life in and around NYC is insane

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

A few musical offerings appropriate to the night.


First some Johnny Mathis:



And you have to have some Bing Crosby:



Some New Year's Greetings from Abba:



A little Harry Connick, Jr.




And my playlist must include some Barry Manilow:



And to close it out, Rod Stewart:



Happy New Year to one and all. May the new year bring us peace, joy and love.

The Friendly Greek, part 2

The Friendly Greek Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


We enjoyed the restaurant so much on Christmas Eve  that we had to come back and order from the regular menu.

I recommend the kourtaki red wine -- it's a sweet wine, but not overpoweringly so.

The bread basket includes garlic bread loaded with real pieces of garlic.  There is olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table if you'd rather dip plain bread.

We both started with the soup of the day -- the same seafood bisque we had at Christmas.  rich, thick and creamy, very satisfying.

The saganaki appetizer -- melted kaseri cheese served in a casserole -- was tasty.  Somehow we never received the pita that is supposed to accompany the dish, but I don't think we really cared.

The classic yeero platter came with pita and tzatziki, and enough yeero meat and French fires to feed two people, maybe three.

I ordered the mousaka -- layers of eggplant, potatoes and meat sauce topped with bechamel.  The dish was well seasoned, the bechamel almost cloudlike in its consistency.

Too full for dessert, I took an order of galactoburiko home.

I'm definitely in love.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas in NYC

So on Wednesday we took our annual trek into NYC to see the holiday windows.

Our day began, as always, with a delightful ride on the Long Island Railroad -- as if I needed a reminder why I am thrilled I no longer commute into the city for work.  We stood all the way to Penn Station -- ugh!

We start our trek at Macy's.  The 34th Street windows were the same as last year's, honoring the TV special "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus".  I always preferred the "Miracle on 34th Street" windows ....

This year the Herald Square windows had a North Pole theme:






We walked over to 5th Avenue and got a "dirty water dog" from a hot dog cart -- Drew had one with mustard and sauerkraut, mine had ketchup and onions.

Next stop was Lord & Taylor.  This year their windows had a winter woodlands theme:








We continued uptown on 5th Avenue until we got to 42nd Street -- the New York Pubic Library, and behind it, Bryant Park. The park is turned into a winder wonderland each Christmas, with a skating rink, shops, and, of course, a tree.



We love the shops in the park.  One of our favorites:




Last year they featured a 3 foot tall Dalek.  This year the  biggest work had a Star Wars flare:




If you don't have a few thousand to spend, there are smaller models:



There's a shop that sells French chocolates.  they hand out free samples, but with a caveat -- no chewing allowed.  The candy is so rich and creamy that you're just supposed to let it melt in your mouth.

Another store that caught my eye:




Yes, all of those tails actually wag.

I love this view of the Chrysler Building:



Patience and Fortitude, the lions of the NY Public Library.  They stopped decorating the lions for awhile because the wreaths were ruining the stone, but now they've found a way to protect the stone, and the wreaths are back:







Chabad Lubavitch is on 5th at 44th Street.  As we walked past, Drew said something about "the Mitzvah Mobile", the  trailer the Lubavitchers drive around to proselytize to their fellow Jews.  I said "It's got to be out today, celebrating Chanukah."  Sure enough, it was on 5th Avenue, we saw it drive by a short time later.


The most crowded part of the city has to be the portion of 5th Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center. It's almost impossible to walk!  But we had to see the windows at Saks.  this year it was a "Nutcracker" theme -- lots of candy and cake imagery.






The mood becomes decidedly political when you reach 5th and 56th.  I bought myself a little souvenir on that block:


We walked all the way up to Central Park.  there we found the world's largest menorah:


A worker was preparing it ...but we didn't want to wait in the cold for an hour to see it lit.






No pictures of the windows at Bergdorf this year, they were not picture-worthy. And we didn't feel like walking over to Barney's.

But the snowflake still hangs over 5th:


And the main attraction -- the tree:




Walk across the street and you can see the retired tree topper:



I took a selfie.


No picture of Drew, he was busy playing with his new camera -- the one he got to replace the camera that fell into the creek in Florida.

We walked over to Times Square.  The New Year's Eve preparations were well under way.  One Times Square:




That line through the clock is the pole where the actual ball will drop.  They did a practice run Wednesday, but I was too slow getting my camera out...

We took the subway from 42nd Street to Canal Street, then walked over to Mott Street, to our favorite restaurant, Wo Hop.  Wo Hop has been in the basement of 17 Mott Street since 1938. We stood on line for an hour to get into Wo Hop.  (There was no line for any other restaurant on Mott Street, but none is as good as Wo Hop.  Wo Hop City, at 15 Mott Street, is simply not the same, you have to go to the one in the basement.)

Very old school, bare bones decor, and everything on the menu except tea and fortune cookies  is a la carte, even white rice and crispy noodles must be ordered.  We started our meal with soup -- Drew had wonton egg drop, I had chicken corn.  Next up was 4D lo mein -- it includes chicken, pork, shrimp and beef, so much of each that it's hard to find the noodles.  And of course we had the sweet and pungent chicken -- unlike most Chinese restaurants, their sweet and pungent sauce doesn't have that fake orange color, and it is the best sweet and pungent I've ever eaten.

We took the subway back to Herald Square, and walked down 34th towards Penn.  And there it was, the Mitzvah Mobile!  The gentlemen asked if we are Jewish, and when we said "yes", they offered us a menorah to take home, and donuts to celebrate the holiday.  It was lovely.

I thought I'd end with the video I took at Saks.  Each year, Saks does a light show projected onto the buidling walls:


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mother and child reunion

So, coming on the heels of Carrie Fisher's death... One day later, Debbie Reynolds has died.

 Best remembered for Singin' In The Rain ...


 


 But who could forget The Unsinkable Molly Brown?




They say she died of a broken heart.

I can well imagine....

“She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” Todd Fisher, Reynolds’ son and Fisher’s brother, said from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where his mother was taken by ambulance earlier Wednesday.

He said the stress of his sister's death Tuesday "was too much" for her.  Carrie Fisher, who was 60, had been hospitalized since Friday.  "She said, 'I want to be with Carrie,' " her son said. "And then she was gone."

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/celebrities/debbie-reynolds-dead-singin-in-the-rain-star-was-84-1.12817510



 Carrie's ex wrote the perfect song for the day:


No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away


 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

The first time I read those words on a movie screen was in the summer of 1977.

The concept of a summer blockbuster movie was new then, Jaws having paved the way just two years earlier.  The blockbuster of 1977 wouldn't be a horror film, though: science fiction. space opera, ruled the day.

I was 17 that summer, and my boyfriend --  an engineering student at a local college -- was an even bigger geek than I was.  Of course we saw Star Wars.  More than once, actually. Yes, we were very much repeat customers.

Yes, I saw it when it was just Star Wars, before it was rebranded as Episode IV: A New Hope.  I think the rebranding happened in 1981, when they re-released the first film after the success of  The Empire Strikes Back, which was labelled "Episode V".    George Lucas had a vision, but in 1977 who knew that the film would be so successful, that it would become part of the fabric of pop culture, that they'd make two sequels and three prequels, and revive the series 30 years later?

Last year saw the return of the Star Wars universe.  The Force Awakens introduced us to the next generation of heroes and villains, but also brought back the beloved characters from the original trilogy:  Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia.  Older, of course, but still part of the rebel alliance, still fighting the galactic empire.

And so I was looking forward to this year's movie, Rogue One.

Rogue One is set in the days immediately before the original movie, and involves the rebel alliance's efforts to steal the plans for the Death Star.

We bought our tickets in advance.  We'd see the movie on Tuesday, December 27. Of course we'd see it in IMAX 3D, the special effects would be spectacular.

And just hours before we saw the movie, we learned that Carrie Fisher had died.

Which made the ending of Rogue One a bit surreal....


Huge spoiler alert here.


Really huge.


Really, really huge.




As I said, the movie involves the rebels stealing the plans for the Death Star.  The plans that Leia later hides in R2D2 as she sends the droids to find Obi-wan Kenobi.

So there's a scene where Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) talks about "sending her to find the Jedi", and we all know who "she" is...

And the last scene in the movie ....Darth Vader is aboard a rebel ship, slashing the soldiers of the rebellion with his light saber...we see a figure, her back turned to the camera...she is dressed all in white, a hood over her head...one of the soldiers hands her what the audience knows to be the stolen plans, and he asks her "what have they sent us?"

The camera moves to her face.  Through all the power of Industrial Light  & Magic, it is the face of Carrie Fisher as we knew her in 1977.

She utters a single word:  "Hope".

And the movie ends.

And the audience cried.

guest blogging

Today I was a guest blogger on my friend Larry's blog.  Here's my piece at Ranting and Raving II

another this and that

It's that week between Christmas and New Year's.  That week when everything slows down at work, where taking a few days off for vacation doesn't result in a backlog of work.

My office was closed Monday, and while I'm taking most of the week off, I went into the office on Tuesday.  Shouldn't have bothered, our computer system was down and I wasn't able to actually do anything useful.

Jen is off from work, of course, whenever the schools are closed.  Ditto Drew.  And Becca took a few days of vacation. 

Drew and I like to look at Christmas decorations whenever we ride around the neighborhood.  th other night we came across this one:







Yes, that's Santa in the outhouse.    I guess he's only human...

Our synagogue had its "Third Night Out" program Monday night.  It's a big Chanukah party, there's food (latkes!) and music.  The fire department brings one of its trucks so the kids can see how things work.  The kids get to make dibble dreidels out of pretzel sticks, marshmallows and Hershey Kisses. Those of us on the social action committee collect toys for a local charity that services underprivileged children. 

I haven't been on target with the diet and exercise program.  I haven't even come close to the target these last few days.    But I am enjoying the holidays. Sigh.  I guess I know what my priority will be in January.

New Year's Eve will be here in a few days.  And then we can say goodbye to 2016.  It wasn't a bad year for me individually, but it's been brutal for us as a society, and I can't wait for this year to end and a new one to begin.

May 2017 be a better year for all of us.
 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Songbird loves the 80's: George Michael

So it was the 80's.  Degree in hand, I looked for-- and found -- my first full time job.  And my first apartment.  And a serious romance, one that led to marriage.

And the music...it was so different from what we listened to in the 70's.  Prince.  Madonna.  Cyndi Lauper.  The Bangles.  Hall & Oates. Dire Straights.  Huey Lewis. Duran Duran.

Music that was designed for the hot new medium, the music video.

And no one captured the era more than a British band called Wham!

George Michael's good looks, his dance moves, his fashion sense ... he was made for MTV.

Later he became a champion for HIV/AIDS charities.

He passed away on Christmas Day. 

but the music lives on.










Monday, December 26, 2016

The Friendly Greek

The Friendly Greek Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I think I'm in love.

It's called galaktoburiko. It's a semolina custard wrapped in filo dough.  It is the perfect dessert. Smooth, creamy, sweet but not overpoweringly so.  With a cup of coffee, pure heaven.

A perfect way to top off an incredible meal.

Granted, it was Christmas Eve, and we chose the prix fixe dinner, which was mostly American foods ... Appetizers included stuffed mushrooms, baked clams, hummus, grape leaves.  there was a choice of soup or salad, and we chose incredible seafood bisque.  Entrees included prime rib, broiled salmon, shrimp scampi.

Our waitress was efficient, friendly , even entertaining.  She even helped me choose a Greek wine to complement the meal.

No doubt we will be back to sample the regular menu.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Kenny Rogers: The Gambler's Last Deal

So every year, for the last 35 years, Kenny Rogers has done a Christmas tour.  And every year, for the last 35 years, Kenny Rogers has finished the tour at Westbury Music Fair ...er, NYCB Theater at Westbury...right here on Long Island.

In 2015, Rogers announced that his 2016 tour would be his farewell tour.  And that he'd finish the tour in Westbury on December 23. He labeled the tour "The Gambler's Last Deal".

Well, Drew is a huge Kenny Rogers fan.  So you know where we were Friday night.

A word about Westbury.  It's theater-in-the round.   A round stage, in the center of the room, a revolving stage so that the performers will face every audience member at one point or another.  Performers enter the theater from the back of the house, and walk down an aisle through the audience to take the stage.  The aisles are very steep, I avoid wearing heels when we see a show at Westbury.



When we saw Jerry Lewis at Westbury a few years ago, they put up a portable wall, blocking off a portion of the seating so as to convert the theater-in-the -round to a  thrust theater, so that Lewis didn't have to walk down an aisle, but could take the stage from a backstage area.  Easier on the performer, of course, but you lose entire sections of seating. And in a small venue like Westbury, that can be significant.



So when you remember that Rogers  has had a knee replacement and still has considerable difficulty standing and walking, it's remarkable that he chose to stage his show as theater-in-the-round.  But he clearly loves being on the stage and interacting with the audience.  He was in 7th heaven when the audience sang along.

He chatted with the audience, reminisced about his career, his days with the First Edition, then his solo career.  He sang most of his big hits, as quite a few Christmas songs as well.

Joining Kenny on stage was Linda Davis, a country singer who has had a few chart hits, who also performed with Reba MacIntyre, and whose daughter is Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum fame.  During the Christmas segment they were joined by the chorus from a local high school.

My pictures didn't come out great -- the lighting in the theater wasn't helpful -- but I thought I'd share the best of them:












Funny moment of the evening. No sooner did I "check in" to the theater on Facebook than my phone started to ring.   A friend of mine was also in the theater, she took her mom to the show.  She had no idea Drew and I would be there, and we didn't know she was going.

It was a great evening, and a great show.

But it's obvious Rogers is retiring because he has to, not because he wants to.  Sad...



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah


Hanukkah, a minor Jewish holiday, a festival of freedom (Definition of a Jewish holiday:  they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat.)  Candles in the menorah, latkes, dreidels, jelly donuts, presents, family gatherings.  Judah Maccabee and the miracle of the oil.

Hanukkah is an 8 day holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.  Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, Hanukkah can begin as early as the last week of November or as late  as the end of December, or any time in between.

This year the first night of Hanukkah coincides with Christmas Eve. 

Our December 25 dilemma:  Chinese food or latkes?

Yes, I know, it's a stereotype that Jews eat Chinese food for Christmas.  But it's a stereotype based in reality.  Drew and I and a group of our friends go out for Chinese food every year on Christmas Day.





Wasn't it only a few years ago -- 2013 to be precise --  that Hanukkah coincided with Thanksgiving, and we all bought a "menurkey" -- a Hanukkah menorah shaped like a turkey -- to celebrate the two holidays?


This year I've got a more traditional menorah, and blue and white candles to go with it.

The last night of Hanukkah coincides with New Year's Eve. We're going out with a group of friends. I've got dreidels and gelt (chocolate coins) for the whole gang.  Champagne and chocolate, not a bad combination.

I'm looking forward to a fun holiday.

Whatever holiday(s) you may be celebrating this season, I wish you joy and peace and love.

Friday, December 23, 2016

La PIAZZA

La Piazza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I recently had take-out from this restaurant, for an office lunch.  We chose La Piazza because of its interesting and substantial menu offerings, suited to a wide variety of tastes.  the lunch menu offers all the same choices as the dinner menu, but portions are smaller. 

Our order was delivered at the promised time and was 100% accurate. 

Food was fresh and tasty.  I loved my rigatoni fiorentina -- rigatoni pasta, chicken, spinach and mozzarella in a  pink sauce.  The pasta was al dente, the chicken breast moist and tender, the sauce creamy but not overpowering.

I wouldn't hesitate to order from La Piazza again.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

meow! catty and proud

Yes I admit it, I'm being catty.

Remember two years ago, Becca was planning to share an apartment with a girl she'd known since kindergarten.  They were best friends, it seemed like a perfect match.  And the whole thing fell apart just before they were supposed to sign the lease and move in, partially because of the girl, and partially because of Helicopter Mom. Helicopter Mom treated Becca very poorly.  Becca dodged a bullet.

And to rub salt in the wound, the other girl found another roommate and moved into an apartment six months later, months before Becca found a roommate and an apartment.

Needless to say, Becca is no longer friends with the girl.

It is two years later, and now I'm taking a weekly yoga class at the public library.  First session, I didn't know a soul in the class.

Second session.  Five minutes after class began, a woman came in, and with great show, she unrolled her mat ... and I thought "She looks just like Helicopter Mom!"

She was wearing white knit pants with a gaping hole in one leg and a faded tie dyed t shirt.

I wasn't sure it was Helicopter Mom, but then she told the instructor that she was a retired teacher, and then she introduced herself to another student.

I wasn't sure she recognized me...until the end of class, when she interrupted a conversation I was having so she could talk to the woman I'd been talking to.  She didn't  say a word to me,  And I had nothing to say to her.

Becca told me that her former friend is now living with a cousin, that her first roommate broke the lease and moved out after nine months.  I wonder why that happened...


And then she said "If Helicopter Mom asks, tell her I have the best apartment and the best roommate, and that clearly everything worked out for the best."

Helicopter Mom did not come to the third session.  I wonder if she'll show up this week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

songbird's comeuppance

When I was  a child and a teenager, I used to love watching all those Christmas specials on TV.  You know, Andy Williams.  Perry Como.  Bing Crosby.

All the stars my parents' generation loved.  I used to laugh, whoever would listen to Nat King Cole except at Christmas?

It wasn't until much later that I gained a real appreciation of the artistry of those performers.

And then one hot summer day, about 5 or 6 years ago, I was in a store, and a Carpenters song came on the radio.  I really love Karen Carpenter, she had such a warm, distinctive voice.  The songs were so beautiful.  "We've Only Just Begun", "Sing", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Superstar", and , of course, "Close To You".  I loved singing her songs in my junior high chorus class, because that was the only time we altos got to sing the melody. 

And while this beautiful Carpenters song was playing, I heard a young woman -- she couldn't be more than 19 or 20  -- tell her friend "It sounds like Christmas".


Of course it does.

And I felt old.


If you're a pop star and you want musical immortality, record a Christmas album.









Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Aki

Aki Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Billed as "Asian fusion", Aki is primarily Japanese, but also offers some Chinese and Thai specialties.

It's a pretty restaurant, the walls decorated to resemble the black and white paper walls found in Japan.

My experience with this restaurant is limited to take-out, so I cannot comment on the service.  But it's nice to find your meal all packed, including chopsticks and other niceties, and ready to go when you arrive.

Sushi was fresh, spring rolls crispy. Salmon teriyaki was perfectly prepared,   Hibachi shrimp came with fried rice and an interesting mix of vegetables.

We'll be back for sure.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Marley was dead, dead as a doornail

Yesterday I watched the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol.

Charles Dickens' message of social justice, of kindness and compassion, has always resonated with me.

But this year especially...

 A man lacking in compassion and human feeling.  Who prides himself on his business acumen.  A miserly skinflint who has made himself wealthy on the backs of the poor. And the miraculous transformation that turns him into the picture of generosity.

It's a story that has been told, and revised and told again. Henry Winkler brought it to Depression-era America.  Bil Murray brought it to a 1980's TV network. How any sitcoms did versions of it?

It's a timeless story.

Some of my favorite quotes:


“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” 


“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world—oh, woe is me!—and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!” 

“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.” 

“There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.” 

“Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was rich. In alms-house, hospital, and jail, in misery’s every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his prospects.” 
“the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” 

"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Lazy Saturday

There was snow on the ground when I got up this morning.  And a Star Wars marathon on TV.   A good day to stay inside and take it easy.

Though I did get a workout done.  I do enjoy Leslie Sansone walk at home DVD's.  Just because I feel lazy doesn't mean I have to sit on the couch all day.

Our New Year's Eve plans are made.  A group of us are going to a local catering hall, Sit down dinner, DJ, dancing.  Should be fun.

We're still working on Christmas.  I think we're doing a Greek restaurant on Christmas Eve.  And Chinese food on Christmas Day, of course.  the only thing we haven't figured out is which movie to see Christmas morning.  I'm thinking we might wind up at Rogue One (which is either a worthy addition to the Star Wars story or a total disaster, depending which paper you read).

We're also trying to arrange a mid week dinner with Jen and Becca and their respective boyfriends.  Drew met Becca's boyfriend once, but hasn't met Jen's boyfriend yet.  It's time.

So on this quiet Saturday I have much to look forward to, don't I?


Friday, December 16, 2016

Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



So we took in a movie at the Broadway Mall, and decided to try the new fast food restaurant.

Yes, Chick-Fil-A has finally arrived on Long Island.

The line for the drive-through was impossible, the line at the counter somewhat more manageable.  The menu is somewhat limited -- you can order chicken, chicken or chicken.

Grilled chicken nuggets were moist and flavorful, nicely seasoned.  There were numerous dipping sauces available.  The original chicken sandwich....fried chicken that was crisp and not greasy.  No wonder it is so well loved.   Waffle fries were a bit limp, I may try the soup or a salad next time.

Sometimes the little things are what impresses me most.  The condiments bar offered ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce, grape jelly and honey, as well as straws, napkins, hand wipes and place mats.  Yes, place mats.

Good location, decent food, little niceties.  I'm sure we will be back again.  But not on a Sunday, of course.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

another this and that

My friend L, the one dealing with the serious health crisis, called me again last night, left me a voice mail. She's now in a third hospital, being evaluated by yet another set of doctors, trying to stave off the inevitable.  She's become despondent, so needy...she mentioned wanting my skills as an attorney.  G-d help me, I have no real background in health care law, II hope I can give her some help, but ....

Meanwhile, I'm having heartburn over my own health insurance.  The company I work for merged into a larger company last summer.  The health plans we had at the smaller company are not going to be renewed, and we're supposed to get our new  (and presumably better) benefits from our new corporate parent.  Our health policy will expire 12/31, and the new plan is supposed to take effect 1/1, but as of today, 12/15, we haven't been given any enrollment materials, and we've been told that we won't be able to enroll until "after Christmas".  Our HR manager told us not to worry about a lapse in coverage, that the policies will be backdated and any expenses incurred after 1/1 will be reimbursed.  Please...I've been practicing insurance law for 32 years, I don't like the words "lapse in coverage", and the HR manager's assurances are leaving me cold.

I really need to see the options available to me, now that I finally can do without a family plan.  I kept both girls on my policy until this year.  But Jen turned 26 last month, she is no longer eligible for coverage under my plan.  Time for both girls to take that next step towards independence.

Jen didn't need my advice, she had two options: take her employer's plan or go without insurance.

But last week I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Becca, explaining the difference between an HMO, a PPO and a high-deductible policy tied to an HSA account.  This was her first time enrolling in a heath insurance plan, and she didn't know how any of the plans her employer was offering worked.  Her boyfriend's father told her to take the high deductible plan with the HSA, which would be partially funded by the employer, but Becca is a bit risk-adverse and opted for the PPO.

And having decent employer-based health insurance has become even more important now, in this political climate.  Who knows what will happen to the Affordable Care Act next year?  I did some volunteer work last night at our local Planned Parenthood (it's fun to stuff envelopes); the big concern is that the incoming administration will try to defund Planned Parenthood, leaving most of their patients, especially those who are on Medicaid, unable to utilize any of their health care services.  Scary, isn't it?

that's it, I just have to stay healthy forever.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Weight loss issues

So, this time last year I was struggling.  Weight Watchers, my weight loss program of choice, had changed, and not for the better.  I'd lost 42 pounds on the old program, but the new program had me frustrated and angry. At the end of December I finally made the decision to quit Weight Watchers and go it alone.

In the year since I've quit Weight Watchers, I've lost 30 pounds.  Not as much as I would have liked, but ...well, I've lost a total of 72 pounds, and that's not a bad thing.

I still have a lot more to lose, but that's OK.  I look better, I feel better, my doctor is happy.

My next goal?  15 pounds by Passover.  That's mid-April.

My tools for continued success include Fitbit, My Fitness Pal, Planet Fitness and my weekly  yoga class.

I can do this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What was, was...

So the other night Drew and I were watching a TV show, something he had recorded from PBS. It was called "Hugs and Knishes", and it was a discussion of Jewish food and family tradition.

Featured quite prominently in the show were two older Jewish celebrities, Tovah Feldshuh and the late Fyvush Finkel.  Each of them spoke about the foods they ate growing up, the family traditions associated with the foods, etc.  Each sang in Yiddish.

Towards the end of the show, Finkel sang something that brought tears to my eyes. He sang only the refrain, a brief moment... I remember my grandmother, of blessed memory, singing the refrain of that song.   It's a lament...Voz iz geven, is geven un nisht do..."What was, was, and is no more..."

How true...

I had to find the song.   Thank goodness for YouTube.





Monday, December 12, 2016

political action

Yesterday I formally joined a political action initiative, a grass roots organization that is growing out of the anger and despair so many of us feel as a result of the election.  We've all been chatting on Facebook for weeks, and yesterday we met to form committees and to plan our events.  In the coming weeks I will be very active indeed.

I cannot stand silent. I cannot be mute when the president-elect supports the leader of Russia and not the CIA, and  refuses to attend intelligence briefings.  When the president-elect chooses for his cabinet people who want to dismantle the agencies they are chosen to head.  When he chooses former generals for his cabinet to make us look strong, but undermines decades of bipartisan foreign policy with a single phone call.  I cannot stand silent when the number of hate crimes is steadily rising, when the president-elect's name is invoked to support those crimes.

I cannot, and I will not.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Miss Sloane (spoilers)

Well, you kind of knew I'd be seeing a political thriller sooner or later.

Miss Sloane is about a very successful lobbyist in a top Washington firm, who is asked to lobby for the gun industry.  Instead, she quits her job and takes a position with a boutique firm seeking to support gun control legislation.  The ensuing battle between Miss Sloane and her former colleagues involves strategy, intrigue and backstabbing, morality and ethics and questions of where to draw the line between the personal and the professional.

Sloane is a smart, ambitious, overachiever who is always one step ahead.  Even her own staff is never fully apprised of the next step. She is also neurotic, addicted to little white pills, and on a course of self destruction.  She is all about "winning" at any cost, even to the point of alienating those around her.

Ultimately Sloane's tactics result in charges against her, and a Senate committee hearing into her allegedly unethical operations.

Of course, there is a twist ending.

Well done film, definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Justice

“Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act” ~ The Talmud

And I refuse to be an accomplice. 

Hate crimes in this country have increased dramatically in the last year or so, and even more since early November.


The victims?  Muslims, people of color, Latinx, LGBTQ, Jews...anyone who is not white and Christian.

What was once in the shadows, hidden under hoods (both figurative and literal) has now come to the center.  The fringe element has now become the mainstream. 

I will not stand silent.

I once looked hate in the face...

Eight years ago, my synagogue was vandalized.  The hatemongers used spray paint to deface the outside walls of the building with swastikas and horrible phrases. The damage was done either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. 

When I drove over to the synagogue Sunday afternoon to see what  had been done, the hateful graffiti had been concealed by huge sheets. As I sat in the parking lot, staring at the sheets, trying to get my mind around the fact that someone had done such an awful thing to us,  I was joined by a guy in a pickup truck.  He asked me if I was Jewish, and when I said "yes", he told me he felt sorry for me because he hates Jews.  The detectives with the Hate Crimes Unit thought he must have been the perpetrator. 

That incident shook me to the core.  And it was nothing in comparison to what others have faced.

I will not stand silent.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

medtiation, mindfulness, spirituality, and the nice Jewish girl

It's interesting when two different parts of your life come together.

I have always been moderately religious, active in my synagogue, eager to learn the both the  rituals and the theology behind the prayers and practices. 

When Kabbalah became the "hot thing" (thanks, Madonna!) I started to do a little reading on the topic, but never really pursued the study of Kabbalah. 

Well, now I've gotten interested in yoga.  And all that goes along with it.  Mindfulness, meditation, connection to the universe.  The divine that is within all of us.

So, how does Jewish thought and prayer fit in with Eastern mysticism?

Believe it or not, I found the answer in my synagogue.

We got a grant this year, which we are using to explore Jewish mysticism, both traditional and modern, through a series of workshops.  Our Rabbi will cover traditional Kabbalah. 

And then there's the Awakened Heart Project.  We've had one program presented by Rabbi Roth, in which he used Torah learning and Kabbalistic texts combined with Buddhist-style meditation practices, and he even played his guitar.   I am enjoying my exploration their website. 

And then I learned about the Kirtan Rabbi.   He explains that Kirtan is a form of chant developed in India to increase participation, communal feeling and ecstatic communication with the divine. His version, of course, involves Hebrew prayers done in a non-traditional manner.  I downloaded the app, I want to explore his music. 

Wisdom, understanding, connection, peace.

Namaste.  Shalom.



Monday, December 5, 2016

'Tis the Season

Drew and I spent some time riding around the neighborhood.











 

 

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