Sunday, September 30, 2007

Travel Recap

Empire State Building
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
I'm home and happy to be here. I returned Thursday night and had a Friday at work that I thought would be short and relaxed but was instead the opposite. But a lovely Saturday made up for it--M and I cleaned house for a few hours then met friends for dinner in Petaluma and were asleep by 9:30 p.m. This morning was a few more chores and my resolve to work this afternoon is fading--there's so much knitting to do (M gave me Vogue Knitting for my birthday, and I'm all fired up to get on to the next felting project, though I should probably finish the lining for my last felt project before moving ont…)

After the first few warm and muggy days in NY, at lunch on Saturday with my cousins, the sky opened and it got really humid. The rain washed everything and on Sunday the air was clear, crisp--definitely the beginning of fall, on its official start date, one of my favorite times of year in Manhattan.

My NY Saturday, in no particular order:

Walking to meet my cousins, passing people on their way to Yom Kippur services, dressed in their Sabbath best.

The young woman walking up Park Avenue sobbing "Why? Why?" into her cell phone.

Yes it's wet and humid, but it's also so very green and moist here, a relief from the parch of California.

Playing chase and tickle with my cousin Nicky and his sister Laura wanting to hold my hand as we made our way to the bus.

Delicious dosa, ohmigod!

Incredibly unfriendly service at the NYU Bookstore (well, since I barely seemed to register on the cashier's consciousness, I guess I didn't even really rate at that level). And, not even very good school swag.

Warm-toned whites, fur, and whimsical rubber boots seem to be the fall fashion trends.

Wandering around downtown was a little sad for me. Soho is just a big mall now. Kate's Paperie is gone, M&T Trimmings is gone. I know people have been lamenting gentrification, but I'm really feeling it for myself now. (M, when I asked if a Trader Joe's had move into NY, Chan said it had, replacing Julian's pool hall, sigh…)

My second day of NY walkabout was similar--I met my friend Cathleen for breakfast and then wandered over to get sunburned while watching Chiara play soccer. I headed downtown, passing a barricaded crowd protesting the capuchin monks, and again found that many of my favorite haunts were ghosts themselves, particularly the former speakeasy Chumley's--that discovery made me resolve to just be a tourist next time, forget trying to connect to the past. It was such a beautiful day, and in lower Manhattan the pier parks were crammed with sunbathers, which seemed so odd. I had a farewell cocktail at my cousins' and then went on a successful search for sesame noodles for my final NY meal.

The train to Boston the next morning was comfortable, though I had forgotten just how bustling Penn Station is--it was a little disconcerting, though I tried to view it as an exercise in feeling more comfortable with chaos. I got to my meeting on time, had a pleasant dinner with a colleague in Davis Square (more dosa!), and tried to catch up on some work.

The next day was the Women in Technology Workshop, and I missed a very important piece of info: the start time. I thought it was 8:30 a.m., but it was actually 11:00--so I ended up wandering around Beacon Hill for a couple of hours. It could've been worse, but I felt restless and unproductive.

I worked at my hotel in the morning last Wednesday, and my cousin picked me up. We had lunch in Lexington and hung out all afternoon with the family, which was great, just relaxing and catching up--in strange, 90+-degree weather. And then Thursday was all about traveling home.

I think the cats have finally forgiven my absence. It's good to be home again.


This month marks three whole years of blogging; this post is my 345th. Thanks to all of you for reading along with my life!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Too Pooped to Post

Washington Square Arch
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
But here's a photo from NY. In Boston now, home on Thursday, can't wait!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Really Big Apple

San Francisco from on high
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
I’m here! Yay. A smooth if early (sorry honey, but thanks for the chariot ride to the airport shuttle--it wouldn't have started me off on the right foot if you hadn't taken me) flight, filled with dreams of chowing my way through the Lower East Side: halvah at Russ & Daughters, banana nut pancakes at Veselka, frites from the French fry stand, perogies smothered in sauce at Little Poland, fresh-made mozzarella from Russo, and cold sesame noodles from Mee (ah fond memories of my single gal Friday nights--beer, noodles from Mee and a tear jerker from the video store…), dosa from the guy with the cart in Washington Square. Typing that menu, I've noticed a common theme--everything is beige!

My cousins invited me over for dinner the moment I arrived (OK, I'm warming to being owned by a cell phone), and after checking into my postage stamped sized hotel room and checking email, I hoofed it uptown. Family and pasta was the perfect welcome. It was if I had never left, simply as though I hadn't been in the neighborhood for a little while.

It's been wonderful wandering around, wondering if I'll bump into someone I know, smelling all the scents, good and bad--the carriage horses in Central park, strange spices coming off the corner food carts, warm fetid yawns coming up from the subway entrances--hearing so many different languages (I suspect the low dollar is bringing in the tourists). Today I saw two hip gals walking down the street, one reminding me strongly of the best friend I had when I lived here, and it made me happy and wistful, thinking of how it was for me, being young in the city where anything can happen. And there's so much to buy!

It was a busy day today, but the event I came out for is all wrapped up. A few meetings tomorrow, and then I'm seeing Xanadu with a friend from work in the evening. And there's so much to look forward to!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Glendi and thanks!

Here are photos of the Glendi Food Fest I mentioned on Saturday.

And thanks for all of the bday wishes, everyone! I'm having a nice day, and plan on spending lots o' cash this afternoon, hehheh.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Grandma's Party

So another very important part of my vacation last week was of course Grandma's birthday party.

It was great seeing her. Lots of people came to her party and it was fun to see them all celebrating with her. My aunt and uncle were there, her sister and her sister's husband, her doctor, her friends from church and town, the other residents all came out for yellow cake and punch. I really enjoyed spending time with them all, but also had a little time before I left just with grandma, which was nice. I took her to her hair appointment (a novel experience for me, I'm not one for beauty parlors) and we had most of the next morning to chat and just enjoy each other's company before my flight.

The little town, Wilbur, where she lives seems to be doing better. The sidewalks have been spruced up, there's a cute, city-fied bakery, and some of the vacant lots and buildings have been cleaned up and repurposed. I spent a little time in the cemetery, which I always enjoy. The evening light was lovely, the trees as spectacular as ever--tall, luxurious contrast to the surrounding fields.


On the way home from a writers group meeting today, M and I stopped at the Glendi Ethnic Food Fair, a not-really-disguised fund- and awareness-raiser for the (American) Orthodox Church. We thought it was Greek, but it apparently has members from Greek, Russian, Serbian, Eritrean, and Middle Eastern descent. There was lovely music from a tight a cappella group, very Christian, and from a klezmer-ish group, the Brass Menazeri, that got a lot of people up and dancing in the spiraled, hand-in-hand folkdance style. I enjoyed watching the dancers, thinking how nice it was that anyone could join in, and all different combinations were holding hands--young and old, men and women, dressier and those in shorts and Birkenstocks. Leave it to M to throw some realism on it all: how inclusive are they, he wondered--do they ordain women, and what are their same views on gays? We toured both the tiny old church and the new church with a large dome still in the process of being plastered and painted. I ate piroshki, some of the best spanokpita ever, drank a couple of glasses of retsina, and have borscht (with a Dixie cup of sour cream, dill and green onions in the fridge) and baklava waiting for dinner. I also bought a dishtowel that I thought was pretty funny. As we left, we passed a set of bells that were hung from the deck by the church garden. Were they just on display for the event, or did they live out here, we wondered--and are they awaiting a steeple? There were all named (Elizabeth, Peter, Catherine), and it was difficult to resist the impulse to pull their tethers and release sounds--not very nice of a church to offer such temptation!


M was supposed to get his grades from last semester today. All of his classmates did, but he didn’t. One of his students works in the main law school office, and she told him his scores a couple of days ago, which were good (he assured me he didn't ask--she just knew he was stressed about it and offered the information)--but of course the piece of paper with the grades means all. Tomorrow will be more of the same melancholy, I suspect…


One thing on my mind of late that I suspect I'll be wrestling with for some time: productivity, and what I do with my time. A recent horoscope sums it up:

"There have never in history been so many opportunities to do so many things that aren't worth doing," wrote novelist William Gaddis. That's important for you to keep in mind during the coming weeks. You'll receive a flood of invitations, but only some of them will be intimately related to the unique work you're here on Earth to do. Those few may be so amazingly useful, though, that they could dramatically change your life for the better. Please say no to all the others so you can attend to the good stuff with your heart on fire and your mind as fluid as a mountain stream.

I've been so stressed out lately by how much time I spend on work in the past few months. That can't be the "unique work" I'm here to do, can it? And just because I'm furiously answering email and responding to questions and helping my staff--is that really the best was to spend my time at work? Can I be more effective and productive in other ways. And though I do get paid for it, does that make it far worthier than felting purses and reading and walking the dog?

I think part of my stress has also been related to my travels this month. I was of course excited about both trips, but--it's travel. And I've only just put together some of the final details on my trip to the east coast, so some of that weight has been lifted. But I realize that I'm out of city travel habit. I used to be able to estimate cab ride costs and times, how early to get to Penn Station to catch a train, how long it would take to walk eight blocks…and now I'm not so sure. But my most recent horoscope has encouraged me to embrace both good and chaos, so I can do well while having some fun, and I think I'll adopt that as my mantra for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Introducing a New Blog

The Left Coast Clan--I'm sure lots of interesting things will be posted there soon!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bonneville Report

"A Man Alone with his Thoughts"
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Ah woe is me--it's 8:32…I had planned an ambitious evening--walk the dog, make dinner, water the plants, empty the dishwasher, do a nice long blog post, then slide into bed and read til lights out at oh, 9:30 or so. But I got to number two on the list, and that's just about as much as I can do after a long day back at work. But still, I want to report on the past week, which was wonderful, restful, and far too short, so I'll do it in pieces. (Pookie is on my lap, helping.)

First up: Boys at Bonneville

In the five days that M was on the salt flats, his friend with the special bike never completed a run, which was very frustrating for all involved. But still, it sounded like a very thoughtful adventure, a real change of scenery. One day I'll go, but I don't think I could last more than a day or so.

IMs from UT

9/2/2007 3:16: 14
Love u paw. Hot here. Winds picking up. No runs 4 us yet. Maybe tomorrow.

9/3/2007 10:51:37
Rolls Royce 1956 towing 1959 semi-streamlined triumph 71 y o lady driving both. Fucking cool. Eric broke down 1st run, bout togo again. John will run 1 in hour.

9/4/2007 12:49:31
Thunder storm! Eric hasn’t complete 1 run. Cluster fuck officiating & now this. John ran 142 hes trying 4 150. Love you paw.

9/6/200 10:09:21
At beautiful elko nv, mcdonalds & gas & 5oo more miles. Love you

9/6/200 12:33:10
Pee stop in cosgrove beautiful that. Lov u

9/6/200 1:36:48
Fly safe. Luv u.

Returning home, both M and his friend John were red, stiff with salt and sun, luckless in the casinos, but safe and whole. The truck undercarriage was thick with salt, which M left on for a day or so, but he finally hosed it off, parking the truck on the front lawn and setting a sprinkler underneath for an hour or so. Large frost-like chunks still sit on both the driveway and lawn. I'm viewing it as weedkiller.

He brought me home a soda bottle filled with salt, which much to my dismay is inedible. What shall I do with it? Body scrub?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Mom and Jay
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
I'm between trips, home yesterday from family and perfect weather up on the Mendocino coast, off bright and early to Grandma's in Washington for more family and hopefully more pleasant weather tomorrow.

It was nice to be a mom's, spoiled with good food from her and my brother's gardens, walking on the beach in a tshirt with just a bit of a breeze, the air the clearest I've seen it in a long time. Rex was very clingy and slept hard against me that night (it was even pleasant temperatures all night long--I had to let him out at about 2am, and was able to be out on the porch quite comfortably in my pajamas) but Mom called when I got home to reassure me that he had been on several walks that afternoon and was doing well. It was also great to spend quality time with my brother--we got some good blabbing in on the trip up and back.

I can tell Veronica enjoys it when Rex is gone--she spends a lot more time with me in the living room and climbs into bed with me in the morning to announce that she's ready for her tuna breakfast, would I please get up and get to it?

M has been a few days in Bonneville. He and his friend John each brought a motorcycle. They threw a tire early on their journey, and he was afraid his little truck was overloaded, but apparently it was just an enormous screw. He reports that it's really damn hot, too hot to enjoy riding his bike much. I hope that mean that he won't borrow a really fast bike to make a run on the salt at high speed, but I doubt it. His friend Eric is due to make his first run at another record this morning, and I'm hoping that all is going/went smoothly.


Here's a movie from my trip to Bruges last year. I really wish I had had sound capability for this one--the soft clacking sounds were so much a part of the atmosphere:


Happy birthday plus a day, Ginny!


The birthday month has started off very nicely--mom gave me a beautiful necklace and earring set from her Alaskan cruise and is contributing to my camcorder. And I'll be celebrating with Grandma in just a couple of days.

Back to camcorder shopping--maybe I'll be able to get it today, wouldn't that be fun?