Saturday, October 29, 2011

I have actually become one of "THEM"

I have been enjoying attending the New York Pops for over 20 years. When I started attending I was in my late 20's and Skitch Henderson was the amazing music director and conductor.  I loved Skitch

and the amazing history that he had lived and always shared with the audience. My favorite part was after the show started and latecomers would enter he would always speak to them "come on, come on we will wait for you".  One time when I had the opportunity to meet  Skitch- I  told him that we loved when he did that and he  replied that he was still nervous before each show and this helped to calm him before a show.  (He was probably already 80+ at that time). My friend "t" and I attended for many years when we were both living in the city. We slowly worked our way down from rear balcony, to front balcony eventually landing in a box on the side of the second tier. We were there for many years before we finally moved to box 30 seats 1&2 front row seats in the box dead center of the 2nd tier. While in our first box we met a lovely couple from CT.  We sat in the box next to a guy, his mom and his wife (known to us as "flippy hair"  - she always seemed disinterested and constantly "flipped" her hair back by flipping her head. After all these years I finally spoke to him and i am certain that he remembered when we sat in the box next door. "t" now lives and works in CT and has no interest in trucking into the city for a late friday night. For about the last 10 years my daughter mostly comes with me. It is our night out, sometimes a little shopping, a nice dinner and then the show.

This month's show had a guest conductorJack Everly who did a show of Irving Berlin. While I am very familiar with Irving Berlin, I had no idea how prolific a songwriter he actually was. He wrote over 800 songs including many that everyone knows including "God Bless America". I however was shocked  that I knew all but one of the songs- it made me think that I have really become "one of them" those older people that always knew every song that was played at every show. (it was a FABULOUS show - however). 

so sad....

 Curves- the gym, social community, spiritual healing center and so much more that I have been a member of for over 5 years  is closing its doors on Saturday October 29 in Westport. Sherry it's owner has tried every possible way she could to stay open but the landlord continued to raise rents -she struggled and did not want to raise membership fees too high to avoid losing members.
Over the years Sherry made Curves was so much more than a place to exercise. She had a meditation room, she incorporated Zumba into the workouts, had a book club, a refelxologist come weekly, a lending library, had many health related guest speakers including a yogi. She had a bra fitting clinic (because as many of us know- most women do not wear correctly fitted bras).
She has held group tag sales, and trunk shows for my merchandise, and my friends goodies
The purple interior was warm and welcoming and the amazing group of women with whom I worked out was fabulous. They helped with Bat Mitzvah planning, disciplining and supporting my children, where to shop for things, where to get assistance with things and overall support of health both physical and mental. It is sad  that this amazing group must be disbanded. We will all say that we will "get together" but everyone's life gets in the way and that will probably never happen.
A wonderful thank you to Sherry for her endless work in helping and supporting everyone. I wish you well and hope you resurface so we can all group together again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Design

I do not typically watch much TV. I tend to watch late at night when I am working (and everyone else is asleep). I DVR a handful of shows- some might be expected- Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives... But one of my true favorites is the follow up show to 9 By Design- Home by Novogratz. I love the amazing transformations that they do - always fun and funky. If I had the money I would hire them in a heartbeat. Since I can't, I love watching and seeing the fabulous artists and stores. Some of my favorites in recent weeks (although some may not have been from the show) are making wall paper from your favorite photographs - this can be really cool when you have a big space. Another thing they did that was something I have struggled with since I had kids is find a great way to display and preserve kids art work. They worked with Jane Leni and the results were phenomenal. She made them into framed collages of the kids' artwork miniaturized.

On another show they went shopping at what looks like an awesome store Mongo. I think the website doesn't convey the coolness of the store but I can't wait to go in real life.
One of the apartments the did they used the most awesome cluster of Shiny Silver orbs which I could not imagine looking good but they made a sensational focal point in the room.

Something that was not from the Novogratz's but was from (my favorite website) were from Faktura designs tables with NY or LA as the legs. Beautiful Mad3of beautiful metal snd glass (inseert picture)

Watching the Novogratz show has taught me -the person who admires creativity because I am unable to be creative- to see things differently. This morning I was in the city and walking on columbus ave and wandwered into a store that I previously would have walked past called "Olde Good Things"-a really funky antique store. They had these great light fixtures

  some awesome old ceiing tiles in interesting colors but my favorite thing was a pair of xylophones that they had standing upright which could have made an amazing entrance way. What an interesting use for a musical instrument.

Flavor paper (I am not sure if I saw this company on the show or not)is a great wallpaper supplier. I have lesarned from the show (and my friend "A" ) how impactful even one focal wall that either has wallpaper or is painted in a way that makes a bold statement. Flavor Paper has a wide assortment of papers that are handscreened or digitally printed. Great way to make a bold statement.

There is so much great design out there and I really enjoy seeing it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Knitting with what???

For those among us who knit we all consider ourselves fiber artists on some level. Part of the fun of knitting are the colors and textures. It is more fascinating to see what materials (other than traditional yarn) people choose to knit with.
Recently I found online a woman, Carol Milne who knits in glass. Who would have ever thought? When asked by Fiber Arts Magazine (where I saw this) she said the following: So why do I feel compelled to knit in glass? Knitted goods exude comfort: soft, cozy, intimate, and heartwarming. Once they are in glass, the result loses most of the qualities we associate with knit- ting and becomes something else entire- ly. Where we once noticed the surface and feel of the material, our emphasis now shifts to the structure of the material itself. We notice the twisting interconnection be- tween the stitches, the deepening of color where the stitches overlap, and the spaces between the stitches. Where it was once a flexible fabric able to mold to our bodies, it is now rigid and fragile. It is nice to look at but totally impractical to wear.
These are beautiful objects, but they are also metaphors. They speak to the fra- gility of life and to the tendency to judge based on appearance versus practicality.
Perhaps most importantly, I see my knitted work as a metaphor for social structure. Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own but deceptively strong when bound together. You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart. And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together. The connections are what keep it intact, bringing strength and integrity to the whole. 

At the New York Gift Fair I saw a booth that had handbags and home accessories knit and crocheted of rubber.  Loved this idea and would like to try my own creation but have no idea how to find the rubber. 

At crafts on columbus I met a woman who knits with metal. This is much more common. ( I am sorry I do not have her contact info because her work was stunning) She may be at the next Crafts on Columbus the weekend of October 15 and 16. I have a friend "R" who teaches classes on making beautiful knitted beaded bracelets.

Other interesting knitted jewelry I found  online 

Then of course there is felting.(knitting with wool and then putting it through a heat process which binds it together. This is now popular in clothing, bags and even household items.

So next time when you are thinking of knitting - know that yarn and wool are not the only materials you can knit with and explore some other options.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Creativity for good.....

Recently I recieved and email from a friend about a new business that her son was involved in. This is a pretty remakable family where all the kids are very creative and always involved in interesting activities so this new venture comes as no surprise. They have stared a new company called Litographs ( make sure not to let spell check correct to litHograhs). These are posters made from the words of books that are formed into designs relating to the story.
In addition to the original set they have offered, they are now offering customizable prints (you pick the book- from thousands of choices in the public domain) and you submit the picture - then they create the poster.

Now, In honor of Steve Jobs they have introduced an Apple poster which has the famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech as well as much of his introduction to iPhone from Macworld 2007 as the verbage and Jonathan Mak's beautiful design of the apple and where the bite is-you see Steve Jobs.  100% of all purchases of this image will be donated to pancreatic cancer research. What a wonderful way to honor Apple and Steve Jobs while helping find a cure for pancreatic cancer.

These prints are truly a great gift for graduates, holiday, teacher gifts and more. Please check out the site and share it with all your friends and family.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the most sacred day of the year for the Jewish people. Known as the day of Atonement - it is a day of reflection. To think of all the ways that you may have behaved badly in the year that has passed and how you can make the upcoming year better. It is a holiday like most Jewish Holidays that is filled with music and prayer. The music for Yom Kippur is exceptionally beautiful. At  Temple Emanuel which was my Temple growing up (my great grandfather was a Rabbi there) and where I spent over 40 Yom Kippurs, they have an amazing choir and organist. Sitting through the Kol Nidre is like attending a concert. I always feel as though I should clap at the end. The actual music is sooooo beautiful, thought provoking and very moving. At my current Temple - Temple Israel there is a cellist who plays and it is amazing. At Temple Emanuel there is a soloist during the Avinu Malkanu who reaches the most beautiful note - it truly is awe inspiring.

This has become a very difficult holiday for me. When we were very young we attended the Family Service but as I got older I went with my grandmother every year to Kol Nidre and when she could no longer go my father and I went together. The afternoon, Yizkor and Neilah services were always attended only by my Father and Grandmother as the Yizkor service was for mourning. My father who lost his entire family to the Nazis  and my grandmother who mourned her father the Rabbi her whole life would go to this  special service. Since losing my grandmother in 2001 and my father in 2006 I always attend the afternoon services. I feel closer to them during it. I am however always very emotional and come home very drained.
I do however always feel much more whole and refreshed on some level from the experience. I am ready to do better in the following year and move forward.

The Jewish people have two rituals that I think are so much better than many other religions (in my opinion). One is Yom Kippur- we have the opportunity to repent to G-D for all of our wrongdoings over the past year and really reflect on them  and think about how we can do better in the following year- be kinder, more caring, more helpful, more respectful. Taking one day to do this makes sense to me. You do not have to ask forgiveness daily or weekly for each little sin but can just contemplate, ask forgiveness and move forward.

Regarding death, I think the Jewish people have this right as well. The dead are buried immediately but rather than have the family come home to an empty house where sadness and loneliness prevail they sit Shiva. Shiva is a period of mourning for 7 days where friends and family join the mourners and are there to support them. Having family and friends comforts the bereaved and can almost "distract" them form the huge weight of their loss. At the end of seven days while the loss is still horrific the pain has lessened somewhat and it is a little easier to go on.

As I reflect on Yom Kippur and my own sadness I am so happy to be part of the amazing community to which I belong. I find my Temple really is a home and a place i am comfortable going. I am happy to have a large community of friends and acquaintances through our Temple and love the feeling of togetherness on Yom Kippur afternoon as well as at Friday Night Services.

La Shana Tovah.

My Idols

This has been a very sad year for my idols. I do not have many but tragedy has struck in several camps. Steve Jobs, a man who I consider more impactful than JFK or Martin Luther King has left us. His genius, vision and passion have been extinguished. While I have great hope that the people left behind at Apple will be able to put forth new fabulous products that continue to be designed better than anyone elses, packaged better than anyone elses and offer function that is creative and superior I sense that the spark and passion are gone.
I felt this was evident in the big Apple event that occurred the day before their leader's death (which I believe he hung on to see and then let go). It has been documented that many people can hang on for very specific events (weddings, holidays etc) and I think this was the case here.

As I sit and I sit and write this at Starbucks Steve Jobs is all around, Many people are on iphones and I pads, the music playing can be identified on an iphone due to a relationship between starbucks and apple. When I buy my coffee I get a free song to download to itunes.
He has changed so much about our lives, how we listen to music, where we listen to music. Imagine we can have our entire music library with us all the time if we want. That is a far different cry from when I went to college or moved into my apartment with dozens of very heavy milk crates filled with record albums. How we buy music, watch tv shows  and movies, connect with each other, access the world at our fingertips any where we are at any time. We do it all on the most beautifully designed products that you can't help but desire them and feel great about owning them.

In my own life as the daughter of the electronics buyer at Bloomingdale's I have grown up seeing new innovation. I remember when my father brought home the first Texas Instruments calculator. Watched his department transform from radios and TV's (mostly console TV's) and records to cassettes, boom boxes, walkmen and more. So I always love being on the cutting edge, and Steve liked that too. Never one to rest on his laurels he was always working on the "one more thing" and he pretty much always delivered.

In my personal life the magical iPad has been truly magical. It has helped my little guy read and work on his motor skills (he has a learning disability) and has also helped my almost 80 year old mom,who has dementia, (we have to take it away from her so she will eat her meals) but playing all the word games and reading books on it is keeping her mind working and she does not seem to be losing any ground.

It never fails to amaze me that in my knitting group of approx 20 knitters of ranging ages (probably 35 and up) every member has either an iPad or iPhone. We are connected not only at our get togethers but we have a ravelry group,  a Facebook page, and many games of words with friends and hanging with friends. Apple is frequently discussed at knit night almost as much as knitting.

I hope that Apple will be able to maintain its visons minus it's visionary leader. Steve's death is devastating to so many but his life has made everything better for so many.

May he look down always and see how wonderfully he has changed so many lives and smile at all his accomplishments.

Then there is Clarence Clemons....I have been a huge Bruce fan since 1975 when Born to Run came out. The pictures here are pictures that I took at MSG when my dad mail ordered me front row seats to the Darkness  tour. My friend Peter was head of security and he let me bring in my camera. I have probably seen Bruce Springsteen and the E street Band over 50 times. Seeing them made everything good. Some of my very happiest times were at those shows- Big, Small, close , far they were always amazing. A big part was due to the "BIG MAN" Clarence Clemons. He could play that sax like no other. His playful personality with Bruce really added to every show. I was devastated when Clarence passed away in June of this year. The band can NEVR be the same (if they even ever play again). 
I remember in college going down to the shore to Clarences Club- Big Man's West in Red Bank. We saw Clarence there and it was there that I met Bruce for the first time.
Those were great times. While i do hope Bruce and the band will tour again it can never be what it was and every time I hear a sax for the rest of my life I will always think of  Clarence.

Saturday in NY becomes Saturday Night in NY

A couple of weeks ago a good friend was in NY visiting her daughter, A Freshman at NYU. This friend is someone that I worked with and the mentor that let em understand that I COULD work and be a mother at the same time. She is funny, interesting and one of the best people I have ever travelled with. No stone is ever left unturned. She knows the best places to stay, eat and the best things to do.  Meeting her after the big ones class was no exception. Her daughter and mine are just a few years apart. Actually on a vacation that we took together when the big one was 6 months old and her daughter was 3 - her daughter actually "watched" the big one while we had dinner. Over the years they have spent time together on various trips out west to see them and back east when they came to see us.

On this recent trip we planned to meet after the big ones class in NYC. We went down and met them where she was staying- a wildly cool hotel called  The James in Soho.

The artwork here was actually on a shade that allowed the bathroom
behind it to be made private.Behind the shade was a full glass wall.

My favorite wall- made of computer keys

The sky lobby had the cooled light fixtures- some of which were knitted

We met them at the rooftop bar and pool area and enjoyed looking at the great views over to Jersey and much of the city. Running late for our dinner reservation we quickly toured her room as they freshened up and ran downstairs to catch a cab. This was not proving easy but when a limo came by my friend worked her magic and got him to take us to the restaurant for $20 (not much more than a cab would have cost). Upon our arrival  at MPD - a wonderful Bobby Flay restaurant, we were told that we were not late but actually early but they were able to seat us. As the sun set the views were spectacular 

The food was great and our server Justen was wonderful. During the evening a couple sat down at the table next to us. He was handsome and dressed nicely, she was really "dolled up". It truly appeared to be perhaps even a first date. My friend commented that he should not miss the chance to ask her to marry him because if not she would be taken by someone else. After pointing this out to us and the waiter she finally told the gentleman at the table. He replied that they had been married 18 years and had 4 children. They had travelled from mid New Jersey for their "date night". It is so nice to know that some people  can look like they are on a first date even after 18 years of marriage. After a truly sublime dinner we crossed the street and took a walk on the high line. We gazed across the river, listened to a sax player, passed by the Standard hotel, and enjoyed the relaxing seating that was there.

All in all it was a fabulous evening. We thank our friends for making it such and can't wait to do it again.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Saturdays- in NY .......

The big one is taking a writing class in NYC on Saturday mornings. This has proven to be very interesting fodder for my blog.
The first week that we took public transportation we chose to go up the westside. There on the bus we met (well we did nit actually meet- we viewed the following encounter) Dee and Esther. Both had foot problems so  when Dee entered the bus Esther (who was already on the bus) commiserated about the foot issues. They began talking by exchanging names and Esther explained all about Queenn Esther's role in Judaism. As Esther departed the bus the two women, strangers now friends, agreed to meet at Dees church the next morning.
After dropping off the  big one- I went to hang out at Barnes and Noble. I grabbed some coffee in the cafe and started leafing through some magazines. I immediately noticed 2 tables near me where there were students and teachers learning languages and collaborating in projects using these languages. I was much more fascinated by the woman who sat down 2 tables away. An older woman - but very cool, was joined shortly by a young man and an asian woman. He introduced the 2 women to each other. At first I thought this might be her son but B&N is an odd place to introduce your mom to your girlfriend. It came to be that she was a type of wedding planner (maybe more) and was walking them through planning this wedding. (It appeared to have some issues being that they came from different backgrounds) yet she walked them through many plans. After about an hour they seemed to have some good ideas on how to proceed.
There was also a dad there with his young kids who appeared to be fraternal twins, watching the interaction was fascinating. The little girl  appeared to be cranky and moody while the little boy laughed it all off. Watching the dad work through all this was wonderful.
Another couple sat down and discussed among other things their upcoming trip to India. While that was happening I checked my Facebook and a friend had posted that they had a great business and personal concierge in India. I almost mentioned it to the couple but the big one was with me at this point and would have died from embarrassment.
Graduation gift
The last 2 weekends were so cool because as we got off the bus, much to my pleasure I noticed that Crafts on Columbus was taking place- How lucky was I.  The first weekend the big one had her whole 2 hour class and had not finished the 4 block walk yet. There were fabulous vendors there. The first vendor that we both loved was Jewels by Atlantis there we picked out some holiday gifts as well as a graduation gift for a friend who had just started NYU that we were meeting for dinner that evening.

I also found Kathleen of KEM designs, a woman whose work I had been intrigued with years before on CapeCod. I had seen it at the end of a weekend  and short on $ I just passed it up. I was happy to find her at the fair. She creates jewelry from beach stones.
Made from Optical lens
Another very unique vendor was Laurie from Olefson Designs. She makes Jewelry from recycled items. I liked a lot of it but my favorite were her pendants made from old optical lenses like the eye doctor uses to test your vision.

There were so many wonderful merchants you can see why 4 blocks took 2 hours....
I almost walked right by Erin The Hair Jeweler. She has the most unique, comfortable, easy to use (once you see her do it) and beautiful hair clips. You need to see her website to see how they work and some of her many, many designs. I brought them into Sunday AM Knitting and everyone loved them. Here is "R" demonstrating one.
 Being a knitter and appreciating texture I was totally blown away when I came upon Paz. She has the most amazing jewelry designed from fine lace. She takes it and creates designs, colors them and creates exquisite designs- just soooooo creative. While her work is not inexpensive, the lace itself is imported from countries like Austria and then other than designing the pieces- I think it is painstaking work to cut the lace perfectly to make this gorgeous jewelry.

I am really enjoying my Saturdays in the city- Maybe even more than the big one enjoys the writing class...

Women are from Venus why aren't Men?

The famous book title Men are from mars and Women are from Venus kind of says it all.  While I have never actually read (or listened to) this book I am constantly amazed about how differently the 2 sexes communicate. This was magnified on a recent Thursday evening at "knitting night". We had actually gotten to the evening early as there was a guest jeweler The Queens Beads.  She set up her beautiful (yet very affordable) jewels and as the women arrived it became like a fashion show. I bought 3 beautiful items (a pair of earrings, a laborite necklace and a  very sparkly necklace. 

"C" from the Queens Beads was known by an employee of the store but none of the knitters. By the end of the evening you would think she had been part of the Thursday night knitting group for years.  Everyone was bonding on zillions of levels ranging from the farmers market to granola bars to favorite patterns to schools to kids and it just kept on almost like a free association. One thing lead to another and we came to find out that our resident granola maker may have some competition from "C" at the Queens Beads. We are setting up a bake-off so we can all decide.  I had to sneak out early for the little guys back to school night and had my hand on the door for at least 1/2 hour before I actually left (only to meet several members of the group after back to school night at our fall back location after the store closes- Barnes and Noble which we shut down at 10).

Why is it that a group of mostly unconnected women can bond over almost anything and it can be very personal while not being judgmental. In my experience men tend to relate on a much less personal level (unless managing your rotisserie team makes it personal). Their talk is frequently about business or sports rather than more deep things.

I remember when my now husband lived with a roommate all week and I would come spend the weekends there. On Saturday mornings his roommate and I would be up earlier and get a chance to speak and in 1 hour I knew all about the women in his life, what was going on at work and more. This was frequently much more than my husband knew from a whole week. Women just seem to connect on a more emotional and personal level.

Another instance was when years ago I went to a gym (not my regular gym) and was getting dressed. I had a book on the bench and a woman asked me about it. We got into a conversation about the author and we ended up walking out together. As we left it was pouring- as we were both heading to the subway she offered that I share her umbrella. A quick easy connection. I never saw her again but I am convinced that that encounter would not have occurred with the boys from Mars.

After writing this someone sent me the following article and I felt I needed to add it here.

I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just p at yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. So let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it's very good for our health.