Monday, December 22, 2014

Rest from the raging, harried days ...

Two turtle doves. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, December 22, 2014. It’s four-thirty on Sunday afternoon as I write this. The Sun has set on the shortest day of the year. Those of us who are “depressed” by the shorter days of this season can now look forward to the days getting longer until finally we are back at Daylight Savings Time.

In the meantime we are only two days from Christmas Eve, and it looks like we won’t be seeing any of the white stuff on our doorsteps Christmas Eve, according to the weather man. No sleigh bells jingling, and no reindeers prancing over the moon, but instead just some rain and temps in the low 50s. I’d rather the snow but that’s the kid in me. Otherwise I love this time of the year – the last week of the year – because the city quiets down considerably and gives everyone a rest from the raging, harried days that have been surrounding us.
Everywhere you look now in the city, there are amazing holiday displays. This entrance to the Peninsula on West Fifty-fifth Street and Fifth Avenue is spectacular and is enhanced by the dull great wintry light. It lights up the corner. It so happens that the hotel's limousine is that same dark green as the evergreen above the marquee, so when parked in front, it looks like an ad for a luxury hotel, which of course is what it is. Four doors down, going west is Michael's.
Westsider Rare & Used Books always has a fresh piece of sidewalk art or pavement art on Fridays. I go over there every weekend to Zabar's, and never miss an opportunity to photograph this. Something to think about, to take away. A nice something ...
I had dinner with Duane Hampton on Saturday night but before dinner, I went over to see her tree. If I had had a tree like that when I was a kid I would have thought "this is the greatest Christmas tree I've ever seen and it's in my own house!" Now I kinda feel the same way, except it's in Duane's house. Her grandchildren will see it on Christmas Day.
I took this because of the ballet slipper, but look around because there are all kinds of things to notice ...
Duane's late husband Mark Hampton painted those stars as tree decorations when they were first married and had no ornaments. The Santa caps have their two daughters names on them -- Kate and Alexa.
I could have spent more time and photos taking closeups because there was beautiful and interesting little things tucked in corners and under branches. I kept thinking of the little ones seeking all the "secret" ornaments ...
Sette Mezzo on Saturday night was pretty busy. This isn't unusual except at this time of year, just before the big holidays, a lot of the neighborhood begins to clear out to sunnier or snowier climes. The soup is a puree of beets and carrots, no cream. As delicious as it is beautiful.
Fernando and Andy writing up their checks. These guys are always smiling. Which is a very good thing to see when you go into a restaurant. But with these guys, I somehow think there's something funny about the whole thing. Like maybe it's the customer, you-know-who.
It’s the lead up to this time, the pressures of the day-to-day life in the city, that finally gets to people. A friend of mine was telling me how on her way to JFK the other day, her taxi got caught in a gridlock on Grand Central Parkway. The traffic was at a standstill as far as the eye could see. Nobody was moving. Behind her was another taxi whose driver was laying on his horn every minute or so. It was pointless, obviously.

Finally, my friend’s driver, frustrated and annoyed, got out of his car and walked back to the car behind him. He was a big guy – 6’2”, 240 pounds – and he sauntered back to the car behind him, asked the honking driver to get out of his car so he could have a word with him.

The guy got out of his taxi. My friend’s driver than said to the honker, “you’re driving everyone crazy with your honking when you can see nobody can move. You’re just stressed like the rest of us, and you need a good hug!” Thereupon my friend’s driver gave the irate honker a big hug for about a half minute. That was all it took. The honker got back into his taxi and no more honking. And finally, of course, the traffic started moving again.

Toby and Madame a few weeks ago. Although she's almost 12 years older than he, she runs faster and moves quicker -- which is her way of telling him who's boss around this corral. Sometimes when they're playing (wrestling, etc.), and she's had enough, she bites him, he screeches and she walks away. I took this picture last summer when he first arrived. His head has been shorn since then. But his coat feels like the finest silk. I've never had a dog with such a silky coat. I also don't think I've ever had a dog who chews up as much as he does. Or would, could he.
Missy a/k/a Madame who is my 12-year-old Shih Tzu has been in heat for the past ten days or so. I never got around to getting her spayed, and she never had a litter. A few years ago I asked her vet if we should, and she said at her age it wasn’t necessary anymore.

However. I now have Toby who came to join us from the Bide-a-Wee last August. He has what you could call indefatigable energy. A puppy. He’s a sweet little guy and his fur is so silky I’m amazed. He’s supposed to be a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Maltese. More of the latter although no yapping.

Anyway, although he’s been “altered,” Toby is quite excited about Madame’s current state of grace, and has been at Madame’s backside almost 24/7. In fact he’s obsessed, and of course animals are like porn actors, they do everything right there in the room for anyone present to see. In the broad daylight.

And Toby has been just mad for Missy, especially in her current state; and Missy hasn’t minded it. I know it’s the “heat” because Missy doesn’t ordinarily go for that kind of unrelenting attention from any dog. Yes a little tumble here and there, and then, drop it boy, and she leaves the scene.

However, now it’s like she’s smitten. On Friday, when I was out at a lunch, my friend Barbara Preminger, who was here helping me out with my mail and stuff, called me about 2:30 in a state of panic. Toby had been mounting Madame and humping her. She was at his service. I’ve seen this go on before but I didn’t know how far it could go.

It seems that Toby in his carnal fervor had penetrated Madame and was doin’ his thing, until he realized that he couldn't un-penetrate himself, and so he started screeching.

Madame of course was only trying to help but what could she do (“I think I’ll have a dirty dry vodka martini please ...”) while he’s screeching away. Barbara also didn’t know what to do. She tried pushing them apart but ... uh-uh, they weren’t parting ... and Toby kept up the screeching.  So finally she went into my bathroom cabinet and got a jar of Vaseline and applied it “forthwith” to the poor rake. And with one final screech, they were departed from each other. And the romance was put on the shelf for a few hours. That night I saw the same. They were locked back to back and just standing there like two dogs who couldn’t figure out which direction to move in. I moved them with my hands. He was relieved once again. Today, Sunday, the bloom appears to be off the rose and Toby’s nursing his wounds, so to speak, quietly. Madame still appears to be crazy about him, however.
I ran into this sweet little pup (looks senior) in front of the Duane Reade on Sixth Avenue. A woman was tying his leash up to the subway entrance while she was running into the store. I asked her if she were actually going to leave him alone on the street -- which is mortally dangerous for dogs for many reasons. I told her that as she dashed into the store ignoring me. So I stood there with the dog -- who was very sweet and immediately friendly, probably frightened. (You don't have to be a stranded dog to be very frightened.) She actually never tied him up but just threw the leash over a bar. She came back about four or five minutes later. She behaved as if I were not there but I told her it was very unsafe for the dog to be alone on the street. With a smirk on her face she walked away. I called out to her, telling her she was an "asshole." She stopped and looked in my direction and said: "You have very bad command of the language." It was funny. But sad in many ways these days.
Last night I had dinner with an old friend Cathy Callender whom I have known here in New York since I first came to live here after college. Swifty's was buzzing too. Lee Radziwill was dining at the window table with her daughter and with William Ivey Long.
More holiday windows: This was at Lexington Gardens, right next door to Swifty's.
And this is the window at William Poll on 75th and Lex. The skaters are moving and the Gingerbread dolls are dancing (not really) outside the Gingerbread House. There was another one on the other side of the skating rink but I couldn't get them both in close enough so you could see how elaborate and charming the display. I ran into Angus Willkie on his way home and he stopped to look too. Then we started telling each other our favorite William Poll items. There are lots of them. The guacamole is to stay away from unless you're prepared to gorge yourself with it and their bagel chips.
More Dawgs .... The Animal Medical Center (AMC) hosted its Top Dog Gala a couple of weeks ago at Cipriani. The benefit, which raised nearly $2 million in support of The AMC's mission to promote the health and well-being of companion animals through advanced treatment, research and education, was co-chaired by Ina Garten, Nancy Kissinger, Barbara Liberman, Annette de la Renta and Robert Couturier. The distinguished guest of honor was famed designer and artist David Monn — with tributes to two very special dogs: Swoosh, a petite pet therapy dog currently participating in a landmark clinical trial of therapy dogs in a pediatric oncology study at Vanderbilt University's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital, with his owner, Michelle Thompson; and Military Working Dog Dyngo, a Bronze Star Medal recipient on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, with Tech. Sgt. Justin Kitts.
The honorees: Rebecca Frankel, author of War Dogs, Sgt. Nofo Lilo, Michelle Thompson and Swoosh, Kathryn Coyne, CEO of The Animal Medical Center, Tech. Sgt. Justin Kitts and Dyngo, and David Monn.
Dr. Henry Kissinger and Swoosh. Chairman Robert Liberman, with CEO Kate Coyne and Swoosh.
Co-Chair Ina Garten and Jeffrey Garten with Co-Chair Barbara Liberman.
Elaine and Ken Langone and Swoosh.
Sue Ann Weinberg. David Monn and Sammy.
AMC Trustee Donna Acquavella and Bill Acquavella.
Mary Sharp Cronson, Tom Gold, and Susan Baker.
Susan Braddock and Emilia Saint Amand. Dixon and Arianna Boardman.
Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Peter Heywood, Emilia Fanjul, and Jackie Weld Drake.
Trustee Michael Heaner, Wendy Lash, Chairman Robert Liberman, David Michaud, Libby McCarthy, and Trustee Neil McCarthy.
Travis and Nick Acquavella, Alex Acquavella, and Mollie Ruprecht.
Trustee Elaine Langone, Veronica and Ray Kelly, Dr. Henry Kissinger, and Father Walter Smith.
Co-Chair Robert Couturier, Gayfryd Steinberg, and Michael Shnayerson.
Cass and Jason Adelman.
Bill and Kathy Rayner (AMC Trustee).
Libby and Neil McCarthy.

Contact DPC here.