Week 4: Wednesday 3rd to Tuesday 9th May

Wednesday 3rd May was the 15th Anniversary of my meeting Alfie for the first time in Crickhowell so I marked it with a Facebook Post. I miss him more than ever. One of my favourite photos of him was taken 4 years ago, at the age of 11 in Bayhead, New Jersey, standing in his inimitable majestic style. I do feel blessed that this very special being was my loving and faithful companion for nearly 15 years.



We took Ellie-dog for a check-up to the vet and it was discovered she has a tick-born disease (so we have to give her antibiotics for the next 28 days, bless) – Interestingly, her vet comes from Kazakhstan.

At 5,  Debbie and I set off on the bus to take her to the 92nd street ‘Y’ for her music school with other seeing-impaired people. While she was there for 2 hours I went  to Central Park to walk around the huge reservoir and lake.

Later on that evening, I started to listen to Anderson Cooper’s (he is such a good guy and has 2 adorable boys) podcasts on grief. The one about his relationship with his nanny made me cry. Interesting, after Alfie had his stroke I referred to what I was living with was “Anticipatory Grief” – a term I just ‘invented’ for myself. It seems other people use the expression as well! – This is the link: https://www.cnn.com/audio/podcasts/all-there-is-with-anderson-cooper/episodes/73c062a8-cc0f-475b-8a09-af2c001b85fc

On Thursdays Stella – a very hyper-active woman from Guatemala, comes to clean Debbie’s apartment so while she sped around the place we went for a walk in Central Park to listen again to the birds.

The pianist at the Julliard was amazing this evening (Ying Li playing Ravel, Strauss and Prokofiev) – watching her hands fly across the keyboard was like observing spiders on speed! Later, we went for another long walk around the area and said hello to more dogs.

Every first weekend of May, the Municipal Arts Society holds “Jane’s Walks” in the 5 boroughs of New York.

Jane Jacobs  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Jacobs ) was very influential with regards to urban planning and New Yorkers have a lot to thank her for – notably preventing the construction of roads that would have had a very deleterious effect on the urban environment of New York City.

I have participated in several of these walks in the past and they are always an opportunity to visit places in NYC that you would not normally see.

Friday morning I met a large group who, like me, were keen to go on the “Harlem Bridges Walk” between Harlem and the Bronx – a very noisy environment with quite a lot of gentrification taking place – luxury apartments going up on the waterfront all over the place.

We started at the Third Avenue bridge then back over the Madison Avenue Bridge to the 145th Street Bridge and finally zigged and zagged over the Macombs Dam Bridge. 

It was a long and exhausting experience but very interesting and at one bridge I suddenly came across the “International Hip Hop Museum”.

And we walked near to the Yankee Stadium as well.

After the walk, I met Beverly for a coffee in “Tavern to Go” and then returned to Claremont Avenue and the Manhattan School of Music “MSM Jazz Orchestra Celebrates Jazz from South Africa.” The talented musicians from both the US and South Africa played music from Hugh Masekela, amongst others.

On Saturday at 11 a.m. I went on a walk around NoHo past the Public Theater (ex-Astor Library), Cooper Union, Colonnade Row (1834’s most fashionable townhouses in New York City , and still standing),

the Merchant’s House Museum (a marvelous Federal townhouse from 1834), Elizabeth Blackwell’s first-ever hospital for only women, and Louis Sullivan’s only skyscraper in the city – as well as the latest local skyscraper, IBM’s worldwide headquarters for its Watson artificial intelligence program.

All were on or next to Lafayette St.

We also saw the 1906 Silk building’s triplex condos, recently home to the guide himself (Diane Keaton rented it before he bought it) as well as Keith Richards, Brittany Spears, and Fran Liebowitz, which is right on Lafayette Street and formerly the site of Tower Records flagship store.

Finally, we walked to the walk to the studios of Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Rauschenberg, and Basquiat – very unprepossessing buildings that you would never guess had housed such eminent artists!

At 3.00 was the Washington Heights walk: This area is the naturally highest topographic neighborhood in Manhattan, led by a long-time resident and licensed NYC tour guide. The sites included the site of the Battle of Fort Washington, locations used in the film In The Heights, and the United Palace theater (where the guide gave us a brilliant tip of how to get free tickets which I availed myself of later – see later blogs)

We went past the building where Lin Manuel Miranda lives – he is very active in the areaand then to Highbridge Park and looked over to the former aqueduct “the Highbridge” finishing with the Morris-Jumel Mansion and the Audubon Ballroom.

Later on, we enjoyed the very talented pianist Audrey Park playing  Grieg, Chausson, Tchaikovsky and Hubay at the Juilliard. It was a lovely sunny evening so afterwards we walked in Riverside Park.

Sunday’s Jane’s walk was a downtown walk about the women honored with historical markers and statues below Chambers Street.

We discovered suffragists, patriots, Nobel Prize winners, sport champions, adventurers, saints and royalty Beverly joined me for the tour and afterwards we sat on the waterfront at South Ferry.                         

Later on we attended “An Evening of Operatic Ensembles” at the Manhattan School of Music, with various singers and pianists doing snippets from Mozart, Berlioz, Britten, Bellini, Weil, Puccini, Strauss, Bizet, Even Mack, Handel, Rossini and Puccini. The programme set out the concept around each piece and was highly enjoyable.

After the performances we had a long walk around the Campus of Columbia University which is a 2 minute walk from Debbie’s apartment. The area around her apartment is lovely.

At lunchtime on Monday I finally met Tom and his new Seeing Eye dog Xenia, after 4 years. She is a sweet beige lab and looks very like his previous dog, the adorable Tanner, who passed away last year at 14.

We enjoyed coffee and cake at “Pain Quotidien” at the boat lake (for model boats) in Central Park, followed by a lovely walk around that area of Central Park.

It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to discover in Central Park – and the large team of gardeners are always re-inventing different corners.

I took the M40 bus back to meet Debbie and take her and Ellie to the dog park so that Ellie could enjoy some “off leash” time and make some friends. As a Seeing Eye dog her life is quite a serious one, bless her.

Later on, we went to the Juilliard to watch Namisa Sun (what a beautiful name!) play Boccherini, Beethoven and Franck on the cello. the music was enthralling and she was variously joined by a second cello and a pianist.

On Tuesday, Tom was singing at “The Local” in Long Island City, Queens, so I joined him and his friends there.

I always get so confused walking there from the subway station but a lovely NYC cop walked me to the right direction and on the way back I followed a sweet girl I bumped into on the street.

There were various other performers too and I enjoyed a very English cuppa tea and a muffin (being a non drinker who doesn’t like sugary drinks and they didn’t have soda water…)

Here, I feel like posting a couple of subway photos – me at 116th waiting for the 1 train and a couple of New York’s finest

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