21 April 2015
Wakefulness at 4:00 A.M. usually brings me foreboding; it is
indeed the darkest hour. Today, though, it’s a paroxysmal
lung-everting cough. After an hour I still can’t divine the
romance in dying of consumption. Instead I hear thunder and
frenzied wind chimes. Jackbooted mice race over my roof and onto
my neighbor’s: the quick burst of a passing front’s
first fat raindrops. Sometimes a deluge follows. Not tonight.
19 April 2015
So little does it take to mitigate the horrors of IRS Form 1040, a
spider in the mailbox, or repeatedly snagging pinkie toe on errant
elastic while slithering one’s foot into a recalcitrant
sock: Cheryl’s swift soft peck on the temple as I type at
the computer, Bach’s Ascension Oratorio with the
volume at 11, spring’s first dandelion. Anticipating
spring’s first dandelion. Remembering last spring’s
09 April 2015
Redwings have long since broken February’s austere stillness
and men in tights prowl the roads on thin bicycles, but we still
have winter foliage: stands of bleached-out beeches, the
occasional raggedy brown oak leaf, and buds not yet quickening.
Part of spring’s considerable charm is knowing what’s
ahead, but not when or in what order. They’re not here yet,
but they will come—for me, the first peeper makes it real.
04 April 2015
Even discounting the unfounded human propensity to believe things
always turn out for the best, I can’t regret a failed first
marriage that was an essential precursor to life as I now know it.
During yeoman service as a horrible example that marriage
didn’t lack high points: I owe thanks to my first wife for
introducing me to capers, German wine, and for browbeating me into
attending an exhibit of Rembrandt’s prints.
03 April 2015
I’m ransacking the cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator. They
disgorge olive oil. Salt, ginger, peppercorns, paprika. Onions and
sherry. Measuring cup and spoons. Liver, garlic, and eggs. Bowed
cutting board, concavity down so it won’t slip. Knife,
grinder, bowl. Gathering tools and materials and arranging them
optimally center me for making the Seder’s chopped liver:
crucial minutes but never acknowledged in recipes.
27 February 2015
This year my grandson turns eighteen, my granddaughters turn
sixteen, and today I turn sixty-five. At the corner pizzeria a
lunch of kale soup and cabernet; I won’t mention the fried
banana rings. This evening Cheryl and I gorge on
Nebraska—twice now—understated, masterfully
paced, cast, and acted. A quarter century ago I hadn’t the
wit to conceive of gifts like these, let alone of living long
enough to receive them.
26 December 2014
Gram and I, our grandchildren, and their mother lunch on Christmas
leftovers followed by Godiva chocolates. We open one final round
of gifts. Gram and grandson go for a walk. Mom takes one girl to
practice driving in a deserted parking lot. Her twin sister dozes
on the couch while I polish off food scraps and coffee. The boy
dresses for work; I knot his tie. Temporal. Quotidian. Mundane.
Moments that bring me joy.
14 December 2014
I memorize maps, and can freely indulge getting lost only when
I’m not responsible for anyone else. I feel in my bones why
my granddaughters are worrying about getting off the train at the
right stop on their first solo trip to Boston. I badly want to
escort them, but I know it’s purely selfish. They must do it
by themselves; I hope and fear they will. I don’t even trust
myself to go to the station to see them off.
25 November 2014
Warm November rain. Slow drive into Boston with “The
Professor and the Madman” on tape. The doctor’s news
isn’t dire. Handsome addition to my hydrant collection. Aged
uncle is in fine fettle. Dinner with friends, a full evening of
conversation accompanied by a surprising New York cabernet. A
winter moth flurry and my first sight of Orion and the Pleiades in
a dog’s age: no cataracts. Screw “It’s a good
day to die.”