Thursday, April 26, 2012

My bread

Here is the loaf of bread right out of my oven, which I need every week but never knead, the no-knead bread courtesy of James Leahy of the Sullivan Street Bakery, NYC.

Sunday, April 22, 2012



猫じゃ猫じゃと おっしゃいますが 
猫が 下駄履いて 絞りの浴衣で来るものか 

はい,ニャン ニャン ニャゴ ニャゴ。

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rrringing ear

Tuesday morning last week, 10 April, I got up and found my left ear had lost hearing, almost totally -- very faint.  There was also ringing and hissing.  I had to meet a friend at the Met Museum at 10:00.  So, I rode a bus and went; I had to walk on her left to converse with her with my good right ear.  By the afternoon, when I was on my way back, I regained some hearing.  The next morning, I heard faintly but by the time I sat down for breakfast, I could hear.  But the ear felt muffled, and with the left ear alone, the words were blurred somewhat -- a sort of analogy to blurred vision.  By the end of the week I heard well enough though considerably less well than with the right ear.  I could rule out the Ménière's Disease since I didn't have vertigo and suffered no loss of balance.  Still, I decided to do some homework. I googled for "a sudden loss of hearing in one ear", and there were several entries; the one of the Mayo Clinic was especially helpful.  It said that causes and treatments are uncertain but a prompt medical attention is important.  Very useful.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I was awakened by the alarm, which sounded faint.  I tested the left ear by closing the right with a finger, and I didn't hear any ringing of the alarm. After ten minutes, hearing came back.  But, urged by a friend, I made an appointment with my personal doctor and I was able to see her at 1:30; she immediately contacted the otorhinolaryngologist or ENT in her circle (oh, a wonderful word this, otorhinolaryngology, my favorite after sphygmomanometer), and urged her to squeeze me in so that I could see her right away.  So, I went; I told her that I ruled out the Ménière's Disease for lack of vertigo and unbalance, and figured that it's sensorineural, just to show off my "erudition" in my usual naughty way. I also told her that I tested hearing with a tuning fork.

The otolaryngologist (for short) prescribed steroids (Prednisone), which I picked up on my way home, and I started the tablets, this morning, Friday, at breakfast, the first four at once of the daily four for three days, then three at once for three days, two after that, and finally one -- altogether 30 tablets in one week, I was admonished that I should keep strictly to the regimen, or else the steroids do no good at all.  So, by the end of 12 days, I may start growing hair on my chest and arms and become muscle-bound. Oh, well.  This afternoon, I went to see the audiologist for an audiogram, which she said wasn't too bad.  Then, at the time of this writing, the end of the day, the steroid treatment is already showing the effect; the words are heard much more clearly in my left ear. So, I seem to be well on the recovery; my ear doctor -- otorhinolaryngologist -- was away today but she is supposed to call me on Monday.

Life meets bumps here and there, up and down, often when least expected, to give it spice it needs to be lively.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wise counsel

It is gratifying to read in Zdenka Fantlová’s Terezín memoir, The Tin Ring, that when she started the grammar school back in Rokycany her father inscribed in the new leather-bound notebook he gave her these words of wisdom:
             Never envy, never slander, never despair;
             wish well to all, work hard and hope.
I like the wise counsel; I tried to live my life s best as I could following these ideas.

At other times, he told the daughter when she complained something is too hard to learn: “Never say something’s too hard to learn. If a circus elephant can learn to walk on bottles, you can train yourself to do anything. If you really want to, that is.”

On yet another occasion, he said: “Never try to have too much of anything in life! Just see that you have what you need and a little more. That’s good enough. When you die all you will take with you is what you’ve given to other people.”

So true, so true.

Monday, April 16, 2012


The French, it has been said, admired Shakespeare and claimed him their own, arguing that he was born in France and was christened Jacques-Pierre, and the silent “s” remained as a sounded consonant in Shakespeare. This is a fanciful notion initiated by none other than Sigmund Freud, according to his biographer Ernest Jones (1953-57).

In Amy Freed’s 2001 play “The Beard of Avon,” a young man from Stratford-upon-Avon, inspired by the touring players, goes to London to be an actor and is hired as a silent spear shaker, and eventually finds his talent in doctoring plays to be put on stage, and starts writing his own plays under the pseudonym Shake-Spear as well as serve as a ghost-writer for amateur playwrights at Queen Elizabeth’s court. I like this conceit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Towers of Fagel

I've finally trashed a few weeks ago some 250 empty yogurt tubs that I, a notorious packrat, accumulated over a thousand days. But before trashing I made them into four Towers of Fagel and photographed them. 

The creamy Greek yogurt that I like and consume a quarter of one tub every morning with fruits -- berries, peaches/nectarines, apples, etc., depending on the season -- is called “Fage”, and the label cautions that it is pronounced “fa-yeh”, hence the Towers of Fagel (pronounced “Fah-yehl”). I have the fruit-and-yogurt faithfully as the first course of my breakfast, most often followed by bacon, a fried egg, toast, and black coffee.

A dear friend of mine with astute eyes for details pointed out that Rembrandt’s Eyes (Simon Schama’s fat volume) is peeping between the towers with the Classical Art (an Oxford History) and the Sistine Chapel accompanying them. I’ve also noticed then that the magenta four-volume set is Vasari’s Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Archiects, and beyond the Art Deco bronze dancer appears the “Square of Saint Peter’s,” a Philippe Benoît lithograph. Though it is blurry, the volume by the tallest tower, above Rembrandt, is Time Capsule 1933, which marks my birth year. So, most fortuitously, the photograph fairly made a self-portrait of this art historian.

Tottering together

It is an endearing sight to see a frail elderly couple, both unsure of their footing, the husband gallantly holding out his arm for his wife to hold on and yet the two dearly holding up each other as they hang on each other and tottering on together step by step.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Yellow tulips on Park Avenue NYC
with a Yellow Cab at the right top corner

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Ring Cycle

The Ring lost and found
Wagner’s gods rage until dawn --
Ravish us to death.