New York City Blog from Portland July 19 – July 25

July 25 was the NW Book Fair in Pioneer Square. Pioneer Square is Portland’s living room. Last week we attended the annual Sand Castles Competition. It was blisteringly hot and so bright my eyes hurt. This week my friend helped me haul copies of The Lemrow Mystery and totes to the fair. You can’t win them all. It rained. It poured. The tent I shared

A Perfect Portand Party

A Perfect Portand Party

with four other women, all delightful, was like a wet handkerchief after ten minutes. I hung in there until one p.m and then grabbed my gear and left. There were no customers but I exchanged copes of my book with others and we all swore fervently to read and review. Met lots of great Oregonians.

Went to a wonderful party after the rain had stopped.
My friend arranged for me to cat-

Big Eaters

Big Eaters

sit in a Portland floating home in the Jantzen suburb.The houses are licensed under the title floating homes/houseboats. Years ago, it was considered very economical to live on the Columbia Channel. Now, it’s desirable. The houses are built very closely together. There’s a central narrow board walk and many signs about various regulations: animals have to stay on their own property, no loud noise. The cats I baby – sat are called raggedy dolls. That means they have lots of hair and appear bigger than they really are. They shed copiously and eat like dogs. None of this nonsense about inner control. They figured out where some hidden nibbles were, climbed onto the counter and managed to knock the package to the floor and gobble up oodles of them, twice. Friends (not feline) came to dinner and afterwards we sat on the front porch which is on the river.

The floating home front porch

 

I am at the NW Book Festival

 

 

If you are in the area please stop by for a chat. I will be in booth #4. Looking forward to meeting you.

New York City Blog from Portland July 12 – July 18

I asked the UPS store manager to reproduce The Lemrow Mystery cover 2′ x 2′ to be used as a table covering at the NW Book Fair on July 25. Here is the work of art. Move over, Leonardo.

The Lemrow Mystery tablecloth

The Lemrow Mystery tablecloth

I went to the Tualatin public library in a Portland suburb to the NW Writers and Publishers Association to network and to meet other writers presenting at the Book Fair. R. H. Sheldon gave a very interesting and illuminating talk about writers who ignored writing taboos and produced great literature. Two examples were Alice Munro’s use of the passive voice and Mark Twain writing in dialect and about the poor. The library is enchanting, packed with books rather than computers, although those are well represented. There are cozy nooks and corners for people of all ages to curl up with a book or to daydream.

Tualatin Public Library

Tualatin Public Library

Powell’s City of Books has many talks about…books! On July 13, a native Oregonian, Dawson Barrett, talked about Becoming Oregon, his book about Oregon between 1804, the Lewis and Clark expedition and 1905, the exposition, or World’s Fair held in Portland. He explored Oregon as a territory and then as a state (1859) through newspapers ( the NY Times thought Oregon state hood was a bad idea), magazines, engravings, pictures and maps. Amusing anecdotes accompanied the U. S. and England’s fascinated ignorance about the northwest.

I made my annual pilgrimage to a friend’s elegant garden.Once again, she patiently identified flowers and shrubs for my ignorant eye. In addition to roses in the city of roses, there are many other varieties. It’s heartening to see and hear the bees.

A Bee Hut

A Bee Hut

New York City Blog from Portland July 5 – July 11

Welcome to the east Portland Indoor Pool and the first person who finds it wins The Doctor Livingston I presume award. Talk about impossible.The Google map had me walking in circles, literally. For some unfathomable reason, Portland likes to skip street numbers. So, it’s 104 Avenue followed by 106 Avenue. 105 Avenue is probably across the street but don’t bet on it. Following the Google Map I struggled across a very busy interstate, ignored no trespassing signs, skirted construction trucks and no exit signs, smiled cowardly at a dog that was advancing and growling. A man who could have been one of the original Hatfields or McCoys, told me to follow an overgrown path and ignore all the No Entrance, Stop, Keep Out signs. I did. I saw a couple who turned out to be extremely kind and knew the area. They escorted me to the pool. Unless Google provides all users with good samaritans like mine, I don’t advise using its maps.

South Portland Swimming Pool

South Portland Swimming Pool

Portland Aerial Tram delivers people to a hospital and a beautiful view.

 

View from the four minute tram ride

View from the four minute tram ride

 

There was a memorial for Linda Hornbuckle and Janice Scroggins in NE Portland’s  Dawson Park. The women were close friends who played together and died within a short time of each other. Both were inspired musicians. Linda Hornbuckle was a singer and Janice Scroggins was a  pianist.They were Portland legends and masters of soul, blues, gospel and jazz,

Dancing at the Memorial

Dancing at the Memorial

Portland Food Truck

Portland Food Truck

The annual Mississippi Street Fair was blessed by temperate weather. No event in Portland would be complete without its food trucks.

 

New York City Blog June 29 — July 4

Monday I arrived on the Empire Builder in Portland, OR.The Seattle car is usually separated from the Empire Builder at Spokane. Not today. Because of a terrible fire in Wenatchee, Washington the Seattle car stayed attached to the rest of the train. At Portland, the Seattle folks were bused home. Oregon and Washington State are tinderbox dry. Climate change, anyone?  How about rethinking not using fireworks.

It’s bittersweet to be staying in the Warren for the last time. Four years ago, I found this wonderful basement (cool!) apartment on VRBO, Vacation Rentals by Owners Only, The landlady is selling the property. Since you asked, $640,000. Friends recently bought a condo in a leafy, woodsy section of the city. Here’s one of them grilling salmon while the rest of us supervise.

Chef Jim

Chef Jim

The First Unitarian Church choir was leaving for Ireland and its wonderful seventy degrees. I went to a final rehearsal. Can you sing? I’m good at opening my mouth but am tone deaf according to a singing cousin. It was mesmerizing to listen to the layers of sound and to watch the fifty five (?) person choir keep their eyes as avidly on the music director, Mark Slegers, as a brood of hungry chicks eyes its mother. What a range: from Ave Maria to Blue Skies by way of two Swahili songs. There are fourteen songs in all and all are wonderful.

The Unitarian Church's answer to the one hundred degrees temperature

The First Unitarian Church’s answer to the one hundred degrees temperature

On July 4th: we went to the Farmers Market. What an abundance of local products: sausages, vodka, flowers, heather, jams. I’ll let the market’s beauty speak for itself.

Local Herbs

Local Herbs

Local Flowers

Local Flowers

New York City Blog June 22 — June 28

Shortly before leaving NYC for Portland, Or. I attended a farewell party on the top floor of the Central Park Arsenal for a wonderful gardener. The Prosecco and best wishes flowed.

The Arsenal Party

The Arsenal Party

Friday afternoon I got on the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. The compartment was an updated version seen in North by Northwest  but where was Cary Grant? It was very cozy with big windows that give you a wonderful view of the Hudson. I had dinner at 5 pm.The food was: tired salad with packets of Paul Newman dressing on plastic plates followed by mediocre salmon with canned vegetables and potatoes out of a box. I had something called strawberry cheesecake which was pink, hard pablum. I had a half bottle of red wine for $16 bucks. Thanks God for booze.

Amish on the Empire Bilder

Amish on the Empire Bilder

In Chicago I switched to the Empire Builder. It’s a double decker train. At Spokane, WA. the front part of the train goes to Seattle and the rear part goes to Portland. Wonderful views of the Wisconsin Dells, the Mississippi, Glacier National Park in Montana and the Columbia River Gorge.

New York City Blog June 14 — June 21

At the beginning of the week we went to Locanda Verde to celebrate a birthday and had a sinfully delicious ice cream dessert, Fantasia di Cassata for Two. Ricotta gelato is one of the ingredients. The restaurant’s ricotta whether eaten as an appetizer or in dessert is wonderful. Steve Kulchek has promised to bring his daughter, Jessie, here when she returns from her junior year abroad in Sicily.

On June 18 the GVSHP (The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation} dedicated a plaque to Martha Graham at the site of her studio, 66 Fifth Avenue. The elderly, great and good of the dance world stood in the impending rain. Finally, the plaque was unveiled. While Graham danced on video like a five year old at her birthday party, Stuart Hodes told charming stories about being a member of the Graham company from 1947 to 1958. The owner of Two Boots provided pizza al fresco on the chilly June evening.
Stuart Hodes, his wife, Liz, a former Graham dancer, Stuart’s late brother, Al Gescheidt,

Stuart Hodes at 66 Fifth Avenue, site of Martha Graham's studio

Stuart Hodes at 66 Fifth Avenue, site of Martha Graham’s studio

and I all lived on Lexington Avenue and 31 Street in a run down apartment house. We had great parties, several drug raids and occasionally, a neighborhood prostitute sleeping under the stairs. Al was a photographer who turned his apartment into a dark room and specialized in trick photography.

Al Gescheidt's take on the Mona Lisa

Al Gescheidt’s take on the Mona Lisa

New York City Blog June 8 — June 15

On a hot summer night a friend and I went to Gigino’s in Tribeca, perched at a little table on the cement porch because the a/c was down. We had a terrific time. Gigino’s has been in existence since 1994 but seems more settled, more of a landmark. I had assumed the charming snapshot of nonno, cigarette planted firmly in the corner of his mouth, running after his grandson, was a family photo. Who knows? Maybe it’s a clever publicist’s stunt to play on the homey quality that the word, trattoria, conveys.

Gigino's Menu

Gigino’s Menu

We then went to Highlights in Jazz at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. It’s NYC’s oldest running jazz series, as we are constantly reminded by the genial host, Jack Kleinsinger. This last concert of the season featured the jazz pianist, Randy Weston and Billy Harper the saxophonist. Alexis Cole, the singer and Dylan Meeks, the pianist rounded out the first part of the evening. We left early and slogged our way through the NYC humidity.

I’m about to breech the new Whitney. As everyone knows it’s in the newest, hottest Manhattan area, the former meat packing district and a stone’s throw from that other trend setter and tourist attraction, the High Line. Did you like the former bunker -er- museum space on Madison and 75th Street? I didn’t. It was more like a prison that a museum. Actually, it could be Rikers East. Can you imagine the reaction of the people in the ‘hood?

New York City Blog June 1 — June 7

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the perfect vehicle for Balanchine’s choreography and Mendelssohn’s music. The NYCB’s current production is based on Balanchine’s production which premiered in 1962.The dancing is superb and the sets are magical. Most of the play takes place in an enchanted forest. Saturday afternoon’s audience was multigenerational and judging by the laughter and applause the performance was warmly appreciated.
Practically next door at the N. Y. Public Library for the Performing Arts, there’s a Frank Sinatra exhibit. Talk about strolling down memory lane. There are great photos of recording sessions and of some of the other celebrities who sang with Sinatra. His mentors were Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. It was Crosby who said: Frank Sinatra is a singer who comes along once in a life time but why did he have to come in mine? There’s even a closed booth where you can sing along with old blue eyes. The exhibit is at the library until September 4.
El Museo del Barrio has an exhibit honoring Gabriel Figueroa, the Mexican

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra

Sinatra at the Paramount

Sinatra at the Paramount

cinematographer. Who needs technicolor? Figueroa’s black and white scenes evoke moody, intense passion. They remind me of Martha Graham’s dances. Figueroa’s films are being shown at the Film Forum this week.

New York City Blog May 25 — May 31

A friend and I wended our way from the Gagosian Gallery’s Michael Heizer’s exhibit to the Highline and down the stairs and across Ninth Avenue to cocktails and dinner at the Tipsy Parson. Stuffed eggs, mac and cheese and delicious red wine always aid great conversation.

Michael Heizer's Altars

Michael Heizer’s Altars

Coypel’s Don Quixote Tapestries closed at the Frick Collection with Frick movie night. Staff and volunteers were invited to the Music Room to see a screening of the Man of La Mancha. it was based on the Cervantes eighteenth-century novel that no one reads. Lyrics were borrowed from the Broadway production. In spite of the fact that the late Roger Ebert gave the 1972 movie only two and a half stars, it was lots of nostalgic fun. Big names from that era include Peter O’Toole, Sophia Loren, and Ian Richardson playing a young, idealist priest. Many years later in BBC’s House of Cards, Richardson played, brilliantly, a corrupt politician who flung his mistress off the roof of the houses of parliament.

For the past week the Joyce Theater has been a shine to Wendy Whalen. Two other acolytes and I went on bended knee and broken check book to Restless Creature: four dances choreographed and danced by Ms. Whalen and Alejandro Cerrudo, Joshua Beamish, Kyle Abraham and Brian Brooks. It was a rare treat watching a great dancer, supported by other great dancers, at the Joyce, which doesn’t have a bad seat in the house.