Friday, December 31, 2010
the marriage and my wonderful friends. But losing Michael and
worrying about Mistress Jane's breast cancer make me feel heavy
and grey. Really, the highlight was probably the World Series win
and that's more than I could say if I lived in Philadelphia.
Tonight is our traditional standing rib roast with garlic mashed
potatoes. Bette Midler is on HBO. One of her preview lines:
"thirty years ago my audience was on drugs, now you're all
on prescription medications." Funny stuff, which we need.
Already 10 years ago was the Millennium. Peter Jennings in
his tuxedo. I still miss him. Time for a nap. 2011 will be better,
or not. Thanks for reading...
Thursday, December 30, 2010
The 10 Best Books of 2010
By Jonathan Franzen.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.
The author of “The Corrections” is back, not quite a decade later, with an even richer and deeper work — a vividly realized narrative set during the Bush years, when the creedal legacy of “personal liberties” assumed new and sometimes ominous proportions. Franzen captures this through the tribulations of a Midwestern family, the Berglunds, whose successes, failures and appetite for self-invention reflect the larger story of millennial America.
THE NEW YORKER STORIES
By Ann Beattie.
As these 48 stories published in The New Yorker from 1974 through 2006 demonstrate, Beattie, even as she chronicled and satirized her post-1960s generation, also became its defining voice. She punctures her characters’ pretensions and jadedness with an economy and effortless dialogue that writers have been trying to emulate for three decades, though few, if any, have matched her seamless combination of biting wit and mordant humor, precise irony and consummate cool.
By Emma Donoghue.
Little, Brown & Company, $24.99.
Donoghue has created one of the pure triumphs of recent fiction: an ebullient child narrator, held captive with his mother in an 11-by-11-foot room, through whom we encounter the blurry, often complicated space between closeness and autonomy. In a narrative at once delicate and vigorous — rich in psychological, sociological and political meaning — Donoghue reveals how joy and terror often dwell side by side.
By William Trevor.
Gathering work from Trevor’s previous four collections, this volume shows why his deceptively spare fiction has haunted and moved readers for generations. Set mainly in Ireland and England, Trevor’s tales are eloquent even in their silences, documenting the way the present is consumed by the past, the way ancient patterns shape the future. Neither modernist nor antique, his stories are timeless.
A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD
By Jennifer Egan.
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95.
Time is the “goon squad” in this virtuosic rock ’n’ roll novel about a cynical record producer and the people who intersect his world. Ranging across some 40 years and inhabiting 13 different characters, each with his own story and perspective, Egan makes these disparate parts cohere into an artful whole, irradiated by a Proustian feel for loss, regret and the ravages of love.
APOLLO’S ANGELS: A History of Ballet
By Jennifer Homans.
Random House, $35.
Here is the only truly definitive history of classical ballet. Spanning more than four centuries, from the French Renaissance to American and Soviet stages during the cold war, Homans shows how the art has been central to the social and cultural identity of nations. She meticulously reconstructs entire eras, describing the evolution of ballet technique while coaxing long-lost dances back to life. And she raises a crucial question: In the 21st century, can ballet survive?
CLEOPATRA: A Life
By Stacy Schiff.
Little, Brown & Company, $29.99.
With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A Biography of Cancer
By Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Mukherjee’s magisterial “biography” of the most dreaded of modern afflictions. He excavates the deep history of the “war” on cancer, weaving haunting tales of his own clinical experience with sharp sketches of the sometimes heroic, sometimes misguided scientists who have preceded him in the fight.
FINISHING THE HAT: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
By Stephen Sondheim.
Alfred A. Knopf, $39.95.
The theater’s pre-eminent living songwriter offers a master class in how to write a musical, covering some of the greatest shows, from “West Side Story” to “Sweeney Todd.” Sondheim’s analysis of his and others’ lyrics is insightful and candid, and his anecdotes are telling and often very funny.
THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson.
Random House, $30.
Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
boy star on 3rd Rock From the Sun. However this movie is
not one that either of us liked very much. Uncertainty is
actually two stories ~ a couple toss a coin and we see how
their 4th of July turns out. Heads is a gangster thriller chase,
Tails is a day with her family. Both are avoidable.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Ginger's toasty fireplace, then lunch in downtown Pleasanton (every
restaurant is always busy there, and pretty damn good, too) and
then our walk around the nabes with constant chatter and evaluation
of the yard decor. Being nice (rare) we decided that these colorful
works of art probably look a lot better at night with excessive
lights under the cover of darkness. Other than our critiquing, we
discussed everything and everyone and had a grand old time.
I came home to Husbando who announced that we had been
invited to The Great Plotniks for dinner. Hoooooray, I love those
surprises. More wonderful friends and food (crab!) and so nice
to be with their children and extra special grand dot, Isabella.
Yes, they all knew it was our wedding anniversary, so we
had a very special celebration around their big, friendly table.
These are the kinds of days that I'd like to put inside a snow
globe (with non-harsh weather) to carry with me during
difficult times. Put it on my work desk, take it to hospitals
and memorial services, bring it out when insomnia batters
me around. A gentle light too, for dark times. (Maybe this
blog will be almost as effective ~ already I'm able to read
about the happy 2005 xmas walk with Michael without tears.)
Monday, December 27, 2010
sidewalk and we are ready to add ours to the mix. I'm glad the
economy is recovering, but this is such a materialistic time of
year and even though we've cut waaaaaaaay back, we still
end up spending a bit foolishly. If I weren't an agnostic, I'd
be even more cash-register resentful, I'm sure.
Today, after the tree dismantling, I'm going to take BART out
for a Girl Walk, coffee, food, laughter, tears and conversation
with my dear friend Ginger. I need this.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I could see it again immediately I would have, and I'm not one
to read books twice or see a movie more than once. The King's
Speech is simply fabulous and I was lost in England before
World War Two. Laughter and tears, BYOKleenex®.
Then we drove slowly to the East Bay. The rain was not too
bad and folks were actually driving with some sanity. We
had a fine dinner with John and Kathy and our new grand
dog Daisy who is in training, but a sweetheart. An
exceedingly nice day, just the way we like it. Oh, the
food was delicious too. And yes, I work today and we
will be B-U-S-Y.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
your gift to me. Whenever I think maybe it should die a
natural death, I receive a comment that encourages me to
keep up the daily words.
Now. 44 Inch Chest. We watched this last night after our
delicious roasted crab dinner. Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson
and a few other unusual British gangsters gather together
to help their friend Colin recover from his heartbreak after
his wife leaves him for another man. Very funny stuff. We
encourage you to use the subtitles as this is a little hard
to understand without them. Damn English.
9am this morning ~ The King's Speech. Have a wonderful
day with family and friends!
Friday, December 24, 2010
new friend, Pam, who took such wonderful care of Michael for
those intense six months while he was in and out of Cottage
Hospital in Santa Barbara. They have been devoted friends
since high school and when I start to grieve, I remember that
Pam's pain is so much deeper than mine, and covers so many
more years and memories. Our Christmas tree is complete
now, I think it was just waiting for this final, special touch.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
that I can sample books. I've mentioned this before, but
perhaps you weren't paying attention. Currently I'm reading
a REAL book entitled The Spare Room by Helen Garner
and I'm sampling Fannie Flagg's new novel I Still Dream
About You, as well as this Solar by Ian McEwan on my LK.
I have never forgotten Ian's incredible Saturday, have you?
There's a good chance that instead of purchasing Pedro and
pissing off Husbando, I'll click on the Amazon "Buy Now"
button for both of these sample novels. So easy.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Blogmaid and I meet every holiday season, or at least we try to.
Yesterday the girls were a bit shy with each other, but they warmed
up at the end. We 3 wise women had some nice and fun conversation
and then went to Macy's where I fell in love with a kitty named
Pedro. That window is deadly, stay away unless your wallet and
home need a new challenge. Blogmaid, did you get a photo of
Pedro? I didn't dare. A really fine downtown day, thanks to all.
Monday, December 20, 2010
was most welcome after a busy yesterday at the deYoung.
Patricia Clarkson (Juliette) meets Alexander Siddig (Tareq)
who shows her around the city while she awaits the arrival
of her husband. Cairo Time is a quiet movie with a lot of
depth as these two try to deal with their unexpected mutual
attraction. And Cairo itself? Busy, beautiful, intriguing.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
He's a little boy already. I love/love/love this photo because
not only is he such a doll, he is with two of my favorite people
from my Borders days: Jay on the left and Corry (aka Corriander)
on the right. Too wonderful.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
This could be a historical day, one that has been long-delayed. Today
(maybe) the Senate will repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for
men and women in the armed services. What has taken so long?
We do everything so slowly here. It seems like it took forever to
integrate the military back in the 50's (I think). And then to allow
women to serve alongside men was not an easy task. There are
always the right wing, conservative white men with their old
fashioned arguments that don't hold water, beer, wine or tea.
Is this retroactive? What happens to all of those who have been
fired and can't collect benefits nor use the wonderful V.A. Medical
Centers? I need to check this out when I read the chronny this
morning. Not that their coverage is so terrific, maybe I'll go online.
In any event, I feel positive about today's vote. We left wingers
get impatient with Obama, but things are slowly getting done.
Friday, December 17, 2010
marriage has to be easier for lesbians because they don't have
to contend with the Mars Venus business. Wrong, according to
this excellent movie. Long term relationships are simply not
easy ~ rewarding, yes, but so many land mines along the way.
We both loved the very natural feel to this film, especially
the at-home scenes with Annette Bening and Juliette Moore.
Mark Ruffalo is the sperm donor father and he is such an
interesting character that I'm sure he was based on some
person known only to the writer. The kids are not just all
right, they are fabulous too. Rent it!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
so I thought I would share it with you faithful readers.)
THE TRUTH IS...
• open to argument
• based on fact
• a joke
• media driven
• corporate b.s.
• a lie
Monday, December 13, 2010
you might enjoy. Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was born in
Poland and came to America in 1940, becoming the leading
anti-Nazi artist here. The above piece is from his illustrations
for The Canterbury Tales ~ he worked in miniature like
the monastic scribes of the Middle Ages. Interesting and
colorful, I was impressed.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I'm five days earlier than usual and I deserve a huge pat on the
back for buying, hauling and decorating this while Husbando
went to yoga and ran assorted holiday errands yesterday.
Today's Round Robin prompt is: Lime Green and Charcoal Grey.
I'd better get out my color wheel and start typing.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Twelve of us gathered last night for our annual Tiapos writing
party and we had such a wonderful time. So much humor
and so much talent. The topic was sort of Thanksgiving and
Christmas, but none of us obey rules too well, so the fact that
Susie Parker brought photos of her parents and I wrote about
the Giants didn't bother anyone at all. Thanks to the Great
Plotniks for hosting us again, we can me a bit messy. We
didn't really need five (5 !) pizza pies, but they were delicious.
As you all know, the gift of laughter seems so much sweeter
after tragedy. It's all part of this crazy, colorful quilt of life.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Photo #14 (golden glow kind of photo in, I presume, Jane's kitchen.
Simple beauty ~ the best kind). Photo by Jane Underwood.
There is a book here that I've had for years, it's out of print now.
"Plain and Simple Journal" by Sue Bender contains small and
thoughtful quotes, centered around the Amish life. The
illustrations are also simple: a pitch fork, a bird, a bright quilt,
a broom, etc. Mostly black and white sketches, except for
the delightful quilts. These quilts represent the author's search
to find a pattern in her life that had become too busy. Here is
a sample of one small thought on one white page:
Lists engulf us -
illusion that our
lives are full.
I pick up this book when I need to slow down and rest my mind. When
I'm worried about work, money, writing, not writing, friends, holidays,
family, busy and busier.
Order calms. That is one whole page. It makes such perfect sense. I'm
calmer writing up in our peaceful living room than I am down here in
this messy office. I'm thinking of re-doing my office in January.
Making it more of a retreat than a drop-it-off-and-sort-it-out-later
kind of space.
I will end with this, with thanks to Ms. Bender:
There is an old
me, a new me, an
imperfect me, and
the beginning of
a new acceptance
of all the me's.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
with us. For the inspiration, humor, intelligence and just plain
old fashioned class. Your death yesterday leaves all of your
admirers feeling very, very sad. We so appreciate your courage.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
the ransom. The Disappearance of Alice Creed is British, so
right there we know it's better than your standard fare American
kidnapping movie. There are lots of twists and turns here, but
Alice (Gemma Arterton) is smart and strong and just the
kind of young woman we can all admire. We both enjoyed
this on the edges of our chair and sofa...
Monday, December 06, 2010
I lived beside the lovers on that linden-shaded industrial block
between Linwood and Crescent. How they argued! Once
he pounded his head against the lintel in a rain of plaster.
Once I watched her walk into the rain carrying her Lhasa Apso,
step into a cab, and give the finger to their lit window.
They fought with themselves when the other was gone,
struggling so hard with each word: I, you, tomorrow.
Since they loved each other forever, seconds were lethal,
split-seconds tormented them like the strange bluebottle flies
that zoomed from buried drums under Ebbets Field.
How they reconciled, bearing each other elaborate gifts:
silk orchid, glass horse, a necklace that flickered like flame.
They paced on the landing, practicing complex apologies
that turned seamlessly to justifications—how helpless
they were against being right! When they saw me
in the stairwell, they were relieved:
someone sane, a human, someone who will die.
And they explained: Sorry about yesterday, sorry
about tomorrow ... They had a ferocious need for me
to remember them since they were going
alone into time itself. I wanted to ask them,
Do you think we can create a void in a supercollider
and destroy not just the world but the night sky?
But I had no inkling what the self is,
or loneliness, or marriage, or the universe
sealed in zeroes like honey in a comb.
So instead we talked about the Mets, Gooden's arm
going stale, Strawberry losing that amazing insight
that can pick up the seams on a rotating curveball.
And they turned the key in their lock: male, female,
it made no difference, they were the same person,
and entered their tiny room, and I entered sleep.
D. Nurkse (a man!)
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Meet Daisy, the happy puppy over in Kensington. Middle son John
(aka John the Good) and his wife Kathy lost their beloved Nigel a
few months back and after grieving and talking, they found this
lovely Miss Daisy. They report that they had both forgotten how
much different a young, rambunctious dog is compared to an
old, well-trained buddy, but of course they are all adapting just fine.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
is that I don't want to leave a mess when I die. He was too weak
and tired after the diagnosis and treatment to do a thing. Now his
friends have to sift through his stuff and it will take some strength
and time to clean it all out. I know he would hate that.
So today we started our project of clean it up and clean it out.
The fun part was sending the elegant fish platter and 9 plates to
daughter Nancy in Illinois. These belonged to Husbando's mother,
the esoteric Esther, aka Terri. Nancy loves to cook and entertain,
plus she has two daughters, so it's a good fit. We enjoyed them
for years, but this is a birthday present that needed to move on.
We took them to a UPS packaging store and you do not want
to know how much it cost to have them professionally
packed. Trust me here. Don't ask, unless by separate email.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
but the cast did a fabulous job, especially the little girl played
by Maya Donato. I don't think she missed a line and she is
only about 12 years old! It's a strange story (book by Neil
Gaiman) that is basically once again that scary transition
time from childhood to becoming an adult, how do I fit into
this world? Big questions like that. Fantasy and horror.
Many in the audience loved Coraline, it just wasn't our cup
of tea or cocoa.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
...on the elegant newspaper table "cloth". Before dinner Husbando
was checking crab and pasta recipes, worried about what we would
do with all the leftovers. We bought too much crab for six people,
but a miracle occurred ~ all gone! Every last piece. I prefer the crab
roasted with garlic, lemon and butter (don't ask how much) rather
than served cold, so Husbando cooked up a feast for 6 of us. The
Duck baked and brought a scrumptious sour cream/lemon pie,
which was perfect after our simple meal of salad, bread and crab.
Our old friend Bill Watkins was here from Las Vegas, visiting his
friend (and ours) Ginger. The Plotniks are always welcome at
our table and it was a great evening. Memorable, actually.
And how about this? The Plotniks took the newspaper and all
those shells home with them for their garbage pick-up, since
ours was Monday morning. Now, talk about friendship!
Monday, November 29, 2010
the Alioto-Lazio Fish Co. at 440 Jefferson Street in (of all places)
Fisherman's Wharf. We are having a little dinner party tonight
and we needed fresh crab, right out of the ocean. This is the
real deal and it's run by women, so you know it's excellent.
So nice to actually see and walk down around Fisherman's
Wharf. It's so touristy, but without the tourists this morning.
Beautiful sunny and clear weather. Free parking, too.
We are both looking forward to a v. nice evening with friends ~
bread, crab, garlic, lemon, too much butter and lots of laughter.
People help each other heal, but you already knew that...
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Jonathan Ames (of Bored to Death fame), we decided to watch
it last night. I can't really recommend The Extra Man, but
that's Katie Holmes over there on the left, FYI. Kevin teaches
his young roommate how to scam New York society by
being a charming, single and available escort.
In other news, the long time friends of our Seahorse are
working on a virtual memorial for him and I will contribute
a few paragraphs. Interesting, trying to condense down a
friendship and get the essence of what a special person has
meant to me.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I tried reading The Shadow of the Wind a couple of years ago
and just couldn't get into it. It's one of those books that all
sorts of people are always recommending, so I gave it another
try when we went up to Sea Ranch. As so often happens with
me and a certain book, this time it grabbed me and I'm lost
in a fantasy mystery world in Barcelona, with a side trip or
two to Paris. The main character is a bookseller ~ how could
I not have appreciated it before?
Friday, November 26, 2010
good to chop, clean and cook. It's always nice to be with friends
and this year we enjoyed Jennie, a new friend of mine from the
Legion of Honor. All the food was delicious and I was actually
able to laugh from time to time. Tonight is back to work at the
deYoung. I've been doing some Writing as Therapy instead of
holding it all in the way I have done in the past when Grief Girl
comes to slap me around.
My darling step daughter, Nancy, sent the floral centerpiece.
I have much to be grateful for, even this year.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
OR, a funny and articulate play about Charles II, Nell Gwynne and
Aphra Behn, the first professional woman playwright. It's written
by Liz Duffy Adams and has lots of wonderfully sharp feminist
points to tickle our funny bones. It's only here through Dec. 5,
so reserve now ~ online or (415) 441-8001. I mean it!
After the play there was a surprise marriage proposal from Maggie
Mason's love that brought tears to our eyes. Maggie is the ultra
talented woman with arms raised and her boyfriend was dressed
in an Olde English costume. He isn't an actor, so he kept saying
"Line!" and a friend of theirs in the 3rd row would help him out.
Great fun and exactly what we needed last night. (And yes,
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
remember the day you were born, dear RR, and you brought
much joy to so many people. Have a delightful birthday and
you will party all week long, that much I know.
Thanks for sharing your mama with me these past 3 days ~
she is a wonderful friend.
Monday, November 22, 2010
We spent a lot of time holding hands and talking quietly and I
was able to thank him in person for 13 years of friendship.
He slept a lot and his friends were there talking and reminiscing
and I could see him smile every once in awhile.
People were in and out of the room and he was never alone and
won't be. I don't think any of us can ask for more than that when
we are dying. That and a good strong Peet's latte, maybe.
The doctor was very frank about this probably being his last
week. It was interesting to listen to him sort of wait for the
patient to see if he should back off or be blunt. Michael opted
for one more quick chemo dose, but I don't think anyone is
expecting miracles at this point.
The Blogmaid and I returned to the Hyatt in Valencia last
night and I slept more and better than I have in a long time.
She is still snoozing as I type here in the Lobby and try
to process this whole Circle of Life business.
I couldn't have done this without the Blogmaid who will
read this soon before we pack up and drive North on The 5.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Valencia where they have some sort of mountain filled with
magic. We have a perfect little $119 room at the Hyatt and I
am down in the lobby drinking coffee and watching the
guests roll their luggage out. I spot a hangover or two, but
none on these two women road warriors. Our dinner was
at Johnny Rocket's and Ms. Blogmaid cut me off of coffee
because of sleep issues. Chocolate milk shakes help, always.
Michael is at the City of Hope and his friend Kris sent us
the usual SoCal instructions. "You are nearby, but take these
47 different freeways East, West, etc. OK." The Blogmaid
is sleeping and we will get going in about 2 hours. She
wants to stop by the home where I grew up and that will
be a diversion. Pasadena, I'm back ~ lock up your right
wingers because I'm not in the mood for politics.
We had some nice clear weather on the drive down and
it only rained on the icky Grapevine. Wouldn't you know?
It was special spending time together, very special.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Michael who is not doing too well. I thank her deeply and
graciously for her kindness and friendship.
I will report in from somewhere South of here tomorrow.
Thank you for your good and generous thoughts
Friday, November 19, 2010
architecture) and were on the road by 10am yesterday. A long,
windy road as you all know, through Bodega Bay, etc. Lots of
pull-off-here! because of the big men in their big pickup trucks
and SUVs. Pushing faster and faster...
Nick's Cove is owned by our own Mr. Kuleto and it is worth
the drive from SF. Fresh seafood and beautiful views of the
quiet bay. Friendly service too. Go!
Always nice to be hone, especially after such a lovely time.
Work tonight. Can I do it?