Wednesday, February 29, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on the 29th of February.

This is that extra day that is added to our calendar every four years during a leap year.  Leap years have dates that can be evenly divided by four, and here in the States, we have an November presidential election each leap year.

There is also a folkloric tradition that grants unmarried women (like me) to propose marriage to a man on February 29.  

Today dawned very grey with the weather forecasters promising that rain would develop by ten a.m.  This was not very promising to a would-be proposer.  I did some necessary house cleaning, and played around a bit with my new acrylic inks.  My little sketches will eventually be used as gift tags.

They really are just playing around with a new medium, and are based on embroidery stitching.

I think that eventually I will get more comfortable with these inks and will show you the evidence when I see it before me.

Before the rain drops began to seriously take over, I took a brand new bus, with a brand new bus smell, across Central Park to the east side of town.

The buses that travel this 79th Street crosstown route are bendy buses.  I never, never want to ever sit or stand in the part of the bus that has the bendy bit.  You can see this accordion pleated feature in the photo above.

The earlier predecessor bendy bus models' interiors were all on one level.  These new ones require the  passengers to climb up and down while inside the bus.  This can be tricky while the bus is in motion.  I also think that the older buses held more passengers.  (I think the new buses use hybrid fuels and that is why we now have them.)

The elevated four-across seating above reminds me of seating in a shoe shine place.

In the above photo, a brave lady did hoist herself up and on to one of those elevated seats.  She is sitting right next to the bus's rear door, which is recommended by regular announcements as The Correct Door to use for one's exit.  This door way features multiple warning signs about what to touch, what not to touch, where to stand, where to signal a request for a stop.  And...there is danger if a departing passenger thinks that the doors are going to open outwards (as they did on the old buses.)  Mind those blue Danger signs!

Better wait until you are off the bus before putting up your umbrella on a rainy day, too.  I am glad that I did have my camera with me, just to record this evidence of how new is not necessarily better, when it comes to public transport.

I am sure that we New Yorkers will get used to these bendies.

My east side destination was The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where an interesting exhibit opened last week.

The Steins Collect features a superb gathering of many of the works that were purchased by Gertrude, Leo and Michael Stein.  This exhibit does a fine job of showing what a different time it was when the Steins lived in Paris and enjoyed entering into a new world of art.

Matisse and Picasso became Stein family friends, and are featured prominently in this show.  However, there are many other artists included, and even works by Leo Stein and Michael Stein's wife Sarah appear.

I would definitely recommend this exhibit to folks who might be in New York between now and June 3.  It is a large show, but not so large as to be overpowering.  I came to the Met today thinking that I already knew quite a bit about this particular art history sequence, and discovered that there was more to learn.

By the time I left the Met and caught another of the nouveau bendies, the rain was steady and an insistent wind had joined the mix.  My already weakened umbrella may have now had its final outing.

It was wonderful to get home, have a late lunch, talk with some friends on the phone, have some tea, work on some crafts, get caught up with emails.

Nary a proposal was offered by me today.  Although a few hours remain before midnight, I think that New York batchelors might now feel it safe to come out of hiding.


  1. It sounds to me as if you used your bonus day very well, Frances. I like your little sketches very much. I took myself off work and went for a facial - something I'd never before experienced. That was my 'bonus day' experience.
    You are so fortunate in the beautiful things - the exhibits, the parks - that you can visit in your wonderful city.

  2. tee hee. but now for the rest of the three hundred and odd days of the year, you'll have to fend off proposals.
    i particularly like your descriptions of the bendy buses. public transport always makes me a bit nervous.
    i like your small drawings, they look so delicate.
    xx lori

  3. Dear Frances, I am sure there would have been some very special bachelors out there who would have been particularly honored for such proposal. But where are they? I always find big cities so anonymous but this is perhaps just because I have never lived in such environment. I did not know that you have hybrid buses, wow! And love your sketches - really dainty.

  4. New - as in bendy buses - looks over-complicated to me. I noticed on the news that London has seen the reintroduction of the new Routemaster bus this week. 8 new 'double deckers' have taken to the road. They too are hybrid fuelled - and they have a conductor as well as a driver.

  5. Have fun with your inks, before I went digital I used acrylic inks for illustration work - in fact I started using them when I took on a project where all the artists had to use the same range of inks so the colour intensity was the same throughout the books. I loved blending the colours together :-)

    As for bendy buses, I've travelled on them in Europe but didn't use the London ones... they've now been replaced with the swishy new red double-decker Routemasters designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

    What an interesting exhibition and good that it wasn't over crowded.


  6. Frances, you are not alone for I have never met any man who was proposed to on 29th February. It must be rather nice. The girl going down on one knee and the going to ask permission from the parents. Especially since the man (or his parents) would then pay for the wedding. And given that between the ages of 18 and well is there an upper limit? a girl will have multiple chances, you wonder why it the facility is not put to better use.

    But of course women do propose most often but disguise their actions so that the man ends up proposing at their request without realising.

    I can't help wondering why you need bendy buses in New York when the streets are straight?

  7. Hi Frances,

    I hope you will find the right man to propose to before midnight! It sounds like an interesting tradition :-)

    Ah.....the Metropolitan. I hope I will be able to visit one day. The exhibition sounds interesting!

    Your little drawings look very sweet!

    Have a romantic evening!

    Madelief x

  8. I like the little sketches a lot, are so creative.
    Wow, I can almost smell that bus from here!
    Ah, I envy you the exhibition - has been many years since I was able to revel in art. I remember the Met very well from my one and only trip to NYC - when I was a mere 19. :)

  9. Sounds a great exhibition ... worth the risks of bendy-bus travel to get there :D

  10. I did know about the reintroduction of the Routemaster buses in London, and ... hint, hint, might even have the opportunity to ride on one before long.

    Our bendy buses are required for the crosstown routes that wind their way through the transverse roadways that curve their way through Central Park. I think that the folks who are selected to pilot these bus routes are the royalty of the roadways. Just imagine their squeezing past all sort of double parking slalom courses and handling the icy streets that usually are a feature around this time of the year.


  11. Your little sketches with acrylic inks are very pretty Frances. I never fancied trying the bendy buses when they were in London... and what is this about you possibly being able to try a London bus? Is this some exciting news you have?

  12. I love your experiemnts with the sketches very much like embroidery indeed. I do not envy you your buses but that art collection oh my!!

  13. Interesting that New York is adopting the bendy buses that London abandoned a few years ago after only a few years of trial. I wonder if they'll prove popular with anyone in New York.
    I do love your ink drawings, Frances, and I'm deeply envious of your Stein exhibition which looks wonderful. I've always been intrigued by that period when Gertrude Stein lived in Paris with so many writers and artists, which Hemingway describes so vividly in A Moveable Feast. Almost worth a trip to NY just to see this ... I wish!

  14. I am quite sure only you Frances, could write in such a captivating manner about bendy buses... you have such a talent with your conversational writing. Oh I would love to see that exhibit...but I am not too downbeat as we have just booked to go to Barcelona and I will get a big culture fix there.

    I look forward to seeing further ink sketches; the gift tags are beautiful x

  15. Loved your art experiments.
    We have had bendy buses for ages on 23rd Street, and I agree you do not want to sit in the bendy bit of it (no view at all!)
    The Met always delights but I have not been there for several months.
    Need a Neue galerie fix soon --and the coffee shop.
    Want to go soon?

  16. A lovely and profitable day. I love your interest in the arts and your own efforts at creating art. You will never be without a pleasant occupation.

    We've had these bendy buses in Germany for many years, bendy trams too. One does need to treat them with circumspection but they are quite useful otherwise.

    Dear Frances, I don't think there's a bachelor good enough for a lady like you, I should wait with the proposal for another year.

  17. Using embroidery stitches as sketch pattern is very creative. Please tell me what is the number of that bus? We will go to this exhibit in May and we use local transportation. I would not mind what type of buses is used here if only we had some near my home – we have none.
    I did not know about asking bachelors on 29 February. When I was in school in England and went to the weekly school dances we always had one or two dances when ladies could ask the gentlemen to dance – I always took the opportunity to ask… but that was only for a dance!

  18. I'm so enjoying your extra days off! The sketches are beautiful - I especially like the middle one - another bonus for us of your extra time!

    Now, bendy buses I can do - as they have them in Cardiff so I use one when my elder daughter and I go shopping, although I have to agree that the bendy bit itself is a bit daunting when the bus moves off and you're still unseated!

    Somehow, Frances, I think you were teasing us about those proposals!

  19. Hmm, I've just spotted your hint, Frances... you'll be inundated with offers if you're contemplating a visit, but just say the word and you'd be very welcome here.