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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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From the vault

And speaking of Willis(Weather)(aka Steve), he sent me this photo a day or 2 ago. I am pretty sure it's from a trip we took in 2011 to Charleston, Savannah, the Okefenokee, & Waycross, the latter only so I could bellow "Miller's Cave" a million times: "I had me a girl in Waycross, Georgia...." The Thunderbird is in Savannah & we had been there together in the 70s, with Forrister. There's not much more to the story than that we have been friends for more than 50 years & there are many little wedges & niches of things we remember together, meaningful mostly because we share them. Like, for example, the other day he posted about crepe myrtle & we both remembered me seeing it for the first time & asking him what it was. I have loved crepe myrtle ever since, & I've loved Steve much longer. 

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In the neighborhood: Mushrooms!

5th Street between 1st & A.

Giant ones in a long arc. They weren't there a couple of days earlier. I guess that's their thing, right? To appear suddenly & settle in. I used to say Johnny was a fungus ~ he grew on me. And settled in.

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The Short Story Book Club

A great invention: a few of us wanted to talk about literature but everyone has plenty of books to read & didn't want to commit to someone else's choice or schedule. And so was born the Short Story Book Club. It's so undemanding that we can meet every other week or so, & everyone's choices are welcome. No one is attached to any particular suggestion because we'll need another one right away. We meet by zoom for an hour or so & chitchat about the story & what to read next, & both are fun. We've read Tennessee, William Carlos, & Joy Williams, Chekhov, "The Lottery" of Shirley Jackson, Sam Shepard, Lucia Berlin, Rachel Kushner, Ottessa Moshfegh, Henry James, Grace Paley ... I'm sure I'm leaving out a few. We all love our little group & we're all learning about writing from figuring out how others do it. 

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Corn & Rivers

Fresh corn! I didn't cook it or put anything on it. Totally delicious gnawed off the cob. 


And the Larry Rivers work, signed to Johnny by "the creator himself" is also a treasure. Johnny was his personal trainer when he was going after the young'uns. 

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In the neighborhood

East 2nd Street, August 13, 2023.

There were boxes of books & these two meticulously mounted & labeled photo displays. I guess someone died. I so badly wanted someone to keep them. The family none of us had. The aunt who had time to assemble these. The stories no one is left to tell or hear. Eddie kept a copy of The Human Comedy & the rest of us looked & left. 

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Monday Quote

The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it. 

~ Laurence Sterne


This struck me because I just sent away for my transcript from my time at City College. I didn't even remember what years I was there, & didn't remember or didn't know I was on the Dean's List. I earned a total of 46 credits! I did go to college! 

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In the neighborhood: what lies behind

The Double Dragon Chinese restaurant in the next block from me closed abruptly a couple of weeks ago. Apparently the two small buildings next to it are going to be torn down & something (hideous) built in their place. The sign went too & I'm trying to remember what was BET(ter?) before Double Dragon. I know it opened since I've lived here. Was that where the bakery was? It was so great to go up to their door, which was open but gated, late at night & get a fresh hot roll or two, often for free. They've been gone for decades. The vegetable stand was in the next block, I think, & the Army-Navy surplus store was on the corner ~ two corners, in fact, 3rd & 4th. Amazing that we supported two identical stores. I wish I had documented the street more thoroughly. 

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Friday is Caturday

Meet Alaska & Niko, my neighbor's 9-month-olds. Still men. She's been camping in Vermont so I've been hanging out with them this week. Cats are so easy to love. 

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I thought I was her daddy

When we moved into a new house in Sioux Falls (across the street from our old one), the girls who lived there before us left a pile of .45s. The girls were Corky & Cindy Winter, who were a couple years older than me. Corky was the homecoming queen of my high school. One of the records was "Cocaine Blues," I think by someone other than Johnny Cash.


OK, I knew what a shot of whiskey was & so "I took a shot of cocaine" didn't faze me. But this line stumped me: "I thought I was her daddy but she had five more." I spent a lot of time pondering it. 


Why did I never ask anyone when I had questions like that? 

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The voice of the turtle

Thinking yesterday about "sun on the beach" made me remember how enthralled I was with the line from Song of Songs (Shir haShirim): The voice of the turtle is heard in the land. I puzzled over that line a lot. Isn't the turtle silent? (Mine have always been.) So nothing is heard? Was it a more gloomy line than it seemed? The explanation was simple ~ it's turtledove, the bird not a reptile ~ but the line remains beautiful & evocative. 


I can remember other confusions....

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Sand on the beach

One more photo from Sunday beach training. This reminds me of a movie my family saw when I was little. 


A man staying in a guesthouse says something about "sun on the beach" & almost gets kicked out by his prim hostess. I remember not understanding what was wrong with saying sun on the beach.


The movie was called, I believe, Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation. ... Checking... Yes! I'm sure that was it. Stars James Stewart & the gorgeous Maureen O'Hara. 

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Monday Quote

To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind.
~ Théophile Gautier (1811-72), French poet & critic


Nothing to say. it's nice & possibly meaningless or poorly translated. But I like this kind of tidy mobius strip of a comparison. 

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Beach training

One of my favorite Seido events. We leave at 4 & meditate till sunrise. Traditionally, the Japanese honor loved ones who are no longer with us, something I do plenty of. Then we work out. This year was fantastic ~ great weather & as always, the morning (which ends by 8) is capped off with watermelon. 

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Poem of the Week

Zack Berger & I each translated half a dozen poems by each of us into Yiddish & Norwegian, respectively. So there also a Yiddish version but I have to get his permission to post it. 



Tiny Instructive Poem


Between the cat & the fat

the claws & the jaws

all my clothes

are full of holes



Lite lærerikt dikt

Mellom katten og fettet

klørne og kjevene

alle klærne mine

er fulle av hull

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with complaining about my health


which is fine. 


From here on in I rag nobody


is the great last line from the great novel Bang the Drum Slowly


I used to reread every winter when there was no baseball news


but I haven't read it for a while.


Pretty sure I can lay my hands on my copy. 



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Tom Waits for no man

2/3 of Vicki Kristina Barcelona, Rachelle on the left

How great to hear my old friend Rachelle & her terrific three-woman band Vicki Kristina Barcelona in a neighborhood park last night. Perfect weather & they are great. They sing Tom Waits songs in three-part harmony, with accordion, washboard, & many more instruments. All three have fantastic & distinctive voices; together they are way more than the sum of their parts. 

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Time is on my side?

Turned in articles, sent in invoices, & had a few hours without obligations. Spent most of that time deleting open emails. I don't know how many there were, & still are. I don't know how to keep up with them. It's been months since I had zero unopened in my inbox. I delete as fast as I can but there's always more. No wonder I don't know where I am in time. I mean, I know it's 2023 but it is also 1985 & 1967 & for all I know, 1885 as well. The weird simultaneity that only becomes apparent when you've been an adult for a few decades. It seems so random what I remember to the day (August 2, 1987) & what I can only guess "the 90s?" about. This is often triggered when I see an unfamiliar photo of myself from ages ago, when it's obvious that I'm no longer her, except that I absolutely am. 

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