Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sidewalk Concert

Leo: sings "Harmony" at full volume in ascending tones
Friend: "I don't think you know what 'harmony' means."
Me, grabs air mic and announces: "Ladies, today Leo B will be playing the role of Annoying Little Brother and perform the amazing feat of singing solo harmony! #posterity The Humor Code

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Notes on a Book Club Evening

From Rebecca Solnit's 2015 essay, "80 Books No Woman Should Read,"

"There are good and great books on the Esquire list, though even Moby-Dick, which I love, reminds me that a book without women is often said to be about humanity, but a book with women in the foreground is a woman's book. And that list would have you learn about women from James M. Cain and Philip Roth, who just aren't the experts you should go to, not when the great oeuvres of Doris Lessing and Louise Erdrich and Elena Ferrante exist."

which gave me the courage, together with my own reading of Erdrich in 2006, to suggest "The Master Butcher's Singing Club," by Louise Erdrich for our founding meeting.

It's an imperfect or inconsistent novel, which makes it easy to dismiss in frustration and also easy to forgive and enter into its magical moments--Eva's kitchen, in flight with Franz and Eva, beneath the earth with Marcus, standing on a street selling all your sausages with Fidelis. All of the characters revolve around Delphine. She is a fine woman from whom to learn about women. She creates herself and her story, never compromising what she sees as truth and also bearing the knowledge that at the heart of every person lives a secret, either one they hold or one that is withheld from them.

This first of book club meetings I hosted and prepared a feast. In fine form, I did not inform the guests that dinner would be served. Having eaten with their families at home, or eaten on the fly commuting to my home, they persisted to dine, nevertheless. Duck fat spread on thick, white bread with salt and red onion, and sausages (nod to the butcher, Fidelis), and ratatouille and salad (nod to Eva's garden, where I want to live forever). Chocolates and red wine, nod to our own desires.



by Ada Limon

was how horses simply give birth to other
horses. Not a baby by any means, not
a creature of liminal spaces, but a four-legged
beast hellbent on walking, scrambling after
the mother. A horse gives way to another
horse and then suddenly there are two horses,
just like that. That’s  how I loved you. You,
off the long train from Red Bank carrying
a coffee as big as your arm, a bag with two
computers swinging in it unwieldily at your
side. I remember we broke into laughter
when we saw each other. What was between
us wasn’t a fragile thing to be coddled, cooed
over. It came out fully formed, ready to run.



by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
                     It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Sunday, November 04, 2018


when instead of asking, "Is that a man or woman," I said, you should have asked, "What pronouns do they prefer?" And he said, "Why are you making this difficult?" (Why are you disrupting my funny anecdote?) Snap. I felt firm in my role as a feminist killjoy thanks to @SaraNAhmed 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Monday, October 08, 2018

Just Ajar

The Bench

by Peter Schmitt

It's all like a bad riddle, our widow friend
said at the time.  If a tree falls in the woods
and kills your husband, what can you build from it?
That she was speaking quite literally
we did not know until the day months later
the bench arrived, filling that foyer space
in the house the neighbors pitched in to finish.
She'd done it, she said, for the sake of the boys,
and was never more sure of her purpose
than when they were off, playing in the woods
their father loved, somewhere out of earshot
and she would be struggling in with groceries.
For her, it was mostly a place to rest
such a weight, where other arms might have reached
to lift what they could.  Or like the time we knocked
at her door, and finding it just ajar,
cautiously entered the sunstruck hallway,
and saw her sitting there staring into space,
before she heard our steps and caught herself,
turning smiling toward us, a book left
lying open on the bench beside her.
column 707


From the Manifesto of the Selfish

by Stephen Dunn

Because altruists are the least sexy
     people on earth, unable
to say "I want" without embarrassment,

we need to take from them everything
     they give,
then ask for more,

this is how to excite them, and because
     it's exciting
to see them the least bit excited

once again we'll be doing something
     for ourselves,
who have no problem taking pleasure

always desirous and so pleased to be
     pleased, we who above all
can be trusted to keep the balance.

Top Ten

turkish delight

wide-brimmed straw hats in summer

jasmine pearl tea


outdoor fruit and vegetable markets

tepertős pogácsa

freshly ground peanut butter

peanut butter on toast with tabasco and cucumber slices

baking bread

being in my body

whiskey, neat


Széchenyi Fürdő

my mother's dumplings

rocking chairs


giving books I love to people I think might love them too

The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter


grandma Kelley's rice casserole

Le Mans Hall


Spencer Tunick

wool socks, knee-high, with stripes in the winter


"In My Mind" by Amanda Palmer

bread and butter

cooking split-pea soup


church bells

Gellért Fürdő

African chicken and peanut soup from the New England Soup Factory

martini with blue cheese stuffed olives

1059 Riverside


Greek yogurt with honey, in Greece

listening to my kids giggle and play after the lights are out at bedtime


Book Club

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins



Indigo Girls



Warren Dunes State Park

french fries

Ted Kooser


the fact that baking bread is so simple

clean pressed sheets

One Billion Rising

walking by a lilac bush in bloom

holding hands




hard wood floors

handmade afghans


Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer, by Jean- Hippolyte Flandrin

marching bands

HONK! festival of activist street bands

my clever, funny friend

roasted chestnuts

Rachel flodnija

birdie sing in the tree, woo woo woo, wee wee wee, I love you and you love me

Henszlmann Imre utca, 5

cuckoo clocks

handwritten letters

potluck dinners

Kelet Kávézó

Pad Thai in Budapest

tabasco sauce


Amanda Palmer

marathons, watching them

hiking, with the right shoes

chocolate chip cookies, baking them



public schools



pie crust

yellow roses

Orange Theory Fitness

the truth

Thursday, October 04, 2018

My Apartment

This is Just to Say

by Erica-Lynn Gambino

(for William Carlos Williams)

I have just
asked you to
get out of my

even though
you never
I would

Forgive me
you were
me insane