Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Wanderings: New York City

This weekend was back to being busy, which was wonderful after last week's relaxing-but-not-quite-satisfying weekend at home. I met up with a friend from middle school, Jessie, for lunch on Friday, at the less-than-amazing Eden Wok in midtown, and after work headed back upstate to meet a slew of guests: Erica, Dave, James, Emily, and Cece. We made a lovely dinner of Welsh rarebit, salad, and tomato soup, and hung out for the evening, at one point trying to play Ouija, and ultimately deciding it wouldn't work, after the ghost told us we would miss eight trains the next morning.

Luckily, we didn't, and made the first one in plenty of time. We arrived in Grand Central with a steadfast itinerary and we kept to it like lint on a black shirt. First stop: Williamsburg. Erica is moving to New Zealand tomorrow, and had to drop her bags off, so we split up into two groups: the dropping off bags group and the knitting group. I recently decided to take up spinning, and wanted to go to the Yarn Tree to pick up a drop spindle and some roving (at the suggestion of my friend Christina, who runs her own etsy shop of beautiful homespun yarn). The Yarn Tree is absolutely wonderful, so if you have any interest in fiber or knitting and happen to be in Brooklyn, definitely take a trip over. While waiting to meet up with Dropping Off Bags, we wandered around a nice thrift store, and eventually went over to Caracas Arepa Bar. It was surprisingly empty, and the eight of us were seated immediately in the garden, which has an epic shrine to the Virgin Mary. The food was really good and the prices cheap, but the service was a bit slow. We wandered over for a "tour" of the Brooklyn Brewery post-lunch. I don't think I'd recommend this, because the tour, while funny and a little informative, was mostly just a rehashing of every other brewery in the world, and the bar is way, way too crowded for a Saturday afternoon. I've gone on Friday nights before, though, and it's great then. Also, Beacon's Closet, across the street is just wonderful. A quick walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, dinner at my favorite dumpling house, Vanessa's, and we were all completely tuckered out by the five plus miles we'd walked, so we headed home for the evening. I believe we did something once we got there, but I can't remember what it was now.

On Sunday, we were all set to go our separate ways, so we made a large brunch of hash browns (using Dave's mom's hint, "butter"), french toast (Zaro's recipe never fails me, it's just 4 eggs, 1 1/3 cup of milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 tbls sugar on challah bread that's been sliced and dried overnight), and this great peach lassi (Not Eating Out in NY). It's pretty rare that I'm satisfied with a meal I've made, and this one was fantastic. Many thanks to Roger, who woke up early and helped, bringing the meal to fruition. After that, we said our goodbyes as the boys headed to the city, Emily went home to Syracuse, and Cece and I went to our local mall, where we bought a few new clothes and I wanted to buy some Halloween decorations (and may yet - I have a thing for holiday decorations, the one place where I feel I can be as kitschy as my heart desires). I've been trying to move toward more sustainable shopping, but sometimes it's nice to wander around stores the way I did when I was a teenager. Then, it was home to try some spinning, which turned out to be easier than I expected. Hopefully, my yarn will become more even as I practice!

Friday, August 27, 2010

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Feel free to share a link to your moment in the comments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend Wanderings: Quietly Now

After breaking plans to go to Boston, and then breaking more plans to go to Storm King, I had a much-needed quiet weekend. Lots of knitting, some grocery shopping, and the requisite Mad Men episode, and just like that, it was over. I'd hoped that a weekend of rest would settle me a bit, but I'm feeling as unsettled as before. It is, perhaps, a stage, or perhaps just a sign that I need to accept the unsettledness of life again. Either way, I'm grateful to have had it, and grateful that next weekend should be a bit busy again. In the meanwhile, I think I might start taking yoga classes at our library.

In place of tantalizing stories of weekend events, here's a song I've been loving today:

For some reason, it's just exactly the moment I'm looking for.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Feel free to share a link to your moment in the comments.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Worlds of Wonder: An Imaginary Church

Gerard Houckgeest (1600-1661), a Dutch painter from the 17th century, seems to be known for his fictive pieces, including one of an imaginary palace interior that still hangs at Hampton Court. During the 1630s, in his early career, Houckgeest was in England, and Charles I owned five of his prospectives. It seems that his most famous painting is the Interior of the Oude Kerk Delft, which was actually drawn from life, but he has a several paintings of churches from his own mind, including "Interior of an Imaginary Church in the Classical Style" (1638), to the left.

I wonder, though: What makes one paint a church of your imagination, when there were so many beautiful cathedrals already surrounding you in Europe? I suppose, then, one would ask why I write every Wednesday of non-existent places. The world may never know.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Wanderings: Monticello Motor Club

I celebrated my final summer Friday by doing nothing. For all my plans of museums or hiking, I was exhausted and took the opportunity to lay down and collect myself before running a few errands. After dinner, we headed over to a party, where I was lucky enough to see some very old friends. Even though I don't see any of these people often, there's something so profoundly comforting about people who knew you when you were a child. There's a specialness about those people, and your collective memory with them, that is difficult to match. With everyone spread so far apart now, these small reunions from time to time feel so important to me.

On Saturday, Roger's bosses arranged for us to take Leo to their son's motor club, which is essentially a country club for people who enjoy racing luxury cars. Ari showed us around the clubhouse, and then took us around their track for a few laps. We were in some sort of BMW limousine-type car, not a racecar, and we had a top speed of 160mph, in addition to squealing around several corners and turns. We all had to wear helmets, much to Leo's chagrin (he doesn't even like wearing his seatbelt and he has dreadlocks), and I still feared for my life. It was sort of like being on a roller-coaster without a track. We stopped at their garage so that Leo could take photos of some of the cars (his paintings often feature industrial vehicles), and then listened in on a class on the track. Did you know that there's a formula for how fast you can make a turn in bad weather? There is. I don't think I'll be joining a motor club any time soon, but I'm really grateful to have had the experience. It was an awful lot of fun, and I'm keenly aware this is not something most people have the opportunity to try. We headed home for a quiet dinner, and then enjoyed the cinematic masterpiece that is "The Room" with Cece and some of her amazing friends. I would strongly recommend not watching this film unless you are in a large group. It's awful, and that awfulness needs to be shared.

Sunday was a general winding down sort of day. I woke up late, and Roger came over to do some work while I knit (I'm obsessed with knitting lately - it must be a longing for autumn) and watched The National Parks: America's Best Idea. He chatted through it, so I didn't actually see much, and it was very much like all of those documentaries you watched in high school, but the scenery was lush and the story is fascinating, so I'm going to give it another try tonight. I do love the parks system. We had milkshakes with J.J. and Matt at the Eveready Diner, which is delicious, and met J.J.'s girlfriend, Kali, who seems wonderful. After that, more relaxing, and then dinner at our favorite microbrewery with Dave and Cece.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Feel free to share a link to your moment in the comments.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Worlds of Wonder Wednesday: Seachild's City

I'll be honest and say that today I was a little lazy, and just looked up this World of Wonder in my Dictionary of Imaginary Places. I haven't actually read L'Enfant de la Haute Mer (Jules Supervielle, 1931), though it sounds interesting. Instead, all I have is a short dictionary entry:

SEACHILD'S CITY, built on a floating island, somewhere in the north Atlantic, last seen at latitude 55 north and longitude 35 west. Visitors have great difficulty reaching the city becasue it disapaers as soon as a ship is seen upon the horizon. The entire city has only one inhabitant, the twelve-year-old daughter of a certain Charles Lievens de Steenvoorde, who disappeared on the high seas. The girl lives in this empty place, carrying out her everyday tasks in a normal manner. It is believed that there are many such floating cities built by drowned children whose bodies have never been recovered.

Completely enamored with the sea and abandoned places, I love the image of ghost children performing their chores all alone on little disappearing islands. I can only imagine that their hair is made of seaweed and that their skin is translucent.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weekend Wanderings

This weekend we actually did take a little weekend trip, to Pennsylvania for our friend Erica's graduation party. First though, on Friday, I finished knitting my first sweater. It's not properly done yet (still waiting on buttons to arrive from Slovenia), but once it is, I'll post some pictures here and on Ravelry. It turned out quite well, and I'm immensely proud of it, because knitting is something I taught myself completely, and I never really thought I'd be able to do anything but ugly scarves, so each project is a special triumph for me, and my first sweater was especially pleasing. Just for the record, now I'm cable knitting a hat, which is much easier than I'd expected. I know I did some other things on Friday, but none of them hold a candle to that, so I'll leave it here.

On Saturday, before heading to PA, Roger participated in his first ever dragon boat race. We had to leave before his second race, but he and his team won the first round. We ended up mostly sitting on the river and talking for a few hours before they raced (one of the boats sunk and that put a crimp in the day's schedule), but it was a nice way to spend a morning. We met our friends Matt and Cece and all piled into the Mustang for a sunny drive to White Haven. Once there, we had some delicious food and massive slices of Erica's cake, relaxed on her community playground, and took a canoe out for a little jaunt on the lake. Cece and I discovered that a good see-saw is pretty much the greatest thing ever invented. I'd never been to a party at a beach, and it's pretty much the perfect location for one. I think I was secretly meant to live in New England and go to clam bakes every summer. We spent the night at Dave's house in Mountain Top, and went to Crossroads Bar and had cheap beer and got hassled before heading to sleep for the night.

On Sunday morning, Dave's parents very kindly made us a wonderful breakfast with some of the best hash browns I've ever had (the secret is using butter AND oil). We then toured Mountain Top in the daylight. The town goes rapidly from very suburban with lots of strip malls to pretty rural with dirt roads, and reminded us a little of some parts of upstate New York. They have a very good ice cream place, Mountain Freeze, where you can get sundaes, dipped cones, and smoothies at really good prices, and which is right in front of Abe's Hot Dogs. We didn't actually eat there, but apparently it's pretty good. After watching part II of the cinematic masterpiece mini-series event that is Merlin, we wandered around Dave's high school grounds, and made our way back to New York for another Sunday dinner and Mad Men. It was a great, but exhausting weekend.

*The middle two photos are stolen from Erica's facebook, and used completely without her permission, but with the hopes that she won't mind.

Friday, August 6, 2010

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Feel free to share a link to your moment in the comments.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Worlds of Wonder Wednesday: Kukuanaland

The book that launched a thousand other "lost world" books, King Solomon's Mines is a colonialist Victorian adventure novel, focusing on a group of explorers setting out to find the treasure room of Solomon's diamond and gold mines. Before they can reach the mines, however, they must pass through Kukuanaland, a distopian community surrounding the mines. Kukuanaland is filled with natural wonders, and run by a tyrant, whose advisor is a witch. After the arrival of the European explorers, it's discovered that one of their African porters is actually the true king of Kukuanaland, and he runs a rebellion, eventually replacing the original tyrant. The witch is crushed by a rock in the mines in a scene that's always reminded me of the Disney version of Snow White.

What's interesting to me about Kukuanaland isn't necessarily anything about the place itself, but rather the way in which it portrayed Africa to an enormous amount of British citizens. The book was a tremendous bestseller, and the first adventure novel about Africa. At a time when the Valley of the Kings was being excavated and there were still many parts of the globe left unseen by European eyes, including much of central Africa, the book became a passport and left an indelible vision of the continent as a place of turmoil, violence, witchcraft, and untapped resources. Certainly without it, Heart of Darkness and others would have been written, published, read, and would have contributed to this vision, but King Solomon's Mines, as accessible and fast-paced as any modern movie would be, seems to have kickstarted it all.

For what looks to be a much better analysis than I've provided here, check out chapter one of Artificial Africas: Colonial Images in the Time of Globalization. I haven't read it all, but the few paragraphs I glanced over looked intriguing. You can find the complete text of King Solomon's Mines online for free (here) if you have a kindle or infinite patience for reading on a laptop screen. I don't have the paper I wrote on it filed on this computer, but if anyone's interested in other sources, comment here and I'll take a look at it for you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekend Wanderings

In another attempt to update more regularly, I've decided that Mondays should be devoted to whatever weekend journeys were enjoyed on the two days prior. Sometimes this is a proper weekend trip, but more often, I suspect it will just be a briefing on how I spend my free time.

We're on summer hours at work, which means I have Friday afternoons off until the middle of August. I haven't been particularly good about spending these afternoons wisely, but I'm doing my best, and this Friday, I had a lovely long lunch with Sarah in Central Park. We picked up sandwiches and the most wonderful eponymous French cookies at MacarOn. I've longed for those bright, beautiful cookies for ages, and was so glad to try the honey-lavender and rose flavors. If only I could find a good, easy to make recipe. I'd hoped to check out the Race to the End of the Earth exhibit, since I'm fascinated by all things early travel, but I felt I wouldn't have enough time to properly see that and make my train, so I headed back, stopping for a steamed milk at the Peekskill Coffee House before meeting Roger and enjoying a quiet evening (aka: falling asleep really early).

We spent S
aturday morning being very practical, checking out apartments, going to the farmers' market, and doing some banking. In the evening, we met up with Rachel for the Peekskill Jazz & Blues Festival, where we really only sat through Sage's show, and saw a few others on and off, all of which were quite good. We all enjoyed an indulgent dinner at Birdsall House. All the food was a nice mixture of savory and sweet, particularly the maple & bacon ice cream. They have a great selection of beers, and although the food was pricey, I'd definitely go back again, especially if they decided to have a trivia night sometime soon. After the very filling dinner, we happened upon Jess and Leo, Roger's friends from work, and hung out with them for a bit.

Sunday I cleaned, gardened, and generally tried to be productive, which led to the creation of four reusable snack bags. I followed Amy Karol's tutorial, and they were a great project to get me started sewing. The tutorial was clear and adorable, and the project takes almost no time. I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a quick way to pass a little time, or a more sustainable way to pack your lunch. I used a bright blue striped flannel, and I'm so addicted that I want to make one for everyone I know. That evening, we went over to Allison and Dan's for dinner and a Mad Men viewing. I won't give anything away, in case you haven't seen it yet, but this week's episode is much, much better than the season premier last week.

Overall, a calm, catching-up sort of weekend. That's to say, "a good one."