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A Southern summer is upon us. You can smell jasmine in the air. In this Time of Coronavirus, the days seem to creep by slower and more deliberately. First up: watering the garden right after breakfast because later in the day would be miserable; temperatures soar past 90 and the humidity is at extreme beach hair levels.

I’m feeling confined again, not just from this pandemic but also from the Nashville weather.

Luckily, Bob and I did manage to get out of the house this past holiday weekend. The Bride and Groom were cooking hot dogs and veggie burgers so we sat on one side of their expansive front porch. Two old grandparents in a pair of rocking chairs! After a week of hugs and kisses in Florida I’m bereft, we are again consigned to making a beating heart with our fingers and blowing kisses. Our first socially distant Fourth of July.

Even in the shade, and with fans whirring above our heads, sweat ran down my back. Even their two rescue dogs snuck back into the cool, air-conditioned house, abandoning food and family on the porch.

The real excitement came earlier in the day while I was assembling a vegetable tart. The Bride texted me – “I’m going to West Elm to look at rugs, wanna come?”

You betcha! A big, beautiful store? Why I haven’t been inside anything but a Whole Foods in months, during “senior” hours. Bob gave me his quizzical look, the one that says do you really want to risk your life over a bunch of tchotchkes? But I DID. I wanted to get out of the house, alone in the car for awhile, and wander around this hip, modern furniture store on the fancy side of town. With my daughter. Wearing masks of course. And it was delightful.

Everyone in the store was wearing a mask, and it was very early so there were just a few customers. The soaring ceiling gave me an extra level of comfort. I sat in swivel chairs. I picked up dishes even though a sign said “touchless shopping” was appreciated. Mea Culpa. We looked at rugs, all kinds of rugs; some with wool from New Zealand and some that resembled a Jackson Pollock painting. We were looking for an 8×10 to go into her new library – shelves had been built after all, and she wanted a cozy rug.

A soft, cozy rug to entice her little digital natives to curl up with a book.

But then I spotted one man in the store, walking around holding a mask in his hand. It wasn’t on his chin, or over his mouth right under his nose, which is another pet peeve. I guess he was too lazy to actually put it on on his face? He trailed behind his wife and a store employee, both in masks, and I had such a visceral feeling of contempt. Is he stupid? Does he feel like the rules – specifically for a mask mandate in public – don’t apply to him? He was not abiding by this social contract, he was threatening all our lives.

My daughter had just finished an evening shift in the ER, she had worn an N95 the night before for eight hours straight, and we were wearing our homemade cloth masks in the store. Our first time in a store. The least he could do was #MaskUp. To be clear, most people in Nashville are now wearing masks in public. We are still in the business of making masks for neighbors, in fact, the Grands like to count the number of masks they see whenever they ride in a car.

I really wanted to confront the mask-in-hand man, but I just steered clear. After all, what if he was a “Florida Man?” What if he started yelling at me, accusing me of taking away his freedom? What if he called the police? After all I’m a “Jersey Girl” so I wouldn’t back away from a fight.

I wonder, is a “Florida Man” the male equivalent of a “Karen?” I know lots of lovely Karens and hate this sobriquet for a middle-aged, white entitled woman; it seems like just another sexist remark. Maybe we should all stop using mean, stereotypical words to describe the human race!

Besides I just finished a Qigong class with my Florida man via Zoom. He lives in Gainesville and is absolutely kind and generous! I’m sure he wears a mask in public. And now I have to set up the yoga mats for Pilates Zoom with Bob.

Come to think of it, this hazy, lazy summer is starting to get busy!

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Anyone else feel like you’re mutating? Like we’ve gone into the Matrix, and how the heck do we get back out?

When we drive around town, which is maybe once or twice a week, we are seeing people walking into restaurants, no masks, no problems. We saw a protest on the capitol lawn of American flag-waving, freedom-loving, red-hatted zealots who probably think this virus was a hoax. Clumps of young people sunbathe on blankets all over our local park; probably 10% have masks on.

The city’s Black funeral home is busy every single day, maybe 50% of mourners are wearing masks.

You’ve heard of the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I’m almost tempted to go back to “normal,” throw caution to the wind, but the doctors in the family say it’s too soon. It’s as if the combination of spring weather mixed with partial re-opening has affected everyone’s short-term memory. But I urge you to take a look at this website, click on the arrow to the right of the United States to find your state, and look at the graphs for social distancing compared to newly confirmed cases of Covid.

https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america

I once said you have to suspend your disbelief to function rationally under Mr T’s Twitter rule. And now he tells us he’s been taking a dangerous drug, hydroxychloroquine, ever since his “Valet” tested positive. And guess what, I don’t believe him.    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/us/politics/trump-hydroxychloroquine-covid-coronavirus.html

I don’t believe anything that vulgar person says. I do however believe my husband, who tells me that deaths will spike on those charts in just a few weeks. I dreamt about Great Grandma Ada last night – we were sitting too close to people at a table in a mess hall that looked like Camp St Joseph for Girls’ St Augustine’s Hall.

If my dream life is getting weird, why not try weird on for size? I enjoyed reading this article in the NYTimes Magazine on Sunday. The author decided to practice some radical behavioral changes while confined, like getting rid of chairs and sitting and working on the floor. It’s almost a Zen reaction, to give into the craziness, the loneliness of this time with the coronavirus.

“If you believe that identity is behavior — that you are how you act, not what you think or how you feel — then you understand that adjectives like ‘‘normal’’ or ‘‘functional’’ require constant tending. If you change your conduct, you can change your life: how simple, and how daunting! All it took for me to become unrecognizable was to start acting like a different person. In theory, this should work in reverse too. When this is all over, I can return to chairs and forks and sleep. It would probably be for the best.”    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/11/magazine/quarantine-insanity.html                           

Stay in your PJs, throw out your bras, serve pancakes for dinner! I could actually exist on Bob’s sourdough bread with Irish butter. Submit to the “Evil Empire of Amazon!” My sister Kay just told me I hadn’t changed much over the years, but she was talking about my appearance. Thanks Kay, maybe that’s why I dyed my hair pink? And why I learned how to mend clothes with Shashiko embroidery. If you told me last year that I’d be taking a Pilates class on Zoom today, I wouldn’t believe it.

Change is just about all we can rely on; if we change our behavior, do we change our identity?  92588620-7413-4943-93BD-EC245C16467A

 

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Passing time isn’t quite like passing the salt. It’s a phrase that invokes prison, “doing time,” except in this case the whole world is on “house arrest.” We’ve all felt this way at one time or another. For Bob it was a prolonged period of treatment with interferon. For me, it was a year of trying to get pregnant again when the Bride was 3 years old, having 3 miscarriages back to back.

It’s the uncertainty, the randomness, the sheer terror of knowing we are actually NOT in control.

If you are one of those people with a strong faith, lucky you. I’ve been reading a lot on social media about God’s plan, the joy of this pandemic, and I honestly don’t get it. I mean did God really want to take out that whole young family with a tornado, then a week later come back and say: “Guess what everybody else, you need to stay right where you are because a plague is coming?” It can make even the devout have questions.

We’ve weathered our first week in isolation, and I’ve found that I’m built for something like this. I encouraged Bob to help me bake muffins. One night a friend dropped off a warm loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, it was like getting a hug! I swapped books with a friend on my porch. We listen to classical radio and play Scrabble. We walk Ms Bean when it’s not raining and wave to all the exceedingly happy dogs in the neighborhood. There will come a day, mark my words, when our fur babies will be giving us all the side-eye, as if to say;

“Aren’t you guys ever going somewhere so I can take a rest from guarding you?”

Techno-wise we’ve signed up with Marco Polo and can now send video texts. We’ve Facetimed with the Rocker and Aunt KiKi AND the Bride’s family split-screen, all at the same time. We call and Facetime Great Grandma Ada who is taking this whole thing better than any of us! Bob can visit with them through a vestibule window.

Cooking-wise, I’m sticking with comfort food. I can order from Whole Foods online and they deliver via Amazon Prime… it’s a 2 day wait but that’s fine. We order take-out from a local restaurant – 3 meals a week – and they deliver. We feel like it’s a small way to help their staff stay afloat. And I was running out of my Charlottesville granola, so Hudson Henry delivered in no time! https://www.hudsonhenrybakingco.com/

I keep having to remind Bob, “We’re in no rush.” We are all being asked to slow down – He is out there weeding, and I’m putting some pearls together to start stringing again. One of our local boutiques started carrying my necklaces; it was open for a few days after the tornado. But I feel no obligation to produce something during the quarantine, to knit a sweater say, or write a sonnet. “A Sonnet of Isolation.” Maybe next week I’ll clean out a closet? Be kind to yourself first, and the kindness is conveyed to others.

I’m the original slow-walker, slow-cooker. Bob is the original let’s jump right in and get this done NOW kinda guy.

That’s why he’s volunteered to help Vanderbilt when the tsunami hits us; he is being credentialed by the hospital to help with emergency medical care by telemedicine. This actually scares me, not because of possible exposure – he may do this from home – but because he might have to confront, serious life-and-death, ethical decisions. That’s what wartime triage is all about, who lives and who dies, and that’s a heavy burden.

I feel bad for hourly wage earners with rent checks coming due – if you know someone, why not Venmo them some cash? Every little bit helps. Know any musicians whose tours are cancelled? Pre-order Nicole Atkin’s next album “Italian Ice.” She’s an amazing singer and old friend of the Rocker and the Parlor Mob. https://www.nicoleatkins.com/  I just ordered the vinyl bundle with a tee shirt!

We were never binge TV watchers, but I’m seeing lots of requests from friends about “what to watch.” With streaming, the sky’s the limit but this is our list, and believe me we only occasionally watch ONE episode before heading to bed! Mrs. Maisel, Little Fires Everywhere, and Valhalla Murders. The whole Love is Blind thing is beyond ridiculous to me!

The other day I read a story to the Grands on Facetime….”Before They Were Authors, Famous Writers as Kids,” by Elizabeth Haidle. It was about Dr Seuss, did you know he wanted to become a professor? Here are our banana bran muffins!

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Italy has quarantined 16 Million people. Meghan and Harry are finishing up their official royal duties. And Bob and I have moved back into our home after the tornado because we have our power back!

Women all over the world were marching yesterday for equal rights in support of International Women’s Day. Fighting for equality, and the right not to be raped. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51791335

The NY Stock Market had to suspend trading this morning because of its torrential fall. It’s hard to watch for retirees like us. And it’s not just here, a sharp drop in oil prices has had a domino effect around the world. Today has a name, “Black Monday.”

But in our little world, the lights have come back on; and the outpouring of love and support for our community continues and is life affirming. Every single day, a restaurant or a church or a group of people show up with a barbeque grill in a parking lot dispensing hot meals and drinks to everyone. We share our stories, our extra bedrooms and bathrooms. We sweep and clean and pick insulation out of fences. We’ve moved back into our house.

Yesterday I tried getting back to “normal.”

I went to the Publix and was determined to cook dinner. It was jam-packed with young people probably moving back into apartment buildings since the tornado touched down, that is if their building wasn’t condemned. https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/vista-germantown-condemned/ar-BB10LG80 I asked the young Black girl packing my groceries if she was alright, she lives in North she said. We had quite a heart to heart right there.

It’s funny how I’d just been explaining what “small talk” is with the Grands. We don’t do much of it now, it’s all deep talk.

I had my first Pilates lesson with a friend of the Bride whose studio is right down the street. Her building, an arts cooperative, didn’t have power yet but it was 68 degrees and sunny. Rebekah helped me heal my arthritic parts, she dispensed her knowledge with love. She lives in East.

Bob walked me to her studio so he could stop by our favorite Japanese restaurant and talk with neighbors – they were serving chili on the patio. Then he planted his raised bed with winter vegetables. I kept thinking, spring is coming, it’s such a beautiful day and yet so many people are still suffering, what else can we do? I already mentioned Crossroad Pets, their employees are in hotels and their animals are in foster care now. But a donation their way would be incredible. https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E330162&id=1

Here are some  more organizations that are on the ground in Nashville if you’d like to help:

The Community Foundation of Middle TN – https://www.cfmt.org/

Middle TN Emergency Response Fund – https://www.cfmt.org/giving-and-investing/become-a-donor/give-to-a-fund/middle-tennessee-emergency-response-fund/

To find out what else you can do, visit https://www.nashvilledowntown.com/events/numnashvillestrong-tornado-relief

We’ve dropped off diapers and batteries, and now the big machines are coming in and clearing out. Picking phone poles out of trees. Our neighborhood is a patchwork quilt of blue tarp roofs. But the Farmer’s Market has reopened and last night I made comfort food.

The CDC is warning “old” people not to travel, to stay home. I’m happy cocooning in place; we have lights and heat and wifi! When we were prepping for the coronavirus, I never thought we’d be hit by a tornado. Normal, whatever that is, in Nashville will never be the same. Oh, and I dyed my hair pink.

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The first case of Coronavirus is in New York. It’s in Florida. More than 3,000 have died around the world so far because of some bat droppings. I guess it’s time to start Doomsday Prepping; what would you need if you had to spend 2 weeks in quarantine? In your house… with your spouse… would you cook?… read a book?

OK Boomer Dr Seuss, I would need BOOKS! But thanks to my Parnassus mail delivery and an infinite supply on the iPad – which the Love Bug has told me many times I must give to her when I upgrade – reading a book will not be a problem. I’m currently reading Gish Jen’s The Resisters. It’s about a split society in the future that is run by a benevolent AI – the POC live in swampy areas and the “angel fair” live above sea level. https://www.npr.org/2020/02/05/802683530/the-resisters-could-use-a-little-more-resistance

MEDICINE. Bob tells me that lots of our drugs, surprise surprise, are made in China! So as that supply chain is impacted by the virus, we may want to front-load on our prescriptions. Since I mostly take vitamins and supplements a trip to our new Whole Foods on Broadway is in order – milk thistle for my psoriasis, and more fish oil in a smaller capsule size please. And speaking of fish…

PROTEIN. Canned protein would be good to stock up on, like tuna fish. Tuna fish sandwiches were my go-to lunch in high school accompanied by a nice bag of chips, before chips came in flavors. What is it with seaweed or crab flavored chips? I actually thought salt and vinegar went a bit too far. And don’t forget Spam for protein! Made in Minnesota and loaded with who knows what! The Bride said it was all over Hawaii but I’ve never even tasted it. And canned BEANS!

LIQUIDS. Water of course you can get out of your refrigerator filtered, or the faucet even. We don’t need to go buying jugs of water, unless you live in Michigan. But if you like a certain beverage, like Snapple iced tea, Gatorade, beer or wine or vodka now’s the time to visit your local market. I think it’s hysterical that TN has GOT to card anyone buying alcohol, I mean I remember feeling good when NJ would card me in my 30s, now it’s just a pain in the keister. Cashiers wait patiently while I try to pry my license out of my wallet with arthritic fingers .

DOG FOOD. Luckily we order Ms Bean’s kibble online, but after her GI upset around the holidays she is also getting a very special canned meat additive. It’s so special in fact, we have to purchase it at our Vet’s office. Hmmm, I wonder where that is made? Maybe a trip to Target is on order for her treats, biscuits and twisty rawhide bones. She has plenty of stuffed toys she drags over to us at dinnertime, dropping them at our feet and looking longingly into our eyes, as if to say, “You see, I killed this tiny thing for you, now won’t you please FEED ME!!!”

OTHER STUFF. We have plenty of frozen veggies, rice and spaghetti! If Bob’s not in the mood to make ravioli, my pantry is full of DeCecco pasta. Long ago I stopped buying Barilla for a political reason I’ve forgotten but I’m clinging to that conviction. In fact, last night we had the Grands for dinner because the Bride was working and the Groom has the flu (NOT coronavirus). I combined a spinach fusilli #34 with penne rigate #31 and it was a huge success. The Love Bug at first mentioned not being sure about green pasta, but I’m prepping her for St Patrick’s Day. https://www.dececco.com/us_us/recipes/

Here’s what we don’t need. We don’t need to panic or buy masks; even ER docs don’t wear masks. If a patient is febrile a nurse may slap a mask on them as soon as they enter the waiting room, but we all do not need to walk around like it’s Mardi Gras. Also don’t forget your neighbors. I just sent Bob out the other night with some good old fashioned Jewish chicken soup for our young friend who was down and out with the flu. If you were thinking of getting on an airplane right about now, I probably wouldn’t. But that’s a risk we each have to take.

Meanwhile people, wash your hands and pray for the Democrats! This is my famous chicken soup in the making – the secret is fresh parsley.

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Anyone else love Samantha Bee? I caught a bit of her show Full Frontal one night, when she called the movie “Joker” just another story about an angry white guy. Granted I didn’t see the movie, like I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. But I was mildly comforted this morning to read that Joaquin Phoenix, who won the Best Actor award for his performance as Joker last night in Britain, said

“I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here.” 

To me, this is everything. Because Brexit is all about not welcoming “The Other.” Mr T is all about building his wall and keeping The Others out of our country. And even though I heard that JLo and Shakira put on an excellent half-time show, the NFL is all about the money – getting people in their seats and tuning in to watch a game that white-washes the Black Lives Matter movement… at the expense of its players’ mental and physical health.

To be honest, I did catch a bit of The Puppy Bowl.

But it was a dispiriting start to the weekend for many Nashvillians when Sen Lamar Alexander cast his vote against calling witnesses in the Impeachment Trial of Donald J Trump. We really cannot call this a “trial” without witnesses or documents. Even Monica Lewinsky testified (via tape) in Clinton’s trial. Even UVA’s esteemed professor of all things political, Larry Sabato, asked on Twitter if this Senate meeting should be called a sham or a farce instead of a trial. I replied, “It’s a coverup!”

The Senate has said facts are not welcome there. First hand accounts would be useless to their deliberation. If the Donald tells them to blackball a vote why then, they must. I wondered about the etiology of the word “blackball” as soon as it came out of my mind and into my fingers:

The word blackball appears in 1770, referring to a negative vote. Voting through the process of a voter placing either a white ball, or positive vote, into a ballot box or a black ball, or negative vote, into a ballot box, means that voters will remain anonymous and are not forced to give any reason for a negative vote. In some clubs a single black ball means a candidate will be denied membership in the organization, in other clubs there must be two black balls to justify excluding a potential member.  https://grammarist.com/idiom/blackball/

The Hill actually IS a private club of mostly old, white men who are not happy with women and people of colour (as the Brits say) challenging their asses in the seats. Did you know that Mr T watched the Super Bowl with the paying members of his club at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach? We taxpayers paid to fly him down there for the weekend so he could hob nob with people who forked over nearly half a million dollars just to join his historic resort.

Is it funny that he Tweeted a congratulatory note to the Kansas City Chiefs from the “Great State of Kansas?” We have an untethered, narcissistic, idiotic, despot at the helm, who now thinks he can bribe anybody he wants cause hey, it’s in the best interests of the country. And HE is synonymous with the country. Don’t try to find that Tweet, cause somebody changed it to Missouri.

When Mr Alexander voted against calling witnesses I knew the gig was up. We will just have to beat him in November. And who is the next best hope for Iowa and the Democratic party? We cannot afford to play by the rules, we need someone who can stand up, toe to toe with Mr T and call him out on his lies. You can’t beat a bully by turning your other cheek, it doesn’t work that way. We need a fighter, and I’m afraid that Biden’s fighting days are behind him. We don’t need another angry, old white guy.

Tonight I’m heading to my favorite bookstore to hear Rick Wilson speak about Mr T; Wilson is the author of “Running Against the Devil.” About Trump’s little geographical error on Twitter, Wilson said: “This was a silly, innocent mistake” would be more viable if this wasn’t the thousandth iteration of his blistering ignorance.”

https://www.parnassusbooks.net/event/author-event-rick-wilson-author-running-against-devil

This is an art installation of all the people who were killed by guns in 2018 in Nashville. Who will have the guts to take this on?

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Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

What was it about the Nashville Symphony on Sunday night? Steve Hackman, a young conductor from LA, walked out to the podium with his long arms and long curly hair and faced the audience, telling us how he came to compose “The Times They Are A-Changin: The Words and Music of Bob Dylan.” He introduced the first violin; behind the orchestra sat row upon row of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, over a hundred voices strong.

As Hackman raised his baton to conduct one of the first pieces, “Tangled Up in Blue,” I could feel the knot in my throat constricting. Admittedly, I was already feeling blue – from the never-ending rain and the political parody of the last few years – from a week-long insult to our collective intelligence that was playing itself out on the Hill. I was feeling discouraged, resigned to a president who was like a demagogue, with an attorney general guarding his flank, and a lapdog/senator, who did his bidding.

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wondering if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red

As the music swelled and the chorus of voices swept through the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, Bob and I looked at each other. This evening would turn out to be a metaphor for our lives together, for the 60s and the 70s; tender yet explosive at times. We somehow knew, through war and divorce, we would find our way back to each other. We would meet again “…someday on the avenue.” Next came “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

And it ain’t no use in turning on your light, babe
The light I never knowed
And it ain’t no use in turning on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road

I forgot what it was like to be immersed in a musical experience, to close my eyes and allow the strings and chords to penetrate my soul. This wasn’t an Italian opera, the words were in English and they defined my generation. Tears were slowly rolling down my cheeks by the time the chorus began “I Shall Be Released.” Is this a plea for death to come, to cover us like a well-worn blanket? The last phrase is about standing in a lonely crowd, next to a man who swears he’s not to blame…”Crying out that he was framed.”

Any. Day. Now. Any day now, we shall hear what our senators are willing to do to keep their seats, to retain their power. Will they continue to cover-up his perfect phone call? To pretend our president wasn’t granting favors to other authoritarian leaders around the world?

In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, for having created “New poetic expressions within the great American Song tradition.” He put off traveling to Stockholm to receive his medal, finally giving a reluctant speech about his influences in literature from grade school:  “Moby DickAll Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.”  Songs, he tells us, are unlike literature, they’re meant to be sung, not read.”

Finally, Dylan quoted The Odyssey: “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story.”

In this New Chinese New Year, have I become just another Cassandra, writing prophesy that no one will believe, warning my readers that our democracy is at a tipping point. That we are doomed to repeat the past if we simply stand by and do nothing. Nixon knew enough to leave, and Clinton knew enough to apologize for lying. This lying, malicious president knows nothing, which is far worse.

Today is T’ai Chi Tuesday, a form of mindful meditation. I will find my center, and try to balance the dark with the light. I will keep calling my senators, will you?

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It’s one thing to write about your life, and another to dig deeper into the details of one’s life. Bob told me he learned something from my last blog post, which is an important thing to do in any relationship – keep surprising people! The Flapper always said you should “…leave them wanting more,” a theatrical reference about curtain calls I think. But it’s also a pretty good life mantra; end your career at the top for instance, don’t descend into dementia on the job. Anyway, in case you are interested…

1. I’m a real Fan Girl. I’ve met two of my folk/rock/pop idols and tried hard not to gush, but the fine art of small talk just drifts away in the presence of greatness. Last year it was EmmyLou, but when we used to drive out to the Vineyard every spring with the little Love Bug I met Carly Simon in a clothing store. I probably turned red as a beet!

2.  I was once a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Back in the Berkshires, I convinced a friend to take the 6 month course with me. We pushed on a life-sized doll’s chest to try and get her heart beating again, “Annie, Annie are you OK?” Right after we graduated, the city of Pittsfield hired professional firefighters, so our days of volunteer work were done.

3.  Serious Crafting used to be my jam. Like Little Women everywhere, I was told that idle hands are the devil’s playground; thanks Music Man. It all started with quilting, I made aprons and pillows, blankets took way too long. Then I started knitting, mostly kids’ stuff and scarves, though I did once knit a sweater that got me stopped at Heathrow Airport. Today, I dabble with stringing pearls into eternity necklaces.

4.  I try to hide it, but this writer is a Porcelain Snob. It started way before Downton Abbey; maybe it’s the reference to homemaking, for a kid who never settled into anyone’s home. I recently had a dream where I had to explain that I wasn’t IN the foster care system, I just had foster parents. No big deal. But like a true Jersey girl, I never pay full price for my dishes. Great Grandma Ada and I traveled to Trenton to pick out my set of Lenox at the warehouse… this was when it was made in the good ‘ole USA!

5.  While my blog is named Mountain Mornings, I am definitely NOT a Morning Person. I mean I do like to start writing in the mid-morning, but coffee is de rigueur. I could stay up all night reading a good book, btw currently reading Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations, a Natural History of Love and Loss.” It’s a terrific antidote to the times, lulling me to sleep with short snippets of her childhood in rural Alabama juxtaposed with her current life in the city of Nashville. I cannot recommend this beautiful book of essays enough.

6.  I have (or maybe had is the better tense) an uncanny ability to Predict Trends. My fails are: I finally started painting my nails, and it still feels funny; and dyeing my eyebrows which is really funny! My wins are: I knew gaucho pants were looming on the horizon, and smartly avoided purchasing them.  I saw the snap bracelet coming from far away, same thing with oxfords for grown women. I was wearing this comfortable shoe long before Taylor Swift. It troubles me to report that I just bought my first pair of orthotics, per a sports medicine doctor who said I have a healing stress fracture in my foot. Thank you old age.

7.  Last but not least, I now have a Love/Hate Relationship With the Beach! My kids grew up on the Jersey Shore, and before that we’d travel to the Vineyard all the time. Later on, our paradise in the French West Indies was a continual winter retreat. I loved going to bed with sand in the sheets. But now, all that sunshine has crept up on me. Over the years, a dermatologist has been scrapping dubious patches of skin off my arms, hands, and nose. Looking “tan” has lost its cache, relegated to the ash heaps of time and cigarettes. Not that tanning was even possible for me. This explains my hat fetish! Still, my diagnosis of guttate psoriasis means I need some sun every day! What to do?

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What would you want your gravestone to say about you?

Hillary Clinton has been making her mark lately; traveling on a book tour with her daughter Chelsea, and speaking candidly with Howard Stern. Her latest Hulu docu/series teaser has her answer to the question about her legacy, from the cemetery’s point of view; https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-news/hillary-clinton-hulu-docuseries-documentary-925106/

“She’s neither as good or as bad as some people say about her.”

So what IS she anyway? Does she walk the middle road? Is she milquetoast? I think what our final sentiments are can be quite telling. Consider that Thomas Jefferson insisted his stint as our third President NOT be etched into his gravestone:

“Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia.”

I mean you do have to be crazy to want to be president. I like a sense of humor; there’s that grave in Key West:

“I told you I was sick.”

So what does one put on one’s grave – our greatest hits? The accomplishments of our life’s work? For me, Ive been teasing my kids forever, saying I wanted to be remembered in this way:

“She had a heavy metal band in her garage.” Or

“It could have been worse.”

Bob’s Grandfather Pinky wrote a book in Yiddish titled, “Better it Couldn’t Be.” But whenever life throws me a punch, I usually take the long view. The dog has fleas? She could have had tapeworms. I fell down the stairs? I could have broken my back. I think it’s an optimistic approach to things…hmm, what’s worse than a hard core heavy metal band? Disco?

I once heard a rabbi say that we don’t fully reach adulthood until we buy our burial plot. This isn’t true because Great Grandma Ada already bought my plot when I married her son, and I wasn’t quite ready to devote my afterlife in The Good Place to a Jewish cemetery in my hometown. After all, maybe I don’t want a plot of land with moss and stones all over it reminding people who never knew me that I existed.

We grow up to adulting when we decide it’s time to take responsibility for our lives. We stop blaming others for all our problems. Our generation is more realistic when confronting such momentous, end-of-life decisions, we consider the cycle of life, the overpopulation of the planet, and the generalized toxic waste of the funeral industry.

Have you heard you can get wrapped up in muslin and feed a tree? Or cremated and made into a diamond? Bob wants his body to go to a medical school, I’m not so sure I like that idea even if the Bride and Groom got to know each other in an anatomy lab at Mr Jefferson’s school. On a positive note, I leave you with this little ditty:

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Last night I hopped into my Lyft and the driver, who looked nothing like his picture, told me there was a tornado warning. We had one of my three best Lyft/Uber driver conversations on the way home from a quick bite with the Bride. What he didn’t know was that before our supper an actual tornado of creativity had touched down in Nashville. “City of Girls” author Elizabeth Gilbert landed in her “Commonwealth” dress at Montgomery Bell Academy to talk about female sexual desire in the 1940s!

She passed out bottles of champagne to her enchanted fans, the lucky ones celebrating a birthday yesterday, along with the most perfect combination of wit and wisdom I’ve ever heard about navigating this life in the female form. She wanted to explore the lives of promiscuous women, those girls throughout history who never played by the rules. And she was lucky enough to find a living nonagenarian, “Norma” was an old showgirl who wasn’t ashamed to talk about her experience with men over the years and her five abortions. Did she never want to marry? Does she regret not having children?

“Who wants to f— the same guy for sixty years?” 

The audience was laughing, clapping, cheering… Norma had had affairs with John Wayne and Milton Berle. But it was the author herself who delighted us. Gilbert practices brutal honesty; she calls it being on an “Integrity Cleanse.” Her previous partner, a woman named Rayya who recently died of pancreatic cancer, was an addict who treated honesty like a surgical tool in her sobriety arsenal. So Gilbert carries on being true, because it’s so much easier than deceit.

“Truth has legs. It’s the only thing that will stay standing at the end of the day,” she said.

You might as well do it now, or do it later. Why not just get it over with, put truth out there on the table so we all can breathe? She tells us she didn’t grow up this way. Her early life was unconventional yes, still she is aware of her privilege. If you want to hear about her eccentric father, who was a Xmas tree farmer in New England, you’ll have to listen to one of her podcasts!

Gilbert writes herself love letters every day – Why is this happening to me? – How can I manage? – What is the problem – When will it end? And her answer is mostly the same – “I’m here, and I’ll always be here with you – we’ve got this – it will be alright.”

It sounded like a woman praying, but she knew her answers would always be found deep inside. In a way, writing this delicious book was an antidote to her grief after losing Rayya. She had to step back into the creative river, even though she felt weighted down by her loss. She didn’t drown. She wrote like “…a drunk person running.” 

I was aware of the irony in last night. There I was, sitting next to my reluctant Bride, who was inspired to finally take the plunge and get married to her adoring and patient husband, while reading Gilbert’s book, “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.” And there on the stage was the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who fell in love with her best friend and ended her marriage to her husband in order to care for Rayya. And here we all were inside an auditorium in a boy’s school on a humid and rain-soaked night.

But love is love. “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” a quote from “Committed.”

Here is one of the last gems  she threw out last night ladies. “If I’m all up in your business, there’s nobody home to take care of me.” I mean, how true is that? Getting into bed last night I thought about my family – the Flapper was certainly unconventional, and my sister Kay, an original Lipstick feminist.

City of Girls” hit the number 2 spot on the NYTimes Hard Cover Fiction Best Sellers List this morning only 2 weeks after publication! I couldn’t get a decent picture last night so I lifted this one – here she is in her Commonwealth dress with that author and bookstore owner, Ann Patchett! A new American Gothic. Thanks Parnassus Books and the Public Library Salon @615 for an unforgettable evening.

Happy Pride Month everyone!

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