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Does wisdom really come with age?

Or is it just another word, in a cacophony of Tweets by this President, meant to deflect our slow but steady march to impeachment? Bob has been saying for days that starting a war would win him the next election. But after trying to tarnish his front-runner, Joe Biden, and watching Bernie Sanders succumb to an MI, maybe Mr T thinks abandoning our allies in Syria will turn the tide.

After all, we’re not talking Ukraine today.

Today, my 92 year old neighbor and friend, Berdelle, will be meeting up with 95 year old President Jimmy Carter to jockey a nail gun with Habitat for Humanity. Sporting a black eye and 14 stitches from a recent fall, this ex-President has more wisdom in his little finger than the current inhabitant of the West Wing. He arrived in Nashville yesterday with the much-needed rain:

“Country music singer Eric Paslay performed “Deep as it is Wide,” a song he penned about the hope for something bigger and better than us.

“In a land full of songwriters and singers, we’re always trying to say I love you in a different way,” he (Carter) told the Habitat volunteers huddled under a white tent and sheltered from the morning’s storms. 

“… It’s amazing how Habitat shows love to the world. You can say I love you, but when you go out with your hands and your feet, that’s the strongest way. You don’t even have to say anything.'”  https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/10/08/president-jimmy-carter-nashville-habitat/2432826001/

Actions do speak louder than words. And my way of showing love to my family has always been with my cooking. Ever since the temperatures have started to fall, I’ve been making soup. There’s just something about a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove that says comfort food. Since I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, yesterday I made the Bride’s special Peanut Soup! Mostly it’s carrots, onions and sweet potatoes, with a kick of ginger and peanut butter.

Bob delivered said soup to Ms Berdelle while they were planning a Fall garden. I had never heard of a “Fall garden,” planting vegetables like kale in October. My past Yankee experience was limited to planting bulbs in the Fall. Wisdom comes with so many lessons; love is in the details. Like spreading seeds and plants throughout your urban neighborhood. Like getting up when you fall, and fulfilling a promise to build homes in Nashville.

This is what true leadership and wisdom looks like.

Hands building homes instead of typing off Twitter tirades. I mean, if the Lords of Twitter can block you for hate speech, or trolling a celebrity, or showing your breasts, then why can’t our Golfer-in-Chief be blocked for spreading lies? He’s threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy, while polling for impeachment climbs to 58%. I was wondering what might convince his Republican comrades he’s run amuck.

The chaos Mr T’s Twitter feed has created is unmatched in history. I prefer to chop up the holy trinity of onions, celery and carrots for a soup base, and maybe add fresh sage for wisdom.

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Here in the South, summer slinks away slowly. Kids start school mid-August, giving us the impression that something is about to change, but we still have 90+ degree days in September. Sure it might be near 70 in the morning, and less humid, just to throw us off our game. Believe me – the sun is still scorching hot and the pollens are still burning my eyes.

The Bride and I bid summer adieu by attending my very first Drag Brunch over Labor Day weekend. This was a first for me and I loved it! I got kissed by 3 Drag Queens! One time because I picked up all the money that inadvertently flew across the floor as she twirled away from our table; one time because it was my very own hair stylist who I love and adore; and I’m not sure why the third kiss landed on my cheek!

Did you know there’s a bit of controversy over at RuPaul’s DragCon? Last year he insisted that men transitioning to women would not be allowed to compete, which created quite an uproar. They would of course have an unfair advantage – not shaving their face, not wearing fake breasts! But RuPaul has reversed course and allowed Transgender Drag Queens like Gia Gunn to join the fun saying, “In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. And that will never change.”

If you too love a Drag Queen, like The Britney Banks, or have a friend or family member in the LGBTQ community, you may want to pray for the Notorious RBG to stay healthy, and pay attention to the cases on the SCOTUS Fall calendar!

The Supremes will be returning to DC to hear some major case law. One of the biggest issues going up before SCOTUS will be if Americans can fire their employees for being Gay; for their sexual preference OR sexual identity. The Equality Bill has been stalled in the House like this damn hurricane. If you didn’t know, Taylor Swift schooled the nation about LGBTQ rights last month with her latest album “Lover.” She knew this could Dixie Chicks her career, but she had to let her fans know where she stood.

Kellyanne Conway tried to put Swift in her place, saying: “I would love to survey the [award show] audience if they know what the Equality Act even is and isn’t,” she said in a Fox News interview that included an attempt to sing a few lines from Swift’s You Need to Calm Down. “But she’s welcome to her opinion. I can tell you, there’s a lot of poison pills in it.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48916181

First of all, putting people down, like Swift’s fans, as ignorant is par for the course of GOP strategists. Here are 3 “Poison Pills” for all those conservatives hanging their hopes on religious (insert any mythical philosophy here) freedom in order to deny our fellow citizens their human rights: https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-supreme-court-discrimination-cases-that-could-change-lgbtq-rights

  1. Carter Brown was harassed and fired from his job in TEXAS for being Trans:

I earned three promotions in two years, enabling me to purchase my very first home. These visual markers of success were proof that the American Dream had not eluded me, but that it was clutched firmly in my hand.” – Carter Brown #EqualityAct#HR5

“I arrived to work and discovered that a coworker had outed me as a trans man. Everything around me shattered…I was the subject of cruel office gossip & forced to endure invasive & offensive questioning from colleagues on the subject of my identity. – Carter Brown #EqualityAct via Twitter

2. Donald Zarda was fired from his job teaching skydiving in NEW YORK for being Gay. He tried to console a woman he was tandem jumping with, he tried to ease her fear by revealing he was Gay, to make light of their being in such close proximity… she reported him to his employers.

3. Aimee Stephens came out as Transgender to the owner of the funeral home where she was the director. She had been coming to work as a man and living the rest of her life as a woman. She considered suicide, but wrote a letter to her boss stating her desire to dress like a woman at work instead of leading a double life. She was fired in MICHIGAN.

Watching the Ellen Show gives us a false sense of hope and security. People are being fired in America for their sexual orientation. I don’t think it’s the Trumpeteers who need to calm down. It’s the vast majority of us who believe that Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights are Human Rights who need to get riled UP! We need to #FlipTheSenate in 2020.

If RuPaul could figure it out so quickly, maybe Mitch can be a Bitch? So Long summer!

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It was almost 2 am, my mind was a jumble of raw nerve endings. I tried to concentrate on my breath, to meditate my way back to sleep, but I ended up instead tracing the alphabet with my feet. Ankle exercises can be comforting. Then it suddenly got very dark. tomb-like-dark. And it was quiet, no house humming quiet. I wondered if it was just that Bob’s phone stopped lighting up. He had returned from a trip to FL, visiting his brother. But the alarm clock was black; our power was out.

Today it’s supposed to creep up toward 100 degrees, one of the hottest days of the year.

So what did I do? I woke Bob of course, after all maybe it was just a fuse that needed to switch. But it was the whole street, all the street lamps were out, thousands of people without power.

Are you a midnight wanderer? Do you raid the refrigerator at night, or watch TV when you can’t sleep? I’m a Reader with a capital R. So after 2 hours of mingling our feet and talking by flashlight, commiserating about our old whole house generator in the mountains, when the power finally came back on I picked up a National Geographic magazine about Migration.

It was like a crash course in “How Not to be a White Supremacist!” Because 1) tracing DNA has become so affordable, and 2) some tiny, miniscule bone in our inner ear that is the most dense bone in our body has been storing all of our primitive ancestors’ secrets since the Ice Age, therefore 3) anthropologists have been able to trace the Three Great Human Migrations!

“Who Were the First Europeans?” by Andrew Curry is in this month’s issue A WORLD ON THE MOVE. “Europeans living today, in whatever country, are a varying mix of ancient bloodlines hailing from Africa, the Middle East, and the Russian Steppe.” In other words neo-Nazis, get over yourselves and your replacement theory. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/07/first-europeans-immigrants-genetic-testing-feature/

We are all descendants of farmers who tolerated nomads (hunter/gatherers) and then rode horses across continents as plague almost decimated our species. That’s a pretty small nutshell, but some people were dark with green eyes, and some were light with brown eyes and somehow we managed to survive, together. Last night:

I was worrying about the Love Bug who starts 2nd Grade today. We spent the afternoon together and she had a fever, an ear infection, would her parents send her to school?

I was worrying about Great Grandma Ada, because she worries about me all the time so I thought I’d return the favor.

I was worrying about children separated from their parents because I was separated from my Mother the Flapper when I was 10 months old.

This morning I was surprised by how low the Trump administration could go, though I really shouldn’t have been. He is changing the rules and regulations for LEGAL immigrants to obtain a green card, making it more difficult to obtain visas or become citizens. Why you may ask? If a person has relied on any form of public assistance for more than ONE year, they will be invited to leave! The article was hiding inside the BBC News website. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49323610

This bears repeating – LEGAL Immigrants who do not meet the GOP’s rules of “self-sufficiency” will be deported. So legal immigrants working part-time at Walmart will have to go if they rely on food aid or public housing….

I didn’t go to this year’s East Nashville Tomato Festival because Bob wasn’t here, but also because I’m becoming afraid of crowds. What keeps you up in the middle of the night?

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Who’d ever think these 2 old hippies (the name of a great store in the Gulch btw) would transplant themselves so seamlessly further south and inland to Tennessee? Despite the lack of a beach, Bob and I are continually amazed by the welcoming people, gastronomic delights, and literary events.

Just this past weekend our streets were closed to traffic so people could stroll through Germantown to the Buchanan Arts District – “We have everyone walking, biking and dancing,” said Nora Kern, the executive director of Walk Bike Nashville, “whatever they want to do in the street, they can do it.”

Whoops, did I forget the music?

Tonight I’ll be visiting my favorite bookstore in Green Hills to hear the author of “My Sister the Serial Killer” talk with the author Ann Patchett. An immigrant to the UK via Nigeria, Oyinkyn Braithwaite’s debut novel has been longlisted for the Booker Prize! When one sister is a nurse and the other becomes rather murderous, chaos and charm commence!

There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction — on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy — there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/books/review-my-sister-serial-killer-oyinkan-braithwaite.html

I’ve finished “City of Girls” and am on to “Mostly Dead Things.” For all my book loving readers, may I invite you to follow Parnassus Bookstore’s blog “Musing” about books, https://parnassusmusing.net/

And if you missed this little headline recently, this tidbit of local Nashville news, you could be forgiven. It happened in Hermitage – a group of neighbors surrounded a car during our deadly heatwave to provide gas, water and food for hours to the father and 12 year old son inside; they were being badgered and interrogated by ICE agents who came to collect them with the wrong warrant!

These same neighbors formed a human chain for them, so they could return to their home where the ICE agents were not allowed to enter or evict them! https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/07/22/nashville-neighborhood-responds-ice-agents/1796453001/

Is this not humanity’s first imperative? A tenet of Christian teaching, to help your neighbor? To be empathetic? Certainly not to separate families and then “bear false witness,” by denying our government is creating concentration camps at our border. I was separated from my family at the age of ten months, not by ICE but by a set of circumstances culminating in an automobile accident on the Fourth of July 1949.

My foster parents were my parents’ neighbors and friends. They surrounded me with unconditional love and acceptance. The children lucky enough to have been reunited with their parents today are still suffering mental anguish. They have become detached as a response, and show high levels of anxiety and depression. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/31/us/migrant-children-separation-anxiety.html

Mr T’s America is not my America.

My America embraces the refugee; it doesn’t send youth ministries to Latin America on “Mission Trips,” only to reject refugee children trying to cross our border for a better life. My America empowers women to make their own reproductive health care decisions; it doesn’t pass TRAP laws “protecting” a fetus they have NO intention of helping once it is born into poverty. My America passed an assault weapon ban once; it does not turn its back on children being gunned down at street fairs and in schools.

Our cousins were visiting from NY, here is our family at Nashville’s Farmer’s Market. Should I have been thinking of a fast exit, just in case a shooter walked in? Which two of us would push the wheelchairs, who would carry a child?

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Yesterday, Bob attended a zoning board meeting.

Over the years, I’ve attended my fair share of borough council, school board, and zoning meetings as a reporter, taking copious notes and trying hard not to fall asleep on a hard wooden bench, the kind most civil servants prefer. So I opted out of going with Bob and our neighbor Berdelle, even though this was a mid-afternoon meeting and chances were good I’d be wide awake.

It seems yet another company would like a variance in the number of parking spots required for a bar.

We live in a mixed-use, historic neighborhood in Downtown Nashville. Monstrous building cranes do battle every day (not the bird-variety), and explosions pierce the landscape rippling through limestone bedrock. We are about to get thousands of new jobs downtown thanks to the Amazon Empire. Being a most popular city is a blessing and a curse. Small shacks are selling for half a million dollars, only to be demolished and replaced by two “tall skinny” houses on one lot. Tall apartment buildings are rising quickly along, dwarfing smaller homes like ours,  and real estate prices are still climbing.

So it’s no wonder that regular people cannot afford to live here. The large, stately, historic Victorian brick homes sell for more than a million dollars and are being snatched up by LLCs – lawyers, dentists, shops and restaurants mingle closely with residential properties. Pretty soon our riverfront is going to be developed, and traffic lights just might find their way onto our streets, instead of the comforting four-way-stop sign.

But back to yesterday. According to our metro government zoning code, bars must have one parking spot per 75 sq ft! This particular big, brick building was 3657 sq ft last year, but the proposed bar reduced it to a smaller size requiring 36 parking spaces! Out in the back is a tiny residential slab for parking maybe 3 cars!

The lawyer for the bar thinks that street parking, and a paid parking lot a block away will magically make up for their lack of spots. The zoning board tabled their request thanks to Bob and our neighbors showing up.

Another local bugaboo has been tabled recently; Mayor Briley’s idea to install a bunch of parking meters downtown. This was the Tennessean’s take on the matter:

“Nashville is in a rush to secure a deal to outsource its public parking.The solicitation for proposals from private companies to take over its on-street parking operations asks for $30 million up front to take over the city’s work.

The winning bidder — which would also pay the city its current net revenue parking of $1.5 million — would manage the city’s parking spaces, issue tickets, collect fines and issue permits for valet parking, loading zones and street parking permits in residential areas. It would be a 30-year deal.”

I wonder where Bob and I will park ourselves in the next 30 years? After all, Great Grandma Ada is turning 95 next week and she’ll be the first to tell you she never saw herself living in TN! Will we eventually find a beach house? Stay tuned to our adventure in aging and fighting for residential parking permits! Here I am in front of the old slaughterhouse by the river which will soon become condos.

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Things are heating up here in Nashville. Literally. Temps are headed into the 90s this week, and Bob got the gas fire pit to work just in time for summer. Naturally I decided to make my famous not-too-spicy-turkey-veggie chili last night; always a good way to get rid of all the remaining vegetables lurking in the fridge, including some parsnips that were sprouting greenery.

On Sunday our little neighborhood had its annual “Sip and Stroll” garden guzzle! Basically it’s a good excuse to drink with your friends and neighbors whilst walking around outside. A truck leads the way to 5 gardens with wine and beer on tap! Last year we had a blast, so I packed up my insulated summer wine goblet and headed east. The magnolias are in bloom, redbuds are leafing out and flowers were everywhere – lucky for us, when the rain finally exploded, we could take cover inside an open garage.

My 92 year old neighbor Berdelle’s son was in town for another outdoor lesson in T’ai Chi on Saturday. I loved practicing under the trees in her secret garden with 7 other women, listening to the haunting sound of a train whistle among the bird songs. It transports you to another time and place. I remembered all my attempts at gardening; my border of rosa rugosa in Rumson, my feeble plot to plant fig trees in Charlottesville just so the deer could enjoy them.

This morning is T’ai Chi at the Y and I’ll ask Berdelle if she’d like to attend a rally right after our class downtown to support Planned Parenthood. Maybe we will laugh about the “great” state of Alabama because in the darkest time we must find humor. AL has added insult to injury today – not only did it pass the most restrictive anti-choice bill in decades, its public television station has refused to air a cartoon episode of an anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur! Why?

Because Arthur marries his same-sex partner. Oh the humanity!

The Bride’s friend Tamara from Duke wrote an excellent article about her abortion, or involuntary miscarriage, years ago that still rings true. I double dare any anti-choice person to read it! https://www.huffpost.com/entry/heartbeat-involuntary-miscarriage-and-voluntary-abortion-in-ohio_b_2050888

Ultimately, these TRAP laws and heartbeat bills are incremental infringements on our constitutional rights as Americans. They are lead by far-Right zealots who would like us to follow their own brand of religion, which tells them that marriage is between a man and a woman and that life begins in the womb, with no exceptions.

Not even when a fetus has no brain tissue and would never survive after birth, not even if a child is raped… They really need to stop legislating a woman’s uterus! Our First Amendment guarantees our freedom from religious tyranny, of any kind. That’s why our ancestors immigrated to this country.

So I’ll put on my big girl boots and march again this morning for #StoptheBans after T’ai Chi, I’ll donate to Planned Parenthood, and maybe I’ll break out my insulated wine goblet too. I’ll carry a sign and chant a chant. I’ll stop to smell the gardenias and keep fighting as if my grand daughter’s life depends on it. She’s got the bees knees!

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This was not your burn-your-bra-along-with-your-draft-card kind of weekend, then head for Canada. No.

This was the biggest single thing to hit Nashville since the advent of Country Music Awards. The NFL Draft on Broadway not only sacrificed some of our cherry trees, it drew overall 600,000 football fans across three days to the Honky Tonks, who spent well over $100M on merch, booze and housing. That’s a lot of cowboy boots!

And to round off the festivities, the Rock and Roll Marathon saw 30,000 runners sprinting up Rosa Parks Blvd, followed by Parrot Heads that evening at the Bridgestone Arena. It was a perfect storm sort of Spring awakening for this city and I was glad the Bride only worked the first night; with rain dampening the Draft, her ER shift went smoothly – one scooter injury here, one drinking injury there…

Then she and her family did what most natives and transplants alike did, they flew the coop. It was the first camping experience for the Grands and they loved it, scary stories and all.  A great way to dodge the Draft!

It wasn’t quite that simple for us because I got a severe case of the stomach flu. My daughter tells me it’s going around, which doesn’t help much. It knocked me out for 3 full days and nights, just when we were going to tackle all the boxes we’d shoved into all our closets so we could hold a Seder like Alice’s Restaurant; you know Arlo’s song, where you could get anything you want, except bread of course, there were no baguettes to be found, only matzoh.

(Here I could digress about how we used to attend Torah study in the Berkshires with Arlo Guthrie, but I won’t 🙂

My brother, Dr Jim, tells me that the Draft used to be a bunch of old, white guys sitting behind a big white curtain that would open to reveal all the new college picks in about an hour in each NFL city. Open and shut. That was back in the roaring 80s, when my brother Mike was President and General Manager of the MN Vikings. Today, from what I could gather between bouts of nausea, the Draft looks like Hasty Pudding skits put on by grown men. Guys dressed like Cardinals, or gunslingers, parading through the streets re-enacting some arcane tribal ritual. I didn’t get it.

But the team owners still charged fans 20 bucks back home, just to sit in their stadiums and watch the Nashville Draft on a jumbotron. So, you could dress up like a Patriot and stay in Foxboro, MA. Maybe I do get it.

As Passover was ending, another mass shooting was happening at a Chabad in Southern California. A research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center has this to say:

“ ‘We’ve started referring to them as the apocalyptic community, these online groupings that are marked by a sense of urgency’ about the perceived threat to white dominance.”

Lori Gilbert Kaye is the name of the woman who was shot protecting her rabbi from a nineteen year old with a gun. The rabbi insists it was a miracle that the terrorist’s gun jammed, preventing more from being slaughtered.  A border patrol agent who had recently discovered he wasn’t really Italian (a family joke) gave chase. The young killer surrendered to the police, wonder of wonder.

We can only imagine what would have happened to him if he was Black.

We can talk as much as we want about apocalyptic hate groups being radicalized online, but you cannot ignore the facts – New Zealand just banned assault rifles after 50 people were murdered in a mosque.

It’s time we Americans stopped dodging the truth. Stopped re-enacting Gunsmoke while our sons and daughters are actually martyred in places of worship, schools, theaters and malls. Our landscape has become a battlefield and our elected officials have no moral courage.

This was our Seder table, where we opened our door for Elijah.

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