Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Delicious Autumn!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." 
   George Eliot

Is there nothing better than sharing a special weekend with a very special friend?  As I’ve mentioned so many times, I am so blessed by the many Friends I am making in my new home town of NYC.  But, as that old song says that we sang a million years ago as Girl Scouts….”Old friends are gold…”

The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park
On that note, a dear Friend of the past 20 years whom I met decorating at the Milton High School All Night Graduation Party (which trained me for my one of my new “careers”!), came down to play on a picture perfect early Autumn weekend.  Arriving mid-morning on Friday, we sauntered over to my park.  Deciding to treat ourselves to The Loeb Boathouse for lunch (I had been saving that for a special occasion, what better time than this?!), we sat by the Lake for 2 hours sipping Prosecco and catching up.  Oh, was the wait ever worth it!  It was a perfect lunch on a perfect day in a perfect setting.  Does it get better than that? 

Dusk from the Boom Boom Room
Apparently yes!  Remember when I observed my new Boss teaching at the Standard West, a foo-foo hotel on the Highline?  Well, he got us a reservation in the Boom Boom Room for a sunset cocktail.  Oh, my, yet again.  It is not normally a “scene” I would like, or so I thought.  It is magnificent, with live jazz playing.  NYC expensive, but worth it for a special occasion.  I want to go back on a snowy afternoon for sunset and sit next to the fireplace again.  Thanks, Boss!

Saturday morning we had brunch with some NYC Ladies at a neighborhood Belgian Restaurant, Brasserie Magritte.  It was long, leisurely, and lovely.   That evening we headed to the theatre district to see a play that I got tickets at $4 each through my Theaterextras.   Billy Porter’s (Tony-winning star of Kinky Boots and Angels in America) play While I Yet Live which he touted as “..a love letter to my mother, my sister, and the women who raised me..” hit breathtakingly close to my home.  But, when my friend asked if I wanted to leave at intermission, I said no, as it was excellent.  I received one of the best compliments of my life after the play.  The final soliloquy was especially beautiful.  My friend said she had heard something similar once, from me!  (I am healing, thank God.)  We simply ended the weekend having a simple brunch at another neighborhood staple, Hi-Life.

Manhattan Cricket Club
One of my dearest friends in NYC, yet another gift from my Food Film Festival, invited myself and our Senior Producer from the FFF to a wine tasting at a restaurant he has a “piece of.”  Luckily for me it was directly across town from my Hx3 on the UWS.  Burke & Wills is a great little place, an Australian bistro, with great happy hours prices and food.  The wine tasting was held upstairs in a quasi-hidden room that is like a beautiful small library, and home to the Manhattan Cricket Club!  I will go back for a jazz/blues night.

A fellow Greeter-Guide and her Puppy
Getting my dog fix with Central Park’s Paws was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday at their annual Fair.  Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperative at the start of the day, but relented a bit to bring some people out.  Even on a rainy morning, my Park was beautiful in the early Autumn.  I’ve often said that I don’t need, nor want to be reincarnated, but if I were I wouldn’t mind coming back as a spoiled Puppy-head, especially in NYC, believe it or not.  Some of these NYC pups are better dressed than I ever could be!

From the Patio
From the living room.
Having enjoyed OHNY (Open House New York) last year, exploring some very cool spaces, I happily gave my time on a Sunday afternoon.  Oh, boy, I was not disappointed.  I got to spend the afternoon in an amazingly cool and beautiful space, a live/work Tribeca loft for Marpillero Pollak Architects, a very interesting and gracious couple.  God, I love finding hidden gems in my city!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Exhilarating Explorations

                      "If light is in your heart, you will find your way."  Rumi

Why is so much of life a “feast or famine” thing?  So many great choices, so little time (and money!).  But, if that remains my greatest problem in life, I’m lucky.  However, that’s not the case, really.  It’s how I choose to roll with the punches on this roller coaster ride of life that counts, isn't it?!

"My" Sojourn
On that note, I spent a wonderful evening with some Sojourn Friends at a 50th Birthday party.  How wonderful is that?  Less than a year in my new hometown, I get invited to celebrate very special occasions with new friends. Dinner at Yofsi Estiatorio ( a Greek-Mediterranean in our ‘hood was another night of seemingly endless feasting.  (And, surprisingly, my clothes are all getting loose. My walks around the Reservoir, and simply walking NYC, as well as more regular yoga classes are paying off, thank God.)  Of course, we ended the night at our Sojourn for music.

From The Shanty's website
A simple Tuesday night is when I had a tough choice: Food Film Festival Season kickoff at The Shanty at the NY Distilling Company in Williamsburg Brooklyn, one of the FFF’s major sponsors and/or meeting up with Communication and Special Events Director for VDay (my “Boss’ in February when I was volunteer coordinator) who now lives in L.A.  Her gathering was at The Counting Room in Brooklyn.  Brooklyn is huge; but luckily both places were within walking distance, so I was able to get to both!

Company @ my Kiosk
Twilight over Conservatory Water in Central Park
Still enjoying my time in “my” Kiosk in Central Park really helps fulfill the frustrated tour guide in me.  It’s quieter now.  Summer rush is over.  Most guests now seem to be European which makes me want to learn other languages.  Can my “old” mind do it?!  Perhaps, we’ll see.

Early Autumn in the Catskills
Never too old for 'smores!
Is there anything better than the comfort of “Girl Friends”, the sharing, the laughing, the wine, the food, the dancing (oh, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"..always brings happiness!)?  I don’t think so.  On a gorgeous early Autumn weekend, I was invited to go with new Girlfriends, many of whom have become true friends through my Sojourn, others whom became friends at a gorgeous home up in the town of Wyndham. My first visit to the Catskills was wonderful.  Leaves were beginning to change, a gorgeous walk through meadows and fields, long luxurious soak in the hot-tub drinking Prosecco, smores by the fire at night lent to a truly wonderful weekend.  I am truly blessed and grateful.

Coming home mid-afternoon on Sunday, the International Day of Peace, I missed the People’s Climate March to coincide with the huge summit at the U.N.  But, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in NYC there’s a plethora of things to choose from.  I went down to Times Square for the Broadway Flea Market benefiting Broadway Cares.  Loads of “stuff” from many shows that would be very exciting for true fans.  One thing that I have learned after “downsizing” (that’s an understatement) is that I no longer need, nor have room for, “stuff”.  It was fun to poke around and “be”.  I was impressed and delighted to see Tyne Daly graciously greeting people and chatting with any who stopped.

Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace at Lincoln Center
I then meandered my way up to Lincoln Center where I had read about the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace Ceremony at the Paul Milstein Reflecting Pool and Terrance in Hearst Plaza.  Oh my, it was yet another one of those NYC experiences that truly made me know I am right where I am supposed to be, at least for now.  It was a moving, beautiful experience with Alphonso Horne, 26-year-old trumpet virtuoso, handpicked by Wynton Marsalis to be one of his Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars
New, York City Ballet’s principal dancer Wendy Whelan and fellow dancer Craig Hall performing choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain”, students of The Juilliard School, The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, ending with two young vocalists from Broadway singing Alicia Keyes’ “New York.”  And, from its website: “At sunset, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, the head priest of Shinnyo-en and one of the highest-ranking woman Buddhist leaders in the world, presided over a special closing Lantern Floating ceremony, as hundreds of the LED candle-lighted paper lanterns were set afloat on the Milstein Pool, illuminating Hearst Plaza into one of the most captivating experiences in the city.”  Another magical evening.

From the GELL website
Having a volunteer orientation for OHNY (Open House New York) in the West Village on a Tuesday night made me get up to the Highline for something I’ve been wanting to check out for quite awhile.  From its website: Open House New York (OHNY) is a 501(c)3 organization that promotes a greater appreciation of the city’s built environment; broadens public awareness by exposing diverse audiences to distinctive examples of architecture, engineering and design; educates and inspires discussion of issues of excellence in design, planning and preservation; and showcases outstanding new work as well as structures of historic merit.  The orientation was held at PS41 which itself is very interesting for it’s rooftop garden.  From the school’s website: “As a first-of-its-kind NYC Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory, GELL provides PS41 students empirical lessons designed to enhance science, math and aesthetic education in an outdoor observational learning space.”  I do believe I will go tour it during the OHNY weekend.

Following the interesting and quick orientation, where I literally sat behind a Rooftop Films Friend (I love when stuff like that happens to me as it makes me feel like a real New Yorkah, although Kristi tells me that’ll never happen with my Boston accent.)  I wandered over to the Highline to stargaze.  Members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York set up their telescopes for any and all to view from, for free.  It was wonderful as I got to see a gorgeous view of Saturn (red with its rings), Mars, the double star Alberio, and triple stars: the brightest stars of the Big Dipper: Alcor and Mizar.  In researching for this post, I have just discovered that this wonderful group sets up all over NYC.  I will be checking out more interesting things with them.  See, never a dull moment!

Teaching in a gorgeous Gothic building in Brooklyn
Having a true NYC hair experience (5+ hours in the chair!), and all of my jobs are also keeping me busy, and fulfilled.  After my hair odyssey, it was a shame to go home and “waste” the ‘do, so I met Sojourn friends at the owners’ newest restaurant, Selena Rosa also in the ‘hood.  (Sammy’s becoming a tycoon of UES restaurants!).  Teaching more, organizing, etc for the Food Film Festival fill up my days and evenings.  Never, in a million years, did I think all those years doing the All Night Graduation Party for Milton High School would actually prepare me for new career opportunities.  Life is certainly “interesting.”