THE BROTHERS CALCASOLA HAVE ARRIVED!

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At 6:20 a.m. Bobbie and I received a phonecall from Bobbie’s daughter (and my beloved stepdaughter) Kim announcing that the moment had come.  She and husband Sal were on their way from home in Enfield, Connecticut, to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford for the birth of their sons.  By 8:34 a.m. Bobbie and I were on a train leaving Grand Central for New Haven, an email confirming our car reservation at Avis in the New Haven station in my pocket.  At 10:31 Benjamin Thomas Calcasola, then known as Baby A, emerged by emergency Caesarian Section, to be followed a minute later by Christopher Eugene Calcasola, then known as Baby B.  At noon Bobbie and I were holding these new humans in our arms.

       

Kim and Sal are doing very well.  He’s gotten some sleep and she a shower.

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 As for us grandparents, for us it couldn’t be better!

Published in: on April 26, 2007 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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All in the same city…

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Highbridge, the Bronx             Ralph’s, Staten Island  

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Under Brooklyn              

It’s right about here that I began getting crazy.  It seems that I cannot master the process of uploading photos to this page, despite the (blind) luck I’ve had with it before and even the 3 that made it above.  Now, it’s not my place to burden you with a rant against the folks at WordPress who designed this page any more than it is to give you the half-baked poem that I began and abandoned in favor of the photographs or the other rant about not getting comments on my blog entries which I thought to replace with the poem which was ultimately replaced with 3 of the 7 photos I’d hoped to post before knocking off for the night to watch the Simpsons and have a second go-round at last night’s delectable dinner (chicken and yellow peppers stir-fry, multi-colored pasta, guacamole, a spicy red pepper spread and “Oriental” salad with a nifty orange dressing.) {Breathe deeply…deeply}

 100_1588.jpg  OK, so deep breathing works.  I have no other explanation of why this snap, taken on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue not far from the Whitney Museum, would grace us with it’s presence at this time when the (S&^$&*( photograph resisted emblogging for about 45 minutes.  Maybe it’s time to breathe again (Let’s see what happens…)

 100_1368.jpg   And here it is, a little number from noneotherthan Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  Have I discovered something big here?

(Later, much later:) What I’ve discovered that the machine has a mind of it’s own and a conscience that owes nothing to me. I’ve also been informed that it’s time for dinner.  Remember you can enlarge the snaps by clicking on them.

 Love to all…

Published in: on April 22, 2007 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond…

Just about twenty-four hours ago, maybe it was forty-eight, I wrote an entry for this space using a method I learned from Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing down the bones. Simply, one begins by placing the pen or pencil in the upper left hand corner of a blank page and writes and writes and does nothing but write. No reading what has been written. No correcting spelling or grammatical or punctuation or any other possible errors. No crossing out. Just keep writing until the pre-determined time period has ended or the hand hurts too much or you run out of paper or ink. Being bored or running out of things to write are not legitimate reasons to quit. Rather they become topics of the writing. Something like…

…and so in conclusion let me just restate that never before in the history of human kind have such wonderous thoughts beens s et to paper. (Damnit, what do I write about now? I can’t believe that there’s nothing left to say. Not hing coming to mind at all. There’s bot to be something to write about. I promised myself I’d keep this up for at least 20 minutes and I[‘ve got at least 3 or 4 to go…

Anyhow I had written about working with koans at a seven day Ch’an retreat at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center about 6 weeks ago, about how I’d struggled to the end of my logical abilities to make sense of this Zen puzzle and still came to no answer. Then, as it is supposed to happen if one is sufficiently open, the investigation jumped outside the realm of the logical. One afternoon, standing along side a creek rushing with snow melt, all sorts of ego and emotion made their unbidden appearances, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by feelings of nausea and loneliness–the likes of which I’d not felt since my first marriage ended in 1974. Only this time it was quite clear that these feelings were not being thrust upon me. I was creating them myself–or better–the ego was doing it.

At this point the writing exercise began to imitate the koan work. I’d reached the end of the koan stuff (I’d thought) but was commited to writing more. Without planning I found myself describing the interior I encounter whenever, on my bike, I approach the top of East Clinton Avenue. East Clinton is a mammoth stepped hill which descends the New Jersey Palisades a few miles north of the George Washington Bridge. I can easily reach 45 mph on this descent. As I near the top, the initial “o boy!” thoughts are chased out of my skull by the “what-if” messages of Logic:What if somebody backs out of a driveway?Or crosses an intersection?Or there are pebbles on the road?

Or oil slick?

Or some oncoming fool decides on an unsignaled left turn right in front of your zippy ass?

Images of Goldberg as roadkill, of ambulances, of weeping family members as far away as Taiwan compete for space in my cinema brain.

Here the brain shuts down and the emotions kick in: anticipation, a kind of wordless concern, anxiety, fear. As I begin the drop feelings progress into outright fear, omygod fear, mind-changing fear, resignation-fear and then…a white-noise of no feelings as it becomes evident that feelings are as irrelevant as logic. With feelings gone comes pure response to the ride, comes “WHEEEE!!! Not out of control. Not in control. Control is simply no longer a factor.

Now the connector between the koan work and the hill are most neatly stated in another koan:

The priest Shih-shuang said, “How do you step from the top of a hundred-foot pole?”

How, when you’ve reached the limit of your secure, verifiable, testable and provable logical process, to you take that additional step into the insecure, unverifiable…ultimate spiritual realm? Birds have to be nudged out of the nest. My long-time-not-seen friend, The Mole, insisted that the only thing to get him to leave the security of his parents’ apartment was them closing the place down and moving out of state. For many of us it is that “leap of faith, the belief, not that all will work out as we might wish it to, but that this is what is called for at this moment. Beyond that, whatever happens we will be able to handle it.

When an addict decides to go sober this selfsame leap of faith is involved. So too, I think, for the immigrant who moves to a new land without the promise of anything. Each may create his own suffering of fears and hopes (two sides of the same egoistic coin) or, by simply doing what must be done, avoid the suffering, stay better focused on the reality and thereby increase chances of success.

At any rate, 24 or 48 hours or so ago when I was at about this point in the exercise, just after I’d launched into a bit about how, when we take these leaps, we leave behind who we were and become whoever comes next, I hit the “save and continue editing” button and the entire essay disappeared. Disappeared. Vanished from my hand. Gone. Poof! The life-follows-art conspiracy strikes again.

Another koan:

It is said that throughout his career as a rail-splitter, Abraham Lincoln always had the same axe. During that time he went through 3 handles and 2 heads.

Published in: on April 16, 2007 at 9:03 am  Comments (1)  
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