Join Nancy "Drew" as she explores the 212 area code (and more), posts tried-and-true recipes, learns to knit, reviews books, links to interesting articles and Web sites, and shares stories about a particularly adorable tortoise-shell cat.

212 Nancy Drew

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

4th of July Update

But first, I digress. Mom and her friend Colleen are visiting Minneapolis/St. Paul for the day and they called me for suggestions on where to eat and I couldn't think of any places they might like. Part of the problem was that I could mainly thing of "ethnic" eateries like Taste of Thailand or Sawatdee, which they would not like. I'm not sure what my lack of memory means, but now it's really bugging me.

So, back to the 4th of July. Not feeling like hanging out on the FDR (essentially a highway with no bathrooms or chairs) on a really hot day and having been to busy to get tickets to get into work, I decided that I would try going on the roof of my apartment building. While the view was not as spectacular as it is when you camp out for hours near the water thanks to a big building between ours and the East River, it still saved a lot of time and was pretty comfortable. Also, from that vantage point, the fireworks were actually at eye level which was interesting for a change. And, we could also see the fireworks set off near the Brooklyn Bridge and by Battery Park in the distance. The best park was not having smoke or firework debris falling on my head.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Again -- Salif Keita

Last Friday, I was lucky to see Salif Keita for the fourth time. This time, it was at the Apollo Theater in Harlem -- my first time there (to the Apollo, not to Harlem). This review in the Washington Post really sums up the concert even though it describes the DC show. You can also hear an interview from PRI's The World on the significane of his performace at the Apollo. Listen >>

In NYC, the show kicked off with a group of amazing drummers from Senegal. I didn't catch their name, but if I find out, I'll let you know. It was really loud and energetic, and I was hit with pieces of their bamboo drumsticks that flew off into the audience -- I was seated in the second row.

Once Salif came out, barefoot, it was fabulous as usual. I was a little disappointed that he didn't play my favorite songs, choosing to focus instead on more recent releases, which are amazing all the same. This time, he also featured the musicians playing with him, legends themselves.

When people started rushing the stage, I was really regretting being in the second row. I was seriously afraid of being crushed, but I should have expected that because this happens at all West African concerts and Salif, himself, was encouraging it. At one point, he embraced an albino boy on stage and it was really touching.

You can hear Salif for yourself in an interview, with music, on a recent version of WNYC's Soundcheck (fast forward 24 minutes unless you're interested in hearing an interview with Robert Plant. Listen >>

P.S. Happy Fourth of July!

Finally relaxed

After two weeks of whirlwind activities, I'm finally feeling a bit relaxed after taking yesterday just to lay around. I expect more of the same today. I'll catch you up on what has happend since 20 June over the next few days.

First off, congratulations to Dad who finished a half marathon on 25 June. I have no idea how many times he has finished half marathons in his life, but to still be doing so at 61 is impressive.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

E-Mail Surprise

Every now and then, a nice surprise winds up in my e-mail box. The latest surprise is a visit next week from Fanny, a French exchange student who lived in Cedar Falls our senior year. We've kept in touch over the years from time to time and I have seen her in France two or three times. She lives in London now, but will be in NJ on a business visit next week. She sent a photo and she hasn't changed a bit (center). Neither has Cristina, another foreign exchange student from Brazil. That's her mom on the right and this was taken on Fanny's visit to Rio. Do they look great or what? They haven't aged a bit!

Cristina, Fanny and Tania

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Another new neighborhood

Yesterday I was invited to a BBQ hosted by an informal group of French-speaking Africans from work, mostly from Niger and Congo (DRC). Having never trekked to Roosevelt Island and since the weather was fabulous, we made the trip. We started out having to use the F train since the tram is not working at the moment. The station is VERY far underground, reminiscent of some of the stations in Washington, DC. Since I assumed the island was small, I was suprised to learn that we needed to take a shuttle to get to Lighthouse Park, a historic place, and then walk a bit more to the BBQ location. Turns out the island itself is two miles long. But, we had a good time with lots of food and music and nice, quiet views of passing boats and the Upper East Side.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

An amazing find

Last night, while scanning the NPR Blog Mixed Signals, I found this amazing site: I routinely scout around the internet to find the archives of shows I like and missed, but this site allows you to see what shows are streaming at any particular time which is great because not all shows put their archives online for free.

Last night, I checked in and had so many choices -- This American Life, BBC, and more, but I chose the CBC's As it Happens and I wasn't disappointed. Did you know that Canada has its own gangs? I also heard about a woman who came home to a bear eating cereal out of a bowl in her kitchen. I love that show. Turns out they also have a "best of" podcast, too!

Now I'm going to listen to Zorba Paster On Your Health, a show I haven't heard since I lived in Minneapolis, but I seriously considered listening to Calling All Pets, a show I've never even heard about before. The choices are overwhelming!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Happy Birthday, Robin

Yesterday was Robin's 30th birthday. So, happy birthday a day late! We'll celebrate together when she comes to visit NYC in a few weeks.

In keeping with my new tradition, I'm going to post an embarrasing photo of my family members on their birthdays. Here is one of Robin (and me), circa 1979 (I think). Robin is on the right and the photo was taken in Waterloo, Iowa.

Nancy and Robin

Those scarves look hand-knit. I'm not sure where they came from and I'm sure I didn't appreciate the work put into them at the same time.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What is that?

Yesterday, I went over to Brooklyn to the Dance Africa 2006 bazaar. I was expecting to see lots of African items and was disappointed to see, again, that it was mainly West Indian, or Caribbean, vendors. Oh well. I did see a lot of nice African art and expensive fabrics, including some beautiful mud cloth. The best find, though, was some unrefined shea butter direct from Ghana. The woman selling it assured me that it would solve any skin problem I might have and I was really excited to try it out on my dry feet last night, but since I fell asleep on the couch, I don't have any results to report yet. I'm hesitant to rub "butter" on myself that seems like it might ruin the counch. Anyway, here is a photo of my find.
Unrefined Shea Butter

If it really works, I'll let you know. And don't worry. I'm not going to eat it. She warned me that I could eat it in Africa, but not here. Good to know, though there was zero chance I'd put something in my mouth that she scooped out of a dirty-looking gourd. You can click here for someone else's photo of a similar stand in Harlem or here for a similar stand in Tucson. Have I mentioned that I love Flickr?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is mom's 60th birthday. I wish I were in Florida with her, but it's hot enough here in NYC for me... Anyway, she'll probably be visting NYC soon.

Just to embarrass her, here is a photo of the two of us taken a few years back. Mom is the one on the left, not the middle. :)

Mom and me

Feel free to leave birthday wishes for her here in the comments.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Congrats, Sam!

Last Saturday, Sam invited me to celebrate his graduation (master's) at a cook-out in Brooklyn.

I didn't take my camera, so I, sadly, don't have a photo of me with Sam, but Sam did snap a photo of me with David, whom I hadn't seen since I moved from the Twin Cities. Have we changed? Not TOO much...

David and Nancy

It was the one nice day is string of rainy days, so the afternoon was well spent. I also met another Luther grad, Scott, his family, and a bunch of Sam's friends. It was probably the most Iowa connections I've made since I lived there.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cute Baby Alert

I don't think I posted anything about Huon's arrival down-under at the end of March. As you can see in this picture, he's doing fine, as is his "Mum," Michelle, my former co-worker who moved back to Australia in December.


Doesn't it seem like babies are always cuter wearing hats?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mistaken Identity

As someone who, in her third year of work at this job, routinely answers to the names of Laura, Michelle, Susan and, yes, Jerena, I can totally understand this case of mistaken identity at the BBC. Pretty funny, but at little sad. Read it and watch the video>>

Friday, May 12, 2006

Building Update

I should have posted pictures of the building between now and January (see last post), but I haven't gotten around to it. For a long time, I wasn't home when it was light out, except for on the weekends. Or, it was too cold to open the window.

So, this was the view out my bedroom window (circa 8 February) just as the demolition was finishing (remember it started before Thanksgiving):

Here's the view as of today:

It doesn't look much different than it did back in January, but in reality, the previous post was demolishion and now they're building it back up. They just laid some concrete last week.

Although they start work at 7 a.m. and there are more than 20 workers there, the progress is going amazing slow.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Flamin' Hot Cheetos

Heard this on NPR this week -- a segment about how kids are crazy about Flamin' Hot Cheetos, listen >>. I wasn't even aware that this variety of Cheetos existed. I have to say now I'm curious even though it sounds kind of gross. I'm not sure I want to eat something that "makes my booty burn," according to one of the kids they interviewed. Turns out there is a baked version.

Maybe my curiousity runs in the family. Someone named J. Mann posted this comment on Mixed Signals... Is you Uncle Jim? Aunt Judy? Jeff? I think Jessica is too young to write.

I've never gotten high from Flaming Hot Cheetos or any spicy food. Now I feel like I've been missing out.

Sent by J. Mann | 5-10-2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Most of the week was quiet and even the weekend was quiet. I just finished some much-needed dusting and am feeling much better once I started taking Claritin again. Pollen was making me miserable!

Today, just to get out and enjoy the weather, I went down to Union Square to the Asian Pacific American festival. It was really crowded, so it was not that enjoyable. Also, I seem to be missing my sunglasses, turning me into a squinter on these sunny days. Anyway, I got a kick out of this crazy band called Peelander Z which was performing and blaring music all over the festival. These characters were dressed up in bright colored costumes and teaching the crowd a few words of Japanese while playing rock (?) music. Pretty funny. >> See what they look like on their Web site. Very crazy. They seem to have quite a following. I'm not sure if they converted me or if I'd actually pay to see them, but they did make me laugh.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Off to a slow start

My Sunday ritual, which starts with reading the NY Times, is off to a slow start since there is a furry obstacle in my way. I think this is a subtle hint from Zazie that I should start cleaning right away. She can barely make it into the bedroom thanks to the piles of clothes on the floor.

Zazie and the Sunday Paper

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday Humor

Maybe it doesn't take too much to crack me up, but I ran across these online postcards today while looking online for a place to buy vacuum belts in my neighborhood. I really do like my Oreck vacuum, but do I really want to send a postcard to someone? I thought about sending one to Dad who got me my cleaner one year for my birthday. Anyway, I have posted them here for your enjoyment.

Obsessive-compulsives united for a cleaner world

I'd rather be vacuuming

Maybe I need a more exciting life. Today, as an excuse to get out and enjoy the weather, I walked 20 blocks down to the new Trader Joe's and actually STOOD IN LINE to get into a grocery store. I kid you not. I wasn't the only one. Anyway, once there, I made all sorts of impulse buys and ended up having to take a taxi home. It was worth it though. I can't wait to try out the cranberry lemonade.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

New Blog I'm Loving

NPR has a new blog called "Mixed Signals" that I'm really loving. It may turn me back into the NPR junkie I used to be. I'm still a junkie, but not to the extent I used to be. Working at CNN, I watched CNN all day and working at a more traditional reference desk, I got used to the ubiquitous library quiet -- as quiet as it gets with protestors outside your window.

Anyway, here are a few samples from this week:

Best tool ever -- I'm now seriously considering wrapping duct tape around the spot the boot has worn raw on my leg.

Someone really loves the '80s -- Now I won't miss VHI playing 99 Luftballons continously for one hour tomorrow.

Contingency planning, maybe taken too far -- I'm not longer going to lose sleep wondering what will happen "During any period when both the Archivist of the United States (Archivist) and the Deputy Archivist of the United States (Deputy Archivist) have died, resigned, or otherwise become unable to perform". Phew.

These are just a few of the useful tidbits I've picked up since subsribing to this blog in my Bloglines account. They also have "Don't Miss" posts for actual NPR stories when I actually find time to listen on my own time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Elephants, again

Last night I stood outside in the cold waiting for the annual elephant run down 34th Street. Since my building is right on the route, don't worry, I didn't do much walking since I was able to simply stand in front of the building, but I did do some pacing since it was freezing out and the elephants were about an hour late. The atmosphere was jovial, though, which made it all manageable.

The previous two years, I just watched from my window, but this year I wanted to get my own photos. Too bad the flash on my camera doesn't work well at night, so I have to rely on the wonder of Flickr to post photos that people taken right by me posted today. Yay! Even though I've seen this three times, it is still a surreal experience to see elephants run past your apartment.

Crowd on 34th Street

People lined up in front of my building
Elephants arriving at 34th Street

The elephants arrive on 34th Street

Other nice photos from Flickr:

I Heart NY

Going into the tunnel on the Queens side: nice "suspicious activity" warning.

Gothamist has an apt description of the event as well, with links to more photos and even video so you can see the speed at which elephants can run in the cold. Poor babies. I do feel bad for them. This can't be what they want out of life.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Home bound

Following doctor's orders to "slow down," I've spent most of the weekend inside and for that I have surprisingly little to show for it. Oh well.

I did get a chance to listen to Freeform Faust, the radio show of a fellow Luther grad on the Luther radio station, as he featured Sam. For other Luther pals, there is an interesting picture of Sam. There is also a funny picture of David from a few weeks back, to which I didn't get to listen. Writing about Sam and David reminded me of a roadtrip Sam, David, Rachel and I took from Minneapolis to Chicago one weekend in the late 1990s (I think) and while in Chicago we saw Faust and a bunch of other people. Fun times. Creative people.

On a more somber note, I also had a chance to watch The Constant Gardener, another DVD borrowed from the library. This movie made me feel the same way as I did when I watched Syriana, in that if it is remotely possible that these kinds of things happen in real life (and I think they might), it's just too much to bear.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Latest Fashion

Boot for broken sesamoid bone

What? You didn't know boots like this beauty were in style? The catch is that you have to break a bone in your foot to get one.

Yes, I have an inexplicably fractured sesamoid bone. So, this means very little walking for me. It also appears to mean very little sleeping as well, since it's not easy to sleep with a big, immobilizing boot on your foot.

At least now it's clear that something is wrong with me and not just my fashion sense. I've spent the last three to four weeks wearing tennis shoes at work since it hurt too much to wear anything else.

For the other walkers out there, foot pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night is not normal, nor is it a figment of your imagination. When it hurts to walk, as a general rule, it's better to go to the podiatrist sooner rather than later.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Nice Day and a Movie

Yesterday I enjoyed the unseasonably warm day by spending some time at Central Park and then making lots of impulse buys at Whole Foods Market. Thank goodness I don't work at CNN in New York, because if I did, I'd probably make those kinds of impulse buys every day since they share the same building.

Then, I came home and watched a movie I borrowed from the library on the recommendation of many French teachers and students: The Barbarain Invasions or Les Invasion barbares. I surprised myself and understood quite a bit of the usually hard-to-understand Québécois. Not sure how I missed this 2003 film that won the Oscar for best foreign language entry. I think I was probably busy working long hours during the start of the Iraq war during my time in DC. Anyway, this is a thought-provoking film, though not really believable and incredibly sad. So, if you choose to rent it, you've been warned.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rest in Peace

From one legend (Dolly) to another... Rest in peace Ali Farka Touré, one of Africa's best known musicians.

If you have never given him a listen, please consider it. Here's more about him, thanks to the BBC. Read it >>

I like this description of him as an African cowboy:

Unlike many African music stars, he rejected the call of the bright lights of Paris, London or New York and always lived in Mali.

When he won his first Grammy award, he even refused to travel to the United States to collect his prize, saying:

"I don't know what a Grammy means but if someone has something for me, they can come and give it to me here in Niafunke, where I was singing when nobody knew me."

He then threw himself into farming, fishing and raising cattle in his home town.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Stuff on Zazie?

No, Zazie wouldn't appreciate being featured in this blog displaying "stuff on cats." Here is one sample of what you'll find there:
Stuff on my cat

I still do not approve of cats and clothing, but this hat is ingenious!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wishful Thinking

Someone wanted me to stay home from work today by conveniently curling up on my coat.

Zazie curls up on my coat

If only it were that easy, Zazie!

Try to ignore the rest of the mess...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snowed in

Well, not really. I guess it 27 or so inches is a lot of snow, but maybe the city is handling it so well that it doesn't seem like a big deal so far for me. I haven't really tried to go anywhere using any form of transport apart from my feet, though. We'll see how my walk to work is tomorrow, but so far I'm not worried. The snow has stopped now. Here are a few photos I took outside my window or in front of my apartment building.

Blizzard slide show

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Finally, a respite

My long, stressful, politically-charged when full of long hours was capped off in an unusual way. Sam invited me to see a play at PS 122 -- my second trip there with Sam. I think the first time was back in 2001. The play was good, but even better was catching up with Sam. I'm lucky to have so many friends that are easy to talk to even after months and months go by. Mental note: Make more time for Sam.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Only in NYC

Who says cats don't work? This one went undercover!

undercover cat

Isn't that police badge cute? Read the story >>

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Rare Find

I finally received my rare find on eBay. I've been wanting this book for about a year since I checked it out from the library. It's no longer in print.

Vogue Dictionary of Knitting Stitches

Here's a sample of what's inside (ignore my sad-looking digits).

Vogue Dictionary of Knitting Stitches

Although I have sort of sworn off scarves and blankets for the time being, I may have revisit that decision to try out some of these stitches.

The only disappointment was the shipping time. The seller used "media mail," aka "book rate" and it took almost a month to arrive in NYC from California. The USPS Web site says that "media mail" takes 2 to 9 days, so I'm not sure what the hold-up was. See?

ENROUTE, February 03, 2006, 9:25 am, JERSEY CITY, NJ 07097
ENROUTE, January 31, 2006, 7:10 pm, JERSEY CITY, NJ 07097
ENROUTE, January 08, 2006, 1:37 am, BELL, CA 90201

I can't complain since I essentially got this book for free since I will only buy things on eBay if I sell something of mine first.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another baby blanket...

...and another cranky baby.

Cranky baby

I didn't knit this, and I only know the baby in the "virtual" sense, but it's the same pattern I used! Remember?

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Friday was a new UN day remembering the victims of the Holocaust. The events were really somber and overall very thought-provoking. On Thursday night, I took pictures at the candlelight vigil where many survivors were in attendance. I felt uncomfortable snapping away. I really am not cut out to be a real photographer. Also in attendance was Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- the sex therapist! According to Wikipedia, her parents died in the Holocaust. I didn't take any photos of her.

Last night, I went to see the movie Caché. While I really liked the movie, feel it is really well done and am glad I saw it, I can't recommend it to anyone because it's really disturbing. If you are OK with being shocked and can tolerate a slow-moving film with subtitles (with a few horribly disturbing moments), then go see it. If you're interested in seeing it to practice your French, I understood every word, so it appears they were speaking very standard French -- not crazy street French. If you want to wait to see it on DVD, I suggest inviting someone over rather than watching it alone. If anyone has already seen it, leave me a comment to tell me what you thought. Am I right?
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