Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year

Having the New Year begin on January 1 has always seemed artificial to me. There's no real change then. Of course, not everyone celebrates this as the true New Year. Many pagans regard Samhain which comes at the first full moon at the end of October as the end and the beginning. (In the old Celtic tongue it means end of summer and is the Gaelic word for November) The wheel of the year starts another revolution as nature settles down for its winter sleep in preparation for the rebirth that comes in spring. It is a time to commune with one's ancestors and to reflect on one's place in the cycle of life. The night is often devoted to divination. The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah (the head of the year) was at sunset on September 22. Rosh Hashanah is a time for retrospection and prayer. For the Chinese the new year is yet to come. Like Samhain and Rosh Hashanah it is a lunar new year and will arrive on February 18, 2007. It will be the year of the pig, year 4705 in the Chinese calendar. It is a very important festival and often lasts for 14 days, from the darkest moon to the full moon. It is the time for feasting and spending time with family and friends.

I have never really liked the New Year's holiday. Most of the parties I went to had cheap champagne and seemed to be no more than an excuse to drink excessively and make a lot of noise. (The best parties were always the quiet ones, filled with good conversation and good food.) I have never gone to Times Square to see the ball drop. But I do share a need for optimism about the future. 2006 brought many changes to my life and I have great hopes for the year to come. I think I am most sympathetic with the pagan view. Winter is the time to make plans and to gather strength. The television has been filled with various commercials for weight loss plans, exercise equipment, quit-smoking programs, and organization products. Bring on the resolutions! But these are fleeting. My resolutions are not so specific. And they are resolutions for life, not just for the year. I will think positively about my life. I will appreciate all the wonderful things in my life. I will be kind to others. I will enjoy the abundance in my life and not think of what may be missing. I will not feel envious of others' good fortune but will wish them all the best.

May the future bring you joy and love. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rearranging

I have been trying to rearrange the furniture in my apartment. It's not going so well. I am limited by the fact that some of my shelves are attached to the wall and I really don't want to take them down and move them. I am beginning to suspect that I need to get rid of my chair-and-a half. It is comfy but has been mauled by the cats and is suffering from years of hard living.
Here is the arrangement of the moment. I don't think it works but I'm at a loss where to go. Try to ignore the pile in the right foreground.



The chair just doesn't seem to work there in the corner. And it leaves the desk and the table too close to each other. I had originally had the bed along the window wall but it cut off access to one of the windows. The desk was in the right corner and cut off access to that window. If I get rid of the big chair and replace it with something smaller I could move the desk further to the left or even swap the desk and chair. (I tried that already at the moment and the current chair does not work in the middle of that window wall.) The table would not seem so trapped in the corner then. The table used to be where the bed is now with the chair next to it. I've been staring at the current layout and just don't know where to go. Any suggestions?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Celebration

Last night I had dinner with a former co-worker at the Pit of Despair. Yesterday was her last day at the Pit so it was a celebration of that as well as of the holiday. We went to this cool little Indian place on 3rd Street called Leela Lounge. They have couches in front for the stated lounging and then tables for dining in the back. The food was very tasty and abundant so I had some to bring home.

We took the opportunity to exchange gifts. I gave her food and she gave me a magnetic frame with an image in it. It is a skull and crossbones on a black background and reads:
"Knit or Go Home". Nice. She also showed me a gift she'd received from our friend Jen. It's a book published by the Pantone people called Colorstrology. It assigns a particular Pantone color to each day of the year and lists characteristics of a person born on that day. You can go here and see what your day is. The book also has tear out cards at the back so you can take your day and month colors with you. April, my month, is mostly reds and oranges and pinks. What I found interesting is that my day is a calm blue in the middle of all the red. Hmmm. Eerie.

We spent the rest of the evening talking about various things including the Pit. She had no problem adjusting to the new system I helped to put in place (I knew she wouldn't) and could not understand why everyone else was unable to get the hang of it. I had to agree. While any new system can be difficult this one is pretty user friendly. I suspect that part of the problem is apathy. The Pit does not inspire going above and beyond the call of duty. In fact most of the staff go well below the call of duty, if they answer it at all. I think I've almost purged myself of it now. I only think of it in connection to my friends. And then it's to hope they get out soon. Maybe in the New Year I can stop thinking of it at all. There's a good resolution. I will let go of the Pit of Despair and never let it haunt me again. Much better than giving up chocolate.

We finally got sent out into the night as a private party began. When I looked at my watch I was amazed to see it was 11:30. We'd been there for 4 hours. I realized I had missed talking with someone whose mind works like mine. The cats are very cute but they fall short when it comes to conversation. I may take a class or find a book group to join so I can have more good talk.

May you all have a joyful holiday and very happy and abundant new year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bath Time

I used to take baths a lot. Long hot baths filled with bubbles. But in the last five years I've probably taken no more than 3. I suppose part of the problem is my bathroom. The bathtub itself is pretty good. I can lie almost full length in it so I am totally submerged. But the rest is troublesome. It's difficult to get the shower curtain out of the way and the ambiance is non-existent. I think I have this image in my mind of a full Roman bath - marble probably- with a great view out the picture window. A city bathroom just can't live up to that kind of thing. Then I got this stomach trouble and decided I needed to detox. Good hot baths are part of many detox plans. The idea is you sweat some and lose toxins right through the skin. Then you take a shower while giving yourself a little scraping with a loofah or some salt scrub. My need was great enough that I pulled out the old bath salts and ran myself a bath. I should have done it sooner. The shower curtain is still a problem but I think I can live with it. I light a candle, turn on some soothing music, and lean back into the steaming water. Nora is fascinated by the water. She sits on the tub edge and leans in a bit but she's not quite brave enough to stick a paw in. Just as well, I don't think she'd like it.

I may have to work on the bathroom a bit, make it a little more inviting. Perhaps I could paint the walls with a pastoral scene. I suspect I'll have to give up on the marble.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Go Ask Alice, I Think She'll Know...

Some of you may know that I've been having some stomach troubles. They began at the end of my tenure at The Pit of Despair. I found myself burping ... a lot. Now this was weird. I never have indigestion. I could eat 4 slices of pizza, a half a bottle of wine, and a cup of coffee with impunity. So this was upsetting to me. I thought that once I was away from the Pit and eating better that it would go away. Instead it got worse. By Thanksgiving it was truly annoying. There seemed to be a perpetual bubble in my esophagus and and odd tight feeling in my throat. I decided to do a little detox and at the same time started scouring the web for information. What I discovered is that modern medicine is no help at all for most digestive troubles. Unless there is something very specific, like the H.Pylori bacteria which causes ulcers, or cancer, they don't really have a good answer. They give you antacids and proton pump inhibitors and send you on your way. The holistic sites advocated detox and the trying betaine HCL which is stomach acid in pill form. Apparently too little acid can also cause heartburn and indigestion because the food does not get properly digested. The symptoms listed sounded like mine so I tried the HCL. That helped a bit but it's hard to get the dosage right. I then went to an acupuncturist/Chinese Medicine man. He diagnosed me as too hot and acidy. I needed to eat cooling foods and stay away from heating foods as well as from acidy foods like tomatoes and orange juice. Unfortunately this meant giving up garlic among other things. Harsh. He also prescribed some herbs in solution which were really foul. But I took them and had two acupuncture sessions. I was not feeling better, in fact I felt worse. I then remembered that my sister Alice had had some parasite trouble in her stomach and so I called her to find out what her symptoms had been. During the conversation it came out that she had a second stomach problem which involved lots of burping and gurgling in the stomach. She had gone to a doctor who had perscribed Prilosec. It helped but as soon as she stopped taking it the symptoms came back. So she took things into her own hands and started having a big piece of raw ginger every night after eating. That did it. The symptoms subsided quickly but she kept it up for a month to be sure. The problem has not returned and if ever she feels a little heavy in the stomach she has a piece of ginger. I had had some ginger tea and ginger candy but those had not been potent enough. Now, after three days of eating ginger after every meal I am starting to feel better. The bubble is not in my chest so much and I am burping less. I wish I had called her sooner before giving the acupuncturist a bunch of money.

Since then I have been reading up on Ayurveda (ginger is very important in Ayurveda). Like Chinese Medicine it looks for balance but it has different criteria and it takes the constitution of the individual into greater account. You can go here and find out which Dosha you are. Most people are bi-doshic with one dominant. I am a vata-pitta. And I think my vata is aggravated. The symptoms for that include gas and indigestion and increased impatience and worrying. Spot on. Ayurveda is concerned with agni fire which is your digestion. If your vata is aggravated the fire is damped and digestion is sluggish. Your food gets fermented and forms bubbles. I had felt that I had slowness rather than too much acid. I should have gone with my intuition. I have moved on to the new list of foods which happily includes ginger, garlic, and cheese. Hopefully if I continue to eat ginger I will be well by Christmas Eve when I am going to my cousin Beth's. They have lobster for dinner and she makes these cream cheese cookies that are to die for.

I should've asked Alice. Perhaps I will send her a little present as a thank you.

Monday, December 18, 2006

In the Mood

I'm finally feeling a bit Christmasy. Last night there was a group of carolers out in my neighborhood. I suspect them of being the local opera group. Their harmony was too good for the average bunch of people. They seemed to be having fun. I would have liked to join them but my singing would not be an asset. I don't seem to be able to stay on key. Or at least I don't think I can. I used to sing quite a lot as a child but you can get away with it when you're a kid. I've also been known to sing in a big crowd when I know I'll be drowned out. When I was in college I had to take Acting I and one of the anti-inhibition exercises was to sing in front of the class. I sang the theme to the Brady Bunch. By the end everyone was singing with me. Insidious.

I've also gotten some Christmas cards and have been planning my holiday baking. It's one of my favorite things, sitting down and poring over my cookbooks looking for recipes. I try to do new things each year although I do keep a couple of favorites around. And this year I'll have to remember to take pictures for you.

My next decision is whether or not to get a tree. I would like one but I have not idea how to fit one into my apartment at the moment. Maybe if I can find a really skinny tree. We'll have to see what the jolly tree man has in his pile. If nothing else I can spend some time inhaling that wonderful pine smell. That's how you know Christmas has come to New York City, the sidewalks sprout little bundled forests that you can smell a block away. They are as much a part of the city holiday as the windows at Saks and the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.
Now I'm in the mood. Bring on the 'nog.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Realization

I know this will sound a bit odd but I came to the realization this morning that Christmas is only 10 days away. It doesn't seem right somehow. I haven't even planned the holiday baking yet. Tomorrow I am going to a concert at The Cloisters. It's a performance of Christmas music by the Waverly Consort. It should be very nice sitting in that beautiful place listening to music. In 1998 I was in Florence for Christmas and we went to a concert at The Duomo. You have to hand it to the Catholic Church. They made beautiful architecture and composed beautiful music. In fact, the traditional music is one of my favorite things about Christmas. I haven't broken out my Christmas cd's yet. I usually save them for baking and wrapping. They really do put me in the spirit. If anyone has any recommendations for holiday music pass 'em on. I usually get some new each year.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Progress

If you walk on 23rd street between 8th and 7th avenues you know that there was a Krispy Kreme there. It closed a little while ago and the space sat empty. It has a new tenant. "Burgers and Cupcakes". They've got a big pink awning that stretches out into the street. If you really love burgers and cupcakes you may want to go down now because they're hiring. And I bet employees get a discount. I suppose it was only a matter of time. Recently several burger restaurants have opened around town and cupcakes are the hot dessert. It makes sense that someone would combine them into one.

And now, a moment of silence for a wonderful actor and a really funny guy. Rest in Peace Peter Boyle. We'll miss you.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kitchen Floor

Ok people. It's opinion time. I know not all of you have been in my kitchen or if you have it was only once years ago but that's ok. Put in your two cents anyway.

So here it is. As you may know there is some ugly carpet on my kitchen floor. In order to put tile in I would have to get the floor stripped by a professional and I don't have the cash for that at the moment. So I thought I would get some carpet squares from Flor. My walls are off white on one side and a sort of peachy orangey yellow fresco kind of thing on the other. The style is called House Pet and it comes in a bunch of colors. The two colors that seem best are red and a kind of burnt orange. Do I get only one color and if so which? Or do I mix them in a checkerboard or stripe?

Here is the burnt orange color. They call it Painted Turtle.



And here is the red. It, for some reason, is called Snake.



The Turtle matches the floor and the funky wall best but the red is kind of fun. What do you think?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Holiday Season

I'm not sure if it's the warmish weather or the fact that I'm not behind a retail counter but it is not feeling like Christmas to me. This week the trees have appeared on the sidewalks and most of the stores out there have decorations up and Christmas carols blaring. And yet, I don't really feel it. The city seems kind of slow. The stores and the streets aren't as crowded as I think they should be at this time of year. It's as if the season is in a slump. Perhaps when we get closer to the 25th and I've begun my baking and wrapping I will feel the holiday. I've been debating whether or not to get a tree. It would have to be very small or at least very skinny as there is very little room to spare in my apartment. I thought perhaps I would get a wreath and hang the ornaments over the archway. I should start my Christmas cards too. I really want to enjoy this Christmas not spent fending off desperate shoppers. Perhaps I just have to get myself in the holiday mood and not rely on others to do it for me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Kitties

I just had to post this picture. Usually I'm the only one to see how cute my kitties are so every now and then I have spread it around.

Feel the warmth.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Demotivation

The other day I wrote an email to this woman who has her own business knitting custom sweaters and dying yarn and fiber to sell. I asked her a question about her business and hoped she would not think it an imposition. She sent me an answer which was kind of her. However, part of her email was a bit disturbing. I had written that I had started my own online shop and had aspirations to dying my own yarn and fiber. She wrote back, "Good luck with your business. You have jumped into a pond that is getting more crowded all of the time." Now, why would you say something like that to someone? As if I wasn't worried enough that I'd missed the boat and was at least a year too late? Am I crazy? Have I taken a well meaning comment and turned it into something nasty without cause? Perhaps. Anyway, I had a nasty feeling for a while after that. It's gone now but I always have to be careful to tune out that rotten radio station that plays in my head, what Annie Lamott calls KFKD. I wish I could unplug it forever.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sarah's Gift

My friend Lisa had a baby this year. So naturally I knitted a gift for her. I made a nice package, printed up some postage and sent it off Priority Mail. On my end everything went well. The package was sent and arrived in Atlanta 3 days later. That's when the trouble began. No one was home when the postman came so he left a slip. A few days later Lisa's husband signed the slip and put it back in their box so that the package would be redelivered. Nothing. No package. And when you have two children you do not have time to keep checking on the package. Finally, they called the post office. The post office couldn't find the package. And I'll tell you why. Because they had sent it back to me since it was unclaimed. What became of the signed slip? Who knows. So I sent the package again. This time I used Fed Ex and sent it to Lisa's husband's office. Success! To see the gift go and see my other blog here.

I have always had good experiences with the postal service though my own post office can be very slow if you have to wait on line. But as far as I know they have never lost anything or failed to deliver all my mail. I have never asked for re-delivery as it is easier to just go get it but I think it would be fine though it might take 3 days. I have been sending my store packages Priority Mail and they have arrived but the tracking is a little sketchy. I'd like to use FEd Ex but they are more expensive. We'll have to see what happens. It's hard when it all depends on the destination postal workers and how good they are at their jobs. There is no way to control that and as we know I don't like not having control over things. It's probably some kind of life lesson.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Full Belly

My family chose to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday this year. My cousin Beth is a nurse and my cousin Wendy's husband is a fire fighter. They both had to work on Thursday and Friday so we got together on Saturday. It was our biggest party ever, I think. 19 people, 5 of them children. The dining room was certainly too small and a buffet didn't seem feasible either. So we set up in the garage. It worked out really well. We had two tables set perpendicular to each other and used every chair in the house including the plastic patio chairs. The kids ate in the kitchen, away from the crazy adults.

As for the food, it was pretty good. The turkey was especially tasty. And the desserts came out very well, even if I do say so myself (maple walnut pound cake & pumpkin chocolate tart). The kids partook of a 10 pound Toblerone bar that Uncle Mark brought. I have no idea where he found it. It was kind of scary actually.

We also had two non-family members with us. Our good friends Barb and her partner Robin. They're fabulous. They live out on the North Fork of Long Island. I may have to go for a visit next summer. I haven't been swimming in ages and Claudio's Restaurant has some of the best clam chowder and crab cakes I've ever had. Besides, I think they'd be a blast to hang out with for a couple of days. And the way time is flying by it will be summer in just a moment.

We adults spent much of the evening talking politics. We are cautiously optimistic and are really hoping that this is the turning of the tide. I think we're due for a change. I like to believe that there is new wind blowing, that this country's rampant consumption and total disregard for the rest of the world are diminishing. I have to think positive. It's either that or make plans to move to Iceland.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Positive Method

I don't know if any of you ever peruse the self-help aisle of the bookstore. One of the categories involves visualization and manifestation. The idea is, if you visualize a thing - really see it, every day- you will manifest that thing, attract it to you. It can be a relationship or a job or a house. Similarly, if you see only trouble that is what you will attract. What I found surprising is that this idea isn't really that new. It began with Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich (1937) and Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking (1952). Both of these books advocate action and faith but the core idea is that your thoughts are the starting point, if you think a thing with conviction and faith and persistence it will come to be. Now, my genetic background is one of skepticism. I find it hard to let go of ruthless logic (a former co-worker used to call me Scully). However, in the face of the business I haveThe Power of Positive Thought decided to give it all a try. I will proceed as I would have, looking for opportunities and ways to get the word out but I will also do the visualizing and positive thinking. While it may not live up to the hype it can't possibly hurt. Besides, thinking that all is well and wonderful is much better than sitting about brooding about how things are not going as planned.

Here is someone who never troubles about the future. She is enjoying a toy I made for her.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Drilled

I had thought that the people working on the facade of my building were done with my side. Alas, I was in error. Today the drilling almost sent me over the edge. They were right under my window for about 2 hours. I was praying to anyone who might be listening to make them stop. I had a brief respite when I went to the store but when I returned they were still at it. It's like being trapped next to an enormous dental drill. Finally, after 4pm they stopped. I am fervently hoping that when they come back tomorrow there is no drilling.

But there is a bright spot in the day. A very fragrant bright spot. I made beef stew. It's in the oven right now. The whole house is redolent with it. Yum.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Problems

So, just two orders in I had a customer problem and it was my fault. (Sigh) It seems that in the checkout area of the cart it listed the shipping as USPS Priority 1 day. Now I would swear, on anything you'd care to name that it did say 2-3 days which is Priority Mail average time. I have no idea when or how it changed. The upshot was that my customer thought she was paying for overnight shipping and was miffed when she didn't get it overnight. I explained that it was a mistake and I refunded her shipping. Fortunately she didn't actually need it overnight and understood about computer glitches. So all's well that ends well and it was a relatively painless way to find the problem but still... What started out as a good day is now all icky. I certainly know that in retail you have customer problems but I really didn't want one quite so early on. But perhaps it's better this way. In any case, I can see that I will have to run through the process frequently to make sure there aren't any weirdnesses. (Sigh)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Frustration

I have been very fortunate in the apartments in which I've lived. Only in the first one did I have a roach problem. Since that place in back of Fenway Park I've lived pretty much bug free. Occasionally one might show up but that was it. This has held true in my current apartment. However, they've been doing work on the facade of the building for the past 5 months. The work involves drilling out worn bricks and installing new ones. This has resulted in more bugs. I can't really blame them. They sense the world through vibration and the drilling must be like the neighbors having the stereo on 10. They have been appearing sporadically, maybe once or twice a week. But in this apartment a bug has an incredibly short life expectancy. As soon as it comes out into the open the cats are on it. It's got no chance at all. Occasionally I will catch a cat with a bug in his/her mouth. Now, I know that these bugs don't carry disease but there is something just icky about the idea of the cat eating it. I suspect it's the stigma the roach carries. I wouldn't feel the same about a beetle or a moth. At any rate, I usually try to get the cat to drop the bug then I kill it quickly with one swift clog and toss it in the garbage. The poor cats then hunt around for the bug. They can smell it but it isn't where they left it. It must be very frustrating.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Park

After yesterday's deluge the sun came out in a brilliant blue sky. I went to the park and everything had that after the rain smell. I just stood there and inhaled deeply. The park was beautiful. The golden autumn light was made even more golden as it passed through the leaves. A gust of wind would come up and leaves would flutter to the ground like butterflies. Perfect.
Or almost. There's a problem I have that I've been trying to get rid of but I can't quite manage it. Two years or so ago a young Julliard student named Sarah was murdered in the park. Her family organized search parties and they found her about a week after she went missing. The worst thing about it was her death. She must have been terrified in those last moments. But the second worst thing is that her murderer became part of the park. He made himself a part of it. Now, the park wasn't perfectly safe before this. There are countless spots for people to lurk. In one spot there is a circle where fires have been lit and a lot of beer drunk. But it felt fine. After Sarah was found my behavior in the park changed. For a while I didn't venture further in. Then when I did I would keep looking behind me, listening to every little sound, hyper alert. And that is still true. I can't help thinking of what might be hiding in the forest and wondering what became of Sarah's killer. They haven't found him. Is he still here somewhere? Did he get arrested for something else or leave town? Did he die? And how does he feel? Powerful or horrible? I suppose this is the price for living among people. We do awful things to each other, often for no reason at all. I hope that one day I can walk under the trees and think only of the beauty and not of evil.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Victory-I Hope

I'm trying not to get my hopes up. We've taken back the House. Now we have to do something with it. I suppose we will still meet with a lot of opposition from the White House but we should be able to turn the tide a bit, don't you think? Please say yes. We've strayed so far from reason that it will be a long road back to some semblance of sanity. History teaches that things tend to swing back and forth. We are long overdue for the swing back to sense.

So, repeat after me: We will make a difference.

Say it every morning at it may turn out to be true.

Confession

Ok, the NaNoWriMo is not going so well. I've gotten stuck and I don't quite know where to go. I know the end, it's the middle that's the difficulty. And then there's the fact that my wrist still hurts when I type. After 1700 words it can really ache. It really seems like a bad idea to stress it out. We'll see if I can find my way through. Even if I do I may not make the 50,000 words by the end of the month but I'll have a start on the book. That's the important thing really. I have decided that I will not beat myself up over it. So there.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Colors

You remember the Purple Soup from the previous post? Of course you do. Well, I didn't eat all of it that same day so I refrigerated what remained. Last night, when I took it out to reheat, I discovered that it was a different color when cold.
This is the soup right out of the refrigerator.


And this is the soup after heating. Weird.


I needed some new jeans so I took myself to the Housing Works Thrift Shop. And in a miracle of biblical proportion found two pairs that fit pretty well. One is slightly gapey in the waist and if I were buying them new at full price I probably would have rejected them. But I paid only $12 a pair so I took 'em and counted myself blessed. You can't beat that price with a stick. I also found a pair of boots. I know, I have lots of shoes and boots. But these were only $15 and they're BLUE!
Here they are in all their glory.


And here is Nora with the boots. She loves shoes almost as much as I do.



NaNoWriMo begins today. I will try to keep you posted.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Soup

One of my favorite things about the colder weather is that it is perfect for soup. You could have a different soup every day and never repeat. Anyway, there was some beautiful purple cauliflower at the farmers' market this past weekend so I bought it and turned it into Purple Cauliflower Soup. As you can see, it came out a lovely lavender color.


I would have liked it to be darker, like the original cauliflower but I made it with milk and potatoes. Maybe I'll try it just with broth and potatoes next time and see how that comes out.

Not 300 But Rearranged

My friend Lady Epiphany has put up her 300th post. I am humbled. That's ok. By the end of November I will have a novel written. May not be very good, but it will be a novel.

I spent yesterday rearranging my home. I live in a studio so the choices are limited but every now and then I like to change things around. It's a lot of work since I do it alone. I have to take all the books out of the bookshelf, all the drawers out of the dresser, all the files out of the filing cabinets, and so on. At the end of it all I am happy with one change and unsure about another. I will just have to live with it for a while and see if it works. I did attempt a bit of Feng Shui but it is difficult in a studio. For example, my success direction is south and my desk should face that way. But it just didn't work. But it does face in one of 4 auspicious directions. One can see that if one were serious about Feng Shui it would be very difficult to make it all work unless you could build from scratch. Especially because your home has its own auspicious directions which, ideally, should match yours. Sadly I am at odds with my home- I am east and it is west- but one advisor feels confident that that is okay as long as the main entrance to the room matches the house, with in fact it does. So it's okay. I don't have to move. I know, you were worried for a moment there.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Back to It

I got back to the spinning wheel today. It's been months, possibly a year since I last used it. And man it shows. I have decided to start from scratch, relearning it. Fortunately I have the Alden Amos book on spinning. If you have any notions of going out and buying a wheel I recommend this book. It's serious. Everything from preparing raw fiber to a discussion of wheels to finishing. And written with humor. I know that you Muggles think it's a bit nuts spinning in this day and age when you can get almost any yarn for yourself but there is something very special about spinning your own. You feel pretty darn good. Like the first time you bake a whole cake from scratch. It's a very real, tangible thing that you accomplished. When I was at the fair this past weekend I saw some expert spinners from a guild. Amazing what they can do.
And it doesn't escape me that it is just a touch ironic, like spending tons of money on candles. A hundred years ago they welcomed electricity and women everywhere were more than happy to buy store bought clothes. Hand made items became the province of the poor and now they are a luxury. No one who works two jobs to put food on the table is going to take the time to knit a sweater by hand, unless she really loves the labor. And that is partly what makes these things so precious, the time that is put into them along with the sweat and occasional tear. They are a labor of love, even if it is only our love for the craft. Most crafters do like to give though. We even give when we know the gift will not be properly appreciated. Because that doesn't matter, or it shouldn't. We give because we want to, because we can't help ourselves.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crazy Idea

I have returned from the Sheep and Wool Festival with my bank account in tact. For those of you interested in what went on, proceed to The Skein Blog tomorrow. I will include one picture here.

How's that for a fab do?

I know, you want to know what the crazy idea is. It all started with Lady Epiphany. If you've read her most recent post you know she has joined NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month. The upshot is that you post every day in November and you can win a customized blog banner as well as some hosting. But if you follow the link and go to the NaBloPoMo site they tell you that they are based on NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. That particular insanity is a group of people who write a novel in 30 days. 50,ooo words in 30 days. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be Pulitzer material. Quantity is more important than quality. Those of you who have been with me from my first post know that I had intentions of writing some fiction here. This has not been the case. As any writer knows, writing is work. And I have been a lazy butt and not done any work. So in order to kick start myself I have joined NaNoWriMo. We'll see how it works out. The business is likely to be a bit slow now in the beginning so hopefully there will be time. And maybe I can get out to some writer events so I don't go stir crazy and start writing "All work and no play makes Plaid Sheep a dull girl" over and over. This may mean that this blog suffers from neglect but I will try to keep you up to date on the insanity. Wish me luck, I think I may need it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Day One

Here we are at the end of day one of the business. I feel a bit odd, sort of hyped up. I think it's the anti-climax. Now, understand, I didn't expect an order on the first day. But somehow I don't quite know what to do with myself. For the last several weeks I have been focused on the day I was going to go live. And now it's here and I feel as if the ride has stopped suddenly and I've been slammed back by the seat belt. It's a whole new life, one I've never lived before. I have to find my way and it is daunting. I also know I need to have positive thoughts. I can't think: "What will I do if it tanks? Or is slow? I could get a part time job to fill in the holes." No. I must proceed as if it will all work out or else it won't. I have to be all there. And really, I'm not in extreme financial danger. I have resources that will help me if I am in need. I won't lose the apartment. And yet.... I suspect that I doubt myself, doubt that I have the creativity and the drive to make it work the way I want it to work. And although I have had help and a lot of support (thank you all) still I feel very alone. More alone than I think I have ever felt. This is the real challenge. Not the details of the business, but the labor of getting past my own insecurities and self-limitations. My magnum opus. Now on day one.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Almost There

I know, it's been some time since I posted. It's been a busy time, dealing with all the last minute details before the business goes live. I've taken a ton of pictures then cropped and sized them and uploaded them. Tedious but educational. I've been discovering the bugs in my shopping cart software. Well, not bugs exactly, but things that don't make sense. More education. I am very grateful that my personality tends to optimism and cheer. I'm told that I was a cheerful child and I think I've managed to hang on to my even temper. This has been invaluable during this business start up. I am a perfectionist but a cheerful one. And I am learning to let things go. They are not as important as they once were.

I read Robert Brezny's horoscope each week. It's always amusing and frequently apt. This week he says:
"According to the Midwest Book Review, David Foster Wallace's 1,088-page book Infinite Jest is "perhaps the most innovative novel in the English language since James Joyce's Ulysses." The Review of Contemporary Fiction calls Infinite Jest a vast comic epic, adding that it's "so brilliant you need sunglasses to read it." On the other hand, critic Dan Schneider (Cosmoetica.com) believes *Infinite Jest* "might be the worst novel ever written." I expect that there will be a similar diversity of opinion about you and your efforts in the coming week, Aries. My advice? Ignore everyone's assessment but your own and that of the person who knows you best."

Sound advice.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Outing

Yesterday I met two friends at the New York Botanic Garden. We had tickets for the Chihuly exhibit that is there at the moment. If you don't know who Chihuly is go here. He's a glass artist whose work is very organic. It often resembles plants or sea creatures. In this case they placed a bunch of his pieces in and around the garden. The ones in the Haupt Conservatory were lit up after dark. It was beautiful. If you live in the NYC area and can get there, go, before October 29th when the exhibit ends.
This piece is called The Sun. It weighs 4600 lbs and is made up of about 1000 pieces. It took 6 people 4 days to assemble it.


After wandering open-mouthed through the exhibit and deciding that we must take glass blowing lessons, we adjourned to Arthur Avenue.

Arthur Avenue is the Little Italy of the Bronx. It still has some of that old neighborhood feel that the Manhattan Little Italy has lost; it was buried in tourist traps and an ever expanding Chinatown. We went to a place called Mario's. It was perfect. I fully expected Nicky the Nose and Charlie Stubs to show up to meet the Don. The place was filled with neighborhood families, the air redolent of garlic and olive oil. Our waiter too was perfect, just the right New York accent and ready with a smile. We ate too much and laughed a lot. The perfect end to a beautiful day.

So, if you should find yourself on Arthur Avenue, go to Mario's and have the Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce (or the Fettuccine Alfredo-it's a tough call), the Tiramisu and a cappuccino. And say hello to Nicky the Nose for me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So close...

It's done. Well, almost. One last short training session and I will be done with the Pit of Despair. The move was a horror. An absolute and complete balls up. Everything that could go wrong did. The store still doesn't have its real lighting and is lit mostly by construction lights-you know, bulbs in yellow plastic cages. Classy. The computers still aren't all over there although they should be by the end of the week. No inventory has been done so who knows what the store really has. The newest emergency is that they (that's right, they, not we) have to be out of the old store by the end of the month. The new tenants want in. Amazingly the place has already been taken. By Nike. I have high hopes they will do a good job renovating. The place could be gorgeous with some care and attention. At the very least they need to gut the rear end and replace the bathrooms.

On the business front we are approaching Zero Hour. The site is almost done. Now comes the entering of the data and the images. I have to take a bunch of pictures. Think good thoughts for me that they come out well. Then it will be time to crack a bottle of champagne across the bow and let her go out into the wide world. My heart's all a-flutter. Or maybe that's the butterflies in my stomach. Don't worry. I'll let everyone know when happens.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Today's Items

The evil day has come. The cats have discovered the toilet paper. I knew it was coming when I found the roll edge hanging down to the floor with claw holes in it. I came home this evening to find the whole thing unrolled and lying in a pile on the floor. I sat down on the edge of the tub and laughed and laughed. I suppose if it keeps happening it won't be so funny. I'll have to try hiding it behind a towel (the towel bar is right above).

The Pit of Despair continues its move. A mess. A total and complete mess. How we are going to open on Thursday is beyond me. The cash register area still doesn't have power or data ports. And there is dust covering everything. If we turn the computers on in the dust bowl all the hard drives will be clogged in an hour. But there is no reasoning with the big cheese. To give you a clear example of what we are dealing with: the owner asked that we flatten the paper stuff had been wrapped in so it would take up less space in the garbage. Three days to opening, stuff is still not all out, computers not installed, and he is concerned about paying a bit extra to the garbage company. I am not making this up.

But there was a very bright spot in an otherwise annoying day at The Pit. Today a former co-worker of ours came in to work for the day. He is very kind and always brings candy when he comes. Yesterday he went to the ComicCon. While there, far away from the Pit, he bought a calender featuring a Star Trek character and had her sign it for me. (He knows I am a Trek fan). How incredibly sweet and thoughtful is that? I can hardly stand it. I think it's his mother's influence. She is an impossibly elegant and charming woman. The kind who can walk into a 5 star hotel that she's never been to before and have the entire staff at her beck and call as soon as she steps in the door. You couldn't possibly grow up around her and be anything but gracious.

Monday, September 11, 2006

2996 Tribute


Five years ago today we all experienced a great tragedy. We can still hear and feel its echoes today, especially those of us who live in New York City for we have a physical reminder of that day. The workers at Ground Zero did an incredible job and now only a neat hole remains. It looks like any other construction sight. Unless you know what was there before. The Towers stood for almost all of my life, they were a fixture, ever present. Every now and then when I pass the site I still experience a moment of disbelief that they are gone. Even so, I was fortunate. The one person I knew who worked in the Towers got out early on that day, even before the second plane hit. Others were not so lucky. There are 2996 names inscribed on the memorial. This entry is a tribute to one of the fallen.

Laura Marie Ragonese-Snik was 41 years old in 2001. She was born on August 29, 1960. Wife of John, mother of James. Every workday she commuted from Bangor, PA to her job at Aon Corporation. She loved to laugh and she loved to sing and would jump at the chance to perform, be it in church or on a karaoke stage.

Though Laura lived in Bangor she was a New Yorker. She went to John Jay High School in Brooklyn. There she met her best friend and future sister-in-law Maria, a.k.a. Reasy. In 2001 they had been friends for 27 years. And they still are. Maria and Laura's family have created a non-profit organization called Laura's Angels. Maria wrote: "A very powerful author, Anna Quindlen wrote: “Sometimes the lights go on for the darkest possible reason.” That is, in essence, what happened to me after the events of 9/11. The choice was before me; I could either sink into the darkness and despair that threatened to consume me at every turn, or I could find a way to do something positive in the name of our loved ones. With the help of my close friend, Diane DeWitt, I chose the latter, and that is how “Laura's Angels” came to be."

It began on the first Christmas after 9/11. Maria and her friend Diane decorated a tree with hand made angels. They asked each of Laura's family members to take one as reminder of Laura. To Maria's surprise the angels did not get packed up with the other ornaments in January. They stayed out and provided comfort to Laura's family. Maria decided to extend the gift to all those who had lost someone on September 11 and Laura's Angels was born. Each year at Christmas a tree is chosen and decorated with 3000 angels, one for each person lost on that day so that we never forget them. Maria has plans for Laura's Angels. She hopes to create a network for families and survivors and to work on a permanent memorial.

All of the letters and tributes to Laura speak of her as a bright joyful person. Think of her then in joy. Remember her life and keep peace in your heart. Spread it around so we never have to lose another life to hate and ignorance.


Laura's Quilt Square

To read other tributes please go here.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

At Long Last

It has finally arrived, The Pit of Despair's last day in its current location. The hoards have been out looking for bargains and yesterday they were buying everything. It's amazing what people will buy if they think its a bargain. Even so, they won't have bought enough. There will still be much to pack up, a lot of it breakable.

Picture it: piles of merchandise and mountains of boxes, huge rolls of bubblewrap careening around the floor as the staff work to wrap it all up. The manager has set up a system to keep it all in order and woe betide the employee who forgets to label a box. The system is on a spreadsheet, a thing of beauty in itself, that should probably get framed and stuck up on the wall in the new store. But we know the best laid plans of mice and men...

Pray for us, gentle reader.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Home Stretch

We have reached the part of my work project that I was dreading. I must hand the system over to the masses. The people at the top have not bothered to play with the system to learn how it works. And they are not the sort of people who can extrapolate from previous experience. They also cannot problem solve. We bought our new system from a dealer. The dealer rep who has been training us is very sad that I am leaving. He likes me because I have hardly needed him at all. I can read a manual and I can learn from trial and error so I have not called unless I really could not find the answer. He knows that once I am gone he will be called on to deal with the masters of The Pit. I do not have a lot of sympathy. He makes much more money than I do.
Anyway, I am training people as best I can. They will learn what they will. Eventually I will be gone and they will have to fend for themselves. At least the sales staff will be able to function and the floor managers will know what to do. They do know how to learn.
On the positive front I got the hourly rate I wanted for my work once my official time as an employee has ended. It was a bit like pulling teeth or prying something from a body in rigor but I did it. I feel pretty good about that. For one brief shining moment I will actually get what my work is worth. Yay me.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Business

When I started this blog I'd intended to chronicle the start of my business. I haven't really been doing that, mostly because it isn't all that interesting. There have been some trials and tribulations with the website, troubles with ordering because a number of vendors are unwilling to sell to web only stores, clerical work, and cooing over product that has arrived. I find that as the time gets closer when I will leave my job completely and plunge fully into this business that I am swinging between idea filled optimism and stomach tightening anxiety over the state of my financial future. Open any good book of quotes and you get all sorts of pithy sayings about challenges being the spice of life and how being comfortable means that you should move on. All I have to say to that is hah! I've been told that in a year I will wonder what I was worried about and I really hope that turns out to be the case. But whatever happens it is true that I can look myself in the eye each day and I don't have to go around seeing myself in a bad light. (We all know how I hate doing that.) May all the gods of new businesses smile on me.

Change

I have been fiddling with my blog template and have actually managed to make some decent changes in spite of the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing. Fortunately Blogger lets you preview any html changes before saving. I still have to figure out the outer margins and change some colors, including the background. I probably need to look at some books so I can find the right code to change. Anybody got a recommendation for a good HTML book?

Host



Friday, September 01, 2006

Different Views

Following Lady Epiphany's lead I set up a Johari window with links in my previous post. Only one person followed the link. But that was interesting enough. The window has you pick 5 or 6 adjectives to describe yourself and then others can pick too. In the window you see the two lists. Out of the 6 that I and my visitor picked, only one was duplicated. In Lady Epiphany's window only 2 are repeated (she had 3 visitors). I find that fascinating. We see ourselves differently from how others see us. We think we know what sort of image we present to the world but in reality we have no idea of how that image is perceived. And then of course there's the fact that we are often hyper-critical of ourselves. Perfectionists out there will recognize the problems inherent in holding ourselves to a higher standard than we hold anyone else. We need to learn give ourselves a little slack and to accept praise when it comes to us.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Follow the Leader

Following Lady Epiphany's lead, what do you see in me?
Though I am going to add the flip side too. What are my weaknesses?
This second is more intriguing since we are always our own worst critics.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Beta

I was unaware, until I read Lady Epiphany's latest post, that Blogger had a new Beta version. As you can see, I have switched templates. I like the style of this one but I think it needs a different image for the background. But that will have to wait since this new Beta version does not have raw template editing. Attempting that edit when it is available will be an adventure. I think I'll have to get my hands on a basic HTML guide. Any suggestions for a good one?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

UPS

A couple of weeks ago I received a UPS notice. The next day I waited for him to come (the note said 10:30-2:00). Finally, at 5:00pm I had to go out to forage for food. I thought to myself that if I went the UPS man would come. Sure enough, as I came back up the hill there was the UPS truck. I went to it and asked the man if he had tried to deliver to my place. In fact he hadn't. He let me sign right there. Then he admitted what I had long known was true. They do lie in wait until you are gone and then they try to deliver.

I knew, having tracked a package, that it was due to be delivered today. I decided to go out as early as I could to do my errands. No good. I was gone for only 40 minutes until just past 10:30am and what was waiting for me? That's right, a UPS slip.

I swear, next time I am going to lay a trap. One of those big bear traps.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Names

Tonight on my train home there was a woman with a small boy. I would guess he was about 4 or so. He had lots of energy and reminded me a bit of my cats. He would climb on the seats then toss his toy car and pounce on it. He was however, louder than the cats and just as we were pulling in to the last station he fell and hit the side of his head on a pole. He began to cry. Really cry. Wail in fact. His mother tried to soothe him and I suspect caution him about the dangers of playing on the train. The wailing was not attractive but I felt sympathetic. Not because he was hurt but because he is saddled with the unlikely name of Maximilian. What kind of thing is that to do to a child? There's only two choices. First, Max, in which case he will have to be a bartender, a bookie, or a character actor. Second Maximilian, in which case he will somehow have to acquire a title and a castle in the Bavarian Alps. Tough either way. Don't people know that names really do influence who you become? Occasionally we rise above them, as my friend Jennifer who is anything but common and ordinary. But usually we live up to our names or nicknames. And they influence the behavior of others towards us. Marion Morrison knew this and changed his name to John Wayne. Names have power.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Comfort Zone

Everyone is looking for the coolest spot.


Still Unbroken

The heat wave has broken. That's what they say anyway. I'm not convinced. 90 degrees is still pretty warm. I think the heat wave has merely cracked and won't actually break for another week.

These are the times that test the tree hugger. I almost succumbed and bought an air conditioner but I couldn't quite bring myself to do it. Honestly, it wasn't for me but for the cats and the computer. The cats have been spending their time lying behind the toilet on the tiles and the computer can only be used for a short while before it has to be allowed to cool off. But it could be worse. I could be one of the workmen hanging off the front of my building in the blazing sun or a Con Ed worker stuck in a manhole where the heat reaches 115 degrees. I can't even imagine it.

I am now on my 3 day week at work. Quite nice except that I haven't wanted to go anywhere or do much more than lie about. I feel pretty flabby. The office job combined with my gimpy ankle have kept me off my feet for a couple months and I feel jelly like. I do have to go out today, back to the acupuncturist. My right hand is being difficult. I've tried to give it rest, time to heal but I'm not even a little ambidextrous. I think what I need is a nice little vacation where I do nothing but lie in a hammock sipping cool drinks, nibbling on tasty morsels, and reading. I can do all of that with my left hand. No problem.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Defeat-For the Moment

Nora has won and I am defeated. The great cat toilet training experiment has come to a sad end. She simply refused to cooperate. As soon as I made that first small hole she refused to pee in the container and peed on the floor instead. She would still poop in the container but not pee. That defeats me. Cats are not like dogs. There is no guilt one can work with. "Bad Cat!" does not cause any shame. Dogs are Catholics, cats are Pagans. But I have not given up entirely. I will try again in a year or so. Maybe she'll be ready then.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Still Solid

Remember what I said about finding a space? Forget it. One of the other tenants has recklessly decided to expand her business and has taken it. I was going to be angry with her and break out the doll and pins but then I decided that maybe she saved me. Obviously the space was all wrong and the universe has saved me from an egregious error.

On the plus side I have not melted away. It was a very real possibility yesterday as the temperature soared in The Hole. Also, the cats have not expired. They persist in running about like mad things even though it is so hot that they have to stop periodically to pant. You know it's hot when the cats are panting.

I know what you're thinking. Why doesn't she just get an airconditioner? I'll tell ya. First, I don't like the things. They make the air all dry and stale tasting. Plus they suck up electricity and dump hot air out into the world which is hot enough. (Remember, I am a bleeding heart, tree-hugging, pinko liberal). Then there's the fact that I have only two windows in the main room. A big honkin' air conditioner would cut off a lot of light that I need. Lastly, one sill is already filled with plants so if I stuck the A/C in the other window the cats would have no where to sit where they could see out into the world and they do like doing that. I suppose I could take it out each fall and put it back in the summer but that's a big pain in the butt and where would I keep the damn thing the rest of the time? So, we all have to get over it, there will be no A/C at Chez Sheep.

In further news I am having acupuncture treatment for my carpal tunnely hand and my stressed out ankle. It's quite interesting. I have had only one treatment so far and my acupuncturist thinks I'll probably need 3. (I'm having one today) Not too bad. He also prescribed some herbs to soak my sad parts. They are kind of a smelly concoction, especially with the vinegar that gets added. When I did my first soak Nick hissed at the bowl. But it may be doing some good. It's hard to tell. I suspect it will need more time. I will keep you posted on progress. The herbal pharmacy that he sent me to was fascinating. It's in Chinatown and is filled with all sorts of interesting things. They use these great little hand held scales to weigh everything. I might have to get one.

From cooler days:

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm Still Here

It's been a while since I've written but don't worry, I'm still here.

I gave my notice at The Pit on Thursday. A lovely feeling. Though there is still a lot of work to do and it is the tricky kind. The store manager and I have to create policies for everything in the new store. We want to make it as idiot proof as possible. We expect opposition and I suspect I will have to do some yelling. Might be fun.

In business news I have found a space for the business. It has it's pros and cons but I think the former outweigh the latter. It's really cheap. And the neighborhood is cool (though far from me). And the leaseholder seems sane. And it's an artists space so if I want to do some manufacturing I can. It is only semi-private but that may be all to the good. I was a little afraid I'd go for days without speaking to anyone. I like my alone time but there's a limit. This way they won't find me talking to the walls.

In weather news it's supposed to hit 100 degrees today. The Pit is going to be almost unbearable. Will someone call in a bomb scare? Please?

Here for you is an expressive face:

Monday, June 26, 2006

Revelations

My sister, brother in law and nephews were in town today and we had dinner together along with a friend of theirs. Near the end of the dinner I related to my sister that our cousin who is lending me money for the business had annoyed me by implying that I didn't know what I was doing. It was unsolicited advice. Her opinion was that I was ungrateful and that it was all in my head. This is not the case. I am grateful but I should not have to prove myself to someone I know. I also don't think she understands what it took for me to ask for that money. She does not have my fierce pride. I haven't asked anyone for money since I was 19 years old and I don't like it. I can ask for advice and for someone's expertise but I do not take kindly to unsolicited advice or to having to ask for help. I have worked hard to be good at what I do. I have to know, must know, that I have done it on my own. My independence is as important as the air that I breathe.

I realized something else as we talked. Her sons seemed to think that we were squabbling. I would not have said so. We disagreed but that was it. However, in the house where we grew up such things were not so visible. At least not when I was there. It was a WASPY place. In my friend Rebecca's family our discussion would have been merely business as usual but for my nephews it was a squabble. I know my sister cannot stand when my father argues and I try not to do it around her but I would not have backed down about this. I don't' think you should agree just to keep the peace. There must be a middle ground. I know I do not reveal my feelings easily and I see where it comes from. I have struggled to become more open and I found it funny that I was the loud one at the dinner. I realized that I have in fact i have always been the loud one, the one with the opinions. They see me as argumentative and as someone who needs to be right. I do like being right but it is more important to be true to what I believe. I love my family and I enjoy them but I have always felt slightly apart, as if I couldn't quite make them see me. Perhaps it is my own doing, my reticence and independence. But only in part. Somehow I grew up different, more proud, more opinionated, more the Alpha type than any of them. More my father's daughter perhaps. He did not get along with his own siblings, has not spoken to them in a long time.

What can we do? Families are a difficult thing at best. I am more fortunate than most that I can enjoy a short time together and not dread the holidays. Look for your blessings. They are there. Even in the family.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Passion and Purpose

One of the blogs I read regularly belongs to Eunny Jang. (See sidebar). She has a knitting blog and her knitting is awesome. I mean that in the literal sense of the word. It is even more awesome if you know that she is only 23.
Every now and then I run into someone like that, someone who had tremendous drive and energy and purpose early on in his/her life. When my father was in high school he heard an architect speak on Career Day. And that was it. My father knew he would be an architect and he never looked back. My friend Lisa's brother was drawing plans when he was a little boy and is now a landscape architect who loves his job.
I've always envied those people. I like a lot of things. Knitting, cooking, history, archeology, art. But I don't have a real passion for any one thing. And without the passion it is hard to get in gear. If I had my way I would have a bunch of different jobs all at once. Then maybe I wouldn't get bored and go after the next shiny object. My other problem is that I don't like risk. At least not security in life risk. I want to know that I can pay my bills and eat every day. I like the comforts of home and am loathe to do anything that might jeopardize having them.
I know. I should just get over it. No risk, no gain. One step at a time. And several other cliches to get you through. I am interested to see how it will all turn out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One Hundred More

I quite liked Lady Epiphany's list of 100 random things about her so I am doing one too. In any case it is better than doing the tedious reports.

1. I was born at St. Vincent's Hopital in Greenwich Village.
2. My middle name is Nina.
3. I have two cat's named Nick and Nora.
4. A while ago I learned to spin yarn but I haven't done any spinning in months.
5. I'm a closet romantic.
6. I had a compression fracture of my second lumbar vertebra.
7. I too believe in love at first site.
8. I read Robert Brezny's weekly horoscope in the Village Voice.
9. My sister is 8 years older and 4 inches shorter than I am.
10. My mother was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
11. I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 12.
12. I like lasagna best when it's cold.
13. I've never been falling down drunk.
14. I have been hung over.
15. My birthday is April 7th.
16. I know my rising sign: Cancer.
17. I was not breast fed.
18. I went to The Bronx High School of Science.
19. I have a degree in Theatrical Design but I am no longer in Theatre.
20. If I could do it all again there are two things I would change.
21. I like those old Dracula movies starring Peter Cushing.
22. I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people.
23. I wish I wrote letters more often.
24. When I was little I had an imaginary friend.
25. I've been a techie, a stage manager, a designer, an office manager, a receptionist, a retail sales person, and am about to be a business owner.
26. When I was 5 I fell down some stairs hit my head and was out for a minute.
27. I want to go to Egypt and Morocco.
28. I enjoy seeing my family at holidays, but only for limited time periods.
29. When I was 13 I was caught shoplifting candy at the 7/11. That was my last attempt though I have walked off with office supplies since then.
30. When I was 3 my beach ball floated away and I was afraid to go in the water in case I floated away. I got over it.
31. I want to learn to sail.
32. My paternal grandfather was a veterinarian.
33. I'm sad that I never got to know him.
34. I want to live in a house with a garden.
35. I occasionally miss having long hair.
36. I read Tarot cards.
37. I wear size 7 1/2 shoes.
38. I stopped growing when I was 13.
39. No one ever asked me what I wanted to be when I was a child.
40. When I was 12 I wrote a mystery story. The butler did it.
41. I wish I didn't have to work at all.
42. I have no need to be famous, just comfortable.
43. I wish I could have a dog (or two).
44. My hair is brown with a smattering of gray (now covered by henna).
45. I had a co-worker once who called me Scully. I found that strangely gratifying.
46. I love summer.
47. My first crush was a boy named John Tepedino.
48. Looking back I know that he was very kind and generous and I hope he is well.
49. I often start things and then don't finish them.
50. My mother died when I was 7.
51. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if she hadn't.
52. I often expect the worst.
53. And yet I expect that everything will be all right.
54. I don't like taking cabs.
55. I want to learn to scuba dive.
56. I prefer to be alone when I am sick.
57. When I was 21 I stepped on a nail.
58. I am not bothered by the sight of blood.
59. I am underpayed.
60. I prefer Carolans to Bailey's.
61. I make sour cherry brandy.
62. I almost went to school for architecture.
63. My freshman year my roommate and I painted a to scale Boston T map on our wall.
64. I love yarn and fiber.
65. I have very little patience for people who do not know how to think.
66. My eyes are brown.
67. I was born in the Year of the Dog.
68. I like to do yoga.
69. I own 80 cookbooks.
70. I am trying to get to 200 cookbooks.
71. I don't have a favorite color.
72. I hate working at a desk all day.
73. My favorite author is Terry Pratchett.
74. When I was four I started learning the violin.
75. I gave it up in junior high school.
76. Sometimes I think it would be nice to start it up again.
77. One of my favorite books is The House of Seven Gables.
78. Sometimes I think I was born into the wrong time.
79. I believe in the concept of Karma.
80. When I was 8 I moved in with my father's first cousin and her husband.
81. I lived in Queens for 10 years.
82. When I was 5 I thought only Manhattan was New York City.
83. I like "dirty water" franks with saurkraut and mustard.
84. I am 5'5" tall.
85. I am an anglophile.
86. My father's side of my family came to the US in 1832.
87. I used to be a night person but now I am becoming more of a morning person.
88. I love cherries, could eat them until I blow up.
89. I have 2 tattoos and am considering getting a third.
90. In acting class we had to sing a song. I sang the theme to the Brady Bunch.
91. By the end of the song everyone had joined in.
92. Occasionally I miss the theatre.
93. I have never smoked. Ever.
94. If I could be anything in the world and be successful at it I would be a writer.
95. I prefer to fix things myself than hire someone to do it.
96. My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.
97. I have a weakness for stationery stuff-paper, pens, markers, etc..
98. I love shoes, I understand Imelda Marcos completely.
99. I share my birthday with Billie Holliday, Francis Ford Coppola, and Jackie Chan.
100.Making this list turned out to be harder than I thought.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Monday

We made it. It almost did us in but we made it. The store is a complete mess and no one is looking forward to putting it back together. Instead of being carried to Oz by the tornado we were left here in Kansas to clean up the mess it left behind.
I am back in the Hole and I must do reports for April and then May so that we are caught up. This project that I accepted has turned into much more than originally planned. Not that I'm surprised by that. It was inevitable. But I still don't like it. And as construction has not begun on the new place it is seeming less and less likely that we will be moving in August. It's only a month and a half away! (Sigh)
On the plus side the Master of the Pit has given up on the idea of the party in the tent. Our manager convinced him that it would really be a slap in the face. Or possibly a custard pie in the face.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Once more, with feelings of disgust

We have almost reached the weekend and the denizens of the Pit of Despair are once again getting ready for an outdoor sale. We walk about in a fog of disbelief that it is actually happening again. We wonder, will we make to Sunday night? Or will the crowds overwhelm us and leave us lying bloody and broken? The other pressing question is will we have anything to sell? They cleaned us out two weeks ago and much of the replacement merchandise has not arrived. The twisted side of me hopes that the stuff does not get here. It would be darkly humorous. But it would also be kind of horrible if we did all the work for nothing. Not that we are likely to see any of the profit. Our manager and head buyer have been lobbying for cash bonuses for us but the master of the Pit has a tight grip on his wallet. He just can't bear to give it away. What happens if he gives some away and then the business fails (after 30 years) and he is left destitute? Needless to say, the denizens are less than pleased with this. It's hard to give your all with no hope of reward. The master has come up with a further winning idea. As a thank you to the staff he will give a catered party with a band... in July, in the very tent where we have been toiling these past weeks. As if we ever want to see the damned tent again. Or stand in its sweaty confines while eating off of tiny plates.

So while you are enjoying this weekend, spare a thought for the denizens of the Pit and say a little prayer that we get a proper thank you.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Too Much

I hope Lady Epiphany feels better today. I am sorry that I did not get to visit with her and the new ankle biter yesterday. She and her husband may be more sorry since I baked a cake. It was their anniversary the day before and I wanted to get them something. But what? Of course, cake. It stared at me all the afternoon until I succumbed and ate some of it, more than I probably should have. However, I cannot eat all of it. That would be one and a half sticks of butter, three quarters of a pound of chocolate, one and a half cups of sour cream, half a pound of sugar, and half a pound of flour. A bit much for one person even several days. So I am freezing some of it for later cake need and taking the rest of it to work. I'm sure the denizens of The Pit will welcome it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In Fond Memory

For Daphne, who left this world much too soon.

Mom
Friend
Woman who didn't take any crap from anyone.

You will be missed.

Survival

I have managed to survive the week from Hell. The Pit of Despair (my job for those just tuning in) is moving sometime this summer so we are having two big sales, partly to get rid of some things but mostly to make a pile of money to tide us over while we are closed. The Pit has a big sale every June in the parking lot next to our building. We put up a tent and fill it with a ton of stuff. Some of the deals are really good but there's also a lot of junk. We process about 600 customers on average and make some good money. The Saturday of the sale is always the busiest but this year was something else. I have no idea where they all came from but it was a madhouse. You could barely move in the tent and the line to pay stretched out the door and down to the next corner. And they bought everything. Not just the good stuff like cookware and appliances but shelf liners and spoons and mismatched napkins and cobalt blue cow butter dishes (really). One woman proudly told me how she had "snatched victory form the jaws of defeat" by grabbing a pan that she wanted from another woman when that woman left it unattended for a minute. I waited all day for a fist fight to break out over something but we managed to avoid that. We did this for three days, three 12 hour days filled with madness. But we made it, along with a serious pile of money.

We do it again in 2 weeks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

One More

Today I went and opened my business accounts at the bank. Another step on the road taken. With each step the business becomes more tangible. It's really going to happen. And then, no matter what happens after that I'll know that I tried, gave it my best effort. It may be trite but it makes all the difference. I have mostly taken the path of least resistance if not always the road well traveled. Now I've changed that and I feel pretty good, in spite of the lingering fear and anxiety.

The small business manager at the bank was very nice. She's lived in this neighborhood for 30 years. We agreed that we needed a good coffee bar and a bookstore. Anybody ready to start one? It's a sure thing.

On a different subject, the cats have been careening around the place after a fly. Plants have been knocked over, last minute saves made during leaps but so far the fly has gotten away. Nick stared at it for quite some time making these small growls and meows. The hunting instinct is alive and well here in the big city.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Soapbox

Today I met up with my sister and two of my cousins. We had dinner together. During this dinner a subject came up that is dear to my heart. Now I will be the first to admit that I like to argue and I like to be right. I get this from my father. I try to control it and not play devil's advocate too often. And in fairness to myself I am often right. I try to think before I speak.
Anyway. My sister's older child has troubles. He is very bright and loves to read. His vocabulary is advanced for his years but his social skills are lacking. He does not see when his opinions and pronouncements are not welcomed. He gets beaten up as a result. My cousin Mark said that he should be taught how to get along, how to conform. I swear he used that word. That's when I got on my soapbox. (I have a portable one, ready to be taken out at any moment.) I said that you should never give up yourself and change yourself for others. I said that with time my nephew would learn how to be more diplomatic and more aware of how other's felt but he's only 11. He has to mature. My cousin said life would be easier if he learned to get along. I said that it was true life would suck for a while but he would be glad later. My cousin said, who would know if you behaved differently in the group? I said, I would. I said that I had to look at myself in the mirror every day and that although a lot of school had sucked for me I was so glad I hadn't tried to fit in. The argument ended there. They laughed and said I was my father's daughter. I tried to say that this was serious to me but it was over. They couldn't see what I meant. Mark in particular. He kept insisting it would be easier to learn to fit in.
Now this is from a man who stayed in the closet until he was 50. He worked in a corporate world and thought that would be better. Yes, he has made a lot of money and he retired at 51 but what did he lose? Who did he miss along the way? What could he have done and been if he had accepted himself and been true to that? There were places he could have worked that would have accepted him. I think he just couldn't accept it.
I found on the way home that I was truly upset. In today's world there is sooo much pressure to conform, to be like everyone else. Kids who don't fit in get medicated. Adults medicate themselves. Any deviation from the norm is anathema. Individuality and imagination are disappearing. Where will we be if people cannot think outside the norm? Do you feel different? Treasure the feeling. Hold it to your heart like the truly precious thing it is. And if your kids are different, celebrate them, encourage them to be all they are.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pets

The other day as I was walking to the subway I saw a bulldog that had a champagne cork in his mouth. He had it by the bottom so the just the top was poking out. He looked like he'd been corked. Weird.

As some of you know I am attempting to toilet train my cats using a thing by Citikitty.com. It's a toilet shaped plastic tray that you put over your toilet and then fill with litter. You gradually remove parts of the tray (in a concentric pattern) until there is no litter left and your cat is using the toilet. When I think of never scooping litter again I feel almost beatific.

As for my cats, so far, so good. There was a brief bit of trouble initially but now we are happily using the litter in the toilet. The company suggests one week for each stage but I think I may go two weeks. We'll see how it goes. The bathroom is a bit messier now and the cover is harder to scoop than a big litter box but I think the extra work will be worth it. If I manage to get a picture of a cat on the toilet I will post it. No promises, they're kind of shy about it.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More Walking

Yesterday I chose to walk uptown, up into Riverdale all the way to the Westchester County line. The route took me past Van Cortlandt Park. Though I had passed it many times in a car I'd never been to the park. It's pretty nice. At the south entrance there is a statue of a coyote. Apparently a coyote wandered onto the Deegan Expressway some years ago and they decided to erect a statue. A little odd but kind of nice.

Then there's a pool and a picnic area. It was completely deserted but in the summer time it must be filled with people. I like the idea of a pool but you'd probably have to go early in morning to avoid the screaming crowds.

Further north I found a big open field. There was a low hanging mist yesterday and the place looked a bit otherwordly. At the south end of the field there is a stone house. The Van Cortlandt House Museum. I didn't have time to stop but I want to go back and check it out.

The field itself was partly occupied by Canadian Geese. (I thought of John.) Further down the path there is a little set of bleachers and a statue of a tortoise and a hare. I didn't stop to read the plaque so I don't know why it's there. Another item on the "to do" list for future walks. Perhaps some planner has a penchant for animal sculptur

The only problem with the park is that the on-ramps for the Deegan and the Henry Hudson go right through it. Probably Robert Moses' fault. That man had highways on the brain. It's a shame because the park could really be spectacular.

Once you get by the on-ramps and into the top half of the park you find the Riverdale Equestrian Center. I intend to call them and find out what they charge for riding lessons. Probably more than I can afford but you never know.

I didn't go much further than that, just to the end of the park. I walked back on the other side of the street so I could peer into all the little shops. I also passed several senior housing centers. They've got a fabulous view of the park.

There were several very pretty blocks with flower-filled gardens. It would be a nice place to live except that it's missing so many things. The subway is a good 10 blocks away and there didn't seem to be any grocery stores or good restaurants around. I think you'd have to have a car. Not exactly suburbia but close.

By the time you reach the county line the neighborhood begins to change again, looking more run down. I know that it then changes again as you head further into Westchester. It's like the city is striped.

I want to go back on a Saturday, to see the park filled with people and dogs. It had a lonely feel yesterday with only a few people in the mist.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wrong Map

As some of you know I have chosen to walk in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The walk is 39 miles over 2 days. I took my first training walk today. A short walk, only 5 miles or so. I piled my Goodwill donation into the cart and set out. I had looked at a map to pick a route and found one that seemed nice. It would take me past some park land and into a neighborhood that I hadn't been to before. What I really needed, however, was a topographical map. One street I had chosen is named Fort George Hill. And they weren't kidding. It is a serious hill. In fact, it seemed to go on forever. The hill never really levels off. You get to the apex and then it starts down. The people coming down looked at me with surprise and a bit of pity. Crazy woman, why didn't she go a different way if she had to push a full cart? On the way back, walking down the hill, I could hardly believe I'd made it up. The upshot of all this is that the 5 miles felt more like 8. It's all to the good though. I need to get into better shape. I may go back. Without the cart.

TGIF

Thank goodness this week is over. I worked 6 days in a row and that is no good at all. Judge my state by the fact that yesterday I would much rather have been with Lady Epiphany at the Two's and Three's Reading Party at the public library. I would cheerfully have made elephants on sticks and listened to children's stories rather than be at my desk in The Hole. I remember a time, in my former life when I worked in theatre, when I frequently worked many days in a row without a break. But as hard as that labor was it did not make me want to stab out my eyeballs just so I could go home. And of course it is not just the actual work. It's true, entering numbers endlessly is no fun. But if the environment was pleasant it would be much better. My employers do not understand the connection between environment and productivity. They expect you to do your job well in spite of the fact that they undermine you at every turn. In the end even a staunch Protestant Work Ethic gives up in despair.

No matter, I am getting out. I will be free.

In other news I am finally getting rid of a big pile of unwanted clothes and shoes. They have been sitting in bags, waiting patiently for me to take them to the Goodwill store where they will become wanted. Who knew I had so much space? I met a woman the other night who owns a company called The Spacialist (www.thespacialist.com). She will, for a fee, help you organize your home, your office, and possibly your life. It is an intriguing idea. Normally I think of myself as able to organize but once you've been staring at your own space for a long time I think you stop seeing it. You cannot imagine how it could be different. But on the whole I think I would rather spend the money on organizational stuff.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not Another One!

We have a new employee at my job. He is the new assistant manager. I like him but he has an unfortunate tendency to pun. And we already have one of those. That one spends time thinking them up and then he comes and tells me. I get more gray hairs every time. Now I've got two of them. One a planner and other a spontaneous punner. What were their parents thinking? I urge you all, don't let your children become punners. Just say NO.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tag I'm It

I have been tagged for the Weirdness Meme.
6 weird things about me. This was tough. Hard to distinguish between weird and just idiosyncratic. Here goes.

1. I talk to myself, a lot. Though not usually in public. Comes from the days when I was little and had an imaginary friend I would talk to. Lost the friend, kept the talk.

2. Whenever I leave the house for an extended period I have to make sure that the stove is off, the fridge is completely closed and the kitchen faucet is off. If I go out the door and I haven't done it I have to go back in and do it. I call it my "idiot check". And if I'm going away for a few days I also unplug anything that can be unplugged.

3. I like rats. I think they're cool. I wouldn't want an infestation but I'd love to have them as pets. However, my cats would probably eat them.

4. This is a an OCD thing but I'm including it. If I have 3 or more books by a single author on my shelves they must be in chronological order (by publication date). I can't stand it any other way.

5. I really want to own a pair of thigh high shit kicker boots. You know the ones, with the high high heels all in leather.

6. When I get old I want to be the weird old lady with several cats and a spooky house that all the children run by on Halloween.

There. How's that?