Wander: Rainy (or any) Day New York Museum Guide

The other day while walking hand in hand with Soren through the Met I was overcome by how a rainy day at this incredible institution is just a regular aspect of growing up in New York. My favorite, Whitney, spiraling Guggenheim and MoMA are the indoor playgrounds here where we regularly roam and marvel.

But this city is filled with every type of collection – from dinosaurs to sex – so there’s plenty of off-beat or out of the way places worth a visit. My wish is to tour every museum, which would require me to do things like actually explore the Neue Galerie beyond just the cafe (in my defense: the cafe is totally charming).

But we’ve been making a dent in the long list of collections. And if visiting New York  the following museums might not be on your radar, but they should be. More experience than museum, The Tenement Museum walks you through the immigrant stories that shaped New York, and The Cloisters recreates medieval Europe in upper Manhattan.  Exhibit depending, The Brooklyn Museum, Asia Society Museum and Museum of the City of New York are all worth an afternoon stroll. 

 The Park Avenue Armory is transformed several times a year by large-scale or just plain ambitious installations like Ernesto Neto’s anthropodino. Shows aren’t up for long though, so don’t save something you want to see until later because it will be gone.

The tranquil Noguchi Musuem in Queens houses a retrospective of Isamu Noguchi’s work in a converted industrial building and garden across the street from where the sculptor worked for a chunk of his career.

Years later, others followed the pioneering Noguchi to Queens. Including the Fisher Landau Center for Art (pictured left) and MoMA  PS1 (pictured right). Emily Fisher Landau is a keen collector of contemporary art with pieces remarkable enough to deserve a 25,000 square foot museum in a former parachute factory.  MoMa PS1, featuring emerging artists and hosting funky summer dance parties, is a good adventure too.

And for those who want to amble beyond walls and outside of city limits, spend a day at the  Storm King Art Center where the landscape is transformed by hulking, undulating and all around magnificent sculptures.

Create: Your Own Holiday

On Wednesday Todd declared, “Tomorrow is Lolo Day.” Lolo is Soren’s nickname for his much-loved nanny, Myrtle, a woman certainly deserving of a holiday. My heart kinda melted as Todd took it upon himself to make a card of appreciation, pick up a gift certificate to one of her favorite restaurants and create a sign to hang in the window for the entire day, Lolo Day.

Entrusting your child to another person is one of the many lessons in letting go that punctuate the story of parenthood. So there we were with a three-month-old for whom we barely had the operating instructions figured out, interviewing women, many mothers themselves, about caring for a child. What did we know? We went with Myrtle, a mother of two girls, who had worked for years in the neighborhood and knew her way around every sing-a-long and story time within a mile of the house.

I was so anxious that first day returning to work (how to fit in two morning feedings before leaving the house, what to wear, where to pump, is my sleep-shot brain up to this). Not to mention just walking away from a house and a baby that we were turning over to someone we’d only just met, even if she did come highly recommended. As a parent you agonize over any little disaster that could happen off your watch. I raced home that night to a sleeping baby, an immaculate house and dinner waiting for us. I wept with relief, and I’ve felt relieved ever since.

And grateful. We were incredibly fortunate to connect with Myrtle and her family. Over the past two years we have slowly learned what she and her husband sacrificed – including leaving their older daughter behind in their home country for a few years – while they established a more promising life for their family in New York. Myrtle came here and cared for other people’s children while she was separated from her own. And I was worried in those early weeks about leaving my son for eight hours a day. I can’t even imagine.

Myrtle was so surprised and touched by Lolo Day that it was fun for all of us. So appropriate your own holiday in honor of someone important in your life. It’s easy – a homemade sign and a plate of cookies is all it takes – but the impression is lasting.


Wander: Tradition

I first met my husband’s family over a Memorial Day weekend at the cottage that his great-grandfather built on a bright, clear interior lake in Michigan northeast of Traverse City. With the assistance of a handyman, Daniel J. Beeby, a Chicago Public School Superintendent, floated lumber across Lake Bellaire to his land in a thicket of pine and birch, and over the course of the summer of 1913 constructed, by hand, the house now known as Chez Nous.

We had only been dating a few months, so introducing me to his parents, brother and grandmother was a risky move. Chancier still was that this place elicited his most exposed, relaxed, vulnerable and unguarded self. No more game face or peacock strut.

This was also the weekend that the family held a memorial for their deceased childhood pup which his grandmother requested I photograph. An odd thing to be tasked with, but how do you say no to grandma? The family stood, arms linked and sniffling, beneath the feathery pines trimming the shoreline eulogizing their cherished pet. I balanced precariously on the sloped beach trying to capture this event as unobtrusively as possible. All was cracked open for me to see, no holding back. It was here, over this weekend where I really started to fall in love.

Todd and I have been in each other’s orbit for 12 years now. There have been moves, a  break-up, funerals, weddings, more moves and new life. But this house remains, largely  as it has for five generations.

Sure, there have been dramatic changes in the family and on the lake itself, but so much remains comfortingly constant. The deep William Morris chair with imposing lion head arms has always been the coveted reading spot; the creaky porch glider continues to lull family members into mid-day slumber; the dining room table still supports heaviness and joy under which lesser pieces would have cracked; and family lore and rivalry continue to play out on the root tangled croquet course.

Just like his father, our son now builds castles on that crescent of sandy shore, he swings a croquet mallet, pulls book after dusty book from the sagging shelves and his height is charted each summer adding to the climbing hash marks on the wall of every grand and great grand kid before him.

And every summer I’m reminded that love is something into which you can just keep falling.


Gift: Back to School

The summer-trailing-off-school-ramping-up transition feels less like a calendar event and more like a micro-season. The sun is slowing after its August sprint, the breeze seems wistful and there is a faint trace of pencil dust and assignment-notebook newness in the air. Can you smell it?

We’re not on a school schedule at our house yet, but I feel its pull to get organized, sit up straighter, pay attention and re-stock supplies. As a list maker, that means notebooks. It’s always a thoughtful, useful gift.  So here’s a round up of interesting notebooks for the scribblers, doodlers and list makers in your life.

These trim, glam (and sometimes cheeky) Smythson Wafer Notebooks are a total splurge. As a happy recipient of two of these beauties, I can assure that they make an excellent gift.

Mix and match these perfectly pocket sized journals made by hand from Paper Jayne.

Forget decorating a Trapper Keeper––graduate to making your own notebook. This Japanese Shashiko inspired notebook is one of four DIY Embroidery Pocket Notebook designs from Curious Doodles.

This pretty letterpress spiral notebook from 1canoe2 Letterpress remind me of patterns for grade school friendship bracelets.

You can never have enough classic, versatile Moleskine notebooks. And they’re so reasonable you can pick one up in every bright new color.