Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Erica and I gossiped our way through a lunch of Sezz Medi pizzas the other day and then ducked in to the TC bookstore to look for, as Erica so perfectly put it, a "fat pencil."  (She's tutoring a child sadly lacking in fine motor skills and was on a mission to find a bigger, better writing instrument for him.)

The lovely bookstore ladies helped us find what we were looking for and then, though pressed for time, we both paused in the notebook section and stood there for a moment running our fingers over the covers, up and down the spiral bindings.

I started to explain to her my longtime love for notebooks, the different colors, the different covers, the single and multi-subjects, and how very grown up I'd felt when I made the switch, back towards the end of elementary school, from wide to college ruled paper.  She nodded seriously and said, "Yeah.  Didn't it make you feel like you just knew so much?"

Yeah, it did.  And it took a long time to figure out how little I really knew, even if I did write only in college-ruled notebooks after that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ILL is like a pitbull

I'd forgotten that I had put in an InterLibrary Loan request for The Girl Who Owned a City months ago, back when I was writing yet another blog post about the end of the world.

Then an email came this morning informing me that it had arrived and was available for pick-up.  So I went trotting on over to Butler Library during my lunch break this afternoon, enjoying those moments in the cold crisp sun, and came back with this, from the public library of Madison, Wisconsin:

"A killing virus has swept the earth, sparing only children through the age of twelve.  There is chaos everywhere, even in formerly prosperous mid-America.  Gangs and fierce armies of children begin to form almost immediately.  It would be the same for the children on Grand Avenue but for Lisa, a ten-year-old girl who becomes their leader.  Because of Lisa, they have food, even toys, in abundance.  And now they can protect themselves from the fierce gangs that roam the neighborhood.  But for how long? Then Lisa conceives the idea of a fortress, a city in which the children could live safely and happily always, and she intends to lead them there."
-back of the book, The Girl Who Owned A City, by O. T. Nelson

And the author bio? Even better:

"O.T. (Terry) Nelson founded one of the most successful house-painting enterprises in the country, College Craft Enterprises, which has become nationally known as an example of the libertarian philosophy at work. In 1976 he sold his business to travel and to write. Currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mr. Nelson is working on sequels to this book."

(Just for the record, those sequels never came to fruition, as far as I can tell.)

But all of this speaks to the amazingness that is ILL.  You can randomly remember a book, just in passing, from years or decades or lifetimes past, a book that is out of print or that no one has ever even heard of let alone read other than you, and you start to wonder if maybe you didn't just imagine reading it in the first place.  But then you go to the ILL website and plug in what little you remember or what little you were able to glean from Amazon or wherever, and they start putting out feelers for it and eventually, whether days or weeks or months later, they track it down for you.

And then you wake up one morning and log in to your email account and there's that automated email notification so matter of factly informing you that the book is available for pick-up.

It's a little bit like magic.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

good things (beer, books, strangers, lace)

Saturday was a prickly grizzly sort of day despite beautiful weather.  One of those days where you miss the bus by mere seconds, the trains aren't running properly, and every little thing seems overwhelming and stressful and aggravating.  (Poor Evan had to bear the brunt of my prickly day.  Luckily for both of us he is a man of great patience.)

Sunday, and since, have been happy fuzzy sorts of days despite some rain and sleet and almost-snow.

Sunday morning I turned on the computer and discovered that I'd made my first stranger-sale.  (This is my newly minted word, in which someone not a relative or a Barnard faculty member or an ex-boyfriend's mother -- someone, in fact, wholly unknown to me -- purchases something I've made.)  I couldn't stop smiling about this all day Sunday and all the way to the post office yesterday morning where I shipped off a priority mail envelope to Virginia.  Stuffed with this.

Sunday afternoon we ate and drank our way through the wonderful Get Real New York Craft Beer & Food Festival.  There's nothing quite like getting a little buzz on by mid-afternoon, complemented by being happily satiated from tons of delicious food (alas, largely pork based -- poor pescatarian Evan had to grab a slice of pizza on our way home).  In the beautiful Altman Building, no less.  Home by 4:30, and a long lazy slow evening of napping, reading, Chinese take-out, and watching Big Bang Theory and Down From the Mountain.

Yesterday I not only finally finished book five of the never-ending Dark Tower series, but also started a new knitting project (because what's one more work in progress when you've got close to a dozen or so going already anyway?):

Vernal Equinox Shawl: lacy leaf pattern in this gorgeous pale green with bluish/silvery undertones, knit from incredibly soft silk/camel/merino yarn, with silver beads.

And this, my friends, is a great way to start a new week.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

spring greens wrap

50% wool 50% bamboo wrap in emerald, grass, spring green and white, now available on Etsy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

japan, vicariously

My stepbrother lives in Japan, somewhere up on a mountain towards the west coast, as far as I can tell. (It is times like this that make me realize how truly ignorant I am, in so many ways, about the world we live in: its geography, its geology, all the tangled webs that bind us together.  Japan is apparently closer to the United States now and thirteen feet wider than it was last Thursday, and I am having trouble getting my head around these facts.) Far from the devastation of last week's tsunami though close enough to feel the ground shake, it seems he is more concerned at this point about the nuclear reactor situation, a mere hundred miles away as the crow flies.  I'm glad there is a mountain in between him and those reactors, though my heart cries for the fear that must be hovering over the country now, having lived through nuclear hell once already before. (I found this article about that peculiar entity that is the Japanese monster movie moving, particularly its brief comparison between the ways American and Japanese audiences responded to the original Godzilla movie.)

I've been watching again and again a particular video (requires login) that has been making the rounds on  Facebook, which is similar to this video (does not require login), and which has left my dreams filled to the brim with water: seeping across subway platforms and up stairwells, creeping under the door to my apartment and up the stairs to the bedroom, floating my bed away.

Stepbrother Erik and I have been emailing back and forth a bit over these last few days and it's made me realize how far away from this I am, and how horribly close he is.  He's a big boy, I know, and has been looking out for himself for far longer than I've known him, and yet there's a part of me that wishes he were heading home.
3.14.11 My friend David is visiting (we're shooting some food videos for allrecipes.com here).  He was at a hot spring down the street from my apartment when the quake hit.  Yesterday we geared up the car and drove as far as we could east all the way to Fukushima City, just south of Sendai, the major city that was hit.  It's too bad because Sendai is one of Japan's nicer cities, famous for cow tongue restaurants--which are surprisingly good.  Anyway we had to take local roads, all the freeways are closed for emergency vehicles and official transport.  About 10 miles out, as soon as we crossed into Fukushima I realized we weren't going to make it when I saw 50+ car line ups at the gas stations.   Pretty soon all the gas stations just had their attendants stand blocking the entrances holding big signs that said no gas.  Fukushima City had no gas and we had a half tank--enough to get home.  Walked around downtown Fukushima a bit, a lot of damage in stores, store windows are broken out, old buildings are lopsided, roofs are crumbled, streets are warped with occasional sinkholes.  Japan as a whole has a shit ton of convenient stores, which were all out of food and closed.  Every grocery store had long lines of people in their parking lots buying the last of the food.  Fukushima seemed bad but  nothing compared to the coast, for sure.  Headed northwest into Yamagata and had an eerie quiet drive home through some of Japan's larger mountain passes still deep in old snow.  Back at work today and the teachers here were all business as usual, hardly a word about the event.  It's 11 pm here now and I'm at a cafe in downtown Niigata.  Just dropped David off at the station to take an all night bus to Kyoto.  He wants to see Kyoto but also just wants to head south and lessen any threat of radiation.  My apartment is about 100 miles due west of the two plants that are having all the trouble.  Still a little too close for comfort.  If one of them melts down I suppose I'll have some decisions to make.  Well I guess the cafe is closing up, gotta drive an hour up into the mountains and to my apartment shack in the woods!  Yipee.  More later.
3.15.11 Things getting dicier here.  David cut his month long trip short and is jumping on a plane outta Osaka tomorrow.  No gas in town food all almost depleted.  It's dumping snow out here now.   I'm dog tired, more detail for ya tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

egg salad

There used to be, on the east side of Broadway just north of 110th Street, a hole-in-the-wall place called Columbia Bagels.  Counter running up the left side, drink cases running up the right side, cash register by the door.  No tables. No frills.  Just bagels, and all that goes with them. All day, every day.

Oh how I loved that place.  Especially their egg salad, which was mustardy and delicious and cheap:  $2.10 for egg salad on an everything bagel, with lettuce and tomato.

I would duck inside, get my coffee (large, with milk and one sugar) and egg salad bagel, and then walk up Broadway to 112th street, hook a right, and fall in love all over again with the view of St. John the Divine as you head east towards Amsterdam Avenue.

I'd walk over to the cathedral and find a shaded spot on the steps, or in the little park next door with the ridiculous fountain, and eat my bagel and drink my coffee and smoke a couple cigarettes and keep an eye out for the wandering peacocks and read whatever book I was using as a procrastination device from doing actual school work.

Funny and sad to think that no one else will ever have this experience again.  Columbia Bagels is long gone, and soon smoking in almost all public places in New York City will be a thing of the past. (I have mixed feelings about this, though I won't get into that now.)

I found myself thinking fondly this morning of all those egg salad sandwiches and Marlboro reds because I had failed to notice I was on an M4 Limited instead of an M4 Local and missed my stop and had to walk up from 110th Street to get my bagel (everything, with vegetable cream cheese and tomatoes) at the not bad but frustratingly expensive Nussbaum & Wu.  Where the egg salad is too mayonnaisey and not good at all, and costs more than $5.

Sunday, March 06, 2011