Guided Walk in the Arboretum

Created in the 1960s by Cornell undergraduate architecture students, these sculptures enabled students to learn first-hand about sculpture, design, engineering, and carpentry.

The Cornell Botanic Gardens is one of the many great gems in our area.  We joined a few other folks for a splendid walk through parts of the F. R. Newman Arboretum led by “Garden Guide” Dr. Peter Davies, a retired Cornell professor (46 1/2 years!) and expert on plant physiology.

We learned about fall colors, the dominance of green chlorophyll pigment which breaks down in the fall to reveal the yellow and orange carotenoids, and the anthocyanins generated by some species to create the vivid reds and bronzes, notably red maples here in the northeast.

We also learned of the effects of, and losing battle against, invasive species and the homogenization of the biosphere throughout the world.  We also learned of Ithaca’s four seasons: pre-Winter, Winter, post-Winter, and Construction season.

It was a comprehensively entertaining and interesting stroll on a beautiful Fall day. The Arboretum is a wonderful and ever-changing place to visit any time of year–highly recommended.

Back To School For Me

This piece, made from soda lime glass in a Corning Museum of Glass studio is my first-ever attempt at hot glass forming. (Substantial assistance was provided by a very experienced glass blowing instructor.)

I am very fortunate to be selected to train to become a Corning Museum of Glass “Glass Guide” (formerly called a docent).  I’ll be trained over the next several months to learn the basics of the art, history, and technology of glass; become more familiar with CMoG’s glass works and resources spanning 3500 years; and learn how to help the Museum’s guests have an enjoyable and rewarding experience at the Museum.

I was motivated to pursue this as a retirement activity to do something worthwhile for the community, challenge my brain with continuous new learning experiences, and “rub elbows” with some superbly talented Museum staff and a rich variety of guests.

Basically this is about my health.  Lori and I have the fundamentals of diet and exercise covered but I need something to keep the noggin healthy.  Research has shown that challenging the mind is crucial to it’s continued function and combating many of the effects of aging. Similarly, maintaining quality social interactions has great benefits for emotional and mental health.

I couldn’t think of a much more effective way to keep mentally active than working at a world-class museum with the world’s largest collection of glass objects, the world’s most comprehensive library of all materials related to glass, and an extraordinary staff devoted to research, teaching, and sharing the fascinating story of this one substance.

My first day of class I even got to make my first piece of glass art in one of the glass studios.  How cool is that?

 

Acadia, September 2019

We spent a week in Maine, mostly in Acadia National Park, and mostly canoeing and hiking when we weren’t relaxing in a very comfy, quiet, and roomy rental home. Our friend Stella joined us. We all had a great time in an extraordinary part of the country with ideal weather most of the time. We avoided the worst of the summer crowds jamming the place by visiting after Labor Day.

 

Taughannock Falls State Park Walk

At 215 feet high, Taughannock Falls is the highest single-drop plunge waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.

We hiked the rim trail circuit around Taughannock Falls State Park yesterday. It’s a reminder of how fortunate we are on several fronts:

  • We’re retired and can do things like this during the week on short notice. We usually only see a few other geezers and geezettes (if any) unlike on the weekends and holidays.
  • We’re healthy and fit enough to enjoy things like this. (Although this hike is easy, it’s daunting or out of the question for some of our friends and neighbors.)
  • We live within a few minutes drive of a wealth of parks, preserves, and trails here in this part of the Finger Lakes.

Looking at Taughannock Falls, it’s mind-boggling to know the walls are carved from deposits made over 300+ million years.  The carving itself started with the retreat of the last ice age glacier around 10,000 years ago and continues to this day as each year the waterfall retreats a few more inches, extending the gorge away from Cayuga Lake. Water, freezing, and thawing continue their inexorable excavation. I look forward to seeing what the place looks like in another 10,000 years.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Returning from a great concert by Pat Metheny at Smith Opera House in Geneva with friends Bill and Lanie, we stopped by for a quick visit to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a curious juxtaposition of the NYS Thruway and a 10,000-acre wetland refuge for birds and other wildlife.  Our brief cursory visit was rewarded with egrets, herons, kingfishers, ospreys, geese, and all kinds of other brown ducks we weren’t familiar with.

Handy Gesture

Lori was experimenting with an air-dry clay craft she could work on with the grand-kids. Everything went smoothly with the colorfully-painted cupped hand until Lori tried to pack it up. A finger broke off and Lori tried to repair it with glue and a band aid.  Unfortunately the glue didn’t take and the finger fell off.  It did so in a revealing way.

The resulting gesture created with the failed repair made the piece more, um, Lori-esque. More than likely she herself made the same gesture when she discovered the flawed repair.  (Or at least robustly vocalized a similar sentiment.)

Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life

– Oscar Wilde

With Phamily in Philadelphia

Lori and I enjoyed a long-weekend visit with Naomi and Rich (Lori’s brother) and their children and grandchildren (all above average) in North Wales, PA (a little north of Philadelphia).

Among the highlights, we spent a day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, particularly enjoying the featured The Impressionist’s Eye exhibit and the Yoshitoshi Japanese woodblock print exhibit.

Elsewhere in the museum, I was very pleased to see several well-known Thomas Eakins paintings–he was a favorite since my childhood. And of course there were other numerous immediately-recognizable masterpieces from all over on view.  We didn’t have time to take it all in but that’s why we apparently can return for more another time.

CMOG: New Glass Now Exhibit

Lori and I had the pleasure of visiting Corning Museum of Glass‘s New Glass Now exhibit, an extraordinary display of contemporary work from artists all over the world. We were highly impressed by the skill and creativity showcased in this spectacular collection beautifully displayed by the Museum.  See it if you’re anywhere in the vicinity!

Birthmonth Extravaganza Begins

Lori, a patriotic American, was born on the 4th of July but we choose to celebrate not just her birthday but her birthmonth. A joint birthday celebration dinner with our friends Bill (birthday on July 3) and Anne and their daughter Sydney is now a traditional kickoff for the month’s observances.

A hike, preferably in insufferably hot humid weather, is another kickoff event for the month.  This year we cut things a bit short and enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the Cascadilla Gorge Trail after enjoying breakfast and coffee at Collegetown Bagels.

Next up, we’ll have a nice dinner at Gola Osteria, joined by Mike and Kali. Eventually we’ll get back to a proper heat-prostration-inducing hike designed to delight Lori as she marvels at Paul’s inability to cope with miserably oppressive tropical heat and humidity.  Yes, just non-stop fun for all of July.  Happy birthmonth Lori!

 

NYC, June 2019

Lori and I enjoyed our annual long-weekend jaunt down-state where we visited with Stella who expertly (and fearlessly) drove us in to Manhattan on a couple days for touring, museum-watching, eating and drinking. New York City seems to be in a frenzied building boom every time we visit. We explored some of the more recent projects including The Shed, The Vessel, The Oculus, and the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial.  Then it was off to old-favorite museums and new-discovery restaurants.  What an amazing place.