Friday, October 30, 2009

Victorian Spirit Photography

An ethereal little girl, a few yards of silk chiffon, an inexpensive camera...a spirit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Inner Goth

My Inner Goth's name is Hestia. She thrives after the sun goes down: in the lengthening dusk, or silent midnight, her little dark spirit flickers like the last guttering candle end in a sootblackened candelabra, her impression in the mirror gazes back at me in shadowy reflection, her pallor streaked with the silvering of the old glass.

Surely her Halloween might be better spent: a kiss in the graveyard, a picnic on a gravestone, summoning shades in a gloomy parlor somewhere. Instead, she'll be with me, trailing behind a noisy, happy, clattering herd of small costumed children. She'll adjust the little black veil on her hat, and wipe the kohl tear-tracks from her cheeks, reciting, sotto voce

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk...

As I step on Skittles, flung behind the revelers, as my boot heels crunch on watermelon Jolly Ranchers, and catch in the elastic thread of abandoned plastic drugstore masks...

...but if you should catch sight of me, across a crowded street, and call to me "Hestia!" I'll raise a languid hand in greeting...

sterling candelabra, from Grandma Eva, on our Victorian organ, a wedding gift from my dad to my mom

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I sat quietly on the couch this afternoon and watched the two heads bent together over Hedgie's math homework, and listened to their voices in earnest discussion: Hedgie's high little one piping up in interest, questioning, and Sarge's bass notes answering.

I remembered those dark winter evenings with my father, our heads together over my math homework, the lamplight glinting off his gold glasses, the red of his beard; I could hear the bass notes in his voice, the patient explanations, feel the sweet eureka moment as I understood the equation; I could see us together again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


everyone tucked away in bed but me,

I peeled my apple with the little paring knife

and ate it,

drank the hot sweet tea

the only stars visible in all of Brooklyn tonight were these bright sparks amid the books

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Shoe Canon

Shoes. I've been thinking about shoes. Such potential for fetishizing, and you know how I love a good object of fetish (oh please, won't I ever shut up about my fetishes?)

I wrote many months ago about my favorite clothes through the years. I thought I'd add an endnote to that post, about the shoes that have held special meaning for me.

Here are the ten seminal pairs of shoes from my personal Shoe Canon:

1. The orthopedic shoes of my childhood. I got to choose every year until I was seven or eight from the three colors available: navy, burgundy, and brown. Simply dreadful. Why orthopedic shoes? I was quite pigeon-toed. And guess what! I still am. I like to think of it as a delightful quirk.

2. My aunt's black suede grommeted platform shoes. She had tiny feet, so I could play dress-up in them without falling over. I think the contrast between my clunky orthopedics and these marvels of glamor made me think that life, or at least shoes, would not always be so drab and defeating...

3. Patent leather tap shoes with wide grosgrain ribbon ties. I adored my tap instructor, George. He was about a million years old and had been in vaudeville, and could still tap the hell out of a floor.

4. Ballet slippers. I remember the excitement of sewing the little pieces of elastic across the instep.

5. Black Capezio character shoes, my first heels. Same now as they were in 1983. Let's be honest, they really don't look all that thrilling, do they? It's hard to imagine what I saw in them, but back then the faux leather and ingenue heel screamed possibility.

6. Macdougal Alley Skimmers. When I just googled them, what did I find? The only reference online seems to be a comment I made ages ago on someone else's blog: "The '80s for me are typified by a quintessentially NYC fashion: the MacDougal Alley Skimmer. Capezio flats in about eighty colors; many girls I knew collected them like girls in the '50s collected cashmere sweaters." My one lone pair was electric blue.

7. Steel-toed motorcycle boots. In college, I thought they made me look tough and sexy. Who knows, maybe they did, but it's up for debate. Though I could certainly kick frat boy ass if I needed to...

8. The hiking boots that I wore every day in Israel, when I wasn't wearing sandals. Those boots took me across deserts and up Masada. I absolutely destroyed them that year.

9. Sarge's army boots: when we first fell in love, he was a drill sergeant in the Army Reserves. Once a month, he'd leave college to do a drill weekend at the nearby Fort. I loved to watch him polish those boots in preparation; he was a brilliant, meticulous, patient, and dextrous polisher. I knew it was a very good sign.

10. Hedgehog's first shoes: Irish linen slippers with a linen button on each. So ridiculously expensive, so difficult to tuck her fat little feet into them properly. So lovely.

I asked you about clothes in my old post, let me ask now about shoes, about the special, meaningful pair in your personal history.

So, nu?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hot Sweet Cheer

A random collection of little pleasures from my day:

Glenlivet with Sarge, leaning against the kitchen counter mid-afternoon, taken in quick swallows; the searing flame in my throat, the flooding warmth at the top of my head, making me fuzzy and clear at the same time...

Good and Fiery--my own box, all mine in its artificial brightness, its hot sweet cheer.

Bach, "Goldberg Variations."

Motorhead, "Ace of Spades."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Damp, Dark, Dreary, and Chilly...

is the weather forecast for today.

My favorite sort of day, it makes me happy to imagine myself later this afternoon, solitary, an hour or two just for writing.

What else makes me happy:

Chores done (a very humble sort of happiness): the washing machine humming in the kitchen, the last dishes drying on the rack in their neat row, bean soup simmering away on the stove, challah dough set for its third rising, perhaps even a cake in the oven?...

Warmth: first fire of the season, the soft pink cashmere slippers I crocheted for myself, a fresh pot of chicory coffee, the hiss of heat from the radiators...

Family: Hedgie home from school, her little rubber boots drying by the hall radiator, companionably curled on the sofa with her new Septimus Heap book, occasionally reading a passage aloud to me...and finally, Sarge's footsteps on the stair, a sound I wait for each evening...and Hedgie flinging her book aside and rushing to throw herself at him--"daddy!!!!" "oof! Right in the breadbasket!" he says and hugs her back...and kisses me...

Not every single day is so sweet, of course, but surprisingly often, now, they are. Today will be that sort of a day, I can feel it in my bones.

Note: lest anyone think I'm being a bit too precious here, and in the interest of strict truth, I feel compelled to add that my roof is leaking into the living room, and so all this domestic bliss is accompanied by a steady little drip--drip--drip of rusty water into a pot...see, I'm nothing if not scrupulously honest...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The. Horror.

I have just sacrificed my darling family to the Gods of Radio City. Sarge will be crushed between the iron thighs of the Rockettes. Hedgie will be paralyzed by the flashing lights. And my mother-in-law, whose idea this was, will delight in everyone's misery.

Everyone's misery but mine, that is. I was in charge of procuring the tickets this morning. How many tickets do you think I purchased? Four, as I was supposed to? No. I purchased three. The MIL doesn't know it yet, but I am not going, and that is now a fait accompli.

I'm posting this in my series of things that make me happy, because not going to the Christmas Spectacular makes me happy, so happy. But more than that, the idea of the Christmas Spectacular, to which I am not going, fills me with a weird cheer. As long as I don't have to be in the audience, the thought of all that utterly insane, over-the-top faux Christmas coming at you like a bad acid trip is funny! Even more, the thought of Sarge, dignified, masterful Sarge, sitting third row center, gritting his teeth, gripping the seat, and praying for Death's sweet release, well, that's funny too!

I'm so sorry, Sarge. You know how much I love you. I would do anything for you. Anything in the world, that is, but take your seat at the Christmas Spectacular.

Let's just call it my own special form of psychological bondage and discipline.

I know I'll be paying eventually, but oh is it worth it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Invitation to the Waltz

You've caught me! in the midst of preparations for the Manor Ball.

After a long search, I finally found my special dress--where else but in a book:

"She slipped off her mother's fur coat into the footman's hands, and gave a touch or two to the white dress. Floating, transparent and fragile, swathing itself lightly over breast, waist and thigh and sweeping backwards and out in a wide flaring line, it was a romantic, pretty, waltz-like frock. Inside it she felt drastically transformed, yet at home with it, able to suit it..."*

And what else but the light, fragrant white Gardenia tucked behind my ear, a contrast to my rather somber, slightly frowning dance partner, whose name I need not tell you.

*from "The Weather in the Streets" by Rosamond Lehmann

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Little Love part 2

our country lane, and my little car

To continue with my Things that Make Me Happy posts...

last weekend, I was banished away upstate all by myself...not really, but Sarge took care of Hedgie for two nights and two days while I went to take care of a brake recall on my new car. A prosaic errand that yielded a wonderful time alone. I'm a sociable person, but sometimes I need some time all my own--and not just an hour or two, but a real bit of time, to "get my head together" as Sarge says.

So I took myself all the way to my cabin in the Adirondacks. A five hour drive, just me and my ipod and my iced coffee, and my thoughts, uninterrupted for several hundred miles of highway. Two days and two nights of utter privacy! Everything was just right: the chilly rain made my aloneness more tangible, and somehow cozier; the lovely orange fingerless gloves, made for me, seemed especially soft; the coffee was sharper, stronger, tangier--the milk richer; the walks by the quiet lake more meditative; and at night, when it cleared, the sky full of stars winking at me, just for me. My bare toes snuggled in the blankets that seemed to know I was by myself, and, obligingly, were extra warm. My midnight chocolate bar was extra sweet. The owls hoo-hooed for me, and the deer flashed their tails through the woods behind the house--as if they knew I wanted to catch quick sight of them, but wouldn't linger. The quiet world was mine--not empty, but full of things I noticed, because I was by myself. And my writing flowed...

I think it was a gift from Sarge. Sometimes he knows just what I need, and he gives it to me, even if it is inconvenient. I returned better than new.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Little Love

I've been just sort of sitting here in Brooklyn (well, not literally but figuratively) trying to chase away the weeping woohoos--and it's come to my attention that others are doing the same thing in their corners of the world.

I'm going to try to post something that makes me happy every day for awhile, beginning with a little giveaway--

I've knitted up some small cotton dishrags to give away to anyone who wants one; I've got seven, so the first seven people who ask for one can have one (if there are seven who do). They are very nice and sturdy, and I like them better than sponges, and they do their lil tiny part for the environment, I suppose.

Here they are:

My other nice thing for today is Hedgehog, rocking out on her bass:

I leave you with some hugs and smooches--

Don't forget to tell me in the comments if you want a dish rag, and if you don't you can say hi anyway and get a virtual squeeze!

xo Leah

P.S.: for anyone who would like a little dish cloth, just don't forget to send me your address info. Email me at

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm a collector (let's not say a hoarder) by nature: beads, books, buttons, yarn, china dogs, vintage bakelite dresser sets, kawaii, pressed glass, vintage textiles, comic books, postcards, cards for my stereopticon...I won't go on...

But my favorite collection is the stack of humble hand made dish cloths that sits on the shelf above my kitchen counter. Each of these was made for me by a different lady, given through swaps, as gifts, just to be sweet. I treasure their homey cottony presence in my kitchen; they are good will and sentiment, the kindness of strangers; they recall an earlier time, before dishwashers and even cellulose sponges and paper towels. Sometimes I spend a moment or two staring at them, thinking of the many hands that made them for me, and I feel a little brighter, buoyed and cheerful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We Have Winners!

Okay, it's 12:01 a.m. and I've put my number into the random number generator, and come up with...


Megan, you've won yourself a hand-knitted scarf. Let me know via comments or email what color(s) you might like and I'll go dive into my stash!

Now, as for my other contest. A few brave souls volunteered ideas for objects of fetish. I had a really really hard time deciding between all the great ideas, and in fact you can look forward (?) to seeing some of their suggestions in my "what am I fetishising today" box in the next week or two.

However, I have to go with the lorgnette as my favorite, and so the winner of the custom amigurumi is


MJ, let me know via email or comments what you would like to see in an amigurumi, and I'll wield my crochet hook with impunity.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


just a small sample of my voluminous stash

Update: since I'm closing the contest and drawing for it after midnight tonight, I thought I'd repost in case anyone else wants to get in on the action...

I have finally sent off the special custom socks to the winners of my last contest, and now have a hankering to hold another one!

Today I kick off my Six Months without Shopping, and in honor of this hopeful endeavor I am going to dig into my massive stash of fancy and colorful yarns for the latest prize.

The prize: winner's choice--either a cozy scarf made out of some lovely natural fiber, or a set of ball-band dishcloths, knitted just for you. I have such a huge stash that the winner can probably choose a color and I'm willing to bet I have it on hand!

How to enter: just leave a comment on this post by midnight of tonight (Tuesday October 6). I will number the comments and hold a random drawing.

That's it! I hope you'll enter. You can be from any part of the world; I'm not picky.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

In Honor of Love

Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. Thirteen years married, but nearly 19 years together from the first kiss to this moment. In honor of love, here are some of my favorite couples; friends, lovers, requited, unrequited, thrilled, longing--obsessed, in thrall, in sympathy, in love, in like--persevering, I've found all of these things with Sarge over the last two decades.

Laura & Almanzo,
Severus & Lily,
Thompson & Thomson,
Eva & Max,
and us