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


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


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


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


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


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.