Tueday 31

I take The Australians back to Bradley International Airport. They have a 36 hour trip ahead of them: Chicago, Los Angeles, New Zealand, Australia, then train, then car. I can't believe one week has passed. What perfect house guests.

Monday 30

Halloween is tomorrow and I feel sad. Sad because this is the first year Daryl and I have't read Halloween stories together. Sad because I won't be walking the neighborhood with him tomorrow night. He's 12. He is "too old," he says for that. Here, for Daryl:

There's a goblin as green
As a goblin can be
Who is sitting outside
And is waiting for me.
When he knocked on my door
And said softly, "Come Play!"
I answered, "No thank you,
Now please, go away!"
But the goblin as green
As a goblin can be
Is still sitting outside
And is waiting for me.

And this:

Once there was a girl named Jenny.
She was like all the other girls,
Except for one thing.
She always wore a green ribbon
Around her neck.
There was a boy named Alfred
In her class.
Alfred liked Jenny,
And Jenny liked Alfred.
One day he asked her,
"Why do you wear that ribbon
All the time?"
"I cannot tell you," said Jenny.
But Alfred kep asking,
"Why do you wear it?"
And Jenny would say,
"It is not important."
Jenny and Alfred grew up
And fell in love.
One day they got married.
After the wedding,
Alfred said,
"Now that we're married,
"You must tell me
About the green ribbon."
"You still must wait,"
Said Jenny.
"I will tell you
When the right time comes."
Years passed.
Alfred and Jenny grew old.
One day Jenny became very sick.
The doctor told her
She was dying.
Jenny called Alfred to her side.
"Alfred," she said,
Now I can tell you
About the green ribbon.
Untie it,
And you will see
Why I could not tell you before."
Slowly and carefully,
Alfred untied the ribbon,
And Jenny's head fell off.
And finally this:
In a dark, dark wood,
There was a dark, dark house.
And in that dark, dark house,
There was a dark, dark room.
And in that dark, dark room,
There was a dark, dark chest.
And in that dark, dark chest.
There was a dark, dark shelf.
And on that dark, dark shelf,
There was a dark, dark box.
And in that dark, dark box
there was---

Sunday 29

Steve is up and outside early with his kids raking my lawn. We usually pay someone to do this as the yard is quite large but he wanted to get outside and do some physically work. Three hours later the lawn was raked! Then snow. A dusting.

Tonight, and throughout the week, the autumn Milky Way is notable for the many star clusters in and near it that invite inspection with binoculars. Particularly attractive is the Double Cluster in Perseus. The total light of this rich scatter of stardust is equivalent to a fourth-magnitude star, so the naked eye sees it as a brighter patch of the Milky Way. With binoculars it appears as two stellar swarms, each about the size of the full Moon's disk. Two other famous clusters are in Taurus. The Pleidaes' naked-eye appearance was neatly described by Tennyson as glittering "like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid." Under good conditions, a normal eye sees six stars in this group, but some keen-eyed obserers have glimpsed 12 or more without optical aid. The Hyades cluster is an easily recongized V configuration of stars close to the red first-magnitude Aldebaran. The Hyades members travel throough space like a flock of geese, their paths ultimately converging toward a point near the star Procyon.

Saturday 28

Most of the day was spent getting ready for the pot-luck supper we were having at our house to celebrate the visit of The Australians. I made Peking Chicken Wings and Vegetarian Lasagna. Steve managed to fix our garage door, which had been broken for the past few years, almost unable to move up and down; turns out the pulley was bent--cost to fix $3.50. Overall, the party was a great success, but for a bit I was rather perturbed,as the food was timed to be served at a special time, two people called at last minute and said they would be one and one-half hours late (these were the salad people). I thought it was rude and inconsiderate as they had known about the pot-luck for three weeks and we timed it specifically so that their kids could all eat first and head on out for their various Halloween parties.

Friday 27

I had a press okay for a 16-page calendar so I had to work most of the day. Betsy took The Australians to The Berkshires to see the Noman Rockwell Museum and for hike. We had pizza and wine for dinner and watched "I know what you did last summer," on TV.

Thursday 26

Today we hiked the Mt. Tom State Reservation. There is an old story about how Mt. Tom and Mt. Holyoke got their names. Among the first English explorers of the Valley, back in the 1630s, were Elizur Holyoke and Rowland Thomas. The story goes that these two were crossing the Connecticut River between the two ranges and Holyoke, having reached the east bank, shouted to his friend that the mountain ahead would be named Mt. Holyoke. Rowland immediately responded by announcing that the mountain behind him would be called Mt. Tom. Dinner: Baked Breaded Chicken cutlets with white wine and capers. Served with rice.

Wednesday 25

Some days at work it's difficult to focus. It's not because of The Australians. It's because this year, for the first time, I have been the opportunity to bid on annual contracts for Columbia House.And any one of these would be worth a lot of money. And whenever I think of this one large piece of business I am reminded of this song:

I've been a roaming Romeo.
My Juliets have been many.
But now my roaming days have gone.
Too many irons in the fire.
Is worse than not having any.
I've had my share and from now on......
I'm putting all my eggs in one basket.
I'm betting everything I've got on you.
I'm giving all my love to one baby.
Heaven help me if my baby don't come through.
I've got a great big amount
Saved up in my love account.
Honey, and I've decided, love divided in two won't do.
So I'm putting all my egges in one basket.
I'm betting everything I've got on you.
-music and words by Irving Berlin
-sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
"Follow The Fleet"

During the afternoon we took a trip to South Deerfield to visit "Magic Wings," the new Butterfly Conservatory. Their mission is to educate and encourage individuals to support the creation and preservation of native butterfly and moth habitats throughout the Pionner Valley of Western Massachusetts. I learn how important milkweed is to the Mlonarch Butterfly. Milkweed has taken over our wild-flower garden over the past few years but now I feel inspired about next Spring's crop of milkweed and the many butterflys that will visit us here at Birch Lane. Dinner: Pot Roast and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Tuesday 24

Steve drove with me this morning to visit a customer outside of Boston. Along the way he talked to me about "symbolic interactionsim," his speciality. Symbolic Interactionism, or interactionism for short, is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology. This perspective has a long intellectual history, beginning with the German sociologist and economist, Max Weber (1864-1920) and the American philosopher, George H. Mead (1863-1931), both of whom emphasized the subjective meaning of human behavior, the social process, and pragmatism. Symbolic Interactionism is an interpretive approach which focuses on the meaning people attach to their actions. It criticises structuralism for portraying people as passive objects driven by social forces. Society for Symbolic Interactionists emerges out of the interpretive processes which people use in the process of social interaction, rather than being an external, objective fact which imposes itself on life. Society is a process in the ongoing creation of which people are actively involved. For sociologists of this persuasion, humans interpret or define each other's actions instead of merely reacting to them. Society is seen as a process rather than a thing--as a creative accomplishment resulting from the meshing of different interpretations during social interaction. Before you can construct a social analysis, you must get close to the actors concerned and establish how they define the situation--what meaning they give to their action. Symbolic Interactionists tend to favor long-term participant observation in the relevant social settings as a research strategy (vs questionnaires or short interviews).

Dinner: Pasta and Meatballs and then off to Danielle's soccer game in Westhampton where is was a very cold 35 degreees. At the game we introduced The Australians to Mary Hamel, wife of Ed Hamel, who has been Danielle's travelling soccer team coach for 8 or 10 years. Mary and Ed's daughter, Corina, is in Norway for two years, finishing high school and traning to be a world-class cross-country skier. Mary asked The Australians about their visit with us and Sue said, "we wanted to save the best for last." Once we arrived home after the game and warmed ourselves up with tea or wine, Daryl was off to the study to finish his homework--a paper on Swiss Family Robinson. Then it 's Danielle's turn on the computer to write a paper on "Why Northampton is Great Town to Live In." And more conversation in the living room about George Bush and Al Gore, and Daryls fainting spells when he was a little child. Danielle and Emma go upstairs to our bedroom to watch to season finale of MTV's Road Rules. Goodnight.

Monday 23

I left work at 10:00 for Bradley International Airport to pick up The Australians, who were arriving from Washington, D.C. where they had spent one week after having spent six weeks in Eugene, Oregon. As soon as we got home we carried the luggage into the basement and walked Daisy. I checked my e-mail and there was a message from Carol. She wrote:

Julie said visiting you was like visiting cousins, which I thought was a neat
way to express how comfortable I felt with your family.  By moving away we
really did all lose something I think.  I went biking with friends yesterday.
Two of the women have sons who are both very well intergrated into a close
knit friends community.  For some reason my kids even before I sent them off
to school always chose friends from all different places.  One of the boys
whose mother I was with is a part of a group of kids that are Holly's age. 
She has intermittently been friends with them.  I guess yesterday I had a
wistfulness that she would have stayed closer to this group.  I am off to the
salt mines shortly.  Hope you have fun with your friends, that should be
great. Hi to Betsy Daryl and Danielle.  Carol

That is, I suppose, the bond between us, The Americans, and them, The Australians. Five years have passed. As Steve said, driving home from the airport, "life is like a soap opera; miss 5 or 30 years/episodes, tune in one day and pick up just where you left off." I am quite honored and happy that they would want to spend the remaining days of their vacation with us--The Americans. Dinner was Pork Tenderloin marinated in red wine, orange juice, cider vinegar, and soy sauce cooked on the grill.

Sunday 22

Company Coming--The Australians. Steve, Sue, Emma, Ned, and Harry. We met them five years ago when Steve was on sabatical at Smith College. Many nights were spent at our house eating salmon and steak, drinking wine and beer, talking. Except for my dad and Betsy's mom, we have never had house-guests for one week. Stay tuned.

Saturday 21

Carol Hess, Summer of 1968

I found a picture of you, OH OH OH OH
Those were the happiest days of my life
--Chrissie Hynde










Friday 20

"From Agbayani to Zimmer: A Primer"

Front page story in today's New York Times, in part, reads:

You know who you are. Your knowledge of baseball is so limited you think that a sacrifice bunt is a kind of religious ritual, that "Yogi" is a term of deference for some rubber-faced guru in New Jersey. In fact, you secretly believe that Bobby Valentine is the stage name of a lounge singer in Atlantic city.......Here now, as a public service, is a very quick Idiot's guide to the Subway Series......First, understand this. Baseball is the greatest game ever created, a game of thoughful pace and sudden excitement, a game in which certain individuals and brief moments freeze in memory and loom in context.For Yankee fans, Mickey Mantle was not just a hard-drinking Oklahoman with a gift for hitting a baseball; he was a god, the personification of a certain Eisenhower-era innocence......The Yankees are at home in Yankee Stadium, a majestic structure in the Bronx where people get misty-eyed remembering Joe DiMaggio's graceful tending of center field. The Mets are at home in Shea Stadium, an afterthought of cement in Queens where people get misty-eyed trying to digest a Shea hot dog......

Thursday 19

From an editorial in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor on the division between Arab and Jew which is traditionally traced to the forced separaion in the desert of the half brothers Ishmael and Isaac. Sarah, driven by fear for the status of her son Isaac, demanded that Ishmael and his mother Hagar be banished. Abraham, father of both sons, consented. Hagar, with a mother's prayer, saved herself and her son. And God provided that a great nation would grow from Ishmael. And likewise, according to promise, a great nation grew from Isaac.

The editors write:

This newspaper will persist in its journalistic efforts and through the prayers of its staff to report on the practicality of spirituality and the usefulness of the worship of God. This newspaper and the periodicals presented by The Christian Science Publishing Society will put on record the advancing steps towards peace. And, those thought-forces that reject or resent peace will find they are exposed to the piercing clarity of God-inspired spirituality that changes, refines, and transforms.

Wednesday 18

Make mine a martini, on the rocks--with Ice from Greenland, please. According to a story in today's New York Times, the defining fact of life for Greenland's 55,000 people has always been the ice sheet, a mammoth expanse nearly three times the size of Texas that blankets 85 percent of their island. Now, entrepreneurs on this Artic frontier think they have figured out how to capitalize on the icecap.

"Three compnaies are drawing up business plans to export to Europe and the United States the No.1 resource of Greenland: pure water. Building on one company's pioneering sales in Europe of Greenland ice, they hope romantics will want to sip drinks mixed with water or chilled with ice cubes that fell as snow when Cleopatra made eyes at Marc Antony. Health buffs, they hope, will want to drink crystalline water that has been locked in the icecap for thousands of years, long before humans started pumping polluntants into the atmosphere."

Tuesday 17

My minister celebrated his 25th year of ministry this past Sunday. I woke at 5:45 in New Jersey (I was at my high school reunion and had gone to bed at 2:45) so that I could have enough time to drive home to Northampton to attend the special service. He said that during the first ten years of his ministry he always felt that he was giving and giving and had yet found a way to receive. He wondered how long he could go on like this. He asked himself "what does a minister need?" To be fed. To be fed to deal with the right challenges of the day. He said he realized it was a sin to let things, his life, go to waste. He asked himself "what am I called to do" and "how can I make the world a better place." He quoted Rumi; you need to be permanently astonished--this is the real work of religion. The second thing you need is love; draw upon love for energy. And the third thing is sacrifice--give the drop that is ourselves; God gives us an ocean. Every monring, he said, my soul needs 10 or 15 minutes to be fed--meditation, prayer, writing. My manna, my meal, my way to to fed, he said, is to be astonished, to become more like a child, gifts are all around us, be nourished by being amazed--it is a great thing to be alive.

Monday 16

It rained today. Our yard is covered with leaves; a giant quilt of red, orange, yellow. When the trees are no longer the giant pumpkins they were just one week ago, almost bare, skeletons, and the air is filled with the musty aroma of autumn, I always think of this poem:

Kicking the leaves, October, as we walk home together
from the game, in Ann Arbor,
on a day the color of soot, rain in the air;
I kick at the leaves of maples,
reds of seventy different shades, yellow
like old paper; and poplar leaves, fragile and pale;
and elm leaves, flags of a doomed race.
I kick at the leaves, making a sound I remember
as the leaves swirl upward from my boot,
and flutter; and I remember
Octobers walking to school in Connecticut,
wearing corduroy knickers that swished
with a sound like leaves; and a Sunday buying
a cup of cider at a roadside stand
on a dirt road in New Hampshire; and kicking the leaves,
autumn 1955 in Massachusetts, knowing
my father would die when the leaves were gone.
Each fall in New Hampshire, on the farm
where my mother grew up, a girl in the country,
my grandfather and grandmother
finished the autumn work, taking the last vegetables in
from the cold fields, canning, storing roots and apples
in the cellar under the kitchen. Then my grandfather
raked leaves against the house
as the final chore of autumn.
One November I drove up from college to see them.
We pulled big rakes, as we did when we hayed in summer,
pulling the leaves against the granite foundations
around the house, on every side of the house,
and then, to keep them in place, we cut spare boughs
and laid them across the leaves,
green on red, until the house,
was tucked up, ready for snow
that would freeze the leaves in tight, like a stiff skirt.
Then we puffed through the shed door,
taking offf boots and overcoats, slapping our hands,
and sat in the kitchen, rocking and drinking
black coffee my grandmother made,
three of us sitting togther, silent, in gray November.
One Saturday when I was little, before the war,
my father came home at noon from his half day at the office
and wore his Bates sweater, black on red,
with crossed hockey sticks on it, and raked beside me
in the back yard, and tumbled in the leaves with me,
laughing, and carried me, laughing, my hair full of leaves,
to the kitchen window
where my mother could see us, and smile, and motion
to set me down, afraid I would fall and be hurt.
Kicking the leaves today, as we walk home together
from the game, among the crowds of people
with their bright pennants, as many and bright as leaves,
my daughter's hair is the red-yellow color of birch leaves, and she is tall like a birch,
growing up, fifteen, growing older; and my son
flamboyant as a maple, twenty,
visits from college, and walks ahead of us, his step
springing, impatient to travel
the woods of the earth. Now I watch them
from a pile of leaves beside this clapboard house
in Ann Arbor, across from the school
where they learned to read,
as their shapes grow small with distance, waving,
and I know that I
diminish, not them, as I go first
into the leaves, taking
the step they will follow, Octobers and many years from now.
This year the poems came back, when the leaves fell.
Kicking the leaves, I heard the leaves tell stories,
remembering, and therefore looking ahead, and building
the house of dying. I looked up into the maples
and found them, the vowels of bright desire.
I thought they had gone forever
while the bird sang I love you, I love you
and shook its black head
from side to side, and its red eye with no lid,
through years of winter, cold
as the taste of chicken wire, the music of cinder block.
Kicking the leaves, I uncover the lids of graves.
My grandfather died at seventy-seven, in March
when the sap was running; and I remember my father
twenty years ago,
coughing himself to death at fifty-two in the house
in the suburbs. Oh, how we flung
leaves in the air! How they tumbled and fluttered around us,
like slowly cascading water, when Johnson's Pond
had not surrendered to houses, the two of us
hand in hand, and in the wet air the smell of leaves burning;
and in six years I will be fifty-two.
Now I fall, now I leap and fall
to feel the leaves crush under my body, to feel my body
buoyant in the ocean of leaves, the night of them,
night heaving with death and leaves, rocking like the ocean.
Oh, this delicious falling into the arms of leaves,
into the soft laps of leaves!
Face down, I swim into the leaves, feathery,
breathing the acrid odor of maple, swooping
in long glides to the bottom of October---
where the farm lies curled against the winter, and soup steams
its breath of onion and carrot
onto damp curtains and windows; and past the windows
I see the tall bare maple trunks and branches, the oak
with its few brown weathery remnant leaves,
and the spruce trees, holding their green.
Now I leap and fall, exultant, recovering
from death, on account of death, in accord with the dead,
the smell and taste of leaves again,
and the pleasure, the only long pleasure, of taking a place
in the story of leaves.

"Kicking The Leaves," Donald Hall (1978)

Sunday 15

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sky was a crystal clear robin's egg blue. The leaves were red, yellow, orange. I'm on my way to my 30th High School Reunion. My playlist for the 3 1/2 hour drive is The Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, 10,000 Maniacs, Lucinda Williams, Dixie Chicks and Radiohead. I think of little along the way except for all the people I'll see tonight who I don't really know, except for a few old friends. And I think of my daughter, Danielle, who can't play soccer for the rest of he year because of a stress fracture. When I arrive at the hotel a woman , who is alone, is checking in. I don't really recognize her but on the elevator I say "So, who are you?" "I'm Maddy," she says and I recognize the name. "I'm Bruce Barone." "Oh," she says, "I remember that name. I was nervous and when I go to sign my name on the registration form my hand is shaking so badly that my signature is totally unrecognizable--it is, in fact, an abstract expressionistic mess. It was 4:30 and I was in my room. What to do now? The reunion starts at 8. Do I go to the lobby and search out old friends. Have a glass of wine. Do I get down on the floor and do 1,000 sit-ups. Iron my shirts. I knew I should have brought a book--the one I started when I was chaperoning Daryl and 5 of his friends on Columbus Day at Six Flags New England, "Me Talk Pretty One Day." I tried to nap but couldn't fall to sleep so I watched the Mets game and then closed my eyes: and tried to meditate. I first say my old friend Mike Tunick and then my neighbor Michael Baser, who had brought along his 14-year-old daughter. Seconds later Tandy Levine and Robyn Hans: "Bruce, Of My God! We were just talking about that time you threw up in eighth grade Math class. Do you remember that?" I didn't. But it was great to see these two; Tandy a friend from elementrary school and Robyn a friend from junior high. Rita, Andy's wife (he was at home as he didn't feel well and I really missed him as he was my best friend from the time I was born till we moved to another town after tenth grade) came into focus next. And so many others. Kris Krail. Kathy Byrnes. Candy. Andrea. Hinda. Bart. Tom. Steven. Elliot. Each name a poem. Bart reminded me of what a good quaterback I was in junior high. Janice reminded me of the time I poked her in the eye with a stick--she still has a scar on her eyelid. I was reminded by someone of how I was friends with both the "hoods" and the "jocks."And everyone said "I remember you with blode hair.When Debbie Feingold said my name, her voice, brought me back to when we played together at Phelps Park. It was a truly memorable night and I'm not giving it its full due right now. I felt such joy and love and for me, after having not seen any of these people in so long, it completed a circle for me.

Thursday 12

I receive from my brother, Dennis, an editorial that he wrote about The Olympics, which appeared in The Hartford Courant on Wednesday, October 11. He writes:

The Golden Age of the Olympics wasn't so golden. The creator of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, spoke a lot of nice words about sportsmanship, but his were bronze medal ideas at best.

Things might have been "a lot simpler in 1896" in the baron's days, as The Courant 's columinist Karen Guzman noted (Town News, Sept. 30, "This Behavior Has Not Been Entirely Ideal; Bad Sportsmanship Abounding"). But it's worth remembering how little one see when one looks back with nostalgia.

True, as Ms Guzman said, "Nike and Wheaties weren't in the picture," but neither were female athletes or men with names like Noah Kiprono Ngenyi. The baron's narrow vision beheld only people like himself, winners all, he believed, just by the fact of their elite birth.

The old prohibition of professional athletes in the Olympics had its origin in a class attitude. Professionals, the baron and his colleagues believed, were representative of the lower classes with all of their vile instincts and behaviors, whereas the amateur, so they believed, represented the best of the gentleman's ethos.

People talk all the time about how once upon a time sports had a certain innocence and purity. Let's not forget that such golden ages occurred before integration, before women's participation.

No, if Baron Pierre de Coubertin has been "turning over in his grave" these past few days, as Guzman suggests, it is not because of Nike and Wheaties, or swimmer Amy van Dyken's spit. It is because Noah Kiprono Ngenyi is on the trck. It is because Ray Allen is on the court.

Why, there's hardly a gentleman amateur of the old school to be seen anywhere at the Olympics. I say, Good riddance.

My brother is a runner for the Hartford Track Club's men's master team, a professor at St. Joseph's college, and published writer.

Sunday 08

The Brown Sisters








Friday 06

Altostratus undulatus

The unusual cloud formation that covered most of Western Massachusetts on Wednesday goes by the name above. The doomsday look, shown here over Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley, was caused by winds clashing at different speeds and directions, called shear, said Curt Osgood, chief meterologist at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. The mixing of cold and warm air also played a role, he said. The cloud formation stretched about 30 miles, eventually making its way to Boston, where I was with my customers from The Christian Science Monitor; as we left the restaurant, I looked to the sky and said, "Look, it appears the hand of God is about to drop down upon us."

Tuesday 03

Today is Daisy's birthday. She is six. We drove from Northampton, Massachusetts to Camden, Maine one cool, dreary day in November. She was the cutest and the liveliest of the litter. She sat first on Betsy's lap, then Danielle's, and then Daryl's on the trip home.

Six years: I started working at Infiniti six years ago. Danielle was ten. Daryl was seven.