Monday, August 26, 2013

Life, and Death

“You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret— you return to the beauty you have always been.”   Aberjhani,

Having planned to stay home from NYC for a weekend, I decide to give myself a treat and go to Cape Cod (the Cape) as Friends had invited me.  I am in good shape as far as purging, packing, cleaning, and it took my mind of the slow sale of my beloved home (although I do realize that less than a month on the market does not constitute a slow sale..just thought it would happen much for the patience I’ve grown in the last year or so..).
The Patio at the Ocean House

Red River Beach in Harwich
It used to be that every time I went over the bridge I felt 18 again (have I mentioned this before?!), however nothing can do that anymore.  That’s okay, just like crossing other bridges have done for many years in the past, the Sagamore also makes me breathe differently, calmer. A great Friend and I stopped in Yarmouth to visit with another dear Friend (awesome antique Cape home, actually has a plaque stating it’s on the list of Historic Homes).  From there we went to Dennisport, and had a lovely lunch on a perfect summer day beachside at the Ocean House, on Depot Road.  It sent me down Memory Lane as I worked on that same street the summer of ’76, waitressing and playing!  I had a lovely few days enjoying the beach, and other Friends at dinner another evening.  I am blessed.
Gazebo overlooking the Kettle Pond
Thank God, as the weekend played out to be a hectic, bittersweet one, filled with, new life, and unfortunately death with tears and laughter rolled in.  My Niece and her Husband blessed our Family with a 4th Generation, my Mom’s first Great-grandchild!  My Brother, his Wife, younger Daughter, and Son were able to “be part” of the whole experience as they came as was planned to meet Miss Kennedy Eden, who was supposed to come two weeks ago. (Megan and Fletcher had no idea that Kennedy is actually a family name, my Paternal GrandMom’s maiden name.  No, we are not part of “that Kennedy” family.)

Steel & Rye
From Yelp
After picking Kris up at South Station, with her bus arriving much later than anticipated (one of the only draw backs, I think, to commuting by bus from Boston to NYC, is you are at the mercy of the traffic), we decided to check out a relatively new restaurant in Milton.  It's been hard to get into since it oprened almost a year ago.  I like to support hometown establishments, especially since, for most of my life, there was no fine dining in Milton.  Steel and Rye did not disappoint.  It was hard to beleive we were in Milton.  Food was good, not overwhlemingly great, the space is cool, the prices are Boston/NYC prices, not suburban.  Kris' only complaint was that the wine list definitely catered to "Milton Moms", but was impressed with the cocktail options!
A dear extended Family member passed away last week which added to the miles travelled, literally.  But, being at the age where I only get to see certain People at Weddings and Funerals, I guess that’s the bittersweet part.  My Girls and I escaped the tough Funeral Mass by setting up the Reception at my Cousin’s home.  May be the cowards way out, but having done it now for my good Friend a couple of times, I realize it beings some peace at a time when it’s needed most.  (Perhaps I’ve found my new calling for a career?!)
My Ladies and I gave ourselves some needed therapy after the reception, of the retail type (thus also helping the economy).  Kris who hates to shop was guided by her Personal Style Guru, Katie, and managed to get some great things to add to her suitcase for a Wedding in Madrid this weekend, followed by a reunion with her English flat-mates (from Junior Year Abroad) in Majorca where they are renting a villa.  Again, we are blessed.
Photo: The Sullivan kids minus 3.
Six of Nonnie's Nine Grandchildren!
Saturday evening we converged on my other Brother’s house.  (Unfortunately, due the Death in the Family, a large cookout planned for extended Family (forty! People) was cancelled.) The only sibling missing at my Brother’s for dinner, was my Sister and her Family who live in California.  We had many laughs and shared a wonderful evening together, my Mom, three of her kids, and six of her grandchildren.  Perfect.

Mom and the Kentucky Sullivans, Megan and Fletcher, with Miss Kennedy Eden Lang!
Sunday before every one headed back to reality, my Ladies and I visited the new Princess.  Mom, and the Kentucky Sullivans overlapped us a bit, allowing for more kisses and hugs farewell.  The new Parents were relaxed and welcoming, if not tired.  Miss Kennedy Eden took it all in by sleeping peacefully.  And Maggie, puppy, thankfully took it all pretty much in stride.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weekend of Volunteering

  “To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.”
                                                                                                          Pearl S Buck

Film at the Farm
Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013) PosterIn a measure of frugality, and because it has truly been enjoyable, my weekend was planned with much volunteering.  Taking an early morning bus from Boston, got me to our Hx3 midday, giving me time to relax a bit before heading to a farm museum (who knew?!)  in Queens.  Rooftop Films presented David Lowery's “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” at the Queens County Farm Museum.  ( I got to Penn Station to get on the Long Island Railroad, I bumped into a familiar face, a great young Lady I had worked with at other Rooftop events.  I love when that happens in my new city!  It was a wonderful evening..even if it did make me homesick for Maine..
Early morning in Soho

Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery
Jonah Schimmel's
Friday Kris and I found ourselves on the Lower East Side.  What to do on a perfect summer afternoon?  Have a long, leisurely, wonderful lunch at a favorite, Inoteca on Rivington.  Perfect.  From there I decided to head home, and decided to read, watch a bit of tv, and get to bed early as I had a long day of volunteering on my calendar for Saturday.  Walking along Houston, I passed Jonah Schimmel’s bakery, famous for its knish’s and decided we  owed it to ourselves.  I picked up a few for breakfasts.

Almond croissant at Ceci Cela
Controlling traffic..
Last Night at Rooftop Films for 2013
Saturday I was up and out by 5:45 a.m to help out at the final day of Summer Streets.  I was given the job of traffic control down on a Soho corner.  Working with yet another lovely young Lady, who just moved to NYC form Florida, it was a fun morning.  After the first hour or so of standing on the street corner, the next 5 were easy!  As always, the cast of characters who came through our intersection was incredibly diverse, interesting, friendly, and courteous!  I lost count as to how many people thanked me for being there!  Halfway through the morning, I treated myself to a coffee and decadent almond croissant at Ceci Cela on Spring Street.  Amazing.

From there I headed back to my neighborhood in the UES, and went to the Green Market o 82nd to get some lunch provisions.  Went home, relaxed, and headed out to Park Slope in Brooklyn to The Old American Can Factory for Rooftop Film’s final screening there for the season.  The night followed previous years’ traditions of showing a series of short films for the final show.  There was an extra feeling of “party” in the air, I’m sure due to it being the final show.  I didn’t get home til 4am!

Sunday, I relaxed, and brunched on the knishes I had picked up on Friday.  Then, I headed back to Boston early; which proved to be a good decision, as the week is turning out to be quite busy.  More on that later.



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ruminations of a Fine Lady

     "The appearance of things change according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves."  Kahil Gibran

An old Friend once told me about the acronym FINE that many in his circles used.  F…up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.  That sums me up for the past eighteen months.  (Some may say much more than that.)  What is so very empowering is that I feel that I’m coming out of it.  As I’ve mentioned often since I started this catharsis, my blog, is that old the old “sayings”, many of which make you want to slap the speaker of them, are true.  Time does heal.  What doesn’t kill us does make us stronger.
People are amazed at my strength, my optimism!, (I work hard to be an optimist, not always successful.), my ability to go forward with a positive attitude.  I am amazed as I believe I have no other choice.  It is just not in me to stay in bed with my feet in the air..although some, many, days that was tempting. 
Home for sale!
Now I have made “plans” (remember what I have said about those..) and am moving forward with my life,  I have also been pushed, but that’s okay.  I am a worry-wart, but somehow, right now I describe myself as “comfortably numb” even if I am concerned that my sweet home has not sold overnight.  A Milton Mom told me many years ago when we were all in the college planning/application nightmare, and everyone was comparing their Kiddos’ test scores and resumes, that People lie .I guess that’s true in many regards. 
It’s an urban myth that homes sell in an least in my case..
So, on that note, I treated myself to my present Shangri-La, NYC.  I arrived late Thursday afternoon, rested, and headed down to Soho to The Access Theatre on Broadway (not “the” Broadway, but Broadway nonetheless), for Original Binding Production’s “Naked Theatre 2: The Ladies”.  It was a wonderful evening of one-act plays written by women.  Wonderful, as all their shows are.  I then treated myself to a late light dinner as I was hungry, at, you guessed it, Sojourn!
New Friends from Rooftop Films
Friday was yet another sporadically rainy day so I spent the early part at the Hx3 with Kris, reading, being.  I headed back to a new neighborhood in Brooklyn, Sunset Park, to volunteer with Rooftop Films again.  This evening’s film, "Awful Nice," another rollicking comedy of two brothers was based in Branson Missouri, so we had fun decorating the warehouse space in Industrial City accordingly.  From Rooftops’s website: Another fun, interesting evening, with great young People!

Banana Boat Rest Stop
Getting home around 2am, I allowed myself to sleep in a bit on Saturday. But I didn’t want to miss out on Summer Streets, so I headed out around mid-morning to check it out again.  It was a perfect summer morning, and I was not alone.  I began at the Mid-town rest stop at 53rd Street and had my second banana of the day, this time frozen chocolate covered.  Thanks, Banana Boat.
Sculpture on Park Avenue
Eagle on Grand Central
I then meandered with the bikers, walkers, roller bladders, and runners down Park Avenue enjoying the assorted sculptures, and iconic landmarks, some seen in a close-up and personal way, usually only seen from a car.  One such area was the Park Avenue Tunnel, open to Pedestrians for the first time ever.  From the Summer Streets website:  Voice Tunnel is an interactive light and sound installation by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, will transform the 1,400 foot long Park Avenue Tunnel with 300 theatrical spotlights that produce glimmering arches of light along the tunnel’s walls and ceiling. Participants will be able to influence the intensity of each light by speaking into a special intercom at the tunnel’s center which records their voice and loops it. Louder speech will increase the lights’ brightness proportionally, creating a Morse-like code of flashes throughout the tunnel. The individual voices will be heard as pedestrians walk through the tunnel, on 150 loudspeakers, one beside each light arch and synchronized with it.

Voice Tunnel
At any given time, the tunnel will be illuminated by the voices of the past 90 participants: as new participants speak into the intercom, older recordings will get pushed away by one position down the array of light fixtures until they leave the tunnel, so that the content of the piece is changing constantly.  (My note: I waited patiently and added my 2cents to the show.  It was kind of a thrill to hear it playing for a few seconds as I walked away!)
Again, not being alone, it took a 40 minute wait in line to go through, but it was totally worth it.  As always, while waiting in line I had an interesting chat with a New Yorker who gave me tips of living in the city, including how to migrate the rent-control world!  (I will be researching that at some point.
82nd Street St Stephen's Greenmarket, New York, NY
From Llia on Facebook
  After my wonderful long walk, I headed back to my neighborhood (Oh, how I love saying that.)  I returned my first library book, and went over to a local farmers market finding some wonderful summer bounty!  Came home, made my favorite caprese salad, and relaxed a bit before going back to Brooklyn to spend the evening with Rooftop Films, yet again.

Saturday’s show was back at their home, The Old American Can Factory.  I am beginning to love that space.  The movie was Elena, an intense emotional love story from one siter to another.  As always, a great night, I’m now sharing phone numbers with some of my new friends, and I always feel as I’ve had a bit of a workout as well!
Sunday, today, I had some great intentions.  Instead, I have given myself the gift of a very lazy day.  Reading, writing, and recuperating from the physical, and emotional, labor of the last month.  Much needed and wonderful.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Home for Sale..

              "He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home. "
                                                 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Home Sweet Home for Sale
After a truly grueling few days, physically, mentally, and emotionally, I left my beautiful home sparkling and ready for its first Open House.  It has been a wonderful home, physically and spiritually, for me, to raise my many happy memories, and unfortunately some not so happy…but I am ready.  I pray another Family finds the peace and happiness I have there.

So, I arrived in to the Hx3 exhausted, on many levels..time for comfort food, yet again.  Over to Sojourn, where actually a new Bartender took care of me very nicely (so He didn’t know my name).  And, as always, I had a lovely interesting conversation with my bar-mate, Frank.  He grew up and is raising his Family in this neighborhood!  He introduced his Wife to yoga, and she is now a teacher.  He was quite impressed with my individual practice in Central Park.  Apparently, according to Frank, that’s the purpose of get to an individual happy when I’m told how “evolved” I am!
This weeks yoga site
My Sax player

Friday, waking up to a picture perfect summer morning, I did that again, went over to Central Park for some more yoga.  My usual space was occupied by a man sleeping so I found another one close to a Musician playing his saxophone.  Many musicians set up shop in the tunnels under bridges in the Park as the acoustics are amazing.  When my Musician played “My Way” (Frank Sinatra’s mantra) during my shavassana, I cried…Beautiful way to start my day.  On my way home I stopped at the little bread, pastry shop on the corner of 3rd and 79th, Coronado for a cappuccino and almond croissant.  I owed it to myself!  Then I borrowed my first book from the NYPL from the Yorkville branch right across the street form the Hx3.
Lil' Frankie's Pizza

Later I headed down to the East Village.  I love that neighborhood.  I treated myself to a great, not so little lunch at Lil’ Frankie’s Pizza on 1st Avenue.  I had a “pizza burger” with a light salad, washed down with prosecco.  Perfect.  While there I made plans with my NYC Friend to go to a free concert at Lincoln Center later that evening.

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles
Bright Star Maracatu Nation
Remember my plans for last Sunday, changed due to rain?  Going to Lincoln Center’s  Out of Doors at Damrosch Park Bandstand was one of them.  Well, I finally made it.  What a lovely evening..from the space, Lincoln Center is a true jewel, to the fun, upbeat, entertaining music!  From its website: A Tale of Two Nations brings maracatu, a traditional Afro-Brazilian dance, to the U.S. with a collaboration between Maracatu Nação Estrela Brilhante (Bright Star Maracatu Nation) and Nation Beat. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, continue the cultural festivities with their traditional sounds.
Lincoln Center's Fountain by Day
By Night

A view of the NYPL not normally seen by walkiing
Saturday I took the MTA down to 23rd Street with the intention of walking home up Park Avenue to check out yet another summer celebration called Summer Streets.  I got a late start, due to rain!, but decided to head was a summer rain, after all.  What I saw was great.  My “plan” is to explore it in full next Saturday, and I have signed up to volunteer the final week.  From its website: Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s most valuable public space—our streets. On three consecutive Saturdays in the summer, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, walk, bike, and breathe. Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation. In 2012, more than 250,000 people took advantage of the open streets.

Cornelius Vanderbilt at Grand Central
Summer Streets is modeled on other events from around the world including Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia and the Paris Plage. The event is part bike tour, part walking tour, part block party--a great time for exercise, people watching, or just enjoying summer mornings.

Running from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, with easy access from all points in New York City, allowing participants to plan a trip as long or short as they wish. All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully.
A linotype at The Old American Can Factory

Saturday evening I headed over to the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn again to work with Rooftop Films (  It is really a great way to spend a summer evening; great People, very cool site, and seeing movies I would never find on my own (much the reason why I have loved my bookclubs for over 20 years, reading books I would never find on my own).  This evening’s feature was “Cutie and the Boxer”.  From Rooftops’s website: A reflection on love, sacrifice, and the creative spirit, this candid New York story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife, Noriko. As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, but met with little commercial success after he moved to New York City in 1969, seeking international recognition. When 19-year-old Noriko moved to New York to study art, she fell in love with Ushio—abandoning her education to become the wife and assistant to an unruly, husband. Over the course of their marriage, the roles have shifted. Now 80, Ushio struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art—a series of drawings entitled “Cutie,” depicting her challenging past with Ushio. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.

Director Zachery Heinzerling, who won the US Directorial Debut award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, navigates the turbulent artistic terrain with an energy and voice as distinct as the lives he follows. The uniquely textural score and the lush, deeply personal—almost voyeuristic—cinematography come together to create a powerful portrait of Noriko and Ushio’s marriage, but also of an entire subculture of artists and lovers hidden within edifices throughout the city.

As Noriko states during an interview in the film, “We are like two flowers in one pot. It’s difficult. Sometimes we don’t get enough nutrients for both of us. But when everything goes well we become two beautiful flowers. So it’s either heaven or hell.” The audience is invited to witness this complicated existence in this engaging, unique, masterpiece of new documentary filmmaking.

Q and A with director Zachary Heinzerling and subjects of the film Noriko and Ushio Shinohara will follow the film plus a live boxing painting by Ushio!

It was another wonderful night.  New Yorkers, there’s only two weeks left to this years Festival.  I highly recommend it! .  It’s a full evening: music, movie, and open bar usually following the movie with beverages provided by sponsors and more music!  Always a great crowd!

Cotton Candy Clouds over the East River
Getting home late, I was a New Yorker and slept in.  Then Kristi and I treated ourselves to brunch at, yes, Sojourn!  Then a long nap, heavenly.  Later, I took myself over to the East River, read, enjoyed a wonderful sunset, and stopped at 16 Handles for my treat on the way home.

Twilight on the East River
Heading back to Boston in the am…and hopefully the offers for my little home will come rolling in.  Apparently the Open House was a big success, with many compliments on my lovely little home!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

               “Life is what happens to us while making other plans.”  Allen Saunders.

After taking a short hiatus from NYC, staying home to really tackle the purging of a life-time, literally, at my Milton home, it was nice to come back to Manhattan.  It’s fascinating to me that I find a similar peace here that I used to find in Maine.  I am so very grateful for that.

Arriving late Thursday afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a light dinner at my favorite, Sojourn.  As always, I found myself having a wonderfully interesting conversation with a fellow bar-sitter, and of course, Alex, the bartender.  It appears they run wine dinners together, so of course, I asked if I may join sometime!  Bob has a wine blog that looks interesting:
Morning coffee site before class
Friday I had my morning coffee at the small cart I discovered in the Flatiron district before heading to my last Memoir writing class, for now.  Ben is going to resume it later in the summer!  I then met my Friend and we enjoyed a nice cup of coffee at La Maison du Macaron.  I have a nice routine started.  I love it!
Stopping to get some salad and other provisions on the way home, I then went to my neighborhood library branch to do some writing.  I also got my first NYC library card!  Kris and I then shared one of my personal favorite dinners of wine, cheese, bread, and fruit.
Icocnic NYC scene as I did Yoga
Later, we meandered over to Brandy’s Piano Bar.  It’s so delightful to be able to walk to all of these places.  Kristi stayed for a short while and then a Friend from Philosophy Class met me.  Wonderful evening.
Another scene as I did Yoga
Saturday I read, wrote, and then walked to the Park, Central Park, and did some yoga, and more reading.  Perfect.  I then calmly walked around my ‘hood for awhile, soaking up the fact that this truly will be “home” in a few short months.  With that happy realization, I treated myself to some gelato from Eli’s.  (Nora Ephron often mentioned doing her food shopping at Eli’s, although I don’t think she did gelato..)
 Then I headed to Park Slope, Brooklyn to volunteer for Rooftop Films again.  This is their home base, at the Old American Can Factory.  What a cool space!  There was a concert first in their courtyard.  From Rooftop's website: "Bradford Reed never fails to entertain and inspire. This Brooklyn, NY based composer, performer and producer fights and tames the idiosyncrasies of the pencilina, an original instrument of his own design and construction. The pencilina is an electric ten stringed collision of the hammer dulcimer, slide guitar, koto and fretless bass with six pickups of varied types. It is struck with sticks, plucked and bowed, giving Reed an incredibly wide sonic palette. Many have enjoyed Reed's frequent street performances and club dates." )  Bradford was powered by stationary bikes ridden by volunteers and guests!)   The Short Films: "Industriance" were shown in the courtyard and on the Rooftop.  Following the film there was an after party with music.  Sponsors of this year’s festival, Red Stripe Beer and Bulleit whiskey and bourbon.  Another incredibly, pleasant, interesting, and cheap summer evening!
Courtyard scene at night..beautiful
Sunday I had plans for a play on the Great Hill in Central Park, “Brecht”.  Then I was going to attend a concert, “Kronos Quartet”, at the Damrosch Park Bandstand, part of Lincoln Center which was playing as part of Lincoln Center’s Outdoor Festival.  (Both free!)  The weather was not conducive to sitting outside, although it was another sweet summer rain, it was not something I wanted to sit in for hours.  Well, one of the very important lessons I have learned, or been brutally taught, by the last eighteen months, is that “Life is what happens to us while making other plans.”  (Allen Saunders.  Then John Lennon used it in his song “Beautiful Boy”.)  For a planning control freak, that has been tough. But as my beloved former Co-worker recently said that she had finally decided during her recent vacation: “Let Go and Let Flow.” (We were Co-workers when she left for vacation.  When she came back I was gone.)   I like that, and plan to adopt that credo with her.
PUNK: Chaos to Couture
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art website
So, for Sunday, I went to plan B.  My NYC Friend invited me to join She and her Friend at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art).  Since I belong, and it is one of the joys of the Hx3 that we live 5 blocks away, I happily accepted.  We spent a few hours enjoying, meandering that magnificent museum.  We ambled through the “Punk Exhibit”.  As are most of the fashion exhibits I see in museums, far out, but interesting.  We chatted over a beverage in the American Wing Café. My NYC’s Friend and I walked home through the UES as She’s a neighbor.  We shared stories, good and not so, about our lives, the difficulties, challenges, and wonderful benefits, of being Moms to Adult Children.  It is so nice to be reaffirmed that you’re “not alone and not crazy.”  Wonderful, I may have another NYC Friend!
By Sunday evening, I was content to hibernate, enjoy the sound of the summer rain outside, read my Sunday Paper online, and just be.  Monday morning I contentedly caught my Bolt Bus back to my new, purging, packing.  The “For Sale” sign goes on the lawn tomorrow.  Please keep me in your positive thoughts..that my beloved little home sells quickly and easily, and that I have enough Kleenex to get me through it all!