Sunday, October 24, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.
This has been a beautiful late October day. Sweater weather. Blue sky. And from my point of view, even better that all that, it has been a day off.
The past week has been a bit too full of activities that have left me searching for extra hours of sleep, and for more time for pursuits of my own choosing. In other words, work has been demanding. I am glad that it's been busy on the work front, because that situation might signal a continued improvement of our economy. At my age, I am glad to be employed, and to have the energy for that employment.
I will now tell you a bit about some places I visited on my time off. Let's start with Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, absolute midtown, and the location of the main branch (and total architectural gem) New York Public Library. The Fifth Avenue facade of the library is currently undergoing some clean up processes, but the two stone lions, affectionately known as Patience and Prudence, who guard the stairs to the library's entrance way, are definitely looking very good. I liked the composition of the following photo featuring a gent catching up on news via a printed newspaper, not via a more modern medium.
I was on my way to a sample sale of a wonderful Italian company that specializes in cashmere knit accessories and beautiful leather gloves. The giant mums below were amongst the plantings just the other side of the stone lion. At all times of the year, the library makes a point of having this little garden space full of beauty.
The sample sale was very well organized, and full of beautiful bargains, but I resisted. This company will hold two more sessions of this sort of sale leading up to Christmas, and at each subsequent session the prices will be reduced. It's a great place to find fabulous gifts.
I had more errands to do that day, and managed to get through much of my list. Some of this list involved boring bits like housecleaning and laundry. It also involved the gathering of food. I visited the big farmers market at Union Square and got some fresh veg and a vast selection of various apples. Many of these apples have now become part of a yummy apple crumble.
My local food market is located next to another food market. The other food market is a bit more expensive, and so I rarely shop there. I do, however, admire their window displays that often feature fanciful arrays of seafood. The following photo gives you a glimpse of such a window.
This time next week it will be Halloween. While gazing at this past week's brilliant full moon, I began to think about how much I love Halloween. This might be due to childhood memories of candy gathering, but I also feel it has to do with the tradition of donning a costume. It's lovely to have this annual opportunity to cast aside one's day-to-day face, and to try another persona.
My neighborhood is still traditional in certain ways, and there is already evidence of Halloween preparation. There is a little antiques shop that does seasonal window displays crowded with various vintage decorations appropriate to the upcoming holiday.

The above photo shows a tiny model haunted house, with a very tiny pumpkin out in front. I took some other photos of the same window, but the sunlight's reflection diminished the effect of those pictures.
Many brownstone houses in the neighborhood have begun to put pumpkins out on their front steps, and I will try to get some photos of these doorways for my next post.
Today, I tried to get my errands done early, so that I could have a very easy going afternoon. I continued working on my current sock knitting project, while doing a bit of reading. Yes, it's possible to read and knit at the same time. This is easy multi-tasking. I have just about finished this sock, and will soon begin work on its mate. The Trekking (XXL) yarn from Germany has a variegated colorway that gives a subtle striping to the socks. The yarn is much more of a red than is apparent in my photo.
Tomorrow, it will be back to work for me.
Before I end this post, I would like to mention that a relative dear to me lost her long, long battle with cancer this past week. She was someone whom I always thought of as the epitome of glamour, sophistication, intelligence and talent. She was a gifted poet, lived in many parts of the world, and together with her wonderful husband raised two talented sons. May her soul rest in peace.
Best wishes to you all. May you all have a grand week ... perhaps you will also enjoy celebrating the liberating possibilities of Halloween.


  1. Another lovely post, Frances. I so enjoy walking with your through your city - especially the glimpses of your neighbourhood.
    I have only recently begun to knit again. My brain doesn't seem to be as supple as it once was and I don't think I'll ever read and knit. I struggle with chatting or watching TV and knitting.
    Something that I will take away from this post is your gratitude for employment. More and more I am tired of working and struggle with the long hours - I will try to inject some gratitude for the job and the health to do it. Thank you.

  2. I love your photos of NY people - they always seem hint of a complex back story.

    Good to hear you're appreciating and reminding us of the little things that make life good. It's sometimes easy to get drowned by difficult events.


  3. I love your sock and wish I knew how to knit them. I'm jealous of sock knitters.

    Your weekend sounds lovely, as usual, and I'm glad that you're grateful for your job.

  4. Frances I was sorry to hear about your sad loss, she sounds like a very special person. I love the socks and am so impressed with your multi tasking, I could never manage to knit and read at the same time. We are getting all ready for Halloween here too, youngest has her costume all sorted, she has a Halloween party on Friday and then will go out guising with her friends at the weekend.
    Best wishes, Posie
    PS I love your painting of the goblets, beautiful.

  5. I always enjoy your posts. Enjoy the beautiful fall in NY. I have only seen it in person one time but I remember.

  6. Interesting story! I love the picture with the lion

  7. Frances, I do enjoy your take on the changing seasons in NYC. We too look forward to your days off as it means you get the time to visit interesting places, take photos, and tell the stories to us!

    I'm sorry to hear of your family loss. The end of a life can seem so abrupt, and the space which that person's spirit, thoughts and life occupied so very empty. All I can say is, many of her qualities must run in your family, because you exhibit them as well!


  8. PS Thank you for your comment - I so agree about the changing size (apparently) of the moon. I know they say it seems so big on the horizon because of the atmosphere, but I can scarcely believe it. *Surely* it is closer??!

  9. How nice to see Patience/Prudence - I have read of them in a book on the history of libraries, "Patience and Fortitude". I like the juxtaposition you have caught with the newspaper-reading gentleman.
    What a beautiful shop window, I too would have to pause just to admire it.

  10. What a lovely photo of the important lion together with the 'everydayness' of the man with his paper. I do enjoy your strolls.

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Frances. She sounds an amazing person and you must have some wonderful memories of her.

  11. I always enjoy the tours of New York that you provide us. The pictures; the stories.

    BTW, is that "Prudence" or "Patience" in the photo?

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your relative (and obvious friend). My sincere condolences.

    P.S.: I've started again with my "Photo of the Day/Photo du Jour" project. Pls. drop by if you've got time.

  12. Lovely post. I enjoyed seeing the picture of the lion and the man with the newspaper. That's a fabulous fish display too. I love seeing traders take pride in their work. Sorry to hear of the loss of a dear relative.

  13. Another excellent post from an excellent New Yorker.

    I love your gentle pursuits and your telling of them,
    there is no better way to experience New York than in your company.

    I am sorry that you have lost a close relative. You have given her a lovely testimonial.

  14. Hi Frances,

    Thank you for sharing those wonderful photo's with us, I do so love that photo of the twin Lions of Patience and Prudence.

    I now see what gorgeous socks you are knitting Frances, adore the colour to yarn of wool, surely will be just grand for keeping one's toesy's warm this winter, just wish I had your knitting skills Frances.

    So terribly sorry to hear the very sad news about your dear relative, may I offer you my sincere condolences to you and family.


  15. Hello again Frances,
    In my own haste this morning I did not add this, that I am so sorry you have lost a dear friend and relative. She sounds like a remarkable and lovely person who will be much missed.

  16. Dear Frances,
    my sincere condolences, so sad to hear that cancer has cut short the life of such a dear friend!

    Your photo of the reader in front of the New York Public Library is fantastic! Who'd have thought that someone would carry a chair and open it up right there? ;-)

    I am looking forward to see your pictures of the Halloween displays in your neighborhood! I truly miss Hallowing in the States. We used to celebrate with a "Silent Dinner" on the lawn of our home in DC, having dinner with crystal glasses and candlelight with dear neighbors and friends, while watching the little ghosts and goblins walk by.

    A wonderful week to you! :-)

  17. I have to share with you.. I find myself waiting for your posts like I wait for the books I've ordered to come into the local bookstore here in town, or like waiting for a favorite magazine in the mail.. I sit down to your posts with coffee in hand and prepare to be amazed, enlighted.. And you NEVER disappoint!
    I love your New York. I love reading about your simple yet elegant, yet interesting, fun life there and am perplexed how you manage to make it all those things rolled into one!
    Do you ever having boring hum drum days?? Doubtful.
    I would so love to crawl inside that library and stay for a week or two or three.. Gosh the history factor alone.. AND I am so looking forward to you Halloween posts and pics from around town!
    Most importantly however, I am very, very sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you..

  18. Love your soso charming stories, Frances.
    So sorry to hear about your loss of such an admirable person.

    Like all your knittings and crotchings, so beautiful!

  19. Thank you all for your very kind comments. I do love putting up these posts, and wish I could post more often!

    I also thank Frances Tyrrell for correctly naming those two stone lions. Indeed, they are properly called Patience and Fortitude. In another month they might be donning their traditional holly wreaths round their magnificent necklines.

    Best wishes to you all.

  20. A bittersweet post, Frances, so full of living and life and yet ending on the loss of a life. My condolences to you.

    I smiled when I saw the lions outside the library - Tom and I might have missed going inside this wonderful building but for your blog. We had to go inside after seeing the water fountains you'd photographed and had a fascinating visit.

    Glad to hear you are busy at work, even though it must make the time off seem extra precious. Cx

  21. I love your walks through NYC - I've been reading the Percy Jackson children's books lately (courtesy of James) and a lot is set in New York and makes me think of you...
    Socks are wonderful - wish I could get back into knitting. But above all, I am so so sorry to hear about your friend...I really empathise with that and am sending you a great big hug... jxxxxxxxx

  22. Love reading your posts, Frances. They give such a vivid sense of the human side of NYC and its very civilized pleasures. I love the picture of the newspaper-reader in front of the lion! Yes, please give us a peek at the Halloween pumpkins some time.
    And sorry to hear of your loss - you describe her so wonderfully, I can imagine how much you must miss her.
    All best wishes from Karen

  23. How did I miss this? Well I don't think I did I must have started to read it and then been called away for I remembered Patience and Prudence and thought of them when I was negotiating my way past the lions in Trafalgar square this week.

    I am always amazed at the rich variety of produce you describe - both food and non-food - available in New York - or rather on Manhattan Island. I think of all the lorries, ships and planes taking it all in and then taking all the rubbish out. A nightmare of logistics. I wonder if it ever breaks down and suddenly there would be no bread, or flowers, or wool in New York. Or suddenly there would be nothing to take away the unwanted packaging which would swell up and up until it, what? filled Central Park. It's a recurring nightmare.

    But another lovely blog. I do so enjoy reading what you write, Frances.