Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas lights

This is a link to some over-the-top Christmas lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Our friend Lisa Pines is a wonderful photog and she took them. Check out her portfolio, while you are there.

Monday, December 17, 2007


This link gives you the best photos from the first 50 weeks of 2007.

And here are some recent shots.
The bread is what Dave made during our first snow storm last Thursday. The rest are self-explanatory, no?

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Now I'm on posting videos, Dave has one for me: OK Go, a Swedish band, and this song is Here It Goes Again, a homemade video on yes, treadmills. You gotta watch this. Dave says he thinks of the song every time he's on a treadmill.

This snow thing is why I moved to Massachusetts. It's funny, here we are, the fire is blazing, Lily and I are side by side at the island in the kitchen on our laptops while Dave makes dinner in front of us. He's got a loaf of bread, yes, homemade, in the oven, too, and it smells wonderful. Am I trying to recreate and relive and upgrade and update my childhood? Maybe. You know what they say, right? "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." I hope Lily is having one.

I just walked out to the mailbox to get the mail, and it's snowed an other inch in the past hour. Yikes!

Note to Dave: We need a dog and/or a cat to complete the picture...

PS -- I just asked Lily if she was having a happy childhood, and she said yes. I said, are you basically happy? She said yes. So that's a good thing.

Snow Day

Well, the gods are being kind to me. They are sending me a big blizzard, and there's to be more over the next few days. Dave went to get Lily at noon and said the roads were nasty. A friend at work said it took her friend an hour and a half to do what is typically a half hour trip to Greenfield, the next town after Deerfield, where Lily's school is. Other reports coming in to the office were that the roads were terrible--it took one of my friends two hours to get home to Springfield, typically a half hour--and there was a sense that the snow would pile that much higher and it would be hard to get home and hard to drive on Marian Street and hard to get down my driveway.

Today at work I wasn't sure what to do about leaving, "should I stay or should I go?" Some folks were heading out early, often because the schools let out early and they had to take care of their kids. But by about 1:45, the folks who live in the Hilltowns to the northwest of us, who have good winter cars and were used to driving windy, hilly roads so they know how to drive in this stuff, were still there.

After thinking about it, I decided that being from New York City--and even though I grew up here and lived most of the first 28 years of my life in Massachusetts, I really am from New York City--I just do not know how to drive in this stuff, and I need to honor that. I need not to take unnecessary chances. I figured I'd better go while the going was good. So I left at 2 pm, and yes, it took 10 minutes to clear off the car, it's very powdery, snowy stuff, and a half hour to get home, 3 miles. The roads were very slippery and I never went above 20 and rarely above 15. Thank goodness I was going north; the road going south outside my office was bumper to bumper and not moving.

Here's the weather link for our area. Yahoo! Global warming, begone! This is why I moved here.

So now we have a fire going -- I am really into fires! -- and I am reading my friend Cynthia Fox's book Cell of Cells: The Global Race to Capture and Control the Stem Cell, published last spring to fabulous reviews. Cynthia and I went to high school together, Milton, and she's immensely talented and hard working. It reads really well.

On an entirely different, way-late-to-the-party note:
"Dragostea Din Tei" by O-Zone -- here is their site and here is Wikipedia on them -- a Moldovian group, is a great song and the original, in Romanian, apparently, is a fun video.

The song is also know as "Numa, Numa". Here is a link that has parodies -- I gather Gary Brolsma did the ultimate parody, and keeps doing them.

Here are covers.

And here are the lyrics.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The run-up to Christmas

Here's a cool webcam of downtown Northampton. They're calling for eight inches of snow tomorrow, starting around 1 pm. And Lily came home from school today saying they are talking about a snow day on Monday because of a storm predicted for the weekend.

She and I have started a Wednesday night dinner tradition, just the two of us. Dave drops her at work and she checks the giveaway table for books and occasional toys. Then we go eat. Last week we went to Friendly's and this week we went to Mimmo's, home of the gigantic pizza slices. They had some old photos that seemed incongruous but kind of fun, this one of the Rat Pack playing pool, and this one of the construction workers eating lunch. We talked about how chicken we were and we agreed neither of us could never be iron workers. I asked Lily what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said maybe a vet. When I said she had to know math, she said, maybe a vet's helper. Or maybe a writer, she likes to write. How about a director, I asked. Oh yeah, I'm bossy! she said proudly.

Just a year here and I have already been invited to more holiday parties than I ever was in Brooklyn. I think that's partly because I have a job now, and there are parties associated with that. But also Lonnie and Erika had a great low-keyed Hanukah party on Saturday night, with great conversation and good food. I made toffee, of course, and people seemed to like that.

The weather has been cold and kind of raw and damp. It's alternately raining and icing. Monday was so slick school started two hours late, and our driveway was sheer ice. I made it out in the car okay, although I heard a noise that I thought was something I'd run over (I think it was me losing traction on the ice), and when I got out to look the car started slipping back down the driveway. I made it to the parking lot, then slipped and did a jackknife on the ice on the sidewalk. I was okay, and happily surprised when a car pulled up almost immediately and asked if I was okay. I was, just a bit wet from the snow and ice, and a tad embarrassed.

In addition to the party, the weekend was very busy. Mum and Don visited and oohed and awed over our new windows -- thanks, Mom! Mum and I went shopping, and later Lily and I went shopping while Dave did a co-op barn raising thing on Sunday. We also had D&D here, which was fun, with a roaring fire, and leftover food from the Hanukah party. I've been going to the local YMCA so I did that Sunday morning.

The Big Event was the local Nutcracker, a massive community effort, with half the cast from our office, and kids Lily knew separate from my work. We went to the matinee, which was really fun--gotta love the music--and the audience was packed with families. The Northampton mayor was Mother Ginger on Saturday night.

(The only downside was getting rearended at the corner of King and Damon Road. A guy was asking for money and someone in a car ahead of us had stopped to give him some. The light changed, though, and they were still talking when someone banged into us, hard. She saw the green light, apparently, and hadn't noticed that the cars couldn't move yet. I am against panhandling at busy intersections like that. Dave got out and looked at the bumper but didn't see any damage so we didn't even exchange numbers.)

It reminded me of all the Nutcrackers I've seen in the past, including the Brooklyn School of Music's Brooklyn Nutcracker a couple of years ago, with Lily's friends Georgia-Rae and Ariadne. The neat thing was the Brooklyn angle: If memory serves, the mom and Clara (Georgia-Rae) are at a party and they get separated--kinda creepy Drosselmeyer scoops Clara away for a tour of Brooklyn. The mom's pulling her hair out with anxiety and Clara is having all kinds of adventures. The mice are actually some tough local kids who have a tap dancing competition with Clara. They tap very aggressively, and she responds by tapping back. Then the mice tap again, and Clara taps, and in the end the mice are impressed with her dance ability and everyone is friends. During the Arabia sequence Clara is on Atlantic Avenue, and during Tea she's in Sunset Park. Stuff like that just makes me love Brooklyn all the more.

My all-time fave remains The Hard Nut by Mark Morris, though. It always makes me cry, especially the pas de deux between Drosselmeyer and his prince; the snowflakes at the end of the first act throwing their handfuls of snow and then stopping to watch as Drosselmeyer trudges through them, oblivious; the Waltz of the Flowers, with Marie's mom celebrating her daughter's blossoming sexuality; and the ending, for some reason, with Fritz and Marie watching TV again, just like the very beginning, and this time the credits role. It all makes me shiver, makes me teary. Why is that? I don't know.

Tonight after dinner Lily and I came home and she had more homework, but she was cold. So we lit a fire and she did her math next to it at the kitchen table. She went to bed so easy tonight and after I tucked her in I stood by the railing outside her room, looking over our blue living room with the smoldering fire, the blinky 3-foot plastic Christmas tree Mum gave us a couple of years ago, the gerbils I cleaned at 10 pm last night because they really stank, and the too-hard puzzle on the card table next to the fireplace. And I just felt relaxed and happy and I thought, yes, despite this weird loft thing and this very public bedroom, when I snuggle in with Dave in our flannel sheets under our down comforter, as the house cools down and the woods through our new windows are so very dark, I am so grateful and peaceful and happy to be allowed to live here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Visiting Brooklyn

Yup, we were there. So sorry if we missed you! Work sent me to a conference in Manhattan on Friday so Dave and Lily came with me Thursday night. We stayed with Margaret that first night, Mike and Steph the second, and Grace and Michael, the parents of Lily's friend Sylvie, on Saturday. I had good long talks with Kim, Margaret, Mike and Steph, Helene, Ismene, and Mike and Grace, and we all saw Jenna, Curtis, and Harry on Sunday for brunch. Lily had playdates with Georgia-Rae, Nicky and Sabrina, Ariadne, Sylvie, and Harry. Dave saw Gone Missing with David. Whew!

First, a plug for the Civilians, the theater company that is doing Gone Missing. I worked with Michael Friedman on God Hates the Irish when I was in my "I wanna be a stage manager" phase in 2005. Michael is a founder of the Civilians and wrote the music for both these shows. He's amazingly talented and I would say try to see anything he does, if you get a chance.

It was cold, and it snowed on Saturday night. I was dined at everyone's houses and talked myself hoarse. I walked around the cold streets a bit. I hadn't been back since March. How odd! Kim and I went to the Boerum Hill Food Company for lunch, for old time's sake. I was thinking, how odd that eating here is memorable! Something I don't do any more, and haven't done for a year. It was a year exactly, you know, Thanksgiving weekend.

We walked over to PS 261 and I didn't get to see everyone but I did get to see several folks, especially Justice and Nilsa and Nilsa's daughter, Kristine, in the pre-K trailer, and Nan, dearest Nan. I saw Lena, too, and a few other folks. It was lovely.

Lily and Dave met us there after spending a couple of hours in Manhattan spending Lily's gift certificates at the American Girl store (thanks Betsy, among others!), and as she had forgotten her hairbrush back home, she refused to remove her hood from her sweatshirt. Still, everyone ooo-ed and ahh-ed about how tall she was, and hugged her despite her protestations. Justice had her as a student when she was 3, for goodness sakes! Justice asked after my mother, who had gone on a field trip with them that year and clearly left an impression. I didn't see the parents I wanted to, but maybe next time. Oh, and Lily told Nan that her teacher this year, Teresa Mullens, reminds us of her -- She's just like you, Lily said. Bossy! I'd use the word powerful. Nan and Teresa are both wonderful.

The thing about Brooklyn is, now I have to figure out how to be there. Do I tell everyone I'm coming and make every effort to see everyone, if only for five minutes? Do we stay at one place, or several? How many playdates is good for Lily in one weekend? For me? And what about the rest of New York? What if I want to go to the Metropolitan for an afternoon, or the Mermaid Parade? Can I just do that?

Margaret asked me what food I was craving from New York and I had to say none. I miss good bagels -- I don't care what people here say, Brueggers are not good bagels -- and good pizza -- ditto -- but not much else, and how often do I eat those, anyway? I miss being able to buy fresh mozzarella easily, or the dumplings from that street window at that tiny place in Chinatown. Dave used to ride up on his bike and buy two bags of 50 for like $20 and pedal off. Yum!

I miss talking to Margaret about work and families and kids and politics. I miss yakking with Helene about the same stuff. I miss watching Ariadne grow up--talk about tall, her and Georgia-Rae! I miss having Harry and his folks right down the street. I miss Steph's amazing stories about her adventures in the school system. I don't miss having trouble parking, or overheated apartments, or watching people get arrested in the middle of the day at the subway. I don't miss the Department of Education and the nonsense Tweed is inflicting on those in public schools; they are taking a really outstanding, in many ways, public school system, and turning it into a business. Yuck. And I really don't miss the crowds, or the perpetual glow of the lights, or all the people. So many people.

I miss the community of PS 261 and I miss the ease of Lily being able to see her friends, some friend, at basically the drop of a hat. It's all a trade-off, right? I am so happy to have clean air here, and really fresh vegetables, and space, and true darkness, and a 10-minute commute. I really love my job, the people, the challenges, the rewards, and especially the final product.

I am still finding the balance thing hard, here, the balance between work and family and friends. I still don't quite know how to do it all, to find time to meditate and light a fire in the fireplace and clean the house and work out at the Y and walk to the lake and call my posse. I seem to be able to focus on one, to the detriment of the others. Oh well, I guess more will be revealed. And it's not like that balance would be any easier if we were still living in Brooklyn.

Dave and I walked Sylvie's dog Homer around the block late Saturday night and we came back down Warren, by way of the condo. It felt odd, because it didn't feel odd. It was not my place. It had been for so long, 11 years, and now it's not, but I didn't really mind. I just thought, I'm really glad we sold when we did, the top of the market, they tell me. I certainly don't miss Fifth Avenue! especially given how it's changed. Maybe if we could have moved further out. But I still would not have been satisfied, I don't think.

Is moving kind of like death? Am I still dying? Or reborn into a new place? How long does it take? Two years, my friend Karen said. I think one to move and one to land. Check this space in a year.