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A guy walks into a kitchen.......: 302 12th Street New York

A guy walks into a kitchen.......: 302 12th Street New York: 302 12th Street today. John Lennon was regular here. On May 10, 1922 New York hood Rocco Valenti, with gunman Silva Tag...

A guy walks into a kitchen.......: New England Summer Food/ and traditional Recipes

A guy walks into a kitchen.......: New England Summer Food/ and traditional Recipes: How to eat a lobster   Twist off the claws Crack claws with nutcracker and remove meat Separate the tailpiece from th...

Look at these colors!

Sunset, Boris Kustodiev

Kustodiev, self-portrait

STRANGE CHRISTMAS GAME BY CHARLOTTE RIDDELL




It was the middle of November when we arrived at Martingdale, and found the place anything but romantic or pleasant. The walks were wet and sodden, the trees were leafless, there were no flowers save a few late pink roses blooming in the garden. It had been a wet season, and the place looked miserable. Clare would not ask Alice down to keep her company in the winter months, as she had intended; and for myself, the Cronsons were still absent in New Norfolk, where they meant to spend Christmas with old Mrs. Cronson, now recovered.
Altogether, Martingdale seemed dreary enough, and the ghost stories we had laughed at while sunshine flooded the room, became less unreal, when we had nothing but blazing fires and wax candles to dispel the gloom. They became more real also when servant after servant left us to seek situations elsewhere! when “noises” grew frequent in the house; when we ourselves, Clare and I, with our own ears heard the tramp, tramp, the banging and the chattering which had been described to us.
My dear reader, you doubtless are free from superstitious fancies. You pooh-pooh the existence of ghosts, and “only wish you could find a haunted house in which to spend a night,” which is all very brave and praiseworthy, but wait till you are left in a dreary, desolate old country mansion, filled with the most unaccountable sounds, without a servant, with none save an old care-taker and his wife, who, living at the extremest end of the building, heard nothing of the tramp, tramp, bang, bang, going on at all hours of the night.
At first I imagined the noises were produced by some evil-disposed persons, who wished, for purposes of their own, to keep the house uninhabited; but by degrees Clare and I came to the conclusion the visitation must be supernatural, and Martingdale by consequence untenantable. Still being practical people, unlike our predecessors, not having money to live where and how we liked, we decided to watch and see whether we could trace any human influence in the matter. If not, it was agreed we were to pull down the right wing of the house and the principal staircase.
For nights and nights we sat up till two or three o’clock in the morning, Clare engaged in needlework, I reading, with a revolver lying on the table beside me; but nothing, neither sound nor appearance rewarded our vigil. This confirmed my first ideas that the sounds were not supernatural; but just to test the matter, I determined on Christmas-eve, the anniversary of Mr. Jeremy Lester’s disappearance, to keep watch myself in the red bed chamber. Even to Clare I never mentioned my intention.
About 10, tired out with our previous vigils, we each retired to rest. Somewhat ostentatiously, perhaps, I noisily shut the door of my room, and when I opened it half-an-hour afterwards, no mouse could have pursued its way along the corridor with greater silence and caution than myself. Quite in the dark I sat in the red room. For over an hour I might as well have been in my grave for anything I could see in the apartment; but at the end of that time the moon rose and cast strange lights across the floor and upon the wall of the haunted chamber.
Hitherto I kept my watch opposite the window, now I changed my place to a corner near the door, where I was shaded from observation by the heavy hangings of the bed, and an antique wardrobe. Still I sat on, but still no sound broke the silence. I was weary with many nights’ watching, and tired of my solitary vigil, I dropped at last into a slumber from which I awakened by hearing the door softly opened.
“John,” said my sister, almost in a whisper; “John, are you here?”
“Yes, Clare,” I answered; “but what are you doing up at this hour?”
“Come downstairs,” she replied; “they are in the oak parlor.”
I did not need any explanation as to whom she meant, but crept downstairs after her, warned by an uplifted hand of the necessity for silence and caution. By the door — by the open door of the oak parlor, she paused, and we both looked in.
There was the room we left in darkness overnight, with a bright wood fire blazing on the hearth, candles on the chimney-piece, the small table pulled out from its accustomed corner, and two men seated beside it, playing, at cribbage. We could see the face of the younger player; it was that of a man about five and twenty, of a man who had lived hard and wickedly; who had wasted his substance and his health; who had been while in the flesh Jeremy Lester.
It would be difficult for me to say how I knew this, how in a moment I identified the features of the player with those of the man who had been missing for forty-one years — forty-one years that very night.
He was dressed in the costume of a bygone period; his hair was powdered, and round his wrists there were ruffles of lace. He looked like one who, having come from some great party, had sat down after his return home to play cards with an intimate friend. On his little finger there sparkled a ring, in the front of his shirt there gleamed a valuable diamond. There were diamond buckles in his shoes, and, according to the fashion of his time, he wore knee breeches and silk stockings, which showed off advantageously the shape of a remarkably good leg and ankle. He sat opposite the door, but never once lifted his eyes to it. His attention seemed concentrated on the cards.
For a time there was utter silence in the room, broken only by the momentous counting of the game. In the doorway we stood, holding our breath, terrified and yet fascinated by the scene which was being acted before us. The ashes dropped on the hearth softly and like the snow; we could hear the rustle of the cards as they were dealt out and fell upon the table; we listened to the count — fifteen two, fifteen-four, and so forth, — but there was no other word spoken till at length the player, whose face we could not see, exclaimed, ” I win; the game is mine.”
Then his opponent took up the cards, sorted them over negligently in his hand, put them close together, and flung the whole pack in his guest’s face, exclaiming, “Cheat; liar; take that.”
There was a bustle and confusion — a flinging over of chairs, and fierce gesticulation, and such a noise of passionate voices mingling, that we could not hear a sentence which was uttered. All at once, however, Jeremy Lester strode out of the room in so great a hurry that he almost touched us where we stood; out of the room, and tramp, tramp up the staircase to the red room, whence he descended in a few minutes with a couple of rapiers under his arm. When he re-entered the room he gave, as it seemed to us, the other man his choice of the weapons, and then he flung open the window, and after ceremoniously giving place for his opponent to pass out first, he walked forth into the night air, Clare and I following.
We went through the garden and down a narrow winding walk to a smooth piece of turf, sheltered from the north by a plantation of young fir trees. It was a bright moonlight night by this time, and we could distinctly see Jeremy Lester measuring off the ground.
“When you say ‘three,’” he said at last to the man whose back was still towards us.
They had drawn lots for the ground, and the lot had fallen against Mr. Lester. He stood thus with the moonbeams falling upon him, and a handsomer fellow I would never desire to behold.
“One,” began the other; ” two,” and before our kinsman had the slightest suspicion of his design, he was upon him, and his rapier through Jeremy Lester’s breast.
At the sight of that cowardly treachery, Clare screamed aloud. In a moment the combatants had disappeared, the moon was obscured behind a cloud, and we were standing in the shadow of the fir-plantation, shivering with cold and terror. But we knew at last what had become of the late owner of Martingdale, that he had fallen, not in fair fight, but foully murdered by a false friend.
When late on Christmas morning I awoke, it was to see a white world, to behold the ground, and trees, and shrubs all laden and covered with snow. There was snow everywhere, such snow as no person could remember having fallen for forty-one years.
“It was on just such a Christmas as this that Mr. Jeremy disappeared,” remarked the old sexton to my sister who had insisted on dragging me through the snow to church, whereupon Clare fainted away and was carried into the vestry, where I made a full confession to the Vicar of all we had beheld the previous night.
At first that worthy individual rather inclined to treat the matter lightly, but when, a fortnight after, the snow melted away and the fir-plantation came to be examined, he confessed there might be more things in heaven and earth than his limited philosophy had dreamed of. In a little clear space just within the plantation, Jeremy Lester’s body was found. We knew it by the ring and the diamond buckles, and the sparkling breast-pin; and Mr. Cronson, who in his capacity as magistrate came over to inspect these relics, was visibly perturbed at my narrative.
“Pray, Mr. Lester, did you in your dream see the face of — of the gentleman — your kinsman’s opponent?”
“No,” I answered, “he sat and stood with his back to us all the time.”
“There is nothing more, of course, to be done in the matter,” observed Mr. Cronson.
“Nothing,” I replied; and there the affair would doubtless have terminated, but that a few days afterwards, when we were dining at Cronson Park, Clare all of a sudden dropped the glass of water she was carrying to her lips, and exclaiming, “Look, John, there he is!” rose from her seat, and with a face as white as the table cloth, pointed to a portrait hanging on the wall. “I saw him for an instant when he turned his head towards the door as Jeremy Lester left it,” she explained; “that is he.”
Of what followed after this identification I have only the vaguest recollection. Servants rushed hither and thither; Mrs. Cronson dropped off her chair into hysterics; the young ladies gathered round their mamma; Mr. Cronson, trembling like one in an ague fit, attempted some kind of an explanation, while Clare kept praying to be taken away, — only to be taken away. I took her away, not merely from Cronson Park but from Martingdale.
Before we left the latter place, however, I had an interview with Mr. Cronson, who said the portrait Clare had identified was that of his wife’s father, the last person who saw Jeremy Lester alive.
“He is an old man now,” finished Mr. Cronson, “a man of over eighty, who has confessed everything to me. You won’t bring further sorrow and disgrace upon us by making this matter public?”
I promised him I would keep silence, but the story gradually oozed out, and the Cronsons left the country. My sister never returned to Martingdale; she married and is living in London. Though I assure her there are no strange noises in my house, she will not visit Bedfordshire, where the “little girl” she wanted me so long ago to “think of seriously,” is now my wife and the mother of my children.



No fighting in the War Room


Kierkegaard

Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when everyone has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight in order to avoid this? Or are you not terrified by it? I have seen men in real life who so long deceived others that at last their true nature could not reveal itself;… In every man there is something which to a certain degree prevents him from becoming perfectly transparent to himself; and this may be the case in so high a degree, he may be so inexplicably woven into relationships of life which extend far beyond himself that he almost cannot reveal himself. But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all. – Søren Kierkegaard


The Kennedy Center is offering tickets at the special price

The Kennedy Center is offering tickets at the special price of $35.00 for select Orchestra seats for the following performances of My Fair Lady on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at 7:30pm, Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 7:30pm and Friday, January 3, 2020 at 7:30pm in the Opera House Theater. Tickets are regularly up to $99.00 in the orchestra section and $89.00 in 1st tier.
You can click the link below and your discount will appear automatically. If you call or stop by the Box Office for the discount, be sure to mention Offer Number "380986." See you at the Kennedy Center!

·        1/1 7:30
·        1/2 7:30
·        1/3 7:30
MY FAIR LADY
From Lincoln Center Theater comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady.


Opera House Theater
About the Program
From Lincoln Center Theater comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady. Director Bartlett Sher’s glowing production is “thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was” (The New York Times).. Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?
Running Time: Approximately 3 hours
TO RECEIVE YOUR DISCOUNT BY PHONE OR IN PERSON AT THE BOX OFFICE, MENTION OFFER NUMBER “380986”
(202) 467-4600 | Toll-free (800) 444-1324 TTY (202) 416-8524 |
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*Offer subject to availability. Not valid in combination with any other offer. Offer may be withdrawn at any time without notice

John Cheever


Cheever’s main themes included the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character's decorous social persona and inner corruption, and sometimes as a conflict between two characters (often brothers) who embody the salient aspects of both – light and dark, flesh and spirit. Many of his works also express a nostalgia for a vanishing way of life, characterized by abiding cultural traditions and a profound sense of community, as opposed to the alienating nomadism of modern suburbia.



The Swimmer

It was one of those midsummer Sundays when everyone sits around saying, “I drank too much last night.” You might have heard it whispered by the parishioners leaving church,
heard it from the lips of the priest himself, struggling with his cassock in the vestiarium, heard it from the golf links and the tennis courts, heard it from the wildlife preserve where the leader of the Audubon group was suffering from a terrible hangover. “I drank too much,” said Donald Westerhazy. “We all drank too much,” said Lucinda Merrill. “It must have been the wine,” said Helen Westerhazy. “I drank too much of that claret.”

This was at the edge of the Westerhazys’ pool. The pool, fed by an artesian well with a high iron content, was a pale shade of green. It was a fine day. In the west there was a massive stand of cumulus cloud so like a city seen from a distance—from the bow of an approaching ship—that it might have had a name.

Lisbon. Hackensack. The sun was hot. Neddy Merrill sat by the green water, one hand in it, one around a glass of gin. He was a slender man—he seemed to have the especial slenderness of youth—and while he was far from young he had slid down his banister that morning and given the bronze backside of Aphrodite on the hall table a smack, as he jogged toward the smell of coffee in his dining room.

He might have been compared  to a summer’s day, particularly the last hours of one, and while he lacked a tennis racket or a sail bag the impression was definitely one of youth, sport, and clement weather. He had been swimming and now he was breathing deeply, stertorously as if he could gulp into his lungs the components of that moment,  the heat of the sun, the intenseness of his pleasure. It all seemed to flow into his chest. His own house stood in Bullet Park, eight miles to the south, where his four beautiful daughters  would have had their lunch and might be playing tennis.

Then it occurred to him that by taking a dogleg to the southwest he could reach his home by water. His life was not confining and the delight he took in this observation could not be explained by its suggestion of escape.

He seemed to see, with a cartographer’s eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county. He had made a discovery, a contribution to modern geography; he would name the stream Lucinda after his wife. He was not a practical joker nor was he a fool but he was determinedly original and had a vague and modest idea of himself as a legendary figure. The day was beautiful and it
seemed to him that a long swim might enlarge and celebrate its beauty.

He took off a sweater that was hung over his shoulders and dove in. He had an inexplicable contempt for men who did not hurl themselves into pools. He swam a choppy crawl,
breathing either with every stroke or every fourth stroke and counting somewhere well in the back of his mind the one-two one-two of a flutter kick.

It was not a serviceable stroke for long distances but the domestication of swimming had saddled the sport with some customs and in his part of the world a crawl was customary. To be embraced and sustained by the light green water was less a pleasure, it seemed, than the resumption of a natural condition, and he would have liked to swim without trunks, but this was not possible, considering his project. He hoisted himself up on the far curb—he never used the ladder—and started across the lawn. When Lucinda asked where he was going he said he was going to swim home.

The only maps and charts he had to go by were remembered or imaginary but these were clear enough. First there were the Grahams, the Hammers, the Lears, the Howlands, and
the Crosscups. He would cross Ditmar Street to the Bunkers and come, after a short portage, to the Levys, the Welchers, and the public pool in Lancaster. Then there were the Hallorans, the Sachses, the Biswangers, Shirley Adams, the Gilmartins, and the Clydes.

The day was lovely, and that he lived in a world so generously supplied with water seemed like a clemency, a beneficence. His heart was high and he ran across the grass. Making his way home by an uncommon route gave him the feeling that he was a pilgrim, an explorer, a man with a destiny, and he knew that he would find friends all along theway; friends would line the banks of the Lucinda River.

He went through a hedge that separated the Westerhazys’land from the Grahams’, walked under some flowering apple trees, passed the shed that housed their pump and filter, and came out at the Grahams’ pool. “Why, Neddy,” Mrs. Graham said, “what a marvelous surprise. I’ve been trying to get you on the phone all morning. Here, let me get you a drink.” He saw then, like any explorer, that the hospitable customs and traditions of the natives would have to be handled with diplomacy if he was ever going to reach his destination. He did not want to mystify or seem rude to the Grahams nor did he have the time to linger there. He swam the length of their pool and joined them in the sun and was rescued, a few minutes later, by the arrival of two carloads of friends from Connecticut.

During the uproarious reunions he was able to slip away. He went down by the front of the Grahams’ house, stepped over a thorny hedge, and crossed a vacant lot to the Hammers’. Mrs.Hammer, looking up from her roses, saw him swim by although she wasn’t quite sure who it was.

The Lears heard him splashing past the open windows of their living room. The
Howlands and the Crosscups were away. Afterleaving the Howlands’ he crossed Ditmar Street and started for the Bunkers’, where he could hear, even at that distance, the noise of a party.

The water refracted the sound of voices and laughter and seemed to suspend it in midair. The Bunkers’ pool was on a rise and he climbed some stairs to a terrace where twenty-five
or thirty men and women were drinking. The only person in the water was Rusty Towers, who floated there on a rubber raft. Oh, how bonny and lush were the banks of the Lucinda
River! Prosperous men and women gathered by the sapphire colored waters while caterer’s men in white coats passed them cold gin.

Overhead a red de Haviland trainer was circling around and around and around in the sky with something like the glee of a child in a swing. Ned felt a passing affection for
the scene, a tenderness for the gathering, as if it was something he might touch. In the distance he heard thunder. As soon as Enid Bunker saw him she began to scream: “Oh, look who’s here! What a marvelous surprise! When Lucinda said that you couldn’t come I thought I’d die.”

She made her way to him through the crowd, and when they had finished kissing she led
him to the bar, a progress that was slowed by the fact that he stopped to kiss eight or ten other women and shake the handsof as many men. A smiling bartender he had seen at a hundred parties gave him a gin and tonic and he stood by the bar for a moment, anxious not to get stuck in any conversation that would delay his voyage. When he seemed about to be surrounded he dove in and swam close to the side to avoid colliding with Rusty’s raft. At the far end of the pool he bypassed the Tomlinsons with a broad smile and jogged up the garden path. The gravel cut his feet but this was the only unpleasantness. The party was confined to the pool, and as he went toward the house he heard the brilliant, watery sound of voices fade, heard the noise of a radio from the Bunkers’ kitchen, where someone was listening to a ball game. Sunday afternoon. He made his way through the parked cars and down the grassy border of their driveway to Alewives Lane.

He did not want to be seen on the road in his bathing trunks but there was no traffic and he made the short distance to the Levys’ driveway, marked with a private property sign and a green tube for The New York Times. All the doors and windows of the big house were open but there were no signs of life; not even a dog barked. He went around the side of the house tothe pool and saw that the Levys had only recently left. Glasses and bottles and dishes of nuts were on a table at the deep end, where there was a bathhouse or gazebo, hung with Japanese lanterns. After swimming the pool he got himself a glass and
poured a drink. It was his fourth or fifth drink and he had swum nearly half the length of the Lucinda River. He felt tired, clean, and pleased at that moment to be alone; pleased with everything.

It would storm. The stand of cumulus cloud—that city—had risen and darkened, and while he sat there he heard the percussiveness of thunder again. The de Haviland trainer was
still circling overhead and it seemed to Ned that he could almost hear the pilot laugh with pleasure in the afternoon; but when there was another peal of thunder he took off for home.
A train whistle blew and he wondered what time it had gotten to be. Four? Five? He thought of the provincial station at that hour, where a waiter, his tuxedo concealed by a raincoat, dwarf with some flowers wrapped in newspaper, and a woman who had been crying would be waiting for the local. It was suddenly growing dark; it was that moment when the pinheaded birds seem to organize their song into some acute and knowledgeable recognition of the storm’s approach. Then there was a fine noise of rushing water from the crown of an oak at his back, as if a spigot there had been turned. Then the
noise of fountains came from the crowns of all the tall trees.

Why did he love storms, what was the meaning of his excitement when the door sprang open and the rain wind fled rudely up the stairs, why had the simple task of shutting the windows of an old house seemed fitting and urgent, why did the first watery notes of a storm wind have for him the unmistakable sound of good news, cheer, glad tidings? Then there was an explosion, a smell of cordite, and rain lashed the Japanese lanterns that Mrs. Levy had bought in Kyoto the year before last, or was it the year before that?
He stayed in the Levys’ gazebo until the storm had passed. The rain had cooled the air and he shivered.

The force of the wind had stripped a maple of its red and yellow leaves and scattered them over the grass and the water. Since it was midsummer the tree must be blighted, and yet he felt a peculiar sadness at this sign of autumn. He braced his shoulders, emptied his glass, and started for the Welchers’ pool. This meant crossing the Lindleys’ riding ring and he was surprised to find it overgrown with grass and all the jumps dismantled. He wondered if the Lindleys had sold their horses or gone away for the summer and put them out to board. He seemed to remember having heard something about the Lindleys and their horses but the memory was unclear. On he went, barefoot through the wet grass, to the Welchers’, where he found their pool was dry.

This breach in his chain of water disappointed him absurdly, and he felt like some explorer who seeks a torrential headwater and finds a dead stream. He was disappointed and mystified. It was common enough to go away for the summer but no one
ever drained his pool. The Welchers had definitely gone away.

The pool furniture was folded, stacked, and covered with a tarpaulin. The bathhouse was locked. All the windows of the house were shut, and when he went around to the driveway in front he saw a for sale sign nailed to a tree. When had he last heard from the Welchers—when, that is, had he and Lucinda last regretted an invitation to dine with them? It seemed only a week or so ago. Was his memory failing or had he so disciplined it in the repression of unpleasant facts that he had damaged his sense of the truth? Then in the distance he heard the sound of a tennis game. This cheered him, cleared away all his apprehensions and let him regard the overcast sky and the cold air with indifference.

This was the day that Neddy Merrill swam across the county. That was the day! He started off then for his most difficult portage. Had you gone for a Sunday afternoon ride that day you might have seen him, close to naked, standing on the shoulders of Route 424, waiting for a chance to cross. You might have wondered if he was the victim of foul play, had his car broken down, or was he merely a fool. Standing barefoot in the deposits of the highway—beer cans, rags, and blowout patches—exposed to all kinds of ridicule, he seemed pitiful.

He had known when he started that this was a part of his journey—it had been on his maps—but confronted with the lines of traffic, worming through the summery light, he found himself unprepared. He was laughed at, jeered at, a beer can was thrown at
him, and he had no dignity or humor to bring to the situation.

He could have gone back, back to the Westerhazys’, where Lucinda would still be sitting in the sun. He had signed nothing, vowed nothing, pledged nothing, not even to himself. Why, believing as he did, that all human obduracy was susceptible to common sense, was he unable to turn back? Why was he determined to complete his journey even if it meant putting his life in danger? At what point had this prank, this joke, this piece of horseplay become serious? He could not go back, he could not even recall with any clearness the green water at the Westerhazys’, the sense of inhaling the day’s components, the friendly and relaxed voices saying that they had drunk too much. In the space of an hour, more or less, he had covered a distance that made his return impossible.

An old man, tooling down the highway at fifteen miles an hour, let him get to the middle of the road, where there was a grass divider. Here he was exposed to the ridicule of the northbound traffic, but after ten or fifteen minutes he was able to cross. From here he had only a short walk to the Recreation Center at the edge of the village of Lancaster, where there were some handball courts and a public pool.

The effect of the water on voices, the illusion of brilliance and suspense, was the same here as it had been at the Bunkers’ but the sounds here were louder, harsher, and more shrill, and as soon as he entered the crowded enclosure he was confronted with regimentation. “all swimmers must take a shower before using the pool. all swimmers must use the footbath. all swimmers must wear their identification disks.” He took a shower, washed his feet in a cloudy and bitter solution, and made his way to the edge of the water.

It stank of chlorine and looked to him like a sink. A pair of lifeguards in a pair of towers blew police whistles at what seemed to be regular intervals and abused the swimmers through a public address system. Neddy remembered the sapphire water
at the Bunkers’ with longing and thought that he might contaminate himself—damage his own prosperousness and charm —by swimming in this murk, but he reminded himself that he was an explorer, a pilgrim, and that this was merely a stagnant bend in the Lucinda River.

He dove, scowling with distaste into the chlorine and had to swim with his head above water to avoid collisions, but even so he was bumped into, splashed, and jostled. When he got to the shallow end both lifeguards were shouting at him: “Hey, you, you without the identification disk, get outa the water.” He did, but they had no way of pursuing him and he went through the reek of suntan oil and chlorine out through the hurricane fence and passed the handball courts. By crossing the road he entered the wooded part of the Halloran estate. The woods were not cleared and the footing was treacherous and difficult until he reached the lawn and the clipped beech hedge that encircled their pool.

The Hallorans were friends, an elderly couple of enormous wealth who seemed to bask in the suspicion that they might be Communists. They were zealous reformers but they were not Communists, and yet when they were accused, as they sometimes were, of subversion, it seemed to gratify and excite them.

Their beech hedge was yellow and he guessed this had been blighted like the Levys’ maple. He called hullo, hullo, to warn the Hallorans of his approach, to palliate his invasion of their
privacy. The Hallorans, for reasons that had never been explained to him, did not wear bathing suits. No explanations were in order, really. Their nakedness was a detail in their uncompromising zeal for reform and he stepped politely out of his trunks before he went through the opening in the hedge.

Mrs. Halloran, a stout woman with white hair and a serene face, was reading the Times. Mr. Halloran was taking beech leaves out of the water with a scoop. They seemed not surprised or displeased to see him. Their pool was perhaps the oldest in the country, a fieldstone rectangle, fed by a brook. It had no filter or pump and its waters were the opaque gold of
the stream.

“I’m swimming across the county,” Ned said.
“Why, I didn’t know one could,” exclaimed Mrs. Halloran.
“Well, I’ve made it from the Westerhazys’,” Ned said. “That
must be about four miles.”

He left his trunks at the deep end, walked to the shallow end, and swam this stretch. As he was pulling himself out of the water he heard Mrs. Halloran say, “We’ve been terribly sorry
to hear about all your misfortunes, Neddy.”
“My misfortunes?” Ned asked. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Why, we heard that you’d sold the house and that your
poor children . . .”

“I don’t recall having sold the house,” Ned said, “and the
girls are at home.”

“Yes,” Mrs. Halloran sighed. “Yes . . .” Her voice filled the air with an unseasonable melancholy and Ned spoke briskly. 

“Thank you for the swim.”

“Well, have a nice trip,” said Mrs. Halloran.

Beyond the hedge he pulled on his trunks and fastened them. They were loose and he wondered if, during the space of an afternoon, he could have lost some weight. He was cold
and he was tired and the naked Hallorans and their dark water had depressed him. The swim was too much for his strength but how could he have guessed this, sliding down the banister that morning and sitting in the Westerhazys’ sun? His arms were lame. His legs felt rubbery and ached at the joints. The worst of it was the cold in his bones and the feeling that he might never be warm again. Leaves were falling down around him and he smelled wood smoke on the wind. Who would be burning wood at this time of year?

He needed a drink. Whiskey would warm him, pick him up, the swimmer   carry him through the last of his journey, refresh his feeling that it was original and valorous to swim across the county.

Channel swimmers took brandy. He needed a stimulant. He crossed the lawn in front of the Hallorans’ house and went down a little path to where they had built a house for their
only daughter, Helen, and her husband, Eric Sachs. The Sachses’ pool was small and he found Helen and her husband there.

“Oh, Neddy,” Helen said. “Did you lunch at Mother’s?”
“Not really,” Ned said. “I did stop to see your parents.”
This seemed to be explanation enough. “I’m terribly sorry to
break in on you like this but I’ve taken a chill and I wonder if
you’d give me a drink.”

“Why, I’d love to,” Helen said, “but there hasn’t been anything in this house to drink since Eric’s operation. That was three years ago.”

Was he losing his memory, had his gift for concealing painful facts let him forget that he had sold his house, that his children were in trouble, and that his friend had been ill? His
eyes slipped from Eric’s face to his abdomen, where he saw three pale, sutured scars, two of them at least a foot long. Gone was his navel, and what, Neddy thought, would the roving hand, bed-checking one’s gifts at 3 a.m., make of a belly withno navel, no link to birth, this breach in the succession?

“I’m sure you can get a drink at the Biswangers’,” Helen said. “They’re having an enormous do. You can hear it from here. Listen!”

She raised her head and from across the road, the lawns, the gardens, the woods, the fields, he heard again the brilliant noise of voices over water. “Well, I’ll get wet,” he said, still feeling that he had no freedom of choice about his means of travel.

He dove into the Sachses’ cold water and, gasping, close to drowning, made his way from one end of the pool to the other. “Lucinda and I want terribly to see you,” he said over his
shoulder, his face set toward the Biswangers’. “We’re sorry it’s been so long and we’ll call you very soon.” 

He crossed some fields to the Biswangers’ and the sounds of revelry there. They would be honored to give him a drink, they would be happy to give him a drink. The Biswangers invited him and Lucinda for dinner four times a year, six weeks in advance. They were always rebuffed and yet they continued to send out their invitations, unwilling to comprehend the rigid and undemocratic realities of their society. They were the sort of people who discussed the price of things at cocktails, exchanged market tips during dinner, and after dinner told dirty stories to mixed company. They did not belong to Neddy’s
set—they were not even on Lucinda’s Christmas-card list. He went toward their pool with feelings of indifference, charity, and some unease, since it seemed to be getting dark and these were the longest days of the year. The party when he joined it was noisy and large. Grace Biswanger was the kind of hostess who asked the optometrist, the veterinarian, the real-estate dealer, and the dentist. No one was swimming and the twilight, reflected on the water of the pool, had a wintry gleam.

There was a bar and he started for this. When Grace Biswanger saw him she came toward him, not affectionately as he had every right to expect, but bellicosely.

“Why, this party has everything,” she said loudly, “including a gate crasher.”
She could not deal him a social blow—there was no question about this and he did not flinch. “As a gate crasher,” he asked politely, “do I rate a drink?”
“Suit yourself,” she said. “You don’t seem to pay much attention to invitations.”
She turned her back on him and joined some guests, and he went to the bar and ordered a whiskey. The bartender served him but he served him rudely. His was a world in which the
caterer’s men kept the social score, and to be rebuffed by a part-time barkeep meant that he had suffered some loss of social esteem. Or perhaps the man was new and uninformed.
Then he heard Grace at his back say: “They went for broke overnight—nothing but income—and he showed up drunk one Sunday and asked us to loan him five thousand dollars. . . .” She was always talking about money.

 It was worse than eating your peas off a knife. He dove into the pool, swam
its length and went away. The next pool on his list, the last but two, belonged to his
old mistress, Shirley Adams. If he had suffered any injuries at the Biswangers’ they would be cured here. Love—sexual roughhouse in fact—was the supreme elixir, the pain killer, the
the swimmer brightly colored pill that would put the spring back into his step, the joy of life in his heart. They had had an affair last week, last month, last year. He couldn’t remember. It was he who had broken it off, his was the upper hand, and he stepped through the gate of the wall that surrounded her pool with
nothing so considered as self-confidence. It seemed in a way to be his pool, as the lover, particularly the illicit lover, enjoys the possessions of his mistress with an authority unknown to holy matrimony. She was there, her hair the color of brass, but her
figure, at the edge of the lighted, cerulean water, excited in him no profound memories. It had been, he thought, a lighthearted affair, although she had wept when he broke it off.
She seemed confused to see him and he wondered if she was still wounded. Would she, God forbid, weep again? 
“What do you want?” she asked.
“I’m swimming across the county.”
“Good Christ. Will you ever grow up?”
“What’s the matter?”
“If you’ve come here for money,” she said, “I won’t give
you another cent.”
“You could give me a drink.”
“I could but I won’t. I’m not alone.”
“Well, I’m on my way.”

He dove in and swam the pool, but when he tried to haul himself up onto the curb he found that the strength in his arms and shoulders had gone, and he paddled to the ladder and
climbed out. Looking over his shoulder he saw, in the lighted bathhouse, a young man. Going out onto the dark lawn he smelled chrysanthemums or marigolds—some stubborn autumnal fragrance—on the night air, strong as gas. Looking overhead he saw that the stars had come out, but why should he seem to see Andromeda, Cepheus, and Cassiopeia? What had become of the constellations of midsummer? He began to cry.

It was probably the first time in his adult life that he had ever cried, certainly the first time in his life that he had ever felt so miserable, cold, tired, and bewildered. He could not understand the rudeness of the caterer’s barkeep or the rudeness of a mistress who had come to him on her knees and showered his trousers with tears. He had swum too long, he had been immersed too long, and his nose and his throat were sore from the water. What he needed then was a drink, some company, and some clean, dry clothes, and while he could have cut directly across the road to his home he went on to the Gilmartins’ pool.

 Here, for the first time in his life, he did not dive but went down the steps into the icy water and swam a hobbled sidestroke that he might have learned as a youth. He staggered
with fatigue on his way to the Clydes’ and paddled the length of their pool, stopping again and again with his hand on the curb to rest. He climbed up the ladder and wondered if he had the strength to get home. He had done what he wanted, he had swum the county, but he was so stupefied with exhaustion that his triumph seemed vague. Stooped, holding on to the
gateposts for support, he turned up the driveway of his own house.

The place was dark. Was it so late that they had all gone to bed? Had Lucinda stayed at the Westerhazys’ for supper? Had the girls joined her there or gone someplace else? Hadn’t they
agreed, as they usually did on Sunday, to regret all their invitations and stay at home? He tried the garage doors to see what cars were in but the doors were locked and rust came off the handles onto his hands. Going toward the house, he saw that the force of the thunderstorm had knocked one of the rain gutters loose. It hung down over the front door like an umbrella rib,  but it could be fixed in the morning.

The house was locked, and he thought that the stupid cook or the stupid maid
must have locked the place up until he remembered that it had been some time since they had employed a maid or a cook. He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder,  and then, looking in at the windows, saw that the place was empty.
the swimmer 





Isn't this a wonderful drawing?


Thomas Merton's prayer


 “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

– Philip Whalen



I can’t live in this world
And I refuse to kill myself
Or let you kill me
The dill plant lives, the airplane
My alarm clock, this ink
I won’t go away
I shall be myself—
Free, a genius, an embarrassment
Like the Indian, the buffalo
Like Yellowstone National Park.


Frank O'Hara, Joe’s Jacket

Image result for Joe’s Jacket, O'Hara, explanation




Entraining to Southampton in the parlor car with Jap and Vincent, I
see life as a penetrable landscape lit from above
like it was in my Barbizonian kiddy days when automobiles
were owned by the same people for years and the Alfa Romeo was
only a rumor under the leaves beside the viaduct and I
pretending to be adult felt the blue within me and light up there
no central figure me, I was some sort of cloud or a gust of wind
at the station a crowd of drunken fishermen on a picnic Kenneth
is hard to find but we find, through all the singing, Kenneth smiling
it is off to Janice’s bluefish and the incessant talk of affection
expressed as excitability and spleen to be recent and strong
and not unbearably right in attitude, full of confidences
now I will say it, thank god, I knew you would
an enormous party mesmerizing comers in the disgathering light
and dancing miniature-endless, like a pivot
I drink to smother my sensitivity for a while so I won’t stare away
I drink to kill the fear of boredom, the mounting panic of it
I drink to reduce my seriousness so a certain spurious charm
can appear and win its flickering little victory over noise
I drink to die a little and increase the contrast of this questionable moment
and then I am going home, purged of everything except anxiety and self-distrust
now I will say it, thank god, I knew you would
and the rain has commenced its delicate lament over the orchards
an enormous window morning and the wind, the beautiful desperation of a tree
fighting off strangulation, and my bed has an ugly calm
I reach to the D. H. Lawrence on the floor and read “The Ship of Death”
I lie back again and begin slowly to drift and then to sink
a somnolent envy of inertia makes me rise naked and go to the window
where the car horn mysteriously starts to honk, no one is there
and Kenneth comes out and stops it in the soft green lightless stare
and we are soon in the Paris of Kenneth’s libretto, I did not drift
away I did not die I am there with Haussmann and the rue de Rivoli
and the spirits of beauty, art and progress, pertinent and mobile
in their worldly way, and musical and strange the sun comes out
returning by car the forceful histories of myself and Vincent loom
like the city hour after hour closer and closer to the future I am here
and the night is heavy through not warm, Joe is still up and we talk
only of the immediate present and its indiscriminately hitched-to past
the feeling of life and incident pouring over the sleeping city
which seems to be bathed in an unobtrusive light which lends things
coherence and an absolute, for just that time as four o’clock goes by
and soon I am rising for the less than average day, I have coffee
I prepare calmly to face almost everything that will come up I am calm
but not as my bed was calm as it softly declined to become a ship
I borrow Joe’s seersucker jacket though he is still asleep I start out
when I last borrowed it I was leaving there is was on my Spanish plaza back
and hid my shoulders from San Marco’s pigeons was jostled on the 
Kurfurstendamm
and sat opposite Ashes in an enormous leather chair in the Continental
it is all enormity and life it has protected me and kept me here on
many occasions as a symbol does with the heart is full and risks no speech
a precaution I loathe as the pheasant loathes the season and is preserved
it will not be need, it will be just what it is and just what happens.