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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wither Toby Worthington?

Now that I am swimming in these waters again after taking a hiatus from blogging (I actually deleted this blog for a space of 5 months), I found myself going through previously written posts and thinking: Whither Toby Worthington?

I have the memory of Toby making an exit from commenting and posting (though he does have a visual presence on blogger), and now can't find him anywhere. Ardent researcher that I am, I did find an obit for a Toby Worthington who was born in 1970 and died on December 31, 2014. Is that him, or someone else? 

While we never met, I would hear from him in comments as well as the occasional email (my old computer crashed and burned so it not helpful regarding contact info), usually chiding me for not posting more often since we had similar interests. What a talented man! 

Life is a dance. We like to think it will go on forever, twirling and swirling, and perhaps it does on some level, though not in the same form. I think of that now and then, the idea being that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

Wherever you are Toby, you are in my thoughts. 

Photo Credit: iPhone 6 captured a Venetian mask over a handmade shade and amber finial sourced from eBay. The antique mirror is from Housing Works, while the gilt frame is circa 1860's. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Flirting with Green

December 2003. The year I painted two walls a grayish-green (you can see paint chips tucked into the smaller mirror on the mantel), and thought better of it since the room, with only one large window, felt cave-like during the day.  So I painted the walls back to their former cameo white. The room is still cameo white, which has a hint of yellow in it: though I kinda miss where I was going, the idea being a dark room, which faces north and doesn't get a lot of light, can look great even darker. 

Blue once suggested that I try a dark teal or green. Nothing would be spared. Only the ceiling with its coffered beams would remain white. Very English gentleman's library circa 1880, which would be fitting since the building was constructed in 1885-6. Now that the room has more lighting from those same coffered beams, it could be pulled off, right? That's what I tell myself anyway. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

School Bag

Strange to say, but I'd forgotten how much I loved this bag, which I recently began using again after another bag—which I had been using for my laptop—gave up the ghost. This bag is essential patterned after a school book bag, and was a Christmas present from Mr. Husband about 12 years ago. It's been to London and Italy, and was my constant companion when I was singing at New York City Opera. But after the company imploded in 2011, the bag found itself parked in the closet. Now it is going everywhere with me again. 

Leather isn't light, that much I can tell you. But somehow, the bag has ceased to be heavy. I suppose one could posit that my change in perception has much to do with the ability to enfold life's events—and that wouldn't be inaccurate. Bag as talisman, connecting past and present, it's been banged up quite a bit, which, to some people would mean that it should be replaced. But that's not going to happen. I rather like its character.

I remember when I first tried it on, and found it a bit uncomfortable. And that was because the straps were sewn on vertically and cut into the shoulder. So the shop in the West Village (Joseph Hanna) had them adjusted on an angle, which made a huge difference, one which is still in evidence in bags being sold today. 

Not forgotten is getting out of the tube in London and having two young ladies run up and ask excitedly: "What did you get your bag?" 

"In New York City!" I replied with a big grin on my face. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Not Ready for Christmas

Not, not ready for Christmas. Not by a long shot. The pumpkin on the mantel is still there (this photo was taken last week), while its mate (both making their appearance on the Thanksgiving table) was turned into stew—and boy, was that good. 

Perhaps I will throw some garland up eventually, but I'm not holding my breath, since, for the first time in a long time (that might be ever), I am thinking of other things: projects, life and everything else. 

For the curious among you, the vessel with dried hydrangeas is actually a Victorian oil lamp base that I acquired years ago. I liked the color and pattern which is perfect for fall, and which Gotham seems encased in right now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Autumn in Central Park

Central Park during the first week of December, still in the throes of long-lasting autumn, the ground having yet to freeze. Beautiful, golden and glorious. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The State Theater

Actually, the State Theater at Lincoln Center has a very different name now (which you can find by googling), but you won't hear it from me. Having worked in the building with a long-lived opera company before it was killed by bad management (and with the help of the guy who's name is now engraved on it: find the tale here), I can't see myself calling it by its assigned letters. 

Be that as it may, I have occasion to pass by Philip Johnson's jewel box frequently, and snapped these photos with my new iPhone 6, which, I have to say, is quite the improvement over the old 4.

I remember the good things.