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I ❤️ fireworks

From my roof, July 4, 2019.

I've written many times about how much I love fireworks, for being beautiful & democratic (all you have to do is look up) & because I have so many associations throughout my life with good times & fireworks. So I am heartbroken that so many people are vigorously opposed to them, & for the very good reasons that they scare animals & are a fire danger. Don't take away birthdays! It's all I have left. Slinks to her hole.

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Jeremy, the best physical therapist in the world (& also, formerly, the best pilates instructor) gave me a diagnosis yesterday: trochanteric bursitis/gluteal tendinitis, which basically means inflammation in my hip (don't make me look at it, Jeremy! don't make me think about it too closely!). He gave me dos, don'ts & exercises, along with the very cheering prognosis of 4-6 weeks till it's a sad memory. I hadn't seen Jeremy in ages, & the amputation was totally worth it to get to hang out. If you need PT in NYC, hit me up for his info. 

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A bit of a Kara Walker work at the Whitney.

Got a member's preview of the Whitney's new show, Inheritance, the other day. Lots of interesting art but the concept seemed limited to the effect (inheritance) of slavery & racism in the United States, with a bit about pregnancy. Very literal. Not sure exactly what I was hoping for but something more complex than this. 

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Exempt human

The doctor sent me the means to do a colon cancer screening without having to get a colonoscopy. I walked outside a day or 2 ago & the box was on my step. Not in my building ~ outside on the step. I'm amazed it was still there. I called Cologuard to let them know that the delivery service was whack. Maybe no one took it, I suggested, because of "Human Specimen." She laughed: "I get 4 to 5 calls a month from people who left their box out for pickup & porch pirates grabbed it." She added: "They deserve what they get." Maybe the thieves are hoping that someone is shipping valuables & using a box like that to throw them off the scent. 

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Monday Quote

A book on the shelf is worth two in the hand. 


(I said that.)


There are a lot of us who want to own & have books as much as we want to read them. We're not hoarders, we're optimists. The books we haven't read don't disappoint. The ones we buy are pure possibility. 

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Shofar sho good

Fun to start the holiday season ~ 2 1/2 months early! ~ by holding our annual shofar review. No new prospects so we ended up mostly talking about procedures & legal requirements. In person? (Yes!) Is there any reason you shouldn't eat before you blow shofar? (I don't know why this came up, as I've never heard anyone suggest you can't, but we will find out.) Jews can nitpick about anything. It seems like a simple thing, to blow the world's oldest musical instrument, the horn of a ram. The blowing itself isn't difficult but there are quite a lot of laws, intentions, & customs concerned with shofar blowing: it is the central event in our High Holidays. 

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New career! ideas?

I've been doing this writing & editing biz for 40 years! Isn't it time for a change? Should I become an influencer or a crony? Whittled down many possibilities to these two. Thoughts?

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I was going to follow up yesterday's medieval ship with today's horrifying "submersible" & the 5 rich men who died gawking at the Titanic vs. the hundreds of refugees who died in a sinking boat without anyone trying to resuce them. But that got driven out of my head by the Authors Guild deciding to "refresh" the look of my blog, which apparently means killing off my old look. I hate how it looks now but have had no luck changing it back or to something that looks better. Ugh.

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The longest day

& the start of the long slide to Christmas, as a long-ago friend used to say. His way of parking, which often worked, was to drive right up to the front rather than grab the safe one; he often got a very close spot. We called it the Jon-Eric Child theory of parking. Just a guy, a high school friend of someone I dated. As ever, I'm interested in what sticks in my memory & what doesn't, like the name of a boy I dated around that same time. I remember his big head, his very blond hair, & that he was from the Philadelphia Main Line. I had his name for decades & then one day a couple of years ago it was gone, unretrievable (so far). Who were all those people I have loving, intimate letters from & no memory of? I even found a letter I wrote that said "when I was living in XX," a town I would swear I'd never heard of. I know it's OK not to remember everything. I know it's OK not to know everything. But I also am sure it's sitting there in my head, shoved behind a stack of unimportant data. I don't know why it drives me crazy when I can't come up with facts. It drives me about as crazy what I do remember as don't. 

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A capital ship

Here in the present is the past: a 500-year-old ship found buried in mud in a Welsh shipyard, where a nautical archaeologist is reassembling its 2,500 pieces. It was beautifully constructed, of oak, with axes and mallets, rather than saws. "We think of the medieval age as a bunch of peasants. But the people who built this ship were master craftsmen." Exact nail patterns. Complete consistency, mirrored port to starboard. "We haven't found any mistakes," says Toby Jones, curator of the Newport Medieval Ship Project. Built in Spain almost 600 years ago, it carried wine to England.


Read more in The Washington Post or go all in with The World of the Newport Medieval Ship: Trade, Politics and Shipping in the Mid-Fifteenth Century.


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Monday Quote

Young people longed to change the world, regardless of the cost to themselves or others. Older people longed for the world not to change so there would be no cost to themselves.

~ Donna Leon, author of the Brunetti detective novels, set in Venice. From So Shall You Reap, 2023


I remember having nothing to lose & how once you do (or think you do) how you get more conserving of your money/privilege/memories/power/whatever it might be. Change does now seem like I would lose rather than gain. Not sure when that happened or happens in general but I certainly have to admit it happened to me. 

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In the neighborhood

On Broadway.

How did I never hear such an obvious joke before? Corny but cute. 


I saw this on my way to see a movie at 9:30 in the morning! And it was free! And it was great! And they gave everyone a t-shirt! It was the latest Wes Anderson, Asteroid City, very stylized & beautiful &, well, corny but compelling. Riveting. He's moving way up in my pantheon that mostly contains Preston Sturges, John Ford & a couple of Archers films. Reminds me of Tristram Shandy, in that way Sterne had of joy at his own powers of creation. 

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A sentence from Joyce's Uluysses, chosen randomly from the book always at hand: 


And there rises a shining palace whose crystal glittering roof is seen by mariners who traverse the extensive sea in barks built expressly for that purpose and thither come all herds and fatlings and first fruits of that land for O'Connell Fitzsimon takes toll of them, a chieftain descnded from chieftans. 

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In the neighborhood

Our cozy home, where we are always happy together, even when we aren't. Even fighting or mad, we like each other. And thus 40 years passes & I'm still entranced.

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What I'm watching

Screenshot from my show. The Norwegian countryside is way more beautiful & dramatic than this makes it seem.

Fra bølle til bestevenn (From Bully to Best Friend) is a Norwegian dog training show. I only started watching it to listen to the language & improve my comprehension but I've come to really dig the trainer Maren, who's kind, no-nonsense & very pretty. Each season follows a handful of problematic dogs whose owners learn techniques to improve everyone's lives. They spend a few days at training camp, & part of the fun is see homes and nature around the country. 


Previously I watched a couple of sitcoms and Ikke spør om det (Don't ask about that), where members of various groups (politicians, Muslims, Downs, clairvoyants) are asking embarrassing/probing questions. That was a fun one. 

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Me 'n' Johnny, dressed for a night on the town. Hey, it's June, why aren't we going to weddings? I only have one outfit is the only problem, & the moths got to Johnny's pants. 

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What I'm reading

The Word-Hord: Daily Life in Old English, by Hana Videen, is one of my favorite books of the decade. The words she gives us, drawn from food and drink, learning, working, relationships, health, and more, "tell a story about the English language, how the language of Beowulf morphed into the words and phrases we use today. They also reveal piece by piece the history of the people who inhabited early medieval England, how they worked and played, imagined and prayed—the history of their thoughts."

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At the Century Club

In the elevator, Century Club, 7 West 43rd Street.

They warned us against cellphones so I only took this one furtive picture when we were alone in the elevator. We'd gone there to watch the tireless & generous young writer George Salis receive the first Tom LaFarge Award, enough money that he'll be able to go to Greece for three months to research his next book. He's the one who tracked me down so he could interview Johnny about Mangled Hands, which led to its being republished a year or two ago.


It was fun to get dolled up & leave the neighborhood. We like taking a bus together. We hold hands & lean in close. 

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Blankness on Friday

A pain in the leg drives out thoughts.

Fear of collapse distracts. 

It's Friday. 


But I have plans! Stay tuned! Sunday I'll have lots to say!


Oh wait, there's this: Catch up with MOI!

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In the neighborhood: another airless day

Wow, that air was BAD. I feel like the frog in the pan on the stove. Getting used to worse & worse. I've had my fun & I'm not complaining. Mostly shocked & appalled. What world is this for young people, who would, I assume, like the option I had to be careless & carefree. Almost literally harrowing, the air raking my throat like iron forks. 

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In the neighborhood

This sky is the result of hundreds of wildfires in Canada. The air is acrid & the sky is dark. Last night it was almost green, like a midwestern tornado was nigh. I have a headache & we canceled our outdoor workout. It seemed crazy to go work out when they're telling us how dangerous it is but it seemed crazy that it could be as dangerous as it is.

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In the neighborhood

I was buying shelf brackets in a store on my block. Were you affected by the Spectrum outage today, the clerk asked cheerfully. I had no internet, I said, but I checked email on my phone. Now there's nothing to do so I'm going home to get high. He laughed, said he appreciated my honesty & gave me a small discount on my purchase. It was almost like flirting! 

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Monday Quote

Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson


In karate we say Control the body, control the breath, control the mind. Same idea. 

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In the neighborhood

Another sign of summer is that the flower sellers are back at the Tompkins Square Sunday greenmarket. Or maybe they've been here all along & I haven't gone by. Anyway, here are today's. One of the FM radio guys used to say it was one of the 10 best days of the year. Today would be on his list. Sunny, cool, beaming. 

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Poem of the Week

Part of the way I am learning Norwegian is translating poems into and out of the language. Entirely for my own immersion & improvement. Here's an old poem of mine that I translated into Norwegian. Noe av måten jeg lærer meg norsk på er å oversette dikt inn og ut av språket. Her er et gammelt dikt av meg som jeg har oversatt til norsk.



On the Bus


As much sky tonight in NYC as buildings

along First Ave

on the bus

I'm overcome

Becky's birthday and I am on my way

8 white wagons and 3 radios

summer at work and some

are going to work

A surveyor strolls the UN grounds, expansive and proud

everyone is beautiful

and relieved, it's only a dollar

only a dollar and we can ride

into the night that bears your name

There's Queens down 34th St, wide open

the Nebraska of New York

I'm not a 14th-century serf and I am no tycoon

white dress, bare legs, 93˚

Comfort me, come to me

"I love you my heart is innocent"

Where are you going

July New York?



På Bussen


Like mye himmel i kveld i NYC som bygninger

langs First Avenue

på bussen

Jeg er overveldet

Bursdag til Becky og jeg er på vei

åtte hvite vogner og tre radioer

sommer på arbeid og noen

skal på jobb

en landmåler rusler på FNs område, vidstrakt og stolt

alle er vakre

og lettet, det er bare en dollar

bare en dollar så kan vi ri

inn i natten som bærer ditt navn

Det er Queens ned 34th Street, vidåpen

Det Nebraska i New York

Jeg er ikke en tjener fra 1400-tallet og jeg er ingen tycoon

hvit kjole, nakne bein, 34°

Trøst meg, kom til meg

"Jeg elsker deg, mitt hjerte er uskyldig"

Hvor skal du, 

Juli New York?

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(Poem of the Week)

And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, come perfect days. 


Anyone from Sioux Falls who attended Lowell School knows these lines, I would wager, from James Russell Lowell's poem "The Vision of Sir Launfal." My hometown was founded in the Centennial year of 1876, so it's not surprising that many schools were named after notable 19th-century Americans: Longfellow, Hawthorne, Garfield, Eugene Field, Cleveland, Horace Mann, Whittier, Edison (my junior high). 


I've written about this before, but when I was little, I assumed that my school was named after our milkman, Jim Lowell, who would let us ride in his truck: Of course they should name a school after him. When I discovered who James Russell Lowell really was, I dug that just as much. 

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