Monday, January 5, 2015

New York!

Central Park on a calm wintry day. 
What's that? I forgot to share my New York pics with you? Let's address that omission right now!

The whole point of our trip to New York was to attend training to become leaders of the Family Connection program, so our first stop was in White Plains, NY, on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital built in 1894. This is where Dr. Alan Fruzzetti, the co-founder of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder shared his knowledge, enthusiasm, skills, and humour with us.

The Staff Annex, where we had our classes. 
Comprised of many Victorian buildings scattered over 200 beautifully groomed acres, the place was charming, especially the building where we held our classes.

I stepped outside during a break to take some pictures of the sadly deteriorating gentility. These old places are so expensive to maintain!

Lucky for me, though. I just love that craquelure and moss. But, as a photographer, I couldn't help seeing some dramatic potential.

Don't go walking alone at night. 
The course itself was wonderful - lots of sharing and learning, and a lecturer with a fantastic sense of humour. (Don't you find that humour makes it feel like you're not really learning, just enjoying?)
My first cousins once removed.
Aren't they just too beautiful to be real?
We were incredibly lucky to spend Sunday evening with my cousin Marcia (you've met her before) at a special choral service, before making our way into NYC on Monday morning.

Because we're trying to stretch our travel funds as far as possible, we found a pretty cheap hotel room, though we did want to be in Manhattan. This was the view from our room.

A pretty representative view, I should think.
There was no bar, no restaurant, no parking, no concierge. But the price and location were right. After checking in, we made our way to Central Park -- on a truly beautiful fall day.

I love that this massive, crowded city of skyscrapers and traffic jams has this oasis of nature and calm right at its heart. When I was a child, I pictured the park as a few blocks wide, with slides and swings, but it is so much more than that.

We didn't take a ride, but they were pretty to watch.
We wandered through the park from one corner to another, with no particular plan (though we were heading to our bus-tour stop). And then, just like that, we left the park and were back in the city.

I cannot get over the decoration on this building. Can. Not.

You know you're a hick when you take pictures of the garbage piles because they are mindbogglingly large.
As expected, there were crowds.

And traffic jams. There was no getting away from them.

Every two or three minutes, we would hear a siren from an emergency vehicle, and I couldn't imagine how they ever arrived at the critical site in time.

We finally found our tour bus and climbed aboard.

Looking into the bus. I just love the play of lights and colours here.
We decided to do the hop-on-hop-off tour to give us a general orientation. I had never been here before and Steve hadn't been here since he was a lad. The double-decker bus gave us great views.

Just look at all those cars. Can you imagine a fire truck trying to get through?
Driving down 7th Avenue and Broadway provided an iconic view of the city.

It goes on forever.
We boarded the bus at about 4:30 p.m., so the light was just fading to that golden glow.

The Empire State Building aglow. (From down on the street, you can't see the top.)
We ended up staying on the bus until we got to the stop to see the 9/11 Memorial. We got a little disoriented, but eventually found the site with its lovely and moving water display.

Our guide made a point of explaining that it was not "Ground Zero" which many New Yorkers found focused only on the World Trade Centre. The memorial, instead, is meant to remember all the loss and trauma of that horrific day.

By this time, my feet and hips were sore, so we stopped at a diner for a simple meal, then walked back to our hotel.

The next day, we had a slow start, heading out for brunch around 11 a.m.

A view of the street near our hotel.
We bought a three-trip subway pass each, and made our way down to Bryant Park, which was all dressed up for the holidays, with a Christmas market. And a carousel.

Carousels are simultaneously beautiful and horrifying. Like clowns.
It doesn't help that the horse looks like it's being stuck with a cattle prod.
From there, we worked our way back to the Rockefeller Centre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the United Nations building (Steve went there without me, while I had coffee and charged my phone).

The city was all gussied up!
We visited the Henri Matisse "Cut-Outs" special exhibit at the MoMA -- but no photography was allowed. One of the things that struck me there, as it has at other art galleries and museums, is that what really separates artists from the rest of us is that they do it. They break open that tube of paint, they start small, they cut, tear, pin, paste ... and they do it again and again and again until it feels right to them.
Blue Nude II, by Henri Matisse via Wikipedia
Matisse was quite disabled by the time he did the cut-outs, but he had his assistants pin and unpin, then repin each piece. There is an entire wall of the exhibit devoted to the famous blue nude artwork. On it, you see the many, many variations of paper cut just so, with pieces moved ever so slightly further or closer together. What looks like clumsy cutting was not. He kept at it until he was happy with it.

And, as I've remarked before, there is nothing like seeing the work of art itself, rather than prints or photos. I've seen this Klimt painting many times as a print.

Hope, by Gustav Klimt, at the MoMA
And I've always admired the vibrant colours, especially in contrast to the muted tones of the woman's skin, the composition, the blocks of gold. What I've never seen was this.

That colour is layered, even the gold. The texture changes from barely covered canvas to flower petals. The gold catches the light in different ways as you move around it. It is more alive.

I laughed when I saw this fellow doing what I had done moments earlier.

Alas, these weary bones couldn't keep up with my desire to keep seeing all the artwork. We'll have to come back again, for sure.

This is especially for my rainbow-loving niece, Diane.
But it would have taken wild horses to keep me away from the museum gift shop! Several small items came home with us to be stuffed into stockings or tucked under the tree.

When we stepped outside, we found that the sun had set and it was raining. Perfect for taking pictures!

After a slow, unexciting dinner (with really slow service, not sure if that's a typical New York thing or just our bad luck), we made our way to the Barrymore Theatre for our Broadway show!

I had loved the book, a story compellingly told from the perspective of an autistic boy. I was worried about how it would translate from the page to the stage, but needn't have. It was perfect.

The minimalist set.
I don't think I've ever seen a set that so elegantly worked for the story. I'm not going to describe it because it would be too hard. After the play, it was still raining and the lights were as beautiful as ever.

The next day was our last in the city.

Breakfast: I can't remember what it was called, but it was ah-maz-ing!
We had time to visit the Museum of Natural History, just half a block from our hotel. Steve, the wise one, decided to visit the regular installations, while I opted to see the special exhibit on natural disasters. Because I'm a voyeur.

What I hadn't counted on were the hordes of school kids.

They were loud, rude, excited, and EVERYWHERE! Next time, if it's during school hours, I'll stick to the regular exhibits.

I did see this, however.

I don't even know what this was, but found its 23-foot-long rib cage beautiful.
And this.

Look! Look how beautiful it is!

Nature makes some extremely beautiful stuff.

Then it was time to visit the gift shop (of course!), where we saw this really cool handrail.

Brass vertebrae polished by the shoppers.
From there, we hopped on the subway to travel as close to La Guardia as we could get before grabbing a taxi, both because it was cheaper and because, considering downtown traffic, it was faster.

Mosaic at the subway entrance near the Museum of Natural History.
Flying out over the city at sunset was a serendipitous accident for this photographer.

After all that excitement, it was good to get home, where our children dropped everything they were doing to greet us with bear hugs and serve us a fresh, hot dinner.

Just kidding. That must be happening on the other side of the black hole. Our kids acknowledged our presence and ate the meal we heated up, but it was Kane who damned near wet himself when he discovered that we were, in fact, STILL ALIVE AND HOME AND SITTING HERE AND PATTING MY NECK! OHMYGOD OHMYGOD! LET ME LICK YOUR EYEBALLS!

We're thinking of putting the kids into a kennel next time we go away. ;)


  1. New York City is one of my favourite trips I have ever taken! I would so love to go back -- and your post was so wonderful, and the pictures so fantastic, I kinda feel like I did. :)

    1. I would love to go back, too, but there are so many other places I want to see, and only so much money to go around.

  2. Love love LOVE the rainbow glass! :)
    I've done a few trips to New York, and I always love it. This makes me want to go back. The last time I went was with Jason when we were first dating, and I'm having a hard time believing that was 10 years ago!!

    1. It is hard to believe it was that long ago. If I were an heiress, I would totally have bought you a family set of those glasses.


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