Wednesday, October 29, 2008

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

When I first began writing these posts, I wrote much more frequently than I have done recently. Why I have not written recently, that is a bit of a mystery. Surely, each day still contains 24 hours. Surely, my life has not taken on any additional excitement that would keep me from writing.

Perhaps it is just a question of the seasons. The four seasons of the calendar year, and the seasons, or seasoning, that enter each of our lives. Sometimes we rush to do a particular task, or to great a new friend, or to explore a fresh interest. Time will pass as we learn what these aspects contribute to our entrenched sense of our very own self. And with that time, we slowly embrace these additions to our knowlege of who we are, who we might yet turn out to be.
Many of us might remember when the summer vacation (holiday) from school seemed endless. Some of us may remember other parts of our younger years in which time seemed to pass at a different speed. How was it that I once made all my own clothes, had numerous boyfriends (with all the demands and delights that time provided,) read book after book, painted so many canvasses, learned how to make silkscreen prints, etchings, drypoints. I did all this while holding down very demanding jobs, and seeing films and plays, traveling abroad, having dinner with friends, preparing dinners for lots of friends. Baked two loaves of bread every weekend. Grew flowers and vegetables. And so on.

Do we all slow down eventually, and have to learn how to re-prioritize? I can clearly remember a time when prioritizing did not figure in my thoughts.

Well, for about a week now, I have been luxuriating in the art of relaxation. In light of the current financial turmoil, I had decided not to travel during the holiday time I had long ago gained permission to spend away from the usual demands of the shop. My city is great fun to enjoy, and even better to just explore, without too many plans.

What have I been doing.

I have commenced the delightful annual task of painting each of my Christmas cards. For decades, I have used the motif of a tea cup, and just let the decorative style take over, with lots of red and green and gold.

I have been working on more fair isle knitted squares for my long time coverlet project. The coverlet grows larger, and its expanse is welcome as the New York nights grow colder.

I have been enjoying the beauty of Central Park as the trees turn yellow, gold, red. The lawns remain a brilliant emerald. The Shakespeare Garden area has lots of summer plants that have gone to seed or to pod, and the after-hours designs of these plants produce lovely botanical sculptures.

It has been grand to see my dear friends whom I seem to usually have difficulty seeing. We lunch at various spots around town, and talk, talk and talk some more. These friends are such treasures ... we have known each for decades, and at this point really have no secrets from each others. We just share our evolution with each other, sometimes indulging in deep nostalgia for times we have mutually loved much more than the current time. We can also help each other to respond to the challenges posed by the future. Truly, many of us are quite frightened by the financial mess, but we cheer each other up.

Currently at the Metropolitan Museum a show is on view by one of my absolute favorite artists, Giorgio Morandi. I have been to see this exhibit several times, and will return for more visits. On each visit, I have been struck by the many folks also in attendance. Many of these folks are Italians. My city is indeed an international city, and it is wonderful to feel that energy.

Today, I went with an old friend to the Morgan Library to see a very elegantly presented exhibit of the preparatory drawings and watercolors that led to the magnificent Babar stories. Again, I was struck by the international element of New York. As we toured the exhibit, we were joined by several small school group tours. One of the groups was conducted in French. It was so charming to be reading the handwritten French text that went along with the paintings, and to hear the very young French voices in the background eagerly exploring the adventures of a very young elephant who was to become king.

You may wish to turn your head to see the young elephant as the photo was intended. This not very young photographer is too dumb to figure out how to turn the picture around. Please forgive me. I am on holiday and trying to avoid any sense of responsibility.

Do you see how time can be spent so enjoyably when one is released from the demands usually made on a daily basis?

I have not looked at any e-mails related to the shop. I have let any phone calls just go to the answering machine. I have tossed my mantle of responsibility over the wall.

I have seen many beautiful autumn displays on the front steps of brownstone houses in my neighborhood. The folks who arranged these did it for their pleasure, but also for the pleasure of the passersby. In a big city like this, it is an extraordinary gift and show much trust in the good will of the passersby.

Still, amid all this relaxation, I do continue to keep an eye on the final tremors of our political season. Not many days to go now.

This post has meandered a bit, and I am glad that it has felt free to go along those varied paths. If all has gone according to plan, I will have left you all a few pictures along the way.

Pleasant dreams.


  1. A truly wonderful post Frances, and wonderful pictures too. How I would love to be able to knit that beautiful fair-isle square, gorgeous colours,and sure to keep you snug on a cold winter's night.

    It has been in my thoughts of many weeks now, how does the time slip by so quickly, years ago I packed so much more in, but there is still the 24 hour clock.

    So pleased you got to meet up with old friends while on vacation Frances and to tread that path of nostalgia, this being something I can never seem to let go of somehow.

    The picture of Pumpkins is reminding me that it will soon be time for me to pop in little tea-lights to mine on Halloween Night.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation Frances, and painting those beautiful Christmas Cards that friends are so lucky to be receiving by your wonderful creative hand.


  2. You certainly know how to pack vacation time with lots and lots of good things, Frances.
    The fair isle coverlet is beautiful - must be a treat on a cold New York winter night!

  3. What a lovely meander Frances. Love your coverlet, I've never tried fair isle knitting, there's another thing for my have a go at list.

  4. Thank goodness for your absolutely beautiful and uplifting post during a week of utter media madness here. Thank you so much, Frances.

  5. It sounds as if you have had a fantastic week recharging the batteries. I loved your meandering post through the streets and galleries of Manhatten.

    Your quilt caught my eye - how jewel-like it is. Have you knitted every square? If so I can understand why it is a long term project. The colours are beautiful.

  6. Just beautiful Frances, thank you.
    Your knitting is divine, being of Scottish decent I love anything to so with Scotland and the Highland but I think that Fair lsle Knitting is just one of my most favorites.
    Its lovely to see so many of these traditional crafts revived.
    AS I read you post I though of something my mother often says
    " Take time to smell the roses" and it is so true, we rush past the simplest things and don't take the time to enjoy them.
    Its nice to see that you have.
    Much love
    Blossom xx

  7. This was such a joy to read Frances, thank you.

    I absolutely adore your fair-isle blanket, it is just beautiful.

    You are so talented and creative in so many ways. I can see that when you do retire, all this creativity will explode.

    I agree with you about time passing more quickly, everyone says the same. Perhaps we do pack in too much, take in too much information. And as we grow older we don't have the same energy I suppose.

    I do envy you sometimes living amongst all that culture, no wonder you are inspired.

    And you can write too!

    Don't leave it too long before you blog again.


  8. A wonderful post packed with so much. Your knitted squares are beautiful.
    Every year i promise myself that i will make my own christmas cards, but every year i run out of time. This post has inspired me to think about it more.
    Thnak you.

  9. Oooh! I love the blanket and the idea of the Halloween decorations on the brown stone houses. A delightful blog.

  10. So good to see you back in Bloglandia!
    I came looking for you in the shop the other day but was glad you were still on vacation.
    Ah, talking about times we enjoyed more.......Hm....yes - the past now seems a mysterious and more wonderful place.
    Yes, I think I have less energy than I used to. Nothing such bliss as doing nothing.
    But I will have to see the Morandi.
    When I first heard of him more than 30 years ago, I thought how wonderful to find such richness in so small a space.
    See you soon.

  11. That fair-isle is just fabulous Frances - is there no end to your talents?
    Ah, I know just how you feel about paucity of did we ever used to manage it every day? I think it's a habit that can easily be lost.
    Once again I do envy you your plethora of culture...the one part of country living I do miss.
    Can't really believe that Christmas is looming......

  12. Fabulous blog as usual, so calm and measured and in touch with what's important. I adored the fair isle - I used to have several fair isle jumpers knitted by my grandmother, sadly all gone now. Good luck tomorrow - vote early and vote often (as long as it's for the right ticket!)

  13. Wonderful knitting project, such skill. I know what you mean about not writing as much lately - I've noticed a few of us like that... maybe it is the season, an onset of melancholy with these darker days that robs us of our creativity?
    How lovely to have time to catch up with your friends. A rare treat.

  14. This is glorious Frances, reading it was so relaxing and enjoyable. Glad you have switched off and are letting the voicemail take over. Love the fair isle squares, simply gorgeous!

  15. Oh Frances, I had somehow missed this lovely meandering post. Just perfect to read at the start of another busy day and a great reminder to step back and appreciate what's around us.

    The financial situation is tru;y frightening and I think the turmoil of an election with its inherent change adds somehow to all that - will it improve things? Who knows, but I have just listened to the news on the radio and heard of your new President. What a job he has ahead of him.

    Your week sounded lovely and full of the things you should be doing. Well done for ignoring the shop and taking time for you, a very special you who deserves some pampering. xx

  16. I have enjoyed my first visit to your blog, you live in one of my favourite cities and it was so nice to be reminded of Central Park. I am a great fan of Helene Hanffe and enjoyed her writings about The Shakespeare garden.

    I agree with you about time, I seem to achieve so little in what has to be the same 24hrs.

    Your knitting is beautiful, such lovely colours!

  17. Dare I admit to having taken up knitting ? very primitive however compared to your wonderful creation. The fall must be beautiful over there, oh and hand made Christmas cards too, golly.

  18. This non-knitter is goggling with awe at your beautiful Fairisle cover. I am glad you are getting some painting done, and letting the shop look after itself.

  19. Whilst I love all your blogs Frances-I can just about keep up with them when they are not so prolific!Absolutely agree about the 24 hours. I try getting up at 4 in the morning some days to squeeze more in but it eventually catches up and is false economy.

    What a beautiful, beautiful blankets-I LOVE fair isle and could never knit that-You are SO clever and lucky you to have something so precious to snuggle up with.
    Lovely photos too and so charming to hear/see Babar-He used to be one of my favourites! I have a blue teddy (not an elephant!) called Celeste!

  20. your squares are beautiful..Wish i could knit..Well at least i can crochet..iam in the process of making a big granny squares blanket for top of my bed..
    keep posting, i love your blog, and the pics you take around NY..

  21. I have just had a little mooch through your very interesting blog. I have never been to New York but hope I will one day. This is a good substitute in the meantime. I chose to comment here because I went to a Morandi exhibition in the lakeland town of Kendal a couple of years ago. Its strange to think that the same paintings may have been seen by both of us.