Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Patty-cake cats

Adam from work sent me this video....  Give it a shot - so funny!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After the Blizzard

The sunrise hit Manhattan this morning like it was the golden land.

Out on the street and into the subway, it was treacherous.

Bryant Park.

I was surprised to see how bad things still were in mid-town Manhattan.  They usually have the area cleared immediately, but from all reports, it was bad all over.  See the last photo for this same corner 9 hours later.

The skylights in the office. 

My new cat hat!

Things were no better, in fact a little worse, going home.  

Monday, December 27, 2010


Ah-hah!  Lola didn't see the iPhone leaning over the edge of the couch.  (just a 6 second video)

Not that she denies anything.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day After Christmas

I always love the day after Christmas.  So peaceful, great leftovers, and time to relax after all the craziness leading up to the big day.  And now I have many hours to spend getting to know my new camera - the wonderfully powerful yet small Canon Powershot S95 - thanks Santa!  

We got a small tree this year.  With our busy schedule, we stayed in Brooklyn and did not host Christmas for Ronnie's family this year.  We did have his parents over for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner - it would have been a shame to decorate and not show it off a bit!

The same guys from Vermont always set up a tree stand across the street.  They are always beautifully shaped, but very tight.  I can only fit my smallest ornaments on it.   My favorites are the old ones and those my mother made.  

A chickadee - my mother made a whole flock of them when I was young.  These are very light and are perfect for the top of a branch.  Styrofoam ball, feather, paint, pipe cleaners, bead for the eye and a seed for the beak.  

Mom is a master at needlepoint.

Santa Claus made from old wooden spools.  She also made "toy soldiers" out of the same materials but they are too big for the tree this year.  Dad helped with the necessary wood-work.  

Mom and her sister Ruth collected these wonderful delicate ornaments.  

Another of Mom's little wonders.  This display piece is about 3 inches tall.  

Mom & Dad still send Advent Calendars every year.  I love this tradition, and this year's was one of the best ever - many cute little animals revealed including our favorite, the red squirrel!

A photo from last year in New Hampshire.  This ornament (from a generation or two back in my father's family) was hung wherever on the tree until the year we saw one exactly like it on the cover of Antiques magazine.  As you see, it now receives special treatment.   Not the prettiest face, but very delicate and detailed.  

We are finally in the middle of a snow storm much like I've been reading about out West and in Europe.  I'll enjoy it more once Ronnie gets home from work safe and sound.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

I got punked... my own cat.

We finished decorating the tree yesterday, and after going to bed, I kept hearing plink plink plink. I had to get up 3-4 times to "tell" Lola to stop playing with the low lying tree ornaments.

This morning, I got up, laid my clothes out, took a shower, got dressed (in the dark so as not to wake Ronnie) and went off to the subway. While waiting for the 2nd train (thus having gone quite far with this), I notice something scratching me - felt like a stiff tag - in the back of my pants. After some subtle searching, I felt something odd and pulled one of the wards' favorite toys out of my pants. Yes, the "mouse" was hanging outside my pants below my coat - like a wire tail with a rodent at the end of it. Two ladies who saw this looked horrified until I stopped laughing long enough to hold it up and say "vindictive cat".

My "tail".

I know it was Lola and not Mr. Beans - he is not the prankster - that somehow worked it into my pants while I was taking a shower. The wire had come off the stick, and had a perfect circle to somehow hook onto an extra button near the inside waistband.

This is her - "uh huh, that was me, and there is more to come if you keep talking to me like you did" look.

Beansie, the innocent bystander, but no snitch.  He'd never rat out his sister.

I have to say, this laugh was an excellent way to start the day.

(all pics taken with iPhone - cropping these does them no good)

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Household Oddities

Brrr - cold and windy today.   I was out and about without the camera yesterday, and today I'm enjoying a warm cup of tea, some delicious sweet rosemary shortbreads from our grateful neighbor and waiting for the sun to come around to our side of the building.

Here are some other dwellers in our apartment that are looking forward to direct sunlight.  Plumbago - we had a lighter variety from my aunt that is very popular along the coast in Spain, but we took its winter dormancy period too literally and killed it.  We got this variety which produces fewer flowers in the flower heads, but is more at home in this area - we've seen in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Early this year, after letting it get too leggy (we have a lot to learn), we cut way back and thought we would get no blooms until next summer. But the odd single flowers are showing up now.

I bought this coffee plant in a supermarket about 4-5 years ago when it was about 5 inches tall.  Now it is over 4 feet and very full.  This is the first year we got beans!  1. I'm wondering how it got pollinated - not many coffee plants in Brooklyn.  2. If I plant a bean, will another grow?  Too few for even the smallest doll-size cup of espresso.

Oxalis Triangularis are supposed to go dormant for a few months every year, but ours never do.  They grow toward the sun and close up at night.  They would look better in a window, but our wards munch on them.  We keep these shelves full to discourage more snacking.

The piece on the wall to the right is one of a pair. We took it to the Antiques Roadshow in Connecticut a few years ago.   I don't think the expert really knew what they are, but he guessed they probably came from a Mediterranean Church during WW2.  My aunt found them in an antiques store years and years ago, and they were on a porch for a long time.  Our typically over-heated Brooklyn apartment is drying them out and the paint is chipping, but I still love them.

A note about AR - when you see the show, everyone is so happy and having a great time (like we did), but I was surprised at the amount of people who were annoyed or outright angry that their treasures were not worth what they expected.  PBS should do one show, or segment, of people storming out telling everyone who will listen that these "so-called experts don't know $%@&."  And don't ever bring a painting to AR - those lines were the longest!

The true odd Bean, Mr. Beans, catching those first rays of sunshine as they hit the apartment around 12:20pm at this time of year.  From left, a coffee tree branch, the infamous pot of grass and the ficus tree that wants to take over our whole apartment.  It has given me 5 sons and daughters from cuttings, but really, who needs that many ficus trees?!

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meet the Neighbors

You would think that sharing walls, halls and elevators, we would get to know our neighbors well, but such proximity tends to make New Yorkers more private.  We've been here for over 7 years, and I'm still meeting long-time neighbors for the first time.  Different schedules in and out the building account for a lot of that.  And a recent mid-week use of the co-op laundromat introduced me to a whole new crowd.

I met our human neighbors at the other end of the hall soon after they moved in, but rarely saw them since.  Lola became acquainted with their then one cat because she runs out when we come in and inspects every door.  I imagined the neighbor's cat sniffing back when Lola was there.  

Last week, one of the humans rang our bell to ask if we knew a reliable cat-sitter because hers had backed out for the holiday weekend.  I immediately volunteered our services, and she was very relieved.  Through a  few brief elevator encounters, it somehow became clear that we are cat lovers.  

For two days, I visited Chloe and Pumpkin to provide food, play, scooping and affection - well, only Chloe on the last.  Pumpkin is apx 3-4 months old, and was a little skittish with me unless I had a toy on a long string.   Both are rescues, which always tug my heart-strings (and also told me they have good humans).  

Pumpkin on the left, Chloe on the right.  

On her return, our neighbor said the ladies seemed much more relaxed than usual after being "alone".    I'm pleased, but I think Lola and Mr. Beans were a little miffed at the "new cat smell" I brought home with me.

Chloe - in a familiar Lola-like pose.  So affectionate and sweet.  Within one day, she was climbing into my lap.  

Pumpkin - she was hard to photograph, but is a very lovely little gray girl.  She has those natural "sad-eyes", but I can tell she really is a feisty one.

I would like to introduce the ladies to our team, but I wouldn't do that without their humans' permission and presence.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What a difference a Flea makes

The Brooklyn Flea left the school yard a block away and moved indoors into the Williamsburgh Bank Building (the big "middle finger" salute in my header photo) until next Spring.  Add a chilly wind and a holiday weekend, and we get some very quiet streets now.  Peaceful, but I miss the hubbub, bub.

No more cafe tables filled with brunchers.  
The plane has been grounded. 

I asked this little lady's person if I could take her picture, and she happily obliged.  Tyra Banks would have been impressed at how she turned, looked at the camera and moved every so slightly for every shot - I just the SLR fly.

The Farmers' Market - I've never been able to see so far from one end to the other.   

Tomorrow - a visit down the hall to tend to our feline neighbors while their people are away.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Views

With the wonderful new job has come two more great perks:  an iPhone and a different path to work.  To most, the commute would seem nearly identical to my old - same train options, same train stops.  However, getting to the new workplace takes me along 40th Street and the south side of Bryant Park, instead of 42nd Street on the north side of the Park.  South of 42nd Street is a completely different neighborhood, yet I'm only 3 blocks from where I worked for over eight years.  Even the light seems different.  I've happily been very busy and haven't had any time to explore, but with an early closing before the holiday, I took a quick walk with my new toy vitally necessary business communication device before heading home to rest and get rid of this annoying cold once and for all.  

My favorite daily sight is this restored Carousel on the south side of the Park.  

I don't know if this wonderful Carousel runs all Winter, but Bryant Park turns into a Winter fair through the holidays with lots of activity.  

The rink and the surrounding structures are temporary - amazing what they can put together for just a few weeks.

Pleased to see the fountain running into the cold weather.  I remember the bad old days of Bryant Park when this never worked and the Park was used nearly exclusively by the drug dealers and drug seekers.

Many stalls filled with a variety of gift items.  I've done well here in the past, but things are starting to look less unique.  For the family we see on Christmas, I usually buy variations of one gift for everyone.  The most popular - colorful hand knitted socks good for cold winter nights, but I didn't get them here.  

The area was full of visitors that will be performing in the Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow.  

This was a happy "mistake" as I was learning to use the camera on the iPhone.  Before I got one, I suggested to one iPhone user that they could surreptitiously take photos of people by pretending to be playing with an app.  I now realize that is not as easy as I thought.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Close to Home

No neighborhood walk this weekend. I came down with a cold yesterday afternoon - I blame the subway. I thought a little walk would do me some good, but only made it as far as the Brooklyn Flea (1 block away) and had to come home for some tea and a nap.

A lot of sirens got me up early this morning.  About 15 fire vehicles, including 2 ladder trucks, showed up for something happening in the large co-op building (out of the picture) across the street.  Brooklyn's Bravest ran a lot of hose inside, but we didn't see any smoke, so hopefully no one was hurt and there wasn't too much damage.

Our narcissus is blooming - a great plant for near-instant gratification, but I'm not overly fond of the scent.  A little too cloying for my taste, but not a problem with this cold.

There were some fine animals over at the Brooklyn Flea.

Wonderful weather vane, but too pricey for my budget.

About 10 days ago I started a new job after a long period of unemployment (thus the extra subway exposure that led to my cold).  Beside my minor and temporary health set-back, I am thrilled.  The job and my new colleagues are great, and it all became even more wonderful when, taking the stairs out last night, I heard this little brigand meowing up the stairwell.  Turns out he lives in the office building, and his name is Tiger.  According to the maintenance man, Tiger is about 8 months old, very friendly, hasn't been fixed (which I strongly encouraged) and seems to be in good condition.  He was a little shy with me at first, but appreciated a good neck skritch.  I hope to see more of him!

Now time for some more nyquil (ugh) and a nap.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Abounding Color

After the carnival-like atmospheres of Halloween and the Marathon, this has been a quiet weekend in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene except for the colors.  The Autumn foliage came late this year, but it is now busting out all over.

There has been some discussion about the etiquette of taking pictures of strangers.  This couple saw me taking the photo as we approached each other, and as we passed, I simply said, you make a beautiful silhouette.  They looked pleased and laughed.

I've been taking pictures of these houses in dappled sunlight every week.  Once the leaves are down, I will take a series of photos about the diversity of architecture in the neighborhood.

No post about the neighborhood is complete without a dog.

An artist's display at the Farmer's Market.

This lady graces the top of the security building in the courtyard our co-op.  I don't know her story, but I like her spirit.

Saturday night's moon setting behind the Williamsburgh Bank Tower.

This was a "mistake", but it reminds me of an artist whose name escapes me.