Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tom Hanks, NYC and Me ... Sort of!

I've noticed something interesting about vacations.   When given the gift of a few days of freedom, most of us choose to go somewhere "different" from the place where we live.  We are drawn to a different scenery, to a different energy .. to places where we can see things that we don't see in our normal daily lives. 

While living in Pennsylvania, we found ourselves seeking out places of peace, beauty, inspiration ... spending vacation time walking on beaches, camping in the woods and hiking in the mountains.  Now that we live IN the woods and mountains, we find ourselves drawn to experience different sights and sounds when we have time off. 

This spring, we spent 3 action-packed days in New York City - about as opposite of Keene Valley as one can find - truly a place where you can see things you don't see every day!

I shared a few photos from our NYC trip over Memorial Day.  If you missed them, you can read that post HERE)   Now that the trip is so far past, I won't do a whole NYC review, but I did want to share a few interesting  moments ... and one VERY special place!!

You have to start the day with coffee ... and since I can't normally walk to a coffee shop in the morning, I was looking forward to this more than you can imagine!!  Our first morning in NYC, we found this little treasure where I enjoyed the BEST Vanilla Latte I've ever had.  It had a luxuriously creamy texture and a special mysterious hint of flavor that I still remember!  I found out later, that Jack's has been voted #1 coffee shop in all of NYC .... I know how to pick 'em! 

 We did the full "immersion" version ... staying in a hotel that was only a half block from Times Square.  I wish I'd captured (on film) the moment when we stepped into the square and the girls' eyes grew huge!   I'm pretty sure that there are more people in this one photo than live in our entire town!

My mother was a "people watcher" and I've inherited her interest and curiosity.   I love to spot an individual in a crowd and think about them ... wondering about their story ...


 Like this gentleman who stood near the entrance to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Ferry ... patiently playing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" for hours.  His simple tune hung in the air with such a slow, haunting reverence that the chattering crowds hushed as they filed past him ... it felt sacred.

And this man who sat sketching in Central Park ... completely focused on his work 

And this man who created awesome rhythms using only a box, bucket and piece of metal ... keeping time to some internal music that only he could hear

And the rollicking rhythm as a family of Hasidic children danced and hopped and giggled back and forth over the giant floor piano at FAO Schwartz ... something one does not see every day!

Another thing one does not see every day .... a $1500 jewel-encrusted Etch a Sketch ... really?

Being a sucker for these kinds of things, I was excited to see a "Free Hug" guy in Times Square!  Envisioning one of those beautiful "We are the World" You Tube, tear jerking moments, we ran over ... and got our hugs ... after which he politely informed us that he was raising money for his college education.  Hmmm......  maybe.... maybe not.... but either way, we felt a little odd having "taken" a hug without giving anything in return.  We dug out a few bucks, took a photo and were on our way feeling just a little disillusioned! 

I could go on ... but I'll leave you with one last MOMENT ... my Hollywood moment!

We had a few hours to kill on our last morning in NYC so we headed to the West Side to explore.  After a brisk walk, we arrived at a nice little bench overlooking the river ..

While munching my granola bar, I looked to the right ... and what did I see but a sweet little garden blooming over yonder.

Now you have to realize that in early April, NOTHING is blooming at my house, so I was quite excited to see flowers and colors and promptly dragged my protesting family off the bench and down the little hill.

Upon closer observation, the garden was just starting to bloom ... not as lovely as I'd hoped.  But then ... it happened!   I turned to my daughter and said, "This place looks familiar!"

She said,  "Yes it does."

I said,  "It looks like the place where Tom Hanks met Meg Ryan ..."

She said,  "In 'You've Got Mail ...!'"

We looked around ...

I said,  "He walked down over here ..."

She said,  "And she walked in from over there ....."

Then we both squealed a little and just in case we were right, I took another picture ... off-center because I think I was shaking a little.

A few days after we got home, I clicked on the TV and "You've Got Mail" was playing!   I just had to sit down and watch ... and as the final moments of the movie approached, I called in the whole family and we all watched with bated breath ...

And sure enough ... Tom Hanks walked down over here ... and Meg Ryan walked in from over there ...

And they KISSED RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE VERY SIGN WHERE I'D STOOD ... oh my!   I do love that movie ... and NYC ... and seeing things that one doesn't see every day!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summertime, and the Livin' is Easy ...

 I've had a tune singing itself in my head the past few days ... a phrase, over and over .... "Summertime... and the living is easy ...." 

I have no idea where I've heard this song before, but ... surprise ... it turns out that it is, indeed, a real song!  And I found a wonderful rendition by two legendary musicians.  I suggest that you click on this video and let it play while I share some of my favorite summer moments (so far) with you.   And when you're done reading, just sit back, close your eyes, listen and let the simple joys of summer "ease" into your bones while the song finishes.

You'll feel better when the song ends ... I promise!

An ordinary morning became memorable when this ethereal creature chose to grace my porch for the day ... glowing with a sense of beauty and peace every time I looked at her.

 One of the fun things about belonging to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is that we get to see vegetables as they really ARE ... not the perfectly sized, colored and waxed kind that line the supermarket shelves.  Today, I found these two "lovebird" carrots in my veggie box.  They made me smile ... love is truly everywhere if we just have eyes to see.

Remember my mama bird?  Her babies are all grown up  now.  They've flown off to their adventures.  I kinda of miss them, but I'm glad to have my porch back!

My baby bird sure does LOVE her pomegranate seeds!

I love when the sunlight filters through the trees, choosing one spot and illuminating it like a heavenly spotlight.  I can almost hear the Director whispering, "Look here ... see this?  This ordinary rock that you overlook every day?  It is beautiful, don't you think?"

Speaking of beautiful .....

We've had quite a few hot (for us) days lately.  While the swimming holes are full of laughing and splashing, I love finding quiet places to sit and read and think ...

and cool my feet ... perfect! 

 There is nothing quite like a good belly rub on a beautiful day from someone you love.  (I apologize for Bella's lack of modesty, but she was in bliss and just couldn't help herself!)  These two are having a lot of summer fun together ... fishing, walks, farmer's market and of course, belly rubs!

And long lazy afternoon snuggles


One of my "happy places" is our beautiful front porch which is beautiful at any time of the day, but especially as dusk falls ...

And last, but not least .... nothing says SUMMER like fireworks over the mountains. A celebration of family, community and country.  We are blessed!

Summertime and  the livin' is easy ....

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Tale of a Castle, a Tree and a Shirt

Many years ago, in a far-off land, was an enchanted castle filled floor to ceiling with books.  The queen of the castle possessed magical powers and the children who visited her castle found themselves suddenly transported to places of mystery, wonder, humor and adventure.  They sat at her feet while she spun them great tales and taught them crazy songs ... and as they grew, their love for stories grew with them until they became readers, writers and tellers of their own magical tales.

When we moved to New York, one of the hardest things to leave behind was our library and our dear librarian!   Thankfully, we found a great library and another magical librarian here in Keene Valley!  But we were still overjoyed when we learned that Mrs. Franz and her hubby were going to be coming to our "neck of the woods" and wanted to spend a few nights at our place.

The day came and they arrived ... well .... sort of!

It had been raining all day and the tree branches over our driveway were hanging low.   Their camper was not amused!  What ever could we do???

 Well - tree trimming had been on the list for awhile ... I think it was #472 on the list.  But it suddenly moved up to #1.  (This is the way we get things done around here!)

Our friends were not the sort to sit by and watch Wayne work.   They hopped right out in the rain and helped with suggestions ...

 and with ladder holding ...

and with tree branch pulling.

About an hour later, the job was done and they could finally pull their camper into the parking area and begin their visit!  We had a great time filled with lots of stories and memories.


 Most of all, we marveled at how somethings never change ... like friendship and a shared love of books ...

While other things change a LOT ... like children growing tall and beautiful right before our eyes.

(You'll notice that Sodie happens to be wearing the SAME shirt in both photos!  She went hunting for it when she heard that Mrs. Franz was coming to visit and although it had been six years since the first photo was taken, that shirt still fits!  Meanwhile, CorrieAnne has grown a foot or more and her shirt is long since gone.)