Night Out on Broadway: War Paint

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My son surprised me by requesting to go to a Broadway show, preferably a musical, on the first night he joined me in the City. My cousin Carrie is my go-to on all things Broadway and the theater. First I looked up what was playing in the New Yorker magazine and what tickets were on sale on TodayTix. I came up with a short list of possible shows that I had not yet seen: The Play That Goes Wrong, War Paint, and Waitress. Carrie had already seen Waitress and wasn’t bowled over. She had friends who said pass on The Play That Goes Wrong. She could get discount tickets to War Paint through her theater union. We were set.

Carrie has a go to before the Theater dinner place that is in the district. We met up at the Hourglass and had a delicious meal at a reasonable price for New York City. The service ws speedy and luckily the cousins Tevis and Carrie and slight enough to share the tiny table with me.

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We got to the theater in plenty of time to use the restroom and find our seats on the first level. The Nederlander Theatre on West 41st Street is large enough to be called a Broadway venue and have the musical considered for Tony awards–just big enough.

We didn’t tell Tevis that the plot was about two make-up mavens who defined 20th Century beauty for women. He gave us a hard time about it at intermission and admitted that there was enough fireworks over their business rivalry to make it interesting to all.

Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden has the first big number and her voice is strong and assured. I settled back in my chair knowing that once again the raised bar of Broadway was going to be met. This was confirmed with each subsequent performance and especially Arden’s nemesis Helena Rubenstein played by Patti LuPone.

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Reminded of Steve Martin’s short story “Cruel Shoes”

Ironically, at my age you’d think I’d know the dangers of placing beauty above comfort. Alas I wore new shoes rather than ones that might clash with my outfit and paid the price. After walking to dinner and the theater from our hotel on 50th and Lexington I was in some pain. We took a cab back to the hotel. The rest of the trip I was reminded of the lessons I took away from War Paint: don’t accept unquestioningly society’s idea of beauty–look with your own eyes; don’t fall for marketing gimmicks that get you to pay three times more for “horse liniment” because it’s in a pretty package; and make peace with aging and change because it happens to everyone. And don’t wear uncomfortable clothing just to look good.

 

Swatch: Midtown NYC Yarn Adventure

IMG_2325I set off in search of yarn stores close to my hotel at 50th and Lexington. The closest stores on Google maps were on 39th and 37th Streets in the garment district. I’d seriously injured my toes in new shoes on my night at the theater, so I was a little nervous that I’d be stuck a dozen short blocks from my hotel. Lyft was my insurance policy.

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Not all of us have as great a coat as my Granddog Dozer, some of us need a sweater.

My list of shops included The Yarn Maven, Color Corrections People, and the School Products Yarn Shop. I sought out and found the Yarn Maven only to learn that it is not a retail outlet. I was a little daunted and I looked up the Color Corrections People on my phone and it turns out it is also a specialty shop for the fashion industry. I didn’t hold out much hope that the School Products Yarn Shop would turn out to be what I was looking for because the name suggested it would have yarn and felt for classroom crafts.

I found 13 East 37th Street and was encouraged by the sign that states “Oldest Yarn Shop in New York City.” I went to the elevator to get to the 6th floor and couldn’t figure out how to operate it. Then I remembered the guy sitting just outside by the sidewalk. Sure enough he was a elevator operator. Soon I was walking into a lovely shop full of cashmere and specialty yarns.

IMG_2326.JPGThe proprietor, Berta Karapetyan, is also a designer of sophisticated sweater patterns. Her book Runway Knits is beautiful. I first fell for the Yak Yarn, then the cashmere for a very cute baby sweater pattern. Oops! I didn’t intend to buy so much yarn.

Excellent Speed Walk through New England Aquarium

I recommend you spend much more time than I did at the New England Aquarium

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The New England Aquarium is located on the wharf, not far from City Hall and Fannuil Hall

in Boston. I was walking to get knitting supplies at Newbury Yarn and found myself just 11 minutes from the aquarium. They close at 5:30 but I’d promised to be at an event in the Back Bay by 6:00 p.m. It might seem silly to some to pay $27.95 for about an hour of walking around. But I saw they had rockhopper penguins! And this is the home of the Pacific Octopus that Sy Montgomery befriended in her book Soul of An Octopus!

I was not disappointed. They have three types of penguins living separately on the first IMG_2376floor:  African penguins, Rockhopper penguins, and Little Blue Penguins. It was fascinating to see the Little Blue penguins molting. I also saw a woman with my dream volunteer job: cleaning penguin poo off the rocks in their enclosure.

Call me crazy but it would be a kind of zen thing to do and allow me to get to know them better as individuals.

IMG_2390The aquarium is built on multiple levels all spiraling around the deep sea aquarium tank in the middle. It was crowded the day I was there. I finally had to ask someone working at the tidal pool where the octopus resides. All the way near the last possible tanks in the Vancouver bay exhibit. This octopus had camouflaged in all white with coarse bumps and then slide into the far left corner. I overheard little boy who had clearly been searching for him, exclaim his frustration at not seeing him at the other side of the tank. I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out the octopus to him. He was probably 5 years old and he began to share octopus facts.

IMG_2392His dad confirmed how smart they are. I showed him a circle about the size of a quarter with my hand and said, “Can you believe that big fellow could squeeze through a hole that size?” His eyes got big. It was lovely to stand gazing at the octopus with someone as enthusiastic as I am.

I found a book for my grandson called Octopuses One to Ten by Ellen Jackson in the gift shop. “Octopuses in disguise have four ways to fool your eyes.” ¬†They can squirt a cloud of ink, or change their skin color or texture to blend in, or detach an arm if a predator grabs it, or disappear into his or her den until danger passes. This is why they have survived in our world so long. (Plus mankind is still not able to navigate underwater easily.)

The gift shop was not well stocked when I was there. However, I appreciated the more limited space devoted to commerce. Monterey Bay Aquarium could learn from them, they seem to favor the Disneyland approach. They also have dozens of activities to participate in for adults and children. For slightly more admission you can also watch films at the iMax theater next door.

The New England Aquarium is an easy walk from the T station at Government Center. I took the green line to the Back Bay and was at Tevis’ home within 30 minutes for just $2.75.

 

Eureka Zoo a Delightful Surprise

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Entrance to the petting zoo where we saw a tame skunk!

 

I enjoyed learning more about Eureka, California on my last visit to Humboldt County. My friend teaches at a school near the zoo, so after we dropped some supplies off at her classroom we circled back to Sequoia Park Zoo. Harriet mentioned that they have an award winning otter exhibit and I was ready to faff around the zoo for an hour or two.

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The zoo is about the size of the Sacramento Zoo, and a fraction the size of the San Diego Zoo, but still maintains a good variety of animals and does an exceptional job with the enclosures and displays.

We had fun and I’d go again, perhaps when I am not so tired.

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Thank you WatLovs for making my weekend getaway so much fun!

 

Shopping Spree on Humboldt Bay

Everytime I go to Humboldt County to visit friends I don’t have a serious intention of shopping. Then Harriet and I start fossicking around Arcata. All of the shops are unique and interesting–no chain stores on the Plaza. There are certain stores we always pop into. This particular day Nora wanted to have brunch at Renata’s Creperie. We stopped at the aptly named Fabric Temptations and I bought a wonderful book called Hygge Knits. Then on to Hot Knots to browse at clothes and the Garden Gate for garden related gifts. We walked across the street to Caravan of Dreams where I found the ceramic pie pan that had been elusive.

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Special of the Day at Renata’s Creperie

We moved on to a new store that I’d never explored: Scrap. It is like a thrift store for paper, fabric, and all kinds of interesting items for collage and assemblage! I had a fascinating time, bought enough stuff to fill the back of my Mini and only spent $43.

We drove around the Bay to Eureka and started at Henderson Center where my favorite yarn shop has moved and I bought wool for a new project. There are many other wonderful stores including a Japanese market and a very good toy store. I was able to buy my grandson’s birthday present instead of relying on Amazon.

Then we continued our mooching in old Town Eureka. The wonderful local writer Amy Stewart and her husband own Eureka books. I went a little crazy getting used classic children’s books to donate to my local elementary school. I found another beautiful knitting shop in Old Town called Knitterly. By this time were famished again and stopped as Los Bagels for a sandwich.

It was a super day and I have no buyer’s remorse. It makes me happy to boost the Humboldt County economy.

 

 

Weaverville–a little bit of Awesome

IMG_2081I normally drive to Humboldt Bay via Highway 20 and 101 in Northern California. I decided to try I-5 to Highway 299 to stop at a pottery store in Weaverville in search of a ceramic pie plate to replace the 37 year old plate that developed a crack after much use.

It’s been over 20 years since I spent significant time in Weaverville. I’ve been to the Joss House and to other historic landmarks on previous visits. This time I had Lulu the adventure dog and I was looking for a pie plate at Olson’s Pottery and outdoor dining for lunch with Lulu. It was way too hot to leave her in the car plus she’d been cooped up just as long as I had!

We did not find a pie plate, but we did find a delightful western main street with well marked crosswalks and a super yarn shop. We ate a delicious and fresh lunch at La Casita Mexican Food. Lulu was welcome to join me on their back patio dining area.

It is about 30 minutes faster to go this route, but there has been a lot of roadwork in the last few years. There still was between Weaverville and Blue Lake (about 30 minutes worth); however, CalTrans is doing a great job of ironing out some of the windy bits and it is a much more pleasant drive now. Once they are done with the project it may be much faster, especially as you can drive (over) 70 mph on I-5.

Does Anaheim Have a Soul?

IMG_2025I recently traveled to Anaheim for the California Construction Expo and stayed at the Anaheim Hilton. Thanks to my Lyft driver and the staff at the Hilton, everything related to my business trip went smoothly. I was invited to a cocktail party at the House of Blues in the Garden Walk center so I ventured out on foot.

I have not been to Disneyland in over 15 years and I have not been to Anaheim in over 8 years. In this time the area has been completely redeveloped. Like Las Vegas who did a makeover from kitchey 60’s casinos to the oversized concrete jungle that it is today, Anaheim managed to “improve” its downtown and lose any sense of history and personality. Most people go to Anaheim to go to a convention or competition and then spend most of their time at Disneyland. Perhaps they don’t care that when you are outside the park there is only California Pizza Kitchen, iHop, and other chains like Cheesecake Factory. Sadly, Anaheim no longer has a unique sense of place.