first lady material?

So this is Newt Gingrich's third wife, Callista. No, I mean Cindy. No, wait, that's Cindy McCain, John's second wife. That was last election. Cut from the same cloth. Is there something about tight-looking bottle blondes that is the ultimate accessory for much married Republican presidential candidates?


now booked

. . .for all of June, including Race Week, and most of September. Still some availability at Hannah's in the fall. But, my, that VRBO ad kicked some—ahem!


the religious—right

Our Founding Fathers on religion:

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." — Ben Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect." —James Madison, letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."—Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794

 "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose." —Thomas Jefferson, letter to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813


cabin fever

When some people get cabin fever, they come to New York and do the sights—Times Square, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum, the Staten Island ferry and, of course, the nail salon. Then they get so tired that they have to go back to their cabins for some rest.



Came right back atcha with more winter, but there are tulips, and I made shad roe and asparagus the other night, and the shad run when the shad blooms so spring must be on its way up this way maybe some day.


nice try

Remember the one about the 2,000-pound gorilla? Consider that the crow is a very large bird.
        Frank, a newspaper editor/publisher from the Ozarks, looked out his window and caught this scene. Since his farm is named Crow's Nest and his newspaper cartoon is called Crowque, I have no doubt that he felt the crows were on home territory here.
        But if a bald eagle wanted to have a go at his fish-stocked pond, I doubt that even a murder of crows could stop it.


find the crow

This picture was taken on Oscar's walk in Sausalito. Oscar is now in France checking to see how the rewiring of his house went and getting ready for his rental season. Oscar and I were interested in crows on account of reading this amazing story in the New York Times.


view from hannah's hideaway

Ok, the last one was from the master bedroom at Claudia's Block Island beach house; this one is from the master bedroom's balcony at Hannah's beach house.


block island season

When sunk deep in winter it's hard to believe in summer. And vice versa.  But people are dreaming of summer vacations in the heart of February even if they can't quite remember what it's like. Let me help:  Balmy sunrises with the smell of honeysuckle. Something cooking on the grill. Towels on the line. The susurration of the waves. The feeling of sand in your scalp and the sting of saltwater on your sunburn. Ice cream cones. Moths against the screen. Birdsong. Are we there yet?


big kids on campus

What do you do after you've worked at Time and Life and Fox News and People and WNYC? Well, if you're the Queen of Reinvention, you become a la profesora in the Bronx. And then you invite your friends from former workplaces to come up for a day and carry a class or two. And then the students ask where the jobs in journalism are these days, and you say damned if I know you tell me—you're the future.


baby talk

It's been too long since the last Grandma update, so here is Little C practicing her vocals.


rockin' the mezzanine

Smokey Robinson looks mighty fine for 70. And he sounds about the same as he did in 1966 or so when I first heard him perform at Briarcliff College, from behind the cafeteria line where I was working. What he may lack in energy, he makes up in style and Barry Whitelike seduction, albeit in a near falsetto. You can totally see where Michael Jackson got his shit. And the hits—never mind "Tracks of my Tears" and "Tears of a Clown"  and "Shop Around"—he has written some 4,000 songs, many performed by top Motown acts. He founded the outfit with Berry Gordy, after all, and was a VP for decades. "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Get Ready," "Don't Mess With Bill," "Ain't That Peculiar," "Really Got a Hold on Me," "My Baby Must Be a Musician," "My Guy." He wrote 'em, and boy, he can still sing 'em, accompanied by what he joked was "the Apollo choir," i.e. the audience, who sang their asses off. Even the white people. Well, they didn't have much in the way of asses.


color me kate knapp

This is Kate Knapp Day, the birthday of a woman who is as obsessed with color as any person I have ever known. She can find color in a gray day, the dark of night or the driven snow (see her paintings on her blog). And she wears them, too, as these self portraits express. Her idea of a good time is to get up, put something orange and purple and green on, talk on the phone to her flotilla of friends while eyeing a vivid bouquet and then paint all day long every day with occasional breaks for meals. Colorful ones. She has done this as long as I've known her which is going on for, ahem, about three decades now. She paints landscapes outdoors, she paints flowers indoors, she paints portraits of people and pets, in watercolor and oils, from photographs and from life—all explorations of the wonderful world of color. She is brilliant.


happy valentines

We dined with a lovely young expectant couple last night at 98. One of them, Matthew Humphreys, happens to have premiered in a new interactive TV series on Al Gore's Current TV on Friday. You can read all about Bar Karma in this New York Times article. The other one, Alexis Chiu,  happens to have a big story with Liam Neeson in People magazine. Now placing bets on whether the shower or the birth happens first.


google me claudia's

View Claudia's Beach House in a larger map
Finally got it together to make a map of where my places are. Did Claudia's and Hannah's beach house, thanks to Kathleen's help and a major tussle with the maps program. Next: Directions from the boat.
   The reason I need all these maps and directions is because the VRBO listing is selling out Claudia's on all available days spring and fall. Dealing with two people at once for some slots. Advertising. Amazing.


where is mt. tam?

This is where Oscar likes to to take his walk in the mornings. Can you identify this location?


the talented miss p

Usually when the principal of the school calls your parents, the news is not good. This traditional wisdom was recently stood on its head, however, when my sister received a call to say that Eva, 9, had won first place in the Massachusetts Department of Conservation's Forest Fire Control Centennial Poster Contest! The DCR rep is coming to the school to give her an award and a T-shirt with her prize-winning poster printed on it. The principal is thrilled, and so is everyone else including her older sister who gets to miss more school (it's been a very snowy winter) to attend the assembly.


sail away on the block island ferry

"The boat is going to leave when it is going to leave, and when it does, the boat will get smaller and smaller; and one day it will be your turn, and then it shall be the island that gets smaller and that will be the summer you just had, getting smaller and smaller until one raw, overcast day someone says, “Block Island,” and there is the floppy drunk blowing his chance on the pier, or the gull wing-deep in styrofoam whacking the gut of the fly-blown skate, or even the beautiful girl under the awning, and the fat man in the Panama, the wide verandas, the mansard roofs and the moors above.”
—from “Short Voyages” by Stephen Jones. The Yard Manager of West Mystic Wooden Boat Company of Mystic, Connecticut, he’s also a three-decade member of the University of Connecticut’s English and Maritime Studies faculty at Avery Point in Groton.

I like this quote, and it goes awfully well with the picture, which I also like.
Note: my houses are just out of frame on the left.



There are a lot of pix from California that I was unable to upload at the time. Here are some trees on Point Tomales near the Pierce Ranch that I couldn't get enough of.
And speaking of photography, Chien Chi got a multimedia award for his Escape from North Korea. Check it out here and scroll down until you see the video starting in the train station.
And speaking of art, have you seen this new Google site that has famous museums and paintings? The opener has an amazing closeup of a Van Gogh.


another best shower in the world

 The new shower at Hannah's is almost done. Still needs trim and a pane of glass and one last pass plumbing- wise, but looks swell, no? Kudos to Sam's design and Tom's tiling. We are pretty much decided to leave the wood natural rather than paint it white. Agreed?


the extra day

Due to weather conditions in New York, I didn't get back from California until last night. But I got a whole extra day with J, which we spent exploring Point Reyes, ground zero of the locavore movement, and hiking to see elk. The oysters were delicious. The wildflowers went unidentified due to no internet reception, try as she might.



weather permitted

Weather permitting, you can grow a heckuva tree. And here in Marin County, weather does permit. We made a brief foray into Muir Woods yesterday evening to remind us of our relative unimportance in the great scheme of things, timewise and sizewise. We did not worship in the Cathedral of the Redwoods, however; we chattered on our cellphones and snapped pix like any other tourists.
    This excursion was followed by dinner at the house of some of my oldest friends, from Illinois Times days. In redwood years it may be just a flash in the pan,  but in friendship years 35 is nothing to sneeze at.
    Oh and PS, I decided that weather did not permit of my return trip today and thus am staying until Thursday and clear skies in New York.