Sunday, December 6, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

This was a clear, crisp, chilly Sunday, and a perfect day to have a stroll around some city neighborhoods to see how Christmas is beginning to arrive.

There are lots and lots of trees for sale at makeshift stands along neighborhood sidewalks. These trees are lining Broadway. The impressive building in the background used to be a bank. It is now still partially a bank, but some of its floors have been converted into expensive apartments.

A close up view of some trees shows the variety on offer. The picture below shows that not all the trees are tall. Many New York apartments are small, and require small trees.

A bit further up Broadway is my favorite grocery market, the Fairway. I feel fortunate to have it nearby, because of the tremendous variety and reasonable prices of its stock. Flowers and seasonal greenery are displayed outside on this corner. Seasonal fruits, and some veg, are just around the corner. The store has two floors inside full of all you could want.

Not everyone likes to do his or her own cooking in this city. There are many other ways to ensure that one is fed. Lots of entrepreneurs have begun small roving businesses. Dumplings are made to order inside this truck.

If your appetite requires something sweet, head for this truck parked nearby.

Walking a bit more uptown, you'll pass by the Apthorpe building, a huge apartment building that takes us an entire city block. It has a central courtyard. Some famous folks have lived here, like Cyndi Lauper. I think that some still do. Like many other places around this neighborhood, the cost of living here has risen over and over again.

I took a bus down to midtown today to attend the annual Holiday Open House at the beautiful main branch of the New York Public Library. It is lots of fun.
The building's water fountains are glamorous. Almost too glamorous to use.

In the entrance hall today, there were many folks dressed up as literary characters. The hall was bustling and crowded, with lots of children and adults rushing around. Lots of the following photos are not as focused as I would have wished.
Here is the Grinch, posing for me.

Here is Mr. Scroodge, not cooperating at all. He was very much in character.

There are grand stairways at each end of the entrance hall. I stood half-way up one of them to take this photo, to give you an idea of the scale.

When you keep going up to the third floor, you see the murals on the walls and the ceiling. It is a very enchanting building. Today the library was also very noisy, with singing groups, musicians, laughing children. Refreshments were ... wine, fizzy water, fruit punch, cookies and cheese sticks.

In another area of the library is a ball room where a disco-type band plays for dancing, and a simple buffet is served. There is usually a very long queue leading to entry to this area. I did not bother with it today.

Children could watch and be entertained by magicians, jugglers (who taught them how to juggle,) balloon sculptors, face painters and others.

Even the usually dignified statues were decorated with greenery. This fellow also had some cardinal birds resting on his shoulders.

After leaving the Library, I walked up to Rockefeller Center to capture some photos of the giant Christmas tree. I tried some shots from various angles to give you all an idea of just how giant it is.

The flags were flapping in the stiff breeze. Just below those flags is where the skating rink is located. In the picture below, I did cut off the top of the tree, but wanted to show you how many lights are strung on this tree to make it glitter.

Moving on, I wanted to photograph some of the interesting shop windows in midtown. The one below, which unfortunately has a lot of reflections, is in an Anthropologie shop. It is made from paper, lots and lots of paper.

The next two photos are from Tiffany's. The Tiffany windows are tiny, really little illuminated jewel boxes. This year's theme seems to be an "icy" winter wonderland.

Each window had an impressive selection of baubles nonchalantly resting in a sleigh, or some such setting.
The very best windows, as usual, are to be found at Bergdorf Goodman. They feature so much imagination, and over the topness, one could look at each of them for quite a long time.
This year's theme is a Cabinet of Curiosities. Indeed.

Perspective and scale are topsy turvy.
Again, I apologize for all the reflections. If time and weather permit during the next few weeks, I will try to take some better photos. These windows truly deserve to be seen.

The picture below is a mad tea party scene, with a very tilted floor. In a way, having the images of the large buildings intruding via reflections does add to the madness.

This next picture is of a smallish window that featured parts of clocks, and a fabulous handbag.

I assure you the fantasy of this window was magical.
The background of this window was a multi-leveled doll house, with all sorts of creatures and characters dwelling in many cubicles and corners. Note the tiny mannequin mimicking the full-sized 1960's era lady in the black and white houndstooth.

The lady in white in this setting is joined by topiary unicorns.

Here is a close up showing part of another window's menagerie.

And in this tableau we see a chanteuse accompanied by a musical wolf.

By this time, the light was fading, and my fingers were getting a bit cold. And so, I made my way across 57th Street, past the annual display of candy canes, and found a bus home.

I hope that these pictures, flawed as they are, will give you all an idea of various ways that our city dresses up for Christmas ... or the Holidays, as they are referred to around here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

I have recently read many beautiful posts about the Advent season and how various folks celebrate it. I would like to share with you this beautiful little calendar that is hanging in my kitchen. The first window is now open, and I found a tiny candle hidden behind a lamp hanging outside one of the quaint buildings. I find these old fashioned calendars absolutely charming.

I thought it time to bring you all up to date on some activities that have been going on in Santa's workshop. Having decided that I did not like the way the multi-colored crocheted scarf with the circles in the squares was coming along, I unraveled the squares and have converted the design to a more lacy effect. These little loopy rings are fun to crochet and link together.
The above picture shows one end of the scarf, and the photo below shows another end, so that you can have an idea of how the colors flow. I have at least another two feet of scarf still to complete.

I had a shocking discovery this afternoon, when I discovered that my beloved rotary phone did not seem to be operating. For now, I will rely on my very primitive mobile cell phone, that was given me as a bit of a joke years ago. It was to be for emergency use, and so is now stepping into the spotlight.
Tomorrow, I am going to see if there is some sort of connecting wire available that will bring the rotary phone back to full strength.
It's time to return to Santa's workshop, as many calendars are now reminding me that December is underway.
Best wishes to all as you enjoy this season's excitement and joy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

The sun set several hours ago, and the lamps have been lit. This reminds me that I am coming to the end of my stay at home vacation and will be returning to work on Sunday morning. More precisely, I will be returning to work at the shop on Sunday morning.

I have had a fabulous time these past weeks in my own modest version of Santa's workshop. It has been a treat to spend each day doing what pleases me.

I have painted lots and lots of Christmas teacup cards, and now feel that I will be able to complete the remaining cards at a reasonably relaxed pace.

I am close to the finish line on my first ever sock knitting project. This pair of striped socks will be a gift for a family member. It was such fun learning how to "turn" the heel. Turned out to be easy, and so I think I will be making more socks in the months to come.

I love to knit, having been taught when I was very young by my dear great auntie. I used her double-pointed needles for these socks, and remembered her with every stitch.
The picture below does not show berets, but rather some crocheted pot holders. Long ago, my grandmother used to knit pot holders from cotton yarns, and so I am continuing her tradition in my own way. These will also be given to family members who'll remember the ones that our grandmother made.

The fringed scarf will also be a Christmas gift, and was begun in hopes of using up a considerable amount of my considerable collection of four-ply yarn. It was knit on a long circular needle on which I cast on 350 stitches. I changed the yarn color on every row, and that is how the fringe developed.

This elf did not stay in the workshop for the entire holiday. The weather has been mostly fine, and encouraged me to have lots of long walks in Central Park and also to travel to various parts of the city of meet up with friends.
My usual weeks feature somewhat unpredictable schedules, and this often makes it tricky to plan getting together with my dear friends. It has been delightful to spend recent hours in cafes, chatting with friends while having lunch, or sipping tea or coffee watching delicious pastry disappear.

Knowing what fun it has been to see many of these folks has made me adopt a November resolution to truly attempt to see them more often.

Now back to the workshop so see what else is underway. Crocheting is fun and quick and inspires experimentation is a way that knitting does not. If a crochet notion just isn't working out, it does not seem so monumental a decision to unravel it and try again. The picture below is of a scarf that will also make inroads into my yarn supplies. The circles in the squares, or diamonds, remind me of Indian mirrored embroidery.

Perhaps some visitors will remember seeing this following scarf in its earlier stage, when it was only a twisty rope of fluffy mohair. I have now added a band of fluting via black merino yarn, and plan to add another band of grey tweedy yarn. The finished scarf will have three colors and three textures, and will surely be a one off. It will also be a Christmas gift.

These little stars are crocheted from cotton yarn, and are the beginning of a second galaxy. The first collection of stars was done in seasonal colors and then sort of strung along a little rope/string that was also crocheted. It became a starry bunting that I gave to a friend as a birthday gift.

This time off has also given me time to indulge my love of reading. I have read several books during the past days, and currently am enjoying this latest in the author's series about the lady philosopher who lives in Edinburgh. I would say that Edinburgh itself is a character. It's a delightful series that I would recommend.

I would also greatly recommend the value of having a minimum of two weeks away from one's usual routine and responsibilities. Staying at home has been relaxing and rewarding. Perhaps next year I will be able to actually take a holiday journey. Meanwhile, reading blogs by folks from all over the world allows me to have amazing travels.
Thank you all for your marvelous posts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

My long-awaited vacation break began last Sunday. I am feeling more and more relaxed each day, even though I still try to fit many activities and interests into each hour. The difference, of course, is that I am selecting each of those additions to the agenda.

I have been spending hours at my work table, crocheting some birthday and Christmas gifts, returning to a long-set aside sock knitting project, and very much enjoying the annual watercolor painting of my Christmas cards. None of these can be rushed, and it is delightful to let the time melt away.

So far this week, the New York weather has continued to be mild, and has encouraged my taking lots of walks around the neighborhood and through Central Park. I have been arranging lunches with various friends. These friends of mine are loyal, even though I confess that my usual work schedule really does play havoc with the possibility of our spending much time together.

Yesterday, I headed downtown to our Chelsea gallery district, to meet a fellow artist friend. We wanted to see a few exhibits and have lunch, and get well caught up on our conversations. One of the shows that we saw featured some of David Hockney's recent Yorkshire woodland landscape paintings. I had seen some of this series last week at an uptown branch of the same gallery. I would say that visiting the paintings does tell the viewer a bit about those woods.

I convinced my friend that it would be fun to take a walk along the nearby High Line, the elevated old railroad track that has been transformed into a sort of urban nature walkway. You all might remember I first saw this space last summer in full bloom. I was curious to see how it was evolving with the new season.

We saw lots and lots of dried or drying plant life. The picture below somehow reminds me of a William Morris design.

In the background of the next photo, you can see a bit of the metal railing that reminds the walkers of the walkway's boundary. It also gives a bit of a frame to the wispy plants.

Just over the top of the railing you can see the open, cloudy, sky and the State of New Jersey across the Hudson River.

This is another westward view, and includes a graceful shrub whose name I do not know.

And, if one pivots and turns the camera Eastward, the dark geometry of city architecture presents a true contrast.

It was very breezy up there on the rails, and so we retraced our steps, climbed back down a stairway to the street level, and found a delicious little restaurant for lunch, and more conversation.
It was a lovely day to get outside, and so refreshing to the eye and the soul.
When I got home, my energy level was still great, and I returned to my work table with enthusiasm. What a grand holiday I am having!

Friday, October 30, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York, on Halloween Eve.

As I walked through my neighborhood this afternoon, I could not resist taking out my camera to record more pictures of decorations on a special West Side brownstone'd block. There will be a children's Halloween party along this street tomorrow afternoon.

This lady looks just a little different from the farmers who we normally see at our weekend green markets.

I would wonder if sampling her produce would be wise. Not sure if you can read the poster affixed to the front door. It asks us to Stop Genocide.

This gentleman was standing on the steps of the adjacent house. He makes me rethink the concept of organic.

A bit further down the block I saw this display affixed to a window. Please note that the metal window gates are there to keep more than spirits from entering that home.I fear that this photo might be too out of focus to propery show the fiendish artisty that made the display reality.

What more is there to say ...

Happy Halloween!