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A little thought

I sometimes wonder if the U.S. has poured out our blood giving liberty to as much of the world as we could get to (yes, imperfectly, yes of course but—) and have ended up etoliated ourselves. A hundred years ago Spain (for example) was a brutal medieval country; we sent resources and men. Today, Spain is ahead of us in certain liberties and privileges.


Did we give too much? Did we give something essential that we couldn't afford to lose?


I'm absolutely not an isolationist.


What we seem to have given up is the will to uphold our own democracy. Have we? 

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Tales from the Pound

My next-door neighbor Andrew, who was a chef, went to live with a girlfriend in Brooklyn and sublet to someone we rarely saw. One day there was a terrible stench in the hall. Maggie, a paramedic, identified it instantly as rotting flesh. No one answered our knock and when we finally tracked down Andrew, he couldn't get hold of his friend. Should we break in? He had to be dead in there. What else could it be? Andrew flew in & discovered that his restaurant-style freezer had turned itself off and the side of beef he had in there had decomposed. The tenant was away. 

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Elinor & the Ivy League

Firestone Library, special collections.

Princeton recently bought Johnny's Siamese Banana Press archives & they already owned KOFF magazine, so we were invited down to talk about our magazines & the atmosphere of the poetry scene in the 70s. One thing about Princeton is they did us right: sent us there & home in a car, put us up overnight, an honorarium. But even better was the knowledgeable interest & enthusiasm from the people who came. It's always great when questions elicit new insights. 


Now if I could just figure out how to make a living talking about myself. 

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A drive

The beautiful New Jersey turnpike. 

I'm never more myself than when I'm in a car. 

Even if someone else is driving.

Even if I'm in the back seat. 

Even on the New Jersey turnpike. 


It's what I do.

It's who I am. 

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The Northern Lights

Whoohoo! Maggie & I just paid a (hefty) deposit to go on a fancy trip to northern Sweden in December to see reindeer & the Northern Lights. As Member #16,394 of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I got the info & put my name in instantly. I've tried to get in on these trips other times but never made it.  


Here's what they have to say:

The epic winter landscape of frozen lakes and ancient pine and spruce forests in the heart of Swedish Lapland is the stunning destination for our Sky Holiday in Nov/Dec 2024. This region is part of Sápmi, the ancestral homeland of the Sámi people, which stretches right across northern Scandinavia. This remote and enchanted land is located directly beneath the aurora oval. If we are lucky with the weather, it's one of the world's best locations for experiencing the beauty of the Northern Lights.


This Sky Holiday is being hosted by Cloud Appreciation Society Member 001, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, who will be giving an illustrated talk about the atmosphere in general and the science behind the aurora borealis. Our lodge is also home to a large pack of happy huskies, who'll take us out by sled to explore their frozen forest. We'll learn about the region's indigenous Sámi culture. We will enjoy delicious gourmet meals prepared by the lodge chef with local ingredients. 80 miles (110 km) north of the Arctic Circle, the winter days are short  but there are long hours of twilight, which we will fill with fantastic outdoor activities.  Husky sledding through the woods, a snowmobile trip to meet reindeer and their herders, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are all included – and, of course, full use of the lodge's sauna. If we're lucky enough to be treated to a great aurora display, we'll be in the perfect location, away from all light pollution, just to step outside and marvel as the northern lights dance across the night sky.

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Monday Quote

A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Is this the same as the old story about the first man who says everyone in the village is mean and shady, and the second man who says everyone in that same village is generous and warm, and obviously they find what they're prepared to find. I'm rubber you're glue bounces off me and sticks to you. 

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Pigeons, pigeons

S/he flew! S/he flew away & came back to visit. Just now I spotted PiJean out on 5th Street frolicking with a new friend. My job is done. My job was to be amazed at how fast s/he grew up. It only seems that fast with a human kid, but it works out the same, pretty much. 


I would post as many pictures of PiJean as I do of my cat(s), but this blog host has a limit & I'm close & even besotted as I am, I realize not everyone wants to see basically the same pose over & over. 

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New show at Tibor de Nagy on Rivington Street, collages of drawings, jigsaw puzzles, & more by the artist Jess, who was Robert Duncan's partner for 30 years. This was my favorite of the works. I only stopped in for a minute, will have more to say when I go back. 

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It once was lost but now it's found

I lost my debit card & a bra & The Poets Encyclopedia.


Then I found them all.


I know perfectly well losing & finding on the same day is coincidence, & also know we humans love pattern. 


Call it magic, call it luck, call it belated focus.

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A pigeon lying on its back under the outdoor stairs, its feet sticking straight up. It almost seemed like a cartoon drawing ~ how you would make sure people knew it was dead. Another pigeon attacked, driving its beak into the first one's face. Trying to wake it up or was it cannibalism? It flapped! Not dead at all.


Later, it was definitely dead: eviscerated & bloody. Two dead pigeons. What the hell is going on? Who are the dead pigeons? What killed them? What tore them open?


Meanwhile, PiJean's parents have built a new nest in a recess below the ledge where PiJean was born. Rats come & go & yet there they are. PiJean is still on his(her) ledge, as far as we know not yet flying. Her(his) parents won't go up there & totally ignore him. 


Maybe this is all run of the mill pigeon behavior. I will have to read a good bit more. It's upsetting but at least PiJean (full grown!) is alive.

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Poetry everywhere

Fun to prepare for a reading. This is not going to overlap with the one I did a few weeks ago. It's on Zoom & some old SoDak friends will be there so I'm focusing on the midwest. And because my junior high school English teacher said he'd listen, I can't bring myself to overdo the sex & swearing. I just wish I kept my files better. I keep finding poems I'd forgotten about or can't find ones I maybe want to read. 


Also: where's my bank card? I'm sure I didn't lose it but it's not where it always is so I have no idea where to look. But I looked everywhere. Damn, I guess I had better cancel it. 

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Monday Quote

Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.

~ Simone de Beauvoir


And makes one impervious to other's doubts. Even recognizing one's cowardice can make one braver. 

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PiJean at 4 weeks

PiJean is now two-thirds the size of her parents. She's flapping her wings but not quite flying. I saw her walk ~ maybe for the first time because she was wobbling. Someone stole her nest this morning & she's cowering behind a bucket. My neighbor saw one of her parents holding her beak in his, reassuring her, Lou was sure. I've been reading up on pigeons ~ they are loyal, smart, & have incredible insight, among other things. Having them roosting here has really opened my heart. 

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Friday is Caturday

Cat in a box!

This is Harry, my neighbor's cat, who has taken 2 years to slowly warm up to me. Today he pushed his head into my hand ~ a first. He's beautiful. And mean to Lefty. Except when they're getting along, which is about half the time. Harry's definitely the alpha of the crew.

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My bank

My bank (branch) moved from the corner of 4th St & 2nd Ave, to the corner of 7th St & 2nd Ave. Not far, but the people who work there are giddy with pleasure, as though they'd moved several neighborhoods and this was all new.


They seemed to be at loose ends when I stopped in. One showed me around, told me their plans, asked me questions. It felt less like a bank than a neighborhood restaurant. And yes, the balloons & banners are on their way.  I made sure to tell them about B&H, a couple doors up. "I know about B&H on 34th Street," the manager said. Nope, this is a restaurant. They want to be part of the neighborhood but aren't quite there yet, I guess.


It's a much bigger spot than the old one, with two large open areas, one where you could have a conference, one with some comfortable looking chairs. I'm welcome to hang around, as long as I don't come with three large dogs and sleep. 

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My sister Edie

Edie was born in Germany on March 13, 1935, and came to America in January of 1939. I don't know that she ever went back. Her mother, Ilona, died when she was around 10, and then my dad married again, my mother, so Edie became the much-older big sister to 4 more of us. She loved us simply and unstintingly. She was adventurous, hitchhiking with a girlfriend to California after her high school graduation in 1953. She married three times in Las Vegas: "Vegas is lucky for me!" she declared. She was a dramatic cook, who liked her guests to watch her toss a caesar salad. She drove a red Mustang. She stayed with me for a couple of days when I hadn't lived in New York for very long, & for years after that, guys I had never seen before would ask me if my sister was going to be visiting again soon. A champagne personality, her daughter, Ilona, often says. She took me to my first X-rated movie. One of my sisters smoked pot for the first time with her. I think my brother got his card sharp side from staying up all night on the porch, dealing hand after hand of gin rummy with Edie. My other sister told a similar story "of corruption" at her funeral. She led the way, as a big sister should. I don't know if she realized how much easier I had it because she was a rebel before me. I miss her a lot & still get confused when I count siblings: two sisters is unbearably fewer than three. 

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If you ask Johnny if he's comfortable, he will always say, with his best-but-terrible imitation of a Catskill comedian's accent & shrug: I make a living. 


After suffering for 6 months ~ a year ~ our entire marriage with a comforter where all the feathers flew to one corner, so if one person turned the other was left naked, we actually BOUGHT A NEW COMFORTER. And two covers. We are so shoemaker's-children-going-barefoot about everything that I can't get over the dispatch with which that comforter was ordered & delivered. O honey! what a good night's sleep we had! 


We are comfortable. 

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Monday Quote: Black hole, baby!

So often in my experience, nature wants to be beautiful.

~  astronomer Avery Broderick


It's fun sometimes to appreciate without understanding. 

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Post-viral malaise

That's what my cousin called it. Still struggling to stay awake much of the day. Managed to order a new comforter, read a lot, make it to the store for soup. Little by little, each task magnified by its cocoon of fatigue. 

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Poem of the Week

Teaching Second Grade

                 "Put colors in your poems"


Triangles are green.

A red kite

& a Donald Duck kite, a gray

& white squirrel,

flowers we love

to pink. Don't lose

your baby gun:

bang! bang! bang!

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PiJean & me

The pigeon that hatched 3 weeks ago is bigger & more pigeon-like every single day. It started out bright yellow like a duckling & now has feathers everywhere except on its head. I, meanwhile, continue bedraggled by the norovirus & have heard several people say it took 3 weeks or more to fully recover. That's my report. I'm planning or at least hoping to be as bouncy as an adolescent pigeon before PiJean is an adult.

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Journalism & democracy

I encourage you to read Margaret Sullivan's op-ed in today's Washington Post, "Our democracy is under attack. Washington journalists must stop covering it like politics as usual." "Mainstream journalists want their work to be perceived as fair-minded and nonpartisan," Sullivan writes. "They want to defend themselves against charges of bias. So they equalize the unequal."


Some of her suggestions that might reframe the what-aboutism that seems to be destroying democracy:

• Toss out the insidious "inside-politics" frame and replace it with a "pro-democracy" frame.
• Stop calling the reporters who cover this stuff "political reporters." Start calling them "government reporters."

• Stop asking who the winners and losers were in the latest skirmish. Start asking who is serving the democracy and who is undermining it.

There's more & it's worth contemplating. 


Update: I wrote this over 2 years ago & only today realized I'd never published it. I don't know why not. Still worth a read. 

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Bird of the Year

.... is the red-shafted flicker. Tom Coppock, noted bird-watcher, was one of the judges & influencers. Even though the snowy owl is a bird that makes you happy to be alive, & I have a personal attachment to pigeons. Birds! "Little beings of pure spirit whose normal body temperature is 110 degrees." That line has been in my head my whole life. I no longer know where it comes from but maybe J. D. Salinger, said sarcastically? 

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Monday Quote

It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.

~ Carl Friedrich Gauss


So fortunate to enjoy learning, looking, wondering. 

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Last Tuesday a demon roared through me: the Elinorononvirus, norovirus for short. It swept me to death's door with loud & painful torture. Like the meteorite killed the dinosaurs, this almost killed me. I was helpless. I was hopeless.

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Poem of the Week

We Do Not Hesitate

Irish wedding:

body marries grave



Update: I published this in advance, a week or more ago. It does seem like a good one to appear while I was sick.

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