Thanksgiving is sort of a weird holiday for me – my kids are with their dad, so in the past I usually did a “widows and orphans” Thanksgiving meal for those who were otherwise alone. Lately, with Bernardo, we’ve just had a quiet but joyful day; my best friend Rachel (who is BellaG on Ravelry) comes over, Bernardo and I cook, Rachel knits, Gina buzzes around all of us, and then we go on a long walk after dinner.
Hunkering down is good. It sort of marks the beginning of the cold season, when we won’t be outside much (except to ski) anyway. At this point, we are allowed to begin consuming the things I canned over the summer – pickled watermelon rind, pickled green cherry tomatoes, peaches, tomatoes. The knitting projects get serious. I make yogurt; I begin thinking once again about making cheese (perhaps this year I will actually do it).
Renovating this house – as traumatic and hectic as it can get – has shown us all the love that Mr. and Mrs. Delpriori put into taking care of their family. We have so much reverence for that. Our shed is finally built, and we’ve been migrating things out to it from the basement. Soon there will be a pool table in the basement, and Bernardo will have his friends Charlie and John over for games and cigars, and I will have more quiet time that I know what to do with – for reading, and (for lack of a better word) “decorating” (I guess I prefer “organizing this household for once and for all” but I know that’s one of those Holy Grails. I am certainly not making cheese while they’re smoking cigars).
We are settled. It’s taken a full year, officially – moving in together, even when you’ve lived practically next door to each other for 9 years, is no easy task. Throw in an autistic young woman, a college girl who’s passionate about EVERYTHING, a teenage daughter who would like to be punk except she’s got too much of a sense of humor, a big black dog and a small cinnamon bunny, and it’s a lot of…bouncing up and down. (And hot flashes on my part.)
But it’s good. It’s so good. It’s stable and loving and full of the best kind of work – making things, raising kids, helping people. Cooking amazing meal after amazing meal. Finding our way with one another and with this island – Staten Island is a world unto itself, and I have fallen completely in love with it. This Sunday we are taking a Very Big Step: we have chosen a church to join.
So yes, I am grateful. For Bernardo and this life we’re creating together. For this gorgeous house, and the love that keeps pouring into it. For my girlies, who teach me so much. For Gina, who daily demonstrates a world of innovation. For my work, which is so very fulfilling; for my colleagues, who keep me honest and inspired. For Rachel, who is my anchor (it is impossible to say which one of us is Watson and which is Holmes). For Mollydog and Lucybun, who are unfailingly entertaining and cuddly. For this weird island, for harbor life.
Tonight I am making chili (kind of my go-to for Eves, whether Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter). Bernardo is out at a Kiwanis meeting. Gina burbles in the living room – chili is one of her favorite meals. (There will also be an avocado/radicchio salad with feta and raspberry vinaigrette – she is a fiend for that one.)
And tomorrow, I will roast a duck (I am not big on turkey). I will make a sage stuffing (with a tiny bit of sausage), and mashed potatoes. I will make creamed spinach. Bernardo will make cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie (we have two little cooking pumpkins ready to be roasted). There will be knitting and football and long walks in leaf piles. There will be phone calls and texts and Facebook conversations.
There will be love.
He knew what he was doing. If he redefined what it was to be American, it was because he meant to. He wanted change. He wanted to confuse, to disrupt, to tear it up.
Last spring, in our frenzied landscaping, Bernardo and I broke up and re-planted a bunch of hostas and lilies of the valley. The roots of both of these plants are rhizomes – if you cut off a piece of the root, a new plant will grow from that piece. Rhizomes are cool because you can disrupt a plot and create a new one – molding the plant’s growth according to the changing demands of your garden.
The effects of Books in Browsers 2012 are still with me. Peter Brantley, the organizer of the conference, describes our collective epiphany this way in Publishers Weekly:
What we witnessed, to cite John Maxwell from Simon Fraser University, was a transcendence of contemporary publishing. BiB speakers were not trying to repair or modernize publishing. Rather, they were designing new solutions for a world in which story-telling takes advantage of networked tools for sharing insights and art. Such solutions may well lead many existing publishers into new and exciting places; on the other hand, they may not. BiB did not speak to it: indeed, nothing at BiB served to “obsolete” or replace publishing. But it is clear that we are on the threshold of an explosion of new services, spreading across many niches of story-telling that never before were beneficiaries of Internet technologies.
As Maxwell notes, we are watching a divesture of literature from the act of publishing as we have conceived it for the last 150 years. It was that insight of BiB that chilled everyone in the Sanctuary to the bone that Friday morning. How we publish – how we tell stories – is increasingly liberated from the formerly necessary contributions of companies like Random House and Penguin, Hachette and Simon & Schuster. Simply put, these firms are no longer necessary for the creation of literature. They may present significant advantages in marketing, production, and for years yet, in the distribution of print. Yet, as authors gather the spirits within themselves to create, they will increasingly draw up a panoply of online tools and services that could not care a whit for all that made publishing possible in the past.
In Deleuzian terms, those of us who were so moved at this conference are diverting the flow of publishing, creating something altogether new. Taking the rhizomes of what we know – storytelling, expression, documentation, encoding, promulgation – and breaking them up, replanting them in a different way. Changing the landscape one root system at a time.
And with intent. Deliberately, intentionally, tearing it up. In my BiB presentation, I talked about evolution. But what I felt at BiB was in fact a disruption. And it left me, and a lot of other people, all shook up.
Gradually, we are achieving normalcy in the yellow house.
Yesterday, we felt the need to put our hands on our home – Bernardo went back to work painting the basement and re-organizing, prepping for when our shed is completed and we can put all the gardening supplies outside. I did a few mounds of laundry, finished turning over the closet to the fall season, sussing out some donations (a neighbor down the street, who’s very plugged into supply and demand post-Sandy, is collecting) as I did so. In the afternoon, I took Molly for a walk around the neighborhood – the gas lines are a weird repulsive attraction for me; I remember the gas lines from the 1970s, but I hate how people argue and carry on in the middle of the street.
We raked the leaves in the front yard. The air was brisk, and a neighbor had a fire going. We took our beers into the backyard, and surveyed – Bernardo had kept the pool cover on through the hurricane, and we had only a couple of pieces of shingle on the ground. Two baseballs blew into the yard – Molly discovered them and promptly shredded their covers.
We came inside and watched a movie on the computer while making dinner. It felt good to be tired.
In the night, Molly stole a bag of couscous and ate it dry. She’s been mischievous lately – I think she’s been unsettled by the hurricane; Bernardo thinks she’s just hungrier because the weather’s colder.
This morning Bernardo was out on the golf course. He’ll return to the basement chores while I polish all the brass fixtures in the house. We’ll keep putting our hands on our home, grateful that we have it.
Let me begin by saying I do not know, but I think Mike Cane is okay. His undisclosed location is on a hill; I know from the Con Ed map that it is also suffering massive power outages.
We are also okay. We have no power or heat, but we have run an extension cord to the next-door-neighbor’s – they are on a different grid and their power was restored on Tuesday night. So we have internet, and various cooking functions, and are swapping the power between our two refrigerators every 2 hours.
We have a fire in the fireplace, and plenty of blankets and sweaters, and a space-heater for when things get real bad.
Staten Island is kind of like Sicily in that it has a lot of hills (non-volcanic, mercifully) surrounded by coastline. The coasts, particularly the South Shore, are what took the brunt of the beating. So far, there are 14 confirmed deaths, but they haven’t done the house-to-house searching yet because the floodwaters are still high. There are a lot of downed power lines all over the island. Statistically, Staten Island suffered the worst power outages of the 5 boroughs in terms of population – around 75% of homes and businesses were without power. Even Manhattan’s below-34th-street-outage did not compare with SI’s per capita outage. (I feel like I need to say this because we are often “the forgotten borough”.) Now, about 2/3 of the island is back online, according to Con Ed, but so far that has not reached our house (why yes, I am cranky, how did you guess?).
The biggest concern here seems to be procuring gas for cars and generators. We are getting some new shipments in periodically but it’s not enough to satisfy demand.
The devastation in Tottenville and on the East Shore is pretty breathtaking. Not just trees and smashed cars, but whole homes and families washed away. Boats lifted out of the marinas and pushed onto streets. A water tanker washed ashore.
We’ll be all right. Normal will come slowly, and then suddenly.