Friday, March 24, 2017

Wednesdays with Carol

A Date with Myself
Wednesdays will always be with Carol

I have been remiss of late in not publishing more frequent posts on Femme et Fleur. To offer a frank explanation, I have not been inspired to write because my world is now circumscribed by a need to stay close to home with my spouse because he needs my help. We no longer travel to my beloved France. Visiting with friends has been curtailed. We still do a lot. We go to museums. We dine out. We will once again go to Orient in August when Lazy Girl will make an appearance. But too often I must beg off seeing friends or hurry home.

So at the urging of my interventionists, my sisters, Susan and Jeanne, and my friends and with the encouragement of my step-daughter, Dianna, and her husband, Michael, I have decided to hire an aide to be with Richard one day a week. This will be my day off. We started this week when a lovely, professional woman named Camille came to be with him.

I will plan wonderful things to do. I will wander and flaneur. I will see friends. I may even sip an elegant cocktail or two. It will always be Wednesdays with Carol.

This week my Wednesday began with a visit to The Morgan Library to see an exhibit about the American poet, Emily Dickinson. When I was in high school I had a slim volume of her poems and brought it to Ms. Sheila Saferstein's English class to read aloud. Ms. Saferstein was a great teacher and quite a looker. She had short, dark hair swept back from her face, wore pencil skirts and heels and was thrilled to have a class full of smart-alecky first-trackers at North Shore High.

For our final exam, Ms. Saferstein gave each student a copy of the hardbound, cultural magazine, Horizon. My issue was devoted to Emily Dickinson so I wrote an essay based on her.
Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts,
and except for one year which she spent at
Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in
South Hadley, Massachusetts, lived in
Amherst her entire life.
 The glass elevators in the Lorenzo Piano
atrium addition to The Morgan Library.
 The sun-filled cafe in the atrium.
My perfect afternoon tea.
Earl Grey.
Loved the deviled egg and sandwiches.
 Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 and died in 1885.
Particularly in her later life, she was
enigmatic. She dressed only in white and avoided people.
Her poems were enigmatic too.
Short, eccentric and sometimes
difficult to parse.
 She would hide behind doors. She did not visit others,
but sent letters instead.
She would send a bunch of flowers from
her garden.
She said that people might prefer a posy to a poem.
In her later years, Emily Dickinson created hand-sewn books 
of her poems that she had hand written.
These are called fascicles.
Her fascicles contained 800 poems.
 A portrait of Emily (left), her brother, Austin,
and sister, Lavinia.
 Only 12 of Emily's poems were published
during her lifetime.
Her entire oeuvre was 1,800 poems.
 Amherst College, founded by Emily's grandfather.
Her father was a trustee of the college.
 Emily loved flowers.
When she died her coffin was carried through 
a field of buttercups to the graveyard.
She was buried with vanilla-scented heliotrope,
a Lady's Slipper and a knot of blue field Violets.
 Emily had an herbarium of over 400 dried flowers.
This is one of Emily's more accessible poems,
which is perhaps why it was used as a title for the exhibit.
She was an intense poet of mystical proportions.
She was hardly a "Nobody".
When a friend named Thomas Wentworth Higginson
visited her he said,
"Without touching her she drew from me.
I am glad not to have lived near her."

À Bientôt!
Je vous verrai tous les mercredis.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


A Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I am 73. Thanks to some wonderful people -- friends and family, I had a great day.

A delivery man arrived bearing sweet flowers from The Flower Girl, sent by my sister, Jeanne, and her husband, Chris.

My sister, Susan, sent her good wishes. Susan is in Florida where she resides in the winter. We are all grateful that she is recovering from a life-threatening medical incident that she suffered recently.
At The Odeon, celebrating my birthday.
I am wearing my new two-tone beads
which I call Le Boom-Boom.

I planned a dinner at The Odeon, one of my favorite restaurants in New York. I invited my nephew, Jack, who is a student in the film program at NYU, to come along. Jack brought a friend, Jo. She is a student in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design.

Jeanne and Chris sent these flowers.
They are on a shelf with a hat I designed
to wear to a Fashionista New Year's Brunch.

Before leaving for dinner, I found a small package at my door. It was a beautiful resin bracelet from Arts and Artisans in Chicago. It was sent by my stepdaughter, Dianna, and her husband, Michael.
Resin bracelet by Madame Piedran of
Normandy, France.

I got some nice birthday cards. My cousin, Barbara, whose birthday is two days before mine, always sends me one. I owe her a belated card. It's so fun to get cards. When I was young, I used to get a birthday card every year from my Aunt Margaret with a dollar "for a Coke".
Card from old friends, Dyan and Michael.

The manager at The Odeon is named Roya. She is tall and elegant and always dresses in vintage outfits. Last night she was wearing a wonderful dress. She purchased it in Arizona while there for a friend's wedding. "I went shopping for vintage the morning of the wedding," she said. A girl after my own heart. The dress was originally from Iceland!
Roya in her Icelandic dress.

I had never met Jo, Jack's girlfriend. She has a cute haircut and a beautiful smile. She was wearing a light-colored coat adorned with a collection of pins on the shoulder. She had on a black beret and wore large-rimmed glasses. I liked her right away. Jo gave me a book she had made of her etchings.
Jo. I think she had the pasta.
Jo's etching.
Jack is a serious guy. He is serious about his art. Jack was wearing a red and black checked shirt buttoned up at the collar. I like that look. Jack gave me a painting that he had done. He always has so many things on his mind.  Painting, animation, film and video games to name a few. It is challenging to an artist to have so many facets to their creativity. I am in the same boat.
Jack at The Odeon.
The painting that Jack made for me.

Chris came along too. We had some good conversations. I told him how I make my beads and swore him to secrecy. I am pretty sure he will not try to manufacture them and become my competitor. Jeanne could not come because she had her book group.

Richard had a good time. He had a dozen oysters, duck confit and duck breast with pear all washed down with Cote du Rhone.
Richard in a favorite shirt 
purchased in Nice, France.

We finished the evening with deserts. I had the famous Odeon chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream. Someone had overheard it was my birthday, (Roya) and my dish arrived with a candle. Everyone sang happy birthday.  At the next table, a tow-headed boy of nine was also celebrating his birthday. We exchanged birthday greetings. He was born in 2008, 64 years after me.

À Bientôt!

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Rivington Street Memoir

Music All Night, Drug-dealing All Day &
Law and Order All the Time:
Rivington Street Memories 

Susan Chrysler White. She was the catalyst. Richard and I had been living in Philadelphia for over 20 years. Each day I would do my reverse train commute from center city Philly to the Main Line suburb of Radnor. That's where the company I worked for, Fidelity Life, had moved from center city.

Reading my New York Times on the train, the urge to be in New York City would get in my head and make me crazy. One day Richard told me that Susan Chrysler White was moving to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Susan taught painting and drawing at Tyler School of Art where Richard also taught.

That was it. The time bomb went off in my head. If Susan was moving to New York, so would we. Within a week I had the plan in motion. It was 1985, and we were moving to New York City too!

Our building at 159 Rivington Street in New York City.
 Lindemann's Pharmacy was on the first floor. 
Our 1,000 square foot loft was the third floor.
I am standing with Richard. Richard's daughter,
Dianna Cramer, is on the right.

Barry Blinderman, who ran the Semaphore Gallery in the East Village, lived on the second floor. Mr. LaFortune, a Haitian man, lived on the fourth floor. He had divided his apartment into a warren of rooms where other families lived. When we were fixing up our space, Richard had to install drip pans in the kitchen because of leaks coming from Mr. LaFortune's kitchen. Later we learned that when Mr. LaFortune defrosted his refrigerator, he simply pulled the plug, letting the ice melt on the floor and leak through to our ceiling.

MaryAnn, a filmmaker, and David Sipress an artist, occupied the back half of the fourth floor. MaryAnn had installed a huge editing machine in her tiny cubicle of a space, and David made quirky wood sculptures. David now draws ironic cartoons for the New Yorker Magazine.
Richard shopping at the Korean greengrocer
on the corner of Clinton and Rivington.

The first week that we spent in New York, I was astounded that loud music played all night. Drug-dealing was constant on the street, and Law and Order, the television show, was always shooting episodes in our neighborhood. One morning I stepped out of our front door and found a filmmaker, in his director's chair, perched on our doorstep. "Excuse me, sir," I said, as I passed daintily in my Armani suit, "may I continue on to the real world?"
Hanging with Dianna Cramer and Richard
in front of ABC NO RIO, an alternative, and I
mean alternative, art-performance space across the
street from our building. I am wearing a
Streit's Matzos cap. Streits was on the corner of 
Rivington and Suffolk Streets. 
The mural at ABC NO RIO changed every so often.
That kept things interesting.
On weekends, kid from the suburbs dressed up
in kilts and spiky purple hair and drank beer on the sidewalk.
Dianna Cramer, and her husband, Michael
Miller on Rivington.
It was a Dominican neighborhood, and
fruit ices were sold from carts in warm weather.
 Stopping by an abandoned car on Delancey Street
on a summer morning.
Me in my corporate look walking to work.
Me with a fixer-upper.
Me posing for a brochure for
 Guardian Investor Services,
my New York job.

If this post has made you yearn for more,
listen to this interview I did with Tobi Elkin,
for the Lower East Oral History Project of the
New York Public Library.

Listen here:

À Bientôt!

P.S. Susan Chrysler White lives in Iowa now.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Shoe Biz

The Ballet Flat That Fits
A ballet flat can never be a ten. (Wink, wink, get it?)

Recently I purchased the most dreamy ballet flats. I bought the shoes in three colors: black, ultramarine blue and poppy red. They are from a company called Margaux, and they are custom-made to fit my feet, bunions and all.

When I worked in business, I wore only black flats of the Armani brand. These I usually paired with black tights. Very bohemian, Greenwich Village in a corporate world. Really, I had to have flats because I was running around all day -- to the print shop, to meetings and up and down the staircase so I didn't have to wait for an elevator. Besides, I view a shoe with heels as an instrument of torture.
Classic Margaux suede flats
displayed in their West 20th Street showroom.
The color palette will augment
any wardrobe.
 You can order this darling fit kit
from Margaux to measure
your own feet, in case you happen to
live far from New York City,
in a red state, for instance.
The contents of the fit kit.
 Margaux was founded in 2015.
Left: Alexa Buckley, a co-founder,
 right: Gavriella Wolf, production manager.
If you go to the showroom,
Augusta Winthrop will fit you for
your new flats.
Margaux wants to redefine how shoes
 are sized and sold.
Pointy Toes.
The shoes are hand-crafted in family-owned
factories in Spain and New York.
A custom shoe with a satin bow
made for a designer's runway show.
Careful thought and design expertise has gone 
into the packaging and presentation of the shoes.
The shipping box.
The shoe box.
 Each pair comes with a
soft, felt bag.
I use these when I travel.
 My poppy red ballet flats
nestled in their tissue bed.
 The poppy reds and ultramarines.
My new Margaux flats in my
shoe closet.
I put the little red and blue
pieces of felt on the tabs for
quick identification of the shoe color.

À Bientôt!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Autumn Picture Op

Creative Friends
We got together with some stylish, creative people at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village. There's also an East Village and a Greenwich Village, which actually may encompass parts of the West Village, in New York City. It takes a village for 14 creative, lively and colorful people to have lunch at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

The occasion was the visit to New York of two California ladies, Suzi Click and Gretchen Schields. Now that Ari Seth Cohen, Advanced Style blogger, movie maker and author of two Advanced Style books, has moved to Los Angeles, we New York style mavens are getting to meet our west coast friends, through the style auspices of Ari.
 Gretchen Schields, jewelry maker.
Gretchen lives in Laguna, California.
She is wearing one of her own creations.
More on Gretchen here.
Suzi Click, creator of artisan apparel
and accessories.
Suzi is from Los Angeles.
She is wearing a hat, jacket and jewelry
of her own design.
More on Suzi here.
After our lunch we walked to the Greenwich Village
home of Alice Carey. 
L to R: Suzi Click, Gretchen Shields and Elke Kuhn.
Elke is wearing a fabulous necklace of her own design.
She really got into the cowgirl spirit with her boots,
hat and saddle-shaped bag.
There was a flurry of picture taking in Alice's
courtyard. Me wearing La Cerise sur Le Chapeau hat adorned
with a Dulken and Derrick orange rose, beads of my own creation,
Agnès b. blouse and my new Margaux custom
ultramarine ballet flats.
Photo courtesy of Diana Gabriel.
 Arlinda and Alice Carey.
 Joyce Carpati
 Diana Gabriel wearing
earrings of her own design.
 Couple-about-town, Eva Kobus-Webb and
Bill Webb.
 Debra Rapoport, milliner 
and creatrice extraordinaire.
Ari Seth Cohen, Richard Cramer and moi.
Other friends,
other times.
 Sue Kreitzman, artist and jewelry maker,
was in New York in August.
We got together at The Crosby Hotel for tea.
 We attended the opening of a show of drawings by
Joana Avillez at The Picture Room.
Joana, wearing a spectacular citron-hued coat,
is on the right.
With her is Valerie of The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
 At The Picture Room.
Valerie and Jean, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, and me.
Photo by Joana Avillez
Jean is wearing one of my
bead necklaces.

À Bientôt!