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

On the day my sister Kay woke from her coma and left the hospital – the same hospital still holding her mother and grandmother captive – the movie “Lost Weekend” was playing at the local Scranton movie theatre. I can see her now, in the back seat of a car, looking at the marquee and thinking to herself, “I lost a whole month.”

The Flapper’s automobile accident had been on the Fourth of July, and Kay was unconscious for a whole month. She’d “lost” the first month of summer picnics and ballgames. It’s a humbling feeling I’m sure to wake up and discover the world went on without you; dogs were fed, gardens watered and someone took care of the baby. No child at fourteen should have to care for her younger brothers, her crippled mother, and a ten month old baby sister. But that was her misfortune, her karma, our Year of Living Dangerously.

This week, the first hazy, hot and humid day of the summer, our air conditioner died and I felt like I lost a whole day.

Bob and I went out to run some errands and returned to a very hot house. The HVAC people who had installed a tankless water heater just a few months earlier, were booked solid. Temps would hover near 90, but they said they could come “tomorrow.” The Bride kindly offered us dinner in her freezing cold house, and of course we accepted. She wanted us to stay in her garage apartment overnight, but we said no thanks.

That night, we opened windows, found a fan, and attempted to sleep. After all, we are both stoic. We grew up without air conditioning, and we never needed it while we lived in the Berkshires.

The next day a young technician arrived and spent four hours troubleshooting our combo gas furnace and electric air conditioner. It was installed in 2015. Would I sound like an old codger if I complained about planned obsolescence? It does seem like major appliances used to get “fixed” when we were first married, and now more often than not, something needs to be “replaced.” Lucky for us, we only needed a new capacitor.

Still, our crooked crystal cottage could hold the heat in her walls. It took many hours for our unit to cool the whole house to a comfortable temperature. I don’t remember much of that day – trying to plant outside in the shade, refilling Ms Bean’s water bowl and checking her breathing to see if she was still alive. Animals are smart about the weather, she switched into hibernation mode immediately.

The 1945 movie Lost Weekend was about an alcoholic. Ray Milland plays a writer who goes on a “four day bender.” I’ve never experienced a blackout while drinking, I was always told I’m a lightweight. But these last few weeks of men debating a woman’s sovereignty over her own body have made me want to pop open a wine bottle again. And over this past weekend, our country experienced FOUR mass shootings…

I’m exhausted and tired of this fight, in a country where barely 1/3 of the population gets to impose their rules and religious beliefs on the rest of us . They want the freedom to carry guns, without a permit, like it’s the wild west. They want to legislate our wombs.

The problem with overdoing alcohol is the next day you pay. I heard Jane Fonda say she doesn’t have many days left in this life, and if she drank a martini tonight she would lose the next day. So I’ll pop open a Pellegrino and keep writing. I’ll try to stay grateful for all the little things in this life, like the Love Bug graduating from elementary school.

I don’t want to lose another day.

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For Mother’s Day, I went to the local garden store and bought nine small pots of French lavender. I’m planning to plant a purple hedge along the house side of our dilapidated garage, so whenever I look out the family room window, I’ll feel like I’m in the South of France.

I don’t have to plant lilacs for my foster mother Nell, I already have two glorious plants outside my snug’s window; and just like my maternal history, they are two different species of shrub. They sit side by side and both bloom at the same time, but one is a pale purpley/pink lilac and the other is a deeper violet.

“Lilac bushes set buds on old wood, so prune and shape them right after they finish blooming. Otherwise, said Tyler, you risk cutting off next year’s flowers.”

https://flowermag.com/lilac-bushes/

The lilacs have finished blooming, thank goodness I have a new pruning shear! Lately, my opulent magenta peonies have been exploding. If you asked me to dream up a perfect Mother’s Day, yesterday would have been it – we were only missing the Rocker and Aunt Kiki. I spent most of the day digging in the dirt. Then we set up a badminton net in the backyard for the Grands. The Bride had to work in the ER, but the Groom surprised her with dinner and dessert for us all! They made a pineapple upside down cake.

It was 73 and sunny, no bugs and no humidity, almost like California!

Ah, California, the state that is proposing an amendment to their constitution that would enshrine the Right to Choice! Thank you Senator Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Still, the leaked SCOTUS draft decision taking us back to the 1950s put a damper on my Mom Day. The juxtaposition of Naomi Judd’s suicide next to a possible Roe v Wade ban brought up old feelings of dread. Judd was part of my generation of women who went to hospitals with belly pain and were told we were pregnant. Before Roe became the Law of the Land, nurses and doctors looked at us with pity, and tried to explain why they couldn’t help us.

At least she wasn’t sent away in disgrace, to give up her baby in a different state, like so many teenage moms. At least she didn’t go to a back alley abortionist and become septic, and die. Or maybe worse, become infertile. Her family didn’t have the means to send her to Mexico or Cuba for a legal abortion. Judd had to grow up fast. Here is a part of her daughter Ashley’s tribute:

But motherhood happened to her without her consent. She experienced an unintended pregnancy at age 17, and that led her down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.

“Forgive me if my grief isn’t tidy. When I think about my mother, I am awash in the painful specifics. It’s a little easier, this Mother’s Day, to think about mothers in the collective, to wonder whether we value them. Every day, more than 800 women die in pregnancy and childbirth from causes for which solutions are affordable and achievable,” she wrote before sharing her 2018 experience with women in South Sudan “whose bodies were mangled from childbirth.”

https://americansongwriter.com/ashley-judd-writes-heartfelt-letter-about-mom-naomi-judd-ahead-of-mothers-day-forgive-me-if-my-grief-isnt-tidy/

If our country really valued mothers in the collective, we would send nurses to the homes of new moms. We’d supply free diapers and formula. We would give new moms a year of paid leave, and we’d provide affordable child care in every single state. Every child would be wanted. European countries have managed to do this, to value women. But we, we Americans just pretend to value women and babies.

I’m glad that the Flapper, who was born in 1908, came around to a Pro Choice stand. It wasn’t easy for her, she had six children herself, and our Irish ancestors had double and sometimes triple that number. But she was smart and slightly Buddhist in her old age. She had her first child at 17, and became pregnant at the age of 40 with me, her last child, to give my dying father a reason to live. Her doctor had no idea he would die of a brain tumor when I was seven months old.

I brought the Bride to march for Choice many times over the years. I never thought this day would actually come, silly me. I didn’t think she would ever have to look a young woman in the eyes and tell her there is nothing more she can do to help her. I didn’t think she’d possibly end up seeing septic young women bleed out in her ER. I thought we were better than this.

My family of doctors

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Yesterday’s Zoom with siblings was fun. My sister Kay and I enlightened our brother Dr Jim about the powerful, witchy ways of women. Particularly in courtship rituals – Jim always thought it was the man who usually chose his mate. Being a scientist, he saw reproduction in Darwinian terms. In fact, women have been helping women pick and choose their ‘forever after’ since Biblical times.

For instance, there was a friend of the Bride’s who was ready to settle down with her long-term boyfriend, but there was no ring in sight. Enter my single response to her plight – he says he “thinks” he loves me.

“In love there is no THINK. You either do or you don’t love someone. Move on.”

They were engaged within three months. Kay told one of her friends in an extra long relationship to buy a ticket home to South Africa. That ticket was the catalyst to a long, happy marriage. When ambiguity is a state of mind and living with uncertainty is untenable, give back what you’re receiving. Bend like the willow.

So when I read an article about the US policy regarding Ukraine this morning, I was intrigued. Written by a Rumson man I had interviewed at the Miller Center, Eric Edelman urges the State Department to abandon its “Strategic Ambiguity” policy. He is looking ahead to Taiwan, to the Peoples Republic of China, and urges us to plan accordingly by reinforcing their military capacity now. IF…

“…we are not prepared to see a thriving, prosperous democratic society swallowed up by a brutal autocratic regime led by a messianic zealot, there are a series of steps the United States must take—and soon.. .Deterrence ahead of time could very well be the stitch that saves nine.”

https://www.thebulwark.com/the-lessons-of-ukraine-for-taiwan-and-the-u-s/

Most of you know I am very much a pacifist. If only the women of the world could somehow convince men not to rattle their sabers. But after our collective experience with Mr T and a pandemic that killed millions of people, continuing an ambiguous strategy does not feel right at this time in history. Being Switzerland is NOT an option.

IF in fact, we want to save our democracy and defend fledgling democracies around the world, being proactive makes perfect sense. What do you value? Free speech? Let’s not worry about Twitter. A woman journalist for Radio Free Europe was killed by a Russian bomb in Ukraine last month. https://www.rferl.org/a/rfe-rl-president-pays-tribute-to-journalist-killed-in-her-home-in-russian-missile-strike-on-kyiv/31827576.html.

It was beautiful to see the night sky in NYC ablaze with blue and yellow buildings. But wearing the colors of Ukraine can only do so much.

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We’re home – after a quick trip to NYC to visit my sister Kay and see a couple of Broadway shows.

The Grands had never been to the Great White Way, and this trip was the Bride’s idea. As soon as Broadway reopened, she booked our tickets, not knowing if the Bug and Pumpkin would be vaccinated yet. We were still moving in, opening boxes, some labeled “Beach House” which obviously never happened. Still trying to organize our Crystal Cottage – we put everything on hold to take a bite of the Big Apple!

And it was delicious!

I remembered the Rocker as a toddler, standing in the first row of “Into the Woods.” Felicia Rashad played the bad witch, but he only had eyes for the orchestra. He stayed still, transfixed by the musicians. I thought about the time we sat in box seats for “Chicago” with one of his friends. And of course, we will always have our “Grease” dance moment.

I tried out for every play in high school. I met Angela Lansbury at the Stage Door of “Auntie Mame.” Watching Barbara Streisand play “Funny Girl” left me breathless. I could see the sweat on Zero Mostel’s face in “Fiddler.” I didn’t know it then, but Broadway musicals would become a family tradition.

I was lucky really. Growing up in New Jersey, with my fabulous, big sister across the river on the Upper East Side. When we weren’t listening to Frank Sinatra, the Flapper played LPs of “Flower Drum Song,” “Gypsy” and “South Pacific” non-stop. I’m glad the extravagant love I feel for this unique American art form, the Broadway musical, has rubbed off on my children. And I see the Bride is determined to pass the torch on to the next generation..

We had the most perfect weather last weekend. Tulips of every color were blooming down Park Avenue. We strolled over the Highline, over the hustle and bustle on the streets listening to the birds and an assortment of languages. We visited Kay’s vintage jewel of an apartment and talked about art and medical school. We feasted at Serendipity 3, just as I had when I was a girl. The Love Bug said, “This is like a girl’s dream.”

And topping it all was “Hamilton.” The songs, the dancers, the story conspired to create a most perfect union/play. I could feel the longing for freedom, the envy of power and influence, the self-sacrifice of a sister. I discovered that my skin can still produce goosebumps. Alexander Hamilton’s story tapped into our collective desire for love and camaraderie. Especially now. I haven’t cried in a theatre in a very long time.

Today I will open more boxes and continue my endless search for some glass shelves. I will try to clean up the back patio, despite the carpenter bees. I’ll re-write my To Do list and research the Forest Pansy Redbud tree. Maybe I’ll polish some silver and plant some grasses! Most likely I’ll be humming Eliza Hamilton’s song, “That would be enough.”

“LOOK AROUND, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now

Look around Look around”

…and if this child shares a fraction of your smile

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The Bride didn’t want to pierce the Love Bug’s ears in our fancy mall, with a tiny gun in the big front window. So we went to a tattoo parlor downtown! It came highly recommended by the nurses in her hospital; They do things the old fashioned way, with a needle. So she made the reservation for a day after Passover. I tagged along for moral support, which the Bug didn’t need at all. She picked out tiny, sparkly opal studs. I had to wait in the waiting room, enjoying the ethnography of the body arts subculture. https://icontattoo.com/

It wasn’t the weekend’s mass shooting at an upscale mall in South Carolina that swayed my daughter. Police believe there were three guns involved; nine people were injured. A 73 year old woman is still hospitalized. Will nothing change?

You may recall my first published story was titled “Guns in the Woods.” It was about moving to an isolated mountaintop in the Berkshires when the Bride was a baby. It was about newlyweds, and the choices we make to accommodate each other; and it was about being alone at night, with the intermittent sound of rifles poaching deer. Pop! Pop!

I framed that piece from The Berkshire Eagle. The paper has turned yellow with age, and now I’m not sure what to do with it. I’ve been admonished not to decorate like an old lady, with lots of small framed pictures over every level surface. Maybe I could toy with mixed media and decoupage?

In our Nashville city farmhouse we would sometimes hear gunshots while getting ready for bed. Usually there was an altercation in the Kroger parking lot. I stopped going out for a pint of milk after dark. It’s strange how quickly we became accustomed to the sound of hand guns.

This habituation to gun violence is eating away at me and it’s a cancer on our democracy. We’ve all become disenchanted with our institutions, with a government that could not pass a single, simple gun control bill after Sandy Hook. Red and Blue states are all in agreement – our children need to be safe in school.

In our new Crooked Crystal Cottage at the outskirts of the city we hear crickets at night. Literally. Maybe an occasional siren will pierce the silence. Most Americans don’t have to contend with gun violence. They don’t think twice about grocery shopping at night. It’s just that every now and then, someone walks into a school, or a concert, or a shopping mall, or a movie theatre with an AR-15.

The US does not have a single definition for “mass shootings” but the FBI has tracked “active shooter incidents” for more than a decade. Such an incident is defined as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area”.

According to the FBI, there were 345 “active shooter incidents” in the United States between 2000-2020, resulting in more than 1,024 deaths and 1,828 injuries.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081

We need to change this gun culture. We need to prosecute gun manufacturers, and hold more adults responsible for “accidental” gun deaths. We need to attack the gun lobby through marketing and the courts, in the same way we changed the culture of smoking, or driving while drunk.

Because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, legislators are finally talking about changing our collective perception, our reliance on fossil fuels. Buy electric cars! Reduce your carbon imprint! Well guess what – NOBODY needs an assault weapon. NOBODY.

Here are the states that have banned assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. Minnesota regulates but does not outright ban assault weapons.

Protecting our children is paramount to protecting our second amendment.

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You remember the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk. Most Americans had never heard about the WWII evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops off the coast of northern France in 1940, on the heels of German advancement. Technically a military defeat, the Brits have enshrined this event as a testament to courage and perseverance through dangerous waters. Fishermen and yacht men alike sailed to the rescue.

“…the tugs, drifters, trawlers, barges and motor launches, and rowing boats. Yes, and there was even a canoe.
This strange assortment was got together in record time by the Small Vessel Pool, an organisation which scoured the seaside places and rivers of Britain for every conceivable type of craft.
The response of owners of vessels everywhere was magnificent. There was no grousing at having to give up boats, indeed their only desire was to give their boats and a little more. In effect it represented the spirit of Dunkirk.

https://wordhistories.net/2019/04/16/dunkirk-spirit-origin/

Her Majesty the Queen of England just referenced the Dunkirk Spirit on a Zoom call with the builders and hospital staff of the new 155 bed Covid unit at the Royal London Hospital. The construction should have taken five months but was completed in five weeks. She recalled how Covid left her exhausted and then said:

“It is very interesting, isn’t it, when there is some very vital thing, how everybody works together and pulls together – marvelous isn’t it? …the “Dunkirk spirit. “Thank goodness it still exists.”

But does it exist here? Our response to 9/11 may be as close as we’ve come – people gave blood, knit booties for cadaver dogs, pulled together. Congress – Republicans and Democrats – sang the national anthem on the steps of the Capitol. The high school Rocker’s band played a concert in support of the rescue effort in Red Bank, NJ, not knowing that later he’d be scoring the Dunkirk trailer in Hollywood.

Maybe at the start of this pandemic, when people were singing on balconies and banging pots and pans, we approximated the Dunkirk Spirit. We were making masks for strangers, delivering pizzas to ERs, and felt compelled to care for our elderly and the immunocompromised. But how long can such altruism sustain itself?

Covid hasn’t gone away. We haven’t really defeated the microbe, in fact Nancy Pelosi just tested positive for the bug. You can be immunized and boosted as much as you like, but if you happen to be of a certain age, or have a chronic condition, it would be best to keep masking and avoiding indoor crowds whenever possible. It’s just that now, people would rather forget the pandemic. They are ready to get on with their lives.

Bob and I had a taste of the Dunkirk Spirit this past weekend. Our new Nashville neighborhood has a well established “Buy Nothing” Facebook group. The Bride has lured me back to Facebook because she noticed an elliptical machine that was up for grabs, and she knew we were in the market for one. I wrote to the owner that we’d stopped going to the gym in 2020, and that our “bodies and souls” could use her Nordic Track. Then the Bride wrote that we need to keep in shape for the wee grandchildren.

And Voila! Bob, the Groom and a friend hopped into a pick-up and delivered the elliptical to our family room. It appeared like magic, no shopping, no buying. Bob and I had posted the original kitchen appliances from our new/old house to Buy Nothing if you recall. We helped neighbors hoist and haul a perfectly good oven and a washer/dryer. I love this circle of giving. I just hope it’s not too late for my knees.

Ms Bean is delighted

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We sat just six rows back from the orchestra at the Schermerhorn, and waved at the Pumpkin’s classmate in a box seat nearby. He asked if there would be sound when we saw the gigantic movie screen, if we would hear the actors? I said no, it would probably just be the music of Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back. He seemed to take that in stride, then a whole family in Star Wars costumes sat down in front of us and the theatre darkened. https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/4386

Bob and I bought tickets ages ago, not knowing if another variant might strike, or immunizations for children would be approved. There had been no Nutcracker for two years, no pictures of points in time, like the yearly Big Apple Circus pictures and posters that once littered our home. First from the Berkshires, where I was standing with the Bride at a concession stand holding a pink cloud of cotton candy, just moments away from giving birth to her brother. And later from Lincoln Center, surrounded by friends and family.

Yesterday we stopped for lunch at Fifth and Broad. As we walked past the honky-tonks to the symphony center the Rocker looked up at me… no, wait, it wasn’t the Rocker it was my L’il Pumpkin.

“I know why they call this The Music City,” he said without a bit of irony.

It was only a two block walk, but we had to swerve onto Broadway just to avoid a crooner who was leaning out of a bar window, serenading a bride-to-be in white hot pants, boots and veil. Then we hopped back onto the sidewalk to avoid a pedal tavern full of tourists drinking and singing. I wondered what an alien might think of our civilization if he/she/it managed to land in our town.

Science fiction holds a special place in our family history. Bob and I first started dating in high school, and Star Trek was the weekly highlight in our developing saga. The Bride’s first real movie, in fact was Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back in 1980. She was six months old and slept through the whole thing on my lap.

But the Rocker’s obsession with Star Wars started even earlier. He cut his baby teeth on the Lucas Film space opera. He created stop-action films in our garage of its characters. Little did we know that later, after years of touring in his rock band, he would move to California and start composing Star Wars music for the trailer industry; that he would develop a company to archive cinematic sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQmIi6D38Rg

When we visited Disneyland this year, I wasn’t so sure who was more excited – my son or my grandson?

The Pumpkin’s eyes were transfixed, his energy barely contained by the seat. The Nashville Symphony musicians had tuned their instruments and were about to begin – “In a galaxy far far away” scrolled up the screen. We could hear the actors’ dialogue amidst a swelling wave of John Williams’ music. We leaned back in our seats ready for action and adventure.

I thought about bringing the toddler Rocker to his first Broadway show in NYC. We were in the front row, on top of the orchestra pit. I wasn’t so sure my little boy, my perpetual motion machine, would last through the whole play of Into the Woods. But he too was mesmerized, standing and looking at the musicians, almost willing them to engage him.

Later, in middle school, we’d won the warm-up dance contest on stage before another NYC show. We came with Grandma Ada to see Lucy Lawless, the actor who played Zena, Princess Warrior, in her Broadway debut of Grease. I was exhilarated and he was only slightly embarrassed. We both won tee shirts! He was starting his first band back then, they would play at his Bar Mitzvah.

While we Ubered home to our shared neighborhood, I asked the Grands what instrument they would love to learn to play. Their piano lessons had been on hold since the pandemic started. The Love Bug immediately said she’d like to learn how to play the guitar; thank you Taylor Swift. And the Pumpkin thought for a full minute, and then said the drums. Lucky for him, the Groom’s band keeps a set of drums in the garage apartment!

Maybe my daughter and son-in-law will host a teenage band in their garage someday too.

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What would you pack in your “To Go” bag?

In the middle of packing up all my earthly possessions and moving five miles west this past weekend, I was talking with a friend about Ukraine – those poor women and children fleeing their homeland. I was struck by the juxtaposition of packing all the stuff we’d accumulated over the past five years in Nashville, and wondering what I would choose to take in my “to go” bag, should the situation arise.

She said, “What’s a to go bag?”

“Everyone in Israel has a To Go bag,” I said. “It’s in case you have to leave in a hurry, because rockets or bombs are getting closer. My son the Rocker has a To Go bag in California, in case they have to outrun a wildfire sweeping down their canyon. Heck, the only time I packed a To Go bag was when I was pregnant with the Bride!”

Every mom expecting to give birth in a hospital has packed a to go bag; something for a day or two, a nice new nursing nightgown, slippers, some big, baggy pants to wear home. Unless you’re a British princess, and then you must wear a tiny-belly-revealing smart dress for those first photo ops.

I suppose I should actually pack a to go bag now. The EF4 tornado that hit us right before the pandemic was a game changer for me. Some people in our historic Germantown neighborhood had their roofs blown off, some lost windows and we all lost power for over a week. Many lost their lives right outside of town. Bob and I bunked with the Bride and Groom then, luckily our city farmhouse wasn’t touched.

Then again, if a tornado was strong enough to pick up our new/old cozy crystal 1940s cottage, it would probably take us and our to go bags right along with it.

I’ve decided to call our new home, that is currently swimming in boxes, the Crystal Cottage. We hung a modern crystal chandelier in the dining area that adjoins the front parlor. For our offices, I chose a smaller, semi-flush mounted fixture with similar crystals. The one glass cabinet in the new kitchen is showing off its Irish Waterford crystal. From my writing desk that is as old as our marriage, I have a view of the street and the larder!

I wanted to differentiate the old kitchen wall that has shelves and doors, the larder, from its adjoining new pantry.

Have you noticed how Victorian words have been creeping into my vocabulary? Jason, our fine carpenter, is Scottish and he’s named my office the “Snug!” It seems in Scotland a small room off the kitchen is a snug. I love that word so much, I’ve adopted it as my own. I call Bob into my snug every morning to do Wordle with me.

But back to the question at hand, what would I pack in a to go bag? My first thought had always been family pictures, but almost all my pictures are now stowed somewhere up in a cloud. All the ancient pictures – the Flapper in her Marcel wave, my Nana in her pearls, Great Grandma Ada looking for all the world like a 1950s movie star would be in my bag.

I’d pack toiletries – a toothbrush and paste, a bar of soap, some sunscreen and maybe a moisturizer. Next would be clothes for a week – a nightgown, underwear, some tee shirts, a pair of jeans and yoga pants I don’t wear anymore. I figure whatever shoes I’d have on would have to do, but I might pack some socks.

Of course all the important papers and passwords must be readily available. And medicine, I don’t have many prescriptions but the few I have I’ll need for arthritis. So until I could get a refill, I’d want to have a few days worth of meds. Does this mean it’s time to buy one of those weekly, old lady, pill cylinders? Maybe.

We cracked a large Italian piece of pottery we’d been using as an umbrella stand. I’d love to learn Kintsugi – “…the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.” I love the idea of celebrating the broken spaces.

Did you see the picture of the empty baby strollers in Lviv on March 18? It wasn’t the photograph of neatly lined-up prams that Polish families left at the train station for refugees. No, this was still inside Ukraine, commemorating 109 children murdered by Russia so far.

President Biden was right to call Putin a butcher. Someone needs to slap him.

The new countertops arrived

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I hope this will be my last move.

I wasn’t destined to live in the same community for 50 years, surrounded by friends and family, secure behind a picket fence; a well-known, semi-serious journalist and Hadassah “macher.” Macher is a Yiddish word, a noun:

“Someone who arranges, fixes, has connections…someone who is [very] active in an organization” (Rosten) “important person”, “hot shot.”

n. Somebody who is successful, handy, dextrous.

https://jel.jewish-languages.org/words/325

I’ve always felt a sort of underlying derision whenever someone calls someone else a macher. But maybe that’s just me?

I guess the moment my foster parents picked me up – during our Year of Living Dangerously, with the Flapper in surgery and my big sister Kay in a coma – and brought me to Victory Gardens, my fate was sealed. I would be a little gypsy, traveling over the Delaware Water Gap, between NJ and PA. Uprooted at every turn.

I told myself I was happy to have two mothers, one warm and comforting, the other beautiful and mysterious. I was lucky to have two birthday celebrations, two Christmases, and two homes. Pulled between one set of siblings, half siblings and step-siblings and being an only child. I secretly longed to just stay put.

Now I know that longing for something you’ve never had can be a recipe for a depressive disorder. So instead I try to stay present. I’ve chosen to accept our nomadic existence, after all I married an Emergency Physician. Once he’d roll into an ER and fix it, he’d want a new challenge. I always told the kiddos their Dad wrote the book on Emergency Management, and he did!

Yesterday I asked Bob, “How many bathing suits does one woman need?” And like a good manager, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “That depends.”

Sorting and packing is different this time around. There are the clothes I’ll never fit into again, the clothes I’ll never wear again, and everything else. Pandemic fashion has turned out to be comfortable cotton yoga wear I bought at Whole Foods, along with an occasional Eileen Fisher piece on sale, online. Of course I’ll keep these things, and my boots and fancy shoes that stand watch in my closet, hoping I’ll need them again.

But why am I packing so many small rocks? One is from Ireland, and one is for our old neighbor’s dog Hodor, one is a crystal and one is a geode, and……..

Forgive my absence, but during this move I’ll be posting only once a week, on Mondays. By next Monday we’ll be in our new home – all one level with a big backyard. Bob designed the master bath for us to Age-in-Place. My beautiful master closet will be installed next month and the kitchen countertops are delayed because of a mix-up with the center island. No kitchen sink, no backsplash, so we’ll use Uber Eats for awhile.

One learns to pivot when you’ve moved as much as we have. And one learns that home can be a haven when it’s filled with the people you love.

Wish us luck!

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Waking up to snow a few days ago was the perfect start to Spring Break.

I always loved flying off to our favorite island in a storm, and returning to a spring full of robins and daffodils. The Rocker and Aunt Kiki flew cross country to attend the wedding of the last, single, Parlor Mob bandmate. The drummer with “Oh Yeah” tattooed across his chest said “I Do” to his new bride this weekend. And our Bride and Groom’s family took off for the mountains.

We stayed home in Nashville – to pack for The Big Move, and run our temporary kennel of three rescue dogs!

I’ve let a sober January turn into a sober February and March so far. Before the 2016 election, I’d gotten used to a glass of chardonnay with dinner; but afterwards it turned into wine while cooking dinner during a pandemic and after dinner and a tornado too. Day drinking was never my thing, although I do remember a certain soccer mom who brought a thermos of vodka cocktails to a practice in the 80s.

I’m not opposed to drinking, in fact, I’ll probably be the first to order a margarita whenever we go out to an actual restaurant again!

I’m remembering my foster Daddy Jim, every now and then he’d stop off at a bar for a beer and leave me in the car. I know, he’d be arrested today, but back in the 50s this was normal. Especially if your foster mother didn’t allow any alcohol in the house! The Flapper was a coffee addict, her liquor cabinet was locked up tight. She always said there was NO alcoholism in our family. And by filming my brother drunkenly climbing a set of stairs after his high school graduation, and showing the film every so often, she tried to insure our sobriety.

Honestly, my sleep has been so much better. In sleep hours alone, I figure I’m buying myself a few extra years of life. I was listening to a classical music station on the radio when an advertisement came on for a hospice care facility. Its mantra was – “Calm Comfort Clarity.” And my immediate response was – why can’t I have that now?

It turns out, I can…

… except for the war in Ukraine. Every day I wake to a sense of impending doom. Russia puts nuclear weapons on alert, another journalist is killed, and today we learn of a pregnant woman dying from an air strike in Mariupol. We can see her body on a stretcher. her left hip drenched in blood.

Every day I wake to see if the capital city of Kyiv has been invaded. The shelling of innocents in that city started four days ago, and still its citizens fight for their freedom. They say they would rather stand tall than live on their knees. Putin’s tanks and missiles are getting closer to Poland. I wonder what NATO will do. Will Biden step up to the bully?

What can we Americans do? Ignoring a bully like Putin won’t stop him – it was silence and indifference that allowed Hitler to invade Poland after all. I would like to put my money right in the hands of those Ukrainian people who are staying to fight for their land. A British Twitter writer I follow suggested we book an Air BnB in Ukraine, but is that a good plan? That would just help the top 2% of the population that has wifi and property to rent to others.

“The reaction to Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has inspired innovative new ways of supporting people on the ground. Two students at Harvard designed their own “stripped-down” version of Airbnb to quickly connect Ukrainian refugees with emergency housing, Google rolled out an air raid alerts system for all Android phones, and the US State Department has even partnered with GoFundMe to establish a channel for businesses, philanthropies, and individuals to support organizations providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. Separate from individual customer bookings of Ukrainian properties, Airbnb has started a refugee fund, where it is aiming to offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.”

https://www.vox.com/22973133/ukraine-russia-airbnb-booking-donate-effective-altruism

I don’t mean to imply that the war is damaging my serenity. I’m about to move again, and that is my American, immediate stressor. I’m not bunking in a metro station or learning how to make molotov cocktails. I’m not running for my life. Just be careful what you say to your children and grandchildren about war and freedom. Now is the time to be clear-minded. Our country must light the way forward.

How many humans do you need to put up a chandelier?

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