No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Once more around the block

Today is the New York Marathon.  If you knew me, you would know that for all sorts of reasons, I will never, ever, run a marathon.  But MeMe Rose has.  In New York.  And MeMe Rose loves New York even more than I do, if that's possible.  Now, she's not running the marathon this year, but promises to again.  So, I thought that before I leave New York, I would go once more around the block for MeMe Rose and show you some of the window shopping I did on my way home from work the other day.

First, the window of Saks.  I have written before about the ogling I do as I pass on the bus every day.  Here's what they have in their windows right now. (Apologies again for the eye phone photos).

I have a major case of the covets with this lot.  In another life I will own a coat as fabulous as the one in picture three.  It's got a 70s vintage vibe crossed with a luxe overlay.  And I really want that jumper in picture 4 (but really I want to look all willowy in it).

But what I hadn't realised, what I couldn't see from the bus because it doesn't go past the front of the store, is that they are having a Pucci extravaganza.


And if anyone is stuck for a Christmas present idea for that special someone who has everything, how about this?

A stuffed set of sports car, speedboat and helicopter.  No?

Anyway, back to a more manageable fantasy and moving sluggishly on, I went to Anthropologie....

... where they have yarn bombed a garden bench and set up a whole forest of weaving...

Once again it was the home section that really caught my eye.  I just love this lamp...

And though I'm not sure this is the way I'll arrange my chairs in my new house, it still looks pretty fab here...

If you're stuck for a way to show off an old shirt, I reckon you could do worse...

And I would so love this caulifower-lidded jar if it weren't so eye-wateringly expensive...

But what I'd like most of all is pretty much everything on this table (including the overhead lampshade).  Just lovely.

So, MeMe Rose, I hope you'll forgive the lack of marathon running.  I was otherwise engaged.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Winter wonderland

Hello everybody,

After my last very wordy post, I thought you'd like a short post with photos to start your weekend.  (Apologies in advance for the quality - they were taken in fading light with my eye phone).

I really wanted to take part in Silverpebble and Thrifty Household's Making Winter bloghop but thought I had nothing to offer.  The trees are indeed on the turn here too, but living in the city, we are but poor relations to the Fall splendour that is New England. (Check out these amazing images here.  But then I was walking home the other night and saw this and thought you might like a peek at what the colder weather brings to Manhattan.

All over the island around this time of year, the ice rinks open for business.  There's the Central Park rink and the rink in Bryant Park.  But the one I pass every day on the way to work is this one at the Rockefeller Center.

And just at the point when the leaves start to fall and the trees begin to look shorn, you see men in bucket trucks stringing up fairy lights everywhere.

And it never fails to make me smile and glad that it's winter again in the city.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review: Untold Story by Monica Ali

(A wordy post today, so bear with me.  And there's a question at the end if you make it that far...)
When I decided to do the book diet, I was actually in the middle of reading a book from the library.  (Don't ask me why, when I could start my own, that I decided to go to the library for yet more books.  None of this makes any sense to me either.)

Anyway, I was reading Untold Story by Monica Ali.  I had a vague suspicion from the jacket cover that this might not exactly be life changing stuff...

 Untold Story

But, as the inside fly leaf reminded me, Monica Ali has been named by Granta as one of the twenty best British novelists.  She was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, and for the National Book Critics Circle Award... the list goes on and on.

So I thought to myself, how bad can it be?  It might actually be one of those books that is a bit of a page turner but is well written.  And I don't know about you, but I go through phases where I don't read for awhile - life, work etc eats into the day and I find I've fallen out of the habit.  So this book seemed perfect to get me back into page turning mode.

How wrong I was.

I have just been commenting to Meme Rose that I think of Blogland as a place where, if you can't say something nice, better to maintain an enigmatic silence.  So I considered not writing this review at all, and pretending I hadn't fallen for the Hello magazine in disguise that is this book.  But, what the hell.  You need to know that I'm actually reading if I'm going to stick to this book diet so here goes.

First, the story line:  Princess Diana did not in fact die in a tunnell in Paris but staged her own death and disappeared to live a normal life in mid-town America.  There, she has built a life, made friends, bought a house, has a nice man who adores her, and got herself a dog.  (Please bear in mind I was putting much on Monica Ali's literary talents by thinking she could pull this off.)

Anyway, as if the plot line weren't lame enough, the whole thing read like the publishers had snatched it from the writer's desk in the night long before she was ready to send it out into the world.  I write.  (Not comparing myself to one of the twenty best British novelists here, just saying that I know how crap early drafts are...).  I know that every draft starts off being bad.  The kind of bad that gives you nightmares that you're back in school and someone has got hold of your first draft and is reading it out loud and everyone's laughing kind of bad.  But that's okay, because you haven't a clue who your characters are or how they sound or what they have for breakfast or anything about them when you first start to write about them.  You have no voice for them and that's okay.  For me, writing is the process of finding that voice.

I suspect that Monica Ali still hadn't quite worked out Diana's voice by the time the publishers broke into her house and snaffled it away.  And once they got hold of it, they clearly didn't read it before sending it to press or they would have edited it out of its current state into something worth reading.

It's formulaic - Diana's three closest friends are blonde, brunette and ginger haired, but otherwise seem pretty interchangeable.  The plot is clunky - e.g. there's a false alarm break in early on that you just know is setting up the real thing later.  The ending is all a bit rushed and pat.  But the thing that bothers me most is Diana.  She's largely absent from the conversations that take place with her in the room.  And that silence isn't explained so she comes across as just a dummy in the corner. Sure, there's been lots of research and references to the life that drove her to take the drastic step or disappearing, but I didn't get any sense of an (imaginary) 'real' Diana.

All in all, this was a bit like eating too much ckae with extra sweet butter icing on the top.  You take a sliver and it hurts your teeth and you really know you should throw it out, but after awhile, it's sat there so you take another to remind yourself how bad the first slice was, and before you know it the whole cake is gone and you feel sick that you've eaten it all.

Now for the question.  I am trying to devise a grading system for my book reviews.  I have the highest - 'rush out and buy' and the lowest - 'run away screaming', but I am struggling with the middle.  A good read?  Wait 'til you find it in the library?  A good book for a rainy day?  A rattling good yarn?  What do you think?

And because you've made it this far, I thought you'd like an Etsy treat.

From Moxie Doll
I am now reading The Women's Room, which is a suitably cleansing and worthy antidote to all that cake.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Push and pull

I'm having a real battle with myself at the moment.  Part of me is in England, mentally decorating my house and wanting to supervise the builders and rush around putting everything in order.  But another part is here, wanting to make the most of our last days in New York.  And the part that's here also knows that there's work to be done, packing up the house and finishing everything off at work, while really what I want to be doing is gadding about the place.

On Saturday, helped by the apocalyptic weather, it was all about staying in and sorting things out and putting things in black bags for the bin men and generally getting to the bottom of what we want to take.  But Sunday was definitely a gadding about day.

I wanted to go to the Highline.  The Highline is a garden created using a disused elevated railway that for years was a decaying blot on the landscape.  Apparently, it would have cost more to dismantle and dispose of than to regenerate it, so someone came up with the idea of creating a park along the railway line.  And it's just lovely.

Image from here

We'd been before awhile back but I wanted to go again for the views of the river and the Avenue below.

And to go past one of my favourite buildings in New York: the Standard Hotel.

I'm really not sure why I like it so much.  But something about its structure reminds me of a book.  You get a better sense of it here:

I know.  Not at all pretty, but I like it.

We had brunch first in the diner style restaurant on the ground floor.

All rather lovely.  And the kissing dogs salt and pepper pots offered just the right amount of cheesiness....

Fortified with decadent doughnuts...

... we set off towards the Highline.  And it was CLOSED.  Bummer.  No reason given, but it might have been down to Saturday's bad weather.

So we cut our losses and went to Chelsea Market.

And all the while at home, there was a loin of pork cooking away.  Mr. P's latest obsession is Lorraine Pasquale.  So in an effort to use up a joint that has been in our freezer for ages, for dinner we tried her slow roast pork recipe.  And yes, it was amazing...

AND (cue drum roll) I am sewing in the ends of my wavery ripple scarf.  Hurray.  Full reveal when it's all sewn in and blocked.  (Don't hold your breath - way too much going on at the moment.)  Here's a sneak peak.

Back at work today.  That should put a halt to my gallop.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Molly dancers

Hello everybody,

Thanks so much for all your lovely words of encouragement.  We've been sooooo busy for the last couple of weeks, choosing everything from paints and tiles to curtain fabric for every room in our house by the sea.  Quite fun if you have six months to do it in but a bit stressful when you only have 10 days.  But it's all coming together pretty well.  I have so much to tell you and now that we're back in New York to pack up, I'm not sure how much time I'll have for dilly dallying in Blogland, so this might all be a bit random, but I wanted you to at least get a flavour of what's going on at the moment.

We had glorious weather for our two weeks at home.  We've been absolutely blessed with this project - the builders haven't had a single day's disruption with the weather.  And the early Autumn sunshine delivered some pretty eccentric behaviour all around....

As if to welcome us, when we arrived by the sea, the molly dancers were out.  I had no idea until the other day that there was such a thing and it made me delighted to be in England again.

Maybe just a little bit bonkers.  But I love it.

Back now and in the last 24 hours, we have had snow AT THE SAME TIME as a thunder storm (never knew that was possible...)

But now, it is a bright sunshiny day.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend and enjoying the extra hour in bed.

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