Monday, April 28, 2014

One World Trade Center--The Freedom Tower

I woke up with this fabulous view not long ago, in March!  I was in a hotel in downtown New York City, accompanying my husband on a business trip. We were scheduled to land in the late afternoon, but our flight was delayed eight hours because of mechanical problems with our plane, and by the time we finally arrived in Manhattan and checked in, it was dark outside our room.  To pull back the curtains in the morning to see this view of the new One World Trade Center was such an exciting surprise!

As you can see in this closeup photo of One World Trade Center, the outside construction elevator is still in use, and there is still some construction going on.  The 104 story building, stands a symbolic 1,776 feet in its entirety and is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and will feature a grand lobby and observation deck with unparalleled views.  As of now, the building has been pre-leased 55% to future tenants.

A closeup of the 408-foot spire on top! Be sure to click on this photo, as well as others in this post to enlarge them to see all the detail.

A close up of the construction elevator and a window washer outside the building.

A view at street level, from Vesey Street.

I loved this photo, that includes the spire of St. Paul's Chapel. It earned the title "The Little Church That Stood" after 9-11. You can see more about it and read its story on a post I wrote on this link.

The tower is easily seen from many different areas of downtown Manhattan, and northern Brooklyn. It is an imposing sight on the New York City skyline. Will it win the hearts of New Yorkers, and visitors to the city, as the prior Twin Towers did?

That remains to be seen, but to me, it definitely is a beacon of hope and rebuilding after the tragic events of 9-11.  

To read a very inspiring story about the rebuilding of One World Trade Center, and to see a fantastic panoramic photo of the city taken from one of the rings of the spire, check out this article in Time Magazine at this link.

I also visited New York City again last week, so between these two trips back to my hometown I have much to share in future posts. Join me next time as I'll show you a fun Faberge Easter Egg Hunt that happened all over Manhattan before the Easter holiday. The Egg Hunt culminated at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan when I was in NY this last trip, and I took lots of photos. You'll be amazed by how differently giant eggs can be decorated by various artists and designers!

I'm adding this post to the following blog events:

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Is Louisville, Colorado, One of the Best Places to Live?

My husband and I took a drive out to the Boulder County area of Colorado last weekend. We had heard about the town of Louisville from magazine articles that often name it as one of the best places to live, and were curious to see why. The drive north was certainly beautiful, as we had some magnificent views of the high snow capped the Rockies, lying beyond the foothills, along the way. ( All photos will enlarge, for easier viewing of details, if clicked on)

The Flatiron Mountains, that we passed by in the town of Boulder, were instantly recognizable to us, as our son had attended the University of Colorado in Boulder for his Master degree in Boulder. You can see why he fell in love with this area of the country and decided to settle here after his graduation.

We soon arrived in Louisville and turned onto its Main Street. The city of Louisville was incorporated in 1882 and lies in Boulder County, six miles east for the city of Boulder and twenty-five miles northwest of Denver.  Its population is around 18,000 people.

The Miner Memorial statue in front of city hall on Main Street represents the past coal miners of Louisville, many of whom were immigrants of both Northern and Southern European countries, who built the town. In August 1877, the Welch Mine opened--the first of many coal mines to come. The Acme Mine operated directly beneath the original town of Louisville from 1890 to 1928 and produced nearly two million tons of coal. In all, thirty mines were located in and around the town, and locals did not have to travel far for work. After WW2 the demand for coal diminished and the mines closed in 1952, but by then Louisville had become a thriving suburb of Boulder and Denver.

The mining history in Colorado is not without its tales of strife and hardship and this year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Ludlow Mine Strike and Massacre and the Northern Field Mine Strikes, which included the Louisville mines. As both of my grandfathers were coal miners in Pennsylvania, I hold great sympathy and respect for the sacrifices this Colorado man made to improve work conditions and safety in the mines and to earn a living wage.

The Louisville Historical Museum was located on 10001 Main Street. It was originally constructed in 1904 as a general store. 

It features a variety of artifacts from the area and historic photographs

Next to the store is an original house that dates from the early coal mining era, and is now is set up to portray what a typical miner's home looked like......

...and its rooms were filled with period furniture and artifacts.

Some of the shops and restaurants we saw on Main Street in Louisville. Many are located in buildings that are original to the town from 100 years ago!

We stopped at the Blue Parrot Restaurant for lunch.  Click to enlarge the above photo and you can read its story on the menu's front page. For four generations the Colacci family has been serving customers at this location since 1919. They call their food "Grandma Style" Italian. 

The houses around the historic center of town are in a variety of cottage, craftsman and colonial styles.....

...while the homes further from the historic center were larger and on more property.

Some homes were well into the million dollars, and up, range.

Louisville is considered by many as a good place to live and raise a family for many factors--crime rate is very low, the schools are well respected, and its location near the technology-rich Boulder and Denver corridor has kept job options and the housing market solid. It is also surrounded by over 1,700 acres of open space, with recreation opportunities in the Rocky Mountains only twenty minutes away, plus Colorado has sunshine 300 days of the year! It certainly was a nice community. We enjoyed our visit to Louisville and will visit again in the future.

I'm sure every town considers its area the best place to live in.  I enjoyed all the years I lived in Brooklyn, New York, and I now feel the same way about where I live in Littleton, Colorado. How do you feel about your home town? What do you love the most about it?

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Have a Very Blessed and Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen!  He has Truly Risen!

A stained glass window in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City

I will be sharing more about the magnificent Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, that I visited on a  recent trip to New York City, on a future post. It is full of gorgeous stained glass windows and architectural splendor! 

I am always drawn to images of the Risen Christ when I see them, as I find them very inspirational. I decided to share a few of those windows in this post with hopes that they also will bring you joy this Easter weekend.

Lamb of God, You who take away the 
sins of the world, have mercy upon us!

Stained glass window of  St Rose of Lima RC Church, Carbondale Pennsylvania

Lamb of God, You who take away 
the sins of the world, grant us Peace!

Stained glass window Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph's RC Church, Brooklyn, New York

May you, and your family, 
have a very Blessed and Happy Easter! 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Out With the Boys!

The weather was beautiful last week and we had a nice weekend hosting the boys for a sleepover. After breakfast, Nonno (grandpa) took them to a little playground in an open space near our house, while Nonna (grandma) took photos!

Our community is in the process of updating all the different playgrounds, but I hope they keep this piece--it is a favorite for all my grandchildren!

As are the swings!

The boys wanted to do a little more exploring this visit so we climbed on the rocks...

 ...and walked on the trail.

They walked all the way over to the giant red rock formation in the middle of the open space.

They were hoping to find arrowheads or fossils.

From a distance, this formation does not look as high as it really is!

Two happy boys and an even happier Nonno!

This large hole in the rocks fascinated the boys--they wondered if a bear could be sleeping inside? 

We did not find any "fossils" but we did see many more holes in the rocks that were obviously shelters for birds, and we saw cacti and this cabbage-looking type plant growing.  Any guess as to what it is?

As you can see the foothills still had some residual snow on them.  We had six inches of snow on Sunday, but most of it has melted.  Snow seems to be our area's "April Showers"!

The high mountains are still getting plenty of snow, as you can see from this peak in the distance. The ski season may last till June, but I'm ready for Spring to turn everything at our elevation green. As you can see, the trees are beginning to bud and all the birds have been actively building nests. As Easter approaches it seems the earth is happily beginning to renew itself!

 I hope this Spring has also been a joyful one for you!

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rigoletto in Denver, La Boheme in New York City!

My husband and I love opera and had been subscribers for many years to the New York Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.  When we moved west, we had some pangs of sorrow that we would be leaving the Met behind, but we knew that Denver had a wonderful Performing Arts Complex, that included the Opera Colorado, so we were hopeful that this would help ease our feelings of loss.

Our daughter surprised us at Christmas with tickets to the two opera productions that are being presented for the 2014 season--Rigoletto, which ran for four performances in March, and Carmen which will run for four performances in May!  Opera Colorado performs at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House--a world-class acoustical hall designed in the lyric style and seats 2,225 people. The night we attended the opening of Rigoletto in March, a lecturer from the University of Colorado presented a free talk and synopsis about the opera, about an hour before the opening curtain, that we found very interesting.

The Denver opera house encompassed four levels: balcony, lodge, mezzanine and orchestra, all with clean sight lines. This magnificent space is one of only three opera houses in the United States, and one of nine worldwide, that has seat back lyric titling at every seat in the house. As you can see in the photo collage above, the house also has a beautiful Chihuly glass chandelier in the main lobby.

My husband and I have been fortunate to see composer Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto many times at the Met, but I have to say we were pleasantly surprised and delighted by the Opera Colorado production! The orchestra, set, staging and principal artists were all top notch! Rachel Gilmore was particularly entrancing playing the role of Gilda, and I will be following her career more closely from now on.  Rene Barbera handled the role of the Duke of Mantua with panache and delivered the signature tune "La Donna Mobile" with the skill. Baritone Gordan Hawkins played the title role as Rigoletto, the deformed court jester who tragically tried to protect his daughter Gilda's honor from the Duke, You can see his photo on the opera program cover above.  His acting ability added quite a bit of drama to the role, giving it elegance and depth.

 The final bow of Opera Colorado's cast of Rigoletto.

My husband and I are now looking forward to Carmen and many more future productions of Opera Colorado!  It is nice to know that opera is alive and well in Denver, with top-notch facilities and the funding to attract major stars.  Live opera as an art form is very expensive to maintain, and many cities in the US and in Europe are finding their opera companies in dire straits and are being forced to close. The latest such company is San Diego Opera.  What a shame to lose the ability to see live performances!  Opera is a wonderful gift you give yourself, and well worth the investment of the ticket price, which is usually very affordable.  Attending a live opera is an opportunity to transport yourself into another world --with exquisite music, singing, acting, set design, costumes, hair and makeup, and pure emotion taking place on stage. There is no finer art form!

If you do not have the ability to attend a live opera performance I must tell you about another wonderful opera experience my husband and I had for the first time last weekend! We attended a New York Met Live in HD opera performance of composer Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme at a local theater in a nearby neighborhood in a Denver suburb. La Boheme is one of my favorite operas, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see it once again, albeit on a large movie screen.  We actually saw Metropolitan Opera history being made, as the scheduled principal soprano in the production, Anita Hartig, was too ill with the flu to perform as Mimi! Met General Manager, Peter Gelb, wanted to replace her with another star soprano and called on Kristine Opolais, who had sung her first Madama Butterfly on the Met stage the prior night!  She had had only two hours of sleep from the night before, but agreed to do the role and was on stage in the matinee performance for a global live performance broadcast around the US and the world, to 92,000 people. She is the only person ever in the Met's history to make two role debuts within 24 hours, and she did a remarkable job!

The Metropolitan Opera house gave her a standing ovation, as did the movie theater where we saw the live performance.  Ms. Opolais was overjoyed at the applause!

To see if a local theater in your state or country broadcasts live High Definition productions of  New York Metropolitan Opera performances, and to see the upcoming schedule, go to this link: Live in HD.  Then you, too, can say you've experienced the best opera has to offer!  The movie theater productions also include interesting interviews with casts members during intermission periods, and a peek behind the curtain at how the sets are placed for each scene, and many other interesting behind the scenes information.

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