Johnny was there too, lots of laughing, lots of relaxing, & a nice salad. Her jacket is based on work of Joe Brainard.
Thursday in the Park with Sandy
Poem of the Week
An hour or less
stuck in endless service
just to say kaddish
I wrote it & Liza made it a poem. It's someone else's found poem, I guess.
If you were the tweezers I keep in my office, & you weren't in the one place I keep them, where would you be? If you were an extra hour of time in my day, where would you be hiding & how can i coax you out? If you were a pile of dry words, how could i set you on fire? ("It only served to w(h)et my appetite, which was already damp.") If you couldn't keep your eyes open, blueberry pie.
Monday Quote: It takes a heap o' livin' to make a house a home
The scientist is a builder. Collecting scientific data can be compared to gathering stones for a house; a stack of data is no more "science" than a heap of stones is a house. Unstudied scientific results are just a dead heap of stones.
~ Kristian Birkeland, 1903
Birkeland is a Norwegian scientist who studied and explained the Aurora Borealis. I'm reading The Northern Lights, by Lucy Jago, a fascinating account of science, biography, & Arctic exploration.
Up on the roof
Sheesh! Can you see that the left side of the cornice is barely attached? I sent this picture to the landlord, who said, "It's being taken care of." I've been telling him for months, maybe a year. I will feel way worse than he will if it crashes down & hurts anyone. Well, it'll cost him money so maybe he'd feel worse, at that.
Longing to be on the go
Will I keep my vow to leave the country every year? Not looking promising for 2021. Will I see the beautiful skyline of Barcelona anytime soon? Eat tapas with my Catalonian sister? Happy birthday, my Mercè, on La Mercè, Barcelona's annual festival, & yes, that's why she was named Mercè. Born any other day, she would have been named ... I forget.
Now that it's fall, I can start anticipating winter. To kick off the runup to my favorite season, I watched Ice Ball, a terrific short documentary about harvesting ice in northern Minnesota, featuring explorer Will Steger, & then I joined the American Polar Society.
Poems of the Week
I wish I could go do readings in Australia but having poems in this very terrific magazine, The Rochford Street Review, will have to do for now. Tonight starts my next class, Norwegian V (aka Norwegian: Language and Culture), so I'll probably be fixing the heck out of these poems soon enough. I sort of feel like I've gotten up on stage at Carnegie Hall after 6 tuba lessons, before I understand how impossible it is.
Not infrequently, I catch myself singing the weather ball jingle. The weather balls were scattered around Sioux Falls, on top of the several National Bank buildings. When we were driving downtown, we would twist our heads out the car window & up to see what was coming. One decoded the colors based on the jingle (which could be heard incessantly on the radio & never wore out its welcome — we sang along every time; call me if you need to hear it!):
Weather ball, white as snow, down the temperature will go [the melody sank]
Weather ball, red as fire, temperature is going higher [the melody soared]
Weather ball, emerald green, forecast says no change foreseen.
When colors blink in agitation... there's going to be ... precipitation!
WATCH. THE. BALL!
Those are the utterly correct lyrics, but some people must have grown up in one of the other cities, largely in the Midwest I think, that had weather balls. Sioux City's jingle is pretty much the same as ours — what I remember as "blink" could easily be "flash." Eric Renshaw (Forgotten Sioux Falls) has a lot of info, including stodgy lyrics but also photos; the weather ball was, of course, way more impressive when it was doing its thing.
We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious.
~ W. G. Sebald
For want of a nail.... the small things are the large things...
In the neighborhood
I sat in this park way on the Lower East Side (Grand Street between Jackson & Madison) waiting for my appointment in the mammogram truck. My city council member Carlina Rivera had arranged it. It took a while because the truck was in a bus stop waiting for a spot on Jackson, which turned out to be too skinny for the city bus to get by, so the truck ended up back where it began, 2 hours later. But Carlina & her husband, Jamie, came by with their dog Toshi, Carlina as warm as ever. The people who want her gone think she wants to destroy the East River Park. Is her plan the best one? The people who understand the engineering of this narrow, threatened strip of land disagree. And who "wants" to destroy a park? I didn't ask her about that. She hugged me hard when I told her about my mom. A beautiful early fall day.
Williams x Williams
Like me, Lefty appreciates one of the greatest lines in English literature:
The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky
Happy birthday, Hank Williams.
And happy birthday, William Carlos Williams. And as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry.
Tonight starts Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. I've gotten used to not being or feeling prepared. By which I usually mean switching slowly to decaf so I don't get a caffeine detox headache while I fast & pray. That's a little flip, as what we're really doing is making an honest accounting of our lives over the course of 27 hours. The fasting is so we don't distract ourselves from that work.
No blog tomorrow. An easy fast to those who indulge.
It's the weirdest feeling, as if I was picked up & put back down on Jupiter & now I weigh 400 pounds (how can a planet that's all gas weigh so much? well, how can clouds hold up all that precipitation?). I can't quite think & I can't quite feel, & where does that leave me?
Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.
~ Russell Baker
Randomly chosen, not pointing at any in particular of the many terrible things being done. I'm too sleepy to think. Hey, folks, any comments? Anyone wanna do the thinking for me?
In the neighborhood
It's confusing to have so much to think about. And yet, I have the leisure to grapple with my mother's passing on my own schedule. There are many compensations in the midst of grief, such as seeing her laid to rest next to my dad—that is, knowing where she is. The terrible anniversary of September 11 reminds me that many, many people don't have parents who live as long as mine, or the embracing closure my family did. I avoided the commemorations until someone sent this intense piece by the daughter of a member of my synagogue who worked on the tower for one of the TV stations and died on that day.
My dad died more than half my life ago. I was young, impetuous, & missing the fences that come with age, karate, religious observance, marriage, & who knows what else. I went to the bad. It's only been two weeks but I've managed to so far counter that feeling of desperation with all of the fences I didn't have then, along with Angela Thirkell, my favorite middlebrow writer of English country manners in the mode of Trollope. I just reread Wild Strawberries, my first Thirkell & still one of my favorites.
I can kind of see that all my posts are going to be incomplete for a while.
Woke up this morning feeling more like myself. Feeling like I have begun to return to myself. Tuesday & Wednesday were Rosh HaShanah, which also has a theme of teshuvah, which literally means return. In this case, it implies repentance and the desire/struggle to return to better ways.
Many struggles this stretch of time.
Grief is exhausting.
Little by little, we find a way.
Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they are not familiar.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
That was poetry's usefulness to me this week, making the familiar unfamiliar, but better, making the unfamiliar part of a world that I recognized, when so much seems to have changed. The only time I could focus was reading Basil Bunting, Whitman & others, randomly, whatever my hand landed on. Each time I was centered.