Sunday, December 30, 2012

Party On

A wild party is often described as one at which someone gets tipsy and ends up wearing a lampshade on his head. In the MacKenzie-Childs shop in New York, lamps with shades became the heads of two mannequins lounging near the front door. The holiday decorations perfectly represented the design ethic of MacKenzie-Childs, from the tasseled trims on the mannequin's skirts to the tips of the trees cobbled from pretty much everything in the M-C catalog. Their signature black and white checkerboard pattern tied it all together. I would go to this fantastical party any time.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Here is a detail of a New York window display that really covers the holidays. Sharing a window at ABC Carpet & Home were a globe-spanning group of personages representing a variety of religions, legends and myths. A host of animals joined Buddha, the Virgin Mary, Ganesha, Vishnu and Santa Claus. When the days get shorter, we enter the season of Diwali, Hanukkah, the winter Solstice and Christmas. This ecumenical gathering aptly represents peace and good will for all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas At Bergdorf Goodman

Our annual Manhattan window-viewing stroll involves a twenty block walk up 5th Avenue. By the time we arrived at Bergdorf's (saving the best for last) our fingers and toes required a trip inside. Any day of the year, this is what a grand department store is supposed to look like. In December, the creamy paneling and elegant chandeliers become a wonderland of white, with snow-laden trees and frosty branches. Taxidermized doves, swans and peacocks roost above the vitrines displaying diamond rings and opal necklaces.  Against all this white, the clutch of pastel handbags hovering on glass shelves off in the distance looked positively delicious. It's reassuring to know that a Grand Dame of retailing still reigns.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wet Day, Central Park

We are in one of those "between" times. The autumn colors have left us. Some people find this time of year depressing. They  wait for a silent, bright, cleansing snow or escape to sunnier states. I took this photo of Central Park in the late afternoon on one of those "in between" days. I love the grays and soft browns, the carpet of faded rusty leaves, the mist that seems calm and sheltering. This is when I thank Frederick Law Olmsted for the bones of the park: curving paths and the variety of trees. His careful plan is laid out with few distractions on a soft, wet, misty day.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dawn Redwood

On a sunny, chilly day, we admired the tree with the deep golden foliage and long brown panicles. Standing much taller than its neighbors, it greets visitors approaching the mansion at the Hillwood estate. We cornered one of the gardeners. "Excuse me, but can you tell us what that tree is?" We learned that it is a dawn redwood, a metasequoia. This ancient species was known only as a fossil until 1941, when some of the trees were found in China. Now they have been propagated and nurtured in other parts of the world. Aside from their unusual height, they are deciduous conifers, shedding their needle-like foliage. I've been to Hillwood several times. I saw this tree every time but never really SAW it until it was clothed in gold, draped in seed jewelry and lit up by the sunshine. So often we look but we do not necessarily see.