There's some REALLY GOOD material coming up in The Rolex Saga, Part Four. So hang in!It will be here before you know it!


the rolex saga, part three

I mean, orchids of course!
The watch stopped again at least once and had to go back to Switzerland again, but then it worked for years. It swam in many oceans and took thousands of showers and had many adventures in many time zones and never skipped a beat. Until last month. Some hesitation and then—nothing.
   I took it off. Even though I don't consciously recall the time and date, I certainly registered when it was unavailable on my wrist. Yes, I know I have it on my phone, but its not the same. Like I need to look at my phone more often?
   I called Rolex. They said they no longer send watches back to Switzerland, and that it would likely cost six weeks and $800 to repair in New York.
   Meanwhile, I could not live without a functioning watch on my wrist, so I went to what Barrett calls "the drawer where you put things you don't know what to do with" and explored my options. There was the Mickey Mouse watch from Walmart that Barrett had given me, and the Saddam Hussein watch Ed had bought for me at a market in Iraq. The Mickey Mouse watch had a clasp that was easier to manage, so I had the battery replaced by a shoemaker on Broadway (go figure!).
   I wore both to the Fifth Avenue Rolex building for an estimate. You sit in a fancy waiting room, and they give you fancy water to drink while you wait to hand your fancy timepiece over to a fancy young woman.
In the Rolex waiting room


the rolex saga, part two

I wrote whoever was the president or CEO or whatever in Switzerland (I could probably Google the name up, but who cares?) and puffed off my LIFE magazine identity, my experience on Everest, and how pissed I was about the fact that my fancy watch had stopped there—when I really needed it to tell me when the cold cold night would be over.
   The result was a letter advising me to visit the Rolex repair department on the second floor of their Fifth Avenue store and speak to the manager. I dragged my feet. Unlike my ex-husband Douglas and my friend Barrett, I do not like stores. I do not like shopping. I do not like brand names.
  Meanwhile, Barrett says she had admired my watch all the way to Hawaii and decided she had to have one just like it. And Douglas's first wife, Jamie,  apparently liked it enough to buy one just like it, too. (And much, much later, my daughter, who at the time was only nine.)
   The watch started working again as soon as I was nearer sea level, so I didn't feel any urgency about fixing it. But Barrett came to town, and she urged me to go to Rolex. I don't remember this, but she claims that the guy took us out to lunch, and that she was wearing both her real Rolex and an identical fake one that she bought on Canal Street.
  All I remember is that my watch was sent to Switzerland for a couple of months to recuperate and that it cost me about $400. No loaner.


the rolex saga, part one

Hannah models the model of Rolex I had, as well as my self-conscious gesture.
This is not a holiday story, but it is about gifts and commercialism and family, so it is appropriate to the season.
   The beginning of the story is this: My then-husband Douglas gifted me (yes, a horrid locution) with a watch back in the 1980s. He had always liked watches—I bought him a Rolex in Jamaica on our honeymoon—and he thought I needed a fancy one. I had been wearing a tiny art deco watch that you had to wind. So he bought me the watch being modeled by our daughter above.
  I liked it. I didn't have to wind it, it was waterproof, and it told me what day i was. All I had to do was change the date once in a while, and the time, if I was in a different time zone. I never took it off, and when I consulted my watch, approximately every 30 seconds, I crooked my pinkie as if I were sipping a genteel cup of tea. That pose, too, is being modeled by my daughter, above. Everyone made fun of me for it—especially my brother-in-law's girlfriend, Barrett—but I couldn't help myself.
    Like I said, I never took the watch off. Until it stopped. On Everest. While there was a Rolex-sponsored expedition also on the mountain. At 22,000 feet. Boy was I pissed!
    That was 1991. I was 40.

Coming up: The Rolex Saga, Part Two!


oh shit

 To add insult to injury, shortly after I had my not annual physical, during which my doctor said I have high everything and basically need to quit eating and doing anything else other than going to doctors and the gym, I get the above from Con Ed. Con Ed??? Even they are giving me advice now that I am a senior citizen? I guess senior citizens are idiots.
   Well, I'd rather take advice from Donna, aging gracefully about a year ahead of me. She says that when her mother died a couple of months ago, she absorbed her mama's energy into her body, and her mother's energy is love. She says she has become more loving. And, indeed, I do think she is softer, though no less fierce.
  And then there's Miriam, who turns 90 next year. She has to do her physical therapy in the morning before she can even walk to the kitchen to make coffee. Don't have a stroke, she says. And the fall was even worse. And yet she hauls all over the neighborhood on errands with her walker. She volunteers as a docent at the Museum of Natural History. She goes out to theater or a movie most evenings. Sometimes, she admits, she would rather be dead. But mostly not. She is giving life her best effort every day. No Meals on Wheels for this broad.
Donna rips apart her book yet again to mix the love in.

Our friend Doro says of Miriam, "Damn millennials—always on their phones."


your christmas letter here

I love getting Christmas letters. But so far I have only gotten, like, two this year (part of this could be that I have not sent a card in years and never a letter). I have  made a template for those of you who still wish to send one out. It’s not too late!

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.
    We lost (RELATION) this year at the ripe old age of (AGE). 
    Our new (DOG/CAT/HEDGEHOG) is doing great!
    We are thinking of you, and hope to see you in the New Year after our trip to (PLACE TK). Have a great (HOLIDAY) and love to you and yours!
                                                   THE (SURNAME)S



birthday help

I have some help celebrating my birthday today. Also, I had some last night. Next year: 70. Of course I've been saying I'm 70 for a couple y ears now, so it won't come as a shock.
   And let me know how that birthday knee replacement goes today, Bill. I may be next on the list!
   Oh, and thanks for the gift of selling all your guns, Douglas. Better late than never!



Daughters Ali and Delia preside over a funny, tearful celebration.

When I moved into this apartment in 1977 (?), Tony and Toby and their toddler, Ali, were living in the apartment directly above me. The building was like a Time Inc. dorm. Frank, in the same apartment a few floors below, knew Tony and Toby from Time-Life Books. Douglas, who was introduced to the building by Frank, had worked at Time magazine, and I worked at People. Over the years, Tony and I would cross paths at People, the ill-fated TV-Cable Week and at Life. Sometimes we were colleagues; sometimes he was my editor and sometimes I was his. We bonded over our marginal Chinese. I suffered his jokes and marveled at his relentless good spirits. We all had kids, and we all grew up together. And the kids are friends, even down to the third generation.
   And even through death and divorce, we have remained family, running up and down the stairs for coffee or a cup of sugar and celebrating holidays together. Tony was staying with Toby, his ex and good friend, when he died. Their daughters, Alexis and Delia, put together a lovely memorial for him. I was hoping he'd be here this Thanksgiving, as he has often been in the past. He would have loved this party, with his favorite Swedish meatballs, sushi, lemon squares, vodka gimlets, etc. So sorry he missed it. 
That's Tony, standing to toast in the back a couple Thanksgivings ago.


resurrection hall

Awaiting the legend

With another legend
 Bob Dylan always has a great band. In fact, I saw him with The Band on The Last Waltz tour. And the band at the Beacon on what has been known for years as The Never-Ending Tour was excellent. However every tune was pretty uptempo and unrecognizable unless you could catch some of the words, which were unintelligible. Either the miking was bad or the singing was bad, or both. However, at least Bobby didn't turn his back on the audience, as he has been known to do. (At Farm Aid he refused to let me interview him but gave me an autograph.) He played honkytonk piano and had good energy for a 78-year-old. He played encores too.
   I was there to see a legend, no matter how he sounded, probably for the last time given my age as well as his, but I also wanted to see the Beacon Theater, which was restored ten years ago. I hadn't been there since—maybe Billy Idol?—and in my memory it was pretty damn funky. I gather the restorers, who had to remove eight layers of paint over the original 1929 murals, redo the gold leaf on the Amazon warrior women and other Greek and Egyptian motifs—as well as replace all lighting, plumbing, weave new carpeting etc—also found it pretty damn funky. I am amazed that the work took only seven months, though I'm sure prep was much longer. But the former vaudeville/movie hall is impressive. I guess they have to cater to an older, more sedate crowd (Ed said there was a long line of the prostate-challenged in the men's room), but the Allman Family (?) still plays a date or two. The acts are mainly older, like Jerry Seinfeld who plays there a lot. Hannah was surprised to see seats. She is accustomed to concerts with none. Anyway, the resurrection  of the Beacon was quite impressive. Almost as impressive as the continuation of he-who-shall-not-be-defamed.


hannah and the zombies

She's not a groupie/fan type, but lately Hannah has been going to concerts (if convenient) to meet and greet the artists whose guitar strings she collects for Wear Your Music. I think she's seen Ani DiFranco twice.
With The Zombies, who have aged some since Hullaballoo.
And then there was Rising Appalachia while in New York. They have a pretty stylin' video.
Tatooes and nose jewelry seem to be happening for all.


kids of thxgvng

2019 Thanksgiving: Isaac, Camilla, Ryan, Lulu (Donna Ferrato)

2015 (?) Thanksgiving: Ryan, Lulu, Camilla, Isaac
 They have to have a place at the table now—too big to fit around the coffee table. But they are still little enough to be wary of gravy, stuffing and other things with icky names. Rolls, turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, they can get with the program on that stuff. But the crowning glory of Thanksgiving is dessert. Ice cream, Hannah's apple pie, Ali's mousse, Miriam's cranberry chocolate squares. Now that's thnksgivin livin!

2019 Thanksgiving: The gang


tnxgvng ready

 Pumpkin pies (the first batch) done. Sweet potatoes in the oven. House cleaned (however temporarily). Beds made. Now awaiting the advent of my sister and family (sans dog) and Hannah and family (avec dog) tonight. The kids have had their outfits ready for a few days. One hopes that when turkey call comes for The Great American Eating Ceremony, Isaac completes his ensemble with trousers.


do not despair

Coming up: The Amazing Rolex Saga!
Right after: The Great American Eating Ceremony!



Next year Miriam will be 90, and I will be 70.
 Miriam is almost exactly 20 years older than I. But she's hella game. She gets around town more than I do. Well, that's not hard! But she works as a docent at the Planetarium,  goes out to movies and theater, and knows all the best restaurants. She introduced me to the kosher, vegetarian, Indian dosa place we usually meet. We met for her birthday, and will meet again for mine soon. Meanwhile, she was off, avec walker,  to get a pedicure.
Maybe this dog wants to buy a college student.


more entertainments

 The peripatetic Keri Pickett returned to the apartment of no regrets for another brief stay, during which she was entertained by another visiting photog, ie the infamous Donna Ferrato. After recovering from their visit, I headed out to my former home town in Westchester to visit my former (and final) ME at Life magazine., and we had a good old gossip about office politics. For some reason, I failed to take a single picture.


the eyes have it

 The latest in my visiting photographers series has been Keri Pickett, photographer and filmmaker, in from Minneapolis and Key West (does she have a good life or what!). Her short film about Key West's Fantasy Fest will be shown soon in the (what else?) the Key West Film Fest.
   She followed Chien-Chi, a photographer cum filmmaker, who was in from Graz. He has been spending considerable time in Hong Kong photographing the protests, as well as going back to Myanmar. He displayed the scars from an  attack by a tiger there. It stuck its paw through the bars of the cage and clawed him. He has endured a series of rabies shots.


trick of the light

When the sun comes in in odd directions,  mysterious shadows and reflections appear like grace notes and —confections? corrections? defections? Not working for me. Frank???


nights in

 The galas began on Friday evening, with a dinner party of former Time Inc. friends, and I guess it must have been a good party since it lasted nine hours—not that I particularly remember the last three. I know that it was a three Diet Pepsi night for Adam. There was still some food and wine left over the following day, fortunately, because a writer turned photographer friend came by to contemplate his upcoming show and then we were later joined by visiting photographer Chien-Chi Chang, who consumed, as usual, all the leftovers in the fridge. What tonight holds I do not know.


night out

A little bit of Missouri in New York City. Judge David came to town for something he is the best judge of, i.e. wine. He has some hoity toity tasting at Hudson Yards this evening, and as a warmup he took me to a hoity toity restaurant last night. It's called Upland, and is upscale in terms of pricing and clientele. The sonic ambiance was a trifle bright for a couple of rapidly deafening (?) oldsters, but the visuals were nice. We went full-on seafood, which may have been a mistake. The fried calamari was good, but heavily adulterated with potato. The ceviche was not anything like the Mexican tulip-glass type I expected, and the cioppino tasted like it had a can of tomato paste dumped into the broth. I prefer that at La Petite Crevette, possibly because the one time I ate there chef Neil, of Flying Lobster fame, hosted us. The marguerita pizza at Upland was damn good. We ordered too much food, and had to take half of the za away. Sorry, once a reviewer, always a reviewer. Anyway, it was very fun to see David here in town, and very nice of him to entertain me. But that is one of his specialties as well.

David tries to hide from the camera's all seeing eye.


real estate news

Always fascinated by construction. This is the reno going on across the street from 98. I can anticipate many days of voyeuristic pleasure watching other people work.
   In other news, Frank and Dianne are selling off a couple of their dozen or so rent houses in and around West Plains, Mo. This one is notable for its acreage and stables (why they don't mention the pool is beyond me!), and this one for its price.
    I have given up trying to interest anyone in property in T'ville, though now that the cafe is open (see on Facebook) y'all may be more inclined.


hot boiled

Whenever I am down south, especially in Georgia, I have my eyes peeled for this sight. I then slam on the brakes and screech to the side of the road. This last trip I took the precaution of buying raw Valencia peanuts in the shell so that I could boil them myself when I got home. I bought three two-pound bags at Piggly Wiggly in Sylacauga and have gone through half. BTW, boiled peanuts are good for you. But I vastly refer buying green and just-boiled peanuts by the side of the road. Only fly in the ointment: I do not have the true southerner's ability to eat them while driving.


break time

"It'll be a great place—if they ever finish it." So said O. Henry of New York City, and it's never seemed more true as the skyline heaves and sprouts and the streets are perennially rooted up. On 82nd Street they are doing something or other to some pipes or other, and virtually every building has scaffolding for repointing.
   Meanwhile I feel like I should be doing reno on my little piece of New York. But where to begin? Seems like it should be infrastructure, but that is not my job. So maybe I'll just start by going to the dentist and the doctor and the gym. Construction worker, heal thyself.
Ceilings need work.

Electricals need work.


new york, new york

 I reconsidered and put out a pumpkin to welcome trick or treaters from the building. Got like four groups was all. Now the season moves from scary to thankful. Where's that Indian corn or whatever it's called now?
   It appears that the Apartment of No Regrets will not be looking its best for the holidays. Extensive water damage in halls, bedroom and bathroom (sadly, recently painted) won't be fixed any time soon. The building managers don't want to spend the money. And they apparently have no regrets.

The place is still pretty great though.


halloweens past

Block Island, 2017
 Typically, I have spent Halloween on Block Island, on the most memorable of which we tried to capture a ghostly horse in the fog. But this morning I woke up thinking about a Halloween 56 years ago, when my father told his wife and his children that he was leaving. My mother, needless to say, was a mess.
   So I was the one who rallied the troops for trick or treating. Chris, as I recollect, was a tree, wrapped in brown paper bags and holding a branch in each hand. It was not easy to walk nor to carry a candy bag. Ben was the standard sheet ghost where the eye holes kept slipping sideways and he stumbled and couldn't see. Erin, who was five, was a gypsy, I think, though my memory is unclear. I have no recollection of my own costume, if any.
   Last year the four of us, both parents recently dead, gathered in New Orleans for a cousin's wedding—and Halloween and the Day of the Dead. I didn't think of that long ago Halloween then.
New Orleans, 2018

New Orleans, 2018