I’m still a new-comer to Long Island, having lived here for only five and a half years now. And for three of those years, I was in my room writing a book about living some place else (the book was, of course, When Wanderers Cease to Roam). So really, I’ve only lived here for about three years.

So one day I was driving home from a thrift shop and I spied this shop (above).

It’s a bakery outlet.

Let me repeat that: it’s a Bakery Outlet.

Well, this I had to see.  So I veered off the road and pulled into this shabby parking  lot, and entered a linoleum-floored heaven.

Entenmann’s is a local commercial bakery that supplies boxed cakes and cookies to grocery stores and delis in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Maybe elsewhere for all I know: all I know is that they”ve been baking their stuff here on Long Island for about 100 years.

And this is their outlet, where you can get bakery seconds for less than half price. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Jeeze…What kind of skeeve would eat second-rate bakery goods?”

The answer is: Moi. Just so you know, this is what a bakery second looks like:

Maybe you can’t see why this box of delicious Super Cinnamons didn’t pass quality control, so here’s a second look:

See how the blobs of sickeningly sweet icing didn’t get plopped on exactly in the center of these buns? That’s what makes this box of $5.99 Super Cinnamons sell for $2.00 at the bakery outlet.

So forget all the stereotypes about Long Island. This place is awesome!

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These are Four Views of My Desk. It’s where I work and all. And I will be avoiding it for a while.Because I am waiting a Verdict.

I sent my Damn France Book proposal and sample chapters to my agent on Tuesday and heard from her that she got it the next day.

And until she calls and says she loooooves it, everybody in my house is under strict orders to not get on my nerves.

Until then, Top Cat is keeping me sedated with grilled cheese sandwiches and VH1’s I Love the 80s on endless loop.

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There was a MONSTER snow storm heading for Long Island on Tuesday night.  So I put a bottle of champagne out in the backyard. For the obvious reasons:

(Wednesday morning): …because there is nothing like Eastern Seaboard Blizzard-chilled champagne on a SNOW DAY.

It snowed all day Wednesday and, judging by my Champagne-O-Meter, we got about a foot of snow.

I made scones for my 4 o’clock tea. “Scones”, as you may know, is an old Scottish word for “Edible Brick of Flour and Butter”.  And yes, that’s quince jelly.  I take an hour every day to watch Judge Judy, and I like to get cozy when I watch Judge Judy let rip.   But all that comfort food went for naught: Channel 2, the Judge Judy channel, had a ONE HOUR Live coverage Special Program  about the blizzard.  Good thing I had that champagne as back-up.

 

Here’s my little Valentine to you all — I hope you all enjoy a packet of hearts and flowers, a nice cup of tea, and a romantic Winter sun set.

And I hope you all have a bottle of champagne hidden in the snow drifts for this weekend.

********

You might want to read my article about How I Got Published    here today (click on this link):

http://howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com/

And when I say “You might want to read…” what I mean is: “I FORBID you to read that article.”

It’s called reverse psychology.

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Is us, cats what live in yellow house.

Our  servant  enabler  nice lady dat we lives here wid is taking a day off. People-talk iz not our native langwhich.  Special when  servant  enabler  nice lady talk loud. What means:

AHHHHHHHHH!  I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU GODDAM CATS!!!!

Iz not our fault dat lady leaf watercolor painting to dry on desk where we like to throw up on.

Iz not our fault dat lady haf dining room where we like to pee.

Iz not our fault dat leather couch feels so good to sharpen clause on.

Anyhoo. Lady takes day off of us.

If you no where we live, Pleeze come. Our food bowl is half empty. We will sit and stare at bowl till is full.

You do not deserve thanks for rescue us. We are catz.

P.S. Lady say reed here tomorrow for speshul Saturday post. Wait, must rake clause over cashmere sweater. Lady yelling again — what means GLUE FACTORY?

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…my life would be totally different.

That’s my  Deep Thought  for February.

Because if I drank beer ( a beverage I still can’t stand the taste of) when I went to Ireland, I would have spent more time in pubs getting drunk and flirting with black-haired blue-eyed Irishmen,  and less time doing this:

(Note: clever use of tea cup instead of Triscuit.)

For those of you reading along, we are in the Febraury chapter, page 31, of When Wanderers Cease to Roam. If you have my book, this is Back Story Stuff  but if you don’t have my book, well, then, this is Story Stuff.

I wasn’t always an immensely talented watercolor artist. Once upon a time I  was a dedicated embroiderer. So, when I was in a panic about turning 30 [in 1986] and I bought a one-way ticket to the most outlandish place I could think of — Ireland — (I was a big U2 fan) of course I packed about 100 skeins of beautiful French embroidery floss.

In Galway I bought some muslin, a light-weight muslin that gave me problems, but which I stubbornly refused to stop sewing on.

And that’s what I did on my down time  in Ireland: I sewed. I sewed on park benches, I sewed (one memorable rainy Bank Holiday in Roscommon) in the waiting room of a bus shelter for eight hours; I sewed in the evenings in the common rooms of youth hostels. The above Celtic sampler is what I sewed. It took me six weeks. I made it up as I went along — that’s why it’s such a jumble. Also, I did say that I was a mite depressed during this time; maybe that also shows in the wayward looks of it.

That bird (above) in the lower right corner is the bird that is was the Irish pence coin at the time; the harp of course is a national symbol; the creatures hovering above the letters “e ” and “f” are, I believe, from the Book of Kells, and the various knots are various knots.

That piece of embroidery shows up in my book on page 31:

You will never believe how I got that stitch work onto the page:

I took my embroidery to Staples and I laid it down on a color copier. Then I cut up the color copy and taped bits of it along the edge of my journal page. That ratty taped-up color copy is what I turned in to Bloomsbury when I gave them my manuscript; Bloomsbury is such a high-quality printer that what they give you in the book is their scan of my color copy of my embroidery and you can still see the stitches!  (It’s all chain stitch, by the way.)

Trade secrets, my dears, trade secrets.

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Don’t Cry For Me  Por Favor-hor: These are my working conditions. (Sob.) I have to paint around big fat furry kitty butts.

But I digress. The thing I wanted to discuss today was something that nobody ever told me about getting older. Which is, the older you get, the more things make you cry. What is up with that?

I think I went through the first 20 years of adulthood (age 19 to 39) without crying more than three times. TOTAL. (Because of cats: the older I get, the more it sucks that we have to outlive our pet kitties. If we are lucky.)

But then I turned 40, and little things started to make me cry. TV COMMERCIALS started to make me cry. And now, I’m lucky if I can make it through a week without puddling up.

I did a talk on Tuesday night (it went well — whew) and I had to drop part of it because I didn’t think I could do it without crying: I have a thing about hugging trees. I love to hug trees. And there’s a special tree here on Long Island that is extremely worthy of hugging, a hundred-year old American Elm tree (you know how 100 million elm trees died in the 1950s due to Dutch Elm disease? Well, there’s one elm tree here on Long Island that has so far escaped the disease and it’s the first elm tree that I  have ever hugged and lo, there is nothing like putting your arms around a lone elm tree…). Yes, I talked about the elm tree on Long Island, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about THIS elm tree http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/01/08/us/AP-US-The-Old-Man-and-the-Tree.html 

because it was only going to make me cry.

And then my friend Melinda sent me a YouTube video that made me cry and it ISN’T EVEN ABOUT CATS:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds8ryWd5aFw

The other wierd thing about getting older is that I laugh more: I’ve been watching TV sitcoms for…what? 40 years? 50 years? (Ouch.) And I have NEVER laughed out loud while watching them, even when Barney Fife was being his most braggadocious, or when My Favorite Martian got himself in a right pickle, or when Davy Jones got the punch line to any one of the Monkees’ jokes.

Except now. Now I can’t get through an episode of Community (NBC, Thursday nights at 8) , or The Big Bang Theory (CBS, Monday nights at 9:30) , or Flight of the Conchords (HBO Whenever) without laughing. OUTLOUD.

Am I getting stupid?

Or am I just getting old? Old enough to realize, in a way that I never could when I was young, that happiness is so very accidental, so much a happenstance of chance and fleeting moments and hard work, that I can only cry (or laugh) at the bravery of those who  make joy out of this sad and angry and doomed old world? (Bad news this week from Haiti, from the Massachusettes special election, from the Supreme Court ruling about corporate funding for elections: I just want to cry.) Those people who dance in their winter coats, who love a tree for 50 years, who hit those high notes, who make us laugh — I think they are more death-defying than prayer or “art” or stone monuments. I think they are love, and kindness — and that gets me.

Oh jeeze. Am I getting nice in my old age?     That’s sooo not like me.

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January dawn light, through frost-covered windows, shines onto my bedroom curtains,

and makes me remember this light on a dusky winter walk a few days before, in upstate New York:

When the sun unexpectedly shone for a bright moment on a snowy day in upstate New York, I ran to this window:

 

That same sun beam was lighting up this corner of the library.  (What do you read on a day like this? That bookcase contains nothing but murder mysteries — I recommend something English, written before 1950.)

Back to that icy sparkling window: in the upper left hand corner is a peek at the backyard:

 

This is what the backyard looks like:

In the front yard, there is a gazebo where you can sit and look at loons and beavers on the pond.

And when it snows the very next day, this is what the snow around the gazebo looks like at night:

 

 

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This is the house on the corner of MacDougall Street and Bingham Avenue, about six blocks from my house on Long Island. I would be happy to live across the street from this house just so I could look out my livingroom window and see this Wonder Wall every day.

You know what also makes me happy? Knowing that I have the BEST readers out there: it makes me happy to read all your Comments, especially because you have moose walking up to your front porch ,  and have entertained at the USO, and had a childhood in Africa, and you have the Rocky Mountains in your backyard, and you live in England .

(Remind me again: Why am I writing about me when I’m clearly about the least interesting person reading this blog??)

It’s been a GREAT 2009 (for me) because of youse.

Thank You, everyone who Comments. And Thank You everyone who reads and don’t remind me that I am the least interesting person etc.

I am always trying to make my blog better and for 2010 I have a few ideas that I’ll be throwing up for discussion. But that’s for future posts (suggestions are welcomed)– for today I am leaving you with this picture of the front of my house the morning after the Great Blizzard of ’09 because it makes me happy that Top Cat painted the whole shebang this Summer to make one of my life’s dearest wishes come true: I now live in my own yellow house.

With coral-tone shutters and lime green doors (the house has two front doors: this is the old one , which came with the original front porch 100 years ago) because I’ve also always wanted to live in a house that has New Orleans colors.

P.S. I live on a street with a lot of 100-year old houses. Those lime-green doors didn’t go over all that well with the neighbors.

Sazeracs for everyone!

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Some things just go together.

Milk and cookies, pretzels and mustard, cream cheese and celery, Lennon and McCartney, butter and biscuits, etc.

Yes, some things just go together: gin and tonic, Currier and Ives, shoes and socks, Sodom and Gomorrah, baseball and apple pie, marshmallows and camp fires, Hershey and kisses, end-of-the-year holidays and unresolved personal issues.

And, then, there’s Cute and My Cat, Butter :

That’s Butter. Chasing imaginary birdies in the snow.

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you Monday.

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