My first trip to NYC and the Armory Show of 1913

After years of dreaming. But not REALLY dreaming. Not REALLY letting myself imagine that I could travel to NYC, I FINALLY was going. With my friend. She stayed with a pal of hers who lived in an apartment above what used to be the French restaurant Lutece on E.50th St. I was thirty odd blocks further north on E87th St. staying with a friend that I worked with when I lived in Cape Town.
   
It was August and I remember that it was a VERY typical August in NYC. Blazing hot. Humid. All sorts of interesting smells. I learned not to step in ANY liquid on the sidewalk.
   
I remember it feeling very familiar. Surprisingly familiar. But that's a common feeling for a first time traveller to NYC - we see SO much of it in movies and television that it DOES look familiar.
   
One day we split up and I went wandering around. A historical walking tour was on the agenda. You see, no matter what I was studying at university, I ALWAYS squeezed in as many history courses as I could. That crazy tension between what was practical and what I loved was well entrenched. I'd study something conservative to earn a living (good working class girl that I was) AND I'd immerse myself in history and music and art classes too.
   
I got to the meeting place early and rather than wait there I walked around the neighbourhood. I turned a corner here. Turned a corner there. Bumped into a big building. A big building that looked kind of familiar. When I saw the sign I was SOOOOO ridiculously excited that I squealed. On 26th and Lex. 
    
It was an armory. Not just ANY armory - THE armory. The armory of the Armory Show of 1913. The Armory Show that introduced modern art to New York and North America. The show that displayed 1,300 paintings, sculptures, and decorative works by over 300 avant-garde European and American artists. Impressionist, Fauvist, and Cubist works.  
Think about it - for people then art was this:
And the Armory Show brought you this:
Can you even BEGIN to imagine what that would have been like? I mean, REALLY imagine. Wanna see more of what was there? Look over here. Some more background information here.
   
And THE best part. For me at least. The best part today is that The New York Historical Society is mounting a show on the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show in 2013. I'll be there. You KNOW I'll be there. A meet up perhaps?
    

Family Thanksgiving - City girl hits the country

We celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving on the first Monday in October. Although you know me primarily as a city mouse with my love for all things big city (NYC I'm looking at YOU), I am a country mouse too. It's a yin and yang thing. And that country mouse was quite satisfied celebrating Thanksgiving with my extended family on a prairie farm two hours from the nearest small city.

I know, me with cows and chickens and hay and all that - I'm full of surprises over here. Just when you think you've got me figured out...

We had the old farm dog whose idiosyncracies are happily tolerated. He's earned it.

country dog farm

And the new dog who's just a bit on the rambunctious side as they tend to be as teenagers.

country dog farm dalmation

You could feel the chill in the air in the evening but the sweet peas were still blooming.

sweet pea garden farm

Although the squirrels got most of them, there were apples to snack on.

apple tree farm

The chickens happily laid eggs every day.

chickens farm coop eggs laying

And the oldest cow in the herd was happy too. She's 17 years old.

cow farm

Of course there was a fabulous turkey dinner made by my sister.

turkey dinner thanksgiving

And the girl with her cousins. She has four of them all within a year or two in age. Thanksgiving weekend they were doing what the girl loves best - being free range. The farmhouse door slammed shut as they ran out to play. There was hide and seek after dark with flashlights and tag during the day in the hay bales. Had to build a fort there too. 

hay bales play

And tossing rocks off the bridge. Always that. The most, the furthest, the highest.

play bridge rocks throwing

But the best part. THE best part. The part that got me all choked up. That part was seeing the girl's skinned knee being fixed up by her aunties. Seeing her being fussed over by family was THE sweetest part of Thanksgiving weekend. And that is what I am thankful for this year.

How about you?

What to Wear to a Film Festival

I have this down to a fine art - what to wear and what to carry. I know - it's obsessive! I THINK about this stuff - a LOT. It's my fave time of year and I'll be damned if I'm going to mess up even a SECOND of it by not being prepared. So here we go.

With four to five movies a day, some days in completely different venues all over the city, there isn't much time for anything else but watch the movie, listen to the Q & A and then zoom out to get to the next one. My days would start at about 7:30am when I'd grab breakfast, preferably a substantial one as I wouldn't be eating again til early that evening. No time. Movie, movie, movie, movie, eat, movie. Then back in the hotel ready to sleep by about midnight.

So you REALLY need to be self sufficient and ready for anything. But you are on foot, taking the subway or cabs so you can't carry around too much. Standing in line to wait to get into the theater, you don't want to be dragging around a large bag. And if you are carrying a coffee, you need a hand free.

This is what I brought with me:

  • E-reader for line-ups when there was no one to chat too. This was not THAT likely as I've had some of THE best conversations with other TIFF goers.
  • book light while waiting IN the theatre before the movie
  • tickets of course. One year at TIFF I was 7 months pregnant with the girl. Pregnancy brain ensued as I threw out ALL my tickets along with a napkin. Smooches to TIFF staff who reprinted them all without any question.
  • journal and pen. I'm in the midst of the Pathfinders course by Chookoloonks - need paper and pen for morning pages AND notes/quotes from movies I am seeing. And whatever pops into my head.
  • toothbrush and paste. Obviously - I am out for 17 hours straight. 
  • Kleenex

And an umbrella - a small one to save space. One year I DIDN'T have one and while I was watching a film, it began to pour. No time to get one. No cabs to be found. Me running down the street being splashed with gutter water by buses and cars. Drenched. Squishy shoe drenched. Wonder why no one wanted to sit by me once I dried off during my next movie? More than a little whiffy and no time to change.

You wil die, I tell you, DIE if you are without comfortable shoes. I might have been sitting for 5 movies (10 hours at least) but when I wasn't sitting, I was standing - in lines, for the subway, for coffee. They are looking a little worse for wear but they served me well.

Clothes - fall in Toronto can still be hot and humid. Natural fabrics that can breathe and styles that are comfortable. JCrew cotton tunic with a leather belt over leggings.

Muji cotton jersy tunics - cap sleaves and sleeveless - over leggings or jeans.

Muji cotton raglan sleeved top.

James Perse leggings and Gap jeans alternated over six days.

And in case it gets chilly at night, a cotton sweater from Anthropologie.

Did I have any accessories? I DID bring some jewellry - a few necklaces and such. But I didn't wear much of it. And it all can squeeze into a carryon to save MORE time at the airport. That's it for six days away.

Goodbye to Summer

Summer is done. Summer 2012. But before I say goodbye, I wanted to share with you my favourite images from my favourite time this past summer - my favourite time every summer - the cottage.

Two hours out of Toronto on an island in a lake. Rustic. Indoor plumbing but an outdoor shower. 

I love the simplicity of cottage life. Get up and throw on a bathing suit. No clocks. No to-do's. No deadlines. Eat when you are hungry. Swim. Waterski. Wakeboard. Read. Explore. Nap. Swim some more.

cottage kawarthas

Of course you must have s'mores! 

cottage kawarthas

And a nap or two in the Muskoka room (screened porch).

cottage kawarthas

cottage kawarthas

cottage kawarthas

The girl may love rustic and the outdoors but you still need a bit of glitter.

cottage kawarthas

cottage kawarthas

And more of that seasonal eating.

cottage kawarthas

cottage kawarthas

Cottaging is great with kids, especially city kids. The girl goes free range. And since we were on an island, she had the run of the place. In her words, she would often go "adventuring". cottage kawarthas

We may have sold our old cottage but we kept our boat. Smooches to you for all the fun waterskiing and wakeboarding.

cottage kawarthas

And huge kudos to the girl who learned how to waterski. She was pretty thrilled. But although she wants to keep up with me, she MIGHT wanna wait another year or two before trying to slalom ski. Just thinkin'...

cottage kawarthas

Do you get away in the summer? Where do you go and how do you do it? What was your favourite memory from this past summer?

I am off to TIFF - Toronto International Film Festival

Am I ever at home? Between Hawaii and ALT Summit and LA and NYC and the cottage and visiting the folks and ALTNYC I have been the queen of travel this year. Craziness!

And now it's time for TIFF - the Toronto International Film Festival.

It's my favourite time of year. I won't go into the administrivia and strategizing involved from late June when the ticket packages went on sale to late August when the catalogue of films was delivered by courier to my home to the festival itself in September but let's just say that I am REALLY excited to be doing this.

I'll be seeing 19 movies in 4 1/2 days. Yup. Gotta squeeze 'em in. Lots of Scandinavian flicks. Fave Danish director Susanne Bier and Danish actress Paprika Steen (Inward Facing Girl, she was in Celebration) plus Czech director Jan Hrebejk

Leaving Thursday and coming home Tuesday. A little bitter that I won't see my boyfriend Colin Firth but what can you do. (I REALLY don't have to link to Colin Firth, right?).

That'll be me with the backpack and the bottled water and the trail mix rushing between theaters all over Toronto. With comfortable shoes of course. And sitting on the left side near the front of the theater - always that spot.

Did I tell you that I love this? Smooches to TIFF - you are THE best film festival anywhere with THE best film audiences. Go read Dor Dotson's charming blog to find out why.

For those of you also going, what are you seeing? And if you aren't going, ever been to a film festival? Ever watch a foreign film? Why or why not? Need some recommendations to get started? Something accessible to dip your toes in the waters of foreign film?

August Break - NYC

You never know who you'll see walking down 5th Avenue in NYC. Saw this guy at the end of June and lo and behold, saw him again in August in another 'hood when I was back for ALTNYC. Everybody's making their mark in the Big Apple. HE'S even inspiring.

I suppose TECHNICALLY this should be the LAST August Break post (still time for you to take part at least ONCE) but I don't feel like summer is REALLY over til the girl is in grade 2. That'll be next Wednesday at 8:25am sharp.

In between now and then it's a long weekend with another trip to the fair (pig races seen, more rollercoasters on order). And coffee with the Ravenna Girls (huzzah for bloggers getting together in the meat world). A hike or two, some biking on the seawall with the girl and her new bike. The usual weekend-y activities around here.

Add in more than a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad. Started it last night. If it wasn't for the girl, we'd be watching it non-stop all weekend long. I suppose that makes here our Breaking Bad sponsor.

And just in case you don't believe me about the pig races, here you go.