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This morning I have two choices – I could write, or I could watch the true crime drama unfolding in DC.

Wait, the January 6 hearing is postponed because someone’s wife went into labor? Great! I can tell you all about my week; the grand event was the installation of the master bedroom closet. Finally. My clothes have found a home! There still may be a handful of boxes left lurking about, waiting to be opened. Like the dream of a second home, the box of sand toys and acrylic wine glasses I reluctantly put away this week.

“These are from my Beach House box,” I told the Groom. The Bride was working a night shift so it was just the boys and the Love Bug as she climbed the step ladder, reaching for my melamine plates high above the refrigerator. I packed that box in NJ a long time ago; back when the Rocker was going off to college.

There may have been a wistful tone to my voice, I’m not sure. But the ‘Beach House’ was one of the last boxes left to unpack, and I knew that once the colorful dishes and beach towels were cleaned and sorted away, my dream of owning a little sliver of sand was over.

On the other hand, unpacking ALL of my clothes was like Christmas morning, every morning for a few days straight. It was also a bit intimidating. I no longer wear high heels, or crew neck sweaters, or anything fancy for that matter. My pandemic style became clear – comfortable cotton things bought at Whole Foods, mixed with an occasional online sale that Instagram knew I wanted. And for some odd reason I’ve accumulated a lot of jumpsuit/overalls? Maybe the result of living in a little city farmhouse.

What to keep and what to give away was becoming less clear. I thought about the Bride asking me how many red shoes I really need. I started asking myself why I have so many summer sweaters when the temps here in Nashville tickle 100 degrees. Then I thought about the stylist who helped me go through my closet before leaving the Blue Ridge – what would she tell me to do?

Find your style! Ha, easier said than done for this transplanted nana. There are the Rumson clothes vs the Southern clothes. Caribbean vacation clothes vs comfy yoga pants and sweats. In a rare moment of synchronicity, Bob and I watched the finale of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. In fact, we loved all seven seasons and 94 episodes! Often I’d find myself wondering if my style was more Lily Tomlin or Jane Fonda…or maybe somewhere in between.

Then I heard about the Coastal Grandma look!

“This week, “coastal grandma” may have suddenly slipped into your vocabulary. The preppy new trend on everyone’s lips is a world away from the micro-minis of yestermonth. Think shingled beach homes, light and airy chambray button-downslinen everything, bountiful backyard gardens filled with various lettuce varieties, and a meticulously maintained chicken coup (an ironic spelling error) with more square footage than a Manhattan apartment. That’s coastal grandma.”

https://www.marieclaire.com/fashion/coastal-grandma-trend/

Eureka! I could relate to that aesthetic and I don’t need to own a beach house to look like someone who owns a beach house. I love cedar shingles, and I always wanted to keep chickens. It’s Bette Midler meets Meryl Streep. So maybe I don’t live on the Vineyard. My new closet already includes lots of linen and straw hats and faded denim. But since I’m living in the Music City I’ll keep all my boots and call my look the Landlocked Nana.

I caught the end of today’s hearing. As Grace said to Frankie on the beach, “Now what?”

Goose!

Guess what? Bob and I celebrated 43 years of marriage this past weekend. We survived the stress of many moves, launching two children into adulthood, and actually building a house together with a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge. We joke that we rarely agree on anything, except the big things in life, like religion and politics. Our old VA Senator Tim Kaine Tweeted this morning:

“Virginia requires magazine limitation for duck hunting—no more than 3 rounds in a shotgun. Why? It’s not fair to ducks. Yet when we try to limit magazines to 10 rounds in Congress, we’re blocked. If we can limit magazines to protect ducks, we must do the same to protect people.

This of course presumes that we want to protect our people, our children.

Bob and I agree on ONE thing for sure – that guns ARE the problem. The Republicans are trying to compromise on guns, but they are still blaming pure “evil,” and mental illness for our country’s outstanding deaths due to… Wait. For. It. GUNS. They would like to arm our teachers, the same teachers they don’t trust to pick out books for their own classrooms. I am trying to imagine my guidance counselor, Miss Toye, with a gun.

I wouldn’t call this compromise, I’d call it treachery.

It’s treating our kids like ducks in a pond, in a war zone. Early in our marriage, we agreed never to buy toy guns for our children, not even water pistols. My husband doesn’t like to play games because he didn’t grow up in a competitive Irish Catholic home and try to win best all around athlete at Camp St Joseph every summer. I OTOH love to play games of any sort!

But do you want to play Hunger Games with your children’s lives? Maybe they could outrun a madman with a rifle if he could only buy 10 rounds of ammunition? How many young lives are we willing to sacrifice for three rounds? I remember all my childhood games – duck, duck goose, hop scotch, red light green light, spin the bottle.

I remember being a young mom, moving back to NJ when the Rocker was two and the Bride was seven years old. I had wanted to stay in the Berkshires. Strangers would always ask me WHY we moved, implying that no one would want to actually move to the Garden State.

I was trying to bloom while my roots were being transplanted.

I resisted the new protocol of having to make a “play date” if my child wanted to play with someone on our street! A play date. That was the first sign that this move would be different, there was no going back. There were rules to these new suburban games. I volunteered to coach the Rocker’s little soccer team, and I drove the Bride to cheerleading practice. I tried to fit in, we all try our best to fit in, don’t we?

Unlike my generation, my children didn’t grow up with an internalized fear of nuclear war. There was no such thing as a cell phone, no social media. Bullies were confined to the school bus ride. No one had ever heard of an “active shooter drill.” Like my Catholic school in the 1950s, only the occasional fire drill could pierce the solemnity of the classroom.

When will the party of the right with blood on their hands, reinstate the assault weapon ban? Ban them for good! No time limits, no concessions. It’s puzzling why a leader on this front hasn’t emerged.

I brought a burnt orange jacket to our anniversary dinner, but it was too hot to wear on the patio. Bob didn’t have anything to wear in orange. Wearing orange is also a start, but we cannot stop the momentum. No one needs an AR-15. No. One.

In Memoriam

This past Memorial Day weekend we stayed home.

We trimmed back the lilacs, and watched the magnolia start to bloom. Bob painted the front porch. We watered the garden and walked the dogs – Ms Bean and her three cousins next door. We were settling into our new/old house. And best of all, we were on Grandparenting Duty (GD), which is very different from babysitting mind you.

Bob and I are under no obligation to “watch” our grandchildren, in fact we relish spending time with them. Our rising 2nd and 5th graders are curious and helpful. While the Groom started his MICU attending duties, and the Bride worked three days straight, the littles just skipped down the street to our house. Our only mission was to ‘feed and water’ them and have fun; to witness the wild creativity of childhood… again.

On our first neighborhood 4people/4dogs walk, I brought up something I heard the Pumpkin say a few times – “What are we going to do when…..” (insert) “… we get home,” “after lunch,” etc. This question always reminds me of the little animated fawn, Bambi, asking his mama what they were going to do today. Children like to know what’s next, they love ritual, but summer was about to begin. School was out! I started to talk to the Grands about “unstructured time.” The Love Bug was all in, the Pumpkin however, differentiated between things we “have” to do vs things we “want” to do.

I could see my little red headed perpetual motion machine was struggling with the concept of just chillin. But research has shown us that time to explore and create and simply PLAY is essential to a healthy childhood. The Bug said, “It’s kinda like recess!” YES

“It’s like we HAVE to walk the dogs, but we WANT to eat ice cream,” the Pumpkin added.

So I asked him, “What would you like to do today if you could do anything you want?” He stopped walking and looked thoughtfully at his older dog who was preparing to poop.

“I’d like to build something with Pop Bob.”

And so they did – they studied and designed a “Lending Library” for our fence – a place for neighbors to take a book and replace a book. They set up shop in our dilapidated garage surrounded by wood scraps and power tools. I made a note to myself to get a big fan for the garage, temperatures were rising toward 90 degrees. And I tried to stay out of their way, only delivering lemonade once. My heart was melting as I watched them work.

The Bug and I cooked a beautiful barbeque dinner for their parents one night. She cleaned and chopped fruits and vegetables, and we talked about random things like friendship and boys. There was a boy at her end of the year school party who wanted to give her a balloon shaped like a heart. But she didn’t want it, and the balloon flew away. I told her she would break a lot of hearts, and she laughed and said I sound like her Mother.

There are mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters who will never get to have these conversations with their children in Uvalde, TX. They will never get to build something with them, or cook with them, or laugh with them again. I am sending them my heartfelt sympathy and reserving my anger for our legislators; the mostly Republican men and women who have so much blood on their hands.

If we cannot ban assault weapons, change the legal age to buy a gun to 21, and pass background checks and red flag laws with a Democratic President, House, Senate and nearly 80% of the people, then we are surely doomed. We have become a country willing to sacrifice our children for the almighty gun dollar.

Just when we thought it was safe to appear mask-less at certain public venues, like the Nashville Ballet this past weekend, Covid numbers are starting to rise. In TN, the average daily number of new cases last week rose by 58%!

“Health officials believe the virus has killed more people than state totals indicate, especially early in the pandemic before testing and effective treatments were widely available. A rise in deaths usually follows a rise in new cases by about a month. For example, after the delta variant caused a surge of new cases beginning in July 2021, the death toll began to climb in August.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/?itid=hp_habit-bar-morning&state=US

The Bride is seeing more cases of the virus, and one by one each Grand reports another student absent from class. Of course this is the last week of school. But I was just beginning to feel like the worst was behind us; like this summer might be especially sweet in our new/old Crystal Cottage. Bob has been replacing ceiling fans and adjusting doors – yesterday he and the Groom switched out a dead foundation shrub for a gorgeous flowering, snowball Viburnum.

Then I noticed a Tweet last week by Bill Hanage, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. It seems there are clusters of “monkeypox” in the UK, Portugal, Spain and Canada!

It is v plausible that transmission has been happening for some time unnoticed because folks don’t expect to see monkeypox and so don’t diagnose it. You hear hoofbeats you expect horses, not unicorns. You see lesions, you don’t expect monkeypox and assume it is something else.”

The good news here is that if you happen to be of a certain age, your smallpox vaccine should protect you; the bad news is the same cannot be said for young people. Smallpox was a dangerous, contagious disease for over 3,000 years and was considered eradicated in 1980. Our children and grandchildren were never vaccinated.

Bob and I did our own Covid/monkeypox research at the ballet. He wore a mask and I didn’t. We’d received a text saying the symphony would not be playing live because of an outbreak of Covid among the musicians. But the ballet would be accompanied by the taped rehearsal music, complete with directions at times. I dream about this very thing! The last time I saw a ballet recital was in Saratoga with Balanchine. We could have exchanged our tickets, but I was there to see the dancers after all.

Some people must have opted out because the theatre was only a third full.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center is like a beautiful cathedral to the arts, its ceiling rising over 40 ft. I figured I’d be safe without a mask, Bob wasn’t taking any chances. On Wednesday, we figured we’d do an at-home Covid test.

But this morning I awoke to two jars of Jiffy peanut butter on the kitchen island. My dear husband, who’d been feeling queasy last night, informed me that PB jars with our lot numbers were being recalled because of salmonella! So in the end, it may be a rotten jar of bacteria that you can’t see, taste or smell that finally brings us down, or I should say ‘him.’ He ate a PB&J sandwich, not me. I’m more of a lox and cream cheese type for lunch.

I made him take his mask off for this ballet selfie

Lost Day

On the day my sister Kay woke from her coma and left the hospital – the same hospital still holding her mother and grandmother captive – the movie “Lost Weekend” was playing at the local Scranton movie theatre. I can see her now, in the back seat of a car, looking at the marquee and thinking to herself, “I lost a whole month.”

The Flapper’s automobile accident had been on the Fourth of July, and Kay was unconscious for a whole month. She’d “lost” the first month of summer picnics and ballgames. It’s a humbling feeling I’m sure to wake up and discover the world went on without you; dogs were fed, gardens watered and someone took care of the baby. No child at fourteen should have to care for her younger brothers, her crippled mother, and a ten month old baby sister. But that was her misfortune, her karma, our Year of Living Dangerously.

This week, the first hazy, hot and humid day of the summer, our air conditioner died and I felt like I lost a whole day.

Bob and I went out to run some errands and returned to a very hot house. The HVAC people who had installed a tankless water heater just a few months earlier, were booked solid. Temps would hover near 90, but they said they could come “tomorrow.” The Bride kindly offered us dinner in her freezing cold house, and of course we accepted. She wanted us to stay in her garage apartment overnight, but we said no thanks.

That night, we opened windows, found a fan, and attempted to sleep. After all, we are both stoic. We grew up without air conditioning, and we never needed it while we lived in the Berkshires.

The next day a young technician arrived and spent four hours troubleshooting our combo gas furnace and electric air conditioner. It was installed in 2015. Would I sound like an old codger if I complained about planned obsolescence? It does seem like major appliances used to get “fixed” when we were first married, and now more often than not, something needs to be “replaced.” Lucky for us, we only needed a new capacitor.

Still, our crooked crystal cottage could hold the heat in her walls. It took many hours for our unit to cool the whole house to a comfortable temperature. I don’t remember much of that day – trying to plant outside in the shade, refilling Ms Bean’s water bowl and checking her breathing to see if she was still alive. Animals are smart about the weather, she switched into hibernation mode immediately.

The 1945 movie Lost Weekend was about an alcoholic. Ray Milland plays a writer who goes on a “four day bender.” I’ve never experienced a blackout while drinking, I was always told I’m a lightweight. But these last few weeks of men debating a woman’s sovereignty over her own body have made me want to pop open a wine bottle again. And over this past weekend, our country experienced FOUR mass shootings…

I’m exhausted and tired of this fight, in a country where barely 1/3 of the population gets to impose their rules and religious beliefs on the rest of us . They want the freedom to carry guns, without a permit, like it’s the wild west. They want to legislate our wombs.

The problem with overdoing alcohol is the next day you pay. I heard Jane Fonda say she doesn’t have many days left in this life, and if she drank a martini tonight she would lose the next day. So I’ll pop open a Pellegrino and keep writing. I’ll try to stay grateful for all the little things in this life, like the Love Bug graduating from elementary school.

I don’t want to lose another day.

Mama Day

For Mother’s Day, I went to the local garden store and bought nine small pots of French lavender. I’m planning to plant a purple hedge along the house side of our dilapidated garage, so whenever I look out the family room window, I’ll feel like I’m in the South of France.

I don’t have to plant lilacs for my foster mother Nell, I already have two glorious plants outside my snug’s window; and just like my maternal history, they are two different species of shrub. They sit side by side and both bloom at the same time, but one is a pale purpley/pink lilac and the other is a deeper violet.

“Lilac bushes set buds on old wood, so prune and shape them right after they finish blooming. Otherwise, said Tyler, you risk cutting off next year’s flowers.”

https://flowermag.com/lilac-bushes/

The lilacs have finished blooming, thank goodness I have a new pruning shear! Lately, my opulent magenta peonies have been exploding. If you asked me to dream up a perfect Mother’s Day, yesterday would have been it – we were only missing the Rocker and Aunt Kiki. I spent most of the day digging in the dirt. Then we set up a badminton net in the backyard for the Grands. The Bride had to work in the ER, but the Groom surprised her with dinner and dessert for us all! They made a pineapple upside down cake.

It was 73 and sunny, no bugs and no humidity, almost like California!

Ah, California, the state that is proposing an amendment to their constitution that would enshrine the Right to Choice! Thank you Senator Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Still, the leaked SCOTUS draft decision taking us back to the 1950s put a damper on my Mom Day. The juxtaposition of Naomi Judd’s suicide next to a possible Roe v Wade ban brought up old feelings of dread. Judd was part of my generation of women who went to hospitals with belly pain and were told we were pregnant. Before Roe became the Law of the Land, nurses and doctors looked at us with pity, and tried to explain why they couldn’t help us.

At least she wasn’t sent away in disgrace, to give up her baby in a different state, like so many teenage moms. At least she didn’t go to a back alley abortionist and become septic, and die. Or maybe worse, become infertile. Her family didn’t have the means to send her to Mexico or Cuba for a legal abortion. Judd had to grow up fast. Here is a part of her daughter Ashley’s tribute:

But motherhood happened to her without her consent. She experienced an unintended pregnancy at age 17, and that led her down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.

“Forgive me if my grief isn’t tidy. When I think about my mother, I am awash in the painful specifics. It’s a little easier, this Mother’s Day, to think about mothers in the collective, to wonder whether we value them. Every day, more than 800 women die in pregnancy and childbirth from causes for which solutions are affordable and achievable,” she wrote before sharing her 2018 experience with women in South Sudan “whose bodies were mangled from childbirth.”

https://americansongwriter.com/ashley-judd-writes-heartfelt-letter-about-mom-naomi-judd-ahead-of-mothers-day-forgive-me-if-my-grief-isnt-tidy/

If our country really valued mothers in the collective, we would send nurses to the homes of new moms. We’d supply free diapers and formula. We would give new moms a year of paid leave, and we’d provide affordable child care in every single state. Every child would be wanted. European countries have managed to do this, to value women. But we, we Americans just pretend to value women and babies.

I’m glad that the Flapper, who was born in 1908, came around to a Pro Choice stand. It wasn’t easy for her, she had six children herself, and our Irish ancestors had double and sometimes triple that number. But she was smart and slightly Buddhist in her old age. She had her first child at 17, and became pregnant at the age of 40 with me, her last child, to give my dying father a reason to live. Her doctor had no idea he would die of a brain tumor when I was seven months old.

I brought the Bride to march for Choice many times over the years. I never thought this day would actually come, silly me. I didn’t think she would ever have to look a young woman in the eyes and tell her there is nothing more she can do to help her. I didn’t think she’d possibly end up seeing septic young women bleed out in her ER. I thought we were better than this.

My family of doctors

Yesterday’s Zoom with siblings was fun. My sister Kay and I enlightened our brother Dr Jim about the powerful, witchy ways of women. Particularly in courtship rituals – Jim always thought it was the man who usually chose his mate. Being a scientist, he saw reproduction in Darwinian terms. In fact, women have been helping women pick and choose their ‘forever after’ since Biblical times.

For instance, there was a friend of the Bride’s who was ready to settle down with her long-term boyfriend, but there was no ring in sight. Enter my single response to her plight – he says he “thinks” he loves me.

“In love there is no THINK. You either do or you don’t love someone. Move on.”

They were engaged within three months. Kay told one of her friends in an extra long relationship to buy a ticket home to South Africa. That ticket was the catalyst to a long, happy marriage. When ambiguity is a state of mind and living with uncertainty is untenable, give back what you’re receiving. Bend like the willow.

So when I read an article about the US policy regarding Ukraine this morning, I was intrigued. Written by a Rumson man I had interviewed at the Miller Center, Eric Edelman urges the State Department to abandon its “Strategic Ambiguity” policy. He is looking ahead to Taiwan, to the Peoples Republic of China, and urges us to plan accordingly by reinforcing their military capacity now. IF…

“…we are not prepared to see a thriving, prosperous democratic society swallowed up by a brutal autocratic regime led by a messianic zealot, there are a series of steps the United States must take—and soon.. .Deterrence ahead of time could very well be the stitch that saves nine.”

https://www.thebulwark.com/the-lessons-of-ukraine-for-taiwan-and-the-u-s/

Most of you know I am very much a pacifist. If only the women of the world could somehow convince men not to rattle their sabers. But after our collective experience with Mr T and a pandemic that killed millions of people, continuing an ambiguous strategy does not feel right at this time in history. Being Switzerland is NOT an option.

IF in fact, we want to save our democracy and defend fledgling democracies around the world, being proactive makes perfect sense. What do you value? Free speech? Let’s not worry about Twitter. A woman journalist for Radio Free Europe was killed by a Russian bomb in Ukraine last month. https://www.rferl.org/a/rfe-rl-president-pays-tribute-to-journalist-killed-in-her-home-in-russian-missile-strike-on-kyiv/31827576.html.

It was beautiful to see the night sky in NYC ablaze with blue and yellow buildings. But wearing the colors of Ukraine can only do so much.

Starstruck

We’re home – after a quick trip to NYC to visit my sister Kay and see a couple of Broadway shows.

The Grands had never been to the Great White Way, and this trip was the Bride’s idea. As soon as Broadway reopened, she booked our tickets, not knowing if the Bug and Pumpkin would be vaccinated yet. We were still moving in, opening boxes, some labeled “Beach House” which obviously never happened. Still trying to organize our Crystal Cottage – we put everything on hold to take a bite of the Big Apple!

And it was delicious!

I remembered the Rocker as a toddler, standing in the first row of “Into the Woods.” Felicia Rashad played the bad witch, but he only had eyes for the orchestra. He stayed still, transfixed by the musicians. I thought about the time we sat in box seats for “Chicago” with one of his friends. And of course, we will always have our “Grease” dance moment.

I tried out for every play in high school. I met Angela Lansbury at the Stage Door of “Auntie Mame.” Watching Barbara Streisand play “Funny Girl” left me breathless. I could see the sweat on Zero Mostel’s face in “Fiddler.” I didn’t know it then, but Broadway musicals would become a family tradition.

I was lucky really. Growing up in New Jersey, with my fabulous, big sister across the river on the Upper East Side. When we weren’t listening to Frank Sinatra, the Flapper played LPs of “Flower Drum Song,” “Gypsy” and “South Pacific” non-stop. I’m glad the extravagant love I feel for this unique American art form, the Broadway musical, has rubbed off on my children. And I see the Bride is determined to pass the torch on to the next generation..

We had the most perfect weather last weekend. Tulips of every color were blooming down Park Avenue. We strolled over the Highline, over the hustle and bustle on the streets listening to the birds and an assortment of languages. We visited Kay’s vintage jewel of an apartment and talked about art and medical school. We feasted at Serendipity 3, just as I had when I was a girl. The Love Bug said, “This is like a girl’s dream.”

And topping it all was “Hamilton.” The songs, the dancers, the story conspired to create a most perfect union/play. I could feel the longing for freedom, the envy of power and influence, the self-sacrifice of a sister. I discovered that my skin can still produce goosebumps. Alexander Hamilton’s story tapped into our collective desire for love and camaraderie. Especially now. I haven’t cried in a theatre in a very long time.

Today I will open more boxes and continue my endless search for some glass shelves. I will try to clean up the back patio, despite the carpenter bees. I’ll re-write my To Do list and research the Forest Pansy Redbud tree. Maybe I’ll polish some silver and plant some grasses! Most likely I’ll be humming Eliza Hamilton’s song, “That would be enough.”

“LOOK AROUND, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now

Look around Look around”

…and if this child shares a fraction of your smile

The Bride didn’t want to pierce the Love Bug’s ears in our fancy mall, with a tiny gun in the big front window. So we went to a tattoo parlor downtown! It came highly recommended by the nurses in her hospital; They do things the old fashioned way, with a needle. So she made the reservation for a day after Passover. I tagged along for moral support, which the Bug didn’t need at all. She picked out tiny, sparkly opal studs. I had to wait in the waiting room, enjoying the ethnography of the body arts subculture. https://icontattoo.com/

It wasn’t the weekend’s mass shooting at an upscale mall in South Carolina that swayed my daughter. Police believe there were three guns involved; nine people were injured. A 73 year old woman is still hospitalized. Will nothing change?

You may recall my first published story was titled “Guns in the Woods.” It was about moving to an isolated mountaintop in the Berkshires when the Bride was a baby. It was about newlyweds, and the choices we make to accommodate each other; and it was about being alone at night, with the intermittent sound of rifles poaching deer. Pop! Pop!

I framed that piece from The Berkshire Eagle. The paper has turned yellow with age, and now I’m not sure what to do with it. I’ve been admonished not to decorate like an old lady, with lots of small framed pictures over every level surface. Maybe I could toy with mixed media and decoupage?

In our Nashville city farmhouse we would sometimes hear gunshots while getting ready for bed. Usually there was an altercation in the Kroger parking lot. I stopped going out for a pint of milk after dark. It’s strange how quickly we became accustomed to the sound of hand guns.

This habituation to gun violence is eating away at me and it’s a cancer on our democracy. We’ve all become disenchanted with our institutions, with a government that could not pass a single, simple gun control bill after Sandy Hook. Red and Blue states are all in agreement – our children need to be safe in school.

In our new Crooked Crystal Cottage at the outskirts of the city we hear crickets at night. Literally. Maybe an occasional siren will pierce the silence. Most Americans don’t have to contend with gun violence. They don’t think twice about grocery shopping at night. It’s just that every now and then, someone walks into a school, or a concert, or a shopping mall, or a movie theatre with an AR-15.

The US does not have a single definition for “mass shootings” but the FBI has tracked “active shooter incidents” for more than a decade. Such an incident is defined as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area”.

According to the FBI, there were 345 “active shooter incidents” in the United States between 2000-2020, resulting in more than 1,024 deaths and 1,828 injuries.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081

We need to change this gun culture. We need to prosecute gun manufacturers, and hold more adults responsible for “accidental” gun deaths. We need to attack the gun lobby through marketing and the courts, in the same way we changed the culture of smoking, or driving while drunk.

Because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, legislators are finally talking about changing our collective perception, our reliance on fossil fuels. Buy electric cars! Reduce your carbon imprint! Well guess what – NOBODY needs an assault weapon. NOBODY.

Here are the states that have banned assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. Minnesota regulates but does not outright ban assault weapons.

Protecting our children is paramount to protecting our second amendment.

Dunkirk Spirit

You remember the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk. Most Americans had never heard about the WWII evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops off the coast of northern France in 1940, on the heels of German advancement. Technically a military defeat, the Brits have enshrined this event as a testament to courage and perseverance through dangerous waters. Fishermen and yacht men alike sailed to the rescue.

“…the tugs, drifters, trawlers, barges and motor launches, and rowing boats. Yes, and there was even a canoe.
This strange assortment was got together in record time by the Small Vessel Pool, an organisation which scoured the seaside places and rivers of Britain for every conceivable type of craft.
The response of owners of vessels everywhere was magnificent. There was no grousing at having to give up boats, indeed their only desire was to give their boats and a little more. In effect it represented the spirit of Dunkirk.

https://wordhistories.net/2019/04/16/dunkirk-spirit-origin/

Her Majesty the Queen of England just referenced the Dunkirk Spirit on a Zoom call with the builders and hospital staff of the new 155 bed Covid unit at the Royal London Hospital. The construction should have taken five months but was completed in five weeks. She recalled how Covid left her exhausted and then said:

“It is very interesting, isn’t it, when there is some very vital thing, how everybody works together and pulls together – marvelous isn’t it? …the “Dunkirk spirit. “Thank goodness it still exists.”

But does it exist here? Our response to 9/11 may be as close as we’ve come – people gave blood, knit booties for cadaver dogs, pulled together. Congress – Republicans and Democrats – sang the national anthem on the steps of the Capitol. The high school Rocker’s band played a concert in support of the rescue effort in Red Bank, NJ, not knowing that later he’d be scoring the Dunkirk trailer in Hollywood.

Maybe at the start of this pandemic, when people were singing on balconies and banging pots and pans, we approximated the Dunkirk Spirit. We were making masks for strangers, delivering pizzas to ERs, and felt compelled to care for our elderly and the immunocompromised. But how long can such altruism sustain itself?

Covid hasn’t gone away. We haven’t really defeated the microbe, in fact Nancy Pelosi just tested positive for the bug. You can be immunized and boosted as much as you like, but if you happen to be of a certain age, or have a chronic condition, it would be best to keep masking and avoiding indoor crowds whenever possible. It’s just that now, people would rather forget the pandemic. They are ready to get on with their lives.

Bob and I had a taste of the Dunkirk Spirit this past weekend. Our new Nashville neighborhood has a well established “Buy Nothing” Facebook group. The Bride has lured me back to Facebook because she noticed an elliptical machine that was up for grabs, and she knew we were in the market for one. I wrote to the owner that we’d stopped going to the gym in 2020, and that our “bodies and souls” could use her Nordic Track. Then the Bride wrote that we need to keep in shape for the wee grandchildren.

And Voila! Bob, the Groom and a friend hopped into a pick-up and delivered the elliptical to our family room. It appeared like magic, no shopping, no buying. Bob and I had posted the original kitchen appliances from our new/old house to Buy Nothing if you recall. We helped neighbors hoist and haul a perfectly good oven and a washer/dryer. I love this circle of giving. I just hope it’s not too late for my knees.

Ms Bean is delighted

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