Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

A solemn moment as the hunters prepare to hear the Official Rules.

The huntress stalks her unwary prey....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The First Hike of Spring!

Last Sunday was a winter hike.  Today was a spring hike.  Clearly.  For example, I saw two butterflies today.  How many did I see last weekend?  Zero!  Quod erat demonstratum.  Etcetera.

What's that you say?  Butterflies aren't enough for you -- you want more proof of spring?

Well, for starters, the sun was shining brightly.  And there was a spring in my step, and -- OK, OK, I admit it.  There was a LOT of snow.  Had to wear hat and gloves a good part of the day.  Sheesh.  You sticklers!

View from the train.  I didn't hike there.  Not enough snow.

Crocuses!  Yay!  It's SPRING!!!  This was on Main Street.

Yeah, this was the actual trail.

They don't really encourage us
to explore that structure.

But look - there are GREEN LEAVES!  For realz!

The blue-blazed Notch Trail (some parts were a bit steeper and slippery) 
Semi-random cairns atop a fallen tree; note that the roots pulled up some stones of their own as well.

I think there's a turn coming up!!!

I liked the lines in this picture

Today's route: Undercliff (Y) to Nelsonville (G) to Notch (B) to Brook (R) to Cornish (B).   It was probably about 5.5 miles all told, including the walk to and from the train station.  Highest elevation 1100 ft.  (As opposed to last weekend's ascent of the lofty Mt. Taurus at a towering 1400 ft!)

I'd seen signs for a "Maple Syrup Festival" earlier, but had not paid a lot of attention.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be at Little Stony Point right across the street from the end of the trail!  Why, yes, I'll be happy to join you!!  I think they were giving out free pancakes, but I just enjoyed the concert and watched the little kids running around.  So cute!*  And I even bought some maple syrup to show my support.

Afterward, I had a light lunch at the Brasserie: a green salad with goat cheese, pistachios and beets, and a glass of white wine.  And a delicious crème brûlée for dessert.  :)

(The sign on the post says: "C'EST ICI")

But it might be nice to try McGuire's some time:

Since it was Palm Sunday, I figured I'd try stopping by the Redeemer downtown service on my way home.  It was held in the Salvation Army worship space, which I'd never visited before.

The ceiling was pretty cool

All in all, this was quite a productive (and Tolkien-heavy) weekend.  I finally finished and submitted my second book review to Mythprint, so we'll see if they like it.  Yesterday, I alternated reading Book 4 of LOTR and Christopher Tolkien's "The Return of the Shadow" (the history of writing The Fellowship of the Ring), while today I read Book 5 of LOTR on the train and listened to Dr Flieger's LOTR lectures as I hiked.  For some reason, I've been finding it very hard to pay attention to the lectures live (it's so tempting to make comments to friends or surf the web while I "listen"), but when I'm hiking I'm all ears!

What else?  I'm wondering if I should switch to an evening workout - right after work - and see how that affects my sleep patterns.  Also wondering if I should move to North Carolina.  Or New Hampshire.  Or ... oh, anywhere but here!  But NC is tempting because of the Runner Peeps group which gives me the illusion that I would have an instant social life just by showing up.

FN* Although there was one little blond boy in a green sweater who was a bit aggressive, really.  He kept pushing over or pulling down other kids -- it looked like anyone he thought he could bring down, he did.  (You could see him sizing up one kid and deciding not to do anything.)  The others didn't seem to mind, they were smiling and laughing and having fun anyway.  But he was really deliberate about it; and there was one little girl he seemed to have chosen as a special target.  And I couldn't help noticing that none of the other kids were pushing each other down.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Last Hike of Winter

Was with an impressive crowd - enough adventurers to call this an Expedition rather than a mere hike!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


On the day before St. Patrick's Day, my only definite plan was to drop off clothing at the deacons' clothing drive.  I had two choices of subway stops, equidistant from the church; I decided to approach from the east. That proved to be a fateful decision, as it required me to cross Fifth Avenue:

Hooray! Men in kilts!
There were extraordinary numbers of people wearing green.  Green hats.  Green beards. Green t-shirts and shorts (brrr).  Green antennae.  One very tall man wore a bright green bodysuit that covered his entire body (including his face).  He seemed to find it somewhat liberating - or maybe it was also the alcohol.  Hard to say.  I was serendipitously wearing a green ski jacket, so I fit right in.

After I dropped off my bag, I came across this cool family of bears:

And a squadron of window washers descending the side of a building.  It was really impressive - like an action movie.  I zoomed in on four of them:

At first glance it looked like spies, action heroes or super-villains
launching a campaign to take the building by storm....

On Sixth Avenue, I headed south and saw buses that were apparently chartered for the occasion.  Hence the crowds.  Who knew that St Patrick's Day weekend - not just the day itself - was a Thing?

Easter Egg!!!
But lo and behold, en route to the subway Times Square, I happened to walk by the Cort Theatre.  Breakfast at Tiffany's was in previews...  so I picked up half-price tickets at the TKTS booth.

That left me with one hour to spend in Times Square.  Just the right amount of time to enjoy dumplings and a glass of wine at Ruby Foo's!


Mahjong tiles!
I have never read Breakfast at Tiffany's; I have only seen the movie.   And it is not a movie I know very well.   But still the movie left enough of an impression that I could see many similarities (scenes, characters, interactions, key plot points) -- and the predictably jarring difference: an actress who was not Audrey Hepburn.

I was curious how they would portray Holly Golightly, knowing that any actress would played the role would inevitably be compared to Ms. Hepburn.  Would they try to slavishly re-create her classic role, simply evoke it, or entirely re-imagine it?  I very deliberately tried to be open-minded about this.

What I didn't expect was that even though the actress who played the role acted well (perhaps even flawlessly), her look was distracting in that it just felt "off" in some way that was hard to define.  

Part of the problem was that her hair was down; she looked the ingenue instead of the sophisticate, which gives a very different feeling to the character.

But it seemed like there was something else too.... And when I looked at her bio, it finally clicked: she is Daenerys Targaryen!!!  (And no, I could not recognize her without the blonde wig.)

So it was quite a lovely day, full of surprises.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend in Review

On Saturday, I met up with some friends at Chelsea Market to celebrate birthdays of those born in the Year of the Snake.  The organizer was the only actual celebrant, but it was still good to get together.

We ate near this magical archway:

It was a great day for a walk, so I walked 5 or 6 miles around the city.

This reminded me of our old home in Belgium, where the upper floor was
almost entirely windows.  We had to place bird silhouettes on the windows.
In the evening, I went up to the roof and read "She" (by Rider Haggard), which apparently was an inspiration for many of the details of Galadriel's mirror scene in Lord of the Rings.

A view from the roof at sunset

Sunset reflected on buildings.  I just love this.
On Sunday, U-chan and her mom graciously offered to teach me how to make Gyoza dumplings.  Be still, my heart!  So delicious.  And my friend Carolyn made canelés.

I am so lucky to have such talented and generous friends!!!!

Dumplings and salads.

First of three batches of canelé

A beautiful red silicone canelé tray.

Dumpling makers and eaters.
We feasted and had a very merry time.  

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

25th anniversary performance of Symphony #1 “The Lord of the Rings” by Johan de Meij. Performed by Valparaiso University Chamber Concert Band and Windiana Concert Band. Johan de Meij, conductor.
The third movement ("Gollum") seemed to last quite a long time and suddenly (after a dark stretch) became very hobbit-like.  Sure enough, that was the fifth and final movement, "Hobbits".  Oh well.