life in and around NYC is insane
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Scientists don't know what this object is. The mysterious object, which is approximately 32 feet wide, was in a heliocentric orbit remarkably similar to that of Earth. It doesn't act like a typical asteroid or comet. And scientists do not think it's a piece of our "space junk".
Who knows, maybe it's an alien probe. We don't really know who else is out there, do we?
We did eat non-kosher foods when we weren't at home, of course. But while my parents would sometimes order shrimp or clams, shellfish wasn't a big draw for us.
So I managed to live well into adulthood before I ever encountered a raw oyster.
It was Christmas time, and I was at a business lunch at a very nice NYC restaurant. We'd all ordered steaks, and our host ordered a variety of shellfish to be shared among the guests. Including raw oysters.
I'm always eager to try new foods (within reason), so when I was encouraged to take an oyster, I did.
I looked at the oyster. It seemed innocuous enough.
They told me "You eat the oyster whole. Just lift it up to your mouth and swallow it. Let it slide down your throat."
I looked at the oyster again. It seemed a little...slimy.
Uh, yeah...a little bit scary ...
Should I or shouldn't I? Should I?
Oh, grow up and just do it.
I lifted up the shell and brought it to my mouth.
And my lips clamped shut, seemingly of their own volition.
And I couldn't get them to open up.
Sorry to waste a perfectly good oyster, but ...no. Not going to happen.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Vegetarian. Kosher. Shelf stable.
It's Wild Garden hummus.
I'd never heard of Wild Garden until I spotted a Snack Pack To Go in the supermarket.
Had to try it, of course. I bought two varieties, traditional hummus with pita chips and traditional hummus with veggie chips.
When you open the box you find a bag of chips and a tube ... yes, a squeeze tube ... of hummus. Both containers are very portable and easy to open.
The pita chips were crisp and flavorful. But then, it's easy to do chips.
The hummus? A thick paste, thicker than traditional refrigerated brands. A bit bland, could have used more garlic.
It's shelf stable, but must be refrigerated after opening.
You squeeze a ribbon of hummus onto a chip and you're all set. I ran out of hummus before I ran out of chips, which was disappointing.
Overall it was a satisfying snack in convenient packaging. Certainly worth buying again.
We were a large group, and called ahead to make sure we could be accommodated. The table was ready when we arrived. Service was friendly and efficient. Food was hot and fresh, portions were generous.
I was pleased with the variety of the menu, lots of options available. I really enjoyed the sautéed mushrooms and onions on my burger.
I don't visit Staten Island often, but it's nice to know I can get a decent burger or sandwich when I'm there.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
But we've been told that the Earth will have a close encounter with an asteroid on Halloween. There's speculation it's a comet in disguise.
And then, there's Comet Lovejoy. The 'happy hour" comet. No, really. It's leaving a trail of alcohol and sugar behind as it journeys through the solar system. The equivalent of 500 bottles of wine per second.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Like my cocktail meatballs. My pasta salad. And my caprese salad.
Truth of the matter is, I don't do much cooking. I'm a decent cook, not fantastic, but my sisters are all much better at it than I am. And I'm proud to say that Jen knows how to make a great taco.
Still, I enjoy cooking. And I like trying new things.
Maybe it's time to try a stir fry....
Monday, October 26, 2015
Time for some Halloween fun!!!
We like haunted houses. You walk through scary/gory scenes out of a horror movie, while costumed performers tease and taunt you. It's all fantasy, and it's fun.
This year our search for spooky fun took us back to the Bayville Scream Park. http://www.bayvillescreampark.com/foodbeverage.htm
In the warm summer months, the Bayville Adventure Park offers bumper boats, miniature golf, rock climbing and similar fun activities for children.
But on cool October nights, the park is transformed. Five haunted attractions, each with its own theme and backstory. You can buy tickets for all five, or for as many of the attractions as you like. There's also an option for "speed pass", which gives you the ability to skip waiting in line.
The park opens at 7:00 PM, but the time each attraction opens are staggered. The night we were there, the "Evil Woods" attraction didn't open until 8:30, which was very frustrating.
My favorite attraction, by far, was the "Zombie Pirates". Set up on what normally serves as the miniature golf course, the walk features spooky lighting and Chainsaw-wielding Zombies. The "Evil Woods", well worth the wait, features a fog-obscured haunted bus. The "Temple of Terror" features an interesting maze, but could have been managed better -- too many of us wound up in the same part of the maze at the same time. I like the mirrors in "Uncle Needles' Fun House", but thought that there should have been more to the attraction. Didn't like "Bloodsworth Manor", it relies to heavily on strobe lighting effects.
Afterwards, we headed down the street to the Shipwreck Tavern. We've always liked the theming here -- 19th century sailing ship, tiki idols, mermaids, etc. There a huge tank in the center of the room, home to a genuine moray eel.
The service here, however, is lacking. There's no host or hostess, nor is there any indication that you are supposed to seat yourselves, so you are seated when one of the waitstaff notices that you are waiting for a table. Once you are seated, the service is adequate but not astounding.
We shared an appetizer, coconut shrimp with a sweet chili dipping sauce. We liked the dish, but at $15, we felt it was overpriced. Our Shipwreck burgers were well prepared, with melted mozzarella and sautéed onions and mushrooms, but were accompanied by limp and bland French fries. Adequate but not exciting.
While we did enjoy the scream park, I doubt we will return to the Shipwreck Tavern any time soon.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
I'm not shy about telling you that yes, I do eat fast food, and yes, I like it.
When you walk into a fast food restaurant, you have certain expectations: standardized menu, quick service, and a clean place to eat.
The Arby's menu is a bit different from other chains. They serve roast beef, chicken, ham...but no burgers. Sandwiches are tasty, not greasy. The Arby's sauce and the horsey sauce ar a nice touch.
Sides are a bit different, too -- including potato cakes and curly fries. that's why we like Arby's.
This location is always fairly busy. Service is quick and efficient, food is hot, restaurant is kept clean. the dining area is relatively small but we've never had a problem finding a table. The parking lot is a bit small, too, but again, we've never had an issue.
They have a bell near the door, you're supposed to ring it on the way out if you were satisfied with the experience.
The bell is ringing.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015
This time they didn't need a black cat, Murphy's law was enough. It starts with the curse of the billy goat, placed on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs' home ballpark of Wrigley Field because the odor of his pet goat named Murphy was bothering other fans. He was outraged and declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, or appeared in one since 1945.
In 1908, the last time they won the World Series, the owner's name was Charles Murphy. He was very unpopular with the players and the fans, and the story is he was snubbed when the players went for a celebratory dinner after winning the World Series.
General Manager Johnny Murphy presided over the Mets team that thumped the Cubs in 1969, and broadcaster Bob Murphy described it all.
The Cubbies blew the 1984 National League championship series by losing three straight at Jack Murphy Stadium, the ballpark named for Bob’s brother.
The 2015 Mets swept the Cubs in four games. Is anyone surprised that the MVP was Daniel Murphy?
So yesterday I went to synagogue for morning minyan. The Rabbi is an ardent Mets fan, he was wearing a Mets t-shirt and had a Mets banner draped over the lectern. The sun rose as we said our morning prayers, and the Rabbi couldn't help but note that the sky was orange and blue. And after the service, we drank a "l'chaim" to the team.
On to the World Series. Let's Go Mets!!!!!!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
So I'm dragging myself out of bed in the morning to go say Kaddish. If I cannot manage getting up in the morning, I'll try to make the evening service. I am finding that the ritual of prayer is soothing.
I'm worried about the family, of course. My mother has always been the strong, silent type, hard to read her emotions. And with her dementia advancing...well, I don't know what she's thinking. We never leave her home alone, someone is always with her.
Felice and Andrea...well, they were the most involved in my father's day-to-day care. They seem to be ok, for now. The other night they went out shopping, a little retail therapy, something they haven't done in a long time. I'm hoping they'll continue to find things to do.
Honey is wound tight, though. Always on the verge of meltdown. She doesn't confide in me, but from what others have said ...well, I worry.
I've been told that my sisters are worried about me. I haven't spoken to Drew since before the funeral, he did something hurtful and I'm not sure I can forgive him. I've been the Rock of Gibraltar lately. And no one knows about my mini-meltdown at my Weight Watchers meeting the other night.
Jen and Becca are doing well. Last weekend they went pumpkin picking with their boyfriends. It' good to see them both so happy.
I've got this really weird feeling lately. The last few weeks have been surreal. I feel like I'm missing the month of October.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
So my original plan was to participate in the Eastern Long Island Walk at Dowling College and work as a volunteer at the Jones Beach Walk.
Didn't turn out that way.
The day of the walk at Dowling College was gray, rainy and miserable. I hadn't done any fundraising. And I just couldn't bring myself to go.
And while I sent in an application to work in the registration tent, as I did last year, I never got a response.
I've been walking at Jones Beach, on and off, for months now. So I decided I'd do the walk at the Making Strides event.
The forecast called for unseasonably cold but clear and dry weather. Since I absolutely had to wear my new pink hoodie, I made sure to wear several layers under it to stay warm. When I got to the beach around 8:15 or so, parking field 5 was already full, and everyone was being directed to park at field 6 or field 4. I opted for field 4, and then had to walk back to field 5 to visit the registration tent, the survivor's tent, etc. I got an apple, a bottle of water and a free sample of Tom's deodorant. At the Survivor's tent I got a necklace and a t-shirt identifying me as a 10-year cancer survivor. Some of the other tents were giving out tote bags, but I didn't bother.
It's a 5K walk. You start at field 5, turn west towards field 4 and keep walking until you reach the tribute fence. Then you turn around and walk back to field 5. Or in my case, the walk was over when I got back to field 4.
55,000 people can really fill up a boardwalk.
So many fabulous people in pink wigs, boas, etc. My favorite team of the day was the group wearing pink tutus and pink fairy wings. Couldn't get my camera out fast enough to take a picture. And I loved the guy in the pink gorilla suit.
The walk really did me in. I was sore the whole rest of the day, and the next day as well. I'd been training for the walk all summer, but because of the circumstances of my life I'd done no walking at all for two weeks prior to the event.
The Survivor's tent:
The Walk begins here:
Beautiful day for a walk:
The pink gorilla:
Real men wear pink:
The Jones Beach water tower:
This year's "survivor" t shirt:
My previous walks:
Monday, October 19, 2015
You sit shiva for seven days after the funeral. Friends and family come by to pay their respects to the deceased and to offer condolences to the family.
And they bring food. Lots of food.
Not just cookies and cake. Whole meals.
My waistline may never recover.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Jewish tradition identifies a "mourner" as the spouse, parent, child or sibling of the deceased. Others may be saddened by the death, but they are not "mourners".
After the funeral, the mourners sit shiva for seven days. It is a period of deep mourning, where friends and family come by to pay respects and offer condolences. Mourning continues until 30 days after the burial. But if you are mourning a parent, your period of mourning lasts for an entire year.
The rituals of mourning include the recitation of the Kaddish. During the daily or Sabbath service, the Rabbi will ask the mourners to rise and recite the prayer in memory of their loved ones. A minyan -- a quorum of 10 -- is required in order for this prayer to be recited.
The first time I said Kaddish for my father was at the funeral. I will recite it every day (or at least, every day that I attend services) for the next year. And then I will say Kaddish for my father every year on his yartzeit, the anniversary of his death.
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified Amen.
in the world that He created as He willed.
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
swiftly and soon. Now respond: Amen.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He
beyond any blessing and song,
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now respond: Amen.
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Friday, October 16, 2015
My father, of blessed memory, loved everything about cooking. He'd watch all the cooking shows on TV, shows like "The Barefoot Contessa". He had an extensive collection of cookbooks, he loved buying food magazines and reading the recipes.
When he retired in 1989, he signed up for a Chinese cooking class. He bought a wok and drove to Flushing to buy authentic ingredients.
And then he learned to roll sushi, long before most of us had ever heard of it. In the last year of his life, as his appetite wained and he grew so thin, we could always manage to get him to eat if we brought him sushi. We called him "the sushi monster".
But his signature dish ... soup. A dish that adorned our table for every Jewish holiday, and frequently "just because".
Real, made-from-scratch chicken soup. You start with a whole chicken, cut in quarters. Vegetables -- onion, celery, carrots, parsnip. Herbs. Kosher salt. The aroma permeates the entire house as it simmers.
The soup is served with broad noodles, or maybe matzoh balls, and chunks of parsnip and carrot. My mom likes to eat the boiled chicken as a separate course, my dad liked it with a little horseradish. The rest of us tear up the chicken and add it to the soup.
I made chicken soup once, many years ago. But I used the recipe from my mother's family, without my father's refinements.
When my father stopped cooking, he taught my sister Felice to make the soup. She inherited his talent for cooking.
Maybe I'll watch her the next time she makes the soup.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
It's back!!!! And so good.
This was once my "go-to" diner. And then, sadly, the quality went downhill. With so many really good diners on Long Island, there's no reason to accept mediocrity. So we found other places.
But I've been hearing good things about this diner lately, so on a recent Sunday afternoon, I decided to give it a try. And I'm glad I did.
Décor is clean, bright and modern. Wait staff wear crisp black uniforms. Service is friendly and efficient. Menu is extensive but not overwhelming.
Scrambled eggs were light and fluffy. French fries were hot and crisp. Cranberry Pecan Salad (an interesting mix of tomato, cucumber, dried cranberries, candied pecans and gorgonzola cheese, and I added chicken) was huge, with a generous serving of creamy salad dressing on the side. Next time I might try a burger, they have some interesting and unusual options (a Jack Daniels burger? sounds good.)
On another occasion, we did takeout. Our order was filled quickly, the food was fresh and hot. Banana walnut pancakes featured walnuts and banana slices. Sandwiches from the grill were accompanied by a generous portion of French fries and a garnish of onion rings, as well as a dish of cole slaw and a pickle.
It's good to have an old favorite back.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Of course my sisters and I learned how to cook. You have to be able to provide for yourself, and if you can derive some enjoyment from it ...
I'm not sure what was the first thing I ever cooked, but I think it was eggs. Don't remember if it was scrambled eggs or sunny side up. Both are fairly easy, after all. Very hard for a young teenager to ruin. Hard boiled are easy enough, too.
After that, it was pasta. My mother served a lot of spaghetti, it's easy to cook and feeds a small crowd. You make a simple meat sauce and you've got a meal.
And that simple meat sauce is similar to chili, which you can serve over rice. Another crowd pleaser.
And when you have a gas grill, hot dogs and hamburgers are very easy.
And if you're bored with burgers, make a meatloaf instead...
And before long, you have a teenager who can take care of herself.
Monday, October 12, 2015
So of course I remember Phillippe Petit, and his famous (illegal) high wire walk between the towers.
I haven't had the chance to see the documentary, "Man on Wire", though now that I've seen the Zemeckis retelling, I may try to find a copy.
Yes, I liked "The Walk". Told as a "caper" or "heist" movie, the story follows Petit from his first encounter with the high wire, to his first sight of the World Trade Center towers in a magazine, and then to acquiring "accomplices" for his "coup".
Hoseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing as Petit. High energy, funny, entertaining.
I loved seeing all the methods Petit and his crew used to access the building and scout out the territory, all the intrigue and subterfuge.
But the most breathtaking moments of the movie -- especially in IMAX 3D -- is the walk itself. Worth the price of the ticket.
Two poignant scenes towards the end of the movie. After the walk, Petit's girlfriend remarks that he has given the Towers a soul. And at the end of the movie, Petit tells the audience that the Port Authority gave him a free pass to visit the observation deck, and instead of an expiration date, the pass would be good "forever".
9/11 isn't mentioned. The audience knows the fate of those towers.
A breathtaking movie.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
The author (Alana) is taking classes on learning how to prevent falls. One of the exercises she describes is walking, similar to what you'd do on a tightrope or a balance beam.
She inadvertently brought back memories of what was then my worst nightmare.
The Munich Olympics were held in August and September 1972. The Games were marred by the shooting of Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village, but were also noted for extraordinary performance by numerous athletes, including the legendary Mark Spitz, and a tiny Soviet gymnast named Olga Korbut. She won several gold medals, including one for balance beam, and would be named ABC's Athlete of the Year.
September 1972 was also when I started 7th grade, my very first year of junior high.
In elementary school, the entire class would head to the gym for physical education (how the boys hated square dancing!), but in junior high we were segregated by gender. That was fine for soccer and field hockey, but when the weather got colder we headed indoors. The boys got to play basketball. We girls got what the faculty assumed was a real treat: gymnastics.
Gymnastics. Ugh. Olga Korbut I am not.
I don't think I would have had a problem with the balance beam I'd it were only a few inches off the ground. I mean, I'm not particularly well coordinated, but I would have given it a try.
But in its usual position, way up off the ground?????
No, not happening.
Until my teacher, Mrs. S, said I'd fail gym if I didn't do it.
I'd never failed a class at school, and I wasn't about to fail now. But I was so scared.
Now, no one liked Mrs. S. She sounded like an army drill sergeant and she didn't take excuses from her students. She wasn't a physically attractive woman. There were lots of nasty things said about her. You had to feel for her daughter, who was in my year at school, because my classmates were not shy about their dislike of Mrs. S.
I wish I could take back every mean thing my 12 year old self said about her. Yes, she made me walk the balance beam. But she knew I was scared, and she held my hand the whole time.
She was a better teacher than any of us realized.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Earlier that morning we'd gathered at the funeral home. The funeral director usher us -my mother, sisters and daughters- into the chapel so that we could fulfill the legal requirement of identifying the body, and to give us a few moments to say goodbye. And there was my father, dressed in the J. Crew outfit my sister had chosen for him, a yarmulke on his head, the tallit the Rabbi gave us draped around his shoulders.
Then back to the family room. Hugs and tears as family and friends arrived. Another private moment before the service as each of the immediate family was given a black ribbon to wear, which the Rabbi then tore as a sign of mourning.
Then the service. Prayers from the Rabbi and the Cantor, warm memories and funny stories as we eulogized a husband, father and grandfather.
Just as we were leaving the funeral home, the Rabbi told me he couldn't come to the cemetery ... He'd had root canal that morning and needed to recuperate, but the Cantor would take care of everything.
The long ride to the cemetery. The military honor guard. More prayers from the Cantor (a short service, with one eye on the sun -- the Cantor had to return home before the Sabbath began). Each of us throwing a symbolic shovel of dirt into the grave -- the job would be completed by cemetery employees.
And then, the words of the Mourner's Kaddish. Yitgadal v'yitkadash sh'mei raba. May G-d's Name grow exalted and sanctified. A prayer I recite in my father's memory, a prayer I will recite through the year of mourning, and each year on the anniversary of his death.
(I'll never have to look up his yartzeit, he died the day after Simchat Torah.)
So now we begin the shiva, the seven days of mourning. More visits from friends and family, more hugs and tears, more sharing of memories.
We love you, Daddy. We will miss you.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
I think I am falling in love with this chain all over again.
Soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries...a nice change of pace from fast food, lots of options for healthy eating as well as indulgence.
This summer I ate a lot of strawberry poppyseed chicken salad. But that salad disappeared from the menu right after Labor Day.
One of their "fall" items is a Turkey, Cheddar and Apple sandwich. On the website they suggest pairing this sandwich with Autumn Squash Soup. I wasn't interested in squash that day, so I opted for the standard creamy tomato soup instead.
The apple is shredded, it was almost like a sweet cole slaw without dressing. Added a nice balance to the cheddar and a nice crunch to the sandwich.
Definitely worth ordering again.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
I was in the canned goods aisle, picking up some Bumble Bee tuna (I like their singe serve tuna salad and cracker combo), when I spotted this:
Hummus in a can? That doesn't need refrigeration? That's as portable as the single serve tuna salad?
I guess it's worth a try.
So I bought it.
It's...ok. Not great, but a decent snack. The texture of the hummus is a bit runny, and it could use a little more garlic. The wheat crackers, the same crackers used in other Bumble Bee snacks, are ok, too -- a bit hard, a bit bland. I'd prefer a toasted pita chip.
My biggest issue was the ratio of hummus to cracker. I put what I consider a normal amount of hummus on each cracker, and found myself with leftover hummus after all the crackers were gone.
There are much better brands of hummus out there. But for convenience, this is a decent tasting hummus and a healthy snack. I will probably buy it again.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
These days the term, along with the music it celebrates, have become the province of "classic rock" stations.
To celebrate Rocktober, at various times throughout the month, I'll post some of my favorite classic rock songs.
Let's start with this one by Foreigner:
Friday, October 2, 2015
And then it was Wednesday, and as I walked out of the office at 5:00....sunshine! So unexpected, but...I figured if I drove straight to the beach, I'd have an hour to walk on the boardwalk before the park closed.
Summer is over, the crowds have gone home, but there were a significant number of people on the boardwalk.
Sunken Meadow is a North Shore park,on Long Island Sound, not a barrier beach like Jones Beach. The boardwalk separates the sandy beach from the woods. Now that it's autumn, the beach grass and seagulls are re-taking the sand. Autumn color is starting to touch the leaves. And it's so quiet now -- you could actually hear the waves breaking on the shoreline. The wind was blowing in from the Sound, I could actually taste the salt in the air. Perfect conditions for a walk.
I guess this guy didn't want his picture taken. He was standing on the boardwalk, but took off as soon as I pulled out my camera.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
This month, we're dishing on our favourite foods, sharing recipes (and the stories behind their creation), and reflecting on what we used to eat as kids. We're also looking at what dish we used to dread eating, and whether it's still our least favourite food.
A month devoted to food? Sounds interesting. Count me in.
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- to wrap up the NaBloPoMo theme .... a song
- And then there's 1991 VG
- NaBloPoMo prompt: What is the scariest thing you'v...
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- Wild Garden Hummus
- Mike's Unicorn Diner
- There are more things in heaven ...
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- Songbird Salutes the 70's: Come Sail Away
- This time they didn't need a black cat....
- Another this and that
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- Let's Go Mets!
- Saying Kaddish
- Songbird Salutes the 70's: Bohemian Rhapsody
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- The Dix Hills Diner
- Songbird Salutes the 70's: Let It Be
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- Movie review: The Walk (spoilers)
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- spiraling down
- Panera Bread
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