life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy October!

It's definitely one of my favorite months. So this year I thought I'd do NaBloPoMo for October. The Blogher event. All you have to do is write a blog post every day for the entire month. Very simple, right?

Wrong. When I'm blogging for myself I can be quite productive. But when I commit to NaBloPoMo, I sometimes struggle to find sufficient topics to meet the goal. Hopefully this time around I won't hit writer's block.

The theme this month is "crunch". The crunch of autumn leaves. The crunch of a fresh, delicious apple. And as the temperature drops, even the air feels crunchy.

I love the cool, crisp days. Days that require a sweater or light jacket. Nights when the air is so crisp that the stars look like diamonds. The flaming colors swirling among the trees. The aroma of logs burning in a fireplace. Pumpkins on the porch. Apple cider and pumpkin muffins.

This year the month begins with the solemnity of the High a Holy Days, and ends, as always, with the spooky, silly fun of Halloween. And who knows what may happen in between?

It's a spectacular time of the year. Bring it on!

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Dirty Burger

Located in the Fairway shopping center, this is a pleasant little restaurant, with a large "to go" counter as well as seating in a modern, comfortable room adorned with comic book art. It was fairly busy on Saturday night, but we had no trouble getting a table.

The menu focuses on burgers and fries, but other items, such as steaks and salads, are available as well.

"Dirty" means they dust the food with their special seasoning blend. It's spicy, but not "hot", if you know what I mean -- there is obviously some pepper in the mix, garlic, interesting flavors. And most items can be ordered "clean", meaning without the seasonings.

We started with pigs in blankets, ordered clean. The hot dogs were served in puff pastry and accompanied by Dijon mustard.

We also ordered the wings, served "dirty" with BBQ sauce. The wings were accompanied by a blue cheese dressing and carrots and celery. Nice bite to the wings, pleasantly cooled by the dressing.

We ordered our burgers medium rare and "dirty". The meat was served perfectly pink, the seasonings a subtle touch. The buns were so soft and fresh that it was difficult to cut my burger in two -- after the hot dogs and wings, there was no way I could eat the whole burger. My burger, topped with Swiss cheese and grilled onions, was so juicy it was literally dripping.

Fries were crisp and tasty, no need for the seasonings. I didn't care for the truffle mayo, but their store-made ketchup is much tastier than the standard tomato ketchup.

Lots of leftovers, of course. And we didn't order dessert -- pretty standard ice cream items.

Yes, another "find". We will be back.

  • Dirty Burger on Urbanspoon

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Baseball and schmaltz

So Derek Jeter's 20 year career has come to an end.

20 years playing shortstop for the Yankees. 20 years of impressive baseball that will ensure his entry into the Hall of Fame.

But more important, 20 years of exemplary character. Of leadership. In an age where so many professional athletes are involved in questionable, or scandalous, behavior, Jeter is a true role model.

Thursday night was the big night. Yankee Stadium, his last home game, a crowd that has loved him since he first donned pinstripes. And a bottom of the 9th clutch hit that won the game.

But I like today's game even better. Last game of the season, up at Fenway, enemy territory. Jeter's last at bat, he hits an RBI single, and is taken out of the game for a pinch runner. And the Boston fan chant his name.

You know you've done well when your arch rivals show you that kind of respect.

I can't wait to see what he does next.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My latest nail polish look

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mara's Too

A good friend of ours is known to explore new dining options, and she frequently makes recommendations. Her most recent recommendation: Mara's Too in Wantagh.  And I'm glad we listened.

It's a small, storefront place with an adjacent small parking lot. At 8 PM we had no trouble parking, but at lunchtime on Merrick Road ... Parking could be problematic.

Inside there are a handful of tables -- I wouldn't come here with a large group -- and a large bar area. We're not whiskey drinkers, so we skipped over the pages and pages of the menu devoted to that beverage and headed straight for the food -- an interesting mix of Texas/Arkansas barbecue and Louisiana/Cajun cooking.

This time around we stuck with the basics, that is, ribs. I ordered a half rack of St. Louis ribs, Drew ordered a 3/4 rack of baby backs. Both were dry rubbed and cooked to falling-off-the-bone tenderness. Two barbecue sauces were brought to the table - tangy Texas and spicy Arkansas. The spicy sauce had a bit of a kick but wasn't overwhelming. You get a choice of jalapeño cornbread or Texas toast; we both chose the garlicky goodness from Texas. Smoked beans were excellent. Hand cut fries were tasty and not the least bit greasy. Cheesy grits had just a little too much cheese, but were otherwise delicious. Each dinner was served with a whole chili pepper. Loved how our soft drinks were served in Mason jars.

The assortment of pies for dessert sounded yummy, but as usual, we were too full.

Service was friendly and efficient. And I believe it was the owner who stopped by our table to make sure we were satisfied.

Overall impression -- a nice neighborhood restaurant with an interesting menu, well worth the visit. Next time I want to try some of those Cajun/Creole dishes.

  • Mara's Too on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Yes, Dad, I know you feel lost and confused. But you're in your own bed, in the house you bought 46 years ago. I don't know what to say when you ask me to take you home. You ARE home, surrounded by your family. At least you still recognize my face and know my name. It pains me to hear you call out for your sister Eva, she's been gone since I was 12.

You look so small and fragile in that wheelchair. You've lost a lot of weight. I remember when you had a hearty appetite, when you had to worry about putting on a few extra pounds. Do you remember taking that Chinese cooking class? And the trips to Flushing for authentic ingredients? Or how you made supermarket shopping a game, collecting coupons and scanning the circulars to see how much you could save on each grocery item? When I do the shopping now, feeding the masses, I think about you.

I'm hoping you'll be well enough for that trip to the theater Friday. You haven't been in five months. It's a musical, so you won't have to concentrate too hard. Not like the old days, when you went to the theater every week. Or when you had me search the internet for the plot synopsis of the operas you were planning to see, so that you could understand what was happening on stage. You're the one who showed me how to find the "Nina's" in a Hirshfield drawing.

You wanted to be a writer, but instead wound up as an English teacher and school administrator. You and Mom were always reading. We had a house full of books, a real treasure trove. When I see Jen or Becca pick up a book and lose herself in the story ... That's part of your legacy. You don't read much anymore, maybe the newspapers in the morning, when you can concentrate. At least there are worthwhile movies on Turner Classic Movies.

On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur it is sealed. Each year we pray that we may be included in the Book of Life.

But I remember the story you told about my grandmother. How she suffered, because whatever the doctors did for he breast cancer made her diabetes worse, and whatever they did for the diabetes made the breast cancer worse. That you prayed for her suffering to end. And the mixture of guilt and relief you felt when she died just before Passover, and the strangeness of the Seder that year.

And I think about a very scary conversation you and I had two years ago, when you were "summering" in that rehab/nursing facility. The things you told me not to share with my mother and sisters. The conversation you asked me to forget. I can't forget.

When I stand before G-d in the synagogue tomorrow, what should I ask of Him?

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Roommate troubles -- again

Seems like Drew and his roommate are at odds again. Drew thought the problem was resolved a few months ago, when Marc agreed to a payment plan to pay off his debt to Drew. I thought otherwise.

Sure enough, when Drew reminded Marc two weeks ago that money was due, Marc had a hissy fit, stormed upstairs and acted like he's the victim here. We are back to the hermit crab hiding in his room. He waits for Drew to leave the house before coming downstairs to use the kitchen. Does his laundry at the laundromat instead of using the washing machine in the house. Hasn't done any of the chores he's supposed to do around the house, leaves everything for Drew. the lawn hasn't been mowed in three weeks, the landlord is going to be upset. Drew is planning to do it next weekend.

Drew is seriously considering throwing Marc out. It's like living in the middle of the Cold War, on the edge, waiting for open hostilities to erupt.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

not happy

You will recall my June Wantable review.

I really liked the stretch ring. 

Well, I have a complaint.

I've only worn the ring a few times.    But the silver tone plating has worn away on part of the ring, exposing the coppery base metal beneath.  Not pretty.

This is the first time I've had a quality  issue with something from Wantable.  I am so disappointed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Festa di San Gennaro

the Feast of San Gennaro, the mother of all New York City street fairs!

Drew and I had gone once, many years ago, on a Saturday night.  The streets were so crowded we really didn't enjoy the experience.

But this time around, I went on a weeknight with my coworkers.  There were a lot of other people there, but it wasn't too crowded.  And we had a lot of fun.

Start at Canal Street and Mulberry Street, and work you way north -- the fair runs about 4-5 blocks, I think, spilling over onto a couple of the side streets. 

Every restaurant on Mulberry has set up an outdoor dining pavilion on the sidewalk.  there are booths selling street food -- sausage and peppers, braciole, calzone...cannoli, rainbow cookies, cream-filled pastries ...zeppoli, fried Oreos, funnel cake...gelato.  Further up I spotted pasta and pizza, and even non-Italian street fare like arepas and shish kebab.  There are booths selling frozen cocktails...

There are carnival games, a couple of rides, booths selling merchandise....There was a woman soliciting donations for the soup kitchen; if you made a contribution, she gave you a baseball cap with the words "Feast of San Gennaro"  embroidered on the front.

Our little group had walked up from the Financial District, so as soon as we hit Mulberry, we started scouting out food.  I had sausage and peppers.  I sort of wanted a pastry or gelato, but I kept putting it off, and ultimately went home without any dessert.    Still, it was fun watching everyone else stuff their faces.   

When we got to Spring Street, we  found a bar with some outside tables.  We ordered some wine and beer, and watched other fairgoers for awhile.  Then we walked over to the subway and headed home.

It was a pleasant night, a nice break in the routine. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

National Cheeseburger Day!

And in honor of the occasion, I chose to have a burger from a real burger joint.

Clarke's Standard, brought to you by the same folks as P. J. Clarke's Restaurant, is a kitschy little place, a sort of scaled-down Johnny Rocket's. My chief complaint, I am apparently, at five feet tall, vertically challenged. Example, all of the seating is on bar stools, not regular chairs. Not necessarily comfortable for someone like me. I had to stand on my toes and stretch a bit in order to pump ketchup at the condiments bar. Someone was just not thinking about accessibility. I opted to take my burger "to go."

The menu is typical of a burger joint -- burgers, chicken, hot dogs. Fries, onion rings. Milkshakes and ice cream. You order at the counter and wait until your name is called to pick up your food.

Place was fairly busy during lunch hour, but not overwhelmingly so, and my order was filled promptly.

So, the food. I ordered a standard cheeseburger -- a medium burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and standard sauce. It's a decent burger, but lacks a "wow" factor. The shoestring fries were crisp and tasty, but a bit too salty. Spicy ketchup was very thick, like tomato paste, and has an off taste, but regular ketchup was just fine.

Overall, a pleasant lunch. Decent burger, tasty fries. Not a destination restaurant, but a nice place to grab a quick lunch.

  • Clarke's Standard on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Baked By Melissa

Bite sized cupcakes!!!!!!

Don't they look yummy?  

I meant to take a picture of all six, but they were so tempting...I just had to sample one.

I've been walking past this little shop on Fulton Street all summer long, but never went in...

And then Becca showed up in Penn Station one evening with a box of six...and she wouldn't share!

So of course I had to try them.

Sweet little bites of heaven, they have standard flavors, seasonal flavors, flavor of the month...they even dip some cupcakes in chocolate.

My favorites are the s'mores cupcake and the mint chocolate chip.

Can't wait to see what they come out with for the fall season.

  • Baked By Melissa on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NYC 9/11/14

Monday, September 8, 2014


You can fix their problems when they're 2.  You can't fix their problems when they're 22.

Wantable update

The mascara was OK but nothing special.   Still haven't tried the bronzer.  Not liking the Adele earrings,  the large ball is too heavy.

Friday, September 5, 2014


This and that

So last night neither of my children was at home. Becca was with her boyfriend. Jen was with the guy she's been dating since a June but won't say he's her "boyfriend".

Jen is feeling a bit weird about working in the middle school, since (unlike the elementary school where she was last year), she used to be a student there. I understand, I was a student there, too, and walking in as a mom was a bit unsettling.

It's been crazy hot this week, the first heat wave of the summer, just as our thoughts are turning towards fall. It's supposed to cool down a bit next week.

TGIF. Looking forward to a quiet weekend, I have no plans except to hang out with Drew.

It's nice to know you've made an impression on someone. I spoke to an adjuster from an insurance company today who remembered me from my previous employment. I sort of remember him, too, but the last time we spoke was at least 3 years ago.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers

On a Wednesday night she took to the stage and did her standup routine. At 81, she could have retired and stayed home, but she wanted to work. She had another show planned for Friday, but first she had to take care of something else -- an outpatient procedure at an Upper East Side clinic.

She joked "At 81, I could go at any minute."

How prophetic.

Something went terribly wrong at the clinic. She went into cardiac and respiratory arrest, was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital in critical condition. A week later, the family made the difficult decision -- take her off life support and let her go.

She was a stand up comic, talk show host, author, director, reality show star. A smart businesswoman. An Ivy League alum.

A wife, mother, grandmother.

A quiet philanthropist.

Some people are surprised at how involved she was with various causes. She didn't publicize it.

But I knew.

Years ago she did a benefit at my synagogue. I believe the proceeds of that night were split between the synagogue and Make-A-Wish, the charity she was supporting at the time. I wasn't able to go, but tonight I am seeing posts from many of my friends. She was warm and friendly. She was generous, stayed on the stage much longer than the promised 20 minutes. She was wonderful.

She once wrote:

"When I die, I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action...I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don't want some rabbi rambling on;
I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don't want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing "Mr. Lonely." I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyoncé's."

The funeral will be Sunday at Temple Emanuel. Should be an interesting affair.

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Julep Maven -- September box

I received my September box the other day.

Unlike most subscription boxes, Julep tells you what's in your box before it ships, and you have an opportunity to swap out any item you don't like. I swapped a nail color. My box contained two nail colors -- Mary Lee and Mahima, and a plush pout lip crayon in almond nude creme, which is a bit darker in person than it appeared on the website.

I like what was in the box.

But . . .

The nail Polish is very expensive and is about the same quality as a drugstore brand. How it wears depends more on the skill of the technician than on the quality of the polish.

And while I love polish, two bottles of polish per month is a lot for me. My dresser is starting to look like a nail salon.

So I think I'll be discontinuing my subscription soon.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

OMG, this is where it happened!!!!

Becca and I have been taking the train home together several days a week. Our usual train is the 5:53, which routinely leaves from Track 18.

The other day, she noticed that the gap between the train and the platform was wider than normal, and jokingly said to me "Be careful, you don't want to lose a shoe."

And I realized "OMG, this is where it happened!"

She was very young, probably about 3 or 4 years old. My sisters and I had taken Jen and Becca into the city, probably to see a show.

We were getting on the train to go home, and I was holding Becca's hand. I told her to take a big step, to step over the gap and onto the train. I didn't want her to fall into the gap, to fall several feet down to the tracks and get stuck between the train and the platform.

But she didn't listen.

They say that stress and fear cause your adrenaline levels to rise, giving you moments of strength you didn't know you had. I guess that's true, because as I felt Becca falling into the gap, I pulled her onto the train with just one hand.

And as I stood there, hugging my child as if I could never let go, I started babbling about how she lost a shoe.

You can always buy another pair of shoes. That precious child, however, could never be replaced.

It's good to be able to joke about it now.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reminding myself that she is an adult

Yesterday Jen told me that she is resigning as varsity cheer coach. I won't go into the reasons. Let's just say it has become a source of stress and drama instead of the joy she hoped it would be.

I want to fix this for her, want to make a few phone calls and yell at some folks who made this situation intolerable for her.

I have to remind myself she's 23 years old, a college graduate, an adult, and that she has to take care of this by herself.

I am so hurting for her right now.

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Crazy weather

So we have had a relatively cool summer.  Warm, pleasant days.  Cool nights.  No heat waves.  In fact, the temperature never went above 90 degrees from Memorial Day thru Labor Day.

So this morning the meteorologist on TV said that because the summer was so cool, he's already seeing splashes of fall color as leaves begin to turn prematurely.  

Went outside, and sure enough,  one of the bushes near the garage is starting to turn.

Of course, now that we are in an autumnal mood ... today's weather is hazy, hot and humid, with temperatures above 90 expected.

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