Sunday, December 14, 2008


Delicious. The cabbage sprouts add just the right crunchy tang to the chicken and tomatoes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jar ll

The crop is about ready to be harvested . First, a day or so in the window to get some sunshine to make things greener.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Gardener Returns

I had forgotten how much fun it was to be a farmer, um, gardener.
Farming implies actual ride-able machines, so maybe not farming.
Gardening, vegetable gardening is the growing of food.
I am growing my own food. Okay, some of my own food. Okay! Okay! I'm just sprouting seeds, but it's like gardening only without the scraping around in the earthy muck.
Sprouter just doesn't have the same pop as Gardener.

A customer came in the other day and asked if anyone knew how to sprout cabbage seeds.
I knew. Back in my hippie days I sprouted wheat, mung beans, alfalfa and cabbage. yum.

I showed him the Mason jars and the food-grade cheese cloth and gave him a two minute recital on rinsing and waiting. (Most seeds will sprout in about three days after soaking in water the first night and getting a rinse twice a day after that, but it's the setting in the window to get some sunshine that makes almost any sprout extra tasty.)Anyway, he shows back up three days later with a big smile and a thanks and a bag of organic cabbage seed for me.
I've already grown a batch and, not only do they punch up a salad, but it is also such a satisfying experience.
Joe(photos=== that will be dull as mud=== to follow)Nation

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sweet Tea Moonkiller Plays a Joke on a Coyote Boy

What am I thankful for? Ah. Hmm. It was just before the summer break that my father’s trial for trying to kill my mother began and they decided that I should be sent away. I’m thankful for that. My mother wanted to attend the trial every day and sit behind the defense table to lend him support. Ah. Leon, that’s him, had blamed me for everything and Squint, that’s her, well, let’s just say that I had never been her favorite daughter. The other two, Lillian and Marcella, were gone about two years by then, up to Colorado and Wyoming to work in the kitchen shacks of sheep ranches. Yes, two years, that’s right. Anyway, none of Leon’s Reese side of the family would take me. They believed him. My mother’s family hemmed and hawed about it for days. I didn’t blame them. I was, in my mother’s words, a fourteen year brass-assed brat of a girl. One by one, first, the sisters and then the aunts, then the grandmothers all said “Sorry.” or “Can’t just now.” Or something like that. That’s how I ended up going to stay with my great-aunt, Sweet Tea Moonkiller.

Squint and I took the long drive up from Tulsa to Nelogany. Nelogany, if you can even find it on a map, is in the middle of nowhere and Sweet Tea’s house, if you can call it that, was on the far edge of nowhere. We got there about mid-morning. It was a cold day for May. One of the front windows was halfway open and a curtain had been pulled out partway by the wind, signaling to us as we drove up. I got out of the car and walked up onto the porch with my little suitcase. My mother motioned that I should knock on the door, but I just turned the handle and walked in. “Hello?” I said loudly, “I’m here. Hello?” There was no one there. I turned and went out of the door. “Okay.” I yelled, “See you later! Bye!” She backed the car down the driveway and gave me a little wave. Two beeps on the car horn and she was gone up the road.

Her name wasn’t really Sweet Tea, it was Su-et-ti-ah which means Swamp Dog, what most people call an otter. My father used to say it meant Smells Like Wet Dog, but he never knew anything Osage or much of anything else. I didn’t know any of that then, this was forty years ago. I just knew what my sisters told me, her kids were all grown, she lived herself, she was a little crazy and Sweet Tea Moonkiller had the powers.

I wandered around the house for awhile. We, my mother’s family, weren’t Moonkillers anymore. Most of us shortened the name to Moon. One uncle, Redbird Moonkiller, had changed his first name to Bert and his last name to Mooney, better for the oil business, I guess. The powers, my sisters said, were kind of magical and kind of not so special, some were weird and some my mother told my sisters to shush up about. Sweet Tea, so they said, could point at a cloud and it would shrivel and disappear. If she saw a crow flying she could make it turn left or right or go back to where it came from. Once a horse was dying of the strangles and she was called to come look. When she walked in the barn the horse got up and shook himself and was fine as could be. A lady who was there started yelling that Sweet Tea was using the Devil to do good. "Shucks," she’d replied," since when does the Devil do good works? "Then she left, but people did a lot of talking my sisters said. Oh, and I almost forgot, she could talk to coyotes. Ah.

I went outside, looked for the well. The house had been added onto several times, a mudroom off of the kitchen, a fairly large workshop with a big window that was covered by a big blue tarp and duct tape and a kind of lean-to that stretched almost twenty yards out into the backyard. The pump was in there surrounded by garden tools, some peach baskets filled with potatoes, some hard squash. There was a cup chained to the pump handle. I had a long, cold drink. I remember the taste of that drink even today.

Ah, but let me get to the story you want to hear. All of a sudden here she was in front of me wanting to know who I was. I hadn’t seen her since I was five or six. The family had gone to a three day drum ceremony. I remembered her as bigger, but here she was about as tall as me with a big round face like my aunt Celeste. She was carrying a long stick and not looking too happy. We were in the side yard by the woodpile. I said I was Leon Reese’s kid, Squint’s kid, ChiaChia Reese. She said “Well, what are you doing here?”

She didn’t know anything about me coming. I told her about two words about the trial, she said “Unh.” I told her about the other aunts. She said nothing. I said one of the aunts was supposed to call Mae Quicktree since Sweet Tea had no phone and she was supposed to walk over and ask her about it. She said she had seen Mae up on her porch one day, but she figured she just wanted to borrow something so she had stayed in the woods until Mae left. I said I could start hitching back to Tulsa, but she said there won’t be a car on this road for two days, but she didn’t mind me staying so long as I would help out. I thought about it, maybe it was my mother’s little wave, maybe it was my father now so far away, safely far away, maybe it was the drink of water. I said I would stay. So that was my welcome.

Yes. Yes. I know, thankfulness. I’m getting to that. First, I cried for a week, a brass-assed brat just crying her eyes out and Sweet Tea didn’t say a word to me about it. She’d ask me to go get water or wood and I’d go and come back crying the whole out and back. She’d cook something, eggs and grits, or some kind of fried potatoes and greens and we’d eat and I’d sniffle. We’d work all day in the garden or fixed up something or just cleared some space in the junk in the yard. At night you could see every star in the universe and listen to the coyotes.

Sweet Tea was one of those people who look old but aren’t. Her eyes were surrounded by folds of brown skin darker than the rest of her face. She had a little stoop in her shoulders and she favored her left side when she walked, always with a stick of some sort for support. When she pulled her hair back before bed, she revealed two ears that seemed huge to me, the right one had a V-notch cut out at the top. She wore dresses but she always wore a pair of jeans under them and boots, the lace-up kind, when she went out in the woods.

Okay, so one day after the crying had stopped for a few days, she says to me, “Are you going to tell me what happened?” And I said, “No.” She said, “Okay.” And we went back to work hoeing the garden of beans, peas, squash, carrots and some other stuff. I turned to her after a while and said “Will you tell me something?” She just stopped and nodded. “Will you tell me about the powers?” And she laughed so hard she scared a couple of birds out of the trees.

We went to the well to rest; it was a hot June day by then. She wanted to know which powers I was talking about and I said I had heard she could make clouds disappear. “Hmmh”, she nodded her head a little, “Most anybody can do that.” And I asked her about making a crow turn right or left or go back and she said she didn’t think anybody could that. Then I asked about the curing, she said “Shucks.” I didn’t know what to think so I asked about talking to coyotes. “Oh,” she brightened up, “My, yes, that’s fun.” She took a drink from the cup. “Tell you what. I’ll take you out for a coyote talk if you will tell me what happened.” That started the crying all over again.

I’m sure there was a July that year, but I don’t remember it at all. No one came for me. In August I saw Mae Quicktree in her truck and asked if she had heard anything, she hadn’t. Sweet Tea and I picked everything out of the garden before it frizzled in the heat. We pickled and packed all the beans and tomatoes and peas and squash into jars and put them down in the cellar. September came. Mae Quicktree walked up to us in one of the fields and told us that Squint’s phone had been disconnected and none of her sisters knew where she was.

That’s when I told.

I remember now, just now, I didn’t cry the first time I told Sweet Tea what happened, I just told it out, brass-assed brat, his hands, his breath, his whispers. She sat in the porch chair and listened.

That night we went on our first coyote talk. There was a half-moon. We took blankets and walked way out past the woods to the edge of a section of tallgrass. This is a good time, Sweet Tea said, the coyote boys are just beginning to look for girlfriends, we can have some fun. First, we just listen to see who’s out there. We listened. There came some howls way off. “That’s Big One, he’s too old, we can’t fool him, we have to listen for some young ones. Hunker down.”

We waited. Pretty soon there was a series of yipping noises and then a long howl. Sweet Tea answered with some yips of her own and finished with a kind of woof.
“I’m telling them I’m here.”
More howls followed. Sweet Tea woofed and yelped and crooned, it was so musical.
“I’m telling them, there’s two of them, that I’d like to meet up with one of them.”
That led to several howling matches with Sweet Tea interrupting along the way.
“I said I was hungry.”
Sweet Tea was so happy, I couldn’t see her face in the dark, but I know it must have been shining.
“Oo, they want to know if I want a chicken or a rabbit. I told them a rabbit, I don’t want them getting in anybody’s chicken house.”
Then she started really laying it on, yip-yips and long low snarly kind of oo-woos. There were answers to her from just off to our left and we could hear something crashing around in the grass in front of us.

And then, there he was. A coyote about as big as a collie, maybe a little shorter, definitely a lot skinnier and in his mouth was a flailing, screaming rabbit.
“Woof, woof” cried Sweet Tea and the coyote dropped the rabbit and ran like the dickens. We rolled around in laughter. The look on his face when he saw us, my oh my.

“How long have you been doing this?”
“Oh, since I was a kid. There’s not much to do out here in the grass.”
“Do you think you could teach me?”
“How good can you listen?”

That when the listening started. The next night after supper we went to go sit on the porch. We were going to listen to coyotes, but first she wanted me to listen to something. “I’m going to tell you back what you told me, you tell me if I have it right.” And then she did. She told me the whole story as if it was happening to her, that’s the Indian way of telling stories, not like the one I’m telling you now. One person tells, the other listens and then tells the story back. When she was finished, she said, don’t tell me what I got wrong or right, just tell it again.

So, I did. I told the whole story over, the whole two years, the hands, the eyes, the whispers and that time I did cry. Then Sweet Tea Moonkiller told my story back to me again and this time the story seemed to float between us and then drift off.

We listened to the coyotes deep into the night.

By Thanksgiving Day, Sweet Tea and I had traded my story back and forth many, many times. I started going to school in Pawhuska, late, the month before. My name was as it is now, Patricia (Chia chia) Moonkiller. Leon was in jail, no one knew exactly for how long but, after Bert Mooney drove me down to the District Attorney ‘s office in Tulsa and I told my story, he was sure to spend some time longer. This was in the days when it only took a few words to right people at McAlester prison to make a parole hearing disappear. My sisters and I began to write each other, to share our stories, we’ve never stopped. Squint Moon-Moonkiller Reese was never heard from again. I’m not thankful for that.

If you watch enough clouds they will talk to you. They will tell just about everything about themselves, where they have been, where they are going and, this is important, when they are deciding to disappear. That’s just about when you tell someone you are going to make it happen and then you point, the cloud disappears and everyone gasps. Huh. It wasn’t like the cloud didn’t just tell you.

If you listen to enough coyotes, you can learn their names, who’s got a mate and who’s looking for one. Which one has a new den and territory, (so watch out and keep out) and who has shacked up with a coydog from over the next hillside. You can learn the yips, the woofs and barks. You learn to yodel out the right howls for the right moment.

If you listen to your story many, many times and tell your story many, many times it becomes both part of you and part of something beyond you. And the pain of it goes softer. It never goes completely, it is always with you, but it doesn’t get in your way of pointing at clouds or living your own life.

So, what am I thankful for? I’m thankful Sweet Tea stayed in the woods when she saw Mae on the porch. I asked her about that later, if she would have said yes.

“Oh no, she said, pulling my hair, what would I want with a brass-assed brat like you?”


Monday, November 24, 2008

To See the Future, Stand on the Edge of Dreaming

No meeting should last longer than one hour, that was a rule Russell had followed throughout his whole career. So it was like sitting on sandpaper to be in Mr. Eric Emerson's office for more than two and half hours, even if it was really sitting on a butter soft leather sofa while listening to the weasel weasel on and on about what had to be done. What had to be done, of course, at the holidays, is let people go. He hated the words "letting people go', it sounded like you were doing them a favor when you were about to start them down a road filled with uncertainty.

He had in his hand a list of fourteen names. He had had the list now for over two hours, all that time had been spent listening to Emerson bloviate on 1) why a letter would be better than breaking the news in person (Weaseling 101), 2) what might be seen as the future of the company once the current crisis had been dealt with, or at least, enough "fat had been trimmed from the bones" (he had said that fat phrase too many times to count) and 3) describe in detail his weekend of putting up the boats for the winter. Russell just wanted to get on with it, He wanted to go out into the office and start telling people, but Emerson wanted him to draft that letter and to have it to him by Friday morning, which was tomorrow. I know, he said, short notice, quick action, got to be done though, then it has to go to legal, and so on and so on, so have to get on this, be efficient, be sharp, get on it,
quick, quick, quick. He loved talking that way, he made it sound like that Christmas carol, what was that song anyway?

Looking out the window, he could see the day fading, getting grayer with cold, across the room Emerson was droning on about how he had not known how much water there was in gasoline. He was the worst kind of boss to have, the kind that everyone knows is an idiot except for his boss who hired him and thinks he is a wonder. Wonder, winter wonder, winter wonderland, Russell felt himself starting to drift off into some other state of being, he was thinking about rooftops. He had to stick a finger in his right ear to bring himself back. The droning from the behind the desk had stopped. He feared for just a moment that he had been asked a question, but when he looked up it was just Emerson standing there, offering him his hand to shake. He shook the hand and Emerson started off again about how no one was really secure these days, not much tidings of joy, he knew that.

Russell headed back to his office. He sat down at his desk and clicked the blinking New Mail icon on his monitor. His ex had sent him a Christmas card. Doves. Falling snow. A pair of deer under an arching banner that read “Peace on Earth.” He noted she had not added anything about goodwill towards men, especially towards him. There was a little note pad there in front of him and he wrote: There is no easy way to put this: our company has decided to ..... No, that's awful. He started again, this time on the computer screen. Emerson had said he wanted it to be professional yet personal. There's nothing more personal then firing a person, he thought, and here it was, just ten days to Christmas, Chanukah already started. He typed Dear Fill in Employee Name and then stared at the cursor waiting for it to tell him the rest.

It was no good. Nothing came to him. It was getting towards six o'clock and he thought he would go home, have dinner, write the letter, email to himself and Emerson and then go to bed. He crossed the big room filled with cubicles; computer screens all blank and dead-eyed, chairs and tables holding down the floor, a little Christmas tree on the receptionist's desk still had it's red and green LEDs shimmering in the darkness.

On the subway ride home he looked at all the people jammed together. Bundled up for the cold outside, they now had to open their coats and jackets in the heated car. What would it be like for any of them to get the letter he was about to write? No, that wasn't the way to think about this. All these people here, the guy trying to hog the whole middle pole, the woman with the huge hoops earrings and the hissing-shhishing earphones, the three fellows pressed next to each other in the doorway talking about whether there would ever be another Yankee World Series win, they were all strangers, the fourteen people on the list he had known for years. He had hired more than half of them, trained and re-trained all of them to work as part of his team. Several of them he had known for years, the new guy had only been there six weeks.” We are your neighbor’s children that you have seen before. Love and joy come to you.” Dear Blank, he thought, Despite all your hard work, the company says "Screw you very much."

The cursor on his home computer was even less informative than the one at the office. He spooned up the last of the lamb stew he had made on Sunday, drank a glass of wine, watched the first half of the ten o'clock news, set the clock for 5AM and climbed into bed.

Scientists know a lot, but they don't know why we sleep. They know we do it and they know that during sleep we dream. Hundreds of thousands of images flow through our dreaming brain, but we haven't any real sense of why it happens the way it does. We know more about the bottom of the Pacific's Mariana Trench than we do about what goes on just two inches inside our own skulls. So, here was Russell Freeman standing on the edge of dreaming, not awake and not yet asleep. He waited. Sleep would come. Sleep in heavenly peace, he sighed. But it didn’t come. Or maybe it did but it didn’t feel like sleep. Russell started to see things, to think thoughts. Faces swam by, he saw hallways, a doorway, he guessed that next he would hear chains rattling, but instead he thought he heard the ding of an elevator stopping in his bedroom. His mind couldn’t figure out if he was awake or dreaming or someplace in between. Voices spoke – and now what for you? one asked over and over. Quick, quick, quick. He stayed like that for an hour, maybe two hours, the thoughts of the coming day banging in his head and then quieting, then banging in his head again. There is no rest on the edge of sleep. He turned on his side, he turned on his belly, and he turned on his other side, that’s when he saw someone coming towards him. A man, dressed in a blue suit and tie, holding in his hands two stacks of envelopes. On one stack was written: From Russell, Open Now, he couldn’t see what was written on the other stack.

Freeman raised his head and looked around in the dark surprised not to see the blue suit heading out the door. He looked for the envelopes. He turned his pillow over; it was as cold as a snow bank. I know what’s written, Russell said to himself and he fell deeply into sleep.

The weasel's letter was done before the espresso had to be steamed.
"Dear Employee:
Despite every effort, yours included, to maintain the financial stability of our company; we have regretfully come to the decision to cutback on this office's personnel. .... ."

The second letters had taken a little longer. Each of the fourteen was slightly different, he included individual memories of each person’s triumphs and growth, he wished them the very best of everything and assured each one that they could depend on him recommending them for any job in the future. He printed them out as he took his shower. He took each one and put it in an envelope and wrote on it, From Russell, Open Now.

Emerson loved his letter. He clapped Russell on the back as they left his office together. Now it was Legal’s turn to have a look at it. It didn’t look like he had exposed the company to any ramifications, he said, that would be messy, so it should all be ready by this afternoon. Russell nodded and headed back down the hall to his office. His stack of letters was in his desk drawer. He went straight to his work, he had to think about what it would be like to work with the smaller staff; who would have to take over what sections, how to partner and re-partner the teams. It was bitter work, tasting ashy and without satisfaction, except for the one extra deletion he made. He saved the file and attached it to an email for Emerson. He didn’t hit send. He ordered in lunch as he normally did and he waited for word.

Emerson came in his office right about one thirty PM, looking just a little pale and, Russell thought, a little excited. He placed a folder onto Russell’s desk and said “Here they are. You can pass them out whenever.” Then he left. It was just after three when Russell started making the rounds, early enough, he thought, for people to gather their thoughts and the majority of their things, late enough not to have lost the entire day’s work effort. He went quickly from desk to desk, handing the envelopes to the people who were there, leaving the others for the recipient to find when they returned. No one said anything.

He returned to his office and sat down. There, in the middle of his desk, was an envelope addressed to him from Mr. Eric Emerson, Senior Vice President:
Dear Russell:
Despite every effort, yours included….. .
There was an addendum at the bottom requesting that Russell stay long enough to figure out the new staffing arrangements. Now he hit Send. Emerson would get his new team chart without Russell’s name on it only three seconds after Russell got his letter. That ought to be quick, quick quick enough.

Russell looked out his window. Flakes were falling in that dreamy slow motion way you see in the movies and email cards. There were no noises coming up from the street, all was calm and bright. He shut his computer off, turned off his office lights and headed out into the big room to say his good lucks and goodbyes and give a few hugs, a few tidings of comfort and joy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Novels that Write Themselves//Chapter One

Woman on bus on cellphone.
We only hear her.

..and you listen to me, Arthur. She never...
..... .. .. .
You what?
You told her? When?
Oh god,
You idiot. You told her, OH God. Oh my God.
Arthur, Arturo, Jesus, listen for a second.
No, listen.
Arthur, she not your boss, she's your wife. She's my boss.
How am I supposed to go to work tommorrow?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday night movies

Friday night movies
Over the river and through the crowded sidestreets of Englewood, NY to some huge, empty, theatre to see 'W', except 'W' wasn't playing (lucky me) so we went for Angelina Jolie.

(When they ask the question "Are those real?", they are asking about her lips.)

Got good news today, a lawyer friend sent me the language I need to start writing up the agreement. Now to flesh it out. Spent part of today doing that and roasting a chicken.

I got my volunteer discount for working the Marathon, so I bought myself a Shine in the Dark winter hat. I could have used it last night and today as the drizzles continued on and off through this morning's run.

What else?

Thought about joining a club to train with, found a few that might fit.

I have a recommendation for all of you. You should all have a friend that you have known for over 45 years. She should be bright, curious about life and politics, deeply involved in her work, yet able to find time to be actively concerned with the well being of her family and, more importantly, her oldest friend.
She should be able to pick out an inexpensive wine to go with the dinner after the movie that tastes pretty good and she should be able to graciously accept your offer to pay for the movie tickets because she is doing all the driving around the suburbs. (Hey. We saw a sign that said GAS $1.99. Very exciting.)

Ms. Jolie is always better then I think she will be, and she is good in this movie, Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood. Clint ended this movie about four times which was wearing, but each new ending sequence was well done and perhaps necessary to fill in the missing pieces of the story. Her lips floated above and around about the whole film.

Dinner at Max's was great. The waiter listened to everything I said and I got my fish grilled, not pan-fried and I got the extra anchovies on my Caesar Salad just like I like. It was great to talk to a person for a couple of hours without once thinking you needed to solve a problem.

When I got home I pulled all the meat off of the bones of the chicken and packed it in bags in the freezer. Many lunches, so little time.

Joe(Her lips floated above and Oh wait, I already said that)Nation

Friday, November 14, 2008

Start By Oversleeping

First: the morning.
I never oversleep except I did this morning. It could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. I woke at 6:10 am instead at 5. There was still time to make the espresso, eat a half of a grapefruit with a piece of wheat toast. Turning on the radio for the weather forecast I heard a ad for Poise, that's a pill you give out to help your dog get rid of stress.


There are several things that could bring stress to us non-dogs these days. It's important, they tell us several times each morning on the subway ride downtown, that we take note of any unusual activity on the platforms or in the cars. We are supposed to be on the lookout for any unattended packages or backpacks and report them to any nearby police officer.

My own theory on this is this:
that by the time the police officer returns to investigate,
the reported, unattended, bag will have already been stolen.

I keep expecting to see a news report about some shmuck who gets blown up while running up the stairs with a backpack not his own.

We all need to be aware of how precipitous our national economic condition is and be on the alert for the Flu, both the type we get from pigs and the type we get from birds. We must decide now whether to start wearing plaid.

Cats have stress but they hide it better. They stay under beds until well after midnight and then slink around through the darkness.

We must watch what we eat and be aware of what is eating on us.
We have to take note of who amongst us does not have Killer White Teeth.
We should be on the lookout for other stains. And strains.
If we are already victims of gang stalking we ought not allow ourselves to be on a dark street late at night alone and thereby be singularly mugged.

In addition to the Poise pills, available in Quick or Long Lasting, the NYTIMES reports there is a seminar for people to take in order to learn how to de-stress their distressed dogs. Belly scratching is perhaps not as good as drugs.

The guy sitting one guy over from me on the train this morning was exuding so much scent of Marijuana that I was surprised to look up and not see the smoke surrounding his head like a wreath.

You can't get a cat to take a pill easily, especially an already stressed one, it would be easier to teach one to smoke a big doobie on it's bad days.

What was stressing me today was not being late and missing my morning workout, what was getting me was I had trimmed my thumbnails too short.

Now: the run home.
I had to go to Niketown at 5th and 57th Street to pick up my chip and shirt for Sunday's God's Love We Deliver race. It was drizzling rain. Photographers were out in force because drizzling rain makes the edges of the city softer. It makes everybody else just a little grim.

Plaid is supposed to be making a comeback this year but you wouldn't know it from the windows at Bloomingdales. Nary a plaided person anywhere to be seen.
What I did see were several people who might be in need of swiping some of their dog's Poise.
There was the guy with the flat tire, dressed to go somewhere but facing a wrestling match with a wheel.
Two woman were steaming at the corner of 57th and Lexington with one yelling into her cellphone about "The next thing I know Heather is calling me!". The other woman staring at her in fierce, nodding, agreement.

I picked up my shirt. I choose a Medium. No more extra larges or larges for me.
They had no bags, so I had to clip the safety pins and the race number to the shirt and roll the whole thing up and run with it tucked under my arm.

There was another tense guy at 59th Street by the Park. He had his arm outstretched and was screaming into the phone in his hand but at a pitch and volume that made it impossible to understand a single word he was spitting, er, yelling. I wonder what he sounded like at the other end?

The park was lovely, dark and deep and drizzly. I shut my MP3 player off and listened to the whispers and wisk-wisk-wisk of my shoes. Up the hill by the reservoir turn, a man was telling his big retriever to hurry up and cross the road. The dog sort of moseyed on over, not in any rush, happy to be in the park even in rain. She picked up her pace once across and nuzzled up to her guy. I don't think there is any Poise back at their house.

Oh, I almost forgot. When I cut my thumbnails too short, it's really hard to type anything on my phone. There are a lot of typos, but I didn't yell at the phone. Not even once.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Election Day
Well, the precinct where I vote, where, if there is a line, the line has maybe twenty people in it, but this morning at 6:04 am there were two hundred and fifty folks, all thinking that they were going to be first in line. I, at least, thought I would be in that line of twenty. People were getting on the phones and telling others about "the line goes all the way to the corner " and "Not to worry, stop, get the coffees, I will definitely not be inside when you get here. But get here."
"I love voting in an elementary school. I think all schools have the same smell."
Just inside the door. I tell the man posted there that I am in Precinct 71. He wants to see the orange-red notice that is sent out that confirms that, or I have to stand in another line for someone to look it up. "Let me see if I have this right. I know my voting precinct but you want me to wait in that line until someone tells me what I already know."
"Please." he says.
I wait in the line.
I get to the table.
"What address?" says the nice lady.
I tell her and then say "that's #71."
"If you knew you didn't have to wait here"
"Mention that to that very official person over there." and I give him a big wave and a smile.
I go to 71, there is no line. That's good because now I am late. I sign the book. I go to the booth, pull the curtain and change history.

In New York City, we still are using voting machines from the 1960's. You pull a big handle over to "the voting position" reach up and twist these little toggles next to each name. Click click click click click then you pull the handle back, cra-clunk! There is a nice physical feel to the process.

Out I go into the crisp day, I jog over to the subway and then remember that I wanted to see how long the line was by then. People are going to be late for work. Good. The country should stop on election day, shouldn't it?
They weren't handing out any "I voted" stickers, that was disappointing, I would have liked one. I would even have like to have my finger dipped in ink, a deep Democratic Blue would have perferred, but Purple would be really fine.

Purple, that's the color you get when you combine Red and Blue.

Joe(It's the real color.)Nation

Monday, November 03, 2008

Amongst the villagers

my day
Everybody has a story.
Tonight I'm coming around the corner of the stairs when I hear the guy telling the guy just ahead of me his story. This one's about how he can't figure out what's wrong with his metroCARD, that he just put ten dollars on it but now it doesn't work and he needs to send it in to be fixed but right now he has to get downtown to see his mother. So if you just have just a dollar to help him with the fare. ....... ,
About a hundred yards from this cadger's spot, on the way up the hill this morning, I met a runner coming down the hill saying "Yes,yes ,Yes!!" with a nice hard hiss on the last yes. There was some victory in his story, a finish worthy of this bright Sunday.

Meanwhile, across town on First Avenue the crowds were gathering to cheer and cowbell the runners of the marathon. I watched for a while. Brimming.
I saw Paula go by. Running so fast and ten, no, twelve women hanging onto her heels. ah
Then went to work.
There were the usual.
Paint. Hanging Pictures. Holes to be made or filled.
A knife sharpener. An LED flashlight.
Late, a woman came in. She'd been cleaning the floors in her father's apartment when she made the mistake of plugging the floor cleaner into the same socket as her father's heater.
Something blew.
Now the heater was off and his hospital bed was inoperable.
She cried on the phone to her husband who was somewhere.
We explained how to re-set the breakers.
She was brave.
She was tired.
She was afraid that she had killed her father.
At five forty five I reached the Park from the 6 train. The cops were all standing around and the barriers had all been taken down. Here we were seven hours since the start. Paula had long been the winner and was probably having dinner somewhere.
Then, I saw them, not in a bunch but singled up. One just up there, then a couple trotting slowly together.
Forty people I'd say I saw in the two miles to to the 23 mile turn into the Park.
Forty finishers all on their way to their yes yes yes moment.
Two blind runners and their guides.
An ancient man closely accompanied by a younger woman.
A man with one leg and one very badly malfunctioning apparatus.
A weeping woman and a man with a prosthesis at the 25 mile banner.
One really old man all by himself in the darkness.
A big woman with a backpack pacing along as if it were noon.

They were two miles and two tenths from the end and their story, their yes yes yes moment.

Joe(I hope you all had your moment today)Nation

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Crashes are never good, But hey..... .

Lesson 1
Lesson 3,897,345 dot 2
Don't change anything that is working.

I knew that.

Why... oh, never mind.

I am happy to be here.

Where was I?

I don't remember exactly.
Did I mention that the RED SOX are the salvation of humanity?

Mebbe not.

You should know two things: I ran another Half Marathon today and, if I may say so myself, I ran as hard as I could the whole way. That was my goal and I did that.
(It is still disconcerting, to be amongst so many people and have no connection with any of them.)
I met a very lovely British woman on the train going home, I met two Irish Expatriates on the ferry going home, I met two German fellows who will run the ING Marathon next year in New York (ME TOO!) I met the British woman's brother.
Is there a friend amongst them?

Isn't that odd?

I have to discover what I should have learned in junior high school.
How to make friends.

I know people like me. (They come into the store on Fridays (my day off) and Ford reports that they are sorely disappointed that I am not there. They respect my honesty and my humor. Which is all I have to give.

Which is all I have to give.

Enough for now. I have to go and see if I got a PR for the Half Marathon today.

Joe(Still running as fast as I can)Nation

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just then


her best friend asked me

and I told her,

just as I've told all of you,

that I was in love until the last moment,

that I never gave up on L.,

that I never gave up Love,

that I got up to go to work

on the morning she was leaving

and looked at her sleeping in my bed

and I said,

"I said 'Goodbye.' "

Just then and just then,

as the goodbye slipped out and down,

my love died.

I hardly felt it go.

Maybe that's what death feels like,

one moment here,

the next breath,


But no pain,

just then, just then, just then.

Pain isn't due to arrive with his bags until night falls.

I like to think upon that last moment of love.

She looked so small,

there upon the mattress,

the covers needing a fluffing,

a cat asleep near her furthest foot.

Love breathing her last shallow rhythms,

her last shining feelings,

the last few grains of her time,

then just then, gone.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Photography Night

Make up your own captions.

It will be better for everyone that way.


The Queens Half (Marathon, that is.)

Clock didn't go off.
I woke up anyway.
Checked the radar for excuse.
No rain.
Actually laid back down and had the following conversation with myself:
Screw it.
What are you going to do instead?
Sleep. Now shut up.
Are you going to run later?
Yeeees. (pounds pillow)
How far?
I'll do about 10 or so.
Sooo, you are going to sleep now instead of getting up and going to the Queens Half so that later you can run almost the same distance.
(gets up, gets dressed, grabs bag and gatorade and big piece of toast. Out the door in two minutes flat. It's 3:52 am)

=I just got home. I'm showered and I had a nice lunch and now I'm going to lay down for an hour=

The race was fun. I met several really nice people, especially a (too young) Michelle whom I rode over from Manhattan to Queens with, sat and talked with for two hours while we waited for the start and ran with for about the first three miles. No, I didn't get her last name (she's too young, remember.) But I think I will see her again, we run about the same speed (when I am not two days after a roto-rooter expedition.)

I did really well I think. The procedure did take a lot out of me. Har har. but seriously, I brought along three Energy Gels and took one just before the start, one at six miles and one at nine and half miles and, I think, they really made the difference for me today.

I was about fifteen minutes slower than usual but that was as good as I could do.

I am taking myself out for a drink and a steak tonight.

Joe(two hours, twenty three minutes and fifteen seconds)Nation

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sometimes If You Run Too Fast

A nine mile ramble

SOMETIMES if you run too fast you will miss many many things that are all around you.
Hanna took down this tree, but it provided in it's last day on earth, a photographic bonanza for hundreds of folks. I passed this downed tree at least three tines and each time there was a family or a group of friends having their pictures taken in the frame of the tree.

Further on the cops and the fire department were on the scene of a stupid accident.
One idiot (got a dollar was on a cell or had the music up so LOUD he couldn't think straight) ruins a perfect Sunday for someone.

Trotted along the path for awhile and then got just the right postcard shot under the George Washington Bridge.

Really a beautiful day

There were whole families doing multiple fire barbeques. There were shirtless guys, off their bicycles, enjoying the sun and the breeze. There were thousands out in this perfect September Sunday air.

I ran about nine miles in about two hours. I did a lot of stopping. I did a lot of looking and liking, what a great city this is.

Joe (can such air be bottled?)Nation

The Fellow I Live With

Fellow I live with is funny.
He got up early to go on a long run yesterday,
but then get involved in changing the beneficiaries on some Life Insurance.
That took some looking up of addresses and emails
and getting the scanner to actually scan.

So, he didn't go run, but that was good
because his son called
and they talked for over a half hour.

And he did the laundry,
filled and ran the dishwasher,
washed the dust layer off of the radiators,
cleaned the A/C filter,
put the dishes and the wash away,
moved the living room furniture around (again),
got the mail and read the Co-op monthly report therein,
put a Yew shrub to be placed in the front of the building on his credit card,
met the grocery delivery guy at the door and then put away the groceries,
made a large martini,
made and ate dinner,
got a second phone call from the son
in which they decided some things for the future
while he spread a coat of floor polish over the entrance area of the apartment,
packed a bag of gym clothes and a lunch to take to the race in the morning
and he still felt bad about not running.

He said as he drained his glass, "I was lazy the whole day."
I said, "No, think back."
He said, "No, you think back, I'm going to bed."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Top Ten Things I like About Living Alone

10: No empty ice cube trays.
9. The magazine in the bathroom is right where I left it.
8. I can have plants.
7. Dinner is always on time.
6. There is always a Diet Coke left.
5. I don't have to be anywhere.
4. I get any pillow I want.
3. No paying attention.
2. No sorting of the mail needed.
1. The tv clicker mine mine mine.

Ten Things I Don't Like About Living Alone
10. The Silence
9. Not having anyone to gripe at for the crap everywhere
8. Making one omlette
7. Trying to think of enough STUFF to order from the grocer.
6. Still thinking a cat may appear.
5. The Silence
4. Every once in awhile the whole thing sinks in, that's never good/
3. Being chipper during conversations with neighbors.
2, The middle of the bed is a vast uncharted sea.
1. Realizing that this condition is one that might last until the end of your life.

Joe(until the 12th of Never) Nation

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Better Day

The better day to go to the beach was last Friday and that is when I went. Down to Penn Station, get the ticket, not ticketS which was weird, but okay and just as weird as making my own beach lunch of turkey and swiss sandwichs and nectarines and not even thinking about hitting the Burger King on the way to shore. The train lets you off four blocks from the water. I got there very early.

Wait.... this post was supposed to be about art.
How about this?

Before you vote, I must tell you I cannot have this work in my home because it's on another wall.
This one:

Art is where you find it.
Joe(But only if you are looking for it)Nation

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Genius Judas Goat

So she called early this morning and asked if she could come and get the cats.
"Sure." I said.
I should tell you all that one of the cats, Ruby, is about as wild a cat can be and still be a housecat. She will allow L to give her a drip of ice cream on the carton lid, but not to stroke her back. I am allowed (after months of training) to pet her head and rub her back, but only two to four times. Neither of us has ever picked Ruby up, not that she would allow such a humiliating experience to occur. We often said if there was a fire, we would grab Max (the other cat who thinks it is her job to be petted.), the Suzie Orman Big Book of Your Most Important Crap and the hidden money stash. Ruby would be left to fend for herself.

I didn't want there to be any problems. I wanted the kitties to be okay. So, for the past two nights when I fed them, I put the food bowls inside the cat carriers. Nothing doing for the first five minutes from Ruby, but Max happily gobbled hers and then, backing out, headed over to the other carrier to see what was up. Ruby, uh, elbowed her out of the way and streeetched inside the carrier to get to the food, leaving her hindend outside. I knew that wouldn't work.

As luck would have it, I was roasting a chicken. As soon as it was done, I took many chunks of chicken leg over to the carriers and, as soon as a cat arrived, I would toss the piece waaaaay into the carrier. Like a charm, my friend, Ruby went all the way, time after time after time. Then I tried it with Kitty Fish Treats. Um. Not so much. Lots of hesitation and giving me the eyeball, so it was back to thigh meat. Yes. I am the Judas Goat.

So I told L how to hold the chicken piece where the Rube could see it and toss it way in.

The cats were gone when I got home and there was a nice note saying that I was a genius. duh.

On my bookcase there is a little clear box containing a copper belt buckle and a jade heart charm my father made in his "metal-working as a hobby"life. It now also contains my wedding ring. I haven't had that ring off more than five times in twenty years. I hadn't had it off for five minutes when my left thumb started asking my third finger where it was.

It will take some getting used to.

Joe(so will all this quiet.)Nation

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Comes

Good morning all,

My apartment is full of tightly packed boxes, stacks of shelves and the guts and rails of a closet hanging system. L is sleeping in our, well, my bed. She was packing until 3AM or later, I don't know because I was fast asleep. I was fast asleep because .uh... I had a beer, a martini and two fingers of Scotch plus a big Bleu Cheese burger in the company of Thomas, Kickycan and his author friend, Ray and HighSeas.

(I must say it's a very good thing to have a Swiss woman with a cigarette bouncing around her mouth scream at you at the top and bottom of her lungs about Alsace and Lorraine when you yourself are trying hard to find things to occupy your mind and heart. It was wonderful white noise and I thank her for it. I also thank her for the kind words she did say and the two fingers of Scotch. yum.)

We called Frank, he called back. I'm not sure he understood a word we were saying (there are helicopters landing and taking off at full volume.) so he still may not know about the breakup. L and I just had dinner with Frank on the Pan about two weeks ago, so he'll be as surprised as I was. Oh, and Thomas called Bernie and Lola and shouted into the phone at them.

Thomas and I will be running in the same half marathon next month in Queens. Right, Thomas?Ray, (we've got to get him to join us here on A2K) goes on a job interview this morning, so that's at least one person in New York who has more to worry about than me. Kickycan was disappointed to hear I was going to be single. "Crap," I could hear him thinking, "How can I compete with guy? No way." He's got until after the first of the year then all Manhattan is mine, mine, mine.

I only started to cry once during the get-to-together and it wasn't while HighSeas was screaming (Yes. You. Were.) but no one noticed. It was just a brief upsurge. It was great to be with friends.I got home about ten thirty, helped L get the last screw out of the closet wall. We stood amongst the boxes and boxes. She had too many hobbies, she said brightly, -- knitting, beading, painting, scrapbooking and more.

She smiled.

Joe(Uh huh, I said and went to bed.)Nation

Friday, August 15, 2008


So as luck would have it, I had an appointment scheduled with my doctor for this morning. I haven't been sleeping very well (gosh, wonder why... .) and there were a couple of other things that have been bothering me, I'm off my feed and my regularness has not been.
ANYway, I am prattling along, watching him write down my blood pressure 120/74 (Yes! I am 25 years old!) when he asked me if anything else was going on in my life.
I cratered into mush before his eyes.About a half a box of tissues later:I told him the story of this coming Monday. (Maybe that should be the title of something- This Coming Monday- ?)
Gabe, that's my doctor. You should always have a doctor whom you can call by his nickname. Gabe asked me if I had a support system. Someone I could talk to or get some friendly advice from or just ears to listen.
"Oh yeah", I said, "there's a bunch of people: there's Ossobucco."
"Oh?", he said, "like the entree?"
"Yeah, I said, "and this ex-rocker, Bear, who is also the blue-veined throbber and Drewdad and Freeduck and a guy named Nimh. "
"Like the National Institutes of Mental Health?" Gabe asked as he wrote 'some delusions ... imaginary friends.....?'"
"No, well, yes, but Nimh's name is just a coincidence. Did I mention Pheonix?"
"The city of Pheonix is your friend?"
"No, she a nice person who lives in Florida with the alligators, there's also Gus who says he lives with capybaras, but I don't think that's really so. Can I have another Kleenex?"
"Who else?" said the doctor I have known for a dozen years as he moved just a little out of my reach."
"LittleK and Kickycan"
"Rappers of some sort?" he asked."
"UM, no, I don't think so. Oh yeah, dlowan who is a bunny in Australia but not the Hefner kind. And Roberta and Eva and lots more."
"Why don't you lie down here for a moment while I go check on something."
"Oh, oh, there's Dagmar who's LittleK's friend and a boxer!"
The door shut.I lay there a long time it seemed. Tissues from doctor's offices do not have the same staying power of regular tissues. I guessed I should have mentioned that my brothers and sisters live nearby and my four oldest friends in the world have been in contact these last few days, but I thought Gabe should know that I'm in touch with the very best people in the world.
Thanks, everyone.
Joe(the very best) Nation


Grief, if that is the right word for the emotions I'm feeling, has odd habits.

It sleeps for hours at a time only to waken at a completely unpredictable moment. I hadn't cried at all, or not much, during the first "meeting" when she told me she was leaving.

During the second meeting, when we were discussing bank accounts, how much of the furniture she would take and whether she would take one cat or both, I didn't shed a tear until she asked if I wanted to keep one or two of her paintings.

That makes me weep a little now, but mostly I've been able to hold myself and what little dignity I have left fairly intact, but this morning,
after forgetting my cellphone again and having to go back home and get it and
after returning to the turnstiles only to have my MetroCard rejected as "just used,
after asking the sleepy eyed attendent how long I would have to wait before I could use the card, knowing I would miss the next train and be late,
after he said
"I've seen you around, go ahead and use the gate."

... .
This one small act of kindness broke open all my resistance and I had a nice, long cry on the train.

The train is a good place to cry. For one thing, crowded or empty, the other people in the car with you don't give a ratsass what you are doing so long as it doesn't do anything that might stop or slow down the train. So you can cry or you can yodel while shaking a can with three dimes in it, you can be a three hundred pound man wearing a giant sunflower costume or two very tattooed women chained together at the waist, New York commuters will contine to work on their third Sudoko of the day, thank you very much.

For another, if you are wearing headsets, the others can't tell if you are crying at the last chapter of "The Great Gatsby" or because of something else. It could be some real tragedy in your own life or you might have just read in the Daily News about the little girl swept away from her church group after falling into the Niagra River.

For me, it was grief.

I'm pretty sure that is the right word for the feelings you have when your world, previously small and tidy and a bit boring, is melting and shattering, full of flames and ice and tears.

Joe(both cats. so they won't be lonely.)Nation

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We was at the game.

Rain delay, weird plays (2) and all, it was a wonderful day.

The ball sat on the top of the fence for several seconds.

It could have gone either way, as they say, or sat there on top of the fence forever.

That would have been something.

Suppose Damon got up and picked the ball off the fence? Is the runner out? Is it a ground rule double? What?

The left field umpire blew a call in the ninth claiming that a flyball had been trapped, not caught. Had the Yankees come back to win that would have been a stinker.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A New York Story

So this is a New York story. I'm sure that this couldn't happen anywhere else, pretty sure, let me know if I am wrong.

I'm on the A train coming home. Across from me is a little girl and her nanny. How do I know it's her nanny? I just do. No. The nanny is this little Hispanic woman, tiny woman with a little bun of black hair wound just to the left of center of her head. The little girl is blond blond blond and almost, not quite, but almost as tall as the woman. She is about nine years old.

She is studying her reading flash cards which her nanny is holding up for her to read one at a time. The words flash by: house, horse, piano, glass, lamp, basket..... the nanny holds up the card, the little girl squints at some of them, then answers, some of them are as familiar as her own name and she takes no time to pronounce them.

She gets stuck on the words Scissors. She looks at the card for a long time, then shrugs. It strikes me then, just then, not before, that the nanny doesn't have a clue what any of the cards say, she doesn't read English. She doesn't know if pee-an-o is correct, but what she is listening to is not the little girl. The nanny is listening to the response of those on the train with them.

"SaKISS, SkySSS," the girl guesses for another minute. The nanny holds the card up to the crowd.

This is a New York-on-the-subway-going-home crowd. Their faces are like mush. But, with the holding up of the card, the invitation to join in extended, one, and then another intrepid commuter chimes in. "More like SSSSS" says one. "See? Like this" says the other, making his fingers scissors in the air. "Cut, cut, cut". The girl looks at the card and then at her mentor strangers. "Scissors" she says."Scissors" "Ah" say the teachers, the prodders, the profs.

The nanny holds up another card. Bathtub, it says.
The crowd, now eager to help, waits for any hesitation on the part of the girl.
"Bath tub" she says.
Ah, says the crowd.
Hallway says the card.
Hmmm says the crowd.
Hallway, she says.
And on towards Washington Heights we fly.

Next card, next stop, next word, next lesson.
The lesson is you can learn your English vocabulary any place there is a New Yorker nearby. They are the most helpful people on Earth.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Winds of Change

There are big fights going on now around the country over whether or not clotheslines are eyesores. Everyone agrees that the method of drying clothes on a line is much more environmentally friendly, uses little or no energy - unless you ask the person hanging the wet clothes on the line - and the fabrics smell better after spending some time in the sunshine.

Posted by Picasa - god, have these people so little wrong with their lives that they have to spend time and effort over this?? -

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Water's Upstairs


Went for a long run down the river on Friday. I went North around Ft. Tryon Park and then down the hill by the GW Bridge.
A short, flat, quiet stretch of running/bike trail, (quiet, unless the Amtrak train is rattling by, the tracks are just to the right), turns into a winding path right next to the river.

There was only one problem. No water. The only drinking fountain on the ground level was at the Eleven Mile Park. (That's Eleven Miles from the South tip of Manhattan) which was about five miles into my run. Temperatures were climbing into the seventies and I was very happy to see that the water was turned on. I had a nice big drink and headed South again. I knew where the next water was. There was only one problem.

It's at the top of these stairs.

I ran up the stairs.
Okay. I ran up the first four flights of the stairs.

At the top is one of the nicest sport facilities in the city. I ran one lap around the track just to see if my watch was calibrated correctly. (It was cheating me .01 of a mile. I fixed that.) and then headed for the nearest fountain to fill up.

The George Washington Bridge suddenly looked very far away, but I knew it just two and half miles to the little Lighthouse at the bottom of a very serious hill and then to home.

More color along the way but no water. I've decided that I have to break out the water bottle belt before attempting anything this long again. Total run was just over twelve miles. The Little Lighthouse appeared and I chugged up the hill, finding first a little baby shoe lying on the path, and a minute later, a woman coming down the hill who was very glad to see me holding the shoe.

The Starbucks at the top of the hill at Ft. Washington Ave supplied me with a cup of ice water and a Venti Iced Coffee. The first I gulped down, the second I sipped as I ran down the hill to Bennett and the finish.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Folks

Posted by Picasa
These are actually not my folks, but my father's. I am hoping to put the whole family on here and say a little about each of them. My genealogy research has, so far, connected over 4,000 individuals to our little band of beings.

More to come.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The New York Hack

No, not taxicabs, this has nothing to do with taxicabs, it's about the pervasive, nearly universal, barking cough that has spread over the city of New York this winter. The virus causing this condition is having a winning season. Every subway car carries the sound of the scattered gunshots of the Hack. Every café, restaurant, diner and coffeeshop contains at least one person who woofs now and then, in several I've been to it's been me and some of the waiters.

The darkened romantic movie scene is punctuated with the comma, comma, fullstops of the victims, none of whom are sick enough to stay isolated nor really well enough to be amongst other people. It's only a cough. Right.

"It's only a cough that started a few days after the New Year and now has lasted through Valentine's (I -chuff- chuff- love you.) and now Lincoln's birthday."
Maybe you should see someone.

So you call to make an appointment. The first opening at any time for any day is .... April 20th.
Pleading, begging, asserting that you might be spitting up blood and something that resembles a piece of gum you swallowed in seventh grade gets you a 8:15AM a week from now.

I will tell you what will happen because it has happened to thousands of people already in this city. On the morning of the appointment day, and not one second sooner, you will stop coughing. The Hack will be gone, your chest and lungs and throat will feel fine.
You will feel fine.
You will still go to the appointment and at about two hours after it's scheduled time you will listen to the internist listen to your chest and hear her sigh "No, no congestion."
It's as if in some quantum physics inspired weirdness, the virus knows just when to cease operations and bug out.

You pay your deductible at the desk a little disappointed that after all these weeks of ca-caak-caws you didn't even get a prescription for some purple colored elixir. You decide that you are going to take the rest of the day off anyway just because of the stress.

Tell the truth. Isn't that what happened to you?

My, my, my, my Corona.

I took over $50.00 out of the money I had made picking tobacco that summer of 1961. I went up to Potterton's on Center Street to buy the Smith-Corona in the hardshell case. It was blue.

It took me forever to learn to type. Some of the pages of my high school papers weighed considerably more than others because of all the White-Out on them.

I learned how to set margins but never got the knack of TAB/SET.

That typewriter traveled with me to Boston, to California, to Texas, to Oklahoma.

I wrote my first love poem on it.

I wrote the first story I ever sold on it.

I wrote about a hundred days of short stories on it.

(That typewriter tale, I will tell later.)

Resumes, I've written more than several and Letters to the Editor, both angry and bemused.

I wrote the birth announcement of my son on it.

But as I sit here this morning, I cannot remember for the life of me, what ever happened to it.

Do you know what happened to yours?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Way Through

I forgot that they had my favorite Northend exit blocked off. Soaking wet from my run around the park and cold because I had stopped to take a few pictures of the icicles, I was already to the barricade before I realized it was there. I had three choices: I could be compliant and turn around and A) walk back up the drive and then up the hill to the water fountain then down the path to an exit. (No water in the fountain in Winter, in case you were wondering.) Or B) I could walk down the hills past the icicles, then walk around the Northside of the park to the subway entrance, a longer, colder route.
Or, wouldn't you know?, C) I could do what I would do if I was a twelve year old - find a way over around or through the barrier.

Luckily for me I was a paperboy. When you are doing a paper route, as I did from age 10 until I got an actual job at age 15, you see a lot of things. Open windows, unlocked garages, unlatched back porches, all kinds of things that in the hands of a youngster who was not terrified of his Irish mother might lead him into temptation. My observations were mostly for my own benefit. When you are doing the daily route, ninety five percent of the time you are on the streetside of the houses and apartments but when you are doing the collections you use the cut-throughs, the shortcuts and the squeezes. That way you can get from the Farr's house on Edgerton to the Thompson's on Orchard, then through to Winter Street and Rosemary Place for the Crouteu's without ever being on an East-West street.

You have to find out which yards are fenced tightly to the next and which have little gaps, maybe a piece of wood slat pulled aside, maybe there is a slim twelve year old's behind width opening where two fences come together. Maybe there is a fence, but there is a tall stump on one side that leads up to the edge of a convienently sloped garage roof to a crumbling stack of firewood. You find these by looking for the paths.

There is always a path to a shortcut. You have to look carefully to see some of them, there's a little browner stretch of grass, a bare spot just at the corner of the garage or the homeowner may have put up a few of those little foot-high wire loop garden edge fences as a deterrent which makes a very good signal - others have gone before you here.

There are no barriers that remain unchallenged by local twelve year olds, knowing that gave me hope of not just finding a way through but of finding their way through because it would be the shortest. Rather than walk all along the barrier looking for a gap, I looked for the tracks of the path. Soon enough, in seconds really, I saw the scuffs and tracks near the leftside corner. Ah! Striding towards it I looked beyond the fencing and saw, between the piles of old paving stones, a whitish trail of the dust leading directly, first to one side and then the other.

You can't see it in the top picture but there were three of those orange fences making a maze. You can just see the yellow rope some nice pioneer had untied before I got there. Once through the first two I had only to glance at the ground to see the signs to the exit.

This was just a small incident in an otherwise non-eventful Sunday run, but it brought back some really powerful memories of the old neighborhood, shortcuts and finding the way through made me feel really young again.

I'm getting tired of this winter even though it hasn't been a bad one, very little snow and bitter cold for mostly the days I was sick, but still, I was happy to see these ladies and gents heading North a few days ago.

Outside my window, just now, February 20th, 6:24am, I heard a robin.

Good. We are finding our way through this season.