the way home

Taking off from Dallas yesterday.
"Welcome home," said the customs dude in Dallas. I had just been saying to someone on the shuttle bus in San Miguel that it was a pity you never heard that any more.  And then I flew off to New York in the sunset. I had left it in the dawn. And by the time we buzzed Manhattan, it was night.
As is evident from past pix, I always sit on the right, over the wing. That is because I am obsessed with taking pictures out the window of the plane; I am on the right because it means I can hear if someone speaks to me; and I am over the wing because I am always in steerage. I have had to make the wing a part of the frame.
Coming in for a landing over the Empire State Building at home.


la mama

Always hard to say goodbye. Especially to someone over 90. But that is what I must do in the morning. It will only get harder in the coming years.


motorcycle mama

The new motorcycle

I don't know how many of you remember Rosio's old moto (below). She got a new one last year (above), but as you can see she still is going with the color-coordinated parking thing. The new one is a real motorcycle as opposed to a scooter, and she catches some flak from the macho types in San Miguel de Allende. She says many men holler "stupida!" at her as she rides along. Not to mention the one trucker who simply rear ended her at a stop—and then kept going. But she loves the new Honda, and says she likes the commotion she causes. "I am macha!"

The old moto


view from here

The steeple of the Paroguia in the Jardin is upper left.

 From the "it could be worse" department. My suntan salon is visible beyond the red chair, on the roof, the door to my room, with its skylight to the waning gibbous moon, is framed in lilac (or, as I prefer to think of it, jacaranda). I spend mornings with my mother,  midday on the roof surrounded by literal lavender, hollering down to her through the cupelo. Then comida, prepared by Rosio. While Mom takes her siesta I have  a little walk, returning before she wakes up for supper, TV and bed.


ok i'm here!

And the poinsettias are still in bloom! And the sun is hot and yellow.


love you, mean it

Twenty some ears ago today, I wrote this op ed piece for the Times about a Valentine's eve murder. The city was different then—scarier. I just saw Keri the other day, my friend who found the dying man.  I would tell the story differently now. But here it is.

 The white breast of snow was splotched with blood, and my daughter had to step around iced red pools on the concrete as she walked, alone, to the school bus.
   The evening before, Keri arrived, breathless, at the door of our New York City apartment. On the street outside she had seen a man who had just been attacked. Police were taking descriptions of a white male in a black baseball cap who had run away. The man who had been hurt lay there in a pool of blood. "I should have comforted him," Keri said. "The police were so cold. I should have knelt in the snow and just patted him or something."
   My daughter ran over to the window and looked down to the street she walked every day. The blue lights circled, the ambulances waited. "He's gone," she heard someone say. She turned to me. "I think he's dead," she said. "This is my street. I thought it was safe here."
   "Nowhere is really safe," I said.
    This was a year ago, when Hannah was 12, the year she was beginning to realize that her parents were not all powerful, that we could not protect her from all harm. From stories about people with grave illnesses in the copies of the Reader's Digest she brought home from school she was learning that not all stories end happily, that people die no matter how much they are loved, indeed, sometimes because of how much they are loved.
   She did not remember the incident when she woke up the next morning, nor did I, or perhaps I would not have let her walk by that place alone. Her fears were all for the Valentine's Day dance that evening. "You don't have to go," I said. "You are only twelve." Her fears were about sex, not death; both are part of growing up.
   But I would have spared her the blood.
   The man had lived in our building; I had stood on the elevator with him many times. On Valentine's Day his door five floors below ours was sealed with white police tape. He lay in a white hospital bed in a coma, dying.
   Later that day my daughter called me from school. She had decided, after all, to attend the dance. Perhaps her "boyfriend" had come through with an invitation for the first dance, or perhaps her girlfriends, whom I could hear in the background, had talked her into it.
   "Did you see the blood on the snow?" I asked.
   "It was horrible," she said. "I almost threw up. The elevator man told me the man was dead. I called Dad to tell him I was going to the dance after all, but Dad wasn't home."
   "Do you know where he was?" I asked. "He was here, at the office, delivering a valentine to me."
   "Oooh," she said. "What was it?"
   "Candies. In a heart-shaped box. Red velvet."
   "Hey, everybody." I could hear her tell her school friends. "My dad went to the office to give my mom a valentine. Isn't that cool?"
   Hearts. Blood. Love. Death. Splotches on a snowbank.
   It was dark by the time she walked home again, after the dance, her father by her side. Too dark to see the salt soaking up the red to a fainter pink. A sketch of a man's face was taped to the door outside the elevator. The suspect glared menacingly under the words "Wanted for Murder."
   A year has passed. My daughter is 13, and tall. She takes two city buses to get to school. The last snowfall is melting and gray. There hasn't been much snow in New York this year, not like last year or when I was young. The murderer hasn't been caught, despite the fact that a detective from the 20th Precinct papered the area with posters asking for information.
   Neighbors speculated that the killing was a hit -- it had been too efficient, and the victim hadn't been robbed. It made all of us feel safer, to think that it was a personal matter, that the murderer wasn't lurking on the street. But I still don't like to think of the white male, 19-24 years, 5 feet 10 inches, 175 pounds, riding the bus with my daughter.
   She remembers the murder when she walks down the street alone at night. But these days she is thinking more about love than death, though sex and drugs are on the short list as well. There was a seventh grade dance last night, "the Decade Dance," and her only concern was whether her make-up really looked like it was from the 60's. "My friends say I look too 90's," she said. In the year 2000, she will graduate from high school.
   Childhood ends. No place is really safe. But we gird up and go out. We dance and dare to hope for days at a stretch that we, at least, are protected from terrible messages in the cold white snow.

blast from the past

Betsy and I met by the staircase, but recognized one another anyway.

 Celia, a mutual childhood friend 
Conflating fifty years and two lives into an hour or two is quite a triumph. Betsy (above) and I had last seen one another at Briarcliff High. And even then, she was in a lower grade than me and friends with my friends' younger siblings. Then came Facebook, and unexpected contact through mutual childhood friends like Celia (left).  Betsy and I both live on the Upper White Side of Manhattan, are both writers, both 66. And there's a lot of damn water under the bridge. We waded into it. She told me that she was into a high school do-over—she had not been connecting with people in the same way then. Probably too self conscious, like most of us when we were very young. We looked around Fairway's cafe and everyone there was of a certain age. But we didn't see one another as geezers. Forever young.


claudia's snow city

Douglas took a picture of Claudia's today. Is that a sink box on the porch???

Lot of frozen water came out of the sky in New York, too. I just got hit in th head by some on the way back from the dentist. Hope the runways are clear by Tuesday.
So speaking of Johnny, his elder son (my nephew) William was working with entrepreneurs who have made a business out of getting Kickstarter goods to market faster than their originators. William is doing their websites. Not sure how I feel about this, but it definitely proves that having an idea is only half the battle.
Also, Johnny is interested in renting out the Adirondack-style camp he just bought in the woods near the beaches of Rhode Island. Check it out here.
Hannah's friend Rachel Hulin has been getting some good notices about her first novel, Hey Harry, Hey Matilda. Here is one from the Daily News.
And Hannah herself got a nice writeup here. Her Calm-a-Mama brand of herbal tinctures for sleep, teething, focus, calm etc. is doing quite well. She has the New England region of Whole Foods stocked, and is doing well on Amazon. She is looking for outlets in other regions and in small organic/baby/health food stores. If you are interested in repping, let me know.

Johnny and crew got the walls up just in time for the storm.


war stories

Explication from Alaa after the film.
Alaa Hassan had a screening of the documentary film he helped produce, The War Show. It has shown at the Venice film festival, Cannes, Toronto and played to a full house at the IFC Center in the Village. Here is a review from Variety.
    It is such a powerful and personal story of passion and daring and death that much of the time the audience sat in stunned silence. It takes place in Syria between the years of 2011 and 2015, as the Arab spring disintegrated into rebellion, repression and civil war. It was shot by a young woman, a radio deejay, who found that the camera was a powerful motivator for people who wanted to get their stories out. It begins as almost a home movie of her artist friends, creating and playing music and talking and becoming radicalized. They could have been my college pals in the '60s. As the government cracks down on their protests, they are  imprisoned, tortured and killed. The film increasingly covers a battlefield of snipers and ordinance and bombed out cities. And it all devolved so quickly, from chants and signs and peaceful protest to unthinkable violence.
  It gives one to think. Big league.


the vision

The Nightmare

The Vision
A person I know has many cats. Large cats. Fat cats. Pampered cats that eat A Lot of Food. Stocking and organizing and retrieving supplies without destroying the surroundings had become A Nightmare.
 Ding! The vision. A trip to Lowe's and a purchase of Rev-A-Shelf! Installs easily in 20 minutes!
"But it was never easy for me," moaned the DIYer. Some eight hours and two sliced fingers later—triumph!

The Dream Come True


now we are six

Camilla likes lists and calendars and post-its. Wonder where she got this streak of practicality from. In New York this weekend, she and her brother explored Barnes and Noble, Zabar's, the playground and the Dinosaur Museum of Natural History. Camilla was able to check the museum and library off her to-do list, with the Central Park zoo and wild bird rescue awaiting a warmer day. But sometimes one needs to escape practicality, and for that you need a bit of magic. Just don't stay away too long.


buzzing through

After successfully installing her show at a college in New Jersey, Jessica Rath buzzed by for a visit. "A Better Nectar" is an installation including sculpture, "flat art," specially composed music and interactive sound (based on nearby NOAA weather forecasts)—all coordinated to give the visitor an experience of how bees and flowers interact to their mutual benefit. Yes, it's rather cerebral, as well as sensual. Jess is the daughter of my artist friends Ann and Bill Dugan, sometime neighbors in Thomasville, Mo. I meet up with her every five or ten years. I think it went, NY, LA, Mo, Mo and now NY again. I'm always fascinated by what she's thinking about and what kind of art she's making. I am now pulling for her to write. Which she has been doing.

That's the town square of West Plains, Mo., behind us. 


more outdated technologies

The Shop of Outdated Technologies. For instance, I took my last passport photos with my phone and printed them out on my printer.  Or maybe the question is, what does this store still have on offer that anyone wants to buy? #DVD #video #magazines #passportphotos #peepshow #memorycard
Do you even know what these things are?