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Archive for January, 2022

Netflix has my number. They know that I like film noir, thrillers of the John Grisham type – not too much violence with a psychological twist. A good old-fashioned intellectual mystery like Murder on the Orient Express is my jam. And since reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there’s no place I like my intrigue better than a snowy Scandinavian country.

Enter The Girl From Oslo. I had finished with Succession, and had about all I could handle with Emily in Paris. We were between snow storms in Nashville, the pantry and fridge were full to bursting. The electrician was still working at the new/old house and Bob wasn’t feeling so good. I had the remote all to myself, when Netflix suggested https://www.netflix.com/title/81147725

It was easy enough to watch, short episodes filmed in Israel, Gaza and Norway. A young Norwegian girl is kidnapped by ISIS while traveling with a brother and sister from Israel. The acting was almost soap operaish, but the action kept me intrigued. So much pain and violence ‘in the name of God’ would normally not interest me, but I had to see how it ended. It is one of the top five streaming shows on Netflix worldwide.

Bob interrupted this reverie one night to tell me we had to pick a paint color! It was time to pick the off-white wall color for our remodeled kitchen with dark blue cabinets. Do we want lavender or yellow undertones? Who knew there are a million off white colors, not to mention the pale grays. The Bride had turned me onto Havenly, https://havenly.com/ for some help, a website trying to democratize design. Their algorithm said my style was somewhere between Boho and Transitional.

I was wondering why my style wasn’t Scandinavian, when I returned reluctantly to reality and let Ms Bean out in the garden.

She jumped off the porch and right onto a possum! They tussled for a bit, then the possum ambled slowly under the house. I thanked Ms Bean for keeping us safe at her elderly age and went to charge my phone before bed. That was when I read about the synagogue in Texas.

My fictional Netflix evening about Middle East terrorism turned into a real time terrorist news event. A Palestinian was holding four people captive after shabbat services, including a rabbi, and demanding the release of his ‘sister’ who was serving 86 years nearby for shooting at soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. The terrorist was an Arab British citizen who had entered the US legally and then bought a gun, legally.

Needless to say, I was no longer sleepy. I forgot to mention that Bob had been running a fever and felt like he’d been hit by a truck. His rapid at home test was negative for Covid, but the Bride wanted us to drive through a Metro testing site to get a more reliable PCR done. We still didn’t know the result. But ever since the holidays, Bob has been so careful and deliberate, wearing an N95 if we venture into a grocery store, that I thought if HE can get this Omicron variant, we might as well all give up and toss our masks and cares to the wind.

This morning I’m grateful that all the Jewish hostages survived. But since the L’il Pumpkin will be joining his sister in Hebrew School this year, my gratitude in tinged with concern. Why are we still fighting over ancient, Biblical conflicts? Why have anti-Semitic attacks in the US reached a historic high in 2021?

Mehnaz Afridi:
I think for anyone antisemitism should be an important topic and subject. If it’s going on in Pakistan it should be important to someone living in Kansas City. We are a connected global community.

https://www.ushmm.org/antisemitism/what-is-antisemitism/antisemitism-today

Bob’s PCR is negative, YIPPEE, so we may venture out to a paint store for some samples. Wish us luck on our choice of “colours.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtJRJVdUFx4

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I remember when Bob was in high school, he scored a summer job at our local munitions factory, ironically named Hercules Powder Company. The pay was ten times better than anything else around because it was considered “hazardous duty.” After all, make the wrong move and the whole place could blow up.

When we lived in the Berkshires, and the AIDs crisis hit, it occurred to me that he was also at risk when he went to work. If a nurse or tech could not find a vein in an HIV patient, they would fetch my husband. Needle sticks were a fairly common way healthcare workers contracted communicable diseases like hepatitis.

Today’s healthcare workers are at risk each and every day, but not from a Blood Born virus, from the Coronavirus. We all know how it’s transmitted. There are no mosquitoes or fleas or rodents involved, and sexual transmission was never an issue. No, this novel virus likes to just hang out in the air we breathe. And with this new Omicron variant, it’s absolutely everywhere.

I’m bringing this up in light of the latest stupid decision our right-leaning SCOTUS made yesterday – that the risk of contracting Covid is “not a work-related danger.” Therefore businesses (of 100 or more employees) do not have the right to require vaccinations for their employees… even though an individual could opt out by being masked and tested weekly. This decision affects 84 million workers.

“In the end, Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates stood or fell based on judicial interpretations of federal statute, not principles of individual liberty or appeals to the greater good. According to a majority of the Supreme Court, Mr Biden had the law on his side when ordering healthcare workers to get vaccinated, but using a 51-year-old workplace safety statute to implement a vaccine-or-test requirement on all large employers was a bridge too far.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59989476

So, the government can order vaccinations for government-funded healthcare workers, new armed forces recruits, and so far, for public schoolchildren, but not for private businesses. The reasoning?: “Although Covid-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most.”

I disagree… IT’S IN THE AIR PEOPLE. It’s unavoidable – where ever you are – if you are a living breathing sentient being.. That’s why most of us have been limiting our indoor activities to a select few people, and not dining indoors, and not going to concerts or bars. If we venture into a Walgreens, we mask up!

Now this may be a jump too far, but I’m worried about how this thinking will play out when SCOTUS rules on the “All or Nothing” Mississippi abortion fight in the spring. One could argue that getting pregnant is an occupational risk if one is female. And pregnancy can indeed be hazardous – it can give you gestational diabetes, it can produce high blood pressure, anemia, pre-term labor, preeclampsia, infection, and like the Bride, you may end up needing surgery because the baby is upside down!

And surgery for a breech birth is not easy, let me tell you.

So I’m wondering how the government thinks that interfering with a woman’s Constitutional right to choose what she does with her own body is OK? Do you think it’s fine for old/White/mostly/male mostly Christian legislators to pass laws forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term, despite her wishes and her doctor’s recommendations? Isn’t this flying too close to a dystopian Margaret Atwood novel?

Let’s not forget, you can always leave your newborn at a firehouse.

In the middle of a two year pandemic, that has outwitted us largely because of the GOP’s strategy of misinformation and lies, our highest court has decided to bend to the pressure of big business. There was a time, early on, when the Groom’s ICU was filled with chicken factory workers. There was also a time when it was filled with pregnant women, who lost their much wanted babies.

If your work includes leaving your home to mix and mingle with co-workers, I’d argue that it is hazardous; whether it means in an office or on a factory floor.

I’m glad Bob has retired and doesn’t have to suit up in PPE just to see patients in an ER. The Bride is seeing so many people for stomach problems, bleeding and any random injury you could think of, and most are testing positive for Covid… as an aside, as an incremental finding. One of our friends was scheduled for knee replacement surgery, and her pre-operative blood work came back positive for Covid. She had no symptoms, but she was twice vaccinated and boosted.

Living can be risky. So be careful out there.

Keeping Calm and Carrying On

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This week, Nashville finally succumbed to a real winter snowfall – over SIX inches! That’s like getting two feet of snow in the Berkshires, only there are not as many plows in the South. Also… maybe, there’s not enough salt in the South? So everything shut down for two days. Bob was walking around the house muttering, “I f-ing HATE the winter.” While I busied myself doing the usual – laundry, cooking comfort food, and painting.

I know, I know, I’m not the painter in the family. The Flapper, Aunt Kay and the Bride are the artistic ones. In high school, my daughter’s AP Art class was the highlight of her day. I’d never picked up a paintbrush because, why even try? Besides, I told myself I was painting a picture with words each time I sat down to write. But lately I’ve been feeling creative, and trying something new is good for your brain.

On the second snow day, we brushed the snow off our car, and found the main roads were mostly clear. There was simply NO traffic. According to Gmail, our new/old cottage had received a package, and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t buried in the snow… or abducted by a porch pirate! Luckily our electrician was at the house and had brought the crystal chandelier inside. Tim is a man born and raised here, he loves the snow, and his Jeep. We discussed the placement of new canh lights and then headed straight to the Bride’s house.

The Groom was working from home, and my daughter was practicing yoga and baking bread! Where were the children? The house was eerily quiet. Turns out the Love Bug was sledding with friends, then suddenly the Pumpkin jumped into the room. We sat down for a heart to heart.

Me: Which do you like better, Zoom school or real school?

Pumpkin: Real school, of course.

Me: Is there anything you like about Zoom school?

Pumpkin: I can mute myself!

Ah yes, I bet we would all like to mute ourselves, or someone else from time to time. I’d like to mute my inner critic, the one who wants to know why I think I should be painting when the world is falling apart. The Ukraine is a powder keg, a cliff falls on tourists in boats in Brazil, and the Omicron variant has teamed up with Delta to create the DELTACRON in Cyprus. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/08/cyprus-reportedly-discovers-a-covid-variant-that-combines-omicron-and-delta.html

Today a petulant, unvaccinated tennis star is allowed to enter Australia.

Australia – the land where anyone who comes of age can vote; they don’t even have to register.… and if they choose NOT to vote, they must pay a fine.

But hey, the TN Titans are in the playoffs, and luckily the Grands’ school has resumed indoors for now. We should have sheetrock going up today, and thanks to a rainy weekend, the snow has disappeared. Anyone else counting their blessings today?

The Bride in the Berkshires

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When I bought a chunk of land in Virginia, before Bob even got a chance to see it, friends thought I was crazy. But we’d been looking for a house for over a year and had finally decided to build our own Big/Little Home; so I trudged through a small forest at the edge of Albemarle County to see the Blue Ridge Mountains appear magically through the trees. I knew this was it. This was the place my dreams would come true.

When I brought Great Grandma Ada to see the 14 acres of wilderness her daughter-in-law had talked her son into buying, she kept looking down. She was picking up rocks and pointing out the flora. I had to coax her to look up and out at the mountains. She never really understood why we left NJ, and frankly I’m not sure either.

But with the grace of time, I realize now she was focused on the ground because she just didn’t want to fall. I look down a lot these days too.

Bob and I spent New Year’s Eve on the couch watching “Don’t Look Up!” on Netflix. I had no idea what it was about, and at first was pissed that Meryl Streep was smoking cigarettes as POTUS. I know she’s one of kind, but really? Slowly its true meaning became clear… the world is about to end, from (name your catastrophic event, a virus maybe, or climate change, or a meteor) and nobody cares. Politicians care about their polls, and the rest of us? We just ignore the inevitable and watch stupid animal videos. It’s an accurate allegory for our distracted, divided times.

“Two astronomers go on a media tour to warn humankind of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth. The response from a distracted world: Meh.”

https://www.netflix.com/title/81252357

Now for the backstory. We’d just finished watching the Grands while the Bride and Groom went into battle every day at their hospitals in full PPE gear. Covid was back with a vengeance thanks to a surge of Omicron variant. Every night I watched as my daughter returned home, not to hugs and kisses, not before she showered and washed her hair. I could feel her pain, her exhaustion. I never saw the Groom, he was gone from 6 am to 9 at night, and then taking calls through the wee hours.

And I’d just finished reading Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny’s new book, “State of Terror.” It was their first collaboration and I hope it won’t be their last. Let’s just say the ex-president in State of Terror bears a striking resemblance to a certain twice-impeached Palm Beach resident. And yes, this book is fictional, but the geo-political thriller is a little too close for comfort. When I closed the final chapter, I couldn’t close my eyes.

We threw open our garden door on New Year’s Eve to hear country music float up from the Bicentennial Mall where the Nashville note would drop. People were standing shoulder to shoulder, unmasked, as if they were living in an alternate universe. Bars were open. A friend texted me – her hairdresser is moving to TN from NY, why? Because she wants to get away from Covid restrictions.

Needless to say, this was NOT an auspicious start to 2022. Comedians do riffs on toilet paper cozies and nobody seems to mind. Children have gone back to remote learning, leaving me to wonder how our mental health system will cope with these future teenagers. I’m thinking about strapping a sign board on myself with these words, “THE END IS NEAR” and walking down Broadway. Really.

Whatever you do, DO look up!

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