Travel

Exploring Central Park and Roosevelt Island, NYC

We’re heading into Fall here in Southern California. I keep waiting for that nip in the air, the signal that real fall is coming. Maybe in November.

In June I wrote about waiting in NYC. In July, my son finally moved into his tiny 400 square foot apartment where a queen size air mattress takes up more than half the living room.

In September I visited his place and while he went off to work I went exploring into parts of NYC where I’d always wanted to spend more time.

First stop, Central Park. The park never gets old and is usually lively with music in the mall. Within a few hundred feet the music went from solo saxophone to bluesy jazz and ended with lively bagpipes.

The park has 29 sculptures and I doubt you could see them all in one visit (unless you plan to stay from dawn to dusk). I hunted for the Alice In Wonderland statue I’d missed before and along the way, I saw birds I’d never seen in California.

I managed to get a photo of a Red Cardinal near the Pond.

Cardinal in Central Park

And I found an inviting entrance tucked beside a busy walkway. The sign outside said “Hallet’s Nature Sanctuary.” I entered and found a peaceful place with paths leading up to gorgeous boulders and a rocky waterfall where a host of Sparrows bathed.

Enter the Hallet Nature Sanctuary-Central Park, NYC. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

During the construction of Central Park, in 1858, the designers left the north edge of the swamp relatively untouched for a bird sanctuary and named it the Pond. A portion of this woodland is reserved (Hallet’s) and is open during scheduled hours. This is definitely one of Central Park’s best-kept secrets.

Another day I took a ferry from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, in between Manhattan and Astoria, Queens, where through most of the 1900’s the place housed an insane asylum, hospital, and prison.

The two-mile island can be easily walked from one point (the lighthouse) to the other (Franklin Roosevelt’s Freedom Park). The view from both ends is worth the walk.

Blackwell Island Lighthouse-www.alvaradofrazier.com

Although the insane asylum is now inoperative, you can still see the skeleton structure covered in ivy. I’m saving that photo for my Instagram feed near Halloween; it’s that creepy.

Instead of the asylum, you’ll find Cornell Tech, the Octagon historic residence, parks, a newer hospital, shops, and the ubiquitous Starbucks.

When you’re done exploring for the day you can return to Midtown Manhattan on the Roosevelt Island Tram, if you’re not afraid of heights.

Up in the Air on the Roosevelt Island Tram-www.alvaradofrazier.com

Or you can take a ferry down to Wall Street and continue investigating the city sights.

Now that my son lives in NY, I’ll be back near Christmas time. After that, I’m traveling with my mom and family. Remember the story I told you about the ghosts? Well, they have not been back, but Mom’s asked us to take her to her parents birth state, in Guanajuato, Mexico where she last visited in the 1940’s.

I haven’t been to Mexico since the 80’s. Although I don’t really want to go, and I know this will be a difficult journey both physically and mentally for Mom, I will because that’s what you do for family. I’m glad she did agree to spend a couple of days in San Miguel de Allende, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. The trip should be interesting.

Explore more, whether by foot or by book. See you next time!

Travel

A September on Overload, An October to Embrace

chicago-ohare
Hall of Flags, Terminal 3 at Chicago O’Hare Airport

What a month September has been. Amid family crises, personal issues, another birthday and travel to Chicago, I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind of emotions, back to back.

Now that my mom’s surgery is over and was successful, I can breathe. She was schooling me on her funeral plans and debating her DNR (do not resuscitate) paperwork, all which took a subconscious toll on my mental health.

My son’s car was hit by a police SUV, accidentally, and after realizing he wasn’t significantly hurt, I gave thanks. Sharing my car with him for three weeks, hassling with insurance, and medical visits was troublesome but we made it through.

Getting another year older, seeing more gray hair and another wrinkle, or two, has its own issues, but hey, it’s better than the alternative.

Every week in September I received a rejection notice from some lit agent. File that in pfft.

Last week I got to travel to Chicago. That was a highlight of the month.

Chicago hot dogs (at Portillo’s) and deep dish pizza are every bit as good as the Chicagoans brag about.

Chicago Hot Dog, Portillo's
Chicago Hot Dog, Portillo’s

Now I know why Chicagoans call pizza, a pizza pie and why Giordano’s is in the business of shipping frozen pies to your hometown. Two slices and you’re done for the evening, but the next day you want more.

Giordano's pizza pie-Chicago
Giordano’s pizza pie-Chicago

We enjoyed an architectural and history tour of Chicago via boat-outstanding views of the skyline. The art museum is a gem as is Millennium Park, but what’s up with the crowds at Cloud Gate (The Bean)? This stainless steel sculpture got hordes of attention.

The Cloud Gate or Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago
The Cloud Gate or Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago

I have too many photos to post here, but if you’re interested and ‘do’ Instagram, I’ve just begun posting photos of my travels, art I find interesting, and insightful quotes.

In the meantime, I’m going to stretch and exhale for the next few days. I need to ‘re-center’ myself. Which may be the reason why this photo resonated with me. (By the way, the BMX rider isn’t falling, he’s popping a wheelie).

For more astonishing sports photos, see the Red Bull Illume 2016 Winners.

Here I go into October.

Bicyclist in Germany-Winner of the Illume Image Quest, sports photography.
Bicyclist in Germany-Winner of the Illume Image Quest, sports photography.

 

Inspiration, poetry, Travel

The Inspiration of a Beautiful Garden

 

 Portal into a Garden-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Portal into a Garden-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

On any trip I take I try to find a garden, whether a tiny patch of flowers in someone’s front yard or a botanical garden where I can get lost, inside my head and on the trail.

So I took the road less traveled between scratching shrubs, dirt, and rock, where spiny pine needles carpeted the earth. My eyes focused on delicate petals flying miraculous colors, every shade of purple, orange, red and yellow.

The scent of oak, a whiff of lavender, the sight of quaking grass reminds me that beauty exists among the everyday trials of life, a day of media news, or the sameness we sometimes feel.

I’ve been to this particular garden about seven times. There is always a new flower, a blooming tree or bush to entice me so I carry a journal, pen and my cell phone for photos.

This time, my thoughts spilled haikus, which is a good thing since I just read that Denver Botanical Gardens is having a haiku contest.

 

Japanese Smoke Tree-photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Japanese Smoke Tree-Photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

A plume of smoke rose

lion-headed above the forest

welcoming summer

Chapungu Sculpture, "So Proud of My Children" by Nicholas Kadzungura
Chapungu Sculpture, “So Proud of My Children” by Nicholas Kadzungura

 

A tilt of face to

children reading together

a devoted mother

 

The stone sculpture is from Zimbabwe.

Pedestal of flowers-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Pedestal of flowers-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

 

Forever entwined

Wrapped in a fragrance of love

Standing firm as one

Quote by Tao te Ching
Quote by Tao te Ching

 

This last one is not a haiku. I love the wisdom and peace of this quote.

Have a fun 4th of July. Enjoy.

 

Art, Creativity, Inspiration, poetry, Poetry Month, Stories, Writing Inspiration

What the Heck is Ekphrastic #Poetry?

 

paper cutout of a couple on a book
Story. Photo by Rossyyme, flickr.com creative commons

 

In the spirit of poetry month, I thought I’d make a poem for this week’s post. Last year, I celebrated the month with the post Late To The Poetry Party, offering a poem and several links to other poets (who actually submit poems and win honors).

Have you ever heard a term that sounded so odd you wanted to blurt, “Say what?”

That’s how I felt when I first heard of Ekphrastic poetry but I didn’t ask the question out loud. First, my mind and tongue tried to wrap itself around the weird word. Second, maybe I didn’t want to hear the definition; sounded like a cutting word.

I heard the word from my writing mentor, Fred Arroyo, who participated in this interesting workshop:

“PINTURA : PALABRA, a project in ekphrasis” is a multi-year initiative that encourages new Latino writing inspired by art, above all a Smithsonian American Art Museum traveling exhibit titled Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Aspects of this initiative include ekphrastic writing workshops; inviting writers to engage with the exhibit; and partnering with literary journals to publish portfolios of ekphrastic writing. The exhibit debuted in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and concludes its tour in Sioux City, Iowa in 2017.

You can read how he uses ekphrastic poetry here.

This is from the Poetry Foundation:

An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

Now, whenever I go to a museum or see a lovely piece of photography, my creative juices begin squirting and sometimes land on something I like.

This is a photo which mesmerized me for a few minutes. A story followed.

 

inside of monastery, sunlight, photo by Helmut Tobies
Photo of Monastery by Helmut Tobies, unsplash.com/creative commons

 

In another time,

another place

sunlight danced on the shoulders

of forbidden lovers

pressed against columns

moist with passion

beneath arches,

                                                          a canopy to cover scandal,

the joyful

sighs of love.

Her velvet gown

crushed by nubby wool

of a friar’s frock,

surrounded by scents of jasmine

and aromatic oils.

More than one great romance

glowed in the shadows

of the setting sun

in another century, in another monastery.

The photo connected with me, perhaps because I love architecture, medieval times, and television shows like “Reign.”

I find that Ekphrastic poetry is a good way to stimulate creativity and can serve as a writing prompt. Many times I need something to propel me to start writing, especially if I’m revising (which is most of the time).

So tell me, what do you see?