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En litt norsk til deg

Ikke bruk Google Oversett... Jeg vet ikke noe å skrive på engelsk, så jeg skal skrive på norsk. Hmmm. Jeg er hjernedød på norsk også. Jeg føler meg søvnig ... glemsom ... litt sulten... ensom ... blå... God natt, Irene. 

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From the vault

It was very exciting to get stopped by a young man one day a few years ago who asked if I was local. He turned out to be James Maher, a photographer doing a feature called "Out & About in the East Village" for the hyperlocal (& still going strong) blog EV Grieve. I had forgotten about it, but the picture popped up today & I went back & read the whole thing. Really nice comments too. Here it is, if you're interested. I'm too sleepy to get that picture wrangled into my blog, but it's nice. 

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Challah, por favor

Signs of summer: wanting to go home after walking 20 feet & lie down in the air conditioning; people wearing wisps of clothing; cucumber soup from B&H, my favorite restaurant. It's made with buttermilk, a dash of cream, lots of fresh chunks of cucumber, a little dill. Quenching! 


I learned enough Polish to thank Bagushka, who makes the soup, but then instead of "tasty soup," I could only remember how to say, "I am an old woman" ("jestem stara kobieta"). So I said that to her by way of thanks, & one of the Mexican guys who works there turned & said, You're not an old woman! How do YOU speak Polish? I wanted to know. He shrugged: I work in delis.


And there you have a great New York story to go with the fact that B&H, a kosher restaurant, is owned by a Muslim couple who are Egyptian and Polish. 

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Monday Quote

To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.

~ Aldous Huxley


Which really means to see the best in people, because isn't that how we see ourselves? Even when we're hard on ourselves, we're often a little proud of being more rigorous (or more lame, more scatterbrained, more clean....)



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Poem of the Week


            for Irene Phillips (11/7/1921 – 7/23/2021)



when the heart breaks

everything hurts

my hair hurts


my face is someone else's ~

someone without an aunt

someone who was loved 


when the heart breaks, the fear starts

the fear, the anger (the unfairness!)

I needed you, I need you


her laugh full of mischief

holds me

in a glitter of love


much larger than sorrow

the lovely love

of peaceful Irene

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High school reunion

It was a vacation into memory, all us nice kids who studied Latin & shop, were cheerleaders & homeroom monitors, did synchronized swimming & played basketball, listened to our teachers, walked home in blizzards wearing nylons... A different time. Yet we were the same, except with better conversations, 50 years of thoughts & events to share. Tolerant, kind, interested. I went to a big cliché of an American high school, it turns out. I loved it then & I love that it's my past. I got to apologize to a boy I beat up in 4th grade. He didn't remember it, thank goodness, or else I gave him a brain injury. How many people were there that I've known since kindergarten? A good handful. I didn't take enough photos, for sure, but their faces are locked in my brain & heart. It doesn't mean anything to be there but it means a lot to have gone. 

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Going away

I went to a going away party for a friend of my sister's who's moving to: see the arrow on the flourless almond cake? Yes, Tunis. She is legendary for being the only one (along with her husband) to follow a wedding invite's direction to come dressed in the costume of your native land. She rented a St. Pauli girl outfit, & ended up getting in free everywhere afterwards, as it was Oktoberfest. A good sport. The cake was pretty good too.

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My wonderful sister got me this mask in our long-running private Scandinavia fest. (Thanks, Vee!) I want to say that I am grinning my face off in this picture. How is it possible that I look so gloomy? 

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Isn't this little hacienda the cutest?

I felt a surprising burst of envy for my family's nice lives in big houses, with cars, orderly, full of dinners & activities. We drove by this duplex on Cleveland Avenue & my future changed. Luckily, it's not for sale.


Well, I'm home & NY looks pretty good, even without any food in the fridge. It took the cat about 20 minutes to realize who I was. It took Johnny no time at all. 


I loved my reunion, loved catching up with my oldest friends, some of whom I've known since kindergarten. We're ready to meet up again in 4 years. I love how Sioux Falls looks now ~ both shiny-new & gritty-old. I guess that's all the analysis I'm going to manage. It was a warm bath of love & remembering, a spa vacation on memory lane.

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Monday Quote

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.

~ William Faulkner


I don't know if it was courage as much as the inability to stay. I set out for new horizons, which turned out to be the intention to have an interesting life, mostly because I didn't want anything on offer in Sioux Falls. I had to go because I couldn't stay. It may seem like courage but it would have taken more to stay home when I knew it was wrong for me. 

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The Nioux Sioux Falls

I've never seen the water in the Falls so low.

Really something to see all the bike & walking trails, how the Falls area has been beautified. This is not my Sioux Falls of 50 years ago in so many ways. It's great to see that the city has been smart about development. 


As for my high school reunion: why didn't I take more pictures? Still processing but I'll have highlights soon enough. 

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Sioux Falls

The federal building, Sioux Falls, a block from my dad's office & my high school. 

Reunion doesn't even start till tonight & I've already seen many of the people I most want to. I like easing into it, getting some talks before it's all a jumble of "oh my goodness" & "how are you?!" & "where are you living now." I kind of love being this old & able/willing to be real with people. Realizing again why I like the people I did. I only have an hour before the next event so I will pick this up again later. So very happy to be here!

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A cool day in Minnesota

My mother enjoying the fresh air & lilies outside Sholom Home in St. Paul.

The nicest part of the day was sitting outside in a soft rain, chatting & remembering. The most exciting was meeting my 6-month-old nephew Levi, who is the most responsive baby with more expressions than a ham actor. What fun! And in a little while I set off for Sioux Falls & yet more fun.

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Jackalope crossing, St. Paul, near Summit Avenue.

Easy & in the end normal to fly & now I'm in St. Paul. Already saw my mom, who is doing great, Janet, who is leaving today for a week & I'm glad I had a chance to see her at all, & had dinner with a side of tater tots (tater tots!) that could have fed four hungry people. I'd forgotten midwest portions. Luckily my sister cooks moderately & healthy so my breakfast was an egg white omelette with veggies. And even thought covid is back in my mother's nursing home, they gave me emergency authorization to see her whenever I can make it over. All good! 

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On my way...

Getting on a plane this morning for the first time in almost a year & a half. A little nervous. Headed to Minnesota to see family (especially my 97-year-old mom & my new great-nephew, Levi) & then on down to Sioux Falls for my high school reunion. I plan to keep up my blog while I'm away but if anything is amiss with my iPad, which has been a bit recalcitrant of late, you may not get hot-off-the-press excitement updates till next week. Oh boy! 

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Monday Quote

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

~ Joseph Addison


A sound mind in a sound body, right? 

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In the neighborhood

I love coming upon a new sign commemorating the East Village's interesting history. I had never heard of Otto Mauer or his Magical Bazaar, at 2nd St & the Bowery (just a couple of blocks from me). According to the text, he made and sold magic and juggling apparatus, performed and taught magic here. Houdini worked across the street at the Globe Dime Museum and may have learned the back palm card trick from Mauer. 

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First class

How great to take a black belt class with Kaicho, our grandmaster. Only vaxxed people so we were able to go unmasked & even do a little partner work. Gradually the dojo is coming back to life. After that class, I went to the Chelsea group workout & got tons of useful tips for real-life fighting from Jun Shihan Craig. He's the black belt who I look at when I wonder what I should look like. His posture, technique & understanding of martial arts are unparalleled. And now I'm beat.

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Even hotter

Millard Fillmore ... or Alec Baldwin??

Still frigging hot & this site of the hottest heads of state is right on point. If you ever needed to see a picture of a dreamy young Theodore Roosevelot or proof that Millard Fillmore & Alec Baldwin are twins, this is for you. They also sell candles. 

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100° here & 70° in Alabama, heatwaves in the rainy Pacific Northwest. It's crazy. I guess I can understand not believing that the climate is disintegrating. I would like to be sitting in this serene cool place, instead of heading back out to do errands. How's the weather where YOU are?

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I am impressed and encouraged that the Pulitzer journalist (for The 1619 Project) Nikole Hannah-Jones has chosen to go to historically black Howard and decided against teaching at UNC following a bitter fight over the tenure that others have received with the same post in the graduate journalism department. "I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans," she said in the Washington Post.


A candidate for a chemistry faculty position at UNC withdrew from consideration in solidarity with Hannah-Jones.


Part of what will make people change is suffering consequences for their racism. Just as suffering consequences (loss of job, loss of access) might make some people decide to get vaccinated. 

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Monday Quote

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. 

~ Thomas Paine


On this Independence Day weekend, it's good to be reminded that with rights and privileges comes the responsibility to help make the world fairer and better for all, through sacrifice, money, participation—through whatever one can do. All of us have that obligation.

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**GUEST** Poem of the Week

A church in Brooklyn. 

I had the idea to open up my blog to some guests (& not the scammers who are always offering to write a free piece for my blog — why?). To start off, the wonderful big-hearted Diana Rickard, but then I thought of Anselm's poem & that this was the day Ted died (& the day Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter for the Yanks against the Red Sox, which I told Ted in a dream a couple weeks after he died). So there's 2 posts today. I love Diana's work: 


Listen Up


I give freely of my colors and their light

desire only a passionate voice, confident leather

Gradual accumulation of crumbs at my feet

and a solemn liquidy password failure

Grey frog in a granny cap

breaks the rays with leafy shadows

So easy to take pleasure in the dry sun

just hide near the prickly flower

drift from the potted greens

An ulterior woman wearing tardy boots

raises a conscious brow

Two bees hover with intent

and my nerves are incredibly selfish

This shiny coat holds a steady gaze

Little birds move in jerky bursts

The benches rock with possibility

Another noon is over

another stroll begins

It's all happening in Brooklyn, right now

The air is everywhere

and I am ready with my three wishes

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**GUEST** Poem of the Week

Ted was a great American — you can tell because he died on Independence Day. 

For a while I paid people to write my poems for me. Since the going rate was $1, I mostly didn't get very good work. Except for this brilliant poem by Anselm Berrigan. He wrote it but it's my poem & totally worth the buck. Today, the 38th anniversary of the death of his father, the poet Ted Berrigan, is the day to share this, since it's modeled after Ted's "Poets of the Future." 


 Girlfriends of the Future


Girlfriends of the future —


You didn't marry Johnny Stanton —

I did. 

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I mean, I know this is me, but it's so much not what I look like but what I think I look like & guess used to look like. I am having stomping confusion! I think Johnny took it when we were in the Black Hills 20-odd years ago. I found this in a drawer where it has probably been since it was taken. Who am I? Who was I? Which me is me? I feel like I am living in several streams of time all at the same time.

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I'm desultorily reading a book (Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and how art imagines our world, by Philip Hoare) about the 16th-century German artist. You can get lost in these eyes. But I don't think I've managed to get lost in the book. Anyone else read it? Should I persist? 

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