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It was quite a lovely weekend in Brooklyn last Saturday. Well, not such much the intense heat and humidity but for art lovers and hardware aficionados Saturday’s Crest Hardware Art Show was spectacular. You may remember my post from last summer when I first stumbled upon this gem in my new neighborhood.

Oh how I love to wander around hardware stores. “Limitless ideas of things to be built! New creations to be made! Problems solved! A fix for everything!”, this is what goes on in my mind as I look and gather. So as an artist who often incorporates hardware into her pieces, this art show was a dream come true.

I had a friend who showed his work which was wonderful! From his website, read what the Alchemist has to say about his work – “I incorporate my original abstract designs into found metal objects ranging from old mill saw blades to ocean buoys.” Beautiful, beautiful work!

Many artists are featured in this show and Crest is very clever in hanging and placing pieces of art within the sections where the piece might have gotten some of its elements. Imaginative, surprising and sometimes you just have do a double take to realize that it is art you are looking at, not a functional piece of hardware. The show spills out of the store and into the back garden area. Interspersed among the greenery and flowers you find delightful sculptural works and paintings. During the opening, live bands play, DJs spin and there is food and drinks a plenty.

If you’ve not had a chance to go to this, note that most of these pieces are there through August.

Crest Hardware
558 Metropolitan
(between Lorimer and Union)


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I had the great pleasure of being asked out to Floyd Bennett Field this past week. Now, my interest in getting inside the hangar was just as much based on being a history freak as from reading the Joe Ledger series that has a super secret spy headquarters based at Floyd Bennett Field. If you like intrigue, gutsy heroes, and plots to destroy the world through zombies and vampires, then the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry is definitely for you.

But the truth is, I love old things. I love the smell of the past, the stories hidden, and sense of history layered throughout every inch of anything old. How humbling the sense of life transient and yet, here… here I touch a bit of what came before and what might endure after. Floyd Bennett Field more than lived up to my expectations for these feelings, even if I never did find Joe Ledger’s super secret spy headquarters.

However, walking into Hangar B where volunteers have been creating an aviation museum through the Historical Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP), I immediately felt that sense of wonder you get when you experience something that is bigger than you. Here in front of me an entire hangar filled not only with old planes but other bits of historical military vehicles and aviation paraphernalia. Poking around, taking photos, reading about what I was seeing and simply putting my hands upon these items was a day in history heaven.

Named for naval aviator and Brooklyn resident Floyd Bennett, the first person to fly over the North Pole, the old airport was a point of departure for other record-breaking flights of famous aviators including Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes.

Here’s a bit more historical information from the National Park Service:

A city panel selected Barren Island in Brooklyn as the location for New York’s first municipal airport and it was named Floyd Bennett Field. Floyd Bennett was the naval pilot for Commander Richard E. Byrd’s flight over the North Pole in 1926. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Floyd Bennett Field was dedicated on May 23, 1931. It was rated A-1-A, the highest classification of the Civil Aeronautics Board. It boasted concrete runways, fours hangers that could service the largest aircraft of the day, and an Administration Building that served as a terminal.

New York City found a more convenient location for a municipal airport that was closer to transportation. Municipal Airport #2, now known as LaGuardia Airport, opened in 1939. The city sold Floyd Bennett Field to the U.S. Navy. On June 2, 1941, Naval Air Station New York was dedicated at Floyd Bennett Field.

Floyd Bennett Field’s service didn’t end at the war’s end however. It was redesignated a Naval Air Reserve Training Station in 1946. With the Cold War and the Korea War intensifying the site was again redesignated. This time it became a Naval Air Station within the Naval Air Reserve System. Navy and Marine Aircraft Squadrons called the Field home and reserve units trained on weekends. With the U.S. scaling back the Vietnam War effort, Floyd Bennett Field was no longer needed. In 1971, the U.S. Navy deactivated the Field. Soon thereafter, the National Park Service made the location part of Gateway NRA.

If you’d like to see what types of activities are offered at Floyd Bennett Field today, take a look at the New York Harbor Parks website – urban camping, ecology walks, astronomy and gardening events and kayak trips.

As a biker, I’ve thought about joining my friends on the Climate Ride for the last couple of years but the timing never worked out. Now that I have the time (seeking full-time employment here!), I was asked to join the social media team and do a bit of blogging and photojournalism.

How could I say no?

Five days of being around fellow bike riders who are devoted to the cause of bike advocacy and organizations working toward a sustainable future riding through rolling hills of the eastern coast and gorgeous days of sunshine.

Damn. I wish I were on a bike.

So I as I sit here, picking up this paragraph after being on the road, through those rolling hills, and meeting so many wonderful, wonderful people, I’ve got to say that this has been one of those “life changing experiences”; one you will never forget.

I admit that the days blurred one into the other as we raced along to get ahead of the riders to capture video and photos. It somehow seems weird when you keep referring to Tuesday as Day Four, when during your whole work life Tuesday has always been the second day of the week. And time became an arbitrary measure of shooting off to the next water stop or lunch stop or well, water stop.

But really, the champions for me are the people who set out to raise money so that they can do this ride with 200 people. That’s right, 200 people doing 300 miles in 5 days. I met so many incredible people who ranged in age, gender and location of origin that it blew my mind. From France to Argentina, everyone had come to ride together and raise awareness of global climate change. As Marian Westley from NOAA stated at our first night of speakers in Princeton, “Climate change is very real. Make no doubt about it. Humans are having a negative impact on our environment.” Okay, maybe those weren’t her exact words but I got the gist of it. And she backed it up with research that is being done by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL).

And during our second night Daniel Mira Salama from the Sustainable Development Network at the World Bank showed some very eye opening photos of glaciers that have completely disappeared in the last few years. The glaciers we need to feed our oceans, rivers and streams. The glaciers we need to survive.

And as I walked around, talked with folks and made some awesome videos of people who shared why they ride the Climate Ride trip, I saw my world in whole new light. Not that I’ve been blind to global warming and climate change, but these were brilliant people working in the field, doing research and connecting the dots as they each brought in their unique perspectives. And I just sat, listened and absorbed as much as possible.

It may be that my neural pathways have completely and forever changed because of this.

As we traveled along we spent most of our nights at places like the YMCA or church camps that provided lodging and food for the group. Vegans and vegetarians alike were addressed in the menu planning as well as ways to be carbon neutral with a large group (real dishes that we washed, composting, and corn-based silverware and cups when they were necessary). Most everyone had reusable water bottles and travel mugs for coffee. We recycled whenever we could. We cleaned up after ourselves and respected the environments we were guests in (prayers and keeping kosher when asked).

I met a rocket scientist from NASA who was studying climate change by launching satellites into the atmosphere that will use a laser ranging instrument to measure changes in ice sheet and sea ice thickness, as well as help quantify vegetation carbon sinks around the world. I met a woman who work at Food & Water Watch, an organization that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. That means fighting companies like Monsanto who is the biggest player in genetically modified seeds. I met the founder and Executive Director of Windustry, a non-profit that promotes progressive renewable energy solutions and empowers communities to develop and own wind energy as an environmentally sustainable asset.

And so many more amazing people that I could fill page after page of stories. But I’ll stop here because I want to share some photos and links to videos we took along the way. I’ll let the people share their stories with you. And I hope that you will take the time to listen because there are some beautiful and inspiring ideas coming out of this group.

Be patient with this page loading, lots of great videos, but it takes time to load the page!

Why I Ride: Cyclists Share Their Stories

However for me, two great moments will stand out. The first for me was hopping off a platform to do a zipline, something I had never done before. I admit I was scared; it’s so hard to take that first step! But taking it bit by bit (Oh okay, I’ll put the harness on. Oh, so that’s how the harness hooks to the line!) and with a lot of encouragement from the two guys setting it up, I jumped. What a rush!

And second, as we finished up the ride, we grabbed a couple of bike share bikes that DC has installed and biked the final three miles with the group though DC and to the Reflecting Pool in front of the Capitol. It felt great! Especially with my kid’s pirate helmet on! There were a lot of cheers as we rode through and the rally was energizing. The ride ended on a high note of possibility for a brighter, more sustainable future.

And as I sat that final night in the lounge of my hotel, I had a wonderful conversation with a woman from Ireland who enjoyed my impassioned state and urged me to “find what makes you feel your skin”, and old saying her grandmother once shared with her. And I liked it. What makes me feel my skin? Biking, fighting for the environment and most of all remaining open hearted to positive change for the future.

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Yesterday I was up bright and early to volunteer for the 5 Boro Bike Tour which I was quite excited to do. As an enthusiastic bike rider I had considered biking in the event but this being my first year in NYC, I thought I'd volunteer so I could see how it all works from a ground level. And whoa, did I ever get the ground view of this amazing event.

Here's a little bit of info about the ride from the Bike New York website:
The Tour is co-produced by Bike New York and the New York City Department of Transportation. The event provides participants the unique and fun experience to bike through all five boroughs – a 40 mile, traffic-free ride for 32,000 cyclists. Starting just north of Battery Park, the tour runs up Manhattan, through Central Park, around a brief loop in the Bronx and down to the Queensboro Bridge passing countless New York City icons on the way. After a ride over the Pulaski bridge passing through Brooklyn, riders enjoy an incredible view from the lower deck of the Verrazano Bridge. The tour lands on Staten Island for a lively outdoor Festival, including bike demos, giveaways, games, food, product samples, stretching, massage, photo booths, and official Bike New York merchandise on sale.

Arriving at 6:30am, our group was stationed at Pier 3 along the East River and a short distance from the Brooklyn Bridge. We started our day by setting tables full of energy bars, apples, bananas, pretzels and water to replenish the riders as our rest area was the final rest area before they’d hit Staten Island.

I walked around the area to check out the food tables and watch the band setting up the stage for the day. I was pretty excited at the thought of live music in our area. As word spread through the volunteers, I heard that the first wave of riders would be in our area in about 15 minutes, around 9:30. I walked out to Furman street so that I could snap photos as the riders came in and then I’d return to the rest area to hand out food. But as I stood there with camera in hand, someone asked me if I could stay stationed there and help direct the riders as they came through our area.

So what I ended up doing was standing front and center as wave after wave of bikers passed by and directing them to the right for rest or to keep moving on the left. I’ve got to say that I think this was far better than standing at the pretzel table handing out bags of Utz’s pretzels. This spot was such a great place to be for the day. I was able to cheer the riders on, help them find a place to rest and in general be the first smiling face they saw at our stop.

At the end of the day, hoarse and hitting precarious levels of low blood sugar, I was exhausted and a bit cranky. But you know what made it worth it? The riders. All of those folks who brightened up at my encouraging words of “only 13 miles left!”; those who got off their bikes with wobbly legs, fell, and that I helped up off the ground; and those who grinned widely as they slapped my hand passing. Thank you riders! I felt the shared spirit of the joy biking gives me.

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During the Vernal Equinox we had summer weather that was breathtaking and perfect for a hike along the High Line. Taking some out of town guests we set out to find the line that allows you to hike above the city.

From The High Line website:
The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line works in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park.

I’m simply going to share the photos with you from our walk.

Here's the beginning of the High Line on the southern end, near Gansevoort and Washington streets.

Looking out on the Hudson River

Light peeking through...

Ampitheatre where you can sit and watch the street below.

Amazing and elaborate birdhouse about halfway through the walk.

Volunteers working the path.

End of the line at the northern end, 30th street and 10 Avenue

So what does a girl do upon waking to the first truly warm and sunny spring day in New York City? Why, ride 30 miles after not biking all winter, that’s what you do! I had three, no four, goals for the day. One, see if there was a path along the lower south side of Manhattan that would connect me to the Hudson River Greenway. Two, find the Hudson River Greenway. Three, bike until I found the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. And four, find my way across Midtown to the 34th Street Ferry and ferry back to Greenpoint.

Manhattan view of Williamsburg Bridge.

The answer to goal one is yes. Yes you can bike along the south end of Manhattan and yes you will eventually find your way to the Hudson River Greenway. Is it easy? No. Is it intuitive? No. Is it fast? No. You will get lost and you will not always know which way to go. But that’s okay. Just keep making your way towards the water and yes eventually (about an extra hour) you will find yourself through the milling tourists and busy bee workers, past Battery Park and finally, finally on the Hudson River Greenway. You will need patience but it is so worth it. Goal two, once you get past Chambers Street your world will irrevocably change for the better.

Battery Park area - Statue to welcome immigrants to New York.

Oh my gosh! This Chicago girl found her bike path! The one that would allow me to go 15-18 miles per hour with little to no fear of being hit by a car. Now, hitting pedestrians is another thing all around. But the Chicago Lake Path has trained me well in the art of avoiding pedestrians, dogs, small children running, women pushing carriages and rollerbladers. Once I hit my stride I didn’t slow down until 60th street or so. Snapped some lovely photos of an outdoor art installation which I thoroughly enjoyed.

art in the park

My snack companions.

It was here at the northernmost part of the little park that I came across an old structure which is the 69th Street Transfer Bridge. Constructed in 1911 by the New York Central Railroad to transfer freight cars between the west side railyards and barges that crossed the Hudson River to and from Weehawken, New Jersey. I love a bit of history mixed into my day.

69th Street Transfer Bridge

At this point I debated turning back and heading home. After all, it has been several months since I have done any biking and nearly a year since I have done a nice long 10-20 mile ride. But as I sat there contemplating, I saw a bridge in the distance. Now which bridge is that?, I asked myself. And gave a snort and a laugh as it was the George Washington Bridge and my goal. It seemed far. It seemed too far. How far was it? Could I do it? The only answer was to hop back on the bike and keep peddling.

I biked until the path ran out. A small dirt trail led off towards the river and in the near distance I could see the Little Red Lighthouse. Ah, at least I can grab a photo here I thought. As I rumbled over the dirt and potholes a man started to yell at me. I couldn’t tell if he was speaking a foreign language, was a stroke victim or shouting in some codified zombie speak, but what I could tell is that he did not want me on the dirt path. I cared, but not enough to stop. Plus I found some mica rocks which are very sparkly and pretty. I took my pictures and went back to the end of the paved path. Ah, there I saw that the bike trail continued on the other side of park where the zombie stroke victim was sitting.

Now I was so close to the Little Red Lighthouse that I could taste it. Yay! I arrived! And it is little. Really quite little. What was constructed in 1889 was rebuilt in 1921 as the Jeffrey’s Hook Light to help guide boats on the Hudson at night. It is the only lighthouse on Manhattan island. It is known for its characteristic of one second of light and two seconds of darkness (and includes a horn to sound a warning when there is fog). It stands only 40 feet high; like I said, little. But I had achieved goal three.

Jeffrey's Hook Light (a.k.a Little Red Lighthouse)

Oh God, I was now at 179th street…on the west side of Manhattan, and Brooklyn seemed a long ways away. There was nothing for it but to turn around and head back. I needed to achieve goal four. As I peddled along I realized that it was maybe every 20 streets that would equal a mile. I wish this path would have some signage to help path users understand where they are at but it is sorely lacking. I made it down to about 80th street and decided a break was needed. I grabbed snack of trail mix and water. My body needed the fuel but I had to overcome the inertia of sitting and find 40th street. I decided 40th street would be my best bet to cross Midtown and then I could head south to 34th street and the ferry. I’ve got to say that this was a good plan.

Biking across Manhattan can seem intimidating because of the traffic. But I’m here to tell you that the traffic is the least of your worries. The cabs, cars and trucks are pretty much moving slower than you, but the pedestrians…watch for the pedestrians. To a pedestrian you are not an object to be feared so they will simply step in front of you despite the fact that you have the light. I clanged my little bike bell more on that ride than I have in the whole time that I’ve owned this bike. Finally about the time I hit Park Avenue I could see the glitter of water in the distance. I was almost there.

I hit 1st Avenue and went south to 34th street. Yes, I did have to ride against traffic but there was a bike lane and I rode like nobody’s business. Arriving at the ferry dock, I had a 40 minute wait. Busting out my lunch and more water, I sat and enjoyed the sunshine. It was a glorious day! For me, having water in close proximity is really important. I miss the ocean from when I lived in San Francisco. And Chicago has the lake. Here I sat and watched the traffic of a port city and loved it all. There are these rubber posts next to the dock which say “Marine Guard Rubber Donut” and I confess that the whole 40 minutes I really wanted a donut.

Marine Guard Rubber Donut

The ferry finally arrived and we boarded in an orderly fashion. The ride was quick and sweet. Almost too quick. I really wanted to stay on the boat all day. I’ve decided that I am seafaring gal. My heart lifted, my mind cleared and I felt a smile take over my face. We arrived in Greenpoint and I pushed my bike down the rampway to India street. Now I had to finish the last mile or so. If my legs rebelled at the thought of pedaling again, my butt was downright cantankerous, complaining like an old man with arthritis who suddenly realizes that he has to climb 20 flights of stairs to get home. C’mon on butt! C’mon on legs! Take me home.

I stopped by the Busy Bee and grabbed a steak for my dinner. After a day like today, I deserved it.

East River Ferry

photo courtesy of HERE

Last night was a beautiful night of puppetry at HERE. The magical story of Epyllion told through puppetry, dance, song and ritual is inspired by the fantastical imagery of Magical Realist painter Remedios Varo and the poetry of Rumi.

The creator’s note to the audience tells us that an epyllion is a poem of mythological and erotic themes. In this show, the audience is encouraged to engage and partake of the ritual being offered. Seeing this just after practicing my own Imbolc ritual on Thursday, I couldn’t help but to relate the story unfolding as one that expresses the turning of the wheel, how our seasons flow and life is produced.

Beginning with chalk drawings on the floor around a large turtle puppet, four women scribble furiously and sensuously. Once all drawings are connected, the women stand and perform some basic qi gong, moving and pulling the air around them to cultivate their energies. A puppet of a woman with a lighted belly appears, dancing and swaying, inviting us all to join her.

After this dance, the women grab bowls of lavender scented water and begin to wash themselves, eventually coming into the audience and sharing the water by wiping people’s faces with their wet hands. One woman stays by the turtle, washing away the chalk marks and making great noise by smacking her wet towel upon the floor.

photo courtesy of HERE

At this point, a puppet of a stork flies in and disturbs the dirt with its beak and the women walk through the audience sprinkling dried leaves and seeds upon us. The women do an amazing dance where the hit sacks of flour and it rains down upon them. When they are done with the flour falling, one woman gets on the floor and takes the water and mixes it with the flour, forming a ball of dough which gets planted.

photo courtesy of HERE

Then we are all encouraged to get up and place our own leaves/seeds into the dirt. There is an amazing dirt/root puppet that sits in the dirt and his little arms pull the dirt over the seeds we plant. The singers are singing “planting seeds of change. New beginnings.” in the background. After the planting, another puppet arrives and dances upon the earth. Next a snake comes into the scene and the women make him dance and interact with the little puppet.

photo courtesy of HERE

Finally, after the snake fire dance, the women dig into the earth and bring out a loaf of bread which they break and share with the audience. This draws the show to an end as the women return to the floor and begin another chalk drawing.

Music Master by Rumi

You that love lovers, this is your home. Welcome!

In the midst of making form, love made this form that melts form, with love for the door, soul the vestibule.

Watch the dust grains moving in the light near the window.

Their dance is our dance.

We rarely hear the inward music, but we’re all dancing to it nevertheless,

directed by the one who teaches us, the pure joy of the sun, our music master.

The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it. We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity. We are pain and what cures pain, both. We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

As the balmy winter days come to an end, I was able to slip in one last lovely excursion into Chelsea to meet up with a friend. Hopping off the L train at 8th Ave, I made my way north to 22nd St to have lunch at M Thai. There wasn’t any good reason to go there, no recommendation from a friend or review, I was simply hungry and it had a nice little crowd happening.

Once again, I have to confess that I was too hungry in the moment to think about taking a picture of the food but suffice it to say that it was quite good, if not a bit typical Thai. I had a noodle dish with beef, onions, Thai pickles with a very light brown sauce. The portion was perfect. Not so much that it overwhelmed or left me with take home but enough to fill my belly for a nice long walk before meeting up with my friend.

I think part of the charm for me were the lovely yellow flowers on all of the tables against a backdrop of red.

But the final bit of voyeuristic lush was walking into a dark bathroom only to realize that I was looking out a one-way mirror into the dining area. Ahhh, I had noticed the mirror behind the bar but little did I realize that I would soon be spying on my fellow diners.

Of course, just around the corner on 23rd St. was the famous landmark I had hoped to stumble upon – The Hotel Chelsea.

With a special homage to my music god, Leonard Cohen…

Ah, what a treat we had this weekend in Brooklyn – The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. After a lovely breakfast on Bedford, my man and I took a little stroll over to Havenmayer and N 8th Street. Okay, seriously, I’m not even sure how to write about this experience as it was overwhelmingly too much fun. Every where you looked, something wonderful, extraordinary and transporting awaited your greedy little hands.

So instead of wordy post, I give to you a pictorial rendition of our afternoon in the local gymnasium getting lost in worlds of adventure and fantasy.

peck slip pickle festival

One fine Sunday, my boy and I set off for the Peck Slip Pickle Festival which for a German girl like me is a bit of heaven on earth. Held in the New Amsterdam Market on the East River in lower Manhattan, I felt like I had been transported to one of my favorite cities, San Francisco.

peck ship

But as I walked along, sampling pickled cucumbers, eggs, and various other vegetables, and of course the bits and pieces of breads, olive oils, cheeses, pies, I felt quite distinctly that I am in New York and felt a rush of belonging, of…’this is my home’… and well, it did my soul good, is what it did. And why yes, I do think that is the longest run-on sentence I have ever written.

It’s with a bit of Mennonite snobbery that I confess that most of the pickles I tasted do not taste as good as my Mom’s pickles or any one of my grandmothers’ creations. I make some mean pickles myself which got me to thinking that perhaps I should start my own pickle company. For me, pickles are a delicate balance of vinegar and sugar for the most part, with varying degrees of savory additions -dill, cloves, peppers, etc. The key to a quality pickle too, is the crunch, and over-processing is definitely a no-no.

But enough about pickles, we also sampled a savory pie and a bit of raclette as well. I will say that my belly was full by the day’s end.

All in all it was a beautiful autumn day – the crunch of sweet vinegar pickles in my mouth, my boy’s hand in mine and the ease of feeling at home.

Tara’s Art for Sale


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