Thursday, January 31, 2019

Advanced Love by Ari Seth Cohen

Keep a-goin'!
It was on my mother's kitchen wall in her condo in Southold, New York. The little, framed picture with the motto keep a-goin'! I, my brother, David, and my sisters, Jeanne and Susan, took care of our mother, Mary, for many years as she went through the stages of Alzheimer's. At the end, we had to move her to a nursing home where she died on my birthday, January 11, 2008.  It took a lot of stamina and patience to take care of her, but we did, especially David, who lived with her and took her for a walk to the "post office" (actually the mailbox a short distance from her home) every day.

Now keep a-goin'! is my motto as I care for my husband, Richard. It's the theme of an essay I wrote for a new book,  Advanced Love, by Ari Seth Cohen. Ari's photographs and text celebrate the beauty and creativity of older couples who he has met in New York City, California and around the world.
Ari is the creator of the blog, Advanced Style. He has two previous books of photographs to his credit and a documentary film. He has enriched the lives of those he has met and made older women and men more visible in the world. Recently, three of the ladies in his documentary were featured in an H&M campaign and seen in a giant image in Times Square.
 "...the art we made, the lives that he, as a teacher, changed. Now it's different. One of us is eighty-five, uses a walker, needs lots of help, and can't remember things. What are you going to do? Make the best of it, confront the daily challenges, renew your spirt. Keep a-goin'.    
from the essay by Carol Markel in Advanced Love 
The cover of Advanced Love, published by Abrams Books.
Richard and I were honored and thrilled to be included in Advanced Love.
 Ari took this photo some years ago in front of the
Donut Plant on Grand Street next to our apartment.
Richard has that rakish look that captivated legions of
women, and especially me.
Ari took the photo on the left last Spring. 
I am wearing a hat and beads of my own design.
The photos on the right were taken at our wedding in 1970.
The book signing party at The Strand Bookstore in their rare book room was held last week. I picked up this silvery sequined jumpsuit before New Year's at H&M. After a recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibit, Jewelry, The Body Transformed, a friend and I stopped at Roundabout, a resale shop on Madison Avenue. That is where I found the Yves St. Laurent necklace that I am wearing. I made the headpiece using a velvet rose from the artificial flower maker, Dulken and Derrick. Two people who worked for me at The Guardian, bought the flower for me back in the 90s and gave it to me in a white florist box as a corsage. The bag is a gift from my sister, Jeanne. I embellished it with the velvet patch that says "Love".
Jeanne accompanied me to the book signing. We dined at Il Cantinori before the party. It had been pouring all day, but the sun came out just in time to walk from the restaurant to The Strand. Jeanne was able to put on her adorable red suede shoes without fear of ruination by rain. She is wearing a delightful dress with silvery polka dots and a fun sleeve treatment. Her dangly white and black earrings are a thrift shop find. We had a great time at the party chatting with a lot of the folks featured in Advanced Love. I would have loved to have had Richard with me as well, but these days he is inclined to want to stay at home, especially at night.
I made these earrings for the book signing, and
I had my ears pierced as well, so I could wear them!
However, my ears would not cooperate, and I could not wear them!
So I am showing you now.

On January 26, Ari was interviewed, along with Barbara Flood and Stanley Dorfman,
on the WNYC program, All of It. I was a wonderful interview and Ari quoted my essay. 
Here is the link to the episode.
A Bientot!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Christmas Party Chez Carol

A Tree Sparks a Party
For the first time in years I bought a tree and put it up for Christmas. The Soho Christmas Tree company was selling trees on my block of Grand Street in front of Saluggi's sports bar, and I passed the trees on my way to shop at the new Trader Joe's on the corner of Grand and Clinton. This Trader Joe's, by the way, is the largest one on the East Coast. Just shopping there is like having a spa treatment. They have polished cement floors and vast, wide aisles. In fact, they are not so much aisles as spaces. As is typical of Trader Joe stores, the clerks are super happy and helpful in a cult-like way. Just don't drink the free Kool Aid.

The tree sellers had cute, little trees, and one day I succumbed to a four-foot one which set me back $60. This price is reasonable compared to purchasing an 8-foot tree in a tony neighborhood of Manhattan, like Tribeca, where it will lighten your wallet by $500.

Decorating it was fun. I purchased tiny blinking lights and multi-colored balls at Target. Did I mention that we also have a new Target store across the street, next to the Trader Joe's? I adorned the tree with my jewelry, doll clothes and labels that I have saved from hats, among other things, like a plastic, red and yellow chair from a doll's house. Instead of tinsel, I draped the tree with gold and silver rick rack. It was quite charming, and I liked it.
Since I liked the tree so much I decided to have a party to show it off. 
Drawing by Carol.
Me and my sister, Jeanne.
Photo by Jack Wedge
 Party attendees (left to right)
my niece, Sarah, nephew, Jack, and Jeanne.
 Jack Wedge and Will Freudenheim.
Jack is a senior at New York University's
Tisch School of the Arts in the film program.
He and Will are collaborating on a movie for
which Will is composing the music.
 Jack and me. I am wearing a dress and beads of
my own design and an ornament with feathers
 from my friend, Nita.
 Me and Jack with Sarah's dog, Polly.
 My beautiful niece, Sarah, with Polly.

Happy New Year and
A Bientot!

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Uncle Johnny Files: Tonawanda Trove, Part Two

Never Forget
Uncle George
Today we are observing Veteran's Day and I thought it fitting to write about my Uncle George Keleher, an Army veteran of World War II. When his brother, John Keleher, died in October, my cousins sent me photos and letters that John had kept. I received two photos of George and some letters that mentioned his time in the Army.
George C. Keleher

My parents, Sam and Mary Markel, were just married in 1942. George was in Europe fighting the Germans. This was a time fraught with anxiety. I was born in 1944 when Mary wrote to her brother John. 
"Doubtless you will wonder what has happened here in Bayside. Right now, Carol is on the floor having a great time. We expect to go to Tonawanda around July 10th. We are waiting until Sam has his tires recapped. Can only have one done at a time as he has no extra tire."
 "What did you think of the invasion? Good news, eh. At this writing. Have you heard anything from George? I haven't heard anything in about two or three weeks. Am afraid he has gone out of the country...I think they have almost captured Cherbourg. Hope this means that it will be over soon."
The battle of Cherbourg was part of the Battle of Normandy and was fought after the Allied landing on June 6, 1944. American troops isolated and captured the fortified port of Cherbourg. It was a hard-fought, month-long battle.

 Mary by a tree.

"The garden is coming along fine although the rabbits ate all our string beans. The baby keeps me jumping most of the time now. Believe me, she is the boss in our family. Sam has been singing her to sleep lately. I put her in a playpen now where she's outside and she loves it. No doubt, she will be sitting up in another month."

  Uncle George with his mother and my grandmother, Kate Keleher.

 Happy Times.
Left to right: Uncle George, Cousin Kathleen, Jack Wedge,
Mary Markel and Jeanne Markel, at Mary's condo in
Southold, New York.

A Bientot!

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Uncle Johnny Files: Tonawanda Trove, Part One

The Newlyweds
In September, Uncle Johnny died days before his 98th birthday. Johnny was our mother's brother, the second of 10 children. Mary was the oldest. Over the years, we were close with Johnny who was a bachelor and who lived in the family homestead in the upstate New York city of Tonawanda. A modest house, on the corner of Fuller and Highland Avenues, the dwelling was across the street from train tracks. When, as kids, we visited Tonawanda, the freight trains would pass in endless progression with a clickity-clack sound. It is safe to say that nary a nail was hammered to keep the house at 63 Fuller Avenue from falling down. So when Johnny died, my upstate cousins has their work cut out for them in clearing the place. He was a bit of a hoarder.
Uncle Johnny was a party guy who loved to wear funny hats.
 He skied with a team of retired American Airlines 
employees until a few years ago. There is a story that he once skied
with an oxygen tank. He was a veteran of the Army Air Corps and served
in World War II and Korea. He retired as chief mechanic from American
Airlines in Buffalo.

Fortunately, the cousins recognized the importance of the many photos and letters that Johnny had saved. They were kind enough to send us a box of these mementos. In going through the pictures, it occurred to me that there were some touching family stories within. One was the marriage of my parents, Mary and Sam.
Mary and Sam Markel on their wedding day,
September 28, 1942. Grandpa John is to Mary's left and Grandma Kate
to Sam's right. A mighty wind is blowing Mary's veil in a cloud of ghostly white.
Aunt Peggy, then a little girl, stands in front. 

"The bride wore a white net gown, the close fitting bodice of lace with sweetheart neckline and the bouffant skirt trimmed with lace, the sleeves bracelet length. Her finger tip length veil, edged with with lace to match the dress, was caught with a spray of orange blossoms. Her arm bouquet was of white baby chrysanthemums and bridal roses.... Her younger sister, Margaret, wore a rose-colored taffeta frock, with matching hair bow and corsage of baby chrysanthemums in blending colors."
Miss Mary Katherine Keleher Wed this Morning to Mr. Markel
From the Society Column of a Tonawanda newspaper.
"Immediately after the ceremony, the wedding breakfast was
served to members of the family and some fifty friends. The bride's
table with covers for twelve, was centered with a three-tiered 
wedding cake, surmounted by a miniature bride and groom,
and decorated with pink and white streamers."
"The couple left on a short wedding trip, the bride wearing
a royal blue, velveteen two-piece costume, with dubonnet hat
and accessories. Her corsage was of gardenias. They will
be at home after October 1st in Camden, N..J."

Mary and Sam. They look so happy.
Mary, from a large, Irish Catholic family from upstate New York,
 and Sam, a Jewish man from Brooklyn.
Together they forged a good life with success and happiness.
They provided their four children with wonderful life 
experiences and opportunities.

I would like to thank my sister, Jeanne, for copying these photos.
Also, thank you to my cousins, Mary Linda and
Kathleen, for sending the photos to us.

A Bientot!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Elegant North Fork Dinner Party

When there's a dinner party on
the agenda, the Markel girls are 
cooking in Orient
Time for a time-out on the North Fork of Long Island. This August the Markel sisters (Carol, Susan and Jeanne) got together at Jeanne's house for a few days of relaxing, shopping, scrabble with our brother, David, and preparing a dinner party.
 The most important part of the visit,
seeing Jeanne's wonderful dog, Fern.
 Jeanne planned an activity.
A visit to the North Fork Flower Farm.
Susan stands amid a field of Zinnias.
 This is the bunch we brought home.
 On our first night we dined at Caci in Southold.
Joining us were David and his daughter, Samantha.
This is Caci's heirloom tomato salad with basil sorbet.
It is heavenly.
 No sister time is complete without shopping.
We spent a day in Sag Harbor on the South Fork.
 Susan and Jeanne in a Sag Harbor shop.
 Shopping for berries at a Southold farm stand.
 The table is set for our dinner party 
at Jeanne's house.
 The chefs are busy preparing the night's menu.
Classic Gougeres
Chicken Soutine with Black Olives
Local Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
Corn, Feta Cheese and Tomato Salad
Blueberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream
 A tranquil evening on Peconic Bay
with our guests, Ekta and Mark. We are enjoying
 our gougeres and Ekta's tuna tartare.
Jeanne made us Negronis.
Dinner is served Chez Markel.

A Bientot

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Inside the Outside. David Markel in Southold

Inside the Red Barn:
The Eccentric Art of
David Markel
It's been a few years since I visited my brother, David Markel, at his barn in Southold, New York. Set amid vineyards and potato fields, David's barn, with it's car-stopping display of combines and assemblage sculptures set amid the surrounding fields, has been transformed into a live-work space.

David has taken a small section of his huge barn and made a comfortable studio and apartment.
 David at his table with a vase of sunflowers.
 On the etagere, David's small objects,
a vase of zinnias, a photo of our parents and a squash.
 Two of David's works.
He often uses found objects like this shaped piece
of wood, as painting surfaces.
 Two-faced Alien with No Arms.
 The opposite side of the Alien.
 A table with objects
 David's dog, Cookie, on a corner
of the couch. David got him at a yard sale.
 Creatures in a cityscape.
 A bust of a man wearing, what I believe, is our
father, Sam's, fez.
 Elvis and brushes.
 A view of the studio with David's painting table
which is also a work of art.
 The non-living space of the barn.
Our father, Sam, and David used to hold auctions on
this stage.

 A funny cabinet painted by David.
 Bye Dave. 

A Bientot!