post Christmas stroll

A little walk to work off the cookies.


appy christmas

This is only a test. Not much time for doing any blogging what with the walks, the painting, the reading books, the playing train, the eating potato sticks, the getting dressed, the monkey pyjamas, the cleanup, the cooking, and etc.


a train set from santa

Just what she wanted!
The older set went a bit higher tech


a star, a star

Leaving town for points north, but not that far north. Bearing gifts, like everyone else on the train.

merry accident-free christmas

A friend found this in the Ozarks. And a very merry to all of y'all! Or yuns, as the case might be. Please be careful, as I am not responsible either!
I will post presently from my current location. Not the Ozarks.



This is called a fingered citron. Also known as Buddha's Hand, which I prefer probably because of the Duck Dynasty/Christmas nonsense. I bought it because I loved it but wound up letting it rot because I couldn't think of what to do with it other than try to make marmalade or candied peel, neither of which I like. Maybe I'll just buy one every now and again for decor.
  And here's what my pal Frank Martin has to say about holiday greetings in his editorial.


solstice roundup

Pretty grim outside right now, so I submit this picture of what Block Island can look like even as the winter solstice approaches—tomorrow at 5:11 pm. It's the shortest day of the year, with nine hours and 32 minutes of daylight. I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to sleep when it's dark all the time. Or I sleep at the wrong times.
   On the runup to Christmas, you might be interested in looking at these maps of religious affiliations in the US.
   Speaking of Christmas, Wear Your Music has its last shipping day on Monday, aka my sister's (still the President of the Garden Club!) birthday. Check out this article about Hannah's company.
  At a much higher price point, maybe you feel like treating yourself to a fabulous tile installation—it will fill you with cheer just to look at the possibilities on line.
   And in case you want to spend the spring equinox with medicine men in Peru and Lake Titicaca, check out out friend Aymar's tour here.


this just in

OK, so this is the Christmas list of my kind of step granddaughter (put another way, my daughter's niece) (put another way, my ex-husband's granddaughter) (put another way, my granddaughter's first cousin) (put another way, an old friend's granddaughter) (it's complicated). And all I have to say about this particular list is that Montessori school must work!
And a historical footnote from before my niece Madison was a teenager.


name that year!

The My Little Ponies should be a giveaway—also the fact that a teacher clearly wrote this down. FYI: The My Little Ponies are now stabled in Providence with the next generation.
   I take great delight in kids' Christmas lists and often posted my nieces' lists. Now they're getting so old they want cars and "compudres", which is not as much fun as this list or this list.


mansion on the beach

photo by dada
It's that time of the year when I live on Block island remotely: Booking season. And according to this photo of the new house next door, they are now at work on the interior. It actually feels much smaller on the inside than it looks on the outside. Looking good for occupancy next summer, so hopefully my guests won't have to endure hammering and bulldozing for another season. Not that a single person complained this year.


journalists yakking

Put a bunch of writers together and you get a lot of talk. When they share a lot of history at a magazine (Life), you get even more than usual. It was a very long lunch—like, eleven hours. So if I did not take your birthday call, well, sorry!
And, yes, Elvis was there too. In fact, Elvis is everywhere.


it's my party

and I'll age if I want to. Thanks for all the love!


past lives

Christmas is coming up, and the grandmother has another stocking to make this year. Also, in the interests of continuing closet cleanup, I thought I'd go through the knitting needles and yarn while I was looking for red and green. I no longer knit (only crochet) and nor does my mother or my daughter, so I packed up the needles and sent them off to Alaska, to a yarnmaker extraoirdinare (see her blog Woolen Travels) for her knitting class. Trying to find a home for all of these odds and ends of personal history. Well, hell, I do have a birthday tomorrow.
   Also wanted to share a link for a slideshow about Elaine's life that a colleague, Chris McKenna, made for the memorial. You can find it here on You Tube.


memento mori

The box of fiber prints was labelled Edward Steichen, and the photographer was curious. It was lying on the floor ready to be carted to the dumpster along with the other belongings of an elderly neighbor who had recently died. She leafed through them. There was the man who had been the director of the department of photography at MOMA for decades, the curator of "The Family of Man," which introduced documentary photography to millions of Americans. In the prints, Steichen was hanging a show of images clearly recognizable by any former LIFEer as those of David Douglas Duncan.
   And so I emailed the photo department at MOMA to see if they wanted these rescues. A piece of photographic history.


outside the window


I love a snow day like today. Alternate side of the street parking is suspended. No traffic. You can watch the snow fall as if you're in your own little snow globe, only the snow is outside. The rest of the world just ceases to exist. I'm thinking split pea soup.


she missed the best party

And boy would she have loved it. A couple hundred people at her memorial, all singing her praises. A journalism scholarship in her name from Lehman College (More info about where to donate from WNYC. There is a clickdown menu for how to direct your donation; choose Elaine Rivera scholarship). Meanwhile, Rose, who helped produce the event fabulously, also wrote a pretty brutal piece about alcoholism among Latinos for CNN. Here is the obit I wrote  and the (somewhat repetitive) text of my speech:
“Hi, it’s Elaine!” She said it as if we would be totally surprised, like we didn’t have caller ID. “Any bochinche?”
    I met her when she was working at the New York Bureau at waspy Time magazine.  She mostly championed underdogs. They mostly didn’t. I am Elaine’s WASP friend. She taught me not to flip my hair. I have had a crick in my neck ever since.
     She had so many friends. I like most of them. But, like, not the steelworkers she picked up in Yankee Tavern and brought to my house to throw up. They probably offered her a ride.
    Elaine needed a driver, a cook, a handyman, an accountant, a cleaner. Life was just too hard otherwise. Dolores, she called herself. Sorrows. “I suffer," she said.
     She must have, although the Elaine I met was incredibly cheerful. She loved a party. Sparklers from the 99-cent store, flowers from her favorite flower lady. Every birthday a cake.  Every year a calendar. I will be finding confetti around my apartment until I die.
    She called drinking an occupational hazard of journalism. But she blamed herself. I blame her too. I blame Yankee Tavern and her other watering holes.I blame her search for community, for belonging. She won’t be making that trip up the coast of Maine. Or writing that book about Malcolm X. Without the calendars she gave me how will I know what day it is?  Except that each day will be another without Elaine. But, hey, thanks for getting us all to the doctor’s!
     The takeaway: Write a will, write a book, celebrate everything—even death— and love everybody while you can.
     In her cups, Elaine always insisted that I sing Warren Zevon’s Gone with the Hula Hula Boys:
   I saw her leave the luau with the one who parks the cars.
And the fat one from the swimming pool they were swaying arm in arm.
     I can hear their ukuleles playing down by the sea.
    She’s gone with the hula hula boys. She don’t care about me."
       Aloha, Elaine.



Site of large picture for decades.

I suppose this is the result of the two fires in the immediate neighborhood recently. My neighbor's framed still life in the hall hadta go. And her wreath. I hope they don't come after my ba gua. But what really has the folks exercised is their doormats. No doormats? Where to wipe the boots that are no longer permitted to dry off in the hall?
My ba gua, to keep evil forces at bay.


name that drone!

A friend of mine, let's call him Anon, has been talking about commercial and journalistic use of drones for a long time, Mr. Bezos. In fact, he bought his own (left) some time ago. (Let's hope its camera skills are superior to those of whomever took this picture. )
   Drones are not the only subject on which Anon has been prescient, he complains:
"A year ago I was sitting outside on a terrace having a drink. A guy sat next to me and we chatted. He said he was the head of a document delivery system in NYC. He used bike messengers. I told him I would help him get ready for drones. Just doing cross-river deliveries would have saved him a bundle. And this on a week when it looks like forgotten little islands may start the next war and Lost Boys of the Sudan are on the cover of the NYT magazine. . . Well, on to Allerest acres. . .
  Well not quite. He does have his own drone. He is thinking of calling it Shooting Star. Can you come up with a better name?


i like a truck

That's CSC in rear. photo by John Gasner @1985
In a frame that might be designed to contrast with the fiery cityscape of yesterday, my bro-in-law sends in this old shot of the bucolic compound on Block Island. That's the original Surfmobile (blue) on the right and a couple of John's ancient vehicles. I wish we still had those trucks, but in the interest of the community, we had to head em up and move em out. I don't know what the dump charges these days, but I used to drive vehicles too rusty to pass inspection and park 'em there for a few hundred. I recollect at least three. I left the keys in, of course.


tis the season

We had the second big fire within the week in the neighborhood last night, as the top two floors of a brownstone on West End between 82nd and 83rd burned. You could see flames, and the smoke came into my apartment. Apparently one person was seriously hurt. So far no word on whether it was candles, fireplace or Christmas tree.


grandparent report

Baby Bright Beset by Dinosaurs

One had never been to the big city before; the other not within certain memory. There they are in their mama's childhood bedroom, playing with her toys. Life certainly goes on. They left last night—not, fortunately by Metro North, but by automobile—with the dogs, the crib, the giant doubledecker stroller, the diapers, the pjs & etc.
I promise after I finish the bunch of writing I have to do now that I will put a tad more effort into this here. Hold your breath.