Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time in the Parks

Sculpture near coffee cart
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike." 
                                                                                   John Muir   

Beakfast area
After a good night’s sleep after an uneventful bus ride Thursday, I woke Friday to a gorgeous summer morning.  Heading down to Chelsea for a Memoir writing class (free) at the Muhlenberg branch of the NYPL in Chelsea, I found a delightful coffee cart near Madison Square Park.  As always in Manhattan, so any interesting things pop up literally, to watch, to see, to enjoy.  My class was filled with a delightful cross section of people, as I’m finding in everything that I do in this city.

Save Our Skin event
Following the class I walked up to 5th Avenue, poked around one of those pop-ups and discovered it was for “Save our Skin”, promoting a new sunscreen product.  After getting some samples and admiring their setup, I meandered over to Madison Square Park, decided I wasn’t in the mood for Shake Shack (sacrilegious, I know). I admired an art exhibit by Orly Grenger, made of literally tons of nautical rope.

Orly Grenger's

Orly Grenger's work
Apples around the Big Apple
Daring Methods: The Prints of Mary Cassatt
From the NYPL website
From there I sauntered up 5th Avenue, stopping at a J Crew Sample sale and Lord and Taylor (where I tried to get a pic of Mariano Rivera selling his new perfume, but the crowds and security weren’t worth it.)  Managed  not to find anything I couldn’t live without, and continued a few blocks north to the main branch of the NYPL, one of my favorite buildings in NYC.  It was the last weekend of a Mary Cassatt exhibit, which was thoroughly enjoyable.
Entertainment at lunch
Entertainment after lunch
It was truly a picture perfect summer day.  I walked behind the library to Bryant Park to discover the BP CafĂ©.  I decided I owed it myself and had a lovely salad and proscecco while being totally entertained by a group of Bankers having a low-key meeting over beer!  I spent another couple of hours in the Reading Room of Bryant Park taking advantage of the magazines, newspapers (and books) offered by catching up on the New Yorker (with Mariano Rivera on the cover), and the Village Voice while being entertained by dance and music. (Monday evenings there are free films shown all summer!).
Yoga in Times Square
 I then headed up to Times Square where there was a Summer Solstice Yoga event all day.  Thousands of people doing free yoga at various classes all day into evening!  I discovered I could come standby for the latest class, but decided I didn’t feel like rushing home to change and get back.  So, I did the next best thing..I continued walking north and treated myself to glass of wine at one of my favs, The King Cole Bar at the St Regis Hotel.  I met a very nice Woman who works for American Airlines.  We traded numbers and plan to meet when she flies through again.  (I discovered the King Cole will be closing for awhile, so I’ll have to take her my other favs.)  She actually texted me to meet last night but I got down too time.
Belvedre Fountain @ Twilight
Completing my day by walking home through Central Park, it was the longest day of the year, after all, I happily collapsed 12 hours after leaving home.
Boat Basin
Saturday, woke up to another perfect day, and walked up the street to my last Philosophy Class.  Most of the class has already signed up for Part 2 in September to continue the discussion..oh, so tempting..After class three other Ladies and myself shared a great lunch at a Diner on Lexington (cheap and delicious).  We have been invited to join a group from the class across that hall that is going to meet, discuss, and share in some adventures over the summer!  We then decided to have another coffee, so I brought them to the charming Boat House in Central Park.
Free Shakespeare in the Park: The Public Theater presents THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater
I walked to the West side to meet my NYC Friend.  We planned to wait in line at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park and try to get standby tickets to the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park.  First we had a light bite and glass of wine on Columbus Avenue at a nice little WIne Bar.  We enjoyed a few hours at the Park, people watching, chatting, enjoying the summer evening waiting to get standby tickets.  Score!  We got in right before curtain call and had a wonderful evening of entertainment, Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.  A true gift to the city, it’s free!

Walking home..
After the play I walked through the Park to the East Side, very safely, as I was certainly not alone on this summer night.  I gave directions to 16 Handles to a young couple walking behind me on 79th Street when I heard them talking about wanting some ice cream.  I was told I was better than Google Maps!  Not ready to head in myself, I treated myself to dessert and a glass of wine at my neighborhood home away from home, Sojourn.  You know I love it when “they know my name”…
Laughter in the Park
Sunday I finally caught up with Kris for a bit.  Then, not wanting to waste another great summer afternoon I walked happily to the Park, again.  Laughter in the Park is NYC’s only free outdoor comedy series ( played in Central Park.  The shows are for six Sundays from 2-4pm and rotate among Central Park, Tompkins Square Park, and Washington Square Park.  Wonderful sitting, laying on the grass, enjoying the Park with many, many people.  I then picked up salad and dessert at Citarella’s in the neighborhood for dinner and relaxation before heading back to reality.  An amazing summer weekend, so grateful.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Rains..

"Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you."   Langston Hughes
Exchange Alley
Once again took the late bus down to Manhattan after work on Thursday night.  Friday I woke up to a pouring rain which lasted all day and night, but actually felt nice as it was warm.  Almost temped to take off my shoes and walk through puddles, but I draw the line on that in cities.  Kristi and I enjoyed a lovely lunch in the East Village @ Exchange Alley on E9th between 1st and A. I had a Blackboard Eats code so it was very reasonable at 30% off, and delicious in a great space!  I’d like to go back as they have live music on weekends nights.  Their motto (per their post card): "Greasy spoons make my spirits fly...thru the Lower East Side."
From there I decided to walk to the Flatiron District to meet a Lovely Lady I met at the Saturday afternoon workshop at the New Public Library a couple of months ago.  Walking through Union Square I finally fell upon the Strand Bookstore.  It had been on my “to do” list for years.  I spent a great half hour or so poking around.  Upon finding Beechers Cheese Cellar on Broadway between 19 &20, our meeting place, I also saw ABC Furniture Store, which is supposed to have an amazing restaurant.  Now I know where to find it. 
The Cellar at Beecher's Handmade CheeseWe spent a wonderful couple of hours over “Happy Hour” munchies and wine, so happy to have made another NYC Friend.  This young Lady is amazingly self-assured and together, proving I can learn from all ages!
I then meandered home to the Hx3 where Kris was finishing up some work.  We decided we owed it ourselves again, and went across the where they know our names, Sojourn.  We shared a lovely piece of Tiramisu, wine, and conversation.  And, Kris thinks that I was getting “hit on” by a visiting business man. Whatever, not my cup of tea earlier in my life, definitely not now!
Saturday I happily walked in the sunshine up 79th Street to my second to last Philosophy class.  I have really been enjoying it and sorry to see it end.  I think I will sign up for the second session in the Boston school this fall.  After I went to the other end of our street to have my piggies & toes (mani-pedi) done.  And, what did I come upon on 1st Avenue?  A street fair!  I got giddy, smiled, and had to poke around.  The NYC Street Fairs make me happy like carnivals did when I was a kid.  I found some treasures yet again; my assistance to this still dismal economy.
Early Piano Player @ Marie's
Frances HaI then headed downtown to meet my NYC Friend and her Friend (another new one for me!).  We saw a great Indie Film at the small IFC Theatre in the Village, Francis Ha.  It was a charming coming of age movie about a young woman artist (dancer) coming of age in NYC.  A theme I definitely can relate to, love, and support!
We then had a bite to eat at a great, cheap!, Mom and Pop Greek Restaurant on W4th and 6th Avenue, Karavas Place.  From there we spent a wonderful few hours at the piano of one on my favorite places, Marie’s Crisis.
Sunday I was up and out early, catching an 8:45 MetroNorth train out of Grand Central to White Plains.  The lady I met a few weeks ago at Cutlog, the art show on the LES, who runs Per Partes Project, had a pop up art show on the rooftop of Elements restaurant in the center of White Plains.  The show features a few artists, her including her Daughter, Lorin, a Photographer, and her ex-Husband, Cliff, a painter.  I spent a lovely Sunday helping a bit, having a wonderful lunch surrounded by like-minded people.  All day I thought of my Uncle, the one who introduced me to NYC all those years ago as he spent most of his adult life working in White Plains at General Foods. 
I ended the weekend on a sweet note, enjoying some frozen yogurt with Kristi at one of my favorite neighborhood haunts, 16 Handles! 


Sunday, June 2, 2013

First Summer Weekend

                     "These are the days of miracle and wonder."  Paul Simon

In typical northeast fashion, the weather went from rainy cool spring to hot summer in less than a week.  I will not complain, for now.  It felt, good, if a bit sweaty, here in the city.
Unfortunately, and unusually, the Bolt Bus trips have been a bit of a nightmare this spring.  That is the trade off you make with buses.  You’re at the mercy of the roads.  Although the last epic ride that took 6 hours on a Friday afternoon I believe was due to a massive breakdown on Amtrak in Connecticut.  Not sure what the reason for this week’s was, but as usual, I can sleep, or at least dose most the way.
Arriving at 11pm instead of 8pm to the Hx3, I was starving.  Finding Kris at home, we went across to our ever faithful, and wonderful, Sojourn for a lite bite, which turned into multiple glasses of wine.  Thanks Guys, it’s wonderful being a regular (especially for me, in NYC)!
Saturday morning, I went to my Philosophy class, which I am enjoying more each week.  And, as fate would have it, this week’s topic was tailor made for the week I’ve had!  It’s kind of amazing how life works.  He truly does work in mysterious ways.
The young Lady in her 2nd year at NYU Dental School had texted me during the week to ask if I’d like to go to brunch after class.  We did.  We simply walked up to Madison and found a wonderful Italian restaurant, Serafina, where we enjoyed light fish dishes, and had a wonderful , long, visit.  Another new friend made in NYC!   
Walking home, I came upon one of NYC’s ubiquitous street fairs.  They pop up all over the city in the good weather.  This one was literally on our corner at 3rd Avenue and ran about 10 blocks.  Having now been fortunate enough to experience many of these, I still love them, even if they have the same “stuff” block after block.  Sometimes the “stuff” is exactly what you’re looking for.  The miniature bamboo plant I bought on our first weekend in the Hx3 is thriving. For me, this is no small feat, I do not have a green thumb, and have accepted that.)  This Saturday I found exactly the summer purse I was looking for, $20.  (Now I’ll return the one I bought at Marshalls last week.  It fell apart on day one..)  And, I found a wallet style cell-phone cover.  Very pleased, and celebrated by buying beautiful cherries on the way home.
Fences Cast At Work
Then Kris and I headed down to the Gene Frankel Theatre on Bond Street in the Village.  (She had performed there just about a year ago).  Original Binding Productions has a play in the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity running through June.  “Farewell to Sanity and Other Irrational Constructs (Or I’m not Crazy, but my Shrink Thinks I am)” which was written and directed by Tom Slot.  It was excellent!  Highly recommended!
I then headed back to the UES, and decided to treat myself to Sojourn’s amazing cheesecake for dessert.  And happily came home for a wonderful night’s sleep.
Sunday, I allowed myself to relax again.  I opened Uncle John’s letters and got totally immersed once again.  What a treat.  Mid-afternoon I walked a few block to Luke’s Lobster and brought home one of their amazing lobster rolls, cheaper than you can get them at home!  Then a little while later I ventured back around the corner.  Remember the great frozen yogurt place another new Friend brought me to in Chelsea, 16 Handles?  There is one 2 blocks away on 2nd Avenue!  And, I thoroughly enjoyed my yogurt while watching a typical Sunday evening scene on the UES.   I was, and am, very content.

Memorial Day Weekend with my Ladies

“ are my rainbow to keep. My eyes will always be watching you; never will I lose sight of you.”
Vesna Bailey

An uneventful quiet bus ride brought me back to NYC late after work on Thursday for a long four day weekend.  Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, definitely, the mental start of it for me, was not boding well, weather-wise.  But, it’s the Northeast, not a darn thing we can do about our fickle weather, just deal with it!
A rainy, warm Friday was the perfect day to take advantage of one of the New York Public Library’s free classes.  I headed to Midtown, the 5th Avenue annex, to partake of “Intro to Ebay.”  It was taught by a lovely young Woman, a Librarian, who clearly had a great time getting rid of her stuff on Ebay.  What I learned is that I can’t really be bothered.
Tolaoche 82
Kris and I decided to go beyond our neighbor hood restaurant staple, Sojourn.  Walked a couple of blocks north to 82nd Street and 3rd Avenue and had a wonderful dinner at Toloache 82, an upscale Mexican restaurant.
Cascabel Taqueria
Cascabel Taqueria
Saturday Katie drove down and we had a long leisurely brunch at Cascabel Taqueria.  I guess the theme was meant to be Mexican for the weekend.  Since it was another rainy day, we bought the makings for mimosas and huddled at the Hx3 watching movies all day and night.  Fun, relaxing, and great just being with my Ladies.
Bethesda Terrace in Central Park
From Central Park's website;Bethesda Terrace
Sunday we woke to a pretty, sunny day.  After the Ladies went for a run, Katie and I walked over to Central Park and did some yoga!  Then we spent a couple of hours just meandering through the Park, down Poet’s Walk, through the gorgeously tiled Arch onto Bethesda Terrace with it’s iconic Fountain, then walked by the Boat House and the Alice in Wonderland Statue.  All along the walk we were entertained by a variety of street performers.  Perfect Sunday walk.  We then stopped into Sojourn, and Kris came across the street to join us for a light bite.
New World Trade Center
At Night
Later we headed down to Pier 66 on the West Side to a great Boat moored on the Hudson River, The Frying Pan.  We had a very enjoyable few hours with our cocktails, munchies, and sunset.  Kris’ friend Alex joined us, and it seems whenever he arrives anywhere, it’s an instant party.
Brandy's Piano Bar
From there we headed back to the UES to check out a Piano Bar I had just read about.  It was one of Katie’s fears for some reason, and thankfully we turned her into a convert!  Brandy’s is great fun, and 84th between 2nd & 3rd, it’s literally in our ‘hood!
Monday was a magnificent day that we took very lazily and did like New Yorkers, ordered burgers, fries, and milkshakes to the Hx3, and watched more silly tv. 
Thankfully, Katie and my ride home was nothing like our Christmas drive.  Easy, uneventful, and fast.  A priceless weekend with my Ladies