Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

This week Ms Berdelle was rounding up the neighborhood so we could all tie ourselves to the cherry trees on the Cumberland River bank. But that’s another story

Cherry trees are exploding all over Nashville. There is new growth on every block; tulips coming while daffodils are going, backed by an orchestra of bird song. I can’t help but smile as I walk Ms Bean and wonder if passers-by are also euphoric over Spring, or are they just self/or/doctor/medicated? Passover and Easter are right around the corner and we are in the midst of starting over in our new home, the #PartyFarmhouse.

Like Chip and Joanna of HGTV fame, I’ve christened our urban oasis with its very own name – the Party Farmhouse is a simple, white shingle-style abode with black trim – built in the 1930s, the small side garden holds a gas fire pit and is adorned with party lights! Emptying the Pod yesterday was like Christmas morning; the Flapper’s Buddha, the French cupboard, old paintings and my ancient desk. In the midst of it all, I’d almost forgotten my hair stylist’s appointment.

There is nothing like a new do to make you feel alive and reborn, so of course I made a point of showing up because I love Chase! We always have the best conversations, and yesterday he told me that his dearly departed grandmother shared my name and my original hair color! We talked about one of his relatives who doesn’t believe in vaccinations, and I told him how I was lined up at Sacred Heart School to road test one of the very first polio vaccines. In my day, we still saw children who had been afflicted with polio in wheelchairs with wasted limbs.

Which is why I cannot abide by parents who are “anti-vaxxers.” I told Chase about the research I did on language acquisition in college at the Hartford School for the Deaf. Most of those beautiful pre-schoolers had been born to mothers who had contracted German measles during their pregnancy, also known as Rubella. There was no choice for these parents, not in the 1970s. The MMR vaccine today prevents Rubella and regular measles, aka Rubeola. Now thanks to certain communities in the US and all over Europe as well, measles is making a comeback.

“Italy and France have extended existing requirements (for school admission) with fines and restricted school attendance. And Germany is currently discussing making measles vaccine mandatory.

In New York’s Rockland County, unvaccinated children have been banned from public places for 30 days. But it is difficult to see how this could be effectively enforced and there is little evidence that mandatory vaccination is always the best approach.”   https://www.bbc.com/news/health-47800438

Whether you believe basically sentencing an unvaccinated child to house arrest for a month is constitutional, or not, this is a fine line for public health officials to cross. Most outbreaks have occurred in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities thereby fueling anti-Semitic sentiments. But combined with Christian-Right homeschoolers, many children can no longer rely on herd immunity. A community needs a rate of 95% compliance in order to benefit from herd immunity.

My biological Father was a pharmacist who believed you could contract all these communicable diseases in a hospital, when in fact the measles virus floats around in the air droplets of an infected person and on surrounding surfaces for hours. It’s highly contagious and not worth risking a child’s life over unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, no matter what religion one subscribes to.

Well, it’s back to unpacking boxes for me. Ms Berdelle’s plan almost worked, since the cherry trees were not chopped down and now have another chance at life! Let’s hope most of the trees the city of Nashville transplanted to accommodate the NFL draft (and our massive voter petition) continue to bloom! We pick up the Grands today after school and just might be installing a fairy house!

IMG_5227

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Oh Happy Spring! The sun is out, the daffodils are smiling, and the Love Bug is on Spring Break. It’s a rare opportunity for me to have some alone time with my granddaughter – usually her adorable and exuberant little brother is tagging along, or a parent or two. But lucky me, this week we had a day to ourselves to design dream catchers, share crepes for lunch, and skip to the Farmer’s Market for salted peanut butter ice cream with chocolate flakes.

But the absolute best time is when we get to talk in the car. There is no one else to control the radio in the front seat, or play imaginary games in the back seat. So I opened up the sunroof and blasted Bach on our sound system! If you go to the Google Doodle today, you’ll see why Bach is all over classical stations – it’s his 334th birthday! You’ll also be able to interact with an AI composer… which is awesome btw! https://www.classicfm.com/composers/bach/birthday-google-doodle-ai-game/

The Baroque composer played and worked for princes and churches. His stunning harmonies never fail to move me, and in particular I could listen to the Brandenburg Concertos forever. Bach was a master of  something called “….counterpoint, (this) is the way notes move alongside each other in harmony. Bach is particularly famous for the complexity of his counterpoint, often creating incredibly intricate harmonies beneath simple chorale melodies – with beautiful results to the listeners.”

Back to the present, there we were, on the first day of Spring, with the sun shining through the roof of my car when Ms Bug asked me if Bach was deaf? And honestly I didn’t know, I mean wasn’t Beethoven deaf? I turned down the music as she told me the story of a composer who was conducting his orchestra with his eyes closed so he didn’t see that the musicians had stopped, and he was deaf so he couldn’t hear either.

Someone had to gently turn him around to the audience so he could see them clapping.

Granted her school has an awesome music program, where the arts are thoroughly integrated into every grade’s curriculum, not treated as an after-school-after-thought.  But I was still amazed as we discussed what a deficit like that might have done to a musician. My almost 7 year old granddaughter has a mind that rarely slows down, and a gift for compassion. Suddenly I asked her which she would rather – “Would you rather be deaf or blind?”

I know it’s a hard question at any age. I’ve witnessed what deafness has done to Great Grandpa Hudson, I’ve lost some of my own vision over the years and still it’s a question I’d rather not even ponder, but for some strange reason I asked it. Making sense of this world can be challenging; and here she was on the brink of the Age of Reason. Plus, I loved hearing the Love Bug think out loud.

She said immediately, “I’d rather be blind.”

Of course there’s no right answer. It’s like asking “Which super power would you have if you were a super hero?” It’s fantastical, theoretical, and absurd. A Sophie’s Choice in a Willy Wonka world. But the Bug would miss her mother’s voice, her father singing her to sleep, the sounds of spring.

And I thought to myself, would I miss reading the news, the news junkie that I used to be when I was a reporter. Could I adapt to audible books? Would I miss seeing the sun rise and fall? Would I still take pleasure in cooking if I didn’t see what I was doing, if I could only smell and taste a dish? Would it even be safe to make ravioli? Maybe, because I could play Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Chopin’s violin concertos, and I would be able to revel in the Rocker’s compositions.

Later on with Pop Bob, we stood in the middle of the enormous bell towers at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall when the hour struck, and all around us we heard the dulcet tones of the TN Waltz. Bob asked me to dance, and the Bug smiled.

57479593191__314AC09E-7F38-4F85-AAD7-E783FF7BB745

 

Read Full Post »

While my brother Dr Jim was getting punished with a foot of snow in MN, Spring has sprung here in Nashville.

We’ve been busy collecting the daffodils in Ms Berdelle’s secret garden, and practicing Quigong on her patio. This past weekend I enlisted my young neighbor, Ashley, to give this ancient form of exercise and healing a try; but when she asked me what Quigong actually is, I was at a loss. I’d only studied T’ai Chi in the past and since today is Tuesday, I’ll be aligning my Chi pretty soon!

Still, Berdelle’s son is a Master of Quigong, and luckily he was visiting and the weather has been cooperating, I was game to give it a try:

When you start practicing Qigong exercises, the primary goal is to concentrate on letting go, letting go, letting go. That’s because most imbalance comes from holding on to too much for too long. Most of us are familiar with physical strength of muscles, and when we think about exercising, we think in terms of tensing muscles. Qi energy is different. Qi strength is revealed by a smooth, calm, concentrated effort that is free of stress and does not pit one part of the body against another.  https://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/qigong-exercises-healing-energy/

If that sounds like a song from a Frozen movie you’d be right. This is less like a Pelloton workout and more like a meditation on harmony, with birdsong as background music. When our Yin and Yang energy becomes unbalanced (or as Dr Jim would put it, we are too tightly or too loosely strung), it’s important to LET GO of everything that is holding us back and weighing us down.

Since Great Grandma Ada’s NJ house has just gone on the market, I’ve noticed a change in her – realistically she knows that her “collections” have served their purpose and she doesn’t need the hundreds of dishes, pots, silver and heavy furniture she has accumulated over a lifetime. In fact, she has sent the Steinway Grand piano out to California for the Rocker to enjoy!

But emotionally, she is still coming to terms with this new reality. Who are we without all our stuff?  

When I studied Buddhism at UVA, our class was told to write down words to describe who we are: Woman. Mother. Writer. Wife. Gardener. Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. (I wasn’t a grandmother yet)… but you get the point. How do we define ourselves? Irish. Democrat! Progressive! Feminist! Then our teacher told us to erase all those words, and some people had plenty of descriptors.

We were looking at a blank page.

The point was to empty our minds of all our labels, labels meant to divide us socially and politically, to create havoc and borders and even war. This past week we watched House Democrats try to come up with an Anti-Semitism bill that devolved into an anti-hate bill and lost its legs – criticizing a policy of racism and apartheid is not the same as hating a people for their ethnicity. Or spreading stereotypic garbage for that matter.

Is it possible to become one with the human race? To meditate and find the flow that connects each and every one of us to the earth and other living things. When I look into Ms Bean’s soulful eyes I see unconditional love. When we look into a new baby’s black, blue or green eyes we experience that same tenderness.

For some this is a very hard exercise, to give up everything we think we know about ourselves. We might feel like a ship stuck at sea with no harbor in sight. But for some, it is the very definition of freedom.

The Bride was asking me about Great Grandma Gi the other day. She wanted to know how and why the Flapper came to love Buddhism because she is seriously studying Yoga. Born in 1908, my Mother had a long hard life – she was abused as a young girl, had to relinquish two of her children for a time, and then her sixth and last child, me, after our Year of Living Dangerously. She survived a horrific car accident and buried three husbands. But her strength was a direct result of her suffering.

Gi was not a fabulist or a pollyanna in any way. She worked hard and constantly told me that every person has a story. Studying the interaction of mind and body became her religion in late life; just as integrative medicine, blending Western science with Eastern philosophy, has become accepted by wellness experts in America.

In this Year of the Pig, I will try to meditate, to breathe and to plan on letting go.

“I will practice coming back to the present moment,

Not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past,

Or letting anxieties, fear or craving pull me out”

Thich Nhat Hanh 

A69C012E-9A26-4D7E-828E-FBA3E4FEF8AF

Read Full Post »

Happy First Day of Spring! We are in the middle of a self-inflicted March Madness (sorry Blue Devils), pruning and sprucing up the yard while simultaneously cleaning out closets. Bob gets to ride around on his tractor while I get to tackle my clothes. And since I’m not afraid to ask for help, this year I’ve called in a professional. The Bride gave me the idea; in the past, she would sit among my shoes and ask, “How many pairs of red shoes do you need Mom?” A few weeks ago, my daughter suggested I try hiring someone who does this sort of thing for a living. Not a psychologist/clutter counselor per se, but a stylist.

A stylist? Moi? She said she has friends in Nashville who rave about this service. And here I thought you had to be a celebrity to hire a stylist, I never even had a personal shopper. Or a Stitch Fix account for that matter…and then I thought, wait, why not? It’s true I can write in my nightgown, but hey, we are on the move! Looking for a beach house, traveling to France, moving closer to our Grandbabies, if only I had thought of this before the Rocker’s wedding! Remember, one of my first articles for the “Berkshire Eagle” was titled, “Fashion Police.” 

I wrote about moving from New Jersey to New England, trying to fit in with the natives. The paper actually hired models to illustrate my three styles of dressing – 1) the Native wore jeans, flannel and work boots; they were very early adopters of the uni-sex grunge look; 2) the Tourists were New Yorkers who came for the weekend or the summer and wore mostly Black to Tanglewood; and then you had the rest of us. I was a 3) Transplant, we had moved to Pittsfield from all over the country, we didn’t even own a pair of jeans, and didn’t have a style of our own. Hey, it was the 80s.

Obviously, it was a semi-satirical essay!

Moving to Virginia wasn’t too traumatic. We built our small house, pared down our lives. I was wearing jeans again, and I’d discovered Eileen Fisher. She is a designer who spoke my language, ethically sourced clothes in natural fibers, her designs are the epitome of easy elegance. Stevie Nix meets Helen Mirren! This old Catholic School girl was close to finally finding her own style. At least once a year I’d meet Anita for lunch in Richmond and get my Nordstrom/Eileen Fisher fix.

I knew I was on the right track when I found Andrea Wood, a “Personal Stylist and Wardrobe Consultant.”  www.andreawoodstyling.com  She doesn’t just help you clean out your closets, she looks at your clothes with a professional’s eye. The first thing I had to do was answer a questionnaire, then she had me make a special Pinterest page. I already had an old page called “Fashionish,” which tells you how I felt about my clothes. But now, I was having fun on our last snow day of the year looking for something new. I titled this page, “Style Mavens!” https://www.pinterest.com/mpjamma/style-mavens/

As soon as she walked in the door, I knew Andrea had my number. We talked a little over tea and then we got to work. The first thing I asked her was, “How many pairs of khaki pants does one need?” She zipped through my walk-in closet in no time, pulling out things she thought were outdated, or just didn’t look like “ME.” How did she know me so well? We made a special spot for “Vintage,” and another for Caribbean vacations. I no longer needed Black-Tie event dresses, and besides these heavily sequined silk numbers had seen a moth, or two. And also I’ll never see size 6 again.

It was such a relief this closet cleanse. Andrea told me she didn’t really think I needed much help putting outfits together (thank you dear), although we did do some mixing and matching. She piled all my old clothes in her car and was going to donate some and start a consignment account for me at a local shop with the others. I looked around and took a deep breath. I’d found things I forgot I had, clothes I never could find because I couldn’t move the hangers, beautiful blouses and pants that fit! She was a miracle worker, and she inspired me to keep going.

Sweaters were next. I posted a picture of the first sweater I ever knit on Facebook. I was trying to finish it in England and wore it through the metal detector in Heathrow with a stitch holder in my neck. That set off all the alarms and prompted my first full body search at an airport. I paired it in the 80s with a long, flowy skirt and Goth boots. I wanted to crowd source the question, “Keep or Donate?” Ms Cait, my new Daughter-in-Law, loved it and so I’ll be shipping it to LA pronto.

We all deserve our own “What Not to Wear” consultation at least once in our lives. My old friend and clutter counselor Betsy didn’t live around the block anymore. Anyone going through a transition – selling a house, losing weight, spring cleaning or just plain suffering from FOTO the dreaded Fear of Throwing Out – could benefit from a kind, professional helping hand. This coming weekend is the VA Book Festival, and now I can look less like a conflicted writer in yoga pants, and more like a confident writer in casual chic street wear! Thanks Andrea! 

This is the “Before” picture she wanted. Notice how clothes are barely able to breathe? Final pictures coming soon!  IMG_0172

Read Full Post »

Things are springing up around our little house. Crocus are about to bloom, daffodil leaves are reaching for the sun, and temperatures have been hovering around 70. No bugs or humidity yet; “This is what California is like all the time,” I said to Bob in my most ingratiating tone of voice.

When we were living in New England, this time of year was called “Mud Season.” Snow was melting and everyone coveted a “mud” room, a place to ditch your dirty clothes and hats and gloves and boots before entering your house. The rest of the country might call this a back porch. But Berkshire sentimentality aside, I love seeing bluebirds playing on my deck. Spying a Tiffany-blue breast makes me want to break out in song!

Bob breaks out the tractor and the gardening tools. For him, this is pruning season. When we built this house we picked out every tree and shrub, which means we now must keep them from enveloping us entirely. My French friend looked us up on Google earth and said we must live in a forest, and she’s right. Our tract of land demands constant vigilance! A herd of deer trim our most succulent new growth all winter, and now it’s time for Bob to play his part.

The viburnum, the hydrangeas, the crepe myrtles! No one is immune to Bob’s pruning shears, loppers and hedge trimmers.

Ms Bean must do her part too. She refuses to come in when all the gardening work begins. She offers up a tiny dead field mouse to our back door, while Bob shows me an abandoned bird’s nest at the front door. These “gifts” are received calmly, while I check to see if anyone has taken up residence in the bluebird houses Great Grandpa Hudson put up years ago. Anyone that is, besides the flying squirrel who scared me half to death with her bulging black eyes!

But usually I prefer more indoor activities. The National Men’s Indoor Tennis championships have been taking place at our gym, so exciting matches are on the docket all the time. And when I’m not watching tennis, I was learning how to string and knot pearls this past weekend. It’s slightly meditative once you get the hang of it. It’s an escape from the news.

When a friend told me she and her husband were in a Jewish Community Center yesterday when a bomb threat was phoned in, I didn’t realize it was one of many seemingly coordinated around the country. And I wondered if the Love Bug’s preschool was shut down again for the third time since Mr T’s inauguration. And a knot formed in my stomach, the kind that’s always there whenever I try to suppress an emotion.

I wonder how a president who shouts down an orthodox reporter and scolds him for asking  a complex question about anti-semitism, only to bring up his polling numbers again and again can possibly protect this nation and heal our divided people.

Here is my second attempt at knots, with pearls and lapis – a “so-called” selfie/portrait with Bean and an old gardening broom in the background. img_0119

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve been thinking about immunity lately. Why is it that some of us never seem to “catch” a cold? While the rest of us succumb to the slightest bug going around. Why did I develop an anti-immune disease (Guttate Psoriasis) at 60 that normally shows up at 30? Maybe it’s just that since we returned from Mexico, illness has descended on my house like a plague. Today, Bob was diagnosed with pneumonia, about a week after I started feeling “normal” again. Ah, the wonders of antibiotics.

It’s well known in my family that the Flapper gave Bob the original hospital bill of my birth when we married. She stayed in the hospital for 11 days in 1948; remember I was baby number six, and the only one born in a hospital, so the doctor thought she needed a rest. My parents were charged a dollar a day for the nursery, $11 for my care and feeding. And at the bottom of the hospital bill was a section for penicillin charges. Antibiotics were so new, they had an important, separate spot on the bill!

WWII brought us not only the bomb, but the quick development of antibiotics. Eisenhower wanted enough penicillin to treat his soldiers after the Normandy invasion and so the original strain, discovered in England in 1929, had to be made and marketed on a mass scale in the United States after we entered the war.

On March 14,1942, the first patient was successfully treated for strephtococcal septicemia with U.S.-made penicillin. Half of the total supply produced at the time was used on that one patient. By June 1942 there was just enough available to treat ten patients.

Just 10 patients in 1942! According to legend history a good strain was found on a moldy cantaloupe in Illinois and our Army doctors (along with Merck) managed to synthesize 300 billion units by D-Day 1944. Pretty amazing in just two years. Which is why our parents were so hypochondriacal. The Greatest Generation grew up without antibiotics, afraid of every cold and scratch their children suffered because in an instant, the grim reaper might appear at anyone’s door. My foster father Jim often talked about his sister who died when her older brothers were swinging her, holding her arms and legs, upstairs in the attic. Just fooling around, having fun. A splinter in her back became infected and that was that.

Which leads me to another kind of immunity, something called “psychological immunity.” In this Atlantic article http://m.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/308555/ the author tries to explain why our 20-30 year old adult children are so unhappy, even though their parents did everything they could for them…and there’s the answer. We parents are doing too much, and not allowing our children to learn some pretty simple lessons – like picking yourself up, brushing yourself off and deciding that that wasn’t so bad and I can take care of myself alright. “Well intentioned parents have been metabolizing their child’s anxiety” for so long that once they are unleashed on the world, they don’t know how to handle its ups and downs.

It’s like the way our body’s immune system develops,” he explained. “You have to be exposed to pathogens, or your body won’t know how to respond to an attack. Kids also need exposure to discomfort, failure, and struggle. I know parents who call up the school to complain if their kid doesn’t get to be in the school play or make the cut for the baseball team. I know of one kid who said that he didn’t like another kid in the carpool, so instead of having their child learn to tolerate the other kid, they offered to drive him to school themselves. By the time they’re teenagers, they have no experience with hardship. Civilization is about adapting to less-than-perfect situations, yet parents often have this instantaneous reaction to unpleasantness, which is ‘I can fix this.’

It’s hard not to try and fix everything. It looks like it will take more than chicken soup this time to get Bob back on his feet. Thank you General Eisenhower! And thanks to the universe for our last, hopefully, snowstorm.

IMG_0259

 

Read Full Post »

A six worded memoir of Spring so far:

1) Magical

2) Cultural

3) Artisanal

4) Minimal

5) Verdantly

6) Comical

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: