June 26th, 2011


Of museums, shopping, muscle cramps, and trees

Well, it was another what-a-weekend weekend.

I am fat.  I am out of condition.  I am WEAK.  This is completely unacceptable.  Also another issue.  On to the weekend!

On Saturday I met vynehorn down at Union Station for a two-museum trip in NYC.  My day did not start auspiciously.  Firstly, I probably didn't pad my travel time enough to start with, and that was aggravated by the fact that the City of Bristol seems to be randomly tearing up 15 or so yards of various road in assorted places - and they're tearing them down far enough that the bump at either end and the various manhole covers and such sticking up are actual hazards if you don't slow way down.  Then when I got to the parking garage I got trapped by a woman apparently undocking the Queen Mary from her space by doing a 938 point turn.  It was only fair that I took her parking space.  I trotted into the station, got in the line, looked at the clock, and discovered that their clock was faster than my clock and my train was listed as "on board."  Not good, and the line wasn't moving.  I heard a station employee telling a guy that they were just getting the first train out since 11:00pm the night before... and I realized I was in the Amtrak line.  Crap.  Luckily Metro North had no line, and I figured that I hadn't seen Vynehorn because she was probably on the platform wondering where the hell I was - and as a matter of fact, my phone rang in my pocket as I was running through the tunnel.  We got up to the platform in the midst of a mass of humanity, and despite what the board said - no train.  So we waited (and she was kind enough to share half her breakfast.)  And waited.  And then were all moved to a different platform.  And waited some more.  Finally the train arrived, we boarded and got underway.  Shortly thereafter there was an announcement saying that there had been a derailment in Bridgeport, and this was the first train they had gotten through for a while.  I think we got out of the station just a few minutes before the next train was scheduled to leave.

We walked up to the Pierpont Morgan Library and saw "Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands."  I'd heard that some people had been disappointed in it, and if they were only there with an interest in the clothing aspect, I can understand why, as it was a small exhibit.  Since my primary focus is manuscript arts and I'm just beginning to become very interested in the clothing layers and construction, I was very happy.  I was a trifle disconcerted by some of the assertions and opinions in the descriptive plaques.  In some cases they were 100% opinion, and in other cases I'm fairly certain that things that were stated about construction as being facts are things that are still matters of conjecture among researchers.  Regardless, I enjoyed the pretty pictures.  :-)  The four reconstructions that were included were interesting.  The footed hose that were shown were open seamed from mid-calf to heel and laced up.  It's an intriguing and possibly practical solution to fit the lower calf and ankle very closely, but personally I've never seen any evidence of that - and I've looked at a LOT of 14th century manuscripts.  I'll be interested to read what they have to say in the catalog.

Speaking of which - the exhibit catalog is *immense.*  I definitely want it, but we decided not to pick it up at the Morgan, because it's HUGE, and our aim was to not have to go through coat check at the Met.  I ordered it on Amazon last night - it was $59 and change instead of $85 at the Morgan.  AND qualified for free shipping.  Yea Amazon.

We walked back to Grand Central, checked on the status of the New Haven Line (information booth guy was completely clueless), and got on the 4/5/6 for the Met.  Plan B, by the way, was to catch the Hudson line to Southeast or Danbury, and call the husband to come get us and drive us to our cars in New Haven.  Not ideal, but workable.

Walking from the 86th Street station to the Met drove several ugly truths home to me.  I've been out of shape for a long time, but the last three years have deteriorated that even further.  Sue wasn't walking at anywhere *near* her usual pace (she claimed that her ankle hurt, but I suspect she was just being exquisitely polite), and it was *killing* me.  Now, I always sweat, pant, and go bright red under ANY exertion.  Always have.  But my legs should not have felt like that, and I should not have needed to sit down that badly.  Terrible.  Humiliating.  Unhealthy.  I'm going to start walking at work whether Kari will come with me or not.

We grabbed lunch first off because we were both dry and hungry, and then headed up for the exhibit we came for: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.  Surprisingly to us it wasn't in the Costume Institute, it was in one of the large special exhibition galleries just off of the 19th and 20th century European paintings.  We headed up there, got to the sculpture gallery, and found the line.  It was a line that made one apprehensive, and we realized we probably should have done the Met FIRST.  But we headed for the end.  It went to the end of the sculpture gallery and headed left into the Near East galleries - and this wasn't a single file line, it was multiple people wide.  At that point Sue commented "this is a lovely museum with many interesting things to see," but I wanted to at least see how far the line went.  It went all the way to the end of the Near East galleries, and almost out into another section.  I think we were both ready to throw in the towel, but one of the staff said "it's about a 30 minute wait at this point."  Sue said "how much is a membership?" because members got to jump the line.  But we decided to give it a try.  The estimate was wrong.  We didn't know that yet though.  She also pointed out that the line was only going to get worse - going away and coming back later wouldn't get you anything good.

The psychology of lines is interesting.  At the beginning, we moved right along, and at about 15 minutes it wasn't so bad.  Then it stopped, and that's where the psychology comes in.  Once past a certain point, you become invested.  You feel that if you walk away now, you've wasted that span of time, and it's worthwhile to keep waiting.  Naturally, the longer you wait, the more invested you become in attaining whatever you have been waiting for.  I wonder if anyone has ever studied that?

The people watching was actually pretty fun - we saw some *amazingly* done up people, and chatted a bit with the couple behind us - nice guy.  In the end, we waited for just about an hour.  When we got to the front we saw why - they wouldn't let a new group into the exhibit until the first room cleared - and members got to jump the line.  So every time the area would start to clear, a new batch of member - and I suspect NEW members would fill it up.  They were hawking memberships at the end of the line, so I suspect that a lot of people actually did what we joked about - ran downstairs, bought the lowest level membership, and came back upstairs with their new card. It was infuriating, and made it impossible to predict how the line would move.  But eventually they let us in.

The galleries were crowded, what a shock, and several of them were not set up to flow well - especially in a crowd.  We skipped a few very densely packed corners because neither of us were in the mood to shuffle through the crowd at that point, but I think we saw 90% of it.  There were some things I hated and some things I like (one empire-waisted gown was *gorgeous*), but the whole thing was interesting.  Was it worth an hour in line?  Heck no.  Am I glad that I got to see it?  Yes, definitely.

After that we hit the bookstore, where shockingly neither of us bought anything.  Their selection of manuscript reference is not what it was years ago.  Or I have too many books already.  Or both...

Sue suggested a cab back to Grand Central, and I thought that sounded like a fine idea.  We had a leisurely cupcake from a really good little bakery in the station, and found our train.  Having failed to buy anything, we were forced to talk to each other on the ride back.  :-)  After we parted ways in the parking garage, I decided to take advantage of being in New Haven and stopped at Ikea.  I needed a light bulb and two shelves, so of course I came home with four shelves, two bookcases, a stool and, surprisingly, the light bulbs.  I pulled into the garage literally moments before the rain.

It was an odd day, but fun.  It's been a while since Sue and I spent a day together, and I've missed it.

Today was home centered.  First thing I put the first layer of mud on one of the GMEP 2011's living room holes.  I'm out of practice.  After that I played with Charlotte in the sandbox to keep her busy while Bob mowed the lawn.  While he finished that up I pruned the forsythia that is trying to take over the world, and then cut down the rhododendron.  I'm having pruner's remorse over the rhodi, but I'll see what it does.  It's a pretty white, so if it comes back I'm willing to let it be.  If it decided to die, I'll pull out the stump and plant hollyhocks.  Either way it will be good - next year.  For this year it'll be kind of bare.  After that, we decided to prune some branches and cut down some trees.  We need a chain saw - this cutting trees down by hand crap sucks.  We took down some small trees to open up the driveway, pruned off some branches, and cleaned up a very small amount of the frontage.  We also took down a dead tree was right up on our power lines.  Turned out that it had been an oak tree, and the heartwood was still sound.  That just sucked.  But it's down, and now I don't have to worry that it's going to fall on our lines.  The rest of the trees require a chainsaw.  Seriously.

Tomorrow night I'll sand and put the second coat of mud on the patch.  I really want to paint in on Tuesday and put the furniture back.