read this.



I spent a good chunk of the weekend reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

I had wanted to read it for a while because I like the title and I’m a sucker for books about books.

Also, the cover glows in the dark.

(Seriously. I checked.)

Also also, it has my name on the back of the (glow-in-the-dark) cover:

harkaway blurb

I figured if Nick Harkaway had such lovely things to say about it it would probably be worth reading.

It is.

It is fun and funny and just plain enjoyable. It has mysterious books and thievery and Google (the place!) and it reminded me a bit of Ready Player One in tone. It celebrates both the old and the new in delightful ways.

And it has the honor of being the first book of 2013 to make me cry, completely unexpectedly. Happy tears of that good-book-sucker-punch-to-the-place-in-the-heart-where-the-booklove-lives sort.

Also, it glows in the dark.

(If there was ever a reason to get the paper book instead of the e-version, there you go.)

So since that was my weekend, I was extra delighted this morning to hear that it received an Alex Award, hurrah! (I haven’t read any of the other winners, bad me. More to add to the to-read list.)

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flax-golden tales: perfect pairs

perfect pairs

perfect pairs

I only wanted one but when I got to the address on the piece of paper (after getting lost twice because the handwritten 8s looked like 3s) I was informed, quite politely, that they only were only available in pairs.

The woman at the 8s-not-3s house (who gave me tea in a flowered china cup without asking if I wanted tea) said that it was customary to inform the potential owner about this important detail up front but apparently the guy who writes his 8s so they look like 3s is new and still being trained and it was fine and completely understandable if I would prefer not to continue with the transaction under the circumstances but I should feel free to stay a while regardless and enjoy my tea and I can have the tour and who knows, I might change my mind.

None of them were in cages like I half-expected (she didn’t believe in cages) but all of them, on ottomans and settees and out in the garden, were in pairs. And each pair (of the ones I saw) was almost identical except one was light and the other dark, or warm-toned and its partner cool.

I had told myself I couldn’t manage two but of course when I met a pair I liked I knew I had to take them both, they’re too perfectly matched to separate. They even tilt their heads in unison when I talk to them.

The woman declared them a perfect fit which was strange because she didn’t ask me anything about myself, not even how I took my tea, and she tied red ribbons around their necks while I signed the paperwork but they pulled them off in the car on the way home, each helping the other wriggle free.

I haven’t given them names yet. They have similar personalities, they’re both quite attentive and affectionate and helpful, though one of them particularly likes to fetch things like sticks and seashells and small lizards and things I’d thought I’d lost, while the other prefers reading biographies and watching detective shows and balancing my checkbook.

The woman from the 8s-not-3s house called me after a week to see how we were getting on and asked me a lot of questions about their behavior and sleeping patterns, and then told me I’ll know they’ve really settled in once they’ve mastered mixing a proper martini.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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tarragon & bone

tarragon rug

This is the aforementioned tarragon and bone rug. Technically it has three different colors, though, so I’m not entirely sure what to call the pale pale shimmery green, as I’m guessing the darker one is tarragon and the background is bone.

The internet tells me that the word tarragon derives from something French for little dragon, which I like even if it’s not necessarily true just because the internet said it was.

But the fact that my living room floor is covered in swirls of little dragon herb green is rather fun and quite comfy.

Have yet to determine if it goes with the teal chairs, since the teal chairs have yet to arrive, but it blends well with everything else, so that’s something. I forgot how long it takes to sink into a new home, especially since I never properly sunk into the last apartment because I was travelling so much and also there was construction outside my windows that started every day at 7am which did not make it particularly cozy or relaxing.

I am likely the only person who has ever moved to Manhattan and delighted in how quiet it is. Comparatively.

I am assembling a puzzle of cozy homeyness and I don’t quite have all the pieces yet, but it’s getting there. I have books on shelves and I’m starting to hang things on walls and it feels warm despite the fact that it is far too cold outside.

I’m getting to know the outside, too, though slowly because it is cold. Discovering corners to linger with cocktails and delicious food, trying places on to see if they will become regular haunts. Though the at-home comfy is taking precedence over the outside comfy for the moment.

I found a place to buy loaves of freshly baked gluten-free bread so I can cut the slices as thick as I like (and then cover them with goat cheese and fig spread). I am in love with the fact that anything, anything can be ordered and delivered to your door here, and particularly delighted that sushi arrives in 15 minutes as opposed to the almost-hour that was standard in Boston. Though I suspect almost-instant sushi could also be dangerous.

I’m still unpacking. I just unpacked the rest of my shoes yesterday and half of them are still in a pile in the closet. Most of my office is still in boxes. The “catch up on email” that was near the top of the to-do list for January is still nowhere near to being crossed off despite the fact that January is slipping away.

At this rate I’m just hoping I’ll be through with the cardboard boxes by the time February shows up.

But I’m cozying up the writing cave, so I can spend most of February and March working on that not-yet-novel shaped thing my brain has been itching to get back to, though over the last while it was often too busy being tired to itch.

I think letting it sleep past 7am and not waking it up with beeping and crashing and jackhammers has helped. It’s feeling somewhat well-rested and it’s starting to get itchy again and I actually have a desk chair now, so that should be nicely writing conducive.

The fact that the calendar has little on it beyond writing and home-creating is delicious and delightful, and I can only hope that the writing goes as comparatively smoothly as the decorating has so far, building a new space piece by piece.

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flax-golden tales: the light at the edge of the world

light at the edge

the light at the edge of the world

I walk to the edge of the world every day at four o’clock in the afternoon. I didn’t always have to leave so early but the terrain keeps getting worse which makes the journey longer.

The pier itself is in terrible shape and the fence is falling apart in the spots where it’s still standing. I have to watch my footing carefully but I haven’t bothered to fix anything yet. I suppose someday I’ll have to, possibly soon, in order to reach the light.

It’s not a proper lighthouse, just a red light on a post at the end of the pier, but it serves its purpose. It marks the edge. Every evening I wind the generator enough to let it glow softly through the night, even though I doubt there’s anyone left to warn.

Old habits.

I always watch the waves roll in for a while before I head back, listening to the sound of the waves as they slowly eat away what’s left of the world.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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in lieu of proper post, photos from ny with bonus bunnies & snowy boston



high line





Briefly in Boston, with  just enough time to get snowed on and have cocktails before heading back home to NYC, which oddly but nicely does actually feel like home already. Alas, did not bring appropriate footwear for the winter wonderland, but it’s pretty.

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flax-golden tales: the recondite times, a non-periodical

the recondite timesthe recondite times, a non-periodical

I painted my front door purple mostly on a whim. I had purple paint (in two different shades) and I figured it was a cheerful sort of color that might help brighten up the winter grey. Not that I spend much time looking at my own front door, but it made sense at the time.

I thought it looked rather nice when I finished and didn’t think much of it until the newspapers started arriving.

They appear on the front steps wrapped in translucent pink plastic, but I never see who delivers them. At least one turns up each day and sometimes I get three or four at a time.

At first I thought it was just a mistake and I dropped them in the recycling without reading them, but then I noticed that they have my name on them so I started reading.

They look more or less like regular newspapers, but the contents are a lot more interesting, and after I read through an entire issue I found the door information, color-coded by subscription.

Apparently my lilac trim accidentally put me on their favored subscriber list.

I know it would be safer to just repaint the door, but I can’t bring myself to do it.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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My life is all cardboard boxes and interior decorating at the moment, so you get a random post of randomness today. As I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week, someday I will write a post about how The Night Circus is not Young Adult and it will probably have thoughts about what that means and categorizing books by intended audience and how I think that’s kind of unfair both to books and to Adults of the Young and Old variety, but today is not that day because I have looked at too many area rugs this week and my brain is messy, busy trying to figure out what shade of green tarragon is and whether or not it will coordinate with teal chairs.

Unpacking is taking a lot longer than the packing, partially because I had hired help with the packing and partially because there’s more stuff needed to round out the space here, like rugs in herb-named shades of green, so beyond the cardboard boxes there’s also shopping and it’s like a puzzle, trying to find the right new things to blend both with my old things and the space itself.

(There is likely a writing analogy about revising here and if my brain were up to it I’d probably find it, because I do so love an analogy.)

It’s fun, because I like puzzles, but it’s also a bit overwhelming what with options and choices and I currently have a desk but no desk chair and a lot of the books are still in piles because the new shelf won’t arrive for a couple of weeks.

I have a poster I need to get framed and the dishwasher is broken and I can’t figure out whether I just don’t know where I packed the AA batteries or there weren’t any left pre-move to be packed. I need new lightbulbs.

I feel a bit at sea, though it is a cozy sort of sea, and it is taking me longer to get the place shipshape than I had anticipated, but that’s okay. The cardboard is slowly dwindling. Someday soon I will have a chair and in the meantime there’s still the couch.

Eventually I will have a tarragon and bone rug which sounds like a morbidly lovely thing to have (or a soup) and the apartment ship will be seaworthy. I really was not expecting this boat analogy and I suspect the analogy pirates were here. I warned you that my brain is messy.

Sooner or later I will have a new routine for the new space, and I will have time to work and write and maybe even catch up on the large backlog of email and write proper blog posts with proper analogies in them.

Today is not that day.

(Today is, however, the anniversary of Dashiell Hammett’s death, National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, and my dearest darling sister’s birthday. Happiest of Happy Birthdays, Kerry!)

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flax-golden tales: tools to build the stars

tools to build the stars

tools to build the stars

I’ve used the same set of tools as my father ever since I was little, even though they’re heavy and sharp.

They don’t feel as heavy now, but they’re still sharp.

They were my grandmother’s tools, and her mother’s and grandmother’s before that. After they were my grandmother’s they became my father’s, because she didn’t have a daughter and some people said she should take an apprentice instead but she taught my father because she thought it was silly to only teach girls. Now my father has me, but I think he would have taught me even if I’d been a boy because he tended to agree with grandma about most things except how long to keep his hair.

He lets me try different tools to see which ones work better for me. He says the ones that work best for him might not fit my hands the same way and ones that are perfect for me may be nearly useless for him, though I haven’t found any that work perfectly for me yet.

He calls this trial and error. I call them mistakes, but he says mistakes are how we learn.

That’s why he leaves the not-quite-right stars around the workshop, as reminders, but I think he also does it because they sparkle just as brightly as the proper ones.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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