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Today is election day! Here’s something everyone can agree should happen, whether you’re red, blue or purple – it’s time to pass the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT!

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the state that brought us so many founding fathers/presidents, the state who’s motto is “Virginia is for Lovers,” stood up for all of us and passed this long-suffering amendment to the Constitution? We only need ONE MORE STATE to ratify the ERA! Why do we still need this you may ask:

“Because women don’t currently have equal protection under the United States Constitution. By some estimates, 80 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that women and men are guaranteed equal rights, but the only right the Constitution explicitly extends to both men and women is the right to vote.

The E.R.A., a proposed amendment to the Constitution, would guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It would also require states to intervene in cases of gender violence, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment; it would guard against pregnancy and motherhood discrimination; and it would federally guarantee equal pay.”

nytimes.com/2019/02/22/us/equal-rights-amendment-what-is-it.html

What? We know domestic abuse is a contributing factor in our country’s gun violence epidemic. Abusers could not escape over state lines. This is also why some work places may only grant very limited “Maternity” leave, and not “Family” leave. This why women, for the most part, make 80 cents to a man’s dollar. And I’ve already reported the case of Trans-women discrimination being considered by SCOTUS right now! https://www.businessinsider.com/gender-wage-pay-gap-charts-2017-3

Even though over half a century ago women were granted the Equal Pay Act, we are far from fulfilling that goal. At least we can still vote thanks to our Suffragette ancestors 100 years ago, when Tennessee was the last state to ratify that amendment, and we’re still bragging about it today!

So, what do you say Virginia? Earn a bit of bragging rights too. The rest of the South looks up to you, and you know it’s the right and proper thing to do! Here is the Bride in the Blue Ridge with her Flower Girl V, who was just visiting us yesterday!

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I was talking with Great Grandma Ada this morning and I mentioned that disrespect, or its evil cousin “contempt,” is a most toxic part of some marriages. I figured this marriage counselor had seen her fair share of marital discord over the years. We started off discussing how Pompeo is holding Congress in “contempt” by refusing to hand over documents relating to our President’s abuse of power in Ukraine, and now VP Pence has joined this “League of Sycophantic Gentlemen Eager to Ignore a Subpoena!” 

Ada pivoted immediately from politics to personality. She told me how she had always wanted to do a study of newlyweds, specifically of videos detailing how they handled the whole wedding cake situation. I blurted out, “Oh, you mean did they smash a piece of cake into each other’s mouth?”

“Yes,” she said, she could usually predict if a relationship was going to last by the way they fed each other cake on their wedding day.

Nine years ago, my reluctant Bride was having nothing resembling a huge, monstrous, wedding cake at her ceremony in an apple orchard. No, she chose cupcakes that would be named after her dogs – Bailey’s Irish Cream and Guiness’ Dark Chocolate – and since we didn’t have an MC to set aside a special time for cutting a cake, guests were served their tiny sweets during the reception on a rooftop downtown. I added small maple sugar candies, the kind the Bride loved as a child in the Berkshires.

They went so fast, I’m not sure if the Bride and Groom even tasted them?

Their marriage has grown into a mutually supportive, loving and respectful partnership. Getting along with your partner in the good times is easy; but getting along through grueling residencies and fellowships, punctuated even now by weeks of MICU on-call-endless nights and emergency phone calls, takes commitment and courage to a new level.

Ada brought up Melania Trump, how she slapped her husband’s hand away. I mentioned a recent video montage of world leaders looking disgusted and appalled at Mr T’s remarks. What are the signs of contempt?

“Here’s some common signs that contempt is underlying the negative tone in a conversation.  Eye-rolling suggests contempt.  An upper lip raised on one side suggests contempt.  So does a sarcastic tone of voice.  Beware if you have these habits, and also if you have been on the receiving end of these negative communications. They are sure signs that someone is not listening or listening to deprecate you (or you to deprecate your partner), not to gain understanding.

Empathy and contempt are polar opposites.  Empathy involves caring about others feelings and concerns.  Contempt is arrogant (“I know best”) disregard, dismissal and denigration of others’ concerns.  Empathy nurtures relationship bonds; contempt invites relationship and marriage problems.”  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201303/how-contempt-destroys-relationships

Will House Democrats have the WILL (I was going to write a different word, but after having to look up “BLANK Strap” thinking Mr T meant “boot strap” which he didn’t, I thought the less coarsening of language the better) to impeach? What will it take for this League of Sycophants to release the documents desired so that articles of impeachment may be served? Will they claim executive privilege once again? Shall we remain a sovereign state? These old white men are in contempt of court and we are a nation of laws. Straight jackets have come to mind.

Meanwhile, here is the Love Bug learning how to decorate a cake. It’s up to us to model  empathy, to teach kindness.

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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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Remember that slogan? Some Mad Man thought it up in 1969, and it has since crossed over into our collective history as one of the most iconic ad campaigns. Coming on the heels of the 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving v Virginia, that ruled “anti-miscegenation” statutes are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, it seems fitting.

In other words, Love is Love and if you wanted to marry someone of a different race, that was your right!

The Bride is the reason we moved to Virginia. We built our “Not Sooo Big” house, she married her Anatomy partner, and this weekend they are both back in Virginia at the Groom’s brother’s wedding. The Love Bug is a Flower Girl, and L’il Pumpkin is looking oh so suave in his tux with the fish taco bowtie! Big Dan is getting married and I couldn’t be happier, especially when my cell dings and I get another picture!

But happening in the midst of their joy, in Virginia Beach, twelve people lost their lives, because a man could purchase “legally” as many guns as he wanted to walk into a building and shoot his co-workers.

I cannot watch the news coverage. I cannot listen to journalists try to figure out the murderer’s motivation. Or tell us how courageous the police force was… because this is INSANE.

I was in Virginia Beach when the Rocker was playing at a bar with the Parlor Mob. I drove from Cville, picked up my younger cousin Beth in Richmond, and we had a Girl’s Night! It was the first time I saw the Rocker play a keyboard and dance a little. The Bride studied and worked in VA Beach at Planned Parenthood, before she applied to all the VA medical schools. Bob has flown into that airport many times.

We were sick the weekend we moved to Nashville, when white supremacists marched on UVA’s Lawn. We love Virginia.

Life is often like this, periods of intense joy punctuated by sorrow. While the Bride was marrying her Groom on a mountain overlooking Monticello, our good friend’s mother was dying. He didn’t tell us that night. But she was over 90 – she didn’t just show up at work and not come home.

Nearly 100 people are shot and killed in this country every single day….what is the definition of crazy?

You expect change, yet you do nothing. Vote the GOP out of office. Work for comprehensive gun control. DO something, join Moms Demand Action https://momsdemandaction.org/, contribute to the ACLU https://www.aclu.org/, because it’s only a matter of time. We are habituated to gun violence, it’s our greatest national sin.

Here is Uncle Dan and Aunt Natalie today in Virginia, with two flower girls and a ring bearer in a fish taco tie, for an extra measure of Love. Congratulations to the newly married couple.

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This past weekend back in Nashville, Bob and I stole the Love Bug for an afternoon. Our local Nature Center, Shelby Bottoms, http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Nature-Centers-and-Natural-Areas/Shelby-Bottoms-Nature-Center.aspx sits on the side of the Cumberland River with tug boats pushing gigantic barges right by lovely hiking trails. And to mark the Center’s 10th Anniversary, they had a party with wood cutting artist, Julie Sola, engaging people of all ages. Julie had prepared gorgeous cuttings of local birds and taught the Bug how to roll on the ink and press out a design.

And of course, we had birthday cake!

Today, the Supreme Court will take up the merits of wedding cakes. One might think that if your business was a bakery, you should not be able to discriminate against anyone…for any reason. But this particular baker in Colorado refused to create a cake for a same-sex couple, and now he gets to plead his case before the highest court in the land. In a way around the issue, his lawyers have framed the argument differently:

In June, however, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the baker’s claim that designing a custom wedding cake involves expression. If so, forcing him to design a cake that violates his views conflicts with the freedom of speech protected by the 1st Amendment, his lawyers say. The justices will not hear his separate claim that requiring him to make a custom cake violates his right to the “free exercise” of religion also protected by the 1st Amendment.”                             http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-court-wedding-cake-20171205-story.html

Now I’m not a lawyer, but “free speech” and the “free exercise of religion” have been used as synonyms by the Religious Right for ages. Let’s put the Ten Commandments up in our court house square, let’s all hold hands and pray before the football game. It’s like they forgot why our country threw off the yoke of Great Britain in the first place – the Anglican church didn’t speak for Thomas Jefferson. In fact, he wrote his own Bible! “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” which omitted pretty much every miracle in the Bible because our Founders believed in science and reason.

You’d have to think Jefferson would have fought against Climate Change from the get go, and not worried over Personhood claims, or cakes for that matter.

When the Bride and Groom married on the adjoining Blue Ridge mountaintop to Monticello, they disdained the traditional wedding cake. My reluctant Bride wanted cupcakes, there would be no ceremonial cutting of the cake and smashing a piece into someone’s mouth. They incorporated Jewish and Christian tradition into their ceremony, including a reading of “The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real.”

Christianity is, after all, a Jewish sect that got really really popular. But what if Judaism was the dominant religion in this US of A? Or Hinduism? Should our restaurants only serve dairy and meat on different nights? Or maybe only serve vegan meals? And btw, we only create gluten-free wedding cakes for couples who fit our limited, fundamental definition of the Bible…

If you want to go to pastry school, but you don’t want to bake a cake for a black and white couple, or an immigrant couple, or a hillbilly couple, or a mixed-faith couple (you get the drift) then just make baking your hobby. Pick something else, be a dog catcher, or an electrician. Be a park ranger! Don’t bother the Supremes with your myth.

I’ve been telling my grands that when I cook, I add this very special ingredient, TLC. And they totally get it – from carrot cake to lasagne, there is no room for hate in my hands.

The Love Bug wanted a piece of the Shelby Bottoms’ birthday cake with the red balloon, so of course I skillfully executed the perfect slice for her. Julie talked about her children’s book, the story of a dog named Milo, while the Bug recounted our story of Miss Bean catching a bird in mid-flight, right before our very eyes. I screamed and made her drop the poor thing. Then she displayed her creation. My Grand Daughter had drawn flowers and stars on the paper before adding the chickadee print. And it was pretty darn sweet!

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When the Rocker was in high school, he’d often say goodbye like this, “Peace out.” With his heavy/metal/grunge band in our garage, it really was peaceful when he left for school. And I’d remember the Flapper telling me that I will miss all that commotion when I’m old and grey. She was right.

Another catch phrase of the turn of the last century was, “Keeping it real.” It seemed to be the motto of his generation: be true to yourself, don’t be a poser, do the right thing. My son was voted the “Most Changed” in high school, probably because he started out looking like the rest of his class (beach/boy/prep) and ended up with dreads, on his way to rock stardom imho.

He was keeping it real, he was growing and changing. Some people I’ve found, never quite climb out of high school. Others learn to transcend its harrowing halls.

I listened to the podcast This American Life on the car ride to Nashville yesterday, titled “To Be Real.” It spanned a few topics, but the one I found most interesting was about North Korea – how we don’t seem to take Kim Jong-un seriously with his photoshopped ears and Russian hats. It links you to an informative podcast about nuclear proliferation  http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/podcast/ A nuclear physicist wants us to pay attention!

So what is real and what is superficial? Ira Glass explored magic and the bespoke porn business next. Yes, you heard me right, it seems that with all the free porn online, the film industry has adapted itself to create custom videos for its customers. Who knew?https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/620/to-be-real

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see

Tomorrow Queen, or whatever is left of the original band, will be playing in Nashville at the Bridgestone arena. American Idol alum Adam Lambert has replaced Freddie Mercury but nothing can replace his lyrics. He was an original.

And today is the Rocker’s birthday! Thank you for being in this world, for bringing us love and laughter, and music only you could see and play. For being a tolerant little brother and exceptional son. We hit a few speed bumps along the way to maturity, but you handled them with grace. I had an abiding trust in your character and your talent.

Marrying your beautiful bride this year was the icing on your birthday cake! You have always made me proud, and scoring the Dunkirk trailer, working for Christopher Nolan, made my heart explode exponentially. http://www.dunkirkmovie.com

Happy Birthday DJR, and thank you for always being real.  DAVECAITLY-056 2

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…and counsel in private.” I’ve heard Bob say this any number of times, it’s a management strategy. You just don’t dress down your colleagues in a committee meeting. I’ve heard this wise advice as a young soccer coach to my son’s team. Don’t humiliate a child in front of his team, goes without saying, no? I’ve heard it while studying for an education degree; ask to see the student after class, or walk out into the hall with a disruptive or disaffected student. Never, ever lash out verbally in the classroom.

Not like the old days, when Sister Mary Claire felt just fine swatting the back of my knees in front of everyone. Which served its purpose well, I still hate chewing gum.

Well Bob has been trying to get this point – you compliment publicly, and counsel privately – across to Mr T, every time we heard some scathing news item about his first trip abroad, in particular his public critique of NATO… I could hear Bob grumbling in the background. Thank God Bob is not on Twitter, he’d probably blow a gasket like that angry cartoon character in Inside Out!

Let’s just admit it, we have a buffoon for a President. He rides on a golf cart in the streets of Taormina, Sicily, behind all the other G7 leaders as they walk together. He needs his own Pope-mobile cause he’s so tired. How many remember the outcry when Hillary stumbled to her car while working with the flu. The silence on the Right is deafening.

They walked the 700 yards from the traditional G7 group photo, taken at a Greek amphitheatre, to a piazza in the hilltop town, but Mr Trump stayed behind until he could take a seat in the electric vehicle,” The Times reported. It also noted that Trump arrived last for the photo as the 6 other leaders stood waiting for him.

And then, Mr T pushes the newest member of NATO out of the way for his photo op?! Forget about the French handshake (actually the French kiss hello but we all know that wasn’t happening), the flapping of Melania’s hand at his (“Stay away from me you crass, crass man”), we now know that Saint Angela can see the writing on the wall.

To think that he has managed so much destruction of foreign alliances in so little time is mind boggling. I believe Mr T is tired, and I think he wants to rule like Mr Putin, he knows that whatever he says or does will be forgiven by his adoring fans. No matter that his most triumphant feat of travel was getting “triumphant” arms deals with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country with a history of civil rights abuses who sent their terrorists over here to learn to fly planes without landing them…to attack Mr T’s own emerald city and our Pentagon.

Trump enthusiastically participated in a symbolic funeral for the Arab uprisings by embracing repressive leaders such as Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. No activists, civil society leaders or intellectuals were present, and Trump explicitly disavowed any pressure to alleviate their suffering at the hands of abusive regimes. Arab regimes will have ample opportunity to continue their long practice of manipulating the discourse of terrorism to justify the wide-scale repression of civil society, independent media, and political dissent.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/05/22/what-kind-of-deal-is-trump-making-with-saudi-arabia/?utm_term=.fa7cef71dc03

Let’s not forget that Mr T made a deal, a 110 Billion dollar deal, for weapons/arms/defense so that our proxy war with Iran can continue unabated. Hawks can rejoice on the Hill, our leverage in parts of the Mideast is secure . But what about the Putin/Trump bromance? And what about Iran’s election of a moderate leader? Oh and that nasty story about Russia influencing our election. #whataboutheremails??!!

There was little fanfare this Memorial Day weekend when a judge dismissed the suit against Hillary over Benghazi deaths and her emails. Nor were there many pictures of her walking in the Memorial Day parade in Chappaqua, NY. Walking in the rain, not riding in a golf cart.

I have no doubt that Hillary’s experience as Madame Secretary, combined with her law degree and experience as a mother and FLOTUS, would have taught her eons ago that little golden rule about complimenting publicly, and counseling or criticizing privately. I also doubt that the current President can be taught anything about diplomacy, foreign or otherwise.

Meanwhile, on a happier note, the Bride and Groom stopped by on their way to a Cville wedding this weekend. The visit was too short, but the force in this marriage is strong!

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