Last day and coming home

I spent my last day with Yona. First we went to Beilinson Hospital where Yona had a brief appointment. The hospital is enormous, very modern looking and filled with people walking in the corridors. I’m used to large hospitals; we have them here in Pittsburgh; but I’ve never seen so many people in the hallways. We got to the Dr.’s reception room where a woman lying on a gurney and her daughter were already waiting. Two more women, only one a patient, walked in while we waited. Then the daughter’s husband and another family member came in along with the family of the other patient. Yona said this always happens: you go to see your doctor with your entire family and when you are hospitalized the entire family comes with food. That explained all the people in the hallways.

Yona lives near the Mediterranean in an area that narrowly borders the West Bank. We drove toward another checkpoint leading to the West Bank city of Tul Karm, only a short distance from Netanya. We did not enter Tul Karm but turned into an Israeli settlement filled with lovely homes and gardens that borders it. When the settlement was first developed it was considered high risk. Protected by the border wall, two electric fences, a no-mans land and a guarded gate, it has become a highly desirable location where children can walk home from school by themselves and play outside without constant adult attention.

Our next destination was a nearby Israeli-Arab village where we met with the principal of the school, whom Yona knew. She doesn’t really know everyone; it just seems that way. This village did not have the neat gardens and numerous trees we saw in the previous settlement. We arrived as school was letting out and saw lots of children walking in the streets.

After another lunch of hummus and falafel at an Arab restaurant we drove along the coast and looked at two more schools, this time boarding schools. I don’t know how much I could focus on my studies with the Mediterranean nearby.

It was a long day and I was happy to get back to Yona’s house and rest for awhile. My taxi came at 10pm for a 1am departure. The airport was filled with groups of kids waiting to go through security. To my amazement and pleasure I was invited to sit and security would come to me. What a change from our airports, of which I have more to say. I got through all the preliminary questions and the inspection of my bag. Clutching passport and boarding passes I went through the usual x-raying of my carryons, again with no waiting. They really gave me special treatment. I’ve decided it pays to walk around with a cane.

My plane arrived at JFK at 6am. I asked for a wheelchair and this made it much easier. I hope never to go through JFK again, but, if necessary, I wouldn’t hesitate to get a wheelchair again. My next plane (to Pittsburgh) was supposed to leave at 2:59pm. I love these time designations; like they are meaningful. Anyway, I had already arranged to meet with Renee. We each took our respective subways and met in the middle of Queens where we found a pleasant Hispanic restaurant and had a second (and third) breakfast. After a couple of hours I returned to Kennedy and she went home.

I got to the airport to find my plane had been canceled. I was standing in line so long I finally asked for another wheelchair. American Airlines put me on a Delta flight scheduled for 7pm. The wheelchair lady (very nice, as was the other one) took me to the other terminal where I found that the plane they put me on had already been canceled. They put me on another one, but that also got canceled. This time I stood in line a long time only to find I would have to wait until Sunday to get on a plane. The alternative they offered was an 8am flight from JFK to Atlanta and then a flight to Pittsburgh that would arrive at 4:15pm Saturday. I couldn’t deal with it. I went to Renee’s apartment where I slept like a rock then got on a 9:50am Megabus and arrived in Pittsburgh at 5:30. I have another nasty story about my suitcase, but I finally got it.

Pictures to come.

Home again

opera outsideI never told you about my last few days in New York. Saturday evening we went to Lincoln Center to see HD Opera Outdoors. The plaza in front of the opera house was filled with chairs and a large screen set up on the building. The performance was La Traviata, the same one I had seen a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it just as much the second time.

On Sunday I went to Brooklyn with C. We started at the Brooklyn Museum then walked over what seemed like half of Brooklyn. She wore me out, but I love being with her. Monday I went to lunch with Sybille and then went to the Eldridge Street Synagogue Museum., where we were given a tour of this wonderfully restored old building.

Tuesday I got up very early, 4:30 am, and got on the 6:30 bus back to Pittsburgh. Everything was great until we were almost here and got into a terrible traffic tie-up. I think I won’t take the bus again: probably back to the train. I have two weeks here in the ‘burgh then I’m off to Chicago and Door County; art camp again.

Falling behind again, sorry

Folk art on 95th St.

Folk art on 95th St.

It’s Saturday and I can hardly remember what happened last week. I know I should write every day. I met Julia on Wednesday and we went to the Museum of Art and Design, spending the entire afternoon looking at gorgeous glass and jewelry with a few beautiful wood objects. We parted for supper, Julia going to the theater and I went back to the Candle Cafe for another lovely dinner. But to tell you a secret, what really drew me back was the Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger across the street that had walnut bread. I will go almost anywhere for walnut bread that doesn’t have raisins or cranberries.

Rain on Thursday did not keep me in the apartment. After I photographed the folk art building above, I went over to the West Side to the Museum of Biblical Art that had a wonderful exhibit derived from subjects in the Bible. Again I spent hours. There were a few books and many other wonderful drawings, paintings and paper cuts. I finished the day back at the apartment and did not go out for dinner.

Friday morning I cleaned the apartment: Renee was coming home and I had been my usual sloppy self. I removed all my junk except for a few discreet piles, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and vacuumed up my crumbs, which were all over. Then I shopped and prepared to make us dinner. Anyone who loans me an apartment for 2 weeks in such a choice location deserves at least that much from me.

Renee with a Russian crown.

Renee with a Russian crown.

Today we went to the village to a street fair, and, marvelously, there were Mozzarepas. We were good and shared one, allowing us to have lunch later in the afternoon.

Very New York Days

chair person

I met Rose for coffee first thing Monday morning. Not talked out after more than an hour we agreed to meet for dinner on Tuesday, and I walked over to the Met where I always have unfinished business. I’ve never been able to see the entire place.

I went directly to the roof garden frequently the site of interesting or fun exhibits. This one had an interesting concept, certainly not fun, but as often occurs with contemporary conceptual art, the execution fell far short of the idea. When I got tired of sitting there I went down to African Art, always worth seeing. The tiny (about 3 inches) ceramic chair above, stopped me, possibly adding more ideas for that next book. Then the shop called to me. Last week I saw a book I wanted but didn’t want to carry it. I resolved to buy it, then found another book I wanted. I solved my problem by shipping both of them.

Rose called and asked me to come to her apartment about 5 o’clock to meet two interesting neighbors. Sandra is a self-taught specialist on Inuit art, who comes from Chicago. We had lots to talk about and hope to see each other again. Larraine was another interested elder. I think we make Rose, who is comparatively young, feel better about aging.

Tuesday morning I went for a haircut, then went to the West Side to meet Phyllis, with whom I made very exact meeting plans. I arrived early and stopped at the Folk Art Museum, which had a show of the work of Bill Traylor that added another bit to my book problem. Once you begin really thinking about something everything seems to add to it.

Our eventual destination was a movie, but first Phyllis and I went to lunch at Bar Boulud, an expensive, happening restaurant, not my usual kind of place. I managed to find a salad I could eat–beautiful and tasty.

Lobster salad, I can give up meat easily but lobster is another matter.

Lobster salad, I can give up meat easily but lobster is another matter.

Then we went to see Blue Jasmine, the new Woody Allen film. I think it was very well done, but I hated Jasmine so much I would have walked out after the first ten minutes if I had been alone.

Dinner was with Rose at the vegan Candle Cafe. It was great, also beautiful and tasty. And we still haven’t finished talking.

Two movies, more visiting

George Washington Bridge from the Cloisters. The buildings are in Fort Lee, where I used to live.

George Washington Bridge from the Cloisters. The buildings are in Fort Lee, where I used to live.

Friday was supposed to be another visit with Mary. We were going to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or go to see The Butler. Life intervened and I was on my own. I went to the Met, photographed some portraits then went to a movie, “The Artist and the Model”. I’m trying to pick movies I won’t be able to see in Pittsburgh. It was a pretty movie, but needed to go deeper, much deeper.

Saturday was a total screw-up. Phyllis and I were going to Governor’s Island. I thought we should meet at the ferry terminal, but I wasn’t too clear about where. I got there and couldn’t find Phyllis. I sat and waited for more than an hour watching a wonderful parade of costumed people going to the Island. It turned out Phyllis got there even earlier, got on the ferry and went to the island. By the time I stopped waiting the line for the ferry was too long. I just left and went shopping. Maybe I’ll try again next week.

Today I met Ellen on the High Line. We walked the entire finished part and looked at the last part being worked on. It was a perfect day for walking up there, mostly overcast, a few drops of rain, cool and pleasant, making for a great visit. Afterward another movie: Storytelling. Good film, could have had a little more editing. Sometimes we are so in love with our creations we fail to see them clearly.

Wednesday, Thursday


Met Phyllis at a bus stop and we took a very long ride to the Cloisters. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, I hated the bus ride and I thought I had seen all the renaissance religious art I ever wanted to see, but– amazing–I found inspiration for my next book. Those heads sitting on the altarpiece spoke directly to me. More about this, probably not until October.

We returned from the Cloisters on the subway; a much quicker trip. I walked around to some bead shops, returned to the apartment for a nap then met C for dinner. I am thoroughly enjoying visiting with all my friends.

Excitement about the new book kept me from falling asleep. Usually I get so tired from all the walking I fall asleep immediately. I am almost ready to go home sooner so I could go to work. Today I’ll go looking for more images.

Thursday was another long visit; this time with Laura. I haven’t seen her for several years. We had lots of catching up to do.

Trying to catch up

Looking at the rain and at the apartments across the street

\ Looking at the rain and at the apartments across the street

Another sunny, pleasant day on Sunday. I went to the 3rd Avenue street fair, which gave me a major disappointment. One reason I loved the street fairs, besides being able to walk in the middle of the street, was food, particularly “Mozzarepa.” This is a made up, probably copywritten name, for an Americanized, non-authentic, Latin American street food–a circle of corn bread (the kind you get in American restaurants), split in half horizontally and filled with yellow mozzarella (not the fresh kind), and grilled on both sides until the read was browned and the cheese melted.

I’ve been eating this high calorie, high cholesterol for years, at least once every summer. I went to the street fair looking for my Mozzarepa fix, and found a new and different arepa with mozzarella, claiming to be made with real corn. I bought one; it was certainly as advertised and probably more authentic, but not what I wanted. I guess I have to forget Mozzarepa.

Met Jean for dinner and had a lovely visit. This is why I come back to NYC year after year.

Another lovely day Monday: brunch and an all afternoon visit with Mary, dinner with Phyllis. Lots of rain on Tuesday morning. I stayed here until the sun came out, then went to see the other two parts of the exhibit about Al Mutanabi. First stop was Poet’s House in Battery Park City at the bottom of Manhattan, then took the subway up to 114th St. to the library at Columbia University. These exhibits have given me lots to think about, in particular integrating content and structure, and I really enjoyed seeing all the books. After a quick sandwich I went further north to Riverdale to Evy’s apartment where my Teaneck friends gathered for a stitch and bitch.

Busy days 2


Saturday morning was sunny and warm with much less humidity; so taking advantage of this fine day for walking.I took the subway to 33rd St to walk on NYC Summer Streets. Three Saturdays in August the city closes Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park–no cars, only walkers, runners and cyclists. It was pretty crowded but lovely to be able to walk in the middle of the street. I walked from 33rd to 45th then over to Sixth Ave to Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore, then back to Grand Central where I boarded a train for Bronxville.

Electric Wire Sheep

Electric Wire Sheep

Sybille picked me up at the station and we went to a wonderful art installation by Federico Uribe–Fantasy River–a re-creation of his childhood in Colombia made of shoelaces, tennis shoes, pingpong balls, old books, electrical wire and other unlikely items.

Shoelace Gorilla

Shoelace Gorilla

I loved the show.

Zipper tree on a fabric-leaf wall

Zipper tree on a fabric-leaf wall

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with Sybille and Howard, mostly looking at and talking about photographs.

Busy days

IMG_5828 Friday was hot and humid again, draining my energy and clouding my mind. I got on the bus thinking I’d probably go to the Natural History Museum to stay out of the rain that seemed sure to come. I walked down Central Park West and noticed, for the first time, a huge rock outcrop running from about 85th St. to about 82nd St. I know that Olmsted and Vaux moved lots of rock when they created the Park but I can’t imagine they moved that one. Tried to find more info but failed. Instead of the museum I got on the subway and went down to 14th St. then walked to the Chelsea Market where I bought some Amy’s bread twists and went up on the High Line to eat “lunch.” There was sunshine, a little rain, more sunshine, more heat and humidity.

I walked to the Rubin Museum, my refuge from nasty weather. It’s cool, calm, quiet, very Buddhist, and filled with great things to view. They had a special exhibit about Naga warriors. From pictures of their sculpture I thought this would be about an African people, unusual for the Rubin, which is dedicated to Himalayan art. It seems the Naga people come from an area of India between Burma and China. They were known as headhunters and were largely isolated from surrounding peoples keeping their culture separate. I found it interesting because of the strong resemblance to African and Papuan art. I wish someone would do a study of how this happens.

After looking at two exhibits and having a lovely ice tea I walked to the Center for Book Arts, another favorite place, this time with books and broadsides about the bombing of the street of booksellers in Baghdad. Usually when I go to an exhibit like this I am as interested in the structure of the books as in the content. In this case the content was so strong I found books with unusual structures to be distracting and actually preferred reading the broadsides, which were very well done.

Julia joined me at this exhibit and we went back to her apartment to visit and have dinner. A very full day.

Picture above is from Saturday’s adventures, which I’ll write about tomorrow.

Today is August

renee's apt

and I am in New York. I’ve been coming here every August to see my contact lens doc, and so it was this year also–until I got a call last week that she lost her office and won’t be in her new office until some time in September. I think this is a message from on high to get a doctor in Pittsburgh. I’ll work on it as soon as I return. Of course, all of my arrangements were made and my friends were contacted. Renee has gone to Russia and I have the apartment to myself for two weeks. I wasn’t going to pass it up.

I’ll try to blog every day. I like having a travel record. More things tend to happen and I have different views of the world, unlike Pittsburgh where things remain pretty much the same.

I came here on the Megabus, which developed a bad tire, whatever that means, about 2 hours in, and we waited almost two hours for another bus. This is my second bad experience, out of possibly ten trips. I think I need an alternative.

Other than yesterday, when I just walked around, bought some groceries and hung out in the heat, humidity and occasional rain, my calendar is full. Let the good times roll!