birthday girl

. . .so if you're in the neighborhood

shall we resolve?

Well, maybe not. A quick look at last year's resolutions shows that I managed fewer than half. I gather from all the year end newspaper polls that this is typical. OK, so maybe I will get around to Quick Books this coming year. Hurriedly. . .


the gathering hours

Starting the countdown to the birthday of a new year: Angelina and her daughter got into their hybrid vehicle yesterday in Georgia and will roll in this evening. Wolfen and Caffeine arrive tomorrow, with his Mama. And after them, the deluge.
The logistics of shopping have occupied my waking hours for some nights now, along with other concerns such as elections, assassinations, the stock market and the actuarial and financial insecurities of life after 50. Everyone I know seems to agree that they are so done with 2007. But it's not quite done with us, yet. Which makes me wonder: What else can go wrong?


this ain't north fork

These in from Otra Rubia in the category:
What I Love and Hate About New York


zone done gone

Zone done gone. These three words ought to rhyme. But instead, you have zone, lone, cone, bone and done, none and one—which really ought to rhyme with own.
English, what a language.


sweet home

I just want to make darned sure you caught this.
Sending it out to all my friends in Alabama.

news of the world

Pretty shocking to read the headline "Bhutto Assassinated" in red letters on my own web page. She who fellow Life writer Anne Fadiman knew as "Pinky" when they went to Harvard together. However, it's a good reason to have a news feed on the page, since a couple of people whose task it is to let me know if a major news event happens (in the absence of television in this household) fell down on the job this morning. You know who you are.


silent night

How weird to be alone in the house
On Christmas Eve—no mouse
No spouse
No jingle bell rocks
No stockings, no care.
Just a pair
Of my socks


some girls have all the luck

This is the ring that Azu, a.k.a. Wolfen, made for my sister's husband, a.k.a. the Can Man, to give to Sis for her birthday yesterday. Good money in cans.
Of course it WAS her arhurmph Birthday.


cheer goes underground

Busker Kathleen Mock sends holiday greetings to friends and family.


link me, baby

I want to point out that there are links to the right of this entry that allow glimpses into other people's lives. This is what journalists do, though seldom do subjects evince the enthusiasm for our prying that they do for self revelation. Thus the web, a perfect autobiographical format.
We have Katie, who puts up a few of the paintings she does each and every week of her life. We have Ruby, whose life is her art. We have the girl golfers, whose sport is their art.
And then we have a few of the sites I can't live without on a daily basis: the New York Times, the weather, Michael Lutin's wacky horoscope, the ferry schedule, the news from West Plains, Missouri.
If you have a site you want me to link—hook me up.


cornered by a bore

Yes, Let's play the annual game: Claudia's Big Decision! I am caught (very appropriately) on the horns of a dilemma: Should I re-up for another year's membership at the Explorers Club?
I know I have bored on about this before. And in fact, I was so perfectly boring in 2005 that I feel I cannot do better than quote that entry, back in the day when I thought blogging would make me rich and famous and thus devoted more effort to it than I do today, when I know that only my friends and family read the thing.
To quote myself:

My grandmother was a member of the DAR, my mother was in the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. And even today, one of my nearest and dearest looks to be a future president of the Hollistan Garden Club, while another, for her sins, is on the board of a historic trust. I am not a joiner.
I do, however, belong to a very exclusive Club. Housed in a townhouse on the East Side of Manhattan, my Club has a library of rare books, members of rare distinction (Sir Edmund Hillary) and a stuffed polar bear rampant on the second floor landing. Though a pale imitation of the Royal Geographic Club (I've never been), the Explorers Club is the closest thing to a stuffy British scene I know of on this side of the pond.
I suppose I joined out of vanity—because it was there, and I could. I had to be nominated by two members and write reams of self-justifications and attach lists of publications etc. I rationalized that I would find stories and meet people at the club and be able to go on fabulous expeditions.
Thing is, I never go to my Club. In the ten years since I joined, I have been to two annual dinners and one reception—all in that first halcyon year. None of the lectures, slide shows, convivial evenings or banquets for which I continually receive invitations can impel me to slog through the underbrush of Central Park to explore the East Side.
And every December, when it's time to re-up, I have to realize this. Especially now that my expense account no longer covers the $400 annual membership fee nor the additional fees charged for each and every event. I have rationalized that I get a great deal to rent the venue for a party in case, say, my daughter gets married. But my daughter is getting married and she has not selected that venue. Or maybe, I tell myself, I will turn into an old fart who likes to walk to the Club every day and pretend to have business there so as to snooze in front of the fireplace with a newspaper spread over my face. I find I'm not quite ready to be a buffer yet.
But the Club was so hard to get into!
And so I sit, the envelope in front of me, trying to decide: Do I pay up for another year of nonattendance or not?

Yes, my friends, that is the dilemma. And so, yesterday, I invited Carly, one of my newest friends, to join me for a holiday party at the Club in the following e-mail:
The Explorer's Club is a gentleman's club that is VERY hard to get into. (No, not THAT kind of gentleman's club.)
I belong to it.
I pay $400 a year to belong to it.
I have been there three times in the 15 years I have belonged to it.
I have just received the bill for next year's membership.
Let's determine whether or not I should re-up. I have made reservations, 6-9:00.

So we went. There was milk punch. A Santa who did not need a wig or fake beard gave us presents. We ate with a forensic archeologist named Charlie who is still working on 9/11 remains. Carly got cornered by a bore with a fake English accent who wanted to take her to the bottom of the sea in a diving bell with Champagne. There were fires in massive manorial fireplaces.

My sister says I should keep my membership so I can hold my 60th birthday party there, when I will be as boring and bufferish as the rest of them. The amusing things people said the last time I asked this question can be read on Why I Can't Stop
Please vote. I can't promise when I will post again until I get enough responses.Yes, this is blackmail.

And while you're at it, you can vote on Azu Nuz Is Neil Young An Asshole Or What?


jeweler at work

Self Portrait with I Phone

"I phone therefore
I am?"

photo provided courtesy of


i heart beer

The father who doesn't like to go to hospital is still there, reading pulp fiction and enjoying the nurses—particularly the six-foot African-American one who gave him his bath. Hopefully he will be out soon.
The mother who does like going to hospital will have her spine operated on tomorrow and go into rehab a couple days later, just in time for Christmas. There's no telling when she can go home to Mexico from Minnesota. No, not that kind of rehab. . .


sub rosa

A pic of son-in-law being a good neighbor in the Providence snowfall.
You know, I don't say everything that's going on in this space. So sorry to have been so boring, but what with two parents in hospital, houseguests, DSL out, a story to rewrite and other issues practical and emotional, I have not been the Best Blogger in the World.
"Oh well."
The Dowling family crest.


the not-too-mod squad

The New York bureau of Time magazine reunes.


the birthday girl

December 13, 2007 -- Are you taking life too seriously? According to your birthday chart you are and you need to lighten up a bit over the coming 12 months. You may have many serious issues to deal with but that will be easier to do if, paradoxically, you treat it all as a game and act as if none of it matters.
Maybe it doesn't.

Yeah, I better lighten up. . .


let them eat lasagna

That was my newest friend. Now here is one of my oldest, dating back to fourth grade.
Tonight, same place, same time, arrive three college pals.
The menu varies slightly, between mache or arugala, French or Italian, meat or meatless, but I'm pretty freaking sick of lasagna.



She stepped off of the web and into real life—and brought her brother, too. Carly and I met through our respective blogs. She was living in California's high desert at the time, and I was Eastern seaboard. We became sort of friends. And then she was posted in New York en route back to Kansas City, where she just bought a house. We have now spent quality time at the kitchen table with her brother (above) and her son—and she and her boyfriend stayed in Casa Claudia when I wasn't home.


doing business as

And actually doing business!
Opened Tuesday, purchases made by husbands for wives and husbands for husband's mom (figure that one out), visits from Pomegranate and family.
Hours (this week) 12-8 pm.
Shoppers, park your engines.


technical difficulties

Due to circumstances so complex that it would take all day to explain (and DID take all day to explain, like three times), my DSL line has been suspended until next week, so you can only e mail me through my Yahoo address. And I haven't even gotten my new computer, when I will really have technical issues. Of course, you could always try posting a comment instead of just lurking.


winter in the city

The social season has begun. The pedicab cyclists of New York, who are making $600 or so a day giving tours around Central Park and elsewhere (when their bikes haven't been impounded for parking them chained to city property—a tree, say or a signpost), are not drinking Beaujolais Nouveau ("eez terreeble zis year," says Christoff) at Tout Va Bien. But they are drinking a nice wine priced according to the custom they bring the place and complaining mightily about the cops.



It probably had to do with reading William Gibson's Spook Country—not that I liked it very much—but I dreamed of a new kind of book. You would read the book, and then at certain points be told to log into the web, where you would play a game, watch a film clip or read a Wikipedia entry. Sometimes, you would get a phone call or a text message in the context of a book. In my somnulent state, this struck me as a brilliant breakthrough concept.
Upon awakening, however, I realized that the medium already exists. We call it life. We go about our daily business, punctuated with telephone calls, googling something we read about in the newspaper, a cup of coffee, a photograph (like this one by a certain Spirit), e-mail, an IM—any of which can become a Choose-Your-Adventure story. I have even had people pop off the screen and become real characters: life, with hypertext.


before and afterish

The new Azu emporium proceeds apace. The counters have been faced, the fake necks installed, the glass polished the tool bench readied. Now all that's left is—the product and the customers. Oh, and the teal velvet Victorian loveseat, of course. Doors open tomorrow.



The elves worked deep into darkness last night.
And then it snowed.
Must be time to shop.