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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

The Bride didn’t want to pierce the Love Bug’s ears in our fancy mall, with a tiny gun in the big front window. So we went to a tattoo parlor downtown! It came highly recommended by the nurses in her hospital; They do things the old fashioned way, with a needle. So she made the reservation for a day after Passover. I tagged along for moral support, which the Bug didn’t need at all. She picked out tiny, sparkly opal studs. I had to wait in the waiting room, enjoying the ethnography of the body arts subculture. https://icontattoo.com/

It wasn’t the weekend’s mass shooting at an upscale mall in South Carolina that swayed my daughter. Police believe there were three guns involved; nine people were injured. A 73 year old woman is still hospitalized. Will nothing change?

You may recall my first published story was titled “Guns in the Woods.” It was about moving to an isolated mountaintop in the Berkshires when the Bride was a baby. It was about newlyweds, and the choices we make to accommodate each other; and it was about being alone at night, with the intermittent sound of rifles poaching deer. Pop! Pop!

I framed that piece from The Berkshire Eagle. The paper has turned yellow with age, and now I’m not sure what to do with it. I’ve been admonished not to decorate like an old lady, with lots of small framed pictures over every level surface. Maybe I could toy with mixed media and decoupage?

In our Nashville city farmhouse we would sometimes hear gunshots while getting ready for bed. Usually there was an altercation in the Kroger parking lot. I stopped going out for a pint of milk after dark. It’s strange how quickly we became accustomed to the sound of hand guns.

This habituation to gun violence is eating away at me and it’s a cancer on our democracy. We’ve all become disenchanted with our institutions, with a government that could not pass a single, simple gun control bill after Sandy Hook. Red and Blue states are all in agreement – our children need to be safe in school.

In our new Crooked Crystal Cottage at the outskirts of the city we hear crickets at night. Literally. Maybe an occasional siren will pierce the silence. Most Americans don’t have to contend with gun violence. They don’t think twice about grocery shopping at night. It’s just that every now and then, someone walks into a school, or a concert, or a shopping mall, or a movie theatre with an AR-15.

The US does not have a single definition for “mass shootings” but the FBI has tracked “active shooter incidents” for more than a decade. Such an incident is defined as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area”.

According to the FBI, there were 345 “active shooter incidents” in the United States between 2000-2020, resulting in more than 1,024 deaths and 1,828 injuries.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081

We need to change this gun culture. We need to prosecute gun manufacturers, and hold more adults responsible for “accidental” gun deaths. We need to attack the gun lobby through marketing and the courts, in the same way we changed the culture of smoking, or driving while drunk.

Because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, legislators are finally talking about changing our collective perception, our reliance on fossil fuels. Buy electric cars! Reduce your carbon imprint! Well guess what – NOBODY needs an assault weapon. NOBODY.

Here are the states that have banned assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. Minnesota regulates but does not outright ban assault weapons.

Protecting our children is paramount to protecting our second amendment.

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What would you pack in your “To Go” bag?

In the middle of packing up all my earthly possessions and moving five miles west this past weekend, I was talking with a friend about Ukraine – those poor women and children fleeing their homeland. I was struck by the juxtaposition of packing all the stuff we’d accumulated over the past five years in Nashville, and wondering what I would choose to take in my “to go” bag, should the situation arise.

She said, “What’s a to go bag?”

“Everyone in Israel has a To Go bag,” I said. “It’s in case you have to leave in a hurry, because rockets or bombs are getting closer. My son the Rocker has a To Go bag in California, in case they have to outrun a wildfire sweeping down their canyon. Heck, the only time I packed a To Go bag was when I was pregnant with the Bride!”

Every mom expecting to give birth in a hospital has packed a to go bag; something for a day or two, a nice new nursing nightgown, slippers, some big, baggy pants to wear home. Unless you’re a British princess, and then you must wear a tiny-belly-revealing smart dress for those first photo ops.

I suppose I should actually pack a to go bag now. The EF4 tornado that hit us right before the pandemic was a game changer for me. Some people in our historic Germantown neighborhood had their roofs blown off, some lost windows and we all lost power for over a week. Many lost their lives right outside of town. Bob and I bunked with the Bride and Groom then, luckily our city farmhouse wasn’t touched.

Then again, if a tornado was strong enough to pick up our new/old cozy crystal 1940s cottage, it would probably take us and our to go bags right along with it.

I’ve decided to call our new home, that is currently swimming in boxes, the Crystal Cottage. We hung a modern crystal chandelier in the dining area that adjoins the front parlor. For our offices, I chose a smaller, semi-flush mounted fixture with similar crystals. The one glass cabinet in the new kitchen is showing off its Irish Waterford crystal. From my writing desk that is as old as our marriage, I have a view of the street and the larder!

I wanted to differentiate the old kitchen wall that has shelves and doors, the larder, from its adjoining new pantry.

Have you noticed how Victorian words have been creeping into my vocabulary? Jason, our fine carpenter, is Scottish and he’s named my office the “Snug!” It seems in Scotland a small room off the kitchen is a snug. I love that word so much, I’ve adopted it as my own. I call Bob into my snug every morning to do Wordle with me.

But back to the question at hand, what would I pack in a to go bag? My first thought had always been family pictures, but almost all my pictures are now stowed somewhere up in a cloud. All the ancient pictures – the Flapper in her Marcel wave, my Nana in her pearls, Great Grandma Ada looking for all the world like a 1950s movie star would be in my bag.

I’d pack toiletries – a toothbrush and paste, a bar of soap, some sunscreen and maybe a moisturizer. Next would be clothes for a week – a nightgown, underwear, some tee shirts, a pair of jeans and yoga pants I don’t wear anymore. I figure whatever shoes I’d have on would have to do, but I might pack some socks.

Of course all the important papers and passwords must be readily available. And medicine, I don’t have many prescriptions but the few I have I’ll need for arthritis. So until I could get a refill, I’d want to have a few days worth of meds. Does this mean it’s time to buy one of those weekly, old lady, pill cylinders? Maybe.

We cracked a large Italian piece of pottery we’d been using as an umbrella stand. I’d love to learn Kintsugi – “…the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.” I love the idea of celebrating the broken spaces.

Did you see the picture of the empty baby strollers in Lviv on March 18? It wasn’t the photograph of neatly lined-up prams that Polish families left at the train station for refugees. No, this was still inside Ukraine, commemorating 109 children murdered by Russia so far.

President Biden was right to call Putin a butcher. Someone needs to slap him.

The new countertops arrived

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I hope this will be my last move.

I wasn’t destined to live in the same community for 50 years, surrounded by friends and family, secure behind a picket fence; a well-known, semi-serious journalist and Hadassah “macher.” Macher is a Yiddish word, a noun:

“Someone who arranges, fixes, has connections…someone who is [very] active in an organization” (Rosten) “important person”, “hot shot.”

n. Somebody who is successful, handy, dextrous.

https://jel.jewish-languages.org/words/325

I’ve always felt a sort of underlying derision whenever someone calls someone else a macher. But maybe that’s just me?

I guess the moment my foster parents picked me up – during our Year of Living Dangerously, with the Flapper in surgery and my big sister Kay in a coma – and brought me to Victory Gardens, my fate was sealed. I would be a little gypsy, traveling over the Delaware Water Gap, between NJ and PA. Uprooted at every turn.

I told myself I was happy to have two mothers, one warm and comforting, the other beautiful and mysterious. I was lucky to have two birthday celebrations, two Christmases, and two homes. Pulled between one set of siblings, half siblings and step-siblings and being an only child. I secretly longed to just stay put.

Now I know that longing for something you’ve never had can be a recipe for a depressive disorder. So instead I try to stay present. I’ve chosen to accept our nomadic existence, after all I married an Emergency Physician. Once he’d roll into an ER and fix it, he’d want a new challenge. I always told the kiddos their Dad wrote the book on Emergency Management, and he did!

Yesterday I asked Bob, “How many bathing suits does one woman need?” And like a good manager, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “That depends.”

Sorting and packing is different this time around. There are the clothes I’ll never fit into again, the clothes I’ll never wear again, and everything else. Pandemic fashion has turned out to be comfortable cotton yoga wear I bought at Whole Foods, along with an occasional Eileen Fisher piece on sale, online. Of course I’ll keep these things, and my boots and fancy shoes that stand watch in my closet, hoping I’ll need them again.

But why am I packing so many small rocks? One is from Ireland, and one is for our old neighbor’s dog Hodor, one is a crystal and one is a geode, and……..

Forgive my absence, but during this move I’ll be posting only once a week, on Mondays. By next Monday we’ll be in our new home – all one level with a big backyard. Bob designed the master bath for us to Age-in-Place. My beautiful master closet will be installed next month and the kitchen countertops are delayed because of a mix-up with the center island. No kitchen sink, no backsplash, so we’ll use Uber Eats for awhile.

One learns to pivot when you’ve moved as much as we have. And one learns that home can be a haven when it’s filled with the people you love.

Wish us luck!

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Waking up to snow a few days ago was the perfect start to Spring Break.

I always loved flying off to our favorite island in a storm, and returning to a spring full of robins and daffodils. The Rocker and Aunt Kiki flew cross country to attend the wedding of the last, single, Parlor Mob bandmate. The drummer with “Oh Yeah” tattooed across his chest said “I Do” to his new bride this weekend. And our Bride and Groom’s family took off for the mountains.

We stayed home in Nashville – to pack for The Big Move, and run our temporary kennel of three rescue dogs!

I’ve let a sober January turn into a sober February and March so far. Before the 2016 election, I’d gotten used to a glass of chardonnay with dinner; but afterwards it turned into wine while cooking dinner during a pandemic and after dinner and a tornado too. Day drinking was never my thing, although I do remember a certain soccer mom who brought a thermos of vodka cocktails to a practice in the 80s.

I’m not opposed to drinking, in fact, I’ll probably be the first to order a margarita whenever we go out to an actual restaurant again!

I’m remembering my foster Daddy Jim, every now and then he’d stop off at a bar for a beer and leave me in the car. I know, he’d be arrested today, but back in the 50s this was normal. Especially if your foster mother didn’t allow any alcohol in the house! The Flapper was a coffee addict, her liquor cabinet was locked up tight. She always said there was NO alcoholism in our family. And by filming my brother drunkenly climbing a set of stairs after his high school graduation, and showing the film every so often, she tried to insure our sobriety.

Honestly, my sleep has been so much better. In sleep hours alone, I figure I’m buying myself a few extra years of life. I was listening to a classical music station on the radio when an advertisement came on for a hospice care facility. Its mantra was – “Calm Comfort Clarity.” And my immediate response was – why can’t I have that now?

It turns out, I can…

… except for the war in Ukraine. Every day I wake to a sense of impending doom. Russia puts nuclear weapons on alert, another journalist is killed, and today we learn of a pregnant woman dying from an air strike in Mariupol. We can see her body on a stretcher. her left hip drenched in blood.

Every day I wake to see if the capital city of Kyiv has been invaded. The shelling of innocents in that city started four days ago, and still its citizens fight for their freedom. They say they would rather stand tall than live on their knees. Putin’s tanks and missiles are getting closer to Poland. I wonder what NATO will do. Will Biden step up to the bully?

What can we Americans do? Ignoring a bully like Putin won’t stop him – it was silence and indifference that allowed Hitler to invade Poland after all. I would like to put my money right in the hands of those Ukrainian people who are staying to fight for their land. A British Twitter writer I follow suggested we book an Air BnB in Ukraine, but is that a good plan? That would just help the top 2% of the population that has wifi and property to rent to others.

“The reaction to Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has inspired innovative new ways of supporting people on the ground. Two students at Harvard designed their own “stripped-down” version of Airbnb to quickly connect Ukrainian refugees with emergency housing, Google rolled out an air raid alerts system for all Android phones, and the US State Department has even partnered with GoFundMe to establish a channel for businesses, philanthropies, and individuals to support organizations providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. Separate from individual customer bookings of Ukrainian properties, Airbnb has started a refugee fund, where it is aiming to offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.”

https://www.vox.com/22973133/ukraine-russia-airbnb-booking-donate-effective-altruism

I don’t mean to imply that the war is damaging my serenity. I’m about to move again, and that is my American, immediate stressor. I’m not bunking in a metro station or learning how to make molotov cocktails. I’m not running for my life. Just be careful what you say to your children and grandchildren about war and freedom. Now is the time to be clear-minded. Our country must light the way forward.

How many humans do you need to put up a chandelier?

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You’ve heard of the expression, “Hurry up and wait?”

Well, our old house renovation had been at a standstill for awhile. We were waiting for the electrician, waiting for the custom island, waiting for our sinks to be shipped… Then, just when we landed in the Golden State, everything started up at once – the painters were stepping all over the plumber installing the tankless water heater, and naturally a piece was missing from our custom island.

Well, it’s not actually missing. Turns out, they sent us the wrong piece.

There we were, standing in another line at Disneyland, when Bob’s phone would ring with another construction problem or question. But this wasn’t like our 1980s Disney anymore! Everything is online. If you want to make a droid at the Star Wars exhibit, you’d better make a reservation. And thankfully, Uncle Dave and Aunt Kiki purchased Lightning Lane passes, so time spent waiting for rides was minimal.

It was the trip of a lifetime! To see the pure joy on our Pumpkin’s face was reason enough to go to LA, but seeing how much his Uncle enjoyed exploring “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” with him was the icing on the cake of our California adventure.

I remember the Rocker filming stop-action videos with tiny Star Wars characters in our garage when he was about the same age. He could barely balance the huge Camcorder on his shoulder. And now, my son’s company is composing music for Disney trailers. It’s Kismet.

Last night, we returned to a chilly, rainy Nashville. No more hummingbirds, no more heated pool and jasmine-lined cabana. Booking a patio table for eight is a fond memory; all eight of us together was magical, plus we spent a delightful day visiting with California cousins!

Today it’s back to reality and renovation, just the two of us, and our old dog, Bean. I’ve yet to get caught up on the news, but I’ll always fight with the Resistance.

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This morning Kevin the squirrel is happily munching on bird seed outside my window, when Bob calls. “Hey honey, do you want the third floating shelf in the kitchen above or below the cased opening?”

Questions like this come up day after day – where to put light switches, where to tile a shower niche. It’s not like building our house in VA, but it’s similar; like a slower, pandemic-style renovation of half an old house with two inch red oak floors they don’t make anymore. After years of renting in Nashville and feeling locked into a semi-permanent viral stasis, we’re finally going to move into our own home next month!

So far we’ve had fun planning our kitchen and master suite renovation. We bumped into an amazing daylight-like light fixture at Costco and bought two, one for the new pantry and one for the old laundry room/mud room. We’ve roamed around monstrous tile warehouses debating color and size. We’re researching garage doors and toilets.

I don’t know why Bob doesn’t want a “smart” toilet. After all, it would open and close itself; not a small feature in a home where the man always leaves the seat up! Oh and the seat is heated. Plus, for just $2,000, you’re getting a fully equipped bidet. But Bob’s drawing the line at the throne room door.

A ‘smart’ refrigerator is one thing, the toilet is a step too far he told me. I guess that means I can order the ‘smart’ window shades that open and close according to my whim? Sometimes I wish I could call up an HGTV star like Hilary Farr and forget about all the myriad decisions. But I’m not sure I could relinquish control. And leaning towards design with some therapy involved wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“Asking for help, after all, runs counter to many of America’s most adamant myths: the moral superiority of self-sufficiency, the quiet dignity of suffering. “Tough Love”  https://www.hgtv.com/shows/tough-love-with-hilary-farr rejects those ideas. Instead, it celebrates the people who realize they have a problem they can’t solve on their own. It treats the admission as the first step toward salvation. “I’m not here to judge,” Farr tells a client whose home, and whose life, she has come to rehabilitate. “I’m here to help.'”

https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2022/02/self-help-hgtv-home-improvement/621493/

Honestly, I have no problem asking anyone for help with anything. I’ll have to ask Aunt Kiki what she thinks of all this smart technology. Of course she can’t say who her celebrity clients are, but she may explain to Bob why a ‘panic/tornado pantry’ is a good thing. Did you know we now have therapists who specialize in climate anxiety?

I remember the coal furnace in my foster parents’ kitchen. Center stage was an orange formica table with metal legs looking out the window at a large flowering dogwood tree, I can almost smell the cinnamon toast I would dip into Daddy Jim’s morning coffee. If home is a metaphor for our life, the kitchen IS the heartbeat of our family. It’s where I’ve passed down beloved recipes; it’s where TLC is put into action. And call me crazy, but I’m loving our blue kitchen cabinets.

First a McFlurry stop!

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There aren’t too many streaming shows that Bob and I can agree to watch together.

The one exception is After Life on Netflix with Ricky Gervais. Funny while also being poignant, Gervais’ character tries to get on with his work as a small town newspaper reporter after his wife’s untimely death from cancer. I guess all deaths might be considered “untimely,” still he tries therapy to help him dig out of his depression. The only problem here is with the therapist.

Played by Paul Kaye, he is a self-involved, pathetic, know-it-all. While glancing at his cell to keep track of some Twitter feed, the therapist tells Gervais to “… just stop being sad.” Future psychologists take note – watch this show only to find out how not be a therapist.

While Zooming with Dr Jim, my psychologist brother, we laughed about the show. Of course, not all therapists are bumbling idiots. Jim told me he’s reading a book by a psychotherapist who has combined his Buddhist beliefs with his approach to analysis – it’s called The Zen of Therapy, Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life.

“…freedom lies ultimately not in understanding what happened to us, but in loosening our grip on it all, so that “things that feel fixed, set, permanent and unchanging” can start to shift. The goal, in a refreshing counterpoint to the excesses of a certain way of thinking about therapy, isn’t to reach the state of feeling glowingly positive about yourself and your life. It’s to become less entangled with that whole question, so that you get to spend your time on more meaningful things instead.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/books/review/zen-of-therapy-mark-epstein.html

In other words, let down your hair and get untangled.

Our Mother the Flapper was very Zen in her old age. She surrounded herself with Buddhas the way Grandma Ada (who was a practicing marriage therapist into her 90s) did with glass bluebirds. The Bride is also Zen-centric in her approach to life, becoming a Yoga teacher a few years back. I’m pretty sure her Yoga practice helped save her during the worst of this pandemic.

“What are you clinging to?” Jim asked me.

One might assume it is my grandchildren, but that is not true. I hope they find me interesting for awhile, and I love them immensely. But I’m not clinging to that love. When I look back at my life, my fundamental issue was not that I didn’t feel loved, if anything I felt an abundance of unconditional love.

Because of our Year of Living Dangerously, I would often suffer from a feeling of not belonging – I was shuttled between two mothers, two states, two entirely different worlds for the first 12 years. Today, I am a Jersey Girl in a Southern state; but over the years, I’ve made my peace with not belonging. In fact, I’ve come to accept it as a way of life moving forward. Besides, I married a gypsy who liked my pink hair.

That reminds me of Bob teaching a third year medical student how to suture a wound last week. I made vegetable soup for lunch, and with masks up, they started practicing their stitches on the kitchen island. The first stitch must realign the skin and not be too tight, Bob said. I continued knitting my scarf since I was practicing the cable stitch and thinking about tension on my needles.

And wondering if the postman will marry the sex worker.

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This week, Nashville finally succumbed to a real winter snowfall – over SIX inches! That’s like getting two feet of snow in the Berkshires, only there are not as many plows in the South. Also… maybe, there’s not enough salt in the South? So everything shut down for two days. Bob was walking around the house muttering, “I f-ing HATE the winter.” While I busied myself doing the usual – laundry, cooking comfort food, and painting.

I know, I know, I’m not the painter in the family. The Flapper, Aunt Kay and the Bride are the artistic ones. In high school, my daughter’s AP Art class was the highlight of her day. I’d never picked up a paintbrush because, why even try? Besides, I told myself I was painting a picture with words each time I sat down to write. But lately I’ve been feeling creative, and trying something new is good for your brain.

On the second snow day, we brushed the snow off our car, and found the main roads were mostly clear. There was simply NO traffic. According to Gmail, our new/old cottage had received a package, and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t buried in the snow… or abducted by a porch pirate! Luckily our electrician was at the house and had brought the crystal chandelier inside. Tim is a man born and raised here, he loves the snow, and his Jeep. We discussed the placement of new canh lights and then headed straight to the Bride’s house.

The Groom was working from home, and my daughter was practicing yoga and baking bread! Where were the children? The house was eerily quiet. Turns out the Love Bug was sledding with friends, then suddenly the Pumpkin jumped into the room. We sat down for a heart to heart.

Me: Which do you like better, Zoom school or real school?

Pumpkin: Real school, of course.

Me: Is there anything you like about Zoom school?

Pumpkin: I can mute myself!

Ah yes, I bet we would all like to mute ourselves, or someone else from time to time. I’d like to mute my inner critic, the one who wants to know why I think I should be painting when the world is falling apart. The Ukraine is a powder keg, a cliff falls on tourists in boats in Brazil, and the Omicron variant has teamed up with Delta to create the DELTACRON in Cyprus. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/08/cyprus-reportedly-discovers-a-covid-variant-that-combines-omicron-and-delta.html

Today a petulant, unvaccinated tennis star is allowed to enter Australia.

Australia – the land where anyone who comes of age can vote; they don’t even have to register.… and if they choose NOT to vote, they must pay a fine.

But hey, the TN Titans are in the playoffs, and luckily the Grands’ school has resumed indoors for now. We should have sheetrock going up today, and thanks to a rainy weekend, the snow has disappeared. Anyone else counting their blessings today?

The Bride in the Berkshires

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The demolition of our kitchen has begun.

We’ve ordered the appliances, and they should be delivered in January sometime. I’ve heard that cabinets are one of those things stuck in a supply chain somewhere, so we have a choice – bespoke (custom build), or DIY in-a-box (Ikea)? Only the nearest Ikea is in Atlanta. And I’ve been playing with Benjamin Moore paint colors on their website, it’s easy and incredibly intuitive! https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/personal-color-viewer/kitchen

My sister Kay told me to try “Kitten Whiskers” on walls because of the way the light reflects back on your room. I may have to paint a sample swath and watch it over time. She said it’s a very pale lavender, yet all I can see is beige. When did cottage kitchen design become my ballyhoo?

Ever since I read that all politics are local, I’ve experienced a sense of dread. GOP legislators have spent the last decade redrawing districts to their advantage, so that they can win more seats. Even if a state is divided equally between the two parties, like say Ohio, out of 99 seats in the House, Republicans hold 64! Ah, the power of gerrymandering.

I first heard about “sunshine laws” when I was elected to a NJ school board.

“Sunshine laws are regulations requiring transparency and disclosure in government or business. Sunshine laws make meetings, records, votes, deliberations, and other official actions available for public observation, participation, and/or inspection.”

There were 48 Million K-12 students in our country and we spent over 752 Billion in 2019. We deserve to know how that money is spent. The journalist in me knew about the Freedom of Information Act passed in the 70s, but I didn’t know how discretely it could shape both small and large institutions.

Unless of course you happen to be the former twice-impeached-president who rarely told the truth and made up his own rules as he went along. Will we ever see his taxes? Sunshine laws are an effort to replace the stereotypical dark-smoky-back room, with a light-infused, open and honest discourse.

We all thought electing Biden would fix everything. I wanted so much to relax, and feel like our government is back on an even keel. We were moving forward with vaccinations and treatments for Covid. The Grands got their second shot. Things were looking up! I am grateful we passed a semi-bi-partisan infrastructure bill, but our democracy could fall apart if we continue to ignore the many voter suppression bills being passed at local levels:

Our democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate and have their voices heard. Suppression efforts range from the seemingly unobstructive, like strict voter ID laws and cuts to early voting, to mass purges of voter rolls and systemic disenfranchisement. These measures disproportionately impact people of color, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities. And long before election cycles even begin, legislators redraw district lines that determine the weight of your vote.

https://www.aclu.org/news/civil-liberties/block-the-vote-voter-suppression-in-2020/

If you do nothing else this week, please call your senators and tell them they must reform the filibuster (which was never in the constitution btw) in order to pass John Lewis’ Voting Rights Advancement Act. The “For the People Act” that passed through the House, must NOW be signed into law.

I know I know. You’re busy planning for Christmas. You’re so over wearing face masks, and want to stop living in fear of a new variant micro organism in the air, something you can’t see. But please, look at the elephant in our collective room. if you are lighting a Hanukkah menorah this week, how hard can it be to make a phone call? If you are buying Christmas presents online today, give our country a gift and write an email to your senators. https://contactsenators.com/senator-phone-numbers

What kind of party wants to make it harder to vote? So much depends on this. We cannot let the minority party pull us back into the dark ages. Shine a light on overt gerrymandering and voter suppression. Start this holiday season off by demanding equal voting rights for all Americans. Choose light, and your children and grandchildren will thank you.

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Why is today “Black” Friday anyway? Red makes more sense – red means stop and think before you proceed, it could also denote a particular political party. But I won’t go there. In fact, I went absolutely nowhere today because I was so full from Thanksgiving dinner I could barely move. Bob tried out a different method for cooking the turkey and it was delicious drenched in herby butter. And the Bride outdid herself on vegetable sides.

My daughter has also lured me back to Facebook by tagging me in a neighborhood group she belongs to called, “Buy Nothing Project; Give Ask Gratitude.” I get the idea. We need to curb our rabid consumer addiction and reuse and repurpose what we have. But since we are doing a LOT of renovation work on our new/old Southern Cottage before we move in, I decided to post its old kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer on the site.

Starting this ‘season of giving’ off with a bang warmed my heart. Why ask Habitat to come pick up our old appliances when there may be someone right down the street who had a washer break last week?

Now, about our new house – it’s cute as the dickens.

ALL ONE LEVEL, south facing, with lots of windows and a cathedral ceiling family room addition in the back. Our eyes were open when we bought it, knowing how much work we would need to put in, including foundation work since nothing is plumb. There’s a larder in the kitchen and the backyard is huge. Most of these “Usonian” cottages are being bought up by Nashville developers who promptly tear them down and build three-level monstrosities. We are lucky to save this one.

My favorite architect is Frank Lloyd Wright, and this house was built during his prolific time period before and after WWII (1936-1959) when he wanted to design at a price point for everyman ($5,000). Even though Wright did not design our house, it feels Usonian in its nature.

“The word “Usonian” (United States of North America) is attributed to writer James Duff Law, who wrote in 1903, “We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title ‘Americans’ when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves.” … “Design elements for these single-story homes include: flat roofs with generous overhangs and cantilevered carports (Wright coined the term carport, and favored these over garages for efficiency), built-in furniture and shelving, tall windows that softened the boundary between interior and exterior, radiant heat embedded in a concrete slab gridded floor, skylights, a sense of flow from one room to the next, and a central hearth. Floor plans dispensed with basements, attics, and, in smaller models, formal dining rooms to maximize efficiency.” 

https://metropolismag.com/projects/seven-hidden-gems-from-frank-lloyd-wrights-usonian-period/

We do have a dining room, but it was opened to a formal living room in a previous renovation. We still have the original red oak floors, but the fireplaces have been covered up. Our kitchen is smack in the middle of the house, and though some would like to tear down the larder (pantry cabinets), thereby opening the kitchen to the dining room, and bringing in more natural light, I don’t agree.

Don’t get me wrong, I like an “open concept,” but I tend to be more old school. Actually, I love our tiny kitchen and plan on keeping it as a separate space.

I’ve skipped a day to Small Business Saturday. Now here’s a holiday shopping concept I CAN get behind! Bob and I will stroll the neighborhood on this sunny afternoon and maybe visit a food truck for lunch.

Today the Grands are getting their second Covid vaccine!!! But dang, now we’ve learned about another variant courtesy of South Africa, “Omicron.” There are already several cases of the new variant in Europe, and Dr Fauci has said it is already probably here in the US, which is disheartening. I asked Bob

“When would this go away?”

We talked about vectors (a virus usually doesn’t want to kill its host) and Polio. We’re going to have to immunize the whole world in order to make Covid manageable, like we did with Polio. That’s 7 Billion people. Even with that, we may just have to get a jab in the arm every year – maybe Moderna could figure out how to combine it with our yearly flu vaccine?

Meanwhile, if you’re celebrating Chanukah, spoiler alert, it starts tomorrow night!! HELP, latkes with a side of leftover turkey? And dressing, cause this year I made the cornbread dressing Southern style, outside of the bird. I wish you all love and light, and maybe more mindful gelt spending this year?

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