Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New York, New York. New York?!

Twice in a week, even!
This was Mr. Wonderful's first trip. We went into the city on the Sunday morning following my Monday Fashion Week visit. Sunday is an excellent time to have a poke around if you're new to it. I say this like I know. Having been there a whole four times myself, I am apparently now an expert.We took the train from our hotel in Stamford into Grand Central Station.
We headed out onto the street with a loose objective in mind. So loose I can't remember what it was any more. Whatever it was I promptly got us lost with the assistance of my iPhone, and we found ourselves wandering around a bit confused until we stumbled on this:Radio City Music Hall.
Then more stumbling around yielded this:Times Square.
And this:Rockefeller Center.
And this:5th Avenue at St. Patrick's Cathedral on a Sunday morning with dudes with big guns. No, I don't know why. And no, they and their guns didn't really concern me much, beyond wondering who we were fussing over. I never did find out. At two other churches on 5th there were similar gatherings of dudes with guns. Maybe this is just a typical Sunday in New York. Wouldn't want to show up at church without my body armor and my AK-47.Inside the cathedral is breathtaking. I need to go back with the good camera. I'm not even Catholic and had a sudden urge to genuflect, spit out a few Hail Mary's (yes, I know it), cross myself and light a candle.
Wandering onward, we suddenly found ourselves in familiar surroundings.Even in Manhattan the mouse finds us. It felt like World of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace, really. All the same stuff but without the 2.5 hours of air travel, thousands spent on hotel and meals and park tickets. I get the same feeling from Disney stores. I seek them out in malls to ease my mall fatigue (I hate malls). A little mouse is always good for what ails you.
Anybody know what this is?Yup, that's Tiffany's!
At the Apple store we found a very Hollywood Pomeranian - click on her for the full effect.This actually made me wonder where he got this stuff, and would Dazee wear it, particularly the glasses.
This was the intended destination, the reason we'd come,The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I may be the only person in my reading audience who's seen just about all of the Sister Wendy series formerly on PBS and now on DVD. I adore her. I have a secret goal to visit every museum from every show she's ever recorded. Shh, don't tell anyone. It'll just be between us, right?
We paused for lunch and Mr. Wonderful found out first hand about the cost of live in the city. It didn't help that we ordered drinks.I had a very yummy Maelstrom Martini, which is named for the exhibit currently on the roof of the Met:This is Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom, or at least one small bit of it. While Gene hung over the side of the roof staring at endless city vistas I was entranced by the twisting flow of this. At first it feels chaotic, but a moment of stillness reveals this strange peace about it. Difficult to describe, but as we say around here "I know what I like, and I like this."
Back at our hotel the next morning there was a roof display, too.This is the "Jobs Mister Wonderful Will Never Have" exhibit at the Hilton in Stamford.
Oh...why...what have we here? Is this a blue box? A gift for me? and a gift for him too in the little white folder.I think it's nice that they give him something too. It would feel very one-sided if I got my little blue box and he didn't get something out of the experience.
After a delightful (no really, they actually had real oatmeal) breakfast at the Hilton we headed to see Lyme Guy who gave me more drugs and no good news, or maybe it is good, I am not sure, so we'll skip that and move onto the best part of the day - The Eastern States Exposition!
Also known as the Big E, this fair runs from September to October.I never went as a kid, but lots of my friends did. When my kids were young we got free attendance homeschool vouchers from our support group and started attending. I love it. There's so much to see and do, and I always wish I lived closer so I could go more than once. There's a ton of agriculture here, although no poultry which is sad.
We saw sheep,some of whom were a bit envious of their neighbors who'd just been fed.
There are miniature replicas of the state capitols of the New England states along the Avenue of States. Each state building contains native products and vendors displaying a wealth of local goods. My favorite state is probably Maine. They have baked potatoes for sale, tourist information and most importantlysalmon on a stick. This is about the best smoked salmon I've ever had and it's traditional that I go back for some every year. Mmmm! I also stop in Massachusetts, who's prime crop appears to be state police and lottery tickets, for a pickled egg. I jest. There is much more to Massachusetts than lottery and state cops. Vermont has the most amazing but I can't have it any more flatbread pizza which they prepare for you in a wood-fired oven right in the building, and a Ben and Jerry's scoop shop. New Hampshire has maple products and catnip from Harvest Thyme Herbs in Dublin. Mel prefers Mice Dreams. Rhode Island has quahogs in various forms - chili, fried, you name it. Connecticut has...well...Timex watches? I always feel sort of bad for Connecticut.
Please Don't Feed the Penguins!They love Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Mr. Wonderful gladly obliged.
We stayed late enough that I got to watch the free for all horse pull. I have not seen a free for all in ages.A free for alal is pretty much just what it sounds like, only with rules. Any team, any weight class, although usually it's just the big guys. I sipped a "glass" of a wine I call "French Poodle Chardonnay" (because if it really is, then I am one...) and Mr. W had a draft Budweiser which is alleged to be beer, but I have my doubts there. The final pull was, I believe, 16,000lbs. which is something in the order of four of my car, maybe five. The winners were a team owned by Durgin and Cole, which takes me back to my childhood when the name Durgin was heard in the draw pits at the Franklin County Fair every year.
We finished the night with a quick roam around the midway and bid the Big E goodnight.I headed to the car with a caramel apple in my hand, fingers sticky, the smell of barn in my hair, and just happy to be alive. I feel that way a lot lately.
More fall adventures this weekend: Lexie Barnes sample sale at her studio in South Deerfield and Linda Burt's (well, Linda and family's) Pioneer Valley Vineyard will be opening for the season. If you need me from 10am-5pm on Saturday, look at those places! And then on Sunday we're attending the Garlic and Arts Festival where I'll be scrounging for new seed garlic to add to my own, and tasting all manner of good things like garlic ice cream and sauce so hot it should be illegal.
I think autumn in New England is about the best thing on earth! Or do you have something better near you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blogging. Really, I am!

I stink at this blogging thing lately, anyone notice? At first I was blaming it on the Lyme, but I think it's more than that. The whole blog, which I love, has become at times a bit of a chore. As a result my blogging has become more sporadic. I like it this way, and I hope you are ok with it. I could come in here and make myself come up with something to say every few days or every week or I can save it until I have something to share. In the coming months I'll be sharing bits about the new book here, snips for you to lust over while we all wait (patiently) for the day when it arrives. You could also pre-order it now, if you'd like! I may even share a teeny bit today.
Yesterday was a bit of excitement. I went into New York for Lexie Barnes' Knitting Lounge at Fashion Week. This was tremendous fun. I taught wee little models and a few more rationally proportioned women how to knit the "official" fashion week bracelet; an I-cord bracelet developed by Lexie to be simple to knit, and fun to wear.
I love New York. I can officially say this now. With each trip I become more and more comfortable in the city; not native by any stretch but much less intimidated and much more engaged. I love the older structures, like Grand Central and the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. The Knitting Lounge was held at the Bryant Park Hotel, which is just under a mile from Grand Central. I took Metro North and walked up 42nd to 5th, passing the library on my way and ending at 40 W 40th. Paparazzi were everywhere. Tons of people with cameras both still and video. I got a quick shot of a couple of them, but could not take in the whole. You'll have to trust me. I had to walk through a sea of them because I'd managed to end up on the wrong side of the police barricades in front of the hotel that are intended to keep them at bay. I crossed the police line, totally cheesing off a cabbie, and headed into the hotel. The place is quite lovely. A small lobby, but really does it need to be vast? Very hip and trendy digs. I gave my name to the man guarding the elevators, and up I went to the 8th floor.
There were rumors of famous people. Because I am so out of the loop, I could totally have been on the elevator with someone famous and never would have known. The cluelessness could get me into trouble I suppose. You could be Somebody and I'd be treating you just like Anybody...so if you're expecting Special Treatment, well...think again. I will still be mad if you cut me in line at Starbucks, and I won't get out of the way so you can exit the elevator first. You, famous person, will be shocked, and I will be clueless.
The hotel is full of suites hosting events for various products, notably HauteLook, Victoria's Secret and oddly Nintendo who was pushing a new fashion based game for girls.
I got swag from Victoria's Secret. We fibbed a bit and said I was a trimmings expert. I do know lace when I see it, I suppose. I fondled some bras and panties, felt ridiculous, but got a $25 gift card with my name on it which I have already spent, and a swag bag stuffed with VS goodies.I also got a super-cool Lexie Barnes swag bag with two samples from red flower, delicious curried nuts from Heirloom Meals, and a copy of Sew What Bags.There's also a supermodel meal in a box (contains 8 complete meals!) from BlueQ, and a pattern leaflet from Tahki Stacy Charles. There was a wee bottle of Pearl Vodka, but we had that with sushi for dinner. Thirteen hour days in which a country mouse trots to the country and back again deserve, I think, a small tipple. Fun day even without it though!
Now some knitting...
First a pair of socks in progress for Mr Wonderful. I love the dyeing of this yarn. It's Misty Mountain Jublilee from Blue Ridge Yarns. I bought it when I was in Virginia. There's something about the way that it's dyed, flecky and charming, that I just love. The color is Sandy Foam, and a very Gene color it is.Next is a pair of socks I began for Gene at Sock Summit while in Meg Swansen's class. I had failed to get my homework done so I cast on a bunch of stitches and decided to make a grown-up version of the Arch Shaped Socks. I didn't twist the stitches, and I didn't use the pattern, but here they are. I love the shaping on the arch. It fits his foot so perfectly.And finally...these socks are called Helix and are from the new book. I began them in May for use as the cover socks. I had not seen them in months and when they popped out of the box of sample socks, I had to stop everything and finish them up. Try not to notice my puffy foot. I am still wearing the brace from the July 4th sprain, and it makes my foot look puffier than it is.The yarn is Louet Gems, which is one of my favorites for showing of stitch definition. It does the job well here in this lacy cable pattern.
And just for fun... a few weeks ago we were cleaning out the garage and found some "firsts".
My first finished object, baby bunting with zipper:
Not visible are the twisted stitches. This was before I learned that I was a combination knitter. Long, long before.
My first Gansey and my first lace and my first corrugated rib...
Scary, really. I had a habit of making baby things to practice on, so there would be less commitment. Scary isn't it? You can say so. I can take it!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Hardest Part is Letting Go

(Ironic that I began this post two days ago, before this post popped up. Must be the season. And she's right, for the record, parenting's totally messed up.)

I think most mothers would agree that letting go of their kids was (or is, or will be for those of you who haven't done it yet) the hardest part of being a mother. Realizing that they need to sink or swim all on their own is terrifying. For years you’ve done it all for them and now it’s their turn. Hopefully you’ve given them the tools they need to get by. Regardless, it’s time for them to stretch their wings and give it a try.

Every other year, give or take, I re-enact this most difficult part of my life to date. True, the “kids” are a bit smaller and the time I get to teach them is a lot shorter – three or so months versus 18 odd years. In some ways these kids are a lot smarter, too. They’ve got the survival instincts of wild animals. They’ve never seen an iPod, or had a cell phone. They don’t even know how to tell time or ask for a raise in allowance (Thank God or I'd be broke). Every 2-3 years I rear up a mess of chicks, grow them until they’re ready to go it on their own, and let them loose on an unsuspecting world (and garden). Sunday night I did just that. 50-odd chicks, who’ve spent their entire lives in a house or behind a fence (except for that one little incident not worth mentioning, that day when I left the door open, and there was yelling and chasing in pajamas and Bog boots and maybe swearing and waving of arms) were let loose on the grass for the first time. And what a time they had.They learned a lot about when it's ok to be on your own and when it's pretty important to stick together. Some of them have names now; Sophie, Egypt and Pet, for example. As they prove who they are, we give them names to match.Beaks chomping on my toes through my Birkenstocks remind me that soon even tougher choices than I ever made with my actual kids will have to be made than "when to let the birds onto the grass". Some of them are showing signs that their true calling lies deep in the recesses of my freezer. We’ve gone about 60% Vegetarian around here. I can’t say we really are, but I can see that we could be if we had to. We’d been eating meat “on weekends”. This week we had meat only once, on Sunday night. Ironically we were grilling chicken while trying to get the chickens back in their house. In the end they all came home to roost, as chickens do, with a little help from Girl and I and Mr. Wonderful. By last night they'd gotten it down pretty well and only needed some light shepherding from Girl and I. Soon they won't need us to do anything more than shut the door behind them.

More moments of letting go are looming on the horizon. This Friday I got a package in the mail that I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading since last January. It’s called “pages”, and it’s the improved version of what I handed over to my editor months ago. Laid out and nearly ready to roll into a bookstore near you.I can say now that I am thrilled to have it here for a little visit. It’s truly grown into a young adult I can really be proud of. There are all sorts of dimensions to it that I never saw before. It's got depth and character. I like it like this, mostly grown up and a little gawky around the edges but still, in it's core, mine. I can hear myself in the language, which is so important to me as a writer and as a teacher, and as a mother too for that matter. I want you, the knitter, to hear me when you read my books. I think you can, thanks to my excellent editors. For one short week we, the book and I, share space. We bond, we spend a lot of time together and then off it goes again back into the hands of others until next we meet again. I will miss it, but I can't wait to see what it looks like all grown up. I hope you love it. I know I already do.

Am I knitting? Yes, of course!A sweater design in progress.
Socks for Gene, nearly finished.
A very fast hat just to give me a feeling of completion.
And a scarf of knitted from yarn hand dyed by Gail. It's very lovely.
Class project samples for finishing classes in Shelburne and Williamstown.

Transitions and the newness they bring can be eased by the knit, I find. My hands are rarely quiet right now. If I am not typing some changes for the book, my fingers are wrapped around needles, methodically knitting without really thinking about it, while my mind races around and around in circles without my even trying; closing up loopholes, rooting out mistakes even when the pages are not in front of me. I think it's fascinating how that works, like the writing itself. Stuck? Knit for a while, and all of a sudden the stuck spot vanishes and everything seems clear.

So there it is, coming in the spring to a bookstore near you. I so hope you like it!