Wednesday, April 30, 2008


For a few of my readers, those three letters may mean nothing. For others of you, they are synonymous with super geek black glasses frames and the unmistakable voice of Ira Glass. RJR got me into the podcasts on long trips back and forth from PA to LF and now I'm spreading the love. He is slightly more of a fan than I, hence we are going to see, in a theatre, with surround sound (so advertises the banner ad on their site) a big screen event of This American Life. This all takes place tomorrow night.

Now typically the radio program features stories from plain old Americans. This event however will have images. There is an accompanying TV show now that I've never experienced. In part, because I think it will make me annoyed.

Plain old Americans aren't that nice to look at. We have goofy mannerisms that detract from the story. Our fashion is often bad. On the radio, I suspend all judgment and listen for the plot to unfold, to scare me, to thrill me, to make me chuckle or perplex me.

I'll try to bring you back a full Ira style report after tomorrow evening. Too bad I won't be wearing my new glasses yet, they are of a great librarian style that Ira and his minions would approve.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

back to reality

Basically, I'm a little slow in getting back to reality after being away last week. And, I'm still reveling in the trip. Scholarship, cities, good friends, warm sun, roadtrip CDs, gelato...what you might ask does gelato have to do with Urban Studies or a person who cannot consume dairy?

The answer is Pitango Gelato.

They have sorbet. Non-dairy, organic, delicious sorbet. Locally cultivated, nothing artificial. In Fells Point in Baltimore. Oh my gosh. Of course, there is a price tag to match, but, mojito sorbet? With real mint? Please.

I had 1/2 and 1/2: Tangerine and Mojito. My traveling companion selected Bourbon Vanilla and Coconut reports that the dairy choices are just as tasty. Must find an equivalent in or near the Capital District. If you know of one, please post below--the summer is swiftly approaching and I need to not loathe ice cream eaters--much better to find my own indulgent treat.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Baltimore in bloom

I am at a conference of the Urban Affairs Association and loving every minute of it. Such incredible scholarship and amazing people. Last night after my presentation, I went out with a number of colleagues to meander the Inner Harbor. The weather was perfect for a drink on the terrace overlooking the water. This morning I skipped the standard hotel breakfast to wander a bit for a bagel and a decent cup of coffee. I ended up in Federal Hill at the Metropolitan. A most perfect, quiet way to spend the morning. All around the narrow streets were dogwoods, lilacs, and other spring blooms.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

spring on my street


Blossom of the apple trees!
Mossy trunks all gnarled and hoary,
Grey boughs tipped with rose-veined glory,
Clustered petals soft as fleece
Garlanding old apple trees!

How you gleam at break of day!
When the coy sun, glancing rarely,
Pouts and sparkles in the pearly
Pendulous dewdrops, twinkling gay
On each dancing leaf and spray.

Through your latticed boughs on high,
Framed in rosy wreaths, one catches
Brief kaleidoscopic snatches
Of deep lapis-lazuli
In the April-coloured sky.

When the sundown's dying brand
Leaves your beauty to the tender
Magic spells of moonlight splendour,
Glimmering clouds of bloom you stand,
Turning earth to fairyland.

Cease, wild winds, O, cease to blow!
Apple-blossom, fluttering, flying,
Palely on the green turf lying,
Vanishing like winter snow;
Swift as joy to come and go.

Mathilde Blind

(Mathilde Blind, an important late-Victorian poet, biographer, novelist, essayist, translator and editor, was born Mathilde Cohen in Mannheim, Germany in 1841. Mathilde's radical politics – which would eventually be felt in her strong feminist and socialist works – helped to engender a considerable independence of mind which was evident as early as her school years. Due to her increasingly unorthodox views...She was subsequently expelled from school for atheism and later she followed her hero George Eliot in her commitment to the work of David Friedrich Strauss. -The Literary Encyclopedia.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

etsy love

One :: Pink Fire Designs

Two & Three :: VerreEncore

Four :: ES Designs


The last time I was on a bike was in Florida in 2005. We had nice touring bikes that we rode along the shoreline. Yeah the sand was tricky at first, but it made for a soft fall should you tumble. The bikes were also standard touring style, no hunching over and a very comfortable seat. Very comfortable. In Philly, I watched my 540B housemates take their bikes everywhere! Busy roads. Parks. Cobblestones! Totally inspiring me to conquer my fear of riding in the city.

Yesterday, RJR and I took off on two bikes that are on loan to us from friends. They live in Queens, and with a new baby soon to arrive, all the non-essentials were getting kicked out of the apartment. Hence, we are like the godparents to these bikes, keeping watch over them and making sure they get out and about, taking them down the right path--ha ha!

Our destination yesterday afternoon was Washington Park. All sorts of individuals and families were out enjoying the glorious sun. What those unsuspecting folks did not know was that I was also out there amongst them, a newbie. Tottering about in a balancing act--dodging the other riders and moms with strollers. And one point we crossed a footbridge over a stream and this guy, fishing rod in hand, waited for me to slowly pedal up the arched bridge before he cast his suspicious looking bait into the foamy water below. I apologized for my slowness, he just chuckled.

Surprisingly, I made it back entirely in one piece. The boyfriend was infinitely patient with my questions about shifting gears and the fact that I walked the last hill to the house. That was yesterday. Today, I am realizing that a touring bike has that seat for a reason. Oh, pain.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Decisions, decisions.

I was going to start a new blog for my sewing and design business, but now I'm trying to determine if I really have time and energy to manage two of these things. Hmmm...for now, I'll merely say that Five40B will be selling at the Art on Lark Festival June 21st here in Albany, with the possible addition of a special guest...more to come soon!

housewarmed 2

Catching up on posting. Still having trouble with the batteries on my camera. Only managed to get three photos before it went dead.

Before the other beverages arrived.

S setting out the food.

Table decoration.

red shoes

Spring splurge.

Clarks, Bluebird in Dark Red Patent Leather.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

going quiet

I am sick.

Achy, sneezy, sore throat, watching stupid CW shows, yucky sick. Dwell.urban will have to wait this week until I'm healthy again.

Wherever you are, be well!

Monday, April 14, 2008


I have been housewarmed.

Saturday evening a great group of folks assembled at Blue Elm to share each other's company and enjoy tasty food. RJR was an amazing help with cleaning on Thursday evening. S & J arrived early Saturday to help me cook and decorate. We were pleasantly surprised with a 70 degree day and took advantage of it by walking to the grocer to collect the remaining items for the festivities. With a variety of eating preferences present, we differentiated the dishes with tags that had the name of the dish and then its status: vegan, vegetarian, definitely not vegan, etc.

This tag system should have been foolproof, but apparently "Chicken" in quotes under which (vegan) was listed actually did fool a few folks. Which was hilarious. It was a meat free party, but that definitely tripped some of them up. I walked away with some splendid wines, plenty of leftovers, a delightful set of serving pieces, a beautifully framed antique liturgical house blessing, candles, a frame, flavored coffee, and veggie seeds to start inside. All tremendously heartwarming.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

poaching pics

Whirlwind of a few days included me driving down and back to Delaware in one day yesterday. 12 hours in the car. Ugh.

So, no creative brain today. And, since I'm hosting a "Welcome B to Albany housewarming party" this evening, there is definitely no new material going up this morning. I am going to share with you a photo taken by my youngest bro, K, or as I often call him Little Buddy. Great morale booster for a 22 year old. He is taking some smashing photos lately and I figured the internets should see them, in the universe beyond facebook where he rules the land. Who has 532 friends and 649 photos of themselves tagged?

Last week he was in NYC for a business competition where his team from RWC came in first, again. Now they head to Chi-town for nationals. They will win. I'm sure of it. This pic was taken later that weekend when the crew was out and about in the Big Apple.

The angle on this is sweet.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

internets and kimya

The concert last night was so very fun! Pictures to follow.

I'm writing this from home, yee ha! Internets connected and now I can work from home or dawdle at home.

Since I have the web with me now, here is a tiny excerpt from one of Kimya's songs:

"and now I do and it's not much
but it's enough
I've got my Scrabble game, food on my plate, good friends and family
and now there's you understanding why I do the things I do
knowing that you do them too makes me really happy"

that makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


One of the things I appreciate most about this new season in my life (being part of the work a day world, instead of the student life) is that I am better about routines and rituals. These daily moments bring me great joy and satisfaction. Taking care of my body and my soul brings me more pleasure now that taking care of my brain is only one part of the process. Graduate studies emphasized the brain. Now, I am feeling a bit more whole and it is largely due to some newly incorporated daily exercises or practices.

In the morning, before departing for work, I have taken to journeying through elements of Ignatian Spirituality. For now, I am using the Suscipe prayer that reads:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

This centering practice reminds me every day that I am whole. It also reminds me that I have enough. That love and grace are enough. I like to be online, to find one more amazingly handcrafted item that I would like to add to my collection. But the truth is, that in and of itself is not fulfilling my larger need to be content.

After the prayer and meditation, I'll move on to 10 minutes of yoga or pilates. And then my day unfolds into more mundane tasks like packing my lunch or finding my always misplaced glasses. Later in the day, when the stress of life starts to pile up, I've found "That is enough for me" gently nudging me along.

Another life-giving reflection is the Prayer for Generosity also by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

May your day be centered and true. May you find joy in what is enough. May you find yourself giving without counting the cost.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

sing me a song

Um yeah, I'm going to see her, tomorrow. Rockin' the streets of my own neighborhood will be national recording artist Kimya Dawson who was recently featured on the Juno soundtrack. Recommend the movie. Recommend the music. Dawson's songs are both whimsical and childlike, fresh and wonderful.

The concert is a benefit for the Albany Free School, which as it happens, I pass every day on my walk down Elm Street to work. I'm not a stalker, but I do love to watch the kids and parents amble up the steps to the school. I can only imagine the creative adventures the small ones find inside. Oh, and remember how I mentioned boarded up!? Well, the concert is going to be held in that space, very cool.

Monday, April 7, 2008

super saturday

Saturday was so grand! I got up bright and early, hit up the hardware store for some essentials, grabbed a coffee, and got to work. Planted my precious organic herb seeds out on the back deck/porch--without a jacket! Warm(er) weather does me good. After planting all those little buggers, I cleaned the apartment top to bottom and hung a few more pictures around the space. Didn't manage to get in any sewing, but I did take a long walk to enjoy the sun and made a collage. In addition, I made some serious progress on a paper for a conference in June. This weekend made all my other Saturdays look like weaklings.

I cheated just a bit on the seedlings by also purchasing two narcissus plants on crack. Or, at least they look that way considering that they have grown nearly 2 inches since Saturday. Immediate gratification as contrasted with the delayed gratification of the seeds. This photo shows one of the bulb planters on Saturday. I'm going to keep taking photos all week to document the growth...also giving me some internal satisfaction that life does grow and change beyond the reality we know now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

friday feature : : first fridays

First Fridays are everywhere now and Albany is no exception. Tonight's event promises some strong showings. Some of which I saw on my way to work this morning. Every day I pass by an old church that is being retrofitted to contain an arts center--the Grand Street Arts Center to be specific. The interior of the space still needs work, so in the meantime they have a show on display outside called boarded up!

The boards were all designed by local artists and rotate on the first of the month. Here is a new set that I passed this phone being less than desirable, yet still a worthy capture.

I really like the map format for 1st Fridays here. Maybe more cities will take this approach.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

fabric find

Fabric is one of those things that you can never have too much of. Ok, maybe too much for your space, but not too much in an over-the-top, oh-my-gosh, who-could-use-this? way.

My sister-in-law recently introduced me to a magical store in Fairport, NY called Crafts Bits and Pieces. It is unlikely that you will be won over by their website. However, the contents of this village shop are a madcap collection of cast offs: knitting needles, yarn for hooked rugs, embroidery hoops, buttons, beads, pipe cleaners, baskets, scrapbooking supplies, and yes, FABRIC! Tiny pieces and larger pieces. All priced at about 50 cents a yard. Yes, 50 cents. The scraps are carefully measured, tagged, and bound with yarn to make hundreds of small bundles arranged by color and weight: cotton, wool, etc. You can't unbind these bundles in the store so you are never quite sure what the patterns might be.

Hence, my fabric find. Saturday, when I was in Rochester, I visited the shop with J and we piled our baskets full of pieces. Some future projects came to mind, but largely it is a treasure hunt to unpack when you get home. I snagged a muted purple and mauve patterned bundle that was just the weight I was looking for, not quite broadcloth, but more substantial than your basic cotton.

When I got home, I unwrapped the said bundles only to find that the mauve wave pattern was a yard and a half of vintage MARIMEKKO! From 1967! You can see in the blurry photos the design and date stamp. Here is an exhibit posting that shows the pattern in full, only in different colorways--its the wavy pattern in the second photo and in the last. Called Albatrossi, the pattern was discussed in greater detail in a design journal here.

Stay tuned for Albatrossi's next iteration in the 540B collection.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

trash raider

I love to rescue items from the trash heap. That pile of belongings out by your garbage can the night before they pick it up--I might be going through it on my evening walk. I have successfully raided chairs, shelves, knick knacks, books, magazines, and more. And I'm proud of it.

Sunday I pulled a chair out of a dumpster in Little Falls, NY. Hardwood frame. Musty vinyl seat. Sturdy construction. From my fabric stash I pulled out a coveted piece of Amy Butler design that I had been saving for something. It found its match.

The back still needs some work, but I'm in an R&D phase trying to determine the best approach. Then a nice coat of shine to the wood and a throw pillow and it will be all set.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

early spring

It can be difficult here to determine when spring has arrived. Today it is nearly 60--wet, warm, and rainy. Tomorrow the temperature is expected to be 45. Fickle, turbulent spring.

Yet also, as Rilke reminds us, Spring is soft, new, and growing.


Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows' wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.

Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming