Grace Farms

About two years ago my cousin told us about a place in New Caanan, CT where it was lovely to walk around and, more interestingly for him and his wife, where they had gone to share a community dinner that takes place once a month. Fred and I have had it on our calendar to visit and kept pushing it off till yesterday, the second day of a a 4-day weekend, when the weather provided a sunny, windy 80+ degrees and we were eager to finally make the visit. After lunch we made the approximately 45 minute drive north and inland, and arrived for two hours of calming, walking the River plus a longer path around a pond, picture taking, and relaxing.

Grace Farms speaks for itself on its website, and the image of the River (a building) and their physical site is highlighted in the opening images. Nonetheless, below are our photos. [PS My husband was curious to learn more about the people behind Grace Farms. A little web searching led to Grace Community Church. On our visit to Grace Farms we were told that a church had a long term contract to use the auditorium. You can read more about the association between the building of Grace Farms and the Grace Community Church on the our history page for the Church.]

And of course, I always like to take a selfie of the two of us!

Most impressive to us was the inside of the 700 seat auditorium. The seats are perfectly aligned in a gentle downward sloping curve. Turns out that not only is each set of chair legs bolted to the floor, but depending upon where a chair is in a row its legs are customized to fit the location, i.e. curve and position in the row. Amazing. And the views from the auditorium's windows, the curved glass for which came from Spain, are quite intriguing.

Afterwards we ambled thru the town of New Caanan, stopping at a wood shop that sold various items made of wood as well as wood-like items made from recyclables. I can just picture my grandchildren (and all of the adults in my family!) playing with this elaborately crafted marble run. To complete our outing we had dinner at Farmer's Table (a cup of mushroom soup and 1.5 servings of the Beet Salad for me; a cup of crab/lobster bisque and Chicken Quesadilla for Fred.)

Pictures for School

Last week all faculty were invited to submit a photo of themselves on the first day of school, ideally from a lower school grade (also known as elementary school). Our lower school covers Pre-K through Grade 5, so I submitted a photo of me at age 10, which was in 1964. The picture is actually of me and my brother, but since students would have no idea who my brother is I cropped the photo to be just me. 

We were also asked, by a different teacher, to submit a picture of ourselves that we subtitle by completing the statement: I am… Submitting the first picture was fun; submitting the second picture required me (and 9 other faculty) being sent a second and third email, the last one reminding us that we were the only ones who had not submitted a picture and surely we did not want to be left out of the slide show. I succumbed and took this picture in the Makerspace, which is where I spend a large portion of my time. And my statement: I am playful.

A delightful little art museum

This past Friday afternoon we went to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. This was a planned visit, as we were spending the weekend with my brother-in-law who lives in West Chester, PA, and then with him visiting family in Baltimore for the day on Saturday.

That's my husband, me and my brother-in-law draping ourselves over a bronze pig on the museum grounds after having walked through all the interior exhibits.

The Brandywine is a small, easy and comfortable museum to navigate, situated in an old mill overlooking the Brandywine River. We were interested in seeing the Andrew Wyeth retrospective. I was only familiar with one of his paintings, the one that is perhaps his most iconic, named Christina's World. The exhibit provided extensive background information on Wyeth, his family of prolific artists (beginning with his father), and the story of Christina. Early on in the exhibit I learned that, for the most part, Andrew Wyeth's paintings are deeply personal studies. And my response to the vast majority, in fact almost all of those paintings is they are dull, drab, and often sad. That's not to say that Wyeth didn't have amazing technique, for he surely did, it's just that his topics and how he saw those topics never resonated with me and my life experience or outlook on life. Nonetheless, since I had a response to his paintings, that alone speaks to his artistry and his ability to provoke and share via paintings. 

I enjoyed having the time to browse the galleries on my own time and my own terms, to read descriptions or not, to pause and linger or not, to be moved or to question or to appreciate or nod in understanding or disagreement. A testament to the power of art. 

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Back in January 2016 I completed the first #Make30Photos Challenge with Emma Davies. She is running another online class and over the summer posted a new set of challenges – 30 Days of Composition. I may (or may not) eventually post them all on one page, but for now am just sharing them as they happen. In this case, these pictures were taken at the museum, and while most of them appear to focus on patterns, shadows and reflections, they could meet any number of the proposed challenges. The fun for me is being prodded to pause, and to look at something with a non-typical perspective.


First Day of School

Back to school on a sunny day in the high 80s – a gentle reminder that summer hasn't left us yet! My school has a comfortable dress code, meaning faculty may wear jeans, shorts, leggings and tunics, pretty much anything that counts as appropriately modest, clean and neat. 

I did not have any classes today, and actually will not have any for at least a week since my role as an Integrator means there have to be projects that lend themselves to STEAM integration. Since the first two weeks of school are given to assessments and getting routines established, those of us with the title of Integrator use the time to prep spaces and attend meetings.

I looked forward to wearing this outfit because it is the first wearing of one of the two tops purchased from ModCloth. Ever since Sheila (of the blog Ephemera) extolled the delights of pattern mixing, I have been a BIG fan, as you will see with the top and the shorts.

The top was quite comfortable, is made of soft, light weight material that does not bulk up when tucked in, and has a longer hem so it can also be worn untucked over leggings. The shorts are my favorite, oldies from the Gap, same for the orange sweater; belt is probably from the Gap or LL Bean many, many years ago. Sandals from Lands End. Earrings, of seeds, made in Ecuador and gifted by the sister of my daughter-in-law. I felt springy and comfortable all day long.


102nd Street

We went with one notion – to see Michael's bench, to sit and share a sense of grace. Ann and I remain stalwart fans of author Louise Penny and her Three Pines family, brought together by Inspector Armand Gamache. In July of 2016 Ann and I adventured to Canada to see first hand the places that inspired Louise to create this world of fiction, mystery, and murder, and powerful friendships.

Along the way we grew to know Louise Penny, receiving her monthly newsletter where she writes to us as if we were each her neighbor in a close knit town. This meant we also grew to know Michael, her wonderful husband, who died last September after living with dementia and Alzheimer's.

And so it came to be that Ann and I met at Grand Central Station this past Friday, September 1, having each traveled by our local Metro North line into the city. A perfect city day – sunny, blue sky, gentle wind, clean air, not overly crowded. We ambled and walked north, with minor detours to the west and east, from 42nd Street all the way to 102nd and Central Park. Stopping to purchase food for a picnic lunch in the park, serenaded during lunch by an impromptu jazz band, we eventually made our way to Michael's bench. And from there, after paying our respects, we walked onwards to 125th Street and the Metro North Harlem stop, parting to board our respective trains and wind down a wonderful day spent in the company of friends.

We began with a full on visit to the reading rooms of the 42nd Street Public Library, with Patience and Fortitude guarding the entry. No pictures taken because I was too busy "oohing" and "ahhing" silently over the wondrous interior. (Hard to believe this was my first visit there!!!) The first picture has Rockefeller Center in the background, a bit washed out in the light, perhaps looking less familiar than in winter when the ice skating rink is in full mode. We detoured through the Cooper Hewitt gardens and museum store, stopping just long enough to play in Alice's tea cups. Michael's bench speaks for itself. And on our walk north from there we passed multiple community gardens; the heart on this one summed up our day.


Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, NY

Thirty-three years living in Westchester County, NY, and I continue to be surprised by how much there is to see in the surrounding area. The Buddhist Association of the United States, Chuang Yen Monastery, located in Carmel, NY, in Putnam County, is just shy of an hour's drive north and slightly west. Fred and I spent time there a week ago, Friday, August 25, walking the grounds and exploring The Great Buddha Hall, where the western hemisphere's largest indoor buddha resides.

Several years ago, when querying friends about interesting places to visit, I received this reply regarding the Monastery: It's not far, the grounds are beautiful and lovely to wander through. The temple is interesting, calming and on the weekends there is an opportunity to join for a vegetarian lunch. It's such a gentle place.

We, too, found the Monastery interesting. However, ten years ago we traveled to Todaiji in Nara, Japan, home of an extremely large bronze statue of the Buddha, which is housed in an extremely large wooden temple. Our expectation for Change Yen was definitely influenced by having our Japanese experience in the back of our minds. As a result, we were underwhelmed by the grounds, even though our friend had described them as "beautiful and lovely to wander through." We did appreciate the calm, and the sense of having stepped into a place that was off the beaten path and seemingly nestled away in the woods. And ultimately we were glad to have visited, to have given our senses a rest from the daily intake of sights and sounds.

Opening Faculty Meetings 2017-18

This was me last year on the second day of opening faculty meetings. And here I am a year later.

This was a fun outfit to put together and, as Sheila often writes, a dress is the easiest item of clothing to style. The sandals are from Land's End several years ago; the sweater from Ann Taylor. Earrings, which you cannot see, are blue and green inlaid on silver drop earrings, a gift from a friend many years ago (maybe 20 years ago!) The bracelet and necklace both are hand beaded and were made in Mexico. The bracelet a gift from my daughter-in-law's sister; the necklace a gift from the sister of a colleague at school. Both are beautifully crafted pieces.

The backpack, a red Mountaintop Kid Backpack, is the same one that each of my grandchildren have (they each have different colours). It is the first backpack I have tried as an adult that actually fits the contours of my back and lands in all the right places. Most adult backpacks tend to be too long or too wide for my shorter torso/back.

And then there is the dress, a simple cotton sleeveless dress that is fitted till the waist and then flows to just the right length. This summer I discovered ModCloth, and this is one of two dresses I purchased. It is comfortable to wear, and I like the easy print and bold blue colour. Am saving the second dress to wear for the first time on my birthday (in November). And then there are the two tops I bought, which will surely make their debuts within the coming days or weeks.

Early Morning Walkers

Earlier this summer I read an article about the beauty and benefits of rising between the hours of 4 and 6 in the morning, not an uncommon occurrence in our house as my husband is up between 4 and 5, and I rise between 4:30 and 5:30. We are avid walkers, though summer's hotter temperatures usually cause us to take a break from long walks. After reading the article, we decided to begin walking early in the morning, starting our day with the sunrise while benefitting from the quiet, calm, cooler hours of the day.

Recently, my favored walking outfit consists of long pants and sleeves to provide protection from early morning hungry insects! Years ago, perhaps in 2008, after his multi-year sojourn in Japan as a student, our older son traveled home via stops in SE Asia. One of the gifts he brought back were these Thai fisherman pants. For awhile they sat in a drawer as I wasn't quite sure what to wear them for or how to wear them. In the past four or so years I discovered how wonderfully comfortable they are for practicing yoga, kayaking, and walking.

As for the glory of mornings, even during winter my husband and I are early risers. We appreciate the quiet and calm before the sun rises, before the neighborhood awakens. In summer we listen to early morning bird song; in winter we cuddle in fleece blankets while reading. Year round, when not walking in the morning, I practice yoga while my husband reads, side-by-side, enjoying the quiet time together.

And now, off I go to join my husband for a kayak! (PS He also has Thai fisherman pants and just this morning decided to finally start wearing them as they are perfect for kayaking.)

Lastly, I am linking to Judith's Style Crone even though I missed the most recent linkup for a Hat Attack. When the next Hat Attack opens I will return to this post and add the link. My hat is from LL Bean, was once my husband's till he bought himself a similar one from some place else, and has been my go-to kayaking hat for the vast majority of our kayaks because it is lightweight, permits air flow, is unsusceptible to salt water, dries quickly, and has a strap that 99 percent of the time keeps the hat on top of my head in stronger winds.

SUP & Lavender Labyrinth

We live on a tidal creek that flows into Mamaroneck Harbor and from there into Long Island Sound. Multiple times this summer I have seen stand up paddleboarders heading out from the Harbor to the Sound. Turns out that SUP Westchester is based in the Harbor at the entrance to Harbor Island Park. I also have a friend in the neighborhood who launches her SUP from her backyard, much like we launch our kayaks from our backyard.

No surprise then, that SUP has been on my "I'd like to try that" list for the past few months. This week I had the delightful opportunity to try SUP at my brother-in-law's home in Lewes, DE, thanks to our niece who keeps her paddleboard at her parent's on their backyard dock. Their backyard abuts a long narrow finger-like branch of a large manmade lake created as a Mill Pond.

Not only did I try SUP and remain upright the entire time, but my husband tried, as well, and had the same satisfying experience. We are both rather pleased with our accomplishments! Okay, so the Mill Pond is quite calm, though filled in places with lily pads. But it wasn't all calm when I first went out!

The sky was cloudy and the forecast was fine, so off I went on the SUP with my sister-in-law joining in a kayak with my niece and her almost 4-year old son in another kayak. We reached the end of the "finger", with my niece having turned around earlier, amidst tiny raindrops. The raindrops began to turn to a light drizzle, then a stronger drizzle. Around this time a flotilla of niece and her son, my husband, and his younger brother joined us, each in their own kayaks. And then the stronger drizzle became rain. Not just simple rain but full force, in your face (and on our eyeglasses) rain, thumping down in large drops that I kept thinking might turn to sleet!

So back we went to the dock, arriving soaked from the rain. And then the sun came out! And it was my husband's turn to try SUB. And off he went, able to explore a bit further in the Mill Pond thanks to the sunshine lighting the way. Would have included a picture of my husband but there wasn't anyone around to take one.

During our visit we saw much of the Lewes-Rehoboth area, including stops at several beaches and swimming in one of them. We also visited Lavender Fields in Milton, DE, where my sister-in-law and I walked their peaceful and calming labyrinth. 

And for posterity, here we are on their back deck, content as can be :-)

Sax Motors Studebaker

Look what we found online!

My Dad's father owned a Studebaker dealership during the 1920s and 30s, as noted by my Dad in his memoires:

My father, as was common in those times, and owning his own business, spent most days at "The Place", which meant the Studabaker car showroom, located a 350 South Broadway, a short walk from the Park Hill Gardens.

[From The Yonkers Herald: First photo "is the exterior of the new car showroom and service station at 350 South Broadway" and the second photo "is an interior view of the same showroom." The exterior looks the same today, many years later, though the interior is now subdivided into multiple stores. There is also a vacant lot to the left of the building, and I wonder if it was used as a driveway in and out of the dealership.]

My Dad did a number of things for me that I never knew about until years later. To allow me to go to summer camp, he paid for it by paying the camp owner in the form of a car. He suffered through the years of financial depression, which contributed to his demise 16 days before his 52nd birthday. He, as others of his age, lived at a time when all the things we now know about healthy eating, exercise, smoking (cigars every day) and other health measures were unknown. These things plus the immense pressures of the 1929 market crash and the great depression of the 30's made Dad and his peers prime candidates for early death due to heart attacks about which doctors knew little. Thus, Dad and I only had 17 years together.

Last week I pulled out a box of clippings and papers stored in our attic, and found what I was looking for – copies of newspaper stories about my grandfather from The Yonkers Herald in the 1930s!

My grandfather was the president of Burton Motors (named for my Dad), located in Manhattan and the Bronx (though the area of the dealership is now part of Yonkers, which is in Westchester County, so perhaps the overriding locale changed over the years.) The images below are photos I took of the newspaper clippings, and the clippings themselves appear to be copies made of the originals.

From The Yonkers Herald, Saturday, January 9, 1932

From The Studebaker News, March 29, 1935
From The Yonkers Herald (date missing from the copy I have); take note of the lower right hand corner blurb; it attracted my attention simply because the paper found it newsworthy (and I took a picture to make it easier to read)