special occasions

This week I find myself meeting up with old friends and colleagues. I love that we are all able to stay connected and make the time to see each other in-person.

There was a time not so long ago when the in-person meetings, snail mail, and phone calls were our everyday touchpoints. Today, those touchpoints have all become virtual. We stay in the know via email, social media, SMS, and texts.

I love sending and receiving mail, and I’ve found over time that the in-person moments feel more like special occasions. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but my mind races with ideas on how we can plan more of them.

 


Weekend Warrior: Chihuly Nights

There are some places in this city that are pure magic. The New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx is one. And this spring they are hosting “Chihuly Nights,” a twilight evening series with live music and an illumination of Dale Chihuly’s glass exhibition.

IMG_6564

Nightfall and the first installation I see is a blue stone glass sculpture in front of the library. The idyllic scene calls to mind the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Fontaine de l’Observatoire in Paris.

On the main pathway, I come across a starburst sea urchin of blue and white. Against the night sky, suspended in mid-air, the early summer fireflies weave amid the crystal stems, bringing to mind fairies and nymphs.

IMG_6526

Nearer to the Visitor’s Center there is a pond of red reeds embedded in an oak tree. To my eye they resemble blood-red pitchforks, or even spears, protecting earthlings in an apocalyptic dystopian land. Although, I think I may be overdoing it on the Supergirl binge watching.

IMG_6529

The sunset melts away, and a chill settles in. The last pieces I see are ectoplasmic and alien-like dangling from the ceiling. A vibrant yellow-green sure to give Crayola a run for its money, and a doodle octopus in shades of purple and blue.

fullsizeoutput_1e5c

Once I get home, I quickly fall asleep, and dream of far-off galaxies deep within the Milky Way.


Tourist Day: The Cloisters

 Wednesday morning

It’s Tourist Day and we’re going to The Cloisters!

Now that Kinga is making a clean break for California we’re crossing off items on her “I’ve lived in New York City for 15 years and have never been to…” bucket list.

For those not in the know, The Cloisters is a museum annex of The Met Fifth Avenue located in Fort Tryon Park in the Bronx. Their collection is dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe, and the building is fashioned like an old castle and church.

We stroll circuitously through the inner buildings, from the Gothic Hall to the Boppard Room filled with floor to ceiling stained glass windows into the Unicorn Tapestries Room. There are several school trips in session, and as we wander we catch snippets of history from the docent tour guides.

Kinga and I were both raised Catholic–she Polish-American in Chicago, me Italian-American in Brooklyn–so much of what the tour guides are sharing is steeped in Christianity studies. It almost feels like we’re back in parochial school learning our ABCs.

Outdoors The Cloisters’ gardens are abundant with herbs, flowers, green grass. The birds are as thrilled to see the sun as we are, even if it is a bit steamy.

We have lunch at the Tre Cloisters cafe and talk about life and finding the strength and courage to embrace change. Afterward, we stroll through Fort Tryon Park and fall into nature sharing the path with a group of high school students and their teacher. Along the trail, we spot a groundhog momma carrying her young as she tried to maneuver the foot traffic in her way.

A gentle reminder that we are all on this journey together.

Visit The Met at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park in-person or virtually with this interactive map


Bzzz Bzzz

First, I hear an incessant Lilliputian drilling.

Then, sawdust on the table.

Monday morning, I spy one solitary sentry hovering.

One week after the carpenter bee expulsion and it appears they are back.

I call Bugged Out and they return for a courtesy visit and reapply the treatment to the burrow holes, poison than a silicone seal. They check for new holes and treat those, too.

I lie in wait, ready to collect dead bees.


Weekend Warrior: NY Fashion

IMG_6354‘Intrigued by an event listing a friend sent along, Kinga and I checked out an exhibit presented by the fashion program at my alma mater  Marist College. The event was held at The National Arts Club around the corner from Gramercy Park.

The presentation showcased designs from winners of this year’s Silver Needle Awards. Held in the Grand Gallery, the designs were bold and bright amidst the current exhibition, Alternate Lives, an avant-garde display of black and white photographs.

Some of my favorite designs

The satin bustle dress designed by Allison Carolei ’18 featured a mix of black, midnight blue, and dark red fabrics. A black halter evening gown with a graduated hem, short in the front with a long train in back from Kristen Wong ’17 caught my eye.

I especially loved the flickering LED lights on the train.

Next up a halter pantsuit with flared bell bottom hems in a bright pink plaid from Cara Benevenia ’17. She also showcased a delicately woven bolero shrug with faux feathered sleeves, also in bright pink, and an eco-friendly woven dress in natural tones and pink accents.

I next noticed Emma Gage, ’17 outerwear ensemble with black llama fur and layers of wool in black, gray, and blood red. The trim accented by dystopian-like baubles conjured images of broken pieces of stalactites.

Gabrielle Amaturo ’18 olive green design with its Pucci-like accents reminded me of  1940s film noir. I would imagine the piece would also complement the wardrobe closet of Effie Trinket, too.

IMG_6363


On this day, 92 years ago

On this day in 1925, my father Vincent Patrick Preziotti was born.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 9.24.25 AM

I visit This Day in History and discover that Katherine Hepburn, most noted for her performances in The Philadelphia Story and On Golden Pond, was also born today, in 1907. I remember Dad’s nightly AMC movie marathons filled with spaghetti westerns and comic dramas, many of which starred Katherine and her long-term on again/off-again love interest, Spencer Tracy.

Dad was a die-hard Brooklynite. He loved baseball until the Brooklyn Dodgers left for California. His favorite pastime was strolling the boardwalks in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and even the Rockaways.

He loved to dance, a common interest he shared with my mom. I have the fondest memories of mom washing dishes in the kitchen, of dad pulling her away from the sink, suds and all. Charlie Parker on saxophone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Ella on vocals, mom and dad waltzing from the linoleum to the parquet floors in the dining room. On days like today, I truly miss the house on 81st street.

When Dad was a young boy his uncle Joe managed the Thunderbolt and Tornado, sister rollercoasters to the Cyclone. Dad often reminisced about being a ticket taker and people watching. He was a quiet man, with a gruff exterior. He was reserved at first, but once he felt comfortable in your presence he would blossom. A voracious reader of the newspaper, he would often engage in conversation about current events, mostly politics. And some of those discussions would be heated and full of fire; he was Italian after all.

In my early years, we would fight something awful. My mom unwittingly influenced me toward liberal leanings (she was registered as an Independent) and it took me a long time to find a middle ground where Dad and I could speak to one another without raising our voices. Over time I gradually learned to mindfully pick my battles with my right-wing Republican housemate. These days I wonder what he would think about our current administration, and as I find myself alone with my thoughts, occasionally talking to Finn, I wish I could talk to Dad and hear his voice.

I have two voicemail recordings of my dad. One is about a dentist appointment. He needs me to come with him. I can hear the hesitation in his voice, of wanting my help but not wanting to interfere in my life. It makes me cringe, the thought of him thinking of himself as a burden.

The second recording is of him wishing me a happy birthday.


Weekend Warrior: Go West

Go West! To Western Pennsylvania, that is. Chester and I started our journey to Lake City, PA after rush hour on Friday morning. It was part one of a 4-day affair.

Friday, May 5

It’s raining, it’s pouring but a girl still needs her coffee. We stop at Davy’s Hot Dogs in Mount Arlington, a kitschy-styled Swiss chalet, just off I-80.

Chester’s playlists bring us back memories of our teen and college years and we swap stories in the car.

We stop in Danville, PA for lunch at the Old Forge Brewing Company on Mill Street. New Yorkers will understand my shock at the cost of metered parking — 1 hour and 40 minutes for 25 cents!

I fall in love with the beer steins. Sadly, they are only available to members of the Pub Club. I may have to come back in November for the open enrollment period.

The highway is filled with semis and trucks, and us, of course. At one point we drive alongside a military convoy led by a camouflaged humvee. At a rest stop, we spot a specialized mitt for pumping diesel; it reminds me there are niche products and industries I know nothing about.

One thing you should know is that Chester, having made this trip a couple of dozen times over his life, is all about minimizing drive time. If you know anything about me, I’m all about the journey and what you can discover along the way. Luckily, our bladders are on the same clock.

We stop at The Glass Blowing Center in Hillard, PA, where we meet the proprietors Tom and Elaine Doner. Tom shares how he fell in love with the art of glass blowing after visiting an art fair. Self-taught he walks us through the steps to create a seamless work of art, a glass dolphin garden stick. If you are traveling with the kids this summer, consider adding them to your driving itinerary.

Next stop: Cleveland. (Yes, you read that right.)

Chester’s Uncle Bill was traveling from San Francisco to attend Sunday’s family event, and we are his transport to PA. Unfortunately, we find out that his United flight has been delayed. We amuse ourselves with a cool exhibit about Superman at Cleveland-Hopkins airport, followed by dinner at the Sheraton.

IMG_6085

We finally made it to Lake City (a suburb of Erie), PA at 11:30 PM

Saturday, May 6

It’s a blustery day filled with wind and rain when we set off to explore Lake City and surrounding areas with Chester’s family.

First stop: Peggy Gray’s Candies.

The Holliday family has been making high-quality European-style chocolates for Western Pennsylvania since 1922. In addition to chocolate, they sell old-time candies and salt water taffy, brands like Black Cow and Charleston Chews, among others remind me of my childhood.

We stop at the tributary where Crooked Creek empties into Lake Erie. I marvel at the tumultuous, rolling waves. It looks so much like the ocean.

Chester, his aunts, and uncles used to spend summers by the lake and they share stories of the summer cottage. It’s now been sold but we drive by for a visit.

The rest of the day is spent exploring Erie’s consignment shops and the Salvation Army. Back at the house, we have lunch, then dinner engaging in lively conversation with his extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Sunday, May 7

We wake to a sunny and beautiful day with all the flowers alive and in bloom. Chester takes me on a tour of the “back forty” behind the house and barn, everything smells of spring. The grass seems to go on forever. First I hear, and then I see the creek at the edge of the property. An abundance of nature.

And then there’s the barn, a true sampling of Americana, right here in Lake City, PA.

Late afternoon we make our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Erie, where Chester’s stepmom Dorthy will be ordained as a deacon.

The day ends with a celebratory dinner with friends and family at the Colony Pub & Grille, followed by “the best chocolate cake in Arizona” prepared by Aunt Carol and some ice cream back at the house.

Monday, May 8

Monday comes too soon, and before we know it we’re all saying our goodbyes, and back on the road home toward home.

 

IMG_6247

Chester’s family photo on the back forty, Lake City, PA