Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Berry Pickers

How many differences can you find in these two pictures? Ha! A better question might be, "How many similarities can you find?" It wouldn't take long to answer that one. Let's see; there are ladies in both pictures. They are picking something. That's about it.
The top picture is of my dear, dear friend, Darla, and me on the 4th of July. We were picking blackberries when the second picture suddenly popped into my head. I asked Darla, "Do you remember 'The Berry Pickers?' " My mother had that print hanging on her wall during the nineties. Yes, Darla remembered it well. "Well, Darla," I said, "I know one thing. They sure weren't picking blackberries."
We hooted with laughter. Drenched with sweat, scratched by thorns, coated with Deep Woods Off! to ward off the chiggers, we stepped carefully to alert any nearby snakes of our presence in the hope that they would flee. And after I saw one evil looking spider, I just tried to put spiders out of my mind.
No, the setting for the painting is most definitely not anywhere in the deep South in July. Perhaps these lovely ladies were picking blueberries on a cool summer day in Maine. Perhaps they were picking cranberries in some other mild clime. One thing is for certain, they wouldn't look quite so nice in the briers of a blackberry patch in a hot Arkansas summer.
But they surely couldn't have had any more fun than Darla and I had that day. Friends since we were teenagers, we only see each other about once a year. Darla lives in Wichita, and she and her family usually come to see us during the summer.
Tim helped us. And Blake, Darla's 12 year old boy. Blake is a doll; we love him. He gets his own post coming up soon.
Last year Darla was here for the 4th, and we picked blackberries. The picking was much easier then. It didn't take us long to get lots of berries from one patch. This year it was much more challenging. The deer had a head start on us; they had eaten a lot of the berries. We had to pick four separate patches and work much harder. In fact, Tim got the tractor and bush-hogged an opening in a thicket so we could get to enough to cook up a double recipe of blackberry-peach crisp. It was well worth the effort. We ate dessert first that night before we cooked up a shrimp boil for dinner.
We made some sweet summer memories. More pics coming soon.
And, oh yes. The blackberry-peach crisp? Recipe for that coming up, too.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Sidewalks of New York

"East side, west side, all around the town . . . ." I couldn't help but think of this song as we made our way around the city. When my brother and I were growing up, my Mother entertained us with stories of her childhood, growing up in NLR in the 20's and 30's. One of the stories that made an impression on me was of how she and her sister, Ordell, took dance lessons when they were little girls. "East side, west side, all around the town," she would sing. "The tots sang ring-a-rosy, London Bridge is falling down. Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke, tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York." Then to illustrate how she and Ordell tap-danced to the song, she would execute a few steps right there on the hardwood floor of our living room. My brother and I were delighted! The thought of our mother ever tap-dancing sent us into fits of giggles.

Well, we certainly pounded the sidewalks of New York. Thank goodness for my Propet walking sandals! I was able to keep up with the best of them.

Eating, shopping, seeing the sights, and people-watching. That about sums up our time in the city. We didn't make a lot of pictures. Here's a few.
Times Square

Below is a picture of the exterior of the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. On this visit to the city, I wanted to see something we had not seen before. I learned about the Tenement Museum online, and we were not disappointed. In fact, we would probably go back again. This museum picks up where Ellis Island leaves off. If you loved the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you would enjoy this museum. As we climbed the staircase in the tenement we toured, I could just imagine Francie's mother, Kitty Nolan, on her knees, scrubbing the stairs.
There were several tours available. The one we took followed a German immigrant family who lived in the building beginning in 1863 and an Italian family who lived there in the early 20th century. Our guide showed us photos of the original families and their descendants today, copies of original lease records, and all manner of drawings and other material that helped us to imagine life in those tenements where we were standing.
The apartments were tiny: 325 square feet that included a kitchen, a bedroom, and a room overlooking the street that was used for living during the day and sleeping at night.
Our guide, a twenty-something young lady told us that she lives in a tenement apartment that has been updated. There was an building next door to the museum that had an apartment for rent. The floor plan was identical to the building we toured. The rental for 325 square feet? $2200/month!
The museum also had a great gift shop with lots of books. I came away with a couple of good ones.
Go here if you want to learn more about the Tenement Museum and the immigrant experience. (Hmm. The link does not appear to be working. Not sure what's up. The url is : tenement.org.)

We really wanted to go back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; it has been years since we've been there. We enjoyed it so much before; I think we could stay for a week. But, we simply could not do everything we had planned.

My favorite meal was at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Times Square. The sea bass just about melted in my mouth. John, a Sean Hannity fan (okay, we're all Sean Hannity fans), hoped to see Sean at Ruth's Chris. Our waitress assured us that yes, he does indeed dine there.

My favorite shopping? Actually it was for Tim. We came upon a 50% off sale at Jos. A. Banks. And we stocked up. Poor Tim. Between working most of the time, taking little time to shop for himself and John invading his closet, his wardrobe gets pretty raggedy. He came away with some great shirts, pants, ties, and shoes. Although last Sunday, John flipped his tie at me, smiled, and said, "How do you like this tie?" He had already been in his dad's closet, carting away who knows what all!

By the afternoon of the third day, we were all ready to go. Even John, who on the first day declared that he would love to live in NYC, had had enough of the noise and rush in the city that never sleeps. So, we got in our car and headed out through the busy streets for Pequannock, NJ, where Tim's sister and her family live. Tim's dad and stepmom were already there, in anticipation of Scott's graduation. It would be good to see Tim's family again.