Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jean Anne's Garden

Dear George,

I’m not much of a lawn guy. When we bought our first and only house on Ludlow Avenue, I’d never been properly socialized as a homeowner. We didn’t have a lawnmower, so I bought one of those weed whackers that you swing like a golf club. It didn’t work well until the grass was long and I didn’t like to use it anyway, so we usually had foot-high grass in our yard. It was the 70’s and I judged Clifton to be a laid-back hippy sort of place, so I didn’t give it much thought. After a year or so Katja stopped by the neighborhood town council office, and, once the woman in charge learned where Katja lived, she politely told her that they’d gotten more complaints about our yard than all of the other properties in Clifton combined. The next day Katja dragged me over to Sears and we picked out a power lawnmower. The first time I used it, an elderly lady walked up and said, “I’m so glad you moved in. Those other people who lived here were horrible.” I just nodded.

Years later the gas lawnmower quit working, so Katja contracted with a local lawn service. I thought it was a waste of money since I was perfectly capable of taking care of the lawn myself, but Katja wanted a more responsible party. Later she hired a gardener named Jean Anne to do some minor landscaping Then, more recently, Katja started talking with her about a larger project. Jean Anne had turned the front yard of the dentist’s office next door into a terraced garden. She and Katja talked about making a garden showcase out of our two adjoining properties.

Our Neighbor’s Garden

I didn’t hear about these discussions until much later. All I knew was that Jean Anne seemed to be working in our yard much more frequently. Over the course of the summer, new plants were appearing every week. I was nervous since I knew this was costing some undetermined amount of money. Then I was walking the dogs one day in August, and Jean Anne told me that she had finished her project. I looked it over with her, and I told her it looked very nice. It did. I asked about the garden’s upkeep, and she said it would be desirable to water the plants every other day and do whatever weeding was called for. Because I hadn’t been a part of this project, I wasn’t much interested. But, then again, I didn’t want Katja’s monetary investment to go to waste, so I began watering the plants. At first it seemed time-consuming and boring. But then I noticed that our plants were looking almost as good as the dentist’s next door (which Jean Anne was still caring for), and I became more interested. Now I’ve discovered that one of my favorite daily pursuits is going out to take care of the garden. I’ve developed a systematic watering ritual and an emotional connection of sorts to each little group of plants. It’s sort of similar to taking care of sheepdogs – i.e., it gives you a warm nurturing feeling. So it turns out that Jean Anne’s garden is similar to all the other big purchases that Katja has made over the years. I’m always resistant and pessimistic at the beginning, but it turns out that she’s made a good decision, and I wind up an enthusiastic participant. That Katja. Here are some photos which give you a sense of it all. It looks a lot better than foot-high grass, don’t you think?



Saturday, September 25, 2010


Katja with flowers and sling

Dear George,

I’d just finished watching the Daily Show on Thursday night and was brushing my teeth when I heard a loud noise from the room next door. I rushed in and Katja was lying prone, face down on the floor. The dogs were leaning over her, clearly distressed. She’d been standing on a stool, trying to reach a book on the top shelf, and had lost her footing and crashed to the floor. She seemed in a state of shock and said she’d either broken her arm or dislocated her shoulder. I helped her turn over and asked if she could lift her right arm. She couldn’t move it at all. We decided to go to the emergency room at University Hospital.

We got to the hospital a little after midnight. I left the car in the driveway, and we went through the metal detector at the front door. For people coping with an emergency, it’s an unpleasant nuisance to have to empty your pockets or put your purse through an x-ray machine, but they probably have reasons. There’s a mini-police station just inside the entrance with police officers stationed at the front and the back doors.

They were pretty efficient in registering Katja, perhaps because she was crying from pain. It suddenly occurred to me that I’d left the car in a “No Parking” zone, so I went out to move it to the garage. When I came back, Katja had been taken somewhere. I asked the reception person if I could join her, and she politely informed me that I couldn’t because of privacy concerns for other patients. She reassured me that I could go in if she were assigned her own bed.

We were told that the emergency room was quieter than normal that night, but it seemed pretty busy to me with twenty or thirty people in the waiting room. It was a motley group. A twenty-year-old woman named Jody arrived with what appeared to be her sorority sisters. I think she was suffering from a drug or alcohol overdose, and a resident came out immediately to check her vital signs. There were a lot of overweight, even morbidly obese people, some of the males looking like former football linemen who had gone to seed. Others were tall and gaunt with faces like roosters. A little kid was crying endlessly, and his twenty-something mother in a wheelchair couldn’t seem to do much to calm him down. A young woman was dressed in a colorful floor-length African dress, and her bearded husband wore mufti clothes. Five people from a single family arrived, noisy and cracking jokes, disrupting the somber tone of the emergency room.

I tried to nap in a chair, but was unsuccessful, so I bought some M&M’s. After an hour and a half a uniformed woman escorted me back to Katja’s bed. She’d been x-rayed and diagnosed with a broken arm. It was clearly hurting a lot. An RN strapped a sling on her, and that process hurt even more. The nurse said Katja had a crack in her humerus bone, up near her shoulder. She said there was nothing to do but to keep it in a sling and rest it until it healed. It would take weeks and weeks. Then we got to go home where the dogs were waiting for us, unaccustomed to late night departures.

Katja saw the orthopedic doctor the next morning. He tested her finger and hand movement and seemed relieved when she was able to do everything he asked. He said that surgery wouldn’t be needed. Katja’s arm would hurt a lot for the first several days and that it would take about four weeks before she could drive. She wouldn’t be able to do much else with her right arm till then either. He gave her a two-day prescription for oxycondone and said he’d see her in a week. Katja told me as we left that her doctor has climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest.

As I write this, it’s nearly 48 hours since Katja’s accident. She’s been pretty much bed-ridden, partly because she’s taking strong pain medication and partly because any sort of movement hurts. Her injury is a real bummer. Her job requires driving to clients’ homes and doing computer work, both of which have been temporarily derailed. Plus daily living without a right arm is a hassle. On the bright side, Katja’s fall was so scary that she is probably fortunate to have only suffered a cracked bone. We hope four weeks will go by quickly. Right now it’s going along a second at a time.



G-Mail Comments

-Linda (9-29): Just read so so sorry, katja how do you feel now? It seems like a painful and awkward place to have a break. Will write later I just hadn't checked all my messages

-Vicki L (9-27): Dear David and Katja - especially Katja! Sooo sorry to hear about your kerplunk and broken arm - ouch ouch ouch. In fact, this has been quite an ouchy/owey decade for you. May you rest up so the good times can roll. Flowers are a good beginning. Sending my love. Vicki

-Phyllis SS (9-26): Dear Dave, How awful for both of you. I am so relieved that she won't need surgery. Please give her our best wishes for a speedy, pain free recovery. Best, Phyllis

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photos: Magic Mushrooms

Dear George,

I am busy pursuing my photography hobby. I go out just about every day to take pictures of one thing or another. I don’t have a well-defined focus yet. Sometimes I concentrate on Mike and Duffy who are definitely the cutest dogs around. City street scenes are another favorite. Also I like to spend time in the forest, shooting this or that. Most recently I’ve been obsessed with mushrooms. Back in the 70’s some of my relatives were very enthusiastic about magic mushrooms. I was older and stuffy and didn’t check it out at the time. But now I’ve discovered that there are quite a few magic mushrooms growing in nearby Burnet Woods. I haven’t eaten any of them to date because I’m not positive that they are the magic mushrooms. However, they definitely seem magical. Here are a few samples.



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis SS (9-23): Dear Dave, They are so gorgeous. Phyllis

-Donna D (9-23): it's amazing how beautiful they are david! it has to be because you are such a good photographer.

-David L to Donna D (9-23): Thanks, Donna. I think that doing photography makes you alert to how much beauty is out there. It is quite amazing.

-Gail C-L (9-22): Very cool I am impressed. There would certainly be some competition if Peter were around. ;)))) and u could try eating them. Except they might launch u to a different planet!! LOL. G

-Linda C (9-22): yes, cute and magical, DO NOT EAT THEM YOU WILL DIE, A HORRIBLE DEATH, REPEAT DO NOT EAT

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meanwhile at the Sheepdog Resort

“Buddy: His nine lives were in jeopardy”

Dear George,

When we were planning our week-long anniversary trip to New York City, we needed to make arrangements for Mike and Duffy, our beloved sheepdogs. I asked our friend Donna about possibly taking the dogs, and she said she’d be glad to do it. Mike and Duffy have spent a lot of time since they were puppies with their younger sister, Sophie, at Donna’s house. Nonetheless, it’s not an easy thing. A week is a long time for one person to care for three big dogs, and there are always worries about potential catastrophes. Donna’s biggest concern was her cat, Buddy. Buddy and Sophie have learned to coexist peacefully. Duffy, however, would like nothing better than to catch and eat Buddy. So Donna needed to figure out just how to manage three dogs and one cat. When we got back I asked her how it went, and she gave me the following account:

Dear David,

I know you were nervous about having the boys stay over for such a long time, but everything went just fine. I brought Buddy’s food, water, and litter box up to the spare room and built a barricade in the doorway that allowed him to come and go but kept the dogs from getting in. When the coast was clear, Buddy would come out. If the dogs saw him, they would chase after him, but Buddy was too quick for them. Usually he would run into my bedroom and hide under the bed. At bedtime Sophie would jump into the bed and claim her usual space. Mikey would sort of walk around, unsure what to do. Duffy though would go straight to wherever Buddy was. If Buddy was in the spare room, Duffy would lie down right in front of the door. Or if Buddy was under the bed, Duffy would be right there at the bedskirt. By the middle of the night all three dogs would usually wind up in the bed, and I’d be squashed between them, one at my feet and two at my sides. But they did give me some space when I pushed them over.

Sophie usually wakes me up at 6:30 or 7:00. She doesn’t really have to go out, but she wants to eat. I knew that Mike and Duffy were used to sleeping later, but they’d get up with Sophie, and I’d let them out into the back yard. For the first few days Mike wouldn’t go out on his own. I’d have to trick him by going out onto the deck myself, then coming back in. Once the house was quiet, I’d let Buddy come down. After a while I’d let Buddy out, let the dogs in for their breakfast, and then let the dogs out one more time.

“Sophie the sweet hostess”

I’d go to work every day, of course. When I came home I was definitely the leader of the pack. The three dogs would follow me everywhere. If I had to run upstairs to get something, they would all run up the stairs with me, then follow me right back down again. When I was cooking, they’d all spread out on the kitchen floor. When I watched TV, Sophie would get on the couch with me, Duffy would be on the love seat, and Mike would lie in the doorway. I never really had a moment of peace. I think maybe Mike and Duffy were needy because they missed you and Katja, especially the first couple of days. I took the dogs in the car one afternoon to see my mom. When we got back home, Mike wouldn’t get out of the car. I think maybe he thought it was time to go home to his own house. I checked 30 minutes later, but he still wouldn’t get out. Then the same thing 30 minutes after that. Finally I just got a leash and pulled him out. This happened two other days as well. He is so stubborn.

Lately I’ve been moving my car into the back yard to keep it in the shade. I’d leave the doors open so the dogs could go in, and usually they chose to. When I’d get ready to go somewhere, I’d put Sophie in the front seat and Mike and Duffy in the back. If I went back into the house, though, when I’d come back out Duffy would be in the front. All I’d have to do would be to look at him, and he’d look at me, and after a second or two he’d get in the back seat. I always praised him for being so smart. One day when I came out Sophie was in the driver’s seat, and Duffy was in the passenger seat. I said Duffy’s name, and he started to go back, but then stopped. So I growled at him – he went right back without me saying another thing.

“The happy pack on an excursion with Donna”

Duffy, of course, is the dominant one among the three dogs. He would watch out the window and begin barking whenever another dog walked by. Sophie and Mike would follow his lead and begin barking or howling too, even when they had no idea what was going on. They all would also bark when any dog in the neighborhood barked. I didn’t like it and tried to make them stop, but nothing worked. When I gave them rawhide treats, Mike and Sophie would eat theirs up right away. But Duffy would walk around with his in his mouth, then tease the other two who had already finished. Sophie, of course, is pretty wary of Duffy. They started playing a little bit, but it didn’t go anywhere. Sophie’s much more comfortable with Mike, and she flirts with him. She likes to paw at his head or give him a kiss. Mike growls at her and chews on her neck. It doesn’t bother Sophie because she knows he’s only pretending, and she just keeps playing.

So we had quite an experience. I don’t think I would ever want to own three big dogs in a house this size by myself. Life was just totally dominated by the dogs. It was like having three children, and I just gave myself up to the whole project. On the last day, when I told the dogs that you and Katja were coming, they understood, and they ran outside to watch at the gate. When you arrived, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the dogs get so excited.



G-Mail Comments

-Gayle C-L (9-20): David, What a cool experience for Donna. You have raised 3 loving smart dogs. I bet you guys missed them just as much. I m glad u had a great trip. Katja’s sister always takes u to the coolest places. Hope all is well w the family and the babies. Take care. ;). G

-Terry O-S (9-19): Can there be any doubt that Donna is destined for sainthood? I hope it has all the prerogatives it has been rumored to have!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Going Batty

Dear George,

With Katja still working and me retired, I’ve been tring to do a few more household tasks. The other day Katja asked me to do the dishes in the sink which had been piling up for a couple of days. I got to work on it in the afternoon, wiping off each item with a scrubbing pad before I put it in the dishwasher. I was almost down to the bottom when I picked up a bowl and noticed some kind of ugly pile of garbage at the bottom of the sink. Then, whatever it was, it moved slightly, and I realized it was some sort of living creature. My first impression was that it was a large frog, perhaps from South America. When it moved its limbs, it appeared to have webbing between its legs and its body. Then I looked more closely, and I realized it was a bat – fullgrown, waterlogged, sluggish. I grabbed a large cup and placed it upside down on top of the animal, moving it this way and that to capture all its feet. I’d been cooking a Lean Cuisine in the microwave, so I tore the top off the cardboard carton and slid it underneath the upside down cup. Then I picked the whole thing up, bat firmly encapsulated, and took it outdoors. I set it down and let the bat out on a large paving stone between our property and the dentist office next door. The bat seemed near death and started crawling slowly away. I left it and went back in the house to call and tell Katja, but I was unable to reach her. Then it occurred to me that I should take a photograph. When I went back out with my camera, the bat had crawled a few feet over and was resting on the sidewalk, perhaps drying itself in the hot sun. I stepped up to it, camera in hand. As I approached, however, the bat took off flying, at first almost straight at me. At the last moment, it veered away and flew down Whitfield Avenue, looking to be in perfectly fine condition. In fact, it looked more like a bird than a bat. It had about an eight-inch wing span. I was sorry not to get my photo, but was happy that the bat was feeling good enough to fly away with ease.

Katja was not as shocked by my story as I expected. At first I thought the bat might have climbed up from the sink drain, but that didn’t seem likely. Katja thought it might have gotten in when I’d gotten up the night before at 4:30 a.m. to set the garbage out at the curb. She said she was glad I didn’t put it down the garbage disposal. Yuck == that would never have entered my mind. We had lots of bats in my family home on the river, and we children always liked it because we got to chase them with brooms. Katja asked if I remembered the bat at my brother Peter and sister-in-law Faith’s wedding. I remembered it vividly. The wedding was in the living room of the small house at my parents’ Birch Creek farm. The marrying couple was standing in front of doorway between the living room and the kitchen, and, just as the minister reached the critical part of the vows, a large bat zoomed across the length of the living room, flew over Peter and Faith’s heads, and disappeared into the kitchen. They never did see it, though everybody else was startled. The whole thing was very mysterious. Peter regarded it as a good omen, signifying that they would have exceptional lives, filled with surprises and unexpected happenings. And I guess that was true.



G-Mail Comments

-Vicki L (9-16): Hi D... This is a truly horrifying story and makes me think I should get married right away. Also, I can't believe that Katja was so calm and matter-of-fact about this given her habitual response (eg. Raid) to common insects like mosquitoes. It's going to take a few days to recover. Love, Sis

-Linda C (9-15): the photo is amazing, but shouldn't you have call health department to come get it see if has rabies?

-Jennifer M (9-15): I can't believe you're both so calm about this! I'd be freaked out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Big Apple Feelings

Hudson River View from Ami & Bruce’s Balcony

Dear George,

My first experience of New York City occurred when I moved there for an Antioch coop job in 1957. I’d spent almost all of my life in Menominee which, despite being the third largest town (pop. 10,000) in the Upper Peninsula, was still a pretty small place. You can’t imagine how unbelievably exciting the metropolis was. While that love at first sight has mellowed somewhat over time, going to New York still gives me an emotional boost. Katja and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary there with her sister and brother-in-law, Ami and Bruce. Back home for a couple of weeks now, I’m still struggling with “re-entry” problems. Probably my state of disorientation is due to our trip arousing so many emotions -- all those feelings are still bouncing around my mind.

As you know, airplane travel is sort of unreal these days. We knew we couldn’t get by for a week with only carry-on bags, so we packed one large suitcase to check through for a painful $50 extra. When we arrived at the airport, the Delta official said we were six pounds over the 50-lb. limit, and the suitcase would cost an additional $90. We hurriedly jammed stuff into our already full carry-on bags, and we barely squeaked under the limit. Going through the security line, the guy had me put my hands inside some kind of folding towel. I asked what that was, and he said he was checking for explosive residue. I joked that I didn’t usually have any, but he didn’t seem to have much sense of humor. One of my friends had forewarned me that they might be using a “naked machine” at airport security (i.e., an X-ray full-body scanner that sees right through your clothes), and, sure enough, they did. The guy administering it confided in me that somebody would probably take me out of the line at the next step because I was wearing cargo pants. Apparently these are the trouser style preferred by terrorists. His prediction proved wrong though, and I got through without a full interrogation. Katja, meanwhile, set off all the bells and whistles because of her titanium knee. As always, she was taken to a separate area for a full-body search by a woman who looked like a prison guard.

Arrival at LaGuardia Airport

We were thrilled to be in the city. Ami and Bruce have a beautiful penthouse condo on the Upper West Side, and we were felt completely at home. On our second day Ami took us to Chelsea to one of the finer photography galleries in the city. Ten years ago Katja had been there and seen a photograph of a horse rolling on its back, and it’s been on her mind ever since. She and Ami asked the salesman, a young Ivy league type, whether they still have horse pictures by that photographer. The salesman, whose first name was Walker, pulled out a large portfolio and started going through it. Katja’s photo was there, along with a bunch of others by the same photographer, and Walker set aside all those that Katja found appealing. She liked three of them the most, and Walker said they cost $2,150 apiece. They were 22 by 26 inches. There were also 28 by 33 inch versions available for $3500. and large 46 by 53 inch prints cost $5000 each. Ami commented that it might be best to get a matching pair. Walker explained that Katja could either get 3 small prints, 2 medium-sized, or one $5000 large print. He wondered which option Katja was leaning toward. I was feeling increasingly nauseous and propped myself up against a doorframe, overcome by a mixture of intense anxiety and pain. Katja told Walker she’d need some time to think over her choice, so they exchanged e-mails, and he said he would send her electronic images of the three horses. After we left, Ami observed that I was looking very pale. Katja frowned and said she wasn’t about to buy the photographs on the spot. When I sputtered out some sort of garbled protest, Ami asked if I didn’t love the photos. I said that I didn’t even like them, that they looked like blurry out-of-focus pictures of horses to me. I added that I thought it was insane that you can blow up a photo to a larger size and then charge $3000 more. Ami seemed irritated. I think she thought that I was lacking in aesthetic sensitivity.

Walker Shows Horses to Ami & Katja

A few days later we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and there were a lot of sidewalk vendors selling photos, reproductions of paintings, and other artsy stuff. Katja’s attention was drawn to some framed prints of Chinese horses. They reminded her of a horse print we’d owned when we were first married, and she loved them. The guy was charging 3 for $10. Katja seemed to be every bit as enthused as she’d been about the $3500 photos at the Chelsea gallery. I wasn’t encouraging about buying these horses either, thinking that we would have to lug them around for the rest of the day. Later it occurred to me that I would have been smart to have bought the 3 Chinese horse prints for Katja (which would have hopefully fulfilled her horse needs for a while).

Friday we went to the Brooklyn Promenade and then took the subway back to Manhattan and went to Ground Zero. We hadn’t been there in previous visits, and it was a silent, sobering experience. Then we walked a couple of blocks over to the potential mosque site that has been the spotlight of so much media and political controversy in recent weeks. There were numerous activists outside with signs urging tolerance, religious freedom, respect, reconciliation, etc. When you’re in New York, there’s such a powerful sense of ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity that it’s hard to even conceive of the bigotry toward the Muslim community is so widespread across the nation.

At the Potential Mosque Site

Saturday was our 50th wedding anniversary, and I bought a dozen red roses at the corner vegetable shop. They were deep red, and Katja seemed very pleased. We celebrated that night by going out to one of the city’s premier restaurants, Jean Georges on Central Park West. I’d offered to treat for this special occasion. The restaurant was elegant, the service was impeccable, the food was excellent, and we had a lot of laughs, talking about marriage and life experiences. At the end of the meal when I looked at the bill and took out my credit card, Bruce asked me if I was all right. Apparently I’d gotten very pale again. It was nothing – just that the bill for dinner approached the price of our two airplane tickets. I showed the receipt to Katja later, and she nonchalantly said we’d paid more on other occasions. What those occasions were, I couldn’t imagine, but I took her word for it. Later a friend reminded me that you only have one fiftieth anniversary in your entire lifetime, and that made me feel better. When we awoke the next morning, the dozen red roses on the dining room table had wilted and were all drooping straight downward. I decided I shouldn’t have relied on a produce vendor for our anniversary flowers. I felt it might be a bad omen, but Ami said the drooping flowers still were pretty.

Anniversary Roses

Katja’s friends and colleagues at work had bought us matching sparkly gold baseball caps for our anniversary, and we wore them all around the city. One day I went to Greenwich Village to take some photos, and my gold cap was a big hit. One guy about my age approached and asked me why I was conservatively dressed but wearing a gold cap that made me look like Elton John. I explained about my golden anniversary, and he remarked that his wife was out of town so he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring either. Then two other guys came up, and one said he wanted to know where to buy a cap like mine for his boyfriend. I advised him to check e-Bay. Then somebody started whistling behind me, and another guy was calling out to me, “Gold! Gold!” Some other guy yelled, “Hey, Gold Cap!” It was nice. I’ve always had difficulty striking up acquaintances in public places, and now I find out all you need to do is wear a gold cap.

Gold Cap Tourists in Brooklyn

There were, of course, many other exciting sights and experiences. Broadway musicals, art museums, shops and galleries, traveling around with our Metro passes, Chinatown and Soho, Rockefeller Center, Times Square (where Katja enjoyed seeing the Naked Cowboy again), lunches and dinners and New York pizza. I can understand why, as a 20-year-old, I was ecstatic about the city. I still am.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Urban Oases

Dear George,

When Katja and I were planning our 50th wedding anniversary trip to New York City, I decided my goal would be to photograph everything in the city (not including Queens or the Bronx). As it turned out, this goal was not realistic. However, I still got quite a few pics. While many involved street views, some of the most pleasing are of what might be called “urban gardens”.

My sister-in-law Ami’s itinerary had listed the High Line park on Manhattan’s lower west side as our first destination, but, because of drizzle on our arrival, we put it off for a day. It was worth the wait. I’d heard about the High Line from friends, but it was even better than I’d envisioned. We climbed up a stairway in the meat-packing district near Greenwich Village and spent an hour or so in a leisurely stroll up to 20th St. The High Line is on the former site of an elevated freight railway that ran from Spring St. to W. 34th. Railroad traffic ended in 1980, and, with philanthropic support from Diane von Furstenberg, Mayor Bloomberg, and others, a 1.4 mile section was turned into a city park or greenway. It opened a little over a year ago, and future plans call for its extension up to 34th St. It’s roughly 15 yards wide and lined by gardens on both sides, much of which incorporates the wild grasses, weeds, shrubs, and trees which had grown up among the unused railroad tracks over the years. Some of the tracks have been left in place for historical and decorative purposes, and there are great city views on the many side streets to the east and west. It strikes one as making very innovative use of what was previously just a deteriorating eyesore. Here are a few images of the High Line:

I hadn’t known it, but it turns out that there are over 600 community gardens spread throughout New York City. I ran across the West Side Community Garden on Columbus Ave. between 89th and 90th Streets just by chance. As you can see from the photo below, it’s a beautiful oasis in the midst of the city’s concrete. About 2/3 is flowers; 1/3, vegetables.

I tried to get up early each morning to take a solo walk in the neighborhood, and I’d usually go to Riverside Park which was right across the street from Ami and Bruce’s high-rise. There I discovered the 91st St. Garden, which is also planted and maintained by community members. I later learned that we’d seen it years ago because it’s the site where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan met and enjoyed their first kiss in the 1998 movie, You’ve Got Mail. A guy was busy watering plants when I first saw it in person, and the whole idea of volunteers collaborating to beautify the neighborhood was brought home. We’ll stop by again on our next visit.



G-Mail Comments

-Linda C (9-9): We could really use a community garden at our house Jayme and I let all the flowers die. Great photos

Sunday, September 5, 2010

N.Y.C.: Our Sweet Anniversary Itinerary

Ami & Kaja on the Brooklyn Promenade

Dear George,

Katja and I celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary last week in New York City with Ami and Bruce, Katja’s sister and brother-in-law. It’s sort of a complicated question about how to celebrate such a momentous occasion, and we decided to make it a family thing. Ami was her older sister’s maid of honor, and we’ve spent more family vacation time over the years with Ami and Bruce than anywhere else. Ami made up an elegant itinerary for our visit. Katja, in fact, encouraged her to consider a new second career as a professional trip planner. To give a picture of our anniversary trip, I’ve reproduced Ami’s itinerary below in italics, along with some descriptive pics and comments.

Wed., August 25th

Lunch at Home

Whitney Museum: Charles Burchfield Exhibit

Dinner at Home

After Dinner: Free Time

Ami and Bruce’s living room

Charles Burchfield, An April Mood (1946-1955) [Google image]

Ami and Bruce have a beautiful high-rise penthouse overlooking the Hudson River on the Upper West Side. It was a little drizzly when we arrived, so we spent our first afternoon indoor at the Whitney Museum. The feature exhibition was Charles Burchfield’s watercolor paintings from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. Burchfield grew up in Salem, OH, than moved to a rural area near Buffalo, NY. He’s known as a mystical expressionist painter who specialized in nature and small town scenes. We loved his work.

Thurs., August 26th

Subway to High Line (14th St to 21st St.); stroll and hear bells.

Yancey Richardson Gallery (535 W. 22nd St.), other Chelsea galleries.

Theater Tickets: for “Fela!” at 8PM

The High Line Park

Katja at Fela!

Manhattan’s new High Line park was a highlight of our stay. It’s a 1.4 mile greenway that’s built on a former elevated freight railroad track along Manhattan’s West Side between Gansevoort St. in the meatpacking district and 20th St. The gardens incorporate plants and weeds that had grown on the unused train tracks, and the elevated location offers many photogenic street views of the city. We then did Chelsea galleries and wound up the evening at the Broadway musical, Fela! It’s the music and story of Nigerian composer, musician, and political activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti who became the target of 1,000 government soldiers aiming to end his public performances at the Shrine, the legendary Lagos nightclub. Kuti’s Afrobeat music was contagious, and Kevin Mambo’s performance as Fela (acting, singing, dancing, playing the saxophone) was flawless.

Friday, August 27th

Brooklyn Heights

Lunch (at Tripoli)

Ground Zero, Park 51 Mosque, World Financial Center

River Walk to Battery Park, #5 Bus Ride Home

Brooklyn Heights townhouses

Ground Zero

We haven’t been to Brooklyn for a while, and the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood with its renovated antique brownstones was very attractive. We enjoyed a Lebanese lunch at Tripoli and the skyline view of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Promenade, then took the subway back to the Wall Street area. We had’t visited Ground Zero previously, and it was a sobering experience, though Ami was enthusiastic about all the construction that’s going on. We also saw the site of the controversial proposed mosque; with the city’s enormous diversity fresh on our minds, the ongoing right-wing controversy struck us as shameful.

Saturday, August 28th

Neue Museum (Otto Dix)

Lunch at 79th St. Boat Basin

Shopping (Tip Top Shoe Store)

Free Time

Jean Georges for 7:45 PM dinner

Otto Dix, Self-portrait with nude model (1923) [Google image]

Happy celebrants at Jean Georges

Otto Dix (1891-1969) was a German expressionist, influenced by Dada and known for his harsh depictions of the depravity of Berlin society in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Much of his work dealt with prostitution, violence, war, old age, and death. Needless to say, I loved it, and, like the Burchfield exhibit earlier in the week, Dix’s paintings aroused a few artistic urges. Celebrating our anniversary date, we wound up the day at the elegant Jean Georges restaurant at 1 Central Park West, enjoying the superb dinner and being out on the town with Ami and Bruce.

Sunday, August 29th

Free Time (Fifth Ave.)

Theater Tickets: “Next To Normal” at 3 PM.

Dinner at Home w/Jean

Ami and Katja at “Next to Normal”

“Happy Anniversary” dessert

“Next to Normal” was an unusual Broadway rock musical, focusing on a mother’s bipolar disorder and its complicated effects on her family. The music was gripping, and the story line offered a fascinating exploration of family dynamics. Jean, Ami’s best friend and our long-time friend too, came later for dinner, and we had many laughs.

Monday, August 30th

MoMA: Matisse, Picasso, Photography

Lunch at MoMA

Dinner at Home

Free Time (Times Square)

MoMa Woman

Times Square at Night

Whenever we go to New York, we’re sure to visit the Museum of Modern Art. This time: a major Mattisse exhibition, plus Picasso prints. After dinner, as the only member of our group who is addicted to Times Square, I went down to take some photos. I was happy that my new camera seems to work at night (probably because the bright lights make it like daytime).

Tuesday, August 31st

Metropolitan Museum (Roof: Doug & Mike Starn);

Photography exhibits, Hapsburg Silver, King Tut

Oyster Bar


The Big BambĂș

Weary travelers

The Met is our other requisite New York stop. The most dramatic exhibit was up on the roof: the Big BambĂș, an art installation by twin brothers Doug and Mike Starn which consists of thousands of bamboo poles lashed together to form a complex structure through which visitors walk and climb. Afterward Ami and Katja enjoyed their traditional oyster lunch at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Then it was off to the airport for our 5:30 flight to Cincinnati. Days later, I’m still experiencing withdrawal symptoms from an intense, exciting holiday. Now we’ve begun working on our next fifty years.



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis SS (9-11): Dave, Neat photos. Phyllis

-Donna D (9-6): david, this is so wonderful!! too bad there aren't any pictures of the four of you...i can't remember what bruce looks like. anyway, what a great way to spend your 50th. and i love your very last sentence!! donna