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On the evening of a foggy day

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the little leaves on one of the plants turned a green so pale that i am not even sure the poor thing is still alive.
what is it like to die as a plant? do the dreams of growth just evaporate? does the skin stop to itch? what kind of senses do plants have anyway?
the little ones. the gigantic trees.
they do have intelligence. don't they?

the fog was beautiful this morning. trillions of little water droplets between here and the horizon. some suspended. all moving.
the same water that has been around for billions of years.
so good to see it in ever new constellations.

i stepped outside and looked at the roof of the next building. the raccoons living in the garbage shaft had assembled a stone garden on the silver surface.
near the emergency ladder a small bottle made it look as if at least one of the animals were a drinker. perhaps it was. i would not be surprised.
the little guys behaved rather humanly when out and about early in the morning and late in the evening.
they probably still did that. except that the days were much shorter now. so the actions were less obvious.
tracks in the snow were actually proof that the raccoons still lived in the building not so long ago.

i am slowly moving books and notes and layers of information from one room to some other room. wish i were able to let go of things easier.
maybe if i knew that they could help someone?
not sure how this is best done.

here is it. the end of the year. it is in sight. just a few more days. snow. rain. sunshine.
not sure the little plant will make it.
eventually i will probably end up with many jade plants. each slightly different, even though they are actually just taken from the same donor.
and that plant was likely taken from some other.
i hope tomorrow will be incredibly foggy.
there is a certain pleasure in being able to stand outside in the cold and to know that the inside is warm and calm and allows to have a thought.
as simple as that thought might be.

1/1/11

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Pinakothek der Moderne, a wooden necklace

after three weeks away from home, i am spread around the globe like fly on a windshield, except i am alive and will now reassemble myself slowly, before i jump off again.
first there was a week in beijing. and i have learned so much there about myself and life that i will need to think about it for a while, and maybe a while long enough to outlast me.
that is very possible.
the thinking i was pulled into on this trip to china was so fundamental and so deeply set in human existence that it is not something i can just simply put in words or write about as if it were just another occurrence.
not that i would write about any other occurrence here.
then the two following weeks were spent in germany, in some places familiar and in some places much less familiar. and the airline lost my baggage for about 10 days, so there was a very vulnerable quality to most of the time spent in bavaria and swabia.
i felt lost at times, even though i should not have.
and felt cornered, and angry. for no reason visible to the outside world.
so in a way this was also a very transformational experience, but maybe this time one i do not really understand enough to even interpret properly.

it is almost midnight on the first day of the first month of 2011. and i am awake as if it were around noon of the second of january. and my suitcases are still packed. i have not even looked at the pictures again that i took in the last three weeks. there is a hum in my head and my dreams seem to be straight out of inception's abandoned scripts.

it is incredible how i manage to throw myself into this similar state almost every year. it is not that i am placing any resolutions in front of myself. it is that giant shifts somehow happen around now. and it could just me that this might be the only time left for me to actually stop for more than a day or two and to look at my feet and the ground and the ground beneath the ground and to look at the sky beyond that.
maybe. perhaps this is the only time left when i can become a set of ripples in a pond.

and all of this will probably sound ridiculous to anyone outside. and it will probably all sound ridiculous to me in a few days from now.
but it will probably not make it less valid at this current moment in time.


Pinakothek der Moderne, a wooden necklace

A bit too early for that.

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This last visit to Germany really took away some years from the end of my life. And it was not the food, because that was rather good. And it was not the places where I stayed, as I seemed to get upgraded in every hotel now. And not even the travel. All modes of transportation were about as good as I could have hoped for.
No, it was the psychological underpinnings of it. And maybe the weather too.
I have been ground down to a little core of a grain at this point. And the nerves are blank now. And I overreact to the world inside and outside of me.
My biggest piece of good luck is probably to be surrounded by brilliant people. Or what might be the bigger piece of good luck even is that the brilliant people are on my side of the equation.

But that last trip managed to bargain out quite a price for what will some day be seen as "experience". Or maybe the memory is just freshest at this point. That's probably what it really is.

And now, before 4 am on a Monday. I should probably not be typing on the glass surface of a little device that really wants to grab more and more of my attention.
The moon is rising as a thin orange sliver over the outline of the King's county hospital. And I should be sleeping. Too much is too much. Sometimes it really is.

Moment left.

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The little tree that I had decided to bring over from the Park Slope apartment a few years ago is now beginning to turn gently yellow again. I had removed all leaves from it somewhere in the middle of the season, so it was allowed to age an extra year in 2009. The colors might turn out more vibrant now that it realizes that it is indeed truly going to be fall.
A different tree right next to it, took maybe 9 months to recover from being transplanted into the new and actually smaller pot. I had almost given up on the little guy, and just as a test scratched on the thin bark a few weeks ago. Underneath the color was green. Life. And soon after the leaves came out after all. Spring in July. The fall is recognized here too. The colors are shifting. The tree is getting ready for colder months.

I seem to have more journeys in the next two months than I could have ever expected. There is going to be some traveling to places in the US. Perhaps Kansas, though I am not sure if I will be able to go. Then probably some places on the west coast. Maybe some places on the east coast. Maybe a few more places somewhere closer to the middle of the country.
And then, shortly after columbus day, we will take off and finally go to Japan. It is a bit as if I had been preparing for the trip for decades. And now I feel incredibly not ready. There are such huge gaps in what I would like to know before I go, I am not sure I will be able to bridge them. But I guess the most important thing is to be open and to discover, not to be completely prepared and disappoint one's never truly complete expectations.

One of the challenges is going to be to actually go to Japan and to be there. I have taught myself to work on my trips. And often there is the sense of the presence in one place being the important preparation for some other place.
Very much like what I just mentioned actually.

And then there is the urge to report, and to record. What kind of camera should I bring? What kind of camera should I maybe buy? And what will I write?
Am I going to post our status here, or on Facebook, or Twitter?
"Currently relaxing, far away from it all."... What a lie. Pathetic really.
I wonder how many moments will be truly actually experienced as those that will actually really happen then and there.
And perhaps such a thing does not exist?
Perhaps this very moment was lost to this very reflection here.
What could I have been doing right now?
And what are you doing here?

I guess a new season is coming and it will be followed by the next, then by the next. Other rhythms will define the angle at which we look into the light of the sun.
Pretty much like the little trees I happen to keep as pets out on the balcony.

I need to leave the house today, I guess. Maybe not.

where do they go?

The clouds are in a rush this morning. As if the fog earlier had somehow created this urgency, as if some catching up were to do now. pigeons look as if they had real fun with this kind of wind. the wings adjusted to just the right angle, the birds can enjoy not just incredible speeds, but apparently the thrill of indescribable mid air acceleration. recently saw one of them almost hit the building again and again, at higher and higher speeds. the seagulls are very relaxed in mid air right now. here. and i can see jfk again. it was gone for the first several hours of my awake day. now i.m.pei's tower sticks out of the horizon like a cubist flower. so when the tourist rears his head, where do they go? JFK. I take it all back. here comes the rain. all of flatbush gone. water pouring down. The fall is too beautiful to be shoehorned into words.

the plastic bird was not enough. now a fine black mesh is wrapped around several pots and places on the balcony. some monster had arrived to put pig back with eons. there were bits and pieces of bits and pieces all over the floor. had a visitor tried to make me hate them? were the gifts of guano expressions of love?
i was not very good at reading the signs.
not sure the mesh will do anything. if it will not work, the next step is going to be the purchase of a bucket of toothpicks.

walking to mr. suds later in the afternoon, i noticed a pigeon that looked as if half of it were glued to the middle of the ocean parkway service road. the bird must have broken a wing and perhaps more and was now trying to take off, in heart breaking slow motion, maybe at a wave a second.
almost wanted another car to arrive and free it of pain right there. or was i supposed to break its neck?
was this somehow connected to how much i had hated pigeons just a few minutes prior?
i imagined that the best outcome of this would be one of the cats living around the building finding the pigeon, killing it gently and then feeding it to its young.

when i walked past the spot a few minutes later, that seemed exactly what i saw about to happen. a not very large female cat was carrying the freshly killed pigeon in its teeth. the cat had to walk almost upright because of her front legs being almost too short to carry the large bird without letting it touch the ground. the pigeon, with its iridescent belly facing forward, had its wings wide open, together the animals looked like a griffin, or some other yet to be described mythical animal.

looked down on my neighbours balcony. the mother pigeon was still sitting on the nest she had made in one of my neighbour's flower boxes. next to her was a small open eggshell. i at first thought that some other animal had taken the content of the egg and that the mother was sitting there traumatized. an odd thought but probably conditioned by my experience of seeing a pigeon killed just minutes prior. when i looked again and from a different angle, i could clearly see a yellowish, naked, freshly hatched thing under the mother's belly moving slowly.
it looked as if it were two little birds even. but i think it was just one.

then i noticed a second nest on my neighbours balcony, in a larger, round pot. what just a few days ago appeared to be a lucky accident now seemed to be a breeding ground for birds right under my nose. my feelings for pigeons was split back into pigs and eons.

quite a circle of emotions for a simple gray sunday, maybe as gray as the underwing of a pigeon in flight.

watched the other end of the sunset. it was a bit like nightrise. first the undersides of clouds turned pink and almost orange, then the color hid in the invisible space, just to reappear in the top layers, more vibrant yet. then dark shadows floated higher and higher until the sky eventually ran out of shades of blue. the birds are quiet now. cars are still around but will soon drive to a place of rest. somebody is pulling a plastic bucket across the sidewalk. a gate in the distance would like some oil. a train had a moment of surprise. and this morning was marvelous. at first it was just the balcony. then the houses on east 7th street appeared, slowly, very. then the circle of visible matter increased. lucky me to have been at one of its infinite centers. hoping for a breathtaking sunrise tomorrow. or at least a sunrise. a day will come. a miracle of illusion.

Accidental thanks on the way home.

Among many other things we did today was a visit of the Peter Cooper grave. Last time we walked past it was probably three years ago or so. The sun was shining and we just walked by. It is a nice grave, a white tower on a round island. It is a fine grave. Today we walked around it. We walked up to it. The marble looks as if it wanted to go home now. It is done being a grave and would like to just go back to being pieces of fine sand, somewhere in the soil, ready to be pressed together to new marble or plant, or person or whatever. The words carved into the grave are a bit blurry now, but at the same time rather brilliant and focussed. What a man. We could not stay for long. Not sure who brought it up actually, but it turns out that Peter Cooper was the gentleman who allowed us to meet. And that's obviously not inscribed on the stone. And neither are many other things. Or maybe they are? Or maybe... And we actually did not even visit his grave intentionally. The F did not arrive on time, so we took the D, wanted to walk through the Green Wood Cemetery; The Hamilton Parkway exit was closed, or so the ranger in his jeep told us as we were almost there, and so we had to turn around, walk by the Peter Cooper grave, to the main exit, with the nest of green parrots, and the woodpecker playing percussionist in the trees out all the way from fifth avenue then... home. important events as buildup to the calm and daily. It was a good walk today. We also saw some rather good art. In a private setting... made public... only today. but that's a completely different story.

new every day... (and different too...)

pretty much every sunrise is a spectacular event for me. and i wake up before the sun gets to the horizon and then when it actually rises enough to become visible, i try to take a picture, but it is just not possible really. they always turn out rather bad. sunrises are spectacular. pictures of sunrises are semi lame and actually a tiny bit cheesy. oh well...
on sunday morning the original idea was to just drop off a check at the citi branch not far from here. but then the branch did not have any deposit envelopes and it was a nice morning and i was on my little kick scooter. and so i traveled down flatbush, a bit further and then further and then further still. until i found myself on the corner of avenue u, then took a right and kicked myself all the way to the beach. it took maybe three hours or so. a spontaneous three hours if there is such a thing. it was a good way to see brooklyn as if it were a completely foreign city. and in some ways it was. parts of it were certainly not meant to be explored by foldable kick scooter. bought some water at a bodega near a woman from cameroon who screamed into the phone long enough for tears to run down her face. later bought more water at a seven eleven, somewhere between a smelly sewage filtering plant and a motel called the golden gate. brighton beach was packed with shoppers hungry for fried dough products (judging by the lines of old ladies,) and the area near brighton beach appeared to be a mix of condos, daycare centers with fun names like "happy tower," and neurologist sharing their practices with psychiatrists sharing their practices with urologists. layers upon layers of trouble. i took the train back home. it would have been too much to kick myself back up the letters of the alphabet. but i considered it for a minute or two. ocean parkway does lead all the way to the ocean after all. there is even a street sign on the boardwalk. never before have i lived this closely to the atlantic. exciting stuff. it would have probably taken me another hour or so to kick the scooter and myself home. the subway took 15 minutes. i expected the pain to be much stronger this morning. "spontaneous" means i was not at all prepared for anything, of course. my arms are an annoying red today, my neck might be as well. but i wore a helmet, so my face is as pale as it tends to be. my body hurts a little but that's probably before i made any attempts to walk more than ten steps. most of the afternoon and certainly all night was spent sleeping. i woke up this morning before 6am, when the sun was still deciding where exactly to emerge on the horizon. yes, this sounds odd, but it really looked that way, with two pink areas on the otherwise dark bluegrey horizon. they were two separate areas. pink and ready to go. two separate sunrises. the sun obviously appeared a few centimeters to the right of yesterday's sunrise point, we are very much heading towards the fall, the days will get shorter and shorter and shorter still. but today was an incredible sunrise. it was so good that i ran to find the box with my most reliable camera, the one that i must have loaded with film six months ago. the first frame was showing through the round little window on the side, i assembled the whole apparatus, and then watched and shot and shot and watched. a last bat flew by the building, some birds... a news helicopter arrived around 6:40 and hovered not far from here, filming footage of the sun rising over new york, i suspect. i watched planes landing into the sun, rising very close to the tower of jfk. around 7am the whole star emerged, it became impossible to stare at it, my 12th frame was shot, my alarm went off and the trash truck arrived. (a very smelly trash truck.) the paper did not arrive this morning. it is going to be a very dense monday. looking forward to it. we will see a tiny, tiny björk tonight. the tickets we got are just very far away from the stage. no cameras will be allowed.
There was a neat little pile of sand in my bathroom this morning. It was nice, clean sand, maybe half a bucket full of it. Very neatly arranged. There are no windows in the bathroom and the sand was also nowhere near any openings in walls. The answer to to the question why there was a nice little pile of clean sand in the middle of my bathroom on the 10th floor of a 16 floor building was somehow painted in very broad strokes on the other side of the building, in front of it, on Ocean Parkway between Caton Avenue and Church avenue in Kensington. It might have been five trees or so, adult trees, tall trees, pulled out of the ground and smashed onto parked cars. It looked as if something went down the block and picked the trees very selectively, before moving around the corner and pulling out one more. There were at least two crushed cars. Really broken. Right down the center of their roofs. Halfway down the block the giant visitor must have turned picky. Only one side mirror was ripped off a prius and placed neatly on the windshield near its wipers. It really did look as if a tornado touched down. (It turns out it did.) But in my bathroom? I wonder what it might have looked like when the wind brought the nice sand from somewhere between here and staten island. When it spat it through the air-ducts, all the way into that bathroom, I assume spinning the grains the entire time, and then arranged it in a little message from the outside. Beautiful handwriting for something that sounds like a train when it dances its dance of destruction. And what is it really, a very elegant expression of difference in air pressure. Some of the most powerful things might only appear to us to be things. As they carry things. Though are not objects themselves.

104 steps and 8 doors?

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the old man took a good while to get to the apartment. he carried a flashlight with him. it was one of the bright yellow ones. he carried it as if it were made out freshly painted lead. step after step after step and floor after floor after floor he finally made it into my apartment. i had removed all the parts i could access under the bathroom sink and so now there was only a pipe sticking out of the wall, and one from top, pointing towards a plastic bucket i managed to squeeze into the narrow space. the old man looked at the pipe for a few moments. he then pulled out of his overall a printed piece of paper, a pencil, also yellow and heavy. and with it in one hand, the paper in the other, the flash light on my non working bathroom sink, the price for the project was now officially estimated for $248. plus parts. plus tax. plus i had to sign some sort of agreement that would release the old man and all the men that would come after him from any responsibility whatsoever for... ever. it took the old man a better while to get down the stairs. three floors. i think it is 52 steps. a total of 4 doors. good thing my neighbors saw the old man. they gave me the number of the plumber actually responsible for the piping in this building. and now i can again wash my hands. innocently. a man? what man? a pipe? what pipe? water arrives. and it leaves. in mysterious ways.

we are not alone.

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more plants and things.

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most of the plants are dead now. i killed them with too much of everything. i feel horrible about it. i am just a terrible gardener it seems. terrible. a piece of a jade just fell to the floor this morning. the stem was just filled with too much water. how do i dry these guys? maybe i will replant things today. many of them are now just sticks in the mud. damn. the botanical garden was packed with families from all the places that now make brooklyn. it was as if the united nations had a day at the park of the united nations of plants. some families were showing their freshly sprung babies to their just recently acquired digital cameras. the babies and the cameras were much tinier than one would expect them to be. some women speaking russian had their first day out in leopard spandex and the blondest dark hair can get. some of the ladies moving around the park slowly looked very much like gigantic exotic birds, their feathers still puffed up from the winter time. and then there were the gentlemen, the hunters, the gatherers of photographs. massive, long black lenses attached to various sizes of camera bodies were pointed gently at freshly opened flowers in the trees' various branches. zooming birds, these men airing out their very special camera equipment. not far from them there were children trying to grab fish in the water. a polish family was buying enough flowers and plants to create a new home... land. the bonsai museum was as incredible as ever. breathtaking somehow. trees, so gracious, so beautiful in their suffering. "water daily" said the little tag on a beautiful bonsai i saw in the store next door. hmm... i think i would just kill it. i probably would. slowly. hmm. a beautiful tree is blooming outside of my window right now. (without my intervention.) and the birds and squirrels are going crazy about the little gifts i give them so they take care of the insects once the time comes. such a beautiful little place right outside of my window. such an amazing place just a few blocks from my house, at the botanical garden. i wonder if my pictures of flowers on trees came out. (i used film, you know.)

My Goetz Sofa GS100 OU 258 258

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So, after a few phone calls on November 7th I was convinced that I should get the Goetz sofa. After one more phone call with Highbrowfurniture.com I was actually getting it. The price that was offered to me over the phone was just much too good not to be accepted. And so the order was placed for a Walnut and Black Leather Goetz Sofa to be created for me. Just like that. Those highbrow folks even gave me free white glove delivery. I mean they are really nice like that. The Sofa was shipped from Herman Miller on the 18th of December I think. And I received a phone call from the Wright Brothers' white glove delivery service on December 28th. The delivery would take place as soon as I wanted. So i got the sofa for the 29th. 9am. Oh, somebody had left a comment on this blog, suggesting that I should have the sofa delivered without legs, which would make it easier to get through my door. Well, it turns out that the legs are actually pretty important pieces of the sofa, because of the shell if the goetz sofa being exposed the way it is, removing the legs would just make the veneer more vulnerable. Herman Miller would actually only deliver a sofa without legs if not only I but some other people signed some document... Hmm... they are serious like that. I got the sofa with legs. Good thing I did. Okay, so on the 29th, a van with three men and the sofa arrived, they were three very friendly men who struggled quite a bit to get the pice of furniture up my 52 steps to the apartment. The door was indeed a bit of a show slow downer, but with the right turn, the sofa arrived in the room and it was placed where is still stands now, as it is the heaviest piece of sofa I have seen. The delivery guys were soon gone and I was left here with finally my Goetz sofa, the sofa which I wanted to buy about a year ago, but which I did not dare to buy for various reasons, and which I in the end ended up buying. What can I say. The sofa is much better than I had imagined. It is also much better than I had remembered. Mark Goetz created an incredibly smart piece of furniture here. He managed to put the piece straight into the Herman Miller tradition and yet he also managed to add some very interesting elements that make the sofa really exceptional. It is a very hefty piece of furniture, and yet it looks really pretty light weight. It is incredibly clean and very elegant and yet it is going to age into a very relaxed inside with a restrained outside (how excellent.) There are no superfluous parts, as far as I can say. In some other sofas I have looked at there are zippers and hooks and some other strange mechanisms to hold the cushions in place. None of these things exist here. There is the outer shell. (It smells like walnut wood, btw.) And then there are the six cushions. That's it. I can take out all the cushions and use them as casual seats around the room and the shell remains a beautiful object, a little soft on the inside, upholstered very cleanly with a dark grey fabric. It works very well as a play area for casual memory games. Or maybe some time spent building castles out of those Eames cards. The cushions are so well crafted, their zippers hiding in especially prepared pockets, it is a joy to put them anywhere in the room. The three seat cushions are about seven inches thick. Inside of them there are layers of foam with very varying levels of softness. The sofa has no springs. The very top layer in the cushions is incredibly soft. The additional layers give enough support for the sofa to feel rather upright. The seat position is at about 17 inches, the seat depth is something like 21 inches. This is, at first, not a sofa into which one sinks into. We all know though, that foam does change its personality over time, and so I am expecting the sofa to be more and more and more comfortable, as I take care of it over the years. The sofa feels like it is really built to last. There are no parts that could start being annoying over the years. The shape is so compatible with other Herman Miller products that I am sure it is going to look just fine (or actually much finer) in several decades time. Am I happy with the purchase? Oh, more than that, I think. This is a really good piece of furniture. This is the good stuff... I think I am going to take a nap now. Oh, and I originally wanted to post many pictures of the sofa, but then I realized that they would be very much pictures of my apartment as well. On a site that does not have an "about me" section... maybe not. And no, nobody is paying me to advertise the sofa or Herman Miller or Mark Goetz and his work. I am just really happy I finally got the sofa I actually wanted. And I did not even expect the positive surprises. (I mean, did Mark Goetz koncept the shell as a play table?) Hmm... okay, I will post one picture. It is from the underside of the sofa. There is a sticker with the signature of the designer, as well as one with the serial number of the sofa as well as the product code. GS100 means Goetz Sofa. OU means Walnut. 258 258 probably means black Herman Miller leather. That's at least what I got here. Oh, and there is also the manufacturing date: 12/13/2005 (that's not so long ago) and the initials of somebody at HM and the serial number... 9398652? maybe?... hmm... will need to take a second look. Yeah. I love it.

and...

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What looked very cute yesterday became a bit spooky today. There was not one cute squirrel on my fire escape but three cute squirrel and the "squirrel proof" bird feeder was everything but that. The famous black squirrel came to visit and really dug for food in all possible and impossible places. Yesterday's squirrel was there too, looking for more. The smallest of the three figured out a way to ride the bird feeder upside down, and to simply pull out as much bird food with its small paw as it happened to want at this particular moment. I felt a bit violated. It felt as if I had thrown off the environmental balance of Park Slope, I felt like a real idiot, outsmarted by three (admittedly smart) rodents with bushy tails. I will now need to find a better way to hang up that other bird feeder. Am I going to put it at the end of a pole which I am then going to rub in with butter? I am not sure yet. The animals today were really rather self confident. I think I am not throwing off anything here. I am just supporting the long supported. One of my favorite entries on "Only Blog Knows Brooklyn actually tells the story of what I think is exactly the black squirrel pictured below. Yes, I gave food to a local animal celebrity. p.s. as I am posting this, the small squirrel is emptying out my bird feeder. About an inch of seeds is gone now. The little buddy uses the landing sticks as handles. It looks cute, but I will have to find some sort of solution for this.

squirrel writes nothing again...

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So here I was by the window, blowing my bird whistle, trying to attract the birds on the branches just outside my window to that new feeling place I had hung outside yesterday. Things do not work quite as quickly, of course. I felt as if we had some sort of dialogue going for a little while, but then, then I managed to blow my whistle a bit louder than the bird managed to sing and so they flew away, upset, maybe just really scared. Who knows. (Maybe they just saw that I looked rather crazy.) I stepped outside to see how I could possibly hang up that new super feeder I got for Christmas. It is the color of my first car, I love it, the only problem is that I will have to hang it up in a way so it does not blow out the living room window even if some freakish storm decides to visit brooklyn. Or if a squirrel really wants to prove to me that she is much smarter than dumb humans imagine, well, for that we also need to be prepared. The horizon blue feeder and I. There were three squirrels fighting for territory on one of the trees in the backyard. Their cries sounded almost like baby cries, just a bit more freakish, maybe like a mix of baby and crazy bird? I looked at the possibilites for my feeder attachment. I can either get a special suspension that will attach it to the wall, or i could use the roof... I looked up, leaning out, stepping onto my fire escape... and there is was, a short "hey there"... okay it was a bit of a squeak maybe... a squirrel wanted to help me hang up anything in any way related to squirrel food. I almost stepped on that buddy. Well, not really. we were a good foot or so apart. I crawled back inside and went to get the camera. In the meantime, buddy found some seeds and things in my herb box. (Not that kind of herb, silly.) I had left some seeds there, maybe some other leftovers. (Just dropping seeds into soil makes for a good experimental garden, believe me.) I eventually closed the window. Buddy was really incredibly close. The reflection in the eye is actually my living room window. I can almost see myself in there. We were maybe 10 inches from each other. I was too nervous to get a real camera. I would not have been able to share these pictures anyway, I guess. Hmm, maybe next time. I have a very strong feeling there is going to be a next time. : )

incredibly thin masses of land.

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when i was born...
Can I describe a good morning in 10 minutes? (As this is about how much I have before I will run out of the house and to the train and so on?) There were tiny things that made the morning good, I think? Maybe it was the peppers on my surprise pepper plant turning into a decisive red maybe? Perhaps it was the hopeful survival of one of the avocado plants which I cut far to close to the ground? (Can plants utter curses? Maybe this one actually should, because what the hell was I thinking?) Maybe it was the shadow of the black squirrel in the branches just outside of my living room window? Maybe it was the light from the sun hitting the walls just right? Or maybe the relieved chirping of three sparrow families living with me above my windows because of my turning off of the air conditioner? (Will they be angry with me if it turns on around 9PM again tonight?) Perhaps I was happy to discover that my airconditioner does no longer drip onto my neighbour's windows, but somewhere into the proximity of a blooming flower box? Could the happiness stem from the fact that I was able to just say hello to the dry cleaning lady, dropping off the many wire hangers she will be able to reuse for my endless stream of used to be clean blue shirts? Was it the lucky coincidence that the 2nd Street Café opened just the minute I came by with the new paper under my arm? I could have also been in a good mood because the waiter had some good ideas as to what he liked to have for breakfast and what I might equally enjoy? Or, because he was dead on? Or because the paper had some really good news on the cover, of people actually surviving a plane crash and such? Or because there were interesting news in the arts section as well, of Barry McGee and Swoon showing at Deitch? Or because the coffee hit the right spot?... Or was it the Russian news on the radio at the laundry place that was overwhelmed by the disturbances from the washing machines which made the transmission sound as if it were announcing the return of the bolshevik army to the aurora destroyer just in the harbor outside of new st.brooklynburg? Or maybe none of the above?... Maybe I am out of time, but today will be a great today? Can I say so? What else? Who Else? where Else?
The boy sitting two seats away from me on the F train was wearing a t-shirt with four lions on it. The red, gold, green and blue lion were probably the repeated logo of some special summer-camp. The boy was maybe seven but he was more than half way through a pretty mangled book from the kids section of the Brooklyn library. His father, a well groomed man with what looked like a special edition of a Trotsky beard (the late version) was sitting right next to me, reading "The Tipping Point." The boy interrupted his reading, looked up in the direction of his dad, seemed to ponder and then asked: "Dad, how can you possibly cheat in basketball?" His book did not seem to have anything to do with basketball. It was one of those incredibly dangerously unrealistic detective stories, in which three smart kids find and catch a mass murderer. I thought the question was pretty good. Basketball is obviously a team sport, played in the open, people are watching, television cameras are running, how does one cheat in that sport? My father's answer would have been a question, I bet. "Dad, how do you cheat in Basketball?" i would ask. And my dad would probably reply something like: "why don’t you ask the neighbor?" or "well, what do you think?" I would say:"I don't know." and my father would give me his famous:"I don't know is not an answer." The father of the boy with the four lions on his chest was a different kind of dad. He looked at the boy from behind the book and gave him a pretty comprehensive answer: "Well, there are at least two ways to cheat at basketball." Two ways? He certainly had the boy's and my attention. "The first way is the very obvious way: You make sure nobody sees you and then you hold a guy from the other team, or you elbow him in the ribs." (He lowered "Tipping Point" and made an elbowing movement. "The second way is a bit less obvious, but certainly not less common. Let's say you are on the blue team. A bookie comes to you and tells you that he has all his bets in and that he can make the most money when the red team wins. He offers you an incentive and you make sure that the red team wins, by pretty much playing poorly. You miss some baskets on purpose, the blue team loses, the bookie gives you $2000 and he probably makes 10K in the same transaction." Wow, I thought. This dad came up with that right there on the spot? He continued, the boy and I listened, full attention: "Things can get even more interesting when the bookie tells you to lose by a certain amount of points. Certain bets are based on by how many points a team wins or loses. So you could be on the blue team again and the bookie tells you to lose by, let's say 10 points. Not an easy thing to do, but if the red team wins by 10 points, you make a bunch of money and the bookie makes much more." The boy stared completely focussed on his father's mouth as if he were waiting for these lips to move again. The father stared at the boy. The boy stared at the father. After a pretty long five seconds or so, the boy looked down on his t-shirt and pointed at one of the lions: "Blue." he then pointed at another: "Red." ... "Green." ... "Gold." No clear winners in this particular match.
It was good not to have to take the F train to manhattan this morning, as there had been a derailment on Smith and 9th Street. Hmm, maybe I would not have known about it anyway, as I would have probably taken the B or the Q... Hope my neighbors did not get too annoyed with me, as I managed to listen to about 10 hours or so of David McCullogh's 1776... he reads the audio edition himself, which is great, as he knows that the text is brilliant enough and that it does not need some ambitious reenactment. (Oh, how much do I hate it when somebody tries to hard to play all the characters in a book, by clumsily adjusting their reading style.) (Books on tape allow me to draw while it listen...good, no?) I was very interested in the book, as I live on a battle field here, hundreds of americans died in this very street, trying to keep thousands of British and Hessian soldiers from taking over New York. While the book does not go too deep into the details of the Battle of Brooklyn (Or the battle of Long Island, you know the one of August 26th 1776), it was really quite excellent at presenting a bigger picture, one that at times made me wonder why there is George Washington on my $1 bills and not Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. (Aren't we all looking forward to money with William on it?)... Well, let's say the Americans did not look their very best in 1776... and whenever I am going to look at the fireworks on the 4th of July being fired in the New York harbor, I will now always imagine the 400 or so british ships docked there, with international troops, ready to land and bring back order into that actually incredibly rich place called America... hmm... You know... King George the Third was a really kind man... and the troops were here to bring peace. (I kid you not.) Oh, and Washington having the idea of burning down New York?... hmm... it was nice to hear that not everyone shared this opinion... hmm... yes, the book is a rather good one. It made me feel good again about my Audible subscription. Walking around what were portions of the battle field, just two blocks or so up from my house, I lost myself in the ravine, then spent some time sitting on a boulder, near the shore of a little lake. I then walked through some other made to appear wild area where I kept running into men who also seemed to be just exploring the park. It was not until one of them winked at me and called me "sexy" that I felt a bit less comfortable and a bit too much by myself. Brooklyn is beautiful and I have recently been somehow obsessing about what places here will look like in 10, 50, 150 years? As Manhattan (formerly known as York Island,) turns more and more into a glitzy shopping and entertainment disney land, what is going to happen to places like Kensington for example... and doesn't dumbo look a bit like SoHo with a cool waterfront?... That trip to coney island the other day was also a nice mind expanding experience. I seriously live about twenty minutes from the beach... crazy somehow... I think I will have to take a walk there some day. Ocean Parkway was designed for just that... and wasn't it also one of the routes taken by the british troops? or the hessian troops? Or did they take the path of the D train?... So fascinating... Then, on the other hand... when in germany (in Hanau), I would wait for my bus to my High School every morning standing next to this plaque. How is this in any way related?... I never really know these things...

in a single day... today.

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So much can happen in a single, simple day. And it even started on a rather quiet note... then there were the ceramics up the block, more mystery objects, miles walked, fish, birds, turtles, shrines, plants from the farthest corners of this planet, walking on an amazing lake, objects lost and found, a storm, a quiet subway station, and more, more, more, more, so much more I can even think of right now... i will now sleep. what could i possibly dream of tonight?
It is fascinating to realize that both pictures below were taken in "my" street (that would be third street in Brooklyn), and both just a few blocks away from here. Clearly the second image will at some point have the poshness of the first one. The area around fourth avenue in park slope has just been rezoned and it is not going to take long for those with even deeper pockets to establish an even fancier entertainment park for themselves here.

taking more trains...

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walking the other way felt like a really good idea. down the man made slope i went. past the joggers, past the man checking on his paper, past the drawing on the floor that looked like a caterpillar with all of the fields numbered from 1 to 151. three men were done with playing basketball around 7 and headed for work near fourth avenue. the sun joined all of us around that time too... i took the train back on carroll street. got out of it on smith and 9th... then again on 4th avenue then again here on 7th... and i will soon take the train again, then again, then again and again... on the corner here i ran into a group of fifth graders being arranged by two pale photographers in trainings overalls. "Look tough." one of the guys said... and then he showed the kids what he meant by that... as they did not seem to be sure. I would like to sleep, but the opposite will now need to happen. Quickly and continuously until long after sun down...

taking trains...

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The same morning right here on the corner. The bookstore was packed at an early hour. The coffee shop seemed sleepy. It took a while for the hardware store to get started... In the bagel place a block away from here, an old man called joe placed an incredibly lengthy order which resulted in a rather elaborate looking sandwich. I had some doe with some fat and some sugar and water. At the barber shop the brothers were talking about their mother being an even better singer than Billie Holiday... back in the day... when they used to be boys playing in the street, right around the corner from here. What is not to like about this neighborhood?

almost ready...

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I had no idea that the sun ever managed to hit a very particular spot on the wall in the kitchen. It did this morning. It really did. Somewhere between 3am and 7am there were shadows of plants slowly crawling across the wall. They were shadows of my rubber orca, the jade, the two avocado brothers, the bunny cookies cast no shadow... though eventually the fire escape did... I somehow felt better then. Much better. Oh, and it seems that more than four bird families will try to create nests right above my window, in the molding of the building here and the neighboring buildings too... I am excited about this. The winged candidates for the prime spots arrived early this morning, little twigs in their beaks. They were sparrows, the shakespearian central park birds. Their chirps still had that British accent acquired in London's parks. The music on the headphones felt like a perfect soundtrack for at least a few steps on the way to the train. It is going to rain a little more, but then, yes then... then it is soon going to be time to find some good airconditioners... and find some way to get that bird guano off the windows. Oh, this is going to be fantastic. Can't wait to take walks to Kensington and maybe even further... Coney Island perhaps? Oh, yes...

toodeedoood

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and you know what, spring is running towards us in giant flip flops right now, as the bird on the roof here sings his daily improving potpourri of sounds. I do not know what kind of a bird it might be, but the song contains samples of toys, somebody whistling at somebody else (yes, that way), as well as some bits and pieces of future love songs. Clear proof that spring is nearly here. I cant wait. (At least until my hay fever knocks me out big time and the need for an air conditioning bumps breathing off the top ten list of important things...)

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With the apartment being on the level of tree crowns, between tree crowns, with the windows open it might as well be a tree crown, with the birds out now, more and more, singing more and more, more and more of their songs, this is exactly where i want to be right now.
There is a tiny store many blocks from here, it is filled with glass and paper and carved wood. It is named after a bird and after something one can do with water or pills... and I liked visiting the place, at the end of my strange walk this afternoon. It began with my wanting to take some pictures of the street. The winter sun was casting a softly magical glow onto the buildings, even around two pm. I kept walking, taking pictures of things, and no things. Around fourth avenue, just two blocks from here, between a basketball court and a playground: a little house. On the wall facing third street, iron cast numbers. 1 6 9 9... The old stone house apparently also has a name. It is called: Old Stone House. Hmm... Apparently the little house here was that British artillery position in the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27th 1776. This here was the place where 256 men of Washington's army were killed, distracting the British, allowing the Americans to flee... (I hope I remember the story right.) Hmm, that was two blocks away from here. The house used to be a farmhouse, belonging to Claes Arentsen Vechte, a Dutch immigrant who owned a farm encompassing a good part of Park Slope... The house was within a town called Breukelen. What I also was told was that Park Slope is actually a really old landfill. How delightful to know that parts of the area here are built on trash. I kept walking west, until I found myself in Carroll Gardens. A broker called me into a house and wanted me to take a look at it. I passed, took the fact sheet... the house was for two families, it was occupied, the top tenant is paying 1100 rent, from month to month, the bottom tenant pays 2300 for a duplex with garden. The broker offered me the house for a bit more than a million dollars... (I was really just walking down the street...) I did not take it. I walked a little bit around Carroll Gardens... then took the train back... Oh yes, that little treasure chest of a little store... hmm... this is a very strange entry.

meanwhile on the long meadow...

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with one eye open...

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Kasha in the rice cooker. Three bananas attached to the window frame in the kitchen. The lost tracks of the La's from the tiny speakers of the laptop. An empty green bottle from the czech republic as a quiet reminder of the attempt to slow down the galloping brain last night. The lights are off. I am less than an hour away from another completely packed day. My calendar suggests that I have one thirty minute window left for myself. Wicked little liar. I have not managed to pull away that invisible hand pushing at my temples. I have not managed to remove the other invisible body parts pressing at various areas of my body, in and out. The wool scarf trapped in my throat is still there. It is there even more now, since this is the morning. I think I will need to take a short walk. I live just two minutes from a great park. Maybe this is what I should be doing right now. Maybe it is not the screen I should be looking at now, it should be the layers of thick air behind which the silhouettes of trees would remind me that I am rushing too much, running very quickly... just to return to them anyway. The pots with plants are happier than ever. I thought that the last window was a life giver, well, what is happening right now is nothing short of miracle growth. I had finally had the guts to bonsai train my dear jade tree and it is coming back as a really exciting drawing model. I think we will soon have to have some sessions. The lime tree really wants to turn itself into a giant stick. We will need to have some more talks... The avocado plants are slowly but surely turning into real trees. Exciting. Yes, a walk would be probably the right thing now. And then maybe some more, maybe some slower writing. I would love to just walk all the way to the south west side of the park, and stay there, all day, just create little waves, swim, fly... I will need to take a short walk now. Right about now. Will be out there in the park in maybe five minutes... bye.

A perfect start of 2005.

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Today might have been the best first of January I remember. Ah, what the heck. It was the best first of any year I remember. It was a lovely day, I would not change a thing. It was perfect. Great, grand, quiet, lovingly simple. Nothing more to say right now. At least not about the day. Here some feeding frenzy, as seen today in Prospect Park. (From that perfect four hour walk.) Happy New 2005.

SO very very cableless...

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when the cable people arrived the first time, somewhere between two and six a few weeks ago, they just noticed that my apartment had a cable leading into the rooms, but that there was no information coming in it. I was connected to a dry end of the information pipeline. What the cable people also noticed that it was dark outside and that what they needed was light, to see where the information flow was interrupted. Apparently there was a box outside the building, in the garden of my downstairs neighbors and in order for me to get cable service, I would need to allow access to that garden. I do not actually want to watch television. I might get a set some day, maybe, again, that little visual candy box that just keeps on giving. For now I would just like to have internet access over cable (again), be connected to that other information drug, the same one you are looking at right now, the fast way. My neighbors downstairs are some of the nicest people I know. They are a very polite kind of British friendly family. I think there are three kids in the family, though so far I have only seen two skateboards and two of those razor scooters. (Maybe the third kid has some other sort of superpowers.) I scared the parents a little bit when I showed up last friday night, right after work, with my black jacket, the heavy bag still over my shoulder. I was first greeted with an open wallet, as I had been mistaken for the delivery guy, then both of the parents came out to hear my plea to maybe be there the following day, just so the cable people can walk into the garden and flip some switch. I guess this was when I realized that my neighbors were incredibly friendly. Their reaction was just so much more friendly than what I had expected. I congratulated them on the garden, they congratulated me on the view and the access to the roof. (Which I really do not have.) "You can always go to the roof and enjoy the new years' fireworks," my neighbor said. "Well, you know, I had to sign in the lease that I would only go to the roof in the case of an emergency." "I think looking at new years' fireworks could count as just that." I did not want to disappoint my new British friends, but the only time New York really goes out to burn a lot of fireworks is on fourth of July... On New Years Eve... No fireworks for New Yorkers. (At least outside of some few secret firework firing ranges somewhere in the depths of Chinatown.) My neighbors stayed at home on Saturday, I stayed here last Saturday, and when the two cable men arrived, at around three pm, they only noticed that the mysterious cable box they needed to switch on my service, was located in the garden of the building next door. One both cable men went to knock on the door of my mystery next garden neighbor... but nobody answered the door... no cable for me. My next appointment was scheduled for today. My homework was to let the people next door know that my cable people were coming... I told about my homework to my friendly neighbor downstairs. She simply replied: "Oh, that should be no problem, they are so friendly." But of course. Everybody here in Park Slope was super friendly. And happy. And kind. Magic. I wrote down the name of the doorbell marked with #1 in the building next door. I then had one of the toughest weeks of the year. And so yesterday, maybe around 7PM, I had decided to finally call the friendly people, ask them if they would happen to be at home today, and if they would let the friendly cable guys flip that magic switch. The name I had written down was not listed. Not anywhere in Brooklyn. There were so many L's and also some N's in the name, and so I was pretty sure that I got it all wrong, I ran home as quickly as I could, to just ring that bell in person. I probably arrived around 8:30 or so... There I was, at the door, I pressed the name, it was very soft, that's all it did, it gave in, in a very soft way, that backlit name, marked number one... "Who is this?" (Now the name was also the voice of a woman.) "Hello, my name is Witold Riedel, and I am your neighbor next door. I just moved in and I was about to have my cable service activated. Unfortunately the box for the cable is located in your garden, and so I was wondering if you would be home tomorrow... some time during the..." "You know what? No. I will not be home tomorrow... I will be out." "Oh, I understand... maybe on a different day?, maybe?..." "Well, not until probably way after Christmas..." "Oh, okay. I understand." "You know what. I do not anybody come into my garden. Not now and not later. What building are you from? That one that is closer to Seventh Avenue?" "Oh, I am actually in the building to the other side. You know... 485... " (I so wished I had remembered the name of my new British friends... but I did not...) "No, you may not enter my garden. Tell the cable people to put a box onto your building. I do not want to see anybody here. I already do this for all the people in my building. Now I am supposed to do this for other too? ....No." I looked at the four names glowing at me for a little while. I then went home, next door. Walked up my several flights of stairs. No wonder people across the backyard were getting satellite dishes. The box in that lady's garden is probably shared by several of the buildings here. She is the protector of the airwaves, the shield from HBO for some, a giant pothole in the information superhighway for others. I called Time Warner Cable and had a good laugh with them. My operator has not heard such story yet. She asked me if I maybe at least tried to give the lady some cookies. She then offered to speak to her supervisor (she really did.) I was called back with a phone number of an organization called "Right of Way." Apparently a division of Time Warner that is responsible in resolving such special cases. "Are they going to send her some cookies?" I asked. I woke up this morning realizing how rude I actually had been. Christmas is coming up, the woman probably has a job, this is the last weekend before the holidays and a stranger rings her bell just to ask if she could stay home for him so he can watch some cable television? Clearly a crazy request. So now I feel bad. I am going to send the lady a Christmas card, apologizing. I wil also look into some satellite service. Though I will need to talk to my landlord about that. Well, and figure out which one of the dishes on the roof across the backyard look best... though wait, I will not get to see that thing anyway. Or should I just do DSL? Did the first tenants of this apartment have the same problems? "Will we go with gas light or maybe have electricity installed after all?..." "Go away, I am not going to let anybody into my garden to install that electricity stuff..." I wonder what will be the next thing that will come to the house via cable... but maybe nothing more... maybe that's it. Maybe this is the very last hour of cables... at least in gardens, perhaps.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Brooklyn category.

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