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

Waiting is a big part of “adulting.” One of my parenting mantras was, “Want? Work. Wait!” Teaching our children to wait, and not decompensate over an ice cream cone, is serious business. Eventually we must all wait for a plane, wait in line for a coffee, wait for a paycheck before paying the mortgage. Like Penelope, weaving by day and unraveling by night, we women are experts at this waiting game.

When I was little, I’d wait by the door for my father’s return from work. In one of his pockets he had hidden a small trinket. I can’t remember what they were exactly, only that they could fit in the palm of his hand. Maybe it was a colorful rock, or seashell? Perhaps it was a barrette? It didn’t matter really, because my memories of him are his many small acts of loving kindness.

We would collect popsicle sticks until one summer day he built me a dollhouse.

We would roll up coins from my piggy bank and deposit them in my savings account.

We would always stop for an ice cream sundae at Zanelli’s after Mass on Sunday.

Until one day years later, I walked into Daddy Jim’s hospital room and he didn’t remember me. My visits with him at the end of his life, coincided with finding Bob again, in that same hospital. Great Grandma Ada stopped me by the elevator and said, “Come with me, you’ll never guess…”

Last night I was visiting with the Bride in her ER. I’d accompanied a friend and neighbor to the hospital and we were given the royal treatment. She had an EKG done while I was parking the car! Then, while I was waiting for her tests and scans to be read, I simultaneously read a post about “Waiting” from my dear friend Bess. She too had been waiting in a hospital:

As for me, I watch and wait, and try to be who he needs right now. We are all headed down this road. John is just a few steps ahead of me. Acceptance of the new limitations of our bodies, re-evaluation, re-prioritizing, using everything we’ve learned over a lifetime to figure out how to navigate in a new reality where the only certainty is uncertainty.

My heart goes out to Bess and her husband. May this next procedure work its magic. And my heart is breaking for all those federal employees who are working now without pay. To all those furloughed and waiting at home to get back to work. To our fellow citizens who must choose between a trip to the grocery store or an electric bill.

It’s hard to accept our new reality, with a toddler-in-chief at the helm. The uncertainty of this time in our lives can seem overwhelming. The L’il Pumpkin must wait for a new helmet before he can ride his scooter. The Bride had to wait and see if the Love Bug’s new passport would be renewed. And I am waiting for Bob’s safe return from NJ.

I will not look at ridiculous pictures of McDonald’s sauce in silver gravy boats at the White House; it’s not funny at all to me. Instead, I will drive my neighbor to T’ai Chi, because it’s Tuesday. And leave you with a thought, some of us are better at waiting – insert crying/laughing emoji.

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When I was a student at Sacred Heart School, I would sit with my hands folded on my desk per the nun’s orders, and stare out the window at the Cadillac dealership across the street. In between daydreams and catechism, I’d count the bricks on the wall of that monstrous building. The bricks were that siena color, formidable and cold. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, to rush outside and stand there on the sidewalk across from that brick wall, waiting for my school bus. For freedom.

Call it a fence, a barrier or a wall, call it whatever you like, our government has ground to a partial halt because of it.

When our children were young, my good friend’s husband returned from Germany with a piece of the Berlin Wall. His name was Gunther and he’d been born in Germany. To hear him tell it, there was a party in the street and pieces, chunks of crumbling cement were strewn all over the place. It represented so much more than an end to the Cold War.

The Wall was a metaphor for Rockwell’s four freedoms – “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.”

Taken from one of FDR’s speeches to gain public approval for our entry into WWII, Rockwell’s paintings were purely propaganda; they raised $133 Million dollars in war bonds. As I try to understand the Trumpeteers among us, the Freedom from Fear image resonates with today’s imagined crisis at our Southern border with Mexico. A white father stands in the foreground as his wife tucks their children into bed.

Fear is a totalitarian government’s bread and butter.

When Mr T tells his followers that rapists and gang members are setting up caravans to invade our country, they believe him. Today’s illustrator might paint the image of a white father in that same child’s bedroom, within a walled-off, gated community holding a rifle. After all, in the art of Mr T’s deal, it pays to keep his customers afraid.

Barriers, man-made and natural, can keep people in or out, depending on your perspective. Nomads and cowboys and cowgirls hate fences, farmers love ’em. I was surprised in Key West to see a small chicken coop behind a house in the historic district, after all, hundreds of colorful roosters and hens roam free in the Conch Republic.  Then Bob pointed out that not only was the chicken coop door wide open, so was the wall surrounding the yard.

I wondered aloud what keeps those chickens hanging around; and I wonder why all the other chickens haven’t invaded their coop?

We returned to a freezing Nashville this week where Winter Break is over and children have been heading back to school. Our grandchildren loved returning to school, where they needn’t sit still with hands clasped counting bricks. I can only hope that all those 8th Grade trips around this already great country to our nation’s Capital are NOT cancelled.

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Greetings from Florida! The state that brought you hanging chads, ballot box shenanigans, dirty trick gerrymandering, and Marc Rubio.

Last night we watched a crazy “Catman” in Mallory Square put his new kitties through their act. Getting a cat to do anything would be miraculous in my book. But here in Key West, where a gorgeous drag queen rides a red platform heel down a building to start out the New Year, anything is possible.

One year the Big Chill was here, in the Historic District celebrating Thanksgiving, when a nudist walked in off the street and jumped in our pool!

But this year we are trying to avoid conflict. Bob and I are scouting out the Keys to see if we might want to “winter over” in a state that could be under water in our children’s lifetime. We basically have three choices:

The fancy West Coast, including Naples and Sarasota; the wild Southernmost Keys; or…

The Panhandle – that area close to Georgia and Alabama and easy to drive to from TN. Places like Destin and Rosemary Beach. And another town you’ve probably never heard of, Marianna, FL.

Marianna is a heavily conservative Panhandle town with a federal prison that was already severely damaged by Hurricane Michael last October. Its prisoners were moved to another facility hundreds of miles away.

So now, the prison guards, who probably voted for Mr T, will not only continue to commute for their twelve hour two weeks at a time shifts… they won’t be getting a paycheck.

While I was worrying this morning if the government shutdown might have a TSA effect on our ability to fly home, Mr T’s temper tantrum of an imaginary “Federal Crisis” is starting to have an impact on his base.

My sympathies to every government worker, farmer and everyone else peripherally harmed by this partial/pretend/pathetic president. Go ahead and give him some air time tonight. But how about a split screen for a real time fact check?

Today will be hot and sunny but it’s been cold in Key West, low 70s. Not that I’m complaining, or calling it a climate crisis, as I break out my fleece vest. Maybe another rum punch with lunch today?

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I’m reading an essay in the current New Yorker aboard a plane. It’s about the latest “It” girl novelist who happens to be from County Mayo, Ireland.

Sally Rooney’s sophomore book, which will not be in the US until April, has already been short listed for the Mann Booker Prize, and it seems she can communicate in our digital language like only a twenty-something could…

The marketing tag line for her debut novel, “Conversations with Friends” was “Salinger for the Snapchat generation!”

Anyway, there I was sitting in my cramped seat and feeling offended. In an excerpt from Conversations, a teenager is at a party of thirty somethings that is “full of music and people wearing long necklaces.”

Looking down at my three, long pearl necklaces I felt immediately dated and dowdy. Even though I had strung all those tiny beads myself, and I wouldn’t mind being thirty again, I began to wonder if maybe I needed a new hobby?

“Look Look,” Ada said yesterday pointing at CNN, ” she’s not wearing a necklace!”

Ada had taught me how to string beads awhile ago, so naturally she noticed that Nancy Pelosi, surrounded by her grandchildren while being sworn in as Speaker, was NOT wearing her signature short baroque pearl necklace.

What’s up with that?

I made a note to ask Aunt KiKi what she thinks. Is jewelry so last year?

Congratulations to the new Madame Speaker! With Tony Bennett in the House, I felt like singing “I left my heart in Nashville,” or um San Francisco? What a propitious start to the new year!

A woman’s place is in the House, and the Senate, and the SCOTUS, and the Oval and…

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I’ve got black eyed peas soaking on the kitchen counter for luck. Yesterday, Bob and I ran away to a lake with our BFF Big Chill friend Al for a hike in the woods, and then delivered a little brioche cake to Grandma Ada and Hudson. We cheered on the losing Titans next door last night, and have been listening to the “sound check” for Nashville’s famous New Year’s Eve celebration all day, which will be right down the block!

And all that was after cowgirl boot shopping with my cousin/friend Anita, and finishing up at Blake Shelton’s Ole Red honky tonk for drinks. The end of 2018 has proven to be wild and wonderful, not counting our deranged Cheeto-in-Chief, and today it’s downright balmy out there, at 68 degrees!

Now y’all know I hate making resolutions, but I thought I’d share my one piece of exciting news – our gym (YMCA) is starting a Pickleball league in the new year! So here goes nothin. Wednesday morning, this old basketball, ex-tennis, racquetball, and recovering-paddle ball player is willing to give it a try – I will show up and hopefully not injure anything.

Better to look back while we can, as we slide into 2019 all bubbly and rain-soaked, and think about the top three personal accomplishments of the past year. Here are mine in no particular order:

  1.  Getting Great Grandma Ada and Hudson moved and settled successfully into town.
  2. Discovering our beautiful new niece Tamara and her family.
  3. Traveling to Italy with our oldest and dearest friends for our 70th birthdays.

2018 just may be a hard act to follow. But Bob and I got back into the gym this morning and we watched all the new members signing up with such hopefulness. I’m hopeful too: Pickleball I’ve got your number and we will be friends; hopeful that we can move this country back from the edge; hopeful that love and decency will win.

Come on 2019, Bring. It. What were your accomplishments?

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I’m listening to Terry Gross’ interview with Bo Burnham, who wrote and directed “Eighth Grade,” his first feature film. He’s talking about social anxiety and social media and the confluence of our hyper-connectivity and how it’s different growing up today.

Burnham was an early YouTube star, in high school, performing his own satirical songs in his bedroom. The songs went viral, he went to MTV, and the rest is history.

‘The digital gap used to be between those people who grew up before computers and smartphones and those who were digital natives. Now, there’s a gap between those who grew up with Facebook and those who grew up with Snapchat and Instagram.’

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/27/680356663/director-bo-burnham-on-growing-up-with-anxiety-and-an-audience

The Rocker was born in 1984, and I vividly remember taking him out to a greasy spoon breakfast in Little Silver, NJ. We ordered Western omelets, with a side of their special waffle fries and bacon. A group of middle school boys drove up on their bikes, dropped them in the dirt and plowed into the restaurant giggling and pushing and shoving. They sat down in a booth and flipped open their phones. The Rocker looked me in the eyes and said,

“Ma, I’m glad we didn’t have cell phones in school.”

He was home from college for a break. Having breakfast together again was a ritual I’d been missing. As a toddler, I would happily make him breakfast number 1, and breakfast number 2, because his motor ran fast. The future Rocker was always hungry for action and adventure, but mornings were sacred. His big sister would go off to school and we would have a slow start to a jam-packed day.

If he ate a great morning meal, or two meals, then food for the rest of the day was optional. Remember, my foster parents belonged to the “Clean Plate Club.” Food battles would not define my parenting style!

I can also remember that day on our deck, overlooking the Blue Ridge, when the Rocker told me that Facebook was so over. He and Aunt KiKI signed me up for Instagram – she took my picture in a sun hat and he picked my moniker – it was love at first sight.

So who could blame me if I thought our L’il Pumpkin should be the next YouTube star?

Have you heard of Ryan, the 7 year old making gazillions of dollars opening up toys, screaming with delight, and playing with them? His mama started uploading his videos to YouTube when he was 4, and by last year he had made 22 Million dollars!

“What’s almost as baffling as the amount of money that Ryan has made before his eighth birthday is why today’s kids would rather tune in to watch another one play with toys than play with toys themselves. The answer, it seems, is that today’s kindergarten set lives vicariously through Ryan.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2018/12/03/how-this-seven-year-old-made-22-million-playing-with-toys-2/#1ecce4d54459

He’s had 26 Billion views on his channel, “Ryan Toys Review” and now he’s got his own toy brand at Walmart. He is a part of what’s known as “Unboxing” in advertising slang; people who film themselves opening mostly tech things and demonstrating how to use them.

The Bride looked at me with horror. Her child? A YouTube star?? I guess it is different for kids growing up today on social media. Their parents are on a spectrum of embracing technology with them, to becoming Luddites. Forging an identity online, counting followers to validate your existence, finding out you missed the big 8th grade party on Insta.

IF you could live your life without an audience, would your life still exist?

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“Mama Pajama rolled out of bed”

Yesterday, since the Bride and Groom were busy saving lives in their respective hospitals, I told the Grands it would be Pajama Day! They cheered and ran around like I was Willy Wonka telling them they could eat all the candy they wanted in the world. The Bug was sporting flannel penguins all day and the Pumpkin was delighted to stay in Star Wars attire.

The only thing they had to do was brush their teeth, the rest was optional!

I had inadvertently left my cell at home, which is oddly freeing! We baked cinnamon buns, built a Legos airport, watched some Mickey Mouse Club TV, walked the dogs, and visited Great Grandparents Ada and Hudson as Secret Santas! Then I cooked a turkey for Christmas dinner!

“But turkeys are for Thanksgiving,” the L’il Pumpkin said. “I’m only cooking the breast,” I told him.

We’ve never done the Jewish Chinese restaurant thing. Maybe because it was always just the three of us while Bob manned his ER, or maybe it’s because I had never heard of it. Once we did take-out Thai on Christmas Eve though, and that’s a tradition I would love to continue…

Last night, my ER doctors told me why they tend to see a lot of congestive heart failure on Christmas Day – it’s because of the HAM. Yes, that big salt load will do the trick, so be careful people. Too bad it’s so good with horseradish sauce.

The roads were empty driving home, and as we pulled into our parking spot we said Merry Christmas to our Millennial neighbors Aubrey and Tyler. They were wearing matching onesie pajamas, and had been in them all day too! In fact, they had rear flaps like Dr Denton’s, with a reindeer motif.

iPhone back in hand, I realized that matching PJs is a funny tradition for some families; yet another holiday happening that has flown under my radar all these years. One family did super hero PJs, another did guys in red and gals in green. Then there’s always the easy to replicate lumberjack look. I haven’t told Bob yet, but I’m thinking maybe we should don matching PJs next Christmas along with the Grands?

Hope y’all had a Happy Little Christmas. One of the Bug’s Hanukkah gifts was a set of matching PJs for her American Girl Doll. Thanks to my friend Ellen for the idea.

Goodnight Rosemary, the queen of Corona!

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