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Hello again. 541 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Davidson County this morning.

TN Governor Bill Lee has finally issued a state-wide “Safer at Home” order.  It’s anyone’s guess if it will be enforceable since he doesn’t like mandates. So before hunkering down for the long haul, Bob and I ventured out to 2 grocery stores; because I tried an Amazon delivery from Whole Foods again, and once you get to the check-out page they inform you there are NO delivery windows.

The Bride told us that a new Turnip Truck had just opened in her neck of the woods – and they have hand sanitizer and toilet paper!!! Plus, they have gloves for shoppers to don at the front of the store! So we ventured out last night around suppertime.

The Turnip Truck is an East Nashville institution. They combine the best of Trader Joe’s with Whole Foods and I always loved shopping there. Their produce is pretty much like going to a Farmer’s Market, plus you know exactly where all their meat and fish are sourced, and the prices are affordable. It is the Portlandia of food emporiums.

It was actually a great experience. The people working there seemed happy and helpful AND they kept their distance. We only picked up a few things since we had a BIG list for the following day, today, at PUBLIX.

Publix has decided to designate the hour of 7am – 8am for senior shopping, (just like Whole Foods which is every day), BUT at Publix it’s only TWO days a week – Tuesday and Wednesday. What a nuisance. Our local midtown store just recently opened, and it’s smaller and geared toward young, working professionals. We walked in at 7:30 this morning and the workers were stocking shelves and NOT keeping their distance. There were many people shopping who were young, no one was outside screening people.

It was a disappointing trip to say the least, the only plus was that nobody appeared sick. But as we know, the virus can spread before symptoms show up….so Bob and I decided to try and stick with delivery systems only going forward. I’m happy to have a restaurant meal now and then, but cooking is something that gives me pleasure and we need all the pleasure we can find these days.

In fact I love following Nashville’s own Chopped Chef Maneet Chauhan, Ina Garten and Eric Ripert on Instagram. They are always churning out videos of comforting, simple meals you can make at home. Whether it’s watching a pot of Bolognese simmer on Ina’s stove, or watching Eric make a quick chicken and red wine stew, I’m finding myself longing to cook at home.

Except for famous chefs, most celebrity culture has taken a beating in this brave new self-isolating-social-media world. I have to admit I got pretty tired of watching Ellen call all her famous friends and ask what they’re doing. I mean it’s OK for singers to try out some new tunes, but when celebrities film what they are doing in the midst of their gorgeous estates it is a bit tone-deaf.

“Staying home is my superpower,” the “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot reported from her walk-in closet. Ryan Reynolds urged his fans to “work together to flatten the curve” from within his rustic loft. When Jennifer Lopez posted a video of her family sheltering in the backyard of Alex Rodriguez’s vast Miami compound, the public snapped.

“We all hate you,” was one representative response.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/arts/virus-celebrities.html?searchResultPosition=1

I’m staying home for my daughter the Bride, who is working in her ER without enough PPE for everyone, so she is reusing masks and covering N95 masks with homemade cloth masks to make them last longer. I’m staying home for the Groom who is preparing his ICU for the tsunami of patients to come.

Who are you staying home for?

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Democrats fall in love with their candidate, Republicans fall in line.

Spoiler alert! The last two (D) candidates to win both Iowa and New Hampshire were nominated and promptly lost their elections – Al Gore and John Kerry. Remember them? Kerry actually criticized Bush for the Iraq war, and let’s face it, that may have been too soon and his running mate, John Edwards, may have been too slick hiding a love child from his wife. But I still fell in love with both nominees, just a little.

This is why I’m not too concerned with the first NH primary today. I want a man (or a woman – love is love) who can flip the Senate blue. I’m waiting to see who will give me goosebumps. The way Brad Pitt did at the Oscars, gently scolding the GOP for disallowing witnesses.

Is it just me, or did anyone else not see any of the Oscar nominated movies this year? Well wait, Bob and I did see the first half of “The Irishman” in our local artsy theatre… but it was getting past someone’s bedtime, so we left via an Uber. Did DeNiro kill Hoffa? I’ll have to catch up on Netflix.

Netflix was the star attraction this past weekend when we joined some friends to watch “Knives Out” at their home. In this historic row house, a screen surprised me descending down a wall, with a projector hanging from the middle of the ceiling. It was almost like going to the movies! I have such serious home envy whenever I set foot in that home.

And to top it off, we had two big, fluffy dogs who would come to attention and bark whenever there were dogs in a scene!

Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery on a cold rainy night? I won’t spoil the plot of “Knives Out” by saying that current political issues figure prominently when the investigator, played by Daniel Craig with a Southern accent, focuses his attention on a nurse named Marta. The privileged white clan/cast cannot seem to agree on what South American country Marta’s family has immigrated from – Paraguay, Ecuador?  https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/11/the-unlikely-hero-of-rian-johnsons-knives-out/602701/

Immigration politics swirls around the story of my night table book, “American Dirt.” First of all, it was one of my monthly First Edition Parnassus Bookclub picks, that arrived in its burlap sack a few weeks ago. I’d already been hooked by American Dirt’s violent opening chapter when I started reading the criticism on Twitter. At first I thought well maybe the author, Jeannine Cummins, isn’t Latina, so undocumented folks and those who love them were skeptical. But she had also initially claimed her husband was an immigrant, without saying he’s from Ireland. Cummins cancelled her book tour.

The novel follows the story of a Mexican woman and her son fleeing to the United States after a drug cartel massacre.
Cummins, who spent five years writing the book, isn’t Mexican or a migrant. The book, which was just published January 21, immediately sparked debate about who can tell what story and diversity within the publishing industry.
It also faced criticism for its reliance on migrant stereotypes, with many pointing out that if an author is going to write about someone different from them, it must be done well. “American Dirt,” some have said, was not — though the book has also been praised by a number of prominent authors.  https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/29/us/american-dirt-jeanine-cummins-author-tour-cancel-trnd/index.html

Is this what we mean by cancel culture? Was Joaquin Phoenix onto something in his Oscar speech before he swerved into the cow/milk controversy? Urban Dictionary tells us this culture is a direct result of social media and people who are, “…quick to judge and slow to question.”

Let’s ask the hard questions of our our Democratic candidates as they head into prime time and super Tuesday. Bloomberg can understand what a single mom is going through, he doesn’t have to be one. I believe a writer should be able to write about anything – a man can write from a woman’s point of view, and vice versa. If I’m writing about the Jewish mob, I need not be a member of that group, I can do the research. And I’m not ready to cancel anyone out of our primary process. I haven’t fallen in love, not yet.

Except for these two chocolate-teeth cherubs!

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Anyone else love Samantha Bee? I caught a bit of her show Full Frontal one night, when she called the movie “Joker” just another story about an angry white guy. Granted I didn’t see the movie, like I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. But I was mildly comforted this morning to read that Joaquin Phoenix, who won the Best Actor award for his performance as Joker last night in Britain, said

“I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here.” 

To me, this is everything. Because Brexit is all about not welcoming “The Other.” Mr T is all about building his wall and keeping The Others out of our country. And even though I heard that JLo and Shakira put on an excellent half-time show, the NFL is all about the money – getting people in their seats and tuning in to watch a game that white-washes the Black Lives Matter movement… at the expense of its players’ mental and physical health.

To be honest, I did catch a bit of The Puppy Bowl.

But it was a dispiriting start to the weekend for many Nashvillians when Sen Lamar Alexander cast his vote against calling witnesses in the Impeachment Trial of Donald J Trump. We really cannot call this a “trial” without witnesses or documents. Even Monica Lewinsky testified (via tape) in Clinton’s trial. Even UVA’s esteemed professor of all things political, Larry Sabato, asked on Twitter if this Senate meeting should be called a sham or a farce instead of a trial. I replied, “It’s a coverup!”

The Senate has said facts are not welcome there. First hand accounts would be useless to their deliberation. If the Donald tells them to blackball a vote why then, they must. I wondered about the etiology of the word “blackball” as soon as it came out of my mind and into my fingers:

The word blackball appears in 1770, referring to a negative vote. Voting through the process of a voter placing either a white ball, or positive vote, into a ballot box or a black ball, or negative vote, into a ballot box, means that voters will remain anonymous and are not forced to give any reason for a negative vote. In some clubs a single black ball means a candidate will be denied membership in the organization, in other clubs there must be two black balls to justify excluding a potential member.  https://grammarist.com/idiom/blackball/

The Hill actually IS a private club of mostly old, white men who are not happy with women and people of colour (as the Brits say) challenging their asses in the seats. Did you know that Mr T watched the Super Bowl with the paying members of his club at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach? We taxpayers paid to fly him down there for the weekend so he could hob nob with people who forked over nearly half a million dollars just to join his historic resort.

Is it funny that he Tweeted a congratulatory note to the Kansas City Chiefs from the “Great State of Kansas?” We have an untethered, narcissistic, idiotic, despot at the helm, who now thinks he can bribe anybody he wants cause hey, it’s in the best interests of the country. And HE is synonymous with the country. Don’t try to find that Tweet, cause somebody changed it to Missouri.

When Mr Alexander voted against calling witnesses I knew the gig was up. We will just have to beat him in November. And who is the next best hope for Iowa and the Democratic party? We cannot afford to play by the rules, we need someone who can stand up, toe to toe with Mr T and call him out on his lies. You can’t beat a bully by turning your other cheek, it doesn’t work that way. We need a fighter, and I’m afraid that Biden’s fighting days are behind him. We don’t need another angry, old white guy.

Tonight I’m heading to my favorite bookstore to hear Rick Wilson speak about Mr T; Wilson is the author of “Running Against the Devil.” About Trump’s little geographical error on Twitter, Wilson said: “This was a silly, innocent mistake” would be more viable if this wasn’t the thousandth iteration of his blistering ignorance.”

https://www.parnassusbooks.net/event/author-event-rick-wilson-author-running-against-devil

This is an art installation of all the people who were killed by guns in 2018 in Nashville. Who will have the guts to take this on?

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It’s one thing to write about your life, and another to dig deeper into the details of one’s life. Bob told me he learned something from my last blog post, which is an important thing to do in any relationship – keep surprising people! The Flapper always said you should “…leave them wanting more,” a theatrical reference about curtain calls I think. But it’s also a pretty good life mantra; end your career at the top for instance, don’t descend into dementia on the job. Anyway, in case you are interested…

1. I’m a real Fan Girl. I’ve met two of my folk/rock/pop idols and tried hard not to gush, but the fine art of small talk just drifts away in the presence of greatness. Last year it was EmmyLou, but when we used to drive out to the Vineyard every spring with the little Love Bug I met Carly Simon in a clothing store. I probably turned red as a beet!

2.  I was once a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Back in the Berkshires, I convinced a friend to take the 6 month course with me. We pushed on a life-sized doll’s chest to try and get her heart beating again, “Annie, Annie are you OK?” Right after we graduated, the city of Pittsfield hired professional firefighters, so our days of volunteer work were done.

3.  Serious Crafting used to be my jam. Like Little Women everywhere, I was told that idle hands are the devil’s playground; thanks Music Man. It all started with quilting, I made aprons and pillows, blankets took way too long. Then I started knitting, mostly kids’ stuff and scarves, though I did once knit a sweater that got me stopped at Heathrow Airport. Today, I dabble with stringing pearls into eternity necklaces.

4.  I try to hide it, but this writer is a Porcelain Snob. It started way before Downton Abbey; maybe it’s the reference to homemaking, for a kid who never settled into anyone’s home. I recently had a dream where I had to explain that I wasn’t IN the foster care system, I just had foster parents. No big deal. But like a true Jersey girl, I never pay full price for my dishes. Great Grandma Ada and I traveled to Trenton to pick out my set of Lenox at the warehouse… this was when it was made in the good ‘ole USA!

5.  While my blog is named Mountain Mornings, I am definitely NOT a Morning Person. I mean I do like to start writing in the mid-morning, but coffee is de rigueur. I could stay up all night reading a good book, btw currently reading Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations, a Natural History of Love and Loss.” It’s a terrific antidote to the times, lulling me to sleep with short snippets of her childhood in rural Alabama juxtaposed with her current life in the city of Nashville. I cannot recommend this beautiful book of essays enough.

6.  I have (or maybe had is the better tense) an uncanny ability to Predict Trends. My fails are: I finally started painting my nails, and it still feels funny; and dyeing my eyebrows which is really funny! My wins are: I knew gaucho pants were looming on the horizon, and smartly avoided purchasing them.  I saw the snap bracelet coming from far away, same thing with oxfords for grown women. I was wearing this comfortable shoe long before Taylor Swift. It troubles me to report that I just bought my first pair of orthotics, per a sports medicine doctor who said I have a healing stress fracture in my foot. Thank you old age.

7.  Last but not least, I now have a Love/Hate Relationship With the Beach! My kids grew up on the Jersey Shore, and before that we’d travel to the Vineyard all the time. Later on, our paradise in the French West Indies was a continual winter retreat. I loved going to bed with sand in the sheets. But now, all that sunshine has crept up on me. Over the years, a dermatologist has been scrapping dubious patches of skin off my arms, hands, and nose. Looking “tan” has lost its cache, relegated to the ash heaps of time and cigarettes. Not that tanning was even possible for me. This explains my hat fetish! Still, my diagnosis of guttate psoriasis means I need some sun every day! What to do?

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Our newly discovered niece, Tamara, was thrilled. She sent us a picture of her son, a high school senior, with his college acceptance letter right before the holidays. He had excelled in his studies and won a scholarship to the school of his choice, the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina! He towered over her, looking somehow humble and proud at the same time. And even though I’d missed his birthdays and holidays over the years, I’m determined to make his graduation this Spring.

This is the pinnacle of a parent’s job here on earth, the icing on the cake of motherhood. After all, we modern moms have little or nothing to do with our child’s choice of friends, which sport they may, or may not want to play, or whether they decide to rehearse their heavy metal band in your garage…but, we may still have a little pull and persuasion in the dastardly-named “college application process.”

And as F Scott Fitzgerald said, “Let me tell you about the very rich, they are different from you and me.” To which the Irish writer Mary Colum replied, “Why yes, they have more money.”

And possibly less scruples. Last week we were shocked, well maybe only slightly shocked, to find out that money seemed to be the defining factor in by-passing the usual college admission rigmarole for a kind of side-door acceptance scheme. The college counselor to the stars and the top 1%, William “Rick” Singer, enlisted university deans and college coaches, along with SAT testing officials to fix the game of College Choice in his client’s favor. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47585336

The case looked at a period between 2011 and 2018, when, according to the authorities, $25 Million in bribes were paid by people looking to sneak around the usual university admittance process. Fifty people – including 33 parents and various sports coaches – were indicted.

In our tony suburb of Rumson, where the Bride played field hockey, the kids drove better cars than the teachers. And guidance counselors were swamped with the high-end demands of their students and parents who were alternately nouveau riche investment bankers or old world riche tennis players. The college admission stakes were high.

The Bride got into Duke the old-fashioned way, although she was a Legacy since Bob had graduated ages ago. Still, we didn’t build a building or donate to the library. Her test scores were her own, as were her grades. Her high school guidance counselor advised against Early Admission, the stakes were too high, but she proceeded and gained entry anyway. Her college essay was about her work at Planned Parenthood, a risky choice. We had done all our heavy lifting in her previous 17 years:

We instilled in her a love of learning, of art, of reading and traveling. We encouraged her curiosity, and desire for social justice. We drove her to and from piano lessons, horseback riding, and even Sea Bright for her very first job as a waitress.  She took charge of her college application process, at one point finding a teacher’s reference letter that the counselor had lost!

When I read that Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman, had not only lied and said her daughter had a learning disability in order to have an unlimited time frame to take the SAT, but was arranging, through Singer, to take that test at a special place in West Hollywood where someone else could pose as her daughter, I was shocked. The fictional daughter was actually an ex-tennis star with a high IQ who often did this for a price; in this case it cost Huffman a mere $15,000, less than the cost of a new Tesla.

We Americans like to think that our country is the one place on earth where Horatio Alger dreams can still come true. A place where with enough hard work and diligence, anyone can rise above their socio-economic circumstances to the the next level. In fact, the opposite is true. People born into wealth here are more likely to keep their status, while someone born into poverty is more likely to stay in that lane. https://www.forbes.com/sites/aparnamathur/2018/07/16/the-u-s-does-poorly-on-yet-another-metric-of-economic-mobility/#4ce797c56a7b

The U.S. is one of only four high income economies amongst 50 economies with the lowest rates of relative upward mobility. While the problems in each country are unique, many solutions are universal. The report highlights much needed investments in early childhood through subsidized childcare and paid leave, nutrition programs, good quality public education programs and schools, improved occupational networks and labor market interventions such as employer tax credits to employ younger workers. But it also points to a new, and often overlooked, factor: the role played by aspirations, both of the parents and the children themselves, and the link between aspirations and mobility. 

Aspirations, what a quaint word. Every parent wants one thing for their child, a safe, effective education. It doesn’t matter if you live in the projects of Jersey City or the suburbs like Rumson or the city of Nashville. And we all know, with private, charter, magnet and regular old public schools, our child’s education is no better than a horse race. The rich are starting off with an advantage, but we cannot allow cheating.

Here is the L’il Pumpkin, who wants to be a fighter like his Great Grandpa Hudson and loves crossing bridges!IMG_2494

 

 

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“Green deck for landing, conditions CAVU.”

John McCain’s son Jack tweeted a tribute to his Dad this morning – conditions are great, “Ceiling and visibility unlimited!” Jack is a Navy lieutenant, a helicopter pilot who graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009. The military is in their blood, and flying into danger was part of their family legacy. Now that the great Senator from Arizona is being laid to rest, his service to our country stands in stark contrast to the current occupant of a gold (whoops, “golf”) course in Bedminster, NJ.

As many of you know, Bob is a private pilot. Although he’s never landed a fighter jet on the prow of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, I like to think I could trust him to land a passenger plane if needed. He likes to follow our flights around the globe on his iPad. I may be reading my Kindle all scrunched up in coach while he happily points out our descent and predicts what runway our Southwest pilot will land on, depending on the wind of course.

Flying around in his old four-seater Piper Arrow, I would breathe a sigh of relief when I saw those three green lights on the console light up, meaning the wheels were down – a very important part of the approach pattern. Kind of like having a green deck for landing!

Yesterday I asked Bob where he was on July 20, 1969 when the Eagle landed on the Moon. We had broken up in college, and he was planning a trip to Woodstock. I was living in a basement apartment in Cambridge, MA with a roomie named Alicia. His parents were away on a trip, and there were lots of friends crashing at Great Grandma Ada’s house on a hill. I asked him if he remembers calling me then, during the moon landing. It’s strange the memories our brains choose to store and those that fall away.

We were reminiscing because I’d played the first trailer of the Rocker’s new company, TOTEM. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/movies/first-man-trailer-ryan-gosling.html

Bob isn’t on social media so I have to keep him up to date with the millennials in our lives. Our son did the sound design and music for the trailer of the film “First Man,” with Ryan Gosling playing Neil Armstrong landing on the Sea of Tranquility, taking that first small step. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html

Flying into the unknown, into clouds or out of earth’s orbit, takes courage and training, knowing a thousand different variables could go wrong. Starting your own business today takes a leap of faith and a lot of talent. And while staying calm under pressure is a reasonable trope for men and women who choose aviation as a career, it could also be said for young entrepreneurs. An image of a Tesla in space comes to mind!

In fact, this morning astronauts on the International Space Station are having to deal with a leak probably caused by a tiny high-speed meteorite. How did they find it? By passing a finger along the wall. How did they fix it temporarily? Using a sealant and duct tape! https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45364155

So big congratulations to my son and his partners in TOTEM. Your parents are over the moon happy and proud of you! https://www.totemmx.com

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We all hate to say good-bye to summer, although in the South summer does linger. Gardens get droopy as children wait for school buses at sunrise. Leaves begin their inevitable transformation while the last crepe myrtle blossoms rain down on my car. But instead of slowing down as temperatures cool, things speed up in our family. We are entering the season of the Birthday Party!

Or as I like to call us, those Christmas Party babies.

Most all of my family birthdays span August and September. And although Martha Stewart I am certainly not, I love to plan the celebration. One year the young Rocker had a treasure hunt on the beach for hundreds of rocks I’d painted gold. Because his birthday is in August, his classmates combined with beach club friends to make a mob scene. Another year, they all played roller hockey at the end of our street.

The Bride’s birthday would fall at the beginning of the school year and one year (around 10 or 11) we rounded up all her friends and stopped by the nearest beauty school for fun makeovers. Before that, we’d had clowns and games in our Berkshire backyard. I remember a Strawberry Shortcake cake. There was a certain New England pride some of us moms felt in doing the deed at home – a leftover martyr complex from our parent’s generation.

This year the Bride took the Love Bug to her first Taylor Swift concert for her birthday present, a rite of passage she is continuing since Bob started bringing our young daughter to Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour at Madison Square Garden. I was not a big concert or band fanatic. I was never a groupie or a Dead Head or a Parrot Top for that matter. But Bob’s identity was forged at Woodstock, and so the tradition continues.

I listened to friends talk about the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert this past week, had coffee with a cousin who was attending the Keith Urban Graffiti U tour at the Bridgestone, and then last night heard all about Tay Tay from my grand daughter. That was this past weekend in Nashville!

Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on something. And I’d always like to slow down time. But over the years, I have seen the Yardbirds, the Stones, the Boss, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel and Sting as back-to-back piano men, and so my life is complete. The concerts I’ve cherished were at Tanglewood over a picnic supper. For now I’ll just tune my Sonos to Mozart and plan our 70th birthday trip to Italy. Wait SEVENTY? Ciao baby!

And what do you mean I’m the last birthday of the year?

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