Wednesday, August 31, 2005



Reading and watching the news about the hurricane in the south, I don't know what to think. I remember a severe hurricane that hit the eastern half of Pennsylvania, a rare occurrence, when I was eight or nine. Hurricane Doria uprooted several huge trees around my house--luckily, none of them hit the roof--and destroyed some homes. I had a great-aunt who lost her home. I still remember the horrible sound of the brutal wind as it screamed outside. So magnify the violence of that by one thousand, and that must have been what it was like in New Orleans. And the aftermath...I can't imagine what it must be like to lose everything, and not to know if your family and friends are alive or hurt. It's funny. I teach a history of jazz class, and I discuss New Orleans in detail, because it is the birthplace and spiritual home of jazz. And now New Orleans, one of the most unique, beautiful of old cities, is destroyed. I was there once, about fifteen years ago, in November. I remember it felt like a different country. I remember how friendly people were, and the slow pace. I remember how the sun sat low in the sky, radiating intense heat even at that time of year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


tuna, mabel and patsy

I have surrendered my sofa to the menagerie. You will notice Pomona is not there. She does not like to share the sofa with the others.


patsy's belly

old and young

Tuna has tremendous patience with Patsy. She is a hellion, and he lets her chew on his tail, pounce on him, and run in circles around him, and only rarely does he get pissed. When he does, he just hisses at her and she leaves him alone.

tuna and patsy

summer leaves

sepia grass

Summer is leaving. Or we are leaving summer. I have a lot to do before I start teaching. When I have a lot to do I can get overwhelmed. I am trying to avoid that. So I make lists. And then, systematically, I try to attend to each item so that I can cross it off. But if I look at the list in its entirety, I might freak.

Monday, August 29, 2005


I went to swim for the first time in almost two weeks. When I got to the gym I realized that I had forgotten all of my stuff. Damn. There was nothing to do but turn around and go back home.

I had gotten my stuff together in a bag and placed it on the chest next to the door. But I picked up my other bag and never put the gym bag inside.

I am always so distracted. I really do have ADD. It's true.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

haunts me

silver tree

I can't stop thinking about Vermont. I can't stop thinking about living there, about leaving New York, about quiet and peace and trees. More and more these are the things that make me most content and calm my tattered mind. I have not gotten on the subway or gone to Manhattan since I returned. I am truly a country person, I have realized. Odd that I have lived in the city so long. Now I have to figure out how to survive in the country (work-wise). I am going to seriously consider making it my goal to make the move in the next few years. It is good to have a goal, and this is one that I could manage, I think.


As anyone who has owned a car in NYC understands, street parking is quite difficult. This is particularly true in Brooklyn Heights, as most of the streets are very old and narrow, and one can only park on one side. In other parts of Brooklyn parking is available on both sides of the street, and it makes a huge difference. I just realized that, with my car in the shop, I am missing the last days of (relatively) easy street parking; lots of people are away, and there are far more parking opportunities. By the time I get my car back people will have returned from their summer sojourns, and the battles for parking will heat up. I wish that I could afford to keep the car in a garage, but alas, no.

On the other hand, as long as it is at the shop I don't have to worry about moving it on those alternate-side parking days. For those of you who are not familiar, it is too complex to explain. Just be glad you live in a place where parking is not so impossible. Then again, I could be carless and the problem would disappear. But I think the car represents a certain kind of powerful freedom; I could drive away at any time and no one can stop me. It is also a holdover from my previous life, growing up in Pennsylvania, where a car was absolutely necessary if you wanted to have a life.



The wooden beam hung between these two ancient apple trees held a hammock. During my stay in Vermont I liked to lie on it and look up at the sky. I didn't like when the hammock swayed too much; it made me feel dizzy. But I wish that I were lying in that hammock now.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Patsy, my little angel-devil.

funny face

Y showed me this website "," from Japan. People post two pictures of themselves. The first is a normal face pic. The second is a "funny face" pic. I am copying some of them here because I can't figure out how to catch the link.


Zookeeper me will take Mabel and Tuna to the vet this morning. Tuna will have his sutures removed. He has healed quite well and seems to feel much more energetic now that the growth on his neck is gone. Who wouldn't? And Mabel will have her fashionable belly wrap removed. She feels much better too and is almost acting like herself, although she is less inclined to run and jump. I wouldn't be running and jumping either with a big incision like that. I get preferential treatment at the vet's these days. I am keeping them very busy. The veterinarian and the mechanic: the odometer on my beloved volvo broke in Vermont.

my ride

Friday, August 26, 2005

me sitting on floor

me sitting on floor
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
I wonder what I was thinking about...


So far, American consumers have proved surprisingly resilient to the higher energy prices. Despite the rise in gasoline costs, in recent weeks they have still been buying Detroit's gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, in large part because of deep discounts offered by American automakers.
I noticed that in Vermont most people drove cars. Not huge SUVs. Vermont is one of the most liberal and "green" states. So why do all these New Jersey suburbanites need huge SUVs that get fifteen miles to a gallon? It makes me so crazy.

I had a discussion once with the driver of a Chevy Tahoe, one of the larger SUVs. She said she drove it because "she felt safe" in it. I suggested that her safety came at great expense: to the environment, not only because of the wastefulness of a large vehicle for daily use but also because SUVs emit far more pollution than cars; to the drivers of regular cars who might collide with the huge SUV and who would surely be crushed by the behemoth. She was not persuaded by my points. I think people are selfish, and lack altruism. What's good for me is good for me, they think.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.
I woke up so early that now I just want to sleep. Last night as I was falling asleep Patsy was in crazy mode and was playing with my hair. She scratched my nose with her needle-like claws. Now I have a red scratch mark. I tried to sleep again after walking Mabel, but Patsy was playing again and making too much noise. I will have to wait until she passes out from her exertions.

Thursday, August 25, 2005



This princess is fine! The tumor was a lipoma, a benign "fatty tumor" which is probably the result of some very serious surgery she had two years ago, when she swallowed a piece of a chew-toy and almost died before the vets figured out what was wrong. That is partly why I was so nervous this time; I had almost lost my sweet Mabel before, and the thought of anything happening to her was too much for me.


pond and wall
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
This is a spot I found on Tuesday while hiking around Lower Bartonsville. So peaceful...


It was too short. Vermont is so beautiful; every time I am there I am in awe. Years ago, after spending one summer there, I decided that one day I should live there. This time I felt the same way; I feel so much more calm and peaceful in nature than here in the city. I would get more work done. The pace of life is better suited to my temperament. I no longer think that this is some romantic, idealized view, but rather, a realistic one. The house was incredible, so old and beautiful, two-foot-thick stone walls...It took me a while to decompress and relax, but the setting made it fairly easy. At night the stars were so vivid in the sky. And the food was awesome, because you can buy incredible vegetables and fruit, just picked.

I will take Mabel for her surgery shortly. I am nervous, but am faithful that Dr. N will take good care of her. Mabel had a wonderful time in Vermont running, exploring, and digging. She was so sweet and funny playing in the grass.
kitchen wall
stone house
topography (II)
bartonsville bridge

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005


I am working hard to look on the bright side. I am very worried about Mabel, as it is my nature to worry. She is the sweetest dog. I probably won't post anything until I get back next week sometime. Please send good wishes Mabel's way. Thanks.

maintaining calm (trying)

This morning walking Mabel I picked her up because she was being a stubborn girl. I felt a large lump on her lower belly. She has had a fatty tumor in that spot for over a year, checked by the vet and very common in dogs. It was, however, firmer and larger than before, although I check it at least once a week. I freaked, and we ran to the vet a few blocks away. I was panicked. The vet checked her and said she needs to biopsy it, but that fatty tumors can change suddenly and become firmer. After examining it she is almost sure that is what it is. I trust her and I am trying not to worry. We will curtail our trip, and return from Vermont on Wednesday rather than Saturday.

snake plant

Thursday, August 18, 2005


On Saturday I will leave for a week-long vacation in Vermont. I am looking forward to my first vacation in two years, but with some trepidation. My last vacation, two summers ago, was scary because I was so horrifically depressed that my stay in an isolated mountain town in Pennsylvania was like torture; I could not enjoy the quiet or solitude. I could not sleep. I thought I was losing my mind and all I could do was listen to the Japanese pop singer Hikaru Utada sing this song called "Distance" and cry. This picture that I took while I was there says it all. I was quaking every waking minute. So I fervently hope that this trip will be much much better.


be thankful...

I just read this article. It makes me very thankful that because my neighborhood is a "landmark district" I will never lose my unobstructed views. Imagine living in a bright, sunfilled apartment, only to have a big building go up and take that away. Ugh. Here is the view from my bedroom, taken in a wild raging snowstorm last winter. On most days you can see the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge and, once upon a time, the twin towers of the World Trade Center.



It occurs to me lately that finally my mood is stable enough to allow me to function reasonably well. The irritations and frustrations and worries of the last few weeks--Tuna, and to a lesser extent, my car--have not derailed me the way they might have a few months ago. I am feeling overwhelmed, though, the last four days or so. The stress of Tuna's surgery, and all the things I must do to prepare for my week away, are chipping away at my resolve. This morning I had that feeling of panic and despair, a bleak outlook, that makes going through my daily obligations tough. I hope it is just a minor bump, not the start of a crash.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

thinking alike


My job these days is to think like a seven-week-old kitten. Then I know what to hide, what to move, what to place out of harm's way. Patsy is figuring out how to jump everywhere and she is quite brave and curious.

It is not easy to think like a kitten but I enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I was talking to B this morning and I told him that I had officially crossed the line from simply being a guy with a lot of pets to being a crazy animal person. Three cats and a dog in a one-bedroom apartment...what do you think?

But I am just upholding a family tradition. During our peak, in my childhood, we had three cats, two dogs, two horses, a guinea pig, a gerbil, fish, and four snakes including two boa constrictors (the snakes were my brother's domain, although for a while I kept a particularly vicious garter snake named Slickster).

Patsy is adorable.

on the chair

little sleep

1. Wake up at 2 am to check on Tuna. He seems fine.
2. Go back to sleep, have nightmare of horrific violence. Wake up in a cold sweat.
3. Go back to sleep, wake up at 4:30 with allergy attack. Can't breathe and start sneezing.
4. Take zyrtec and try to sleep.
5. Give up on sleep, get up, sit in living room and read Sunday TIMES with Pomona.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Tuna's surgery went well!! He is home, he ate, and now he is sleeping. He doesn't seem bothered by Patsy, nor she by him.


Y wrote from work: "...she (Patsy) is a gift from the tuna cuz he want you to be happy and not worry about him." I think he's right.

Patsy and Me


As I dropped off Tuna, Dr. N. showed me a bunch of kittens she has who need homes. I remarked that one, a little grey female, was particularly adorable. She told me that I was taking her home. She picked up Patsy (as I have named her) and put her in my cat carrier. Y. and I took Patsy home. Mabel is delighted. Pomona does not seem to care. Patsy is very curious and very tiny. She has big green eyes. I love grey cats. She is very cute and has a loud voice. I am a sucker, but as Dr. N said, it is good for my elderly cats to have a young one around. And it is excellent for Mabel, who will have a playmate. I will post pictures of Patsy soon...

pink nose

In a little over an hour I will drop off my Tuna for his surgery. He is very upset because he has no breakfast. He is lying in the kitchen with a pissed look on his face. I am trying not to worry, but I am quite worried. He is perhaps the sweetest cat I have ever had, and I have had a number of cats. I have loved all my cats and been amazed at their distinctly vivid personalities. But never have I had a cat who was so gentle, a "gentle giant" as Dr. Norton, his vet, calls him. Because he is huge, 25 pounds at his peak, although he is shrinking some in his old age. So please, anyone who reads this, wish him the best luck today.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Pomona is obsessed with drinking out of my water glass. I usually have one on my bedside table. Even if I move it to some place that is more out of the way, she will try her best to get to it and have a drink. Today I gave in and put it on the bed. Last evening she drank some raspberry seltzer.

two things


Two things are weighing heavily on my mind today. First, and heaviest, is my Tuna's surgery tomorrow. I will be quite worried but am very hopeful that he will come through it fine. I will think positive thoughts. He is a brave and stoic cat.

Second is the disaster with my car yesterday. I am fed up. This is the burden of trying not to participate in our throw-away society. My sister said "your car is twelve years old. These things happen." She is right. But most people would not keep a twelve-year-old car; they would trade in for a newer one. I am determined not to do that. My car is in excellent shape mechanically and this little problem is easy to fix. I am just agitated when things go wrong, usually agitated out of proportion to the size of the problem.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Y. is trained as an architect, and worked for a time for an architect who is also a feng-shui master. According to feng-shui principles, if you are having bad luck you must clean and de-clutter your home. So since we finished dealing with the car and related tasks, we have been cleaning the apartment. He is a far more fastidious cleaner than I. I hope it works. I like the idea, anyway.



Well, I will think of it as a positive thing: if the hood hinge of my car had not broken this afternoon, underground in the hot parking garage of the Atlantic Terminal market, it would have broken on the way to Vermont, or the day before I was due to travel, or while I was there. So I must look at it as a blessing, otherwise I would lose my mind. The hinge enabled the hood to close completely and securely, and it simply snapped. So the hood (or bonnet, as the British say) does not shut and I had to leave the car at the shop (which was closed) with the hood taped shut.

a picture is worth...

Tuna Resting

a picture is worth...


a picture is worth...