Monday, December 31, 2007

All hands on deck

Looks like they must have every cop in the city preparing for the crazy in Times Square.

These guys are getting a pep talk delivered by megaphone.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

One last day in Austin

We rocked into the wee hours of the morning with Jim, Sommer, and Nikki.

Looks like John may have missed his true (i.e. less lucrative) calling.

After a chilly walk/jog/gasp for breath on Town Lake with the much-fitter Sommer, the four of us cleaned up and headed to Güero's for lunch. I had the delicious fish tacos.

No, not those fish, though we taunted them as we waited for a table. I mean, our mere presence seemed to taunt them -- we didn't poke them or anything. They seemed to be expecting to be fed; maybe they get tortilla chips from other diners?

A so-so latte at Jo's down the street, and then we were headed to the airport. Home by a little after 10:30pm, the kitties were in good shape, and we were glad to sleep in our own beds...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Houston and back

Why does so much of Houston look like this?

It's not a bad city. It has great food, though maybe not as great as Austin.

We had a great time with my parents, and played old-fashioned board games, like Super Yahtzee, which is like Original Yahtzee, but with an extra die and more cursing. We also played Carcassonne, which is like Risk, but with your Mom making you feel guilty for not playing that one piece she needed to complete her city.

We stopped in Lockhart at Kreuz Market for barbecue, and it turns out that Chez Panique, the sauce is not optional.

They didn't have any good dessert at Kreuz, either, so after I dropped John off at Waterloo (ultimate damage: $158, zero calories), I headed down to La Mexicana for pink cake (ultimate damage: $0.85, one million calories).

I think the focus in that photo is actually on the concrete. Rest assured, if I had dropped the pink cake in the gravel parking lot, I would have picked it up, done my best to avoid cracking a tooth, and eaten it. In fact, if you spread the icing on the concrete, I would probably eat the parking lot. I am a bitch to pink cake.

We had some time to kill, so after the obligatory trip to the Book People restroom, we headed to Austin Java Company. The Caramel Knowledge is my fave, but après pink cake, I think I should have gone with something less... sweet.

And hello? Who left this sweetie out in the cold?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My niece

Oh, what a long day.

I sure wish I was this cute. Also, that it was socially acceptable for me to scream and cry at the drop of a hat, then be all smiles just moments later.

Sitting around in a dirty diaper: not so much.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Star me, kitten

That's what was left of a plate of migas and a short stack of gingerbread pancakes, after John and I ate our fill at Star Seeds this morning.

If we'd known what the day had in store, we would have cleaned our plates.

Nine adults and a remarkably chill one-year-old in a small space for eight hours. And we're doing it again tomorrow, with four more adults.

The Jeebus miracle is that my missing package of gifts for the immediate family showed up this afternoon, only an hour after we opened all the other gifts (scheduled right after lunch, so as to occur before the extended family members not being "gifted" showed up).

Happy Christmas Eve!

Trail of Tears, I mean, Lights

It looks a bit like a refugee camp, right? Or an evacuation point for a city fleeing an rapidly spreading epidemic? Don't worry; it's just the line for the shuttle down to Zilker Park.

We walked it from beginning

through the crowds

past some old favorites

through more crowds

to the lovely, lovely end.

We started full of Taco Cabana and we ended full of Hey Cupcake!

Hope your evening was just as nice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

We're so HK...

Blah day. And try as we might, a blah dinner. At least it was mercifully brief, and we had an episode of The Wire waiting for us at home. Not so bad, after all.

The photo above is home, or at least the brick building in the center, toward the back. For new construction, it's not a horrible eyesore.

"You're so HK..." was the really stupid slogan on a postcard we got yesterday, advertising a new condo project a few blocks south of us. Looks pretty swanky, but (cough, cough) a little out of our price range. And if you look closely, the floorplans are balls.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Seasonal Ditty

East side...

West side...

I walked all over the town.
Looking for gumdrops.
And I didn't find any.

From the top: the Baccarat/UNICEF snowflake at 57th and Fifth, a window at Bergdorf Goodman, the tree at Lincoln Center, color-changing stars at Columbus Circle.

Yesterday, 11:30pm

A dirty word at 0:29.
Things get interesting at 0:37.
All hell breaks loose at 1:05.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Isn't she lovely?

(Please imagine Stevie Wonder singing that line.)

We've got a tree up this year, for the first time in... four years? This is our fifth Christmas in NYC. We had a tree the first year, which I carried home because John was still using his cane. Sap everywhere! We stayed in the city that year, and I made crawfish etouffee for Christmas lunch. The next three years we traveled for Christmas, and this year we're hitting the road again.

So this little tree is not long for this world, since we will take it down before we leave for Austin. I've been enjoying its glow day and night, especially day, since they've been super-gloomy lately. Except today, which was brilliantly sunny and bitterly, bitterly cold.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Free dissociation

These are for the Winter Holiday Dangly Swap I participate in through ArtErratica, a Yahoo! Group I've belonged to, like, forever. Wow, no kidding. I just checked, and it looks like I joined October 2, 2000. Ah, the good old days, when I accessed the internet through dial-up, sitting in that fantastic orange office chair I stole from my parents, at my lovely Ikea desk. And look how far I've come! In my pajamas, on the comfy sofa, with the wireless and the overly-powerful laptop.

I finally got started messing around with Photoshop Elements last week. It took a while to find a book that seemed like it would be my speed, but it is hard to follow a book when you just want to clean up a scan and resize an image so you can have it printed for your seasonal cards. Hmmmph.

This laptop tote is on its way to me, or will be soon, so that I can take it out with me and show it the world. It needs a name, this overly powerful, precious piece of machinery. It needs a name so that when John uses it to search for birthday presents for me, and doesn't want me to know, and clears the history on my browser, I can tell him to keep his damn hands off [insert laptop name here]. Any suggestions?

String theory

One night last week, our dinner looked like this:

Everything stringy!

Spaghetti squash with nutmeg, some crunchy slaw, and Otsu from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking. This cookbook sort of took over my head while I was visiting Karen in Durham.

Oh, that's right! Yes, this is, sadly, the much-delayed first post since my trip. I can't even describe how great it was to see Karen, to get to know David a little better, to be so well fed, and to get out of New York City. It was exactly the break I needed before the holiday insanity began.

It's in full swing, now, that insanity, though to be honest, it's not that different from the base level of insanity. And to be more honest, at least the holiday insanity has distracting fairy lights and sparkly tinsel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And I was on such a roll

I wasn't going to say anything, but I was trying to post every day in November. Sadly, I did not. So I'll write a bit about my birthday, and we'll pretend that I didn't skip a week. (If it's any consolation, I'm not really sure what I was doing last week, either.)

It was my birthday yesterday! I got lots of dark/sweet cards and thoughtful gifts I am already putting to use. Brunch! Cookbook! Apron! Socks! Nail polish! Purse! Stationery, made from some drawings I did in high school! Earrings! Thank you everybody!

John got me the fabulous hand creme I asked for and the Stephen Colbert book, a total surprise. I opened it up to find myself staring at pictures of dog scrota: my kind of book! And he has let me do some excessive clothes shopping. Also the flowers above, so beautiful...

Also a trip to see Karen in Durham. I'm leaving tomorrow, and I hope I'll come back with pretty pictures and fun stories.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

I don't know about you...

...but this is what is left over when I eat a persimmon, a snack after a three-hour painting session.

The color is all wrong, but you'll get an idea of the rate of progress as the week goes on.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Like superheroines

I love this day, every year, when I get to watch these very tired, mostly very happy folks, especially the women, surrounded by family and friends or proudly alone, draped in mylar that cannot shield onlookers from the radioactive beams of their accomplishment, making their way through a city that cheers and congratulates them.

We were on our way home from seeing Gone Baby Gone when we passed this champion. Her pedicab was stuck in traffic by Lincoln Center, but somehow I don't think the slow pace bothered her.


Pulipo at Grotto, Saturday night.

Friday, November 02, 2007


I've had this 35" x 50" canvas prepped for several weeks, but somehow mixing 42 paint colors only took on a real urgency this afternoon when I got back from a kitty litter run to Target in Brooklyn. The 42 colors are in the wicked-cool triangluar Takashimaya bag on the floor at the base of the canvas. They are essentially the paint-by-number pots for this pattern.

John was nice enough to work late, so I actually finished all the mixing before he rolled in a little before 9pm. He had thoughtfully made our dinner reservation at craftsteak for 9:45, so there was plenty of time to clean up before we caught a taxi down to Chelsea. There was a little friction before we left, because some of us get a little crabby when we haven't eaten for eight hours.

Chhhack. Pftllb. Whrechk.

Excuse me. I had a little sarcasm caught in me throat.

I did not have my dinner caught in my throat, though, because that went down smooth. John got a beer and I got the best sidecar I have ever had. The graceful server brought piping hot little Parker House rolls and an amuse of toast points, house-made pickled veggies and a tiny cast iron terrine of chicken liver pâté, of which I ate every bite. We ordered a selection of local oysters (don't worry, not too local) and really enjoyed them.

We were very happy with our steaks, John with the T-bone and me with my hanger, though it was a good thing we had been warned by the very competent waiter that they would be served sliced, to facilitate sharing. This struck us both as a bit of a gimmick, but my real worry was that the temperature of the steak would be compromised. (I like a hot steak.) We shouldn't have worried: the steaks could have been a bit warmer, but they were nevertheless faultlessyly tasty. The sides of onion rings and roasted Jerusalem artichokes were awesome. We were too full for dessert or cheese, but the coffee was great, and carrot cake petit fours hit the spot.

Tables around us received small baked goods to take away, but we did not. Pourquoi? Perhaps an unspoken spending requirement, but more likely just our pastry curse in action. For some reason, we tend to get overlooked when free muffins are being handed out. For reals.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hope yours was a good one

(Ours had enchiladas, and a pre-Daily Show run to nasty Gristedes for brownie mix. 'Nuff said.)

The D'Ag downstairs in our building posted the contestants in the annual Halloween coloring contest in their front window.

This kid, I'm a little worried about.

This one, prolly gonna be just fine.

Gotta love those eyebrows.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Three heads: better than one

This little guy was my favorite contestant at The 17th Annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade. A neighborhood mom next to us explained to her daughter that this pooch was "Cerberus, like in Harry Potter." You know, the way you look up at a crucifix and recognize "Jesus, like in Life of Brian." Sheesh.

Thank goodness they postponed the event from Saturday (torrential rain) to Sunday (crisp and sunny). We stood through three rounds of judging in a not-so-great spot at one end of the ring. Like anything happening in NYC that we actually want to go to, the event was, um, well-attended. Which is to say, crowded with other New Yorkers. At least it was other New Yorkers, and not tourists, and at least we spent a lovely day in the company of dogs, then went home to our loony cats.

Boo-boo kitty

I came home this afternoon to some minor damage.

What happened to my kitty?!

The girls don't fight, per se, but they roughhouse a bit and sometimes scratch each other accidentally. I try to keep their nails trimmed (for the sofa's sake, not their own) and they've both had manicures recently. I don't know how this happened, but she seems to be okay.

Update: Oh, she's okay, all right. She's standing on a chair, sniffing at the edge of the dinner table. There's no dinner on the table, so she's just sniffing. a. wooden. table. Sadly, chez plein de panique, this is totally normal.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thank you, chrysanthemum.

Just when I think I've put poetry behind me, I come across something like "God Says Yes to Me" and I realize I just need to exercise that muscle more often.

I actually bought a book of poetry a few weeks ago: o wooly city, by Patricia Sneff. I was enchanted by the cover and the essential New York-ness and femininity of the writing. Guess it couldn't hurt to put it in my bag as I head out to find some lunch.

The poem also brings to mind a bit of an interview with Anne Lamott that I heard this past March on The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC:

Everything I understand about Jesus says, look, it's very simple. Please take care of the poor for me. Please take very thirsty people water. Could you please all try not to kill someone today? Maybe make make a note to yourself and tape it by the phone. It's very simple.

In both cases, sentiments an atheist can also get behind.

Well, who knew?

As it turns out, it doesn't take forever for papier-mâché to dry. The birds were crisp by 5am this morning, when John got home from work and Gemma decided it was time to start batting them all over the living room. I collected and hid them. At 6am, Gemma decided it was time to play with the clay-covered molds. NOT COOL. They are now secured, as well.

I think it is fair to say Molly was innocent in all this mayhem, but she is being suspiciously cuddly next to me on the sofa as I write this up.

I've given the birds one coat of gesso and they are drying on their bamboo skewers. I am worried that as soon as I leave Gemma will go after them again, but at least they are dry to the touch and won't leave a trail of gesso everywhere.

By the way, this is how I intend them to be displayed, because I am currently intentionless. Unintentioned. Whatever.

Since I didn't leave the apartment yesterday, I'm off to do made-up errands and dodge spotty showers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Parce que j'ai besoin d'une nouvelle technique

Q'est-ce que c'est?

Les oiseaux en papier mâché!

This photo is a bit inscrutable (I don't think that's the right word, but I've had it in my head lately) but maybe it helps to know the green lumps in the background are the molds. I did three layers of newsprint around those last night, and this morning I cut them off, completely prematurely. John hadn't left for work yet, so he got to watch me jump up and down ("It worked! It worked!") with an X-Acto knife in my hand. I glued the empty halves back together, sculpted paperclay beaks and attached cardboard tails. I let them dry for, oh, an hour, then put two more layers of newspaper over everything but the beaks.

Now comes the hard part. They need to dry for, like, forever before I can gesso and paint them. And then what?

Je n'ai aucune idée.

Tightly curled kitty

A few days after dropping my classes at Hunter, I bought a pile of new clothes for my potential job. A side effect of 1) having worked exclusively in casual academic environments and 2) having spent the past two and one-half years in studio classes is that I had absolutely no professional wardrobe. Now I do, at least until it gets very very cold. (Still no job, but I've been sending out the ol' cv.)

I finally got around to unpacking said new clothes Tuesday morning, and within minutes Molly had assumed this position. Dunno what attracted her, as they were not warm from the dryer. Also, they had a horrible plastic bag smell, but then, maybe that was the draw?

Let the holiday madness begin!

Wannit! CB2 invades Manhattan early next month, and I will have this. M, you understand: this is my MS cakeplate(s).

Monday, October 22, 2007


A week ago last Sunday, I saw the Git Hoan dancers perform.
(Articulated masks.)
This past Saturday, I got to mingle with strangers at New York Cares Day.
(Trying to be articulate.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dog noise

That would be barking, and there was a lot of it in the park at 8am. As much as I complain about cats whining at the break of dawn, I forget how lucky I am not to be obligated to take a dog out to do its business in the tender light of morning. Bloomberg decided earlier this year that it's okay for folks to let their dogs off leash before 9am, but I hadn't experienced the mayhem in person until today. I empathize with the squirrels; being a little dog-phobic myself, I wasn't too keen on them barreling toward me as I trooped twice around the lower loop. At least NYC dogs tend to be small.

And the canine anxiety was something to take my mind off the bitter, bitter cold. It was 47 degrees this morning, and we are not prepared. Cold weather clothes are still in the basement, and mine don't fit. They might, someday, if I can have more days like yesterday, days of eating healthy and finishing projects. The projet d'hier was new covers for new foam for my $5 Danish modern chair. It looks really good! Sunny and sturdy. If I had a garage, I would strip the frame of its mangled mid-brown finish and paint it a dove grey. And if I had any sewing cajones, I would have put some piping on the cushions. Meh. Next time.

So, yesterday's food. Healthy snacks of grapes and strawberries. Lunch was an Amy's organic microwave meal, mmm, yum, why have I not been eating these? But dinner, I swear, was still warming my belly as I marched through the park this morning: a white bean and chorizo soup intended just to use up some cannellini beans, which may just be my favorite soup ever. I thought I knew most flavors, you know, that I've tasted many cuisines and have an idea of what is possible. Paprika has taken me by surprise, though. I bought a fresh bottle from Kalustyan's a couple weeks ago to make a spice-rubbed chicken, but this soup seems to showcase the spice much more distinctly. Wowza. Topped the day off with an episode of The Shield and a sliver of pumpkin pie from Whole Foods, and I went to bed a happy girl.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Like a Band-Aid

I dropped my classes at Hunter yesterday.

There, that wasn't so hard. What was I worried about? Crafting a clever way to break the news to friends and family has honestly been the least of my concerns for the past few days, but today I've been prepping a canvas and waiting for the clouds to roll in.

I could give you a long list of whys, but I'm as done with the decision as I am with Hunter. Maybe we can talk about it later?

So many fun things came and went while I was grinding my teeth over this. Jim and Sommer came for a visit and I was awful. My folks stopped in on their way back from London and I was a mess. We took a quick trip to Austin and the unbearable effort that it took to have a good time was only relieved by seeing really wonderful friends. Every trip to Austin from now on will include time for seeing these amazing women -- I just hope they'll have time for me!

So, the knot in my back has started to loosen, but my stomach is still churning. I don't know what's next, but I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wide open spaces

I've been thinking a lot about the relationships between certain concepts lately. In my therapy session today we talked about the connection between motivation and commitment (more on that some other day). Right now I'm thinking about the difference between venting and breathing.

Because the last two posts have been venting, not breathing. And as good as it feels to vent, what the body demands is breath.

Breathing shows you where the open spaces in your body are, the spaces you can fill and empty, fill and empty, fill and empty. (Geez, I miss yoga.) In the past few weeks I've been finding those places in the apartment and the difference is palpable. Full shelves became empty shelves became no shelves. The wide open corner is so luxurious.

By getting rid of some boxes of junk, I've been able to find some open spaces in myself too. Space to be more forgiving, to myself and others. Space to let the past drift away and be forgotten. Space to get my arms around a memory that got lost somewhere in all the clutter. Hmmm.

So check out my horoscope today:

Weather report

The precise meteorological term for today's weather is "totally gross," drippy enough (or threatening to be drippy enough) to require an umbrella and a raincoat. And by raincoat I mean the one that seems to be waterproofed from the inside, so that I accumulate my own humidity as I walk along the steamy streets, and not really waterproofed on the outside, so that if it gets serious about raining I'll be soaked through.

I had the. most. boring. class. ever. this morning. This is my Pre-calculus lecture. We're not going to cover anything I didn't review for my test this summer. It's two hours long and meets at 9am in a big old auditorium that I guess they are trying to keep nice: "PLEASE no EATING or DRINKING" says the big sign at the door. So I have to sneak in my coffee. Like a kid sneaking booze into a high school football game. Not that I ever did that. I didn't go to football games in high school. Or college.

No, the coffee sneaking is just one of the petty demoralizations that fill my days at Hunter. It's not unlike the bathroom situation. Many of the bathrooms have been remodelled, I think to make them ADA compliant. The non-handicap stalls are often so tiny that you have to bend over the toilet bowl to close the door. My mom used to refer to cramped spaces as "so small you have to step out into the hall to change your mind." Exactly. The powers that be installed sparkly new hands-free sinks, but usually only one (of two or three) is functional.

But it's the toilet paper that makes me think they really hate students. It is, of course, the one-ply institutional stuff that shreds when you even think of touching it. They've installed it in such a way that it doesn't roll smoothly from the dispenser. It tears off, flimsy piece by flimsy piece, if you are lucky. It takes an inordinate amount of time and a very light touch to gather enough to be effective. This is not how I want to put my carefully-developed hand skills to work.

And I don't want to put my finely-honed writing skills to work informing the chemistry department that the home-grown lab manual, which they have obviously been reprinting for years, has a typo that takes the form of a racial slur. I don't want to, but I'm afraid I must.

Molly, I'm with you.

While the technical term for today's weather is "totally gross," I'm afraid the layman's term is "slightly bitchy."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Dear New York Lady,

This is just to apologize for my part in the misunderstanding on the bus today.

I was the last one on at 57th and Lexington. I don't think you realized I was behind you, judging from how you lingered at the door, blocking me from dipping my Metrocard. When I finally got up the stairs, I found you paused just past the seats for the disabled and elderly. When you put your hand up to grab the handrail, I assumed you had decided to stand.

So I moved to pass by you in the aisle. Imagine my surprise when you suddenly lurched over, into me. Color me shocked when you started cursing at me. You looked like a professional, middle-aged, well put-together though you might want to do something about the smoker's lines around your lips. I shouldn't have mumbled back at you under my breath, but you started it.

I really didn't need to hear you vent to the rider next to you about the perceived slight. I could have done without the dirty look for four cross-town blocks. I didn't require an announcement that you "didn't need this" because it had been "a long week." New York Lady, who doesn't have "long" weeks in this city?

So, I'll admit I may have been in a hurry to sit down, and consequently I didn't wait for divine confirmation that you had settled on standing. I don't like being on my feet while the bus is in motion, especially when I am still faint from the fumes of being in the lab for three hours. That's thirty minutes longer than any of my classmates, because I got there to find my carefully stocked drawer had been looted and I needed to request new glassware. Then my assigned partner, Precious, was late, and I had to repeat to her everything the substitute instructor had already said while trying to listen to what she was in the process of saying.

New York Lady, I bet you don't have a lab partner named Precious.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The universe smiles on the tidy girl

Apparently, fate smiles on young wives who keep their apartments clean. I got up this morning at 6am and GOT MY CLASS. Big props to John for calling from Baltimore to make sure I was awake, especially since I only sort of was, and I never would have gotten registered if I hadn't been online exactly at 6am.

Fate also gifts you with a head full of Trains to Brazil by The Guillemots. Well, just the line about school.

Throwing stuff away and wiping the kitchen counters keeps the humidity low and the sun sunny as you walk across the park, and conjures the subway as soon as you set foot on the platform.

Finally, deciding to stop using the dishwasher and start doing it by hand means that your willpower stays intact all day long (even if you have to walk past Le Pain Quotidien's almond meringue four times!) and you are rewarded with the best peach of the season, even though the last few you had cut into were weirdly soft and mealy.

Ah, now the husband is home and my stomach is rumbling for dinner, which reminds me of a funny story. Last night, I grabbed my leftover "enchiladas" from the fridge and discovered they were actually the remains of a dinner comapanion's seasonal vegetable chimichanga. Reader, I ate it.

Excuses, excuses

I seem to have reverted to writing posts in my head again, and not on the actual blog. I'll try to buck that trend here.

It won't surprise anyone who knows me in real life to learn that I spent this (Sunday) evening soaking and scrubbing mussel shells that I insisted on bringing home from dinner Saturday. I'm not sure I'm happy with the result. I want to use them in a Cornell-type box, which I've been promising to make for John for several years. Every time I start, though, I'm overwhelmed by how difficult it actually is to create that kind of visual poetry. I've abandoned more than one shadowbox when the going got tough.


It's late, and I need to get up at 6am to try to register for the one open space in that math class. Think sweet thoughts for me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Words of wisdom

It's from a Victorian devotional day book that I occasionally cut up for art projects.

I spent the whole day cleaning, really, the whole day. Kitchen cabinets scrubbed. Couch cushions vacuumed. Et cetera. But John came home in time for dinner, and we're enjoying the clean apartment together, sans annoying details.

Fun with cats

The other day, Molly looked very big,

and Gemma looked very small,

and later they cuddled.

Molly doesn't look so happy, does she?