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When I was a student at Sacred Heart School, I would sit with my hands folded on my desk per the nun’s orders, and stare out the window at the Cadillac dealership across the street. In between daydreams and catechism, I’d count the bricks on the wall of that monstrous building. The bricks were that siena color, formidable and cold. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, to rush outside and stand there on the sidewalk across from that brick wall, waiting for my school bus. For freedom.

Call it a fence, a barrier or a wall, call it whatever you like, our government has ground to a partial halt because of it.

When our children were young, my good friend’s husband returned from Germany with a piece of the Berlin Wall. His name was Gunther and he’d been born in Germany. To hear him tell it, there was a party in the street and pieces, chunks of crumbling cement were strewn all over the place. It represented so much more than an end to the Cold War.

The Wall was a metaphor for Rockwell’s four freedoms – “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.”

Taken from one of FDR’s speeches to gain public approval for our entry into WWII, Rockwell’s paintings were purely propaganda; they raised $133 Million dollars in war bonds. As I try to understand the Trumpeteers among us, the Freedom from Fear image resonates with today’s imagined crisis at our Southern border with Mexico. A white father stands in the foreground as his wife tucks their children into bed.

Fear is a totalitarian government’s bread and butter.

When Mr T tells his followers that rapists and gang members are setting up caravans to invade our country, they believe him. Today’s illustrator might paint the image of a white father in that same child’s bedroom, within a walled-off, gated community holding a rifle. After all, in the art of Mr T’s deal, it pays to keep his customers afraid.

Barriers, man-made and natural, can keep people in or out, depending on your perspective. Nomads and cowboys and cowgirls hate fences, farmers love ’em. I was surprised in Key West to see a small chicken coop behind a house in the historic district, after all, hundreds of colorful roosters and hens roam free in the Conch Republic.  Then Bob pointed out that not only was the chicken coop door wide open, so was the wall surrounding the yard.

I wondered aloud what keeps those chickens hanging around; and I wonder why all the other chickens haven’t invaded their coop?

We returned to a freezing Nashville this week where Winter Break is over and children have been heading back to school. Our grandchildren loved returning to school, where they needn’t sit still with hands clasped counting bricks. I can only hope that all those 8th Grade trips around this already great country to our nation’s Capital are NOT cancelled.

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Today is National and International Senior Citizen’s Day. I’m not sure what that means exactly, since it’s a new holiday to me. Our generation changed the Early Bird Special to Happy Hours; maybe the cafes in our neighborhood will be having half price sales? That would make a glass of wine and a plate of wings $5! Or maybe BarcaLoungers will go on sale? I remember when our local animal shelter was giving senior dogs away free to seniors! Live out your last years together snuggling on Golden Pond.

Maybe someone will give me a flower?

The Flapper hated being called a “senior;” just when she was getting grey the term “elderly” changed to “senior.” Her mind was just fine and she abhorred being categorized like the latest marketing scheme. I remember when the “elder” George Bush started Desert Storm, she was the first to say it’s all about the oil. She never dyed her hair purple or did the tiny Queen-like curls that littered the heads of most of her contemporaries. She proudly swirled her long grey hair into a perfect chignon every day.

Great Grandma Gi (aka the Flapper) had a purrfectly beautiful cat and lived on Lake Minnetonka in the Land of Lakes. At one point, she befriended the “old” (as opposed to the “new”) Mrs Pillsbury, checking in on her during snow storms. My brother, Dr Jim, just sent me an article about “Southways,” the gracious Grand Home that sits at the point of the peninsula. It seems the Pillsbury estate is scheduled for demolition, a sad end to the Gatsby era.

“The estate, originally built as a summer house for John S. and Eleanor Pillsbury and their six children, has seen its price slashed several times in recent years. When listed in 2007 at $53.5 million, it was the most expensive house in Minnesota. After it failed to attract a buyer, the price was reduced to $24 million. Still no takers. Recently, the original 13-acre site was subdivided into five homesites. The 32,461-square-foot house and its remaining 3.3 acres and 415 feet of prime shoreline on Brown’s Bay was relisted at $7.9 million.”

http://www.startribune.com/lake-minnetonka-pillsbury-mansion-slated-for-teardown/491230621/

It’s a shame the historical association couldn’t save that home. But everything must change.

Moving Great Grandma Ada out of her home of 50 years was not an easy task. However, she has regained her strength and is moving more than she ever did in that big house on a hill. Some one asked if she needed anything shipped to her, and she realized she has everything she needs. Well, actually she does need some of her beads since she started me stringing! And her purpose in life is still the same, to help others. Yesterday, a young man asked if she’d like to sit on a panel about aging. Of course! And a few days ago she delivered a painting of a totem pole to a friend’s daughter for a birthday present! Now she is a Commissioned Artiste!

On this Senior Citizen’s Day Ada’s calendar is filling up. Today we are celebrating in Nordstrom’s, after a visit to the dentist. The next round of visitors should be starting very soon. She feels as if she is slightly sixty, maybe, and is aghast about hitting her hundredth decade! We need a new name for these seniors, maybe “Super Duper Seniors!”

 

 

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The Prosecution of Paul Manafort rests, and I’ve heard that Judge Ellis III doesn’t just swing a gavel, he swings a battering ram with nails. Soon enough a jury of his “peers” will decide if this friend and former campaign manager of Mr T deserves a jail sentence for tax fraud. Oh how I wish I was at the beach last week with the Groom’s family since his father just retired from a government career holding such people accountable… Grandpa Mike might have been able to shed some light on the world of financial crime.

A world full of greed, lies and manipulation as another tax attorney described it. So, as an antidote to the escalating breaking news of the day, I offer you my two cents:

Instead of greed, altruism. I spent a good part of yesterday with The Love Bug, and on our morning Ms Bean walk she happened to find some pennies. In a few weeks she will turn 6, and so she is starting to learn about money. Later, in the car with her Mama, she asked me to look for homeless people so we could give them some money! That was the sweet news, but unfortunately in Nashville, we have our fair share of homeless.

Instead of lies, truth. Differentiating between lying and truth-telling begins at about this age, which is why the Catholic Church chose 7 as the age for Communion. But some people never quite get it, they conflate and exaggerate the truth, or ignore it altogether. Our L’il Pumpkin is almost 4 and loves super heroes, so whenever I play Wonder Woman to his Batman I throw my invisible lasso of truth around the bad guys (usually a big stuffed bear). I believe in brutal honesty, and so does that bear!

Instead of manipulation, role-modeling. If you want someone to change their behavior, particularly a child, bribery does help but modeling the behavior you desire works best. I would always bring soup to new moms when the Bride was little, and I was happy to see she has continued this tiny tradition with her friends. Whenever I watch the Love Bug pick tomatoes from their garden, I think back to the Berkshires and the short growing season our tomatoes endured – the love of garden “candy,” of eating healthy, real food is being passed down to the next generation.

I could care less what Omorosa has to say, but I DO care that Mr T called her a “dog” this morning in a Tweet. Do you remember when a radio personality lost his job for calling the hair of the Rutgers women’s basketball team “kinky?” Can the racist, misogynistic hate please stop! It seems like our level of discourse may never recover from this presidency.

But for a final bit of good news, did you know there’s a large group of “Grannies” who have made their way to the Texas/Mexico border to protest the separation of families? They boarded two big vans in NY and picked up almost 2,000 more seniors heading south!

Like most others on board, Ms Mellen’s motivation for joining – a belief in the “designed, intentional cruelty” of the administration’s immigration policies – was deepened by maternal experience.

“Being a mother and a grandmother I know the incredible connection I feel toward my children and my grandbabies, and you put their faces on these children,” Ms. Mellen said.

“I can’t imagine the pain.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45174891

No human is illegal, and every grandma is a gift.  IMG_3121

 

 

 

 

 

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“You have a beautiful family,” the guard at the Frist Museum said, as she opened the door to a hot summer day in Nashville. And I remembered maitre d’s in NYC saying the same thing to the Flapper as we’d exit a swanky restaurant. A family I felt barely belonged to me; I was all of thirteen but my big brother Dr Jim was studying at Columbia and my stunning Upper-East-Side sister Kay would smile warmly. Now I know how my Mother felt surrounded by her brood. She’d done it – she raised them right, despite the poverty and the challenges.

“From 94 to 5,” I said. What the museum guard didn’t know was that yesterday our family turned a corner. We found the amazing woman, Kathy, who had given up her child back in the 60s, only to create an amazing life apart from my late Brother-in-Law. And now she’d completed the circle, searching always for her adopted daughter and finding out that our sweet Dickie, her first love, had died.

We women had few choices back then; many of my friends became sterile after illegal abortions. A good friend joined a cult.

It was incredible to watch my “Soul Sister” connect with Great Grandma Ada. They held each other’s hands for the longest time. They whispered secrets. My late Brother-in-Law was present, with his long hair and his big smile. It was an accident, he didn’t mean to die.

The Docent had us all look at a painting by an Israeli artist. Her parents had survived the Holocaust, but we didn’t know any of this. The Exhibition was titled “Chaos and Awe, Painting for the 21st Century.” The Love Bug was pointing to the sky, and the birds. I felt the fractured light. And Ada said that when a child dies, Jews cut a limb off a tree in the cemetery. In the middle there was blood, but nobody talked about that. It was a solemn time, a sacred visit. A newly-connected family in the presence of Art.

Maybe because I was separated from my biological family as an infant, I could relate to Kathy’s story. Still I knew both of my mothers. And my Daddy Jim was a hard act to follow! We cannot wait to meet Dickie’s daughter, and Ada’s two new Great Grandsons!

http://fristartmuseum.org/calendar/detail/chaos-and-awe-painting-for-the-21st-century

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Videotapes?

As pundits are aTwitter over Mr T’s comments in Helsinki – and don’t get me wrong, they were outrageous, even traitorous – on Monday a 29 year old Russian spy named Maria Butina was arrested, or should I say indicted and taken into custody by a federal grand jury. She’s a pretty young thing, with as luck would have it, red hair. And one of the things mentioned in the slew of papers is that she attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast. TWICE.

The National Prayer Breakfast was initiated in 1953 by a Methodist minister, Abraham Vereide, who had been leading Congressional prayer groups for a decade. The annual breakfast now attracts close to 4,000 participants and is hosted by members of Congress. But the real force behind the event remains Mr. Vereide’s Fellowship Foundation, also known as “The Family,” whose fundamental mission is to create a ruling consortium of Christ-centered political and community leaders. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/opinion/maria-butina-putin-infiltration.html

Interesting right? To read about the far-reaching effects of this secretive, leave no notes behind “Family,” I give you this: “The Secret Political Reach of the Family” https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120746516

It’s enough to make a conspiracy theorist out of me! Remember that men-only/drum/circle/weekend/campout President Underwood attended in House of Cards on Netflix? That series was getting stale mostly because our reality star president was thought to be more entertaining. When he threw a soccer ball via Vlad like a hot potato to Melania on Monday, I was wondering if the secret service had pre-approved the move. And if Baron would actually ever hold that ball.

But why ask Vlad if he would deport those 12 Russian agents to America, when he already offered to send over his special cyber-security team to help us out. I hope the State Department confiscated Butina’s passport.

The intersection of a world-wide anti-LGBTQ agenda (fueled by nationalist extreme Christian right politicians) with lobbying efforts of the NRA has resulted in the spectacle we saw in Helsinki. Mr T is in Russia’s pocket, and it’s lined with sable, or maybe chinchilla? And if he’d like the American people to believe he “misspoke” about believing Putin had nothing to do with the hacking of over 500,000 votes… I am reminded of the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Only in this case, I’m hoping there’s an independent voter who can spot a sociopathic liar in Finland.

Meanwhile, back in the Music City, I’ll be going to the museum today with the Bride, the Bug, Great Grandma Ada and our newly-found friend Kathy – the redhead will be in pre-school!

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Here’s how it all started.

I was Wonder Woman this past weekend. I decided I needed an alias to care for the Grands, so I donned my new Brian Nash tee shirt of Diana Prince in her tiara. It worked!! Particularly for the three year old, he was perfectly happy to let me be in charge, and I tried my best to be a benevolent ruler.

I decided who would go first up and down the stairs.

I told the Love Bug that mud doesn’t “accidentally” get thrown on her brother, and she should apologize…like she means it.

And I told them both that if someone throws mud on them, they should throw mud back!

I agreed with their Father that we won’t “kill” bad guys, but we put alot of them in jail.

We learned that if we want to do something really really bad, that whining about it doesn’t make it happen.

The Love Bug said that singing more than one song at bedtime would be preferable. I sang four – two in Yiddish and two in English.

And I had NO idea how much they loved broccoli!

So today, as I was relaxing at my house, doing laundry and walking Ms Bean as usual, I heard about the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. I thought to myself, how can they have a roast of a President who has absolutely NO sense of humor? It makes zero sense. And I happened to see Anna Navarro skewer a Republican about Mr T’s misogynistic remarks on CNN, and the hypocrisy of the Trumpeteers.

Anna said that Latinas would kill each other if they even tried to do a comic roast, and I thought, yep Jews would also kill someone. Bashing somebody’s looks or their family or their competence would definitely be a death sentence. OTOH, in my Irish family, this sort of thing happened every day!

It was much ado about nothing for me. How can you find ANY humor in this presidency? The best bet would be to just put off the WHCD until we elect someone with a soul. And then I went to Whole Foods to shop for Cinco de Mayo.

We are hosting a neighborhood celebration and I will be teaching folks how to make my famous “Mango Tomatillo Salsa!” As I was checking out, I was impressed that the young man knew what tomatillos were, but even more impressed with the young woman bagger who remembered the code number. I told her my husband was also good with numbers.

“He still knows the phone number from my college dorm,” I said with pride.

Then she asked if we’d met in college, and I said, “Not exactly, we knew each other in high school but he went to Woodstock.” I usually have this sad, semi-sarcastic look on my face whenever I mention this split in the space-time universe of our lives, and she said semi-seriously:

“What’s that? Is it like Burning Man?”

The young man, who was a musician of course, gave her the same look I did. Incredulous. And I thought to myself, okay, I’m officially OLD. I’m that old person who is so cute but makes no sense. Who makes Google Maps route me without highways. Who pulls into parking spaces so she can pull out face first. Who is always losing her cell phone and forgetting her umbrellas all over town.

But I can still laugh at myself, and I can still relish a good joke. Changing lies to ashes to eye shadow was a great line about the Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is pretty astute at changing direction while her voice is like chalk on a chalkboard. And I won’t pick up the feminist card here, she is deserving of derision. GOP women can be just as deluded as men on policy issues.

“She is a fan of fantasy football, New Kids on the Block and the television show “Mad Men.”

All things I abhor. Maybe because I lived that Mad Men world, and it wasn’t pretty. Or funny. I’d rather be Wonder Woman, any day.

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Out of the blue, my Little Pumpkin asked me yesterday from his car seat if I knew why he didn’t like Donald Trump. I had to ask him to repeat himself because you know, he talks like a three year old, but as soon as I said, “Why?” (why is one of his favorite words actually), he replied just as clear as a bell,

“Because he’s mean.”

So I prattled on about how Mr T is also a narcissist and a bigot, but still it’s not nice to call people names. The world of adults can be very complex. Teaching a child to be polite at the dinner table for instance, while flossing your teeth would be a No. Talking about politics in the car with a toddler who is just out of diapers for naps, probably not a good idea.

And because there is a wall of kindness in my neighborhood – an art installation meant for people to Instagram their ideas of kindness around the world – I’ve been thinking a lot about morality, and plain basic decency lately. How can we teach children to be ethical when it seems like all bets are off in this post-Trump year. Our Grabber-in Chief leads the pack of men behaving badly.

The Republican Senate candidate from AL is being defended by his good ole boys, quoting the Bible. Hitting on teenaged girls it would seem is acceptable, but for Kevin Spacey, hitting on teenaged boys is not. Isn’t being a pedophile a uni-sex situation, universally condemned? The Catholic Church has finally figured it out. This is the murky field of dreams, or nightmares, we seem to be wading through – thank you Harvey Weinstein…

The Love Bug and I watched the artist, who flew to Nashville from the Twin Cities btw, painting her gorgeous bouquet of flowers on the back wall of a restaurant at twilight. She was sitting high up on scaffolding, like Leonardo with floodlights, when I asked our Kindergardener what kindness meant to her. The Love Big said,

“Letting other people go first.”

Now I must admit, she was always a sensitive child. Whenever I would play a game with her, she would purposely try to let me win. And depending on your point of view, that can be a good trait, or a bad one. But for this old feminist, I thought maybe she needs to get a little more pushy, like her Mama at that age who was leading the pack of bad girls in preschool. I remember always pulling her aside to say, “That (behavior) is hurting your friend’s feelings.” Or, “Think about how you would feel if…” As a grandparent, I realize more and more the pull of nature over nurture.

Maybe it’s time we women went first for a change! Teach our girls to fight hard, with their words and maybe even their fists if need be. To push bullies away, to yell when some boy starts behaving badly.

We swept up so many legislative seats last Tuesday, women of all colors and even a transgender woman, who unseated an incumbent conservative in VA, that I came close to crying. Something I won’t do in public. And in MN, a Black transgender woman won a seat on the City Council. So many Democratic women won, I think because of the Women’s March and the “Trump Effect.” Pink pussy hats and all.

The survey found that 70 percent of Democratic women were “appalled” by Trump’s victory, more than two-thirds were “shocked” by it, and more than half reported feeling “angry” and “depressed.” Nearly three-quarters of Democratic women reported “a sick feeling” when they saw Trump on the news. The women with the most visceral reactions were roughly four times as likely to engage politically after Trump’s victory than they were before it. For Democratic women in New Jersey and Virginia, casting a ballot may have represented yet another way to express their displeasure with Trump. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/11/09/in-tuesdays-elections-women-won-big-here-are-three-things-we-learned-about-women-and-politics/?utm_term=.e9aaf4695e2b

So yes my Little Pumpkin, Mr T is mean. But his election may have started a revolution, and like Madame Thérèse Defarge, we women are pretty angry and out for revenge after years of patriarchy and white privilege, with our knitting needles and our vote. And no, my sweet grandchildren, revenge isn’t good per se. #Kindness is listening to everyone’s story, #Kindness is Compassion.

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