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Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

The big move was done in little pieces. We ferried small things over in our car piece by piece, the ubiquitous Pod was delivered and emptied by a team of BellHops, then finally Music City Movers emptied our townhouse. Ten days later I threw a Seder for family and friends – 17 altogether. To say I’m exhausted would be missing the point; I’m feeling like I got hit by a truck and I don’t have the flu….

Remember that book we all read years ago, required reading in every high school English class, “The Things They Carried.”

Twenty years ago, writer Tim O’Brien released a book of stories about young men and war, his war, Vietnam. Among many other things, he listed the weight of each soldier’s clothes, canteens and can openers. From the book: Every third or fourth man carried a claymore antipersonnel mine, 3.5 pounds with its firing device. They all carried fragmentation grenades, 14 ounces each. They all carried at least one M-18 colored smoke grenade, 24 ounces. Some carried CS or tear gas grenades. Some carried white phosphorous grenades. They carried all they could bear and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125128156

I’ve been reevaluating all the things I’ve carried around with me from my glory days as a new wife and mother in Massachusetts, to moving back to NJ when the Rocker was just 2 and unpacking was almost impossible, to building our small house overlooking the Blue Ridge in Virginia. Then finally the fantastical move to Nashville, leaving Bob to sell most of our furniture to the new owners of our house, while I stayed here on Nana duty.

Unlike Great Grandma Ada, who cocooned in her home for fifty years collecting the things her two sisters left behind, I’ve had ample opportunity to prune and shed the things that were weighing me down.

I still carry: some of the school papers from my children; the Bride’s baby dresses; a big, antique French cupboard; the heron and guinea hen prints, the kilt I was wearing when I first met Bob; my 1960s avocado green mixer; my 60s blue Dutch oven, the one I found in a store in Cambridge, MA, the same store I’d see Julia Child shopping in from time to time, it’s a heavy workhouse of a pot that found its way back into my heart during Seder prep; the oil painting the Bride did of us on Windsor Pond; the Rocker’s self-portrait from high school. All the old photographs.

And my beautiful desk, the one I’m writing on just now. I’ve missed it for 2 years.

I’ve carried all I can bear, but still the Bride insisted on “Marie Kondoizing” me. She dumped piles of clothes on my bed and asked me, one by one, if they sparked joy?! “Mom, you have two similar black Eileen Fisher dresses, which ONE do you want?”

I was resistant at first, but then I saw how my style, me weight, my essence had changed over the years. No woman wants to be stuck in the same hair style their whole life, and I could finally see that “Pittsfield-me” was too Laura Ashley, “Rumson-me” was too Lilly Pulitzer, and “Nashville-me” is something entirely different. I thanked my dated clothes for their faithful service and bid them farewell.

Bob has always traveled light, and so he was happy to see the Big Purge, but to my surprise he kept a few sentimental things of his own.

We are ready to tackle the garden now, to plant and transplant, to install the fairy house. I hope y’all had a wonderful Passover and Easter weekend and you’re looking ahead to blue skies and warmer days. Ms Bean has her favorite sunny spot on the porch, and I just might join her!

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It doesn’t matter who designs a border: Russia divided Berlin; the British carved up the Middle East and India; and we Americans decided that Texas would not become part of Mexico. Imperial powers have drawn lines based on ethnicity and/or religion for centuries, and bloodshed is the usual outcome. This past weekend, as we caught up with post-Thanksgiving errands and pre-Holiday shopping, migrants were tear gassed on our California border.

My immediate thought was “Kent State.”

And inbetween cyber-shopping with a bad head cold, I read that Russia thought this would be the perfect time to seize three Ukrainian ships! It seems that the ships were headed down the Kerch Strait, minding their own business, near the Russian-annexed waters of Crimea…ie Moscow crossed that border awhile ago. Vlad figures Nikki Haley has one foot out the door at the United Nations, and Mr T has his hands full with his paranoia and his “caravan,” so why not now?

I will often turn to poetry when the world is too much with me, and right now “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke fills the bill:

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.”

And I look at the travel section of the BBC and dream about a great escape. My whole family would like to visit Iceland and I’m not sure why; certainly the stark, brilliant scenery is one thing, but like traveling itself, it’s the people who can delight and inspire you.

There is a certain philosophy in Iceland that is similar to Great Grandma Ada’s mantra, “It will all press out.” Of course you must say this in Yiddish, and since her father was a tailor from Minsk, it makes sense. Icelanders call this , “Betta Reddast” which means basically that everything will work out alright in the end! For a very cold nation, they are an optimistic bunch. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180603-the-unexpected-philosophy-icelanders-live-by

And although Iceland is not likely to start a war over a borderline, they do have a natural, geographical phenomenon that is pushing the country apart ever so slowly. Climate change is threatening to submerse major cities around the world, but the good news is that Iceland is growing… if you don’t mind a little earthquake here and there.

The country sits on the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and those plates are slowly moving apart, widening Iceland by about 3cm per year and causing an average of 500 small earthquakes every week.

Our beautiful new niece and her family crossed the North Carolina border to visit us Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m hoping my virus didn’t return the favor when they traveled back over the mountains. Can you see the Bat Building in the reflection?

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I always worry a little when people describe their child as being “shy.” I’m a big believer in NOT labeling your kid, because once you tell them they are bad at math, that child will become math-challenged. Still, the nature/nurture conundrum does exist, and there’s a new mega-data study that ties up all our personality types into four simple categories! Turns out, being “reserved” is a thing.

“In a report published Monday in the journal ‘Nature Human Behavior,’ researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois identify four personality types: reserved, role models, average and self-centered.”  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2018/09/17/scientists-identify-four-personality-types/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f466d00f6e5f

Now I may want to ask my brother, Dr Jim, what he thinks of this, since he’s been administering the Myers-Briggs personality test for decades. But that test was developed in the 1940s using Jungian archetypes; this time a group of researchers simply plugged in an algorithm to a questionnaire for 1.5 million people in the US and Great Britain.

People who scored very high in extroversion but were below average in agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness were “self-centered.” Amaral put it in a “nontechnical way”: Some people are “jerks.” Teenage males were more likely than average to be self-centered, but this proportion decreased with age.

“These 18-year-olds are going to grow up,” Revelle said. “Except some people don’t grow up, and they become senior political statesmen.”

So a large number of narcissistic “jerks” choose a career in politics? I’m astonished!

Yesterday, to counter my increasing fury at men behaving badly, the Bride sent me a podcast. I’ve just listened to the first one, but I intend to listen to the whole series; written by an Obama speech-writer and Pod Save America contributor, Jon Favreau endeavors to explain the downfall of the Democratic Party and how we can fix it. It’s totally worth a listen: https://crooked.com/podcast-series/thewilderness/

I’ve read that activists actually confronted Sen Ted Cruz, a fine example of the self-centered type, at an Italian restaurant last night in DC, creating quite the stir chanting “We believe survivors.” He and his wife said “God bless you,” and left the restaurant after being seated but before ordering. I might have waited for them to finish the pasta course myself.

I’m slowly returning to my “average” state of affairs, feeling slightly rushed and overwhelmed by choices in the grocery store. At least the laundry is done. Just hoping our dear legislators do NOT rush this Kavanaugh nomination, and focus instead on rushing a bill to protect the Mueller investigation. Let’s keep our eyes on Russia and our feet to the fire (for my new Italian readers, it’s just an idiom).

Oh how I miss my friends and the sheep bells that would accompany this lovely breakfast table, and its wasps!

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This morning the Bride asked me if I’d heard any news yet today, or was I still blissfully unaware of American politics? Instead of sitting under the Tuscan sun, listening to sheep bells and sipping cappuccino, I was trying to get my Keurig to work while realizing we had no milk in the refrigerator. I know, poor me.

But I had powered up the NYT website on my phone last night and knew that the highly controversial SCOTUS nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, was in trouble for sexually assaulting a 15 year old when he was 17. At first I was confused; how would they delay his hearing until Monday when his accuser would speak? Wasn’t yesterday Monday? Jet lag can be a real problem when you’re on an Air France flight just a short hop from Florence to Paris, and then on to Atlanta for nine hours.

We arrived home in Nashville around 3 am this morning, Italian time. And “Scusa” for a minute, I’ve just returned from T’ai Chi!

But from what I’ve read about this predicament so far, the Republicans are in trouble. Do you remember the woman, Liz Seccuro, who received an apology letter from her rapist 20 years after the fact? It was 2006 and he was a new AA member and was making his amends to people, except this woman had him arrested, and they went to trial in Charlottesville. It was very big UVA news – the rapist went to jail. Fraternity hi-jinks, boys being boys? The victim later told a Cville reporter about that night when she was just 17 in 1984:

“This is what it feels like to die. I’m going to die here, and no one’s going to find me.”

Twenty-one years later, Seccuro tearfully says she knows the truth: “Part of you does die.”

http://www.readthehook.com/98246/cover-i-harmed-you-21-years-12-steps-later-rape-apology-backfires

I remember distinctly the first time I heard that phrase about boys. Some bully had pushed me off my bike In Victory Gardens, I was probably 7 or 8 years old. I broke my leg and spent the summer in a cast. It was the only time Nelly called another mom on the phone and told her “what for,” explaining what had happened.

“Boys will be boys,” the bully’s mother said, and the instant flash of anger I felt, at that moment, is still fresh. My budding realization that life wouldn’t always be fair for girls. The total ignorance, the indecency and hypocrisy of the GOP is mind-numbing today. #MeToo has seen more women than ever running for Congress, and if only Kavanugh withdraws, which I believe he will do before Monday, November is coming…we do NOT need another Anita Hill excoriation next week, nor will we stand for one.

Here is Saint Barbara standing on some guy’s head flanked by John the Baptist and some other dude! On a kinder and gentler note, do we purchase a Keurig or a Nespresso? Ciao!

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I promise I’ll get to Roseanne.

Lately, I’ve been telling myself we’re getting back to normal. Ms Bean is back to daylight savings time (our evening shift emergency vet tech pet sitter had her gleefully staying up all night). Now our senior dog is back to playing with her neighbor in the spotty sunshine, a delightful Lab-mix named Hodor, in the Quad.

Bob and I are heading back to the gym, reacquainting our muscles with some resistance and weights. Everyone in Nashville is complaining about Summer having appeared too soon – but we experienced two Springs, in TN and NJ, so we’re not feeling cheated. Oh, and my hubby has started flying a small plane again and picking up garbage.

You know about the once a year historic neighborhood Spring Cleanathon, but did you know that every month Bob joins a bunch of his fellow neat freaks with a bag and a grabber as they canvass our streets picking up trash? He’s made a few friends and they always end their excursion with free pizza at a local sports bar!

Did you know the author David Sedaris can spend up to eight hours a day picking up trash on the roads of his neighborhood in the English countryside? Last night I was left blissfully alone while Bob attended a monthly private pilot’s meeting, so I tried to multi-task – meaning I was reading a book AND listening to the radio/Sonos. Eventually, Terry Gross’ interview with Sedaris won out. The humorist talked about picking up garbage as an antidote to his OCD, and what he prefers to write about…

Instead, Sedaris prefers to write about “bad behavior” — both his own and others’. “Is it my fault that the good times turn to nothing while the bad burns forever bright?” he asks. http://wboi.org/post/forget-good-times-david-sedaris-far-more-interested-bad-behavior#stream/0

This morning, in my “damage report” over coffee, Bob told me we may have finally turned a corner as a country. He was referring to Roseanne’s Twitter feed and CBS’ swift response; she apologized for her “joke,” but like bad behavior this little mix of words may just follow her to her grave, and beyond.

It’s as if we’ve been adrift in a hurricane of political dirty tricks, with a president alone at the helm of his amoral leadership. He is a prevaricator, zigging and zagging around our allies and our enemies. Nikki Haley considers his unpredictable outbursts as leverage at the UN. But really, could Roseanne be the straw that saves our republic? Even Fox news is condemning her Twitter talk.

America just may have had enough of this new Mr T normal – this anti-intellectual, crude, narcissistic, bigoted free-for-all.  I couldn’t watch his speech last night in Nashville, we call BS. There is no place in our city for your childish outbursts.

But we did find a splash park for the Grands with ALL the Grands on hand. And that was nothing like normal, it was fabulous!

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No more Margaritas for, oops *with* lunch. No more hiking to the beach, our first excursion was a success! At first, all we could do was compare Mexico with our other Caribbean piece of paradise, but that’s just being sophomoric. And as we settled into the week, island fever took hold of my psyche. The sand there is the softest, finest pale beige, almost powdery. The people are the kindest, most helpful, hard-working. We loved being able to walk to two restaurants, and a small store.

And just in case we forgot bread, El Panaderia would ring his bicycle bell around twilight, offering freshly baked goodies! I felt like a child again, anticipating the ice cream truck in Victory Gardens.

And then I’d feel guilty, because there are parents in Parkland, Florida who will never see their children graduate. They won’t walk them down an aisle or touch their hair again. They will never be grandparents. But on the plane yesterday, coming back to real life, I started to hope again. After Mr T’s election, and the do-nothing Congress after Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas, I caught a glimpse of a student-led revolution in this country.

Fueled by Snapchat and Twitter. Facebook is so yesterday to these kids.

I wondered about all the gun-loving Americans who hate undocumented workers from Mexico, when they really don’t know anyone from Mexico. They worry about crime in Mexico, when they should really worry about their neighbor’s kid who may just go out and buy an AR-15 as easy as he might buy a candy bar. Parkland’s shooter bought 10 guns, legally; according to CNN:

A law enforcement source briefed on the investigation told CNN that Cruz had obtained at least 10 firearms, all of them rifles. Investigators are trying to track the purchases, which Cruz appears to have made in the past year or so, the source said.
Cruz bought two weapons from Gun World of South Florida in Deerfield Beach, said Kim Waltuch, the store’s CEO. She would not provide details on the types of guns he purchased or on the time frame, but said the sales followed normal protocol for Florida firearms purchases.
What if administrators and teachers and board members also walked out of their schools? What if education came to a halt in this country because enough people want their children to have the right NOT to live in fear of going to school, to learn. We could all just walk around Betsy deVos. The answer isn’t better active shooter drills or locks or no bump stocks or help for the mentally ill or whatever else the NRA would have us believe.
The answer, or at least imho the first step, is to reinstate the 1994 assault weapon ban that happened after Reagan was nearly killed (remember the Brady Bill?). Bill Clinton signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, and George Bush allowed it to expire in 2004. I’m sure if you asked both Bush presidents today, father and son, if they would like to resurrect this ban without a goddamn time limit attached, they’d probably say “YES.” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/when-bill-clinton-passed-gun-reform/488045/
Or maybe a child’s life is not quite as important as one presidential life?
So my piece of wisdom on this rainy, cold Nashville Wednesday is a bit of old fashioned Biblical verse: “From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength, Because of your adversaries, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.”
And I’ll drink to that.
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Good Morning from Mexico, where the sun is shining and the construction noise can be deafening. Bob and I are on stage one of the never-ending search for a beach house. Our grandchild magnet doesn’t have to actually be ON a beach, just close enough to count.

The last time we were in Mexico was for Great Grandma Ada’s 90th birthday bash. We traveled as a large family group and stayed at a luxury resort in Cabo San Lucas. There was whale watching and celebrating galore but it seemed like we were inside a cocoon made for Americans.

This time we rented a car in Cancun and drove 75 miles to Tulum. I found a beautiful new penthouse condo on AirBnB, and we don’t need a gym. Our stair master is the 3 flights of stairs we climb multiple times a day. We’ve been living la vida local.

When a streetlight turns red, a man steps into the square and serenades us with a trumpet!

We can ride our bikes to the Caribbean Sea through trails on the edge of a rain forest. The people here are genuine and kind. I’m surprised that most don’t speak English, but that is my bias showing. Mea Culpa. I love the greenery and the wildlife, agouti and pelicans and more. But most of all I loved visiting the Mayan ruins yesterday.

This archaeological site sits on the edge of a windswept cliff. It was first inhabited around 1500 years ago and was abandoned after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Once a walled city that was used for religious and economic purposes – the “common people” lived outside the walls – it is now a tourist Mecca. Like Stonehenge, its design helped the people keep track of the sun and the stars.

We were early and surrounded by a few tour groups of different languages. Still, there were moments when I felt I was  walking on sacred ground; you could touch the ancient stone, you could smell the sea. Iguanas poked their ancient heads out of the their temple nests.

We returned to our rooftop deck, to the WiFi of horrific news from the states. I am afraid we have become habituated to school shootings, to allowing our children to be sacrificed to the god of money and power for the NRA. If so, like the Mayan culture, America is on a path to extinction.

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