COFFEE–WHAT’S IN A CUP?

Espresso factory

Espresso factory

I don’t remember when I had my first cup of coffee, but I do remember when I had my last. Today, after a long afternoon workshop, painting Coney Island round- about swings.

Espresso factory

Coney Island round-about swings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coffee tasted good. It refreshed me with just enough caffeine to replenish my energy.

 

 

 

Needs cream?

Needs cream?

Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies; however, results have varied in terms of coffee’s relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, the diterpenes in coffee may increase the risk of heart disease.

Lavazza espresso regular & decaf

LavAzza Espresso regular & decaf

Coffee cultivation first took place in Abyssinia. The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. In the Horn of Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in local religious ceremonies. As these ceremonies conflicted with the beliefs of the Christian church, the Ethiopian Church banned the secular consumption of coffee until the reign of Emperor Menelik II. The beverage was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons, and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.

Coffee for two

Coffee for two

What’s your take on coffee? Or do you prefer soda or tea or something else?

LIFE OF A LEAF

The autumn leaves

The autumn leaves

On that day, that fateful day when the wind and rain tore the red and gold leaves from their bones and they fell at my feet–inspiration flooded my soul. Imagine what it must be like to have such a short life. Sprout in spring, fizzle in fall. I picked one up, the one floating in a puddle and pondered its life.

We aren’t the only ones that have a life. So does a leaf, the lowly leaf. It lives long enough to filter the air  you breathe, to fill those empty spaces between the bones of a tree, to add color to the container you call your world.P1120623

Japanese maple leaves

Japanese maple leaves

It’s hard to believe that small spring bud pushing it way out on a tree branch will blossom into a handsome colored shape, some pointy, some rounded, some straight, some huge, bigger than a man’s hand.

leaflines

leaflines

All those hard-working leaves have done their job and fall off the tree before the onset of winter. They get raked and  bagged and get trotted off to the landfill . But hold one deciduous leaf up by its stem, look at it. I mean really look. It has several life lines. A leaf is basically the power generator of a plant. Leaves have specialized cells that carry out photosynthesis when exposed to sunlight. In photosynthesis, sunlight, water supplied by the roots, and carbon dioxide from the air produce oxygen and sugars (stored plant food).

The visible lines running through the leaf blade are veins that carry the water and nutrients involved in photosynthesis to and from the rest of the plant. The network of veins includes a mid-vein (aka midrib) that runs through the center of the leaf. Secondary veins branch off from the midrib and tertiary veins branch off the secondaries. To read more click this link.

What’s your favorite . . . spring time or fall time?

 

CMA AWARDS

P1120476I needed flake-out time after a whole day on my feet painting pretty pictures for my Coney Island project. Right at the bewitching rush hour, I left Silvermine Arts Center, plowed through miles and miles and miles of traffic to home to sit back, put my feet up and unfrazzle myself. This blog is not about being unfrazzled, rather it’s about watching the CMA (Country Music Association) awards, while I unwind. Tom and I love country music. Country music is all about the story. Every song is meant to pull on your heartstrings. You see, the music comes from the heart, about life’s hardships and happiness.P1120479

There are so many great singers and great contributors to our country music culture. But The Band Perry intrigued me tonight when they performed. They made a great sound. Like so many talented bands, Kimberly, Reid, and Neil Perry are siblings. In 2008, they were discovered by Garth Brooks’ manager Bob Doyle and subsequently have had top albums over the last six or so years. P1120474What made them prominent was that on Sunday, February 2, 2014, the band performed in the pre-game show of Super Bowl XLVIII. It gained positive publicity after offering to cover the burial expenses for the funerals of nine people (a mother and eight of her children) killed in an accidental house fire in the Greenville, Kentucky area. The band is also paying the costs of family members’ hotel expenses while the father and the surviving daughter are being treated for burns at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Cheers for The Band Perry.

P1120483No CMA would be complete without one of country music’s legends, Loretta Lynn on the right with Kasey Musgrave.

What’s your take on Country Music?

LAS RAMBLAS

Gaudi lamppost and bench

Gaudi lamppost and bench

We spent three days in Barcelona, Spain, mostly touring Architect Antonio Gaudi’s work, Gaudi’s architecture is all over the city, like this lamppost with it’s stone bench. Pretty comfortable too. I think you will agree you have not seen a lamppost like this—ever, unless you have been to Gaudi’s city of Barcelona. His architectural works also dot the perimeter of Las Ramblas, the city’s most interesting street.

Human Statue

Human Statue

Its fame with tourists has affected the character of the boulevard, with charming cafes and souvenir kiosks. Las Ramblas can also be roughly divided into seedy and non-seedy areas. This distinction becomes a lot clearer during the nighttime when the Southern-most end of the Ramblas becomes something of a red light district.

Las Ramblas Artists

Las Ramblas Artists

Even so, you will find dozens of restaurants and beautiful shops along the full length of the Barcelona Las Ramblas, along with artists hawking their wares.

Did you know there is a Miró on Las Ramblas? The famous painter Joan Miró actually created part of the Ramblas. Many thousands of people walk right over the Miró circle on the Ramblas every day and don’t even know it!

Miro circle

Miro circle

Entertainment is prevalent with street performers, acrobats, impersonators, and musicians. Costumed actors were the most fascinating with expert disguises as human statues.

Human statue

Human statue

barcelona-las-ramblas-eating-outPeople watching is a must while you sit on the Ramblas with a jug of sangria, it’s an absolute must!

If you abide by the conservative fashions,, it will be harder for those pickpockets to find you. Hint, hint, shorts scream tourist, tourist, tourist, making it easy for the seedy. Are you up for the challenge?

Thanks for the images go to Barcelona-touristguide.com.

EXPERIENCE ESPARDRILLES

Leopard & black

Leopard & black

Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.

Like picking candy, which one?

Like picking candy, which one?

Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children. images-7 images-9

Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.

In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet. images-10 images

Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.

Here’s where – Carrer d’Avinyo, 7 – 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. +34 933 010 172 – amanualalpargatera.coml

Are you espardrille owners? What do you like about them?

 

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

Antonio Gaudi, unappreciated in his brief life as an architect. His genius gave life to an edifice in Barcelona, never before done . . . anywhere. We were witness to his genius in 2010.

Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Spires of the church.

Spires of the church.

Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers; the sacristy was damaged, and the fire took 45 minutes to contain.

Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows

The stained glass windows were placed perfectly to permit sunlight penetration, spreading colors from the stained glass onto the massive columns.

La Sagrada is an architectural wonder, however, yet unfinished. Worth a trip to Barcelona. Then you can see other works of Gaudi’s architectural ingenuity.

You can purchase your ticket on-line the day before to avoid the long lines and make sure you include a trip up to the top of one of the towers for an amazing view!

For those of you who have been and seen, what details were your favorite?

 

THE BIG CITY

NY statueoflibHasn’t everyone been to the big city? New York City. That’s also known as the Island of Manhattan. That plot of land in-between two bodies of water, the Hudson River on the Westside,  and the East River on the, well, you can guess.

 

The Westside has the Battery with the Statue of Liberty,

Ellis Island in the distance

Ellis Island in the distance

Ellis Island and One World Trade Center and Chinatown. The East Side has Gracie Mansion (NY Mayor’s home) and the Brooklyn Bridge, a historic landmark. Battery Park, seen here,  is worth a visit.

It’s because of Lana, our house guest, that we visited all these places, neglected when you live in their midst. Here’s pieces and pictures of the city. Over the city sounds you can  hear the hawkers selling food, pictures (a law prohibiting hawking by Spider Man and his friends is coming), clothes, souvenirs, and more. Below there are photos of St. Patrick’s under renovation, the flags at Rockefeller Plaza, city view lights, cars, people, Lana taking it all in.

One World Trade Center (Renamed from Freedom Center)

One World Trade Center (Renamed from Freedom Center)

 

Ellis Island

Ellis Island close-up

P1110523 P1110536 P1110534 P1110513 P1110391 NYchinatwn nystreetview1 P1110500You have to love living here with all there is to explore. When’s the last time you toured “the city”?

LES MIZ

Les-Miserables-Playbill-03-14Wonders of youthful dreams. He was a boy when I met him, my grandson’s best friend.

David & Kyle

Kyle’s dream was to be on Broadway.

Off to the pub for dinner.

Off to the pub for dinner.

Here he is, the guy on the right, a star in Les Miz. The other guy is my grandson, David. The photo was taken after the show backstage. Kyle got us house seats and joined us for dinner. It was more than special, and so exciting to see him perform. Lana, our guest from South Africa, although she had seen the show at home, she, with us, enjoyed interfacing with a Broadway cast.

Les Miz photos

Les Miz cast photos

Here’s some scenes from the show.

Everyone want his autograph and to take pictures with him. He is good looking and charming, of course.

Everyone wanted his autograph and to take pictures with him. He is good looking and charming, of course.

Here we all are, not everyone get a group shot with a star. Thank you Kyle.

Here we all are, not everyone gets to take a group shot with a star. Thank you Kyle. Have you seen this revival?

 

 

 

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM

Fashion Collection at the Met

Fashion Collection at the Met

Can you really see New York in three days? We sure tried, we wanted to give Lana, our guest, the grand tour. In an email quote from her today. She said, “And my visit with you is still a highlight, despite the speed, as u say.”

Metropolitan Fashion collection

Metropolitan Fashion collection

I hoped we would get to at least two museums on Friday, the 5th, but alas, after only one, we were ready for the heap. Have you been to the Metropolitan lately? Egad, it’s a few cities in one building. It’s a place to get your fill of the innovative and of antiquity. The rooftop is amazing. If you don’t go anywhere else in this building, you must visit the rooftop. The glass-like structure, a 2-way mirror was fun, like the fun-house mirrors in a carnival.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rooftop glass garden exhibit until Nov. 2nd

Rooftop glass 2-way mirror garden exhibit until Nov. 2nd

Glass structure

Glass structure

There is an app for the Met, so you can plan your visit, but since I claim naivety in the app realm, we visited the Met without a plan.  At one time, I was familiar with the museum. I thought there would be no problem. I was sorely mistaken. The museum app starts with a lovely, clean design that begs to be explored. It doesn’t open on a home screen, but takes you immediately to its featured exhibitions, listing those that will end soonest at the top and exhorting you to “catch them while you can.” Clicking onto each exhibit’s page provides a nice description of the work being shown, while other sections of the app showcase both masterpieces and oddities in the museum’s extensive collection. These tabs are expertly curated, and echo the Met’s larger social media strategy, which feels surprisingly current for an institution filled with antiquities.

Entry into Temple Dendoor

Entry into Temple Dendoor

I was overwhelmed. But after a brief deep breath, I said, “Follow me.” I led Lana, and hubby Tom to the newest exhibition. The Temple of Dendur (Dendoor in nineteenth century sources) is an Egyptian temple that was built by the Roman governor of Egypt, Petronius, around 15 BC and dedicated to Isis, Osiris, as well as two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain, Pediese (“he whom Isis has given”) and Pihor (“he who belongs to Horus“). The temple was commissioned by Emperor Augustus of Rome and has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since 1978. If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth the trip, you get to walk through a real Egyptian temple. Those folks were really small, the door openings are quite narrow.

Central Park

Central Park

Lunch in the Member’s dining room, was the delight of the day, a lovely quiet space overlooking Central Park. Best place in the museum to dine. Next stop was to see the paintings, as much as we had the energy to see. 15-17th century, 18th century Impressionism, 19th century Hudson River, it was endless. To get to each exhibit, we walked miles and miles and miles. The museum is ten cities in one.

Monet

Monet

We had lots to see, so we ran, didn’t walk, over to the American Wing, since this was Lana’s first visit to America. Make sense? We whizzed through, which was frustrating for me since furniture and the decorative arts is part of my soul. But most important, I showed Lana and Tom (who bless his heart, chauffeured us into and out of the city) the Herter Brothers furniture that once graced the rooms at Lockwood, the very same company that decorated the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in 1867. I had to show Lana Lockwood, although we didn’t get there until Monday on the way to the airport.  Where else would she get her very own private tour of an American National historic landmark built in 1867.

What is your favorite at the Metropolitan Museum?

Albert Bierstadt part of an American Indian painting

Albert Bierstadt part of an American Indian painting in the West.

THE CLOISTERS

1024px-Penn_Station_NYC_main_entranceJust imagine. This image depicts the busiest hub in the world. Seriously. This is Penn Station, NYC at Madison Square Garden. We were there picking up our house guest. Lana, my editor’s daughter from South Africa, came to get the best tour ever of New York City, after four weeks with her daughter and new baby in Virginia. Tom manned the MDX, and I paced the sidewalk. We had never met and she had never been to the States. We had skyped briefly once or twice, so we knew what each of us looked like. She didn’t have to wear a red rose and neither did I, but just imagine finding each other in this people maze. We did it. She recognized me first, and a moment hence, I recognized her. She arrived mid-afternoon, Thursday, the 4th. The plan was not to waste a moment. The timing was perfect to visit the Cloisters on the way home. The first of many sights. We had every minute  of each day planned until she had to leave on Monday, the 8th. So, here goes. I will share what we experienced on this day. I hadn’t been to the Cloisters since the days of historic investigations while in interior design school, long, long ago.

The tower at the Cloisters

The tower at the Cloisters

The Cloisters is a museum located on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, in Fort Tryon Park in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, used to exhibit the museum’s extensive collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe.

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Lana in the cloistered garden

Lana in the cloistered gardens

The area around the buildings was landscaped with gardens planted according to horticultural information obtained from medieval manuscripts and artifacts, and the structure includes multiple medieval-style cloistered herb gardens.

 

Cloistered columns

The cloistered columns

The Cloisters was designated a New York City landmark in 1974, and Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters were listed together as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

History

One of the many tapestries

One of the many tapestries

The 66.5-acre Fort Tryon Park was created by the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. beginning in 1917, when he purchased the Billings Estate and other properties in the Fort Washington area and hired Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of one of the designers of Central Park, and the Olmsted Brothers firm to create a park, which he then donated to New York City in 1935. As part of the overall project, Rockefeller also bought the extensive medieval art collection of George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor and collector, who had already established a medieval-art museum near his home in Fort Washington, and gave it to the Metropolitan along with a number of pieces from Rockefeller’s own collection, including the Unicorn Tapestries. These became the core of the collection now housed at the Cloisters.

Vaulted ceiliings

Vaulted ceiliings

The museum was designed by Charles Collens who incorporated parts from five cloistered abbeys of Catalan, Occitan and French origins. Buildings from Sant Miquel de Cuixà, Sant Guilhèm dau Desèrt, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigòrra, and Froville were disassembled stone-by-stone and shipped to New York City, where they were reconstructed and integrated by Collens into a cohesive whole by simplifying and merging the various medieval styles in his new buildings.

Collection

Medieval depiction of Christ on the cross. Notice the stiffness of this early work of art.

Medieval depiction of Christ on the cross.

The Cloisters collection contains approximately five thousand European medieval works of art, with a particular emphasis on pieces dating from the 12th through the 15th centuries. The Cloisters also holds many medieval manuscripts and illuminated books.

 

 

 

 

 

Library and Archives

The Cloisters Library is one of the Metropolitan Museum’s thirteen libraries. It contains 15,000 volumes of books. The Library and Archives contains Museum Administration papers, the personal papers of George Grey Barnard, early glass lantern slides of museum materials, curatorial papers, museum dealer records, scholars records, recordings of musical performances at the museum, and maps.

Italian Savonarola chair 15th-16th century. Back splat is embossed leather

Italian Savonarola chair 15th-16th century. Back splat is embossed leather

Although the Cloisters was established specifically to house Medieval Art, we noticed that over the years the collection grew, encompassing the art of later centuries up to and including the seventeenth century.

Friendly birds looking for handouts. We were seated right beside them.

Friendly birds looking for handouts. We were seated right beside them.

We enjoyed a rest and cool bottled water. Lana was shocked that the two waters, one carbonated, cost $8.00. So did we, in fact.

 

 

Come back for more of what we did during the days of Lana’s visit. It was amazing.

Did you find anything here inspiring you to visit the Cloisters? Be sure to take the tour.  Fascinating.