Thursday, November 22, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Hello from New York on Thanksgiving afternoon.

It is a beautiful day, warm for this time of the year, and a perfect day to see some of the annual Thanksgiving Day parade.  The parade is sponsored by Macy's, the giant department store.  As I have shown you all in previous years, the parade draws huge crowds as it makes its way from my West Side neighborhood downtown to Macy's at 34th Street.

After an early oatmeal breakfast, I walked over to West 72nd Street and found lots and lots of normal-sized balloons being given away.  The balloons advertised the special Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.

Each of these balloons had a long ribbon attached to it, and some folks found intriguing ways to tie several balloons together, and some children found ways to release their balloons upwards into the bright blue sky.  The lady in the fur coat was overdressed for the occasion.

As I got closer to Central Park West and the crowd grew thicker, I saw that this year several large orange Sanitation Department trucks had been parked across 72nd Street to create a barrier.  I am guessing that this was some sort of safety procedure, but it also created some photograph-taking challenges for someone short like myself.

I began to wonder if I would actually be able to take any pictures of the famous giant balloons that are a major parade feature.  I began to consider my strategy, while wandering around a bit, looking at various vendors' offerings.

The following view looks westward, away from Central Park West, and gives you an idea of the tall NYC apartment buildings lining 72nd Street.  Remember this mom with the hat and stroller.  She will re-appear later on.

The first balloon appears.  I think it is Hello Kitty, but am not sure.  I am sure that the famous Dakota building is on the left.

Here is another view of the Dakota.  Can you see the strands of linked little balloons bobbing in the wind?

Here is Kermit the Frog, and I am now aware that taking pictures is going to be difficult.  I am still behind the truck barricade.

Charlie seem so very far away.  My view is very obstructed.

I take another look at the vendors' fares and enjoy the opportunity for a close up photograph.

There is a slight entry/exit space between the two trucks.  The Keep Back warning does not apply to parade watchers.

I am not sure if I will be able to slip between those trucks. It is very crowded on the other side of the trucks.

Alas, the trucks are not the only obstacles to a view.  Everyone has a camera.

I decided to keep trying, and not to give up on capturing some of the parade for this post.  Here's Spiderman!

I do not care for cotton candy, but hope that someone will buy this vendor's ample supply.

If you look in the left hand of the next vendor, you will see lots of dollar bills.  He has been doing well with his souvenir stand.

I looked up at the sound of yet another helicopter hovering just above us.  These helicopters might be for our safety, or might be part of parade television coverage.

There was no need to wait for a turkey dinner.

Well, I finally found my way to the parade side of those big orange trucks and once again saw the lady with the hat.  She was also now wearing her husband's hat while he gave their beautiful little girl a good view.  I was also about to get a better view.

Sponge Bob!  The children in the crowd announce every new arrival with ease.

Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the following fellow.

Here is another mystery man.

Mickey, I definitely recognize you!

Who is this?  I have no idea.

Ronald McD, of the famous fast food empire.

Ronald was followed by another foodie, the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  Lighter than air.

Here's a friendly duck, perhaps wishing he could be over in the Central Park Lake.

Does a flying candy cane count as a part of any food group?

The Christmas theme continues with this cheery elf.  Note the string of smaller balloons is still afloat as well.

Who is this?  I am hoping that some readers might be able to supply additional identification for many of these characters.

I hope that you will be able to see that this trio with their festive conical hats are actually the Three Little Pigs...over sized.

Finally, as everyone began to feel a bit chilled, and children were beginning to feel a little cranky, we got to see the real star of the parade ... Santa Claus!

Everyone applauded and cheered.  And then we all knew the parade was over for another year and that we were very glad to have seen it ... sort of up close.  We counted our blessings!

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for bearing up with this post's picture quality.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Hello from New York.

I am delighted to report that my laptop has at last been restored to service after suffering a crash last week.

It will take a while for me to get caught up with you all, but I do look forward to visiting.

Meanwhile, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

I am teasing you all a bit with the following picture, but thought it would be appropriate for this first post following our big November 6 election day.

I am very pleased with the election returns and with the large voter turnout.  Those of you who see this post within the next six days will also be able to hear my "post-election commentary" on BBC London Radio's November 7 Joanne Good programme, using the Listen Again feature.  I show up about two hours and 48 minutes into Joanne's programme.

Now, it's time for the adults in Washington, DC to start some problem solving by working together.  I remain optomistic!

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.