Saturday, February 28, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

It is the final day of the coldest February that I have ever experienced.  Other parts of the country have received more snow, but we have had unrelenting cold.  The sun may shine, but does not always guarantee warmth.

This morning I headed out to take care of some errands.  I took the subway up to West 79th Street to catch the crosstown bus over to the East Side.  As I neared the bus stop, the traffic lights changed and it was all go for the bus, leaving me at the curb.  


In the foreground of these blue-skied photographs is a standard upon which is affixed a bus route map and timetable.  Unfortunately, the icy slope around the base of the standard prevented my being able to read the schedule.  The ice is not pretty, but is very effective.


Eventually, another bus did arrive and it was so good to step into the well-heated vehicle.  The bus driver was wearing a cardigan jacket in his enclosed compartment.

I accomplished my East Side errand and had better luck with my return ride home.

Many more than my usual number of hours have been spent indoors during February.  I thought I would show you a few photos of the knitting I completed during the chilly month.


Perhaps some of you have seen the color test provided by that striped dress that took the Internet by storm this week.  My version of the color question appears in these three pictures.


I would say that in differing light, and against differing shades of clothing and background, each photograph does show the heathered rosy shade of this Kate Davies design accurately.


I would encourage those of you who have not before visited Kate's site to do so.  You are in for a multi-textured treat.

I have now added another welcome pair of hand knit woolly socks to my collection.  It's great to have socks that truly fit my feet.


Once again, I am showing two pictures to indicate how differently colors may appear in different contexts.  I also thought you might be amused by the trunk that I painted back in the 1960s.


During my house- or apartment-bound weeks, I've made more soup than in any prior month, and done a lot of reading.  I read half of two books, Peter Carey's Amnesia, and Esther Freud's Mr. Mac and Me, before their respective library due dates arrived.  I returned those books to the library and put my name back on the reserve request list.   

During this morning's errand run, I checked out another new book with a one-week loan limit, Kazuo Ishiburo's The Buried Giant.  I have been looking forward to borrowing the book, having enjoyed his novels from the beginning of his career.

This week's Book Review section of The New York Times features a front page Neil Gaiman review of The Buried Giant.  I will try to complete the book itself before reading this review. 



Although I greatly enjoy walking around New York, and exploring neighborhoods other than my own, I'll admit that during this particular February, I have been reminded of the pleasures of being somewhat housebound.  Amongst these pleasures has been the opportunity to visit many other folks' blogs, and to read and reply to the comments that you all have left for me here.  Many thanks.

Let us hope that tomorrow's forecast snow, sleet and rain will mark the end of a long weather pattern.  I am eager to get back to walking in Central Park, and seeing what Spring signals I may find.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Happy Valentine's Day!


Hoping that these little hearts, cut out from a flower catalogue, will bring you all joy!

As always, thank you all for your visits and lovely comments.
xxx ooo

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

As some of you will already know, we have had a second snowfall.  This one also included sleet and freezing rain and resulted in icy sidewalks.  Again, I was very fortunate to have the post-icing days off from work.  Sidewalks were a bit treacherous, even when they had been meticulously cleared, because the sleet and rain applied a thin glaze to the sidewalk surfaces.


Sidewalks that had not been cleared were also dangerous because of the ice.  People who had to venture outside were very cautious in their gaits.


The snow and ice that clung to tree branches did create some pretty lacy effects.  Snow plows did again make their rounds, but left slushy lanes behind that re-froze.


It was a good time to stay indoors and finish the scarf I have been knitting for several weeks.  


The scarf is now in my Foakley Arts etsy.com shop, just in time for consideration as a Valentine's Day gift.


Although the temperature remains well below freezing, the sun did return this morning along with a bright blue sky.  I ventured out to fetch some coffee, vegetables, and chicken.  Guided by advice from several cookbooks and my own intuition, I have made lots of chicken soup this afternoon.  Much of the resulting chicken broth is now in my fridge's freezer.  There will be another snow storm, perhaps within a week's time.

I've also begun another knitting project, a quick pair of cosy wool socks, using "Fruitarian" yarn from Gnome Acres, a source introduced to me by Celia Hart.


It's fun to be playing around with various bright colors indoors, while admiring the subtle winter colors of the city views just outside my windows.

Drilling update.  The weeks of sub-freezing, snowy weather have prevented the drillers and masons from completing their massive project.  They were very close the finish line.  Although much of their activities were noisy and dusty, I am sorry that they have not been working, because I imagine that they are not getting any paychecks during the deep freeze.

Thank you all for your visits and kind comments.  Isn't it encouraging to notice the increase in daylight hours?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Yesterday, we were warned that a blizzard would descend upon our city overnight.  Businesses, including my own employer, closed their doors earlier than usual.  Transportation was affected.  For the first time because of snow, the subway system shut down for the night at 11 p.m.

The snow had begun falling and accumulating before midday.  

It was a relief to get home last evening and know that whatever the blizzard brought us, I would have today as a "regular" day off.


Around 9 p.m., I took a few photographs of the view from one of my windows.  Dark and ominous, with some lingering Christmas lights, some street and building lights, and the glow of fallen snow.

Heavy clouds added to the dark sky.  Vehicular traffic was limited to emergency vehicles (which did not include either taxis or take-out delivery bicycles) and Sanitation Department trucks with affixed snowplow attachments.  The city's quiet was interrupted only by the scraping sounds of snowplows making their rounds, keeping the streets clear.


When I woke up this morning, I realized that the blizzard had not lingered in New York.  News broadcasts revealed that it was Boston that was now hosting the historic snowfall.


Yes, a delicate snow was still falling, and the air was very cold.  Snowplows continued their rounds.  Some brownstone steps and sidewalks had already been cleared.


The views from my window did not look quite so ominous in the grey morning light.


Having promised to show you all some snow scenes, I quickly finished my breakfast, donned layers of clothing to keep me somewhat warm, picked up my camera and headed outdoors.

You can see that the street and most sidewalks were already cleared of snow, with only a bit of slush to be found around the edges.


I encountered quite a few young men carrying shovels for hire.  They do a fine job for residences and businesses whose folks do not wish to take care of this duty themselves.


I include this close up view of the fire hydrant against the stripes of the plowed roadway in order to show that the snow's depth was not very deep.


Continuing my stroll around the neighborhood, I discovered that nourishment was available for those who had not brought home groceries before the snow began.


Cabs were once again traveling along Amsterdam Avenue.


Pizza by the slice or whole pie was available.


However, many banks were closed and seemed a bit frosty.


This quaint little church, in the shadow of high rise apartment buildings, seemed shut up tightly, although its walkway had been cleared.


These fellows were working well as a team and swiftly taking care of business in front of this brownstone.


Over on Columbus Avenue, I liked the filigree appearance of these trees.  The red lights of the Don't Walk sign add a touch of color to the scene.  The holiday snowflake decoration is still attached to the street lamp pole.


I wonder how this small bike came to spend the night at the curb?


The steps up to the doors of 110 had been liberally sprinkled with chemical, snow-melting "salt" that is very dangerous for dogs whose owners do not outfit them with protective boots.


Across the street, the red doors of this church seemed firmly shut.  In the foreground you can see that sidewalk shoveling has effectively covered over garbage left on the sidewalk for overnight pick-up by someone who clearly didn't comprehend that the usual garbage truck rounds would be otherwise engaged.


This beautiful entrance way always catches my eye, no matter what the weather.


It has become more and more rare to spot payphones along the sidewalk.  I guess it was during the peak of last night's snow and wind that snow actually found its way into the Titan's enclaves.


These benches in the middle of Broadway can be pleasant places to rest during milder weather.


It was only 25 degrees F. as I took my brief stroll, and I admit that my camera clicking fingers were beginning to feel the chill.  And so, I began to head home.  Just then, I saw yet another snow plow getting ready to make a turn up a street that was already rather clear.


I could not resist the photo op.  The driver made too wide a turn, had to reverse, correct his angle and give it another go.


Mission accomplished on the turn, he made his way up the street.  I made my own way up the sidewalk.


How pleasant it was to return to the warmth of my apartment and prepare this little report for you all.

I am now going to have a bowl of delicious lentil soup.  Regular readers might remember that I'd put some of last week's soup in the freezer.  Its time has now come.

I send my very best wishes to all the folks up in New England who are now having to deal with the blizzard that spared us.  Thank you all for your visits and comments. We are now a day closer to springtime.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Do you all remember the song lyric, "I've been for a walk on a winter's day?"  Earlier today, taking advantage of sunshine, blue sky and temperature above freezing, I took such a walk and enjoyed it very much.  I did not really dream of California.

Today is Sunday.  On Tuesday, a winter blizzard is forecast.  Sometimes the weather forecasters over hype the drama.  I do hope this is true this time around, because around 12 inches of snow has been predicted.  Tuesday is already a scheduled day off for me, so if the big snow does arrive, I will be able measure my wish to take lots of snow scene photographs to share with you against my natural inclination to stay warm and dry indoors.  Knitting perhaps.

In my last post I showed a photograph of a zigzaggedy knit scarf.  That scarf no longer exists.  I was not pleased with how it was developing, unraveled it, and cast on a new version.


I prefer the flow of the colors in this version, with the bands of turquoise/purple stars appearing somewhat randomly throughout the smaller details of the rosy checkerboards.  


I should be able to finish the scarf on the upcoming blizzard day.


I would already have finished the scarf if I had been allowed to take my knitting with me to the courthouse where I spent two days as a potential juror last week.  Knitting needles are not allowed past the security checks.  Instead, I took along a hefty Georges Simenon omnibus containing five Maigret novels.  Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses is the novel I am currently reading.

Of course, when I was amongst the jurors summoned to a "voir dire" courtroom process before a judge, a defendant, prosecuting and defending attorneys, I kept my book firmly closed.

I believe that jury duty is an important duty for us to accept.  I have served on juries before.  I was greatly relieved when I was one of those whom the judge excused from jury duty late on Friday afternoon.

Some city views are not pleasant ones.  Without revealing another word here about the nature of the case that was seeking its impartial jurors, I will say that sitting in that courtroom gave me much to consider about how fortunate I have been in my own life.

My good fortune includes making the acquaintance of so many interesting people around the world via this blog.  I continue to thank you all for your visits and comments.

In my next post, I do hope to take you outside again to see how this city handles a snowstorm.

Friday, January 16, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Although we are now halfway through January, I still hear myself wishing folks Happy New Year.  I wish to hold on to that freshness that the first days of a year promise.

We have had some very, very cold days, some light snowfall, some rain, some sleet.  And also some rather pleasant sunny days, like today, when it can be good to be outdoors.


I have been clearing out some excess clutter.  Some of these items have been taken to a neighborhood thrift store.  Some have been discarded.  There is plenty more de-cluttering to do.  I assure you none of those pictured cups and saucers have left the apartment.

Another January project required the skill of the apartment building staff.  Washers and handles on my kitchen and bathroom sinks have been changed.  A pesky little chore, but it has made a difference to daily life.


I have made a substantial lentil soup, and have set aside half of it in the fridge's freezer compartment.  It's comforting to know it's there.  This kind of cooking for immediate and future consumption is another of my 2015 intentions.


On the very chilly days, it's been tempting to stay indoors.  On days when I have been scheduled to go downtown to work, the subway cars have been warm, but the subway station platforms have been quite cold.  An eight-minute wait for a train can seem quite a long time when you can see your breath in the chilly air.

On warmer days, it's been more fun to venture out, whether to do neighborhood errands, visit the farmers market, meet friends for cake and coffee, attend a birthday tea, or just take a walk.

Yesterday, I met a friend over at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to take a look at a beautiful exhibit Kimono: A Modern History.  I wish that all of you who are interested in textiles or embroidery or dying techniques could see this exhibit.  The show closes soon, and so I was very fortunate to be able to have a leisurely look.  I regret not taking photographs within the gallery rooms.

However, while still in the Met, I did take these photographs, through a window in the Japanese galleries, that overlooks the spacious Temple of Dendur gallery in the Egyptian Wing, with its very large slanting windows overlooking Central Park.


The sun was definitely on its westward way towards setting as I took these photographs.  It is fascinating to me how many areas of the Met can have a certain uncrowded tranquility.  However, sometimes (when the Met is closed to the public) this particular gallery is used for major parties, with lots of people, food, drinks, music.


Less tranquility has been found outside my living room window during the above-freezing, non-precipitation days of January, as the team of drillers and masons continue to finish up their multi-month project on the building's exterior walls.  


We residents of the building have been assured that the project is very, very near completion.  To aid that crossing of the finish line, work will be done tomorrow morning (Saturday) and on the following Saturday morning, in addition to the usual Monday through Friday work.  Saturday work is to commence at 9 a.m., rather than the weekday 8 a.m.


I thought that I would take this opportunity to take a couple of photographs, through my venetian blinds, to show you all the precarious hanging platform from which these men have been working.  Perhaps you can just see the ropes and electrical cables.

The final photographs are of some of the knitting projects I am working on.  The multi-colored zigzag scarf is being knitted in a variety of red, rose, pink, lavender, burgundy shades of fingering wool.  I intend to add it to my Foakley Arts etsy.com shop in time for Valentine's Day gifting.


This other project is not my own design, but rather that of the fabulously talented Kate Davies, and is called A Hap for Harriet.  I am knitting it in a soft merino lace weight yarn, and it it taking a long time to complete.  I began knitting this wrap when on my November UK holiday.


Its progress was slowed down by a variety of Christmas projects.


I have now worked on several "hap" designs by other talented knitters, and next plan to figure out my own design.  I was given some beautiful yarn from Yorkshire as a Christmas gift from my cousin and want to use it for this next special knitting exploration, another of my New Year's intentions.

Somehow using the word intention, rather than resolution has been a kinder, gentler way for me to press forward.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  It's grand to find new folks have become followers of my posts.  Welcome to one and all.