Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Vacations stay with us. The memories of sunny beaches, a cruise, or a relaxing meal away from our busy everyday lives can make us smile and relax a bit when the days get a little tense.  In this case, my memory is of a walk to the Sullivan Street Bakery (not located on Sullivan Street).  I highly recommend the bakery if you are in New York City.

The photograph reminds me of the neighborhood near our hotel. We passed this street almost daily to and from the bakery. I expect no one is surprised to know that space is at a premium in the city. Row after row of what might be called townhouses in the suburbs are a 3rd floor walk up for others. While strolling, my husband and I often talked of the requirements of city living. Think....very expensive parking so why own a car?  What about buying groceries, carrying them home on the subway or through your neighborhood, then you still have to get them up those three flights of stairs. Apartments are generally small, kitchens --tiny which I guess prevents buying too much at one time. We saw people buying goods at a Home Depot and trying to stuff them into a tiny car.  Now just imagine getting  through traffic, stopping on a narrow street lined with parked cars on each side, unloading your treasures, getting it up the stairs, parking the car, going back to your apartment,  then where to put your newly acquired stuff?  Gee, I hope it isn't raining while you are doing this.

Personally, no thank you big city. Chicago, NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, New Orleans or D.C....I love you all and I am so very, very glad I don't live in any of those places. You have interesting things to see and do. And don't get me started about the food. I LOVE to try new foods and the big city is an ideal place to do that. But I'm happy where I am and I'm glad we can visit those bustling cities from time to time.

Life in the big city may be intense, but I sense people seek the calm of nature. Central Park is a wonderful example. During our walks there, it appeared there were more locals than tourists enjoying the beautiful spring flowers. And walking to "our" neighborhood bakery, we could admire tiny attempts to bring life to the concrete jungle. In paved gardens smaller than our king-sized bed, these city dwellers planted pots of flowers and in this case, a tree struggling under the shade of tall buildings and old trees that lined the street. The blooms brought color, life and light to the city and reminded us to slow down a bit and enjoy springtime in New York.

Do you have a favorite vacation memory to share?

PHOTO NOTE: I used the Channel Mixer adjustment layer in photoshop to desaturate the color in the photograph. Then I "painted" the flowers with black at 16% opacity to bring back some color. Finally I added a Kim K. texture (Aurora I believe) in soft light mode and about 45% opacity. I again created a mask on the texture layer to "erase" some of the texture from the flowers. Really easier than it sounds.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Guess where I've been! My husband and I spent a lovely week in the Big Apple where we walked and ate, ate and walked.  Of course there was Times Square, plays, the Ferry, Little Italy, China Town, the Empire State Building and the 9/11 Memorial. We've visited NYC in the past for the day or a short weekend, but never for an entire week.

I loved it. And I was struck by two things. One--people were soooo friendly.  Strangers on subways offered directions to us or others when they saw us staring at a map. They stopped us on the street and said, "Make sure you check out the park up the block where West Side Story was filmed." We weren't looking for the park, but it was a nice gesture.  We talked to young women who were born and raised in the neighborhood and were starting their careers.  People offered menu tips at more than one restaurant. The noise, confusion, the dirt, the sheer volume of traffic and people had not taken away the inherent friendliness and need to connect.  We are all different. We are all the same.

Second, I was constantly aware of the contradictions of New York.  Cities smell.  There always is trash of some kind, the diesel truck idling on the curb making deliveries, the oil from engines and trains, the stale stench of old beer from the bar with its doors open to the street. And then there is the corner bakery with recipes older than grandma offering delicacies from Greece, Italy, Germany or those tempting American cupcakes laden with icing.

More contradictions? Think noise of people and traffic contrasted against the quiet of a walk in Central Park; the blinking lights of Times Square clattering for your attention and the darkness of a theater as actors pull you into their story.  There are dozens of tulips blowing in the spring breeze of Rockefeller Center and there is a city of subway trains under your feet.

NYC is exciting and full of so much to see and do. I'm so very glad we went, I'm so very glad we are home.  Do you have any vacation stories to share?

Photo Note: This is the first collage of this type that I've tried.  It was from a template. Once you get the hang of keeping the layers straight, it isn't difficult. You should try it.  I also noted (again) that I'm graphically oriented, especially in the city. Can't help myself.... those shapes seem interesting to me.