Sunday, April 26, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

I have read lots of blogs today that brought to my screen all the beauty of spring's arrival in various countrysides. I was awake, yet felt that I was also dreaming.

New York reality today has showed me ... and anyone else around this city on a prematurely summer day. It was 90 degrees. If I were less lazy, I would do the centigrade conversion, but the heat has made me lazy.

Often our city will suddenly embrace this sort of sun-fueled heat at the end of May. To have it happen in late April is a surprise. I dug out my favorite 2008 sandals, and got the laundry done early, got the other required errands done early.
I live in a building built before World War II, and therefore, in city real-estate speak, deemed pre-war. This might amuse some of you all who live in older countries. The walls of this pre-war building are thick enough to keep its inhabitants cool for long after the outside gets hot. Even tonight it is quite comfy in this apartment, and only one window is open.

But I do get ahead of myself. In the early afternoon, I set off on a bus for the east side of Central Park, planning to walk back home after my visit to the library. Just before I boarded the bus, at the end of a long queue, I heard the bus driver in a typically loudish, or even loutish, conversation with another boarding passenger. Seemed that there might be a change of route. The man in front of me did not want any delay in his eastward trip.

I knew that there was a March of Dimes Walk fund raiser around town today, because I'd sent my usual check to a dear friend who's walked this walk for decades, but somehow I had forgotten that there was also a parade on Fifth Avenue, honoring Greece.

I got on the bus. We began our journey. Just as we got to Central Park West (obviously the western boundary of the glorious Park) the driver announced that we would indeed be taking a detour. Bit of tension moved its way backward from the driver's frontal location through the bendy-bus. I just relaxed, knowing that at the worst, I would see more of the Park from the bus window than I would see on the normal route.
The detour took a very long time. We did get to the east side, and I got off the bus around Park Avenue, so that I could capture some photos of the tulips in their final act of blooming. There are blocks and blocks planted with these tulips and these flowering trees. With today's heat, these Park Avenue beauties will not have many more days of glory.

Block after block has this planted area dividing the uptown and downtown traffic routes.

I have taken these pictures following a special request from a lady who remembers the Park Avenue tulips, even as she now shows us so many beautiful views of Vienna.

Ah, finally off the bus, and over to the library for a great hunt in the stacks, and discovery of a book that would otherwise have been lost. It had not been checked out for years. The book is The Stone Book, by Alan Garner.

Got the book checked out, and decided to brave the mid-afternoon heat for a walk through the Greek parade and back across the Park. Great decision!

There was a slight breeze, and I remembered to visit what was still abloom in the Lilac Walk.

Most of the many varieties of lilacs along this little pathway just south of the Sheep Meadow have already gotten past the bloom stage are are leafy green. All the same, those still in flower are also giving all who pass by their delightful fragrance.

As I began to really feel the warmth of this sunny afternoon, I glanced over at the crowds that had chosen to gather all over the Sheep Meadow. A few weeks ago, this area was still fenced off, not available to the sun worshipping public. The gates are now open.

Would any of you all really want to be one of hundreds of people on this lawn? Or would you prefer to be on a country lane, or dealing with various needs of your garden, or watching cricket (or even playing cricket?) Do you perhaps see where my dreams arise?

I wish you all pleasant dreams.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

I hope that many of you have had the treat of reading blogs by Exmoor Jane. For some reason, Jane has tagged me to participate in a meme. I am both honored and alarmed.

I will try to answer some of Jane's questions, and then ... read carefully to the end, will tag some readers to catch the toss and perhaps respond. No pressure. Only respond if you wish.

What are your current obsessions?
Trying to survive is at the top of the list as our world changes in so many ways.

What's for dinner?
Just had that quickly prepared dinner, and as it is many evenings, it involved pasta, lots of colorful vegetables, a bit of chicken, olive oil, Parmesan. A few glasses of wine always make these dinners relaxing.

Last thing you bought?
On the way home from work, I got a quart of milk and a half gallon of orange juice. Oh, and also some chocolate almond biscotti.

What are you listening to?
Reggae show on BBC via my trusty laptop. I am multi-tasking.

Favorite holiday spots?
Years ago, when I could afford to take vacations, I would always travel across the Atlantic to the UK, and have many favorites places there.

Reading right now?
Current issue of The New Yorker magazine, and ... courtesy of a tip from Jane, Granny Reardun, by Alan Garner.

Four words to describe yourself?
Honest, un-dyed (hair), tired, energetic.

Do you talk to yourself?
Oh, yes, and sing also.

Guilty pleasure?
I just cannot answer this one. Any answer that I begin to write just seems so trivial.

Who or what makes you laugh until you're weak.
Less and less as time goes on. I still do smile quite easily.

First spring thing?
Seeing the faint green haze over Central Park and taking that first walk to see if the snow drops are a bit past it, and if the yellow signals of daffs and forsythia are on the move.

Planning to travel to next?
If the economic situation does not improve, I may never again travel for holiday pleasure. next travel would either be via the NYC subway to work or perhaps by foot over to beautiful Central Park.

Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Another tricky one. I did have a pretty delicious slice of cake with raspberry filling and marzipan icing last week.

Flower of the moment?
As a city person, I mostly experience flowers vicariously. Tulips are the latest showstoppers in New York.

Favorite ever film?
Too tough to select one. The Manchurian Candidate and Dr Strangelove were pretty good, but I also just loved The Thin Man, My Man Godfrey, lots of the Marx Brothers films, Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes, Wings of Desire, Chinatown ... too many others come to mind.

Care to share some wisdom?
I love to gather wisdom from others, and only get up the courage to share any of my own notions when really, truly feel that someone would want to hear some of my nonsense.

Would you rather walk, run or ride?
Walking is my choice every time possible. It clears my mind of troubles, and often presents me with some unexpected joy. A flower, a friend I haven't thought I'd see, a funny dog, a child learning to walk.

So, I have gotten through Jane's challenge, and will now pass on the toss. If any of the following folks see this post and wish to take up the tag, please do replace one question, add a question, and have a bit of fun with the list. I pass along no pressure at all.

Readers tagged are:
Irish Eyes

I've listed lots of names of folks who are kind enough to visit my blog. If any of the rest of you have not visited these folks, I encourage you to make that click.

With that, I will now wish all of you pleasant dreams.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on Easter Sunday.

Some of you may know that each year there is a rather informal Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue. About ten blocks of the Avenue are closed to vehicular traffic, and folks stroll along. Some pose for pictures and some, like me, take pictures.

These ladies take their hats very seriously.

This lady, wearing lots of metal, even on her head, takes her cell phone very seriously.

This very entertaining couple on a segue were graceful dancers who never spilled a drop from the tea cups on their heads.

There were many visitors from abroad on the Avenue. Three traditionally dressed Japanese ladies brought along a young friend who'd traded her obi for a backpack.

Some of the blocks were fairly uncrowded, and it was easy to stroll along.

Of course, many folks brought their dogs along; however, few dogs endured bonnets.

The above bonnets were totally encrusted with jelly beans. Wish that I could have gotten closer, but they were walking pretty quickly.

This picture taken along the esplanade at Rockefeller Center, near the famous skating rink, shows a stylish, if over the top, diva in the doorway of an expensive candy store.

This gentleman's hat is very cheery. His face is not so cheery.

I saw very few parasols. I like this lady's gloves.

Isn't this hat grand?

Now here is a bon vivant.

Which did come first, the chicken or the egg?

There are many clever folks in New York City.

This lady is definitely going green.

Here is lovely family group who might just have gone to church this morning. Note how Dad is sharing his straw boater.

I do not think that this is a genuine senorita.

Some definitely have it and flaunt it. Others stick with the hoodie.

Here is a hat with a message.

I think that this choir boy might be late for church.


Very sharp suits and hats. Are those called fedoras?

The hats this couple made were very clever, showing how Bernard Madoff had made off with their nest eggs.

That hat looks very heavy, and I surely do hope it is not.

This lady was telling everyone the name of the milliner who designed her hat.

This is a rather subdued ensemble, except for the bunny at the top.

These are two of a quartet of fashionistas wearing wonderful vintage outfits.

Here is the quartet. Sorry that the rightmost two are so much in the shadows. It was very crowded around them.

Here is one of the churches along the Avenue, and a girl who brought along her basket.

This may seem a very unremarkable picture. Please do look closely at the man in black with his bunny ears and cotton tail.


The lady in the foreground seems a bit dark for a sunny Easter. Also have a look at the top hat in the background.

What a little sweetie and what a kind Dad.

Flowers, butterflies and bees. Spring is in the air.

One rarely sees fur coats at this Parade. The hat is beautiful.

Mother and daughter.

This lady loved posing for photos in her swaths of tulle.

This is a hat and then some.
This couple was in such a good mood.
I am hoping that you all now have a bit of an idea of what it was like on Fifth Avenue today. It is a bit of circus, but such fun to see how creative folks can be.
There have been many, many photographs in my last few blogs. It may be time for me to return to more prose. Not sure.
Happy Easter to everyone.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on Palm Sunday.

Yesterday very strong winds raced across our city for hours and hours. Surely a weather change was being delivered.

This morning's sky was bright blue, and the temperature declared it was again sweater weather, no coat required! How lucky I am to have had this day off. How lucky I am to live near Central Park on such a day.

I hope you all will allow me to take you on a brief walk around this lovely green space in the center of our city.

I usually enter the Park at the West 72nd Street entrance. The park has many walkways, but also has actual roadways that are used by cars during some hours, and used by pedicabs, horse drawn carriages, bicyclists and roller bladers at other times.

I like to walk through the Strawberry Fields area, and to pass by the pretty little wisteria tunnel. Today I saw these intricate shadows. They made me think of music.

Here is what some of the actual wisteria looks like. Later on in this season, I will try to remember to post a shot of it in full bloom.

I decided to walk east a bit along the southern end of the lake just to see what was blooming there, and if any rare (to us) birds might be around.

I didn't see any rare birds, but just across the roadway, looking south I saw lots of people and dogs relaxing on the lush lawn. See the Central Park South buildings looming over the end of the park ... about one half mile away

Who could resist a bright view of blue and yellow?

I then back tracked and took an uptown (northern) turn so I could follow a pathway along the edge of the lake. To my left was another roadway. The young man probably should have left his shirt on.

Along this edge of the lake are some quaint little summer houses. Very popular with tourists for photos! In the lake today I saw lots of the rental rowboats being put to use by romantic couples. I also saw some ducks and turtles.

The little pathway that swerved down near the summerhouses is a place where lots of pretty plants grow. I am going to share some pictures of New York hellebores.

The hellebores are protected by the wire fencing so that over enthusiastic admirers, like myself perhaps, will treat them gently.

Aren't they beautiful? I saw hundreds of them this afternoon.

Now, I continue my walk uptown, past the northern boundary of the lake. There are several transverse roads cut through the Park, so that vehicles can travel east/west. When I write about taking the bus across the park, this this the route that bus takes.

And now we are going to linger a while in my favorite part of Central Park. It is the Shakespeare Garden. This spot is beautiful in every season, and always provides a tranquil site. The next picture shows the western entry way to the Garden. The Garden is arranged on an incline.

There are several ways to walk through the Garden, some paved walkways, and also some very uneven paths made up of flat stones. Both feature gentle curves, so it is easy to "climb."

Some of the Garden gets very strong sun, and the plants in those parts are always ahead of the season. Other more shady areas have flowers, shrubs and trees that are not in such a hurry.

I love this tree.

There is a handy sun dial located near some benches made in the same rustic style as the fencing.

I took some photos of individual flowers. I am not totally sure of the exact names of many of these. Please feel free to educate me!

Look at this blue.

More rustic fencing ... and those are daffodils!

I loved this little trio with their pointy petals.

When you reach the top of the Shakespeare Garden you can exit down another sloping pathway that will take you past more flowers, and many more people, and will lead to the Great Lawn.

Pink and blue are so beautiful together. Which painters does this tree remind you of?

The Great Lawn is soooo green. Games are played here. Some concerts have been given here. I remember being at the Simon and Garfunkle reunion concert years ago, and thinking that Mr Garfunkle was singing way off key. Most of the rest of the crowd seemed not to notice.

I like these signs.

Leaving the Great Lawn, we head eastward, passing by Cleopatra's Needle, a gift to New York. Can you guess its original country?

Central Park has many graceful bridged and underpasses. I love this one because it has a wonderful echo effect. There is almost always a musician playing there, and hoping for a donation. I don't know if you can see today's saxophone player, on the left, just before the light at the end of the underpass. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is just beyond this underpass.

I almost stopped my walk in order to have another visit to the Met, but resisted. It was just too beautiful outside.
There are many statues all over the Park. This heroic figure is one of my favorites. We are about to start walking downtown (southward) on the east side of the Park.

As we walk along, Fifth Avenue is to our left. Ah, more daffs still going strong in a sheltered location.

Another typical sight in the Park is an Asian couple having their wedding photos taken.

I don't know if you all are getting tired, but my legs were beginning to say it was time to head back to the west side.

On the right hand side of this photo you'll see the old band shell. This edifice was to have been torn down years ago, but it has many nostalgic fans, and some of them must be powerful enough to continue to save it.
Roller bladers often do their thing on the paved area in front of the band shell. Today, there was a Michael Jackson impersonator whom I have often also seen doing his thing in the subway stations.

I often wonder why folks don't like to spread out a bit in the great outdoors. They have the rest of the city available if they want to be in a crowd.

Ah, maybe here's an explanation. The large open space known as the Sheep's Meadow is still closed so that the lawn can really get established for the late spring, and summer season.

I hope that you all have enjoyed the Park. Perhaps those of you who have not been to New York will know why I am so glad to live near this gem.
Easter is only a week away. I have begun looking at chocolate, trying to decide how to break my Lenten fast.
Any suggestions?