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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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I heard the clickity-clack of Ms Bean’s toes pacing around the bedroom, followed by flashes of lightening and thunder. I had no idea what time it was when Bob’s cell started blaring like an Amber Alert. Then came the sirens. It was 12:45 am.

That night, Bob had gone out to a neighborhood association meeting. I was disgusted with politics – Amy had dropped out, then Pete – and I’d become habituated to the  non-stop storm weather coverage. Tornado watches were nothing new in Nashville. Following all the transplanted, tough northerners, I barely paid attention to the predicted path of what might become a twister.

Instead, I tuned into The Hunters, on Amazon Prime.

Bob usually wakes up fast, but he must have been in a deep sleep cycle because it took his screeching phone to get him up and out of bed and into his office. The TV anchor said, “A tornado has touched down in Nashville, get to your safe space immediately.” And just like that, the darkness enveloped us – lights, TV, street lights were all gone and all we could hear were the sirens. “Get Dressed,” he told me in a way that meant this is an emergency, do what I say, I’m the doctor (for Dr Who fans).

I pulled on a pair of pants under my nightgown, got my robe and went downstairs with Ms Bean nearly attached to my knees. Our only space without windows, since we don’t have a basement, is under the stairs at our game table. I could hear the wind rattling the windows, and the blinds upstairs went whooshing. Bob said he heard a freight train, but all I could hear were the sirens and the windows and the whistling in my ears. As I sat down like I was ready to play a game of backgammon I realized I only had my bedroom slippers on…

So I went to the front door in the dark to find a pair of boots. After all, if we were buried in this house I’d need to be able to walk out to whatever was left. I could hear hail pelting the windows and the doors. And then, just as fast as it started, it was over. Maybe it only lasted a minute or two, and I felt like we were tickled by the tail end of hell. I could hear the emergency alarm from the apartment complex across the street, and the sirens kept blaring for another half hour.

The Bride woke us at 6 am. Were we OK? She wanted to come to us but streets were blocked.

I put some Aussie Bites and iced tea out on our picnic table, people stopped by to tell me their stories. One girl was from Oklahoma and she slept through everything! When we walked Ms Bean that first morning, everyone on the street was in shock. Ms Berdelle’s son Scott was staying with her thank God, so many of her big tress were down. One crushed her friend’s car. All her clerestory dining room windows were broken. Another friend, the girl who loves my chicken soup, wondered if we had a tarp, one of her windows was gone.

Then I turned a corner and debris was everywhere, windows were blown out of fancy, three story condos. It felt like I’d entered a war zone.

Yesterday we were part of a cleanup crew. Pulling mangled pieces of steel off sidewalks, picking up roof tiles and chunks of insulation, sweeping sidewalks. My arthritic knees did about as much bending as they could do. Tears had been close for a long time, our house was fine, we had only lost power along with the rest of the city. But seeing neighbors come together, giving out water, setting up food and charging stations, rolling up their sleeves to help, that’s when it hit me. It’s the kindness that gets me every time.

I still cry now. For the horrible loss of life. For the people whose homes are condemned. For our neighborhood non-profit, Crossroad Pets, a pet store with a purpose. Their building was hit hard. https://crossroadscampus.org/

They take in stray animals for adoption and train local, disadvantaged youth in grooming and general animal care. Many of their employees have aged out of the foster care system, and y’all know I was once a foster child. If anyone is looking to help out with donations, Crossroads could sure use your help.

I want to thank so many of you for reaching out to check on me and the family. The Great Grandparents live 8 miles away and are doing fine. We’re camping with the Bride and Groom until the power comes back. The Bride saw a man with carbon monoxide poisoning, so remember to keep those generators outside if you’re lucky enough to have one. And always look for people helping people.

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When I first met Wendi, she was holding her baby boy. Her smile was like sunshine as she showed me around the property. We had finally moved to Virginia, and when the Bride and I first saw the house, she had been away on a business trip. My soon-to-be landlord was a fabulous designer, she flew all over the country installing the dreams of her famous clients.

Strangely enough on that crystal clear day in Charlottesville, Wendi was in New Jersey.

But at our first look, her husband, wanted us to rent their guest cottage. He knew the Bride was starting at UVA Medical School, and he was psyched about our Duke connection. As he led us through the main house and into the dining room, where an old Dutch master-like portrait of a man with a beard hung over a sideboard, I wasn’t prepared for this revelation.

“There’s a building at Duke University named after my ancestor,” he said pointing up to the painting, “It’s the Allen Building.”

In fact, Bob and the Bride were well acquainted with the Allen Building. Turns out it was named after a good friend of JB Duke in the early 1920s, a man from Warrenton, NC – George Garland Allen. Allen had started out as a bookkeeper for the American Tobacco Company in 1895, working his way up in the Duke organization.

My new landlord’s Great Grandfather, on his Mother’s side, had been known to say it was easier to accumulate his wealth than it was to give it away.

This didn’t stop us from moving our Welsh Corgi along with big Buddha Bear and Bailey Dawg (the Bride’s Lab) into the smaller “cottage” on their property. Wendi welcomed us with open arms, in fact she collected a menagerie of dogs too – from a sublime Great Dane to another ridiculous Corgi! When we finally built our house overlooking the Blue Ridge, Wendi had 2 small boys, and 2 matching Labs.

In contrast to her husband’s Southern lineage, Wendi was a California girl. She didn’t come from money; she had been a nanny in NY and then went to school for design. She built her own business from the ground up, and juggled 2 children with the demands of her world-wide clientele. I remember distinctly when she told me about this woman who would come in and cook you a week’s worth of meals on a Sunday and put them in the freezer.

Aha, so this was how working women who might jet off at a moment’s notice took care of their family. This was before GrubHub.

Wendi would throw great Gatsbyesque parties around their pond behind their home. She sent her boys to the public school and became one of the fiercest football moms around. She loved keeping tabs on the Rocker, and made sure her boys knew all about his band. When the Parlor Mob stopped by on a swing through Virginia, she treated them like royalty. When I became secretary of the local book club, she’d make a point of attending if she was in town.

She was one or two decades younger than most of us; a doctor, a few lawyers, a few teachers, and me, the one who could make an email list-serve. Wendi’s California blonde exuberance would always add the fun component to our gatherings. After her divorce, she started a new business of high-end consignment pop-ups that housed many of the pieces Bob and I couldn’t carry with us to Nashville.

Last month, after saying goodbye to her oldest son, who was heading to Australia for his college semester abroad, Wendi died tragically, she was only 53 years old. That baby, that I first met on her hip, is now in high school. When my old friend and neighbor called to tell me the news, I was shaking. How can this be? Didn’t I just talk with her about our trip to Tulum? Didn’t I just see beautiful pictures on Instagram of her December holiday in Puerto Rico? She’d found a new love, and life was looking good for my friend.

How can a light like that be extinguished? My lovely, vibrant Wendi, how can this happen? I hope you knew how many people loved you. Your outstanding sons are your legacy, your Valentines in football jerseys. Sleep peacefully dear heart.

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This morning, I awoke to a Tweet from Greta Thurnberg, the teenage Climate Activist from Sweden. This was her answer to #2019inFiveWords:

“Our house is on fire.”

You’ve got to admit, this young lady is consistent. She didn’t say the “Climate” is on fire, or the “Planet,” she said, “OUR HOUSE!” If I found my actual house was on fire, I’d pick up that little red fire extinguisher we keep in the kitchen and have at it. I’d dial 911. I’d clear all the people and pets out, maybe I’d take some family pictures. But come to think of it, most have been digitized, so I’d pick up my laptop. If I had the time that is…

Greta is trying to tell us this is personal. We shouldn’t get distracted with Impeachment Hearings when a true existensial crisis is looming. HA, I looked up how to spell the word cause I’d obviously misspelled it, and it just so happens that “EXISTENTIAL” is the 2019 “Word of the Year” at Dictionary.com:

adjective

of or relating to existence:Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?

 

I believe it does pose a threat; it keeps great minds awake at night. It creates actual floods since our seas are rising, polar ice is melting, and human floods of refugees seeking peace and a sustainable livelihood. Fires are killing koalas in Australia and decimating forest canopies in the Amazon. Our literal house, our whole world is suffering, and we have a President who mocks science, scoffs at facts, and jokes about windmills.

Our country has become a joke on the world stage.

And speaking of the world, our children have flown off to tropical locales for the New Year. And I know about the carbon imprint of air travel, but honestly, how else can we get anywhere? Sailing across the ocean like Greta would have used up literally ALL of their vacation time. So we must fight for the Climate while also doing what we can to take care of ourselves; putting the oxygen mask on the adults first so to speak. Which leads me to my five words:

Family almost always comes first. 

I’ve added a quantifier to my usual motto about family, “almost.” Women are more likely to be the caregivers in a family, to be the 3 am on-duty nurse, the round-the-clock scheduler, the chauffeur and chief cook. Yes, some things have changed since we raised our girls without limits and with great expectations. But some things have remained the same.

This past year I’ve learned to say “No” more often. I’ve figured out that self-care isn’t a sin, it’s a necessity. Our generation isn’t just in the middle of a sandwich – anthropologists like to call us “The Sandwich Generation” – I’ve felt like I’m in a “Club Sandwich.” Pile on the meat and cheese please, we are drowning in obligatory exercises of futility. And of course, this time of year doesn’t help.

What does help is JOMO (Joy of Missing Out), which is the opposite of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out):

Kristen Fuller said “JOMO” is essentially the “emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO” and it is “about being present and being content with where you are at in life.” Some people are born with it, others learn to embrace it.” https://www.insider.com/what-is-jomo-2018-7

So my #2019inFiveWords is not just about setting boundaries and caring for myself, something btw the nuns wouldn’t approve of, but it’s also about saying I’m Enough! For a number 9 Enneagram that’s a tough road to walk. Right here, right now I can be happy! I was strolling with Bob and Ms Bean yesterday, who has fully recovered from her near fatal illness, listening to the birds and feeling the warm winter sun on my face, when Bob said, “Where should we go in 2020?”

And I may have been a teensy bit short with him. Virginia Woolf once said, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” But maybe in 2020, we’ll not only impeach, but convict and remove Mr T from office. Maybe we’ll stop chasing windmills and avoiding Climate Change. And I just may continue to embrace this ever-changing town I’m calling home. Even if it doesn’t have a Chinese restaurant open on Christmas day.

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Zoroastrianism. Did you know that this Persian religion was founded around 3,500 years ago and was the very first to worship just ONE god? This happened before Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed in the Bronze Age of Iran. Before Moses led Jewish slaves out of Egypt even. And when the big Z’s followers were nearly wiped out, Islam took over.

This Christmas Eve has me feeling sad. My dog Ms Bean is sick for one thing, really sick. We saw the Vet yesterday who was dressed in her best Santa sweater. She was kind and told me she’d actually had a dream about Bean last weekend. She said she rarely dreams about work, but that Bean was happy and healthy and sitting in her lap. In the dream.

“I see so many dogs, and here she is today,” she said smiling, holding Ms Bean in her arms while listening to her heart. I may not believe in heaven and hell, but I like to think that all dogs go to a beautiful, sunny, dog park when they die; that tennis balls abound and frisbees fly through stars.

My path to non-belief, or maybe “spiritual secularism” is a better term, has been tortuous. From being totally indoctrinated into Roman Catholicism as a child, to converting to Judaism at age 30, just before marrying Bob, I’d had plenty of dreams about the Pope and conversations with myself about the value of organized religion.

First of all, I didn’t want our future children to have to “pick and choose” their religion because we didn’t have the ability to commit.My life had been crazy enough with melded families after our Year of Living Dangerously. But my real decision to convert came right after listening to a rabbi speak about the Jonestown Massacre.

This mass murder/suicide event took place in 1978, the year before we married and the Bride was born. We were sitting in a Temple listening to a rabbi talk about how Judaism differs from other religions….mainly there is NO ONE MAN at the center of it!

Over 900 people killed themselves or were poisoned because of Jim Jones, an American cult leader who led his followers to Guyana. https://www.history.com/topics/crime/jonestown

Think about that for second:

  • Nobody to tell you to drink the Kool-Aid;
  • Nobody to die for your sins and promise eternal life;
  • No man in a saffron rob saying his dharma is the one true dharma;
  • No guy who told millions to kill infidels, so flying planes into buildings was fine.

Nope, for Jews celebrating Chanukah this week, a very minor holiday on the calendar, God is represented in many, amorphous ways – God was never a man. And the study of Torah only leads to lots of questions. Something I was taught in Catholic school we should never do, we didn’t question our nuns or priests. We were told to have “Blind Faith!” I was taught to memorize Catechism, which pretty much made me hate school.

Yes, Nancy, Pelosi I know “hate” is a powerful word… maybe we need a more powerful word for how we Progressives feel about Mr T.

He is a shining example of a cult leader, many of his evangelical faithful refer to him in the glowing language of a savior.

“The power of the evangelicals as a voting bloc is in their sheer size, and in their symbiotic relationship with the president.“Because they are a third of the Republican base, Trump needs white evangelical Protestants to get elected,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute. “And because white evangelicals see themselves as a shrinking minority, in both racial and religious terms, they need Trump.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/us/politics/christianity-today-trump-evangelicals.html?searchResultPosition=2

He may mock women and the handicapped, pay off prostitutes and lie with equanimity, he may bend the constitution to fit his needs, but by God he’s still appointing conservative judges to life-long appellate benches.

This is the happiest season for some, but for me it’s a mixed blessing. “Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign announced on Friday evening that he would go to Miami on Jan. 3 to start an “Evangelicals for Trump’’ coalition.”

Thank you to my daughter who is following in her Daddy’s footsteps and taking care of the poor and injured today and tomorrow. Thanks to all the Christian and non-Christian first responders and medical personnel working this week. And a very special thanks to my Veterinarian.

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Bob will often recount that time I cried over a news report about a dog being thrown out of a car onto a highway.

It was at the end of the evening news – remember that quaint time of day we’d all turn to our favorite anchor person to sum up the world’s most important events? We didn’t have the New York Times or NPR on our phones. We weren’t glued to political coverage at odd hours.

We were just sitting there in our not/so/big house while the list of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq scrolled across a screen, ending with that poor innocent dog. That’s what got me.

Well, it happened again this week. One morning I was watching Mr T walk up to a podium and scowl at his audience for the longest presidential pause in history. This in itself was intriguing; then without an introduction, not even so much as a, “Good Morning nice people of the Fake News,”  he announced the raid on an ISIS terrorist and he also mentioned a K9 was injured as a cave exploded. The suspect had fled with 3 of his children when he detonated his vest; civilians had been killed too. But a dog…and it was probably a German Shepherd dog like our Bones.

Why don’t they send robots or drones or droids into caves?

Last week I had a mammogram, because October is breast cancer awareness month, and I’ve been told that some Artificial Intelligence (AI) actually reads the test! It recognizes patterns in breast tissue and tells the radiologist what to report. Since my test was negative, I didn’t give it very much thought. Still, having an AI interpret a mammogram left me wondering what’s next. Maybe the government is afraid of a robot army? But robot doctors are fine.

Could a robot K9 sniff out cannabis? Nashville International Airport has 8 real drug-sniffing dogs!

A list released by the police department indicates that in the last 12 months, BNA Police have seized, approximately 600 pounds of marijuana, 800 THC pens, one pound of meth, six ounces of cocaine, and five ounces of heroin.

Chief Griswold says, “Our main focus is to make this a safe and secure airport and if you are coming through here with a large amount of drugs, some people might make this as a test thing to see if they can get something worse through, so we make those arrests and make sure they have a record on them,” said the chief.  https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/new-drug-k9s-at-nashville-airport-sniff-out-16-pounds-of-marijuana-in-mans-luggage/

I like the idea of a bomb-sniffing dog at an airport. Heck, I love dogs doing just about anything and will immediately melt to the sidewalk when confronted with a Corgi. I guess you could call me a severe dog lover.

Word on Twitter is that Mr T wants this injured K9 from the battlefield in Syria to come visit him at the White House. Isn’t he the ONLY president to NOT have a family dog? I would imagine dogs growl when they sniff him, most dogs can smell fear and inferiority and just plain craziness instantly. This brave canine would surely know he or she’s being used as a political prop, something to buoy his sinking ship.

Mr T should also stop using the phrase, “He died like a dog.” When it was Bones’ time, he went under our porch and wouldn’t come out. I had to coax him out with steak, and then we brought him to the Vet. There was no whimpering or crying, he was the such a beautiful, brave boy.

If you have a little love leftover in your heart, give it to a rescue dog and love will be returned tenfold. Here is my sweet, old Ms Bean in my office who would never hurt anyone but could kill a squirrel in 3 seconds.

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While some were on royal baby watch duty this past weekend, I was on the lookout for high fashion at the Met Gala. Remember last year when it was all churchy? Well, the theme this year was “Camp!” In other words, anything goes. Camp is defined as:

“…something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, self-consciously artificial and extravagant, or teasingly ingenuous and sentimental.
a person who adopts a teasing, theatrical manner, especially for the amusement of others.”

Since Celine Dion is not a native American speaker of our lovely English language, she thought “camp” meant to bring your sleeping bag and maybe create something with mosquito netting? But the Canadian songbird ended up with a feather fiesta on her head accented with long strings falling off her pencil-thin arms. Those 3,000 floor-length strands reminded some of spaghetti drying on a rack!

If I were to create my own “campy” look I’d have to borrow something from Camp St Joseph for Girls. My spin on “khaki shorts and white polo shirts” would look like a layer cake with 40 shades of beige. Topped off with pink pig tails naturally, enhanced freckles, and Keds – just white Keds and socks of course. I’d be sure to carry Bain de Soleil in my evening bag.

The Love Bug went to her very first sleepover birthday party on Friday after actually camping in the woods the weekend before. She seems to have inherited my theatrical nature because A – she didn’t actually sleep, and B – she wore a crystal necklace while politely informing her brother he wouldn’t see her again… (long pause) until the next day! Since the L’il Pumpkin has virtually never known a day without his big sister, this was distressing.

It did, however, amuse the adults in the room! “Dahling, I’ll miss you when I’m gone.”

In other big news over the weekend, we installed the fairy house in our garden to much acclaim. We served honey tea in miniature cups and held hands while we prayed for the tiny creatures who might take up residence. Great Grandma Ada provided more plants and the Love Bug created a small worm house nearby since we do seem to have an abundance of worms.

What does one wear to a Fun Fairy party? Well the campier the better! The Bride came from work in scrubs, the Groom put on his band tee after presiding in the MICU, Ms Bean was in her birthday fur suit, and the Great Grands? Well, they are always red carpet ready!

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Needless to say, I’m on the “almost too old to bother” with this test. But in my defense, the first time I was scheduled, after Katie Couric made it seem so easy, Gma Ada had a heart attack. I cancelled and flew to NJ.

The second time, just last year, I bought the gallon jug of prep medicine along with two gallons of margarita mix, because we were hosting a Cinqo de Mayo party. Honest. Last April Gma Ada broke her hip, so I cancelled and flew to NJ.

This third time for my very first colonoscopy would be the charm we figured. I considered not even telling Gma Ada what was happening but in the end Bob dropped me at the hospital and drove his Mom to the dentist today. In bubble wrap.

Here is what I learned while drinking myself into oblivion last night.

1. Don’t bother buying any Crystal Light. It only changes the color which made me think I’d flunk the test.

2. Don’t try to read Southern Living Magazine. It’s all about FOOD and you won’t be having any for awhile.

3. Ditto for TV. Did I need to know that Red Lobster is having a special on lobster of all things? The PBS special on rice however…

4. Don’t start texting with that friend who writes you long letters. Your attention span cannot possibly keep up with your powder room visits.

5. Don’t leave any jelly beans or nuts lying around the house, your memory starts slipping and you might be tempted to eat one.

6. Don’t accidentally mix the infant simethicone drops in with your dog’s dinner. It’s hard to multi-task while chugging GoLytely – a most ironic choice of names for my liquid diet.

7. Don’t forget to thank your husband. For answering your same question multiple times, “Did you talk to the doctor yet?” and for cooking dinner when it’s all over. The hospital socks are a nice touch!

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