gan in friendship,
narrowing the spaces between
in methodic madness–
shared creations expanding from
working in parallel–
threaded layered multiplied back
more to explore–
branching like trees and scattering
to inspire each
other, to our surprise
we found ourselves weaving a web–
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
(this quote is the first thing I posted)
Nina and I began our blog on May 6, 2014, as a way to show each other the art we were doing. We had both let our creativity languish and were hoping to inspire each other to produce more. We made the above two combined logos–the top one merging art from each of us in the center, and our avatar which contained a drawing each of us had done of the other from the 1970s, when we met, working as designers in a textile company.
the news is full of sorrow
not should have been–two years
On May 7, I received my firsts “likes” for the above post. I didn’t have a clue…where did that come from? When Nina told me we had acquired followers I was mystified. Two of those first likes came from blogs I still interact with–Robert Okaji, and Outside Authority.
In the beginning I mostly posted drawings and old art, with the occasional 17 syllable poem. I got my first comment from someone other than Nina on May 30, for my first Beach I Ching post. I started writing more poetry in 2016. For the first few years Nina and I posted almost every day, and we did a number of collaborations.
Above is one of our collaborations with the Oracle.
Life has tossed us around a bit in the past few years. I’m posting less and doing some of my art/poetry at Kblog now, but you can still find me here for my monthly circle/grid, Draw a Bird Day, and Thursday Doors, with The Kick-About, and a few other things thrown in from time to time. Nina and I hope to get back to collaborations too.
I would not be doing the art or writing I’m doing today without this community. I’ve learned and been given so much–thank you, thank you, thank you! for your continued support .
balconies they call
two voices linger on a
midsummer night’s dream
247, 248, and 249 Central Park West have a number of Juliet balconies, as the NYC real estate market has labeled any small terrace outside an upper floor window or door on which you can stand. Once there were 6 brownstones on the block between 84th and 85th street.
The entrance to 247 is the simplest. The original six homes were designed in the late 1800s by architect Edward Angell in a variety of styles, each with its own facade. When builder Sam Minskoff proposed demolishing all six in 1925 to build a two-tower apartment building, the owner of 247, architect W. Gedney Beatty, refused to sell. This saved not only his house, but 248 and 249 as well. They were landmarked in 1988, and so can not be demolished for any future development.
248 has a variety of stonework that includes owls on the side and what appear to be griffins over the door. Each side of the door surround is different. This house sold for $26 million in 2022–it has a lap pool, a landscaped rooftop garden, and 4 Juliet balconies.
The front gate is also quite beautiful.
249, the corner house, was divided into apartments in 1957. A lot of the facade ornamentation was removed and the house was painted white. After the Landmarks designation, because of building violations, the owner was forced to strip off the paint and restore the masonry. I wonder if the door guardian in the triangle is a restoration, or remained to be uncovered at that time. I remember the building being worked on for many months.
249 sold for 17.5 million in 2013 and again spent many years being renovated and turned back into a single home.
It too has a lovely front gate.
And beautiful ironwork on the side entrance.
Edward Angell designed many homes on the Upper West Side, and I hope to visit and photograph more of them.
My poem was written for Ingrid at dVerse, who proposed a celebration of Shakespeare. What better than a Juliet balcony?
And, as always, find more doors with host Dan Antion, here.
Kiss—he still longed for
her smile, touch–
he thought it
lost, but it surfaced, wistful,
as a song of love
Long a musical fixture in Central Park, the Naumburg Bandshell was the site of John Lennon’s eulogy in 1980.
We were much much younger then…
In 1904 philanthropist Elkan Naumburg began funding free symphonic concerts in Central Park with picnics and waltzing under the stars. They were so popular that the crowds grew too large for the space; the original cast iron pagoda bandshell was razed, the grounds were paved over, and Naumburg’s nephew, William, designed a new limestone bandshell. It was completed in 1923, with 10,000 attending the symphonic dedication.
I was wandering around the park recently (actually on my way to an appointment on the East Side, but I got distracted) when I found myself in front of the bandshell. It looked forlorn without any performers on this grey windy day. A few other people stopped to take photos then went on their way.
The Bandshell has a rich history, including performances by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and the Grateful Dead, as well as numerous orchestral and operatic groups. Martin Luther King Jr and Fidel Castro both gave speeches here. It was nearly razed in 1992 after years of vandalism and neglect, but preservationists, spearheaded by Naumburg’s grandson, won a court battle to save it. Renovation was delayed by the city until 2003, when the Central Park Conservancy raised funds to restore it.
Summerstage began its free concerts here in 1986. Because the park was considered so unsafe at that time, the concerts were only given during the day. The large crowds resulting from its popularity caused it to relocate to Rumsey Playfield in 1990, where it remains. Sun Ra and his Arkestra and Ladysmith Black Mambazo were two of the original acts that performed.
My John Lennon-inspired shadorma is for Merril’s prompt at dVerse, where she has given us a selection of English rose names to use in our verse. I chose Julia’s Kiss. John said when he wrote his song he was thinking not only of his mother, Julia, but his wife, Yoko. Love is complex.
You can read more about the Naumburg Bandshell here and the gathering for John Lennon here. I unknowingly lived for a couple years right down the street from John and Yoko in the Village, before they moved into the Dakota, and once saw John in the subway, running to catch a train uptown.
And, as always, there are always more doors to see on Thursday Doors. Visit host Dan Antion here.
Too many glass boxes
disguised as buildings–
a mirror of themselves–
I prefer a threshold
under a stone guardian–
one that remembers landscapes
filled with foliage and wings.
I’m lucky to live in a city with a political climate that leans towards saving some of its beautiful architecture. No, they don’t build them like this any more–it’s too expensive.
Here’s another guardian on West End Avenue, with some lovely metalwork too.
Another door with multiple guardians. When I looked through my photos, there were a lot of them, but I’ve saved some for future posts. And I’m sure there are many more left for me to discover.
The poem was written for Sarah’s dVerse prompt, where mirror was one of the suggested words.
And as always find more Thursday Doors here.
my eye attempts to join
with wings, lifted
by an unseen wind–
a blurred displacement
of air expanding the horizon
beyond all sense of limits–
the sky trembles, held
in a featherlight embrace,
as if it, too, would rise,
into the cosmic sea
A quadrille that includes the word eye for dVerse, hosted by Bjorn. It’s not specifically about an oriole, but in the spirit of Draw a Bird Day.
The Baltimore Oriole, named for its orange and black feathers that are the same colors as Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms, summers in the Northeastern and Central United States and Canada, migrating to Florida, the Caribbean islands, and Central and South America in winter. New World orioles are not related to Old World orioles, but are part of the blackbird and meadowlark family.
Residing in forest edges and open woodlands, the oriole’s diet includes insects, flowers, and fruits. They especially like ripe fruit, and can be attracted to bird feeders with orange slices or sugar water. They weave unique hanging nests that look delicate but are remarkably strong. You can see photos and read more about their nests here.
Females and young males have a subtle grey and golden coloring although females grow more orange with each molt, and may end up close to the bright male coloring as they age.
Orioles are not endangered, but they are in decline, partially due to their preference for nesting in elm trees, which have been devastated by Dutch Elm Disease.
Orioles are the second of my orange and black birds for the Year of the Tiger. You can see the first one, the Rufous Treepie, here.
An opening is full of mystery–
new passages, a shifting point of view.
What lies beyond this threshold—destiny?
Whose feet have trod this path, what history
has left its imprint here, its residue?
An opening is full of mystery.
Myriad layers of peripheries
cause our vision to be displaced, confused.
What lies beyond this threshold—destiny?
We wish for knowledge, rules, simplicity,
something more than a vague amorphous clue–
an opening is full of mystery.
A mirror to affirm validity,
a way to start again, transform, renew—
what lies beyond this threshold—destiny?
A life of meaning, synchronicity–
the what the where the why the how the who–
an opening is full of mystery.
What lies beyond is waiting—what will be?
This closed off doorway to what must have once been an elegant building, the Saxony, has always seemed mysterious–particularly since it’s been ornamented with a potted tree. A little research indicates it’s been merged with a neighboring building into a larger co-op, so I guess that’s where the entrance is located now. I’ll have to go back and look for it. It seems a shame that they closed it off. Emory Roth is a well known architect and designed many residences on the Upper West Side. You can see a photo of the entire building here.
I wrote the villanelle for Ingrid’s prompt at dVerse, bending the rules a bit, as I tend to do.
You can join in Thursday doors here.
The snow gathers everywhere, grown from nothing, reflecting the hidden sun like feathers dancing. I awaken to a world both light and dark, suspended in the wind. I can’t see the morning moon behind the whirling veil, but I know it is a waning crescent, almost new.
At night, I light candles and think of those lost to me, all the spirits now absent from this world. Do I only imagine that I hear their voices singing on the currents of the stormtides? Inside my memories I assemble the seeds they entrusted to me, promise to plant them in the unfolding aurora of spring.
cold winter nights—sky
dazzles to infinity–
For the new month, the New Moon, and dVerse Haibun Monday, hosted by Frank, where the subject is winter.
The Other that defined
the Me that defined
the Where and How—
My heartmoor knows
the answer to the question
before it is even formed.
What is living but
a series of redefinitions?
Suddenly what was is no more,
and the Who finds itself
facing another set of doors,
hoping once again
to avoid the Over
that follows Start.
My favorite doors of the year are the first ones I posted, across the street from the apartment building I moved into last spring. It was my third move since the beginning of 2020.
Heartmoor: the primal longing for a home village to return to, a place that no longer exists, if it ever did.
Craxis: the unease of knowing how quickly your circumstances could change on you- that no matter how carefully you shape your life into what you want it to be, the whole thing could be overturned in an instant.
I hope this will be my last move, but life always seems to have its own ideas.
And you can see more favorite doors of the year at Thursday Doors here.
breath catches, consumed, clinging
to vanishing light
to the bare crowns of branches–
hope hangs tenuous, threaded–
taut, still, wintering
A seasonal dVerse quadrille for my December grid. De provided the word crown as inspiration.
I am collecting photos of doors. Sometimes my eyes and camera are subject to amnesia and repeat earlier photos, as if I had lost the map to my previous tours of the neighborhood.
Sometimes I can’t locate the photo of a door I remember—is it missing? or am I evading the fact that occasionally I can’t distinguish what I’ve seen from what I’ve imagined?
No matter. Like the fool I will keep stepping over the cliff, the one that falls into more photos of more doors.
lost and then
found again—the door
The Schinasi Mansion is located on Riverside Drive at 107th Street in Manhattan. I lived nearby for many years, and the rumor was that it was owned by a Columbia University professor, although it always looked as if no one lived there. When the house was listed for sale in 2011, I viewed the listing with its floor plan and interior photos with interest.
The doors are imposing, but not exciting. But the mansion has an interesting history and its own Wikipedia page. After being a private residence for the Schinasi family, it has been a finishing school, a daycare center, and a coed residential center for Columbia/Barnard students. Hans Smit, a Columbia professor, bought the mansion from the university in 1979. He restored the house and used it for hosting events, and sold it to Mark Schwartz, a vice chairman at Goldman Sachs in 2013.
The architect was William Tuthill, who also designed Carnegie Hall.
My haibun is a loose intepretation and response to Maxine Chernoff’s “Lost and Found” for Laura at dVerse. I used it to accompany this week’s Thursday Doors because these are doors I’ve photographed multiple times without exactly remembering it. I did not do the mansion itself, however, until a few weeks ago when it was quiet and I could stand in the street without fear of being run down to get the entire house in my lens.
And it’s true that sometimes I can’t remember the source of an image or experience I have in my mind–did it happen? did I read about it somewhere? did someone tell me about it? or did it happen in a dream? I wonder if it would be possible to photograph a dream door…
You can join in Thursday doors here.