Manhattan Meanderings with My Old Friend

Log Cabin * Artist Unidentified * Silk, including Satin * Possibly New York State * 1880 - 1900  * 75 3/4  in x 64 in 
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alan Weinstein

I spent yesterday in Manhattan with one of my oldest friends. It is a friendship which has waxed and waned and endured. I like that so much. I like that he has known me forever, knows most of my secrets, knows when I am full of baloney and calls me on it. For some reason that I don't fully understand, we enjoy needling and annoying each other; but when times are tough and a friend is needed, I feel certain he will always be there for me. And when times are not tough, he generously shares the fun with me.

First stop: the American Folk Art Museum. It is The Year of the Quilt and there were three floors of glorious quilts to see. Heavenly.

Freedom * Jessie B. Telfair (1913–1986) Parrott, Georgia * Dated 1983 * Cotton with pencil * 74 in x 68 in * Gift of Judith Alexander in loving memory of her sister, Rebecca Alexander

Quilt Photos by Gavin Ashworth
Then to the East Village where we did a lot of walking. Spent a nice long time at the St. Mark's Bookshop. It's like going to a book store where a personal shopper has chosen hundreds of books that will interest me the most. Wonderful. The most gorgeous book I saw is called Beauty in Decay: The Art of Urban Exploration.   
From the book: "'Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.'  This is the unspoken rule of urban explorers, who sometimes risk their safety, police records, and even their lives to explore abandoned buildings, sewers and storm drains, transit tunnels, utility tunnels, high-security areas of inhabited buildings, and even catacombs such as those in Paris, Rome, Odessa, and Naples."  The book is a lush collection of photographs from urban exploration — or Urbex — around the world. Overgrown industrial complexes, disused lunatic asylums, abandoned palaces and forgotten monasteries are showcased, and paired with clear-sighted, poetic text.

I think I must add this book to my Christmas wish list.

More walking. We ventured into some shops that sell vintage clothing and interesting antiques.  Mostly expensive.

It was a rainy afternoon - the kind of afternoon that lends itself to sitting in a cafe and enjoying the day from inside a comfy space. We chose Vandaag, a new restaurant with a Northern European style.  The ambiance is definitely European and the service was fabulous. Our waiter was friendly, helpful, and very good looking. I hope he is waiting tables while he works on becoming a movie star. Talent scouts take heed: he's got IT.

Vandaag has an interesting menu which claims to be Dutch but seems more Scandinavian to me.  We tried several dishes. The one I liked best was hete bliksem - "hot lightning" - crisp fingerlings, bacon, apple, and stroop syrup. We also had drinks which seems de rigueur to me if you're going to sit inside, with a friend, on a rainy afternoon. The waiter referred to it, approvingly, as "day drinking" which made me feel like maybe it is not so common as I assume. Anyone who thinks they shouldn't drink in the afternoon is missing out on one of life's pleasures.

The highlight of our Vandaag visit was when Frank Bruni walked in, camera crew in tow.  He was making a segment about the bartender's special egg nog and we should look for it next Thursday, on the New York Times website.  It was fun watching the segment, especially hearing the bartender explain her recipe, which is quite a bit different from the traditional brew and sounds quite tasty.  While we watched the taping, our waiter treated us to a Stroopwafel, a thin waffle with a gooey filling - messy and good.  With our check came a tiny jellied fruit treat. I don't remember anything about it except that it was marvelous - a wee burst of heaven on my tongue. (Vandaag photo by Gloria Chung.)

Back to walking. We visited Obscura Antiques, a place I have enjoyed viewing on the web and wanted to see in person. Not nearly as wonderful as I had been expecting.  But I'm glad I've seen it.
More walking. More rain. Back to Grand Central. I was sorry to leave but also looking forward to home sweet home.

I do have slightly neurotic tendencies, like feeling a wee bit of claustrophobia on the train, and trying not to think about the horrible things that could happen - terrorist act, derailment, collision, etc. (Need I say that I don't fly?) Imagine my pleasure when the train suddenly stopped, in the middle of nowhere, all around us black as can be, and the engineer's voice explained that we were stopped because there were flames coming out of the engine. OMG. But I actually handled it quite well; I was too tired to get worked up about anything. Specialists were called to the scene and we eventually hobbled to the next, mercifully nearby station, where we were loaded onto another train. At yet another station, we were loaded onto buses and taken to our various destinations.

I slept very well last night.

Update: I couldn't resist. I just ordered the book.  :-)