Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Travel Nashville’

Ibsen’s dollhouse it’s not.

But like Nora, I’ve left my serene mountain retreat behind for a week of city life. And since this city is the cathedral for American music, we seem to have picked a particularly jam-packed weekend to be here.

Bonnaroo is happening outside of town https://www.bonnaroo.com/lineup/ Our Jersey Shore girl Nicole Atkins is playing this year.

In town we have the CMA Fest http://www.cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival/ with tons of free music everywhere.

And of course since last night was a full moon, we all had to go to the Full Moon Pickin Party for the Friends of Warner Park. We arrived early with the Bride and Groom to meet friends and neighbors for a tailgate cocktail/supper soiree. There were food trucks galore inside the gates and so many musicians I lost count.

As we spread out our blanket and set up the Pack n Play last night for an adorable 7 month old baby boy, I was reminded of going to Tanglewood with our babies in Lenox, MA. I would make some newfangled cold strawberry soup, my friend Lee would bring the main course and another friend might bring dessert. We had elaborate wicker picnic baskets, real plates and sometimes brought candles. Listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra each summer conducted by Seiji Ozawa under the stars was a high point of our life in the Berkshires.

Last night we had a total of nine kids running through fields, catching fireflies, petting multiple dogs, and climbing sand hills. We even got to see Jupiter through a telescope with her moons. Bluegrass and country music filled the air but it was really the fellowship of fun-loving, happy people that filled my heart.

Nashville is a particularly friendly city; you can start talking with a complete stranger at a sidewalk cafe and feel like you’ve known each other for years after paying your bill. Yes, that happened. He talked about calling the wrong “Holly” on his cellphone, which led to catching up and an invite to see U2 at Bonnaroo. We talked about serendipity, and how we must sometimes just jump into that stream and go with the flow as trite as it may sound.

Jumping may be out of the question now, but we are walking everywhere! And a beach house is still in the works once we’ve settled into city life. I wish we had a “summer home,” a family place for generations at a lake or a beach that our grandparents may have built. My family’s summer home on Lake Wallenpaupack in PA has been long gone since my Father’s death, though I do have a memory of roaming the gardens in my First Holy Communion dress and veil. Bob’s grandparents, Russian immigrants, created a bungalow colony on some land in NJ. It was called “Four Bridges” and sheltered Great Grandma Ada and her sisters’ families for many summers. Unfortunately, that parcel of land just sold last month!

Feeling wistful about a summer home after reading “Maine” by J. Courtney Sullivan. It’s  about an Irish Catholic family’s summer cottage and the secrets of its matriarch who is masterfully drawn. It touches on three generations of women, and the expectations society and religion placed on them. One character, in fact, is obsessed with building dollhouses! Like Ibsen, the juggling act we women must do to navigate a marriage and children hasn’t changed all that much. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/books/review/book-review-maine-by-j-courtney-sullivan.html

Today, with professional women the journey can be more complicated than ever – because we still do the “mental” work of a household. The scheduling of doctor appointments, the camp and school related activities, the meals, the grocery list….even the best dads seem to need direction when it comes to domestic chores (sorry Bob). Still, our stellar Groom is right in the thick of it, on daddy duty all weekend while the Bride sees the results of all the music-alcohol-related-accidents…

Speaking of which, I’m very careful walking down the stairs of this townhouse.

IMG_0778

 

 

 

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 »

Months ago I heard about a nifty new strategy for robbers and thieves. They would roll up next to your car at the gas station, and while you’re busy filling up your tank with gas (just ignore this my NJ peeps, everyone else in the states has to pump their own gas) the bad guys will drive up next to the passenger side of your car, and in one swift move jump out, open up your door and boom, snatch your purse right off the seat! Seems like easy pickins, right? So I’ve been locking my car doors while gassing up ever since, just in case.

But one time in Nashville I didn’t see this hustle coming. The Bride was outside her car filling up the tank, while I stayed inside in front talking to the Love Bug in the back seat. All of a sudden there was a young girl at my open window telling me a sob story about how she had to get somewhere and just needed a few bucks for gas. Naturally I gave her a five dollar bill for gas, and later the Bride told me I’d been had. In retrospect, she did look like a meth addict, but hey.

But I was not surprised this past week. In the middle of my zombie/like/9hour/driving/trance on my way back from Nashville at a Sheetz, I was struggling with the monitor on a gas pump. It took my credit card info and I was about to enter my zip code when it asked me if I wanted a car wash??? Normally I’d press the “No” button – only there was NO “NO” button! So I’m trying to figure out how to get back to the initial screen, when all of a sudden a man who I can only describe as a lunatic is staring me right in the face.

With my car locked and only a gas hose between us, he starts telling me how he needs some money to get back to West VA!This guy, who looks like the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart, hauls a big red gas can up for me to see and what? fill it up for him? I can’t even get my own gas, which is what I start yelling at him – “I can’t get this damn thing to work, so NO…” and he gets out of my face in a hurry. Probably the first crazy Yankee nana he’s ever encountered! As I drive out of the Sheetz, I notice a beat-up van with a woman who looks like the wife of the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart sitting in its open door. She’s holding one of those cardboard signs with a message I didn’t read.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice? In retrospect, maybe I should have called the police. But I’d already called them on my drive to Nashville about an aggressive driver who almost ran a car off the road right in front of me. I didn’t need to become known as the interstate watchdog/vigilante/nana, so I found a Starbucks, which is like finding an oasis in the desert on that trip, and refueled my engine. One non-fat, Chai tea latte later, and I was home free.

"Yeah so then what happened?"

“Yeah so then what happened?”

They are searching in Orange County today for Alexis Murphy and another missing girl. The last place Alexis was seen was at a gas station. Maybe NJ has the right idea after all?

Read Full Post »

How to Evade Ebola by Flying Yourself!

A man for all seasons, Bob is also a private pilot. I haven’t flown with him in awhile, for many reasons. But mostly it’s because the weather has to be perfect, and I have to have a destination in mind. Like the Love Bug. You won’t find me flying over to Newport News for lunch. And also there’s this, I just don’t like flying! But yesterday, I squeezed myself into the plane.

Pre-flight Check

Pre-flight Check

Me:  The interior looks great! Ouch, oh yeah I forgot I’ve got to take my earrings off before I put the headset on. Thinking to myself – Let’s see where can I stow them? Can’t reach my bag in the back… wait, I’ll just clip them onto my necklace.

Bob:  What? Here you’ve got to have the mic right up to your mouth, like this, like you’re kissing it

Me:  OK, are we clear? What about those clouds?

Bob:  We’re clear to 9,000 ft. Those clouds are around 5

Me:  Good, so it’s smooth sailing?

And it was pretty smooth, the clouds underneath us looked like marshmallow fluff, until I noticed a little red button light up and Bob started fooling around, quickly, and he’s never quick in the cockpit, with the throttle and the landing gear

Me:  What’s up? (said meekly and like I didn’t know something was wrong). Thinking to myself – we are 9,000 ft in the air and the landing gear isn’t supposed to come down until we descend in another 200 miles or so

Bob:  We’re just going to slow down a little  

Me:  Straining to read the red button on Bob’s panel – WARNING GEAR UNSAFE!   

Warning Light

Warning Light

Bob:  The door’s probably not fully closing (the Piper Arrow has retractable wheels, and the doors to said wheels were just replaced in its annual)

Me:  Thinking to myself – So this is it, we’ll have to fly around the airport to burn off all the fuel and then land on foam, if Charlottesville even has foam to put down on the runway, and we’ll make the local news, there will be fire trucks…

Bob:  We’ve got three green (which means all three wheels have come down) so it’s not a problem.

For an emergency physician/pilot, nothing is a problem. These people are the epitome of cool under pressure. Remember the voice recording of Sully landing in the Hudson? That’s Bob, telling me there’s nothing to worry about.

It wasn’t like flying around the Jersey Shore this time of year, with its kaleidoscope of pink and red cranberry bogs. But it was autumn in the Shenandoah Valley and beautiful just the same. It is also Homecoming weekend for UVA, so yesterday we landed amid the Big Jets with all their private pilots in uniform hanging around talking about who was getting enough sleep.

There wasn’t another plane in the sky all the way from Nashville, but three hours later and finally on the ground – all three green down – our little four-seater Piper was the poor relative to the top 1% of the 1% of alums flying in to see the Hoos play the Heels.

Me:  Perfect landing. Thanks honey, that beats 9 hours in the car!

Bob:  Smiling, thinking to himself – I’m gonna call that mechanic first thing Monday morning.  IMG_1478

 

Read Full Post »

Ms Bean is following me everywhere, if she loses me again I might never come back, right? Like the Love Bug following her Mama around when she returned after five days; we had to watch her go out to the alley and bring back the garbage cans. At the zoo, the first few rounds on the carousel were thrilling, but then wait, Mama kept disappearing. It wasn’t until my grandbaby turned around to watch the Bride growing smaller and smaller in the distance that she’d had enough. Time to slow this thing down.

And the seasons they go round and round

I listened to some amazing This American Life podcasts on the nine hour drive home. I even enjoyed the interview on NPR with an author about a new book about the Koch brothers, “Sons of Wichita.” http://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/314574217/how-the-koch-brothers-remade-americas-political-landscape

And the painted ponies go up and down

But hearing about China, and the demise of their socialist system after a famine wiped out food supplies and farmers stopped growing crops for their collective farms and started planting for their families was fascinating. After the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese people lived by Chairman Mao’s little red book. It was the fastest and most sweeping political and social upheaval in history. Everyone lived for the common good of the Chinese people, a class system was virtually erased overnight.

We’re captive on the carousel of time

Then just as suddenly, with starvation came rebellion again. And so the savvy Communist leaders co-opted a kind of free market system – the Chinese term for ambition, “Wild Heart,” was no longer considered blasphemy. It was allowed, the Wild Heart was set free in every person to follow their passion, and a kind of well choreographed authoritarian capitalism was born.

We can’t return we can only look

Behind from where we came

I saw this morning that the Wild Heart is catching on in Tehran, where a bunch of teenagers posted a video dancing to Pharrell’s song “Happy.”

And go round and round and round 

In the circle game 

 

Read Full Post »

Christmas used to be tough for me. Once the kids left home, Bob continued to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas, and I was left to my druthers. Sometimes, a newly divorced friend might join me at the movies, but most times I was on my own to ponder the meaning of the universe. Now that the Bride has followed in her dad’s footsteps, she finds herself working on Christmas too. And lucky for me, I get to hang out with the Love Bug in Nashville, my own personal little Christmas elf.IMG_2317

Yesterday, she took me to the most amazing puppet show at the Nashville Public Library. http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/john-updikes-a-childs-calendar-at-the-library/Content?oid=1203840

Updike’s A Child’s Calendar is an illustrated collection of twelve poems describing a child’s life as the weather changes and the year goes by. This staging is the brainchild of Brian Hull, the Nashville Library’s director of children’s programming, who transforms Updike’s collection into a musical show populated entirely by child-sized puppets. Hull’s puppet fixation is part of a Nashville tradition dating back to 1938, when longtime library associate Tom Tichenor first began holding marionette shows at the main branch.

The puppeteers are dressed entirely in black while they manipulate an old man puppet and a young boy going through each magical month around a growing tree on stage. Birds fly overhead, and blossoms rain down from the sky. At one point a real boy tried crawling up on stage to catch a blossom, and the puppet motioned him away! The Love Bug danced and watched every move with wonder, her eyes open wide. I wanted to cry, with joy. Because this is one of those things we’ve forgotten as adults. The sheer delight of everyday life as seen through a child’s eyes. Here is what Updike had to say about January:

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees’ black lace.

The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.

Christmas holds hidden delights for everyone with children of a certain age. Some are watching a little elf who appears on a shelf every morning. He helps Santa keep track of every single child, naughty and nice. Some are going to see the Nutcracker for the very first time. And some are attending puppet shows and cuddling with their Nana. Instead of sugar plum fairies, grandparents galore are coming to visit!

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone! And tornado warnings or not, don’t forget that family comes first…and after that an egg nog latte helps. Cheers.

Read Full Post »

Our mountain house is too quiet.No more Love Bug yelling , “MA” at the top of her voice, no more breakfasts for five or Mozart in the morning.

When my kids were little, we would get in the car and immediately chaos would descend about who claimed the shot-gun seat, which radio channel we’d tune into, whether we would stop at 7-Eleven on our way to the beach every morning, why the Corgi can’t come, etc. And usually by about halftime I’d holler “Let’s have some Ps and Qs.”  Peace and Quiet.

I’m not sure how or why that worked, but they both knew that those little words meant Mom had had enough. Before there were smart phones and iPads and Apps, and Disney videos strapped into the back of every car seat or hanging projector-like from a Suburban,  we parents had to rule the roost…while driving. Bickering died down and actual conversations might just happen. In fact, parents everywhere should take note, some of the very best conversations ever with your kids may just take place in your car! There is nothing like a captured audience.

But when all else fails, then and now, we sing! Our Love Bug is a Nashville baby.

Because the mere thought of strapping a one year old into a car seat that resembles a NASCAR engineering project for 9 hours of driving is my idea of family torture, so we sing. One year olds can’t tell you they have a dirty diaper, they can’t say “Id like to lay down for my nap now if you don’t mind,” they can’t point out the 7-Eleven and ask for a Slurpee. Babies lack the vocabulary to express their storm of emotions. But this baby loves to sing, yes she’s even starting to hum along with us!

So I’ve got to hand it to the Bride and Groom for their courage and creativity on this trip. For endless rounds of Old MacDonald and Baby Beluga. For not being too upset when they learned that I thought the Bug might like playing with her food. Which she did! For loaning me their precious little girl full of sunshine and light for a little while.

For helping me to realize that peace and quiet isn’t such a great idea after all.

photo copy 2

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »