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



 Another 98 Riverside Drive family member will not be with us this Thanksgiving. I got the following message from Tony's daughter Ali today. It was not a surprise—Tony had been in a coma for 25 days after collapsing with heart failure on the 79th Street subway platform—but it is a sorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen, Tony has left the building. 
    He died on Monday, with me and Delia by his side. We'd just played some of his best tunes, thanked him for being such a great dad and toasted him with his favorite cocktail of all time after smuggling the ingredients into the hospital. It was a sendoff I know he'd appreciate. The whole thing very peaceful and left no doubt in my mind that he was ready to move on and be done with hospitals for good. 
    No funeral, but we'd like to have a memorial gathering that incorporates the things Tony loved best: friends and family, food and drink, memories and jokes (even if his often made you groan instead of laugh!). Once we have something planned, we'll let everyone know. 
    Thanks for all the support, kind words and fun stories you all shared during these dark and sad few weeks. They buoyed me and Delia — and Dad would have been so grateful to you for that. 
With love,


the blue goose

 They had been shooting a movie in Madison, Ga., and when I got there about a month ago, Barrett took me to see one of the sets they'd built.
It was a juke joint called the Blue Goose. It looked like they had finished shooting. The place was wide open, so we just walked in.   B thought I'd get a kick out of it since, to refresh your memory, I had just left my place known as the Goose.
 Actually, my place says "The Spotted Goose" right above the picture of the goose, but I have never used the adjective. Not big on adjectives in any case.
I think I like the picture of me that B took better in color than black and white, though the latter looks more historical. Wasn't wearing my juke joint clothes.


pastor without borders

Actually, it's more like Pastors Without Boundaries, a church in which you are welcome no matter where you may fall in the animal kingdom or on the astral plane. The Rev. Christian Mink welcomes many guest ministers as well as you, simple voyeurs:
    "Greetings , friends and parishioners, be ye with two feet or four, or more! Mark your calendars  This  Sunday our guest speakers will be the Reverend Keith Rex and his daughter, Macey, a small terrier. Their topic will be "Parenting Your Fur Babies through their Tough Teen Years." As many of you know, Reverend Rex is a busy man! With six children and four retail stores to manage, he knows the importance of establishing boundaries. He’s been doing a great job of convincing his children that he has rights, too, but I did hear that he’s still ending up on the floor at bedtime.
   "Oh well!  Win some, lose some, Rev! 
   "Praise Him! Castro Convertibles are very mid-century, right?
God is always in control!
   "Following the Reverend’s sermon, Miss Macey will demonstrate the techniques she has developed over the years for keeping her siblings firmly but gently under control. No biting, Macey! Jesus does not condone biting!"
Rev. Christian Mink has plans to fill that billboard with upcoming metaphysical lectures.

The historic Georgia church will host paranormal phenomena former parishioners could only pray for.


the apartment of no regrets

I'm home. Back in the Apartment of No Regrets! Very grateful to be here and be done with closing up houses for another year. The wall calendar still says April.
   What was in the truck? The last of the island dahlias, the paint that wouldn't survive the winter, a spare vacuum cleaner for Missouri, a load of candles for the season ahead, three onions, a half bag of flour and a pound of Zabar's coffee I didn't use up. Oh, and two  bitchin key chains my son-in-law found in Memphis.



 The storm was over. The sun set, the full moon rose, and all was calm on Block Island—except at the bars. And islanders got ready to heave a sigh of relief at season's end.


why the boat isn't running

This is why the ferry isn't running—the wind is in the wrong quarter and there are big waves over the breakwater. Actually a couple came across the road in front of my house. I have been sleeping downstairs on the couch partly because my bed is shaking so much upstairs it wakes me up and partly because it is warmer downstairs with the propane fireplace roaring, I spent yesterday hermiting. Just reread old mystery novels, made Ed's fish stew and avoided people. Today I am more sociable.


weather report

Sorry. You can pretty much expect lots of weather news for the next four days, so if you are not interested, give me a pass. I can't help myself. I like extreme weather—whether torrential rain and thunderstorms in Missouri, nor'easters and high surf and hurricanes in Block Island or snowstorms in New York. I like fair weather, too, but like good news it doesn't make for drama. The seagulls knew something was up last night. They went crazy.


it's always naptime

The clock stopped—battery, but why replace before winter?—so now it's always quarter of naptime. Which is just as well, because a major blow is expected by the end of the week. Some folks, like my high school friend Jamie (and apparently all other prospective diners), were wise enough to clear out. Me? Oh no! I need to suffer some before my departure.


the scandalous sofa

Flip kicks back on the Sofa of Shame. Photo by Pam
 Alas, the beautiful sofa was springing leaks. I had patched it, investigated the cost of recovering it (basically much more than a new sofa) and mourned it. My sister, Erin, was at the house, and I asked her and her husband, Flip, to move it out onto the verge of the road. I often put things out there, and pretty much everything gets taken. If not, I take it to the dump.
   Erin got great amusement from watching tired cyclists take a rest and wedding guests take selfies on it. But no one took the sofa. "Flip is leaving the island and won't be back for three days," Erin told me. "What should we do about the sofa?" "Oh, just leave it there. If no one takes it you can take it to the dump when he gets back." So she did. And when Flip got back they took it to the dump.
   The Block Island Times made the sofa infamous. Wet, so it cost more to throw away than dry. For the record, the scandalous piece of furniture  was taken to the dump before this article was published. Also, I'd like to point out that it wasn't dumped "on the side of the road." Had they scooched it back into the briars and poison ivy, it would have been on my property.
   Ironically, now that I'm back on island, I see clusters of "free" items alongside the road everywhere. Corn Neck just happens to be a main road. My bad. Have I reformed? No!
I don't recognize that other piece of furniture.


my style

My style is not high style. Y'all know that. However, I attempted to put it into words for the latest and third issue of "Ideas of Order," a perfect bound and highly produced magazine put out as a kind of look book for California Closets, a company that does high-end home storage. You can see the whole Style issue here. I'm, like, on the last page. Only fitting.


foxy lady

Hannah was all over the place this week, from Block Island to the set of WPRI's "Executive Suite" program. Listen in at 13:13 for her segment. Or you can listen via podcast here. Or watch on TV this weekend. It seems like only a couple weeks ago, she was in Memphis collecting kudos from FedEx. Well, it was only a couple weeks ago, and here's what she had to say. Adulting bigtime.
Oh, and here she is with Bryan Adams. Not in the summer of 69.