life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, September 25, 2011

hold on to a man who cooks!

Drew makes breakfast for me every Sunday morning. he can make scrambled eggs, french toast, pancakes, bacon, sausage ... and he recently added a waffle iron to his repertoire.

now I have to go buy him a Keurig so he'll stop making that horrid instant coffee.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

inspired by recent events

of boys and friends and boyfriends

did I mention that Becca broke up with her boyfriend in mid August?  His idea, not hers.  and did I mention they got back together a few weeks later?  Don't feel bad if you can't keep up, I didn't know about the reconciliation until last week, when I took her out to dinner and she casually mentioned she'd spent the previous weekend at his college in Pennsylvania.

poor Jen.  about halfway through the summer she stopped hanging with a certain group of friends and I didn't know why.  turns out she she had a falling out with her friend Sara.  since Sara was always with that group of friends, Jen chose to hang out with other friends instead.   you guessed it, the disagreement was over a boy ....someone Jen liked but the boy asked Sara out...and Sara didn't tell Jen and when Jen found out ...

but the funniest part of this post is the email I got from Drew's sister.   seems auntie has a friend whose grandson is 26 and in medical school....grandma wants grandson to meet a nice Jewish girl....and auntie is trying to play matchmaker....Jen has reached the age where well-meaning relatives are trying to fix her up,,,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

a hush falls over Collinwood....

I first heard about Johnny Depp's Dark Shadows 2 years ago

The movie is scheduled to open in May 2012.

we've now seen a glimpse of what the movie will be like:

Depp sinks teeth into 'Dark Shadows' role

Actor Johnny Depp at a photo call for For those  who remember running home from school in the 1960s and '70s to watch the soap opera, "Dark Shadows,"  there's a film version on the way with actor Johnny Depp starring as the vampire, Barnabas Collins.
The website has just released first photos from the set of Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" adaptation. Johnny Depp looks like a typical, creepy, colorful, Burton character as he takes his turn as Barnabas, famously played in the television series by actor Jonathan Frid.
The soap opera, which aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971, is centered around the Collins family and its run-ins with the supernatural and Halloween-like creatures.
The film, set to be released in 2012, is currently in production in the United Kingdom and will also star Burton's wife and muse, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Eva Green and Michelle Pfeiffer.
The official film synopsis from Warner Bros. Pictures reads:
"In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son, Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England, to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued the family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet -- or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.
As the master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy, "until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death -- turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.
"Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring his or her own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles."

Monday, September 19, 2011

visiting the cemetery

So yesterday I talked about Jewish custom and the purpose of our trip to the cemetery.  Looking at the post, it was so businesslike....

Today I'll be more emotional about it.

My mother's family is buried in United Hebrew, a small Jewish cemetery in Staten Island.  My father's family is at Beth David, in Elmont, here on Long Island.  When I was a child it would be a major event to visit United Hebrew -- my parents would pick up my grandmother and my aunts and we'd make a day of it.  Often there'd be other relatives along for the visit, too.    Young rabbinical students used to try to earn a few dollars by reciting prayers over each grave in Hebrew.  After we'd say prayers at the graves of the dearly departed, we'd gather at a local diner and the living would catch up with family business.

I was less familiar with Beth David, it being easy for my father to pay his respects without the entourage. 

I think my parents stopped dragging us on the yearly pilgrimage when I was in my teens. 

I never went to family funerals when I was a child or teenager, I think my parents wanted to shield us from such raw grief.  We'd go to the shiva house afterwards, we'd go to the unveiling, but not to the funeral itself.

I was a grown woman, recently married, the first time I went to a family funeral.  for that matter, it was the first time I'd been to anyone's funeral.  I wasn't very close to my Aunt Annie, my father's older sister, but I remember how upset my cousin Adrienne was...Beth David in the rain, and Adrienne talking to the family members buried there, telling them who was coming to join them....

There have been all too many funerals since then, all too many trips to the cemetery...

Last year, when my Aunt Bernice died, my daughters came to the funeral.  It was their first family funeral, though not the first funeral either had attended  -- that would have been the funeral of the senior class president, who died the night before homecoming the year Jen was a junior and Becca a freshman.  They hadn't been to United Hebrew since the unveiling for my grandmother, who died in 1996.  After the service we took them to see the graves of other family members.  They didn't have all those years of the annual visit to the graves of relatives they'd never me. And I realized that they were missing an important connection, and that they sought it out the day of the funeral.

Yesterday's trip to United Hebrew was bittersweet.  A cool, autumnal day, perfect for wandering in an open field...I'm the one who organized the excursion, I'm the one who drove to Staten Island.  My mother kept saying that she would have driven there herself, but we won't let her....she keeps her driving to local roads near home these days.  It's a small cemetery, but she couldn't remember the location of the family graves...we drove around for about 15-20 minutes before I finally figured it out.  My father was so frail I had to help him get out of the car and walk to the graves.  And I was the one who read the father couldn't remember the Hebrew, so I said a prayer in English.

It was the first time in my adult life that I was there for a visit, not a funeral or unveiling.  I got a chance to really look at the grandmother, my grandfather, my Aunt Eileen, who died when Jen was a baby.  My mother's aunts and uncles, her cousins...Bernice's grave, just aching for a headstone.  My mother says her grandfather is buried in a different section of the cemetery, across the road from everyone else...and there is an infant, buried near the trees, my grandmother's firstborn who died at birth...though we didn't visit those graves, my mother felt the need to mention that they're there.

After we prayed, my mother went to each of the graves and spoke to her relatives briefly....we couldn't find any rocks or pebbles to mark our visit, but my mother said it didn't matter, because she "left a piece of her heart" at each grave....

Live and be well, we will be back at United Hebrew soon for an unveiling.  But what was also on my mind....this is the place where my parents have chosen to be buried.  And I shudder to think when that might be.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The rituals of mourning ... again

It is incumbent upon Jews to remember the souls of our dearly departed. Long after the funeral and the official period of mourning there are ways in which we remember. Each year on the anniversary of a loved one's death (their yartzeit ) we light a candle that will burn for 24 hours. And the Kaddish - the mourners' prayer - is recited in the synagogue.

Several times during the year - most notably at Yom Kippur - there is a special service called Yizkor. During the service we remember our loved ones.

And then there's the custom of visiting the cemetery. The custom is to make a visit in the weeks before Rosh HaShanah. You visit each grave, leaving a pebble on the headstone so others will know you've been there. You recite prayers - Kaddish if you have a minyan (quorum ), other prayers if you do not.

So today I took my parents to the cemetery where my mother's family is buried. My mother needed to fulfill the rituals. And I wanted to see my grandfather's grave.

My grandfather died in 1943. I've seen the grave countless times. But today I wanted a picture of the headstone.

I want my Rabbi to read the Hebrew inscription.

Inscribed on a gravestone is the deceased's name and the name of his or her father. We're working on my aunt's headstone right now and I want to make sure they get everything right. Easier to correct a blueprint than an engraving...

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rennaisance Faire

We usually go in August, but this year we never found the time. I think I like it better in cooler weather .... but by the end of the day I was actually shivering.

We like the funny stuff .... the nuns who sing silly songs, the knife throwers with their comedic patter, the juggler/magician / mime who can make an audience laugh with just a look. Must sees include the living chess board and the joust.

Next year I plan to go in costume.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Feline politics

Living with three cats can be ... interesting.

I've written about my sweet, delicate Daisy. 16 years old, weighs all of six pounds, prefers the company of humans to that of other cats. She is a real princess ... but with excellent hunting skills. A great communicator, she will stand and meow at you until you realize what she wants.

Mr. Kitty is a roly poly boy. He weighs about 20 pounds. Very laid back, he can often be found sleeping on the floor, belly exposed, paws in the air. He was a starving kitty when he came here. He equates food with love and he needs a lot of both. He's a perfect little brother -- he likes to pester Daisy, chase after her, steal her food.

Now we add Redford into the mix. While Daisy and Mr. Kitty were kittens when they arrived here, Redford was a full grown tomcat when he joined our family last winter. He's really great with people, not so much with other cats. He gets along ok with the other cats in our house, But he fights with other cats in the neighborhood ... Pick him up and realize he's all muscle. He's playful at home, chases Mr. Kitty ( I think the Kittyman likes being chased) and poor little Daisy, who would rather be an only cat.

Drew's cat, Cookie, is an only cat. If Daisy had a clue she'd want to trade places...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 -- again

it's been 10 years.

the media in inundating us with remembrances.  as if anyone could forget.

I've written about it before:

I was driving to work, listening to WPLJ, and Scott and Todd were interviewing  a guy who'd seen the first plane hit the WTC.  The second plane hit during the interview.  I will never forget the shock in that man's voice. 

At work we huddled around the small TV in the gym.  that is, when we weren't phone trying to find family members, friends and coworkers.  Our firm had an office in lower Manhattan, and many of the lawyers in the Long Island office had court appearances in the city.Later I learned that one of our secretaries lost her firefighter husband that day.  At the wake she told us she was grateful to have a body to bury.

My daughters were at school,  Jen was two months shy of her 11th birthday, a newly minted 6th grader in her first year of middle school.  One of the teachers at the middle school later told me that they found out about what happened from 8th grade students  who were using their cell phones.  the principal asked students whose parents worked in the city to come to the auditorium --- he wanted to make sure they were going home to a living parent. 

Becca was in 4th grade.  the school district sent a teacher to ride on each school bus to make sure every kid had a place to go.  the 4th grade social studies curriculum is all about New York State, and her textbook featured a very prominent photo of the Twin Towers, a picture she really didn't want to look at.

one thing I can remember from the days music.  none of the local stations played music, they were all devoted to pubic information.  Scott and Todd fielded calls from relatives looking for the missing, from people who wanted to help the rescue/recovery mission, stuff like that.  the newswoman, Patty, actually broke down in tears while on the air.    when radio eventually returned to music, there were a lot of patriotic songs in the mix -- "God bless the USA" was the most popular choice.

today I will spend time at my synagogue. I'll be learning how to crochet lap blankets for cancer patients.

a fitting way to spend such a solemn day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Don't you just love it?

Disney trip report part 2

Universal/IOA: My one complaint is that people here are more likely to ignore the "designated smoking area". Saw one young woman walking up the main street of the park, cigarette in hand. She was wearing short shorts -- so short that I could see the tattoo on her butt cheek. If I'd been her mother, she'd be dead.

As hotel guests, we were able to go into IOA an hour before the park opened just for the Harry Potter area -- you don't get front of the line access for Forbidden Journey. On Saturday we did Harry Potter first, then worked our way around IOA and then went to Universal. On Sunday we did Harry Potter, then went over to Universal so the pirate king could ride the Hollywood rip rocket (no front of the line access for that one, either), and ended our day in IOA.

The rides here tend to be darker and edgier, and we loved them. Forbidden Journey is clearly the best ride in Central Florida. Loved Spiderman and Revenge of the Mummy. Jaws is pure camp and the Simpsons ride is the funniest flight simulator -- love the smell of baby powder....

I won't ride the Dragon Challenge, the Hulk, Doctor Doom's Freefall or Hollywood Rip Rocket. The king loved the coasters, but felt Tower of Terror was a better ride than Dr. Doom. On the other hand, Disaster is much better than Disney's Backlot tour, especially now that there's no audience participation at Disney.

I was not particularly impressed with the fast food in the parks -- ate at Blondie's sandwich shop one day and at the International Festival the next. Adequate but not spectacular. We ate one dinner at the Islands restaurant at the hotel -- nice stir fry experience. Loved my shrimp in Margaritaville, but we were sitting upstairs and didn't really get to experience the "party" -- though this parrothead was happy to hear Jimmy's music! We had dinner at the Latin Club one night, and I thought the food was better than at Bongos; I had arroz con pollo is both restaurants. The king thought Citywalk was nicer than downtown Disney.

And did I mention the local fauna? As we arrived at the Royal Pacific, I told the king "I didn't see any lizards at coronado springs." I remembered seeing lizards at ohter hotels. No sooner did I say it than I saw lizards at Royal Pacific. but what really got to us was the little black snake that crossed our path!

People DO notice your t-shirt, by the way. the king wore a t-shirt from the old TV show "dark shadows" and spent the day telling people about the new movie version starring Johnny depp. I wore an old t-shirt to Hollywood Studios, one that I bought after riding Rock N roller Coaster 10 years ago, and it was quite a conversation starter. And the day we went to IOA I wore a shirt I'd bought in the Warner Brothers Studio Store, one that bears the Dark Lord's name -- you should have seen reactions to that.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Disney Trip report part 1

As you may know, after many years of being divorced, my ex husband and I have reconciled and have done some traveling together recently. We honeymooned in Disneyworld in 1987, and though I've been to Disney and Universal many times since, my ex (who I'll call "the pirate king" for this trip report) had never been back.

So when we decided to go, he let me do most of the planning. I think I did OK.

Rather than give you a day by day itinerary, I think that what I'll do is give comments on various topics.

The weather: Just as we were leaving for the airport, the pirate king's buddy asked us "do you guys have insurance? Hurricane Irene is in the Caribbean and it's aiming towards Florida." Ironically, while Irene dominated the news the entire time we were in Central Florida, the storm posed more of a danger to our friends and family back home on Long island than it did to us. In fact, although we were not directly affected by the storm, we had to book car service to take us home from the airport at the end of the trip because the friend who was supposed to pick us up got stranded in Las Vegas.

We also missed the excitement of an earthquake. Instead, we got typical "Florida in the summertime" weather -- very hot, very humid, with short periods of rain almost every day.

Accommodations: We spent one night in a budget motel inKissimmee , 4 nights at Disney's Coronado Springs and 3 nights at Loew's Royal Pacific. first, the budget motel -- Studio 6 Orlando - Kissimmee . Not bad for the money. We had a lovely room, could have comfortably stayed here the whole trip if need be. There was a living room, a kitchenette with table and chairs, a decent bathroom with the sink in a separate area, and a bedroom with king sized bed.

Coronado Springs. I've stayed in deluxe resorts, value resorts and moderates, so I knew what to expect. I loved the Mexican theming. We checked in at 7 AM and our room was ready. Even better, the upgrade fairy struck, and we got a water view when we'd booked a garden view! We were in Cabanas, and our view was of a smaller lake behind the buildings. Since we did the parks commando style, we never saw much of the resort, but what we did see what gorgeous.

Royal Pacific: I'd stayed at Portofino Bay several years ago, so I knew that this hotel would be beautiful, too. The theme here is a combination of Polynesia and Indonesia. the staff wear leis and greet you with "aloha". but the decor...well, I expected Dorothy Lamour in her sarong and Hope and Crosby in their "Road to Bali" costumes to show up at any minute. by the time we got here we were exhausted, and so we spent some time relaxing at the resort instead of dashing around the parks. The pool area is well themed, you'd think you really were in Bali if you didn't see the top of Dr. Doom over the tops of the palm trees. Great activities for the kids -- games all day and a movie at night -- but I would have liked the option of a quiet pool a la Disney.
we had a garden view room, and all we could see was foiliage!

The parks: both parks managed to entertain us and hold our interest. Disney is clearly more "magical", Universal clearly edgier. We loved them both.

Disney: We visited all 4 theme parks from Monday-Friday. Crowds were moderate, we toured "commando style", made good use of extra magic hours, fastpass and single rider lines. We focused on rides and generally skipped shows, and consequently managed to see everything a lot faster than I'd planned. the only time we had to wait more than 20 minutes for a ride was during extra magic hours at EPCOT, when our wait for Soarin' was over an hour.

that was also the night I encountered the incredibly rude parents. the young boy was a bit rambunctious and accidentally kicked me, hard enough to leave a bruise. Mom told him to behave, but never told him to apologize to me.

Monday morning was Animal Kingdom, Monday afternoon and evening EPCOT. Tuesday morning was EPCOT, then Magic Kingdom in the afternoon and EPCOT again in the evening (extra magic hours). Wednesday was Magic Kingdom, Thursday was Hollywood Studios and we finished on Friday with Animal Kingdom.

Favorite rides: Expedition Everest, Rockin' Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain. Most disappointing ride: Kali River Rapids. Not only was the Popeye ride in Islands of Adventure better, the version at our local Six Flags was superior. The theming was good, but the ride was too short and not exciting enough. Hated the Enchanted Tiki Room -- very retro, very sweet, very dull. Nice place for a nap. Loved the updates to Star Tours (same simulator, new video and special effects) and the Haunted Mansion. Mission space -- I chickened out of the Orange team and rode Green, and the king rode Orange -- told me I made a wise decision. Loved toy Story Mania. Loved watching the pirate king's reaction on the Great Movie Ride, as he realized why we saw certain movie trailers during the pre-show.

I think I prefer Spectromagic to the Main Street Electrical Parade, but I love the current version of Wishes. I'm not crazy about Illuminations, but Fantasmic is always fantastic -- and I like how you can see some of the Illuminatins fireworks from the Fantasmic amphitheater.

A funny thing happened while we were on the Small World ride. (We HAVE to ride IASW, we both saw this ride at the 1964 World's fair). We were sitting in the boat, waiting to dock at the end of the ride, when we saw a squirrel running around on the floor near the water's edge. Poor thing looked terrified! He wound up in the water. yes, squirrels do know how to swim.

The 15 year old girl we saw on line at Peter Pan. She was wearing a skimpy blue and white striped camisole top.She was wearing a very wide white patent leather belt around her waist. the effect was to pulll the neckline down so low that her ample cleavage was very much on display. Unfortunately, in the ack -- her entire bra was visible. and it wasn't a cute little number from Victoria's Secret, it was a heavy-duty Platex 18 hour bra.

We rode Pirates of the Caribbean during a thunderstorm, and the ride went down. Got stuck on the ride for 25 minutes! they actually killed the soundtrack for awhile. Never did see the Jack Sparrow street performer outside the ride -- he was so good when I was there in 2008.

For the most part we traveled around the World in our rental car. (The king was our pilot, and I navigated with the GPS in my Droid.) That's how I managed for find $60 (three $20 bills) in a half-empty parking lot after the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Took the monorail from EPCOT to Magic Kingdom, but wound up on a bus back to EPCOT later that evening because of mechanical troubles on the monorail. We were 30 minutes late for our ADR at San Angel, but we were seated anyhow. In fact, the only time we had to wait for a table in a sit down restaurant was in Sci-Fi Dine In, when we arrived 10 minutes early and were not seated until 20 minutes after our ADR time.

And as for the food: We did the dining plan, but wouldn't do it again . Sometimes I'd rather have an appetizer than dessert, but the plan has no flexibility. Loved San Angel and Restaurant Marrakesh -- though I was so disappointed in Marrakesh when the musicians started their break right after we ordered dinner and didn't start playing again until we finished dessert. Sci-Fi was fun, and Tony's -- well, I've got a soft spot for "Lady and the Tramp". Counter service meals -- Flame Tree was good, but it was better when I ate there in 2008. The burgers at Electric Umbrella were disappointing. Cosmic Ray's is always fun, and we liked the pizza at Pizza Planet. But only in Disney can a bottle of Dasani water be considered a "snack".

Loved our breakfast at Chef Mickey's -- only place in Disney where we actually posed with characters.

We did spend some time at Downtown Disney, the night we arrived in Florida and the day we left. Bongos was OK for dinner, but our lunch at Rainforest Cafe was much better. With the live fish in the tank and the animatronic elephants and gorillas, you can see why they are part of Disney.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This is a drill ... this is only a drill ...

Still, it's a little disconcerting to see the hazmat truck right outside your office as you're leaving for the day ... especially when you work in an environmental claims department!
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Autumn in New York

So, OK, both kids went back to college and the Labor Day BBQ is but a memory.  I woke up yesterday to a cold, wet rainy day...a precursor for autumn. 

Much as I love summer, I think I'm actually looking forward to the cool, crisp days, the falling leaves, etc.  I'm ready for a change of pace.  Different weather, different clothes, different foods. 

The only problem I have with the that winter inevitably follows.

Monday, September 5, 2011


As seen from Hogsmeade
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Playing with a new app

This isn't an oil painting ... it's a photo
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Summer is officially over

Becca went back to school earlier this week and Jen leaves for school this morning.
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