Thursday, January 31, 2008

How long?

Dear Internet,

So I leaned over my laptop keyboard this morning, somewhat squashing it with my umm, tracts of land (GREAT tracts of land, thank you), and when I sat up again the display was 90 degrees counterclockwise. So instead of typing into a candy or cigar box, I now have a keyboard awkwardly mounted on one leaf of book. It is going to do interesting things to my neck. The touchpad was a whole vertigo-inducing experience, and ly Solitaire and not looking at it has lent me any facility at all. Have you any suggestions?

HA! HA! Deep within the other click on the background of the desktop
there are Display options, control-alt(arrow in direction you want it to go)

So I heard my parents' TV remote refused to work (my father got the cable people to reprogram it) at the same time as their printer went odd (my father called a helpful HP rep), and when I got to work the desk printer had swallowed a file it could neither print nor disgorge until much rebooting and redoubled deleting of files took place, and then I found out Mercury was indeed in retrograde and there is weird computer stuff going on all over nonprofit New Hampshire.

I may not buy any more books on beaded or embroidered embellishment until I have used the ones I have for at least an hour. But isn't reading about something and looking at the pictures the same as doing it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

and it has a low carbon-footprint, this kind of tour

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I am supposed to blog more often

And there's now a Facebook group for the Internet Review of Books.

When I am not supposed to be getting awake, exercised (I already nearly lost my temper, does that count?)and clean for the Day Ahead, I will post pictures from this , "Gods in Color: Painted Statuary of Antiquity" and if they have taken down the site ask me and I will send you the PDF. Gaudy takes on a new meaning. Great exhibit. If you missed it in Boston, it will be travelling around the country and it is pretty neat. The sculptors _incised_ the decoration on the clothing. Into marble. I chatted with another Elizabeth Wayland Barber fan.

I have been knitting. I am making my mother a hat. If I ever used patterns from anywhere but the Elegant Ewe I could direct you to them, but it only involves three balls of yarn (not from stash)and I hope to finish it THIS WINTER. My mother's birthday is next week. Anticipation of a gift is a fine thing, I tell her.

My daughter made me clean the kitchen and then I did a minor purge on some bookshelves so I can conceivably put the books on my bedroom floor away. Three boxes for the used bookstore (an interesting mix of spirituality and forgettable science fiction; I kept the memorable stuff) and one for the poor prison chaplain whom I am going to offer some really decent scripture books on the condition she takes the whole box. She can find homes for the rest. Out of my hands.

My next obstacle to walking through that part of the house involves a bunch of boxes of Stuff, moved from elsewhere, compiled randomly, and if it were easy to place I might have done so already. I'd rather knit.

I wonder what I was going to blog when I started this?

I love the redpolls.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting out of New York, Dec 27 or 28 and 29th.

So New York:

Photobucket And a Flickr gallery
Well, Ellie and I went to Battery Park, where she said to the unresponding crowd that whatever they were waiting in line for, it COULDN'T be worth it (the ferry). We had done lines the day before.

So we went to the New York branch of the Museum of the American Indian. It is set in the old Customs house, from an architecture of a triumphalist, solid, beautiful bygone day. We visited an exhibit on the Indians of the Northwest Pacific Coast. We enjoyed it (even though it was not Roman and was, I suppose, modern. But not modern rubbish one bit). It displayed beautiful, useful, and interesting objects softly lit, very well labelled, not crowded, and FREE: it was very good. As was the gift shop, where I only bought three books, a t-shirt, and a mola for Doug.

Before we had much trouble with the feet as bleeding stumps, and because I wanted to encourage my polite but not necessarily a wild fan companion to continue being so courteous as to not sulk and to ask interesting, solidly ethnological questions --basically, because she wasn't bored yet and I figure she'll let me come back if we ever do this again-- we left for lunch at the Cozy Burger and Doughnut

Photobucket, where we had egg salad and chocolate milkshakes (I had mine malted). After that we did not need to eat again the whole day. We went in search of Kate's Paperie, which is near the hotel, apparently, not where it was on our map; of a shop rhapsodized by the NYT, which we did find, and it was okay; of an additional bag, which I did not get the most practical one ever. We had ended up with the Daughter not carrying a purse or backpack, which would have been fine except that I ended up with her wallet and her water-bottle and the guidebook and the subway and bus maps, as well as the camera, my wallet, my knitting, and my water-bottle, some emergency food, the kleenex, the sudafed, the pocketknife, just a few things to make life more civilized... anyway,it was heavy and I wanted to split it up. The bag is a lovely red linen with one pouch (not enough) and no structure and the strap was so long the bag hit Ellie in the back of the knee. It is, however, very beautiful and one can carry a lot in it. We managed a more equal distribution of luggage.
I bought it from a very nice man who spoke perfect English. He was from Tibet but lived in Nepal. Some people have less luck with governments than we do.

While searching fruitlessly for Kate's, largely because we were around there, so we thought, we came across Pearl River, the place where everyone in New York can buy their Chinoiserie (and a certain amount of Japonaiserie). It was huge, two stories with a loft, and full of things in bright colors: clothing, slippers, wall scrolls, Chinese New Year's decorations, and everything you need for a fairly nice Chinese restaurant. It made me happy. I wanted to wander. The daughter followed me silently, keeping me from buying things I didn't need like a visible superego. I had assumed the daughter was being polite, when she announced that she liked this store and the tea sets were remarkably inexpensive... It wouldn't have been the suspicion of anyone I know that it would be she, not I who came out of New York with a teaset, yet there it was. They wrapped it securely in ethnic newspaper and it survived all the way here (and I hope will make it back to Northampton).

We staggered back to the hotel and went to bed.

The next day was our last in New York. So we had to check out by eleven, and I had thought we should leave not before five pm. So we had the damned luggage. So we thought to return to the Met and check it. Wrong. The Met doesn't check suitcases, unlike the Museum of Natural History (where they are used to elephants packing their trunks, perhaps...). It was chilly but a sunny morning. After some discussion I established a secure beachhead with the luggage and my knitting and my Sansa not-an-iPod and NPR, and sent Ellie inside, where she found another whole room of Roman. She came outside to make sure how I was doing and we ate the lunch we had prudently bought at a deli on the way. I pointed out that if I were at home I would very likely have been knitting and listening to NPR, and it was nice there. She want back inside. Those socks got a lot done. Eventually she came out again, and gave me a chance to go look at the line to the bathroom, and also some very nice Egyptian paintings, and we were both happy. We headed to Penn Station, a little late to be as early as Ellie would have liked, but the train was an hour late getting in and by then we had had enough of being there early. It did not hurt, however, as the train was fully booked and we were able to get seats together.

I had a wonderful time. I liked travelling on the bus, where you could see everything, like the Chrysler Building and the New York Times Building and as much as I wanted of Ground Zero, and the names of all the places in songs (Seventh Avenue, Broadway, Herald Square, Uptown (with Billy Joel's Girl), Downtown (with Petula Clark), 42nd Street, and on and on). I liked travelling on the subway, which was fast and mixed modern mosaics with the original station decoration. There is food everywhere.
I would like to go back to everywhere I went. Only in better shoes, and not the week after Christmas. Conspicuous absence of fiber shops on this tour (daughter and I trying successfully not to test one another to destruction). I gather there are several other places I might enjoy going, as well.

An important critic raises a question, Coriolis problems

My father points out that I haven't blogged in a while. This is indeed the case. Now, while he is important to me in a narrow biological and a much wider social emotional way, he has a certain objective importance. In despair at the kind of handbasket we are all riding in, and because there is less and less review of books in the print media (and somehow Oprah never covers scholarly works), he has started The Internet Review of Books, q. you should v. And if you have expertise in anything and would like to review books, you might drop him a line. He has been enjoying (in the sense of surfing a small, not terribly destructive tidal wave) making the contacts to get the books and to review the books and editing the reviews and Getting It Out On Time. I think one of his first real jobs was as a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald of blessed memory, so it is kind of cool for him to be getting it and writing it and putting a headline on it (albeit in a wholly other medium. Or not -- it's still written words) like he was maybe 60 years ago.

I am coughing much less. I have not needed to kill my boss at all lately; it is very pleasant feeling we are on the same side. The number of snow days has not been a bad thing, either. I had the Miraculous Conjunction of Taking Minutes for Two Board Meetings in One Day again last week. I realized that if I hadn't been taking minutes I would have been completely unable to pay any attention to the proceedings whatever (for I am a weak mortal damaged by original sin, or maybe just an uncaring dilettante with a taste for cafe life instead. Or both.)

I am having a weird desire (not unaffected by meeting a OneLaptopPerChild laptop) to learn Linux. Mostly I have hate and fear and love Microsoft; I am getting good at Word and although I want to leave him, I still think maybe if I love him enough he will quite acting like a vicious, kludgy monopoly....

I have finished a pair of adult-size Coriolis socks. I think the pattern might work better if you were using fewer than five stitches per inch, as the sexy band might not interact with the heel the way it did in my socks and the way it didn't in Sarah's.I was going to write about the almost unruffled calm joy I was getting from making them (though this was also due to the lovely soft green Jager Sock yarn, over to whose proprietors I may have to deed my house next festival. Then I had a Little Problem with the second heel. Like six times? I don't blame the pattern, although you can get really tired of flipping pages (Go to heels, p. 120. Do Step Four. But if you're doing the reinforced heel, go to p 124. Where it says, "Step Four (same as in Plain heel.")). While you are doing this, don't skip a step. It shows.
Sarah, however, reports, that her Coriolis socks, despite their beauty and perfectly distributed band, twist on her feet like tube socks and don't act like they have a heel. I haven't worn mine yet.

Now I am making a hat for me mum. I also had an epochal experience on the sewing machine -- I didn't want to throw it out the window even once!!! This is a first. It does not hurt that I had found the manual for the machine, that I was well rested (this was last Monday's snow day), and that I had good stuff (I had the brainwave of asking Sarah if she had a cloth-scrap stash. She does. It contains stash she stole in her infancy from her mother's stash, and scraps from her grandmother's, so although it is confined demurely to one plastic bin, there was a lot of stuff. Some of it's mine now, NOM NOM NOM. Now I have a start on a decorated shirt and two tea cozies (and I also cut out the lining for a felted wool vest (June 5, 2005, you don't want to hurry these things)). I promised to make an embroidered tea cosy for Alice, for whose mother I made one in 1997. I have also just bought a book on Beaded Embellishment, because although I don't have enough books I do have almost enough beads, and Sarah is having The Joy Of Almost-Instant Gratification making beaded stitch markers. It is fairly obvious from this post alone that Effectively Blogless Sarah and I are co-enablers of the worst kind.

It was delightful to have scraps and feel all Craft-Magazine and cheap and not have to buy stuff to do all this (though I did buy the yard of batik I used for lining last fall because it was beautiful, and I was right; there was a use for it eventually). Now all I have to do is sew the patches onto Doug's shirt, sew the lining into the vest (I bought seam binding and the right color thread. Isn't that the same as doing the actual work?), and embellish the tea cozies. And get the pins out of one of them, it keeps biting.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dec 27, and I mean it.

So we went to the Met. Even through Ellie's fog, she managed to have a good time, and I was very very pleased to see things of the Ancient World again. There is no doubt that the OBD is the Top Classicist in the house, knowing more Latin and probably more Greek than I did in my prime, but my blood still stirs. There are the wall paintings form Boscoreale , there are gold coins, there are carved gem seals, there are exquisite painted vases



This is the vase featured in Elizabeth Wayland Barber's _Women's Work, the First 20,000 Years_, to which some of you may have heard me refer once or twice. It's less than 10" tall.

there are bronzes
Sleeping Eros, Met/NYC

there is the Etruscan chariot I had never ever heard of and it's really good (my pictures are all details, not very useful. front end of Etruscan chariot

You can see the ivory tusks in the boar's head. This was a classy vehicle.

end of pole

We eventually ate in the basement cafeteria, which my aunt had warned us against for reasons of her own. It was crowded, but at least there was room to sit and the entrees were under $17. There were small children there, including two brothers of five and three, whose mother had brought them (really just the older one, but the smaller one was part of the package and she had managed to hand off the 16-month old to her mom at home)to an educational undertaking about mummies (get it?), actually ancient Egypt. I have no idea what the kid got out of the presentation, but he and his brother _loved_ the yellow cardboard taxis the French fries were served in. They want to crash them into one another (which I thought was natural NY taxi behavior) but she wouldn't let them. So the eldest made his into a rocket and counted it down and blasted it off. It was pretty good for luncheon theater.

I did go to the gift shop, but there was nothing I could afford/carry that I wanted.

We did not last anywhere near closing time. We folded, and went to stand in line for cheap tickets at TKTS. I am told we were there, on already scandalized feet, for two and half hours. Fortunately I had a couple of socks to knit. Ellie got tea and cash (they do not take credit cards). We had hoped to see a musical, but ended up with Kevin Kline (and Jennifer Garner and the evil prince Humperdinck, or at least the same actor playing much the same role) in Cyrano do Bergerac. The play was translated from the French by Anthony Burgess (Clockwork Orange et al)into mostly blank verse, and the actors did it well. The first three scenes were funny and the last was just so sad, I wanted to swat Cyrano up the head. Kevin Kline is delightful even with nose.

Between waiting for tickets and going to the show we ate cheap, tasty Mexican. Times Square was just as crowded (very, very, very) at 11:30 pm as it was at 5 p.m., which was sort of interesting. City that never sleeps is right.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Saturday and Sunday and I think Thursday

I am indeed partial to mice, particularly ones who live where they should (outside), although the one who lived in my fridge eating tortillas was very dear (he grew a long, shaggy coat...tusks for scraping through the frost....).

I started this on Saturday Jan 5 and now it's the 6th. So glad I did not have to go to work to sit in front of a computer and find it hard to remember what I am doing (blogging is easier; if I forget what I'm doing I can always look at yarn or something till I remember). I haven't slept very well lately either, so it's quite surreal.

Anyway. I still have the cold that foundered Atlantis (it now comes with a cough that rocks Knossos) and have spent Saturday sleeping late, redoing the second Little Coriolis sock so it works, and taking a nap.

Hey, does it mean I have FOUR finished objects for 2008 so far? Two Little Sky socks and two Little Coriolis, one in each direction? I can tell you that the directions are good. I can imagine that someday I would know what I am doing. But right now I am just mouth-breathing through Cat Bordhi's belief that her Left-Leaning Increase is not of itself increase+do the rest of the stitch. You do the increase, and she says K2, and she means K the 'daughter' stitch whose hopes have got up since you were increasing its 'mother',which you were certainly going to anyway, and then another stitch. It is possible that everyone calls the increase and the next K 2 stitches rather than one action, but it has been awhile since I tried to do anything much with directions. Anyway, not much in the way of intellect; it is good she has very solid directions. I have to remember to eat and drink all my own. Even in this state I am tired of the color of yarn I am using. It looked lovely in the skein and in the ball or the FO. Now that I have finished the two pairs of baby socks (anyone know any babies?) I am thinking of essaying a grown-up Coriolis Sock. I even decided I would use the Icelandic I think Too Much Wool made me buy at the MA Sheep&wool in 'o6, although now I am looking at this ball of sock yarn...Anyway, Saturday's big exertion was untangling several different up-market yarns with or without attached, vestigial UFO's, which took a while and must have involved cats at some point to get to that point...and another pair of nearly finished fingerless gloves, apparently made by a fingerless glove maniac with ADD who was here last year.

For complicated reasons having to do with NPR I am reading the very funny blog of a British/Egyptian woman,.

Right then. I think we were up to Dec. 27. We went to The Met. By this time Ellie had decided she would master the subways, which are much faster as well as much cheaper than the taxi. There is less scenic to enjoy, however. We had much less luggage and we were mentally prepared for the huge numbers of people, and to tell the truth, the heaving throngs weren't so bad once we left the outer portals of the ancient world. Ellie had a cold and was somewhat vague, but she managed, after a very pleasant half-hour, to suggest that we go look at Roman antiquities while she still had some brain cells, before her feet started to hurt. I am told it is a new wing. It was splendid.

I still haven't said anything about Dec. 27 and now it's Monday. I was just short of useless at work today. I have now spent the available time tonight trying to learn how the cool people use Flickr to illustrate their blogs, and it looks like you have to upload all the pictures and then write the blog around them. I don't think I can think that far ahead. So I will continue to use Photobucket and also have a Flickr gallery. Or something. But now I have to post this and go to bed. I have up to the heel of a Laura-sized Coriolis Sock and a chunk of instep of the second one on the needles (unless thye have fallen off)made out of the allegedly khaki Jager Farms yarn, and I have to vote tomorrow.

The OBD is immersed in Trying to Decide and though I advise her not to worry too much she is doing research and can't find any one candidate whose views she entirely agrees with. Was I raised more pragmatic? Yes. Am I also old and jaded? Definitely. I realized that my mother was only 33 in 1968, which of course from 51 looks like the bloom of youthful early maturity. No wonder she worries about people getting shot. I worry too. Trauma, the gift that goes on giving....but I am so grateful that we don't seem, yet, to have tanks in the streets.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Coughing (Boxing Day)

I was supposed to go back to work yesterday. I knew I felt much too awful, and it was a good call. By the end of the day I felt reasonable. Whether my boss believed me then I am pretty sure he will after he hears me. This cold does not give you a fresh new feeling in the morning, though, and I AM going back to work today (obviously. I need to be there in less than two hours, so I am blogging). I'd prefer to get better without using antibiotics. It would be nice if I had a PCP in this state (my own choice, completely). Also if I knew for sure which antibiotic made me come out in whole-body hives the last time (I think it was erythromycin. Damn sure not taking ampicillin again. Or Bactrim.)

Meanwhile: On the Feast of Stephen, the daughter and I arrived in New York at about 11 AM. There is very good pizza near Penn Station (name and address to be posted later, because I am getting dressed and can't go find the menu). It had a banner proclaiming it to be one of the ten best pizzas in New York, according to "You've heard of Zagat? It's like Zagat, only for pizzerias." This made us wonder what it was like to be a pizza critic for a living. Do you only eat them when you are on the clock? The rest of the time, do you only eat things with a fork and and a nice cloth napkin?

Like everywhere else we ate in New York, the pizzeria was scrupulously clean (I really mean this) and I might as well say from the outset that every single person we spoke to was friendly and helpful and spoke adequate English. I love New York. It is so big.

Our hotel, the Park Savoy, did not want us to check in until 3 pm.

and what holiday is the dinosaur celebrating,anyway? "Five Million Years and Still No Comet"?

We decided to go the American Museum of Natural History, as it was not that far from the hotel as the taxi flies (my mother is deeply into taxis)(everything is far, in New York).
When I lived in greater Boston, I made a thing of never going to a museum during school vacation. Life in rural NH had made me forget this. The AMNH was FULL of people of various heights, mostly behaving quite well. But it was hard to walk. Anywhere. Let alone back and forth through various lines to the check room, and then to the line to the secondary checkroom, which was staffed by nice people whose usual job this was not, being yelled at by unkind patrons. It was also very hot. We managed to check my wheelie, her backpack, our coats, but it was already obvious we were not at the top of our form. Then we waited in the line for the bathroom. I had come down with the Painful Polygons in Stomach disease, which might have been a bug or might have been way too much rich food the two days before. I waited in the line for I believe every Ladies' Room in the AMNH, and they all moved relatively quickly. I felt for my daughter, in a strange city with someone who moaned and occasionally said she thought she might die. I am used more to nauseated stomachs than nauseated with PAIN.

The purpose of the trip was to give Ellie enough time to spend in the Met with someone whom she would not feel her Roman interests imposed upon. We had chosen this museum because it would be acceptable and I could go check out the American Indian cases. These were good purposes but the press of people and the beaten condition of our bodies compelled us to take what we could get relatively easily.

We went to a very fine all about water life, and then to a hall of meteorites, and a very good exhibit of pre-homo sapiens persons. It was very heartening to see how many people there were interested enough to be reading the labels. All of these were good, only our feet hurt and we were toast from Christmas and neither of us does well in crowds. I was in such low shape I did not care to check out the gift shop. I did have the first CocaCola in several years and even without cocaine it's a good stomachic, and I felt less like I was going to die, heave, explode.... but it is a sad thing to be in New York and want to hurl when you see a menu.

We had a cultural divide. She thought the big panoramas of African Veldt or PaleArctic were dull. I had loved them when I was tiny (we lived in New Jersey from the time I was six till I was 13, so I used to go the NYC more often). I thought the Ocean thing was okay but maybe a bit much; she liked the 'something going on where ever you look' aspect. I did like the clouds scudding across the ceiling. And we had one of those milestone mother-daughter talks where she said, "Mom, what's the deal with mangroves?" and I was able to impart to her my knowledge of the red and the black and brackish and to dwell, as we had never had a chance to chat before, on the importance of coastal marshes. It was good.

At last it was late enough to try to spring our possessions and go to the hotel. It was, as we had been warned, small, but it had entirely adequate furniture and a bed and an amazingly clean bathroom--actually, it had a shower. The only time I can recall really wanting a whirlpool bath in a hotel where I was staying for non-amatory reasons, and alas, it was not to be. The hotel is cheap. Only less so the week between Christmas and New Year's.

We slept for three hours.

We went out for food. Even though it was dark, in a Big City, and in fact was doing a nice line in cold driving rain. Angela's Rock Star Delicatessen provided food, a comfortable place to sit, not-loud ambient music. I asked Ellie if she wanted to go clubbing. Oddly, she refused.

I am hoping she will come back to NH tomorrow and I will have access to our photographs.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Day (Christmas Day)

I am Joe's Kleenex. Or actually, I have borrowed Joe's Kleenex and he won't want it back. But I don't ache all over any more. Doug and I made it to about 11 pm and folded, although, it being New Hampshire, someone not far set off fireworks so I gathered midnight must have taken place locally. It is certainly 2008 today.

Do you know, it SNOWED today! Only about four more inches. Making maybe a foot on the ground. I filled the birdfeeders because we are getting mixed flocks of about 50 Redpolls (as charming a bird as anyone could want)and about forty Evening Grosbeaks( who wear white shoes and belts after Labor Day, but are basically all right). Marten helped me. He waded in snow up to his armpits and did not think much good of it.

Christmas Day went pleasantly, although I failed to set fire to the oven while making Yorkshire pudding and disappointed people for the second or third year running. The plum pudding came out very well; too well, I had two helpings and did not feel right for the next 48 hours. I think we had a good time, our immediate family enlivened by the addition of Doug and Lisa. We did not get a picture of the family all together because Sam was late arriving and Ellie had gone off to be with her boyfriend. Lively was the to-ing and fro-ing with cars, as Doug went back to NH, taking Ellie's and my spoils; Ellie took my car to Woburn. I was Sam's passenger in a car that I think belonged to one of Kimberly's friends (My parents left a bit earlier). I went back to their house to ponder my indigestion and yearn for sleep. Ellie arrived there about 10 pm. The next day my parents took my car back to the ex's for free parking. Ellie and I had not enough sleep, as we arose at 5:00 to catch the 6:10 to Penn Station.

I am folding for the day myself now, so New York will have wait yet another day. I gave Sarah the Cat Bordhi book of which Everyone is Talking. Ellie thoughtfully gave me a copy, so we cast on about the same time. Sarah is diving in with the Coriolis; I have spent today making nearly all of the Little Sky sock. I didn't start till late; it is not impossible. There is an errata page on her website as well as links to her YouTube, which I recommend if you are as slow as I am to figure out the Magic Cast-On of Judy Becker, or for reassurance in the LIttle Sky sock generally. The Cast-on one is quite funny. I am happy to know I am not the only one who makes her needles and stitches talk in little voices.