Thursday, August 31, 2006

College Life

August 31, 2006

We've settled Joel in his apartment at Brown, more or less. The apartment is nearer the main campus and his classes than, I believe, any of the so-called on-campus housing he had. Last year's students left a huge amount of furniture that Joel and his friends didn't buy or want in the apartment, to the point that Joel's room didn't get painted or carpet-cleaned, so he's unhappy with what he calls the gross walls and floor, but it's a big room, very airy, two windows living room and kitchen, two other people, one male one female. That's one of the greatest changes in people his age: it's totally normal for men and women to be housemates and friends and nothing more. I think it's terrific, but then I think back to when I was at Barnard and students Linda LeClair and Peter Behr caused a total front-page-of-the-times scandal by sharing an apartment. That, of course, included a sexual relationship, and what's amazing now is living together without a sexual relationship. Much healthier, much better. Simultaneous, of course, with some of Joel's friends becoming fundamentalism in their religion and eschewing sex out of sacred marriage altogether.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday night

August 28, 2006

Joel comes back today from his week-end in the country. We take him to Ellen's tomorrow night, then on to Brown on Wednesday.

We had a visit last night from Charlene (Joel's old babysitter when she was at Seton Hall) and her Tyrone and kids Xavier and Madysen. Charlene is doing better after some leftover problems from an auto accident. She called from West Orange and stopped off after dinner--I was hot and sweaty from running, trying to repair the garden covering and chasing the @#!! deer who are back and broke into the garden. Anyhow, it was fun to see Charlene and her family, Xavier looks to be a talented artist, Madysen loves books, Tyrone talked about writing one of his own about his experiences as security in night clubs. Almost like a Shinnston visit--friends dropping by.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

CSS, Yoda, Black Horsey Books

August 26, 2006

I've put in a little too much time the last few days working on CSS-- not that I'll ever master something like that, but I adore being able to have some control over my areas of the web. Joel figured out something for me that I had been trying to do for a long time, which was be able to make global changes within table cells. But here's the thing I can do now: I can change everything from pinks, as they are now, with my biggest letters in the funny "Andy" font, to lavender with big red Arial font, very, very easily. Joel actually is learning to write the CSS code: I'm doing a mix of Dreamweaver and code, but it is a feeling of great power, like stapling my little Black Horsey books together when I was seven.

Today: wet Saturday morning, feels somehow like Sunday. Andy off in the rain to see if the bike ride went, the chondromalacia in my knee immeasurably and unaccountably better. Always mysterious how this improves and gets worse.

We watched Revenge of the Sith last night on the new t.v., and it looked splendid, especially the volcano planet. But-- t what stupid character names! How self-indulgent George Lucas is! I'm totally convinced that he has gone over to the dark side himself as far as artistry and fresh ideas go. Extremely bad dialogue and a fair amount of bad acting. Beautiful work by Pixar, of course, and excellent action especially in the light saber duels. Also satisfying to get the back story on Darth Vader and little twin infants Leah and Luke, but oh the stupid, stupid dialogue. A real case of the media being all there is– the message, the content as we say today, having all the texture and nutrients of cotton candy.

One interesting throwaway line in Revenge was something about how the fear of loss turns you to the dark side: i.e., that you will do anything to save your beloved– this is the ostensible motivation for Anikin becoming Darth Vader, although of course he is fooling himself and simply wants mucho power, an infantile obsession, trying to hold on to childhood passion and delight when you are an adult (may be Lucas's problem too? His high point was 30 years ago?) . Anything vaguely interesting in the movie, though, was totally heavy-handed.

Why didn’t they put some more intellectual content in that movie? It would have made just as much money, because the people who watch for the flash would have had it still.

And why didn’t they get an actor to play Anikin/D.V. who could act as well as brood hunkily.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Some upcoming events and classes in New York and the blogosphere

  • Bob Heman and others reading at High Chai ( 18 Avenue B in the East Village) part of Mike Graves' re-emerging Phoenix series: Sunday, August 27, 2006 and Sunday September 10, 2006. Readings start at 5:30 and run til about 7:30. You Should expect to buy a drink or something.
  • Roberta Allen has two spots in her fall workshop on West 16th Street, NYC that
    start Wed. Sept. 20th, from 7:30-10:15 PM. Classes meet every 2 weeks for 8 sessions or 4 months. Call 845 679-8239 or leave a message at 212 675-0111.
  • New poem online by Barbara Crooker

Monday, August 21, 2006

Caffe Reggio

Joel and I went into the city today and met Tak and Chiaki at the old Caffe Reggio ("since 1927"), still dark and dingy with impossible-to-see Old Masters on the walls. It also still has the big espresso machine (behind Chiaki!) and had interesting Italian frappes and good little almond cookies. Joel and I headed back to New Jersey and overshot South Orange to meet Andy at the Millburn train station--only the train went directly on to Summit! He picked us up there, and we had dinner in Springfield at Hunan Spring. I remembered that I like their pan fried noodles with chicken and spinach-- the noodles in a crisp bed, chicken, spinach and the long black-red peppers on top. And home to watch one of Joel's many favorite movies,Wet Hot American Summer something of a comedy cult classic, and we giggled a lot, but mostly the fun is just hanging out.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Admiration for Weeds

August 20, 2006

Admiration for Weeds
The deep garden calm:
I squat in red overalls
And mosquito net shirt
Too low to be seen
Soaking up rank rich odor
Wet dirt dying foliage
Assault by sage and lemon balm
Mint tomato leaves cilantro--
Turn slowly to face the enemy
Gather up in both hands
Expansive, earth clinging
Crab grass. I tug
Till I hear the clench and release
Of roots choosing
Wholeness over soil.
Sweat drips on salt hay.
Mild vegetative elation–
I’ve won this one–
Though the plant I pulled
Squats fully alive
On top of the weed heap
Ready to fall
Surreptitiously back
Into the garden or
Suck nurturance
from the compost heap.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

August 18, 2006

This 21st century is something else. Joel called from the great mall in Washington D.C., you know, the one with the Washington Monument at one end, to ask me the name of the guy who sculpted the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial. This isn't as random as it sounds-- we go to his summer estate Chesterwood in the Berkshires from time to time. I couldn't think of his name, so while I'm on the phone I go to Wikipedia, look up the Lincoln Memorial, find Daniel Chester French, find his other famous statue, the Minuteman in Lexington, Mass. Then said good bye to Joel who continued his day.!

August 16, 2006

Well, Joel is here for less than 24 hours, picked him up at the plane last night, he's leaving in a couple of hours by train for D.C. to see Sarah. He and I've been watching the end of The Incredibles on TV, playing with taxi cab (see photo below), meeting with the girls from across the street , Hannah and Maggie. Maggie had Mrs. Khan at Clinton School last year adn watned to talk to Joel about fourth grade at Clinton School. Hannah is the one going into seventh grade who gardens, and I may have found a gardening friend!


Okay, gang, everyone up here in the northeast asks about the cuisine of my home state, and I always used to say either fresh corn and tomatoes (but that's summer food everywhere east of the Mississippi), and sometimes I mention the famously smelly ramps that have their own festival. Although I've never eaten them, I do own a bottle of ramp wine, But the real West Virginia state food, at least in Northern West Virginia where I grew up, has got to be pepperoni rolls, creation of the local Italian-American population, and now there is a website especially for them including where to buy them! Yum!

August 13, 2006

Lazy Sunday-- well, it didn't start out lazy. I spent a long time in the garden which I had wet down ripping up two fisted big clumps of crab grass. This has gotten way out of control this year what with my teaching into the middle of July plus a trip to West Virginia plus the week and a half at th lake, plus cutting grass and all that. Anyhow, I've got more than half the garden under crabgrass control now, and when I close my eyes I see my hands wrestling with it, the red color at the base. Very satisfying, though, when the roots begin to come loose and I hear/feel that creench of the plant choosing to keep roots and top together and thus losing the grip on the dirt. It's a mean opponent but an admirable survivor, propagating by seed and by sideways movement sending out shoots. A winner, like us human folks.

August 10, 2006

Well there's a red alert on, airplanes in London threatened, and Dick Cheney and his gang in Washington are thrilled to have imminent terrorism so they can show Americans what happens when they reject pro-war candidates. I'm not doubting that the terrorism threat is real, by the way, but Cheney's office did imply that the Democrats were giving aid and comfort to the Enemy by voting against Joe Lieberman. Meanwhile, I've gotten the day off to a serious start by taking new photographs of the parakeet. Note Taxi's darker face markings-- the sign of puberty or whatever you call it in birds. Yes, he's looking more and more like a pretty boy rather than a girl, if only because he isn't very aggressive the way female budgies are. The cere is getting bluer too.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

For some reason, I have trouble remembering the exact dates that the U.S. dropped the atom bombs (still the only times they've been used against civilian populations) on Japan. Hiroshima anniversary was Sunday August 6, and tomorrow, August 9 is the Nagasaki anniversary. I was skimming over the articles in Wikipedia to get the dates and discovered that there is, as always, controversy. Someone has been insistently editing the articles to indicate that the bombings were not necessary, and someone else changing it back. So they've got a "semi-protected" status on the articles to stop the back and forth. The articles say that Americn public opinion is that the bombs kept more people from dying; Japanese public opinion is that they were not necessary to end the war. My opinion today is that we are a grim species killing each other in large numbers then and in large numbers now.

Vacation Posts

August 5, 2006

Well, Joel called today to say he and Sarah and five of his roommates are driving to Sonoma for wine tasting, general festivities. He only took one pill, sounded totally cheerful, glad to have her there of course. It's after eleven p.m. and I am wearing a sweatshirt! Is that amazing or what after all this superhot weather?

I'm planning to go home maybe early Monday. We have two cars and thus can leave separately.

August 4, 2006

It has been some vacation week for the Willis-Weinberger-Geller crew. It started with Andy's brother's two week old cute red car getting rear ended on the Mass Pike on the way to meet us at the lake. This required hours of phone conversation with insurance companies, estimate companies, and repair people. Later, David left his wallet in a movie theater.

But none of that compares to the phone call from Joel on Tuesday morning to say he had a terrible stomach ache, thought he’d had food poisoning. I was panicked by the fact he was across the continent and Andy was on his longest bike ride ever, heading for Pittsfield. I told Joel to get a cab and go to the emergency room. I’m not sure why I told him that. Maybe just blind luck, maybe because the pain woke him and got worse overnight. His apartment is near Stanford University, so he went to that emergency room.

Meanwhile, I drove to Pittsfield to pick up Andy and the bike at the Ben and Jerry's, and it was the hottest day so far, really miserable. We drove on as planned to the Clark Museum in Williamstown, calling Joel's cell phone often and getting his machine over and over. Andy said not to worry, it was a stomach virus, emergency rooms take forever, you aren't allowed to use cell phones while you're there, etc.etc.

Meanwhile I got more and more worried, and finally, as we continued our plan, which was to meet David, Ann, and Nathan for dinner, I got hold of Joel's girl friend Sarah, and she said she too had spoken to Joel but not since he got to the emergency room (by cab). She was reassuring too, like Andy.

I finally stopped waiting to hear from him and obtained the Stanford Hospital emergency room number through information and got through to a place where they had heard of Joel who was, they said, "talking to a doctor.” I was ecstatic that he was alive, and finally got him after a few more calls and he said, "Didn't you get my message at the cottage?" (No, because David and Ann and Nathan had left too soon to meet us for dinner and movies).

They were, Joel said, admitting him for an appendectomy, and he couldn’t talk long, standing hurt too much.

This conversation took place in the food court at the Pittsfield mall while the others were in various movies still believing that Joel had simply been made to wait for six hours in the emergency room to be sent home for a stomach virus.

From then on it was frequent calls, by cell phone as long as we had service, then later from the house phone at the lake, Joel now on a floor in a room where you could talk to him (all alone! three thousand miles from family and friends except for his roommates, one of whom came to the hospital to see him). He wanted Andy, who was reassuring. More hours, he waits in the room. We talk to nurses, ask for doctors. Ffinally at midnight (nine in California) I got a nurse who said he'd been taken to surgery, the doctor would call us. The doctor didn't call us, we all waited one by one went to bed, including me, but I couldn't sleep, and at three thirty a.m., in bed but still awake, hot and sticky and tossing and turning, I called the floor again and got the same nurse who said they'd just brought him up from surgery, and I could talk to him! Which was amazing in itself, and of course the doctors had STILL NOT called. It turned out I couldn't call his room directly, and the nurse couldn't transfer my call in, finally Joel called back, was groggy but alive and said he felt better than he had in two days, well that was because he was still anaesthesized, I guess, or at least his belly was. It was done laparoscopically, and the doctor finally called, a resident, not the surgeon, who said he was fine, it would all be fine.

By this time all I wanted to do was sleep. They released him only twelve hours later! and yesterday that's Thursday he woke up miserable and called us and Andy said he should call the surgeon (who he had never met in a waking state). He never got the surgeon, but did get one of the residents he had met who basically told him "Duh we cut you open 36 hours ago what did you expect?"

By the end of the day, taking his narcotics, he was making dinner for his housemates (it was his turn, he'd already bought the ingredients), hot wings, potato salad, and mojitos! And today Friday he says he's still not better, he still hurts, but sounds much, much better and is on the phone with everyone, waiting for Sarah's visit, planned long afo, and I'm so glad she's going to be there. Grateful, grateful. On all counts.

July 30, 2006

Gone fishing! Actually, swimming eating rowing and Goldberg Variations at a local concert series on a harpsichord. We're at lake Buel in the Berkshires, with Ellen, Greg, David, Ann, Nathan and Leah yet to come! Internet access is by dail-up via aol, and I've already used up this month's allottment of minutes, so we won't be on here much. Weinberger week is always fun, though, lots of talking and laughing, and we're scheduled to go see Hamlet at Shakespeare and company.