life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A few last thoughts on Williamsburg

Busch Gardens is a great park, lots of fun, but my heart still belongs to Disneyworld.

Next time I want to walk around the 18th century, I'll go in autumn, not in the middle of a heat wave.

And I will take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel instead of I-95.

The best part of any living history museum is when you get to participate in reenactments and converse with the reenactors -- from the wigmaker in her shop to the woman on trial for witchcraft to the Marquis de Lafayette, the costumed interpreters who got into character were the best.

My two new favorite products - real lifesavers:



Monday, July 30, 2012

Another day, another round of doctors

Dad came home from the local hospital yesterday.  Today he's headed into Manhattan to see a cardiac specialist. 

And around and around we go.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

So sad for a friend

I was on the train Friday night and reading Facebook when I saw Nina's post.

Her mother died Friday.

Drew and I are at an age where we and our contemporaries are dealing with octogenarian parents and all the issues if aging.   Drew had been helping Nina with paperwork issues, Nina's father is in a nursing home and she's trying to get him more benefits.  But her mother had been in relatively good health.

Nina's mother went to the nursing home Friday morning, and was hit by a delivery truck as she made her way through the parking lot.  Apparently the driver didn't see the old lady hunched over her walker.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Steak and Sedaka

Tonight's dinner was at La Casa Latina.  We had eaten here several months ago, thanks to Groupon, and with another Groupon in hand tonight it was time for a second visit.  Our evening started with chilled sangria- sweet and refreshing- and crusty rolls.  We skipped an appetizer. He ordered a platter that contained shell steak, 1/4 roasted chicken (it looked wonderful!),  sausage, rice and beans.  I ordered Carne Asada, a NY strip steak accompanied by rice,  beans and sweet fried plantains.  Mine came with a salad - mostly romaine lettuce with a few tomatoes in a vinaigrette, nothing too exciting. I didn't care for the beans, he ate mine as well as his own.  My steak was perfect, though, and the rice was excellent.   The plantains were very sweet, a nice balance to the rest of the meal.  The dessert menu is very short  but the cheesecake flan - a firm custard served with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce. . .was incredible.  Staff was very attentive.   We will be back. Then it was on to Westbury Music Fair a/k/a NYCB Theater at Westbury.  Question:  what do Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and Neil Sedaka have in common, other than being successful singer/ songwriters? Two answers really. (1) All three are Jewish boys from Brooklyn. (2) We've seen all three in concert.  Manilow at Radio City in May, Diamond at Jones Beach in June and Sedaka tonight (prompting Drew to joke about "The old Jews tour. " Sedaka was amazing.   He sang songs from his first career, 1958-1963.  He sang songs from his second career in the 1970's.  He sang songs he wrote for other singers. He did ballads and rock n roll.  He sang a salsa piece he just wrote.  He did classical music.  And he brought down the house with "My Yiddishe Mama" - in Yiddish. Great concert. La Casa Latina on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How do I get off the merry-go-round?

My dad came back from rehab last week.  Yesterday morning we called the paramedics to bring him back to the local hospital.  Nothing major but serious enough to have him admitted for a few days.

When  my dad came home from rehab  we knew he faced many, many more doctor visits.  In fact he's supposed to go into Manhattan Monday to meet with the team that will do the transcatheter aortic valve replacement -- fancy new procedure that is minimally invasive.  We hope that he can come home from local hospital in time to keep this appointment.


My dad's been sick for a long time, but . . . Well, not like this.  I saw a steady and obvious decline in his health from last summer until May.  And on May 10 he was admitted to the hospital, and the present saga began.

It's like a merry-go-round of doctors and hospitals, one we can't seem to stop.    And I know where this is inevitably leading . . .the only question is when . . .

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wedding!

We went to a wedding yesterday. Both the bride and her mother are employed at the school where Drew teaches, so many of his coworkers were there.

Beautiful venue -- a country club.  The ceremony was held outdoors (the weather was perfect for it, a lovely, not too hot, summer evening).  There's a garden with a small pond, and a platform inthe middle of the pond with a gazebo.  (Later I found out this place has a second location for outdoor ceremonies, a gazebo on the lawn next to a reflecting pool/fountain, which is just as lovely.)    Birds were actually flying around the gazebo during the ceremony.

The color scheme was black and gold.  All the men in the wedding party, even the ring bearer, wore black, with gold ties and gold yarmulkes (Jewish wedding).  The maid of honor ( the bride's sister) wore a strapless gold gown, the bridesmaids were in black with gold sashes, and the flower girl wore white with a gold sash.  The mother of the bride was also in gold, in a gown similar to the one worn by the maid of honor.

For the ceremony the bride wore a strapless white gown with a train and a simple headpiece with a lace-trimmed veil.  For the reception she took off the headpiece and veil and bustled up the train.

In a traditional Jewish wedding, both bride and groom are escorted down the aisle by their parents.  Last night the bride was escorted by her parents, the groom by his father (his mother passed away last year).  The gazebo served as a chuppah, the traditional wedding canopy that symbolizes the home where the couple will live together.

The Rabbi did not speak into his microphone, so it was hard to hear most of the ceremony . . .but I've been to a few of these before (including one about 25 years ago, where I was the one wearing the veil).  Two cups of wine shared by bride and groom, 7 blessings recited by the Rabbi.  A mini sermon about a wedding from the Bible. Reading of the Ketubah, the marriage contract.  The groom places a ring on the bride's finger and says "Behold, you are consecrated unto me as my wife according to the laws of Moses and Israel".  The bride, as has become more recent custom, puts the ring on the groom's finger and says "I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me."  The groom breaks the glass amid shouts of "mazel tov!"

Then it was on to the reception.  Cocktail hour followed by dinner and dancing.  Jewish receptions always start with the hora, though the dance floor is usually too crowded to really dance.  The bride and groom seated on chairs that are hoisted into the air.  Later the meal begins with the motzi, the blessing over the bread.

Then, like every other wedding, there are toasts, the father-daughter dance, cutting the wedding cake, throwing the bouquet.

I went to this wedding with the man I married 25 years ago.  Yet we aren't celebrating our 25th anniversary.  Weird, right?  Can't begin to sort out, let alone describe, the churning mixture of emotions.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Misery

Day started off well enough.  We packed up the car and said goodbye to our cozy little house.  Dropped off the keys and did some last minute shopping at the visitor's center gift shop.  Then pointed the car towards Richmond.

Around noon we stopped briefly to get lunch at Hardee's.  I had never eaten at this fast food chain, they stopped doing business on Long Island years and years ago.  Drew was feeling nostalgic, though, so we stopped, and ordered burgers and fries to go.  The food was very good, much better than McDonald's or Burger King.

The misery started just about when we got onto I-95 in Richmond.  Traffic and rain.  The rain, at least, was light and sporadic.  Traffic got increasingly worse; by the time we hit the Beltway we were crawling.  No relief until we left the Beltway in Maryland and resumed our trip north.  And relief was short-lived.  3:30 on a summer Friday = tons of traffic. We reached the point where there was nothing on the radio, silly games no longer held our interest and there was noyhing to talk about, so we just trudged on . . . And on . . . And on . . .

Around 4:30, just south of Baltimore, we saw a Suburban flipped onto its side. Traffic opened up after that . . .

Saw Enchantment of the Seas in the Port of Baltimore and started daydreaming about our cruise next February . . .

Then the traffic . . .back to the grind . . .

Traffic eased up once we cleared Baltimore.

Stopped at Maryland House.  Drew grabbed dinner and I . . . Two Lorna Doones and a sip of water.    I suddenly was not feeling well.  Slept from Maryland to Long Island, then got into bed and slept until morning.  Feeling better now . . .

Drew tells me he wasn't doing too well either, that he was having problems with his contact lenses . . .

Anyhow we are home.  Had a great vacation, despite yesterday's misery.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our last night in the 18th century

Our evening began in Christiana Campbell's Tavern. I had eaten here years ago and loved it. And I still love it. Just like in the King's Arms the other night, the room was lit by candle power only. Our waitress encouraged us to tie the over sized napkins around our necks to protect our "finery". We toasted each other with King's Arms ginger ale -- that stuff is amazing. I ordered Mr. Jefferson's pea salet -- a salad of peas and granny smith apples in a mayonnaise- based dressing. Drew ordered the seafood stew appetizer. Both were excellent. Our bread basket contained dinner rolls and these incredible sweet potato muffins. The cabbage slaw was a bit bland. We both chose the seafood fricassee entree, delicious shrimp, scallops and lobster served over pasta, accompanied by spoon bread. Yes, spoon bread. Too full to order dessert, of course. But you don't go to Campbell's solely for the food. Mrs. Campbell, upon hearing we were from New York, told us we were welcome to stay in Williamsburg until the British left our city. Then she led the room in a toast to General Washington. She was followed by a musician who sang ballads and played the flute and guitar. Later we walked over to Shields Tavern for the Ghost Walk. This is one of the few programs that doesn't involve costumed interpreters. We walked to several sites in the historic area, where our group leader told us about the ghosts that were allegedly seen there. And now we are safely back in our snug little house. On the morrow we return to New York. Christiana Campbell's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Yorktown

So our day began on the Colonial Parkway, this time headed for Yorktown. Our first stop was the Yorktown Battlefield, run by the National Parks Service. This is the site where Washington won a decisive battle over the British, resulting in a ceasefire which ultimately led to American independence. We saw a brief film then took a tour given by a park ranger, who gave excellent descriptions of the military strategy involved. There's an extended tour you can take in your car. We bought the CD but opted not to do the tour. Instead we drove past the Yorktown Victory Monument, then headed over to the Yorktown Victory Center. This is a museum complex run by the same people who run the Jamestown Settlement. There's a farm (circa 1780) at the front of the complex (saw a turkey rolling in the dust to try to stay cool) and a military encampment at the rear, where a costumed interpreter showed us 18th century surgical implements. There's also a small gallery showing the American Revolution from the perspective of ordinary people. By now we were famished, so we took the trolley into Yorktown. Our destination was Beach Delly, a very casual dining spot on Water Street across from a beach (duh!) with a great view of the York River. The place features sandwiches, burgers and pizza. My bacon cheeseburger was served with lettuce, tomato and a pickle slice. Ketchup and mustard were on the table and there was a packet of mayo on the plate. Loved my burger. The accompanying potato salad was meh -- more mayo than potato and very little flavor. Drew ordered the "Lee", a roast beef hero with cheese and horseradish sauce - excellent sandwich. The french fries were hot and crisp. Service was friendly and efficient. I know this is a casual beach place, and I know this is Virginia in July, but still . . .they need to do something about the flies - after we finished eating, as I was getting money together to pay the bill, the flies started to bother me - it's not fun to be swatting at flies while calculating your waitress' tip. By now the heat was starting to get to us, so we called it a day and headed back to Williamsburg. Beach Delly on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Busch Gardens deja vu

So here we are again, this time for entertainment.   They've got something here called Illuminights, special evening shows culminating in fireworks.   That's in addition to the shows that run all day.

First up was a acrobatic performance it Italy called Giardino Magico.  Two ladies doing all sorts of gymnastic moves.  At 6 minutes, it was good but too short.

Next was Mix It Up, live music and dance by the cooks and waiters of Italy.  We got spaghetti dinners and sat down to watch the show.  It started to rain lightly towards the end of the show and I think one of the dance numbers was cut, buy it was good.

When the show was over, so was the rain.  Next we hurried to France for Voila, can can dancers and a juggler.  Nice.

We decided the German and Irish shows were too juvenile so we opted to ride the log flume, and Drew took another ride on Griffon.  Then we decided to do some shopping.  Then I  got ice cream, Drew got a smoothie,  and we watched the park shut down for a storm that never really came.  When I say " the park shut down ", I mean the outdoor venues -- the shops, restaurants, indoor attractions and carnival games go on.  There was some distant lightning but nothing else.

None of the cast members (yeah, that's what they're called) could tell us if the fireworks would go on as scheduled.   So we decided to go to our viewing spot at hope for the best.  We'd been told that the bridge between Italy and Germany was a prime viewing spot.

It was.

Not only do you get a clear view of the pyrotechnics in the sky, you can also see the fireworks reflected in the water below.

I liked this park.  It was pretty, nicely themed, clean and generally well run.  Of course we didn't see the park at capacity.

A few things I would change.  Most rides didn't have wait times posted ( though lines were generally short and we never felt the need to purchase priority boarding), there was no central location in the park to see what rides were closed or would open late.  There weren't enough "you are here" maps posted. And some of the older rides in the park were not designed to accommodate a larger person, when similar rides in other parks could easily do so.

But overall a fun experience.

Jamestown part 2 - Historic Jamestowne

This site is a national park, owned and operated by the federal government.  I guess that accounts for the number of times we were told "There's a heat advisory, stay cool and hydrated."

This is the site of the original Jamestown.  Part working  archeological site, part monument.  The park ranger gave his talk in a cool, comfortable auditorium.  He told us all about recent archeological findings.  Showed us a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow then told us about the real pirates and privateers who sailed these waters.  Jamestown was part profit center for the Virginia Company and part military installation against Spanish interests in the New World.

Outside, we looked at the obelisk erected in honor of the Jamestown settlers and the statue of Pocahontas.  By now I've got "Colors of the Wind" playing in my head.  Inside the church there are plaques dedicated to Pocahontas and to John Smith, and there's a statue of John Smith on the waterfront.  You can also see the archeologists working next to the church.  Further up the path is the archeological museum.

Bought myself a great sweatshirt in the gift shop.  It says "Jamestown 1607, when surviving wasn't a game."

By the time we got back to the car we felt fried.  And no wonder!  The dash board thermometer read 103*.

We stopped briefly at the glassblower's house.  Much cooler there, under the trees, with a breeze coming in off the water.  We briefly watched a glassblowing demonstration before heading for the gift shop.  I bought a green glass paperweight.  It reads "Jamestown 1607-2012".  I have similar paperweights from 1996 and 1974.

It was 3:30 when we decided to head back to Williamsburg.

Jamestown

Back in time to the early 17th century.  To Jamestown,  founded in 1607.  That's just a few years after Elizabeth I died and left the throne to her cousin James of Scotland.

First stop was Jamestown Settlement.   This is the place to find the recreated Powhatan village, the replicas of the Susan Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed, and Jamestown fort.  Indoors you'll find a small movie theater and a gallery.    Today I learned a blacksmith didn't make anything.  You'd buy a chain from a chain smith, your thimbles from a thimble maker, etc.  And you'd bring the chain, or thimble, or whatever, to the blacksmith to be repaired.

Believe it or not, there's a Disney animation cell in the gallery. It's there along with portraits of the real Pocahontas.  The point was that Pocahontas was a real person but has become a character of myth and legend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Steak dinner

Yorkshire Steak & Seafood on Urbanspoon So, feeling completely wiped out at Busch by 6:30, we returned to our lovely colonial house to freshen up, then ventured out for dinner. We'd seen a few likely places earlier in the day, and wound up at Yorkshire. It was late by the time we arrived, with very few other diners in the room. Our waitress was very attentive. We ordered the stuffed mushroom appetizer -- mushrooms stuffed with very fresh and tasty crabmeat, then covered with cheese. Excellent. Our New York strip steaks were tender and flavorful and cooked to perfection. The steaks are plated with baked potato or french fries, onion rings, and a medley of sauteed summer squash, zucchini and onions. A very nice dinner.

BUSCH GARDENS!

You didn't really think we'd spend the whole vacation in the 18th century?


The history geeks took a break today as we headed to Busch.  I won't do large roller coasters, I let Drew do those by himself.



Loved Escape From Pompeii, a log flume ride that takes you through that Roman town after the volcano has blown.  Got drenched on Roman Rapids (every amusement park has a ride like this.   Embarrassed that I couldn't board their version of the pirate shio called the Battering Ram (inspiration to start a diet) but loved DaVinci's Cradle, which is similar.  Loved Darkastle, which I called "Disney's Haunted Mansion on steroids" (the technology is more like Universal's Spiderman.)


Lunch in "Germany"  - huge hot dogs wrapped in pretzels.



Bad moment of the day - Drew went to get our stuff out of a locker while I went to the restroom.  And got lost.  And he had my cell phone.  He found me just as I was starting to panic.

No, wait.  . .second disaster of the day was the mustard that spilled all over Drew's backpack.  Not fun.



Drew loved Verbolten and Alpengeist.  Mach Machine and the log flume were closed.  The bumper cars - put them on the "not worth it" list.  Then it was the train from New France to Scotland so Drew could ride The Loch Ness Monster.



Next up - Europe in the Air.  Reminded me of Soarin' at EPCOT - Imax film and moving seats.  A tour of the countries represented at the park.

We wanted to take the Skyride but it was closed.   Walked to England for the 4D pirate movie - slapstick comedy in the "Home Alone" style with 3D images and other special effects.

I stayed in England to shop while Drew walked back to France to ride Griffon.

Got him a t shirt that says "I conquered" and lists all the roller coasters in the park.

I'm thinking we're going to call it a day when he gets back.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Feeling hot hot HOT

Have I mentioned the weather conditions here in Virginia?  Hot and humid.  But thankfully much cooler in the shade than in the sun. Lodge Restaurant on Urbanspoon Once again we had breakfast at the Lodge. We liked the breakfast buffet so much yesterday that we opted for it again today. Yesterday thete were fluffy little pancakes. Today there was french toast. Crisp bacon, beautifully browned breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit, customized omelets, delicious muffins and croissant. I saw grits and oatmeal, but I'm not really a fan of either - Drew had the grits yesterday and loved them. The fried potatoes were ok but would have been better without their skins. Then it was back to the historic area. We saw most of tge buildings and exhibits yesterday. Today we saw the Peyton Randolph House, the cooper, the brickmaker and the military encampment, where Drew went through firearms training. Toured one of the taverns. We also stopped by the St. George Tucker House. Drew donated to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which makes him a member entitled to benefits. We got a tour of the house and a delightful chat with the Marquis de LaFayette. We also saw several reenactments, including Benedict Arnold in British uniform telling the Virginians to end their revolution, and George Washington addressing the city just before marching to Yorktown. Our evening began at the Capitol, for a one-hour presentation called "Cry Witch". In colonial times the county court could try misdemeanors but only the high court in Williamsburg could try felonies, inckyding witchcraft. It waa interesting to see court proceedings. Our group voted for conviction. Then it was on to Chownings for the Gambols. This starts at 9 PM, after the restaurant stops serving its regular dinner menu. Light fare -- appetizers and desserts -- are offered. We ordered the appetizer sampler, which was actually enough food for two of us for dinner - small portions of bbq ribs, pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw and very very spicy wings. We enjoyed the big basket of peanuts while we waited for the food. Drew liked his white wine -- very sweet. I was disappointed that there was no King's Arms ginger ale, and stuck with diet coke instead. Enjoyed the musical performances and the board games. Josiah Chowning's Tavern on Urbanspoon Tomorrow it's on to Busch Gardens.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Williamsburg Day 2

So I slept like a princess in a canopied bed. 
We walked out of our room, down the stairs and out the front door.  Our next door neighbors are a flock of sheep!  One of them baa'd at me in a very rude manner.
Breakfast at the Williamsburg Lodge.  You can order from the menu or enjoy the buffet.  We opted for the buffet, which included pancakes, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, an omelet station, grits and breakfast pastries.  We plan to go back.
Then we took the shuttle bus to the Visitor's Center.  We simply had to see the 1957 film, "Story of a Patriot", starring Jack Lord (long before he uttered the phrase"Book 'em, Danno").  I saw it in 1974 when I was here, but didn't remember it.  Beautifully put together but actually a bit boring, even for us history geeks.
Right behind the Visitor's Center is a plantation.  I learned today that "plantation" meant any farm where the cash crop was tobacco, corn or wheat.  Plantain owners were middle class, not just wealthy.
Next was the Governors Palace.  This was how the wealthy lived.  The tour is set on the day the Royal Governor has fled the city in the face of revolution.  The gardens are lovely.
We started walking down Duke of Gloucester Street.  Toured several restored homes, the Bruton Parish Church, the armory and the courthouse.
I should make mention.  . .today is the last day of the Governors Conference.  Governors from 23 states and their staff have been meeting here in Williamsburg.  Crazy busy and lots of security - especially by the Williamsburg Inn and the Lodge.
Should also mention we are staying in the Chiswell-Bucktrout House,  named for two prominent citizens.   Colonel Chiswell served in the House of Burgesses and co-owned Raleigh Tavern.   Margaret Thatcher stayed in one of the guest rooms in this house in 1983.
We continued our tour of shops and buildings along Duke of Gloucester St.  Eventually we wound up in the wigmaker's shop - she was totally in character.  Then on to the coffeehouse for fine conversation and a taste of chocolate.   In the 18th century chocolate was bitter and dark and, when served as a coffeehouse beverage, spiced.
Final tour of the day - the Capitol.  Both the legislature and the high court were housed here.  You really stood trial back then - there were no chairs for the accused.
Back to the room to freshen up, the back across the street to the King's Arms Tavern for dinner, where we were entertained by character actors and balladeers while we ate.  A most excellent meal, thanks, in part, to George's suggestions.  We shared an order of peanut soup.  Drew had the game pie and I had pork chops.  My chops were nicely broiled and served with mashed potatoes, braised red cabbage and a mixture of fresh vegetables.  We also had a relish tray -- yummy sweet corn relish, Virginia ham with pineapple and pickled watermelon rind (too much vinegar).  Their house ginger ale is amazing!  And Drew is blitzed from the rum drink he tried.
Trying to decide now whether to go see the Gambols at Chowning Tavern later or just call it a nighy.
King's Arms Tavern on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Williamsburg Day One, the long ride down

7/14/2012 10:04 PM. Theme song "Vacation" .
The plan was to leave between 7:00 and 7:30 this morning.  We actually left at 7:50, not too bad.  By 9 we were on the New Jersey Turnpike and I'm hearing Paul Simon in my head ("Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they've all gone to look for America")  we stopped at a rest stop for coffee and breakfast sandwiches.  . .bacon egg and cheese on a croissant.   Very fresh, we watched the guy cook the eggs.
The weather was strange.  It would be overcast for awhile,  the we'd get a light rain, then the sun would come out, then the whole thing would repeat itself.  Every time it started to rain I would sing "It's raining again."  Drew got so tired of that song.  . . So I came up with a whole bunch of songs about rain.
We made a stop at Maryland House on I-95 and I had a flashback to 1974.  My first trip to Williamsburg.   Back then there was de facto segregation at the rest stop, the upstairs restrooms for whites were in great shape, the downstairs in deplorable condition.
We got to Baltimore and it was Drew's turn to sing.  . ."Good Morning Baltimore" from Hairspray - we are Broadway geeks as well as history geeks.
So finally we cross into Virginia.   And Drew is singing from Shenandoah -- "This farm don't belong to Virginia, my son bleed but not for the South. . ."  And I'm singing from 1776 - "My name is Richard Henry Lee,  Virginia is my home.  . ."
We did hit a lot of traffic heading towards Richmond (Virgil Caine is my name . . .I took the train to Richmond it fell.  It was a time i remember of so well.  . .)
I must tell you that I am in love with our accomodations.   The Williamsburg Inn has a program that allows you to stay in an authentic colonial house.  We had to pick up our keys at the inn.  Our house is right behind Shield's Tavern,  just steps away from the historic area.  The room looks like a museum! We checked in, unpacked and then walked over to the Lumber House to pick up our tickets.
Next we went to Merchant's Square. It was dinner time and we were starving but short on time, so we went to The Cheese Shop and picked up sandwiches.  Drew loved his roast beef but I thought my Virginia ham was too salty.
Then it was time for our tour - Pirates Among Us.  The famed pirate Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, was killed by the British Navy in 1718, and 14 members of his crew were brought to Williamsburg, tried and convicted.  The one hour tour takes you to historic buildings where actors perform monologues telling the pirate story.  Very nice.
Then it was back to the room.  . . And fireworks in the historic area visible from our window!

Cheese Shop on Urbanspoon

Mini trip report photos

In no particular order, the Statue of Liberty,  Ellis Island, the lower Manhattan skyline and the Jersey City skyline,  followed by Times Square.














Mini trip report - playing tourist in your own city

Our office is doing what's called a "restack", which means they're consolodating and condensing work space.  My cubicle was relocated from the south side of the floor to the north side.  Of course when you do something like that, you send your employees home so that the movers can do their job. Normally if the office closes at lunchtime I just head home.   But yesterday . . .well, Drew and I had theater tickets last night. So I found myself with a few hours to kill in NYC.   First stop was Zuccotti Park.  Now that the Occupy Wall Street crowd has gone home, the park has reverted to a nice place for office workers and tourists to have lunch.  Lots of food carts along the sidewalk, and across the street in front of 140 Broadway.  Mostly hot dogs and gyros ( you can get a kosher hot dog if you like, and lot of the carts indicate their food is halal - welcome to diversity).  I wound up with chicken and rice -- grilled chicken and yellow rice with tahini sauce, served with tossed salad and chick peas.   I am not sure what seasonings are used but the food is very flavorful, and you really don't need the optional hot sauce. Next I walked down Broadway past Trinity Church and the Wall Street bull - they've got the sculpture behind a fence these days. My destination was the Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry.   Immortalized in an "I Love Lucy" episode and a Madonna video, the keeper of secrets in a Billy Joel lyric.  Not just a mode of transportation but a tourist destination.   After all, where else can you get a free cruise of New York Harbor?    25 minutes to Staten Island, 25 minutes back.   The closest you can get to the Statue of Liberty without buying a ticket.  You'd be amazed at the number of people who get off the boat in Staten Island and walk through the terminal just to get back on the boat to Manhattan.   After my cruise I hopped on the subway and headed to Times Square.   Browsed through a couple of souvenir shops but bought nothing except a bottle of water.   Found a seat in the pedestrian plaza outside the Marriott Marquis and did some people watching. You will see lots of costumed characters in Times Square. Be forewarned, they charge a fee to pose for pictures.   I saw the Statue of Liberty, a Smurf, and Captain America, to name a few.   The Naked Cowboy walked by, and so did his competition, the Naked Indian. Spent a few minutes in front of the Forever 21 store. They have a camera pointed at the crowd and they project the crowd's image onto a huge screen over the store. Nice little gimmick. Then it was time to meet up with Drew for dinner at Bubba Gump. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company on Urbanspoon I've written about this place before, we've been here a few times. Once again we had a window seat and could look out to the crowd in front of Toys R Us. I had the cherry lemonade -- sweet but not cloying. Comes in a light-up souvenir glass. I ordered my favorite, the shrimp lover's feast. I think they were having an off night, though, because my peel and eat shrimp were kind of blah. Fried shrimp and tempura shrimp were good, but the coconut shrimp was a little too sweet. We were too full for dessert. Our destination was the West Side Theater, a small Off Broadway venue at Broadway and 9th Avenue. Nice little show called "Old Jews Telling Jokes". 90 minutes of Borscht Belt humor, a little bawdy at times but very funny. Another fun night in NYC. Photos to follow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Walking

How fast (or slow) are you?
I'm somewhere in the middle, neither the tortoise nor the hare.If I'm in the city I have no patience for people who are oh-so-casually strolling along in front of me. It's called a sideWALK, not a sideCRAWL.  If you're not going to walk, move to the side and let me through!
Stairs, on the other hand, are the bane of my existence.  Climbing stairs leaves me exhausted and gasping for breath. When I was pregnant with Becca (20 years ago!) we lived in Briarwood, Queens, just a block or so from the Van Wyck Blvd. Station.  If I remember correctly there are about 5 flights of stairs between the street and the train platform.  I never had a problem going down. . .coming up was another matter.  Got to the point where I'd get off the train at Union Turnpike and walk a mile along Queens Blvd to avoid those stairs!

Drew, on the other hand, walks very quickly.  I often have to ask him to slow it down.

And his sister - who joined us last night for theater and dinner - despite back and leg problems, despite walking with a cane, she can easily match Drew's pace.
So last night . . .The theater is on 42nd, west of 9th Ave.  To get to Chinatown you have to take the subway, the N or R train.The station is at Broadway and 42nd St., just less than half a mile from the theater. You can walk on the sidewalk, or you can enter the subway at the 8th Ave. Station, use the connecting tunnel and cover the two blocks underground.  You won't have to contend with street traffic.. . But on a hot, sticky summer night you don't want to be underground.  Plus, there is a huge stairway that connects the tunnel to the N train station and, yes, we had to climb up.

So we get to Canal and Broadway, about half a mile from the restaurant on Mott Street (I love Google maps!).  And we climb out of the subway and start walking.

And Drew walks fast.  And his sister walks fast.  And I struggle to keep up.  And the walk starts to feel like a death march. And I'm hearing the theme from Bridge on the River Kwai in my head.  . .

No wonder I am achy today.  . .

British accents and Chinese food

So last night we saw Potted Potter at the Little Shubert Theater. This short show (only 70 minutes) started as street entertainment for the crowds outside bookstores waiting for the release of every Harry Potter novel. It's a kid-friendly parody, lots of wacky humor with a British accent.. The two performers interact with the audience. Loved it.
Thought about grabbing a bite in the theater district but wound up heading downtown to Chinatown, for an old favorite, Wo Hop. This place is a taste of old New York, a crowded, no-frills basement restaurant, open 24/7. At peak dining hours the line extends up the stairs and spills out onto Mott Street. Everything, including rice and crispy fried noodles, must be ordered from the menu.

The Cantonese dishes tend to be better than Szechuan. The cold sesame noodles had too much soy sauce and not enough sesame oil, and the sauce was much thinner than elsewhere. Honestly, not a dish I will order again. In most restaurants the fried dumplings are sauted in a wok, but here they come deep fried to a golden brown -- very good but very heavy. Drew always orders the 4D lo mein -- the lo mein noodles are buried beneath sliced pork, chicken, beef and shrimp. I ordered the sweet and pungent chicken -- instead of the bright orangy-red sauce you'd expect, this dish comes with a luscious yellow sauce to which (get this) sweet mix pickles have been added. There were pickle chips, cauliflower and even pearl onions in the sauce.

There's no dessert except fortune cookies, but you can always get some ice cream at the Haagen Dasz up the street.

Overall a pleasant night, but I am really dragging today . . .
Wo Hop (Basement Level) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

$93.78

That's what I had in loose change.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Been saving my pennies

And my nickels, dimes and quarters.

Taking the lot to the coin counting machine at the bank.  Want to guess how much I've got?


It was twenty years ago today

No, I am not about to sing about Sgt. Pepper.

I am about to wish Becca a happy 20th birthday.

I can no longer claim to be the mother of a teenage daughter.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My spidey sense is tingling

Saw the new Spiderman movie tonight. It's a reboot, they go back to the beginning - Peter Parker in high school, getting bitten, learning his new superpowers. Not as good as the Toby McGuire version, but definitely a fun movie. Highlights are Martin Sheen and Sally Field as the aunt and uncle. Dr. Connor's tower looked exactly like Tony Stark's tower in "The Avengers" (different facade but the same shape). Stan Lee was wonderful in his cameo role as a teacher. The man must really be enjoying himself this summer, his characters are destroying NYC in two hot movies. There's a bonus scene midway through the credits. Don't leave until you see it. Afterwards we wound up at Denny's. Food here is cheap and plentiful. Tonight I had the meatball sub, which was flavorful and filling. I like the waffle cut fries. They were not hot this time but still ok. Got the Denny's app and with it a coupon for a free soft drink. Not bad. The rest of our party ordered breakfast foods -- breakfast is available 24/7. And yes, they do have sugar free pancake syrup, but you have to ask for it. As always, part of our order was left in the kitchen and the waitress had to go back for it. But she was quick to check on us and refill our drinks. Overall an ok experience. We come here often and we will be back. Denny's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 5, 2012

All my best friends are named "doctor "

Sitting here in a freezing examining room.

What brought me here is fairly routine.

But I have a lot of "fairly routine" stuff these days. 

I am becoming high maintenance.   And I don't like it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July

It's 8 AM and it's raining.

Hope it clears up by this afternoon.  We have a barbeque planned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Citi Field

Cit Field That's my post from April 2010, our first baseball game at Citi Field, when I had the time to take photos and my camera phone really worked.

Monday, July 2, 2012

minyan

I'm sure I've posted this before. Jews are commanded to pray three times a day. They can recite most prayers as individuals, but some prayers may only be said while part of a group called a minyan -- 10 adults (the Orthodox say 10 men, but we Conservatives count women).  Our synagogue is fortunate enough to be able to hold two prayer services every day, a morning service and a combined afternoon/evening service. We never seem to have a problem making a quorum of 10 in the morning, but at night... Periodically the Rabbi or the Cantor will call me to ask me to come to the service, to be the 10th needed to form a minyan.

It happened again last night.  I'd come home from the unveiling, and was just hanging around the house when the Cantor called.  Of course I went.

The Amidah is a lengthy prayer that is recited at every service. In our prayerbook the Amidah runs about  4-5 pages.  Since our service encompasses both afternoon and evening prayers, we recite the Amidah twice.  Tonight my eye focused on one short paragraph --  the paragraph that asks G-d to send healing to one who is ill.

I have not posted much about my father's illness.  He's still in rehab, has not been living at home since May 10.  Lately he's been coming home to visit, though he still goes back to the rehab facility to sleep.  He's doing much better, and will come home for good in a short time.    But he has not been "cured"; the conditions that sent him to the hospital in May are under control but not gone.  And it hurts to see him weak and debilitated.

Dear G-d, keep him healthy, keep him safe.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Unveiling

I believe this is a uniquely Jewish ritual.  Several months after the funeral, family and friends gather at the cemetery to unveil the newly-erected gravestone.  Prayers are recited and the deceased is memorialized.  It is a somber occasion. 

My friend Bonnie's father passed away last September. Drew and I were unable to attend the funeral, so when Bonnie asked us to attend the unveiling we had to say yes.

Bonnie and her nephew are the only members of her immediate family who still live in New York, and Josh wasn't able to come because of his work schedule. Her mother lives in Florida, her sister and brother-in-law in Atlanta, her brother in California. They, as well as her aunt and cousin from New Jersey, were the only family members. The rest of our small party was made up of Bonnie's closest friends.
Very hot day today, but there was a cool breeze blowing at the cemetery. The Rabbi was a baby boomer, gray haired but wearing a pony tail. He didn't actually recite The Dash but he alluded to it.

Bonnie's father was in his 90's, had been married to Bonnie's mother for over 60 years, when he died. He was a WWII vet and POW, a husband, father and grandfather. He had a long, full life.


Afterwards we wound up having lunch in a diner. It was a pleasant afternoon.
But ....


You know how when you're young and single and you go to a friend's wedding, how you wonder if your turn is next?




It's the same on the other end of the spectrum, too.

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