Tuesday, August 23, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

We are now in a new weather pattern.  The city is now 20 degrees F cooler than it was last week.  Energy is beginning to return.  I am giving my little fan a rest and enjoying being more active outdoors.

Having longer walks around the neighborhood is a pleasure.

My neighborhood has a mixture of architecture, and some crosstown street blocks have some charming brownstone and limestone town houses that have attractive little front garden spaces.  Other such houses present rather bland spartan faces to the street.

The pictures I am showing you here are along one side of a particular Upper West Side street that is always a pleasure to walk along.  I was lucky to have my camera with me last Sunday, and to find that the prettier side of the street was also the shady side.  A slight breeze was blowing, cooling the air, and encouraging me to take these photographs to show you.

I have no idea whether these buildings are filled with small or large apartments, rental or condo or cooperative.  What is clear is that there are some interested gardeners at each address.

These plantings don't seem to be the work of professionals but rather the resulting efforts of residents.  I imagine that even more beautiful gardens are behind the buildings.

These houses have their main entrances on the parlor floor one reaches via a stairway, but also have doorways at the garden level.  I once lived in a garden level 1840s brownstone apartment in Brooklyn.  There was no front garden but I shared a beautiful back garden with the other tenants.  That garden had been established by our landlady who also allowed me to plant a few more flowers and vegetables.  She was then midway through the renovation of another old house in the same neighborhood.

Back in those days, such old Brooklyn houses, ripe for renovation, were priced at about $25,000.  It was the 1970s, and that was quite a lot of money.  The renovation and rescue of those houses also cost a lot and took a long time.  Many marriages, like that of my sweet landlady, broke up during renovations.

Nowadays, those houses sell for millions of dollars.  Even a floor through apartment in one of the houses I am showing you here would cost several million dollars.  Time passes.

I love the look of this tree's roots, and moss, and the little scalloped fencing which might protect it from unskilled car parking.

Moving along, I'll show you a few more front entrance ways.

Some of these areas have decorative gates; some have gates requiring a key.  Do notice the bars on the windows.

The left over bricks and stones in the following photo have been used to fill in a space where a tree once grew.  I like the arrangement and thought it might inspire some future knitting design.

I also like the rather funky look of this curvy decorative area.

Lots of greenery growing here.  I wondered what might have been intended to grow on the wooden lattice leaning against the wall.  It could be part of a past or future plan.

You can see the reflection of a building across the street.

Not far away from that shady block is this large building, The Lucerne Hotel.  Back in the 1920s, my great auntie lived here for a few years with her husband who was a tobacco company executive.  My auntie was widowed before I was born, and moved back to live in Richmond with a couple who were dear friends.

Auntie Mae never had children of her own, but was very fond of my late Dad, and very kind to me.  Every Christmas she would allow me to select a very special doll as her very special gift.  She also gave me a special, long lasting gift of teaching me to knit.

I cannot walk past The Lucerne without thinking of her.

When Auntie Mae died, she left an inheritance to my Dad that allowed me to attend college.  She also left me some beautiful jewelry and her knitting needles.

I still use those needles, particularly the double pointed needles, to create socks, hats, and these fair isle mitts that I have been making for my etsy shop.  I am now working on some red mitts.

I do wish my Auntie could see them.

It's been fun to share these late summer city views with you all.  Thank you for your visits and wonderful comments on my previous post.  Let's enjoy our remaining summer days, rain or shine...but I do hope our current temperature range continues.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

It's been a while since I have shown you all some summer city views from my neighborhood.  Last Saturday evening I attended one of this year's final Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors concerts.  It was a tribute to a legendary album, The Last Waltz, that was recorded 40 years ago by a band called The Band.

As I expected, there was a very large crowd gathered all over Damrosch Park, an open spot nestled sort of like a back yard in a corner of the Lincoln Center property.

The area is surrounded by tall buildings, most of which have been built during the years that I have lived in the neighborhood.  

 As I found a little ledge to sit on, I gazed around the skyline, and tried to remember what the view was like 30 years ago.

All the proper folding chair seating was already filled up by the time of my arrival, and many folks were milling around, buying refreshments from various pricey stands, and trying to connect with friends or family who were somewhere in the crowd.  A hot summer evening dictated comfort clothing choices rather than fashion statements.

As the 7 p.m. showtime neared, the sunlight quality began to change, and some of the buildings began to take on differing glows.

 Some of the children in the crowd were escaping their boredom with the wait by playing various escape games of their own.

The five family members in the following fuzzy photo were being greatly entertained by the young son, who kept escaping his dad's grasp, and trying out his running techniques around the open space.  His dad kept a careful eye on the young fellow, while the mom in the long dress continued to chat with the older couple, who perhaps were her parents.  It is easy to make up story lines.

You can perhaps make out the boat-shaped back of the amphitheater stage?

All the snacking was causing a steady build up of refuse, and a Lincoln Center team kept collecting the bags.

At last it was time for the performance to begin, and the stage lights were turned on along with the excellent sound system.  Perhaps you all will also be able to see a tiny crescent moon just to the let of the stage roof?

Here is another very "atmospheric" picture taken as my camera's battery began to close down for the night.

The concert was lots of fun, and if you click on the link I provided above the first photo, you will be able to see a good picture of the stage and a list of the excellent performers who graced the stage.

On Sunday morning, I took a walk over to Central Park to see how late summer was treating the place.  The morning was not too hot, but humidity was gathering strength

I saw several picnics underway, and also marveled at various folks riding bikes, jogging, and so forth.

More and more racks of the Citibank sponsored bike rental racks appear along city sidewalks.  

Various trees and shrubs were showing their late summer colors and evidence of nibbling.  The leaves were crispy.

I was on my way to an errand on the Upper East Side, but took my time strolling through the Park making sure to have a look at the Shakespeare Garden.

I saw lots of very overgrown greenery, and some flowers looking a little past their prime.  Even so, there was beauty on display.

Lots of tall scraggly green plant stems mixed with some very pretty colors.

As I wandered around this August tangle, I remembered how different the Garden looked in early spring when the first crocus and daffodils were beginning to bloom.

There is a large team of gardeners who care for the Shakespeare Garden, and I am glad that they don't keep it completely manicured.

The above flowers were the size of dinner plates.  The following flowers were much more delicate.

The rustic fencing seems a natural choice to define some areas.  There are also benches made from this weathered wood.

Since I was wearing my pink shoes, I couldn't resist taking a color study photograph.

The plant stem in the following photo was reaching for the sky! There were lots of thistle plants in this area.

Sometimes I break photographic rules and will point my camera towards the sun, just to see what will happen.  I liked the results in the following picture.  I don't know what sort of plants these are with their shepherd crook stems.

By the time I finished my East Side errand, I decided that I would be a lazybones and take an air-conditioned bus ride home and was pleasantly surprised that a bus arrived just as I reached a bus stop.

We are due to experience lots of heat and humidity for the rest of this week, with possible daily thunderstorms.  I will continue to practise all my heat avoidance techniques!

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  It is so much fun to trade comments and discover how much we do share in our daily lives.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

We have now reached deep summer, and I will soon be sharing some city views I've seen on my recent excursions.

But first I thought I would share this oil painting I completed back in 1991.  What a long time ago that was. 

The following photographs are of a few of the drawings I have recently been making of the tiny plant I showed you in my previous post.

Good news is that I have been able to keep the little plant alive, and will continue making more portraits, as I try to rekindle my drawing mojo.

Meanwhile, I would like to share a little anecdote that shows what a small world we live in.  

During my years of employment in the retail fashion world, many of the garments I helped to sell were what could be called tunics, designed to be worn over slim trousers or even leggings.  The length of the tunic shape helped some women to be more comfortable in the slim trousers or leggings.

I often wore this combination myself, and would joke to the clients that the tunic provided a "bridge over troubled waters."  The clients would laugh, and would usually also buy the silhouette I had recommended to them.

One evening when I used that description, the client really laughed and said she would have to tell this to her friend who was an assistant to Paul Simon.  My client said her friend would find it very funny, too.  

Just a few minutes later, the client's friend came into the shop and was told the Bridge connection.  She laughed and laughed and said that she would be sure to mention it to Paul Simon.  Then we all giggled a bit, thinking that perhaps in future performances of his famous tune, PS would be thinking about middle-aged women solving their clothing dilemmas.

Well...let us flash forward to the recent Democrat Party's political convention at which H. Clinton was nominated for U.S. President.  Paul Simon, who has announced his plans to retire from music, appeared to entertain the convention delegates one evening and performed...Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

I cannot tell you how much I giggled during the song while wondering if Paul Simon was thinking of the candidate's outfits.  

Thank you all for indulging me this story.  I truly appreciate your visits and comments.  More city views will appear soon.