Sunday, June 19, 2011

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York as we approach the longest day of the year.

It has been quite a while since my last post and so I will offer a bit of a smorgasbord sampling of what has been going on around here.

At the beginning of June, I had a relaxing week off, which gave me the chance to do some catching up with old friends. I took the above photo at lunch at a Scandinavian cafe with some friends I have known for over 30 years. During my week off I got together with many friends, and still knew that there were many others with whom I couldn't quite make the coordination. We resolved to continue to try see each other soon.

During this time off, I also attended to overdue tasks, like making enquiries about our national Social Security and Medicare benefits. I was delighted to discover how helpful the Social Security office folks were.

Other accomplishments included some more clearing out of Stuff from my apartment. This required me to really give a cold, measured look at some things I'd been holding on to...revising my own autobiographical archival approach, if you get my meaning. I filled up a few bin bags and disposed of them, and also took lots to a thrift shop.

I'll admit that there is still quite a bit more around here that could perhaps leave the premises. I am just not ready to say all my farewells yet.

Spurring some of this re-assessment was a series of sad news. During the past few weeks I have learned of the deaths of folks who are around my age, folks that I will so miss.

Let me do a bit of a skip outside my apartment now, to show you view of Broadway as it appears in my neighborhood. Pictured below is the Beacon Theater, a former cinema palace, that went through some transitions to become a concert venue for many bands. I was lucky to the Kinks perform there several times, and did not mind the dangerous conditions of the errant springs in the theater's seats.

The Beacon eventually had a grand renovation, and a week ago was the location for our NYC Broadway theatre awards, known as the Tony's. From my photo, you can see that even on the night of the awards, a demonstration was underway under the front marquee.

Folks were protesting the lack of a certain musical being included in the nominations.

The following photo shows how the red carpet interviewing area for the stars attending the ceremony needed to be set up at the back door area. So much for glamour.

I am delighted to report that Mark Rylance did win the Best Actor award for his performance in Jerusalem.

Moving along, I also spent some of my time off relaxing with good books and various crafting projects.

These are the socks that I made for a birthday gift for my brother. The little AERO needle package of double point needles once belonged to my beautiful great auntie who taught me how to knit many many years ago. I love the idea of using her needles.

I am so pleased to report that the socks were a hit with my brother.

There are always lots of needlecraft projects underway around here, and the following photos show a fair isle style scarf I am playing around with. It's fun to mess about with a harmony of colors, and relaxing to do it without much thinking involved.

Part of the apartment clear out involved trying to bring some order to my various bits of yarns and other crafts and art materials. What I want to do is to jettison my aged, rickety easel, and replace it with a drawing table and a table easel.

If any of you have any advice for me about drawing tables or table easels, I would welcome your comments. I am not totally sure that this apartment, even post clear-out, will accommodate these proposed additions, so will move slowly towards my decision.

I am going to let the next photo, of a linen scarf, serve as a segue into other topics.

It is such a pleasure to read many blogs from all over the world. I have remarked on this before, but the thrill of being connected continues.

Let me give an example. I recently read a post by Jane Brocket
in which she mentioned a book Four Hedges, written and illustrated with magnificent wood engravings by Clare Leighton. What a delight to discover that my fabulous library had a 1935 first edition of this book that I was actually able to check out and take home.

I am going to show you two of the beautiful illustrations.

Aren't these exquisite?

My work days continue to be demanding, so I am never quite sure when I might be able to get around to my next post.

So, I would like to end this mid June post with a tribute to a wonderful musician, Clarence Clemons.

He brought so much happiness and touched many folks with his beautiful saxophone artistry. I am so sorry to think that we won't see him play again.

Let's remember our favorite Clarence Clemons solos, and smile at at their soulfulness.

Here's a little bit of Sunday afternoon sunshine filtering into my living room window.

Best wishes to you all.


  1. Sometimes, after reading your posts, Frances, I feel as though I`ve actually had a wee visit with you. It doesn`t happen with many posts - yours and a few others.
    I know what you mean about selectively culling bits and pieces of one`s history. I did a little of that yesterday. One of the hazards of living in a large-ish house is the temptation to keep too much.
    The scarf is just too, too pretty. Who wouldn`t feel that all was tip-top in the world with that scarf around the neckÉ

  2. Well - I`m going to have to figure out what`s wrong with my keyboard. Apostrophes are backwards and some spelling changes are being made without my permission...and what on earth is a neckÉ My question mark has been kidnapped and replaced with a strange É
    Of course, I meant `neck`.

  3. You've had a busy but wonderful time, Frances. So glad to hear of all your activity, but not of the deaths of friends. (Blessings and Bear hugs in your loss.) And you've made progress in your "pointed" art work. (I'm just "needling" you a bit.)

    Now that you've cleaned up, please don't rush to fill the void.

  4. I have recently found your blog and do love it. Really enjoyed the little potted round-up of your recent days. The colours in your scarf are beautiful ... oh, how I wish I could knit but every attempt has ended in frustration, swearing and sweaty hands!!

  5. Good to catch up with NY life again. I'm glad you've had some time off work - even if your days were still incredibly busy. Good to be doing your own things though isn't it? Love the scarf!

    We have drawing table and it is HUGE! Certainly wouldn't reccomend it for a small aprtment. It's not particularly attractive either. I also have a small, table-top one, which folds flat and can easily be tucked away. From memory it's A2 size - meaning it will accommodate paper up to 594mm x 420mm. It also has a slide bar which runs up and down so it can be used with set squares etc for technical drawings. (Do people still do technical drawings by hand?) I used it so smaller garden design projects.

  6. I so admire Clare Leighton's work - lucky you being able to just borrow the book.

    The Scandinavian platter looks so delicious! Just the sort of food I love too.


  7. I so enjoyed reading your catching up post, Frances. Getting rid of some of life's accumulated possessions and keepsakes is a hard task, but it's nice to feel less encumbered when it's done! I loved seeing your knitting, it is absolutely exquisite and will be wonderful to wear. I'm so sorry to hear of the deaths of some of your friends, so sad.
    Thanks for your visits to my blog, I always enjoy your sweet and interesting comments. Take care and enjoy your New York days until the next time.
    Helen x

  8. Frances, you have an incredible eye for colour - your needlework creations are fabulous! Coincidentally I'm undertaking a slow purge of belongings at the moment, hauling stuff to my local Oxfam, and find it highly therapeutic. For some reason as I get older I have less tolerance for clutter and enjoy the feeling of a pared-down existence. I was sorry too, to hear of the death of a great musician, and for your losses too. I wish you well and happy new creations when you get a new drawing table!

  9. So much to think about..
    Utrecht is always having drawing table specials that include a lamp + chair.
    I use just a door set atop file cabinets so I'm no help there..
    Love your Missoni-esque socks

  10. Hi Frances,

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your friends.

    Thank you for showing us Broadway. I enjoyed it very much!

    LOVE your scarf. It's so colourful!

    Happy new week,

    Madelief x

  11. Your knitting is so lovely, you have a designer's eye for colour.

    I also have a copy of Four Hedges bought many years ago in a second hand bookshop. I love her engravings, weirdly I was thinking about them earlier today.

    About twenty years ago I bought a desk/drawing table which is very useful as I work in my dining room. It can be adjusted to various angles and heights so can be flat and can be used as a side table when entertaining. It was made by Hulsta, I love it!

  12. This was a most enjoyable smorgasbordly post (not sure if this is a real word.) It is sad to hear of friends passing, I am sorry.
    I love the colors of the scarf – it looks pretty intricate to me. I just bought some yarn too. I shall start on 2nd July to knit a baby blanket for my daughter’s expected new son. The Tour de France starts on July 2nd and the last 3 years I have been knitting baby blankets, toddler blankets for car seats, etc. while watching the Tour on TV. The Tour takes 3 weeks, so the blanket will be finished by then, hopefully. If you’d like to look at the one I made last year, it is on this post: it is at the very end of this long post. The friend wished it to be a French flag, so that’s what I made.

  13. Happy solstice!
    I'm so glad that you enjoyed your time off
    and that I was part of it!
    Buster misses you.
    England was very England-ish --of course
    but a wonderful break from here.
    Hope to see you very soon.

  14. Lovely to catch up with your world Francis. I love the trips into your wonderful city with you. Lovely knitting too, I love the colour combinations.
    Best wishes.

  15. What a lovely ramble through a few of your gentle days. I am glad you had time to visit with friends, do a few of your favourite things, reminisce, and enjoy yourself.

    You do it all with such style and grace, a perfect lady.You appear almost eccentrically calm and refined and benevolent, there aren't many like you left.

    I wish you all the very best and look forward to your next ramble.

    btw: those socks would be a hit with anyone, including me.

  16. Hi Frances, I love your fair isle scarf. I think it's a real beauty. Your brother's socks also turned out very well. You are a good knitter. I wish I could be as good.


  17. Hello Frances,
    Lovely to hear from you as always. Glad you have had a relaxing and yet full of activity week off . I too feel I hang on to so much stuff, when I find some time I also need a clear out. The days and weeks seem to fly by, is that because we are getting old. I know I value my time more and do not wish to waste it.
    You are never one to be idle, I greatly admire your beautiful scarf and using your aunts knitting needles for your brothers socks. Your aunts time was well spent teaching you how to knit. She would be proud of your many beautiful projects. Another lovely post. Millyx

  18. What an amazing knitter you are Francis. How I wish I'd paid more attention when my mother tried to get me beyond 'In, round, through off.'
    And I admire your cold, measured look at things you've been holding on to. good luck

  19. Dear Frances,
    Again on of your many delightful posts. You make one feel as one is right there. I liked the tray of Swedish food and I loved the socks. Jane brocket is also a favorite of mine. Her blog was an inspiration for me to start blogging a few years back.
    Sorry to hear about the loss of your friends.
    All the best,
    Ingrid xx

  20. Once again it was lovely to get a flavour of some of the things you've been up to, Frances, but I sense so much more going on and a sea-change perhaps? I hope very much that we will have the opportunity to talk again; there's a place to stay with me and Tom if you're ever visiting the UK.

  21. Hello francis i've been missing you all so much, i hate this 7 hours a week on the computer world i'm in at the moment, my own fault though. As usual your blog is lovely and so in spiring those socks your doing look fab i love the colours.
    I may get around to blogg ing again soon but i seem to have lost it! yes lost my blog makes a change from marbles though lost those ages ago . big hugs from bodran xxo

  22. Frances I love your NY photos and also your knitting is fantastic, I would love to be able to knit socks and fairisle, my socks went a bit wrong after I had turned the heel, I'm nnot giving up though I try and do a little knitting each night, I'm finding it hard to sort out our little cottage now there are four of us, it's hard to say good bye to items, I can't do it! Our garden has loads of lettuce, the other veg is coming along, we seem to have loads of pumpkins on the way the last two years they didn't take so we did extra this ur and they've all taken!!!

  23. What Pondside says is very true, Frances. You do take us into your home. And thank you for sharing your life with us. Yes, it's always sad to throw things away. I've thrown a lot away recently but there's a lot I keep - I even have school work from 50 years ago - kept I suppose in the vain notion that someday I might become famous.

    By the way - what is a smorgasbord? - Oh I know what to expect in a restaurant but 'bord' presumably is table and.....well, what is the remainder - mixed? seafood? left over? Must look it up.

  24. Dear Frances,

    So sorry to hear about your loss of dear friend and for the great Musician.

    Your knits look wonderful Frances, I so love the yarn on the fab socks, lucky brother.!

    Pleased to hear you had some fun quality time out with dear friends on your vacation recently Frances.

    I think I could do with throwing out some of my hoards too, I am a hoarder. I recently read an article about Esther Rantzen who was advised that she should perhaps get rid of lots of her items, she did and sadly now regrets it. Just hold onto those wonderful literary mags and books Frances.!

    How lucky to have found that classic book in the library, such wonderful engravings.

    Let us know how it goes with the Drawing Table Frances, a long time ago a dear friend gave me his ancient artist's easle, it is HUGE.! I sadly have no talent in painting but somehow I just cannot part with the easle, which is for now standing proudly in the studio/nook to our cottage.

    Thinking of you dear Frances.


  25. The colours of the fairisle are just beautiful - and I love the socks, too. It is really nice to use some inherited needles - it gives a lovely sense of continuity.

    I really enjoyed reading your post and getting a sense of your life - I am sorry to hear of the sadness, too.

    I also hope your busyness at work is a good thing, and not too overwhelming.

    Pomona x

  26. Well your posts are always worth waiting for Frances and this is no exception. I savour every part.

    I have fallen in love with your Fair Isle scarf, the colours are gorgeous. You are so talented in the arts Frances.

    Good luck with the decluttering and sorting, I do this a lot - it is ongoing and I feel so much better for it. I am trying to do it with my 'commitments' also and it is making life a wee bit 'lighter'.

    I look forward to your next post, when you have the time (I know the feeling :-)

    I think a drawing table is a grand idea, go for it!

    I shall be posting soon a piece about a little book with wood engravings that you may like - you may have heard of it already though.

  27. Such a wonderful post, Frances,
    it fills my soul with gratitude for knowing you!

    Wishing you a restful Fourth of July weekend,