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Posts Tagged ‘NPR’

Do you ever find yourself sitting in your car, in front of your own house, listening to NPR and glued to your seat? Well, since I’ve received my second jab in the arm, Life has opened up beyond my neighborhood. I’m getting out alone, strolling through a bookstore and yes, I admit I went to Target. Still masked and keeping a good 10 ft distance from humans, I felt like a prisoner just let out of a cave, blinking into the sunlight fluorescent light. The other day, rooted to my car seat, time stood still as I listened to Terry Gross finish interviewing the author Tim O’Brien.

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/24/970880767/tim-obrien-on-late-in-life-fatherhood-and-the-things-he-carried-from-vietnam

O’Brien wrote the Hemingwayesque anti-war book, The Things They Carried in 1990. This was required reading for the Bride’s high school AP English class, and I believe her teacher knew the author. O’Brien was drafted into the Vietnam War and later went on to study at Harvard. After loading some grocery bags into the car, I was excited to hear that Fresh Air was live on Nashville Public Radio… then just like that I morphed into an awkward feeling.

Gross pointedly asked the author if he was still smoking, and he said he was, and in fact he was at that moment in the one room in his house where he can continue to smoke. He didn’t smoke in front of his young children. And even though he’s had multiple trips to the hospital for COPD, he used the same old trope to justify his behavior, “You’ve gotta die of something, right?” I know all about this kind of reasoning since the Flapper continued to smoke until her death. But Gross wouldn’t let it go, she pushed him about being a good father, and staying alive to see his children grow up.

She pointed out his contradictory thinking – telling her that if he stopped smoking he may stop writing. What was more important, being a writer or a father? She put O’Brien on the hot seat, and didn’t let him up.

Then, O’Brien said he’d been doing some research about madness lately, about whether war is just simply codified lunacy.

The definition of madness is having a disordered mind, or exhibiting foolish behavior, or being in a state of frenzied activity. Personally, I was hoping for a much calmer state of activity with our new President and Vice President, only to wake up this morning and find out we bombed Syria.

“While the exact death toll remained unclear, Mr. Biden appears to have calibrated the strikes, hoping they would cause enough damage to show that the United States would not allow rocket attacks like that on the Erbil airport in northern Iraq on Feb. 15, but not so much as to risk setting off a wider conflagration. “He is kind of putting his first red line,” said Maha Yahya, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/world/middleeast/biden-syria-iran.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

Maybe war is simply a bunch of crazy red lines over territorial conflicts. If you bomb me, I will bomb you by proxy. I lived through Vietnam, I was actively against the war and watched two brothers head off to that conflict zone, now it is full of eco-tourists. Or at least it used to be, before Covid. Now the Bride is learning how to roll sushi, and we get take-out from our local Vietnamese restaurant. Our grandchildren wield chop sticks with impunity.

I think we need more French clowns in the world. These clowns practice the medieval art of buffoonery; they were the poor and disenfranchised, the gypsies, gays and Jews, who were allowed to put on a play for the Noblemen every so often. And in so doing, they would point out the most ridiculous, contradictory happenings in their culture… in a funny, slightly smart and sarcastic way. Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat is a classic buffoon.

I’m not saying that Terry Gross was calling O’Brien a buffoon, but she did embarrass him, and that was not called for IMHO. Today, people who still smoke are dwindling, they have become pariahs. Still, I’d like to see some anti-war PSAs like the kind of attacks against smoking, where a woman is talking through her esophagus. Let’s try and change public opinion about war, and guns. You know, this is a guy with his legs blown off by a drone. Here we have the damage a Glock can do to a brain.

Send in the clowns.

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I’m beginning to feel my age. Texting has changed our language, no longer can we write a complete sentence, we can barely complete a word. That baby isn’t adorable, he’s “adorb!” But what trips me up from time to time is the abundance of new acronyms! OTOH = on the other hand; IDK = I don’t know; YOLO = you only live once; WTF = what the ….heck?” It’s almost as if young people are creating their own cryptograms as a get-around for our generation.

Recently, I had to look up one of these – WFH! Short for Working from home,” a very popular post these days! It is usually accompanied by a smiley face emoji with a wink. I immediately laughed at this particular acronym because as a woman of a certain age, I’ve always worked from home. Even when I was driving to a job as a pre-school teacher, I would come home to cooking, cleaning and the usual things it takes to run a household.

When I settled into writing for a newspaper, I always wrote in a corner of my dining room. When I was done, I’d email my copy in and walk into the kitchen and start dinner. Even Great Grandma Ada had her counseling office right next to her kitchen!

But today, our generation has raised some strong, post-feminist women who believe in an EQUAL partnership with their spouse. They make flow charts about who changes the sheets and does the laundry, who cooks and who cleans up the kitchen, who makes the list and shops. And all the quiet work of scheduling doctor’s appointments for the kids, or tracking their currently non-existent playdates and sports events.

In Nashville today, we have nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of Covid19,  – “IOW” – in other words, lots and lots of people are WFH.

Working from home means we see cats crawling across keyboards, dogs still bark at the mailman, one guy accidentally picks up his knee and we get to see his boxer shorts, we hear babies crying! During our virtual will planning session with our lawyer, her baby was inconsolable and I wondered, “Where’s your husband?”

So if you were wondering how the division of home labor stacks up, gender-wise, during our Corona Crisis, I’ve got just the podcast for you! NPR’s Terri Gross interviewed the author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time,” Brigid Schulte. She tells us that even today, women, enlightened, smart, woke women are bearing the brunt of the housework. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/21/860091230/pandemic-makes-evident-grotesque-gender-inequality-in-household-work

“We’ve got this grand mythology (breadwinner vs homemaker model) that that’s really what a family should be,” she says. “We still think that one person should go out to work and be responsible for all of the work and earning and supporting the family. … And there should be … somebody always available at home to do the care and carework.”

But Schulte says that families aren’t monolithic and shouldn’t be treated as such. She says the pandemic has created an opportunity to start a dialogue about the distribution of household tasks.”

Schulte says that she had been carrying alot of radioactive anger around, feeling overwhelmed in her marriage. But she brought up the Notorious RBG, who once had a call from school to pick up her child, and she told the school secretary to call her husband, it was his turn! She said to treat your marriage and family almost like a business, you wouldn’t want your business to fail, right?

I saw a funny YouTube of a woman pleading to God NOT to make her teach math. I remember when the Bride first started homeschooling, I told her her husband is a natural teacher. In higher education it’s called being an “academic.” In fact, he gets awards for his research and teaching skills. Harmony prevailed when they figured out he could do some home-schooling when he wasn’t in the hospital, and she continues to enjoy cooking and baking bread. Sourdough bread.

When she’s not saving lives in her ER. Or teaching a Yoga Zoom class.

I have a feeling since our pandemic quarantine, lots of men around the world are waking up to the tireless domestic work it takes to run a household. The patience it takes to teach and nurture a child. Our L’il Pumpkin learned how to ride a two-wheeler during our lockdown. The Love Bug built a diorama of a fox for her last day of Zoom class.

Now’s the time to have that critical conversation with your loved one. Don’t keep picking up their socks and putting them in the hamper. Don’t hold grudges. If you’re both WFH, pick a day to do housework – Bob always vacuums, I always cook. He weeds the garden and has started doing the laundry, I do the bathrooms. We both sew masks. Don’t let underlying resentment eat away at your marriage.

OTOH we’ve started doing Pilates together, two mats on the floor and a Zoom class every Tuesday and Saturday. And it’s a wonderful thing.

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Yesterday was a good day, despite plunging temperatures. Bob and I packed up a bag-lunch and attended a lecture at the Bridge Building about mysterious ruins and tunnels in Nashville. The Cumberland River Compact sponsored the talk by Tony Gonzalez, a journalist who is now working on a podcast called “Curious Nashville” for our local NPR station. Listeners are asked to submit their questions to the podcast team about the city, and then vote on the most interesting idea.  http://nashvillepublicradio.org/programs/curious-nashville-podcast#stream/0

Some people wanted to know what happens if you put the wrong materials in the recycling bin. Other questions concerned “water-witching” and just what Jimi Hendrix was doing during his year of living on Jefferson Street – in our neighborhood! Gonzalez told us that when he teaches a journalism class, he always tells his students to, “…look to a river for story inspiration.” Rivers rarely disappoint. So he jumped at the chance to investigate this question from a record producer:

I’ve heard rumors of a mysterious tunnel system winding beneath downtown Nashville. Is this true?   

There were lots of rumors and theories of course: perhaps the Underground Railway utilized these tunnels; maybe bootleggers came up river to store their wares under Printer’s Alley during Prohibition? With a little urban spelunking mixed with some good, old-fashioned research on http://www.newspapers.com for original documents, Gonzalez led his audience through a twisted tale of 19th and 20th Century  development that saw creeks repurposed as sewage and water-run-off drain pipes.

Sometimes truth is just not as much fun as fiction. I loved living on the Shrewsbury River. Watching the Great Blue Heron fly over our garage for his morning meal. Reading in my car while waiting for a draw bridge to open and close. Hearing the skeet shooters across the tributary at the Rumson Country Club on Sundays. Cleaning Corgi paws of marshy black silt when the tide came in.

And we knew that bootleggers came ashore to deliver their goods to Murphy’s Tavern.

Of course, my question today is why Nashville hasn’t developed its riverfront? Think about New York’s “South Street Seaport,” where Fulton St meets the East River. Then there’s Baltimore, and Boston. By contrast, we have an abandoned slaughterhouse and empty warehouses littering the beautiful Cumberland River. If I had a few million to invest, you bet I’d start buying some of that land. They say a hundred people a day move to Nashville…

I know because every day I hear 2 or 3 explosions that rock the house and send Ms Bean scampering for cover. Right down the block they are building the new TN State Museum and the TN State Library and Archive, demolition has been going on for the past month. Because this part of town sits on a bed of limestone, the blasting reverberates for miles. It’s not unlike the earthquake I felt in VA! In fact, sometimes it feels like we’re living in a war zone.

Yesterday was a “very bad day” for our Mayor Megan Barry. A real-life Scandal has come to life since it was reported she’s been having an affair with her top security guard. In the midst of trying to get a multi-billion dollar mass transport deal through, she will now be investigated by her state prosecutor, who’s name is, I kid you not, District Attorney Glenn Funk! Let’s just hope the Mayor didn’t write off some extra-marital work trips or empty any mini-bars.

I’m not so curious about our Mayor’s love life. And I didn’t watch the SOTU address. Nor do I wish to masticate over what may or may not be in some random “memo” that “might” be released today. There’s flu running rampant in the Bride’s house so we’re keeping our distance because a trip to Great Grandma Ada is up next. I’ll be sure to download Curious Nashville for the plane.

This is a picture of the Lick Creek Tunnel becoming the Lick Branch Sewer in 1895.

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Yesterday, I was listening to an NPR On Point interview with Ann Patchett about her essay in the NYT – she had decided to spend 2017 as her year of “No Shopping.” Her friend, Elissa Kim, inspired her to give up shopping for frivolous things. Kim had returned to the US after a trip to India and felt, “…obscenely rich.” She was shocked by our sheer abundance compared to the street people she met on her journey; so, Kim gave up shopping for a year. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510053/on-point-with-tom-ashbrook

The rules were simple: No clothes; No shoes: No bags; No jewelry

WHAT?! What if your winter clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry were all in a Pod stacked somewhere in a warehouse? What if you had to buy holiday presents? Patchett said this didn’t apply to food, which is good since I’d seen her a few times at Whole Foods, and even though we’d met at her store, Parnassus, and I’d sat in front of her at the Love Bug’s Grandparent Turkey Day, I never imposed myself on her celebrity.

Living in Rumson taught me one thing, you may get introduced to the Boss at the gym, but you never fawn over him.

Still, after reading ALL of Patchett’s books, and knowing her husband is also a doctor, I felt a certain connection and found myself stuck to my Sonos on the Nashville NPR station. This year of living without shopping came about seamlessly. She said it had something to do with, “…the state of the country.” Oh I hear you girl. Also realizing that, “I had enough!” To which I would add, I am enough. And finally, she thought she’d been spending a little too much time, “…chilling out by browsing online.”       http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/01/02/author-ann-patchetts-year-of-no-shopping

There were so many questions I had after listening to this interview. How do I chill out?Why do we shop? As I’m typing, an email shoots into the right corner of my screen from Eileen Fisher, telling me about their new blue… Oh dear God. I ignore it. Then the doorbell rings, it’s an Amazon package…

But mostly, I am left wondering why people are so darn mean on social media?

I made the mistake of checking On Point’s Twitter feed to add my opinion to the mix, and there were all these nasty comments along the line of, “…it’s called poverty/what a bunch of pretentious, entitled/this is the worst etc.” A TED talk featuring a woman who saved $37,000 one year by not shopping seemed to really set the mob mentality over the edge.

Still, I listened to the subtext. What would happen to our economy if everyone just stopped shopping? And I heard the anger, the anguish of a certain part of society, the part that likes to pit US against THEM. They don’t just cling to their guns and their religion, they like to shop! They not only rejected the idea of doing without, they disparaged the “liberal elite” for trying to do so.

It left me wondering when Republicans became the party for the working class; of course I know it started with LBJ and the South, with that drum roll of racism that still underscores our gerrymandering. My Daddy Jim never finished grade school, worked his whole life and taught me to always root for the “little guy.” The Flapper always said, “Charity begins at home” because we were so poor. She idolized FDR! We came from the coal mining hills of Pennsylvania and always thought the GOP was out of touch, was the party of (and for) the rich. This latest tax scheme should enlighten us all.

Because a certain British rag couldn’t reach Patchett for a comment, they headlined their article about her abundance of lip balm, because at one point she thought she might have to buy some but found more in her coat pockets. My comment was about how Millennials are more interested in the Fashion Chain, ethically sourced materials, and so they love to shop vintage. I was actually trying to listen to the interview, not judge the panel.

I must admit I’m starting to like web browsing ever since we bought our mattresses online, and mea culpa, I’m guilty of standing in a Target aisle wondering how the heck I got there and what I wanted. And then there’s the problem with shoes…

Still who wouldn’t want to find more time and money by not craving that one (insert consumer product here) that will change your life forever? Maybe this will redeem me? Here is a picture of our adorable Cali cousins, little Frankie is in a red beret wearing a lilac bunny sweater that the Flapper knit for the Bride thirty some years ago. I’d call that “Sustainable Knitwear!”

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When the Rocker was in Middle School, we hopped a train into NYC to see Chicago. He brought a friend along and we had exceptional seats in one of the side boxes next to the stage. We could see the sweat on the dancers’ faces. And when they broke into the Cell Block Tango song “He Had it Comin,” I laughed till I cried.

Well this morning I just wanna cry in my coffee.

Though jet lag is behind me, the American news has been assaulting me daily. Mr T was a little too chummy with a Russian diplomat named Lavrov, the same guy Flynn resigned over, and the one guy left on the Hill with any credibility at all, HR MacMaster, is trotted out to deny any classified information was leaked – even though Mr T admitted/tweeted he had every right to do it, which he may have done, though who cares, right?

He had it comin so to speak…

He had it coming
He only had himself to blame.
If you’d have been there
If you’d have seen it
I betcha you would have done
The same!

Our President has been playing at his role, learning on the job, and demonizing the press. But this news today, allowing only Russian media into the Oval and then handing them classified information on ISIS, like a child showing his buddy the cute frog he just caught, is not only just damning, it’s possibly treasonous. To put it into Broadway lingo, he didn’t just break a leg, he shot himself in the foot. And he only …”had himself to blame.”

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.804daaaa5484

When will the GOP wake up and realize what is happening? When will they appoint an independent prosecutor? What about his Taxes?? Is anybody listening? We heard all about Hillary’s emails to Huma regarding creme brulee, but Mr T can fire his FBI Director for dubious reasons and keep playing at a reality show/game of How. Friggin. Much. Can. I. Get. Away. With…

In the musical Chicago, there was a guy named Alvin Lipschitz. He was very artistic and went out every night to “find himself.” Mona, one of the dancers in the cell block tango, didn’t take too kindly to all the women and men he found himself with, so she broke up with him, in the worst possible way. Her defense was artistic differences, and she swore he had it comin!

A free press will not be barred or barricaded away from this White House. We the people deserve an investigation into how Russia colluded with Mr T’s campaign to swing our election. He also has it comin – he should be facing impeachment hearings for his pure and utter incompetence.

Let’s just say we have irreconcilable artistic and public policy differences.

And just as a welcome back to Cville, this past weekend found a “white heritage group” bearing torches and chanting Nazi-like slogans at Robert E lee Park. Lots of guys in khaki and white button-down shirts with Confederate flags. We have some stylist differences as well. Hate speech has a free hand today, disguising itself as freedom.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/14/528363829/richard-spencer-leads-group-protesting-sale-of-confederate-statue

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If Mirriam Webster is on to something, they just let the world know. The Word of the Year for 2016 is “surreal,” or “having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic;” and after the past few days and months I’d have to agree: a truck plows through a Christmas Market in Berlin, mimicking the Nice attack earlier this year; a Russian ambassador is assassinated in Turkey while being filmed by an AP journalist, just as citizen journalists have been documenting killings by police and streaming them in real time in this country; a Twitter-babbling, boisterous billionaire wins our election with a little help from Russia, just as many populist politicians all over Europe are disrupting the status quo.

The past year does seem like a nightmare, surreal, only we are not dreaming. Yesterday the deal was sealed with the Electoral College, and Melania (or Ivanka) will get to pick out the new White House china, not William Jefferson Clinton. Will it be American (I love my pattern from Lenox, which was once produced in NJ) or Slovenian? Just think, if Hillary had won, Bill could have just recycled the fine china Hillary picked the first time around! This would have saved taxpayers plenty!

I wonder what kind of food Mrs T will serve at state dinners? I heard a fascinating author discussion on NPR about the history of First Ladies and how they have sparked culinary trends in the past. Think of Jackie O introducing French food to the American palate. She and Julia Child shaped my young interest in all things French. I nearly burned down my first home trying to make coq au vin.

Just as Eleanor Roosevelt told her chef not to produce any meal costing more than the average American could afford during the Great Depression, Michelle Obama has been instrumental in getting our country moving and making sure her chef, Sam Kass from Chicago, planned his meals based on Real Food.

Kass changed the Obama’s diet—more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; less processed foods and desserts. As first lady, Michelle Obama passionately told her family’s culinary story, especially how it benefited the health of her girls. She and Kass turned to broader health initiatives beyond the first family’s table. They grew a vegetable garden on the South Lawn, launched the health and lifestyle initiative “Let’s Move,” tackled school lunch reform and redrew the United States Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid as a simplified icon called “My Plate.”http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/09/504693961/first-ladies-often-forge-food-trends-but-melanias-menu-is-a-mystery

If I were to apply the term surreal to Mrs T’s gastronomical philosophy, we might imagine a state dinner consisting of her favorite fruits. After all, this is what we know, she eats 7 fruits a day. So perhaps the first course would be a baked fig? Followed by a blueberry and raspberry terrine? Would she serve a third course, a potato or pasta dish? Maybe she would branch out and serve cauliflower rice in a lovely crystal bowl? For dessert, it would have to be apple pie…or maybe strudel? We already know Mr T doesn’t drink alcohol, but I’m sure they would have to serve the appropriate wine pairings to their guests of state. Right?

This week we are off to Nashville for some grandparenting fun. It will be the first year in a very long time when Bob will NOT be working on Christmas, however our daughter WILL be seeing any and all comers in her ER on Christmas Eve. She loves her urban hospital as they see lots of ages and real life and death problems – unlike a suburban hospital’s typical run-of-the-mill, free-floating anxiety problems. The staff really cares for their homeless population who tend to come in as the temperatures drop. I hope she doesn’t mind my little synopsis.

I’m looking forward to my enforced news sabbatical and will try to write between grating potatoes for the Bride and Groom’s Hannuka party and warming up the dreidel. Hope whatever holiday you are celebrating this year is filled with family love, cheer, real food and friends. And I hope your dreams are filled with nutcrackers and sugar plum fairies! Thought you might want to see my tiny, surreal tree!

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My brain has been news-free for a week, and look what happened! Hillary is slipping from the polls, and commentators/strategists/pundits have been making jokes about Trump “softening” on immigration. It’s enough to make me believe what the Flapper always said, the TV is a “boob box,” from the ancient meaning of boob, meaning  – a stupid person; fool; dunce. It would seem our intelligence is bound to diminish in relation to the number of hours we spend in front of a screen.

But the radio, now there’s something that can capture your imagination and leave you maybe just a bit smarter! On our nine and a half hour drive home from Nashville, Bob and I listened to a few podcasts from NPR’s TED Radio Hour. I was sad to leave my grandbabies, but it was great to share this mind-numbing drive with Bob; he could jockey my smart phone while I navigated my way between trucks in the left lane climbing the Smokey Mountains. The show about Trust was enlightening:

http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/406238794/trust-and-consequences

Restoring trust in government was one of the subjects it tackled. A former Prime Minister of Greece was the speaker, but look at what’s happening now in Brazil. In case you were too busy watching the Olympics to notice what was going on behind the scenes, and I don’t mean Ryan Lochte’s little fib, the democratically elected first woman president in Latin America, Dilma Rousseff, is fighting for her political life. By tomorrow, we will know if her congress has voted to impeach her on grounds that she concealed the growing fiscal deficit – ie, she lost their trust somewhere along the way. Because in fact, there is NO evidence she did any such thing.  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37217633

…senators blamed her for the tanking economy and accused her of concealing the growing fiscal deficit as she sought re-election. They also questioned how she could not have been aware of the corruption at state-run oil giant Petrobras, when for years she chaired its board of directors.
The revelations about corruption at Petrobras, in which members of Ms Rousseff’s Workers’ Party as well as business executives and influential members of other parties have been implicated, have played a crucial role in undermining the government’s credibility.

Trust is a basic human need. If we can’t trust in the unconditional love of a parent, for instance, we might grow up to be a frightened, anxious human being. Jack Welch, the former CEO of one of our biggest corporations, GE, once said that Trust is THE absolute in business. The last part of TED’s podcast had to do with trust within a marriage, “How Can Couples Rebuild Trust After an Affair?” Now this could apply to both political candidates, as well as the latest Weiner scandal.

Psychotherapist Esther Perel wrote a book titled “Mating in Captivity.” She specializes in marriage counseling, and insists that couples can grow stronger after an affair, if they are willing to do the work. “Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, and so has the taboo against it.” She tells us that it is the only commandment in the Bible repeated twice!

Perel defines an affair as a secretive relationship, an emotional connection, a sexual alchemy – Proust said it’s our imagination that is responsible for love. So Jimmy Carter was right when he thought lusting in his heart was a sin, right? And sexting a la Weiner, with his toddler asleep in the bed next to him, is an even bigger, corporal sin. In 1998 President Bill was impeached for a casual affair with an intern, one in which he tried stupidly to define sex. But the evidence Congress used to prove their point was that he lied under oath to a federal grand jury.

Maybe before our country considers electing Trump, we should investigate his previous affairs, and see if he tells us the truth. Maybe we should put every single member of Congress, men and women, in a grand jury room and grill them for hours about their sexual peccadillos! Trump wants America to be great again, to close our borders and while we’re at it, how about a Senator Joseph McCarthy-like witch hunt for sexual transgressors?

Am I kidding? Of course. The problem is, nobody knows when Trump is kidding. And that’s the kind of lack of trust, of dishonesty, one might expect from a sociopath. Not a President. Hillary may parse her words, but when they come out, I believe her.

This little guy trusts the adults in his life not to start up this tractor, but he always wants us to vacuum!  IMG_5103

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My favorite living author, who also happens to own a bookstore in Nashville, asked her readers what the title of their autobiography might be; “What would be the title of your life story?” The graphic on Parnassus’ Instagram account was a cartoony book titled “Can I Get Extra Cheese On That, a Memoir.”

Now I have nothing against cheese, in fact a day without cheese is like a day without a squeeze! But since that title was taken, I thought for maybe a split second and wrote “Victory Gardens.” That title means so much to me, and I realize it probably makes you think of the push to grow our own food after WWII, if you are of a certain age. But if my foster parents hadn’t scooped me up in Scranton at ten months of age and planted me in Victory Gardens, I might have been heading for an orphanage.

In that tiny, four room cement house, in the “temporary” development built to support the war effort at Picatinny Arsenal, I was surrounded by enough unconditional love to grow  strong. You remember the ice cream truck, and the doll house Daddy Jim built from the ice cream sticks; my trips to town and free samples of everything, especially bologna at the butcher shop.

Yesterday I listened to NPR’s Fresh Air in the car and I was rooted to my seat. I couldn’t leave the car and face the oppressive 96 degree heat – plus the topic spoke to me. Two culinary historians were promoting their book about food during the Great Depression. The authors were talking about their grandparents, but we Boomers grew up with parents who lived through this period, so our childhood kitchen tables reflected that period of time perfectly. And don’t forget, I had two mothers.

In Victory Gardens, Nell would proudly tell anyone within earshot that she was really good at opening cans, then her face would light up like a Christmas tree at her own joke! I remember dinners that consisted of canned hash with a fried egg on top. A vegetable side would mean a sliced tomato. Frozen foods were a novelty, so in this Catholic house we ate frozen fish sticks on Fridays. One day a week we ate out at the diner. And for a very special occasion she might make her specialty, stuffed cabbage, a Slovakian miracle simmering in sauerkraut.

But the Flapper, in her old Queen Ann house in town, would cook! She simmered meatballs in sauce she made herself, and even though she was working ever day she managed to get a delicious hot meal on the table every night. She taught me how to shop for the freshest ingredients by season, and how to save a few pennies here and there. Of course I’ve told you about her Depression-era Mac n Cheese, the kind with bacon because they could not get real butter. One of both Moms’ favorite stories was how as a young child I could tell the difference between butter and margarine. Later I learned they had to put yellow food coloring in a Crisco-like substance in the 30s to approximate butter. And ps, I have never purchased margarine in my life!

So while listening to “Creamed Canned and Frozen” yesterday, one author spoke about  bologna and mashed potato dinners. I had to smile since bologna was a staple at my cement house too. With the Flapper we made delicious ham sandwiches on rye bread with real dill pickles we picked from a barrel.

But the funniest thing the authors Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe said was their children would not eat the food they were preparing during the writing of this book, since it didn’t look like food to them! And thinking back, canned hash does look like something maybe the dog didn’t like…http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/15/489991111/creamed-canned-and-frozen-how-the-great-depression-changed-u-s-dietsta The Flapper, however, cooked creatively with spices, and spicy food believe it or not was deemed suspicious in the 30s.

Spicy foods were [considered] stimulants. They were classified as stimulants, so they were on that same continuum along with caffeine and alcohol all the way up to cocaine and heroin. And if you started with an olive, you might find yourself one day addicted to opiates. It put you on a very slippery slope — watch out for olives!

Today we are asked to learn where and how our fish were harvested, what the cows have been eating before we buy a steak, and how sustainable is the farm growing our produce. Would the Flapper pay more for organic milk, like I do? It’s a wonder panic doesn’t set in the moment we think about getting a meal on the table! I wonder how or IF the Love Bug will cook, maybe she’ll use a replicator a la Star Trek? I remember how she turned her nose up at the first chicken nugget I offered her, after all, it doesn’t look like chicken!

So even though I grew up in a bland house that referenced a garden without an actual garden, where a tinned tuna casserole made with soup was considered nutritious, I managed to become a fairly inventive home cook imho thanks to the Flapper. And the real victory was when the Bride asked for all my recipes when she was setting up her own kitchen after college.

While Lee and Al were visiting I made stuffed eggplant; a recipe I made up as I went along, sauteing garlic and mushrooms, mixing with the eggplant, and of course baking with cheese sprinkled on top! This was right before they went in the oven, Bon Appetit!  IMG_4981

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The first time I heard this phrase, “The mobility of content,” was yesterday while driving along the most glorious mountain views of Albemarle County. It was a sunroof-open-mobil moment on the good ole fashioned radio. I was listening to NPR and an interview with the creator of Netflix, talk about how they came up with the idea of original content. Most people think “House of Cards” was their first original pilot series. But no, Little Stevie’s “Lilyhammer” was being produced in Norway; they were six months in, when The Boss’ bestie cringed at the idea of releasing all of the Scandinavian mob-driven drama at once. Think of it like a record album, Steven Van Zandt was told, and so we begin.

While celebrating Ada’s 91st birthday, I grabbed her iPad and told her, “You’re gonna love this.” Ada has been a Marriage and Family Counselor for almost as long as I’ve known her. In fact, when she returned to school in the 60’s, thereby creating a role model for all young feminists in the NY/NJ metropolitan area, I had just started dating her son. “It’s about two couples, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play the wives,” I crooned in her ear. I had just finished semi-binge watching “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix, a comedy about divorce loosely, and I wanted her to enjoy it as much as I had. https://www.netflix.com/title/80017537

Now I hate to get prejudicial, but for the most part I’d bet not many octogenarians+ know from streaming content. Ada is unique, in many ways, but her tech skills are particularly excellent. She gets her news online and in paper form, she shares photos and corresponds via email, although she prefers actual phone calls! She can Facetime with her Great Grandchildren in Nashville, and now I’ve got her on Netflix! We only watched two episodes of “Grace and Frankie” while I was there,  but I’ve got a feeling this woman who wrote her dissertation on humor in conflict, will become addicted in no time.

My guilty pleasure is watching “Bloodline” late at night when Bob’s working the evening shift. I’ve plowed through all the original content Netflix has to offer, “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and yes, I even started out long ago with “Lilyhammer” when we first got our Apple TV. I can watch Netflix on a plane, on a train, or even in the rain. I don’t like to watch on my phone however, even though “Lawrence of Arabia” has been watched on cell phones worldwide more than any other content. Imagine that.

But “Bloodline” is skeeving me out. It’s Shakespearian in its ethos, a family tragedy enfolding in the beautiful Florida Keys. If you want to see what drug/alcohol addiction is really like, how it can corrode character from the inside out, just watch Ben Mendelsohn play the “bad” brother Danny. And our Albemarle neighbor, Sissy Spacek, is compelling as the Rayburn family matriarch.

“Bloodline” is cleverly constructed, but a lot of the mystery hinges on Danny. Mr. Mendelsohn (who made his name in the United States in the Australian crime drama “Animal Kingdom”) is suitably inscrutable — his character is a quicksilver manipulator who can seem benign one second and malevolent the next. His good looks are bleached out by bad behavior, and only his smile, wryly sweet but fleeting, restores his boyhood charm. At his best, Danny seems well-meaning and misunderstood; at his worst, he looks a little like a middle-aged Robert Durst.     http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/arts/television/review-bloodline-on-netflix-depicts-a-family-with-nasty-secrets.html

Since we can carry our entertainment with us, wherever we go, and now not just with Netflix, but Amazon, Hulu, Google and even HBO will be streaming content, http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/best-media-streaming-sites-services/ I wonder how this will change story telling. Or is a good story a universal thing of beauty, passed down in its oral tradition from generation to generation, since we could paint an image on a cave.

Scene From a Birthday

Scene From a Birthday

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Right before the Love Bug was born, I whispered to the Groom, “Don’t take your eyes off her.” And by her, I meant the baby. It was going to be a C-section, the baby was breech, and I knew the Bride would be busy on the OR table. He looked at me kinda funny, but I said with fierce determination, “Promise me!” And he stayed with the Love Bug till they rolled her out to us.

Call me crazy, and I’m sure some people do, but I’ve seen too many mistakes happen in hospitals over the years, heard about too many nearly averted catastrophes, plus you know that old superstition, which I highly believe, about medical families. I’ve talked about it before, how people will try and treat you differently in the hospital when they learn you are related to doctor so and so, or nurse what’s his name.

And my mind thinks in a kind of catastrophic way. It’s a wonder I’m not on IV anxiety medicine at all times. Bob is late for our wedding? Wringing my hands I think he must have cold feet; instead, he couldn’t find the rabbi. Maybe it has to do with my Year of Living Dangerously. I’ve always thought I was the least affected by that trauma – the death of my father followed by a devastating car accident that landed me in a foster home. The Flapper was crippled, my sister and nana were in a coma, and my brothers were on their own. I was just a baby, I had no real memories of my first year of life. But there were lasting scars, wounds you’d never see when you grow up between two families.

I didn’t want my grand daughter switched at birth!

I had those feelings when my children were born, but Bob was right there and he knew about my fear, so he kept a close eye on things. After all, we were in his hospital, he knew everybody, and the Bride’s little foot was banded and toe-printed immediately.  Here is a synopsis of the bizarre switched-at-birth story I had heard about before the Bug’s birth on “This American Life.” It happened in Wisconsin in 1951: “One of the mothers realized the mistake but chose to keep quiet. Until the day, more than 40 years later, when she decided to tell both daughters what happened. How the truth changed two families’ lives.” http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/360/switched-at-birth

And just when you think that with technology these things never happen anymore, think again. A court case has just finished up in France awarding two families 2M Euros. Because at the age of ten, one girl felt she didn’t look like her father.

The families of two French girls who were accidentally switched at birth 20 years ago have been awarded nearly €2m (£1.5m) in damages. The clinic involved in the mix-up was ordered to compensate both girls – now women – their parents and siblings.Both babies had been treated in the same incubator and were then given to the wrong parents. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31350550

This must have been a cost-saving effort, putting two babies in the same incubator. Back in Wisconsin, one mother always thought there had been a mistake, her daughter was nothing like the rest of the family. But she never spoke up.

My daughter reassured me they kept close watch when she delivered Baby Boy JH in November, with his father and a doula plus the requisite docs and nurses in the room. I was still driving and worrying but immediately felt relieved when I looked into his eyes. Plus, Grandma Ada says she knows him. I think he looks like one of her sons, or the Groom’s brother. We’re not entirely sure yet.  IMG_5254

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