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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

When Bob and I first contemplated building our ‘not so big’ house in Virginia, I remember our builder telling us we could build with reinforced concrete instead of the usual stick construction. After all, with our view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, we could expect lots of wind and weather. Then he mentioned that it would be so air tight, you wouldn’t hear the birds.

Well, that would never do!

I called my upstairs office my aviary. I loved listening to the racket made by woodpeckers, and two owls calling to each other at sunset. “Whoo.” But I would never feed the birds because I didn’t want to attract bears. I enjoyed Mother Nature in real time: watching fox kits rolling along the grass; families of deer daintily strolling through trees, and two huge Pileated woodpeckers jack hammering a branch that had fallen in the driveway. My favorite sighting was a hummingbird who returned to the same flower every year, at about the same time.

There was plenty of forest for everyone to feast. It was like living inside a Disney movie, with bluebirds everywhere.

But 2020 being what it was, with the addition of a long number of days, below freezing and snow covered, I started throwing out nuts and bread for our poor city slicker birds. Soon enough, I was bringing home big bags of the most delectable bird seed and ordering a fancy, new feeder online. No bears to fear here. Now granted, our small side yard garden cannot compare with 14 acres of woods, but I’ve still managed to attract a diverse group of feathered friends.

Small wrens and finches cling easily to the bird feeder, but the bigger birds, like doves and robins, blue jays and cardinals prefer grazing. So every day I fill a bowl with seed and put out fresh water on a tree stump – the one that held the fairy house. A mockingbird can flit between the stump and the feeder, depending on traffic. And that is the view through my office window today; mourning doves displaying dominance along with an ingenious squirrel. The squirrel trumps everyone on the stump.

Am I becoming that old lady? The one who sits and stares out her window, if she’s not feeding a dozen cats; the one who runs out screaming in her nightgown at the squirrel gobbling all the goodies?

This morning I feel better about my latest obsession. The National Geographic published an article about why backyard birding is great for kids and adults. I was not surprised to read that having a bird feeder can actually contribute to our feeling of happiness.

But why are birds so important to nature’s biodiversity—and therefore your family’s potential happiness? For one thing, birds are an indicator species, meaning they basically function as a “check engine light” for biodiversity. When something is out of whack in nature, birds let us know—often by disappearing—because they need a healthy environment to survive. Of course, birds aren’t the only indicator, but since they’re found almost everywhere in the world and are easy to study, their presence—or absence—is a good way to measure the variety of life that research shows can boost mood.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/article/why-a-backyard-thats-for-the-birds-is-great-for-kids-too?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=social::src=twitter::cmp=editorial::add=tw20210430family-livingnearbirdsplanetpossible&sf245481661=1

You’ve heard about the canary in the coal mine. What sparked my empathy for our city birds was coming home one of those frosty winter days to see about ten doves lined up like good little grey soldiers on our porch. They spanned the length of our kitchen wall to capture some house heat and stay out of the wind. Of course they deserved a mourning dove diner on a tree stump!

It’s a diner and fly-in reality show every day.

We’ve created a city bird sanctuary in our sideyard, where birdsong competes with construction noise. And when it all goes quiet, I know danger is near… sure enough, our squirrel is sitting there on his hind legs stuffing his cheeks. Squirrels have to eat too.

Maybe I’m replacing the background sounds of a family. The Flapper used to tell me that some day I would miss those little feet running across a floor and the constant hum of children. She was right. Or maybe it just makes me smile whenever I see our bright red cardinal!

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As soon as I ended the call with my son, I wanted to call Great Grandma Ada. The Rocker and Aunt KiKi are buying their first home in LA, a glorious mid-century with a view of the valley. No longer will the newlyweds have to work at opposite corners in their living room. The young child who always heard music in his head, has put down roots in the film industry. But in even better news, they had just received their second Moderna shot!

In two weeks they will be fully vaccinated…

I was filled with joy! My instinct was to immediately call Ada. I loved giving her good news about her grandchildren. She would “kvelle” (which means feeling happy and proud in Yiddish), she would say “poo poo poo” (which translates to not letting the evil spirits hear your good fortune). And best of all, her unbridled delight was contagious – she multiplied happiness for everyone within her circle.

And in a way, I did call her yesterday. I made small sandwiches to honor the Fifties Housewife she once was, I picked pink peonies for a gorgeous arrangement because she loved painting flowers, and I wrote about her devotion to knowledge and her career as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

With three of our Nashville friends, we memorialized our loved ones at the Cypress Tree Grove we’d planted in our local park. In 2020, Ellen lost her father, Yoko lost her mother and Rick lost his sister. With our neighbors and friends, AND with everyone vaccinated and mask-free on a sunny, balmy 78 degree Sunday, we listened to Finlandia, by composer Jean Sibelius, and spoke about our collective losses. Here is a snippet about Ada and me:

Years later, when she bumped into me again, she insisted I come back to her home to reconnect with her son, Bob. We married under a canopy of trees in that same office parking lot (outside of her home/office).  She swore she would always take my side, and she kept her promise. A woman of valor, one who was always giving and kind, we were lucky to have her for 96 years.

Yes, if Ada didn’t drag me into her son’s room at the hospital after our chance meeting in an elevator, would I even be here in Nashville? Serendipitous events always seemed to follow Ada; she may have been “Older than the Queen” but her insatiable spirit will never die. I see it in the Bride as she tends to her family and her career with finesse. I see it in the Rocker, who can make twelve notes of music into spine-tingling compositions with alacrity. And her Great Grands love learning, just as she did.

We chose the Bald Cypress because it’s native to TN: it’s adaptive to dry and wet conditions and can withstand flooding; it will develop “knees” with its roots jutting out of the soil; and it’s the only conifer that sheds its needles, ie “bald”. So it’s unique!

But not as unique as our Adala. Bob was a teenager when she went back to graduate school in the 1960s, and she always left dinner for the boys during the week, even though many of her nights were filled with school and clients. “Misery is optional” was one of her favorite quotes. My wedding present from Ada was a gravesite in their family plot – I wasn’t sure how to respond, but remembered a rabbi telling me that we never really grow up until we have our own gravesite.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us to double down on the fragility of life. We are all molecules of star dust, and we were damn lucky to be in Ada’s orbit for so many years.

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Like migrating birds, Bob and I took off from BNA to visit my brother, Dr Jim.

He lives outside of Minneapolis-St Paul, the center of the legal universe this week as the trial of George Floyd goes to a jury. Fences and barricades are up, a large contingent of our National Guard stands ready. Right down the street in Brooklyn Center, Officer Kim Potter allegedly mistook her gun for a taser, killing Daunte Wright. Mr Wright will surely have his day in court too, but can we actually ever reform a culture of police violence?

The judge in the Floyd case is currently giving instructions to the jury – he is explaining what “intent” means. How can we know what Officer Chauvin intended to do about an alleged counterfeit 20 dollar bill; what did he think might happen while he continued to press his knee down on Floyd’s neck? Potter at least is heard on her police video threatening to tase Daunte Wright on a traffic stop that never should have happened.

Both Bob and Dr Jim said if they had been born Black in America, they’d surely be dead by now. Jim has a Vietnam Vet license plate on his car, so that when a cop once stopped him, he eventually waved him on and thanked him for his service.

We were watching the trial of George Floyd when Bob spied a wild turkey walking through the trees outside our window. He was waltzing along in the tony minneapolis suburb without a care in the world. I’d seen squirrels and chipmunks race across Jim’s deck, and later two big deer wandered into our line of sight from the living room couch. My husband almost thought they were elk, they were so huge and majestic!

I thought about the time, early on in 2020, when Bob was weeding around our city house and a glorious, fluffy-tailed red fox came within view – they both stopped and looked each other in the eyes. Then he bounded off across the street and behind an apartment building. Did you know there was a coyote taking up residence in a bathroom at the Nashville Convention Center?

As things return to some sort of stasis, I’m hoping that wildlife might continue to shock us out of our conspicuous consumption. As we begin to travel again, in cars and planes and trains, enlarging our collective carbon footprint, I dream that more and more people will turn to sustainable energy, like bikes, public transportation or electric cars. Of course, a Tesla would be nice, but there are more affordable options out there right now.

Thursday is Earth Day. If we intend to care for Mother Earth, we must be able to care for ourselves and end systemic racism in our country. I saw a sign in MN that said, “End State Sponsored Terrorism,” and I thought about not just reducing and reforming the police who are increasingly militarized, but also confronting our legislators and their addiction to guns and the money gun lobbyists throw around.

The US has seen at least 147 mass shootings in 2021, according to data from the GVA, a non-profit based in Washington.”

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/16/us/mass-shootings-45-one-month/index.html

As children return to school, as we set about going to church or a mall or even a grocery store, will we continue to fear for our lives? Should we Americans accept this as “normal?” Republican TN Gov Bill Lee recently passed a bill that would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon as of July 1st! The law allows anyone over 21 to carry open and concealed handguns WITHOUT a permit!

We cannot return to this normal: a time when driving while Black is dangerous, a time when bullet-proof backpacks are prized, a time when clean air and water was a political issue. Our slow, migration back to semi-normal life must be done thoughtfully, and with the best of intentions.

Five siblings

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Bob and I are home, with the Bride’s family in Nashville. The Rocker and Aunt KiKi are back in LA. Between airports and airplanes we’ve spent about 15 hours traveling and not sleeping, so let the jet lag begin! I never thought I’d be so happily punch/drunk/sleep/deprived in my life. But hey, who thought 2020 was going to happen?

We wore our masks everywhere – and an N95 to boot in the airports. Delta is still keeping that middle seat empty, so if you’re ready to book a trip, this airline is taking social distancing seriously. But pack some food, because meal service can be spotty. We were on our own from LA to The Big Island, but we flew home through Atlanta and actually had our choice of chicken or ravioli. Of course it wasn’t Pop Bob’s ravioli, but it wasn’t bad.

If a lava landscape looked like a delicious pan of brownies, coming out of the clouds over Tennessee looked like an explosion of Spring. I wasn’t used to that much greenery, or driving, or car alarms going off in the airport parking lot. Great Grandma Ada always talked about transitions, and how we need to re-enter the real world slowly after a vacation. We need to be kind to ourselves; and after this past year we all need to be extra kind.

I called my brother Dr Jim just to check in, the way I’d always call Ada.

We’re going to Zoom in a few minutes with my big sister Kay and our brother. Being the youngest of six, and now only three, we need to keep each other up to date. I wonder if the Flapper knows we are keeping track of each other? MN, NY and TN. She would be happy to hear that the baby she lost has become the one who keeps us together, via email and social media now. But soon, very soon, in real life too! The Groom wants to develop an App about “In Real Life.” But I can’t spoil the surprise.

It’s funny, only the the tippy top of my feet were burned in Hawaii. Guess I thought the sun couldn’t shine through my sandals. But Spring is here and the sun is shining and my beautiful tulip magnolia is in full bloom. Can you feel the warmth?

The Grands have to quarantine for the next week… so no school. We have a date for some Nutella crepes at the newly reopened Red Bicycle! Tornado schormado – French crepes will survive! We have faced an active volcano, a tornado and this pandemic. Nothing can stop us now!

Hope you have all got your vaccines scheduled and you’re ready to rumble!

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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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