I may procrastinate with nearly all important things in my life, but when it comes to Christmas shopping (or birthday shopping or just day-to-day pick-me-ups for those I love) I'm more eager to get the show on the road than those poor little gymnasts who can't start bouncing around until the judges blink the light. It only SEEMS preposterous to be thinking of holiday presents now, but when delivery takes five months, we're actually getting down to the wire. So, if you know someone who might appreciate custom needlepoint slippers this year, get clickin! They're about 300 smackaroos, but they'll be ridiculously adored and last a lifetime just like my dad's have.
The freedom of going through one weekend without a humongus, imminent deadline looming felt so good that you'd imagine Porter and I had lost our noses to the past six months of grindstone action. Don't get me wrong, we have been working harder than any time in our adult lives, but there has also been considerable jaunting (lots of that for decorating clients), wine consumption and television watching. But none of those things were just jaunting, wine consumption or TV watching. They were procrastinatatory (not a word, but should be), guilt and knot-in-the-tum-inducing hijinks. But for the last few days we had a tiny spate of calm -- and it was wonderful to just relax and go and not sneak away under a cloud of guilt.
On Friday, Port and I popped up to City Island in the Bronx. Something magical happens up there. Once you turn off the highway, BOOM...smells like the ocean and you're in a wooded park. The New York Times said it's like Stephen King's version of the Cape. The New York Times is right. It's still simple, rough around the edges and filled with fisherman. We liked it so much in the dark, that we decided to pop back from breakfast on Sunday morn.
There's apparently a dress code on Orchard Beach, an odd Grecian temple-looking zone just a spoke of a traffic circle away from City Island.
You can rent motorboats for $70 bucks a day on weekends at Jack's Bait & Tackle. They have a bunch, but get there at the crack of dawn if you want one - and bring your own pole. They have the bait - and tackle - AND a full line of Grundéns Swedish fishing gear if you expect the perfect storm to hit Eastchester Bay. While I have no plans to advance my fishing beyond bait and hooks like Grandpa Pete taught me as a kid, I do hate to carry umbrellas, so I got myself a rain jacket (see the pic above).
This happened on the way back to town.
On Saturday, we headed South to Lambertville, NJ, a quaint little town of old inns and antiques shops along the Delaware River - hoping to find some great pieces for a client. We came up short, but did get to finally scope out the Boat House, a lovely little nautical pub at the end of an alley.
Where we came up short on the furniture front, we hit a bounty at Phoenix Books. I loved the simple fonts on this set of Proust.
And I bought almost all of their tomes on military uniforms (well, the ones with the good pictures).
We just couldn't get enough of driving with the windows down, blasting Dylan, Redbird and Dan Auerbach, so we popped to Philly for a very brief buzz through Fairmount Park where the monumental Smith Civil War Memorial stands - and Porter stood beneath the bust of Admiral David Dixon Porter.
...and gawked at the museum that requests the kiddies to "Please Touch."
From the point of view of a single person who's years away from sprouting offspring who will inherit her purses and taxidermy, it's safe to say that finishing the photography (more Porter's effort than mine) and the chapters for Heirloom Modern has been has been one huge labor of love -- even though the project's technically still in the second trimester. When the cover came out, it was kinda like seeing a sonogram - and now that the book's up on the Rizzoli website -- and Amazon -- I feel like I've just laid my peepers on a 3-D ultrasound. Her inner designs are still in development, but wow, we've got ourselves a real book! Due date: March 26, 2013. She'll be an Aries.
I saw Richard Thompson play a few years ago and as he stood on stage with his fingers flying over that neck, I kept waiting for all the mandolin players to pop out. Nope. It was all Richard's ten digits and one simple acoustic guitar. This, I have to say, is even better. Here's how guitar gods pick in Botswana. Try not to smile with complete and utter joy when you watch.
Back in the Spring, Porter and I got a call from a couple in Westhampton with a request we never expected: to help them pick out furniture for their new...River Boat. They'd just purchased the old Martha Jefferson, an old stalwart of Long Island river cruises, and were in the midst of transforming it into a three-bedroom, three and a half bath house boat with a gleaming, slick kitchen, loft-sized dining and lounging area and a huge top deck. They wanted it to look modern, simple and clean - and more than anything - for it to make it to its new home at Pier 59 Chelsea Piers before the 4th of July. After months of renovations - and 18 hours of paddling, she was docked, just in time for their big party last night. We were lucky enough to be invited aboard for the front row seats to the fireworks (which may just have beaten the Canadian and Nebraskan ones) and a preview of the amazing times (and views) this family is going to have in their new floating home away from home.
Their friends down the pier live on this beautiful schooner. When their dog - who'd loved his little zebra chew toy more than anything - died a while back, they purchased 17 inflatable zebras to honor the little guy in a proper funeral procession when it came time to scatter his ashes at sea. They made a big appearance on deck last night (and even came on board with us after the fireworks).
We checked out the space a few days before. Those plastic chairs are probably our favorite purchase of the entire project.
NYPD choppers buzz the boats
The zebras on board
The magnificent view
Back in 1989, a few kids from my 5th grade French class and I headed to Montreal and Quebec City for six big days of immersion. I was 5'9", eleven years old and ready to take on the world (if not just North America). So, when our tour guide squealed out with glee that she'd landed us tickets to the circus, I could only roll my eyes. Been there, done that, I thought. My god, I'm eleven!
Well, the circus was Cirque du Soleil. The original. The one that hadn't traveled to America and wowed millions of tourists in Vegas. It was still local. A true Canadian thrill - and possibly the best thing I'd ever seen. I smiled for the next two days, reliving every human origami-esque moment - until the tour guide exclaimed, with similar exaltation, that we would be going to see "some amazing fireworks."
Nice try, lady. This will never beat the show that they put on over Holmes Lake in Lincoln. I'd watched those spectacular explosions from Grandpa Pete's back yard every 4th of July since I was a baby. The people in Nebraska sure knew how to blow things up. No one could top that.
Well, when you challenge the Canadians, the Americans, the Europeans, the Asians and all the other -ans (and maybe even some Nebraskans) to the world's top prize in pyrotechnics, the skies manage to light up a bit. It was the Montreal International Fireworks Competition. (We had one heck of a tour guide, in the end).
But while the action above blew my mind, it couldn't live up to my memories of what should happen on the ground; Canada just didn't smell like fireworks - the mix of petunias and sparklers and hamburgers and Skoal and Old Milwaukee's Best. I so miss that scent and Grandpa Pete and that really nice light brown hair color I had at three when I didn't know about napkins.
Happy 4th of July, everybody! I hope you all get a strong whiff of petunia, meat and cheap beer, the best odeur in the entire world.