Tuesday, August 23, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

We are now in a new weather pattern.  The city is now 20 degrees F cooler than it was last week.  Energy is beginning to return.  I am giving my little fan a rest and enjoying being more active outdoors.

Having longer walks around the neighborhood is a pleasure.

My neighborhood has a mixture of architecture, and some crosstown street blocks have some charming brownstone and limestone town houses that have attractive little front garden spaces.  Other such houses present rather bland spartan faces to the street.

The pictures I am showing you here are along one side of a particular Upper West Side street that is always a pleasure to walk along.  I was lucky to have my camera with me last Sunday, and to find that the prettier side of the street was also the shady side.  A slight breeze was blowing, cooling the air, and encouraging me to take these photographs to show you.

I have no idea whether these buildings are filled with small or large apartments, rental or condo or cooperative.  What is clear is that there are some interested gardeners at each address.

These plantings don't seem to be the work of professionals but rather the resulting efforts of residents.  I imagine that even more beautiful gardens are behind the buildings.

These houses have their main entrances on the parlor floor one reaches via a stairway, but also have doorways at the garden level.  I once lived in a garden level 1840s brownstone apartment in Brooklyn.  There was no front garden but I shared a beautiful back garden with the other tenants.  That garden had been established by our landlady who also allowed me to plant a few more flowers and vegetables.  She was then midway through the renovation of another old house in the same neighborhood.

Back in those days, such old Brooklyn houses, ripe for renovation, were priced at about $25,000.  It was the 1970s, and that was quite a lot of money.  The renovation and rescue of those houses also cost a lot and took a long time.  Many marriages, like that of my sweet landlady, broke up during renovations.

Nowadays, those houses sell for millions of dollars.  Even a floor through apartment in one of the houses I am showing you here would cost several million dollars.  Time passes.

I love the look of this tree's roots, and moss, and the little scalloped fencing which might protect it from unskilled car parking.

Moving along, I'll show you a few more front entrance ways.

Some of these areas have decorative gates; some have gates requiring a key.  Do notice the bars on the windows.

The left over bricks and stones in the following photo have been used to fill in a space where a tree once grew.  I like the arrangement and thought it might inspire some future knitting design.

I also like the rather funky look of this curvy decorative area.

Lots of greenery growing here.  I wondered what might have been intended to grow on the wooden lattice leaning against the wall.  It could be part of a past or future plan.

You can see the reflection of a building across the street.

Not far away from that shady block is this large building, The Lucerne Hotel.  Back in the 1920s, my great auntie lived here for a few years with her husband who was a tobacco company executive.  My auntie was widowed before I was born, and moved back to live in Richmond with a couple who were dear friends.

Auntie Mae never had children of her own, but was very fond of my late Dad, and very kind to me.  Every Christmas she would allow me to select a very special doll as her very special gift.  She also gave me a special, long lasting gift of teaching me to knit.

I cannot walk past The Lucerne without thinking of her.

When Auntie Mae died, she left an inheritance to my Dad that allowed me to attend college.  She also left me some beautiful jewelry and her knitting needles.

I still use those needles, particularly the double pointed needles, to create socks, hats, and these fair isle mitts that I have been making for my etsy shop.  I am now working on some red mitts.

I do wish my Auntie could see them.

It's been fun to share these late summer city views with you all.  Thank you for your visits and wonderful comments on my previous post.  Let's enjoy our remaining summer days, rain or shine...but I do hope our current temperature range continues.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

It's been a while since I have shown you all some summer city views from my neighborhood.  Last Saturday evening I attended one of this year's final Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors concerts.  It was a tribute to a legendary album, The Last Waltz, that was recorded 40 years ago by a band called The Band.

As I expected, there was a very large crowd gathered all over Damrosch Park, an open spot nestled sort of like a back yard in a corner of the Lincoln Center property.

The area is surrounded by tall buildings, most of which have been built during the years that I have lived in the neighborhood.  

 As I found a little ledge to sit on, I gazed around the skyline, and tried to remember what the view was like 30 years ago.

All the proper folding chair seating was already filled up by the time of my arrival, and many folks were milling around, buying refreshments from various pricey stands, and trying to connect with friends or family who were somewhere in the crowd.  A hot summer evening dictated comfort clothing choices rather than fashion statements.

As the 7 p.m. showtime neared, the sunlight quality began to change, and some of the buildings began to take on differing glows.

 Some of the children in the crowd were escaping their boredom with the wait by playing various escape games of their own.

The five family members in the following fuzzy photo were being greatly entertained by the young son, who kept escaping his dad's grasp, and trying out his running techniques around the open space.  His dad kept a careful eye on the young fellow, while the mom in the long dress continued to chat with the older couple, who perhaps were her parents.  It is easy to make up story lines.

You can perhaps make out the boat-shaped back of the amphitheater stage?

All the snacking was causing a steady build up of refuse, and a Lincoln Center team kept collecting the bags.

At last it was time for the performance to begin, and the stage lights were turned on along with the excellent sound system.  Perhaps you all will also be able to see a tiny crescent moon just to the let of the stage roof?

Here is another very "atmospheric" picture taken as my camera's battery began to close down for the night.

The concert was lots of fun, and if you click on the link I provided above the first photo, you will be able to see a good picture of the stage and a list of the excellent performers who graced the stage.

On Sunday morning, I took a walk over to Central Park to see how late summer was treating the place.  The morning was not too hot, but humidity was gathering strength

I saw several picnics underway, and also marveled at various folks riding bikes, jogging, and so forth.

More and more racks of the Citibank sponsored bike rental racks appear along city sidewalks.  

Various trees and shrubs were showing their late summer colors and evidence of nibbling.  The leaves were crispy.

I was on my way to an errand on the Upper East Side, but took my time strolling through the Park making sure to have a look at the Shakespeare Garden.

I saw lots of very overgrown greenery, and some flowers looking a little past their prime.  Even so, there was beauty on display.

Lots of tall scraggly green plant stems mixed with some very pretty colors.

As I wandered around this August tangle, I remembered how different the Garden looked in early spring when the first crocus and daffodils were beginning to bloom.

There is a large team of gardeners who care for the Shakespeare Garden, and I am glad that they don't keep it completely manicured.

The above flowers were the size of dinner plates.  The following flowers were much more delicate.

The rustic fencing seems a natural choice to define some areas.  There are also benches made from this weathered wood.

Since I was wearing my pink shoes, I couldn't resist taking a color study photograph.

The plant stem in the following photo was reaching for the sky! There were lots of thistle plants in this area.

Sometimes I break photographic rules and will point my camera towards the sun, just to see what will happen.  I liked the results in the following picture.  I don't know what sort of plants these are with their shepherd crook stems.

By the time I finished my East Side errand, I decided that I would be a lazybones and take an air-conditioned bus ride home and was pleasantly surprised that a bus arrived just as I reached a bus stop.

We are due to experience lots of heat and humidity for the rest of this week, with possible daily thunderstorms.  I will continue to practise all my heat avoidance techniques!

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  It is so much fun to trade comments and discover how much we do share in our daily lives.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

We have now reached deep summer, and I will soon be sharing some city views I've seen on my recent excursions.

But first I thought I would share this oil painting I completed back in 1991.  What a long time ago that was. 

The following photographs are of a few of the drawings I have recently been making of the tiny plant I showed you in my previous post.

Good news is that I have been able to keep the little plant alive, and will continue making more portraits, as I try to rekindle my drawing mojo.

Meanwhile, I would like to share a little anecdote that shows what a small world we live in.  

During my years of employment in the retail fashion world, many of the garments I helped to sell were what could be called tunics, designed to be worn over slim trousers or even leggings.  The length of the tunic shape helped some women to be more comfortable in the slim trousers or leggings.

I often wore this combination myself, and would joke to the clients that the tunic provided a "bridge over troubled waters."  The clients would laugh, and would usually also buy the silhouette I had recommended to them.

One evening when I used that description, the client really laughed and said she would have to tell this to her friend who was an assistant to Paul Simon.  My client said her friend would find it very funny, too.  

Just a few minutes later, the client's friend came into the shop and was told the Bridge connection.  She laughed and laughed and said that she would be sure to mention it to Paul Simon.  Then we all giggled a bit, thinking that perhaps in future performances of his famous tune, PS would be thinking about middle-aged women solving their clothing dilemmas.

Well...let us flash forward to the recent Democrat Party's political convention at which H. Clinton was nominated for U.S. President.  Paul Simon, who has announced his plans to retire from music, appeared to entertain the convention delegates one evening and performed...Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

I cannot tell you how much I giggled during the song while wondering if Paul Simon was thinking of the candidate's outfits.  

Thank you all for indulging me this story.  I truly appreciate your visits and comments.  More city views will appear soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

It is a hot and humid Saturday.  The temperature has been stretching towards the 90 degree level, and is now about 95 degrees.  Forecasts call for this sort of challenging weather to continue for many more days.  100 degrees may be reached.

I've been a lazy blogger, but will try to give you all a bit of a catch up of recent city views.

Last Monday, I met a friend over at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a very fine exhibit of opaque watercolor miniature paintings from India.  These beautiful paintings currently belong to The Kronos Collections, but are "promised gifts" to the Met.  Please do click on the link to see the Met's information about the show.

Sometimes I find exhibit labels irritating.  The labels for this show were wonderfully informative and actually quite witty in explaining the setting and story line of the scene depicted in each painting.  I definitely intend to return for another look and will make use of the available magnifying glasses.  The air conditioning was another plus!

My Met membership has expired, and for the time being, I will be taking advantage of the "suggested contribution" to attain entrance to the wonderful museum.  Having worked there for quite a few years back in the 1970s, I feel no guilt at now making minimal monetary contributions.

The pictures I have added to this post show a pretty little desert plant I bought at the farmers market.  I plan to use it as a subject for some watercolor studies.  The plant's colors are almost iridescent.

I confess that on several evenings this past week I did force myself to watch the Republican Party's Convention in Cleveland.  There was much anger on display and also an attempt to spread fear. 

However, on one evening, I fixed myself an early supper, and then walked a few blocks down to Lincoln Center to see the opening event to this year's Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors festival.  Everything is free and a variety of performances are on the schedule.  I've provided a link for folks who might be in New York during the festival weeks.

July 20th's headliner was Patti Smith and her band.  She has performed several times before at the Out-of-Doors festivals and is a New York City favorite.  I am fortunate to have met Patti and to have been given an inscribed copy of her memoir, Just Kids.

It was a swell night outdoors, under the almost still full moon.  Patti read a bit from Just Kids, declaimed an Allen Ginsburg poem and then, she and her band, including guitarist Lenny Kaye, played for about two hours.  Lots of Patti classics, but they also played tribute covers of When Doves Cry, This Will Be the Last Time, and My Generation.  

There were thousands of folks attending the show, some very early arrivals got to be close to the stage where rows of folding chairs were lined up.  No one really sat down after the music started up.  The rest of us just found a bit of space somewhere in Damrocsh Park plaza.  Folks of all ages from babies to folks older than I am.

The spirit of the evening was fabulous.  Lots of smiles and some very varied dance styles on display.

On yet another hot morning, I walked over to Central Park to watch a playoff game in the Broadway Show Softball League.  It was truly too hot for such activity.  I actually left for my walk home before the game was over, and while the Hamilton team was well behind in runs.  I was wilted and decided to act my age.

Let's see, what else got me out of the apartment?  Yesterday two friends and I decided to brave the heat to meet for lunch at a Greek restaurant that has sort of become our clubhouse.  The food is delicious and very reasonably priced.  The location on Ninth Avenue is in a neighborhood traditionally referred to as Hell's Kitchen.  Appropriate in the current heat, even if the neighborhood is yet another area that has undergone lots of gentrification.

My friends and I had a marvelous catch up visit and agreed to meet up again soon.

Last night, the media reported another shooting incident, this time in the Munich suburbs.  I turned the television off.

Even with the overnight heat, I slept well and woke up early enough to accomplish my outdoor errands before today's true sizzle struck. I will now stay indoors near my fan and lots of cold water for the rest of the day.  Salad is on the menu for supper tonight.  I've noticed that the 1954 film Hobson's Choice is on television tonight, along with many other viewing choices.  I've also got several books on my to-be-read stack.

I'm hoping that this post has given you all an idea of how city summer days may be experienced.  Thank you so much for your visits to and comments on my previous post.  Summer in the city can be very enjoyable if you pace yourself!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

We are now into deep summer in the city.  It is hot and it is humid.  Continuing my celebration of retirement, I am delighted not to have to ride the subway except when I really want to.  The train cars are chilled by air conditioning, but the subway station platforms are very hot.  The loudspeaker systems broadcasts warnings to passengers of possible heat-related stress.  I always take along some sort of card in my tote bag that will serve as a fan.

Above ground, we have had some rain and so leafy greenery and grasses are flourishing.  The above trio of Upper West Side brownstone houses show off a mid-summer wreath of wisteria vines.

Central Park is very overgrown, but lingering there is not so pleasant in the current weather.  I actually chose to miss last Thursday's Broadway Show League's Thursday softball game in favor of going downtown to have my brilliant hair stylist scissor off my crazy grown out hair.  I am back in precision bob land again.  It is good to feel the occasional breeze on the back of my neck.

Even in this heat, with the help of my apartment's cross ventilation and the three speeds of my trusty Vornado fan, I've been doing some embroidery and some knitting.  I've made several gifts for friends, some using cotton yarn and some using wool.  The fair isle mitts in the following picture may eventually be added to my etsy shop.  I am working on another pair now in a different color way.

As a lazy bones, I've also been watching tennis at Wimbledon, Le Tour de France all over scenic France and even some international football championship games.

Seeing these positive athletic achievements, and those of nature's summer feast of green growth has provided positive alternatives to recent news stories.  There is much being reported by the media every day about horror that people are inflicting on people.  Lies that people are telling, arguments that people are provoking.  Not just in this country but also around the world.

I continue to try to do my tiny part in the cosmos by being kind, trying to be thoughtful and caring for other people.  Trying to understand points of view that differ from my own.

I wonder what part the hot weather plays in the current atmosphere?

Perhaps those of you who grow your own produce will be amused by this series of photographs of a tiny fenced-in triangular sliver that is designated Sherman Square.  It is not a square.  It is officially a city park area.  This year, it does not seem to be receiving much care from city gardeners.

On the Broadway side of Sherman Square, trucks from Fresh Direct, an on-line grocery ordering service, park and unload their orders for customers from the immediate area.  There truly does not seem to be much either fresh or direct about the process, but each delivery does seem to have a certain ironic content. 

A few blocks downtown on Broadway is another little triangle where a mini version of a farmers market is set up several days each week.  I have shown you all photographs from this space before.

During the summer, free concerts are being held in the midday sun here each week.  The music is fine, there are chairs and tables for folks to have their lunches while listening to the music.  I cannot imagine how hot the musicians must get during their performances.

All the same, it's a great idea.  Also available at the little farmers market are some beautiful freshly cut flowers.

More reasons to be cheerful.

 Other reasons to be cheerful are the visits you all make to these posts and the lovely comments you write.  I continue to think that the blogging community is a very positive place.  

Let's continue to celebrate all that connects us and explore our differences, keeping open the possibility of learning from each other.

Happy Summer!