Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day - Bella New Jersey

I waited for the Seastreak at the Wall Street pier in Manhattan with a bunch of other folks. I was warned by the helpful ticketeer that the ferry would sell out, so I took the opportunity to take a picture of the helipad as I slowly roasted in the hot sun:

The belle of the ball, 8 months old. She has amazing eyes, a phenomenal blue-gray:

I had lunch with my friends, then skated along Route 36 (?!) - not as lovely as Sandy Hook, but definitely less mobbed. I was more or less able to keep up with my friend because she was pushing a stroller.

While waiting for the ferry in Highlands, I watched some kites:

A beautiful, sunny day all round except for the small rainstorm on the return trip.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

I was planning to spend large chunks of time this weekend sketching out ideas for an article, but so far I've been getting sidetracked with last-minute invitations to spend time with folks I've not seen for a while. And even talking to strangers now and then -- what a concept. Hmmm. At least I still have two days left. Although, realistically, it looks I'll have only half a day free at most now. Maybe that's enough, it just won't unfold the way I imagined. It always comes down to a question of priorities: What do I most want to do, and what can I jettison to make room for that?

I remember the one spring break trip I took in college. It was not to Cancun or Daytona Beach, but to a beach house on Long Beach Island, NJ. I spent a week in idyllic surroundings -- a house literally on the beach, just beautiful in the off-season with the sound of waves giving me the sense of home -- and worked on my resume and job applications. It was so amazingly productive and deeply fulfilling. Just me. No distractions. I remember setting up at least one interview during that week, and I bought my first suit on the way to that interview. Off the rack, of course, but it looked tailor made for me. I bonded well with the interviewers too, chatting easily about this and that.

Today, I helped a friend move from Harlem to Brooklyn, where he will stay for 4 months until he is unceremoniously booted (his new roommate, a mutual friend, is getting married in September and -- oddly -- does not want to continue to rent out the spare room thereafter). My friend has a lot of stuff, although he swears it all fits into a 10'x10' room. I'm not one to throw stones, since I've certainly grown into my 850 square foot apartment. And yet for most purposes, I've started to realize I could live in my living room. (In fact, I did the other night after I stirred up all the dust in my bedroom with a fan on full blast and awoke with my throat almost completely closed up.) So technically, that means a studio could work for me. When I have people over -- and especially guests who stay for a weekend or longer -- the apartment seems just the right size. But that's not my everyday need. So I could conceivably live in a Manhattan studio and, if I pick the right neighborhood, minimize all my transportation time. But it's hard to justify throwing money down the drain for rent, especially at Manhattan prices. And what to do with my apartment? Renovate and sell it? Keep it as my country home for weekends away? Keep it as a backup for when I get tired of shelling out a third (or more) of my salary for rent? All the more reason to spend some time writing and reflecting this weekend as originally planned. In the mean time, I continue to stay put.

Then again, there are some subtle things I can do right now to improve my life, and I think they will have a big impact. I'll start the experiment tomorrow in a spirit of scientific inquiry. Should be interesting.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our Town

I was in a school performance of "Our Town" probably back in 9th grade, when we lived in Belgium. I played the hero's little sister, despite my efforts to win a more important part. (The director diplomatically praised the "mature and sophisticated" voice I was using, in vain, to thwart the inevitable casting based on physical appearance, and then asked me to use a voice more suited to the part he was going to give me.) I remember pretty much word for word the breakfast scene which was my claim to fame -- including another student's suggestion for an X-rated change to my last line in the scene (Thornton's words: "Mama, do you know what I love best in the world, do you? Money.").

And I remember literally nothing else of the play, including the second scene in which "my" character appears. I am quite sure I never saw the play before or since, until last night.

One of the many things I did not remember about the play was that it was set in New Hampshire. I'd been to Vermont as a kid, but not New Hampshire, so it wouldn't have meant much to me. I've learned about New Hampshire since. Probably my introduction was when I lived in Boston. I went up to Franconia Notch for a hiking/backpacking trip with some friends before law school, then went on maybe 2-3 hiking trips to Mt. Monadnock during law school with folks from my dorm. Now my connections with the state seem to deepen every year, as my parents have lived in New Hampshire for 7+ years, my brother married into a family with strong New Hampshire ties, and in fact he and his family are themselves planning to move to New Hampshire soon.

So last night, watching Our Town at the Barrow Theatre in Manhattan, it was all I could to sit with a big grin instead of standing up and cheering whenever they mentioned names of places I know in New Hampshire: Lake Winnipesaukee, Conway, North Conway, Petersborough, Mount Monadnock....

I found the play very moving, and it's probably just as well that I didn't see it until now. The themes of love and loss and hope resonate more deeply now than they would have back in the day. One of the things that was particularly powerful about this particular production was the contrast between the starkly simple set most of the time (bare-bones with the bones showing, and most details simply mimed under bare bulbs) and the highly realistic, warm and inviting day that Emily Webb Gibbs goes back to relive before settling down to her death. They pulled out all the stops, providing that scene with everything from bright, full-spectrum light through snow-flecked windows, up to and including the sizzle and smell of bacon being fried up. All to bring home the message of Love one another & live fully in the moment. Yes, that's about right.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BBG & My Garden

It was great to walk through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my mom, because she knows the names of most of the plants! Otherwise, the signs can be a bit haphazard at times (sometimes a sign is ambiguously placed near several plants; you have to know what you're looking for).

I was struck by the Holstein-style black spots of the foxglove:

This was one of my favorite roses, just lovely color:

These may be "siberian" irises. There were also some smaller water-loving irises which were very delicately marked, but the pictures didn't come as well:

About as lush as it gets, a very soft color for the petals:

I'd planted lavender, basil and parsley in my window box at one time, but they only lasted for a season and were long gone. But to my surprise, my mom brought some violas with her as a housegift - and planted them for me!! (Using a spoon, for alas I had no trowel -- but a true gardener can make do with inferior tools, it seems.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Curses, foiled again!

I re-arranged my work schedule to take 3 hours off for lunch to see a friend I hadn't seen in, oh, probably 6 years, and lugged my camera all the way to midtown for the occasion (not that it's all that heavy, but still). It was great to catch up -- lots of ups and downs in the interim, some unfortunate downs made way for some very significant ups!!! -- but I completely forgot to take a picture. Go figure.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

BBG - Bluebells

Is My Life Too Small?

I noticed last year that my life was getting smaller (narrower in scope, if you will) to match Z's life; by comparison with him, my life is indeed varied and deep. But it's not really what it could be. I've noticed some signs recently of this -- the most unexpected was when I asked someone at my bank to notarize a document for me, and she challenged me to tell her what I was going to do with my money. What were my plans for it? This line of thinking can be applied to virtually every area of my life. I'm not taking full advantage of anything here in New York, at the moment. Of course, as we've seen, with some irony, in Lem's Cyberiad, omnipotence is most omnipotent when it does nothing at all. But in real life with our limited powers and resources, possibilities and potentials wither and fail, forever foreclosed, if they are not seized. Doing nothing does not keep all the doors of possibility open; they will close of their own accord over time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Long Beach Island Redux

My first trip to Long Beach Island in many years. Although I used to rollerblade from Brant Beach to the north end of the island and back, I'd never stopped to explore Harvey Cedars. So it was in some sense a new part of the island for me.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Arts and Transportation

The well-known Stages of Girl:

Artist at work...

...and at rest:

What's news when dinosaurs rule the world? Red T-rex rendered with yellow eyes, waistcoat and toenails; black spots (a la Holstein); and a blue spine with white polka dots:

This brontosaurus, though a clean green on reverse, is showing off the haute couture Dot within Dot collection. Blue dots on the dinosaur's right side (facing the camera) feature red dots, echoing the red background. White legs feature black ovals with white ovals within. A blue neck is adorned with red dots. A yellow head this season is not complete without a green top and green eyes:

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Birthday Games

No "pin the tail on the donkey" for this crowd!

We chase dogs...

...hang on the railings...

...and, if we're really strong, we climb up and down the rails:

Leading with the right leg:

Or leading with the left:

They are both simply amazing.

Now We Are 6

Or at least, some of us are!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day

I had just enough time to meet some friends in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden before heading off to New Jersey for a wedding. The lilacs have faded, and the roses aren't out yet, but these purple flowers were nice:

The circle of deep purple pansies at the entrance attracted attention:

If you look carefully, you may notice a girl in costume on the other side of the circle. Yes, a lot of people showed up in full cosplay splendor (wigs included) for sakura matsuri. But there was, ironically, no sign of sakura anywhere - the trees were completely green. I was really lucky to catch the cherry blossoms at their height two weeks ago.

The wedding was lovely:

Getting ready for the wedding was a bit of an adventure. I wasn't sure what to wear to an afternoon wedding. I was thinking of a black cocktail dress (elegant and sophisticated) but was worried it might be improperly somber. My other alternative was a silk dress in peach, but it just seemed a little too bridesmaid-y for that time of day. With 10 minutes left to go, I ended up calling my mom for fashion advice. She wasn't home, so my dad gave me advice: Eschew black. I still wasn't sure about the peach, so I tried on a turquoise dress I'd bought 7 years before and had never dared to wear. (I'd brought it as an alternative once to a wedding I went to with S, but he said -- impatiently and apathetically, without looking at the alternatives -- that the first dress I'd put on was fine.) I almost thought it would work, but it seemed awfully daring (form-fitting) and so I asked my neighbors whether it was OK. They were encouraging.

So I set off for the subway. About a 20-minute walk in high heels, but I knew I'd be meeting a friend at my destination and driving the rest of the way. I arrived at the meeting place 8 minutes early, and called my driver friend to confirm location and let her know I was there. All was well. Another passenger friend showed up. We waited. A third passenger showed up. We waited. And waited. No sign of our driver or the fourth passenger. Finally we checked our voicemails and found that we had missed several calls from our driver. She asked us to meet her one block away and she'd explain. We walked over... and found her on the phone with the police, next to her vandalized car. She wasn't going to the wedding.

We three passengers gave her hugs and then conferred. How were we to get to the wedding? Hire a cab? No, said Passenger 3, it's much better - faster and more reliable - to go by public transportation. So we walked another 5 blocks to the subway. Took the subway up 150 blocks north. It was running local. One stop short of our target (the GW Bridge), everyone else exited the train. As the doors closed, I got very nervous. Sure enough, we weren't going anywhere. Luckily, an MTA employee came by and let us out with just a small scolding.

Some near-misses too with the subsequent transfer to the bus and then to the taxi -- but the story has a happy ending. We arrived at the church about 3 minutes before the ceremony began!!! And our missing fourth passenger made it too! She ended up taking a taxi the whole way, which was about $40 before tolls and tip.

An evening of joyful celebration and dancing ensued.