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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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It was almost midnight on Valentine’s Day. After two flights and running through Dallas International, Bob bought me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup at a gas station outside of Dulles. This is my absolute favorite candy, so nobody can say he isn’t a romantic! Bob isn’t the flower and heart-shaped box of bon bons kinda guy… still, this feminist never aspired to be treated like a queen, or a princess for that matter.

I thought about a lunch table conversation we had a few days earlier with the Love Bug. Her Dad, the Groom, was schooling her on the difference between “Real” and “Not Real.” She is only four, so I was thinking a little magic might be in order, but he was serious. Dinosaurs are tricky, since they were real, but aren’t around anymore. Of course monsters are definitely NOT real. And then we came to princesses.

The Groom explained about cartoons. I remarked that a certain guest at the wedding actually worked at Disney. The Love Bug brought up Pochahontas – which as we all know was really a Native American princess of sorts. And then the Bride chimed in with Princess Kate, so as much as this generation of parents would rather their daughters play sensibly with gender-neutral toys, sometimes little girls just have to be pretend princesses.

In fact, Aunt KiKi (aka Ms Cait) looked just like a princess on her wedding day last week.

In REAL news today, a princess in Spain will not be going to the tower, uh jail.

A Spanish court on Friday acquitted King Felipe VI’s sister, Princess Cristina, of charges that she helped her husband evade taxes, in a case that shamed the royal family. Her husband, however, Inaki Urdangarin, was given a jail sentence of six years and three months for siphoning off millions of euros between 2004 and 2006 from a foundation he headed in the island of Majorca.  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/verdict-due-spanish-royals-fraud-trial-041850122.html

It’s always hard to return to the Real World after a vacation. No more swimming in a warm pool, followed by a warmer hot tub. No more bocce ball. And since we had scheduled some tile work for this week, I am stuck at home. Trying to return to this time zone, doing laundry, catching up with myself. And yesterday I made the mistake of watching a “so-called” press conference.

To use a British term, I was gobsmacked! Mr T toyed with the press and our allies like that killer cougar, P-45 the King of Malibu, who is stalking the hills of LA. “The “P” comes from Puma concolor, the species whose common names include puma, panther, catamount, cougar, and mountain lion.” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/13/lions-of-los-angeles

You’ve seen how a house cat plays with a mouse I’m sure, just imagine this puma killing an alpaca. Mr T smiled and teased the reporters, threw out blatant lies, and pontificated to his heart’s content. He won’t tell us what he’s going to do with that Russian ship, he said with a gleam in his eye.

This cannot be real. Am I the only one frightened by his rhetoric, his stupidity, his apparent need for self-aggrandizement. We have a wild, uncontrollable, narcissistic president who would be king, and Princess Ivanka needs to school him, and tell him he has no clothes.

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…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

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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

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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

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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

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“…cause I’ll never stay,” said Lesley Gore in her 1964 song, “You Don’t Own Me.” It was a feminist anthem long before its time and I was sad to hear of her passing this weekend at the young age of 68 from lung cancer. We lost a beautiful woman and a talented singer/songwriter while celebrating St Valentine and flocking to the latest bondage movie, “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

Fifty years later, women must still remind men that we cannot be owned, our bodies will not be legislated, and our minds are not built for submission, unless of course you like that sort of thing. I’ve been strolling down memory lane lately because a friend has reminded me that my 50th High School Reunion is fast approaching; the Dover High School Class of 1966 is gearing up to party like it’s, well 1966.

“Oh, I don’t tell you what to say
I don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you.”
— Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”

I met my husband our Freshman year in high school, by Junior year we were dating. It was a short-lived romance since, once in college, he went to Woodstock and I went to Westchester. But we never really lost touch, and who knew that 70% of couples who reunite with their first loves would find love again? At the ripe old age of thirty we married, and Bob is still playing the Nathan to my Adelaide.

Fifty years later, we were talking about the wind this weekend. And Bob recalled how he had been blown off Windsor mountain when the Bride was just a baby. His little white Honda was wheels up in a snowdrift on the side of the road, and he was hanging from his seat belt upside down, watching his coffee drip from the door frame.

Luckily he walked away and someone stopped on the road and picked him up. But what if he couldn’t unlock his seatbelt? What if no one came along? In his line of work, and with my history, we’re both aware of how your life can change in a split second. I couldn’t even imagine going through this life without him, without my son who was not yet born.

No, he doesn’t own me, but he signed a long term lease on my heart. Today I’m dreaming of warmer, tropical winds, and I’ll let him take the helm if the water gets choppy. Sao Mai CLR Sunset 0208

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