Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wonderful Life

Friday evening I met Jo for BBQ in Greenwich Village. Jo has a heart that could melt a glacier, and every time she smiles at me I believe the world is good.

After dinner we walked the streets of Greenwich Village in the cold December air, past the sex shops and tattoo parlors and pizza-by-the-slice joints. An indie film theater was showing "It's a Wonderful Life." It started in ten minutes.

For the next two hours we sat next to each other in the darkness, holding hands, and watched a story about the importance of being grateful for all that we've been given.

When the lights finally came back up, Jo squeezed my hand and smiled, and at that moment I would've lassoed the moon for her.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Holiday window boxes

I'm not bragging, but the luxury condo at the end of the block has wilted flowers in its planters. Meanwhile, 139 is all dressed up for the holidays. (And, yes, we say "holidays" on the Upper West Side because we don't believe religion is a competition.)

Last night I strung the lights with the help of the little girls from upstairs.

They helped by unwinding the strands and testing them like jump ropes.

All strands passed the jump rope test.

I had one strand left, so I brought it inside and put it on our own little Christmas tree. (Yes, we do call it a Christmas tree, even on the Upper West Side.)

We are ready for some holiday love and cheer.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Edgar Allan Poe Farmhouse, West 84th Street

The other day when I was checking out Books of Wonder's new West 84th Street location, I remembered that this was the block where Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Raven" in the 1840s.

There's an excellent post at that lays out the evidence for where the farmhouse was located. Suffice it to say that when the city laid out West 84th Street, they sliced right through the hillside, creating the odd effect of the house on a bluff. (It was more of a rolling hillside when Poe lived there.)

My contribution is the photo of what it looks like now.

The farmhouse was eventually razed and the hillside flattened, almost certainly to make way for the turn-of-the-century buildings that currently occupy the spot. A movie theater now occupies the space to the right, where the stairs were.

It's a bit mind-blowing, isn't it?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Big in China

Or at least translated to Chinese, as of this week. 

I haven't been able to buy this book, figure out where it's sold, or determine what major international award it appears to have won.

But I think it's cool.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Can we all agree that no rational person would ever open a children's bookstore?

No one has ever crunched the numbers and concluded, "Yep, opening a children's bookstore is going to make me rich."

And yet...

Books of Wonder just opened a new store on West 84th...half a block from West Side Kids, two blocks from Barnes & Noble, five blocks from Book Culture, twenty from Bank Street Bookstore. The Upper West Side is nutty like that.

I stopped by today to check it out. (The first thing I did was see if they had any of my books. Duh.) I left with a new picture book, which I seem to do every time I go to a children's bookstore. It feels good to buy a picture book. It's like opioid addiction, but healthier.

It makes me smile to know that I live in a neighborhood with little pockets of magic and stardust that quietly coexist with the Duane Reades and Chases and Starbucks. Nothing against corporations. But you don't see toddlers crawling the floors of Duane Reade, and Chase doesn't make you feel like the world is inherently wonderful.

Thumbs up for Books of Wonder. Thumbs up for children's bookstores, and children's books, and children.

(And before anyone gets a lump in their throat, yes, I'm going to deduct the book purchase on my taxes.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Camping in November

As you may or may not recall, in the spirit of extending summer into late fall, we went rafting the weekend before Halloween. How to top that?

Camping the weekend before Thanksgiving.

We found a website called, which lists about a dozen privately-owned single campsites, each outfitted with a standard-issue canvas tent with wood-burning stove and elevated air mattress.

I strongly suspect we were the last campers of 2017.

1. It was c-c-c-cold.

2. We brought Bailey, who loved it.

3. We ate BBQ takeout, then cooked marshmallows (Bailey ate three) and drank hot cocoa under a starry sky.

4. I woke up at 4am to take Bailey out and discovered that our entire campsite was covered in a thin layer of snow. And the stars were even more amazing.

5. It was toasty inside the tent as long as there was wood in the stove and a dog on the bed.

6. It was a perfect crazy November summer adventure.