Wednesday, June 24, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from sunny New York.

This New York City day has been enriched by the delivery of a remarkable new book containing truly splendid views of another city by the excellent photographer Colin O'Brien.

The book's photographs depict London from the early 1950s to the current day and will tell any viewer a remarkable tale of a changing place.

I first learned of Mr. O'Brien's work via one of my favorite blogs, Spitalfields Life.  Perhaps some of you in the U.K. also know about the book.  If not, you have great opportunity within the next few weeks to use the "listen again" feature on Robert Elms' BBC London Radio program to hear Mr. Elms interview Mr. O'Brien.  You are in for a treat.

Meanwhile, back here in New York, yesterday was oppressive in its heat and humidity, and even though the predicted heavy thunderstorms passed us by, we were lucky to discover that the air had cooled somewhat today.

This was a good day for some errands requiring long walks outdoors.  I had my camera with me and thought I would retrace some of places I'd shown you during winter snow days.  This brownstone block is one of those that stage the elaborate scary Halloween displays.

Around this time in late June all is more relaxed with lots of green foliage and some bright colors.  No snow, no skeletons.

I admire the way that the folks who live along this block share their front gardens with the rest of us.  I imagine that the back gardens behind these buildings must be wonderfully tranquil havens.

It seems to be a good time for hydrangea blooms.  I have seen lots of them around town. I admit that I am not all that sure about the bright yellow and orange flowers being so close to those cooler tones in the following photograph, but it is a very jolly grouping.

Please do take my word for it that there are more hydrangeas in the window boxes pictured below.  The sunshine is glorious!

Varieties of coleus plants are also very popular, particularly for commercial businesses wishing for low maintenance gardens in front of their premises.  If you click on the next picture to enlarge it, you'll see a reflection in the dark glass window of ... me.

Sometimes when I am taking pictures I tend to use similar composition for several photographs.  In the photos above and below I am exploring horizontal stripes.

The yellow cab is whizzing down Columbus Avenue, passing by an ABC Television building featuring a zipper news announcement.  It usually seems to be reporting some disaster, but I admit that I always look at it...usually to see the current weather report.

I'm hoping that you all have enjoyed this post's views from two different cities.  Thank you for your visits and comments.  I'm hoping that the hot weather is not going to make me into a lazy blogger.  It can be so easy to succomb to the call of an afternoon nap on a hot day, but also can be lots of fun to share my city with you all.

Monday, June 8, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on a mild evening in early June.

My recent posts have shown you all some city views from around NYC that featured warming weather as spring helped both people and plants to celebrate spring.

Meanwhile, in my little apartment, it's still cool enough to continue with some knitting projects.

This fair isle project is a jacket/cardigan that I am knitting for myself, not for my etsy shop.  As you can see the colors are blues, greens, off white and touches of pink, lavender and rose.

Since I am making this design up as I go along, I am making lots of notes, doing lots of mathematical calculations, coloring lots of grid patterned papers with my colored pencils, and even ... unravelling a few or more than a few rows every so often, to fix an error.

On three sets of needles, I am simultaneously working on the back, the fronts (with pockets,) and the sleeves.  This means that I can see how the design shapes up as I go along, and how the fair isle motifs will meet properly at the seams, making sure the motifs are centered.

Yes, it is a bit slow going, but a very interesting project.  It's my hope that when I do complete the jacket, I will have enough detailed notes and charts to actually write a pattern.  This would be a first for me.

When I am not 100% absorbed in this experiment, I've been enjoying more long walks outdoors, even when an umbrella's been required, visiting the the farmers market, seeing friends, putting in my required work days at the shop, and doing lots of reading on my subway rides.

I first encountered Kate Atkinson's writing talent when her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was published.  I was lucky to buy a softcover version in London before it was published over here in the States.  And so, when Ms Atkinson made her first U.S. book tour and did a reading at a neighborhood Barnes & Noble shop, I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet her and let her know how much I admired that book.

Since way back then, I have enjoyed every one of her books and truly think that this new novel is a wonder.  It features many characters from the prior book, Life After Life; however, it is not necessary to have read Life After Life to appreciate the new book.  Still, I would recommend that you read them in order.

As always, I thank each of you all for your visits and for your taking the time to leave your lovely comments. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York, where it is quite hot and humid.

It is a day to seek shade and any breeze, with knowledge that thunderstorms will arrive later on.  

On a more beautiful afternoon this week I met a friend for lunch at El Cafe at the Museo del Barrio, followed by a leisurely walk around the magnificent Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

I encourage to click on the above links to learn more about both of these remarkable places.  I'll try to show you, via my afternoon's photographs, some of the atmosphere of the sprawling Garden.

On weekends, the Garden can be a crowded place, and is often the site of quite elegant weddings and other parties.  On a weekday afternoon, I think that there are more birds and bees than people.

I hope that you can imagine a little breeze, and lots of birdsong and bee buzzing.

These fully bloomed peonies had delightfully sweet scents and were the size of dinner plates.

The garden designers have a great skill at mixing colors, textures, scents and proportions to achieve an elegant, welcoming result.

My friend and I were glad that some iris were still in bloom.

Even the post-bloom seed pods on some plants were beautiful.  I do need to get back over to the Garden with my sketchbook.

It had been several years, yes years, since my last visit to this Garden, and I really wondered why.

This shady little nook with reflecting pool and statue is a tribute to the author of The Secret Garden.

Perhaps if you click on the following picture, you will be able to read the letters carved into the stone in the foreground.  We found it amusing that a gardener was refilling his classic large watering can from the reflecting pool in order to water some tender new plants that had recently been added to an adjacent space.

This gardener was very friendly and informative about how changes are constantly being made to the Garden and how the new additions get "hand watered" until their roots are established enough to benefit from the subtle irrigation system's hose tubes that snake their way through the greenery.

I do hope that you all are getting some idea of the beauty of this fabulous place.

There are lots of trees and shrubs throughout the garden.  We were too late to see the wisteria, azaleas or fruit trees in bloom.  Next year!  You can see the gardener in his protective sunhat.

More peonies.

I think that I tried to photograph some huge bumble bees in the following picture.  Perhaps you can spot them near the base of the flowers?

Contrasting colors do add some drama to the multiple shades of green.

A clever bird couple selected a desirable address for their spring 2015 nest.

And another view of the nest in its hiding place.

Some visitors come to sit on benches along these shaded avenues. The ivy growth is thick along the ground.

In another section of the Garden a more strict geometry is at the heart of the design. Late spring growth of the leaves has softened the geometry.

Of course, there is a water feature.

This stairway leads up to the impressive wisteria arbors. They are now very leafy, and still lovely after the flowering days.

Does this not seem a place of tranquility?

Just beyond those trees is Fifth Avenue.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of rose roses bloomed around a circular pathway.

Are they not splendid?

Let us have one more view of the roses, with a view through the fence of another area of Central Park.  Remember, the Park is quite large.

This shady spot also gives you a perspective on Fifth Avenue buildings.  Mount Sinai Hospital's huge complex of buildings is quite near.  I think you can also see a gardener with his wheelbarrow on the path near more roses.

We were curious to see what a group of gardeners were working on, and discovered that they had been digging up all of the daffodil bulbs since their season was over.  The gardeners said that they were giving away the bulbs and could even provide us with carrier bags.  Unfortunately, neither of us has a garden, but we thought the offer was amazingly generous.  More will be planted in the circular space for summer, and then more bulbs will be planted in autumn.

I wish we could have said yes to the offer.

The pansies edging this knot garden area were also being carefully dug out to be replaced with something else.  The pansies will no doubt go to some sort of greenhouse.

Do imagine the scent.

These beauties are well worth a close up view.

I took the following photograph of the study in greens against an overcast sky, to show how the shrubbery is now due for a clipping.  I loved the look of the little sprigs popping out above the designated top of the box.

There is something about this picture that reminds me of some of my favorite Lucian Freud paintings and etchings.

As we headed up the steps to the Fifth Avenue gate, I turned around to take one last photograph of the formal entry.  This time I thought of those dark green trees in an early scene from Blow Up.

I hope that you all have enjoyed this visit to the Conservatory Garden, and that some day you will be able to stroll its pathways yourselves.

Thank you for your visit to my previous post with the street scenes. I enjoyed reading your comments very much!