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Showing posts from May, 2008

New York-Pen Festival-Day 2-Grand Central Station

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Years ago, when I was a teenager thinking of becoming a nun, I used to take the train from the small town of Suffern (where I went to an all girls’ Catholic boarding school) to New York City in order to see my spiritual director. When the train arrived at Grand Central Terminal, I transferred to the subway to head downtown.
It had been 50 years since I last visited the station and during that time has been slated for demolition, saved by a Supreme Court decision, and transformed into an architectural wonder by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). On May 2nd, I decided to take a memory walk back to the station and was stunned at its new beauty. I gaped at the ceiling, lusted through its food markets, gawked at the travelers bustling through it. But best of all, I arrived at the tail end of the Music Under New York auditions. Not that I was glad to have missed most of it but rather than I was glad I hadn't missed all of it.
Music Under New York is “one of the many visual and perf…

New York: Pen Festival: Day One

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On April 30, I arrive in New York for The Pen Festival of World Literature. A plethora of events awaits me . . . all of them in different locations. I don't know New York. I have work ahead of me. Agenda number one: find my way around the city. Assignment: get acquainted with the streets. Best method: walk

I walk from the Marriott East Side (525 Lexington and 49th)cross town to 6th Avenue and down to 42nd Street to find Town Hall, where I will attend Public Lives/Private Lives for an event featuring Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje, Annie Proulx, Ian McEvan that evening, where these famous world writers will “peel back the layers of their literary selves” to reveal from whence arise their creative voices.

I find Town Hall, then walk uptown on Fifth Avenue, to find the Instituto Cervantes where at 1 p.m. Latin American and Spanish authors will discuss “New Directions in Spanish Literature.”

I didn't realize I would be waylaid by the New York Public Library on 42nd St. It is…

How to eat Big Bowl Noodle Soup

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After our trip to the Grotto in Portland, Bill coded Asian Food into his GPA system which brought up several such places nearby. Hit or miss, we selected one (I forgot to write the name of this restaurant down but it was Vietnamese and was called Pho Vong’s CafĂ© or something like that). When we were each served a platter of condiments, we had no idea what to do with them until we saw another diner peeling the entire sprig of basil -- 20 or more leaves -- into his bowl along with the bean sprouts and lime wedges which he squeezed into the already deliciously spicy soup.

“That’s an awful lot of basil,” I thought. Nevertheless, Bill and I followed suit. From now on, that is how I want to eat Big Bowl Noodle Soup. It was scrumptious. And those bean sprout came in mighty handy, forming a trellis of sorts when mixed with which to lift the thin noodles with our chopsticks.From now on, that’s how I want to eat Big Bowl Noodle Soup. I wonder how often I’ll be able to satisfy that wish.

Multnomah Falls, Portland

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How much can you pack into one day of hiking and sight-seeing? A lot in a city like Portland where scenic marvels are within day-trip distance.

My husband Bill and I (he captured the photo to the right) spent Saturday morning hiking to the JapaneseGardens and that afternoon we headed off for the snow-covered heights of Mount Hood and Multnomah Falls, the second highest waterfall in the nation. We managed to get halfway to the mountain when the narrow twisting road convinced us that snaking up its flanks would deprive us of the opportunity to see the falls while there was still enough light. It wasn't as if we'd missed the mountain. It looms like a snow covered volcano over the Portland horizon to the east and can be seen from most any place in the city. We arrived just as an environmental fiesta was coming to a close. Far, far, above us a practice session for an emergency rescue crew was winding down, one final rescue worker doing the last rappel of the day. Rather than t…

Japanese Gardens

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The JapaneseGardens of WashingtonParkMass transit will take you most anywhere in Portland proper but it’s important to know where to get off. Especially if you’re heading to the JapaneseGardens in WashingtonPark. If you get off at the right place but at the wrong stop, you might – as Bill and I discovered -- be in for a long walk. Getting off at the WashingtonPark stop (Zoo) might not be the best place to disembark – when our main reason for going was to see the JapaneseGardens. If however, we’d wanted to get an idea of WashingtonPark’s many offerings, the zoo stop was a very good place to get off. To get to the JapaneseGardens from the Zoo stop we had to traverse a few miles (or so it seemed) of the park’s meandering trails, many of which were in an uphill direction.The trails through WashingtonPark are quite wonderful. They lead to overlooks, and through various terrains. My favorite trail, leading (we hoped – we had no map) toward the Japanese Gardens, was the Magnolia Trail adorne…

Portland Journey: The Grotto

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Bill and I were not sure what to expect when we set out to find The Grotto located a bit northeast of PortlandCityCenter. Built by Servite Father Ambrose Mayer in fulfillment of a boyhood promise to do something special for God in return for his mothers life, it could have been another Necedah,* save that the description of The Grotto’s botanical gardens with reflecting ponds and over 1100 varieties of plants and trees sounded alluring.
The Grotto is not listed as one of the top “things to see” in Portlandwhich is perhaps just as well, for without crowds of tourists it remains an oasis of beauty, peace and tranquility midst the city’s busy environs.The shrine consists of two levels. The lower level built at the base of a towering cliff is the site of the Grotto moss-laden cave itself, 30 feet wide, 30 feet deep and almost 50 feet high with a Carrara marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta as the focal point. Also on that level is a visitors’ complex and conference center and a lovely …