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Archive for May, 2021

Whenever I tried to explain my husband to other journalists around a water cooler, I’d tell people he’s a doctor who hates golf and prefers to hang out in his hangar. Yes, he’s a private pilot who used to own a Piper Arrow 4 seater, until he sold it after his stroke. In the past, I’d laugh about my analogy – it would paint an accurate picture of an iconoclastic renegade. A doctor who doesn’t golf is like a newspaper reporter who doesn’t like gossip!

Lately, airplane hangars have been taking a lot of grief. First, it was Caitlyn Jenner talking about her buddies who are packing up their private jets and leaving California. That’s the talk around small, municipal airports she said. That seems like a good reason to run for Governor.

But today I learned that the fomenting of the BIG LIE around the 2020 election actually started a few years earlier in an airplane hangar in Texas!

When I would hang around Bob’s airplane hangar, I’d be impressed into duty; checking, cleaning, and generally tidying things up. If the kids were there, we might even wash the plane. If one of his buddies stopped by, they’d talk about the flying conditions, some idiot who clipped his wing on another hangar, and the next trip. And there was a lot of talk about why JFK Jr went down on his way to the Vineyard. I mean that was all single-engine plane owners could talk about back then. But we were in the minor leagues.

With money to burn, and pilots to hire, these BIG business people buy or charter super light jets like a Gulfstream. They come with showers, board rooms and can sit up to 11 people. The hangars are also luxurious. This is an extremely select group of movers and shakers, men like Bill Gates and a random Republican Texas billionaire salesman named Russell J Ramsland Jr… what a Dickensian name. Once he dabbled in “wellness technology,” but selling his skepticism proved more lucrative.

Among other claims, Ramsland was repeating the ominous idea that election software used in the United States originated in Venezuela and saying nefarious actors could surreptitiously manipulate votes on a massive scale. As the 2020 election approached, he privately briefed GOP lawmakers in Washington and met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, documents and interviews show.

ASOG’s (Allied Security Operations Group, a GOP pac that began a quixotic attempt to find evidence of widespread fraud where none existed) examination by last summer had already cost more than $1 million, according to a document the company gave government officials that was obtained by The Post. Ramsland had sought funding from Republican donors whose fortunes were made in the oil, gas and fracking industries.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/trump-election-fraud-texas-businessman-ramsland-asog/?itid=hp-top-table-main-0430b

This may help explain why an Arizona audit is looking for bamboo fibers. Ramsland actually converted his hangar into his office. The man who once opened up lots of Tex Mex eateries was now looking for funding to spread widespread voter fraud conspiracies. Usually it’s difficult to find out where a fire started, but it was good investigative reporting that uncovered the spark for the biggest threat to our democracy – disavowing a free and fair election.

I mean remember the hanging chad in Florida? I hated the outcome of that election, I cried about the SCOTUS decision. But I didn’t plan a riotous coup in the Capital.

Since most of us are working from home, and I haven’t been in a news room for quite some time, the typical water cooler gossip has gone virtual. Today, Covid numbers are trending down – in fact Davidson County’s new cases just dipped under 10 per 100,000. But even if we all start traveling and eating indoors again, remember the GOP is still spreading the BIG LIE and stealthily planning a comeback. Their golden orange idol has actually started his own blog. Now Mr T can spread his lies the old school way, complete with misspellings.

I told Bob I wasn’t flying with him unless he learns how to pilot a Cirrus, a plane that has its very own parachute. Nashville has a flying club and it owns one of these pretty planes. You can never be too careful.

Flying to Tune to see the pregnant Bride 6 years ago

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Yesterday, I let W the Frenchie out on the porch, and he went straight for the new cactus dish I had planted. I caught him just in time, his tiny nose was saved from all those dreaded cactus spines. While I was telling the Bride this story, she let it slip that W was down to one meal a day since his puppy fat rolls were growing more fat rolls. My poor Grand Dog must be starving!

Then low and behold, I read a Chasten Buttigieg Tweet lamenting the 20 pounds he gained during Covid. But, he went out and bought new pants after a friend told him, “… maybe just dress the body you have and stop worrying about it.” He finished with being grateful for his friends and the “bigger pants.”

First of all, I didn’t think that guys would mind a little tire around the middle. I thought it was mostly a women’s issue – body dysmorphia and diet culture (aka the business of betting on your willpower) has been marketed to women for quite some time. Where once we were implored to become “bikini ready,” now the industry urges us to lose weight for health reasons. My Mother’s diet culture has morphed from grapefruits into jargon about “wellness.”

I felt like confessing to Chasten (and his 588.8K followers) that I too had gained weight during this past year of: losing our family’s matriarch; no gym work-outs; intense election and January 6th anxiety; plus Bob’s delicious-never-ending sourdough bread. Yep, I proudly admit I’ve gained 10 pounds which is a whole dress size, but who’s wearing dresses these days?

Luckily, most of my pants still fit. Granted they are mostly pull-on, yoga style, size Medium, Eileen Fisher. I know cause I actually had to dress up this past week for a graduation party in Ms Berdelle’s secret garden. Talk about getting back to normal, it was delightful to mingle with our vaccinated friends and neighbors, to drink champagne with strawberries, and walk under her roses reaching into the sky.

And honestly, I don’t worry about gaining or losing a little weight. I used to joke that I wasn’t quite Jewish enough because when I worry I stop eating. Well, Grandma Ada would be pleased to know that I’ve finally joined the tribe. This past year required an abundance of comfort food, and I love to cook; so the constellations aligned and voila! I find myself in the South searching for the perfect fried chicken sandwich.

Oh, and the rocks in my pants pockets as I head out the door to Hattie B’s?

I’m not some Victorian damsel in distress heading for the river to drown my sorrows. No, I carry rocks around to hurl at Kevin, who has decided to bring two of his squirrel buddies to raid my dish of delectable bird seed. One good throw never hits him and it does give the doves a few minutes before he returns.

Right now a mourning dove is lifting both wings, sitting across from Kevin, who could care less. She is doing her very best to appear intimidating and large, but squirrels know things. He keeps eating.

Animals have figured out what we humans are still learning, how to eat to survive and thrive. They don’t require scales or marketing ploys. And I don’t require a bikini anymore, I’m more of a tankini type anyway.

Still, sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me eat.

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When Bob and I first contemplated building our ‘not so big’ house in Virginia, I remember our builder telling us we could build with reinforced concrete instead of the usual stick construction. After all, with our view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, we could expect lots of wind and weather. Then he mentioned that it would be so air tight, you wouldn’t hear the birds.

Well, that would never do!

I called my upstairs office my aviary. I loved listening to the racket made by woodpeckers, and two owls calling to each other at sunset. “Whoo.” But I would never feed the birds because I didn’t want to attract bears. I enjoyed Mother Nature in real time: watching fox kits rolling along the grass; families of deer daintily strolling through trees, and two huge Pileated woodpeckers jack hammering a branch that had fallen in the driveway. My favorite sighting was a hummingbird who returned to the same flower every year, at about the same time.

There was plenty of forest for everyone to feast. It was like living inside a Disney movie, with bluebirds everywhere.

But 2020 being what it was, with the addition of a long number of days, below freezing and snow covered, I started throwing out nuts and bread for our poor city slicker birds. Soon enough, I was bringing home big bags of the most delectable bird seed and ordering a fancy, new feeder online. No bears to fear here. Now granted, our small side yard garden cannot compare with 14 acres of woods, but I’ve still managed to attract a diverse group of feathered friends.

Small wrens and finches cling easily to the bird feeder, but the bigger birds, like doves and robins, blue jays and cardinals prefer grazing. So every day I fill a bowl with seed and put out fresh water on a tree stump – the one that held the fairy house. A mockingbird can flit between the stump and the feeder, depending on traffic. And that is the view through my office window today; mourning doves displaying dominance along with an ingenious squirrel. The squirrel trumps everyone on the stump.

Am I becoming that old lady? The one who sits and stares out her window, if she’s not feeding a dozen cats; the one who runs out screaming in her nightgown at the squirrel gobbling all the goodies?

This morning I feel better about my latest obsession. The National Geographic published an article about why backyard birding is great for kids and adults. I was not surprised to read that having a bird feeder can actually contribute to our feeling of happiness.

But why are birds so important to nature’s biodiversity—and therefore your family’s potential happiness? For one thing, birds are an indicator species, meaning they basically function as a “check engine light” for biodiversity. When something is out of whack in nature, birds let us know—often by disappearing—because they need a healthy environment to survive. Of course, birds aren’t the only indicator, but since they’re found almost everywhere in the world and are easy to study, their presence—or absence—is a good way to measure the variety of life that research shows can boost mood.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/article/why-a-backyard-thats-for-the-birds-is-great-for-kids-too?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=social::src=twitter::cmp=editorial::add=tw20210430family-livingnearbirdsplanetpossible&sf245481661=1

You’ve heard about the canary in the coal mine. What sparked my empathy for our city birds was coming home one of those frosty winter days to see about ten doves lined up like good little grey soldiers on our porch. They spanned the length of our kitchen wall to capture some house heat and stay out of the wind. Of course they deserved a mourning dove diner on a tree stump!

It’s a diner and fly-in reality show every day.

We’ve created a city bird sanctuary in our sideyard, where birdsong competes with construction noise. And when it all goes quiet, I know danger is near… sure enough, our squirrel is sitting there on his hind legs stuffing his cheeks. Squirrels have to eat too.

Maybe I’m replacing the background sounds of a family. The Flapper used to tell me that some day I would miss those little feet running across a floor and the constant hum of children. She was right. Or maybe it just makes me smile whenever I see our bright red cardinal!

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