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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

You just can’t make this stuff up. Thanks Ana Navarro-Cardenas for reminding me of last week’s highlights cause you know, I didn’t watch the RNC rally at the White House this week.

  • “Bannon indicted for swindling Trump’s base
  • Trump ordered to pay Stormy’s legal fees
  • Trump’s niece recorded the sister saying he’s a cruel, phony, liar
  • Conway Family saga (see previous post)
  • Now, Jerry Falwell says his wife had an affair w/the pool boy (while he watched)”

And just to cap this wonderful week off, I managed to lift a very heavy box of paint – don’t ask – and now even my elbows are hurting. Lest I forget, yesterday was yet another Tornado Warning complete with sirens. If this pandemic/political/hurricane season isn’t depressing enough, I thought you’d like to hear the rest of the Flapper’s essay on the Great Depression!

To recap – It was 1935, my Mother put yellow food coloring in Crisco and called it butter. My Father was making $7 a week!

“Clothes were hard to come by, and each of my children had only two pairs of shoes, one for the wintertime and one for the summertime (and that was during a good year). I made a schedule of household chores for me to do all day. First, I would feed my children, and send Shirley and Brian off to school.

Then on Mondays, I would do the laundry (by hand on a washboard, since we had no washing machine). and hang it out to dry on the line. On Tuesdays I would iron the clothes. Wednesdays I’d clean the upstairs of the house, and Thursdays the downstairs. Fridays, I would bake for the weekend and do any shopping that needed to be done. Saturdays were my only free days, and Sundays we’d all go to church and our relatives would come over for dinner and a good game of cards.

On March 4, 1933 Franklin D Roosevelt became President! He was the answer to the prayers of the people, and the best president this country has ever had. Even to this day, there is a picture of him hanging in my kitchen, right next to the picture of Jesus Christ. I do not like to imagine what would have happened had it not been for President Roosevelt.

In 1935 Bob finally got a better paying job – $25 a week!! However it was in Jamestown, New York, so he had to move out there.It cost him $10 to rent a room and buy food etc. Back home in Scranton, we received $15 a week. A BIG improvement from the $7 we had been getting. In April, when I had my son Michael, Bob was not able to come home to see him. Soon after his birth however, my husband luckily found an even better paying job… and it was at home in Scranton! We were overjoyed to have him living with us, and to have $35 a week.

It sounds funny now, but we thought we were rich!

Life during the Great Depression was hard. I’m not quite sure how we were able to do it, but we did. We were lucky not to have lost everything, like some of my friends did. I think that our society to day has made it all too easy and normal to throw things away. Why throw away socks with holes when you can mend them? Why throw away food when you can save it for another time? People today are too wasteful. 

If anything good did come out of the Depression, it taught me not to waste things, because you never know when you could lose it all.”

We all know what we’ve got to lose in the next election.

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“More mama.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Kellyanne Conway’s voice. It’s like chalk on a chalkboard. Ever since she coined the phrase, “alternative facts,” closely followed by saying Mr T isn’t lying because he truly believes what he says, I just figured it’s a wash. I’m actually ashamed she’s  Jersey girl. Thank goodness CNN stopped interviewing her.

She’ll be leaving the White House to focus on her teenagers who are now in the throes of distance learning. But it’s her 15 year old daughter who took to Twitter to cry for help; she wanted to become an emancipated minor, and suggested that AOC would be a much better mom.

I remember when the 13 year old Bride interviewed the Flapper for a history project in 1995, asking detailed questions about life during the Great Depression. Since it looks as if we may be entering another great global economic recession due to this pandemic, I thought you might like to see how my Mother coped with her life in Scranton, PA.

“My first husband died of peritonitis in 1931, because there was no penicillin at that time. He left me alone, at the age of 21, with two children, Shirley and Brian, ages four and two. In 1933 I was lucky enough to marry Robert. He was a pharmacist I’d seen every day on my way to catch the trolley. He raced after that trolley one day to propose to me, and we were promptly married. We lived together in Scranton, and had a baby girl the next year, Kathryn.  

Although it seems ridiculous now, in 1933 the $25 a week that my husband made was good money. By 1935 however our situation had gotten worse. I was pregnant with my fourth child, and my husband had been reduced to making only $7 a week. The owner of his pharmacy had taken it over, and had begun working six days a week by himself. My husband filled in only one day a week, and we had to support our family of five on $7.

We survived, although I’m not quite sure how we did it. Even though food was cheap (two pounds of butter cost 25 cents), we had no money to buy it with. We ate mostly bread, peanut butter, pea soup, and potato soup. I made the bread myself because it was much cheaper to buy the flour than the already-made bread. Instead of using butter, we used Crisco with yellow food coloring (it looked like real butter and seeing is believing).

Today, two pounds of Land O Lakes butter will cost you about six dollars! I’ll transcribe more of the Flapper’s life in the coming days. But I was thinking as I read the Conway Twitterstorm last night, that I was born an emancipated minor. After my Father’s death, my 15 year old sister took care of me while the Flapper went to work. Then after the car accident, just a few months later, I found myself with a new set of foster parents in NJ.

I was never adopted, they promised the Flapper they would care for me with, “no strings attached.” And so they did, showering me with unconditional love, until the day at age 12, I decided to move out. I emancipated myself from my tiny Sacred Heart School life, smothered with too much care and tending, to live with my Mother and my messy, blended biological family. Half Jewish, a quarter Catholic and the rest who knows!

I always had two mothers: one a first generation, religious immigrant from Czechoslovakia who didn’t drive and stayed at home because her husband wanted it that way; and another, a free-spirited, areligious, working, creative woman who looked just like me.

Today is Farmer Bob’s birthday! We first met at our public high school so many years ago, when he was Nathan Detroit and I was Adelaide in the musical Guys and Dolls. I guess what my young self was craving was more drama, more brothers and sisters, more excitement. Not every child can choose their parents! But we had no social media to amplify our teenage angst.

I truly wish the Conways all the best. This is a picture of Bob’s “come as you were in the 1960s” 40th birthday party! I wrote him a nuanced, sexy poem.

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Some of you may know that I, like Joe Biden, have strong ties to Scranton, PA.

Actually, my entire family came from County Mayo, Ireland to that hard working, coal-mining, Catholic city in Lackawanna County generations ago. My paternal grandfather owned a successful butcher shop, and his parents and grandparents before him owned cattle. They were landowners, they could read and write – I know now because it’s all on the census lists over a century ago and I’m on Ancestry.com!

They are all buried in Cathedral Cemetery, at the top of a hill, in Scranton.

What does it mean to come from a particular place?

Even though I left Scranton at a young age, my foster parents, Nell and Daddy Jim, crossed the Delaware Water Gap for a visit with the Flapper, who still couldn’t walk, week after week, year after year. What, if anything, did I take away from Scranton?

I learned early not to complain, to get on with a task I didn’t like doing. It didn’t matter if I wanted to do something else, when it was time to wash my hair for instance, I did it. The Flapper told me that the most beautiful girls in the world came from Pennsylvania! Just look at Grace Kelly! Maybe that’s why she would always pull my wet hair back into “princess braids,” and if I complained she would say we had to suffer to be beautiful.

I gained a certain confidence in Scranton, a sense of self reliance. I remember my Nana telling me that Dolly Madison ice cream was the best ice cream in the world! She would give me money to walk to the store for her, all by myself, and I’d have to count out the change at the store and when I returned. I was only eight or nine, but she trusted me.

I learned that my family expected the best in me. They gave me ballet lessons and my sister Kay was my Professor Higgins; drilling my Jersey accent out of me. .Nana proudly took me to see my very first movie, Picnic in 1955. I was seven years old. She said that children don’t usually go to the movies, but she trusted me not to run up and down the aisles. I didn’t.

Self-sufficiency and fierce independence were highly prized commodities in Scranton. My elderly aunts pickled vegetables. The steps to the cellar were lined with shelves filled with chow chow and other strange sounding things. Kay would love to tell us the story of forcing Nana to give up her ice box because she bought her a new-fangled refrigerator.

Biden had to leave Scranton at the age of 10 because his father found a job in Delaware, but his Irish Catholic roots, like mine, ran deep.

“…his (Biden’s) great-great-grandfather had moved to northeastern Pennsylvania in 1851 after emigrating from Ireland. Scranton was where his grandparents, and his parents, had met, he said. After moving away in the fourth grade, he continued to spend most of his summers and holidays there, visiting his mother’s family in the same middle-class, predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood where he had spent his early years.

“My mother would go on to live in Delaware more than 50 years, but when you asked Jean Finnegan where she was from, she’d say ‘Scranton,’” he added.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/21/trump-biden-scranton-pennsylvania-deserted-delaware/

It’s funny, but Great Grandma Ada always says she’s from Brooklyn, even though she left it 75 years ago.

I might still be living in Pennsylvania if not for The Year of Living Dangerously.

Pennsylvania carries 20 votes in the Electoral College, and is now considered a swing state. Mr T won the state in 2016 by less than one percentage point. Its residents are from the salt of the earth; descendants of coal miners and yes, small business owners like “The Office.” They are a loyal, proud bunch, not afraid of hard work. And they can smell a con from miles away.

Here is a picture of the L’il Pumpkin’s first day at Kindergarten. As Biden would say, “C’MON”!IMG_8148

 

 

 

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We have some very good news for you today. The Groom has returned from his two week exile in the Tower of Nashville garage apartment! He is virus and fever-free and our family couldn’t be happier. Next week, he and the Bride will be sharing home-schooling so he better rest up while he can. We’ve all learned that a surgical mask may not protect you if you’re around patients all the time, or colleagues who test positive.

But what about the rest of us? What have we learned in our (fill in the blank) weeks of quarantine? I’m on week 22 and I’ve learned that Bernie was pretty much right about everything, that police budgets are off the charts, that misogyny still lives in our political language, and that you get 50 points for using all your letters on one word in Scrabble!

Bob may never play with me again.

I’ve also discovered new family members on my biological Father’s side thanks to the Rocker and “23andMe.” Which resulted in my becoming addicted to “Ancestry” – the keeper of my personal DNA thread. You know the one, where I’m 99.9% Irish. I have a vague memory of traveling to a lake in PA, in a town named after a long dead relative, for my First Holy Communion in about 1953. I even have a black and white picture of an ancestral Victorian farmhouse there, with a huge wraparound porch.

I couldn’t wait to share this second cousin news with my brother, Dr Jim, and my sister Kay on our weekly Zoom call yesterday. Kay is the family archivist, after all she is the oldest sibling with the longest memory. She told me that two of my paternal aunts never had children, and another, Aunt Elinor (the grandmother of my newly discovered relatives), adored my Father. A fourth aunt died at the age of 15.

A chill ran down my spine when I later found her death certificate from 1914 on Ancestry; her cause of death was listed as “chronic endocarditis.” My Father was only 13 when she died, this may be why he decided to study pharmacology instead of taking over the family business. Druggists, in the 30s and 40s, were the de facto doctors in poor, working class communities. Many people were afraid of hospitals, they thought you could catch polio there.

Dr Jim, still a working psychologist, told his sisters that we should try doing a Pecha Kucha presentation about our lives! I think he’s afraid dementia may set in before our stories are told! It’s a power point presentation, where you show 20 slides for 20 seconds each. That gives you exactly six minutes and 40 seconds to talk about transformative events in your life. I’m not so sure Great Grandma Ada could condense 96 years to 20 pictures, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Pecha Kucha was invented by two architects four years ago, Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, to fill up a gallery space they owned in Japan and increase business. Many big cities, before the pandemic hit, used to host pecha-nights, including Nashville. Why? “…the rules have a liberating effect. Suddenly, there’s no preciousness in people’s presentations. Just poetry.” https://www.wired.com/2007/08/st-pechakucha/

What would your first picture be? How would you begin the story of your life? My future adult Grands might start out with this picture of their Dad, released from his Covid quarantine.IMG_8085

 

 

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Did anyone else watch that horrific footage of the Beirut explosion this past week and think of a nuclear bomb? Or has the world forgotten that we still have over 13 thousand atomic weapons waiting peacefully around the world to be deployed. https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

There are nine men in control of the bombs we know about, nine with their fingers on the button of a blast that could level the entire earth.

Yesterday marked 75 years since America dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima in 1945. Three days later, we did it again in Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were incinerated or badly burned. The survivors are now well into their 80s. And yet, today the news is all about economic numbers and coronavirus graphs – nuclear disarmament isn’t on the radar of nationalist/strong/men leaders around the world.

Coincidentally, I’m right in the middle of July’s first edition book, “Inheritors” from Parnassus. It’s almost like reading a separate story every night; each chapter builds on the other with differing points of view from the same Japanese family two years after WWII ended. Right before sleep, before entering my COVID nightmares, I escape into a tragedy of the the war’s aftermath. How does one survive under American occupation? How will we survive this inflection point while trying to “reopen” our country? Here is what NPR has to say about Asako Serizawa’s masterpiece:

In the before times — e.g., pre-pandemic — the big thinking on social issues by institutional media, philanthropy and academia had reached a point of commodification — curated conversations about the nature and causes of oppression, public health, and public policy were (and still are) sold as revenue generating events. Fixing social problems meant having money and therefore access to policymakers. I’ve curated enough of these events to understand the impact monetized access has on the balance sheet of high profile think tanks and social justice organizations.

But the pandemic and upheavals in our civic culture forced a pivot. Now, we’re reckoning on fundamentals — on happiness, on good and evil. Now, ordinary citizens drive the conversations about solutions for the common good, in social media, through street activism, citizen journalism and grass roots litigation. This emerging civic culture is demanding access to solve tough questions: shall we re-boot the American idea? What are national boundaries for? Does American society need something else besides consensus government? What might that something else look like?  

“The Inheritors provides a stark scenario as one answer. These stories follow the impact of exclusion, of cultural and biological manipulation, of men turning away from humanity…” https://www.npr.org/2020/07/14/890571662/inheritors-maps-a-complicated-family-tree-through-the-centuries

A young photo journalist uploaded a picture of her high school’s crowded hallway in Georgia, no masks with students shoulder to shoulder, and she was suspended by her principal. She tweeted that she didn’t mind, this was “Good Trouble.”

The Groom uploaded a video urging Gov Lee to mandate masks in TN. Yesterday he spoke again from isolation, his voice not quite as strong, but his message was even stronger. https://fox17.com/news/local/tennessee-who-urged-gov-lee-to-take-more-precautions-tests-positive-for-covid-19

He is a critical care doctor battling this virus with courage. When I asked him if he’s losing weight, he said something that warmed my heart,

“No, your daughter’s love language is food.”

In our after times – post- pandemic – which way will the curve of equality and humanity go, what will keep us up at night? I have to believe our arc is trending toward Good Trouble.

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Is there some food you seem to be craving more during this pandemic lockdown? For me it’s bacon. I never used to buy bacon – even in the old days I’d buy turkey bacon, which wasn’t fooling my family at all. Now you will always find maple flavored or honey smoked bourbon bacon or just plain ole bacon bacon in my refrigerator.

In fact, we just had BLTs for lunch.

We celebrated the Rocker’s Leo birthday by sending him a Postmates gift card. Guess what he’s craving? Sushi! Then while he and Aunt Kiki were on a Left Coast dog beach, we Zoomed with the whole family, from Nashville to LA via a quarantined garage apartment. Remind me to buy the Groom a plant for his real Zoom background, or maybe he could find a good virtual background?

Celebrations can be strange in the Time of Coronavirus. Appropriately enough, I posted a picture to the Rocker’s Facebook timeline for his birthday that shows him sitting on top of Chicago. Literally. He and KiKi are seemingly floating on the Ledge of Willis Tower. I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly how I’m feeling… like I’m floating in time and space..

Like that time we went up over Charlottesville in a hot air ballon and I found out the pilot had no idea where we would land! Drifting up towards the treetops was exhilarating at first, then it quickly turned terrifying. No one had bothered to tell me that this was normal, that our landing was dependent on the wind and the nearest farmer’s field.

So I thought I would listen to another Martha Beck Insta-something this morning. She reeled me in with this topic: “The Secret to Feeling Better;” who doesn’t want to feel better??

Beck tells us that, “What we resist, persists.” Maybe this is why I can’t stop buying bacon? She is talking about emotional trauma, or the muscle pain of some new exercise. Go with the flow y’all. Now anybody who ever dropped into a yoga class has heard that one, but did you know the opposite is true?

When good things happen, and we try to grasp and hold onto them for dear life, they slip away. But more and more good things will happen if we can just detach from that overwhelming feeling of joy. We are supposed to simply meditate and find that calm center, between the extremes, because good and bad things happen all the time.

So when we resist the bad things they stay, and when we embrace the good things they leave? Beck is insisting that we get stuck when we hold on too tight. Well sorry Martha, but I’m holding onto the good things right now.

Tomorrow the Bride and the Grands will be tested for the virus, and I’m sure they will test negative. After all, they have excellent immune systems! I’m baking banana bread with chocolate chips, because I can’t let Bob win the bread-baking championship. And yesterday I did some online shopping for Great Grandma Ada, and I accept my addiction to Amazon.

While I’m grasping for good news, I’m proud to call myself a RESISTER. The Flapper always described herself as a REBEL, so it must be in my genes. I resist our plodding towards autocracy, and I resist the Trumpers who feel as if WE are the tyrants for wanting them to wear masks. The sheer audacity of their selfish, insipid belief system is staggering.

Yes, I’m supremely attached to my children and grandchildren, I admit it! Why try to detach or deny my overwhelming love for these people? I know they don’t really need me anymore; they are all tax-paying adults, who know how to order by InstaCart and cook. But do they put bacon on their turkey meatloaf?

This is me holding onto the Rocker’s Cleo for his work on Dunkirk a few years ago.

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Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. It’s not often, in fact it’s pretty rare. But I’m exhausted lately: Hong Kong has delayed their election and Mr T wants to follow suit; our TN Governor has not issued a mask mandate; and children are getting Covid-19, despite what we first heard.

Oh, and the Groom has tested positive for the virus. We were shocked, but not surprised. He and the Bride have been on the front lines from the very beginning, Caring for young and old, my daughter actually had an older couple in her ER with coronavirus symptoms. The Groom lost a 30 year old, healthy man recently.

Still, we are all sitting on tenterhooks. One of his Fellows had tested positive last week, and on Monday his symptoms began – a low-grade fever, body aches, fatigue. He is doing better now, isolating in their garage studio apartment. Every now and then he will visit with his family from his balcony, while they rock in a hammock under a tree in the yard. A reverse Romeo to the Bride’s Juliet.

And of course there’s Facetime. My daughter can’t work, my Grands are in quarantine.

Sometimes fate just throws you a curve ball. But their friends have rallied, delivering cake, wine and lovely messages. We delivered dinner tonight. And hula hoops – I thought hula hooping might help? And the Groom is working hard, despite his isolation, to get out the Vote in November.

Because this all could have been avoided if our country had a real leader.

It’s hard to let go, and let God take over. I’m praying the Bride and the children won’t be infected, that the Groom recovers soon. Sometimes that’s all you can do, pray.

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We live in a hot spot. Let’s face it, TN hospitals are starting to fill up with Covid-19 patients, and the number of infections has been growing. Temperatures hovering in the mid-90s haven’t helped – we can’t even have a socially distant lunch in the garden with the Bride because a) NES chopped down our neighbor’s trees leaving us with very little midday shade, and b) it’s just too damn hot!

This past week the Groom has been on call in the ICU, and the Bride has been working more shifts than usual in her ER. They are lucky to have employed a wonderful nanny who is available at all their odd working hours; if something ever happens to this delicate arrangement, I am ready to volunteer as tribute! The garage would continue to be their red decontamination zone, and I’d move into the guest room.

But so far, so good.

Even though my hot flashes are long gone, or should I say my series of self-immolations have stopped, I still manage to melt in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer. I turn bright red, sweat drips down my back, even my feet get clammy in sandals. Sunscreen burns my eyes and I twitch and wipe my neck and wonder aloud how anybody ever did summers without air-conditioning. I like a cold New England climate – it must be my Irish heritage.

The L’il Pumpkin agrees with me, he hates the heat too!

The Love Bug and the Bride take after their Father – the hotter the better. Once I tried hot yoga with my daughter and I thought I was going to die. Who in their right mind would love contorting themselves in 92-105 degree temperatures?

But last week we were all sick of staying at home, walking the dogs, Same. Old. Same. Old. And on a rare day off from the ER, the Bride decided we should all go to the Nashville Zoo. Since we are members, we knew they were limiting visitors, you’d have to get timed-entry tickets, everyone had to wear masks, there were hand sanitizers everywhere, and all their paths were one-way. When she told the kiddos they were so excited, the L’il Pumpkin said,

“You mean the REAL zoo, not the Zoom zoo?”  

It was a success! Yes, it was hot and humid but we were there in the morning and stayed six feet apart. Meandering through trees and hearing monkey cries made me feel like I was in a rain forest. We had packed juice boxes and string cheese and stopped for a rest after watching the lemurs swing and groom each other. The Andean bears were playing for our enjoyment and the kangaroos were chowing down. They put on quite a show.

It was almost as if the animals were happier with less people around?

I’d like to believe that we all want to care for one another, but we still see people not wearing masks, and bars are still open. No more pedal taverns though. I hope that Gov Lee issues a mask mandate and that everyone is taking steps to slow the progression of this virus, and that TN starts to cool off. That my daughter and her husband stay safe as they treat seriously ill patients.

Our heat dome became more tolerable for a few hours last week. Notice the tiger cooling off with his paws on the glass.

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Either you are crafty, or you’re not. It’s like being pregnant, it’s impossible to be only slightly pregnant. Some people see a balled up Cadbury cream egg wrapper and think. “That’s just the bit of sparkle I need for my found art project;” and some people just pick it up and throw it away.

With a bit more time on my hands these last few months, I’ve turned to Pinterest for corona life hacks and inspiration. I discovered how to make fabric masks. I’ve found great recipes, and charming party ideas which I may use in the future, but it was finding an exquisite type of Japanese embroidery that really piqued my interest. I wanted to mend my favorite pair of corduroy pants – and so I started a whole new board:

Corona Crafts – so far I have 23 pins!

Granted, I never would have called myself “Crafty” in the past. I never bedazzled anything, not even a pair of sneakers. I never did scrapbooking, nope never understood that one. Sure I’d put my pictures in books – remember when we’d get to hold a picture? –  but I felt they were self-explanatory. Looking back over those books, I wish I’d have written down a date here and there.

Wait – I take it back. I did make a scrapbook once for the Bride when she went off to college, full of old pictures. I wanted her to remember where she came from, maybe because of my early life as a gypsy. Always trying to fit into two families. There were glamorous photos of Great Grandma Ada as a young bride, and pictures of us floating on a pond in Windsor, MA when the Bride was a baby.

In Middle School, my daughter started making Fimo clay beads. I actually bought a small toaster oven for her to use as a kiln. Since I use a toaster to make toast, buying a toaster oven was an investment in her artistic nature. She has actually passed that particular craft on to the Love Bug, they recently made some lovely Fimo beads for me to incorporate into necklaces.

Granted, I AM a stringer; although my love of stringing pearls into eternity necklaces has been usurped by mask-making. I never considered making jewelry to be a “craft.” For that matter, I didn’t consider my quilting or knitting back in the day to be lumped into that craft category either. I’m not sure why. Were they hobbies? Today, a young Icelandic knitter buys vintage sweaters and knits mouths and tongues onto them. I guess I’d call her an artist. https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/05/12/icelandic-designer-makes-scary-masks-to-encourage-distancing.html

Maybe I’m just a Maker! After all, if a man has a wood shop in his garage, he’s called a woodworker. Why does being “crafty” have such a bad rap? Well, searching at dictionary.com gave me a clue: CRAFTY

adjective,craft·i·er, craft·i·est.

  1. skillful in underhand or evil schemes; cunning; deceitful; sly.
  2. Obsoleteskillful; ingenious; dexterous.

 

Is it because it implies a woman of a certain age with time to kill, idle hands and all? The Flapper never had time to be crafty; she worked full time and cooked and cared for us, and every Sunday she did her hair and nails, never setting foot in a beauty parlor! She was however a gifted artist, as is Kay and the Bride.

As we all slow down and bake sourdough bread, or make masks, I like to think we are all feeling a bit more creative, when we’re not bored/in/the/house/crying/in/our/wine. And if you don’t feel like making something, that’s OK too… but just in case. Here’s how to make beads out of newspaper – remember newspaper?  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/11/at-home/how-to-make-newspaper-beads.html

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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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