Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saturday in New York City

We had the best day Saturday. After breakfast we headed out to Chelsea Market and the High Line in lower Manhattan.

The High Line was a railroad built on elevated tracks that served commercial businesses, such as Nabisco. In fact, the High Line actually ran through the Nabisco building, high above the streets below. Freight trains used to run right on the streets in New York, but so many pedestrians and horses were killed that the railroad decided to build up.

The High Line was abandoned in the early 1980's. Nabisco moved away and for quite some time, this was an abandoned area. In the fullness of time, nature, which abhors a vacuum, began filling in the tracks of the old High Line with grasses, flowers, and even a self-seeded apple tree. Conservationists organized and the High Line is now the elevated green space which you see above.

Chelsea Market is located in the former Nabisco complex, which encompasses an entire city block. It is now occupied by indpendent shops and a bakery and is truly a wondrous space. There are gourmet food stores, baked goods, candies, a produce market, a waterfall fed by a natural, underground spring, and lots of wonderful places to eat. We had already eaten breakfast, but I had a wonderful natural grapefruit soda with no sugar added. Unique and refreshing.

We bought lunch at the market and took it back to our hotel room for lunch followed by a much-needed nap. We had my favorite Courtland apples, whole-grain crackers, brie, and some ginger cookies with lemon filling. Yum.

We took a cab up to the fabulous Zabars on the Upper West side. Zabars is a gourmet market, deli, and kitchen ware store with a great deal of character. If you've ever seen the movie "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, there is a scene at Zabars in which Meg is in the wrong line and Tom Hanks, the big, bad ogre from the chain bookstore has to help her out because she has no cash.,default,pg.html

I picked up a tiny white syrup pitcher and a larger which pitcher for cream. I'm addicted to pitchers and would estimate that I probably own over 25 of them.

We had dinner at Niko's, a Greek restaurant on Broadway and 76th Street on the Upper West Side. We had avgolemono soup, a delicious chicken and rice soup with lemon in it and horiatiki (Greek country salad) with stuffed grape leaves. HOOOOOOOOOOPA! (Greek Hurray!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morning Star Restaurant New York City

George and Harry run the Morning Star Restaurant in Midtown West near our hotel. People think of New York City as this big monolith, a huge impersonal machine. Mew York City is really a collection of small neighborhoods much like yours or mine, only a lot more of them. The Morning Star is a neighborhood place.

A mother and a daughter come in for their regular breakfast. The little girl is about six and beautifully dressed with a huge red bow in her hair. She is Asian; her mother is white. They sit at the counter on stools that the daughter spins around and around. The daughter complains that she doesn't want to go to school. George looks into the kitchen at a large stack of dishes and acts delighted that she can stay and help him wash all the dishes. She picks up her backpack without complaint and heads out the door. "Hey, wait, who's gonna wash all these dishes?"

We eat delicious omlets, home fries, fresh-squeezed juice and toast. Harry waits on us. He has a goatee and a ponytail held in place with four precisely spaced rubber bands. He tells us that he is one of 8 kids and the only one born in America. All his siblings were born in Greece. "All of of us are educated, we all work in restaurants." George is fifteen years older than Harry. "I was a mistake, I think," he says, laughing.

Harry offers personal service. A touch on the shoulder with the coffee refill. "We all worked in the restaurant in Brooklyn when we were kids. Someone sees me and my brother in the back peeling potatoes. They call Child Protective Services. They come to interview us and my older brothers are smiling at the social worker. They say in Greek, still smiling, "If you complain, we kill you." The social worker tells my father that there are slavery laws. "What slavery...this is a family!"

Hungry diners come in, others are paying the check and leaving. Individual boxes of corn flakes and Rick Krispies are stacked high and a multi-layered yellow cake with chocolate frosting waits under the glass. Conversation rises and falls, coffee is refilled, juice is fresh squeezed. Horns sound on the street outside and the walk signal changes from Walk to Don't Walk over and over.

There are a million stories in the naked city.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Glory Days Diner Greenwich CT

On the way to New York City, we stopped at a diner in Greenwich, CT. It was the quintessential Jewish diner. I had matzoh ball soup and a roast beef sandwich. Oy vey!

Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes

We got to New York and took one of our monster long walks through the Upper West Side. Bruce estimates that we may have walked eight miles all together. First we walked through Central Park and then north on Central Park West. Then all the way back to our hotel at Columbus Circle.

Gourmet cupcakes are a huge deal in New York, to the extent that I've been reading about them on line, in magazines, and have even seen cupcake cookbooks in the bookstores. I confess to coveting these cupcakes. Coveting them, I tell you.

Imagine my gratification when I stumbled upon (my feet were getting pretty tired) Crumbs...the definitive cupcake place that started the entire craze. Oh my GOODNESS! I had a red velvet cupcake that you can see in the picture above and Bruce had a raspberry swirl. Sublime...that says it all.

Coliseum Pub

This is where we had dinner this evening. I had a fabulous panini sandwich and Bruce had a turkey burger. The Colseum is about four doors down from our hotel. It was so blustery in between the buildings this evening that my umbrella blew inside out. Fortunately, I had my black trench coat and wrapped myself up in a very cool scarf I bought near the Plaza Hotel from a street vendor. Five bucks. We were happy to find something close by our hotel.

The top of this building is residential space, with two store front windows and an awning indicating the restaurant. It is a very cozy space down three steps to the basement level, with the interior wall the orginal restored brick. Folks there looked to be a local crowd and not tourists, which suited us just fine.

Jerry Orbach

We were walking toward MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and stumbled upon this homage to one of my favorote actors, Jerry Orbach. Jerry was a Broadway actor for many, many years, but is best known to audiences as Detective Lennie Briscoe of Law and Order. A recent poll by TV Guide determined that 72% of all Law and Order fans judged Jerry to be their favorite actor in the 20-year series.

Jerry was also Frances "Baby" Houseman's father in another favorite of mine, Dirty Dancing. Sadly, both Jerry and Patrick Swayze, two stars of Dirty Dancing, have passed away from cancer, God rest their souls.

Starry, Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh's amazing work, Starry Night, also hangs at MOMA. I guess I was the only person on planet Earth who didn't realize that the pop song, "Starry, Starry Night" was about this painting until about three years ago.

The song played through my mind today as I gazed upon Vincent's work, the thick paint layed on with a palette knife and thought of his despair, his letters to his brother, Theo, and the fact that he was never recognized during his lifetime for the genius that he was. The despair he felt finally led to him taking his own life, which is the subject of this poignant song. If only he had waited for the fullness of time to show him all that God had planned.

As I saw the school children sitting in a circle today, enraptured by the words of a young, red-headed docent with wildly curling hair about this painting, I thought of those lyrics..."They did not listen, they did not know how, perhaps they'll listen now. All those children were listening...

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,
Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue,
morning field of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.


For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life,
as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

To see a slide show of Vincent's paintings and Don Maclean's haunting song, click here:

The View from West 58th Street and Broadway, New York City

Bruce and I are vacationing in New York City, following a wonderful time enjoying fall leaves in Connecticut. We had many little adventures, not the least of which has been that the report from my wonederful eye doctor, Dr. Gaudio, was fantastic. I went North thinking that I would have to have surgery in my right eye, following the repair of my left. What I found instead was that I received an excellent report, needed to come back in six months instead of three months and advised to, "keep doing what I've been doing." My eyesight has improved from 20/70 with contact lenses to 20/40...not too far away from perfect at 20/20.

Our pictures are all over the place, in the digi-cam, in the cell phone, and on the hard drive, so I won't be posting the trip in chronological order.

We're at our beloved Hudson Hotel in New York City:

I'll do a number of other entries, but right now I want to share about listening to that small, still voice within which is the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite paintings on earth is called Christina's World by the New England painter, Andrew Wyeth. I'm not specifically sure why I love it so much. It is poignant, to be sure. It evokes a sense of longing as I look at it, as well as a sense of triumph over personal struggle. The model for this picture was a neighbor of Mr. Wyeth's who was disabled due to polio. I also love the faded pink thirties-era dress.

Bruce and I visited the Museum of Modern Art today. There are many treasures there that I enjoyed communing with, not the least of which were Monet's water lillies, a self-portrait by Frieda Kahlo, and the exquisite "Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh. But Christina and her world remain my very favorite. I had no idea that this painting was at MOMA.

We reached the top floor and Bruce hit the button for the elevator for the ground floor after we'd finished looking at the art on the top floor. But that still, small voice said quietly, deep within, "You will miss something, take the escalator." And sure enough, as we turned the corner, there was Christina. I almost missed her.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Autumn House

I don't know that name of the woman on High Street in Western Branch who so lovingly decorates the exterior of her home for every season. But I feel like I know her and wish I had the nerve to ring her bell and tell her how much I enjoy her home.

Since I first saw it 11 years ago, I have made sure to go back and peep at it as often as I pass by. I find inspiration and feel her love for beauty and her sense of style. If I thought I wouldn't be caught, I'd be a peeping Thomasina so I could press my nose against the glass to see her living room decor. Don't you just know that it would be full of very special, homey things?

The Germans have a word that doesn't really translate well into English...gemutlich. Gemutlich is an adjective that means sort of cozy and homey, inspiring a feeling of warmth and family. This house makes me feel gemutlich. I feel grateful to the special person who decorates for the delight of the Portsmouth community. Please note the straw hat on the horse. LOL!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Life Imitates Art

I hope I can adequately explain what this is a picture of. Double-click on the pic to get a really good look.

I have a long, high-ceilinged, skinny hallway upstairs. Back in June, I was in Atlanta with my sister and we went to a Ballard's store outlet. Ballard's Designs is high end, but the outlet has amazing bargains.

What you see is a very tall painted canvas that I purchased there for $40. The effect is trompe l'oiel (fool the eye) and it really looks as though it is painted in on the wall. I've never seen anything else like it.

The table and chair in front are real, of course. The whole "scene" in the front, which echoes the canvas, was assembled from items I already had. I was amazed at how perfect a match the pitcher was.