Friday, November 30, 2012


Goodness. Getting down to Brooklyn took a whole different level of concentration. I hadn't realized how "countrified" I had become in a "lo-di-doe" sort of way. Gosh, ya gotta excelerate on the freeway and wow! that's a big truck and gosh, maybe I ought to get out its way! Also, I hadn't even mentally reviewed the directions for getting down here so I had a instance or two of "uh-oh, I need to be in the right lane about now."

Straight on to the find-a-parking-spot-within-a-reasonable-distance-of-your-destination competition with a parallel parking next to a moving van handicap. And wait! somewhere nearby there's a siren AND a baby crying hysterically. Oh what fun.

I also realized I had been away from New York City for the longest stretch since I moved back here in 1999. No wonder it is taking me a bit of re-calibration. There's an aspect to this experience much like iridescence, with hidden glints, highlights, and really a kind of other reality shining at odd moments.

I need to get a-move on as I've things to do. I likely won't have time to sit down and cogitate on all of this until Sunday, but it won't be because I am not thinking about it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Experimenting with new Hipstamatic app.
As so often chronicled here, not being able to sleep just wrecks my next day. And it is even more frustrating when before you actually get into bed, you are too tired to walk upstairs and take off your clothes. So, I got a later start than I like to this morning. Oh well.

Heading down to Brooklyn today for the first time in many weeks. I don't think I've been there since early September! What with the hurricane, elections, nor'easter, flea deluge, and holiday, I just haven't wanted to venture out. Oh, and its cold and I don't find that incentivizing.

R and I went to the Brewster Library yesterday to get cards. I now have three library cards, New York City, Brooklyn, and Brewster. Does that make me some kind of library criminal? I haven't read a book since I have returned to Brewster and I need to get re-focussed on that.

On the other hand, I have been watching lots of things on Netflix as previously chronicled. I want to recommend Mozart's Sister to anyone interested in classical music, feminist history, or who likes a good, subtle costume/period flick. I also watched Our Idiot Brother. Although orders of magnitude less egregious than the likes of The Hangover, and almost any other Will Farrell movie, what a waste of time. I watched it because I have a fondness for Adam Scott and Zooey Deschanel (although that may be waning). I don't get it, but at least I know I am not going to. Bore me with slow or slight French movies; at least the language keeps me challenged.

There's not much to report and my head is a bit empty today. I need to get it together to leave in a couple of hours, so I will leave y'all with Jeff Nunokawa's very lovely post from today.

4273. "steps" (Shakespeare)

by Jeff Nunokawa on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 8:34am ·
KENT: . . . I am the very man . . . That, from your first of difference and decay, Have followed your sad steps.

LEAR: You are welcome hither  (King Lear, Act V, Scene iii)

--and the very man, therefore, equipped to lead him to his sweeter ones.

I've heard everything you've said. But you may feel differently tomorrow. Let's talk about it again after you've slept. Someone wise (wiser, I think, than we both knew at the time) said to me once. He had followed me, step by step (or was it all of a sudden?--I can't remember which now), as I had faltered down from the better angles of my being. And he had faith (he seemed to, anyway) that, with a little rest, I could clamber back up the cliff, and get near again to my higher stories.
And guess what? When the sun had risen, I had risen a little myself.
I'm pretty sure that the love of his believing made it so.
Wherever I am, he's always welcome. Wherever he is, I'm always thankful.
Note: love you so much (Frank O'Hara, "Steps")

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Why would I be so desperately sleepy on a Monday afternoon at 3:04 after a mellow day of dishes, laundry, and general farkeling around? Very difficult to keep open my eyes. Starting this post because I want to remember to share the recipe for the Maple Walnut Cake I made for Thanksgiving. It was soooo easy and crazy good. And look up the cream cheese maple frosting and use all of it on the cake, even though it will seem like a lot. Just trust  me on this.

Several hours later...
Goodness. What a yummy nap! Cooder came and curled up in my arm, next to my head, with her belly in my face and just purred for about 40 minutes. It doesn't get much better than that. Although she will sleep with others on occasion, I don't think she gives them that treatment.

And now for stir-fry hoison salmon!

Le jour prochain

I am really visually disabled without benefit of augmentation, but even the blurs of my room have a rhythm and recognizable pattern. As I opened my blues this morning, I could see something was different, though not neccessarily amiss. There were more light patches. By golly, it's snowing!  I was not paying attention to the weather whatsoever and had made no provisions, mental or otherwise. Okay, well there is nothing on my agenda today that the snow would greatly interrupt, except that the snow is an added incentive to stay in bed, swaddled and cuddled by feline and avian (down comforter, featherbed, pillows, etc). The allure of the cozy. Ah, well, I needs must continue into the cold.

As I was sleepily washing dishes, waiting for my coffee to brew, I glanced out the kitchen window into the woods. Wham! The contrast of cardinal red against white snow was enough to stimulate my visual cortex. For a moment, I stood in silent, desert-girl wonder at that combination of color, astonished and amazed. Really, it seems like a miracle to me (and, you know, for some of us it IS miraculous). Excitedly, I exhorted R and M to come and share.

Later, while supine on my bed, chatting with K, I looked up into the trees outside and what should I see but another flash of red! My cardinal had moved to a place where I could glimpse that flash of invigorating color. I interrupted my session several times to comment on the cardinal in the tree.

This is close to what I saw.
Image from Carroll County Times. No permission sought or granted.

By the way, those of a decidedly non-bliss-ninny sensibility should stop right here. Better you don't read this.

Department of Who Knew?

Then JR sent me this, which I do not have a reference for, but must have found somewhere on the internet as he is at work and could not possibly write or type this fast:

The Cardinal
The cardinal is a power packed bird that transforms and awakens us. She represents renewed vitality through recognizing self-importance. Her cycle of power is year-round and reflects the rhythm of the number 12 - 12 days, 12 weeks, 12 months or the hour of 12. Because of it year round cycle, its medicine is available at all times. Its message is of renewing vitality through recognizing self-importance.

Its color and its voice are its two strongest characteristics.  It is a member of the finch family and is often recognized by its brilliant red color. The cardinals voice is strong and clear and reflects an air of importance. This power packed bird can teach you how to express your truth, develop confidence and walk your talk. If you respect its teachings it will lead you home.  

I'd be apoplectic if I saw this many at one time.
The eggs laid by the female hatch in about twelve days. This, along with the cardinal being a year round resident, reflects the rhythm of the number twelve.  The number twelve often has important significance for those with this totem. It can indicate a turn of events or a life changing situation. When the cardinal flies into your life expect a change to occur within 12 days, 12 weeks, 12 months or at the hour of 12. Because this bird is a year round resident its medicine is available at all times and should be used by those with this totem whenever a need arises.

Cardinals have a loud whistle. Whistles penetrate the air with sharp distinct tones. They demand our attention urging us to hear what is carried through the air. Both male and female cardinals join in the whistling. This reflects the need to integrate our male and female characteristics into our day to day life.  Feminine energy is linked to intuition. Male energy is linked to perseverance. If both are operating within our life our intuitive knowledge has the perseverance and strength necessary to manifest our goals and dreams.

Cardinals eat many decaying weeds and injurious insects.  When a cardinal appears in your life it is telling you to pay attention to your eating habits.  Are you eating things that might be injurious to your health?  Is your diet nutritionally balanced?  Extra care should be given to the blood and circulatory system.  Past life ties to overindulgence or the consumption of poisonous substances is often linked to cardinal medicine people.

The bright red color of the cardinal is very symbolic.  Red represents the blood or life force of the Mystic Christ. In yoga circles this vital force is known as the kundalini. The kundalini lies dormant within us until activated by a disciplined spiritual practice.  Once activated spiritual power can be attained. The cardinal offers safe passage into the world of personal power for those who ask for itshelp. A great love or a strong dislike for religion and churches is common amongst cardinal medicine people and can indicate a past life connection with one or both.

When a person with cardinal medicine steps onto a spiritual path there will be no turning back. Everything else in their life will seem insignificant. Extra care must be taken here to insure personal happiness, particularly in the area of one to one relationships. Balancing spiritual ideals and physical pleasure will need to be instated in ones life so harmony on all levels is known.

Monday, November 26, 2012


What nefarious negative part of my brain insists on wafting over to Radio Crapsongs in the morning these days? This morning it is Chicago's Make Me Smile (you can listen and wince along).
Cooder and Emmylou come downstairs with me.

And the words that were on my mind when I surfaced were incur and encourage. Not sure why. Oh well, a quick trip to the dictionary page points in a direction: Become subject to (something unwelcome or unpleasant) as a result of one's own behavior or actions: "I will pay any expenses incurred". Another definition adds "Bring down upon oneself ..." Yeah, that is pretty close to my mental closing and opening musings to and from what I hope will be or has been sleep. How did I get here (this point in my life) and how will I get out (I needn't expound on that)?

Encourage ... I do like this bit : incitement to action or to practice. I know that's no surprised but I hadn't really characterized the practice part of it. 

Later in the same morning. The kitchen is almost back to its normal self, although there will be several trips up and down the basement stairs. I need to head down there anyway for laundry and I am sure the cat box needs some attention. 

I am in reasonably good spirits. I need to get outside and move around today as it is a bit warmer, too. Yesterday, I staid huddled around the computer, watching Netflix for hours. I watched four movies, three of them French comedies L'arnacoeur (Heartbreaker), Prête-moi ta main (I Do: How To  Get Married and Stay Single), and  Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One) as well as one from Uruguay, El Bano de Papa (The Pope's Toilet). I was obsesssed with deconstructing a quite hideous home-knitted vest I had picked up at the Eagle Eye in downtown Brewster. The yarn was made by Manos del Uruguay (perhaps that subliminally inspired me to watch that film!) and is both expensive and beautiful. For three dollars and a day spacing out watching movies, I got four beautiful skeins of wool (which I do not need).

Emmy, as ever, was ready to be involved.

Ah well, now to looking for work, meaning, and my bedroom floor which did not get cleaned up before the Thanksgiving rush of visitors!

Correction does much, but encouragement does more.
— Goethe

Sunday, November 25, 2012


8:30 a.m.

I suppose it was that I got so much rest yesterday, but I woke up before 6:30 this morning. The family is still asleep (the girls are still here) but Emmylou and Cooder have been up with me, sitting on the forbidden surfaces as I cleaned up the kitchen and started another load of dishes in the dishwasher. We're still not done with all of the Thanksgiving dinner dishes, but getting close.

Thursday was Carl's birthday. He would have been 54. Although I spoke to my mother about it a bit, my brothers and I did not mutually acknowledge the loss of the one. For my part, I was fairly swamped with getting ready and then entertaining tasks. I hadn't scheduled much reflection time, although I did spearhead the Thanksgiving table round of "What do you enjoy most about Thanksgiving?" (I can't remember what I said but it was probably about finally being able to sit down.)

Carl spent quite a few years working up to his death, or maybe working down. THe had been very very ill. There were something like 40 empty bottles of Tylenol under his bed. There were reports circulating in the family circle about how much Tylenol he had consumed just prior to going into the hospital, but I cannot remember the particulars, just that it was a crazy amount. As Tylenol is known to cumulative deleterious effects, we think (not sure who that collective "we" encompasses) that it was the Tylenol that signed the warrant.

The family in various configurations talked about "what to do about/with/for Carl". What I am reflecting on now is that for all the hassling, encouraging, begging, berating, praising, and other manner of communication with the goal of getting Carl to change, I don't know if we ever asked him how he felt. I know that I did not. I knew that he had had a stroke and was not appropriately attending to the follow-up, but I did not know that he was feeling so crappy on a daily basis that he was consuming Tylenol as if they were Tic-Tacs.

And I'm not sure what the upshot of this post is, just that Carl would have been 54 on November 22. And that I did not really stop to get beyond or beneath the reality I could see to actually enquire about how he felt. Like a lot of folks when faced with frightening pain in the midst of the other struggles of life, Carl didn't share.

Jeff Davis, by the way, is hanging in there last I heard. He was no longer intubated and was speaking to people. There's been a stream of visitors and he's even made a post or two on FB.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Calm before storm.
The population of the house is way down right now, whereas 24 hours ago, this room was filled with Thanksgiving feasters. Right now, it is just me, Emmylou, Cooder who is assiduously tracking mice in the kitchen, and Albert, who is asleep on the couch in the other room.

The room fills up.

I'm trying to avoid some langorous imbibing of the delish punch that B and K made as their contribution as I gather some thoughts and tend to the turkey soup that is softly simmering on the stove. The rest of the family has decamped off to more celebrating with nearby relatives who were not able to join forces with us last night.
After all those days of fighting fleas, cleaning, laundry, organizing, re-organizing, and cooking, I scarcely know how to have a thought. I went to bed about 10 last night with much of the festivities still in progress. I knew that if I staid up, I would be likely to continue to drink as a means of both unwinding and making myself more comfortable with some folks I did not know as well. The better part of valor seemed to be to retreat to my room to try to get some sleep. But I woke up for about 4 hours in the night, dark thoughts fluttering around the dim light of my mind, and thought watching the rest of Season 4 of Parks and Recreation and the first episode of the second season of Sherlock would be a better, even pleasant expenditure of time.  Thus, the day has been quite lazy and slow for me. I don't think I have been out of the house in two days (need to do something about that). 

Emmylou, by the by, is much better. She enjoyed the table set-up. She and Cooder were shut up in our room for most of the night, as there are some with cat allergies and there was plenty of other underfootness. They had a dead mouse on the floor at the foot of the bed as a by product of their confinement. 

Lots and lots of bad songs trundling through the head these last two days, most notably Bad Moon Rising and Half-Breed. (And by the way, do not skip that link.) M and I watched the American Masters' episode on David Geffen and as the two of them were romantically involved for 18 months, Cher was on my  mind. And walking into my parents' bedroom, seeing my father sitting in his easy chair entranced by Cher is something I have not forgotten in, well, too many years. Another song that was an unwelcome guest was One Tin Soldier. I really thought I should share with you.

We named one of the turkeys Dave in honor of Davids Geffen and Petreus. The larger turkey was Mitt. No one would have considered eating a turkey named after Paul Ryan. 

Cooder has apparently given up on the mouse hunt for the moment, so I could go work on dishes and setting the kitchen back to rights. Or I could just post this and go kick back with some Sherlock. Tomorrow will be soon enough to figure out WTF with Christmas and other life challenging events.

And, on another note, I was successful in not spending any money!

These two shots were my view for much of the day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Cooder is pretty comfortable now, hanging out.
It's all jingle bells here in the morning. Since we moved to the country* (ish), both kittehs have collars and both collars have bells on them. Emmylou's has two, partly so she makes more noise and I know where she is. Cooder is not too prone to disappearing and will always attend if one shakes the treats bag. That noise-making is not a reliable Emmylou magnet. And although the flea problem is solved, she's still a cat and still has some grooming to do, and it her schedule calls for a vigorous, early morning cleaning. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee, right?

*(Y'all know the great Smog song, Let's Move to the Country?)

It is not a good sign that the holiday eating frenzy has barely begun and I have already stopped eating sensibly. Yesterday's grazing included buttered toast, black licorice, chocolate & caramel covered butter cookies, honey mustard pretzels, and who knows what else. On the other hand, perhaps I can take this realization as a time to slow down before the multitudes arrive, the intense cooking begins, and more nutritional mayhem is the order of the weekend.

The next day. Sometimes the little things are difficult to complete. I wrote this yesterday and yet, somehow, could not push publish.

Worship at the heat altar.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Oops, I did it again. Wait, am I quoting Britney Spears? Argh. Well, Richard Thompson did it, so I am quoting him. (Actually, the clip is worth watching.) I drank some wine while cooking, white this time, and had another hell night. Woke up, couldn't sleep, was thinking thoughts "distilled from limbecks foul as hell within" ... Dark dark dark despair despair despair. My hands ached which didn't help either, probably from grasping the vaccuum handle as I continued the de-flea operation.

Why is it so hard to have water and some analgesics right there next to the bed for such a contingency? I mean, that is really not a lot of work, although the actualization sure seems insurmountable.

Well, only my room to go in that flea situation, but as the household is still asleep at 9:30, I don't want to get started on the chaos quite yet. Dealing with my things always requires angst and agita, bien sur. (Though I might hear someone... R, who was up earlier; I could tell by the smell of cinnamon raisin toast.) Emmy has rejoined the people of the world. Whereas, I was having trouble finding her and she didn't seem to want to come out of the basement, she has returned to the venerable cat practice of sleeping in inopportune spots as well as the magical ability to be inappropriately underfoot.

 While she did not catch this critter, Emmylou was moved to share. I found this on my bedroom floor.

R, who has more than his share of troubles, wanted to learn to cook, so we started a batch of no-knead bread, roasted some vegetables (broccoli, which is really great roasted, parsnips, and some carrots with which to make roasted carrot soup), and some vegetable stock.

I don't think I have ever been so aware of how hard it is to teach. So many considerations. I mean, what basic facts or tecniques can you take for granted that everyone knows? Too easy? Too hard? Too fussy? And, you even have to stop to think about what you might be doing quite automatically at this point. Much of my cooking is purely experience and instinct at this point. And hey, what are best practices if you are teaching someone something from scratch?

After my years of cooking with and watching my friend, S, the once and future chef, I thought it incumbent to teach R to clean up his "work station" after every task or round of vegetable cutting. I am a notoriously messy cook, using all available space, too many implements and vessels, and invariably there are food artifacts on the floor (makes me very popular with dogs).

Woods up the street.

Sunset as seen from the Trader Joe's parking lot.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Starlight and dew drops are waiting for thee ... 

That's no way to wake up, thinking the words to Beautiful Dreamer. That's like going backwards. Or backwoods, since I think I had been dreaming about camping.

Oh well. Yesterday's flea blitzkrieg seemed to go well. I have a bit more to do today: the daunting task of cleaning and de-bugging my room and the front room. I was fortunate that yesterday was reasonably warm so that it was bearable to have all the windows in the house open (and there are many).The skies cooperated by not raining so that the computers and guitars and amps and newspapers and books could be on the deck. Albert was at the groomer's all day. Emmy and Cooder were cozy enough in the basement, particularly since the the washer and dryer were going most of the day.

Can you see her decimated tail?

The best proof of the efficacy is that Emmy is hanging out in the house again!

Already today I am parked in front of the flat screen having gotten caught up on 30 Rock and migrated to the Rolling Stones documentary on HBO, Crossfire Hurricane. However, I am going to turn it off now ...  done ... and get on with the things that need doing today. Things are going to get busy as all the kids will be home as well as assorted relatives and close friends. We will be 16 or 17 for dinner on Thursday.

Albert does not like to be photographed.
I heard and saw woodpeckers in the woods (where else?) yesterday. I also saw a cardinal. I hope he lives nearby. He likely looks even better in the snow!


It can be odd, the things that give you a sudden flood of happiness or well-being. I was just cleaning the breakfast dishes in an attempt to avoid the Flea Fest 2012.2. I got up from the table only to see this behind me on the kitchen floor:

I haven't seen this for a couple of weeks now. Emmy used to lurk around me when I was writing, so this is excellent.

And then as I was doing dishes, I reflected on this:

 I had such a lovely time at Moe's when I was in Berkeley. I don't usually resort to buying swag, but I had to get this for M for her birthday. And I am suffused with pleasure every time I use it or wash it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


No skating here, but a good escape.
The salient lyrics must have been "I wish I had a river/that could skate away on" even though is it "coming on to Christmas" and that, too, has been on my mind. But it is all of a piece really.

The desire to escape this morning is due to the prospect of a flea blitzkrieg. Emmylou was MIA yesterday for about five hours. I wasn't too worried about her having gotten out, being was relatively sure she was hanging out in the basement. It's cold enough so that no one is prone to flinging open doors. And Emmy is feeling so punk that she hasn't been underfoot as usual. But given that she hasn't been feeling well due to her flea situation, I was more worried that she was curling up someplace to ... well, die is overstating it, but hunkering down and toughing it out.
Those three trees.

When the worry bees are buzzing that loudly, focussing on anything else and/or moving forward with anything is even more difficult. Trudging through mental mud while being stung? Oh, and that trudging takes place, of course, on the thin edge of the darkness, so it is easy enough to lose your balance.

After her matitudinal nap, where she sleeps really deeply and will not even respond to the shaking of the treats bag, she started mewing in that "what's going on and where is everybody way" and I was able to locate her. (Neither one of my cats has much in the way of miauing prowess.) After more indecisive agonizing, I realized I should just take her to the vet up here instead of shlepping her to our much appreciated vet (Animal Kind) in Park Slope.

Penny the puppy.
All right so, I took her to a very nice and thorough vet office (Mill Plain) in Danbury, Connecticut. Huzzah! Easy to get an appointment midweek! No trouble parking! A miniature Schnauzer puppy in the reception room! Tattooed veterinary assistant. The vibe was just good all around.

Emmy is allergic to fleas and the diatomaceous earth didn't help her skin either. The doctor gave her a shot and prescribed steroids and antibiotics, so I won't be taking any sojourns out of Brewster for awhile. Who would want to miss a single episode of the fun that is known as Cat Wrassling with Medications??!

And now, after my second cup of coffee, on to spraying the perimeter of every room in the (not small) house, vacuuming everywhere everyday for a week or so, and masses of laundry! At least where the animals roam.

The good news? Emmylou is already orders of magnitude improved, perkier and friendlier! Her visible relief works like a beekeeper on the anxiety hive.

I am so Zen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I guess the best news is that sometimes it works. Sometimes drinking the hot water and honey does bring back my slowing stewing morning brain from the dank and dark places it is wont to wander to a realization that is there is something sweet and my focus shifts. Once I back out of the neural alley of negativity, I can move toward neutrality if not outright positivity.

After a restless night of hearing the theme song and vaguely dreaming of Treme, I very much want to sink into the couch and watch the last episode and a half which will get me all caught up. I was at least disciplined enough to turn off the tv at 11:30 and head to bed instead of staying up until 1 to watch it all. So, there's a spot of positive behavior modification.

While exploring a beautiful road I had not driven down in this area, I was chatted with my friend KaHug in California yesterday afternoon . KaHug said she saw a friend recently whose first words were "No, don't worry, I don't have cancer. I've just lost a lot of weight and I can give you the secret of weight loss." Of course, KaHug was intrigued. The friend advised her that she could eat as much as she liked of things she didn't like and absolutely none of anything she did enjoy. Okay, good. We'll get right on that.

Here comes Cooder into the kitchen! I left Cooder and Emmy in the kitchen last night on mouse watch. Hmm, she seems to have misplaced her collar in the last 30 minutes since I got out of bed. I think Cooder not being in bed contributed to my restlessness. I have not seen Emmy today.

But the biggest worry is beautiful Emmylou who has fleas so badly that she has lost all of the hair on her belly and backlegs and her magnificent tail is decimated. She has been treated with Frontline twice, had a treatment of diatomaceous earth and yet she still has fleas. Emmy spent yesterday, the whole day, in the basement, where I presume she is not attacked. It was cold yesterday. I haven't had a flea problem in 30 years, even living in LA with outdoor kittehs.

So today is bathe Emmylou (and we know how much fun that could be) and try to vacuum the house (not small and devoid of anything). I think I will try to treat Cooder with more diatomaceous earth as there is no one to drive me to ER if I were to bleed from the shredding.

Emmy, in a happier lap mood.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Allview Avenue, on Sunday afternoon, after the snow melt.
It's rather cold and raw today, which is not any surprise, but it has been quite a bit nicer the last two days and couldn't we use a break? Right. What am I thinking? It's November. Hunker down, sistah, it's going to be awhile.

So, I am back to wrassling with my darker side. I'm just plain cranky, which, I'll allow, is likely better than my usual fallback position of depression. I wake up at night, wildly ready to be miserable, as I have mentioned here before, but am still managing to moderate my willingness to dive into despair.

And, hey, I am getting up and out of bed every day, albeit this day was later than I like. And I am showered, dressed, and even shod, though it is far to cold to go without many layers of clothing.

Artifact balustrade from what was an estate on Allview Avenue.
Maybe I am just lost, still lost. November and December are historically difficult months to get any mojo working in any new direction, unless serendipity intervenes. Even writing this little bit about it tempts me to Bummerland and an over-examination of life.

And now for our musical interlude, Leon Russell's Tightrope. Here's the lyric that got to me:

I'm up 
on the tightrope
one side's hate and one is hope

There I am, one's side's despair and one is hope ...  and maybe some action. I would like to curl up with some tv or Netflix or something and just let the next two months wash over me. But, you know, maybe this is good because I have that little warning bell pinging a bit, the one that goes off when I look at doughnuts and almond croissants that reminds me that I won't feel well if I consume those (now add Rold Gold Thin Pretzels and Spicy Snack Mix to the list). I am pretty sure I won't feel any better, say in January, if I don't finish my filing, send out my little invoice, return my Netflix, and drive to the pet store and Trader Joe's before school gets out and the school buses take over the road. And I should probably take a walk as I didn't get one in yesterday. 

Those three trees, not in snow.

Cooder, on the other hand, is fully licensed to sleep.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Down the street on the snow day.
1) I wonder if there has been any research on post-nap crankiness. Evidently, it is an affliction well-known to parents with napping children. I took a really nice afternoon nap, but am feeling deflated if not depressed, and not particularly social. Or motivated.

2) I am fairly certain that somewhere back there, I have quoted this Louvin Brothers song, You're Learning. (I highly suggest and encourage you to avoid watching the bad visuals that have been posted along with this song.) But that song came to mind again today when I was at the Farmer's Market as I was tempted by apple cider doughnuts AND almond croissants. I was able to control my consumption impulse and merely consume a defensible-but-not-really-great croissant because I could remember having been unhappy and ill at eating those items recently. I call that progress.

And, when I half-consciously stumbled downstairs feeling that a glass of red wine would be good, I remembered to get a very small glass and only consume a small amount slowly, sips, before I recalled that that, too, could make me feel less than well. I need to go downstairs and get the tea I brewed when the glass of wine was finished.


View from the kitchen window.
Yes, important to note to self that red wine wakes me up. And then the current neural trail leads to that dark side. And if not to Despondency City or La Ville de désespoir, then at least to a few rounds of self-deprecation and litanies of failure.

Family friends came over for an evening hang out. They brought red wine and there was some from the other night, so that was the consumable of the evening. I didn't drink much, but I did have a few wake-ups that are, thankfully, a bit unusual lately. I had to talk myself into staying, well, somewhat positive, to remember why I was waking up in the middle of the night (Not the apocalypse, even the disco apocalypse at this exact moment.)

As usual, there are a lot of things on my mind. You know, what am I going to do and where and how am I going to do it. I got up early and am the only human being active, but all three of the pets are being ... well, not fair to call them needy, but I cannot figure out what they want. Cooder keeps coming down the the kitchen, pacing the perimeter, and flipping her tail in that imperious, impatient cat way. Albert is stuck in the dining room, staring at me through the glass. I'm listening to early Buffalo Springfield. The naiveté is so touching and vulnerable and hopeful. Maybe I need some of that.

And the biggest thing, kind of rendering in the background, is that Jeff Davis is lying in the ICU at UCSF dying. Jeff and I drove a drive-away yellow Honda Civic across country (my first time!) in 1984. We were on our way to Boston where he was to visit friends and I went to crash with Erika for the summer. We stopped here, in Brewser, to visit M and J who had moved back here a year earlier. It seems as if Jeff developed? contracted? ALS while in China (he was living in Shanghai).

Jeff and my own brother Carl had some things in common and I suppose there is a triangulated resonance. They were both exceedingly talented musicians, affable, great cooks, extremely smart (though neither was assiduous in their formal education), challenged by health and weight problems. And although each was loved, they each remained somehow out of reach of some intimate flexibility.

Jeffrey J. Davis. (Photo stolen from one of his friends off of FB.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012


November 6, 2012 9 a.m.

I am not sure what the signficance might be, but I cannot get the Talking Heads song, Stay Up Late out of my head this morning. And that's a hard song to wake up to, with that insidious chorus, "Cute, cute. Little baby. Little pee-pee. Little toes." Maybe those words remind me of Mitt Romney, although I promise I will neither discuss nor reference Romney's putative boy bits. Maybe it's because folks will BE staying up late tonight. M and I have considered a media black-out today, just wake up in the morning and see the cleared smoke.

November 10, 2012

Cooder trying out the snow on the deck. She didn't get far.
Lost that train of thought. And, happily, so very happily, Obama kept his job. We did watch some of the returns, although I find having those talking heads barking at me, and nattering their nabobisms just too much to take. Too much noise. I think all that crap coming at you like a noise version of sand blasting is bad for one's spiritual well-being and possibly other bodily functions.

I am a bit sorry to have missed the process of the Romney campaign having a veritable come-to-Jesus experience and realizing that wishful thinking and denial do not get you relocated to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. My mom said it was interesting to watch how quiet they all were. All out of bombast, were they? She said it was if they were thoughtfully digesting their loss.

The meeting of the seasons.
Not entirely, of course, as His Oleaginous Balloonity, Karl Rove, poster boy for the shiny and constipated, is accusing the Democrats of supressing the vote. Now, I do not, for a single moment, imagine that the Democrats are any less perfidious and machinating than the Republicans, but this I do not believe for a nano-moment. Can't he buy a car wash or something and get the hell out of politics? On the other hand, I guess his keeping his obnoxiousness is plain sight is good so that his perfidy is more or less being monitored.

I could go on but I should do the carpe diem thing and head to the farmer's market. Only one week left and it closes down for the season. Boo-hoo.

The reservoir/bike path after the snow.
(In other tangential news, some good eating 'round these parts. This week I made a roast chicken stuffed with lemon, garlic, and rosemary and a light maple glaze, Marcella Hazan's Minestrone, Lidia Caggiano's Tuscan Onion Soup, and a batch of Sullivan Street No-Knead Bread. I'm retiring for the weekend now.)

Nice sunset.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Allview Avenue, about 4:00pm, evening of recent nor'easter.

"Here we go, Trojans, here we go!" Any USC fans out there? I am certainly not one, but that football cheer was a part of my childhood and it comes to me this morning as I attempt motivation.

Ask how on earth one got sufficiently
Imbued with otherness. And now I see (James Merrill, "The Book of Ephraim").

Jeff Nunokawa posted this lovely James Merrill quote as the close to his morning's post, although I just end with the otherness. I don't see, not quite yet. But I guess I like the possibility that I might see.

Wet Albert, after snow walk.

For the first time in a few weeks, I had a rough night last night, maybe due to drinking too much cheap red wine ("Say it ain't so, Sally-Jo!"), and some creeping worries. Man, do I go to the darkest place fast. But it might be that, too early to tell, some of my morning attempts at positivity might be paying off. I was at least able to tell myself that while I was miserable and despondent in the moment, that tomorrow might look a little differently. And that, as much as possible, I should just try not to follow the darkling thoughts and instead just focus on breathing. I can't always pull that off, but it worked pretty well last night.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Well, here's an anniversary missed. I have been working on this blog for two years now (!) as of November 4th. This year has been terribly challenging, challenges which stumped and silenced me for weeks at a time. Yeah, those lines from Dante I quoted in my first post are still resonantly appropriate:

To tell
About those woods is hard —so tangled and rough

And savage that thinking of it now, I feel
The old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter.

Hah. Little did I know how much harder, in a physical world sense, things would get. I'm still at it though and have no thoughts or plans to discontinue.

I suppose it is a small victory, an upward increment, that, upon waking, my third or fourth thought is somewhere in the carpe diem vicinity: let's get up and ..... That I wake up at a reasonable hour in reasonable health and of reasonable pysche is a positive. Again, that early morning pre-wake (prehensile?) brain smelling M & J's morning coffee likely lifts the spirits.

My introspective skills are a bit rusty, as is my ability to communicate the results of rumination, but I trust they are not entirely gone. I am still adjusting, or readjusting to my upstate context. Things were near a groove when I went to Seattle; since I have been home, almost two weeks now, there has been a steady stream of rhythm disruptives from the small (kids home for M's birthday) to the gigantic (hurricanes).

And after years of living in wastefully and astonishingly hot apartments where I had to leave the windows open, I am now adjusting to an appropriately colder home. It's a big old house and to heat it all the time is to be wasteful of money and energy. I just have to figure out how to dress comfortably.

We may get snow this week. I am far enough upstate for this to have a bigger impact than it does living in the city. Other than my 6 weeks in Albertville, France during the 1992 Olympics, I've never actually lived and functioned in snow country. My biggest concern is driving and trying to get out of the sloped driveway of this house. I suppose it is time to head over to Home Depot and get some appropriate tools for my car.

And getting back to cooking, the pizzas Emily and I made last week were amazing, particularly the pomegrante balsmic soaked and roasted pears, bacon, carmelized onion, and mascarpone. Could have used a bit of fresh garlic and a discreet sprinkling of red pepper, but really quite good.

The sun is shining this morning. That argues against my heading down to the basement to sort clothes and such. But I can almost always come up with SOME argument to avoid that work, so I will stand at the kitchen sink and clean the breakfast dishes, while soaking up some of the rays. And then to the basement.

A reforming packrat's work is never done.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Think, now. Was there anything that needed saying today? Any revelations? Any significance? Even any interesting trivia?

Naw. Slow day mostly. I was up at a reasonable hour, before the rest of the household. I tried to be, you know, forthcoming and carpe diem and all. It's highly unusual for me to be the first person dressed.
Cooder found the heating vent in the hallway.

I did my usual honey and hot water to start the day. When I opened my email, I received this missal from Rick Hanson's Just One Thing:

what we do during the first minutes after waking. For me this time is quite special. Besides being a unique state of consciousness - neither asleep nor hurried along - it's an opportunity to open to and let in beautiful feelings and intentions, and to incline the mind in a good direction.

Not to whine, but this is especially challenging when you are not a morning person. And there are many mornings when I just go through the motions of drinking the hot water and honey. But there are also mornings when I do remember to pay attention, to consider a day wherein I might be more conscious, and perhaps strive for a more pleasant, awake (alive?) day.

(Why do I hear Yoda and CB admonishing me "There is no striving, only doing or not doing?? And then "M-O-U-S-E ...)

And on another, sadder note, my friend Jason had to say goodbye to his beloved Tibetan Mastiff, Po, today. Po was a great dog and a great friend. We are sorry to see him go.