Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Country’ Category

Remember when the Dowager Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey asked her grand daughter, “What’s a weekend?” Well, this past weekend was jam-packed between our new niece’s getaway with girlfriends, to birthday parties. Bob and I took a deep breath and dove right in! You see the Bride was working in the ER and the Groom was in the Medical ICU, so we were prepared to have some super grandparenting Fun.

But first, we went out to dinner with friends. The City House is just around the corner and it’s famous for its pork belly pizza with an egg on top. I know how that sounds, but believe me it tastes divine. This particular stretch of our neighborhood is one of Ms Bean’s favorite spots; and it became our go-to morning walk once I discovered the fig tree behind the restaurant!

Turkish food was next up on Friday when our newly discovered niece rolled into town with her friends. Tamara has a joie de vivre, her smile is infectious. She told me her youngest son is playing the guitar and he can’t wait to meet the Rocker. I told her I’d meet her in the morning at the Mother Church of Country Music for a backstage tour.

Honky Tonk Row was bustling; New Englanders were in town for a game against the Titans. Veteran’s Day became almost an after thought… since I was thinking about the latest mass shooting in California at a country western bar in Thousand Oaks.

The young white man, the killer, was a Marine Vet, and one of the men he shot was also a Marine Vet.

Our newly elected (R) senator from TN responds by saying we “must” protect the 2nd Amendment…

12 people dead, and the NRA tells physicians to “…stay in their lane?” And that became the rallying cry on social media for trauma surgeons and ER docs: #ThisisMyLane.

My lane is a pregnant woman shot in a moment of rage by her partner. She survived because the baby stopped the bullet. Have you ever had to deliver a shattered baby? . What’s yours?

Gun violence is our own personal hell, our beautiful American patriotic duty to defend –  while guns send an average of 8,300 children to hospitals each and every year! https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46186510

I thanked my brothers and my Father-in-Law for their service in Vietnam and during WWII on Facebook after picking up the Love Bug from Hebrew School. I had to pass an armed guard to enter the Temple, I had to go through a metal detector to enter the Ryman the day before. Someone searched my bag. I wonder when my grandchildren will start practicing “active shooter” drills.

The Pumpkin told me he loved the weekend. But he’s conflicted because on the one hand you get to play, but also you have to clean the house! I know what you mean little guy.

IMG_4148

 

Read Full Post »

Let’s take a break from the sturm and drang of politics shall we? Do people ask you where you would most like to live if you had nothing else to consider in the world? Let’s just say you won the Lottery and you have no grandchildren. No ties to any coast at all. Which is not my case, but this is a hypothetical.

Well this week I’ve been reminded of my favorite place because our dear friends came from the Berkshires for a visit. When the Bride was little, we would pack up our cars and take the ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard for a whole month every Spring. Lee is probably my bestest friend, a wild and wonderful woman! She was an Ass’t DA when we first met, at a ballet class, and then opened a private practice in family law. She went to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Princeton, so we would kid around and say we went to different schools together.

At the Rocker’s Bris in August of 1984, she singlehandedly filled my living room with tall, glorious gladiolas!

Her husband Al is retired and Lee is starting to think about retirement too, though she is a bit younger. And they were smart years ago to buy an investment property in Vineyard Haven; although we always rented a cottage on the wild side of Gay Head, a place that dropped off red clay cliffs to a rocky shore and held center stage in my dreams for many years.

This is the place where I imprinted ruggedly beautiful seascapes and rambling rose bushes on the Bride’s baby brain. We would dig up clams on Menemsha Pond in Chilmark and eat them slathered in butter. Lee would bake bread every morning, then we would visit the fish market to plan our dinner. We would ride on the historic Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs, an old and established Black community on the island. The Bride would reach to catch the brass ring, and our dogs would want to jump up and catch it too.

We flew on clam shell roads with the wind in our hair, our bikes with fat tires, taking showers outside that could never entirely wash away the sand.

So yes, there is no other place I love more than The Vineyard! And our President is taking his last vacay there as Commander in Chief.

On the island, Mr. Obama is expected to play a lot of golf and read a pile of books, if his past vacations here are any guide. He may attend a party or two given by friends who also vacation here, but for the most part the Obamas tend to keep to themselves. Mr. Obama is an avid sports fan, and with the Olympics playing on TV, he may have even more reason to remain in his rented house. After so many years of having the president and his family as summer guests, residents here have lost much of the excitement they once showed for presidential visits. The island is a haven for moguls and movie stars, and the Obamas have become part of the scenery.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/us/politics/obama-arrives-in-marthas-vineyard-for-two-week-vacation.html?_r=0

I’m sure he can relax this August, knowing the lead Madame Secretary has secured in the race to the White House; knowing his legacy will be assured. Jobs numbers are good, the market seems to be progressing. Maybe he will play some golf and eat a few lobster rolls? Walk into town for some ice cream?

Sometimes I would run into Carly Simon in town and pretend I didn’t know who she was…because that’s what people did before cell phones and selfies. I hope people leave the Obamas alone. I hope they can actually find a little peace on this island paradise. I’d like to turn off all the political punditry for the next few months.

Cause I haven’t got time for the pain…  this was us in 1981. Menemsha Family 20160808

 

 

Read Full Post »

We will be finishing our unfinished basement in a few weeks, so it’s time to pick a paint color. Last time I picked a color it was Navajo White, remember that from the 90s! Since warmer off-whites are out, and cooler off-whites are in, I’m looking for a pale bluish/grey color at the Benjamin Moore store. Should I stick with pale Moonlight White, or go more saturated with Edgecomb Gray, Silver Gray, or Gray Owl? Wait, what about Beach Glass, I love that name! http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/color-gallery#&ce_vm=0

This is where my horoscope shines through all my disbelief about horoscopes. I’m a Libra, so the scales of justice are blind and I can take weeks weighing and balancing a simple choice like the basement’s new, hip wall color. Funny, cause I can walk into the shoe department at Nordstrom and hear one shoe calling my name.

But the new grey also pertains to my generation. My last blog post on Facebook garnered lots of comments about Bob’s retirement plans; the idea of combining co-housing with sustainable senior living. Friends from his old “hippie house” at Duke, friends who actually did join communes in the 60s, and relatives who lived and worked on a kibbutz all chimed in. My friend Edie from high school told me about this guy, a mere 29 years old, who was  featured on the Today Show – Willie Geist called him a “Disrupter.”

Ash Jacob developed an App for Aging in Place! “With 10,000 people retiring every day in the United States, 29-year-old Ash Jacob is using iPads and other technologies to change the senior care industry.” http://www.today.com/news/29-year-old-uses-technology-turn-senior-care-industry-its-t94056

While watching the video, I was aware that the 90+ year old client had a rep from the App company there, and on the other side of the client sat the actual aide who assists with daily tasks. So what Jacob did was put an iPad in every home to let the family stay informed…when did she eat lunch, what did they talk about…seems counter-intuitive to me. Although it does solve the problem of driving to doctor appointments and coordinating medication, the things a family member might do if they lived in the neighborhood.

Which begs the question for aging silver foxes like us, just HOW do we want to age?

No use fighting it with creams and potions, it’s a fact of life. Would you rather stay in your home with an aide doing daily chores and an iPad to communicate or alleviate guilt?  Or would you rather live in a community with like-minded people, a new tribe so to speak, and share the resources. You know Bonnie cooks for four households, Ronnie mows the lawn, Nurse Johnny drops in as needed? There would be a van driver, say Moishe, who would drive you to the symphony or the latest climate change protest, or the doctor, or the unveiling. Otherwise you could walk most places, or scoot around on a scooter.

You could participate as little or as much as you like – not a vegan? Start a chili cook-off! Yes, there are big places like this already, The Villages in FL and right here in VA we have Westminster Canterbury (WC) http://westminstercanterbury.org  But you’ve got to buy into places like this, so if you’ve got the money, no problem. Once you walk in, you can move between more or less care needed for the rest of your life! Sigh. It’s the totem pole of life and death – independent living, to assisted, nursing and or memory care, and out the door. This is from WC’s website:

Learning is revered among our residents. Opportunities are abundant for continued education. Developed in association with the University of Virginia, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) conducts university-level classes for older adults. Many classes are held at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge. You might even find your neighbor as one of the instructors. At Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, there is plenty to do, and every day is different. While one day may take you outside of the community to experience lifelong learning, the next day you may choose to:

Walk the Nature Trail, featuring a stocked pond, gazebo, and walking path in a 17-acre protected habitat.
Play a friendly game of pool in the Billiard Room.
Create a stunning arrangement in the Flower Room.

As Ada would say, “You get the picture.” As Sue might have said, “Probably lots of Bunnys in that place.”

But Bob was thinking more of Summer Camp for Seniors, or a Post-Modern Woodstock.  Think of co-operative gardens. A small boutique operation, non-profit, come as you are kind of place, no ‘dressing for dinner,’ near a beach town, with a hot tub. Where everybody has a front porch. Maybe a retrofitted motel or hotel? A bungalow colony?

For me, I’d rather not live an isolated life, connecting with family via App. I’d like to learn how to play Mah-Jong. I’d like to be able to swim in a pool, or the ocean, and take cooking classes, walk my dog, and knit and string beads. And write and travel with Bob some, and make new friends. Maybe still try and make a difference in the world, if that’s not too corny anymore. I want to be near my grands most importantly of all. I don’t want to be an after-thought to them; they will really, really need us in those pre-teenage wonder years. Once they get a license, it’s all over!

I’ve let my strawberry blonde hair turn a golden grey, not a dictionary definition of the color, “…dark, dismal, or gloomy; gray skies; dull, dreary, or monotonous.” No! Grey is the new Platinum, Titanium and Gold. We are all made of fine metal. And 10,000 of us every day are redefining what retirement looks like. Here is my silver fox, who was and is always a disrupter, in his happy place.  IMG_3261

 

 

Read Full Post »

…or determination?

Yesterday, I got up early and drove North to attend the public opening of a community hospital’s new ED. Yes folks, it’s a “department” not a “room,” one of the many changes I’ve witnessed tagging along with Bob over the years. “I can’t run a room,” was his constant semantic complaint. But it seems he can run a department.

When we first settled in the Blue Ridge, I thought it would be like old times. Bob would do some shift work at the local hospital, and we’d slide into a comfortable retirement; plenty of time together to visit grandbabies and pursue some new hobbies, maybe  keep a few alpacas? Or donkeys, or chickens? Then one year in, the Emergency Department Director just up and quits, asking Bob if he’d like the honor!

And just when I thought his directing days were over, he not only took over the reins, he became Chief of Staff and sat on the Board for many years. We had plans to go to Australia for a sabbatical that were put on hold, but we did manage to build our little house with a view. And one day he presented a plan to that Board for a new Emergency Department – they were bursting at the seams and the population was growing. He wanted a state-of-the-art facility and he managed to persuade the leaders and shakers with his constant optimism and tenacity.

Yesterday, the ribbon was cut joining the new building with the renovated old department, virtually tripling the space of the old ED. Twelve million dollars and five years later, the CEO introduced Bob and kindly said this project was his baby, and without his “persistence” we wouldn’t be here. Everyone nodded their heads, because everyone who works with my husband knows he can be pretty determined to achieve excellence in emergency medicine. He wrote the book on managing an ED and he served as President of ACEP in MA when we were young and just starting out in the Berkshires.

Unlike lots of physicians his age, he never gave up on medicine and he taught our daughter to love the profession too. To never forget the sacred trust a patient shares with them.

I was pretty proud of Bob yesterday, but we couldn’t celebrate yet. He had a lunch meeting with a colleague and then he was scheduled to work the 8 hour evening shift. Kudos to Bob, his assistant director Harvey, who followed him here from the Berkshires, and all the nurses and administrators who helped to make this remarkable transformation possible.

Maybe someday he’ll slow down, just a little? 19114_10152801541071943_7135939311025461658_n

Read Full Post »

It just so happens that I read a couple of books on vacation that I would categorize as that heightened, coming-of-age, hormonal soup called YA – or Young Adult Fiction. Pity they didn’t have this category when I was that age, unless maybe “Little Women” qualifies? One book I picked up in the overstocked bookshelves of our villa was, “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. He wrote “Remains of the Day” and the jacket said he was a Booker finalist, so I thought, “Why not?”

The other was “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. This one I found in a French bookstore, and I really should have known it was YA, by the author and the large print, but it was just something for the plane and I figured, “Pourqoui pas?” Also, it was in English.

Ishiguro went big on description, but he hooked me right away. Granted there were no vampires, no Katniss archery-action scenes, in fact, the plot just sauntered along, from the perspective of Kathy, a “Carer,” about to retire from her job. Slowly we learn she’s maybe 30 years old and she’s been doing this Caring business for as long as anybody can remember, 12 years! Her memory is the meat of the story; her two best friends and their time spent at an exclusive boarding school in England.

Spoiler alert, they are all clones! If you love English drama, subterfuge, and mystery, you will love this book.

Ishiguro does not write like a realist. He writes like someone impersonating a realist, and this is one reason for the peculiar fascination of his books. He is actually a fabulist and an ironist, and the writers he most resembles, under the genteel mask, are Kafka and Beckett. This is why the prose is always slightly overspecific. It’s realism from an instruction manual: literal, thorough, determined to leave nothing out. But it has a vaguely irreal effect. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/03/28/something-about-kathy

Bit by bit we finally learn why his characters seem so rigid, so overburdened with angst. Can they be truly human, whatever that means. The author wonders if they have souls. I came away thinking, holy crap, I wonder if this could really happen? Because that’s what great dystopian, sci-fi fiction will do, take us just a few steps into the future. You know if they can clone a sheep, and your pet dog, we humans aren’t far behind.

Lois Lowry’s 1993 book has been made into a movie, so some of you may be more aware of “The Giver.” In this novella the 12 year old protagonist is about to be assigned his life’s work. I thought about French children taking their BAC exams at age 16 or 17, and then being herded into the appropriate training college. Lowry pulls you in by the idyllic family life which seems fine, until you learn what his father actually does as a “Nurturer” and what Jonas’ job will be, the receptacle of the world’s memories. This community, that functions without color, or emotion, needs a scapegoat to remember the past. Rebellious pre-teens of today may find the action short but the overall mood of this little gem is compelling.

It’s always good to learn when everyone is the same, we are all lost. And this morning comes the news that a British author in the fantasy genre has died. ” I can’t imagine a 13-year-old alive who wouldn’t be changed a bit, for the better, by reading Terry Pratchett,” said Caitlin Moran on her Twitter feed. Sir Terry, who looked like a character from Hogwarts, succumbed to Alzheimer’s at the young age of 66. Best known for his Discworld series, he used satire to point out paradox in the adult world and published 70 novels.

“His death was announced on his Twitter account, on Thursday afternoon. The first tweet was composed in capital letters – which was how the author portrayed the character of Death in his novels.” http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-31858156

“AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER,” it stated.

La Librairie a Gustavia

La Librairie a Gustavia

Read Full Post »

The city of Charlottesville has been ordered to halt the enforcement of an ordinance that prohibits panhandling on parts of the city’s Downtown Mall… a federal judge Thursday ruled the ordinance violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

Back in the day, I used to have to rack my brain to think of something to give up for Lent. It would usually be something like soda, or pizza, or ice cream. It just didn’t count if it was something you didn’t like to begin with, like liver. And yes we were very literal, it was always some form of food. Nobody gave up playing basketball for instance. I’m guessing it was the Christian form of fasting, like Yom Kippur or Ramadan. We Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays all year long, then we’d get marked with Ash on Wednesday and asked to stop eating something we loved for 40 days leading up to Easter. Lots of sacrifice, that was us.

Call me crazy, but I’m trying to square this with a federal judge’s ruling about a City Ordinance that Charlottesville enacted in August of 2010. In an effort to appease the business owners on the Historic Downtown Mall, the city created buffer zones to restrict panhandlers/homeless people. The city’s attorney argued this was a safety issue, but Included in the ordinance which distanced solicitation from certain areas on the Mall, was language saying that they could not approach people for money.

Lo and Behold, an attorney representing five homeless people filed their appeal based on constitutional law – saying this restricted their right to free speech. And US District Judge Norman K. Moon agreed with them “The City offers insufficient justification (much less a good explanation) for the fifty-foot measurement of the so-called buffer zone,” he wrote in a 25-page opinion filed Thursday. “There are other laws that permit the City to protect the public safety.”  http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/judge-rules-charlottesville-s-panhandling-ordinance-is-unconstitutional/article_c2ed6ff2-b89e-11e4-a872-e391736e6826.html

In striking down this ordinance, people standing or sitting, holding cardboard signs asking for money with dogs and a duffel bag by their side, are now not only allowed to be wherever they please, they are allowed to approach anyone and ask for money. Because the ordinance was not broad enough, limiting the free speech of pan handlers alone and not, for instance, political petitioners. Since I was once on the Mall hawking my view about the Affordable Care Act, I get it. It does in fact appear discriminatory.

Yesterday, on my way to unfreeze a hot water pipe, I passed by a homeless man standing on the corner to the bypass. I could barely see him, he was covered in rags from head to toe and my car thermometer read 16 degrees. I wondered about his life, what brought him to that corner, and I was strangely glad he didn’t have a dog with him. Because it’s one thing to expose yourself to such weather, and I fantasized for a minute about asking him to get into my car, bringing him to a restaurant for a meal. But the light was changing and I didn’t stop, someone would have plowed into me.

The city has a program for the homeless in this weather, different churches open their doors. But do we follow up with housing for the mentally ill, developmentally challenged all year? Where are the social service programs helping families one rental payment away from eviction? What is the role of government? Let’s not ask what we should be giving up after Fat Tuesday, but how and what can we give back to our community. Existential questions require more than a lawsuit that will pay out a “six figure” sum to the lawyers and the homeless defendants who had their right to free speech violated. IMG_2160

Read Full Post »

It was 8 degrees this morning on my perch of the Blue Ridge. This is nose-hair freezing, eye watering, finger numbing cold, even if we still lived in the Berkshire Mountains. Which we don’t; we moved in part for warmer weather. But mostly to be closer to our daughter. Then she moved, to pursue her ER residency, to the ice capital of the South currently known as Nashville. And we’re all wondering why we didn’t follow the Rocker to LA right about now!

He texted us a weather report for the week – party sunny and 70s all week out there. Which is great since the band is on the Left Coast touring. They started out in LA at the Echo Tuesday night and a little birdie told me it was “…packed to the back.” Guess you can’t say, “…standing room only,” since everybody stands and rocks out all night. To check out their tour dates, and download “Cry Wolf” just skip ahead to their website: http://www.parlormob.com

“It’s the first thing we’ve produced ourselves with no outside involvement from anyone else for about 10 years, since we made our first record,” said guitarist Dave Rosen. “We didn’t really have any concern for anything else other than exactly what we wanted to do. So, we went a little crazy, basically.”

Imagine that, artists writing, recording, producing their own music. Bob was asking me if I ever heard of the Brill Building, sometimes called the Glass Building, and I said, “Nope.” So naturally I got a little history of music lesson. It’s located at 1619 Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan, at the heart of the Theatre District. While we all know about the Motown sound coming out of the Hitsville Studio in Detroit, and Country coming from the Ryman, New York was doing music this way in the 50s and 60s.

“After its completion in 1931, the owners were forced by a deepening Depression to rent space to music publishers, since there were few other takers. The first three, Southern Music, Mills Music and Famous-Music were soon joined by others. By 1962 the Brill Building contained 165 music businesses.”

In essence this was called vertical integration. If a songwriter was looking for an artist and a publisher for their song, this was the place to be. In fact, “There you could write a song or make the rounds of publishers until someone bought it. Then you could go to another floor and get a quick arrangement, lead sheet for $10, get some copies made at the duplication office; book an hour at a demo studio; hire some of the musicians and singers that hung around; and finally cut a demo of the song. Then you could take it around the building to the record companies, publishers, artist’s managers or even the artists themselves. If you made a deal there were radio promoters available to sell the record.” http://www.history-of-rock.com/brill_building.htm

So before the internet, artist/songwriters needed all these middlemen, to get their music off a napkin and out to the public. Carole King had a cubby in the Brill Building, so did Neil Diamond, Paul Simon and Burt Bacharach. The power was in the hands of the publishers, not the artists. Today we have Pharrell Williams, the perfect example of a singer/songwriter/band/member who now runs his own multimedia company, hat and all. I mean I’d be happy too, wouldn’t you?

Happy touring boys, wish I could be at the Vegas show!

at the Echo

at the Echo

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: