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Archive for the ‘an expository essay’ Category

But Mr T plays one on TV.

He says we should probably wear masks, but he won’t. Why? Because hey, kings and dictators don’t wear masks behind a “resolute desk.” This guy with the bad spray tan is too vain to model the best defense we’ve got for this “invisible enemy,” besides social distancing. I get why he thinks he’s a king, but how could an inanimate object be resolute? So of course I had to look up the definition of “Resolute,” an adjective:

firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion:

characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, actions, etc.

I think we can all agree a desk cannot feel resolute, but Mr T is resolutely set in his opinions. He is vengeful, narcissistic, and mendacious. Maliciously mendacious in fact. I’ve been trying to look for the silver lining in this global pandemic. Bob and I have stopped watching Mr T’s coronavirus pressers, which are just stand-ins for his campaign rallies. I’ll occasionally listen to Governor Cuomo who is the voice of reason these days, along with a real doctor, Anthony Fauci.

Another real doctor is the Groom, who is currently researching that anti-malarial drug that Mr T is so fond of mentioning. His research on this drug started last week, LAST WEEK, along with 40 other institutions across the United States. Until we have any evidence, any evidence at all, it is political and medical malpractice for Mr T to continue to push the idea that we “may” have a possible “cure” for coronavirus.

The Groom is set to be back “On Call” in his ICU in about 2 weeks, right when our curve should hit its peak. This is not a reality show Mr T, and you are not a doctor.

Dr Sanjay Gupta on CNN is another doctor I believe; he’s been saying the same thing my husband, another real doctor keeps saying – the antibody test is going to be critically important. Not just to bring those who’ve recovered back into the workforce, but also to give everyone a certain sense of comfort. After all, my little “cold” right after the tornado may have immunized me already.

Dr Gupta and Bob have also been criticizing our lack of testing in the beginning; seeing how South Korea confronted the pandemic with lots of testing and tracing and isolating is illuminating.

“At the peak, medical workers identified 909 new cases in a single day, Feb. 29, and the country of 50 million people appeared on the verge of being overwhelmed. But less than a week later, the number of new cases halved. Within four days, it halved again — and again the next day.

On Sunday, South Korea reported only 64 new cases, the fewest in nearly a month, even as infections in other countries continue to soar by the thousands daily, devastating health care systems and economies. Italy records several hundred deaths daily; South Korea has not had more than eight in a day.”   https://www.n20/03/23/world/asia/coronavirus-ytimes.com/20south-korea-flatten-curve.html

Of course it’s extremely hard to catch up when your president spends 2 months blaming this pandemic hysteria on the mainstream “Fake” news, like a toddler. Nothing is ever his fault! He is, after all, the greatest living con man with a “…disordered mind, a darkened attic of fluttering bats.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/opinion/trump-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1

My daughter is another doctor on the front lines of this outbreak. She gets out of her car after a shift in the ER, takes all her clothes off and dumps them in their red zone (garage apartment), then takes a shower. Only after that, will she walk across her lawn and enter her home. She has had to reuse her PPE and still worries about possibly infecting her family. I believe every single thing she says.

Our family will be Zooming in for a Passover Seder this week with another doctor in the family, a retired orthopedic surgeon on Long Island. It’s Holy Week for the 2 big religions in our country and I wish you all a peaceful and safe Seder and Easter. And I wish Mr T would let his real doctors do the talking.

Here they were as baby doctors in Virginia!

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We are all figuring out ways to come together while apart.

Bob and I shared cocktail hour one night in a parking lot with neighbors. Some of us sat on tailgates and some got comfy on camp chairs. While keeping the appropriate distance, we got caught up on local gossip – the last time we’d seen each other we were cleaning up the streets after our Tornado.

I like to capitalize Tornado because it seems weighty, and it was my first time cheating death by Mother Nature. And we cannot forget Nashville was already reeling, before our “Stay at Home” order; some of us had no roof, or a home for shelter.

Yesterday we ordered cupcakes from our local bakery, The Cupcake Collection. Mignon is offering curbside delivery! https://www.thecupcakecollection.com/  They had just started up their business again, after losing a good portion of their historic house to record-setting winds last month. I remember the Bride’s Italian Nanny, Giovanna, loved red velvet cupcakes. But we were hoping to celebrate Great Grandpa Hudson’s 94th birthday with some sweet potato cupcakes.

Hudson was a redhead when he was young. He lied about his age to enlist in WWII and served on a ship in the Pacific Theatre. He is the only grandfather my children have ever known since my father died when I was a baby, and Bob’s father, well, he was of no use. My children never met him.

Hudson still serves as Ada’s co-star in Nashville. But when we would visit them in NJ, he was always the fix-it guy, having actually built a hospital in Ghana once upon a time when he was a missionary. He carved gigantic totem poles, fixed furniture, the pool every spring, and any plumbing or roofing problems that might pop up. He was the husband/handyman every woman ever wanted. Over the years, he’d officiate at more weddings than I can count, including the Bride and Groom’s.

We sang the Happy Birthday song to Hudson through a glass window in the vestibule of their assisted living facility. I’m not really sure if he could hear us. Only aides are allowed in and out, but we could talk with Ada through our cell phones. Her spirit is incredible, this virus cannot diminish that resilient light. “How are my babies?” she asked me. So I told her how the Bride is home-schooling, that she has enough PPE for now, and about Dolly Parton’s gift to Vanderbilt. Dolly for President!

She said she likes my red hair, and I told her it was pink leaning toward fuchsia. Leave it to me to decide to color my hair when I won’t be able to see my stylist for awhile.

Bob and I have figured out how to use Zoom, it’s actually pretty easy. I can still take a group Pilates class once a week through my iPad. I only need a yoga mat and a foam roller. I almost don’t recognize myself in that gallery window box – who is that purple headed lady?

Some of you know that I’ve often felt like a character in an Anne Tyler novel, going about her day to day existence, seemingly normal, while balancing an out-of-control inner life. Maybe most writers live in the subtext? It’s certainly helpful right now – in this out-of-control outer life – to stay in the moment, so I thought I’d recommend Tyler’s newest book to you, since we all have a lot of time on our hands. Why not call up your local bookstore?

Her new novel is “Redhead by the Side of the Road.” It’s about second chances, it’s funny and compassionate at the same time. You might want to eat a cupcake while you read it! https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-520904645953AE18-6DD5-4CA6-93ED-99E3EFF69A4C

 

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Hello again. 541 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Davidson County this morning.

TN Governor Bill Lee has finally issued a state-wide “Safer at Home” order.  It’s anyone’s guess if it will be enforceable since he doesn’t like mandates. So before hunkering down for the long haul, Bob and I ventured out to 2 grocery stores; because I tried an Amazon delivery from Whole Foods again, and once you get to the check-out page they inform you there are NO delivery windows.

The Bride told us that a new Turnip Truck had just opened in her neck of the woods – and they have hand sanitizer and toilet paper!!! Plus, they have gloves for shoppers to don at the front of the store! So we ventured out last night around suppertime.

The Turnip Truck is an East Nashville institution. They combine the best of Trader Joe’s with Whole Foods and I always loved shopping there. Their produce is pretty much like going to a Farmer’s Market, plus you know exactly where all their meat and fish are sourced, and the prices are affordable. It is the Portlandia of food emporiums.

It was actually a great experience. The people working there seemed happy and helpful AND they kept their distance. We only picked up a few things since we had a BIG list for the following day, today, at PUBLIX.

Publix has decided to designate the hour of 7am – 8am for senior shopping, (just like Whole Foods which is every day), BUT at Publix it’s only TWO days a week – Tuesday and Wednesday. What a nuisance. Our local midtown store just recently opened, and it’s smaller and geared toward young, working professionals. We walked in at 7:30 this morning and the workers were stocking shelves and NOT keeping their distance. There were many people shopping who were young, no one was outside screening people.

It was a disappointing trip to say the least, the only plus was that nobody appeared sick. But as we know, the virus can spread before symptoms show up….so Bob and I decided to try and stick with delivery systems only going forward. I’m happy to have a restaurant meal now and then, but cooking is something that gives me pleasure and we need all the pleasure we can find these days.

In fact I love following Nashville’s own Chopped Chef Maneet Chauhan, Ina Garten and Eric Ripert on Instagram. They are always churning out videos of comforting, simple meals you can make at home. Whether it’s watching a pot of Bolognese simmer on Ina’s stove, or watching Eric make a quick chicken and red wine stew, I’m finding myself longing to cook at home.

Except for famous chefs, most celebrity culture has taken a beating in this brave new self-isolating-social-media world. I have to admit I got pretty tired of watching Ellen call all her famous friends and ask what they’re doing. I mean it’s OK for singers to try out some new tunes, but when celebrities film what they are doing in the midst of their gorgeous estates it is a bit tone-deaf.

“Staying home is my superpower,” the “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot reported from her walk-in closet. Ryan Reynolds urged his fans to “work together to flatten the curve” from within his rustic loft. When Jennifer Lopez posted a video of her family sheltering in the backyard of Alex Rodriguez’s vast Miami compound, the public snapped.

“We all hate you,” was one representative response.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/arts/virus-celebrities.html?searchResultPosition=1

I’m staying home for my daughter the Bride, who is working in her ER without enough PPE for everyone, so she is reusing masks and covering N95 masks with homemade cloth masks to make them last longer. I’m staying home for the Groom who is preparing his ICU for the tsunami of patients to come.

Who are you staying home for?

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When I wrote an essay about Prepping, it was almost tongue in cheek. We did order more dog food and got ahead on prescriptions. We picked up some things at the grocery store, including Spam, and my freezer was soooo full. Then the tornado hit – my freezer is now empty.

Oh, and I didn’t buy toilet paper!

Now this tsunami of a pandemic is about to hit us all, and since Bob and I are 71 we’re at risk. We’re both pretty healthy but a virus will not discriminate. We figure it’s best to stay home for the most part, and keep a distance of 6′ if we need to venture out to a store or when walking Ms Bean. In fact, this morning we went to our local Kroger and it was pretty empty of people. Lo and behold, their shelves were stocked, except for toilet paper.

Everyone must think they are still closed because of the tornado!

So, what to do with ourselves while we are stuck at home? I’ve been seeing lots of posts online about parents wondering what to do with their children now that schools have closed for the foreseeable future. Most teachers have sent workbooks home, and there are plenty of online learning opportunities, like this free Scholastic site: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/15/us/scholastic-coronavirus-students-trnd/

But let’s not forget FUN! My suggestions are: 1) Subscribe to Disney Plus, at least you’ll know you can still take a shower; 2) Plan a scavenger hunt around the house; 3) Play games, our favorite card game right now is “Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza!” you can find it on Amazon Prime for $9.99; 4) Recycle all the cardboard boxes you get by turning them into art projects; 5) I love the book “Stitch + String Lab for Kids, 40 creative projects to sew…” by Cassie Stephens. The L’il Pumpkin made an excellent pizza pillow; 6) Involve the kiddos in cooking and baking and they will reward you by actually eating; and finally check out Pinterest!

Now what about us? How are we supposed to stay sane while everybody is avoiding us cause we’re over 60? Since I was raised an only child, I feel as if I have an advantage; after all I love stringing necklaces, reading and writing and cooking – all mostly solitary activities. So I plan on digging out my almost finished novel and maybe actually finishing it! Bob bought a small lawn mower, and planted our raised bed – it may not be 14 acres, but he’s happier with his hands in the dirt.

We’ve got a few streaming sites we need to catch up with – we just started the 3rd season of Mrs Maisel, and I’m loving The Hunters on Amazon Prime. Can’t wait to watch Hillary on Hulu too! And don’t forget The Crown! There’s almost too much content out there now. Some nights we play Scrabble, or just talk and listen to music. I feel sorry for people living alone, so check up on your neighbors.

IN NYC, a woman in my sister Kay’s building called to say her daughter was home from college and could go grocery shopping for her. It’s those random acts of kindness that will keep our society whole, like Italians singing on their balconies.

Here ‘s how I see it. We raised our family in the Berkshires where a good Nor’easter could take out power for a long time – we had a wood stove and snow to play and ski in….We lived on the Jersey Shore where a flood took our cars and old kitchen appliances right out of the garage – we got a generator and moved right back in… With a little common sense and social distancing (and maybe some toilet paper and hand sanitizer which I CANNOT find anywhere) we will all be just fine.

Remember to breathe and try to stay in the present. And limit your news consumption, your mind will thank you. Lotsa love and virtual hugs from Nashville, where the Broadway bars have closed and we have 17  cases of confirmed Coronavirus so far. Here are the Grands shipping themselves back to Hawaii!

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When I first met Wendi, she was holding her baby boy. Her smile was like sunshine as she showed me around the property. We had finally moved to Virginia, and when the Bride and I first saw the house, she had been away on a business trip. My soon-to-be landlord was a fabulous designer, she flew all over the country installing the dreams of her famous clients.

Strangely enough on that crystal clear day in Charlottesville, Wendi was in New Jersey.

But at our first look, her husband, wanted us to rent their guest cottage. He knew the Bride was starting at UVA Medical School, and he was psyched about our Duke connection. As he led us through the main house and into the dining room, where an old Dutch master-like portrait of a man with a beard hung over a sideboard, I wasn’t prepared for this revelation.

“There’s a building at Duke University named after my ancestor,” he said pointing up to the painting, “It’s the Allen Building.”

In fact, Bob and the Bride were well acquainted with the Allen Building. Turns out it was named after a good friend of JB Duke in the early 1920s, a man from Warrenton, NC – George Garland Allen. Allen had started out as a bookkeeper for the American Tobacco Company in 1895, working his way up in the Duke organization.

My new landlord’s Great Grandfather, on his Mother’s side, had been known to say it was easier to accumulate his wealth than it was to give it away.

This didn’t stop us from moving our Welsh Corgi along with big Buddha Bear and Bailey Dawg (the Bride’s Lab) into the smaller “cottage” on their property. Wendi welcomed us with open arms, in fact she collected a menagerie of dogs too – from a sublime Great Dane to another ridiculous Corgi! When we finally built our house overlooking the Blue Ridge, Wendi had 2 small boys, and 2 matching Labs.

In contrast to her husband’s Southern lineage, Wendi was a California girl. She didn’t come from money; she had been a nanny in NY and then went to school for design. She built her own business from the ground up, and juggled 2 children with the demands of her world-wide clientele. I remember distinctly when she told me about this woman who would come in and cook you a week’s worth of meals on a Sunday and put them in the freezer.

Aha, so this was how working women who might jet off at a moment’s notice took care of their family. This was before GrubHub.

Wendi would throw great Gatsbyesque parties around their pond behind their home. She sent her boys to the public school and became one of the fiercest football moms around. She loved keeping tabs on the Rocker, and made sure her boys knew all about his band. When the Parlor Mob stopped by on a swing through Virginia, she treated them like royalty. When I became secretary of the local book club, she’d make a point of attending if she was in town.

She was one or two decades younger than most of us; a doctor, a few lawyers, a few teachers, and me, the one who could make an email list-serve. Wendi’s California blonde exuberance would always add the fun component to our gatherings. After her divorce, she started a new business of high-end consignment pop-ups that housed many of the pieces Bob and I couldn’t carry with us to Nashville.

Last month, after saying goodbye to her oldest son, who was heading to Australia for his college semester abroad, Wendi died tragically, she was only 53 years old. That baby, that I first met on her hip, is now in high school. When my old friend and neighbor called to tell me the news, I was shaking. How can this be? Didn’t I just talk with her about our trip to Tulum? Didn’t I just see beautiful pictures on Instagram of her December holiday in Puerto Rico? She’d found a new love, and life was looking good for my friend.

How can a light like that be extinguished? My lovely, vibrant Wendi, how can this happen? I hope you knew how many people loved you. Your outstanding sons are your legacy, your Valentines in football jerseys. Sleep peacefully dear heart.

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Democrats fall in love with their candidate, Republicans fall in line.

Spoiler alert! The last two (D) candidates to win both Iowa and New Hampshire were nominated and promptly lost their elections – Al Gore and John Kerry. Remember them? Kerry actually criticized Bush for the Iraq war, and let’s face it, that may have been too soon and his running mate, John Edwards, may have been too slick hiding a love child from his wife. But I still fell in love with both nominees, just a little.

This is why I’m not too concerned with the first NH primary today. I want a man (or a woman – love is love) who can flip the Senate blue. I’m waiting to see who will give me goosebumps. The way Brad Pitt did at the Oscars, gently scolding the GOP for disallowing witnesses.

Is it just me, or did anyone else not see any of the Oscar nominated movies this year? Well wait, Bob and I did see the first half of “The Irishman” in our local artsy theatre… but it was getting past someone’s bedtime, so we left via an Uber. Did DeNiro kill Hoffa? I’ll have to catch up on Netflix.

Netflix was the star attraction this past weekend when we joined some friends to watch “Knives Out” at their home. In this historic row house, a screen surprised me descending down a wall, with a projector hanging from the middle of the ceiling. It was almost like going to the movies! I have such serious home envy whenever I set foot in that home.

And to top it off, we had two big, fluffy dogs who would come to attention and bark whenever there were dogs in a scene!

Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery on a cold rainy night? I won’t spoil the plot of “Knives Out” by saying that current political issues figure prominently when the investigator, played by Daniel Craig with a Southern accent, focuses his attention on a nurse named Marta. The privileged white clan/cast cannot seem to agree on what South American country Marta’s family has immigrated from – Paraguay, Ecuador?  https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/11/the-unlikely-hero-of-rian-johnsons-knives-out/602701/

Immigration politics swirls around the story of my night table book, “American Dirt.” First of all, it was one of my monthly First Edition Parnassus Bookclub picks, that arrived in its burlap sack a few weeks ago. I’d already been hooked by American Dirt’s violent opening chapter when I started reading the criticism on Twitter. At first I thought well maybe the author, Jeannine Cummins, isn’t Latina, so undocumented folks and those who love them were skeptical. But she had also initially claimed her husband was an immigrant, without saying he’s from Ireland. Cummins cancelled her book tour.

The novel follows the story of a Mexican woman and her son fleeing to the United States after a drug cartel massacre.
Cummins, who spent five years writing the book, isn’t Mexican or a migrant. The book, which was just published January 21, immediately sparked debate about who can tell what story and diversity within the publishing industry.
It also faced criticism for its reliance on migrant stereotypes, with many pointing out that if an author is going to write about someone different from them, it must be done well. “American Dirt,” some have said, was not — though the book has also been praised by a number of prominent authors.  https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/29/us/american-dirt-jeanine-cummins-author-tour-cancel-trnd/index.html

Is this what we mean by cancel culture? Was Joaquin Phoenix onto something in his Oscar speech before he swerved into the cow/milk controversy? Urban Dictionary tells us this culture is a direct result of social media and people who are, “…quick to judge and slow to question.”

Let’s ask the hard questions of our our Democratic candidates as they head into prime time and super Tuesday. Bloomberg can understand what a single mom is going through, he doesn’t have to be one. I believe a writer should be able to write about anything – a man can write from a woman’s point of view, and vice versa. If I’m writing about the Jewish mob, I need not be a member of that group, I can do the research. And I’m not ready to cancel anyone out of our primary process. I haven’t fallen in love, not yet.

Except for these two chocolate-teeth cherubs!

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Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

What was it about the Nashville Symphony on Sunday night? Steve Hackman, a young conductor from LA, walked out to the podium with his long arms and long curly hair and faced the audience, telling us how he came to compose “The Times They Are A-Changin: The Words and Music of Bob Dylan.” He introduced the first violin; behind the orchestra sat row upon row of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, over a hundred voices strong.

As Hackman raised his baton to conduct one of the first pieces, “Tangled Up in Blue,” I could feel the knot in my throat constricting. Admittedly, I was already feeling blue – from the never-ending rain and the political parody of the last few years – from a week-long insult to our collective intelligence that was playing itself out on the Hill. I was feeling discouraged, resigned to a president who was like a demagogue, with an attorney general guarding his flank, and a lapdog/senator, who did his bidding.

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wondering if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red

As the music swelled and the chorus of voices swept through the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, Bob and I looked at each other. This evening would turn out to be a metaphor for our lives together, for the 60s and the 70s; tender yet explosive at times. We somehow knew, through war and divorce, we would find our way back to each other. We would meet again “…someday on the avenue.” Next came “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

And it ain’t no use in turning on your light, babe
The light I never knowed
And it ain’t no use in turning on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road

I forgot what it was like to be immersed in a musical experience, to close my eyes and allow the strings and chords to penetrate my soul. This wasn’t an Italian opera, the words were in English and they defined my generation. Tears were slowly rolling down my cheeks by the time the chorus began “I Shall Be Released.” Is this a plea for death to come, to cover us like a well-worn blanket? The last phrase is about standing in a lonely crowd, next to a man who swears he’s not to blame…”Crying out that he was framed.”

Any. Day. Now. Any day now, we shall hear what our senators are willing to do to keep their seats, to retain their power. Will they continue to cover-up his perfect phone call? To pretend our president wasn’t granting favors to other authoritarian leaders around the world?

In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, for having created “New poetic expressions within the great American Song tradition.” He put off traveling to Stockholm to receive his medal, finally giving a reluctant speech about his influences in literature from grade school:  “Moby DickAll Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.”  Songs, he tells us, are unlike literature, they’re meant to be sung, not read.”

Finally, Dylan quoted The Odyssey: “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story.”

In this New Chinese New Year, have I become just another Cassandra, writing prophesy that no one will believe, warning my readers that our democracy is at a tipping point. That we are doomed to repeat the past if we simply stand by and do nothing. Nixon knew enough to leave, and Clinton knew enough to apologize for lying. This lying, malicious president knows nothing, which is far worse.

Today is T’ai Chi Tuesday, a form of mindful meditation. I will find my center, and try to balance the dark with the light. I will keep calling my senators, will you?

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