Saturday, September 15, 2012

"I no-no, Bubby!" Jack's Deli - Budd Co - Praying Mantis- Poem: Longing: Reflections on "The Great Fire" by Shirley Hazzard

Just got home from visiting Grace. "Mom, can you watch her, please? We're setting the table for dinner."

Of course! She was on her iPAD and was so engrossed she could barely speak to me. She knows every program on there. Her favorite is Bert and Ernie's doll David, who is learning to use the potty.

She plays it over and over, from the sitting down, to the wiping - You don't have to use too much, counsels the narrator - and then the FLUSH.

To hear it again, she's gotta push about five buttons but does it very quickly. I sat in amazement.

Her favorite line, which I've wrin about, and which she says to everyone, is "I don't know" following by their name, but pronounced "I no-no."

Just darling.

Five came to our poetry group today. My poem will follow at the end. We always have a great time. When I finish my tasteless hot decaf, which I sprinkle w lifesaving cinnamon, I wait until there's an inch of coffee left and then I get more hot water.

It's not that I'm cheap, it's that I can't stomach a second cup of bad coffee.

Came home and drove to Jack's Deli for our picnic tomro. More pictures please!

Down Terwood to the end, left on Welsh, Welsh to Bustleton, then keep driving till you see it on the Right.

Not very crowded. It's been a year since I drove over. At my advanced age, I'm always amazed I find the place w/o undue hardship.

Since I spend hours and hours alone by myself, writing mostly or watching movies or reading, I'm often amazed that I remember how to string a sentence together and speak.

Mark is in the green shirt cutting me a piece of tongue. I asked him, "May I sample a piece of your tongue."

I realized how forward that sounded, even tho I wouldn't have minded.

"Well, not your tongue," I said.

As soon as I saw it I knew I'd like it.

Quarter of a pound, abbreviated lb.  Lb Lb Lb  What other words can you make from this? I'm seeing Librium, Library, Libertarian. LBJ. Lebovowitz Jews.

Then I spotted some Red-Bliss Potato Salad, skins-on.

May I have a sample of that, Mark? I wanna see if it's as good as mine is.

WOW! I said. This is reeeeel good. I'll have a lb. container.

Mark makes all the food. He wouldn't tell me how he made the potato salad. It was Stanley's recipe, the old man, who went into the back.

If you think that's good, said Mark, wait'll you try the chopped liver.

Out came another black plastic fork and a heap of chopped liver.

OMG! I said. It's as good as mine. I'll have a small container of it. I thot it was pretty cool a black guy liked it. Curtis Branch, my black BF from Clarksdale, MI, did not.

In addition, they had all sorts of Jewish melt-in-your-mouth pastries which I forbad myself to look at. Diabetes, you know.

As you know, traveling is one of my hobbies. A trip to Jack's in the Northeast is the new trip to a foreign land. Strikingly different than my neighborhood.

 I couldn't stop while I was driving, so I settled for this photo. I was trying to shoot a foto of a rowhouse, unknown when we were growing up in Cleveland, a rowhouse that my dad's secretary Marcy Hagosky lived in before she divorced her cop-husband Walter. They came to dinner a couple times to Mom n Dad's Huntingdon Valley house.

Great story about Walter Hagosky. When I worked at Bristol-Bensalem Human Services, I recognized him. He was the maintenance man. It was his retirement job.

I sat down next to him in the waiting room. Good looking man. Sexy as hell. Knew it too. You should've seen him dance at our Xmas parties.

"Does the name Harold Greenwold mean anything to you?" I asked.

"Yeah, my ex-wife used to work for him," he said.

"I'm Harold's daughter," I said. Proudly. Proudly.

In case you're wondering what I'm listening to, it's Johnny Meister's Blues Night on XPN. I can't believe I remembered JM's name.

This is where I make the critical turn to get back home. I'm on Bustleton now and am gonna turn on Red Lion.

Minutes later, stark change in scenery. This is the area where the old Budd Company was, former makers of our regional rail system. Then the city began to outsource, buying cheaper products overseas - new trains are from Sweden - of vastly inferior quality.

Boy, did we ever talk about this at the funeral of a foreman at the Budd Company. Mike Fanelli raised 6 kids on his union salary, sent them all to college, very smart talented kids. His schizophrenic wife had been in a nursing home for years. He visited her every day. He used to make me pizelles and send em over with Jack. Son Gary was a marathon runner, a cut-up.

Distinctive logo.

Edward G. Budd  (1870 1947)  founded the company, famous for its invention of the 'shotweld' technique for joining pieces of stainless steel without damaging its anti-corrosion properties.

 In 1985, 40 years after his death, Edward G Budd, the "father of the stainless-steel streamliner", was inducted into Dearborn, Michigan's Automotive Hall of Fame.

Late in the day I went on a marathon weeding expedition in my garden. This pod-like thing on my holly bush is a PRAYING MANTIS nest. Hundreds of little mantises will hatch and begin to eat. I will put it out of harm's way tomro so the helpful little mantises can spread all around the yard to kill bugs.

They are insectivores.

 How did I find this out? I called Lucas, who lives a couple doors down, and showed it to him and Tucker. Lucas said his mom is a teacher and knows all about insects.

He came back with the info!

I have one more great story. I'll enjoy reading this post when my mind is really going and I can no longer remember Rob Lokoff.

Am listening to this audio book in the car. The first story, which I'm halfway thru, is The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. I first read it when I was married and living in Houston, TX. I worked as a secy for ole Mr. Herbert G Tigner. They were all racists down there. He used to call his janitor "boy." The janitor was in his 60s.

I loved my job. The receptionist was a lovely drunkard named Jackie Smith. She only got drunk when she went home to her very nice husband Ken and their two children, Kathy and Kenny.

I adored Jackie. Great personality. Sweet as pie. Tigner was going out of business - he owned mortgage companies where they scalped poor people who couldn't afford mortgages or insurance - and now he was going bankrupt.

I liked him very much. He was slowly losing his mind he was so upset. So I used to doctor his letters up. I used to write them anyway after taking dictation.

Oh, and that lawyer friend of his, Mr. Grantham. 

One day I brot in Hemingway's stories to read to Jackie Smith, the lovely drunkard.

I just stood by her desk and read the whole Macomber story in an hour. When the phone rang, I'd stop reading, so she could get the phone.

I stayed overnite at her house a couple of times. As soon as she got home she'd pour the wine. We'd eat dinner and go out to the pool. We'd bring our wine glasses. Her kids hated her. Thought she was a drunk. But how do you look up Jackie Smith if you wanna get back in touch?

There is something about the Texas culture that fosters drinking. Plus they have their Bible belts where you cain't drink.


Finally they must come together.

and I must find a good seat to

witness their reunion.

Where shall I sit to bow my head before book

and enter the landscape?

I traverse the house

the red couch is too dangerous

views of playful children outdoors

My upstairs bedroom

armed with a television

has too many memories

did Randy Johnson ever visit me there?

Of course I am no longer young, not yet in my dotage

like Julia Child hovering over the cutting board

while Jacques Pepin pretended not to notice

When have you felt that way,

how Aldred feels for Helen

a longing that spans the lonely years

once, I paced outside a house on Easton Road

across from the post office

awaiting the sound of his motorcycle

a soft-voiced cop who didn’t mind if he did

An entire three hundred pages have passed,

my longing may be as great as theirs,

Helen and Aldred, not reunited, but feeling like one smooth soul

the way I felt as a young mother,

I was myself plus my girl, who lives so far away I wonder if

she still thinks of me,

we worry too as we near the end of this story

twenty years in the making, replete with death from the Good War,

who else will fall, like the worm-ridden apple from the tree,

how surprising to find brave Exley infected with the polio virus

-I prefer the scientific “poliomyelitis” – and so did he

shooting himself in the chest but missing

I would have taken the bullet for him

now that I’m older and not of much use anymore

But I jest, infinitely, for I am sitting out on the back porch

oblivious of the too-lool of the bluejay

the songs of the crickets coming in from the grasses

and for certain I cannot see the moon as it rises over Charley’s dogwoods

near full, but not quite, I can always spot its platter of perfection like

a high note in a lullaby

The shiny library cover rests on my lap

my head bowed as if praying over The Great Fire

Shirley Hazzard has written for me

As I consummate our relationship on
my white wicker rocking chair on the back porch,

wailing with happiness

as Helen and Aldred touch faces at the London airport.


  1. A little over a year ago, I stayed in a small house with few amenities in very remote Arctic Village where a little boy of three or four years lived. I had my iPad with me, and on it was an interactive children's book. The little boy had never handled an iPad before, but he figured it out...


  2. maybe my granddaughter can teach me how to use the iPad, whose name i finally memorized.