Monday, March 30, 2015

Jaunty January

     “No one is exempt from loss.  But loss opens up space for a different life.”
                                                                   Kati Marton in “Paris, A Love Story”

Design: C. Berskshire  Photo: V. Gucwa
Settling into a new year in my new home felt a bit unsettling!  Two major moves in two years…A positive thing about the cold, cold winter was that I hibernated more, thus falling in love with my new little home more and more.  This is truly my first home for, by, and with ME.

Favors from the Art Show!
Hunkering into NYC’s bitter cold, I still managed to run its streets!  As I’ve mentioned more than once, there is never a lack of things to keep me busy in this adopted city of mine.  Classes at the libraries where I made a new friend at a job-search lecture, exploring new museums with a friend and discovering a lovely one near me that has an amazing café.  I will be going back to the Neau Gallery for some German treats, and exploring the National Academy Museum again.  On that same bitterly cold evening my Friend and I then ventured down to Gramercy to the Union League Club for the opening reception for Annamarie Trombetta’s art show Central Park Imagery  “En Plein Air”.  I met this lovely artist in Central Park over a year ago, and she has joined me at a couple of events to volunteer with me.

Meetings for VDay, both Eve Ensler’s and 4th U’s, reunited me with   What a treat!  As I’ve also mentioned before, I get a kick out of bringing native NY’ers to places they’ve never been, and on that note, I brought a lovely Lady who volunteered for and with me at 4th U’s Vday last winter to Marie’s Crisis.  (I will never tire of Marie’s). 
friends from last year.

After a hiatus of sorts for the Holidays, meetings and classes with my Boss working hard to build the teaching component of Initiate Care as always brought me to some amazing spaces in this city such as Del Posto restaurant, followed by lunch at Spice Market.  Oh, my.
and his Balls

One of my favorite young guys from the Food Film Festival (who am I Karl’s Balls!
kidding, they are all my favs), had a pop-up restaurant in SOHO which allowed me to see, be, and hang with great friends from the FFF.  It allowed me to also bring friends from other parts of my NYC to support Karl and his balls.  Takoyaki, I call balls of goodness, as Karl fills them with savory and sweet delicacies.  His dream is to build an empire with these, and I am getting a thrill in watching him do it.  I know he will.  Watch for

Cast of "It's Only a Play"
One unfortunate fact from a blizzard (which actually was a simply good old fashioned snow storm in NYC) was the cancelled trip of dear friends from my Air Force life.  Thank you for the great gift of “It’s Only a Play”!   Kristi and one of my dearest FFF pals joined me instead, and it was a lovely evening of light frivolity with a stellar cast.  (My FFF pal is the one who is part of that great Australian restaurant on the UWS, Burke and Wills.  We had a delightful dinner there first.  I had kangaroo for the first time!)       

Another lovely friend from my old life, the manager of the Old North Church Gift Shop came to town for the NY Now Gift Show.  (The same show where I helped Robin and Michael set up and break down their booth for their company Arbiter providing me with two good longs days of hard, honest work.)   Here I must digress and share another “Angel on my shoulder” moment!

my Sojourn!
I went to Chelsea to get my friend as she really only knows that neighborhood due to her buying   While hailing a taxi to get back to the UES, only a gypsy cab stopped.  Ray offered me the same price I’d pay for a yellow cab, so we hopped in.  While catching up in the cab, sharing the stories of our “kids”, etc., Ray quietly drove along.  When we pulled up outside my Sojourn, Ray turned around and said he’d be happy to pick Katie up at Newark airport the next day and bring her to me!  (More on that later.)  My Friend and I then had a rip-roaringly great dinner while we watched the Patriots win a thrilling Super Bowl!

Decadent delicious dessert!
More precious time was filled to capacity lunching with Ladies, gifting myself a Creative Non-fiction Class at Gotham which has kick-started and motivated me to get writing more (or so I am telling myself); enjoying an amazing massage from Yves Cedano in Union Square which was a gift from my FFF Boss; enjoying a free! dessert tasting at the ICC, International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute). 

Tibet House (from their website)
My Philosophy Class friends and I have decided to meet on our own, so two Saturday mornings a month, I get to enjoy these dear people as we discus “life”.  And my closest Philosophy friend and I also explored a Meditation class at the Tibet House in Chelsea. 

From the Alison Chases website
My Boss’ Girlfriend is a beautiful dancer with the Alison Chase Dance Company, so on a Friday  Another of “it’s a small world story”…some of the music from this evening was original music by Paul Sullivan who I have also had the pleasure of hearing at Paul Winter’s Solstice Concert at St. John the Divine Cathedral a few years ago.  Paul Sullivan is the brother in law of a dear friend with whom I spent many hours, days, and years working on the Milton High School PTSFO, in my last life.  
night I headed up to Columbia for a delightful evening to watch a beautiful Performance.

Martin Luther King Day, a day of service had me up at the Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in Harlem working with yet another fav (aren’t I lucky to have so many favs?!), a lovely Lady I have worked for and with at the Food Bank of NYC.  We helped a large group prepare bag lunches for People who rely on this pantry for their sustenance.  A bit selfishly, the best part of that day was actually taking the time to have a cup of tea together and really get to know each other.  So blessed by the people I am learning to care for here in NYC.

Clearly, my New York City has been, and continues to be, a wonderful boon to the healing of my life.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Holiday Happenings

                          "Give me such shows-- give me the streets of Manhattan."
                                                             Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Grand Central's Iconic Clock
Christmas-time in New York City is magical.  This is year, as noted, it was filled with more of a frenetic busyness.  In the weeks following my Cousins’ visit until Christmas Eve, I spent almost every day working for friends of friends at Grand Central’s Holiday Market, one of my favorite places in the world.
Sold this Lady right off my head!
Making new, dear friends while learning much about something II never honestly gave much thought to became a very special opportunity.  Swan & Stone Millinery is a true labor of love.  Two very special Ladies who met in a “Mom’s group” in Vermont, turned an avocation into a passion and company.  The respect I have for Sam and Nora in immense.  The sacrifices and way they are living their lives to give their children the best they can is admirable.  (Both ladies spent time in their early adult lives in Manhattan for school and the start to their careers.)  Learning to love hats and finding true delight in “selling them right off my head” has given me the confidence to actually wear them regularly.  (A necessity this winter!)   I have been getting a real kick, and pleasure, receiving compliments for their gift as I wear of one of their signature hats all over the city this winter.

My new bowl collection
(Did you know that dragon flies
are a sign of transformation?)
In between my times at Grand Central, and after work, is when I would gallivant all over Manhattan looking for the treasures for my new home.  One of my favorite nights was poking around Chinatown looking for bowls.  Weird, I know.  But I have a thing for bowls, have for years.  It was fun, and special, to poke around shops looking.  Finding them in a traditional grocery store, similar to a shopping trip in Boston years ago, somehow made me right at home in an “exotic” neighborhood.

My favorite theater company, Original Binding Productions (Kristi is a founding member!) had a cool, 60’s themed version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as a fundraiser for a high school in Queens.  On the first stormy evening of the winter I had yet another Angel on my shoulder, as I’m not sure how I found that high school, but I did, and enjoyed the production immensely.
From Bergdorf's display  
Forcing myself to do many of the things I love most about my city at Christmas helped me get through some tough moments.  Walking down 5th Avenue late at night (to avoid the crowds), soaking up the glittering beauty is always salve to the heart.  Sharing an evening after work with my new friend and Boss, Sam, from Swan and Stone; with “old” friends from Tuff Kookooshka (who actually made the introductions to my new employers) at one of my favorite haunts, The Campbell Apartment (right in Grand Central) was wonderful, indeed.

Owner Billy Gurney & the "Men"
Spending time in my Central Park at their Holiday gift shop, meeting and enjoying a new Lady, while spending time with another with whom I’ve worked in the past was fun.  My Food Film Festival Family and I shared a special night (which happened to be my birthday) at one of my favorite restaurants owned by a great teddy bear of a guy, at Hometown Barbecue, way over in Red Hook.  (Definitely want to spend more time there in the good weather.) 

Even Rooftop Films stepped up to my plate by actually inviting me as guest (no chairs to set up!) to enjoy a special screening of an enjoyable, poignant movie, “Good Bye to All That." (Champagne was involved!)  The talkback with Director-Screenwriter Angus MacLachlan, Producer Ann Carey, and actors Anna Camp and Heather Graham was additional fun.  Something Mr. MacLachlan said in response to a question about what was next, struck me as interesting, and made me realize that even in film, it’s the very lucky and few who get to stop worrying about money.  He replied that he’d be going back to “obscure poverty.  Please spread the word about my film.”  (Sitting behind Kyra Sedgewick was like a cherry on the sundae.  No, her husband was not with her to dance for us.)  The screening also filled one of my “bucket list” of NYC sites to see as it was held at The Highline Ballroom, very cool.

King Cole Bar
Christmas day was a balmy 50 degrees, so Kristi and I walked over to my Park and actually sat outside to enjoy a glass of Proscecco by the lake at the Boathouse!  We then walked through the Park to midtown to meet her college roommate, and still best friend, at another special place, The King Cole Bar at The St. Regis Hotel.  (5th Avenue was a madhouse!)  We had a wonderful few hours before heading to the Zeigfield Theatre to meet our dear friends from Viola Street for opening night of “Into the Woods.”  There is nothing like seeing a movie on opening night in NYC.  The cheers, clapping, and general buzz of excitement are like being in live theatre.  Rounding out our Christmas evening, we shared Chinese food with our old neighbors up in Harlem    

With the help of my amazing movers, I changed my home from the Hx3 on E 79th Street down a few blocks to E 70th Street.  By New Year’s Day I was settled and looking forward to yet another amazing year in NYC, having rung in the New Year with Friends at my Sojourn.