Monday, February 26, 2007

Age Diversity

Today’s Times has an interesting article about the elderly: they’re moving back North in record numbers. After losing a spouse or entering a period of declining health, many seniors have elected to leave their retirement homes and head back to their families in the Northeast and Midwest. The article quotes one 78-year-old woman on moving to Manhattan to be closer to her daughter: New York “makes you feel more alive, it keeps you interested in life.”

But, of course, some elderly have never left the city. The first neighbor we met when we moved into our building was named Julio, and he’d lived there for 69 years. When he passed away, flyers for his memorial service appeared on front doors and telephone poles throughout the neighborhood. It’s tough to imagine that happening in a gated retirement community.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Blue Hill


Once a year, usually in February, we go out for a super-nice dinner. Last year we chose One If By Land, Two If By Sea, usually voted the most romantic restaurant in New York. This year we moved north a few blocks and went to Blue Hill, whose fresh-from-their-own-farm produce and other products were enough to make me forget my vegetarianism for a night.

We began with glasses of pinot nior and pinot gris, then had squash ravioli with spinach and crabmeat on finely sliced apples as starters, lamb with parsnips and cobia with chickpeas as entrees, and apples with oatmeal crust and chocolate bread pudding with caramel as dessert. Yum, yum.

The space used to be a speakeasy, but it's been revamped with exposed brick, soft brown banquettes, and copper-toned mirrors. Nice enough to ease digestion, yet no so distracting as to take away from the food. While the food was delicious, it was my company that really made my meal.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Morgan Library & Museum


Housed in the Morgan family’s former abode, the Morgan Library & Museum is worth the trip if only to see how the other half once lived. The house itself has been converted into a three-story museum—currently showing European drawings, illustrations by famed “New Yorker”–artist Saul Steinberg (that’s his most famous cover at left), and Victorian-era manuscripts and first editions (lots of stuff by Dickens and Collins)—but the library remains much as it was in Pierpont Morgan’s nineteenth-century day.

It comprises hundreds of square feet across a hallway and two rooms, a traditional sitting room and a library with four tiers of bookcases encircling the room, right up to the very high ceiling. Charles McKim of the McKim, Mead, and White architectural firm designed the library to resemble an Italian Renaissance palazzo. On display when we visited was a Guttenberg Bible (one of three owned by the library), as well as copies of books once opened by Napoleon and Schopenhauer. (How do we know who once owned the books? Because the previous owners’ names were stamped on the books’ leather bindings.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

10 Yeni Kurus

This afternoon, in order to avoid certain snow- and slush-clogged intersections, I walked home along different streets. I was rewarded for my choices not only by keeping my boots dry but also by spying a shiny silver 10 yeni kurus, a Turkish coin from 2006, just lying on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Neil deGrasse Tyson


Who knew astrophysics could be funny? Not me—not until last night, anyway, a fact I discovered during a talk given by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the sexiest astrophysicist alive, according to "People," at the American Museum of Natural History. He spoke extemporaneously—no notes— on themes taken from essays in his book "Death by Black Hole," including why intelligent design should be taught as a philosophy of ignorance, why humans might not be the smartest things out there, and why the universe is trying to kill us.

As Tyson pointed out, 99.9% of all species are now extinct, so odds aren’t in our favor. We should disavow ourselves of the notion of the universe as a warm, friendly place that cares about our theories and scientific laws. It isn’t, and it doesn’t.

If given the choice, Tyson said, he’d love to die inside a black hole, because “it would be sooooooo coooool,” punctuating this comment with a swivel of his hips (he used to be a dance champion, according to his Wikipedia entry). In a black hole, he explained, you’d be killed by a process known as “spaghettifacation,” in which objects are stretched until they split, then stretched and split again and again.

Sadly, he wasn’t wearing one of his trademarked astro-themed vests last night, but he still rocked the audience’s world (every pun intended).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Clay Pot

We don't often go to Brooklyn, so our Saturday adventure in the borough next door was extra-special. First, pizza at Grimaldi's (we went early and beat the line). Then a walk through Brooklyn Heights into North Flatbush and down Seventh, where we stopped at this cute store in Park Slope--and bought our wedding rings.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Red-Tailed Hawk in Central Park


On Saturday, walking through Central Park on our way back from seeing the Kiki Smith exhibit at the Whitney, we spied a red-tailed hawk. We’d been lucky enough to see hawks before—in Washington State, Idaho, and Montana—but never smack in the center of New York City. But there it was, at around 3 pm, perched in a tree and plucking feathers out of its lunch, a little south of the Still Hunt statue.

Was it Pale Male? His partner, Lola? His son, Jr.? Who knows? It was, most definitely, spectacular.

Photo: © 1997-2006 The Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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