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Bina in her 20s, at her first meeting with the man she would marry. Her smile only got more radiant as she got older. Photo by Al Mozell, © Paul Mozell.
So sad to say goodbye today to Bina Mozell, a founding member of my synagogue, who passed away on Saturday at age 93. The people who spoke at her funeral, including her 2 sons, told the same stories I would have: her beaming love, her interest in people, her joy—in her husband, Al, in nature, music, dance, & anything that crossed her path.

Bina was an inveterate bicyclist, although an inattentive one, who often fell off because she was looking around at all the world. She saw me at Al's funeral 6 years ago with my bike helmet, & said, with the enthusiasm that pervaded her every utterance, "Oh darling!  Read More 
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My little home

I fell in love with this picture in Annapolis, years before I'd ever been in a city. I bought it after I moved into the Ezra Pound, the building it predicted.
I’ve lived in my apartment in the Ezra Pound since January 1977. For that entire time, I’ve frequently told people that the reason the tub is in the kitchen is that the building was put up before indoor plumbing, so when it was added, there was no place for the tub except the middle of the kitchen, in my case between the stove & the (only) sink. The toilet is separate, & when I moved in, some of the toilets still had the entrance in the hall.

I was wrong, I’ve recently learned.

I live in what was once a cold-water flat (a rare American use of "flat" for apartment, I think). The tub was in the kitchen, next to the source of water & a place to heat it. The toilet was in the hall so as to disturb the fewest number of people during the night, since my small two-room apartment may have housed half a dozen or more people. Also,  Read More 
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I can't keep up!

I went with my friend Alison to Johnny's old church, Xavier, on 16th St. Beautiful building & a brilliant talk by the Jesuit priest, who acknowledged that the church didn't support marriage equality, paused for an unspoken but eloquent "but," & concluded with: "The trending hashtag on Twitter this week was #lovewins#. Hopefully we can all agree with that."

The gay pride parade  Read More 
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Love wins

I spent the day at the Bronx Botanical Gardens so am late to write, late to say how proud & happy (& amazed) that the Supremes have been doing the right thing this week. I spent an hour "liking" post after jubilant post on Facebook. And then hearing our president's eulogy, including "Amazing Grace." What a day.
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Blaze Starr

Yet another fabulous 1950s dame has died. Blaze Starr, 83, "the Queen of Burlesque"—originally Fannie Belle Fleming from Wilsondale, West Virginia—was best known for her affair with Louisiana governor Earl K. Long in the late '50s.

“Society thought that to be a stripper was to be a prostitute,” she told  Read More 
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The value of public conversations

According to economists at Michigan State University, freedom of speech may be able to prevent the economy from going downhill. Their study measured the influence on economic performance of public deliberation—from open discussions with all stakeholders to protests to public hearings—in 112 countries. They concluded that lawmaking improves when policymakers receive information from a diverse array of citizens. Making an important decision based on only 1 or 2 opinions can  Read More 
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Hitting for the cycle

In the next couple of days I'm going to a:
* Bris, done on the 8th day after a baby is born, as he joins the Jewish people. Welcome, Gabriel Asher!
* High school graduation of my oldest granddaughter, Celeste.
* Birthday party for a couple both turning 60.
* Wedding after-party
* Memorial for the late journalist Danny Schechter.

Happy to be alive in 2015 & I like that it's 2015 for everybody. We're all here now (except Danny).  Read More 
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Donna Leon II

I'm halfway through her newest mystery, Falling in Love,which takes place at La Fenice, the Venetian opera house. It's very smart about fans & stalkers, and as always, about food & marriage.

How can you not love a book with a sentence like this:
Brunetti gave thanks that lived in a country where a woman who had just spoken of being in fear of her life would put on eyeliner and lipstick for a ten-minute walk across a deserted city after midnight.  Read More 
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South Carolina

I have been visiting South Carolina regularly since I was 19—more than 40 years. My friends, and their friends, are not hate-filled racists. They are parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, mothers, gardeners, artists. They are involved in their communities. They hate the Confederate flag that flies over their state capitol.

Remember these names: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons Sr., Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson. They too were grandparents, sons, graduates, reverends, coach, mothers. They were all deeply involved in their community. They were murdered in their church.  Read More 
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Tra la la

I seem to be singing more & more in public—the Double Yews, at my synagogue—but I don't really sing. What does that mean? It means I have no training.

I do now! I went to my first-ever singing lesson this morning, in the parlor of a grand Washington Square building, now a senior center. We did warmup exercises, both physical & vocal, then sang folk songs ("Shenandoah," "Greensleeves"), popular songs (something by Irving Berlin) & rounds ("Freres Jacques"). The teacher, Richard, was encouraging & had specific directions, most of which I couldn't exactly follow, but some I could & it made an immediate difference.

So fun to learn something new! Aprenc tant existeixo! I learn therefore I am!

Update: Oh my! I just ran into Richard—he lives around the corner—& I thanked him & said I guess it was obvious I've never had a voice lesson, and he said, "Oh, you'll be able to do anything you want–I don't say this to everybody."  Read More 
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