Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia


Yes, it’s true. Every year I go back for more, and I am never disappointed. This year I journeyed back to New Jersey and New York from March 6-20. In keeping with the theme of this website, I realize that to many people a sojourn to the East Coast is, indeed, travel—strange, exotic, and unpredictable. Heaven knows that this trip was all three, with predictions of fierce storms in New York City and the Eastern seaboard. Fortunately, the first one never materialized or disappeared, magically, in one night, leaving the snow piled high in northern New Jersey, but New York City dry as a bone. The second, however, arrived the day after I returned to Whidbey Island. Pretty good planning, eh?

For those of you who love to see snowflakes falling, here’s a progression of the storm through the day.


The next two weeks were a mad scramble, visiting old friends and feeding my theater addiction. The time was short in New Jersey and because of the heavy snow I missed several get-togethers, but did attend an excellent concert of the Plainfield Symphony, where I had played in the violin section for fifty-four years. Best Shostakovich ever! And after that, I danced until midnight to the rock band of Steve Gorelnick, the fiance of Cheryl Galante, where I stayed in NJ. Bless you, Cheryl and Steve!

For ten days I roamed the streets of Manhattan, learned more than I could absorb from B & H Camera, and ferreted out tickets (one of my favorite pastimes) for such plays as: The Play That Goes Wrong, an hilarious farce, Farinelli and the King, starring the inimitable Mark Rylance, Three Tall Women, the superb revival of Edward Albee’s play, starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, and Alison Pill, and Harry Clarke, with Billy Crudup, another of my favorite actors.

While I was enjoying NYC, I stayed in the village apartment of my old friend, James Wilson. You may remember him from the trips I took to Ladakh in 2008 and Myanmar in 2007.

We went to two superb musicals; The Band’s Visit, and Come From Away. James lives in the heart of Greenwich Village and what more beautiful spot to be as spring is unfolding and the sun is shining. These words come from an envious Whidbey Islander.

There is something very special to me about walking out of the theater in the late evening on a clear night, enjoying the fresh air and lights, and strolling along the avenue, having just experienced an uplifting production. It’s the “All’s right with the world” feeling that we often don’t allow ourselves.

Several other friends, who shared musicals and plays with me, were Barry Hamilton and his wife, Ruth Klukoff, Phyllis Bitow, Terri Pedone, Paul Sharar, and grandson, Adam Bixler, and girlfriend, Allie Francis. I finally got to see Beautiful, The Carole King musical, and an excellent revival of Hello, Dolly! with Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber. Wow! What incredible dancing!

Ruth and Barry in the Village.

One day I wandered around Washington Square Park near NYU (Actually, I got lost and ended up there, but what’s new? Pretty soon I’ll be outfitted with a dog collar and chip), and tried, unsuccessfully, to video swarms of pigeons flying away. It made me think of the birds at the Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal.



Midweek, I spent a special afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Grace Polk, a travel writer, tour leader, and devotee of the Arts, and the daughter of my longtime friend and dance therapist, the late Lisa Polk. This gave me a chance to walk from west to east through Central Park from the Museum of Natural History to the Met, and enjoy a new exhibition of parks and gardens, which included exquisite paintings of flowers from old masters and artists who had perfected the art of flower reproduction. Click on the photos to see them larger.

As you know, I can never get enough of Lincoln Center, and on my last night in New York, Phyllis, Terri, and I went to see Semiramide. The evening was pristine clear with lights reflecting off the fountains. And those chandeliers! They always mesmerize me as they do their slow rise to the ceiling just before curtain time.

After the opera, Phyllis drove me back to snowy New Jersey as she had so many times over the past ten years. How great to have a friend who enjoys driving in the City and is not daunted by highways and bright lights. As a percussionist, she drives a large SUV, so we always had a coterie of enthusiasts taking advantage of her generosity.

Postscript: I feel myself very fortunate to be a part of a community here in Langley that also produces some amazing theater, art, and music. Upon my return from The Big Apple I was greatly impressed by a new production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie put on by WICA, the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. In fact, I liked the production and staging better than the one I saw in NYC a year ago.






  1. Tim

    Thank you so much. I could never do a 10th of what you do . Your words and pictures, though take me there and give me a bit of the flavor.

  2. A beautiful post as usual. I’m so sorry I missed you while you were here. Pa leez let me know ahead of time next time so that hopefully we can hook up. I particularly loved the photo you took of your friends in the Village. It captured its sense of place and really took me back. Love, Jackie

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