Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012

         "I am seeking.  I am striving.  I am in it with all my heart."  Vincent van Gogh

Sitting in my dining room in Milton watching the snow fall, it is beautiful.  Home this New Year’s weekend as Kristi is giving my Cousin’s Daughter a belated 16th Birthday gift, a weekend in the Big Apple, just the two of them!  And after a grueling 9 hour drive home Wednesday (more on that later) after Christmas in NYC for 5 days, it’s good to be here catching up a bit.

Photo: Our NYC Christmas!Last Friday, I drove down to NYC as I had gifts, food, etc for the long Holiday weekend.  Also a tough drive as it was a pelting rain all through Connecticut (which is the majority of the drive to NYC).  Still making good time as there was almost no traffic, my parking gene was in order, and I parked exactly where I wanted to so as to just walk away from the car til I was ready to come back to Boston again.  Don’t you love when that happens?!

After unpacking the car, Kris and I walked around the corner and bought a small Christmas tree for our Hx3.  We decorated our tiny space and headed out to get a bite to eat before she had to go off to work.  We found a great place less than 2 blocks away, Jaiya an Asian restaurant on 2nd Ave between 80 and 81st Streets, and had a wonderful 2 course lunch for under $10 each!  Wonderful. 

"Duplicate of a pic taken 20 years ago!
I napped off and on and then headed over to meet Kris at work at Valahalla after midnight.  We got another quick bite eat an Irish Pub where Kris often goes after work.  Then we meandered 5th Avenue.  What a treat to be alone on that beautifully decorated street at Christmas (although to do that it must be in the middle of the night!).  Did learn an interesting tidbit..the lights on the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller are not on all night..they must be on a timer just like ours used to be in Milton!
Bryant Park

Dessert @ Bocca Di Bacco
Saturday got a very late start (I definitely don’t stay up til 4am anymore, for Kris it’s a normal routine).  We again decided to share a bite to eat before she went to work.  Surprisingly we had difficulty finding a place in our neighborhood, not serving yet or too crowded.  So, we headed over to midtown on 9th  so she’d be close to work and just “found” another great place, Bocca Di Bacco between 54th and 55th Streets, an awesome brunch for under $12.  Brunch is an institution in NYC and many places offer “unlimited” cocktails, usually bloody Marys, mimosas, etc., for a set price for a couple of hours. Then I simply took a walk meandering through Bryant Park and its Holiday Market, over to Grand Central to check on my friends at Tuff Kookooshka, and again went home to simply relax.  Wonderful.
Sunday, Kris once again went off to work the day shift.  I picked up the Hx3 and waited for Katie to arrive from Boston.  We then headed out to have a long leisurely walk to meet Kris, stopping at the small neighborhood place I’ve been wanting to try (and the day before discovered they only serve coffee and pastries til 3pm, then late lunch and dinner), Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger on 3rd Ave at 74th Street.  It is amazing, though I’ve not been to Paris yet, I feel as though it’s pretty close to a true Parisian Bistro (unfortunately they don’t have liquor yet but the French onion soup and simple salad we had was awesome!). 
From there we walked to Alvin Ailey on the West side at 9th and 55th to discover that the actual show was down the street at CitiCenter, a beautifully restored theatre on 55th  between 7th and 6th Aves.  The Dance was gorgeous.  Needing sustenance, again, walked up to the Time Warner Center and had a wonderful dinner at Landmarc.(known for its steak and great wine prices!).
Monday, Christmas Eve, we headed down to Chinatown where we indulged in amazing massages at Relax Spa (which we discovered 2 years ago for its Foot Reflexology) on Hester and Centre Street.  $50 for an hour!  Then we walked across the street to the Red Egg, for my first experience with dim sum.  Great fun! 
Photo: Viola St Christmas Reunion in NYC!!  Xoxo
Christmas Eve dinner was shared with the Family who lived next door to us when I was alone raising the Girls.  All 3 of the “Kids next door” live in NYC and are in the Arts, the “Boys” as Dancer/actor/teaching artists, the “Lady” works at Signature Theatre.  Must have been something in the water in that neighborhood!  It’s been twenty years since we all lived next door and we all connected like it was yesterday.  Who says you can’t “go home” again?!
Photo: It's like Christmas!! Christmas Day we wonderfully never got dressed. And, Mom, me, cooked a very nice Christmas Dinner, if I do say so myself in our tiny kitchen.  That evening we threw on comfort clothes and went to the opening of “Les Miserables”, the movie.  The show that started Kristi’s love affair with theatre, it’s been one of our favorites for over almost 25 years!  Quite an experience going to a movie opening in New York City; I highly recommend it!
Wednesday we slowly got ourselves in gear to head home, first having a comfort lunch at Big Daddy’s Diner, again around the corner on 2nd Avenue.  It was an epic drive home, 9 hours in blizzard like conditions at some pints, spinning out and hitting the guard rail not once, but twice, but able to drive home! (God love my 17 year old Toyota Rav 4 w over 215K miles!).  I did find out that there is some damage, to be dealt with…
(So, once again, a lesson my Mom taught me that is never to be ignored…go with your Gut in all decisions..I thought that perhaps I should stay on Route 95, since it’s the coastal road…but instead I went Route 91 to the Mass Pike, as we had checked online and it reported clear and steady…forget the internet..Go with your GUT!!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Season 2012, Continues..

"You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."  Mohandas K. Ghandi

                Christmas time.  Oh boy, all the carols and songs playing 24/7 everywhere tell us it’s “the most wonderful time of the year.”  Perhaps.  For some.  But when life is in turmoil, it can be a very tough time of the year.  And, having promised myself I really don’t want, or need, to get political publicly, I am finding myself more and more frustrated by our great county’s 2nd amendment.  The right to bear arms, as our Forefathers voted, I don’t think meant for mentally challenged or disturbed individuals to have access to semi-automatic weapons to kill innocent Angels and their Caretakers.  For so very many lives in Connecticut shattered, I don’t know if Christmas time will ever be “the most wonderful time of the year” again.
Draught list.
            On that note, I arrived late in Manhattan after a very long week.  Needing to see one of my own “Angels,” I went up to Valhala (54th & 9th) to see, and hug, Kristi.  I had a quick bit to eat there, and headed home to the Hx3.

Santacon 2012  .  SantaCon 2012 is hitting the streets of New York on Saturday for its annual pub-crawl. The holiday ritual, where thousands of revelers dressed in Santa costumes tour the cityÕs bars .   New York Manhattan Pier  84  West Side Hwy.Saturday, December 15 2012 .( Marcus Santos for the New York  Daily  News)
by Marcu Santos for The New York Daily News
            Saturday I worked again at the Grand Central Holiday Market.  I never get tired of that beautiful building.  All day we were entertained not just by the beautiful musicians, by the hundreds, probably thousands of Santas, Elves, and various other incarnations of the North Pole who roamed Manhattan.  Santa con.  What started a few years ago by a roaming few doing a pub crawl, has turned into thousands of young Adults on a drinking spree throughout the city.  Cute, and fun at first sighting, not so much a few hours into the day.  (Not sure how all the visiting Kiddos felt about seeing so many Santas. Etc, not acting very good, but quite naughty..).  Kristi has a class on 9th Avenue that has a great view and she said it was kind of awesome looking out onto a sea of “Where’s Waldo” Santas..(didn’t take a picture, unfortunately).

Campbell Apartment decorated for Christmas
            Finally, Lisa and I were able to have a nice drink at one of my favorite places, The Campbell Apartment, in Grand Central Station.  So during her adventure helping Anastassia with Tuff Kookooshka, I have been able to share my three favorite places for a cocktail with her!
Rum and Blackbird Tasting Tours        We then went down to the Lower East Side, to meet her Niece and Husband for dinner at a new restaurant on Orchard Street, Todd’s Mill.  It was excellent.  We shared a number of small plates and wonderful wine.  Delighted to meet both Eric, a voice coach and pianist; and Maura, a true foodie entrepreneur who has a walking food tour company, Rum and Blackbird.(
            Sunday I met my Landlady, Diane, her partner Chris, and good New York Friend Judy for an early lunch at a small neighborhood Chinese restaurant, Sunny’s on 3rd Avenue between 80th and 81st.  Really good, and cheap!  And, I came away with the potential of a new friend who is willing and able to introduce me to the Jazz scene of New York, her passion.  One thing I have not explored yet, and have been wanting to!
Hacc Holiday Concert 2004            Rounding out the weekend before I headed home, I got to a Christmas Choral Concert in Chelsea.  I met Muriel at the Signature Theatre when I went to see Eve Ensler’s “Emotional Creatures.”  She is a member of a chorus, the New York City Community Chorus at Holy Apostles. (  Perfect way to end my weekend in Manhattan at Christmas time!

(Check out my website:  There is a Holiday Gift you are welcome to download on the site!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First Two Weeks of the Chrstmas Season

        "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."  Charles Dickens

                 The year of firsts...I knew the Holidays were going to be tough but didn’t appreciate how much they’d potentially set me back.  Still fighting the good one, though, and marching forward!  I purposely made myself very busy, and it backfired a bit, but one of the empowering things of this experience is learning, and accepting my limits, and knowing when to bow out, gracefully, of commitments. 
The Ladies @ Tuff Kookooshka's Stall
The last two weekends, I have been able to soak up a bit of the beauty of New York City at Christmas time.  I’m actually immersed in it by working for Anastassia at her Tuff Kookooshka booth at Grand Central’s Holiday Market.  It has also reassured me that retail is not for me anymore.  I did overdue it a bit, worked too much, but learning my limits.  After the Market closed on Saturday night, Anastassia and I treated ourselves to a delicious dinner at one of my favorites, L’Ecole @ the French Culinary Institute on Broadway in Soho..

                This past weekend was begun again at Grand Central, but at the Apple Store learning a bit about my new phone.  Doing some crazy things this year, this week’s episode was trying to launder my phone.  Scary feeling. not being able to call people, as I cancelled the landline earlier in the year.  Still on the fence as to whether I’ll keep the IPhone 5 I rashly? bought in the crisis.  As it was luchtime I went to the Grand Central Food Court, tons of choices, and enjoyed a delicious salad at Cafe Peppe Rossi.
Christmas Tree with Neapolitan Crèche                I then finally treated myself to the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I actually joined for the year as they have a special membership for People who live more than 300 miles away.  (even if it is five blocks from the Hx3!).  I thoroughly enjoyed the Matisse and Andy Warhol exhibits.  And, of course, the magnificent Christmas Tree.  That was enough for one day, the Met is best enjoyed in small doses, I believe.

                On my way to work Saturday  I went first to Bloomies (Bloomingdales) to see their window display, this year it’s based on Cirque du Soleil.  I had to give to the Salvation Army as one of their Soldiers was quite a treat with his routine!   I then made my way along Fifth Avenue.  If that doesn’t put you in the mood for Christmas nothing will.   Gorgeous.  Will do it again at night when the lights will be magical. 

                It is interesting being at Grand Central as you meet people from all over the world, and, get to appreciate how cultures are truly different from each other!   I also got to meet a Lady who lives on my street in Milton!

Photo: First Fire of the Season!             After work, Anastassia and I went back to She and Lisa’s awesome home for two months in Soho, where we had a lovely home cooked meal with lots of wonderful chat.  Thanks, Ladies!  Sunday was another grey day.  So, Kristi and I treated ourselves to a lazy one, ordering in food, having our first fire, catching up on some tv, and simply being.!             

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend 2012

            "Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder." 
                                                            Henry David Thoreau 

           Another major milestone passed, Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for so much.  I planned on flying to New York Friday.  Running away, maybe, but I’m just more at peace in New York right now.  Oh, what drama I created getting here!  Kristi was staying home for a couple of extra days for her 10th high school reunion. (How is that even possible?)  She kindly got out of bed early to drive me to Logan.  As I walked up to the Lady @ the JetBlue counter to get a pass to get through phone that has my license with it.  I do not lose things like this..OMG, it is truly the small things that will break me.  After craziness, drama, tears, a ride back to Milton, only to find out some kind soul had found my phone and given it to a JetBlue representative, back to the airport, and a very kind Matthew from JetBlue gave me my phone and walked me through security.  I made my original flight after running through the airport OJ Simpson style to get on the plane at the last minute.  I am grateful.
Outside IWM            Years ago, someone had lent me the book “Passion on the Vine” by Sergio Esposito.  "Passion on the Vine is a spellbinding memoir; a vivid, funny, and yes, passionate tale of family, food and wine."- Jay Mc Inerney.  Sergio Esposito has a wine store near Union Square in New York City, Italian Wine Merchants, 108 East 16th Street.  I have been on his email list for awhile.  Going to his store for an event, or to buy wine has been on my list for awhile.  But, nothing he does is inexpensive.  Earlier this week I got an invitation from the store to come in on Black Friday for a free tasting!  So I did.  It was a very enjoyable hour tasting wine, having some wonderful cheese, and chatting with typical New Yorkers (even if two were actually French).

            From there I actually entered the Black Friday madness to poke around Nordstrom Rack, and came away with a Christmas gift.  Then I meandered around the Christmas Market in Union Square not finding anything I couldn’t live without.  I decided I owed it to myself to have a nice dinner.  I took myself to Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café.  It was amazing the one time I went years ago  It still is.  As always, had a nice chat with my bar-mate while thoroughly enjoying a glass of sparkling wine from Schomberg Vineyard in Napa; to my broccoli soup with goat cheese crostini; then to continue the Thanksgiving theme, butternut tortelli with cranberries along with a glass of Chablis.  Wonderful.
tuff kookooshka          Saturday I meandered to the Grand Central Station’s Holiday Market.  I am going to help Anastasia and Lisa on Saturday afternoons at the Tuff Kookooshka stall!  If you have young children in your life, check them out.  Or, if in you’re in New York City, stop by.  All products are USA, actually Massachusetts made!  The fleece is Polartec from Malden Mills, and produced by seamstresses in Fall River.

Campbell Apartment decorated for Christmas 
           While waiting for Lisa and to finish up for the evening I finally got into another of my favorite places, The Campbell Apartment @ Grand Central.  Enjoyed some peace and glass of Proscecco.  I had a Blackboard Eats code (like Groupon, but free!) for Inside Park @ St Barts’s, 325 Park Avenue, which gave us a free bottle of wine and charcuterie plate!   We had a thoroughly delicious dinner.  One last stop, I shared another of my favorite places for an after dinner cocktail, the King Cole Bar at the St Regis Hotel, as it was close by.  Being artists, I knew the Ladies would enjoy it.           
                Sunday, and I am wiped out.  Giving myself the day to relax at the Hx3 with Kristi.

(If you know of anyone needing guidance on travel to New York City, please refer them to:   Thanks!)

Friday, November 23, 2012


                                          Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
                                     It turns what we have into enough, and more.
                 It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
            It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,and creates a vision for tomorrow.

                                                                - Melody Beatti

            As I sat on the bus after work on Friday, I started into a mini-panic attack.  What am I doing? Why am I running to NYC every weekend? Am I crazy?  I listened to my Nephew's sermon, and dozed, and got to NYC an hour late due to ugly traffic around a gruesome traffic accident. On the taxi drive “home”, I started breathing easier passing familiar, now beloved, landmarks.

Getting to the apartment, I found nothing interesting to eat, so I decided to pop out into the neighborhood.  I went over to Luke’s Grill on 3rd Avenue, between 78th and 79th Streets, typical, small, hometown type pub, offering comfort food.  Perfect.  Until a very drunk Lady arrived and screamed her profanity laden thoughts on everything from politics to NYC.  Guess who she sat next to?  I calmly entertained her, for which the bartender poured me a glass of wine.

        Saturday I got up and headed up to Harlem to the George Bruce Branch of the New York Public Library for a free two hour Microsoft Excel class.  I earned from a lovely Lady exactly what I wanted to, how to set up a simple budget worksheet for myself.  From there I headed to the Bushwick area of Brooklyn for an art installation.
Morgan Street Subway stop in Bushwick from Ilona Gutcher
          Making Nothing Happen: The Strange Poetics of Barry Duncan, Master Palindromist (and his friends).  From the flyer: “The very first gallery exhibition of Barry Duncan, the world’s greatest palindromist will be producing in real time a master work of artistic/poetic reversibility in situ…Using the adage of W.H. Auden that “poetry makes nothing happen”, we will treat the gallery space as a beehive  of poetic activity..the gallery will try and make visible the act of poetic process through art.  Emmy award winning Michael Rossi will be documenting this event on film for his forthcoming film on Duncan, The Master Paindromist, (see the trailer for this at “

       Very interesting afternoon, and I got to explore a bit of New York City that I had never been to.  Bushwick may be one of the final frontiers of gentrification in New York.  One word comes to my mind, gritty.  If you’re a fan of street art, graffiti, I’d recommended getting there to see it, as it is interesting, and everywhere.
tuff kookooshka       On the way home, I popped into Grand Central Station’s Holiday Market as a dear friend is working there for the season.  She’s helping her Friend with Tuff Kookooshka, a children’s clothing line totally made in the USA, Massachusetts actually, including Polartec fleece from Malden Mills in Lawrence! (

    On the way home I popped into my neighborhood favorite, Agate and Valencia, and picked up dinner.  A nice surprise awaited at home, Kristi, so we shared my bounty before she headed off to work.  Stayed in and happily created my first excel spreadsheet, and relaxed.
      Sunday, I was up and out early, and finally had a nice long walk along the East River.  I had volunteered through Volunteer Match (a great site I found while web-surfing, and they do not require any orientation).  I went to the Linda and Jerome Spitzer Home on 61st Street to help prepare a Thanksgiving Feast for Seniors.  I confused the Doorman and myself upon arrival when asking for the apartment of Mr and Mrs Spitzer.  They do not live there, it’s the building name!  It’s an apartment complex for low-income Seniors.  I always wondered how Seniors could afford Manhattan.  Now I know, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty ( is one organization that tries to keep them from being displaced.  They have a few buildings around Manhattan, and its Burroughs.

       I spent a lovely morning preparing vegetables with a varied, and great group of Ladies.  Stefanie, a young woman who graduated from UMass Amherst with my Daughter (and remembers Kristi’s roommate from a class taken together as she loved Tamar’s name!), is the Volunteer Department Manager of the Met Council.  Monita, was our chef du jour who just left Martha Stewart’s Magazine as the recipe tester, to be on her own as a Culinary Freelancer!  Monita’s Sister, Niece, and French-born Friend rounded out our group of workers.  I would love, and hope, to meet and work with these Ladies again someday.
Quatorze Bis       On the bus ride home, I noticed my Friend, Lisa, had texted.  She had the day off from the Holiday Market.  So, She, Kristi, and I explored yet another neighborhood restaurant, Quatorze, on 79th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, very quant, and nice,  if a bit on the pricier side.

       Again, Kristi headed off to work.  Lisa and I decided to have a drink at of my favorite “new” places, Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlysle Hotel.  Being an artist, I knew Lisa would love the murals from the Madeline series.  A truly lovely couple of hours before heading home on the late bus.
        I am reassured as to why I’m heading to NYC most weekends.  As Barry, the Palindromist, asked me at his show, does coming down exhaust, or energize me?  Definitely, energize, and heal.  Thank God!

(As always, if you or anyone you know needs guidance or infromation while traveling to Manhattan, please go to my website:  Thanks!)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back to Manhattan after Sandy

"It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and what id sone in love is done well."  Vincent Van Gogh

           Back to Manhattan after Sandy, and it’s amazing.  New York City is a truly resilient beast.  Thankfully, Hx3 was not affected at all, no power was even lost.  (Kristi was able to reach out to friends living in the East Village to give them a place to shower.)
City Hall Park
            I had a chance to get to Lower Manhattan as I went to an orientation for New York Cares.  (Similar to the organization I have done a lot of volunteer work with in Boston, but older, and bigger.)  The offices are in the Financial District a few blocks away from the miraculous St Paul’s Chapel.  When I picked up a few things at Century 21, they were doing a dollar for dollar match for donations for victims of Sandy.  Impressive.
Boat Basin in Central Park
            Friday night before Kristi went to work, we had a bite to eat across the street at Sojourn, one of our homes away from home.  Delicious as always.  I hung in that night as I arrived quite late the night before.
Jazz Performers in the Park
            Saturday I had tickets for Eve Ensler’s new play.  It was grey but mild so I decided to walk through Central Park as the first annual Jazz and Colors (30 Bands, 30 Locations, 1 Set List) was taking place.  Central Park has been closed twice for a few days each in the last couple of weeks, first because of Hurricane Sandy, then due to a Nor’Easter one short week later.  There was still plenty of color left on the trees.  A beautiful walk surrounded by awesome jazz…doesn’t get much better than that!

Jazz Performer in the Park
       Eve Ensler has written yet another provocative, moving, and disturbing play in Emotional Creatures, the secret life of girls around the world.  The cast of young Women was amazing.  It is playing at the new theatre complex, The Pershing Square Signature Center which is a great space.  After the play I decided to indulge myself with a glass of wine and a light bite at their bar.  I ended up spending a lovely couple of hours chatting with another interesting New Yorker, Muriel, who had taught in High School, and actually performed in showing of Ms. Ensler’s most famous play to date, The Vagina Monologues.  My new Friend is like me in that she has a passion for travel, so we swapped stories a bit.  Since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped into Valhala to have a quick visit with Kristi before heading home.
The Film Center on 9th Avenue

            Sunday I had been invited by Alex, a regular at Valahala to join in an International Food Tour of Hell’s Kitchen.  His company, Manhattan Walking Tour ( ) is the official tour company for Times Square with its office actually located in the information office at Times Square.  I actually got to meet the founder of the company, Gary as he was giving this tour.  His love and knowledge of his home town, and in this case, his neighborhood, was apparent as soon as I met him.   It was a wonderful few hours on a perfect fall day spent with a really great group of people.
            Home to spend a few hours in the Hx3 with Kristi before heading back to Boston for another work week.

Check out my website:  And, perhaps refer a friend, or family member if they need guidance for trips to New York City?  Thanks! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Boston Book Festival 2012

                             "There is no friend as loyal as a book."  Ernest Hemingway  Similary:
 "If you have a book, you always have a friend."  Miss Kurpeski, my Girls' Kindergarten teacher

Trinity Church from my office window!
            Stayed home last weekend, to give Kristi a break, and enjoy Hx3 alone for a bit!  A few years ago, I had another wonderful young Lady in my dental chair who was the Director of the Boston Book Festival.  (Aren’t I lucky to have so many interesting Patients?  And, to have made such good friends with many of them as well!  A friend likes to remind me that this is not normal..)
Copley Square and Boston Public Library
            Finally, last year, the timing was right, so I volunteered at it.  (My young Lady was no longer the Director, as she went to work with a family business, but as fate would have it, she was back in the office this week!)  I was fortunate enough to spend the afternoon in Trinity Church.  I had worked directly across the street looking at its beauty and Copley Square for 4 years, and I finally spent a whole afternoon there!  This year’s Festival was timed perfectly for me again, so I spent yet another afternoon there last Saturday!

Trinity Church, Boston, MA
Trinity Church reflected on the John Hancock Tower
            The Founder and Director, Deborah Z. Porter welcomed all to the Festival with these words: “Welcome to the Fourth Annual Boston Book Festival, a celebration of the power of words.  Once again, we have assembled a diverse group of authors and thought leaders-both established names and up-and-comers-to inspire, provoke, stimulate, and entertain festivalgoers                                                                             of all ages and interests…”
            I’m getting good at crowd control.  My loud mouth is definitely being put to good, positive use, finally.  There were two sessions that I worked at, and at both a nice Lady sat in the back pew, right next to where I was doing my work.  During my stint in the second session, when I had a second, I quietly asked her if she was sick of listening to me?  She responded by saying how impressed she was with my patience!  For those of you who know, and hopefully love me, that was quite a compliment!  You can learn and grow virtues!
            Both of the sessions were interesting.  From the Festival Program: THE BRAIN: Thinking About Thinking.  Eric Kandel applies his famous work on memory, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 2220, to esplore how the mind perceives art in The Age of Insight.  Ray Kurzwell, arguably one of the world’s most provocative futurists, looks at how our increasing ability to reverse-engineer the brain will lead to ever more intelligent machines in How to Creat a Mind.  Each author will give a mind-blowing presentation, followed by Q & A.  Hosted by Sacha Pfeiffer, WBUR’s host of All Things Considered.  Sponsored by Good Measures.
Trinity Church Sanctuary
            “           Political Culture.  An election year seems like the perfect opportunity to assess the state of political culture in our country, and let’s begin by saying the news is not great.  Jon in the discussion with some veteran observers, including political philosopher and author of What Money Can’t Buy, Michael Sandel; Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy, author of The Persistence of the Color Line; Harvard law professor and activist Lawrence Lessing, author of Republic Lost; historian and journalist Nancy Cohen, author of Delirium The Politics of Sex in America; and founder of Common Good, Philip K. Howard, author of The Death of Common Sense.  Moderated by Tom Ashbrook, host of WBUR’s On Point.”
Copley Square and Copley Plaza Hotel
             Most of the offerings at the Boston Book Festival are free.  It is held at venues surrounding Copley Square with entertainment and stalls set up in the Square itself.  It happens in October.  Watch for it next year.  I highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why do vacation weeks go by so quickly?

                                 "Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip." ~Author Unknown

                Why do vacation weeks go by so quickly?  As I write this I am a few hours from leaving our Happy Healing Home (to be referred to Hx3 furthermore) to head back to Boston to “reality”; one that still takes my breath away when I dwell on it too much.
Things seen while meandering...
A few weeks ago, I met an interesting Patient.  She is a freelance writer who owns a condo on Commonwealth Avenue, and recently spent 3 months traveling around Europe house-swapping.  Something that you know would pique my interest!  She told me about an organization, Meet, Plan, Go! “At Meet, Plan, Go! we are leading the career break movement in North America; encouraging and teaching others how to travel the world and have it be beneficial to your career. We envision a world where the term ‘career break’ is a part of your overall career strategy.”  My Patient invited me to join her in October for their national event in Boston, but I would in New York.  So, I went to the New York meeting at a Hostel on the Upper West Side.  Very interesting evening. (My Cousin has been a pioneer in so many ways!  She did this in her Twenties,and also introduced me to House-swapping well before the movie, “The Holiday”.)  Our Hx3 is my version of a career break for this year..but then who knows?!
In research to try and get Wild Berry Traveling off the ground and viable, I met with three lodgings relatively close to Hx3.  I like to build relationships, and prefer smaller Inns and hotels when I travel, so I thought for my business, I’d prefer the same.  So many people, myself included for many years, stick to Midtown Manhattan when they come to New York City.  It’s crazy there, all the time.  The neighborhoods have so much flavor, character, and are quieter!  And, if I have clients stay closer to myHx3, it would work better for all concerned.
Lia at 1871 House (139 62 Street between Park & Lexington); Deanna at Affinia Gardens (215 East 64th Street  between 2 & 3rd Avenues); and Daniel  at Gracie Inn Hotel/B&B (502 East 81st Street between York and East End Avenues ) were all so kind to give time out of their very busy days to meet, greet, and show me their respective lodgings.  I hope to do much business with them in the future.
Thursday and Friday nights of my vacation I was once again thoroughly entertained by Original Bindings Productions presentation of NAKED THEATRE, one act plays about being emotionally exposed.  (Kristi sang between each act.)  I have managed to give out many cards for Original Bindings in my travels of the city, as many people I meet love finding small productions.  It’s not always about Broadway!

On my way to theater on Friday night, I went via Grand Central to see: The Start of a Giant Pumpkin Masterpiece Featuring the Largest Pumpkins in the World!   Friday, October 19, 10am–7pm @Taxi Stand (43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue).  Master Carver Ray Villafane of Food Network fame and his team of carvers begin to transform these massive pumpkins into a life-size zombie. An intricately carved, glowing 1800+ pound pumpkin, one of the three largest in the world, will also be on display. Spectators are encouraged to pose with the enormous pumpkin for a fun Halloween photo op! 

While there I decide to treat myself to one of my favorite cocktal bars, The Campbell Apartment.  Inside was a zoo, but during good weather seats are added outside.  Since it’s been an almost perfect weather week, and I know the end is near for being outside in the evenings, I happily found a seat.  And, had a wonderful conversation with yet another interesting, lovely Lady!  (She has asked if we may consider dog-sitting for her Puppy in her waterfront home in Williamsburg!)

Saturday I had bought a Daily Candy special with for a Chocolate Walking Tour in Soho.  Our guide, Bob Gelber, is a registered New York City Guide who has created a new niche for himself in retirement!  He has a small company,, as well as being very involved with Big Apple Greeters, Open House NY, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Foods Tours of New York.

From Mariana S on Yelp
Bob gave us a delightful Chocolate filled tour of Soho, visiting Marie Belle (484 Broome ST.), Vosges (132 Spring St), Kee’s Chocolates (80 Thompson St), and finally, Jacques Torres (350 Hudson Street).  Never thought I’d say something like this, while wonderful, got chocolated out!

Twighlight on the High Line
The High Line
Since I was on that side of the city, I meandered through the West village and the Meat Packing District until I came to Gansevoort and Washington Streets, the southern tip of the High Line Park.  The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure the High Line is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy. In addition to overseeing maintenance, operations, and public programming for the park, Friends of the High Line works to raise the essential private funds to support more than 90 percent of the park’s annual operating budget, and to advocate for the preservation and transformation of the High Line at the Rail Yards, the third and final section of the historic structure, which runs between West 30th and West 34th Streets.
Did you know no 2 bridges in Central Park are alike?
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Resevoir
               Wonderful, beautiful way to end a great day, I went home thoroughly happy and exhausted.  Sunday Kristi and I took a nice long walk in the Park, Central Park, that is.  Tremendous way to end my first full week in New York living in our Hx3!

Check out my new website for Wild Berry Traveling!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Very Special Day

     "Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes."
                                                                                              Charles Dickens

                Some days are so special, they warrant their own post.  Wednesday was that kind of day.  The weather this year has been wonderful, hasn’t it?  My first full week in New York City this year has not disappointed in that regard.   It has been a perfect Autumn thus far.  Not wanting to waste it, I decided to head out to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. 

            Grand Central had sent me an email about a special Martha Stewart “American Made” event in the Vanderbilt Hall.  For two days, we're bringing the pages of Martha Stewart Living to life, with editors, experts, and American Made honorees showcasing the season's best artisanal and handmade crafts, gifts, food, DIY projects, and design.” Since I had to go through there to catch the Metro North train to the Botanical Gardens, I stopped in and poked around.  Interesting, you can always find some unexpected happening in this city!

            It was an easy, comfortable ($11 round trip) to the Botanical Gardens, just 3 stops from Grand Central.  I never think to use my AAA card when buying, or traveling, I need to do it more, as it gave me $4 off the $20 entrance fee.  On Wednesdays and Saturday mornings from 10-11 a.m., the grounds of the Garden are free, but I specifically wanted to see “Monet’s Garden exhibit, so I happily paid the admission. 

            What a beautiful setting!  Almost immediately, I came upon a gorgeous sculpture, Butterfly, by Manolo Valdes, which I quickly realized was part of his Monumental Sculpture exhibit for the Botanical Gardens.  From the Garden’s website: “Drawing inspiration from the Garden's natural landscape, acclaimed Spanish artist Manolo Valdés brings seven towering sculptures to five distinctive sites in a captivating showcase of the relationship between art and nature.”  As I roamed around I came upon all of his beautiful pieces.

Haupt Conservatory
            Before heading into the Monet Exhibit, I decided to get a bite to east.  The Garden Café was a delight.  I had a bowl of potato leek soup, half a chicken salad sandwich, and a cup of lemonade for under $9.  (wine and beer are also available, but too early for me)  Taking advantage of the gorgeous day, I ate on the patio.
            Then I headed into the truly beautiful Haupt Conservatory which housed Monet’s Garden exhibit. Monet wrote to his friend Paul Durant-Ruel in 1890: “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”  And to his stepson, Jean-Pierre Hoschide, “My most beautiful work of art is my garden.”

Elizabeth Murrays' Photos of Giverny
From the Exhibit
 The Curator, Professor Paul Hayes Tucker of the University of Massachusetts Boston is the world’s leading Claude Monet scholar and an expert on Impressionism.  He and his team definitely achieved their mission of creating a stunning tribute to Monet and his beloved gardens.  Included in the exhibit were two rarely seen paintings of Monet’s, one of which has never been seen in the U.S., along with historical photographs in the Rondina and LoFaro Gallery.  Photographs of Giverny, Seasons of Giverny, images taken by Elizabeth Murray, hung in the Ross Gallery.  A wonderful Impressionistic afternoon!
Po from Sarah B on Yelp
                                 From there I headed to Greewnwich Village as I had a Northeastern Cider and Cheese class booked at Murray’s Cheese on 254 Bleecker Street.  Kristi was in the area, so we met for a quick bite.  What we fell upon, literally, across the street from Murray’s on Cornelia Street was Po, one of Mario Batali’s first restaurants.  We shared Po cured tuna, white beans, artichokes, chili-mint vinaigrette followed by Pappardell, braised duck ragut, washed down with a glass Falanghina wine.  Delicious!
Murray's Cheese Shop
We bid farewell till later.  Kristi went off to rehearsal, and I back across the stret to Murray’s.  From it’s website: “Our mission is to bring you the greatest cheese selection while staying true to our Greenwich Village roots. A New York City landmark since 1940, we search the globe to find the tastiest cheeses and specialty foods for New Yorkers and the entire country to enjoy.”  I have been a fan for years, and always wanted to take one of their classes.  Discovering it was Cider Week in NYC, what better time or place?
Aaron Foster, head buyer for Murray’s Cheese, and Ezra Sherman of Eve’s Cidery in the Finger Lakes District of New York guided, and entertained, us through a couple of hours of great cider and cheese.  As a matter of fact, two of the cheeses we tasted were from the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont, one of the proud recipients of Martha Stewarts’ American Made Award!  It was a delightful evening.
Days don’t get much better than this one!