Postcard from the Upper West Side
November 5, 2012
So, remember when you were here in September and we needed to buy some stamp pads so that we could rubber stamp our woodcut heads onto stuff (like you do)–and we stopped in at Stationery & Toy World on West 72nd Street? And I said, “this is a neighborhood institution,” and you said, “oh yes, I can see that.”
The “World” in the store’s name always tickles me. From the outside, it seems kind of grandiose for such a small shop. But inside, it is indeed a world: the world of 1970s-era merchandising. The shelves are stacked and crammed, like a library, with all the good stuff that every house–especially a house with school age kids–needs. I’m talking the state of the art of Lego Nano, and index cards in all weights, sizes and colors. And also, as you know, turquoise stamp pads.
It’s a weekly stop for me because (a) I only write with one kind of pen and (b) my children steal these pens. I have a micro-chat with one of the owners–a father and daughter– every time I’m in there; it’s the kind of place where you’re recognized by face, child or office supply predilection and you say hi and get called honey. I didn’t know, until now, that Donna and Larry live on Staten Island.
Word of their situation has been going around the neighborhood, where, let’s face it, the post-storm impact of Sandy has involved quite a bit of O MY GOD THE JUICE BAR IS CLOSED. Many people are joining in the effort to assist Staten Island, the Rockaways, Long Beach and other hard-hit areas, but in a generalized way, by making contributions to organizations that are helping, or signing up as a volunteer to sort and drive supplies to drop-off points. But personally knowing people who are so hard hit that their kids went back to school today in donated jackets–makes a difference. Upper West Siders have been helping Donna and Larry directly, thank God. And I don’t think anybody within a 10 block radius is going to run out of envelopes, fine point roller ball pens, or Scotch tape for the foreseeable future. Lego is starting to look like an intriguing hobby. Maybe Pokemon. Is Pokemon still a thing? I’ll ask Donna.
Anyway, I’m sharing this shop’s story here because it’s a snapshot. (And if you’re in the neighborhood, surely you need some office supplies.) One family among thousands suffering loss or extreme damage to their homes, with litle to fall back on. (Donna has been back at the store since Wednesday.) There are, no doubt, readers of knitting blogs who are facing similar circumstances. This is going to be a recovery that takes time and resources, and requires people in the community to think about something for more than a couple of news cycles.
In a related but much less significant story, these events–and people tweeting us– have motivated you and me to finish up a blanket design for a pattern that will be sold to benefit Sandy victims. Prior to the storm even being forecast, I had started a new blanket to have something exciting to knit on the subway (which is running again YAY), because the Bowling Avenue Tribute blanket (which, by the way is nearly done; I’m on square 15 of 16) got too big to lug around on public transportation.
Yes, it’s Noro Silk Garden. Yes, shade 269 is prominent again. Yes, it’s miter-based. But it’s different from previous Silk Garden miter-based blankets, at least to those of us who play with miters in our heads. It’s modular, yet no-sew. It’s easily size-adjusted and also easily proportion-adjusted. I hope to have it ready soon, but since people will be paying for it, it has to be tech-edited (fancy!) and easy to download, which will take a bit more time. Meanwhile, go on Ravelry to see other great patterns available to benefit Sandy relief, or just donate what you can to one of the many organizations helping ease the strife and get people back on their feet.
P.S. U.S. readers: VOTE. VOTE VOTE VOTE. Please vote tomorrow if you didn’t vote early. Votevotevote.