Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

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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Lucky me. Bob and I are flying today and even though we traveled to DC to obtain a Global Entry pass, and we are TSA pre-checked, I was randomly selected for “additional screening.” Which means Bob sailed through the metal detector while I told the nice TSA guy I won’t be scanned in their machine and had to wait for the female pat-down agent.

Life is funny that way.

I was talking with Great Grandma Ada about the crossroads we take in our lives. She had the chance when she was newly married to Bob’s father, to move to a lake community in NJ and join a country club. Her friends were building something new because in those days almost all clubs were “restricted.” That meant no Jews allowed.

Because her father owned a small bungalow colony with a big Victorian house for her sisters and their families, she opted out of the lake house. And looking back, which we tend to do as we age, she wishes her sons had learned to sail on the lake.

Instead they made different memories – skating on the frozen pond with their grandfather and tending to a bountiful vegetable garden.

There were a number of crossroads in my life. The most important may have been when I decided to stay in NJ and work as a semi-social worker. I’d been dating a guy who was a friend of my brother, and he was heading to California for a doctoral program. I was living near that lake at the time, and he asked me to go with him.

My foster father Daddy Jim was dying and I said “No.” That’s when Ada saw me at the hospital, visiting my Dad every night. Driving back to the lake from Jersey City. And the rest is history.

If I were religious, I’d say nothing is random. If I were scientific, I’d say chaos is inevitable. I’m more of an agnostic, and I try to learn from the universe.

Here is a son teaching his 93 year old mother a few tricks on her iPad!  C35B0D13-F3DF-43D9-B59A-309A1AC9B1CF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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  1.  There is nothing better than women in pink pussy hats coming together in Washington, DC to speak their minds, run for office, and begin the #MeToo movement
  2. Well, maybe the Rocker and Aunt Kiki’s wedding was at the top of my happiness list; a magical, mystical Palm Springs wonderland with family
  3. I’m not afraid to ask for help. Hiring a stylist to help me organize my closet, and a concierge to help with the move were important and essential decisions
  4. I CAN DO a Passover Seder – of course, it will never be like Great Grandma Ada’s but it was a good first attempt
  5. My fear of travel was replaced by my love for the South of France, and Mario and Claudio’s perfect pairings of market tours and cooking classes
  6. Downsizing and moving from the country to the city of Nashville in the summer was daunting, but those grandbabies are so worth it; and I learned to hold on to the bannister while going downstairs
  7. And finally, as I approach seventy with my best friend by my side, I realize that we’re in this for good, bad and ugly. And my intention for 2018 is to strive for the Good!

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Sorry to be quoting a Russian, but we spent a recent evening at an art show to benefit the Love Bug’s school. And because we had a mini-tour the day before with Nancy and Great Grandma Ada, who has converted her family room into an art studio, we had a long conversation with one of the Lost Boys from South Sudan. James Makuac paints memories from his dreams of Africa. They are bright, vivid colors, and some are not for the faint of heart. http://jameskuolmakuac.tumblr.com

His work is about resilience, about people fleeing their homes in the midst of war, walking through rain with the ubiquitous yellow water barrel on a woman’s head.

And I thought of all the artwork my Sister-in-Law Anita collected over the years. She left my brother Dr Jim surrounded with bright California images and fragile pieces of art glass. He loved her with all his heart, their last years together spent tenderly caring for each other, collecting Amish quilts on sunny rides through the country. And as we tried to organize, to make sense of her collections, it dawned on me that she too was trying to recapture her home. To bring the Northern California aesthetic into her Twin City life.

And I wondered yet again, what will my children do with the things I leave behind? Will they find them beautiful, or will they be a burden?

One night, in the midst of my visit to Dr Jim’s MN home, we watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. It opens with the abundance of cheap stuff people fight over the day after Thanksgiving. And the take-away is that we should:

“Use things, and Love people!”

The Bride had wanted me to see the film, because she thought Bob and I are heading in that minimalist direction, divesting of “stuff” and living a simpler life in our two bedroom town home. And it is somehow freeing, to put out on a table or up on a wall only those things I love, that bring me joy.

For instance, I have an Irish ceramic vase that had lived its life on display in my VA guest bedroom, one of four bedrooms. It is now happily holding utensils on my small kitchen counter. I couldn’t part with it because it had been a gift from my Irish cousins, but I also loved its line. To me, it is beautiful.

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The world will be saved by beauty.” He also said

By interpreting freedom as the propagation and immediate gratification of needs, people distort their own nature, for they engender in themselves a multitude of pointless and foolish desires, habits, and incongruous stratagems. Their lives are motivated only by mutual envy, sensuality, and ostentation.

Maybe our country needs to adopt a new interpretation of freedom, because the American dream, like all dreams, is changing. We need to stop loving cheap shiny objects that appear at Walmart and on our Twitter feed, and make a point of listening to the people we love. Finding the truth in another’s story. Understanding why we are in Niger. Stop fighting proxy wars, and search for beauty in the world, and not on Google.

Painting by James Makuac




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I was going to write about my trip to Minnesota. I was going to write about feeling like a kid again with my big brother and sister. I was going to write about minimalism…https://www.netflix.com/title/80114460

“People dedicated to rejecting the American ideal that things bring happiness are interviewed in this documentary showing the virtues of less is more.”

But because of the latest Hollywood scandal involving Harvey Weinstein, my Facebook feed yesterday became a communal confession from friends and family. Women I know and love proclaiming that they too, at one or maybe more times in their lives, had been sexually assaulted. I was sitting in the MN airport at my Nashville gate, feeling the love and courage of these women, and so I typed into my smart phone #MeToo

The first time when I was playing alone in the woods across the street from Nell and Jim’s Victory Garden’s home. I had jerry-rigged a seesaw with a tree trunk and a rock when I looked down the hill to a car that was slowing down. The man had his pants down around his ankles, we locked eyes and he sped off. I used to think that maybe I’d imagined it, because I was too young to understand it.

The second time I was about ten years old. My brother’s friend offered to take me horseback riding. My brother is 7 years older, so he was either 16 0r 17. He picked me up at our house, and I was sitting in front of him on the saddle. I’m literally shaking right now typing this. He exposed himself to me. When I got home I told the Flapper what had happened, she called the police and we went to his house to confront him with his parents sitting there, in the living room.

I think they sent him away because I never saw him again. Thinking back, I learned about courage and honesty from my Mother. I knew something was wrong, I was sobbing. She believed me.

The third time I was a teenager sleeping at a friend’s house, when a guy crawled into the bed. I woke up and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. He left.

The fourth time I was going for a test ride with a car salesman to buy my very first new car in Jersey City. I was 21, a pre-school teacher in the Fremont Street projects.

I could keep going, but you get the drift. I was never raped, but my innocence was taken away. I was never hit on by a boss, most likely because I worked as a teacher and so my supervisors were always women back in the day. And I credit my beautiful big sister Kay, who was an airline “stewardess,”  for teaching me how to handle touchy-feely guys – you tell them you are flattered, but you’ve (insert the best excuse here for why you don’t want anything to do with them). I learned early to use humor and to flatter a man’s ego, in order to keep his hands off of you.

This Weinstein story, coming on the heels of Bill Cosby, may be the tipping point for this all too common phenomenon. I believe our generation taught our sons to do better, to BE better. To respect women, and honor their wishes.

It’s ironic that I remember walking through an airport, this time in Memphis, while watching Anita Hill testify on TV monitors scattered through the gates. I felt so helpless, like a lone woman in a sea of people who couldn’t care less about her experience. Today we women hold up half the sky, and men are listening.



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