Archive for June, 2021

While temperatures are soaring all over Turtle Island (the indigenous name for North America) and the search continues for survivors of a building collapse in Miami, this old dancer has been down for the count. I’ve been busy going back to Physical Therapy, aka PT. It would seem that age is taking its toll on my body, Pilates or not! Fifteen months of gym-free living, and an extra 10 pounds combined with my first real cold and a trip to the beach has left me limping around in pain for the last week.

So don’t let all those glamorous Insta-moments fool you.

This is day four of my oral prednisone burst, and I’m finally feeling better though sleep can be patchy.

Big shout out to all the physical therapists out there! My gal at Vandy is Jen, she is a true wonder woman. She’s previously worked on my neck, my right hip, a foot and I’m sure she’ll hit every other major body part in no time. Today I told her about the Flapper’s shorter leg – she lost two inches in one leg after our Year of Living Dangerously. I guess back in 1949 there was very little PT.

Anyway, my Mother would hold onto the banister with both hands going downstairs one step at a time; and I was afraid that this could be my future too. But Jen has my problem under control – she pushes here, and has me pulling bands there and doing bridges and clamshells, and you name it! Finally, I’m able to walk without much pain.

And I told Bob today if bigamy wasn’t illegal, I’d marry her!

Which is funny because I didn’t know that in South Africa, bigamy IS legal, but only for MEN! Yep, men can have as many wives as they want, it’s called polygamy, but women can only have one husband… If a woman marries more than one husband she is stigmatized and the practice is called polyandry.

“…polyandry was once practised in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, and it is still practised in Gabon, where the law allows it. With the arrival of Christianity and colonisation the role of the woman became diminished. They were no longer equal. Marriage became one of the tools used to establish hierarchy.”


As Professor Henry Higgins asks in My Fair Lady, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

To be fair, I personally would not want to marry more than one person. Think of all the dinners you’d have to cook, and how would you know who fathered a baby without a DNA test? Besides, Jen is happily married.

My condition didn’t stop the Bride from dragging me to an amazing solo feminist dance exhibition on Saturday at OZ Arts https://www.ozartsnashville.org/ Watching Becca Hoback (who is 6 feet tall from Wisconsin) stretch and twist and turn and play with the role of female was a welcome relief from the heat and pain.

Happy Pride Month to ALL!

OZ Arts

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First Ladies’ wardrobes are always scrutinized – Michelle’s sleeveless tops, Hillary’s pantsuits, and even the twice impeached and disgraced former president’s wife, Melania couldn’t catch a break. An impoverished Slovenian immigrant, with her four inch heels and designer dresses, nothing could stop her smile from turning into a smirk. People thought at first she was being held in the White House against her will…

Maybe she’d fallen into a kind of Britney Spears spiral; a pre-nup/conservatorship? But hey, “I really don’t care, do U?”

Because this week I got to meet Dr Jill Biden with the Bride! I only had a day’s warning, FLOTUS was leaving Jackson, MS and heading to Nashville to thank all the healthcare workers for their exceptional work this past year and to keep the spotlight on vaccinations. My name was approved and on the secret service list. The instructions were – no bags, just a photo ID and there was free beer if you had your COVID vaccination card!

What to Wear? It’s hard to get your fashion mojo back after 14 months of yoga pants and tee shirts. I usually wear slippers (outside and in) and the occasional sneaker for walking Ms Bean. But the Bride helped me pick out an outfit; a cute gingham top, black Eileen Fisher pants and gold huarache sandals. Of course my pants had NO POCKETS, so I slipped my driver’s license inside my bra.

I had to go through a metal detector. The place was surrounded by police and secret service guys dressed in jeans. I met the Mayor, The City Clerk, the Chairman of the TN Democratic party, and all my daughter’s doctor friends. Some came from work in scrubs or their white coats, and we all gathered around a table to wait for Dr Jill. I managed to get a small dermatologic consult from a woman whose husband may be considering a run for public office – but that’s another story.

First of all, Dr Jill is adorably short and looks just like a Jersey Shore girl, blonde bangs and all. She was wearing a bright red jungle print dress with zoo animals peeking out of a black blazer, and kitten heels. She spoke eloquently, in a Pennsylvania voice that resonated with my ancestors, about having empathy for those people who are still on the fence about vaccines.

And then this morning, I read on Twitter that “FLOTUS was not only booed in Nashville,” she wore a dress that looked like a salad had spilled all over it! Well come on, I mean that picture of a floral dress was nice and a little busy, but she wasn’t wearing it. This is a perfect example of how misinformation can spread like wildfire. Yes, our crowd booed when she brought up the statistics for TN, we sure did BOO because TN is ranked 48th in the nation for adult vaccines!!

Dr Jill may have been caught off guard because she said we were booing ourselves, but really we were booing a Republican-run state that was slow to plan for this virus and never made a mask mandate! If you were to look at the stats for Davidson County, where we have equal parts musicians and medical workers, 49.8% of adults are vaccinated.

Brad Paisley followed our First Lady, singing a new song and talking about growing up in West Virginia, where he said neighbors would show up with gallon jugs of water at a fire before the fire truck even arrived. He made the analogy to Covid, that we all have to do our part to stop the spread of this virus, to control the death toll. I’m not a big country music person, but I have to admit he stole my heart.

Rumors are swirling again about Melania. It seems she didn’t bother to show up for her husband’s 75th birthday party at his golf club in NJ. Poor Don, the man personally responsible for 40% of Covid deaths in our country, because he was all about his image:

The report, published by the Lancet Commission, excoriated Trump’s handling of the pandemic and general approach to public health. “He expedited the spread of COVID-19 in the US,” the authors wrote.

“Many of the cases and deaths were avoidable,” they said, adding that “instead of galvanizing the US populace to fight the pandemic, President Trump publicly dismissed its threat (despite privately acknowledging it), discouraged action as infection spread, and eschewed international cooperation.”


I’m proud to have a loving family in the White House, and a First Lady who would rather wear zoo animals than hunt and kill majestic elephants.

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Yesterday, Bob and I picked up the Grands from their morning day camp and offered them a choice for an afternoon activity. Rain was in the forecast so outdoor fun was limited. How about a visit to the Frist Art Museum? The children’s section is closed so, no thanks. Would they like to go to “Top Golf” and hit some golf balls from a climate controlled and covered bay? https://topgolf.com/us/nashville/

In this transition Covid time, the thought was we could keep socially distant in our very own individual box/bay. You can order food and drinks to be delivered, and we had been there before so I knew they’d love it. Much to our surprise, the L’il Pumpkin declined this too, in favor of our other choice – the Adventure Science Center! https://www.adventuresci.org/

Since both children are too young to be vaccinated, we pre-empted our visit with a few rules. We must wear our masks at all times even though the Pumpkin has another loose tooth, we must try and stay 6 ft apart from others, and if it gets too crowded, we leave. Well the stars must have been aligned, because the scheduled show in the Sudekum Planetarium was about the origins of FLIGHT… right up Pilot Bob’s alley.

This delightful science museum was built for children to effortlessly interact with exhibits and explore their world. We learned about gravity and wind tunnels, and fulcrums, and germs. We stood in front of a mirror and our refections turned into skeletons! Unfortunately, the virtual reality exhibit was closed, but that didn’t matter. Just being able to see our Grands run free, inside, in a “safe space,” was reward enough for me.

And finally sitting back in a dark planetarium, in our masks with lots of empty seats around us, we looked up at the stars as the film began. Have you ever dreamed you were flying? Starting with Aladdin’s magic carpet, and then watching Leonardo DaVinci sketch his idea of a flying machine, the Grands were mesmerized. As the narrator spoke, while we “flew” over France, about the development of hot air balloons starting in 1783 Paris, even the adults in the theatre were transfixed.

Did you know the first balloon passengers were farm animals – a sheep, a duck and a rooster! And that even though Kitty Hawk, NC saw the Wright Brothers first successful flight, it was the French who began to mass produce airplanes.

The Love Bug turned to me and said, “Nana, I’ve never been on a hot air balloon!” I told her she has lots of time ahead to plan for a special trip and I remembered a friend from NJ whose Grandmother took her on a hot air balloon tour across France. This particular nana, who looked exactly like the Old Lady in Babar’s books, is my grandmotherly mentor.

Today we can all travel across the world in record time, and we are busy exploring space. But today is also the anniversary of Galileo having to recant his conviction that the SUN, and not the Earth, is the actual Center of the Universe. In 1633 the Roman Church was large and in charge of everything scientific and otherwise.

“Galileo lived at a time when the centuries-old Almagest of the Egyptian scholar Claudius Ptolemy, written in 139AD, was still being used by the Church as “evidence” and “confirmation” for the Aristotelian idea that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe. Galileo was part of the Renaissance, the centuries-long ferment accelerated and intensified by the invention of printing in the middle of the 15th century. He was not alone. More or less contemporary with him were physicists and mathematicians Willebrord Snell (the Dutchman who conceived the law of light refraction), the Belgian Simon Stevin and the four Frenchmen Marin Mersenne, Pierre de Fermat, Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascale. Yet it is Galileo’s name that survives as the “founder” of physics.”


Of course, it’s impossible to know where the Center of the Universe is, whether it’s finite or infinite. And we would be pretty selfish still to think that other galaxies beyond our ability to see them don’t exist. All we know is that the universe is expanding and though we don’t know its exact size, “…we only have a lower limit that it must now be at least 46.1 billion light-years in radius in all directions from our perspective.”

From my perspective, my universe is a bit smaller.

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Daddy Jim could play the spoons. We’d be standing in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner, and he’d break out in a big smile while jockeying spoons like a pro! I’m not sure if anyone does that anymore, but most dads have some entertaining trick up their sleeve. Bob can pick up a guitar, start playing Puff the Magic Dragon, and even today the Bride will tear up.

But today’s dad has to compete with screens for a child’s attention. I always knew the Groom had a wicked sense of humor, I didn’t know it could be inherited. So far, he and the L’il Pumpkin like this one:

“What does the janitor say when he jumps out of the closet?”


Along with helping to steer Vandy’s Covid ICU response this past year, the Groom also commandeered his whole family outside to ride bikes, he makes up silly songs with the kiddos and plays them on the piano or his guitar, and he is solely responsible for the newest member of their family of pets, a small lizard named Fred has joined forces with three canines!

In fact, the Groom is an expert fly catcher, almost Obama level, when it comes to delivering fresh food to Fred.

But what makes a dad star quality?

Time: Taking the time to listen to a child, to play, to just talk without criticism or distractions.

Creativity: Helping a child develop their artistic sense – gardening/cooking/building and painting together.

Humor: Buffering life’s ups and downs with a positively funny outlook – sometimes known as


But if there’s one feature that can immediately categorize a joke as a “dad joke,” it’s wordplay, especially of the unsophisticated variety. Examples: “Hey, do you know what time my dentist appointment is? Tooth-hurty.” “You know why they always build fences around cemeteries? Because people are dying to get in.” The purposeful confusion of “smart feller” and “fart smeller.” This famous exchange: “I’m hungry.” “Hi, Hungry. I’m Dad.” 

“Most jokes rely on some semantic ambiguity or grammatical ambiguity,” Dubinsky says. “The things people call ‘dad jokes’ are the ones where the ambiguity is crushingly obvious.”


I mean, we all manage to embarrass our children, but who doesn’t love getting an eye-roll from a pre-teen. Dads like to remind their children that in fact they were once young too, and suffered from “… a combination of exhaustion and your kids laughing at anything when they’re very young, which creates a perverse incentive system and endows you with false confidence….Then you spend the rest of your life doubling down on dad jokes.”

So in effect, dads pass down their particular sense of humor in a funny, feedback-loop. Their children learn resilience, it’s hard to worry about things when your dad says, “Someday we’ll laugh at this…”

Like when the Love Bug told me her stuffed manatee’s name is “Hugh.” Get it?!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.


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The important part about buying a souvenir when you’re traveling is, will it fit in your luggage? Summer is here and Americans are back on the road, in trains and planes, searching for just the right trinket for a special someone…

… but buying a gift for someone you love is an art.

I’m not talking about a teeshirt from Key West. In the past, I’ve returned from Provence with pillow covers and napkins. I’ve been known to stuff a beautiful woven bread basket in the overhead returning from Charleston. But mostly, I was always on the lookout for anything with a bluebird – tea towels, tiny blown glass tchotchkes, silk scarves in an aviary print.

Today, we rarely have the opportunity to express our individual gift-giving skills; to think about the recipient and their quirks and desires. Whimsy has been subverted by The Gift Registry, just check something off an online list and poof, you’re done! It’s the opposite of thoughtfulness, it’s commerce. And sure, a wedding registry may be as unavoidable as ants at a picnic, but at least with a first marriage I can understand the need for it.

We all need to outfit a kitchen, whether we plan to cook or not. Still, I loved strolling through a foreign farmer’s market to find just the right present for Great Grandma Ada. She always returned from her travels with a small treasure for me. Maybe it was handmade beads from Russia, or a piece of pottery from Japan.

On one of our last nights at the beach, we went in search of the perfect ice cream cone. Thank God the Blue Mountain Creamery was still open because all the tourist shops had closed at 5! I strolled along some still open, open-air artist shacks, looking at the stained glass, the paintings of surf and sand, the tiny clay sea turtles. And without warning, a frog jumped into my throat; I no longer needed to find a bluebird for Adala.

June is her birthday month. She would have been so happy to see the world coming back to life. To see Joe and Jill meet the Queen. She would have smiled when she learned I was feeding the birds like she did. She would tell me it’s OK to light a candle on her birthday, and not on her death day.

And she would laugh to learn I was featured in a music video, pink hair and all! Here is the Love Bug and her buddy post-ice cream, did I mention she made a Clip with the L’il Pumpkin about the trash they found on the beach? Ada would be so proud of their nascent climate activism.

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We are on our annual pilgrimage to the beach. To recharge, refresh and hopefully not get sunburned. But a “coup de soleil” on the nose is unavoidable.

We head to the emerald water in the early morning before the crowds. I notice there are no shells to speak of and the L’il Pumpkin noticed there was garbage in the dunes.

He also noticed a large turtle crossing the main road in our golf cart. We stopped and a guy in a truck got out and helped the turtle across and placed him gently in the pine needles.

We always take naps at the beach. The sun and sand take a lot out of you. The Love Bug is rapidly turning into a preteen. No one is ready for that, but she can’t wait for a cell phone!

Today we had fish for lunch and fish is on the menu for dinner. The dining table is covered with a jigsaw puzzle of baby animals. So we’ll eat on the couch and maybe watch a movie.

I love our time here. No news, just lazy days. June has crept in on puppy dog paws.

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We met the Bride et al for lunch, and a trip to our favorite bookstore, Parnassus. Ann Patchett walked in as we were checking out. Then I decided to check out this sneaker/running store in the same shopping center, they scan your feet and really know their stuff. I knew I had a high arch and instep, and this proved it! Instead of my usual Asics, a brand I’d been wearing for 20 years, I bought a pair of Finnish sneakers – Karhu. Maybe my feet will thank me, we’ll see.

As Bob and I were leaving, a woman about my age asked me how long we’d been married. I smiled and said “42 years today! It’s our anniversary!”

Then she proceeded to tell me how special and rare that is, that she could tell by the way we touch each other. She must have been watching us interact with the salesperson for awhile. We talked about building houses, and then she said her marriage ended in divorce.

I didn’t tell her it was all a bed of roses. I didn’t say we’d had our tough times, but we slogged through. I forgot to mention that the way he drives, drives me crazy, or that he likes to eat his food separately, and hates being told what to do. Especially if he was just about to do a thing, like take out the garbage.

I didn’t tell her that it was his smell I first fell in love with, back in high school, like freshly washed clothes hung out to dry on a line in the sun. I forgot to say he was my music man, my Nathan Detroit. That we have totally different tastes in almost everything: films; books; furniture. He has no use for style – he is the consummate scientist and I’m the artist. But we agree on most of the important things.

Like parenting and grandparenting and politics.

Religion or lack thereof.

Our mostly positive outlook on life.

Netflix this past year was hit or miss. But it’s rare to find him sitting down for a long period of time anyway. I’m currently watching The Kaminsky Method, and he sits in every now and then.

As we drove home today with my new sneakers, I thought about how lucky I am. Bob tends to the garden, he still loves to fly, he’s taking his (every 10 year) emergency medicine boards re-certification test online even though he’s retired, and he’s taken to doing the dishes which is only fair since I do the cooking. Although he has become the pasta chef extraordinaire! So maybe that’s a part of it, we still find each other interesting. We actually talk to each other.

And he will hold me when I can’t sleep.

Tonight we’ll celebrate at a swanky local restaurant, and tomorrow I have to be on set at 8 AM!! Believe it or not, I’m going to be a “hip nana” in a music video. Maybe this will be my second or third act?

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