Friday, October 30, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York, on Halloween Eve.

As I walked through my neighborhood this afternoon, I could not resist taking out my camera to record more pictures of decorations on a special West Side brownstone'd block. There will be a children's Halloween party along this street tomorrow afternoon.

This lady looks just a little different from the farmers who we normally see at our weekend green markets.

I would wonder if sampling her produce would be wise. Not sure if you can read the poster affixed to the front door. It asks us to Stop Genocide.

This gentleman was standing on the steps of the adjacent house. He makes me rethink the concept of organic.

A bit further down the block I saw this display affixed to a window. Please note that the metal window gates are there to keep more than spirits from entering that home.I fear that this photo might be too out of focus to propery show the fiendish artisty that made the display reality.

What more is there to say ...

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Halloween is a few days away, and I hope to write again before that glorious holiday ends. However, knowing how my schedule sometimes surprises me, I thought that I would show you some of the spirits around New York this evening.

As I left the shop this night and glanced upwards, as usual, to the Empire State Building, I saw that tower against a cloudy sky, through a bit of a drizzle. Its colors tonight honor our wonderful baseball team, the New York Yankees. Tonight, if the weather dries somewhat, those players will take their next step toward playing again in the World Series.

Yes, I know that the World part is a bit over the top, but we have been calling our annual national baseball championship that for quite a few decades. May the world forgive us. May the Yankees win again.

I took my usual subway ride and then, with my camera in my hand walked a bit through my neighborhood looking to see if Halloween was in the air. A brightly lit shop window had this fellow wearing sunglasses, though I am not sure that he actually had eyes.

I turned down a side street, and found eyes, very large eyes in a brownstone window. My hands shook, and the picture was blurred.

I tried again, and found myself even more shaky. How is it possible for two window shades to evoke such power?

I scurried home and cut a few lights on in my little apartment. I looked in one of my mirrors and saw that even I was succumbing to the Halloween spirit.

My goodness. I tried another click of my camera and found that abstraction had taken over.

May I wish each of you great fun on Halloween, and may your spirits celebrate, wherever you and they might be.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

The past week was challenging at work and at home. The shop was very, very busy. I also learned that I have a bit of osteoporosis. I found it difficult to reach a comfortable level of free time.

Therefore, what a pleasure to wake up on this day off, without any beep from the alarm clock, and to realize that last night's thunderstorms had left this city with a clear blue sky.

This was a good day for a long walk. Central Park continues to show its transition to autumn colors, little by little.
My destination was a glorious cultural institution, Japan Society, that's located way over on the East side near the United Nations. The last time I visited Japan Society was many years ago, to see a Noh theatre performance. Today's goal was to see an exhibit of the textile designs of a Japanese national treasure, Serizawa.
As I had expected, there were very few other visitors at the time I arrived, and so I joined a group of six folks for a tour of this exhibit given by an excellent museum docent. He was British, spoke Japanese, and clearly was very enthusiastic about his subject, and delighted to find us a receptive audience. I usually steer clear of museum tour groups; today's experience makes me question that pattern.

The exhibit truly covered more than textile design, since Serizawa was a master of stencil art. The graphic design and colors involved in the many items on display were dazzling in their elegance, wit, communication, colorways, delicacy and boldness and variety. The way in which the designs bridged tradition and modernity was remarkable. It really is quite a show, and one that I will remember. I want to do a bit more research about this artist and also about the entire medium in which he worked.

It can be so inspiring to see something creative that is far different than anything you have previously know about ... and yet to feel instantly drawn to it. That is the feeling that I had this afternoon.

As I left the gallery rooms that had housed the exhibit, I happened upon another amazing show. Apparently the museum was also being used this afternoon for a gathering of Japanese families who were presenting their little girls in full kimono regalia. The girls were about five or six years old and so beautiful in their finery. Lots of photographing was going on. I felt that I would be intruding if I took out my own camera. It was very difficult to keep my recording totally in my mind's eye.

It was still quite early when I left the museum, and the day was gorgeous. And so I took a bus for a bit of my return journey, but then did another short detour through the Park. The scene below is just at the southern end of the Park. The tranquility of the view helped me hold on to the beauty of the exhibit.

I also managed a few errands before returning home, and then sat down to experiment with a bit of crocheting, just to continue the quiet, restful spell of the day. It is unusual for me to work with mohair, and I had forgotten that I had this skein of frothy pale ivory mohair/wool. I am playing around with a stitch called string of hearts. It will eventually be a twisty, textured, lightweight strand, that might be wrapped round and round to make a scarf. I surely do hope that the mohair bit won't prove scratchy.

I have also done a few sketches this afternoon in preparation for my annual Christmas card project. I think that I might have incorporated some of Serizawa's vocabulary into my card design. Since I will also have tomorrow as a day off, I'm hoping to pursue creative activities during much of the day, aside from the time I will have to devote to yet another doctor's appointment, and a visit to the dentist.

As we head towards Halloween, I do want to send lots of wishes to all you spirits around the world for a delightful holiday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

It has been more than a month since I have been able to have a walk in Central Park. This shocks me. A five-minute walk gets me to the Park.

Since my last post my life has not allowed me very much time out of doors. I have walked to and from the subway train station. On days off, I have hurried to get my grocery shopping done, I have taken the bus that travels across the Park via the transverse.

I have taken subway and bus rides to various doctor and dentist appointments. The long overdue general check up from my gp (aka primary care physician in the States) has revealed that I must alter my diet to reduce my "bad" cholesterol level. My "good" cholesterol level seems to be graciously high. My dentist is now midway through an expensive fixing of a vintage filling. The replacement will be a porcelain crown. That crown will cost the same as a brief holiday. I will chew in relaxation, reflecting on this juxtaposition of economies.

Work has filled my days and also interrupted more sleep patterns than I would wish. Well, why would anyone choose to have one's sleep patterns interrupted by dreams clearly inspired by work place concerns?

Back to today.

A day off. However, this day off also required me to be up around 6 in order to attend an early managers meeting ... across the Park. I got up, had a non-egg breakfast to respond to my doctor's instructions, and then got myself over to the East Side via subway and bus.

The meeting was much the same as many other meetings.

Afterwards, I visited my nearby former workplace, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, to see the Vermeer exhibit. The Met owns quite a few Vermeers. This fall, another painting, "The Milkmaid," is on loan from the Rijksmuseum. I will surely return to see this exhibit again before the Milkmaid returns to Amsterdam. It was grand to just pop in to renew acquaintance with this lovely picture today. It took me far, far away from work concerns.

Let me now start the photographs!

It was a warm autumn day, with a bright blue sky. I walked back home through the Park, and made sure to take a leisurely stroll down the flag stoned pathways of the marvelous Shakespeare Garden.

I have written about this garden before, and shared some photographs of its springtime face. It is just as lovely during each season of the year.

There were a few other folks wandering around the Garden, and several were taking photos.

There were many more flowers still in bloom than I would have imagined.

Of course, many of the plantings had reached the seed pod stage, yet colors were still plentiful. Lots of bees were buzzing. I was wearing one of my multi-colored hand knit sweaters and for a moment thought that some of those bees were switching their buzzing targeting over to my sweater. I made a quick and discrete retreat.

Even a few roses were still in full flower. The building just visible in the background is a chalet
-styled cottage that serves as a children's puppet theatre on weekends.

I could not resist taking a photo of this pretty mother and her twin girls in the snappy red coats.

Lots of the garden had gone on to its autumn coat. Somehow, this one reminded me of a circular staircase.

There was a bit of breeze and some of the wispier plants were blowing in it.

These stems could easily inspire a drawing or even embroidery.

The area around these lavender flowers showed evidence of some trampling by animals. I do hope that those were not insensitive humans.

I just could not resist taking a picture of these remaining orange beauties, with their jade green leaves.

I am not sure whether these are buds or pods. I just liked their shapes.

You can see just how clear and blue was the sky. And how the rose hips and branches made a design to inspire silk tapestry.

And the Shakespeare Garden also has its shady ferny areas. Again, nature clearly knows how to create beautiful shapes.

Earlier this year, I took a photo of this entrance to the Garden, as spring arrived. I thought it was just as beautiful today.

I continued my walk along the western side of the Lake, and passed under the translucent canopy of a wisteria arbor. The light was beautiful, just after midday.

And then I finished by walk, and began to think of what I would have for lunch.

I knew that I had some leftover soup in the fridge.
Beautiful Central Park does not stay beautiful all by itself. There is a large group of gardeners who care for it. Some are New York City workers, and some are paid by the funding by members of the Central Park Conservancy. I love this Park so much. I am very proud to contribute to the Conservancy

The rakes leaning against the tree in the above photo just seemed so graceful a reminder to all who passed by. Why not help this Park to remain the beautiful place that we love.
My long walk really did relax me, and took my eyes and mind far away from the job place.
I hope that you all will also enjoy seeing early fall in Central Park. By the next time I visit this route, I am sure that the leaves of the trees will be turning yellow, gold, orange, red ... and brown.
Best wishes.