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Conservatory Garden cherry trees

A friend insisted I visit the Conservatory Garden yesterday on a simply beautiful Spring afternoon, when the cherry trees were in full bloom.  So we went.  I was just amazed.

I’d like to think that I know about places in New York -even if I’ve never visited them. But I didn’t know about this jewel of a public garden located in Central Park.  You get in from the Vanderbilt Gate, at 5th and 105th Street.  From the moment you enter, you’re lightyears away from the sounds and smells of New York City.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that if you’re not distracted by the birds, you probably can still hear some faint sounds of construction going on across the street at El Museo del Barrio.)

As a public garden, which is free, it is beautifully maintained, with every hedge row perfectly clipped, and every flower bed diligently tended by crews from the Central Park Conservancy.

The cherry trees were obviously in bloom and we noticed a few lilac trees also about to bloom. Only one of the 3 fountains was turned on and many of the flowers had not yet bloomed.

There were some people there yesterday afternoon, but there were also many benches available to sit and listen to the birds, smell the blossoms or read a chapter or two.  There was a small group of young children sitting by one of the flower beds with drawing pads on their laps.

People enjoying the canopy of cherry trees.

It really is a lovely place to spend some time and forget about anything except how beautiful nature is.

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The first new tiles to be laid down in the kitchen!

This may not look like much but this is the first section of the kitchen floor to have the new, gray, 12″ x 24″  tiles laid down.  It’s also the first new installation for the renovation that will be visible.  There have already been major amounts of bx electrical cable woven through the thick masonry walls to replace the somewhat questionable electrical wiring that was there. That new electrical work is probably the single biggest part of the entire renovation, but once the walls are plastered, it will disappear.  These nice gray tiles will remain.

We laid them out so that the long side of the rectangle would be at right angles to the walls.  The intention was to try to make the kitchen, which is relatively narrow, seem wider.  We’ll see if it works.

You’re looking at the door to the service entrance in what was the butler’s pantry–a narrow extension which was originally contrived to be the place one stored food, linens or china.  It was not the part of the kitchen where the actual food preparation was done.

My renovated kitchen will be true to that historical precedent. The butler’s pantry will remain where I’ll be storing dishes and food, once the new cabinets are installed the first week in May.

There’s something very quaint about even having a part of one’s apartment called “the butler’s pantry”, even though I, obviously, won’t have a butler.  It preserves a little of the formality of the past, which is nice.  At least I can imagine I’m in the set of ‘Downton Abbey’, as I grab a mug for a morning cup of coffee.

I’ve progressed in my thinking since the posting on March 21st, when I grudgingly accepted the idea of a television larger than the 22″ one I had in Brooklyn.

Instead of agreeing to the very expensive proposal by the contractor’s audio-visual consultant, I decided to spend some time at a Best Buy store on Broadway and West 62nd Street.  In addition to looking at different sized TV’s, I also asked about a service they call their “Magnolia Home Theater”.  For $99, you get a consultation in your residence by someone from their Geek Squad, who discusses with you what you want and how you might get there with wiring and products.

It was a well-spent $99 investment, which, by the way, goes toward any products I subsequently purchase at Best Buy.

The consultation was arranged for last Friday and Mike, from the Geek Squad,  spent a good hour and a half, looking at the floor plans, walking around the rooms, and asking me what it was I wanted in the way of audio-visiual equipment.

It was exciting to me to learn that with the help of just one long speaker, which could be positioned under the television, I would have excellent sound both for the TV and for something called a Sonos audio system in the living room.  This same Sonos system works wirelessly so I could have music in the living room, the dining room (if I wanted it) , and even in the kitchen, which I do like to have when I cook big dinners.  Mike also assured me that it would be easy to get the hundreds of CD’s I now have into my ipod library.  I’m not positive but I think I can then control the music I play with my iphone.  Did I mention that the equipment is pretty invisible?   The main Sonos box is about the size of a boutique tissue box.

I already knew I would be set up with wi-fi, which should work much more dependably in this (horizontal) apartment than in my 4-story house, even if the walls in both residences are masonry.  On Mike’s advice, the contractor is also putting in CAT5 cable for the day when television is streamed through the internet.

The day after this Geek Squad consultation,  I happened to hear an interview with Reid Hoffman, who is a founder of LinkedIn.  His message was simply to extol the virtue of always being “a work in progress” or, as he called it, “a permanent beta”. (Apparently, technology companies keep the “beta” label on software after an official launch to emphasize that the product is not yet finished.)

I think it’s excellent advice.