Monday, May 17, 2010

What is NY?

What is New York? It's big, that's what New York is. Which means this is a big apple big post. Believe me, I tried to keep it to a minimum. I spent three days in the City last week. Yum. Wow. Fun. (That's me using small words, trying to keep it short.)

So, what is New York? What can I say, I was a tourist. This is not a deep look into the heart of the City. Just a middle aged woman's snapshots.

New York is neighborhoods. Sixth Street in the Village, above, is inhabited by many Indians, and there are Indian restaurants up one side and down the other. I spent a lot of time in Midtown Manhattan, because that's where the museums are, but I would have liked to spend more time in residential areas like Lesley & Brian's Queens neighborhood. We did get out one day to the grocery store. I heard mostly Greek being spoken, and some Spanish. Below is one of several produce markets in Astoria. Look at that hot green tomata between the mangoes and papayas.

New York is museums, and art. This was my first time to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which I did in one day. I am a firm believer in the litest visit possible for large museums like the Louvre and the Met, focusing on a few exhibits in one trip. Besides what you see in the Met images below, I saw the American Woman costume exhibit. I wanted so badly to touch the crepe and beads of flapper dresses, or take close-up photographs of details of 1930s gowns. But the stern guards would have none of that.

At the MoMA, I limited my steps to the Cartier-Bresson exhibit on the 6th floor. Even with just that one area, I spent almost two hours, and I was exhausted at the end, emotionally and physically. You can only take so much in, you know? His portraits are enthralling, showing each celebrity in their own context and mannerisms, such as Jean-Paul Sartre with his pipe, below. His photos of street women are touching. And when I got to the images taken at the end of WWII (like the one in the lower left corner, below, of the woman in black about to strike the other woman, who had falsely accused her) and at the time of Gandhi's sudden death in India, with the crowds flocking to the train where his body swayed in a casket in the clacking train's rhythm, I could only weep. Such, my dears, is the power of photographs of people.

New York is eating out. Twice Lesley and I ate out alone together. The first was at the vegan Caravan of Dreams on 6th Street in Greenwich Village after she got out of work Thursday. (Next visit maybe we'll try one of those Indian places on 6th St.) The "live" (new term for "raw") salad was one of the most delicious I've tasted. It is a Zagat reviewed restaurant, and I give it four stars, vegan or no vegan. The other food spot she and I shared alone was for brunch Saturday at Park, under the High Line park, our delayed Mother's Day together-celebration. That is her dipping a bite of fried chicken steak in maple syrup below. Yep.

Saturday evening Lesley & Brian treated me to a dinner at the Tao that was so good I almost didn't realize I was devouring my tempura soft shell crab until it was gone. Apparently the restaurant name is pronounced with the "T" sound, not the "D" sound for the religion. And I helped myself to the lonely shrimp at the bottom of Lesley's bowl too. All that walking had me ravenous apparently. Tao was not a very religious place, but it was packed and hopping and overflowing with Euro-pop music around the big candle-lit Buddha. I loved hearing Brian tell family stories, since I am still getting to know my son-in-law less than one year after they married here on the farm. I sometimes regretted his witty humor though, because it hurt to laugh since earlier that day I fell hard on the concrete sidewalk near Union Square, bruising my ribs on my Nikon D40 sandwiched between the concrete and me. You'll be happy to know that neither the camera, nor my ribs, broke. But it frightened poor Lesley, and a nice man who waited to see if I was all right.

New York is fashion. I sweated a little before the trip, wondering what I would wear. Wanna be comfortable, but stylish enough to fit in. It's a blast to watch people in NY, of course, but all those gorgeous women on 5th Avenue, now they are really something, my daughter among them.

New York is transportation. Ever present is the question of how you will get around. How many trains does it take to get there? Should we just take a taxi? Lesley & Brian live not far from Laguardia Airport, in Astoria, Queens, so I took one of the black taxi-limos to their apartment. Well almost. The guy got confused and dropped me on the other side of Broadway (not the Manhattan one), and when I crossed I nearly got hit by a speeding turning car, me and my purse, camera, backpack with Apple Blossom and the wheeled carry-on. And there on the corner were Lesley & Brian gasping at my near demise, fresh from the subway after work, having just arrived on separate trains. It was perfect timing, at which point I was glad for the 1.5 hours sitting and waiting on the tarmac in Detroit.

C'est moi, below, waiting for the train.

New York is parks. Thank goodness for Central Park, and other parks around the City. But even with them, Lesley is getting antsy for a back yard. They don't have even a balcony at their beautiful apartment. It is easy for me to take the farm for granted, where I can walk out into Nature whenever I please.

I have been intrigued by the High Line park since it opened a year ago, and I posted about it at my Huffing-Puffing blog. The 10 blocks of elevated train tracks had been out of use for decades. They have turned it into an oasis where wildflowers and grasses grow just as they do along the train tracks of rural Michigan.

The white building below was designed by Frank Gehry. The photo below that shows the Empire State building in the distance. Polka dot lady has a Coke can handbag below that.

New York is shopping. But not for me. I think Lesley wishes I liked shopping, but she was a very good sport. Just about every woman who knew I was going to New York said something about shopping. I really, really, really don't like shopping. Especially in New York, where all the spaces are confined, and carrying bags around just takes up more space. The one thing I did shop for, and do wherever I go, was postcards in the museum shops. Besides sending them to people now and then, I use them as bookmarks. Remember me? I'm the woman who reads a few pages in many books and rarely finishes them. So, I need a lot of bookmarks.

New York is people. I was sad the first morning, acutely aware that I was not in the Midwest where strangers smile at me, and I smile back. Or vice versa. I felt lonely, in a sea of living, human waves. I adjusted by that first afternoon, but I could feel my psyche overwhelmed. I did enjoy watching people. Except when I didn't want to watch them any more. Then I just looked down at the sidewalk, like almost everyone else.

Besides Lesley & Brian, I even know a few other people in New York. It was a special treat to meet my visiting brother's freshest grandchild at his son's apartment by Central Park. This sleepy little big city farmgirl (she's in gingham, right?) is Eva. That's Papa (my brother Jim) holding her, her dad (Nathan) with her brother (Riley), and Lesley & Brian. Mom (Nancy) and Mimi (Jim's wife Wilma) are not in the photo.

You know how I love the small. And so, that is what I will end this big post with. I had such a good time. Thank you for visiting with me.



Loring Wirbel said...

Tao! Been there! Great pics, looks like you were graced with great weather, too.

Anonymous said...

Great post. You made me want to go to NY again. Looks like you had a great time!

Claudia said...

Oh I miss New York! Great post.

maggie said...

Ah Ruth-really enjoyed reading about New York. It has always been on a 'must do' list for me.
My hand went to my heart at the thought of you falling-having done so myself a few times-it's shocking to the system and psyche as an adult.

Susan said...

NYC through the inimitable Ruthie's eyes....the only better way to see it would be if I had been there with you. Love the little vignettes. Lucky Lesley and Brian...lucky New York.

Brenda said...

You captured some really great photos. I would love to go to NY someday.

Jeanie said...

Oh, Ruth -- it's so nice to visit with you -- fabulous photos. I've not been there for a very long while, but what you say reflects how I remember NYC -- lots of things, from transportation to shopping to parks and neighborhoods -- the neighborhoods, most of all.

So awfully glad you and the camera were OK after the fall. Looking forward to hear more after you settle back in at home and we lunch!

California Girl said...

you have many nice shots and it's fun to view them. sounds like you had a busy 3 days even if you didn't shop. i like window shopping especially in Manhatten just for the variety and heightening of the senses. Love the High Line green space and the bride & groom in the park.

my husband would die to see the Cartier Bresson exhibit.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a delightful tour of New York! I am crazy for that teal green coat with the golden flowers. Wonder if she would have sold it to me??

And what a gorgeous little big city farmgirl!!

Sandy said...

Ohhh loved your trip memories. I was in Manhattan about six years ago with my husband who had to be there on business. I love love love that city.

I love the fact that one can go eat at any time during the night, even 4 in the morning; love Central Park, Soho, everywhere. Love the food. I want to go back.

Loved this post.

Don said...

what a post. i love everything about it, especially my two girls i want to walk all over the city with you and your camera

freefalling said...

Wish I could tag around with you and Lesley - it looks like you had the best time!

I was looking for a real green tomato!
Love the bamboo thingy.
Love the shot of the spotty jumper looking at the JLDavid.
I think it is an American thing - maple syrup with meat.
Love the turquoise coat and the shot of you waiting for the train and Lesley's pink cardigan.
The shot of the flowers and the skyline is beautiful.
I've never seen that photo of T.Capote before - it's a stunner.
I could look at the last shot over and over - everytime I look at it, I see something different - and it's full of love and happiness and life.

Amazing what you can pack into 3 days, isn't it?

Mrs. M. said...

alright, so...

...don't have the time now to read everything, but have to say, I love the MMOA.

...very envious of your time with our family neither of us sees enough

...can't wait to have a quiet house to come back and absorb your weekend with you tomorrow morning.

luv abounds-

Marcie said...

Love your visual and verbal description of NYC life - what you saw and experienced and more. My eldest son lives there right now..loves it. And - there's nothing more exciting than going to visit that big apple. Just being there!

cathyswatercolors said...

Great post.I will need to go over this a few times. NY looks amazing I have always wanted to go. Looks wonderful and visiting you daughter there makes the visit even better. The white script on the photos is a new touch?
You look so cute with your footless tights and all.

What a fun visit and beautiful baby too!

Arti said...

I have a title for your post as I was going through it: "Ruthie's Feast." After reading about your two mishaps, 'near demise' as you described, I had another title in mind: "Mama's Day Out". Either one depicts the rich and abundant visual delights and adventures. What a wonderful trip! That Frank Gehry bldg. looks interesting, less fluid as his other works. But what's heart-warming is the last one: your family photo. Thanks for sharing all these beautiful memories with us, Ruth.

Pat said...

Thanks for taking me on your trip to NY. I loved it! Your photos and travel journal were both informative and very interesting. I loved NYC when we visited there before 9/11. It almost made me want to live there in an apartment - I got caught up in all the excitement! Quite a different life than what Jim and I lead now!

rauf said...

i am a big pain and embarrassment for my friends Ruth. i think i'll pick up fights with every one in New York.
What ? one dollar for a mango ? They are ripping you off. My friends always try to control me.
quiet, calm down, calm down. This is a big city.
For me a big city is Bombay. People with strange logic and wisdom. i look like a gorilla Ruth, i feel insulted when people don't look at me. i think i deserve at least one stare. People in big city don't have a second to look at you.
Why is everybody rushing ? Where are they going ? Why these people are not sitting in one place ?
One girl was walking ahead of me talking on her mobile suddenly she swung her hand hit my chest.
She said sorry. 'oh some guy, not you' she said on the phone.
i do my best not to look impressed in a big city Ruth, but i am impressed with everything i see just like a monkey. Big city has its own charm. i think New York has the largest 'collection' of people who want to 'save our planet' and i think New York is a different country.

oh, you look straight out of a fashion magazine Ruth, while Lesley is looking like a country girl. You should publish these and the previous visit pictures under a title ' Calmer side of New York'
i have seen the sandals you are wearing in the movie 'Ten commandments' the Egyptian Pharoh queen wearing it.

rauf said...

Congratulations Ruth ! Miss Michigan is crowned Miss USA. Glad to see America changing. Now the Americans want to be called citizens of the world. Wish the whole world feels that way.

Oliag said...

Will be going to NYC in June...high on my list of must sees are the Cartier-Bresson show, a stroll on the HighLine, and a visit to the Metropolitan roof dependent of course...and Mr O may have one or two things he wants to see...:)He is very lucky that I don't care to shop in NYC either...too much choice!

You have presented your trip to us so beautifully...and my are you stylish!

Deborah said...

Wow. Just wow. Ruth, this was a fabulously well-done post. Very professional in the layout, captions, text, EVERYTHING. I was most impressed by the care you put into it. Oh and I really enjoyed hearing about your trip, too, and the photos, well...just glad that Nikon didn't get bruised too. Poor you!

I wanted to go there before, but now I'm ITCHING for it. Thanks for all the time you took to make this a pleasure to read and a feast for the eyes.

Leena said...

:)) You kept it small and - - short :)
I love it!
Warm greetings with blooming bird cherries!

Ginnie said...

It really WAS a pleasure to read this, sister, and catch up here via your blog on your time away. I was thinking of you often. (I hope I was thinking of you when you fell, to lessen the trauma!) And now I get to see the newest member of the tribe. What a sweetie-pie. I know you tuck all these memories away in your heart for the next time you'll go back.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Loring. I wonder if TAO was as crazy when you were there. We could hardly walk out of the place as people were flooding in. Except for Thursday when it rained for a short time, the skies were glorious, as you see. And just the right temp - cool enough not to heat up while walking.

Ruth said...

Kanmuri, it would be a nice trip for you and Mr. Kanmuri. I don't remember where you live in Canada. We flew over Niagra Falls, but I didn't see them. I've never been there.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Claudia, it's a great place to visit, and maybe I could live there for a month.

Ruth said...

Hi there, Maggie, you're right, it was a shock to my systems, and I stood by a building for a few minutes with Lesley just being there, while I recovered. It was upsetting. But it could have been much much worse.

Ruth said...

Oh Susie dear, we would ravage the city by day, and you would lead me to the shows by night! I wonder which ones you'd like to see? We could even audition for the Rockettes!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Brenda. I hope you can go to NY one day. It's a million places in one spot, so be sure to look for what interests you there.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, dear Jeanie. I imagine that you would have also seen some shows, which would also be very fun. We can talk about it at our picnic - soon!

Barry said...

Great post filled with great photos of a great trip to a great city.

I wouldn't say it was too long, if anything it wasn't long enough. I would happily have read more, a lot more and with no need for bookmarks.

Ruth said...

California Girl, you're right. Store windows are a source of inspiration, if they're good. It would be fun to design them, something Lesley would like to do.

Your husband is a fantastic photographer, and I wish he could see the exhibit. It will be going to Chicago next, so maybe that would work out? I know that's still far from you.

Ruth said...

Pamela, thank you. I wondered if she would give it to me too? I must have snapped 12 shots of her in that coat.

And yes, Eva is a little peach!

Anonymous said...

Have never been to NYC and it's totally at the top of my bucket list of place to see.

The Blue Ridge Gal
(great photos!)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Sandy, that's it. It's alive, every bit of it is alive, unlike some of the bigger cities that close up at night (Detroit, LA). Yes, I'd like to get to Soho next time, and Harlem, and off 5th Ave in Manhattan. Thanks so much for your kind words.

Ruth said...

Don, I would love it! You have a great eye for photo ops that I often miss. Let's go together next time, please. And let's walk some residential neighborhoods.

Ruth said...

Letty, we would love it. Seriously. We would find the best second-hand shops, oh man!

Apparently the brunchy meat & sweet combo Lesley had was a Southern thing. She just tried dipping the chicken once, the syrup was really meant for the waffles. :|

You must have looked up C-B's shot of Capote. I know! For one thing, the shot is so great. And then the other is that he looks so different in it than the dowdy black-glasses man we remember from the end of days.

Yes it is amazing what you can pack into 3 days, and how tired you can get. I don't think I'm ready to go back to work yet. The ole vacation after vacation need.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Mrs. M., love abounds back atchu. I knew you would love the bit at the end the most. It would be fun to do a big extended family trip somewhere someday. Hmmm. Paris. NYC. London. Dublin. Madrid. India. Thailand. Istanbul. Athens. Norland. Vancouver. Patagonia. Baja. Kona. One of us needs to win the Big Lottery, and we'll take a cruise together, with Peter's band accompanying. K?

Ruth said...

Oh Marcie, having your child there makes the city a magnet. It was always close enough to visit, but we just didn't make it more than a couple times. Now we go at least once a year, which still isn't enough. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Ruth said...

Hi and thank you, Cathy. You should go! Make a simple structure for the visit, and leave room for lots of exploring.

Yes, I guess I haven't added the white script exactly like this before. I was looking for ways to simplify and condense the visit.

Eva was utterly asleep the 1.5 hours we spent together, so I didn't get to look deep into the wells of her eyes, which I love to do with new babies, they seem so close to the source.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Arti. In NY I feel a little like a stenciled Bansky on a wall - a temporary visitor watching the world go by.

I'm glad you like that last photo. I took so many in that short visit of my family, and sometimes I feel a little distanced by the camera. But it's good to have the moments frozen.

Ruth said...

Hi, Pat, thank you, I'm glad you thought so. You know, I never once thought about the recent bomb scares when I got to the city, until just now.

I wonder if you and Jim have ever contemplated settling in NY for a few months? You have such a cool life. Like the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, in comfort.

Ruth said...

Dear rauf, it would be fun to see NY with you. When I walk around by myself, my sight is limited. Add Don, or Lesley, and my sight is doubled. I thought of you when I walked by the hot dog stand, thinking you would like street food there. Man, it smelled so good. I was hungry. I'm always hungry it seems.

Yes, you're right about saving the planet. They have a good recycling program. L & B have big stacked tubs in their kitchen filling up with items to go out in the street barrels to be picked up. It's impressive.

My Pharoah sandals were comfortable, but the tips kept catching on the sidewalk cracks. I think that is what made me fall, though I didn't notice it at the time.

Yes, congratulations to Rima Fakih! I was so pleased to hear that this morning. Now she will be scrutinized as a representative of her group. I hope she can bear it.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Oliag my friend. Oh goody! I wonder what you will experience in the Wig and Bicked City (as my mother called it). Do take rests when you can, pace yourself, and free range explore. I know you choose restaurants very well, so I will be interested to see where and what you eat. I think you would be a fabulous traveling companion for me. I would learn a lot through your eyes.

Ruth said...

Deborah, thank you for all those kindnesses!

Nikon suffered a few scratches. So strange. Lesley and I wanted to replay a video of the fall to see what happened. It remains a mystery. It could have been so much worse, and I thank my guardian angel.

Maybe one day when you cross back over the pond you can stop off in NY for a few days?

Ruth said...

Good, Leena, I'm glad it wasn't too long, or didn't seem that way at least.

Blooming bird cherries? I saw a silvery sunset, quite gorgeous, in your Finland.

Ruth said...

Boots, thank you for your thoughts across the waves. I did feel that someone protected me, and Nikon. I feel blessed.

Ruth said...

Barry, aka St. Francis, well that's kind of you to say, thank you.

You wouldn't believe how tame the robins in Central Park are! Understandable, I suppose, and not as surprising as your blue jays.

Ruth said...

DI, it's not too far for you, that's nice. But it does take a bit of doing, doesn't it?

deb said...

I just want to look and look and look at all of these.
I so have to go back.
I can't believe how much you did!

Fabulous post , for the eyes and soul. Thank you for sharing.

and the newborn. Swoon.

VioletSky said...

I want so much to go back to NYC when the trees are in leaf and it is warm enough to sit outside. I walked for 12 hours on my last visit. Yes, that was a bit too long, but I couldn't help myself - there was just so much I wanted to see. Including that Gehry building.
I found it to be such a people city. So maybe not having a balcony helps make it so.

Ruth said...

Oh Deb, my poor body can't believe how much I did either. At 53 I am not bouncing back from how-many-miles-walked so fast. Thank you, I'm so glad you stopped by.

Ruth said...

Yes, true, Violetski, maybe not having the balcony forces people out. Or forces them to stay on their couch. :( It's hard to deal with all the stimulation, I find. I'm afraid I would stay inside a lot if I lived in NY. And then I would explode out the door when I needed air!

Mrs. M. said...

Well, Disney does great family reunion packages, and we should do one while we are still FL residents...even BETTER deals!!

ds said...

You are a wonderful travel correspondent. You saw more of NYC in three days than most people who live closer see in a lifetime. But that is because you know how to pay attention. And I love love love the postcards--I collect them too!
So happy that you had such a great visit, and that the fall was nothing.

Terresa said...

What an amazing post. I went to NYC when I was 16 for a week. Feel in love, utterly. Haven't been back, except in the airport, whisking off to someplace else.

The High Line park is stunning. What an elegant use of urban space.

Your fall sounded nasty. Hopefully you recovered well enough to enjoy the rest of your time there, and via all the magnificent photos, I trust you did. :)

PS: The crowds there, would get to me, too. Although I have to think, that precious babe in arms made up for it.

Bella Rum said...

Wonderful post, Ruth! Loved all the photos. I'll be there Friday. It will be a short but sweet visit. I'll get to see the grandkids.

Ruth said...

Mrs. M., Disney? Ok. I'll make Don relive Splash Mountain (whoa, that will be something to recover from), you can get Snow White's autograph, and Peter can hook up with Cinderella. She might be the only woman who could make him happy! And he can accompany her while she sings.

Ruth said...

Thank you, sweet DS. And one of those 3 days we mostly spent at home! :)

As for paying attention (thank you), I am making up for lost time. Some 40 years of not.

Ruth said...

Terresa, oh dear, that means you must have had to pass through JFK, a nightmare of airports.

We were blessed with a glorious day for the High Line, for which I am completely grateful. It was windy, and it felt strange, like walking along long lonely tracks, surrounded by cityscape.

I'm glad the fall happened on my last full day, so it didn't affect the exploring I did much at all. And you're right, holding the newborn Eva slowed me down. But darn! She never woke up for me so I could look deep into those eyes.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Bella. Have a blast. I think that by the time I have grandkids, they will not be in NYC.

dutchbaby said...

Thank you for distilling this fabulous city down to its essence. It is all that and more. I joined you in every step of the way, though my feet ache now because we covered so much ground. I chuckled at rauf's comment because I thought a $.99 mango was a deal. Your fashion photos look like they came straight out of The Sartorialist's blog ( That peacock blue and gold coat is divine and would look out of place in most other parts of the world. I'm glad you had a chance to go to Central Park to refuel your spirits. Congratulations on the new addition to your beautiful family. Thanks for a great three days, exclamation point.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, thank you my dear. Thank you for sharing all this walking and enjoying the details. Yes, I know that Sartorialist blog from a friend who shares on Google Reader. I think it's time I begin following it!


photowannabe said...

Dear Ruth, I think I have to read this post again. Its wonderful and you bring to the surface the same emotions I feel when visiting NY. for 10 years Hubby and I went to NYC at least twice a year for work. The 7-10 days there were wonderful, envigorating and all I could take at one time. I was always glad to get home to my suburban life but couldn't wait to get back to the high powered City.
You are the master of words and terrific photos to go with them.

Vagabonde said...

A great post about New York Ruth. You wrote it in such an entertaining way – your pictures were so well put together as well as the text – it looks like an article out of Harper’s Magazine. Isn’t it funny, as you were falling down in New York I was falling down in Baltimore, with my Nikon D40 too. I am reading a book written in 1893 by a Frenchman visiting NY and he takes the elevated line. I’ll visit it next time I am in NYC. I enjoyed your post thoroughly.

Ruth said...

You are very kind, Sue, thank you. Wow, twice a year, I would love that too, and maybe not much longer. I've thought I could live in NYC or Chicago for a few months, maybe a year. But not the rest of my life. It's not quite in my blood like that.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, oh merci bien. I love "hearing" you say that, though I would prefer hearing it for real. I hear you have a lovely accent. :)

And terrible about your fall! I will respond to your email soon.