Archive for February, 2023

This morning, as usual, I opened the door to let Ms Bean out. This is usually a perfunctory task, like making a cup of coffee, done without much forethought. Like sleepwalking, since that first cup of coffee hasn’t touched my lips yet. The unusual part of this morning was the wind, warm and coming from the south. Bean paused on the porch, lifting her nose to the new day. She stood there for many minutes, surveying the neighborhood, smelling the wind. And I didn’t rush her as I might have in the past – go on girl, go do your business. No, I stood vigil with her, watching, listening, feeling the wind on my face.

With coffee cup in hand, I opened my laptop to this essay in the New York Times about finding joy in everyday things:

“Instead of thinking about what you find enchanting, which may feel too difficult to answer, Ms. May suggests asking yourself a different question: What soothes you? It might be going on a walk. Or visiting an art museum. Maybe you enjoy watching the shifting clouds.”


Katherine May, the author of Wintering, said that every morning she likes to go outside and smell the air, “like a dog.” Her new book, Enchantment, is on my bedside table. I looked twice at the title article on my screen, “How to Feel Alive Again,” and felt compelled to click on it. It seems like every day I wake up and go through my mental to do list, only to finish the day without accomplishing one single thing! But what if I’ve been stuck in this holding pattern for a reason. What if my checklist is all wrong?

For seven months now, my sole responsibility has been to walk again, without pain. Can I do bridges again, how about Pilates? I look at the step stool in our pantry with dread, and decide never to use it again, not even the first step. Look what happened to my sister Kay. My purpose in life has become never to fall again; not from a bunk bed step, or a slippery or wonky sidewalk. Avoiding pain at all costs is the fulcrum to days spent wanting in my mind to organize a closet or lock my self in the Snug and work on my book.

And at night I’m thankful to be still standing; I’m grateful for Bob since he finished insulating the attic so I don’t have to look at the pull-down attic stairs next to my desk. In trying to avoid falling, I’ve been ignoring what May calls “soothing” or enchanting everyday things. I’m sure this list would be different for all of us, but it’s about time in my healing process to just get on with it:

To listen to Mozart; to write in my Snug without interruption; to make asparagus soup; to walk Ms Bean; to visit the Frist Museum; to knit my grandson a sweater… to name just a few. Would organizing my new closet be enchanting? No, but it could be satisfying. The closet was finally finished when I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t pass through its door. Now I can see patterns and color, now I can edit (or should I use the overused “curate”) my style, such as it is. Eileen Fisher devotee, coastal nana stuck in a landlocked red state. Post Pandemic. We are post pandemic right?

The motto on my Thistle Farms coffee cup says “Love Heals.” In other words, it doesn’t or shouldn’t hurt like the Everly Brothers song. So as we bid hello to March winds, I’m determined to walk slowly and appreciate the small, ever-present grace of each new day. Like teaching the Love Bug how to make soup.

Read Full Post »

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, the Bride joined us for a quick Korean lunch of Bibimbap!

After trying out an Uzbekistan restaurant with our Germantown crew last week, we all decided to meet for dinner every month at a new and/or unusual place. Bob and I get to choose the next March culinary pit stop, so I asked my creative daughter for her thoughts – and I am paraphrasing here but – this famous Nashville chef, Deb Paquette, who owns Etch and Jasper’s to name a few famous restaurants has said that Korea House is her all-time favorite! And it’s right in our neighborhood.

I thought about Ada and her friends meeting at a NJ diner every Tuesday, and how I used to join them when I was in town. It was sad to see their numbers diminish over the years, but that sense of predictability and camaraderie appealed to me. Also not having to cook was a bonus. Is this another sign that I am aging; like watching Jeopardy? I think it’s more of a need to stay connected with our Italian cohorts since we moved a few miles away.

My foster parents used to go out to dinner, at the other diner in town and yes NJ has LOTS of diners, almost every Sunday. I would order the exact, same thing every time, veal parmigiana. That was before I learned about veal being a baby calf only six to eight months old and all. I must say that shopping and cooking for your family was not layered with climate or ethical considerations back in the day. I was supposed to clean my plate and that I did because they, the Greatest Generation, endured the Great Depression.

Which meant that nothing went to waste!

I remember giving up PIZZA for Lent, and I remember a priest rubbing ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday, and all the statues getting covered in purple cloth at Sacred Heart Church. I’d never been to a Mardi Gras festival until we started traveling, so the whole eat/until/you/burst idea never came up in my childhood… except for the cleaning your plate problem. And Nell never allowed booze in the house, so Shrove Tuesday, aka Fat or Pancake Tuesday, was news to me, but think about it. It almost feels like Yom Kippur.

The whole making your confession thing and asking for absolution – only instead of not eating anything for a day, Christians give up their favorite food until Easter arrives. And then watch out, it’s chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs galore! Fasting seems to be a big part of most religions, either for a month or a day; in retrospect, deprivation should lead us to enlightenment, or hallucinations at least. Fat Tuesday, yesterday, was the end of Mardi Gras season, and it makes sense that the custom of drinking and dancing and throwing beads around was just this new Christian faith adapting to pagan Roman rituals.

“After Christianity arrived in Rome, old traditions were incorporated into the new faith and debauchery became a prelude to the Lenten season. This fusion resulted in a hedonistic period of boozing, masquerading and dancing with a heavy dose of religion.”


On Fat Tuesday the world witnessed our President standing in Poland, after visiting a war zone, and talking about meeting the Pope. He was met with a large cheering crowd, wrapped in blue and yellow Ukraine flags while he spoke about freedom. In contrast, the Russian imperialist sat while giving his state of the Russian state speech to a small group of elites in a strangely blue ballroom. He touted lies with impunity and said the West started the war in Ukraine, and I find it hard to believe the Russian people accept this nonsense propaganda.

Following the breakup of the USSR, the numbers of Russians identifying as Orthodox Christians has surged every year. Russian Orthodoxy was the main religion in Ukraine, until the Ukraine Orthodox church recently split from Russia… after 300 years. Instead of fostering healing, peace and diplomacy, Christianity has taken sides.

Ukrainians are not only giving up their brave men and women, their livelihoods and their schools and homes to Russian bombs, during Lent they are expected to abstain from meat, meat by-products, poultry, eggs, and dairy products! I wonder how many soldiers, on both sides, will be getting ashes smeared across their foreheads today. The online Britannica tells us that “The ashes serve as a memento mori and are often accompanied with some variation of the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” … Ash Wednesday is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence, where only one full meal and no meat are to be consumed.”

We are all stardust, we are all peace seeking humans. But there are times to pick a side, to stand up to a bully. Silence and indifference must never win again.

This was yesterday on our favorite French island!

Read Full Post »

… along with more balloons.

And we were too, flying into Manhattan for a sisterly visit. The City was pretty in a late winter way. It seems there are less people walking about, maybe it’s because we were on the West side? The wind was crisp and bitingly cold, the sun peeked through now and then. I walked into a small market to buy black and white cookies for Kay, and a young woman looked straight at me – which is never done in NYC if you can help it – and said.

“Is that a Rachel Comey?” And so we struck up a small conversation.

“Yes,” I said referring to the designer of my colorful long puffy coat, “and I bought it at Target last year for $50!”

She proceeded to tell me exactly what Comey clothes she scored at Target. These short, pleasant conversations with strangers are some of the moments I’ve missed the past few years. I suppose wearing a mask makes small talk unlikely. Still, I’ve grown accustomed to random women shouting compliments at me, “I love your coat!” almost every time I wear it. It’s a hard coat to miss, its wild/pink/magenta/navy/persimmon abstract design shouts LOOK AT ME. And this young woman made my day.

She had no idea my sister fell off a footstool and broke her hip, or why I was standing in that market, or that Bob and I were In the middle of an emotional week visiting Morningside’s acute care rehab. For a split second, I almost felt “hip!”

We took most of the NY family out to dinner one night – Lynn, her daughter and a great cousin or is it nephew Kris and niece Annie, who is married to Bart, a Physical Medicine and Rehab Pain doctor. Bart is also French and he and Annie have been instrumental in cheering Kay on her road to recovery. It was a delicious night with the two doctors comparing notes, and finding out that Annie is pursuing her private pilot license! Bob won’t be the only pilot in the family.

Did you happen to see Rihanna floating above the Super Bowl Sunday night? A friend said she thought the halftime show was ageist because you had to be under 40 to appreciate it. I wasn’t that fond of all the white-clad dancers, they reminded me of the Groom’s spacesuit stint in Covid PPE. Riri’s red pleather outfit was an unusual way to announce her pregnancy, and I’ve got to give her credit, her performance was spectacular. Not sure I’d allow myself to be hoisted singing and dancing above the crowds while with child. Wait, I’m sure the answer would be no. Thanks.

Heck I wouldn’t go up in a hot air balloon when the Bride was a newborn!

I did go floating above the Shenandoah Valley with Bob in a hot air balloon after moving to VA. I figured the kids were grown and could take care of themselves. It was exhilarating watching the cows try to hide from our huge, noisy, menacing presence in the sky; until I realized we were at the mercy of the wind. The balloon pilot could take us up and down, but we had to be on the lookout for a big green field or meadow in order to land.

And I had to be OK with that, with not knowing. In a sense, this aging business puts us all at the mercy of the wind. I can only hope it will stay at Kay’s back, pushing her recovery forward, until we both land on our feet.

Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day if you celebrate!? This is the only pic I could find of the coat, please excuse the close-up.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me, for real.

They’re counting how many times I click on cute pictures of Welsh Corgis. Right now, Pinterest thinks I’m a wallpaper obsessed, coastal grandma who loves dogs, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The other day I was watching TV and some actor said “Alexa” and whaddyaknow – my phone’s little hologram lit up and started swirling, and we’ve never invited Alexa into our house!

We have invited three guys into our house today to do some air sealing. Since our new/old house’s HVAC unit can’t keep up with the extreme heat and cold, Bob is determined to find all the leaks and stop them in their tracks. We’re not so much worried about our gas range, which I love btw, as we are simply being comfortable inside when the weather outside is 8 below. Today is a perfectly sunny day to create a wind tunnel at our front door.

By tonight we should be comfy cozy, sipping hot chocolate while watching President Biden deliver his State of the Union Address.

And boy do we Tennesseans need some good news. Our very own Governor gave quite the speech at his State of the State Address:

“Brushing aside calls to tweak one of the strictest abortion bans in the United States, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday unveiled plans to funnel tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to anti-abortion centers as he declared the state had a “moral obligation” to support families. Lee, a Republican, said he wants to create a $100 million grant program for nonprofits commonly known as “crisis pregnancy centers.” If approved, Tennessee would become one of the top spending states on such organizations known for dissuading people from getting an abortion.”


And he also refused millions of federal dollars to help fund HIV education. Here we are, in the 21st Century with a leader who wants to whitewash history and force women to give birth. I honestly never thought I’d see this day. Maybe we are banning books, but at least Lee isn’t asking to monitor female athletes’ menstrual cycles. Not yet. No, he smiled and called TN “prosperous” and “unrivaled.”

We are most certainly unrivaled with: the most infant and maternal mortality rates: the least per pupil spending in public schools; and we’re number 3 in the country in the most violent crime category. Thinking of Memphis, I wonder if police shootings are counted?

Bob and his air quality crew have just disrupted my chain of thought. There is thermal imaging and caulking happening all over the house but especially in my Snug where the attic stairs pull down from the ceiling. And poor Ms Bean is walking aimlessly about trying to corral all these strange men.

I wonder what that Chinese surveillance balloon was spying on? Did it fly over TN? Did it catch the L’il Pumpkin rollerblading? Did it take a picture of Bob walking Bean? Did it see Bob using his metal detector to try and find the property markers? I wasn’t very worried about the balloon, it immediately went into the “things that cannot be changed” category in my brain. After all, doesn’t TikToc get all our information anyway? I’m assuming either Alexa or Siri are constantly monitoring our every sound, while some satellite is taking Google earth pictures of our homes. We like to delude ourselves into thinking privacy is our constitutional right.

And as much as we’d like to create an air-tight house, I’d much prefer to live in a state that values women and education no matter what the weather.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: