Wednesday, January 18, 2017

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Halfway through January, we seem to have been embraced by a collection of grey rainy days.  It's good to find strategies to uplift our spirits.

I actually prefer a light snowfall to a lingering span of rainy days.

Coping strategies can involve homemade soups, sampling various teas from an elegant tea chest Christmas gift, reading, and knitting.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my first Vogue Knitting Magazine Live event.  My own pre-retirement work schedules had prevented my attending these events in prior years.  The magazine sponsors such events in various parts of this country, so they are not just for New York area knitters.  

It was quite interesting to have a look at the various stands and see lots of beautiful yarns, and lots of very enthusiastic knitters.  The Shetland Wool Week stand was my absolute favorite.  Do click on the link in the prior sentence to find out more about that Week.  How I would love to visit Shetland this fall!  

Another treat was being able to tour the Vogue Knitting Magazine event along with a lovely lady visiting from California.  Many of you all might be familiar with lori times five's Instagram page?  If not, click on that link to acquaint yourself with a special person.

Because I reminded myself of just how much yarn I already had at home, I was able to resist making any purchases, but will share a couple of photographs I took.

Yesterday, my friend Elizabeth and I took a walk through rainy Central Park, over to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a few exhibits and have lunch.  It was interesting to discover some unusual decorations around the Museum's Great Hall and grand staircase.

Although we were not permitted to walk upon it. a very large, floral patterned carpet had been laid upon those stairs.  Around the Great Hall could be glimpsed large hedges of faux boxwood.  The information desk was being transformed into a pergola.

When I asked a security guard if a party was taking place later, I was told that the special decorations were for filming that would be taking place.  He was not able to divulge the identity of the film.  I'll see if more information becomes available as time goes on.

It was pleasant to see the spring flowers blooming on the carpet, but we eventually retrieved our coats and umbrellas, left the Met and walked a little ways down Fifth Avenue, until Elizabeth boarded a downtown bus, and I walked back home across the Park.

Even on a sort of gloomy day, there was still much to attract my eyes.

Bare branches are like delicate ink drawings.  The well worn sidewalk patterns could inspire lots of knitting.

There were some touches of green to be seen, and I also saw some rather spindly-looking snowdrops over in the Strawberry Fields area.

Elizabeth and I saw none of the usual crowds either in the Park or in the Met.

Back home, warmer and drier, I took a few more photographs of the scarf I've recently completed.  I thought of it as a sort of sampler of various fair isle motifs scattered over a neutral background.  The motifs were knit from wool; the background yarn is a blend of wool, linen and alpaca.

Another view.

And another.

And, just for fun, here's that scarf again, along with the socks I'm now working on, spread across my knitted patchwork blanket, made many years ago, but oh so welcome during the winter months.

Somehow I like the look of the mish mosh of colors and patterns.

There is a lot going on this week, besides what I've reported here.  I elected to keep this a low key mid-January city view.  Thanks to you all for your visits and comments on my New Year's post.  Whether or not those black-eyed peas are giving me extra good luck, I feel very fortunate to be part of a warm blogging community.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on New Year's Day, 2017.

Yesterday I posted this photograph on my Instagram page.

It was a light hearted illustration of my jar of what remained of the dried black eyed peas that I bought a year ago.  While growing up in Virginia, I was made aware of the strong tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day in order to bring luck for the rest of the year.

In the last week of 2016, I experienced several appliance finales.  My old hair dryer stopped working.  My five-year old printer decided that five years were enough.  I felt as if the black eyed peas I'd prepared and consumed on the first day of 2016 might be losing their power.

I've bought new appliances that seem to be working just fine.

This afternoon, as I was beginning to cook some of the dried peas from the pictured jar, I also began putting away the baubles I'd chosen to decorate my apartment for the week of Christmas, including that chain of golden stars draped around the pea jar.

I was listening, via my laptop, to three hours of BBC Radio 4 vintage Sherlock Holmes broadcasts.  All was going well.

I finished carefully putting the Christmas ornaments away in their anointed place on a top shelf in one of my two closets.  The 2017 black eyed pea concoction, seasoned in Near Eastern style, was just about ready to eat.  The Sherlock Holmes tribute was over.

I poured a glad of Merlot, served up my lucky supper, and returned to John le Carre's The Pigeon Tunnel, my current book of choice.  

Dinner tasted very good.  My reading was transporting me to Moscow.  And then, I heard several popping sounds from the next room.  Going to investigate, I saw that two boxes of my carefully stowed beloved Christmas baubles had escaped their perch on that top shelf.  Some had burst into glittering glass fragments on impact, but others seemed to be unharmed.

My lucky black eyed pea supper was interrupted so that I could clear up the mess around the folding door to the closet and see how many baubles had survived.

Like spreading spilt milk, the initial view of the broken glass was more alarming that what closer investigation showed.  I tried to be like Sherlock in my calm investigations, while mourning the loss of some irreplaceable ornaments.  I got out my broom and swept the affected floor space.

I repacked the baubles and returned them to a more secure perch on their shelf.  Back to the lucky peas and the le Carre memoir.  

In just over an hour, I'll be able to view the the new television Sherlock Thatcher episode that those of you all across the Atlantic have already seen.  Tomorrow will be another day, with or without additional luck.

Thank you all for your visits and comments here throughout 2016.  It's now so difficult to know where the wind will be blowing in the coming year.  I look forward to trading comments with you all, and enjoying stretching my horizons via blog land.

Friday, December 23, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York, just a few days before Christmas.

Even though I had planned on another post about my London visit, the recent days have been filled with New York City centered fun, and so I will just jump ahead and share some local city views.

Let's start with photographs from some neighborhood shops.  The above picture is from a gift/antique shop that always features lots of tree decorations.

The following two pictures are of scenes in a dry cleaner's shop window.  The proprietors of this shop seem to have a large collection of retro toys and doll house accessories that can be combined to create rather amusing retro settings.

These window displays are at child eye level.

A bit further down Amsterdam Avenue is Posies, a lovely flower shop that is always worth a visit during various holiday seasons.

It's a tiny narrow hallway of a shop, filled with beautiful botanical treats.  The talented staff are experts in making up lovely bouquets for special occasions.

These are just a few samples of what I saw in the shop.

What I bought to bring home to add some seasonal color to my little apartment were these red-berried branches.  Peeking out from behind the berries is a large bowl filled with old glass ornaments.  In some past years, I have bought some branches of greenery upon which to hang these baubles.  This year I will stick with the berries.

The past few weeks have sped past, as I kept quite busy baking cookies, knitting gifts, buying other gifts, wrapping and mailing those gifts, going to parties, and painting this year's Christmas tea cup cards.

And so, it was not until a day ago that I found time to walk over to 57th Street to take photographs of some extravagant shop windows.  Following the horror at Berlin's Christmas market, I spotted a massive police presence around a similar Christmas market set up at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park.  I did not take any photographs of the massive uniformed police officers holding machine guns.  I was not tempted to visit any of the market stalls, but kept walking towards 57th Street.

Even along that street Police Department barricades appeared alongside festive decorations.  What a sad comment.

The above photograph shows the Fifth Avenue and 57th Street intersection where Tiffany's faces Bulgari.  An obliging yellow taxi obliged me by passing by.  I composed this picture to minimize any view of the home of the President Elect.

Now, I will show you a selection of pictures of the Bergdorf Goodman shop's windows.  Even though it was nearing sunset, I am sorry that reflections add a certain distraction from what I truly wanted you all to see.

The theme of this year's window designs is Extraordinary Destinations.  Each tableau features at least one major designer's fashions plus a collection of fanciful props.

I think that if you click on the photographs to enlarge them, you may be able to discover more of the window's details.

The above little box of a window merely settled for showing off some amazing jewels.

Please forgive me for those reflections.

Some of the fun of seeing these windows is noticing how scale is handled in a playful way.  Some usually small items are greatly enlarged, or perhaps encrusted with sparkles, or given a new color scheme.

I remember that the following window was called The Hitchhiker and featured a very glamorous cowgirl.

Lots of desert plants showed off a galaxy of greens.

Another view.

I think this window was called A Bird's Eye View.  Lots of birds surrounded the mannequin.

Lots of huge insects in this window...not sure how appealing that would be to every viewer.

The next picture shows a window that had an undersea layer.

 Lots to look at.

This very green tableau featured a tropical rain forest.

It took some patience on my part to wait for the other folks viewing the displays to allow me a closer view of my own.

Bergdorf's windows are without question the best in NYC throughout the year, but in December the shop's OTT displays really stop pedestrian traffic.

Another view of A Bird's Eye View.

Each window has an intricate frame.

Back to that rain forest.

I hope that the above photographs give you all a bit of an idea of what one might see this week in New York.  I thank you all for your visits to my blogs throughout the year, and looks forward to reading your comments in the New Year that will soon be arriving.

And now, let me share wish you the image that I painted for this year's Christmas tea cup cards.

As you can see from the above photograph, each one of the cards is painted individually, and so no two cards are quite identical.

It is my pleasure to wish you all a very Happy Christmas!  This wish is sent with lots of love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

A week ago, I was in London, having had a day trip to Cambridge, where I had the pleasure of meeting up with Gina, to see the fabulous Colour exhibit at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The main staircase of the Fitz is rather splendid.

After being wowed by viewing Colour, we were joined by Celia and had a walk through Cambridge and a delicious lunch and another walk around Cambridge before I returned to London on an express train.

My Cambridge jaunt was my only time spent away from London.  My trip was all to short, and I definitely want to be able to take a longer UK visit next year.

Without further ado, let me share some of the photographs that I took with my iPhone.  Some of these might be among those I've already posted on Instagram.  Some will be fresh posts.

This carousel, complete with picket fence, has been set up next to an ice skating rink on the grounds of London's Museum of Natural History.  During most of my London stay, the weather was warm and sunny, and so the ice rink was not too icy.

This street scene was the view from my hotel window.

The next photo is one of Liberty's Christmas windows inspired by the Nutcracker ballet.

The flower stall at the Liberty entrance is always a pleasure to see.

Another sort of botanical inspiration could be seen suspended over Covent Garden's arcades.  I've never seen larger mistletoe!

Not too far away from Covent Garden is the Bloomsbury area.  On Lamb's Conduit Street may be found the charming Persephone Books shop.  I was fortunate to be in town on the day that Persephone held its annual Christmas open house, complete with mulled wine and mince pies.  In the following photograph you can see that the tray of mince pies was just about to be refilled.

Many of you all may already know of Persephone Books.  I'd encourage those of you who are not familiar with the publishing house or shop to have a look at the link I've provided above.

AS I left the book shop, I encountered a very sweet group of young carolers.  There is a video of this group over on my Instagram page.

I've been to London many times over the decades, and so each trip gives me many past memories against which to measure the new visit.  Tricia Guild's Design Guild shop on King's Road in Chelsea is always fun to visit.  Nowadays, I rarely buy anything, because my tiny apartment is already full.  I just like to see what is on display in London.

Over on the Hackney Road, I visited another friend, Barn the Spoon, who carves beautiful spoons from wood that has been rescued and recovered from various British wooded areas.  His shop is open only a few days each week, but it's great fun to stop by and see what he has been carving.

Another day, I rode the Tube up to the Angel station in Islington to visit Loop, an extraordinary yarn shop.  It is very difficult for a knitter like myself to leave this shop without buying something.

Only a few days after my visit, Loop and many surrounding shops along Camden Passage were flooded after a large water main's bursting.  Repairs are still ongoing, but the shop has found a way to keep going with its inspiring ways.

My hotel was located near the truly marvelous Victoria & Albert Museum, and I visited there many times, to looks at the galleries, the shops, the special exhibits and to dine in the Museum's restaurant.

Other galleries that I loved visiting were the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern.  There is an excellent Paul Nash exhibit at the Tate Britain.  Having read Pat Barker's trilogy about Slade School art students before and during WW I made a foundation upon which to view the Nash show.

The photo below was taken in the Tate Modern's rooms devoted to Louise Bourgeois.

Sunny blue skies appeared throughout my time in London, and it was fun to take a peek from the roof terrace of the Tate across the Thames to see that sharp Shard.

It was also a fine day to walk across the Millennium Bridge to have a close up view of St. Paul's.

And the pretty leaves on the green lawns around St. Paul's.

I very much enjoyed the Revolution exhibit at the V&A.  It chronicles lots of the changes that the western world was going through during my young adult years.  One is given headphones to wear when visiting the show, that key into the imagery of various displays that you will encounter.  

I found the exhibit quite an emotional tour, and within minutes of entering the first room was not sure whether I was going to laugh or cry.  Many memories arose during the hours I spent walking through the show.  If you all are of a certain age, I would definitely recommend it.  If you are younger, I would also recommend it.  

Visiting this exhibit so soon after the recent election in the States gave an additional resonance.

 My hotel was decorated for the season, and I wanted to take at least one photograph to convey the decor.  It was fun to recognize many staff members whom I first encountered quite a few years ago.

I'm always struck by the number of green spaces that one encounters around London.  I should have taken more photographs.

Here are a few photographs of the witty windows at Fortnum & Mason.  This is a Bull in a China Shop.

This window features many, many Santa letters that have arrived at the North Pole.

More greenery.

I noticed this florist shop as I was walking downhill on Kensington Church Street.  It reminded me that I would be late in starting my own paper white bulbs upon my return to NYC.

Royal Albert Hall and ice cream van still exist.

Albert Memorial with clouds.

Windswept cloud formations over South Kensington.

Now I am home, quite over my jet lag.  It is time for attending Holiday parties as we call them here in New York.  My Santa's workshop activities are at top pitch.  I am already looking forward to my next UK visit.

Thank you all for you visits and comments to that previous post about the Gingerbread City.  I've already baked one batch of brown sugar star-shaped buttery cookies.  Christmas is drawing closer.