1) Harney & Sons cinnamon spice tea. Here in the Boston area it can be found at Au Bon Pain, Barnes and Nobles, and Roche Brothers. It’s a very sweet tea – no need for sugar-and I find it extraordinarily comforting, plus it smells very holiday-like. It is caffeinated, although they do sell a decaf version; I don’t recommend drinking the regular stuff before bed (although I have been known to ignore my own advice and curl up at night with the tea, a blanket and a good book).
2. The new catalog from Halcyon Yarn. When I was a kid in rural Maine, the arrival of the new Sears catalog in the mail was a big deal – my sister and I would fight over it, then spend hours poring over the clothes and toy sections, circling the things we wanted Santa to bring us. The Halcyon Yarn catalog is smaller, but no less full of dreaming...at least, if you are prone to dreaming about fiber projects. Every time I get one of these in the mail I start thinking about how much I’d like to try weaving or spinning, but the last thing I need is another hobby. Also? downtown Bath, Maine, where the store is located, is one of my favorite places on the planet.
3. Knitting. I virtually stopped knitting for about six weeks, a combination of other projects percolating and repeatedly forgetting my knitting bag. Re-resolving to finish something (anything!), I fished out a sock project from my UFO (unfinished object) pile. Shockingly, the first sock was literally five rows away from being done, which is sort of odd; I’m guessing I was probably knitting on the train and had to stop suddenly to get off, because I can’t imagine what else would have stopped me from kitchener stitching a toe. But I digress. The point of this is to say that I was reminded that there is something about repeatedly making tiny stitches with excellent sock yarn on wooden needles that I find ridiculously comforting.
4. The Tori Amos “holiday” album, Midwinter Graces. This is not your typical sing-alongChristmas carol album, but even if you don’t consider that a good thing this CD is worth investigating. Even if you are not particularly enamored with Tori Amos, it is worth investigating. Don't be put off by the fact that she looks possessed on the album cover (what were they thinking?!). The songs are beautiful interpretations of traditional Christian and pagan themes, creating new out of the old (which ought to shut Glenn Branca up). A few of the songs can even survive the holiday season. My favorite on the album is her version of “Jeannette Isabella” – it makes me happy every time I hear it.
5. David Sedaris. I’ve been re-reading his books of essays this week, plus the current New Yorker has a story by him in it about sea turtles, and I am yet again marveling at both his humor and his essay construction. He simutaneously makes me want to pick up my own writing again and want to burn everything I have ever written because it will never be as good as his stuff.
6. NPR. For some odd reason the planets have mysteriously aligned and I can now, finally, get NPR on my clock radio. I am swooning to again wake up to Steve Inskeep’s voice (although…still miss Soterios Johnson from my NYC days…). There was recently a Morning Edition segment where Neil Gaiman (writer of "Coraline" and friend of Tori Amos – “Neil says hi by the way”) was talking about audio books, and there was a short clip of him interviewing David Sedaris. I was amused, not the least of which because Sedaris...well, he has kind of a strange voice. In fact, I have a hard time listening to him and honestly, if he wasn't so funny, I wouldn't even try. Which reminds me, it's about time to pull out his "Holidays on Ice" book!