why people come here

The Jardin. Totallemente. (Sp?)


men at work

A beautiful town becomes more beautiful. No bochinche (gossip), as Elaine would say. Morning just doing errands, admiring walls and doors and colors along the way. For anyone interested in the full two hour program of Elaine's memorial service, which I highly recommend—it is both funny and tearful—you can find it here on You Tube. (I appear about 38 minutes in.) And if you're planning your own memorial service you might pick up some tips. One being: Die young, while all your contemporaries are still alive to write and talk about you. Advice none of Hannah's grandparents, including the one I'm visiting here, has been inclined to take.


poetic license

The venue

The audience

The book signing
It was a successful outing for the author of The Reach of Roots and Seeds. Peggy Purcell's fans were out en mass to applaud her latest work. She started things off on a humorous note:
"People ask me if I miss my children since I moved to Mexico/ I tell them no/I would have missed them more/had I seen them more before! " This struck a note with many ex-pats here, mostly women of a certain age who are self-exiled from ex-husbands and grown children and their old lives. San Miguel de Allende is to aging females as Key West and Palm Springs are to aging males.
For a truncated intro and reading


up on the roof

I always forget how loud it is here, with church chimes and fireworks and dogfights and birds tweeting and horns honking and music blaring and loudspeakers speaking all night and day.


at break of day

Takeoff for Mexico. Have arrived. 

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coming in for a landing

I'll take Manhattan
Or really more of a touch and go: Off to Mexico on Sunday.
Bearing many, many requests. What's in the bag?
Power cord for Mac Air
Space heater
The final two Louise Penny books
One lb Zabar's coffee
Microwavable heating pad
Black silk shirt for poetry reading
Folding chair
Feel free to guess the rest


small town/big town

I am pretty sure I'm the only person who reads Rural Missouri Power Lines at my gym in New York. It is a great publication put out by the coop that supplies my electricity in the Ozarks. You can read it on-line here, but it's really much better on paper. Filled with tips about the best barbeque dives, hillbilly jams, and classifieds for black angus and gospel piano lessons.


ice cold

At minus one, not fit for man nor beast. Tomorrow, New York. Sunday, Mexico. Maybe when I get back it will be warm. Holding breath. Otherwise, I can see it. 


exotic meats

I'm not exactly sure where they find kangaroos in Pittsburgh. Or crawdads. But hey, I'm glad there's availability in case the Explorer's Club decides to hold an event.


have wings, will fly

Monkey has been having a series of houseguests, but, notwithstanding his begging, so far none of them has taken him on a trip. Monkey is jonesing to be on the road. Won't you take monkey somewhere?
 Piece of advice: Don't let him drive (see Monkey See, Monkey Do).


hospital with a view

I like a mill town, though I hadn't counted on seeing this one so soon. Pittsburgh is built in bluffs around rivers, so it's not the easiest place to find your way around in. Not that I was going around all that much, seeing as I was the changing of the guard in the hospital. As it proved, the patient was able to leave, so now it's more like sitting on her to prevent her from leaping tall buildings in a single bound or getting on airplanes with a partially collapsed lung. A chance to revisit the Burgh. Y'uns come visit, now.


Leaving Manhattan

A sudden flight as night fell provided a scenic tour of the isle I had just left. After a world of pain and worry, the patient is better this ayem. And I'll be flying back to the city in a bit.

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guess that era!

My brother Ben on the left.

Poster for "The Creosote  Nightgown"
The files hold some alarming stuff. Take this handout for Ben's casino rock band in Lake Tahoe.  The hairdo —trust me—is a step up from his cruise ship white-boy fro. I am wondering what the playlist might have been. (Somewhere in the back depths of one of my scores of closets there will be a cassette tape.) You can be absolutely sure that it was a cover band.
  As for Blanca Uribe and the Creosote Nightgown, the band was a conceptual piece (ie total fabrication) by my college boyfriend. The far-out catchphrases should make carbon dating of this artifact a cinch.


i could write a book

Right now. If I were a writer I could spin this.
Certain People have been bothering about writing a book. Specifically, they want autobiography. I am not convinced a) that anyone wants to read stuff written in the first person b) particularly if that person is I (or anyone else over 30) and c) that they would pay for the privilege. With hundreds of thousands of books coming out each year, it's hard to make your way through the thicket with youth, beauty, sex and marketing.
  As I keep saying, I have enough half books and whole books and chapter outlines and book proposals in the drawer already. I even have two books that sold—one fiction and one nonfiction—that never saw print. Same old story: The editor left the house.
   And after being continuously and prominently in print as a magazine writer for decades, I have no desire to write a self-serving autobiography for my filing cabinet. As John Cheever so brilliantly said, “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”


claudia's then

John Gasner got this shot from a helicopter.
Year 2000. My daughter left for college. My lover left me. My magazine folded.
    But my stock options came in, and the septic system for Claudia's Surf City went in. My first rental season—yes, without porches—was in 2001. Three thousand a week. Some of those same people are still coming back every year, at $4700 a week. And now there are new people tussling over every week in July and August. People try flattery, tears, cajoling, anger, insistence and persistence to get the week they want. They want to reserve long in advance, as if I would accrue any benefit from that. (Repeat after me: "This is not a time share.") No one has tried bribery yet. I'm waiting.
   Sorry, I'm booked for the season.


this lovely item—sold?

No, not the pictures! This very distressed fireplace mantel.
    I put the following ad up on Craig's List a couple days ago, and got an immediate response.  
     Unless you have a taste for extremely faded grandeur, you are not going to like this item. I bought it from a housewrecking demo company in Pittsburgh for like $150 maybe twenty years ago. I enjoyed the illusion of warmth with some sleazoid fake electric logs for a long time. But then the logs burned out, and the mantel hung lonely from the wall. These days you can buy awesome electric fireplaces (see Amazon, Home Depot). But they lack a certain something: They look too unorganic. So I'm suggesting (if, indeed, you have the aforementioned taste for decayed opulence) that you purchase this piece for a pittance and transport it to somewhere its glories will be fully appreciated. I'm picturing a white boxlike apartment that needs zest. It measures about 53" high x 57" wide. The top is 62"x10" and I must disclose that it slopes alarmingly so may not be that suitable for chachkas. The opening (for that fine new firebox) is about 34" square. It's gonna be a cold winter.
   Note the dimensions.  Well, the woman was so excited, she said her sister and friend would pick it up immediately. Note that I clearly specified the dimensions above. They came, we carried it down to the lobby, it didn't fit in the car, we put it in the basement. Yesterday, same thing. The woman and her boyfriend came in a minivan cab, in howling wind and subzero weather attempted to get it in, didn't fit. They may try again today, but, frankly, I would give up. Meanwhile, another woman wants it. I figure my ad was convincing, because, much as I like it, it's a heavy piece of junk.


homage to frank martin

The sunset last evening in New York was a lurid red, promise of an evil day today. And indeed, it's 4 degrees with 45 mph gusts after a shorts day yesterday. But hey, I'm not complaining— I saw that picture of the ice-shrouded lighthouse in Michigan.
   Almost every day on Facebook, the editor/ newspaper publisher of a small paper somewhere in the Ozarks posts a limerick, some are lame, some inspired, but the sheer volume is impressive—maybe 350 so far. Sometimes his admirers riposte with a verse of their own, but he usually shoots them down. Amateurs, after all. Anyway, as with most of us these days, the weather is an, er, cold topic.
Here's one of Frank's :

Surely it can't be minus three,
you have to be kidding me,
but when you can, please,
pass the antifreeze,
my coffee has frozen on me

And one of mine:
 The winter has gone berserk
Far beyond a quirk
Bundled up like a geezer
In a deep freezer
And the next day dressed to twerk

It's catching. Please feel free to submit one of your own. And speaking of catching, here's a website following the flu north.


the old and the new

ready for action

Action! photo by Tommy V
Yes, that's ukulele music on the table in front of the photographer. I knew you were wondering.
It's a good time of year for being indoors with old friends and new.
And for getting rid of old stuff after getting a bunch of new stuff. I have a lot of great aloha shirts, if anyone needs any. My daughter, the style icon lauded here (and laughing above), won't be wanting them! Her great rebellion is to prefer the winter while I infinitely prefer the summer.



Monkey wishes someone would take him sledding.