26 April 2006

homage, cont'd

Mary Stewart is one of the people to whom I think we should dedicate a national holiday. Along with Julie Andrews and Angela Landsbury. Because they're just so lovely. (Unlikely to happen considering they're all English, though.)

I agree with everything Jennie said in her homage to Mary Stewart, but need to list out my own favorites, since Jennie has just got them all out of order. So here are the novels ranked Julie-style:
  1. Nine Coaches Waiting
  2. This Rough Magic
  3. Touch Not the Cat
  4. Wildfire at Midnight
  5. My Brother Michael
  6. The Moonspinners
  7. Airs Above the Ground
  8. The Gabriel Hounds
  9. The Ivy Tree
  10. Thornyhold
  11. Madame, Will You Talk?
  12. Thunder on the Right
  13. Stormy Petrel
  14. Rose Cottage

Nine Coaches Waiting must come first because it's set in France and the hero's name is Raoul—both very good reasons to give it the top slot despite the novel's rather mousey and useless heroine. And I put Wildfire at Midnight near the top because it is deliciously scary, while Mary Stewart's other novels are just mildly suspenseful. And sometimes you just need a little bit of delicious scariness.

Reading a Mary Stewart novel is like getting a hug from my Mom or eating some Grandma rolls. Steeped in nostalgia, cozy as all get-out, and good for curing all manner of ills.

poor fred

23 April 2006

crochet to go

I've been crocheting a lot on the subway recently but have been frustrated because I can't keep all my supplies, yarn, and project organized and tidy while traveling. Also, I am paranoid about getting my work dirty. I have a neurotic sense that the subway is crawling with germs and putrescence. It probably is, but I generally try to maintain blissful ignorance of such things because thinking about them too much will only lead to increasingly irrational neuroses and then I am straight on my way to becoming a crotchety (ha!) old cat lady who can not leave her house. But rational or not, I feel a strong need to protect my work in transit. And, I like to be organized. So I started sewing.

I imagined a roll-up case that would protect the crochet project while organizing supplies. It ended up looking a little like a mini diaper changer. But in really cute prints. There were a few moments in the creative process when I was pretty sure the increasing complexity of all the pockets, pouches, and doodads that I wanted to add was outstripping my meager sewing skills. Jennie helped me with the planning and I did the sewing myself, only having to rip out a couple seams along the way.

I'm happy with the way it finally turned out. I'll be testing it on the subway tomorrow and I'm sure I'll come up with ways to improve it over time. I'm considering it a prototype. Mom, if I make you one, will you help me troubleshoot the design?

endless spring showers

at least it's making everything beautifully green...

20 April 2006

a new office to call home

We have spent the past 3 days moving our office one floor up to a new space—a space actually large enough to accommodate our numbers, meaning we no longer have to sit on top of one another. A joy indeed.

My sense of spatial relationships feels out of whack. I automatically turn left out of the elevator, then have to stop myself and go back to the right—looking and feeling like a bit of a moron. This is assuming I have actually remembered to go straight to the fourth floor, rather than auto-piloting to the third, then having to take the stairs up a floor.

The bathrooms on this floor are in the exact same place and are identical to those downstairs except they have smaller toilets. Not weird small, just smaller than I'm used to, and they suffer in the comparison, seeming to be made for midgets. Also annoyingly, the soap dispensers are to the left of the sink, rather than the right, as they are downstairs. And when my right hand automatically reaches up to get soap, it just meets with air. My rhythms are disjointed; my motor memory misdirects me.

As the officially designated "creative person" in the office, I have had the "fun" job of designing the interiors. This has proved to be less about design and more about continual and very careful diplomacy. Gaining consensus on paint color was no small feat. Approving artwork for the walls may prove impossible.

We did a lot of the work ourselves. We laid the laminate flooring, painted the accent color, and moved the furniture upstairs with one dolly and a fleet of rolling office chairs. Our predominantly male office, the dears, seemed motivated by an unfocused brute strength whose primary aim was to dump all the stuff onto the floor of the new space in as short a span of time as humanly possible. I scurried along behind, touching up the dings in the fresh paint and attempting to impose some order on the chaos.

Office morale, on the whole, survived the move remarkably well. The comradery of the physical labor and the general contentment with the new space outweighed (if only slightly) the frustrations and inconveniences endured. Civility was only abandoned in the brief but mad scramble to claim desks. I got a quiet corner through cunning and carefully veiled but nonetheless manipulative suggestions. To my dismay, I am becoming fairly proficient at the nuances of office politics.

19 April 2006

bits (no. 1)

In the fine tradition of referential bloggers, I will try my hand at offering up links I've found useful, interesting, or just plain cool. I'll call these "bits" and here's volume one:

I've ordered this stapleless stapler from cb2. (In one of those impressive-sounding statistics whose significance I can't really grasp due to my shortage of quantitative skills, treehugger reports that if we each used one less staple a day, it would save 120 tons of steel a year.) I am dubious about how securely the stapleless will bind paper...I'll let you know.

In case you hadn't heard, Martha Stewart Omnimedia is coming out with a new magazine, Blueprint. Difficult to tell how it will be different from MS Living, except that it's for a slightly younger demographic. Order a free preview and find out for yourself.

I love visiting Reprodepot. Funky fabrics—and not too expensive. I love the polka dots, this abstract print, rocket ships, and these flowers. They also have great buttons.

Shop Composition has one of the best Flash sites I've seen. The entire e-commerce experience is done (and more importantly, done very well) in Flash. And they also have some very cool stuff to buy.

A visual look at where your tax dollars go.

Definitive proof that there is such a thing as too much cute.

17 April 2006

the nutty fluff

I have named my new favorite snack the nutty fluff. Not to be confused with its close kin the fluffer nutter, the nutty fluff is the uptown, top-drawer (really top-drawer) version—using actual marshmallows rather than fluff sold in a jar. (This makes all the difference.) The nutty fluff lives in that delightful gray area between snack and dessert from which huge amounts of calories can be consumed with only a modicum of guilt.

To make a nutty fluff, spread a graham cracker with peanut butter, top with halved marshmallows (sticky side up), and push honey-roasted peanuts into the marshmallow. For added fun, eat it in front of Jennie, who is completely appalled by this concoction.

16 April 2006

This has been a rather inauspicious beginning to my blog. I will try to post more than once a week in the future. Week-old news smacks of snail mail and newspapers (ahem...just kidding).

A lovely Easter here. Very quiet. Jennie is working on a big proofreading job, so I had to amuse myself. I started a new crochet project (without finishing any of my works-in-progress, of course). It's to be a baby blanket for a friend. I chose a rather complicated design and tiny little baby yarn, so the blanket will probably be ready sometime around the baby's sixth birthday. At which time she will find a 36" square blanket extremely useful, I'm sure.

We were going to go to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden but the Pink Way of Delight isn't in peak bloom yet, so we decided to give it another week. I should note that the BBG does not call it the Pink Way of Delight, but they definitely would if they had any imagination—or had recently watched one of the best movies ever, as I have.

Being an excellent sister and a humble Bunter to her royal highness, I roasted a chicken and made my first batch of Mom rolls ever—all by myself. AKA the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man Rolls or possibly the Rolls That Ate Texas, they turned out enormous, owing either to my laziness in rolling them out or an inattention to detail (was it supposed to be 3tbs of yeast or 3 pkgs of yeast?) In any event, they were pretty good, if not as good as marmee's.

We listened to Sleepy Man and generally enjoyed a blissful "dolce far niente," which I learned today from a great story in the Times Week in Review is an Italian term meaning "a pleasurable idleness woven into the texture of life." Not quite sure how they got all that meaning into three little words, but not speaking Italian, I'll have to take their word for it. I love the idea, and may have to make it my mantra.

09 April 2006

Spring in New York seems very fickle. This week we have bounced from balmy to thunderstormy to snowy to green-giving drizzles and back around to balmy. Can we blame the extreme weather on global warming?

05 April 2006


I recently read in a Dorothy Sayers novel (it was Lord Peter who said it) that "telling one's dreams is the last word in egotism." I'm not quite sure what Lord Peter would have said about blogs, but I doubt such self-indulgent rambling as generally makes up the content of a blog would have met with much approval. I will try to stay away from self-indulgent rambling as much as possible—as a rule I, like Lord Peter, am not much for personal exhibitionism.

I'm starting this blog because:
  1. My sister has a shiny new blog, and I have blog-envy.
  2. The world seems too big and all my friends and family are flung to the far and nether reaches of everywhere. And I am crap at the telephone and too lazy for email.
  3. I have a snazzy new camera and want to share my budding photography skills with anyone who might be interested. Hopefully you'll see some sort of progression/personal growth/increasing sophistication in my photos over time. If not, just pretend you do. Artistic accomplishment, I'm beginning to suspect, is as much about brash self-confidence as inherent talent.
  4. I have a latent but growing urge to write. This is obviously a genetic predisposition, or was transferred through the amniotic fluids, or maybe they put something in my milk as a kid. Regardless of how it happened, there are only two people to blame.
  5. I've turned a year older. It seemed like a good time to start something new.
Besides my photos, I'm hoping to pass along things I find of interest in my web roamings. Expect a lot of design, crafty stuff (both needle and paper), interesting tidbits I find from France, rants and ravings about my love/hate relationship with NYC, and who knows what else. Why? Because my interests and hobbies are just SO fascinating. Obviously.

But I promise I will never write a post about a dream I've had. I will not go so far as that.