Friday, December 31, 2010

Almost Midnight!

Back in the summer, I resolved to post every day. Here it is, almost midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. Where have I been? Where did the time go?

Time to get back to writing. I've been photographing my neighborhood for months, but have few stories to go with the pictures. Here are three from our snowstorm the day after Christmas.

Now everything is a slushy mess. But a few days ago, we were engulfed in snow, snow, blowing snow, and the fine powdery stuff that djins stir up.

Crossing Amsterdam Avenue

Apple Bank, 73rd and Broadway

Subway Station, 72nd & Broadway

Happy new year, everyone!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leafy with a Touch of Loud

This is what my street looks like today: cool and shady

but getting busier by the minute.

In come the tanks, chatting with each other and ready for work ...

... in the shadow of an ancient tower

We are all waiting for fall.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Up in the Sky in Manhattan

On a walk around the neighborhood today, I found these two images splitting the sky. My vantage point was the corner of 74th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, looking west.

Photos by Maria A. Dering

I stayed outside, hoping the rains would come. Not yet -- still a sticky afternoon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Up in the Bronx

From time to time, I go to the Bronx County Surrogate's Court to search for probated wills. Today, I brought along my camera to record some Art Deco gems. The Courthouse was completed in 1933, designed by Max Hausel and Joseph H. Freedlander. You can read more about it here:

My goal was to take pictures of details that interested me. You'll notice the stylized shield of the United States on the ornate metal wall, and a pudgy owl on the sculpture detail. I hope you enjoy these!

Metal panel to the right of the main entrance.
Notice the shield of the United States, rendered metalically.

Massive sculpture facing 161st Street; see detail below.

Detail: see center of photo above.

Back at the subway station,

I found a stunning example of modern Art Deco. Can you guess what this is?

It was a hot day but a happy trip. The Bronx holds many fine examples of modern architecture and I hope to bring you more photographs later this year.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's All the Shouting About?

Late at night, I can hear them shouting on 73rd Street. Nothing makes any sense -- just loud, male voices shouting obscenities into the night at the trees, passers-by, each other. First I thought they were in a therapy group at the Phoenix House, but the voices are too late and too far away. P&G's bar used to be on the corner of 73rd and Amsterdam; now it's Gina Fornarina, which is next to the salumeria next to Jacques Torres. How far we've come from P&G's and its red neon sign.

Amsterdam Avenue changes after 9 p.m. Most of the stores are closed and all the families have gone home to sleep. That's when the night walkers come out, looking for a bar or a hit. They don't seem to realize that P&G is gone and I guess Malachy's is too far away. So they stand on the corner and howl at the moon. How strange the night street is, and how far from the 24-neon of Times Square. Expensive bistros next to the porn shop and the old Amsterdam Barber. Half the street chic, half still the same old tired shops. Gentrification never penetrated this street, and probably never will. More peddlers' carts turn up, selling fruit, handbags, silver jewelry. More parents push strollers and more nannies take up the sidewalks as they talk on their cell phones, parading down the street. Gray's Papaya is still there, and Tip Top Shoes, and Ivy's Cafe.

The pocket of gentrification seems silly. And the men are still shouting far into the night.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ah Tempus, ah Fairway!

I must have been out of my mind to shop at Fairway Market at 5 p.m. on a Saturday. I'll just blitz it, I thought. Ha ... ha ha ... ha ha! Simple: fly over the multitudes to the yogurt case, the deli counter, the prepared foods, the toilet paper? Crash and burn! I gave up on the roasted cauliflower, the canned beans, baking soda, bottled water -- although I did read, very carefully, the deposit policy at check-out. Damn, I am going to get my 10 cents back for those empty bottles of Poland Spring!

It's just another one of those Saturdays where I want to do everything and nothing, pretending I'm 30 again, wanting to start over, dance again, run a studio, teach actors and singers when I'm sixty. It stays light longer, and it is windy today, windier than I remember in Chicago in early May.

I unearthed some old ballet clothing in my "stuff" bin when I decided to throw away a few favorite full-of-holes tee-shirts. How great it would be to dance again! I don't mind the aches and pains, the gimpy foot, the feelings of extreme inferiority, the feeling of wanting to run and hide when I did a good job. I'd give anything.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Too Much Information

In a fit of insomnia, I was reading over my blog posts. I have a tendency to over-explain. Comes from teaching for many years. I would prefer to be alluring rather than expository. Is that possible in a blog?

Monday, March 29, 2010

More from Destination: Bakery

Near the destination bakery. Recognize the street, here with summer leaves?
Photo by F.S. Sanford

I learned something interesting today: some of the people in line at Levain stand at the top of the stairs and look in but don't enter. Perhaps they just want to smell the chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps they are searching for a missing baker who landed in a vat of dough. Or perhaps they are checking to see if a friend still works there, or whether there might be a job opening.

Allan and Cody, the wonder dog, used to hang out on the bench in front of the destination bakery. They've moved over to their own door stoop, but I think the bench would be more comfortable. On the other hand, maybe Cody prefers his short guy's view of the shoes lined up in front of the bakery.

The bakery is still crowded tonight, on the first night of Passover, but the wet streets are hushed, getting empty. Will something remarkable happen tonight?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Destination Bakery

When I started this blog over a year ago, I was sure it would make me want to sit down and write every day. (I wasn't sure everyone would want to read my stuff, but that's another story.) As it turns out, I began posting with enthusiasm and then fell off: typical of my experience with diets, Yoga classes, studying a new language, and turning off the TV at a reasonable hour after watching far too many reality shows.

So here I am, thinking that if I'm going to spend hours watching Lawrence of Arabia for however many hours I can keep my eyes open, I'd better get back to blogging. Not that one is a reward for the other, but the TV is so close to the computer and it is time to get going again. There is so much going on in my tiny universe.

Who knew bread could be a destination? Levain Bakery, with its excellent bread and killer cookies, has become a hang-out for the chic set. Today, the little shop had customers lined up the steps and outside. At first, I thought something was wrong -- most of the time, people in my neighborhood congregate around car crashes and fire engines. But this was surely a peaceful (and delicious) sign of spring.

The fruit man is back now that the weather is nice. Sometimes fruit girl runs the stand; it's very popular with the pre-school set and their nannies. The trucks pull up early to stock everything that kids like: plums, strawberries, bananas. For the adults: avocados, asparagus, beans, squash. It always reminds me how economical fruits and vegetables are -- I barely eke out 2 servings a day. All the colors are arranged in neat rows, plastic bags stacked at the edge of the cart, an umbrella ready for sun or rain.

Just think: I could get a roll at Levain, a banana and an apple at the fruit man, grab a cup of hot coffee, and have a great breakfast. I could eat outdoors if I could get a seat in front of the destination bakery. I could watch the world go by!

So why am I still inside?

Friday, February 19, 2010

What about that Curling?

I like to watch the winter Olympics. All that snow, ice, cold weather -- love it! But what about curling? I learned today that it is a deep and abiding passion of Canadians who live on the prairies. Sounded good -- I'm from the prairies of Illinois. I guess it doesn't translate; I can't quite figure out the lure of the sport. You send a rock down the lane and sweep the ice in front of it to get it to go to the desired spot. Sort of like croquet on ice? billiards? baci-ball?

Once I met members of a Scottish curling team when they were visiting New York. They were sprightly gentlemen who cared a lot about their team ties and jackets. And beer. And they told some wonderful jokes that I cannot remember. Must have been the beer.

Maybe I'll get curling one of these days.