Summer walk in Central Park

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AA note from Pinay New Yorker: There are times when I want to write a post in a very detailed manner that it ends up languishing in my drafts folder for ages. There are times when they end up like this one, forgotten. Many months after that walk in my Central Park, I found this and just realized I never published it. Now well into winter, I have finally decided that I will hit the publish button finished or not. It’s my own ode to the summer of the pandemic here in New York City. (12.30.20)

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A couple of weeks ago when I braved returning to the city, I had the chance to do my daily walk in Central Park. This is a much delayed post, but before the summer is totally over, I wanted to share my walk around this favorite part of New York.

One of the things I have always tried to aim to accomplish in any given year is to visit Central Park all four seasons. I’m starting a bit late this time, having skipped spring, but I had the chance to explore and visit some of my favorite spots a couple of Saturdays ago. This isn’t exactly this previous weekend, but for this summer, this is my Central Park trek.

Central Park is a big patch of green in Manhattan that spans acres of land. I have yet to reach the upper fringes of the park, but have gone enough times to have my personal favorites. One place I hope to visit with Angelo one of these days is The Gill where he used to play among the rocks. Maybe one day one he is up for a picnic lunch and things are not as different as they are now.

For this particular day in the park, I had my goals set modestly to walk towards the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. It’s deep enough into the park to be not that easily accessible from the outer perimeter, but close enough that you can go back the same way you came in from 59th street.

I chose it not only for its beauty and serenity, because it’s one of the more iconic spots here. I have beheld it several times before, and I knew from which vantage point to best take the pictures. In all honesty, the best time to visit the park is in the early fall when the leaves change colors, but the trees have not shed its leaves to prepare for winter.

I was ready with my mask, my disposable gloves in the pocket of my leggings, and a small pocket sanitizer tucked in the other pocket. The things you have to bring now that we are all social distancing and trying to be careful.

There were a lot of people in the park, but not quite as many as there used to be on a weekend. Even with the open space, I still try to avoid areas where there is just too big a mass of people breathing into the air that I might eventually breathe. So I walk in the opposite lane or detour six feet away from people.

Central Park Summer 2020
Gapstow Bridge

I always prefer to enter the park from the 59th streets perimeter where the Gapstow Bridge of Home Alone fame can be found. (The pond was dry as the setting was winter in the movie.). If you are ever in New York City and can only spare a few hours in Central Park, this is one of the best places to go to for pictures and to get a taste of our backyard here in the city. The pond itself offers several photo opportunities around it, and there are ducks and sometimes unusual birds that take a dip in the water, or who fly around the lush flora and fauna. The bridge itself is not very long but provides a view of the skyscrapers surrounding this side of the park, and sunsets and the evening lights provide a gorgeous reflection off the water if you are lucky enough to catch it.

Central Park Summer 2020

Looking Up

One thing I like about this part of the park is that it provides such a picture perfect view of the concrete jungle that Manhattan is, with the greenery of Central Park in the foreground. Depending on where you’re standing and what time of the day it is, sometimes you can get lucky and see a mirror reflection of the buildings around in the water in this pond. Not today for me.

If you are ever pressed for time and don’t have the leisure to go in deeper into the park, this iconic spot is representative of the beauty of Manhattan’s backyard.

This wasn’t a random walk. I knew where I wanted to head to. While I have another part of the park that is special to Angelo and I a little further on, my personal favorite part of this expanse is actually the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain seen below.

Central Park Summer 2020

It entails a bit of a walk from 59th street, but is a focal point of the lake that borders it, and will take you through another favorite portion here called The Mall. It is a stretch of walk bordered by elms on both sides, fenced in to help preserve its beauty. The benches that line the entire stretch of this wide walkway are an interesting bunch of names and dedications. One time, I actually found Jim Henson’s bench.

Central Park Summer 2020

When dusk sets in, the lamp posts on both sides are lit and a soft glow descends upon the corridor. You will find musicians and artists dotting the whole area. A staple of this particular patch is Jazz musician Ralph U. Williams, who has been there forever since I first walked this part of the park two decades ago. He is a fixture in the park through all four seasons, filling the air with his music . You can catch him on any given day, and enjoy his park concerts from the benches lining both sides of the mall. If you hear the smooth notes of a sax, it’s him. (I am trying to upload a 3-minute video of his performance which I shot while seated across the way from where he was playing. Rather than wait for that, though, I would like to see this post finally published.)

I found myself walking in circles the day I decided to do my 10,000 steps in Central Park. I actually ended up doing almost double that, but for all the extra steps and exhaustion, it was well worth exploring one of my favorite parts of New York City.

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It’s the penultimate day to the New Year, and I have double these pictures to share of that one day that I was able to roam Central Park freely — even if donning the required mask. I haven’t gone in the fall nor yet, this winter. I have always tried to make one year where I can visit all four seasons. Maybe 2021 is the magic year. For now, I write with the memories of this day I took to explore and just bask in the beauty of this huge patch of green in the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. In two days, it will be 2021, and if I can visit in the next couple of weeks, that makes for the first of the four seasons. Central Park will be there, waiting.

Central Park and My Little Guy

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

I had vowed to come back this year to Central Park to document the scenes of fall.  I was here around this time last year, exploring its pathways and hidden gems — also with my little guy — one time Alan had friends in town.  I hate that I don’t get to visit as often, considering that its Midtown “edge” on 59th is actually near my “nest” in Manhattan.  Fifteen years a New Yorker and I have yet to explore beyond the 80s.  (Getting there.)

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

It wasn’t quite the scenery I had been lucky to capture in 2009, but it was as breathtaking nevertheless.  The leaves hadn’t quite all fallen, blanketing the grass with the gorgeous colors of fall.  Not yet.  So maybe I will come back next week when that would have happened.

The beautiful thing about autumn is how the colors can change from day to day and the landscape dramatically transforms overnight.  The color palette will be different in a day or two, and this whole scene will become a totally different canvas.

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

He loves exploring Central Park.  I used to keep him close by, holding his hand all the time.  These days, I have to keep up or I will get left behind.  Even in Manhattan, he looks around to check who can see when he cozies up to Mommy.  (My friends might see, he would say.)  He walks ahead of me now, sometimes way too far ahead, and I still worry.  (I had always admonished him to be within sight, and not too far ahead lest someone grab him and Mommy might end up a basket case..)
Central Park on Veteran's Day, Autumn 2014

The rock formations fascinate him no end, that’s why I wore my rugged boots to make sure that I could climb with him.  And climb we did!  (Three hours of this around the Park and by the time we reached the American Museum of Natural History by noon, I felt like I had done my workout for the day.)
centralparkvetsday05

I sometimes find myself telling him to stop growing up too fast — as if that would slow the growth and keep him from getting smarter and taller… It’s a mom’s plea to the universe to just keep him a child a little longer — so I can still keep him close and cuddle him like a baby on my lap.  The taller he gets, the farther he can go away — and grow away — and as a mom, I want to keep him the way he is just a little longer.  He’s already up to my nose at 10 years old.  In another year or so, he will be as tall if not taller than me.

centralparkvetsday01

His favorite spot is not any of the fountains or bridges or the numerous playgrounds that dot the expanse of the park.  It’s this rolling stream flowing through a natural jungle gym of rocks called The Gorge from which the Gill flows into the Ramble.

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He takes in everything with an insatiable curiosity — and no matter how many times we go and explore the park, it always has the appeal of a real adventure for him each and every time.
Central Park on Veteran's Day - Fall 2014
These days, it’s not as easy to make him pose for pictures anymore.  Remember when your little one would so readily strike a pose and smile when you whipped out your camera?  Even selfies take a little effort now — although the protests are not quite beyond mommy’s coaxing just yet.  I usually get a good shot or two out of every half dozen which isn’t so bad.  The threat of more pictures without a decent smile in the next one usually does it.  Soon, I will have to blackmail him or use motherly persuasion (translated: threats) to get him to agree to be photographed… (Selfie tip if using an iPhone – use your headset volume switch as a remote for your camera.  It does work!)

Central Park Veteran's Day - Fall 2014Lugging my DSLR-like camera, the blackberry and the iPhone, I still wish I had taken more pictures.  I just want to capture everything about him.. well, there’s always the next time my little guy and I go explore Central Park.

Dreaming of French Toast and other breakfast bits

For the last three months or so, I’ve been having a staple breakfast of egg whites (and the occasional whole egg on the weekends) and turkey sausages.  That meant giving up my weekend pancake treat, or any other breakfast other than that.  The good news is that I have lost more than 15 lbs which I can’t be happier about.  Luckily, I’m the type of person who can have the same thing day in and day out, like I used to have tapa everyday, or tilapia stuffed with veggies from the Jollyjeeps in Makati way back when.  There are times, though, when I crave something different.  A friend is boasting of making a mean french toast, and it’s been ages since I had that for breakfast.  I must say I make a good crunchy french toast which I picked up from one of our stays at a Marriott more than a decade ago, but it would  be nice to be treated to someone else making breakfast, though.  (One reason I love hotel stays, because I get to eat something I didn’t prepare!)

My mornings are a concert date with the Jesuit Music Ministry via JMM Covers on Youtube which is like my morning prayer ritual now.  (That’s something that has stuck with me after the brief stint with the Jesuits in law school ages ago..)  I used to stick to just three songs and a solemn recital of the Serenity Prayer, but my early morning wake up calls now give me room to play an actual playlist I put together on my GothamChick Youtube account aptly titled ‘Prayers‘.  They’re songs that are easy on the ears, and light on the heart.

Below is one of the gems I discovered, a jazzy and more soulful version of “Sa ‘Yo Lamang” which you won’t hear at mass but would love listening to on a beautiful Saturday morning like today.

I’m going to try and do an Art Journal Every Day update in the other blog if only I could get my blurring app to work (!).. that means a few minutes to actually continue a layout, and maybe paint more towards the end.  I’m trying to be more concise with my entries, but brevity has never been one of my stronger suits. (This blog being proof of that… Ha!)

Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of homework to worry about, and other than missing a performance at the Lincoln Center I was hoping to take Angelo to tomorrow, my weekend is looking good.  (I had vacillated about buying or not buying the tickets and of course it sold out before I made up my mind..)  I was hoping to take him to his favorite spot in Central Park, but weather permitting, we might actually do that on Tuesday when school’s out for Veteran’s Day.

Here’s to a good weekend with the sun shining brightly today..


 

 

Flowers & butterflies in Williamsburg

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I finally uploaded the pictures to my Flicker account and you are welcome to browse anytime as all the photos are public.  I haven’t quite had the time to organize them under an album yet but they are there for sharing.

I got lucky with most of these shots although for every one you see, I probably discarded or deleted another one or two.  This is what I don’t get from the iPhone — a real tight macro shot and crisp photos even when the subject is in motion.  I guess you can say my camera and I are back together again.  I’m trying to plan a trip to Central Park one of these days, or before the summer is over.  Unfortunately for me, I just discovered that the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History finished it’s run this June.

Flowers and Butterflies

There were so many butterflies that I manages some doubles — and there were quite a few.  The two shots here were taken at Busch Gardens (somewhere by France).

Flowers and Butterflies

The most striking, though, were the close ups of the beautiful butterflies.  The one above, though, was at the North Garden of the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.

I even spied one or two which had damaged wings but which flew about from flower to flower with no worries or cares.  A simple reminder that no matter how your wings may get clipped or damaged, life goes on.
Flowers and Butterflies

I hope you enjoyed my photos.  I am going to use these in my ongoing Thank You Postcard Project (which, by the way, has it’s own blog.  Click on the link and it’ll take you to “The Project” page.)  And of course, a couple will land on my Instagram feed.

Just trying to spread the love and the wonders of nature… More about our vacation in Williamsburg coming soon.

A Saturday afternoon walk down Central Park

I was in the city to meet with a friend of my sister who was visiting from Manila last Saturday.  This was our second meeting and I just wanted to catch up with her before she left, hand her a few things for my sister, and just have a different kind of Saturday lunch in the city.  Something for me.

I couldn’t believe how many people were walking up and down on a Saturday, and I guess I really shouldn’t be complaining because that means good business for my city.  We met, had lunch and said our goodbyes.  (And there will be another post about that.)  I deposited her over at Carnegie Hall on 57th and Seventh Avenue and went on my way.  I had already made up my mind that I would make my way to the bus stop through Central Park to snap up some pictures and to do a bit of some exercise for the day.  I wasn’t quite up to walking all the way to my favorite Bethesda Fountain a bit of a ways in from the 59th street edge of the park, but I thought it would be a short detour to head towards the bus stop on Madison and 57th.

Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I missed my little guy.  He always enjoys spending time here because it’s such a wide swathe of open space, and the rock formations are great for make-believe mountains and battles in his imagination.  He likes picking up twigs on the ground and using them as swords to fight off his imaginary foes.

Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I didn’t quite go as far as his favorite rock formation around The Ramble which I am sure we will visit again soon.

Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I always encourage friends visiting from other places to visit even just the outer fringe of Central Park to have a sense of its feel and flavor, but when you’re visiting all those other landmarks that dot the streets of this beautiful city, it ends up as an afterthought.

This is already my second visit this year, and I hope to visit more often in the coming weeks.  There is always so much going on and even just the changing of the colors and elements of nature surrounding the park can be so awe-inspiring.  I usually end up walking the trails of the park in the fall when the foliage is the prettiest and most breath-taking, but I want to see it in its full splendor in the spring.  (Right, Lou?)

You’d think that working on 42nd and Sixth Avenue and being relatively in the same area of Manhattan would make that a breeze — but it isn’t, and it does take some effort to make it happen.  My shots this grey but pleasant Saturday have inspired me to try harder at being in this corner of my city more often this year.

Walking towards the east, I approached the Pond (of Home Alone fame) from the west side of the Gapstow Bridge and caught some nice snapshots of the water reflecting the landscape around it.  I guess it’s because the sky was the way it was, and because I was viewing the water from where I was standing.  The reflection doesn’t come out as perfectly as the shot below from angles closer to the eastern side of the bridge.
Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

By the time I got to this side of the park, the clouds had started to gather up above. That, plus the flowers in bloom were beginning to droop down towards the ground instead of standing proud looking up at the sun like usual — a sign that it was about to rain.
Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I exited on to 59th street and Fifth Avenue, heading out via the Plaza Hotel side to make my way to 57th.  Always well worth the detour even on an afternoon I’m trying to get home as fast as I can… What’s your favorite part of Central Park?

 

So the rain finally stopped

.. just close to noon. I was ready to “brave” the building cafeteria which, mind you, is run by a reputable catering company. But like most denizens of the many floors entitled to use that cafeteria, I try to avoid going there as much as I could. The quality of the food against its price just doesn’t make the trip down two sets of elevators worth it. So I’d rather take the elevator going straight down to the ground floor and walk out.

Walk to a favorite deli, I did. I can almost “see” the sun taking a peek.

So I had to grab some postcards for a swap I need to catch up with and I headed to my favorite souvenir shop on the corner of 39th and 6th avenue, “Gifts on 6th”. This place is owned by a very friendly guy named “Mo” (which, I think is short for Mohammad) who always struck a conversation with me from the time he noticed I was Filipina. Every time I went there to buy a dollar’s worth of postcards, we’d chat. I grabbed $2 worth this time plus some magnets (again, for a swap) and he rang up my purchases.

Here are two more recent shots, one of which is actually a rendering of the Freedom Tower which, in reality, is still under construction.  The second is an updated Statue of Liberty postcard.

NY PC: One World Trade Center   NY PC: Statue of Liberty

I had been meaning to ask him to get some map postcards from his supplier for me (those selling for 10 for $1) and we finally discussed it and he told me he’ll wait for my sample. In the meantime, I got some extra postcards fresh from his yet unopened stash of my favorite Bethesda Fountain in Central Park which was awfully sweet of him.
NY PC: Central Park

Just goes to show that when you make nice, you get more.

If you are interested in receiving a postcard from me, please e-mail me at postcardmailbox at gmail.com.

Pecan Pie.. maybe next year

So Thanksgiving is officially over and we must now get busy preparing for the next big holiday — which, at least as far as my family and I are concerned happens to be Christmas. Funny that I should be writing about this exactly a month to the date.

My four-day weekend went rather well.  Quiet, eventful (meaning I accomplished a lot), but allow me to skip the “What I am Thankful” boiler plate post.  While I had done this in previous years, I am now taking on the mantra that we should be thankful all year round — and not more thankful on certain occasions than most.  Thanksgiving, after all, with all its trimmings, is a pagan holiday.  It is perhaps one of the only holiday besides the Fourth of July which is celebrated across all religions and races in this great country.  I do wish to declare that my next big project for Thanksgiving 2013 is to be able to bake Pecan Pie from scratch.  An absolute favorite of mine, I am trying to sparingly dive into a delicious full-sized pie delivered to me by FreshDirect today along with the rest of my groceries.  (Tip: Their Thanksgiving related goodies are all 50% off.  Grab your pie now!)

My signature leche flan gets better with each year, although I need to nail down the exact number of multipliers I need to do to produce enough llaneras of my famed flan.  I follow Nora Daza’s recipe with a slight twist, replacing the last cup of condensed milk with a cup of evaporated milk, and more lime zest than she recommends.  I actually went down to the city on Wednesday to drop off some with my former Millie, a Cuban by birth who swears by my flans as to-die-for.  Plus I had to get the usual haircut since my hair was literally getting all frumpy and out of control.

I also cooked the leche flan a while longer than usual to toast the top, and while I had hoped to make some calamansi ice cream (experimenting with some vanilla ice cream flavored by honey calamansi concentrate), I was too exhausted by the time I got on the bus for the trip home to stop by the grocery to pick up the pint of ice cream I had planned to get.  (Next time..)

I cooked through Thanksgiving preparing my usual Foolproof Standing Rib Roast courtesy of Paula Deen — never fails!  The great thing was that Angelo insisted and cooked the Apple Sausage stuffing I did from scratch which resulted in semi-cooked onions and a slight burn or two which my young chef took in stride.  Steamed veggies, potatoes au gratin (just the boxed variety) plus my macaroni salad and we were all set.  The wine was a perfect pairing to the beef and we sat down to have our feast.

The highlight of my weekend, though, was the trip into the city with my little guy on Black Friday.

He obliged me with my stop at Victoria’s Secret  on 34th street (free tote with qualifying purchase.. I couldn’t let THAT go by!) and then we walked to the Toys R’Us flagship store on Broadway and 44th in Times Square.  We spent a good hour or so there as he browsed the racks of action figures, and the unbelievable deals.   By the time we walked out, we were carrying a huge bag thanks to a two-box set at a total bargain price of $20 (and each box was priced regularly at between $30-40 each) — but my office was just a short walk away.  We deposited our things there and headed for our usual date at McDonald’s for lunch, but only because STK Out was closed.  I was looking forward to having Angelo sample their savory burger and absolutely heavenly truffle cheese fries — but that it was closed wasn’t a complete surprise considering half the city was on holiday.  (Well, the other half went to work like those working in the service industry like Alan.)

The Empire State BuildingFrom the office on 42nd, we walked to 36th, and then Angelo said, “It’s too early to go home.  I want to do something fun.”  We went back to Bryant Park 42nd and walked around to check out the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park.  There’s also the skating rink at Citi Pond (the ice skating rink running through to March 3 next year),  and while I knew he was itching to try and skate, I wasn’t.  I told him we’d have to wait for when his Dad was available to go with him because he wouldn’t be able to catch me if I fell.  My personal choice is to stay by the sidelines and watch and click away.  Besides, there was  a long line of would-be renters.  Entrance to the pond is free you’re okay if you have your own skates, or you can rent from the organizers.  There are also coaches available for those who want to learn (although I don’t know if coaching is for a fee), and a portion of the pond towards the center is cordoned off for younger and novice skaters.  The rink moves in a single direction and is policed by skate guards.  (What else?)

It was midday and I was really (for once) hoping he would tire of walking and tell me he wanted to go home.  Instead, he came up with the bright idea of heading out to Central Park.  “I haven’t been there for so long!” — and while I was afraid he’d give in to fatigue before we could head back to the bus stop to take the ride home, I thought the worst thing that could happen was I’d have to grab a cab.  So off we went.  Took the M7 up to the 80s and then walked.  And walked.  And walked.

My feet were ready to give in before the tyke’s, but I wasn’t about to be cowed.  He wanted to climb EVERY rock we came across, and it took some stern warnings to prevent him from walking up the taller and seemingly more steeply inclined rock formations — but I felt like I had to let him go and do it.   More so when we got to the Gill in the Ramble, a mini-forest in the forest that is Central Park.  We had been looking for the Conservatory Water hoping to rent a remote-controlled model sailboat, but alas I figured out on the way home we were on the wrong side of the park.  (I have always been more familiar with the attractions on the West Side than the far side.)

Where the stream flows through: Central Park, The Gill

We must’ve gone into three playgrounds in all as we went walking through the various areas, climbed atop a dozen rock formations, but we spent the longest time in this meandering rock formation with an actual flowing stream.  There were many children here when we arrived so I felt it was safe to let him go up.  Plus one of the Dads was actually going up and down — playing along with kids who were Angelo’s age as they went through their bit of forest in this concrete jungle.  And when everyone else had left, my boy begged me to stay a while longer, even trading it for the quest to find the rent-a-remote-controlled-model-sailboat portion of the park.  So I relented.

The view was magical.  They had stone benches at the foot of the stream as it joined the lake, and while I tried not to take my eyes off Angelo as he walked up and down the rocks holding a twig in one hand, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the view below.

The view from the Gill as the sun begins to set

By the time he agreed to leave, I was running after the last vestiges of light as the sun began to set.  The tricky thing being that the sun can run down and disappear on certain days, and there we were in the midst of a the Ramble.. The lights hadn’t turned on yet, but for all the boasting about the safety of NYC and its parks these days, there are still those one-off incidents when someone bumps into some bad luck, and I wasn’t about to risk that with an 8-year-old in tow.

We walked again and climbed more rocks and took more beautiful pictures.

Central Park as the sun was setting

The boy was exhausted but beaming, and still begging to stay.  Even when the sun was already in the horizon, ready to bid the city goodnight, and the lamp posts of Central Park turned on in unison.

My boy amazed by the rocks of Central Park

It was well worth all the walking and the time in the cold.  This on a day when I decided to forego the leggings under the jeans thinking I wasn’t going to stay outdoors long anyway.  Lesson learned: never brave the cold under-dressed.

I finally get to chalk off one of my “to-dos” on my list — Central Park, and I actually intend to go back, hopefully before the last hints of fall disappears into winter.  I am sure Angelo will insist on going with me.  There aren’t many opportunities to do this — but I have promised to bring him back to Central Park in the spring.

It was a most heartwarming date with my little guy.  He’s grown so much.  I could see the priceless smile on his face — I felt like a real rock star in his eyes.  I wanted to write there and then — to capture the moment in words.  But that would’ve distracted me from enjoying watching him figure out ways and means to go up and down the rocks.. and see him flash me a smile every now and then.  So I folded my arms and hugged myself, tucked my scarf as high up my neck as I could, and I didn’t let the cold get to me.

He napped on the bus ride from the park to my street Midtown.  By the time we got off to grab what we had left in the office, he was re-energized.  I got some treats from the shops in the park and he tried some Kettle Corn NYC, then we hopped on the bus home.  I hugged him close to me as he dozed off again.. smiling.

It was, indeed, a happy, happy Thanksgiving.

Basking in the glow of Autumn

fallI finally had the good sense to take out the camera before I reached this curb in our community where this majestic tree becomes visible.  On a day-to-day walk, I end up rushing past it as I walk to the bus stop.  Today, I deliberately took out my camera and had it on the ready a good 50 paces away, so that when I found a good spot, all I had to do was stop, adjust the cam, and shoot.  It’s not quite as good as I had hoped it would be and I guess it’s the fact that my camera is too intelligent for me — there seems to be an adjustment I need to make to stop it from trying too hard to focus.  (Which usually ends up with worse..)

The hurried shot doesn’t quite do justice to what I want to bring out, but it’s one of the better pictures I’ve taken in the last couple of days.  (Could it be that my not stopping fully to take the pictures is affecting the frame?  HAHA!)

As I walked to the bus stop finally, I thought about how I’ve been wanting to walk around and take pictures of the marvelous colors of fall.  Too busy, too cold, no time.  Well, the weather has improved quite a bit but I’m nowhere near the gorgeous colors of fire.

My current header picture is a photo taken in Central Park in the Fall of 2009.  I would love to walk down to Central Park one of these days on the ready with extra batteries and memory cards, a ziploc to put some leaves in and just spend a day enjoying my home city.   I’ve planned time and again in previous years but have never really gotten the chance to.

Another thing I would love to be able to do is photograph the fabulous display windows of the big stores here in New York during the holidays  which make a big deal of unveiling their storefront facades.  There was a time I had taken photos of Bergdorf Goodman in 2007, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany’s in full holiday regalia which was indeed a feast for the eyes.  (Amateur photographer tip: Best taken at night when the storefront glass won’t show a reflection of the scene outside the store — like you clicking away — plus the display lighting can do wonders to bring out the desired effect that the display was meant to evoke.)

I just looked at my banked vacation days and I stand to lose a week at least if I don’t take any substantial vacation in the next couple of days.  As it so happens, Christmas and New Year fall on a Tuesday, and my company has so generously allowed us the eve of both holidays as an office closing.  So that means the holidays will actually eat up on 3 of my vacation days.

We were actually mulling about a trip back home (again) but it’s a little too late in the year to be still planning and not booking it yet.  The fares during the dates we can go are astronomically high.  Our biggest consideration is that Angelo is now in third grade and can no longer afford to be away for an extended period given that they start state testing this year.  (Audible sigh.)  It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think it’s happening.  The sad thing is I have the time to give.

I will take the vacation days — probably a day here and there.  And I might yet get to go to Central Park this year just to photograph the leaves and the trees and all of Autumn after all.

Shifting Gears and Friday

I’ve been trying to pick up with my “me” stuff again, from my art journaling, snail mail writing, reading, to my crafts.  (I can’t believe I haven’t touched my tools since I got back from Manila, and I need to seriously get moving with the hybrid scrapbooking to make more cards. )

So I’ve been busy working on my first Art Journal entry for the year — teaser provided to my left — and I think with this 50% done, I can proceed to my next pieces before the weekend is out.  This is actually a background piece I had done long ago  (sometime third quarter 2011) which got tucked away with two other spreads.  One, I had actually decided to totally discard (topic/subject matter was no longer relevant to me), and the other, I’ll work with one of these days.  I might scale back yet again to smaller pieces, or maybe work on sections.  The thing with sections is the flow of the work is not consistent.  Or maybe I’ll just see where it goes.  I’m thinking words. Or I might yet do something ambitious and attempt a scroll (!) one of these days.  (Ambitious!)

I was looking out the window 41 storeys above Bryant Park the other day and I vowed to myself I will make regular trips to Central Park this year to document the changing of the seasons.  I haven’t been there in ages!  Winter has been rather fickle-minded this year — with spring seeming to rear it’s head in for a peek one moment, and then winter coming back with a vengeance the next.

Why do I take on so many projects when there are only so many hours in a day?  I don’t pretend to do them all at the same time.  I find pockets of vacant periods in my day and do something I like for a change.  It helps me get back in touch with “me”, and in turn helps me to tune in to my world as I know it now with better clarity.  (Like it helps me decide what’s for dinner faster than when I find myself torn between this and that dish.)

I love weekends because I look forward to Friday nights.  It’s a special time for me to just be me and do things that mean something to me.  I don’t go anywhere special — I stay home.  I pick the things that I fancy at that particular Friday night and zoom in on that for the rest of the evening.  I am able to savor watching my favorite shows on TV without anyone hijacking the remote and then stay up to the wee hours of the morning just relaxing.  If I’m lucky, I even catch my bestfriend, Fe, online.  (Such a treat!)

My Friday started a little late today — midnight.  Here I am returning to this unfinished blogpost trying to pick up from where I left off.

My heart, though, is somewhere in mid-air.  I haven’t quite decided what I’m doing tonight, and my “night” is halfway through.

Do you ever have one of those conversations about a subject matter that drifts off to another totally unrelated topic which somehow gets injected into the flow of words — you say something — the person you’re talking to reacts, and while the reaction was innocent, you catch something that makes you stop and think, “hmmmm.”  There was a pause somewhere there, then a change of topics and it makes you wonder what caused the sudden shift in gears.  You try not to think about it because it was off topic — but the unease lingers.  “Hmmmmm…” you say again.

I’m just trying to intellectualize things too much like my friend, perhaps.  Then it occurs to me that my innocent remark, said half jokingly, might have awakened a panic reaction that I had not anticipated.  (“Hmmmmmm” again..and now I feel silly.)

Fridays are supposed to be simple.  Fridays are supposed to be fun.  I’ve had some fun tonight.  Time to get the weekend going.  Let me get back to zentangling and my “hmmmm” moment might disappear into the darkness.

My weekend has begun officially with the midnight hour tolling here in the big apple.  I’m listening to this rare rendition of “Can We Still Be Friends” by the great Todd Rundgren and Darryl Hall which I recently discovered where else — on YouTube.  Been listening to it over and over again for the last half hour.  Used to be my song for a long-time ago ex boyfriend who, I  believe, to this day, can’t quite seem to get this song’s message and why it was my song for him.  Alas, we’re no longer friends.

It’s worth a listen to, so let me leave you with this find: