we love art

 Kate Knapp's closing show at The Open Center took place in a hallway between an aromatherapy workshop and a presentation about how to find your intuition. Maybe appropriate given the fact that many of Katie's paintings are florals and all are guided by her intuitive sense of color. The few devotees of her art who showed up at rush hour in holiday season New York were wowed by what they saw.



Kate Knapp's show closing party. At the Open Center, 22 E 30th. Five to seven tonight. Be there!


at 67

Best birthday cards ever! (Also Hanukkah and Xmas)

They say it's my birthday.
Got a gift last night when sweet home Alabama went for a Democrat for the first time since—

I am planning a very special day today.
 I will do the wash.
I will pay bills.
I will fix the toilet seat.
Is that enough?

Self-check selfie at 67.


don't lean on me

I woke up from the dream laughing. In the dream I had been singing karaoke to Bill Withers' song  Lean on Me, but inverted it (a la ego rock) to Don't Lean on Me. It went something like this:

 Don't lean on me, when you're not strong
 I won't be your friend, won't help you carry on
 It won't be long til you're gonna need somebody to lean on.
Don't call on me brother, when you need a hand
(You always need somebody to lean on)

Cracked me up! The last time I woke up laughing from a song I'd revised in a dream was The Boxtops' The Letter:
Get me a ticket for an aeroplane. Don't have time to take a fast train.
Lonely days are gone, I'm a goin' home
My baby knit me a sweater


the christmas letter

Don't the tootsies get cold? And the tushie? 79th and Broadway
I love getting Christmas letters. Lately, however, they have been getting increasingly odd—kind of the opposite of Facebook. I have therefore made a template for those of you who wish to send one out. It’s not too late!
   In a coming post I will present my own, which would be a doozie this year! Let me just say that I was NOT blown up by a suicide bomber today! Good news for the holidays!

Dear Friends and Family,
    (SEASON’S GREETINGS/MERRY CHRISTMAS)! It has been quite a year! We took some great trips to (PLACE) and (PLACE) back in (MONTH) before (NAME) was diagnosed with (DISEASE). Ever since it has been doctors and tests and (TYPE SURGERY). I have had my problems as well with my (KNEE/BACK/OTHER BODY PART). The (TYPE THERAPY) seems to be working, when I have time to do it what with driving (NAME) to (HIS/HER) appointments every week.
    The kids are good. (SON/DAUGHTER) had their (FIRST/SECOND/OTHER NUMBER) child. (HE/SHE) weighed (POUNDS/OUNCES) and is called (NAME), after (WHAT RELATION). (SON/DAUGHTER) and (HIS/HER/THEIR) (SPOUSE/PARTNER) have (SEPARATED/DIVORCED). Of course we are sad, but it will all work out (FOR THE BEST/OK).
   Our (DOG/CAT) is doing great!
   We are thinking of you, and hope to see you in the New Year. Have a great (HOLIDAY) and love to you and yours!
                                                   THE (SURNAME)S


o tannenbaum

 So the kids went tree-cutting. That child above looks just like her mother (who took these pictures) did when we took her tree cutting.
We did not have any Santa hats, however.



Photo by Kay Maddux
"I had a day of cardinal sins," my neighbor announced. "I did not get dressed. I did not make the bed. I did not brush my teeth."
    She didn't take her calcium either. Though she did take a bath.
"Whose rules are these?" I asked.
"My parents, of course!"
Never mind that she's closing in on 80.
"Even though your parents are dead, it doesn't mean that you're not affected by their rules," she said. She was pleased that despite these moral failings she no longer believes she's going to hell.
   And speaking of failings, and not getting out of bed or getting dressed, I finally cut up the pineapple and tidied up the apartment from Thanksgiving—yesterday. But then, my parents were not whispering in my ear. This is the Apartment of No Regrets, after all. A better place to be housebound I can't imagine.


the house of contamination

Yeah, I know, I'm a big loser. I never call, I never write—and this in the season of conviviality!
I am still sick. Coughing all night, sleeping all morning and finally arising to meet the day. I am now capable of completing two or three tasks and maintaining perhaps one conversation though the sound is a little rusty. I have not been outside since before Thanksgiving. May attempt to buy milk today because the whipped cream I have been using for my coffee seems to have turned. (Unless it is my taste buds that have turned.) Anyway I have taken no new pictures. I guess I could go back into the archives—some 35,000 frames there by last count—but no. I think I'll finish making the turkey soup and maybe straighten up instead.


why not providence?

Furthering the family's reputation as, ahem, real estate magnates of Rhode Island, Hannah and Chris are purchasing Yet Another property on Providence's fashionable East Side and renting out their old one.
Here are the links to both. Dunno how long the new one will stay up on Zillow. Nor how long the old one will stay up on Craigslist for that matter! A great place!


great american eating ceremony 2017

 For the record, this year's crowd—minus Alaa and Kay, who hadn't arrived yet.
Sorry I didn't post before, but I am under the weather with what A Certain Friend says is my annual cold. Still thankful, though socked by the sale of Time Inc to Koch Bros. money.


ny frame of mind

Camilla will not be attending Thanksgiving in New York, though she has created a Thanksgiving decoration. She has big plans for Christmas-New Year's, however. Last year she wanted to visit the dinosos myoseeum, senchrel prak and a couple of other spots. This year, apparently, she has a new list of New York sites and sights.


the flying dog

We bid adieu to Oscar (and Peter and Jamie) this am. We'll miss them. And will bid hello to Chris and Lynn on Wednesday am. Between those times we have some shopping to do. Sitting down 18 for the Great American Eating Ceremony, it looks like.


woo woo woo!

 Fab pix of our little Woozie, who's birthday is today. Last night she opened in "And Then There Were None," an Agatha Christie mystery playing in Minneapolis. If you live near there, check her out! Love you, Woo! Happy birthday!


dropping by

 There have been houseguests—and some visitors who just dropped by as they repointed bricks on the building's facade. Some did pointed tricks as they danced for food (that's Oscar, the only animal currently allowed at the Dowling Intercontinental). (Oh, and Jamie, his owner.) Please scroll down for as many links as I can bear to post right now.
You can see Aunt Mimi's Usonia Frank Lloyd Wright house in the Daily Mail. I spent one Thanksgiving there asleep in the corner—except that it is a circular house so no corner. I guess you'd have to call it a perimeter.
A friend of Johnny's, Jeffrey Millstein has a new photo book out, aerials of LA and NYC.
Kate Knapp, my fave living painter, has some paintings up at The Open Center in Manhattan.
And for those of you envious of my clean refrigerator, yesterday was Clean Refrigerator Day, and the Times posted up some instrux for how to clean, too late for me, alas.


50 years!

So Robert and Ellen (at left, above, and yes that's Douglas, Johnny and Jane) were given a surprise 50th anniversary party by their daughters. When she thanked "our parents for giving us such a happy childhood," the elder daughter got tearful, as did we all.
And in a related thought. Fifty years?? I can only honor anyone who can conceive of being hitched for that long! And below are two couples who gave up after around 20 years but attended the party together, managing to behave as grownups for a few hours.


beautiful kauai

There's an island that calls across the sea, in the lyrics of Beautiful Kauai, which you can hear a version (and see a hula) of here. I don't know why as soon as I got home I started thinking about Kauai and my friends there. Maybe because there was a nip of winter in the air? Or the concept of home? Not sure. Anyway, I was homesick enough to Google up the Big Save grocery store in Waimea and look around to see if the "downtown" looked the same in street scene. Well it does. (PS Is that my truck?) I wasn't able to follow the Menehune road all the way to Ruth's castle, at the very end. But I am thinking of her, and of Jimmy and Connie and Owen and Pepito and all my friends, some dead and some living. I guess I better get back there.
PS My aged refrigerator still works.
Also, a great space for rent in Providence from Hannah's friend Mira here.https://providence.craigslist.org/apa/d/gorgeous-waterfront-apartment/6358286478.html


the big thaw

The refrigerator at Claudia's in Block Island is shut down for the season.
 My life is filled with refrigerators. I have five. One of them (the beer refrigerator I keep in the living room) came with my apartment and has to be defrosted the old fashioned way—with pans of hot water. The other one I bought when we brought Hannah home to New York at age one. That would mean it will be 35 years old in January. It looks pretty beat up (see below), but it is still running. And running. And running. I decided to give it a break, but I'm not ready to give it up. I looked at all the new ones that will fit in my space, and they all seem less than.
   The 1950s Frigidaire I had in Missouri worked pretty well, except for this habit it had of freezing my vegetables. And it was very beautiful. But after it went through the flood, I gave up and bought a new one that will likely last about five years.
   In Block Island over the course of the last 17 years at Claudia's, I have had to buy three refrigerators. At Hannah's I have already bought two in 10 years. Not a great record considering they only run for three or four months a year. There are brownouts and power surges; there is salt air. And it may not be good for them to be turned on and off.
   So I was worried when I turned off the 35-year-old in New York. It has run continuously since 1983—except for the famous blackouts. I guess I felt sorry for it, held together with duct tape as it is. Stay tuned for word on whether it goes back on.
The 35-year-old workhorse in New York is cleaned up and allowed to dry out.


woo hoo

Now with computer! Using my mom's, and back in business.


En train

Home again on the Upper White Side. Hit the ground entertaining and looks like that's how it will be until January. Hope to solve the computer thing soon. Maybe even tomorrow. 


Closing time

Seems like I'm always opening or closing. This time of year it's closing. Today was the first nippy morning, and I'm headed out. 


Storm city

Gusts up to 60 mph; steady 35-40. Rockin and rollin on Block Island. No boats. Big waves. 


Strange days

I must apologize for the brevity of these posts, but my two vices collided, and my computer was baptized with beer. Hence for the foreseeable future, this blog will be more pictorial than verbal. 


Stormy weather

Sam Savage (his real name) (when I made his reservation on the ferry the woman on the phone told me she had just made a reservation for a Sam Studley and we both got hysterical) hauled in from the mainland bearing storm doors. And sure enough he had to fight a storm to install them. Winds of 30 mph and driving rain did not make it easy, but he got 'er done. Bitchin, Mr. Savage!

Post time

I am having issues posting. Will keep trying! But not working on my phone and my computer is lame. 


the happy couple

I can't think of Pat and Marilyn one without the other. They were college sweethearts, and they entwined like honeysuckle vines for more than 50 years. Their lives were full of tragedy—they lost a daughter and her daughter to a congenital heart condition—but they had lots of love, too, and each other. They memorialized their daughter with a horse therapy program for the multiply disabled children at the Helen Keller center in Talladega, Ala. You can read about it in this article I wrote for People magazine.
   Anyway, while I was in Alabama in August, Marilyn had just been diagnosed with some bad cancer, so I didn't go to see them. But last Thursday I got to thinking about them and texted my cousin in Alabama to ask after Marilyn. He told me she had died the day before. I can't imagine what it must be to lose a lifelong partner. Pat and Marilyn.


shot black and white

As many of you doubtless know, there is one of these chain-letter things going around on social media called the black and white challenge. You are supposed to shoot one black and white picture for seven days and each day nominate someone else to do it. I hate these things, but Tracey Dillon tapped me (I blame her!) and so I'm doing it with one exception. Not passing it along—so that all of my friends who don't like homework assignments won't get mad at me. So far I have learned one thing from the exercise, which is that no matter how classic b/w looks, I prefer color.

Vote now! Vote often!


chaos theory

 I am branching out. Magazines may be dead, but advertorial magazines appear to be thriving. This essay appears in a title called "Ideas of Order" put out by California Closets. Thoughtful stories, classy layout, great production, nice paper. I am not sure how or to whom it's being distributed, but you can see the full issue here. I reproduce my text below. Please note the prescient mention of natural disasters!

Tidying up: The Dialectics of Order

The world is too big. We can’t wrap our little minds around it, so we frame it, contain it. Stack it. Sort it. Strap it. Pat it. Prune it. Slice and dice it. We stereotype and generalize, categorize and organize. Because it’s all Too Much Information.  We can’t even.
   The eye imports the unintelligible jumble, and the brain sorts it, color codes it, tries to break it down to recognizable images and make sense of it. A photographer picks one frame from the torrent of input in his or her field of vision and simplifies, looking for some intrinsic logic. In that one selected frame, a picture can capture harmony and meaning. Outside the frame is—well, all that other stuff. Three hundred and sixty degrees of relentless reality.

So make the world smaller. Pull the camera back, a spaceshot away from the chaotic mess of humankind, and experience the music of the spheres as they whirl in orderly circles. Get closer and there are our gridlike cities and parking lots, the meticulous rows of corn and terraces of rice we have imprinted on the landscape. Rivers snake and mountains erupt according to their own natures, and still we try to groom and manicure the very earth itself.
    Or get very close to a photographic frame and examine the pixels. The word comes from “picture elements,” a human construct that makes an image into a pointillist grid of dots or squares, a Seurat or Chuck Close writ exceeding small. Get closer still, with an electron microscope, and it’s the natural order again: tiny solar systems of atoms. 

The world is too dangerous. People need patterns to cope. Is that dappling the effect of the sun shining through leaves—or the spots of a leopard? You have to decide quickly, and the more deeply encoded the patterns, the faster your brain can process. Sometimes it’s good to be on autopilot. Decision-making is exhausting. Friend or enemy? Here or there? This or that? Stash or trash? What goes with what? What to put in, what to leave out.

So make the world safer. Make it more predictable. Standardize. If you can’t find patterns, construct them. Make big box stores with identical layouts. Stand in the place where you live and think about directions. Invent numbers to mark street and highway signs. Create emojis. Make symbols—a picture of a mortar and pestle for an apothecary’s shop or letters to brand a chain drug store—so you know what to expect when you walk through the door. People like familiar packaging. Pattern recognition. 

The world is out of control. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires. Deserts blooming. Tropical fish straying into northerly waters. The strange migrations of birds.  We’ve never been able to control the weather, but it seems crazier than ever. And then there’s the everyday stuff we can’t control— delays, malfunctions, our children, appetites, our tempers. No wonder we have control issues.

So control your own chaotic world. We get a little OCD.  We make our immediate environment more manageable by cutting it into byte-sized pieces. A two-year-old sorts her shoes into pairs and places them in a careful circle around her feet.  A wage slave squares his laptop and makes a flurry of decisions about where to file each piece of paper floating around the office.  A housekeeper arranges cushions symmetrically on the couch. Human beings crave symmetry. In a face, it is perceived as beauty; in our surroundings, it is perceived as clarity. Clear the decks. Clear the desk. Clear the mind.

But the world is too big.  Something always messes with our neatnik framework, an inner Oscar to our inner Felix. Perfect order is the impossible dream. We can organize into pixels and fractals and pterodactyls, but the next thing you know—kablam! All bets are off. There is no final cut. Fifty-two pickup. Toss all the cards in the air, and they fall in a new pattern. Synchronicity? Maybe.
   Chaos theory posits that new patterns are jumpstarted by tiny initial actions, that a butterfly’s wing or a swimmer’s flutter kick can cause a concatenation of events that result in a tornado in Kansas. So, Dorothy, here’s to new beginnings.  Embrace the process. Chaos is creative. This is the pleasure and the paradox. A tabula rasa. We get to start over, creating order and serenity from chaos. In that inchoate mess are so many possibilities. Because the world is so big, and so very beautiful.


by the sea

 They were surfcasting yesterday and surfing some days before. People hock me because I haven't been to the beach since I got back, but I'm happy just to hear the sea and see the sea. I never get tired of the waves and the sky and the way the horizon divides the two.


sunset with architectural elements

Epic sunsets. Wouldn't know about the sunrises, though I've heard they're nice too.
    The exterminator, Correna ("I'm your girl"), was here today. It's a pleasure to meet someone so excited about her work, even though it does involve bugs, rats, mice and—her nemesis—acrobat ants! That's what I have.  "They're eating your house! This whole island is sand!" As yet no termites have migrated to the island, but she suspects they will one day. She swears her spray will not harm animals or people. I sign on the dotted line.


then and now

 Four years ago this itty bitty baby and his big sister visited Block Island on Columbus Day weekend. Some things haven't changed. But some things have!


full moon empty boat

I know, I know. I haven't posted for a few days. But I've been booking the houses and spending enough time on the computer. Hopefully better after the weekend!


scenic block island

 You never know. One day it's summer weather, the next day stormy weather. But you can count on the skies being extreme.
  In other news, the linen service has come up with most of my vanished towels. So I'm a happy renter.