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Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

I hope this will be my last move.

I wasn’t destined to live in the same community for 50 years, surrounded by friends and family, secure behind a picket fence; a well-known, semi-serious journalist and Hadassah “macher.” Macher is a Yiddish word, a noun:

“Someone who arranges, fixes, has connections…someone who is [very] active in an organization” (Rosten) “important person”, “hot shot.”

n. Somebody who is successful, handy, dextrous.

https://jel.jewish-languages.org/words/325

I’ve always felt a sort of underlying derision whenever someone calls someone else a macher. But maybe that’s just me?

I guess the moment my foster parents picked me up – during our Year of Living Dangerously, with the Flapper in surgery and my big sister Kay in a coma – and brought me to Victory Gardens, my fate was sealed. I would be a little gypsy, traveling over the Delaware Water Gap, between NJ and PA. Uprooted at every turn.

I told myself I was happy to have two mothers, one warm and comforting, the other beautiful and mysterious. I was lucky to have two birthday celebrations, two Christmases, and two homes. Pulled between one set of siblings, half siblings and step-siblings and being an only child. I secretly longed to just stay put.

Now I know that longing for something you’ve never had can be a recipe for a depressive disorder. So instead I try to stay present. I’ve chosen to accept our nomadic existence, after all I married an Emergency Physician. Once he’d roll into an ER and fix it, he’d want a new challenge. I always told the kiddos their Dad wrote the book on Emergency Management, and he did!

Yesterday I asked Bob, “How many bathing suits does one woman need?” And like a good manager, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “That depends.”

Sorting and packing is different this time around. There are the clothes I’ll never fit into again, the clothes I’ll never wear again, and everything else. Pandemic fashion has turned out to be comfortable cotton yoga wear I bought at Whole Foods, along with an occasional Eileen Fisher piece on sale, online. Of course I’ll keep these things, and my boots and fancy shoes that stand watch in my closet, hoping I’ll need them again.

But why am I packing so many small rocks? One is from Ireland, and one is for our old neighbor’s dog Hodor, one is a crystal and one is a geode, and……..

Forgive my absence, but during this move I’ll be posting only once a week, on Mondays. By next Monday we’ll be in our new home – all one level with a big backyard. Bob designed the master bath for us to Age-in-Place. My beautiful master closet will be installed next month and the kitchen countertops are delayed because of a mix-up with the center island. No kitchen sink, no backsplash, so we’ll use Uber Eats for awhile.

One learns to pivot when you’ve moved as much as we have. And one learns that home can be a haven when it’s filled with the people you love.

Wish us luck!

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When I bought a chunk of land in Virginia, before Bob even got a chance to see it, friends thought I was crazy. But we’d been looking for a house for over a year and had finally decided to build our own Big/Little Home; so I trudged through a small forest at the edge of Albemarle County to see the Blue Ridge Mountains appear magically through the trees. I knew this was it. This was the place my dreams would come true.

When I brought Great Grandma Ada to see the 14 acres of wilderness her daughter-in-law had talked her son into buying, she kept looking down. She was picking up rocks and pointing out the flora. I had to coax her to look up and out at the mountains. She never really understood why we left NJ, and frankly I’m not sure either.

But with the grace of time, I realize now she was focused on the ground because she just didn’t want to fall. I look down a lot these days too.

Bob and I spent New Year’s Eve on the couch watching “Don’t Look Up!” on Netflix. I had no idea what it was about, and at first was pissed that Meryl Streep was smoking cigarettes as POTUS. I know she’s one of kind, but really? Slowly its true meaning became clear… the world is about to end, from (name your catastrophic event, a virus maybe, or climate change, or a meteor) and nobody cares. Politicians care about their polls, and the rest of us? We just ignore the inevitable and watch stupid animal videos. It’s an accurate allegory for our distracted, divided times.

“Two astronomers go on a media tour to warn humankind of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth. The response from a distracted world: Meh.”

https://www.netflix.com/title/81252357

Now for the backstory. We’d just finished watching the Grands while the Bride and Groom went into battle every day at their hospitals in full PPE gear. Covid was back with a vengeance thanks to a surge of Omicron variant. Every night I watched as my daughter returned home, not to hugs and kisses, not before she showered and washed her hair. I could feel her pain, her exhaustion. I never saw the Groom, he was gone from 6 am to 9 at night, and then taking calls through the wee hours.

And I’d just finished reading Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny’s new book, “State of Terror.” It was their first collaboration and I hope it won’t be their last. Let’s just say the ex-president in State of Terror bears a striking resemblance to a certain twice-impeached Palm Beach resident. And yes, this book is fictional, but the geo-political thriller is a little too close for comfort. When I closed the final chapter, I couldn’t close my eyes.

We threw open our garden door on New Year’s Eve to hear country music float up from the Bicentennial Mall where the Nashville note would drop. People were standing shoulder to shoulder, unmasked, as if they were living in an alternate universe. Bars were open. A friend texted me – her hairdresser is moving to TN from NY, why? Because she wants to get away from Covid restrictions.

Needless to say, this was NOT an auspicious start to 2022. Comedians do riffs on toilet paper cozies and nobody seems to mind. Children have gone back to remote learning, leaving me to wonder how our mental health system will cope with these future teenagers. I’m thinking about strapping a sign board on myself with these words, “THE END IS NEAR” and walking down Broadway. Really.

Whatever you do, DO look up!

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While the drum-up to Christmas and a New Year continues, I thought I’d share my thoughts on filling this school vacation with a little fun. Since the Bride always works on Christmas, and a few days after, and the Groom will be busy in the Medical ICU, Bob and I will be on deck with the Grands. We split our time with the other set of Grandparents who are arriving today.

At first I thought, ‘YAY, now that the children are vaccinated, we can go ice skating/movie watching/golf swinging!’ Or maybe even honky-tonking!

But then my better angel prevailed. I discovered an English website entirely devoted to folklore! And activities that include magic and fairies fall right within my wheelhouse! https://folklorethursday.com/childlore/top-10-fun-folklore-activities-children-grown-ups/

With that in mind, and some local lore thrown in, here are my top seven:

  1. Animal Stories. Look to Aesop’s Fables, or make up an animal story of your own. Get all comfy with some hot chocolate, and read aloud. Follow-up with questions and ask your children to draw the story. We plan on giving our Grands an animal to adopt at the Nashville Zoo, they get to read all about it, follow its adventures, and also receive a stuffed version of said animal. https://www.nashvillezoo.org/adopt
  2. Go For a Hike. You may remember that one year we made a fairy house with Great Grandma Ada. On this stroll, to a park or wilderness area, look for a fairy trail! A clearing with mushrooms (their chairs) may appear; collect feathers which are fairy brooms; and look for cobwebs. Did you know that fairies teach spiders how to sew them? I’ve been known to create dream catchers out of found feathers!
  3. Dig Into Hogwarts. Are your children into Harry Potter? Despite JK Rowlings recent controversy over LGBTQ rights, we plan on taking the kiddos to California next year to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Their Uncle and Aunt Kiki already have tickets so Omicron better be done. Did you know that the “…screaming mandrakes grown by students at Hogwarts are based on the real-life mandrake plant that has long been associated with medicinal magic?” 
  4. Baking. Create a tradition by baking something that is unique to your family. So not the usual Christmas cookies, unless you have a specialty of course. I have a plan to try baking the Flapper’s “Boiled Cake.” This is a recipe from the Great Depression when yeast, butter and flour were being rationed, so you can also throw in a little history lesson too.
  5. Take a Cruise on the Cumberland River. The showboat General Jackson has midday departures from the Grand Ole Opry to a round of applause! It may be a bit pricey, but the singing and dancing is everything FUN for ages 4 to 94! It’s a “…downhome showband of pickers, fiddlers, and singers will be performing heart-warming versions of Christmas favorites by Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Elvis Presley, Rascal Flatts, and more!”  https://generaljackson.com/
  6. Livestream a Magic Show. The Nashville Public Library has an amazing website called Kids Out and About with loads of free things to do with your children and grandchildren. Check out your library and sign up! On December 27 at 2 pm Eastern, WonderPhil will be presenting a magic show. Unfortunately it looks like it’s only through Facebook, but hey, maybe Facebook isn’t so evil after all? https://nashville.kidsoutandabout.com/content/livestream-magic-show
  7. Explain the Calendar. We gave our Littles calendars for one night of Chanukah this year – a Star Wars version for the Pumpkin and an origami desk calendar for the Bug. I heard that a certain little redhead wasn’t sure what it was, so now is a perfect time to dig deeper into customs that appear on calendars. For example, The Winter Solstice is happening tomorrow, that’s a good pagan way to start the day! And what exactly is Boxing Day?

So Merry Christmas to All and may your school vacation be filled with Joy and not too many action/adventure/activities this year. It’s best to relax and rest and keep a little of that lockdown mentality intact for everyone.

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My Catholic school background leaves me baffled.

Memories come and go, but feelings remain and for me, boredom was predominant. Memorizing prayers and counting bricks in the building across the street filled my days, punctuated by feelings of humiliation. Nuns stood guard over desks with arms folded under their cassocks. They were prepared to smack a ruler behind a girl’s knee for chewing gum, or pull the small hairs at the back of a boy’s head for launching paper airplanes. Once I had to stand in a corner, with my back to the class, for speaking to a boy.

It’s no wonder when the time came to pick out my very own saint’s name for Confirmation, I chose Dolores – Our Lady of Sorrows, patron saint of the suffering.

But this isn’t a story about me… This week Bob, my newly-discovered-retired MD-social butterfly, attended a ceremony outside Germantown’s Catholic Church to dedicate its newly restored steeple. The Assumption Church, built in 1845, was severely damaged during the March 2020 tornado; it lost many stained glass windows and roofs and needed major structural repairs. Since then, every time I drive by the church and the rectory, I’m struck by another glittery new copper gutter or roofline.

Finally the repairs have been completed! Rising many stories above the red brick, Southern Victorian homes of our neighborhood, the steeple was replaced to the sound of cheers and bagpipes. Most surprising to Bob, everybody got down on their knees in the street to pray!

“The steeple exists to point to God to remind us, you know, God is in his heavens. And then really the purpose of a steeple is to support a cross. And the cross now is going back up over Germantown and so that for us is very important.”

https://www.newschannel5.com/news/a-symbol-of-hope-nashville-catholic-church-restores-steeple-after-tornadoes

“Do you know anything about relics?” Bob asked me when he returned.

I tried to look knowledgable. “Sure,” I said. “It’s like a toenail of a saint.” Of course it might be a piece of cloth the saint actually wore too. Then Bob was happy to report that there is a third level of reliquary – something the saint touched!

“Like the bed Washington may have slept in?” I chimed.

It turns out that the cross that was hoisted above the church’s new steeple holds a First Class relic from St Roch! It’s a piece of his bone! Now if that didn’t get my old Catholic juices churning. I’d never heard of this Roch, and so some digging googling was required. Born in Montpelier, France (1348 – 1379), St Roch is the patron Saint of many things, but first and foremost it’s PLAGUES!!!

The story goes that he was born into money, the son of a governor, but set out for Rome as a poor confessor during an epidemic of the Bubonic Plague. Supposedly, he would make the sign of the cross over people suffering and they would miraculously recover. He survived the “Black Death” himself and went into prisons and public hospitals to minister to the sick; Roch was known to casually lift his pants leg up to show his scarred “buboes.” Which is why some of his statues look vaguely naughty…

And even though Roch is also the patron of dogs and Single Men, I refuse to think the worst! Just as we are ready to bid adieu to Covid, Omicron sweeps in during this festive season. Just as our children and Grands are being vaccinated, we are warned of a January surge in cases and deaths. I don’t know about you, but if praying to a piece of bone in a cross up the street might help end this pandemic, I’m all in.

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This week it seems like some of the all encompassing pandemic air is being released.

Maybe it’s because the Grands have had their first Pfizer shot. Maybe it’s because the numbers in Davidson County are trending down; the community prevalence of new Covid cases is 11.8 per 100,000 with 63% vaccinated! Not too shabby for our Blue dot in a Republican state. Before Bob and I leave the house, we think twice about masking up. Will we be going inside a large public space with lots of people? If so, I sling my happy mask lariat around my neck. But more and more, we are leaving the masks at home.

Our annual doctor visit was scheduled this week, instead of a remote consultation we actually drove to Vanderbilt for a face to face, the first time in two years. Masks were required in the hospital of course. Instead of a stylish pair of boots and long white coat, my wonderful GP was wearing scrubs. She had contracted coronavirus from a patient and had been very sick last year. Like the Bride and Groom, she must shower and decontaminate after every shift to protect her family, so scrubs it was.

I remembered the three words! Now we have to schedule blood work, and a mammogram. Just as the weather is shifting, we need to venture out more and more.

The highpoint of our outings was having dinner with a group of neighborhood friends INSIDE at a newly reopened local restaurant! The tornado that preceded the pandemic had demolished this iconic eatery, and they were finally having a last minute “soft” opening. I wrapped myself in a long puffy coat and we walked there in the dark, turning the corner to see party lights and hear the sound of laughter and bonhamie!

This must have been what it was like for the Flapper going to a speakeasy.

A waiter smuggled our little group into a private area, away from the bar and the noise. It was so so good, sharing food and drinks and stories, getting caught up, making plans for the future. Our masks were down, it was almost “normal.”

But I made the mistake of staying home the next morning and watching the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. It’s happening at the same time as the Ahmaud Arbery trial. Did you ever wonder why one trial is named after the armed murderer, and the other is named after the shooting victim, the man who was ambushed by a father and son. Do you wonder why one jury is not allowed to see a prior video of Rittenhouse outside a CVS talking about how he wished he had his gun so he could kill shoplifters…

While the other jury gets to see a prior video of an unarmed man, Arbery, walking through a home construction site?

This is a prime time lesson on institutional racism. If you are a Black man in this society, you must think three or four times before venturing outside for a jog, a walk, or a ride in your car. Because in some parts of this country, young white boys sling their AR 15s over their shoulders and drive with impunity across state lines to “defend” used car lots, because cars must matter more than people.

Objects in the rear view mirror

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In Norway yesterday, a guy picked up a high-powered bow and arrow and started shooting people inside a supermarket. Four women and one man were killed, several more were injured.

In England today, David Amess, a conservative Parliament member, was stabbed several times by one of his constituents in a church. The world news media would like to look for a reason, what prompted these men to run amok?

Just imagine if they had access to assault rifles for a minute.

Because in my humble opinion, and I’ve said this before, GUNS are a uniquely American problem. Crazy isn’t at all unique – the percentage of people who hear voices telling them to do harm is most likely similar across the planet. Most people, when they are fired from a job, quietly pack their belongings in a box and stroll out the door. A very small percentage might think to walk back in with a weapon… and an even smaller number might do just that, if they owned or could easily steal a gun. And in America, gun sales are booming!

Just this year, two Kindergarteners in Florida found a loaded handgun in their back packs!

“The 26-year-old mother had placed the case and loaded handgun in her son’s backpack while cleaningouther car the night before, she told police, but then forgot to remove it before he went to school. Now, Carroll faces a second-degree misdemeanor charge for allegedly failing to store the weapon in a secured locked box, allowing a minor access to the firearm, court records state.She is also facing a second charge for missing an October court appearance.

The incident is at least the second recent case of a Florida child finding a loaded weapon in a backpack. Earlier this week, a Florida father was arrested after his son fatally shot his mother during a Zoom call with her co-workers. Prosecutors said the toddler found the gun inside a “Paw Patrol” backpack at the family’s home in Altamonte Springs.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/15/florida-mom-charged-placing-gun-kindergartner-backpack/

OK, you might say well, that’s Florida. But it’s not – it’s two Nashville teenagers being tried as adults for gunning down a musician in East Nashville outside his home. It’s a father shot dead in his car over a road rage incident outside of town. It’s a 16 year old girl killed in South Nashville when she and her cousin found themselves “in a dispute” with several young men. What if they had just thrown a few punches and walked away?

Well, our great Volunteer State is in the news once again. And no, not for arresting children and sending them to jail because they simply watched two kids fighting without intervening. And not for that big hair pastor who died in a small plane crash near Franklin, TN after making millions selling her faith-based-diet-scheme.

Nope. The preeminent gun manufacturer in the world is relocating to Tennessee! Gov Lee must be so proud for bringing new jobs to the area.

“Smith & Wesson, which has been making firearms since before the Civil War, said Thursday it will move its headquarters to Tennessee, after legislators in its home state of Massachusetts proposed gun control laws that the company said could hurt 60 percent of revenue.The decision to relocate from Springfield, Mass., coupled with the closure of some facilities in Connecticut and Missouri, means that more than 750 jobs will be moved to Maryville, Tenn., the company said in a statement to investors. Smith & Wesson has been based in Springfield since 1852.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/01/smith-wesson-moving-maryville-tennessee/

We Americans are dying: – we’re dying from gun violence because our Second Amendment said we can. We’re dying from Covid because our First Amendment lets us speak whatever nonsense we want to without repercussion. Because a certain ex-president started out with birther/racist rants, and ended embracing another Big Lie; and dragging nearly half of our republic with him.

Our democracy is dying when the Congress’ January 6 committee cannot or will not enforce a subpoena. Our so-called “freedom” – to threaten school board members, to carry permit-less handguns, to ignore public health warnings, and subpoenas – will be the death of us.

Just a dog in a fenced dog park

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My first text of the morning was from the Bride: “Breaking News!”

BREAKING NEWS! These two words flashing across any screen used to get my heart churning, but now I just wonder what else Niki Minaj’s best friend’s cousin is up to… but wait! It’s a New York Times article – our Grands just may be vaccinated by Halloween.

“The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine in these children.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/health/covid-children-vaccine-pfizer.html

What a joyous, rainy, overcast Monday. You see the Bride inherited her Father’s lungs, and kindly passed a little reactive airway disease down to the Pumpkin, who’s not so little anymore. As a baby, he would get rushed into a shower with croup late at night. It’s almost like having asthma; during allergy season he may need to use an inhaler. With children’s cases of Covid going up 250%, I was particularly worried about this little First Grader.

Bob and I decided to walk in our fancy, indoor mall yesterday after several days of rain. My medical consultant tells me I must keep moving after a fall, so we donned our Happy Masks and set out on an adventure. I’m just guessing, but probably less than 50% of shoppers were wearing masks. And each store had their own policy about masking hanging on their door. This is Nashville yes, but the rest of Tennessee helps keep our Covid numbers up; Tennessee is Number ONE in the nation for new Covid cases!

I keep wearing a mask indoors not because I’m afraid of getting sick. After two jabs of Moderna, I could easily not know I was infected, or be asymptomatic, and unknowingly pass the virus to a friend or loved one. I keep wearing my mask so that I can still hug my Grandchildren.

I keep wearing a mask indoors and don’t understand people walking through a mall with young children all unmasked.

I’ll keep wearing a mask indoors just as long as my daughter tells me to, along with my other medical consultant who will keep reminding me to bring a mask with me wherever we go. Bob has successfully passed his Emergency Medicine Boards this month, HOORAY!!! (docs have to re-certify every so many years). Hope reigns supreme at my city farmhouse. Maybe he’ll start doing remote medicine? Or Urgent Care? Or something medical?

Yesterday as we sat outside a cafe in the mall, Bob told me he’d been doing the math.

One out of every 200 people in this mall has Covid and doesn’t know it.”

It was not at all reassuring, but that’s why I love him. He will always tell me the truth and doesn’t mince words. He knows whether I broke a hip or not. He even does the dishes. He wants us to get booster shots soon, and our flu shots today!

I’m hopeful he’ll keep making sourdough bread and keep me laughing and walking and Covid-free for years to come. And I’m hopeful our Pumpkin and Bug and all the kids in that age range will stay safe for just another month or so.

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“This town is a make-you town
Or a break-you-town and bring-you-down town” ole Blue Eyes

Landing back in Nashville, we were assaulted by the humidity. After a week in LA, I almost forgot that dewy glow; the sticky, sweaty, summer ‘situation normal’ of living in the South. Bob and I wore Envo masks throughout the airport, mainly because we didn’t want to expose the Grands to Covid. The masks are like N95s, only a little more comfortable because the perimeter is rimmed with a soft gel that molds to your face. https://envomask.com/

Which was fine at LAX, but even our Envo masks were no match for the saturated, humid conditions of the Music City. My mask kept slipping and sliding down my nose!

I couldn’t help but notice another big difference – people actually wore their regular, cloth masks everywhere in California. There may have been 99.9% compliance inside buildings, and most wore their masks walking down the street too. Restaurants had set up outdoor dining in parking lots and on sidewalks. Gov Newsom even issued another order for mask wearing in large crowds just before we left!

Bob and I went to Whole Foods downtown last night and we guesstimated about 30% mask-compliance. At WHOLE FOODS… Oh, and all those dog walkers in our neighborhood? Not a masked face in sight, but neither are we masked outside, since we manage to stay six feet away from people. That social distance isn’t always possible in the streets of LA.

So, can we legislate moral responsibility?

It seems that the art world can – a museum in Texas is trying to hold onto an 18th Century Bernardo Bellotto painting, “Marketplace at Pirna,” that a Jewish German citizen, a department store magnate named Emden, had sold “under duress” in order to escape to Switzerland in the early 1930s.

“Juan Carlos Emden, the Chile-based grandson of Max Emden, said the family has been trying to recover “Marketplace at Pirna” for about 15 years. He said that in November 2011, a lawyer for the Houston Museum of Fine Arts wrote to a representative of the heirs threatening legal action if the family did not “immediately cease and desist” from contacting the museum and required all correspondence to be sent via its lawyer.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/17/arts/design/duress-bellotto-painting.html

Mr Emden originally sold three Bellotto paintings – two have been returned to his heirs by the German government, but the marketplace painting mistakenly landed in the Netherlands, and they sold it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. TX curators believe it was purchased in good faith. But the Edmen estate argues that “…Nazi-looted art determined that Emden was a victim of the “systematic destruction of people’s economic livelihoods by the Third Reich as a tool of National Socialist racial policy.

Should his heirs be punished simply because Edmen was smart enough to see the future demise of his country, and rich enough to leave Germany before war was declared? Were it not for the rise of Hitler, his heirs would still be German citizens and millions of Jews would have survived.

The legal SNAFU here is the question of what constitutes a “sale under duress?”

The Terezin Declaration was signed by the US and 46 other countries in 2009. It states that “Just and Fair” solutions must be applied to art that was confiscated or sold during the war; and Germany has extended this to mean works that were sold “under duress.” So is the moral criterion for a country different than it might be for a private institution like a museum?

And this is exactly how we find ourselves right in the middle of a military slang acronym – Situation Normal All F-ed Up! The term found its way into our speech during WWII, a soldier could satirize his life without offending his commanding officer.

And just like Afghanistan was a country full of warlords and mini-feifdoms before and after Russia left, and before we tried our luck 20 years ago, the US is a country divided into some states that mandate mask wearing and maybe even vaccines to attend public school, and other states, like TX that don’t. And TN too. Some states, like FL, will give your kids a voucher for a charter or private school if they are being bullied into wearing masks…

The Grands got some bad news. Their school was now requiring them to wear masks OUTSIDE, can you imagine? The Love Bug said: “That’s OK Mommy, we wear them outside anyway.” I’m pretty sure children are more altruistic than most adults these days.

Masks on lariats

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When you have no control whatsoever on the people at Publix who are choosing not to wear masks during this Delta surge, or the parents at a Williamson County School Board meeting, the wealthiest county in TN right outside of Nashville, verbally attacking a physician and calling him a “traitor.” Oh I’m sure you’ve seen that video by now.

“Even more disconcertingly, Tennessee journalist Matt Masters shot video after the meeting showing anti-mask demonstrators harassing doctors and nurses who had spoken in favor of the mask mandate as they tried to leave the parking lot. (The clip was later reposted on Twitter by Tennessean reporter Natalie Allison.)

“We know who you are. You can leave freely, but we will find you,” one man said, as police officers separated the crowd so the public health experts could drive away safely.”

https://www.vox.com/2021/8/11/22620254/williamson-county-school-board-meeting-franklin-tennessee-mask-mandate

Luckily the Bride wasn’t there. She was in an earlier Zoom call with other doctors that day, trying to persuade the elementary school board to mandate masks as it will save children’s lives. Imagine wanting to save a child’s life. That TV segment, on Fox news, aired one or two seconds of all the white coats on Zoom, with one doctor interviewed, followed by three angry, anti-mask parents being interviewed.

On the one hand, I’m proud of my physician activist daughter; on the other I’m worried about her safety.

When the world has just gotten so out of whack, the only thing to do is organize!

I used to bake when life threw me lemons. And I’m not a baker; I’d bake carrot cakes and banana bread. I’d deliver them to grieving widows, new moms, and the emergency department at Bob’s hospital. Anyone who needed a pick-me-up could count on my simple baking skills. I’ve also made pretty mean chocolate chip cookies in my day.

But lately, I’ve felt compelled to declutter, and the first place to start, of course, was the entry. But in this “open-concept” city farmhouse, the entry leads right into the living area and the kitchen. It wasn’t easy. The kitchen is a landmine of emotions. During the past year and a half, it has become the Pilates Zoom station, the mask-making sewing room and also the scene of Bob’s sourdough bread making experiments.

I must say that the only small appliance I was conflicted about letting go was my avocado green hand mixer from the 1960s.

It still works! But I hardly ever use the old green, steady Sunbeam. Is Sunbeam still in business? I always liked that name “Sunbeam.” There’s a part of me that loves greeting the sun flowing into my kitchen every morning and bathing my orchids and plants with light. It’s essential for my happiness to have sun beaming into my home!

But I told Bob I’d be willing to part with the mixer because it represents the “old me” – the Harvard Law School wife who met Julia Child in a grocery store. The girl who felt trapped in her first marriage, and bravely sought one of the first no-fault divorces in the country.

I still have a vintage, multi-colored Delft plate we bought on our honeymoon to Amsterdam hanging on the kitchen wall. My children can do whatever they want with it when I’m gone.

The wine rack has been replaced with an electric tea kettle. I don’t know why I’ve never had one before; maybe I was afraid it would be like a rice cooker or a George Forman grill – used a few times and tossed away. It feels good knowing where everything is in my kitchen, and being able to reach for the things I use frequently, easily. Taking a news sabbatical is also good for my health!

Today is the last day of Nana Camp! Our Grands start school next week, and yes their university school requires masks and they also require all their teachers be vaccinated. One tradition is we buy them new sneakers, which I ordered online unfortunately. The Love Bug is out of children and into a woman’s size! It’s a funny thing being the blue dot in a red state. But it’s remarkably calming to know my grandchildren will not be at risk while they play and learn with their friends at school.

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As soon as I ended the call with my son, I wanted to call Great Grandma Ada. The Rocker and Aunt KiKi are buying their first home in LA, a glorious mid-century with a view of the valley. No longer will the newlyweds have to work at opposite corners in their living room. The young child who always heard music in his head, has put down roots in the film industry. But in even better news, they had just received their second Moderna shot!

In two weeks they will be fully vaccinated…

I was filled with joy! My instinct was to immediately call Ada. I loved giving her good news about her grandchildren. She would “kvelle” (which means feeling happy and proud in Yiddish), she would say “poo poo poo” (which translates to not letting the evil spirits hear your good fortune). And best of all, her unbridled delight was contagious – she multiplied happiness for everyone within her circle.

And in a way, I did call her yesterday. I made small sandwiches to honor the Fifties Housewife she once was, I picked pink peonies for a gorgeous arrangement because she loved painting flowers, and I wrote about her devotion to knowledge and her career as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

With three of our Nashville friends, we memorialized our loved ones at the Cypress Tree Grove we’d planted in our local park. In 2020, Ellen lost her father, Yoko lost her mother and Rick lost his sister. With our neighbors and friends, AND with everyone vaccinated and mask-free on a sunny, balmy 78 degree Sunday, we listened to Finlandia, by composer Jean Sibelius, and spoke about our collective losses. Here is a snippet about Ada and me:

Years later, when she bumped into me again, she insisted I come back to her home to reconnect with her son, Bob. We married under a canopy of trees in that same office parking lot (outside of her home/office).  She swore she would always take my side, and she kept her promise. A woman of valor, one who was always giving and kind, we were lucky to have her for 96 years.

Yes, if Ada didn’t drag me into her son’s room at the hospital after our chance meeting in an elevator, would I even be here in Nashville? Serendipitous events always seemed to follow Ada; she may have been “Older than the Queen” but her insatiable spirit will never die. I see it in the Bride as she tends to her family and her career with finesse. I see it in the Rocker, who can make twelve notes of music into spine-tingling compositions with alacrity. And her Great Grands love learning, just as she did.

We chose the Bald Cypress because it’s native to TN: it’s adaptive to dry and wet conditions and can withstand flooding; it will develop “knees” with its roots jutting out of the soil; and it’s the only conifer that sheds its needles, ie “bald”. So it’s unique!

But not as unique as our Adala. Bob was a teenager when she went back to graduate school in the 1960s, and she always left dinner for the boys during the week, even though many of her nights were filled with school and clients. “Misery is optional” was one of her favorite quotes. My wedding present from Ada was a gravesite in their family plot – I wasn’t sure how to respond, but remembered a rabbi telling me that we never really grow up until we have our own gravesite.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us to double down on the fragility of life. We are all molecules of star dust, and we were damn lucky to be in Ada’s orbit for so many years.

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