holiday greetings

Oh my…hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner!  I have so much to process from my trip to Myanmar aka Burma.  Such a profound impact on me this time around.  There’s so much I want to share with you…so much that just came together for me during this trip…

So over the next couple of weeks (with a couple of exceptions – albeit short ones!)… I’ll be a little silent…thinking…pondering…finalizing my thoughts for 2015…

For the moment…I’m super excited to be attending Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice event tonight at New York’s greatest cathedral…the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine….and according to PaulThe Sun Gong has been rigged from the hundred-foot vault; the stages and the lighting trusses are up; the Solstice Tree is adorned with its hundreds of gongs, bells and chimes. And Danny Rivera has arrived from Puerto Rico to thrill us with his soulful and sunny voice.  Not to forget…Theresa Thomason the great gospel singer of all time…love her.

The theme for the winter solstice is renewal...which is why I choose the winter solstice as my New Year’s celebration…a turning point at year’s end…an opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed, a time for new beginnings…

So here’s to new beginnings…

to coming together…

with so much gratitude…

If you’re receiving this update and do not see the showcased image I’ve chosen…please just head on over to the blog to see…this image says so much about my time in Myanmar…and a preview of what’s to come…

Wishing you a wonderful holiday!

 

déjà vu

It’s time to pack the sunglasses…leave the big city…and head to Myanmar!

<and yes…déjà vu…>

Now why do I want to return to a country that I just visited a year ago?  Well last year’s trip was a guided “taste” of Myanmar, not to mention…way too many visits to pagodas.  And as you can see from the image below…change is happening.  And one can only imagine what even a year will bring, much less several.

Everyone knows…given time…Myanmar will change.

When purity is no longer, when it gets bulldozed by the wealthy and changed by our western ways…

We’ll see what this visit brings…but the beauty…the people…the culture…lures me back…yep…one year later.

 

Isle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)

inle lake, myanmar

 

I can’t wait to wander around amongst the stupas in Bagan

no guide…no agenda…

just to soak it all in…

morning…evening…rain or shine…

Bagan, Myanmar

bagan, myanmar

 

I can’t wait to return and have dinner again at the restaurant that overlooks the Irrawaddy River

Bagan, Myanmar

 

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I can’t wait to discover a new area…Kalaw

and trek through orange and tea plantations for a couple of days…

and spend a little time at the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp

including a home stay for a night…

 ~~~

And I can’t wait to get up early and capture the mist and fog on Inle Lake

this time with my tripod…and a few other ideas I have…

inle lake princess

 

Of course I hope to share some images along the way…if the internet connection behaves.  So this trip I’m also using Instagram to give you a taste of what’s happening during the next 14 days too!

So yes…after all this time..I finally joined Instagram!  Yeah!  I hope you’ll join me along the way.  If you aren’t an Instagram subscriber, you can just click on the Instagram button at the top of my home page.  Easy peasy!

Look for me on Instagramthegothamgirl

So looking forward to sharing my trip with you…

Let the journey begin…

mother pigeon

This is why I ❤️ my city!

~~~

“Look at pigeons the same way that you would look at a rose, or a bed of wild flowers.  

They are beautiful and unique with each one being different from the rest.”

~~~

Meet Tina…aka mother pigeon.

She makes soft sculpture pigeons.

I found her in Washington Square Park.

mother pigeon

mother pigeon

mother pigeon

mother pigeon

Learn more about why she chose pigeons and the material she uses at www.motherpigeon.com

So adorable…can’t wait to see her and her flock again!

travel magic

~~~

Sometimes,

flying feels too godlike to be attained by man.

Sometimes,

the world from above seems too beautiful,

too wonderful,

too distant for human eyes to see.

— Charles A. Lindbergh

~~~

 

I looked out the window of the plane, the sun setting, revealing the most incredible sight…

  The shadows of the high-rises…the golden hour…

not believing my eyes…

that very special moment when it’s unlikely it’ll ever be witnessed the same again…

Craig_20141124_0001

 

and looking back over Manhattan as we continued to ascend…was breathtaking…

manhattan from the air

 

And then I looked around the interior of the small plane…

and

no one

not one person

looked out their window.

Buried heads.

Amazing…

…and then to see the Mill Mountain Star shining as we descended into the Roanoke Valley of Virginia…

star city of the south, roanoke, Virginia

 

And after a wonderful week with my family…there was the return to my city…

As we approached LaGuardia airport, I just couldn’t get my bearings…

which was strange because I’d flown this route so many times…

a bridge came into the picture…but I couldn’t figure out which one…

flying over new york city

and then another…

flying into La Guardia at night NYC

and then I realized…we were flying directly over Manhattan…right up the middle of the island…

as if I could reach out and touch the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, among many others…

I wanted to shout!

buried heads…look out the window!

I was in such awe that I didn’t bother trying to capture it…

knowing it was the iPhone, handheld and challenging lighting…

I decided to stop focusing on capturing the moment and just enjoy it.

Being totally in the moment…a minute or so of total ecstasy…

of seeing my city from above.

~~~

rain in niece

And the magic continues…a lovely rain during the night to wash off the grime…followed with a 68 degree day!  And now?  Thoughts of snow…I’m already imagining waking up very early and heading to the North Woods of Central Park on Thanksgiving Day!  Untouched snow…oh how I’ve been waiting for this moment for over five years now! You see…I’m never here in my city when it snows!  So here’s a good chance, hopefully!  Bring it on!!  Let the magic continue!

<and yes…if you can’t tell…I am a touch excited about the winter storm watch with a possibility of some snow!>

a real treat

hard tack candy

 

For as long as I can remember, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, purchasing hard tack candy has been a tradition in my family.  What’s hard tack candy?  Just think of pounds of sugar, bottles of corn syrup, scented oils and various flavorings.

Since the holidays are just around the corner, the timing of my visit to the farm couldn’t have been better to drop by the Jamison’s Orchard Farm Market in the neighborhood…in hopes of purchasing some of that candy.

As soon as we opened the door to this adorable tiny market, the aroma of pure sweetness just filled the air.  “What is that amazing smell?”   “Oh, they’re making candy in the back room…head on back and take a peek!”  Well that took very little convincing, so my mom and I made a beeline to the back of the store.

After all of the years of enjoying this candy, I’d never seen it made.  So what a treat to now have the opportunity to see first hand from beginning to end the entire process.  Oh how I wish I had my camera, but at least I had my iPhone.  <whew!>

 ~~~

First, the boiling mixture is removed from the stove and poured on a marble table top…

hard tack candy making

 

Then flavoring and scented oils are added…

making hard tack candy

 

Timing is everything in this process…every second counts…

making hard tack candy

 

As the candy begins to cool,

it’s cut into long pieces and then distributed on the confectionary sugar covered table.

making hard tack candy

 

Then everyone begins to cut before the candy hardens…

making hard tack candy

 

making hard tack candy

 

A little about the Jamison’s Orchard Farm Market…Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains here in Virginia, the Jamison farm has been in operation since 1875.  Amazing to think that as early as 1900, the family was shipping apples in barrels to England.  Ever since, their livelihood has been based on the sales of apples, peaches, vegetables, apple butter, and many of items to numerous to mention…much like the farm that I grew up on.  Love the fact that their honeybees work overtime by not only pollinating their orchards, but also supplying that luscious golden mountain honey.  My daddy grew up with the Jamison family…you see my grandparents were old German Baptist Brethren too…a religious movement that began in the 1700’s in Germany…

Hmm…that reminds me…with my still life photography project documenting my family/travel treasures, I need to pull out my grandmother’s working bonnet!  I’m sure you’ll see that at some point in the future!

I can’t say thank you enough for all of your visits and comments.  I so enjoy sharing my experiences!

the city life

Back in the 80’s when I put my Roanoke, Virginia home on the market to make the move out west to Arizona, the house sold almost immediately…necessitating an interim move.  I chose the downtown area of Roanoke for that short amount of time as “city” life had always been an attraction to me.  So when I return to visit my family, I try to carve out a little time for a photo walk around downtown area just to soak in the “old” days…always enjoying the old with anything new.

 

The Taubman Museum is always a draw…but normally I find the building more interesting than many of the current exhibits…such as the stairs from the second floor to the main lobby area as shown below.   My feelings still remain the same as when I blogged about the museum back in 2012, I love the architecture of the museum surrounded by the buildings from back in the late 1800’s.

 

steps in the Taubman Museum in Roanoke VA

 

Something new this visit…the mural painted by Scott “Toobz” Noel…a self-taught artist who is also challenged from being color blind. He presents his fascination with horses and ancient cave paintings with his abstracted view of galloping horses merging into one massive mythical horse…just beautiful…

 

My visit to the farm is coming to a close…and I’ll be heading back to my city tomorrow, but I must share one more event. They say “timing is everything” and it certainly was…so stay tuned for my next posting!  Enjoy your weekend!

 

creating with mom

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My main goal for trying still photography has been to document those special treasures handed down in my family, as well as items collected from my travels…and since I’m on the farm and spending quality time with mom…it’s the perfect time to begin creating…

For the past 50 years my mom has baked cakes (who knows how many) in this tube cake pan…pound cakes, fruit cakes, pineapple upside down cakes, and angel food (sponge) cakes…all made from scratch.  Now this tube cake pan is a real treasure, right?

 

 

My favorite cake?  Pound cake…especially the ones that have the real crispy toppings…<omg yum>

And yes…see that little piece of crispy that is no longer in the upper left hand corner?  Yep…that was me.  <shhhh>

mom's pound cake

Warning:  This is definitely not diet friendly…but just in case…here’s mom’s recipe…<smile>

2 sticks of butter                    1 cup of milk

             1/2 cup of solid vegetable shortening                    3 cups of plain flour      3 cups of sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

6 large eggs                             1/2 tsp. baking powder         1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter, solid vegetable shortening such as Crisco, and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add milk.  Combine flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add vanilla.  Mix well and pour into greased and floured tube pan.  Bake one hour and 15 minutes at 325 degrees.  Let cool for an hour before removing…

Now we’re off to make biscuits…

or cornbread…

or pumpkin pies!

 

bryant park holiday market

Ice skating…chess…bocci ball…lunch al fresco and shopping!   Bryant Park has it all and even more inviting on a 65 degree day as we head into winter.  I love the outdoor holiday markets that spring up all over New York City this time of year.  Rows and rows of small unique shops offering something for everybody, whether a gift for yourself <love those> or anyone on your Christmas and Hanukkah list.  This isn’t your typical mall experience though…we’re talking small businesses with unique products.  Businesses that are local and from all over the world…which brings me to a favorite…

Meet Jordan below…working at No Chewing Allowed where you’ll find the best chocolate fix ever.  Made in France for three quarters of a century…carrying on the roots of the traditional French Truffle…passed on from generation to generation…

Jordan at Bryant Park - No chewing allowed

This is what I love about a business…bringing us the best of the best from the generations before us and there is no doubt…No Chewing Allowed delivers.  That rich creamy feel on the tongue…just letting it melt in your mouth.  As my father would always say…so good it’s sinful!   Oh, and if you chew…you’re definitely missing out on the experience!

No Chewing Allowed in Bryant Park niece

 Besides the unique small shops…it’s the people that hang out here that makes it all so interesting too!

Bryant Park bocci ball

 

playing chess in Bryant Park

 

Bryant Park People

 

Bryant Park in NYC

 

There are many other holiday markets here in the city this time of year…

Columbus Circle…Grand Central…Chelsea Market…to name a few…

which is amazing to think the holidays are just around the corner!

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Heading to the farm and will share more soon!

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the last hoorah of autumn

Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain…

and Friday I head to the farm…

so today was technically my last day of autumn here in my city…

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sharing some last minute captures today…

the last hoorah….

~~~

Autumn in Central Park, NYC

Autumn in New York City Central Park

The Met, NYC

Central Park - Sweden Cottage

Central Park NYC

Central Park Reflection

Autumn in Central Park, NYC

Autumn in Central Park NYC

History Museum in NYC

All captured in Central Park…

with the exception of the last one…as I made my way home…

walking past the American Museum of Natural History

in the hood…

<chat soon>