Monday, August 21, 2017

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

Later today we will be able to witness some of the effects of the solar eclipse.  Before that happens, I will keep my promise to myself and catch up on blogging.

Since I last posted, many terrible things have happened around the world.  There is much to concern us, to anger us and perhaps, to encourage us to involve ourselves positively in our shared world.

It has also been a time traditionally devoted to holidays, a time when school children are not required to spend days in classrooms.  
A time to visit beaches.  The following beach scene is a tableau set up in a neighborhood dry cleaning establishment.  It makes me smile.

In an attempt to not be consumed by bad news, I continue to encourage smiles.  This is what I am currently knitting...a tubular cowl that will eventually be added to my shop Foakley Arts.

I've been reading all sorts of books, from detective stories to serious literature, borrowed from The New York Society Library.  The following photo shows a book I treated myself to purchasing.  It was published to accompany a Winifred Nicholson exhibit that has been touring the UK.  Since I was not able to see the exhibit, I am thoroughly enjoying this marvelous book and recommend it highly.

There are so many wonderful places to visit and things to do in NYC during the summer.  The outdoor places are more pleasant to visit when the weather is not too, too hot and humid.  As many of you all know, Central Park's Shakespeare Garden is a favorite place of mine.

The Garden is currently in its full blown late summer look, quite overgrown and just a bit wild.  I took lots of photos yesterday and will share many of them with you all.

As one wanders along the sloping pathways of the Garden, it's possible to find all sorts of plants.  The Park's gardeners are very talented in their selections.

One of my goals on yesterday's stroll was to keep a lookout for unusual butterflies.  Alas, I saw only a few of very "usual" plain white butterflies.  The good news is that I saw and heard many bees buzzing around the flowers.

I like the rustic look of this Garden, and at this time of the year there are all sorts of interesting seed pods.  It's quite a feast.

Lots of plants had grown very leggy.

A great variety of greens were on display.

In more shadowed areas, I found quieter plantings.

I am hoping to be able to make use of some of these photos as reference for drawings and paintings.

My visit was just about midday, so there was the potential for lots of back lighting from certain angles.

In this shady area, the leaves had a blue tinge.

At the top boundary of the Garden, there was evidence that some garden fauna had been nibbling on the flora.

I liked this back lighting very much.

Here is my final farewell photo as I wandered away from the lovely Shakespeare Garden.  During my visit I encountered only about 30 other folks also enjoying the sights.

On my way home, I stopped by the farmers market, to purchase some wonderful tomatoes and green veg.

Somehow, I resisted purchasing any of the incredible flowers on display at this stand.

The red dahlia in the following photo was the size of a dinner plate.  It was absolutely dazzling!

In the next photo is my homemade contraption that I will be using in a few hours to safely observe the solar eclipse.  I learned how to "construct" it from the website of the Washington Post newspaper.

I am also going to show you all this painting which is my current "rescue" project.  The canvas was abandoned about 17 years ago when it was a rather dark moody abstract.  I've now decided to treat that moody bit as a view from a window.  Work on this painting has been interrupted by continuing very loud street noise from my own open window.

Electrical repairs seem to have been completed.  Now the below ground gas pipes are being replaced.  If you look very carefully at the Completion Date on the sign, you will see the letters ASAP.

I took that photo several weeks ago.  Work continues.

As always, thank you all for your visits and comments.  I am going to try to do better at keeping up with your posts.  Promise.  Admittedly, my Instagram page is competing for my time.

Enjoy the eclipse!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Since my previous blog post, much work has been continuing along my street to repair the damage recently done to the electrical power sources.  The city heat has been oppressive, but the teams of Con Edison workers have nonetheless been working very long hours to complete the massive project.

It is a pleasure to share some pictures that might illustrate the nature of the challenge.

The above photo shows a large tangle of old wires removed during the repair work.  The following photo shows the same tangle, plus an iconic yellow taxi, a parked bike, and also orange traffic cones placed along our stretch of Broadway during the massive repair work being done below street level.

The following picture, looking south on Broadway, indicates what a large section of that avenue has been temporarily removed from vehicular traffic access.  If you look carefully, you will see some of the workers in that crevasse.

On my own street, lots of large vehicles arrive for their part in the process and then depart, their places to be filled my other large vehicles and equipment.  It is quite an operation.

The workers are very professional and keep their various "work stations" very tidy and safe.

In this closer view of the same team, you can tell that one of the men is working below ground.  The temperature above ground is 90 F.

Plywood protective boxes have been constructed to keep non-professionals from getting too close to the open man holes.

A close look at the next photo will show you that there are many such "purpose built crates" along the street.  Everything is progressing steadily, carefully and surely towards a successful completion.  

Just to switch up the photographs a bit, I wanted to share this bouquet that I saw at yesterday's Union Square farmers market.  I have given the address of this blog page to some of the electrical rescue teams, and hope that they will see the flowers as a thank you for all their hard work.

I also thank you all who have visited and commented on my immediately previous post.  Together, these two posts show some different city views from those that I often share.  It's all part of NYC!

Monday, July 17, 2017

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

Hot weather settled in here in the past week, and along with the humidity, some other challenges occurred in my neighborhood.

Last Thursday afternoon, as I was washing my brushes after some hours of working on my current painting, I noticed that the electric lights were flickering and that my fan's rotating blades were slowing down.  

I suspected an electrical "brown out" which sometimes is put into place by Consolidated Edison, the electrical utility, to protect the electrical grid from an actual brownout. I clicked on a local TV station's 5 o'clock news and learned that some vast thunderstorms were in nearby areas, but would probably pass the City by.  No mention of a brownout.

I switched out the TV, shut down my computer, and then the lights went out and my fan stopped.

As sunset was still come hours away, I decided that I'd better fix a  quick pasta supper in my tiny kitchen, making use of my gas stove and my two flashlights and that's what I did.

Next on the pre-sundown agenda was to walk downstairs to see what was going on at street level.  The elevators were shut down, but dimmed lighting was still on in the hallways and stairwells.  I wanted to also buy some additional "D" batteries for my large flashlight.

It was when I reached the lobby that I discovered that my half of the block was roped off to any vehicular traffic and that many (perhaps over a hundred) folks from the City Fire Department, Police Department and Con Edison were hard at work putting out a very smoky fire that had been caused by underground electrical explosions.  It was an amazing sight to see what was happening at the Broadway corner.  Even the subway station and trains were affected.

I walked in the opposite direction to find a shop and buy my batteries, then came home, chatted awhile with fellow tenants and apartment building staff and even a few firemen, then walked up the stairs to my apartment, had a wash, and went to bed.

The fire was put out overnight and massive Con Edison work has since continued to restore electricity and repair and replace damaged equipment.

These are just a few photographs from my front window showing a bit of the work and equipment.

In the photo below, you might be able to make out the giant elevated "vacuum cleaner" that was being lowered into the man hole in order to draw out all sorts of trouble-making debris.  While this was going on, other Con Edison workers were using hoses to flush out the area.  This process was being repeated all along the block.

I'm glad to report that my apartment's electrical power was restored by 10 on Friday morning.  Other large building residents and businesses in the immediate area were not so fortunate, and had to rely on generators provided by the city.  This was, and still is, a huge repair job.  It is amazing to see how many stages are involved.  I truly admire the workers' skill and dedication.  

I wanted to take more photos, but did not want to get in the way of the amazing teams of workers.

I have returned to working on my current "rescued" painting that I abandoned about 25 years ago.  I am thoroughly enjoying this process.

It's also grand to have my trusty little fan back in service.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  I have been continuing to post more regularly over on by Instagram page which may be found here.  Now it is time for me to return to work on that painting.  It's almost, but not quite, done.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

As the end of June grows closer, and summer's heat and humidity have indeed arrived in New York, I admit to having become an even lazier blogger.  Before July actually shows up, I'm determined to show you all some city views.

My favorite NYC farmers market is the one in Union Square, and it has finally come into its glorious summertime bounty.  Flowers and produce displays grow more marvelous every week.

Another June feature is rain, even thunderstorms.  Sometimes the downpours coincide with farmers market days, and keep me indoors.  Sometimes the weather is perfect, just like the strawberries in the following photo.

On rare cooler days, I continue to work on a current knitting project, a tubular fair isle cowl destined for eventual inclusion in my shop.  The colors are cooling, even if the wool yarn is not!

Something else that has been taking my waking time is my recent return to oil painting after a sixteen year break.  I have begun trying to rescue a painting I abandoned back then.  Within the first few hours of sitting at my old easel, I realized how much I have missed painting.

Pleasant weather has also added opportunities to get together with friends.  There have been lots of lunches and museum visits and walks in Central Park. 

I've been reading quite a bit, and would recommend two recently finished novels, Transit by Rachel Cusk and Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves.  Keeping up with constantly changing current events and writing and calling my elected government representatives has also been a regular activity. 

There have been lots of walks around my West Side neighborhood.  My smart phone keeps track of my walking mileage, and I am sometimes surprised to discover how many miles I have walked!  Always wearing sunscreen, as I dutifully follow the advice of my excellent dermatologist.  A recent semi-annual skin cancer check up received the "your skin looks fine" verdict and I rejoiced.

On Sundays, another farmers market takes place along the Columbus Avenue sidewalk behind the Museum of Natural History.  It's a short walk for me, and a fine alternative to the much larger Union Square market that requires a subway ride.

Delicious tomatoes have finally appeared.  Cauliflower looks grand, too.  Actually, just about all the summer produce is now on display.  Cherries, zucchini, varieties of peas and beans, lettuces...the works!

On a recent hot Sunday afternoon walk home from the farmers market, I encountered a sweet little kitty who wandered onto the hot sidewalk in front of its home, offering me a warm greeting.  

However, realizing just how hot that concrete sidewalk was, the little kitty gracefully retreated toward a shadier spot.

On another sunny afternoon, I left my oil painting, to take a walk around the neighborhood, and passed by Lincoln Center, discovering this rather wonderful oversized ballerina sculpture had been installed in Dante Park.

The sculptor (whose name I did not discover) clearly was having fun with inspiration from Degas.  This ballerina seemed to be wishing she could be on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, along with the American Ballet Theater company.

Or was she perhaps gazing at the ice cream truck parked right in front of the Lincoln Center Plaza?

One late afternoon this past week, NYC's commuting home hour was also the time for a series of very fierce storms to pass through the metropolitan area.  Lots and lots of strong rain and wind.  The following morning was a gorgeous sight as I walked across Central Park to meet a friend at the Met Museum.  After viewing a very interesting exhibit of ancient Chinese art, we had lunch at a Park cafe terrace and then walked a bit.  That was when I saw the above scene.  One of the grand old willow trees by the Lake had toppled over during the storm.  It will be interesting to discover how the Parks Department will handle this fallen beauty.

I am hoping that this long overdue blog post will give you all an idea of what else has been going on around here.  I will leave you all with this view of the progress that I have been making on rescuing my old painting.  I think it is almost done, but want to let it rest for a while.  (Hot summer days can also encourage painters to take naps!)

As always, thank you all for your visits and lovely comments.  I realize that I owe you all many visits and will be trying to catch up with commenting on your summer posts.