life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, July 31, 2015

Eldercare update

The power struggle continues.

Marvin celebrated his birthday last week. There were two celebrations. Drew and his aunt and uncle took Marvin out to lunch on his birthday, and a few days later Shelley and some of her friends took him out to lunch. He enjoyed both outings.

But it's very clear Marvin will never be healthy enough to go back to Shelley's house. And it's equally clear that Shelley doesn't understand this, and doesn't understand that she is no longer the person making decisions about Marvin's future care.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

A night of theater -- Disney's "Aladdin"

So Friday night we found ourselves on a train headed into Manhattan, arriving at Penn Station at rush hour.

Rush hour.  On a Friday night.  In July.  No, I do not miss commuting.

And I felt like a salmon swimming upstream as we walked uptown towards the Theater District.

A quick stop at the theater to pick up our tickets, then we headed over to Guy Fieri's restaurant for dinner (review to follow) before heading to the show.

My daughters were little when Disney had its second golden age.  The age of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King.  The age of Aladdin.

You may recall that Aladdin was the last collaboration of Alan Menkin and Howard Ashman, and when Ashman died, Menkin paired up with Tim Rice to finish the project.  For the Broadway musical, some Ashman songs that were cut from the movie have been restored,  And Chad Beguelin was brought in to write additional material.

There are some plot changes -- nothing that effects the final outcome.  Iago become a person, and both Jasmine and Aladdin acquire friends in lieu of pets.  The confrontation with Jafar is a bit shortchanged.

The best part was the Genie.   James Monroe Iglehart...when you step into an iconic role, one created by Robin Williams, you have a difficult job.  He doesn't try to be Williams, he makes the role his own, that Tony was well deserved.

The best numbers, of course, are "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali".  Singing, dancing, sparkly costumes.  A wonderful evening of live theater.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack...

Yes, another Ducks game.

This time, the visiting team was the York Revolution. And the promotion was a Ducks baseball cap, but only for the first 1500 fans. The catch was, the gates opened an hour early to accommodate a charity softball game.

So we got to see a local police department play the employees of a charity that provides programming and activities for autistic children. Proceeds of that night's 50-50 raffle went to that charity.

It's a very nice cap.

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It was national hot dog day, so of course I had one.

Quackerjack was having fun with a water gun that night.

 photo 20150723_203808.jpg photo 20150723_203729.jpg And it's always a good thing when your team wins.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Panera Bread

Why, oh, why, didn't somebody tell me?

I stopped by Panera for lunch last week and decided to try something different: the Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad.

Romaine, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges and nuts in a fat free poppyseed dressing.

It was so good. Like a party in my mouth.

Why didn't anyone tell me to try it before?

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Monday, July 27, 2015

It's gone!

My childhood nemesis is no more.

Swimming at Drew's community pool, and I notice that they have only one diving board.

That bit of info triggers memories of going to the community pool in my neighborhood. We didn't go very often, most of those summers we were at camp during the week, and we stopped going altogether when we got a pool of our own.

The pool had three diving boards of varying heights, two fairly low to the ground, and the middle board very high. If you've ever seen a diving competition, you've seen a board that height. Really, the board was suitable for the fancy moves of a competitive diver. My guess is that it was about ten feet tall.

I remember climbing up that ladder. I remember feeling scared. Sometimes I'd get to the top of the ladder, climb onto the board -- and chicken out. It was a long climb up, but an even longer climb down, in shame and defeat.

But sometimes ... Sometimes I had the courage to climb onto that board, walk to the end, and jump. I liked to dive off the low boards, but I don't think I ever mustered the courage to dive from the high board. You fly pretty fast from ten feet above the pool, you hit the water hard. And then you have to recover yourself and swim to the ladder.

I was feeling nostalgic, so I drove over to the park where the pool is located. I hadn't been there in a very long time. The pool seemed a lot ...smaller.

And the high board was gone!

I guess lawsuits and high insurance premiums did it in.

I have no plans to swim at that pool anytime soon, let alone jump or dive off the high board.

But I am sorry to see the high board gone.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015


A prime example of not realizing what you've got until it's gone, of taking things for granted ...

I really love to swim.  When I was a child I went to day camp, and we went swimming twice a day, every day, so long as the weather permitted.  I was in my teens when my parents installed an in-ground pool in our back yard, making the water oh-so-accessible.  When Jen and Becca were children, I joined the Y, so that we could have access to an indoor pool all year long.

but ...

We haven't opened our back yard pool since 2011.  My father was ill for most of the summer of 2012, he was in the hospital or rehab most of the summer.  2013 was a repeat of 2012.  And since then, while my father has been at home one has the time to do the work necessary for making the pool swimmable, not to mention the fact that a pool is expensive -- you need the chemicals to keep the water clean, and running the filter and heater really hike up  your utilities bills.

And since I let my Y membership lapse a few years ago, well, the only time I've had a chance to swim has been while on vacation. 

Until now.

Drew joined his community pool.  So now I have access to cool, clear water again...

What simple thing.  What a wonderful thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cheeburger Cheeburger

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You know I love a good burger!!!

With thoughts of John Belushi in our heads, one a recent Saturday night we ventured out to Cheeburger, Cheeburger.

This place has a  1950's theme, with Formica tables,  neon signs and posters advertising classic cars on  the walls, and the piped-in music consisting mostly of oldies.  There's a small lunch counter in front, and tables in the back.  The pink color scheme is very authentic, very retro, yet very different from our other favorite 50's throwback, the gleaming-white  Johnny Rockets.

There's a very extensive menu, featuring salads, sandwiches, shakes, and, of course, cheeseburgers.    The gimmick is that you "create your own" by choosing the toppings and fixings for your burger, salad or sandwich.  Be forewarned, though, that your choices are limited to "medium" and "medium well", they do not serve rare burgers. They remind you on the menu that this is not "fast food", everything is cooked to order.

I ordered a quarter pound burger on a Kaiser roll (you can get a honey wheat bun if you prefer), topped with provolone cheese, sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, pickles and barbecue sauce.   The burger was held together with a toothpick topped with a green olive.    The meat is lean Black Angus beef, and definitely needed the sauce -- maybe a bit more sauce than they used.    I wound up adding some ketchup.

We ordered a "best of both" basket, a combination of French fries and onion rings.  We added two dipping sauces, zesty horseradish and creamy cheese.  The onion rings were light and crispy and paired well with the horseradish sauce, which had just enough zip to be interesting but not overpowering.  The fries were merely OK, and the cheese sauce tasted just like Velveeta. Warning --- they use peanut oil for all of their fried foods. 

Sodas (Pepsi, no Coke) are served in large mason jars, and refills are included. 

Service was a tad bit slow, though I was pleased to see the manager keeping on top of things.

Overall a nice experience. 

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Go Set A Watchman (spoilers)

I read Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" twice. First time, I must have been in high school. More recently, when Jen was reading it for her English class, and I wanted to be able to help her get through the book and her assignments. I won't say that it's my favorite, but I did like it. A lot. The prose was beautiful, Lee's rambling style as she described the town, its history, local legends, her oh so real depictions of how children relate to each other, so wonderfully written. The story, so inspiring. All the makings of a classic.

And she never published another book.

Until now.

"Go Set A Watchman" was actually written before "Mockingbird", the publisher rejected the manuscript but helped Lee develop the characters and storyline into the book that eventually became the classic. I was excited to hear the book was being published, and concerned about what changes there might be to the story. And after I read the book reviews, I wasn't sure I wanted to know ...

Well, I read it.

The most noticeable difference, of course, is that while both books are written from Scout's point of view, "Mockingbird" is written in the first person, an adult Scout reminiscing about events in her childhood. "Watchman", written in the third person, is a story about an adult Scout visiting her childhood home, with occasional flashbacks to events during her childhood.

"Watchman" is very bare bones, you can see themes developing in the story, elements that would eventually find their way into "Mockingbird", but the focus is very different. The central elements of "Watchman" are Scout's disillusionment with the father she idolized (the noble Atticus Finch is revealed as a racist) and the conflicts between Scout and various members of her family. The rape trial, one of the major events in "Mockingbird", is not central to the storyline, and is only mentioned in passing.

I enjoyed reading the book. Lee's prose was beautiful, as always. The flashbacks to Scout's childhood were the best scenes in the book, you can see why the publisher encouraged Lee to rewrite the story and develop the storyline as a memoir of Scout's childhood. While it was an interesting read from a scholarly perspective, as a prequel/sequel to "Mockingbird", it was lacking. As a stand-alone novel, it would not have become the classic that Lee's story ultimately became.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

someone else's tragedy

You read about a terrible thing in the newspaper --  fire, a drowning, a shooting.  You think "oh how sad for them" and you move on.

Until it hits home. 

This week the media is obsessing over a fatal auto accident.  Eight young women, a bachelorette party, rented a limo last Saturday, and headed to the wineries on the East End of Long Island.  On a country road in Cutchogue, the limo driver started to make a U turn, when the limo was T-boned by a pickup  truck.  Three of the women died at the scene of the accident, one died in the hospital a short time later.  Two others are seriously hurt.  We're told that the bride survived.  The driver of the truck has been charged with DUI.

They did everything right.  And yet they died.

The newspaper published the pictures, names, ages and home towns of the victims.  They were young women in their mid 20's, mostly from Long Island.  They look just like my daughters and my daughters' friends.  For all I know, my daughters may actually know one or more of the victims -- they're from a town just 15 minutes east of our home.

It's haunting me.

And when I said something to Drew....

Well, he started flashing back to 1987.

April 1987, and we were obsessing over the details of our upcoming wedding, when someone else's tragedy helped put things in perspective for us.

A limo, carrying a bride and groom, the bride's sister (maid of honor) and the groom's brother (best man).  They'd been married in a beautiful church ceremony, and were on their way to their reception at a catering hall in Lido Beach.   As the driver attempted to make the left turn into the catering hall parking lot, the limo was hit by a speeding car.  The driver of the car was drag racing. 

The groom and his brother died at the scene.  Two weeks later,  the bride died, too.

The driver of the car was convicted of criminally negligent homicide. 

28 years later, it still affects me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ant Man (Spoilers)

Yet another creation from Stan Lee, yet another piece of the Marvel Universe. Check your brain at the door, buy yourself some popcorn, sit back, relax and enjoy the movie.

Ant Man is clearly part of the same universe as the Avengers. There are references to SHIELD and Hydra, and a few interesting cameos.

Our hero is by no means perfect. The current Ant Man is a guy named Scott, an ex con trying to straighten out his life for the sake of his daughter. His mentor, Dr. Pym, was the original Ant Man, and is also dealing with relationship issues with his daughter. Pym's protege, Dr. Cross, becomes Ant Man's nemesis.

A lot of action, some humor, a fun movie.

And yes, there are two bonus scenes, one a few minutes after the credits start to roll, the other after the credits have ended. Both bonus scenes set up sequels ...

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Product review -- Bumblebee Sensations Spicy Thai Chili Tuna Medley


So, in search of different combinations of lunch foods to keep in my desk, I decided to try Spicy Thai Chili Tuna.

Sorry, but I didn't really care for it.

The kit comes with a single serve can of tuna, buttery crackers and a small plastic spoon.  Inside the can, the tuna is topped with a whole chili pepper.  The tuna appears very, very pink because of the chili seasoning.  It's got a little bit of a kick, but it's not overwhelmingly spicy.  You can taste the tuna, the seasoning is not overpowering.

It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't good.   I threw out half the can.  I won't be buying it again.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Strolling along

My Fitbit addiction has me walking. I was never much of a gym rat, but now ...

You know about my walks in the park, at the beach, in the neighborhood. I put on my walking shoes and just walk. I may listen to music, but often I will leave the iPod home and just wander and explore. Walking is incidental to the enjoyment of my surroundings.

But sometimes I like to push myself. I'll go to the track and walk laps. Headphones are a must, they keep me entertained as I walk in circles.

And sometimes I find myself "walking" at home. There are some great workout videos around, I have several, and I've found some good ones on YouTube. If the weather is bad, or I'm short on time, I'll just watch a video and follow along.

And it's starting to feel good.

Want to take a walk with me?

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

I never thought I'd be cheering for Billy Buckner

"So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. [A] little roller up along first... behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!" -- Vin Scully, October 25, 1986.

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, played in Shea Stadium. The Mets were down 3 games to 2, had to win that night to stay alive and force a 7th game.

The Red Sox scored twice in the top of the 10th inning, taking a 5-3 lead.

Bottom of the 10th, 2 outs, and the Red Sox could practically taste the champagne. Then Ray Knight came to bat and started a Mets rally. With Knight and Kevin Mitchell in scoring position, Mookie Wilson came up to bat. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I watched Game 6 with Drew and Marc, in the basement of Drew's parents' house. The three of us had gone out somewhere that day, and wound up at Drew's house for the game. When the Mets rally started, we found ourselves getting out of our chairs, standing within inches of the television screen, and cheering almost as loudly as the fans at Shea. When that ball rolled between Bill Buckner's legs, we went nuts.

So why am I thinking about the '86 Mets?

On Friday night, Drew and I went to Bethpage Ballpark to see the Ducks play the Somerset Patriots. It was YMCA night, so instead of a single ceremonial "first pitch", representatives of each of the YMCA's on Long Island had the chance to throw a "first pitch" to Bud Harrelson.

Yes, THAT Bud Harrelson. He's a co-owner of the Ducks as well as their first base coach.

And pitching for the Ducks that night? Billy Buckner.

I looked him up. He's had a modest career playing for several MLB teams and their minor league affiliates, including the Diamondbacks, the Rockies, the Angels, as yes, the Red Sox. But no, he's not related to the famed Bill Buckner who lost Game 6.

So, despite the "unfortunate name" here in Mets country, Billy Buckner wears the orange jersey of a Long Island Duck, and of course we cheered for him. In fact, the Ducks beat the Patriots that night, and Buckner was the winning pitcher.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

VH-1 -- Behind the Music/Harry Chapin

YouTube is a treasure trove.  Look at what I found:


Somehow it's fitting that the very first "Behind the Music" was about Harry Chapin.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about Harry.  I've blogged about it often enough.

With my recent visits to Eisenhower Park (the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theater), and with a sad anniversary a few days ago, I've been thinking about Harry....

All the years that he was popular, Harry lived on Long Island..  He was a philanthropist, very much involved in local arts programs and also created Long Island Cares, a food bank serving our  region.

First time I saw a Harry Chapin concert was in 1975, in my very own high school.  Just Harry and his guitar and a backpack full of story songs. Harry lived in Huntington, and he had a habit of playing concerts at Long Island schools.  I believe the concert he gave at my school was a fundraiser for his cause -- Long Island Cares, I think. 

Saw him again at Hecksher Park in Huntington (the stage in that park is also named for him), where he appeared in support of the local arts council.  After the show we all lined up to meet him.  He signed an autograph and kissed me on the cheek.

When I was in college, I saw Harry and his band at a theater in Schenectady, NY.  Great concert.

And then came July 16, 1981.  Harry was going to play a concert in Eisenhower Park.  The park personnel  were expecting huge crowds.  My friends and I wanted a good spot on the lawn, so we got to the park very, very early to stake out our claim.    A blanket on the lawn, some board games to pass the time, and the ubiquitous boom box, the radio tuned to our favorite station.

The radio played "Taxi" and "Cat's In The Cradle" back to back.  And then the DJ announced that Harry had died.

A few minutes later, someone walked out onto the stage and announced that the concert was cancelled and we should all go home.  We left, we headed to a diner.  but I saw on the 11:00 news that many other fans stayed, and sang Harry's song as tribute to him.

If you watch the video, you'll see footage from July 1981.  You'll see the wreck that was his car, sitting on the Long Island Expressway.  You'll see his brothers enter the Nassau County Medical Examiner's Office, on their way to identify his body.  Footage that really sets off a wave of emotion for me, even now. 

Two reasons, I think.  Reason one:  it happened here, where I live, places that are so familiar to me.  I use the LIE all the time, I can't tell you how many times I've driven past the spot where Harry died.

But more importantly, Harry was a friend.  A genuinely nice guy.  So accessible to his fans.  I mean, how many artists, at the height of their popularity, would play a full concert in a high school auditorium for a bunch of teenagers? 

Gone too soon.  Gone way too soon.

Friday, July 17, 2015

color war?

When I bought my car, the dealer offered a choice of color, and I chose a hue called "sand pebble beige".

And then Drew made a joke about "that tan car that always parks in front of my house".  When I corrected him, told him that the car was beige, he insisted that the car was tan.

It's become a running joke.  He says "tan" and I say "beige".

So you know that I'll never tell him that the thesaurus lists "tan" and "beige" as synonyms.

And I'm certainly not going to tell him that the DMV classified my car  as "tan".

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Longhorn Steakhouse

Two years ago, when Drew and I drove from Florida to New York, we decided to stick with chain restaurants, but choosing only chains that we could not experience in NYC or Long Island.  Although Longhorn Steakhouse is popular in several states, for some reason we didn't get a chance to try one.

So when we found ourselves near the Queens Center Mall, we had to stop in for dinner.

There's a very extensive menu, featuring steaks, seafood, salads, burgers.  Add in the specials, and it can feel a bit overwhelming.

Instead of the usual white bread, we were served warm honey wheat bread with butter.  The bread was slightly sweet and very good,

We started with the Brew Pub Pretzel Sticks, four soft pretzels served with two dipping sauces.  The mustard was fantastic but I didn't care for the seasoning in the cheese dip -- too herbal.

Steaks are served with a salad and your choice of a side.  The salad was a nice mixture of vegetables, croutons and dressing.  

I ordered a "special" -- hickory salt crusted NY strip, finished with a butter sauce.  The steak was perfectly cooked, the sauce a nice accompaniment.  Drew's steak was so tasty that he didn't bother with his usual steak sauce.  Drew had mashed potatoes -- creamy and smooth.  I chose the corn on the cob -- grilled and served with Mexican crema.

Lots of leftovers, of course.  Like all chains the portions are huge.  And we were too full to consider any of the interesting desserts.

Service was friendly and efficient.

Be forewarned, though, that this is a relatively small restaurant.  We were there at an off hour, and were seated almost immediately, but I suspect the wait can be lengthy at peak times.  The parking lot, shared with the Olive Garden next door, is totally inadequate.

Overall we had a very nice dinner, and we're likely to go back if we find ourselves in that neighborhood again.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I'm enjoying my walks. 

Lately I've been walking in Drew's neighborhood. It's hard to walk very far in my own neighborhood, there a big hills and no sidewalks, so I tend to stay close to home.  But Drew's neighborhood is different, I can point myself in any direction and walk and walk and walk....

You can see all sorts of houses in the neighborhood, from the tiny dwellings built in the late 1940's and early 1950's to the modern McMansions.  One day I came across a tiny red house, a 1949-ish single story building that hadn't been updated at all since the day it was built.  Right across the street was the largest McMansion I'd seen in that neighborhood,  with dormer windows on the third floor.  They just didn't seem to belong on the same street.

When you walk, you can really see the details of each lawn or garden.  Some people have fences, some do not.  There are religious statues, garden gnomes, planters, birdbaths.  Porch furniture, even swings.  One time I saw a woman sitting on her porch, doing woodwork with a power saw.

You'll see kids on their bikes, or playing ball.  I walked down to the school and saw a guy running around the track.  I also walked as far as the community pool -- the water looked so tempting, but I'm not a member there.  Besides, I didn't have my bathing suit.

One day, as I was walking past the apartment complex, I was "attacked" by an overly-friendly dog.  Medium sized dog, a mutt but predominantly basset hound, he did not  obey my commands to "get down", but jumped all over me like I was his long lost friend.  His owner apologized, he apparently pulled the leash right out of her hands.

And then thee was the time I saw a bunny crossing the road.  There's seldom any traffic in the neighborhood, but as luck would have it, he crossed just as a car was coming. He came thisclose to being roadkill. Got his fluffy tail out of the road just in the nick of time.

I have a good sense of direction, I always seem to be able to find my way back to Drew's house.  Though I did get lost once, walked a bit further than I intended.  But my map/navigation app got me back on track.

I guess I'll keep walking here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I am starting to develop an appreciation of the comedic  talents of Melissa McCarthy.  We recently saw Spy, a parody of the James Bond type of espionage thriller.  McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a desk-bound CIA agent, the "voice in the ear" of glamorous spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law).  When Fine is killed in the line of duty, Susan becomes a field agent and sets out to complete Fine's mission. 

All the elements of a spy thriller are there -- the movie is set in Paris, Rome and Budapest, there are scenes in casinos and aboard private jets.  The villains are sophisticated.  Expensive cars get wrecked. 

But there are also jokes about bodily functions, vermin infiltrating the office environment, middle aged cat ladies.  And an incredibly over the top performance by Jason Statham as a CIA agent who thinks Susan is not capable of handling the mission.

Definitely a fun movie, worth seeing.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Watawa Sushi

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I'm really loving Japanese food lately, and Watawa Sushi  is a nice take on the subject.   We were very pleased with our takeout order.

Loved my shrimp teriyaki -- grilled shrimp on a bed of caramelized onions.  The teriyaki sauce was sweet but not overpowering. It was served with rice and a choice of miso soup or a salad.  I'm not a fan of miso, so I chose a salad -- a nice mixture of greens, cucumbers, etc. with ginger dressing on the side.

The sushi menu is very extensive, a bit overwhelming for a sushi novice like me.  Not feeling very adventurous that evening, I wound up with a simple California roll.  But it was fresh and tasty.  Next time around I'll be a bit bolder in my choices.

We ordered our dinner on line.  I love having that ability.

I'm thinking this is going to be one of our "go-to" places.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

missed opportunities

Sigh. Sometimes you don't realize the value of something until long after it is gone.

7th grade, my first year of junior high.  There were 3 social studies teachers assigned to our grade.  

I considered myself lucky to be in Mr. K's class.  Mr. K was young, probably in his 20's, with longish hair and a mustache.  Very easy to get along with, we could related to him because he was close to our age. We loved Mr. K's class.

But in the spring semester, the teachers rotated.  We'd have two weeks with Mr. A,  Mr. A's students would have two weeks with Mr. H, and Mr. H's students would have two weeks with Mr. K.  Then we would have two weeks with Mr. H,  Mr.  K would teach Mr. A's students and Mr. A would take Mr. H's class.  At the end of the month, each teacher would return to his original class.
M. A was middle aged, balding and not terribly exciting.  His class was OK.

Mr. H, on the other hand, was terrifying.  I assumed he was in his 30's at the time, but he may have been older.  He had anachronistically short hair.  Back then most male teachers wore button up shirts and ties, but on Mr. H it seemed like a uniform.  He had a no-nonsense attitude.  In hindsight I'd guess he spent time in the military, he reminds me of former Marine officers I met later in life.

What was really scary about Mr. H was that he had a glass eye.  This was not rumor -- be told us he had a glass eye the first day he was in our classroom.
I couldn't wait for Mr. K to come back.

Mr. H's family had lived on Long Island since colonial times.  In fact, there was a town named after one of his ancestors.   He was a member of several local historical societies.  He knew so much about local history, more than I could possibly imagine.  What an opportunity I had. What an opportunity I squandered.  I wish I had learned more local history from him.

Mr. H is the one who introduced me to the legend of Whisper the Bull.

Smithtown, NY was  settled around 1665.  Legend has it that Richard Smith rescued the daughter of a local Native American chief.  As a reward, the chief told Smith he could have as much land for a settlement as he could encircle in one day while riding a bull.  Smith is supposed to have made this ride on the day of the summer solstice, on the back of a bull named Whisper.

You'll find a statue of Whisper in Smithtown, at the corner of Route 25 and Route 25A,

Smithtown Bull.JPG
"Smithtown Bull" by DanTD - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Another This and That

It's been a bit hectic at work.  Remember what I said about "picking up the slack"?  The guys who were laid off are long gone, and I'm struggling to get up to speed on a whole bunch of new files. But I'm still loving this job, enjoying working so close to home.

After such a hectic time last weekend -- a ball game, a movie, a show and a party -- I'm kind of looking forward to a quiet weekend, catching up on the DVR and some  DVD's.  .  But on the other hand, Drew's suggestion that we visit on of Long Island's historical sites sounds intriguing, too.  We will see how the day develops.

I watched a bit of yesterday's Parade of Champions.  A ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.  This was in honor of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team and their World Cup victory.  Saw an interview with some fans, girls who play soccer, girls from the town where I live.  It was interesting to see confetti flying through lower Manhattan.

I used to go to ticker tape parades when I worked in lower Manhattan. I remember the Vietnam Vets, the 86 Mets,  several Yankees teams, and John Glenn.  You get a better view on TV, but being there is so exciting, standing in a crowd of screaming, cheering New Yorkers as confetti falls from the sky.

We had really good cake for Becca's birthday -- blackout cake.  Chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, paradise. 

But the cake we had the day before Becca's birthday was her one-year anniversary at her job, so my very clever sisters bought a cake decorated with Becca's business card.  The bakery scanned the image and recreated the business card  in icing and fudge.   Becca waited until we had eaten the part with her office phone number before she took a picture to post on Instagram, she didn't want to advertise her direct dial to the entire world.

And yes, I did have cake.  The Weight Watchers slogan:  "Of course I eat it all, just not all at once."  At my Weight Watchers weigh-in I was down .2 pound.  Considering I thought I might have gained a bit, I''ll celebrate even this tiny loss.  I think what made the difference was the walking.  I do try to keep my Fitbit happy, you know.

Remember my goal to read more?  I haven't been keeping up with it.  But that's about to change. Go Set A Watchman will be published on Tuesday, and I already ordered it for my nook.  I read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was in high school, and I reread the book when Jen was in high school and her English class was reading it.  I always loved Harper lee's style.  I've read the first chapter of the new book, it was published on line yesterday, and I am already entranced. 

I've always thought it was ironic that the child who struggled in school is the one who now works in a school.   I reread Mockingbird because Jen was having issues with her English class.  I can laugh about it now, because Jen's degree is in ENGLISH.

She's really enjoying summer school this year.  She works one-on-one with a special needs student.  He was in her classroom during the school year, so they had a rapport even before she started working with him.  She comes home tired, of course, but it's a very different tired than when she worked at the day camp.

Drew is enjoying his summer off.  Though he is keeping himself busy with errands -- doctor's appointments, getting his paperwork done for retirement, taking care of Marvin. 

He finally managed to get the information about Marvin's bank accounts, so he can cash Marvin's Social Security check and buy a few necessities for him; Marvin needs new sneakers and a belt.  His stuff went missing the last time the nursing home sent him to the hospital.  Unfortunately, Marvin's wedding ring, and his late wife's wedding ring, disappeared as well.  The shoes are replaceable, the rings, obviously, are not.

So we're both looking forward to the "staycation" at the end of the month.  Several day trips are in the planning stages.  Should be fun.

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom.  July is dressed up and playing her tune...

Friday, July 10, 2015

GRK revisted

One of the things I liked about working in the Financial District was the variety of places to grab a quick lunch.  These days my visits to the city are infrequent, so I have to make the most of lunch hour.  Which is why I wound up at GRK .

Counter service restaurant, limited choices, but the food....Though I usually order a platter -- meat, salad, pita, tzatziki and a side -- I ordered a chicken yeero (they do not spell it "gyro" because they want you to pronounce it properly!)  A soft, warm pita wrapped around a ton of chicken, topped with a bit of tomato and onion and just enough tzatziki to keep everything moist.

A decent lunch spot, I'm happy I found it.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

More park pictures

I've spent some more time at Eisenhower.  Really lovely park.

A better shot of the Lakeside Theater:

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A memorial garden dedicated to those Missing in Action, near the 9/11 Memorial.

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Some park history

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And some real park history. I found this in front of a maintenance building near the park's very modern and up to date playgrounds.

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And since I wasn't happy with the photo of Eisenhower, I had to try for a better shot

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Who is she?

Who is that attractive young woman in the pretty dress, putting on her makeup and dashing out the door to catch a train?  Who is she, the one headed off to work in the city?  Who is she, the one spending so much time on her smartphone, chatting with friends, planning a get-together, a day trip, a vacation?  The one searching with the same relentless energy for a new purse, an apartment, a career path, love?

I am so proud of this young woman, but sometimes I barely recognize her.  In my mind I'm still seeing the baby I held in my arms for the first time 23 years ago today.  I'm looking for the little girl who loved dolls and books and Disney movies.  The teenager worried about being popular and whether she would get into a good college. The wonderful, amazing grown up person I see today....she's the embodiment of the hopes and dreams I had 23 years ago, the very first time she looked at me and smiled. 

Happy birthday, Becca.  May this be an amazing year, and may you find the things you're looking for.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gilbert & Sullivan

I have to admit, I'm a wannabe.  I would love to be active in community theater, or some similar pursuit.  I mean, I was a drama club member all through junior high and high school, and I sang in the school chorus.  I took two theater classes in college, and I even appeared in a one-act play.  But that's where it stopped...

Drew, on the other hand, has been a member (on and off) of a local community theater group, a troop of volunteers whose purpose is to present to works of Gilbert & Sullivan.  Lately, as there are so many other things going on in his life, it's been more "off" than "on".  Drew's sister has also been a member of the troop for a long time, and of course Drew has a lot of friends who are current or former members. 

They do one production each year, starting rehearsals in January and performing over several weekends in June and July.  This year's production was H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor.  Drew and I caught the last performance of the production. 

Pinafore is one of Gilbert & Sullivan's best known works, full of  silliness and social and  political satire set to some truly beautiful music.

Afterwards, the musical director urged Drew to audition for next year's production of Iolanthe.  She also thought he'd be great as a member of the organization's governing board. 

And the good news is, he's seriously considering it.  I really think he should, he needs the creative outlet.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Drew likes to host three barbecues every year -- Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.  His back yard is very comfortable for a small gathering, there's a large patio with an awning that's ideal for dining.   He likes to grill burgers, hot dogs, Italian sausage, chicken, corn on the cob, knishes.  There are appetizers and munchies -- cheese and crackers, chips, dip.  Salads, of course, to go with the meats.  And later, desserts -- cakes and pies, fresh fruit, ice cream.

For the 4th, I made my caprese salad, my balsamic honey pasta salad, and something new -- Ritz crackers topped with hummus, cucumber and feta cheese.  Nice combination, but it needed 'something" -- next time I think I'll add some roasted red peppers.

It was a fun afternoon, with good food and good friends.  And as it got dark, there were fireworks all around the neighborhood.  Illegal here in NY, but nevertheless....

Poor Duchess.  Drew banished her to the spare bedroom for most of the day.  She can get overwhelmed if there are too many strangers in the house, and with everyone coming and going, he was afraid she might get out of the house -- she is NOT an outdoor cat.  And when the fireworks started, well, the loud noises scared her.

But the humans feasted, and chatted and enjoyed themselves.

But it was bittersweet.  The size of this party keeps shrinking.  Between those who have separated from us via moves out of state, and those who have moved away from us emotionally, our group continues to dwindle.  Sigh.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Torta Fina Bake Shoppe

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I had visited Torta Fina many years ago, and at the time I did not care for it.  But recently I have heard great things about this place, and thought I should give it a try.

A small storefront located in a busy strip mall, this is a very small shop for a bakery.  A sign on the counter indicates that most of the baking is done on site.  The cakes and pastries are displayed in three small cases.  Selection is somewhat limited.

We ordered three different items.  All three were very attractively presented.  Mini cannoli were a perfect balance of crispiness in the shell and sweetness in the cream.  Chocolate dipped strawberries -- the berries were sweet and juicy, and the chocolate was smooth and rich.

But the main event was the double chocolate mousse cake. This was a very tall concoction composed of chocolate cake layered with chocolate mousse, with a chocolate frosting on top and a thin layer of chocolate on the sides. 

The cake and pastries did not disappoint.  Another bakery to add to our "go to" list.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day

Friday, July 3, 2015

I'm talking baseball....

Now that we've seen the team from Texas (the Sugarland Skeeters), the remaining competitions will be more local -- teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland.  Which means it's possible for the visiting team's fans to come to our park to see a game.  Truthfully, the only time I've actually seen it was during the playoff games. 

Last night's schedule brought us the Lancaster Barnstormers, with fireworks after the game.  In fact, w got a bit of a sneak preview during the National Anthem ("the rockets' red glare") and again during "God Bless America" in the middle of the 7th inning.

The starting pitcher for Lancaster was a guy named Shunsuke Watanabe.  Very unusual style, Drew told me he's a "submarine pitcher".  I had to take some video.

And the game? Lancaster took an early lead, scoring in the top of the first inning.   Bottom of the 8th, Lancaster was ahead 5-3.  The Ducks loaded the bases but failed to score. Top of the 9th and Lancaster added  a run to their lead,

Were it not for the fireworks, I think most people would have left the ballpark at that point.

And they would have missed a spectacular ending.

The Ducks' bats come alive.  They score two runs.  It's now 6-5.

Two outs, the bases are loaded...and it starts to rain.

The batter pops it up.  It looks like an easy play for the catcher,  He makes a diving catch...and drops the ball.  A run scores.

7,000 people start screaming.

A walk-off single wins the game.

7,000 people go crazy.

And then we all stood in the rain to watch the fireworks.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Together

Nostalgia time.  We recently went to see the "Happy Together" Tour.  This is a show featuring a lot of retro bands, acts form the 1960's and early 1970's.

Back in the 60's,  Howard Kaylen and Mark Volman were vocalists with a band called The Turtles.   Later, Kaylen and Volman would perform as Flo and Eddie.  The Turtles' biggest hit was "Happy Together".  Hence the name of their nostalgia tour. 

This year the show featured The Buckinghams, The Cowsills, The Grass Roots, The Association, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, and , of course, The Turtles.  We saw the show at Westbury Music Fair (or whatever it is they're calling the place these days) on June 27.

With so many acts in this year's tour, each band did only a short set featuring their top 3-4 hits.  Which was fine for The Cowsills, who only had four hits.  But for an act like Flo and Eddie, not so fine -- in previous years, their comedy could easily fill up 45 minutes of the show; though I did enjoy their "Frozen" parody.  And I felt sad seeing The Grass Roots, they're just not the same without Rob Grill -- we saw Grill perform just a few months before he died.

My favorite DJ, Scott Shannon, was there to start the evening.  Later, during intermission, Drew ran into him in the lobby and asked to shake his hand.

And because the theater is now sponsored by a local bank -- I hate calling it the NYCB Theater at Westbury -- we got a swag bag from the bank.  Inside the tote bag I found an ice cream scoop, pencils, a chip clip, a rubber jar gripper and a fold-up Frisbee with the bank's logo.

Overall, a fun evening.  Good to hear the old songs again. 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015


The NaBloPoMo theme for July is "connections". Not really grabbing me. So I guess I'm going to do 31 blog posts this month and (after this post) not refer back to the month's theme. I've gotten used to planning my posts, making sure I come here at least once a day. It's how I stay "connected".

So it's July, it's summer, and I'm loving it.

And one of the ways I "connect" is through music.

To celebrate the season, one of my favorite songs:

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