Yes, we are very Manhattan centric, parochial big city dwellers who travel mostly within the Big Apple's borders This year though, the borough of Queens has become a regular destination with Roxie's arrival last January. (Picture from a couple of months ago when I squatted to photograph on her level and fell over! But isn't it a cute photo?)
As we strolled Roxie past the Kew Gardens movie house (first-run features, no less), we bumped into one of Ron's weaving classmates. We responded to her invitation to stop by later and were treated to a glass of wine in her large apartment with its glamorous 1920s lobby.
Proof of how provincial I am, my first thought was that this grand and elegant lobby resembled ones I'd seen on the upper west side's Riverside Drive and West End Avenue. But Queens, who knew?
When it was time to move on to dinner, we drove along Steninway Street in Astoria. I was hoping to see an Egyptian restaurant that I'd read about in the book, Crossing the Boulevard. Nothing looked quite right, the name escaped me. We reached the end of Steinway with an Italian restaurant on the corner.
You need to know that my least favorite place to eat anywhere is an unknown Italian restaurant. But it was late, we'd try this tiny place. Valverde with six tables had terrific food! Ron felt kind of smug since he is alway ready to go into an Italian place; I have a low tolerance around most tomato sauces. Great service, good al dente pasta, ricotta cheesecake to die for. Grownup restaurant. Read the reviews in CHOWHOUND, a foodie blog. Be prepared for full range of comments--thoughtful to beyond cranky--very New York.
Reading Blogging in Paris has made me more conscious about meanings behind common expressions. Not that I often use "tooling around" to describe poking about here and there. At Google, of course, I discovered "Take Our Word for It." Etymological questions are dealt with beneath the sign of a moving typewriter (indicating that curiosity about language may be going the way of the...but let's not go there). Travel in a vehicle in the early 19th century by driving a team of horses is their connection for the verb "tool." Guess that's what we were doing.
Usually we drive to Queens but every now and then it seems a good idea "to train." Here's an accurate representation of evening rush hour on the LIRR, according to Wikipedia, "busiest commuter railroad in North America." Lucky us, we got seats with two daily travelers.
When Ron told them we had retired to New York, the man next to me became apoplectic. He first refused to believe it, then allowed that it might be possible for New York to be preferable to our former location--Baltimore. We'd found the true provincial New Yorker who grudgingly traveled to "the City" (how Manhattan is referred to by longtime residents of the outer boroughs) for his job, believed he had deprived his now-grown child by raising him in Queens. I imagine him at work the next day, "Listen, I met this insane old couple on the train..."
We were concerned that Roxie and her parents would get caught in long delays as they travelled out of New York on Christmas Eve. So it was quite a surprise to get a call this morning from Leanne that their flight had been cancelled by bad weather in the midwest.
Making the best of it, they decided to take advantage of a clear, bright day by coming in to see the sights.
We met up for lunch at Ollie's Sichauan on West 42nd Street at Ninth Avenue. On the trip downtown, I saw for the first time several walls of mosaic murals in the 8th Avenue subway at 42nd. In writing this post, I learned its perfect title--Losing My Marbles. Artist Lisa Dinhofer created it in 2003. The link has a full length photo of this wall, one of three. The online site, "SubwayArtGuide," is an illustrated catalog of 210 art works--mostly underground. Roxie would love the colors, clap her hands and probably try to eat them as she's doing here with the bamboo steam basket from our shrimp dumplings.
It was a treat to be with her another time; it will be mid-January till we are all back in New York. And then she will be one year old.
"Gosh, what time do you think the UPS guy delivered this?" we wonder. It must be the final gift for the 5 year old across the hall. We're just reaching for the morning Times.
10 a.m. the street view from our window
"Another successful season for the Canadian tree guy. Look, he only has five trees left--and it's still morning!" We're grateful every December to the infusion of real pine boughs into our gritty environment...close our eyes, imagine we're walking through the woods. Almost.
6 p.m. on Broadway
"Could I take your picture?"
"Oh, sure...no, we're from Vermont--near Stowe." When I show them the photo above (still in my camera), tell where we live, turns out they know him. "He's from Montreal."
We're surprised. The "stranded elf" story in the New York Times indicated Canadian tree sellers were getting stopped at the border. They continue laughing, report that our tree-guy is in flight from the authorities.
And, by the way, since he only has five left, would we carry a couple of their extra pines up to him? Seems they are all part of the same consortium, co-op, tree Mafia? Last day of Christmas tree sales in the Big Apple and they can't stop smiling.
I talked to them about Condom Amulets, gave each--they were not a couple--one of the cards I'd just made for my other blog to take back to Vermont.
9 p.m. News flash: Ron just walked in, "Hear that banging?" Our local Canadian tree man has sold his last one and is dismantling the wood frames. Till next year when I hope U.S. Border Patrol finds better causes than harrassing our neighbors.
Yes, this is weaving by Ron Bloom. The one on the left came first, used yarn from his earliest spinning on a Babe's Wheel made from PVC pipe--lumpy, uneven, difficult to knit, yet perfect for weaving. Forgive me for taking enormous pride in his work but the idea that a person who had been a foreigner to fiber until the last four years would burst forth in this way is impressive.
At the finish of an intermediate class, weaving on a rigid heddle with a Kromski loom, his instructor, Linda LaBelle, mounted at exhibition of her students' work in at her Brooklyn studio--The Yarn Tree and another in Manhattan at Habu Textiles. The latter is one of those gemlike, small businesses known to fabric designers, artists and yarn people around the country.
Along with yarns spun in the back room are textiles from Japan and other Asian countries. And artifacts collected by Takako Ueki, Habu owner, in her travels. Like these 19th and early 20th century spinning wheels. (Next time in NYC the blogger at Mother Pie would enjoy a visit.)
Though very, very cold Monday, December 17, in New York City, it was very warm at Knitty City on the upper west side. About 25 knitters trooped into the store over four hours to put together squares made by people in the U.S. and the U.K. for Oliver's Blanket.
My link to this effort is Kay Gardiner of Mason Dixon Knitting. (That's her standing on left in the photo.) As a late-comer to this awesome effort, I can report the barest of facts: the idea is to raffle, just $2 a ticket (one $ across the pond), a number of (quantity unknown till assembled) of beautiful, quilt-like blankets/throws made from the wool, 4 x 4-inch squares. Knitters have used their leftover sock yarn (mostly), as this American contributor.
The proceeds will provide an electric wheelchair for Oliver who has cerebral palsey and lives with his knitting Mom and family in England. Cost: $5,000.00.
Ron and I joined the 4 to 6 p.m. group; he's in the photo with Kay. This knitter demonstrates the method for us to join two squares with a whip stitch. Usually I do mattress or back-stitch seams. While Ron whipped along, I slogged. (Learned this word from the "slogalong" at Mason*Dixon for FOs, unfinished objects.)
Our table was in the front of the store; Pearl, the proprietor provided platesful of sweet snacks. The group in the back had salty ones. Kay worried about fairness and exchanged the offerings about an hour into the event. Women came from all over--Beacon, New York (upstate), Princeton (discovered we use the same dentist, Ron's nephew), and Austin, Texas!
How did that happen? we asked her. "Well, I was coming to New York and I read on MasonDixon's blog that this was happening while I was here, so..." There were two women sitting near me who seem known as reluctant participants in this sort of project. But they were drawn into this very personal effort, for a particular family known to many bloggers. That appealed to me too--plus the in-person connection with a circle of knitters.
After units of nine squares and borders are assembled, Kay has the task of putting them together in the final form. Here's the link to Oliver's Fund Raffle, if you'd like to purchase a ticket or two or five. I'll update on the outcome.
"Even cowgirls get the blues," a popular expression in the 1980s, always made me smile. But I never really knew what it meant. That no one is immune from feeling sad?
Hoping to perk myself up in that little red hen way, I purchased some eyelash yarn on sale at Knitty City. Maybe it could evolve into a seasonal condom amulet. It did. I hung it briefly on the wreath in my building's lobby. Simply knit a swatch, stitch together the long edges, voila!--a fuzzy red ornament with blue condom. Loop made with finishing yarn for convenient hanging on a tree or mistletoe. Happy Safe Sex to all!
As if to dampen everyone's holiday spirit, the past month has offered more somber political misadventures daily. Naomi Wolf minces no words in the title her new book, "The End of America." The subtitle is "Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot." The link is a YouTube video of her talk to a crowd in Seattle. Before she spoke last week at Bluestockings Bookstore, she and I had an exchange--first about the confusion in the public space that mixes her up with the other political writer Naomi Klein.
We spoke about blogging; she mentioned being interviewed HERE, an anti-war site. In talking about Elderblogging and LRH, we exchanged about technical stuff that mystified her. She was suprised I'd been able to take a digital photo of her appearance on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now TV show. Sure enough, when introduced, Wolf was given the "other Naomi" last name. One of the by-products of living long: my once unusual first name has become almost common.
Time Goes By, happily back online, features several posts about Wolf's thesis. Every time she begins with this message, "...not a warning..a difficult message with hope on the other side." At the end of her talk and book is a link to the American Freedom Campaign which promotes learning more about the erosion of the U.S. Constitution--and doing something about it by writing those who were elected to represent us.
Yesterday's inspiration--and we do need it--provided by listening to Al Gore read his acceptance speech for his half of the Nobel Peace Prize. Read it HERE if you missed it. Thanks again to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!, the Peace Report, for providing this to viewers.
Ramona Oliver, communications director of Washington-based EMILY's List, says 80 percent of registered Democratic Iowa women didn't vote in the 2004 caucuses. So EMILY's List--which supports pro-choice Democratic women and endorsed Clinton the day she announced her campaign--is focused on turning out women. In an online poll, the organization gauged Clinton's support among Iowa women, and their likelihood to caucus on a 1-to-10 scale.
Puzzled? I am. So much media attention has been directed to the outcome of Iowa. But article report reveals many non-participants among those I'd expect would have been actively involved. Super Tuesday, primaries in states with largest populations, could tell us more. Not hearing much about that day, February 5, here in New York City.
An old lady feminist, I hope that women who made early commitments to Clinton's candidacy, like NOW, the National Organization for Women, will continue to direct their energy to the Democratic ticket even if she is not the "winner." By the way, the link goes to a thoughtful essay on "gender politics" by NOW's president, Kim Gandy.
Women's E News is a place I'm looking for in-depth coverage of the coming election. [Link to their website has been added in column to the left.] Ronni Bennett's take on the issue at Time Goes By would have been important. However, now that she has left the room, it's up to Kay's Thinking Pad in Ohio, Along the Way in California, Xtreme English in Washington, D.C., and many others from the TGB blogroll to connect us with other Elderblog voices.
"Actually," as my grandson Zach in Portland says, I'm looking forward to reading the comics with him again.
Here we are in one of my favorite black/white photos Ron took last summer. Looking forward with much anticipation to Portland trip at the end of the month.