Friday, August 30, 2013



There’s no Wi-Fi on this bus, which makes it only one of the bummers that I am, in fact, on a bus and not on a train on way to the Adirondacks. This prevents me from doing the rest of my assignment as I had planned, but given the vagaries of internet connectivity anyway, I suppose it is all a wash.

One of the advantages of being on a bus is being so high, high enough to look into the cars we pass. It’s a view I don’t have all that often. I would have never known that driver over there was dressed in desert camo and is probably a serviceman could I not see into his car. Now crossing the northern Thaddeus Kosciuszko Bridge (there’s one in New York City, too).

It was raining this morning, not a hard rain, but a real rain. Although there are still grey clouds in the sky, I can see a substantial patch of blue. I am dressed for hot weather, sleeveless shirt, my ubiquitous flip-flops (… does anyone call them Zorries anymore?), and lightweight pants, so I particularly hope the weather improves. Plus MOZ and Deb have requested that I take an end of summer dip in Schroon Lake on their behalf. It’ll have to be pretty warm.

I am already ready for nap, having awoken at 6:30. I remember those work mornings when my first thought would be “When, how soon, can I get back to sleep?” I have already requested Frank Zappa and Led Zepplin for our audio/visual listening/watching focus on this weekend, but I won’t really be able to stay up too late. I need to do this work in a timely way as their corporate client is Bloomberg and one wouldn’t want to fail to deliver.

So, back to getting caught up on magazine reading for another 45 minutes or so, at which time I should be in Whitehall where Larry is picking me up. We have not been on a single junk store excursion this summer, though I have been up here three other times. We are getting some Larry-Sally Anne bumming around time. I’ll let you know if I find anything particularly excellent. Then again, I will be on the train again, so I won’t be able to lug much around. And I don’t need anything.

Deep relaxing sigh. I just love being here at the theater. I wish I could explain it or share it or something. A few of you have been here, so you know what I mean. My kind of relaxing, which include some visual stimulation. Right now, I am standing in the kitchen and I can hear the soundtrack of Elysium pounding overhead as I am approximately under or behind the screen. When it is a busy night and I am not helping out selling tickets or candy, I listen to all audience walk down the aisles to their seats. There is a tad of “behind the scenes” coolness along with just feeling as if this is one of “my places” in the world.

I did get caught up on some reading while on the bus. For any of you who still love and have time for literature and great magazines, New York Magazine had a great interview with the founder of The New York Review of Books a few months back, In Conversation with Robert Silvers. I liked this comment about Edmund Wilson

"He was a man who wanted to see a clear delineation of reality, however various."

Theater fire escape.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


... all of the characters were so tightly wrapped and it was so beautiful to watch them unwrap one another.
— Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Yeah. This is almost true of The Brothers K. There's just so much of it that seems angry, vituperative, indirect, hysterical, and just plain ugly. An unpleasant reading experience, or listening experience for that matter. I do understand that the plot and the motivations are first rate, but ugh. It isn't fun or pleasurable or enlightening, for me at least. But, so far at least, Carol Rifka Brunt wraps her characters tight enough.

Why I am sleepy is a mystery. Cooder, Emmylou, and I took a comfortable nap on the SIP this afternoon. I woke up and Emmylou was on the floor next to me. Her fur was a veritable sea of erratic waves. She is a hard sleeper.

Cooder was more in the classic mode.

And now to bed. Tomorrow will be full of anxiety as I prepare for Schroon Lake on Thursday and continue writing a couple of scenes that Louise and I hammered out again today. 

Managed to get over to the reservoir bike path for a 40 minute walk. I eschewed The Brothers K as I have had a stay of discussion. Instead, I focussed on the graphic novel and worked out some pages. Got some new pictures too.

And for you non-believers, the leaves are already turning.

Monday, August 26, 2013


I'll start this here, on the couch in the front room where, notwithstanding the rain, there are still critters out there making with the night noise. My sheets are all clean and tidy ready for me to tuck in and conk out. Cooder has already approved them. Even at her advanced age, she was ready to play in the sheets when I remade the bed. In the Park Slope apartment, Emmylou would race across to help me make the bed, but she doesn't do that here. I suppose she gets her kicks by racing up the stairs when I head up to bed.

J is practicing the bass. M is likely reading upstairs in bed. She might have eschewed her usual sweet goodnight as I was on the telephone. I am feeling a bit punk, almost allergic or slightly ill. I certainly hope I am not getting sick before my Schroon Lake visit. I was kind of glum today, partly because of the weather, partly because of my indifferent health, and partly because I am in a bit of a writer's snit on the graphic novel. And the adjustments I have been making to my diet and the walking have thrown in a few issues and challenges as well. Ok. Not to give up. 

I wasn't looking forward to a walk and then there was the threat of rain, too. I just couldn't make a decision about anything. At long last, I decided I had to make pizza for dinner (ingredients demanded), so I had to go up to The Tomato Man on the hill and get a couple of fresh ones, so I wouldn't drive to the reservoir to walk so that I would be close enough to home to make dinner in a timely fashion. You following this? Even if you don't care.

I was dreading the walk, too, because The Brothers K is so unpleasant to listen to. Particularly as I was feeling a non-good funky anyway. Hey! Liberation! I decided to walk without listening as it was giving me a reason to NOT walk. And then I called Louise instead and we hammered out some new things for the screenplay and graphic novel. Kind of good stuff. 

Now to bed, maybe a hot shower before will help. Listening to an audio book is really helping to sleep, although I am not sure how much I retain. That's not so significant. 

Okay. Showered. Emmylou joined me in the bathroom. Cooder is in her place on the pillow near where my head will soon be. We can call it a day and now call it a night.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


It's not exactly the cheeriest way to start the morning, at least in this instance, but Poem-of-the-Day featured this poem by a niece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge ... No instant happiness here.

"My True Love Hath My Heart and I Have His"

None ever was in love with me but grief.    
   She wooed my from the day that I was born; 
She stole my playthings first, the jealous thief,    
   And left me there forlorn. 

The birds that in my garden would have sung,    
   She scared away with her unending moan; 
She slew my lovers too when I was young,    
   And left me there alone. 

Grief, I have cursed thee often--now at last    
   To hate thy name I am no longer free; 
Caught in thy bony arms and prisoned fast,    
   I love no love but thee.

I know this frame of mind annoys or dismays many of you, but truth be told, this is often how I feel. And I think Mary Elizabeth Coleridge was singing the blues here. Anyone of you musicians out there want to set this to music? I think it's got the makings of a hit.

Another Sunday, work to do, walks to take, prep for trip to Schroon Lake. LD gave me a pedometer and I will be damned if I can figure out how to set the damn thing. I put it away for a couple of weeks and re-addressed, but I still can't make it work. I'll just have to walk without knowing WTF.

MOZ sent an interesting article from the Huffington Post yesterday, 23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert. (Evidently, this one is making the digerati rounds.) Louise and I have had long conversations about introversion and how we have to work to overcome this. I have been labelled as an extrovert and have had to disabuse close friends from time to time about how I really feel. We do learn to compensate, sometimes perhaps too well, and thus folks make false assumptions about us. Most of these statements are true, except for maybe #12, as I am always trying to be good at everything and have far too many interests. I do particularly like the last sentence, which is true for introverts, extroverts, and all other stops along the continuum, "We all have our own private cycles." Yep. 

Birthday shout out to my spiritual sister in Kansas, Ms. Pamela. And out to Anna K. in Prescott. Love to you both.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


"Obviously I need courage to deal with my current dysfunctional body. And religion? The bible says that the kingdom of God is within you. If so, I haven’t noticed it lately. I’m not making light of devotion or a mother praying to bring her baby back to life after it’s been cut out of the stomach of an anaconda in Venezuela. Human suffering has to be the largest of all question marks. You must beware of hope, a radically dangerous emotion. Hope can roll over and crush you. I went to a dozen doctors last winter in Tucson for shingles relief and each time I had a wide-eyed Midwestern hope and faith that was promptly smeared. Hope is a bourgeois Tinker Bell toy that can transform into a guard dog of the most vicious nature. You raise your expectations then are gutted like a deer. However, if you need to say a little prayer, go ahead and moisten your lips for the deaf gods, although it’s like fly fishing in a sewer: 'Raise your chin, o son of man, your doom is around the next corner on the left.'"
— Jim Harrison

Cooder's evening position on the back of the couch while I work.

The days are beautiful, but the mornings and evenings are sharp, acidic in their way. I have already seen leaves blowing around. I'm still back in February in my mind, the year and possibilities stretch before me. I still have time to get it together. Um. Not so much.

Emmylou keeps an eye on me as well.

As I mentioned, I finished Tom Bissell's book of essays, Magic Night. The final essay was about a writer I guess I am not supposed to like as he is a man's man writer. But I do like Jim Harrison. I can't remember offhand what I liked so much about Sundog (n.b., not a glowing review there), but it is a book I will buy as a gift.

A bon mot or two here:

Until that point in my life, I had heeded the inadvertent lessons of my English classes: literature was something written by the dead for the bored. ... I was fifteen years old and for the first time in my reading life I underlined a phrase not to retain its information but to acknowledge its mystery.

... I do not recall much of the night after the second bottle's splendid arrival, and by the end of the evening I felt as though I had been beaten up by our meal.

Sometimes politeness was just a way to escape what needed to be said.

— Tom Bissell

No matter how acute, the pain of hangovers can't rise above farce.

A creek is more powerful than despair.

— Jim Harrison

And this one is difficult to quote so I will paraphrase a bit, "Harrison's belief that a writer is someone who 'consciously or unconsciously takes a vow of obedience to awareness' ..."

And so it goes. I'm struggling. Not in an overt way, but I can feel myself all balled up inside, steeling myself, protecting myself, generating worry, and maybe some discontentment. On my walks, I try to remember to relax my shoulders, let out some of the tight energy, kind of ... um ... flow ... a bit. I try to escape myself by eating Smarties and Gummy Lifesavers and more than I should. I want to drink although I know I sleep better if I don't. Maybe I just need a good long bath or a massage. 

E has returned from Europe and had to move back to Stonybrook for her senior year. M and J packed up the SUV and off they went this afternoon. They haven't returned. I worked on Monsterwood with Louise for a good long time and have quite a bit to rewrite tomorrow, but my head was too full to write this evening. So I tried watching the Keira Knightley version of Anna Karenina. Strange. Interesting, but I don't much like KK, so I couldn't get into it, notwithstanding that Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay. I caught up on Borgen. And now to bed and maybe more Brothers K (closing in on the end, I swear it). I couldn't sleep last night so I just listened until I did fall asleep and I will try that again.

Breathe deeply. Sit up straight. Relax your shoulders. Good night.

Friday, August 23, 2013


The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.

— Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862) 

Yeah, attending to an answer, listening to what someone says. Perhaps that will creep into my "practice" if this mindfulness, this general paying attention business stays on my mental forefront. On the other hand, I will also need to practice by talking to more people. My world, at least in telephone and face-to-face contact, is fairly limited these days. Cooder, Emmy, and Albert ... well, I was going to say that maybe there wasn't much there ... but come to think of it, I could attend to them more ... attentively ... as well.

Pardon the rambling nature of this, but the caffeine is still kicking in.

Later that ... well...  not really morning anymore. I am preparing to head down to Brooklyn and Manhattan until Thursday and I find that I am anxious. I am avoiding getting ready, although I have had ample preparation time. And it is not any big deal, no pressure situations. But here I am playing solitaire and feeling just slightly out of sorts. And isn't because of the constant drone of the power mowers in the background. 

I don't like this anxiety about leaving and/or going places. It's a new-ish thing. Just sharing.

Days later. 

Made it to New York City and back, more or less in one piece and now with darker hair! I've settled back in and, this afternoon, I will buckle down on the graphic novel again. I am going to head out for an hour of walking and The Brothers K and thence to writing.

Gravestone at Quaker Hill.
Being out of the home environment leads to more indulgence in food and alcohol, but at least on Wednesday I did plenty of walking. S is on the Quaker Cemetary Committee and thus has keys to Quaker Hill in Prospect Park. He needed to see if the keys worked, so we walked over there and walked all around the cemetary, which was hella-cool.

And I finally finally finally finished Tom Bissell's book of essays, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation. Yay! I only checked it out of the library five or six times.

"Films, perhaps, show us who we want to be, and literature shows us who we actually are. Sitcoms, if they show us anything, show us people we might like to know. Because of this, the sitcom is a medium designed to reassure. The more reassuring the sitcom, the better its chances become at winding up in the financial promised land of syndication, where multi-camera sitcomes fare far better than their single-camera brethern. Most sitcoms are about families, and for the millions who watch them, a sitcom becomes a kind of mental family. Week after week, your couch faces the couch of characters you feel you know, characters whose problems never quite get solved."

from A Simple Medium: Chuck Lorre and the American Sitcom

I don't watch many sitcoms, although I have seen all of the episodes of 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. I did find this very interesting.

Okay. More later. Cooder wants Greenies and I do need to get a-walking.

Emmylou joined us on the bed again this morning.

Monday, August 19, 2013


What does it mean if I am willing to look for a silver lining? I wouldn't say today was one of my better days, mood-wise. I have a vague, on-the-verge-of-crying feeling ... and allow me to digress here. Does anyone know a word for that feeling, plein du larmes? Prés du larmes? (Full of tears and close to tears.) Some language must have a word or even a better, more poetic expression for it.

Here's another interesting (to me) observation. I've mentioned before how much trouble I have falling asleep and the dark thoughts that visit me. When I take an afternoon snooze, the same thoughts do not tend to invade that space. Curiouser and curiouser.

Back to the silver lining. I've decided that in any number of ways, I need to slow down. I tend to eat fast because I often want to get it over with (I know, that is incongruous with my love of food but bear in mind that the creativity and pleasure of others are higher on my motivational list). I am not as "be here now" as would be healthy for me. And the demonstration of that was this:

I drove over to take a walk on the bike path after stopping at the library. Getting out of the house is always a bit of a struggle (worth looking at why that is the case). I parked, found my place on the audiobook of The Brothers K, managed my damaged headphones, and walked across the street without looking where I was going, which was a storm drain. I badly twisted my ankle, but I immediately thought how fortunate I was that I didn't seriously hurt myself. I was able to walk for an hour, whether or not that was advisable is still to be seen. But I did not get angry. I just thought, "Damn it. Slow down. Pay attention."

I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

I'm in the homestretch of The Brothers K, by the way, only about 120 or so pages. I am trying to postpone the Kermit Place Readers until after Labor Day so that I can get up to Schroon Lake a bit sooner. Larry and I have really not had much hanging out Larry-Sally Anne stylee (some junk shopping, more music watching), etc.

I picked up Greil Marcus' quite uneven treatise on Van Morrison again, When That Rough God Goes Riding. One would have imagined that I would finish such a slight book, under 200 pages, but I did not. So, it becomes the upstairs bathroom reading again. Marcus quotes Jonathan Lethem.

"What defines great singing in the rock and soul era is some underlying tension in the space between singer and song. A bridge is being built across that void, and it's a bridge we're never sure the singer is going to manage to cross. The gulf may resides between the vocal texture and the actual meaning of the words, or between the singer and the band, the musical genre, the style of production, what have you ..."

Fly in the Ointment, 2009

I'm going to muse upon that.

The beautiful, fabulous, and generally all-around talented Patty Ramona has been touring Europe this  summer. I came across this poem and had to post it for her (and you, of course.)

The Barcelona Inside Me  

Give me, again, the fairy tale grotto 
with the portico-vaulting overhead. 
Let me walk beneath the canted columns 
of Gaudí's rookery, spiral 
along his crenelated Jerusalem 
of broken tiles, crazy shields. 
Yes, it's hot as hell and full 
of tourists at the double helix, 
but the anarchists now occupy 
the Food Court, and the arcadian dream 
for the working class includes this shady 
colonnade cut into the mountainside. 
I've postponed my allegiance to 
the tiny house movement, to the 450 
square feet of simple, American maple 
infrastructure and the roomy 
mind suspended like a hammock 
between joists. Serpents and castle 
keeps shimmer, and a mosaic invitation 
to the Confectionery gets me a free 
café con leche on the La Rambla

where honeycombed apartments bend 
on chiseled stone and host 
floating, wrought-iron balconies. 
I think I'll move into Gaudí's dream 
of recycled mesh, walk barefoot 
on his flagstone tiles 
inscribed with seaweed 
and sacred graffiti 
from pagan tombs. 
O, Barcelona of chamfered corners! 
And chimneys of cowled 
warriors! From Gaudí's Book 
of Revelations, I invite the goblet 
and the stone Mobius strip 
to a tapas of grilled prawns and squid. 
Gaudí's book of Revelations.

— Robin Becker

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Yeah. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. At 6:00 I got up to have my hot water and honey while I watched the current episode of Borgen. Another amazing show. The acting is phenomenal. Then I had coffee and breakfast, played with Emmylou, unloaded the dishwasher, and now I am thinking I will try to sleep again. 

Here's Jeff Nunokawa's thought of the morning.

4463. "poem of life and death" (Jasper Griffin)

August 18, 2013 at 4:09am
Walter Marg called the Iliad 'the poem of death'. I think it will be more appropriate to call it the poem of life and death: of the contrast and transition between the two. This is what the poet is concerned to emphasize, and on this he concentrates his energies and our gaze(Homer on Life and Death).

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, or sometime near enough, you wake to wonder what you are dreading and what you are doing. What battle of life and death, come from near and far, are you fighting or fearing inside of your head?

Maybe it's a nightmare of history--say, the thought of all those decencies deadened by thelongue durée of human war.

They say that the worst weapon of war is memory, a cousin told me at a family reunion this summer. At twenty, he had fought in Vietnam. The war nearly killed him several times over, and the memories of what he had seen and done there made his life for a long time after a kind of living death.

Years later, at that reunion I reported, some decent exchange took place on the family deck as my cousin conveyed his intelligence to those listening to him--something brought back from the land of the dead to the land of the living.

Somehow, it felt a little like love.
Note: She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them (Shakespeare, Othello).

I am trying to finish another of the three or four books that are almost finished. I stumbled across this in Sylvia Townshend Warner's Summer Will Show, that I was supposed to have finished for my book group about four months ago.
"But they had spoken together, with every admission re-establishing their liveliness, their power to speak, hear, communicate. It is one thing to speak of death with those one loves, but to think of it alone, walking through the streets, one does that at a different temperature."
I walked a long time yesterday but I did not really get any good photos. This will have to do.

longue durée of human ...

Saturday, August 17, 2013


This helped me to sleep, of course.
I couldn't hold out. I broke down and broke my wine fast last night. I was cooking and the temptation was too great. I did manage to control myself and stop after 2.5 glasses, so that was an achievement, but I didn't sleep as well.

Of course, sleep was also tainted by the crazy memoir that has supplanted all other current reading material and obligations, Howard Kaylan's Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo & Eddie, Frank Zappa, etc.... Kaylan was right there in the middle of all the rock and roll debauchery that is now legend, although I was close enough and have read enough to know that it is true. What is nice about it is that Kaylan cops to having being an idiotic pig much of the time. He doesn't apologize or white-wash, but he does acknowledge some perfidy. Kaylan is not deep, probing, reflective, or any of the things I usually enjoy, but he tells his story quickly with enough detail to keep you utterly engaged. Yes, I do recommend this for anyone who can overlook his supreme MCP-ishness, and is interested in rock and roll.

To that end, I do need to finish listening to the last two weeks lectures and take the final before I forget all the stuff I don't really know that well. I stopped being interested in what was popular sometime back in the punk/new wave days, although, of course, a lot of what I listened to BECAME popular. No surprise to anyone here, I never cottoned to heavy metal, hair bands, rap or hip hop (after Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and some of the very early stuff), so I have to take the test while that is fresh in my mind. 

Up early today, probably because of those weird Kaylan-influenced dreams. Reading about endless groupies, throwing up on Jimi Hendrix' red velvet suit, and touring Europe with Zappa are likely not the stuff to produce sweetest of sweet dreams. Hell, even thinking about how weird 200 Motels was the first (and only) time I saw it is enough to induce confusion. Even writing about 200 Motels, Head, gosh, just adds to a lot of sadness and head scratching and a vague sense of the pain of being an outsider and an object due to gender. The party was fun, the creativity was high, but sorry kid, that vagina and those tits mean this is neither about nor for you. And yet, and yet ...

Fun with laundry.

Sorry to wander off there ... I've been a little more disoriented and vulnerable lately. I got lost for about two hours at the shopping mall yesterday. I had forgotten my cell phone and there I was at Marshall's, thinking I was delighted with the choices of discounted lavender soaps from France. I shook it off with minimal financial damage and headed home.

Plus, I have a lot of cooking to do today unless we are going to let a lot of stuff go to waste. I've already started the prep for the Persian Carrot Soup, Kale and Beet Greens with Pecans, and Smoked Eggplant Soup (can't find the link ... if it comes out well, I'll give you my recipe which will almost certainly be different than what I start out with). All this to babble and say I need to get a few more things at the Farmer's Market before I get back to cooking. The fridge is near bursting and we need to eat our way through a few things. 

It's sooooo much fun to cook at this time of year. The freshness of the onions and garlic is amazing. They are wet and juicy. I was on the telephone with Maman which prepping some delectable tomatoes for cooking down for later use. And it has only just begun. Sadly, our own tomatoes did not happen. Oh well, at least we have basil, oregano, and lots of zinnias.

Pride and joy, et cetera. But not ours.

Birthday shout outs to my dear oldest brother Michael, Becky Sue Randall, wherever she may be, and my stellar sister-in-law, Stella (who I am pretty sure won't see this). Off to the market and a walk.