Monarch Butterflies Find Sanctuary

IMG_2915You may know that the Monarch Butterfly migrates thousands of miles in it’s life cycle. The caterpillar needs milkweed for food, the adult needs groves of pine, eucalyptus and cypress for overwintering. Their habitats have been reduced, chemicals in our environment threaten them, and their numbers have greatly diminished across the USA.

IMG_2916For several decades one town, Pacific Grove, California, has taken special pride in their protected Butterfly Sanctuary and the thousands of Monarch butterflies that arrive from October to stay until January or February. The peak time to see them–especially in clusters of a thousand or so–is around US Thanksgiving.

IMG_2922The sanctuary is an easy walk from the main street in Pacific Grove (Lighthouse Avenue). There is parking and it is wheelchair accessible. Although there is an incline from one end to the other. There are fun activities for children and plenty of benches for all ages. And there is no charge for entrance.

IMG_2921We took a picnic lunch and sat among the trees watching the butterflies dance high in the air among the tops of the trees. Occasionally one would drop down closer to us and alight on a branch and then we could try for a photo. It would have been more dramatic if we’d been able to see the clusters, but this was also relaxing and fun. We read the well designed signs to learn more about the butterflies and gained a new appreciation for these beautiful insects.

Pacific Grove is on the Monterey Peninsula and an easy activity to plan as part of your next visit. It is walking distance from Asilomar and just off 17 Mile Drive near the entrance to Pebble Beach.

 

Swatch: Vogue Knitting 35th Anniversary

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My son is 30 years old, so it is easy for me to track how long I’ve been knitting–30 years. When I was learning to knit, I assumed Vogue Knitting magazine had been around as long as the sewing patterns (1899). As a beginning knitter I regarded Vogue Knitting as the hippest, most fashionable knitting resource. Like the sewing patterns, I found the patterns more challenging. Within a few years I stretched my skills to knit entrelac and intarsia patterns from Vogue Knitting.

A few years after that it was with a huge sigh of relief when a yarn store employee remarked that Vogue Knitting often printed patterns with errors. It gave me permission to question Vogue’s authority. All the same I give Vogue Knitting a straight needle salute for inspiring me over the last 30 years. I especially enjoy the knitting events, Vogue Knitting Live, they host in New York City and Seattle.

Check out the 35th Anniversary issue of the magazine on newsstands until 11/7 for US $7.99.

Postscript: Sometimes when I travel I find a favorite food. In New Zealand I always look for Arnott’s chocolate mint cookies. They are as close to the old Mystic Mint cookies that were available in USA until the recession of 2008 put so many cookie companies out of business. The other day I found these TimTam’s in mint! At first I was concerned I wouldn’t have the self control to keep from pigging out on them regularly. However, I can’t remember in what store I found them, so I look forward to my next visit to New Zealand to be able to eat my favorite store bought cookie.

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When Can I Return to Maine?

Been thinking about the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten in the USA at Empire in Portland, Maine. Is it too far to drive from Boston just for dinner? That block is almost perfect as it also has the Speckled Ax coffee cafe. Beware, this is what a visit to Maine can do. I just want to go back.

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The lighthouse is cliche and also beautiful and important to coastal boat safety.

We stayed in a terrific AirBnB outside of Portland. Then we drove to Rockport and Camden for a relaxing day of looking a beautiful coastline, shopping and good food.

We spent time in Portland too. It was difficult to leave but the traffic on a weekend is a challenge. Next time I’ll go midweek and give myself enough time to see Arcadia National Park.

Best Public Library in the USA

IMG_2484I am very keen about public libraries and I make an effort to check out libraries when visiting a new place. There are many fine libraries in the USA but this library in Camden, Maine is unsurpassed in my experience.

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In addition to the entrance at the main street level, there is this Hobbit-hole entrance nearer sea level and just across from a lovely park with a sea view.

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Any public library worth its salt has an excellent children’s library.

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There are many places to meet or study. I love how librarians are less likely to “shush” patrons than when I was a child. Look how cheerful this library is. It invites you to read and explore.

Seating is also important. Staffing and hours are also critical. Clearly the citizens of Camden value their library.

Bonus: Tevis’ dog Dozer is as handsome as this library.

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Dozer just outside the Camden public library.

Library for Fans of Performing Arts

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This is the entrance from inner Lincoln Plaza. 

I didn’t know the New York City Public Library system had a Performing Arts library until my cousin Carrie got a job there. I was curious to see it.

I met Carrie in the lobby and she gave me a behind the scenes tour where she works helping to digitize the card catalog. The library has an amazing collection of video of Broadway shows, Playbills, and miniature scene models. I have no idea what else they have but I was thrilled to know that someone is keeping all of this in good order.

IMG_2277The Library also has special exhibits. I saw a portion of the Hilary Knight tribute and then in the gallery, “Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer California and New York.”  I am not a huge fan of the theater, but I LOVE libraries and this is a fine one.IMG_2283

 

Penguins at Central Park Zoo

IMG_2288The Central Park Zoo is small but beautifully landscaped. It provides plenty of places to pause and enjoy sea lions or watch a grizzly bear snoozing. I didn’t realize they had penguins until I saw an article about places to stay cool in NYC in August. One suggestion was the to check out the Antarctic House and see the penguins. I noted that the penguins were fed publicly at 10:30 and 2:30 p.m. I realized when I left Lincoln Center that if I hot-footed it I could just make it there by 2:30.

IMG_2290It was $18.00 for a ticket to get into the zoo for one adult. As a penguin lover it was worth it–although at feeding time it is crowded and as you can see the windows get steamy. It is hard not to be captivated by the birds swimming and jumping back on the rocks. IMG_2297

I spent a bit more time looking at other animals and admiring the flowers and shrubs. I really needed ice cream. I stopped at the cafe where they had the usual sort of packaged and reheated food. The gift shop was a little more original.

This is a great place to visit with children. You can save 10% on tickets by buying on-line.

Pause for a Drink at Bemelmans Bar

IMG_2304I love Manhattan. I’ve been to New York City numerous times and I always have a great experience. Never the same either. I’ve done most of the tourist must-dos: Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art and even stood outside the Today Show with a sign. One of the things I’ve longed to do but wasn’t able to until this summer is see the murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author and illustrator of the Madeline books. They are in a cozy bar in the Carlyle Hotel at 35 E 75th Street (not far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

IMG_2303I’d been walking since 10 a.m. with a couple of stops but plenty of time in the hot humid summer sun. A gin and tonic sounded fantastic. It was only about 4 and food service isn’t available until 5:30 p.m. Good thing I might have ordered a charcuterie plate and been doubly shocked by the $37 price tag. As it is my drink (excellent by the way) was $22. I spent a good while enjoying the ambiance and air conditioning. I will definitely bring my Mom here when we next visit NYC.

IMG_2302On Sunday and Monday nights they have jazz music starting at 9:00 and there is a cover charge. It was Monday, but I called for a Lyft ride and returned to the hotel to refresh before dinner and to find a bookstore. There aren’t as many independent bookstores as there used to be but I found the Strand and got lost in the stacks on a bit of a shopping spree, then enjoyed a delicious and almost normal price steak dinner at Phebe’s at 361 Bowery.