• Upcoming trips



    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

    October 20. Thanks to the invitation of our friend Francia, who is a member, we went to the Diller-Quaile School of Music to listen to a chamber concert given by the Diller-Quaile String Quartet. The program was comprised of Haydn and Debussy quartets; played magnificently by very experienced and talented musicians in an intimate. and perfectly designed, music space. Chatting with the musicians after the concert added to a first class evening.

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Silver at The Museum of The City of New York

My friend, Barbara, had a rare gap in her busy schedule, so we took the opportunity to visit the silver exhibit at the City of New York Museum and have coffee in the plaza.

Theme of the exhibit is ‘Modern takes on some of the antique silver held in the Museum’s collection’. Here are pictures of the pieces which impressed me most. (enlarge them for detail):

Animated teapot – elegant but impractical.

 

Atlas reconfigured . . .

 

modern craftsmanship. Function? . . .

 

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Angled coffee set

 

Finely crafted soup tureen . . . . . .

 

. . . . . .but thoroughly impractical–see the beautifully detailed pasta motif inside!

 

Finally, an elegant bowl decorated with hypodermic syringes!

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41B Suffers Renovation

If you have wondered why I have not been so much in evidence this last week  or two, it is because my apartment has been in the throes of resuscitation. Urged on by Susan’s admonishments that I live in more sanitary and up-to-date surroundings and my own dismay at the mounting years of neglect, I made contact with Harry. He and his merry men have completed a major face-lift of the bath-, living- and bed-rooms.

All that awaits now, are new carpets for the foyer and bedroom and vertical blinds for the bedroom window. Here are some “before” pictures. I will post the “after” pictures when the blinds go up. (About two more weeks time, I’m told).:

My poor living room has to accommodate the bedroom furniture at the moment . . . . . .

 

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Bedroom in the throes . . . . .!

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Macy’s Fireworks and memories

When I was an urchin of ten or so, I remember begging my mother to let me have some discarded clothes for Guy Fawkes day, the fifth of November. I would sew or wire the jacket and trousers together and stuff the result with old newspapers. For the face, I’d buy a ha’penny mask, with an elastic band attached, from the sweet shop around the corner. Then I would ball up some more newspaper to the appropriate size and slip the elastic band over it to hold the mask in place. If no cloth cap was available for burning, I would fashion a pirate’s hat out of newspaper and stick that on top of the balled-up paper head.

Incongruous , or not, the resulting effigy satisfied my entrepreurnial requirements so I pinned a notice to its jacket, penned in my best handwriting; “A Penny for the Guy”. If I remember correctly, there was a perambulator at 57 Kimberly Avenue available for the borrowing at that time and I trundled my Guy Fawkes in it to Seven Kings railway station and touted for fireworks money. I would garner, perhaps, as much as ten pence on a good day–as well as a good deal of ridicule from younger passers-by. In those days, small bangers cost a ha’penny, larger ones a penny and canons cost as much as tuppence! Similarly, Catharine wheels cost a ha’penny, a penny or two pence according to size. Keeping my purchases to the cheapest offerings, I was able to acquire a respectable number of fireworks with which to impress (and, perhaps, scare) my school-mates.

My father, who shared my youthful delight in making things go “BANG” and the traditional burning at the stake of historical effigies, supervised the ordained destruction of my handiwork. He would stick an old broomstick into the ground in the garden, then tie my Guy to it and pile twisted newspapers and firewood at its newspaper feet. When family and friends were properly  gathered around, he would pour some paraffin on the pile and, from a safe distance, throw a lighted match at it.

The resulting roar of the flames engulfing my artwork  gave rise to as many involuntary ooh’s and ah’s as I remember at any official display I have seen since! My father usually bought the family a box of fireworks to be let off while the guy was burning. It included one or two rockets, which he fired from empty milk bottles, which would reach an incredible 30 feet up into the air, streaming a trail of golden sparks behind them. Then there were ‘jack-in-the boxes’, ‘Vesuvius’s’ and ‘jumping crackers’ to frighten the ladies with. Heaven on earth for little boys!

Like cigarettes today, fireworks were considered hazardous to one’s health and carried a warning. Quaintly it read: “Light the blue touch paper and retire immediately”! Very few of we onlookers were old enough to retire so we stood where we were, prepared, though, to jump back smartly if any sparks came our way.

The ha’penny days are long gone! I watched Macy’s firework extravaganza from the roof of the Waterford on Tuesday–60,000 rockets  at an average cost of $1,000 apiece were fired into the sky for half-an-hour or more. Very impressive. But I still preferred lighting my own ha’penny bangers!

Enlarge the pictures for best viewing:

. . oooooh!

 

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THE FINALE

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Queen’s transport

On our London trip, Christine and I made a special journey to the Queen’s gallery in Buckingham Palace to see the famous drawing collection. Unfortunately, the permanent collection has been replaced by an alternating one and the gallery was closed for the installation of a Canaletto exhibit. Not to be outdone, we visited the Royal Mews nearby to see the Queen’s carriages.  These pictures were taken on Christine’s pocket camera:

Plain . . . . .

 

. . . . . and fancy . . .

 

. . . detail . . .

 

. . . .  craftsmanship . . .

 

. . . . power train . . . .

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Humming Bird refuels in flight

While I was staying at Luba’s house in Philadelphia, I relaxed for some time on her back patio keeping an eye out for the fauna which reputedly make use of the garden. She has a resident fox and  two resident wood chucks. Deer pass through from time to time too. Unluckily, none of these appeared while I was sitting in the comfortable patio chair, a-watching. However, I did see several visits from a humming bird sporting a plumage of grey and white feathers which I don’t think I’ve seen before. I managed with patience to take these shots of him refueling:

. . . approach . . . .

 

. . . alignment . . . .

 

. . . HOOK UP!   . . . . .

 

These proceedings were observed with a critical eye by a Cardinal from a nearby feeder:

 

. . . . Judge!

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Wedding In Philly

Christine’s nephew, Edward, married Isadore (Izzy) in Philadelphia. Here are some of the pictures: click on them for the best detail.

 

The stunning bride in all her glory!

 

Happy Dad (Roger) and daughter, on the way to the church

 

The handsome groom

 

The groom’s sister (Lauren) and Mother, Luba

 

Christine, (Groom’s aunt) reading to the gathered guests . . .

 

Luba’s grandson, Christopher 

 

Bride’s cousin . .

 

One of the bridesmaids

 

The bride’s sister, Maid of Honor . . .

 

Christopher helps Teddy (Lauren’s spouse)

 

Roger, bride and bride’s brother, Roger, pose for the photographer

 

. . .sealed with a kiss . . . .

 

The happy newly-weds!

 

The officiating reverend

 

. . . and. finally, the bride, serene and confident!

 

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Canterbury Cathedral

Continuing from the last post, these are some of our impressions of the ancient cathedral. Chaucer’ Pilgrims made their way here in 1387–mainly to see Thomas a Becket’s shrine–It was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1536, however, and modern pilgrims can only see a symbolic candle which marks the spot where it was originally.

The cathedral is a massive structure. It took more than 500 years to build– The mind boggles at the craftsmanship and solid labour involved in its making!

 

. . it is undergoing extensive repair and a good deal of the exterior is obscured by scaffolding . . .

 

Those old craftsmen left not a piece of stone uncarved . . . .

 

Beautifully carved stone columns support the massive ceiling . . .

 

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The cloisters . . .

 

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Stark symbol of the age . . .

 

. . .someone left their hat and coat behind–too late to retrieve them now, I should think? . . .

 

The gloves don’t look very comfortable? . . .

 

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Guardian sculptures

 

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The stained-glass windows are magnificent works of art . . .

 

. . .as is the ceiling . . .

 

Ceiling of the bell tower . . .

 

The choir begins to form . . .

 

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The song commences.

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