Tuesday, January 27, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Yesterday, we were warned that a blizzard would descend upon our city overnight.  Businesses, including my own employer, closed their doors earlier than usual.  Transportation was affected.  For the first time because of snow, the subway system shut down for the night at 11 p.m.

The snow had begun falling and accumulating before midday.  

It was a relief to get home last evening and know that whatever the blizzard brought us, I would have today as a "regular" day off.

Around 9 p.m., I took a few photographs of the view from one of my windows.  Dark and ominous, with some lingering Christmas lights, some street and building lights, and the glow of fallen snow.

Heavy clouds added to the dark sky.  Vehicular traffic was limited to emergency vehicles (which did not include either taxis or take-out delivery bicycles) and Sanitation Department trucks with affixed snowplow attachments.  The city's quiet was interrupted only by the scraping sounds of snowplows making their rounds, keeping the streets clear.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that the blizzard had not lingered in New York.  News broadcasts revealed that it was Boston that was now hosting the historic snowfall.

Yes, a delicate snow was still falling, and the air was very cold.  Snowplows continued their rounds.  Some brownstone steps and sidewalks had already been cleared.

The views from my window did not look quite so ominous in the grey morning light.

Having promised to show you all some snow scenes, I quickly finished my breakfast, donned layers of clothing to keep me somewhat warm, picked up my camera and headed outdoors.

You can see that the street and most sidewalks were already cleared of snow, with only a bit of slush to be found around the edges.

I encountered quite a few young men carrying shovels for hire.  They do a fine job for residences and businesses whose folks do not wish to take care of this duty themselves.

I include this close up view of the fire hydrant against the stripes of the plowed roadway in order to show that the snow's depth was not very deep.

Continuing my stroll around the neighborhood, I discovered that nourishment was available for those who had not brought home groceries before the snow began.

Cabs were once again traveling along Amsterdam Avenue.

Pizza by the slice or whole pie was available.

However, many banks were closed and seemed a bit frosty.

This quaint little church, in the shadow of high rise apartment buildings, seemed shut up tightly, although its walkway had been cleared.

These fellows were working well as a team and swiftly taking care of business in front of this brownstone.

Over on Columbus Avenue, I liked the filigree appearance of these trees.  The red lights of the Don't Walk sign add a touch of color to the scene.  The holiday snowflake decoration is still attached to the street lamp pole.

I wonder how this small bike came to spend the night at the curb?

The steps up to the doors of 110 had been liberally sprinkled with chemical, snow-melting "salt" that is very dangerous for dogs whose owners do not outfit them with protective boots.

Across the street, the red doors of this church seemed firmly shut.  In the foreground you can see that sidewalk shoveling has effectively covered over garbage left on the sidewalk for overnight pick-up by someone who clearly didn't comprehend that the usual garbage truck rounds would be otherwise engaged.

This beautiful entrance way always catches my eye, no matter what the weather.

It has become more and more rare to spot payphones along the sidewalk.  I guess it was during the peak of last night's snow and wind that snow actually found its way into the Titan's enclaves.

These benches in the middle of Broadway can be pleasant places to rest during milder weather.

It was only 25 degrees F. as I took my brief stroll, and I admit that my camera clicking fingers were beginning to feel the chill.  And so, I began to head home.  Just then, I saw yet another snow plow getting ready to make a turn up a street that was already rather clear.

I could not resist the photo op.  The driver made too wide a turn, had to reverse, correct his angle and give it another go.

Mission accomplished on the turn, he made his way up the street.  I made my own way up the sidewalk.

How pleasant it was to return to the warmth of my apartment and prepare this little report for you all.

I am now going to have a bowl of delicious lentil soup.  Regular readers might remember that I'd put some of last week's soup in the freezer.  Its time has now come.

I send my very best wishes to all the folks up in New England who are now having to deal with the blizzard that spared us.  Thank you all for your visits and comments. We are now a day closer to springtime.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Do you all remember the song lyric, "I've been for a walk on a winter's day?"  Earlier today, taking advantage of sunshine, blue sky and temperature above freezing, I took such a walk and enjoyed it very much.  I did not really dream of California.

Today is Sunday.  On Tuesday, a winter blizzard is forecast.  Sometimes the weather forecasters over hype the drama.  I do hope this is true this time around, because around 12 inches of snow has been predicted.  Tuesday is already a scheduled day off for me, so if the big snow does arrive, I will be able measure my wish to take lots of snow scene photographs to share with you against my natural inclination to stay warm and dry indoors.  Knitting perhaps.

In my last post I showed a photograph of a zigzaggedy knit scarf.  That scarf no longer exists.  I was not pleased with how it was developing, unraveled it, and cast on a new version.

I prefer the flow of the colors in this version, with the bands of turquoise/purple stars appearing somewhat randomly throughout the smaller details of the rosy checkerboards.  

I should be able to finish the scarf on the upcoming blizzard day.

I would already have finished the scarf if I had been allowed to take my knitting with me to the courthouse where I spent two days as a potential juror last week.  Knitting needles are not allowed past the security checks.  Instead, I took along a hefty Georges Simenon omnibus containing five Maigret novels.  Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses is the novel I am currently reading.

Of course, when I was amongst the jurors summoned to a "voir dire" courtroom process before a judge, a defendant, prosecuting and defending attorneys, I kept my book firmly closed.

I believe that jury duty is an important duty for us to accept.  I have served on juries before.  I was greatly relieved when I was one of those whom the judge excused from jury duty late on Friday afternoon.

Some city views are not pleasant ones.  Without revealing another word here about the nature of the case that was seeking its impartial jurors, I will say that sitting in that courtroom gave me much to consider about how fortunate I have been in my own life.

My good fortune includes making the acquaintance of so many interesting people around the world via this blog.  I continue to thank you all for your visits and comments.

In my next post, I do hope to take you outside again to see how this city handles a snowstorm.

Friday, January 16, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Although we are now halfway through January, I still hear myself wishing folks Happy New Year.  I wish to hold on to that freshness that the first days of a year promise.

We have had some very, very cold days, some light snowfall, some rain, some sleet.  And also some rather pleasant sunny days, like today, when it can be good to be outdoors.

I have been clearing out some excess clutter.  Some of these items have been taken to a neighborhood thrift store.  Some have been discarded.  There is plenty more de-cluttering to do.  I assure you none of those pictured cups and saucers have left the apartment.

Another January project required the skill of the apartment building staff.  Washers and handles on my kitchen and bathroom sinks have been changed.  A pesky little chore, but it has made a difference to daily life.

I have made a substantial lentil soup, and have set aside half of it in the fridge's freezer compartment.  It's comforting to know it's there.  This kind of cooking for immediate and future consumption is another of my 2015 intentions.

On the very chilly days, it's been tempting to stay indoors.  On days when I have been scheduled to go downtown to work, the subway cars have been warm, but the subway station platforms have been quite cold.  An eight-minute wait for a train can seem quite a long time when you can see your breath in the chilly air.

On warmer days, it's been more fun to venture out, whether to do neighborhood errands, visit the farmers market, meet friends for cake and coffee, attend a birthday tea, or just take a walk.

Yesterday, I met a friend over at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to take a look at a beautiful exhibit Kimono: A Modern History.  I wish that all of you who are interested in textiles or embroidery or dying techniques could see this exhibit.  The show closes soon, and so I was very fortunate to be able to have a leisurely look.  I regret not taking photographs within the gallery rooms.

However, while still in the Met, I did take these photographs, through a window in the Japanese galleries, that overlooks the spacious Temple of Dendur gallery in the Egyptian Wing, with its very large slanting windows overlooking Central Park.

The sun was definitely on its westward way towards setting as I took these photographs.  It is fascinating to me how many areas of the Met can have a certain uncrowded tranquility.  However, sometimes (when the Met is closed to the public) this particular gallery is used for major parties, with lots of people, food, drinks, music.

Less tranquility has been found outside my living room window during the above-freezing, non-precipitation days of January, as the team of drillers and masons continue to finish up their multi-month project on the building's exterior walls.  

We residents of the building have been assured that the project is very, very near completion.  To aid that crossing of the finish line, work will be done tomorrow morning (Saturday) and on the following Saturday morning, in addition to the usual Monday through Friday work.  Saturday work is to commence at 9 a.m., rather than the weekday 8 a.m.

I thought that I would take this opportunity to take a couple of photographs, through my venetian blinds, to show you all the precarious hanging platform from which these men have been working.  Perhaps you can just see the ropes and electrical cables.

The final photographs are of some of the knitting projects I am working on.  The multi-colored zigzag scarf is being knitted in a variety of red, rose, pink, lavender, burgundy shades of fingering wool.  I intend to add it to my Foakley Arts etsy.com shop in time for Valentine's Day gifting.

This other project is not my own design, but rather that of the fabulously talented Kate Davies, and is called A Hap for Harriet.  I am knitting it in a soft merino lace weight yarn, and it it taking a long time to complete.  I began knitting this wrap when on my November UK holiday.

Its progress was slowed down by a variety of Christmas projects.

I have now worked on several "hap" designs by other talented knitters, and next plan to figure out my own design.  I was given some beautiful yarn from Yorkshire as a Christmas gift from my cousin and want to use it for this next special knitting exploration, another of my New Year's intentions.

Somehow using the word intention, rather than resolution has been a kinder, gentler way for me to press forward.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  It's grand to find new folks have become followers of my posts.  Welcome to one and all.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on a chilly New Year's Eve.

Yes, wintry weather has finally reached us.  I assure you all that I will not be amongst the folks gathering around Times Square waiting for midnight!

I do want to share just a few recent city views with you as this old 2014 draws to a close.

After many months of construction and installation behind visual barriers, new fountains in front of The Metropolitan Museum of Art have now been revealed.

The circle of spouting water is programmed to dance through a loop of choreography.  Tourists seem to enjoy having their photographs taken at the fountain edge.

While the plaza renovation was underway, there was some discussion over whether the food vendors who park their stands along the Fifth Avenue curb would be allowed to stay amid the new splendor.  I hope that you can see their brightly colored umbrellas just behind the arc of the dancing waters.

Over in Central Park this is a subdued time of the year.  Preparation has been made for a time yet to arrive when the lake will freeze.

Neutral colors dominate with brighter accents provided by visitors' warm clothing and the for-hire carriages and pedicabs.

I think that the subdued colors are beautiful in their own way.  There are lots of interesting textures to add to the visual interest.  Perhaps you all can detect a few red leaves and berries.

It was mid-afternoon when I took my walk, and cloud cover was thickening.  Everything seemed softened.  Rain seemed possible.

The following photograph shows the tall buildings of Central Park South, the road at the southern edge of the Park.

Walking home through the Strawberry Fields area, I was delighted to see this brave little cluster of snowdrops.  Earlier in my walk, I had seem evidence of hungry little squirrels nibbling on other tender shoots that had poked their heads above the leafy ground cover.

Earlier today watching television, I saw spectacular New Year's fireworks broadcast from Australia.  It's fun to watch the stroke of midnight arrive around our world and in many cases to realize that some of you all are already celebrating 2015.

I'll cling to our old friend 2014 for a bit longer, being somewhat reflective of all that has transpired in the past year.  All in all, I think that 2014 has been very good to me, and am particularly appreciative of the many connections that I have been made via this little blog.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  I am looking forward to seeing you again in our Happy New Year

Monday, December 22, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas 2014, and thank you all so very much for all your visits and comments through the year.  What a wonderful gift our blogging community is!


Friday, December 19, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

It seems that since I returned from England in November, I have been neglecting showing you all some New York City seasonal views.  I have been very busy with many projects and also with my work days.

Nonetheless, I have been taking my camera with me on some days, and will now show you a very edited selection of city views.

Thanksgiving Day, back on November 27, was a very cold and damp day, and so I did not stay too long at the annual Macy's Parade that starts not far from where I live and makes its way downtown to Macy's Department Store at 34th Street's Herald Square.

There were lots of police on hand to protect us from anything or anyone intent on disturbing the joy that assembled families might receive from the parade. Colorful balloons, for sale, also gave color to a gray day.

Gigantic helium filled balloons made their appearances in between marching bands and decorative floats boasting celebrities.  Snoopy and Woodstock are always crowd favorites.

Veteran parade viewers remember to bring their own ladders and other seating arrangements to provide better viewing.

The above photograph reminded me of birds on a wire, but that bird on the right did not know I was taking her photograph.

Some folks wear seasonal, whimsical hats.

As in my previous reports of this parade, you can see the famed Dakota apartment building in the above photograph.  People watching the parade from the Dakota's windows were warmer than I was.  I admit to going home for a hot cup of tea before Santa Claus's appearance at the end of the parade.

A much warmer occasion was the annual Holiday Open House at the splendidly grand 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue main New York City Public Library.

As always, there is lots of wonderful music, plenty of wine, lots of beautifully dressed children enjoying the fun of a party in the library where it's joyously noisy.

During these Open House events, lots of special rooms are open to view, including this one with a fabulous vintage card catalogue.  I could not resist taking a photograph.

The library building richly deserved its landmark status.

Every time that I have attended this party, I leave it with a renewed appreciation of all that I love about New York City.

The stone lions that guard the entrance to the building were looking very grand in their holiday greenery wreaths.

In past years I've shown you all the giant Rockefeller Center tree, and wanted to include a photograph again this year.  Lots of breezes blowing around this area.

I was bundled up against the chill, and continued my walk up Fifth Avenue looking for any imaginative holiday decorations.  I admit that I did not see many qualifiers until I reached 57th Street.

 Tiffany's had some rather gaudy sparkly diamond-inspired lights on its facade.  I think that the choice of yellow "diamonds" at the centers of these sprays was not as pretty as "rubies" might have been.

Over the middle of the 57th and Fifth intersection is hung a very large illuminated snowflake.  This decoration is much more dramatic after sundown.  However, after sundown, it is not so easy for the pedestrian to see the pair of sneakers that have been tossed over another set of wires above the same intersection.  Sneakers are without glamour but do have a certain nonchalance.

Leave it to Bergdorf Goodman to come up with truly inventive holiday windows.

On one side of the building the store's windows show a sort of winter wonderland, as a backdrop to some very elegant fashions.

On the Fifth Avenue side of the building there is a theme to the window.  Various members of the Arts family are represented.  The best of the bunch, to my eye, was the one representing Architecture.

There was much playing around with scale and with the tradition of blueprints.

Others of this series of windows have much more brightly colored lighting.

I still prefer the Architecture window.  As did other passersby, judging by how many cameras and smart phones were being deployed.

This is a detail of the Painting window.  All was in whitewash except for the one canvas.

Back to Architecture.  Please humor me.

The talented designers who create and install these windows are truly top of their field.


Yes, there are some mannequins sharing the window, and yes, these mannequins are wearing some fabulous clothes, but I don't think that they are the true stars of the show.

One last peek.

I believe that the following photograph featured the Music arts.  Lots of brass horns.

Around the corner on 58th Street, this window was a tribute to sculpture, with an emphasis on ice.

I regret to report that my camera's battery signalled a farewell about the time I took that ice sculpture window.  And so, I headed home.

Shop windows are not the only sources of decorations at this time of the year.

At the farmers market there are lots of cyclamen, amaryllis, Christmas cactus, narcissus and other pretty colored blooms available to take home.

Other stands feature a great variety of greenery, either as loose branches, garlands or made up wreaths.

I like the pine cones.

I wish that I could convey to you all the delicious scent of all this greenery.

Red berries and festive ribbons have been added to some of the wreaths on offer.

Uptown in my own west side neighborhood, as in most other city neighborhoods, sidewalk vendors of Christmas trees and greenery appeared around Thanksgiving and will disappear on Christmas eve.

I love the way that these vendors have decorated their little enclosure against the chill of the night air, to create a Christmas Tree People house.  Can you all see the little figures they have made from trimmings from trees they've sold?

Not all Christmas trees have to be ten feet tall.  These are about a metre, including their stands.

Just across Broadway from The Christmas Tree People, is the legendary Beacon Theater, where currently Mariah Carey is holding forth.  I would imagine that the audience sings along with her when she gets to that particular line of that particular song.

And back home in my tiny apartment, I have added some red berried branches to my decor, surrounded by a few beautifully wrapped gifts that have recently been delivered.

I think that I have made all the required visits to the Post Office, and may or may not have baked all the cookies I will bake before December 25.

As of this evening, I am feeling rather relaxed about my Christmas preparations.  Do be on the lookout for at least one more post from me before the 25th.

Meanwhile, thank you all for your visits and comments.  It's great fun to share this time of the year with you all.