Communal Yoga Potluck Dinner

This June marks the second year of my leading twice-weekly yoga practices at our local community clubhouse. Last year we celebrated with a brunch after a morning class; this year we shared a potluck communal dinner after an evening restorative practice. This was our last evening practice till the Fall, as the pool opens this coming weekend making the clubhouse a busy area filled with all the fun activities of summer.

Most Mondays I have tended to wear outfits that made it easy to transition from school to yoga, and this past Monday was no exception. I purchased the skirt several years ago expressly to have as a cover-up when going to yoga workshops. The leggings and black short-sleeve top are both sentimental oldies (the top having been my Mom's and the leggings a gift from the French language teacher I met my first year at the school where I currently teach.) The sleeveless top was a new purchase at The Gap about two weeks ago; a small bit of retail therapy to soothe the soul after undergoing multiple tests to check on a virus that thankfully was just that - a virus and nothing more, and am delighted to say it has fully passed!

The Owl

Last week the second graders were visited by an owl, specifically a Barred Owl, from The Tenafly Nature Center in New Jersey. The space I am in, the Makerspace, has sufficient room for upwards of 30 children and several adults, which is why I knew about the visit and was able to join the session. I was quite agog to see an owl this close! I live on a marsh and have seen Great Horned Owls sitting on high tree branches late at night, but those night views made it impossible to distinguish features; it was a privilege to see the Barred Owl right in front of me!

Art & Science of Chanting

The Westchester Holistic Network is housed on the second floor of a building at the top of a steep hill off a main road in Hartsdale, New York. It is one of those buildings where if you type in the GPS for the actual address you will never find the building. Thankfully, yesterday evening's thunder and majestic lightening storm had given way to simple rain by the time I left for a 7:00 p.m. event at the WHN.

The Art & Science of Chanting: Mantras for the Body, Mind and Heart was an hour long session led by a friend of mine. Having spent close to five weeks this Spring trying to shake a viral infection, it was liberating to finally have the energy to head out for an evening event on a school night. Yippee to feeling better and to attending a participatory session where singing simply added to my sense of well-being!

Not much else to share beyond the link above to a post I wrote about the mantras. My outfit was rather plain and simple, a go-to rainy day pair of light weight pants, short-sleeve patterned tee-shirt, and a fun bouclé long sleeve sweater providing a layer to deal with the humidity, cooler weather, and air conditioning in the space where I spend most of my time at school. It was such a "regular plain and simple" outfit that I didn't bother with a photo!

Me and My Girl

Yesterday I joined my Aunt and one of my father's cousins for lunch in the city (at la Bonne Soupe) followed by seeing the revival of Me and My Girl as part of the Encores! presentations at New York City Center. This is the second time I've seen this musical, the first time being in the late 1980s with Jim Dale in the starring role. This time around the New York Times review was not as kind as the one written in the 1980s (see the link for Jim Dale.)

Regardless of the Times' review, I reveled in the music! Familiarity with the lyrics and with a love of watching professional hoofers on stage, I spent most of yesterday's show with a wide grin on my face. For a sampling of what I saw, click the link above for Me and My Girl and watch the video of highlights starring the current cast.

The theatre is described as "neo-Moorish" and if you are interested in the genesis of how the City Center came to be, you can read more about it here.

The Met Breuer

Last week into this we had three Dutch friends staying with us. Ours is a fun and long family history: Bob and Jane (Fred's parents) met Antje and Hans sometime during the 1970s when Bob was teaching abroad in the Netherlands. We eventually became friends with Antje and Hans and over the course of many years they visited us several times in New York. In the 1990s their daughter spent a summer month with us at our home, combining child care and tourism. With our our sons we visited Antje and Hans in 2007 and during the visit Antje took us to Rotterdam to visit their children. By then, her daughter was a mother so we also met her daughter's family. In the time since then our older son became a papa, and with his family visited Antje's daughter and two younger children. And that brings the story to last week, when the daughter's husband and two older children spent a week with us. Like a fun run-on sentence, our families have enjoyed a steady relationship consisting of visits, lengthy emails, photos and, this year, FaceTiming.

Which brings me to The Met Breuer, a stop on our friends' list of places to visit. I went into the city with them on Sunday to see the Like Life Sculpture, Color, and the Body exhibit. Below are pictures of some of the sculptures. Suffice it to say that if you are not sure if you are looking at a real person or a sculpture of a real person, you can imagine how I felt, especially with the sculptures that included real human hair, clothing, and other details. 

On the exhibit page if you scroll down to the section titled "Between Life and Art" and then click the + to expand the description you will be able to see in more detail four of the pieces in this section. The image of a contemporary man, clothed on top and naked on bottom, was incredibly realistic and I had to remind myself that it was simply a cast sculpture and not a mime playing dead.

The hot cocoa (made with milk and chocolate ganache) was delightedly sipped at the downstairs Flora Bar at the museum.

Because it happened

Tuesday, April 10, a fire broke out in a row of eight row homes in Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Alas, one of the row homes is our son's and daughter-in-law's. It has been a surreal week, to say the least. I debated about putting this out here, but then, as the post's title says, because it happened…because it happened it needs to be acknowledged. I am learning that from yoga. The article below comes from The Baltimore Sun

The latest news, almost a week later, is the City of Baltimore is going to tear down what remains because the roof no longer exists for any of the eight homes, there is extensive water damage, and there were no fire walls between the homes, this being an 1880 building that was subdivided inside at some point, likely before there was a fire code stipulating the need for fire walls. 

There was a helicopter and news live feed as the fire was burning, and while my husband and I were watching we had to smile at one point because who should be interviewed but our daughter-in-law's father. His presence on film was so unexpected, and he was so true to himself in the interview, that we found a reason for a smile amidst everything that was going on.

And one last comment, thank goodness for homeowner's insurance. At the most pressing moments the assistance is the most needed. Friends (classmate of our granddaughter's) put our son and his family up for the rest of the week so the children could continue attending school. And a representative from the insurance company arrived the evening of the fire, presented our son with a debit card for necessities, found them a short term rental (at Home 2 Suites, which is like a hotel but with some kitchen amenities), and has found them a long term rental where they anticipate moving today or tomorrow.  [4/19/18 UPDATE - After 6 nights in the hotel, today they move into a long term rental that is 1.5 miles from their house.] My heart goes out to the renters who lived in some of the row homes, as my understanding is some did not have renter's insurance. The community of Hampden is rallying around any of the folks who need assistance. 

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Talia RichmanTalia Richman, Contact Reporter, The Baltimore Sun

A two-alarm fire heavily damaged as many as eight rowhouses in Hampden Tuesday.

About 70 first responders with the Baltimore Fire Department arrived at the blaze in the 3900 block of Roland Ave. just before noon, said department spokeswoman Blair Skinner. By 3 p.m., the fire was contained.

The fire started in the area just below the roof in one of the rowhouses and spread down the block. There were no injuries, Skinner said.

"Because of the intensity of the fire and the heavy wind conditions, it just spread down the row," she said.

The investigation into the cause is ongoing, Skinner said.

In aftermath of Hampden fire residents assess loss of some memories revival of others

Roughly an hour after the first call, heavy smoke and fire were visible from the roofs of about a dozen homes. Most residents evacuated on their own, though firefighters had to rescue some people and pets.

Amy Miller and her three siblings grew up on this block, in the rowhouse with octagon windows at the center of the line of burning homes.

Four of her family members still live there, including her 71-year-old mother, who had to be evacuated in her wheelchair with the help of firefighters. Miller rushed to the scene from Dundalk as soon as she heard about it on the news.

"Years and years of memories are gone," she said. "This house was our foundation."

Still, she said, she feels lucky her family members and their puppy made it out of the home without injuries.

"We can get another house," said Miller, 31. "I can't get another mom."

Oscar Decombel, 69, is visiting from Brussels, Belgium, and housesitting for his son-in-law, whose home caught on fire. He stood with his wife and a group of other neighborhood residents behind police caution tape, across the street from his son-in-law's burning home.

He watched as powerful hoses sent water across the smoking roof and into open windows, blasting pieces of the structure into the air. He and his wife had evacuated more than an hour earlier and had begun thinking about where they'll spend the night.

Decombel comes to visit from Brussels a couple times a year, often helping his son-in-law fix up the house. He recently replaced the carpet with hardwood floors.

"That will be ruined," he said. "We'll have to start all over again."

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke stopped by Tuesday evening to survey the damage and meet with residents. Red notices were affixed to several front doors declaring the structures “Condemned.”

“We have a lot of work to do,” Clark said. But at least, she noted, everyone got out safely. “Even the pets.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Christina Tkacik contributed to this article.

#MarchForOurLives

This afternoon, on a gloriously sunny Saturday, we marched in our local neighborhood. Gathering with some 2,000 others at our MS/HS campus, we then trekked to our upper elementary school, followed by walking past our lower elementary school on our way to Florence Park. (image above thanks to mailing list shared by a neighbor)

Unlike the two January marches (2017 and this year), this march had a different vibe, partially because of its size but more so because it was local. It was my husband, our neighbor across the street and her daughter, our neighbors one block away and their children, our neighbor five houses away, our former neighbors (now in another neighborhood), another neighbor from our block and his daughter and their dog, a neighbor "up the hill" a few blocks away…and so on. Like many of the small town marches that took place today around the country, this was a march of regular people in small communities who share a belief that our children should be safe and our politicians should be responsible and take action.

This is not a democrat or republican issue; this is a family, people, human issue.

Students were handing out orange "tickets." Take a look. I asked one student what the $1.05 represented. He responded: That's the amount per student in Florida that Florida State Senator Marco Rubio has received from the NRA. Imagine.

Fond Farewell to Flannels

My flannel lined Land's End jeans have saved me, probably for 15 years, from freezing during long winter walks. Alas, they were bound to wear out. About a year or two ago I tried to replace them, sampling flannel lined jeans from Land's End and LLBean. All were stiff and too high waisted, none were comfortable. I know that denim softens up with repeated washing and wearing, but was not prepared to go through that process again.

This year I had no choice but to finally bid a fond farewell to those flannels. There were too many holes – in both knees, under both rear pockets, and at both sitz bones, along with extensive fraying at the hem of both legs. The first three photos show the truth in my claim!

A few days ago I began the search for new flannel lined jeans, first looking at, and deciding against, Land's End and LLBean. Then a light bulb went off – instead of going with the knowns, just type in a search for womens flannel lined jeans. And look what I found! Eddie Bauer Women's Boyfriend Flannel-Lined Jeans on sale for a substantially lower price than otherwise. You can see them in the last two photos. An added perk is they actually are a whole lot less baggy, indeed they are not baggy at all, than my previous flannels. Am wearing them now as I type this post, and besides being warm and comfortable, for the first time I don't feel like a stuffed panda in them! Yippee for flannels that fit my frame!

First look at the Behomoth

The mighty oak was felled this past Fall. A magnificent tree, close to or just past 100 years old, was cut down to make way for a developer-built home, better known as a spec-house.

Here we are months later, having just entered Spring, and the spec-house is rising. This is the view from one of our living room windows. Yes, Spring was ushered in with snow. This new house will be 4,000 square feet; more than twice the size of our home.

Spring 2018

I know it has snowed in Springs past, having always been on Spring break during the last two weeks of March (that's when independent schools tend to have vacation, rather than one week in February and one in April.) I can recall one Spring taking our young sons to Washington D.C. amidst snow, and one Spring hoping to begin gardening only to be foiled by snow (hmm, just like this one!)

Here, for posterity, is this morning's scene, snow begun yesterday and continued through the night. This is the view from our kitchen window; the colors are a reflection of the light sculpture made by my husband which sits atop a shelf over the refrigerator. Our backyard abuts the Westchester Land Trust property of Otter Creek and surrounding salt marsh (formerly Nature Conservancy property.)

There's about 8 inches on the street side. This photo was taken early in the morning looking diagonally across the street. Our red cars are in the driveway..