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Archive for April, 2021

Like migrating birds, Bob and I took off from BNA to visit my brother, Dr Jim.

He lives outside of Minneapolis-St Paul, the center of the legal universe this week as the trial of George Floyd goes to a jury. Fences and barricades are up, a large contingent of our National Guard stands ready. Right down the street in Brooklyn Center, Officer Kim Potter allegedly mistook her gun for a taser, killing Daunte Wright. Mr Wright will surely have his day in court too, but can we actually ever reform a culture of police violence?

The judge in the Floyd case is currently giving instructions to the jury – he is explaining what “intent” means. How can we know what Officer Chauvin intended to do about an alleged counterfeit 20 dollar bill; what did he think might happen while he continued to press his knee down on Floyd’s neck? Potter at least is heard on her police video threatening to tase Daunte Wright on a traffic stop that never should have happened.

Both Bob and Dr Jim said if they had been born Black in America, they’d surely be dead by now. Jim has a Vietnam Vet license plate on his car, so that when a cop once stopped him, he eventually waved him on and thanked him for his service.

We were watching the trial of George Floyd when Bob spied a wild turkey walking through the trees outside our window. He was waltzing along in the tony minneapolis suburb without a care in the world. I’d seen squirrels and chipmunks race across Jim’s deck, and later two big deer wandered into our line of sight from the living room couch. My husband almost thought they were elk, they were so huge and majestic!

I thought about the time, early on in 2020, when Bob was weeding around our city house and a glorious, fluffy-tailed red fox came within view – they both stopped and looked each other in the eyes. Then he bounded off across the street and behind an apartment building. Did you know there was a coyote taking up residence in a bathroom at the Nashville Convention Center?

As things return to some sort of stasis, I’m hoping that wildlife might continue to shock us out of our conspicuous consumption. As we begin to travel again, in cars and planes and trains, enlarging our collective carbon footprint, I dream that more and more people will turn to sustainable energy, like bikes, public transportation or electric cars. Of course, a Tesla would be nice, but there are more affordable options out there right now.

Thursday is Earth Day. If we intend to care for Mother Earth, we must be able to care for ourselves and end systemic racism in our country. I saw a sign in MN that said, “End State Sponsored Terrorism,” and I thought about not just reducing and reforming the police who are increasingly militarized, but also confronting our legislators and their addiction to guns and the money gun lobbyists throw around.

The US has seen at least 147 mass shootings in 2021, according to data from the GVA, a non-profit based in Washington.”

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/16/us/mass-shootings-45-one-month/index.html

As children return to school, as we set about going to church or a mall or even a grocery store, will we continue to fear for our lives? Should we Americans accept this as “normal?” Republican TN Gov Bill Lee recently passed a bill that would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon as of July 1st! The law allows anyone over 21 to carry open and concealed handguns WITHOUT a permit!

We cannot return to this normal: a time when driving while Black is dangerous, a time when bullet-proof backpacks are prized, a time when clean air and water was a political issue. Our slow, migration back to semi-normal life must be done thoughtfully, and with the best of intentions.

Five siblings

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Herb plants are potted and vegetables are in the raised bed. I’ve added a new phlox to the garden and even sprinkled some flower pots about just for fun. As much as gardening is hard work, somehow this year I couldn’t wait to dig my hands in the dirt. And I’ll blame it on the Zoom Pilates, my body hardly suffered from all that bending and hoisting.

Which leads me to ask, what do you do just for fun?

I’m currently reading a book about fun by Annie F Downs; “THAT SOUNDS FUN” or The Joys of being an amateur, the power of falling in love, and why you need a hobby! The Grands and I did a quick trip through Parnassus Bookstore and I was drawn to the local author table. I rarely need to buy a book because of Bob’s monthly gift from the store’s signed first edition club, plus my family and friends revolving free library. But I was drawn to the title after this past pandemic year.

Fun can be big or small, it can be planned or spontaneous. For example, the Bride lets us know when she’s working a day shift and the Groom is in the Covid ICU. This is bound to be a wonderfully fun day for me because I get to puppy sit! I mean, who doesn’t love a puppy? Especially one with big pink ears who looks like Winston Churchill! In fact, today our little Frenchie is on the scene.

So gardening can be a chore, and puppy sitting could be an obligation, it just depends on your attitude. Like cooking, for instance.

I can honestly say that I used to adore cooking, especially for loved ones. It’s my “love language” I’ve been told. But EVERY single day, breakfast/lunch/dinner for a year, and usually just for the two of us… has become a bit mundane. And I like prepping and chopping and such solo, it’s meditative for me. But, since Bob has discovered sourdough, we have to work around each other in the kitchen.

If I’m doing Zoom Pilates in the morning, and I’ve figured out in my mind what’s for lunch and dinner – yes, food is often what I’m thinking about on the yoga mat – then I’m a happy camper. Last week I’d roasted a big pork loin and delivered it to the Groom because the Bride had an evening shift. He was happily surprised to have dinner delivered along with the above mentioned puppy. Then the next day the Bride told me the truth.

They are trying to go meatless for the month of April!

I mean the whole family has decided to tackle Climate Change by changing their diet. I did see it coming; the Love Bug loves pasta with butter, period, and has already delivered a speech to her class about making Mondays meatless in their cafeteria. Still, it was a shock. It was like my daughter telling me she had to stop ballet classes when she turned 10. It was interfering with her schoolwork!

This weekend the Bride made meatless meatballs with chickpeas that were kind of like falafel. And she suggested we join them on a Zoom call with their friends (other doctors and environmental lawyers) about the agricultural impact of Climate Change. We learned that often rain forests are clear cut to make way for cattle grazing – and the more cows and sheep we consume, the more methane these animals produce.

“…global greenhouse gas emissions will need to fall by 40% to 50% in the next decade. Scientists say the only way to achieve that reduction is to significantly increase the amount of land that’s covered in trees and other vegetation and significantly reduce the amount of methane and other greenhouse gases that come from raising livestock such as cows, sheep and goats.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/08/08/748416223/to-slow-global-warming-u-n-warns-agriculture-must-change

Bob and I were not only intrigued, we were mortified. At least we are open to learning something new from our children. Ever since Bob turned 40 I’ve been trimming away red meat, making turkey meatballs for health reasons. Now, we can factor in a healthy planet for future generations. I only have two caveats – the production of cheese is considered to have a negative impact on the environment, and so is the farming of shrimp! These are two steps too far.

Tonight we’ll play Super Boggle and I’ll make veggie burgers just for fun.

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Why are we Americans so obsessed with the Royals?

I blame Disney. My generation wanted to grow up and have Tinkerbell spread some fairy dust over our heads, thereby turning us into princesses. I laughed out loud when watching “Hamilton” with the Grands whenever King George appeared – poor dear, he never thought you could just LEAVE your post the way George Washington did.

If you were born a Royal, you stayed a Royal, well, usually… until two American divorcees named Simpson and Markle came on the scene.

I was also enamored of another American girl, Grace Kelly. She was the beautiful Hitchcock actress who married her Prince Rainier of Monaco. The Flapper never let me forget that Kelly was also a Pennsylvania girl.

Thanks to Netflix’s “The Crown,” I’m feeling a certain camaraderie with the Windsors. And I was sorry to hear of Prince Philip’s death at 99. Married to Queen Elizabeth for 74 years, the Prince was known for sometimes appearing out of touch. I simply delighted in their love story.

The “Dr Who” actor, Matt Smith, didn’t quite do the Prince justice; the real Philip looked more dashing and debonair while playing second fiddle in real life to Queen Elizabeth. He had to leave his homeland in Greece because of a coup when he was just a baby, growing up without an anchor. Philip was a poorer, distant cousin without a castle, and Elizabeth fell in love with him when she was just 14 years old.

I need to catch up with the series, I’ve heard that Tobias Menzies brings a certain charm to an older Prince Philip.

But before I get lost in the streaming universe, I’ve got to finish gardening. It’s so warm here now that planting has begun in earnest. In the north, I wouldn’t start planting until Mother’s Day; but here in Nashville it’s usually Tax Day! Climate Change is messing with our timing, maybe we should say April Fool’s Day?

We’re almost done with vegetables and my herbs and flowers have been potted. Doves are dining on the tree stump next to the bird feeder. I keep a bowl of fresh water out too and was surprised to see a dove frolicking in the water.

“We still have to plant some impatiens in the ground,” I told Bob.

“And by WE, you mean me?” he replied.

Sometimes I don’t mind being the second fiddle at all. But mostly, it’s nice to be Queen.

The First Born sitting in our neighbor’s garden with the Second Born

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Like a first kiss, everyone can remember the very first time they voted.

I am still proud of my first presidential vote for George McGovern in 1972 over Richard Nixon. I was just 24 years old, and was pretty depressed with the results – the ONLY state McGovern won was the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts! He was an anti-war Democrat when Americans were becoming tired of Vietnam; a Senator from South Dakota with an impeccable reputation. But Nixon managed his huge victory through lies and innuendo, with Watergate looming on the horizon.

At least Nixon lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1970 – ’cause if you can be drafted to die in Vietnam, you might as well be able to vote.

I remember my foster parents voting. It was the only time they would leave me alone in the house; they would get dressed up for the occasion, Nell would wear powder and lipstick, Jim would don a tie. They would never say who they voted for, but somehow I knew it was a straight-line Blue ticket. After all, Democrats were the party of working people, of unions, and even the Catholic Church! This was FDR and JFK’s legacy, they were like saints to us.

And then in 1965, LBJ signed into law the Voting Rights Act to end racial discrimination at the ballot box.

“Black people attempting to vote were often told by election officials that they gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that the officials were late or absent, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or had filled out an application incorrectly. Often African Americans, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, would be forced to take literacy tests, which they inevitably failed. Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in southern states, had been known to force black voters to “recite the entire constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws”–a task most white voters would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. In some cases, even Black people with college degrees were turned away from the polls.”

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/johnson-signs-voting-rights-act

But as we know, so often passing a law and enforcing it are two different things. In the South, Republicans managed to continue to suppress the Black vote in covert ways. Outlawing a poll tax for example can be replaced by fewer and minimally staffed polling places in urban Black neighborhoods. Where there is a White Supremacist will, they will find a way – just as legislators are doing now in Georgia.

One of the most egregious changes Gov Kemp signed into law last week was cutting by half the number of days a person can request an absentee ballot. Due to Covid, in the last election about a quarter of the GA electorate voted absentee. And almost 65% of those voting absentee were for Joe Biden.

The first time I voted absentee was in VA. We were planning a trip over an upcoming November election, so we had to present ourselves to City Hall and state the reason we needed to vote early. You needed a reason, like a child getting a note from a doctor in order to return to school. Then after presenting our photo IDs, we sat down right there and voted with paper and pen.

This last election we requested absentee ballots, because… we’re old. TN Republicans didn’t think a global pandemic was a good enough reason to vote absentee. Bob thought it was funny that we didn’t need to prove who we were to anybody, just make the request online, and wait for it to be delivered. And wait, and wait. Then vote and seal it. I mean, who would hack a government agency? We hand-delivered our ballots, along with Ada and Hudson’s, to the official ballot box at Nashville’s historic US Post Office! Of course, sealing it “the right way” was tricky but we managed.

I wonder what my Nana would say because she was denied her right to vote over a century ago, after the 19th Amendment was passed. She had married an “Alien,” aka an Irish born citizen. What would my foster mom Nell think if she saw me in a face mask, voting at a post office? Would she wonder why Republicans are making it harder to vote than it is to buy a gun? I’d like to ask her out on our porch, while she was sipping an ice cold Royal Crown cola. I’ll have a Pepsi myself.

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I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/01/us/politics/matt-gaetz-justice-department.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

We just cannot look away from the scandal of a certain Florida Panhandle Republican. Last year, while we were vacationing on 30A, we learned that Gaetz was living with a young man he alternately introduced as his aide, his pool boy and sometimes his “son.” Although he never adopted a child, ever. But today, it looks like payments for sex thru certain Apps, to women as young as 17, is bound to catch up with him.

Winning the prize for Most Vile Republican (still in office) is now a toss-up, Matt Gaetz or Ted Cruz?

The Bride has been making plans for another trip to the lower Panhandle on 30A. Bookings in Florida are few and far between because most people want to travel by car during our pre and post pandemic transition. And I understand, being in an airport for the first time in a year was frightening. My only requirements for another getaway? A golf cart and a heated pool! Also, I’ve decided to only live in caftans from now on!

Bob was missing his hot tub last night as temps dropped down below freezing. Here in Nashville, Spring has arrived with a vengeance. The daffodils Ms Berdelle spread around town have finally opened, the ground is carpeted with cherry blossoms, and the recent flooding is receding. Doves coo and perform mating rituals outside my window; robins and squirrels remind me to refill the bird feeder.

We seem to be emerging from a long, dark pandemic winter – taking baby steps, not sure what this new, vaccinated normal will look like.

Human mating rituals have never been easy, even pre-Covid and before dating Apps. I’m feeling sorry for single people now, will they put a giant V on their profile picture to prove they’ve been vaccinated? Where will they go on a first date? Is it OK to do inside dining? What was Gaetz thinking when he arranged these liaisons?

“One person said that the men also paid in cash, sometimes withdrawn from a hotel ATM.

Some of the men and women took ecstasy, an illegal mood-altering drug, before having sex, including Mr. Gaetz, two people familiar with the encounters said.”

Imagine that, we are hearing about the drug habits of two very different men simultaneously – one was Black from Minnesota, the other is still alive, and White.

After a week of quarantine, and one sleepover, the Grands have returned to school, smiling inside their Happy Masks. And the Rocker and his Bride have resumed house hunting in LA. It’s a sellers market with very few homes available, but we’re confident the right property will pop up. And when it does, our designing, Daughter-in-Love will transform its bones into the perfect abode, complete with a separate music studio. Fingers crossed.

This week in Nashville we had our first dinner guests – aside from the small family pod. I actually put on real shoes and make-up. They came inside our house… bearing a salad… and we hugged… no masks. Small talk felt big at first, then we settled into a delightful evening. The crepe shop around the corner has reopened. Passover has passed and Easter is on the horizon.

Will Gaetz resign before the Resurrection?

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