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Archive for March, 2021

To all my Jewish friends celebrating Passover, I just hope you could sleep last night. We’ve been having some severe thunderstorms here in Central TN for a few days now, and tornado PTSD is real y’all! Ms Bean and I tossed and turned all night. Bob can sleep through anything.

Yesterday, thanks to the Bride, we stuffed ourselves with delicious matzoh balls, brisket and tzimmes and had a wonderful time up close and personal with the Grands and their other Grandparents too. Mike and Shavaun flew in from VA, and since we are all vaccinated, it was almost like a return to normal. We could all eat inside, unlike last year’s Zoom Seder. There was just one mishap.

I had put a stack of matzohs on the buffet behind the dining room table. When it was time to make the Hillel sandwich, I turned in my seat and picked up the platter full of matzoh. Unfortunately, these light as air unleavened Kosher wafers had been resting on a very heavy ironstone platter. You guessed it – my first matzoh injury of 2021!

Between bouts of back spasms and very loud, very close thunder, I was awake all night.

When I told Dr Jim and Aunt Kay about my back this morning, I was told to beware of the BLTs of aging:

  • Bending
  • Lifting
  • Twisting

Gone are the days when I could proudly display a skiing injury. All it takes now is a slip on the stairs or a twist in my seat. I sit at my desk writing, watching the squirrel I’ve named Kevin, contort him (or her) self into amazing acrobatic stunts to attack my bird feeder. Upside down, torqued into fantastical positions; and I think how lucky he is with his flair for the dramatic.

And I remember the snail grocery store I stocked with lettuce and papaya skins with the L’il Pumpkin in Hawaii. It was built out of lava rock. We learned these big snails are gastropods, and laughed about our only literary reference – the children’s book, “Escargot.” This was a favorite when he was little, about a French snail who wants to be your very favorite animal! Except, he doesn’t like carrots.

https://www.amazon.com/Escargot-Dashka-Slater/dp/0374302812

So we are slowly re-entering real life, and I’m thankful that I didn’t twist an ankle on lava hikes. The Rocker and Aunt KiKi have received their first shots in California. And this week we are having our first “all are vaccinated” dinner party. Life is progressing, love is winning. And Bob’s lettuce and kale are coming back in the garden – now I just need some tomato and bacon!

Happy Spring! And BTW, our Pumpkin lost his first tooth on the Big Island!

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Bob and I are home, with the Bride’s family in Nashville. The Rocker and Aunt KiKi are back in LA. Between airports and airplanes we’ve spent about 15 hours traveling and not sleeping, so let the jet lag begin! I never thought I’d be so happily punch/drunk/sleep/deprived in my life. But hey, who thought 2020 was going to happen?

We wore our masks everywhere – and an N95 to boot in the airports. Delta is still keeping that middle seat empty, so if you’re ready to book a trip, this airline is taking social distancing seriously. But pack some food, because meal service can be spotty. We were on our own from LA to The Big Island, but we flew home through Atlanta and actually had our choice of chicken or ravioli. Of course it wasn’t Pop Bob’s ravioli, but it wasn’t bad.

If a lava landscape looked like a delicious pan of brownies, coming out of the clouds over Tennessee looked like an explosion of Spring. I wasn’t used to that much greenery, or driving, or car alarms going off in the airport parking lot. Great Grandma Ada always talked about transitions, and how we need to re-enter the real world slowly after a vacation. We need to be kind to ourselves; and after this past year we all need to be extra kind.

I called my brother Dr Jim just to check in, the way I’d always call Ada.

We’re going to Zoom in a few minutes with my big sister Kay and our brother. Being the youngest of six, and now only three, we need to keep each other up to date. I wonder if the Flapper knows we are keeping track of each other? MN, NY and TN. She would be happy to hear that the baby she lost has become the one who keeps us together, via email and social media now. But soon, very soon, in real life too! The Groom wants to develop an App about “In Real Life.” But I can’t spoil the surprise.

It’s funny, only the the tippy top of my feet were burned in Hawaii. Guess I thought the sun couldn’t shine through my sandals. But Spring is here and the sun is shining and my beautiful tulip magnolia is in full bloom. Can you feel the warmth?

The Grands have to quarantine for the next week… so no school. We have a date for some Nutella crepes at the newly reopened Red Bicycle! Tornado schormado – French crepes will survive! We have faced an active volcano, a tornado and this pandemic. Nothing can stop us now!

Hope you have all got your vaccines scheduled and you’re ready to rumble!

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We’d been dreaming about this for months. Our first vacation after being vaccinated; it had to be epic. This year robbed us of so much, it was time – time to return to our usual French habitat. To rest and recuperate.

The Groom caught Covid while taking care of his ICU patients. The Grands did Pod-Zoom school, followed by a strange, masked and socially distant single desk school. And the Bride, well she endured months of too little PPE, and too much pain and suffering in her ER.

The Rocker and Aunt KiKi were lucky enough to work from home. But unlucky enough to split their living room into two separate work spaces. One for music (in a headphone) and one for design flanked by two cats and a guard dog named Leo.

But France had other ideas. They thought we Americans were just too much of a risk. And in some ways, they were right. Still, I don’t get why they let the Brits in, and the Germans.

Plan B began to take hold. Hawaii was part of the US, and they would welcome us! We were all vaccinated except for the Cali crew and the children but so long as we all had a negative Covid test within 72 hours of our flight, we’d be good to go. And one of the Groom’s uncles had a house on the Big Island.

We are exploring an active volcano, and eating poke. We are swimming and snorkeling with fish and turtles. We are reading and relaxing in the sun. Our nomadic family has found another happy place.

It’s almost impossible to comprehend the amount of loss this pandemic has inflicted, and Great Grandma Ada was expected to live forever. I silently offered a prayer to the Goddess Pele; her volcano is active now and we can see her fire and steam.

I could live here, on black lava that looks like brownies baking in a giant’s oven.

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Admit it. We were all glued to the TV last night listening to the Oprah interview, in a way the streaming generation could never understand. Like watching Murphy Brown and immediately calling your BFF to discuss. Only now, all we have is Twitter, and to be honest, I was so mesmerized by the Duchess of Sussex interview, I totally forgot to Tweet-along!

Feeling trapped, in a relationship or a toxic system, will never bode well. Prince Harry the Redhead gave us a lens into royal life. His family is afraid of the British tabloids, but seems to think they are a necessary evil. I couldn’t help but notice his pain, the trauma of losing his Mother Diana at the age of 12 was his “history repeating itself” reference.

“I really regret not ever talking about it,” Prince Harry said at an event for a mental health charity in 2016. “For the first 28 years of my life, I never talked about it. It is okay to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It is not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem, and not recognizing it, and not solving that problem.” Harry has since become an advocate for mental health awareness.

https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/tv-movies/a29874597/princess-diana-death/

You could imagine Meghan and Harry being hunted by the press, and their subtle, racist barbs. Added onto that, the not-so-subtle conversation Harry had with a family member about the skin tone of the first mixed race royal baby. I prefer to think it was his Father, Prince Charles, who opined about his future grandchild’s color. The man who stopped taking his calls. The guy who cheated on Harry’s mum all along, makes me wonder if he was spearheading the process of no title and no security for baby Archie? Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything.

Being an American, Meghan spoke up. She knew she needed help, she explained she was suicidal. Like a brunette Rapunzel, she let her hair down and even went to “The Firm” for help. Once Meghan and Harry realized that help wasn’t forthcoming, they rescued each other. Like a modern day fairy tale, Meghan took matters into her own hands and they escaped the confines of the palace. She told Oprah they would be welcoming Archie’s little sister this summer. The best gender-reveal party ever!

Bob reminded me that Diana was just a kid when she married her prince, that Meghan had been 36 when she walked down the aisle, a few years older than Harry. Worldly and smart, she was an independent, woman with her own identity, her own residuals from “Suits.”

Today is International Women’s Day. So I’d like to close with Serena Williams’ tweet last night, because I couldn’t say it better:

“I know firsthand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us,” the tennis icon wrote. “We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.”

Nobody puts Meghan in the corner. Here’s a little women’s history VP lesson from America: until the orange circle, Kamala, Serena and Meghan would still have been slaves. Until the pink, they would have no vote. Until blue their schools would have been segregated…

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The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, apologized for his perceived behavior on Wednesday with a few of his aides. But once bitten, I’m finding it hard to give up on him.

I would ask Great Grandma Ada almost every day, “Did you watch President Cuomo?” With our past-serial-predator Mr T’s disastrous mismanagement of the coronavirus, we liked to pretend that Cuomo was our real president as he faithfully kept New Yorkers up-to-date through one of the biggest public health pandemics in the century. He took on epic proportions, he was handsome and down to earth. I knew very little about his personal life, but then we found out he was single, eureka! Ever the marriage counselor Ada and I had fun fantasizing about the next Mrs Cuomo.

So the feminist in me wants to believe the young women who have lodged sexual harassment allegations against the Governor. But I can’t help feeling like he’s been misunderstood.

First of all, he’s Italian. Bob tells me it’s similar to being Jewish – big extended families, lots of hugging and food all the time. So we have a cultural difference. Would I be happy if an older guy cupped my face and asked for a kiss? That would depend… we all know that guy who could hug just a little too tight and too long. Was this my boss, or my uncle or a friend of Ada’s perhaps? But asking for a kiss in a public place like a wedding does not seem malicious at all. I might turn my cheek for a kiss, or slip right by the face and offer a hug instead. If I felt repelled or cajoled, I’d push him away with a smart remark.

That cupped face picture at the wedding is reminiscent of the 11 year old picture of Al Franken on his comedy USO tour almost cupping (ie not actually touching) a woman’s breasts in her flak jacket for a laugh as she was sleeping. He was caught in the midst of the #MeToo movement and forcibly asked to resign in order to fill his Democratic seat in the Senate. There was NO due process and NO ethics investigation. Don’t forget, his previous job was Comedian! A Progressive pillar was sacrificed, to what end? This is part of his farewell speech to the Senate.

“I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day,” he said, soon after a former Democratic Senate aide accused him of trying to kiss her after his radio show in 2006. “I know there has been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.”

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/21/17352230/al-franken-accusations-resignation-democrats-leann-tweeden-kirsten-gillibrand

Maybe seeing is NOT believing. We are being asked to believe what Cuomo’s intentions were… If there’s one piece of Ada’s marriage advice I’ve clung to over the years, it’s that a man doesn’t really know what you’re thinking unless you tell him! We may want him to intuit that we really need a neck rub, but if we don’t actually say this it won’t happen magically. In fact, the clinical term for this is magical thinking. So in the same respect, did Cuomo’s aide just think he wanted a relationship? And is it a crime?

Think back to Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. I was dumbstruck by that investigation; a judge had been talking about porn and asking his clerk for dates constantly. She didn’t need to intuit what he wanted, he was constantly telling her exactly what he wanted sexually. If only Hill, in 1991, had a smart phone in her pocket to record his harassment. That man is now a judge on the Supreme Court. I had debilitating deja vu when the Kavanaugh committee hearings started. And this is where the trouble lies, at the intersection of youth and gender with political power. It’s the age vs time difference.

Thirty years ago things were different. There was no worldwide pandemic for one, and the Bride was twelve years old. She was learning about HIV in health class, and I was trying to empower her fierce, feminist side. She actually wrote a letter to then Senator Biden, asking him to run for President! Biden has a reputation for being “handsy” himself, but in a good way. Let’s not go overboard with our #MeToo sensitivity. We wanted empathy and compassion back in the White House, and we’ve got it. Should we pillory a highly competent, progressive Governor who thought a little flirting with a staffer was innocent? After all, over the years I’ve known a few married couples with big age differences, one friend married her law professor. The NY Governor was lonely, and if these women felt threatened, they should have told him to knock it off. Then go to HR if it continued.

After all, where else would a guy with a pandemic on his plate even meet a woman in lockdown? Let’s not let the GOP or the Pro-T Patriot Party incite another culture war to their advantage. Let the process play out, take a rest.

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Happy St David’s Day!

I know, I’d never heard of Saint David either, until this morning. It seems he is the Patron Saint of Wales and March 1st is his day to celebrate everything Welsh. Of course due to Covid restrictions, there will be no annual Dragon Parade, or religious services. And the Ras Dewi Sant marathon has been postponed as well. Darn. But you can still celebrate #GwylDewi remotely on Twitter http://@WalesDotCom or Facebook http://Facebook.com/WalesDotCom or even on Instagram: http://Instagram.com/WalesDotCom.

Why this sudden interest in Wales one might ask? It seems that my DNA Ancestry profile has changed; I’m no longer 99.8% Irish.

…a new twist to my ethnicity investigation popped up when Ancestry announced that it had developed new algorithms “to analyze longer segments of genetic information,” said an Ancestry spokesman, “and better distinguish between adjacent regions.” It also added 13,000 more reference samples.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/was-i-part-british-part-dutch-a-little-bit-jewish-the-oddness-of-dna-tests/2018/11/02/ed51b4c0-d090-11e8-83d6-291fcead2ab1_story.html

Break out the daffodils and leeks, I found out rather abruptly that my ethnicity is 18% Welsh! So maybe the family story I’d heard for years is actually true – my maternal grandfather was a Welshman. This explains so much about the Flapper, and also why I’ve always put leeks in stews. Wales, as soon as we can travel again, I’m heading your way.

Even as a child, I loved reading about saints, in particular women saints. Their stories rivaled any Stephen King novel; if they didn’t marry and give birth to a saint, they were pilloried or burned for not wanting to marry. These saintly women were large and in charge. So in honor of Women’s History Month, I thought we could go way back in time.

Did you know there was a Saint Melania, born in 383? Her life is a lesson in irony.

Born to a wealthy Roman senator, she was married off at the young age of 14. She lost her first two children soon after their births, and convinced her husband to lead a life of “…continency and religious dedication.” In other words, they stopped having sex and gave all of her money away to the Catholic Church. Now that’s a bit bossy, no? As a widow, St Melania settled in Jerusalem and started her own abbey. According to the Church, “...The life of St. Melania reminds us of the fleeting character of earthly wealth. We should strive to emulate her use of wealth as well as talents to further the cause of Christ.”

I wonder if Melania T knows the “fleeting” character of wealth?

Move over Melania, another woman born to nobility is St Patricia of Naples. She absolutely wanted to stay a virgin and become a nun, escaping an impending marriage and her home in Constantinople. She distributed all her wealth to the poor, and it’s said that her blood liquifies on her feast day in August…. and also on Tuesday mornings. Not quite sure how they preserved her blood, but it’s pretty sensational.

There’s a certain pattern here – devote your life to the church and give away all your money. If you happened to be a poor girl, your father might want to stretch you on a wheel, or try drowning you if you refused to marry. But aristocracy had its perks then, as it does now. Wealthy women didn’t get burned at the stake, yet they still managed to become saintly.

Fast forward to Victorian times, and misbehaving women could simply be committed to a Lunacy Asylum by any of their male relatives! Makes you miss the Joan of Arc days. I had never heard of the feminist Edith Lanchester, but her story is compelling. Her father was not happy when his upper-crust daughter informed him she wanted to live, without the benefit of marriage, with her lover a working class Irishman.

“In 1895, Edith’s father and three brothers, along with the services of Dr. George Fielding Blandford, entered Edith’s lodgings. The five men questioned Edith. Dr George Fielding Blandford diagnosed Edith as insane when she argued marriage was immoral, because she’d lose her independence if she married. Edith tried to fight off the men, but her father accosted her and handcuffed her. She was then tied up, hauled into a carriage, and taken to the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, England. Her certificate in the asylum stated her reason for insanity was “over-education.”

https://katdevitt.com/2020/11/30/edith-lanchester-how-a-victorian-feminist-ended-up-in-an-insane-asylum/

Here’s to all our “over-educated” girls. Here’s to “Saint Dolly” Parton, who figured out in the 1950s that the only way for her to claim her authority and independence in country music was to marry young, and then promptly hide her husband out of sight. We here in Nashville love Dolly for giving her money to Vanderbilt for Covid vaccine research and sending each new baby born in TN a book a month. I know she has her own theme park, but how about her statue replacing a Confederate one? I’d light a candle and put flowers at her little stone feet!

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