A favorite blogger writes: "What has happened to all the women who are done with child-rearing? Young voices permeate the blogosphere." What do sixty-something women do with their lives, especially if they do not have full-time jobs? We're here to find that out.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
A trip to Boston wouldn't be complete without a visit to the incredible Russo's in Watertown.
If it can't be spring yet, this is the next best thing.
So, I finished the book. It has to go back to the library tomorrow. When I'm in the middle of something so intense it's hard to focus on anything else. Like blogging. I have also been intermittently watching the DVD of 24, Season Two. I'm not sure I'm going to bother with any more of it. Maybe it works better if you watch it once a week, as intended, but for me it's too violent and almost laughably predictable; the most innocent-looking characters turn out to be the most evil, and the most suspicious-looking ones turn out to be the good guys. Until they're not. Does anybody count the number of people Jack Bauer shoots in one day? And the times they say "You'll just have to trust me..."?
I don't want to lose blogging momentum, and I wanted to give you something to look at, so I'm showing you this recently made plate of vegetables topped with a poached egg. There are endless variations of this, suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Very satisfying.
But it's not what I had today. I improvised a big wokful of fried rice with pork and shrimp that I didn't photograph, and then had a mad craving for chocolate cake, which I also didn't photograph. Just a small one. And I didn't eat the whole thing. Yet.
Current reading. Very, very powerful. There are even parts that will make you laugh. Francine Prose describes it here better than I ever could. It's yet another harrowing, horrifying subject: the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. By the same author whose debut memoir (also wonderful) was "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius". Highly recommended.
We had our first snow today. Big deal - nearly two inches. Enough that I had to actually shovel the walk. But that came later. We'd had winter storm alerts for the last couple of days. We were prepared. Schools were all closed - the works. But I shouldn't make light of it. It was a nasty day - windy, sleety, cold. A good day for sensible people to stay indoors.
But there were concert tickets to be used. My friend Fran frequently has rehearsal passes to events at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere and I get to tag along. Today it was the Minnesota Symphony playing Sibelius and Beethoven. Very often the rehearsals are as good or better than the performances themselves, consisting of full-scale run-throughs with occasional recaps of the hard (best!) parts. This one was a little choppy; the conductor was stopping every few minutes. Fine tuning. Frustrating, but still fun.
The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle is the home of several of New York's best and most expensive restaurants. Per Se, chef Thomas Keller's NY venue, has a prix fixe menu of $250. But his Bouchon Bakery on the floor below is for ordinary mortals. We were lucky to snag this seat with a panoramic Central Park View.
The center is often slammed for being too much like a suburban mall, and it's a valid criticism, I think. Still, today of all days, it was good to be comfortably inside looking out. Here we go, down the escalator, back to the subway, thence to the train and home to shovel.
The $750,000 Reversible Destiny Lofts in Tokyo resemble a psychedelic jumble of kids' blocks.
These "challenging" condos are intended to delay senescence in their elderly residents by forcing them to stay alert and defend themselves from architectural peccadillos.
Most people, in choosing a new home, look for comfort: a serene atmosphere, smooth walls and floors, a logical layout. Nonsense, says Shusaku Arakawa, a Japanese artist based in New York. He and his creative partner, poet Madeline Gins, recently unveiled a small apartment complex in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka that is anything but comfortable and calming. "People, particularly old people, shouldn't relax and sit back to help them decline," he insists. "They should be in an environment that stimulates their senses and invigorates their lives."
With that in mind, Arakawa and Gins designed a building of nine apartments known as Reversible Destiny Lofts. Painted in eye-catching blue, pink, red, yellow and other bright colors, the building resembles the indoor playgrounds that attract toddlers at fast-food restaurants. Inside, each apartment features a dining room with a grainy, surfaced floor that slopes erratically, a sunken kitchen and a study with a concave floor. Electric switches are located in unexpected places on the walls so you have to feel around for the right one. A glass door to the veranda is so small you have to bend to crawl out. You constantly lose balance and gather yourself up, grab onto a column and occasionally trip and fall.
You have no idea how long I've been looking for that book about the Great American Comic Strip. I knew I had it somewhere. I bought it at the MOMA, last time they had a cartoon art exhibit. What led me to it, finally, was this: I had just read Calvin Trilin's charming little book about his wife, "About Alice", which I recommend. It will make you want to be like her, which must be part of the point. It's a very short read, more like a magazine article, really, in fact I realized that I had already read quite a lot of it, most likely in the New Yorker. Anyhow, he starts off by talking about how they met at a party for the very short-lived humor magazine called Monocle, and I remembered that I had this old preview copy somewhere. Lo and behold, when I went to look for it, there was the cartoon book. It was standing on edge so it would fit on the shelf without hanging over (being wider than tall, as you can see) and I had just looked right past it a million times. A bonus find on the same shelf was this New York Times parody issue from the 1978 newspaper strike. I'll enjoy looking that over, too. And I guess maybe it ought to be protected somehow, as compared to being just jammed in between some other books and papers. Don't come to me expecting high standards of curatorial excellence. But hey - it all gets saved. Isn't that what counts?
Here I am at a favorite hangout - Little Saigon, in Montclair. I love that it's open all day. They bring you a pot of perfectly brewed tea the minute you sit down - never any charge for that. I always have a book with me, since you can sit there as long as you like. Who needs a cafe with an option like this?
There are 218 separate items listed on the menu. This is one of my favorites - #35 - Pho Thit Nurong, or BBQ Pork Rice Noodle Soup. It's $5.25. The smaller plate holds all the fresh extras that you add yourself: bean sprouts, jalapeno slices, fresh Thai basil, and lime wedges. There are also assorted condiments on the table: chili paste, hot sauce, fish sauce, and soy.
It's barely half a mile away, so I ought to walk there, right? Unfortunately it's not a very nice walk. I wish it were otherwise. So, because I can, I drive. Perhaps I'll reconsider when the weather warms up.
Speaking of which: what was with all the BIRDS yesterday? They were everywhere!? Are they returning from the south? Do they think it's spring? Do they know that there is a blizzard on its way?
I went to see Babel today. Though I hadn't read much about it, I was prepared to like it, as Z had recommended it, and I'd seen Cate Blanchett talk about it. (Great Blanchett profile in this week's New Yorker, by the way.) I liked it very much. Actually, I loved it.
It would be easy to dismiss it as a cliched statement of the all-too-obvious. Yes, we live in a dangerous world where there are communication problems on all levels. Misunderstandings can escalate and lead to unimaginable catastrophe. But it's a movie - a visual medium - so it shows us how this can happen. It takes us to places where we've never been: a Moroccan village, a raucous Mexican wedding, a girls basketball game in a Tokyo school for the deaf. And the acting is faultless - with an almost unmanageably large cast.
Curiously, the most profound miscommunication seemed to be at the family level - most specifically, between parents and children. Surely there's a message there.
If I had one quibble it would be (SPOILER FOLLOWS)
that you really need to stretch to think that the Jones (Pitt/Blanchett) family could be visited by so much tragedy in such a short time: lose an infant to SIDS, then Mom gets shot on a tour bus, then within days, the family children are lost in the burning California desert. This is starting to look more like the story of Job - not Babel.
Last Saturday H and I bundled up and walked to the annual antique show at the nearby Congregational Church. She attended nursery school here, and is fond of telling the story of how terrified she was when I rode her there on the little rear passenger seat of my bicycle. Having survived that ordeal, here she is discussing the possible purchase of a WPA lithograph.
So anyway, Supermom and I had a most pleasant afternoon. Lunch was delicious (see comment on previous post for details), and afterwards we went back to the MOMA, where there were no further Flay sightings, and then on to some heavy-duty retail browsing. As we progressed, I noticed that Supermom was paying special attention to the high-end bags - in preparation, I am assuming, for today's planned bargain-hunting on Canal St. Anxious to hear how that panned out.
We parted ways at about 5, and I was about to descend into the subway, but then chose, instead, to spend the rush hour with a pot of coffee at Le Pain Quotidien. The main reason I snapped the photo above was to remind myself about old-time tractor seats. I have one of those in the garage; my father-in-law snagged it somewhere - probably at a country auction - and it was always my husband's intent to mount it on something and use it as a little seat for backyard grilling. Well, that never happened. But see how great they look hanging on a wall!
I knew that Supermom (my Wisconsin niece) and Superdad were planning dinner at Mesa Grill. They're both big fans of chef Bobby Flay. She and I were meeting at noon-ish at the MOMA and would have to eat somewhere, so I asked if she'd like to lunch at Bar Americain - another Flay venue, just a short walk away. I got to the MOMA a few minutes ahead of time, and was watching both entrances when I suddenly saw a familiar face.
Supermom? No! Bobby Flay! With his wife! At the museum!
Seconds later, Supermom appeared, and of course I was oh-so-subtle and discreet about making sure she saw him too. No pointing. No wild gesturing. Funny!
It's cold. I read a book. I watched a movie. I played bridge. I ate stuff.
No, of course there's more. I've just been disinclined to blog, and the more you don't blog, the more you don't blog. I see that now. Right now I'm headed into the city to meet Supermom. More later. Good stuff! I promise!