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Posts Tagged ‘Dogs’

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were young? I don’t mean Santa or the Tooth Fairy; more like an apparition about your own age to hang out with. I didn’t, my children certainly didn’t, and so far the Grands haven’t mentioned it. Then why do I feel like a good proportion of adults in our country are living with or within a delusion of some sort?

Some believe that Mr T is still president. Some even believe that there is a Democratic cabal of pedophiles running things. Blaming ‘the other’ for the unexplainable isn’t anything new; we burned many witches to death in Salem don’t forget. But thanks to social media, crazy talk can spread like a wildfire today.

“In 2020, QAnon supporters flooded social media with false information about Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and the presidential election, and recruited legions of new believers to their ranks. A December poll by NPR and Ipsos found that 17 percent of Americans believed that the core falsehood of QAnon — that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media” — was true.”

https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-qanon.html

Okay, 17% doesn’t seem too bad, until you realize that means about 55 MILLION people! This is not counting the rest of the Republican party who may know the BIG LIE isn’t real, but don’t have enough courage to say so… because of money, power, getting primaried or just plain fear of Mr T and his gun-toting followers.

So nearly half of the country is committed to chaos and disinformation, while the other half is busy trying to get T’s staff to honor a Congressional subpoena in order to get to the bottom of the BIG LIE that led to the insurrection on January 6th.

Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff (2020-2021), can write a tell-all book about his time in T’s White House, and also sue the Senate Judiciary Committee after they plan contempt hearings against him? How does that work, first you pretend to comply with the investigation, and then you have a change of heart? I feel like we’re in a hall of mirrors, which way should we turn, what is real and what isn’t?

This morning I asked Bob why the planners of the Jan 6 insurrection aren’t being called “traitors?” Is it too strong a word? Because Charlottesville was just a rehearsal, while storming Congress in January was a well planned and financed Hail Mary. We need to convict these domestic terrorists, these traitors, before we find ourselves in an authoritarian state.

I recently met a married couple, two women. One was a Protestant preacher and the other was an Episcopalian priest, and no we didn’t walk into a bar. We talked on a porch and they told me that their beliefs only differ on one thing – whether the eucharist is actually the body and blood of Christ.

A loving couple with such a fundamental difference between symbols and reality, and who were gently humorous about it, left me with hope for the human race. That one person can hold conflicting beliefs is normal, you can be a practicing Catholic and still believe in a woman’s right to choice.

But can you call yourself an American and still believe that Mr T actually won the election and/or should be the next president? I mean I kinda believed that Bush stole the election from Gore, but I didn’t buy a gun or storm the Capitol.

Bob and the Grand Dog discussing his walk schedule

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It’s been a quiet, cold weekend and I’ve been noticing that Ms Bean doesn’t like to leave my side.

My rescue dog is almost 14 and doesn’t see or hear very well anymore. Besides fireworks and the usual bombs demolition going off in the neighborhood, she will only react when I sneeze. For some reason, sneezing makes her get up slowly, and walk into another room. The Vet tells us she’s doing fine for her age, but going up the stairs is an effort and her daily walks are getting shorter – like the days.

Still, when I have a little “song and dance” party by myself, Bean will rally. We were watching the CBS Adele concert last night, and she was hopping along with me to the music. The only other time she hops is just before I set down her dinner.

I loved the interruptions of the Oprah interview with Adele throughout the concert at the Griffith. Watching the sunset over Hollywood, then switching to the green and white setting in Oprah’s California rose garden was magical. It felt intimate, just two divas catching up. I had some idea Adele had been married, but no idea she was now divorced with a son. Losing 100 pounds by training and lifting weights? Not really, pretty sure I just thought she looked great. Her album “30” is like every other album title – it’s her age when she wrote the songs.

“It was exhausting, trying to keep going with it. You know, the process, the process of a divorce, the process of being a single parent, the process of not seeing your child every single day wasn’t really a plan that I had when I became a mum. The process of arriving for yourself every single day, turning up for yourself every single day, and still running a business… I felt like not doing it anymore.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-59291000

We’ve all felt like this at times in our lives. You start to wonder about your purpose, you look around at your life and you wonder how in the heck you got here. This was not THE plan you had, like Adele not planning to disrupt her child’s life with a divorce. Because her father had been an abusive, absent alcoholic, her plan was to keep a nice, cozy nuclear family humming along. But that effort was killing the British Grammy winner, and she needed to break free.

Let’s take our American Songstress Nashville version of superstardom, Taylor Swift, who also released an album this week.

Tay Tay is 32, only one year younger than Adele. Of course, I still think of Swift as a twenty-something in cowgirl boots. The Love Bug is positively in love with her! Her trajectory from country starlet to pop sensation was rather bumpy. But I remember when the news hit, about losing all her master recordings to some private equity firm – they sold for 300 Million last November.

Having raised a musician who weathered the sea change at the same time in the music business, I could empathize with Swift’s loss. It wasn’t just the money, it was about control. It was about mastering your own life, like Adele who thought that a marriage would bring her happiness. Both singers write deeply personal, emotional lyrics. Only Swift was bullied and shortchanged not by a husband, but by Scooter Braun, a music tycoon who bought her previous label and sold the rights to her last six albums.

“Swift is a calculating business owner who already recorded two albums during the lockdown simply because it was fun and she didn’t have to spend two years in Lover album promotion cycle. Why wouldn’t Swift take time to re-record her material? Imagine a private equity firm not doing enough due diligence on one of the world’s most surveilled super stars to think Swift wouldn’t take advantage of the time inside to maintain her artistic integrity. The woman once wrote a song about Katy Perry poaching employees!

One hedge fund manager who was approached to buy the catalog told FT: “To extract maximum value from music assets you absolutely need, if not co-operation from the artist, you at least need them to not be actively angry.”

https://jezebel.com/imagine-thinking-taylor-swift-wouldnt-re-record-her-son-1848043235

The artist must not be actively angry so you can commodify them. But anger can be a very good thing. Taylor took time during the lockdown to produce RED (Taylor’s Version), and I may have to run out to Target to buy a CD, if there are any left! This album is breaking Spotify records, as Braun’s hedge fund is declining. Good on you girl.

Adele is an outlier. She signed a 90 Million Euro (130M dollars) deal with Sony/Columbia a few years back and she can write her own ticket. Almost seven years ago, she waited to release her “25” album on streaming services until as many CDs as possible could be sold. This time her album “30” was simultaneously released on vinyl, CD and streaming. Despite not owning her masters, Adele has skyrocketed to super stardom. She took a more traditional musical route, and transformed it into her own.

I still remember the first time the Bride played “Rolling in the Deep” for me. “We could have had it all.” Her voice is simply devastatingly beautiful. Adele appeals to almost every age, she is a more mature Taylor. We are all learning to “process” a new normal these days; as Grandma Ada would say, we are all in transition.

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Testing, one two three. Testing. My patience has been tested like never before these past few weeks. First it was the dumpster.

Right before we flew to LA, a group of smartly dressed people began appearing in front of our living room windows; pointing up, taking pictures and generally talking about their dating lives. Our city farmhouse sits right up to the sidewalk so Ms Bean will yelp every time someone walks by.

Bob of course got the lowdown. It seems there is a major problem with the apartment building across the street. These were professional engineers and photographers and consultants who were about to investigate who was at fault – was it the building’s owners or the builders? They brought in the big dumpster, and dropped it right in front of our front door!

It would only be a couple of weeks they assured us.

Meanwhile, we turned up our classical music on Sonos, brought our cricket-chirping noise machine downstairs, and attempted to carry on all while parking our car at the opposite end of our street so we wouldn’t block traffic. I longed for my quiet Blue Ridge sanctuary as I watched a guy in a cherry picker strip siding off the apartment building and toss it in the dumpster.

Would this building collapse like the one in Miami? There was no time to worry since we hopped on a plane to California.

When we returned surprise surprise, the dumpster was still there and it had a friend – a big green cherry picker parked directly across from our garden. Before we left, the picker had left every evening, but now it must be moving in.

The black tarps down the five story building would flutter with the wind when I opened the living room shutters, and come Monday morning, a miracle. No noise! Tuesday morning came and nobody showed up, nada. So Bob had a little talk with the building manager and whatdoyaknow, the dumpster and the cherry picker disappeared…. All except the fluttering black tarps that grace the view from my window.

Instead of enjoying the relative quiet, we packed up Ms Bean and drove to Atlanta. Her car sickness is well behind her, she happily curled up in the back seat. The four hour road trip saw very few people wearing masks, and now that we’ve arrived it’s even less.

Our Big Chill reunion got off to a great start because everybody is vaccinated and our friends had just installed a pool! Our host was in Guys and Dolls with me, he’s a retired PA. I attended the Junior Prom with the lawyer from Buffalo. And Bob’s best bud came all the way from Richmond, an engineer recently single. Our history goes back to elementary school for Bob, and I was lucky to join the group of nerdy smart kids in high school.

But our host’s daughter was recently exposed to someone with COVID. So the weekend is ours to reminisce and laugh and cry over our lost brothers, Lyle, Rich, Dickie. To debate the merits of crystals. To catch up on our respective lives, good and bad.

And just as we were lounging around the gorgeous pool, we heard construction noise nearby, like right next door. A tree had fallen on the neighbor’s house and so…. Here we were in this verdant Atlanta suburb, and it wasn’t filled with leaf blowers but good ole heavy construction was going on a mere 50 ft away.

We feasted on Low Country Stew and had a yummy peach cobbler for dessert last night. I wonder if it was a peach tree.

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Herb plants are potted and vegetables are in the raised bed. I’ve added a new phlox to the garden and even sprinkled some flower pots about just for fun. As much as gardening is hard work, somehow this year I couldn’t wait to dig my hands in the dirt. And I’ll blame it on the Zoom Pilates, my body hardly suffered from all that bending and hoisting.

Which leads me to ask, what do you do just for fun?

I’m currently reading a book about fun by Annie F Downs; “THAT SOUNDS FUN” or The Joys of being an amateur, the power of falling in love, and why you need a hobby! The Grands and I did a quick trip through Parnassus Bookstore and I was drawn to the local author table. I rarely need to buy a book because of Bob’s monthly gift from the store’s signed first edition club, plus my family and friends revolving free library. But I was drawn to the title after this past pandemic year.

Fun can be big or small, it can be planned or spontaneous. For example, the Bride lets us know when she’s working a day shift and the Groom is in the Covid ICU. This is bound to be a wonderfully fun day for me because I get to puppy sit! I mean, who doesn’t love a puppy? Especially one with big pink ears who looks like Winston Churchill! In fact, today our little Frenchie is on the scene.

So gardening can be a chore, and puppy sitting could be an obligation, it just depends on your attitude. Like cooking, for instance.

I can honestly say that I used to adore cooking, especially for loved ones. It’s my “love language” I’ve been told. But EVERY single day, breakfast/lunch/dinner for a year, and usually just for the two of us… has become a bit mundane. And I like prepping and chopping and such solo, it’s meditative for me. But, since Bob has discovered sourdough, we have to work around each other in the kitchen.

If I’m doing Zoom Pilates in the morning, and I’ve figured out in my mind what’s for lunch and dinner – yes, food is often what I’m thinking about on the yoga mat – then I’m a happy camper. Last week I’d roasted a big pork loin and delivered it to the Groom because the Bride had an evening shift. He was happily surprised to have dinner delivered along with the above mentioned puppy. Then the next day the Bride told me the truth.

They are trying to go meatless for the month of April!

I mean the whole family has decided to tackle Climate Change by changing their diet. I did see it coming; the Love Bug loves pasta with butter, period, and has already delivered a speech to her class about making Mondays meatless in their cafeteria. Still, it was a shock. It was like my daughter telling me she had to stop ballet classes when she turned 10. It was interfering with her schoolwork!

This weekend the Bride made meatless meatballs with chickpeas that were kind of like falafel. And she suggested we join them on a Zoom call with their friends (other doctors and environmental lawyers) about the agricultural impact of Climate Change. We learned that often rain forests are clear cut to make way for cattle grazing – and the more cows and sheep we consume, the more methane these animals produce.

“…global greenhouse gas emissions will need to fall by 40% to 50% in the next decade. Scientists say the only way to achieve that reduction is to significantly increase the amount of land that’s covered in trees and other vegetation and significantly reduce the amount of methane and other greenhouse gases that come from raising livestock such as cows, sheep and goats.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/08/08/748416223/to-slow-global-warming-u-n-warns-agriculture-must-change

Bob and I were not only intrigued, we were mortified. At least we are open to learning something new from our children. Ever since Bob turned 40 I’ve been trimming away red meat, making turkey meatballs for health reasons. Now, we can factor in a healthy planet for future generations. I only have two caveats – the production of cheese is considered to have a negative impact on the environment, and so is the farming of shrimp! These are two steps too far.

Tonight we’ll play Super Boggle and I’ll make veggie burgers just for fun.

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We all know that special somebody, the guy who will always play devil’s advocate. One could say that the previous administration held a daily master class in What Aboutism – in other words, accusing the other side of rotten deeds in order to take the pressure off of their own nefarious activities. Remember when wind power was really starting to gain hold in our national grid, then somebody said,

“But what about all the dead birds!” Now that was classic because it implies that the speaker was really concerned with the environment. What a textbook con artist ploy.

Whataboutism is considered a form of the logical fallacy called tu quoqueLatin for “you also”—more like “And so are you!” in contemporary speech. The idea, here, is that a person charged with some offense tries to discredit the accuser by charging them with a similar one or bringing up a different issue altogether—none of which is relevant to the original accusation. It’s basically like blowing a raspberry at someone and saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” Classy, right?

https://www.dictionary.com/e/whataboutisms/

It is the Beavis and Butthead of debate, creating discord and blame in order to steer the conversation elsewhere. Case in point – my desire to buy a house, not a plane or a boat. I want to plant roots before I die, I’m tired of all this transplanting. If I say, “Let’s buy something in California,” I hear, “But what about all the wildfires… and the earthquakes!” If I say, “Let’s buy something in Hawaii,” I hear, “But what about the volcanoes?” Let’s not even mention Tennessee, all those Republicans! I realize that stasis is easy and change is hard, but what about my feelings??

This morning the sun is out, and after a week of temperatures in the teens, it’s going to be mid-60s today. Positively convertible weather. And the Senate is about to interview some witnesses from the January 6th insurrection. What to do, what to do? The journalist in me wants to hear about all the nitty gritty failures of the Capitol security system. Why did it take so long for help to arrive, what’s with the Pentagon? But the Bride is home today and Bob is planning to walk Ms Bean and what about my desire for some Vitamin D? A little sunshine is good for my psoriasis too.

Long ago I banished the “woulda, coulda, shouldas” from my vocabulary. Those words only lead to shame and blame, and I for one had enough of that in Catholic School. But, I can still get sidetracked by a good What Aboutism. Mostly as the recipient, so I’ll try and use this ploy myself, in order to master recognizing the technique, and thereby pointing it out to the people who trade in it. Let’s practice What Aboutism for a few minutes.

What About these gender reveal parties?

My generation had baby showers with lots of yellow baby clothes. We didn’t have ultrasounds to announce a baby’s sex, we were surprised each and every time. Does having a gender reveal party mean you have to have another baby shower later? Isn’t that just greedy? I actually “get” why people would want to know the sex of their soon to be baby – what I don’t get is making a spectacular show of the news to plaster all over social media. Plus, they are dangerous, and… Covid.

Last Sunday a gender reveal party killed the father of a fetus in Liberty, NY when his improvised explosive device backfired. The man’s brother was helping him and said it was, “The freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.” STOP right there! Most emergency departments know all about July 4th freaky explosive accidents. They write all about them in journals. People lose eyes and fingers all the time!

Gender reveal parties have also started wildfires in California and Arizona. In my mind, these parties are detrimental to the health and welfare of our environment – not to mention the lives and limbs of those who play with grenades and colored pink smoke bombs and cannons. Kind of like MAGA hatters who play with flags and fire hydrants and guns.

What About making an old fashioned list? You know, that list of people to call once the baby is born, or email, or text or whatever. Make that list up early and send everybody an email, or send them pink or blue cupcakes if you really must know if it’s going to be a girl or a boy. Or a “they.” Personally, I like a bit of a surprise.

I mean, What About just NOT knowing? It’s like getting a pup-cup at Starbucks!

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Yesterday was a “Snow Day” for us. Luckily enough, while most of Nashville remained shuttered and iced over, both parents were required to work at their respective hospitals. Not only did we get the little Frenchie pup for the day, but the Love Bug and the not so little Pumpkin arrived too, ready to make their first actual snowman. Having nearly four-five inches of snow fall is quite a first for this part of the South, but having below freezing temps all week meant it would stick around for awhile!

After creating a volcano in the snow, building a snow “person,” and having a snowball fight, the kids were ready for some warmth. I made grilled cheese sandwiches and butternut squash with kale soup for lunch, followed up by a recipe for “S’more Cookies.” We don’t exactly have “quiet time” at Nana and Pop Bob’s, but the Pumpkin managed to demonstrate his reading skills. Listening to him read Calvin and Hobbes aloud while giggling reminded me of how much the Rocker loved those books as a child.

We may have watched a little Disney on TV, but I was in a total news blackout all day. Last evening, I noticed a White House reporter I follow on Twitter posted a vintage travel poster of Cancun! Mexico?! I was stumped, until I read further. Poor Ted Cruz, why can’t people understand he was only leaving his country to make a better life for his kids. I mean I understand dreaming about palm trees, I totally get it Senator.

But leaving your little Poodle behind, alone in a freezing cold house without any water – now that is a crime!

When our house flooded in Rumson, Bob and I were in Las Vegas for a medical conference. In fact we arrived at our hotel, turned on the TV and found out that this “No Name Storm” was devastating the Jersey coast. I never unpacked, we tried all night and the next day to fly home but airports were closed. The house-sitter-baby-sitter, Bride and the Rocker were evacuated by a dear friend who was married to a firefighter, but they left our two Corgis in the laundry room with bowls of food and water.

The Laundry Room! Only the garage and the lower level of our rambling mid-century ranch was flooded, the water never reached the laundry room, and Tootsie and Blaze were fine, despite their short little legs. Our friend had cats and made the split second decision to leave the dogs behind. One wonders what went through Cruz’ risk-benefit analysis of the emergency situation in Texas – let’s see. No heat, check. No water, check. Let’s blame this on the Green New Deal, the 10% wind power failure, put our tail between our legs and board a plane for Margaritaville.

“Snowflake will be OK, maybe the security detail guarding my house will check in on the poodle?”

And btw, why would a Republican-Trump-type name his dog “SNOWFLAKE” anyway? That would be like Biden’s German Shepherds being named Filibuster and Insurrectionist! Talk about Cancel Culture, I mean every snowflake is different and when you add them all up you get a village of snowpeople!

Cruz needs to do a Ted Talk for Texans. Although when your GOP becomes a sad, angry group of old white men who would rather shame and blame and conceal their weapons rather then work out a sustainable energy policy for their state you may want to check yourself. And admit it, we know the optics of you at the airport with a bag packed for some sun and fun is really what you regret. Getting caught demonstrating your callousness. And the picture of your Poodle sitting in the doorway, home alone, will last longer than a snowman in the South.

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We’ve been doing a bit of grandpuppy sitting lately. And today I forgot we had a scheduled Pilates class when the Bride’s Frenchie, Watson, showed up for some stretching too. He’s learning his polite dog skills and usually scratches the door for a potty break. Poor Ms Bean has learned to give up her dog bed and reluctantly give in to playtime. But she still doesn’t understand why Watson gets to eat lunch and she doesn’t!

I only had to get up twice to let the dogs out, so I missed out on our “stomach series.” And my tummy thanks them. Then the feminist in me was triggered when I read a text about another interloper – only this one wore heels and red lipstick. A Tweet wondered why White feminist writers were not calling out the latest Republican NRA devotee to Congress.

Elected this Fall, the freshman House member from Georgia is a known QAnon conspiracy theorist, and full blown pro-Trump insurrectionist. Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t wear face paint or Viking furs, she strolls through the Capitol with impunity carrying her concealed weapon around the metal detectors. She has verbally assaulted her colleague, Democrat Cori Bush, causing Bush (who is Black btw) to move her office further away from Greene in the interest of her staff’s safety. What other disrespectful and incendiary things can one congresswoman do?

“Ms. Greene suggested in 2018 that a devastating wildfire that ravaged California was started by “a laser” beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats. She endorsed executing Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She served as a prolific writer for a now-defunct conspiracy blog called “American Truth Seekers,” writing posts with headlines including “MUST READ — Democratic Party Involved With Child Sex, Satanism, and The Occult.” And she argued that the 2018 midterm elections — in which the first two Muslim women were elected to the House — were part of “an Islamic invasion of our government.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/29/us/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-republicans.html

Imagine my surprise on Holocaust Remembrance Day to see “Jewish space laser” trending on Twitter.

But the feminist in me wasn’t surprised. Sarah Palin wrote the playbook for conservative Christian women running for office. The largely male, White Republican party thought oh great, we need the new blood, we need women, let’s just see how far they can go. The old GOP didn’t count on the public electing delusional and destructive Breakers. And yet, here we are. Let’s not forget another gun-toting-loving woman Rep from Colorado, Lauren Boebert.

Boebert also vowed to carry her Glock all around the US Capitol and in the streets of Washington, DC. So far she hasn’t assaulted other members of Congress or said that the murder of schoolchildren in Parkland was a hoax.

Sometimes you can think something abnormal is a “one off,” but after January 6th, we would be deluding ourselves to think the enemy is not already within the gates of power; and Marjorie Taylor Greene is flush with power. Does it make it better if it’s women flaunting the rules, brandishing guns, instead of men?

“… (Greene) issued what amounted to a threat to top Republicans who might be contemplating punishing her, warning that they would pay steep consequences.

“’If Republicans cower to the mob, and let the Democrats and the fake news media take me out,’” Ms. Greene said, “’they’re opening the door to come after every single Republican until there’s none left.’”

Greene’s choice of words here is instructive – letting fake news “take me out,” sounds ominous enough, and then her facile reference to a Holocaust prayer by Pastor Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

From space lasers to paranoid thinking about Democrats opening every door to punish Republicans who only want to overturn an election. Seditionists. Using anti-Semitic tropes while looking totally rational is a skill set we’ve seen before.

If Republicans can’t clean their own house, well maybe they need to watch Watson as we crate train him? Amirite Ms Bean?

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A Southern summer is upon us. You can smell jasmine in the air. In this Time of Coronavirus, the days seem to creep by slower and more deliberately. First up: watering the garden right after breakfast because later in the day would be miserable; temperatures soar past 90 and the humidity is at extreme beach hair levels.

I’m feeling confined again, not just from this pandemic but also from the Nashville weather.

Luckily, Bob and I did manage to get out of the house this past holiday weekend. The Bride and Groom were cooking hot dogs and veggie burgers so we sat on one side of their expansive front porch. Two old grandparents in a pair of rocking chairs! After a week of hugs and kisses in Florida I’m bereft, we are again consigned to making a beating heart with our fingers and blowing kisses. Our first socially distant Fourth of July.

Even in the shade, and with fans whirring above our heads, sweat ran down my back. Even their two rescue dogs snuck back into the cool, air-conditioned house, abandoning food and family on the porch.

The real excitement came earlier in the day while I was assembling a vegetable tart. The Bride texted me – “I’m going to West Elm to look at rugs, wanna come?”

You betcha! A big, beautiful store? Why I haven’t been inside anything but a Whole Foods in months, during “senior” hours. Bob gave me his quizzical look, the one that says do you really want to risk your life over a bunch of tchotchkes? But I DID. I wanted to get out of the house, alone in the car for awhile, and wander around this hip, modern furniture store on the fancy side of town. With my daughter. Wearing masks of course. And it was delightful.

Everyone in the store was wearing a mask, and it was very early so there were just a few customers. The soaring ceiling gave me an extra level of comfort. I sat in swivel chairs. I picked up dishes even though a sign said “touchless shopping” was appreciated. Mea Culpa. We looked at rugs, all kinds of rugs; some with wool from New Zealand and some that resembled a Jackson Pollock painting. We were looking for an 8×10 to go into her new library – shelves had been built after all, and she wanted a cozy rug.

A soft, cozy rug to entice her little digital natives to curl up with a book.

But then I spotted one man in the store, walking around holding a mask in his hand. It wasn’t on his chin, or over his mouth right under his nose, which is another pet peeve. I guess he was too lazy to actually put it on on his face? He trailed behind his wife and a store employee, both in masks, and I had such a visceral feeling of contempt. Is he stupid? Does he feel like the rules – specifically for a mask mandate in public – don’t apply to him? He was not abiding by this social contract, he was threatening all our lives.

My daughter had just finished an evening shift in the ER, she had worn an N95 the night before for eight hours straight, and we were wearing our homemade cloth masks in the store. Our first time in a store. The least he could do was #MaskUp. To be clear, most people in Nashville are now wearing masks in public. We are still in the business of making masks for neighbors, in fact, the Grands like to count the number of masks they see whenever they ride in a car.

I really wanted to confront the mask-in-hand man, but I just steered clear. After all, what if he was a “Florida Man?” What if he started yelling at me, accusing me of taking away his freedom? What if he called the police? After all I’m a “Jersey Girl” so I wouldn’t back away from a fight.

I wonder, is a “Florida Man” the male equivalent of a “Karen?” I know lots of lovely Karens and hate this sobriquet for a middle-aged, white entitled woman; it seems like just another sexist remark. Maybe we should all stop using mean, stereotypical words to describe the human race!

Besides I just finished a Qigong class with my Florida man via Zoom. He lives in Gainesville and is absolutely kind and generous! I’m sure he wears a mask in public. And now I have to set up the yoga mats for Pilates Zoom with Bob.

Come to think of it, this hazy, lazy summer is starting to get busy!

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At daybreak, I hear Ms Bean’s clickety paws on the floor, and the bedroom door closes. If I’m lucky, I might get another sleep cycle. When I wake from my Covid dream, the one about keeping Great Grandma Ada away from the crowded dining hall at Camp St Joseph, I have to change my nightgown. Bob likes our bedroom freezing cold at night, and I’ve been sweating glowing a lot lately.

Breakfast is easy; but first, coffee. I know Bob loves me because he keeps the Keurig carafe filled with water. I need to wake up with a big mug, my only caffeine fix of the day. And I like to watch a few cable news networks in the process – how many more deaths, what state is seeing a spike in virus infections, what does, “Defund the Police” actually mean?

Breakfast is a banana, covered in vanilla yogurt and granola. My favorite Hudson Henry granola from Virginia, the orange bag with pecans and chocolate. We order it in bulk, direct from the company. I pour myself a big glass of green iced tea, and flip open my laptop.

Bob eats Eggo waffles most days and doesn’t like watching the news in the morning. He’d much rather watch Rachel Maddow at night; we are the exact opposite in our daily news consumption. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I watched Rachel before bed. Or if I did, my Covid nightmares would get worse.

This morning, he’s in the living room with classical music and his iPad. Soon, he’ll be outside watering the garden.

In my office, I check in on Twitter, the BBC, and the New York Times, in that order. Did you know that Winston Churchill was a racist? An idea for an essay is percolating in my mind. I look up and out the window, something has caught my eye. Beyond the parking lot across the back alley, a shirtless man keeps popping up doing jumping jacks. Intrigued, I stand to get the full view – eight push-ups on the ground followed by the jump.

Some people miss the gym more than others.

Around 9am Bob pops in to say he’ll be walking Ms Bean, and I hear her happy joy circle dance by the front door. He yells back, “By the way, I fed the starter.” My cell is off and Bob knows not to disturb me when I’m writing. How do I know? I know this because I overheard him tell a friend that Tuesdays he’s on his own in the morning! Well until 11am anyway.

We used to drive Ms Berdelle to 11am T’ai Chi at the Y on Tuesdays, but now we set up two yoga mats on the floor in the living room. Bob has decided to join my Zoom Beginner Pilates class. He’s read my post and gives me feedback like any good editor while we gather foam rollers, balls and exercise bands, the tools of the senior set.

During Pilates I find out there’s a fire burning in Tucson, where my instructor’s mother lives, and she had to be evacuated last night. I try to concentrate on cracking a walnut between my shoulder blades, sticking my tush out, and what I’m going to make for dinner. I try not to think about climate change.

After Pilates Bob asks, “Do we have any plans for lunch?”

Luckily, I don’t have any plans for lunch, so we decide to walk down to the Vietnamese restaurant and see if there’s a table on the socially distant patio. We haven’t been out to eat in three months. Unluckily, all the tables, which is maybe half of the usual tables, are occupied so we pick up two ready made salads and walk home. I really miss going out for lunch.

Long ago Bob told me I was making him fat because I’m a pretty good cook, a backhanded compliment for sure – ever since that day, whenever I cook something for us to eat, he gets to make his own plate. You see, somewhere along my feminist learning curve I decided that I was supposed to plan and shop and cook a delicious dinner every single night… for 41 years… but not breakfast or lunch.

I never got the memo that I didn’t have to cook dinner. I still look with wonder at younger women who say they never cook. I mean, is that even possible?

After lunch we decide to make a Shipt order on my computer. Bob likes to do this with me, he drags in another chair so we can sit side by side while we discuss the status of milk in the refrigerator. We would rarely go grocery shopping together in the past, but he needs more bread flour. Bob is now on his fifth try at perfecting sourdough bread, in my vintage Dutch oven.

“You should see, my starter is growing!” Bob tells me proudly and we discuss the merits of sourdough baking – damp towels, parchment paper, bubbling.

The afternoon is upon us and it’s time to start our day, so we go back upstairs to shower and I change my yoga pants and floss my teeth. I’m responding to comments on social media about my blog on my phone and doing laundry when I hear a timer go off. It’s time for Bob to “do something” big, there’s lots of noise in the kitchen. I think he’s making the dough, or maybe it’s time to “stretch and fold.”

Then my phone bings and we have to drive-through the pharmacy and get a case of wine curbside delivered.  We suit ourselves up in masks and head for the car. As soon as I start the engine, my cell rings so loudly on blue tooth that we both startle. Four people call us in that 15 minute round-trip ride. A brother has a tax question, a grand daughter has a bee bite, a neighbor has a medical consult, and what color gray should the Bride paint her new bookshelves?

We arrive home and I Google “panzanella” salad. What a great Italian idea for the heel of a sourdough loaf of bread! It’s also close enough to 5 o’clock somewhere to pour a cold, glass of unoaked Chardonnay. But first I must feed Ms Bean.

Then I tell Bob to pick some kale, and I pick some tarragon. Chopped garlic and tarragon, mixed with a little honey mustard and salt and pepper, then add Balsamic vinegar and some good EVOO. I wash and halve some cherry tomatoes, tear up the kale, and Bob’s picked a pepper too. I improvised and threw in some leftover pasta salad and added some cubes of Swiss cheese, but any hard cheese would do. I combine the chunks of bread that I’ve dried a bit in a hot oven with the veggies and pour the vinaigrette over it all.  https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-panzanella-italian-bread-salad-recipe-206824

We had to dance around each other in our galley kitchen since Bob was kneading or rolling dough while I was assembling the salad, but he pronounced it my best summer salad evah!

Time for another stroll with Ms Bean. She’s super excited because I’m joining them. We’ve relaxed our puppy sniffing rules a bit, but we still don’t stop to pet other dogs. Sometimes we talk, but half the young people in our neighborhood are not wearing masks. How can people be so callous? Our Mayor has decided to keep Nashville at Phase 2 of re-opening, but we’re staying home in our own Phase 1 for the most part.

The bread is sitting on the counter rising, and we’re ready to wind down. Tomorrow morning the sourdough bread goes in the oven. We might play Scrabble or watch Netflix tonight. Or talk to the kids on the patio across the way, they are both residents at Vanderbilt. Our kids are driving to the beach for a well deserved vacation from Covid.

We could all use a vacation about now.

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Yesterday, Bob was outside the front door doing some weeding. Our raised bed of vegetables is on the south side of the house, not within the confines of our fenced-in garden. I was stringing a few pearls together in my first pandemic necklace when I heard him yell, “Honey, come here, quick.”

He told me all about the fat and healthy red fox that had just strolled around the front corner of the house under a holly bush. They were an arm’s length away from each other. Of course Bob saw him (or her) the very second his hand was pulling up a weed – as they locked eyes I’m sure they were both shocked! The fox immediately took off across our not/so/busy street and around an apartment building.

Imagine that, in a city of a million and a half people, nature can still find a way.

This is day #13 of quarantine. I’ve stopped watching the White House Pressers about the Coronavirus, they only serve to bolster Mr T’s fragile ego. He is selling us a fool’s paradise, and I for one am not buying his lies.

But I am crossing off the days on my old-fashioned paper calendar, eager to put each day behind me. Luckily Ms Bean requires a slow-walk each and every day, sometimes three! And now that the sun has returned and Spring has arrived, these meditative walks are a kind of salvation.

They are a way to still the noises in my head, all the “what ifs” and “if onlys.” A stroll around the neighborhood tethered to Ms Bean keeps me here, grounded in the Present. This morning, the sun has come up and the temperature will climb to 80 degrees. The rain has stopped for now. And while drinking coffee and reading my online papers, I noticed a tiny headline: “Yale Happiness Course Takes Off.”

It seems that since December, this online course titled “The Science of Well Being” has enrolled 1.3 million people worldwide. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52055242

Now, when over half a million people around the world are infected with the Coronavirus, and everyone is isolating themselves to flatten the curve, and the Bride is donning her PPE and caring for patients in her ER, and the Groom is planning to make ICU beds appear all over his hospital, and we can’t visit Great Grandma Ada and Hudson, and we can’t hug the Love Bug or tickle L’il Pumpkin…

Now more than ever, I have to keep hope alive.

“People in these situations tend to either look backwards for solutions or ruminate about possible futures: Will I go back to work? Will I be able to afford getting sick? Can I support my family if they get sick?

“While both those abilities are very adaptive in solving immediate problems or challenges or an immediate threat, they’re very harmful in situations like the one we’re in the middle of where the threat is ambiguous, the duration is unknown.”

It’s important to mention that only here, in the US, are people worried about hospital bills. Only here, in our great country, would someone not seek emergency medical treatment because they are afraid it would bankrupt them.

While waiting for the spike of this curve, we have to keep hope alive. And one way to do it is to stay in the PRESENT. Mindfulness isn’t easy during a pandemic. I notice every little flower on my walks, every flowering vine that threatens to engulf a mailbox. I would usually bring my phone with me, to take pictures, but it’s better if I leave it at home and stay present.

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS is another way to support our sanity. We’ve been Facetiming with the Rocker and Aunt KiKi. They have dueling desks set up in their California home and have had Zoom conferences with colleagues. The Bride turned me onto Marco Polo, an APP that’s like video texting, and we’ve been having fun with friends just capturing a snippet of time each day. Steve sent us video of a huge hawk in his yard yesterday! And of course, we talk on the phone too.

Yesterday we walked around the Bride’s neighborhood looking for teddy bears in windows. It was so hard to stay ten feet apart, to not touch the children.

The third linchpin of well being is a daily PRACTICE of GRATITUDE. Bob and I have been doing this on a pretty regular basis before bed. I can’t watch the news at night these days, but I can recall small pleasures during the day, things that bring me joy. Sometimes it’s just the sound of Ms Bean snoring, or a tulip that popped up under the cherry tree. Sometimes it’s the young man who delivers a restaurant meal. We can always name three things we’re grateful for.

Like the red fox foraging under the holly.

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