let us resolve

May you, like the bamboo, flourish in all weathers and conditions. May you love and be loved. May you exercise more and lose all that weight. May you control your substance abuse but not your loved ones, make lots of money, find a new career and attain your heart's content.
Progress report for 2010:
I did exercise and lose a lot of weight.
I stopped and started (and stopped and started etc.) drinking.
What do you resolve for 2011?


Back in New York today after Baby's First Christmas. I think my friend from Brazil speaks for all us new grannies (though using rather novel pronunciation and spelling) in the e mail I received today:
"Happy new year for you all.........I'm very happy and buzy with my son new baby in my house. she so sweet (when not cry ) ,,,love to just look at her ,hold she on my army is great ......she back her home yesterday ,,,I'm already miss her   ......will see her tomorrow for the new year night,,,,i get the email from Hannan foto with her baby,,...nice,pls say hello to her n Cris...........................love"


visions of sugarplums

Nothing was stirring, not even a. . . Wait, those are not mice—they're sugarplums! Cherries dipped in chocolate and glued to Kisses with almond-sliver ears.
    They still like cheese, though.


cold enough for you?

That's what folk used to say: "Cold enough for you?"
And the correct answer was
a) For me to do what?
b) Isn't it just!
c) It was colder in the winter of '45.
d) Nah, I like it colder.
e) I reckon.
I ask you: "Cold enough for you?"


let it snow

Haven't been out sledding—yet another cold—but can't think of a better place to be snowed in (except possibly New York City) than Main Street, Woonsocket. Apparently the wind blew 80 mph on Block Island last night and took out the power, leaving  lot of people shivering (oil furnaces need electricity too) and the road I live on eaten away in front of the Beachhead. I daresay a lot of people who didn't drain their pipes in the fall will be wishing they had. Missouri probably got hit, too.
   Meanwhile, we're hunkered down, nursing our colds, a pot of stew on the stove and leftover Christmas treats and a baby to play with.  What could be bad?


Looks like the Christmas star is leading us over to Block Island. But no, didn't detrain here at New London but kept going to a snowy Providence, Stanley burger in Pawtucket. . .
. . . and home to Woonsocket to wrap some more presents.


every picture tells a story

There used to be something called a picture story. It was a thing of very few words, with captions and headlines and something called the text block. You were meant to be able to follow it by just reading headlines and looking at pictures. This kind of story pretty much died along with Life magazine, but lately it's been resurrected by some ex-LIFEers at American History magazine.  I've done a few this past year, including the one above. Appropriate, since Rockwell used to draw for Life, though more for Look. That's the first of four spreads. Didn't think you could stomach the whole thing.
     And now, off to Woonsocket!


solstice eclipse

O the moon. For the first time in nearly four centuries, a total eclipse occurred at the winter solstice. I am sure a druid or Wiccan could make something of this. We watched a bit from the roof in the howling wind, and more from the back bathroom, standing on the toilet with our heads out the window. It was quite a sight. My photographic skills were not up to the challenge, however.
    How many of you all were up at three in the acka emma?


beginning to look like

photo by Kathleen Mock
I was told that the granny makes the stockings. OK then. In the interim (of many years) since I last crocheted or knitted, I had forgotten how dismissive the owners of yarn stores  are. You would think they would be warm and fuzzy, but no. I don't know whether they don't like strangers, or crocheters or whether it's me, but you have to practically plead with them to bring their noses down to your level and sell you anything. Merry Christmas to you too, KnittyCity!


lo riders

One more: The Explorettes reune at the Explorers Club.


how do you pronounce Cai Guo Qiang?

They come from all over the web, often from college campuses, to Claudia's Surf City to find out the answer to one burning question:
how to pronounce Cai Guo Qiang, the name of the genius from Fujian in China who makes art of fireworks, stuffed wolves, hung cars, boats, maps and a myriad other things that just come into his head and then out of it.  I saw his show at the Guggenheim in 2008 (as well as a firework fizzle in Central Park earlier).
   While not a native speaker, I think this is an approximation of the pronunciation. Enjoy.

Check this out on Chirbit



 I loved the census statistics put into map form in the New York Times yesterday. It seems that I live in one of the richest neighborhoods and one of the poorest in the country, both very white. Here is some of what I learned about Oregon County in Missouri.
people making over $200,000 a year:      1%
people making under $30,000  a year:   57%
people with a college degree  or higher:  3%
people of color:                                         0%
Unmarried single sex couples                   1%
medium monthly rent:                          $394
Unfortunately, no correlation was made about the number of meth labs in any given area. If you would like to watch the numbers crunch about your part of the USA, check out the census data link .


then there were roses

. . .and stray items of clothing, shopping bags, scraps of gift wrap, and lots and lots of towels.


bon voyage

The last of the people sleeping on Chien-Chi's couch and all over the living room floor are leaving today. Michele is already home in her Paris, hopefully bearing "le junk food" and the other things on Axell's list. For Michele it was a marathon trip that began with 24 hours snowed in in the Paris airport and ended at a 9:30 a.m. meeting at work, with most of the time between  sans suitcase. It was totally fab to be able to spend time with my family and friends this past week, and I am so grateful to those who made the trips from France and Brazil and Santa Fe and Sausalito and Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


thank you

Thanks for all the birthday surprises! Love the bear!


they gather

The young ones and the old ones. The spry and the halt. The beautiful and the—wait! They're all beautiful! And we'll be gathering in all our great beauty and diversity tomorrow to celebrate our mutual exploration of life. L'chaim!



OK, so you read yesterday where I was resigned to the absence of certain parties due to infirmity and deadlines.
   Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find—omigawd! My progenitor and my wicked stepmother, who specifically said they could not travel. It proves that my daughter and my sister had also been keeping this news from me. Which does explain, in retrospect certain unusual behaviors. . .
    Talk about a birthday surprise!



The tapestry of life, indeed. Lina (and her shopping list) made it in from Rio de Janeiro today, but Michele only got as far as the airport in Paris, where there is a big snowstorm. "It is a big mess: nô flights, nô taxi, very few subway," she messaged. "I guess in Alaska they know How to deal with that but not here..." Tomorrow, houseguests pile in from Woonsocket and California. The Alabama contingent passed on account of a book going to print next week (above!) and old age (good excuse). Others had to pass on account of visas to Burma (not as good) or their cat's health (hmm) or penury (so what else is new). The hosts are being felled by head colds, but hopefully we will be well, um, tomorrow, and still have a nice 87 head or so for the International Gala on Saturday. Assuming Michele makes it. Does it count as an international gala if only one person comes from abroad?

PS Need I remind you to click on this pic (or the one below) to see more clearly?


class pic

Here they are, the Reporting I class at Lehman College, with their profesora. I think I may have convinced them that beauty blogging is more lucrative than whatever it is I do. . .


Today I go to the Bronx to talk about blogging to a bunch of college students. I know what a blog is—I have been writing this one for almost six years, before most people had heard of blogging.
Blogging. Weird word.
The tabs above the little frame that I write in make it all easy. They are Posting, Comments, Settings, Design, Monetize, and Stats. I have figured out everything but Monetize.
Oh well, maybe next year! 


a small world

. . .but it's about to get bigger.


the venue

Tommy V checks out the acoustics at the Explorers Club, while I plan a menu and agree to pay a small fortune for the Party of the Half Century (well, half century plus one decade). Each table, chair, fireplace log, candle, coatcheck person, security guard, piece of sushi and "passed hors d'oeuvre" has its price.
    But think of the savings when I cancel my membership (after 15 years) the following month!


a merry little workout

The Christmas trees are on the street now. I can see them from the stationary bike in the gym. Are you ready for Christmas? It's only like three weeks away, and I'm so not prepared.
What do you have to do?


new york times diagramless

I thought about leaving this page in the Sunday magazine section just casually flipped open in the hall for when the men pick up the trash, but they might not even notice that I totally and completely finished the diagramless crossword puzzle. In ink. In one night before bed. Lying down. I'm almost as bucked by this as the first time I cracked a cryptogram. Alas, sudoku still eludes me. . .


yet another vote

OK, final ruling. This one or the flaming sky for season's greetings to the tenants?


outdated technologies, 2

When I began working as a writer, I used one of these.
    For you people under 25, it's called a typewriter.
    I used a carbon set, which was several pieces of paper with carbon paper in between to make several copies topped with a piece of copy paper with little numbers and lines on it so you could tell how long your story was. You had to wham the keys to register on the bottom page.
    The old newspaper writers among us could write a 28-character hedline to the letter just by the feel. I got fairly good at estimating length as well, and since my hunt-and-peck typing was of the two finger variety, I also got pretty good at getting it right the first time so as not to have to retype.
   Now I have to learn to type very lightly using just my thumbs on a tiny piece of glass.


little bear

Camilla had her first visit to New York City (her second is coming up in about a week and a half), and she enjoyed it very much. Especially the parties.


first thanksgiving

and the winner is. . .

I've made something of a tradition of bad Thanksgiving pictures, but this one really takes the, er, pie.
   Maybe Chris got a better one.



Happy Great American Eating Ceremony!


guess who's coming to dinner?

A couple of hints (above). And here are a few more:
Four parents with children.
Three divorcees.
One set of siblings.
One lesbian couple.
One pair of college friends.
Two childhood friends.
Four out-of-staters.
One birthday boy.
Four men and six women for a total of about half the usual.
We're calling it intime. . .


anna, alas

Here is Anna when she stopped at the Goose on a cross-country road trip last year. She had already been dealing with metastasizing growths for many years; I used to tell her that she was living proof that a good attitude didn't cure cancer. At the time she was having a respite, traveling with her daughter. She didn't stop long, because the road called.
   The road called again yesterday. I wish she could have stayed longer. Anna made everything fun—the world sparkled when she was around to shed the light. May she travel well.


another vote

You wanted beachy summery.  How about one of these snaps? Ok, I know the quality is not up to snuff, but does one of these have the spirit you all wanted? Vote now, vote often.
Me, I'll be sitting here all day watching your votes roll in and waiting for Verizon to not show up. Again.



If you were a summer guest receiving a holiday greeting from me, would you prefer this picture of the North Light?

 or this one of Claudia's Surf City?
Both by Christopher Garrison.
Vote below.
I thought so. . .


the temptress

These are porcelain versions of the Original Apple, the Kazakhstan Elite, which still grow wild in that country. They, however, like many other apple stocks, are endangered, mostly because people use them for firewood. The Plant Genetics Resource Unit, part of Cornell University, collects and nurtures such genetic treasures. An artist friend of mine from L.A., Jessica Rath, has received  a grant to photograph the trees. She is selling these limited edition apples (15 healthy pink and 15 endangered black—look at them on her website as this pic doesn't do them justice) for $100 each plus shipping to partially pay for the project. Just one little bite. . .


but not in me

Had my tooth pulled.
Got my drivers license.
Had the DSL "fixed"—except for when it goes out every couple hours.
On the bright side, went to a musical improv club (above) and saw Lisa Jolly, who was fab. Have had real warm weather and been able to wear shorts. To the gym. Have already made cranberry sauce. So soon it will be time to play Guess Who's Coming to Dinner!


the confectioner

the confectioner
Chocolate excites certain people. I recently read a study saying that it caused a greater release of endorphins than sex. Personally, I have not found that to be true, but then chocolate is not my drug of choice. Some people like it enough, however, that they are even willing to to take up the culinary arts to produce chocolate bars sweetened with stevia that fit into their low-carb diets.


back to the future

I am living in DSL hell. I have been very patient, but it has been over a week with no functioning Internet. I have been spending my life on the phone with India while piggybacking. The low-speed person carrying me is probably going to get sick of it. The phone went out this morning. Now I can't upload pictures. A tech has been here once, and another is supposed to come tomorrow. And to think, just a decade ago I could have cared less! Meanwhile, I also have to go to the DMV and have a tooth drawn. I'm not sure which is worse.


puzzle pieces

My mother has become a Poetess, as I may have men- tioned. She has now finished a Second Slim Volume and is awaiting news of its acceptance from her publisher. At 84, she doesn't like to wait. The name of the new book is Puzzle Pieces.
    All I can think of is the Rolling Stones song: "Me I'm lying here so patiently/ with my woman on the floor./ We're just trying to do this jigsaw puzzle/ before it rains any more." As a teenager, I attached a purient meaning to that. Still do.


don't go hungry

Big excitement on the Upper White Side! We can hardly contain ourselves since the opening of our very own Trader Joe's! The other ones in NYC are way down on Union Squaresville and out in Foodielyn. Now we can hoist our backpacks and push our doublewide strollers down to 72nd Street to buy our Organic Delights. I loaded up with pre-Thanksgiving supplies, wishing I'd eaten before I went down there. "I bet Fairway's running scared," I said to the cashier kid. "They're just a farmer's market," he said dismissively. "We're the rock star."


working mom

Yes, it's busy season at Wear Your Music, and the elves are jamming. Did you want a John Mayer guitar string bracelet? Keith Richards? Pete Townshend? Bonnie Raitt? Ani DeFranco? Widespread Panic? Order now, before the elf ranks are utterly slammed. With the ranks depleted and two newborns in the mix, the office is more like Wear Your Baby.


the money chair

I have spent a lot of time in chairs like this one, and indeed in this very chair, which has a view of birds and squirrels in the back yard as well as the TV. Which is usually off.
   I have spent a lot of time with dentists, too, and this one, Dr. Sam, is my favorite. After one creative crown, I  told him that it seemed like his job required as much craft as medicine. He said, "That's why I like my job so much!"
   I was floored. A dentist who loves his work?