Saturday, July 30, 2016

New York Peninsula

The Peninsula is not a geographic feature, but a hotel.  I should certainly put some adjectives in front of hotel.  “Luxurious” is the obvious one, but it is also refined without being too modern. We’ve already checked out, but we have access to all the accommodations until our car picks us up about 5:30, so I type this pool-side.

I wanted to show the kids some pictures of the hotel.  Daddy got us a Junior Executive Suite (a sweet suite, as we never tire of saying).  Even though we didn’t spend much time at the hotel, it was nice to come back to a living room separate from the bedroom. 

Ridiculously, there were 3 televisions, including the one for the bathtub.  This was really the only one I used, as I soaked while listening to Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday.



TV’s are wasted on Dwayne and me … when we have our laptops and smart phones. I usually spent a few hours a night blogging and trying to ignore email. 

But we didn’t scoff at the feather soft bed and extra pillows.


Or the hallway bench (great place to throw down the backpacks upon as we crawled back at the end of the day).


And the living room was a pleasant place to just be quiet after a day in Manhattan. IMG_6638

It’s not going to be affordable with kids (I can’t guarantee it was affordable without kids!), but I’m going to fondly remember our Home Sweet NY Home.


NYC Last Day: Patience and Fortitude

Dear Ducklings,

I’m not trying to sermonize.  Patience and Fortitude are the names of the lions guarding the New York Public Library, or “The People’s Palace” as it is also referred.


I think this is Fortitude (and I’m sure it’s Daddy)…

…making this the backside of Patience! Hee-hee.


By the way, Wesley, fortitude means great courage when facing difficulty.  Remember that, you may need to name something Fortitude or Patience.

Ta-da!  Here is….The Library.


There are over 80 circulating branches of the NYPL system, which means those are places patrons can check out materials.  This branch, however, is strictly a research library.  The public can access its maps, genealogical collections, periodicals (magazines and newspapers), and books, but only for use in the reading rooms.  Some rooms you have to apply, probably with the right academic credentials, to have access to some of the rare collections. 

Like so many other places we’ve loved this week, a lot of the treasure is in the architecture.  Before we even went into the building, we got lost in the statues, giant urns, and balustrades. 


(Cover your eyes, it’s another naked woman statue!)


You can open them now.



Poor Daddy.  Why does the entire city of NY get balustrades and arches and he has none?

We enter through none-too-shabby doors…


…and encounter a palace of white marble.  Pretend my pictures do justice to the soaring ceilings and elaborate staircases.



This is just a regular, ol’ ceiling of the 2nd floor Rotunda.


The murals were specially designed for the library.  They show the evolution of writing: stone engravings, manuscript copying, the first metal printing press (the Gutenberg Bible), and then newspaper publishing—and updated way to rapidly print something new daily. 



Gutenberg made approximately 180 copies of his Bible, though only 48 are known to have survived.  This is one of them! 


The children’s library is supposed to be exhibiting the original Winnie-the-Pooh bear and friends (except for Roo, who went on a family picnic long ago in an apple orchard and never returned).  This is the original bear belonging to the real Christopher Robin, whose father based many books on his life and stuffed animals.  However, the friends must be vacationing this week and will return next week.  That didn’t stop the gift store from selling replicas!

These Lego Lions guarded well the Children’s corner.


It was truly a fantastic glimpse into the largesse of the founders, and a very popular place to read, study, and to tourists like us, gawk!

Bryan Park shares the block with NYPL, and it’s charming as well.  With game tables, an open field, a beautiful carousel (designed for very young or timid children), an outdoor Reading Room, and picturesque restaurants, it’s truly a public space. 




I’m becoming charmed by public green spaces completely encircled by skyscrapers.  It makes an interesting juxtaposition that constantly reminds me that I’m not from here!

And to top off our afternoon before we had to check out, we finally had our New York hotdog. 


Tastes exactly as you’d think—bland and slightly off.  Winking smile

Thanks, New York.  I can’t wait to come back and show you my awesome kids.  They certainly want to meet you!Love and kisses,


Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 7: The Cloisters…and Beyond!

Dear Ducklings,

I don’t know how today IMG_6406could have been better.  After I bombed choosing the comedy club and restaurant, I encouraged Dwayne to plan our Friday.  He chose the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is quite a bit north and very different.  Like the Met, it is situated in beautiful gardens, but that is where the similarities end. 

First, it took 3 train transfers to get there, but we got off at 190th and the world changed.

Just to relate it back to Hamilton, there’s a lyric that repeats a few times after Phillip’s death,  It’s quiet uptown, and it was hard not to hum it as we opened up into a quiet park full of the block walls Dwayne and I favor.





We walked through Tryon Park, a beautiful hill Rockefeller, Jr. liked so much that he bought it, helped build the Cloisters, purchased most of the medieval art for it, and then donated it.  God bless Rockefeller! 

The Met proper has so many objects that any one gallery (of the 400!) could make your head explode.  The Cloisters had several rooms, but you wouldn’t need to take off a second shoe to count them all.  And most of the art is architectural, which meant a lot of the rooms were works of art without further adornment. This included doors, stained glass windows, and, ahem, entire rooms.

The Chapters, where monks would congregate for daily meetings and readings of a chapter of the Benedictine’s handbook for being a monk (or similarly entitled), was taken from Europe and reassembled here, with only the floor being new.


Similarly, this Romanesque Apse was also taken down brick by brick in France and rebuilt here.


You can barely see the door in the right of the picture above.  That door was originally on a older church (1100AD, give or take a century) until it was removed to put in another door.  Supposedly it got moved around and around until it was found lying unloved in a field in France. 

Here’s a quick architecture lesson, ducklings.  Romanesque buildings have semi-circular arches.  Look in that last pictures.  Very Romanesque—you should be able to count 8 arches in that shot.  That was earlier medieval.

Here’s another example:


Then medieval went Gothic.


Image result for gothic at the cloisters

Image result for gothic at the cloisters

I always think of Gothic as gargoyles, and there certainly is an aspect of elaborate, slightly twisted to Gothic.  But especially in architecture, it meant using new methods (like flying buttresses) to make a building’s skeleton narrow.  Cathedrals now were able to point up to heaven.  Windows, doors, ceilings all come to a point rather than the semi-circle that Romanesque does. It meant significant amount of walls being taken up with windows (compared to Romanesque structures, at least), and so much lighter.

You can see a strong Gothic influence on this decorative Virgin Mary box—about the size of a toaster.


Kyla, do you remember one of the first artists we read about in your art book last year?  It was about 3 teenage brothers who made marvelous illuminated books?  This is by those brothers:


The books are some of my favorite medieval treasures.


I won’t—can’t—show you everything but here are a few articles that stood out.

This tapestry was less religious than most of medieval art, but still has saints and other Christian symbols mixed in the lords and ladies it represented.  It looks in terrible shape (it is about 800 year old cloth!), but its history included being cut up to make curtains!


These is reportedly the only intact deck of cards from this time period still in existence today!  There are 52 cards, though only a few are on display at a time.  IMG_6484

This was a choir chair. Like theater chairs, they can be folded upright or left down. When it is up, the seat has a bit of a leaning post on it, as choir boys had to stand for long times and needed to lean against something. The funny face?  Just a bit of levity, I believe!


I just thought this was a marvelous carving.  His face is beautiful in its realism.


Unicorns are a huge part of medieval themes.  First of all, the unicorn was supposed to have all sorts of magical power (being able to purify water with a touch of its horn, for one).  Secondly, it was a symbol of Christ—pure and strong.  The Unicorn room had several tapestries.  Just this room alone probably makes the Cloisters priceless.


But I thought the narwhal horn here in the corner was amazing.  It’s about 8 feet long, and was thought to be a unicorn horn hundreds of years ago (probably not by the person who sold it as such, though!).


Daddy and I were most enchanted by the cloisters (the covered walkways) and the courtyard gardens.  The entire cloisters were naturally uncrowded, peaceful places, again in contrast to the Met proper, and this time of year, smelled divine.


Here’s a 5 minute video of the Cloisters, if you wanted more.

Once we left the Cloisters, we had garden paths in every direction to choose from, and so we began to meander in earnest.  Dwayne was well rewarded when we came across the New Leaf CafĂ©. IMG_6540


From the outdoor draped ceilings accented with chandeliers to the fancy food, he was quite pleased with himself. 

Between happy hour and dinner there (yes, we did both), we explored more of the Heather Garden and Fort Tryon.  I know my ducklings would have enjoyed exploring this park with us!






We had a great plan (and it was Daddy’s so it was supposed to work well) to take the subway to the north end of Central Park, rent Citi Bikes, and ride to the south end, close to our hotel.  However, all the north end Citi Bike lots were “coming soon”, as opposed to the south end where they are ubiquitous. 

Central Park is about 1/2 mile wide and 2.6 miles long…with no straight paths.  Dwayne and I walked the entire park, slightly by accident, and with lots of zigzagging. 

Image result for map of central park

But the sunset was beautiful, and there are so many pockets of joy in Central Park.  Even with all the walking we did tonight, we saw only the most obvious landmarks.  It would take real dedication to know this entire park well, which means there will always be a surprise…if you are willing to walk for it!


This time tomorrow, we’ll be landing in Seattle.  See you soon, beloved children.