Wednesday, January 27, 2016

High Line

New York City. "The City" as we referred to it growing up across the Hudson in North Bergen. For us, "the city" was Manhattan, though we knew other parts, "the boroughs" existed. The city is a stop on the latest iteration of our east coast tour....the journey from seeing Ingrid and family in Providence to seeing Jose and the family in Maryland. The thread of transit that we use to hold the larger Werge-Miller-Canas family together in our minds.

We stayed at a hotel close to Penn Station. And also close to the High Line, that elevated rail line which, over the past decade, has been transformed into a park. And, which, in turn has helped to turn Manhattan's west side into a huge construction zone for luxury apartment houses, boutiques, and restaurants.

It offers an unobstructed walkway of about 1.5 miles above the city's traffic...if not an "oasis," a stretch of trees, tall grasses, flowering plants above the clamor of the streets. The steel rails of the old railroad flow along the walkway like a quiet brook. Benches, small theater spaces, lookouts, art and sculpture form eddies to entice walkers to slow down and drink in the atmosphere.


But what "the city" is about is people. Probably someone from Mumbai or Shanghai would not be impressed. But the sheer rush of people, morning and evening, hustling, moving with some internal energy...for someone living in a smallish town in Colorado...well, that is the real astonishment of being in New York.

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Location:New York

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


We waited for the plane to arrive...taking us on the final trip from Chicago to Providence...each person in his own world. I thought of the "Humans of New York" series in which interviews with people on the street reveals and shares a bit of that inner, own world. Each person with his own story...or part of a story. Yet, here, waiting at boarding gate A18, the stories are untold. How much richer it would be if we knew them all.

And, then, off we go into the "wild, blue yonder"....well, not so blue. And how so many of us view it as an annoyance when the first sustained, heavier than air flight took place in 1903...113 years ago. And now it is such a commonplace. On the other hand, as a species, humans are so adaptable...alas if the earth itself does not prove to be quite so adaptable.

On the plane, I take in the cloud and land formations (the city of Chicago...adapted to the urban grid) but mainly bury myself in the story of Alexander von Hunboldt...the first person to explore, understand, and, then, popularize the concept of nature as an interconnected whole in which all of the parts relate.

And whose diagrams showed, for the first time, ecological zones in which plants, animals, soils, insects, rainfall or lack thereof were interrelated. And, for the first time, wrote of how poor land use results in the depletion of the natural resources that make human life possible.

So reading about the earth while flying over it at 30,000 feet. A wonder, it is, quite worth the wait at A18 Midway Airport.

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Location:In the air

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The airport?

OK...another east coast tour. But having an early flight, we decided to shuttle from Fort Collins to the airport but stay at the new W hotel at the airport. In short, we started the trip without leaving Denver.

What was so stunning was to see the classic roofs on the airport from the top instead of from underneath.

And, then, the pool and fitness center on the 11th floor. As the sun went down, the image of this vast industrial transport system, thousands of automobiles and planes, soon to be joined by the Denver light rail system, all merging into a collage of the pool reflected in the curved windows.

Tom, Halie and Miles came out for a swim...then dinner...and now that they have left, sitting in the lounge which reminded them of a certain tv program, and writing this up. On the road again...and maybe will have some ideas to share as the miles pass.

But this evening has certainly changed my whole idea of what it means to go to the airport. And "hanging out" at the airport now takes on a whole new meaning.

Location:Denver international airport

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Back home

So I am able to write...have been living in a tent for four days (with access to a bathhouse, a kitchen (but had my own camp stove), sauna, hot springs in various locations...and a photo catches my eye.


Along with another, taken in the same museum on the same day at the same hour...

And I wonder whether they represent the same experience....savoring a sense of beauty in the world. 

Monday, October 12, 2015


Crawled out of my tent while the stars were still out against the dark sky...came down to the reception office, made the first pot of coffee, set myself down at the table by the wide window that looks over the valley, and watched the earth rotate toward the sun.

The light spreads down from the peaks of the San Juans...these mountains are known locally as the Saguaghe range (from the Ute word for "sand dunes" which are located south of the hot springs). Light crosses the foothills and, then, hits the valley floor.

It takes about an hour for the sunlight to shine on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo, the Crestone range, where I sit at the table, drinking coffee and feeling the day slowly warm up.

Location:Valley View Hot Springs

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Art along the road


Venturing beyond our east-west trajectory on I-80, we drove north toward Cleveland.  It was Day 10 of our road trip from Colorado to Maryland and back, taking out a trailer of Jose's belonging after he had spent a year in Denver.  His future lay in his past...going back to the communities he had lived in for the previous three decades.  After helping to get him and his family reestablished in the DC suburbs, we had spent some days with Charlotte's siblings and mine.  Now we were on our way back to the high plains and the Rocky Mountains.  Going home.

Yet time for art.   Cleveland Museum of Art...a 1916 classic building with a wrap-around addition that blends with its Greek temple facade.  

But it is the art inside that lends a sense of calm after the miles of interstate traffic...those stretches of grey concrete that ribbon across the Pennsylvania hills before hitting the soft plains of Ohio.  Inside its walls, the visitor shares space with objects and images that communicate ideas of the human condition and the worlds around.  

So many a few to contemplate in the cool marble walls and terraces.  

Sometimes around a corner is a painting I recall from the art books my Dad kept.  The books lay flat on the bottom shelves of our bookcase.  I see them now again like an old friend who unexpectantly comes into view.  

Which could be what we see in least in part...a place to contemplate our place in this world.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

Over the Alps

We left Florence, passed through Milan, then up and over a pass in the Alps to Switzerland. And entered a different world. I had never before understood the extent of this mountain range nor the role it has played in differentiating the cultures of Europe. This trip has given me a new appreciation of these mountains.

We rode to Basel. On the subsequent day, we had lunch with our friends, Marco and Ann Ferroni, whom we had not seen for several decades. Wonderful lunch. Great friends. We had much to catch up on in the two hours we spent together.

Spent the afternoon noting the austere, plain facades of buildings in its old town along the Rhine...

and, then, at a contemporary art museum along the waterfront, under the guise of saying I thought it was "performance art," photographed a workman getting the walls ready for a new exhibit...but isn't so much of our lives and our work "performance art" anyway?

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Location:On train to Frankfort


Yes, "wow" is what I said to myself as I rounded a corner in Florence off the Via Roma. It was the "Duomo," Santa Maria del Fiore"...the most famous of its many churches. And, though, I had read about it...just finishing a book on the building of its dome by Brunelleschi (author Ross King, subtitled "How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture")...I was unprepared for the sight.

It was not so much the dome as

the incredible use of the three colors of marble: green, red and white...the white coming from the same quarry where Michelangelo got the stone for his David...

I had never seen anything so ornamented on this scale before...

Nor do I expect I will after...


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Out of the garden

We had an apartment on the other side of a 14th century church with a famous fresco containing a scene from the "expulsion from the garden." The times for viewing were somewhat irregular, as was our wandering in the city, so we did not get to see it.

But in a narrow street just off the piazza had a modified copy, dealing the with gradual expulsion of cars from the central city.

How sad. And, yet, it is happening all over the world as people pour into the cities...limiting the access of cars to city centers...replacing them with pedestrian streets and efficient public transport.

Gotta keep one's sense of humor about it.

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