to be your own girl
Baby you could never look me in the eye
Yeah you buckle with the weight of the world
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my heart around”

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