Saturday, 27 July 2013

New York, New York, part 2

Some impressions, not recollected in anything like tranquillity...
Spent two days in the Met. Worlds upon worlds... Then another day in the Brooklyn Museum.
Begin to understand, just a little, layering this new insight onto what I know (scanty!) of US history, art, literature.

I sit in the subway, and watch enthralled, so many different faces, expressing everything in human experience, Goya would have loved this...
Today went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, here the faces not so varied, a middle-class range.
Wonderful weather.
Here some pix.

Again I must stop, dinner arranged downtown (Korean restaurant this time).
More faces...
In between, I sleep, deep and untroubled in Jane and Rafael's home. Rafael cooks superb meals. And every morning makes Jane and me a mug of real coffee.

Brooklyn brownstone. Art deco window in the back door...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

New York, New York...

Travel too fast, talk to too many people. Head spins with flashes of faces, snippets of voices, new sounds, new tastes, a wonderful whirling so that I gasp for respite... Here at last, a day in Brooklyn, after the wedding, after the heatwave.
Leaving Portland I went to Menlo Park, reviving memories of our Stanford days. Saw a hilarious production of Boeing Boeing by the ?Menlo Park players: how wonderful live theatre is, how it excels film, TV, video and so forth, excellent as they are for a cold night!
Then up to Berkeley, another scene, and then down to Santa Cruz to stay with my dear cousin Nomi, whom I had met just over a year ago in Como, Italy (see blog).
Celebrated Independence Day with her and her friend Kurt and people from the architects' bureau (company) where Kurt works.
Watched fireworks in the back (actually, front) yard.
I have a feeling I've alreadt written some of this on my blog; doesn't really matter, distance always adjusts memory...
Read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, borrowed from Nomi, and then gave it to cousin Joanne when I'd finished. Enjoyed it a lot, the telling by the daughter of Leah, first wife of Jacob in the OT, about her brothers and half brothers, a superb imagining of women's life at the time. The protaganist, Dinah, becasme a 'midwife'. She tells her story until her death and after, in an utterly satisfying manner. I had no trouble with anachronisms (there weren't any as far as I noticed). Highly Recommended!
After staying with my aunt I drove with cousin Joanne to her home in Encino, LA. Hot! But it was lovely, I felt so welcome, didn't matter that there had been a flood a couple of weeks before and the downstairs was filled with packing cases...
(I tried to attach a dismal pic here of the box-filled living room... too slow here...)
And from LA flew with United Air to NY. Now a good story: when I picked my suitcase off the carousel, a large chunk was missing (fortuantely just the outer shell, so nothing lost). I went to report this and was swiftly supplied with another identical (nearly) case by Samsonite... more soon about this but now must pause now for Brynn and the twins who have just come home...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Verdant Ventura (and the shining sea!)

I am with my family. Musing upon why it seems different being with people who share one's genes, and concluding that it just depends which genes they share ... I am particularly lucky in having a really lovely bunch of relatives. Feel so welcomed and loved here.
So the picture shows some of them: auntie Elsie, the only remaining sibling of my father, with her son Jerry (my cousin) and his family, wife Linda, son Mark, his wife Krista holding the tiny great-granddaughter of Elsie, Dannika, and extreme right my cousin Joanne's step-daughter, Jessica (and me too, clever camera technique there!). We are in Mark & Krista's house. Their son Garrick, just three years old, was having his nap...
We miss the two other chidren of Jerry & Linda, Jeff and Mandy ... they were sampling beer in San Diego.

A lovely shot of my wonderful aunt, aged 93, her son Jerry (four years younger than me) and his wife Linda, who runs a flourishing buisness in Ventura.
They moved several years ago into a newish apartment in the old part of Ventura, near the city hall and some of the old missions (one dating back to 1782 (?maybe 92?). It commands a magnificent view down across the red-tiled rooftops (shades of Italy and Spain) to the sandy beach where the foamy rollers break upon the shore. Today it is a little hazy in the distance but most impressive. The white sails of a handful of dinghies speed over the distant sea.
Here a shot taken from the Amtrak on the way down the coast from San Luis Obispo to Ventura.
And here a slightly fuzzy one of me, with cousin Nomi and her friend Kurt, taken in Santa Cruz on our last evening there.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Independence Day and what is freedom....

The sun shines, the sky is blue, the birds sing, this is California and it is quite different from Boston, Oregon or Texas! I walk down the streets and enjoy the gardens filled with flowers and there is a quietness here all the time, and at night when the dark is deep, I hear the sound of the water trickling in the garden pond and occasionally the distant piano of the neighbour playing Chopin Nocturnes and the call of the mocking bird.
We went to an Independence Day party at friend's and talked of many things and watched the fireworks sprouting golden stars. The kids tried to recite for me the Declaration and when I heard the words I felt very sad... Ah well, I suppose the dreams and the ideals should always remain, even though the reality shatters hope.
 Tomorrow I undertake another advenutre, first by bus to San Luis Obispo and then the Amtrak to Ventura where I'll meet one of my cousins. For a few days I'll stay with my aunt (younger sister of my father) and then further south in California.

Later on I'll fly to New York for my nephew's wedding. I now have less than a month here, the time begins to gather up its skirts and soon will be rustling by...
But here time is still moving gently, and I softly walk down to a yoga class, enjoying the sun on my back, observing the flowers in the gardens, saying "Good morning" to the passers-by.
 This is the front hall in Nomi's house. The building dates from about 1910, is a charming huse with beautiful Jugendstil touches.
part of Nomi's living room
There is no internet at my aunt's so a hiatus in the blog for some days... California dreaming ...

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

From Portland Oregon to Santa Cruz California

Leaving the lush green of Oregon I flew south to San Francisco. A mini coming home, since David and I have lived here on several occasions when he was on sabbatical at Stanford University. Here I gained my Californian driver's license (triumph of empowerment!) and here David and I lived together for the first time outside a European environment, free from some of the heavy baggage we were both burdened with about fifteen years ago...

Sad to leave Anne and her family and friends in Portland; there is never enough time to share all the life I would like to. But we got to skype Judy in Dubai and David in Turkey, oh the wonder of modern technology, yes, I have to admit! And very nice picture of me and Anne taken by Scott, her husband, on Facebook... Below, Scott and Anne and their elder son, William.

Plane from Portland (raining) to San Francisco (cloudy). In Menlo Park (easily reached on a shuttle from SF airport) I stayed with my dear friend and excellent poet, whom I call Chaya though her mother and others called her Sherry. We had a ball! She is a wonderful cook, making the food she presents a joy for the eye as well as the palate. We talked books, listened to some wonderful CDs (Mario Lanza singing Puccini...) and watched some goldie oldies such as Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers... Oh nostalgia... Here a pic of Chaya and one of me, outside her apartment in Menlo Park.

It was hot but with a delicious breeze (see Chaya above) but apparently the day I left the temperatures went up to 100 Fahrenheit and life cased to be comfortable!
On one of our expeditions into Menlo Park I found a perfect pair of tiny heeled shoes to wear at the wedding. Photo to come, I hope!

With surprising ease I travelled from Menlo Park to Berkeley (shuttle again and then the BART) where I was met by Marijke, a friend of many years, born in the Netherlands but now living in the US for 34 years. She lives in a house filled with wonders: beautiful prints on the walls, cupboards home to curious ceramics and glassware, and everywhere books, books, books. .. I was completely happy.
Below, a picture of Marijke and me.
Right:  North Berkeley living room...
My cousin Nomi and her boyfriend as well as the daughter of Nomi's sister who in fact is no blood relation of mine (this is getting complicated) drove up to Berkeley for lunch and the five of us spent a fascinating afternoon talking about art and architecture and design and finding out who knew people we knew (great fun this!) and then drove into the north Berkeley hills in search of a house Nomi remembered from her dreams (I joke) which of course we never found, but did see striking buildings and at one point gazed down the wooded hills and across the glittering waters of the Bay to the Golden Gate bridge in the misty distance, with the mauving mountains beyond. Spectacular.

And in the late afternoon drove down the not-too-congested highway towards Santa Cruz (terrible traffic crawling in the opposite direction).
And here I attend yoga classes and walk again on the pavements strewn with mulberries and pine needles and crunchy leaves. And watch the Pacific breakers tumbling against the rocky shore. My early memories from before I could remember!