Archive for the ‘My life’ Category

Proustian paradise poems

September 17, 2018

In the most recent New York Times Magazine, “On a Line by Proust” by Adam Giannelli. Then, from the “graduation dinner” for the 1990-91 Fellows at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, my “class poem”, “Les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu’on a perdus” (the very line by Proust). The Giannelli is a villanelle of sorts, for a general audience; mine is very free verse, also occasional verse written for a small community.

In chronological order.


Neighborhood flora: the cranesbills

September 14, 2018

In a fancy planter outside a neighborhood business just up Ramona St. from my house: stunning blue cranesbills — the hybrid Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’, here in an image from the web:


And with this, sweet memories of my first time in Palo Alto, 37 years ago, arriving here just after my birthday (9/6), to start a year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences — on the foothills above Stanford, amidst untamed meadows in which a wild cranesbill, rosy-red Geranium dissectum, flourishes once the rainy season gets going.


Attack of the mammoth penguins

September 5, 2018

Every year we rise up and stream through the streets in exultation, mammoth penguins swearing in tongues. Tomorrow is the 78th Waddling of the Totems. And crying: Not dead yet!

Some documents of the day. Some reflections on the 78 cohort. And on living longer than the generation before you.


An explosion of succulents

September 1, 2018

Back on August 8th, as reported in “Succulents on a rampage”, things looked like this:


The blooming plant with the silver rosette is an Echeveria, and if you look closely, you can see that, behind it, the Echeveria hybrid ‘Blue Curls’ has a modest flower shoot. In the three weeks since then, matters have gotten out of hand.


Swiss art supplies in the morning

August 31, 2018

Today’s morning name: Caran d’Ache. A Swiss art supplies company specializing in pencils. With a complex linguistic and social history behind its name. There will be cartoons as well. (No food, sex, music, or plants, but you can’t have everything. On the other hand, there will be clowns and some chemistry / materials science.)

(#1) The box for a 40-color selection of pencils, proudly flying the Swiss flag


Lantana on the trail

August 16, 2018

Another report on the plants out my front door and in my neighborhood. A scene around the corner from my house in Palo Alto, showing a street planting of trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) between the sidewalk and the white picket fence around an urban farmhouse (a survival from an earlier time):

(#1) Northeast corner of Emerson and Homer, across Emerson from the Whole Foods; across Homer from tech and fashion shops; diagonally across from the Greek restaurant Taverna (formerly the Mexican restaurant La Morenita)


Succulents on a rampage

August 8, 2018

It started back in April, when I acquired a small succulent garden (of mostly silver-blue plants) at Trader Joe’s and re-planted its five crowded inhabitants in a more suitable pot. They quickly grew too big for that space, so in May I bought a considerably larger turquoise pot for them to live in (and added a silvery creeping sedum and some ornamental stones). Now it’s early August, and most of the original plants are huge; one is blooming, another has a flower shoot blasting skyward, and two more look like they’re planning on blossoming. It’s all a bit alarming. When their mania for reproduction has run its course, it will be time for a much larger pot. Or something.


Local news: weather and food

July 28, 2018

The local weather has been mostly very pleasant recently, normal temperatures for this time of the year (highs in the 70s), of course no rain (it’s the dry season), and good air (no haze or actual smoke from wildfires). So on Wednesday I undertook to cook something, using ingredients in the house: peppery barley and vegetable soup. (With my wonky hands, I don’t cook much, and certainly don’t try any culinary procedure that takes manual dexterity; just opening cans is a slow and arduous process for me.)

Then…  the intersection of the weather and food preparation.


The ants are my friends?

July 28, 2018

Through friends on Facebook, a 7/30/12 Captain Scratchy cartoon (by Chuck Ingwersen) “The Wiener Dog Is Annoyed”, in which a dachshund and a pug are transfixed in panel 1 by small black dots on the ground between them, from which these sounds are emanating:

🎶Just like me, they long to be … close to you. 🎶

🎶Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. 🎶

🎶We’ve only just begun. 🎶

— upon which, in panel 2, the dachshund growls:


(To get this, you need to know that carpenter ants are a real thing — not a stretch — and you really need to know about Karen and Richard Carpenter and their songs from 1970-71.)



July 24, 2018

I had the muscle biopsy (left quadriceps) on Monday the 9th. On Monday the 16th the surgeon who did the biopsy removed the waterproof bandage from the site, looked at his work and was well pleased, and explained that the wound would heal soon, leaving only a small scar. I allowed that at this point in my life, a small scar was as nothing; I already had 7 visible scars on my body, the last one an impressive disfigurement, a cicatricial landscape over a foot long and over an inch wide at its maximum. So I should care about a small scar on my left thigh?

Meanwhile, I’m all anxious over the results of the biopsy, which still haven’t come in, after 15 days. (Maybe the crucial staff are on vacation; it’s that time of year.) While waiting, I’ve entertained myself by making an inventory of my visible scars and considering taking photos, so that if I were kidnapped, murdered, and dismembered by a deranged maniac — hey, this happens on television all the time — my body parts might be identifiable through their scars. Morbid, but absboring.