Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘NPR’

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!

img_5727

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

OK, so I’m not as bad as Great Aunt Bert, who once asked me where my blog “goes?” In fact, for my age, I think I can keep up with most technological advances, with a little help from my kids, my hubby, and a certain friend in MN (Thanks Steff). But I failed miserably on this online test of my favorite and most prolific author, Margaret Atwood. http://www.theguardian.com/books/quiz/2014/nov/18/margaret-atwood-75-quiz?CMP=twt_gu

Happy Birthday Ms Atwood! She is ten years my senior and she IS a techno wizard. For instance, do you know the answer to this question – “Which piece of technology did Atwood invent?” Hint, it’s not the She-Reader!

And just to preface this piece about techno skills, you must know that I’m not nor was I ever an earplug kinda girl. Remember those Apple ads of kids running around with earbuds in their ears all happy and dancing? Well, that’s one thing I missed the memo on; when I walk I like to hear birds, when I bike I read the New Yorker in the gym, I work-out to my own inner music. I look at the scenery, I want to be connected to my environment, not hooked up to a device through my ears.

However, on the mind-numbing drive to and from Nashville, alone, the Bride turned me onto podcasts. Much safer than trying to change books on CDs while passing trucks, my iPhone plugs into the car’s stereo for hours of compelling journalism. Beats right-wing radio jocks every day. And the latest thing she has me hooked on is “Serial.”

Billed as the 1999 murder baffling millions, and created by the “This American Life” team, “Serial” is like having a little Agatha Christie along for the ride. Only it’s non-fiction. And before I even had a chance to explain the story to Bob, this podcast was making national news. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenkilloran/2014/11/13/the-serial-podcast-is-eating-us-for-breakfast/

I inhaled/binged on seven episodes in the car even though they are released every Thursday and now have the UVA Innocence Project team involved. It’s a Romeo and Juliet meets West Side Story whodunit. And if I lost you at “podcast,” have no fear. You don’t need earplugs, or a car with a plug for your smart phone. You can listen on your laptop http://serialpodcast.org

I’m talking to you, big sister Kay. I know you can jockey your MacBook like a pro, and you finally broke down and bought a DVD player, and thanks for allowing me to put you on Facebook (a mixed blessing). I’ll always remember Kay’s story of trying to buy our Nana a refrigerator in Scranton, PA, when she was perfectly happy with her ice box! Will Serial or Netflix be the next frontier? Come to think of it, I think you need an iPad like Great Grandma Ada!

A Tale of Two Sisters (before smart phones)

A Tale of Two Sisters (before smart phones)

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Read Full Post »

Bob alerted me to an article in November’s Atlantic magazine, “Remember the sexting scandal in Louisa this Spring?”

In fact, I didn’t, but I was all over our town’s famous crime novelist, John Grisham’s blow-up on Twitter about his interview with a British magazine. The one where he said our prisons are too full (true!) with normal, old, white guys downloading child porn (what?). Then he steps in it further by differentiating between 16 year old girls and 9 year old boys…

But that’s not the hot button issue Bob was talking about. He had listened to an NPR interview http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/15/356393531/why-kids-sext-describes-nude-photos-as-social-currency-among-teens

…on his ride to the hospital yesterday with the author, Hanna Rosin, of the Atlantic piece on teen sexting: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/

Now we all know that teenagers do crazy things, and every generation has to prove their worth by totally rebelling against their parents – with their music, with their language, with a scathing look, or the ubiquitous word of dismissal, “Fine!” Sheer insolence has no better bedfellow than a teenage girl. Still, it’s one thing to grow your hair long and straight, shorten your skirts to the mini-mum, and listen to the Rolling Stones. Or as the Flapper did, bind her breasts, cut and bob her hair, and go out the window to dance to the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

“You come from a long line of rebels,” Mother told me more than once. But of course, we didn’t have smart phones.

Louisa is a sleepy country county, between my edge of the Shenandoah and the big city of Richmond, a mere 10 minute drive. Think Friday night lights on football fields, and the occasional DUI. So it was baffling to local law enforcement to find out A) that they were collecting more and more cell phones because each kid knew 5-10 kids with naked pix on their phones, it was non-ending, and B) that the kids didn’t seem to care at. all.

For the most part, the laws do not concern themselves with whether a sext was voluntarily shared between two people who had been dating for a year or was sent under pressure: a sext is a sext. So as it stands now, in most states it is perfectly legal for two 16-year-olds to have sex. But if they take pictures, it’s a matter for the police.

There is no easy takeaway from this article. Girls take great care in posing for their pix, like Kim Kardashian and her selfie book saga. Boys just point and shoot. And there are those who feel pressured by boys to send sexts, and those who are in a relationship and this just seems to be a part of the mating ritual, no.big.deal. For some boys, the number of naked pictures on their phones is akin to “social currency,” like collecting Pokemon cards.

But for some girls, the less confident, more marginalized girls, their pix are shared without their consent and humiliation follows; certainly setting up an Instagram account on the web takes this into felony territory. But even here, law enforcement wanted to know was this just two brothers playing a prank, or did they have a more salacious motive?

When we over-schedule our teens, when their only free time is spent texting their friends in the middle of the night, then we know something is wrong. Romancing in high school, while no longer done at the corner drug store sharing an ice cream soda, should not be done alone, after midnight, with a cell phone. Parents, teach your children well.

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »