This weekend was a time trip. The job of clearing out the family home has fallen to me, and I'm doing it slowly and painfully. On Sunday morning, I sat down on the floor of my old bedroom, and opened up a desk drawer full of cards and letters. Pretty much every one I'd ever sent to my parents, individually or as a parental unit.
Before I could throw the letters away, I had to skim them. Most of them were jejune and embarrassing, but some of them were interesting to me, even from this perspective.

This is the text of a letter I wrote to my mother on January 25, 1977. I was 23, and living in New York City.

"I went to a meeting last night of the New York Radical Feminists. It was TERRIBLE!! All it was was about 8 very butch-looking INTENSE rhetoric-spouting women... and Kathleen and me. Kathleen accounted for something because her mother is one of the founders of the movement. But I didn't. Anyway, we were immediately suspect because we weren't gay. It was very upsetting. I thought the movement was based on a belief in alternatives and choice and educating the masses. They seemed to want a separatist Woman-state. Personhood is no good. They want women-ness without maleness. I don't understand. They also seemed to me to not realize that for younger women, we've already reaped certain benefits from their early struggles and we want to move on from here. Like they want to re-write the manifesto. But that's all words and unneccesary. The thing to do is to LIVE it, not write it. I was the only one in a skirt. O.K. They won me the right to wear construction boots. It's also my option to wear a skirt and not see it as a symbol of "my oppression". Am I making myself clear? I was very upset by last night. It seemed to me to have broken down and lost touch with what it had done and was trying to do. Yuck. Maybe I'm just a radical human, but that's what I thought the lib movement was about. The right to be human... I think it's turned into a lesbian movement. Does this mean there has to be still another lib movement for straight people? Shoot. I'm REALLY depressed by their TRULY sexist attitudes. One woman flat out said "I can't trust women who can have relationships with men. How can you befriend your oppressor?"

I've never BEEN oppressed. How can I view all men as my mortal enemy... MAYBE "the system", MAYBE "big business". Mostly, though, to me, my enemy is ignorance and prejudice. And I think I found THEM to be prejudiced. Is this some kind of rude awakening? I really BELIEVED in the women's movement, but how can I believe and identify with this reality..?

Ah, never mind..."

I remember how upset I was. The meeting was in Gloria Steinem's apartment in the West Village. It was lovely, and book-filled, with oriental carpets and windows over the street, and I watched the snow fall outside. Gloria wasn't there. I remember that I yelled at the women before I stalked out. I told them how, as a young girl in a tiny Southern town, reading about the movement in Time Magazine had opened my eyes to possibilities. That they had put me on the path that led me to New York, and to that very meeting, and how could they now reject me out of hand just because I slept with men? What had they won, what had they preached, if not equality? And now they were preaching separatism, and that was something very different.

Plus ça change, plus ça meme chose.
Miz Shoes

It’s Full of Stars

I've spent the last week powerless. Hurricane Wilma (who thinks up these names, anyway?) took out the power for most of Florida, topped my favorite mango tree, decapitated the grafted side of the avocado tree, and almost killed my koi.
The RLA and I were out there with bicycle pumps, trying to keep the koi aereated while our generator was being repaired. The koi are troopers, though, and came through just fine, unlike the awning over them.

For almost a week, I could go out at night and see the Milky Way, even though I live in an urban wasteland. The nights were cool and, except for the rattle and gasp of the generators, quiet. You could, if you were listening, hear the owl in the old tree next door, or the peeping of the tree frogs.

We need to rethink our cities, the way we live, so that you can always see the stars.

I rose with the sun, and went to bed with the sun. I knitted and read by candlelight. I took sponge baths with water that had been heated on the gas stove. The RLA and I were out in the yard all day, sawing up the downed trees with hand tools, because we don't own a chain saw.

I made coffee in a French press, and we kept our milk cool with a block of ice.

Everyone I know has been complaining of the horrors of being without electricity, but you know? I loved it. I loved being aware of the hours of the day by the location of the sun or the moon. I loved being able to walk in the street and talk to my neighbors who are usually in their own hermetically sealed cocoons. We shared ice, water, flashlights, stories, alcohol and the experience.

I thought it was wonderful.

Frankly, the biggest hardship for me was having to watch America's Next Top Model on a hand-held, battery-operated tv with a screen the size of a matchbox.

Oh, there's more, of course. This was the first hurricane of my life where I actually felt fear. Well, what I felt was the roof lift. It is an indescribable sensation, but there was no doubt as to what the change in pressure was. The roof held. There are no leaks. The power is back on. People are started to be assholes to each other again.

Life as we know it, is back to normal.
Miz Shoes

Services for Shut-Ins

It's not exactly that I'm a shut-in. It's more that I'm shutting myself in.

I don't feel fit for human company. I don't want to see anyone, I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't want to be around others.

Depression? Yeah. I suppose. Stress? Oh, definitely.
So what to do tonight and tomorrow? It's the two holiest days of the Jewish calendar. I don't have tickets for services, although Star has offered me one for tonight.

Tonight is Kol Nidre. I love this service. I can lose myself in the ancient melody. Which is precisely the point. But I just don't feel up to the rest of the ritual: the saving of seats, the gossiping about others, the false faces and air kisses. I don't want to get dressed up. I don't want to be with others.

I haven't been able to go to temple since my father died. Last year, there was a hurricane and it pre-empted services. This year the only thing pre-empting me is my own ennui and depression.

I did manage to get a rabbi to visit my mom on Sunday, and he read a blessing over her for the coming year. I cried and cried and cried.

No, I think I'll make a nice pre-fast dinner for the RLA and myself, listen to a lovely recording of Kol Nidre variations and stew in my own misery for another evening.

Off to run errands.
Miz Shoes

I Don’t Want To Be Here

And by here, I mean on Earth in the 21st century. I need new friends, because my old ones are fighting for the honor of shredding my last nerve and exploiting my last drop of human kindness and tolerance.
The old adage "you're only as old as you feel" seems to friend number one a challenge to see if, before he reaches the age of 60, he can make his heart and head feel older than Methuselah. He is drinking himself to death, and let me tell you, it isn't as romantic an image as he would like to believe.

When we were younger, it was an interesting conceit on his part to be a dissolute blade of the Belle Epoque. Now it is merely tiresome. Cognac doesn't make for as entertaining a drunk as absinthe may have done, and neither drunk is entertaining on this side of the glass.

Our long-standing Thursday night dates have become an ordeal that neither the RLA nor I anticipate with anything other than loathing and pity. Interventions have not worked. How do we ditch someone we used to love, and who, despite his pitiable state, still, in his own pathetic fashion, loves us?

Friend number two. Ah, friend number two. She is a workaholic in denial of her addiction. If, in fact, it isn't addiction, then it is a sorry example of the Peter Principle, and she is overworking in order to compensate for the fact that she can't do her work in a 40 hour week. She has no life, except work and her children. Unfortunately, two children have flown the nest, and the last one is a fledgling, eager to get her feathers and go.

When that happens, what will happen to my friend? There will be nothing to distract her from her lack of a personal life except more work, and, I am afraid, that old demon gin, to which she shows a particular fondness.

Friend number three has a place in the dictionary, right next to the words enabler and co-dependent. I can't listen to her anymore, either. Wrong choices about almost everything to do with her kids lead to more wrong choices and tragic consequences.

As I tell so many others, you can't fix anyone except yourself. My fix is coming, and I am sorry to see it on the horizon. But I can't take any more of any of my friends self-destructive behaviors when I have my own to tend to.

Still, even in the driest desert, some flowers bloom, and last night I went to a lovely flowering: young April was ordained a priest in the Episcopal church, and the RLA and I were priveleged to be at the ceremony.

I love ceremony and rite, and this was particularly lovely. Love being the operative word. She is a woman full of love, and the church was full of people who love her. I promised TL (the prettiest man in the room, always, but particularly last night) that I would blog about it (and about him) so here it is.

The sermon given likened April to McGiver, a charismatic fellow of infinite ability to conjure salvation from a paper clip and a need. I ask you, when was the last time you heard McGiver's name mentioned in church? And why not? The world needs more McGivers, and that was the gist of the sermon: that our friend is a McGiver, able to pull the rabbit of hope from the world's top hat of despair.

She is, and in the mood I've been in, it was a reminder I needed to hear.
Miz Shoes

Mother of Mine

This is for my mother, who doesn't remember me. I was the light of her life, and one of the last stories she told (over and over as Alzheimer's robbed her of herself) was that I was the living doll she always dreamed of having. She would repeat the story of the day I walked to the end of the dock behind the house. I was still in diapers, there was no railing on the dock, and she stood at the foot of the dock and called me back, heart in her mouth, afraid that I would fall and be lost to her forever.
I didn't fall, but I am lost to her forever anyway.

Because she can't share this day with me, or these memories, I'll share them with you.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting in her lap, under the arbor by the kitchen door, at that same tin-roofed Cracker house on the St. Lucie River. She is singing to me. She is singing "You Are My Sunshine."

It is a Tuesday night, and the ladies are at the house for the weekly mah-jong game. The card table is set up in the living room, near my bedroom door, and I helped put out the candy dishes earlier. Now I am going to sleep, lulled by the clack of tiles, and the voices of the women as they play: "One crack. Three bam. Six dot. I'll take that. Do you know who I saw yesterday? Who? Four dot..."

I am so small that I am standing on a chair to see into the pan as she teaches me how to scramble an egg. She tells me to sprinkle a drop of water in the pan to see if it's hot enough. The drop should bounce. I tell her the pan is ready. It's only after the egg is cooking that she asks where I got the water, since I never got off the chair. I tell her that I spit in the pan. She doesn't miss a beat, just says "Those eggs are for your father."

She taught me about art, and always took a certain pleasure in reminding me that she went to Ringling Art School, whereas I didn't get accepted into Rhode Island School of Design. She taught me to sew, and to cook, how to play mah-jong, how to knit. She taught me a million lessons and there isn't a single one that she remembers, because she doesn't remember that she ever had a daughter.

I remember for her. Happy Mother's Day, Florence.
Miz Shoes

Another Year, Another Seder

I don't want to be morbid, I don't want to dwell, but what has always been my favorite Jewish holiday is starting to depress me. The RLA has, since we've been a couple, hated Passover, because his mother died right after the seder.
My father first realized that he had a problem when he was at my house for Passover, and felt his enlarged pancreas as he lay in bed. And this year, because Passover comes so late, it coincides with the anniversary of his death.

Shortly after he died, I asked one of my friends if I had always talked about him so much, or if this was something new, brought on by his passing.

She assured me that, no, I had always talked about my father, I only heard myself do it now.

Last year was the first time my dad skipped a seder. He just couldn't go. This year is the first time that I haven't held one for my family of friends. The bank account can't support it, the RLA isn't feeling well enough to endure it, and, quite honestly, I just can't drag myself into the kitchen for the extended frenzy of cooking that it usually entails.

We'll be going to R&MJ's, where the doors will be flung open for their extended family and family of friends, as well as Elijah. RJ is graciously allowing me to bring two dishes: Sephardic eggs and a Persian Haroset. Both recipes can be found in the ever-reliable Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cooking.

On another note, I have spent the day fighting with my Bernina and my laptop, trying to make them communicate with one another. It entailed a trip to the store to buy a usb to serial cable converter, any number of reboots, several downloads from the Bernina site and finally, just before ANTM, my computer announced that, although it could see the Bernina, since the embroidery module was not attached, the design could not/would not be passed to the machine.

I cried Uncle, and went off to watch the dreary Tatiana get sent home. Have I mentioned that I'm starting to really like Michael/Michelle?
Miz Shoes

Many Things Remind Me of Many Things

Last night I made a baby portobello mushroom and brocolli rabe risotto. It was magnificent, thank you very much, but that isn't the point. It was merely the starting point for a poignant train of thought.
I was prepping and preparing my "meez" and realized that my knife was dull. One of my crazy neighbors had just sharpened it, too, and so that led me to think of how my father could sharpen a knife so that it held a razor edge. Many scars on my fingers are proof of that.

The thought of my father and his knives led me quickly to a scene in the family kitchen, shortly before his final decline. I had gone up to visit and he made kippers for me and my brother on a Sunday morning. He could barely stand, but he insisted on doing this for us.

Fried kippers were a Sunday morning treat for most of my growing up time. It was Daddy's signature dish. Fried, greasy, fish-stinky and with lots of chopped onions, sauteed in butter until they were carmelized (if not slightly burnt) and eaten hot with garlic toast... for breakfast. My mother hated the smell. My cousins were appalled by them. The RLA nearly passed out the first time he saw/smelled kippers. In fact, in all the years of trying to share this delicacy with friends and family, the only person who ever warmed up to kippers was Star, and she's Swedish.

I finally managed to shake off the funk, and started sauteeing the onions and the baby portobellos. I added the arborio rice and started to think about my mother's cooking as I waited for the rice to become transparent.

My mother was a fine cook and an even better baker, but she was also a homemaker in the 50s and 60s. Even though she owned Julia Child's cookbooks, she was much more at ease with The Joy of Cooking. My mother never made a risotto.

Which thought then led me to her current state, and how the nurses at the home all think I look just like her. An assessment which is only right and fair. And that takes me back to a conversation with my mother maybe thirty years ago, when she told me that, not only did she believe in reincarnation, but she believed that I was her mother, who had died when my mother was only six months old.

That has always stuck with me, that I am my mother's mother. Now that she has Alzheimer's, she has regressed to a point where she thinks she's still in school. She talks about her father's store. And I am her caregiver, so in some sense, I am, in fact, her mother. And so why shouldn't I look just like her, or her me, since this whole thing is becoming a quantum singularity.

Now the rice is ready, and I must shake off all the ghosts, and continue my meal. But my mind? it is a weapon of mass distraction, and many things remind me of many things.
Miz Shoes

The Prodigal Returns

I'm back in Miami, back in my house, back in my neighborhood. And you know what? I don't care. I had such a wonderful time in my childhood home, that I want to go back there and live.

Which is pretty damned funny, actually, since for the past thirty odd years I've been saying that my hometown was a great place to be from, but you wouldn't want to live there.

Except, last week, I'm walking JoJo down a dark street at night, and total strangers were passing in the other direction and talking to me as they passed. Even more amazing than that, the things they said were in English, and did NOT include the words "money" "life" "hand over".

I could see the stars at night, and smell the moist and salt in the air. It was quiet. Quiet and dark. Dark and quiet. And there were small animals, like rabbits and squirrels and racoons wandering around in the dark. I saw them, and not just their remains in flat, fuzzy lumps in the road.

I saw people that I haven't spoken to in more than 20 years. And I even enjoyed it.

Nope. My home town was looking pretty damned good to me this time.

People were concerned for me, being in the house alone. Why? I asked them. There was nothing in there but love, and how could that be scary in the dark?

Then I got back here, and had to delete more than 100 spam hits for cialis, viagra, on-line poker and betting. People, people, people... Do I ever talk about sex? Or poker? Do I seem like the kind of writer who would want to play poker on-line? Huh? Do I? No. Nor do I have any need, desire, or even vague interest in sexual enhancement drugs. Do me a favor and keep your fucking spam bots off my site.

Like that will do any good.
Miz Shoes

You Have To Go Home Again

I'm going off for a week of home wrecking. Maybe not so much wrecking as dismantling. For the third time in about ten years, I get to take apart and pack up a family home. Yippee, she says with as much sarcasm and distaste as she can manage.
This exercise is freighted with memories and sadness, of course, because this time it is my childhood home I'm putting into boxes and sending away to Goodwill.

Books. My mother was a reader, and there is a huge library of books ranging from cookbooks to mysteries to histories to coffee table picture books and on to art tomes and reference books. There is a pile of Judaica and next to it my childhood books and college texts.

Furniture. Photos. Clothing. It's all there and it's all going somewhere else.

This is week one, and it's the week that will tell me how long this project will take.

I'm taking JoJo, so that I won't have to be in the house alone, but the truth is, I'll enjoy the solitude for a while. Maybe I'll even be able to do a little beach combing while I'm gone.

Talk amongst yourselves.
Miz Shoes

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I guess that it isn't this way anymore, what with telecommunications deregulation, and unlimited long distance on any number of carriers, but in my youth, and, I suspect, for many, many others, Sunday mornings were when you made/received long-distance phone calls.
Sunday mornings were when you talked to distant family members. My parents called me on Sunday mornings (and morning is a very relative term) all four years I was in college. When I moved to New York City, to New Mexico, to anywhere other than their home, Sunday mornings were for family phone calls.

When I settled in Miami, and I was my own person, I called them on Sunday mornings.

This is the hardest part of being a fatherless child, this emptiness when there is no phone call on Sunday morning. My mother can't use the phone anymore; she lost that ability a couple of years ago. There was a certain black humor to it at first, hearing my father tell her that of course she couldn't hear me since she was trying to talk into the remote control.

That passed fairly soon. Now she lives down the street, and doesn't know me at all. She is losing her verbal skills at an alarming rate. Would it be any less poignant had she not been a 40-year volunteer at the library, an avid reader, a woman who daily did the crossword puzzles in ink? Now she can't process the words. Sometimes she even is aware that they have left.

But I was thinking about telephone calls. The RLA lost his parents many years before I did. We have few surviving aunts and uncles. How can you call one of them out of the blue, and ask them to speak, so you can have a conversation by proxie with someone who's gone?

I miss my father. It is Superbowl Sunday, and Daddy would have been watching. My nephew would have gotten a call this morning from Daddy, and they would have talked about Dan Marino's entry into the Hall of Fame. They would have trash talked a while about the Patriots. When it was my turn for the Sunday morning call, Daddy and I would have talked about what I was cooking for my party. He would have asked about my friends; which of them would be coming over, and what would Star be bringing.

He and I would have discussed Dan, too. My brother missed out on the sports junkie gene, but he is my mother's child: a man of words. We are all book collectors, fearsome readers and ruthless Scrabble players. That was my mother's legacy to us.

Sunday mornings without telephone calls. This is when I feel the loss most keenly.
Miz Shoes

Crap. In More Ways Than One.

I've collected miniatures since I was one myself. My mother collected art glass, and when I was just a mere prat, she'd take me to the antique stores with her, teaching me what was what and sending me to scout the nooks and crannies.

The first piece I got for my own collection was a hand-blown pill bottle, from an antique shop in Newport. I held it in my hand as we made our way to the counter. The gentleman proprietor asked if I had found something I could not live without, and I showed him the bottle, and the pontil mark which made it so valuable. He gave it to me, starting me on a life of collecting.
Right. Like I wasn't going down that road anyway, what with the family of origin and all.

Thank all the gods and goddesses that that little bottle wasn't on the shelf that collapsed today, sending my tiny china and glass animals to the Cuban tile floor, and from there into a million shards.

They are irreplaceable things, of course: the set of glass cats from Venice that my mother brought back to me one year, but not, again giving thanks, the set I carried around Europe the summer I was eleven. The set of Hagen Renaker bear cubs that I've had since I was very small shattered. I've seen them on e-bay, but not in the dark matte finish that mine were.

A porcelain horse, no more than half an inch tall, with legs no more than a sixteenth of an inch in diameter had no chance. Even the doll-house scaled sewing machine made of metal broke when it hit the tiles.

I couldn't bring myself to photograph the carnage. All the pieces are in an ashtray, waiting for me to sort through and salvage what could possibly be salvaged. The rest will go into the graveyard of broken toys, either in the RLA's miniature Halloween Village, or my mosaic on the koi pond surround.
Miz Shoes

This Isn’t Going To Be What You Think

Today is the day every Jew feels like a stranger in a strange land. I don't care how assimilated they are, how they call it a Channukah Bush, or they've married outside of the faith, and they are accomodating a spouse. This is not our holiday.
But that's OK, too, you know? When I was growing up in that small South Florida town, my family used to drive around, looking at all the Christmas lights. It was charming. The little Mediteranean Revival cottages, the mid-century not so much modern as ranch-styles were all duded up for a holiday.

There was magic in the way the palm trees glowed. It made it feel like a holiday.

In our store we always decorated for Christmas. It was a Christian town. We were in business. Christmas was big business in a dry goods store. Still is, you might notice. Big business is good for a small mom and pop business. We loved Christmas.

Christmas meant hard work for all of us. Only my Grandmother was exempt during the season. Curling ribbons, straightening stock, wrapping packages, making sales... that was the ladder we grandchildren climbed. On Christmas Eve we closed the store as early as we could gently expell the truly last second shoppers. There was a party for the employees, and the men and women who weren't family might just as well have been. These people had been in the store almost as long as my parents. After the party, the family would head over to my Grandfather's house, just a block away on the St.Lucie River. We'd all drink a toast to Christmas. I'd love to say that we then all went out for Chinese food, but there wasn't much in the way of Chinese food in Stuart, and I don't remember going to Frances Langford's Outrigger.

All my friends thought that I had no Christmas, being Jewish, so I can't count the number of trees I trimmed as a child. My sistergirlfriendgirl's family had wonderful ornements, little hedgehogs from England, based on Beatrix Potter's illustrations. Another friend's family had old glass balls, the ones people kill to collect these days. Sigh. It's never stopped, either, this Christian sympathy as though I've missed out on something.

When I lived in New York, a pair of women friends thought I needed to experience tree buying in the snow. So their present to me was a trip to the tree lot in Greenwich Village, picking their tree, helping to schlep it through the falling and deep snow to their West Village apartment where I would get to decorate the tree with them. It was just as magical a time as they wanted me to have.

Frankly though, I've always been in it for the grub. Lawdy. The grub in a Southern home at Christmas is why God invented ham. Redeye gravy and grits with butter the next day. Homemade biscuits. Butter. Cream gravy. Did I mention the roast ham? Exotic food and I still swoon for a good slice of fried ham with redeye gravy. Haven't had one in years.

I think that I embrace Christmas as the secular holiday my friends all tell me it's become. I celebrate Christmas vicariously through my friends, but I still won't celebrate it in my home. I am a Jew. This is the dividing point between them and us. I respect Christian belief enough to abstain from celebrating Christian holidays. I am grateful when they chose to share one of mine with me, and love to open my Passover seders to my non-Jewish friends.

But make no mistake, I am treating them to my holiday, letting them in on the Jewishness of the night. I am not trying to convert them. I would ask the same of the Christian Right.

I keep reading about Christmas in Bagdad, and around and about Iraq, and how the soldiers are giving out candy canes. I was asked by a business to click on a link to send gifts to the soldiers and children. The soldiers could get books, an amazing array of titles mostly having to do with politics, anti-war politics mostly, and how to get a better job, or prepare yourself for leaving the military. I thought that was a little cold, a little too much propaganda for those guys over there who don't want to be there any more. I opted for a rag doll for an Iraqi child, but at the same time, I felt guilty. As though I were one of the Christians trying to force a religious holiday on someone of another faith. Hey, little Iraqi kid getting a rag doll for a holiday you don't celebrate: I don't celebrate it either. Take the presents and roll with it.

RJ and MJ have an agreement: he celebrates all the Jewish holidays, and she has to celebrate Christmas and St. Patrick's Day with him. I think this is a great deal for RJ and told her so. She gets all her holidays (and trust me when I say that they mostly involve food) and the only two of his he wants to celebrate require giving presents and drinking to excess.
Miz Shoes

Home Is Where…

Home is where... Or maybe, home is where?

Yesterday I brought my mother home to Miami, a place she's never lived. I put her in a private home that is also an Alzheimer's residence. As I've mentioned, it's only three blocks from my own home. That home being where I hang my hat, where my heart is, where the pets are, where my books and studio are.
In choosing things to bring to make my mother's room her home, I brought the id badge from the library, where she had been a volunteer for more than forty years, as well as the plaque they gave her last year when she finally had to stop.

I brought a cross-stitch she'd made of Newport, R.I., her home town. A framed photo of the store her father and she opened in 1936. Photos of her and my father, a pin cushion I'd made for her in her favorite color. I brought her favorite stuffed animal. I brought a lap blanket that she'd bought in Norway back in the 70s: it's shades of orange and rust and brown, and she used to nap under it on the living room couch.

I brought her close to me. Like so much else this crappy, crappy year, this has been so hard. So difficult to navigate emotionally.

Home is where I can bury myself under my own blankets, and not come out until 2005.
Miz Shoes

My Head Hurts

No, really, it hurts. A migraine woke me up today at six. It felt like there was a band halfway around my head, just at eyebrow level. It was squeezing tighter and tighter, and trying to pop the top of my skull off.
Three Motrin, several icebags, one dark room and many hours of restless sleep later, I am awake and tentative about the state of my brain. The ice bags were a particular help: I put them over my eyes until I could feel the entire eyeball cooling from the inside and that seemed to help my head.

Too much information?

Well then, how about this: I am thankful today for the many friends I have on this amazing thing called the internet.

When I finally got out of bed, and turned on my computer, there were messages of care and warmth from friends I've never met: a woman in England who shares with me a love of cats and quilting and baseball, a message from New York, and another from California, and yet others from around Florida.

The essay I was going to write, the one about the empty places in my heart and at my table this year, that essay fell away, replaced by the love that spilled out of the laptop's screen.

Thank you one and all. May we find our hearts desires in this coming year. And may the fucking Miami Dolphins find their way out of the football equivalent of the cellar.

I'll be out of pocket for the rest of the weekend, as White Party Week is upon us. Don't worry, though, there will be photos and stories when I get back.
Miz Shoes


In a world where celebrity is measured in single names, I think that Richard Avedon was the first photographer to be elevated to the status of the faces he photographed. Avedon, like his subjects, only needed one name.

I'd be lying if I said that in art school I didn't worship the richness of his images. Where the boys were drooling over Ansel Adams' zone system, I was mesmerized by the clarity and depth of Avedon's portraits.

I was never so much of a fool as to think that I'd ever make anything as beautiful, but I shot an awful lot of black and white of my friend Patti.

Richard Avedon, another of my heroes, has left the planet.

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