Donna and Larry's hospitality remains unparalleled, especially for the already travel-weary. A 'Larry martini' is still equivalent to a week at a spa; the champagne that flows is not the cheap stuff that gives you leg cramps; yes - I ate my first grilled filet mignon in 19 years and loved it - oh, with fresh New Jersey white corn-on-the-cob and strawberry shortcake (I thought I'd die of summer joy). Our niece, their daughter Sara came over to join us and help me out with wedding clothes possibilities.
We spent the next afternoon at Seward Johnson's fabulous "Grounds for Sculpture" in nearby Hamilton. As I mentioned in last year's dispatch, he is the octogenarian, eccentric part-heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune. He is known for his realistic bronze figures that startle passers-by around the world. The restaurant area is set in the tranquil replication of Monet's Garden at Giverny. There are several of Seward's installations nearby. We then embarked upon the acres of manicured natural beauty and sculptures by other artists, as well, that were missed last year in a rainstorm.
It is just as hard to believe from up-close, live, that this young woman's towel and clothing are also made of bronze!
Here is the lovely and evocative Nine Muses by Carlos Dorrien:
Dinner was Italian, at a local favorite of Donna and Larry's, Vidalia. It was another perfect summer night.
On Monday morning we caught the train to Manhattan for three days of wedding clothes-hunting and the nourishment Manhattan offers the souls of devotees. I had to give up on the turquoise silk mother-of-the-groom dress I was trying to sew in Brazil; house construction headaches, the World Cup raging, sewing/dying problems and schedule squeezes prompted my decision to go to 'Plan B:' shop in New York City at the incredible second-hand shops. I will adapt that attempted dress into a non-wedding dress to use in Brazil, which means the problematic sleeve can now be sleeveless and the non-matching turquoise bottom panel of crepe chiffon can now be black. (A week of bleaching and soaking the turquoise crepe chiffon in ever-stronger red hibiscus tea to tweak the color enough to match the turquoise silk resulted in the phenomenon of a color that WOULD NOT BUDGE. Hats off to the most permanent color I have ever encountered.)
This was our first time to stay in the Chelsea neighborhood, and we loved it. The Leo House - a Catholic 'hotel' on 23rd between 8th and 9th which has been recommended by a couple of friends - proved economical, convenient, and requiring only the removal of the room's hanging crucifix for total comfort. I had a list of the best second-hand shops in the area, so off we went on the sidewalks of New York - the whole point, always! Newton found a great Ralph Lauren suit right away which required tailoring for the pants, but turned out perfectly. I finally found my dress replacement on the third day - whew. It fit like a glove and was so very beautifully made - even the lining was silk.
We loved happening upon places like this mid-block tavern for lunch:
The Blanche de Chambly was a perfect draft beer for summer!
Can you believe my beloved girlfriend, Flavia, from Natal was in NYC just then? We met for a great lunch at Chelsea Market on Tuesday while Newton went off to New Jersey for a meeting with his partners. She recommended a tapas bar half a block from our hotel none-too-soon; we were too exhausted to walk any further for dinner that evening, and it was our favorite!
El Quinto Pino on 24th at 9th Avenue.
I went uptown to Seigo Neckware to buy Newton's promised Father's Day wedding tie. I had recently read an article in the NY Times about the Japanese man who hand sews his ties from Japanese silk. Our dear friend Pierre had already sent a handsome silk handkerchief for Newton and a small pearl purse for me. With the handkerchief in hand, I marveled at the gorgeous selection and bought the perfect tie. I also bought a pink polka-dot birthday tie for Jake's honeymoon cruise; such a marvelous place for someone who loves selecting ties!
This photo is sneaked in from the future - Jake on cruise!
The wedding plot thickened on Wednesday evening with the family gathering in from points north and west for an early dinner at Carmine's in Times Square, ahead of a show:
Then followed "Avenue Q," an hilarious X-rated muppet musical. Several from the wedding party and some poker friends joined us (in from Las Vegas, North Dakota, Puket, Thailand and Germany!).
Against our better judgment, we joined this happy team of partiers after the show and persevered till 4:00am, when we made our lone departure via subway.
Thursday morning we only had to drag our luggage and newly-tailored suit over to 6th Avenue to catch the Path Train to Hoboken, NJ to pick up our rental car. Here is a nice view of Manhattan from Hoboken:
All was moving quickly now; wedding momentum underway!