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Monday Quote

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting. 

~ William Gibson


Sitting here thinking about this ~ I sometimes think my hobby is remembering strange little moments from my life. Standing on our driveway early on the first day of school vacation with those endless months of daylight ahead, happy & free; vowing that I would never forget THIS moment & only remembering the vow not the moment; never being sure if I woke up under a giant sequoia when I hitchhiked down the West Coast or dreamed it. Isn't that what life adds up to, a Santa's bag of memories? Which isn't what this quote is about, I see. I don't want to forget. Those who've died live on only when we the living remember them. We want to counter that natural flow, too, don't we?

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In the neighborhood

Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue & 10th Street. 

Late spring, perfect weather, I keep running into people & having all the time in the world to chat & hang out. Lovely life. 


But of course it means I am short on time for obligations, hence the short happy post today.

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Who knows where the time goes

Phonecalls... people stopping by (a reacquired pleasure!)... kids karate (they are fantastic: how they manage to learn on the Zoom is beyond me but they do)... reading the Iliad on the bench with Johnny & having just a sip of cucumber soup... more phonecalls... that's my day, wasn't there more to it? Well sure but I don't have time for more... 

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Poem of the Week

A friend told me that when her kids were little, they thought there was a bad word for every letter. They knew the c-word: crap. They were right: Here's the list. 


The Word

              for CSP, BP & AP


The a-word: angry

The b-word: bottomless

The c-word: crap

The d-word: dang

The e-word: eleemosynary

The f-word: fuhgeddaboutit

The g-word: gee

The h-word: harvard

The i-word: I

The j-word: junior

The k-word: kale

The l-word: llama bean

The m-word: mmmmm

The n-word:

The o-word: oh?

The p-word: pee

The q-word: queue

The r-word: 'R u kidding me?

The s-word: somewhere sometime someone

The t-word: the

The u-word: uglification

The v-words: vasty, vavavavoom

The w-word: work

The x-word: x-ray spex

The y-word: youthful

The z-word: zipless

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In the neighborhood

They closed a while ago but the sign is still up & I wanted to acknowledge this longtime neighborhood business, yet another victim of the pandemic. They were expensive but definitely the place to go for anything you didn't want to be ruined. Eileen got packages there & meant to give them a photo for them to display, as an illustrious customer. If one store disappears per year, the block is transformed soon enough. On my stretch of 2 or 3 blocks, on my side of First Avenue, only Gringer's is still there; the liquor store, Ureema bodega, two army-navy stores, a bakery, a fruit & vegetable stand, the Egyptian takeout (kosherie!), One World Africa (candles & pot)—all gone, one after another after another. And yet it's the same neighborhood, somehow. Or enough remains that it still feels like home. 

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Someone else's cat

June spotted the kitty peeping out through the window. This is my building, although I know only my fellow basement denizens. I am going to get to know that little guy. 

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Monday Quote

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking. 

~ John Maynard Keynes


In the course of studying the Versailles Treaty, I read (what I recall as) a good bit of Keynes. Even then, age maybe 20, I realized I couldn't evaluate his thinking because he was such a graceful writer. If QAnon was put together by writers who can wield a sentence, who knows, I may very well fall for it. 

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God, demystified

I could get rid of the ads on this game I play on my phone, WordScapes, but I'd miss ones like this. 


(Back to cats soon.)

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Lefty—but more!

Not a picture of my cat simply because there is nothing better to look at (although there isn't), but to show him in the Snack Magic box that I got for donating to a fundraiser for Infinite Variety Productions, a terrific theater company that finds unknown stories about women in history & makes immersive theater out of their own words. Every production I've seen is riveting & invaluable. 

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Yes, he settles down on top of Johnny. Yes, he crashes around the house at 3 a.m. & wakes me. Yes, he gallops towards & leaps onto me while I'm asleep. Yes, he's the reason I'm dragging today.

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Sunnyside UP

This isn't my friend's place, but it's somewhat more photogenic.

What fun to have a little adventure, & not very far away at all. Sunnyside Gardens in Sunnyside, Queens, was built in the 1920s as affordable housing with an English-y vibe, although largely populated by Irish working class folks. A friend bought a wonderful little house—well, not so little! Attic, basement, two floors, & a backyard patio. Only a few stops into Queens on the ubiquitous 7 (the M supposedly goes there but it never came so I switched up). I was probably most amazed to see a UPS delivery outside someone's front door; my friend assured me that no one snags packages. 

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My first livestream wedding

Super-easy. I put on a nice top & lipstick because I wasn't sure if this was interactive but nope, we just watched. I was at Cassandra's parents' wedding & here I was, getting to be a tiny part of hers. That's her dad, my lifelong friend Pecos, walking by her side. I didn't even know where this was taking place besides on my screen. It's strange but there we are.

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Monday Quote

"Summer's lease hath all too short a date."

~ William Shakespeare


To my mind, the best week of summer is the week before Memorial Day. Then the days begin to tumble through the season ~ next week is Fourth of July, the week after Labor Day, & here we are with the leaves falling. I didn't mean to get old. 

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Random & planned encounters

Avenue A. 

So great to sit in Stuyvesant park, trees heavily green, & catch up with a friend... run into someone I know & hug... have a fun & even deep conversation with a young couple who happened to be standing outside my door when I was coming in. I've missed those chance city meetings for a long year. Villageness is one of the things I like best about the East Village.

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First Seido karate class in over a year (boy did I miss them!) with our students from YAI. They may have learning disabilities but they have so many other admirable & enviable abilities, like their enthusiasm for karate & love & support for each other. I thought they would have forgotten everything (like we black belts) but they did great.  

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Poem of the Week

Cursing in Norwegian

                                for Marie-Therese & my fellow Norwegian learners




I didn't think you could swear på norsk.  

Those liberal, uptight nordmenn,

what do they have to cuss about?


Honestly, El?

Don't be a drittsekk.


Well, OK, but

it doesn't sound like bad language. I mean, I can believe

en hjem is a home & melk is milk

but knulle? møkkakjerring?

lakensamba? (that's just cute:

"sheet dancing")


Let's invent the Mother Rule, the morsreglen:

Can I say it to your mom?


Wait, what? I can't make up a Norwegian word?

Hvorfor ikke? Why not? Why not? 

If I can't swear, I can't talk.

You flipflop flattop!



May 2021

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Bats in the building

I just keep thinking, of course Calvin thinks a bat is a bug. 


Where did it come from, where did it go? 


I think my upstairs neighbor took this picture. 


What is it bats have—rabies? ticks? fleas? 


When did I get so nervous about things that aren't poems? 

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A town in Wales

I want ... I want... to be here, not that I can say exactly where this is, beyond that it's in Wales. Oh, beautiful Wales, where so many people I love & adore live or lived. There's places I love because my loved ones are there, places I love where I know no one, but of course best is when people I care about live in places I'm eager to visit. 


Right now I seem to be the last of my friends to take a step back into the larger world. Crossing the Hudson to New Jersey was enough for a month. I long to be on a plane & I don't want to get on a plane in the least. It's funny that we New Yorkers, so used to cramped locales, are more reluctant to push together on an airplane than my non-urban family, who are used to much more distance from others.

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Monday Quote

I remember this Peanuts cartoon from 1971. 

Well, I wanna be your lover, baby, I don't wanna be your boss. 

~ Bob Dylan, born May 24, 1941


This line (from "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry") was always a personal anthem of mine. 


A few things about Bob Dylan:

* My mother was in Hadassah with his mother. 

* My sister went to summer camp with his daughter. 

* I sat in the front row at the Rolling Thunder concert, Thanksgiving 1975, Bangor, Maine. My boyfriend had waited on line for 24 hours to get those seats. 

* I wanted to be a poet when I found out that someone had written "Blowin' in the Wind." Till then I had thought that poems & songs were natural objects, like rocks. It blew me away, age 10, to discover that a guy — from the next state over, no less — had come up with it not found it.

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Adventures in language learning

For my Norwegian conversation class, we are supposed to watch a short (2 episodes of 10 minutes each) show called Parterapi, or couples therapy. Wait, what language are they even speaking? It is so far from the news accent I've been learning that the first time I watched, I picked up only a few words. Listening while reading the subtitles made it much easier, & I could read them pretty well (almost every word I had to look up was a curse word). I've heard there are so many accents that people from even a valley or 2 over might be mutually unintelligible, but wow. It's not the accent as much as the pronunciation of words. That is, it sounds like Norwegian but none of the words do. 

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Happy birthday, Al

And here's a bonus: Al drawing the U.S. freehand. 

I got this email from Al Franken, whose birthday is today:

I know what you're thinking. "Al, you were born in 1951?" A great time to grow up! Post WWII America was very anti-Nazi. If you were a Nazi in 1951, you just kept that to yourself.

       "What are you doing to celebrate, Al? I do hope you're having a fundraiser for Midwest Values PAC!"

         Sure! Anything to keep funding the kind of work MVP did to win back the White House and the Senate!

       Now, here's the big surprise! Especially if you love the Grateful Dead like I do! No? Well, that might be because you never really listened to the Dead. And my special guest will be Bob Weir, the iconic singer/songwriter/guitarist for the Grateful Dead since 1965! Yikes!

       Bobby's going to play a couple tunes – and all donations will go to MVP to help Democrats win all across the nation.

       Please join me, the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and lots of friends on Sunday, May 23rd at 6pm ET [5pm CT, 3pm PT] donate HERE to register for the event.

       I hope you can make it! And if you think I'm going to close this email with Keep On Truckin', you're wrong!


P.S. Keep On Truckin'!


P.S. from me: Watch a very short video of Franken drawing the map of the states.

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A rock from Antarctica, & butter

The rock is gray not golden. About the size of two fists.

Norwegians love butter ~ this has come up before in my Norwegian class. Before I knew it, I was telling the story (in Norwegian) of my friend Augusto, who spent many winters in Antarctica as part of an Italian mission. Was he a researcher or a scientist? someone asked, in order to clarify which word I should use. I didn't know. One year, the French & Italian missions had decided to join forces in order to take less support staff. This fell apart ~ & almost came to war ~ when the Italians' choice of cook planned to use olive oil & the French cook naturally would only use butter. Augusto was scathing: butter! he sneered with all the contempt of a gourmet. 


When I say "I was telling the story," I mean that in the most general sense, of plunging in & giving it a shot. I only knew a few of the words I needed, starting with "gå," which means "go" but only as in "walk." So when I said he went to Antarctica, I was asked, Oh, did he walk there? Yes, of course, I said, & then fixed it to "dra." Nonetheless, I persisted, badly, awkwardly but triumphantly. Dammit, I will speak norsk before I'm done! 

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Norsk igjen

My Norwegian conversation class starts tonight ~ I thought it was next week & am a little thrown off. I'm determined to listen & talk better so I shall plunge in. I wish I hadn't been at work since 8 this morning, pretty nonstop. I'm beat & it's only 5. Jeg elsker norsk! 

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Got the first shingles vaccine & have been walloped. I barely made it home yesterday & I slept for a hundred hours or so. Still feel beat. They say the second is the tough one. Yay. 


The word for shingles in Norwegian is helvetesild, or hellfire. 


Happy Syttende Mai, Norwegian Independence Day (yesterday but I couldn't....)

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Monday Quote

One of the marks of a gift is to have the courage of it. 

~ Katherine Anne Porter


Unfortunately, all too many people have the courage of a gift they don't have. And many people don't have the courage that should accompany talent. Somehow, though I diagree, i like to think that this is true.... that if I can summon the courage, it'll prove I should be doing [this]. Exceptions in every direction aside, she is probably right. 

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