Lyndhurst

Yesterday my friend Ann treated me to an outing in honor of my November birthday. We headed west to Tarrytown and Lyndhurst. Lyndhurst, named for the linden trees on the property, is an estate that sprang to life in the 1830s as the summer residence for William Paulding, the mayor of New York City. Here we are at Ann's home at the very start of our adventure.

About 25 years later Paulding sold his eight room home to George Merritt, who was responsible for changing the name to Lyndhurst. He also doubled the size of the house, extending it on both ends. Another twenty or so years later Lyndhurst was sold for the final time to Jay Gould, famous (or infamous) for being a railroad tycoon. The more interesting person to inhabit and run Lyndhurst was Gould's daughter, Helen, and then her sister, Anna. You can read a bit more about them and the home's history here

Our tour covered the main and second floors; if we want to see the below ground floor, which includes the kitchen, and the servant's quarters, we have to return when Lyndhurst reopens in the Spring for the Backstairs Tour. The house was decked out with 21st century holiday ornaments but everything else in the house is original to the house and the owners. Lyndhurst is remarkable for each successive owner opting to keep all the furniture and life of the house as they found it, making very few changes. As a result, it is possible to get a chronological view of the house and its occupants. Indeed, much of the owners' clothing and personal effects are in storage and are taken out periodically for various exhibits.

My favorite part of the holiday decorations were the many hats in what was Jay Gould's music room. Turns out the hats were each custom ordered and made for Anna.

The other fascinating bit were the windows in one of the Hudson River facing rooms. See if you can discern what makes the windows special. (Hint: Look in the lower middle portion of the window.)

After our house tour Ann took us a few miles north where we parked near the main street of Tarrytown and began the second part of our adventure, starting with a leisurely browse (and a purchase or two) at pretty funny vintage. Lunch was at the Sweetgrass Grill on Main Street where we shared a dessert of vegan chocolate mousse (oh my!), followed by eggnog and tea across the street at the Muddy Water Coffee & Cafe, followed by (no, not more food!) a walk along Main Street towards the Hudson and back again on the other side of the street.

And finally, a hearty Thank You to Ann! We have made for ourselves a tradition of taking one another out to celebrate each other's birthdays, and are determined to do this for the next 25 years!

Diwali & Henna

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights and was celebrated yesterday at the school where I teach. As part of our ongoing celebration of the cultures of our student body, numerous parents organized the festival and prepared a wonderful range of activities for the children to participate in, along with displays of clothing and bindis for anyone to apply to their "third eye", the space between the eyebrows. As a married woman I choose a red bindi. (The photo is a bit blurry as I have not figured out how to take a closeup with my iPhone.)

Just after lunch I sat down for a 10 minute Henna session and was astounded by the speed of the artist and the fact that she worked on the fly creating unique patterns for each of the faculty who had signed up between 11:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon. The application consists of a tube, similar to the type of tube used to decorate cakes, being used as the "brush" to apply the henna. The henna initially is raised on the skin and dries in place only to eventually fall off several hours later. The body part should not be touched for about thirty minutes to give the henna time to dry, and then should not be washed or wet till the next day so the dye has a chance to darken and deepen to its golden red-brown hue.

The first picture is of the henna after it was applied, when it is dark and raised. Gradually, through out the rest of the day and into the evening, bits and pieces of henna would flake off, as if I were shedding!

Below is the pattern a full day later. I was told that it could easily last for about a week, which I am hoping is the case as it will be fun to share with family a week from today on Thanksgiving!



November 15, 2018

Perhaps you are familiar with The Beatles song "When I'm Sixty Four" but in case not, you can check out the lyrics. As a young teenager in 1967 the song made an impression on me because 64 was sooo far in the future…until today! And today the future is here, as I officially turn 64 a little after 11:30p.m. New York time! My husband turned 64 this past January, so for just shy of two months we are the same age, then it's his turn to leap frog. :-)

I LOVE celebrating my birthday, and today it was enhanced by S*N*O*W, which is falling as I type. Forecast to begin around 1:00 in the afternoon, I left school after my only class of the day and arrived home a tad before 1:00, feeling pleased to have missed having to drive in potential sleet or slippery, wet snow. Turns out the snow didn't begin falling in earnest till about 15 minutes ago, but my older son and his family, who live in Baltimore, had their school day cancelled due to the icy forecast, and they were out playing in the snow a little earlier in the afternoon. (First photo is looking out at the back from our kitchen window, second photo was taken about 30 minutes later looking across the street from our front door. The snow is accumulating!)

My plan, as in prior years, was to celebrate all week long by wearing favorite outfits crafted around dresses, but other than Monday the rest of the week has been burrrry cold and I opted for flannel lined jeans yesterday and today. However, there are other joys of the week…

We hung out the bird feeder just in the nick of time, a day before the first evening freeze, and "our" birds are back with all their pecking orders, colors, and wonderful company. We often turn our stools during breakfast to enjoy our meal with the birds.

And the simple pleasure of finally, after months without, replacing my old, worn bedroom slippers, which arrived yesterday, has my feet smiling, especially in the mornings.

However, I have saved the BEST for last! I arrived home to one surprise and one anticipated delight – flowers from our older son (unsigned card, but the sentiment leads me to believe…) and an Apple Pie from my baker-extrordinaire husband, who knows how much his Apple Pie is appreciated (and not just by me…our grandson often has asked for that for his birthday "cake" when he knows we are coming.)

Yea for Birthdays!

Victoria Souvenir, Restyled

I have been waiting all Fall to wear this swirly second-hand skirt, perfectly colored for Autumn and bringing bounce to every step of the day! Wednesday dawned sunny and warm, and I would be presenting at an admissions open house event in the evening. My plan for this outfit came together a few days earlier, aiming for a bit of spiffiness coupled with a bit of spunk. I received compliments on the outfit and felt "like a rock star" all day, as Sheila would say!

Story behind the skirt is here. Story behind the boots is here. The multi-colored bolero-type sweater is from J.Jill years ago, necklace by my neighbor's daughter, also years ago. And if you are wondering who Sheila is, check out her blog here.

Election Day 2018 (yesterday)

I was determined to help out and do something active on Election Day – either drive people to the polls or knock on doors and remind people to vote. In an email from the local representative of Moms Demand Action, a group advocating for common sense gun laws, it was noted that Pete Harckham, running for New York State Senate, received an F rating from the NRA (National Rifle Association) and his opponent received an A rating. I promptly checked out Pete's views on the issues of his voting area, which is across the county from where I live, and realized that if he were running in my area I would be voting for him, so I signed up to canvas for him on Election Day.

But first, Fred and I walked up to our polling place to vote at 7 in the morning, delighted by the heavy turnout. Then off I went to school for first and second period classes, my only classes of the day. After an early lunch I headed north to Sleepy Hollow, smiling because this district encompasses Phelps Memorial Hospital where our grandson was born in 2015.

I was not completely clear about where to report, first being asked to stop by one person's home to pick up materials and then being confirmed for working at Philipsburg Manor, so I went to the home first. It turns out that canvassing was no longer necessary but I was welcome to go to the polling location at the Manor and hold a placard. Eager to do something, I took the placard and headed off to the Manor, relieved at being told there was an awning to stand under because it was pouring rain.

I knew that legally no placard holding could take place within 100 feet of a polling place, and had been told the awning area was okay. However, the first voter to see me immediately questioned if I was allowed to be where I was. Not wanting to accidentally be too close to the polls, I followed her inside and asked the poll watcher, who kindly came back out in the rain and explained that the edge of the awning by the parking lot was off limits but just beyond the awning was okay. He suggested I stand under the awning and hold the placard just beyond it.

In order to take the picture I set up my camera under the awning, stepped out into the parking lot and turned to face the polling building, which was the museum shop for the Manor. Otherwise, I was standing under the awning facing out towards the lot.

My message to voters was "Thank you for coming out to vote on this rainy day." About 10 minutes later a man heading in to vote said, rather gruffly, he did not approve of what I was doing and I should not be there. This surprised me a little and I was eager to speak with him after he voted. I asked if he would please explain his sentiments, and we proceeded to have a brief conversation. He thought Pete was a very nice person and wanted to know if I was holding the sign of my own accord or had been asked to do so. I explained that a representative of Pete's campaign committee had asked me to hold the sign. He then went on to say that he didn't think people should do electioneering at a polling place, that voting was a very private process and voters should not be subjected to advertising at the polls, and then off he went. Standing in the rain isn't the best environment for a conversation!

His comments did get me thinking back to my experiences voting. I did not have a firm opinion on seeing people campaigning at the polls but do have a recollection of having a conversation about that years ago (and do not recall what my opinion was back then!)

Soon after another gentleman stopped by looking for Kykuit. I directed him into the polling building, which also houses the ticketing office for Kykuit, and on his way out he stopped to say that he completely admired what I was doing. That was a pleasant and interesting change from the previous two conversations! Turns out he is British, recently retired from 32 years as a Barrister in London, and had returned to New York to visit those locations he had missed years ago when he lived here for awhile. His adventure would take him to upstate as well as Vermont. We chatted a bit and he went on to explain British traditions around elections, saying that placards and such were part of their process.

Before heading home I took a photo of the No Electioneering Beyond This Point sign, something I had not initially seen because in the rain and wind the sign had wrapped around itself.

The last time I worked on Election Day was in 2008 when, along with three other friends, we drove to Pennsylvania and spent the day canvassing there to remind people to get out and vote. That day felt momentous. Fred and I have already decided that for Election Day 2020 we will sign up to work the polls in the morning, and then I will contact a local group to see about driving people to the polls. 

Last Day of October

Yesterday was the last day of October, Halloween, and a glorious day weather-wise! It began early in the morning with the first frost on the marsh, the chilled air causing me to drive to school with gloves on, and

concluded hours later with a glorious walk on the Boardwalk at Rye Town Beach and Playland, where the abundant sun was warm enough to forego hat and gloves.

Ahhh :-)

Baltimore Museum of Art

This weekend included Grandfriends' Day at our grandchildren's school, along with the Harvest Festival, which wound up being rescheduled for next weekend due to predicted strong winds and rain. One of the perks of Grandfriends' Day is after visiting classrooms and delighting in our grandchildren showing us around, we leave with them for early dismissal, visit their school book fair, go out for lunch and ice cream, and then make an adventure. 

Our adventure for this year was the Baltimore Museum of Art, a first visit for our granddaughter and me, and a second visit for my husband and our grandson, who had been here once before with his Dad. I was immediately smitten with this airy museum because the people who work and volunteer there are immensely friendly and relate well to children. On top of that, entry is free and the art work is displayed in spacious rooms with fun passageways between collections. Several of the collections have children's activity booklets designed to make the space accessible to youngsters. And the collections are varied yet small enough to absorb on a visit, though on this visit we only saw a small bit of the museum's collections. Most definitely this is a place I would like to return!

Here are photos from the hanging exhibit in the atrium of one of the entrances. More about the Museum can be found here.

Second Wedding of the Month!

We spent a contented whirlwind in Philadelphia this weekend, visiting with Fred's brother and attending a family wedding. Saturday Steve trained in from West Chester to join us for lunch and a visit to the Barnes Museum. 

Years (perhaps 15ish) ago, Fred and I spent a weekend visiting the Barnes in Merion, Philadelphia when the collection was housed in its original space. Part of the magic of viewing the collection then was its location in the home of  Barnes, where he purposely hung works or displayed furniture pieces in very particular places and arrangements. You can read more about Albert Barnes here, and the Barnes Foundation here. Taken together, the articles provide a cohesive background on the collection, the aims of Barnes, and the fascinating multi-year story of how the collection came to be housed in its new home and new building in Philadelphia. Curiously, on the current Barnes Museum site I could not find any information about Barnes or the original history of the collection or its move. 

Most of the photos from our visit were taken by Steve using his spanking new iPhone with the phenomenal camera and screen resolution. The reflecting pool just outside the entrance was captured twice, once on our way in and then again on our way out. Because the camera is waterproof, the second time Steve submerged part of the phone in the reflecting pool! Me with the Matisse is a photo taken just to send to my Aunt, as several years ago she, Fred and I had a plan to visit the Barnes together in celebration of her birthday (till her bout with the flu kiboshed that adventure.) Still, it's never too late to experience the Museum second hand! And the photo of the women totally wowed me and I had to share it with friends. With seven current and former colleagues from school we named ourselves The Disrupters, and wouldn't you know it – this art work has eight women; perhaps the original Disrupters? ;-)

Of course, our requisite three-some selfie! On the upper part of the wall behind us is Matisse's "45-by-15-foot triptych" The Dance II, commissioned by Barnes in 1932.

The wedding we attended was for my cousin's daughter. The ceremony and reception were held in the ballroom of the National Museum of American Jewish History, with cocktails on the third floor Freedom Experience, which afforded us opportunity to walk through parts of the Museum's Core Exhibition. In addition to the collection, which I would like to spend more time perusing, the 2010 building is impressive and you can read more about its design here.

Out of respect for my relatives' privacy I am only sharing two photos from the evening. One is the reverse side of the program and explains the traditions observed during the ceremony. The other is the table display for each person's place card. At either end of the display are photos of the bride's (on the right) and groom's (on the left) parents on their wedding days. The four black and white photos are of the bride's and groom's grandparents on their wedding days. As you might imagine, family plays a large role in both families.

And here we are, in our cocktail hour finery. :-) (One without a flash and one with; couldn't decide which I liked better!) When we were packing for the trip, Fred quipped that his wedding shoes truly were his "wedding shoes", as they are the same pair he wore to our wedding 40 years ago! For the curious, details about my dress are here, when I wore it for my birthday last year.




First Wedding of the Month!

Delightedly, we have been invited to two weddings this month, one of which was yesterday in Poughkeepsie, NY, and the second which will be later in the month in Philadelphia, PA. The Poughkeepsie bride we have known for at least 20 years. Indeed, when she was in 7th grade she was a student in a required class where I taught HyperCard (an old favorite!) We have known her parents even longer, as we all taught at the same school.

The invitation stated "Casual Dress" and the vast majority of women wore pants, and only one or two men wore jackets and ties. We smiled to think we were overdressed, because that is definitely not our usual M.O.! I was tickled to finally wear this orange Eileen Fisher dress (scroll to view), and even more tickled because way back in July my husband said it looked perfect at the length it is and encouraged me to wear it to this wedding.

The ceremony was held in the Shakespeare Garden at Vassar College. This was a celebration for family and friends on the east coast, as the couple was legally wed several weeks ago in California where they reside. The bridal party wore period clothingand the ceremony included dancing, wine, handfasting (a first for us so I just looked up its meaning), and a reading by a close friend of the bride's mother. [UPDATE 10/21/18 - Bride's Mom said it was okay to post a photo of the bride and groom.]

Afterwards the entire wedding party and guests reconvened at a dance hall not far from Vassar where we were treated to a wonderful array of food, music at volume that was so perfect we could actually have conversations with others (!), dancing, and dessert. The bride, groom and their wedding party arrived about thirty minutes after the guests, and we oooed and ahhed to their first dance which, of course, was choreographed by them. (They are both dancers, singers and overall performers.)

After the champagne toast the goblets were to be taken home as gifts, along with a lovely handmade card by the bride's father (an artist and art teacher).

We had a lovely time experiencing our first-ever Shakespearean themed wedding and a reconnecting with colleagues from school, some of whom we hadn't seen since leaving eight years ago.

Fun!

It was a busy, full, fun week at school. Haven't been able to say that in a long, long while, and not just because there was a gloriously long summer between the end of the last school year and the start of this one. Last year was a tough school year. This year looks like it will be markedly improved. Yippee!!

Monday I dressed for warmth in the MakerSpace. Tuesday I dressed for joy. And sometime during the week Fred caused a smile when he emailed me an amazing photo of his most recent outdoor sculpture that greets me every morning and upon every return. Ahhh. :-)

The bold necklace and matching earrings (worn with the second outfit) are from Caroline (daughter-in-law's sister) and her current hometown of Quito, Ecuador. All pieces are hand made. The necklace can be made shorter or longer by an ingenious system of matching cord – hold one end and pull the other and the length changes.