Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stops along the way...

Fiore by Manolo Valdes

Since I have been back in the States, I try to head down to NYC as often as I can as it is only about three and a half hours south of Boston and I just love every moment I spend in the city that never sleeps.  New York never seems to have a dull moment.  During the day the building seem to show off, each making their own proud statement.   In the evenings, the buildings wink at each other and wink at you.  People are always out and about, some with their dogs in tow and coffee cup in hand.  It always makes me smile.  There is just so much to see and do.

This past weekend was even better than I had anticipated because I was going down to be a helpful aunt as well as do some stuff on my own.  I arrived on Friday evening and it was chilly.  I patiently waited on queue for a taxi and headed uptown to my brother’s apartment.  My mom was already babysitting their kids.  She waited up and we chatted over a vinito.

I was woken up by the sounds of giggling, screeching, and the pluff plom of feet at about 6:15am.  I stayed in bed as that is too early for me on a Saturday!  Suddenly at about 8:00 am, my nephew and niece are waking me up!  I hurriedly got dressed and went downstairs for some much needed coffee.

Soon they were off for their activities and my mom and I headed up to the New York Botanical Garden for the tail end of the exhibit of Monet’s Giverny that we had decided to see together when the exhibit had opened back in May!  Yes, it’s always better to leave things for the last minute than to not do them at all.

My mom and I strolled through the replica of Monet’s Giverny and it was amazing – so many colors, heights, scents.  Nature left us in awe.

We continued walking and decide to head to another section so we go outside and stumbled on two places with Monet lilies!  Apparently, Monet grew lilies that could withstand the European winter even if they were tropical. 

“I had this wonderful dress with all of these lilies and it always reminded me of Monet’s lilies.  Man, I wish I had saved it.”  Although I have heard about the dress several times, some stories just never get old.

After we walked through the beautiful exhibit and smelled some of the most heavenly and not so heavenly scents (we walked through the cacti part of the Botanical Garden and it smelled like dry earth).

As we make our way over to the Library where there was an exhibition of photos of Giverny, Monet in his garden, one of his pallets full of paint, and a few of Monet’s paintings, we walked through the Jane Watson Irwin garden.  Irwin is from my hometown and it always gets my mom excited when someone is from New Canaan and has a presence somewhere!

As we were walking along the marked paths, we were graced by all of these strikingly beautiful and enormous sculptures by Manolo Valdes, born in Valencia, Spain in 1942 that seemed to add to the lovely atmosphere, as they seemed to blend in with the natural environment at the garden.  

I shook my head in disbelief and felt so lucky!  What a lovely day!  Three in one at the Botanical Garden; mom, Monet and Valdes!

The sculptures are amazing.   They are of anonymous head with minimal features with a neck and around the head is an amazing halo of plants or insects.  They reminded me the fasteners worn at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal wedding. 

As we are about to arrive at the Library, we see the most amazing sculpture by Manolo yet.  It is this enormous head with butterflies all around it.  According to the article in the New York Times, Mr. Valdes was inspired by a man at Central Park who had monarch butterflies flying around his head.  I thought it was a female who perhaps had just walked out of the forest or had such an amazing day that her head was spinning.  It was also fitting because my 4 year old niece is obsessed with butterflies and it made me think of her.

We enter the Library and decide to take the stairs, all 63 of them.  I am still not sure why we did because we got to the top all sweaty but perhaps it was the aura of the whole experience at Botanical Garden that gave us so much energy.We enter the little room where the Monet paintings are displayed and I was timing how long it would take my mom to tell me another one of my favorite stories.  As she patiently waited for the crowd to disperse, she moved directly to one side of the painting and says,

“When I was at Skidmore, a bunch of us went to Boston. We went to the MFA and the Monet exhibit was there.  I was looking at a painting and a gentleman asked if I spoke French which I did back then.  He had known Monet and often watched him paint.  He was the one who said to look from an angle not straight on.”

I move next to her, “Can you see the difference?” she asked.  It really is amazing how a painting or a sculpture can change from one angle to the next, one mood to another.

So after we enjoyed the entire day, we head back down to New York. 

The next day, I took my niece to the American Girl store.  We arrived at the store at 9:00am, right when it opened.  As my niece hopped out of the taxi, she looked up at me with her little palms flaring and shaking in the air almost like it was Christmas day and says, “Are we going to get me a special doll?”

“Yes, E, we are going to get you an American Girl.” 

The moment was priceless and she pretty much had the store to herself.  When I got back to the apartment, we unpacked her doll and she was so happy.

When auntie duty was over, I went with Joanna to the Guggenheim where they have a Picasso: Black and White Exhibit.  I thought that the exhibit was very interesting but I loved being with my best friend more.  Here’s her blog on the exhibit.

After that we went for brunch, picked up my case at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s and we hopped into a taxi to head down to Penn Station.  BUMPER TO BUMPER traffic.  NOT MOVING, JUST BEEEEEEPing.  More beeping, not moving – nope, the taxi is not going anywhere but the meter keeps on speeding! 

“Do you know what is going on?” I ask the taxi driver.  Meanwhile, Joanna is being all Zen and telling me I need to imagine myself at the station and making my train.  Easier said than done for some!

“Traffic awful on Sundays.  I have been driving since 3 A.M. and this bad.  Very bad.  They parade down 5th Avenue. Not good. At least 45 minute to Penn Station. No good.”

I am still dumbfounded by the fact that since he had been driving around since 3 A.M. and it was 3:30 P.M. when I was in the cab and he seemed to know all about the parade, the traffic jams on the East side – why didn’t we go to the West Side highway? 

I told him he was giving me anxiety because he kept repeating, “No good. Bad traffic.”

“Can you change the ticket?” Joanna asks. 

I quickly assess the situation and check the Amtrak app.

“Oh, yeah, there’s a train at 6 and 7pm.”

I quickly call Amtrak and make the change.  Only First class left, whatever…it’s only once, right?!!

“All set, I am on the train at 6pm.  Could we go to Bloomies?”  I ask my dear friend.

“And have a vinito on the way!” Joanna replies. 

“Could you please stop the cab?  We’d like to get out.”

Joanna and me and the Lipstick Building (one of the many winking buildings of NYC!)

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