It began in the middle of Saturday morning. A heavy, cold, fat rain pelting down with bits of snow-slush stuff that began to accumulate on the ground. That’s what the freak Northeastern snow storm of October 29 looked like here on the north shore of Long Island.
It was an ignoble end to my brave and courageous cosmos.
I had a late morning dentist appointment in Sea Cliff (for those who are keeping score, this was two Saturdays in a row) and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go visit the Sea Cliff Library.
The library is smack in the middle of town, in the old Methodist Presbyterian church. I really should have made better notes: I tend to not take notice of Protestant sects, but I’m sure that to a Methodist and a Presbyterian, it’s a big, big difference. To all Methodists and Presbyterians: does this church/library look like one of yours?
I’ve walked past the Sea Cliff library for years and only recently (due to all my dental work of late) noticed that what I thought was an old church was, in fact, a working library. So when I stepped inside for the first time this Saturday, I let out a little “Ooooo” of appreciation upon seeing the churchie details still intact.
I pulled out my camera and started to take photos; the librarian said one word to me: “Architect?”
I replied with one word, in a half correcting/half apologetic tone: “Illustrator.”
That’s a little writing table there, placed for use in a snug cubbie in the fiction stacks. Which reminds me that one of the senior managers at my job recently asked me to clear something up for her: “Are all novels fiction?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “But aren’t there true-life novels?” she asked. “No,” I said: “That’s narrative non-fiction.” She persisted: “But not all short stories are fiction, right?” she asked. That’s the kind of question you can’t answer yes or no: because of the way it’s phrased. She went on, “Because aren’t some true books written as short stories?” “No,” I said. “If a non-fiction book is written in short chapters or in a series of essays, that’s an episodic devise of the narrative.” “Oh,” she said. “OK.” She didn’t sound convinced. I told her to check the stacks next time she goes to the library: short stories are shelved with the fiction.
And then it occured to me: Why isn’t poetry shelved with the fiction books? Calling all Librarians: can you answer that?
That hole in the ceiling is from the lengthy investigation going on in the 100-year old Sea Cliff Library to find out where the rook leaks. I live in a 100-year old house. Roofs in old buildings are tricky. They’ve been looking for the source of the leak for about three months. I know government work when I see it.
I read a few publishing biz blogs — my own agent, Betsy Lerner, has one of the most popular and brilliant blogs out there. And without fail, all the agents who blog have complained that they receive dozens of queries from would-be authors who want this agent to take a look at their “fictional novel”. I had always thought they were joking — I mean, really. A “fictional novel”??? But apparently, there is some confusion out there in the USofA about what IS and what IS NOT a novel.
I love the way snow-rainy streets reflect light. I hate that I can’t paint it (yet).
And this whole “fictional novel” thing made me think about how people on the outside of a particular industry (publishing, plumbing, physics) often use the terminology of that particular industry in totally naive/show-offy and inappropriate ways.
I happen to be a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America. I can grade diamonds and colored stones, and can authenticate jewels, gold, and objets of virtu. I did just that for a few years as the Faberge Expert for Christie’s auction house in New York. Yadda yadda yadda.
When I was deep in the jewelry biz, I used to have to deal with rookies, customers who had a tiny smidgen of information about gems which they mistook for knowledge. I’m sure that to their own ears they sounded as if they’d cracked the code when they asekd to see a “blue-white diamond”, or they demanded to have a “pink sapphire” for their engagement ring, or, when they bragged that their necklace was “32 carat gold”. But as a person with a certain expertise [me], it was hard to keep a straight face when I heard that kind of talk.
“Cognac” and “Black” diamonds are pretty funny too, by the way, to a gemologist. That is, a gemologist not trying to pawn off crap throw-away rocks as “the latest style”.
“Canary” diamonds are OK, though.
The snow was having a steamy effect on the Long Island Sound. I was actually driving home when I saw this, and pulled the car over so I could roll down the passenger window and snap a photo. In that short time, a Sea Cliff cop had pulled up beside me to see if I had car trouble. I was annoyed at first (because I’m very cranky), and then I realized that this was a very sweet thing to do. It was MESSY out there: roads were flooded and slick, and this nice cop was checking up on the crazy old bag in the Camry Hybrid with the hazard lights on in the middle of the main sea-side boulevard.
Thank you, Sea Cliff Police Dept. I drove half a block and pulled into the beach parking lot so I could jump on top of a picnic table IN THE FREEZING FREAKING RAIN/SNOW to take this photo:
I call it: Mist on the Long Island Sound with Huddled Sea Gulls. Each and every sea gull — called Herring Gulls in America, but “Silvered Gulls” in France — is a Braveheart. There is not smarter or gutsier bird than the brave Herring Gull.
And then I peeled out of that parking lot are tore home because I had to give my blog readers what they want from the Blizzard of October:
This is 1:15 in the afternoon. That’s Oscar in the backround, in the igloo.
We opened the “rabbit hole” in the side of the house so by the next hour all the outdoor cats had made it into the warm basement for the duration of the Blizzard of October.
2:15. Funny how you forget what icy-cold snow feels like after three months of Summer.
3:15. I’d had enough of the snow – having traipsed around Sea Cliff (I did not mention that the snow and rain mix is freezing and uncomfortable and totally drenching every second that you are out in it) I really did not want to haul myself out into the backyard to photograph this damn bottle of $7.99 champagne.
4:15. It was getting dark, so you can’t really make out the leaf that has blown against the bottle at his point (and the damn flash wouldn’t work on the camera). Nice comment on the FALL snow, eh? I had a brunch to go to the next day and by dashing out in this slop to take these photos I knew that my hair was a total loss from getting dumped on by these outings and I’d have to torture myself with a wash and a blow dry before the night was through.
5:15. I finally go the flash to work!
But it was actually quite dark, and I was thirsty, so that was the end of the First Champagne-O-Meter of the Winter of 2011-2012.
And one more thing: Marquise-cut diamonds are another peeve of mine, an offense to everything I know and love about diamonds.
What is it about people from outside your area of expertise that peeves you?