northern cardinal

February 1, 2023 2023, diario/journal


Where do I start?
For the first time, I put out a bird-feeder and after two weeks of no visitors, the wilds of the Northside found it. Now, I’m refilling it every day.
Each morning, they – some 50 winged wilds – keep me company as I drink my espresso and eat my Costco corn muffin. On a dreary winter morning, their chirping, fluttering, littering, their bickering are all welcome. (Since January 1, Pittsburgh has had 4 sunny days.)

The Roman Church is truly going through a wormhole. Dead Cardinal Pell, who is currently residing in the third ring of the seventh circle, is screaming because The Argentinian is talking about homosexuality. (It’s like a fat priest crashing the dinning hall at Auschwitz. Can’t you just picture it – his mouth covered in cake crumbs, his cardinal-red train fluttering behind him as he grabs his gold pectoral-cross and screeches, ‘Gluttony is a mortal sin; you’re all going to burn in hell.’)

And what about the German Georg Gänswein? Yes, he’s so smart, he writes a book instead of screaming. He screeches, he rants, he scribbles all about a dead Latin rite – OMG. Maybe a train fluttering in the Vatican breeze would settle his Hun heart? What about tea with Cardinal Burke; Leo could wear his ermine collar and bring his ‘train-boy’? No? Methinks the lady doth protest too much.


The above image is shot through a window with a screen, hence its blurry quality. And compared to all the other wilds that come to feast, this Northern Cardinal female is hefty, full-figured.
The featured image is by Kelly Flanagan. I follow her on Twitter.

first of spring

February 24, 2023 2023, diario/journal

Though a tremor of the winter

Did shivering through them run;

Yet they lifted up their foreheads

To greet the vernal sun.

  • the snowdrops are no where to be seen
  • on Thursday, temperatures here reached 70 degrees
  • in Los Angeles, low 40s are announcing spring
  • in Oxford, Michigan the trees are sheathed in ice
  • today, the crocus in the back flower-bed bloomed
  • a year ago, Putin invaded Ukraine
  • but, Americans are obsessed with an asshole in North Carolina, and an asshole in Florida
  • the world has gone topsy-turvy

The stanza, to the right of the image, is from The Crocuses by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.


March 4, 2023 2023, diario/journal

17 days
till the vernal

The pots sit ready; the rocks lean left; and the sun is setting on the rich, white psychopaths.

Last year, I got rid of many items – rocks, cinder-blocks, bricks, planks, pots, decorations. But in simplifying, I didn’t have time to organize what was left. This year, with a stripped-down, minimized area, I ordered what remained.

Sometime at the beginning of April, I will fill the pots with violets – the first planting.


art by
Andrea Kiss


March 11, 2023 2023, Carousel, diario/journal


Magnani e Pasolini

Venice, 1962

We are the sum of our experiences; uniquely defined by our memories.

We spend a lifetime gathering a collection of treasured object and symbols.
Each of them holding a tiny fragment of our identity.

I’ve been wanting to do a set of posts that present the various images in my head – fragments that belong to another time, another country, another sensibility.

These image-slivers have been with me all my life, and now I realize they’re memories.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. L.P. Hartley, “The Go-Between“.


Anna Magnani
The above image represents all the pictures in my head of Italian immigrants at weddings. Real people dancing; dancing before the reality of Lee Harvey Oswald, before the horrors of Vietnam, before the unraveling of Catholicism, and before the assimilation into a Canadian dullness.
But Magnani is real; she’s luminous; her mouth hangs with laughter; her simple black dress caresses her body. There’s fun, there’s heat.
Living in Sault Ste Marie, in a Calabrese community, in the 60s, I had relatives like Magnani.

Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini, with his back to the camera, heralds what’s coming; he’s the reality of Last Tango; he’s the horror of AIDS; he’s the unraveling of the lies of the 1950s; and he’s the assimilation of blacks, women and gays.
But Pasolini is hidden; his head is down; he’s contorted. His vented jacket covers his ass; his pointy shoes squeeze his feet. There’s disquiet; there’s fear.
Living in New York in the heady, lewd 70s, I had friends like Pasolini.


Both the above image and the featured image of Magnani are from online.
The quote is from an episode of Vienna Blood.


March 29, 2023 2023, Carousel, diario/journal


Bruna, Mario, Anita

June 24, 1968

Gonna buy me a long white robe
I’m gonna find me a smilin’ angel

This second image fragment is also from that long-ago. We’re at the Sault Ste Marie airport and I’m leaving for Toronto. My final destination is the Christian Brothers Novitiate in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Talk about a leap into the unknown.
My friends drove me to the airport; Bruna was ‘going with Rainer’; Anita was dating Ron. I’m holding my Slazenger tennis racket with its wooden press – OMG. In a weird twist of fate, it became my ticket into the upper echelon of the Brothers – OMG squared.

The way I feel is like a robinWhose babes have flown to come no moreLike a tall oak tree alone and cryin’When the birds have flown and the nest is bare


A Slazenger
Living in Northern Ontario, in that long-ago, life was about assimilation into the ‘English’ culture. The Slazenger racket was a symbol of having left behind my immigrant roots. Brandishing the talisman let slip from memory my very Italian name. And the long-ā, Canadian pronunciation, of my very Italian name, disguised its foreign origins.
We lived in a town with a French name, but looked down on our French-Canadian neighbors; we bought Slazenger equipment – it was the racket of Wimbledon; we had names like Bruna, Mario, Anita, but we weren’t Italian; I was going to a monastery, but we’re posed like a vacation picture.

In Sault Ste Marie, in the 1960s there were tennis courts at every municipal playground. My friends and I, played tennis as often as possible. Taking my racket with me, was the equivalent of today’s kid taking a basketball with him to college.
However, walking onto the ocean-front campus of the Christian Brothers Novitiate with a tennis racket sent a message; a message I was oblivious of. But that summer, I played tennis with all the mucky-mucks vacationing in the mansion and cottages on the property; I even played tennis with a New York Mafia don.

In May of 57, my family left Calabria for Canada. In June of 68, I left Sault Ste Marie for Rhode Island – never to live in Canada again.

The featured image for this post is the 1966 cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s first solo album. Imagine, I took it with me to a monastery. Also, the two quotes – Gonna buy me and The way I feel – are from songs on that album.


April 18, 2023 2023, Carousel, diario/journal


le viole

by a stream
in aprigliano
in 1954

the smell of violets hidden in the green
pour’d back into my empty soul
and frame the times when I remember
to have been joyful and free of blame

This third entry is about two remembrances that are forever intertwined. Two memories – my father leaving for southern France, and me sitting by a trickling stream surrounded by violets – are fused together. In reality the two events were probably not related, but memory and synapses don’t care about timestamps or separateness.

Two Stories



Left image (L to R): Antonio – Totonnu – my father’s first cousin and best friend, and my dad.
Right image (L to R): all men from Aprigliano who went to south-western France for work.
(far left, my dad. in the middle Totonnu.)

South-western France
– In the picture on the left – the doll in front of my dad, was a gift for my mother.  The doll came with us to Canada; but my mother put it on top of a lamp in their bedroom on Henrietta Street in Sault Ste Marie and it caught on fire and burned.
– The other souvenir that came with us to Canada was a small wall-statue of Our Lady of Lourdes; it glowed in the dark. (My dad and his friends went to Lourdes; it wasn’t far from where they were working.)

– In the picture on the right – the man in the middle is my cousin Totonnu; the man to his left immigrated to Canada and traveled with us from Naples to Halifax. I don’t know his name, and I have no idea where he ended up in Canada.


Left image – Our family house in Aprigliano. Our was the last house before the fields. The alleyway led to town.
Middle image – Me on the steps going up to my dad’s vineyard. The path is also how I would get to the small stream.
Right image – the lower tier of the vineyard that is now abandoned.

Trickling Stream
– Beside our house in Aprigliano were a series of plots that families rented for vineyards and vegetable gardens. Among these plots, my dad worked a small, two-tier vineyard and I went with him whenever he worked the vines.
– Because our house was next to the fields, my friends and I spent hours exploring and playing in and around the gardens, the chestnut trees, the oak trees, the vineyards. If we wanted away from the adults, we followed the path. A small stream and its bog hid further down the dirt path shown in the middle image.

– I remember retreating to the stream the day my dad was leaving for France. A safe place with its violets, trickling waters, its wet moss – all soothed a sad seven-year-old. But, I stayed too long; by the time I got back, my dad had left.


it begins

The last time I was in France was some 20 years ago – I was a younger man and was there with Rick and Sarah and their daughters Shana and Mimi. We landed in Paris and after a couple of days we headed south-east towards the Italian border. Our destination was Verona because we couldn’t find accommodations in Venice, so we just visited.

That long-ago trip had many memorables:
– in Paris, for lunch, the girls had horse-meat hamburgers
for dinner, that same day, I had tripe at Au Pied du Cochon
Mimi and I went out and got pastries for breakfast
Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise was littered with weed-roaches
the top of Gertrude Stein’s grave-marker was covered with small stones

This time, eight of us are traveling – Rose and Derrick, Mary and Dom, Rick and Sarah, Frank and I. We’ll be in Paris for two-and-a-half days and then we’re going to Burgundy for a seven-day canal-barge cruise.

Both the featured image and the above picture are from the Internet.
The flag in the Arc de Triomphe has always been one of my favorite symbols of France.
The man in the vineyard points to Burgundy and the wines we’ll be savoring while being spoiled cruising the Canal de Bourgogne.


day 1

rue Jules César

and we’re off

We got here using different airlines, and Frank is still back in Toronto. He will join us tomorrow.
I’ve never been to Charles de Gaulle Airport and let me tell you it was both efficient and overwhelming. You go through customs before getting your luggage and getting through customs was horrible. Got through but it reminded me of Lima and its masses of humanity. Same was true waiting in lines to get through to have my passport almost ignored.

We decided to take the RER-A commuter into town. The train barrels through several northern arrondissements as it heads south towards the center of Paris. The City of Lights is organized very differently than most American cities. In the US, whites, middle and upper middle-class people live in the suburban rings that circumscribe large metropolitan areas. In Paris it’s the reverse and on the RER we saw how modern Paris is organized.

Our hotel is at 13 rue Jules-César – poor Caesar, even in modern times he gets assigned and ‘unlucky’ number. Personally, I love the address.


day 2

up river

& round the bend

I’m continuing to use the gold-leaf sculptures atop columns and plinths as the featured images. Today’s sculpture is atop the Pont Alexandre III bridge pylon.

Rather than walk all the way up river, we decided to buy tickets on a hop-on/hop-off boat that cruised up and down the Seine. Our first stop was Le musée du Louvre. The story we will all take from this our first stop of the day, is that Dom got lost – hey, he was doing his thing. And being a good, frugal Canadian, he was damned if he was going to turn his phone on and pay the soul-sucking provider $15 a day. So we had no way of phoning or texting him. Naturally, I texted his kids back in Pickering telling them we had lost their father in the middle of Paris. After all, we all want to know of any breaking news, right?

But the more lasting experience was at Le Musée de l’Orangerie and interacting with Monet’s surreal, fascinating and other-worldly water lilies – le célèbre cycle des Nymphéas. At the entrance to the oval gallery, the notice asked that we remain quiet and respectful. I laughed; in Florence you were asked to remain quiet and respectful in the Medici Tombs; in Paris we are asked to remain quiet and respectful when interacting with beautiful art. I may have been born in Italy, but my sensibilities are certainly more French than Italian.

en bourgogne4

day 4

we made it

Frank is missing, yes we know; but it’s a great pic.

First, let me tell you why there is not post for our 3rd day in Paris – I walked out and forgot to put the camera card in; I left it in the reader. So, I have no pictures of the Picasso Museum and our day in Le Marais.

On Sunday, early afternoon, staff from the Barge picked us up at our hotel and we drove the 3-hours to the small village of Vandenesse-en-Auxois.

What followed was a gastronomic super-bowl.


July 21, 2023 2023, diario/journal, France-2023

I’m home as you can see, but my camera equipment, laptop and thumb-drive are in Toronto. The Paris airports strike again. I’ve NEVER gotten out of either airport without some hassle.

Should have everything back Sunday and will be able to process all the pictures from the amazing trip.

Stay tuned to read about Sarah’s phone falling into the canal and recovered by a scuba-diving Emile; Herve NOT being Spanish; Frank getting lost on the not-a-towpath; the new light fixtures in L’église Notre-Dame de Dijon …

words, words, words6

July 22, 2023 2023, diario/journal, France-2023

day 2 –


The French for waterlilies is nénuphars; sorry, English has the better word.

The Italian for sunflower is girasole – turns to the sun; girasole has motion, sunflower is static.

The French for Queen-Anne’s-lace is carotte sauvage; the English is elegant, the French pedestrian.

The Musée de l’Orangerie is church – you walk in and you’re transfixed, made holy. Monet’s waterlilies have replaced the statues, the crucifixes, the stained glass, the incense, the candles. The rectangular nave gives way to infinity space. We’re not looking for salvation; we are the children of François Rabelais; we are the children of The Revolution.

So we pray to blue, to yellow, to green. We pray in silence and we pray alone.

The above image shows the infinity design of the two galleries that showcase Monet’s amazing paintings.
Also, the featured image for this post is from the Louvre courtyard. Many of the statues decorating the parapet that runs outside the second floor have been restored. The featured image is of the statue of François Rabelais