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Archive for the ‘Books, Journaling, Wedding, Country’ Category

Last week I screwed up my courage and went to the doctor. As usual, it took months of misery and complaining to get me there because I’m surrounded by doctors and don’t want to trouble anyone with my minor problem which will most likely get better with time. You heard that, right? I have a major martyr complex.

Instead of dealing with my problems, and because i thought for now the threat of WWIII might be over, I focused my time on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – aka Harry and Meghan. https://sussexroyal.com/

So much stuff and nonsense. I’ve always been an Anglophile, like most Americans who love the British Royal Family precisely because we don’t have them – I’ve been eagerly anticipating the CNN special about the Windsors.

…binging on the Crown for awhile now too. Why? Maybe it’s the Queen Mother’s tiny purse, the assortment of Welsh Corgis, or the non-stop intrigue. Yes, they have castles and scads of money, but the Royals are also imprisoned in centuries of pomp and history.

I get that we can’t escape our destiny, even if we do live in a country without peerages and aristocracy. Princess Dianna wasn’t the first to chuck it all, let’s not forget King Edward VIII, Harry’s Great Grand Uncle, and Wallis Simpson – another poor, divorced American girl.

At first, I thought Meghan’s problems with life in the UK might have been what was keeping me up at night. Then I realized it was really my chronic neck pain; added to that was a severe pain in the ball of my foot if I walked Bean more than a block. Mind you, not sleeping and not being able to walk was all it took to get me to an adorable sports medicine doctor.

Yesterday I started Physical Therapy, because Bob has finished his round of PT and this must be what our future looks like! So while the Queen held a summit with her son Prince Charles, the heir apparent (let’s not forget Prince Andrew has already been banished from royal duties) and her grandsons, I was learning how to walk properly!

Queen Elizabeth II ultimately supported the young couple, Meghan and Harry, even though they jumped the gun with their press announcement:

“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

“It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

“These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”

So said HRH the Queen! https://www.npr.org/2020/01/13/795955373/after-summit-queen-says-royals-respect-and-understand-harry-and-meghan-s-decisio

In other words, let’s not drag this out, let’s not wait months and months before you call a doctor, or/I /mean figure out a way to make part-time Royalty work. Meghan phoned her thoughts in while staying with friends in Canada. Baby Archie and the Duke and Duchess had just spent a long holiday break in Victoria, British Columbia, without one single paparazzi spotting them; they must have felt the kind of freedom we commoners take for granted.

I believe they will carve out a new path for the next generation. Good on them and Godspeed! 962FFB38-8C7E-4018-B1D6-CE090BF7DED0

 

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It’s one thing to write about your life, and another to dig deeper into the details of one’s life. Bob told me he learned something from my last blog post, which is an important thing to do in any relationship – keep surprising people! The Flapper always said you should “…leave them wanting more,” a theatrical reference about curtain calls I think. But it’s also a pretty good life mantra; end your career at the top for instance, don’t descend into dementia on the job. Anyway, in case you are interested…

1. I’m a real Fan Girl. I’ve met two of my folk/rock/pop idols and tried hard not to gush, but the fine art of small talk just drifts away in the presence of greatness. Last year it was EmmyLou, but when we used to drive out to the Vineyard every spring with the little Love Bug I met Carly Simon in a clothing store. I probably turned red as a beet!

2.  I was once a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Back in the Berkshires, I convinced a friend to take the 6 month course with me. We pushed on a life-sized doll’s chest to try and get her heart beating again, “Annie, Annie are you OK?” Right after we graduated, the city of Pittsfield hired professional firefighters, so our days of volunteer work were done.

3.  Serious Crafting used to be my jam. Like Little Women everywhere, I was told that idle hands are the devil’s playground; thanks Music Man. It all started with quilting, I made aprons and pillows, blankets took way too long. Then I started knitting, mostly kids’ stuff and scarves, though I did once knit a sweater that got me stopped at Heathrow Airport. Today, I dabble with stringing pearls into eternity necklaces.

4.  I try to hide it, but this writer is a Porcelain Snob. It started way before Downton Abbey; maybe it’s the reference to homemaking, for a kid who never settled into anyone’s home. I recently had a dream where I had to explain that I wasn’t IN the foster care system, I just had foster parents. No big deal. But like a true Jersey girl, I never pay full price for my dishes. Great Grandma Ada and I traveled to Trenton to pick out my set of Lenox at the warehouse… this was when it was made in the good ‘ole USA!

5.  While my blog is named Mountain Mornings, I am definitely NOT a Morning Person. I mean I do like to start writing in the mid-morning, but coffee is de rigueur. I could stay up all night reading a good book, btw currently reading Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations, a Natural History of Love and Loss.” It’s a terrific antidote to the times, lulling me to sleep with short snippets of her childhood in rural Alabama juxtaposed with her current life in the city of Nashville. I cannot recommend this beautiful book of essays enough.

6.  I have (or maybe had is the better tense) an uncanny ability to Predict Trends. My fails are: I finally started painting my nails, and it still feels funny; and dyeing my eyebrows which is really funny! My wins are: I knew gaucho pants were looming on the horizon, and smartly avoided purchasing them.  I saw the snap bracelet coming from far away, same thing with oxfords for grown women. I was wearing this comfortable shoe long before Taylor Swift. It troubles me to report that I just bought my first pair of orthotics, per a sports medicine doctor who said I have a healing stress fracture in my foot. Thank you old age.

7.  Last but not least, I now have a Love/Hate Relationship With the Beach! My kids grew up on the Jersey Shore, and before that we’d travel to the Vineyard all the time. Later on, our paradise in the French West Indies was a continual winter retreat. I loved going to bed with sand in the sheets. But now, all that sunshine has crept up on me. Over the years, a dermatologist has been scrapping dubious patches of skin off my arms, hands, and nose. Looking “tan” has lost its cache, relegated to the ash heaps of time and cigarettes. Not that tanning was even possible for me. This explains my hat fetish! Still, my diagnosis of guttate psoriasis means I need some sun every day! What to do?

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Yesterday, a crocus pushed its shiny, new green leaves up in our garden. I remember always being surprised to see the little flower in the midst of snow and ice in the Berkshire Mountains. It is the harbinger of spring, just as sure as a robin jumping around in the grass. But this time, it’s too early; the first week of a new year should find us deep into winter with hats and scarves and gloves. Instead, today it will be 60 degrees.

“In addition to Crocus’ merit as a beautiful and cheerful winter bloomer, one species, C. sativus, is the source of the spice saffron. Henry Beston describes C. sativus in Herbs and the Earth (1935, D.R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.): “An autumn Crocus with a long history as a drug, a flavoring powder, and a pigment, only the golden stigma of the flower being used… May not overwinter.”  True enough, although many Crocus are perennial in Tennessee, as a USDA Hardiness Zone 8 plant C. sativus may not overwinter for many Tennesseans. If that doesn’t deter you from growing your own saffron, Steven Still writes that “about 7000 flowers are required to produce 3 ounces of saffron.”  https://ag.tennessee.edu/news/Pages/POM-2016-02.aspx

I had no idea the costliest spice in the world comes from a crocus!

Makes me want to dig up my old, Julia Child paella recipe. I was thinking about my younger, newly married self in the car the other day; living in Cambridge, MA and spotting Julia herself at the small green grocers’.  NPR was interviewing a chef about his “…worst kitchen disasters.” Of course, it was slicing off the tip of a finger with a mandolin his first time on live TV!

I’ve managed to avoid the dreaded mandolin injury – I use mine to slice whisper thin vegetables into my veggie lasagna. But one of my very first attempts at the fine art of cuisine in Cambridge does come to mind. I almost torched my kitchen when I tried making Julia’s recipe for Coq au Vin! Since then, I’ve left anything flambeed to the experts. Even resisting the urge to buy a tiny blowtorch to crinkle-brown creme brulee – my favorite dessert!

I wish my keyboard did l’accent aigu“Getting your (French) accents right is the difference between being a pêcheur (fisherman) and a pécheur (sinner). Which one would you rather have on your résumé?”

Parsley and rosemary are still growing in the garden, even some of Bob’s winter kale seems hardy and ready to be harvested. The Bride and her family are returning soon from Hawaii and I’d like to cook them something for their first night back. Maybe I’ll buy some red wine and make a big pot of Boeuf Bourguignon! Like every good semi-Southern cook I’ve got some bacon in the fridge and I know the L’il Pumpkin loves this dish.

Although, after hearing about their first Kalua Pig in a Pit, where the Love Bug definitely did not like the idea of unearthing the body of a full-on, dead, roasted pig, I may have to get creative with vegetables and her old stand-by, pasta. Maybe we’ll roast some marshmallows on the fire pit, and pretend it’s still winter! Here they are on a lava rock.

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We are busy cleaning up after our New Year’s Day shin-dig. Friends and neighbors brought side dishes – my favorite part of every meal – and I made the usual black-eyed peas, lobster mac and cheese, and a couple of roasted turkey breasts. It was a tight squeeze in our little city farmhouse, but Bob fired up the fire pit so some of us could flow out into the garden.  Totally recovered, Ms Bean was happy to stare at anyone with a Swedish meatball on their plate.

The night before we considered attending the New Year’s Eve concert at our Bicentennial Mall, only a few blocks away, but I guess we’ve become spoiled Nashvillians. As much as I love Jason Isbell, Keith Urban and Stevie Nicks –  https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/keith-urban-stevie-nicks-new-years-eve-932562/ – the chilling 50 degree weather kept us at home all snug in our bed.

We’d visited Great Grandma Ada and Hudson earlier in the day, and Bob paid a “house call” to one of their friends with a “medical question.” It seems he’s hardly retired, still doing remote medicine for family, with a small contingent of nonagenarians on call in the local mix. I kid my husband whenever we venture out, does he have his stethoscope with him?

Turns out Ms Berdelle, who is 92, DID walk down to the festivities on New Year’s Eve so shame on us!

I tried sending care packages of food home with people last night; for a Pot Luck we only had one duplicate, Hoppin John of course. We are all now doubly lucky in 2020!

I read that today is National Return Day. Every gift you never wanted, or maybe Aunt Anna sent you something you already have, will be returned today! Whenever I see a duplicate of anything, I remember our little Bride receiving the same exact My Little Pony for her birthday one year. She jumped up and down yelling, “She has a twin!” How could I deny her a twin pony?

Maybe that’s why I’m not a returner. About 10% of purchases in brick and mortar stores are returned after the holidays, but 20% of online gifts are returned. Obviously, it’s easier to send something back via your mailbox than it is to get in the car and try to park around this time of year. But I’m more of a re-gifter. OK, now you know. It’s a lot easier to shove something in a closet and wait…

Here’s to a very happy and healthy 2020 to all of you! I’m wishing my children and anyone on the road this weekend safe travels home. And if you’re taking a child back to college after winter break, consider picking up an absentee ballot at your city hall before you go!

I’m not a resolution type either, which makes me wonder what the heck am I?

Let’s see, I’m trying out a new elliptical at the Y, it makes you feel like you’re cross-country skiing and it’s good for my knees. I’m learning to say, “No” more often (see the last blog post). And I’m singing more torch songs. And if you clicked on the Rolling Stone link above, you’ll hear “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” In this #MeToo age, those Tom Petty 1981 lyrics from the New Year’s Eve Urban/Nicks duo don’t translate very well. But we could all try not to “…buckle with the weight of the world” in 2020.

“You need someone looking after you
I know you really want to tell me goodbye
I know you really want to be your own girl
Baby you could never look me in the eye
Yeah you buckle with the weight of the world
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my heart around”

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This morning, I awoke to a Tweet from Greta Thurnberg, the teenage Climate Activist from Sweden. This was her answer to #2019inFiveWords:

“Our house is on fire.”

You’ve got to admit, this young lady is consistent. She didn’t say the “Climate” is on fire, or the “Planet,” she said, “OUR HOUSE!” If I found my actual house was on fire, I’d pick up that little red fire extinguisher we keep in the kitchen and have at it. I’d dial 911. I’d clear all the people and pets out, maybe I’d take some family pictures. But come to think of it, most have been digitized, so I’d pick up my laptop. If I had the time that is…

Greta is trying to tell us this is personal. We shouldn’t get distracted with Impeachment Hearings when a true existensial crisis is looming. HA, I looked up how to spell the word cause I’d obviously misspelled it, and it just so happens that “EXISTENTIAL” is the 2019 “Word of the Year” at Dictionary.com:

adjective

of or relating to existence:Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?

 

I believe it does pose a threat; it keeps great minds awake at night. It creates actual floods since our seas are rising, polar ice is melting, and human floods of refugees seeking peace and a sustainable livelihood. Fires are killing koalas in Australia and decimating forest canopies in the Amazon. Our literal house, our whole world is suffering, and we have a President who mocks science, scoffs at facts, and jokes about windmills.

Our country has become a joke on the world stage.

And speaking of the world, our children have flown off to tropical locales for the New Year. And I know about the carbon imprint of air travel, but honestly, how else can we get anywhere? Sailing across the ocean like Greta would have used up literally ALL of their vacation time. So we must fight for the Climate while also doing what we can to take care of ourselves; putting the oxygen mask on the adults first so to speak. Which leads me to my five words:

Family almost always comes first. 

I’ve added a quantifier to my usual motto about family, “almost.” Women are more likely to be the caregivers in a family, to be the 3 am on-duty nurse, the round-the-clock scheduler, the chauffeur and chief cook. Yes, some things have changed since we raised our girls without limits and with great expectations. But some things have remained the same.

This past year I’ve learned to say “No” more often. I’ve figured out that self-care isn’t a sin, it’s a necessity. Our generation isn’t just in the middle of a sandwich – anthropologists like to call us “The Sandwich Generation” – I’ve felt like I’m in a “Club Sandwich.” Pile on the meat and cheese please, we are drowning in obligatory exercises of futility. And of course, this time of year doesn’t help.

What does help is JOMO (Joy of Missing Out), which is the opposite of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out):

Kristen Fuller said “JOMO” is essentially the “emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO” and it is “about being present and being content with where you are at in life.” Some people are born with it, others learn to embrace it.” https://www.insider.com/what-is-jomo-2018-7

So my #2019inFiveWords is not just about setting boundaries and caring for myself, something btw the nuns wouldn’t approve of, but it’s also about saying I’m Enough! For a number 9 Enneagram that’s a tough road to walk. Right here, right now I can be happy! I was strolling with Bob and Ms Bean yesterday, who has fully recovered from her near fatal illness, listening to the birds and feeling the warm winter sun on my face, when Bob said, “Where should we go in 2020?”

And I may have been a teensy bit short with him. Virginia Woolf once said, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” But maybe in 2020, we’ll not only impeach, but convict and remove Mr T from office. Maybe we’ll stop chasing windmills and avoiding Climate Change. And I just may continue to embrace this ever-changing town I’m calling home. Even if it doesn’t have a Chinese restaurant open on Christmas day.

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Zoroastrianism. Did you know that this Persian religion was founded around 3,500 years ago and was the very first to worship just ONE god? This happened before Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed in the Bronze Age of Iran. Before Moses led Jewish slaves out of Egypt even. And when the big Z’s followers were nearly wiped out, Islam took over.

This Christmas Eve has me feeling sad. My dog Ms Bean is sick for one thing, really sick. We saw the Vet yesterday who was dressed in her best Santa sweater. She was kind and told me she’d actually had a dream about Bean last weekend. She said she rarely dreams about work, but that Bean was happy and healthy and sitting in her lap. In the dream.

“I see so many dogs, and here she is today,” she said smiling, holding Ms Bean in her arms while listening to her heart. I may not believe in heaven and hell, but I like to think that all dogs go to a beautiful, sunny, dog park when they die; that tennis balls abound and frisbees fly through stars.

My path to non-belief, or maybe “spiritual secularism” is a better term, has been tortuous. From being totally indoctrinated into Roman Catholicism as a child, to converting to Judaism at age 30, just before marrying Bob, I’d had plenty of dreams about the Pope and conversations with myself about the value of organized religion.

First of all, I didn’t want our future children to have to “pick and choose” their religion because we didn’t have the ability to commit.My life had been crazy enough with melded families after our Year of Living Dangerously. But my real decision to convert came right after listening to a rabbi speak about the Jonestown Massacre.

This mass murder/suicide event took place in 1978, the year before we married and the Bride was born. We were sitting in a Temple listening to a rabbi talk about how Judaism differs from other religions….mainly there is NO ONE MAN at the center of it!

Over 900 people killed themselves or were poisoned because of Jim Jones, an American cult leader who led his followers to Guyana. https://www.history.com/topics/crime/jonestown

Think about that for second:

  • Nobody to tell you to drink the Kool-Aid;
  • Nobody to die for your sins and promise eternal life;
  • No man in a saffron rob saying his dharma is the one true dharma;
  • No guy who told millions to kill infidels, so flying planes into buildings was fine.

Nope, for Jews celebrating Chanukah this week, a very minor holiday on the calendar, God is represented in many, amorphous ways – God was never a man. And the study of Torah only leads to lots of questions. Something I was taught in Catholic school we should never do, we didn’t question our nuns or priests. We were told to have “Blind Faith!” I was taught to memorize Catechism, which pretty much made me hate school.

Yes, Nancy, Pelosi I know “hate” is a powerful word… maybe we need a more powerful word for how we Progressives feel about Mr T.

He is a shining example of a cult leader, many of his evangelical faithful refer to him in the glowing language of a savior.

“The power of the evangelicals as a voting bloc is in their sheer size, and in their symbiotic relationship with the president.“Because they are a third of the Republican base, Trump needs white evangelical Protestants to get elected,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute. “And because white evangelicals see themselves as a shrinking minority, in both racial and religious terms, they need Trump.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/us/politics/christianity-today-trump-evangelicals.html?searchResultPosition=2

He may mock women and the handicapped, pay off prostitutes and lie with equanimity, he may bend the constitution to fit his needs, but by God he’s still appointing conservative judges to life-long appellate benches.

This is the happiest season for some, but for me it’s a mixed blessing. “Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign announced on Friday evening that he would go to Miami on Jan. 3 to start an “Evangelicals for Trump’’ coalition.”

Thank you to my daughter who is following in her Daddy’s footsteps and taking care of the poor and injured today and tomorrow. Thanks to all the Christian and non-Christian first responders and medical personnel working this week. And a very special thanks to my Veterinarian.

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This morning while scrolling through Twitter, I saw that a new Ms America was crowned last night. While I was group texting with the kiddos about the Democratic Debate out in LA, a Virginia Tech Hokie walked away with the crystal tiara in Connecticut. And get this, Camille Schrier is a biochemist who didn’t have to strut in a swimsuit competition; she did, however, demonstrate a cool science experiment as her talent!

The new Miss America told the crowd during introductions that she plans to get a doctor of pharmacy degree at VCU, in Richmond, Virginia. She has undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and systems biology from Virginia Tech.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/19/entertainment/miss-america-2020-trnd/index.html

But let’s return to the debate. The best take-away from Twitter is that Amy Klobuchar is the Goldilocks candidate: “…she’s not too young, not too old; not too hot not too cold; not too left, not too right.” She was the only candidate in the room with Chuck Schumer and Nancy and Mitch, trying to iron out the rules for an Impeachment trial in the Senate.

Amy brought her Minnesotan Nice self into the dust-up between Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth warren when they were discussing “wine caves” and “purity tests” and who has more money than whom –

I did not come here to listen to this argument,” she declared. “I came here to make a case for progress.” Of course, she added, she herself had never been to a wine cave — although she had visited “the wind cave in South Dakota.”

 

It’s time to take a breath, pour some egg nog and take the Grands to see the Nutcracker!

What could be better than Tchaikovsky and magical Christmas dreams? I remember actually using a steel nutcracker to crack open walnuts around the holidays, I even remember sticking cloves in oranges; today we light candles for scent and buy our nuts pre-cracked, in bags all ready for baking. But according to a German folktale, nutcrackers symbolize strength and power, with an ability to guard the family against danger – like Russian dancers, or an army of mice.

Kind of like a Ring doorbell for that matter!

Old traditions are changing with the times. Beauty pageants are no longer all about perfect measurements and teeth. Science can be sexy. Women and gay dudes can run for president and maybe even win in the new year. And dancers of all colors can twirl on their toes under the spell of Herr Drosselmeier.

But the big news that’s not getting much coverage is that Billy Graham’s publication, “Christianity Today,” is calling for Mr T to not just be impeached, but removed from office. The editors called his attempts to shakedown a foreign leader for his own personal gain “…profoundly immoral.” I wonder if his legions of devoted followers will listen, or even care?

“He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”  https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-12-20/trump-outrage-tweet-christianity-today-impeachment

If Mr T is removed from office, Mike Pence would be President; no moral confusion there. Enter the guy who can’t be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife

So Happy Holidays Everyone, whatever holiday you’re celebrating!

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