Sunday, August 30, 2009

The facts, embellished

Yesterday some one left a comment on an old post about the Ikea mattress fiasco that accused me of "slandering" the company, and then went on to advise me "to keep it real and stick to the facts." I'm not bothered by someone leaving this comment. The truth is that I find it rather amusing.

I suppose my use of the word "fiasco", above, could be seen as not sticking to the facts. There was no fiasco in the true sense of the word. I was not sued. No Ikea employees came to my house and burned it to the ground. I didn't go ballistic and threaten to shoot anyone. In the end, everything worked out fine. 800 miles of driving and lots of complaining - we got our money back and now have a fine mattress.

The truth is a slippery thing. I write honestly and say what is my truth, but I tend toward hyperbole, no doubt about it. There's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. My aim is not a dry reporting of the facts and just the facts ma'am. Often the facts are boring. This blog was not meant to be a repository of consumer reports. I'm a storyteller (at my best) and storytellers embellish, or at least they try to make things interesting.

I say "everything is interesting" but even the most interesting things can be made boring in their re-telling. I wrote a review for a book about exorcism ("The Rite"). I believe I entitled the review "how could anyone render a book about exorcism so boring?" Now, many people don't like my review (and that's fine), but I was amazed at how dry this book was. But, in the author's attempt to not sensationalize an already sensational topic, he went overboard in writing without any feeling. Others do not agree; the book is well-liked. Well, that's people for you. We all have our opinions, including me (obviously).

Now, this may be a boring post. I've really not much to say. I've been tired and head-achy for a few weeks now, and there's been so much I've felt like blogging about, but every time I start blogging, I get sleepy and put what I've written aside as a draft, never to be looked at again. I also would prefer to be knitting, and my clothes dryer just beeped and I need to attend to that. On top of that, I haven't felt like analyzing much of anything that I've been doing, and some of what I've been doing is best shared in photographs. Right now, quite frankly, I'd rather be knitting than writing, so after I'm done folding my laundry that's what I'm going to do. And after that, I'll probably watch an episode of "The Sanctuary", a show I've been enjoying quite a bit. Now, that is a surprise to me. I normally don't go in for television shows about the supernatural, but there's something about this show that makes me feel relaxed and even happy. A smart 147-year-old woman scientist, her gold gun toting daughter, a gentle werewolf, and a young psychiatrist who seems to always have his hands in his pockets are the main characters. The rest? Monsters of all kinds and a very simple good vs. evil vibe where everything always always resolves itself well. I feel the same pleasure I once got reading Spiderman comics. Hey, sometimes one needs to just veg out.

Photo note: "Done Roving" yarn. Since I didn't write about my last two days working at the yarn shop, I figure I should show you some of my current favorite yarn company's yarn. When I'm "selling" yarn, I might pick up a skein of something like this and say "this has got to be the most gorgeous stuff I've ever seen." Hyperbole? Not at the moment I'm holding it in my hands or laying it on the floor to see how the colors interplay. . .at that moment, it is the most gorgeous thing I've ever laid my eyes on.

In the meantime, a great link

Scents of New York City, the real stuff, not the kind one buys in a bottle. Go here. I promise you it's fun. Thank my cousin Larry for the link.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Light and color

More Bonnard for your viewing pleasure. Sorry, but I couldn't find the name or year of this painting.

This painting reminds me of our recent visit to Lubec, Maine. The houses have more color than in most other parts of Maine. Most of the little seaside houses have enchanting small gardens. And the fog, the seemingly ever present fog, it somehow brings colors out more. Unlike the more developed seaside towns, parts of the coast are dotted with old half falling down shacks and docks, rich in deep browns and near-black wood, the gray of barnacles. Can darkness shimmer? It seems so, as one's eyes try to focus on the shapes in the white fog.

Foggy coastal villages make me think of mohair yarn.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Everything changes

Preface: I wrote the following last Saturday night. I didn't post it because I felt that all my posts of late have smacked of a subtle negativity. I wanted to post something "nice." I still haven't got anything particularly lovely to post, and the following was still on my mind. I gave some thought to my writing (in not so many words) that catering to "rich tourists" was something that people might regret. I realize I have issues with those of wealth (and working for them). My parents made a choice when I was eight years old to move to one of the wealthiest communities in America in order to "make money off the rich folks." I look back in time and see my childhood cut in two; eight years were relatively normal and good, the rest were hell. I listened to words of bitterness and humiliation for the entire time we lived in that wealthy town. My parents, two immensely talented, creative, and smart people, had a hard time. Using the back doors of houses, kow-towing, catering to, being treated like they were less-than. . .it took its toll. I have a knee-jerk negative reaction to depending on the whims of those with money in order to make a living. But, I realize that when I'm talking about the merits of a good ball of yarn with someone, I don't give a thought to whether that person is wealthy or not. Anyway, this is not the real point of this post. It's just a part of it, and a part that sticks in my craw. The other part, the feeling of sadness when something or some place cherished disappears, well, that's really much more important:

Eastport, Maine is a place both Dick and I have held in our thoughts with great affection. When we left our camping buddies down the coast, we were asked why we were driving another two hours to visit this town. Dick said, "It's a pilgrimage."

I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but I got what he meant, and for me, there will no more pilgrimages to Eastport in my future.

Yes, everything changes. We expected some change, because it's been a few years, but not to the extent we experienced. I felt disheartened, even heart broken.

For who knows how long, Eastport had a little funky, homey Mexican restaurant. It had Christmas lights, chili pepper lights, all sorts of lights, strewn about everywhere. Pinatas hung all over. Local and Mexican artwork graced the walls. The food was cheap, not fantastic by any means, but plentiful, and it was a really friendly place. It's now gone, replaced with a restaurant one needs reservations for. Reservations in Eastport? Unthinkable. When we walked into the half empty place and were asked if we had reservations, I was stunned, I said how we used to come up to Eastport every summer and never in a million years would have expected. . .blah blah blah. The hostess had no interest in knowing a thing about my relationship with the town. That bothered me even more than the fact that the old place was gone and it had been transformed into a yuppie paradise with a sommelier. Eastport was a town where even strangers were treated as friends to chat with in the shops, on the pier, or on the street.

There was an entire block of upscale galleries. We didn't bother going in, for we were hurrying towards a dinner we weren't to have. Instead, we wound up in a place where I got a lousy hamburger. At least it was friendly (and there was a wall full of good books to peruse). The waitress commiserated with us about the loss of the old town.

This morning, we had planned on going back into town to look at the new shops, but we woke up early and neither of us had much interest in sticking around long enough for them to open. A part of me didn't want to see the rich tourists and those catering to them again.

Some summers back a bunch of local artists had taken over some deserted storefronts for 200 bucks for the summer. A guy sold handmade scooters and surfboards out of a quonset hut. The old 5 & 10 was still up and running (if marginally), and the 19th century soda and iced cream shop was going strong. Yes, folks wanted more tourists, but I wonder if they wanted what they're gotting now. I suspect a lot of the houses have been bought up by summer people. I felt a palpable sense of have and have-not in the town. Something precious has been lost.

Down in Lubec, it's getting funkier, and prettier, too. One enchantment over and another one begins. I love downeast Maine, but I'm afraid that a good deal of its culture is vanishing.

Yeah, things change.

Photo note: Eastport, Maine 1911. These 7-12 year old boys worked at a canning factory. Read more details here. As Bob Dylan once sang "you gotta serve somebody." Seeing this image puts my parents' (and my) "hardships" in perspective.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I give up. I've been trying to write something upbeat (or at least coherent) for almost an hour and I'm licked.

Image note: Pierre Bonnard "Landscape, Studio with mimosas" (1939-46). I was hesitating between posting a Rothko and a Bonnard, wanting to display an image of vibrant color. To read more about Bonnard, with a mention of Rothko, go here. Dumbly, I'd never made the connection between the two artists. So, for tonight, this is all I can give you, a post of a painting. I suspect the painting is not that rich a yellow in person. Tonight, I don't care, for I find the exuberance of it intoxicating. If it's only a poor reproduction, so be it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Purpose, community, longing

When I wrote that there was a cult camping out on a boat in the Belfast Harbor, I didn't know zip about the Twelve Tribes communities. For some good analysis, check out Jaime's comment in the last post.

Yes, they are a Christian organization. Are they a cult? That depends on what one considers a cult. Is there a charismatic head honcho who controls everyone? Unless you believe that God or Jesus fits that bill, the answer is no. Do they have beliefs that I disagree with? Yes. Who doesn't? If I was a parent, I'd be a bit perturbed by my teenager joining them, for I don't think "sparing the rod spoils the child" nor do I think that women should be relegated to "womenly duties." There's no mention of homosexuality, but I would think that's considered a sin, considering women aren't supposed to do jobs that require pants.

Otherwise, they seem like a good group. In fact, when reading about them, I experience a keen feeling of longing. If I did have the same belief system, I would probably check them out. They appear to be a friendly, quiet bunch who proselytize by just being as they are. Their lives are dedicated to God and to prayer, and they worship with joy and exuberance, as well as trying to live the same way. Simple work, dancing, singing, shared meals, community, support, no divisions between rich and poor. . .ah, it sounds good to me.

I've said this before and I'll say it again; I do believe that depression is a direct result of having no spiritual life and/or community. Without purpose, without feeling that one is part of something larger than oneself, why bother doing anything? Just to pay one's rent or mortgage, buy more stuff, wait for the weekend or a yearly vacation to have some "fun"?

I want to be clear here that I do not believe in God as most people understand the concept. I am an atheist without hesitation or hedging my bets. But I do believe there is something larger than one's self, and what to call that is difficult. Maybe some day I'll have the capabilities of being a spiritual teacher, but I'm not there yet.

Statistics on depression show that about 22% of Americans have some form of it, and I would venture to guess that this number is low. How many people go undiagnosed? A great many.

As long as I have stuggled with lifelong depression, I have also sometimes fantasized about living in an intentional community. I do very well in that kind of environment. I think one reason many people get better when they go into mental health facilities is simply because they have community. Meals are at a set time. There are "community meetings" that mark the beginning and end of each day, and most facilities have occupational therapy, which is usually simply sitting around with other people while making things. For many, this is the first time in their lives they've spend a full hour being creative, and it's a revelation.

When I've spent time in spiritual communities, I've thrived. It's quite difficult for me to be depressed in these surroundings. Meditation alone is good, but I've found that meditation with others is even better. Additionally, knowing that whatever I do has an effect on everyone else is something that makes each activity seem more important. Of course, whatever I do in the "real world" does effect somebody or something, but within an intentional community, it is more obvious. For those, like me, who are given to bleak moods and a sense of purposelessness, living with others, sharing and making meals together, cleaning together, meditating together, working together. . .well, it's just all good (an expression I hate).

Why don't I live like this? I'm part of a couple, for one thing. If the "other half" shared the same feelings, we could live like this together, but that's not an option. In the meantime, I struggle on and off with my depression, and find it so plainly obvious that not living in any kind of meaningful community wreaks havoc with my mood.

So, no, I can't find fault the Twelve Tribes people. I just don't share their religious views.

I think it's a rare person who can live without community or a sense of purpose. Recently, I had a conversation with someone about God and heaven, and I said that I thought a lot of people turned to believing in both because they were scared. I don't need the consolation of thinking that there's a "better place" that I'll go to after I die. Neither do I need the belief that I was put here on this planet for some purpose that may or may not be revealed to me. And lastly, the idea that humans are just an accident of the cosmos doesn't trouble me in the least.

But, and it's an important point, I do believe that one needs to make meaning out of one's life and that a rewarding life is purpose driven. For many, their purpose is simply to bring up their children. I have none, so perhaps my search for usefulness is more imperative.

This topic makes me think of a summer camp I went to when I was 12 and 13 years old. It was an interesting place. The campers were a diverse lot. There were autistic kids, some of which were at the far end of the spectrum, who banged their heads or howled all day long. There were many deaf kids, and so we all learned basic sign language. The backgrounds of the campers ranged from rich suburban kids to kids from the worst ghettos. And to top it off, the camp was run by a Baptist minister and a man who spearheaded the free school movement (whose name I've forgotten). Besides meals and an optional Sunday sermon, there were no scheduled activities. If one wanted to do crafts, one would go to the crafts cabin. If you wanted to sing or play a game, you'd organize it or get some adult to help you out. The diversity of the campers made it important that us kids learned to get along with those we normally might never encounter otherwise. There was no bullying. It just didn't happen (as an aside, I had previously gone to a totally homogenous summer camp where bullying was a serious problem).

Many of us kids were pretty damaged, and so were many of the counselors. I remember having a discussion with one counselor who had spent most of her adolescence and her early twenties in a mental institution. She told me that the way she got better was by pretending she was okay. She woke up every day at the same time, took a shower, ate breakfast, went out even if she couldn't work, and then ate lunch and dinner every day at the same time. She looked for organized events that she could participate in in the evenings. She acted "as if." It was hard to imagine that this lovely young women had spent over ten years in a mental hospital. She was a wonderfully sweet person who was great at rounding up us kids for impromptu singing and dancing. She taught us how to sing madrigals and do old-fashioned square dancing.

Yes, I hunger for things like this. I'd much prefer to do some "silly" square-dancing than sit in front of my television set. I would love to spend my afternoons baking pies (which is what I did to pay for camp) than just hanging out and chilling. But baking a pie for just Dick and myself doesn't move me.

Really, I don't think we were meant to live in these unconnected nuclear families and couples. And within many of us is a longing for more than that, a longing that creates an un-named hole in our spirit that we try to fill up with whatever we can. You can pour alcohol in that hole, or drugs, food, what-have-you, but it will never fill up.

We open magazines like National Geographic and marvel at the smiles we see on the faces of people who live in abject poverty in remote parts of the world. We know in our hearts that they have something we do not, but often we can't put our finger on what it is. Most of us have heard that it takes a village to raise a child, but we never look at the adult side of that aphorism.

Photo note: I have no idea who these people are or where they're from. It's an unattributed photograph from Country Living magazine. Making music and dancing are wonderful, joyful activities that most of us never do. What a shame.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just an update

I haven't been in the mood to blog, or to write for that matter. If I was to write more, it'd be about knitting. Even with all the knitting books, magazines, and instructions that come out every month, I've discovered that there's a big glaring hole in what's out there; information for people who are beginners who want to graduate from knitting their first scarf (or dozen). The knitting pattern designers focus much on showing off their creativity and expertise, and many of their patterns are too complex for newbies, or at least appear to be so. Knitting instructions look like indecipherable algebraic formulas, and that in itself is enough to frighten off a good many math-phobic people. Add to that that the majority of patterns are written for specific yarn, which is likely too expensive for many people, difficult to find, or has gone off the market, and well. . .even if you're not a knitter and have read this far, you can see there's a problem.

As a longtime knitter, it's easy for me to make up my own patterns, alter existing ones, or ignore instructions and know what will happen if I do so. That kind of information would be useful for beginning knitters. Presenting this information in a lively, hands-on format is something I'd like to begin working on, and I'll probably post some of it here. This idea seems to scream out for another side-blog project, but those haven't worked out well for me. So, since "everything is interesting", you non-knitters who enjoy reading my posts may have to just ignore some upcoming knitting entries, just as the folks who don't care about perfume did the same for perfume entries. In the meantime, I hope to get back to writing entries that are interesting for everyone. Maybe when the summer is over (and I've finally stopped procrastinating about getting my resume done, sent out, gone to interviews, and (hopefully) found a job), I'll be back in the mood for writing up free-flowing entries. I should hope so. This has been great fun for a long time.

A global Christian organization has docked a large sailing vessel on the coast of Maine. I just tried to google them, but they seem to be elusive. I want to know more about who they are. They have tourists visiting the boat all day, and coming to listen to free music at night. Now, discovering that they're hard to find on the web makes me even more suspicious of this group who asks its members to give all their money to them, take a vow of poverty, yet has a sailing vessel worth millions sitting in Belfast harbor. The boat is called the Peacemaker. If you find out something about them, let me know!

Image Note: A Japanese knitting chart. Charted knitting is great, for it does transcend language barriers. I can understand what this chart is saying, but it is a language one has to learn. But no, it is not hard to learn. Try learning Japanese. Now, that's hard.

Addendum: There are a host of books about reading knitting instructions, but that's all they are. Some of them look like fun, like the "Secret Language of Knitters", though this book, as good as it might be, seems like the author is trying too hard to be funny in the way that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is. I love McPhee's "At Knit's End: Meditations for Knitters Who Knit Too Much". It's endlessly amusing for someone who is an avid knitter, but unfortunately, McPhee has actually added to the lexicon of indecipherable knitting abbreviations with her pithy acronyms, such as SSS (Single Sock Syndrome). Ha! I just googled SSS and my own post about knitter's groupspeak came up on page one! Go here to read it. For you newbie knitters, I also found "KnitSpeak:An A-Z Guide to the Language of Knitting." Still, none of the books I've found have it all, and I as much I personally love owning lots of knitting books, but it seems like one shouldn't have to lug around an entire library of books in order to follow one simple knitting pattern. Wouldn't it be nice to have a good all-in-one book with basic knitting patterns and how to read them, execute the stitches, and understand just what the whole process is all about? Yes, what I'm describing is on the market, but they're not the most compelling books.

Okay. I really have to get to re-doing my resume. Unfortunately, I have developed a nasty headache since I started this "just an update" post. Can you believe I have a hangover form drinking one beer last night? Seems that it's so.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Knitting and crocheting cheerfulness

I've been having lots of fun knitting up the components of knitted and crocheted flower bouquets. Here's my first flower:

Okay, I did make another one before this, but it was very plain. Now, I think this one is quite plain, too, but I like it. I have an urge to make truly wacky and frivolous knit bouquets. Crocheting different spirals is a lot of fun!

Here's my first bouquet:

I've got a little stack of components for the next few bouquets. Here's one set, ready to be sewn up, that will have spirals that hang more, instead of just popping out in all directions:

I've been having a blast discovering the ways different stitches cause spiraling shapes, leaves that bend to the right or the left, and just generally enjoying being freed from stitchery that is meant to be "useful." This is pure fun (not that I don't enjoy knitting or crocheting everything else, for I do). I should have said this is pure play. There's no reason for me to be knitting these objects, but I love how small everything is, and how yesterday I knit about a dozen leaves, didn't like how they looked, ripped out all I'd done, and didn't feel like I'd wasted my afternoon. I learned quite a bit about forming leaf shapes. Sure, I could read some instructions, but I'd rather explore. I've always thought of knitting and crocheting as a two dimensional art form, mostly a vehicle for making sweaters, socks, and shawls, and I feel like a new world has opened up for me. I had explored this a bit two winters ago, when I went on a miniature bag making spree, but after a while, I got bored with the little bags. There's way more possibilities here. I'll post some more as they get sewn up. These aren't too thrilling, but I figured I should let my readers know what I've been doing with some of my previous blogging time!

And as far as the blog title goes, that's how I feel making these; that I'm creating cheerfulness. I'm using bright colors, which is unusual for this tweedy natural yarn loving woman. It's rather impossible to feel down when knitting with bright green, orange, and hot pink.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Daily scents and nonsense

It was a beautiful day. Simply perfect, unlike most of the days we've had this spring and what there's been of summer. The sky was a clear blue. The clouds were small and passed quickly. It wasn't too hot, nor was it too cool (as it could be here in Maine in August), and it was nice and dry. What more could one want? I sat outside and knit.

Dick received his new Mac, was sent the wrong one, had hours of frustration with Apple, which proved to have about the worst customer service I can possibly imagine. My brand loyalty has been waning over the last year or so, and this was the final nail in the coffin for me. I was nearly astonished about their complete lack of caring whether they did right by a customer that I called myself to see if things might go better. They did not. If I went into details right now, my blood pressure might go up, and you don't need the details. All I can say is that in the last six months or so I've been surprised at how poor the service has been with a number of large purchases, and this seems strange, especially given the condition of the economy. I want to tip my hat to Maidenform, once again, for their fine customer service. So, to hell with Apple. . .they could have ruined an otherwise perfect day, but it was much too nice a day to ruin. Dick's still getting a Mac (sometime or other). Me, I would not.

I got a Crazylibellule and the Poppies fragrance from the Les Garconnes line around the same time as Dick got the wrong computer. It's Pour Gabrielle, with notes of jasmine, peony, ozonic flower, cedar, incense, leather, vanilla and elemi. At first whiff, I was surprised at the complexity of this inexpensive (and terribly cute) stick of solid perfume, though my second take reaction to the scent was that it smelled like some bug dope I used as a kid. I applied a bit to my wrists and commenced knitting, ignoring the warning sign that it might give me a head ache. I hate the smell of bug spray. Sure enough, as I warmed up while knitting with wool in the sun (perfect day or no), the smell grew stronger. I could not pick out any notes. My brain had fixated on "bug dope" and I started to feel slightly nauseated. A thorough scrubbing did not get the smell out of my nostrils.

When this happens, the only remedy is applying a beloved scent, but today I did not do that. I wish I could recall exactly what I wound up doing, but I can't seem to. I tried, in vain, to find some Terre D'Hermes that smelled heavenly on a friend who came to visit this past weekend. I know I've tried the Hermes before, but that's yet another thing I can't remember (uh oh). Instead, I stumbled on something else I'd been meaning to try. Whatever it was, it had a strong peppery, bitter lime note and obliterated the memory of the Pour Gabrielle. But that started to bother me, too. I woke up with a headache and I really had no business fooling around with scents that weren't soothing. Anything lavender would have been fine, but no, I was set to discover something new today, and nothing was going to stop me. What I wound up doing was creating a fragrance stew. I covered the forgotten lime scent with some CB I Hate Perfume Fire From Heaven, and when it seemed that that was too weak, I followed that up with some Ginestet Le Boise. At this point, I think I was suffering from a bit of anosmia, for I really could not smell Le Boise, and it's a fairly strong fragrance, with named notes of cedar, sandalwood, spices, and vanilla (though I smell patchouli in there, but no one else has mentioned it). If I can't smell Le Boise, even if there are plenty of stronger fragrances out there, I should just quit and go back to my knitting. So, I did, and about a half an hour later I realized I smelled like a perfume shop. A good one, mind you, but still. . .good thing I didn't have to go to an office party.

It's almost eight hours since I went into this fragrance frenzy and I can still smell all of it on me, except (thankfully) the Pour Gabrielle. Poor Gabrielle, I wish I could have liked her.

Photo note: Knitting on the street in Georgetown, Wales. For more beautiful black and white photographs of the people in Wales, circa 1972, go here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Random snapshots of New York City

One thing that's stuck with me since I was in the City (as I still call it) is a friend's comment that Zen is not popular with hipsters. I thought this was a rather amusing observation. The idea of a religion or philosophy being popular or hip is absurd to me, but I shouldn't be surprised in the least. Since I don't want to malign sheep, I'd rather not say "people are like sheep", but that's the expression. Sheep do a very good job of following one another around, and it's a rare sheep that does it's own thing. If they run to the right, they all run to the right. If it's time to sleep, they all sleep. If there's a coyote to the east, you can bet all your money that they're all looking east.

People aren't as good as sheep when it comes to sticking together in this way, but they do seem to want to be alike, even if their self-image is that of being different. The hipsters in New York do a pretty good job of being different in exactly the same way as every other hipster. I went to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, supposedly the hipster capitol of the world, and I didn't see much in the way of creativity, except when I visited CB I Hate Perfume. On the street, everyone looked pretty much the same. There was a lot more diversity on 28th Street and Park Avenue, which is thought of by most New Yorkers as just another street in a generally boring neighborhood.

Being hip has always been tyrannical. When I was young and living in New York, the unwritten dress codes for getting into clubs made me crazy. I've undoubtedly written about this before. I know I've written about my aversion to purple, the color of "kookiness", and finally made peace with it, for it's a great color that comes in a myriad of shades.

Quite frankly, whether you're hip or decidedly plain, the tyranny of "fitting in", wherever one lives, is just ridiculous. I've moaned about feeling like a nutcase wearing slightly fashionable clothes in a rural village. Not wearing a sweatshirt and jeans at the General Store is akin to wearing a sign that says "I'm an outsider." Wearing a lavender sweatshirt with lupine design on the front and a pair of light blue jeans in Williamsburg, Brooklyn produces the same result. Honestly, a person who dares wear such "unfashionable" clothing in that part of Brooklyn would practically be a pioneer or a daredevil.

Right before I left for New York there was a news report about a child who was taken away from her family by social services because she was obese. One person posited that this was classist, and that no one would take away an anorexic kid from an upper middle class family. I was thinking about this a lot while I was in the City, for I saw an awful lot of women whom I wanted to pull aside and whisper in their ears "maybe you'd like a little bite to eat?" When I asked people I was with who lived in the City if they noticed how many anorexic girls there were on the street they seemed shocked. Everyone in New York is gorgeous! Not so, not so at all. In the heat of summer, with less clothes on, there were an awful lot of legs that looked like they'd come straight out of a concentration camp. That kind of skinniness is a bit frightening to me. A leg should not be thinner than my forearm, even if my forearm is a bit thick.

I saw a girl wearing fur-lined knee-high boots on a subway platform. It was so hot and humid on that platform I was sweating profusely. She looked perfectly calm. Later, when I mentioned it to a friend, it occurred to me that she was a heroin addict. Really, that stuff keeps one cool as a cucumber. And skinny.

Getting back to 28th and Park Avenue, we stayed at a "boutique hotel." It cost about the same as a hotel in anycity, USA, because it was in a "boring neighborhood." Yes, the shops closed at 9:00pm, which is nearly shocking in the city that never sleeps, but the hotel cafe stayed open late and it was charming. The rooms were tiny, but the bathrooms were simply luxurious and as clean as any I've ever seen. The cafe had Victorian velvet sofas where one could lounge and watch the stream of people go by. I sat for a while and knit and thought I was in heaven. I had forgotten how much I like to people watch.

One thing that's truly lovely about NYC is that on almost every corner is a neighborhood deli that sells cheap bouquets of high quality flowers. The variety is tremendous. One can get orchids for four bucks. I know it seems absurd for me to be raving about this when I live in the country and grow my own flowers, but my flowers only bloom for a short amount of time, and if I want a bouquets in my house all year long I'd be spending a fortune. Not only that, one can get asparagus for one dollar a pound.

Don't get me started. Tourists think eating in New York is expensive, but they don't know what the real deal is. It may be an expensive place to live, but to eat, no. There are countless ethnic restaurants that serve up food that makes cooking at home seem like a bad deal.

I know this post is all over the map, but I've been trying to write something for days. I'd intended on writing a somewhat in-depth entry about thinking for oneself, but then memories of my recent trip intervened. I'd trashed blog entry after blog entry all week, so I made a deal with myself that I'd post whatever the hell I wrote tonight. So, here it is, folks, a piece of poorly constructed writing that lead to nowhere. Take from it what you will. Next time I'll do better (I hope).

Photo note: The corner of Bedford Avenue and ? in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Look! There's a Subway! Is that hip? No. It's the bicycle racks that are. Not that I have anything against bicycle racks, mind you.