Saturday, February 11, 2017

Yoga Man

Now that I am racing towards 60 (time does seem to quicken as one gets older), I look back on these photos taken when I was 50-51 with admiration for what I accomplished within 7 months: I got really, really, fit. More fit that I had ever been in my entire life. What was I doing? Going to yoga class twice a week, not drinking a drop of alcohol (my, but it slows down the metabolism), and taking a nifty drug called Klonopin—a benzodiazepine originally used to treat seizures in epileptics then found to help those with tinnitus. My own onset came suddenly when I was 49 when I woke in the middle of the night to the sound of bells crashing and banging, and the roar of a jet engine. 

"Sometimes, drugs are the only game in town!" is how my doc put it when I went to see him about 6 months after my onset, suicidal with a lack of sleep. But don't you know: the drug saved my life by providing me with a window of recovery, which I began by going to class.

I've stayed fit by continuing a yoga practice, and have also taken up rowing, which I do about 5 times a week for 30 minutes at a stretch. 

I've also learned to live with tinnitus. For that, I had to change my brain, a process that I wrote about on my blog VoiceTalk.

I am proud of that guy. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tea & William Morris

With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on. 
—As quoted in William Morris & Red House (2005) by Jan Marsh, p. 65.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

At Home

The title recalls the term Victorians used for a concert at one's residence, though a performance wasn't involved here. The room is a working studio, where I teach the fine art of singing. It's also a living room. 

This Sunday evening, there was no watching of football. Rather, we streamed an episode of Poirot while having dinner, which consisted of a salad with chicken provencal—a recipe right out of the NYTimes. That and a lovely bottle of Bordeaux did nicely. 

The ebony handled serving pieces are mismatched, and were sourced from Ebay, while the Gothic candlestick (minus the crystals which my father gave me) was found bent and battered at the now defunct Antique Garage on 25th Street. They ripped the building down unfortunately—the only remaining remnant of a once thriving flea market. I hear that there is one over near the Lincoln Tunnel, but haven't ventured to it since my mind is on other things—and the frames I acquired before the garaged closed have yet to be hung. Speaking of which: I am actively working on a huge mirror for the mantel. Long time coming, I hope to have it up soon. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Christmas 2016

Yes, I have things backwards, don't I? Writing about Christmas 2016 in the first week of February 2017. But hey, the county is backwards right now, right? Jokes (ha) aside, this past Christmas was noted for it's rather cheap decorations—if only because I spent $20 bucks on garland that come from Lowe's—a newish box store not two blocks from the apartment. The stuff was right on the sidewalk—two strands of which I cut in half and then assembled with gilt pine cones, dark green ornaments,  and purple and gold ornaments that I picked up after Christmas last year and completely forgot about. Green ribbon and fake news—I mean cranberry stems—completed the look. I think it took me 20 minutes to throw it all together. There. Done. No more. 

True, I did put up a small tree on a stand in front of a bookcase on Christmas Eve, but you're not going to see that here since I can't find a photo of it. The tree was the last remaining one standing in front of a Korean Deli, and went for 20 bucks. A steal in Gotham, where 4 foot trees go for 80 smackers, it was my very own art of the deal. Cheap! 

I sang my butt off at an Episcopal church down the street, and where the music has been top-notch all Fall—Britten's Ceremony of Carols being especially wonderful. Yes, those with sharp eyes will see black candles. They came in a box—also on discount—and I just went with it, not having used black candles before, the mourning of Democrats everywhere coming to mind rather than virgin birth. So, did Christmas receive a great deal of thought? No. It happened, like the election, as one great big surprise.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Summer in Paris

Of the countless photos I snapped with my iPhone from last summer's trip to Paris, here are two that remain on my laptop. Our second trip to Paris, we again traded apartments—this time in the 14th arrondissement, right down the street from the catacombs.

I am already dreaming of escaping there this coming summer. Perhaps I won't come back! Now there's a thought: Circles recalling the end that is the beginning, and wings to give one flight. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On the March

The Upper West Side was ablaze with peaceful protest as thousands and thousands of Jewish congregations marched past Lincoln Center to protest the new administration—and for women and equality. It was a joyous sight, far different than what was seen from our nation's capital the day before. 

They were joining up—I believe—with the Women's March that went from the UN on the East Side, then down 2nd Avenue, across 42nd Street, and then up 5th Avenue to the Trump Building. 

My thought? 

We need a movement, not a moment. Let this be the beginning. 

Women's Rights & Gay Rights are Human Rights. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nuestra Señora de Begoña

Our Lady of Begoña sits on my mantlepiece, having been brought out for an alumni reunion for Umbrian Serenades, which will decamp to Soria, Spain this coming summer—the later a result of the earthquakes that continue to shake the eastern part of Umbria. 

I've had her since my father died a little more than three years ago, and my mother sold my parent's house, and parting with many things. She's the patron saint of Bilbao, where I lived for about eight months at the age of ten in 1968—my father working in the steel industry. He wrote on the back: "Bought in Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain, in 1968 by Elmer Shigo while at AHV.

My family lived in Spain twice. The first time in Bilbao, and the second time in Valencia. Not having been back since, I plan on visiting both cities when I return to sing with Umbrian Serenades—a truly wonderful and transformational program. 

While I am not a Catholic (I believe in Musick), I like her Rococo-ish design, which gives every appearance of being a 19th century version of an earlier style. However, she is sterling silver, and needs periodic shining to keep her gleaming. Come to think of it: I am going to need periodic shining too, since—as a liberal democrat—I supported a very different agenda for the next four years.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Time Travel: Thanksgiving 2016

The furniture was moved, and the table was set for eight. I used a vintage brown linen table cloth from the 50's that I found at Housing Works, along with green linen napkins edged with velvet. The wine glasses came from one of two crates housed in storage in the basement—newly acquired, or rather I should say found—on the sidewalk, outside a clothing store that was once a restaurant. Catering stuff, someone had hauled them up from the basement and dumped them on the curb. So, now I have 50 glasses and am ready for a party at the drop of at hat.

This is the second time I have moved the furniture around for a big dinner, and also the second time I have been tempted to leave everything in its new place. But invariably, I move everything back if only because it feels better—all those "pairs" talking to one another, the symmetry involved, as well as the original seating plan which makes for better conversation. 

I started preparing on Monday. Never to soon for that, right? After watching the parade from a friend's fabulous apartment on CPW on Thursday, I came home, threw Jacque Pepin's steamed turkey in the oven with carrots nestled underneath on a bed of butter, serving them later on my great-aunt's china that was painted by hand in the 20's.

Full plate & full heart, and wonderful day with friends & family. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Boys in Spoleto

Part of a beautiful fresco in an rehearsal room and performance space at Sala 17 Settembre, Gian Carlo Menotti Teatro Nuovo, Spoleto, Italy, these artfully covered boys have entertained the eye (there are lovely ladies too) since 1917. 

Sadly, I won't be seeing them this coming summer since the wonderful program that I have sung with for the past 6 seasons—Umbrian Serenades, will be based in Soria, Spain. But hey. I'm not crying. Having lived in Spain as a kid (during the Franco years no less), I am excited about returning there and discovering a hidden part of Europe. 

Find more information at Umbrian Serenades. It is a truly transformative program.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Kitchen Detail

Crazy nuts with getting ready to trade apartments with a couple who live in Paris, I spent last evening cleaning the kitchen, shining what little silver was on hand, and glueing a chair back together. Slipping the dish drain off the butcher block countertop to snap a photo, I realized again just how much I love wood—which is something I got from my father. And there is a lot of it in this kitchen, from the aforementioned countertop (which I found on the street), to the walnut and gilt 19th century frame that I made into a mirror. I have two of the latter, but only have room for one, its mate biding its time in storage. 

At one point, I had the bright idea of using antique tile as a backsplash, but after consulting with Blue, chose to go with mirror—which was sourced from the back of a closet door and fit perfectly. Yes, I am constantly cleaning it, but so what? I would be doing that anyway, right? The antique shaving mirror tucked under the Ikea cabinets was found at the Antique Garage on 25th Street—which no longer exists, the building having been torn down—along with the antique (and perhaps Italian) green man. He's moved about the apartment, but seems to like his present perch above a 19th century gilt mirror with original glass.

Jewel box kitchen. That's what one friend has called the space. Nice to hear of course. But perhaps the thing I like about this tiny kitchen (in terms of cooking) is the extractor fan over the twenty inches stove that sucks out cooking grease. It was connected to the building's venting system that was installed in the 1930's, and is a god-send. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chinoiserie Valance

It all started with finding seven odd feet of Chinoiserie 1880's molding at the flea market. I knew I had to have it, even if I didn't know what to do with it. So I brought it home, and displayed it on top of the bookshelves in the living room. Then it occurred to me that there was enough of it to construct two valances for the windows in the bedroom, which a singer/carpenter friend from the opera did for me.

Once in hand, another opera friend who worked in the costume department went fabric shopping with me—both of us being taken with an Italian cotton fabric emblazoned with dragons. When the curtains were made with a third friend in the same costume shop, I decided that passementerie might make the whole thing sing. Right or wrong, I finally finished everything this past week with the installation of new blinds which mask the top of the window, and create a nice long line.

The deco Chinoiserie bedside lamp is from the flea, as is the ebonized Victorian frame and Japanese box. A few more photos may appear when the new carpet is laid in. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

World of Interiors Collection 2001-2015

I can hardly believe that I am doing it, but I've decided to part with my World of Interiors Collection, which spans the years from 2001-2015, and can be found at Ebay. Right now it is offered for Local Pick-Up only, but if a reader is serious about it, I might be persuaded to post it. However, since we talking about six linear feet of shelving, postage is not going to be inexpensive. 

Why the heretical move? Simple really. Living in a modest Manhattan apartment means there is only so much space for books even with two nine-foot book cases. 

I love World of Interiors. It's provided me with a rich visual education that could not have been gained any other way, and would be happy to know that it is going to another student of interior decoration. 

If you, or someone you know, is interested in acquiring this Collection, please drop me a line.