Oh bother. So I bent over the Areobed I was filling up for Hannah guys, and it sucked a hunk of my hair in. I couldn't get it out. Twisted up hair is very strong—I now see how those acrobats hang from their tresses. I could not pull or wiggle it out, so it was the snip snip. Now Hannah wants to cut the rest of it to match.She points out that I haven't changed my hairstyle, like, ever. Had a bad experience with short hair in junior high. (As did she, BTW.)  It would be chin length, like Milla's. Should I?
Be very careful how you respond.


mid century modern

Gifted recently with several lovely recipes, I decided to share Bakeless Fruitcake. So seasonal—and easy—with its base of graham cracker crumbs and marshmallows! If you like, I can also share with you the recipe for Hickory Fruitcake (requires baking) or for Coffee Jelly. And then there's the entry "Delicious Grits." This recipe calls for a stick of butter, a "roll of Kraft's Garlic Cheese" and is topped with crushed Fritos.
Ah, the good old days!



No one put a gun to her head—or rather, they put two guns to her head. But it was her idea. Five years old, at the same age her mother had her ears pierced, Camilla was bound and determined to go through with it. She carefully picked out the butterfly earrings she would put on when her ears had healed. And then it was time. The dots were positioned on her tender lobes. The guns were aimed (smart to do them both at once so a child doesn't have to go through the waiting all over again). Kachung. Done. And four months later, she can wear the butterflies.



My Hero, Kate Knapp, 2016

The first self-portrait @1968
 So. It's that self-check time of year. Where are you at? What do you want to change? How do you see your life developing in the coming year? (And concomitantly: if not now, when?) Whatever medium is yours, sit down with it and talk to yourself.  Yoga, meditation, writing, making music, singing in the shower. It doesn't have to be fancy.
   Kate has been painting a self portrait once a year since she was in her teens. (I lost the info she sent me about these pictures, alas.) "I feel like I need to check in with myself every so often," she says. Inspirational.
The Rogue's Gallery: Katie through the ages


gift horse

Gifts can come at any time of the year. The best—and the worst—gifts are things you would never think to buy yourself. The magazine at left falls into one of those categories. Someone has gifted me with subscriptions to Bridal Guide and Popular Photography, a gear magazine. They are addressed to me at a house in Block Island where I do not receive mail and forwarded to me in New York. Not only do I dislike subscriptions that pile up outside whichever house I'm not living in at the time—but these titles? Somebody, somewhere is having a laugh. Please step forward!


happy birthday erin!

As a teenager
My beautiful sister. She is one of the lucky ones: Her birthday falls within two days of Christmas. Over the years, this meant fewer presents (they could be "combined") and less hoopla in general. Others of my near and dear know how that is also. It also means that occasionally, like today, her famous Christmas party falls on the same day as her birthday. Add to that the fact that her daughter Madison is getting home from Americorps on this very same day for a short break before going off to Tacoma to build for Habitat for Humanity, and this is a special, not to mention frantic, day indeed.
Enjoy all the celebrations, E!
This day's for you!


madison's room

Madison's room is waiting for her. She left it to go off for an adventure after high school, and it has been empty since. Well, empty of Madison. A lot of her stuff is there. Neater, since her mom cleaned it up. Will it seem small when she comes home for Christmas? Or will it she sink back into it like a warm, downy nest? Madison will be home soon. Maybe today.
#illbehomeforchristmas #childhoodsend #madisonsroom


the tub, part 3

The tub crate still awaits disposal—the dump was closed when I ditched the truck and split.

 You thought the tub thing was over, right? Think again. It has yet to be installed.
  That's the drain to the previous tub on the left, from below. Note that the water pipes are on the other side of that beam, which they can't be run across. The current water pipes that emerge upstairs will have to be capped off, which means a hole will have to be made—and repaired— in the wall. And then we can install the chic, floor-mounted tub filler that this type of tub is meant to have.
 This will require, if all goes well, at least two visits from a mainland plumber, not to mention a carpenter. Someone was out of their mind when they conceived of this project. And had a contractor quoted me what in the end it will cost, I would have laughed in his (or her) face. Plus I had to, belatedly, ascertain what the structural load of the house frame is to make sure that the nearly one ton of tub, water and people wouldn't fall through the floor.
  But, hey, in the end I won't have a plug-in bathtub with the tease of those non-working Jacuzzi jets
The new tub (foreground)awaits the removal of the old one—if we can get it out.


a nod to christmas

The coffee pot and the elephant amuse me—with thanks to Doro for the bough of holly!


all i want for christmas

I have made something of a tradition of Christmas lists, but usually they were my nice nieces'. Now the kindergartner is getting in on the act. And if you don't know what a hatchimal is, you better get some age diversity into your life. Or google it up.


#the vicarious life

The sewing machines were idle. Everyone else had left for the day. She sat, looking down, maybe searching wedding dresses or texting with a friend via WhatsApp. Or just waiting for the end of her shift. Had I still been a journalist, I might have gone in and asked her what she was thinking. I might have sat with her until she closed up and went home to Queens. I might have met her family, eaten their food and patted their dog. I might have tried to sleep on the floor and wondered whether the money—the life—was worth the sacrifice of country and culture and how I could find out what she was dreaming. I might have gone back to work with her the next day and lived with her until she was sick of me and my black T-shirts, if a little flattered that someone found her fascinating. But I no longer live the vicarious life. So I walked on, in my own shoes, with my own dreams. #thevicariouslife


66: almost the number of the beast


“And how are you?”
    This is what people ask. I say, “I’m good.” I don’t really like talking about myself. And I am good. I have a loving—and huge— family, wonderful friends, enough money, great places to live, work, health, a rich social life. OK, I don’t do enough museums or go out enough. But, hey, I drive all over the freaking country!
    Every year one of my friends paints a self-portrait to record how she’s doing. Every time I sit down at the keyboard, I am doing a selfie, even if I am not technically writing about myself. I will have to ask her if she feels that way about her quotidian paintings.
   Yes, I drink too much beer, and I weigh too much. My mother is absolutely convinced that the two are related. Does it also have something to do with my blood pressure?  Not that I’ve dared measure it in the last year and a half.
    Most of you know that my heart was broken then. (Maybe literally, though that’s for a cardiologist to say. I will go to the doctor when I have lost the 20 pounds I spent the past year putting on—which is all a physician would tell me to do anyway.) How someone can tell you they love you for more than two decades and then dump you over the phone. . .  Insult to injury: a gift certificate to Zabar’s discovered in my bedside drawer.
    I may debut a new hashtag for journalists, specifically photographers. #thevicariouslife.
    I’m pretty much over it. I like living alone, not having to compromise 24 and 7 and tell someone where you’re going and how you’re spending your money and discussing every meal. “What’s for lunch?” Fuck that! I think, I write, I party. For the first two, I need solitude. For the latter, I need company.
    Once in a while I wish I had someone to make love to. And tell secrets. And every time I open and close a house for the season—six times a year—I like the concept of someone who has my back. That requires deep history or blood. The people I love mostly have other, nearer, claims on their attention. But every coupled one of you is going to be where I am now—unless you die or file for divorce before your partner. Sorry. Truth. (And quite appositely, here is a lovely piece in the New Yorker.)
    So don’t forget about the other people you love. You will need them, and they will need you. I feel badly about the relationships I’ve let slide and vow to do better. Let me know if I’ve been neglectful. I love you.
   And how are you?


horse of a different color

 From the moment she saw The Ugly Horse, Kate Knapp, painter of legend, believed that it needed repainting. She always thought the horse should be blue. (Channeling Franz Marc?) So when she got here, she started asking for paint. She wound up buying a kids' palette of acrylic paint at the Guggenheim, used one of my housepainting brushes and went to town. Fifteen minutes later—et voila!—a horse of a different color. And somehow or another the animal looks friendlier, too.


grinch stuff

Sorry, Christoween always gets me a bit cranky. I'm all for evergreens and cookies and carol singing and candles and eggnog and hot cider and even midnight mass (atheist as I am). But I am not into consumerism. At all.
    So for others with similar urges to puke when mama goes mouth-to-mouth with Santy Claus, I offer up the 2016 Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalogue.
  I am sure that other such misanthropic sites exist. Feel free to flag me or weigh in.
Take that, Santa Baby


the doctor is in

Now saving the world one person at a time.

Miriam's outsider artist sister, one of whose fabulous works
 Miriam was a reporter at Life magazine when I met her. Elegant and beautiful, she didn't resemble the ink-stained wretches of legend. And she wanted something more than a career in journalism: She wanted to help people. It was a hard road of late-night math classes and serious testing—between stories—but she got into medical school, specialized in psychiatry and opened up her practice while
is here, was part of Miriam's inspiration for a career change.
having twins—and a husband dying of cancer. Talk about multitasking. And all of that in her late 30s.
      And here she is today: Supershrink. A doctor, mother, wife and all round good person. A story in herself. Fortunately for me, she has moved her office into my neighborhood so perhaps I can see her more often. Her gentle, caring presence alone is curative.

"So, how's it going?" Miriam in her office.


upstate to hudson

Janet welcomes us to  Mansion Row—and suite.
 The Hudson River is a grand one, and by train you travel right along it, up from the city, past the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges, past the town I grew up in and Sing-Sing prison, and West Point and Bear Mountain and Poughkeepsie where I went to college and Hyde Park and on up into yuppie country. Ed and I touched down in Hudson with plans to see Katie's latest gallery and our old Life buddy Peter. We immediately went out to lunch (it's what we're good at) with Peter and wife
Janet, moseyed down to see Katie and Mike, back to Peter's for a party which became so lively that we blew off the train home.
   I was given the future B-and-B suite, which was great, while Ed had to be contented with the guest room. And we got to  head back to town in the daylight and enjoy the Hudson River Valley all over again. A swell, if unexpected weekend.
The LIFE crew must have communicated about the shirts.


deer in the headlights

The Artist Kate Knapp picked a winter scene that I quite liked for the window of her gallery on Warren Street in Hudson, N.Y. That is, I liked the picture but for one thing: the deer in the foreground. It turned out she had added the deer later, feeling that an element was missing. And she liked the way the deer's antlers referred to the tree branches, as her husband Mike points out (above).
I don't think I would be able to tolerate critics like me if I were an artist. But Katie listened patiently to all praise (left) and criticism.


the book of nyc

 They came,
they saw,
they walked.
And they took in
 a lot of cultcha,
as you can
plainly see
from Bill's
tiny (3-by 4-inch?)
letterpress  book
(very cleverly
folded from one
sheet of paper).

It wasn't like the Ozarks,
 nor yet Arizona.
It wasn't
Los Angeles or
North Carolina.
It was New York, New York,
the city so nice
 they named it twice.
So they hadda walk.
And buy epsom salts
for the feet.