Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 64- July 16

Sally's Day

A trip to Brooklyn

I travelled to Brooklyn today to visit Prospect Park.  After Olmsted and Vaux finished designing Central Park, they were given a commission to design a second park in Brooklyn- Prospect Park.  They enjoyed this project more because they were free to determine the shape and design of the park without the restrictions they faced with Central Park (e.g. the shape of Central Park was pre-determined, they were required to include 4 traverse roads and a mall). 

Prospect Park is smaller and more or less a traingle in shape.  It is more "natural" than Central.  I liked the long hiking trail through the woods.  It was quieter (no traffic noise) and more woodsy- smelled the pine trees, heard the birds.  The park includes a beautiful meandering lake.  I felt I had been to the "country" for a couple of hours.  The park deserves another visit on a cooler day (it was 94 degrees) in the fall when the leaves are changing. 

I finished a quilt top- which I promptly sent back to Minnesota, as I can't quilt it here.

The Grand Army Plaza at the park entrance.  It is HUGE.  The car in front gives some scale to its size.

 Into the woods.  There are several miles of wooded trails- beautiful and quiet.

The lake- which they designed to look "natural," although every view and foot of shoreline was carefully designed.

Quilt top I finished.  It is 605  2 1/2" squares with a colorful triangle sewed in the corner of each square.  It was lots of fun to sew, although it used up only a small amount of scraps.  42" x 53".
I will trim off the edges  before binding, but decided to wait until I'm ready for that because the edges all be bias when they are trimmed.


Day 63- July 15

Sally's Day

Christ Church and Clybourne Park

I worshipped at Christ Church Methodist Church today.  I attended the 9 a.m. service, which was held in a chapel and was attended by about 50 people.  It is shorter and more informal than their 11 a.m. service.

The minister's sermon incorporated references to many current events, and was quite interesting.  The worshippers form a circle around the altar for communion and the closing hymn and benediction.  I liked that arrangement, but it wouldn't work for a larger group.

Clybourne Park won the Tony for best play this year.  The play is in 2 acts, which occur in the same living room, fifty years apart.  In the first act (I believe set in 1958), a couple is selling their home.  Their son has committed suicide after suffering PTSD from war experiences.  They sell to an African-American couple, which causes an uproar amongst their all-while neighbors, who fear "white flight."

By the time the second act occurs, the neighborhood has become all African-American, A white couple has purchased the home with plans to tear down the house and replace it with a larger,fancier house. Now, the A-A neighborhood is in an uproar, fearing that the character of the neighborhood will change, and be taken over by upscale yuppies. 

Wonderful play- lots of humor to break the tensions of the conflicts between the characters. The playwright effectively shifts your sympathy amongst  the characters. 

Rumor was that Morgan Freeman was in the audience, although I did not see him to confirm this.

I had an African-American client a couple of years ago, who had had the same experience moving into an all-white neighborhood in one of our suburbs- of course, I was surprised that "nice" Minnesotans had treated people the same way.

Detail of Christ mosaic in the dome above the altar.

Outside of church

The church reminded me of Easten Orthodox churches I have visited with all of the gold and mosaics.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 56 to 65 July 9 to July 17

Al's days

On July 9 I flew to Minnesota.  My first purpose was to go back for a dedication of the statue that our Rotary club is sending to be installed at the entrance to the Nagasaki Peace Park and Nuclear Holocaust Museum.  You can go to the St. Paul Rotary website to read more about this.

The ceremony was at St. Paul City Hall and Courthouse.  It was well attended and went well.  We got a view on Channel 11 news.  You can see it at

It is about 6 minutes and 20 seconds into the broadcast.

Here are some photos.

I spent the next couple of days working around the house, being a home owner. 

Friday, July 13, Amy and I went canoeing on the St. Croix river.  It was a lot of fun.  It was fun to be canoeing on such a pretty river, but it was mostly fun to do something with my daughter.  I do enjoy spending time with her.

The other reason for going back to Minnesota was to see Amy and her team compete in the Dragon Boat races at Lake Phalen.  She is the captain of the team sponsored by Chinese Americans of Minnesota (CAM).  She did a lot of dragon boat racing when she was in Miami and has used that knowledge and skill to captain this team.  It was fun to be there and see the team race.

Starting the race

The team

It was good to be home, the best part was to see Amy for a while.  But, time came to head back to New York.  I left Minnesota on time on Airtran, but did not get to Atlanta on time for my connecting flight .  Evidently, there were thunderstorms and wind shear in Atlanta.  We flew around for a while and then started to get low on fuel, so were diverted to Knoxville.  We sat in the plane for 2 and half hours while they refueled the plane.  We got to Atlanta about 7 at night.  There was one more flight to New York, but they were overbooked.  So, I spent the night in Atlanta and flew out on Tuesday morning.  It was good to be home, I can tell you.

Sally's comments
I wrote separate entries for the days through the 16th. Al returned on the 17th, and I have no pictures for that day.  We went to Ice Age 3 in the evening.  Not as good as 1 or 2  The animals need to move again, of course, and the evil characters in this movie are a bunch of animal pirates.  The squirrel and his acorn are the most fun (perhaps they should give him his own movie?).  There was a wonderful short before the feature, which starred Maggie Simpson (the baby), and her trials and tribulations of going to day care. 

My recommendation- go for the Simpson short film, and don't have high expectations for Ice Age III.
A pleasant afternoon.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 62- July 14

Sally's Day

Sew and See MacBeth

I spent the day sewing a quilt top, and then went to see Alan Cummin perform a one-man rendition of MacBeth at the Lincoln  Center.  Alan Cummin is a wonderful Scottish actor, probably best known for introducing Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.

MacBeth was set in a mental hospital, to which he has been committed following the events in the play.  The whole stage was one room in the hospital with three beds, a bathtub, and a wheel chair.  Cummin played all of the characters.  The whole play lasted about 1 hr, 5 minutes, so you can tell they really cut out a lot.  He presented the story to show his descent into madness.  It was an interesting presentation, but it required really knowing the play in order to figure out what was happening throughout.  I occasionally got lost. 

The theater where MacBeth was performed is located at the southwest corner of Central Park. The theater is on the 5-7 floors.  There are huge windows in the lobby. The picture above ic Columbus Circle, with a statue of Columbus at the center. 

This picture is overlooking Central Park.  It doesn't come through well (the picture was taken through the window), but the sun shining on the buildings on the east side of the park was lovely.


Day 61- July 13

Sally's Day

Museum of Modern Art and Back to Central Park

Today, I went to the Museum of Modern Art for the first time during our stay.  It was crowded.

In the evening, I attended the New York Philharmonic free concert in Central Park.  They played the same piece we heard on Memorial Day, but I enjoyed it more this time.  The crowd was over 20,000 people.  Although it was a wonderful experience, it was not the best place to hear music- people walking back and forth throughout the evening, clapping between movements of the symphony, and the orchestra is off in the distance.

I liked this painting by Georgia O'Keefe because it was not the skulls and large flowers we usually see from her.

This painting by Paul Gaugain of three puppies made me smile.  I don't know if he intended that after the puppies finish their milk, they will then drink the three glasses of wine and have some fruit.

VanGogh's Starry Night was the most popular picture in the museum.  The swirls in the sky really draw you into the painting.

Another Matisse.  Makes me feel like dancing.

I love Josef Albers paintings because they make me think of quilts.  He painted several hundred paintings of squares.

Here is the orchestra- taken with my telephoto lens.  Alec Baldwin was the announcer, and I saw him the day before in To Rome With Love.  Plus the orchestra played Fountains of Rome.

 Here is the crowd- it gives you an idea of how far from the stage I was- plus there were at least this many people behind me. 

Two months in New York have passed in a flash.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 60- July 12

Sally's Day (Al is still in MN)

Central Park (again) and a movie.

I saw "To Rome with Love," Woody Allen's latest movie.  He had 4 plots in the movie.  It seems with multi-plot movies, the characters or stories overlap so that there is a relationship between the stories - not so here.  The only commonality was that they all occurred in Rome. One story occurred in a single day, another in a  week, and one over a period of about a month.  It seemed that he had 4 short films in his brain, and decided to put them all together.

I thought it was amusing and entertaining enough to spend time in a cool theater on a hot summer afternoon.  Perhaps in his last years he is starting to tour the world- first, Paris; now, Rome. Perhaps next a film set during the Winter Carnival  in St. Paul.  I don't remember a Woody Allen movie set in the winter.

Then on to Central Park.  Today was John Lennon day for me.  First,  stopping to photograph the Dakota (1 West 72nd Street, corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West) - supposedly named the Dakota because at the time it was built it was so far from the main part of the city that it seemed as far away as the Dakota's. 

Then across the street to Strawberry Fields.  After Lennon's death, Yoko Ono donated $1,000,000 to the Park, which was used to restore the area directly across the street from the Dakota. The area was then named Strawberry Fields, and the Imagination mosaic installed in his honor.  I believe he may be the only contemporary writer with this honor in the park.

The Dakota

Imagine mosaic.  Someone had placed a single strawberry in the middle above the word.

Strawberry Fields- which is actually four lawn areas separated by groves of trees.

One of the many horse-drawn carriages which give tours of the park.  The horse is drinking from the fountain.

The boat pond- you can rent a row boat and then spend a hour or two rowing around this algae-covered pond 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 58- July 11

Sally's Day

Today's Art Appreciation was at the Frick Museum (70th Street and 5th Avenue; free admission with Walker Museum membership).

The Frick is sort of a 2 for 1 experience.  The museum was the home of Henry and Adelaide Frick.  He made his money in coal, and built the house is about 1911. He collected art, which he hung throughout the home.  His will provided for the establishment of the museum when Adelaide died, which occurred in 1931.  The museum is a wonderful home to visit. The paintings appear to be hung as they were when it was home. Since they are in a home environment, they do not have descriptions on the wall next to the work. Instead, you receive a tape recorder, and listen to descriptions of each work.   No photos are allowed, so I purchased cards, and took pictures of them. I enjoyed touring the house as much as I enjoyed the art. It is a small museum, but well worth a couple of hours.

The next stop was Purl Soho (459 Broome Street) - a shop in Soho, with yarn and fabric.  It had been recommended by several people, and I was eager to go there.  A very attractive store (they also have a good website).  They have lots of plain fabric and Liberty of London.  I didn't buy anything, but now know what they have.

A more fun store was the Museum of Modern Art Design Store (near Spring and Broadway).  They have lots of jewelry, kitchen utensils, and china.  I kept saying to myself "wish I needed that" "great design."  In the front of the store, they have lots of little things.  Most exciting to me- a variety of key chains $6-$20.  I have been looking for a pretty and sturdy key chain since we got here. Suddenly, I had 5 to choose from.  "MOMA" is engraved on the metal. A great buy- something I needed, good price, well-designed.  I haven't yet been to the MOMA, but have it on my agenda for this week or next.

 Outside of the Frick Museum

Purl Soho quilting and knitting shop

This was my favorite painting at the Frick- a self-portrait of Rambrandt.  The commentary stated that he made himself much taller and larger than he actually was, and also made his hands much larger than his actual hands.  I wonder what parts of myself I would emphasize in a self-portrait.

This bust by Joseph Chinard (1809) looked (to me) a lot like Elvis Presley.  The clerk at the shop said she thought this fellow was much more handsome.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day------ July 10

Sally's Day
My first outting of the day was the Book Club at Bryant Park- Madame Bovary.  The moderator for the event was Karen Thompson Walker.  Her first book, The Age of Miracles, has just been published.  There were about 60 women  and 1-2 men.  She told us that Flaubert established modern realist narration in the novel.  She also commented that the book contains a lot of people behaving badly.  I agree-  the book is full of unlikable characters;there are only 1-2 sympathetic people (the maid and the daughter).  I wouldn't care to spend time with any of the others. Lots of modern jargon comes to mind- manic depressive, dysfunctional family, insatiable need- to describe Emma. Although the book is set in the 1850's, Emma could be living among us today.

I recommend the book, but would not have picked it up to read without the book club.  The next book is Mill on the Floss  by George Elliot.

I took a picture of the entrance to the women's public restroom- a 4 foot high urn of fresh flowers.  The prettiest, tidiest public restroom I have ever been in.

I read on the Public Library patio for an hour, and then went home.

In the evening, I went to "Ghost."  The most interesting thing was the staging.  They projected locations throughout NYC on three sides of the stage- making it possible to have scenes in a variety of locations.  In one scene, Sam (the murdered boyfriend) appears to walk through the door.  In another, Oda May (the psychic) is transformed into Sam. A third is in the subway, with Sam and another ghost jumping on and off the projected train.

The story followed the movie closely- including the pottery wheel scene, and repeated use of "Unchained Melody."  I don't know why the writers felt the need to make it a musical.  The songs added nothing to the story-  before Sam dies, Sam and Molly sing several songs about their love. After he dies, they sing about how they miss each other.

If you are a fan of "Ghost,"  watch the movie again.  Going to the restroom at Bryant Park and reading some of Madame Bovary would be a much better use of time.

Karen Walker Thompson

The entrance to the women's restroom in Bryant Park- a 4-foot high urn with fresh flowers. The prettiest and cleanest public restroom I have ever been in.

Oda May

Day 56- July 9

Sally's Day

My day started with going with Al to LaGuardia for his trip to Minnesota.  It takes a little more than an hour on the city bus.  While on the bus, I purchased a ticket to Alan Cummins one-person performance of Macbeth on Saturday.  It may be quite interesting or quite weird.  I will find out on Saturday.

Next, a stop at Target on the way home.  I took along my carry-on suitcase for my purchases-which was quite helpful in taking my purchases home on the bus.

Target is on the second floor of a multi-floor shopping mall.  I can't remember if I have written about the verticalness of Manhattan.  Many deli's and fast food restaurants have  their dining room on the second floor.  I have even been in a 3-story McDonalds. One grocery store we go to is half in the basement and half on the street-level floor. It has an elevator to take your cart up and down. The local Barnes and Noble only has its entrance at street level.  There are two levels to the store- both below street level.   Our favorite movie theater is below street level. The ticket office is on the street level, and then you take an escalator down to the theaters.
So life here is full of up's and down's.  (I realize that statement will make you groan.  I jsut couldn't resist).

I stayed home for the afternoon- sewing, and on the internet.

I spent the evening at All Souls Church serving  the meal for homeless people.  I saw many of the same folks I served last week.  About 80% of the guests are men.  There was one girl, about 12 years old, who appeared to be with her mom.

And now home for the first of the  last six episodes of The Closer. 


Banner showing stores on each floor of the 4-floor mall.

Bridge from the parking ramp and entrance to Target.  The inside is like every other Target.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Days 52-55, July 5- July 8

Day 52- July 5
Al's Day

Today we went to see "Over the Rainbow".  It is about the last concert of Judy Garland in London, not her actual "last" concert, in December of 1968.  In this play, she is portrayed as a drug addicted, irresponsible, alcoholic wreck.  The actress did a very good job and gave intense performance.  However, it was not at all sympathetic to Ms. Garland.  I was also concerned that there was some homophobic statements about her popularity with gays.  I suppose it was supposed to represent attitudes in 1968, but it still bothered me.

 I have to say I far preferred the play about Judy Garland done by the Minnesota History Theater.  It went much more into her history to explain how she got like she was.  The Broadway play just made it look like she was an out of control drug addict.  By the end of the play, I was ready to be done with the histrionics.

Afterward we went to a good Japanese restaurant.  We then went to get some material to use for the unveiling of the copy of the Vision of Peace that the St. Paul Rotary club will be send to Nagasaki.  Sally will be making this veil and I will bring it for the ceremony at the St. Paul City Hall/Ramsey County Courthouse on Tuesday, July 10, 2012.  It is at 5 PM if anybody is interested.

Sally's Day

I enjoyed hearing the Judy Garland songs in the play, but did not enjoy seeing 2 hours of Judy Garland being a self-destructive, rude, hysterical person.  I don't think we got any insight into why she behaved the way she did.  I did enjoy the fictional character of Anthony, her accompanist.  The play is set primarily in her London hotel room, where Anthony comes to prepare for the performance with her.  He was not an "enabler" to her many foibles, and made huge efforts to be firm and focused on what she needed to do.

I thought the Japanese restaurant was OK (Zendo at 34th and 9th), but would travel all that way for it again.

I found the fabric store (Paron) on the web, where many people had described its excellent service and low prices.  Perhaps the prices were low for NYC, but I am accustomed to JoAnne and Mill End when I am looking for inexpensive fabric.   So to pay $5.25/yard was a bit painful.  The clerk asked why we  if we had a beautiful statue we would want to cover it up with fabric. 

Day 53- July 6

Al's Day
Today we went to see "Mama Mia".  Much more uplifting and enjoyable.  Unlike the movie, the singing was excellent.  It was very enjoyable.  I would have been happy for the play to go on for another hour or two.

After the play, we went to a very good Turkish restaurant.  Then to home.

Both yesterday and today were very hot.  We did a lot of walking.   We were tired by the time we got home.  We walk a lot in New York.  This is both by design and necessity.  In New York, unless you are very rich, you have to walk places.  The transit system is excellent, but it doesn't come to your door. 

Sally's Day

It seems like Mama Mia has been around forever- so it is odd that it has taken us so long to actually see it.  I saw the movie.  Fortunately, the performers at the play are much better singers.  The dancing was okay, but not spectacular.  I still wonder how the writers came up with the idea of incorporating Abba songs into a story about a single mother in Greece. 

I looked up Abba on the internet. I learned that the group was two married couples (who later both divorced), and their name was an acronym of the first letters of their first names.  I have heard that they are the most successful export Sweden has ever had.  When we were in Stockholm in 2009, they were building an Abba museum.

I enjoyed the Turkish food. I don't know why I don't make shepherd's salad at home- it is just chopped tomatoes and cucumber with a vinegar and oil dressing and feta cheese. 

Most of my at home time is being spent assembling a summer quilt (is that an oxymoroon?).  I am making it in units so that I only have one or two long seams- especially important in a small apartment.

Day 54- July 7

Al's Day

We had lunch with a woman we met while volunteering sorting clothes at a local church.  She and her husband met us at another Turkish restaurant that they selected.  It was, again, very good.  I wonder if there is any type of cuisine that you cannot get in New York.  However, I have yet to find Minnesota type chow mien.  You know, the type with hard noodles.

After that, we went to buy some fabric that Sally will tell you about.

Later that day, we went to see an Indian movie, "Bol Bachchan".  It was quite entertaining.  Our basic understanding of Indian culture and the conflict between Hindus and Muslims helped us to understand some of the comedy, but we are sure we missed some other stuff.  There is a theater near us that seems to show mainly Indian movies, so I expect that at least I will be a frequent visitor.

Sally's Day

It's a Kung Fu movie- no, it's a romance- no, it's a comedy- no, it's a musical. Actually, it's all four  because it is a typical Bollywood movie- which has something for everyone. Action, romance, comedy, and huge Busby Berkely type musical numbers.  We were the only people in the theater who were not of Indian descent, and the snack counter offered samosas and tea, along with the usual popcorn and soda. 

The plot revolves around a young man who adopts the name of a famous Indian movie star (Amitabh Bachchan) to hide his actual identity as a Muslim.  As usual, the plot gets quite complicated as the lies pile up.  At one point, he needs to have a mother (he is an orphan), and his friends provide him with 3 mothers, who all show up at the same time.  In real life, the actor is Bachchan's son; the father appears in a musical number at the beginning of the show.   I recommend this movie (or any other Bollywood movie) for an evening of silly fun.

We also went to B and J Fabrics in the fashion district.  Al had given me a gift certificate from there for Valentine's Day.  If you want to see beautiful, expensive, imported fabrics,  it is quite fun.  It is not a great place for quilt fabric.  The staff seemed rather elitist.   I bought several pieces of Liberty of London fabrics, which are not in the stores at home.  Much to my delight, when I got home, I discovered that the 1/2 yard pieces were 22-24 inches and the 1 yard piece was at least 1 1/4 yards.  Perhaps one can be both elitist and generous. I will simply enjoy looking at this fabric until it inspires me to sew something.
Day 55- July 8

By Al

Today we went to the Brick Presbyterian Church.  It is an old and big church on Madison Avenue.  It was pretty traditional.  One of the ministers did serious vowel extensions, which is pretty irritating.  The article in Wikepedia has the following statement, "Vowel extension refers to the elongation of vowel sounds, especially in the final syllable of words and sentences. A bit can be pleasing; too much is distracting."  The minister, and for that matter all public speakers, would be well to take heed of this.  They had a college student interning as the organist.  Unfortunately, she could not keep a consistent beat, which is one of my pet peeves.  So, we won't be going back.

After wards we went to brunch at Hospoda.  This is the restaurant in the Czech National Building near us.  It was very good.

My lunch

Sally's lunch

We then went to a free comedy show in Central Park.  It was good, but as with all comedy shows, it varied with the different comedians.  But, it was entertaining and free.  There are many free things to do in New York.   This is a nice feature of this city. 

Sunday night I packed for my trip back to Minnesota.  I will be in Minnesota for a week to do the celebration over the statue that is going to Nagasaki.  Also, Friday Amy and I are going canoeing.  And, on Sunday, Amy and the CAM dragon boat team will be racing at Lake Phalen.  It will be good to see Amy again.  I do miss her.  Unfortunately, I will miss Sally while I am gone. 

Sally's Day

Brick Church was beautiful.  However, I think the minister chose a difficult passage for her text.  It was the story of King David from 2 Samuel conquering another country, and message was unclear to me. 

I enjoyed lunch, and recommend the restaurant.  The service was  excellent.  The kitchen is in the basement, along with the restrooms.  The kitchen is open so you can watch meals being prepared while you wait your turn.  It would be fun to eat down there and have the cooking for entertainment.  It is on East 73rd Street (I think the address is 315 East 73rd).  The menu is small- which I find a plus in decision-making.  Also, I think it gives some assurance that the chef will be making things that he/she is really good at.  I also recommend the bread.  I would enjoy just sitting there with some of their bread and a Czech beer.

Central Park is always great fun.  It seemed a bit odd to be watching stand up comedians at 2 in the afternoon in a park.  Lots of humor focusing on life in New York- small apartments, unemployment, expensive stuff, etc.

I continue to be amazed at women's shoes here.  People walk miles and miles- and yet I see  most women wearing flip flops,  incredibly high heels, and lots of platform shoes.  I assume that business is very good at podiatrists  and foot massage.