Good Morning! I am writing this post on Wednesday because I know that this Thursday, my usual day for writing my blog, I will be otherwise engaged. I hope you had a lovely day with friends and family, and found ample reason to give thanks. And now the rush is on. I remember when the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve stretched on forever and now they fly by. That reminds me of a line from that song from Gigi; Maurice Chevalier sings, "Am I getting older?" And Hermione Gingold responds, "Oh, no, not you!" I'm probably dating myself just by mentioning that movie.
Last month when we celebrated the life of our friend, Betty Van Zandt, I told this story to her many loving friends and family.
We were at a party when Betty said to my husband, "Arthur, do you know of an escort service in San Francisco?"
Arthur replied, "Uh, Betty...? What's going on?"
She explained, "my daughter, Karen, is getting married in San Francisco and my ex will be there with his new young wife. I don't want Karen to worry about me being on my own so I need a date." That was just one example of Betty's resilience, resourcefulness and consideration for other people, especially Karen.
Arthur did not know of an escort service but he did know just the man for the job. When he was a young director working at the American Conservatory Theater he met Herb Gold, who took Arthur to the city Lights Bookstore and introduced him to the Beat Poets like Alan Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Herb was a distinguished writer himself and not a bad looking guy, and he was happy to serve as Betty's arm candy. As he put it to me, "I understand I'm to be Joe Stunning." He invited Betty to tea ahead of time so that there would be no awkward meeting at the wedding and they had a lovely time.
This morning we read in the Times that Herb has also passed away, also at the age of 99. I like to picture Betty waiting for him at the Pearly Gates to escort him in, returning the favor of all those years ago.
The last paragraph of Herb's obit said that on September 3 of this year he participated in a poetry reading at City Lights, and two days later Scribner's published "Best American Poetry of 2023, which included Herb's
"Other News on Page 24."
Someone famous will die that day.
And the newspaper will report:
"More obituaries on page 24."
For the curiosity of some,
the regret of a few.
Those few, they matter,
So they have a nice walk
in the Marin headlands
shadowed by a weary and worn mountain
(still green! Still fragrant!
with pine and transplanted eucalyptus,
and most important: still there!)
where I'm proud that the few
gather trash, but drop my ashes downwind,
and remember as I fly away.
But enough about everybody else, here's what I'm doing. I've continued adding birds to my house series; this is Red House with Egret--or maybe this is a sandhill crane. I've added a lot of red to the house to make the bird really pop. Next I'll put green wallpaper in the background to make the house pop.
Here's one more--Yellow House with Herons. Yes, you've seen those herons before; they're a direct copy of Audubon's Herons, so thank you, Audubon. I wish you hadn't owned slaves but I still admire your work. I also wish you had a camera so you didn't have to kill the birds but what can we do?
I almost never say this about my work but--it's finished! Well, maybe a little more on the blue background.