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“See? See? Those damn Twilight vampires aren’t the only ones who sparkle in the daylight.”

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“It’s not so bad being between a rock and a hard place as long as you have a nice big butt for a cushion.”

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In the future, every cat will be famous for fifteen minutes on YouTube.”

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“I’m only coming to your Thanksgiving dinner if you promise there won’t be any drama that I can’t get in on.”

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“Dear Diary: Fell asleep in my tuxedo again, woke up with a raging hangover. In other words, still lovin’ the bachelor pad lifestyle!!!”

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drain

When you live in a 100-year old house, there are things that go Boom in the night REAL LOUD.

Most recently, what went BOOM was a 50-year old shower door, and it had heaved itself right off the wall. Poor, tired, 100-year old walls can’t fight a suicidal shower door.

So Top Cat got to demolish the old shower and with the help of the plumber next door, he put in a whole new shower for us.  That, in itself, is a whole other saga. The less said, the better.

Today Top Cat  put the finishing touches on solving one last problem with the new shower ( a persistent leak  through to the dining room ceiling), and the drawing above is his illustration of the talk he gave on the topic (to me).

Now, listening to a detailed explanation of the inner mysteries of household plumbing is not how I want to spend ten minutes of my life. But Top Cat was so pleased with his ingenuity that he asked me if I wanted to hear all about it and I said “Yes, oh yes!” and he got out his pen and he started to diagram the shower drain, the bathroom floor, and the dining room ceiling — all which you can see, above.

He even said, at one point, looking at his sketch, “Hey — that’s a pretty good drawing!”, and I listened to it all. Because Top Cat married me when I had five cats and I owe him.

So tonight, Top Cat and I are celebrating our new shower. We’re having my favorite dinner (champagne and pizza), and the Toppermost of the Cattermost  has just put an old Michael Jackson album on the turntable.  I know what comes next:

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The Moves.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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Summer

You might recognize these elements from the June chapter of When Wanderers Cease to Roam. In my book, June is a month in flight — lots of birds and insects on my mind, floating in air as thick as the honey smells of Summer.

But June is also for remembering when you lived closer to the ground, many years ago, about four feet up from your sneakers —  when you were running the bases in a neighborhood game of kick ball, and about two inches from the dirt — when you rested your chin on the ground to watch ants forage for food in the grass.  That’s why I tried to paint June from a bug’s eye view — to remind me (and you) of a long-gone point of view, when we were small.

I have put these little paintings in a collage because, well, what else am I going to do with all those original illustrations from When Wanderers Cease to Roam?

I’m still working on a title for this one. So maybe I’ll resort to an old trick:

I just opened a book I had here at hand at random and this is what I got:

“Your observations are to be taken with great pains and accuracy”.

(from an excerpt from the diaries of Lewis and Clark)

I could do worse.

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Yesterday I drove across the Whitestone Bridge today to go to my favorite thrift shop In. The. World. It’s in Westchester, my old hometown.

Here are some of the things that I considered buying, but didn’t: 1950s novels with their original dust jackets:

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I already have too many books. But oh, how I love love love those 1950s Authors Photos:

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I don’t know if I did the right thing, leaving those books to fend for themselves…if I don’t rescue those books, who will??  And, will the right people (not me) rescue  these jackets?:

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The swirly-black print one was a beautifully made heavy silk with front zipper ($6.99)  and the one on the right was a brand new patchwork of buff-colored suede stitched loosely together with some kind of matching crochet thread with covered buttons up the front ($29.99) that looked like something that Sheryl Crow would wear on a first date. I couldn’t imagine where you’d wear the balck swirly-print silk jacket, but it’s sooooo me.

Unlike this Nolan Miller number with the spangles on the sleeve which I got a strange, soooo not me crush on:

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This photo gives you no idea how much those sleeves glittered, even in the low light of the going-downhill Secret Thrift Shop that I love. Some days, I really miss the ’80s.

THIS is the kind of thing you only find in a really fine thrift shop:

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A Betsy Johnson tuxedo-cut denim jacket for $6.99. If I wasn’t sure that wearing such a jacket made someone my age look totally idiotic, I would have bought this immediately.

I’d already been browsing the messy aisles of this thrift shop for half an hour and I hadn’t found anything to rescue, and I was beginning to fear that I’d have to go home empty handed.

Never fear, however: FATE always leads me to the right stuff in the nick of time:

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This, my dear readers, is a Jackie Gleason LP to add to my excellent collection of Jackie Gleason LPs from the late ’50s – early ’60s.

This one is called: The Torch With the Blue Flame.

A delicate spindrift of marimba tones, the glow of a solo trombone  and whispering strings, blending in a mist of sound…soft, dream-provoking Gleason sounds that sing with a flickering, haunting light…The Torch With The Blue Flame.

Sooo 1959, so Grown up, sooooo….corny.

Oh man, some days I really miss what I never had.

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pumps

A squirrel loves a pumpkin.

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Baby pumpkins love a pumpkin.  [All photos were taken Nov. 11, a warmish day that was just right for walking around the neighborhood peeping at pumpkins.]

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Afternoon sunlight loves a pumpkin, or two, or four.

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Pumpkins waiting for the mailman love a pumpkin.

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Zombies love a pumpkin. Pumpkin innards remind them of human brains.

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Peek-a-Boo pumpkins love a pumpkin.

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The Hallelujah Chorus  loves a pumpkin. Somebody say Amen.

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And my neighbor who hasn’t fixed his garage yet from when lightning struck it last Summer loves a pumpkin, probably. Because EVERYBODY loves a pumpkin.

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fall one

November 1:  I’m excited about Fall, and ambitious. I’ll paint the most complicated leaves I can find.

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November 7:   Ooooooo.  The first REDS.  There’s a leaf from the Japanese maple in the front yard in there, which has just turned from dull maroon into brilliant vivid crimson.

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November 17:  Here’s how I learn all about BROWN, and when a single oak leaf turns into a complete Fall landscape.

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November 30:  All the trees are bare, and the leaves are scattered on the ground like bits of old wrapping paper, torn and worn, pushed by cold winds into the farthest corners of the yard. 

November.

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My awesome weekend (con’t): Day Two, Saturday, Oct. 31

Here’s the most crucial thing you need to know about Long Island: the North Shore is New England, and the South Shore is New Jersey. Culturally, socially, and mall-wise; when you’re looking for a place to pimp your car, you head for the South Shore. When you’re looking for a landscape in which to take an inspiring all-day nature walk, muse on the transcendental nature of human existance on a fine Fall day, you head for the North Shore.

The North Shore of Long Island is 120 miles long, all of it shoreline on the body of water with the highest number of yachts per capita, the Long Island Sound. Despite its long history of being a millionaires’ playground (from back when a million bucks was serious money) the North Shore is still a bit raw, wild, rural, and reticent. It is the anti-Hamptons.

On Saturday, as fine a Fall day as there ever was, Top Cat and I drove 16 miles east of our little toe-hold on the North Shore to spend the day wandering in the 80-acre sea-side nature preserve called Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge, in a town called Lloyd Neck.  Lloyd Neck was not happy when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie rented a mansion there this past Spring while Angelina was filming a movie on the Island — Lloyd Neck is the kind of place where yammering for attention makes one too gauche to live on Lloyd Neck. Please. Don’t do that: it upsets the locals. Which I know for a fact.

Target Rock Preserve is named after a rock. A rock called “Target Rock”. It’s a big rock, and it sticks out of the Sound, and it was used as a — wait for it — target, during the American Revolution.  But more about that later.

Because our first stop in Lloyd Neck was to visit my favorite house on Long Island, a house that Top Cat and I had seen for sale when we were in Lloyd Neck last Spring, stalking Brangelina.  We’d taken a wrong turn ( get-away manouvre) onto a private road (onto a side-street to lay low)  and ended up at a dead end (sorry: that’s  cul de sac  in this neighborhood) and discovered my dream house. It is a pristine mid-century “modern” ,  California-esque split-level structure perched in a notch on a cliff above the estuary waters of the Long Island Sound with a 180-degree view of the Target Rock Refuge.

When I saw this house last Spring I wanted to live here, and Spring is my least favorite season. I had to see it in my most favorite season just so I’d know what the perfect house for me looks like at the perfect time of year.

It. Looks. Beautiful.

And as  I was  strolling around the property, peeping into windows and gesturing around the view as if I owned it, the new owner waved hello to me from the living room picture window. At least, I think he was waving hello. He was definitely waving, so I waved back. Friendly, like.

And he invited me and Top Cat to come in and look around.

The new owner is a young man from The City (which, around here, means Manhattan) who had just received the keys to the house from the broker and was taking his first look around as The Guy Who Owns The Perfect North Shore House. And he let me take pictures.

Readers, this is what the Perfect North Shore House looks like:

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View of the Long Island Sound from the second-floor balcony-living room. That corner window is two-stories tall:

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The other end of the balcony-living room looks like this:

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Those floor boards, set on the angle: is that too much or what?  And you can see the staircases over there next to the fireplace, six steps going up to a suite of bedrooms with connecting baths, and another set going down, to a master bedroom with a full-size dressing room — all kinds of shelves and drawers built-in so that you hardly need furniture to mess up the composition of the rooms. Sigh.

This balcony-living room is, as you see, “sunken” all around — the kitchen is six steps up:

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Oh, I could write odes to those 1959 shades of blue, the aqua tones of my youth.

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(See those cupboards above the low counter?  THAT’S THE REFRIGERATOR!! )  My friends, this is what the future used to look like, circa 1959,  a split-level  built-in space-age composition of wood panelling set off with gem-like shades of astro-blue.

On an Impala, this color was called “Acapulco Blue” (from back when Acapulco was a jet-setter’s playground, not a run-down shopping mall for cruise ships):

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Those aqua-colored tiles on the backsplash:

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This, my friends, the future was an exciting place, circa 1959:

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This is the steel-chrome -wrapped kitchen “control panel” next to the electric range, which you can’t see because the light coming in from the deck with the 180-degree view of the Long Island Sound is shining way too brightly, as bright as the 1960s.

I miss all that, all that mid-century optimism about the way the future used to be, and I love the way it’s all still there in this Perfect North Shore House.

I want to tell you all that I did not spend the rest of the day in an agony of house-envy. I want to tell you that, but it wouldn’t be true.

So we thanked the new owner of my dream house and hinted that we could definitely be in the neighborhood for a house-warming party and we continued on to Target Rock.

Nature is a good antidote for any house-envy what ails you.

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So they say. “They” being the people who don’t let you bring in the real medicine.

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Seriously. I get it: no cocktails in the woods.

And any way, when I go nature walking, I carry my martinis in a thermos, like any other civilized person.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, The Target Rock:

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Legend has it that British ships anchored here during the Revolutionary War used this rock as a target for  “gunnery practice”, but that doesn’t explain why the bullet holes are on the side facing the shore.

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We also caught sight of the rare and elusive legendary Forest Cat of the Woods of the North Shore. . .

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. . .who ignored us from the edge of the parking lot at the entrance to the Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge.

And that reminded me that I had 14 cats at home that I hadn’t seen for hours and that reminded me that Home Is Where The Cats Is.

So I said to Top Cat, “Home, James”, which is his real name thank goodness, and we headed down the road to our own Perfect North Shore House.

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 coyote

My first-ever show of my art work will be held in that little village on the Long Island Sound — Pelham, New York — next month, so I’ve been going through all the original illustrations from my book lately.  It’s the first time I’ve taken a real good look at When Wanderers Cease to Roam, page by page, since I shuffled the finished manuscript off to my publishers two years ago.

I’m looking for pictures that I can pull out of context, or re-c0mbine in interesting ways, to put on display.  All the paintings in the book are reproduced in their actual size,  in the same dimension that I painted them, so even if I find a picture that (I think) can stand alone, it’s a small bitty “canvas”.  This should be interesting: an exhibit of pictures you have to squint at.

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For those of you reading along at home, these two pages are from October, page 162 (and page 163 .  None of these images, I think, can stand alone, so they won’t be in the show, but I wanted to talk about them today because it’s my last post of October and these pages are the heart of my October chapter.

If I had to do it over, I’d leave out the “sideburns” in my list of Coyote things. I wrote that list back when I had a huge crush on an English musician called Paul Weller, and it was his sideburns I was thinking of:

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I could have used an editor who actually took the time to read my book…but that’s a whole other story.

And I could have used a little self-control that night when I jumped on stage at a Paul Weller concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London during his “Town Called Malice” encore, but that’s a whole other story, too.

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Actual Manhattan cocktail in actual Chinese restaurant on Long Island. I ordered a Manhattan because I thought it would be funny. You know, drinking a MANHATTAN on LONG ISLAND. Ha ha.

This might become my new thing.  I could become  “That lady who sits in the Chinese restaurant off Exit 37 on the Long Island Expressway on Friday night drinking Manhattans”.  Of course, I’d rather be  “That lady who writes those books that all of America loves”  but the ways things are going I’ll probably need a Plan B and sitting in the Chinese restaurant off Exit 37 knocking back Manhattans on Friday nights looks like as good an alternative as any.

So last Friday night I went to the Chinese restaurant off Exit 37 (from now on called “The Scene”)

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The “scene” at night.

I noticed that there was a guy sitting at one of the three tables in the bar of this Chicese restaurant, a paunchy middle aged guy, with two drinks on the table in front of him. Looked like he was waiting for someone. And moments later, when she arrived, she looked like the kind of girl who meets a guy for drinks on a Friday night at a Chinese restaurant at an exit of the L.I.E. She was wearing a tired-looking leather jacket, had fluffy layered hair, and was carrying a large, baggy, leather purse that had lots of  shiny metal bits decorating it. Not young, but not old. Looked like she’d come from work, looked like she worked in a used car dealership. I’m just guessing.

She picked up her drink and sipped it through the red straw that was tilted against the side of her glass. I always wonder about women who drink cocktails through a straw. Are they trying to be refined? Or what? The guy picked up his drink and took a small sip and set it down and leaned back in his seat, his arm resting on the back of his chair. He seemed interested in what the girl had to say, but he had a half-smile on his face. The venetian blinds behind him were letting in an interestingly fractured view of the night, slick with rain and shimmering with the line of headlights from the cars passing by. That old Don Henly song was playing in the background, “The Boys of Summer”.

I watched them drink and chat to each other, wondering if this was a date, or were they already half-way through their affair, or are they just friends; what were the circumstances, the long series of cause and effect, coincidence and misunderstandings, the history of failure and second chances that fill the life of any of us who end up in the bar of a Chinese restaurant at Exit 37 on the Long Island Expressway on a cold and rainy Friday night.

And then I heard her say, “That’ll keep him out of jail until December.”

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The “scene” by day.

Oh, great, I sighed to myself. That’s what’s going to make this moment one of those memories that I’ll never be able to get rid of. Like my mind isn’t already cluttered with too many superficial and haphazard remembrances, a guy, wearing a cloak, who I passed on the street in Dublin in 1985; some girl I saw in a paisley halter top at a Santana concert the day that Richard Nixon resigned, etc.

This means that I will not have any room for stuff I really should remember, like what the dentist said about that molar I’m worried about, or where my husband told me he hid the Krugerrands.

I’ve been humming “The Boys of Summer” now, for days.

 

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This is the most boring house in America. I live on Long Island, so I should know from boring suburban tract housing.

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I walk past this house many days, on my mosey to the library where I put books on tape for The Blind, the blood donation center where I give my O+, the children’s hospital where I read stories to the little ones, and the homeless shelter where I spoon out lunch to those less fortunate than I.

OK. The truth is, it’s on the way to the liquor store.

Still. I see this house and I wonder, Who could live in such a non-descript, basic linear house? Who?

Then I saw the them. The family who lives here. Now I know.

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So it’s Friday, and what that means.

Happy Hour at Exit 37 on the Long Island Expressway.

Full report on Monday.

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