Monday, November 5, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

As the sun sets on Election Day eve, I want to again thank you all for your kind comments regarding Hurricane Sandy's effect on our City.  I so appreciated hearing from you, and a week after Sandy's arrival, I am even more aware of how personally fortunate I have been.

For much of the past week, I remained in my immediate neighborhood, since public transportation was still in recovery mode, and my place of employment was closed due to lack of electricity.  

On Tuesday, the day after the storm, I ventured out to see what the streets and sidewalks looked like.  The following two photos show tables with plastic sheeting protecting the inventories of used books and magazines that are normally sold by independent vendors along these blocks of Broadway.  Most vendors' wares did seem to have escaped being converted to papier mache. 

Some of the trees lining the sidewalk lost some very large branches, but I did not notice much other damage.

My hope during this walk was that I might see that some businesses might be reopening.  This would be a good sign.  Indeed, I was happy that one of my favorite two food sources, the Fairway, was open although obviously the stock was very depleted.  I was able to find a loaf of bread and to chat with some of my favorite Fairway employees.  I was amazed at how many of those folks had been able to get to work.

In the ensuing days, television and Internet served to let me know how the City and surrounding areas were coping.  Some areas like the New York borough of Staten Island and the shore areas of Queens, Long Island and New Jersey are still in very bad shape.  Many homes were destroyed.  Many folks lost their lives.

This is an important political season, and Hurricane Sandy has definitely played a part in the follies.  It's been a time for good leadership, and we have seen such leadership from various politicians and elected officials.

Our Mayor had to bow to very strong public criticism and rescind his original decision to let the NYC Marathon go forward on Sunday.  

On Friday night, power was restored to the SoHo area where I work, and so it was possible for us to return to work on Saturday.  Public transport was still a bit weak, and so I allowed plenty of extra time for my trip to work.  I was able to take a subway train to 34th Street, and then walked the rest of the way (about a mile and a half.)  I am in reasonably good health and wore comfy shoes, and actually am glad to have had the opportunity to experience the early hours of the City returning to normal.

I was even more glad that some long-scheduled vacation time began for me when I left work on Saturday evening!

On Sunday afternoon, I took some buses and walked some, in order to have a bit of exercise and see Sandy's effect on other parts of the City.

The following photos shows Sunday's clear blue sky and also a distant view of the crane that was damaged by Sandy.

This additional view gives some idea of the wide area that was still closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  I definitely had no wish to get any closer!

Returning to my Westside neighborhood I'd decided to see if the regular Sunday farmers market would be operating along its usual sidewalk site just behind the Museum of Natural History.  Well, the market was there and I found some wonderful little apples.  I also was very sad to see what was left of a very large tree that had been uprooted on the nearby grounds of the Museum.  Most the tree had already been chopped up and removed.  

The temporary wooden slat fence made a flimsy replacement for the iron fence that had been knocked over by the falling tree.  Perhaps you can just see some of the mangled metal fence in the lower right hand corner of the next photo?

Here's just one more photo of the remains a beautiful tree that had graced the neighborhood for many, many years.

This morning, I had arranged to meet my delightful friend Elizabeth, who writes several wonderful blogs, including About New York.  Our plan was to meet near the large Union Square farmers market, to have a bite to eat, chat about our usual vast variety of topics, and explore what fruit, veg or plants might be available at the farmers' stands.

Well, the area usually devoted to the Market was filled with various vehicles and machinery from our local Con Edison electric utility company and from other utility companies from as far away as Arkansas and Illinois.  Our City is being helped by many dedicated, hard working folks.

I liked the look of the chalked sidewalk directions to the relocated Market site.

It is possible that by next week all the hard work will allow the Farmers to return to their usual location.

Elizabeth and I elected to stop for our late morning refreshments in a cafe located within the magical environment that is the large ABC Carpet & Home shop.  To reach the charming cafe with its scrubbed wooden tables, comfy chairs and delicious food, we needed to thread  our way amongst many tempting merchandise displays including these quaint and recently probably quite useful oil lamps.

Even though we have just gotten past Halloween (without our usual giant, wacky, free form Halloween Parade...Sandy's trick) ABC was already getting into a Yule time mood.

This sort of frivolous display was a good antidote to the challenging times that have recently faced so many.  Even better was to sit down and have a wonderful catch up with a dear friend.  Elizabeth may indeed post a photo of the cafe.

And yes, we did eventually make our way to the relocated Market.  I found beautifully fresh broccoli and Elizabeth found splendid apples and a massive butternut squash.  The sun was lovely and the air was brisk.  There was a good spirit in the air.

I hope that there will be a huge voter turnout tomorrow.  I rather expect that I might be staying up late tomorrow night and posting another blog pretty soon. 

Best wishes to you all. 


  1. So good to hear that you were able to get back to work and generally out and about! The meeting with Elizabeth sounds fun!

    It will be a little late tomorrow, I sure hope it won't be too late, though.

    Best wishes,

  2. Good to hear that you are ok and that are starting to get back to normal, albeit slowly.

    I will also be watching the election results, its all very close!

  3. It's so interesting to see 'first hand' what is happening in your city, Frances. Of course I can see it on the evening news, but somehow I feel so much more informed by seeing it through your camera's lens.
    Stay safe, and enjoy your holiday!

  4. Glad to know that you are able to get around New York, Frances. The stories I have heard and pictures I have seen show some terrible damage. And with an estimated 40,000 people homeless, it is going to take a long time to recover. But I'm glad to know you are safe and well!

    Happy vacation.

  5. I'm pleased you have some holiday time and the sky is blue. I think I would be able to spend alot of time and money in ABC carpet and home. Have a good rest x

  6. Hello Frances:
    It is indeed such a relief to read this post and to learn how New York is slowly but surely returning to life before Hurricane Sandy. We cannot but admire the spirit of people, so appallingly affected, who, nevertheless, are setting about rebuilding their lives and the wonderful sense of community which it has been reported exists in so many areas of the City.

    Tonight we are having dinner with a friend who divides her time between Long Island and Budapest. She left the United States at the end of last week, her property having been severely damaged. Brave woman.

  7. Lovely to see you yesterday, Frances!
    Good news from Long Island. Bobby and family are back in their house so we are going out this morning to help Kristin get organized --and play with the tinies!
    Butternut squash soup making will have ti wait until tomorrow.

  8. It certainly seems it will be a long road ahead to restore the damage caused by Sandy. Seeing those huge trees uprooted really brings home the force of that destructive hurricane!
    I'm so glad you were not too inconvenienced and that Elizabeth has her power back!
    (And holding my breath for the election, which looks uncomfortably close - yikes!)

  9. It's good to read your update and report from a real life perspective in the aftermath of Sandy.

    I am tempted to stay up to see some of the US election results come in. When we were in Oregon we watched the first candidates' debate - and we realised that the result wasn't going to be a shoo-in for Obama.

    I too hope everyone who can, casts their vote - there are so many regimes were democracy doesn't exist so we must never ever take it for granted.

    Love, Celia xx

  10. there is so much to love about new yorkers, i admire it's bravery and resiliency very much frances. you are a perfect example. the greatest city in the world will indeed come back. thank you for sharing your always lovely perspective.

  11. Frances, thanks for the update. Beautiful pictures as always. We've seen quite a bit about the effects of Sandy over here. Fingers crossed for the election. Huff Post seems pretty confident that Obama will make it. If Europeans had a vote I think he would walk it, which does say something about European and US politics.

  12. Thank you for your update.It is good to hear it first hand.Enjoy your break.

  13. It's always good to read your blocks, Frances. New York truly is a wonderful city. The people are very resiliant and resourceful. As an example:

    A friend's daughter lives on Long Island and has started her own "charity" collecting things for friends who lost everything. She said they could wait for FEMA or the Red Cross, but she thought person-to-person was quicker. Kudoes to Deb for her efforts.

    Some electrical workers from local Seattle-area power companies have gone to New York to help out, too. After all the contentiousness of the past year's political campaign, it's good to see people pulling together.

    Stay warm and safe, Frances. We'll look forward to hearing more from you over the coming weeks.

  14. We have seen many of the reports on English TV, and have been shocked by the devastation.
    I'm so glad all is well with you. It must be hard to see trees down, and gardens ruined.

  15. I enjoyed looking at your pictures of Central Park and the Halloween decorations. We were in France just before Halloween but I had forgotten about it because I never saw any decoration or reference to it there. I did think and worry about you when we heard about Hurricane Sandy – such a terrible storm hurting so many people. I am pleased that you did not get hurt by it. You walked from 34th street! That is quite a walk. It is always sad to see old trees uprooted during storms, some over 100 years old. Finally we are at the final day for all the political ads - I was happy to be gone for almost a month so I did not hear them. My sister-in-law in Ohio said that they had a huge amount of ads from both parties this year. Now we just have to wait a little bit more to see the results.

  16. We woke up today and heard the elections results with some relief!

    It's good to hear that the city is coming back to life, although the loss of that magnificent tree is just example that some things will never be the same.

  17. I have been following the news over there in these troubled and frenetic times and come to your blog to admire your calm assessment and reporting of all that has happened. I smiled when I read about your destination for coffee with Elizabeth. The ABC Carpet and Home store was high on my itinerary on my long ago trip to New York. I was so excited to be there!

  18. Hi Frances! I've just skipped over from Floss in France, though actually I'm at the cold top end of Ireland! Fascinated to read your so gentle and calm accounts of the last week in New York. Delighted to have found such beautiful commentary. Good night from the suburbs of Belfast!

  19. Hello dear Frances,

    Somehow I have missed this post, my apologies. Such devastation with the hurrican sandy at the time, through writing to you I was pleased to hear you were safe and well, we were all worried about you.