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Sunday, December 28, 2014


Because the weather forecast for Christmas Eve was not good, wind and lots of rain, we did our tour of the wonderful Christmas windows in Manhattan on December 23.  First was Barney's.  The theme was "Baz Dazzled Holiday" created by director Baz Luhrmann and wife Catherine Martin, which meant fantastical woodland scenes.
Barney's exterior

Metallic mushrooms and a giant boombox

The next 2 window could only be captured properly with movies.

Still shot of window 2. 
Movie of window 2. 
Still shot of window 3.
Movie of window 3. 

Then it was off to Bergdorf Goodman's and the nearby building that always displays large candy canes.

Bergdorf's theme this year was the arts.  Here are some of our favorite parts.




The Literature window didn't really grab me until I realized that all of the portraits of the writers were actually done in needlepoint or embroidery.


Plus a soft-sculpture typewriter by Heidi Hilkin of Charles Butterworth

Even the small windows are interesting

The next treat was the window next door at Van Cleef & Arpels.

Van Cleef & Arpels

After that, it was a stop at Tiffany's.

More jewels on Tiffany's building.  The blank spots in the strings of lights are because the lights made patterns.

 One of the windows.

The 2 twirling, skating dogs were my favorite part of this window.

Harry Winston decorated their building with their traditional jewels of light.

Then it was down to Rockefeller Center to see the tree.  When we got to the tree, it was dark-no lights!  No one knew why.  We didn't get a photo of the tree without lights because just as Don and I went to take photos of the dark tree, the lights came back on.  Seriously, I pushed the button on my camera and the lights came on.

The Rock Center Tree with lights back on, but the star on top has not been turned on.

I found out later, courtesy of the local news, that the lights had been turned off on the tree as a tribute to Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were murdered on the past Saturday.

Saks building

Our next stop was across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue.  The theme was "An Enchanted Experience" and the windows showed fairy tales transplanted to NYC.

The Wicked Witch selling a poisoned apple to Snow White in Times Square

Sleeping Beauty

Rumplestiltskin in the famous, closed City Hall subway stop. 

Red Riding Hood and the wolf


The end windows at Saks displayed 2 costumes made by my friend Janet Bloor.  Sadly, I didn't realize they were hers until we got home so I only took a quick photo of the one costume.

costume by Janet Bloor

A close-up shot

Next on our tour was Lord & Taylor, whose theme was "On Holiday" with human-like animals and fairies.

The Lord & Taylor designer even included Patience and Fortitude, the lions in front of the new York Public Library's research building.

Our last stop was Macy's, whose theme was "Santa's Journey to the Stars"  showing a boy who receives a magical telescope that lets him see Christmas being celebrated across the solar system.

The boy and his telescope

Santa's workshop on Venus

Last minute work under the sleigh

Hmm...a Dalek disguised as a Christmas tree?


Familiar parade


Jupiter and Saturn

Uranus and Neptune

Although Macy's was open for business 24 hours/day, that was the end for us.  As we headed for home, it was so hard to remember that it was only December 23 and that we wouldn't be opening presents the next morning.  Still, our early window tour was a wise decision because the weather on December 24 was not nice!


Friday, November 28, 2014



       Did you ever wonder, as you are eating Thanksgiving dinner, why our national bird is called turkey?  It turns out that the North American turkey (Meleagris gallapova) had traveled the world long before the English settlers encountered it in North America.
       One linguistic story is that the Portuguese, using their new trading privileges granted by the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, brought the turkey, among other items, from Spanish territories in the Americas to Goa, the Portuguese colony in India.  To this day, the Portuguese word for Turkey is peru, perhaps referring to Peru, the South American country.  From India, the turkey was traded to a number of countries, including  Egypt.  There, turkey entered the Turkic language as hindi (from India).  If you are interested in what turkey is called in other languages, take a look at Pulsations. When traders took the turkey to Spain and the British Isles, the bird was named turkey (from Turkey) because Egypt was a province ruled by the Ottomans, a Turkish dynasty. While that's an interesting story, there are questions about whether the Portuguese actually brought back a guinea fowl, a different bird from the American turkey.
      There seems to be more documentation for the North American turkey to have come to the attention of the Spanish conquistador Juan de Grijalva in Mexico in 1581.  Hernan Cortes found both domesticated turkeys kept by the Aztecs and wild turkeys on his expedition just a year later.  The explorers brought the American turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) back to Spain, where it spread to the rest of Europe and the British isles.  The name turkey came from a confusion with the guinea fowl, an African bird that was briefly referred to as turkey because it was thought to have been imported into Europe by way of Turkey (as in theory #1).
      Domesticated turkeys became an important source of meat in Western Europe by 1580.  Turkeys were recognized as very useful birds by sailors and traders because the birds provided more meat than a chicken, could be stored on small cages on ships, and ate just about anything.  George Peckham even suggested that English colonists head to North America take male and female birds with them.
      Imagine the surprise of the English colonists to encounter wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) when they landed in North America!  The bird had come full circle.  So that is a quick version of how our national bird has traveled the world and why we call it a turkey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I realized that I have been remiss in sharing information about some new books, so I will be doing a few book reviews on the blog. The first is Bead Play with Fringe by Jamie Cloud Eakin (JCE Publishing, ISBN: 978-1500777418, around $17.54 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble)

As the title announces, this book is all about fringe. It consists of 94 pages divided into 8 chapters covering topics such as supplies, fringe basics, standard fringe, loop fringe, kinky fringe, branch fringe, twisted and spiral fringe, and basic procedures. One puzzling mistake in the Supplies section that I want to correct is that Silamide thread is not a "rice-filament" but it is actually a pre-waxed, 2-ply, nylon thread with twisted filaments made by the A.H. Rice Company of Pittsfield. MA. Long used in garment construction, this thread has become a favorite of many beaders so its mischaracterization made me wonder about the quality of research.

Aside from that error, there is a lot of information in this book for someone who wants to learn how to make beaded fringe. Chapter 2 has a useful photo index of which fringe instructions are found on which page, making for a quick overview. It also covers treatments for ending fringe and how to attach the fringe to different types of bead stitching, i.e. loom stitch, brick stitch, or herringbone stitch. The subsequent chapters cover specifics of each type of fringe and include projects that are based on a simple ladder of beads so that the reader is concentrating on the fringe techniques; a few fringes have even faster projects of earrings for those impatient beaders. There are lots of illustrations and charts to guide the beginner fringe maker.

The drawback to the book is that the photos are okay but not up to the standard set by the majority of beading books published today. They are good enough for you to sort of see what you are making, but you will be frustrated if you are one of those people who learns better with visual material and counts on clear, detailed photos to guide you. There are a large number of charts and illustrations to make up for the photos, but the presentation of the beadwork is not the eye candy that many expect.

I am not sure how much of the problem with the photos is due to the fact that the book was not done with a high-end, four-color, offset process on coated paper but was done as print-on-demand, which uses a process such as laser or inkjet printing on a matte paper.

Still, this book could prove useful if you are new to beaded fringe and a few ideas might even appeal to experienced beaders. I showed fellow, New York beaders the book to make sure that I wasn’t being too critical and, while they were not impressed with the visual aspects, they thought the book would be useful for beginners. A few ladies thought the spiral fringe looked interesting. So, if the cover of Bead Play With Fringe appeals to you or you are new to fringe, you should find this book helpful.