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Tomorrow I will be voting for our First Woman President! I am so proud to cast this vote, to pull the lever or press the button in honor of my Grandmother, Anna Robinson, who wasn’t allowed to vote when women suffrage was passed because she had married an “alien” Irishman. Immigration is the grand story of this great country, not it’s problem. But first let me fill you in on the last few days.

Returning home to my newly retired husband was a bit strange. People are asking me how is he doing, like we got a diagnosis of some dreaded disease. Yes, he still shaves in the car and puts his pants on one leg at a time. Don’t forget, Bob was never a 9 – 5, Monday through Friday kinda guy; he worked plenty of weekends and like a commercial pilot, had lots of free time around the house. I’ve already set some limits – no reorganizing the linen closet for instance. But do feel free to search and destroy random stinkbugs while cleaning out any expired cans from the pantry! Thanks Babe!

The Virginia Film Festival coincided with my return from Nashville, so we ventured out to the Historic Downtown Mall for dinner and a show. Only the film was midday, so dinner at the Nook came later, guess we are slipping into early bird specials already. We saw a documentary about the Holocaust…I know, I know. In the midst of this bizarre and stressful election denouement, why submit ourselves to such heartache. But it was a film about children, and I thought it might be uplifting.

The film, “Not the Last Butterfly,” was inspired by a poem written by Pavel Friedmann, “The Butterfly,” about never seeing another butterfly in the transit ghetto that was Theresienstadt outside of Prague in the former Czechoslovakia. Commonly called Terezin, it is sometimes mis-identified as a concentration camp, but it was a Walled Ghetto of Limbo for Jews awaiting their fate at the hands of the Nazis. It was a stop along the way for 15,000 children between 1941 and 1945. Pavel the poet was shipped to his death in Auschwitz in 1944. Only 100 children survived Terezin.

He was the last. Truly the last.
Such yellowness was bitter and blinding
Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.
That was his true colour.
And how easily he climbed, and how high,
Certainly, climbing, he wanted
To kiss the last of my world.

I have been here seven weeks,
‘Ghettoized’.
Who loved me have found me,
Daisies call to me,
And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.
But I haven’t seen a butterfly here.
That last one was the last one.
There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.

In an effort to make this horrific history approachable for schoolchildren today, a teacher in California came up with the idea to create 1.5 Million butterflies: yes, One and a Half Million to memorialize the total number of Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Under the leadership of a mosaic artist, Cheryl Rattner Price, they set about designing a curriculum that would include each child making by hand a ceramic butterfly and painting it, while simultaneously learning about one particular child who perished during the war. It was a profound undertaking, and quickly spread around the globe and to many different faiths. A rock festival in Poland created butterflies. A Catholic school in Oregon took on the Butterfly Project. The installation has taken flight at the San Diego Jewish Academy, but the butterflies are arriving from all over the world.

Remember I had just returned from Nashville. I had given the Love Bug butterfly kisses on her cheek. So when they showed the archival footage of children during the Holocaust, I thought of my grandchildren. When they showed Jewish stores and synagogues burning during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, I thought of the the Black church that was burned down in MS last week, with “Vote Trump” painted across a wall. Slowly, tears streamed down my face, because I understood how hatred starts out. Slowly, hatred of the “Other” becomes socially acceptable, so that the electrician who came to fix our phones said, “Why should they get a free ride, when I had to pay for my wife to come here?”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/02/vote-trump-painted-on-wall-of-burned-out-black-church-in-mississippi/

So tomorrow I am voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton, for my grandchildren. I am voting for Love, because I don’t want to go back to a time where Women and Blacks were humiliated and disenfranchised in this country. I don’t want to go back to that great America where LGBT people were ridiculed and denied their rights. The Germans didn’t believe Hitler meant what he said, but we need to believe Trump means what he says; and he likes nuclear weapons and calls our military a bunch of “losers.” We cannot elect such a man filled with hate.

For more information about the film, or to see if you can arrange a showing at your school, please visit: http://thebutterflyprojectnow.org    img_5559

 

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Traveling with dogs can be tricky. Particularly when your dog is a rescue who starts gagging the moment you ask her if she wants to go for a ride.

We never had a dog who didn’t love jumping into any moving vehicle when invited for a ride. Buddha Bear would leap onto the Piper Arrow’s wing and happily sit beside Bob as his co-pilot! The Corgis always cuddled under the plane’s seats. So watching Ms Bean run away from the hanger and foam at the mouth while sitting in the back seat of my Honda was disturbing, and finally led us to the Vet for canine anti-nausea drugs.

But watching Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard apologize for bringing their dogs illegally into Australia was even more disturbing. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/18/johnny-depps-wife-amber-heard-pleads-guilty-over-bringing-dogs-to-australia

Yorkies “Pistol” and “Boo,” due to the last-minute sacking of one of Heard’s assistants, did not have all their proper doggie paperwork completed, which led Heard to outright lie on the immigration form as they landed in their private jet. Some excuses seem to work I guess, although I would caution anyone to check (YES) when asked if you are carrying animals into another country, certainly if you happen to have two terriers in mini-mesh-carry-ons. When threatened with deportation, death, or ten years in jail, eh quarantine, Heard and Depp agreed to film their apology.

Heard’s punishment, a one-month good behaviour bond of $1,000, was an anti-climactic end to a Hollywood clash with Canberra in an imbroglio dubbed the “war on terrier”.Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said the video, played to her Gold Coast court on Monday, was “of far more benefit to this country” as a warning to would-be illegal importers than any conviction recorded against Heard.

The scripted video that played in court looked as if some mind control expert had taken over the couple’s souls. Depp tells us to “Declare everything” at the end, as if only the truth will set you free! I kept looking at him thinking they must have to use more make-up to age his pirate persona since he seems to be getting younger. As part of their sentencing, the video has now become a viral sensation, and may get more views than Depp’s latest rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow. Maybe they could rename this next Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, “Dead Dogs Tell No Tales?”

As for us, on last month’s trip to NJ – her maiden voyage – Ms Bean did just fine with her pill onboard. She even got to play with a Jack Russell visiting from Arkansas. Now she runs toward the car when we ask if she wants to come along! And we may just have to pack her up and evacuate if the wind shifts and this Shenandoah wildfire starts moving in our direction. It has burned over 2,000 acres and the smoke is affecting my eyes and lungs. This was our view last night. IMG_4282

 

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Do you stop to think twice? Or do you leap into new situations, never looking back? This is characteristic of the nature/nurture phenomenon, a temperament that is born-in IMHO. You are either a risk-taker, or a risk-avoider. Look at the baby Rocker. The first time he saw the ocean, he ran right into the waves. Remember he was called “The Boy who ran before he could walk,” so he probably wasn’t even walking yet!

Not every young adult would pack up all his earthly possessions in two cars, convince his girl this is a good idea, and move across the United States to find work in the film industry. Which he did – exhibit A: The new Tarzan trailer, Music and Sound Design by my boy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91rm_G1xkU8

And then there’s the rest of us, we proceed cautiously – my psychologist brother Dr Jim was just telling me about the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM); “The transtheoretical model posits that health behavior change involves progress through six stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination.” 

My first thought was, ‘this is so meta.’ Let’s think about how we think about changing our lives. But for behavioral psychologists, TTM is helpful when someone has been stuck in a habit, let’s say smoking, for most of his/her life and cannot seem to quit. Or they quit for awhile, and then start back down the road. It’s a way to break down the process of change into manageable, small steps. http://brainblogger.com/2009/01/25/smoking-behavior-and-the-transtheoretical-model-of-the-stages-of-change/

I’ve been thinking about this since returning to the states, and the full-frontal onslaught of political campaigns. We’d been invited to a fundraiser for Secretary Hillary Clinton and unfortunately couldn’t attend, but I’ve been listening closely to her words about the Supreme Court nominee. Lately she’s been tweeting us a very valuable history lesson:

  • At our best, America has united behind the ideal that everyone deserves a fair shot. At its best, the Supreme Court has defended that ideal.
  • In 1973, #SCOTUS ruled that women have the right to make intimate health decisions for ourselves. 
  • In 1954, #SCOTUS held that separate is not equal in our schools.
  • Last June, #SCOTUS ruled that marriage equality was the law of the land.

However her critics want to talk about emails, about trustworthiness, about her abundance of caution. She corrals the press, keeping a tight leash on reporters. She doesn’t want to debate in NY, but will in PA. She just has TOO MUCH confidence! This is what Huffington Post writer, Anna Kegler, said about Hillary’s problem:

While boys are raised to exaggerate their skills, take risks, fall down and pick themselves back up, girls are taught to think things through and second-guess, avoid risk and failure, and not raise their hand unless they’re sure they have the right answer. Lastly, girls absorb from the media that their real value [lies] in their appearance, at the same time that boys absorb the message that girls are not to be trusted.

Could this be the real issue? It’s not that Hillary can’t be trusted, it’s just that she doesn’t suffer from impostor syndrome. “By exhibiting confidence and publicly extolling their own virtues, female politicians running for office break the rules of the game and subvert existing power structures. As a politician, Clinton makes repeated asks for money and votes. Implied at the end of every ask is “because I deserve it,” and often, “more than that white man I’m running against.” http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/03/28/impostor_syndrome_is_expected_of_women_but_hillary_clinton_won_t_conform.html

Hooray for all those non-compliant women out there! Great Gma Ada used to give the Bride money for a report card that had that negative “Does not raise hand before talking” box checked! Good for you, she would say, make your voice heard! We not only wanna have fun, we want to bake and eat those cookies too! And the Rocker, well he wants to jump at the same time! Which is why he can work in Hollywood and still return to Jersey for gigs with his band, The Parlor Mob. 12418059_10154401166989316_7721114401111152149_n

Here’s to all the risk-takers, boys and those girls, the ‘tomboys’ out there who want to have it all. Don’t listen to the critics, climb trees, ride your bikes faster and faster. Reach for the stars, because you too can be President one day.

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Granted I’ve been alive a long time now, and for some reason, I never knew what the term spaghetti western means. Is it a bunch of movies made in Sicily? Does it refer to cowboys who will only eat pasta? Is it a genre or just a passing fad?

Turns out spaghetti westerns are a sub-genre of movies about the wild wild west, mostly filmed in Spain with Italian directors in the 1960s and 70s. Here are its most common characteristics according to Urban Dictionary:

1. Level of Violence (Usually more than American made westerns).
2. The Music (Often scored by Ennio Morriconne and Bruno Nicolai).
3. Sound Effects (Particulary the gun and horse sounds are different from the ones used in American made westerns).
4. Religious imagery, symbols and names.
5. Filmed in Almeria Spain.
6. Italian and Spanish names in the credits (It is highly likely the director will be named Sergio).
7. Out of sync dubbing (Even the Italian versions are dubbed).
8. Stereotypes (Mexicans as theives, women as whores).
9. A shitload of alternate titles.
10. Banned in several countries.
11. Often they star Franco Nero, Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Klaus Kinski, Luigi Pistili, Mario Brega and other spaghetti regulars.

It should be noted here, that as a girl I remember distinctly running out of Dover, NJ’s Baker Theatre to throw up on the street during the chariot race in Ben Hur. And it was the gruesome depiction of dying horses that did it for me, and we all know this was long before they started running “No animals were hurt during the filming of this movie” credits. Between that, and my big brother, Dr Jim, scaring the life out of me by taking me to horror movies at the fancy Community Theatre, where we had to wear our little white gloves, it’s a wonder I ever went to another movie again.

On the bright side, Dr Jim and I spent some great Saturday afternoons at the Baker watching 007 double features! This helped me develop a certain taste in films, long before censors or a rating system developed for parents. I hated violence, which meant I missed lots of the great Vietnam films, but thought sex was totally normal and fine. Bob and I have been called “outlier” parents before, and this may be one of the reasons. The Rocker’s friends knew I’d sneak them into “R” rated films anytime.

Come to think of it, going to the movies was one of the many “action and adventure” dates I’d plan with my son. I dressed him up like a little Ninja Turtle for the premier of that movie, much to his bigger sister’s chagrin. When he was thirteen, I picked him up from his one camp experience in PA, and we stopped to see the first Men in Black movie on our way home! Long before that, I’d catch him working with his best bud Alex for hours in our garage on a stop-action film with their tiny Star Wars action figures. Alex later became the drummer in his first band.

Cut to today. Since moving out to the Left Coast, my son has been determined to score music for the film industry, while flying back and forth to NJ to fulfill his commitment to his band of brothers. And this week, he and his collaborators at Ignition Creative in LA have released the trailer for Tarantino’s eighth movie, “Hateful Eight,” in the style of a spaghetti western. I’m guessing the horses were treated well. http://variety.com/2015/film/news/hateful-eight-trailer-quentin-tarantino-1201568499/

Sometimes the universe just aligns.

Twelve years old and his big sister goes to college

Twelve years old and his big sister goes to college

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Last night I happened to watch a snippet from the movie Notting Hill. Hugh Grant’s character is courting Julia Roberts, a Hollywood movie star. The scene is a dinner party at his sister’s house. A clueless British stockbroker friend has just asked Roberts what she does for a living…then he continues to deplore the paltry pay his buddies on the stage are making. Oh and by the way, he asks her outright what she makes. Now in no universe could I imagine this question in some party dialogue in a London second. Still, his face is priceless when the ravishing Roberts responds, “15 Million a movie.”

It’s one of those moments when we Americans get to feel superior. And boy do we need to feel superior; our kids are testing below other developed nations, with China leading the pack for instance. And let’s not get started on early education, or supporting working women with affordable child care and sane family leave policies. We wonder why we’re not keeping up, while our legislators quibble and quake to get out of town for the holiday season. We should be so happy they passed a spending bill.

Sorry about the rant, but I’m not plugged into the news here in Nashville.

And at first I thought this must be a mistake. I’d heard about the Sony email hacking incident, and felt vaguely sorry for the female exec who wrote that another movie star, Angelina Jolie, was “…seriously out of her mind.” Honestly, wouldn’t you be out of your mind and body probably if you had that many kids? But calling her a “spoiled brat,” now that’s just mean. And then another Sony exec reports that no, “We have not caved, we have not backed down,” as he tries to explain why they are NOT releasing a new comedy, The Interview, on Christmas Day. http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-30528772

But they are caving into terrorism. North Korea is right to be worried about this little comedy, because art shines its light on everything, including the ridiculous regime of its Supreme Leader. And today, even if the studio doesn’t release the movie, we all know that hackers will release it online, for free, and eventually folks, even the people of North Korea may just be able to see Seth Rogan making fun of their government. Hey, Seth, how about writing a screenplay about our government? You know, how money runs everything, and our low voter turnout, and Detroit, and #BlackLivesMatter, and oh wait. I agree, it’s hard to make fun of the truth. Just try to consider turning that Rolling Stone UVA rape article into a satire for film – see. Better to keep making rom/coms and action movies.

And thank God for Disney. Cause I’ve been getting up close and personal with Frozen this week. And I am really, really enamored of Olaf. IMG_1902

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This morning I have chain saws in my woods. We’ve hired a man to do what Bob used to do all the time in Windsor, MA, cut down trees.

Except these trees are not for fire wood to be used in our stove, no this time around we installed a gas burning fireplace. We’re felling only the dead trees around the house. Now when Bob gets into the hot tub and there’s a strong west wind, I won’t worry he may never get out! We are seven years down the road from carving out this serene spot in the forest, time enough to know which oaks will live, and which are gone.

And speaking of “gone,” should I see David Fincher’s “Gone Girl?” I’m conflicted since I love a good murder mystery, however I didn’t read the book. Yes, I am part of that small minority of women who didn’t, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe because the idea of someone going missing is anathema to me, and it’s also hitting close to home with our own missing UVA student, Hannah Graham. We have had too many girls disappear in this college town. The FBI has traced evidence, presumably DNA, from Jesse Matthews who is the last person seen with Hannah, to the Morgan Harrington case; which is also related to a rape in Northern VA.

I would not be surprised if we hear about more charges in December, when his hearing is scheduled. This is the hot topic around town. One woman told me had such a sweet demeanor, and then we hear he was a suspect in 2 other college rapes that were never prosecuted. I saw many state police cars parked on the side of the road yesterday, troopers with sticks were walking up and down Barracks Road, past grazing cows near Ivy Farms, an area we lived in when we first moved to town. Helicopters and drones are searching for Hannah. A multinational media circus has taken over the Historic Downtown Mall. There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to her safe return. And yesterday we heard this plea from Hannah’s mother:

“Somebody listening to me today either knows where Hannah is, or knows someone who has that information,” the mother, Sue Graham, says in a video released by the city of Charlottesville, home to the university. “We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found. Please, please, please help end this nightmare for all of us,” she continues. “Please help us to bring Hannah home.” http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/04/justice/virginia-hannah-graham-case/index.html

I cannot imagine how her mother is standing, the pain of not knowing must be unbearable. On this too beautiful Fall day, may her family find  grace, courage and healing during this not knowing time.    IMG_1220

 

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We’ve been singing “Happy Birthday” to a certain two year old all week. She can sing right along too, and dance, like Angelina Ballerina. Great Grandma Ada and Hudson are here too, so it’s a multi-generational celebration. Everything is great except the weather, by 10 am I am melting, literally. The humidity is killer and the temps are in the 90s with non-stop sun. This landlocked state almost had me, if it weren’t for August.

I just have one warning for grandparents. The supposedly feminist, fairy tale from Disney, Frozen, is not for the toddler set. Last evening the Bride went to work, and the Groom had a work-related dinner, sooo we popped in the movie. There’s a huge snow monster, and I’m assuming the King and Queen died at sea. It’s not an obvious death, like Bambi, but still. I stopped that film pronto. And I wished I could freeze the landscape, just a little, with my hands.

What can say, Fall is my favorite season.

Still we toured the Ryman, and I talked with the young girl who was taking pictures of the stage. Of course she’s a singer/songwriter and just got back from a tour…her name is Erin McLendon http://theboot.com/erin-mclendon-fire-and-wine/ What can I say, everyone is talented in Nashville! Then we were stuck in traffic as lanes were closed while they were filming the TV show Nashville and trying to pick up the Love Bug from her preschool.

And speaking of tours, The Parlor Mob is at it again. Check out their current tour and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get tickets to The iconic Stone Pony in that other musical city, Asbury Park!http://www.parlormob.com
Rock On.

Watching Frozen

Watching Frozen

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