I had a very exciting December 30th. It began with my waking up for real at 7:12, not all that long before the 8am train that I was supposed to be on. I’m quite proud of myself for actually making it there, since I’m usually very slow in the morning. But I was, indeed, on time for the train, so I got to spend two and a half hours with my college friend K as we headed up to New York. (We swapped rather similar midwinter holiday gifts: I gave her some homemade granola, she gave me some dried fruit from the farm in Argentina where she’s been working.)

When we got to New York, K headed off to Connecticut, and I made my way to Ess-a-Bagel for brunch (whitefish salad on pumpernickel) and half a dozen bagels to bring home. I’m glad I got there when I did, as there were only two pumpernickel bagels left! I ate my brunch on a sunny bench in Stuyvesant Square and then headed toward SoHo. I was intending to take a bus, really I was, but I started walking, paused once for a bus that turned out to be a Limited when I was at a local stop, and then just kept going on foot. (It’s ridiculous, sometimes, the way I just don’t like waiting for buses. I swear, one of the reasons I picked yesterday for my trip to The City was that I could take an odd number of rides on buses/subways and no longer have an odd number of dollars on my metrocard. Didn’t work–I wound up not using any intra-city transit except between 30th St. and my apartment.)

There were several tables of people selling things on the south side of Houston, and I picked up a birthday present for my mom from one of them: really pretty earrings that were copper that I suppose was really, really thinly enameled and then chipped away in certain places so you could see the copper again. (It’s funny, I think the last time I bought something from an artisan-vendor there, it was a different kind of copper earrings…)

A few minutes later, I realized I was at Houston and Sullivan with an hour and a half ’til I was supposed to meet Cassie at Purl (about a block away). Silly me, I was worried about getting there in time! So I had plenty of time to wander in and out of several Tibetan-import stores, the Evolution store (lots of fossils and specimens; Jill, I thought of you while I was admiring the beetle and spider and scorpion keychains), and a more generic East-Asian-import store that also sells lots of beads. I bought a stone torus to become a pendant. And then I wandered back toward Purl.

I was very tempted by Purl’s selection of Lorna’s Laces. Sockish yarn in flame colors, and a lone skein of Helen’s Lace in a color they called Pewter for no reason I could see. I have never seen green pewter, but I’ll grant that it was a very greyish green. It would’ve been absolutely perfect for the Peacock Feather shawl (and cheaper than the two skeins of Fleece Artist that I still haven’t actually ordered) except that it was already pilling. I stood around for a while, staring at it and going back and forth about whether the pilling would be a problem, and then Cassie (who is, unsurprisingly, as cool in person as on the internet) arrived and nudged me toward my final decision that, since I was concerned about it, it wasn’t quite worth what it would’ve cost (in both money and potential frustration).

And then we headed to The Point for coffee and knitting. Mmm, that’s a nice yarn store. (It might be nicer with a teensy bit more space, but I realize that it’s in Manhattan and space is at a premium.) Good coffee, a place to knit, and lots of yarn to admire. We were particularly intrigued by the sock yarn that said it had aloe vera and jojoba in it, perhaps to moisturize one’s feet, or perhaps to keep one’s hands moist while knitting… Oh, and the gigantic boxes stuffed full of Fleece Artist yarn. Heh. Alas, no miracles–they did not include the exact yarn I want. (Had I the Lotus Blossom pattern and no shawls on needles, I might’ve gotten one of the sort of brownish-bricky-pinkish skeins of bfl, but I Have Priorities.)

After a lovely afternoon of knitting and talking, Cassie went home, and I went to the Strand. Yay, books. I was extremely virtuous in the two yarn stores, coming away with only a birthday present for Ella. (Happy Birthday, Ella!) So, I suppose, it was bound to happen that I’d spend relative lots of money on books… At least it was under $30, including a book I picked up for my mom. I’m especially happy with two of my acquisitions: a hardcover of HP6 for $12 (it’s the Bloomsbury kids’ edition, which has an atrocious cover illustration that I may have to conceal with wrapping paper, but $12!) and a three-in-one edition of Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Trilogy for $4. I have a picture of my (non-food) purchases, so anyone except Ella who wants to look can click here.

When I decided that I had to leave the Strand lest I spend money I really didn’t have on books, I headed off toward Penn Station for the train home. I picked up some fancy salad bar food for dinner (I wasn’t hungry enough to eat before getting on the train–that was a large bagel with a lot of whitefish salad) on the way, and went to the NJTransit waiting area. I would’ve gotten on the 7:03, but the sign by the stairs said it was a peak train, and I had an off-peak ticket. Same with the 7:13, and there still wasn’t anyone in the waiting area or by the bottom of the stairs whom I could ask. By the time the 7:29 train was boarding, I figured something fishy was going on and found my way to the (line-free!) customer service window and confirmed that, although the sign still said peak, it really was an off-peak train. So I got on, got to Trenton four minutes after the Septa train left and 56 minutes before the next one, and then got to sit on the Septa train in Croydon for an hour while an Amtrak train in front of us had some kind of breakdown. I’m really beginning to wonder whether I should plan on hour-long unscheduled stops in southbound train rides, after the hour in Charlottesville last week. But we did get to Philly around midnight…

…And I (sort of obviously) hadn’t lit candles yet, having been in various trains or train stations. So, not wanting to either blow out the Chanukah candles or stay up too insanely late, I cut the candles in half before putting them in the menorah. Not exactly orthodox, but that’s a pretty good descriptor for much of my life.

Tonight? Well, I’ve been exhausted all day, what with all of the activity of the last few days three weeks two months, and I have a long-standing policy of not going to parties out of a feeling of obligation. (Work parties, held during the workday, I may attend for up to ten minutes out of obligation, but that’s about it.) So, instead of going to the two parties I’d planned on, I’m spending the evening with my adorable kitten, and I’m hoping I’ll feel fully rested and refreshed for the new year. I’m going to get ready for bed as soon as I finish this post or when tonight’s candles burn down, whichever’s later.

Happy New Year, everyone, and a happy (almost-)birthday to Cara!