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They took a long walk on the beach this morning in cold winter mist. Good for dogs and humans.

Finally sorted

Got LJ onto my phone finally.

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First snow

The last week has been brutal here. So so cold. In the twenties, with a strong gusty wind. (That is below zero for you Celsius folks.) Not just hat and mittens, but face-mask cold. I never did wear the face-mask, but I regretted that. I have been wearing the hat and mittens that I made last year. I wish now that I had sewed the seams on the mittens more tightly.

But last night the cold broke. It warmed some, and the first snow came. I was up early this morning, and it was still falling. Snow here makes everything quiet and clean. It feels so strange. Far away I could hear a fog-horn, out where the big ships navigate the Verrazano narrows. Big big ships there, oil tankers, car containers. Someone out there was watching attentively, thinking about channels and rocks, about wind. Maybe they had a hot mug to warm their hands, as I did. I hope so.

We got very little snow, in the end. Just enough to cover the grass, and make everything soft and lumpy and alien. Mike took Sabir out very early. Sabir ran and barked, and chased snowballs. He may not remember the snow of last year, he was only a puppy then.

Mike and Alexander are on vacation for the next month. Zander comes home tonight. Buffalo already has snow in chest deep drifts. He says there are a lot of birds there, hawks, jays, and cardinals. They must find it hard to make a living.

This is the darkest time. There will be more snow and more cold, but after this week more light every day. We will began the climb toward spring. All of our holidays are about light. We remind ourselves, we remind each other.

Summer will come again we say; music in the street, kids in wet bathing suits, ice cream dripping. Summer here, has old men with Spanish music on a boom box, and they play dominoes on the sidewalk all day, and they are brown and wrinkly. They know the women who walk by, and the kids. They know everybody. Walking by the stores you get a blast of air conditioned coolness from every open door. Still everyone is sticky skin, crowded close. Everything smells more acute in summer, fruit, the salt of the beach, other people. Summer tells more stories, at least around here. Everything is more open, visible. All the relationships between people can be read on the faces and bodies right on the street.

In winter the smell sense is subtracted from us, almost gone, blunted by the cold. Wrapped in feathers we are isolated from each other, even as we take up more space. The stories are more subtle in winter, covered. Subtle, but still there...

Ramekins, book reviews, food vs sex...

Phrase of the day-- I said it a few minutes back. What does this say about my life? "You can never have too many ramekins." It is as true as any, and more harmless than some. (How about 'God never gives us more than we can manage?' That one has done a lot of harm.)

Groceries in today. This is the one day of the week that Mike and I intersect reliably in the daytime. I like the process of grocery shopping. I like lugging the food home, propelling it up all those stairs, putting it away. I like the feeling of full cupboards, and thinking about what I will make out of everything. It is a little shameful to think about food. Kind of the way we used to look at sex, I think. Yes one does it, but thinking about a lot is kind of unacceptable. Well. I think about things.

I have been reading a wonderful book! It is a biography of James Fitzjames. He was the second under Franklin on Erebus that last horrible time. After Franklin's death he was CO of Erebus, and Crozier's opposite number. (Francis Crozier retained command of the Terror, until they were forced to leave her.

Nobody is exactly sure when Fitzjames died, or what became of his remains. Some of the bones found scattered around may be his. I have not gotten as far as the Arctic with him yet. Nobody is quite sure who his mother was, or where his family came from. He never said. He did not know his mother. He may have been a bastard. (which expalins the 'Fitz' thing.) His father may have been James Gambier. Fitzjames spoke fluent Portuguese as a child. He seems to have been born in the Bahamas. The author, who was diligent in research, seems puzzled by this. Fitzjames entered the Navy in 1825, just at the intersection of sail and steam. Fitzjames was rated mid without the requisite time served. He was on a very early steam vessel that made a hapless expedition up the Basra river. He fought in the first opium war and broke his leg. He got shot in the back at some point and then got malaria while he recovered from that. And he captained a sailing ship which had a pet cheetah that used to climb the rigging! Cheetah eventually attacked him from the back as stood on the Q-deck. It has such a good grip on him that it had to be removed with a crowbar! We know all this because Fitzjames wrote wonderful funny letters-- lots of them. And he illustrated them with pen and ink, or even watercolors.

He thought he was going to have the command of Erebus. But at the very last minute John Franklin was given the top spot. This seems to have been a favor from the elderly Barrow. We all know what happened after that. So regrettable. I can feel confident now, that Fitzjames faced it bravely, and did his best for those serving under him. The book has given me a peek into his personality. He would have done his best.

The book is called: 'James Fitzjames, the mystery man of the Franklin Expedition.'

I know you all have reading lists to the sky. But this one is amazing.

Well. the sun is going down. I am off to think about filling those ramekins.

For some value of back

I feel sometimes like Lucy, who jumps out of the wardrobe shouting 'I'm back!' only to have everyone say 'Well you need to be gone longer than that before you shout.'

Anyway-- I am back. My old computer which had no case is gone. Apparently there is a reason for the case existing. A project computer is neat, and the internal visible is cool, but things fall in and dust comes, and cats. This shortens lifespan of cool caseless computer.

Now I have a new one with a pedestrian black metal box case. It is designated for writing and internet. It did not cost much. It is mine all mine! It does not have to do games or engineering homework.

I have been busy at work. The trouble with work is that they want you to show up and do it. I really don't mind it all that much. I can do phone sales, always could. And this is better than actual sales, it is charity fund raising. I have checked out the charities on my own and find them to be reputable. They are not like Susan Korman which takes all the money to have parties with.

And I do like calling people, even if I am asking them for money. It is like visiting their lives for a little moment. I can hear things in the background, dogs, kids, sinks running. Life sounds. People are nice, mostly. They are nice even when they won't give me money. Some, especially older men, are funny. The work is not difficult to learn. You just have to do it the same way, each time, precisely. And you have to make each person who answers feel important.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving. Son came down from Buffalo. Mike visited his mom briefly. I had beef instead of turkey, but cooked it too hard. It irritated my trigeminal neuralgia. This time the attack was not severe pain, but mostly swelling. The side of my face swelled up, and my eye got all black and closed up. I looked as if I had been punched in the face over and over. It has subsided now. I can still feel on my face where the nerve is not happy to be poked at. It takes at least a week to settle down afterward. These attacks only happen a few times a year. Not really worth doing anything much for them, like taking a pill every day. Doctor says my current treatment plan is ok. Current plan involves hot baths, frozen peas on face, whiskey, and complaining to anyone who will listen. If the trigeminal nerve acts up more frequently there are more drastic measures that can be taken. I looked the swelling up online. It is a thing that happens. It usually comes with less pain, which is a blessing.

It is ridiculously warm here. Rainy, drippy, sweatshirt weather. Feels like spring. I am sure the trees are confused. If it goes on much longer the daffodils will come. And when it is actually March we will be stuck without them! Today has brought a grey foggy rainy wind. Festive decorations outside stores are getting all soggy. We are to expect thunder.

In my defense

If you are wondering why we have a toolbox in the living room, I can only say New York is all about lack of storage. Our apartment has only two closets.

We installed shelves going up to the ceiling, but Mike does not want hammers, knives, poisons, saws, drill, on an overhead shelf. He is a funny guy that way. Must be all that time in Safety Dept.

As they get older

Yodel's hind legs are not as strong as they were in his youth. (Well, neither are mine...)

We have always fed cats on top of a big tool chest. It keeps them from menacing dogs and taking dog food. (Both Hazel and Sabir have had that problem.)

But lately Yodel has had trouble leaping to his food dish. So today we moved furniture some to give Yodel a nice padded arm chair.by the tool chest to accend by stages. He can use his claws to help if he needs to.

As best we know, Yodel is 13. Not far into old age, but definitely into needing extra help.


Poor Beast

Recently met a pitbull when I was walking alone. Many around here are intact males. This one was, and I could see the scars too, down over his face, and sides. If you don't have a dog with you they are usually sweet. This guy was wiggling with joy as I came down the sidewalk. He was being walked by a man. I asked dog's name and it was Beast.

No doubt they chose it to be frightening, but beast is just the old word for animal after all.

"Hello Beast," I said. And I scritched him and he wiggled and licked my hand.

"He is a very good boy," I said. If nobody is actually caught fighting him, I can do no more. Maybe he is a rescue from the ring anyway. Animal fighting is sadly prevalent around here. At least some of the dogs can have lives after.

Saw him again today while I was walking Sabir. Kept well away. Beast and Sabir would likely not mix well. Anyway Beast was getting yelled at. He was off leash, which is not a good idea on the crowded sidewalk and busy street. And he ran down the sidewalk and nipped through a fence to some grass.

He was with a woman. "Beast," she yelled, "Get back here so I can beat your ass. What are you doing, bad dog!" Beast could not really comply, he was locked into crouch, taking an enormous dump on the lawn. The best Beast could do was waddle forward with a look of sorrow and shame.

'Get back here so I can beat you' is an offer only taken when it is worse to stay away. I have heard it said to kids too, of course.

My mother always said that a dog will stay with you if he has more fun with you than away from you. (She said the same about men actually...) She also said that you never need to raise your voice to a dog. She said their hearing is excellent, and they already care what you are going to say.

The man really seemed to like Beast. He liked having him admired too. He was pleased that I could see that this was a good dog. I hope the woman is a transitory presence in their lives.

My Boys


It pleases me very much to think that Kyd may have written Arden of Faversham. It is a play that I love, it is so ridiculous and over the top, and somehow that feels very modern. It feels much more vivid and recent to me than Spanish Tragedy. Spanish Tragedy feels much more anchored in time somehow. Maybe because ST has dukes and princes, and AoF is regular people?

If Kyd wrote all or most of those he must have had much skill and range. And he obviously could do gore for laughs or for tears.

I am liking more and more the idea that these guys were riffing off each other-- daring each other to do better, to try new things. And this at a time when the wrong words could get you thoroughly dead. So brave. They were so brave.

Silly stuff

Silly animal photos.


In other news, had to run out, asked daughter to walk Sabir. Got text from her 'I did not have time to give him a long walk, but I did give him an old shoe full of peanut butter.' She says she thought he looked sad.

Someday future historians will wade though out texts, as we wade through letters now. We will flummox them...