NauenThen

Hello from the Adirondacks

May 26, 2017

I am here for 5 days without a lot of internet access. Can't add photos or they would show how gorgeous & green Blue Mountain Center is. Getting to be a full-time poet for the first time in 5 years, after being a full-time worrywart. Poetry is better. Back with blog posts when I can, likely not till Monday, Memorial Day.

This is a wall

May 22, 2017

This is a sign on—yes—a wall at a construction site around the corner. What did Paul Richard imagine people thought this was if not a wall? Who is Paul Richard, for that matter? What precautions do people generally take around walls?

They might want to stay out of the way of my favorite 3rd-grade joke:

What did one wall say to the other?

Meetcha at the corner.

Partners in crime

May 21, 2017

Tags: Melissa Zexter

I met Dot (aka Melissa Zexter) more than 20 years ago at Blue Mountain Center, an artist residency in the Adirondacks. She was newly switching out of using standard art materials, which had become toxic to her.

I love seeing how this has developed into embroidery and scratching on photographs—adding, removing till she's created something new & beautiful. OK, I'm partial to cars & baseball (as is Dot) but this picture is something I could look at for a long long time, drift into its story & landscape. I love how the car is outlined in a simple stitch, a reminder that we had to keep our old cars running with crackerjack toys & ingenuity, & that even a beater can be loved.

Knocking

May 19, 2017

Tags: Carlina Rivera

Inspired this week by all the political ferment to volunteer for a candidate running for City Council in my district, the smart, charismatic, & local Carlina Rivera, who I'd met at an event sponsored by Eleanor's Legacy, a group that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women in New York City and New York State.

A day or two ago, I went out "knocking," which literally is knocking on doors. I was surprised how many people buzzed us in without question. Mostly our encounters were brief, just handing out information & reminding them to vote in the primary. One guy, however, said-shouted, "I'm a registered Democrat! but I voted for Donald Trump! I wasn't getting behind what Hillary Clinton was selling! I see your face! I see (more…)

What I had for breakfast

May 18, 2017

I told someone I couldn't remember what I'd had for breakfast this morning, let alone something he'd said in passing a month ago. He said, That's why you have a blog.

And I do remember: I slow-cooked two organic brown eggs with a little butter & cheese, then rolled the mess into a toasted whole-grain tortilla.

I'm not usually that ambitious or healthy. Usually I get a burrito up the block or warm up an Amy's bowl but I had a little time this morning.

Hell bank note

May 16, 2017

I remember having a big stack of these.

I remember handing them out.

I remember it seemed funny at the time.

The 5 Spot

May 15, 2017

Tags: The 5 Spot, Frank O'Hara

One of my favorite poems is Frank O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died." I've read it a thousand times & taught it in most workshops, & it still makes my heart stop every time:

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT

I knew the 5 Spot was in my neighborhood but I never knew exactly where till I happened to walk past this commemorative sign. What must have been a row of Bowery tenements and bars is now a senior citizen center.

I was watching a short video of my neighborhood 30 or 35 years ago with a friend, age 30, who asked, referring to the endless blocks of burned-out buildings & cars, the junkies & broken glass & dog shit: Was that really what it was like?

I almost can't believe it either, not when I see how entirely the East Village has transformed.

The golden age, always a little further in the past than when you were young.

Nature girl

May 14, 2017

Still counting my nature blessings.
I was walking through the Village View apartments & saw many daffodils. So nice, but where are the irises?

Just ahead! That's so much more a Sioux Falls flower & I was immediately happy.

Oh look—lilies of the valley! I practically threw myself to the ground to smell them & was transported back to the damp & unvisited side of our house on Summit Avenue, where I would lie down for their sweet bright scent & perfect white bells.

Also, there were 2 chickens in a park on Avenue C. Too quick for me to get them in the frame.

When I was fearless

May 12, 2017

The freedom now desired by many is not freedom to do & dare but freedom from cares & worry. —John Truslow Adams

I've been pondering this. While I am sure he means it generationally ("now"), I think as I've gotten older I've gone from do & dare to cares & worry. Just as I can't really remember those (more…)

Cats & dogs

May 11, 2017

My cat Buster, guarding his catnip banana.
I just came up with this theory:

Young women who have dogs are more likely to have children eventually than young women who have cats.

Among my acquaintances it's more true than not, & it makes sense: dogs require more attention & care, so women who are willing to take care of a dog are primed for kids.

I have no idea if this is true, or what it means.

Update: My brother just pointed out that some people have dogs [& cats?] in lieu of kids.

"Frankly I am very shocked"

May 10, 2017

This is a letter that came to me from a woman in South Carolina (with my my mother's maiden name, btw) when I was fiction editor of a weekly woman's magazine in the late-80s. [It was in a 6" stack of cover letters that I had saved for some reason. Not no more!] She says she is a "saved and Christain [sic] woman" who took issue with someone taking the lord's name in vain. "If it's a womans [sic] magazine how about making it for a lady and not for some bum who doesn't care for nothing."

Did I respond? Probably, as we were "encouraged" to do so.

Whenever I got a letter like this (rarely), the editor-in-chief would go into a frenzy of apology & swear that things must change. I would respond by havin my sister (using a pseudonym) write an enthusiastic letter of praise about the same story, how refreshing to tackle contemporary issues in a fresh voice etc.

Illness in public office

May 9, 2017

I must confess to idle speculation about the extent to which the course of world affairs may have been affected by illness among those holding high public office since, say, the time of Woodrow Wilson. I say “idle” because it would probably be impossible to isolate the effects of illness and we cannot know (more…)

Wall, Riverside Park

May 8, 2017

My goal this week is to remember I am connected to nature, hence the photo of this wall in Riverside Park.

The Hudson River, daffodils, flowering trees, spirea, clouds, tulips, rain.

Another afternoon in the universe of baseball

May 7, 2017

Tags: baseball

My granddaughter Meagan is the pitcher her, her team the Lightning in the West Side Little League. She's 12, has power & a great motion, with that little hiccup in the hip that you see in college ball. It's softball & underhand so her arm doesn't wear out. The girls know the rudiments & occasionally execute well, although most of the scoring was on overthrows & stolen bases.

Uplift

May 5, 2017

Tags: success

I'm posting this here in part so I don't lose track of it again. It's from an article by someone named Geoffrey James, who poses these 10 questions to answer every day. "The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis determine your focus, and your focus determines your results," he writes. "These questions force you to focus on what's really important. Take heed of them and rest of your life—especially your work—will quickly fall into place."
1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?
2. Have I done something today that improved the world?
3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong, flexible, and resilient?
4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?
5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?
6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?
7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?
8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?
9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?
10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?

Speechless with fury

May 4, 2017

How much how often do we have to say no before it sticks? How much how hard are the Republicans going to try to ruin life for so many most people? They rush through a bill that the CBO hasn't seen? that most of them haven't seen or read? Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA) said he was OK with voting for a bill he admits he hasn't read, against the wishes of his constituents, because they didn't vote for him. Goodbye health care.

Furniture (?)

May 3, 2017

Fifth Street.
Outside of context, I'm not sure what this is, or why it's here.

It wasn't there very long.

Stagecoach

May 2, 2017

Tags: Stagecoach

Scottish actor Donald Meek (1878–1946).
Rewatched the wonderful 1939 John Ford movie, with John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell (who got an Oscar for playing a drunk-but-standup doctor), Andy Devine, John Carradine, et al. Struck by 3 things:

* John Wayne's character is Ringo, or the Ringo Kid. Ringo Starr was born in 1940. Did he get his nickname from the movie? I think the answer is no, it was from him wearing rings, but many or most people wear rings, often big ones, & don't get called Ringo.

* As he makes off with the bank's gold, the crook banker spouts off about how banks shouldn't be regulated, that the government should trust him to do his business & (more…)

Books books books

May 1, 2017

I just threw away dozens of books that got drenched & moldy from a broken pipe in my basement studio. I'm trying to convince myself that I wasn't going to (re)read them anyway & I'm better off tossing even more, but it breaks my heart to see books get ruined.