Tuesday, January 1, 2008

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Over here, it is still January 1, so allow me once again to wish a very happy new year to all who will read these words.

After the sometimes frenzied days of late December, it was a great pleasure to awake to a grey beginning to the New Year, and to know that when the alarm clock beeped, it would not be necessary to jump up and adhere to a schedule.


I was able to awake prior to that electronic beep because I did not stay up late enough to see the final minutes of 2007 drift over the horizon. My new year's eve strange dreams were broken, of course by the sounds of party folks singing and yelling their way home down the sidewalks outside my window. I also think that I hear the fireworks that are sent up over Central Park.

As a measure of how civilization passes by with each year, a sound that I used to hear at midnight was silent last night. On my street, there was a custom at midnight that lots of folks would open their windows, and bang on metal pots and pans with big wooden spoons. A very domesticated way of celebrating the new year.

I fear that the folks that used to do this, for decades, have now been forced to move from the street as the speeding forces of real estate upgrading, and renovation, and costliness may just be stomping upon those earlier simpler forms of celebration. Or maybe, I just slept through it last night. Don't think so, though.

All right. Moving into 2008 and its grey sky and mistiness. I got up early and got down to a bit of very much needed apartment cleaning up. Out with the old sort of thing. Several chairs and tables now are bare, the piles of papers, magazines, books that they once held have been banished to other locations. Some of those piles actually made their way outside the apartment to the recycle area down the hall.

Great. Sent off some e-mails to friends and family. Balanced the checkbook. Started early preparation (soaking in lots of water) of a dried legume known as black-eyed peas. It is considered lucky in traditional Virginia lore, to eat black-eyed peas on the first of January. I am very afraid to tempt fate by ignoring this custom, so every year I manage a mouthful of these beans before nightfall on January 1.

Next I turned to working on a long-term knitting project, originally begun to "use up" left over yarns. As any knitter will know, this sort of project can only encourage the purchase of additional yarns, so the project continues ad infinitum. If all goes well, I will illustrate this blog with a bit of the increasingly large coverlet that results from this multi-year project. I will spare you a photo of the black-eyed peas.

In early afternoon I had a surprise visit from a fellow tenant, who came by to wish me a happy new year. I served him tea and some of my home made sugar cookies (not so many people in this city still bake any kind of cookies.) It was nice to just chat a while. This gentleman had an impromptu birthday party last weekend to which I was invited. So...this is quite a lot of socializing for me in a few days.

The weather cleared in early afternoon, and so I also managed a quick walk over to the Park and enjoyed stretching my legs, seeing all the European tourists doing the same, and came home feeling as if my 2008 was off to a good beginning.

I wish the very same to all of you. Pleasant dreams to all.


  1. so many people eat black-eyed peas on new year's! i was born in kentucky, but that is not a tradition i ever picked up...maybe because i grew up in the North.

    but we did use to bang on pans at midnight when we were kids--we'd stay up with my folks, playing bingo and drinking eggnog, and then rush outside onto the front porch in the cold starry night and bang on pots and pans. and then, to bed.

    happy new year! i enjoyed this post.

  2. Black eyes peas is a new ome on me to!!
    A very happy new year to you!

  3. That coverlet is stunning, well done you. Happy 2008. Not sure about the b.e peas though. Anything leguminous is best avoided at Toady Towers.

  4. Dear Frances,

    A lovely Diary to read of your New Year awakening. Have never tasted Black Eyed Peas, I do believe it is a custom in America.

    The coverlet you have posted looks really gorgeous, it will be interesting to know which garment this will be?

    Happy New Year to you Frances, may the new year be a beautiful one full of your wonderful creativities.

    Love and Best Wishes,

  5. I know from other friends in USA that there is the 'black eyed pea' custom, but have never come across them. I'd love to try them.
    Your colours are so lovely in the coverlet...very restful.

  6. Happy New Year Frances.

    Never heard of either of your New Year 'customs'. I've heard that in years gone by - and most probably in poorer communities - a woman who had been unfaithful might be 'drummed' out of town by her neighbours beating pots and pans. Don't know whether this applied to naughty menfolk too or those who were consciencious objectors.

    Lovely colours in your coverlet - hope you will show us update pictures as it progresses.

  7. But I thought all Americans baked cookies...or is that like people thinking that all English men wear bowler hats? ;)

    I do love that coverlet - as a non knitter I am in awe of anyone who can produce a pot holder, let alone a beauty like this!

  8. I can't wait to start getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. I have so much clearing up to do this year that I fear I will have little time for much else!!

    A very happy new year to you, Frances.

    Crystal xx

  9. Lovely to have a day at home just to sort and contemplate, isn't it. Looking forward to seeing the progress of your coverlet. I, too, am doing something similar - my last one took about seven years (and that really is no exaggeration!).

    Happy New Year.

  10. What a homely comforting blog. I think it was the picture of the coverlet that really sealed it for me. Happy New Year, Frances. Hope 2008 is a good one for you.

  11. Happy New Year to you Francis, sounds like you have got off to an organised start !

  12. Beautiful as ever Frances; the black eyed peas are a new idea to me, love the coverlet, such artistry, fantastic. Isn't it nice to make new friends, and you have me feeling really hungry at the sound of such mouthwatering cookies.

    Happy New Year to you too.

  13. I love the idea of banging the pots and pans and bringing in the New Year - I hope you did just sleep through it because the image is so lovely...that wonderful community feel in a place so large and sometimes so faceless.
    I remember living in a street in London just behind Battersea Park and it was very very hot and we all just stopped and lazed around in the street in the evening all the doors and windows open and we chatted and had a sort of impromptu get together about forty of us it was amazing! And afterwards though we never did it again we looked out for each other then of course people move and it fades away but it was nice and it is a good memory...
    Happy New Year Frances!

  14. It's a shame my New year wasnt as sedate, i woke up with a bad hip a sore neck and the usual hangover! which i don't get but col the T- totaler does.The quilt is stunning all those different patterns you clever lady....ooxx

  15. Happy New Year Francis. I love your knitting project. You are so talented.

  16. Happy New Year Frances!
    Over here we also bang on pots and pans - I'll never forget the year that Lillypad used the brand new Lagostina Professional pots - I wept!
    Your coverlet is gorgeous!

  17. How interesting, I hadn't heard of either banging pots and pans or eating the black-eyed peas.
    Happy New Year.

  18. Happy New Year to you too Frances. A lovely blog to start the year off with and that coverlet is gorgeous> Show us some more please! xx

  19. In Catalonia they surround the house with bowls or bottles of water on new years eve to keep the witches away.Isn't it wonderful when old traditions survive like this! So sad about the saucepans, now in the Uk it would be because, no doubt, the Government had decided it was unsafe to do so! I remember listening to all the many ships in the docks blasting their horns to welcome the new year and miss it still even now!!

    Bonnee Annee Frances

  20. Happy new Year Frances...I always find your writing so calming ..it is a treat to pop in and find something new to read. Had never heard of Black eyed peas or the banging of the pots and pans! That coverlet is amazing ...how long has it been on the go?

  21. The Black-Eyed Peas are a group over here I think.

    I love your knitting project, gorgeous colours.

    A relaxing blog as ever, it's always a joy to visit you and your apartment in New York.

    I wish you the happiest of New Years Frances.

  22. A belated but very happy new year to you, Frances. I must say that if I thought blacy-eyed peas did the trick I'd be wolfing them down on New Year's Day! A lovely post, as ever.

  23. And an even more belated Happy New Year from Fennie. Well, I'll just have to try some black-eyed beans now.

    Beans are, of course, the vegetable of the future, seeing as you can feed a family of four (or so I read somewhere) on an acre of beans, though after 365 days it may be the family that is black-eyed, especially if they have been kept up all night by the saucepan clatter.

    When I was little, and given my Scottish roots, we used to run around with lumps of coal, 'first footing' - you tried to be the first one across your neighbours' threshold and coal, for some reason was considered lucky.

    At least you can eat beans!

  24. I love these old customs.....I've never heard of the banging but think it sounds fabulous....ditto the black-eyed beans.
    Your coverlet is fabulous...wish I could get you and Milla together - craftswomen and artists both. You would love each other's work.
    Loads of love

  25. Happy New Year Frances, in Scotland apparently it is something of a tradition that the house should be cleaned from top to bottom, before the 'bells', otherwise it means an untidy house for the whole new year....of course the latter always applies in this case, I never have managed to have a spotless house at Hogmanay, because it is of course a huge celebration here and so the house is always very busy at that time...
    Your knitting is amazing...full of beautiful patterns and colours, good luck with it. Posie x

  26. Frances, just popped back to say that your comments about the colour consultation were fascinating - must be very galling to see folks with set ideas trying to chose the wrong clothes! The experience was quite an eye opener for me and I am mourning my black at the moment as I don't feel quite like me! I guess you have to be careful not to lose your personality completely!