Friday, May 13, 2016

Morning Light


Light fascinates me. Composition too, as well as color. But mostly light.

Here is morning light on the upper west side of Manhattan from a day ago, with a north facing window. Nothing done to the  photo. No enhancement, filter or manipulation. 

Speaking of composition: I recently edited out two small black tables that resided on either side of the hearth (see here). Yes, I know all about having a place to put drinks—which is why I put them there to begin with, but having greater openness feels right—and the tray on the ottoman suffices, does it not? I have a somewhat larger 19th century oval one which is begging to be gilded. Doable, right? Of course, I may put them back—the small tables that is—and can only surmise that my hankering for space is something of a metaphor since I have been working on a literary project. Funny how the mind works. 

Next up is a large mirror, which I have been yakking about forever, but am revving up to do, the frame sitting in the basement. 

But first—love me some light.... 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mr. Buddha


Mr. Buddha has appeared here before, but that was before I was working with him a few feet away, plunked down a tea cup and pot and snapped a photo in my mind. 

I like this guy. There's something about him. The light coming out of his head? Gilt on wood? (I am a sucker for that.) The golden light? All this and more. 

I picked him up at the Toronto flea market in 1999 or 2000—can't remember which now, but do remember that he lived in Rome, New York, for a long while before making the trip. Never says a word this guy. Deep thinker with a half-smile on his face: glowing, glowing, glowing. 

We should all do that.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dinner with Friends


Dinner with friends on the upper west side of Manhattan was planned for several weeks even if the preparations were somewhat last minute. One friend helped me set the table in all of ten minutes tops, which included running around the corner and grabbing tulips for a centerpiece; purple, orange and red pulling everything together. 

Poirot would have not been happy since we were 7 and not 8, but that mattered little, everyone quite cozy at a table that seats 10 with added leaves. On this evening 2 out of 3 were put into service—and I ironed the table cloth right on the table with a thick pad underneath. Such a hack that. But a good one. 

Oh my, but the Prosecco flowed! As did a lovely Tabarrini rose. 

It must be spring. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Around Easter


The light was beautiful one morning around Easter, so I popped my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo—natural light coming into the apartment through a north facing window that was so much brighter than in previous months. That's spring for you: more light, and the promise of new growth, green, and renewal. The tulips were doing their thing too, reaching for the four corners of the earth. Or would that be eight or twelve, according to the Tibetans? No matter. Reaching is what they do. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Winter Comes to Lincoln Center


My home away from home, you might say, is the performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center. It's reached by crossing Lincoln Center plaza at just the spot you see—which looks towards Broadway and the central plaza beyond the trees that are now dormant and awaiting spring—a hundred paces beyond the Metropolitan Opera on the right. 

I was there today, requesting a seven volume tome of historic singing manuals that is housed off-sight, and which will find their way to me in a few days. 

So I'll be back. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

knife & plate


Victorian knife & plate that was given yesterday at a family gathering in Pennsylvania. Haven't a clue as to the utility of the curved-bladed dinner knife with its ornate ivory handle. Whether for fish or fowl, or something else entirely (do you know?), I do know that they are fabulous together. Haven't done a thing to the knife yet, the only thing being a careful shining with 400 grade sandpaper which will remove the stain from the steel. I love how the pattern in the knife's handle sings along with the pattern on the plate. The latter is stamped Corea, which means exotica by way of England. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tea with Tiffany


The antique Tiffany plates found their way to table this Christmas, since that is when I tend to use them. Featuring a Persian pattern that I have not been able to find anywhere, I purchased the four that I have for 25 bucks at an antique mall in Saratoga Springs in 1997—the last year that New York City Opera was in residence there during the summer.

They're worn—and I love them.  

They made their appearance a few days ago for dinner, then one was called into service for afternoon tea, a delicious confection of almonds and chocolate from Pain d'Epics being centered for two. Rich in design as well as taste, a lovely earl grey from Palais des These was the perfect compliment. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Reading Michael S. Smith


I am reading Michael S. Smith's The Curated House: Creating Style, Beauty and Balance (Rizzoli) and wonder to myself: When did the word curated enter the lexicon of accepted terms to describe an interior? It's rather like writing about the composered symphony or authored book.

Smith's other books occupy my shelves, and his current tome was received as a Christmas present. I've sat with it twice now in a chair opposite the sofa you see, which, btw, was sourced from the street—which either makes me resourceful or stupid. I'd like to think the former. 

But back to Smith's book. 

Something about it bothers me, and it bothers me that it bothers me since I rather like his other books. 

What bothers me? The masses of furniture in many of the rooms which want an editor. Masses of furniture which are corporate in feeling.  

If he was a musician, I would tell him to savor the silence in music and go back to singing with his own voice. 

That said, I really enjoy his dark masculine environments like the Spanish Old World Meets New house on page 183-193, excepting of course, the two chairs that trumpet their backs high above the other soft furniture in the living room. Why does he break beauty in this way?

Making the viewer look at objects—they call it stealing focus in the theater—does not allow for the delight of discovery.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Green & Gold Christmas


Twenty-five bucks. That's what I spent on garland and greenery this year. I cut the garland in two, joined the pieces in symmetrical fashion, then hung the joined parts up with wire and existing screws. Eight green ornaments I had bought last year after Christmas found their place, along with gilt pinecones and green ribbon which were in storage in the basement (a precious resource in a Manhattan apartment). The whole affair must have taken me less than twenty minutes from start to end. No glam or riot of color. Just green and gold. 

Yes, those are jingle bells on the mantel. I had bought a lamp base at the flea market about five years ago, and the vendor threw them in when I remarked that I liked them. Lucky me! My father had a long set that hung behind a door during the holidays, so you might say my modest circlet is an homage to him. 


All the other ornaments I have used in past years—pink, purple and an assorted miss-mash—are having a nice rest. You know how it is: you put things away, then take them out a year or two later and discover them anew. There is no tree this year, unlike last year when I put up a tabletop affair. It was lovely, but hey—the apartment is not as big as my ambition. However, there is greenery over picture frames and the armoire, so we're covered—literally. 


Sorry I can't give you the fragrance of the pine. It's really quite wonderful: soft, bracing and energizing. 

While I was putting everything up in the early afternoon (note the time on my mother's Seth Thomas clock), I realized Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue was having Evensong at 4 pm, so jumped on a Citibike and arrived with time to spare. 

Lovely service. Good music. Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Metropolitan Museum of Art


A November day at the Met. New iPhone 6. Snap, snap, snapping away, getting used to the size, weight and feel of the thing. By this point, a day of pain in my right hand telegraphed I could no longer hold the bigger 6 like the smaller 4. No sir. This boy is a two-handed affair. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

O Magnum Mysterium — Morten Lauridsen

Don't ask me about gods and angels. I have no idea whatsoever about them. Sure, I've had my interesting experiences sitting on a cushion—I won't deny that. But I'd rather not form any kind of dogma about those experiences, and am quite happy to let them exist in the free-fall of I don't know. That seems sane since those who claim to know everything have a knack for getting humanity into trouble. 

However, I do believe in Musicke, and have been lucky to sing some incredible compositions, O Magnum Mysterium being one of them—most recently with Umbrian Serenades. While it utilizes an ancient Christmas-tide text which exults in virgin birth, I don't let myself get hung up on that. Instead, like the Buddhists who advise those who seek enlightenment to not mistake the finger that points to the moon for the moon itself, I see and experience Morten Lauridsen's music as pointing towards that which is Real if only because—at least to me anyway—it is beauty incarnate.