Monday, July 17, 2006

New York (the state)

Once again I've let the blog get behind and have a ton of things to write.

Last week we got back from a two week vacation in New York (the state). Our flight home got in about 9 PM and we got home about 1 AM. I don't know how Mark managed to get into work the next day.

Arthur was the best child on the plane both ways. On the way back there was a particularly insane child three rows ahead of us, so in contrast every other child on the plane was a veritable angel.

The Dwyers are doing well; we managed to spend time with all of Mark's brothers and sisters. We flew into Newark Airport and then rented a car so we could drive to Suffern, New York, where Mark's mother, Mary, and two sisters, Melora and Melissa live. Suffern was our home base. Everyone was quite excited to see Arthur, especially Kristina, Melissa's daughter. We got (somewhat) adjusted to the time zone in time to drive to Buffalo July First.

While we were in the air flying to Suffern, the bank was trying to reach us. They'd forgotten to have us sign some piece of paper and they wondered if we could pop in and sign it. We'd only been telling them for about two weeks that we were going on vacation. So there was an afternoon of frantic FAXing. Everything got straightened out, but at one point Mark was considering flying back to Oregon to sign everything.

July First we drove to the wedding celebration. Driving to Buffalo was somewhat entertaining as it was the July Fourth weekend and just a few days before many of the roads in New York (the state) had been flooded out by torrential rains. Arthur traveled well, and we had a nice stop on the Erie Canal where we saw some old stonework and various unattractive joggers.

Mark's oldest brother, Michael, lives in Buffalo with his family. Laura, one of Michael's daughters, had a large wedding celebration with tiki torches, inflatable totem poles, faux grass skirts, and lots and lots of games. The Dwyers took up most of a wing of a local Mariot. Mark's sister, Maria, and her family; and Mark's other brother, Matthew, and his family came up for the celebration. I'm afraid I only saw it on tape, but during the celebration the three brothers did an improvised tiki torch dance that was pretty funny (think Ooompa-loompas in grass skirts).

July 3rd, several of us went to Ontario to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. It was obligatory that we ride the Maid of the Mists to get as close as possible to the falls. Arthur was great in the line to the boat, and then slept through the entire twenty minute aquatic adventure. The falls were pretty; it's amazing how much water flows over them.

While we were in Ontario, we got a chance to visit a butterfly conservatory. I got a some really good shots of butterflies up close. Even though we stayed much, much later than we had initially imagined we would, Arthur was a real trouper through it all.

July 4th, we had a nice breakfast and visit with Michael and Karen (and Christian and Patrick) before setting out to visit Amy and Sharon in Ithaca.

Ithaca and Cornell were interesting. It's always fun for me to see buildings that are older than my grandmother (a building in Oregon is old if it was built in 1910). Amy and Sharon fed us wonderful meals and took us on a great tour of Cornell. Amy, Mark and Arthur listened while Sharon and I went up into the bell tower near the Ash Chapel with a chime mistress to see the chimes played. She let Sharon and I sound the noon carillon.

We sped off from Cornell July 5th to visit Mark's sister, Megan, at the Joseph Campbell Center for Symbolic Studies in New Paltz. Megan, her husband, Morgan, and their two boys, Marly and Masio, were all at trapeze camp (which Megan teaches). Megan's class wrapped up and we visited their cabin before finishing our travels back at Mary's in Suffern. Since we were leaving after dark, we stopped back at the trapezes to see all the fireflies. There were lot, they were in the meadow and up in the trees -- it was the most fireflies I have ever seen in once place.

July 6th we hopped into the car again to visit with Lime Green Larry in the City. I actually asked Mark, "So, if people from Oregon are Oregonians, and people from California are Californians, people from New York are ..."

"New Yorkers."

"But," I continued, "people from New York City are..."

"From the city."

Anyway, we got into the city a little early, so we went on a photo outing of the city, and wound up at the Museum of Natural History. It was funny; I love their astronomy section, but it's all astronomy 101 stuff. So after about a half-hour looking at suns and planets and the spiral of time, we went into the dinosaur exhibits. The taxonomy is exhausting, but I always feel like I'm learning something new. Mark decided that Arthur needed to have all the dinosaur's feet pointed out to him. Judging from the photographs, I think he might have been looking at their teeth instead.

We met Larry at the Rockafeller Center for a trip to the Top of the Rock. The elevator ride up was really cool; the ceiling went clear so you could see the blue LEDs in the elevator shaft, and they had a timeline of TV playing as you ascended. The view was great. The sun was setting and the sky was very clear. Arthur liked the light fixtures.

Larry had to leave us to our own devices, so July 7th was Metropolitan Museum of Art day. Arthur handled it pretty well, but the MET really isn't very infant friendly beyond the Temple of Dendur. Luckily he fell asleep for most of it, and Mark continued to perform the lion's share of child care duties. I think the most interesting object this visit was one of Hatshepsut's sphinxes. The face was more or less in one piece, and the eyes still held a mesmerizing power.

After the Egyptian exhibits, Mark wanted to see the Rembrants -- various pieces that had once been united as an alter were reassembled for the first time in many years. I think of the Rembrant exhibit the most interesting piece was the top where God and some angels were posing with a sphere or two; the angels had these sort of petulant expressions on their faces.

I'm afraid most portraits don't speak to me jewelry, sculpture and architecture do. I'd say that the most fun painting we saw was one by William Blake that was the parable of the Virgins with the Oil: the foolish virgins lamenting was so over the top it was great. There was also an interesting picture of King David and another one of a kind of flower angel emerging from the mouth of a serpent.

Outside of the museum, on a park and bubble break for Arthur, we saw Cleopatria's Needle (where I met a new best friend who insisted that I try absolutely everything in my and my camera's power to photograph it).

On July 9 we (Mark, myself, Arthur, Mary, Melora, Veronica, Melissa and Kristina) went to the Bronx Zoo. We saw the gorillas, giraffes, African dogs, various rodents, buffalo, wallabies, tortoises, goats, chickens, geese, peacocks, alligators, and prarie dogs. Probably the most funny event was when Arthur, who had been exposed to a battery-powered dancing rodent that sang "Girl, You Really Got Me Now", signed to us (by reaching out and making a pinching motion) that he wanted us to turn on the wallabies -- presumably so they would start gyrating and singing old seventies rock songs.

What I found fascinating was the gorilla exhibit. It was pretty slow for a while, but then a mother gorilla started to express her milk, lick it off of her hand, and then regurgitate it. It looked like she had eaten some grass or other plant material as well. She would repeat this process -- expressing, licking, regurgitating -- and I'm guessing that she was working on creating a kind of semi-digested paste for her infant. What was intriguing was that she would stand on her legs and then sort of bend over like she was one of those glass drinking birds to regurgitate. Her legs seemed engineered to accommodate her large belly as she swiveled at the hip. Then she'd essentially barf up into her hand while the homo sapiens on the other side of the glass said things like eeuw! They eeuws were louder when she licked it all up again. I couldn't help thinking about all the pagan imagery of the Sacred Mother's milk and in my mind I could hear my friend Gra saying, "Ha! Where is your Goddess Now?"

July 10th we (Mark, Arthur, Mary, Melora and myself) visited a lake with Megan and her boys. Arthur really liked the lake and wanted to play in the water for a really long time. It's a good thing he seems to like cold water because that's what he'll get when we visit the Oregon coast. This was our last day in New York (the state), and we had racked up about 1500 miles in travelling.

July 11th was the day we journeyed back to Oregon. It was a long day, but fairly easy -- we got back to Eugene around 1 AM.

Now we're back and we own a house. We're in the throes of repainting and we'll have to pack up everything we own in about three weeks -- stay tuned.
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