through the looking glass

Picture of the Real Thing
Picture of a Reflection
 Same ocean, same camera, same balcony, same dawn (this one). Which do you like better?

Another question: Do I take the screens out for the winter or not? I did last year, but it seemed pointless. . .


dancing on a dime

The claw-footed tub was beautiful. But I never thought people would routinely shower in it—figured they'd prefer the outdoor shower like the rest of us. Nope.
   So after four years, I decided to correct this design flaw and put in a stall shower. There wasn't really room for a prefab one, so yesterday Sam and I figured out how to fit a tiled one in. It will work. You'll see.
   Back when I was a young writer at People magazine, we had to fit a lot of information into a little bit of space. (This was when there were facts in the mag rather than pictures of bad clothing choices.) My mentor called this kind of writing "dancing on a dime." Apparently, I have not lost this skill, because after writing my most recent story this summer, my editor wrote, "One of my lifelong passions is jazz because I've always been amazed by musicians who can improvise within a very structured harmonic and rhythmic form and create what Whitney Balliett of the New Yorker called the 'sound of surprise.' You have a similar gift, and it is very rare." Rare praise.
   Given the constraints—water, controls, pipes, shower head, enclosure, human sizes—we will attempt an improvisation on a shower. Take it away, Sam!


art block island

Sheilah photographs the snake on the dashboard of the Ford. Katie displays her latest watercolors. Sorry about this hasty posting, but I'm also in full spate—creating a new shower.


when you're down on your luck

This is the There-But-For-Fortune flophouse, a place to hang your hat when all systems fail. It sits across the street from Camilla's house, and it is fascinating to watch the black-and-white parade of prostitutes, addicts, ordinary old people, police, ambulance drivers and mysterious strangers come and go. They watch us, too. One helps direct my parking as I back into the lot. (Backing not my forte.) "She have the baby yet?" another asks.
  Lives are lived out in the street—the phone calls arranging to meet johns at a certain parking lot, the drug deals, the domestic disagreements shouted from curb to window. They do all the same things we do—be born, grow up, pair up, have babies, buy microwaves, party, break up, die—only louder, faster, more desperately and in a Rhode Island accent.


harvest moon

We call it the harvest moon, but in China, it's the mid autumn moon, a celebration of the goddess of the moon. Some 40 years ago, I celebrated with my friend Changping's family in Taiwan. Along with thousands of other city people, we packed food, got on the bus in the evening and headed for the hills around Taipei. We climbed hundreds of stairs to the temple grounds, spread our blankets among the trees, played musical instruments and had a picnic in the moonlight, with mooncakes, of course.
    Last night was a little more prosaic. I took some snaps, did some laundry, sat on the porch in admiration of the yin goddess  (shining so brightly because this is the one night a year she spends with her yang husband, who lives on the sun) and went to bed long before she was  mid-heaven in the autumn sky.


four years ago/today

Four years ago today, they got married.
Last week they had a baby. Love magnified.


this little piggy

Little Millie is getting bigger. On a visit to the doctor yesterday, eight days after birth, she weighed seven pounds and four ounces. That's compared with six thirteen or something when she left the hospital. If I could ever remember how many ounces in a pound I could probably calculate that weight gain using my fingers and toes. But I know eveyone would rather see the father's picture of the little new toes.  



This is a view of the bluffs from the boat yesterday. All night I seemed to be on a baby's feeding schedule, only when I woke up, I heard no crying. Just the crash of the waves.


role reversal

The series of pregnant H portraits is over. Long live the new configuration!
In other news, I will be returning to Block Island today on the 3:00. With a motherload of paper towels. I mean, grandmotherload.



My first writing of a birth announcement. I think that's a mustard stain by Douglas. Or Simon.

For more pix, check out this site, and ask me privately for a password if you need it.

double load

When a child is born, a mother's consciousness splits, and forever after a piece of her bifurcated mind will be with her child. Maybe this happens to fathers too—I can't speak to that. Now that my daughter has given birth I think she will understand why I sat in the parking lot of the hospital for six hours waiting for that event.


what's in the freezer?

Many of you have played the game "What's in the Truck?" Prompted by an unusual collection of contents, let's play "What's in the freezer?"

I'll get you started:
Veggie burgers


sweet pea

 . . .or The Princess in the Pea. Or, for those on Block Island, the Peapod (the grocery store's delivery system). Or—but you figure out some more.


the introduction

for the fans

OK, I promise I will stop with the proud grandparent thing pretty soon. Maybe next week. The family returns home today, and not a moment too soon for the dog and cat. Whose world is about to be boulversé.



and the name is

Camilla Imogen Garrison
possibly aka Millie


This enigmatic note was placed prominently in the home of Baby Girl Garrison, who spent much of the night eating rather than sleeping. Do the new parents want me to post it before they come home tomorrow? And who doesn't want to make some money? Doing what? Want to sign on?


yes, it's a girl!

Baby Girl Garrison arrived at 5:59 p.m. today. She is 6 pounds 15 ounces and totally perfect. Her parents are tired but also healthy and happy.

the hasty departure

This is what it looks like when you eat a quick breakfast between contractions and then go to the hospital, where the contractions stop. Some progress. They're now perambulating.

into the woods

The news you've been waiting for: Hannah and Chris are off to the hospital. They are stuck in traffic, of course. And both the midwife and the doula have alternates today, of course. I am off to their place to get the dog and bring her back to my sister's, who will then have two dogs to take on walks. I'll keep you posted. Maybe via iPhone.


neece teeth

Someone has a smile that changed this week. It now hurts to smile—and do everything else!
Some people grow up to have braces. Others grow up to have interminable pregnancies. And like my real estate lady friend says, "The tenth month is the longest."

Nope. No baby yet.

As for the niece, she's not a baby any more.


the traveling underpants II, part 1

I am so very confused. When last seen, the traveling underpants, the ones that originated in Alabama and traveled to several locales in the Northeast, were adorning a tiny equine in Missouri. At that point they vanished into the ether.
   I was then informed that I had left them in Alabama on my last visit there. This is untrue. I have never either brought men's u-trou to Alabama nor have I ever left any there. I do not travel with men's u-trou!
   Well, actually, that turns out to be a lie, because when I went to take my stuff out of Hannah's car when I arrived at my sister's house, I found a spurious plastic bag in the back of the car with the above pair of pale blue underwear.
   Note that these are not the same underwear as the other ones. Check out the past pix. In retracing my steps, I realized that my sister must have brought them back from Alabama and secreted them in Hannah's car the last time I visited her. My sister, I mean.
   The whole thing makes me very suspicious! I believe that my stepmother in Alabama is planting men's u-trou in her dryer and claiming they were left there by me which they were not! I cannot understand what her rationale might be for this stunt. Perhaps she bought a three-pak. We'll know when another pair "magically" appears in her wash after I've visited.
   I know this: If I want this pair to vanish, too, all I have to do is send them to Missouri.


the muffins and the snake

Was this an old episode of I Love Lucy or was it really happening? The mister is trying to deal with the kitchen sink,  clogged with something nasty and extremely recalcitrant, and at that exact time, in the exact same space,  the missus decides to undertake a massive muffin-baking project. You could only watch it unfold like a ping-pong game.
". . . raisins or blueberries?"
". . . 25-foot snake. . ."
". . . need  chopped walnuts. . ."
". . . omigod another bucket. Mop! Mop!"
". . .substitute butter for shortening?"
". . .think I flushed it down the toilet. . ."
". . .pass me two eggs?"
". . .pass me the plunger?"
". . .nutmeg smells really good. . ."
". . .this is disgusting. . ."
As of this morning, there are a dozen blueberry muffins in the freezer and a pile of dirty dishes on every available surface in the kitchen. Tune in tomorrow . . .


double life

It happened gradually. He was a software developer, a brilliant one, and he started exploring Second Life, the alternate reality platform on the web. He became increasingly engrossed. Once a roadie for Blue Oyster Cult, he is also a musician, and he started to play "live" gigs on the web. He bought a bar in Second Life and began to sell CDs. His real-life coworkers worried when he stopped playing real gigs, but he was making real money on line in U.S. $$. He met someone in SL. Presumably they had cybersex. He divorced his real life wife and married his on-line lover. He shows office mates her picture in his wallet.  Actually, a picture of her avatar. "It's a cartoon!" one friend says. He and the little woman have never met in person.
    I know his names, both of them. I want looking for him in Second Life, but I am such an idiot I can't figure out how to navigate there. I did find videos of some of his SL gigs on You Tube. (And I  recalled a 1974 blind date with Murray Krugman, a former producer of the Blue Oyster Cult. It was backstage at a concert, and Patti Smith was there and maybe even this roadie. But who introduced me to Krugman?) Anyway, is having a second life weird or what? With my new phone, I can walk around with double vision, too, texting and talking away to little avatars of my friends in far-flung locales. How different are we from this guy?


the yoga of photography

World Renowned Shutterbug Chien-Chi Chang paid a flying visit to Woonsocket, R.I., in the Interest of Art. He had two round pictures on his contact sheet and thought that a picture of a pregnant person on a yoga ball would fit in nicely. For this he was willing to travel, one way,  three-and-a-half hours on a train and another half hour by car for a visit that didn't even last 24 hours. He got to try out the yoga ball though.


labor day?

We are taking bets on when the action will occur, but the expectant couple is packed and ready. Water. CK Snacks. CK Nightgown, baby clothes, toiletries. CK CK CK. She Who Makes the Lists also packed the paper for the placenta print. Yes, placenta print. Who knew?
   Looks like any day now. I'm hoping before I go back to Block Island. Bet on your date below.


biding time

There's time to do all the last minute things—rearrange the closets, buy the bottles, clean the house, assemble the stroller, install the car seat. Because really what we're doing is waiting. Any day now. . .


all ashore

With seas expected to reach 9 feet today, the last ferry left the island at 8:15 ayem this morning. The surfers were already out in front of Claudia's Surf City waiting for a good set when most of the remaining tourists left yesterday. Doesn't sound like it will be a very serious storm. We'll see tonight.


sharper than a serpent's tooth

In my blast-through buttoning up and battening down the hatches yesterday, I looked at my two best knives, sharpened to a fare-thee-well by Dada. My guess is that these would be the ones certain teenagers were throwing at the door. One has totally disappeared. And there are metal knife points in the chopping block. From now on people can use el cheapo knives. And those particular people will not be back next year.
    Meanwhile, I'm going to beat the storm off island today. Feels odd to be leaving in a dead calm, but a friend in New Jersey says the waves are already whipping up there.  Houses now crowded with Adirondack chairs, hammocks, boogie boards and outdoor rockers, but presumably the redoubtable Santanas will deal with that. And all else. Their son lost his mainland house in the spring floods, and we're hoping it will not come to that this time.


my name is earl

It's hard to believe in the stillness and blue of this morning that it's a comin' for us, but that's what they say. Meanwhile, I have to be on the mainland for the weekend, so I guess I better leave tomorrow. That means taking in the porch furniture, closing storm doors,  tying down the barbie, moving boats ashore and generally trying to reduce the number of flying objects. Nothing I can do about the ocean coming into the front yard. Doubt the two housefuls of vacationers who are meant to arrive Friday will be able to.
Like most islanders, I'd really rather ride it out.  I remember choppering in to Cape Hattaras with a FEMA medical team in the wake of Hurricane Floyd. The good folk of Ocracoke had been partying since the storm started to veer towards them and were running out of alcohol. "If y'all wanted to save us," one guy told the docs, "you shoulda sent AA."