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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish family’

Bob and I went to Temple on Friday night with our crew, including the Grands. It felt odd. We had to sign in, while people in masks tried making small talk. The Pumpkin was still in his Halloween costume from school, cape and all. He was looking forward to his birthday celebration. There were twins up on the bima who were going to be Bar and Bat Mitvah the next morning, and the Pumpkin joined them for a blessing since he was turning seven.

I haven’t been to a religious service in years, but on that night the Rabbi read Great Grandma Ada’s name along with others who had died at the end of October. In Judaism, Saturday was her yahrzeit, or the anniversary of the day she died, only one year ago. Time has been fractured. It seems to me like Ada is still here; there are so many times I want to call her, to tell her that Bob and I got our boosters, to ask her what she thinks of someone who is contemplating divorce. Divorce was a dirty word to her.

I want to tell her that the Love Bug is in Hebrew School and taking dance lessons again.

Ada would have loved this week’s Torah portion about Sarah. In the Bible, Sarah was the first Matriarch and she supposedly lived to the great old age of 127. And even though she was known as Abraham’s wife, I love that God commanded him: “Whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says.” That’s pretty much what Ada told Bob when we were married in her parking lot. The Rabbi’s sermon focused on the first part of the Torah portion, which happens to be Sarah’s death.

The homily however, was not about dying or an afterlife. Instead, it was about how we treat others while they are in mourning. That it is of no use to speak in platitudes, or make empty offers. I remembered once when Ada told me not to ask someone if they needed anything, just to bring it – and that usually meant food! If you are wondering, ‘should I call someone,’ call them! She coined “just do it” long before Nike.

The Rabbi reminded us that sometimes it’s best to just ask, “How are you doing today?”

Lately, we have all been in a collective state of mourning. Weddings and funerals have been postponed. Travel plans have been curtailed. A cousin had his Bar Mitzvah via Zoom. I stare at un-masked people in a grocery store with a feeling of wonder and disillusion. I smile at a baby behind my mask, and he just looks expectantly into my eyes, waiting for my smile. Why am I still feeling tenuous around people? Do I need to be saved?

This morning I read about how the Indigenous people of the Amazon have actually sued to keep missionaries OUT of their land!

With its estimated population of 6,300 Indigenous people, it’s considered the world’s largest repository of uncontacted peoples. On a planet with vanishingly few places beyond the reach of modern civilization, the valley’s enduring isolation has made it one of the most alluring places for evangelists trying to reach the last people to have never heard the name Jesus Christ. Missionaries call such people the “unreached.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/10/31/brazil-amazon-christian-missionary/

It was a well crafted essay. It relayed just the facts, about how this man/preacher thinks he is called to bring Jesus into the lives of native people in Brazil, how he thinks the world is going to end and he wants to “save” them. The absurdity of this was apparent, and it offended me. According to Amazon, the company, there have been over 2,500 gods in the world. So this particular god is better than that particular god? https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Gods-Over-Deities-World/dp/0816029091

In Catholicism, we were not told to proselytize. Sure, in the past Jesuits traveled to new lands, but no longer. Jews, for the most part, don’t go around trying to convert other people, knocking on doors with pamphlets. Plus, the whole circumcision thing is a hard act to sell. To believe that one god is superior to the rest seems arrogant, if not dangerous.

November is Native American Heritage Month. There’s not a lot of time left to save Mother Earth. Leaders at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow have called climate change an existential crisis – “Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper… We are digging our own graves.” I hope the people of the Amazon Basin win their suit against missionaries, and remain unreachable.

And I hope this birthday boy gets vaccinated soon!

 

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Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. and since the Grands are on the road for a well-needed weekend getaway, we’ll probably have a quiet evening with the Crown on Netflix. Later, I’ll light up all eight candles in our kitschy, electric Menorah, an artifact of the 70s. Steven Fine, an author and director of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, has a special interest in the symbolism of menorahs:

Becoming not only Judaism’s oldest symbol, but also the Western world’s oldest continuously used religious symbol, the menorah once stood in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The seven-branched candelabrum (nine-branched for Hanukkah) has been a source of fascination and illumination for Jews, Samaritans, Christians and also Freemasons for three millennia.

I love menorahs and I love light and I love objects and I love text, and they all have to go together to get me really excited. And when they do, its really almost a moment of revelation.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/7-facts-about-menorahs-the-most-enduring-symbol-of-the-jewish-people/

I love my menorah too! Yes, there are nine branches and only eight nights, but that’s because one special, usually taller candle is used to light all the others – called the “shamash;” I remember because when pronounced a bit differently, it means James in Irish!

Our holiday cards are in the mail and we’re all masked up! In fact, the Groom is in his Covid ICU space suit. In a year of dramatic differences, I’ve noticed my friends are all doing the holiday season a little differently. Some have opted not to put up a Christmas tree at all, or they’ve replaced the big one for a smaller version. Others have gone all out with outside lights and blow-up snowmen. I used to find a small fir tree at Whole Foods for the Groom to put up, since my daughter always worked that day like her Dad, and I knew he’d need a little Christmas when the Grands were babies.

Last weekend, he and the Bug picked out a similar, smaller tree and decorated it with many of those original tiny, wooden, non-denominational ornaments, but she has put in her order for a bigger conifer next year! So, this is their last baby tree I guess.

It’s almost a “laissez faire” kind of holiday season. It’s as if we’ve all adopted a communal policy of non-interference in private conduct and individual freedom – and/or governmental affairs. It literally means to “allow to act,” or if laissez faire were a song, “Let It Be” would come to mind. Some people think the virus is a hoax so they refuse to wear masks, well I refuse to hold onto my anger anymore. If they want to go to Costco showing their face, great, I’ll get a Shipt order. Or, Mr T is still ranting and raving about a rigged election? That’s nice, it doesn’t bother me.

You’re not baking a bunch of cookies this year? That’s just fine, you do you! I made almost 50 mini-pumpkin muffins yesterday simply because the Love Bug gave me a bottle of pumpkin spice blend! Maybe I’m just tired of the political and personal chaos. I feel that whatever gets us through this year is good; I never actually Marie Kondoed my closets… even though every day I woke up thinking, “This will be the day!”

Today was the day I wanted to call Great Grandma Ada. The Bride got her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine this afternoon! She found out she received a placebo in the Moderna study. Yesterday her shift in the ER was filled with Covid patients. I wanted to cry, with happiness, with relief. I can see the light in the darkness, I can believe in miracles. The Groom will receive his vaccine at Vandy on Monday. Better it couldn’t be.

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The 2020 holiday season is about to get weirder. For instance, last night was the first night of Hanukkah and I almost forgot about it! It felt like I was just recovering from Thanksgiving. The laundry was done along with the turkey and scrumptious leftover sides . The garden area returned to its normal seating arrangements, and Bob replaced the fire pit’s can of propane. And last Sunday, just before popping on a plane back to LA, Aunt Kiki performed a little wizardry on my holiday card! Shhh, it’s a secret.

Then just as the Groom begins his shift in the Covid ICU, and we are all going back to being a socially-distanced-outside pod, which is our “normal” for the year, and the kiddos are back in school, the Bride lets me know that Hanukkah is coming right up. I know Jewish festivals fall on a lunar calendar, but come on, just a few days after Thanksgiving weekend? In years past, I would take each Grandchild on a separate trip to Nordstrom; we’d listen to the live piano music, have lunch and pick out something special to wear. One year it was a pair of Ugg boots.

We would also all visit Phillips Toy Mart, a family owned specialty toy store in Nashville for over 70 years. We’d watch the model trains steaming around their quaint tiny villages, and pet whatever animals were visiting, and then they could each pick out one toy. Another day would find us at another local shop in our Hanukkah tradition – Parnassus Books. And I must admit, I’d buy them whatever books they wanted. Remember, we have EIGHT crazy nights of lights and gifts for children. My trips with the Love Bug and L’il Pumpkin only covered three nights, I had five (well 10 counting 2 Grands) gifts to find yet!

This year I quickly found some books online for curbside pick-up at https://www.parnassusbooks.net/ but I still miss meandering in our famous book shop. The Bug likes mystery now, and my little guy prefers ninjas. We’ve been avoiding the mall, so I had to pull up my account at the evil empire of Amazon. Only one gift has arrived so far, a game called “Invasion of the Cow Snatchers,” it’s a magnet maze logic puzzle and thank goodness it was next day delivery! Think magnets and hilarity – “You’re the pilot of a flying saucer, sent to Earth to capture cows for scientific study. You have to negotiate your way around and over numerous obstacles — a grain silo, barn walls, crops, fences, and hay bale — to get the bovines onboard.” 

I told the Grands it was a “family” present for the first night, and since I had a huge bag of M&Ms ready to play the dreidel game after latkes, they were happy as clams. I thought of Ada while frying latkes, she gave me the recipe, but I’d barely ever made them because she always did. Yesterday it was 70 degrees! The Bride brought the children over early, since the Groom sometimes doesn’t return home until after they are in bed. He’s been working 15-16 hour days, and taking phone calls all night, he forgets to eat. The Bride has been smart to take his ICU shifts off, she will return to the ER next week.

Last night we sat distanced outside to light the first candle. We won’t be baking holiday cookies together, or shopping. I guess I will just drop off gifts whenever they arrive because it’s getting colder this weekend. We already ordered Little Passports, https://www.littlepassports.com/ so that’s two nights done.

This was us at our Thanksgiving in the garden, and our menorah last night.

slide along from right to left!

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I stood up clapping and yelling in my empty office after Kamala Harris spoke to an empty auditorium in Delaware on Wednesday. It was her first time appearing with Joe Biden as his running mate, and I was on pins and needles waiting for them. When she said the case against Mr T was “…open and shut,” I swooned. When she called our Toddler-in-Chief a whiner, I Tweeted; then I followed her husband – possibly the first ever Second Gentleman – on every social media platform!

When Kamala said, “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great, but ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most,” I got it.  I’m pretty sure only Italians and Jewish people use Momala as a token of endearment. She married Doug Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer, in 2014 and her two step-children started calling her Momala. Great Grandma Ada, who btw I’ve called Momala for years, called me up to tell me Emhoff was from Brooklyn; and then I read that Kamala broke a glass at their wedding to honor his tradition.

Wait, I misspoke. I wasn’t entirely alone watching Kamala on CNN. Ms Bean had been napping peacefully on her bed, only slightly medicated because of those pesky afternoon  thunderstorms, when my cheering started. I guess I must have been jumping around too much because she joined in with ferocity, barking and climbing up on me. She hasn’t seen me that excited in almost six months, or maybe even four years.

The Flapper was a realist when it came to politicians. Except for the great FDR, I remember her saying, “They’re all crooks.” But my foster parents were dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. I remember them getting dressed up to vote at night after Daddy Jim came home from work. And try as I might, they’d never say who they voted for, although it was pretty clear to me that they voted a straight line Democratic ticket.

After all, the Democrats were for the “working man,” the great “middle class.” I was also told the Irish vote blue, so there ya go. And once Kennedy, the first Irish Catholic president was elected and later assassinated when I was just 15 years old, my tribal loyalties were sealed in stone. McGovern was my first presidential vote, and I’m still proud of it to this day.

Many Dems I know felt discouraged after voting for Hillary in 2016 and watching the electoral college – a holdover from the southern slave states – trample our desire for a woman president. Discouraged and depressed. But this time there is something in the air. Systemic racism has crawled out of the shadows, and sitting on a fence for this election is simply unacceptable. Thanks to this administration, the American people will be asked to make a choice:

Continue running our government into the ground, chipping away at affordable healthcare during a global pandemic, and ignoring the economic plight of our people? Should we vote for a man who has single-handedly destroyed our trust in institutions like the Post Office and makes a mockery of the Justice Department? Or shall we vote for a return to truth and dignity with a Biden/Harris ticket?

She broke a piece of crystal under her heel at her wedding, and she will be the one to shatter the glass ceiling. Painting of Wonder Woman by Ashley Longshore.

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Do you get the impression the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”

@realDonaldTrump

I actually chuckled! Could it be that Mr T has actually got a sense of humor? A favorite reporter of mine retweeted his latest Twittering. We’ve just returned from a trip to Whole Foods, masks and groceries on faces and in hands, to hear that the SCOTUS has knocked another decision out of the park.

The current administration, made famous by keeping children in cages, will not be allowed to send Dreamers, the undocumented adults who came to this country as children, back to their countries of origin. Amen Chief Justice Roberts!

I just finished reading a book about a child, a little girl who was abandoned at the age of 3 by her parents, who had to flee Nazi Romania and the invading Iron Guard death squads during WWII. They thought their child’s best hope of survival was to dress her in her finest clothes, and leave her in a stairwell of a fancy apartment building. They thought she might be kept alive by one of the wealthy families, instead she was found by the concierge who took her to an orphanage:

The Girl They Left Behind, (by Roxanne Veletzos) in this way, tackles not only the tension of life in the face of numerous bombings and political escapades, but also tries to encompass the emotional drama of adoption and how adopted parents and children alike struggle to adjust to becoming a family. This picturesque exploration compounds the ticking clock of war that Veletzos leaves in the story’s background, leaving Natalia and her adopted parents, Anton and Despina, to make their decisions in the face of bombings, communist rule, and a desire to stay alive and together. https://medium.com/the-coil/book-review-roxanne-veletzos-the-girl-they-left-behind-celia-daniels-89d645eb1168

The parallels in the rise of Fascism in 1940s Bucharest to today are compelling. Based on a true story, Veletzos’ tale is similar to her great grandmother’s experience as an orphan during the war. Though we had not visited Bucharest on our Viking trip, I remembered the shoes on the shore of the Danube in Budapest. And in particular, the small shoes of Jewish children who were massacred there. This book is a page-turner. It will keep you up reading until 3 in the morning.

I thought of our newly discovered niece, Tamara. Adopted at birth, she thought she was part Italian. Raised in North Carolina, she said, “I’m the first Jew I ever met!” We all laughed.

Talia didn’t know she was Jewish. I didn’t know that after WWI, Soviet Romania sold people back to their families, mostly to Israel, for large sums of money. At one time, 35,000 Jews lived in a typical city in Romania, now there are a few hundred. If your Jewish family members survived the concentration camps and Death Squads, you could have them officially smuggled out of Romania for cash, paying off loans, or oil-drilling equipment. How much is a life worth, George Floyd’s brother asked Congress.

I remember once my foster mother, Nell, told me that the Flapper never gave them any money for me. She said this proudly, even though Daddy Jim’s job barely paid the bills. Of course my biological mother was widowed with young children and didn’t have much money anyway. I was never officially adopted, I was just waiting. But I guess the Flapper did get a stipend from the government for each child under a certain age; it was called The Aid to Dependent Children Program passed in 1935.

It provided $18 per month, and $12  for a second child. So I guess she got $42 dollars a month for my two brothers and me, thank you FDR! But she did pay for summer camp at St Joe’s and ballet school. The young girl who used to sneak out of her window in Scranton to dance to Tommy Dorsey’s band, wanted her daughter to know her way around a dance floor.

Congratulations Dreamers! And welcome to your new home, Uncle Joe will seal this deal next year.

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I saw a meme the other day that went something like this, “There will be 2 types of people on the other side of this quarantine: great cooks and alcoholics!” Let’s all strive for the former.

While Bob and I were chopping up nuts and apples for our virtual Passover Seder, I started thinking about food and our relationship to it – do we live to eat, or eat to live? Now, our days revolve around meals like never before. What kind of traditional foods would we need at this year’s Seder table? What could we do without, since it’s just the 2 of us?

What could we even order on Shipt? Horseradish? Would grape juice be just as good as Kosher wine?

Then I started to wonder if people were going to cook a big ham, studded with pineapples and cherries for Easter? Is everybody still coloring eggs even if there are no little children to hunt for them? Today is Good Friday, and as far back as I can remember it was always pretty unremarkable. The statues and the crucifix at Sacred Heart Church were covered in purple cloth, the mood was always sombre. At home, we gave up meat, so I either ate shrimp or fish sticks!

In Ireland, people will plant root vegetables, especially potatoes today:

“…most had a custom of setting their scealláin, or seed potatoes, on Good Friday when it fell in March. This was termed putting down the early pot”, and the people worked each day from Good Friday until they had set all the potatoes.

If Good Friday was late, and fell in April, it was seen as the point up to which such work should focus. In any case, it was imperative that all the spuds be covered before the cuckoo was heard. Nobody wanted to be a “cuckoo farmer”  https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/10-good-friday-traditions-you-ve-never-heard-of-1.3864889

My foster mother Nell was never a great cook, admitting that if it didn’t come in a can she didn’t know what to do with it. But her one reliable, home-cooked, go-to, comfort meal was pork chops and applesauce, with a side of french fries. This was always a special treat, along with her once a year “Haloopkies.” Pork stuffed cabbage simmered in sauerkraut accompanied by rye bread and butter, nirvana for me in the 1950s.

But I inherited my love of cooking from my mother, the Flapper. Almost every weekend I’d watch her chop, cook and bake delicious meals for her diverse family of Catholic and Jewish kids. She abhorred waste, like many Depression-era women before her, so she’d always make a soup out of leftover pot roast with barley or a mulligatawny stew out of whatever was left in the refrigerator.

I just looked up the word “mulligatawny” since I thought it was a word she made up, but no. In fact, it’s a curry stew! The Flapper loved to embellish the truth, which I hated at first, but came to enjoy with my siblings. If someone dared to ask her if a dessert was homemade, she’d proudly say “Of course!” But you never really knew.

The first dish I cooked last month as the pandemic was looming large was chicken chili. It was the last night we had our Grands sleepover, before we were told to shelter in place. I added whatever vegetables I had left in the refrigerator to the pot, plus 2 cans of beans. I chopped up a poblano pepper for a slight whiff of heat, and served it beside sliced avocado and of course, bread and butter. It was a hit with the Bug and the Pumpkin!

Bob’s got his raised bed planted and we have already picked spinach. We ordered food from Shipt online and were delighted, I may never set foot in a grocery store again.  Never thought I’d ever have someone else do my grocery shopping, but here we are in this brave new world. Searching our pantries for lentils and flour, or matzoh, and remembering how cooking can nourish the soul.

I sent Bob over to Ms Berdelle with some chicken soup last night. Maybe I should start a chicken soup food truck when this over? He ran a pretty great Zoom Seder for our family and friends, from 3 years old to 95! It’s time to clean out the cobwebs in our homes and our minds; this is the season to declutter, to wash our patio furniture, to renew our lives, to plant and welcome fresh air and sunlight into our cloistered homes.

This is the season to stay at home and save lives.

I hope that cooking brings you joy during this lonely, holy week, and that your pantry stays stocked with your choice of beverage. Below Bob is setting up the Zoom Seder, while I prepare the Seder plate.

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But Mr T plays one on TV.

He says we should probably wear masks, but he won’t. Why? Because hey, kings and dictators don’t wear masks behind a “resolute desk.” This guy with the bad spray tan is too vain to model the best defense we’ve got for this “invisible enemy,” besides social distancing. I get why he thinks he’s a king, but how could an inanimate object be resolute? So of course I had to look up the definition of “Resolute,” an adjective:

firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion:

characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, actions, etc.

I think we can all agree a desk cannot feel resolute, but Mr T is resolutely set in his opinions. He is vengeful, narcissistic, and mendacious. Maliciously mendacious in fact. I’ve been trying to look for the silver lining in this global pandemic. Bob and I have stopped watching Mr T’s coronavirus pressers, which are just stand-ins for his campaign rallies. I’ll occasionally listen to Governor Cuomo who is the voice of reason these days, along with a real doctor, Anthony Fauci.

Another real doctor is the Groom, who is currently researching that anti-malarial drug that Mr T is so fond of mentioning. His research on this drug started last week, LAST WEEK, along with 40 other institutions across the United States. Until we have any evidence, any evidence at all, it is political and medical malpractice for Mr T to continue to push the idea that we “may” have a possible “cure” for coronavirus.

The Groom is set to be back “On Call” in his ICU in about 2 weeks, right when our curve should hit its peak. This is not a reality show Mr T, and you are not a doctor.

Dr Sanjay Gupta on CNN is another doctor I believe; he’s been saying the same thing my husband, another real doctor keeps saying – the antibody test is going to be critically important. Not just to bring those who’ve recovered back into the workforce, but also to give everyone a certain sense of comfort. After all, my little “cold” right after the tornado may have immunized me already.

Dr Gupta and Bob have also been criticizing our lack of testing in the beginning; seeing how South Korea confronted the pandemic with lots of testing and tracing and isolating is illuminating.

“At the peak, medical workers identified 909 new cases in a single day, Feb. 29, and the country of 50 million people appeared on the verge of being overwhelmed. But less than a week later, the number of new cases halved. Within four days, it halved again — and again the next day.

On Sunday, South Korea reported only 64 new cases, the fewest in nearly a month, even as infections in other countries continue to soar by the thousands daily, devastating health care systems and economies. Italy records several hundred deaths daily; South Korea has not had more than eight in a day.”   https://www.n20/03/23/world/asia/coronavirus-ytimes.com/20south-korea-flatten-curve.html

Of course it’s extremely hard to catch up when your president spends 2 months blaming this pandemic hysteria on the mainstream “Fake” news, like a toddler. Nothing is ever his fault! He is, after all, the greatest living con man with a “…disordered mind, a darkened attic of fluttering bats.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/opinion/trump-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1

My daughter is another doctor on the front lines of this outbreak. She gets out of her car after a shift in the ER, takes all her clothes off and dumps them in their red zone (garage apartment), then takes a shower. Only after that, will she walk across her lawn and enter her home. She has had to reuse her PPE and still worries about possibly infecting her family. I believe every single thing she says.

Our family will be Zooming in for a Passover Seder this week with another doctor in the family, a retired orthopedic surgeon on Long Island. It’s Holy Week for the 2 big religions in our country and I wish you all a peaceful and safe Seder and Easter. And I wish Mr T would let his real doctors do the talking.

Here they were as baby doctors in Virginia!

MedSch Classmates May08

 

 

 

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The big move was done in little pieces. We ferried small things over in our car piece by piece, the ubiquitous Pod was delivered and emptied by a team of BellHops, then finally Music City Movers emptied our townhouse. Ten days later I threw a Seder for family and friends – 17 altogether. To say I’m exhausted would be missing the point; I’m feeling like I got hit by a truck and I don’t have the flu….

Remember that book we all read years ago, required reading in every high school English class, “The Things They Carried.”

Twenty years ago, writer Tim O’Brien released a book of stories about young men and war, his war, Vietnam. Among many other things, he listed the weight of each soldier’s clothes, canteens and can openers. From the book: Every third or fourth man carried a claymore antipersonnel mine, 3.5 pounds with its firing device. They all carried fragmentation grenades, 14 ounces each. They all carried at least one M-18 colored smoke grenade, 24 ounces. Some carried CS or tear gas grenades. Some carried white phosphorous grenades. They carried all they could bear and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125128156

I’ve been reevaluating all the things I’ve carried around with me from my glory days as a new wife and mother in Massachusetts, to moving back to NJ when the Rocker was just 2 and unpacking was almost impossible, to building our small house overlooking the Blue Ridge in Virginia. Then finally the fantastical move to Nashville, leaving Bob to sell most of our furniture to the new owners of our house, while I stayed here on Nana duty.

Unlike Great Grandma Ada, who cocooned in her home for fifty years collecting the things her two sisters left behind, I’ve had ample opportunity to prune and shed the things that were weighing me down.

I still carry: some of the school papers from my children; the Bride’s baby dresses; a big, antique French cupboard; the heron and guinea hen prints, the kilt I was wearing when I first met Bob; my 1960s avocado green mixer; my 60s blue Dutch oven, the one I found in a store in Cambridge, MA, the same store I’d see Julia Child shopping in from time to time, it’s a heavy workhouse of a pot that found its way back into my heart during Seder prep; the oil painting the Bride did of us on Windsor Pond; the Rocker’s self-portrait from high school. All the old photographs.

And my beautiful desk, the one I’m writing on just now. I’ve missed it for 2 years.

I’ve carried all I can bear, but still the Bride insisted on “Marie Kondoizing” me. She dumped piles of clothes on my bed and asked me, one by one, if they sparked joy?! “Mom, you have two similar black Eileen Fisher dresses, which ONE do you want?”

I was resistant at first, but then I saw how my style, me weight, my essence had changed over the years. No woman wants to be stuck in the same hair style their whole life, and I could finally see that “Pittsfield-me” was too Laura Ashley, “Rumson-me” was too Lilly Pulitzer, and “Nashville-me” is something entirely different. I thanked my dated clothes for their faithful service and bid them farewell.

Bob has always traveled light, and so he was happy to see the Big Purge, but to my surprise he kept a few sentimental things of his own.

We are ready to tackle the garden now, to plant and transplant, to install the fairy house. I hope y’all had a wonderful Passover and Easter weekend and you’re looking ahead to blue skies and warmer days. Ms Bean has her favorite sunny spot on the porch, and I just might join her!

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Ukiyo-e is Japanese for “pictures of the floating world.” It usually refers to scenes from everyday life, and was an art movement that inspired the early Impressionists. Imagine those prints of ocean waves, islands and cranes you once saw hanging in your grandmother’s home. Not this nana though; I’m more of an early 20th Century French advertising print sort of girl.

Still, with this torrent of spring rain, I’m beginning to feel as if I’ll be floating down to the Cumberland River any day now. Last night, during a rain-free respite, Bob and I visited our local Art Crawl – less a walk-about town and more an old factory brimming with live music, food trucks and artists of all media! We were especially taken with the paintings by Shane Miller. I asked if he works from a photograph or does he haul his easel outside? He said the photographs are all in his mind. https://www.shaneartistry.com/

He layers oils onto canvas in order to evoke a dreamscape. I could envision an expansiveness, a floating vista that spoke to a primordial self. I know, it sounds weird. But think about your happy place – the beach? The mountains? A long landscape of wheat grass at dawn bordered by a forest? Now stand back and squint your eyes to blur that image down into its essence. There, if you are lucky, you may find his work.

Our cousin, Stevela, is visiting his Aunt Ada (and us) from NY. He is an orthopedic surgeon who is grappling with retirement and recently started painting. What does a doctor do when he or she is no longer doctoring? Some like to pick up garbage in the neighborhood, while others might pick up a paint brush.

This is our second year in Nashville, and it was our very first Art Crawl. We told Steve that a visit to the Frist Museum is well worth it since their Mellon Collection of French Art (Van Gogh, Monet and Degas) just opened. We’ve seen it already with the Grands, where a docent told us that Van Gogh tried out being a missionary for a few years but failed. He was disabused of the notion that everyone has good intentions.

So he went back to France. “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” 

Did you know that Diego Velazquez liked to paint himself into his Baroque paintings of royal families?  In Las Meninas you will find him painting in a corner, like a play within a play.

“…Manet went to Madrid to look at Velazquez’s work and later wrote to his fellow painter, Henri Fantin-Latour: This is the most astonishing piece of painting that has ever been made. The background disappears. It is air that surrounds the fellow.”  https://www.theartstory.org/artist-velazquez-diego.htm

I was lucky enough to hear Edward Friedman, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of the Humanities, speak about analyzing literature to a group of Great Grandma Ada’s friends this week. He compared writers to painters.

He was using Las Meninas and “The Story of the Bad Little Boy,” by Mark Twain, to illustrate his point – the narrator can be reliable or unreliable. Twain is omniscient, his opinions float in the background of his narrative like the Mississippi River, brown and brooding.

I knew that my stories were all different colors swirling around, flowing fiercely sometimes and meandering at others. I knew that my palette was my laptop’s keyboard. But I had never heard the intersection of writing and painting so beautifully expressed before I met Prof Friedman.

Am I dreaming, or did the rain stop?

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CAUTION:

The following essay may not be suitable for younger or happier readers!

Christmas songs are now being censored, an Ohio radio station has pulled “Baby it’s cold outside” from its skew. This made me feel really old, since I know all the lyrics to this gem, and I thought to myself, “What is this world coming to???” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46413209

While I was riding back from yet another Target run, I pushed a button on the radio in my car to a station I rarely listen to – MSNBC. I can’t even watch Rachel at night, not if I want to sleep. But I’d rather listen to music while driving, even Christmas music is preferable. Yesterday however I guess I needed a jolt of news. Good news.

The sound was strangely eerie, at first I thought the station must be having technical difficulties. But within a millisecond I was afraid these sounds were muffled gunshots, and I was listening to an active shooter in a mall someplace with a “Go Pro” camera on his head!

Turns out, it was only the sounds of President George HW Bush being laid to rest. The sounds of a talk show on silent.

I agree, he was maybe the last of the great white Republican presidents, a true statesman and WWII vet; and he knew how to get us out of a war and not just into one. Plus, I always loved his wife Babs and her homage to big, cultured pearls. But I was not about to spend hours of my time listening or watching his casket travel to DC.

I dragged in my Target haul, including a pair of Chewy slippers for the L’il Pumpkin, and started making dinner.

Hannukah always sneaks up on me, still coming right on the heels of Thanksgiving is pretty early. Last night’s dinner was a hodge-podge of leftovers that included meatloaf, olives, zucchini and pasta but at some point over the next week I’ll be making latkes! Actually this is a truly Southern holiday because anything fried is appropriate for Hannukah, including donuts!

On our first night of Hannukah we celebrated with friends over bowls of delicious chili and toppings. Our gracious friend’s art-filled home was humming with music and the lilting melody of small children. And although the Great Grands have apparently caught our colds and missed the festivities, we managed to Facetime with Ada for the candle lighting. Her voice had gone down a few octaves, like mine.

Like my spirits. After spending most of the weekend trying to design a holiday card on Shutterfly – that website needs a complete makeover btw – I started thinking that Mr T can indeed shoot a person in cold daylight and get away with it. My first reaction upon hearing of the death of a president was that this will be good for our current president. The media spotlight will pivot to funeral caravans and away from the mounting evidence of T’s Russian connections, of his blatant lies to the American people. That he has been compromised, bought and paid for by Putin.

I know this is the happiest of seasons, so forgive me for being blue today. My head cold is hanging on, and the temps have dropped from near 70 to near 30. I hope you’ve got your cards done, tree up and cookies baked! I hope you will still listen to Frank Loesser’s song about seduction in 1944. “I really can’t stay,” today I’ve got to buy some potatoes for the latkes!

It’s rumored that Mr T will not be allowed to speak at Mr Bush’s funeral…how much are you willing to bet that the gears of justice may just catch up to the presidential puppet-in-chief after the holidays? Would you bet all of your gelt?

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