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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Time: 2010. Place: New York City.


Staten Island is a little different from the rest of New York City, isn’t it?  This is Mount Loretto, the remains of an old orphanage along the southern shore of the island.  This area is the subject of an essay, “Ultima Thule,” in my forthcoming book about Staten Island.

I (Heart) Hypocrisy.


Here’s the Senate vote on an amendment which would require all new debits to be offset by counterbalancing credits – “pay as you go,” an anti-deficit measure. “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”  The disgust I feel for men without […]

The Catskill Samovar.


Looking at the picture, you would think I was shining an orange light on the stove.  But that’s the metal glowing from the heat inside.  This winter’s achievement is becoming adept at cooking on this stove, small as it is.

Pushkin’s Tales of Belkin.


When the snow is heaped up high all around your doorway – when the stars twinkle devilishly in the frigid air – when your friends are far away, and the peacefulness of a winter’s evening is all your own – what better pleasure is there than to lay back in an old recliner, face your […]

Paulus, the first hermit.


In Latin first (from the breviary), then my free translation after. “Paulus, eremitarum auctor et magister, apud inferiorem Thebaidem natus, cum quindecim esset annorum, orbatus parentibus est.  Qui postea declinandae causa persecutionis Decii et Valeriani, et Deo liberius inserviendi, in eremi speluncam se contulit: ubi, palma ei victum et vestitum praebente, vixit ad centesimum et […]

Stopped me in my tracks when I read it…


“The most coveted gift of the Devil is the power of revenge.” – Helen Luke Ugh.  How terrible it is that so few of us have lives short enough not to know the meaning of this.

Bellantibus amantibusque omnia permittuntur.


You can understand the reasoning behind some of these customs of the Sacae (according to Aelian): “The horses of the Sacae, when they lose their master, wait for him to jump on again.  If someone wishes to marry a girl, he fights her in single combat.  And if she proves the stronger she leads him […]

Humor and Proportion.


I was speaking to a friend recently, in the presence of his wise wife, and the topic of conversation turned to the successes or failures of our high school education.  We went to the same Jesuit school, and complaining about Jesuits is a traditional theme for learned conversation.  My friend lambasted the education he received.  […]

Tracking the Bear.


I left around 11:30 this morning to follow the tracks up the mountain.  Any doubts I had were quickly resolved; the tracks went underneath low-lying branches and in certain places the pawprints were crystal-clear.  It was indeed a bear, wandering around in mid-January. For the most part the tracks were clear.  They came to one […]

Neighbors or Neighbears?


Coming home yesterday I was surprised by a large set of tracks coming from the mountain, crossing my driveway, and continuing downhill.  I presumed they belonged to a man, but I had never seen human tracks on my property before, and hunting season is over.  The person apparently was out for secrecy too, because instead […]