life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, September 30, 2013

And the Ducks....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Post season baseball

So the Mets were out of it by the All Star break and the Yankees held on to slim hope until their elimination last night.

But we are also Ducks fans.  We were there thr night the Ducks became the 2012 Atlantic League champions

The championship series is a bit earlier this year.  It's a best of 5 series, the first two games were here on Long Island last night and tonight, and the series moves to the home of the Somerset Patriots (Bridgewater, NJ) starting tomorrow night.

Drew's friend Joe is a season ticket holder and also works at some of the games.   He received comp tickets for tonight's game and passed them along to Drew.  Great seats, too, right behind home plate.

Weather was more suited to football and we had to bundle up in sweatshirts.

There were some very loud Jersey boys sitting behind us.

The Ducks won last night's game and hoped to do as well tonight.

The first half of the game was dominated by the Patriots.  They took an early 2-0 lead, with their pitcher working on a perfect game for the first 3 innings.  Our Ducks looked like little leaguers, like even the Bad News Bears could beat them.

And then everything changed in the bottom of the sixth.

Our champions were back.  The Patriots were rattled.

And when the dust finally settled, our Ducks won the game 3-2.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

the face of a princess...or rather, a Duchess

room mate issues!

Drew and Marc are friends, they wound up living together in a Felix Unger/Oscar Madison/Odd Couple sort of scenario.  They're listed as the two tenants of the house.

Over the years they've rented out the extra bedroom to a series of room mates.    The current room mate, S, is a man in his 50's, an aging hippie type, a nice enough guy who is hardly ever home.  Not a problem.

Some of his friends, though ...

I have my "home office" at Drew's house.  Works better than in my own lunatic asylum.  I was here alone a few weeks ago when the door bell rang.  It was a woman,  in her 40's or 50's, casually dressed in jeans and a hoodie, with an obviously runny nose.   "Does S still live here?  I'm J.  I was away for awhile but I'm back now.  He does live here?  good.  Let me leave him a note so he can call me."

I was sitting in my office yesterday when J walked into the room.  Same jeans, same hoodie, same runny nose. "I'm a friend of S, I'm J, can I use your phone?"

After she made the call, she asked me if I'd give her a ride home.  I'm working in my office, you don't even know my name, but you're asking me to give you a ride?   Something about her was "not right", for some reason I didn't think she had the money to take the bus,  and I didn't want her in the house all day, so I decided to give her a ride.   20 minutes of my time in the middle of the work day.

When she got into my car, I noticed that she smelled like a distillery.  Clearly an alcoholic.  And the runny nose -- she might be suffering from a cold or allergies, but more likely ...

I was so happy when she got out of my car. 

Later, Marc and Drew filled me in.  J arrived at their house the previous night, drunk and hysterical and looking for S.  She was driving someone else's car, it sounded like the other guy abandoned her and the car, and she and S would up returning the car to the guy -- I don't know who drove, I know S doesn't have a license anymore and I don't think J has a license either.  In the morning she  totally trashed the upstairs bathroom, and Marc had to clean up after her.

And what Marc didn't initially realize...J was here about 5 years ago, when Marc was still being prescribed heavy-duty pain killers for his broken arm.  Apparently she took money and pills from Marc's room.

Drew and Marc and S had a little discussion last night.  J won't be back.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ayhan's again

 Hummus.  Babaganoush.  Tzatziki.  Moussaka. Kebab.  If those words conjure up a slice of heaven, welcome to Ayan's Shish Kebab Restaurant.

Ayhan Hassan came to this country from his native Cyprus a few decades ago, and founded a chain of Long Island restaurants that ...well, Ayhan's Mediterranean Restaurants  offer some of the best Greek and Turkish food on the Island.  My favorite location is the original, in Port Washington, with its charming view of the harbor.  But that's a bit of a hike for us.  The Westbury location is a relatively small restaurant  decorated to resemble a Greek fishing village -- complete with classical statuary.

From the moment I am served that wonderful, soft Turkish bread with the garlicky tzatziki dip, I am in heaven.  Saganaki  was served as a dip with chips -- I just love melted cheese.  I wasn't fond of the Greek salad this time around, too much vinegar in the dressing.

Main course -- the five kebob sampler.  Tender lamb, juicy chicken, filet mignon, gyro meat and a kofte chopped steak kebab (an interesting combo of lamb and beef with Greek spices), served with rice pilaf and peas.  Heaven.

I have never had dessert in any of Ayhan's restaurants, by the time we finish the bread, the appetizer and the salad, there's ahrdly room for the main course.

Yes, I am definitely a fan.  I've been eating Greek and Turkish food since before it became popular -- Drew's mother was a Sephardic Jew whose parents were raised in Greece and Turkey, so this food is part of his ethnic heritage.  And Ayhan's is among the best I've had.

Ayhan's Shish Kebab on Urbanspoon

A blessing for cookies? Of course!

Life is full of unexpected opportunities.

It's Sukkot. That's the Jewish equivalent of Thanksgiving. An 8 day holiday celebrating the harvest.   It's a minor holiday, most people I know learned about the holiday in Hebrew school but don't really observe it.

The holiday is celebrated in a Sukkah, a small hut built to resemble the dwellings in which our ancestors resided while wandering in the desert for 40 years after the Exodus.

You're supposed to build one of these behind your house, decorate it with fruits and gourds and etc., and eat all your meals in the hut for 8 days. I actually did this once, when my kids were little (still have the building materials in the garage somewhere, I think), but for the most part -- it's the kind of thing you do in Hebrew school and then ...

The other tradition of Sukkot is to wave the lulav and etrog.  A lulav is a slender palm branch that is held together with two willow branches and three willow branches.  An etrog is a citron that looks mostly like a misshapen lemon -- very fragrant.   The custom is based on Leviticus 23:40  -- And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

Again, I did this at home once or twice, when my kids were little, but for the most part ...

And then yesterday....

Chabad is a Jewish outreach program sponsored by a Hasidic group, the purpose of which is to encourage Jewish observance among those of us who are secularized.  When I left my office yesterday, a group of Chabad volunteers were outside my building, asking passers-by if they were Jewish. My friend Jen was in the process of shaking the lulav and etrog when Lynn and I came out of the building. They had a Sukkah built on the back of a pick up truck!  I got to shake the lulav and the etrog, and then the three of us went into the Sukkah and had cookies. 

It was a brief encounter.  Yet it stayed with me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Judy Garland, popcorn, buttered noodles and freestyle Coke

So our evening began at the Imax theater, for the re-release of "The Wizard of Oz", this time in 3D.
This movie is an American classic.  I've seen sequels and prequels and parallel story lines, but I always find myself going back to this movie . . .for a film that had so many problems during production, it is remarkably well crafted.  The sepia tones in the Kansas scenes giving way to the startling brilliance of technicolor.  When the farm hands and Professor Marvel make comments that foreshadow who they will be in Oz.  The attention to detail in the Munchkinland sets.  The simplicity and wistfulness of "Over the Rainbow" contrasting with the clever vocabulary of the other songs.
If you've never seen the film in a movie theater you've missed so much detail . . .
And watching this film turns me into a 5 year old.
Afterwards we went to Noodles and Company.  Thought we'd try it now that it officially opened.  Tonight I had the Caesar salad -- just as good as last time.  The buttered noodles, a very simple dish of egg noodles with butter and parmesan, were delicious, but the meatballs I added to the dish were unimpressive. Drew thought the chicken noodle soup was good, but the Japanese noodles were far too spicy for him.
I like the freestyle Coke machine.  Where else could I get a diet cherry Dr. Pepper with my meal?
We will be back. Noodles and Company on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 19, 2013

update on my daughter the college senior

So Becca is settling into her senior year.  He class load this year is light, she's done most of her core courses and courses for her political science major.  She's filling a good deal of her time with an internship, this one PAID.  It's for a publicity company.  Last week she attended a charity event with a ton of celebrities, where she assisted the celebrities in various ways.  She's loving it.

She's not sure what she plans to do once she graduates in May, she thinks she'll look for a job and/or take a Master's in journalism or public relations.  She's still got time to think about things.  Should be interesting to see what direction she goes...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Update on my employed daughter

Last I told you, Jen had lined up a job at a preschool, for less money than she made at the nursery school last year.

How things have turned around!  She got a job as a para professional at an elementary school in our district, working one-on-one with a special needs student.  Pay is better than what she earned last year, and she gets benefits.  Her student is in a 5th grade special ed class, where about half of the students have a para working with them.    The special education coordinator called her for an interview just a few days before school began, and hired her at the interview.  My guess is that before the interview the coordinator spoke to the administrators at the high school, who know Jen in two capacities -- as a former student and as a current cheer leading coach on the district's payroll. 

Speaking of cheer leading -- last year Jen was hired as junior varsity coach.  The varsity coach was a friend of Jen's from when Jen was on the cheer team.  Jen's friend quit just a few days before school started, so right now Jen is coaching both squads.  Ultimately Jen will be the varsity coach and the school will hire someone else for jv.   There's a lot of drama right now with the varsity girls and the former coach, but it will settle down soon.

And she's taking two classes towards her master's.  In fact, she's carpooling to the university -- with my sister!  H is taking a master's in public health administration.

So all the anxiety I had about Jen a few weeks ago...the girl woman seems to have gotten her act together.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

stress relief=Zorn's

Drew's been so stressed lately, dealing with legal and financial issues involving his father and nursing homes.  He was having major meltdown Friday night.  So Saturday night I told him not to worry about going out, that I'd bring dinner to his house.

But what to bring?

I drive past Zorn's every time I come here.  And we hadn't had Zorn's, except on New Year's Eve, since ... well, probably since they closed the East Meadow location.

I ordered the mini chicken and ribs combo, 8 pieces of skinless fried chicken, riblets and two sides.  I chose garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.  Also picked up a package of cornbread.    Excellent meal.  The chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy inside, and not the least bit greasy.  the ribs were in a barbeque sauce I'd call "hearty" but neither overly sweet nor spicy.    The mashed potatoes had just a hint of garlic, and the gravy was packed separately.  I didn't care for the seasoning in the spinach, but Drew seemed to like it.  Corn bread was moist, almost cakelike.  Overall a sastifying take out experience.

Incidentally, the combo was supposed to feed 3-4 people.  For us it was closer to 5 or 6 servings.  We love leftovers, so that was not a problem.

Zorn's Famous Chicken & Ribs on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 16, 2013

the walk home

I live about half a mile from the synagogue.  On the High Holy Days I usually walk to and from services, not out of religious conviction, but because it's impossible to find a parking space anywhere near the building.

I walk alone these days.  My father can't go anymore, Jen and Becca won't go, and my mother and sisters never went.

Given that the Jewish New year, unlike the secular one, is focused on prayer and introspection, my thoughts as I walk home ...

This year I was thinking about my dad.  Not the wheelchair-bound, dementia-confused man who I see now, but the man who used to sit with me at services and critique the cantor's voice and the rabbi's sermon.  Walking home was a bit of a challenge for him, as that half mile from the synagogue to our house is very hilly.  I'd know he was tired if he'd ask me to pull out my cell phone and have someone pick us up.

He stopped coming with me when the over-packed, superheated sanctuary began to feel claustrophobic and overwhelming.

Yizkor, the memorial service for the dearly departed, is always recited on Yom Kippur.  My mother says Yizkor at home, reading the prayers from a booklet I brought home from the synagogue.  My father used to say it at the synagogue until he stopped going, then he'd read the prayers at home.  This year he couldn't read the prayers, and I'm not even sure he understood that he was supposed to recite the prayers...

Eastern European peasant superstition --  you should not attend Yizkor services in the synagogue if both your parents are still alive, it's like wishing harm on them.  But the rabbi says it's not so, that anyone can come to Yizkor and recite memorial prayers for a relative, for a friend, the for the victims of the Holocaust.

So now I stay for Yizkor, and I act as my father's ambassador, reciting the prayers for my grandparents, for my aunts, for the victims of the Shoah and of 9/11...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

IHOP for breakfast

This chain, with its familiar blue roof, has been a staple around here since forever.
The parking lot at this location is very small, and there's always a wait for a table if you come late morning on a Sunday.  And that's usually when we come.  The waiting area can get a bit crowded. . .
The food?  It's an inexpensive chain, you are not going to find gourmet cuisine.  But you will find fairly decent pancakes and breakfast foods.
He ordered a pancake combo -- two pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream, two eggs, bacon and sausage.
I wanted french toast. There were numerous options, including stuffed.  I chose the brioche with strawberries and blueberries.  Next time I"d like to try the bananas foster, it also looked good.  Broche was excellent, berries were sweet.  I think the whipped cream comes out of a can, but that's ok.
Coffee was way too string and bitter.   waiter was a bit inattentive.
Overall not a bad meal for the price.

IHOP on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Twelve years

Certain days, certain events, are etched in our collective memory forever.

I took a picture of the World Trade Center today, the gleaming tower nearing completion, its lovely spire reaching towards the blue September sky.

9/14/01.  I stood on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and looked across the East River at a smoke-filled, eerily silent city.  With tears in my eyes, I found comfort in the words of a prayer, the ancient Hebrew reverberating through my mind.  Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu, v-al kol yisroal v'imru amen.  May the One who makes peace in the high places grant peace to us and to all of humanity, and let us say Amen.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Duchess update

She has settled into Drew's house and made it her own.  Right now I am watching her leap  from the floor to the bed to the desk chair.  She has the energy of three kittens!

Jen was here last night and was totally enchanted.  She took some video on her iPhone and sent it to Becca.  Becca hasn't met Dutchess yet, even though she's the one who chose the name, but has told Drew that she's coming here to steal the cat away from him.

Ahhh, the contented purring. . .  when she's exhausted herself she plops down in the middle of the bed. . .

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My name is Duchess

I was born in a shelter on June 26.  But today Today my life changed in so many wonderful ways.
Today I became someone's "forever" cat.
I have a home, I have a family.  
I have a name.
My name is Duchess.

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