• new york,  ocean

    Fish Loss

    In aquarium keeping, there’s a term for what happened to my fish during the power outage after Hurricane Sandy. They call it fish loss, which is a very technical term for the sad event. My fish have survived previous power outages, but we were out for twelve days through some freezing temperatures, so the temperature of the water in the aquarium fell below where the aquarium temperature meter begins to measure. I had four fish two weeks ago and now I have one. Last night I came home to the return of power and the bodies of my two gouramis, large, bloated, bleached of their beautiful blue pigment.

    It is no one’s fault. In the scheme of things, the loss of my two gourami and tricolor shark is very little. I know people who still have no power, who have sent their kids away to live with relatives until conditions improve. There are people whose entire homes flooded. I heard of someone whose dog drowned during the storm, because the water came in so fast into the home. I know of many people whose houses were covered in raw sewage who still can’t go home, because it’s not sanitary. And there are the entire communities that our power company has removed from their numbers, because the power infrastructure is so damaged that it will take more than a month to repair.

    All the same, these are small creatures whose entire well-being was in my hands and I couldn’t keep them safe. It’s a loss that lays heavy on my heart. It will probably be a while before we add any more fish to the tank, as sad as it is to look at the full containers of fish food that are no longer required, as the remaining fish is an algae eater.

    Life is slowly getting back to normal here. Trash pick-up happened for me today, for the first time since the storm hit. My train line is out for the foreseeable future, but other than the two hour commute, my life is about to be much the same as it ever was. I wish that all of my neighbors and friends could say as much.

  • cooking,  knitting,  new york,  politics


    It’s September 11th, ten years after the event. There’s so much that’s been written about this that I couldn’t dare, even if I wanted to. But I find that I don’t want to – that day was horrible enough to live through the first time. Perhaps it’s cowardly of me, but I can’t stand to watch any of the coverage. I hate being reminded that we live in a world where people exist that spend all their productivity on hurting other people. The September 11th attacks are a demonstration of the worst part of humanity. I don’t want to give people like that any more attention than they already get. And I don’t just mean Al-Qaeda – every country and every group has its murderers in the population. We must understand ourselves and each other as humans first. We are all responsible for and to each other.

    I’m a Washingtonian and a New Yorker. My two homes were attacked. But I want to live a life filled with gratitude and light. It is so easy to drown in the badness in the world. Spending a day reliving the emotions of that day, as I tried to track down the safety of people in both of my cities, is just too much.

    I spent this morning watching kids play soccer at the community center. Kids who don’t remember the attacks, or a world unchanged by them, but are out and joyful and worried about nothing more than keeping the ball out of the goal. I was surrounded by family, knitting in my hands. I was filled with gratitude. The day was crisp and beautiful, like it was ten years ago. We talked about it. Looking back, we all seemed so young. It’s one of those pivotal moments in a culture that people just don’t forget. Major hurricanes, volcanoes, terrorist attacks. You remember where you were.

    We were so young ten years ago. And yet, time has gone on. I decided to celebrate life.

    I ran some errands. One of them was to fix my car, which someone tried to break into during the hurricane. They fortunately did this rather ineptly, so I have a car to fix, but they did knock out my turning indicator, which means I can’t drive it. But this is a minor problem, compared to the “evacuate because a hurricane is coming” problem of two weeks ago. It’s hard to be too upset, although it was done while we were evacuated, which means it was probably someone I see every day. But it’s just stuff. The car is just a thing.

    We ran to get groceries and then I spent the afternoon doing the cooking for the week. (And pie!) While I was chopping vegetables, listening to Norah Jones on Pandora and filled with peace, I looked out the back door into the yard. There, my fourteen year old cat and my thirteen year old cat were pouncing on dried leaves like they were newborn kittens. Even today, when we’re all thinking of death and murder, life goes on, unstoppable and, in some places still, innocent.

    In the darkness, light.

  • amusement,  nature,  new york,  wedding

    The No Good Real Bad Messed Up Day

    I should have known when the day started out with plunging a clogged toilet.  I woke up in the middle of an ice storm that blanketed most of the country; and my country is large.  It was not the foot of snow that we’d been promised on top of the several other feet of snow we’ve had this year, so some small mercies.  But not really, because snow does not make you slip over and over as you walk to the train….the train which is now running on a weekend schedule due to the weather, which translates to once per hour.  During rush hour to Manhattan.  And they had the nerve to charge peak prices.

    So, needless to say, the train was a little congested.  By the time we’d gotten three stops ahead of mine (which is, fortunately for me, only three stops from the end of the line, so I had a seat), there were so many people jammed into the aisle and cubbies of the train that one of the conductors announced to the other conductors that she was stuck into a cubbyhole and could not open the doors to her cars.  She advised that no further stops be made, which would have been just as effective as continuing to stop.  But we did continue to stop, which was good, because another stop down, it was announced that there was a passenger on the train with a medical emergency.

    If you don’t commute by train in a big city, you might react to this news with some sympathy.  The rest of us are made of harder stuff, because inevitably the ambulance and passenger removal will require at least a half an hour of sitting on the track, which also means no trains behind you getting through either.  By being so rude as to have your heart attack/stroke/baby on a rush hour train, you have just made thousands of people late for work.  And they’re mad at you.

    But I wasn’t mad at you, not this morning, because I had a seat.  A seat I’d been sitting in for so long by the time we finally pulled into Penn Station that my legs were cramping and I was thinking of very little else than whether or not the bathrooms in Penn Station were going to be clean.  Commuter trains are not made for two hour long train rides, which is what it was.

    So I went on to the first stop of my day, which was a visit to where our servers are hosted.  On the way up in the elevators, power flickered.  My elevator dropped.  I screamed, but then it stopped, so I told myself to calm down and push the help button.  Eventually I got out, with no broken bones.  Small mercies.  I climbed the other seven flights of stairs to where I was going.

    I had two things to do there, one of which was impossible because of the incompetence of a vendor.  The other thing was to pick up a box that had taken me several days to make our hosting people admit to having.  I said I’d be by at nine to pick it up and they said no problem.  I showed up at 9:40, due to all of the above, and no box and no one who knew where the box was.  Around 10:20, it was finally delivered to one very irritated bird, leaning against a chain fence with her arms crossed and a glare on her face.

    But as I was told, all’s well that ends well.  I went from there, trudging through huge icy puddles and slush, to my office.  At last, I was planning on using the company Starbucks card (whoohoo, dot com perks) to buy myself a cup of coffee, which would just suit me fine and cheer me up.  So, naturally, as I was unfolding the card from its receipt, it went bouncing straight down into the radiator vent.

    Hysterics commenced.  As did the dismantling of the radiator.

    Life improved with coffee.  It always does.  And yet, there’s still the commute home to consider — we’re going tonight to see another possible wedding venue – the Stewart Manor Country Club. Could we possibly dare to get married there, after such a day?

  • art,  music,  nature,  new york

    My new love

    For $40, I bought myself a mandolin and have been having a blast.  It’s basically a violin that’s played like a guitar, so the learning curve has been pretty reasonable considering my years of playing the fiddle.

    And for those that don’t take it seriously, the mandolin is, in fact, awesome.  Just not precisely when I play it.  Yet.

    We have another snow storm coming on, which is our fourth in as many weeks.  It’s a very snowy January, even by New York standards.  I admit that I kind of like the perpetual snow, since it’s not something I’ve ever really experienced before.  It seems to provide a reason for the relentless cold, even though I have now reached the “oooh, it’s a nice and warm 30F day today!” part of winter.  This storm is a little strange in that it’s also raining, so we have a perpetual mix of ice and snow and….lightning.  It’s bizarre, but everyone’s at home and I have my mandolin and my wheel to keep me company.  And a pumpkin pie.

    Let it pellet, let it pellet, let it pellet.

  • nature,  new york,  ocean

    Running Crabs

    Horseshoe crabs, that is.

    We spent the day on a boat puttering around Jones Inlet, which was developed in the 20s to be one of the more famous bits of Long Island shoreline. There’s an ampitheater and miniature golf and all variety of entertainments that make a day at the beach where you’re stuck with your family a little more entertaining.

    It is one of my more favorite places in the world. It is also where they do a huge Memorial Day show with lots of fighter planes. Unfortunately, getting good photography of fighter jets while on a bobbing boat is more or less impossible, as both move at a rather rapid pace. (There was Ginger Ale. Oh yes, there was. Puking was avoided.)

    Still, there is something about being underneath a fighter jet. They move so much faster than the speed of sound that I kept getting confused and looking in the wrong place. We weren’t close enough to really appreciate their acrobatics the way that people on the beach undoubtedly did, but it was still pretty awesome.

    After a while, we ran the boat over to a little island that’s mostly underwater at high tide and jumped off for a little wander. I took my camera, which is when we met these two fellas. The beach was covered in horseshoe crabs (two of which we interrupted in coitus, oops), many of who had landed the wrong side up. As seagulls rather enjoy the delicacy of horseshoe crab gills (perhaps it is the seagull version of goose paté?), we helped a few of them out by returning them to the sea.

  • art,  knitting,  new york

    Hollyhock Fiber Festival

    This weekend I went to the Hallockville Fiber Festival, which is an excuse for knitters and spinners and other fiber nuts to get together and swap stories and goods. It was held at the Hallockville Museum Farm, which is an old farm with dedicated buildings to weaving and spinning. I watched a demonstration on weaving, which I’m afraid I have a terrible interest in, and a demonstration on fiber punching, which is something I don’t. But it was still pretty interesting to watch bits of fiber turn into actual sculpture.

    There’s a whole lot that can be done with the fleece of a sheep.

    There were a gazillion spinning wheels, which was terribly tempting, because I rather badly want to get into spinning. I just can’t pick up another hobby right now, but I think that I will get one this winter, once the kayaks are put away. There’s just something so peaceful about the motion. I imagine I could find it equally as compulsive as I find knitting.

    But the day was gorgeous and being out in the country, while still on the same island I live on, was really quite wonderful. Even if it did mean adding to my yarn collection, which was not even remotely necessary.

  • amusement,  nature,  new york,  ocean

    The Ides of May

    It’s been an amazingly full weekend.  On Friday, I started off right by reorganizing my office at work.  I’ve long felt unproductive in there, because my desk was oriented towards the wall, leaving my back to the office.  In order to see what was going on, I had to sit with my feet propped up on another chair (working for a dot com has perks) and ignore my desk completely.  So I turned one of my tables and voila, I can do both, which will undoubtedly help resolve some backaches I’ve been having.

    On Saturday, I took the train into Manhattan to take a professional test.  Having passed that and acquired some new letters after my professional signature, I went over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  I made it there five minutes before noon, so snuck in through the gates for free, which was nice.  It was a beautiful day and I snapped a lot of photos.  My best one was of a bee landed on an ornamental onion, but now that I’ve looked at it on a computer, I can see some areas for improving.  So I’m thinking about whether or not to go back this weekend and try again with a little more knowledge.

    Sunday I took my new kayak out for her maiden voyage, which was a great deal of fun until the wind picked up.  It was at this point where being on an inflatable boat wasn’t such a great thing.  I paddled myself over to a beach and was resting (and waiting for the wind to die down) when another kayaker decided I needed rescuing.  It was a little silly, since I could have easily deflated my kayak and walked back to the car from where I was (perhaps 300 feet away from where I’d parked), but I hitched a ride back and had some fun kayak conversation.  I have blisters now, because I stupidly forgot my gloves,  but the freedom of moving around on the water was just amazing.  I think I’m addicted, which is unfortunate, because I’m meant to be training for a bike ride, not a paddling event.

    They do have kayak races in my neighborhood, though…so it might be worth thinking about for next year.  With a hard shell kayak!

  • amusement,  new york

    The 5 Boro Bike Tour

    This weekend, the same day that someone tried to blow up a car in Times Square, I dragged my bike into Manhattan in order to particulate in the Boro Bike tour, which is a 42 mile bike ride though the five boros of New York City.  The ride starts in lower Manhattan, below Wall Street, then goes up 6th Avenue and over the Third Street Bridge into the Bronx.  From there, it’s back into Manhattan to race down to the 59th St/Queensboro bridge to hop over into Queens.  The tour goes through the incredibly Greek Astoria, then it’s onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a truly terrifying highway, into Brooklyn where the bikes hit the streets until they reach the Belt Parkway, which provides a salty breeze and views of the big cargo ships leaving New York harbor and heading out to sea.  Then it’s just a few neighborhood blocks until the riders go up the steep onramp to the Verrazano Bridge, where the tour crosses over into northern Staten Island.  After a stop in which the riders are forced though a ridiculous festival clearly designed by marketing staff, the riders are allowed out, where they bike a couple more miles along the coast to the Staten Island ferry, which shuttles ’em back to Manhattan, at nearly the point where they started out.

    It was awesome.  I wish I hadn’t been too exhausted from actually biking 42 miles to take pictures.  Riding through the neighborhoods of New York was like walking through the memories of my six years here.  And,  being me, I naturally had to careen through the 42 miles at a speed that was far too fast to maintain, so I ran out of steam around mile 30, but forced myself though the last 12 miles anyway.  By mile 42, I never wanted to see a bike again and somehow managed to fall asleep on the Staten Island ferry while holding my bike upright.  Today I’m looking at joining a cycling club.

    Still, my favorite New York moment on the ride came when someone cut me off and clipped my front wheel.  I managed not to go head over handlebars, but I did slide off my pedals onto the ground, so I stopped in the middle of a crowd of bikes.  Somewhere behind me, someone shouted out, “Hey!  You’re supposed to stop on the *side* of the road!”

    Boy, do I love this town.