not me, too!

it’s a black and white world right now

I know, talking about the snow is getting SO OLD.  Posting pictures of the snow, the same. But I haven’t done so yet this year, and even though I’ve been living in the north for 7 years now, snow is still an exciting thing for a Texan – especially this much snow.

As much as I complain about the soul suck of my job, one good thing about it is that for the most part, it’s possible for me to work from home if I need or want to. And today I wanted to, because of the silly pronouncement of the “snowricane” or “snowrnado” (depending on which weather site you pick). Reports of Gusting! Winds! UP TO 75 miles per hour! Days and days of power outages expected! Watch out! And also: back alert weather. The snow is heavy, and you might hurt your back so watch out.

We haven’t had the winds – at least here in Manhattan – but it has been snowing without stopping all day long. It started snowing before 7am and there hasn’t been a moment’s pause. Some hours the flakes are huge, like monarch butterflies, and other times they’re normal sizes. The trees are hanging with heavy snow on the branches – all the way out to the tips, hanging heavy. The snow is so wet, it falls in fists off the ends of the branches. It’s really pretty. I sit at a desk right by the window and work work work, pausing to glance out the window at the beautiful view. Want to see?

practically my back yard
pretty lampposts
Riverside Drive - so empty!
the end of my street

I know they look like black and white photos, but they’re not. It’s just a black and white world right now. Very very pretty – especially since I get to just watch it out my window.

Tonight I hope to get some knitting done, and I have a LOT to get done this weekend: making the pillows using my new fabric, finalizing a syllabus, and cutting out that wedding dress I still haven’t cut out.

WOTN Mondays

in which I can hardly put two words together

Same as last week. Work (and life) are kicking my butt, man. Nothing new on the knitting front, and not much else to speak of. How boring. I bought some fabric to cover some new throw pillows for our living room couch, from Bolt44. We have hardwood floors, and an oriental rug in front of the dark brown leather couch. The rug has dark blue, some tan, a lot of brick(ish) reddish color. Here’s the print for the pillows, then:

So I’ll do that next weekend, something handy-dandy to look forward to, assuming I make it through this hellish week.

I want these pants, from this store:

soft cotton ticking fabric, soft elastic waistband, lightly rolled bottoms. heaven and red!

OK, I’m doing nobody any good here. My brain she is fried – off to have tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Fancy!

tabs I can’t seem to close

various things that have caught my imagination this week

The knitting goes on – I’m on the 2nd red Hedara sock now (but I’ve encountered 3 color-interrupting knots in this ball of Felici!!), and the wedding shawl moves on, and I’ve balled the yarn for Katie’s socks. Not much to show, really. So for now, here are some tabs I’ve had open all week and can’t seem to bring myself to close them:

Do you know Slaughterhouse 90210? The blogger (or is it more properly the tumblr) posts a mash-up of a TV screenshot with a literary quote, like this one that keeps me coming back:

“What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human … is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.” — David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

That concept right there is why I love David Foster Wallace. Have you read his commencement speech at Kenyon College? NO?! Then click here to read it, right now.

Thanks to my 2nd daughter, I am a Moby-Dick-aholic. It is a thoroughly amazing work, full of magnificent imagery and excellent psychology. Lyrical passages that will make you cry, and leave you unable to read anything else for a long time. That’s what happened to me. This daughter has been enamored with sperm whales and giant squids for a very long time, and the images find their way into her work. So when she sent me a link to this story about the whale whisperer, I had to read it immediately. And the images – this one reminded us both of one of the most incredible scenes in the book:

they just hang upside down like this for a very long time

and p.s., listen to this episode – animal minds – of the great podcast RadioLab, for a great story about a man’s relationship with a whale. It made me cry.

And finally – from Seattle Sundries, these handmade soaps look aMAzing. I want to buy a bar of this right away:

Made to clean and eliminate unwelcomed cooking odors such as fish and garlic from hands, this soap truly is bitchin’! The borax adds extra cleaning power, while the ground espresso beans lend a slightly abrasive texture and combine with cinnamon leaf essential oil to counteract strong odors. Unfortunately, now you’ll have to quit yer bitchin’ in the kitchen!

Check out all the soaps, they’re cleverly titled and I imagine that they’ll each smell wonderful.

We’re off to Ikea and Home Depot – we’re repainting the apartment, adding some color to the kitchen, and redecorating the bathroom, for starters. Everything is white right now, but we’re adding some nice yellow to the walls in the kitchen. Photos to come!

oh yeah! Yoko!

yoko ono is following me!

It means absolutely nothing, but it sure made me laugh. I got this in my email :



To answer the obvious questions:

  1. YES – that says that Yoko Ono is now following my tweets.
  2. YES, it’s the real Yoko Ono. I saw an interview with her and she gave her twitter name so of course I decided to follow her. It’s Yoko! I love her! I follow a few famous people – authors, mostly – and of course I follow them and they don’t follow me. But Yoko followed me back, how bizarre!

I guess I’d better step up the quality of my tweets. Which means doing any tweeting at all. 🙂 I just don’t get it, as I’ve said before! What would I tweet? “should i have another cup of coffee?” “getting ready to send another email” “i just read a terrible manuscript” “think I’ll knit for a while” PLEASE. I have a twitter account just so I know where the cupcake truck is, and which neighborhood the waffle truck is visiting on a given day.

Still – I’ll probably never again get an email saying that Yoko Ono is following me.

not my scene, man

What a disappointment. As I mentioned yesterday, I was SO excited about the Night of Knitting at the City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival. All day long, I kept thinking about it with something like glee. I didn’t have lunch, saving my appetite (and calories) for all the yummy offerings in the evening. I brought my knitting, and was excited about getting to knit with others, in a big room full of knitters.

I had an hour to kill before the doors opened at 7, so I walked around. It’s in an area of Manhattan that I rarely/never visit, so it was all new to me. It was cold, and my backpack was extra heavy since I planned to work at home on Friday, so I had my laptop and sheafs of papers in it, along with everything else. By the time I headed over to City Bakery, I was tired and cold. At 6:35, I thought I’d just walk past it to be sure I knew where it is, and WHOA. The line was already all the way down the block. So I scurried over there and took my place, so far away that I couldn’t see the door of the bakery.

Since the event was sold out, one of the City Bakery guys periodically walked the line to be sure no one was there thinking they could just buy a ticket at the door. And then he said these dreadful words to the women standing behind me: “Yeah, there are 220 people signed up.” A gasp went up in the group who could hear him. 220 people?! Really? There’s no way that many people could fit in that space!

But that’s what they did. The event organizers left in enough tables for people to sit in the various workshop groups, and almost no others. I guess they just took the maximum number of people allowed by the fire code and sold that many tickets…..but I’m telling you, that does not leave a space conducive to a nice evening. On top of that, it’s winter, and people were wearing big coats and having to carry their stuff with them, so it was nearly impossible to walk around the place.

The advertisement said you could take a workshop or just bring your own knitting and sit with that…..but there were no tables for people to sit and knit. So you had to stand (if you could even find a place to stand) and hold your food and drink(s) and knit. And expect to be jostled and pushed around by the crowd.  I threw down one little shot of lemon pie hot chocolate (gross) and another of banana peel hot chocolate (not my fave) and left. It was such a relief, getting out of that crushing crowd.

I saw other people leaving, too, and when I was trying to make my way through the crowd, people were angry, rolling their eyes and grumbling. Bad event planning, City Bakery. I won’t fall for that one next year. Since it is an annual event, they must count on a whole new crop of people each year, because surely no one who attended last night would want to go again next year.

Too bad……….dashed hopes for a lovely evening. It happens.

random threads

a little of this, a little of that. hot chocolate and knitting, to start!

#1. Nothing screams “woman of a certain age” like a big fan on the desktop blowing on medium speed. During the month of February. In very cold Manhattan. What’s next for me – red hats and purple sweaters? 🙂

festival!

#2. Tonight is Night of Knitting at the City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival. Am I excited?! I’m restraining myself from rampant and later-embarrassing overuse of exclamation points. I’m a very shy person who rarely leaves home, except to go to work, but I’m looking forward to being in this place tonight, full of strangers who also knit and love hot chocolate. For $30, City Bakery provides a full (and sumptuous, I’m sure) dinner, plus dessert, and unlimited wine, beer, coffee, and 10 kinds of hot chocolate. Plus, knitting workshops galore, local yarn shops representing, and a spinning workshop. The event sold out weeks ago, so I’m glad I hopped on it as soon as it was announced. I don’t know a soul (unless I don’t know that I know you through rav), but I cannot wait.

#3. Very sadly, since there’s just not enough time in the day/week, I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like. I belong to a book club that meets once a month, and it takes me the entire month to get the book read. Some months I can’t even accomplish that. Last month’s book was just wonderful – Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri, as was this month’s book – The Partisan’s Daughter, by Louis de Bernieres. It’s not always the case that I like (or can even bear to read) our group’s selections, so it was great having two in a row that were rich and wonderful. I even finished The Partisan’s Daughter a few days early, so I flipped to the menu on my Kindle en route to work this morning and started reading The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, by Twyla Tharp. It’s written with an easy tone, as if she’s just talking to you, and so far it’s good – about the discipline and routine that feed creativity. I am a creative person, but in the realm of craft, not art. I have loved books and words with great intensity, my whole life. My mind spontaneously produces wonderful images and metaphors. A couple of weeks ago, I described a feeling of being a hollow shell full of birds. Wow! Evocative, powerful, and apt. But when I sit down to write, everything flattens. All psychological depth disappears and I write “and then she blah blah blah, and then he blah blah blah. And then they blah blah blah.” BO-RING.

Like many people, I have a sense that if I could just let go, I could be more creative. Of course, that’s easy to say! But when you sit at your desk, how do you “let go?” I do like the idea of discipline and routine as an entry to a creative process, so maybe I’ll try that. Anyway, the book is good, applicable to anyone who is (or wants to be) creative in any way, and not at all New Age-y or mysterious. You might be touched by God, as Mozart was said to be, but he also worked harder than anyone else, and was much more disciplined than the movie Amadeus suggested, so his gift worked because he worked it.

And, it’s Thursday – halle-flippin-lujah!

WOTN Mondays

what’s on YOUR needles? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!

If you’re in the know, WOTN means what’s on the needles? Maybe I just made that up. Anyway, now you’re in the know too, so feel free to adopt WOTN Mondays for your own use, if you think you might be lazy on Mondays and need a guaranteed post. Ha. Not that I’m lazy today…..

So, WOTN! Item #1, the wedding shawl. Nupps are “fun.” I won’t show the shawl in its entirety, to preserve the surprise, but little bits here and there seem ok. Case in point: nupps.

nupps (unblocked, of course)

Next up on the needles: socks for my youngest daughter (nonrav link), whose dorm floors are very cold. I want to finish them by the time she comes home for spring break in a couple of weeks, so I’m alternating these with the shawl. (Doesn’t that gusset look mighty huge to you? It does to me.)

A's socks

While not technically on the needles, these are destined to be on the needles very soon – sock yarns chosen by my oldest daughter. Katie, which one do you want me to use first?

Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock: Beverly
Knit One Crochet Too: Meadow

And finally, in this brief period between snows, I walked over to Riverside Park – my back yard, kind of – and I took a picture I take over and over, in all seasons. Here it is today:

winter view

And here it is a few months ago, and a few before that:

November
May

Seeing the park blanketed with snow, and ice in the Hudson River, made me think about Lent. I didn’t grow up in a church that focused on Lent (ours focused on the fun combination of both fire and brimstone), and I’m not religious in that way, but the idea of it struck me. There’s a longing for life to come – the life that’s pent up in the trees and plant life buried under the snow. The wheel turns, it’s bleak now, but rejuvenation is coming. It’s coming. The world will begin again, as it always does.

diary of a V-Day Eve

It’s been one of those 2 steps forward, 3 steps back kind of days. I spent the morning redoing things on the blog – things like tracking down plug-ins, finding dumb API keys, rediscovering the widgets I’d used, rewriting my “about” page, stuff like that. I’d been happy with things the way were, so I wasn’t working in the spirit of doing it right/better this time, but rather trying to recreate what I’d had. Ah well. I’m mostly there, just minus all my posts.

On the knitting front, I made it through the entire part of the shawl chart with the big set of nupps. And they were fun! I definitely learned how to do them better by the last row of them, but I was happy enough. Then, knitting the last set of lace rows to complete the chart, and *clunk*. Something was way wrong. After each row – partly due to overweening pride – I’d stopped, stretched out the lace, admired it, looked for problems, found none. After each pattern repeat, I rechecked the stitches. If each pattern repeat was correct, and each row was correct, I’d be in good shape, right? And yet I’d really screwed up something, somewhere. How hadn’t I seen it in all my looking?! Too much pride, too much “look, isn’t that cool what I did?” I guess. And so I had to pull that whole section out. Had I put in a lifeline? NO.

So I held my breath, got out a small tapestry needle and a roll of dental floss, and tried to put one in, below the nupps chart. A tiny little stitch at a time, through the cobweb-weight lace. plink. plink. plink. plink. plink. Across the row…..and then pull pull pull pull, unknitting. It worked, and so now I begin again. At least this time I’ll do the nupps pretty well from the very first row. So with the shawl too, I’m back where I started.

My sweetheart and I have been dieting – him on Atkins, me on low-cal – but here it is, Valentine’s Day (tomorrow). We’re going out for dinner at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Awash, and then we’ll come home for something sweet. He really loves blueberry coffee cake, so I just popped one in the oven. Photos of a slice tomorrow, but for now, The Making of the Coffee Cake, followed by its recipe.

rich batter chock-full of blueberries
sprinkled with a yummy streusel topping, ready to bake

Want to make it yourself? Here’s how:

Continue reading “diary of a V-Day Eve”

The night before flying, and all through the house…

Packing and unpacking and repacking and mind-changing and general disarray. For all my dedicated readers (r-i-g-h-t…) I thought you’d like to see my bags. Those are piles of small bills arranged on top of the stuff in the suitcase on the left.

For those who are keeping track of things: T minus 1 day!

Preparing to prepare for take-off

This is a little anticipatory blogging. On Thursday night, when I’m actually pulling into Newark airport, (a) it’ll be dark, and (b) I’ll be too excited to (c) take pictures of boring old Newark International Airport. So, just to kick off the trip, I decided to post a picture of my starting point.

My airline seat is assigned, my suitcases are out, clothes are being arranged in stacks, last-minute purchases are being made, various itineraries are printed out, drugs are collected, and lists are being made. The most critical list for me, given my recent sudden onset Alzheimer’s, is the “oh my god don’t forget to do THIS!” list.

T minus 2 days….

Find the Fish Head: Tonight’s Food Research


So you can tell where our minds are: Tonight’s research is brought to you by a restaurant called Cha Cha La Vong. Doesn’t it look wonderful?!

The details are falling into place; I got my backpack, he’s organizing all the rest, including paperwork and meds and food and … well, everything else.

T minus 3 days.

The Long Haul

Our trip looks something like this:

Singapore Airlines A340-500 ultra long-haul flights present operational challenges.
While Charles Lindbergh’s recounting of his battle to stay awake on his epic 33.5-hr. flight from New York to Paris in 1927 is probably of little interest to the passengers on Singapore Airlines’ ultra-long-range flights, it still is fundamental to the success of the operations, which since February 2005 have offered travelers the only nonstop service to the Lion City from Newark. Average flight time for Singapore-NY is 18 hr. while the trips home clock in at 19 hr.

But we’ll be traveling in comfort, even though the flight is so damned long:

And we’ll fly over the North Pole…how cool is that!

After a few hours hanging around the (apparently) luxurious Singapore airport (I know, but that’s what “they” say), we fly to Hanoi:

T minus 7 days and counting…..


i’m not the kind of girl who gives up just like that

Oh no-o-o-o!

So, yeah! Music is really jerking me around right now — oh so sad, singing my broken heart, and oh so upbeat, singing my hope and huge world of possibilities. Coming on the heels of the previous post, with water under the bridge, today the tide is high! Whee……

This morning Katie and I drove to the far side of San Antonio to pick up my new car. Wanna see? It’s an adorable little Toyota Prius c, which is the low end of the Prius spectrum (they call it the “affordable” end) — but it’s mighty great for me. And the little screen in the dash reported that I was getting 52-54 miles per gallon all the way home. Take that, you gas and oil hijackers.

When I get settled — probably at the beginning of the year, since I’m going back to NYC Dec 13-17 — I’m going to join the local chapter of the Threshold Choir. In Austin, there are 6 women in the choir, so come January there will be 7. I can’t wait for that. And I’ll need to get started looking for a book club, and I’ll start the process of organizing a poetry group. 

Things are looking up. I now have keys to something, and soon I will have keys to my new home. For 48 hours I didn’t have a key to anything or any place, and it was not a nice feeling. It’s funny how that feels, and by ‘funny’ I mean not funny at all. This was a theme in Another Bullshit Night in Suck City — keys and homelessness — and I thought of that book during my brief bout of keylessness.

I know there are all kinds of soft spots that I don’t know about, potholes, hidden hard things that I just haven’t thought about, like the loneliness of a Sunday afternoon (I’ve heard widows say that is the hardest time of the week), but after the past month, I feel like I can handle whatever is still ahead. I’m feeling more optimistic, and stable. I am going to be OK.

precious object

The copyright year on this sweet little book is 1965, which means I received it when I was just barely 7 years old. And oh, I remember opening the present as clearly as if it happened a month ago. My dad’s mother, whom I called Mamo (pronounce it ma’-maw), gave it to me for Christmas because I was the bookish grandchild. She’d placed it in an old cigar box, along with a new pair of underwear. I don’t remember the wrapping paper at all, probably because I was so thoroughly dazzled by the book inside (or maybe because that was 47 Christmases ago and I’m doing well to remember where my keys are). A real chapter book, a hardback book, a book of my very own, to keep. She’d taken me to the library when I was 4 so I could get a library card when I visited her in Tyler, and I was a serious borrower-of-books. I remember walking with her to the library, sweating in the incredible east Texas summers, but really just so eager to get to the library (and then home again with my stash) that I didn’t mind the heat too much. My dad was also bookish, so I think she felt that connection to me.

Honestly, I have no idea how in the world I still have this book. I’ve moved so many times, and for a couple of years I was homeless in high school. Where did I keep the book then? I can’t remember — maybe in my locker at school? I lived in a 1964 Nash Rambler one of those years, and I know my few books were stashed in the back seat. My car possessions included a few books, an agate chessboard and pieces from Mexico, some clothes, and a portable record player and some records. Many years when I was growing up we were constantly on the move, and in some cases, I just had a small shoebox of my belongings, ready to go at a moment’s notice in case we left without our stuff. That’s always where I kept this book — along with a pair of underwear, a hairbrush, a bottle of pink sparkly nail polish, and a toothbrush. The essentials.

In the years my kids were little, whenever we moved to a new place Katie had a couple of items she put away first, so she felt like she was home: her Barbie Dream House, and a little painting of Jesus. For me, it was this book. I’d place this book on a shelf somewhere in the house, and I was home.

The pages are brown and crumbly now, and I hold my breath when I turn them. But I do turn the pages and remember down in my very bones how it felt to read this book when I was a very little girl, how I identified with Jo (and still think about reading books in an attic with a bowl of apples like she did), how entranced I was by a boy named Laurie, so close to my name but for a boyhow heartbroken I was every single time I got to Beth’s death. I longed for a mother like Marmee. I read the books that came after, including Jo’s Boys, but none were as meaningful to me as Little Women.

These kinds of little objects, so incredibly precious, can never really communicate to anyone but the owner. My kids know about this book, and know what it means to me, but it can never mean very much to them except as a book their mother loved. But to me it holds my child’s heart, my sweet little dreams and joys; to me it’s one of the few warp threads that’s been on the loom since the beginning, and even though it’s frayed a little bit, it’s still mighty strong. It’s the only thing I own from my childhood. I have a few small things that mean a lot to me, but except for my children’s baby things, this one means the most.

I’d love to hear about your most special little thing . . .

good thing of the day: being able to make really good food for myself, like last night’s dinner of rosemary chicken, jasmine rice, and fresh spinach. 

precious object

The copyright year on this sweet little book is 1965, which means I received it when I was just barely 7 years old. And oh, I remember opening the present as clearly as if it happened a month ago. My dad’s mother, whom I called Mamo (pronounce it ma’-maw), gave it to me for Christmas because I was the bookish grandchild. She’d placed it in an old cigar box, along with a new pair of underwear. I don’t remember the wrapping paper at all, probably because I was so thoroughly dazzled by the book inside (or maybe because that was 47 Christmases ago and I’m doing well to remember where my keys are). A real chapter book, a hardback book, a book of my very own, to keep. She’d taken me to the library when I was 4 so I could get a library card when I visited her in Tyler, and I was a serious borrower-of-books. I remember walking with her to the library, sweating in the incredible east Texas summers, but really just so eager to get to the library (and then home again with my stash) that I didn’t mind the heat too much. My dad was also bookish, so I think she felt that connection to me.

Honestly, I have no idea how in the world I still have this book. I’ve moved so many times, and for a couple of years I was homeless in high school. Where did I keep the book then? I can’t remember — maybe in my locker at school? I lived in a 1964 Nash Rambler one of those years, and I know my few books were stashed in the back seat. My car possessions included a few books, an agate chessboard and pieces from Mexico, some clothes, and a portable record player and some records. Many years when I was growing up we were constantly on the move, and in some cases, I just had a small shoebox of my belongings, ready to go at a moment’s notice in case we left without our stuff. That’s always where I kept this book — along with a pair of underwear, a hairbrush, a bottle of pink sparkly nail polish, and a toothbrush. The essentials.

In the years my kids were little, whenever we moved to a new place Katie had a couple of items she put away first, so she felt like she was home: her Barbie Dream House, and a little painting of Jesus. For me, it was this book. I’d place this book on a shelf somewhere in the house, and I was home.

The pages are brown and crumbly now, and I hold my breath when I turn them. But I do turn the pages and remember down in my very bones how it felt to read this book when I was a very little girl, how I identified with Jo (and still think about reading books in an attic with a bowl of apples like she did), how entranced I was by a boy named Laurie, so close to my name but for a boyhow heartbroken I was every single time I got to Beth’s death. I longed for a mother like Marmee. I read the books that came after, including Jo’s Boys, but none were as meaningful to me as Little Women.

These kinds of little objects, so incredibly precious, can never really communicate to anyone but the owner. My kids know about this book, and know what it means to me, but it can never mean very much to them except as a book their mother loved. But to me it holds my child’s heart, my sweet little dreams and joys; to me it’s one of the few warp threads that’s been on the loom since the beginning, and even though it’s frayed a little bit, it’s still mighty strong. It’s the only thing I own from my childhood. I have a few small things that mean a lot to me, but except for my children’s baby things, this one means the most.

I’d love to hear about your most special little thing . . .

good thing of the day: being able to make really good food for myself, like last night’s dinner of rosemary chicken, jasmine rice, and fresh spinach.