Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ghouls and Gourds and Pukk

After a good sermon today (sermon title: "Spit"), I picked up some stuff from the container store and then headed home. Before I could unpack or install the stuff, I got a very strong urge to go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. After reflecting for about 30 milliseconds, I called Diane to see if she'd like to meet me there in 45 minutes, checked that the place would still be open when we got there, and headed off to Brooklyn.

It was one of those amazingly right decisions. We stumbled on their annual fall festival for families. There was great fiddle music on the main lawn:

And everywhere, kids in adorable costumes. I loved this interracial grouping: a Dragon, Supergirl, and a Candy Corn:

As the fiddling concert ended, we saw that a band called Slavic Soul Party was playing at the other end of the green. So we started making our way over to see them.

We missed most of the crafts, but we saw their pumpkin & gourd artwork:

LOVE the tiger outfit with the ginger hair. Too cute!

They had a book barn, with painted animal reader scenes. The horse here is reading "Animal Farm":

While the pig is reading "Brick House Building":

Slavic Soul Party was so much fun! They had the whole crowd bopping and jumping. We ran into several people that Diane knew, and one of them mentioned that this band plays every Tuesday at a local club. I'll have to check it out.

In this picture, I was trying to capture the kid being hugged by the green spider (he was also carrying a bucket of eyeballs, how cute is that?!) but I really liked the protective gesture of the older sister here:

Holy cow!

Once this concert wrapped up, we continued our exploration. Some lovely gourds:

A few chickens were loose, but they didn't seem to be causing much trouble:

But we didn't get far before the sound of drums and the sight of pageantry brought us right back to the main lawn. Sargent Pepper led the Halloween parade:

He was followed by folks on stilts:

It made me think of a medieval religious procession:

Except with giant puppet costumes:

I think this is the kid of Diane's friends:

Water lilies:

The pageant from another angle:

A gloriously uplifting and fun afternoon. Just what the doctor ordered!

After this, I met up with U-chan and Hika-chan for dinner... and Len and her boyfriend Mike were able to make it too! We went to Pukk, a Thai restaurant which turns out to be 100% pure vegetarian. Including the chicken and duck.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brooklyn Weekend

I visited the old homestead today and was shocked to see how it has already been transformed in just 3 weeks. Yes, you can tell a guy is living there now. I was surprised, since my decorating style is fairly simple (no fussy frills for me) and I don't think of this style as stereotypically feminine. I tried not to freak out about anything -- and I can't help thinking this is exactly what I need to help purge the ghost of Z from the place.

In the evening, I went to an unfamiliar section of Park Slope for my friends' house-roasting party. I had typed in their address into hopstop and printed out the directions. I was dressed up a little (but not too much) had my bottle of wine and a small housewarming gift, and got to the neighborhood without any undue delays. I had mentally transposed the first two digits of their street address, so I inadvertently overshot it by several blocks, but it was a great night to be out and about, so I didn't mind walking back. The trouble came when I got to the right address. Their apartment is #1, but there was only one doorbell. Seems odd, but I rang it anyway. A graybearded gentleman answered the door. He was not my friends. He had never heard of them. No, there weren't any apartments in his house. I apologized and walked slowly away. A few doors down, I thought I might try a particular building with a similar address and four doorbells, but the doorbells had no names, so I didn't want to risk it.

And of course I had left my cellphone at home because I wanted to travel light. Don't know their number off the top of my head. And I only had the incorrect address I had personally typed, not their invitation.

So I was pretty discouraged, but I could see nothing for it but to go home. I hoped that I'd run into someone I knew on the way to the subway. I did not. Instead, the heel of my shoe broke.

The story has a happy ending in that I returned home, had some dinner and a small nap to regroup, changed into sneakers and jettisoned the earrings, and set forth again with the correct address.

My friends have found a great apartment, with a garden/backyard and a music studio. The party was really fun - we sat around a campfire in the back yard, chatting and roasting marshmallows. Then folks went inside and our musicians grabbed a guitar, keyboard and ukulele for a rousing sing-along of the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" .

Later, James and Lauren started singing "Wonderwall" and "Save Tonight" simultaneously. That worked really well. I love that they can hear it in those songs. I wanted to sing both songs at the same time, but instead I took turns following James (Wonderwall) or Lauren (Save Tonight).

Ah, bliss.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mt Taurus

View from the train:

Here's the Cornish Estate, renowned these days for its excellent ventilation and green construction:

The greenhouse comes pre-stocked with plants:

A river runs through it:

Light filters through the yellow leaves:

We stopped for lunch at the farmhouse (the farmer wasn't in):

X marks the spot:
A small patch of blue shows in the reflection:

Hiker's log: "Day 1, hour 1. People are starting to argue over the map. We may not hold together much longer."

This is what happens when picnickers forget to use coasters:

A glimmer of sunshine:

E and I signed up for the "challenging route" right away, while the rest of the gang deliberated just how much challenge everyone was up for. Result? 100% of our intrepid gang chose the challenge!

As a result, 100% of the gang made it to the summit!! The views were totally worth it.

More photogenic hikers:

The way down was tricky in places, with some scrambles and loose rocks (a lot of people take the hike in the other direction for just that reason). But again, we were rewarded with many lovely views. A forest pond:

We saw two hawks circling around one scenic overlook, sometimes above us, and sometimes (thrillingly!) below us. But in a photo, it's easier to see them against the sky:

A view down to the Hudson - almost there!

A wonderful pre-birthday hike!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Way Home

A beautiful paper wasps nest:

Off for a hike - with balloons!

An open field:
A fort:

I liked this sculpture on the way home:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Picking, Hay Rides & Rockets, Oh My!

PART 1: The Orchard

The orchard owner was very friendly and knowledgeable, and her taste (like ours) runs to Macintosh apples. So when she said you could use Macintosh for all your baking and eating needs, we nodded (and maybe even drooled a bit) in agreement. And when she said you can use dropped apples for just about everything - including apple pies!! - we went for the dropped apples in a big way.

We got a half-peck bag for fresh-picked apples and a half-bushel bag for the dropped apples, and headed toward the Macintosh trees.

My nieces did not want to pick apples up off the ground, thank you very much! (Too much work? Too inglorious? Their view was firmly held, but unexplained.) So they got the small bag. Which actually worked out rather well:

An apple-picker poses in mid-reach:

Quality control was fairly stringent:

But the little bag still filled up quite rapidly with our two intrepid apple-pickers in full swing:

PART 2: The Studio

Afterward, we went to an artist's studio, featuring some lovely ceramic wares:

The glaze on these (and especially with these particular shapes) made me think of antique bronze vessels:

Every nook had some works on display:

The studio space itself was interesting, as it gave the impression of being built into a hill:

Even if, perhaps, the hill may have been built over the structures:

They have a great view from their back yard. I'd be willing to live there!

PART 3: The Farm

For lunch and to round out the day, we went to a farm that was hosting a wool arts fair.

We spoke with a farmer who lost everything earlier this year when his property burned down. He lost all the animals. All the wool. All the goods for sale. His house, and all his possessions. He pointed out though that he and his wife were unharmed. And they used to have the oldest house in town - but will now have the newest. He was not just putting on a positive spin in order to sell his wares; they have no wares to sell yet after the fire. I wish them Godspeed.

Aside from the human interest angle, which is interesting primarily for grownups, one of the most popular parts of any wool arts fair is necessarily the animals:

Ruth was thrilled to see the brown sheep with black faces, her favorite! I am happy to report their wool was soft, and rich with lanolin. Fuzz therapy!

For sheer fluffy softness, however, nothing beats a baby alpaca:

Lee had the opportunity to lead the baby alpaca around on a leash (with guidance from the alpaca's trainer). So sweet!!!

This spotted one was placidly friendly, older but still quite soft:

So we all got a chance to pet him.

Yes, there were even more alpacas around. Did I mention how cool they were?

After the farmers started asking us exactly how many alpacas we were going to buy, we knew we needed to make our getaway. We found a tractor that was pulling away at the time, so we hopped on:

As we made our getaway, we admired the fall foliage:

Oddly, this turned out to be an ineffective escape route, as the tractor circled back to the starting point again.

PART 4: Home Sweet Home

The girls and their friends played a silly sentence game - a bit like mad libs, in game board form:

Lee looked at the new animal poetry book:

But it is difficult to resist the call of the wild. Lee has become adept at catching frogs, such as this one:

The girls flew around on the rings again, showing off impressive arm strength:

After a game of tag (foxes vs. bear), we adjourned to the sandbox for an elaborate meal under Lee's supervision:

The piece de resistance, however, was the rocket launch. The fuel was vinegar and baking soda - materials I'd put together in the past only for a volcano. (How pedestrian, how earth-bound! Why did my imagination not soar? Eh, maybe law is a good match for me after all.)

A young boy, closely supervised by his father, presided over the launch. Everyone gathered for the show. This was the second try after an earlier failure. But this time, it went off successfully!! So of course everyone wanted to do it again!! AGAIN!!! As people gathered additional supplies and the boy's dad repaired the rocket, Lee asked if she could have a go. I said, "You can try it when you're 10." That seemed like a good age to me, and luckily I guessed exactly right - the boy was, in fact, 10 years old! But poor Clara seemed crushed by the age difference - she said to the boy, with a slight note of despair, "Are you seriously 10?"

The tension built as Alex ran into the field with the rocket, shook it and set it down. There was a sickening pause - nothing happened. And then - just when it seemed all was lost - the rocket went up again! Up, up into the air!! HOORAY!!!