Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The stockings were hung. The cookies and milk were laid out with a note of thanks. The reindeer food was spread across the lawn. Emma and her family were going back to Gramma's house after spending Christmas Eve with Aunt Jo, Uncle Jamie and Emma's two cousins, Conway and Grace. Santa wasn't coming to Gramma's this year. Emma had written him to say that everybody was going to congregate at Aunt Jo's on Christmas morning. As they were climbing into the car for the short drive back to Gramma's, Emma and her mom looked up at the sky to see the stars shining bright.

"Look!" said Emma. A red light was blinking overhead. "It's Rudolph!"

"Hurry, Mom!" she said. "We have to hurry back to Gramma's and call Aunt Jo!"

"You have to go to bed right away!" she told Aunt Jo. "I saw Rudolph! Almost at your house! Santa's coming! He's almost there!"

"Everybody go to sleep right away!" she commanded. "Or Santa might miss us!"

But Emma herself was too excited to sleep. She crept to her window to see what she could see. Only the white stars winked on and off in the night sky.

Next morning her mom found her wrapped in a blanket asleep by the window. "Good morning," she whispered. "Merry Christmas!"

"Did Santa come?" asked Emma.

"Let's go see," said her mom, so they gathered up Dudley and Emma's dad and Gramma and Grampa and they drove over to Aunt Jo's. And, guess what?

"Oh, Mom!" said Emma. "Santa did come!"

"Thanks to you," said her mom. "Isn't it lucky you saw Rudolph?"

"Just in time!" said Emma with a happy smile.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

P.S. Sinatra would have been 94 today. XM/Sirius radio is playing his music all day long. The Voice.

I spent a wonderful week in Oregon in October. After several days of hiding (I called it Mt. Hoodie), Mt. Hood came out of the clouds. We ate good food, enjoyed poetry together, saw lavender fields forever. By "we" I mean, variously: a first cousin and his wife, neither of whom I had never met; my high school classmate Francie; and my new friend Adrianne, who is the daughter of my mother's best friend from the time she was about nine through young matronhood. Adrianne found me through my website several years ago, after her mother had seen an article about me in our (mutual) high school newsletter. I knew nothing about her. There's a photo of her and Adrianne and my mother and my older brother when the babies were maybe 9 months old. I didn't know who the other woman was until Adrianne showed me a picture of her mother, whom I then recognized immediately.

When Adrianne and I got together after several years of correspondence, it was like bringing our mothers together again.

Then last night I had a dream about Mt. Hood. I dreamed I had climbed the mountain with a guided group of people. Next day we were offered another, overnight climb, but without a guide. I wanted to spend the night on the mountain, even if it was dangerous. I wanted to lead the group. So did others. It was never clear to me who was chosen. It was raining and cold. I wondered if I should wear my rubbers over my stockings and flats. The rubbers were packed in my suitcase, which was being carted to the van that was going with us. I had to jump out a low window (like Laura Riding) to retrieve the suitcase. When I did, I landed in a large puddle that turned out to be not just a puddle, but a mud hole, very deep and very muddy. Over my head. I got stuck in the mud. Nobody knew where I was. Nobody could see me deep inside the mud puddle, over my head. I tried to cry out. In my dream Louis woke me up and saved me. In fact, Louis heard me cry out in my sleep and woke me up and saved me.

The future is not clear. I'm trying to be patient until the mountain reveals itself again. I'm grateful for Louis every day. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Anne Cammon Fiero is the wonderful host of WKCR's "Arts and Answers" - 9:30PM, Tuesday and Thursday at 89.9FM in New York. We did an interview about Degrees of Latitude that was broadcast last Tuesday evening, August 18, 2009. She was great - very smart, sensitive, and informed. It was a great interview and I invite you to listen to it in her archives at:

I'm very proud of this interview. Give a listen, if you have a chance.

I'm a new fan of WKCR. If you're in the New York area, you can tune in on your radio. If not, you can stream their programs live at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I inherited a pretty gold bracelet watch from my grandmother. When I see it on my wrist, I remember how it looked on her wrist, how the flesh on her lower arm was loosening from the bone, and her sturdy hands were wrinkled and spotted, with broad, well-tended nails that had never known dish water or dirt.

Last year, after many years, it stopped. It would not wind. I took it to the jeweler, who could not get the needed part, and replaced the works with a battery-operated mechanism. He gave me the old parts in a little plastic bag, which I keep with the watch in a jewelry bag in my jewelry drawer. The watch is in there, ticking away, whether I wear it or not. It no longer needs winding. I miss that.

I like opening and closing the curtains every morning and evening, too, for instance.

Yesterday afternoon I took a nap. I hadn't slept well the night before. I'm not sleeping well these days at all. I dreamt about my grandmother's watch. I was putting it on when, without any warning, the back came off and all the workings, gears and filigree plates and springs, came tumbling out. I tried to gather them up in the right order, in the hope of putting them back, but they scattered across the floor, to my despair. One by one I carefully picked them up. They were beautiful, delicate, gold, some embossed with four-petaled flowers, some engraved with intricate designs. Art. I wondered at them. Then I woke up.

Did I think I was wasting time, napping? Does time spill out if you don't use it? Is every minute a work of art, inside where you don't even see it? Shall I take my grandmother's watch to another jeweler, to see if the old needed part can be found? Can't I rewind and rewind?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

You know what I miss? I miss glamour. Which includes, but is not limited to, the sense of being at the center of things.

When I was growing up in Cleveland, the least glamourous of cities, even in the 1950s when it was prosperous, even with its great cultural institutions, including the Art Museum and the Orchestra - when I was growing up there, I knew I would eventually want to get out. It was stodgy.

On my (first) honeymoon, at Caneel Bay, I was enthralled by the Rockefeller resort. This is the same Rockefeller family whose patriarch Cleveland turned down when he wanted to build Rockefeller Center on Lake Erie! There was a couple there, at Caneel Bay, also on their honeymoon, from Connecticut. She looked in my memory like Carolyn Bissett (probably misspelled) and I longed to be like her. I longed for the life I imagined she led. Next to her and her husband, I and mine looked frumpy and midwestern, dun and dull.

I got myself to New York by hook or by crook. It took me years to adjust, to feel that I belonged, but by the time I left five years ago, I had found my way, myself, and my work, and I had found the glamour I was looking for. Of course, New York is one of the most glamourous places on earth. It is the center of everything: Fashion, culture, even grit. I lived through the 1990s there, when New York was on top of the world. It was glorious.

Even September 11th added to New York's glory. Only the greatest city in the United States would invite such a spectacular attack. Only New Yorkers could take it. We were all proud of our city and ourselves. It brought us to our knees but it didn't stop us.

Rural South Carolina, where I live now, has many virtues and pleasures and advantages. Space. Pace. Grace. But it hasn't got glamour. Recently I read that rural people are the ones most satisfied with the places they live. Urban people want to be someplace else, either some other city that looks greener across the highway, or some rural place like this. We're restless, we urbanites. Maybe that's what's wrong. I'm never satisfied. That's the thing about glamour, it keeps changing. I miss it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

It's over now, but in the spring the pine trees give off a pollen that covers everything in layers of yellow haze. Recently I came across these passages (in the New York Review of Books, November 20, 2008) from Edmund Wilson's journals of 1942, at Gull Pond on Cape Cod, describing the same phenomenon:

"As one walked in the water one encountered pines putting out their soft straw-colored (?) bunches of cones and smelling with a special almost sweet-fern fragrance. The baby cones seemed almost embarrassingly soft, almost like a woman's nipples."

"The little yellow buds of the pines are not the cones, neither these nor 'the candles', with bristly conelike scales, that rise from the middle of the cluster. The cones are little round green cones that grown underneath the branch. When you shake the soft things, they give out a lemon-yellow dust that looks like (lemon-colored) smoke."
Emma's dad put up a tent in the brick courtyard of their house on Saturday and the two of them spent the night camping out, complete with hot dogs and s'mores. Mom and little Dudley were not invited.

They actually stayed out all night. Isn't that adorable?

Emma takes gymnastics on Saturday afternoons. When her mom asked her who she wanted to have take her to gymnastics this Saturday, she said her dad should take her because she was going to hang out with him all day.

He was the star of Saturday.

This is a great thing because Emma doesn't like boys! She has shied away from her dad in the past, so we're all very happy that he has succeeded in getting her attention.

Once, when she was watching her dad change Dudley's diaper, she said, Dudley's penis is little. Then she said, Daddy's penis is gigantic!

She was the star of that day!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Our driveway looks like the economy! it's a mess. Replacing it at this time may not be the smartest thing we ever did from a financial point of view, but we had several natural speed bumps along the way (unlike the previous economy!) and had no choice really but to remove the roots (hmmm) of the problem and start over. Let's hope the White House is able to do the same.

The cat, who used to be white, is now peach-colored from the red clay dirt and dust. Meantime, it's peach festival time in our corner of the orchard. Peaches are one of the great joys of being here. Those and Vidalia onions, I'd never heard of before coming south.

Meantime, I'm just back (again) from New York, where I passed the first anniversary of Jason's death with an ache in my heart - and from Dartmouth where i did a reading with a young poet named Suzanne Frischkorn. Believe me, anyone who can write a line like "I am almost invisible with longing" has a bright future.

To all and everyone, a mild and smiling springtime. It's already summer here! Once we get the driveway done, the outdoor furniture painted and the plants arranged outside, we're going to start having parties. I missed last summer because of my hip replacement, so I'm going to doubly enjoy this one.

Who knows what the future holds?