A Thanksgiving Shopping Miracle

I needed new jeans. Old Navy was selling them for $15, but shopping on Thanksgiving is an insane idea, right?? I decide to chance it.

The store was almost empty. I try on a million different jeans, but they don’t have my first choice in my size. I take the second best ones to the cash register while this battle rages inside my head:

Are you just buying these just for the sake of buying something? Even though they are only $15 does it make sense to buy something you do not love? You have to get them hemmed so really, they’re going to cost $35. But that’s not bad. But now that’s $35 for something you don’t love. But, but, but these look great, and maybe the ones you liked better wouldn’t look as good, you don’t know, you never saw what they look like when they fit, you just liked the wash …

This dialogue continued as I got to the cashier and she started ringing them up. I was this close to saying never mind, I’m not taking them, when I noticed that she’s tried three times to ring them up. Finally she says, “These jeans are 97 cents. They must be from last season or something, but they are 97 cents.” I hand her a dollar. She hands me three cents back. Neither of us can quite believe that just happened.

There are now trees at the Christmas stand I photographed on Tuesday night. Here is a tiny one. (This is probably the top of a larger tree, isn’t it?)

Tiny Christmas Tree in fron on 9/11 Tile Memorial

Dental Insurance is Not Worth It

I’ve done the math! Two years ago I researched all the dental plans available to me and went with Delta Dental. I did the math on all the plans and I figured with Delta, if I got a lot of work done I could potentially save $500 a year. Of course, like every insurance company, they always find some reason to pay a little less or not at all so usually at best you break even.

Delta Dental just announced that they are raising their rates to $94.94 a month. That amounts to $1,139 a year and the most they will pay out in a year is $1,200. That reduces the potential savings to $71, and given their history, I know they will never actually pay out the $1,200. Even with the free yearly cleanings they throw in the arrangement will always benefit them.

With health insurance at least, you pay and pay even if you never get sick because you’ll need them for that day when you do. With dental insurance, when that day comes, there’s a limit and a million codes for why they’re not going to pay up to the limit anyway.

Needless to say I’m going to cancel the policy and just start putting that money aside myself.

Coffee table kitty.

My Cat Buddy on the Coffee Table

It’s Official, the Christmas Season is Here

I was walking home from choir rehearsal last night, in the pouring rain, and I noticed that the Christmas tree stands are up! (They’re on the left in this photograph.) If I walked by today I’m guessing there would be trees there now.

The question is: will I brave the Black Friday sales tomorrow? I’ve never participated in anything like this before. I hate shopping and I especially hate shopping when there are crowds. But I need jeans and apparently I can get them at Old Navy for $15 tomorrow. How is that even possible? $15 jeans?? It seems irresponsible to pass them up. Sigh. Being on a budget is a lot of work.

Christmas Tree Stand on 7th Avenue, New York City

Project Accessory You Inspire Me

Project Accessory Shoe Challenge Winner
Are you all watching Project Accessory? It’s exactly what you think it is, Project Runway except with accessories: jewelry, bags, shoes, belts, etc. It’s almost more exciting because you get to see how the simplest, most nothing outfit can be transformed, and transformed for little cost. Even a poor person can look fabulous.

I know that fact is not news, but it’s demonstrated so dramatically. The runways at the end are over-flowing with tips and ideas which you can apply to your own wardrobe. It’s fun to watch a show involving a more accessible product, something you can actually indulge in yourself. The world of Project Runway is more out-of-reach, although still fascinating to watch.

That reminds me, the true treasure of Project Runway is Tim Gunn. The mentor on Project Accessory … oh god, I can’t even picture who the person is! But whoever they are they don’t project the charisma, the genuine caring charm, and equally important, the knowledge of the industry and fashion that Tim Gunn has in spades. The same is true of the guy on Work of Art by the way (charisma/caring-wise, not knowledge-of-industry-wise), but I can see him trying which makes him kind of endearing.

Project Accessory makes me want to take a shot at designing my own accessories. What the hell? I have no particular talent in this area, but when you see what they whip up in such a short amount of time and with found materials, it makes you want to give it a try.

My favorite designer, James Sommerfeldt, went home, alas. That’s his shoe pictured above. He was such a sweetheart. I hate people who participate in shows like this and say, “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to win.” There’s no reason you can’t do both! Shoes are James’s specialty and he generously helped everyone during the shoe challenge and still won. Yes, he ultimately went home, but he didn’t go home because he was so nice. (For those of you watching, didn’t you think his going home that week was bullshit??)

Update: Speaking of talented people, imagine being this person. A problem so beautifully solved!

Alexander Hamilton’s Spinster Granddaughters

At one point I was researching the former owners of the pews at Grace Church. Bonnie Recca, a volunteer at the Grace Church archives, told me that pew 28 once belonged to three granddaughters of Alexander Hamilton: Charlotte, Adelaide, and Alice. The sisters were active members of Grace Church and they lived nearby at 17 West 20th Street, in what was referred to then as “the old Hamilton home.”

The sisters lived out their entire lives in that house, which had been left to Charlotte by their father John Church Hamilton, “with a full confidence that she will render it during her life a kind abode for her sisters while unmarried …” They remained unmarried. 

Charlotte, the oldest, was the first to die, in 1896 when she was 78. The New York Times said, “As a child she was remarkable for her beauty and was a great favorite of Gen. Lafayette.”

Three years later Adelaide had Alice, the youngest, declared insane. “Miss Adelaide testified that her sister imagined that she could not walk, and was subject to religious delusions. She thought all her relatives were dead.” Alice also imagined she herself to have been dead for five years, and when a doctor for the court came to examine her she said, “I am very sorry, but you are dead too.” Alice died in 1906, when she was 68.

Adelaide was the last to die, in 1915, and she left an estate of $750,000. Among the beneficiaries were her coachman, laundress, two butlers and three maids. She was 85.

Each time one of the sisters died, two of their nephews, John C. L. Hamilton and Edgar A. Hamilton, came out of the woodwork to contest their wills on the grounds that each sister was not of sound mind (in Alice’s case they were right). The nephews had also contested the wills of their grandparents, John and Maria. Their father was John C. A. Hamilton (John Church’s brother), a civil engineer who’d gone out West years before and who had died there. His sons came back to New York, but they were never close to their father’s family. They also never won any of their cases.

I took a picture of the building, which still stands. It was built in 1852 and got an ugly brick facade in 1920. From the Landmarks Preservation report:

“Constructed in 1852 for J.C. Hamilton, this building was originally a wide, stone-faced rowhouse of four stories with a basement. Although wider than the standard rowhouse, it may have been built as part of a row between 9 and 19 West 20th Street. John C. Hamilton, who may have been the original owner or a descendant, was listed as a resident in 1882-83. In 1920, the original facade and stoop were removed, the front was reconstructed at the building line, and the sixth story was added.”

It doesn’t seem from the report that they were aware that John C. Hamilton was John Church Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton. I’ve been trying to find a pre-1920 picture, but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. It must have been beautiful once. This was an extremely wealthy neighborhood at one time.

John Church Hamilton House 17 West 20th Street New York City