Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Cloisters and Wave Hill Gardens, a fine mistake

From the Cloisters' website

CTAS or Cheltenham Township Adult Evening School offers bus trips. I unknowingly signed up for the WRONG ONE. After I got on the bus and sat down, I asked my seat-mate, Melvin Yin, where we were going?

The Cloisters, he said.

Well, I certainly wasn't gonna get off the bus and the Cloisters wasn't a bad plus. So I gritted my teeth and rather enjoyed it.

Mel is quite the talker. Born 80 yrs ago in Honolulu, he was in Catholic church when the Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor.

It wasn't long before half the people on the bus were asleep. When I awoke I found myself heading toward the upper level of the George Washington Bridge.

I felt like calling my mom to tell her. Our family lived in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and my dad used to drive across the bridge to work at Majestic Specialties, Inc., ladies apparel.

The day was so foggy, however, you couldn't see the Hudson River below. Not one little bubble.

Palisades Parkway and Fort Lee, NJ. My sisters went to Fort Lee High School. We had always wanted to move, but you know the old saying, watch what you wish for. Two of my sisters said it ruined their lives.

Don't Let the Bureaucrats Tell You What Size to Buy. This refers to Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to tackle the obesity epidemic by banning huge sizes of soda and fruit juice. As a person with diabetes myself, I applaud the effort.

It's a terrible disease, as is cancer from smoking, whose anti-smoking ads have certainly helped.

First, a great idea.....then great opposition.....then acceptance.

This style of open columns is called a cloister. Reminded me of the nearby Bryn Athyn Cathedral.

Several gardens grace the grounds. As soon as I saw these, I broke off from my group to photograph it.

The Cloisters, opened in 1938, has always been a museum of medieval architecture and objects, altho it looks like a monastery. See the huge bird bath in the center? Every garden should have at least one. Shockingly, I'm the only one on my street with a birdbath.

Since this column looks Roman, it's called Romanesque, said our guide Meredith.

This wooden Jesus is from Spain. The curators of the Cloisters created rooms out of objects from all over Europe. So, the stained glass in the background was not from the same church as the Christ.

Cute little praying chairs.

Not only did they bury you in a sarcophagus but they put your effigy on the outside. The iron collar indicates the person was enslaved, possible one of the Catholic martyrs, who suffered horrific deaths.

The gardens are medicinal or for growing your own food and spices. Here is a quince tree. Ever had quince jelly?

Here's our guide Meredith. The rain was nothing to worry about but the women were terrified their hair would get wet.

No matter what I do my hair always looks the same. Scott took this of me yesterday under his dogwood tree. The photo appeared today in the Doylestown-based Intelligencer, one of my frequent guest columns on mental illness.

Read it here.

Anyway, little did us trip-takers know what was in store for us later that day. I'll keep it a secret. AND you'll be the first to know, cuz I haven't talked to a soul since I got home.

This is the famous Unicorn tapestry. In fact, the entire room has a series of these. This is my fave since it's the simplest. Read more about The Cloisters here.

This is dying Virgin Mary. She's attended by all the Apostles except Thomas.

A tiny prayerbook about as big as an iPad.

Colorful Adoration of the Magi. I believe Melchior on the right had black skin. Is that correct, Pastor Jack?

In one of the high-ceilinged rooms Christ was entering on a donkey, with wheels!

Hello, Rabbi! Let me polish your wooden robes.

Lunch at New Leaf Restaurant. Here's my seat-mate Mel with wife Shelby. They live in the Mayfair section of Philly, as does Mom-Mom - ooh, maybe I'll see Grace at lunchtime - where Mel has a magnificent garden. Later, you'll see the plant he bought.

Bus ride thru the Bronx to our next stop Wave Hill Gardens. Note the hills. My desire was to get people sitting out on the stoop, which I couldn't do from my high moving perch.

Waving flags saying BUY ME - BUY ME.

Bus stop. Quick: Who sang, Bus stop bus stop? I can hear them now, can you Rob?

Now we're at these magnificent gardens called WAVE HILL. I never heard of em either. I was asleep on the bus. Everyone had filed off. I was awakened and asked if I wanted to join the tour.

Wait for me! Wait for me!

Reason I was so tired was cuz I'd gone to bed at 2 am - was finishing up my article - and awakened at the ungodly hour of 5:15 a.m.

Here's our guide Ken Lloyd, orig from Wales. He lives nearby. This is his volunteer retirement job.

Huge dahlias. Phyllis Bubeck's favorites.

Lawn furniture is scattered about for various viewings. No no, not that kind of viewing.

Oh, we love variegation.

Fig tree with tiny figs.

Moss and other tiny plant phenomena in the greenhouse.

Dig this red beauty!

The rain brought out the spots in this tree.

This is a relative of the giant redwoods in CA. Massive tree.

There were hundreds of migrating monarch butterflies on a particular bush in the garden. Here at Pennypack Trust they land on milkweed plants to get energy for their thousand mile trek from Canada to Mexico.

We also saw one of the original elm trees that survived the famous 1930s elm blight b/c it was isolated from other elms. Cause was a toxic exotic fungus.

Lily pond with huge goldfish. Lily pads never look real to us. The one on the left looks like a ready-to-eat pie crust.

Mmm, mmmm, mmmm.

Mon dieu! Et tu, Brute?

Here's Stan Silverman. He and his wife just came home from the Badlands in S.D. Stan will soon be off to Alaska, I believe, for a photo shoot with many other photographers. I told him about Bill Hess of Wasilla, tho had a hard time describing his blog.

Stan has a terrific blog and likes Pennypack Trust, among other places. His wife works at a cat rescue place in Jenkintown. Unmarked or else people would constantly be dropping off cats.

Scott and I have our feral cat Boots who haunts the backyards on our street. He loves our compost heap as do the skunks, groundhogs, raccoon, deer, and fox.

Gazebo overlooking great view that we couldn't see b/c of the fog.

What's the point of this, Ruthie? Gee, maybe this is ornamental grass which I love and have on the side of my house.

Mel and guide Ken Lloyd discuss the purchase of a beautiful green-flowered plant, which Mel did buy at a discount price.

Here's Mel's plant, sorry for the blurrrr, which he carried in his lap on the bus trip home.

Our Starr bus driver Joe did a good job getting us home despite the hours-long closing of the Jersey Turnpike. A dump truck hit a column, turned over and burst into flames. The driver was killed.

Joe pulled us into a Trucker's Rest Stop which was super-interesting.

Filled with men of all sizes, mostly caucasian, they were on the heavy side (not our Joe), many had tattoos, and they were mostly relaxing.

A few played pool. Joe said they have their own showers and a movie room.

Truly, these are the men that make America great. So many things come via truck. I see them pulling into the Willow Grove Giant bays out back, tho mostly in the dead of night.

I got home at 8:30 pm, just in time to answer my emails and get ready to watch the debate. I fell asleep after 10 minutes and was awakened to read in the Times that Romney bested Obama. Here's the column by my man Charles Blow, which contains good suggestions for Obama's second debate.


  1. My goodness you are in a traveling mood. That's great! I don't suppose you would know, but the Cloisters were an all-time favorite spot in the early romance with Kim (my late first husband, for any readers who would want to know that). We adored the place and the unicorn tapestries. We had many cards and photos of these in our home later on, as well as a vast collection of unicorns, which we loved for a while but that was B.T.F. (before the fire). Thanks for sharing this day!

  2. so glad it brot back happy memories of you and kim! what a wonderful man he was. and that's how you started your adoption agency with kim as your partner.