life in and around NYC is insane

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Niagara Falls Trip Report part III

Sunday -- we drove to Lockport, NY for our Erie Canal adventure. First up was the Lockport Cave tour. this is a manmade cave -- tunnels that were used to provide water power to 19th century industry in Lockport. one of the key industries at the time was Holly Manufacturing -- which made, amoung many other things, fire hydrants (Birdsill Holly had an 1869 patent for the fire hydrant). Ironically Holly Manufacturing burned to the ground and the fire was rumored to have started in the building where fire hydrants were made.

anyhow, you walk down a steep, narrow flight of stairs from the street to the canal level, then walk along the canal to the entrance of the cave. the tour is partially walking and partially a boat ride. and it is VERY DARK in the cave, especially when the guide turns off the electric lights. after the boat ride you have to climb back up the stairs to the street. not easy in the hot sun....

next we went over to the Erie Canal cruises. we'd booked a boat ride on the canal itself. before the cruise we enjoyed a lunch from the snack bar -- there's a full service restaurant but it was booked for a private party. we each got an excellent sandwich -- roast beef and cheese on toast.

the cruise itself was lovely. the captain provides narration about the history of the canal while you travel through Lockport's locks and down the canal. he also plays recordings of famous folk songs about the canal. then you turn around and head in the opposite direction, until you come to the two "low bridges". these are bridges that can be left at street level for cars and then elevated to allow canal traffic to pass.

that evening we returned to the observation deck by the Maid of the Mist to see the falls illuminated. there are banks of colored lights on the Canadian side, and the lights are reflected in the American Falls. the mist was too thick to see Horseshoe Falls clearly, but they are also illuminated at night. and on Friday and Sunday nights there's a 10 PM fireworks show -- it lasts only about 5 minutes, but it's absolutely incredible.













Friday, July 30, 2010

Niagara Falls Trip Report Part II

Saturday -- another very full day. we got out our passports and drove across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. you can have a very full Niagara Falls experience without crossing the border, but visiting Canada was a very nice treat. we took a drive up the Niagara River to Lake Ontario -- past all the vineyards -- and visted Fort George. DBF is a history teacher and we love old forts. this one was different from what we've seen before, because it was a British fort (not an American fort), and key in the defense of Canada in the War of 1812.

on the way back to town we stopped scenic overlooks, the floral clock (it's a working clock made out of flowers, it's quite large and beautiful).

our next activity -- the whirlpool aero cars. there's a bend in the Niagara River, downriver from the falls, and a whirlpool forms in the bend. on the American side there's a scenic overlook, but on the Canadian side there are cable cars that actually take you over the river. we saw the whirlpool jet boats on the river and thought about taking a ride -- you can board from either the Canadian or American side -- but we ran out of time.

back in town, our next stop was the Skylon Tower. the observation deck offers incredible views of both sets of falls. in the base of the tower is an old-fashioned video arcade with many games, but we didn't have the time or interest to stay and play. there's also a theater offering a 3D/4D movie about the legends of the falls, etc.. DBF hasn't been to WDW since 1987 and didn't realize I'm a veteran of many 4D movies. he thought I'd be startled, but feeling my seat move and getting sprayed with water didn't phase me at all.

next we decided to see the falls. relied on the GPS in my phone, which got us a bit lost, but eventually found our way to the visitor's center above Horsehoe Falls. our luck changed at this point -- until now the weather had been sunny and hot, but that afternoon was cloudy with on-and-off showers. so we didn't get to see the rainbow in the mist over the Horseshoe Falls. sigh. we got tickets for Journey Under the Falls -- another plastic yellow rain poncho. this was a bit anticlimatic after Cave of the Winds, but still fun. you go down to a tunnel where you can walk out onto an observation deck and see the Horseshoe Falls up close and personal, and then you can take the tunnel behind the falls and look at the falls through portals. You WILL get wet, but not nearly as wet as when you visit Cave of the Winds.

next up, we drove over to Clifton Hill and road the Sky Wheel. it's a huge ferris wheel with incredible views of the city and the river.

Clifton Hill is a fun area -- haunted houses, the Ripley's Museum, video arcades. we briefly thought about eating at the Rainforest Cafe but decided to walk back to Fallsview and eat in Margaritaville instead. after all, I am a Parrotthead.

and the place lived up to expectations. the reason to eat here is atmosphere -- the tiki bar is open! tiki gods, torchlight, thatched-roof "huts". there's a seaplane hanging from the ceiling (Jimmy Buffett pilots a seaplane for his own enjoyment when he's not singing on tour). and there's a huge blender near the main video screen and a huge bottle of tequila hanging from the ceiling. there was live music -- it was Saturday night after all. but when the performer went on break, the loudspeakers suddenly blairs the familiar sounds of "Margaritaville" as the tequila bottle was lowered from the ceiling and the blender began to fill. it's a real singalong. and yes, I did have my cheeseburger in paradise.

The Rainbow Bridge:





An interesting prisoner:



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Niagara Falls Trip report part I

we did A LOT but I'll keep it brief.
we flew to Buffalo-Niagara airport on Friday morning, no issues with the JetBlue flight or the rental car.  Flew home Monday night, ran into a significant delay at the airport because of bad weather.
we weren't looking to spend a lot of money on this trip -- we did an expensive cruise in February -- so we didn't opt for a resort-type hotel.  instead, we stayed in a very low budget motel in Niagara Falls, NY, on Niagara Falls Blvd., that's 3 miles out of town.  There are about a zillion similar motels on that street. I won't mention the name of the one we stayed at, i won't recommend them.  the  room was clean and comfortable, although there was water damage to the ceiling and the carpet was torn in one spot.  the room had a refrigerator and a microwave. my chief issues here were (1) the "continental breakfast" included two types of cold cereal, white bread and coffee and (2) the motel's brochure features a swimming pool, but when we booked on the website no one told us that the pool is undergoing renovations --  and you could see that it was a VERY SMALL pool

a good point was that it was  close to various low-budget chain restaurants like Denny's, Bob Evans, and Pizza Hut, and fast food places like McDonald's and Taco Bell.  We grabbed a few meals at some of the chains -- no need for me to give a review of those, I'm sure.
Our first stop on Friday was the visitor's center on Rainbow Blvd..  We pre-purchased a Discovery Pass, which allows access to many of the sites on the American side at a discount.  If you buy the pass on line before your trip you can save even more.
Parking for the visitor's center is right near the American Falls Rapids.  so that was our next stop.  standing by the rapids you can see the power of the water as it rushes towards the falls.  from here you can see the Canadian skyline, including the mist rising over the Horseshoe Falls.on a windy day the mist actually drifts over some of the streets on the Canadian side.
then we drove over to Goat Island and headed to Terrapin Point for our first view of the Horseshoe Falls.  you can also look down river and see the American Falls.  very impressive.
we left the car on Goat Island and walked back to the mainland.  our first excursion was the Maid of the Mist.  we took lots of photos from the observation towner before heading down to the boats.  everyone gets a blue rain poncho -- the plastic reminded us of the stuff dry cleaners use to protect your clean clothes.  and yes, you need the poncho.  we also brought waterproof cameras -- I hope the pictures come out OK.    the boat ride takes you past the American Falls and right up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.  and yes, you WILL get wet.
took the trolley back to Goat Island and headed to the Cave of the Winds.  here you get a yellow rain poncho (same cheap plastic) and a pair of sandals.  you get to climb up and down a series of wooden staircases all along the small waterfall next to the American Falls -- some people call this the Bridal Veil falls, others call it Luna Falls because it's created by Luna Island.  If you walk up to the Hurricane Deck you're actually IN the falls.  but anyone who ventures onto the stairs at all  WILL get wet.
we took the trolley back across to the mainland and headed for the Discovery Center.  Didn't stay long, this is really a good place for kids to have a hands-on experience but had little interest for us. 
the IMAX movie at the visitor's center was good.  not great.  but it does give you a sense of the hsitory of the falls.
walking back to the car, DBF said "My feet are so tired that even my senakers are tired."
and I made him laugh when I said "that's nothing, my feet are so tired that my crocs are biting back!"
next we drove out to the motel and checked in, unpacked a bit and grabbed a quick bite.  the plan was to head back to town  to see the falls after dark -- they're illuminated -- and to watch the fireworks -- they do a show every Friday and Sunday during the summer.    but when I fell asleep at the dinner table (we'd been up since 4 AM) we decided it was time to call it a day.

a few photos:








Wednesday, July 28, 2010

high finance

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms

College is a real education -- in high finance.  You learn words like "financial aid", "FAFSA", "Stafford loans", "promissory note"...

You get to know the difference between scholarships, grants, government loans (subsidized and unsubsizied), parent plus loans, private loans...

The enormous amount of money that is required to obtain a decent education...

What I found fascinating...I took out 6 student loans (they were called "Guaranteed Student Loans" back them) in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Those loans, long since paid back, are still in the government's computer database.

What's truly sad...those 6 loans (three undergraduate loans, each in the amount of $2500 and three graduate student loans, each in the amount of $5000)  virtually paid for three years of undergraduate study at the state university and three years of law school.   Even accounting for inflation, the cost of an education has increased 200% since then.

I am taking on as much of the burden of my daughters' education as I can, I do not want them to face the possibility of having to pay back the equivalent of a mortgage on their student loans...but it's going to be rough.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rennaisance Faire time!

remember how much fun we had at last year's faire?

well, we've bought tickets for this year's faire. we're going August 21. big group going this year, not just me and Drew.

big group -- including the ladies who didn't like the Chinese restaurant last Saturday [insert rolleyes smilie here].

but even so, it should be fun.

I'm wondering if I should go in costume this year. I've got a pirate lady costume that would fit in....

Monday, July 26, 2010

a moment that makes you glow with pride

"Mom, I want to move into the dorm two days early so that I can volunteer for a community service project."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alas no pictures

King Tut was amazing ... but you're not allowed to take pictures of the exhibits.

And dinner in Chinatown was great as always. Except for the fact that several of the ladies in our group ...well, F didn't like what she ordered and complained that the vegetables "weren't fresh" and B was convinced that the kitchen workers took half of her leftovers because "there was more food on the plate than could fit into this container..." and she convinced S that they both were
cheated ...

It was very hot in the city ... walking around was exhausting ...

But overall ... a great day.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

King Tut!

Headed into the city today to see the King tut exhibit.

Enjoy this musical interlude while I'm gone:

Friday, July 23, 2010


It's been a long, busy week and I am so looking forward to the weekend.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

one of the little perks of my job

I work in Jersey city, right on the Hudson river waterfront.

periodically I have to attend meetings or seminars in our corporate headquarters, across the river in Manhattan. usually that means a ride on the PATH train.

but on nice days like today, I can splurge a little and take the ferry from Wall Street -- a five minute ride down the East River into New York Harbor, around the tip of Manhattan and up the Hudson.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

feeling the loss

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms

I first met Dr. G the day Jen was born.

I hadn't had time to choose a pediatrician, I had thought about it I was in the delivery room with my brand-new daughter and my obstetrician told the nurse "call Dr. G."

And thus began a long and wonderful relationship. Over the years my daughters saw other doctors -- doctors who covered for Dr. G when he was unavailable, ER doctors for emergencies, specialists ... but Dr. G remained their primary care physician.

He's truly a wonderful man, gentle and understanding. He knows how to treat children, and their parents.

He knew the girls well. Knew where they went to school. Knew their hobbies, their likes and dislikes.

Hearing his voice over the phone was so soothing to a stressed and frazzled mother. He wasn't just a doctor, he was a friend and confidante.

He kept photos of all of his patients on a bulletin board in his office.

In the March 2009, when Jen was a college freshman, she visited the health clinic at school for some minor ailment....the doctor there was scary...gave us all the impression things were far worse than reality. I made her come home and see Dr. G. (I loved the fact that she could drive herself to the pediatrician's office for her appointment!) Turns out there was nothing wrong with her.

But Dr. G told her "I can continue to be your doctor all through your college years, I treat my patients until they're 21. Call me any time if you need me."

but two months later, in May 2009, I got a letter saying he'd closed up his practice. No reason was given.

We haven't, thank G-d, had a medical issue since then. Jen had an ER visit last sumer (turned out to be nothing) and a trip to the school infirmary (more nothing) but Becca hasn't had so much as a scratch.

But now Becca is getting ready for college. She needs her immunization records. She needs a physical. She needs a menengitis vaccine.

And so, for the first time in her life, Becca will have a primary care doctor who is not a pediatrician, who hasn't known her since the day she was born.

One more piece of her childhood is gone...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

mainlining coffee

by the time youu all read this I should be at my desk and starting my week.

please pass the, was a long night last night ... never bok an 8 PM flight home if you have to work the next day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

so, what are you reading?

I am a little peved right now, my nook -- bought from Barnes & Noble just a few short weeks ago -- has temporarily stopped working, and I need to have it repaired/replaced.

but that isn't stopping me from reading.

or from reading electronically.

I've got more than one e-reader downloaded to my iTouch. and a different set of e-readers on the Droid.

I recently found free -- yes, free - versions of all seven Harry Potter novels. They have a lot of typographical erros, which can get a bit distracting.

but in preparation for the Deathly Hallows movie in November, I've decided to re-read all seven novels. I've finished Sorcerer's Stone and I'm reading Chamber of Secrets now.It's amazing what was left out of or changed when the movies were made.

After this, I will likely take a short break from Harry Potter and read something else. but I will finish the re-read before the movie opens in November.

So, what are you reading these days?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a musical treat in honor of our vacation

Springsteen the folk singer

Saturday, July 17, 2010

movies you watch over and over

what movies can you watch over and over again? where you've seen them so many times you can recite pages of dialogue by heart? where, if the movie happens to be on TV, you choose to watch it no matter how well you know the ending?

I have a few movies I can put in that category. The first, and my favorite, is Casablanca. Exotic locale, wartime tension, interesting characters, a complicated love story and no happy ending.

The Wizard of Oz also comes to mind.I even paid to see this at the multiplex last fall, though I have most of the film memorized.

Ghost always makes me laugh, and cry.

And Men in Black is a guilty pleasure.

Friday, July 16, 2010

songbird salutes the 70's

I first saw Harry Chapin perform live in 1975, when he did a concert IN MY HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM.

Harry lived in Huntington, NY at the time and I lived in a nearby community, and the concert was to raise money for his charity -- world hunger.

Saw him perform again in college. More than once.

And I was sitting in Eisenhower Park on July 16, 1981, waiting for the Harry Chapin concert that never happened.

Thank you, Harry, for all those wonderful moments.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

if anyone is interested

I've started a new travel blog.

Drew and I are planning a Disney World trip for next summer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

so grown up, but still needs her mom

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms

Since she's now gone to her college orientation, can I officially call Becca "a college student"?

I never thought to ask that question about Jen. Her orientation took place in June, before she'd even graduated from high school. We drove to her college in rural New England on a Sunday night. She checked into the student dorm and I took a room in the dorm set aside for parents. We spent two days traipsing around campus as each of us was bombarded with information. I think we saw each other for about 5 or 10 minutes. When we were done, she'd registered fro her freshman classes and was looking forward to moving into her dorm in the fall.

Becca's school is much different in its approach. Freshmen move into their dorms on August 29, and there's a program for parents at the school that day. Parents are expected to leave by 4 PM, at which time orientation will officially begin for the students. Registration for classes will take place on the 30th or the 31st, I think.

But on Monday there was a mini orientation for students who wanted to get a head start. Becca didn't have a shift at the mall on Monday, so she decided to do the mini orientation. Not a big deal, her college is in easy commute.

Her original plan was to travel into the city all by herself, on the Long Island Rail Road and then by subway to the school.

But then she decided she might get lost on the subway, and asked me to drop her off on my way to work.

I told her, "this time next year you will be able to tell me which subway to take!"

At the end of the day she managed to navigate the subway back to Penn Station without me.

My baby girl is growing up.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

genetic time bomb?

My father always told us to watch for signs of diabetes. his mother was a diabetic.

as far as I know, though, she was the only one in our family to have the disease.

not so with Drew's family. Drew's father has been a diabetic for over 30 years. Drew's uncle (his father's brother) is also a diabetic.

a few days ago Drew told me his older sister was diagnosed with diabetes about a month ago. and Drew was just tested for the disease -- he'll get the results in a few days.

I am hoping that he didn't pass that gene down to his kids....

Monday, July 12, 2010

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer time

headed up to Niagara Falls on Friday.

neither of us has been there before, though the funny thing is...Drew and I each considered taking the kids there for vacation at one time or another.

it will be a short one, more like a long weekend.

but I am looking forward to getting away and having a new adventure.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

renewing old friendships

spent Saturday afternoon at a barbeque hoted by Drew's best friend from college (they guy who was best man at our wedding). Hadn't really seen him or his family in years.

saturday night we met up with another old friend for dinner, a woman I hadn't seen in over 20 years.

it was weird yet wonderful to renew the old ties.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

summer camp stories

so Jen is back at work at the day camp. yesterday she left the house at 6:30 AM so that she (along with a few other counselors) could set things up for the camp's special event, "pop culture day". and she even dressed up as Lady GaGa, can you imagine that?

and then, later in the day, I was eating a pice of pound cake. a simple piece of poundcake. you know the kind, individually wrapped in cellophane, with the pan liner still attached to the bottom and sides of the slice. and I had a flashback to my own days at day camp.

my dad worked at the day camp every summer from 1960 through 1972. and my sisters and I were lucky enough be be campers there every summer.

one of our "special events" was the cookout, which was held on alternate Fridays throughout the summer. the counselors grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids. and we all got pound cake for dessert.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What are the five best bands you've seen play live?

I must admit, the title is a NaBloPoMo prompt.

but it's a good one, isn't it?

I'm not going to limit myself to "bands" per se....

Paul McCartney at Citi Field has got to have been the best show I ever saw. July 2009. Loved, loved, loved it. He's so comfortable in his own skin, and he's so good at communicating with his audience. You felt like you were one of 50,000 friends Sir Paul invited into his living room.

Next would be Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at the Garden in November 2009. I won the tickets -- floor seats. I was just getting into Jimmy's music at the time and didn't know what to expect. It was one huge beach party. Loved it so much that I bought tickets to see him again next month.

I saw the Rolling Stones at Shea in the mid 80's. My first stadium concert. I was completely and totally floored.

Believe it or not, I'd have to include a Britney Spears concert at MSG that I took my kids to see back in the late 90's. It was before Britney "lost it" if you know what I mean. She was still trying to keep the shows presentable for a younger audience. She was an amazing dancer and the show was an amazing piece of theater. this concert was even better than the N'Sync show at Nassau Coliseum (though my kids swear to this day that Joey Fatone winked at them...and only at them.) I wouldn't go see her now, but back then...

And my final vote goes to the original Happy Together Tour, 25 years ago, at Jones Beach. it was my first oldies concert, everyone was in fine form and fine voice, and it was an amazing evening on the waterfront.

so? anyone else?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

18 years ago today....

I was four days past my due date and feeling absolutely miserable.

I'd found out I was pregnant again just a few days before jen's birthday. with a due date in July, that would put the age difference between my children at 20 months.

A due date of July 4th -- we referred to the child as "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Jen had been born a day before my due date...but that Independence Day, as we stood on the balcony of our apartment and watched the fireworks all over the neighborhood, i knew that my second child would be born "late".

on July 8, a warm, sunny Wednesday afternoon, Drew and I strapped jen into her car seat and drove to my obstetrician's office for my weekly appointment. I fully intended to ask him to induce labor...I had had enough...

...and he told me that I was already in labor -- despite not having felt so much as a single contraction -- and that the baby would be born tonight!

we had just enough time to drop Jen off at my parents' house before heading back to the docotr and then the hospital.

and at 10:17 that night, a little tiny baby girl came into this world.

hard to believe that little tiny baby girl is now a woman grown.

happy birthday Becca.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

so they've started to make lists....

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

summer has just barely begun, andyet it's time now to think about the fall.

it's an exciting time for Becca, as she compiles a list of all the things she will need for college. her freshman living quarters will be not be a conventional dorm, but rather, she'll be in an on-campus apartment. she hasn't received her official hosuing assignment yet, so she doens' tknow whether she'll be ina two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartment. the college has provided her with a list of all the things she will need for her bedroom, plus a suggested list of things she and her roommates might want for their living room and kitchen. I see a lot of shopping in her future.

entering her junior year, Jen is an "old pro" at college life. but this year she's making an interesting transition from dorm to off-campus housing. she has all the things from her dorm room, and the house they've rented is completely furnished, but there are still a few items she will need.

you know, i planted a couple of quarters in the back yard, but so far the money tree hasn't started to grow. anyone want to offer a few ideas on how to make that money tree grow? I have a feeling I am going to need it!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

all too true!

GPS is a wonderful tool, but...

well, it does have its limits.

like when the GPS told Drew to get off the New Jersey Turnpike at an exit that didn't exist.

or how Becca and I circled around Lake Ronkonkoma for 45 minutes the night before her SAT exam, trying to find the test center -- we found it quite randomly, despite the GPS, because my instincts led us to the right place.

Jen had a major adventure a few weeks ago, driving with her friends from Long Island to northern Westchester and back -- using a parent's GPS device that had been programmed to avoid major highways.

GIGO -- garbage in, garbage out. a GPs is only as good as its programming.

don't be afraid to follow your instincts and don't be afraid to ask for directions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saved again

More NabloPoMo "rescue" stories.

from time to time the cats have been known to go hunting in our back yard. We've had to rescue mice, chipmunks and other small rodents as well as the occasional bird.

and long-time readers of this blog will remember the rescue of the baby bunny:

Is this the face of a killer?

iller Part II

Baby Bunny is Free At Last

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Egg

Saturday, July 3, 2010

so the e-mail said...

NaBloPoMo wants us to talk about things we've rescued or saved.

for me that triggers thoughts of many of the pets I've had over the years.

Molly the beagle. We got her from a shelter. the sweetest, dumbest animal that ever walked the face of the planet. when my daughter jen was a baby, she learned to stand up by grabbing Molly's ears and pulling herself up. That dog never complained, not once.

TJ the cat. My mother was working at a local courthosue at the time. Someone found a cute orange kitten abandoned in a box in the woods nearby. My mother broguht him home "temporarily" because we had a cat (Cinders) and cat food and could take care of him until other arrangements were made. My mom had that cat until he died 10 years later.

And then, of course, there's Mr. Kitty. The self-rescued cat. At the time Mr. Kitty joined our family we already had three other cats in residence. there's a pond about a quarter of a mile down the road from my house, which has become a dumping fround for unwatned cats. The cats must either become feral or die. Mr. Kitty was a tiny kitten, about 4 weeks old, when he was "dumped". He found his way to our house....we used to keep cat food on the back deck for one of the cats...well, the rest is history.

Friday, July 2, 2010


that's teh theme for NaBloPoMo for July.

the only thing that comes to the Christian concept of being "saved". too funny, when you consider that I am very, very Jewish.

and then I look at the control panel for my blog and it tells me tha tthis post has been saved.

from the spiritual to the humdrum in one fell swoop...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom

July is dressed up and playing her tune....

welcome to July, and once again I find myself in the discipline of NaBloPoMo.

I wonder what the month will bring.

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