Saturday, July 19, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from sunny New York City.

We've now entered into the days of heat and humidity.  Dramatic thunder and lightening, accompanied by heavy showers, add to the excitement of city life.


Strange little City mini-parks contain exuberant flowering displays cheer us as we walk the hot sidewalks.  I try to stay in the shade.


During my days off, I also try to stay indoors during the midday hours.  I have a fan and cross-ventilation, but no air conditioning.  This summer an unwanted complication has entered into my primitive climate control strategy.  Maintenance work is being done on the apartment building's exterior.  Teams of men arrive at 8 a.m. and leave around 4 p.m.  During their work hours they ride up and down on complex automated scaffolding platforms, stopping at a particular floor.  They use very noisy drills in their work.  While they are nearby one's own floor, one is advised to keep window/s and blinds closed.

This gives an interesting silhouette.  The noise and vibration of their necessary work really does disturb the peace. 


I have tried to stay away when the workmen are very near my floor.  It's more fun to meet friends in cooler, calmer places.  I took the bus over to The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the East Side, and was impressed by the curbside plantings outside some of the impressive apartment buildings across Fifth Avenue from the Museum.


These plantings were very well groomed, and quite different from those plantings behind the fence at Shermsn Square.


It was great fun to meet a friend at the Met and see some excellent exhibits featuring Pre-Raphaelite art, William Morris wallpaper, Byzantine design, and Indian miniature paintings inspired by ragas.  Each of these exhibits was beautiful and peaceful, and contained lots of imagery based on nature.

I returned home after 4 p.m. and continued with my current knitting project.  Yes, I am knitting with wool.


Using a cool blue and green color assortment seems more comfortable than using firey reds.


I like the notion that I might also be inspired by nature.


This project is being knitted as a tube on a circular needle.  I will eventually use that tricky kitchener stitch to attach the ends of the tube to create a cowl.  The cowl will be going into my Etsy shop.  Cooler weather will arrive.


New York City has complex rules for curbside parking.  I cannot understand why anyone would want to own a car in this city, although many folks do own cars.  I rely on public transportation and my two feet, but sometimes take a cab.

This week as the sun goes down I have seen a vast array of taxis parked on my street.


The reason for this is the observance of Ramadan by the drivers of these cabs.  There is a mosque in the neighborhood.


I hope that you all will enjoy seeing some of these summer city views.  It has been a pleasure to see your comments and to see some new followers, too.  Thank you so much for your response to my last post's tribute to Paul Mazursky.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on the first evening of July.

I'll quickly apologize for not having posted in a while, without detailing all sorts of alibis.

Let me quickly upload a photo of a view from my current neighborhood before traveling a bit back in time.


The featured obelisk is not at all attractive to my eye, but it is typical of what is being built in NYC these days.

This evening I would like to remember a time in the mid-1970's when I returned to live in New York after a brief return to my Virginia roots.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to move into a huge, but spartan loft space in the downtown neighborhood that had been named by real estate interests as SoHo.  South of Houston Street.

By the time I paid a fixture fee to the prior tenant (a model who was moving to Greece) and got the keys to the building from the landlady, with our mutual awareness that the space was not officially residential, galleries and a few restaurants had already set up business in an area that previously had been HQ for a variety of light industries, primarily in the textile trade.

Rents were cheap, one had to know someone to gain access to such places, plumbing was primitive, winters were chilly indoors.  The notion of gentrification was just coming into the lexicon.

I still treasure my years in my Greene Street loft.  A year before I moved into this space, a movie was filmed in a loft across the street and the movie's final scene was actually filmed in the street itself.

The film was and is An Unmarried Woman.

I currently work in a shop in SoHo.  Nowadays, SoHo is mostly an urban shopping area.  The artists have moved.  The galleries have moved.  Still, it's a destination for visitors from all over the world.  Luxury hotels and international luxury retailers have set up business in SoHo.

A year or so ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I spoke with a gentleman who'd entered my workplace.  I am now officially a senior citizen, and he was my elder.  I enquired if I could help him find something, and he wistfully replied, thank you, but I am looking for something that doesn't exist anymore.

I am a curious person, and asked him to tell me more.  It was then that he began to tell me that he'd once made a movie in this area....  I began to blush as I quickly realized that I was speaking with Paul Mazursky.

Mr. Mazursky's obituary has appeared today.  I am doubly, perhaps triply, honored to have had the opportunity to meet him, to tell him how much I loved his movies, particularly An Unmarried Woman, and that I could indeed tell him where his remarkable, still very important movie, was filmed.

We had a lovely chat, and I know my blush deepened with every sentence.  I "directed" Mr. Mazursky to the block of Greene Street that he was looking for.

Perhaps those of you who read this post might have seen the film, or some of the other films that Mr. Mazursky either wrote or directed.  If not, you are in for a treat when you do get around to seeing them.

If you have seen them, then perhaps you will share my thoughts about his talent, and the way in which he was able to translate a very unique New York City time and place into film.

Thank you all for your visits here and your comments.

Friday, June 6, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on June 6, a date that has great historic resonance.

Seeing the group portrait of international representatives arranged for today's Normandy portrait does make me wonder about how far we have come.  How far have we come?

Having posed that question, let me skip merrily along to offering you all some city views from New York.

A week ago, I put on my multi-colored leafy shetland wool cardigan, knit many, many years ago from a Susan Duckworth design, and met my friend Elizabeth at the Union Square farmers market.



Possible rain was in the forecast, but I bravely left my umbrella at home.  If you visit Elizabeth's About New York post, you'll get an idea of how we found shelter, and info about uses for chive flowers.  As the shower got gentler, we made our way to a favorite cafe for tea.  And a catch up conversation.

The rain had returned by the time we left the cafe, and so we said our farewells and I scampered into the nearest subway station to return back up to the West Side.


When I got back to my neighborhood the streets were still wet, but the sun was back.  I wished to see a rainbow, but was disappointed.


I'm sure that I've shown you a view of the Ansonia building a time or three in past posts.  It is rather grand rising above Broadway, and its halls are filled with ghosts of many famous actors and singers who lived there.  It's possible that some famed folks still manage to live there in its current status.  I have known some folks whose tenancy status fell afoul of fierce and determined real estate interests.

Looking south, or downtown on Broadway, you can see some evidence of the unromantic real estate encouraged architecture that, though tall, does not really measure up to the beauty of the Ansonia.

Back in the last century the little area that adjoined the 72nd Street subway station was known as Needle Park.  The young Al Pacino starred in a movie that had scenes set this this area.

Nowadays, many folks who pass through this area know it only as Verdi Park.  There are roses there. 


There are now two 72nd Street subway station houses.  The following photo shows a view of the uptown exit (at 73rd Street) of the newer station house.  Dogwood tree branches shade benches available to subway riders or neighborhood folks wishing to rest their feet.



You can see that the pavement around the station is still damp from the showers.  The following photograph shows the statue of Verdi that graces part of the little park.


On that afternoon, as I stood on 72nd Street, between the uptown and downtown subway station buildings, I liked the vantage point of the view down Broadway.


You all can see the various recycling rubbish binds, the police car parked in front of the downtown station house, a city bus making its way up Broadway, and some uninspired architecture lining Broadway in the West 70's and 60's.

Here is another view.  The tall building just to the right of the center of the photograph is from an earlier era.  The Sleepy sign shows the way to a mattress store.


I keep wishing for more spare time, and truly hope to be able to report soon that I will have more spare time to get around New York City, sharing more pictures with you all.

Today was a lovely day, and I made another visit to the Union Square farmers market.  Although I myself cannot quite spot it now, I know that when I took the following photo, it was because a translucent winged dragonfly was nestling amongst these shiny green leaves.


Today's greenmarket visit was a quick one, and I returned to my neighborhood to complete some errands, before getting back home for some knitting.

As I walked towards my favorite grocery store, The Fairway Market, I noticed the marquee on the Beacon Theater, just across Broadway.  How blase I have become.  


Over the years I have seen many fine performances at the Beacon.  Notably, many shows by The Kinks.  The Beacon was once an elaborately decorated cinema.  It's been through many eras.  Nowadays, the seats don't have springs that spring through threadbare upholstery.

The ticket booth is pretty, but you'd be wise to book your tickets ahead via the internet.  Do stay clear of the sidewalk scalpers.


Back home this afternoon, I managed to add some more rows to my Gudrun Johnston lacy shetland shawl.  It's growing slowly, but steadily.


Here's a closer view.




And here's an even closer view with the pattern stretched out a bit to show the diamond design.  It's fun to knit with the Madelinetosh yarn.


And, still indoors, here's another close up view.  While at today's farmers market I bought some brilliantly fresh asparagus, and as a visual treat, also brought home this pretty upright fuchsia plant.  I so hope that I will be able to keep it flowering for quite a few weeks.  I even consulted a Martha Stewart website for care information. 


Dear readers, please wish this lovely plant luck on my windowsill.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  I am delighted to have a new follower.  Returning to my opening paragraph on this June 6, I would venture that the global community that our blogging makes possible is something that gives positive hope for the future of our actual physical global community.

Best wishes to you all.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on a bright and sunny Sunday in May.

It seems like a good time to do a little review of some signs of Spring that I have recently been seeing around the City.

Every year I try to take a photograph of the beautiful tulips that fill the median spaces along Park Avenue.  The following view was taken specially for Merisi.



Over in my own upper west side neighborhood, we also had some pretty tulips blooming right in the middle of Broadway.


I've been making weekly visits downtown to the Union Square Farmers Market, and some of those days were very overcast, even a bit drizzly.  Mr. Gandhi did not seem to mind the lack of bright sunshine in this quiet little green garden area. 


Not very far away, there was much more hustle and bustle.  Because of our lingering chilly weather, there are not many fruits or vegetables for sale yet.  However, lots of flowers and herbs have appeared to inspire folks to try their luck at urban farming on a roof or window sill.


For other folks who lack even small patches of earth and sun, there are plenty of cut flowers on offer.


Lots of color schemes, some flowers with fabulous scents, too.



These hyacinths attracted many admirers.  The open "doughnut hole" shows that some admirers took hyacinths home.


My eyes are always drawn to the mosaic patterns of flat containers of colorful plants that one farmer arranges.


Back in the last century, Union Square had fallen into disrepair and was not a pleasant or very safe place in which to spend time.  The establishment of the Farmers Market really helped to transform the entire park.  What was once a scary comfort station building has this year become the site of a cafe.


Seating is also available outside in an area adjacent to where the farmers show off their plants.  Before long I do want to sample the cafe's fares.



Here are more varieties of flowers to tempt the passersby.


More interesting color combinations.


Some flower lovers have already taken slices out of this cake.


Lilacs and peonies are often displayed together.


Some of the flowers are displayed in the bright midday sun.  Others keep their heads cool under little tents.  I like the variations in the colors that the shadows create.


It is definitely iris season.  I saw mostly purple iris.


Somehow, this one peony had decided the had arrive to burst forth into petal grandeur.  I wondered how long the other buds would stay closed.  I was reminded of how one popcorn kernal starts the popping process.


Back indoors, I also wanted to show you all that I have finished another fair isle scarf.  Its colors are somewhat reminiscent of those in a persian carpet in my apartment.  I also think that inspiration for one color band of this design might have arisen during my Lenten chocolate fast.  It now reminds me of dark and white chocolate and caramel.


Here's a close up view.


I always enjoy playing around with colors.  Sometimes I am aware of why I am choosing a particular palette; sometimes I am not!  


Thank you all for visiting and for taking time to leave comments.  I am going to try to be better at replying to you all.

Happy Spring from New York City!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York on a cool day in May.

Mother Nature keeps teasing us with warmth and sunshine, and then retreats for a day or two.  This has advantages.  The flowering season is prolonged and it's still quite comfy to be knitting with wool and wearing some wool layers, too.



I've just completed another of my tubular fair isle patterned cowls.  This one was knit with a selection of DK yarns on a 3.75 mm circular needle.


For the borders between the diagonal bits I used a duo of fingering weight yarns.  One was black shetland and the other was a ruby red tweed yarn.  I think this blending helps soften the line, while still giving some definition.


In order to complete this cowl, I finally mastered a grafting technique known as the Kitchener stitch.


I'm left-handed, but do my knitting in the same direction as right-handed folks do.  My crocheting is done in a left-handed way, opposite to what you see in crocheting instruction books.  Kitchener stitch instructions I've seen over the years in books and videos also seemed geared to right-handed persons.


I just could not get my mind wrapped around the technique.  And then, yesterday, I found that I could.  I am thankful to the Kitchener instructions given in Elizabeth Lovick's wonderful book, The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting.


It took a little while to join the ends of my tube but as you can see in the above photo, my cowl is complete, and I do like the way it drapes.


I will soon be adding this item to my Foakley Arts etsy.com shop.


Now I am finishing up another fair isle scarf, and beginning a lacy triangle scarf using very fine yarn.  As I work on these two projects, I am also getting some ideas about another design which will allow me to practice that no longer elusive Kitchener stitch.

Many thanks to you all for your visits and comments.  It is pleasure to hear from you all and to welcome new visitors.