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Jeg elsker norsk

This semester's Norwegian class is built around watching a Norwegian movie every week & discussing it. I seem to have been one of the few people who enjoyed last night's Fjols til fjells (Fools in the Mountains), a slapstick farce from 1957 set in a ski resort. It was dumb, sure, with a plot about identical guests mistaken for each other over & over, but Leif Juster was terrific & it even (maybe) had its subversive moments, such as a girl everyone took for a boy in her bellboy (piccolo) outfit who whistled at & propositioned attractive women. Lots of great Norwegian words & expressions & I could understand most of what everyone in class was saying, even when they were rattling along pretty fast. 

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Thank goodness for having a name I don't share with a thousand Andersons. It meant that an email got to me from a woman in Sioux Falls who had found a copy of CHIPS (from the Tree of Knowledge), our high school literary magazine, in a storage box. Did I want it?


Oh my goodness yes, although I'm embarrassed in advance/in retrospect about my sophomoric (literally!) drivel. 


How above & beyond to reach out with something she could so easily have tossed. (Thank you, Teresa!)

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Endelig! Finally!

Ever since I started studying Norwegian, I've dreamed of overhearing people speaking it on the streets of New York or, even better, stopping me to ask for directions. This morning I stepped out of my office on 5th Street as a young couple were passing, stopping to let their dog sniff around. THEY WERE SPEAKING NORSK! I stopped & pretended I was waiting for them while I made sure of it, then interrupted: Snakker dere norsk?! (Are you speaking Norwegian?) They were & we had a lovely conversation half in English, half in norsk. Victoria lives on Ave B, while her friend, whose name I didn't catch, was visiting from Trondheim. Made my day week year (dag uke år)!

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Monday Quote

The role of the artist is to not look away.

~ Akira Kurosawa


To look at the hard things with a compassionate eye that stops & a cold eye that passes on. 

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Nobel Prize

I can't help but sense that the men who are critical of Annie Ernaux as a "pedestrian" & "mediocre" choice for the Literature Prize are actually saying, Why would they give it to a woman when there still are men who haven't won it. That writing about personal issues like abortion & dementia isn't serious, & by george, THEY are serious. And some of the writers they think more worthy write in languages I'm quite sure they can't read. But who cares about prizes! Scratch a man & you find a man, as my old pal used to say.


Glad to see women standing up for Ernaux, who's published by my friends at Seven Stories. Good for them. 

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Weather without WillisWeather®

What, everyone doesn't have their personal forecaster? I love that I can text WillisWeather® to ask if I can go outside in 10 minutes without an umbrella & I hear back in plenty of time. I didn't need him this week as we went from too darn hot to winter, with a cold rain barely short of sleet, to summer again (today). Or maybe it's spring? Willis, help! I need you, after all. 

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Vote early, vote often!

Model: Voter Stanton. He'll never get near it again. 

I'm excited to own a voting shirt (naturally it's from Raygun, the greatest store in the universe). I've been waiting for this shirt my whole life. I DO love voting. I believe in voting. I miss the booth, the plastic curtain, the heavy lever that closed the curtain then registered your vote. I miss walking over to Sioux Falls College to be my dad's lever-puller. A month till this fall's democracy in action. Are you ready? 

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Eggshells & atonement

In a little while, the 27 hours of Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, will begin. It's a time to ruthlessly analyze our own behavior & shortcomings, & get right with the people who matter to us. I've tried harder this year than I sometimes do, deciding to break the eggshells rather than tiptoe on them. Will it work? Maybe not but it means I am less likely to be held back by fear or anger or resentment. It will be an intense day, boring at times, but I hope to come out the other side fresh & enlightened. 

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Monday Quote

There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.

~ G. K. Chesterton


I suppose I could have combined this quote with yesterday's ramble. I would have except that I wasn't able to edit for several days, & their new setup is quite unwieldy. So read 'em both & think of them as two parts of a thought that I'm not really ready with yet.


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One last SoDak reflection

Sylvan Lake.

My urge to move back wrestles with my urge not to spend 40 minutes in a car going anywhere at all; the ease of living in a walking town. My love for my beautiful home state wrestles with my adoration of my adopted home. When I was out there, I asked myself why I'm always going to Europe & the South when I could be spending time in the West. It's taken me a long time to appreciate where I come from without disclaimers, though they're still there at the same time. I suppose I'll always be a bit bi-geographic, & that's fine. My life is here, my heart is there, except it's here too! 

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Buffalo roundup

Sunrise in the Black Hills.

I need to be here breathing the air of the Hills.


The roundup was a little underwhelming but I'm glad that I was there, seeing a SoDak sunrise, goofing around with my friends.

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Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota.

I mostly wanted to post a picture of the beautiful Black Hills and Sylvan Lake, where we spent much of the day but I can't figure out how to do that on my phone. I will add it when I can.


Update: Oh dang it, I'm back at my computer & still not able to add a photo. But I couldn't edit at all till just now, so maybe something has improved....

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On the plane again

More beauty to come ~ headed off in a few minutes to western South Dakota to a "girls" reunion with a bunch of friends from high school. We'll go to a buffalo roundup & be together at Sylvan Lake to memorialize our dear friend Jacque, who died early this year. No time now for more. 

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Monday Quote

Today is the birthday of the world. 


Best for Rosh Hashanah & 5783.

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Goodbye, Summer

A stroll to Washington Square Park to see the Klezmatics & even run into some folks. Chilly in the mornings, & I've begun to carry a jacket. Tonight starts Rosh Hashanah & I'll be out of the office for 2 days, then leaving early (6 a.m.) for the Black Hills. Going away has given me such an urge for more going. 

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Back & off again

At the cottage in Ballyvaughan, wearing the sweater I bought from O'Maille's in Galway City, the store that supplied the clothes for The Quiet Man.

I'm still readjusting to being home but already preparing to head off to the Black Hills on Wednesday, the minute the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah are over. Even though I pack light ~ 2 weeks in Ireland with a carry-on backpack ~ I want to take even less to South Dakota. Because I haven't slept much, my mind is working slowly & boringly, trying to work out if I could go with just a tote bag. It's only 4 days ~ what do I need besides underwear? And should I upgrade to first class from Minneapolis to Rapid City? It's only 7,900 miles, 41,000 miles for first class from LGA to MSP & the flight's so early (6 a.m.), I wouldn't get the lounge benefit. Sorry, I don't know how to get anything else into my mind at the moment. I'll be more interesting soon! I hope! It was cold enough for a blanket last night! It was cold enough that I wore my new handknit Irish sweater this morning! Does the lavish use of exclamation marks make this more fascinating?!

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Poem of the Week

I Believe


the crocus is the state

flower of

 South Dakota       if

that is                  it's

    the same as the


       in Pasque

Petals the official

organ of the South Dakota State Poetry

      society to which my mother long belonged.

She wrote

a sonnet

about a


but I don't remember any lines with




sweetest              with ocean

fuck (certainly


      mapmaker or pine

Spruce perhaps

since the state tree

of South Dakota

is the

Black Hills


& we often vactioned at


Lake the real name of which is Spearfish          my mother

took me      to a poets luncheon       at which

an advanced younglady

read cummings'

buffalo bill's defunct ("now how

       do you like

        your blue-eyed boy

mister death")

which I instantly

knew was my favorite poem

& went out & bought

my first book of poetry       The Collected Poems of

Leonard Cohen


circa 1984


I'm still a bit jet-lagged & have to moderate a public conversation tonight & want to take a nap & a bath first, hence a poem rather than a post today. I'll be in South Dakota next week.

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Home again!

The relaxation lasted halfway through my first morning, when I found myself yelling, like always, "My lane, my light!" at pedestrians sauntering into & up the bike lane. Totally worth it to have two weeks off even if I'm already back. 


Yesterday we went through Preclearance at the Dublin airport, meaning we cleared customs before boarding & landed as a domestic arrival ~ & were on our way. We're sitting around the airport anyway, & it was great to get that over with. It's available in 16 destinations around the world (Ireland, Canada, the Caribbean, the Middle East) & I'm hoping they'll extend it widely. 

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Travel day

The roadside Pinnacle Well, between Ballyvaughan & Doolin. 

Hello from an airport hotel, quick note before we pack & get on our plane back to New York. Thank you Ireland for your beauty, unfailingly friendly & helpful people, & two weeks of calm. Except for driving on narrow roads, which I found only slightly less harrowing by the end of the trip. 

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Monday Quote

So moving to be at the place that was the source of this poem, where half a dozen breeds of swan once lived.

The Wild Swans at Coole


The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.


The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.


I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.


Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.


But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

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Cool Coole

The really beautiful part about Coole Park were the vast lawns (which don't translate as photos) & the many signs of occupancy by the cultured & literary, from the owner, Lady Gregory, to the leading Irish artists, playwrights & poets.Yeats, Synge, Augustus John, Shaw, O'Casey. Once we found it (signage, Ireland, signage!), I could have stayed there for days. 


It amused me to read there that Lady Gregory's plays at the Abbey Theatre always drew full houses, while Yeats' plays got no audiences at all. We went to some Yeats revival years ago & his plays were just awful. Like many poets, he's not interested in other people, so he can't write characters, only beautiful poetry. Dramatic poetry, but not theatrical. 

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The Burren

Mullagh More.

The Burren is crazy cool. It's a vast area of limestone with evidence of Stone Age occupancy, deciduous forests, Badlands-like stretches of desert formations, and an incredible lack of signage. There's a national park somewhere down one of them unmarked lanes... Steve was amazing, both in figuring out a route & asking people, all of whom gave us illuminating information, like the man who pointed out the central feature of the Burren, Mullagh More, what he called the mystical center. I even got to speak for a moment in Norwegian! He was Swedish but that didn't deter me. 

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Tea with Terence

Not gentians, not the tea room, but Ballyvaughan at dawn, looking across the bay to Galway, the lights so cozy.

The gentians are blooming as we eat lemon cake

In the tearoom called An Féar Gorta

Your home comes to be

Mine for a week 

In sweet Ballyvaughan, County Clare. 


And I'm happy & sad as though Ireland were mine ~

The Burren, the pubs and the sea

You spark & you joke 

While I long for the pie

Of An Féar Gorta, Ballyvaughan.




References to the lovely song "Sweet Ballyvaughan, "Terence's poem "An Féar Gorta" & to his song "When New York Was Irish."

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The Cliffs of Moher

Beautiful & impressive as they are, in a way the Cliffs of Moher are hard to see, that is, to get a fresh view of. The paths are laid out for walkers, no behind-a-rock surprises. Like the Pyramids in Egypt, they've been stared at so long that there's not a lot left to see. 

I don't mean to say that I was disappointing. Beauty is enough. Beauty is always all we need. 

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This is a stretch of the main street of Kinvara, where both of Johnny's parents were born & emigrated from, meeting in New York. Since everyone in Ireland has relatives in America, it might not seem like any big deal. Johnny certainly isn't interested in his roots, & I don't get the impression that people here are all that interested either that I'm a daughter-in-law of Galway. 


It occurs to me that given the popularity of Ancestry,com & 23&Me, maybe the fascination with royalty is that aristocrats are people who don't need to do their DNA to find out where & who they come from. They have what many people want: a history. 

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Monday Quote

This is a wall just a few steps from our hotel in Dublin. 

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To the West

Our cottage for a week, Ballyvaughan, County Clare. 

Oh man! After a difficult few hours getting out of Dublin & into our rental car, we drove on the left AND with a stick (neither of us has driven a manual for years) yet with little angst (after a few bumps) to Ballyvaughan, whgere we haven't moved all day. My resting pulse is approximately 10% lower than it's been since I've had this Appple watch. I can feel the muddy stress sliding off. In a minute, as soon as Steve (aka WillisWeather) checks the radar again (it's been 10 minutes since he last did so), we will stroll 15 minutes to town & hopefully find dinner. Everyone here looks like Johnny's brother. 

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Dublin Day 3

I took a photo of the mummies too.

The photos are on Facebook but I'll keep the writing over here. Two James Joyces/Ulysses references today: spent a little time & bought a book in Hodges Figgis bookshop & saw the mummified rat & cat at Christ Church Cathedral. Had a meal at a Nepalese restaurant, as recommended by professional eater Peter Cherches & he was not wrong. Monty's of Kathmandu on Eustace Street. Lots o' walking & banter. Tomorrow we go to County Clare for a week. 

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Dublin, cont.

Our hotel, right off O'Connell Street, near the Ha'penny Bridge & Post Office, 1916 bullet holes still visible.

Faulkner must have been Irish ~ never have been in a place where the past is so present. And political. Is XX Street this way, I asked a man. It's just past where the capitalists tore down a row of buildings... His mini lecture included the new ones' phoniness, rugby & more. If there were ever a country where you want to strike up a conversation with everybody & anybody, Ireland is it. 


There was also a Yeats exhibit, the National Museum, lots of walking, a hefty scone at Bewley's (since 1840) & a long conversation with a brilliant young Brazilian at the place where we had dinner. And more! 9 hours sleep!

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St. Stephen's Green. 

The first person we met, on the bus from the airport, ticked off everything I expected: He led with history ("the English tore down buildings to widen the road, hence McConnel Street), he'd lived abroad (Canada), & he said something about poetry. As did the guy in front of me getting on the plane at JFK. The hotel clerks bantered. I'm liking this town, even staggeringly jet-lagged. 

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