Giving Thanks (for the last time in the naughts)

A few shots from Thanksgiving day in Harlem.

Katherine’s mother gave her a special Thanksgiving bowl for the mashed potatoes, and she shows it off here with Josephine.

Charlie made the salad.

Grace was invoked as a lovely Quaker hymn sung to guitar accompaniment.

I was grateful for not being put on the spot to say what I’m grateful for. And I was also grateful to have a place at the table next to young Lee, who preferred Cheerios over Turkey.

A Wedding BBQ and the Harp Returns Home

The harp needed to come home.

Last weekend, I returned to some of my old haunts in Atlanta, including the neighborhood where I once owned a house.

The occasion was a wedding celebration for Lee & Pete, who hosted a BBQ, complete with a backyard fire and live band, at their house in southeast Atlanta.

While in town, I had a lovely brunch with friends and a nice walk in Lullwater park with Bradley, who I hadn’t seen in a long time.

I also got to spend some time Mike and Terry, and celebrated when I got home and found out that Mike is free from cancer following a months-long fight that included radiation and chemotherapy.

And I retrieved the harp.

In the late 90s, when I was traveling in South America, I fell in love with the music of the Andes, the pan flutes and gut-string guitars, and never tired of hearing the ensembles playing on the streets and in restaurants. I even enjoyed what was likely hundreds of renditions of “El Condor Pasa” during my four months there. In our final week of a year-long adventure, we spent several days in a Peruvian mountain town where I saw a beautiful, hand-crafted harp in the window of a music store.

On a bit of a crazy whim, I bought it. I imagined myself mastering the Andean harp and coming back to Peru one day to surprise the locals with my prowess.

To get it home, I stuffed it in the luggage area of the bus back to Lima. We encased it in cardboard and tape and, at the airport, wrapped it in plastic wrap, like the luggage you see on the carousels at JFK from flights arriving from far-flung lands.

Though I never learned to play it — its strange tuning was alien to my ears — the harp held a prominent corner position in that little house in Atlanta. When I moved to New York, I knew it was too big for most places I could afford to live. Lee offered to keep it for me, and it sat in one of her guest bedrooms for nearly 8 years.

After celebrating the beginning of Lee’s new life with Pete, I realized it was time for the harp to come home. I took to the UPS store, where Chip, behind the counter, said “it looks like you brought us a challenge.”

I spent four times as much as I paid for the harp to ship it to New York. Now I just have to find a corner for it to rest itself here in the Gowanus bachelor pad.

It’s what they call a conversation piece.


Captain Patrick Harris: One in Eight Million

ventura04Those of you who read this blog regularly may remember my photos and thoughts about my voyages over the years on The Ventura, a 1919 hunting yacht refurbished and owned by Captain Pat Harris. I’ve enjoyed a dozen or more harbor cruises on his beautiful single-masted sailboat. And my friends Kathryn and Jeff got married on The Ventura a couple of weeks ago. Captain Pat officiated.

I’m a big fan of the New York Times multimedia series called One in Eight Million, which profiles the fascinating characters who populate this city of 8 million inhabitants. Last week, I was happy to see a familiar face among them. Captain Pat was profiled with great photos by Todd Heisler.