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What I'm reading

How lucky to love to read & have a zillion books & know that there's a hundred times as many as I can ever read. To connect through books. To crack open a book & step into a world. Not a quote today or even a list of what books I'm immersed in at the moment but simply the joy of reading. 

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Damn! Even my surefire back-to-sleep techniques aren't working. What the hell?! I can't even blame the cat. It's me, I wake up & don't go back to sleep. Damn. 

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Hank Snow

My love for Hank Snow has nothing to do with my love for snow or because he had the same birthday as my dad. 


It's his supple, amused, kind & rich voice, & how many great songs he wrote and/or covered, among them "I'm Moving On," "The Golden Rocket," "I Don't Hurt Anymore," "I've Been Everywhere," "Ninety Miles an Hour on a Dead End Street." 


Of course there's a museum dedicated to Snow, but who knew it was in Nova Scotia. Or that he was born in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia. Or that his son is Jimmie Rodgers Snow. 

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I crossed that border into the Upper East Side. Had a bread pudding muffin & expensive mediocre coffee & saw a friend & fancy holiday wreaths & tiny scooters lined up in front of a school & some churches (Saint Thomas More) I've never noticed. It's where Johnny grew up, he knows this neighborhood. But surely this is not the working-class Yorkville of his childhood? It's not my city any more than Sioux Falls would be his even if we moved there for the next 50 years. The border is between theh present & the past. That's a lot farther away than East 83rd Street. 

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An ordinary day

It's still so totally great to go to the store & do laundry & answer mail & not be swamped with annoyances & stress. This has been the roughest year in more than a decade & I don't have the stamina I once did to let it all sail past, or so it seems. Also the things that have happened have been more outside the usual run of troubles & I had to develop new strategies. As Johnny would say, Ya bragging or complaining? Neither. Just reflecting. Just glad the year is almost over.

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I am myself, I think

Such a simple day, full of necessary, brief & inexpensive errands. What could be better? I did the things I needed to do without whuffing or falling asleep. No traumas, not even annoyances. When I bought the wrong charging cable, it turned out to be the one we actually needed. All the errands ~ the drugstore, the library the Mac store, the gym ~ took place in an efficient loop around the neighborhood. It feels like the first day in a long time that was not unsettled. Maybe we will make it through December & the rest of the year won't be so bad. 

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What I'm reading

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ...

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)


When I was a kid, every year or so my dad would check out The Complete Father Brown short stories by Chesterton, and he & I (possibly others in the family) would reread the stories that featured a colorless priest as the detective who solved crimes by looking deep into the human heart. I still like them & I still don't know why they're so fascinating. Maybe because he is a clear & funny & thought-provoking writer. I own that book now & have lately been dipping in. 


He was 6'4" & weighed close to 300 pounds. He once remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw, "To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England." Shaw retorted, "To look at you, anyone would think you had caused it."



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In the neighborhood: Santa-Con & more

A quieter Santa-Con than usual, although I've never seen light-up red cowboy hats before. My favorite moment was a sign taped to a bar in the West Village:No Santa-Con Santas. 


We were on our way back from celebrating Maggie's birthday at a terrific French vegan restaurant called Délice & Sarrasin, on Bedford Street almost back to back with VillageCare, where Johnny spent months recovering from hitting by a truck 11 years ago. Haven't been over there much since but this was great. Quiet & grown-up & we both really liked our vegan versions of coq au vin & beef bourguignon. 



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The other shoe

I got a letter from Target that the debit card I'd applied for was denied because I had another application pending. Oy. Called them. The good news is they ONLY had my bank account # & not my SSN, drivers license, phone, or email. And that bank account was closed before they even applied. My credit bureaus say there've been no inquiries but if they applied for these two why not lots? Surely some small concern doesn't check as closely as Target or others. The funny thing is, the letter from Target was addressed to a similar, nearby address but still managed to get to me. Yay, USPS? I don't know how to prevent further trouble. I don't actually know if the other shoe has dropped.

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Lame poetry

For a project, I need bad or lame poetry. Luckily, I've written plenty, & lots of it was conveniently at hand in a folder called DUDS. It's not easy to get the exactly right bad poem, however. It needs a certain sincerity & eagerness, along with a bad ear & conventional conclusions. Lame is easier than out & out bad somehow. Here's a sample: 


if I had a match

I would light this joint

if I were stoned

I would write a fantastic poem

if I were full of colored words

depression would pale into the greyest spectrum

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Well, 2 flakes. 


Maybe 3. 


More than we got all last year. 


I'm easy to please. 


But I want more. 

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Best dessert ever

Last night we had a Salted Plum Doughnut at a bar-with-food called Superbueno, luckily right on our corner, where several places have been- Boca Chica (13 years), Golden Cadillac (1 year), Boilermaker (7 years). I no longer remember what was there before these 4. This fantastic treat consisted of a brioche donut, lemon curd, mascarpone cream, and plum & tamarind compote. So many light and bright flavors but they weren't fighting. Our new plan is to go there early (they open at 4) & gorge, until we get tired of it, I suppose. 

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Monday Quote

If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.

~ Thomas Watson


Victory fades so quickly that is scarcely apparent and it is always the face of defeat that we are able to see. 

~ Jane Bowles


Nothing wilts faster than laurels that have been rested upon. 

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley


I don't often think about failure & success so I don't know why I had these lying around. Getting out of bed is all the success I need. 

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10 Things I Saw Today

10 Things I Saw Today


First Avenue through rain-dripped glasses

A ranchero breakfast burrito from DTB (nee Downtown Bakery)

3 cats getting along

Republican hypocrisy (cf Christian & Bridget Ziegler) 

Anselm on Houston Street & on Zoom

An apology & a hope

A man with a cane

A lavender hoodie

3 cats squabbling & hissing

A light bulb over my head


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If we can just make it through December....

... the rest of the year won't be so bad. 


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Back on 5th Street

Man, I'm sure glad to be back in my ugly chilly dusty little space in the basement. They're not even done (but close) so there's been a fair amount of banging today. But I have no urge to lie down or stand in front of the fridge. Look, my books! Look, my calendar with the reminder that persimmon season is about to begin! Look, my neighbor Louis! Was it only coincidence that today, here, I was able to finish the bank stuff on all my accounts? Look, my printer!

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Working from home

I brought home a wheelbarrow full of books from my office when I was shut out 2 weeks ago... they went straight into the closet & I lay down & napped. I don't go out unless forced. Why would I when there's bed, a cat, & a refrigerator? I went to my office every day during the pandemic & now I retroactively appreciate & empathize with the millions of people who were stuck in their house. Tomorrow it's back to 5th St plus we are having the bracing pre-snow bite in the air that makes me happy. 

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Resources: Israel / Palestine

I've been reading so many good articles & people have been sharing links to articles, podcasts, videos. I made a Google Doc in order to keep it all in one place. I invite you to take a look & add comments or links, if you see fit. 

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Monday Quote

For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock.
~ James Baldwin

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Poem of the Week


          for Alisa S.


for not quite raining

a transparency

between you &

some lovely wold

or word maybe




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Friday is Caturday

The cats must have bonded yesterday when they were avoiding the hubbub of cooking, cleaning & socializing at Wanda's. This is the first time they've sat so closely & matey, at least that I can remember. Harry (the ginger) even let Johnny pet him. Another Thanksgiving miracle! 

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As a kid, it was all about the Puritans & the Indians. It was a four-day holiday & Mrs Hosen's mother came up from Mississippi with pecans for her pies. I don't remember even really noticing the words thanks & giving. 


Now I am so full of gratitude I barely have room for pie (joke!). I am grateful my dad made it out of Germany against all his German burgher instincts to stay put. I'm grateful my mother married on a whim and also made it to South Dakota. I'm grateful to be sane & not estranged from any close friends about contemporary politics. I'm grateful to have the time & inclination to try and figure out what's going on. I'm grateful not to be conspiracy-minded. I'm grateful for friends & I'm grateful for PIE. 

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Someone else's story

My mother was driving when she heard the news. Her hands flew off the steering wheel in shock & she almost swerved into another car, whose driver gave her a dirty look. Later, that woman must have realized what had happened earlier that day & my mother had to have been an anonymous part of her story of the day, which I picture her telling for the rest of her life.


I never thought the date would be other than searing but 60 years later, there are many more people who weren't even born on that dark Friday. November 22, 1963, is further from my grandchildren than World War I was from my birth. 

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Sewer redux

The guy working there said this is original pipe; the building is probably 100 years old. He said another week till the job is done. The guy at the managing company said Friday. How do people work at home? I nap & nap & nap & wake up querulous & confused. 

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Monday Quote

Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know. 

~ Elie Wiesel, The Hostage (A horribly timely book)


The best lack all conviction and the worse are full of passionate intensity. 

~ Yeats


Same thing, right? I'm sick of being scolded & consdescended to by people I believe to be morally corrupt. 

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Man, what a week. I've been shut out of my office since the emergency sewer pipe repair began, & now I discover that somehow someone got access to my checking account & spent something like $4,500 in 4 fraudulent charges for T-mobile, Verizon & a rental service. Nervewracking, although I think it will be very easy to prove that it wasn't me. Or should be! How DO you prove a negative? There's someone else's name on one of the charges: a clue! Aiyii. I'm exhausted. 

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War & lunch

Current events have both been antimagnetizing me away from some old friends & pulling me together with others. Had a great long lunch this afternoon with someone I used to work with, a poet; we've stayed in touch but not closely but have been talking a lot lately over text & got together to continue our conversation. It's clarifying to know where people stand. Who to cut loose when they've crossed a line that can never be repaired. Who to draw closer.

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Came in to my basement office space on Tuesday & there was a little water around the base of the toilet. Called the landlord. They dug around & looked with a camera & snaked out the pipe, & next thing I knew, I'm booted for a week while they replace the sewer pipe the whole length of the hallway. I'm working at home & hoping I don't need anything essential. Maybe I'll go away for a couple of days. 

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Ruth Osawa at the Whitney

I like Ruth Osawa because she's making things, seeing what will happen if she tries this or this or that. If there's a theory it comes afterwards. And because she makes me realize how much I don't have the desire to take infinite pains over a piece of artwork, no matter how great it might come out (not that it would if I were making it). Like all the little boxes in the chairs piece. It's like cooking. I just have no stamina for chopping & stirring. Commas, that's a different story.

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First there was Ritz Mock Apple Pie, which wasn't invented by Ritz but that's all we ever knew. To my surprise, it has an interesting story, going back to the mid-1800s, when apples weren't always easy to come by, & was especially popular during the Depression, when bread scraps were cheaper. For my 30th birthday, Maggie & Rachel made mock apple pie, rice krispie treats & maybe a couple of other childhood treats. Not that I had eaten mock apple pie before, but there it was on the back of the Ritz box my entire life. 


Maggie has extended the concept with Mock Leek Soup, that has broccoli, potato & a few other things, no leeks, which are too hard to clean. No wonder the Welsh wear them in their hats instead. You can ask her for the recipie.

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