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Monday Quote

One does not "find oneself" by pursuing one's self, but on the contrary by pursuing something else and learning through some discipline or routine who one is and wants to be.
~ May Sarton (1912-95)


You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know. 

~ William Wilberforce (1759-1833), British politician, philanthropist, & abolitionist


Two quotes for Yom Kippur

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Sunday is Caturday

Harry! So photogenic even as he terrorizes the other cats. 


It's also Kol Nidre as well, the start of the Day of Atonement, the last of the Days of Awe, when we have the privilege of examining our behaviors & actions, and try to set things right with our loved ones and in general improve ourselves. I postponed my coffee detox too late so I'm not sure how the fasting will go but I'm ready. 

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In the neighborhood

Sitting in Tompkins Square Park on a fall afternoon, all the time in the world, laughing with a friend, seeing beautiful young people full in their bodies dancing. It doesn't get any better than this. 

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Johnny lost his keys on Tuesday. We looked everywhere, sure that he hadn't gone out since he had let himself in the night before. We went through the garbage (the cat, Lefty, likes to push things off the tub into the bin) & a million less & less likely places. Then I moved a cup & there they were, in (almost) plain sight, on the tub. 


The next day I buttoned my keys into a shirt pocket, then took the shirt off as soon as I got outside because it was far too warm, went for a walk & when I got home: no keys. 


As soon as I get into bed, Lefty usually jumps in between us, filling up on the energy that hums between Johnny & me. 


We are getting so in tune that it seems obvious that we would lose our keys a day apart. 

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In the neighborhood: My backyard: Jet

It's a gorgeous day! Everything is gorgeous! The weather is glorious! My ugly backyard is glorious!

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It rained all day & now it's fall. 


If autumn comes, can snow be far behind?

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Monday Quote

When I think about what sort of person I would most like to have on a retainer, I think it would be a boss. A boss who could tell me what to do, because that makes everything easy when you're working.

~ Andy Warhol


So true, exactly as having an assignment makes it easier to at least start writing a poem. 

I make to-do lists all the time ~ the closest I come to having a boss. 

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It's (almost) the birthday of the world

Tonight begins the days of awe, starting with Rosh Hashanah, new year's 5784. This is a serious not a raucous holiday & I'll be do a lot of reflection & self- examination over the next days. Back to our regular programming on Monday. 

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Cloud Appreciation Day is tomorrow!

Member #16,394 here, with a PSA from The Cloud Appreciation Society:

Friday September 15th is Cloud Appreciation Day. It is an internationally recognised day when people around the world are encouraged to spend a few moments appreciating the beauty of the sky. On the day, anyone anywhere can contribute their sky for free to our Memory Cloud Atlas and they can explore the Atlas as more photos are added throughout the day.The Cloud Appreciation Society's Memory Cloud Atlas will be launched at one minute after midnight on Friday September 15th, local time. All skies contributed to the Atlas will remain online after Cloud Appreciation Day, preserving the views of cloudspotters for others to explore and serving as a snapshot on a single day of our collective appreciation for the most dynamic, evocative and accessible part of nature: the sky.

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O lovely treacherous sleep

What have I done to alienate you, o REM? Why have you forsaken me? I thought it was bad when I was getting 5 hours & waking up at 3, but now I wake up at 2 for a couple of hours, go back to an unewarws nap & wake up groggy. Some things work sometimes ~ sleep meditations, for example. At the moment I can't think of anything else, since nothing does seem to help. I'm too excited by too many books to lie back for a snoozeola. Oh well. 

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Mysteries in my pocket

I found this on my camera roll ~ there were a dozen similar photos. I didn't take them, at least not on purpose. Apparently it's a butt-snap, if that's the term. 

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Monday Quote

Besides Laura Cumming's brilliant Thunderclap, I'm reading the fascinating How Dead Languages Work, by Coulter George. In the section on Sanskrit, he says that [Rig] Veda, which means "knowledge," goes back to a root ... that [resembles] its cognates in orther Indo-European branches, such as wit in Engligh and videre "see" in Latin. In earlier English, wit referrred more widely to the intellectual faculties, and to know something, in the metaphor of the parent language was to have seen it. 


Laura Cumming writes: The connection between mind and eye is always there: I see, we say, in acknowledgement of a truth, a fact or an explanation. To see is to know. We see the mind in the eye. 

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The Sioux Falls Canaries

This isn't the first raggedy t-shirt I've gotten rid of recently, although this one I didn't cut up for rags as soon as I decided I could no longer wear it. What I have heard was that the Canaries got their name because a frugal owner bought the cheapest uniforms he could find. They were yellow. I can't confirm this, only that "they were named after several minor league teams that had played in Sioux Falls over the years." Yawn. (From 2010 to 2012, the team was called the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants.) 

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Friday is Caturday

Every day Harry gets more comfortable exploring our place. Every day Lefty is a little more traumatized by Harry's imperious ways. 

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A hot day in New York City

Headed north at Cooper Square, looking towards Cooper Union & the Empire State Building, after a relaxing breakfast at B&H with old friends. So hot I was longing for, about to embrace, a cooling board. Sounds pretty good right about now, doesn't it? Maybe I'll start a band & name it Cooling Board. Don't a man feel bad when his baby's on the coolin' board. 

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Shofar in the great outdoors

In honor of my mother's second yahrzeit (anniversary of her death), I blew shofar as we do at our daily service during the month (of Elul) before the High Holidays. Went straight from the synagogue to our outdoor karate practice, where I demonstrated the shofar for my friends. A rare overlap of my many separate lives. Alisa was happy ~ she probably won't get to services, so this reminded her of the season we're in. 

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Labor Day weekend

Three cookouts in 3 days. I am an American. 

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What I'm reading

Somehow—I must have seen it recommended somewhere—I ordered a book from the library, & by the time it came I had no idea why. I do now. Thunderclap: A memoir of art and life & sudden death is a beautifully written account of both Dutch Golden Age art & the evolution of the author's eye. Her father was a painter & she's an art critic. I am simultaneously reading her book The Vanishing Velázquez, which is at least as brilliant, compelling & mind-blowing. 

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How swell to spend the afternoon with the extended Stanton crew, a dozen people lounging, laughing, eating, enjoying the end of the summer in Queens. I so very much never wanted a house but I dig that Tara does & takes pains to make things comfortable for all of us. 


You know, it's interesting that of my 5 grandchildren over the age of 18, only one has a boy/girlfriend, either now or in the past. (I don't think any of the 3 younger kids do either.) Yes, 3 are in college but ~ well, who knows if they'd tell Grandma. I do hear that kids today are less likely to be in relationships. 

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Friday is Caturday

The boys are getting along again hooray. I think the two unneutered adolescent cats on the floor were winding them up. Anyway, they were hissing & growling & avoiding each other, but now they're not only friends again, Harry (the orange cat) has decided to visit my place, which he never used to. 

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Blue moon

Hey yeah that's not the sun, it's the moon. The super blue moon, to be precise, which is the second full moon in a calendar month, & one that's full at its perigee (when the moon is closest in its orbit to the earth). Even though it's only a couple of hundred miles closer out of 200,000+, it appears 14% larger ~ I don't understand that. Also, it's kind of a ripoff that we only get one moon, & Saturn has 145, Jupiter as many as 600. We would never have become monotheists i we'd had a hundred moons. 

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Oversettelse / translation

I'm loving learning Norwegian by translating into & out of it. There's an old poet exercise of translating out of a language you don't know by using "sounds like" to get you moving. It's at least as much fun to grapple with nuance in two languages, & for me, even more so because I had never studied a living language before now. Translating is like all of the fun of writing with none of the angst: the work's been done & I'm trying to match it, elevate it, give my version of it, engage with it. I'm excited to get good enough at Norwegian that I can do valid versions. I did get compliments from two Norwegian friends about a short poem I translated so I sense that I'm improving. Exciting as hell! 

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Up on the roof

Now that the weather is starting to cool down, it's magical to go up. I have my fabulous new reclining beach chair & I get all this sky & breeze. I feel winter on the way, which also makes me happy. 

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Monday Quote

Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.

~ Johannes Brahms


Art is like sex ~ one may have skill or one may have enthusiasm but ideally your lover &/or your art has both.


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Poem of the Week

A Sea of Snow

                    —on watching fish scale clouds


What touches me

always brings me back to the past


Which has long left me

but pauses now and then to watch the present me


Which cannot but compare

the two or more of me


The most distant memories

are always the dearest


Playing in the snow with playmates

dusted all over a layer of merry icing


June Yang

July 15, 2023




Et hav av snø

                   —på å se på fiskeskjellskyer


Det som berører meg

bringer meg alltid tilbake til fortiden 


Som for lengst har forlatt meg

men tar en pause nå og da for å se på presentere meg


Som ikke kan annet å sammenligne

den to eller flere av meg


De fjerneste minnene

er alltid de kjaereste

Lekende i snøen med lekevenner

støvet over et lag med gleder glasur


norsk oversettelse av Elinor Nauen, August 2023

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Coney Island IV (last)

Inside the Wonder Wheel.

The Wonder Wheel is a ferris wheel with some cars that rock. Me, I'm fine with swirling high & seeing far. I didn't need my stomach charging off in a different direction from the rest of me. If I ever do it again it's the stationary cars for me, which also go higher. I don't know why everything has to come with "thrills." Isn't it enough to serenely soar over the Atlantic? 

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Coney Island III

Fun as Sunday was, I won't go again anytime soon. The best part, in a way, was finding a display of poems by Vincent, Sparrow, Steve Dalachinsky, & a couple other poet friends, & knowing that my world exists even out in the far reaches of the city. And finding a little storefront of the Coney Island History Project, with old photos & an account of Fred tRump smashing the beautiful Pavilion of Fun at Steeplechase Park: "An economic downturn in the mid-1960s left the park and pavilion up for sale. Trump bought up the property in 1965 to build condos there. The next year, to prevent the city from declaring the park a protected landmark, the mogul and his wealthy friends smashed the building's most famous features. Coney Islanders are no stranger to development, but none have been so happy as Trump to tear down something so loved by locals."

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Coney Island II

Me, I had & have zero interest in going on any roller coaster. When I was 19, I decided I needed all my luck for some of my other dangerous pursuits & didn't want to waste it on surviving a ride. I've never been on a roller coaster but I also have little desire for manufactured endorphins. And the older I get, the less I want to be in any sort of stressful situation, even a controlled one. I'm sure there's a basic difference between people who like rides & those who don't. I wonder if it's the same as the difference between people who want weddings & people who want to be married. A ride seems like a wedding ~ a big deal that's over in a flash, while a marriage holds constant, unpredictable thrills. 

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Coney Island

I with I could have managed to take a picture that included the heat & the noise & the thousands of bodies & the gulls & the screams & the frying food.... 


When I first knew Johnny he convinced me that a button he owned of the man from the Steeplechase ride had been made by his publisher to promote his book. I did think it looked a little like the maniacal Johnny of Mangled Hands.

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What I'm watching

Those dots in the lower left are Jens & Isak on dog sleds. 

I watch a lot of Norwegian television, in order to listen to the language. My current show is called Jens & Isak på tynn is (Jens & Isak on Thin Ice), which follows two guys who go to Greenland partly for adventure, partly to see whether there's much of a traditional lifestyle anymore. There's butchering of walrus & seals & (yikes!) a narwhal...  but there's also all that glorious snow. 


When I asked WillisWeather how soon I can I start complaining that it hasn't snowed yet, he said:

Optimism - Hanukkah
Realism - January 15
Pessimism - Your birthday
Despair - March 15
Hopelessness - April 8


All signs point to a happy winter for snow lovers even if we don't go to Greenland.

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