from Sandy Needham

Monday, September 5, 2016

USA Travel Dispatch: Northeast


My friends are gradually retiring. David Barrow, my fellow textile designer buddy since '78, joined our ranks in May and, therefore, picked me up at Laguardia Airport! I flew in from Chicago for a weekend in Easton with him and his magnificent wife and daughter. 

Helen Webb, Amelia & David
I was so happy to be back in their charming cottage and garden (with chickens!). Newton was arriving from his Grand Canyon rafting trip the following evening.

In the meantime, David and I visited the wonderful Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, while Helen worked and Amelia swam in the Long Island Sound. We had plenty of time to catch up in slow-moving Saturday traffic.

David did not only sit and stare at his phone during the museum visit...just this quick communication with Amelia and the resulting photo-op!

Newt arrived flush with the grandeur of his rafting trip. Karen - "Mac" - another close friend from Northwestern University and her husband, Steve, who know David and Helen by coincidence, joined us for dinner on the patio. The planets were really lined up for us: we had a rip-roaringly fun dinner followed by a throwback walk under cover of the sprawling trees, giggling like 20-year-olds! Steve and Mac were about to leave for some months in Africa.

David just had to show us his Halloween costume (he has the tux pants)! Ruffle-y as it is, he has really tamed down his game since some decades back when he sported Ethel Merman's original Broadway cowgirl costume from "Annie Get Your Gun." Impossible to outdo that one.

Next day was a hike on a lush trail by the local stream. 


David demonstrated his significant rock-skipping ability
We had a great outdoor lunch in Westport. That evening offered the perfect summer setting for "Hamlet" in the park! What fun to be reminded of the countless phrases lent to the English language from this play: "I must be cruel only to be kind." "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

See you in Brazil someday, David, Helen and Amelia?!


We received quite a shock one week before leaving Brazil for the US. We had a month long simultaneous home exchange arranged with a couple, Ben and Elisa, in "NOHO" - North of Houston in Greenwich Village. We received word that Ben had been rushed to the hospital and required two stints inserted and blood thinners. He would be unable to travel to Brazil. We spent the first full day after this news like deer in the headlights; just stunned. Thirty-one nights in New York City, no longer for free? Th-That's a lot of money.

Hearing about our plight, Elise's dear friend Stephanie put us in touch with a friend of hers up in the Bronx who was able to rent out her apartment for nine days. She gave us a reasonable price and the refurbished building was part of a two-block "gentrified" neighborhood just one subway stop past Manhattan on the Lex line. We grabbed the chance and enjoyed the stay, both for the neighborhood restaurants with a great diverse bar scene and the convenience of riding easily to Manhattan destinations.

Our building

Charlie's Bar & Kitchen in our building and Mott Haven Bar & Grill down the block were our Bronx favorites.

Living room/bedroom
Beautiful roof garden where we enjoyed evening picnics

In the meantime, Ben and Elisa worked out a two-week visit with friends upstate during which we could, indeed, use their home in the Village! We only needed to solve five more nights.


Larry & Donna closing on their new house
My sister Donna and her husband, Larry (just retired!), recently moved from New Jersey to Maryland to live close to their two granddaughters, outside Washington DC. I would be seeing Donna shortly elsewhere at the Needham sisters' reunion, but Newton and I inquired if we might catch a bus down from NYC to see them in their new home. Of course they agreed, being among the most helpful and hospitable people ever. We spent five nights, saw our nieces and grandnieces, celebrated the Fourth of July, and passed some happy hours with a favorite couple of ours.
At a local winery

On the new deck

At the local Flying Dog Brewery
To celebrate the Fourth of July, our niece Amy arrived with her family and we all attended a local minor league baseball game with fireworks afterwards. I cannot imagine a more Americana celebration; it was perfect! Amy and her husband Sean both work in DC.

Amy & Sean
Our grandniece Allison with our niece Amy photo-bombing!
Our grandniece Paige, with Allison photo-bombing!
Our niece Sara
The girls love their Aunt Sara, who joined us the next day from New Jersey. She conducted a fun treasure hunt for Allison and Paige in German, being a high school German teacher. We each came up with individual challenges as the clues were solved. What fun to watch these super-smarties in action.

After a real Fourth of July cook-out with hot dogs and hamburgers, Allison and Paige helped Donna prepare our special red, white and blue shortcake dessert in Donna's new kitchen:

The rest of the house turned out well
I had the engaging job of helping Donna finalize the paint colors for the house. Alas, my textile color background served only to a point in the end; they had to have the entry powder room repainted when my "quince" selection ended up looking like "greenish mustard." Oh dear.

Frederick is a charming town, and Donna and Larry's new home already breathes the spirit of the merry hospitality for which they are famous. Thank you, Sis and Bro.

Off to our half-long home exchange in Manhattan!


1 comment:

  1. All I can say is your niece, Sara, could have been your twin so many years ago. She is a beauty.


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