Saturday, April 30, 2011

My dearest Prince Albert - boxers - briefs - or pantaloons with nothing underneath? You know, I really don't know that about you. Though I'm reminded of a tiny memory I have, Xmas shopping with your wife at a mall, many many years ago. She selected a pair of pajamas for you, the very type that her father would wear, mine too, surely too "old" for you, all of us then in - what - our early thirties? I don't recall the design offhand - two-piece flannel plaid perhaps, in a package - but vividly remember thinking, much too old. I wonder if I said anything, if I did it must have been, at most, offhand & gingerly. The pajamas got bought, I'm sure of it.

My dear love, sitting up here in the aerie feeling half-collapsed with exhaustion that's just now swept over me. I did have a busy day, between a workout and a walk, standing on my feet slicing and dicing, and before settling down up here, giving the entire house a once-over with the vacuum cleaner, including the stairs, which usually I leave for D because the vacuum's a little too heavy and awkward for me, but I had a burst of energy, though then flagged, and only dropped the machine - accidentally down the stairs - once. The handle snapped off, but it seems like the machine's failsafe, like airbags in a car, because I was able to readily pop each side back on. I'm glad I didn't break the thing. But the stair runner absolutely needs to be replaced, I love the fabric, but it's all coming out of its tacks, pulling away from the risers. An eyesore, trip hazard, and embarrassment. I have never viewed myself as living "this way."

Gorgeous today, the world becomes greener by the day, maybe by the hour even. Maples are leafing out, it seems a trifle early but maybe not, and I'm certainly not complaining. Saplings we (D) planted the first couple of years here are bigger this year, finally almost, just almost taking off - still spindly, but very tall, like gangly teenage boys at that stage where their voices are breaking. I'm just glad that they're increasing in height, that they're taller than me, and one day I hope they'll be in good scalar proportion to the house - that is, that the trees will be much taller than the house, which will then feel nestled in a landscape of green pleasant shade.

On my walks around here I pass a house that is so beautifully situated on its property that I marvel. It is set back far from the road, surrounded by mature, sweepingly high trees, including pines and a willow. The trees are so graceful and tall, that the house so far back reminds me of a doll house - it is the loveliest effect, the entire composition together. I like that relation of tree:house, the former much taller than the latter. Which is the goal here, at this house, but it will be a while... but cedar deodoras planted in 1990 in Brooklyn are now taller than the brownstones - amazing!

Looking forward to dinner. The slicing & dicing was of vegetables. As part of my re-entry back to my life here, I perused the vegetable bins in the fridge and saw that there was a miscellany to get to - what to make? I decided - caponata, a kind of Sicilian ratatouille of onion, eggplant, plum tomato, red wine vinegar with a bit of sugar dissolved in it, capers and olives (blanched to remove aggressive saltiness), plus diced zucchini since I had it. The vegetables mostly are cooked separately, then folded together and tossed with the red-wine vinegar dressing & salty condiments - I really like it spooned on plainly sauteed white fish, on a bed of rice. So that's what we'll have. I logged off earlier and "dialed up" D on his cell on his job somewhere north of here and asked him to stop by the supermarket on his way home and pick up a piece of fish, to which he readily agreed, delighted to learn that I'd made caponata, so he knew just the sort of fish he should get.

My darling, whatever your style, pantaloons, pj's, nothing underneath, or nothing period (god knows I'm forever tearing off my panties when I climb into bed), whether in darkness or siesta, thinking of you always, at my lush thighs & bottom and all that -

yours, devotedly, Princess B.

***

Friday, April 29, 2011

I managed to, all these months, avoid all the hype of the runup to the royal wedding, but this morning woke up early, six-thirtyish, remembered that it was the big day, got up, turned on the little TV in the aerie, and watched. The vows had already been exchanged... but later in the afternoon it was rebroadcast on PBS, and I saw the whole thing - guests arriving, Will and his brother in the Bentley being driven down the Mall, Kate and a glimpse of her beautiful lace bodiced gown as she sat with her father in a separate car on the way to Westminster Abbey - to where I had picked it up at dawn.

Beautiful wedding, I enjoyed watching it, it was mesmerizing. (My one question: where was Fergie? Was she there? If she was, somehow I missed her.)

I didn't have a white wedding myself, the simplest affair ever, vows exchanged in the Manhattan wedding office, then a simple reception, self-catered, in our apartment. We had no money, and no one on either side with deep pockets. It was nice, at the time, I suppose I didn't mind, I was so in love, the wedding seemed almost a formality. Now I look back with some regrets though, a sense - I'm sorry I can't help it, I know I should be grateful for what I have (see I'm beating myself up with guilt) - but sometimes I feel as though things, important things, just utterly passed me by.

I've never so much as tried on a wedding gown. I was attracted to brides' magazines as a young girl, which my mother disparaged, and I heeded her disparagement. It amazes me the extent to which I tried to heed my mother, and mostly I feel the opposite of whatever she was trying to impart, have had to battle her mentally all my life. Not out of orneriness, I have tended to come to feel the precise opposite of whatever she was trying to impart to me. Which it isn't clear to me what it was. She didn't prepare me, or protect me. The nihilistic family I grew up in was not a Family Firm, edifices to be carefully constructed, preserved, formalities observed - not merely observed - but cherished & observed. I dislike false edifices, false fronts, but at the same time I dislike this feeling of being - somehow not part of something, something important, not connected enough.

It's not helping that at the moment I don't have something concrete to look forward to, or even something imaginary, such as the week in Brooklyn I spent two months looking forward to. And now it's behind me, and a tiny bubble of illusion got burst, but the trouble is, I don't have anything to replace it with at the moment.

D seems to be doing much better psychically, getting a lot of work, he seems in a much better, steadier mood these days. The week apart maybe did him some good, also the extra work "in the pipeline" as he put it - anxiety had been getting to him too. Maybe I have turned into a horrible narcissistic monster. I used to love my husband and now I don't, and so what happens then, next? Do I even wish I could get it back? Not really, I feel as though things went too far, for too long - on some level I might wish it - we did, while we got along, have a very comfortable life, I wasn't so full of unrequited, pentup, frustrated, intractable, useless yearning. I can't say that I've ever been defined by "peace of mind" - but I did delight in his company, exclusively, for a very long time. Then again, though - I had over the years of our marriage, put on a tremendous amount of weight, let myself go truly - and so it was those aspects of myself, the ones that might "wander" - that I had - well, "put to bed" doesn't seem quite the right phrase. I guess I always had a very passionate nature or side to me, and in order to be faithful and devoted, I desexualized myself. Wow, all so unconscious - and D never seemed to mind, if anything, he seemed (especially in the early times in our marriage) to be fattening me up, he did a lot of cooking - when we got together, my diet utterly changed, suddenly it was square meals, especially dinners, daily - too many calories.

How I got my groove back. Exercising, working out, taking long walks every day. I've let my hair grow. I've dropped several sizes but am still size 16. Not size 14. My friends in Brooklyn (the wife) left for me a couple of dressy silk ensembles, which as the royal wedding played on my little TV, I finally had a chance to try on. I'm 1X now, not 2X. But there was an ivory silk shell, size 14, and it was too snug, though I can get away with it with the 1X lovely silk jacket over it.

I look really nice I think, not stunning like some of the lookers at the royal wedding (my God, Diana's brother's fiance - breathtaking) but quite nice.

Oh anyway, sorry, most self-involved blogpost ever, I do realize it. And yet, sometimes -

You came as a surprise to me when you did, and I don't know, I feel different about the situation now, post-Brooklyn (that is, the week just past that I spent alone), I mean not that different, but more - you're from a family that believes in, partakes in, Royal Weddings, I've attended them, have a recollection of encountering you at yours (possibly the first time I ever met you though I'm not certain) and feeling a pang - you were gorgeous - a Prince - and it was your wife whom I knew and loved and I was there for her and thrilled for her - and there you were. It was just an instant thing, I could bury it right away. And there was an image today on TV of Prince William with his RAF squad in a helicopter, looking just so handsome and competent - he reminded me of you, that flash image I had of you -

I'm okay, I don't mean to make more of it than I feel. I'm actually just sitting here typing, my incredibly shrinking cat (she is balding, poor tortoiseshell Gwynnie, and she was mostly about hair - so losing it she is half her size) - and D is up north on some job, but was in Hudson in the morning and stopped by the supermarket on the way home for lunch, scored some yellow-stickered lamb steaks which I see - since he bought a bag of coals - he plans to grill. So I made a bowl of beautiful curried couscous salad to go with that, hot-curry powder from the little spice shop, couscous in affordable tubs from wonderful Sahadi's.

After lunch today, I had a sliver of the mazurek - Polish Easter cake - I had made, marzipan layers of almond & apricot - like a bite of wedding cake - divine.

Kisses, touching your hand - XOXO - Belle

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My dearest, how are you? I sense that you're back across the pond, I get a sixth sense about it, or maybe it's just the pattern of pagehits or lack thereof. Or maybe I'm imagining things again. At any rate, I hope all is well with you, and that if you did have a long flight, that it was tolerable, and that you're now safely landed, and happy, and comfortable, and looking forward to the prospect of a delicious snack maybe, and comfortable bed.

I spent the day re-entering my life here, quite pleasantly. When I left, about ten days ago, I wouldn't say that there was still a foot in winter, but the landscape hadn't quite popped yet. Now we're squarely in spring, with bulbs all up, and with them too, perennials in the border, mounds of green growing up against last year's as-yet untrimmed spent brown detritus. On my walk today was a lilac hedge, not about to bloom, not quite yet (we're definitely at least a week behind Brooklyn, 125 miles north from there) but tight colorless panicles have formed, so -- soon.

I did a mountain of laundry today, and lightened the bedding, removing the heavy winter duvet layer, laundering the cover. I turned on the ceiling fan and opened the door to the juliet balcony, and again that sensation of being near the sea, though I'm not, but there is such a sense of fresh open air here, and quiet, and this house has always reminded me (in warm weather anyway, when it's more open to the elements) of an old wooden ship.

So I did my workout this morning, and later took a long walk, so I'm feeling back to my good healthful routines. Now I have chicken roasting in the oven, seasoned with lemon, garlic, and herbes de provence from the little spice shop.

My workout spilled over into the ten o'clock hour, L&O SVU over, so I turned the channel to the Nate Berkus show. He's an immensely warm, charming, gifted designer (mostly interior design) - I like him very much, he seems so (I sense) - unspoiled somehow. His guest today (or whenever the program was taped) was Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whom over the years I've read a lot about, but have never seen in an interview or otherwise speak. The Mayor is also, by all accounts and by the spirit he exudes, warm, genuine, impassioned, committed, devoted to his adopted city of Newark. Nate and the Mayor conversed about Newark's historic heyday, its downturn, its coming back because of little things - as little as windowboxes and fresh coats of paint, or simply picking up, as one strolls, pieces of litter on the sidewalk. (Sorry, darling, I am feeling tired today, so perhaps not my most eloquent self.)

It just reminded me - and honestly, I'd forgotten that feeling, it's been a while - of what, about fifteen years ago inspired and drove me to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning, that incredible sense of hope that little actions could make a big difference, in an urban setting which can be so harsh, sterile, unforgiving - through modest interventions can be made to be delightful places to dwell, to stroll, to spend time in.

I had worked at a municipal planning agency after receiving my masters, and honestly, felt very very worn down and beat by the experience. The agency - I much too late realized - was not about "making places," it was not about creating joy and delight, warm, hospitable, lovely places. Oh, I don't mean to dwell on this, but I left that agency feeling so bruised - I just did not have the temperament at all for that place - that I'd inadvertently in myself, I guess, thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

I tried lightly to get myself involved with a planning project up here, a waterfront plan, but somehow I could never get traction with the cast of characters - I don't know, I guess intellectually & spiritually, urban planning on some level was my field (I had felt a professional excitement about it that I was rarely if ever able to muster in any other job/field I had) but I wasn't really cut out for it. I don't know. I don't know what to say about it at this point.

Anyway, it was just a great pleasure and delight to see Nate and the Mayor so excited about transforming Newark, one house at a time, and now - given a commitment by Mr. Berkus - to adopt an entire historic block together with its accompanying adjacent park - wow - I just felt really happy & excited & overjoyed and recollected that excitement that I had felt at one time.

I'm really grateful to the Nate Berkus show for showcasing this, giving us this glimpse & glimmer. Because I (for one) have been so turned off by extreme politicization & polarization - egregiously fanned by media - that I tune out because it makes me feel so powerless and agitated. And I really, really, like our President, Barack Obama, I voted for him, and maybe he's a Cory Booker-type at heart, I sense that he is, I'm not sure, with an incredibly powerful, positive vision. Well, they are two different people, of course.

Maybe the difference was that so unexpectedly in a mainstream media way a non-treacly message of hope and practical can-do was delivered - it wasn't politicized, it was just incredibly positive.

Sweetheart, I will let you go now with a kiss, I know I should polish this post, but I'll just let it go as is.

XOXO

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hello darling, up in my peaceful aerie, happy to be back among my familiar surroundings, looking forward to getting back to my usual routines, especially rigorous exercise after a week of - yes, many walks - but also an excess of quiche. My God, there's still quiche left too, and ham, though I managed to polish off the remainder of the roast chicken yesterday evening. Never even touched the mazurek, and barely the spinach pie. Yes, I cooked way too much in advance - but then it was nice to then get a week's break from having to shop for, plan & cook meals. I missed your company - had you been there I would have set the table or made up a tray. As it was I took each meal in the tiny galley kitchen, standing over the sink or looking out the café-curtained window. Usually over the sink because I didn't have anything on - and so went apronless.

I am enjoying the bucolic sounds here, instead of car alarms, horns, sanitation trucks - street noises that I endured for many years, and am glad I no longer have to try to tune out. Here, at the moment, I hear all sorts of bird whistles and calls, including cardinal tu tu tu's, a motorcycle on Route 9 somewhere in the middle distance, the squeaking of our drier (mildly annoying), tree frogs or crickets pleasantly, rhythmically trilling.

The drive back was very pleasant, D and I actually had a nice time together, getting along, which was nice. On the way, in Dutchess County, we observed a Beemer with Mass plates that had been pulled over, presumably for speeding, by a state trooper. (Let me interject - my God, all the people texting & driving, switching lanes, weaving in and out, tailgating - and I get pulled over for speeding? I'm an angel in comparison to what goes on, especially before those Jersey bigass SUVs pull off the Henry Hudson to go back over the GW.) Anyway, so we passed the beemer & the trooper car on the grassy shoulder, lights all flashing (oh, shudder). Minutes go by, D & I chat, listen to radio, extol over the genius of Paul Simon and Bob Schneider, when in the left lane zooming past us - is the dark beemer. I remarked, it's the same guy - eagle eye said D - and I said, it's the Mass plate - I can't believe he's speeding again. I mean, he was at full stop with trooper miles back - and now he's way ahead of us. And indeed, within a minute or two, he was out of sight - even as we approached a long vista'ed ribbon of road (spread before us the most amazing pastoral scene of panoramic rolling countryside, greener with springtime growth in the elapsed week) - he was gone. We presumed this guy had been pulled over for speeding and issued a ticket, especially in these beating-bushes-to-generate-revenues times. I thought about when I had gotten my ticket, had beaten myself up over it, and tried afterward to be extremely vigilant and careful - and this guy does the very opposite.

Just as D was about to head off the Taconic onto the Route 82 exit at Ancram - there was the Mass plate Beemer again - pulled over for the second time - by two state trooper cars. Wow.

Honestly, I marveled. I have never witnessed one driver get two speeding tickets in such short order. And the Columbia County troopers must have known that the Dutchess County ones had already nabbed him. D surmises that the Beemer must have passed one state trooper who simply radio'd ahead - which explains the two cars.

Anyway. Damn.

I have never even ever sent anyone a text, let alone while driving.

What would I text?
sick of
birth cert madness
stupid distraction
who cares
Y do "journalists" fan flames
corporatist agenda that's why
I try to ignore
breathe, relax, ah better
sweet you
luv u darling
many kisses whereVR u R
XOXO
P.S.wondr where is batry recharger

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#756, deconstructed

Why Bliss so scantily disburse—
Why Paradise defer—
Why Floods be served to Us—in Bowls—
I speculate no more—

Up in the Brooklyn aerie, the tiny study off the bedroom, aroma of basil pesto (fettuccine - a bowlful - for supper) wafting on a breeze from the kitchen to here. Well, Dmitri, I guess I misread a lot since you never appeared. Oh well. I feel resigned. It seems honestly to be my fate. You're stronger than me, I would have sinned in an instant. Not that I have except in my thoughts for a quarter-century, but at this point - yes, absolutely I would have. But, my dear, I'm not taking it personally. I'm certain you wouldn't want me to. Does this mean we get to hang out together in heaven, maybe?
I knew no more of Want—or Cold—
Phantasms both become
For this new Value in the Soul—
Supremest Earthly Sum—

The Heaven below the Heaven above—
Obscured with ruddier Blue—
Life's Latitudes leant over—full—
The Judgment perished—too—

***
(echoes of Marvell...
As lines, so love's oblique, may well
Themselves in every angle greet:
But ours, so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.
)
***
Today was gorgeous, a summery day, well into the eighties. Brownstone pocket gardens and windowboxes are resplendent, flowers in improbable bloom together (reminding me of the fancifully staged Emily Dickinson garden at the NYBG conservatory last June, where hollyhocks, narcissi, and fall mums kept company) the warm weather has come in such a rush - lilacs in concert with forsythia; tulips with daffodils (usually tulips are a beat - a week or two - later); cherry trees ablaze; and at the Greenmarket, annual packs of violas and pansies along with, already, petunias, impatiens, and marigolds.

Which reminds me that I enjoyed recently (via googling) coming across a beautiful photo of your daughter, smiling, eyes closed, serenely and happily burying her nose in some (I hope) fragrant blossoms - loved the detail of the wheels under her arm... young woman on the go pausing to smell the roses - good for her!

I thought of that image this morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, as I leant in from a path to inhale intoxicating lilacs in full bloom. Second swoon of my morning, having tried out earlier, as I lay waking, my new toy. Is this possibly the best forty dollars I have spent in my life, at least for a woman in my predicament? Kisses - not yours, not anyone's - weren't there: and yet exquisite transport - le petit mort - a managed life -
A perfect—paralyzing Bliss—
Contented as Despair—

***
It was beautiful at the BBG today. Tout Brooklyn was there. Tuesday is free-admission - and everyone turned out. It was heaven on this earth. Absolutely life ought - however, whenever, wherever, and as often as possible - to be organized in just such a way - with scores and scores of people - individuals each, some teeny, some ancient, in stroller or pushing one, or walker or wheelchair, young, old, male, female, all colors, shapes, sizes -- all there having arrived in the little oasis in the borough, combating traffic and earthly concerns and woes and subway trains and every obstacle that is put before us to - all of us on this glorious spring day, arrive at the spontaneous ballet taking place on the lawn and paths woodland trails fountains and borders of this very very beautiful public garden ---- on a Tuesday no less, not even a weekend -- I'm so glad that so many of us were free ---

Love you darling -
XOXO

***
One Blessing had I than the rest
So larger to my Eyes
That I stopped gauging—satisfied—
For this enchanted size—

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My dearest, checking in again with a post more indicative of my actual mood, of the lovely moment, the beautiful day. After the clouds rolled in there was indeed a spritz, and now skies again are clear. I am really enjoying being back in the building where I lived, where D & I lived, from 1990 to 2005. When we first arrived that spring, in this tiny brownstone oasis, we were so grateful for a tiny patch of garden space. So we set to planting a garden, including trees...

I don't have photos at the moment, too complicated with not being on my computer to download. But I have been standing on the top floor apartment of this building, looking down - and across - on the most glorious of now springblooming trees. Across? Are the amazing "I can see the pines are dancing" cedar deodoras, that in a green way are twin towers rising rising rising how tall will they get? They reach for each other other, dancing limbs reaching, clambering, climbing

And when I look down, there's a cherry tree in full glorious blossom, a Japanese specimen that I had mail-ordered twenty years ago, and one weekday morning before D & I both had to head to the subway to go to work, D excavated & doctored a planting pit in which to set the fragile young tree. And now here it is! In a circular cascading ballgown cloud of bloom

I am grateful that D & I left our marks in such a lovely way on the surroundings
the trees here are mature now, cherry certainly, the cedars - still maturing - how tall will they get?

I live in the country now, and don't have much energy or wherewithal for plantings

But I am so glad that D & I planted so many trees
which are coming up
will I live long enough to see them, in our new place, as canopy?
maybe not

but someone, some creature will enjoy it all the same
even if they're not as lucky as I've been to see the newly planted trees grow up & tall & green & strong
easter bonnets for whole new young families in the gardens
southern magnolia, transplanted, ablaze
cherry blossom tree
that D, one morning years ago,
did the opposite of chopping down
went, at my catalog flower farm behest
on his knees
to plant
and here it is tonight
amazing hoopskirt & parasol
under the watchful green
My dearest, I wonder if there's still a chance you might appear. I try not to hold out hope - and yet. I'm still here, unwavering always, til Wednesday.

Clouds are thickening and it feels like summer, perhaps it's going to rain. Missed you very much today, you were very much in my thoughts. I walked up to Borough Hall and took the IRT all the way to the Bronx, and went to the New York Botanic Garden. Actually, I woke up this morning really not knowing at all what to do with myself today. Received two lovely Easter greetings and wellwishes, one from my aunt, and one from My Friend in Finland, a very nice way to start the day, with such messages. Though the one from my aunt contained a bit of disturbing news, that my father is ill, no details. My father & I severed relations a long time ago, the mid-nineties sometime. I adored him when I was a baby and toddler, and then as I got older (grade school) and my mother told me that his erratic behavior was due to alcoholism, which upended my world, he and I were at odds, too often violent, after that, whether he was drinking or not, and there did come a point that he did stop, after a very bad accident, but his rage, fury whatever did not abate, it seemed if anything to concentrate. Anyway. I don't mean to dwell. I didn't mean when I sat down to write, to write about this. And yet. I know that in the realms of How Things Are Supposed To Be Done, I'm supposed to dutifully contact someone, inquire, visit, be there at his side whether it's deathbed or not, but I have to tell you - this will not happen. It may well be a poor reflection on me. But it would be false on my part. Not that I'm such a purist - I can fake things if need be. But - you know my feelings on this really are a jumble, something that's been deep-sixed for a very long time - he caused me an incredible lot of psychic pain, and I simply had to excise him, though I believe he excised me first. He and I were never close - until my mother died, in 1990. Then, amazingly, for six years after that, he and I became very, very close, enjoyed a very warm relationship. I could hardly believe it, and it meant a lot to me. I couldn't explain what had happened between us, why suddenly there was this very close rapport - there was something about the dynamic of my mother that had come between the father/daughter relationship.

But, essentially, he dropped me in an instant when he found his second wife. There wasn't room for her, and for me.

Kropka.

I was devastated, really mourned. I felt emotionally used, he needed me as long as he needed me and when he didn't -

So it's done, I won't be contacting him or anyone about this, and I have already imagined that (not that I'm rushing him) I will not be attending his funeral. Ironically, it's possible that you might, not that I wish that on you, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, I guess I just feel a need to explain myself a bit to someone - you're about the only one there is, who I figure won't 'throw the book' at me for not 'hopping to.' I get the feeling that you have huge stores of empathy, and you must on some level be nonjudgmental, or else why would you stick with me, in these pages? I am very grateful to you, so much, for that.

Also I have no relationship at this point with any of my siblings. My brothers simply fell away (shades of my father, perhaps, wives trumping all), and my sister and I were like oil & water, and I think she played unconscious games that I was on the bad-receiving end of, where I was cast as the villain who upset her.

You know? It's nice to view myself, or try to, as a pretty nice, decent person who was never understood or much liked by her birth family.

I have had much warmer contact with Jersey, as limited as it is, than my own family of origin.

Darling, I guess I just wanted you to know this about me, I don't want you to think that I'm angry, or stubborn - it's just - well, that's just how it's been with my family, for decades upon decades...

Sweetheart, loving you very much. Thanks for listening -

XOXO

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My dearest, back up in the apartment aerie after a wonderful afternoon, including a lovely piece of good fortune. I decided to go see a Met Opera performance of Richard Strauss's Capriccio, which was being simulcast in HD all over the world this afternoon, including Hudson (where I might have seen it - but realized with irony that I wouldn't have), and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, about a twenty minute walk from here. It was a cool gray drizzly day and I walked, umbrella aloft, along Atlantic Avenue looking at all the beautiful and interestingly designed shop and boutique windows, furling my umbrella closed when I realized that it wasn't raining anymore. I arrived at BAM, went to the ticket window in the lobby, and waited until two young women with European accents ahead of me finished their transaction. Then it was my turn and the clerk asked my name, assuming that I had a reservation. No, I'd like to purchase a ticket - if I can. Just then the young women returned and said - it took me a moment to realize, to me - we have this ticket, please take it, we were going to throw it away. I very gratefully accepted and thanked them and that was that. I was early for the performance and I went back outside thinking I might walk around Fort Greene a bit until it was time, and as I exclaimed to myself over that bit of good fortune (which seemed in a "slant" way, a kiss from angels, to make up for other vexations), I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, looked at the ticket, and realized that it was the more expensive $28 one which included a pre-performance lecture - for which I was now a few minutes late. So I returned a few steps to BAM, and had the treat of learning a bit about the opera and its themes before I saw it, which certainly helped to illuminate it for me.

The lecture ended and there were a few minutes before the simulcast was about to begin, so I got up to stretch my legs and attend the restroom. As I returned to my seat I glanced behind me - and to my surprise recognized the fellow. We greeted each other warmly. I was just thinking of you yesterday, I said, when I heard the music lesson from downstairs. Oh - that was me - was it yesterday? - it's all a blur, he replied. And then I remembered how you had dropped the opera tickets on the street and I took a cab to Lincoln Center and found you and L and gave you the tickets. Oh yes, I remember, he said - that was amazing!

It was amazing, and it was nice to have that little memory yesterday, and to be able to share it with him today. He is a very gifted countertenor, who for many years while I lived here took voice lessons from our upstairs neighbor (downstairs, from where at the moment I now sit). Small world! It was nice to see him, and he told me that he had been recently hired by the Met, and I congratulated him, and he reached the row where he sat and it turned out that he had come with his voice teacher, my former neighbor, and he said, look there she is, and I looked and there was her friendly familiar face beaming as she waved hello to me.

So that was a second lovely piece of good fortune, as I think of it.

Darling, I think you can see that my good mood has been restored, I've found some equilibrium again...

The opera was just wonderful. I'm not the biggest opera fan - depends on the work - but I do love Richard Strauss, his ravishing plumbings and soarings. (I should say that one reason I fell in love with D so very many years ago is the fact that he had recommended Strauss's Four Last Songs to me, with which I was unfamiliar, and when I brought the tape home (a time before CDs) and listened to it, I was so blown away that I fell in love not only with the music but with the messenger.)

The Renee Fleming character's predicament - trying to choose between two suitors, a poet and a composer - resonated with me (echoes of John Koch's beautiful painting of the woman pianist seated between her devoted male friends). The opera is a brilliantly witty discussion as to which is a priori, words or music - the score to be settled (and single suitor selected) via the vehicle of opera which is how the characters as they sing their ruminations determine that the matter should be resolved - an opera in which they themselves will star...

It was just wonderful, I was transported, not restless hardly a bit (though feeling a little asthmatic because somewhere near me someone was doused in Chanel No. Five, and though that was distracting it wasn't severe; it's strange, I'm generally not asthmatic or weirdly symptomatic in any way at all, except occasionally in theatres - I've discovered, for example, that I'm allergic to strong odor of movie popcorn.)

My dearest, this is the ramblingest post ever, not feeling very poetic, just happy to have had such a nice day. I hope you've been enjoying one too. Love, and very many kisses -

Friday, April 22, 2011

So I guess you weren't "on my way" and last night wasn't going to be the last night I slept alone. I guess I was wrong about your flight arriving ontime at JFK, that you'd taken an earlier one than I had imagined, given an occult hit from London, and that despite a hit from Elmhurst (surely not Rikers) and then 29 from Hungary - now that I knew was proxy - that perhaps you'd prudently decided to spend a night in a hotel after a long flight, and then in the morning there'd be church to go to on this very holy day. It's funny how I have this scrap of memory of your casually once saying years ago that you drove around Red Hook looking for a Catholic Mass - I must say your remark was quite surprising, I wasn't sure I could quite believe it - whether I could or couldn't twin afterimages of you remain, one real, one imagined, your enigmatic mention as you stepped away from the table, you driving alone at night beneath the falling apart steel & concrete mess, in search...

I had thought the notion of a Slaviansky Bazaar of our own was irresistible - patterns of page hits led me to believe you felt that way too, but hey, that's my problem isn't it. I feel really stuck here, not happy to be here as I have been in times past, when at least I knew for certain that I'd be by myself and could plan accordingly, get my head around it okay. Instead I've been getting emotional whiplash from day to day at times, such as yesterday evening when I looked out the window a lot half-expecting a taxi to pull up - with you in it.

So I have been going half-mad with desperation & loneliness & dashed hopes, but am trying to be very Hollow Man about it and put one foot in front of the other and keep walking, keeping busy, doing something. Yesterday I took a long walk to Park Slope and visited, for the first time in my life, a sex toy shop, this one specializing in sex toys for women. It is clear that this involuntary nun needs to take matters into her own hands so to speak. I parted with $40 and came away with a turquoise silicon vibrator and a small bottle of "babelube." The batteries work, the pierced clerk (who was extremely helpful in helping me to select my budget stand-in) made sure, giving me fresh ones. I've never used a vibrator, but I like the idea of trying one out, only I had hoped that it might be in the service of Remembering Things Past, such as from this weekend, that I might fantasize about in the shower when I get back.

This afternoon was cold & dreary, and I had started the morning entertaining thoughts that perhaps you were on your way, merely trying to get in a church service, be well rested, bowel-moved, perhaps even trying to scramble together a few gifts for me - to which I was thinking, no no no, I don't need gifts or anything at all, just get your ass over here, don't you realize how precious time is? Don't waste it, just come over.

And of course as we all now know (I was the last to know) you didn't, and I was going half-mad with a mixture of the depressive side of bipolar feelings, and I thought, I have got to get myself out of this apartment, I cannot start drinking icefilled glasses at 3:30, no matter how dreary everything is. So I managed to absolutely just force myself out the door, for the third walk up Clinton today, to Borough Hall, onto the IRT to 86th Street, forced march to the Met Museum, up the steps, accosted by the guard who demanded to check my $5 Peebles bag (originally $50!) and finding it of course a-okay, paid ten of "recommended" $20 admission (am grateful to clerk who evinced absolutely zero attitude, simply gave me change of a twenty). I went through the Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century exhibit, but very halfheartedly. I was in a "mood," signage at the Met to find the exhibit is cockeyed and I had to backtrack, and once I found the exhibit, was instantly irritated by the presence of distracting, too-young children there, plus an overly loudly commenting patron. Plus the rhythm was all wrong, I kept finding myself crowding the space of another person in examining a picture & accompanying caption. I sped through the exhibit, skipped a small gallery of intimately-scaled drawings that demanded closer attention and less febrile (is that the word I mean?) state of mind than the one I was in. To make a long story short, I ended up purchasing, in the end - end meaning mouse trap gift shop at trail's end - the handsome paperbound catalogue to the show. Which I found it hard to part with $30 ("plus tax?" "there's tax on everything," I was patronizingly advised by a clerk of whom I could have been, well not quite her grandmother, not yet). I counted out my cash, thirty-two dollars and sixty-six... cents... those pennies picked up from sidewalks and parking lots add up.

Anyway. I have the catalogue, and it's still in its shrink wrap and I look forward to examining it, reading it at my leisure (not now), because I realize that the images actually have a calming, grounding effect on me, not that I purchased the volume for medicinal reasons. Also, I regret very much to this day that I hadn't purchased the catalogue to the John Koch painting exhibit that I had enjoyed so much in the fall of 2001 - that one too was priced around $30, always a large sum of money, when one must restrict one's variables and yet view cheeses and rose wines as 'necessities.'

So I'm glad I purchased it, and I clutched it to my warm jacket on the M5 down Fifth, and against me as I got off at 42nd and walked over to Sixth to catch the F train as I have a bazillion times before in a previous life. I've lost so much patience, I think, I found the whole trek barely sufferable, subways, museum, bus stopped every few feet in heavy traffic.

All I had really wanted in coming down here was to be close to you. I mean it.

My problem, though, isn't it.

the lady with the dog in the story didn't have a name
Dmitri

it may have to be room temperature pissalediere

Message from Belle to vacationing friends, 22 April 2011, 3 a.m.
Hi - thought I'd drop you a quick line to make use of my temporary insomnia before I head back to bed...

Everything's cool & fine here, really enjoying my stay. Miss P comes out of her crepuscular lurks & traverses the peripheries undetected - occasionally I bump into her, such as this afternoon when I went to the kitchen & there she was in the LR window, staring at me balefully - I had come too close for her taste. I said hi, and she went back to her dust ruffle domain...

Quick question about your oven - does it work, or is it me being unmechanical? I removed the items you have stored in there, then pressed the ignition button while pressing & turning the center knob to the teeny oven icon. I could hear the whoosh of the gas lighting - but when I released the knob at any point, either at the icon or revolving it to an oven temp (350), I could hear that it had gone off.

Anyway, if you could advise one way or another, I'd appreciate it (warm pizza so much better than cold).

Hope you two are having a wonderful time...

***
I'm up, drinking coffee (iced)
listening to webstreamed KZE
wondering where you are
and how you are on quiche straight out of the fridge
missing you
wonder what the day will bring
I hope you slept well darling
beautiful dawn light just now
where you are too?
kisses
XOXO

Thursday, April 21, 2011

where are you????

harmonia macrocosmica


I am missing you, and thinking of you very much, but feel the need to take a bit of a breather. I hope all is well with you. Yours, with all my love - Belle
Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.

from, The Definition of Love, by Andrew Marvell

image: Andreas Cellarius (c. 1596-1665): Harmonia macrocosmica sey atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. Plate 4. PLANISPHÆRIVM COPERNICANVM Sive Systema VNIVERSI TOTIVS CREATI EX HYPOTHESI COPERNICANA IN PLANO EXHIBITVM - The planisphere of Copernicus, or the system of the entire created universe according to the hypothesis of Copernicus exhibited in a planar view (1660)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

on my way

Just for now,
dearest,
virtual kisses
and amuse-bouches.

XOXO


The next thing you know there was magic in the air...

***
3:30 p.m., bower bird safely ensconced, feathering borrowed nest in pleasant anticipation...

Monday, April 18, 2011

My dearest - so: tonight's the last evening, countdown about over. I did an astounding amount of cooking & baking today, the most I've ever done in my life outside of Thanksgivings, Christmases, and one or two parties in my life that I've thrown.

Sigh. I love parties. I would love to have thrown more. I'm really not as reclusive as I seem. Or am I? God, I'm comprised of so many different goddesses, or aspects, really - without being schizophrenic, I'm quite sure, no "Seven Faces of Eve," yet at times I feel myself to contain - not multitudes, exactly, but certainly complementary, contradictory aspects. And then a life - mine - is lived, and it turns out the way it's turned out, and I feel - but that's not who I meant to be, not exactly, I didn't mean to be stuck in a tower with a view, tapping pro bono - not even that, for the public good? hardly, simply tapping, unpaid. Now that part I actually don't mind, because I couldn't possibly write what I write, the way I write, if it were with an eye towards the agora. And yet I'm constantly trying to charm you...

So tonight I'm at the brink of a moment of truth, I guess I'll find out sometime tomorrow if I, Belle, Anxious Decoder, decoded correctly - or if I, Belle, self-deluded, dreamed it all up, invented it.

Either way Belle, whether alone or with as I hope (I couldn't possibly have made this all up, could I have?) you, will dine beautifully well, on a variety of different savory pies, and other fortifying and flavorful delicacies (or just great basic stuff, e.g., roast chicken) to be warmed up & savored.

Rubicon. (Nocibur, Rubicon spelled backward.) Am I crossing one tomorrow? Are you? We'll see, we'll see. Yours, Mabel

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My darling, things seem to be coming together towards a conjunction, I do hope. Spent the day mostly playing sous-chef to myself, making pie dough and baking unfilled pie shells (three sit fragrantly now cooling on the sideboard), chopping sweet onions, leeks, asparagus, and who knows what other food prep, it's all now a blur of activity. I'm not normally quite so vigilant about being organized, but the apartment is on the top floor, reached by climbing a steep staircase, so yes, I do like to be well-provisioned the first couple of days anyway, once the car's been unloaded and belongings hauled up, because I have never relished the idea of running out of something and having to run all the way downstairs for it, then down the street or around the corner. I lived in that building for fifteen years and if I needed to pop outside - no problem, I just almost literally ran out the door and bounded down the stoop steps.

So I plan in advance for my first few days, and within that period settle into a comfortable routine, where late afternoons, after a museum or movie perhaps, I find myself thinking of the following morning's coffee and as I walk down Court with its charming shops or DeGraw where I pause to peer (as if placing my eye to a fabergé confection within which resides a sugared springtime tableau) through honeysuckle vine-covered chainlink (in which tiny birds invisibly nest & chirp) into the depths of a telescopically narrow exquisite private garden, brilliantly planted with perennials that from week to week emerge, unfold, recede, grounded in the middle distance as I recall with the timeless calm omnipresence of a large round stone, make it a point to stop in at one shop or another, accordingly.

What a nut. I'm feeling great, actually, though I suppose I may sound anxious. But you know - better fretting about details now, so that everything's laid out and relaxed The Day Of. No fretting or sweating minor details of that nature once we're up in that aerie. That, really, is the point of all my "best laid plans" now. Plus all that cooking and chopping and making salad dressing and putting a roll of paper towels in a shopping bag to take down (along with other items) made the day just fly by. Your Dora Maar was the domestic muse today, my dearest Pablo, in pleasant anticipation.

My darling, putting my arms around you and planting a kiss on your cheek. A bientôt.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cold blustery day, pellet stove blazes, monochrome gray landscape tinged with nascent pastels, and the surprise here & there while driving, of a bright chance drift of daffodils proffered like a bouquet - here! - or single star magnolia, size of a girl, standing alone in a churchyard, in a sweetly effulgent frock of moon-white spray; or overgrown lilac hedges colored with pale green leaves and sultry berried tips, nipples first, tumescent panicles plush tumescent with fragrance to come...

fragrant with plush tumescent panicled presence
sweet berried raspberry tips
plush sweet frock star aargh
fragrant erect berry tipped lilac
effulgent bulging size of a
tumescent fragrant sweet earthy heady
lowhanging plush plump sweet berry tipped

My darling can you tell that I have been half crazy and up a tree with amorous thoughts of you all day? the foregoing is how the writing has been going for me the last half hour, filled with thoughts much less of daffodils & lilacs than of me and you, and what you'll do to me, and what I'll do to you, all in the splendor of a half-shaded very pleasant abode...

My darling, that's it for now - oh please kiss me you know where

Friday, April 15, 2011

My darling, gorgeous out today. Started out cold, the sun was deceiving, so I shut down the pellet stove and an hour later regretted it since the tiled solarium cools down quickly. A day of odds and ends. Anxiety attacks, a bit, I don't know, I guess it's the anticipation, I don't want anything to go wrong. As it is I'm sitting here with a heating pad ("warm compress") against a skin inflammation that has suddenly flared up, right when obviously I'm trying to look my best and want everything to go well. I feel like a teenager. There is something about my age, this point in my life, that is like being teenage again, it's another transition, testing waters, seeing what will work for the next - well, whatever span of time. Personal evolution. But I do hope this inflammation will calm down. Perhaps it's the volcanic in me, erupting in advance, subcutaneously.

What a babble. But that's the sort of day it's been. What do I have to report? Stirred up pizza dough, for pissalediere. Tomorrow's a big day, sort of, getting my hair trimmed, doing a big food shopping so that I can cook Sunday & Monday in order to have nice foodstuffs to bringdown for the first few days. I'm excited just now. Cleaning out email I discovered that I had completely forgotten about an interesting sounding talk tomorrow afternoon at the local international arts colony, a sculptor in conversation with - well, I forget who, but possibly I'll report on it once I've been. Not literary, but it'll be interesting to hear a talk on the subject of a completely different art form, one that I don't have occasion to think about very often, but of course is fascinating -- we'll see.

Took a walk this afternoon. Last several days, at the side of the desolate hilly road that winds above the creek, there's been unfortunate kill, a groundhog I think, or possibly a beaver. I've been startled every time I, marching, come hard upon it and swerve away in mingled horror and, I don't know, sympathy (the creature loved its life). Today I took the same route - no furry splay - instead, a very large dark brown bird, big as a turkey, cloaked & stooped, eye in profile regarding me from its small orange head. I addressed it. Are you a vulture? The bird sat on the guard rail by the side of the road right where the dead animal used to be - had the vulture dragged it off, down the dead leaf incline? It flapped its massive wings and improbably - the thing looks so clumsy and massive - took lumbering flight away from me, into a nearby stand of trees, where it settled on a low branch. I continued my walk, lifting weights in various motions, making a mental note to look up the bird in my Sibley's. On my way back I observed a vulture - perhaps the same one - way up high in the sky, wings spread, surfing on air currents. It seemed to slowly spiral ever upwards, without having to work at it, just spreading its wings, catching a current of air, and rising a level, then another, and another, buffetting upwards like stepping up a staircase. It was quite extraordinary. Then way way higher crossed the tiniest silver needle (I couldn't even see the wings) of a jet plane heading - I couldn't tell the direction offhand - diagonally so high up in the sky as I walked below on a winding road.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My dearest, I really haven't given any thought to what besides the obvious we might do next week, that is, I have no idea what's going on in the city as far as cultural offerings go. But just now as I've sat down with my icefilled glass in my room with a view (if I care to get up to look at it) and golden light (which I apprehend simply by turning my head to regard sunlit rattan chairs and patterns of light - the opposite of shadows - illuminating a wall), I've opened an email that includes a glowing review (linked to here) of a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century, that sounds very appealing, up our alley I think - or hope. How can I know what you might like? But I sense that you might enjoy this - or that we both would, seeing it together.

***
Open Windows
of the 21st Century

me
folding up blog post
& figuratively tossing it
paper airplane style
out aerie window


you
having received it
reading
by lamplight
my post
on your iphone





***
very many kisses darling
XOXO

***
images:
Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), Woman at the Window, 1822, oil on canvas, 44 x 37cm., Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Georg Friedrich Kersting (1785-1847), Man Reading by Lamplight, 1814, oil on canvas, 47.5 x 37 cm., Oskar Reinhart Foundation Museum, Winterthur, Switzerland
Letter from Belle to Amelia, 8 August 2006
... Another thought came to me this morning, on a different subject altogether. I hesitate to even put it in this letter, but it’ll give you a glimpse of some of the reading and thinking I’ve been doing.

By way of background, the Soviets invaded eastern Poland in September 1939, ostensibly to “protect” Poland from Hitler (which propaganda the West bought). But in reality it was a land grab, with the Soviet Union tightening its grip on eastern Poland via increasing brute force, perfidy, and propaganda. (For example, as just one of their many tactics, the incoming Soviets bought up all the local goods there were to buy, paying in
zloty. The locals were happy, and the Soviets entrenched themselves further. Then the Soviets devalued the zloty - which left the locals with literally nothing.)

Poles who could escape, did so. Others plotted their escapes and took it one day at a time - not today, perhaps tomorrow. Six months into the occupation, in March 1940, in the middle of the frozen winter night, Soviet police fanned out and invaded all the residences, forcing the occupants to leave their homes within minutes. I read an oral history of a woman (elderly now, living in Buffalo) who was swept up in this as a young mother. Like many, she was woken from a deep sleep. She was disoriented and didn’t know quite what to do. She didn’t know where they were going, or for how long. She dressed her children, grabbed pillows (“not even the best ones”) and a change of clothes. She didn’t pack bread, because she had planned to make it on the morrow…

In a single 24-hour period the population of several counties was loaded onto long (5-6 kilometer) cattle freight trains that the Soviets had prepared for this purpose. In all, an estimated 1.8 million Poles were deported (my father’s family was among them). Huddled together in filthy, unheated cattle cars they traveled thousands of miles before arriving in Siberia to work in forced labor camps. Many died en route – many others died at the camps – and relatively few ever made it out (though my father’s family was among a group that did, due to amazing twists of fate and history, and a British-Polish alliance)….

Anyway, just this morning I had the thought of how different it is from the positive (though difficult) experience of American pioneers, traveling west in hope of a new beginning, economic opportunity. I’m picturing a line-graph, with pioneers venturing in a positive direction. But with deportations, it’s a journey in the opposite direction, into negative territory. Pioneers perhaps had a chance to lay proper provisions, to bake bread. Deportees, no. Yet it’s all the same stock of people, the human condition. Fifty years later, an old woman kicks herself for not seeing it coming, for not having bread in the house…

I really hate to end this letter this way. It’s actually a beautiful day out. I’ve become a broody member of the leisure class. (Actually what Brooks calls the “leisure class,” I think of as a civilized life, filled with cats & books & letters & theatre, etc...


***
Letter from Belle to Amelia, 26 August 2006
As a quick follow-up to the point I was making about pioneers vs. deportees in my last letter, the day after I mailed it D pointed out the following passage in The New York Review of Books, in a review of a book entitled, The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany. What I had forgotten about in viewing pioneers as “positive,” was the natives whom they displaced – a resounding “negative.”
... the Nazis likened the Slavic East to the American West, equating Poles, Jews, and Russians with American Indians, peoples destined to be swept aside. So when Nazi armies were advancing, Hitler authorized his deputy in Poland to make the Vistula valley “as German as the Rhine valley,” and in 1941 he himself declared, “The Volga must be our Mississippi.” Even when the tide of war began to turn against him, Hitler clung to the analogy by equating struggles against partisans with “the Indian Wars in North America.” I [the reviewer, Wm. McNeil] found it a surprise, and a sobering one, to learn how influential American examples of ethnic cleansing were in Nazi ideology and practice.
Isn’t that interesting? I’m getting very interested, actually, in the unseen forces that seek to control and manipulate… I don’t mean that I’m getting into conspiracy theories – far from it. I’ve never had any patience for the Oliver-Stone like seeing a conspiracy theory under every rock. I used to have a paranoid coworker too, who was obsessed with the stuff and was as a result a rather shifty, secretive and noisome fellow. I just mean, the way things “really work.” Such as this bit of dialogue from Chinatown (the latest installment in our now nearly-finished Polanski Film Festival):
Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson): I just want to know what you’re worth. Over ten million?

Noah Cross (John Huston): Oh my yes.

Jake Gittes: I just want to know why you’re doing it. How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can’t already afford?

Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes, the future.

***
j.m. greysky comment on Salon, 7 August 2007

L wrote: “I have often had my doubts about the veracity of this anecdote, but less and less as time goes by:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
I am very struck by this quote. As Americans I think it's hard for us to relate to this. We don't see enough, haven't experienced enough, most of us. We think of science fiction - but how many of us think of history?

I'm a first generation American of Polish descent, and I was doing some internet research trying to get a better understanding of what members of my family had experienced in Poland during WWII, and the historical forces and events. I came upon a remarkable contemporaneous document (from 1940) that described the systematic occupation of Poland by the Soviets. (The document (linked to here) was written in order to open the eyes of the British government to the fact that Poland - and indeed the rest of Europe - had not one enemy, but two.)

The Soviet occupation was all done very gently, quietly, insidiously - until all the machinery was in place. Then all hell broke loose. The Soviets literally imposed their reality on an innocent, unsuspecting population. Learning of all this I was dumbstruck at the sheer overwhelming scale of the takeover, how systematically it was all put in place, so that it was very hard for an innocent population (or individual) to react against it as it was being set up, or to even understand what might be going on.

Reading this link also reminds me, uncannily, of Rovian tactics and current propaganda. It seems that totalitarian tactics are totalitarian tactics, whether they are in service of communism, fascism, or capitalism.


***
j.m. greysky comment on Salon, 28 April 2007, "Local totalitarianism"
The yellow bull-doze cats knock down trees. They kill myriads of life forms. It sounds like fibula's' and femur, skull and white collar, elbow or chin, humor bones too, getting ground and crunched. The sound is as real as a skull bone cracking wide open from a rifle's gun in a war-zone. This is done for a fraudulent fake and deadly economy. A trap -- A noose. A slave block in each town.
Bebop-o, you've nailed it. It's this "fraudulent fake and deadly economy" that needs to be addressed as well. It's a form of totalitarianism. How chilling is China's Olympic marketing slogan, One World/One Dream? I think of it when I see Walmart(/China) systematically reaching its tentacles every 20 miles in virtually every county across the country.

I have a weed like that in my shrub border. I cannot yank it out by hand. It's a systemic weed.

Elected officials here are indeed within walking distance. But this is a crazy town. It has no sidewalks along the busy main road! (Also it has no comprehensive plan or zoning of any kind.) Such is the wisdom of the town elders. There are few pedestrians, only hulking cars. And, of course, the not-so-occasional heartbreaking roadkill. Once the 130 acres is paved over, and nature thoroughly banished here (a “killing field” indeed, bebop-o), I suppose there won’t even be roadkill.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

do I know you?

My dearest, up in the aerie on this cold gray day, I've sent a round of heat up once or twice. Have been struggling with my mood since around noon, when I received & opened what I think of at the moment as a "drive-by" message, that was completely unexpected, belated, blunt, graceless, and left me reeling. Which may mean that I'm too delikatna. This was a message from someone I have had very ambivalent impressions of over the years, I have tried to get myself to like her, but always I end up with these severe reservations. Let's just say that I feel less ambivalent about her at the moment.

***
message from Belle, 1 February 2011
Kochani - Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoyed myself visiting with you guys this weekend. Thank you so much for inviting me and clearing the couch so I could sleep over! ;-) D has been very, very appreciative of the kielbasa and ham you sent me home with...I really enjoyed talking to you, M, and getting to know you better. I do hope you'll come up sometime - I'd love to have you, or we can meet someplace, or whatever. Here's the link to the website of the radio station I was telling you about... I hope you two are doing well... Love, Belle

P.S., M, - if you do ever come up - I can't say that I could show you how to sew (I'm a rank amateur myself!) but there is a very cool shop up here that I enjoy going to. They manufacture very high-end home furnishings (linens, slipcovers, decorative pillows, curtains, etc.) for the likes of the Sund---- catalog and Bergd---. All obviously out of my price range - but alas, my taste! (So pesky - that disconnect.) Anyway, up in their dimly lit attic, they sell remnants, mostly for $1 per pound, with longer bolts priced a little higher, but still - very sharply discounted. I'm like a kid in a candy shop in that attic, with all the incredibly beautiful fabrics to be had for a song. I've made a lot of stuff for the house from these finds - for next to nothing. So anyway if/when you do visit - we could stop by there if you like. And also, to [stop into the garden nursery you expressed interest in]...


***
Message from M to Belle, 11 April 2011
Hi Belle - Meant to send you a thoughtful response - but life took over.
Today is the 71st anniversary of [your father's family's] deportation to Siberia.
Reality check!
Regards- M.
***
more later, dearest, I just have to get it out of my system, and it is a topic I have thought about, and will possibly post about a bit, digging into my archives of emails and online skirmishes on the Times and Salon...

***
I'm still feeling - how can a message from her of all people, have an upsetting effect on me? I do not wish to cede her such power.

***
Let me conclude with this. In an effort to calm myself down and feel even-keeled again, I opened the photo I possess of you peeling a clementine. I studied your beloved profile, zoomed in on your beautiful hands, a study in fingers opening the orange sphere (I thought of Emily Dickinson's words to her lover.... open me carefully). I focused in on your hands, isolated and enlarged them until they were the size of mine, and I touched the screen, the back of your perfect occupied hand, encircling the fruit, and I felt very comforted, soothed, and calmed.

I will post a bit related to this topic tomorrow, I have some bits & pieces gathering that I'd like to put down. I think I can promise this - housecleaning & a bout of cooking for the time being are behind me. So I can devote myself.

***
I hope all is well with you, darling.

***
Reality check?
????!!!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In the spirit of a google search yesterday evening -- belle kill chicken -- that landed on my blog. My response, darling, is: I'm happy to have had that positive transformative effect - it's contagious.

***
Countdown continues, keys on way. A day of housekeeping and cooking, vacuuming the upstairs vacuuming then dusting the downstairs baking frozen chocolate chip cookies making stock from frozen chicken carcasses making a kale chicken sausage pasta dish all while depending on where I was listening to KZE or watching episodes of Mad Men Season 4.

Made pesto, from fresh basil leaves and other great stuff, garlic, walnuts, EVOO, parmesan, to bringdown.

Worked out to L&O-SVU this morning at nine post-breakfast (strawberry pancakes), many pots on the stove already on the go in my cooking fest.

Back from a walk now, around here. Tree frogs ringringringring-ing, background noise in the surround as I walked. Are these lilliputian ringers (like a tiny Salvatian Army Xmas brigade) frogs? Do they live in trees? Possibly it's an insect. But no, I'm thinking - tree frogs, ever invisible, ever audible, just this time of year.

I'm in one of those moods where I'd rather be communicating with you in some mode other than tapping keys. Birds tweet outside, it's a mellow hour. A car door slams. The birds stop tweeting. I heard a cardinal on my walk sing wheat wheat wheat, not so much tutoyering. I wonder if that's a gender difference in cardinal calls? Don Draper cardinal, says it all with appreciative eyes as he lifts a glass to his lips, hey tu tu tu...

Darling, feeling close to you, but uninspired in the tapping department. Even Mr. J.A. says he doesn't write a poem every day. (Not that I do either, or aspire to.) But sometimes, oh just sometimes, I don't wish to use words, bah!, cast them aside for the moment, for kisses, for hugs, for lying with you in the night, our eyes adjusted to darkness, talking to you, stroking your face, hearing your murmur, my murmur, sometimes in two different tongues, but always the possibility of the same.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My dearest, languid afternoon, sultry, solo after my siesta, one wood blind drawn, the other open, wishing you were here. Desultory squawking of miscellaneous birds outside the screened window, now and then a gust of wind blasts. It was in the eighties today and storms are forecast for evening. Traffic thrums on the highway, the sound carries, I hear a car horn blast, incongruous sound for here, reminding me of Brooklyn. So very little to report today. I experimentally made up a tote bag from a sage-green floral print, using another tote as a template, but it didn't come out very well, amateurish, and of a size that is of hardly any use to me. I'm losing interest in this project, since the results (unlike the aprons) aren't very professional. I realize too that the fabric is too lightweight, a stronger canvas would be better.

I read a sublimely sensual short story today, by James Salter, entitled Sundays (text here). It reminded me of me & you - especially given an uncannily resonant detail towards the end; the story throughout reminded me of erotic imaginings of me & you. The story as written overlaps and interweaves with my fantasies.

I've never read James Salter, barely heard of him in fact, but I immediately responded to this story, and also to his remarks in this interview. I related to his observation, "... as a writer, I’m not tremendously imaginative. So I want to have my feet on the ground."

Salter has written novels and other fictions (clear displays of imagination), for which he is being currently feted. But I sense what he means. I feel that way about myself, that I'm not 'tremendously imaginative.' I can't invent all that has to go into a novel or short story. I'm puzzling how to invent my own life - as chronicled in this bitácora - let alone having the capacity or imagination to come up with alternative fictions. Everyday I Write the Book, as Elvis Costello puts it.

Just checked the KZE playlist, missed Let the Light In. My darling tinman. Outside a neighbor revs his motorcycle. Wind chimes breezily clang. Skies are in suspenseful gray, awaiting dusk & storms. I'm in a summer top and underwear. Perhaps, as I freely imagine, if I bringdown an art book about one of our favorite painters we can re-enact a scene, one that needn't, for us, be limited to a Sunday. And you know, a tube of graisse isn't a bad idea either.

Very many kisses.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

soft mild air
slightly humid
sun gleams through haze

so many signs of spring
bulbs coming up
creatures venturing out



sometimes in unexpected juxtapositions.












***
Dearest, how are you? I hope all is well with you. I'm feeling a little tired, in a pleasant mood, back from a walk around here, including on the soft brown pine needles of the trail behind the ancient churchyard cemetery. Soft footfalls, needles crunch underfoot, pine aroma rises around me, tiny saplings emerge green in the deciduous wooded surround...

I was very happy to get a message from my friends today, that they're mailing keys tomorrow and that I should be on the lookout. I breathed a sigh of relief to get the news - so all systems are "go" on this end. And darling, what a great idea, I will make pissalediere to bringdown. Sweet onions are on sale this week, I have olives, anchovies too... perfect. I make a variation - call it "pizzalediere" - that is on a homemade bread crust rather than on decadently butter-laden pastry (I leave that to be savored for dessert, in tiny pieces).

I am just sitting here in lamplight, alternately putting my chin in my hands, tapping at keys, sipping from an icefilled glass, thinking of you. A couple of times on my vitruvian fingers today I counted... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. That makes nine, single digits now, righthand pinkie remained down, and so will, one by one, my other digits, until the day before, like the Da Vinci, of St. John I think it is, will be one digit standing, pointing up.

***











***
So I've found the image, it's not precisely as I had recollected it... no matter.

***
Darling, I don't know what more to say right now, thinking of you, with a sense of baited breath, and of wonder.

***

Buried Lede

summery lunch
fresh mozzarella, ripe tomato
basil, mesclun
deconstructed on a plate
compressed into bite size bits
of Great Barrington baguette
previously captured quarry
defrosted in oven
tender basil
in heady expunged release
within fragrant creased folds
of plump yielding alabaster
squished with
deep dark goosh
incarnadine to the point of rupture
arranged, torn, inhaled,
savored, devoured

***

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dearest love, back up in the aerie after a few hours in town where I caught a recital that featured a wonderful young bass-baritone accompanied by an accomplished pianist, in a program of several very dramatic, beautiful songs. The songs, by Mussorgsky, Berlioz, Britten, and Offenbach, were very rich, textured, and complex, and the piano counterpoints very difficult. It was much less piano accompanying singing voice, than a collaborative duet between piano and voice. I barely understood a word, the songs were in Russian and French. The Britten was in English, a song from the Rape of Lucretia and apparently (as emerged from discussion after the recital) as beautiful and heartrending as the song is, the character really is contemplating, yes, rape, that results in the death of the heroine. Ah, well. I don't know - somehow I didn't need to know that.*

Not thinking it through now, letting it go like a lovely butterfly which by the way I did see one on my walk this afternoon by the creek. But it was camera shy and fluttered off.

(*Flaky footnote, I've been doing my pilates workouts weekdays at 9 a.m. when Law & Order SVU comes on (best I can do w/out cable). So I felt like the Mariska Hargitay character sitting in the audience listening to this beautiful music, you just can't ever get away from your day job now can you...)

***
I was having a strange day, feeling slightly off-kilter. Got distracted by a Poland Spring bottle that got stuck in the cupholder just as I was waiting to turn onto the main highway, and the wheels started to roll - oh yikes, I caught myself in time - but my God. That rattled me a bit, that I had allowed myself to become distracted as that. I am feeling jinxed in the driving department these days, a bit, I'm sorry to say. I am trying to be good.

On my way into town I drove - eyes wide open, proper slow speed - past a retirement home for firemen (as specialized as that) and outside the gate an elderly man stood, waving. I've heard that there's a "waver" around, some guy who waves at passing cars, I figured that was him. I waved, then glanced again - no, the old gentleman was frantically sticking out his thumb - he was trying to hitch a ride! Fortunately the speed limit in that spot is like 25 so I slid to a halt (without looking, but fortunately didn't get rear ended) and the gentleman bounded up to my car and I reached over and pushed open the passenger side door for him. He clambered in very gratefully. It was ten to four, he was trying to get to a Catholic Mass in town, his ride hadn't shown, and he was desperate. So I drove him there, we got there safely (!), and we chatted very amiably in the car. Actually he talked and talked and I clucked very sympathetically, I felt really bad for him, for his situation, and the zillions of others like him (and there but for the grace of God someday go us?). I said, how's it living in the firemen's home? He replied, fine if you're very sick. What if you're not? (This guy was elderly, but of healthy color, energetic, wits about him.) Then it's a prison. He complained how, for example, at lunch that day, they're required to appear in the eating area at a certain time, but lunch was delayed by an intolerably dull 35 minutes where he could have been doing something else and when it was finally served he found the beef inedible because he has false teeth so they gave him a peanut butter sandwich but there was only the faintest smear of peanut butter. (I don't know that I have the details completely right, I'm not exactly deposing myself here, as in a legal document. But that was the sorry gist of the tale he told.)

He told me a couple of times that he had been a fireman for 73 years. They threw him a big party when he retired. Wait, I said to him, I'm trying to do the math. How old are you - ninety? Ninety-four, he said.

The man did not look ninety. He was full of vitality, and I'm no geriatrics expert but I would have put him at late 70s, early 80s maybe.

There is a lot of life left in us.

I'm glad I was able to give him a ride. It meant a lot to him, and it meant a lot to me.

And I wasn't late for the concert, which was charming and wonderful in the venerable old Hudson opera house, and afterward I went to a literary reading of the freshest crop of international writers from the arts colony. Usually their events are held at their rural enclave, but today's was on the third floor gathering space above a streetfront wine shop. Wonderful noshes, various deliriously delicious cheeses, walnuts, crushed cranberries, thinly sliced sausage, artisanal baguette slices - a dream. I said to someone, I hope heaven includes spreads like this, he replied - we're in heaven now.

Indeed.

Very very many kisses my beloved dearest love, XOXO

the sun has set and outside the window birds twitter & Penelope slumbers on a cushion next to me

very many kisses and wishes for heaven - with you & me in it

XOXO

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cool gray afternoon, bulbs - scylla, hyacinth, daffodils shoots - are springing up here and there amidst the detritus of last year's untidied spent perennials. How are you, my love? I hope everything is well with you. I'm doing fine. Mellow day today, sewing the apron for my Brooklyn friends. For my next project I'm contemplating making sturdy tote bags for the supermarket, but beautiful ones, made from those exquisite remnants.

Do you like to go out on Friday nights? I never did back when I was working, I'd be much too exhausted after the work week and relieved simply to be home. But now that I am home all the time, the thought of going out is very appealing. It's 5:42 now, and I am just so glad that I am not on a jammed F train, or waiting for an F train, or worse, coming through GCT via MetroNorth at the end of the day to take the Lexington Avenue line down to Borough Hall. God I hated that commute from the Bronx, the two years I worked there. (I didn't always take pricey MetroNorth, a lot of times I took the subway all the way.) Two worst years of my adult life, I think. (I pause to think.) Yeah - definitely.

Actually, coming through Grand Central was nice, I have always loved arriving there, that is, stepping into the lofty cavernous canopied magical marbled space, the din & confusion & sepia light of the vast public hall. I have always loved it, and I'm old enough to remember its earlier down at the heels incarnation, when huge Kodachrome banners near ceiling level drew the eye, and the ladies room was filled, it seemed to very young me, with "bag ladies." These were women who now - that is, in the 1960s - were elderly and homeless, and had formed, it seemed, a community of their own, they had come up during the Great Depression I guess. No (doing the math) they weren't children then, they were young women, perhaps with husbands and families, perhaps without. Perhaps they had, as adults, lost everything during the Great Depression. And here they were inhabiting the chill tomblike ladies-only space. They were quite haunting, those gentle old women on their own, gazing, some of them, into my young uncomprehending eyes.

That's actually a nice, if slightly (from my point of view) romanticized memory of the place. I also remember passing by, time after time within the terminal, a Hoffritz shop window display. Now that I really didn't understand - still don't - the scissors, knives and other steel implements looked so utterly dangerous, decontextualized from any benevolent civilian use. Who was buying these things? And for what purpose? Or perhaps this array of lethal weaponry was meant to aggressively if subtly frighten arriving suburban commuters and - later, offpeak - housewives in town for a day.

My darling, where was I? Oh yes, possibly going out this evening. We're having leftovers here - sesame chicken, mashed potatoes, plus freshly steamed carrots & asparagus. I could really go for - oh let's see, I don't know, a lovely seafood pasta perhaps, in a lovely neighborhood restaurant that unfortunately no longer exists. Oh never mind. Darling, what I'm really in the mood for is simply to be with you. Perhaps at this very hour we'll cook something up for ourselves - seafood pasta even perhaps - and we'll compare notes from our delightful day (because we've been together, Peter Pan & Wendy, on vacation you & I), and we'll listen to the Brooklyn birds twitter, and peer down into the garden, and perhaps a squirrel will run up the fire escape to check us out, that is if we have the windows open, which it's possible we might because I heard that up here, 100-plus miles north of the city, it's supposed to be in the eighties this Monday, let alone the following Friday.

Darling, I'm just really looking forward to hanging out with you, letting our hair down, our hearts out, the light in, like that.

By the way, I have it in mind to make actual mazurek to bring down (along with a few other delicacies to tide us over before we have to venture outside to forage in the neighborhood - oh delightful task! - for meals). I was going to make a peach-almond-frangipane tart as a variation. Which I did, experimentally. And concluded - you know, it's like DNA - same main ingredients, but no, it isn't mazurek, it's peach tart. And mazurek it will have to be. I do hope you like it, that you're not more of a babka person. Well, I suppose details such as that are bound to get sorted out...

with highly anticipated XOXO
yours, Belle

Thursday, April 7, 2011

what wouldn't I give to inhale you deeply right now
inhaling you now in my dreams
as I sit here typing thinking of you
it's beautiful out, birds are twittering
I heard a frog croak from the pond
so I went to investigate
there was a plosh as it jumped into the deep
suspended on the surface were sacs of tadpoles-to-be
the garden is waking up
chives are coming up in one of the raised vegetable beds
in which I might grow just flowers this year
since in the past whatever we have with intensive labor grown
went to fatten rabbits deer groundhogs
and who knows what else
my vitruvian man
I am paying attention
to every beautifully proportioned angle of you
making my way down from head to toe
(well maybe not toe, I usually don't get as far as that)
inhaling all the way
imbibing but not too much
so that you can plunge like a frog
deep into the pool of me

XOXO

A Beautiful Duet


On the subject of mashups and My Erotic Double, the combination of the poem's reading with "Thank You For The Music" from Mamma Mia, as sung by Amanda Seyfried, is very beautiful. That is, I recommend playing the poem and the song together, at the same time.

***
From the 12534 blog, November 23, 2009:
... Here's my take on cues - but I'm very untechnical. Start Ashbery tape (starts w/title of poem & poet) to coincide with piano preamble of song. Poem will run out (it's 1 minute long) before song ends. Cue poem up again on second syllable of sung word "giving". Let poem rip again; voices & piano will merge again for another minute, when poem runs out but song continues. Let her continue to sing by herself until, again, she gets to 2nd syllable of "giving." Relax for about 1 minute. On third take, cue up poem for a beat after, not on 2nd syllable of "giving" but on "giving It" -- cue to start on "It".





image:
John Koch (1909-1978), Musicians (1937),
oil on canvas, 36 x 43-1/4 in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dearest, up in the aerie trying to figure out what to write (it rarely comes to me very easily). The most glorious spring day today, mild temperatures, got myself to the conservation area for a walk, just in layered sweaters, finally glimpsed the mountains again, muddied and wet the bottoms of my jeans as I made my way around the sodden melted park. So I'm sitting here now, trying to relax myself into some sort of reverie where something will come. Perhaps an image will prompt inspiration, so I peruse images (john koch portrait) and find this one, which (if cropped - three's a crowd) reminds me of you and me. You know, my darling tin man, perhaps I am the witch who did something for you, but you know, you've done a lot for me too, sitting there beside me enjoying whatever song I'm singing...

My darling, I have been feeling so unpoetic the last few days, maybe even a bit self-conscious. It was great fun hatching that post about the chance encounter with a Great Poet - that post almost wrote itself - it came out in a sudden torrent, like a downloading, and only needed tweaking afterward. Which is actually how that mash-up of his and Eliot's poem came about for me. I was having a lot of fun (at the time, November 2009) playing pingpong (as it were) over a period of months on the incredibly witty & brilliant 12534 blog.  Mr. North Fifth Street had posted (as I recall) the My Erotic Double video (I wonder who it is who so beautifully reads aloud that poem?), and I don't remember the exact sequence of events, exactly... except one afternoon something wyścieliło mi do głowy - shot into my head - or as Emily Dickinson would say, it's poetry if it feels like the top of your head is being blown off - somehow I linked those two poems together. They came together exceedingly quickly, in a matter of minutes, almost instantaneously. Most of the tweaking afterward had to do with punctuation (which I don't think I got perfect) and then the final "Peach?" The Ashbery ran out before the Eliot and, as a poetic masher I was a bit like a cartoon character running off the end of a cliff - great what now, where do I go, what do I do, before going straight down?

So writing & inspiration are a funny thing that way. I show up daily - tenacity for sure & hard work (I'm thinking of what Bob Schneider said on his Let the Light In promo video) - well, it's a process of sorts... it would look like loafing to many, searching around for clues, inspiration, wandering around, working out, thinking of you, putting together meals, sewing whatever, indulging spoiled cats -

Let me add that the other day I read an item that four heretofore long-lost letters written by Chopin have been rediscovered and are now on display in a museum or library in Warsaw. I read the item with interest and frustration, because it gave no clue to the content of these four runes. I've borrowed a volume (in translation) of his letters from the library, via interlibrary loan. I've been paging through it, listlessly. I am finding his letters rather boring - though I won't blame Mr. F. Chopin, the fault may lie in the volume as edited, chronologically but without annotations that would help contextualize the notes, to the extent that I found myself looking up Chopin's dates (1810-1849) so that I could figure out how old he was in the very first note, dated 1816. (For future readers of this copy, I noted his dates in pencil on the first page.)

Anyway, Chopin has me beat by a mile in the musician and piano department, but possibly my listy are a tad more entertaining than his. Then again, he was involved with George Sand, a writer whom I've never read - and I wonder what her letters might have been like, assuming she wrote some to him. I'm guessing that maybe she blew the top of his head off? But I don't know details of their biographies, and I've never read her...

My darling, and so I recollect with great joy & delight when you followed me from the kitchen and sat next to me at the piano...

On the menu tonight, sesame baked chicken, leftover mashed potato, salad dressing made - by me - with honeycup mustard, which I whisked together with lemon juice and EVOO --

all my love
listy
but in my mind's eye
when I think of you
illuminations

***
image:
John Koch (1909-1978), Musicians (1937),
oil on canvas, 36 x 43-1/4 in.