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August 6, 2008

Mermaid Spotting

City Island is the perfect spot for a mermaid to relax.

Mermaids on City Island

It's great to walk down to the secluded and quiet beach at the end of the block late at night, around 10:30 or so. Tonight a few guys were having fun doing night fishing and I realized that mermaids would be around. You can see four twinkling New York City bridges from the end of my block — and the graceful flick of mermaid tails sparkling in the lapping water every now and then if you catch the light just right.

June 23, 2008

The Island of the Color Blind

Oliver Sacks is probably my favorite living nonfiction author, although his stories have the action, drama and intrigue of a good thriller. He is “An investigator of the mind's mysteries, in a class by himself,” says Publisher's Weekly.

Books by Oliver Sacks

A few of Oliver Sacks' entrancing books:
The Island of the Colorblind
, Migraine, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

For anyone who doesn't know his work, Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who writes like a poet. Some of his books, all true stories, have been made into movies, such as Awakenings, starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, directed by Penny Marshall and At First Sight, starring Mira Sorvino and Val Kilmer. Dr. Sacks' brilliance and impact is because he is a scientist who looks at his subjects like an artist, thereby allowing developments and conclusions that others might miss.

The Island of the Color Blind focuses on the tiny Pacific atoll of Pingelap, where Dr. Sacks traveled, spurred on by reports of an isolated community of islanders born totally colorblind. Dr. Sacks set up a clinic in a one-room dispensary, where he listened to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow. The adage that “when one door closes, another one opens” happens neurologically also. People with extreme limitations in one area often seem to develop or be granted extreme capabilities in another area. Apart from the innate intrigue of the subjects Dr. Sacks covers, his studies provide profound awe at the depth of the human spirit and appreciation of the scientist's acceptance that people are not just a set of physical facts.

Speaking of islands, Oliver Sacks used to live here on City Island. It said on the back of one of his books, "Oliver Sacks lives on City Island where he swims and grows ferns.“ It was, in fact, one of the three things that introduced me to City Island and made me curious what such a place in the midst of New York City could be. Alas, he had already moved off when I moved on.

Oliver Sacks' latest book is Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. It “examines the extreme effects of music on the human brain and how lives can be utterly transformed by the simplest of harmonies.” I can't wait to read it. Also worth reading are Seeing Voices and A Leg to Stand On, one of my favorites.

Books by the fascinating Oliver Sacks

If you believe that there is inherent value in people, you will like the writing of Dr. Sacks. If you are interested in unusual neurological occurrences, you will like the writing of Dr. Sacks. If you are an artist who knows that the unseen and the seen are two sides of a coin, you will like the writing of Dr. Sacks. If you enjoy a good thriller, stories with surprising conclusions, you will like the writing of Oliver Sacks. In short, if there is anything in which you are interested within the depths of human nature, you will find Oliver Sacks' tales well worth your time.

June 20, 2008

KittyGate II: Caught in the Act

Proof that Autumn is still a kitten as she scales the 6' door I thought I had so cleverly put up to try to acclimate my two kitties without them literally pulling each other's hair out. But Autumn is a “can do” personality and where there's a will, boy, I mean, girl, is there a way.

Scaling the cat gate

Naturally, I am impressed by her acrobatics. I had to take some pictures. It's hard to discourage her and want her to stay for a photo shoot at the same time.

Autumn scales the kitty gate

Not sure what to do next in this experiment. My helpful landlord, with whom I discussed the possibility of her scaling this even when we were putting it up, suggested putting plexiglass on the surface, which she won't be able to grip. I guess I'm going to have to if I want to keep up this experiment. I'm not ready to give up yet, although I also found a cat behaviorist I may consult and I also have a new book coming that may suggest some ways I haven't thought of to try to acclimate these two divas. At any rate, they keep up the entertainment quotient.

June 18, 2008

Dino Dines in Style
Courtesy of the Treehouse Restaurant

Dino is the very smart, sweet and gorgeously colored birdie pictured below.

Dino from City Island Treehouse Restaurant

Dino lives with Tanya and Shukri, owners of the delicious Treehouse Restaurant, here on City Island. As you can see, Dino is no slouch in the culinary department, as he enjoys his own serving of shrimp salad at a recent City Island street fair (photos by the owners' niece). Dino is a good will ambassador and tirelessly greets patrons to the Treehouse Restaurant, sitting outside most days and inside sometimes at night, at the more upscale Treehouse's Euro Cafe across the street. Dino talks a lot. Dino laughs a lot. With all his hard work welcoming guests and visitors, Dino deserves the finest in cuisine. He is a wonderful animal with a big personality.

The Treehouse is one of the few restaurants here on City Island that natives like to go to. Some of my favorite dishes include their fantastic pizza, a great side salad called Shope salad, eggplant parmigiana, spinach ravioli and eggplant rollantini. If you're not sure what to have, ask Dino. The Treehouse Euro Cafe, my favorite, is directly across the street and has no sign but be brave and venture inside if they're open. The menu is the same and the atmosphere is lovely. The Treehouse is casual; the Euro Cafe is more elegant but still very comfortable (jeans are okay). So if you're taking a day trip to City Island, the Treehouse is a good place to drop in and Dino will likely be here to greet you, surely the high spot of your outing.

Come Visit:

The Treehouse Restaurant
273 City Island Avenue, City Island, NY 10464
718-885-0806

The Treehouse Euro Cafe
274 City Island Avenue, City Island, NY 10464
718-885-0806

June 14, 2008

Z is for Zoo

Friday I went to the zoo.

Magnificent peacock

Dazzling peacocks moseying around the grounds 

Seeing nature's vibrant colors up close is startling. What was really fun about the peacocks is that they were behaving like pigeons, walking around the picnic tables hoping for tidbits. We saw giant camels, lions and a polar bear. Turns out the Bronx Zoo is very near my home stomping ground of City Island so I intend to visit more often. We took a ride on their pleasant trolley that transports you through the gracious grounds. Here is my niece Avery with her lovely blue tongue from our lunch of science fiction-colored frozen blueberry and grape drinks with pretzels, potato chips and nachos made from what looked like the sides of taxicabs (plastic or metal combo of yellow cheeselike substance). A great time was had by all.

Avery with a blue tongue

Avery displays her peacock-challenging turquoise tongue 

May 9, 2008

What Not to Do on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday, May 11th.

Mother and baby bear

While it's great to celebrate the incredible effort of mothers and to honor them, I was raised being told that this type of holiday is a “greeting card holiday,” meaning that it was invented purely as a money-making proposition. I think my parents are right, although it's nice to take a moment and celebrate the arduous challenge of being a mother. Not being a mom yet myself, I am in extra awe of the work moms put in. It's hard enough to try to hold down any sort of job, get your own basic needs taken care of, let alone do the laundry. But try to get some tyke off to school? Rush them to the emergency room? Help with homework? Who wants to do homework?! Not to mention pay for a thousand things. Animal mothers work their butts off for their offspring too and perform heroic feats to protect their little ones. The mother instinct is a beautiful thing.

Meanwhile, whatever you do to acknowledge mothers, do NOT come to City Island on Mother's Day. For some unknown reason, the entire borough of the Bronx and more seems to swarm here on Mother's Day and you cannot get on the island after a certain hour. Why anyone would want to put themselves through this is beyond any of us residents. Last year, I had to leave for some reason and it took over an hour to get through a five-minute section. This is not the day to visit our cute spit of land. Come the day after or the day before but do yourself a favor and avoid it like the plague on the actual day.

September 21, 2007

Autumn Casts a Spell

Colorful kitty's working name is Autumn, which fits her artistic leafy coat aptly.

Autumn

Escaping from the shed we had her in overnight, she must have scaled the wall on a small vine and gotten out through a hole we didn't see in the roof. Luckily, my friend Elizabeth found her yesterday afternoon, being slightly menaced by another tough cat under a car. She is so friendly that we were able to lure her with food. I took her to the New Rochelle Humane Society for a once-over and under the circumstances, she is healthy, which is great news. She needs some cleaning up and she's doing a lot herself. Her purrrsonality is so warm. Cats are as different as people and for those of us who have been taken under their spell, they are constantly fascinating. This little tyke went out and got herself a loving home, despite falling into hard times on the street. Would it were so that we all had such determination. See a few more photos from today here.

September 19, 2007

Colorful Kitty Rescue

Kitties kitties everywhere. So many to love. So hard to compare. Check out this super colorful kitty I rescued today, with the help of my fantastic friends.

Autumn, the Colorful Kitty

She looks as if Jackson Pollack had his way with her, which is a fetching way to look. She had been loitering in the alley next to my house in City Island. She is super friendly, which indicates that she probably belonged to someone at some point. She also seems very young so it's odd that she would be thrown away. She's a bit beat up, which doesn't really show in this photo. I'm having her checked out by a vet tomorrow. There's a possibility she may be pregnant, as people think they saw her cavorting with local tomcats but we'll wait to see. At any rate, she is safe and sound now and I pray she isn't sick. With her great disposition, she will make anyone an amazing companion and has already enriched the lives of the people who have come across her. What a creature. God knows what She's doing, even though it's a nutty world. See some more photos of colorful kitty here.

September 15, 2007

11 Kitties on a Houseboat

This week, I visited a houseboat that sits in the down-to-earth waters of the Bronx, NYC. This particular vessel houses its human couple and at least 11 feline companions plus one hospitable pooch.

Dale Eggers and Neil Corwin, mosaic artists, live here. I met them because they have a studio here on City Island. Their houseboat is 10 minutes from the island and I am now designing their mosaic work website. Their art is enticing and their feline family is too. Besides their own cat brood, the houseboat slip fills in as home to many semi-feral but lovely creatures, such as Tabatha, seen below, chicly coordinated with the rusty background on which she chooses to recline.

Outdoor Kitty Tabatha

Photo by Susan Farley

August 16, 2007

Colorful Interior Life

My design career has headed in the direction of interior design recently.

Interior Design

This is a photograph of my gallery / hallway design in my last apartment in Manhattan. My designs are drenched in color, with plenty of open space and beautiful textures, such as Murano glass lamps with ceiling medallions (available from many architectural and hardware resources) and wrought iron details (the flower stand here is from the Gramercy Park Flower Shop).

For those who are interested, the paint-flecked slotted doors attached to the kitchen entry were found in an antique store in New Jersey. The blue over-painted small armoire is from Chester, New Jersey, an abundant antiquing town. The small stool is an Eames classic, available from Design Within Reach. The large mirror is a great value at Pottery Barn. The small lamp is from an antique store with a new shade. The small edge of a corner table you see was designed by me to fit in the corner of my previous apartment's kitchen to make more counter space. The rug is by Susan Sargent, who helped inspire my own rug design collection.

August 31, 2006

Capturing Life

Photo by Susan Farley

The summer has flown by. Fllllllpppp flllooppp -- there is goes. Luckily, it usually stays warm into the beginning of October so we'll be able to catch some late rays. Anyway, I love summer with its warmth, long sunny days, casual feeling. Here on City Island, we bask in the summertime and drink it in with special relish. I haven't made a blog entry since April because of being caught up with excellent work projects. One of those projects is a website for a richly talented local photographer named Susan Farley (website up within the month). Susan's specialty is people. She manages to capture people at great moments, with affection, insight and beauty. She recently took some photos of my picturesque boyfriend, David, and I tagged along. She snapped a few of us together and I prize them. Here is one. (Click here for larger view.)

November 6, 2005

The Color of Salsa

Salsa is a colorful Latin dance style that came into its own in my native New York City. It's a fiery but orderly dance that lets you cut loose and shine on the dance floor.

Eddie Torres is often considered the father of modern Salsa. Much of the order is thanks to him, since he formally documented steps (known as shines) and turns. He danced with the famous Latin musician, Tito Puente, who, incidentally, has a restaurant here on City Island. Eddie‘s dancers were at one time called the Tito Puente dancers.

It is my good fortune to be taking Salsa lessons with my boyfriend, David, at Morocco‘s Dance Studio with Danny Ramirez and Cindy Osorio (contact Danny or Cindy for info), amazingly great teachers. They take you through steps at a pace that allows you to learn without confusion. You also switch partners frequently, a technique that enhances the learning process. Their method is called “On 2.” “On 2” refers to the beat on which you step in this Eddie Torres-influenced system. You emphasize the second beat and this is key to proper technique and style.


Artwork, l to r, by Constructivists Lissitzky and Malevich

What color do you think Salsa is? You'll see lots of red and black in Salsa imagery and clothing. But I see it as a fiery orange or fuchsia. Interestingly, David has instinctively worn an orange shirt to class a couple of times. He must be seeing the same colors in this art form. I feel the orange impulse because it's definitely hot and red means many other things to me. Despite much great use of red in design, for instance, with Constructivist artwork, to me, red doesn't have the passion of either orange or fuchsia. Those colors talk to me more. Whatever color this dance conjurs up for you, I recommend giving it a whirl. It'll open your spirit, is good for your body, a ton of fun and is a civilized way to meet people.

October 31, 2005

Bloggerific

Happy Halloween, world. My neighborhood is covered with shaving cream, not my favorite look. But the kiddie bumble bees and fairy princesses are innocently adorable.

blackkittyMed.jpgwhitekittyMed.jpg

I'm learning how to use this blogging software, Moveable Type. A year ago, I didn't know what a blog was. I like the word blog. It sounds like splotch. It's simple. Don't you think it's interesting that so many people have so much to say? I mean, don't you know a lot of females who complain about males never talking? Well, they sure talk on their blogs. So what's the secret? An audience? A potential audience? Targeted marketing? I'm not sure. But whatever it is, I think it's great that everyone is communicating. Sometimes it seems like information overload but you don't have to look at anything online you don't want to. So more power to us all.