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As many of you know, Bob and I have listed our mountain home for sale. Which means when we are not in Nashville, we must vacate the premises periodically for a “showing” to potential buyers. In other words, super-clean the house and pack up Ms Bean for a two hour tour – cue the Gilligan’s Island theme song now!

You might think this is easy.

After all, we have no children in the house; no crumbs, or petrified hot dogs lurking about. A petrified mouse in the basement? Maybe. After all, we are a country house in the forest, with a long gravel driveway and a buried gas tank and a well…sooo, our windows may get dusty but more importantly, our dog gets car sick. Really, really car sick.

The first time we packed Ms Bean up for a ride into town we gave her the Vet’s super-duper anti-nausea pill. It must be given at least two hours ahead of time and costs about $20 per pill. This is the pill she gets for the nine hour ride to TN and the six hour ride to NJ. It lasts about 24 hours and I have to admit can make her a little loopy. We had a great time on the Historic Downtown Mall where dogs are welcome and almost every store is dog-friendly.

The second time a realtor called, we decided to try some people medicine on her, even though the Vet warned us against this tactic. Generic Benadryl costs a nickel for each 25 mg pill. On GoodRx, a coupon site for drugs, it’s half that price; pennies per pill. And its duration would be only four hours, which was more than enough time for someone to walk through our house and find their way down to the river.

It was a hazy, hot and muggy summer day, so we drove just a few miles to a local antique mall. I sheepishly asked the woman at the counter if my dog could come in, or should I leave her with my husband in the car? “She’s a very good dog,” I pleaded. Lucky for us, the woman calculated correctly, that a man sitting with a dog while his wife shops is a Win-Win. Bob was happy and Ms Bean was just fine! There was no foaming at the mouth, Benadryl for the goal!

Yesterday was the third time we had to pack up the dog, and yesterday was the charm. Since the weather was cooperating, dappled sunshine high 70s, we decided to stay in the neighborhood and take her for a walk. And we didn’t medicate her. We drove down the mountain to a development nearby and parked the car. Everything was going according to plan when I thought I saw a bear in the woods. Bean was pulling me hard toward a big black shape stomping through the leaves, but it turned out to be a goat! Mission accomplished. Car-sickness and bear-shaped goats were in our rear-view window.

And Ms Bean was fine! Our little special needs pup experienced no gagging, or foaming, she just curled up and relaxed for the ride.

So in anticipation of more impromptu, realtor-related car trips this summer, I suggested to Bob the idea of a service animal vest for Bean, that would get us out of the heat and into some air conditioning! After researching this a bit, we discovered you can purchase an “emotional support” vest for your dog on Amazon for about a hundred dollars. I mean what dog isn’t an emotional sponge for their owners? Some sites even offer certification, obviously the government hasn’t regulated these things which is why you may see a parrot on your next flight to Disney World.

Still, I’m a basically honest person and it just doesn’t seem right. Instead, I’d like to design a new vest for dogs – the “Shopping Support” vest! I will train my dog to sit and stay when she sees me pick up something I don’t need. If I don’t put it down immediately, she will lay down and not move. A silent protest. I will look down at her, come to my senses, and place the dreaded, overpriced article back on the shelf. This could work for any addiction. A second glass of wine? Walking toward a casino? The OCD dog vest could revolutionize treatment for millions of people.

I wonder if the new Republican Senate Healthcare bill would cover these vests? https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/whats-in-the-senate-republican-health-care-bill/531258/

After a long day in the car, Ms Bean rests her weary head on the lookout for rabbits. IMG_0846

 

 

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Shaken or Stirred? Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Two cars or one?

Nelly Bly, my Foster Mother, didn’t drive. She was fifty when they “adopted” me and so my world was limited to her care on a hill in Victory Gardens, with the occasional sojourn to a swimming pond or a grocery store with Daddy Jim. And of course mass every Sunday followed by a sundae at Zanelli’s and later dinner at Dick’s Diner.

There were no after school activities for me, no Brownie troop. I know, cry me a river. But I didn’t miss what I didn’t know about because most moms didn’t drive. I was a pretty happy kid in this Leave it to Beaver black and white world. I would get on my bike and cruise the neighborhood. I learned how to stand up to bullies, how to navigate friendships, how to avoid peeping toms who would slow down in their cars, all by myself.

Still, somehow I knew Nell wasn’t happy being isolated so far from town and later I realized she actually suffered from agorophobia. Jim had never wanted her to work, and even at such a young age I understood an essential part of the 50s female experience. You did what you were told.  A paternalistic system needs to be fed, go along to get along… Today, I see how hard it is for Great Grandpa Hudson’s generation of men to stop driving. Taking the car keys away from an octogenarian+ can be an effort in futility.

FDR promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. One car.

And for the past month Bob and I have been living with just one car. We drove my CRV to Nashville, where Bob signed up for city bikes and used Uber if I was at the Bride’s house and he’d been waiting for a plumber at ours. No problem. We walked everywhere else, the walkability score for our area is in the 90s!

Then as soon as we got back to the Blue Ridge, his Acura with a hefty 300,000+ miles on it, had to see its trusty mechanic, again. So we’ve been a one car family in the country for the past week too, surprisingly without incident. Which is to say, we schedule my car individually when we have errands, and drive everywhere else together.

When Bob was working this didn’t always work out. I was once stranded here, on 14 acres in the forest, for over a week in a snowstorm; talk about cabin fever.

But for now, we’re actually considering having only one car. It’s better for our planet and for our budget. I’m all in, but Bob’s on the fence. Either he’s really attached to that old car of his, or he’s dreaming about a sport’s car in his future?

Last night we took my solo car for a spin to see Wonder Woman. When I heard her say the Amazons had figured out what men were useful for (procreation) I laughed and reached for Bob’s hand. We all know men are better drivers, right Danica Patrick?

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The Summer Solstice as we contemplate big changes.

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I was going to write about Father’s Day. About all the great Dad episodes over the years in this family. Instead, it was becoming a list of Mommy fails:

About how I never wanted to say to my kids, “Just wait ’till your father comes home,” and then one day I did. About how I quit  teaching the Bride how to drive. After she hydroplaned her way through five trees and over the Hope Road sign in the rain, Bob gallantly picked up the pieces of my shattered psyche, and taught her how to drive.

But maybe that’s the point? When we’ve had it up to here with the mundane, daily life of children, housekeeping, cooking, laundry, driving, pet care and generalized nursing duties. like picking bees out of the Rocker’s clothes, well a good Dad knows when to step into the fray. The 50s are gone and Father Doesn’t Always Know Best, but it would behoove him to know how…

To calm a frightened child at night

To cook a meal, or pick one up

To do the dishes

To help his child learn to ride a bike, and drive a car

To tutor/help with homework, including advanced math and science projects

To encourage critical and creative thinking

To not mix colors and whites in the laundry

To ease the passing of an old dog over that rainbow bridge

To remind his wife that everything will be alright, again and again, and that she has a partner in all this

And to stick around until that time when it’s just the two of them again, and they can lean on each other

A Good Husband and Father will bend with the wind, above all he must not be rigid and set in his ways. He will put his family first, ahead of his career. He will protect them at all costs. And even if he was hit as a child, he will never hit his children or break their spirits. He would never use words or discipline to humiliate them. And if his Father left, or he never knew him for some reason, this Father will be doubly determined to never abandon his family, he will ride out the storm of life. He will be like that Israeli fruit, the Sabra; an Israeli born citizen named after a prickly pear – tough and treacherous on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside.

I remember dancing with my Foster Father, or really standing on his feet while he twirled me around the kitchen. There was a dogwood tree outside the window, and he would whistle a tune and sometimes play the spoons! I remember playing gin rummy with him almost every night, for pennies. I remember his little presents for me every day when he returned home from work at Picatinny Arsenal – a flower, a pretty rock, or a colored pencil. Ada always said he was a hard act to follow and she was right.

Fatherhood today can be a challenge, a paradox. But when it’s done well, the outcome is pure love. When your children yell, “Watch Daddy, watch me,” all they need is to know that you love to watch them: climb trees; play an instrument;, swim without swimmies; or ride a bike. All they need is your presence. So sleep late all you Dads out there, put down your devices, and then remember to play and have fun tomorrow! Oh and Bob, your second and third Grand Daddy acts are priceless!IMG_1753

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Driveway before the rain

Driveway before the rain

Sometimes we get the juiciest bits of information as an aside. Most journalists know this, we get the agenda to the meeting, but it’s in the stuff we hear in the hallway where we will sometimes find the true story. Or at least, an alternate story. This is why I will always and forever love secretaries; (whoops, the Bride called here) insert – because they knew where the bodies were buried!

Take for instance the latest edition of “This American Life” with Ira Glass. The Bride and Groom happened to hear him speak at the Ryman over the weekend, and coincidentally I caught his latest show in the car. Normally  I’ll catch up with Ira on his older podcasts while driving to Nashville, rarely am I listening live stream. But there I was, left listening the other night in my driveway to “Except for That One Thing!” #518

I was hooked right away. A young couple buy their first home in New England – Check! Bob and I bought our first home in Windsor, MA. They were trying to furnish it by going to auctions, because of course there were no real furniture stores or malls – Check! She got carried away with raising her paddle and put them into debt. I used to go to estate sales and get so frustrated because dealers would outbid me and then try to sell to me afterwards, making a slight profit. What happens next, when she finds the perfect dining room table on eBay, will surprise and delight you. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/518/except-for-that-one-thing

And this is what Glass does so well with radio. We are better able to identify with someone we cannot see.  Judgement is suspended. Their story becomes our story. He manages to find that edge, where reality and humor can border on tragedy, that middle place where we find ourselves most days.

The place between arcane and insane.

Yesterday, I was visiting with my Richmond cousins and was almost trapped in the mud luge also known as my 1,000+ ft driveway when I returned home at twilight. Tires were spinning and my CRV was churning a mighty brown spray. Just a few short days ago Bob and I had sprinkled salt and sand down our steepest hill after the plow had scooped up most of the gravel and snow. I had just heard about my MIL’s weekend travails, cousins and friends sliding off her snow and ice-packed driveway sideways into the woods. A comedy of errors. And as I sit in my aviary listening to the slow and steady drip of snow melting off the roof, I thought of a new episode for This American Life –  “Life is a Driveway.” https://soundcloud.com/tadpoles-shouldnt-drive/rascal-flatts-life-is-a-highway

This is how Ms Bean feels about winter

This is how Ms Bean feels about winter

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Our mountain house is too quiet.No more Love Bug yelling , “MA” at the top of her voice, no more breakfasts for five or Mozart in the morning.

When my kids were little, we would get in the car and immediately chaos would descend about who claimed the shot-gun seat, which radio channel we’d tune into, whether we would stop at 7-Eleven on our way to the beach every morning, why the Corgi can’t come, etc. And usually by about halftime I’d holler “Let’s have some Ps and Qs.”  Peace and Quiet.

I’m not sure how or why that worked, but they both knew that those little words meant Mom had had enough. Before there were smart phones and iPads and Apps, and Disney videos strapped into the back of every car seat or hanging projector-like from a Suburban,  we parents had to rule the roost…while driving. Bickering died down and actual conversations might just happen. In fact, parents everywhere should take note, some of the very best conversations ever with your kids may just take place in your car! There is nothing like a captured audience.

But when all else fails, then and now, we sing! Our Love Bug is a Nashville baby.

Because the mere thought of strapping a one year old into a car seat that resembles a NASCAR engineering project for 9 hours of driving is my idea of family torture, so we sing. One year olds can’t tell you they have a dirty diaper, they can’t say “Id like to lay down for my nap now if you don’t mind,” they can’t point out the 7-Eleven and ask for a Slurpee. Babies lack the vocabulary to express their storm of emotions. But this baby loves to sing, yes she’s even starting to hum along with us!

So I’ve got to hand it to the Bride and Groom for their courage and creativity on this trip. For endless rounds of Old MacDonald and Baby Beluga. For not being too upset when they learned that I thought the Bug might like playing with her food. Which she did! For loaning me their precious little girl full of sunshine and light for a little while.

For helping me to realize that peace and quiet isn’t such a great idea after all.

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This morning it’s overcast and calm. Only the first ridge of mountain is poking up between the clouds. Not like yesterday, when we woke to a clear day and another mass shooting, this time closer to home at the DC Naval Yard.  And if you happened to miss the physician, Janis Orlowski, who treated some of the survivors make her heartfelt plea to end gun violence, here it is:

“There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate,” she said, adding that “I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots.” She added: “Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.” http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/09/watch-dr-janis-orlowskis-moving-plea-against-gun-violence-after-navy-yard-shootings/69471/

If you don’t work in  a trauma center, if you’re not an ER doctor or nurse, you may have watched or listened to the incident unfold with a cynical eye. It’s just another crazy person; didn’t they have to go through a metal detector?; how did the shooter obtain clearance to enter a secure DOD facility? But if you’ve actually seen what a bullet can do to a body, if you’ve had to race against time to save a life, if you’ve had the heartbreaking job of telling someone’s family that your patient, their loved one, has died, well then you understand the problem.

And the problem is GUNS. The epidemic is gun violence. Because that is what’s evil in our society, it isn’t the mentally ill person who believes that a voice is telling him to shoot up a school or a movie theatre. Mental illness affects many of our families and friends, that is inevitable, it’s been around since time began, or Cain and Abel if you prefer. People who suffer from mood disorders through those with paranoid schizophrenia can seek treatment, they can live a normal life. We are the Prozac nation after all.

What we cannot escape is guns – they are sold in parking lots, and online, as if they are candy. They are glorified in film and on TV. I’ve said this before, I don’t need to know why some one entered a Naval facility with a rifle and picked off his victims from an upper landing in a beautiful atrium – the motive really does not matter. Let’s ask ourselves why our legislators could not get a simple background check law passed. Because as we saw yesterday, having more guns inside a facility isn’t the answer.

Yesterday we were a nation in shock again. When I walked out to my car I saw this. photoHow could this happen? Was it another angry bird that flew into my car’s window, a hunter’s gun shot, a deer antler? I live in the woods, nothing was taken, so Bob and I picked up thousands of pieces of shattered green glass. And I thought about the survivors of the Naval Yard shooting, the people who saw the carnage up close and personal.

Today I’ll have my window replaced, but I wonder how long it will take the survivors to put the pieces of their lives back together. And when our nation will stop electing puppets of the gun lobby. Or are we immune now to this, even after small children are massacred in their classrooms, have we become habituated to shock?

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We all remember our firsts, right? First kiss, first friend, first job, and what about your first car! You thought I was heading somewhere else, right? Well, walk with me down memory lane for a bit, because today is International Bacon Day, and I’m living in the South now; and we consider bacon a major part of the food triangle, or plate, or whatever… , but hey who doesn’t like bacon!

Not sure why August 31st received this honor, probably some meat-middle-manager’s idea of a joke, but it seems to be catching on. And it was seeing how Ford was celebrating the day for all things bacon, offering a special decal for their Ford Fiesta, that got me thinking. All vegans please look away now:     bacon---profile-1377696523

I thought back to Bob’s first car, a Ford Galaxy. It was the 60s, of course, so he and his friends decided to papier mache his little hot rod in paisley! Here is what he had to say about it, and since it’s in a language I don’t understand called auto-speak, I’ll quote,

“It was my first car, a 1960 Ford Galaxy 500, with a 390 cu in engine, dual Holley four-barrel carbs, and a Hurst four-speed shifter.”  Paisley Ford 1969 B

I never got to ride in that baby, we had broken up when we left for college, and he had gone the way of Woodstock. Alas. That’s him in the black shirt upper right, looking like a Sgt Pepper’s cover shoot. You can get a glimpse of the colorful paisley hood in the front of the picture.

I was one of the rare few with a car in high school. It was an ancient red Renault that I inherited from a brother who either went off to college or to a kibbutz and left me in charge of it. It was super tiny for the day, about the size of a Mini Cooper that was swimming around with huge Caddies and their sharp fins.  I remember swerving through puddles and playing that game where you stop suddenly and everybody jumps out and rearranges themselves in the car, like circus clowns. Oh yeah, I packed people into that beauty!

Yes folks, that was the worst of my teenage crimes against humanity. I left it to others to drive across the state line for a beer run, my stepfather was a judge, so that just wouldn’t do.

My moment of grace was when that same brother, Eric, taught me how to start up the Renault on a hill. We pulled up to a stop sign at a very good angle, pulled up that little parking brake, and since i didn’t know any better, I just kept trying. We inched further and further backwards down the hill, until I finally got the synchronization of brake, clutch and gear. Thank you for your patience big brother!

It wasn’t until later that I learned that not “all girls” knew hot to drive a stick shift on the floor. Was the automatic shift invented when more women started driving or something? The Bride informed me that she was the only one of her friends who could drive a shift. Let’s hope our little Baby Bug will have the opportunity to learn about a four speed stick. Here is the cutest 1 year old in her latest big girl ride! Now, go and cook some bacon! photo

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