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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

As you already know, the Fourth holds some significance in my family’s life. In 1949, our Year of Living Dangerously, my Father died from a brain tumor in April. The Flapper decided she needed to take a small road trip on the Fourth of July weekend that year, so she piled everyone in the car. Everyone except my brother Michael, who wanted to stay home. He was eleven years old and had a basketball game.

We were driving outside the city of Scranton to see the new airport in Wilkes Barre, PA. A drunk driver hit us head on. My Nana was holding me in the back seat, I was 10 months old, there were no child seats.

Every Fourth is a mountain for me to climb; and this year is no different. I approach the holiday with some semblance of respect. Don’t get me wrong – I love our flag, the parades, and barbeque. But I’d just as soon not get in a car.

My siblings all had different ways of coping.

Mike, the one who wasn’t in the car, threw an amazing 4th of July party with his wife Jorja every year on Lake Minnetonka in MN. He called it “the good life” and my sister Kay would fly in from NY to be with the Flapper. After all, 14 year old Kay was in a coma for a month in 1949. My brother, seven year old Dr Jim, got to ride in a fire engine after the accident. He later moved his family from California to the Land of a Thousand Lakes.

I was the only one missing. I was the one sent to a foster family, and I started my own family in New England.

The Fourth of July parade was our introduction to Pittsfield, MA. Bob was interviewing for a job as an ER doctor, and I was enchanted with the Berkshires. We sat on Edith Wharton’s lawn to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We got tickets to Jacob’s Pillow and I remembered what it meant to dance. We had the Bride in 1979, while we were living on the side of a mountain with a spring-fed pond.

The Rocker was born midsummer, at the edge of a bird sanctuary. I was writing for the Berkshire Eagle, and I didn’t need to travel for the Fourth. We were content to stay home. Bob always said emergency departments are at their busiest on this holiday.

This year fireworks are cancelled in Nashville. No parade. Our city is taking a step back because the coronavirus infection rates are rising. And bars are closed, which is a good thing.

But love isn’t canceled. Patriotism isn’t cancelled. I still love this country, despite the last three years. Happy Birthday USA! Yes our founders were slave holders and scoundrels, but they did do some things right.

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As we were driving home from Florida yesterday, we heard on the news that bars would no longer be serving alcoholic drinks. One night we had pulled our golf cart up to an outside bar on Santa Rosa Beach; there was only one other person placing a To-Go order. She didn’t have a mask on, so our brave Bride kept her distance, and managed to walk away with margaritas for the house – some with and some without alcohol.

I wonder what Florida bars will be serving up now, or will they switch to BYO? Will people still crowd into dark, beer-reeking bars – will they flirt and laugh and cough on one another?

The funny thing is, maybe one in ten people were wearing masks in the Panhandle. In fact, during one golf cart trip I was sitting in the back facing traffic and forgot I had my hand-made, purple batik mask on. Cars, our house, the early morning beach and golf carts were considered mask-free-zones for our little quaranteam… anyplace else, like ordering ice cream or drinks outside on patios the mask came on! We didn’t go to restaurants.

But sitting there, in the back of our little cart, masked with the L’il Pumpkin, who also had his fun Star Wars mask on, I was aware of people staring at us.  And it wasn’t a smiley stare, like “Aw, look at that Nana and her cute redheaded grandson!” Nope, it was more like, “What are you people doing here?” Someone actually hollered something hostile to us. I guess they didn’t think we could exercise our constitutional right to stay alive?

Congratulations Florida. Today you set a record for one day of additional Covid infections – 9,585 cases.

In the very middle of our drive, in Alabama, Bob and I happened to listen to this administration’s long overdue propaganda report on radio CNN. No wait, it was called a presser of the White House Coronavirus Task Force brought to us by the Department of Health and Human Services. I happened to be driving during a white-out downpour, but I’m pretty sure I NEVER heard Pence (or anyone else) mention the word “mask.” The word Pollyanna jumped to mind.

“But it was also clear that Pence remains locked in a mindset that downplays all bad news about the pandemic. When confronted with the growing death count, he likes to point out the daily total of dead Americans is lower than it was once. When discussing the rise in cases, he said, “Roughly half of the new cases are Americans under the age of 35, which is at a certain level very encouraging news,” because the disease is less deadly for younger people. He avoids the idea that states are experiencing spikes and prefers to discuss localized “outbreaks.” https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly-coronavirus-special-edition/2020/06/26/pence-and-the-power-of-positive-thinking-489656

Like the Flapper, Pence must be a big believer in positive thinking. His advice was to pray more, which was laughable except for the fact that he means it. In response to a reporter’s questions about masks, he talked about our constitutional freedom to assemble with or without a “face covering.”  Even the word “mask” is verboten.

Well our Mayor Cooper has taken over the reins in Nashville. Last night, Metro Nashville was debating whether to mandate masks! And lo and behold, masks WON! By tomorrow at 5pm, our personal responsibility for the health and lives of our neighbors will trump (HA) our individual liberty to have your face unmasked. For a Republican state, TN has grown in my affection. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/26/nashville-require-face-masks-public-coroanvirus-spreads/3266522001/

Here is an old picture of the Bride at Berkshire Medical Center’s ER; she looks to be about the same age as the L’il Pumpkin. Bob was the director of this teaching hospital. On Monday, the Bride will return to her work wearing an N95 mask, treating everybody and anybody who enters her ER. It seems like it was yesterday that she posed for this health  magazine shoot.

If you can’t wear a mask to protect your own loved ones, wear one for mine please.IMG_4843

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I’ve never been a morning person, I’m more of a late afternoon type.

But having babies that woke with the birds and school buses showing up before dawn turned me into one. I always thought that once the nest was empty I could sleep until noon, but my biological clock just doesn’t permit it. And now living in a city, the sounds of trucks compete with birdsong to get me up early; and hearing the ding of a text from the Bride punctuates what always threatens to be another ground hog day of cleaning and cooking.

She asked about bringing the Grands over for “Lunch in the Garden.” Of course I immediately said, “Yes!”

Bob and I got the corn hole set out of the shed and put the finishing touches on a lovey who had required stitches. I found the book I’ve been reading to them about authors when they were children. Today they chose a chapter on C S Lewis, who was born Clive Staples, but changed his name to “Jack” after his dog Jackie was hit by a car.

I told them that I once had a dog that was hit by a car, and it’s absolutely the saddest thing in the world. The Bug looked at me as if to figure out what that might feel like, so I quickly moved on. Their dog Guiness is the same age as Ms Bean, so we have a few years left.

After lunch, we set off for a masked walk in our neighborhood, the Love Bug was looking for a certain flower. We found trees to climb, a fountain of freezing cold water, but not the particular purple flower she was thinking of, although we found some red roses and pink dahlias.

When we returned, the mailman (in a mask) had delivered a present for them – it was the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. The Bride seemed intrigued and I’m pretty sure tonight’s menu will include a special English pudding. The Groom has been reading Harry Potter at bedtime, if he’s not On Call at the Covid ICU.

I have a funny feeling we may want to plan our first trip after quarantine to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Hollywood. That way we can visit the Rocker and Aunt KiKi too. Day dreaming about travel is a good use of my time.

This morning with the onset of sunny, summer temperatures, the wind seemed tropical. I could close my eyes and think about our favorite island in the French West Indies. We would always shower after the beach and the pool, after the heat of the day, around 4pm. Then we would dress for dinner. Dinner on a French island can take hours, and Bob never complains about the time. I live with someone who cannot wait in a line, except on this island.

Because on vacation we all slow down, and now we have the opportunity to slow down in real time. There is no hurry to accomplish anything on our 9th week of lock down. We were supposed to have a little FL beach vacation with the kids on 30A next month. We were hoping we could isolate for a week or two, and then be able to vacation together, to really hug the Love Bug and my Pumpkin. But right now, that’s looking very unlikely.

Bob is baking sourdough bread and I am mending corduroy pants. My first attempt at Japanese embroidery has been frustrating, but I have all the time in the world to pull out stitches and try again.

How about you? Are you doing time, marking time, are you crossing the days off your calendar? Or can you appreciate how this Great Pause is changing us for the better? Here are the Grands right before I asked them if they could do a tree pose on a tree limb.

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So much is happening, locally and globally. But this morning I’m heading out to Tot Shabbat at the Temple. We will sing, and light candles and try to forget about natural disasters and the personal/political ramifications of rescinding DACA for an hour or two..

Yesterday was the closing on our mountain house. We didn’t have to be there, we signed everything electronically. The people who bought it flew in from FL, they were escaping Hurricane Irma and bought our house as a second home. The closing was supposed to be today, the storm changed that equation.

It was bittersweet for me as this was the first, and most likely the last, home we built together.

Yesterday was also the end of Four Bridges, Bob’s family summer home. The last hold-out in signing off on the property finally relented. Checks will be cut for all the descendants of Etti and Sam, immigrants from Russia. They came here with nothing, and left quite a legacy.

One Hurricane story concerns our friend’s son, Jon. He had just started medical school on St Martin and luckily his apartment was not right on the sea. He took shelter with his friends and they are all fine but the island is uninhabitable. The school’s back-up plan was to send students to Miami.

That’s the last place they can go for their first year of study. I wonder if someone at Vandy or UVA will accept these medical students, like they did after Katrina?

And one last thing if you are in the path of this hurricane. Close all your windows and inside doors too, this will help save your roof! http://disastersafety.org/Hurricane/

May God watch over us all. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

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jack-russell
Well we didn’t have a three dog night. In fact, NY and NJ are feeling somewhat slighted by the blizzard, while the Blue Ridge simply got a dusting. Ms Bean was snuggled tight in her little cave; her bed is under a credenza next to my side of the bed. Her snoring is my night music. I’m still waiting to rescue a Corgi so we can be a two dog family once again. But before I tell you about my matchmaking skills with a male Jack Russell dog named Mona, let’s go over why owning and loving a dog is good for our health.

The American Heart Association actually issued a statement saying that pet ownership, particularly dogs, is associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, and it can also increase your chance for survival after having a heart attack! http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Owning-a-Pet-May-Protect-You-from-Heart-Disease_UCM_453586_Article.jsp

…there are a variety of reasons that may be at work that influence this relationship. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.

I used to walk my first Corgi Tootsie Roll two miles every day, until one day we were approaching Rumson Road and she wanted to turn around. Every day she was cutting our walk in half! I told the vet she must be getting Alzheimer’s, but he said she was smart. She was getting older and I would have to accommodate. So I just walked the same mile twice; once with Toots and her son Blaze, and twice with Blaze. I called this my “meditative walk,” and it helped me think and prepare my mind for writing.

Little did I know it was also helping my heart. But who would have thought that rescuing a dog could open your heart to love? And I don’t just mean the furry kind.

While our family was vacationing in FL last week we got together with Meredith, an old Med School friend of the Bride and Groom. It just so happens she is a practicing Ob-Gyn in Tampa. The Love Bug played with her sweet son in the pool for hours, while Meredith did her best to sell the doctor couple on the pleasures of practicing medicine in the Sunshine State. And then I just had to ask, “How’s Mona?”

You see I feel personally responsible for Meredith’s marriage! One day long ago BC (before children) in med school, Meredith told me she wanted a dog. I accompanied her to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA and we found a little male Jack Russell, who was full of energy and a kissing machine. It was love at first lick! I would grand dog sit him when she had to do an away rotation and he got on splendidly with my crew. Little did I know that within a few months Meredith met her future husband at a dog park with his Jack Russell, and the rest is herstory!

Dogs are not only good for your heart, they are great for your love life! And Mona is still alive and kicking.

the Maid of Honor, the Bride, the MOB, and Merdith

the Maid of Honor, the Bride, the MOB, and Merdith

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We were not leisurely shopping on Cyber Monday. Oh no, we were desperately trying to make our way home via Key West airport. For some inexplicable reason, Southwest decided to cancel their flights out of our tiny island. One couple managed to score a Delta flight, while the Love Bug and her Mama hitched a ride to Miami with another Big Chill couple. The Groom left us a little early to start his ICU rotation. Only US Air delivered us on time back to the Blue Ridge.

I thought I would share some Tuesday morning quarterbacking memories with you. First of all, there was the butterfly. Or I should say thousands of butterflies http://www.keywestbutterfly.com

Right in the middle of Duval Street – a veritable hub of humanity with every imaginable language you could think of – we strolled into a magic garden; “50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, along with over 20 exotic bird species, all under a climate- controlled, glass enclosed habitat.” The Bug was enchanted. The moving sea of fluttering colors caught all of us off guard, it was as if we were a part of a living and breathing terrarium. I turned to Bob and said, “This exceeded my expectations,” and it did!

Then there were the chickens. IMG_2235We spotted a rooster when we first got out of the car on our little lane, and every day after that the search for chickens continued. Our 15 month old toddler loved to find hens with their chicks and red-combed roosters lingering nearby. These gypsy chickens are free-roaming on every street and nest in the trees at night. It seems the combination of outlawing cock fighting in the 70s and buying chicken in neatly wrapped packages at a grocery store led to this laissez faire attitude toward poultry. They are so tame, they will eat out of your hand and let you pet their chicks!

We hopped on the Conch Train for the 90 minute tour of Key West. Keeping the Bug occupied and safe meant I only heard pieces of the island’s colorful history but we enjoyed the ride and the ice cream stop especially. Later, the Bride stayed home with the baby and we took in a drag show at 801 Boubon. Our MC was Desiree, and she was a grandfather! Instant connection, I have to admit, since we are both redheads. Hysterical night, including the part where Cait and I did a little back-up singing! http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/travel/09hours.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

What more can I say? There was La Creperie and croissants galore. Salsa dancing and delicious Cuban food. Art galleries on every corner, and Serbian rickshaw drivers. Key West is a melange of Vegas, New Orleans, and Miami and I didn’t want to click my heels together.

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It’s the morning after. Some of you may have participated in this strange, compulsive shopping tradition we call “Black Friday.” The stampedes started early this year, on Thanksgiving night for some. I’m one who never really got into the spirit by pushing and shoving my way around Walmart in the wee hours for a “deal.” http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/23/pf/black-friday-2012/ Plus, some workers are striking, and if I learned one thing from my PA coal miner family, you never, ever cross a picket line. Maybe that’s old fashioned, but I’m not a scab! And, sleep is a wonderful thing, better than a sale any day.

The Love Bug loves the beach, and she’s sleeping like a baby here. Ever since we arrived, for 10 straight glorious hours, she has been sleeping through the night. For the rest of us, it’s touch and go. The tennis team from UNC thought right next door would be a good place to party; and their shenanigans lasted until dawn. Bob and the Bride had a serious talk with the British team captain, and that seemed to do the trick. Not sure if they used the Blue Devil approach, but whatever was said worked.

The Rocker and Ms Cait are already heading home, after trying out a driving range and some go-carts. Last night we stayed in to watch a movie, “Moonrise Kingdom,” which was perfect. Today we met a friend of the Bride’s at Rosemary Beach and I discovered the most wonderful combo bookshop/art gallery. It’s the off-season now in FL, they are even expecting a frost tomorrow night. The turkey has been carved, we gave thanks for all our blessings. We’ve had fun, sightseeing and beach walking, roaming around, getting the lay of the land. So long sand and sun, the mountains are calling us home.

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