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Monday Quote

The LinkNYC quotes have been really great lately & it's nice stand outside my building & watch them roll. Quotes, art, factoids. 

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For some reason I got all weepy today missing Buster, the best cat of all time. Sweetest, mellowest, enlightenedest Buster. I wasn't in the least missing him because Lefty is such a drittsek. Really, Lefty is just young & bossy, "somebody's darling" in that way that makes cocky young men find it impossible to imagine that their uppance could ever come. Although since he's a cat, he isn't going to take that attitude to the Supreme Court. If I believed in an afterlife, I would want to spend it with Buster. 

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A secret about me

Few people know this about me, but I am a four-time Gold Medalist at the Sleep Olympics. So it's crushing to have lost that impressive skill, exactly the way that so many other professional athletes first lose a step on the field & eventually let themselves go entirely. Unlike them, however, I would very much like to make a comeback, but it's not happening. It's not entirely modest to say this, perhaps, but I was a natural. I remember one summer at Camp Teepetonka at Big Stone Lake when the boys threw giant metal milkcans onto the cement floor of our cabin in the middle of the night. Who slept through it? Yep. I was known as the Sultan of Sleep ...  the Queen of Dreams ... the Nap Princess... Ah, glory days. Gone, gone, gone. Do I need a coach? What?

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In the neighborhood

In a working class neighborhood, evidence of grandeur. 

The East Village, while never notably wealthy, has always been mixed, in fact, diverse in income as well as in the more usual marks of diversity. Many people think it's been taken over by the young because the NYU presence is so prounounced, in the dorms they've built and buildings repurposed. But every residential building has at least 1 or 2 or more long-term residents. We aren't out at 2 in the morning & the students aren't out a few hours later. I've been handing out literature for my candidate (VOTE!) at the subway stop on my corner the last few weeks & I can tell you, it's older people getting on & off at 7 a.m. and 30-somethings in business gear an hour later. 


Update: I forgot to mention that the late, beloved Roland Legiardi-Laura, poet, filmmaker, citizen of the neighborhood & the world, lived in this building. The day after I posted this I met someone who brought up his name. Roland, still here.

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Guy Clark

I've been listening to Guy Clark lately, which I do fairly often. He reminds me of when I was footloose, out in Colorado, living nowhere in particular, supporting myself however; there were bursts of light, time to examine a weed growing next to a railroad tie, mysteries & mysterious lovers. That's the effect of his songs, to take you back somewhere that maybe you were or maybe you only remember in a dream. His people are getting by, his skies are big and dark & white, his Texas is everyone's past. These lines are in "Randall Knife":

My father died when I was 40
And I couldn't find a way to cry
Not because I didn't love him
Not because he didn't try
Well, I'd cried for every lesser thing
Whiskey, pain and beauty
But he deserved a better tear
And I was not quite ready.

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Nature girl

Marigolds & globe amaranth. (Thanks, Steve, for the ID.)

Whenever I'm sleepy or rushed, I think, throw up a picture of Lefty & that's good enough. Who doesn't want to see my cat every minute? Now, however, I'm going to include the bouquet of the week as a possibility. I've been getting my flowers from the Sunday Greenmarket at Tompkins Square Park. The flower people have a large variety of very fresh flowers & sell them in generous bunches. In the last few weeks I've filled my house with marigolds, globe amaranth, coxcomb, dahlias, peonies, & maybe some that I'm forgetting. I went a long time without fresh flowers (no place for a vase!) & it's a pleasure to have them around me again. 


The first play I was in, when I was living in Maine, so I was maybe 21 or 22, was The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. I still remember my first line, the first line of the play: He told me to look at my hand. He said a piece of it came from a star that exploded a million years ago.... I just looked it up to see if I really did remember it. Not bad for a million years ago: He told me to look at my hand, for a part of it came from a star that exploded too long ago to imagine. My activity in the play consisted of moving around flats of marigolds. I would have said marigolds are one of the flowers I could identify with certainty. Last week I picked these out & thought were zinnias.

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What I'm reading

How'd I miss (the other) Elizabeth Taylor all my life? I knew her name, because obviously, but never happened to run across her writing. She's like a really bitchy Barbara Pym, vicious & genteel. The book I'm halfway through is called In a Summer Season, & I have no idea if it's one of her best or one of her worst or if all her books are about the same quality. I'm excited to find out. 

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Old friends

Me & Phil, photo by his lovely wife, Rita. 

Phil & I met in 1971 at the last big anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Washington, D.C. When I asked, he said he didn't like to tell people what he did because they got the wrong impression. I was therefore determined not to get the wrong idea. So when he said he was in the Air Force, I didn't sneer, Oh you like bayoneting babies, & merely said, hmmm. Lucky me, I learned at 19 that there was more going on with people than the obvious. We've been friends ever since, but hadn't seen each other for so long that we stopped trying to figure it out. But it was great. HE is great. I didn't even think to wonder if we would be on the same wavelength & there wasn't even a second's lag in laughing & getting each other's vibe. 

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In the neighborhood

This is in Tompkins Square Park, our main local park, though we sit in several. TSP is the site of an early, violent demonstrations ~ in 1874 ~ a clash between police and thousands of unemployed. (You can read about it in the terrific Philip Dray's There Is Power in a Union.) Now it's dogs & hustlers & punk bands & benches, & one less tree. 

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A little less hot...

According to The Washington Post, the nighttime temperatures in July were the hottest ever recorded in the United States, since 1880 when record-keeping began. It's yet more proof of human-caused climate change (as if that's needed) & has quite a few really terrible effects: Along with the increased risk of heat stroke or exhaustion, "Warm temperatures reduce the body's ability to progress through important states of sleep, the news magazine Wired reported. An absence of deep sleep can fuel poor decision-making, impaired performance and emotional outbursts." And of course the need for air conditioning where cool nights previously did the trick adds pressure to the power grid plus contributes to climate change. 


Today in New York City, it's somewhat cooler, with better to come, says WillisWeather, which is great but I still don't feel recovered. Reading poems about snow, Norway & the Northern Lights helps. 

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In the neighborhood

A giant papier-mâché bowl I found in the trash. Since I'm getting rid of stuff, I didn't bring it home, & didn't have the urge, even though I liked it & could see all sorts of uses for it, even with the broken rim. 

For years I filled my apartment with found furniture, dishes, books, & even clothing, for example some fine-wool undershirts I found on lower Fifth Ave & always claimed were Patti Smith's. People throw out amazing things. You can easily find out when the rich people put out their trash but even without trying, there's terrific finds everywhere.


Interestingly, the only Schooner Island I can find in Massachusetts is a nature preserve in Rhode Island. 

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From the vault

The Sleeping Gypsy


              O lion of the moon, what moon

has such a desert

to stripe a sleeper?

              What would he say

to you if you

were not his dream?



dated 1989 & I remember the series it's from but not whether I ever published it

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Monday Quote

My old friend, on the block.

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Beach training

One of my favorites of my dojo's annual events. We leave at 4 to meet at 5 at Beach 120 Street in Far Rockaway. For the last two years I've been fortunate enough to get a ride with someone who lives across the street, but i've taken the subway & met drivers all over the place other times. Dozens of karatekas meditate till the sun comes up, with a focus on those we've lost this year. For me that's quite a few & I felt them lifting away & everything continuing sanely.* Then there's a workout, watermelon & catching up with folks. 


* The heart stops briefly when someone dies,

a quick pain as you hear the news, & someone passes

from your outside life to inside. Slowly the heart adjusts

to its new weight, & slowly everything continues, sanely.

—Ted Berrigan from "Things to do in Providence"

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Hit bottom?

I do work for a lot of groups, often just a few hours a month (if that). I was involcing one of them this week & added three sessions of 3/4 hour, 1 hour & 1.25 hours.... & let them know that they owed me for 2 hours work. They let me know that I'd underbilled by an hour. And I an accountant's daughter! I'm blaming the heat but sheesh! 

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Looks like it was just as hot a hundred years ago as it is today. No, not quite, because today, I think they said, might break a record. 

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When I think of it, I like to give a shoutout & plug to Raygun, the greatest store in the universe. They sell Midwest-themed clothing and paraphernalia, often with timely political humor or messages. Today they already have a couple of shirts praising yesterday's vote in Kansas ("Yes, We Kansas!" "Every Once in a While Kansas Kicks Ass!") & they've been extremely funny about Josh Hawley. I have some South Dakota shirts ("London: the Sioux Falls of Europe"), magnets, postcards, stickers. High-quality, union-made goods & a large chunk of profits (as well as merchandise, expertise, in-store events, and volunteer hours) goes to causes they support.

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My friend David was riding his bike past my place yesterday & stopped in to say hi. We've known each other forever & even though he's 10 years my junior, he's always been sort of an older brother. That's because he's so competent & attentive, & sets about taking care of things. Yesterday it was randomly picking through some drawers (he might be a little ADHD) & telling me why my light bulbs are no good for older eyes. This morning he popped in with three replacement bulbs, very white & bright. (I'm not sure I'm entirely happy to see my back room so clearly.) David gets things done. He has tools & motorcycles & an airplane & is totally loyal & dependable, the person you would call if things fell apart. Or to do something fun with!

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Monday Quote

One does not "find oneself" by pursuing one's self, but on the contrary by pursuing something else and learning through some discipline or routine (even the routine of making beds) who one is and wants to be.

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea


Similarly, one does not find happiness by pursuing pleasure but by losing oneself in work, service, or love. Or maybe they're the same thing.

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What's inside

Look into my arm! I think the photo is a little blurry ~ you really could see lines galore.

I had to give blood at a doctor appointment the other day. My veins are tiny & pale & everyone but extremely experienced phlebotomists usually winces when they see what they have to work with. This time, the doctor used a vein finder flashlight to look beneath the surface of my skin. It's creepy as hell! THAT's what's cavorting under my skin?! I immediately came up with another million-dollar scheme: a vein finder that would lock a needle automatically into a good vein. The doc said no, you have to feel for it, there's no way to make it automatic. 

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Pet Peeve #772

Technology! It would probably take less time to withdraw cash from the bank & take public transportation to northern New Jersey to deliver it than it's so far taken trying to get set up to transfer it online. Is this what putting together Ikea furniture is all about? Why do they think one instinctively knows how to go from step to step? Why is my wifi still off? And why do I keep trying the same steps & ~ surprise! ~ arriving at the same dead? 

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Live music

How fun to go to the Slipper Room ~ a night at a club, something I'll never take for granted again. It was a benefit for Waggytail, a small dog & cat rescue group. Several comics, including the mind-blowing Janeane Garofalo, & a Blondie cover band, Pretty Baby, with the energetic Tammy Faye Starlite very much in front. I don't know that I get standup exactly: those are jokes? but Garofalo was something else entirely. She talked & you were right there (even though she talked so fast I missed a fair amount ~ didn't matter). Another thing that made it great was that it started at 6:30, was over by 9, & was a block away. And that I went with my wonderful new neighbor.

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From the vault

Johnny & his daughter, Tara, around the time I wrote this. 

yeah hmmm.... 1987 or thereabouts.... pretty sure I never typed this up before... I instantly knew who T was & so did Maggie, when I showed her this. This is my life now: reading old work & trying to decide what I think about it. 



Miniature Men


I can't sleep tho I'm too lazy to even plug in the TV—it only works by plugging it in as the switch is broken & it only gets 1 or 2 channels or are they stations? I was asleep for 1 1/2 hours then a cough woke me. I must have lung cancer but Maggie says no it's just allergies people without allergies have them this year. She gives me 2 codeine, I take one & it makes me nauseated, she gives me a bottle of violently red vicks & a swig of green dream, her invented drink of mint, seltzer & who knows what else. It looks like regurgitated compost but is surprisingly quenching. What if they made cough syrup in as many color names as nail polish?


What kind of person writes a letter to the editor? Maggie asks.


A concerned citizen, I say.


No! she says. A crackpot!


I defend T—'s right to write a letter to the editor & explain that I have often thought of doing the same thing. What did you write to the editor about? I ask T.


Well, you see, he launches, Reagan — 


Wait! I interrupt. Anyone who writes a letter to the editor about Reagan IS a crackpot.


He is offended & I have to explain about Thatcher & unemployment & beyond hope before he stops with that pissy face.


Then I read a story in a magazine  about a couple who didn't acknowledge their pregnancy till a month before the baby was born. And someone says, We don't see each other enough to fight.


We see each other plenty, as we fight all the time.


Oh Johnny, let's not fight! Tell my troubles to the crackpot & kiss me quick. C'mon, let's make the universe jealous.


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Show & Tell

I love this picture so much. Serious Caitlin, now with a masters degree in something smart from Cornell, almost 24 & living in San Francisco. explaining her GrandDaddyO & me. She was used to us but a couple of those kids look ... bemused. They'd probably never seen a grownup acting sillier than a kid. 

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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, An Inland Voyage


Would he have said that if his brain was boiling like mine has been this week. Hottest EVER temperatures in England. There was a blast of heat on the sidewalk a few minutes ago that almost knocked me over. I felt like I'd been hit by a motorcycle. 


I'm a big fan of RLS. When he & Alice moved to France 30 years ago, Doug gave me his complete works in two dozen volumes (which I could buy on Kindle for 99¢). I take one down at random once or twice a year, read a few pages or an essay. What a fine temperament that man had. A quiet observant mind with great kindness & curiosity. 

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Ya runnin', Hawley?

What I liked best during the most recent January 6 hearing was that when they showed video of Missouri senator Josh Hawley scurrying from the mob he'd incited, the whole room erupted in laughter. From self-proclaimed tough guy to butt of joke in the blink of an eye. More like Monty Python's Brave Sir Robin or George Costanza fleeing a small fire? 


Or maybe what I liked best was that it was petty & almost gratuitous, with little to do with the main points, except to illustrate the depraved opportunism & pandering of the Republicans. Hawley was the senator who first objected to certifying election results, so he was fair game, to be sure. Former senator Claire McCaskill, who he defeated in the 2018 election, said emphatically, NO senator EVER runs in the Capitol.


Schadenfreude, to be sure, & I'm all in. That little weasel. 

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I can't say anything specific yet, but I'm in the middle of my favorite assignment of the year: profiling 3 of the 15 winners/fellows of the AARP Purpose Prize. These go to people over age 50 (generally considerable older) who have started an innovative organization or business that fills a social need. Over the years I've profiled a dentist who works & educates in underserved neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, a woman who helps wounded veterans in ways that the VA can't, someone who trains women to be sound engineers, a man devoted to elevating his home city of Baton Rouge, and many more. All of them have been fascinating, relentless, & humble. What they have in common, I would say, is a willingness to stick it out no matter how long it takes or the odds against achieving their dream. 

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Current events

It's not enough to be doomscrolling current events that I have to be reading about asteroids striking the earth & plate tectonics chewing up the land? Back under the covers go I. Except it's too dang hot for that. Oh what shall I do?

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Heat wave

Something inside is burning & I'm filled with desire. A heat wave burning in my heart.... has high blood pressure got a hold on me? ... that funny feeling has me amazed, don't know what to do, my head's in a haze.


Yeah not that kind of heat wave, unfortunately. My head's in a haze, Martha Reeves has got that part right. 

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From the vault

The Throne of Future Knowledge


in your arms the organ

of learning is a peony

we bow

polite as fresh laundry



This was in a pile that seems to be from the late 1980s. I remember it but not its circumstances. I guess I loved peonies no less then than now.

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