Monday, October 27, 2008

Some beautiful fall days

We have had some really lovely fall days so far. Yesterday, Sunday, was magnificent. It was cool but not cold--barely needed a sweater or jacket. The air was crisp, no wind, absolutely perfect. Jeff went for a short bike ride, while Mary took a very long walk in their neighborhood.

Here's a photo of a tree near our house. Its flaming leaves appear to be engulfing the evergreen that's growing right next to it. The close-up is of the tree's other side. Beautiful, right? We're not used to seeing the leaves change in the fall ... it's a real joy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celebrity sighting!

When Mary was walking near her office today, she saw Mandy Patinkin at 111th and Broadway. He is in NYC performing "The Tempest" on Broadway. Here's a link to a review, where the critic writes:

"Mandy Patinkin, an actor known for his landmark musical theater roles — as Che in 'Evita' and Georges Seurat in 'Sunday in the Park With George' — sings only a few bars in the Classic Stage Company’s new production of Shakespeare’s late romance. But with a voice of such saturated colors and an instinct for shaping melody, his verse-speaking has a naturally musical quality."

Mary really gained respect for him nearly 20 years ago, when he performed a beautiful duet with Madonna for the movie "Dick Tracy." The song was "What Can You Lose," by Stephen Sondheim. Here's a link to a completely unrelated video that has the song playing with it. Enjoy!

What can you lose?
Only the blues.
Why keep concealing everything you're feeling?
Say it to her, what can you lose?
Maybe it shows,
She's had clues, which she chose to ignore.
Maybe though she knows,
And just wants to go on as before.
As a friend, nothing more
So she closes the door.

Well, if she does
Those are the dues.
Once the words are spoken,
Something may be broken.
Still, you love her
What can you lose?

But what if she goes?
At least now, you have part of her.
What if she had to choose?

Leave it alone
Hold it all in.
Better a bone
Don't even begin.
With so much to win,
There's too much to lose.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nature's showing off

Yesterday, we rented a car and drove north a couple of hours to Woodstock, to see the transformation of the trees into a blazing fall light show. We weren't disappointed. Although the peak seems like it might still be a week or two away, there were still plenty of yellows, oranges and reds to light a fire. Here are a few snapshots from the day.

On the way back, we stopped for awhile at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, in Rhinebeck, NY at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. It was a really popular festival, as it turns out--lots and lots of people enjoying not only great food, but amazing vendors and demonstrations, like sheep shearing, wool spinning and angora rabbit shaving (!). And of course, there were plenty of sheep (and a few goats).

Mary bought a skein of delicious yarn with which she's going to make Jeff a scarf.

Our final stop on the way home was Campmor in Paramus, NJ, where we bought a few sporting goods items. Their prices are hard to

beat (although the service could be better ... seemed like the employees were being paid to gab with each other).

It was a nice, relaxing day. It's so convenient to be able to just rent a car from Zipcar--who covers insurance, gas and all tolls--and then leave it for the next person to use ... no muss, no fuss, no hassles. We still LOVE not having our own car and honestly can't imagine owning one ever again!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What are your ideas for healthcare?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Which candidate?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A night at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum is open late on Friday and Saturday evenings, so we decided to spend the evening there last night. We ate a light dinner in the Balcony Cafe and listened to some live classical music--a string trio and piano. It's very special to sit inside the beautiful space, with the incredibly high ceilings and gorgeous, glowing archways.

(Full disclosure: not our photographs!)

Since we had limited time, we focused our attention on the Impressionists and also enjoyed walking among the sculptures.

We learned something interesting about this stunning Van Gogh painting of roses--they used to be pink and have faded over time. If you look closely, you can still see remnants of the original color ... but imagine how truly lovely that shade must have been against the green.

The sunflowers pictured here are beyond beautiful. Neither of us could remember seeing this painting before. The textures and colors are so rich, and the close-up view gives you a new window into such a simple object.
Seeing all the Van Gogh paintings has made us want to see the exhibit of his work at The Museum of Modern Art, called "Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night."

We also enjoyed a series of paintings by Camille Pissarro, of Le Jardin des Tuileries during various times of the year. Pictured here is winter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jeff quoted in our local paper

Jeff made the lede of a story in the Riverdale Press this week: For bicycle commuters, rush hour can mean spending an hour getting a rush. (And if you click on that link, you'll see Jeff in a nice slideshow!)

Here is an excerpt:

There’s one stretch of Jeff Ballinger’s commute, between his Riverdale home and Columbia University, that always gets him: he’s on the West Side Greenway path, rounding a corner just south of the George Washington Bridge when suddenly the Manhattan skyline ripples out before him.

Coasting down the bike path just steps from the Hudson River he can see the Statue of Liberty and all the way to Staten Island, accompanied only by the hum of traffic on the bridge and the wind in his ears.

“Oh, yeah,” he thinks to himself every time. “This is why I ride.” Since he moved to Riverdale a year and a half ago, Mr. Ballinger has commuted to and from work on his bike nearly every day — though last year his wife talked him out of riding in December and January.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Celebrity sighting

Jeff and Mary went to see a movie this afternoon on the Upper West Side (around 84th and Broadway). Before the movie, Mary decided she needed some food, so we wandered up through a street fair.

And who should we see as we're crossing the street? No, not Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie (though they were in town promoting her new movie at the NY Film Festival).

No, it was Charlie Rangel, Congressional Rep. of NY's 15th District. Lots of people recognized him--some walked up and shook his hand. We shoulda taken his photo w/Jeff's cell phone camera ... but oh, well. Not quick enough! So this photo is his "official" one from his Web site. (He looks a lot older now, and thinner, too.)

Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has been in the news of late. He reportedly said he has been underpaying his taxes for several years. It's also been reported that he has been parking his unused car illegally in a congressional lot (basically using it as storage), and he apparently has been flouting the laws regarding rent-controlled apartments in the city.

It would be a shame if he were remembered only for those things. Reading through his Web site, we discovered he has done a lot of good while a congressman. He is currently serving his 19th--yes, 19th--term.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So the sky didn't fall this week

We're all still here! The sky didn't fall, the bottom didn't drop out, no other cliches occurred after the crazy Wall Street activity.

That's not to say people in this country aren't hurting because of the economy; they are, of course. The NY Times has run a lot of stories about regular folks struggling to stay afloat, as have many other publications (none of which Sarah Palin can name, apparently).

Let's please have sympathy for our friends and neighbors who are facing money troubles. Lend a helping hand if you can, and vote your conscience in November.