For some reason unknown to me — as the reasons for most things are — yesterday morning’s walk to the basketball gym was rife with discarded items that practically wrote their own captions. Here are mine; you’re welcome to send yours.
Honey… About the dog…
Whee! First-class flatbed from now on!
It should’ve set off warning bells when he insisted on hanging that stupid self-portrait in the living room.
Take this messenger job and shove it!
Do you think he’ll get it if I leave TWO behind?
I know you all want to come to my writing workshop in Assisi at Art Workshop International and I want you all there! So to that end, please note that the early bird registration discount has been extended until April 20. Take advantage! Come to Italy!
It’s not uncommon here to see plastic bottles and aluminum cans left beside trash containers, for street people to collect and redeem for the nickel or dime. People often place them carefully so they won’t blow away. This, however, was new to me: a pile, worth a couple of bucks, with its own handy carrying bag. I love New York.
But I don’t want to — I want YOU to. What I want for my birthday is for each and all of you to rush out and buy yourself a copy of this fabulous book. Then buy one for a friend, as an early, or belated, birthday present. Available wherever fine books are sold.
Why, you ask? Because it has heartbreaking, or funny, or breathtaking stories by such writers as Alice Walker, Walter Mosley, Paul Theroux, and well, ME. Not enough, you say? It has art by folks like Eric Fischl, Art Spiegelman, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. More, you want? We, the writers and artists, do not get the profits; nor does Simon and Schuster, who published it. Who does? The ACLU!
So — get yourself, and a friend, or many friends, a great book (and yes, it comes in e form), make a contribution to the ACLU, and celebrate the fact that I’m a year older.
Well, someone has to celebrate it. Not me. But get this book!
Here is Bella the Cat taking a drink. Note the balletic posture, left shoulder up, right paw crossed over and down for balance as she prepares to stick her snout into the H2O. Shocked, you ask yourself: what evil cat owner would make it this difficult for a kitty to get at her hydration?
Well, here’s the thing: this is not her water dish. Her water dish is an ignored object on the kitchen floor. It sits beside her food dish and is refilled every morning with the same fresh water as is in this. THIS is for the plants, to help humidify them. The previous cat, The Late Great Fugazy, never gave it a thought.
But from the moment — three days into her residence here — when Bella finally crawled out from under the bed to explore her surroundings, she found the water in this bowl much tastier than the water in her dish.
In reality, this is what I think is going on: Bella was a foundling. She was adopted as a kitten by some folks who wanted a friend for their aging cat. Bella, though, was too aggressive — in fact she was so pushy they named her after Bella Abzug. (Now that’s a real NY story, huh?) Finally the older cat was so terrorized she stopped eating, and they decided Bella had to go. So she came here. I think she must have survived on the streets until her adoption by a combination of aggression and sneakiness. Even now she doesn’t like to eat while I’m in the kitchen — if I come in while she’s eating she’ll run away. Otherwise she never avoids me (quite the contrary, e.g. she’s on my lap right now) but while she’s eating she wants to be alone. I think this water ballet business also has to do with making sure those other cats whom she used to have to fight for food on the street can’t sneak up on her while she’s stealing water from the out-of-the-way puddle. I also bet that if I put a food dish up there, that would be her dish of choice, too. Too bad that’s not about to happen.
Despite the 17 degree temps when we left in the morning, I went out to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve with the intrepid Keith Michael in search of Snowy Owls, which Keith had seen out there last week. And look!
According to another birder we met out there, this one is a juvenile — you can tell because it’s not pure white. She — I don’t know how he knew, but he kept calling it “she” — was just snoozing on the marsh. The above photo’s a zoom-in; she was a dot from where we were and we wouldn’t have seen her except the guy had a massive camera on a tripod pointed right at her.
She’s the first Snowy Owl I’ve seen (yay!) and following the Urban Birder’s Owl Protocol, which I only learned about yesterday, I’m not supposed to say exactly where she was so she doesn’t get overwhelmed by gawkers while she’s trying to sleep, owls being nocturnal creatures and birders mostly diurnal ones. But she was at Jamaica Bay, so you intrepid birders, dress in your five thermal layers and get on out there!
The death of Ursula le Guin earlier this week hit me hard. She was a personal hero, a writing hero, a political hero. I first read her in college — I remember I’d gone to a conference in Toronto, some political thing, and someone gave me ROCANNON’S WORLD. I read it there, and then read everything else I could get my hands on, despite, or because of, the fact that ROCANNON’S WORLD made me cry. So did LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. le Guin had an enormous, compassionate heart, and a genius for following an idea to its logical, but startling, conclusion; sometimes that conclusion was not the end of a story, but the starting point for one. (See “The Word for World is Forest.”) She was also a great writing teacher. STEERING THE CRAFT is a book I still use when I teach, and I recommend it to all my students. (And what a title!)
Ursula le Guin, goodbye, godspeed, and thanks.
That’s what my mother used to yell when she was about to tell a secret. This isn’t a secret but I wanted to give her a shout-out because she’d have loved it. Seems I’ve been nominated for an Edgar! The nominee is my short story, “Chin Yong-Yun Stays at Home,” published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine’s Jan.-Feb. 2017 issue. The narrator is Lydia Chin’s mother. For whom my mother always insisted she wasn’t the model. And she wasn’t, either… Thanks to Linda Landrigan and AHMM for taking it, thanks to the committee, and HEY, WOILD!
One day to go in the year. One degree F, with windchill, at the river this morning. One dogwalker. One jogger. One bag lady, though she was bundled in three coats. One other person, like me, just walking. One seagull overhead.
Never have I seen my neighborhood so empty. The weather (it snowed yesterday), a lot of people taking this week off, and the fact that it’s Sunday, have combined for the winter quiet of an actual village, not the usual bustle of Greenwich Village. You could park a Mack truck on my block, even if you aren’t good at parking Mack trucks.
In this kind of sunny quiet I can feel hope for the future riding on the wind. So, despite all the disappointments of the past year, I send you all good wishes for 2018. Be kind, be productive, and #Resist!
December is here, and just in time for your holiday shopping, so are the 2018 SJ Rozan Calendars! This year there are three: FAKE BIRDS, with some of the year’s best fake bird photos; FOOD, and need I say more? And now, for her many fans, BELLA THE CAT.
Get yours (and everyone else’s) today!