life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, January 31, 2010

a minor miracle

You've alread met the Princess Daisy:


I'd like you to meet Mr. Kitty:


We got Daisy first, a friend of my mother had too many cats in her apartment and needed to get rid of some kittens.

Mr. Kitty adopted us. He was abandoned at the age of 4 weeks at a pond about 1/2 a mile from my house. He showed up in our back yard one day. At first we thought it was Daisy, because his markings are similar to hers, and at the time he was smaller than she is.

You won't make that mistake now. Daisy weighs all of 6 pounds, Mr. Kitty must weigh at least 20.

His favorite activity is chasing Daisy. Really, he won't leave her alone. and all he wants to do is eat from her food bowl, he won't allow her to eat undisturbed. He's truly a pesky little brother.

So when I saw them today, I couldn't believe it:


favorite book

Ever have a book that you've read multiple times, one that stays with you long after you put it down?








To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.







With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. And he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, on a particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and on the unexpected kindness of strangers that is also a very real part of our national identity.



I read this book as a teenager, long before I fully appreciated Steinbeck, long before I read The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.  There was much my teenaged self didn't understand about Steinbeck's journey, much that I appreciate now as an adult.    I'm going to have to find a copy and reread it, I suppose.  but back then, what I loved about the book was the spirit of adventure and discovery, the idea that a person could throw some gear into the back of an RV and just go...without a real plan or destination, just an idea to rediscvoer America....and travel and explore for months. 

I'm more of an armchair traveller, I haven't been very many places and most of my travels have been short-term and to specific destinations.

Someday, if I have the time and the funds, I'd like to take a long trip like that...just travel and explore and discover....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I want my pillow back!!!!

My cat  The Princess Daisy has taken over my bed. 


When I come home from work and head upstairs to my room, there she is...all six pounds of her...curled up in the very middle of the bed.  She may open one eye, as if to say "oh, it's you," before going back to sleep. 

But the real joy comes when I try to share the bed with her.  Yes, she actually lets me sleep in "my" bed at night.  You would think such a small cat wouldn't take up much room.  You'd be wrong.

Hwer favorite spot seems to be right in the middle of the bed.  If she's there when I want to go to sleep, it takes much negotiation for her to move over and let me lie down.  Inevitably she will either (1) sit on my chest and stater at me imperiously for having displaced her, or she will crawl under the covers and "knead" the sheets (and perhaps my leg...ouch!)

If, by some chance, the cat isn't around when I get into bed, she's likely to show up after I've fallen asleep.  I know that when I go to sleep my head in on the pillow...but when I wake up, the pillow is occupied by six pounds of sleeping feline, and there's no room for me!  And do you know what it's like to have your cat sneeze on you from high atop your pillow?

She's royalty and she knows it.

but that's why I love her.









Friday, January 29, 2010

I'm lucky I didn't burn down the house!!!!

I am an idiot.


The saga of the missing iPod has ended, my nano has been found.

I thought I'd lost the nano two weeks ago, at the gym.  thought I'd left it on the bench in the locker room.

I was wrong.

You are not going to believe what REALLY happened.

The nano wound up in the laundry hamper, along with my dirty t-shirt and shorts.

which I did not realize until this morning.

yes, this morning. almost two weeks later.

when I took a load of laundry out of the dryer and found the nano.

yes, in the dryer. 

I'm lucky the battery didn't explode or cause a fire.

there are 6 people living in my house -- 7 when Jen is home from college.  My mom does laundry for herself and my dad.  My two younger sisters do their own laundry, and usually do Becca's as well.  Jen does her own laundry when she's home.  The only laundry I have to do is my own, so sometimes it piles up.  and I was in a hurry last night (I was running out of things to wear), and didn't sort through the clothes before I threw them into the washing machine.

so the iPod was washed and dried last night.

And it still works!

at first it wouldn't turn on, but when I plugged it into the wall charger -- music. the battery is completely dead though.  and the ear buds are goners.

I suppose I could get a replacement battery.  too expensive to do it at Apple (if you go to the genius bar with a fried battery, they'll give you an exhorbitant price to replace the battery and then encourage you to recycle the old iPod in exchange for a discount on a new one).  I can probably get a new battery for a reasonable price on the internet -- I bought one for my iPod mini but couldn't install it (I'm all thumbs), which is how I wound up with the nano in the first place.  but Drew -- and his best friend Marc -- are technologically "gifted", and one of them would surely be able to replace the battery in the nano.

sigh.

If I'd been a  better housekeeper, I would have found the nano days ago.  I wouldn't have fried my mini camcorder by overloading it with MP3 files, I wouldn't have destroyed the nano's battery.

and I wouldn't have my iTouch.

sigh.

ugh....

Ever lose an earring?

Sitting at my desk this morning, I happened to touch my left earlobe...and realized there was nothing there.  Did I forget to put on earrings today? 

Touched my right ear and realized I was wearing one earring.

Searched all around the desk, searched my coat and scarf, looked into my tote bag....

No earring.

Drat.

what do you do with one earring?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

another car crash, another dead teenager

You pick up the newspaper, and there it is.  A story about a car accident, and a teenage victim is dead.  There are questions -- was the driver speeding?  were drugs or alcohol involved?  There are photos of the young man or woman, a sweet-faced child on the edge of adulthood.  there are the lamentaitons from friends and family:  "He was a good kid."  "She was too young to die."  There are grief counselors at his or her school to console classmates and friends.  A yearbook page is dedicated to a lost classmate.

You read about it every day.  It's almost mundane.

Until it happens to someone you know.

Then, every time you pick up a newspaper, it's like it's happening to you, to your children, all over again.

I see an article in the paper and I'm flashing back again.


I've blogged before about the worst Homecoming ever.  October 2006.  A day of celebration and school spirt at my daughters' school that became a day of tragedy and mourning.  Jen was a junior that year, Becca  a freshman, and the young man who died was a senior, a very popular young man, president of the student council,  with a bright future..  I didn't really know the boy, but my girls had known him since elementary school.   He lost control of his car and crashed into a tree.  The police think he may have been speeding, and in fact he had a reputation for driving too fast.

Have you ever noticed that teens create their own mourning rituals?    Although later many of them would participate in the more formal rituals of mourning -- 700 students atttended the funeral and several hundred paid a shiva call on the family -- the students felt a need to do something else, something on their own.

One of the perks of being a student council officer is that you get a reserved parking spot in the student lot, which you can decorate any way you want.  On Saturday night, and again on Sunday, many students gathered at the president's parking spot.  They lit candles, left momentos, they read prayers in Hebrew and in English.  The parking spot remained as a memorial until August 2009, when the school board had the entire lot repaved.  Becca was so upset, she thought the memorial should have remained -- at least until after she graduated.


The young man's death made an indelible impression on everyone at that school.

And yet...and yet...so many of those kids drive as though our local roads are a raceway.  As though they are indestructible, as though nothing bad could ever happen to them.  It's scary to watch them peel out of the school parking lot.

It makes you want to just lock your children in their rooms until they're 30.

you are not going to believe this

Remember how I won the Jimmy Buffett tickets in November?

I won them from Newsday, they have contests for subscribers.

well, newsday just ran a contest for tickets to see Riverdance at Radio City on March 17.

Drew won a pair of tickets.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

college road trip season

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

Becca and I will soon be doing another round of .....the college road trip.

It feels like I've been doing the college road trip thing forever!!!!

My girls are two years apart in age. Jen is currently a college sophomore and Becca is a high school senior.

My life on the road began during Jen's senior year in high school. Prior to her senior year Jen had no desire whatsoever to even discuss her college plans, let alone actually visit a college.

But when senior year hit...we packed our bags and off we went. At first I it was overwhelming...most of the other students had begun to look at colleges in their junior year, and we were playing catch up. I am a college graduate, but it's been many years since I was a student, and I felt a little bit like a fish out of water....until I began to realize that most of the changes colleges have made are in the details, the overall experience isn't that much different from when I went to school

The pre-application visit -- your tour of the college begins with an "information session", where the admissions counselor discuss the admisssion process, the academic standards, student life. Then you get to hear from some students, how much they love their school. And last, you take a walkign tour of the campus, where the student guide fills you in on everything you care to know about the college. Jen and I took a few of these tours, saw some interesting campuses.

The second round of tours comes after the applications have been submitted, after the decision letters are mailed. Now you've been accepted to a few school and want to choose which one to attend. The information is more specific, the tours are more detailed.

Jen narrowed down her choices to two schools, both in New england, and we visited both campuses at least 2-3 times before she made her final decision.

the day after we moved Jen into her freshman dorm, Becca announced "it's my turn."

So last year, during February break, Becca and I did a whirlwind tour of colleges -- five campuses in 4 days (though one didn't really count, it was Jen's school and Becca didn't take an official tour). I saw a few that I really loved, schools that I would have liked to have attended. In April Becca's father took her to see another 4 schools. and in the fall, each of us took Becca on a weekend trip to look at colleges.

So I've spent the last 2 1/2 years scouting out college campuses....and I'm not done yet.

because soon, very soon, the acceptance letters should start to arrive...and we will be on the road once more.

I'd better make sure my suitcase is packed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

maybe I should become a Luddite

first I lose my iPod, then I fry my mini camcorder.


today I left my cell phone home.


waaaahhhhh.....

Biggest Loser Tuesday

No weight watchers meeting this week, I wasn't at work. instead, I was poked and prodded by various members of the medical profession -- my arm felt like a pincushion.

but I did an informal weigh in at the gym (yes, I've been going to the gym) and was pleased with the results.

As for the show....

It starts with the blue and yellow teams and their at-home challenge.  Blue team is working hard at home, but so is yellow team.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

The teacher/student concept -- each team will be represented by one player on the scale.   The teachers will work with the trainers, then teach the students what they've learned.  the students will weigh in.  Stephanie and John are paired up, each is the sole representative of their team due to eliminations.  The temptation -- chocolate candy.  5 calories per piece, but who wants to start eating chocolate?  If you don't eat you're out of the competition.  Competition is over after 2 pieces of candy, a mere 10 calories.  Pink team chooses who will be the teachers and who will be the students.  and they are not happy with having to make those decisions.

Jillian says Migdalia has a chip on her shoulder the size of Texas....Migdalia is sulking and upset....bob suggests Jillian act mean...Jillian thinks Migdalia will walk out if she does....Jillian yells at her about her 9 year old daughter ....Migdalia threatens to quit.  ..Jillian has to give pep talks to mother and daughter.  Jillian asks Bob to "close the deal" to keep her on campus.  And he succeeds...but then gets an argument from Miggy.

 Cut to Houston and the blue team  -- It was nice to see Cherita succeed on a bike after her bad experience with it on the ranch.  And then to Minneapolis and the yellow team...


I didn't realize there was a trainer's room for "repairs"!

The cooking lesson was fun.

I'm glad Kat McPhee is involved in the pound for pound challenge... but blonde hair?

The student/teacher challenge.  Unravel your problems?  The teacher will unwind ribbon through the playground. they're told that another color team will unravel their ribbon.    The first student to unravel their ribbon wins.  The reward will be immunity at the weigh-in. The twist is the students will be blindfolded and have to unravel their own color ribbon.   Teachers have to talk their students through the playground.  Red team -- Lance is  a commercial diver, I think he's got a clear advantage working in the dark.   Pink team has serious problems.  Gray is right behind red....And gray team overtakes red and wins immunity!!!

Gray also has the option to switch teacher and student on one team for weigh-in.

Bob gives the teachers a last chance workout, and the teachers have to give their students a workout. Jillian hopes the teachers have taught the students everything she told them to say.


then we see the students doing their workout.  for the most part, they will be the ones whose weight "counts".

and finally, weigh-in time.

Gray team chooses to switch  the white team -- they don't think Michael is working hard enough.

Gray team weighs in, and both have done well.

Green team is up first.  Miggy's weight is the one that counts.  She lost 7 pounds.

Black is up next.  Darrell needs to have lost more than 11 pounds, and he does -- they're safe.

Orange team -- Daris is scared.  He needs to have lost more than 9 pounds.  He lost 9 pounds exactly, not enough to beat the green team.

John and Stephanie are up next, and it's John's weight that will count.  He lost 14 pounds, and they are safe.

Red team is next.  Lance needs to have lost more than 9 pounds.  He lost 12, and red team is safe.  But Melissa's weight loss...she lost 1 pound...Jillian takes her to task about game playing.  And then Bob yells at her too about lying.

Orange keeps dropping lower as eveyone else weighs in.

then it's time for white team to weigh in.  Michael feels he has something to prove because of what gray team said.  He needs to have lost more than 13 pounds.  He lost 10. Orange team is safe.

The last team to weigh in is the pink team.  Ashley needs to have lost more than 7 pounds to stay safe.  And she lost 12!!!!!  Pink is safe.

White has fallen below the yellow line.

Maria pleads for Michael to stay on the ranch and for the others to push him....

...but a lot of the others don't think he's been working hard enough and don't think he should stay.

And the voting begins....and most of the teams honor Maria's wishes.  she's going home.

she looks good now, and she's proud she beat her fear of water -- she's learning how to swim!

my new baby should arrive today


Monday, January 25, 2010

when did I become such a girly girl?

Trying to think of what to write today...and all I could come up with was hand cream, facial masks, chapstick and hair color.

Not that there's anything wrong with cosmetics.   I just thoguht I was trying to be deeper than that in this blog.


Yes, it's the winter blah, all right.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

grrrrrrr

the mini camcorder....tried to load music onto the MP3 function...now it says "Loading" but won't load....and I can't find the user guide....

false alarm

Thin envelopes arrived from two different colleges.


Becca was afraid to open them.

turns out they were "dear applicant, we've received your application and will review it" letters.

It's getting tense around here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the winter blahs

I've got them...bad. Can't stand this cold, icy weather much longer. Can't stand that it gets dark in the middle of the afternoon. Can't stand worrying about the next snowstorm, the next icy patch on the sidewalk, the bitter wind whipping through the trees. Can't stand being cooped up inside. Can't stand the cold air sucking all the moisture out of my skin. Can't stand my "winter lips" anymore, even though I've used tons of chapstick. Can't stand it, I tell you. We're only halfway through january and I'm beginning to wonder if spring will ever arrive. Old man winter, GO AWAY!!! SCAT!!! VAMOOSE!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

alas, poor iPod....

songbird is bereft. she is inconsolable. she is in deep, dark mourning.


songbird has lost her iPod.




Have you seen my baby?  It looked just like this:




3rd generation Nano, the square ones with the great screen for video.  when last seen, my baby was wearing a pink leather case and black earbuds.



songbird without music is ...inconcieveable. it's tragic. it is a crime against nature.




It must have happened at the gym. Took the nano with me last Sunday, used it while I walked laps around the track. (I loaded it with tons of Jimmy Buffett, I want to get ready for the cruise....can you believe we sail in 24 days?). after my walk I went back to the locker room to retrieve my things. I thought I put the nano back in my gym bag, but when I went to the gym again on Monday, the nano was not in my bag.   I asked at the lost and found, but without success.

I am not totally without tunes, of course.  My cell phone -- a Voyager -- is loaded with music thanks to Verizon's music programs, but I don't like to listen too long because it runs down the battery and I might actually need to make a call.  And the minicamcorder has an MP3 player -- if I can ever figure out how to load it.

but I really, really, really love iPods.

so now comes decision time.

the new Nano has features that mine didn't have -- FM radio and a video camera.  I don't need the camera, I've got my minicamcorder, but the FM radio would be nice.

the classic is...well, classic.  no fancy features, but enough storage space to hold ....well, A LOT of music.

but....the iTouch....more features than I could list ....touch screen, wifi, apps, games....  but WAY expensive....

sigh....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

OMG, he's a PIRATE!!!!

no, not really.

but he's going to play one.

I mentioned before that Drew is involved in a local community theater group. they produce Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. this year they're doing "The Pirates of Penzance." Drew is in the chorus, he'll be playing a pirate.

I promise to post photos....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

group projects

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

One day last week, I came home from work to find Becca hyper-tense and stressed out.  Art supplies were scattered all over the kitchen table as she  meticulously lettered the oak tag poster she was working on, as she cut and pasted sections of text and downloaded photos ....

She was preparing the visual for a group project.

Becca?  My Becca?  Prepairng the visual display for the group project?  The child who did the "happy dance" in 8th grade because it meant she didn't have to take art class anymore?  How did she wind up doing the artwork portion of the group project?

It seems that the teacher for this class is very fond of group projects.  And each time she assigns a project, she creates the groups, so that the students don't always pick the same three or four friends for their group.

And this time around Becca was assigned to a group that...well, they were less than cooperative.  She wound up doing more than her fair share of the project; including the poster (which came out beautifully, by the way).  The excuses were myriad -- sports practice, studying for a midterm, a project due in another class....

so, do you shoulder the burden and do eveyrone else's work? do you let the teacher know? what if you say nothing, but the teacher finds out and asks you about everyone else's contribution? 



I suppose it's a valuable lesson...and I'm not talking about the subject matter of the presentation.  In the real world you don't get to choose your coworkers (unless you're the employer) and you have to learn to learn to wrok with difficult people. 

But that's a hard thing to grasp when you're 17 and your friends dump on you.

Once, when I was in college, I took a theater arts class. My partner and I had to perform a scene from a play. we also had to create a "director's notebook" explaining the scene and how we were staging it. My partner and I prepared the scene, but he did absolutely nothing towards the written assignment. I said nothing, but the teacher asked me and I didn't lie. apparently he'd done the same thing to his previous partner. He failed the class, and he blamed me. even called me one night to berate me about it.




But Becca didnt' ask my advice, and I didn't offer it.  I suppose this is another one of those occasions when she has to make her own decisions.  I'm not the one who has to sit in class for the next 6 months with these students, she is.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

OK, I'm back in the swing of things...at weigh-in I .lost 2.2 pounds.  etools prompted me to re-evaluate my points target, and guess what?  I'm in a different category, I get fewer points now.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  LOL

Working out now, I took a long walk in my neighborhood on Saturday -- up and down hill. Made it to the Y on Sunday, 45 minutes in the pool followed by a 30 minute walk on the track.

As for the show...it's the week 2 curse.  The show starts with a painful workout, Jillian doling out sympathy and hope along with pain....

Dr. H  shows up to deliver the bad news about the contestants' health.  Oy.  Dr. H has tasks for each of them.  Each task is tailored to the team's needs.  That's something new.  the idea is to let them know how unhealthy they are and how they need to change.  Jillian looked sick when eating the orange team's meals for the day.


The first challenge -- a balance beam over the pool.  They have to carry beach balls across the pool.  One team will win immunity, one team will wind up with a 2 pound penalty.  My worst nightmare!  Even when I was thin (back in junior high)  I could not do the balance beam in gym class.  I'd stand there in fear -- managed to walk it while olding onto the gym teacher, but that's about it.

I feel bad for Patti, she is a diabetic and has neuropathy in her feet --- I know from personal experience how that feels, I had neuropathy when I was going through chemo.  

Red team wins immunity.  Black team is a close second.  Purple finishes the task, even with Patti's numb feet.  It comes down to white team vs. brown team, and Maria is having a panic attack because of the water.. She  takes a really bad fall and hurts herself.  I'm crying as I watch her get into the ambulance, her son comforting her.  Losing the challenge and earning the 2 pound penalty  is adding insult to injury -- literally.

Jillian wants to work with Maria to overcome her fears, and makes her go into the pool.  Wow, she can be paitient.

the second hour of the show, and Dr. H is back with more scary medical news.  They all have ailments related to their weight, but the worst is 27 year old Ashley  -- she  is a diabetic already.

the it's the last chance workout.  Loved Darrell's comment that it's legalized torture.

weigh-in and the red team goes first.  good thing they have immunity, Melissa actually gained a pound.

next is gray team, they do well.  pink team is happy with their results, Sherry is positively giddy over dropping below 200.  they move ahead of gray.  so does green.

then purple.  is up...and in tears because they didn't do well.  they fall below gray.

orange team is up....and they move past purple.

brown needs to have lost more than 6 pounds to stay safe, and John comes through with a 10 pound weight loss.

black team comes up.  they need to have lost more than 10 pounds to be safe.  Success!!!

last is the white team.  they have a 2 pound penalty, so the weigh-in is especially scary for them.  they need to have lost more than 13 pounds to be safe.  they lost 21 pounds, so even with the penalty they are more than safe.

and purple fals below the yellow line.  so it's either Patti or her daughter Stephanie who goes home.  Patti says she wants to go home and let Stephanie stay on the ranch.  the voting is predictable.  Patti goes home.  she lost 43 pounds at home, not bad at all!!!!    and Dr. H has good news for her, too -- her blood pressure and diabetes are much better controlled.

next week looks interesting, too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

grrrr.....

Drew won tickets to see that new Harrison Ford/Brendan Frasier movie on Wednesday night and I can't go with him!!!!

I serve on the board of trustees at my synagogue.  Our monthly meeitng will be Wednesday night.  I seldom miss a meeting, but for this movie I would have opted out, if....


....if the synagogue were not in crisis right now over a conflict between the board and a significant number of congregants.

Won't go into details here, but this is not what I signed up for when I joined the board.  Another example of "no good deed goes unpunished."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti

One of the poorest...if not THE poorest ...island nations in the Caribbean has been hit with an unbearable disaster.  Who would have imagined that there'd be an earthquake in that part of the world, or the damage such an earthquake could bring about?

Humanitarian aid is rushing to the island from the four corners of the globe.  I made my donation to the relief fund.  How could I not?  the faces staring back at me from the television....who would not be moved by the plight of those people?

but why did the world wait until disaster struck to concern itself with Hati's welfare?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

football playoffs this weekend

And the Jets are in the playoffs.

I'm not a big football fan, I care only because my office is just a few miles south fo the Meadowlands and I have hometown pride.  Besides, the Jets used to play at Shea, and they used to practice on Long island -- my home.

I can tell you who won the Superbowl in 2008, but I can't tell you who won in 2007 or 2009.

Superbowl Sunday, 2008.  The New York Giants vs. the New England Patriots.

and Jen and I were taking a college road trip to Hartford, Connecticut.  we were expected to be at the college early Monday morning, so I booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Hartford Sunday night.

so all during the drive up to Connecticut, Jen is busy texting with her friend Billy -- billy played football in high school and he's a major Giants fan.  Billy gives her updates about the game.

Just as we pull ito the hotel parking lot, jen says "The giants just won the game."

we walk into the lobby and there's a huge flat-screen TV tuned to the game, and a lot of unhappy faces....

and here I am with my New York driver's license....

they rented the room to me anyhow.

I think if we'd gone to Boston we would have been killed....

Friday, January 15, 2010

the excitement is building

After months of planning (documented in my cruise blog), we're in the final countdown to our cruise.30 days until we set sail for the warm Caribbean.

We fly to Miami on 2/14 and board the ship -- the Carnival Valor -- for a 7 day cruise the the Western Caribbean.  We have shore excursions planned for each port of call.  In the Cayman islands, we will take a ride on the Atlantis submarine and then tour Grand Cayman Island.  In Belize we will take a riverboat ride through rainforest and then climb Mayan ruins.  We will take a boat tour of coral reefs off of Roatan Island.  and we have a beach day planned in Cozumel, Mexico.

I've been planning, shopping, making packing lists....

Yes, the excitment is starting to build....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

very concerned

Right now I'm worrying about Drew's father.

Drew's parents retired to Florida in 1990, just a few weeks after Jen was born.  Drew's mother passed away in 1994.  About 2-3 years ago, Emil became ill and wound up in the hospital, followed by a stint in a rehabilitative facility.  The social worker determined he could nto return to his house, and he moved into an assisted living facility.  Since then it's been a cycle -- injury or illness, hospital, rehab, back to the facility.

So the other day, when Drew got a phone call from the facility explaining that emil had taken another bad fall, he expected the pattern to repeat itself.

But not this time.  Emil is no longer able to live in assisted living, now he needs a nursing home.  so now Drew is scrambling to find placement for his father.

and I am wondering....Emil lives in the Ft. Myers area...maybe we should fly to Ft. Myers a day or so before our cruise, check up on him, see how he's doing, then rent a car and drive to Miami for the cruise.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Breathing Room

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

We have now reached that stage in the college application process where my daughter Becca can actually breathe.

Her applications have been finalized and submitted, every "t" crossed and "i" dotted. She's clicked through the common application so many times she has it memorized, she's written and rewritten her essays so many times she can recite them by heart. SAT and ACT scores have been ordered, transcripts and letters of recommendation have been mailed. Her fate is no longer in her hands....


Round two begins at the end of next month, as the admission decisions begin to pour in...as we travel from school to school for "admitted students" events....as the second part of the decision process begins.

but for now...it's quiet. She can breathe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rest in peace Miep Gies

Anne Frank's diary was one of the books that influenced me most during my teen years.  I remember how Anne described Meip, and I feel like I've lost a friend today.

obituary

(CNN) -- Miep Gies, who ensured the diary of Anne Frank did not fall into the hands of Nazis after the teen's arrest, has died. She was 100.




Gies was among a team of Dutch citizens who hid the Frank family of four and four others in a secret annex in Amsterdam, Netherlands, during World War II, according to her official Web site, which announced her death Monday. She worked as a secretary for Anne Frank's father, Otto, in the front side of the same Prinsengracht building.



The family stayed in the secret room from July 1942 until August 4, 1944, when they were arrested by Gestapo and Dutch police after being betrayed by an informant. Two of Gies' team were arrested that day, but she and her friend, Bep Voskuijl, were left behind -- and found 14-year-old Anne's papers.



"And there Bep and I saw Anne's diary papers lying on the floor. I said, 'Pick them up!' Bep stood there staring, frozen. I said, 'Pick them up! Pick them up!' We were afraid, but we did out best to collect all the papers," Gies said in a 1998 interview with The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.



"Then we went downstairs. And there we stood, Bep and I. I asked, 'What now, Bep?' She answered, 'You're the oldest. You hold on to them. So I did."



The girl had chronicled two years of the emotions and fears that gripped her during hiding, as well as candid thoughts on her family, her feelings for friend-in-hiding Peter van Pels, and dreams of being a professional writer. Mixed into the entries were the names of the Dutch helpers, who risked their lives to keep the family's secret.



"I didn't read Anne's diary papers. ... It's a good thing I didn't because if I had read them I would have had to burn them," she said in the 1998 interview. "Some of the information in them was dangerous."



The diary was sheltered in Gies' desk drawer and later turned over to Otto Frank when he returned after the war as the only surviving resident of the annex. Anne died at northern Germany's Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.



Her father published her diary, titled "The Secret Annex," in 1947.



Despite the legendary hardship she endured during the German occupation, Gies never embraced the label of a hero.



"More than 20,000 Dutch people helped to hide Jews and others in need of hiding during those years. I willingly did what I could to help. My husband did as well. It was not enough," she says in the prologue of her memoirs, "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family."



"There is nothing special about me. I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time."



Gies' husband, Jan, whom she married in 1941, died in 1993. The couple had a son together.

Biggest Loser Tuesday

20 minutes before my 1st Weight Watchers meeting of the year...a co-worker is taken away by ambulance after experiencing chest pains. A real "scared straight" moment.

first meeting of the year -- since we're an "at work" meeting, it's time to reorganize. old members (like me) get to weigh in....and see just how much I've gained over the holidays. groan, more weight to lose.

I joined the Pound for Pound challenge. and started going to the gym again.  mostly I'm walking around the track, but on sunday I actually ventured into the pool.

as for the show...new season is a couples version of the show -- parents and kids, married couple, siblings, cousins. starts with 11 teams finding out what their team color is. then, weighing in -- in front of their friends and family, in their home towns. it's an act of courage to actually get onto the scale.

James and John, the two young men from Orlando, call themselves "the half-ton twins"? but yes, they are identical twins.

Cherita is a breast cancer survivor -- man, can I relate to that!

When Sunshine began to cry on the scale after weighing in, so did I.

then it's on to the ranch. and the first challenge is to ride 26.2 miles on a bike -- a marathon on day one. but it's not individual milage, it's a combination of the miles done by both team memebers. only 9 of the 11 teams will make it into the house, the two teams that come in last will be leaving. and the team that wins will have immunity at this week's weigh-in.


it looks PAINFUL!!!!!

Green team -- Miggy and Migdalia -- the mother and daughter -- win immunity.

blue team -- another mother daughter combo -- Cherita keeps pushing herself, even after the medics say to slow down, until she collapses in pain...the doctor had to pull her off the bike, and she doesn't want to stop. Her daughter Vicky keeps going!!!

Blue and yellow are the bottom two -- Sunshine and O'Neal and Vicky and Cherita have to say goodbye.But there's a surprise!!! Bob and Jillian stop their limo....

they have to go home for 30 days, but will be back ....and the team with the most weight loss will be back on the ranch. and Jillian and Bob will help them.

meanwhile, back at the ranch, the 9 teams have settled in....the first day begins with a fire alarm!!! And the Day One workout begins. torture and screaming and pain....



We get a little background on each contestant, why they're trying to lose weight. It's heartwrenching.

gthen it's the last chance workout....Jillian urges the ladies to be warriors. that seems to be here theme this time around.

and then it's time for the first weigh in. one team will fall below the yellow line, and one player from that team will go home.

green team has immunity, so they weigh in first. they both do very well.

next is gray team....amazing results. orange team weighs in and takes the lead, ahead of gray. black team moves ahead of gray. brown team -- the heaviest team -- each twin loses 23 pounds, but not enough to pass the gray team. gray is now safe. red team needs 28 pounds to beat brown, and they do! Purple team weighs in, and Patti's weight loss is the most of any woman ever in week one -- they move to first place. Pink team -- they are amazed at the amoount of weight they've lost.

each member of the white team will weigh in separately. it comes down to Michael...who weighs over 500 pounds....has lost more in week one than any other player in history!

and the brown team -- the identical twins -- fall below the yellow line. how do you choose between idsentical twins? James can take off work and focus on himself, John cannot. James has knee problems, John does not. Who needs to be on campus more? they each lost 23 pounds....

The voting....and James is going home.

but WOW!!!! He lost 100 pounds in 2 months, just working out at home!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

songbird salutes the 70's

we really took our laundry seriously back then


Sunday, January 10, 2010

movie review -- "My Life in Ruins"

Drew and I watched this on DVD. Nice little movie. Cute romance. Richard Dreyfus steals the movie, though, just loved him as Irv. I am now madly and passionately in love with Greece. Maybe I can vacation there someday.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

great quote from Jimmy Buffett

Fifty. A mind-boggling thought for a war baby like me. Fifty is not "just another birthday." It is a reluctant milepost on the way to wherever it is we are meant to wind up. It can be approached in only two ways. First, it can be a ball of snakes that conjures up immediate thoughts of mortality and accountability. ("What have I done with my life?") Or, it can be a great excuse to reward yourself for just getting there. ("He who dies with the most toys wins.") I instinctively choose door number two.

I'm with you, Jimmy. I've spent too much of my life picking door number one.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Valentine's Day

Yesterday I saw the first Valentine's Day merchandise of the year.

I am a hopeless romantic, I love the whole notion of Valentine's Day, despite some bittersweet memories of the day. Last year I lamented that I had not found a soulmate. This year I am nurturing a new yet old love.

so I am truly looking forward to Valentine's Day this year.

and not just because our Valentine's Day dinner will take place aboard the Carnival Valor....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Memories

 It was a long-running musical in London and New York.  It was a long-running joke in Forbidden Broadway performances and  on TV.

Even now, years after the show closed, when I walk past the Wintergarden Theater, I expect to see this on the marquis:



 



 It was one of my favorite musicals of the 1980's.  I saw the show at least 3 times, bought the cast album from London as well as the one  from New York, memorized all the words.  One Halloween I dressed as a cat because I was inspired by the show.  I even named my black cat "Mr. Mistoffeles".

So, for your listening pleasure today, I present the opening number from Cats.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Delicate Balance

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

Sometimes I walk a tightrope, trying to maintain a delicate balance between "helicopter mom" and letting my daughter learn from her own mistakes.

My daughter Jen is 19 and a sophomore in college.  She attends school in New England, about a 4 hour drive from our home here on Long Island. When she was in high school and living at home, I was able to see how she handled her school work, whether she was studying and doing her homework, and I would get report cards and interim reports and all sorts of feedback from her teachers.  I could "make" her do her homework or study for the big test, I could intervene if she ran into a problem with a teacher.  Now that she's in college, however, and miles away from home, there's really very little I can do. As she keeps reminding me, she's an "adult" now,  responsible for her own schoolwork.

So if I see red flags, there's very little I can do.

She came home for weekends several times this semester, and never brought home a book.   She missed a few classes, but told me it wasn't a problem, she'd make up the work.  She came home just before finals (we attended a family event) and I never saw her study.  If I said something about it, she told me not to worry, that everything was "fine" and she was on track for doing well in all her classes.

Fall semester ended just before Christmas.  When I asked Jen how she thought she did, she was evasive.  When I asked her if she got her grade report on line, she was evasive.  It turns out that her grades are not where she wanted them to be, and now she has to rethink her coursework for next semester and her plans for next year.  I must admit I am angry and upset with her for doing this to herself. 

Herself.  Yes, that's the operative word.  She didn't do this to me, she did it to herself.    And she's the one who will have to deal with the consequences.

College is a learning environment, isn't it?  And not all of the lessons are academic.  I can only hope she learns from this mistake.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

Yes, it's time for the next season of The Biggest Loser!

Great show, very inspirational, I can't wait to meet the new cast and hear their stories.

I will also be re-joining Weight Watchers today.

the motivation this time around?  The cruise in 6 weeks.  If I am going to be roaming around Mayan ruins, I need to be in shape -- the pyramid at Altun Ha is 54 feet tall, and I intend to climb it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Best

 Best.

That's the NaBloPoMo theme for January.

No further explanation was given.

Are you supposed to be the best you can be?  Are you supposed to enjoy the best life has to offer?  Is it a competition and you have to be the best blogger among those who are participating?

Curious, isn't it?

I will try to do my best to stay on track  to meet the NaBloPoMo  challenge.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Up In the Air

George Clooney could hold my interest just reading a phone book.  How much better iti is when he's doing more than that!

But I really liked this movie.  Clooney's character is an anti-hero, and the movie is both funny and bittersweet.  Definitely worth the effort to see it in the theater.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

01/02/2010

a palindrome if ever I saw one

too funny!


Friday, January 1, 2010

I was wrong about the silly glasses

some souvenirs from last night's party:


welcome 2010

It's the start of a new month and the start of a new year.  some would say, the start of a new decade -- I am a purist and realize that 2010 is the last year of the decade, just as 2000 was the last year of the millenium.

This is a year full of changes, a year full of promise.I will, G-d willing, have a major celebration in February -- my 50th birthday.  What a milestone that is in anyone's life.  but for me it's even more important -- just before my 45th birthday (in January 2005)  I was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and genuinely wondered if I would make the "5 year" mark.  Of course, this "double occasion" will be celebrated with as much joie de vivre as I can possibly muster, on a cruise to the Caribbean.  My birthday will be spent visiting tropical rainforest and ancient Mayan ruins, and with a lavish dinner aboard ship that night.

There will be other lifestyle changes as well.  Becca will graduate from high school at the end of June and will head off to college in the fall.  So I will soon become an "empty nester".   How I will fill my days is about to change.  It's "me" time now, isn't it?  

It will be an interesting year, watching my daughters grow into strong, independent women, developing my own interests....and then, of course, there's Drew.Who would have thought I would find romance again, let alone with my ex-husband?    I am nurturing this new/old love and cannot wait to see where it goes.

So let me wish you all a happy and a healthy new year.  Let's see how this one turns out!

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