Monday, March 29, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on a night lit by a full moon.

Even if the weather has retreated into a moist chill, we are a few days deeper into our springtime. I thank many readers of my previous post for their comments. I went back to check my photos of those white flowers in Central Park to see if I had some closer view that would allow you dear readers to have a more even chance of identifying these charming blooms.
Here it is. Perhaps the foliage will assist?

Even with the rather grim weather, I so enjoyed having this day off. It was a day that did not require me to prepare for the next visit of the meticulous painter. He is having a week off to observe Easter with his children. Bravo to that.

I had the great pleasure of meeting up with a great friend, a fellow artist, to take a look at several exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art. The admission fee for this museum (not a public museum) is high. Over the years that I have lived in New York, I sometimes take out a membership in MOMA, entitling me to unlimited visits. I time these memberships to my budget and to the exhibitions on offer for the 12-month free-entry period. I recently received an offer for a 14-month "annual" membership. That did it. I was hooked. I renewed.

Today's visit allowed me to see two exhibits that I will want to see again. One is a rather pop-oriented show devoted to Tim Burton. It was lots of fun, crowded with families looking at drawings and film clips and even some costumes from some of Mr Burton's films.

The other exhibit was the one that was the true draw (in every sense) for me featuring drawings, prints, and films by William Kentridge. If you all are not familiar with this man's talent, I encourage you to take a long look at whatever journey the MOMA website might offer as a starting point. There is a very interesting article about Mr Kentridge in a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine.

On the way home, I stopped by a grocery store and picked up a few frozen items to stow in my new fridge. If the weather warms up, I will soon be stocking up on ice cream.

How wonderful to realize that I also have tomorrow as a day off from the shop. And also to realize that the sunlight and blue sky might also be on offer.

Best wishes to you all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good evening from New York on an early spring evening.

Today, our spring took a break, as the temperatures dropped back into a wintry range. That's all right, it just means that our spring will have a longer span.

Yesterday was warmer, and after being indoors for hours observing the very careful, meticulous painter work his magic on my apartment's walls, I just needed to get outdoors for a walk.

I headed over to Central Park, passing past lots of interesting doorways in my neighborhood that I don't usually share with you all.

I entered the Park and walked down the gentle slope of Strawberry Fields, and saw this lovely burst of blue.

At the edge of Strawberry Fields, one crosses a roadway that's shared by cars (during some hours,) bicycles, roller bladers (not so many as in past years,) joggers. As a pedestrian, it's always wise to look both ways before that cross. I was once struck down by a very apologetic young cyclist who apologized profusely for traveling in the wrong direction.

He was chastened, I came to no real harm. I now really look right and left.

And so, I got across that roadway to the edge of the lake and began walking alongside it on my way to the Shakespeare Garden. This wisteria arbor will eventually fill with leaves. Right now it is a living line drawing.

Here's proof that the forsythia is still providing quite a show. You might just be able to glimpse a rented rowboat with a romantic couple crossing the lake.

Central Park has lots of lovely and quaint little buildings scattered about. Very picturesque, and I could not resist taking a photo of two of them.

And, having taken the photo of the quaint gazebos, I then needed to have a close up view of the daffs.

Pressing on with my stroll by the lake, I glanced back at the southern view and clicked a view on this overcast afternoon of the buildings of Central Park South rising over the edge of the Park. Southern Edge, of course. Do you see the ducks in the lake?

And then, I picked up my walking pace, and actually arrived at the entrance to the marvelous Shakespeare Garden. What are these beautiful little white flowers that filled this hill?

If I had a garden of my own, I think that I would know the name of every spring bloom that would appear. It is humiliating not to know what these purple flowers are named. It is glorious to be able to view their beauty!

Ah, here comes another admission of ignorance. Are these catkins on this shrub? What profusion!

Finally, I spy plant that I can identify. It's a quince! Its flowers are just beginning to appear.

The talented gardeners who tend this special place construct all sorts of natural sculptures upon which various plants will rest, and sprawl. I think that this one may host some peonies in a few months. I must make a note to remember to come back with my camera.

From the top of the Shakespeare Garden, you have a great vantage point to view some other Park areas. See just past the daffs, there's a fledgling Christmas tree evergreen cone, and just beyond that a little family group are enjoying this afternoon outdoors.
This particular area also has lots of flowering cherry trees. These trees will stage their show in a few more weeks.

Here's another example of nature encouraging the future shaping of nature. I passed by a trio of these espalier trainers. Again, I will try to remember to return to see how this experiment turns out.

Hellebores are all over the areas through which I walked. As you true gardeners know, these flowers tend to gently, demurely hang their heads a bit. And so, to offer you all a sample view, I kept looking for hellebores that were planted on a level above the walkway. Finally, success arrived and the planting site also allowed the dark backing of a lovely tree.

And so, I did have a fine walk in Central Park in the early springtime.
I returned home to my apartment. The very careful painter continues to visit a day or two each week. The living room is now almost completely repainted. The results are truly dramatic.
The following picture shows the effect of the fresh paint on the right edge, together with two sort of Rothko circles of pre-paint against the 22-year-old paint.

I rather like the soft-edge abstract effect of this photo.
The following photo shows a sharper edge near a ceiling corner, where new paint meets old paint over a bookcase.

And as a farewell photo, may I show you all the huge new frost-free fridge that somehow was shoehorned into my minuscule alcove kitchen?

The Fridge and I are still trying to get used to each other. I wonder if I will ever be able to afford to buy enough food to fill its freezer.
Happy Spring to all.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Today I embarked on a long overdue project, with the help of the man employed as official painter by the management of my apartment building. He is a careful, efficient and genial man. He and I are forming a team to get my apartment painted for the first time since I moved here 22 years ago. Yes. Twenty-two years.

My apartment is small, and is full of many things. The ceilings are high, the walls are covered with drawings, prints and paintings (mostly by me.) There are bookshelves filled, maybe over-filled with books. There are cabinets full of old china, glasses, clothing, paper records, old stereo records, various art supplies, lots of yarn and knitting and crocheting paraphernalia. There are other imaginative places where kitchen equipment is stored.

And so this new project will be handled in small incremental steps. Last night I cleared some walls and the top surfaces of some furniture. Things were relocated to various other places. The center of my living room floor is now filled with mounds of things. I would not want to try to navigate this room in dim light. I would not want to take a photograph.

The painter arrived right on time this afternoon and did preliminary patching and plastering work. It took just over an hour. He did a fine job.

Now the match returns to my side of this cluttered court. I will be bringing home recycled cardboard boxes from the shop, and will pack up the contents of some of the bookshelves and cabinets. This will take hours. Once these big pieces of furniture are empty, it will be more possible to move them away from the walls that are to be painted.

Next week the painter will return to paint some designated parts of the living room. I predict that he will do a fine job.

When the paint is dry, the furniture will be moved back against those fresh-looking walls. (The color will be a generic soft white.) The furniture can be refilled with the items that were put into the boxes. The paintings, etc. can be put back on the fresh-looking walls. This will take many hours.

The painter and I will repeat this sequence a few more times and then the living room, and alcove kitchen will look good as new.

We will then move our attention to painting the bedroom. It is larger, and possibly even more full of things, than the living room.

I expect this painting to be completed sometime in May.

While the painter was here today, I finished knitting another sock. It was rather fun to be working on my own project as he did his plastering.

I will now begin the second sock of this pair. It has been fun to use the Regia yarn and 3 mm double pointed needles. I am beginning to get the hang of sock knitting.

Another ongoing knitting project got some attention this afternoon as well. I have now finished one of the mitts that were begun back in January.

It's hard to take a photo of your own hand, so this is out of focus, but gives an idea of how the mitt fits. It's mate is all done except for the final four fingers. Should be a snap.

I will probably be writing again about the apartment painting project. I am still somewhat anxious about the entire notion, but think that it will have a happy ending.
Best wishes to you all.