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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Every morning I languish a little in bed. I listen to the birds who are calling for Spring. I listen to Bob making coffee in the kitchen. I try to remember yesterday’s Wordle. Then I stretch, just a little, like Ms Bean would do after getting up from her comfy bed. I take note of my pain – my neck is blessedly quiet, how is the right hip, how far can I bend the knees? I expected that my bones would ache in the morning with age, and improve as I moved through the day. Instead, it’s the opposite. My body is at its best when I awake, and as the day wears on, the osteoarthritis kicks in.

Lately though, my first thought is about my sister.

My sister Kay is the oldest one of us still living. The glamorous, Lipstick Feminist Stewardess of the 50s and early 60s. My sister, who at 15 carried me to my foster parents after our Year of Living Dangerously, and left me in Victory Gardens, never to forget me. The working, single mom on the Upper East Side of New York who was a template for Holly Golightly. Audrey Hepburn’s character and Kay both survived a traumatic childhood, and navigated rocky romantic relationships. I always looked up to her; I envied her ability to draw and paint like a Dutch Master. She had a way of being in the world that was easy and full of confidence. Kay is an artist and charismatic still, and only slightly directive like a big sister.

Last week Kay took it upon herself to clean the top of the refrigerator. You may ask why would an 88 year old decide to climb a step stool? I know I did. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never cleaned the top of my refrigerator. .. ever. That being said, she fell and broke her other hip. The good hip. Her surgery was just four days ago and her daughter, with help from local family members, is helping to manage her transition to acute care rehab. Living alone, for most us, will prove too hard eventually. We Boomers need to plan for continuing care long before we need it, before a medical crisis. I guess it’s just too hard to look our mortality in the face.

About three years ago, Kay told us that her hospital was starting a new Geriatric program for its medical students. Maybe it was a response to the pandemic, but my sister was asked if she’d like to participate. My brother Dr Jim and I encouraged her, and since she had already mastered Zoom for our Sunday sibling sessions, we thought she’d enjoy chatting with a young person. And of course, she loved it! So much so, that Kay has now met the young medical student, Esha’s, friends and gone out to dinner with her a number of times. And although this is the season for exploring residency programs all over the country, thankfully Esha has been at her bedside and helping us connect with her orthopedic team.

I remember my stylish sister: having cherries jubilee set ablaze at the Rainbow Room; walking to the Metropolitan Museum and the Whitney and the Guggenheim; my niece’s wedding at the Convent of the Sacred Heart; going to the Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center; walking to the Madison Deli for our favorite sandwiches; meeting Dr Jim at an outdoor cafe when he returned from Vietnam. I was drinking Grand Marnier and the smell of oranges always brings me back to that moment, waiting with my sister.

Bob has started up the elliptical. And Ms Bean is roaming around the house wondering if it’s time for a walk. Our senior pup is deaf and mostly blind, but she can still smell like a trooper and insists on her daily walks around the neighborhood. Wouldn’t you if you had 100 million sense receptors in your nose? I’ve heard her slow sniffing is like reading the gossip column every day. Still, in January, I find myself wishing that Bean would get on with it. After all, walking is a big part of my recovery.

The Bride has loaned me a book by Katherine May, “Wintering: the Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.”

“By winter, she means not just the cold season, but “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.” In Wintering, May writes beautifully of her own recent bout with a personal winter, a period when she felt low and overwhelmed, out of sorts and “out of sync with everyday life.” 

https://www.npr.org/2020/11/10/933008027/in-wintering-katherine-may-encourages-the-active-acceptance-of-sadness

I guess my winter started early last year, in the midst of summer actually. I was told by multiple doctors to, “shut it down.” No traipsing off to Italy. No more walking! I had to rely on Bob for everything and he was my rock. And now that the pelvis has healed, I must be “careful” for the next few months and build back my strength. I’ve graduated from water PT to land PT.

Yesterday I asked Bob to deliver some of my homemade soup to a neighbor who is experiencing her own winter, caring for her husband. We are, all of us, buffeted by seasons of joy and sorrow. My sister is strong, and smart and willing to walk again. I’m beginning to see the signs of Spring.

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While I was sitting in my Snug the other day, I could hear an HVAC guy maneuvering his weight through our crawl space beneath me, while Bob was setting up a squirrel trap above me in the attic. Not to worry, no squirrels were found or harmed in the Havahart trap since we fixed their entrance hole under an eave. And by that I mean the proverbial “we” because Bob is always my handy/fix/it/go/to guy. He also managed to perfume the attic with certain squirrel repellant smells like peppermint oil. But to the point – while squirrels scampered across our roof wondering where their winter home had gone, writing time in my Snug has been scarce lately.

I do however have my Physical Therapy marching orders. There is a list of upper body and lower body things I MUST DO every other day if I want to continue ambulating without a walker. In our family room, I push the small table back into the couch and roll out my yoga mat. I assemble the various props – foam roller, bands and weights. And then about 45 minutes later, I put everything away and ice what hurts. Bob also has his PT routines, but along with his exercises he has decided to show our new/old house some love.

He had a floor guy give us an estimate on fixing and refinishing our original, red oak floors. My handy husband ordered the lumber for rebuilding a set of outside stairs to the family room. And he is currently researching the whole air quality, HVAC systems for residential housing. We are enamored with a new PBS show called “Home Diagnosis.” It’s very informative and a well done synthesis of science and building with shows like “Healing Your Home Chemistry,” and “Keeping the Cold at Bay.” In fact, Bob has scheduled a Zoom consultation with one of the show’s hosts! https://www.pbs.org/show/home-diagnosis/

“Keep an eye out for the Home Depot truck,” he just called out to me as he was heading out the door with Ms Bean for her daily constitutional.

It seems we’re expecting a delivery of insulation for the attic! What if we pad up our insulation, replace the old windows and repair and clean the ducts? You know, those ducts in the crawl space that have hosted a few possum parties over the years. Maybe we wouldn’t need a whole new HVAC system! And why does every single local TN technician absolutely hate heat pumps?? We had one in VA; it’s a greener way to condition your air. We may even get a rebate if we go that route.

If we don’t plunge into a real recession, our plan for the Spring is to move the big elliptical machine and our various PT/Pilates-like things into a newly refurbished garage. A Mitsubishi mini-split would nicely meet the heating and cooling needs in our free standing home gym. I might even pitch the idea of a fireplace!

Of course the more projects Bob has taken on, the more tools seem to be accumulating in the garage. Since it also happens to double as a fun place for the Pumpkin to do some building and repair work with his grandfather, I’d be happy to see a small workshop in the garage as well. Storage area, maybe? And let’s not forget the possibility of a pool in the backyard! The garage may one day have to turn into a cabana… It will become a serious multipurpose, year round space.

For my part, I’ve been perusing wallpaper. I’d like to paper one wall in the guest bath, myself. This is called sticking your toe gently into the DIY universe. Granted I’ve never tried wallpapering, but they are now peel and stick so how hard could it be? And don’t worry, I’ll let Bob climb the ladder. I’ve got my colors down, a mix of French blue and the current Kitten Whiskers paint color which is a dusty lilac. The hard part is picking something out – floral or animals, small prints or large? We have an abundance of rabbits in our yard, so I’m leaning toward a rabbit and fox motif, but I don’t want it to look like a nursery. Then again a jungle full of parrots might be uplifting.

The Grands dropped by a few times over the weekend. They love to traipse after Bob and help him with his projects. Here they are taking a much needed checkers break. When I was informed that the Bride gave them the “NO Screens” edict, I replied, “Your Mother is not my dictator!”

“She kinda is ours,” the Pumpkin said decisively.

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Here’s what happened. As you already know, I fell off the lowest rung of a bunk bed ladder in July. All my doctor buddies said, “Phew, you didn’t break a hip!” As it turns out I broke one side of my pelvis, and then the other side broke due to osteoporosis. Now I am walking on my own again; no need for a wheelchair or scooter, and the pink flowered walker is behind me. As Bob likes to say, “Your bones are healed.” The problem is my psyche isn’t.

I stopped writing on this platform because I didn’t want MountainMornings to become a litany of my pain.

In retrospect I’m sorry I left everyone hanging. I’ve treated this blog as if it were my own newspaper column for years, never missing a deadline. I really loved synthesizing political news with personal updates. But today, I am much less of a news junkie; I start my day with coffee and Pinterest plus a little helping of a Master Class or two. My walk-in closet is finished, so the new/old/catawampus house is coming along. And I’m back in the kitchen, trying out new recipes.

Also, we’ve just returned from a trip to the French West Indies. Every day I’d jump step in the pool and do my physical therapy exercises – point tendu, jumping jacks, squats. And as a result, I’m so much stronger. I can tell because I don’t need to sit down on the shower seat during a shower. So that’s the good news.

The bad news is some of us got Covid.

But as the Rocker told his Dad, “Play the cards you’re dealt.” And we managed to eat at our favorite outdoor restaurants, to have delicious French food delivered to our door on the precipice of a cliff, and take a gorgeous new catamaran out in the ocean – twice. Because this small island in the Caribbean has been a family sanctuary since the Bride was the same age as her daughter. I loved seeing our Grands jump in the waves and frolic in the pool with pure joy.

One day at the supermarche, I bought Aunt Kiki the French edition of Architectural Digest. The very next day, the news broke that the latest American edition would feature a living room on the Top 100 2023 List COVER that Kiki and her team at Studio Shamshiri designed! We were all over the moon with happiness. Champagne was popped and even the Bride and Groom read the Architectural Digest story, on the beach, on her phone, since their electronics were locked in a safe. Yes, no screens on vacation for them.

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ad100-2023

We’re back in rainy Nashville. Bob is suffering from Covid-related Paxlovid rebound, and I’m feeling the need to write again, which is a good sign, don’t you think? Be gentle with yourselves around this holiday season. I’ve come to believe that moving slower, thinking longer, and worrying less about what might/could be is better for my psyche. My soul is catching up with my bones.

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It’s opening night for my granddaughter’s middle school musical!

Y’all know I’m an old song and dance girl. Before I danced in my high school’s version of “Oklahoma,” I played the lead in “Camelot” at Camp St Joseph for Girls. I had to sing “If Ever I Would Leave You” in tights and a pillowcase and I must say I killed it.

My star kept rising with “The Music Man” and ascended to new heights when I played Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls.” Even if Bob (who played Nathan Detroit) and I were fighting one day, you know like if he may have not wanted to go to the Junior Prom or some such nonsense, we were professional enough to carry on with the show! The very first show tune I taught the two year old Love Bug was “A Bushel and a Peck.” We even had a dance number – if only we had had TikTok.

The Bug’s Mother is another story. The Flapper hung a tiny pair of ballet slippers over her crib when she was born in the hospital. Sounds like a fairy tale right? My Mother didn’t let a car accident stop her from dancing and by God, her new granddaughter would trip the boards like Terpsichore. And of course, dancing in the Berkshire Ballet’s “Nutcracker” would become our mother-daughter Christmas-Hunakkah tradition. Until…

One day the Bride announced in a letter that she no longer had the time to take ballet lessons. She was about the Bug’s age then, and too busy with school and horseback riding. I had to respect her wishes but I’m sure she knew my heart was a little broken. Little did we know that the Rocker would become the performer; maybe I should have taken him to tap classes instead of hockey practice!

Tonight my Bug will be playing an Oompa Loompa and I will be sitting front row center proud as a peacock! Will she catch Broadway fever from her first bit part in Willy Wonka? When she looks out at the audience tonight and hears the applause will something click? Is today the day she finds her passion in life? You never know but this is the age for making momentous decisions.

“I am preparing other surprises that are even more marvellous and even more fantastic for you and for all my beloved Golden Ticket holders – mystic and marvellous surprises that will entice, delight, intrigue, astonish and perplex you beyond measure. In your wildest dreams you could not imagine such things could happen to you! Just wait and see!” 

https://roalddahl.fandom.com/wiki/Golden_Ticket#:~:text=A%20Golden%20Ticket%20is%20the,find%20was%20a%20press%20sensation.

This is about the age I left my foster parents and decided to live with the Flapper forever, coming out of my sheltered chrysalis. Beware of the preteen, she is a powerful totem with her golden ticket.

In a world of pure imagination

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Our family’s birthday season begins midsummer with the big boys and ends with the little Pumpkin’s falling leaves. We celebrated a milestone in Malibu. Although every birthday gives us a chance to rejoice or deny our humble beginnings; I’m in the denial phase at the moment.

The Groom’s family has a tradition where each person at the dinner table tells the story of the actual birth day. We all have different points of view so it’s like writing a book. Every chapter is the same time period only told from a different perspective.

The Flapper told me that my brother Michael was her easiest birth. She was outside hanging laundry on the line when she felt him coming and told my sister Kay to run through the backyards to fetch the doctor. I imagine her running barefoot through clouds of sheets. Michael was born fast, destined for a life in the sports world.

I was her only hospital-born baby. She told the doctor after five children she needed a rest.

As my Father lay dying, the doctor told the Flapper she didn’t have to boil my baby bottles. He said washing them was fine which was a tremendous help. I picture him looking like Santa Claus, in a plain gray suit. Cultural norms have changed since the 40s. Today more than 80% of newborns are breastfed.

While I was lying on the floor after my Malibu fall, Bob examined me. No broken hip, check. And my mind immediately cast blame on myself of course. Why do I act like I’m still 16? I don’t want to ruin this vacation so let’s just soldier on and walk up and down hundreds of steps to a beach. Until I couldn’t walk at all.

This week, the MRI tech who escorted me into the room told me I could take off my glasses and my mask. He pointed to a table and went on about how I’d be all alone in the room, and then he added,

“Dr Fauci is going to prison!”

At first I wasn’t sure if he said that, but to cement the thought he repeated it. I replied,

“I know he got Covid, but that’s not a crime.”

Then he gave me two ear plugs, tied my feet together and crossed my hands over my chest on the table. I was a prisoner in a metal tube with a redneck at the wheel. I tried going to my happy place but that wasn’t working so I just concentrated on my breathing while a jackhammer of sound waves attacked my pelvis.

Turns out I fractured the upper part of my sacrum. Which really isn’t a bad spot – too far to the right and I’d be paralyzed, too far to the left and my hip could have shattered. Lucky me.

I’m trying to resist absolutist thinking – like now I’ll never play pickleball. Instead I tell myself I could write more and read more and watch more Netflix while resting on the couch. Why do we need to give birth or nearly die to allow ourselves a rest? This American work ethic thing is real. I feel like a sloth or maybe an escargot!

Poor Bob. His birthday is coming up next and he’s on nursing duty. Washing clothes, cooking and watering gardens while walking dogs and tending to me. Not all at the same time of course. Turns out his talents exceed my expectations. I told the Pumpkin that TOGETHER PopBob and I would get through this just fine. “Don’t you agree Bob,” I said.

After an affirmative mumble from my harried husband, the Pumpkin looked at me and said, “Sounds like he’s not convinced!”

Wish us luck dear readers. I’m on the lookout for a rabbit’s foot charm, or an Irish shamrock to add to my feather pendants.

A reflection of me, before the fall

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Our local Nashville PBS will sometimes air a short segment between programming called, “A Word on Words.” I believe our famous independent bookstore helps sponsor this Emmy award winning series, and I always sit up and take notice. Authors J.T. Ellison and Mary Laura Philpott were the first hosts to interview writers about their craft.

“NPT’s Emmy Award-winning A Word on Words features accessible interviews with authors and poets about their latest books. Launched in 2015  the series was designed to be accessible and engaging for a new generation of readers. Join our A Word on Words hosts for more discussions with writers about their work, their process and what they are reading for inspiration.”

https://awordonwords.org/

Words have always been magical to me; and there’s nothing better than hearing (or reading) a word I don’t already know. Recently our master bedroom closet was finished by a talkative carpenter. It’s no surprise that most of our old crystal cottage is not plumb. And just as he was getting around to the last corner, he turned to me and said,

“This is all cattywampus!

For me, it was as if someone had handed a toddler a lollipop. I had to ask him about the word, and where he was from (North Carolina), and before you knew it there was a story sprouting in my mind. The Bride told me she’d heard the word before, but that’s probably because she went south for college and pretty much never returned. Cattywampus means exactly what it sounds like – all mixed up. It’s a noun that means askew, disordered, uneven, awry. Scottish in origin and related to “caddy corner.”

Our family loved to make up words. For instance, the Bride was incensed to learn that not only had she believed that our word for something sharp, “porky,” was a real word, but she insisted that her friends believed it too, well into her teens. Somehow, our German Shepherd dog’s incessant drive to chase porcupines, and having to pull those quills out of his snout, resulted in pointy things turning into pesky “porky” things, which makes sense. Right?

Who doesn’t love a little on·o·mat·o·poe·ia in the morning?

This morning as I was scanning the Twittisphere, I came across another word I’d never heard of – banjaxed! According to the Urban Dictionary, it’s an Irish colloquial term meaning:

“Broken, beyond repair: Tired, worn out, out of breath: Drunk, inebriated: Not functioning correctly.”

Just like SCOTUS. Not only are they banjaxed, their decisions are cattywampus! As an ex-school board member, I was shocked to think that Christian prayers can now be said aloud on our public school sports fields. Maybe shocked isn’t the right word, gobsmacked is more like it. Shall we let Muslim football and soccer players stop playing when it’s their time to pray? The team must stop and roll out their prayer rugs on the fifty yard line?

As for me, I can’t wait for the January 6 hearings to begin again tomorrow. Oh and for the third season of Ted Lasso! What would Ted do?

A view askew of the new closet

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This past Memorial Day weekend we stayed home.

We trimmed back the lilacs, and watched the magnolia start to bloom. Bob painted the front porch. We watered the garden and walked the dogs – Ms Bean and her three cousins next door. We were settling into our new/old house. And best of all, we were on Grandparenting Duty (GD), which is very different from babysitting mind you.

Bob and I are under no obligation to “watch” our grandchildren, in fact we relish spending time with them. Our rising 2nd and 5th graders are curious and helpful. While the Groom started his MICU attending duties, and the Bride worked three days straight, the littles just skipped down the street to our house. Our only mission was to ‘feed and water’ them and have fun; to witness the wild creativity of childhood… again.

On our first neighborhood 4people/4dogs walk, I brought up something I heard the Pumpkin say a few times – “What are we going to do when…..” (insert) “… we get home,” “after lunch,” etc. This question always reminds me of the little animated fawn, Bambi, asking his mama what they were going to do today. Children like to know what’s next, they love ritual, but summer was about to begin. School was out! I started to talk to the Grands about “unstructured time.” The Love Bug was all in, the Pumpkin however, differentiated between things we “have” to do vs things we “want” to do.

I could see my little red headed perpetual motion machine was struggling with the concept of just chillin. But research has shown us that time to explore and create and simply PLAY is essential to a healthy childhood. The Bug said, “It’s kinda like recess!” YES

“It’s like we HAVE to walk the dogs, but we WANT to eat ice cream,” the Pumpkin added.

So I asked him, “What would you like to do today if you could do anything you want?” He stopped walking and looked thoughtfully at his older dog who was preparing to poop.

“I’d like to build something with Pop Bob.”

And so they did – they studied and designed a “Lending Library” for our fence – a place for neighbors to take a book and replace a book. They set up shop in our dilapidated garage surrounded by wood scraps and power tools. I made a note to myself to get a big fan for the garage, temperatures were rising toward 90 degrees. And I tried to stay out of their way, only delivering lemonade once. My heart was melting as I watched them work.

The Bug and I cooked a beautiful barbeque dinner for their parents one night. She cleaned and chopped fruits and vegetables, and we talked about random things like friendship and boys. There was a boy at her end of the year school party who wanted to give her a balloon shaped like a heart. But she didn’t want it, and the balloon flew away. I told her she would break a lot of hearts, and she laughed and said I sound like her Mother.

There are mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters who will never get to have these conversations with their children in Uvalde, TX. They will never get to build something with them, or cook with them, or laugh with them again. I am sending them my heartfelt sympathy and reserving my anger for our legislators; the mostly Republican men and women who have so much blood on their hands.

If we cannot ban assault weapons, change the legal age to buy a gun to 21, and pass background checks and red flag laws with a Democratic President, House, Senate and nearly 80% of the people, then we are surely doomed. We have become a country willing to sacrifice our children for the almighty gun dollar.

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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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