Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30, 2012

Cold sweet tea with the morning pills.

Drive to Atlanta to co-celebrate my sister’s and my birthdays. We eat at Chili’s, my nephew Daniel’s favorite, and see the movie End of Watch, which manages somehow to be both badly written and gripping. Drive next morning to North Georgia College and State University, a sprawling, handsome campus in a part of Georgia which is far more beautiful than I had expected. Up on the third floor of the science building, the windows reveal misty mountains fading away fold after fold. The door of the building is guarded by an iron T-rex. Linda is doing a practicum there, and David is a student. We didn’t see him because of an away soccer game. There is a golden spire. Off then to Monteluce, which seems to have been meant to be a massive planned residential community, all of which collapsed in the housing slump except for the winery, now prosperous and elegant. We took the deluxe winery tour with a couple from Tennessee. He was a health care professional, who–futilely–explained his job to me at some length. She was Korean and quite stylish. Big turquoise rings. The tour was informative. Maybe my own search for land would be more precise if I decided to grow vines. South facing hill, good drainage. The Monteluce wines are rough and new, but they seem to be going about it all in the right way. We had to hurry because there was a wedding there in the afternoon. The land is beautiful. The houses that got built are in faux-Tuscan style, both charming and, in North Georgia, a little silly.

God made the grape so much more complex than other fruits.

Saw video of their trip to Thailand. Video is amazing because however exotic a place sounds when it’s being discussed, when you see pictures of it, it seems recognizable and neighborly. But for the banana trees, Jonathan’s little village might have been Georgia. David stabbed a pig for sacrifice and a community dinner. You can’t slit its throat, apparently, but must stab it and let it bleed to death slowly to propitiate the spirits. The enterprise there is to preserve the culture of the indigenous people through sensible farming (bananas, tea, coffee) rather than universally disastrous corn. They made sure to include shots of the trees I had bought for them. Apparently a little bit of money can purchase a wilderness of coffee and banana. Babies screamed all through the videos, which I thought as funny but the people in the midst of their drama seemed not to notice.

Got my ping-pong game almost up to primordial standards.

Drove home through rain an darkness, but, making not one stop and seeing not one cop, arrived in record time.

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012

Still, it must be observed that some university courses are bad for their students. Some are boring or time-wasting but those which do more lasting harm are those which give a single narrow answer to the problems of the world, instilling a sense of superior understanding while cutting off wide inquiry into causes and effects. Years ago you had to be careful what was said in class because the women’s studies units instilled a sense of indignation without instilling any viable notion of what one was indignant about. Certain words would set the Initiates off and nothing more could be accomplished. It was all attitude and no understanding. “Sensitivity” was encouraged in the classroom; one eventually realized that “sensitivity” indicated the willingness to leave ignorant but cherished ideas unchallenged– only certain ones, though, the intellectual fetish of the semester. All else was fair game. In class yesterday there was a discussion of how “white privilege” explains all the woes of contemporary society. One knew instantly what class they had taken, and with whom. For a while I participated, until I realized that what they were saying was a rigid and permanent stance, and no other roads would open. The attitude of orthodoxy makes students, at least for a while, unteachable. They’ve been instilled with an idea which is lovely to them for the moment, but can stand in primal loveliness only if left undiscussed. Or, if discussed, the discussion can be made only of affirmation. White privilege, of course, explains nothing, and must itself be explained. Fanatic students are often the among brightest, too, which sounds odd until one considers that most bright students know they’re bright and cling naturally to their own notions as being, in all likelihood, superior. I know this because I was that kind of student, always rolling my eyes at the folly of my professors. What a trial I must have been. If students leave college with a certain set of rigid notions they are not willing to discuss, analyze, change, then we have failed in an unanticipated way.

Blazing falls days after foggy mornings. The moon was brilliant last night, her light enhanced by bouncing between Carolyn’s white aluminum and mine.

Exhaustion of ambition and frustration, huge longing and modest having. All the sages of the East warn against this. It does no good.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012

Strong red wine after rehearsal last night, and no recollection of getting home. I thought those days were over.

Lovely Wednesday. Much gardening. I went to the nursery on Merrimon. Unsold tomatoes and peppers still in their little pots were bravely ripening a few fruits. It was the saddest thing. If I owned a nursery, I’d have to have a plot of land where I could plant the orphans, so that they might fulfill their destinies, a little. My own tomatoes yield and yield. I’m almost wishing for a frost. The golden angel’s trumpets are immense. Something in the garden is very fragrant, though I can’t figure out exactly what.

Abridged my Fernando Riel entry–an exercise in futility, as it turns out, for the same notice comes back that it’s over the limit. It’s not, of course. Wasn’t the first time. Arithmetic would seem to be pretty objective, but apparently their interpretation of the number 1300 is unique and creative. I don’t know why you’d advertise an international contest and then cheat the people who try to enter it. Just give the prize to the person you’ve already selected and have done with it. I’m oddly, disproportionately saddened by this. It seemed so right for me. The blocks, as they often do, seem so gratuitous.

Tried to buy a laptop at Staples. "Oh, we don't have that in stock. . . oh, well. we're expecting a new shipment. . . well, Bill is working on that one; there was a bit of a glitch. . . ." Finally walked out, exhausted. Didn't need one anyway.

Received our new contracts. The good news is that there is a bit of a raise. The bad news is that I received the raise of a mediocrity. One is a good sport with evaluations and such, causing as little trouble as one can through the years, letting mistakes pass by, neglecting to assert. Then one day you are reminded why you should police everything, always.

Crackers and blue cheese for breakfast, under a deep mist which, oddly, illuminates rather than darkens, diffusing the lights of the sleeping town.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012

Good Monday– blazing blue autumn skies, and now, by night, a radiant chunk of moon. Writing and gardening by day. Planted joe-pye, white rose, Lenten rose for next year. Dug and mulched. My nigh class was, I think, wonderful. I gave them Whitman and America. Whitman would have been enough.  J W’s daughter is one class, M G’s in another. I said I would quit when the second generation came around

Monday, September 24, 2012

Muslim You Tube Mystics

Poking around on You Tube I happened upon sites where Muslim spokesmen addressed the current anti-Mohammed-video violence. What I found were poets and mystics singing love songs to God and to the Seal of the prophets. I didn’t expect that. Quite beautiful. I was stirred and moved. From my perspective they didn’t exhaust, or even touch, the subject. They changed it. They changed the subject from justifying a barbaric response to demonstrating the most transcendent devotion. Face to face, one wouldn’t know what to say. All the best religious poetry does the same thing: avoids responding to the unanswerable accusations of the cruelty of God, and instead jingles its bracelets and flutters its eyelashes in the dance of love.

Fernando Rielo

Entered the Fernando Rielo Prize for Mystical Poetry contest in Spain. It seemed so right for me. But I keep hearing from them that I exceeded the line limit. I was careful before I sent the manuscript the first time that it was under the limit. When they first fired it back, I counted, line by line, and it was 30 lines under the limit. I said so, and got the same message back a second time. This is disappointing without being surprising. I was invited to amend the manuscript, but will not, for that’s a road to which there is no end. The next revision will be rejected for some other reason. They already have their winner. It was a sham I should have seen from the start. You’d think people asking for poems about God would have some honesty, or at least some shame.

 September 24, 2012

Elaborate dreams, some early in the night, some late. Early they were frightening: I was driving in a convertible, but little monsters kept falling into the car, and I couldn’t turn the lights on to see them. One had a very little head. I was trying to feel the head to see what kind of thing it was, but it began to bite me, and I woke up. Before waking I had bought a house with a lake at the back. In order to get to the house from the back you had to wade through the lake, which I was doing with some joy, holding something precious–I forget now what– in my hand.

Much music yesterday, and some turbulence. Four brown stinkbugs on the ceiling at one point.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012

Most amazingly silent hour.

The computer turns itself off from time to time and does an update. The morning afterward you’re confronted by a blue screen and the necessity to log in, which infuriates me but evidently keeps the machine happy in some obscure way. Once the password is entered, the machine does restore much of what was there before, but always with some odd twist, by which the demon of the machinery manifests itself. Usually, as this morning, Netflix loads back up, but not necessarily with what you were in the middle of watching the night before. Light flickered up in the middle of an episode of Battle Star Galactica, which program I have never once watched or summoned from the ether in my life. The computer must have been watching it itself.

Last minute housewarming for Russell and Maria. They’re so excited about the changes they want to make in the place. They have two fig trees and a back yard like the Hanging Gardens. Disappointment in other things had prompted me to buy an elaborate cooking device from Cuisinart the last time I was in Biltmore. It sat in the box in the corner of the kitchen, my realizing once I got it home that I had no immediate use for it and might never even open the box. So that went to R & M at their housewarming, and stopped being a burden and a remonstrance to me.

Drove out to Swain County to look at some property. When I saw the ad online, I realized I’d found the perfect parcel, at a price I could afford, that I could in fact pay cash for on the moment if that were necessary. Phoned and made an appointment with the realtor. All the way out I thought about the property. I thought about wandering amid my own trees like an elf in Mirkwood. I pictured walking through. learning the life, clearing a little place here to favor a patch of bloodroot, taking out a crowding tree there, listening to my turkeys. I had determined to buy long before I found the office near Bryson City. But when I got there I realized I had misunderstood both the ad and the realtor. The parcel had been divided up and was being sold piecemeal, for home sites, in bits of one and two acres, and when I arrived for my noon appointment, three or four parcels were left. The lot was full of people being trucked out to see the land, and evidently had been all morning. I turned around and drove back. I lay down and slept the rest of the day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 19, 2012

Had the landscaping man out to see what I could do to regain control of the front terraces. He loved the asters and the borage, which now shed blue and puple on the afternoon air.

It had been a while since I sat on a big senate-appointed academic committee. Went to my first meeting thereof this morning, where I was impressed by two things: first, the preparation and engagement of the chair, who was on top of all the intricacies of our complicated purlieu. I see why I don’t chair anything. I simply do not have the needful head for detail. The second was the percentage of our labor– about 80%, I would estimate– which was pointless homage to flawed (I’m tempted to say malicious) assessment directives from the administration. Most departments are bogged down by the same asininity, but as we are a cross-curricular oversight committee, the pitch of asininity is for us yet steeper. We are required to find a way to compare things which cannot be prepared, and though this problem has been pointed out fifty times, the assessment fairies yet insist that the write-up of a chemistry experiment and a sonnet can–must–be weighed in the same balance by the same people–people who would likely not understand either the write-up or the sonnet. Assessment as now enforced on campus does not evaluate curriculum. It deforms it. Every department meeting of every department involves some compromise of academic rigor in order to meet criteria set down by people for whom excellence is not especially desired, but perceived compliance is. The cart has been before the horse since that snake-like word “assessment” crept into some middle management wannabe’s vocabulary. The four tenured full professors on the committee were all for saying, “We’re not going to do this.” The others kept silence, and one understood their anxiety. On a high note, everything the administration could do to distract us from delivering quality education has likely been done. They’ve come up with nothing new lately, and the energy with which they insist on the old inanities seems to be flagging a little. Perhaps, like most wicked things, “assessment” will simply die of exhaustion. But we are basically collegial even if the administration is not. We try our best to come as close to what is asked of us as possible, not because we believe in what we’re doing, but because we don’t want to embarrass the hierarchy too much. Consideration lengthens our road. We consider where we are not considered, and I suppose, at the end of it, I prefer that–slightly-to simply refusing and putting an end to the charade. Our present Corporate Curriculum looks like it’s heading toward the graveyard of ill-considered policies, and that might be enough for the moment.

Incredible silence outside. Even the sleepless are asleep.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 18, 2012

End of the week’s longest day. Cool, autumnal, the windows closed but for a crack. My classes inspired me to write, but coming home late and exhausted inspired me to watch a movie about Christopher Isherwood instead. Perfect tomatoes keep coming out of my garden. Whatever poisoning you get from too many tomatoes is my destiny. Pile of memorabilia from The Rochester Hotel on my desk. I must have wanted it when I gathered it together, a flyer, a coaster, a napkin, a pamphlet on the movies filmed in Durango. Pleasant talk with student Ethan after class, first about his poems, then about everything else.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012

Flicker at the birdbath late in the afternoon. He was vivid, immense. When he was done bathing, he perched on the rim and opened his beak like he was meaning to call, but nothing came out. In a few minutes I watched, there were seven species at the bath.

Have I mentioned the brass fossils and dinosaurs set into the floor of the Denver airport?

I thought of how, if I had grown up in Durango, I would need a whole new vocabulary to write of my surroundings. I would have words for the graduations of dry and the shades of shadow through the day on the near mountains. I would have to learn the flowers over again for, except in the town gardens, they are all different. I might have been mute there, a man of action, having nothing to say to complete the perfect light.

In Durango: A hummingbird came to the terrace garden where I drank my drink and wrote my poems. She was not a ruby throat.

People do not appreciate how low-maintenance I am.

Dreams last night of smoke people. Gradually you learned that some people were not real, but made out of smoke. I don’t know what the consequences were. Maybe none. Maybe they were just like us, except for that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


September 16, 2012

Crickets outside my window, in the close damp of the Southern before-morning. The last few days I had been in Colorado where there is no damp in the air, but cutting, sparkling clarity, so that every detail on the mountain half a mile away is clear. It was bracing. This is comforting, embracing. For this moment of my life, I prefer this.

Nevertheless, the sojourn in Durango was wondrous. For one thing, United got me there and back–with a reasonably complicated itinerary– without incident, every connection made. We were late enough to Chicago that I had to run flat-out from C Concourse to F Concourse, but it was possible to do, and the run was, after it was over, exhilarating. My powers of sleep astonish even me, so I don’t remember that much of the actual flights. Between Denver and Durango I was seated across from a family of over-articulate girls, who announced their every thought and desire in astonishingly loud, clear tones, as though they were in a play. I had a window seat then, and I must say I had never seen the like of what was visible a couple of thousand feet below: the mountains were torn, riven, tortured, sculpted, colossal, unending, easily the most sublime landscape I had ever seen. The Alps when I crossed them were pretty under blankets of snow, but the Rockies were harsh, bare except for the very highest peaks, a sort of pale taupe, but here and there dotted with green lakes, and many acres golden with-- I didn’t know what it was, but the deep, brilliant gold of some plant on the southern slopes. Rochelle told me when she picked me up at the airport that it was aspen, square miles of shivering golden aspen. At one point there was a round lake high on the flat top of a mountain. I imagined how spare and beautiful it must be to stand there, which I longed to do. I recognized one of my holy places, a pool on rock, a meeting of the elementals, air and water and light and stone, and I would be the soul observing, waiting for some kind of radiant Descent. I imagined myself lying down and dying in such a place, like a wild animal seeking out its last home.

Durango itself is a pretty, happy town, the people friendly and open even by Southern standards. I have not been around the Wild West idiom often, but I find it direct and sunny-- youthful, a little coarse, a little ignorant, very graceful, like the actual youths roaming the streets unabashedly in their enormous Stetsons. I stayed at the Rochester and drank at the Strater, a bit of Western Rococo famous enough to represent the whole town on the posters in the Denver airport. The barkeep at the Strater remembered my drink and made it for me every time after the first time. Generally I don’t drink the same thing twice in a row, but when a bartender remembers, it’s so charming I go through with the gesture. During the day I mostly shopped and poked my head into the various attractions set out for visitors. Friday I sat under the blazing light on a cafĂ© terrace and wrote poetry. Then, I was happy. In my line of sight was a sunflower-and-petunia garden and a happy little street and the smoke of the narrow-gauge tourist train and a great neighborly smashed-face mountain upon which something had died, so there was a crown of circling vultures, and above all the eerily clear, weirdly stainless, dry blue sky.

Lunch with Rochelle and Joel. Joel is from Chagrin Falls, and we know people in common from International Academia. His sexiness at 75 instilled me with hope. I learned a whole lot about the town’s intermeshed and soap opera history, and the politics of the little college on the hill, which I never saw. So much about Durango reminds one of Asheville: the artiness, the entrepreneurial spirit, the abundance of excellent eateries, the progressive attitude in a state much less progressive all around it.  We have hippies. They have cowboys. It takes a certain kind of man to pull off high boots and a ten-gallon hat, and Durango had them. I bought a fish and a loon carved from bison horn, and a shirt for Daniel dyed with actual red Colorado dirt, and an Indian ring inlaid with onyx and jasper and opal. I don’t know what the symbols on the ring mean, but I think they mean the moon.

The Durango Arts Center was a block from my hotel. The theater there is really fine, the right shape, the right size, with a bar unabashedly taking up one corner. They mocked the East for having rules governing the consumption of alcohol. Theresa is the new Center director, and her style is very New York, direct, abrupt, time-saving, which I hope is setting well with the laconic westerners she governs. Her ideas are right, and she deserves to succeed. Thursday night was dress rehearsal. Alphie and Gretta was well, though the cast for Doppler had not yet settled in on an interpretation, and the two actors had very different acting styles. Opening night A&G was even better, and Doppler had settled in and was a success. The house was completely full. The crowd was among the most responsive I’ve ever had. You could see the actors stumbling over laughter, going back and repeating the lines which had never been interrupted by it before. I gave a little before-show talk and then a question-and-answer. I was showing off. I remember thinking, “hey, I’m really good at this.” I hope my inner monolog didn’t show that much. The only was to describe my reception by the people of Durango was lionization, both exhausting and very, very gratifying.

Theresa picked me up in the dark of the morning. On the way to the airport we saw a skunk scavenging a road kill deer, and then a bobcat crossing the road. These things were wonders.

Theater last night down by the railroad tracks. Pretty much exactly what one would expect. Sat with Lisa, whom I’d not met before. The cats didn’t have time to get pissed at me for my absence, so that was well. Home. My beloved before-morning dark.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13, 2012

Theater last night. Stopped at 5 Walnut for a prosecco on the way. It’s the place where women meet their women friends for a girls’ night out. One woman walked in who was the exact image of Botticelli’s Venus, flowing hair and all. Nobody seemed to notice but me. I thought the man next to her was a goner, but he was the bartender’s boyfriend and never looked at her. To my left at the theater was Meron, from Ethiopia, whose English was so good I took her for a native. I kept firing questions about Ethiopia at her, when it was clear she was working pretty hard to be an American. “Meron,” it turns out, indicates a kind of sacred oil. I was trying to imagine what it was like to come from there to here, and be a theater major at Warren Wilson. The play, a one-man show about Buckminster Fuller was, somewhat against expectation, magnificent. I forget occasionally that though a theater piece is usually comic, or tragic, or at least dramatic, sometimes it can be merely enlightening. What was the difference between the show and a lecture? Maybe nothing but pretty lights; still, one loves a skillful lecture.

In three hours I’m again at the mercy of United Airlines. Learn to expect the worst, so anything short of the worst will feel like a reprieve.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 11, 2012

Even more laborious attack on the garden yesterday, after which all was well, and more of the front garden brought to order. The tomatoes produce beyond my ability to utilize them. Planted iris. Blasted my night class with Poussin, Delacroix, Haydn, Beethoven, Wagner, and I think they are ready for Romanticism. Crescent moon above the Y before dawn.

Night Music is set for the Carrboro Arts Center on October 21.

Working in the garden I knocked a mantis down from a leaf. She fell on her back, and was so big I thought she was a frog for a moment. She didn’t fly (maybe she needs to be high up to do that,) but pulled herself from leaf to leaf with those amazing arms. I lifted her up in the end of the shovel to place her in safety amid the 4 O’clocks. She made the foliage move when she moved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 10, 2012

Late rising, enough light already to see the outlines of the trees.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 9, 2012

Weekend quasi-academic meetings harmless but also– as though one hadn’t anticipated this– unnecessary.

The world says, “Things are over when they’re over.” I say, “No, they must be over when I can’t stand them anymore.”

Something brought J powerfully to mind this morning. Maybe it was my brief but not entirely futile trip to the studio. Still miss him. Lies from a friend are stranger than lies from a lover, because they are unnecessary. I would never not have been on his side, whatever the issue: no need to misrepresent. Maybe I’m the only one with these particular standards of loyalty– a little Medieval, a little Homeric, enormously pre-Facebook. I read Scott and Homer at an impressionable age.

Got off the couch and went into the garden. Whatever ails me is not physical, for I worked like an ox and never felt it. Got half a ton of morning glory vines pulled and the front yard peonies weeded and mulched. Felled the giant wild lettuce. I’d taken the disappearance of the onion plants to mean a failed crop, but that was not the case. I dug them up (accidentally at first) and had about a nine-fold increase on what I’d planted, lovely and red and firm. It is a day of extraordinary beauty, the temperature all but perfect, the sweat reluctant at first, but then free and cleansing. The hummingbirds dived at me each time I trundled up onto the porch, one time united in purpose.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 8, 2012

Friday of doing less than I had planned, then a few hours at Lake Logan. Back to choir camp in the morning, through the shining farms.

In the east at sunset burned a giant rainbow, K phoned me so I would walk out on the porch and see it. At its point of maximum brightness, it wasn’t “all the colors of the rainbow” at all, but one blazing red.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 7, 2012

Birthday dinner at J and L’s, very sweet, a select group and cooked-just-right kabobs on the grill.

I don’t want to say that recent days have been blank slates, but they have been slates upon which there was not much will or opportunity to write. Classes are good, my students’ writing and participation outstanding. But I come home between and afterwards and sleep. I had underestimated the severity of the depression I entered in Sligo I think I am just now climbing out of it.

It is an odd green outside, the green world crushed under the gray silk of an enduring fog.

Looked carefully at the poetry of the poet whom nearly everybody cites as their favorite, who is quoted almost every time a contemporary poet is quoted. I read her poems with my lips tight, wondering what the attraction is, finding them not quite drab, but uninspired, ordinary, even a trifle borrowed. Perhaps that is exactly their attraction, drabness, lack of inspiration, extreme familiarity. Safety from the rigors of discovery. I picture a housewife strolling into her backyard and remarking, as if the world were just now belatedly revealed, on the niceness of everything. Her daughter is pulling a buttercup. Her neighbor makes excellent pies. A bird sings. She herself is so filled with love and understanding. She embraces the whole half block she can see from her patio. It is not nice to call other people names. Not that any of this is bad, but that it should be handwritten on pink paper and folded into her husband’s lunch bag for a sweet noon surprise. It should not pass as the voice of the age.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 5, 2012

Re-blooming white iris is a ghost in the garden minutes before dawn.

Monday, September 3, 2012


 In 1973 I bought a plastic laundry basket at the Westcott Variety Store in Syracuse, NY, for $1.79 (the price is still inked on the bottom) TODAY that finally-broken-down basket is going into the recycle bin. Well done thou good and faithful servant. 

September 3, 2012

Third night in a row downtown, and this time it was Caleb’s Poetry Cabaret at the Altamont. It was sensational fun, with a wide variety of poets performing. I arrived to find that I was a “featured poet,” a little embarrassed (and a little satisfied) to be singled out from the crowd like that. Read poems from The Glacier’s Daughters. It was good to hear them again. I appreciated that all kinds of poetry were represented, but it is still the case that performance poetry–slam poetry as it was called, rather nostalgically, last night– depends for its effect not on itself but on the supposed authority of the performer. Our featured slam poet did undistinguished poetry about being gay, which was received with enthusiasm because it was assumed he had suffered all the anti-gay indignities, enjoyed all the gay delights, mentioned in the poem. I think of this because it’s the sort of thing I obsess about, the long struggle between moment and eternity, between fad and culture. A lot of surrealism. Balance of the races. Girls in lovely dresses. No one but me like me. Two guys from the drunken, laconic, Kerouac-Hunter S Thompson-Bob Dylan-late-arriving and instruction-missing- hipster camp, whom I thought I would loathe, but who turned out to be clever and entertaining. All styles, in any case. It was good to see the K's at the front table. The rain had stopped by the time we took our pictures and headed home, and the city gleamed with slick streets and a misty, fading moon. The night gleam of the city made me think I was hungry.

Everything is dull with mist now. Kevin let fly a few bars and then, as I might in fact do, subsided back into amphibian sleep.

Was told to lie about the bike wreck, telling people someone ran into me, rather than to admit no one was within half a mile and my own brakes did me in.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Took my bike out for the first time in a couple of years. Wrestled with inflating the tires. All that kind of thing is more frustrating to me than it should be. Anyway, rode around in the empty parking lots and roads by the Woodfin Y. In one sense it was not a successful venture. I had forgotten how efficient the brakes are, and when I first applied them, they grabbed hold and I went flying over the handlebars. I landed flat (I’ve always been a good faller) so nothing got more of a shock than anything else. Not even scraped skin, though my already damaged shoulder was jarred and aches like hell now. On the other hand, I feel terrific, spent and energized at once, as I remember from the old days.

September 2, 2012

ACB remembered my father as gentle and kind. She said “all the other adult men in the neighborhood were gruff. Your father wasn’t.”

The golden boy climbed onto the roof and fixed the leak–so we think until the rains come–in fifteen minutes. I had worried about if for six months. I introduced him to the cats, and he thought Circe was a nice name. Being the Village Explainer, I said, “Circe is a witch in the–“
”I know,” he said from under his golden thatch. “I read.”

SC sang “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone.

Slept through most of my birthday, as though a wish I’d uttered long ago to be turned into a cat were being fulfilled. Did write a story in the morning, which turned out to be about my father. The last two years I bought a vehicle on my birthday; no such thing was going to happen this year, but there had to be something to commemorate the day, so I bought a set of Italian wine glasses at an antiques store under where I used to have my studio at the Candle Station. Also Rosetta Stone collections for French and German, to honor the passion for languages which has come upon me late, but, I hope, not futilely.

In the afternoon I met MN and his wife J, who are here for a wedding, and took them on a brief tour of the area, including a chunk of the Parkway, my studio, Biltmore Ave and Pack Square downtown. M’s kindness is what I remember from high school, and that has deepened with the years. Also noted that I have no domestic conversation, they almost nothing but. This is not a criticism of either side, but rather a source of wonderment. I learned–happily–the ins and outs of their complicated family histories. The N's always live in a clump, like an old Italian princely clan, and when one moves, the others move too, until the same proximity is achieved in a new neighborhood. I envy this. They bought me dinner in the midst of the hubbub on Pack Square, and we were all happy. I told M I remembered him from his first day in first grade, a transfer from another school. He was small (I felt myself wanting to protect him from the newness of it all) and had wondrously dark hair. He was the first human to whom I remember applying the adjective “beautiful.” I recall the moment clearly.  I’d opened a new door of perception with that unuttered, but fully considered, word “beautiful.”  They, husband and wife, had a perilous and heroic courtship one would not guess at regarding their extreme domesticity today. I’ve no idea what they learned of me. I don’t recall saying much about what I’ve seen and done. What would I have said? In the sense they would recognize, I have had no life at all.

Last night’s moon was even lovelier than the night before’s.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1, 2012

Brilliant moon last night, a blue moon, though ivory white, casting shadows to the north throughout the visible garden. Active morning, though the infection in my legs encouraged me to nap mightily in the afternoon. At evening I went downtown to the opening of Apothecary. It’s a small space on Eagle Street, but plenty of room for the engaged imagination. Frank and his friends had already decorated with spare brilliance and unexpected taste. I was early, and so heard none of the bands, and felt shaky, so I couldn’t stay. But I saw the moon rising behind the big steeple over Eagle Street, and I thought that made much well. I was a bit disoriented and had a minor accident in the parking garage, so part of today will involve restoring a hubcap.

Birthday greetings on Facebook, which I receive with boyish delight. I am too old for most of the emotions I have.