April 14th, Monday
Sue picked up Pacco and me at quarter to ten. I remembered to put the heat on a steady 59 degrees, secure my ticket in my purse, and water the plants before dragging the luggage and dog crate out to the porch, so I left the house feeling relaxed.
The drive through Eureka and Arcata was gorgeous; blue sky, billowy clouds, the blue bay beckoned me stay. At the ticket counter the woman hemmed and hawed, ah, full flight we have. What? I got the second to the last seat! Huh? It dawned on me that I used to always confirm flights 24 hrs before departure. I have forgotten about that. I call Sue and share the news. Yikes, shape up and pay attention. We board and there are plenty of seats, it's puzzling. I wonder if I need to confirm tomorrow's flight from Seattle to Newark on Continental.
As the flight attendant makes her announcements, I jump out of my seat and check my purse in the overhead. Yep, the cell phone is still on from the call to Sue. I shut it off, thinking yikes! again. The flight over the Pacifc and then over Oregon's vast forests is one big visual field, ocean, ocean, forest forest farm forest farm, urban buildings, river. With a cup of Starbuck's coffee and a bag of Tim's Cascade Pride potato chips - breakfast! - I settled in for this adventure.
We came down to the Portland Airport along the opening of the Columbia River to the ocean, plane shimmering across an expanse of boats, individual boat housing, and multi boat facilities. As the plane coasted to a stop, I understood that the full flight the woman at Arcata airport referred to was this next one, the second leg. They had given my seat away and I had to move to another. Glad enough to do that, close call.
Aside from this confirmation business, this flight is much easier than my trip to Idaho a year ago. For one thing, no plane changing in Portland, no multiple security checking.
Piffka and Jeanne de Seattle (Seattlefriend) picked me up at Seatac and the three Volvo Women found our way to the easiest accessible coffee shop, Denny's. I had a not bad omelette to cover up those potato chips. We stayed and talked longer than expected as we delved past chit chat into serious conversation.
Afterwards Piffka drove us to their cottage at Vaughn Bay. Her husband was there waiting, and we all walked down to the water. I thought how pretty it was; I really was more drawn to the spot than Lake Pond'Oreille, which I spent time by last year in Idaho, although I have family ties there though my cousin's, my exhusband, and now from my dad. An aside, I have now learned that I have some Idaho roots on my dad's side via a lot of work by a friend who has chased my geneology into some shape. But about Vaughn Bay, I can understand Piffka and Piffka-hub's happiness there.
Hub was forewarned that I love single malt scotch and produced a delicious glass of whatchamacallit...I thought at first it was Bruchladdich but it was a similar name, of a western, smoky old scotch. Piffka had some kind of interesting gin. So Hub and I got into politics and got along happily, Piffka being the listener this time. We had dinner at the Tides Inn, a comfortable place and experience, and went home to their house inland to shower and bed for the early rise (4:14 am). Slept in increments, in anticipation.
April 15th, Tuesday
At the crack of dawn, Piffka took me to the Shuttle stop at the Inn at Gig Harbor and made sure I got on the bus. Well, I sure did. I got on and sat down next to a guy in the front seat and we proceeded to talk through the next hourlong freeway ride to the airport, covering travel, politics, art, literature, and miscellaneous else. He is a retired judge, now, I presume sailing off the coast of Japan. I think I lured him to A2k, but who knows. In any case he won't be back home with his computer for three months.
The flight to Newark took awhile but nowhere near as long as trips to Europe from the west coast. I always love flying, even when I am uncomfortable. My seat was over the wing but had a fair enough view from time to time to make me wish I had a US map in hand. Although we were clustered in the cattle car, the flight wasn't densely full and there was a spare seat for my pal at the aisle, a young woman who I think was in the Navy, to keep "stuff'". I started to tear at one point about actually going to New York, deciding I am happy, however it goes.
Landing at Newark came all of a sudden...we seemed to zoom across the US faster than usual. I compensated by taking forever to find the shuttle to Manhattan. Newark Airport was under vast construction and arrows to locations didn't seem to be correct. I found the Shuttle desk about 500 feet from indicating signs. So this guy comes up saying "Shuttle?" and I nod and we talk money, $18.00, seems fine to me. He leads me through construction to a shuttle bus with one person it it. I settle in. The one person, a guy, calls his wife and then his mother in law and then his wife and then his friend and then his wife and then his mother in law, where the hell is she, can't she let him in to the apartment?? This turns out to be a recitative through the coming ride.
But we don't actually leave the airport as the driver needs other passengers, and we make several airport passes. I don't care, it is now about 5 pm, and I have no plans for the evening. We eventually pick up a young woman about eighteen. And circle two more times. At last we head across what seems an industrial wasteland. I don't know, maybe it is a functional hub, but it didn't look it.. and then we sludged through diminishing traffic lanes into the Holland Tunnel. The Holland Tunnel! It was the exact same Holland Tunnel I remember from when I was nine. I swear, the same tiles, same exact tunnel. OK, cool.
We land in a dense mass of traffic in streets I don't recognize the names of. By this time I am interviewing the other passengers, who respond gratefully. The guy with the phone and the locked apartment is from Buffalo and sells candy machinery from european companies to american companies. The eighteen year old is an eighteen year old, planning to go to school some more. We end up crawling through a very large Chinatown, bigger than LA's or SF's chinatown, in my cursory estimation. We leave Guy just past the edge of Chinatown at some very high rise apartment buildings.
Then we proceed up along the East River and drop the young lady at 46th and First...and I get to see the UN building and environs, plus the river, and then the driver and I start talking - he has been listening. He is from Colombia, much trouble there. He wants to go to California. He would love to go to San Francisco. His wife lives with their children in Orlando. He takes me on a tour, snaking around the streets and if not adding streets, at least telling me a lot as he moves through the urban frets.
We move up Central Park West and come to rest at the front of the YMCA. The driver brings my bags all the way in and almost hugs me, giving a great handshake instead. The Y is not visually like I expected - it has some plywood frontage rigged up. Inside it seems a mexican adobe, con spanish tile. Room seems adequate. I unpack and wander down the block to Broadway and eat at Josephina's at an outdoor table, facing Lincoln Center, ordering Goat Cheese Ravioli with Duxelles in a Sauce of Leeks with a Reduction of Balsamic Vinegar plus a glass of pinot grigio. Yay, I settle in. After eating and thinking and writing in my notebook I wander over to a drug store to buy an alarm clock (long story) and back to the Y to make some phone calls. The phone on the desk in my room has no dial tone.
I go to the lobby and mention politely that my phone doesn't work and they say it doesn't work. As I head for the elevator I turn around and ask for a room where there is a phone that works. No, none of them work, they haven't been able to wire it. I can use the hall phone, with my MCI card, or my cell phone, with it's way-past-roaming charges, but to do that the clerk suggests I may need to go outside.
Oof. I use my cell phone out on 63rd Street (I haven't used my MCI card in at least a year and don't quite remember how except it is a lot of numbers) and call my business partner to say I landed ok and will call tomorrow. By this time I am nice and tired and go back and go to bed with my police procedural book on a crime set in Venice, and fall asleep in about four minutes.
April 16th Wednesday in New York
I slept well, got up at quarter to seven, and spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get hot shower water with eventual success at about twenty minutes. Not knowing how long it would take to walk to the Met Museum or what to take with me for the day, I dithered for a while, setting off finally without a camera or my painting albums and without the candy Piffka gave me to give to Crones (it's heavy). I wear my new sneakers as opposed to my everyday Danskos, big decision. The temp is supposed to reach 84 degrees. But it snowed last week. 84? Well, that will be mid-day and I hope to be inside. Possible showers tonight and 40 degrees tomorrow. I wonder if the museum sells umbrellas. (I decided as I left the house to leave my umbrella. Don't get me started on umbrellas.) Museum umbrellas are no doubt expensive. But I live in rain country now, I am not worried.
It took only about forty minutes to walk down to Columbus Circle and across Central Park South and up Fifth Avenue to get to the Met. I passed Gristides, right near the Y, a version of the store of my youth, and Trump Tower and the Mayflower hotel. I was over an hour early to meet Paola.. She and her husband live quite close to the museum. So...I walked a little further, and over then to Madison Avenue and had a cafe au lait at Pain at 85th and Madison. I checked out the Guggenheim, there it was, and the trees. Lots of Magnolia soulangeanas springing in full bloom.
What I didn't really expect from my walk was the Dog Show. So many, so fine. A woman walked her perfect Irish Setters across Fifth right where the Zoo entrance is at the park.
On the way up the museum steps my eyes welled up with tears, swallow, step, tears, swallow, step....and I sat down on a ledge, flipped out my scarf and wound it with flair or lopsidy around my neck, so Paola might recognize me. I sat there on that ledge and wrote some notes and looked at the avenue and the fountains and was at peace.
Paola and I met in the Met Lobby. She is bright, lively, engaged.. We talked happily immediately, and after she gave me a Met button we moved through labyrinthine halls to a breakfast cafe, where in short order we covered abuzz and a2k (she likes abuzz except for the nuts and finds a2k a little boring) and my situation in coming to NY re 50 years away, and then she told me about some of her own situation. I have liked Paola a lot by our talks on abuzz and conversations on email, and I have grown to care about her, now only more.. She is wise and brave and I love her. Ah, well, this is a summary, as I am typing this a week later.
Anyway, we had a good beginning talk and she let me loose in the Museum after escorting me to the Manet-Velasquez (Spanish French) show. I got a set of earphones with commentary by Phillipe de Montebello which was very useful for my first runthrough of the show. There were a lot of rooms with much to look at, and I emerged to have lunch in the Cafe still reeling from my immersion in rooms of great paintings by Velasquez, Ribera, Zurburan, Goya, Corot, Morisot, Manet, Sargent, Eakins, Whistler. I got myself a dish of ravioli with mushrooms and truffles with asparagus and red peppercorn sauce, plus a glass of wine...and wrote in my diary and read a little book I bought on Bonnard. Watched myself doing this, sitting in the Met eating ravioli.
Then I went back in to ferret out the organization of the museum. I stayed for a few more hours wandering back through the Spanish French show and trying to sample a lot of other exhibits, then left for the Whitney about ten blocks away to see if I could catch the Diller and Scofidio show and the Nadelman exhibit, and did. I liked both, although I admit to not reading every tidbit in the Diller Scofidio. I am supposing I will see it all in book form sometime later. They interest me though, and I am glad I saw it. Especially the room about Lawn Signs. On the sculptor Nadelman, I liked the animal figures primarily. I checked out some of the permanent collection, a Reinhardt, a Rothko, a Larry Rivers, and Susan Rothenberg, but didn't stay long.
After talking with a woman and her husband in the Whitney lobby about how to walk to W. 63rd through Central Park and hearing about a possibly better but still cheap hotel nearby, the Empire, I took off back to the YMCA hotel, as there was time to do that before meeting Roberta and Ginny Longdog and Joan Dark. Or there seemed to be, until I got sort of lost and tired in Central Park. Eventually I wound my way out somewhere near Tavern on the Green by way of an assist from a well-suited woman who pointed out a cherry tree to aim for. At the Y hotel, I changed clothes a little, not much, and threw water on my face, and was astounded by alarms going off.
I suppose I should mention there was one last night too, although only one and I ignored it after nothing further occurred. Now the alarm went off three more times, and I hit the desk downstairs in semipanic. Hmm, this seems to be ordinary, they do not jump. They sent a guy up, and he simply unhooked the smoke alarm, which turned out to be part of the light fixture. Relieved that I didn't have to haul my luggage out of a burning building, I set off to walk to East 61st Street and Third Avenue.
I arrived at the Isle of Capri early for our dinner, and asked them if I could just go in and sit at our table, that we would be a group of four reserved under Roberta's name. Certainly! Someone called over that we wanted a quiet table. The fellow ushered me to a wood and glass enclosed small room that extended out into Third Avenue's large sidewalk space. The maitre d' and waiter were friendly, and I was charmed to be sitting there smack dab on a New York street.
Ginny and Joan came along via taxi soon after. I knew them instantly, but thought Joan would be a blonde. They sat down across from me, saying they already knew what each other looked like and wanted to be able to gaze at Roberta and I. Ginny's son - who had picked them up at Penn station - stayed with us for a while so he could meet Roberta, who showed up soon with tales of pantyhose disaster. What followed was a great get together, about four hours of good conversation and food and photos. They all looked and sounded like I expected, just like the I imagined them with a little help from past pictures, with the exception of Joan not being blonde. Roberta said I was different than expected, and after analysis decided it was my voice...it was more serious (hmmm.) And Joan and Ginny said they could hear New England in my voice. Hmmmm again, as that may be true, it was inserted in my voice long ago, my mother being a Boston girl.
The food was wonderful except that I gave up on finishing mine, I was talking too much or listening too much. Plus I had thought the ''secondo' dish I chose, grass-raised veal marsala, would be without veggies, which it turned out not to be, so I ordered a plate of escarole as well, and that was enough for an army by itself. After dinner, the waiter brought an on-the-house treat for us of fruit liqueurs in small ceramic glasses; those were delicious. My mixed fruit one tasted like the Tuscan Vin Santo, which is derived from grapes.
Joan and Roberta shared snapshots and stories with us, and I pulled out my painting and gallery albums. It was touching to see the all the pictures, especially ones of Joan's dog Rupert as time went by, and of Uncle Milton, who Roberta's turtle was named after. Eventually it was time to leave. Joan stepped on out to the big avenue and hailed me a cab and I was hurtled back across town to the hotel. It was a nice long evening but all too short. I watched the tv to catch the weather for Thursday...yep, cold with rain, and tried to follow the mystery in Venice again, for a few minutes.
MORE ON NEXT POST
Thursday, April 17th
I got up a little later than yesterday. Since it was later, my shower water only took ten minutes to get warm. I caught on how to maneuver the sink faucet, which was at a crazy tilt not fully in touch with the sink surface. It was cold with rain impending when I walked over to the drugstore on Broadway and bought an umbrella. When I came out the door of the drugstore it was pouring cats and dogs. I opened the umbrella and it immediately tried to go inside out. I gathered its spokes and wrestled it into regular umbrella shape while getting soaked. Once I had it over my head I started trying to hail a cab, the hell with the bus. None stopped! I signaled just like Joan did, maybe ten times, and the cabs scooted on by in big yellow phalanxes. Hmmmf.
Finally one stopped, and the driver was friendly. We did some fast cross three lanes type turn and went up Central Park West and across the Park at 72nd; he left me at the Pain bakery on 85th, my new morning rendevous with myself. The waiter knew me this time. After I paid for my cafe au lait, I told him how much I liked this neighborhood place and he said, oh, we have branches in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sure enough, there is one in Santa Monica, and one on Barrington in West LA, part of my old neighborhood. So much for the unique Belgian ambiance.
I met Paola at the Met again, and asked her to show me where the new Cypriot Exhibit was. A friend of theirs is the curator for that new space. She left with a plan to meet with Diane and I for lunch a few hours later. After wandering through the Cypriot masterpieces, I spent some time with Persian carpets and statuary from the far east, then, snapping myself out of my dreamlike state, went back to see the Spanish French show again. I found new favorites. Finally started to love Velasquez' Aesop, for example.
Then I went off to see European painting. I admit skipping most of the Degas and Monets and Van Goghs to spend time with a Rubens painting, some Veroneses, a Moroni portrait.
Lunchtime. I met Paola at her building and we walked to Serafina's together. It turned out that Paola, Diane, and I all have hearing problems, so we supplanted the beginning talking with note scribbling.. But the food was just right and the place cleared out fairly fast, leaving us by ourselves talking away. This was the first Diane and I have met, but of course we knew each other already.. I had a plate of goat cheese ravioli with black truffle sauce and a glass of wine...we are virtually truffle free in Eureka, so I am taking advantage of the abundance in New York.
Paola came to the museum with us so that she could get Diane into the museum, and left us with the possibility that she would meet us a little bit on Friday for some gallery hopping.
Diane wanted to see the Manet-Velasquez show too, so we went up to the second floor to get into it. She got the earphones and got started and I flitted off to see things I had missed, and so the pattern was set for the afternoon. I came back and checked in several times, talking with her and reseeing the pieces I was keen on. Diane also started to need to go back and forth within the exhibit.
Really, they chased us out of there. At some point when we were hovering around Eakin's The Artist and Whistler's (I forget the name, but it was a big portrait of a composer) there were voices exclaiming Closing Time, We are Closing. The room of people was in a state of surprise, and Diane and I had to figure out where our coats were...downstairs...far away. Closing! Closing! Diane was more on top of this than I was, she at least remembered the coats were downstairs.
We managed to find a book nook just by the cloak room, and thus experienced the tension of buying when the woman taking money was being shouted at to Close, Close, Close. Soon we were out on Fifth Avenue, and it would be a while before Diane would discover that she had bought the Spanish edition of the Met catalog.
We knew each other well and hardly knew each other. We set out to walk down Fifth and at 72nd tried to catch a bus through the Park. We had the money but not in the right change and doubted they would take it, decided to try anyway. No, they wouldn't take it, but yes, the passengers around us supplied the quarters. And so, after our first new york street experience together we landed near the Y Hotel and went into dinner at the cafe in Mayflower Hotel. We got a window table and sat for hours. I have no idea what I ordered, except I had an expensive drink. Whatever the food was it was fine. We talked easily, looking out on Central Park West and the park. As we tired and paid the check, and left, I led the way, my chair being closer to the door. I missed the surprise step (design note - no single steps!!) and jouncing along kerflop, I introduced Diane to the rigors of being with me in dim light. We laughed and went on around the corner and down to the Duane Reade drugstore to get her an alarm clock, just like mine that I got yesterday.
I had a leftover battery, so she came to my roomette... and we were greeted by an ovenlike warmth as I carded the door open. What is going on? hot hot hot. I thrashed around and found the battery, and started to search the room for heat remedy, trying to open the windows. After Diane left, I went down to the desk and whined and they sent the same guy that fixed the smoke alarm to attend to the blast furnace. Uh, no windows opened. None of the apparent heater dials applied to the problem. There was, it turned out, a gate valve for the radiator, so I could shut the heat off from Blast to Middling, though never completely off.
While I waited for Mr. Fixit, I wedged the chair in the doorway to hold the supersubstantial door open for heat to get out...a while, perhaps an hour and a half. Equilibrium finally occurred and I cuddled up in the bed with Inspector Aurelio Zen once more for another six pages.
Friday April 18th
Diane and I set out bright and early for 57th Street to meet Semiotterly at the Palace deli. It would be just east of the Fuller Building, where they were expecting me to show up late Friday morning. We found 57th easily enough, starting out as we did on 63rd, but got confused about east and west, since we were now, I think, east of the park but still west. I was heartened by the sight of Rizzoli bookstore, my idea of heaven on earth if I could only own it, but nothing else around seemed to fit expectations for our destination...and we kept walking. As to expectations, I had a vague sense of the linear layout of the street from article I had saved. Sure enough, the numbers went on down and right back up again, We saw the Fuller Building at the corner of Madison, and kept walking and then we spied the Palace and there was this woman looking at us with a wry smile and it was Semiotterly. We went on in and got a booth and then tried to catch up/meet in the first place.
We were handed very large menus. Oh, oh, what to choose. I have bacon and eggs any time I want, I need what, what will I do, lox and bagel? Or??? Diane and Susan kept the talk going as I bugged out on the menu. I was caught up with challah french toast, not available in Eureka, and decided against lox and bagel since I can do that here. I finally landed on scrambled eggs with lox and onions, something I haven't done myself. Well, it was good, but cooked more than I am used to. Don't know if those were newyorkeggs, or the Palace's cooking, or that cook's cooking.
In the meantime, there is Semiotterly, who I so admire, and Diane, who I so admire. I don't remember what we talked about. It wasn't enough. Time flew and we were cautioned to move ourselves on out as we took up the table, which was true, we did. So we bundled up again to go out.....by now, we are far away from the 84 degrees of the first day of my visit and into a nice steady 40 degrees or so. S. came with us to the Fuller Building and she and Diane went with me to meet the people at the AVC gallery, which represents James Moore, as do we, where he lives in Humboldt County, California. (edit, we don't rep him any more.) The gallery was on the thirteenth floor of this decoish building....and the people who run it are completely pleasant. It was all lux relative to our place, but about the same amount of space. Their place is more pristine, white sofa, etc., where we have, y'know, dogs there. But Virginia, who manages it - not sure if she owns it - is not aloof and described the work of ours I showed her as "being in the right company" or something like that. She pulled out some of Jim Moore's work and she and I discussed money, re what we would ask for his work (same as there, no diff) and promised to keep in touch. So that was a good start for the art looking of that day, but also the end of our being with S., who went off to take care of her own list of things to do. Not enough time, and whose fault was that but mine, for having my gallery agenda. But I can't be sorry for that, it was a real need...so I am sorry for time being time.
I liked meeting people individually, or in small clumps - as everybody else expressed a need to do too - I just need more and more of it, and feel particularly undone that S. and I didn't get to talk more, we hardly started talking, or being trenchant together (she has great wit). But it was a good comfortable start.
That is all this is anyway, we all just started talking, at all the get-togethers of my trip to New York. But starting talking is a good half of the pumpkin.
Diane and I looked at some other galleries in the Fuller building and got our socks knocked off. At some point I tried to call Paola from inside the building, as she was willing to meet us for a few more galleries before we got to the Frick on 70th Street. But the phone didn't work, or, I didn't work it.
Now, as time passes and I am home far away, I would love to spend more time in that building. Virginia at the AVC suggested we look on 13, 6 and 3 - and we did, as we wound our way downstairs. I don't remember now all the galleries we liked, but we liked most of those we saw in that building.
One of them was the Danese. There were giant paintings that appeared to be fairly explicit fleshy depictions of possibly bloody female genitals, but no, no, no, they were....yikes, giant jelly donuts. This apprehension on my part would have playout later in our escapades. So, a delicious show.
The Jan Kruger. That was the gallery where the guy did not raise his head the entire time we were there, that either of us could see. Perhaps there were theft sensors all about; anyway, we didn't worry or interest him. I remember, or think I do, a Picasso and a Matisse there, as you came in the door (or was that the P. Findlay?) and while Diane was off liking something else, I zeroed in on three small Victor Hugo ink drawings. Yes, I'll take those, wrap them up, I say to my mind.
Phoenix Gallery was in there, not the gallery we were supposed to look for on that floor, but we had seen a small picture of a work in there with rabbits in it in the Gallery Guide and, thinking of Dlowan and Phoenix, had to check it out. We both fell in love with the work at the same time. This show had wit, and density...interest in many ways. I think the artist has taken a road most modest, calling herself a printmaker, that thereby her prices remain low, when her creativity is higher than a lot of what I have seen. The pieces are layered painting and collage over monoprint, one of a kind. Anyway, we both related to Cecily Firestein's work and said so on the desk book.
Then we wandered into the Peter Findlay gallery, where a guy with a sandwich in hand and mouth waved hello. We went in and started admiring; the gallery had a good display of what they called traditional work. I got excited about a Renoir sculpture still in it's hoist strapping, thinking the arrangement as art in itself and wishing I could take a picture (no camera) and Diane got excited about a marble sculpture and asked the sandwich man about it. Sandwich man, who turned out to be Joshua Findlay, gave Diane a catalog on the sculpture, and described in answer to her question how the sculptor carved the piece in what sequence from carrara marble. I eventually brought up the hoist and labelling it, and he said he had done that once on another piece....and then he took us into the back room, which was really a front room, though small. It overlooked Madison Ave. and had paintings piled against walls, some quite valuable paintings. On a Picasso he said in passing that he needed to take that one home, it wasn't selling.
We left there on a cloud.
At the lobby and then outside the door, I tried Paola again and got her. She had been calling while we were inside. Decided to meet at the Hirschl Adler on 70th in twenty minutes, and did. That place is carpetted, filled with antiques and traditional paintings downstairs and contemporary upstairs, but neither of us cared about what was upstairs then, and downstairs, that day, didn't interest us so much either, although they were courteous to us as we waited for Paola - who turned out to be waiting for us outside.
Then we all went next door to a place with a name I don't remember that had big paintings of trees as you look up from underneath the canopies. Nice enough, but... I guess it is hard to follow Manet and Velasquez, et al. Paola accompanied us into the Frick. We sat on a stone bench just inside and she looked at my albums quickly, liking the art we show at our place. She left us to it, hugging goodby, as she was to meet her son and family in a few minutes. Aware of her fragility, I see her now outside the H/Adler, waiting for us, a picture of liveliness, vigor, at pointe.
So now, some good time after noon, Diane and I go through the multisteps of getting into the Frick Collection. We leave our coats at one end and buy tickets at the other end of the room and as we enter the main gallery area in the middle the guard snaps at me that I have to leave my satchel. The beige whale. But they didn't tell me to at the desk. Leave it. Ok, ok. I do.. We get back in line, he lets me in with the remnant of a snarl. We go to the place where you get the audiophones, and ask if there is a cafe. Where I got the idea that there is a cafe, I don't know. Mixing it up with the Cloisters, I guess. But we are starving, or at least thirsty. Diane and I peer at each other and decide to leave this place.
The guy at the audiophones is nice, tells us there is this there, and that there, and we can leave and come back in. He mentions a japanese tea room a block or so away. So we get our purses back from the desk, and then leap out of the Frick in our dayfrocks, sans coats, which are too much trouble, and move fast to Madison Avenue and 71st, I think, and burst into an elegant, quiet Japanese tea room, Tagayo, I think. Where we are placed in the small tea room is a delight. The room is lightfilled but not glaring. Tall ceilings. Quietude. Loveliness pervades. The menu is spare but interesting. We both get tea sandwiches, but different kinds. Mine is a not your basic tuna sandwich. It is a tuna sandwich, but the bread is very thin, toasted, and the tuna is mixed with miso mayonaise and capers and green apples - the whole thing worked. And I had, uh, wasatchi with chocolate tea. Or tea with wasabi and whatever, with chocolate. Sounds awful and looked ghastly wonderful, fulgent green with ice cubes, but tasted of chocolate. That drink was $4.95, and I wanted two or three. Reminds me of the perfect iced coffee in Arezzo, another story. Anyway, despite the cost of that the bill was slight.
Thus restored we hit the Frick again. I again ran into trouble. After we entered and got our headphones and wandered into the hall, I noticed people with headphones staring at paintings. There was something on the directions about following numbers, and no numbers by the paintings.
But I don't see well in the dim, and get paranoid that I can't see the numbers. I ask the guard and he explains in a pained way that there are numbers with the paintings and I say yes, but I can't see them, I am night blind. And he begrudgingly takes me over to a painting and shows me a number and I nod and go back to where I was before and see no numbers and go back, after three or four minutes of staring, and ask the same guard and he exasperatedly says no, no, there aren't numbers on every work, there aren't numbers there, so ok, I move along. If there aren't numbers there, why are all those people listening to phones in front of those paintings? Well, anyway, I move to what appears to be room 2, which has many items in it, paintings on the wall, various charming little tables, and displays in the center with undoubtedly near priceless whatsits. I pick a nice big painting, big, like 7 x 12 feet, and I can't, after several minutes, find the number. But everybody else around is listening happily to their phones and staring at the paintings. So, I go back to a new guard, and he too is impatient, and says takes me to a different painting that indeed has a number and says the work is not all numbered. Ok. I'll be quiet. I eventually see a number at the bottom of some table, and get with it and relax. This is a puzzle palace.
There are several rooms like this and I get more comfortable. It is crowded there, but not too. Diane is around, but not in the same room. I don't know if I am ahead or behind her in the absorption, but we confirm each other's presence from time to time. This is all very nice, but I am really just moving through.
And then I walk into the room called the gallery. Mr. Frick already had his collection well on the way when the room was designed so it was designed for the work and has housed much the same ever since. Gads, I love that room. I think of it as having black carpet, but it might be dark grey, and the vaulted glass ceiling is a crown of light. Tall walls hold long ago arranged treasures. Dueling Turners. Veroneses at one end. Rembrandt and Hals and Van Dyck and de Cuyp and Vermeer and Goya and more. Tables in the middle with fine bronzes. A few benches along the side to sit in and look at the other side of the room. Once I found that I found joy in the Frick.
At one end there was an entrance to the Oval Room, but the entrance was covered by a triple screen. I noticed a woman sneaking a look through at the screen fold. I walked over and did the same. I knew the Whistlers were coming, and in fact here they were, and they and the room were beautiful together. I looked at the nearby guard and said how wonderful it looked and he agreed. At last, a Frick guard who isn't perturbed by me.
Diane came into the big gallery room and took the same visual leap I did. Eventually we looked through the Oval Room screen together and talked again with the guard, and we all agreed it was too bad we wouldn't see the show which would start on Monday.
I wandered out to the garden, oh, the garden...I know this garden, from pictures and a painting by a friend. Comfortable well appointed garden, I had no desire to analyze it, just be in it. Eventually I checked out a last gallery room, which I forget entirely, Dutch paintings perhaps, and looked into the apparent exquisite theater. Diane and I decided to meet in the Store, and did. A clerk said they are closing, so I had an agitated need to gather postcards fast and paid for them. A while later I realized that it was the local coffeeshop that was closing for the clerk's dinner. Good thing though, since it kept me and my credit card away from a small wall of interesting books. At the Met, it was a bath of all the good art books in the world. It seemed like that. I like old books better, of value or not, but I love most art books. I didn't even go into the Met book section, because I just can't afford to.
But the Frick book section, seductively small...... I had to look away.
Diane got a New York City Interesting Spots guide and we took off to our destination in the theater district to meet with Roberta. We walked on down Fifth Avenue, eventually advancing toward a building I had noticed before and she was interested in too. We were early for our dinner appointment, so we checked it out, and it turned out to be the Plaza Hotel.
We waltzed about and as we did we couldn't help noticing a candy store, small though it was. Neuchautel, or some similar name. I got one candy, an orange cream, and Diane got two. Hah, we were both being good. Several blocks away towards downtown, I realized that I didn't have my umbrella. Well, ok. It had stood by me for many hours and it was time for it to go. Umbrellas can't be owned, you know.
We moved west eventually, and came to Pierre au Tunnel, which was right by the Brooks Atkinson Theater on 47th. We were early and went on in, sidled up to the bar, and ordered. I got a Glenfiddich and Diane got a Lillet, and as we waited for Roberta to appear the place was more and more alive.
We sat at the tiny bar and talked while we waited. People came in the door behind us and then into the room beyond. Roberta arrived in a timely fashion (we were early) and we all hugged in the middle of the small bar space and went on through to a center table for us.
I see by my notes that I ordered the worst choice on purpose - well, I knew that - and I have, since I got home, noticed that the restaurant is known in the guidebooks for what I chose, the Tripe with Carrots and Potatoes. Indeed I liked it fine, for about a third of the dish, and then I was done. So that dish joins the jellyfish at my wedding as one to order and have a smidge of, to try and exult in for the fun of it. I presume others wolf it down. Where else to be adventurous but on a trip like this one?
Having left my bowl still near full, I found room for bread and butter and then a blueberry tart.
As Roberta and Diane and I talked, the rest of the roomful of people had left, as Roberta promised, for the theater loges and other seats: we had our own whole restaurant. And talked and talked.
At bill paying time it became clear that I had only seven dollars in my wallet. Ah, but I had a nearly sixty when I came in the door. I had left a fifty as Diane and I paid at the bar and Robbie came in the door and we went to the dining room. So I squawked and squawked and paid with a credit card, with a comment to call in the morning, re their totals. I didn't throw a fit, but a fifty is big money to me. But never mind, this isn't what our get together is about. I discussed this with our friendly waitress in the cloakroom, and then we went on out to the theater district night, and after hugs, to separate taxis.
April 19th Saturday
Because Diane was now owner of a Spanish edition of the Met catalog and needed to exchange it, we used that to propel us back to the Met on Saturday morning, by bus. We are getting better at this bus stuff together. Diane went on into the Met and I dithered outside for the few minutes with my camera and then we went to the coffee place, Pain, on 84th (whatever) and Madison.
Good we did since we had a lot in store for us.
Caught the bus and went down to Soho (oh, look, the Library!!!! last seen by me when I was nine), and got off at, um, 8th? A gentlemen and his wife saw us wideeyed in space. He came over and said he used to be new here too and showed us how to get to Greene Street, below NYU.
We wandered on down and found the gallery I needed to see, the Painting Center, where one of our artists (actually the one showing now, Emily Silver) had a show just prior to my visit. She had talked with the owner at length and with the owner's dad, Wolf Kahn, and had gotten a push by him to take a residency at the Vermont Center. So, Diane and I checked it out. The woman at the desk wasn't interested in me at first, but I plowed on and showed some of our postcards and then some of my work, and then she perked up, and asked me by the end to send my own slides to apply. Well, maybe. I know how difficult it is to get work back and forth across country. And I think it's a coop gallery, which means, I think, that you have to do some gallery sitting besides usually having to pay a fee in a co-op situation. Still, it was pleasant to have her interested.
Well, then we went back to what really attracted us, the little street shop at two corners up....a family with a sales space, bags and hats and what not. I got a bag and Diane got a hat, for which I am now jealous, and I got some pictures...keen because we liked the woman and her daughter. They had made the hats...and the daughter was very proud. Mom was asian and dad seemed to be jamaican and they seemed a happy group.
Then to lunch, at a place that looked like an ordinary storefront coffeeshop cafe and turned out to be a good Thai restaurant, bingo
Notes ended, this from memory now in 2004 -
We walked back towards 63rd through Chelsea, stopping at some galleries on 24th and 25th. Some pretty slick work... I forget what was at what gallery; one piece really got to Diane as gross. After the galleries we caught a bus to go back to Pierre au Tunnel, and yes, the till had come out ahead by the amount I claimed re my not getting change from a fifty, so that was good. Another bus back to the Y. We had dinner at a place around the corner from the hotel, and across from Lincoln Center, next to Josephina's, I think. Another good meal, but we were tired..
April 20th, Sunday
By now the shower in my hotel bathroom had evolved to giving me only boiling water, with very slight ability to temper it with cold water. Progress of a sort.
We took the subway out to the Cloisters. I'm glad I saw the museum, lovely. It was Easter morning, chilly, quiet. The subway ride was almost as interesting for me, as it seemed to be the same era subway car as when I lived in New York as a child. Time travel. We subway'd back to Columbus Circle, and Diane packed up to catch a train out of the city. I saw her off at Grand Central, refurbished from the Grand Central of my youth, and then wandered around Fifth Avenue as Easter paraders were dispersing.
I ate at a sidewalk cafe and then walked back to the Y slowly, having a sense of so much unseen. I had thought of but not done the obvious, getting a cab to where we used to live, at 3240 Henry Hudson Parkway, and looking at that and my old grade school, St. Gabriel's. I also didn't meet Paola again, which had been a possibility for Sunday.
I hung around Central Park West for a bit, taking photos in the park; eventually settled in, after a snack at Josephina's, with my book and alarm set for an early a.m. taxi ride to the airport. A jolting quick ride out of New York, and a plane trip west, was followed by a stay in Seattle with Piffka and her hub. Now we had more time and she took me around, I even got in a ferry ride, and some shopping (I bought a kimono, she got a blouse), and we had lunch with Jeanne de Seattle. And then off I go again to the airport, and the puddle jumping plane. Home to quiet and the Pacco, who still remembers me.
I'd like to go to New York every year. Wonderful trip.
Post script -
Paola, of Abuzz, and occasionally of a2k, passed away early this year.