man of my dreams!

 So worth it going on Tinder to find Thisguy!

And just so you know what we're dealing with here. .  . and this too!

 And also, this review of our world and Donna's book. 

Scary shit all around


caviar and the bomb

The man's in the kitchen again, though the woman was some of the time as well. I myself was in charge of opening the door to the deck. ( i.e. zip). The man is actually in the kitchen opening oysters, I think from Maine, which he grilled with garlic, butter and parmesan. We then had lump crab remoulade, made by Alison. But first of all we had buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and paddlefish caviar. Which led me to try to tell Ed's story about caviar. I couldn't remember it then, but I talked to him yesterday, and he told it to me again.
   He had been covering the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union for Time magazine, and was in Riga, Latvia, on board his plane home, when police came onto the plane and hustled him off. 
    They took him out on the tarmac, where his duffel bag sat all alone.
    Somewhat hampered by language issues, they gestured at his bag. "Bom," they said.
    "No bomb,"  Ed insisted. "Caviar!" 
    "No bomb!"
    Tentatively, they approached the bag. Ed motioned to them to open it. Fearfully, they opened the bag containing a metal cylinder and a tangle of wires. The wires were camera chargers and sat phone connections. The cylinder was a stack of 10 tins of Beluga caviar. 
     "Oh, Oh! No bom! Caviar!"
     Ed and his caviar were back on the plane, and within a couple days we were feasting on it at our favorite Irish bar, with our favorite waitress, Marianne, providing us with toast and chopped onion and egg. That's the part I remember.


survival road

So I got this awesome piece of art in the mail from Donna Ferrato. She and i came to Missouri together back in, I think, 2001, to do a story about my newspaper pal, lone voice in the Ozarks, Frank Martin, going up against white supremacists/militia/Christian patriots/the Klan etc.  It was published in George magazine, a publication that perished shortly after its founder, JFK Jr., did.

Since then, I bought an old gas station and settled into the Ozarks. I am still in touch with some of the white supremacist conspiracy theorists, though one was so maddened by the article that he refused to speak with me for years. We like each other, despite the fact that we utterly disagree about almost everything. Donna, a fighter and raging progressive, and I argue about whether it is even possible to have contact with people with such views. She says that I am weak, and I need to cut such people out of my life.

But I am a professional listener. If I cut people I disagree with out of my life, who would be left? I am trying to braid together all the strands of my life, from childhood in the Ozarks to journalism in New York City to family life in Block Island. All the places and people I have loved. And one of them is Donna, who, struggling to understand me for the past 20-odd years, as I have her, appears to have succeeded.





down by the river

This may be my favorite swimming hole anywhere ever. It is a section of the river where two springs join it, one coming from a cave that you can get into (not that I have). There is a giant rock that you can climb up and jump off of (not that I have—and every time a kid does it I start thinking about the nearest emergency room). Or you can blow up a tube and just float around, which is what Frank and I did until dark clouds loomed. As the first raindrops spattered, we packed up the tubes and the chairs and headed back up the road, takin' it easy. Frank wanted to take some of the foliage with him (above).



outwardly peaceful, but

At a distance, I couldn't tell if that was a horse or a mule. I think a horse, as the other two in the pasture certainly were. Sometimes I like to take the long road home from town. Over the meadows and through the woods and over the streams and past the pastures and up and down the hills. There's always something beautiful to see.
  And apparently we are doing a hella better than New York or Block Island, where they are roasting and sweating and seeing a bloody sun every dawn and dusk from the forest fire smoke.

Inwardly, here things are not as placid as they seem. 

   I have been increasingly suspicious of the couple living in the bnb across the street while they build their off-the-grid house.  The woman seemed friendly enough at first. She said it had always been her husband's dream to live off the grid. She said she had grown up in upstate NY and had an aunt in NYC named Claudia. Upon questioning, she said they had lived in Massachusetts and moved here from Rhode Island.
  Perhaps I asked too many questions or someone in town told her what I was (liberal, journalist, etc), or maybe her husband (?) shut her down, but she didn't want to talk to me any more. When I invited her over to see my place, she hurriedly said they had to meet someone. And then they went in their room and closed the blinds and shut the door. They spend a lot of time that way. When not carrying tools, presumably to their job site.
   I looked at the license plate, and the car is registered in Missouri. She looks to be in her 40s, and he in his 50s. I started to think they were running from something. Ex spouses, or children or the law. I mean, what could they be doing in there all this time? Witness Protection Program? Fucking? 
   Then today my real off-the-grid Hatfield neighbor told me that the guy went to church with his cousin. He said the guy has a lot of guns. He said that the church was comprised of gun nuts, men, with at least 30 carrying during services. I had already noticed that the man across the street went off by himself on Sundays and had theorized that he was going to church. But why without "Ruth"? Now I am doubting that her name is Ruth. Wasn't that the name of the Biblical model wife? Not a popular name these days. And my neighbor said that his granddaughter went to the church once and said the sermon was ok but that martial arts class was part of the service. She has not been back.
   The churchmembers believe that Covid-19 can be caught from those who have had the vaccine, that Bill Gates has implanted those people with magnetic chips and is tracing everybody. And now most of the people in the self-styled church have gotten Covid themselves, as have most people in the county jail and several people in Thomasville. Lord, lord, our population is only about 50! 
   Call me crazy?
   "That couple is running from something," I said to my neighbor. 
   "Probably if the police ran the tags we could find out," he said.
    But of course they have new tags, and we have no police.


sleeping policemen


The logging trucks roll by, piled with oak logs one to two feet in diameter—sometimes piled higher than my porch.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the pile that rolled off a truck last week being picked up with a front loader. Didn't think of it at the time. People in town have called the state police, but they never come down here. Bill thought he should paint a Keith Haring-like outline of a person on the road. I thought maybe of a dog. I have also considered a midnight installation of quikcrete sleeping policemen. I mean, the posted speed limit is 40 mph, and these trucks are going 80. Carly called the state rep, and I thought that was a good idea, so I wrote "my" state rep and senator. They don't need to know I vote in NYC.
"I live in Thomasville, and I am afraid. 
I live right on the road in town, and logging trucks roar past here at 80 mph. Last week, one lost a load of gigantic oak logs right across the street from me. Had they come off a bit closer, they would have taken out my house. 
  When a new bridge was built here some years ago, it was said that rumble strips would be on it to slow down traffic. That was not done. I propose that  rumble strips be placed at both sides of town, where 40 mph signs are posted. Over the years we have lost countless dogs. No children, fortunately, as yet—probably because we don't have that many children. We have no law here, no police. Rumble strips!"


another fine meal


I love a man who cooks. Well, I love anyone who cooks! But there is something special about a man. I guess that's sexist. Sigh. Trying to span the gender divide. But. 
   Anyway, it was an ironic, as well as iconic, meal, centered, as it was, around bluefish. You can't give bluefish away in Block Island. That's pretty much all anyone catches, and, as you may know, few fishermen eat their catch—it's about the chase. To make it even more peculiar, David ordered the fish from Citarella's, a store down the street from me in New York. It was overnighted to him in West Plains, Mo. And as he said, "I bet we're the only people eating bluefish in Thomasville." At a guess, we were also the only people who have even heard of bluefish. Around here it's catfish, bass and trout. The end. 
  We actually began with Pacific sanddab, a flounderlike fish, only better! Simply sauteed and served with Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes. Then came the bluefish, grilled and served over Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, with magic sauce and organic ambrosia beans from Mary's farm (too bad Frank wasn't here).  A gala time in T'ville.
PS David, sorry about the pic!



I am not showing you the scenic beauties of QuikLube or the toilet store or Walmart, but the way home is awesome. As is the produce store and the farm where I buy organic (with yard art!).


how is ed?

Everyone is asking me, "How is Ed?" The picture above, taken by Chien-Chi a month ago, is the last time I saw him. He had had his tumor removed but not yet begun treatment. 
   Next he had his head shaved so that he could wear a cap of electrodes which requires carrying around a battery pack. He  has to wear it basically all the time except when he takes a shower. His daughter took the first bald picture below.
   And then he began daily chemo, in pill form, and daily radiation, for which he has to Uber up the FDR drive from Brooklyn. Traffic can make it take a while, though the procedure itself only takes about a half hour. I am not going to send you the picture of that, for which he also has to wear a full-on face mask with an x marking the spot where the machine goes. 
   These procedures are meant to keep him alive longer. His doctors tell him things are looking good. Whatever that means.
   Ed himself is in good spirits. His vision is poor, which makes reading and writing hard and his spelling even worse than it was already. But he can still tell a story and crack a joke. Still my Ed.



 Went floating today. What a beautiful river. Had to be rescued by a fisherman when I got snagged on a log, but made it through the rapids without going backwards as I usually do.
   A contrast from yesterday's gourmet lunch with David. Fantastic shrimp and grits, and awesome oysters from Cape Cod.  Yes, we're in the heart of the heart of the country, but David has his ways.

A triumph! And thanks to Bill and Carla for the float!


catching up

The past weeks have seen a series of entertainments. Bill and Carla have been in town for a flash, back to Arizona next week. Love having friends within walking distance! If I could only convince more of you to summer here. . .

But entertainments at the Goose are nothing to what is going on next door to Bill and Carla. Bill sold a guy a piece of land, and  he has built a palace on the riverbank. The first thing he built was his outdoor kitchen and bar (below). Then he started in on the deck on the river (which Bill and Carla and Denise and Martin and I were able to enjoy after dude knocked off for the day) and a tower on piers. The neighbor throws big crawdad boil parties and cooks lunch for his construction crew there. Carly has been invited, but so far I have not. We'll see!


belated fourth


Classic Americana in T'ville. Meanwhile in Block Island, my family was representing for Queer Block Island on a July Fourth float. Speaking of which, do you think the cowboys below are non-binary?