Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Big Apple, Part IV

We love the "Fearless Girl" sculpture.  She drew
more crowds than the Wall Street bull.
Some people say we're impulsive; others say we're spontaneous.  They're all correct.  On a whim, after reading a New York Times article about Renee Fleming planning to go out on top as an opera star in Der Rosenkavalier, we bought tickets and booked a flight to the Big Apple.  We weren't disappointed.  They do opera BIG in the Big Apple!

Big Night at Lincoln Center

Chandeliers at the Met

We stayed with Feruza, our "Third Daughter" ever since she was an Uzbek exchange student with us 2002-03.  She's now a proud US citizen and a nurse at Cornell NY Presbyterian, enjoying the city life in the Upper East Side, close to Central Park.  Hanging out with her was the highlight of the trip.

We've been to New York together about four times, and each time we try to do something different. What's new this time?  The Ground Zero Memorial, the top of the WTC on a beautiful day, the Fearless Girl sculpture on Wall Street, exploring Brooklyn Heights after walking the Brooklyn Bridge, a self-guided  walking tour of Harlem, Columbia University, and an audio tour of the magnificent Grand Central Station. 
Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Heights

The famous Apollo
in Harlem

Residential street in Brooklyn
We also took in some favorites:  Central Park in full spring bloom, a favorite South Indian restaurant, Sotheby's, and the gastronomic sensory overload of Eataly.     Why Sotheby's, you ask?  Its free and a great place to see a lot of mostly modern art and jewels up for auction, including some well-know pieces.  This time we saw some Picasso, Chagall, and Andy Warhol prints.  We also got to observe an auction in progress, and saw diamond earrings go for over $1 million. Unlike the booze-fueled, festive and high-energy  atmosphere of the charity auctions we attend, this was pretty mellow.

Inside Grand Central
Grand Central deserves some mention. Over 750,000 people pass through it each day.   Completed in 1913 and restored in 1998, it's a beautiful engineering marvel rich with history. It's the world's largest train terminal, with 45 track platforms and 63 tracks.  It has two times more steel than the Eiffel Tower.  It has one of the deepest basements in NY, more than 10 stories deep, 90 feet below sea level.  The dirt and rock was used for fill at Ellis Island.  In terms of income per square footage, the terminal is the most successful shopping center in the US, grossing over $150 million per year.  For some beautiful photos and fascinating info, check out this link.

New York is going bonkers with new construction.  Cranes, jackhammers, scaffolding, and pedestrian detours are everywhere.  This was especially evident in Harlem, which like parts of Portland, is undergoing a lot of gentrification.  It's a city of high energy, noise, and diversity.  That's exciting.  But it also takes a lot of money to live there.  We're glad to be back home to the verdant and quiet Willamette Valley!

In other news...
Ron turned the corner about five weeks ago and has fully recovered from his stomach surgery last October, except for a few minor pangs in weird places now and then.  His strength and endurance are above where he was before the event.  Unfortunately, he's developing a major rotator cuff problem. And Kathy has her aches and pains, too.  That's part of mid-life adventures, for better or worse.  

In early February Ron celebrated younger brother Mark's  60th birthday in Las Vegas with "The Bro's."  They had a good time, but not the energy as they did for Neal's 50th in 2009.  
The Bro's Mark, Ron, Joe, & Neal with
Cousin Vicki & her husband Bob (center)

Ron's New Toy

As part of his 66th birthday present he bought an electronic drum set and has started taking weekly lessons.  "It's challenging, but fun," he reports with ringing ears and a sore shoulder.

Kathy joined the board of the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund--a nonprofit established after a Salem Peace Corps Volunteer died from a bicycle accident in Zambia in 2000.  Her parents created the nonprofit, which has built schools and funded women's college scholarships in the village of Lumwana, Zambia.  Kathy has also been more involved in dealing with her 92-year old mother in nearby Dallas, OR, and serves as head of Technology, Webmaster, and Investment Committee chair at Assistance League of Salem-Keizer.  

Spring is here in all its Oregon glory, and we're looking forward to taking our Airstream on the road to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival next week.  Then Ron flies to Denver for his nephew's college graduation.  Then Shanti's boyfriend's parents from Australia arrive.  Speaking of Shanti, she just received her British citizenship!
Shanti, our dual citizen

We're very happy for her.  Originally it was so that she could secure her employment options anywhere in the UK and the EU, but now with Brexit, the EU options are fading.  We raised our daughters to be like the Fearless Girl sculpture on Wall Street and to be global citizens, so we're proud of Shanti for following her own path.  But deep down, we feel a pang that she may never come back to the States, let alone Oregon.  She and Alan are shopping for a flat in London.

Skyler turned 30 and joined an 'adult' gymnastics league in Boston as one of the older members, competing in everything but the vault.  So far, she's mostly injury free and just competed in a national meet in Cincinnati. She's loving it!

Lots of good things are in the works for this year and beyond, but we'll talk about them as they happen in future blogs.  And those are just the things we have planned.  Most likely some spontaneous and impulsive things will crop up.  The always do.  Stay tuned.