life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Farm country

Spent the night at a Days Inn in Fayetteville.  Dinner at Shoneys last night.  And then back on the road, through the corn fields of North Carolina.

We make jokes as we drive.

We're driving in Ft. Myers and we see a sign for "Bay Shore Road" and we wonder how we got back to Long Island.    Later we see a sign for "Newport" and wonder  how we got to Rhode Island.

In Georgia we saw a sheriff's car on the highway, resulting in a lot of bad "Smokey and the Bandit" jokes.

First time we saw cattle, one of us did a "Twister" imitation, you know, where she say "We got cows."  It becomes a running joke.  

Worst part of the day?  Looking for Biscuitville.  I had heard it was the best fast food breakfast around and had to try it.  Stupid GPS took us to the wrong side of town.  Fortunately the good folks of Rocky Mount were able to set us right.  Seriously, we were inside Biscuitville and the GPS told me I was 8 miles from my destination.

Cigarettes, fireworks and guns have replaced citrus fruit and peaches . . .

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

South of the Border

In the middle of nowhere, on the border of North and South Carolina, rises the temple of kitsch and shlock  known as South of the Border.

You can't drive I-95 and not know about this place.  The ads start popping up along the side of the road about 60 miles before you get there.

Of course we had to stop.  Took a ride up the sombrero tower to see the view.  Shopped for souvenirs.  None of the restaurants looked appealing, so we hit the toad again.

From the ridiculous to the sublime

So we decided to make a stop in South Carolina to see the Tuskegee Airmen Monument.  The airport in Walterboro was a busy military base in WWII.  I didn't realize some of the Tuskegee airmen were stationed there! 

The second monument is a beacon used at the airport during the war.  Pay close attention to what it says on the plaque.

On the road again

So we made it to Jacksonville last night.  Stayed at an Econolodge.  Cracker Barrel and Econolodge, definitely a low budget trip.

Thete's a Chinese take out place in Jacksonville called Ying Chinese Takee Outee.  No I am not making that up!

This morning we got back in the open road.    Before long Florida citrus and pecans gave way to Georgia peaches and boiled peanuts.  Yesterday we saw lots of cattle pastured alonv the highways, today it's nothing but trees.

Life in a truck means we get to play with the big boys, the 18 wheelers.  That means stopping at weigh stations and agricultural inspections.  Oh joy.

Ate at a Waffle House.  Might as well try chains we don't have in New York.

Georgia peaches give way to South Carolina fireworks.

Trucking along

There is no graceful way to get into out out of a ten foot truck.  Somebody get me a ladder!

The truck has manual locks and hand cranks for the windows, features I haven't seen in a car in decades.  No tape deck or CD player in the radio.  At least it has automatic transmission and air conditioning!

It's been beat up on, too.  Makes weird noises when you accelerate in low gear.  And the driver's side door sticks.

Not the most comfortable ride, to say the least.

Monday, July 29, 2013

And we're off

Up at dark thirty, quick ride to La Guardia, clear check in, hike to our gste (Drew joking that we have yo walk all the way to Kennedy). . . And before you know it we are in the air and Florida bound.  Small plane, the E175, no music on this flight, but I have my iPod.  Jimmy Buffett is my traveling companion.

There's a family across the aisle, mom and dad and a baby and a toddler.  The little one had a bad flight -- she cried.  A lot.

Reminds me of when Drew and I took Jen and Becca to Florida to visit his parents in Florida, summer 1993.  Becca was a year old and Jen was a few months shy of 3.    And we brought our dog Molly.  Coming home we had a direct flight from Ft. Myers to NYC.   But going down, we had to change planes.  You should have seen us walking  from one gate to the other, with two kids, a car seat, stroller, baggage . . .and all the while Drew is looking out the window at the baggage cart to make sure Molly tranferred planes too.

Arrived in Florida, grabbed our luggage and took a taxi to the truck rental place.  Our ride/home base for the next few days is a ten foot truck.    Not my favorite.

Headed over to Punta Gorda.  Loaded up the truck and got ready to hit the road.  Stopped at a convenience store at a strip mall for drinks. . . And had a good laugh when we realized that the brand new restaurant thete shares its name with Drew's father.  Of course Drew had to take a picture.

And adios to Punta Gorda . . .and the beginning of a journey of 1100 miles.  North to Tampa, then east.  Stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Lakeland --it's one of Becca's favorite chains.  Given the country atmosphere of the place, I felt it was only fitting to do my best Willie Nelson "On the Road Again".

Saw a beautiful rainbow over the highway as we drove towards Orlando. And we drove past Disney World and didn't stop!  One of the hardest things I've ever done.  ;-)

We're headed towards Daytona now.  Not sure if we will stop there for the night.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Noodles & Company

Noodles and Company on Urbanspoon

 This place hasn't even opened yet -- it will have the grand opening Wednesday -- but I'm already reviewing it. How? Well, did you know that restaurants do "mock" nights before they open, so their staff can practice beforehand?

Drew's been watching them build the place, in the brand new Gallery at Westbury Plaza, convenient to the shopping mecca of Bloomingdale's Outlet, Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth. So we were able to snag an invite to their mock night.

 It's an interesting concept, a menu that is based on noddles and pastas from around the world. Most of the noodle dishes are vegetarian, but you can add a protein for an additional fee. You can also ask them to leave out an ingredient if you prefer.  Soups, salads and sandwiches complete the offerings on the menu.

They have a Coke Freestyle machine -- pick your soda combinations! And there are beer and wine options as well. There's no children's menu, but all of the noodle dishes can be ordered in small portions as well as the regular size.

You order your food at the counter, then find a table. Your food will be brought to you. Drew ordered Steak Stroganoff -- steak and noodles in a sherry cream sauce. I ordered Pad Thai -- a rice noodle stir fry -- and added shrimp.

We shared a Caesar salad. The food was fresh and prepared to order. The stroganoff was rich and creamy, the pad thai spicy but not overpoweringly so. Atmosphere is a bit chaotic.  Service was pleasant and efficient.

It's a casual dining spot, a nice alternative to fast food or the local diner.   I'm sure we will be back once the restaurant opens.  Next time I want to try the macaroni and cheese, or maybe the buttered noodles.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Road trip!

Not really a vacation, but Drew and I are traveling next week.  It's an errand for Drew's father.

Background:  Drew's parents relocated from Long Island to southwest Florida in 1990.  The bought a  house in Cape Coral.  Drew's mother passed away in 1994, but his father continued to live in the house until 5 or 6 years ago, when he sold the house and moved into an assisted living facility,  and then a few years later to a nursing home in Florida.   A few months ago Drew helped his father relocate to a nursing home her on Long Island. 

Everything Drew's father owns was put into storage in Florida.  We think there's some furniture, a few paintings, and some clothes in the storage unit. 

So on Monday we're flying down to Ft. Myers.  We're going to rent a truck, empty out the storage unit, and drive back to New York.

It will be the first time I'm doing the Florida-to-New York drive.   I've taken road trips as far south as Virginia, I've flown to Florida many times, and I've flown to Myrtle Beach a few times, but I've never really driven through Georgia or the Carolinas.

Should be interesting.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Los Mets

Fuimos al estadio Citi Field miércoles por la noche para ver a los Mets juegan los Bravos de Atlanta. Goya Food Company patrocinó una noche de entretenimiento hispano. Había una banda de mariachi y un grupo de bailarines latinos, y una película sobre Roberto Clemente, el primer pelotero hispano en ser inducido al Salón de la Fama. Había incluso un invitado locutor de megafonía, una mujer de Telemundo, quien presentó a cada jugador en español. Lo único que faltaba era Marc Anthony cantando "God Bless America"​​.

Which means:

We went to the Citi Field ballpark Wednesday night to see the Mets play the Atlanta Braves. Goya Food Company sponsored an evening of hispanic entertainment.  There was a mariachi band and a group of Latin dancers, and a film about Roberto Clemente, the first hispanic baseball player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.   There was even a guest public address announcer, a woman from Telemundo, who introduced each player in Spanish.  All that was missing was Marc Anthony singing "God Bless America".

Overall it was a lovely evening.  So much for the bigots of this world.  Too bad the Mets lost. 

Though it wasn't all fun and games that night.  One of the Atlanta players, the pitcher Tim Hudson, suffered a terrible injury.  What should have been a routine play, Hudson covering first base for the out, became a moment I won't soon forget.  An accident, the collision fo two players.  I wasn't quite sure what happened, but it looked like the Mets batter,  Eric Young, either tripped Hudson or stepped on Hudson.  (I've since learned that Young stepped on Hudson's ankle, causing a severe  injury.)  Hudson went down onto the grass and didn't get up again, and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. 

We were sitting along the third base line, four rows back from the dugout, so it was hard to see what was happening with Hudson.  I'm told there were replays on the screen, but we never saw them.  Had to wait until we got home to see the video of the accident.  Funny thing is, we usually sit along the first base line, and would hve seen the accident up cose and personal if we were in our usual spot.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The art of teppanyaki redux

What can I say about Benihana that I haven't already said?

Plenty, actually.

We love Benihana, it's one of our favorites.    Yes, it's a chain, and yes, other places do the whole teppanyaki routine just as well as they do, but it's always fun to go to Benihana.    

Did you know that Benihana offers a program where you can learn to be a teppanyaki chef?

Yes, you can Be The Chef.  The package includes a lesson with a Benihana chef, and the opportunity to cook dinner at Benihana for yourself and three of your friends.

Drew likes to cook, and he loves to watch a teppanyaki chef do his thing.    So of course he had to try this.  He signed up for a lesson in how to be a teppanyaki chef.

On  a recent Wednesday night we ventured out to see the results.  Our meal began with soup and salad, and then it was time for Drew to do his thing.  He cooked the entire meal himself -- under the watchful eye of the chef who taught him.  Shrimp appetizer, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, chicken fried rice, and a steak and shrimp entree.

And, of course, the "tricks".  Catching the shrimp tails in his hat and shirt pocket.  The onion volcano.  Shaping the fried rice into a beating heart.

And of course the food was delicious, as always.

Benihana on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Too Darn Hot!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In light of the current weather

thought this video would be perfect:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Man of Steel

First time this summer that we didn't see a blockbuster the weekend it opened, but we finally got to see "Man of Steel".

I liked the movie, it is an interesting twist on the Superman story.  would have been fun in IMAX 3D, but it's good even without the extra special effects.

What I liked the most was how the young Clark growing up in Smallville, develops his abilities slowly and has to learn how to deal with sensory overload.  And how he has issues fitting in.  And how his "secret identity" isn't so secret...

Friday, July 12, 2013

happy happy joy joy

Becca was offered a paid internship for the fall.  In a public relations firm.  4 college credits and minimum wage, but it's exciting.

She had several other interviews for similar positions, and she's waiting to hear from those companies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I work for a living.  I have obligations as a member of the synagogue board of trustees.  I have a social life.

There, I've said it, I am a terrible person.

Apparently I am "not doing anything" for the family, I am selfish, I am horrible.

My dad is going to be in rehab for most of the summer.  My mom and my sisters are spending hours and hours every day at the nursing facility.  I'm there 2-3 times a week.

Big fight with my sister H yesterday.  I had a work commitment that I could not get out of.  Apparently I "chose" my work commitment  over family because I didn't leave work to pick up my mother at the rehab facility. 

Reason I had to pick up my mother?  H wanted to check out a grad school program and A had a dental appointment.  F went with A to the dentist, leaving my mom all alone in the rehab.

F could have stayed with my mom, A is not a child who needs supervision at the dentist  --  for a cleaning.  The appointment could have been changed.

The grad school thing, though...that's what really bothers me.  H lost her job over 3 years ago and hasn't been able to find another.My mother is paying all her bills, including her hefty rent, because her unemployment ran out awhile ago.  H is still paying off the loans she took out for law school, and she graduated in 1992.  I know that she's thinking a Master's in public administration or hospital administration would make her more marketable.  But at $1,000 a credit, is it feasible for her to go to school right now?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Rascals

Saw them at Jones Beach last night.  They played all their hits and a lot of their early stuff.  Songs I didn't know well.

Drew and I had see Felix and Dino and Gene on tour back in the 80's, and Drew got to meet Dino and Gene back then.

But this was our first opportunity to see Eddie with them.

We has floor seats.

It was a great show.

It's a beautiful morning . . .

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

snippets of life

things recently posted on my facebook page:

Uh oh . . I was walking through the parking lot at the train station when I spotted a Volkswagon with its lights on. Someone is in for a nasty surprise when they get off the train tonight.  (And I am so glad my Toyota has a feature that turns my lights off when I get out of my car.)

So mom and I got home around nine tonight, to find two lonely, hungry kitties sitting right by the front door with that "It's about time you came home" look in their eyes.

Don't teenage girls look at themselves in the mirror before they leave the house? Young lady in the subway. Cropped top and low cut denim Capris. Pants were so tight it looked like she bought them two sizes too small. And the view from the know the old joke about what you see when the plumber bends over? You could see the young lady's even when she was standing up. No, it does not look sexy or cool. It looks like you're wearing your little sister's clothes.

My darling daughters have joined the fashion police. When I got home last night I asked if my package from Crocs had been delivered, and both girls told me they had "thrown it out". But my new Crocs flip flops are really comfy.

Yes that was me doing a face plant in the aisle at Shoprite. My flip flop flipped. I flopped. And found myself flat on the floor. What hurts the most is my dignity.

And the best one:

My "breakfast buddy" is getting bold. Mr. Kitty used to greet me at the foot of the stairs, and I'd feed him before I left for work.

Then he started coming into my room. He'd sit on the bed and watch me get ready for work, then follow me downstairs so that I could feed him.

This morning, however. . .the alarm went off, I hit the "snooze" button, but before I could roll over and go back to sleep, I suddenly found myself pinned to the mattress by 20 pounds of purring feline. I mean, I was nose to nose with my assailant, whose mission was clearly to get me out of bed ASAP and feed him.


Monday, July 1, 2013

witch's curses, ghosts, madwomen, romance and steak

 Ruddigore, or the Witch's Curse.

Typical  Gilbert & Sullivan froth. The plot involves a baronet cursed by a witch, who must commit crimes in order to stay alive, a madwoman whose affections have been trifled with, portraits of the baronet's ancestors that come alive, and a pure and noble heroine who cannot marry the man she loves until a plot twist makes it possible.  Drew's sister is in the ensemble of a community theater production of this musical, so of course we had to head out to see it.    It's not one of G&S's better shows, and being community theater it was very low budget, but there are some very talented people in the cast, so overall it was an enjoyable evening.

Our evening began at J&R's Steakhouse, a local chain. We had eaten here before, the food had been good, so my expectations were high.
My expectations were not met.
Service was a bit slow.  Our waiter apologized for the delay.  But he did keep my soda glass filled.
Air conditioning was . . .uneven.  Our side of the room was very cold, we actually felt a breeze at times.  (Product endorsement:  I love my Chilly Jilly wrap.)  The other side of the room was considerably warmer.
As for the food . . .our meal began with a pasta salad (which had replaced the bread basket).   pasta was a bit mushy  and was drenched in Italian dressing.  There was actually a puddle on my plate.  Salad consisted of  Iceberg lettuce, some shredded carrots and cabbage, a single slice of cucumber and a wedge of less than ripe tomato.
Fried calamari was hot and crisp but slightly on the chewy side.
We ordered a surf and turf special, strip streak and broiled lobster tail.  This was decently prepared.  Drew liked his mac and cheese.   I thought my mashed potatoes were a bit dry.  And the chef should be indicted for hate crimes against vegetables - the green beans and carrots were very overcooked.
We didn't order dessert, but the brownie sundae at the next table looked decadent.
The food here used to be better.  Overall this place reminded me of a Sizzler, and frankly I'd rather go to Boulder Creek just down the road.

 J & R's Steak House on Urbanspoon

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