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

Did you go to summer camp? Swim in a lake that glistened like diamonds in the sun? Play jacks on the front porch and sleep in a frozen cabin in the mountains with a nun secluded in one corner behind a locked door? Rise to a recording of Reveille every morning and assemble under the flag pole for inspection? Sing your heart out to the Virgin Mary!

No? Well I loved it! I mean I actually dreamt about that place, Camp St Joseph for Girls, into my adult years; so it’s no wonder I jumped at the chance to hold a little day camp of my own for the Love Bug this week. Her brother would be in his pre-school program, and it seems that Pop Bob is busy with other things, so the girls will be large and in charge.

Today we are picking up the Bride and Great Grandma Ada for a trip to The Frist Museum. https://fristartmuseum.org/ Today will be Nana Camp on Wheels.

Four generations will roam the gallery exhibit of “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism…”

“Kahlo infused her work with mexicanidad, an identification with Mexico’s distinct national history, traditions, culture, and natural environment, but in a much more personal way. About a third of her paintings are self-portraits, the works for which she is now most celebrated. They accentuate her distinctive appearance, characterized by a v-shaped unibrow, deep brown eyes, mustache, carefully coiffed hair with braids, and indigenous Mexican clothing. In Diego on My Mind(Self-Portrait as Tehuana), for example, she crowns herself with a festive indigenous Mexican headdress known as a resplandor.” 

So while Mr T terrorizes undocumented immigrants with ICE raids, we will be viewing an exhibition of fine art collected by Eastern European immigrants to Mexico before WWII. “Jacques and Natasha Gelman were glamorous and wealthy Eastern European refugees who married in Mexico in 1941, took part in Mexico City’s vibrant art scene, and acquired art mostly from their artist friends.”

While refugees are separated from their families and caged without access to showers or even toothpaste at our southern border, we will delight in the art of our Mexican neighbors. The irony doesn’t escape me. We now have a commander in chief with bone spurs who loved to cavort with Jeffrey Epstein and tells Congresswomen of color to return to the countries of their origin. His language by Tweet is not so subtle, coded to signal his white nationalist/supremacist/misogynist followers that it’s OK to hate the “Other.”

For awhile I was immune to his horrible early morning Tweet tirade probably made from his golden toilet seat, I was news-free. But I’m home for better or worse. My first day in Nashville I awoke to a headache and sore throat, a viral cold had attacked me. The City is tearing up our alley to fix some damage an apartment building has done to the ancient sewers, so jackhammers punctuate my mornings. And Bob has replaced the classical music station on our Sonos with old-time Rock and Roll. Nothing stands in the way of progress, as Adelaide’s Lament would say, “A person can develop a BAD BAD cold!”  Achoo!

Did I mention that Day 1 of Nana Camp included learning to play pranks!

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My sister Kay is home in her vintage apartment. She’s been here for over 50 years, as long as I can remember. Stunning artwork is sprinkled around her dusty pink walls, it seems that nothing has changed. The old lady upstairs is still moving furniture every night.

Luckily the doormen are divine! That is a very important part of life on the Upper East Side.

When I was a teen I would arrive at the Port of Authority-now I wonder about that moniker but then I took it for granted- and she would meet my bus. We’d hail a cab and head uptown. There were no lines, no Uber.

Kay was my beautiful big sister. She taught me how to walk in NYC, never looking UP like a tourist. She told me not to smile at strange men. We went to the finest restaurants and she would say, “Order anything you want!”

Kay would correct my speech, so that a NJ accent never took hold.

I admired and adored her as only a little sister could. Marriage just wasn’t her thing, she tried it for awhile, but a wild rose is hard to tame. So when she fell and broke her hip she was alone.

Our niece Karen drove up from DC before her surgery and Kay told her a sub-acute rehab hospital was not in her vocabulary. When I arrived on the Fourth of July she was eager to recover. But please people, don’t end up in a hospital when new residents are starting their training, or on a holiday weekend.

Recovery can be slow going.

Today I walked down Madison Avenue making faces at the children clutching the hands of their nannies looking down at their phones. I would always get a smile.

I stopped to pet the French Bulldog who just returned from Nantucket. His name is Gus!

There are more nail salons than I remember. The Armory where the police kept their horses is now a school. Things change, but not my sister’s apartment.

In this heat wave she is worried about running the AC. It is a balancing act; I turn it on and she turns it off. She grew up really poor, whereas I guess I was just poor. She was only 14 years old when our Father died and and the Year of Living Dangerously commenced.

It was a midsummer nightmare on the Fourth of 1949.

Now post-surgery my sister Kay is rallying as usual, walking with a rollator and taking no prisoners. The Flapper would be proud!

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Tonight we had a bonfire on the beach. The Bride’s friend actually lives here, in Old Blue Mountain Beach (yes I get the irony), so we roasted hot dogs and made s’mores over a small fire. It was heavenly, fueled with margaritas and a yellow flag.

The yellow flag means the Emerald Coast is putting on its best show of small waves in a peaceful sea. We’d been floating in the waves all morning like turtles, so this was the perfect ending to our vacation.

I’d just finished reading Chelsea Handler’s new book, “Life Will be the Death of Me,” and was about to start Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book when we got the call.

My sister Kay broke her hip.

Kay is my big sister, the beautiful one who always pulled us out of jams and never told our mother. She was the responsible one. But she also married young and then became a “gay divorcee.” She isn’t gay in that sense, but she did have a lot of fun! Traveling the world as a stewardess with National Airlines, I remember visiting her in NYC and never wanting to leave.

Leaving the beach will be hard but seeing my sister again will be just what the doctor ordered. She’s had surgery only two days ago and has already been discharged to her apartment on the Upper East Side. She is so much like the Flapper, strong and resilient. When PT tried showing her how to walk slowly with a rollator, she insisted on going faster!

So long powdery sand. So long beach. And Happy Fourth of July everyone. I’m never driving on this holiday but I will be flying north.

Bob is the sun to my moon. He took this picture tonight while we were catching sand crabs.

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Ever since the kids were little, we’ve headed for a beach. At first it was a caravan to Martha’s Vineyard with dogs and friends for a month each year. Gay Head was the destination, a wild and wonderful coast lined with rosa rugosa.

Then we moved to the Jersey Shore so we just lived on the beach every summer. There were birthdays and weddings at the beach club, but mostly we spent long, lazy days swimming in the ocean and reading in our cabana. The Corgis joined in the fun, waddling in the waves.

It’s been over 30 years now that we’ve been going to our paradise in the French West Indies. Our adult children still want to travel there with us and in retrospect, it’s a blessing when your children grow up and like spending time with you. Lucky for us, their spouses enjoy it as well!

So now that we have a Love Bug in school, we’re trying out a new beach summer vacation. It seems that Nashville folks migrate to 30A on the FL Panhandle for fun in the sun at the beach. The L’il Pumpkin loves to make sandcastles while his big sister likes to read. Bob and I stroll holding hands at the water’s edge, like otters who sleep holding hands so they don’t float away.

30A is a blend of Long Beach Island and Oak Bluffs. The planned communities like Watercolor are not my style but there are plenty of charming options for everyone.

Tonight we’re cooking in and maybe watching the debates – should we turn on the TV?

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Great Grandma Ada turned 95 this past weekend. Friends and family traveled from California, NJ, NC and Florida just to celebrate our Matriarch’s special day. High Tea was served in the Cafe at Thistle Farms, a recovery program for women who have been trafficked, who suffer from addiction and/or are transitioning from the sex trade industry. Started by an Episcopal woman minister, Thistle Farms is a shining light in Nashville; a leader in providing a safe work/therapy model for survivors and selling their hand made home and body care products. #LoveHeals https://thistlefarms.org/

Ms Ada was radiant throughout, sitting between her second husband of nearly 40 years and her grandson, the Rocker. She said later how she looked out at the mosaic of interesting, accomplished, beautiful people and thought how very lucky she is – musicians, therapists, doctors and lawyers, many she had known for most of their lives. Her home in NJ was a safe and accepting way-station during the 1960s. Your family threw you out? She would provide a bedroom. Planning a trip to Woodstock? No problem, she would send you off in style, in a school bus!

A practicing Marriage and Family therapist, Ada is still available as a consultant. Although she broke her hip last year, her spirit and willingness to listen to your problems is intact and always at the ready. She warned Bob when we married that she will always take MY side! And she meant it… Great Grandpa Hudson has coined her “insatiable,” every person she meets wants to open up to her about their troubles. One day, we were in a Talbots dressing room, and the salesgirl sat down on the floor to pour out her heart. Another marriage saved!

But some marriages are not meant to survive, which is why I was intrigued by this WSJ article, “The Math Behind Successful Relationships.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-do-i-love-thee-a-mathematician-counts-the-ways-11549627200?mod=e2tw

Turns out, you can almost predict which marriages will stand the test of time by watching the way couples argue. Leave it to a bunch of statisticians to quantify love:

“Marriages, they found, fell into five categories: validating, volatile, conflict–avoiding, hostile and hostile–detached (a significantly more negative pairing). Only three—validating, volatile and conflict–avoiding—are stable, they write in their book, but a volatile marriage, though passionate, risks dissolving into endless bickering.”  

Not sure I agree with the “conflict-avoiding” one, although my foster parents fell into that category and they were happy for 50+ years. So think about the way you treat conflict in your relationship: sometimes, if Bob and I are bickering, I’ll turn to him and say, “But I thought your sole purpose in life is to make me happy?” Then he smiles, and we reach a compromise. Turns out humor is also a great predictor. Who said something like, “Sex slows, beauty fades, but humor always stays?”

But the fun has got to be mutual. Another sure sign of distress is if one person is laughing while the other is NOT. That’s a sure sign of contempt and a true indicator of divorce.

In other news, it’s a good thing I just replaced my driver’s license, if you know what I mean.

Looking for some couple counseling, just give Ms Ada a call. Happiest Birthday to my mentor in Life and Love! Ada had the courage to leave her first husband and the ability to open her heart to a guy, Great Grandpa Hudson, (the only grandfather my children have ever known), a recovering Baptist preacher from NC; another algorithm you’d never find on Match.com. or Bumble. Here is our beautiful Ada on an Army base in the 1950s. I’ll have to ask her what she thinks of math and marriage.

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Last night I hopped into my Lyft and the driver, who looked nothing like his picture, told me there was a tornado warning. We had one of my three best Lyft/Uber driver conversations on the way home from a quick bite with the Bride. What he didn’t know was that before our supper an actual tornado of creativity had touched down in Nashville. “City of Girls” author Elizabeth Gilbert landed in her “Commonwealth” dress at Montgomery Bell Academy to talk about female sexual desire in the 1940s!

She passed out bottles of champagne to her enchanted fans, the lucky ones celebrating a birthday yesterday, along with the most perfect combination of wit and wisdom I’ve ever heard about navigating this life in the female form. She wanted to explore the lives of promiscuous women, those girls throughout history who never played by the rules. And she was lucky enough to find a living nonagenarian, “Norma” was an old showgirl who wasn’t ashamed to talk about her experience with men over the years and her five abortions. Did she never want to marry? Does she regret not having children?

“Who wants to f— the same guy for sixty years?” 

The audience was laughing, clapping, cheering… Norma had had affairs with John Wayne and Milton Berle. But it was the author herself who delighted us. Gilbert practices brutal honesty; she calls it being on an “Integrity Cleanse.” Her previous partner, a woman named Rayya who recently died of pancreatic cancer, was an addict who treated honesty like a surgical tool in her sobriety arsenal. So Gilbert carries on being true, because it’s so much easier than deceit.

“Truth has legs. It’s the only thing that will stay standing at the end of the day,” she said.

You might as well do it now, or do it later. Why not just get it over with, put truth out there on the table so we all can breathe? She tells us she didn’t grow up this way. Her early life was unconventional yes, still she is aware of her privilege. If you want to hear about her eccentric father, who was a Xmas tree farmer in New England, you’ll have to listen to one of her podcasts!

Gilbert writes herself love letters every day – Why is this happening to me? – How can I manage? – What is the problem – When will it end? And her answer is mostly the same – “I’m here, and I’ll always be here with you – we’ve got this – it will be alright.”

It sounded like a woman praying, but she knew her answers would always be found deep inside. In a way, writing this delicious book was an antidote to her grief after losing Rayya. She had to step back into the creative river, even though she felt weighted down by her loss. She didn’t drown. She wrote like “…a drunk person running.” 

I was aware of the irony in last night. There I was, sitting next to my reluctant Bride, who was inspired to finally take the plunge and get married to her adoring and patient husband, while reading Gilbert’s book, “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.” And there on the stage was the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who fell in love with her best friend and ended her marriage to her husband in order to care for Rayya. And here we all were inside an auditorium in a boy’s school on a humid and rain-soaked night.

But love is love. “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” a quote from “Committed.”

Here is one of the last gems  she threw out last night ladies. “If I’m all up in your business, there’s nobody home to take care of me.” I mean, how true is that? Getting into bed last night I thought about my family – the Flapper was certainly unconventional, and my sister Kay, an original Lipstick feminist.

City of Girls” hit the number 2 spot on the NYTimes Hard Cover Fiction Best Sellers List this morning only 2 weeks after publication! I couldn’t get a decent picture last night so I lifted this one – here she is in her Commonwealth dress with that author and bookstore owner, Ann Patchett! A new American Gothic. Thanks Parnassus Books and the Public Library Salon @615 for an unforgettable evening.

Happy Pride Month everyone!

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That’s Bob’s answer for anything bad that happens – you forgot your passport, an event is cancelled, your plane is delayed, a friend is getting a divorce… You name it and my stoic husband will most likely think for a few seconds, before reminding me that indeed, nobody died! Skip straight ahead to the point of most ER doctors, avoid all that mushy, sentimental feeling stuff in between. Unless of course, someone did die.

We were having a great day with the Grands; lunch at Panera and an early afternoon movie, “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” In the middle of the movie Bob asked me if I had my purse? Of course I said, it was right on my lap. I always sit with my purse on my lap in a movie theatre because once when the Bride was in high school she had her wallet stolen right out of her purse which she had placed on the floor!

Unbeknownst to me, my husband was getting some fraud alert texts on his cell. I didn’t know it but so was I, on my silent cell, in my purse, while he must have felt the buzz in his pants pocket. The movie was over, the evil monkey got shot out of a cannon and disaster had been averted, all the pets were back where they belong, the credits were rolling and Bob stood up and asked me if I had my wallet?

Well it’s true nobody died, but my heart sank as I searched inside my purse in that semi-dark theatre. How is this possible? Then it felt like I’d been gut-punched – my wallet was gone.

The thief was a pro I’m sure, but my purse was some boho macrame backpack that didn’t have a zipper or a latch to close it. It had to have happened during lunch, with two kids, while it was slung over the back of my chair. Going forward I will need to keep my purse on my lap during restaurant meals too…

In the course of maybe two hours the thief had charged over $5,000 on my credit cards. FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

We didn’t know that until we were calling the banks in my car outside the theatre, trying to explain what fraud means to two children sitting patiently in their car seats in the back, while we listen and juggle and push numbers on our phones to finally get a human voice on the other end and explain what had happened. Chase. Barclay’s. Target.

  • What is your mother’s maiden name?
  • What are the last 4 digits of your social?
  • What is your zipcode?
  • What is your driver’s license number?

I was shaking, the thief had my license too. How could this customer representative ask me for my driver’s license? Bob was driving home because I couldn’t think clearly, I’d been assaulted in every way except physically. I had to cook Sunday dinner for the Bride and Groom, and I had to wait for a lovely police woman to come to my house so I could file a report.

As it turned out, the Target card, the one I only use at Target and must put a PIN number in to use, was the charm. While other cards were declined, the Target card was accepted as a credit card at every store they hit with my wallet. The special wallet I bought to ward off theft with a magical RFID blocking technology is of no use to an old fashioned pick-pocket.

And all that extra added protection Target claimed to have implemented after their 2013 data breach didn’t help my situation at all.

Just now, I realized that my Medicare and Anthem health insurance cards were also in my wallet. I wonder now, if I did begin to die from a broken sense of trust in the world, would my medical bills be paid? I wake up in the morning feeling refreshed until seconds later I remember, and a sense of dread falls over me like a veil. How long does this last? This feeling of incompetence and stupidity? Will it just blend into Alzheimers until the end?

I didn’t know that the banks decline paying for those fraudulent charges, I will not be responsible for them, and that it is the actual store that will have to pay for $700 worth of gift cards. $300 worth of cigarettes. I experienced a theft, but it’s each individual store that is being defrauded. Maybe nobody died, but still. This was my #MondayMood

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