Pouring in NYC this afternoon, so I ducked into one of those specialty coffee places. I waited behind two other wet people ordering from a barista so sprightly I could only assume he’d been hitting the product. When it was my turn I asked for a cup of tea. He pirouetted, grabbed a teabag, pulled the hot water, and said, “I can tell you how tea started. I mean, if you have time.”
“It’s raining, go ahead.”
“Well, a couple of thousand years ago the emperor of China used to drink hot water three times a day and then one day he was sitting in the garden and a leaf fell into his water and when his servants tried to take it away and give him another he said no because it was fate so he’d drink it and see what happened so they all watched and they were scared but afterwards he felt so great he wanted more of those leaves in his water the next day. And that’s how tea started.”
He grinned, gave me my tea, looked past me at the wet young man behind me and said, “What can I get you?”
I love New York.
Actually, Bookcamp is outside West Bend, WI. That sort of qualifies as the middle of nowhere but that’s why I love it. That, and the hard work of the students and the wonderfulness of the other faculty — Lisa Lickel, Phil Martin, and Dave Rank. I spent my time teaching; meeting one-on-one with students; listening to talks by guest faculty; walking in the woods; and sitting in my little room at the Cedar Valley Retreat, the 100-acre UCC facility Bookcamp rents for the week. And eating: the cuisine is Midwestern Hearty.
Below, some photos from the week. If all this sounds and looks good to you, Bookcamp 2018 will be May 20-26. You need not be Wisconsin-related, nor even able to spell Wisconsin, to come. Put yourself on my mailing list (scroll to the bottom) and you’ll get the details for next year when they’re out.
And just in case you can’t wait until next year for a workshop, I’ll be at Art Workshop International in Assisi, this August, and at the Himlayan Writers Workshop in Kathmandu, yes Kathmandu, in September. If you’re so moved, come to all three!
And now, Wisconsin.
View from my window
View down the road
Lawn at the edge of the woods
Robin who aimed for me (but he missed)
My mom, about twenty years ago at a family reunion. Miss you, Ma. (Don’t call me Ma!)
Flatbush, Brooklyn, yesterday. No, I have no idea.
Finally, spring is here in NYC. We had two warm spells last month which fooled the trees and flowers, followed in one case by a temperature deep-dip and in the other by pounding cold rains. So the crocuses were barely seen this year and the earliest daffodils got flattened. The later daffodils have come out now to represent, though, and the tulips are up, though not blooming yet. One of the azaleas in the park can’t hold back anymore, either.
Down by the river it’s been foggy the last two days, yesterday a thick blanketing fog but this morning a fog thick low down and above but with a thinned-out strip in the middle. This leads to that odd sight where the bottoms, not the tops, of buildings are lost.
The Brant geese are still here, but they’re collecting in larger and larger groups so I think they’ll be heading back to the Arctic soon. The buffleheads seem to be already gone. Mallards, Canada geese (named, by the way, for a guy named Canada, not for the country) and Gadwalls are all here, eating like crazy and looking for places to nest. I saw an egret high overhead and this morning six blue herons heading north together. Robins, bluejays, cardinals, various sparrows, and mourning doves are haunting the yards behind me. Just now a clutch of sparrows, a species that gets their business done early, fledged, exploding out of the nest. One landed on my windowsill and as fledglings will, looked stunned at his own audacity and waited for instructions. Unlike this fledgling,
who was sitting about ten feet from the path at the Botanical Garden two weeks ago, also waiting for instructions from his circling parents, the sparrow on my windowsill actually has predators: Bella the Cat was pawing at the glass with excitement. Good thing for the sparrow population that glass doesn’t vaporize at a cat’s desire to spring.
Went out twice today, to keep appointments. After the first time, came home and wrote; after the second, toddled back to take a nap. But the sun’s out for the first time since Sunday and I feel better, though my cough sounds worse. Skipping basketball tonight but tomorrow I think I’ll launch myself back into action. Writing in the morning, a light gym workout (and some time in the steam room, for therapeutic purposes, of course), then a class I’m teaching, then one I’m taking.
Meanwhile, finished my taxes! Wrote, read, sorted through books to keep or gently move on, and as I started this post I realized this may be the first time since I began blogging that I’ve done four posts in four days. Will try to keep the surprising lessons of this staycation in mind, because think how even much more satisfying it will be if I can do it feeling well!
Since you were all so generous on the subject of my photos (thank you!) I’m going to close today with one of my personal favorites, of the west wall of the NYPL, Bryant Park, reflecting a September sunset.
My chest cold’s beginning to migrate to my nose, which is a good sign although it involves rather more sneezing than I’d prefer. I’d intended to end this withdrawal from the outside world this evening, with my 6:30 class, but three of my five students aren’t well either, so we postponed to next week. Tomorrow I have an appointment at 9:00 and one at 1:00, but I doubt if I’ll make it to 6:30 basketball, seeing as how I went out today to the store a few blocks away and came back coughing. Sigh.
And what did I do today? I wrote my way out of one scene and into another. I almost finished my taxes, cleaned out another couple of inches of files, did a whole bunch of handwash (I wash most of my black clothes by hand, so they’ll stay black, and anyone who’s seen me can guess how many shirts, pants, and leggings were hanging around). I did nap, yes indeed. And did some reading.
I’m getting a touch of cabin fever, and there’s no NCAA basketball tonight. I’m ready to step outside (and it’ll be sunny tomorrow!) although I’m also prepared to come back home and collapse after a few hours. Being finally back in action will be great, but this staycation thing hasn’t been all bad by any means. I have to make sure to remember this. A day, or two days, of this, every now and then — this is good stuff! It even gives you time to sort through some photos.
I have a cold. My colds go chest to throat to nose, and this one is still in the chest stage. Coughing, wheezing. Went to a dance concert last night, played basketball this morning — I’m of the firm opinion that sweating it out is the best thing, though I didn’t have a lot of oomph and played rather badly — and came home exhausted. But the good part is this: checking my book last night to see whether I could cancel anything I had coming up for the next day or so I saw that I have nothing! From now until Tuesday night, when I teach, my schedule is blank. This never happens, and it especially never happens when I’m sick.
So I finished playing basketball, did a little shopping on the way home, took a hot bath, and will be burrowed in here for the next three days. Today I’m not even going to write. I’m going to clean out some files, finish my taxes (I warn you, say nothing), nap, and make chicken soup. And catch up on some reading, and watch the women’s NCAA Final Four while I eat the chicken soup. I’ll write tomorrow and Tuesday, but nothing more ambitious because more files and more napping. Tuesday evening I’ll emerge, all better (or, with a cold in the nose, which is more likely) but somewhat, I hope, de-stressed.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
My staycation partner:
Windy, heavy snow and sleet when I was out this morning, but blizzard? Nah. Still, almost no one down by the river but me. One other photographer, two joggers, and one dogwalker: the big tattooed guy with the four little dachsunds. This is their foot/paw prints in the snow.
And this is the dogwalker with the dogs and the jogger. These are all 8:00 a.m. photos, by the way.
Water taxi dock.
Pier 46 pilaster.
Blue light with snow hat.
It was glorious! You’ve read by now that it was three times the size the organizers had hoped, and that the sister marches were also gigantic, everywhere. (Apparently there were six marches in Alaska!) The energy was electric, joyous, and kind. (At one point I was chanting, “Show me what democracy looks like!” until I started to cough. I muttered, “Show me what a cough drop looks like,” and the total stranger behind me grinned, reached into her pocket, and gave me one.) Also, the energy was funny. The one percent is on their side, but the laughter is on ours. We’ll harness this energy and keep up this fight. My favorite chant: “Welcome to your first day! We will never go away!”
(Photos below by me, Jackie Freimor, and Lorena Vivas.)
Me, my marching buddies, and our pussy hats.
The escalator down into the Metro — AFTER we waited in a half hour line to get to it!
What genius ordered these?
My favorite sign.
Below, more great signs and shirts:
LOVE this one:
And finally, the call to arms: