Friday, October 31, 2014

Home Again, Home Again

I was terribly disappointed that the new Costume Institute exhibit hadn't opened yet when we were at the Mat. It turns out opening day was Tuesday, the day before our flight so we went back for Death Becomes Her - the clothes of mourning.
Of course these garments were for the wealthy, and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the explanation mentioning that these garments introduced black into fashion. It's interesting that the weave structure was chosen to make the clothes more mournful, and no doubt the weavers were men.
This is my Dorset workshop loom wtih the Texsolv heddles I put on a year ago and hated. The inserted-eye heddles I had ordered before we left were waiting for me, so before I could starting warping for the workstop, I first had to replace the heddles which requires some disassembly of the loom. I think that's unique to this loom and it took more time than I had planned - isn't that always how it goes?
I ordered the heddles from Jim Wilson at Gowdey Reeds in Rhode Island. I'm impressed that he makes everything right here in the US. He included this sample of a reed which is so much nicer than the 8 dent reed that came with the loom. Before my next workshop, I'm going to get a 10 dent reed. I had to put three theads in each dent for this workshop warp which isn't as easy as sleying even numbers - or a single thread which is even better.
But the loom is ready, new heddles and 15" of 10/2 perl cotton, ready for the iridescence workshop with Bobbie Irrwin tomorrow. I've always said - I warp front to back, end of story. That's because my two Gilmore looms are so easy to dress that way. I had to eat my words as I fought to dress this loom. It absolutely demands to be warped from the back. Coupled with the sticky warp, it took twice as long as it should have and was pretty hard on my cranky neck.
After all the work, I wasn't taking any chances with my crazy cat and shrouded it in the living room where II could keep an eye on it. I'm not saying it's Maddie proof, but so far she has loved having a hidey place to go and hasn't batted at or chewed on anything. She'll be sad to see it go and I will be relieved. The next two days will be all about creating iridescence and learning about color.

Friday, October 24, 2014

New York City, The End

One of our favorite things was a tour through the Met with a group called Museum Hackers. Ian learned about them from a PBS program and booked a tour for us. They are private contractors with the Met's blessing and give small two-hour tours that focus on highlights of their choosing. The Met is the largest museum in the world and I ordinarily don't even go because it's overwhelming so I welcomed this.
We began the tour in Egypt where we were introduced to the Met's mascot, a blue hippo named William whom we learned all about. There were a dozen of us on this tour and they did a great job of quickly making us comfortable with each other. Our two guides, Michelle and Lia, like so many millennials in the city, are supporting themselves while chasing artistic goals like acting or performance art.
We stopped in the Hatshepsut room where we learned about the gender-bending female Pharaoh who also strapped on the ceremonial beard. Her right hand man Senenmut, possibly her love and maybe father of her child, had a burial chamber constructed right below hers. Who knew?!! There was a contest. We were challenged to pick something in the Met that we thought would be perfect to party with and then defend ourselves in ten seconds at the end of the tour. I decided I was going with the cross-dressing queen.
We had to keep it secret until the final reveal so I had no idea that Ian had also chosen Hatshepsut, this particular version, but for different reasons.
We concluded the tour in a central hall of statues and busts where they asked us to select one to have our Polaroid taken with. Ian mimiced our bust and silly Dougie and me were all smiley. Ian won the contest, we all got a laugh that we had chosen the same thing out of all the objects on display, and he was awarded an eraser of William. We've decided to put a screw eye in the top and hang it on our tree at Christmas.
The art in the subways is unbelievable so I kept taking photos and texting them to Matt. This is from a mosaic mural in Times Square that is at least 16' across. I took a photo of the entire mural and then took three shots so I could show him detail. There are performing artists everywhere, especially at this station since it's the biggest transfer point. A mime was working behind me and mimicked everything I was doing to the delight of the audience. Glad I could help :)
Every time we had walked by this, I'd think - you know, that really looks like a Liechtenstein. Finally I said something to Ian and we stopped to look more closely.
And sure enough, it was - hidden in the subway for public eyes, not locked away in a museum. I wasn't able to find a book on the subject, but I did find this website: If you have a few minutes, it's worth taking a look at.
I was really taken with this woman's purse at one of the stops and took a couple pictures - wish I had taken more. I think it must be from a very small pair of jeans because it has both pockets. I'm going to look at a thrift store for a small pair and see if I can make one for me.
We ate lunch in Harlem at the Red Rooster, the flagship restaurant of Marcus Samuelsson, Top Chef Master. It's was Dougie's last day and that was on his "must do" list. He had eaten there before and I had read the Sanuelsson's memoir, Yes Chef, so was just as eager. The food is fantastic and unique - fabulous. We had gotten off at the 125th Street stop and over lunch decided we wanted to see Washington Square, so we hopped back on (an express train this time) and zipped down to the 12th Street stop - 6 1/2 miles, nothing to it. I couldn't resist this dog walker. Nine dogs! A friend asked me how he picked up the poop. I don't know the answer.
I especially love this park because it's right by NYU and fulled of animated students. We saw one student with her choreography book on a bench, roughing out the moves. And as you can see, there's a huckster in this photo, doing something like three-card monty. One thing for sure is there is never a dull moment.
This kiddie park is on the west edge which I thought would be the perfect pick-up place for single parents. It made me think of Tom Perrotta's book, Little Children.
We were in Manhattan two weeks and didn't waste a minute of it. This was our final sunset and I had planned to take a parting shot the next morning but we had a brutal awakening. The hurricane-like weather in the North Carolina area was causing cancelled flights, and ours coming from DC, was one of them. They moved us to one leaving 45 minutes earlier. We scrambled. Ian had packed the night before, but I was planning to pack as I went, after my shower. I had just showered when he told me we had 15 minutes. I didn't pack. I threw things in my bags. Ian said he was sure I had broken the packing record. Gabi, the wonderful head concierge got us a town car and the driver got us across town in peak traffic, just in time. After fourteen wonderfully perfect days, a fantastic birthday celebration, one concert, three musicals - I can't complain.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New York City, Chapter three

We are trying to do things this trip that we haven't done before so went down to the Lower East Side for lunch at Katz's deli. We had planned to take the train to Rhinebeck today and meet Doug's aunt Rena but got rained out, so Rena took the train down and spent the day with us. We all ordered the pastrami on rye and agreed that was probaby what Sally ordered. We tried to get a tour of the Tenement Museum but they were booked until the afternoon when Dougie and Rena were going to see Hedweg and the Angry Inch.
Instead took the subway up to Roosevelt Island, home of the New York Lunatic Asylum until the abuses there were exposed by Nellie Bly when she went undercover there for ten days, reported it in the newspaper and also wrote a book, saying if you weren't crazy when you got there, you soon would be. Bye bye asylum. The building languished and was torn down in the 60s, but the dome was incorporated into one of the luxury condominiums that now fill the island. That's Manhattan across the East River.
The public art in the subways is spectacular. My son Matt is a tile setter and has recently turned his hand at mosaic tile art so I was taking pictures and texting them to him. This was from about a 12' mural at the 12th Street Station. I later found a webside of NYC public subway art and sent it to him so now I'm free to enjoy the art without taking photographs. Bigify to see the impressive details.
We also took the train under the East River to Brooklyn to visit the MTA Transit Museum. The marvels of public transportation here are inventive and mind boggling.
I thought this parking lot mind boggling and inventive too, though I don't understand how it works. I posted this picture to Facebook and our friend Diana, who is a LA city planner, commented that they're trying to incorporate these into their city.
We finished that day by taking the Staten Island ferry which is free. We went over, disembarked, turned right around and filed back on with all the jostling hoards and were quickly underway again - most efficient and really very interesting.
We went right by Lady Liberty as we expected.

We didn't expect an intermittent Coast Guard armed escort. Check out the guy in the prow with his hand on a 50 caliber machine gun. I've since learned that this is standard ever since 9/11, which seems a little like closing the barn door after the horse got out.
The view of the city on return was breath taking. We were fortunate that the rain had stopped. I can't blog again until I find some WiFi so I can upload the photos from my phone. We don't have WiFi in the apartment so I am using my phone as a hotspot. When is a cell phone not a cell phone? When it's a hot spot!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New York City, Chapter two

Sunday was my birthday so when Ian and Kerry walked down for breakfast bagels, they bought a black and white cookie for my birthday cake. This is a common bakery item in Jewish delis and the subject of a Seinfeld episode. Kramer kept asking, is it a cake or is it a cookie?
Ian's son Doug flew in late the night before so after we walked Kerry to the Port Authority, we went to the Chelsea Market and took a walk on the High Line, which is a city park from a reclaimed elevated railroad. It was a holiday weekend, Columbus Day which is really big here with all the Italians, and a beautiful day. There were lots of walkers.
Water towers are part of the city silhouette and required for fire protection on buildings above a certain height.
Our afternoon plans were A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, the delightful Tony-winning musical. We came out of the theater to hear a free concert in Time Square in progress. Robert Delong, an "electronic" musician was playing and he was followed by Jane's Addiction. It was fun but loud and Ian and I were tired, so left Dougie who wanted to finish the concert. We were surprised to enjoy Robert Delong but Perry, Jane's Addiction lead singer, isn't singing so well these days and one song was enough for us.
Our plans have been very loose, other than our matinee play tickets. Dougie wanted to see the police museum on Wall Street, which is a area we haven't been to yet. Right across from it is Freedom Hall which is where Washington was inaugerated and was America's first capitol building. Check out the men in suits on the top step.
That's Trinity Church at the end and the large builing on the left is the stock exchange, kitty-corner from Freedom Hall.
The original church was built by the British and was Anglican. It was destroyed by fire twice and the current church was erected in the 19th century. I had only seen it from a distance in the past and had no idea that it is so big.
The church cemetery is a who's who of American history and is where Alexander Hamilton was bured after his fateful duel with Aaron Burr. I'm not sure how being dead defended his honor. I guess it's a guy thing.
We ended the day by taking the subway up to Zabar's for cheesecake and passed this shop. There are little dogs and dog walkers everywhere we go. This shop caters to those owners. Only in Manhattan!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New York City!

We arrived at La Guardia about midnight last Tuesday and took a cab to where we're staying on the Hudson River. This was the view that greeted us the next morning. It's fun to just sit here and watch the ships going up and down the river.
We didn't have anything planned for Wednesday so went to Herald Square for lunch at a Korean Fusion restaurant where we've eaten twice before - still just as good as ever. And of course, since we were right there, it seemed a shame to not visit the mothership of Macy's, right across the street - well, almost right across the street. And then since we were so close to the Garment District, it seemed a shame to not visit Mood. I've like the t-shirts I made from unusual knits bought there in the past so thought I'd pick up a couple more pieces. However, once I saw this zebra print, it's the one I wanted. Actually, it was the only one I could afford since it was the bottom of Just Cavelli's line at $25 a yard. It was sold by the pattern instead of yard, so I either could buy 1 1/4 yards or 2 - $50! So that's how I spent the money I just made selling wool and soap the day before we left!
Thursday afternoon we walked over to the Port Authority from the Time Square transfer station to meet the bus friend our Kerry took in from Pennsylvania. There is no way to describe how massive the Bus Terminal is. It's all underground with more than 200 gates, serving all the Eastern Seaboard. Think of it - each bus holds 100 people and each gate has multiple busses every hour. This is the George Segal sculpture at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Pretty telling.

Friday we took the subway to the top of Manhattan to visit the Cloisters, the Metropolitan's museum of Medieval art.
The whole NW corner of the island is Tyrone Park, a gift to the city from John D. Rockefeller, one of the Met's most beneficient patrons. When you're there, it's hard to believe you're still in the Sity. We are looking south toward Washington bridge. This area is named Washington Heights because it was Washingtons last dedoubt against the British during the Revolutionary War.
This museum is home to the famous unicorn tapestries which were my favorite exhibit. They have done a color analysis and determined that all the colors were derived from a simple palette of weld, madder and wode - yellow, red and blue. I've dabbled in using natural dyes and am astonished by the many colors and how uniform they are throughout the seven tapestries. You could easily lose an entire day here - there is so much to see.
We took the A-train and Ian said we'd get off at the 96 Street subway stop to eat at the Peruvian restaurant called Pio Pio. He has the subway pretty well figured out so was astonished as we zipped past 96 Street. We'll get off at 72 Street and just double back,, he said. When the train finally stopped at the Columbus Circle transfer station, he realized the significance of Duke Ellington's song, Take the A-Train. It's an express train to Harlem which starts about 125th Street and it's the train the exhausted Black domestics took home after working all day for minimum wage in the City.
We transferred to the 1 train and went back up to 96 Street anyway. We enjoyed Pio Pio very much. One of my aunts was a principal at a Chinese school in Lima so when I saw the Peruvian style Chinese Rice, I knew what I was going to order. Kerry has never seen the Dakota so after dinner we walked over to Central Park to Strawberry Fields. As usual, the mosiac was packed with people leaving flowers and taking photos. We followed everyone else's lead and knelt behind "Imagine." We didn't realize until later, that there's a white rose in front of each of our knees, which from a distance look like the tip of shoes. It appears that we have stubby little legs. This is something I'm sure John Lennon never imagined.
I just got my photos downloaded to my iPad from the iCloud this morning. Because I'm using my phone as a hotspot, it can't do both that and be a phone. Yesterday afternoon we used WiFi at the Grand Central Library where I was finally able to upload my pictures. Phew.