Friday, November 27, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

I've been meaning to give you all an update on my night at the Metropolitan Opera, but instead seem to have been devoting most of my free time to painting my Christmas tea cup cards.

As of now, I think I will be able to complete this year's supply in time to get them in the mail for delivery prior to December 25.  I've already bought my first batch of Christmas stamps.

Later on today, I will be having my first experience working until 10 p.m., the seasonal closing hour for the shop.  I'll show you a few more photographs of the mall's light fixtures with the changing lights.  Every 30 minutes, these lights put on an extra show with rapidly changing colors and glittery effects, accompanied by really loud version of holiday tunes.  

One gets used to this drama reather quickly.  I am happy to report that I did not feel so jaded about the opera Lulu.  The staging was so imaginative, and the cast sang beautifully, in German.  Subtitles were available on a tiny screen affixed to the back of the seat directly in front of mine.  It was a thrill to hear the full orchestra's performance and to be caught up in the evening's drama.

If Lulu, designed and directed by William Kentridge, is ever due to be performed in your area, I would recommend acquiring tickets.

Fortunately, our shop was closed for Thanksgiving yesterday, although some of the mall's shops were open.

It was a mild hat or gloves were required, and I decided to walk over to 72nd Street to view a bit of the annual Macy's sponsored Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I was curious to see if the crowd numbers would be affected by any safety concerns, in light of recent global events.

Crossing Columbus Avenue, I noticed that some souvenir vendors had set up their endeavors a block away from the Central Park West parade route.

It was also apparent that lots of police security was in place.

All the same, Columbus Avenue looked quiet.

As I neared 72nd Street, I saw more vendors' stands, and more police  officers and vehicles.  Huge Sanitation Department trucks were also being used to block other vehicles from entry to 72nd Street.

The parade had already been in motion for about a half hour by the time I got my first view of one of the large balloons.  I think that this one was a little engine that could.  I also realized that the bright day and back lit clouds meant that my parade photographs would be poor.

I decided to take a few pictures of the viewing crowd, and of some available souvenirs.  I also thought the clouds were lovely.  There was a pretty strong breeze keeping the clouds moving uptown, as the parade progressed downtown.

Many adults had been unable to resist purchasing one of the turkey hats.  

I do not know which character's profile is shown in the next photograph.

It seemed to me that there were fewer folks viewing the parade yesterday than in past years.  However, it was still fun to see the family groups taking photographs of each other, and young children being able to climb onto ladders or parents' shoulders for better views of the balloons. 

I think that I stayed about an hour at the parade, and then just after seeing this delightful young dinosaur pass by, I headed on home.

It was very pleasant to get home, fix myself a mug of hot chocolate, and sit down to paint some more tea cup cards.  I am very thankful for all my blessings, and I thank you all for your visits and comments.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Weather continues to be strangely mild for November, and I have resisted bringing out any winter coats from my closet.  Instead, I've been combining various layers to keep warm while out and about.

Tomorrow is what we call Veteran's Day, and I honor that with a view of a poppy bought in London last year.

I've not net quite finished the knitted jacket that's in the background.  Time has been filled with all sorts of other matters needing attention.

About a month ago, I transferred from a downtown work location, reached by a subway commute, to a location that is within a short walk from my home.

My employer remains the same, but now I work in a luxe mall in this skyscraper.  It is the same and not the same.  I like having my routine shaken up a bit.  It's good to have the option of walking to and/or from work, but also good to have the option of a very quick subway ride when my legs are tired.

Just across Columbus Circle from the skyscraper is another tall building that bears the five letter name (begins with a T) of a current contender for the United States Presidency. 

I admit that these two buildings are not amongst my favorite city views, but each serves an economic purpose.  The following photograph from within the mall, shows the seasonal lights that have been installed already as part of the Holiday decorations.  Every few seconds, the fixtures' colors change.  Beyond those starry lights you can see the giant window that provides a view of the southwest corner of Central Park.

I've also been busy on my days off, both enjoying meeting up with friends, and also beginning some of my own Christmas projects.  Having seeing this book mentioned by Emma over at her silverpebble site, I realized that it was a volume I'd love to add to my crowded book shelves.

I was thrilled to find a very inexpensive, used copy of the book in quite good condition, and have been studying its beautiful pages, getting ideas to incorporate into this year's Christmas Tea Cup watercolor painted cards.

Last week, after filling several sketchbook pages with sketches, I settled on a design and the painting has commenced.

Other wintry pursuits are also underway.  I found these red mittens quick to knit, on double pointed needles, using a Lopi yarn, much thicker than yarn I usually select.  Now that I've got the hang of it, I might be making more mittens soon.

I've got some other Christmastime knitting projects underway, but will keep those a secret for now.

I've lived in the same West Side neighborhood for over 25 years.  Lincoln Center is a ten-minute walk away.  Yes, I have attended concerts there, indoors and outdoors.  I have been to plays.  I have been in the audience for many ballet performances, even seeing Fonteyn and Nureyev.  However, I have never been to an opera in the Met.

This deplorable record is about to change on Saturday, when I will be seeing Lulu.  The production was designed and directed by a favorite artist, William Kentridge.  

Long ago, I saw the black and white film, Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, that covers the same tale.  It is not a happy tale, but surely a dramatic one.

I'm going to take a nap on Saturday afternoon, so that I will be able to give my full attention to the production on Saturday evening.

Also on the cultural front, I am about to begin Slade House by David Mitchell, which will have a bit of connection to his recent novel, The Bone Clocks.

On a much lighter note, I thought I'd share with you all this cover of a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine.  It's title is Rolling Out the Gold Carpet.

There are other matters that are consuming lots of my waking hours, but I'll leave any exploration of those to another time.

I'm happy that so many of you all visited my Halloween post and left comments.  It's grand to hear from you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Once again, it is that special time in my neighborhood when strange sights appear on West 69th Street.  Walking along this afternoon, at first I was surprised to see a pumpkin patch had sprung up over night.

And then I realized that there were several pumpkin patches.

And yet another row of pumpkins, with some corn growing at the top of the stairway.  And then, my eyes were caught by something just below a nearby window.

The brownstone row houses began to look just a bit scary.  On these stairs a perfectly gracious couple and their black dog were joined by several skeleton blue grass musicians with flashing red eyes.

Next door things got even creepier.

This collection gave a new meaning to Animal House.  That yellow Police caution tape seemed wise.

Looking up, I realized that lots of spiders of a generous size were settling in as new neighbors.

I'm not too sure about the identity of this spook, but it certainly did have a certain aura.

Jeeeepers!  More spiders.  Along with a warning to folks who were planning to park along this street on October 31.

As I look back at these photographs, it is somewhat tricky to separate the real from the other worldly.

Look carefully if you dare.

There was a steady rain all day yesterday and through most of the night, and so I am pretty sure that none of these creatures appeared before today.

How many skulls do you count in the following photograph?

Perhaps this chap is a tree-hugging environmentalist?

Down on the ground below, this fellow is having a little rest next to the large pumpkin.  Can you tell that he's crossed his legs and has a show on one foot?

Yet more spiders blowing in the breeze.

There's a rather mixed group hanging out at this entrance.

As a nanny passing by with her young charge pointed out, There's the Devil!  And more spiders, of course.

Here is a rather subdued addition to the shrubbery.  Just chilling out.

The rather elaborate entrance to this limestone building has acquired some new residents.  And didn't they just bring along another spider for fun.

Lots and lots of stretchy cobwebs on display, mostly white, but some in an unnatural green shade.

Just across the street, a chorus of ghosties were taking an afternoon break to feel the afternoon breeze and admire their chalky white pumpkins.

I hope that you can discern that the first red letter is a B.  The two jack o'lanterns look rather jolly, but do not be fooled.

This next entryway is quite elegant, and I wondered if perhaps a party might be taking place there on Saturday night.

If there is to be a party, at number 29, I think this gent is all set for a fabulous evening.  See how we waves hello to all who pass by!

I am hoping that you all have enjoyed seeing these amazing sights.  I wish you a very Happy Halloween, and thank you, as always, for your visits and comments.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

During the past week I have spent more time indoors than I prefer, in part due to some rainy weather.  Today was a beautiful day, and so I set off across Central Park before midday headed for a particular destination.

My walk took me past the well-groomed folks playing croquet on the well-tended lawn.  Sometimes it is amusing to stand just outside the fence and watch the proceedings which the players take very seriously.  I did not tarry today.

I passed by a lady who was checking her smart phone while her pup rested in its carriage.

I walked past the edge of the Sheep Meadow with those tall buildings at just south of the Park providing architectural accents to nature.

I passed by some morning glory flowers that were observing that it was still morning.

As my walk grew closer to Fifth Avenue I paused to have a long look at the beautiful American Elms.  These trees are an endangered species and are fenced off from any contagion that people might bring to them.

Here is another view of the elms.

And here is a close up view of a sculptural tree trunk.

This canine statue has been pleasing passersby for many, many years.

And then I reached Fifth Avenue, crossing over to the western side of Fifth, so that I would have the Park as the backdrop to the photographs that I wanted to take to show you.

Tomorrow is an October Monday that the States choose to celebrate Columbus Day as a national holiday.  There is a huge Italian Columbus Day Parade. I will be working tomorrow.  I was delighted not to be working today, because it is the day of the Hispanic Columbus Day Parade, honoring the country that funded Columbus's exploration.

Today's parade features contingents from Spain and also from Central and South American countries that use the Spanish language.  The Grand Marshall of the parade, a Colombian beauty who is seen wearing a camel colored coat in the following photograph, is also known as Miss Universe.

I was surprised and impressed that she was actually walking the parade route, rather than sitting in some sort of vehicle.  There were many other dignitaries walking along the route, before the musicians and dancers appeared.

 It was good to be patient.

At last we were treated to hours of entertainment by representatives of many countries dressed in traditional costumes, or in very glamorous versions of traditional costumes.

These groups moved along at a quick pace, following the tempo of music that was furnished either by loud amplified sound trucks or by live musicians.

There were quite a few floats that were sponsored by media companies of community organizations.

The Spanish delegation had bagpipers, who were wearing interesting hats.

As the afternoon continued, I saw many hats.

Flags from many parts of the Americas waved in the breeze.

This rather ordinary vehicle was transformed by being decorated by items identified with a particular country.

And perhaps this fellow is an alpaca?

Could this lady be an angel?

This dancer could seem menacing if he was not dressed so elegantly.

The parade route was a bit over a mile long.  I wonder how these folks managed to keep up their energetic performances.

Some of you might remember seeing some of these groups in my reporting of the Dance Parade last spring.

Beautifully bright colors looked great in the sunlight.

 Most of the participating groups were made of performers of many ages.  I enjoyed seeing the combination of generations.

I wonder how many hours they practice for this event.

At the right edge of this photograph, you will see a young police officer who never left his post during the parade.  Every so often I was also aware of a police officer walking a dog around the edges of the avenue.  Presumably the dog was there to sniff for dangerous items.

In the following photograph you will notice blue clad gentlemen following the bright pink clad ladies. The gents wore showy boots with bells on the spurs.

Although Miss Universe walked, other local beauty queens got to ride.

I like those hats and the ladies' intricately braided hair.

Here we have sparkly costumes with lavender feathered hats.

What a lovely smile on this lady who came over to quickly chat with someone standing next to me.

Tiny hats and tiny skirts.

Back lit green feathers keeping to the beat.

The fan-shaped headdresses on these dangers were fantastic.

Many different physiques were on display.

More of those headdresses.

This couple were amazing dancers.

In the following photograph, you all will notice a bystander on the left wearing a tiny hat.  He was very funny and had a collection of flags representing the various participants.  When Colombia passed by, he waved the flag of Colombia.  When Ecuador danced by, he waved the Ecuador flag, and so forth.  

I saw many, many twirly swirly skirts.

This vehicle represented Cuba.  It is possible that this was Cuba's first parade appearance.

A butterfly landed nearby.

This performer with the parasol was great entertainment.  Twas a man in that dress.

Still more color schemes.

What a profile.

This character was able to crack a whip.

Here's a beauty riding on a car's sun roof.

Powerful sunlight heats up the afternoon.

Ecuador was well represented.

I tilted my camera angle to capture these dancers.

I cannot remember which country these group represented.

This flag was a variation of our Stars and Stripes, with miniature images of the Hispanic countries' seals in place of the Stars.

Full house on this float...folks of all ages having a fine time.

I thought I'd show you another view of the sidelines, where the young police officer was still keeping an eye on everything.

The hats, white shirts and blue kerchiefs look very smart.

Tilting again.

One final parade view, showing another float that wanted to embrace a global theme.  

Although the parade's route was not too long, closing Fifth Avenue to other vehicular traffic really created lots of traffic jams.  My crosstown bus ride home took a very long time, but I was very glad to be sitting down!

I wanted to close this post with some close up views of some pretty plantings I saw outside an elegant apartment building

A few weeks ago, I watched a lady gardener at work here, and really liked her sense of style.

Hoping that you enjoy seeing the results of her work.

Fun to see what a bit of imagination can do.

 One last tree view.  Isn't the sunlight pretty behind the leaves of these trees on the grounds of The Museum of Natural History?

I'm hoping this long post wasn't exhausting.  It was such a great afternoon, I couldn't resist taking lots and lots of photographs, and have actually only shown you all a fraction.

As always, I appreciate your visits and comments.  Happy Columbus Day!