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Nobody Died

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yesterday, Bob attended a zoning board meeting.

Over the years, I’ve attended my fair share of borough council, school board, and zoning meetings as a reporter, taking copious notes and trying hard not to fall asleep on a hard wooden bench, the kind most civil servants prefer. So I opted out of going with Bob and our neighbor Berdelle, even though this was a mid-afternoon meeting and chances were good I’d be wide awake.

It seems yet another company would like a variance in the number of parking spots required for a bar.

We live in a mixed-use, historic neighborhood in Downtown Nashville. Monstrous building cranes do battle every day (not the bird-variety), and explosions pierce the landscape rippling through limestone bedrock. We are about to get thousands of new jobs downtown thanks to the Amazon Empire. Being a most popular city is a blessing and a curse. Small shacks are selling for half a million dollars, only to be demolished and replaced by two “tall skinny” houses on one lot. Tall apartment buildings are rising quickly along, dwarfing smaller homes like ours,  and real estate prices are still climbing.

So it’s no wonder that regular people cannot afford to live here. The large, stately, historic Victorian brick homes sell for more than a million dollars and are being snatched up by LLCs – lawyers, dentists, shops and restaurants mingle closely with residential properties. Pretty soon our riverfront is going to be developed, and traffic lights just might find their way onto our streets, instead of the comforting four-way-stop sign.

But back to yesterday. According to our metro government zoning code, bars must have one parking spot per 75 sq ft! This particular big, brick building was 3657 sq ft last year, but the proposed bar reduced it to a smaller size requiring 36 parking spaces! Out in the back is a tiny residential slab for parking maybe 3 cars!

The lawyer for the bar thinks that street parking, and a paid parking lot a block away will magically make up for their lack of spots. The zoning board tabled their request thanks to Bob and our neighbors showing up.

Another local bugaboo has been tabled recently; Mayor Briley’s idea to install a bunch of parking meters downtown. This was the Tennessean’s take on the matter:

“Nashville is in a rush to secure a deal to outsource its public parking.The solicitation for proposals from private companies to take over its on-street parking operations asks for $30 million up front to take over the city’s work.

The winning bidder — which would also pay the city its current net revenue parking of $1.5 million — would manage the city’s parking spaces, issue tickets, collect fines and issue permits for valet parking, loading zones and street parking permits in residential areas. It would be a 30-year deal.”

I wonder where Bob and I will park ourselves in the next 30 years? After all, Great Grandma Ada is turning 95 next week and she’ll be the first to tell you she never saw herself living in TN! Will we eventually find a beach house? Stay tuned to our adventure in aging and fighting for residential parking permits! Here I am in front of the old slaughterhouse by the river which will soon become condos.

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  1. Nobody has to win! Honestly, marriage is not a game, it’s more like an endless marathon. Whenever you come across a problem, don’t just ignore it, it will become infected. 99% of conflict happens when one person is feeling ignored, so listen. Really listen, and think about your own contribution to the problem. Put down your defense mechanism, and pick up your empathy.
  2. Change it Up! An endless marathon can get boring, but not if you take some long, windy roads along the way. Sure there’s something to be said for consistency, but people change, and so will your relationship. Once you were a young mom, writing for a newspaper, and now you’re an old nana writing a blog. In between, you raised two kids, tried your hand at medical coding, helped a friend open a knitting store, went to grad school, and sat on a school board seat. Keep growing and your relationship will keep blooming.
  3. Stay True to Yourself! Okay so you’re married, that doesn’t mean you must do everything together. Two fully formed adults can’t really become one living, breathing personality. I love to dance, and play games, like tennis or cards. Bob has two left feet and has absolutely no interest in anything remotely competitive. He is a pilot and loves to fly, I have a white-knuckle fear of flying. Hey, if we went on Match.com there’s NO way this algorithm would work! Yet, here we are.
  4. Be Supportive! It’s the little things that count. A friend once told me her husband always keeps her favorite drink in the garage refrigerator, and refills the kitchen fridge without being asked… imagine not having to ask your husband to do something around the house! For me, it’s the Keurig. When I stumble into the kitchen in the morning and the coffee reservoir is filled with water, I know Bob loves me.
  5. Conduct a Performance Review! We used to have 5 year plans that we’d discuss on our anniversary. Where do we see ourselves in 5 years? But now that Bob has retired and we’ve had a few medical scares, we’ve decided every year on our anniversary to have a critical conversation. We’ll discuss what we’ve done right in the past year, what we’ve managed to bungle, and what we want to do better in the coming year. After all, time is flying – this life is short.

After 40 years as husband and wife, we decided to see where this next year will take us. I’m finally feeling at home in Nashville, and Bob’s thinking about joining a flying club. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always 50 – 50. Sometimes I’m giving 80% and sometimes I’m giving 20%, but the trick is to not give up on one another. As Sally Field once said, “Go into the heart of the Dragon.”

Here is Bob at 70, making me my very first Chai Tea smoothie!

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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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I kid you not. This past weekend, Bob and I were hosting the Grands for their second sleepover. And what’s a better way to start the adventure than a chocolate factory tour? Especially if your tour guide’s name is Willy?

He stood there mute for a few seconds as we started to giggle, then he told us he’d heard ALL the jokes so we could move on.

And move on we did! Willy told us that cacao pods come off of the tree’s trunk, they are not hanging at the end of branches, and it takes some effort to climb up a tree and machete them down. And unlike coffee beans, they need more heat to grow, so the pods only grow from a distance of 20 degrees from the equator.

And every week Willy opens a 100 lb burlap bag of cacao pods.

(The rest of this story is by the Love Bug)

“And inside every cacao pod are 50 beans! Willy has to separate the beans from the fruit inside – it’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it! The beans have to get roasted in a big machine, and that can take from 15 minutes to a whole hour. Then they go into another machine that grinds them into “nibs,” which produces the cacao butter.

Next, the nibs get tempered! They go into a vacuum oven where they get melted and cooled quickly – how quickly could you melt them? This takes about an hour altogether and flavors are added. Flavors like: sea salt; salt and pepper; coffee; bourbon; and cinnamon. Then Willy squeezes them from a tube into molds to shape the chocolate – not all are shaped like rectangles, some bars are square, and even some look like sausages!

But they’re not.

The only time Willy gets a break is when a special machine wraps the bars. In the past, he had to do this by hand, and it took him 3 hours. Now it’s done in 30 minutes.”

Today Ms Bug is visiting and she loves to write stories too. We had the best time at the https://www.oliveandsinclair.com/ chocolate factory in East Nashville. We all had to wear hairnets which was funny! And we are wondering if you’d like to work in a chocolate factory too? If you do, just do it!

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Displacement

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Growing up, I’d never heard of Dorothea Lange. There were no Women’s Studies courses in the 1960s. We knew about Doris Day and Eleanor Roosevelt and sometimes I’d dream about marrying a prince like Grace Kelly – hey, she was born in Pennsylvania like me. And there was always Brigette Bardot and Marilyn Monroe just in case I aspired to be a sex symbol? On second thought, I really wanted to be a comedienne like Carol Burnett.

But Bob and I wanted to see the Frist exhibit of Dorothea Lange before she left the building – the museum is the actual/original Art Deco Nashville Post Office and always amazes me. The exhibit is scheduled to close this weekend so we boogied downtown the other afternoon; I’d admired Lange from the moment I heard about her, a photographer who documented the real human toil of the Great Depression. https://fristartmuseum.org/calendar/detail/dorothea-lange

I wasn’t expecting to cry. I was so moved by her images of families displaced by the economy and dust bowls. Lange is famous for her portraits of migrant women, both white and black which was unusual in itself, but when we got to the pictures of Japanese families sitting, patiently waiting to be deported to internment camps, surrounded by their bags, I wept.

The children had government ID tags on them.

I was touched because I knew that feeling, displacement. It was in my bones and it has never left me.

 

 

 

 

 

Things are heating up here in Nashville. Literally. Temps are headed into the 90s this week, and Bob got the gas fire pit to work just in time for summer. Naturally I decided to make my famous not-too-spicy-turkey-veggie chili last night; always a good way to get rid of all the remaining vegetables lurking in the fridge, including some parsnips that were sprouting greenery.

On Sunday our little neighborhood had its annual “Sip and Stroll” garden guzzle! Basically it’s a good excuse to drink with your friends and neighbors whilst walking around outside. A truck leads the way to 5 gardens with wine and beer on tap! Last year we had a blast, so I packed up my insulated summer wine goblet and headed east. The magnolias are in bloom, redbuds are leafing out and flowers were everywhere – lucky for us, when the rain finally exploded, we could take cover inside an open garage.

My 92 year old neighbor Berdelle’s son was in town for another outdoor lesson in T’ai Chi on Saturday. I loved practicing under the trees in her secret garden with 7 other women, listening to the haunting sound of a train whistle among the bird songs. It transports you to another time and place. I remembered all my attempts at gardening; my border of rosa rugosa in Rumson, my feeble plot to plant fig trees in Charlottesville just so the deer could enjoy them.

This morning is T’ai Chi at the Y and I’ll ask Berdelle if she’d like to attend a rally right after our class downtown to support Planned Parenthood. Maybe we will laugh about the “great” state of Alabama because in the darkest time we must find humor. AL has added insult to injury today – not only did it pass the most restrictive anti-choice bill in decades, its public television station has refused to air a cartoon episode of an anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur! Why?

Because Arthur marries his same-sex partner. Oh the humanity!

The Bride’s friend Tamara from Duke wrote an excellent article about her abortion, or involuntary miscarriage, years ago that still rings true. I double dare any anti-choice person to read it! https://www.huffpost.com/entry/heartbeat-involuntary-miscarriage-and-voluntary-abortion-in-ohio_b_2050888

Ultimately, these TRAP laws and heartbeat bills are incremental infringements on our constitutional rights as Americans. They are lead by far-Right zealots who would like us to follow their own brand of religion, which tells them that marriage is between a man and a woman and that life begins in the womb, with no exceptions.

Not even when a fetus has no brain tissue and would never survive after birth, not even if a child is raped… They really need to stop legislating a woman’s uterus! Our First Amendment guarantees our freedom from religious tyranny, of any kind. That’s why our ancestors immigrated to this country.

So I’ll put on my big girl boots and march again this morning for #StoptheBans after T’ai Chi, I’ll donate to Planned Parenthood, and maybe I’ll break out my insulated wine goblet too. I’ll carry a sign and chant a chant. I’ll stop to smell the gardenias and keep fighting as if my grand daughter’s life depends on it. She’s got the bees knees!

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