Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren’

BANG! BANG! BANG! Hello anybody home?

And a fine cold March morning to you. Today we are replacing the old, dilapidated wooden fence that encircles our backyard. At 8:30 am on the dot, they started tearing down the fence. It’s supposed to take just one day. This is one of those times I wish I had a noise cancelling set of headphones; I guess I could make like a younger person and head off to a coffee shop to write, or I could try the Bride’s house down the street.

But, this is Spring Break week, so the Grands are home. Between my babies and the bulldog over there, and the BANGING over here, I doubt any cogent thoughts will appear on this page. I guess Pandemonium must be happening at every house with young children this week. After all, there are always Star Wars contraptions to build with Legos. My Ps and Qs (peace and quiet) will have to wait!

After scanning the usual papers on screen with my coffee, it seems like there’s nothing new to report: Mr T is blaming Pence for January 6, isn’t it incredible we are still talking about the twice impeached ex-prez? Regional banks are rebounding, and Russia is still fighting a war it cannot win. The new George Lucas museum is going up ever so slowly in LA. Speaking of LaLa Land, did you see the Oscars? One bit of good news – for the first time in years, Bob and I managed to see the winning movie, “Everything Everywhere All At Once!”

EEAAO is not for everyone; I’ve heard mixed reviews from friends. For me, it is a movie about LOVE and the ties that bind us all in this dimension. I’d choose to do laundry and taxes with Bob again. Michelle Yeoh was nothing short of excellent at the job of mothering. After the last couple of years, I’m sure many of us have been rethinking our parenting skills, and trying to time travel.

That night, as I was getting into bed, I asked Bob if he thought I’d be a different person if my father hadn’t died and my mother never took that car ride to Wilkes Barre July 4, 1949. I imagined growing up in Scranton, PA surrounded by cousins and grandparents, a place where our ancestors are all buried. I would have become a good Catholic girl. I would have grown up with my sister Kay and my brothers. We would have read comic books in the front of my father’s drug store. But I don’t like to dwell in the past.

Bob is busy building a dog gate for the Bride’s front porch. Then the next project for us, after the new cedar fence, will be refinishing the old floors in this new/old house. The contractor had to plane red oak to match our 1920’s floors to patch up the old hearth spots. And in order to do that, I will have to empty my Snug?! Since I use a file by pile approach, this my friends will not be an easy task.

There’s a break in all the action outside. I’ve done a walk-about to see what flowers, herbs and shrubs survived this past winter. All our front foundation hedges are brown unfortunately. The whole row of lavender I meticulously planted last spring is dead. Rosemary didn’t survive either. One tiny ornamental grass did pop up, and the lilacs are starting to bud. And the Grands have arrived to watch the fence go up!

I gave them an assignment with my phone. The Pumpkin will be the Artistic Director, and the Bug will be Head Camerawoman. I asked for pictures from the metaverse of our yard, anything artistic about fence building? I think we can find art everywhere if you’re willing to look. And you won’t need a pair of googly eyes either. We’ve never lived behind a fence before, but I’ve come to treasure our privacy in the backyard.

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We’re home – after a quick trip to NYC to visit my sister Kay and see a couple of Broadway shows.

The Grands had never been to the Great White Way, and this trip was the Bride’s idea. As soon as Broadway reopened, she booked our tickets, not knowing if the Bug and Pumpkin would be vaccinated yet. We were still moving in, opening boxes, some labeled “Beach House” which obviously never happened. Still trying to organize our Crystal Cottage – we put everything on hold to take a bite of the Big Apple!

And it was delicious!

I remembered the Rocker as a toddler, standing in the first row of “Into the Woods.” Felicia Rashad played the bad witch, but he only had eyes for the orchestra. He stayed still, transfixed by the musicians. I thought about the time we sat in box seats for “Chicago” with one of his friends. And of course, we will always have our “Grease” dance moment.

I tried out for every play in high school. I met Angela Lansbury at the Stage Door of “Auntie Mame.” Watching Barbara Streisand play “Funny Girl” left me breathless. I could see the sweat on Zero Mostel’s face in “Fiddler.” I didn’t know it then, but Broadway musicals would become a family tradition.

I was lucky really. Growing up in New Jersey, with my fabulous, big sister across the river on the Upper East Side. When we weren’t listening to Frank Sinatra, the Flapper played LPs of “Flower Drum Song,” “Gypsy” and “South Pacific” non-stop. I’m glad the extravagant love I feel for this unique American art form, the Broadway musical, has rubbed off on my children. And I see the Bride is determined to pass the torch on to the next generation..

We had the most perfect weather last weekend. Tulips of every color were blooming down Park Avenue. We strolled over the Highline, over the hustle and bustle on the streets listening to the birds and an assortment of languages. We visited Kay’s vintage jewel of an apartment and talked about art and medical school. We feasted at Serendipity 3, just as I had when I was a girl. The Love Bug said, “This is like a girl’s dream.”

And topping it all was “Hamilton.” The songs, the dancers, the story conspired to create a most perfect union/play. I could feel the longing for freedom, the envy of power and influence, the self-sacrifice of a sister. I discovered that my skin can still produce goosebumps. Alexander Hamilton’s story tapped into our collective desire for love and camaraderie. Especially now. I haven’t cried in a theatre in a very long time.

Today I will open more boxes and continue my endless search for some glass shelves. I will try to clean up the back patio, despite the carpenter bees. I’ll re-write my To Do list and research the Forest Pansy Redbud tree. Maybe I’ll polish some silver and plant some grasses! Most likely I’ll be humming Eliza Hamilton’s song, “That would be enough.”

“LOOK AROUND, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now

Look around Look around”

…and if this child shares a fraction of your smile

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Yesterday, Bob and I picked up the Grands from their morning day camp and offered them a choice for an afternoon activity. Rain was in the forecast so outdoor fun was limited. How about a visit to the Frist Art Museum? The children’s section is closed so, no thanks. Would they like to go to “Top Golf” and hit some golf balls from a climate controlled and covered bay? https://topgolf.com/us/nashville/

In this transition Covid time, the thought was we could keep socially distant in our very own individual box/bay. You can order food and drinks to be delivered, and we had been there before so I knew they’d love it. Much to our surprise, the L’il Pumpkin declined this too, in favor of our other choice – the Adventure Science Center! https://www.adventuresci.org/

Since both children are too young to be vaccinated, we pre-empted our visit with a few rules. We must wear our masks at all times even though the Pumpkin has another loose tooth, we must try and stay 6 ft apart from others, and if it gets too crowded, we leave. Well the stars must have been aligned, because the scheduled show in the Sudekum Planetarium was about the origins of FLIGHT… right up Pilot Bob’s alley.

This delightful science museum was built for children to effortlessly interact with exhibits and explore their world. We learned about gravity and wind tunnels, and fulcrums, and germs. We stood in front of a mirror and our refections turned into skeletons! Unfortunately, the virtual reality exhibit was closed, but that didn’t matter. Just being able to see our Grands run free, inside, in a “safe space,” was reward enough for me.

And finally sitting back in a dark planetarium, in our masks with lots of empty seats around us, we looked up at the stars as the film began. Have you ever dreamed you were flying? Starting with Aladdin’s magic carpet, and then watching Leonardo DaVinci sketch his idea of a flying machine, the Grands were mesmerized. As the narrator spoke, while we “flew” over France, about the development of hot air balloons starting in 1783 Paris, even the adults in the theatre were transfixed.

Did you know the first balloon passengers were farm animals – a sheep, a duck and a rooster! And that even though Kitty Hawk, NC saw the Wright Brothers first successful flight, it was the French who began to mass produce airplanes.

The Love Bug turned to me and said, “Nana, I’ve never been on a hot air balloon!” I told her she has lots of time ahead to plan for a special trip and I remembered a friend from NJ whose Grandmother took her on a hot air balloon tour across France. This particular nana, who looked exactly like the Old Lady in Babar’s books, is my grandmotherly mentor.

Today we can all travel across the world in record time, and we are busy exploring space. But today is also the anniversary of Galileo having to recant his conviction that the SUN, and not the Earth, is the actual Center of the Universe. In 1633 the Roman Church was large and in charge of everything scientific and otherwise.

“Galileo lived at a time when the centuries-old Almagest of the Egyptian scholar Claudius Ptolemy, written in 139AD, was still being used by the Church as “evidence” and “confirmation” for the Aristotelian idea that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe. Galileo was part of the Renaissance, the centuries-long ferment accelerated and intensified by the invention of printing in the middle of the 15th century. He was not alone. More or less contemporary with him were physicists and mathematicians Willebrord Snell (the Dutchman who conceived the law of light refraction), the Belgian Simon Stevin and the four Frenchmen Marin Mersenne, Pierre de Fermat, Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascale. Yet it is Galileo’s name that survives as the “founder” of physics.”


Of course, it’s impossible to know where the Center of the Universe is, whether it’s finite or infinite. And we would be pretty selfish still to think that other galaxies beyond our ability to see them don’t exist. All we know is that the universe is expanding and though we don’t know its exact size, “…we only have a lower limit that it must now be at least 46.1 billion light-years in radius in all directions from our perspective.”

From my perspective, my universe is a bit smaller.

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

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

But so far, so good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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,
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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