Friends of mine once saved for a trip to Europe by emptying their pockets at the end of each day and placing any money in a big plastic jug. Occasionally, when short of cash, they had to turn the jug upside down and withdraw a bill or two with a pair of tweezers, but the system worked. After a couple years, they bought plane tickets and were on their way.Read more
Most summers I’ve had a fruit and vegetable garden, but rarely has my summer reading included much about gardening other than nursery catalogues and seed packets and basic how-to articles. This year has been different. My Summer in a Garden by Charles Dudley Warner, first published in 1870, has had my attention, and it’s a book I’ve found hard to put down.Read more
The difference between man and woman is the force that hauls life forward (as the Talmud remarks) and the origin of everything that is most beautiful in our world. I thought I understood that, but I didn’t until my father died. The whole can transcend the sum of parts, and that’s why Judaism deems marriage sacred. I never truly understood that either.Read more
Lately my home life has felt like a camping trip. I have been waking at 3 a.m. or so and staring. Stirring at night is one thing—rolling over, drifting into semi-consciousness, having a stray thought or two either to be remembered or not remembered in the morning—but staring is quite another. In the weeks since May, when my father died, those stray thoughts have been vivid enough to seize my attention. Then they bring with them other thoughts, practical and metaphysical. After a few minutes, I’m wide awake.Read more
Morning comes like a great bird, sailing over the dark curve of the earth to illuminate the hills and trees. Dawn arrives like an angel’s burning sword, expelling night from the garden of this world. Sunrise melts to fresh dew the last wisps of frost across the lawn, a diamond sparkle in the golden angle of the sun’s first rays, and in the background always plays “Morning Mood,” the opening movement of Grieg’s first Peer Gynt Suite.Read more
I have an issue with issue—with the word, that is. It pops up everywhere, meaning everything and meaning nothing. One hears of a pitcher who has rotator-cuff issues, of a landlord who has issues with pets in his buildings, of a bill up before Congress that poses jurisdictional issues. A weather reporter informs me that dressing warmly in a snowstorm is the main issue. The issue over reinstating the draft is whether soldiers serving only two years can be of serious military use.Read more
According to my mechanic, that burning smell emanating from my car’s vents was caused by an oil leak near the camshaft synchronizing sensor underneath the right side of the engine. Unfortunately I had no idea what he was talking about. He lost me at camshaft.Read more
Anyone who has toured a house for sale in the past few decades knows that walking into a child’s bedroom is a little like entering a trophy shop. The trophies might be neatly arranged on shelves and tabletops, or strewn haphazardly across the floor; and they might be measured in feet, rather than inches, in height. But whereas trophies by the dozen would once have suggested the home of an Olympic champion—or the lair, at the very least, of a college All-American—today they largely signify participation.Read more
Towards midnight one night last week I walked miles down the pitch-black European shore of the Bosphorus, the 15-mile channel that splits Istanbul and Turkey in half. To any watcher of TV news, that will sound nuts. Fifteen million people have converged on Istanbul in recent decades, cramming into just-thrown-up tenements and dirty slums. The demographics are skewed towards the young, the unscrupulous, and the criminal. Turkish youths do not figure prominently among America’s biggest admirers.Read more
This morning I was reading along in Vladimir Jabotinsky’s remarkable novel The Five, when I came to a chapter titled “Inserted Chapter, Not Intended for the Reader.” The chapter, it turns out, is about nature writing. Jabotinsky’s narrator, a writer, notes that a critic remarked on the absence of descriptions of nature in his work. He, the narrator, goes on to say the reader “doesn’t read descriptions of nature; I at least always skip over them mercilessly.” He goes on to mention that he doesn’t understand why God, among his other mistakes, created winter.Read more
Recently I was fingerprinted for a work ID. Sitting at a little table across from a gentleman who, like many federal employees, wore his ID badge and metro card around his neck, I concentrated on rolling my right thumb just so over the scanner between us, from the leftmost edge of the nail to the flat, fleshy center before lifting straight up. Then I did it again. And again. And again.Read more
Type in your email
address to get started:
Thank you for signing up for the Jonathan V. last newsletter! You should receive your first newsletter very soon.
We're sorry, there was an error processing your newsletter signup.