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Archive for September, 2021

Yesterday, my cell phone was acting hot and wonky, so I turned it off. All the way off; I plugged it in and forgot about it in an upstairs bedroom. Well actually, I did remember it when we decided to walk down to the Farmer’s Market for lunch, but then decided I could do live without it.

There were no pictures of my hand holding an itty bitty TN statehouse. No pix of tourists stopping on their Hop On Hop Off trolley to take pictures of us locals eating lunch outside and wondering which Country artist we might be. No videos of us singing and twirling to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” in the middle of the booming Carillon bells on the Bicentennial Mall. https://www.trolleytours.com/nashville/carillon-bells

And I can honestly say it was one of the ten best days of, let’s just say, the past five years! And it wasn’t just my incommunicado state of being “In the present,” without beeps or Insta. It was also the first day the sun decided to shine again after so many days of rain. I saw our cardinal at the bird feeder in the morning and at twilight. And…. it was sweater weather! Finally the Autumnal Equinox begins!

I told Bob it’s only natural for people to love the season of their birth. For me it’s the outlandish color of Ginkgo trees, the old feel of new school shoes, the smell of burning leaves. And whenever there’s a chill in the air, I just have to make chili! Luckily we still have peppers in the garden.

“It’s like this all the time in California,” he said.

Well that’s true. In the South we have maybe two weeks of this weather if we’re lucky. I also have a very loud squirrel named Kevin reminding me he needs to fatten up for winter!

Plugging back into the news stream this morning, I heard Eugene Robinson of the WAPO discuss the stalemate in Congress over Police Reform. It would seem that Republicans, even Black Republicans, were willing to leave the table over qualified immunity – a term Robinson called “qualified impunity.”

Qualified immunity is a defense that law enforcement and other government officials can raise in response to lawsuits seeking monetary damages for alleged civil rights violations. Unless the plaintiff can show an officer violated a “clearly established” right—meaning a court already declared similar behavior in a previous case to be unconstitutional—the officer can’t be held liable.

https://time.com/6061624/what-is-qualified-immunity/

Being able to sue somebody in America should be our birthright! Right? If a doctor forgets an instrument, let’s say he left something in your abdomen after surgery, and you are injured or die because of his/her negligence, you can sue for damages… you can sue the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital! Hell, you could probably also sue the maker of the instrument.

But if a police officer mistakes his/her taser for a gun and shoots you dead? Or maybe they got the wrong address and shot you in your own bed? Well, mistakes happen. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that qualified immunity allows officers to, “shoot first and think later.” 

Was I just naive to think we could actually work out some bi-partisan plan to save our democracy? To pass an infrastructure bill, to undo all these unnecessary, tedious and costly state recounts, to keep Roe steady and strong for American women?

In Texas, one can sue a doctor for performing an abortion, but not a police officer for killing an innocent person. My splendid day did a deep dive until I remembered we were getting the Grands tonight for a sleepover!

May I never be immune to the sound of children’s laughter.

About to release the butterflies

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My first text of the morning was from the Bride: “Breaking News!”

BREAKING NEWS! These two words flashing across any screen used to get my heart churning, but now I just wonder what else Niki Minaj’s best friend’s cousin is up to… but wait! It’s a New York Times article – our Grands just may be vaccinated by Halloween.

“The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine in these children.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/health/covid-children-vaccine-pfizer.html

What a joyous, rainy, overcast Monday. You see the Bride inherited her Father’s lungs, and kindly passed a little reactive airway disease down to the Pumpkin, who’s not so little anymore. As a baby, he would get rushed into a shower with croup late at night. It’s almost like having asthma; during allergy season he may need to use an inhaler. With children’s cases of Covid going up 250%, I was particularly worried about this little First Grader.

Bob and I decided to walk in our fancy, indoor mall yesterday after several days of rain. My medical consultant tells me I must keep moving after a fall, so we donned our Happy Masks and set out on an adventure. I’m just guessing, but probably less than 50% of shoppers were wearing masks. And each store had their own policy about masking hanging on their door. This is Nashville yes, but the rest of Tennessee helps keep our Covid numbers up; Tennessee is Number ONE in the nation for new Covid cases!

I keep wearing a mask indoors not because I’m afraid of getting sick. After two jabs of Moderna, I could easily not know I was infected, or be asymptomatic, and unknowingly pass the virus to a friend or loved one. I keep wearing my mask so that I can still hug my Grandchildren.

I keep wearing a mask indoors and don’t understand people walking through a mall with young children all unmasked.

I’ll keep wearing a mask indoors just as long as my daughter tells me to, along with my other medical consultant who will keep reminding me to bring a mask with me wherever we go. Bob has successfully passed his Emergency Medicine Boards this month, HOORAY!!! (docs have to re-certify every so many years). Hope reigns supreme at my city farmhouse. Maybe he’ll start doing remote medicine? Or Urgent Care? Or something medical?

Yesterday as we sat outside a cafe in the mall, Bob told me he’d been doing the math.

One out of every 200 people in this mall has Covid and doesn’t know it.”

It was not at all reassuring, but that’s why I love him. He will always tell me the truth and doesn’t mince words. He knows whether I broke a hip or not. He even does the dishes. He wants us to get booster shots soon, and our flu shots today!

I’m hopeful he’ll keep making sourdough bread and keep me laughing and walking and Covid-free for years to come. And I’m hopeful our Pumpkin and Bug and all the kids in that age range will stay safe for just another month or so.

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It was a Wednesday like any other. I was having my morning coffee and noticed the mourning dove diner atop the tree stump outside of my window was empty. One lone dove stared out into space, wondering where his breakfast might be… so I threw on a rain jacket because there was a dewy mist to the air, and headed outside with replacement seeds and nuts.

Feeding the birds has become a pleasurable pandemic habit. I love watching them squabble over position and seeing a cardinal can become the highlight of my day. Sometimes I worry that I’m becoming “That Old Lady,” but at least I’m not walking out of the house in my bedroom slippers anymore.

The fancy slip-on UGG shearling slippers contributed to the mishap last Wednesday. I was wearing them as I waltzed out to feed the city’s wildlife, since squirrels take their equal share of the dove diner. On balance, I was in great shape. Thanks to Pilates, my hips didn’t ache and my knees were less crumbly. In short, I didn’t stop before climbing stairs to wonder which foot should go first anymore. A breakthrough in our quest to age gracefully!

To say I lost my balance would be wrong.

I simply turned away from the feeder and put my right foot up on the deck’s rain-slicked step. In less than a second I landed right-side-down on the deck with my right arm extended. BOOM. I wondered if I’d broken my hip. My ankle hurt a little and I yelled for Bob, “BOB!”

Thankfully he came out to examine me and deemed me very lucky indeed. My hip was fine and he put a band-aid on my ankle. I have some road rash on my right elbow – this is how fast it happened, I never put my hand down – and a bruise on the right side of my thigh that’s about to turn all shades of purple. Mercy prevailed, as the Bride was working that Wednesday morning and I really didn’t want to be wheeled into her hospital’s ER.

My pride was hurt. Still no dog walkers saw my slipped n fell routine; even our neighbor didn’t come out of his house. It was just a hump day like every other in a pandemic. We were going to pick up the Frenchie puppy for his Nana and PopBob day camp since both doctors were working.

Would this be a good time to remind you that TN has the distinction of being number ONE in the country for new Covid cases per capita?!

The latest milestone is one of several records the state has reached in the past several weeks, stemming from a spike in cases and hospitalizations among school-aged children.

Hundreds of students throughout Tennessee have been forced to quarantine or isolate due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some schools have closed classrooms due to staffing shortages, while others have temporarily asked the state to switch to virtual learning.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2021-09-14/tennessee-covid-19-cases-climb-to-top-in-the-country

On Yom Kippur we Jews are supposed to do a performance review of the past year. Last night, Bob and I hiked to a flowing creek by a golf course to throw our sins away. He had warned me I may be feeling the after effects of a fall, and I did. Thank you God for not breaking my hip. Despite my sore back, I cooked the last of our garden’s eggplant beforehand and delivered some to the Grands since both doctor-parents were working again.

On Balance, I’d rather not give our un-vaccinated grandchildren a deadly virus. I’d rather not hear what the twice impeached ex-president has to say. And I promise to only wear real shoes while feeding the birds.

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Maybe it’s because I was reading about an English photographer and gardener who pivoted her lens to her own backyard as the Covid pandemic hit the UK. I love stories of resilience like this; your life is just chugging along happily and suddenly the world shuts down… Ola Maddams captured wildlife in their own element with a heat-sensing camera. I adored her incredible shots of hedgehogs and the occasional fox!

At least I think that’s why the word “hegemony” came to mind.

…the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas. The term hegemony is today often used as shorthand to describe the relatively dominant position of a particular set of ideas and their associated tendency to become commonsensical and intuitive, thereby inhibiting the dissemination or even the articulation of alternative ideas.” 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/hegemony

My interpretation of hegemony is that a ruling class comes to power without a single gunshot. They spread their ideology through stories, propaganda and coercion until it seems normal. If the Taliban think that maintaining their control of Afghanistan will be easy, that killing anyone who may have been associated with the resistance or American interests will cement their power, they are wrong.

Our lasting legacy in a 20 year war of occupation will not be American schools and hospitals, it will most definitely not be free and fair elections. But what we have left is a new generation that knows what freedom feels like. Young people who know there is a culturally conservative way to practice Islam, but also a rational reform way of practicing their religion. Young women who feel it is their God-given right to be educated.

And what makes our departure different from every other colonizing force in the past? The internet can be smuggled under an abaya in the palm of a woman’s hand.

A neighbor in VA was from Iran. She once told me that women would cover their fancy Western clothes with a big coat when they went to a wedding. Self-called morality censors on the street would never bother them, or maybe they were paid to look the other way. Coats would come off at the wedding venue and alcohol would be served. Where there’s a will….

The Bride and Grands collected toiletries for the Islamic Center of Nashville on 9/11. The Imam told us they are expecting to help relocate around a hundred Afghan families to middle Tennessee. Bob and I took off our shoes and toured the mosque while the kids played on the soft, padded carpeting.

Everyone was so friendly. It felt good, even cleansing to do this small mitzvah on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Hebrew word does not mean a “good deed,” it’s a bit more complicated.

The definition of mitzvah: “Mitzvah literally means “commandment.”  In fact, Jewish tradition understands exactly 613 mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) to be derived from the Hebrew Bible. The 613 are listed in Maimonides‘ Sefer Hamitzvot (Book of the Commandments), divided into “positive” (things one is required to do) and “negative” (things one may not do) commandments.”

I feel a positive charge in the Fall air, except for a certain legislator from West Virginia. Maybe Manchin is just a slow poke and he’ll see the light soon.

We gave the Love Bug a butterfly kit for her 9th birthday and she received her caterpillars last week. They’ll soon be emerging from their chrysalis to be released in their garden, joining the fuzzy bees tunneling into the outlandish, pink rose-of-sharon blooms.

Let’s hope that in the coming year all the anti-vaxxers and climate deniers, anti-semites and Islamaphobes find themselves overwhelmed by the hegemony of naturalists. By a love for the diversity of humans, animals and habitat.

Photo by Ola Maddams https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-58327374

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Blue is my favorite color. Blue like the ocean, or a cloudless sky; azure blue can be brutal and beautiful all at once. Twenty years ago today, September 10th, I walked out my front door in Rumson, NJ and looked up to see a Great Blue Heron glide across our garage, swooping down to the river. He looked to be a pale grey compared to that azure sky.

The garage at the time was home to my son’s band. There was a drum set in one corner, speakers, microphones, a rug and some old furniture. A big yellow street sign, “Hope Road,” was hung on one of the walls – later the American flag would cover the doorway.

I used to serve the boys in the band bagel dogs, chips and soda. We weren’t into “healthy eating” yet, I was still happy if the Rocker took time to eat a meal with us at all. I tried not to nag about finishing up his college applications, and wondered aloud if he really wanted to go… it turns out he did.

In retrospect, my worries seemed so small.

Would the Bride be safe in a basement apartment in DC? We had just helped her move on from college to her first job at the Federal Trade Commission. Her Public Policy major had prepared her for this paralegal appointment, I wondered if she would be bound for law school.

Every morning I’d send her a quick email – just to check in. I once asked her if my daily notes were too intrusive, and she said no, she just didn’t always have time to answer me. But she loved getting them; I wish I had archived all those notes. I tried to be poetic, and positive. So many words have been lost over the years.

On the bright blue morning of September 11th, I called her on the government’s office line. Something was happening, something monumental. Planes had flown into the Twin Towers and maybe the Pentagon. Daddy was heading to the marina in Highlands. Did a helicopter crash on the Mall? There was another plane missing. She and her co-workers left their federal building and walked to their homes, not wanting to use the subway.

Her birthday became a National Day of Mourning. Monmouth County NJ lost 147 souls on 9/11, including a neighbor on Buena Vista Avenue, the street where we lived. And a high school classmate of hers, and his father.

I never thought in my wildest dreams, that a group of home-grown, “misinformed,” stop/the/steal crazy conservative terrorists could ever breach the People’s House. Could accomplish in a few hours what Bin Laden spent years planning, only to be denied in the last hour of 9/11 by REAL patriots who died in a field in Pennsylvania.

And now these Domestic Terrorists are coming back? While Nashville celebrates Pride Weekend September 18-19, DC will host another… what? Rally, Protest to free the Terrorists, ie Traitors, an Insurrectionist Mob? Will they bring guns or rely on flag poles and bear spray again?

President Biden’s ultimatum yesterday to anti-vaxxers was long overdue. Hearing last night that the Justice Department has decided to sue Texas for their blatantly illegal heartbeat bill was also a welcome reprieve from the news of late. Have the Democrats finally found their footing? Can we turn our country into its purple-blue mountain majesty. Take this test to know where you stand:

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Hello Fall and candied apples! We celebrated the Bride and Groom’s anniversary yesterday, which was better than last year since we were quarantining. Today a new year begins on the Jewish calendar.

You may think it’s 2021, but for Jews around the world it’s 5782! It’s time to gather and listen to the shofar, to dip apples in honey. But since our Grands are too young to be vaccinated, there will be no religious service to attend, not even outside.

The Delta variant and vaccine deniers, politicians and mask evaders are rejoicing no doubt.

And since Great Grandma Ada left us almost one year ago, the excitement of a new year – one that looks destined to continue a spiritual lockdown – has eluded me. Granted this holiday isn’t the biggest one on the Jewish calendar, but for me it was the easiest to accomplish at home. You could use flour, and nothing had to be fried!

September is not just for holidays, let the month of many birthday parties begin!

The first was Saturday. Bob and I drove the Grands to a first grade friend’s party at an outdoor mini-golf course. I’m constantly amazed at how young parents can deliver a safe birthday celebration for their children during our year and a half of living with Covid.

The L’il Pumpkin said yesterday, “Isn’t Delta an airplane?” And we all joined in with applause because of course it’s an airline and it’s also a kitchen faucet, and a toilet. Now the image of a Delta toilet is stuck in my mind. Being able to laugh, to make Dad Jokes, was helpful as we reminisced with the Bride and Groom about the wedding. Because my daughter and husband were married on a mountain.

They said their vows on a sunlit, crisp day in an apple orchard, under Ada’s handmade Huppah.

And since Rosh Hashanah moves around on a lunar calendar, it wasn’t until today that I made the connection – apples and honey is to the New Year as an apple orchard is to the Wedding!

There is the tiniest of chills in the early morning air here in Nashville. The oppressive 90+ degree heat has left us. As the High Holy Days approach, I’m thinking of renewal. Of strengthening ties that bind and letting go of nonsense. Of living in the present so I can recognize joy when it appears. Of creating healthier habits, of accepting the things I cannot change.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr

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I was going to write about refrigerators… and washing machines.

About how my Nana didn’t want to give up her ice box, but she finally relented. When I was young, she would send me to the store to buy Dolly Madison ice cream for her new Frigidaire, the kind with a big compressor on top.

On laundry day, I remember my foster mother Nell would pull the hand-crank-wringer washing machine over to the kitchen sink. She’d hook up the hose to the faucet, push clothes through the wringer while telling me to stay away because ‘God forbid you don’t want to crush your hand.’ Then she would hang the clothes up to dry outside in the sunshine. I still wish I had a clothesline.

But then I made the mistake of checking Twitter.

Oh Texas, you and your lone star. The state where you don’t need a permit to carry a gun, but just try and get an abortion after 6 weeks and anybody can put a bounty on your head. I wonder if SCOTUS actually thought this through? By letting their “heartbeat bill” stand, the court has set a precedent – something most Republicans never want to do.

Because if TX legislators can make a legal and constitutional activity impossible in practical terms, there are no limits!

Do you think you are guaranteed free speech? What if some red states made it functionally illegal for any reporter to say anything bad about Republicans? They’ve already created their own version of events around the last election. Don’t forget “alternative facts.” Maybe they’ll decide to just outlaw elections! The GOP knows best after all.

They’ve opened their state to vigilante justice for everyone! Now YOU can be a bounty hunter, and YOU can be a bounty hunter!! Look out Dawg.

Since our Volunteer State has already passed a no-permit-open-carry law, I have a feeling TN will follow suit, along with all the other red southern states. Get ready to have neighbors telling on neighbors to make a quick 10 grand.

I was going to write about refrigerators.

I wanted to tell you that Bob and I decided our new home gift to the Rocker and Aunt Kiki would be a kitchen appliance. I was thinking of a dishwasher since they’ve never had one, when The Rocker said, “How about a refrigerator?!”

And right before we left for LA, we noticed during our harried house search, that some refrigerators were hard to find! One modern loft-type condo in Nashville had refrigerated drawers…you heard that right, drawers! You can even find a dishwasher disguised as a drawer.

Many things that are immediately identifiable as things in the majority of American kitchens — appliances recognizable from their size, shape and the general appearance they have had since roughly the 1940s — are, in the homes of the wealthy, increasingly being transmogrified into cabinets.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/31/style/hidden-fridges-status-kitchens.html

Transmogrify?! Meaning to change in appearance or form, in a mystical or strange way. Kind of like a frog turning into a prince. Still, I remember back in the 80’s my brother and his wife had a wooden paneled refrigerator in their Holly Springs kitchen. It was pretty hard to open it in fact. And that gorgeous house in Hawaii – it had a separate drawer for ice.

Hawaii currently has too much Covid, kind of like us in Tennessee. In California, you can walk into a weed shop and buy as much marijuana as you want. In Texas, poor young women will be forced to carry a pregnancy to its end. Yes, only the poor will suffer, because the wealthy will always find a way around. Roe is being eroded by extremists who deny elections and refuse to wear masks, by selfish-so-called God fearing Christians.

My country is transmogrifying into something I don’t recognize.

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