PAST ISSUES OF THE LATEST ON THE BREIERS
MOST RECENT LATEST ON THE BREIERS
RETURN TO INNER JOURNEYS - OUTER WORLDS
MIDWAY ATOLL May 5 - 12, 2001
Shining like a jewel in the Pacific Ocean, 1,200 miles to the Northwest of Honolulu, Midway Islands welcomes visitors for unparalleled adventures in eco-turism, history, diving and sport fishing. Once the scene of fierce fighting during WWII, this coral atoll with its azure lagoon is now part of The U.S. National Wildlife Refuge system.
And here we are... Barry, Gloria, Karen and I. What a great week of nature walks, sunning, bird watching, bike riding, snorkling, looking at WWII relics and good food. 34 other guests and us... that's it... we had the fine white sand beaches and the wooded trails all to ourselves... except for the 500,000 Gooney Birds, up close and personal.
SEASON'S GREETINGS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2001
On December 7 we went over to Honolulu
and met with Karen's parents who had taken the maiden voyage of the
newly refurbished ship The Patriot that sailed from San Francisco (it will
be plying the waters between the Hawaiian Islands). While on Oahu we all
went to Karen's nephew's house and had dinner there, (see photo).
It has been a busy holiday season for Karen and I. First we prepared for our annual Winter Solstice dinner. We like the Solstice as a holiday since it is a cosmic event rather than one of the holy days of one wisdom tradition or another, nor is it a humanly contrived calender event. This was to be the first time our Solstice Dinner was to be held in the new pavilion using the low pavilion platform as a full-sized upright dining table that seats 14. The following series of photos ahows how the platform becomes a formal dining room table set for that dinner. And then some drinks before dinner.
After our wonderful Thursday eve Solstice
dinner, our Jewish congregation gave a Chanukah party on Friday at the
Keauhou Beach Resort, and 200 came, Jews and non-Jews.
On Sunday, our New Thought Center gave a combined Christmas Eve and fourth day of Chanukah candle-lighting service.
on Monday, Christmas morning we celebrated Christmas with Saya, her boy
friend Tim and Tim's two children, Karina and Cody. Here are some photos
of that occassion including one of Karen and I riding the kid's scooters
down the driveway. Also notice Karen's beautifully decorated tree.
Dec 14, 2000
Karen and I left for the mainland on September 15. We visited with Nicole and Steve at their home in San Anselmo (just north of SF) for two days. We had a great dinner with Nicole, Steve, his parents, Erline and Ted, at a wonderful Sausalito restaurant and the next day Steve and Nicole took off for a bike tour vacation in Provence, France. We house and car sat their place for a week. So here we were, perched on a Marin hillside, a fabulous contemporary home and forever deck, with a Pathfinder and a Miata in the driveway, and a quaint, part hippy, part in, part made-it, town five minutes down the hill. We visited with Jim Hayes, one of Karen's oldest and best friends (photo at left), my cousin Marcus (Uzca, whose cut "Kona-Hora" was just featured in a Putamayo collection CD titled "Jewish Odyssey") and Steve & Sara Sanfield.
Through Marcus we spent time with his granddaughter, Rachel, his daughter, Bonnie, and her boyfriend, a chef in an upscale mission district restaurant. We were later to spend a day with cuz in SF wandering along Union Street, ducking into Haight-Ashbury stores and eating a fabulous meal served graciously by that same boyfriend chef. We used the well air-conditioned Pathfinder for the 4 hour drive through 104 degree heat to get to Nevada City, in the foothills of the Sierras where, 30 years ago Steve collected and built his beautiful house (photo of Steve and me then he and Karen in front of his house). Sara only agreed to join him if he built a real bathroom which sits as a stand alone building out back. We reminisced, talked of the children, of projects in the making (Steve is a poet, children's book writer and storyteller), told tales, drank, noshed, ate, took long walks through the Manzenita, and slept over.
On Friday, Sept 22, we took a flight to JFK and a limo up to son Max and fiancé Lynnette's condo in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. They had announced their engagement a few months earlier (Lynnette and Hilary, Damien's wife, were friends since they were 5 years old) We stayed till Sunday night. We spent Saturday morning watching Max coach "The Mavericks" (a football team he belonged to when he was 11) and the afternoon out on Long Island Sound on their new motor launch (see photos below).
Although we then went North to Redding to stay at Joel and Sandra's place, near to Damien and Hilary's, we saw much of Max and Lynnette in the 5 weeks we stayed in Connecticut. My favorites were:
1) A luncheon at the Hyatt in Old Greenwich where Max's family, including Phyllis, his mother, Skippy, Phyllis's ex-husband and Nicole's father, his wife Barbara, Nicole, and Karen and I met Lynnette's mother, Diane (her father was on job assignment in Seattle), joined by Hilary's parents;The first order of business after arriving at the Cohen's, was seeing our new granddaughter Lillian who was 3 months old (4 months by the time we left). What a joy to hold her (when she wasn't crying loudly for her mom or Millacent, her nanny), watch her get fed, gurgle, smile and become fascinated by the hem of her blanket. Mom and Dad, with Millacent to help, are doing fine. We spent many of the days and some evenings to come at their newly acquired hundred year old house in Wilton, on scenic route 33, which they're planning to renovate shortly. We even baby sat a number of times. Karen was particularly touched by baby Lillian.
2) Max and Lynnette's Engagement party, held out on Damien and Hilary's new flagstone patio, with all the upwardly mobile young men and women looking like an Old Navy ad;
3) Max took me to a play-off Mets night game, had me drinking beer and eating peanuts while screaming for Benny, the Mets Hawaiian outfielder, and they won;
4) Driving with Max to and from Shay Stadium, talking intimately and warmly in his new Exterra;
5) Spending the evening with all the kids, their old friends (who were often around the house while growing up in Greenwich), drinking margaritas and eating a fabulous meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Habanas in Norwalk, and then dancing in a nearby club (capped by a brawl afterwards in which a glass door was shattered by a fist and 4 police cars converged with their sirens blaring, and a drunk uncooperative young man was wrestled to the ground by a falange of cops).
It was a warm Autumn, and Connecticut was
green, with hardly an autumn color visible, when we arrived. When we left,
half the trees had lost their leaves, wintry winds blowing them across
lawns and roadways. We were there through the whole cycle, the beginning,
the peak of glorious New England color, and the stripped filigree of branchings
waiting for the coming winter. Damien was kind enough to lend us his Saab
(they also have a Porsche Carrera, Audi Quattro and a Land Rover... talk
about upwardly mobile) and we toured the winding picturesque country roadways
through it all. We spent a day driving to and from Kent, spent three days
in Manhattan, and was hosted through the rest of our stay by Joel and Sandra.
Our favorite times were:
1) Spending time with Joel and Sandra, eating out, eating in, talking, imbibing various intoxicants, watching DVDs, playing on Joel's computer, helping Sandra paint an old cedar chest we bought (left at the Cohen's with much of our cold weather gear stored inside, see photo), visiting their kids and grand kids, solving the problems of the world, touring in their BMW, having coffee in the morning.
2) One particular day spent with Joel and Sandra in the Bronx first at the Bronx Botanical Gardens, then visiting the apartment building where I grew up (see photo), and then having a sea-food meal out in City Island.
3) A party at Terry and John's apartment on 91st St. off Broadway (where we mostly stay when we're in NY), for one of Terry's grandchildren, with old friend Davey, Joel and Sandra and Terry's family attending.
4) Karen and I spent an afternoon at the NY Museum of Natural History's new Hayden Planetarium... great fascinating and inspiring stuff.
5) 7th row seats at the Metropolitan Opera for us both (we got the tickets from my sister who was called away for her son Ronald's emergency medical problem), to see Debussey's "Paleus and Millicand", an obscure, slightly atonal, 4 hour boring performance in a glorious opera house (with translations of the French on a linear screen attached to the back of the seat in front of you)... a scene nonetheless.
6) Walking through Central Park and the streets of Manhattan, people watching, and eating at various Manhattan restaurants.
7) Spending time with Pat and Judy, Pat's wry humor, Judy's funny stories, talking about old times, new times, our times, times yet to come, force fed by Judy's never ending hospitality.
8) Spending a day with Frank and Cheryl Pomerantz and their son Jacob (14, I think), out at their place in Storrs, good food, good conversation, warm feelings, gracious hosts.
9) Sandra cooking 15 lobsters for a sit-down dinner for both our families at their house. The first photo, taken that afternoon, is of the Breier Family. The second photo is of everyone, left to right standing, Annie (S & J's son Michael's, wife), Karen, Michael, Lynnette, Damien holding Lillian, Joel holding granddaughter Olivia, me, Max, and sitting left to right, Julian held by grandmother Sandra, and Hilary.
Hilary, Damien and Steppenwolf are pleased to announce the arrival of Lillian Strom Breier. Lilly was born at 12:56 pm on 26 June, weighing 7 lbs 7 oz and 19 inches long. Mother and daughter are both happy and healthy.
1. Mom in Labor 2. Lilly and mom about 1/2 hr. after delivery 3. Dad and Lilly in the hospital getting aquainted
4. Mom and Lilly simultaneously feeding 5. Lilly coming home 6. Lilly snug as a bug in a rug at home
Karen and I are grandparents... along with the 5 other grandparents... all for the first time... Carol and Jack Strom, Phyllis, Skippy and Barbara. Mazel Tov to us all.
The Breier Family
Karen and I have been on the east coast for the last three weeks. We went to attend my son Damien and Hilary's wedding. We stayed mostly at our friends Joel and Sandra Cohen's house in Fairfield County Connecticut. It is a lovely old stone building that the Cohens had expanded into a creative and wonderfully hospitable home over the years. Built on a hillside, the front two stories has six levels of decking at the rear (see photo), overlooking a swimming pool, a stream crossed by a foot bridge surrounded by deep forrest growth. We had our own small apartment with its own entry. Joel is temporarily in LaJolla, California working on a new exciting project. I had joined him for a week about a month ago. He came back home for Damien's wedding. While we were there, several mutual friends from Miami came to stay for a few days. Damien had recently acquired a third car.. a Porche Carrera... and Hilary was kind enough to give us her great Audi Quattro to use while we were there.
New England is gloriously beautiful in late Spring. The towering trees are clothed in fresh new green, reminders of their rebirth out of the holding patterns of winter. The dogwoods, lilacs, rhodadendruns, and azalias are in bloom along with all kinds of wild and domestic flowers. Winding country roads snake through the dappled shadows of sun filled afternoons, past ponds and streams, country cottages and imposing mansions, old and new. We drive past stone walls and iron gates, flagstone walks and old growth gardens, buildings nestled into hillsides amidst willows and oaks. We shop in towns picture perfectly punctuated by white churches, stately homes set back by ample lawns, little antique shops and old New England store fronts.
Sandra and I mounted an exhibit of our art at a local Redding gallery. Sandra showed about 15 pieces of old furniture that she had acquired, stripped and fancifully painted using a pallet of fine old New England colors. I hung my mandalas and made some of my journals and my books available. Sandra had arranged to have invitations sent. We had an opening with pupus and wine on the first Sunday after we arrived, and about 30 of our good friends came and celebrated with us. The exhibit will remain in place until the end of June.
Damien and Hilary's wedding was the next weekend. They had reserved a glorious old stone mansion surrounded by acres of lawn and gardens, a gift to the town of New Canaan (see photo). We had the rehearsal in a formal stone walled rose garden on Friday evening after which Skippy and Barbara, (Nicole's natural father and his wife), Phyllis (All the kid's mother and my former wife) and Karen and I hosted a great rehearsal dinner for 55 at the Long Ridge Tavern in Stamford. This was followed by a party at one of Damien's friends house. Damien must have eaten a bad shrimp because he was sick to his stomach through the night and was taken by Phyllis and Hilary to the hospital where they treated him for food poisening the next day. Karen and I learned of it in the morning.
Weak from lack of sleep and drained by his bout with the poisons, he bravely arrived at his own wedding and kept a smiling face through the service in the walled garden. The Bridesmaids led by Lynett, Hilary's best friend since the fifth grade, were beautiful, the ushers led by Damien's brother Max were handsome. The crowd of 150 seated on the lawn, laughed when the J of P asked the groom's parents to stand and the 5 of us got up (family photo from left: Morty & Karen, Steve & Nicole, Damien & Hilary, Barbara & Skippy, Phyllis, Max). Damien kissed Hilary, broke the glass to all the Mazel-Tovs, walked to the old mansion where the reception was to be held and stayed for a few photos. He was taken home soon thereafter.
The party, mostly held on the old mansion's terrace, continued without him. The bride was glowingly beautiful, the food was gourmet, the band and lead singer made you want to boogie, the natural scenery spectacular, the weather perfect, the friends and family loving and talkative, the margeritas flowing, the toasts were given, the in-laws danced with one another, only the leading man was absent. (friends photo from left: Olive, John & Terry, Davie & Jake, Joel & Sandra, Karen & Morty, Cheryl & Frank, Pat & Judy, Phyllis, Garbis & Mary). Well, he had said the I Do's, had provided the reasons, had satisfied the mandate and would later see the great party thrown in his and Hilary's behalf on video tape. They both gat away to the Carribbean island of Saint Barts the next morning, he feeling well enough to eat an airline meal. Karen and I spent the night at the Greenwich Hyatt and co-hosted a breakfast the next morning for 50 of the wedding guests who had spent the night there.
The next week Karen and I stayed in New York City with friends Terry and John who have a big apartment on 91st Street and Broadway. We spent an evening with my sister Rochelle, who I always call Shwess. She lives near Lincoln Center and got us tickets to an off-bradway show called "Two and a Half Jews"... it was great... made all of us both laugh and cry... what more can you ask for. We went with Terry and John to see "Aint Nothin But the Blues" at one of the Lincoln Center theaters... a wonderful evening of fantastic music. Karen and I also took the subway, wandered through SOHO (South of Houston), went to the top of the Empire State Building (see photos), walked the city, shopped at Zabars, and consumed with great gusto many wonderfully savory ethnic meals.
On Saturday next, Max, my youngest son, and his significant other, Lynett, (see photo) picked us up and we drove up scenic Route 7, from Redding Connecticut, through western Massachussetts to Manchester Vermont. They had reserved a beatifully picturesque New England country inn for that Memorial Day weekend. We stopped on the way at tag sales and picnics. It was in the high eighties that weekend. Manchester has about 20 factory stores including Orvis, Brooks Brothers, J Crew, Armani, Polo, and we spent Sunday walking and shopping. The food was great, company extraordinary, and, for a bonus, we slept on a four posted canopy bed. On Monday we visited a great craft show and drove home.
I spent Teusday
getting the plotter I bought from BNP (the engineering consulting firm
founded by myself and two other engineers that Damien is now part owner
of) disassembled and shipped to Hawaii. I helped Max with the selection
of a spiral staircase for his newly acquired condominium (he is the treasurer
of the condo association) on Wednesday and we ended our stay with a great
dinner at a restaurant called Habanas in Norwalk attended by Mr and Mrs
Breier (Damien and Hilary), Max and Lynett (see photo), Sandra (Joel went
back to LaJolla) and Pat and Judy Sheehan, dear friends for many, many
years. The next morning we got up at 4:00 am, was picked up by a long white
stretch limo at 6:00 and flew out of JFK at 8:00 to arrive Kona at 7:00
pm the same day (having lost 6 hours during the flight). Damien's upgrade
certificate gave us Business Class on our flight to San Francisco, but
there was no vacancies flying to Honolulu. And here we are.
Karen and I have been away... to Ireland for Karen's sister's wedding... the sister that lives in Newton Mass... Tim Garvey her husband is from a small town in southwest Ireland, Caharsavene... population 2,000 with 52 pubs... so, even though they both live in Newton, decided to wed in that town... we stayed in the Bayview Hotel... crowded in summer... empty and cold in the winter... no central heating... that's why the pubs are so popular... I brought along Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization" and read it through while there... horizontal rain, wind blowing at 50 plus MPH... "braceing"... much drinking of Guinness, irish coffee and Bailey's Irish Cream... fairly desolate countryside... no trees... rocky land fit for sheep and cow grazing... dramatic north Atlantic shore-line... the Irish hardy and friendly... the women rosey cheeked, the men in their "wellies" (rubber wellington boots), their slickers, their pipes and their dogs...
The wedding was the big event in town... all the shopkeepers knew...
the priest, Fathe Frank, a young man, came over from
Boston... he and I were both raised in the Bronx about 20 minutes from
each other... friends and family of the groom numbered 120 at the wedding
and reception... of the bride, 20 yanks, including the priest, Karen's
mother and step-father, other step-sister and family, Karen and me... the
ceremony at an old church... the bride smiling, the groom grim... they
both stopped off at their favorite pub between the church and the reception...
the first part of the reception was in the hotel pub where most of the
men watched the Rugby match between Ireland and Scotland... Tim's cousin
was a star of the Irish team... the Irish won... I had an Irishman standing
next to me explaining the ins and outs of the game... afterward we were
feasted in the dining room... then the tables were cleared and everyone
danced till 1:30AM... even the groom's mother who was nearing her 90th
birthday... the music seemed to get faster as the evening progressed...
Irish folk dances had everyone twirling... during the evening Tim and some
of his friends stepped up to the microphone and sang revolutionary songs...
some guests still were standing, albeit weaving a bit, and slurring their
speach which even when completely sober was hard for us yanks to understand,
under the influence of enough drink to down a better man than me... we
left when the band left at 1:30 but were told the next day that the festivities
had continued till 5:00AM...
We flew both ways stopping off at Karen's parents house in Tustin, outside Los Angeles, to decompress... would you believe the round trip air fare was $850 for me (senior discount) and about $925 for Karen... I guess no one wants to fly from Hawaii to Ireland in mid February... very long, butt numbing flights, each leg... we came back to the completion of our building project, adding a small apartment under the ohana house... a Kona Beth Shalom Friday Evening Service... sorry we couldn't make the Bar Mitzvah in Hilo Saturday morning, but niether of us was up to the drive... and, Sunday morning, me facilitating and giving the President's Message (which I've added) to the Annual Membership Meeting of New Though Center (used to be New Thought Church until members voted to change it last week)... and our tenant Saya's 30th birthday party at a house in Puako on Sunday afternoon and evening (her father flew in from Tokyo via London, her mother and her brother direct from Tokyo, her sister from New York and her youngest brother from South Africa)...
I'm finally getting a chance to sit down at my computer...
SHALOHA, MORTY & KAREN
It was a long and fully engaging adventure for Karen and I (we consider our life here a vacation and our trips elsewhere an adventure). We were gone since October 8 and came back the evening of Nov. 18. Barak house and Buhbuh sat for us and we are grateful to him for doing a wonderful job of both.
We attended my daughter Nicole's glorious wedding to Steve Carter in the wine country around Santa Rosa, California. She's the Director of public relations for the Chateau Saint Jean winery and with her superb organizational skills had orchestrated a great affair. All visitors had hotel rooms (68 for wedding guests) at the Flamingo hotel in Santa Rosa. The hotel is arranged in a circle around a swimming pool, lounge chairs and lawn area where everyone would be able to meet and socialize. Many of my old friends from back east were there. Steve's parents had a hospitality suite that seemed to be open all the time. The rehearsal dinner also arranged by Steve's parents was given at another impressively large and architecturally beautiful chateau about 45 minutes outside of Santa Rosa.
The wedding was held on the Chateau Saint Jean grounds on October 10 at six in the afternoon. 250 guests attended. They were married by a Unitarian minister who had been Nicole's boss at her first job in Washington DC after she graduated American University. He had left the public relations business to study and become a minister and had come from his congregation in Montana to perform the ceremony. Although Steve isn't Jewish they were married under a chuppah and he broke a glass at the end. The women cried and the men's eyes glistened. The food, wine and music were great.
I toasted Nicole and Steve calling them a third millennium couple marked by a combination of classic old-fashion and post-modern consciousness, remarking how pleased I was that Steve called me to get my permission to ask for my daughter's hand in marriage, a charming old-fashioned custom, and post-modern because he had been living with her for over a year at the time, for which no permission was sought. Their third millennium standing was also noted by the fact that Nicole came with three sets of parents, Skippy (Nicole's biological father) and his wife, Barbara, Phyllis, my ex-wife and Nicole's mother, me, the father who raised her from eight months on, and Karen (Skippy and I led Nicole down the aisle).
Karen saved the day by having a sewing kit when the grooms father and the bride both needed one for some last minute repairs. Everyone was afraid to introduce Karen to Phyllis so Karen introduced herself and praised Phyllis for raising such fine children that she now had the privilege of knowing and loving (they hit it off fine after that). We ate, drank and danced until near midnight when a conga line formed snaking down a grassy hill to Nicole and Steve's Miata convertible, and they drove off, top down, with thrown rose petals swirling.
Both my sons and their ladies and my cousin Marcus (you all know Marcus from his visits here) were there and we spent the Monday with Marcus, Damien and his fiancee Hilary (he proposed to her on the beach at Kua Bay while they were visiting with us in March) in Marin county and had dinner in San Francisco.
We flew with our Connecticut friends Joel and Sandra Cohen (they too are familiar visitors to Kona) to Vancouver on Tuesday and spent a week in the Vancouver area, exploring Vancouver city, Tofino and Victoria. We found a great little European style hotel, the Georgian Court, that featured a four star restaurant, a bell-hop out of a Dostoyefsky novel, close to Robson Street, the main drag of downtown Vancouver. We rented a white Cadillac which Karen had obtained a Canadian insurance voucher for (what's her motto: siempre preperado!) and with Karen driving, Sandra navigating and Joel and I busy talking in the back seat, we drove the streets and parks of Vancouver, ferried across to Vancouver Island, drove to and from Tofino (I don't know about Tofino) and toured Victoria. We smoked Cuban cigars, ate at great restaurants, and walked the streets. The Canadians we met were gracious, friendly and filled with the Canadian version of aloha. We were impressed by the rather civilized climate of both Vancouver and Victoria.
On October 20th we boarded Canadian Railway's Silver and Blue trans-continental train. We had adjacent first class compartments. Train first class proved to be tighter quarters than we anticipated. We checked most of our luggage to the luggage car and brought some into our compartments (the closet for hanging cloths was about 7 inches wide and all luggage had to be stored on a shelf over the sink and bathroom. The cars were done in a kind of art-deco style, with grayish blue walls and stainless steel trim. A dining car, with etched glass end walls, and a lounge car that included an upper level observation seating dome, were for the use of some 50 first class passengers in 5 sleeping compartment cars. The train was 27 cars long so had many non first class cars.
While we ate breakfast in the white table-clothed dining car (two shift eating was required), the porter would fold up our beds and telescope the dividing wall between our adjacent compartments back to form a larger two window seating area. We had four moveable captain's chairs and a table during the day. The first day out we passed through the glorious Canadian Rockies. We spent the days looking out at the passing scene, playing Scrabble, fooling around with Joel's digital camera and his lap-top computer, drawing, writing and reading. On the few stops lasting for an hour, Jasper and Winnipeg come to mind, we wandered the streets near the train station. During the evening meal, the porter would remove the table, erect the wall, collapse the chairs and lower the two stacked bunk beds in each of our compartments. In the evenings we drank and played Pictionary in the lounge car. Although the cars, built in the 1950's and refurbished recently, were very well sound insulated with a cushioned suspension, sleeping was not that easy, as the energy of 60 mile an hour movement, steel on steel, was felt nonetheless. Karen especially missed some fresh air. We were three days and three nights on that train and by the end were happy to arrive in Toronto, some three hours overdue, at around 12 midnight. We stayed overnight at a Toronto hotel near the train station and the next day flew to JFK in New York.
We were met by a limo that the Cohens had hired and drove up to their house in West Redding Connecticut. The house is an old stone walled building with a slate roof that they had added onto over the years. The front was two stories while the back, overlooking a stream and forest preserve, had 5 levels of decking. We occupied a lovely guest room with its own bathroom and separate entry for the next four weeks, making it the base of our wide ranging operations. Sandra was gracious enough to let us use her Jeep Grand Cherokee wagon for the entire time we were on the east coast, and a most comfortable car it was (they also have two BMWs, a 700 series and a convertible coupe). We had a party at their house with my sons and their ladies and Joel and Sandra's son Michael and his wife and their two year old son.
The trees were in all their autumn glory and everywhere they took our breadth away, driving Connecticut's country roads or walking along its forest paths. We got to see where Damien and Hilary live, a gate house of a large and beautiful estate in Weston. It was small and charming and elegantly furnished. Hilary has her office at the lowest of the three level post and beam contemporary structure. Damien Karen and I went to see the house on Memory Lane in Greenwich, where he was born and where our family lived from 1967 to 1989, and which over those years I had renovated and added to. The family that bought it from us let us in to see some of the changes they had made and I complemented them on doing a great job.
Damien is an engineer and part owner in my old company BNP and he took us to see and be duly impressed by their new offices in Danbury. They’re gross is almost three times what we were doing when I left and their staff and square footage has doubled. Max took us to see the newly built Swissbank trading floor in Stamford Connecticut on which he works. It is a 300 ft. by 180 ft. suspended roof (no columns) room housing 1200 trading desks arranged in long rows, with four video screens and two telephone boards per desk, and the ticker on a three foot high screen that ran fully around the perimeter wall. We also ate out at one of Max and Lynette's favorite local restaurants.
We visited with old friends Pat and Judy Sheehan at their new condo in Weston at a Sunday party they made for us. Frank and Cheryl Pomerantz drove down from Storrs for the party. We also spent a day at the Norwalk Marina with the Sheehans, drinking coffee on their son-in-law's sailboat. That Sunday night Karen and I went to hear a great Latin band while eating dinner in a Norwalk club called Habana.
The energy of the northeast is palpable... the rapid fire conversations... the snapping of the New York Times... the expensive cars (I felt like talking about the value of the deutchmark whenever I was in the back seat of the big black leather upholstered beamer)... the things to do, places to go, treats to sample... cars, a car length apart, beating the speed limit by 15 mph... the electronic gizmos, pagers, cell phones, laptops... everyone wired in a game where time is money... the winter not far away. I am able to adjust (and am expected to) more easily than Karen (the same with the weather). I fell right into it and held up, if I do say so myself (if not me, who?), my Hawaiian end quite well. You all would have been proud that I can bullshit with the best of them and Karen need only and always look beautiful, be equanimous and quietly go about our business.
In the middle of the second week of our stay. we drove up to Beverly Massachusetts to see my old and dear friend Garbis Dimidjian (he had been here for our wedding) and his wife and daughter, Mary and Lara (I met Garbis on the island of Ibiza in 1963... he was on his way from Lebanon, where he had been born, to the U.S.). We spent the evening sipping brandy, listening to music and discussing the problems to be solved in the coming millennium. We met with Karen's old friends Stan and Helen Gold (also at our wedding) in Boston, and went to see the Monet exhibit at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Afterward we ate at a great sea food restaurant on the Boston harbor waterfront and then ambled through the Faniel Hall area. The next day we had breakfast with Karen's sister and her fiancee in Newton, Mass, and saw her wonderfully ornate Victorian house that they were fixing up.
We then drove to Truro to the Cohen's Cape Cod house where we were joined by them for a wonderful 4 days of eating oysters and lobsters, wandering the streets and shops of Provincetown, walking along the cold and empty beaches, with a clear blue sky and a north Atlantic surf our backdrop, and reading the New York Times or doing little creative projects in front of the stoked and burning fireplaces of their newly acquired turreted gray architecturally distinctive home. On our way back to the Cohen's Connecticut house, we stopped, met and had brunch with Hilary's parents, with Damien and Hilary also in attendance, at their Ellington Connecticut home (north of Hartford). A very pleasant afternoon.
Now it was starting to get cold, the mid forties during the day and the mid thirties after sundown. We learned to layer ourselves, buying long sleeved underthings. The trees were losing their leaves and the forests began getting their gray filigree look. We drove up to Copake New York, near where Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York State meet, to visit with Jerry and Joan Shapiro (normally, as you know, residents of Puako) at their farm house, a large multi-roomed affair facing a pond and a view of distant ridges, sitting on 190 acres of forest, horse corrals, other buildings and farmland. They inherited it from Joan's parents and are fixing it up. We had lunch, strolled around and sat watching the sun go down. We drove back that evening.
The following morning we took the commuter train into New York City's Grand Central station and subwayed up to 91st St., and Broadway to stay with our friends Terry Hudson and John Light (both had attended our wedding). Terry and John had driven their Volkswagen camper to California for the wedding and had just returned. Their rent controlled, lucky for them, 6 room apartment is a wonder of big windows, green plants, sacred art and comfortable furniture. The day after we arrived Karen and I left the apartment at about 11 and walked from 91st St. along Broadway, all the way down to Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. It was an 8 mile walk that took us through the bustling restaurant festooned Upper West Side, then Lincoln Center past Columbus Circle, Midtown with Times Square under construction, through the Garment Center, then the notions area, past 14th Street, to Washington Square Park and the Village. We had a bowl of onion soup at Cafe Figaro, an old haunt of mine, and took the subway back up to 91st Street.
We spent a morning with my sister Shelly (6 years older than me) who had moved back to Manhattan after her husband died two years earlier. She has a glorious apartment on the 25th floor of a high-rise overlooking the Hudson River behind Lincoln Center. We spent an evening with my old friend Davey Jacobs, whom some of you might recognize from the photo boards hanging in my studio labeled Morty and Davey Arguing, 1989 and 1993, and, surpassingly, we didn't have one argument. We ate at Terry and John's favorite restaurants. We always got a window table. We walked through Central Park and Karen got to shop at Bloomingdale's and we bought a beautiful ring in honor of her 50th birthday. We met Damien, Hilary, Max, Lynette and their old friend Robbie, all came into the city to spend an evening together eating and listening to Jazz at a Village restaurant called the Garage. The last night in town we went with Terry and John to the club Iridium that featured Mose Allison (an old time jazz pianist and singer, white haired and bearded.. looking a little like Willie Nelson) and his jazz quartet... they were great.
Our greatest entertainment was people watching. New York faces are so interesting, full of character, archetypes of their innumerable countries of origin, arrogantly stylish, people walking with a purpose, thousands of people walking with a purpose. And New York shop windows, what a treat. And the city is Juliani safe and clean, New York's finest on the street, in the subways, biking the park, everywhere. New York has episodes of falling in love with itself and this is one of them. And when it does it builds remarkable buildings, redoes all its stores and restaurants with exceptional flare, face-lifts landmarks, bustling with creative energy. New Yorkers, our dear friends included, are at their best when the backdrop of their lives is so sparkly.
After 5 days in New York we trained it back to Connecticut. Joel manages his own financial portfolio with his office set up rivaling a wall street trading desk. He has a cable connection to the net and operates twin 330mhertz parallel processing computers on a microsoft NT operating system with two connected 24 inch monitors. I spent the next day discussing with Joel concepts for an internet magazine he would like to publish and we were able, with Hilary's help (She has her own consulting business, Step Interactive, named after Damien's dog Steppenwolf, which gives corporations a presence on the web) to register the name "TAKES.COM" as the web address for the magazine to be called TAKES E-ZINE. The concept involves Joel naming a subject and getting a number of his contributors (our mutual friends, mostly) to each write a take on it.
During this time Max closed on a condo he bought in Old Greenwich and impressed me with his business savvy, his ethics, his thoroughness and his tenacity in the face of difficulty. Although the youngest he's the first to buy his home. He got a 5.5%, 30 year fixed mortgage. His partner Lynette (who has been Hilary's best friend from 5th grade), will be living with him and will contribute rent money (Lynette is a dental hygienist and works in Greenwich). We all had dinner to celebrate Hilary's birthday (29) in the same great Cuban restaurant where we had gone a few weeks earlier to listen to music, called Habana in Norwalk... what a blast.
The next day Sandra and I met with a local gallery and frame-shop owner and arranged for a joint showing of our artwork when Karen and I return to Connecticut for Damien and Hilary’s wedding in May of 1999. Sandra has a strong portfolio of woodcuts and lithographs that marked her younger years as a budding artist and adventuress (she flew to meet Joel in Europe in 1972 with her then 5 year old son, and they went by Volkswagon bus across Afganastan to India)
It's funny how so many of our old friends, me and Karen, and now my kids are combinations of Jews and non Jews: Joel is, Sandra's not; Judy is, Pat's not; Frank is, Cheryl's not; Terry is, John's not; Stan is, Helen's not; Nicole is, Steve's not; Damien is, Hilary's not; Max is, Lynette's not. It's my take that the combination is right-on, bringing to the partnership the best of all worlds and damping out the shadow parts of each... when done right.
Our flight out was a Continental non-stop from Newark Airport to Honolulu, leaving at 8 in the morning. Damien thought he could arrange a project meeting at the airport since they were doing work there, and would drive us out there. But as it turned out he couldn't, so instead he sent (and paid for) a limo to pick us up at 5:30 A.M. and, with time to spare arrived. We boarded our flight whose departure was delayed by two hours, and after some 10 hours of flying time, three movies, and one meal (would you believe just one meal and a snack... our travel agent keeps getting our vegetarian meal designation wrong and we keep getting "vegan" meals... the worst), we arrived in Honolulu in time to catch our Hawaiian Air Interisland flight to Kona.
And here we are, glad to be home, glad to be warm, glad to cuddle Buhbuh, glad to stroke Simba, glad to hug and praise Barak for keeping Buhbuh and our place perfect, glad to see our tenant Sayah, glad to sleep in our own bed, glad to wake up in the morning to the lush greenery, glad to say hello to friends wherever we go, even glad to shop at the local markets and fill our fridge... (not so glad to go through the mail, to pay dilinquent bills, to unpack, to wash cloths).
MORTY AND KAREN