Friday, January 1, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on New Year's Day, 2010. Or should that be New Year's Night? I have no idea, but am glad to be putting up some new calendars proclaiming that we do now have a fresh selection of days and opportunities to make our own history.

The calendar pictured above features vintage and actual antique tea pots and other china. I love its images, and how they conjure up an environment of calm, quiet, continuity of civilization. All as the tea slowly brews, yet does not stew.

The calendar pictured below features fanciful decoupage combinations of images, many with a bit of a Victorian age theme. To start off the year with dancing pigs seems a very brave choice. I did laugh to see this page.

I worked yesterday, and was glad that the company authorized our closing the shop's door as of 5 pm. By then the morning's snow had evolved through dim sunlight, into an evening mist, that promised to develop into rain.

The Empire State Building was still glowing red and green. I apologize for not having taken a photo. It was too cold to get the camera out while taking my gloves off. Next year, perhaps. As I rode the subway train home, and transferred to a west side line at Times Square, it was obvious that all sorts of security measures were being deployed. What a night to be a New York police officer.

It was good to get home and have some supper. And then, what a shock to have some sad news about someone dying far too young.

I decided to turn my lights out well before midnight. I knew that at Midnight the Central Park fireworks would be loud and insistent enough to wake me. The first moments of this new year would surely be available. Yes, the fireworks were right on time. Revelers on the sidewalk below my bedroom window were quite amusing as they attempted to remember the lyrics that followed "Should old acquaintance...." It all sounded rather sweet. Sweet is an adjective that some would not associate with sidewalk revelers.

Resisting the temptation to switch on the television to see the scene at Times Square, I just listened to the sounds of that particular New York night. And soon enough, I drifted off into an undisturbed sleep.

This morning the sky was gray, and the air seemed damp. I had made two resolutions. One was to make a very small portion of black eyed peas, the traditional Southern USA good luck dish. The pictured jar contains the remaining dried peas left from a supply bought before New Year's 2006. A small portion of dried black eyed peas goes a long way. I now have some left in the jar to grant me lots of luck for 2011.

My black eyed peas were slowly simmered with a carrot, shallot, some ham and a mix of herbs. I added some of the cooked legumes to tonight's pasta. Delicious. I really feel lucky now!

My other resolution was to try to get rid of my chronic cough that has clung to my throat on and off for over two years now. I have been checked out by my gp, and by a specialist, and have taken some medicines, and have had some chest x rays. The cough eases for a month or so, and then seems to get its power back.

I think that this condition is also giving me a much more regularly raspy voice than I have ever before had. I have never smoked cigarettes. I sound as if I were a smoker. My thought is that working at the shop with its dry air, and its requirement that I talk quite a bit are what keep my raspy. And so, today I started on my resolution. I did not speak, I drank lots and lots of liquids, and ... this evening, there is an improvement.

Back to to work tomorrow ... so I may have a back slide.

So, on this grey day, I did lots of cleaning up around the apartment. Clutter be gone. Dust, you've got to go, too. Old paper records, you are getting sorted. All those projects seem so appropriate for New Year's Day.

I also did some work on several textile projects, fingerless mitt experiments that I am playing with. The first picture is a simple pattern, without any special stitches. I am using two Rowan yarns, one is a basic DK merino wool, and the other is a Rowan tweedy yarn that is very close in harmony to the merino. I am also experimenting with new bamboo double point needles.

This is a design that I can work on without paying much attention. Can read and knit at the same time.

This next pair of mitts will have actual fingers, with the tops off. I am using up a mixture of four ply yarns, some merino, some Shetland wool. The pattern I am roughly following is in an old book of Susan Duckworth designs. I have made many sweaters from this book, and previously made a pair of true gloves from this same pattern. Since taking this photo, I have finished the thumbs, and now am on the last lap ... only eight fingers to go.

It is so relaxing to be at home, relaxed, playing with colors and textures, listening to good music on the radio, trading e-mails with friends all over the world.
Not coughing!
This year is off to a good start. I send the best New Year's wishes to each of you. Let's have a grand 2010.


  1. Dear Frances,

    Happy New Year to you!

    Take good care of yourself- lots of rest, good food and water. And I'm looking forward to seeing your new mitts.

    I, too, spent a quiet, early night last night- listening to the revelers in the street. My favorite way to start the year.

  2. HI- I just found your blog last month and bookmarked it, so glad to see you back! Here in Hobart, Tasmania, we had the double spectacle on New Year's Eve of lightning sheets and flashes playing over the city, and fireworks happening at the same time. It looked like some kind of bizarre competition,with the lightning easily winning.Funny to see our best pyrotechnic efforts so convincingly outclassed by nature!

  3. Very best wishes for 2010 - can hardly believe century has a decade under its belt already.

    Loved your latest blog - almost felt I was padding around your warm apartment with you, listening to the sounds of a celebratory NYC coming from outside.

  4. Happy New Year, Frances. Reading your blog brought back memories of our time in NYC - last year!
    My husband, Jim has a cough like yours. It seems to get better then comes back again - rather worrying, but otherwise he is in good health. I hope yours goes for good soon.
    Love your knitting project. I never seem to finish stuff that I start. I am halway through a coat for Rufus Whippet. It will be the summer before he gets to wear it.

  5. Oh a happy, happy new year to you Frances. I love your knitting and the gorgeous wools you are using. I still haven't knitted on bamboo needles but hear they are wonderfully tactile, so must give them a go. I am very much in a knitting grip at the moment! Hope your poor throat improves soon xx

  6. Happy New Year Frances and let's hope it stays cough free.

  7. Happy New Year! I enjoy your blog very much. Your life is so different from my own and yet I feel I am there. I had many good stories from my one trip to New York City. We live across from a public golf course. It was popping everywhere on New Year's Eve. My daughter took the children out for an exciting walk in the dark. Yesterday my sister-in-law had us over for black-eyed peas and ham with rice, cornbread and collard greens. My Michigan husband says I'm turning him into a hill billy. (Teaching him about good southern food anyway.) Have a wonderful 2010!

  8. Happy New Year, Frances! So now you can do Lauren Bacall impressions! Think silver lining and clouds. Thanks for sharing your New York new year.

  9. A Happy New Year, Frances. It sounds like a good way to greet it - cosy in your bed with the revellers safely outside! I hope you have found the way to get rid of that cough. So exhausting.

  10. wow, love your knitting projects..
    Very quiet new years here..
    have a wonderful weekend.

  11. Dear Frances, I have been wondering what you have been up to, imagining that you must have been very busy with your shop. I am so sorry to hear your sad news, all the more poignant at this time of the year.

    I feel that you need lots of honey and lemon for your poorly throat, a good tot of whisky also helps!

    Here's to an inspirational New Year.

    You have inspired me to start a new knitting project.

  12. Dear Francis,
    reading your poetic meanderings is like balsam for the soul, so beautiful to wander along with you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this.

    As always, I shall come back again and again,
    in the meantime dream of these absolutely fabulous mittens, gloves: Who knows if those yet to be finish finger coverings will not start dancing like sugar plums in my dreams?

    A very Happy New Year to you,
    a wealth of happiness and love,

  13. Hi Francis,
    Love your blog from New York, sadly i have not been yet! I live in Ireland and am not the best flyer!
    Maybe next year!
    Hope your throat heals up and you feel better for 2010.
    My son was in New York in 2002 and loved every minute.
    Happy New Year!

  14. Lovely post, Frances - I really had the feeling of a cold and damp New York New Year's day, complete with imagined sounds. Your knitting projects sound very complicated to this beginner knitter, but I think I'll try those bamboo needles that everyone likes so much.
    Has anyone yet told you that you sound like Demi Moore?

  15. I am knitting a scarf for my daughter, double yarn for warmth. She goes to hospital in the mornings at 6:00 am and sometimes does not come back home until late at night or the next morning when she is on call, and it is quite cold there right now. I was pleased to have finished a baby blanket for her friend’s baby who was born with a breathing problem so I had to improvise with a very airy type of stitch. I wish you a very Happy 2010 and to start the new decade with happiness, joy and good health.

  16. A Happy New Year to you too Frances, and I do hope that your cough is sorted out and wish you much joy with your various knittings.

  17. Happy New Year!
    Maybe you could get a humidifier for the shop?
    I was up in Tappan asleep when midnight and 2010 arrived.
    Do hope your peas were delicious.
    Buster joins me in wishing you a most wonderful new year.
    See you very soon.

  18. Ver best wishes to you for 2010, Frances. I have some news for you which I will email you about!
    (And take care of yourself, girl!)

  19. Happy New Year Frances! I hope it brings relief from your cough, which sounds horrible. Your knitting is so lovely- I do love dropping in here to see your projects. All best wishes and hope you feel better. Emma x

  20. I can only imagine being in NYC on New Years Eve! WoW! I hope this is the year you beat that cough for good. I used to hve such a cough and went through a battery of test including allergens to which I had none. Seems like it's just a slight but constant trickle from the back of my throat to my pharynx (from sinus polyps they say) but nothing a little Mucinex dosent fix. Persistent coughing can be exhausting.
    Happy New Year and may peace and prosperity be yours in 2010!
    LiBBy BuTTons

  21. yes let's, all of us. A grand 2010 to you, dear Frances
    Your posts read like something out of Miss Read or Barbara Pym to me, always gentle, always civilized and very ladylike, a quiet contentment shining through.
    I love to accompany you on your travels through NY; you convey a picture of the monster city not at all like the image reproduced by anybody else.

    I have been thinking (and writing) about blogging and the people I meet in cyberspace; you are one of those that keep me coming back for more and cause me to continue writing.

  22. Hello Frances,
    I've just popped in a few times, but I like reading about NYC from your observant perspective. About that cough, a friend of mine found his chronic cough was from a combination of medicines he takes for his diabetes and his heart condition. Once he switched up his medications, the cough disappeared. He's a teacher, so he's so happy and relieved! I hope yours goes away soon. It's exhausting to cough. Take care and thank you for sharing.

  23. Thank you for the visit to my blogspot, as you can see I had more than a cough to get off my chest, but boy do I feel better for it !!!! Here's to a positive 2010, btw I'm loving listening to life outside on the sidewalk !

  24. Happy New Year Frances,
    It was home to a cosy quiet midnight for me too. I like your description of "an environment of calm, quiet, continuity of civilization", which is very much what you convey in your posts.
    I hadn't heard of black-eyed peas for luck, perhaps it's not too late to start!
    So sorry that the old year ended with sad news, devastating for those closest.
    I hope 2010 brings all manner of good things your way. (Yes, Elizabeth's blogs are charming and I will be visiting them more this year.)

  25. Dear Frances,
    I'm so sorry that it has taken me so long to return your visit! I did appreciate the nice comment you left on my blog back in December when I was awash in Dickens and Christmas preparations.

    Funnily enough, I just bought my calendar today. It was getting to be desperate, although I do like getting a calendar for half-price. I ended up getting a National Trust "family" calendar, but I think that I would prefer your one on tea.

    You have reminded me of black-eyed peas! It is a tradition that I haven't kept up with, but perhaps I should. We all need a nice big dash of luck.

  26. And a very belated happy New Year to you too, Frances!
    I always enjoy my visits to your calm and serene space and sharing in your delightful musings.
    Take good care of that throat with lots of hot honey and lemon drinks!

    Jeanne x

  27. Hey! I'm knitting fingerless mits too! In fact I'm so pleased withthe first pair I'm almost finished another :-) They are just the thing when I want to take photos outside ;-)

    The black eyed peas tradition is a new one for me... I love food traditions, and dried peas/beans.

    Getting dark now here, I hear via Twitter that another snowstorm has just come in off the North Sea and is heading our way - usually takes about an hour to cross Suffolk, sometimes (like last night) it's blown out before it gets here. Take care of that throat - warm (not hot drinks), no shouting, and a good night's sleep.

    Take care

    PS I must put your blog on my blogroll - but my computer sulks at the sight of blogger controls so it may take some time to sort out!

  28. Dear Frances,
    I have so enjoyed visiting your blog since I first came across it early last year. I do admire your ability to "Go quietly amid the noise and haste..." as you share your unique view of New York.
    I wish you many good things in 2010
    and good health to enjoy them.
    Take care.

  29. How your blog makes me miss New York! My family and I lived there for many years before moving to London four years ago. They are, in my opinion, the two greatest cities in the world, and now I'm homesick for yours. Thanks for such a lovely look at NYC.

  30. Hope you have a good year! Perhaps gargling with Manuka honey might help your throat? And if my ribs and sternum get misaligned (this can be associated with spinal misalignment) then I start coughing. A trip to a McTimoney chiropractor to have it all realigned stops the cough - might be worth a try?

    Pomona x

  31. Lovely blog Frances.
    I sincerely wish that your cough disappears. Have you tried honey in your tea? (Do you drink tea?).
    The mittens look lovely, gorgeous colours. I wish I was clever like you.
    I wish you a very happy New Year.

  32. Yes I would say that revellers on the street are sweet singing "Auld Lang Syne" I think it must be the juxtaposition of being louad , noisy and somewhat the worse for wear and the sentiments of the song. A wishful New Year to You!

  33. I adore those Calenders you have posted Frances. Oh my, love the colour shading to the Susan Duckworth pattern for those gorgeous knit mits too, a gorgeous raspberry/pink shade.

    Wish I had your wonderful talent Frances, really lovely post.

    Happy 2010 to you dear friend.


  34. Hello Frances,
    It was lovely to read about your walk through the park. It is always a thrill to see the first snowdrops, the promise that Spring is on the way. As I passed an orchard covered in snow, I thought soon it will be white with snowdrops.
    Our snow has all but melted, revealing the green fields and mud, every where looking rather drab. It is still very chilly, nice to come to a cosy fire.

    Nearly finished my pair of socks. Your stylish mitts are no doubt finished and being admired along the streets of New York, whilst keeping you warm.

  35. Hello Frances,
    Happy New Year to you and many thanks for all the wonderful comments you regularly leave me, they really encourage me to keep the blogging up! I love the calendar with the vintage china. Hope your cough is better now...
    Take care,
    Hen x

  36. Hi Frances
    thank you so much for your comments these last few times, its really helped me through this bleakness, im so touched at how kind and caring everyone has been. We're all just trying to get back to normal now and hoping this year will be good to us!
    i love your post, the tea pot in the calendar is so pretty, and your knitting looks fantastic, im hoping one day to make a fair isle sweater although i need to improve! thank you again, fliss xx

  37. Lovely post, Frances. Very visual.

    I like the idea of dancing pigs, and the fact that one might want to turn off the TV and let voices float in from the outside.

    The unexpectedness of voices floating in from the sidewalk outside the window has its own charm, more so on a quiet afternoon, and interspersed with breeze blowing in.

    Happy New Year to you.

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