Archive for February, 2021

Do you ever find yourself sitting in your car, in front of your own house, listening to NPR and glued to your seat? Well, since I’ve received my second jab in the arm, Life has opened up beyond my neighborhood. I’m getting out alone, strolling through a bookstore and yes, I admit I went to Target. Still masked and keeping a good 10 ft distance from humans, I felt like a prisoner just let out of a cave, blinking into the sunlight fluorescent light. The other day, rooted to my car seat, time stood still as I listened to Terry Gross finish interviewing the author Tim O’Brien.


O’Brien wrote the Hemingwayesque anti-war book, The Things They Carried in 1990. This was required reading for the Bride’s high school AP English class, and I believe her teacher knew the author. O’Brien was drafted into the Vietnam War and later went on to study at Harvard. After loading some grocery bags into the car, I was excited to hear that Fresh Air was live on Nashville Public Radio… then just like that I morphed into an awkward feeling.

Gross pointedly asked the author if he was still smoking, and he said he was, and in fact he was at that moment in the one room in his house where he can continue to smoke. He didn’t smoke in front of his young children. And even though he’s had multiple trips to the hospital for COPD, he used the same old trope to justify his behavior, “You’ve gotta die of something, right?” I know all about this kind of reasoning since the Flapper continued to smoke until her death. But Gross wouldn’t let it go, she pushed him about being a good father, and staying alive to see his children grow up.

She pointed out his contradictory thinking – telling her that if he stopped smoking he may stop writing. What was more important, being a writer or a father? She put O’Brien on the hot seat, and didn’t let him up.

Then, O’Brien said he’d been doing some research about madness lately, about whether war is just simply codified lunacy.

The definition of madness is having a disordered mind, or exhibiting foolish behavior, or being in a state of frenzied activity. Personally, I was hoping for a much calmer state of activity with our new President and Vice President, only to wake up this morning and find out we bombed Syria.

“While the exact death toll remained unclear, Mr. Biden appears to have calibrated the strikes, hoping they would cause enough damage to show that the United States would not allow rocket attacks like that on the Erbil airport in northern Iraq on Feb. 15, but not so much as to risk setting off a wider conflagration. “He is kind of putting his first red line,” said Maha Yahya, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.”


Maybe war is simply a bunch of crazy red lines over territorial conflicts. If you bomb me, I will bomb you by proxy. I lived through Vietnam, I was actively against the war and watched two brothers head off to that conflict zone, now it is full of eco-tourists. Or at least it used to be, before Covid. Now the Bride is learning how to roll sushi, and we get take-out from our local Vietnamese restaurant. Our grandchildren wield chop sticks with impunity.

I think we need more French clowns in the world. These clowns practice the medieval art of buffoonery; they were the poor and disenfranchised, the gypsies, gays and Jews, who were allowed to put on a play for the Noblemen every so often. And in so doing, they would point out the most ridiculous, contradictory happenings in their culture… in a funny, slightly smart and sarcastic way. Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat is a classic buffoon.

I’m not saying that Terry Gross was calling O’Brien a buffoon, but she did embarrass him, and that was not called for IMHO. Today, people who still smoke are dwindling, they have become pariahs. Still, I’d like to see some anti-war PSAs like the kind of attacks against smoking, where a woman is talking through her esophagus. Let’s try and change public opinion about war, and guns. You know, this is a guy with his legs blown off by a drone. Here we have the damage a Glock can do to a brain.

Send in the clowns.

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We all know that special somebody, the guy who will always play devil’s advocate. One could say that the previous administration held a daily master class in What Aboutism – in other words, accusing the other side of rotten deeds in order to take the pressure off of their own nefarious activities. Remember when wind power was really starting to gain hold in our national grid, then somebody said,

“But what about all the dead birds!” Now that was classic because it implies that the speaker was really concerned with the environment. What a textbook con artist ploy.

Whataboutism is considered a form of the logical fallacy called tu quoqueLatin for “you also”—more like “And so are you!” in contemporary speech. The idea, here, is that a person charged with some offense tries to discredit the accuser by charging them with a similar one or bringing up a different issue altogether—none of which is relevant to the original accusation. It’s basically like blowing a raspberry at someone and saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” Classy, right?


It is the Beavis and Butthead of debate, creating discord and blame in order to steer the conversation elsewhere. Case in point – my desire to buy a house, not a plane or a boat. I want to plant roots before I die, I’m tired of all this transplanting. If I say, “Let’s buy something in California,” I hear, “But what about all the wildfires… and the earthquakes!” If I say, “Let’s buy something in Hawaii,” I hear, “But what about the volcanoes?” Let’s not even mention Tennessee, all those Republicans! I realize that stasis is easy and change is hard, but what about my feelings??

This morning the sun is out, and after a week of temperatures in the teens, it’s going to be mid-60s today. Positively convertible weather. And the Senate is about to interview some witnesses from the January 6th insurrection. What to do, what to do? The journalist in me wants to hear about all the nitty gritty failures of the Capitol security system. Why did it take so long for help to arrive, what’s with the Pentagon? But the Bride is home today and Bob is planning to walk Ms Bean and what about my desire for some Vitamin D? A little sunshine is good for my psoriasis too.

Long ago I banished the “woulda, coulda, shouldas” from my vocabulary. Those words only lead to shame and blame, and I for one had enough of that in Catholic School. But, I can still get sidetracked by a good What Aboutism. Mostly as the recipient, so I’ll try and use this ploy myself, in order to master recognizing the technique, and thereby pointing it out to the people who trade in it. Let’s practice What Aboutism for a few minutes.

What About these gender reveal parties?

My generation had baby showers with lots of yellow baby clothes. We didn’t have ultrasounds to announce a baby’s sex, we were surprised each and every time. Does having a gender reveal party mean you have to have another baby shower later? Isn’t that just greedy? I actually “get” why people would want to know the sex of their soon to be baby – what I don’t get is making a spectacular show of the news to plaster all over social media. Plus, they are dangerous, and… Covid.

Last Sunday a gender reveal party killed the father of a fetus in Liberty, NY when his improvised explosive device backfired. The man’s brother was helping him and said it was, “The freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.” STOP right there! Most emergency departments know all about July 4th freaky explosive accidents. They write all about them in journals. People lose eyes and fingers all the time!

Gender reveal parties have also started wildfires in California and Arizona. In my mind, these parties are detrimental to the health and welfare of our environment – not to mention the lives and limbs of those who play with grenades and colored pink smoke bombs and cannons. Kind of like MAGA hatters who play with flags and fire hydrants and guns.

What About making an old fashioned list? You know, that list of people to call once the baby is born, or email, or text or whatever. Make that list up early and send everybody an email, or send them pink or blue cupcakes if you really must know if it’s going to be a girl or a boy. Or a “they.” Personally, I like a bit of a surprise.

I mean, What About just NOT knowing? It’s like getting a pup-cup at Starbucks!

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Yesterday was a “Snow Day” for us. Luckily enough, while most of Nashville remained shuttered and iced over, both parents were required to work at their respective hospitals. Not only did we get the little Frenchie pup for the day, but the Love Bug and the not so little Pumpkin arrived too, ready to make their first actual snowman. Having nearly four-five inches of snow fall is quite a first for this part of the South, but having below freezing temps all week meant it would stick around for awhile!

After creating a volcano in the snow, building a snow “person,” and having a snowball fight, the kids were ready for some warmth. I made grilled cheese sandwiches and butternut squash with kale soup for lunch, followed up by a recipe for “S’more Cookies.” We don’t exactly have “quiet time” at Nana and Pop Bob’s, but the Pumpkin managed to demonstrate his reading skills. Listening to him read Calvin and Hobbes aloud while giggling reminded me of how much the Rocker loved those books as a child.

We may have watched a little Disney on TV, but I was in a total news blackout all day. Last evening, I noticed a White House reporter I follow on Twitter posted a vintage travel poster of Cancun! Mexico?! I was stumped, until I read further. Poor Ted Cruz, why can’t people understand he was only leaving his country to make a better life for his kids. I mean I understand dreaming about palm trees, I totally get it Senator.

But leaving your little Poodle behind, alone in a freezing cold house without any water – now that is a crime!

When our house flooded in Rumson, Bob and I were in Las Vegas for a medical conference. In fact we arrived at our hotel, turned on the TV and found out that this “No Name Storm” was devastating the Jersey coast. I never unpacked, we tried all night and the next day to fly home but airports were closed. The house-sitter-baby-sitter, Bride and the Rocker were evacuated by a dear friend who was married to a firefighter, but they left our two Corgis in the laundry room with bowls of food and water.

The Laundry Room! Only the garage and the lower level of our rambling mid-century ranch was flooded, the water never reached the laundry room, and Tootsie and Blaze were fine, despite their short little legs. Our friend had cats and made the split second decision to leave the dogs behind. One wonders what went through Cruz’ risk-benefit analysis of the emergency situation in Texas – let’s see. No heat, check. No water, check. Let’s blame this on the Green New Deal, the 10% wind power failure, put our tail between our legs and board a plane for Margaritaville.

“Snowflake will be OK, maybe the security detail guarding my house will check in on the poodle?”

And btw, why would a Republican-Trump-type name his dog “SNOWFLAKE” anyway? That would be like Biden’s German Shepherds being named Filibuster and Insurrectionist! Talk about Cancel Culture, I mean every snowflake is different and when you add them all up you get a village of snowpeople!

Cruz needs to do a Ted Talk for Texans. Although when your GOP becomes a sad, angry group of old white men who would rather shame and blame and conceal their weapons rather then work out a sustainable energy policy for their state you may want to check yourself. And admit it, we know the optics of you at the airport with a bag packed for some sun and fun is really what you regret. Getting caught demonstrating your callousness. And the picture of your Poodle sitting in the doorway, home alone, will last longer than a snowman in the South.

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Call this an essay on moving to the South and forgetting my Northern roots.

We built our not so big house on a mountain outside of Charlottesville, VA in 2005; but we actually moved there two years before that. All told, we’ve been transplanted Southerners for over 15 years! We laugh when school is cancelled for a “dusting” of snow; we remember piling into our four wheeler in the Berkshires and driving through a Nor’easter just to go to the movies. Two feet of snow never bothered me.

Today movies are on Netflix and we’re all experiencing pandemic cabin fever. It’s February, Mardi Gras time, and our local cupcake store is selling King Cakes. Since winter has settled in, there were no more dinners on the Bride’s big front porch, no more hikes in the local park. And today, my neighborhood is encased in ICE. The whole city has shut down, even the local grocery store is closed. There are layers of ice and snow on the roads, and no snow plows, no salt trucks. Just bright, thundering silence.

I refuse to drive on ice, always have and always will. So you might say I’m in self-imposed-super-freezing-semi-quarantine. What’s happened to that brave, young woman who would grab a chain saw to cut up a downed tree in her driveway? Last night and all day I’ve been throwing out pine nuts for the birds. Organic pine nuts from my porch like some deranged Disney princess – “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

At least we didn’t lose power. In this city house there is no generator, no gas range, no wood stove or fireplace. We would be in a real pickle if we lost power. Pipes could freeze along with our spirits. My sweet husband had to point out the difference between “sleet” and “freezing rain,” do you know the difference?

Sleet is tiny ice pellets. In fact, last night while walking Ms Bean I could feel tiny icicles hitting my face. All night I could hear their patter on the bedroom window. Bob told me that sleet is good because it will bounce off power lines.

Freezing rain is rain that freezes when it hits something. As you might imagine, when freezing rain builds up on power lines they tend to fall. So we don’t want freezing rain, but in my opinion, I’d rather just have snow.

You can cross country ski on snow, and walk on it fine, you can shovel out tunnels for kids and dogs and driving on it is a piece of cake IF you have an all wheel drive vehicle. I actually love snow, but my long underwear and boots and skis are long gone. And the Grands can’t build snow/men/women or have snowball fights with ICE.

I’m afraid the South has softened me. The L’il Pumpkin asked me the other day if I could sit on the floor. I said, “What do you mean?” He said you know, “Can you get up once you sit on the floor?” Maybe it’s time for me to buy some snow shoes and lace micro spikes on them? Here is Bean in the Blue Ridge.

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Happy Valentine’s Day people!

Who doesn’t love a good romantic story? There was a time when I’d devour the coveted wedding announcements in the Vows Section of the Sunday New York Times, but now I read the digital version of “Modern Love.” If you haven’t discovered the Style Section of the Times, you’re in for a treat!

“A series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.”

Currently the paper is accepting submissions of “tiny love stories” of 100 words or less. The last one was a tale as old as friendship – one woman gets married and has a child, the other doesn’t. The single woman wonders if she’ll lose her best friend, especially as the coronavirus began to spread. But on a Zoom call, she sees the toddler crawling through a doggie door and realizes the baby is just as weird as they are! How could she be jealous?

While trying to avoid watching the fore-ordained Impeachment Trial, I happened to read about another weird love story playing out in the Politics Section. My two favorite things combined! It seems a Nashville native, TJ Ducklo, who was a deputy press secretary in Joe Biden’s White House, just resigned his position yesterday over claims that he verbally harangued a female Politico reporter who was working on a story about his love life.

“Per Vanity Fair, in January, Palmeri — who is a co-author of Politico’s Playbook — was assigned to report out a story that fits neatly into her beat: the then-unreported relationship between Ducklo and Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond, and the ethical questions it raised. On January 20, Palmeri contacted McCammond for comment, while one of her male colleagues reached out to Ducklo for the same. Things escalated rapidly. After Ducklo received the message, he called a Playbook editor to voice his disapproval, and was directed to speak with the reporters themselves. Rather than call the man who contacted him, Ducklo reached out to Palmeri and allegedly lashed out.


To be fair, both Ducklo and his girlfriend Alexi McCammond told their bosses as soon as their relationship turned serious and McCammond was switched from the Biden beat to Kamala Harris and other Progressive legislators. Also, Ducklo had just finished chemo treatment for stage four lung cancer. He also thought the conversation he had with Palmeri was off-the-record, still he allegedly said, “I will destroy you,” and told her she was just jealous of McCammond.

It’s strange how my feminism plays out in a situation like this; my initial reaction was, “Good”, because when the news first broke at Friday’s WHPresser, Jen Psaki told reporters that he would be suspended for one week without pay. A day later he’s quitting, and I’m thinking why do Democrats have such high moral standards when Mr T could get away with literal murder? Oh, and what about Mr T’s sexual harassment charges – 26 incidents of “unwanted sexual contact,” and 43 instances of “inappropriate behavior!”

Ah the joys and tribulations of amour. In my hundred word essay, I’d write about Bob getting the Keurig ready to go every morning before I get up. I pull out my mug that says, “Mrs ALWAYS Right” (a gift from a dear Italian friend – Bob’s mug says “Mr Right”) and never have to fill up the water chamber. He also keeps the pantry full with my special Starbucks French Roast pods. Every morning I think to myself, he must love me!

We’ll be staying put today since an ice storm is coming. Stay weird, warm and safe with your loved ones, the two and four legged varieties, and a very Happy Cupid Day and Year of the Ox. This was us at Bob’s 40th birthday party, a come as you were in the 60s affair of the heart.

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Let’s face it, I miss Target.

Ever since a friend back in NJ told me to call it “Tar-jay” I’ve been addicted. It’s lost the French cachet long ago, yet I’m still drawn to the red bullseye. It’s kind of a happy place, is that the appeal? The friendly salespeople and cashiers, the Starbucks right at the entrance, the great selection of toys for the Grands? It’s been almost a year since I stepped foot in a Target.

Two years ago, when we moved Great Grandma Ada down to Nashville after she broke her hip, we had a little “incident” at Target. It was our first outing together and we were both looking forward to it since Target provides huge, red, motorized Smart Shoppers (electric carts with big baskets) for people with mobility issues. I knew that Ada had used these carts back in NJ at Costco, and I thought this shopping expedition would help her to feel more independent.

Unfortunately, she accidentally went forward instead of back, and rammed me into the men’s shorts I was scanning for Great Grandpa Hudson. It must have been forceful since I ended up in her lap with two broken ribs. I’d never seen so many red shirts appear at once and it didn’t help that one young woman said, “Don’t worry, this happens all the time!”

Ada didn’t want to go near Target again, and would carefully avoid me at the Nashville Zoo on a motorized cart. But that wasn’t my first rodeo with the discount chain.

I was a newly transplanted Yankee who was surprised to see signs on stores and restaurants in Virginia about allowing or NOT allowing guns into their premises. I’d never seen so many signs about guns in my life. And right after I started my wedding blog to inform friends and family about the Bride and Groom’s wedding plans in the Blue Ridge, there was a big social media push to ban guns from shops like Starbucks and Target.

Naturally, I got involved because Target was slow to buy into the idea of not letting guys in camo roam freely with their rifles slung over their shoulders like so many Rambos. I joined the boycott of Target, writing #Target! I missed it then too. It was before one would even think of buying something online after all.

When did Target become a bastion of Liberal ideology? Is it so wrong to not want a child to reach into his mother’s handbag, while she’s looking at shorts, and pull a trigger? When did Democrats decide that this was the one and only place to shop for paper products, or dog food? It is one of America’s largest Publicly Traded Companies that started out as a high-end private department store named Dayton’s:

“Target Corp. engages in owning and operating of general merchandise stores. It offers curated general merchandise and food assortments including perishables, dry grocery, dairy, and frozen items at discounted prices. The company was founded by George Draper Dayton in 1902 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.”


I double-downed on my commitment to Target once they saw the light and decided to ban guns from all their stores. And here in Nashville, there are two Targets within a 5 mile radius!

Now I know I could’ve used Shipt to deliver things from Target, like we do with Publix groceries, but that’s not the point after all. It’s more of an experience, like the time I spotted Reese Witherspoon in a Draper James dress and sunhat!

After hugs from the Bug and Pumpkin, will Target be my very first post-pandemic trip? Here we are in a Bateau Mouche on the Seine; we were visiting the Bride in Paris for the Millennium.

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This morning Bob volunteered to make a hot breakfast.

This happens randomly; maybe it’s really cold outside or maybe he’s just pulled a loaf of steaming sourdough bread out of the oven. I was sipping my first cup of coffee and watching a report on the new Vanderbilt “Project on Unity and American Democracy” – my man crush Jon Meacham was speaking about Lincoln. I said “Yes” to oatmeal.

When a man cooks, it’s like an Army drill sergeant has commandeered the kitchen. Everything is set and ready to go, whether it’s scrambled eggs, pancakes or oatmeal, Bob has his methods and I never question him. I have no idea how much cheddar cheese he puts in the eggs for instance, I simply wait at attention for the meal to be served. And granted, it’s usually delicious.

There is just one little thing I ask of him when he’s making oatmeal, “Please let me fix it myself!”

All I want is the hot, hard, congealed lump of Irish steel cut oatmeal in a bowl – don’t make mine like yours. Don’t add milk and salt and butter. Call me crazy, but I like to add bananas and peanut butter.

As I was waiting for breakfast, Eunji Kim, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Vandy, was speaking about the importance of listening. After all, how can we even hope for unity in this country if the right and the left don’t listen to each other?

“In this age of political inattention, governing is inherently thorny and communicating is impossibly difficult. President Obama frequented late-night comedy shows, yet for a while they have been the spearhead of satire only for blue America. Reaching out to the inattentive public may require unusual approaches to presidential messaging, even if it means setting up a virtual Biden Island in Animal Crossing, a squishy Nintendo game.”


Granted I don’t play video games but I get the analogy. Mr T was elected precisely because people thought they knew him from The Apprentice. Who wants to read all those lengthy real news articles about his underhanded dealings in Atlantic City, when most Americans are getting their news on social media. And social media loves to fit you into its algorithm, so that you not only consume its message, you get really mad about it! Then you click on their adverts.

The oatmeal was being served! I paused Professor Kim and walked into the kitchen; there was Bob stirring my oatmeal. Every single time he makes oatmeal I feel the need to remind him about the way I like it, just as I did this morning.

What are you doing?” I said.

He proceeded to tell me that he had added a little milk because otherwise it would be too hard! My first inclination was to throw the bowl in the sink and make myself the usual morning meal of yogurt and fruit while not saying one single word. Yes, I hate to admit that at times in the past I’d used the passive aggressive technique of total silence. Instead I said,

“I might just have a heart attack if you ever actually listened to me.”

He looked at me and smiled, because we’ve been doing this marital dance for over forty years, and humor has always served us well. I proceeded to fix my oatmeal the way I like it, smushing in a half a banana and adding a plop of maple peanut butter, while he poured salt into his bowl.

And I thought to myself, if we want the other half of the country to listen to us, to listen to the facts and science, to wear masks and to care about the poor and disenfranchised, we are going to have to be willing to listen to THEM – and not in a demeaning or deprogramming way. A heart attack is not equivalent to an infectious respiratory disease, ie #wearadamnmask. https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/florida-grocery-store-captures-country-s-divide-over-wearing-masks-100487237927

Because we must have some common ground in the post-truth Trump world if we want to hold these United States together. And it doesn’t matter who starts listening first, if we truly desire unity, maybe President Biden needs to appear on The Daily Show, or even FOX? And we need to mind our manners (and disregard my poor attempt at photoshopping).


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