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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Flight from New York ~

As the plane taxied on the runway I thought I should be heading west, to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. But instead I was flying east, to a foreign country. Will that same moment of uncertainty return to me on my deathbed?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wedding on Long Island ~

Caught the train at Penn Station and headed out to Long Island. Two hours to Southampton. A Greek wedding. My niece, Alexandra, got married. This is why we flew over to New York.

Beach Party ~ Southampton

The next evening a memorable outing at the ocean. Moonlight shining on the water, the sound of the breaking waves, the white sand. Good old hot dogs, corn on the cob and lots to drink with family and friends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge ~

Just had to walk across that bridge. Stopped to read a plaque honoring its builder, John A. Roebling. He perfected the use of twisted steel cables, which made the bridge possible. He died from injuries while constructing it, his son Washington Augustus, a Union Lieutenant Colonel in the Civil War, came home from war and finished the project. These brilliant engineers came from my neck of the woods: Saxonburg, Pennsylvania.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tiffany's ~

Walked into Tiffany's to buy a wedding present. Was treated like a millionaire but came out with a rather modest set of candlesticks.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

St. Patrick's Cathedral ~

Early mass at the cathedral. Low mass. Two candles. Very plain sermon about God's love. It is He Who makes us able to love. We cannot do it on our own. Then we received communion. It was all low key. No cardinal. No pomp.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Penn Station ~

At five o'clock in the afternoon hordes of commuters swarm into Penn Station like bees into a hive.

Language ~

I think I heard as much Spanish in New York as I did English.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Columbia University ~

While staying in New York wanted to get up the Columbia, walk the campus, see the young students. Kind of a tribute to Thomas Merton. But couldn't manage to cram it into our schedule.

Wall Street ~

We sat out in front of the New York Stock Exchange and picniced on ham sandwiches. Tourists stood looking up at the columns and and would walk away, somberly pacing. The financial crisis had just staged a Black Tuesday.

St. Paul's Church ~ Financial District

Amid the skyscrapers, just a stone's throw from the Twin Towers I found this old church [1766] on Fulton Street. Overpowered by the achievements of architects and Man the Creator I walked inside and sat there for few moments feeling of my own lowliness. I felt like an empty church. But being there was somehow very consoling.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Central Park Frisbee ~

Stood in Central Park watching adults playing a new frisbee game. One team, like in football, flinging the disc to one another and advancing toward their goal, unless the opposite team intercepts and scores their own goal. Serious game played gracefully. Girls just as deft as the boys. Clean fun in New York.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Art Deco ~ New York

I was not aware that Art Deco was so prevalent in New York. Everywhere! Of course, the Chrysler Building. But in so many other public buildings, private dwellings, in decorations. While walking down 5th Avenue I happened upon The French Building and stepped inside to find this magnificent entryway and hall.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Grasping New York ~

To hear about New York is one thing, but to be here is quite another . . . as if in hearing, it is someone else's, but in being here, it becomes mine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Service in New York ~

Went to an historical Episcopalian Church on Fifth Avenue for a Sunday service. A woman priest. Her sermon in English: a delight for my ears and heart. Afterwards I spoke with her. Call me Elizabeth, she said, and conversed in such a friendly way. She had recently received her Doctor of Divinity and had just been assigned to this church.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New York Streets ~

What surprised and impressed me in New York was how clean the streets were.

Henry Clay Frick ~ 1849-1919

Spent a lot of time in museums:the Guggenheim, MoMa, the Metropolitan. But the one that left the indelible mark was the Frick Collection on Fifth Avenue. I asked myself where Henry Clay Frick acquired his taste for the beauty of paintings and sculpture. He was a college dropout. His masterpiece collection is exhibited here in the serene and intimate rooms of his home. Frick comes to life here. It was as if I were standing there looking at beauty through his appreciative eyes.

After seeing the Frick Collection, viewing much of the collection at the MoMa was like reading comic books— trite and trivial.

The Frick Collection ~

This must have been one of Henry C. Frick's favorite paintings. He had it hanging in the hallway leading to his library. Just what did he see when he looked up at her?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Boat Tour ~

Friday morning to the pier on 42nd Street. A three hour boat tour around the island of Manhattan. Our guide, Tom Wurl, was extraordinary. Non-stop interesting information about what we were seeing, what buildings we were looking at, who lived there, history, architecture of New York, baseball-football stories, quoted poetry and sayings of important personages.When I later moved up to the front of the boat to look out, I saw him standing in a corner with a mike in his hand talking, inconspicuous.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nine-Eleven, 2008 ~

Standing at Ground Zero before the huge empty abyss. I look up at the buildings edging the crater. They seem to be standing silent on this Nine-Eleven, still in mourning.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With Friends ~

What a pleasure: to get an invitation to have supper with friends in New York. Poured down rain, caught a taxi to 114th Street near Columbia, had the best corn I've eaten in ages and spent the evening mainly in heated political discussion about the presidential candidates. I noticed a marked difference in my perception as to what was being said, hearing it coming from Americans. Coming from a living source, thus carrying more meaningful weight. From the distance, in Europe, all talk about America seems speculative and groping.

With New York Friends ~ Books

An interesting comment made about books: America doesn't have a national literary culture. About the only book that we have in common is the Bible and we use it as the key to all literature, art, to living. It is the book that offers us vision of the whole.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Breakfast ~ Central Park West

You went down five steps into a little shop run by an Turkish-American who had just bought the place. So polite and friendly. He would be toasting bagels and making pancakes for us for the rest of the week. Sat right by the counter and watched all types of people come in, most of whom just wanted the morning paper.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Central Park ~ The Great Hill

Just had to cross the street from our hotel and walk up the stairway entrance and I was in Central Park at the so-called Great Hill. On the flat circle at the top that Sunday morning at half past seven there were at least 50 people with their dogs and they had them chasing balls thrown in all directions.

What a spectacle: the sight of those dogs, legs extended, in flight . . . in the morning sunlight.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Central Park ~

The really forward looking men of New York were the ones who conceived of the idea to build Central Park. It is a veritable refuge, an escape into nature right there in the heart of New York.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Arrival ~ New York

It was at sunset as we winged into New York flying in from the tip of Manhattan, up along Central Park and out to La Guardia.The sky was all ablaze in fiery red, and there were the tall buildings, lit up, as if they had come out to greet us.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Home Again ~

I first saw my country from the porthole of an airplane. Down where the ocean touches the land. . . and out beyond, the great expanse.