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Fire pit

An old friend inexplicably sent me a "personal fireplace" ~ so far I haven't found the bio-ethanol fuel it requires or for that matter, instructions on how to put it together that ensure that I can, in fact, put it together. But it will be fun if I do manage to assemble it, or more likely, get someone to do it for me. 

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Her reading last night was so riveting that she used up all the words in the world. There's nothing for me to say except read her! 

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Much as I love winter, I also love changes in the weather & getting new seasons regularly. The last couple days have been top 10 ~ not too hot & lots of spring flowers & flowering bushes with their profligate beauty. I have been inveigled by spring into abandoning snow! Happy to report that I went down 2nd street to enjoy the tulip tree in the Marble Cemetery, which I managed to miss last year. How many more times will I get to see that tree in its pink & white Fragonardness? I used to believe I would die because I would never read Ivanhoe, that there was a limit to the books I would ever get to. And then on the 3rd (or 4th or 5th) try, I fell into that book & gulped it up in one sitting. Now I measure mortality by how many more springs I'll have on 2nd street. (Hoping there's still quite a few.)

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In 1986, we went to Coney Island to see Halley's Comet & bury my turtle, Happy. We saw the comet in the general sense that we looked where the park ranger told us to. Yesterday's eclipse was along the same lines. I guess I saw it, given that I was on the roof at the time they told us it would be happening. Apparently you had to be in the path of totality to appreciate it, but I'm content in not having gone farther than upstairs. We had quite enough natural phenomena with last week's earthquake, thank you very much. Besides, I did feel the primitive superstition: the world is ending when dark marches into day. 

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What I'm reading

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, by Kathleen Rooney, is a novel based on the true story of homing pigeons and the Lost Battalion of World War I. Tragic, as pretty much everything about that war was, but also soaring (no pun intended). It was recommended to me because of my new-found love of pigeons, and I'm glad I read it. 

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Another report on sleep

When things are working right, you don't give them a thought. When they go haywire, it's a different story. I used to change the oil in my car as a superstitious guarantee that something worse (more expensive) wouldn't fall apart. What little & easy thing can I do that will coax my excellent sleep back? For the last two days I've barely gotten out of bed. Am I caught up? Can one catch up? If you start saving $$ at a mad pace, will you have as much as your peer who's been socking it away since she was 30? Can you compare sleep to anything else? If I didn't drink water yesterday, & today I drink twice as much as usual, am I caught up? Or am I simply delirious because of all the non-hours in the sack. 

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Telephone on the loose

For the third time (that I recall), Johnny left his phone on a bench. Once it was a bus stop, twice it was the same bench between Ave A & us. For the third time, a kind person made sure he got it back. Last night, after it wasn't where he left it, I called Johnny's number & Israel (my new best friend) said he was at Stanton & Ridge. Take your time, I'm here, I'm waiting for you, he added. I practically ran. Where's Ridge Street, Johnny asked when I got home. It's almost not in our neighborhood, way east of Clinton. No Israel.. I called again. Stanton & Eldridge, which is right across the street from us. Where's Ridge Street, Israel asked. Don't rush, he repeated, it's all good. He was there, we hugged, I hugged his beautiful girlfriend. All was good.


But it's driving me crazy that this keeps happening. Johnny seemingly can only think of one thing at a time, & it's usually dinner, & not that he put his phone down on the bench instead of in his pocket. Apparently people lose their phones on an average once a year, so maybe it's not as dire & senile as it seems. (I've never lost my phone.) What can he do to put this in the front of his mind? 

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Pigeon love

One of PiJean's parents is dying on the stoop right outside my door. I didn't mean to love them so much. I didn't think I would be so sad. PiJean and the other parent are keeping a broken vigil. 

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Would you go to a movie

... that has an exclamation mark in the title? Really, if Bullitt didn't need one, why would Chicken for Linda!? For some shameful reason this reminds me that long after we were together, I heard Johnny reading from his early 20s. He had such a New Yawk accent. I knew I wouldn't have gone out with him if he had still sounded like that. The movie I may or may not go to is also in French. And animated. 

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Gem Spa

I sat in the new coffeeshop at 2nd & St Marks for a while & even looked at photos of its past incarnation before I fully realized this was the Gem Spa. It sure made me miss Ted & running into people buying newspapers & magazines & violet lozenges. New York stays New York even when nothing of New York remains. Like all of us, I suppose.  

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Monday Quote

Honest people, mistakenly believing in the justice of their cause, are led to support injustice.
~ Elihu Root (1845-1937), U.S. Secretary of State, Nobel Peace Prize recipient. 


In an excellent article, "The War at Stanford,"* Theo Baker, a sophomore at Stanford and already the recipient of a George Polk Award in Journalism, writes:

The real story at Stanford is not about the malicious actors who endorse sexual assault and murder as forms of resistance, but about those who passively enable them because they believe their side can do no wrong. You don't have to understand what you're arguing for in order to argue for it. You don't have to be able to name the river or the sea under discussion to chant "From the river to the sea." This kind of obliviousness explains how one of my friends, a gay activist, can justify Hamas's actions, even though it would have the two of us—an outspoken queer person and a Jewish reporter—killed in a heartbeat.


As always, we have to learn again what we already know. 


*Link available for 14 days. 

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A little thought

I sometimes wonder if the U.S. has poured out our blood giving liberty to as much of the world as we could get to (yes, imperfectly, yes of course but—) and have ended up etoliated ourselves. A hundred years ago Spain (for example) was a brutal medieval country; we sent resources and men. Today, Spain is ahead of us in certain liberties and privileges.


Did we give too much? Did we give something essential that we couldn't afford to lose?


I'm absolutely not an isolationist.


What we seem to have given up is the will to uphold our own democracy. Have we? 

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Tales from the Pound

My next-door neighbor Andrew, who was a chef, went to live with a girlfriend in Brooklyn and sublet to someone we rarely saw. One day there was a terrible stench in the hall. Maggie, a paramedic, identified it instantly as rotting flesh. No one answered our knock and when we finally tracked down Andrew, he couldn't get hold of his friend. Should we break in? He had to be dead in there. What else could it be? Andrew flew in & discovered that his restaurant-style freezer had turned itself off and the side of beef he had in there had decomposed. The tenant was away. 

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Elinor & the Ivy League

Firestone Library, special collections.

Princeton recently bought Johnny's Siamese Banana Press archives & they already owned KOFF magazine, so we were invited down to talk about our magazines & the atmosphere of the poetry scene in the 70s. One thing about Princeton is they did us right: sent us there & home in a car, put us up overnight, an honorarium. But even better was the knowledgeable interest & enthusiasm from the people who came. It's always great when questions elicit new insights. 


Now if I could just figure out how to make a living talking about myself. 

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A drive

The beautiful New Jersey turnpike. 

I'm never more myself than when I'm in a car. 

Even if someone else is driving.

Even if I'm in the back seat. 

Even on the New Jersey turnpike. 


It's what I do.

It's who I am. 

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The Northern Lights

Whoohoo! Maggie & I just paid a (hefty) deposit to go on a fancy trip to northern Sweden in December to see reindeer & the Northern Lights. As Member #16,394 of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I got the info & put my name in instantly. I've tried to get in on these trips other times but never made it.  


Here's what they have to say:

The epic winter landscape of frozen lakes and ancient pine and spruce forests in the heart of Swedish Lapland is the stunning destination for our Sky Holiday in Nov/Dec 2024. This region is part of Sápmi, the ancestral homeland of the Sámi people, which stretches right across northern Scandinavia. This remote and enchanted land is located directly beneath the aurora oval. If we are lucky with the weather, it's one of the world's best locations for experiencing the beauty of the Northern Lights.


This Sky Holiday is being hosted by Cloud Appreciation Society Member 001, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, who will be giving an illustrated talk about the atmosphere in general and the science behind the aurora borealis. Our lodge is also home to a large pack of happy huskies, who'll take us out by sled to explore their frozen forest. We'll learn about the region's indigenous Sámi culture. We will enjoy delicious gourmet meals prepared by the lodge chef with local ingredients. 80 miles (110 km) north of the Arctic Circle, the winter days are short  but there are long hours of twilight, which we will fill with fantastic outdoor activities.  Husky sledding through the woods, a snowmobile trip to meet reindeer and their herders, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are all included – and, of course, full use of the lodge's sauna. If we're lucky enough to be treated to a great aurora display, we'll be in the perfect location, away from all light pollution, just to step outside and marvel as the northern lights dance across the night sky.

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Monday Quote

A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Is this the same as the old story about the first man who says everyone in the village is mean and shady, and the second man who says everyone in that same village is generous and warm, and obviously they find what they're prepared to find. I'm rubber you're glue bounces off me and sticks to you. 

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Pigeons, pigeons

S/he flew! S/he flew away & came back to visit. Just now I spotted PiJean out on 5th Street frolicking with a new friend. My job is done. My job was to be amazed at how fast s/he grew up. It only seems that fast with a human kid, but it works out the same, pretty much. 


I would post as many pictures of PiJean as I do of my cat(s), but this blog host has a limit & I'm close & even besotted as I am, I realize not everyone wants to see basically the same pose over & over. 

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New show at Tibor de Nagy on Rivington Street, collages of drawings, jigsaw puzzles, & more by the artist Jess, who was Robert Duncan's partner for 30 years. This was my favorite of the works. I only stopped in for a minute, will have more to say when I go back. 

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It once was lost but now it's found

I lost my debit card & a bra & The Poets Encyclopedia.


Then I found them all.


I know perfectly well losing & finding on the same day is coincidence, & also know we humans love pattern. 


Call it magic, call it luck, call it belated focus.

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A pigeon lying on its back under the outdoor stairs, its feet sticking straight up. It almost seemed like a cartoon drawing ~ how you would make sure people knew it was dead. Another pigeon attacked, driving its beak into the first one's face. Trying to wake it up or was it cannibalism? It flapped! Not dead at all.


Later, it was definitely dead: eviscerated & bloody. Two dead pigeons. What the hell is going on? Who are the dead pigeons? What killed them? What tore them open?


Meanwhile, PiJean's parents have built a new nest in a recess below the ledge where PiJean was born. Rats come & go & yet there they are. PiJean is still on his(her) ledge, as far as we know not yet flying. Her(his) parents won't go up there & totally ignore him. 


Maybe this is all run of the mill pigeon behavior. I will have to read a good bit more. It's upsetting but at least PiJean (full grown!) is alive.

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Poetry everywhere

Fun to prepare for a reading. This is not going to overlap with the one I did a few weeks ago. It's on Zoom & some old SoDak friends will be there so I'm focusing on the midwest. And because my junior high school English teacher said he'd listen, I can't bring myself to overdo the sex & swearing. I just wish I kept my files better. I keep finding poems I'd forgotten about or can't find ones I maybe want to read. 


Also: where's my bank card? I'm sure I didn't lose it but it's not where it always is so I have no idea where to look. But I looked everywhere. Damn, I guess I had better cancel it. 

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Monday Quote

Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.

~ Simone de Beauvoir


And makes one impervious to other's doubts. Even recognizing one's cowardice can make one braver. 

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PiJean at 4 weeks

PiJean is now two-thirds the size of her parents. She's flapping her wings but not quite flying. I saw her walk ~ maybe for the first time because she was wobbling. Someone stole her nest this morning & she's cowering behind a bucket. My neighbor saw one of her parents holding her beak in his, reassuring her, Lou was sure. I've been reading up on pigeons ~ they are loyal, smart, & have incredible insight, among other things. Having them roosting here has really opened my heart. 

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Friday is Caturday

Cat in a box!

This is Harry, my neighbor's cat, who has taken 2 years to slowly warm up to me. Today he pushed his head into my hand ~ a first. He's beautiful. And mean to Lefty. Except when they're getting along, which is about half the time. Harry's definitely the alpha of the crew.

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My bank

My bank (branch) moved from the corner of 4th St & 2nd Ave, to the corner of 7th St & 2nd Ave. Not far, but the people who work there are giddy with pleasure, as though they'd moved several neighborhoods and this was all new.


They seemed to be at loose ends when I stopped in. One showed me around, told me their plans, asked me questions. It felt less like a bank than a neighborhood restaurant. And yes, the balloons & banners are on their way.  I made sure to tell them about B&H, a couple doors up. "I know about B&H on 34th Street," the manager said. Nope, this is a restaurant. They want to be part of the neighborhood but aren't quite there yet, I guess.


It's a much bigger spot than the old one, with two large open areas, one where you could have a conference, one with some comfortable looking chairs. I'm welcome to hang around, as long as I don't come with three large dogs and sleep. 

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My sister Edie

Edie was born in Germany on March 13, 1935, and came to America in January of 1939. I don't know that she ever went back. Her mother, Ilona, died when she was around 10, and then my dad married again, my mother, so Edie became the much-older big sister to 4 more of us. She loved us simply and unstintingly. She was adventurous, hitchhiking with a girlfriend to California after her high school graduation in 1953. She married three times in Las Vegas: "Vegas is lucky for me!" she declared. She was a dramatic cook, who liked her guests to watch her toss a caesar salad. She drove a red Mustang. She stayed with me for a couple of days when I hadn't lived in New York for very long, & for years after that, guys I had never seen before would ask me if my sister was going to be visiting again soon. A champagne personality, her daughter, Ilona, often says. She took me to my first X-rated movie. One of my sisters smoked pot for the first time with her. I think my brother got his card sharp side from staying up all night on the porch, dealing hand after hand of gin rummy with Edie. My other sister told a similar story "of corruption" at her funeral. She led the way, as a big sister should. I don't know if she realized how much easier I had it because she was a rebel before me. I miss her a lot & still get confused when I count siblings: two sisters is unbearably fewer than three. 

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If you ask Johnny if he's comfortable, he will always say, with his best-but-terrible imitation of a Catskill comedian's accent & shrug: I make a living. 


After suffering for 6 months ~ a year ~ our entire marriage with a comforter where all the feathers flew to one corner, so if one person turned the other was left naked, we actually BOUGHT A NEW COMFORTER. And two covers. We are so shoemaker's-children-going-barefoot about everything that I can't get over the dispatch with which that comforter was ordered & delivered. O honey! what a good night's sleep we had! 


We are comfortable. 

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Monday Quote: Black hole, baby!

So often in my experience, nature wants to be beautiful.

~  astronomer Avery Broderick


It's fun sometimes to appreciate without understanding. 

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Post-viral malaise

That's what my cousin called it. Still struggling to stay awake much of the day. Managed to order a new comforter, read a lot, make it to the store for soup. Little by little, each task magnified by its cocoon of fatigue. 

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