life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, February 28, 2014


This winter has been a record-breaker.  Below normal temperatures for extended periods, heavy-duty snowfalls.  A vocabulary that now includes the term "polar vortex."

A friend of mine said last night "I am tired of living in a snow globe."

Is it really only 3 weeks until spring?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The psychology of pain

This morning I pulled a muscle in my back. I don't have cute story - I didn't run a marathon, or wrestle with an alligator or save a puppy from a burning building. I wasn't even shoveling snow at the time. I was getting dressed, turned the wrong way, and saw stars.

My first instinct was to crawl back into bed and stay there until . . .well, I wasn't sure when. But I'm not wasting a prescious PTO day on something as stupid as a pulled muscle.

My two best friends today are "Aleve" and "Icy Hot".

By the time I got to work this morning, I felt almost human.

Now here is the thing that intrigues me.

I've given birth to two children, I had major surgery and serious illnesses, hospitalizations where morphine was my best friend. A pulled muscle is nothing compared to that stuff.

But at the moment I injured myself, it felt catastrophic . You know, like the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. Like, "I can't believe I'm actually crying about a stupid pulled muscle".

I don't get it.  

Scott Shannon -- an interesting turn

So a few weeks ago Scott Shannon announced that her was 'retiring" from WPLJ, that "Scott & Todd in the Morning" was about to become "The Todd Show". Scott said he wasn't retiring from radio altogether, that he would still do his weekly syndicated show and his announcing gigs on WOR.

After he left, rumors began to circulate that he didn't choose to go, that he was forced out.

So "The Todd Show" debuted yesterday. I think Todd Pettengill is a comic genius, but he no longer has a partner, just underlings, and without Scott the show just isn't as good.

And today's news? Scott will be doing morning drive time on WCBS-FM starting next week.

That's right, in direct competition with Todd.

Should be interesting.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Duchess surveys her realm

Here favorite perch is on the steps, where she can watch the goings-on in the living room.

Chinese takeout again

More Chinese takeout.  This time from Peking House.  Yes, we are fortunate to have many opportunities for decent Chinese food .

My combo plate included sesame chicken, fried rice and an egg roll.  We also included steamed dumplings with our order. Drew ordered wonton egg drop soup and Lo mein.

Food was delivered promptly and was still hot.  Everything was flavorful.    Good meal for the price.

I think I prefer last week's take out, the menu was more extensive, the combo plates more interesting. But I'd order from this restaurant again.

Peking House Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Of blood moons and solar eclipses

And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Apparently 2014 and 2015 will be a very interesting year for celestial happenings.

Eclipses, both solar and lunar, which occur on significant days in the Jewish calendar.  The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, with holidays linked to the full moon or the new moon, but nevertheless...

There is a Christian minister who thinks this has Biblical significance.  He points out that:

April 15,2014. The first day of Passover.  The Exodus from Egypt, the pivotal moment in Jewish history.  We shall celebrate the holiday under a blood moon, that is, a partial lunar eclipse.

October 8, 2014, the first day of Sukkot. A holiday that commemorates the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert after the Exodus.   And another blood moon.

March 20, 2015.  The first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan.  In Biblical times, the new year was celebrated in the spring, on the first day of Nissan.  There will be a solar eclipse.

April 4, 2015, Passover again, and another blood moon.

September 13, 2015.  Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, the beginning of a ten day period of self reflection that ends on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Jewish tradition holds that the Almighty passes judgment on the world in those ten days.  On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed.  We will have a solar eclipse.

September 28, 2015.  Sukkot again.  And another blood moon.

The four  blood moon phenomenon has appeared several times during key years in Jewish history.  Most notably in 1493-1494 (right after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain), 1949-1950 (the establishment of the State of Israel),  and 1967-1968 (the reunification of Jerusalem).  Interestingly, the phenomenon didn't happen from 1494 until 1949.

There's a passage in the Book of Joel, in chapter 2.  It talks about how the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, and this shall be a sign that the Day of the Lord is at hand.

I am usually not one to believe in signs and portents.  Yet  the timing is intriguing.  If nothing else, it will be interesting to step outside and see the eclipses. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sometimes I hate it when I'm right

So awhile back I discovered that Drew hadn't been to the dentist in years. As in, well over a decade.

That truly surprised me. He has health issues, and is meticulous about keeping up with his doctor appointments.

His explanation was that his dental insurance pays maybe half of the cost and that he didn't want to spend the money. I told him I much prefer real teeth to dentures and that I didn't want to kiss dentures, and that he should see a dentist before his teeth started falling out of his mouth.

He wasn't happy about that at all.

Well...he finally saw a dentist. Why? Because he broke a crown. And the resulting toothache sent him running . . .he has a low threshold for pain.

So he needs root canal on the tooth, he's on antibiotics for the infection, and he's got an appointment with the periodontist to fix a decade's worth of neglect.

Better late than never.

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Friday, February 21, 2014


My newest Friday night must-see TV is Helix.

As per the Syfy website:

Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind's salvation...or total annihilation.
 Each week the show has gotten weirder and weirder.  Can't wait to see where it's going.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

birthday celebration

So my birthday is the day after my dad's.  The family joke is that I, his firstborn, was a birthday present.

Started the day driving in yet another snowstorm.  I am really hating this winter weather.

Drew and I had appointments with his accountant, we each got our taxes done.  I've been doing my own taxes up until now, but I had a lot of questions, and it was worth the fee to have someone who presumably knows what he's doing help me out.  And yes, I got a refund.  So did Drew.

We stopped for lunch on the way back to Drew's house.  Nothing fancy, just hot dogs from Nathan's. It's a classic, hot dogs with choice of toppings, crinkle cut fries. Always fun. 

Nathan's Famous on Urbanspoon

The main celebration for my birthday came later, of course.  We took the train into Manhattan for dinner and a show.

What can I say about the musical Chicago?  Kander & Ebb music, Fossee dancing, jazz, murder, corruption, treachery, all those things we hold dear.  It's been playing on Broadway since forever, I'd heard the cast album many times, I'd seen the movie, but I'd never seen the stage production.  Drew saw the show many years ago, and he thought it was about time I saw it, too.  And get this, Bebe Neuwirth, who played Velma Kelly when this production opened in 1996, and who came back to play Roxie Hart later in the run, is now playing Mama Morton.  She's played all three female leads.  She is just amazing.

And then, dinner.  We went to the Hard Rock Cafe. There's something very exciting about being in the same room as all that rock memorabilia, videos playing -- we saw a variety of videos last night, including Zac Brown, Culture Club and even Dean Martin.  Yes, Dean Martin.  Drew had a strip steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, similar to what he had last time we were here.  And just as good.

My choice last night was something a bit different.  Macaroni and cheese -- creamy, but not too thick or gooey, cheese sauce enhanced by chopped red peppers (perhaps a bit too much of the red pepper), served with a grilled chicken breast and two large pieces of toasted garlic bread. The mac and cheese is also available as a side dish.  I'd definitely order it again.

No dessert, I was too full.  But I'm not done celebrating my birthday, and I'm sure there will be some cake in my future down the road.

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

crazy mixed up family stuff

This year my dad's birthday coincided with President's Day.  Can I tell you it was a disaster?

My sisters planned a lovely dinner to honor my father.  Asked me to pick up a bottle of champagne and make a stop at the bakery, which I did.  Dortoni, the Italian bakery by Drew's house, does a beautiful French cheesecake with a luscious fruit topping, and I also picked up a raspberry mousse cake.

And they would do everything else.  Except that they didn't shop for the ingredients for the lovely dinner until 4:00 Monday afternoon.  Didn't start cooking until almost 6:00.   I don't know what went on in that kitchen, I walked out when H burned the garlic and shallots and had a major meltdown.

The menu was supposed to include a Tuscan vegetable soup, garlic bread, penne a la vodka and chicken marsala.  Except that when we sat down to eat, sometime after 10:30, they hadn't yet made the marsala.

And then came the drama. 

I don't say anything because I know what would happen if I did.  Even though I bought the champagne, the cakes, and a good deal of the groceries, I'm likely to hear the old refrain that I "don't contribute anything". 

But Becca...She'd come out to the house for the day, had class the following day.  She had a meltdown, and honestly, I don't blame her.  Jen wound up driving her back to school, and neither of them had any dinner. 

I suspect the family had birthday cake when Jen came home.  I wouldn't know, I went to bed around 12:30.

My father had a good time, though.  He enjoyed the food and the wine, and he was reminiscing about the trip he took to Paris with my mother many years ago. 

And I think that's the bottom line.  When you're 87 years old, you deserve to enjoy your birthday.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chinese take out!

We usually go out Saturday night, but the weather being so uncooperative, tonight we opted for Chinese takeout. Ordered from Hunan Dynasty. Food was delivered promptly, in the time frame that was promised.

Food was excellent - large portions of tasty ingredients. I ordered a combo plate that included an entree, fried rice, an egg roll and a spare rib, served in a compartmentalized container, as well as soup. Dinner was so filling, I wound up saving the soup for another meal.

I especially liked my entree, Triple Delight -- stir fried shrimp, chicken and beef with vegetables, in a brown sauce.

Definitely worth the money, I am sure we will order from this place again.

 Hunan Dynasty Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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Snow is a four letter word!

Yes, I know, I've been moaning and groaning about the weather a lot this winter.

I am so tired of shovels and ice scrapers and etc.  

In truth I'm very lucky, I can work from home when the weather is bad.  I no longer have to use a vacation day or schlep into the office in bad weather.

But my social life is taking a huge hit from this weather.  Drew and I have had to cancel plans more than once because of the snow.

It's been a very snowy winter.  The news reports that it's already one of the ten snowiest winters, and we're only halfway through February.

This winter now ranks in the top ten for snowiest winters in history with 54 inches of snow having fallen so far. That is more than double the average winter total, of 25 inches. 

I am so "done" with this weather.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day dinner

I was going to write an Urbanspoon review tonight, but realized I've reviewed the restaurant before. Several times, actually. We went to Ayhan's in Westbury, they had a prixe fix menu for Valentine's Day. Suffice to say it met our expectations, and of course we will be back.

Drew and I are very fortunate. We live in an area where we have copious choices whenever we want to dine out. From the little hole in the wall in Chinatown to the fine dining experience in the West Village, from the south shore seafood restaurant to the Greek/Turkish place we visited tonight, New York City and Long Island offer a variety of dining experiences. Fast food, national chains, local places, we love them all.

And we are fortunate we have the means and the time to explore our options. We dine out at least 2-3 times a week. And why shouldn't we? We work hard for the money, and how we choose to spend it is not up for debate.

I will celebrate my birthday on Tuesday, and I'm not shy about announcing my age -- I'll be 54. My children are grown, I'm not actively parenting them, it's time for me to enjoy my life.

I love dining out. So I am enjoying.

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Valentine's Day, again

And the hopeless romantic in me is reveling in the day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

There are places I remember...

Hicksville Road (route 107) and Hempstead Turnpike (route 24) in Bethpage.  I drive through this intersection all the time, as I travel to and from Drew's house.  Typical Hempstead Turnpike intersection -- Jiffy Lube is there, Mavis Tire, stores.  It barely registers... different it was in the mid 1960's.

We were living in East Meadow then, and a trip to Jolly Roger's was always fun. 

I always thought "Jolly Roger" was the name of the entire complex, but in truth that was just the name of the fast food restaurant.  Next door to the restaurant was an amusement park known as Smiley's Happyland.  It was owned by the same guy who owned the more-famous Nunley's in Baldwin, but was much larger, and had indoor as well as outdoor attractions, so it could stay open year-round.  As I recall, the rides were geared for younger children.  I was probably about 8 when we stopped going -- we moved away in 1968.

We'd go for dinner, and after we ate, my sister and I could ride some of the rides.  Somewhere we have boxes of movie film and slides of my sister and me on the rides.  

Can't find my own pictures and video, but through the wonders of Youtube, I can relive my memories.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

getting tired

I'm thinking it might be time to resign from the temple's Board of Trustees.  I was asked to join the board many years ago, because I was active on several committees, most notably "catering", "education" and "social action".

I joined the education committee when the girls were in Hebrew school, it was like joining the PTA at their public school.

Catering...well, there's a story behind that.  Our synagogue had a contract with a kosher caterer, and when it was time to plan Jen's bat mitzvah, I booked a party with the temple's caterer.  Who promptly went into bankruptcy, taking my deposit into the abyss.  Got involved with the committee out of my own self interest.

Social action, that's the committee that organizes the food drive for the kosher food pantry, that collects paperback books to send to Israel, that arranges the annual "locks of love" event at the temple.  It's the committee I enjoy the most.

so i was asked to serve on the board.  And now I have different committees -- "insurance", "legal", "constitution", Hazak, and, of course, social action.

Insurance and legal are right up my alley, we handle the affairs of the temple.  the constitution committee is involved with the temple's bylaws.  Hazak is a social group, for temple members over 55 -- I'm technically too young to be a member, but somehow I found myself as co-chair of the committee.

I'm thinking it's becoming too much for me, that maybe I should not seek reelection when my term expires in June.  Maybe cut back and just keep working with social action.

Maybe it's just the politics and personalities. Maybe it's because the same group of people wind up doing all the work.

It would give me some time to pursue other activities.  Spend some time doing other things.

Haven't made up my mind yet.  But I have to decide soon.  The nominating committee will be announced in March, and the chair will ask me for if I want to run for reelection shortly after that.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chow Down Diner

I drive down Hempstead Turnpike frequently. I watched the Bethpage Townhouse Diner morph into the Chow Down Diner. And after reading what turned out to be a spot-on review in Newsday I felt we had to try this place.

The decor is very 1960's "space age modern", retro but not kitschy. Bright and cheery. As Newsday pointed out, sort of a modern take on "The Jetsons". Or maybe something from the NY World's Fair circa 1964.  but also comfortable and modern.

The menu. . .well, there are a lot of categories on the menu, but only a few items in each category. Three or four varieties of burger. Four or five types of sandwich. A lot of choices, yet limited.

As soon as I saw lobster mac and cheese and truffle mac and cheese on the menu, I knew we were not in an ordinary diner.

We started our meal with Caesar salad. A nice portion of romaine lettuce, lightly dressed, with a sprinkling of croutons and shaved Parmesan.

Entrees -- Drew ordered a Coney Island burger, a hamburger topped with pastrami and melted cheese, served on brioche and accompanied by fries. I ordered the meatloaf -- an individual loaf with a sweet chili glaze, served on top of a mound of mashed potatoes, with brown gravy and mushrooms.

We didn't order dessert, but the cocktail cupcakes looked intriguing.

Service -- the waitstaff was pleasant and efficient. The kinks were all kitchen-related -- the wait for our entrees was far too long, and they had to correct some mistakes with Drew's order.

We went on a Friday night. The place was busy, we had a 15 minute wait for a table, but for some reason they didn't want to open the back room.

And be forewarned -- this is the only diner on Long Island that closes at 10:00 PM.

The food was tasty if a bit different. And a bit pricey for "diner food". But overall we had a good experience, and we will probably go back eventually.

\Chow Down Diner on Urbanspoon}

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Location:Bethpage, NY


This has been a "go-to" restaurant whenever I hangout with my friend K. Last night I treated K to dinner -- her birthday was last month, but with the weather and our busy schedules ...

The menu has been changed since our last visit, but the essentials remain. Oversized drinks, chips with salsa, tacos and enchiladas and etc. I had sangria, sweet but not overly so. Steak fajitas were excellent, served with black beans and rice and just enough sour cream and guacamole. I seem to be in dessert mode lately, had to try the fried ice cream. Definitely worth it. K enjoyed enchiladas and banana Napoleon, a dessert she ordered on a prior occasion.

Definitely a favorite. We will be back.

Cozymel's on Urbanspoon}

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Location:Westbury, NY

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Birthday Celebration!

Honestly, our usual NYC dining experience is much more casual, much less elegant.  But this was a special occasion, and we needed something different.

One If by Land, Two if By Sea.  Fine dining in a historic setting.  Drew's dream dinner.

So of course we had to go.  And after a few wrong turns traipsing through the West Village, we arrived.

The building was once Aaron Burr's carriage house.  It's dark and romantic and decorated with antiques and/or reproductions.    Multiple fireplaces warm the rooms.  The resident pianist entertains.  Perfect atmosphere for  a special occasion.  (In fact, we witnessed one happy couple become engaged.)

Service was impeccable, of course.  Everyone was friendly and efficient.

It's a price fixe menu, you choose an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. There's an extensive wine list -- I ordered prosecco -- as well as cocktails from the bar.  Drew ordered his usual amaretto Collins. 

Our meal began with a tasting of cured salmon over creme fraiche.   Drew's appetizer was seared scallops served with pork belly, both perfectly cooked.  I opted for a winter salad -- greens in vinaigrette,  slices of blood orange, walnuts and dates.  We both ordered the butter poached lobster -- lobster tail and claw meat served with a medley of vegetables.

Desserts are elegant.  Drew ordered the vanilla creme, a variation on creme brulee served with a variety of fruity toppings.  I ordered profiteroles, pastries served with creams.

One If By Land, Two If By Sea on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thank you, Scott Shannon

Scott Shannon retired Friday.

The name may not mean anything to you.  That is, if you're not a fan of NYC morning radio.

I first heard Scott on Z100 back in the 80's, on the Z Morning Zoo.   Scott and Ross and Mr. Leonard in his lime green Pinto.  I won a jacket from them once, for adding a song to the Juke box From Hell.  He took Z100 from worst to first.  On air he's a bit of a doofus, but as a program manager behind the scenes he's absolutely brilliant.

He left New York for awhile, only to return as a co-host of Scott and Todd in the Morning on WPLJ.  And I've been a loyal listener every since.

The ups and downs of life in the NYC area, all on my car radio every weekday.  Todd Pettengill is a comic genus, but Scott is the heart of the show.  They discussed everything, from the victories of New York sports teams, to movies they'd like to see, to weird news stories and the tales of woe about public figures (got a lot of mileage out of Anthony Weiner's plight).  The  latest celebrity gossip, there it was.  Interviews with musical acts and TV stars.  Games and giveaways (I love "Dead Star in the Envelope", an audience participation guessing game).  Charitable works, such as the annual golf outing and the Christmas show at the children's hospital.

9/11/01.  I was driving to work, and listening to Scott and Todd.  they were interviewing a listener over the phone.  The tale he told was incredible and horrible.  A plane had crashed into the World trade Center.   As Scott and Todd tried to get the details from him, to clarify the unspeakable, unbelievable act he described...another plane hit the second tower.

I don't remember the rest of the drive, I must have been on auto pilot.  But I remember, in the days that followed, how Scott and Todd took to the air every morning, grimly determined to help their listeners get through this disaster, helping them search for missing loved ones, helping coordinate supplies to be delivered to those who were searching the rubble at Ground Zero...Shelli Sonstein, then news director for the morning show, in tears as she tried to read the news...

Scott, you were one of the highlights of my morning commute.  You will be missed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

OK, enough already

Today's lyrics?  Ice, ice, baby.

Mother Nature, you win, I concede.  So can it stop snowing now?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow Day!

I feel like i'm caught in some sort of time loop.

Yes, it's snowing again.

It's been a horrible winter, colder and snowier than normal. 

Mother Nature must like the Superbowl, though.  We had two beautiful days Superbowl weekend. 

But back to the snow today.  And more in the forecast.

Enough already!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Our annual pilgrimage to Louie's for Drew's birthday lobster. Someday I will actually get here in the summer so I can sit on the deck and enjoy the view of Manhasset Bay and Long Island Sound.

Tonight's menu included our favorite lobster bisque. Very filling. Drew had a broiled Maine Lobster, served with cole slaw and corn on the cob. The gift card was for a 1 1/2 pound lobster, but for a small fee he upgraded to a 2 pound lobster. We'll worth it.

I had a "special" surf and turf - filet mignon with a creamy horseradish sauce accompanied by broiled shrimp, served on a bed of spinach. The shrimp were huge! The sauce was very interesting, just enough horseradish to give it flavor but not enough to overpower. Excellent.

As you know, I rarely order dessert. But when I saw chocolate lava cake on the menu. . . well, it reminded me of the chocolate melting cake on our cruise last summer. Chocolate cake with a fudge, gooey center. Fresh whipped cream with blackberries and raspberries. A scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heaven on a plate.

 Louie's on Urbanspoon
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Groundhog Day!

Today  is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.
If he sees his shadow, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.
If the day is cloudy and therefore shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.
Will he, or won't he?

Puxatawny Phil says 6 more weeks of winter, but our Long Island talent says to expect an early spring.

Only time will tell.

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