Intermission: A to Z Meme
Scat-singing in the summer of '95
A brief break between the St. Augustine photo sets -- and taking a cue from Brenda (Rubies in Crystal)....
accent: Although I was born and raised in Brooklyn, folks tell me they're surprised to hear no trace of a "Nu Yawk" accent from me. (That all changes for a while after I've watched a Barbra Streisand movie.) Once, when I was a kid, someone thought I had a Philadelphia accent, at a time before I'd ever visited Philly.
booze: I rarely have more than one or two alcoholic drinks a week, but when I do more likely than not it's a dark beer. Alas, it seems Guinness Triple Stout is no longer available in the US.
chore I hate: I have a love-hate relationship with weed-whacking, which I do rather than mowing because it creates less wear and tear on the yard. On the plus side, this labor-intensive approach lets me see some cool local wildlife -- like bees enjoying our pusley, and the snake (an indigo, I think) that suddenly shimmied out of a culvert.
dogs/cats: Daisy and Red, two domestic shorthair cats. I've written about them in "The Quadruped Kids".
essential electronics: CD player, computer, digital camera, and now voice recorder (see "Of Sound Mind") coming in as a runner-up.
favorite perfume/cologne: I don't wear perfume, but my favorite scented soap is Maja. Partly because of its scent, but now also because Red goes nuts over it. A Maja wrapper is better than catnip. (Described in "Earthshine and Other Joys".)
gold/silver: Silver. Like Brenda, I am drawn to its lunar aspect, and have been ever since I was a kid.
hometown: Brooklyn, NY
insomnia: Let's just call it "shifted circadians." I usually sleep pretty solidly, but I find I've become more of a night person since I moved down here, especially now that I live on flex time. This is especially useful during our hot Florida summers, and can be wonderful for stargazing in the early morning hours, as Mary and I did the morning of May 28.
job title: When asked to list my occupation I put down, "Communications" -- which includes writing, editing, word processing, desktop publishing, tape transcription, teaching, mixed-media art, photography, music, and whatever else I can fit under that umbrella, as detailed here. In my old place of employment, where the label outside my office read, "Administrative Assistant," I had added "Den Mother and Ambassador to Mars" underneath.
kids: None. In December 1983 I had myself voluntarily sterilized (mentioned in "Finding Common Ground") and have never regretted that decision. Marge Piercy's poem "The Sabbath of Mutual Respect" had made me aware of laparascopic sterilization.
living arrangements: Mary and I share a 26-year-old single-level house in a quasi-rural (but quickly developing) area. Furniture is largely 1960s Brooklyn, from my childhood. To this we've added many, many filled bookshelves and filing cabinets, various art pieces, and much clutter, which the cats occasionally rearrange. When we moved here we planted trees and shrubs in a largely empty yard, and we let non-invasive volunteers plant themselves. "Portrait" describes some of the decor.
most admired trait: I never asked!
number of sexual partners: Since December 1995: one.
overnight hospital stays: 10 weeks in 1966 from a near-fatal car accident, detailed in "Name one event that changed your life."
phobia: roaches (not a good phobia to have in Florida) -- discussed further in "A Night With Max".
quote: There are so many of them! I'll choose one from the several I have on my wall. From Helen Keller: "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
religion: I was raised a largely non-observant Jew, but my spirituality draws from a variety of disciplines and my own home-grown practices, some of which are described in "Altar".
time I usually wake up: Depends on when I go to sleep! Both are highly variable. For example, I went to bed at around 6 AM on May 28 and slept until around noon. Mary and I had been out on the driveway with telescope and binoculars. The sky had been so clear that we could see not only the Milky Way but its Great Rift.
We tried unsuccessfully to find the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra (our low-end but still very satisfying scope is completely manual -- no computer, no clock drive), but I caught an artificial satellite while I trained our Astroscan almost directly overhead. Checking Heavens Above, the closest I could find to it was the Spot 3 Rocket (launched in September 1993), an Ariane 4 third stage booster for the French "Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre 3." But Heavens Above lists only those artificial satellites with a magnitude of 4.5 or brighter. The object I saw in the scope was dim, which makes me think it was a satellite not covered by that Web site.
Soon, though, Mary spotted Venus rising between two distant trees, and we swung our Astroscan toward that. From what I could tell its phase was a waxing gibbous: like the Moon, Venus goes through phases as seen from Earth. (Sure enough, the May 26 "Astronomy a Go-Go!" says, "Just over half full she is intensely bright in her gibbous phase.")
We were hoping to catch Jupiter's Great Red Spot, but that planet was already too low in the West for us to get a decent look at it. Mary shielded her eyes while I thanked the paper delivery person who drove up about an hour before sunrise with that day's St. Petersburg Times.
unusual talent: Scat-singing. Put me in a room with musicians jamming an improv and I'll harmonize. The more complicated the musical progressions, the more I like it. In the photo up top I'm scat-singing at a summer 1995 party for bicyclists with whom I would do the first Boston-New York AIDS Ride. (I documented my preparation for and participation in the Ride in a six-part series of articles, reproduced here.)
vegetable I refuse to eat: Okra. I could never get used to its texture. Otherwise, I generally love vegetables. When I was a kindergartener I remember being with my mother at our local Key Food grocery and reaching out to grab one handful after another of green beans out of the vegetable bin. She didn't seem to mind my episodes of petty theft. Neither did the store personnel.
worst habit: Putting pressure on myself, though little by little I'm improving.
x-rays: Probably a bunch back in 1966 after 2 broken legs and ruptured intestines (again, see "Name one event that changed your life"). Plus dental x-rays. Plus my left index finger, which I broke while hiking on slippery rocks in 2001.
yummy foods I make: Been a long time since I've cooked; I'm the type to just open up a can. Except for rare occasions we've shut off the electricity to the stove because 99 percent of our cooking is in the microwave. But I grew up across the street from someone who worked in a spice factory, so I am better at making marinades and soups than at baking.
zodiac sign: Libra.