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Spiritual Sounds

Most Holy Redeemer Church, 173 East 3rd St.

On Sunday I went to this magnificent church right around the corner from me for a concert by a bunch of neighborhood churches, mosques, synagogues et al. The acoustics were daunting, so a couple of the choirs I know are good didn't shine. Who did: a Tibetan monk who did chanting deep in his throat; he sounded like a didgeridoo & you could tell he wasn't straining. Quite remarkable. My favorite was a ragtag group from the Catholic Worker busting with hilarity & sincerity, with trombone, bagpipe, harmonica & guitar. It really made me think a vow of poverty was the best thing for your soul & spirit. 

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Monday Quote

Humor is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue. 

~ Virginia Woolf


I have had this same thought. When I can't talk I can't flirt, I can't be funny, I can't shine. But wit goes first. 

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Buster's last hour

I didn't want him banging in the carrier & by the time we set off for the vet he could no longer walk. So I wrapped him in a towel & carried him in my arms, Pieta-style. And here he was, outside in the bright sun of a spring-like day for the first time in at least 8 years. He blinked & then he smiled. He basked. He got to have one last moment of pleasure in life. A little kitten love for the fresh air & adventure of his youth.


After that he stared into my eyes the entire walk to the vet. I don't have words for what it meant, just that it was profound, reassuring, & communication beyond what I've had with most people. It could have been: Are we good? Will you let me go? I don't want to but there's no body left to hold my love. You have to trust me, as I have to trust me.


All of that, but not in words. I was seen by him & he by me. 

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Buster Maurice Stanton Nauen (2008-January 24, 2020)

His last morning on earth. 

No more running to the door to meet me. No more clawing the bathroom door open demanding treats. No more snuggling between us on the bed. No more galloping around like a crazy person at 4:30 in the morning. No more nonstop purring the minute he climbs into my lap. No more sleeping on my head, holding my finger. 


Buster was a gentleman, a love bug, who never made me think he was condescending to me. We were pals & partners. 


The Mr. Rogers of cats. 


We took him in to be euthanized this afternoon but he died just a moment before they could start. I feel happy about that: that he died on his own terms, & not shorted even by a minute his full life span. And in case you think we made him hang on too long, yesterday the vet said she expected he had a few more weeks. Until she got the bloods. His kidney numbers were higher than the machine could read. She couldn't believe he could walk. But he did. The dying was that quick. 


Buster, please be reincarnated with that big patient heart of yours. 

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Buster, pensive

Buster always sleeps with us. He waits till I get into bed, when I click at him & a moment later, there he is, wiggling into comfort between us. When I wake up, he's usually at the end of the bed but sometimes he's on my head or pillow. 


Last night he didn't come when I called. He slept deep in the closet. I worry. Dante did that when he was separating from life & from us. 


I snuck in & gave him an appetite stimulant, & I dragged him out to give him his subcutaneous fluids. He ate (he ate!) & now he's sleeping at the edge of the closet. 


He doesn't look unhappy or gaunt so I'm going to believe he'll be OK for a little while longer. 


I love that little purring loving being. 

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Monday Quote

We were prepared to have a nurse and a servant as a necessary extravagance, but would never have dreamed of having a car. If we went to theatres it would be to the pit. I would have perhaps one evening dress, and that would be a black one so as not to show the dirt, and when we went out on muddy evenings, I would always of course, have, black shoes for the same reason. We would never take a taxi anywhere. There is a fashion in the way you spend your money, just as there is a fashion in everything. I'm not prepared to say now whether ours was a worse or a better way. It made for less luxury, plainer food, clothes and all those things. On the other hand, in those days you had more leisure–there was leisure to think, to read, and to indulge in hobbies and pursuits. I think I am glad that I was young in those times. There was a great deal of freedom in life, and much less hurry and worry. ~ Agatha Christie


I am thoroughly enjoying her autobiography & this passage really struck me. So true! It's an individual thing too. Everyone seems to be cheap about certain things & (willing to be) extravagant about others. I reuse plastic bags for the cat litter, X buys them. I think of myself as frugal—I don't want to replace something I needn't have thrown out. I never begrudge money I spend eating out but lots of people do. 


I don't know that I know what the current fashions are in spending. Maybe when I was younger & more a part of the zeitgeist. 

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OK, I may live after all

MUCH better than thinking about this dang tentacled cough is hanging out with Cousin Susan, who is related to me in the most convoluted way possible: step-half-semi-demi-hemi-ish. And yet, the bond of family is strong & we are part of each other's lives & hilarities. I'm still a bit half-masting it this week but I feel the winds of health starting to blow my way. 

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In the neighborhood

It's in the next block, so I've walked by this building probably 30,000 times (I did the math: 2x a day x 43 years in my apartment) but I never once sat at the bust stop across the street & really looked at it. See that handsome trim along the top? The rich color?


Every day I fall in love again with New York City. 

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Sleeping beauties

We may grow to look look our pets, but they grow to act like us. When Johnny's sleeping, so, often is Buster, & in a similar curl. 


Update: Sleeping beasties, Johnny just said. 


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Family History


Hybrid or multi,

what are you,

my Welsh cousin asked

Jewish/English/white/not quite


Dad loved being first in his precinct

let me pull the lever

to clank closed the curtain

voting was Dad at his most profound


he believed in voting

as immigrants do

and in America

& in what we kids could do


I step into the shimmering pool

but there's no water, the concrete

sides wave in sunlight through willows

what I reach for isn't there



Is this finished? I dunno. Plopping it in here in order to get some distance. 

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Monday Quote

If you can't make knowledge your servant, make it your friend. 

~ Baltasar Gracián, 17th-century Spanish Jesuit


Hope for the half-assed thinker! I like this. 

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I ❤️️ libraries

Right around the corner from me. 

A haven on the Lower East Side, the settlement houses were part of a reformist social movement that began in the 1880 to provide educational, recreational, and other social services to the inner city. Still going strong today!


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Roll over, Ike Turner

Everyone knows the first rock song was Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" (1951). Except that it wasn't. 


I'd been listening to a good bit of T-Bone Walker, which led, as these things will, to Goree Carter. I'd never heard of him but there's a good claim that his song "Rock Awhile," which came out two years before Brenston's, was really the first rock song. Take a listen & while you're at it read this terrific piece in Texas Monthly. 


Isn't it amazing how much great art there is? Great music, great poetry, great painting—& so much I'm lucky to stumble on. 

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The sky today

I know, I know, it's hopeless to take pictures of clouds, which never look as magnificent or sweeping in a photo as they do when you're standing on your corner, breathing (wheezing) chilly air, looking up & somehow everyone is also looking up. What are they seeing? I didn't notice that bird (gull?) till now.

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Happy Tuesday

Me, I'm koffing my lungs, throat & brains out. Not going to the Helen Rosenthal event tonight. BUT EVERYONE ELSE SHOULD & support her for NYC Comptroller. She's brilliant, hard-working, & has a Masters of Public Health. The wonkiest degree & perfect for a budget person. She chose to chair the city council's contracts committee. When she asked for it, they said, You know most people look at this as a punishment assignment, right?


Where was I? Feeling sickly & distracted. Sigh.


I'll be fine tomorrow & write something scintillating!

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Monday Quote

In politics, all abstract terms conceal treachery. 

~ C.L.R. James


Yet another reason why poetry is better than politics. No ideas but in things.

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This modern world

Suddenly I started getting a notice "cannot verify server identiy" when I tried to get mail on my phone. I ended up doing a time-consuming series of moves & I have gotten rid of that annoying pop-up, but one of the things I had to do was reset all my settings, which meant figuring them out all over again. I also had to uninstall & reinstall my email, which I have done except there's some glitch & I can't send mail to myself, which isn't a big deal but I don't know that I am getting all my mail. Blah blah blah this is so uninteresting AND it's given me a headache. However, I haven't gone into my usual panic state about electronics, I took care of it without wanting to die. Have a lovely weekend. Read more poetry! Get outside! Stand up against antisemitism! Which is, unfortunately, part of both the modern world & the ancient. 


Update: The problems continued but I actually figured out something tricky & all is golden again in iPhone land.

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To-Do List

I don't know if I'm happier when I have a lot of tasks or when I've completed them & have a page of crossed out chores. I like to have a few ringers on the list, either really easy ones ("brush teeth") or tasks I've already done without a reminder (I like to see them scored through). 


It's a new year, which means the usual (sigh) encouragement to get rid of some junk. As usual, the books are taking over. How does that happen? I have several clean surfaces & before I know it, they're covered with stacks of books. Even the priority reading—the library book due tomorrow, for example—falls behind. Half my friends are mad at me for not reading their books quickly enough, & half of that half grill me if I give them a general thumbs-up & not a dissertation on the work. 


Here's to a new decade of joy, adventure, light, laughter & most of all, a new president & a Democratic Senate. 

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