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Here’s how it all started.

I was Wonder Woman this past weekend. I decided I needed an alias to care for the Grands, so I donned my new Brian Nash tee shirt of Diana Prince in her tiara. It worked!! Particularly for the three year old, he was perfectly happy to let me be in charge, and I tried my best to be a benevolent ruler.

I decided who would go first up and down the stairs.

I told the Love Bug that mud doesn’t “accidentally” get thrown on her brother, and she should apologize…like she means it.

And I told them both that if someone throws mud on them, they should throw mud back!

I agreed with their Father that we won’t “kill” bad guys, but we put alot of them in jail.

We learned that if we want to do something really really bad, that whining about it doesn’t make it happen.

The Love Bug said that singing more than one song at bedtime would be preferable. I sang four – two in Yiddish and two in English.

And I had NO idea how much they loved broccoli!

So today, as I was relaxing at my house, doing laundry and walking Ms Bean as usual, I heard about the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. I thought to myself, how can they have a roast of a President who has absolutely NO sense of humor? It makes zero sense. And I happened to see Anna Navarro skewer a Republican about Mr T’s misogynistic remarks on CNN, and the hypocrisy of the Trumpeteers.

Anna said that Latinas would kill each other if they even tried to do a comic roast, and I thought, yep Jews would also kill someone. Bashing somebody’s looks or their family or their competence would definitely be a death sentence. OTOH, in my Irish family, this sort of thing happened every day!

It was much ado about nothing for me. How can you find ANY humor in this presidency? The best bet would be to just put off the WHCD until we elect someone with a soul. And then I went to Whole Foods to shop for Cinco de Mayo.

We are hosting a neighborhood celebration and I will be teaching folks how to make my famous “Mango Tomatillo Salsa!” As I was checking out, I was impressed that the young man knew what tomatillos were, but even more impressed with the young woman bagger who remembered the code number. I told her my husband was also good with numbers.

“He still knows the phone number from my college dorm,” I said with pride.

Then she asked if we’d met in college, and I said, “Not exactly, we knew each other in high school but he went to Woodstock.” I usually have this sad, semi-sarcastic look on my face whenever I mention this split in the space-time universe of our lives, and she said semi-seriously:

“What’s that? Is it like Burning Man?”

The young man, who was a musician of course, gave her the same look I did. Incredulous. And I thought to myself, okay, I’m officially OLD. I’m that old person who is so cute but makes no sense. Who makes Google Maps route me without highways. Who pulls into parking spaces so she can pull out face first. Who is always losing her cell phone and forgetting her umbrellas all over town.

But I can still laugh at myself, and I can still relish a good joke. Changing lies to ashes to eye shadow was a great line about the Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is pretty astute at changing direction while her voice is like chalk on a chalkboard. And I won’t pick up the feminist card here, she is deserving of derision. GOP women can be just as deluded as men on policy issues.

“She is a fan of fantasy football, New Kids on the Block and the television show “Mad Men.”

All things I abhor. Maybe because I lived that Mad Men world, and it wasn’t pretty. Or funny. I’d rather be Wonder Woman, any day.

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Morning grammar nerds! And you know who you are. I must admit I no longer watch “Presidential” press conferences, but I just couldn’t resist Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer, and so I occasionally tune-in just to see what nonsense the White House is dishing up today; or, as I like to ask Bob over my first cup of coffee, “Damage report?”

Well bless his heart, yesterday poor Sean was trying to soften Mr T’s words on Twitter yet again, by placing his fingers up and gesturing “air quotes” around the word “wiretapping.” In other words, the middle school bullies really are running the show up on the Hill.

Everyone knows air quotes when they see them: the middle and forefingers of each hand wiggling to resemble quotation marks. Often accompanied by a spoken “quote-unquote,” they’re typically used to mock or disown the phrase they surround. They mean something “is ‘so-called,’” rather than real, the late William Safire, the great scholar of political language, once wrote. They cast “aspersion on the word or phrase that follows,” he said. “A sneer is built in.”             https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/14/an-investigation-of-air-quotes-mostly-used-to-discredit-the-other-sides-words-not-your-own-as-per-sean-spicer/?utm_term=.fe463b8a7442

And the funny thing is, even the Urban Dictionary knows that air quotes are so… one whole generation ago. “Used ad nauseam by ‘pretentious’ and ostensibly ‘intelligent’ university students, to advertise their ‘superior morals’ and ‘erudition’.” It’s like the thumbs-up sign, only worse, because air quotes exude privilege. They were (past tense) a preppy way to discredit those plebes beneath them, not in the way Sean tried to use them discrediting his boss’ words.

They belong to the 60s, where they should have stayed, along with Kellyanne’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band jacket. http://mentalfloss.com/article/80939/11-facts-about-sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band

“Walking back” their boss’ Tweets seems to be a full time job on the Hill. But trying to soften Mr T’s attack on President Obama is yet another distraction. Let’s NOT discuss special prosecutors and Russia’s “involvement” in our election. Instead, like a child, Mr T turns responsibility away from himself, to shift blame on his predecessor for “wiretapping” Trump Tower. Only now, he only meant general surveillance, like spying “microwaves.” Darn, it’s hard not to use real quotes when writing about this stuff!

I wonder if Mr T went to his grandchildrens’ Temple for Purim this past weekend? Maybe that’s why his Twitter fingers went quiet, after all the “wiretapping” and microwave memes the media consumed during the week. Ivanka’s children are 5, 3 and almost 1. These are perfect ages for Purim celebrations; my Nashville grandchildren had a blast dressing up like super heroes and attending a carnival at their Temple.

Purim is a feminist’s delight because it’s about a Jewish woman who kills an enemy of the Jewish people. Esther is one of many Persian queens, but she, like Moses, was adopted and was actually Jewish. Think about this for a second. Does Christianity have a holiday dedicated to a woman? As a child, I remember having lots of saints days named after women, celebrating martyrdom…not exactly the same. Esther had balls, she had chutzpah! We had the Annunciation, i.e. a fourteen year old girl is visited by an angel and told she will have a Virgin Birth…

Coming out of years spent celebrating Mass in Latin, I was happy to enter a Temple and make lots of noise at Purim. In fact, Purim was so much fun – mohn cookies shaped like Haman hats, dressing up like Halloween or Carnevale, and laughing and playing in the Temple – I’m pretty sure that it’s what sold me on Judaism.

But the irony of my grandchildren celebrating in a building that had to be evacuated because of bomb threats since this last election is not lost on me. The paradox of a holiday marking Jewish survival during the week another attempt at a Muslim travel ban was enacted is surreal. Putting air quotes around the words of our Commander in Chief is yet another small cut in the slicing up of our democracy.

Our President is being sarcastic; he doesn’t really mean what he says; that was just locker room banter; it’s “alternative facts.”

I believe we deserve a President who doesn’t need minions to explain his rhetorical Tweeting voice, and a Presidential Press Briefing, without air quotes. The American people don’t need to watch the “built-in sneer” from an Oval Office devoid of compassion. In fact, Andrea Mitchell is a modern day Esther, insisting on answers at press “briefings,” refusing to be escorted from a room. Maybe a pair of parentheses would help us clarify Mr T’s meaning, his intent. Instead of charging President Obama with a felony, he would be revealed in all his paranoia.

(sometimes, alone at Trump Tower, I felt like I was being watched). My tower study (an aviary that functions as my refuge), was warm and inviting this (freezing cold) morning. Here is the view of the (snowy Blue Ridge) mountains. Only hawks watch me write. IMG_0183

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s been much ado about something. The Director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigned, after being grilled by Congress and then skewered by the media. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/01/politics/secret-service-director-resigns/ How much did she know and when did she know it? These are always the two troubling questions surrounding Beltway Business.

We all watched President Roosevelt get shot and continue speaking during Ken Burns’ week, and some of us have lived through that horrific week in Dallas, watching President Kennedy’s motorcade again and again. Hoping beyond hope we’d wake from a nightmare. And then we had that close call with President Reagan.

We would all like to think our home is our castle, surrounded by an impenetrable symbolic moat. And the White House, why it must have many layers of defense – if not a real moat, fencing, dogs, Secret Service Agents patrolling the perimeter, right? Which is why of the series of bungles leading up to Pierson’s resignation, one breech seemed pretty lame.

I get that gunshots may have sounded like a car backfiring.

I could believe that a security guard might slip into an elevator with POTUS

And how many people have jumped the White House fence? 16 people over the last five years!

But the guard dogs. Now that was my last straw; not the elevator or the fence jumper. It was rumored that there was an incident with one of the highly trained attack dogs and our First Family’s dog, Beau. Supposedly the dogs were not patrolling because somebody asked that they be muzzled and kept in a certain area…Now I would agree that Beau should be the top dog IN the White House. But outside, in the Rose Garden and on the vast Lawn, that should be the K9 moat. Keep Beau on a leash, or make a secure run for him on a side portico – allow the guard dogs to work! Release the hounds!

Our guard dog has her work cut out for her. The mountain manse has been invaded by an attack cat, the lovely Ms Uli! Ms Bean is being hunted by tabletops and by windowsills, it’s a virtual Serengeti in here. And we’re doing what every normal pet owner knows to do, we’re letting them duke it out. Eventually, one or the other will become top dog/cat, and that will be that. I’m betting on my pretty little Grandcat, who thinks she’s a tiger in her mind.  IMG_1187

 

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The Briefing Room will be losing one of the sweetest White House Press Secretaries in recent years. Jay Carney, who btw looks like an altar boy I once knew, happens to be married to a fellow journalist, Claire Shipman. He told the morning news feed that he has two small children and he was missing too much of their lives! I almost spit up my coffee.

What a relief, to hear a man in a position of power say such a thing, proudly, bravely and without rancor. Is it just coincidence that Shipman and her co-author Katty Kay just published a book about the confidence gap between men and women? I recently wrote about “The Confidence Code” and a woman’s tendency to talk less in meetings and ruminate more; “tortured cycles of useless self-recrimination.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/fashion/katty-kat-claire-shipman-new-book.html?_r=0

Reminds me of Josh Levs, a CNN reporter, who recently fought CNN’s parent company Time Warner for equal paternity leave. Moms and adoptive parents were allowed 10 weeks family leave whereas dads only got 2 weeks paid leave. “It can’t be a conversation by women about women,” Levs said of resolving family-work conflicts. “In a country that prides itself on family values, we need to do a much better job of valuing families … and that includes fathers.”

One of the best things we women of the 60s and 70s did was to raise our sons to expect to be involved in their children’s lives. Millennials today want to not just be in the birthing room, they want to be present in the sturm and drang of childhood. Hooray I say! Let’s all lift our coffee cups to men who change diapers.

And to my honey, who stuck by me for 35 years as of tomorrow, I’d like to say in brief, “Cheers!” Even if he did hang one piece of wallpaper upside down a long, long time ago, he proved to be the most loving father and supportive husband in the world. For sitting with me in the family room while “sleep training,” for teaching them how to ride bikes and drive cars, for telling me countless times that everything would be OK, even after endless days of toddler turmoil and teenage angst. I salute you dear partner in life. And I’d pick you again, in a heartbeat!    IMG_0073

 

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It’s almost summertime and the living isn’t so easy. Today, the third Climate Assessment has been released by the White House, and our general prognosis isn’t so good. We’re heating up the planet, severe storms are increasing and seas are rising. It’s like a set-up for a sci-fi horror movie with Tom Cruise, only it’s real. But we all know that. I have a friend who lives in town and sold her car. She’s happy walking most places and discovered Charlottesville’s excellent transit system. She gets an “A” in my book! For the rest of us, I’m afraid we’re failing miserably.

Living a green life isn’t so hard and it’s not so new. Back in the late 60s when I was in college, we learned about chemical dyes that didn’t degrade in sewers. We knew how to compost, and in fact we did back in the Berkshires. In Windsor in the 70s I had a solar clothes dryer – I hung my babies’ diapers on a clothesline.

My old fashioned diapers

My old fashioned diapers

We were all children at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, and we felt an affinity for the land. The three Rs were real and we lived by them. I rescued my baby’s crib from the curbside, along with her rocking chair; we recycled all our friends’ baby clothes and toys. We planted a Victory Garden!

So what happened? The 80s happened. Right about the time we left the Berkshires, when the Rocker was just 2 and the Bride was 7, I noticed some distinct cultural differences. Maybe not as obvious as moving to the South, but strange just the same.

Moving back to suburban NJ from New England left me in super culture shock. Women thought I was odd because I mowed our lawn, with a push mower – was it because Bob didn’t do it or because we didn’t have a landscaping service? And I ground our coffee, with a coffee grinder… and I actually played with the kids on a field trip, instead of standing under a tree comparing nail polish. Reaganomics was the law of the land. If we didn’t eventually move closer to the beach, I might not have survived that transplant.

Ostentatious, obsequious wealth was flaunted by our neighbors with their MacMansions sitting nearly empty of furniture and their big SUVs in 3-car garages. I put up a clothesline even though one mom told me she didn’t think the town allowed them. We always believed in asking for forgiveness instead of permission. Then I got back to the business of reporting on town meetings and school budgets; interviewing interesting people and writing biographies.

And it didn’t much concern me when the town’s Annual Meeting on January 1st started with an Anglican minister and a prayer. He was a hospice preacher and an EMT who rode on the ambulance. His yearly prayer (they didn’t do this before every meeting) was pretty interfaith and profoundly peaceful.

But praying for this planet won’t stop our reliance on fossil fuels and the corrupt lobbying by corporations to keep the status quo.

The assessment warns that current efforts to implement emissions cuts and to adapt to changes are “insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences”. According to the White House, climate and weather disasters cost the US more than $100bn in 2012, the country’s warmest year on record.http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27296417

I’ve started following a Canadian climate scientist on Twitter, Katherine Hayoe @KHayhoe, along with Michael Mann the “hockey stick” scientist. She is sort of an anomaly since Hayoe is an Evangelical Christian, with a compelling world view. It would seem that religion and science CAN co-exist! Chris Mooney at Slate just wrote an excellent essay, “Why Should Evangelical Christians Care About Climate Change?”

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/05/conservative_christians_and_climate_change_five_arguments_for_why_one_should.html

Why indeed. Here’s one reason – our grandchildren.

Visiting with Great Grandmamas

Visiting with Great Grandmamas

The Bug's new-fasioned diapers

The Bug’s new-fasioned diapers

 

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On a morning when most of the news involves the ecstasy of Russian Olympics and the agony of its bordering state, Ukraine (where the city of Kiev is about to implode), the ratio of 1:5 is what sticks in my craw. According to the White House, one in five women in college will be raped. I don’t know about you, but I found this to be rather alarming.

Equally infuriating is that one in three teenage relationships has experienced dating violence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26263171

Our little town has been singled out recently for two contradictory things: 1) Charlottesville has been voted the second most “Friendliest” small city in America http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/friendliest-small-cities/; and 2) the One Love Foundation has developed a new App to help students and their friends assess their level of dating danger http://www.joinonelove.org.

Just weeks before her graduation from UVA in 2010, lacrosse player Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Her mother and sister have started the One Love Foundation in order to address dating violence and educate students about the signs and symptoms of a relationship on the brink of chaos.

The “One” represents the number Yeardley wore on her jersey during her high school and college lacrosse career. The number has since been retired by the University of Virginia in her memory.

The Bride volunteered at a rape crisis center on her Duke campus. And I’ve just found out that my cousin Anita, in Richmond is being trained as a volunteer advocate for rape and abuse cases in her local hospital’s Emergency Department. I was surprised at my immediate reaction to this news; I was proud of her at once, while knowing deep down I could never do it.

It pains me to admit it, but I know I would want the women to immediately leave their abuser, to get a restraining order, to go into the witness protection program if need be and move to Arizona. I’d buy the plane ticket! This is most likely the same reason I could never see myself becoming a psychologist, like my MIL Ada or my brother Dr Jim, it’s just not in my DNA to suffer for days and weeks and years on end vicariously with patients.

It’s not that I don’t feel compassion for the abused, but I would have trouble feeling empathy. I cringed when I wrote this, so I had to look up the word – empathy “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” And I guess it’s true, because I myself would be the first one out the door if a man ever tried to hit or rape me, I can’t really identify with women who stay. I learned to love from my foster father Jim Mahon, and it never included a raised hand or a harsh word.

And I get that the abuse comes on slowly, that the abuser is so remorseful and kind after the incident and soothes his victim into thinking it will never happen again; he just has to stop drinking so much or she just has to make his eggs a certain way. I know it’s a slow insidious dance of death – if not physical, an emotional disconnect from her family and friends that strangles any hope of salvation.

I wonder if an App can help a victim understand she is in danger, or can it help one of her friends in our friendly city to alert her parents or a counselor? If it can, then I applaud One Love, which means more than just a number on a jersey. If we never learn to cherish and love ourselves, we can never expect others to do the same.

yeardley

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