Sunday, July 9, 2006
Almost Full Moon
Sunny and hot
Intense few days. Where do I start?
Friday, I started for the train, realized I’d forgotten something and had to turn around. I missed the first train I wanted to take. Then, I had a really, really bad feeling about the next train and skipped it. So I took a train an hour later than I originally planned.
We passed the middle train, stopped in the middle of the track, with police swarming all over it. Nothing was on the news – not a surprise – but I’m glad I wasn’t on it.
And now, with the terrorist plot foiled that would have blown up the Holland Tunnel and the Brooklyn Bridge . . .
Chertoff and his Homeland Un-Security are waiting for another attack on New York to “prove” we need the money. He’s going to insist that another couple of thousand people die before he does anything.
Of course, this is the man who stood by with his thumb up his ass beside the President and believed Mike Brown as all those people drowned, suffered, and died in the aftermath of Katrina. And who has allowed blatant misuse of the Katrina funds that have been distributed while the people who truly need them get nothing. Should we really be surprised by the corruption and incompetence of this Administration?
I finally got into the city, ran my errands, and made my way to the Museum of Modern Art. I hadn’t been there since the renovation.
I was hungry, so I headed immediately to Café 2 for a meal. What a disappointment! Jackhammers blasting the whole time, the chicken undercooked and a $7 glass of wine served in a juice glass, which is NOT cute and retro. When I pay $25 for lunch, I shouldn’t have to chase my plate around the table because of construction, I should get a decent vessel for my drink, and the food should be cooked!
Especially in light of the exquisite meal at the Pierpont Morgan Library the day before, it was a major disappointment.
So we all know which restaurant will get a pan in my travel article about “best museum food in New York” now, don’t we?
Fortunately, the galleries are pretty great. There was a slight smell of mildew in some of the (new) hallways, and the acoustics are AWFUL, but the presentation is wonderful. I continue to believe that the curation at the MOMA is some of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world (and I’ve traipsed through several hundred museums over the years).
I had very little patience with the DADA exhibit, because the movement itself is not something I enjoy. To me, art is a conversation between artist and viewer. The artist is communicating to the viewer on many levels. Work created as part of DADA, to me, seems one-sided. It’s very self-involved and fun for the artist, but I don’t get a sense of communication. It’s “look at me” not “share this with me”. Anyway, that’s my personal experience of it.
However, the paintings and sculptures were breathtaking. There’s nothing like seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night in person, or the twenty-foot long triptych of Monet’s “Reflections of Clouds on the Water Lily Pond” that has its own ROOM in the museum. I forget that Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” is a tiny picture – because the reproductions and posters tend to be huge. I got my Hopper fix with “Gas” and “Night Windows” – guess the MOMA didn’t lend those two to the Whitney for their current retrospective.
Jackson Pollock’s “One: Number 31, 1950” has become a cliché – yet, when you stand there in front of it, you see why there was such a fuss. However, I prefer the smaller, more textured “Full Fathom Five” which has keys, nails, buttons, tacks and more swirled in with the paint.
I’m a big Matta fan, and was pleased to see “Here, Sir Fire, Eat!”, and, of course, I visited the Matisses, my favorites being “The Red Studio” and “The Blue Window”, and the de Chiricos.
I could go on and on.
After my senses were so saturated I couldn’t see any more, I rummaged through the gift shop, picked up a few things at the Folk Art gift shop next door, and went to the theatre.
Where people were bitchy and crabby, and I realized that I am sick and tired of people so in love with their own misery they refuse to change. As a friend of mine said about an acquaintance of ours who uses her family as an excuse not to write so she never has to take a risk, “She has the right to choose to fail.” It’s applicable to the show, too – if these people don’t want to make the choices that will make their lives happy, it’s up to them. But I don’t have to buy into their bullshit, nor do I have to accept it when they throw it at me.
The actors were fine – it’s some of the other people around there I won’t miss.
Exhausted by the time I got home at 1 AM and fell into bed.
Got up reasonably early on Saturday, and rushed around to get ready to go on the road. We drove up to Niantic, CT, a small town on the Niantic River.
The destination was a place called The Book Barn. And this is my summary: I met my bookstore match.
The Book Barn is a barn with three stories packed to the rafters with books. And outbuildings, all packed with books. I met at least five cats wandering around – one, a black one, greeted us when we arrived and insisted on giving us a guided tour of the whimsical, magical garden full of gargoyles and glittering witch balls and a fish pond and gnomes, dwarves, fairies, angels and herbs. That HAD to be done before any books were looked at – Sir Cat insisted. And when Sir Cat insists on something – well, let’s just say if a CAT had gone after the Holy Grail, we’d all know where it is by now. Or, at least, the cat would.
The garden is one of the most beautiful, whimsical, magical places I’ve ever seen in my life. I took photos, but they are terribly disappointing – they don’t capture it properly. And there are benches and tables and comfy chairs and sofas everywhere, so you can sit and read all day, if you choose. And drink coffee and eat snacks and pet the cats and feed the goats.
I bought twenty books. I could have bought many, many more, but by the time I found twenty gems, I was exhausted, and I couldn’t sort through any more outbuildings. I’d barely even touched the main barn. Next trip, I’ll have to start there and work my way out.
And then we visited the Downtown branch of the Book Barn, which has the nautical collection. So, I guess I bought 16 books at the Main branch, because I only bought 4 at the Downtown branch.
And then I was “booked out”.
My Unknown Chum – by “Aguecheek” (1947 edition)
Country Editor by Henry Beetle Hough
Once More the Thunderer by Henry Beetle Hough
The Steamboaters by Harry Sinclair Drago
The Goddess Celebrates by Diane Stein
Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott (1906 edition)
The Girls by Helen Yglesias
Teach Yourself Gaelic (the Scots version)
The Writer in the Garden edited by Jane Garmey
Bequest of Wings: A Family’s Pleasures with Books by Annis Duff
Katherine and EB White: An Affectionate Memoir by Isabel Russell
Dropped Threads: What We Weren’t Told edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson
Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks (can you believe I never read it?)
Reap the Whirlwind by CJ Cherryh and Mercedes Lackey
Murder at Betram’s Bower by Cynthia Peale
Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey (someone lent me four of the Diane Tregarde books several years ago and I’ve been searching for my own copies ever since – this place only had one, but I’ll keep looking)
The Scions of Shannara by Terry Brooks (hey, the paperbacks are only $1; I know I like Brooks; I figured I’d stock up).
Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington by Mary Higgins Clark (yes, THAT Mary Higgins Clark)
Exile’s Gate by CJ Cherryh. (I think I have some of the other Morgaine the White Queen novels in storage. Or maybe I got them from the library. But I don’t think I read this one).
Looking through books is hungry work. On the bookseller’s recommendation, we headed to Flanders to eat lobster at Flanders Fish Market. Quite good, although the view over the high school football field leaves something to be desired.
On the way back, we stopped in Old Saybrook at my favorite second hand shop – Old Saybrook Recycled Furniture, Etc. I got a lamp with a ship’s wheel base (for $7) and an Anniversary clock (for $6). I am obsessed with clocks, and I’ve always wanted what is known as an Anniversary clock or a 400 Days clock – they have the dome and the bottom quadrangle of pendulums that rotate to keep the time. This one is beautifully and simply decorated with roses. It was slightly in the back of the store, but I spotted it almost immediately and knew it was mine. I also got a beautiful wooden tray with a linen and glass inset ($2), and, on the 25 cent shelves: four pewter salt dishes, a silver-plated dish shaped like a scallop shell, a wooden egg cup (that now holds one of my crystal balls), a brass bell with a hatted figure on top as the handle, a pair of kidney-shaped green ceramic candle holders, a tiny pair of carved and painted wooden shoes, a replica of the Betsy Ross House (long story, but I had to have it), a carved red cardinal, and a ceramic box with a red cardinal on top.
I LOVE Mercury retrograde when it comes to shopping like this!
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have bought bird stuff (being a cat person), but since the image of the murdered cardinals from Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House was still so fresh, it was almost like saving a pair.
I know, it makes no sense, but I did it anyway.
When I came home, I disinfected the books and I’m keeping them in an airy quarantine for a few days. I want to make sure the musty book smell is just that – musty book smell – and that there’s no mold. I don’t think there is, but I want to make sure, and I don’t want to put any of the other books at risk.
Of course, I already read The Goddess Celebrates. I mean, I have had it for almost 24 hours.
Today, I gave myself the day off. I was tired and logy. I went grocery shopping, read the papers, did two loads of laundry, worked on something for tomorrow, and worked on three sets of interview questions I need to do for three different articles.
Yes, for me, that’s a day off.
Like I said, compared to Chaz Brenchley and Sir Walter Scott, I’m terribly lazy.
I also read quite a bit in Sir Walter Scott’s Journal. I particularly liked this passage, found on pp. 100-101 of Canongate’s edition, edited by WEK Anderson:
“12 Sunday (February, 1826). Having ended the Second Vol of Woodstock last night I have to begin the Third this morning. Now I have not the slightest idea how the story is to be wound up to a catastrophe. I am just in the same case as I used to be when I lost myself in former days in some country to which I was a stranger – I always pushd for the pleasantest road and either found or made it the nearest. It is the same in writing. I could never lay down a plan – or having laid it down I never could adhere to it; the action of composition always dilated some passages and abridged or omitted others and personages were rendered important or insignificant not according to their agency in the original conception of the plan but according to the success or otherwise with which I was able to bring them out.”
Sounds rather familiar to fellow writers, does it not?