Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Weekend

Afternoon sunshine through the magnolias 
At Redeemer's final Good Friday service, the lobby was as loud and crowded as I've ever seen it.  So I was pleasantly surprised at how sparsely filled the seats were in the sanctuary (especially when only two of Redeemer's three locations were hosting services).  I went to the far side, toward the front, and figured I'd have lots of room.  Never have I been so wrong!  Turns out the lobby crowd were not stragglers from the earlier service; they and their friends were all on their way in!  There were three readings (Jesus as man, king, and lamb), and people kept squeezing in up until the last song.

On the way home, I picked up some kirsch, gruyere, and comte. I love the Upper West Side!

Saturday involved three loads of laundry (long overdue), more books from the library, more shopping at the farmer's market, and a nice walk around the park.  I also got all the cheese shredded for the fondue, and shook it up with a few tablespoons of cornstarch in a ziplock bag.  That should be  enough advance planning, right? But I also decided to make carrot ginger lemon soup (lots of extra garlic and ginger, YUM) and tried my hand at a honey mustard vinaigrette salad dressing from a random internet recipe.  That took a lot of tweaking!

But the highlight of the day was reading the last book of Larry Correia's Grimnoir trilogy.  There are some gruesome bits, but so often I found myself grinning with delight as I read Warbound.  It's a really fun read, and very satisfying.

The Grimnoir series also seems to have  some synergies with other stuff I've been reading recently, Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series (totally caught up) and Victoria Schwab's Shades of Magic series (just read the first one).  Some of it is mere happenstance, I think - e.g., one of the two main characters in A Darker Shade of Magic is named Delilah, as is Jake Sullivan's rival/love interest in Hard Magic. (Not a very common name these days, in literature or life.)  And the Thames is a source of magic in Schwab's Red London, while the Thames has both a god and a goddess in the Aaronovitch series.  (They do not get along; the hero has to broker a truce with hostages.) But both Schwab and Correia are very interested in the mental and physical limits of magic; where it comes from, how it can be blocked, how it is exhausted and replenished. In both worlds, some (but not all) people are able to draw magic from a mysterious source, but can be drained or thwarted.  Both authors thus explore similar interests in strikingly different ways.  Pretty cool.


Farmers' Market, with Forsythia 

I'd been thinking about going to an Easter sunrise service today, but there weren't a lot of convenient choices.  And my laziness was rewarded by thick cloud cover that blocked the sunrise.  So instead, I went to the early service at a local Catholic church I've been attending off and on.  It's got wonderful gothic style architecture, with bright colors painted on the vaulted roof panels between the pale stone supports.  It is beautiful and uplifting.  Plus, they have a fair number of young children at the church, which is a lot of fun.  I was right behind a toddler who kept fussing and trying to strike out for the center aisle.  His mom was clearly worried about disturbing everyone in the vicinity, so I gave her a big smile.  (When she apologized for him, I smiled again and said, No worries; but what I really wanted to say was I'm so glad he's here!  Your son is really cute, and so full of life.)  The kid enjoyed the sign of the peace, shaking hands with everyone in his family at least twice.  It was adorable.

The homily focused on the centrality of the resurrection to Christian faith.  (As I like to say - and naturally, many others have said it before me - absent the resurrection, Jesus is just another nice guy who finished last.)

My church attendance was rewarded with glorious sunshine for the walk home.

I then shifted into host mode.  Got the wine started warming on the stove, then began chopping peanuts and cabbage for the crowd favorite, Indian Slaw: Bund Gobhi Nu Shaak.  Preheated the oven for the sweet potatoes... All these tasks synchronized well, so I was able to roast sweet potatoes  (45 minutes at 400F) and prepare two salads and fondue "simultaneously", finishing just as my guests were scheduled to arrive.  It was all delicious, and fun to see everyone. It's been a while since I had anyone over.  

I never did get around to offering them the soup, but that's fine.  I'm all set for a week or two of feasting now with the leftover coleslaw and soup (not to mention the chickpea masala I'd made earlier in the week).  

After a quick cleanup, the perfect end to the day: a walk in the park.  Saw dozens of robins, a few squirrels, a dove of some kind, a bluejay (too shy for photographs), and a cardinal (cautious, but photogenic).  


Monday, March 21, 2016

Fish Out of Water

A funny thing happened on the way up to Albany - we saw several NYC Transit buses, probably an hour or more north of the city.  They were all southbound (heading toward NYC) and all shiny and new.  Probably six or seven of them, all told... But not traveling in a pack -- they were all spread out like.

Unfortunately, by the time I got my act together to try to take a picture, we'd apparently passed the last one.

We figure they were built in Plattsburgh (in December 2014, Cuomo announced Prevost would be building NYC buses there, so the timing is probably right).

Sunday, March 20, 2016


On my way home from the library, someone called my name.  It sounded a lot like my friend Becky.  So I turned - and it was!  She and her husband were just two blocks away from my place!  Turns out they were visiting her brother.  We were heading in the same direction because her brother still lives across the street from me (I'd assumed he'd moved away long ago, since we never run into each other).   As we were chatting, along came Becky's brother and his girlfriend, plus Becky's daughter!  A nice and entirely unexpected reunion.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Flitting around the Museum of Natural History

Patricia graciously invited me along to the museum to use some free tickets she'd gotten from a friend.  We went at 1 pm or so, and it was a madhouse.  Peak visiting time for sure!

We got tickets to all the special exhibits and events.  The "Dark Matter" show at the planetarium and the exhibit about the human body failed to grip, but the IMAX film about the national parks was fun to watch.

The highlight was the butterfly exhibit.  I'd been to it once before several years ago, with my mom.  The species were different this time.  Apparently, the museum does not get to choose what kinds it gets.  Instead, federal officials make the determination (based, presumably, on which populations are healthiest etc.).

Only one butterfly landed on me this time, but I suppose there's no need to be greedy.  :)

Friday, March 04, 2016

An Evening at the Met

Rather than following my usual patterns, I headed up to check out the Met's visible storage area, where things are mostly grouped by material and type, rather than as more traditional exhibits.


I really liked the collection of items made of pressed purple marble glass, from Pennsylvania in the late 1800's.  I hadn't heard of this material before, but it made sense (they'd looked like maybe they were carved out of marble, but seemed somehow too fluid).  
There were some nice seascapes among the paintings:

Frederick J. Waugh, The Roaring Forties (1908)

Angled view

Frank Myers Boggs, On the Thames (1883)

A wonderful trompe l'oeil by Chalfant

Again, a wonderful illusion of depth on a totally flat surface...

Compare this one by William Michael Harnett (Still Life - Violin and Music),
which was deemed worthy of display in a regular gallery
 Back in the regular galleries, I took some pitchers - oops, I mean pictures:

There were a lot of works by the Tiffany Studios in this passage, some beautifully ornate all-metal tea pots, chocolate pots, and pitchers.  I'll have to go back and take some photos another time.

Cthulu Chatelaine

This painting was almost modern in its photorealism:

Charles Sprague Pearce, Arab Jeweler (ca 1881)

Other paintings struck me with their extraordinary light:

Martin Johnson Heade, Newburyport Meadows (ca 1876-81)

A delicate Victorian funereal sculpture:

And Queen Victoria herself:

Thomas Scully, Queen Victoria
 Then a quick detour through the Asian galleries:

Vase with butterflies:
"The Chinese term for butterfly ... is also a rebus for the accumulation of blessings"