Afternoon at the Rancho

Breezy here, which is great, because it’s hot. I’m on the porch watching the whitecaps roll around on the bay. We have only a tiny slice of water view, but it’s framed by branches and quite lovely. The rocking chair beside me is going as though The Invisible Man were also enjoying the afternoon. What’s a zephyr where I am is apparently a strong wind higher up; the trees are tossing their heads. An osprey with a fish in its talons just headed across the sky above the yard, struggling and pitching until it found a current it could ride. For some reason unknown to me, the ospreys don’t seem to fish where they nest. The ospreys from the beach to the north will fish in the water to the south, and the birds with a nest to the east —  I have an almost-irresistible urge here to break into

The Vessel with the Pestle

but I’ll give you Danny Kaye instead.

When I got here I filled the birdfeeder, and though I had no customers in the hottest part of the day I had a house finch and some sparrows later on. Four crows were roosting in the neighbor’s apple tree. They’re a family; for the last two weeks the young ones followed their mother around making weak little “feed me” caws.  That’s over now.  One by one, they flew from the apple to the maple on the other side of the yard, feathery black shapes across the blue sky each with a small green fruit in its beak.


And even further

You knew I was going to have to do it, didn’t you?  This is the NYBG corpse flower cam.

Expected bloom Sunday or Monday, and the Garden, which is not open Mondays, will be open this one. Just sayin’.

Further to the corpse flower

First of all, its scientific name is Amorphophallus titanum, which translates as “misshapen giant dick.”

Then there’s this, about its smell:

Analyses shows the “stench” includes chemicals that produce these aromas: limburger cheese, rotting fish, sweaty socks, sweet floral scent, Chloraseptic,and human feces.

Also, the last photo I posted may not make it clear that the damn thing is eight to ten feet tall.



I’m going to Italy on Tuesday, and my only regret about this trip is, I won’t get to see and smell the corpse flower in bloom.

Cruz disses Trump, and now this

The once-in-decades corpse flower at the NYBG is blooming. Coincidence?



(Photo not by me, by

Absolutely positively the best story out of Cleveland so far

From today’s NY Times:

“According to xHamster, one of the leading aggregators of online porn, traffic from users in Cleveland spiked significantly this week as the Republican National Convention got underway. Viewership in the city shot up by 184 percent from its pre-convention average, surpassing traffic the site gets from people in large cities including New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

“‘This increase is unprecedented,’ said Mike Kulich, a spokesman for the web site. ‘They’re making porn great again.'”

I Love New York

Stopped in my local deli last night on the way back from the Rancho.  Young couple at the counter buying coffee.  Counter guy I’ve never seen before, young, big grin, trendy glasses, says to man, “Mind if I give your girlfriend a compliment?”  Man says go ahead.  Counter guy turns to woman and says,  “Nice ass!”  Woman turns bright red, giggles.  Man is stuck for a second, then says, “She loves to hear that.” Woman slaps him on the arm. They leave, her still giggling. I say to counter guy, “That may not have been what either of them was expecting.” Counter guy laughs and says, “Bet the sex will be better tonight.” “Oh,”  I say, “that was altruistic?” “Yeah,” says he. “That’s what I do, travel around the world making sure everyone has great sex.”

I love New York.



Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Dallas

I have to talk about Dallas, but I, a writer, find myself at a loss.  I write fiction; I take time, re-write, polish each word, each phrase.  This situation — Baton Rouge, St. Paul., Dallas — is too ragged and raw for that.

So I’m going to do something I haven’t done on this blog. I’m going to refer anyone who wants to go to Frank Bruni’s Op-Ed in today’s NY Times.  He says what I would want to say, and beautifully.

How America Heals After Dallas

Thank you for any kind and caring gesture you can make today, and tomorrow, and every day.

Fourth of July

The Rancho’s*** little North Fork town has a 200-year tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth.  A dozen local folks take turns and everyone sits on the Historical Society lawn and listens. Since we’re the emphatically-not-the-Hamptons fork we don’t have a lot of celebrities and we’re delighted with that. But every now and then someone of note does appear.  Sometimes they have places here, and sometimes they’re visiting friends. That was the case this year, and so the reading of the Declaration was led off by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.



***Rancho Obesesso, the semi-nomadic summer home I’ve shared with friends for 24 years

140 dead in Baghdad

During Ramadan. And they dare to call this a holy war.

The only counter to this brutal horror is beauty, though at times it seems weak protection.  Nevertheless.  This is the land the Mongol armies rode; it’s seen its share of terror.  And now look.



A moral compass

Something the world needs badly right now.  Elie Wiesel, RIP.  May his memory be for a blessing.