Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday decor central

In the outer boroughs of NYC there are many wonderful holidays scenes to behold each holiday season. I visited several streets in Dyker Heights this year -front yards filled with inflatable lawn ornaments, tons of lights and even several "live" Santa Clauses (how does a parent explain all those Santa Clauses?) It seems like this is actually a business and several of the homes sport signs advertising the companies that do this type of work. While the artist in me would to do this sort of thing-on such a grand scale-I currently work somewhat smaller-call it holiday office decor. If you are too busy to put up decorations this year -or just find that you are not in the mood-contact me and I will do it all for you! Attached are 2 examples of my most recent work:

Chanukah in retrospect

The last of the menorahs and candels have been packed away until next year. The Christmas ornaments & lights have taken their place in our home, fend off the long, dark &helping to cold nights.
Here are som final scenes from this year's Hanukkah & one photograph depicting what I like to call the Hanukkah aftermath=lots of wax everywhere
Each year I am left with just one question : How do you spell "Hanukkah"?

Monday, December 6, 2010

night 2,3,4,5

Today brought our first snow flurries.
Here is a photo tour of the neighborhood menorahs. One stands in Station Square. The other in Mac Donald Park and the others , from our collection.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Night one of eight

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah & in celebration I dusted off the menorah. This one was given to me by my mom & dad -perhaps for my first Hanukkah 7 or so years ago. I love it for it's simplicity -it's so clean and the design gives you all kinds of nice options. I also love it because it is so easy to clean. The vast majority of menorahs are awful in this respect.
My husband's family does not really celebrate this holiday and seems not to have transmitted any traditions from one generation to the next so I have been left on my own when it comes to Hanukkah. I do like to exchange small gifts each of the nights and include the associated fried foods (It can be hard to find a good potato pancake-I am going with Trader Joe's this year) .
Last year I ran out into the cold dark night to find jelly donuts -finally striking gold at the local Dunkin Donuts. One of my favorite Hanukkah memories involves a hospital I used to be the Artist-In-Residence at. Throughout the day they had announced on their PA that they would be holding a celebration in their lobby .Staff, patients and family gathered for song, food and celebration. It was very impromptu, more folks showed up than expected and there was something very warming about coming together with strangers who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to stop and celebrate for a few moments.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Some photos I took from a visit today to the N.Y. Botanical Gardens holiday train show. The show itself is a family tradition for many New York families . It is interesting to view the ever expanding collection of miniature versions of N.Y. landmarks like Lady Liberty, Yankee Stadium, the planetarium (I still call it that),the airport ,the Guggenheim and other well know sites. The detail is amazing & it is a joy to watch as visitors young and old marvel at this version of the city's skyline-all while trains glide by.If you love plants like I do -there is nothing like the lush setting on a cold winter day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

L.I. boulders for art?

NPR ran a story today on an artist who will be collecting boulders from Long Island for a sculpture show at the Guggenheim in 2011. See story here.I am not sure how I feel about this. Actually, I object strongly. Many of the "boulders" on Long Island are the only thing that remains unchanged as the land has gone from farms to sod to vineyards , houses and malls. Why would I want some artist to take them, changing the landscape forever-"just" for some art?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick trip

We made a very quick trip out to Long Island on Wed.
The usual winter wind had already set in, making the otherwise warm and strongly sunny day very chilly. The clouds were traveling fast. The sand was blowing off of the beach and into the sky like a sunlit hazy fog. The beach was empty but for 2 gulls.
We made the trek to Orient Point-just in time to see the ferry load and leave and passed through Greenport on the long trip home.
Just outside East Marion we came upon 2 cars stopped-one had just hit and killed a deer. So sad.
Several farm stands were still open but had closed by the time we passed them on the return trip. I would have loved some cider. Fresh apples and cabbage. Brussel sprouts.
Off season is my favorite time to visit Long Island. It is so quiet and peaceful but for that strong, constant wind.

Monday, October 25, 2010

This weekend:antiques

This weekend we visited the New York State Fair Grounds to see an antique show there. It was like a trip down memory lane-everywhere you looked you saw items from childhood & both of my grandparents houses. There were wonderful items for Halloween & Christmas and amazing collections of every kind. Toys and comic books, dishes and jewelry. Furniture and rugs. Old spice tins and wonderful hats.
The fair grounds are amazing to behold for a city kid-so much space and such lovely old buildings!(With wonderful tile work ) There was a nice 9/11 memorial and beautiful trees in the process of changing color.
We also got to meet friend's sweet dog Lily (Or is it Lilly?)
A bigger version of this show is held every August and I am hoping to return for it. With all that cities have to offer there is nothing like a good, old fashioned fair grounds to make you realize what you are missing...

Monday, October 18, 2010

This weekend:

I managed to do 2 very important things this weekend:
1. wash all of the windows-lovely to do this before freezing temperatures set in!
2. put up the Halloween decorations!
The 2 activities go hand in hand as you have to clean the windows before you can decorate them. I love clean windows as, for about a day or so,the glass is so clean that it looks as if it is not there and all of the colors and sights of out doors shine through perfectly.
I also happen to love Fall & Winter decorating-Halloween coincides with the shift in daylight and decorating for this holiday counteracts the impact of the fading daylight & darker evenings .

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How I spent my weekend:

As a hospital Artist-In-Residence there is often a great deal of prep work to be done long before you show up for your actual days of work.
Supplies have to be researched and purchased-this step is made even more time consuming as, in order to stretch the materials budget I use coupons which limit me to purchasing one item a day...!
Samples have to be made to show folks just what they can achieve & to entice the hesitant.
Then there is the odd jobs-cleaning of supplies, sorting of beads into color families, sign making, displays, holiday decorations...the list goes on and on and some days there is no time for it all.
This weekend I spent every spare moment not engaged in major FALL cleaning (Talk about an aching back!) making samples and creating visual variations meant to inspire and motivate. It is fun, when you have the time and it is almost as engaging as making one's own art work can be. There is one added element - the happiness I feel as I imagine the excited reaction patients will have to seeing the samples and the satisfaction I will experience when all this extra (and unpaid) hard work pays off as patients get lost in their creativity, loosing track of time, realizing their often annoying side effects are fading fast and as what might otherwise have been a hard day for them transforms into one filled with artistic fun. I love those moments!
P.S. I love the photo frames-from Michael's Arts & Crafts. Coated with a layer of paint, stickers or rubber stamps work well on the surface & with very little effort you can get a beautiful end result.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Days later...

Many days later , there is still much left to be done here in Queens, N.Y.-clean up wise. There have been many complaints that work has been slow and ,as a result, things here are not as safe as they should be. Branches dangle, trees and debrise blocks sidewalks-only really dangerous at night when it is hard to see...
Local blogger Queens Crap has carried several of the stories and posted photos (here) as have the local newspapers.
Some things I have noticed as I walk about my neighborhood:
There is an incredible amount of sunlight in the area suddenly as trees that stood for decades have been brought done either by the tornado or tree companies.
Mulch piles are growing everywhere. If they do not catch your attention with their size, The scent of the mix of chopped wood alerts you to their presence. It is a relief to see the end product of all this destruction being put to good use. It would be horrible to have it all end up in a land fill. (more photos to come...)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tornado 2010

On Sept. 16, 2010 the area of Queens were I live was hit by a tornado. The sky had been rapidly darkening and there was a smell in the air that I recall from huricane Gloria -which hit many years ago. I made it home from work and began closing open windows as the rain fell and the wind began to whip everything into a white out. As quick as it hit, it was gone and it left a seen that looked as if an enormous blender had chewed everything up and spit it all out onto our street below. Mainly old trees were felled or lost their primary branches . Some were simply decapitated. These photos were taken 2 days later and many of the local streets remain blocked by fallen trees. Today many who lost electrical power had their service restored.
The area I live in is called "Forest Hills" & it's trees are a large part of what make it an amazing place to be. With so many of those trees damaged or completelty gone , it feels as if the landscape has been altered in a permanent way and scars have been left . One thing I will always remember-the smells. As I walked down each block I noticed the smell of trees damaged-pine, oak, maple, magnolia. If you garden and work with wood, you know the scents I am talking about. These smells were soon joined by one other-the smell of burning wood as saws sprang to action, breaking down mammoth sized trunks into transportable pieces.
One of the saddest sights was the trees, still standing, that sustained terrible tears when branches were ripped from their trunks. These tears invite disease and I have to wonder if, rather than fight to save these trees, owners and the city of New York won't take the easy way out and simple cut these trees down too. An added loss.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What to do when "they" spell the name wrong on the birthday cake:

In yesterdays afternoon sun I bravely went forth to procure a yummy birthday cake for Ely. I spelled his name to the nice young lady at the bakery and assumed all was well. I even tipped her $1. for her handy work. Later that evening when I opened the box to place a lone candle on it (no need to find and light 47 right? That will only be required come the BIG 50.) I saw a misprint. Ugh. Not Ely but Eli. What to do.
1. place candle strategically by the "i" so it is obscured.
2. turn off the lights and leave them off after the candle has been blown out. Mutter something about less light being more romantic.
3. cut the very first slice into the offending spelling error so that all evidence of this mishap is quickly disposed of.
4. breath a sigh of relief and eat cake.
photos to come.
Note to self-next year write out name for all to see. E-L-Y.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Life and death

The blog "One Bark At A Time" has a final accounting of life after the passing of "Stella" & it can be found here. I happened upon this final blog posting by accident (As Stella's life ended the blog came to a conclusion and as the days passed I was no longer checking back in to read readers comments since they too had died down). Like many of this blog's regular readers I hoped there would be a new posting of dogs up for adoption-replete with Fred's usual character filled photos that never failed to make one want to head to Toronto to adopt-now.
This latest & last chapter is filled with the emotions one is always left with when a well loved pet passes and when, as is usually the case, an owner is left making the hard choice of when , precisely when, to euthanize. You never fail to doubt your choice once it has been made-despite the suffering that has so clearly been put to an end.
I can recall all of my pet's death's. In the "old days" the family vet -a very reserved man whose practice could be found in a fairy tale like brick house-was the last stop in all of our animals lives. I vividly remember him shaving cat Spooky's leg for the injection. The next memory that follows is of him touching her open eye to show us she had indeed passed. It was so hard to believe life was there, one second, and completely gone forever, the next.
I remember us putting the cats in plastic bags and returning them to their carrying cases. Then you had to pull yourself together and stop crying because the bill had to be paid and you were going to have to walk out to reception where everyone else waited with their dog and cat and you did not want to do that while crying. Perhaps vet's offices should have a private back door for the families of newly deceased pets so we can exit in tears and not feel the need to make ourselves presentable...
We always picked wooden wine "boxes" as final resting places for our pets-my dad must have kept them for that purpose. In those days wine came in glass bottles with real cork ,stored in wooden boxes and these small crates just so happened to be the perfect size for a cat.
Some of our pets were buried in our backyard, the first under a tulip tree, it's grave marked by a stone found by my grandparents home in Cupsaw Lake, New Jersey. Others found their final resting place on a ridge amid the oak & maple trees of Forest Park . One burial took place in the pouring rain, at night. It is funny what you remember, years later.
As Fred mentions in his post-there always was the post passing sightings. Those heart stopping moments when , out of the corner of your eye, some shadow had a form that tricked you into "seeing" your pet. These sightings faded as time passed but they did have the poignant effect of giving you a second's respite from the grief before reality quickly set in-much the way a dream about a dead loved one does-until you wake up and realize it was all just a dream.
Fred's writings about life with Stella & Rocky-and his readers comments-drive home the universal nature of our deep and lasting love for the animals in our lives .
As I read the last post and felt the wave of sadness crash-a combination of grief for Stella,Fred, Rocky and family combined with the pets in my own past-I turned away from my computer screen to find Nicky silently sitting on the bed's edge while Sandi sat by the chair. How did they know to be there?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A garden

I have always wanted a garden. My parents had gardens and that translated into fresh sorrel soup in summer, pungent herbs,fragrant Lilly of the valley in early spring and roses all summer long.
My memories of my paternal grandparents garden revolve around the trees they planted-apple, peach,pear and a mulberry tree that might have been "planted" by local birds.
Summers were spent on Long Island and the farm stands there gave life a definite and predictable rhythm: strawberries, then corn, melons ,red and yellow tomatoes,followed by squash, potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage and the last green tomatoes.
My own gardening attempts were organic-lots of compost (even in winter-just dig a hole ahead of time and have the dirt in buckets, along with some leaves to layer with and you are ready to build compost through the cold and frozen months.) I also found "Seed Of Change"-back then the only company I could find that sold organic seeds. Now-a-days ,with organic farming in the mainstream, is so much easier to do!
Since I live just outside of a city, urban gardening fascinates me. Community gardens (like the one at 6 and B-one of this city's outstanding gardens-they offer arts programs and gave me the amazing opportunity to teach silkscreen, out of doors one summer! ) involve so many issues but fill such a need . They become backyards for folks who have none and allow people (and most especially children) the chance to grow plants and learn about the seasons in a very basic way.
A story about a unique farm ran called "Brooklyn Grange" in Queens Crap today. How wonderful! It gives me hope... and makes me hunger for getting my hands dirty is rich, earthworm laden soil. It also brings back vivid memories of just how backbreaking weeding is!
Read more about their flourishing roof top garden here.

Monday, July 5, 2010


The bathroom is as finished as it can be -until next weekend. As I removed the blue painting tape I examined "the lines" again, so hoping there was a way to fudge the brown trim and make it look good. The lines are even worse than I originally thought. It even looks as if 2 different widths of molding was used and if the trim is brown one's eye will be drawn towards that fact.
Life is not always what we wish it was. Life is not always what we hoped it would be. Life is often not what we would want or like. Much as we would wish the lines in our life to be aligned they are often so terribly out of place -irrevocably so.
And then...
As I made a mad dash to get some last minute groceries-the old reliable 24 hour place no longer exists and the local market closes by 10p.m.-I spot a cat and a young woman on the sidewalk by the train overpass. The cat is worn, tired and possibly sick. The woman reminds me of a younger version of myself. She has found this cat, disoriented, and brought it here to eat and drink -she saw another cat at this well known local stray cat hang out (and feeding spot) and brought it food earlier and upon seeing this cat, brought it here too. She is mulling over the cat's condition and weather she should take it home with her. Today has been very hot and the cat does look the worse for the wear. It seems happy to be picked up, held, spoken to and pet. It sits cradled in her arms like a rag doll and it's eyes are, as one famous writer once wrote, as big as tea cups. We talk vets-we share the same man and go to the nearby pet food store. She is a dog person. I clue her in to what she might want to do-keep the cat in the bathroom for the night in a bed of old clothes . Best to keep the cat and her dog separate until she knows if the cat has fleas . She lifts him up to carry him home and I ask her if she needs help -her arms full with the water bowl, cat food can and limp cat but she is fine. I wish her good luck & tell her she is doing a very good thing. She thanks me and I watch as she walks around the corner and out of sight. I hope this story has a good ending. In a way, it already has. A homeless cat has found a home-even if for one night.
I turn to head home, in my heart saying a little prayer of thank you for those rare but important times when the lines do indeed align.
postscript: As the above happened I thought of Fred of "One Bark At A Time". He lost his lovely Stella last week and ,for the moment, has taken a step back from his blog. I came to Fred's wonderful blog about shelter dogs, his dogs Rocky & Stella and life -just a few months ago. A local dog was in harm's way and as I read the different threads to that story I somehow came across "One Bark At A Time". If you love animals (and life) his blog is wonderful reading and his photos are amazing. They capture the essence of each dog and make you wish you had the ability to take each and every one home. Fred has , with his work at the shelter and his blogging -accomplished what I wish we all would do more-make this world a better place for all who inhabit it. You can find Fred , Stella and Rocky here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

a pink, white and blue 4th on the 4th floor

Ceiling DONE (and not a single dead bug found stuck to it!) I did my last coat of spackle late this morning. I can't say enough about this relatively new pink stuff-it helps enormously to see where you have already applied spackle and once dry it turns white taking the guess work out of the process. For an artist-the color can be a bit seductive ...hope you are having a wonderful Independence Day!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Red, white and blue...I begin a full time job in just 29 short days (taking over an artist-in-residency for someone who'll be going to China for 3 months!) and on my list of things that must get done before August 2nd is the bathroom. It has sat, semi-painted (Due to a leak from the apartment above) for too long and tonight I finally returned to this hot job. I'm hoping for the best and should know by tomorrow's early morning light if the ceiling is done. That leaves me with the walls, windowsill and door and just a bit of annoying plaster work...I had planned on brown trim but the lines of absolutely nothing about this room match up and painting trim in another color might just highlight that fact. As for the "red" of the first line-you can count my flushed cheeks -partly due to the summer heat but also very much due to the bug that seemed to very much want to stick itself to the ceiling. Frustrating!