Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hello sweetheart. Just a quick note tonight, I'm quite tired after a very delightful drive to Great Barrington and back. I had the car for the day, and decided to go see the Glenn Gould documentary. But first I cleared it with D because he & I actually had an argument over it a couple of weeks ago. "He's mine," D had declared. I certainly didn't want to tread on that. So both of us missed it when it played at TSL. I looked at what was playing around and went through a process of elimination. The Hildegard von Bingen film will be at TSL - so don't go to Rhinebeck for that. Ditto re: the new Woody Allen - surely that will show up here. And the new Clint Eastwood - it stars Matt Damon - won't that come to the multiplex? So... Glenn Gould at 1 p.m. at the G.B. Triplex. So I said to D this morning, I'm inclined to go to that but don't want it to be viewed as passive-aggressive on my part. D said it's fine, he'll netflix it. So I went.

I loved the drive and cranked a choral Vivaldi extravaganza (Gloria) and the Bach Magnificat that was on the same disc. Opened the moon roof and turned on the heater at my feet. Bellowed along with the exquisite voices. Thought of you and remembered that I saw you once with your young son - that thought's been coming at me the last several days but finally overnight towards dawn an image came to me more squarely, securely. You were on the center path with him one day, a weekend day. I passed by, heading towards the parking area (where we crossed paths wasn't so far from it). Your little boy was cute, looks like you. Was he riding a little scooter, or a bicycle, or something? I seem to remember a busy little boy, and a bike helmet. I could be completely making this up though. I mean, not on purpose, to be a purposely unreliable narrator - but more that - well, how accurate is my memory and a mental image that forms these days from some concentrated (if yet, still, involuntary) effort and what actually transpired?

Oh, but I digress. Glenn Gould isn't "mine," but Bach is, has been since my girlhood. Perhaps it's why I like to sing and write long lines of song that ask questions and lead to - where exactly? I knew nothing of Gould's personal life, and was quite surprised to learn about the close relation he had with Lukas Foss's wife, Cornelia, who left Lukas (the composer/conductor), for a time, for Gould, her two children in tow, who - now in square middle-age, in interspersed interviews in the film - recall how they loved both their father and the very fatherly (or avuncular) Gould, whom Cornelia left after a few years, returning (in some fashion) to Foss, because Gould was becoming increasingly erratic, paranoid, and controlling. Cornelia's interviewed in the film too - she's an artist, a painter, but not an artiste, she clearly has a good sensible practical maybe even stern head on her shoulders - and remarks that Gould's personality simply changed, some other personality came out.

Afterward I went to a cheese shop on the main street and bought an overpriced ($12.95) French camembert, along with a few loaves of bread - olive levain, raisin walnut, two sunflower millets - that were in the "day old" reduced-price bin. I returned to the parking lot and tore the end off the raisin walnut and sampled the camembert. Oh my dear, how delicious. I had started the motor but simply shut it off so that I could concentrate on the beautiful ripe cheese and the chewy loaf with the sweet raisin bits. I tore at both with my fingers - delicately, delicately! - I had no implements but I wasn't a savage about it!

And then I drove back along Route 71 I think it is, back to Route 22, and back through Spencertown where there seemed to be some slightly solidified precipitation - a bit of sleet, I guess, not quite snow flurries. I returned home and cleaned up the kitchen, and dinner will be leftover chicken paprikash, and ---

how to end this? I have no idea. I hope you've been having a wonderful weekend and a delightful time on this Halloween. Kisses, and not just the Hershey ones. XOXO

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back in my room at the Slaviansky Bazaar Hotel. Wintry sun gleams through pewter atmosphere like the bulblight of a film projector on an empty screen. The cats are on the porch outside, each on a cushioned chair around the table, arranged like residents of a posh retirement home. I am upstairs, dressed in layers, cashmere, mock turtleneck, fleece, and crocheted flapper cloche. I went for a walk at the conservation area this morning and thought about how I don't have a dog, and I started playing with the phrases, Lady With a Dog, Lady Without a Dog, Gentleman with a Dog - in other words, I was thinking about the Chekhov short story which I haven't read in a while. Two strangers circling a park, with or without pets - it is a romantic setting to be sure, one hopes something might happen. I don't mean in an unseemly way, I just mean - oh what do I mean? I am tired, despite a nap. Another memory comes to me that I haven't set down - I saw you not so long ago, for I guess the last time, perhaps a month ago or a bit more. I was returning to my car and you were at yours, and I was pulling out of the lot and you seemed to stop and stare - you weren't indifferent - and I as usual continued to bolt but as I pulled out of my space I rolled my window down and when I passed you I waved. I don't remember if you waved too but imagine you must have. I must have noticed your car before I even got in mine, and perhaps you were standing there already, but that's not what I remember - I remember being in my car pulling away and you standing there and me waving. It was a beautiful late morning, maybe around 10:30 or 11. And I was glad to see you but - well that was that, it wasn't more than that. Just that (maybe), oh he's still around, he hasn't disappeared, that's nice, there's a bit of continuity, and friendly recognition, there aren't so very many of us. And another small memory comes to me, crossing paths earlier this spring, it must have been a chilly day because I remember you in your jacket and maybe a cap, and we smiled at each other and said hi and went on our ways. This was - where? - so hard to describe spots in that park - I have to resort to almost plannerly descriptions. Let's see, perhaps about 100 yards north of the parking area, right around the place where the east/west shortcut path bisects the park. God I was always terrible at those technical descriptions. Well, if it was you then you remember - you know, that place on that path, past the muddy stretch, and before you get to the woods! Or perhaps you're reading this thinking, no that wasn't me at all who is she going on about? No I met you at an LWRP meeting, or behind the fish counter at the supermarket, or -- well, all that's doubtful and if I seem downright psychic about who I imagine you might be it's a testament to how incredibly few people I come into any contact with whatsoever!

So I am babbling away here in the lovely private space of the Slaviansky Bazaar Hotel, my dear Dmitri. Because I went and googled Chekhov Lady Dog text and read the short story online, and then a wonderful essay about it by the poet Dana Gioia, which helped bring it into instant focus.

It is nice to have this little private space to commune. I hadn't thought of my blog in precisely that way before, but now I do, and what a lovely gift. I'm glad I can have a double life, a room of my own, in this sense. I'm glad you come to visit, I really am.
And Anna Sergeyevna began coming to see him in Moscow. Once in two or three months she left S----, telling her husband that she was going to consult a doctor about an internal complaint -- and her husband believed her, and did not believe her. In Moscow she stayed at the Slaviansky Bazaar hotel, and at once sent a man in a red cap to Gurov. Gurov went to see her, and no one in Moscow knew of it.

Once he was going to see her in this way on a winter morning (the messenger had come the evening before when he was out). With him walked his daughter, whom he wanted to take to school: it was on the way. Snow was falling in big wet flakes.

"It's three degrees above freezing-point, and yet it is snowing," said Gurov to his daughter. "The thaw is only on the surface of the earth; there is quite a different temperature at a greater height in the atmosphere."

"And why are there no thunderstorms in the winter, father?"

He explained that, too. He talked, thinking all the while that he was going to see her, and no living soul knew of it, and probably never would know. He had two lives: one, open, seen and known by all who cared to know, full of relative truth and of relative falsehood, exactly like the lives of his friends and acquaintances; and another life running its course in secret. And through some strange, perhaps accidental, conjunction of circumstances, everything that was essential, of interest and of value to him, everything in which he was sincere and did not deceive himself, everything that made the kernel of his life, was hidden from other people; and all that was false in him, the sheath in which he hid himself to conceal the truth -- such, for instance, as his work in the bank, his discussions at the club, his "lower race," his presence with his wife at anniversary festivities -- all that was open. And he judged of others by himself, not believing in what he saw, and always believing that every man had his real, most interesting life under the cover of secrecy and under the cover of night. All personal life rested on secrecy, and possibly it was partly on that account that civilised man was so nervously anxious that personal privacy should be respected.

After leaving his daughter at school, Gurov went on to the Slaviansky Bazaar. He took off his fur coat below, went upstairs, and softly knocked at the door.
Actually, I find the Anna character more than a little tedious with all her weeping and handwringing. I relate more to Dmitri Gurov. Though I've always been faithful - well, emotionally, in the last two years, not always. What I mean is that I like having this private little space where I can be myself and express myself. It's not the same at all as writing in a journal or burying notes in a box. I am glad that you like to come by and listen.

Must go see about tiny new potatoes - 9 of them with dinner tonight - and a salad - and two little steaks, though no shallots.

I am quite sure you're a better character overall than Dmitri Gurov - all the same - XOXO

Friday, October 29, 2010

Collard greens, or homemade chocolate chip & walnut cookies - which would you choose? I kept the greens, gave housesitting neighbor the choice. She pretended to think about it. Nice young woman. Back from a jaunt to the CSA, have gone the last three Fridays because neighbor is away, but will be back in a few days. I kept most of the perishables, such as limpid variegated lettuce and purple & chartreuse braising greens, fractal and ferny, with which I think a beautiful piece of gently cooked fish on top would be nice. There were also tiny new potatoes (18 for us, 18 for next door), apples, a bag of hefty sized carrots, 2 butternut squash, 1 onion, 1 chartreuse-fleshed cauliflower, a quart of yet more salad tomatoes and out along the cutting border truly what must be the last of the nearly spent cosmos, since widespread frost is forecast for tonight, plus a bit of salvia, fronds held above a skirt of thick dark leaves, tiny bubbled blossoms reminiscent of grape hyacinth in spring, for the mustard jar on the kitchen table.

It was overcast much of the day but in late afternoon the sun broke through the pallor and put on an extravagant drama. As I see from an upstairs aerie window that faces west, wide swathes of sky are banded with alternating dark gray and light peach, and the tumultuous charcoal - cloud? mountain? cloud in mimic imitation of mountain? - is gorgeously backlit by the sun setting exuberantly (yet itself invisible) behind the mountains, backlighting the baroque whorls of deep dark with flashing rims of platinum and gold. A musical approximation might involve triumphant trumpets played by angels. It's all very roiling and celestial and very painterly (less Hudson River School than, I don't know - Tiepolo? Rubens? Some European landscape painter of very grand roiling proportions, that might form a focal point on a wall at the Frick, or the Gardner.) But would they have included, in the nearer ground, shimmering black leaves, what remains of them in the bare trees, that do the tarantula dance in what must be a strong wind against the dramatic sky? I've just gotten up to look again and now the sun is gone, the sky is mostly an enormous blanket of dark gray cloud that's enveloped everything over the house and reaches west to meet with another bank of cloud except there's a wide Rothkoesque band of pale light sandwiched between the fronts, with a flourish of lit orange dashed at a margin, signature of sun. How can one not believe in the Divine at work with such a magnificent, magnanimously offered display, gratis- here you are, it's for you, de nada. How can you not notice? It's the visual equivalent of being taken by the shoulders and said: look you, pay attention. Do you suppose this happens every day?


morning ramble

Overcast morning, drear. Did you have to move so far away? It would have been nice to walk with you. I'm too shy, I guess you are too. I checked you out, of course I did, I check everybody out. Not that there are so many, there aren't. Once I hung out by the gate waiting for you, sat on the bench so I could check you out a bit better. But I'm painfully shy, I could never make a move. I don't know how people do it, really, outside of a bar. I've slept with only one person in the last quarter century - as long as that. And not at all in the last year, and the four before that I think I could count on one hand. So it would have been nice if one of us had had the ability to chat the other up, if only just to walk together around that lonely circumference. I mean it's a beautiful circumference but I've been doing it all by myself for two years now. There was a brief period, a couple of winters ago when someone did strike up an acquaintance, and I was thrilled, too much so. A short story came out of it, but an end to the acquaintance. I don't know what that was all about - another ambivalent guy I guess, and I am hardly ambivalent. So it would have been nice to walk with you and get to know you a bit, what you're interested in, what you do, and all the rest. This morning I'm thinking of San Francisco, because Ruth's there, leaving. I lived in Oakland for a time, in the early 80s. I haven't been back in - I can hardly remember how long. I moved to New York and went to work at a law firm, and on a long, long document production spent many weeks in Houston, and on weekends could fly home - or anywhere, really. So I often flew back to San Francisco. Anyway, I think how nice it would be to see that city again, a fun place to explore with someone I don't know - with you - because there's so much to marvel at and bask in, the city is so sensual in its delights, the food so extraordinary. I'd love to have a beautiful glass of wine with you, and a sampling of artisanal cheeses along with fresh-baked bread, and lush grapes, and oh I don't know what else - I guess we could go to the farmer's market that I gather is around the Ferry Building - that's new since the last time I was there - is it 20 years now? Perhaps. And all the flowers in bloom even in winter! Trumpet vines with fuschia blooms twined on wood trellises in Berkeley, and in the little garden where I lived in Adams Point white Calla lilies. Outside my window, somewhere near, invisible jasmine bloomed at night, honeyed fragrance wafting in on breezes as I read by lamplight or lay in the darkness. I had two rooms to myself in the big airy wood house, and I slept in the one that was like an enclosed porch, with windows on three sides overlooking the garden. I dated a "foodie" type a couple of times, an engineer who loved to cook. He seemed to like me very much but I found him wooden and terribly dull. He cooked steak with shallots one evening, and was very excited about the shallot. I was young and a bit of a jerk and impatient and could not get excited about a shallot and was incredulous that he or anyone else could. I could now though, I think - I have grown into a much greater appreciation of beautiful foodstuffs. I wouldn't mind getting excited over a shallot with you, and a small perfect steak panfried with sherry vinegar, and soft mesclun salad with that perhaps, and you could choose the wine, a magic elixir served in lovely stems, and we'd listen to music and enjoy the meal and then we'd kiss and then some and fall asleep together on breezes full of nightblooming jasmine and the next morning after breakfast (delicious strong coffee, exquisite pastry, fresh-squeezed juice) we could drive across the bridge and circle the perimeter of the city and eventually stop by the ocean, fog wisping and curling in the hills as we walk along the beach and look out over the waves at the sun shining silver through the clouds, glad that we brought sweaters and jackets because it's so much cooler there than in the East Bay. And the Hudson and the park and the tangled woods and the sloped fields and the views of oceanic mountains would seem very far away and we would marvel that several times we had crossed paths and who knew that we both liked shallots and kisses and each other so much.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

enough about me

The most beautiful hour now, on a most beautiful day, more like April or August than just before November. I gave the house a good once-over, including cleaning the baths (always an achievement), I've got a big pot of chicken paprikash on the stove, KZE hasn't played any David Gray at all today so I'm hoping he's up soon, Penelope just barfed all over a pile of New York Reviews which caused me to start cursing at her but I held back, but D's going to have to clean that up, I am spent after all that vacuuming, dusting, and wiping walls & floors.

So, what's new with you?

I was thinking earlier, as I chopped onions for the paprikash, how I feel as though we've been on a very long first date - and all I've ever done, the whole time the maitre d' sat us, we ordered drinks, the amuse bouche arrived, another drink, we perused the menus, the candlelight flickered, I checked you out, you checked me out - the whole time I've done nothing but talk about myself. The whole time. The four-and-a-half months I'm aware of, since mid-June when I first became aware of - and in the parking lot on your car wasn't there a U.S. sticker and I did make the association, and it gave me pause, but thought it was me being too literal yet again. Anyway, I just want you to know (as the music plays and candlelight flickers and I continue babbling on and on and on about myself as always on this crazy first blind date and I like mine medium-rare but it's a nice thing to share a pasta as an appetizer the way they do in Italy) that I'm actually a very good listener and I am (at least theoretically) interested in you, you are not just the cyberspace equivalent of a 70s Pet Rock (I never understood them then, do better now) -- oh, I just ran out of steam. I'll put down the menu and let you order, I'm just going to look out the window now at the beautiful setting sun - no, wait, where am I -

I hope you can tell from this loopy post that I'm in a fine mood, the house is clean, I'm tired though. I hope you've been having a fine day and even though we've just met and all I've done is talk incessantly about myself - well, XOXO. I like the message inscribed on that bench. Something or other about "a life distinguished by significant choices." That phrase gives me pause.

Man the light is beautiful just now up in the aerie, and Dar Williams just sang a song, The Babysitter's Here, that reminded me of my babysitting days 40 years ago. I was a great babysitter! I loved the S's especially because Mr. S had a cache of Playboys under the settee which I'd spend hours paging through and completely turned me on. The L's had The Joy of Sex on their nightstand and that was interesting too, though not really a turn-on.

Oh, the waitperson would like our order. What is it that you like anyway - darling?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Iain McGilchrist himself writes (on p. 214), "I'm well aware that hemispheres are not people." But as I was reading today all I could think of was the dynamic between old paramour and myself, left brain dominant v. right brain, Apollonian v. Dionysian, Mars v. Venus. I'll stop short of male v. female. Uncanny though. I wasn't looking for it - my mind would just go there.
... the most obvious fact about the relationship between the hemispheres is that it depends on separation and mutual inhibition, which is coherent with the view of the relationship between the phenomenological worlds of the two hemispheres, according to which each must, for different reasons, remain ignorant of the other. At the second level, that of their more global interaction over longer time periods that form the basis of conscious experience, the evidence is that the relationship is not symmetrical or reciprocal, with the advantage being taken by the left hemisphere. There is therefore a conflict of asymmetries. [227]
Word. Although I still think he follows my blog on an invisible RSS feed. What do I care anymore? I try not to think about him. Sometimes he seeps in, like flood water through a door, but I will him out of my thoughts. Sometimes audibly. With a shudder such as on a second walk this afternoon in the perpetual gloaming of this wet day: "oh don't even go there." And so I don't.
A sort of stuffing of the ears with sealing wax appears to be part of thenormal left-hemisphere mode. It does not want to hear what it takes to be the siren songs of the right hemisphere... [235]

Ultimately I was disappointed, and I did expect a little bit more from him than he was able to parsimoniously give. That he did not ever wish to meet, after 35 years, still confounds me, and is painful. But there it is. I am excising it, yet again. I did have an expectation.
The left hemisphere is competitive, and its concern, its prime motivation, is power. [209]
I have none with my new friend (yes friend - I guess). There's no context, no history, no background - it really is very, very light, truly, couldn't be lighter, and that's really nice. But that was not the case with old paramour. He did not do right and I will not forgive him. I am forcibly putting him into the dustbin with other people (mostly family members) who in my life disappointed me to an extent that I could no longer deal with or ever forgive.

I'm sorry to wax so dark this afternoon. My mood actually isn't so dark, mostly I've been laughing quite a bit today, sort of like the Sally Hawkins character in the Mike Leigh film, Happy Go Lucky, I think it was called. I see a lot of absurdity and it does make me laugh.

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. She died in 1990 at age 58. If my math is correct I guess she would have been 79 yesterday. I felt I should say something about her but to this day I feel so ambivalent about her that it is hard for me. I suppose she "meant well" and she had an enormous burden of pressure and lack of support, etc. And yet. In our culture we're supposed to always wax misty-eyed over our mothers and I cannot ever summon that feeling towards her. We were in constant conflict as I was growing up, and here I am all these years later. I thought the feelings might have resolved into a sort of forgiving nostalgia, but they actually haven't. They've hardened, I'm afraid, against her. I'm not "proud" to say that. It's a very difficult thing to say. It's in my internal monologue a lot, but I rarely express it. I wish things could have been different but they weren't. On a very profound level for me, she made it seem that it was a very bad idea to have children (my father too, communicated that). She (they) had four. I sometimes think I might have enjoyed having one, a daughter especially, but I wonder. It's too late now for me, biologically almost certainly, but also I think I'm just too set in my ways, and too physically fatigued. Or I'd entertain the idea of having a little girl if a lot of physical labor were taken out of it, as in the "good old" wealthy Edwardian days, where I'd be "upstairs" playing with and educating my daughter, while the physical work were taken care of by others. (I was never like that - this really is my physical fatigue talking. That it would be nice to have a child, but so much of the physical effort surrounding it would be too much -)

What do I mean? My parents had four children and they didn't enjoy the experience. All of us suffered, children and adults alike. It's not a blame thing, exactly. It's just that it was so messed up, so unhappy. What if they'd had just one? That would have been me - the eldest. And then I have two brothers, and then my sister, seven years younger than me. I used to have crazy conversations with my mother as I was growing up - "why did you have so many children? do you miss your fifth child"? She'd give me some answer about inadequate birth control "in those days." So they had four. And my parents were miserable together.

I might have been happy with one. Maybe. Honestly - I don't know, in myself. I might be kidding myself. Maybe I was never cut out for it and - well, here I go. You know what feels strange to me? I've never been pregnant, ever, to my knowledge. That just seems like a really huge deal to have missed out on. And I feel ambivalent about that too - maybe I was afraid of that. I overheard a lot of over the fence woman neighbor chats about dreadful pregnancies and labor. I thought, no that's not for me. Also, thinking back while on this abysmal track (so sorry, my dear readers) I had decided around age 10-12, on getting an inkling of "periods" (something my mother never, ever talked to me about in a mother/daughter kind of way). There was some loophole in some literature I'd managed to confiscate (because my mother wanted to keep me even from the fifth grade filmstrip informational for which a permission slip was required, but somehow I found the letter (maybe it had been mailed to the house, rather than brought home by me) and when I found out that she was going to keep me from that I just about threw a fit, and so I did end up attending the mystifying filmstrip in the darkened classroom with a lot of other fifth grade girls, quite a number of them considerably savvier than me. So anyway, there was some reference to how a tiny, tiny percentage of girls are so built or wired or hormoned that they never get their periods. I decided on the spot that I'd be one of them. Which blithely got me out of worrying about the impending whatever-it-was, it bought me a few years. In a seventh grade girls' locker room the vixen cheerleader types jeered at me ("Carrie" style) when they were comparing notes about their periods, and I asked in all innocence - "does it hurt?" Finally sometime in eighth grade I got mine. I had to cope on my own. My mother was no help. She was cooking spaghetti, stirring a big pot in the kitchen when I Came Downstairs With My Big Announcement. My mother didn't even stop stirring the pot. She said, there's Kotex in the linen closet, to which my brothers I think, seated at the kitchen table, started tittering. And I returned upstairs on my own, freaked out at the betrayal of my body, angry at my mother, not really knowing what to do. But especially angry at my mother - because that filmstrip I'd seen in fifth grade. It was all dewy and misty and involved a Mom sitting down with her daughter and putting an arm around her and saying this is your special time and now you're a woman and then I think the mom took her daughter roller skating or something - anyway, there was just all this really nice little special attention in a really nice appealing comforting way. Instead days later, evidently my mother had mentioned to my father that I'd gotten my first period and he and I were pretty much sworn enemies and I swear - he leered at me. (And no, I've never been sexually abused - it's just I think he had some weird cultural thing... anyway.) That first week of my menarche I spent a lot of time sitting in the filled bathtub (for some mysterious reason water inhibits menstrual flow) in order to stop my period. I was miserable, and entirely alone, entirely uncomforted by my mother - who herself, had never had a mother (hers had died in my mother's infancy) and so didn't have this sort of daisy chain of legacy of mother/daughter support to pass down. A week or two of constant bereft sobbing went on, on my part, way past whatever the length of my first period. One day my mother had gone to the Ridgeway Shopping Plaza, to the Gimbel's there, and had bought some towels on sale, pretty ones, pink & white checked with a floral border. For me. A gift, for me, for my period. And you know? I was immensely comforted and cheered up. A few years later I figured out how to use tampons and life got a whole lot better after that!
Autumn in the bayou. Back from an early morning walk at the conservation area. Steam clouds obscure the mountains, tree trunks are black against a field of maize foliage. The weather is tropical and steamy and I was just in my shirtsleeves. Bright cranberry sumac pops in the gray overcast. I had the place to myself except for mysterious rustlings in the thickets and a small memory came to me, did your dog run up to me and startle me once? And possibly, just possibly you quipped something perhaps slightly off-color? I think I was a bit taken aback and forgot all about it til recent days, then I started to remember about the dog, and only this morning, lying in bed, your comment - unless I've made it all up. And of course - it might not even be you. Well, I forgive your comment entirely. And if you were aware of my blog then it's hardly surprising. I can't even put a time when this happened. Was it this spring? The spring before? Speak, memory! (Or you, sometime.)

Last night's post, I hope you liked it but I don't feel satisfied with it. It could have used a bit more editing, but after a bunch of tweaking I simply had to run. The Stella by Starlight version I posted is different from the one I heard on KZE - that one I really was swaying to and imagining dancing to. The spread of leaves under the maples did remind me of dropped skirts - could I not have left it at that?! But you'll forgive me, won't you. Another day to botch another description... I'll give it a try, I promise.

There, I hope this post is SFW for you. I don't even know what a jam band is. Have a wonderful day at the office. Later. XOXO

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I lay in bed this morning slowly waking, savoring an image that we were alone together in a room somewhere. I wore a beautiful long silk dress and you slipped the straps from my shoulders. The gown skimmed down along my body and settled as a pool of iridescent gray-green at my feet. I stood naked before you and you took me in your arms and kissed me the way and in places I love to be kissed.

This afternoon I drove along Route 9, past maples, tall, slender, soignée and ablaze, in various states of lush deshabillée, panties flung, flame-colored skirts dropped, flayed in artfully passionate readiness.

Later as I went about chores, Stella by Starlight came on the radio and I imagined dancing with you. I don't know how to dance, not really but imagine that you do. I wear a slinky dress, and we hold each other close. We inhale, touch, breathe each other in deeply, move together to the intoxicating music.

Thanks, United States.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Late afternoon, gray day, mild, a bit muggy. I feel alternately too warm, on brisk walks outside, and then too cold, bundled in layers indoors. In a reflective mood, or maybe just tired. Phantom lovers. I could use a corporeal one. Alternate universe, I suppose, is what I need to wait for. Or perhaps I'm having a good time there already. I used to. I took my antibiotic. I've been folding a bit of paper between my fingers and twisting it around. I changed out handbags today, pulled out a heavy dark brown leather workhorse. Found two "sugar in the raw" packets at bottom of summer bag. Bought a pumpkin today, and a squash at a farmstand. Was hoping for fresh spinach, but one gets what they have. There was a long-rig truck driver there, beaming, buying himself a bag of fresh apples, marveling at the trusting self-service nature of an off-season farmstand. Delicious quesadillas for lunch, essentially a mixed salad on a tortilla with melted cheese, leftover roast chicken, and black beans with chorizo. Reading Iain McGilchrist's magisterial The Master and his Emissary, whose essential concept (systematically laid out in the course of very nearly 600 pages) has so absolutely the ring of truth about it that I find it electrifying. Basically, that the divided nature of the human brain (right and left hemispheres), and their different functional approaches towards apprehending the world, do a lot to explain the nature of (a) an individual's essentially conflicted nature, and (b) the conflicted nature of the whole of human history (especially Western civilization) up to the present day. Essentially, the Left Brain - the bureaucrat, in a sense - has been whomping, dissing, and seizing the reins from the Right Brain, the loving, intuitive, connecting, metaphorical, letting it be/grow/flow one. The book is chilling and frightening in its dispassionately passionate avowals. The way human evolution seems to be going, the left brain - privileging not so much "reason" as "rationality" (there's a difference, one is in Emersonian terms, "Man Thinking," the other rigid "thought") (that's me, not McGilchrist) - is not only trumping right brain, but pretty much trying to eliminate it. Left brain wants nothing short of complete control & hegemony. Right brain (what used to be God, the very raison d'être in the fullest possible sense of the phrase) is.... the dissenter.

(Have I mentioned that I could use a kiss right about now? Can you tell that I won't be writing book reviews for the New York Review or anywhere else anytime soon? It's okay. XOXO)

Anyway, it's a brilliant book, and I think it explains a great deal in (for example) American history and politics. If I thought that Supreme Court Justices such as Roberts, Alito, and Thomas were actually capable of "thinking" (as opposed to simply cynically (no - even more chillingly, without such benefit of implied irony or reflection) applying their rigid ideologies to court decisions) then I would urge this book on them. I'm afraid they are the examples of inferior Emissaries where we used to have Masters. But I do believe (from what I've glimpsed of him on Charlie Rose) that Justice Breyer would appreciate it, and - well, anyone at all - please at least glance at the book or finer appreciations of it than mine - for a very very nail-on-the-head central organizing metaphor (nay, more than metaphor - jeez, just on a scalar level, the way things are)...

Darlings, dinner tonight will be leftover Sicilian Spicy Chicken, and now it's the gloaming, but I've beaten it to the punch by going about the house a half hour ago putting lamps on here and there in the rooms. Penelope and Rafe are brooding like hens in respective corners of the neglected vegetable beds.

I have a divided brain, right and left, like absolutely everybody else. Maybe I'm a bit more intelligent than average, probably. I'm mostly right-handed, but I can play a few Bach inventions, which involves the left hand. I'm functionally blind in my left eye - my visual perceptions come mostly from my right. My mind reels thinking about "right brain" and "left brain." Which is which, from which perspective.... But I do know this much in myself, I try to cultivate, capture, respect capacities of both sides of myself (indeed a lot more of the subtler aspects), it's not a zero-sum, either/or game.

Perfect song on just now, thank you so much you champions of the "Master" - John Lennon's Across the Universe.

I love you. But I'm serious about the real kisses. What the hell do I have to do?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It took me a while to figure it out, but I made a couple of lists and compared times and ran a regression and - well, Houston's a nice place I spent some time there in the mid-80s, weeks and weeks at a lovely boutique hotel downtown, the Lancaster, where once my boss (whom I liked very much) whispered to me with awe when the elevator doors closed, "That was T. Boone Pickens." I liked coming "home" at night to the beautiful hotel, ordering fillet mignon & wine for dinner, going to some spa or club down the street mornings for exercise. What a life I had! We lost the case though, oh well.

I want to be kissed until I tingle someone croons on Women of Note. Oh no, not me - I am strictly reporting. Okay so you lost your iPhone. I'm thinking you have a chocolate Lab though. But who knows? Or you were in Japan the whole time? I am feeling just ever so slightly crazy this afternoon. Perhaps in a parallel universe an alternate version of me is having a good time. Paraphrasing a line from a wonderful film D & I saw this morning at the film festival, Rabbit Hole. It's a film adaptation of a play that ran at the Manhattan Theatre Club a few years ago. I wasn't aware of it, but seeing the film was like watching a play, in the best sense, I mean, that the characters are closely observed, the story reveals itself in little detonations that one doesn't quite see coming, it's quite intense, very, very credible. I can be quite restless in a movie theatre, but there was just something so assured and masterly yet low-key about the pacing that I felt very carried along with it. Looking up the Times review now of the original play - that must have been a wonderful production. Great Nicole Kidman in the film - isn't she always? Also Dianne Wiest - I love her - and she steals every scene she's in, bless her!

Gray most of the day, with some breaks of sun, quite mild out but chilly in the house. I'm bundled in several layers already - thin camisole, cashmere tee, russet orange long sleeved tee, a black knit/crocheted shawly sweater that I really like, and a dark orange "Columbia" fleece on top of that even here as I type. Before we moved up here I had bought all these cashmere sweater sets at Lord & T. for like 90 percent off in post-Christmas sales. I was saving them up for the longest time - now, in cold weather, I wear them every day in layers, and sleep in the pink cashmere. Isn't that so very pre-French Revolution of me? I seem to recall one of the causes being "land-rich/cash-poor". I have literally loose change in my wallet - but I sleep in cashmere! (Oh lucky me! I'm not complaining. We own the house. I have loose change because I went food shopping and bought lovely things, including discounted good leg quarters for chicken paprikash later this week, and how smart am I to break out the cashmere while I'm still around to completely savor it?)

Sweet violets. What else about Houston? No zoning, I gather. Underground tunnels downtown. I do have some relatives there, transplants. The Menil Museum. I liked the Rothkos. No - that's not right, there's a separate Rothko Chapel museum, isn't there? I liked both. But especially the Rothko chapel, sitting in the center of it looking at all the surrounding paintings, like being in the middle of a merry go round except everything centrifuged at the edges has gone large and still and colorful, it's my mind that moves.

Perhaps in an alternate universe a version of me is having a good time. This isn't so bad. Let me go downstairs and see about transforming half-price shitakes into a beautiful pasta sauce. I hope you're well in whatever version of the universe you're in that you chanced by at minutes after five - thanks you, I caught that kiss.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oh me oh my; who's going to mark my time? Good question. I don't feel as though I have much to report this afternoon but this line from a Robert Plant song on KZE this very moment made me sit up & type. Marking time, as though marks on a prison wall, line line line line cross, line line line line cross. Thank you for beautiful Stella the Artist, Will, KZE. Towels in drier (yes I know, not hung outside to dry). Heavy jeans washer in wash, also drier-bound. Washed my hair this morning and used shampoo and conditioner. I enjoyed D. Browning's piece in the Times about middle-aged women and the cultural proscription against long hair. (I do like her writing in general - except that she's just so darn virtuosic and sorry I just balk at that - but I do like her - why do I feel so ambivalent towards her? And the Ian McGilchrist library hardcover, uncracked, stares at me reproachfully - The Master and His Emissary. No that's not what I mean at all, D's very much on the Good Guy side. How is it she has so many girlfriends and at least one wonderful sister? Perhaps she's a bit of a surrogate imaginary older sister to me, four years older. I am scared of 55, I am a bit, and I never ever relied on my looks. Now I lean on them more heavily, actually like the way I look. (I used to handicap myself crazily, unnecessarily - I so lacked any kind of credible guidance, loving common sense.) Anyway, my hair is on the long side now - not as long as D's, but long for me, and about as long as my hair can be without getting all thin & flat. But I enjoy it so, it is truly a sensual pleasure to have it fall about my face, curl up on my shoulder, be able to pin it up if I like. Ms. Browning says her Madison Avenue hairdresser says to eschew shampoo, just wash with hot water every so often. I'd heard that advice before and a few years ago tried, but gave up, truly my hair seemed lank & dirty after a week - I couldn't bear it. But my hair was shorter at the time, maybe that was the problem.

Big pot of Sicilian Spicy Chicken on the stove, rinsed the capers but not the olives. Went for a walk at the conservation area. All the leaves are falling. But it's mild, today anyway, once the sun came out, in the low 60s, a gift. I baked an openfaced apple pie today, with apples from our tree, each fruit a bit glistening brown at the center, touched perhaps by frost in recent days. Leonard Cohen is on now, Tower of Song. I really like that low, low basso sound, like Tom Waits'. Oh but suddenly his voice is higher - we'll never ever lose it again. And now his voice is lower again - I'm crazy for love. Master, and Emissary. No -

I hope whoever and wherever you all are, whether long hair or short, wrapped up in a wet suit in the ocean, or naked doe-like in a hot shower that you are well happy and full of full of

loving embraces


Friday, October 22, 2010

Surprisingly there was still white cosmos to be had in the flower border, an armful of a felled six foot stalk whose branches I sheared with the surgically sharp scissors they keep at the CSA. When a little girl saw that I was marching to the border she too grabbed scissors and ran ahead - and latent mom gene in me kicked in and told her to be careful with those sharp scissors. But she didn't hear me, she was wrapt, bent over cutting some purple fuschia plumey thing neither of us knows the name of, and she was very impressed with my enormous branches white "daisies," as she called them, and I complemented her on the pretty nosegay she raised her hand to show me. What a delightful little girl. All smiles, innocence, and girlish gap teeth.

My mind cannot let go a riddle and I've been given a good one and it's good and encased now you'd think it'd be rubbed smooth from so much wear and consideration but no it's as intractable and mysterious as ever. It's like a piece of jewelry, a beautiful smooth stone circled with wires of threaded silver. I don't know. E.D. said the best riddles are those you can't solve right away, or words to that effect. Yes - but eventually they give the solution don't they? 10/21 - 0; 10/22 so far - 0. And who's Houston? Do I know you? If it's one of my - well what relation are you? Daughters of my cousin. Am I the great-aunt then? So who are they then, what's the term? Well if it's one of youse - then don't tell your Ma. If it's M - well then, hi. And if it's A - well then.

Oh sweethearts I don't have much today. D & I had a huge dragout fight last night, that Edward Albee could have taken notes from. The day after such a tedious argument I am always numbed out, cold - that "formal feeling." I don't know what to do. I guess I'll sink inexorably like a carp in the mud or whatever the Bovarian metaphor is. Aw, it's okay, I'm not in that bad a mood though, not really. How can I be after all those fresh flowers plus beautiful soft lettuce and tiny new potatoes and gruesomely gnarled sweet potatoes and a bag of MacIntosh and two red onions and a small cauliflower and a head of broccoli and a bunch of broccoli rabe? Plus ice-filled rose in my glass. Oh darn - I forgot to grab my "small handful" of fresh cilantro - that would have been nice, but people were clumped at the corner there and I wondered if my "bowlful" of lettuce, packed by my hand, was more lettuce than they intend me to take - sort of like "packed" brown sugar in a cookie recipe (which I did bake yesterday, by the way, chocolate chip, from scratch - I don't do nothing.)

Saw a wonderful film at the festival yesterday, Another Year, by Mike Leigh. A wonderful, slowly unfolding slice of life film, very low key, you get to know the characters. I instantly recognized a main character as one of the actresses from East Enders, a million years ago now it seems, and indeed she plays a good time girl with a heart of gold who's having a hard time coping with getting older, being on her own. Wonderful performance. She's perpetually on the outside looking in, perpetually on the make when there's a man she's remotely attracted to (no matter how - usually not - appropriate or available), perpetually cheerful, hopeful - laughing through her tears. I felt for her, and it was fascinating to watch her through the film. One is supposed to view her friends, an older Married Forever couple as comfortable with each other and within their lives as a pair of old slippers - and yet I wondered - where's the Worm in the Apple with them? The married relationship was affectionate and workable as an old fortress - but so sexless, apparently. I don't know. Good movie, very truthful - it showed something very very cold and heartless at the center, profound alienations...

Perhaps you're the one who smiled right at me at the supermarket one early morning when I wasn't feeling so hot. And maybe I'd seen you at the park with your dog once before. I think I've ruled out the consultant, though I found myself googling "Ta." Because - who says that? I learned it was from a British WWII-era radio show, plus something some character from a Winnie the Pooh Disney film would utter. No clue really there. Why wouldn't I remember you? Well it is possible. I'm not exactly Borges' Funes the Memorious (repository of everything) though close. I would actually with great alacrity and certainty say that I am just that but I recall about a million years ago when I was a paralegal at a Wall Street law firm, a young paralegal named Kathy insisted, absolutely insisted, that she had worked under me the summer previous, and I had absolutely no recollection of her whatsoever. She did have rather bland, mousey features, but she wasn't so unmemorable (actually I can conjure her thin pinched trim appearance now). She really made quite a big deal of it (in a small way) and I was really embarrassed - I didn't remember her at all. It crossed my mind at the time, and does now, if she wasn't putting me on, but what a weird, gratuitous thing to do. My little Oliver Sacks-ish moment in my life. The paralegal who mistook her coworker for - a brand spankin' new coworker.

Oh Lord. Wherever you are - I hope all's well.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

If I Wrote You

Last night Marshall Crenshaw played a beautiful piece by Bach, a long, continuous, flowing, impassioned line, solo viola. That was viola, wasn't it? Not sharp jagged violin, the sweetly unpretentious song, nor as angled and deeply sonorous as cello. Viola, a lovely instrument, like the lovely modest flower of the same name, feminine, nonnarcissistic, rarely in the spotlight, unshowy so often unnoticed. Not a Narcissus. Before that Audrey put on a lovely Joan Baez song, If I Wrote You. I don't know the song and the words instantly drew me in. I stepped into the solarium and stood in the dim lamplight listening, a woman writes letter after passionate letter in hope of eliciting a like response from her love - though not in the form of a letter. WKZE - c'est moi.

Perhaps it wasn't meetings so much as chance encounters - a fall day, unfamiliar path, glimpse of river, wrong turn, hidden bench, a gentleman, a dog, fluster, gracious offer, polite decline, retreat, path discerned, rejoined.

Dark gray morning, a pall. Downloading the Baez song. Did I hear it right last night? Maybe she does wish for her lover to write again. 10/20 - 0. Où est mon ami?

Last night a film at the festival, Partir, with K. S. Thomas. Was it like Madame Bovary? Perhaps, for our times. No, not quite. Thomas plays an utterly sympathetic character. She is trapped in a loveless marriage to an utter prick (not a word I like to use, but truly her husband seems not to have one redeeming quality but an amalgam of despicable, passive-aggressive weak ones). She falls in love with another man... and the story from there unfolds with precise, unblinkered, bleak inevitability. I relate to her character. It's why I am here, I suppose. A little scene from one of the Real Housewives of New York episodes comes to mind. One of the characters - cheerful, vacuous, vulgar, and loaded with street-smarts (precisely what I lack) - is a determined businesswoman, motivated in no small part, as she explains to her young daughter, by her determination to always have a source of income independent of her husband to whom (as it seems from all appearances on the show at the time) she's happily married. Why? So that if she ever wishes to she is free to leave. She always has the built-in failsafe. And who knows, perhaps it even strengthens the marriage. I think in her case perhaps it does, she's a competitive sparring mate in all matters - her head-on engagement with her life is like her tennis game. Sexy, funny, madcap - but she plays to win. Funny character. I liked her. I couldn't be more different, but I liked her. I could have been raised with more street smarts, but my mother didn't have any herself, so I'm not sure where I should have gotten them from. What would I advise a young daughter? I would say - cultivate it all - the mind and the spirit and the body - be smart and thoughtful and engaged and all the rest - and at the same time? it doesn't hurt one bit to be pretty and graceful and charming as one can be.

Oh good the sun's coming out. Let me get showered & dressed and fully engage with life, not just my fingers typing out my love song on the keys lalalalalalalalala


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seventeen page hits from the UAE this morning. Maybe that really was Cheney the other day. Rabbit hole indeed. Where's Hamlet, the exquisitely ambivalent one, each phrase a perfect contradiction of the last. "We can't ever" (considering what follows) has me reaching for my appointment book. Delicious coffee, saving pie for later. Waking, feeling langorous and luxurious. What to write? D heading over the river to the vet with Rafe. Rafe sleeps against me all night long now. Birds chirp outside the windows. Has the woodpecker finished drilling its nest under the eaves? The jackhammer's been quiet this morning. I have pages and pages of hieroglyphics. This week's, so far: 10/16 - 12:05. 10/17 - 0. 10/18 - 0 (unless 1:25 from L.A. and/or 16:17 from Long Beach). 10/19 - 0. 10/20...

(à la Gombrowicz
Monday: Me.
Tuesday: Me.
Wednesday: Me.
Thursday: Me.

Scraping of pan downstairs. D fixing oatmeal for himself. I'm long bored with it. Contemplating cheese omelet for breakfast. Maybe not if quesadillas for lunch. I enjoyed oatmeal as a girl the way my grandmother made it. I remember it as a bit salty, with a crunch of granulated sugar, warm milk puddling amid islands of oats. Are you the one who crumpled the gallery invite into a ball and pressed it into my hand? I went the next day because it seemed as though I was following a clue and it was all very mysterious, people waiting for someone to appear. And I was stranded and had to go to a complete stranger's house - well, not complete - I knew him but we weren't friends but I was desperate, it was either him or those two down the street but no thanks, not after being being kicked to the curb after election day by that pair of toddlers with their human toys. Ah, whatever, with them. The problem with narcissists is that you - I anyway - don't recognize them til after the fact, after getting mired in their thick ropes of goop. Lovely ceramic vase on my desk, patterned like birch bark, with an expressive spray of dying cosmos. Colors still vivid - pink petals, yellow centers - still supple and green yet shriveled as though electrified. I wish I could take a picture but my birthday camera - hardly two months old - is on its way to Nikon for repairs. Do you write for Law & Order? But I never met you, not that I recall, just talked to you over the phone and you seemed to like the way I sounded and asked me if I was interested in writing something - was that the offer? now I don't recall - but I felt intimidated and anxious and declined. And then you were angry with me because I had to take your name off the rolls - but it wasn't my decision, I wanted to keep you on - I didn't have the authority not to. So silly, looking back, that you couldn't have remained on the list of qualified appellate lawyers, considering the hacks who get elected to office, elected to judgeships! Oh the craziness. I always look for your name on the credits, all through these many years. Yesterday I finally googled your image and was surprised, I had pictured you completely differently. No matter, not at all. I'll let this fly for now, perhaps I'll post later, perhaps not - movie this evening, so no posting tonight. Good morning, sweet princes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Message from Belle to J.P., 18 October 2010
Wondering where you've been - missing you looking in on my blog, the post with your Emily...

I hope everything's okay with you. I wanted to mention again how much I enjoyed your beautiful poems. It's funny, that night (in the wee hours of Monday morning) your Ofelia poem fused with an image of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes that I had seen a few days previously in connection with Hughes' poem, The Last Letter, about Sylvia's suicide - published for the first time in the last couple of weeks - that (evidently) was haunting me. I was in my friends' Brooklyn apartment and got up and in all my grogginess jotted down a few notes, that is thoughts, that formed in my head. I'm looking them over this morning, perhaps to post, perhaps not. I balk at the "prince of shadows" - I had woven in very much your phrase. Anyway, here are the words I jotted down that night:
clock ticks
water drips
I lie awake under a thin sheet
no blanket
I was Ophelia to his Prince of Shadows
Sylvia beams at the baby while
Ted smirks at the camera (who took the picture?)
he holds the baby, but that's not his focus
I guess Sylvia was an Ophelia too
and Ted the Prince of Shadows, already gone
I hope all is well with you. Thanks again for your beautiful poems (along with the haunting story of the fascinating Finnish poet, whose link you provided I did look up...)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Five-thirty, light mellowing like brandied apples meandering nosily through my bookshelves. (There. Did I paraphrase that enough?) Comfort me with fettuccine. No, that was the other day when I was playing mother to myself. Hello darlings, welcome to another installment of I've unloaded the dishwasher, folded and hung laundry, made couscous, threw broccoli in a pot, let in cats, and made sure food was on their plates. Now what?

My mind/brain will not let go of a riddle. I worry it like a tangled skein of worsted, trying to find the end. Of leading theories, the one that fits best is the most improbable, chance encounters at holiday get-togethers, same holiday many years apart, under very different circumstances. But that makes no sense. I remember, though not clearly. (I could have made such an impression? That's what feels improbable.) The other involves a pleasant branch desk, the offer of a fresh Vogue that had just come in. But that doesn't fit the clues because we've met many times (though not recently) at checkout or whenever I forgot my password.

Behind me on a little mat on the floor Penelope is sweetly snoring, KZE is rocking downstairs. Have been reading Lyndall Gordon's epilepsy-theorizing chapter of Lives Like Loaded Guns, very slowly, turning back to her notes, looking up the Dickinson poems and letters she cites, which is quite a wonderful, slow-motion, revelatory if painstaking way to read. I'm completely withholding judgment - at the moment anyway - as to whether or not E.D. was a "little bit" epileptic, that is - as with pregnancy - epileptic at all. Either she was - or she wasn't, would that be fair to say? Or perhaps not. What do I know of epilepsy. Next to nothing. My cat used to have it - the symptoms anyway - now she doesn't.

Gordon really could have used a better editor on this chapter, I'll say that. The chapter is entitled "Snarl in the Brain," a phrase poetically suggestive of (perhaps)- and as Gordon would wish (certainly) - epilepsy. The phrase comes from E.D.'s letter 281 from late May 1863, according to the page-by-page source notes at the end of the book.

L281 To [E.D.'s cousins] Louise & Frances Norcross
“I said I should come “in a day.” Emily never fails except for a cause; that you know, dear Loo.

The nights turned hot, when Vinnie had gone, and I must keep no window raised for fear of prowling “booger,” and I must shut my door for fear front door slide open on me at the “dead of night,” and I must keep “gas” burning to light the danger up, so I could distinguish it – these gave me a snarl in the brain which don’t unravel yet, and that old nail in my breast pricked me; these dear, were my cause. Truth is so best of all I wanted you to know. Vinnie will tell of her visit…”
I don't know. That ole snarl in the brain sounds more like a panic or anxiety attack on being left alone, it seems to me. (I leave it to "academic biographers" to determine why caretaking sister Vinnie had left E.D. unattended for whatever reason & length of time.)

Okay, so no evidence there of epilepsy. But leaving that whole question aside, what a very odd, funny letter. I mean it's written by a 33-year old woman, who's incredibly literate, well-read, brilliant. And it reads as though it's the monologue of a toothless hillbilly Ma, "loaded gun" at the ready, spittin' 'baccy off the side of the porch. Is E.D. having her cousins on in this letter? That ain't no cryptic modernist poetry. The woman was a ham!

Don't make me shut off comments because I just put forward a radical, unpopular view. On the other hand if it's to send me kisses, then by all means. I'll be checking miscellaneous accounts a bit more often.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Late afternoon, so beautiful out. It's been a strange week and at the moment I feel I've been through the wringer, a bit. Not in a bad way. I don't know. I'm feeling tired at the moment, I meant to lie down but a pressing, engaging & delightful correspondence kept me going in the afternoon. I'm totally rambling. This whole week felt like one missed connection or misfired synapse or "thing that wasn't meant to be" or wrong turn after another. This morning was no exception. I dreamt overnight, vivid dreams, I was being fêted (ha!) for some unrecognized something - oh anyway. That's all I recall. What I mean is (can you tell I'm tired - and no, it's not the rosé - not yet) I rolled out of bed around 7:30 and thought - I have missed the entire Chatham Film Festival, between nor'easters and Lyme disease and all kinds of other small and large snafus. I remembered that there was a Nicole Kidman film that was supposed to play at nine this morning - called Rabbit Hole. (My mood exactly.) I googled it, glimpsed enough of the headlines to wish instantly to pounce - words along the lines of sublime, perfect, best, etc. D was utterly incredulous that I wanted to fly out of the house so quickly.

We got it together and I dropped him off in town at 8:25 and flew miles along Route 66 to the village of Chatham. I parked in the small, oddly empty village parking lot. I know the drill by now, having to buy the film festival ticket in advance, at the town hall. A dead ringer for Dick Cheney (same age, look, friendly eye contact, crooked smile, Wyoming wear) smiled at me. I headed up the town hall steps - the doors were locked. Okay, so then I crossed the village main street and walked along the closed shops. The village was just waking up, in a Sunday way. A family disembarked a vehicle for breakfast. Who's hungry? rhetorically asks blustery Dad, gamely rousing his nuclear family; two childish squeals in response, me, me!, as the wife follows behind. Across the street I stood outside the theatre - dark. It wasn't so Twilight Zoney so much as - I thought the film festival was still on, ending today. What day is it? I couldn't for the life of me remember the calendar date today. I felt as though I myself had fallen down a Rabbit Hole, pretty much as I've been feeling on & off all week. Finally I asked a tall good-looking expensive weekender type wandering out of someplace wielding a fat Sunday Times. Even that didn't go straight. Is the film festival this weekend? He nodded - coming weekend. (But it's the weekend now!) Not today? No. I guess I had never taken mind of the calendar dates, only had erroneously (for weeks now) thought of it as "the weekend after we go to Brooklyn."

Make lemonade.... Well okay. The morning was spectacular. I was Up & Running bright & early, there was fresh-baked bread to be had at the lovely bakery, a beautiful drive back, I wouldn't have to eat cold Chinese food for breakfast in a dark theatre -- all kinds of things to celebrate! And when I called D from home to tell him that I'd been mistaken he couldn't have been nicer about it - maybe we were both happy that the morning had taken off on an unexpected yet serendipitous turn.

Nice dress rehearsal for attending the festival - next weekend. I'm so glad I didn't miss it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kind Hearts & Coroners

Up in the aerie, five-thirty in the afternoon, west-facing room bathed in gorgeous mellow light. I just got back from picking up D from Warren Street and he's taken the car and gone back into town for a couple of hours.
Pick me up whenever, five, six.
I'll come by so that I'm home around five, my usual time to blog.
Blogging - what a euphemism.
Euphemism? For what?
Blogging - Old English for sipping rosé.
Yeah, but some writing gets done too, or started, sometimes polished in the wee hours, such as early this morning, between about three and four. And despite that I felt physically fantastic today. Rick had an awesome guitar player in the KZE studio yesterday that I listened to until the power cut out. How are you, asked David Grier (ibid). Rick replied: Fantastic. And only more so to be here with you.

And that's how I've felt all day long today. Full of energy and high spirits and loving the weather and running around and shopping and cooking. I've got an enormous pot of curried chicken on the stove, made with aromatic hot curry powder from Two for the Pot in Brooklyn, along with vegetables from yesterday's CSA farm visit - cauliflower, peppers, plum tomato, braising greens - and others too - sliced white onion, green beans, and carrot - stewing in beautiful defrosted homemade chicken stock, all of which we'll have heaped over basmati rice and sprinkled with some fresh CSA cilantro.

I took a long walk around here this morning while chicken was roasting in the oven, along with an apple pie I made. D beat me back home - and the pie juices had spilled over, smoking up the downstairs. Of course he complained he'd just painted the kitchen. It'll be all right. He opened the windows and turned the ceiling fans on high. I hadn't been gone very long. The pie was fine before I left the house and a wash that I'd started was still on the final cycle. That was my Law & Order-type defense. It's not as though I had wantonly abandoned the house for hours all systems in chaos - you see, I can prove the timeline, the towels are in the final spin which proves I was gone no more than 35 minutes.

Ah election season ye olde crazy neck of the woods. Placards all over the place for (I'm purposely garbling the name to prevent googlings, but keeping in the spirit of its length and syllabilization) Debbie Blazi-Sopritomayor. The name is a mouthful, but who cares, whatever, but it's what she's so earnestly running for that's puzzling - 3rd Coroner. How many coroners does Columbia County need? Is anyone running for 1st and/or 2nd Coroner? Why is a position such as coroner an elective office anyway? (We hardly wonder about that anymore since Town Justices, who are elected, don't even need law degrees to mete out justice that can wreak complete Dickensian havoc on one's life.)

On the ride back home this afternoon D and I remarked on the Debbie for 3d Coroner signs we passed. We imagined her as a character on a Law & Order type series. Janeane Garofalo plays her. She arrives at a crime scene, grim, messy hair tied back, no make-up, in the middle of the night, rumpled trenchcoat. She flashes her creds unsmilingly. Debbie Blazi-Sopritomayor, 3rd Coroner she says. (Cue Law & Order duh-thunk.) Oh, but cool - she's on an actual case - at long last. Because how often can a 3rd coroner possibly be called upon in a largely rural county with a relatively small population? (Though the possibility of a disproportionately high number of deaths may indeed lend itself to the need for not one but two backup coroners.)

I picture the Janeane Garofalo 3rd Coroner character toiling away like an undiscovered understudy for years on end, sorting index cards, reviewing the 1st and 2d coroners' reports, forming alternate opinions of her own. Finally, one night 1st coroner gets the flu, 2d coroner's in Las Vegas at a coroner's convention, and Janeane's moment has arrived. The phone rings. The penny drops. She understands. The suggestion of a grim smile crosses her face. She pulls on her trenchcoat and leaves the bleak upstairs garage office. She climbs in her Subaru. Deer are caught in her headlights and scatter as she pulls out of the driveway. Cue Law & Order duh-thunk again.

A fresh laid egg from a free-ranging chicken in a semi-rural setting never killed anyone, she says to her cat later that night as she types up her report. It may have been salmonella poisoning - but judging from all the fastfood wrappers and half-eaten burgers around the place - it was probably from an industrial food source. Those damn stupid lawn mower tractors and insecticides poured over lawns, that's another story. There now, what's that icky little hard bump in your fur, sweetheart?

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Moment Changes Everything

Just the quickest post for tonight. The power came back on just as I was trying to pick out David Gray's A Moment Changes Everything on the piano. I am just trying to catch the butterflies here. Last night, mostly insomnia the horrible wakeful night. Kept getting up, creaking bedroom door closed (waking D and stirring cats of course), in chill & semi-fever to obsessively check stats and whatever else. It was a bad night. So wakeful, returned to bed only to find 500 pound duvet cover shifted over to my end because it was too hot for D - but my God I'm in a fever myself it's too hot for me and too heavy. Finally towards dawn D got up and went downstairs to feed the cats and make coffee and I managed to fall asleep and my fever broke and the heavy cover was soaking wet. Overnight each time a cat had come to greet me I petted each and greeted and loved on them - and noted a suspicious "it" in Gwynnie's fur. This morning, from bed, I asked D to check the cats for ticks. (I'm very squeamish.) Have I mentioned that D has in recent days referred to himself as my P.A.? I am a bit of an a** - but what am I to do? I can't suddenly summon energy and become a - well, what? This is what I do, wait around for the power to come on, then a while longer for the computer to decide it's ready - and then, when I'm on the brink of exhaustion, I - not exactly - pounce.

The power went out around 4:30 this afternoon. I had spent the better part of the day in bed, in PJ's, making it a sick day already (homebound as I am, but - no walk). I woke up in soaked sheets and went about the morning doing laundry, remaking the bed. I was trying to exhort myself to be all Ruth about it - bake apples, light a fire, make hot tea - but it was all I could do to just keep going through my paces in my pink cashmere & cotton cobbled together set.

Our neighbor's out of town, with a housesitter taking care of (de-dogging the house) the dogs & chickens. I miss those chickens all over our garden. The cats didn't have ticks all summer, what with all the chickens. I think I may have Lyme disease again because two or three weeks ago complete f***ing ass*h of stupid other neighbor objected to chickens freeranging over his manicured lawn. In all his pasty overweight horribleness after "the operation" he rides his stupid tractor mower around his stupid, stupid lawn as if this were the suburbs.

Neighbor's chickens, besides laying fantastic eggs, are champion tick and all kinds of other bug else eaters. I miss them. I want them back. Why should stupid lawnmowing neighbor prevail on this one? But they're not my chickens - and neighbor owner of chickens picks her battles.

Spent most of today just getting over the breaking of fever, tentative recovery, missing brisk walk with weights two days in a row. Yesterday at the doctor's office my b.p. was fine but my weight, after all my steady applying myself was still a high number that might have elicited a stricken look on Oprah or much of anyone. It made me feel that I'm in denial about myself.

So today was a "sick day." True, it was grey and wet out. In the afternoon I lay in bed with the new 1.5 readers (package of 3) I'd gotten at Century 21 over the weekend, reading from the Emily Dickinson Selected Letters. I never know where to start with her. The times I pick up the book I don't feel like starting at the beginning and reading her childhood letters. So I open the book at random and notice how very "selected" the letters are, big number gaps between -- I really would like ready access to the "complete."

Can I say after waking up in soaked covers and then washing the linens and making up a fresh bed - how wonderful it is, when one is feeling under the weather, to slip between smooth sheets into a perfectly ordered clean sweet bed?

(I was my own mother - all that was missing was childhood sickbed ginger ale...)

After all that napping & dozing and lounging, I was just about ready to face the world again. We had the privilege of picking up neighbor's CSA farm share, and neighbor's housesitter (with whom D checked) didn't feel like going. I'll go for the ride in my PJ's if she doesn't want to, is what I said.

I was still in all-pink tops but threw on jeans in lieu of bad pink cotton bottoms.

I thought you were going to wear your PJs, said D.

I want to keep my options open. Maybe I'll want to go in with you into the barn and look over the produce, so I know what I'm cooking tonight.

Can I tell you once again how incredibly fortifying, revivifying it is for me to step along the border, at the CSA farm, to snip flowers - armfuls of them. I can be greedy now - it's truly the end of the season.

However ill & under the weather & wondering how many enemies I've made since my last post (or week's worth) - I felt completely, completely restored.

(I have a lot of complicated feelings & impressions from today. A woman I briefly once met, apparently is now dead. I have no idea the story. But I'm aware of her name, from someone who I know cared very much for her, who (I pause as I type) I don't know, and yet is weirdly in my circle - )

I came back from the CSA with bags of vegetables, and an armload of flowers, and my "convalescence" proceeded with amazing joy & alacrity as I sorted out the veg, and put together chicken to roast (lemon, garlic, thyme), and sorted through all the flowers, zinnias in a jar, pink cosmos in a crystal vase for the upstairs bedroom, white cosmos in a grey jug from Mexico that I had to wash the dust off.

And just like that - the power went out. The stereo died, the lights flickered off, the fridge stopped humming. Silence. Outside the windows trees moved in strong wind, rain lashing.

For sure, I'm no Chilean coal miner (tipping my hat) but it was a shock for wuss me to be without power right about when I was about to go upstairs to blog to - to whom, exactly?

The power outage lingered longer than my kitchen food & meal prep, and I like the idea of keeping my blood pressure low so I wasn't about to get all upset - OMG it's five and no computer!

When the power went out it was light out but now it getting dark and I thought - ah I should scrounge around for candles - so I did, and lit the few I found, placing them here & there.

But how to entertain myself without the computer? I rediscovered the Steinway in the dining room in which a stacked set of cardboarded bathtubs also resides on the ancient pine floor.

Gloaming settled admist sparse candlelight and I played the piano, a couple of Bach inventions (motor memory from the last 40 years), plus favorite songs that I could think of from KZE. I cracked myself up trying to bang out Stella the Artist - "no need to be modest, for right now at least..."). Theme song from Tootsie (a non-KZE favorite) -- I imagined Matt the Electrician singing that. A.A. Bondy songs - I've seen him (online) give one man concerts - I was able to sort of channel him. And with a change of key, higher, Alison Krauss. Broken Bird by Alison Moorer, and then a song by Meg Hutchinson ("so hard to change").

At one point as I sat at the piano I heard scratching and saw Penelope haul herself out from a hole on the side of a bathtub carton, Claire looking at her aghast.

... when a moment changes everything... come on come on come on come on...

I didn't think I'd be able to work that out. I stood at the piano, right hand at the keyboard beginning to pick out the notes - and at that very moment - come on - the power came back on. Ha ha!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The good news is that my blood pressure's normal.

The bad news is that I have Lyme disease, for a second time. (I first contracted it a year and a half ago.) But I've taken care of it as quickly as I could - within two days of discovering the welt on my arm - and went to the doctor this morning. No, I was never aware of being visited, let alone bitten by a tick. The doctor confirmed (for $141) that indeed it's the classic bull's eye rash and put me on a 21-day regimen of antibiotics that I've already begun to take. I have a mild temperature and flu-like aches & pains - and yet I'm still hoping to go to Amherst, though I don't know. Ah, I certainly don't mean to keep anyone in tedious suspense (self & D included) about that. Bummer though. Probably I should stay home. Or maybe if I make myself some cups of hot lemon tea...

Back with steaming cup of hot lemon tea, must put honey on the list.

There was the most beautiful fog this morning. Now it's sun, and later it's supposed to rain.

5:30. Not going to Amherst. Pouring rain out, I'm feeling physically better but didn't have a good day (between pricey L.D. diagnosis, new camera malfunctioning, Firefox crashing - and so forth).

I'm sorry I couldn't get to hear Lyndall Gordon tonight. Among other things I was interested in how she presents herself and responds to critics who accuse her of inaccuracies (nay - "falsehoods," "sensationalizing," "sentimentalizing," etc.) Shades of a witch hunt. Dusting off my Shirley Jackson.

I had issues (in my own reading) with a paper that a Dickinson scholar, Margaret H. Freeman, posted on the Secret Life of Emily Dickinson page over the weekend. It has since been clarified that the professor's piece is excerpted from a much longer "white" paper, which presumably more fully explicates her argument (I have not seen a link to it, however, unless I'm missing it).

I typed a bit of a rant this afternoon, but though I was typing fast & furious just to get it down I didn't want to post it, didn't wish to have a semblance of the same tone that I had issues with. So I'll just touch on a couple of points.

I don't believe that Gordon, despite her credentials, intended to write a pedantic "academic" biography. And indeed she did not. She wrote a highly engaging one, and unless someone wishes to challenge her documented footnotes - she has an argument to make. One might not agree with her conclusions - but like a legal brief, she makes a case. I would not rely exclusively on Gordon's account to reach an understanding of Dickinson. But Gordon does shine a light on facets of her fascinating subject that have not been considered before.

To mention another small example of issues I had with Freeman's piece, the professor writes:
Dickinson once wrote: "The Biography of the Blossom might perhaps endear it --" (L786). I follow Dickinson in believing biography should be written to enrich our understanding in such a way that we are "endeared" to its subject in appreciating the human joys and sorrow, failures and achievements, that make the life of such a subject (both poet and poem) worth contemplating and reading about.
I looked up Dickinson's letter. It's easily googleable; it's #789, not 786, but no matter. More to the point, in my reading of her text (annotated by Johnson), Dickinson never placed any edict whatever, let alone a narrowly prescribed one, on the function of Biography. Johnson writes that ED enclosed a posy in a piece of correspondence, the meaning of which might have been lost on the recipient - so ED uses the word "biography" metaphorically - that is, she tells the little story surrounding this particular bloom, so that its meaning would be instantly and powerfully illuminated to the recipient - whose mother had sent it to E.D.

I do believe that Gordon's biography (among others I have read in recent months, no one of which I rely on exclusively) enriched my understanding. I do not read any biography - let alone one of Dickinson - with any expectation or desire to be cozily "endeared" to a subject. A subject may in fact be quixotic, contradictory, infuriating, inconsistent, confusing, forever enigmatic. It is up to the biographer to reveal aspects such as these.

Whatever the controversies surrounding it, I found Gordon's biography worth reading and contemplating. If there is indeed a substantial pattern of significant errors of fact that cause Gordon's conclusions as a whole to be invalid, then I believe it is the duty of an "academic" scholar to systematically and dispassionately critique it. The ability to do so is clearly beyond the purview of the lay reader.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Very between things today. Feeling under the weather, quite ill actually, physically out of sorts, and there's a mysterious red welt on my arm. I wonder if I'm having a recurrence of Lyme disease. And yet the welt seems to be fading as quickly as it appeared, so perhaps it's a different kind of insect bite. But when did I get stung? I wasn't aware. Surely not at the beach on Sunday, when I was wearing a sweater.

Write from where you are. At the moment, up in the aerie in clear late afternoon light. Elvis Presley is belting it out on the stereo (KZE) downstairs. My fingers are typing. I have an icefilled glass of rose, readers on my nose. I think of my grandmother, many many years ago, in her beautiful attic apartment at my cousins' house in a leafy Jersey suburb. Once in a while I'd spend a weekend or a week there and if I wasn't in one of the twin beds at opposite walls in my cousin M's room (we'd keep each other up telling stories, giving each other pop quizzes, whatever - talking, talking, talking until one of us drifted off) I'd creep up the steep, narrow, carpeted stairs to the magical aerie, my grandmother's room. Or maybe - more likely - I'd bound up there in the morning, and in my insouciant, insensitive exuberance probably thought nothing of getting her up sooner than she would have liked. I'd crawl into her narrow bed with her (my grandfather had died of cancer after a long convalescence on the twin bed at the opposite wall - hardly more than cots, both those beds, as I perhaps faultily recall).

My grandmother wanted to sleep more and I liked to lie against her, but I was 6 or 8 or 10 - I was awake and rarin' to go. My grandmother, perhaps in her late 50's or 60s at that point, would groan awake, and slowly sit up, eyes closed, moaning to herself, wszystko mi boli, wszystko mi boli. Everything hurts, everything hurts - and I can well believe (now) that every muscle every cell in her body was in pain. But I couldn't relate at all then, to her pain - I felt fine. I believe I wanted to relate though - but just couldn't. (My mother asked me once when I was a girl - don't you need slippers, don't your feet hurt without them? Why no Ma, not at all. Now, forty-plus years later I can't go without well-cushioned shoes on my feet in the house.)

My grandmother had enormous breasts and (as a little girl I sat by her on her cot as she woke, vanished to the little bath, and emerged washed to pull on her clothes) I was fascinated by both her pendulous breasts (on such a petite body) and the machinery of her brassiere. I am fairly large-breasted myself, though not as large as her. I am braless at the moment, sitting up here in the beautiful light as I type. Oh but it's chilly - so no more nudity for me til next summer - at the moment I've got on two t-shirts, and a cashmere sweater set - all pink, the layers all mixed up.

The other in-between thing is that I'd like to go to the talk in Amherst tomorrow but am not sure I'll be able to. All sorts of things - will I have the car, will there be money for gas, will D come along, will I go myself - it's a long drive - could I do it? I picture the chapel at Amherst where the talk will take place and imagine that it will cozily remind me of my college days on a beautiful campus. I don't know if it will happen - I will be surprised if it does - or doesn't.

Someone's shooting a rifle in the distance; closer by - on the downstairs stereo - jazz piano and trumpet on KZE. Strange trio!

The images are from D's and my beach walk at Jacob Riis Park on Sunday, on which we found a few conch and other shells, which I've since put on display on the little wall fountain in the solarium.

Kisses, all. Hope all's well. Love you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back from the city, ensconced at home, happy to be back but tired, allergies maybe. I didn't have as good a time as usual in Brooklyn. I felt constrained, the apartment small, too small for the two of us, what to blog, and when. We went for a long walk on the beach and picked up small, beautiful conch shells, each different from the last, with fibonacci swirls, ruffles and stripes, variegated as the zinnias at the farm. We argued over money: going out for lobster rolls meant walnuts or feta at Sahadi's - but not both - without even getting into goat cheese. But all was not lost, he tries, he does, he got me La Vielle Ferme and there was enough for my favorite camembert and on the drive back when I lamented that we were returning to the country without bread he veered off the West Side Highway and hightailed it to Balthazaar (engine threatening to overheat - the car, like us, doesn't like stop/go city driving) where there was ciabatta to be had so I got one sliced to freeze, and another whole, and two tiny sample slices of chocolate bread, one which I ate on the spot and the other that melted in my fingers as I returned to Prince Street and handed it to him through the car window. Last night he invited me to sleep in the bed again, not that I ever told you not to he said. So I did, and dreamt some, of people in Oxford sweatshirts, Americans I think, and an old man who looked like Peter O'Toole who insisted on making love to me outdoors on the grass by a long banquet table, lots of people around. I said it isn't right, and he said it doesn't matter, he was quite insistent and it didn't seem as though (as in Puttenham) anybody minded and it did feel good. In Brooklyn, with all the fretting over money, wherefore almonds or olives, baba ghannoush or chorizo, herbes de provence or the Henry Hudson Bridge ($3.00), I burst into tears at the sink, remembering two photos that now aligned in my mind. One, from a couple of years ago when my old paramour and I first started corresponding - he'd sent me a recent image of himself standing next to a woman at some book-signing. To my horror and dismay - and I'm not such a prude - they're both beaming straight at the camera (the woman a bit maniacally, he rather drily) and clearly visible in his trousers he's utterly tumescent - towards the woman. The other day on our friends' high-speed Mac I googled my brother, which I haven't done in a while. There were numerous images of him and his new wife at various social events - photos taken by a celebrity-circuit photographer who roams the scene and sells to les nouveaux riches images of themselves. In one thumbnail taken at a toney party the couple poses for the camera and it's clear from the drape of his sportsjacket that my brother is at that moment flagrantly aroused by his leggy, long-haired mermaid-like wife. (Such suggestive images, in questionable taste, seem like overt and bidden signs of arrogance (schoolboyish - but the opposite of the schoolboy's predicament in which an unbidden public erection is a distressing exigency at that age to flush crimson about) - are they a new-social-code subgenre in the sport of vanity photographers and their ever-preening prey?)

At the time old paramour sent me the photo I cropped out the woman and everything below his shoulders so that all that remained, decorously and in a way I could handle, was an innocent headshot. Why would I want to see her, and especially his arousal that wasn't for me? (As I wrote to him at the time: "... that woman and whoever took the picture are gone!").

And so yesterday as I sobbed foolishly at the sink I thought of these two ridiculous photographs - and thought - where's the man straining uncontrollably for me? Figuratively I mean. No - literally. Though the photos I can do without.

Kisses all, I promise to be more good - later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10/10/10 dream journal

Dreams last night. I go into the master bedroom. It's my birthday and there are a few presents for me on the dresser, including a couple of large envelopes marked with my name. I carry the packages into the other room. My niece, a little girl, curiosity piqued, follows me, hoping there's something in it for her. I get annoyed because that's the only reason she's interested. I tell her to get lost. She bursts into tears and I feel bad. I crouch down, put my arms around her and tell her I'm sorry, that I was having a bad day, something I'm sure she can understand. She nods yes, and I hold her tight.

I run into Christopher Benfey and tell him that I'd like to attend the talk in Amherst. I'm a little self-conscious - I don't want him to think that I'm going only for the wrong reason - to witness a smackdown. What do you think of the piece on the board, I ask. He smiles at me over his shoulder, friendly flicker of raised brow, suppressed eyeroll. I know, me neither, I reply. If I'd turned in an essay like that you'd have given me a C minus!

The cats are pouncing over the unmowed lawn, capturing and killing gray mice, I'm horrified at the tiny corpses strewn all over the driveway...

So I'm back to dreaming. It's been a while. For the last couple of years I've faithfully recorded the ones I remember when I wake (yes, I am the kind of person who writes down her dreams!) - but it's been a couple of weeks.

Ruth has an iPhone and goes out for bagels in the morning, but surely not before dawn, not at 4:08. Besides, she's upstate isn't she - not in the Bronx Friday evening (well maybe - on her way up), but surely not in Brooklyn at the very moment yesterday afternoon that I sat down at the computer after getting back to the apartment? (No - she was giving a luncheon talk in Hudson.) More to the point, I don't think Ruth would be that into my blog. Plus I keep thinking it's a guy (unlike Houston who I think is a woman, unless it's a Bush). Of course, iPhones are popular. It could be two or three different users. Except that I don't have so many readers, I keep thinking the iPhone is just one guy - this weekend Man About Town. Not Ruth - and please no, not R. Bourdain. Tony I'll accept though - Tony, is that you?

I have had such a hankering for a lobster roll, ever since walking over the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in sparkling weather that just made me wish to go to the sea. I contemplated taking a daytrip today to Noank, Connecticut, to Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, a shack with tables overlooking the ocean - beautiful - but so far away. Why go there when we're in a weekend in New York? Then I thought about driving out to the other Greenport, on the North Fork of Long Island, a walk along the beach at Orient, lobster roll in town. Back at the apartment I googled brooklyn lobster roll - there's a place right in Red Hook (the other Red Hook) where you can get one either "Connecticut-style," warm and on a buttered bun, or Maine style, in a cold mayonnaise. One of each I think, and we'll share.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beautiful sunny morning in Brooklyn. I raised the window and looked out, letting in the cool air, refreshing on my skin. The cedar deodoras are beautiful and survived last month's tornado, our friends reporting that they had bent and swayed at swooping pitch "like flags." They're very flexible, trunks and cantilevered branches. I believe they originate from the foothills of the Himalayas, which I imagine is quite a windswept place.

Survived all the housecleaning, and am thrilled that I managed to get in a few little extras that will make our house seem more like a country B&B for our weekending friends (they're in our house while we're in their apartment). I baked a pair of rustic fruit tarts, one for them and one to take down with us. I thought it was nectarines that I had pulled out of the freezer, but just had a slice with my coffee - no, it was plums, but whichever - so delicious, acerbic fresh fruit hinted with lemon zest and cinammon, buttery, satisfying crumbly crust.

I was fortunate to be able to pick up our neighbor's CSA (community supported agriculture) weekly share at the farm yesterday, and the best part was snipping flowers from the cutting border - possibly the very last blooms for the year, as I believe frost is expected this weekend. I was tired and a little stressed out from trying to get all the housework done, and I instantly felt freed and happy and able to exhale and relax just to step along the border with my glass of water, snip a bloom here, another there. It changed my head and I came home feeling relaxed and refreshed and happy. And thrilled that I could put beautiful flowers all around the house: on the hearth in the living room, airy floats of pink cosmos in an earthenware jug; dark red zinnias paired with purple salvia in a crystal vase on the bedroom dresser; long, livid magenta plumes of something, placed in the lovely pale green art nouveau vase (a gift from our friends) on the sideboard; a mustard jar of yellow zinnias and feathery spikes of lavender on the kitchen table; and on the windowsill above the sink, a tiny cobalt blue bottle sporting a spritely zinnia and miniature companion grape salvia. All the flowers throughout the house, every few steps a fresh delightful display, ought to be a nice distraction from the deficiencies of the ever-unfinished fixerupper. Also - it felt really good to be able to provide more than just the basics, clean house, fresh linens - but beautiful grace notes too, the touches that make things special. Arranging them - putting together the fruit pastry, snipping the flowers and placing them in all the containers of sugar water - pleased me greatly, at least as much as I'm sure they will have delighted our friends.