Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life is Good..the Festival

    "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it."  Maya Angelou

                 Not going to head to New York every weekend.  Don’t want Kristi to get sick of me and it can be a bit exhausting, running back and forth, but I’m not complaining!  As I’ve already said, to fill my time, and not sit around wallowing, feeling sorry for myself, (definitely getting tired of that) I have been doing some volunteer work.  For a couple of years I have been trying to volunteer at the Life is good Festival, and finally this year I made it.  Who doesn’t smile when they see any Life is good products?  I have been a fan for years.
             From the Festival Guide:  “The Life is good Company began with two brothers, $78, and an old van just biding its time.  One sketch and a good old house party later, the amazing optimism of Jake was born.  Today, Life is good is committed to spreading the power of optimism and helping kids overcome poverty, violence and illness.  100% of all the funds raised from this Festival will go directly to the Life is good Playmakers, our nonprofit committed to helping kids overcome poverty, violence and illness by partnering with the teachers, social workers, and other frontline professionals who dedicate their lives to care for them.”
                Life is good Festival has been held almost in my back yard for the last few years, at the Prowse Farm in Canton, right at the foot of the Blue Hills.  Saturday was dark and cool when I woke up, but wasn’t raining, thankfully.  By the time I got to the Festival, the sun was shining, and the rest of the weekend was the quintessential perfect Autumn weekend.

                       I was placed in a beverage tent, serving beer, wine , soda, and water.  How perfect a job was that for me?  Brought back many memories of all those basketball and football games when the Girls were in High School; although in those days, of course, there was no beer or wine involved (that’s when I could have used one!)

              The Captain of my tent was an awesome guy.  He has been working for Life is good for a relatively short time in New Hampshire.   A victim of corporate layoffs at JC Penney, he was working in a neighborhood restaurant where Life is good people come to play, and one told him of the opportunity at the company.   When he asked if anyone had heard of “The Secret” (the book by Rhonda Byrne that prompted me to have my “Winter in Manhattan Odyssey”), I knew this was a special man.  How any men read that type of stuff, and admit to it?!
                We had a good team that Saturday, another great guy, Jim, looks a bit like Santa and was the perfect “bartender” greeting and selling for the Kids.  There were many others, of course, but we felt like we created a great working core.  Jim and I made sure to get ourselves back into Mark’s booth for Sunday.  And, we hope to repeat it next year!
            Walking around on breaks, it was unbelievable.  It is truly a family event with lots of activities, games, PLAY, for the kiddos.  Parents were happy with the great music.  And, as I said the weather could not have been more perfect.  I’m hooked.

              Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds were the headliners for the Festival.  He was the last to play Sunday night.  My Girls always went to his concerts when they were in high school (so of course those were fun nights for me with the worry), now it was my turn to hear him live.  Pretty amazing.  All throughout both days, there were many other great musical acts, of course, including Dan Zane & Friends, Michael Franti, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Sarah Jarosz, and so many more.

                A truly wonderful weekend, I read in the Boston Globe $1,000,000 was made for the Life is good Playmakers to continue their amazing work.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Settling into "home" in New York

"I love grocery shopping when I'm home. That's what makes me feel totally normal. I love both the idea of home as in being with my family and friends, and also the idea of exploration. I think those two are probably my great interests."      Yo-Yo Ma
A shop in the neighborhood..gotta love the UES!

                   I’m happily settling into living in New York for the weekends.  Took a late BoltBus after work on Thursday night, and surprisingly was not alone.  Thank God I can sleep, or at least dose, most of the way.  Since it was a bit slow going and the bus didn’t get into Manhattan til 1:30am, I treated myself to a cab to our apartment.  (Trying to limit myself to cabs and stick to the MTA most of the time, though.)
            Slow to wake up on Friday, read the Boston Globe online with a cup of tea, Kris had an appointment in the Sutton Place neighborhood midday so I met her and we meandered all the way home along 3rd Avenue, poking around in the shops, learning our neighborhood.  And, treating ourselves to a lovely gelato!
Specialty Edibles
From their website
Kristi’s old Roommate was getting married that nght so she went home to get ready and I then headed over to my market, Agata and Valentina.  It was the start of the Jewish Holidays and fascinating to watch all the Ladies checking on their food orders.  There was a special on rotisserie chickens, and the nice young lad was actually cutting them up for people, so I joined the crowd.  What is better than that?  I got some spinach to go with it, cheese to compliment the crackers at home, and happily brought this week’s bounty home feeling like quite a New Yorker.  We both picked at the chicken all weekend, and a very proud Mom moment happened when Kristi told me that during the week she made a stock from the remains, and then a soup.         
New York Public Library - Grand Central Branch
Grand Central Library from Linda Y on Yelp
Kristi went off to the Wedding and I very happily stayed home and started to watch the show Everyone seems to love, Downton Abbey.  Saturday I woke up and went down to the Grand Central Library on 46th Street for a free yoga class at 11:00am!  Kristi had told me of free business classes the Science, Industry, and Business Library offers (that branch, is in Murray Hill on Madison @ 34th Street).  While perusing the New York Public Library website, I noted that there are many classes of all varieties, including these free yoga classes!
From Lynn N on Yelp
            It was a beautiful day so I decided to meander home, again.  It took me much of the day to make my way up to E79th Street, shopping along the way and picking up odds and ends for home.  I even stopped at the coffee shop in my “old” neighborhood, Orchard House CafĂ© on 1st and 58th.  It was awesome.  Once again, I happily bunkered down for the evening when Kristi left for work.
The Lowline Park Exhibit
            Sunday I headed down to the Lower East Side as I wanted to check out an exhibit of the new Lowline Park.  Much like the Highline is a park on an old elevated railroad line that winds up the West side near the Hudson River, the Lowline would be a subterranean park in an abandoned subway station below Delancey Street.  Cool concept.
A Lady Bather I encountered in Soho!
            I then meandered the streets and headed over to Little Italy for the San Gennaro Festival; and quickly meandered out.  I forgot the reason I don’t go to the North End Festivals in Boston.  They are crazy crowded with lots of food I’m trying to stay away from.  My walking took me into Soho where I decided to head back uptown.
Firenze from Yelp
            Did some writing and decided to treat myself to dinner before heading home on a late bus.  I walked around the neighborhood a bit and decided to try out a little Italian place on 2nd and 82nd, Firenze.  The construction of the 2nd Avenue Train line is under way again (has been off and on for many years) and it is really affecting many of the small businesses.  It was a real “old-fashioned” type of place where I had a delicious meal, and was taken very good care of.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Weekend "Living" in New York City!

           "All our Dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."  Walt Disney

            First weekend “living” in Manhattan for a year!  I went down after work on BoltBus Friday night. (I have booked BoltBus to try it out, 3 round trips worth of tickets for just about $100.  With BotlBus after 8 one way tickets, you get one trip free. So I have just 2 to go!) 
            Getting used to my late nights again in New York City. There’s truly something about that.  This city is just one giant night owl.  Saturday morning I headed out to take a walk along the East River and the skies opened up.  So, being right across from my new favorite market, Agata & Valentia, I went in for a cup of coffee (which came with 2 free mini-blueberry muffins!).  I picked up the neighborhood newspaper and happily read, while people watching. (Apparently I just missed a Robin Williams sighting as people right behind me were excitedly chatting about it!).  It continued to pour so I picked up some delicious chicken burgers stuffed with spinach and provolone, homemade tabouli and went home.   Read and visited with Kristi as she was beginning to stir from her night at work and we shared the bounty I had brought home.

Edouard Vuillard
"Some of the most bequiling paintings of fin-de-seicle Paris".  The New York Time..from the Jewish Museum website
            I then headed out for the day. First to the Jewish Museum (on 5th and 92nd), which is free on Saturdays.  There was an Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses exhibit which looked interesting.  I knew a bit about him, and I loved what I learned and saw.  He lived in the heyday of the Paris Salon world, and his benefactors, Misia Natansan and Lucy Hessel were two of the best “Society Ladies” of his times.  Oh my, how I would have loved to been a part of the Paris Salon world.  The company I would have kept: poets, writers (Colette), composers (Debussy, Ravel), theatre (Caruso), artists (Picasso, Laurencin, Cocteau), and designers (Coco Chanel)!   How much fun would that have been?!  (When I started Artemis Connections a few years ago, that was exactly what I envisioned, and dreamed of..)
          Leaving the Jewish Museum, I happily meandered the streets of the Upper East Side.  Oh, my, have you ever really just given yourself the time to do that?  The homes and buildings are truly magnificent.  I tried to get some pictures, but couldn’t capture any well with my trust-worthy IPhone (although, I must say, that little camera on my IPhone is pretty amazing!).  Passing a small gelato shop, Ciao Bella (E 92 between 5th and Madsion), I decided I owed it to myself. 
The Guggenheim Museum
Guggenheim Atrium
          Then I went to the Park and read for an hour while waiting for 5:45pm.  The Guggenheim (5th Avenue and 89thStreet) is pay what you want form then to 7:45 pm.  I was not alone with that plan, but thankfully the line moved quickly as the skies had opened up again.  The major exhibit was “International Abstraction 1949-1960”.  I finally decided, and accepted, that I am not a fan of abstract art.  I understand it’s blasphemous to not love Jackson Pollack, but there, I admit it.  There was also a major retrospective of a renowned photographer, Rineke Dijkstra, primarily of children.  Her work haunts and disturbs me, and makes me sad?  I did enjoy the museum’s own collection, a little of this, and a lot of Picasso, who I’m starting to like a bit better.  The Museum itself is something to behold, of course, being considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces.

The "Met" @ Dusk
                   From there I started walking down 5th Avenue, truly content. 
Passed by the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and continued to the Carlysle Hotel.  I had decided to treat myself to a glass of wine at Bemelman’s Bar in the Carlysle Hotel.  Ludwig Bemelman, the author of the Madeline series of books, painted a famous mural in the bar.  Beautiful.  I noticed a Woman sitting alone, so I asked if I could join her, and my one glass turned into a few.  But it was worth it, as we had a delightful evening together.  She is a psychologist with the Navy and works at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. (Thank you for that!).  She was in New York for a conference, and treating herself to a vacation her as she’s originally from the East, and went to college in Cambridge.

Interior of Bemelmans Bar in New York City
Bemelman's Bar from The Carylse Hotel website
              (At one point we both noticed an “elderly Gentleman” hanging around behind us…we had a good giggle acknowledging that with neither would he get lucky!  Full disclosure: I have always been boy crazy.  I remember chasing the boy next door when we were 4 or 5 and trying to kiss him.  His brothers would hold him down so that I could.  I have always been a boy watcher.  I now find myself checking out the 30 somethings..ewww, I know.  The 70-80 somethings may, or may not, be checking me out….so, there we have it!)
            After a wonderful day and evening, I happily went home!  Did I mention that this whole day was spent walking?! 

The King Cole Bar at The St Regis Hotel. Photo from Yelp
              My new Friend had another Bar she wanted to check out while she was in town, the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis, also adorned with a famous mural.  This one is by Maxfield Parrish.  Having been there I assured her it was wonderful.  We made plans to meet there Sunday @ 5pm before I headed home.  I enjoyed their tuna tartar as a light dinner before my bus ride.   We also chatted with another Lady, an ESL tutor living on Long Island.  I was able to make two lovely connections, sharing my business cards for Wild Berry Traveling, while having a lovely time!
TImes Square
Broadway on Broadway Stage
              Sunday was a gorgeous day and I didn’t want to waste a minute before meeting my evening date, so I willingly headed to Times Square as there was a celebration of Broadway on Broadway Hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford, excitedly pushing her upcoming show “Scandalous”, it was actually a great couple of hours!  Not too crowded, it was Times Square after all, but to be entertained with music and performance by shows such as Once, Stomp, Bring it On, Spiderman, Chicago, a Motown medley, and more on a late summer Sunday was wonderful.
                I then meandered home through a street fair that stretched for blocks in my neighborhood.  I used to be enamored of these, but now having been to a few, I realize that they all hawk the same stuff..jaded New Yorker already?!  I did, however, pick up a cute a bamboo plant for our new Happy Healing Home.  Learned that bamboo brings luck…definitely could use some of that, right now!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Labor Day 2012

            "Do not worry if you have your built castles in the air.  They are where they should be.  Now put the foundation under them. "  Henry David Thoreau

               With much trepidation, I started Labor Day weekend in a similar fashion as Memorial Day.  My trepidation this time was due the fact that I was driving a big van to New York City for our big move!  Thankfully, it was a breeze.
                Getting the drive over with, the move began, and reinforced that Kristi has a great community for herself here in New York.  On Friday, the plan was to move everything staying in New York from her old apartment to our “Happy Healing Home.”   With the help of a wonderful 
young Man (voted best Wedding Guest recently) it took about 2 hours, and went without a hitch.  I discovered that my parking gene works in NYC, even with a large van.  Thank goodness as I quickly 
Celebrating Move Part I
realized that no garages are big enough for the van!  Being a holiday weekend was definitely in our favor.

                Following that portion of the move, we headed across the street to our first neighborhood restaurant, Cascabel.  It is a great little Mexican place on 2nd Avenue and 78th Street.  So, of course, there were margaritas involved.  Spent the rest of the day and evening nesting, unpacking, and organizing.
                Saturday morning I meandered around the neighborhood walking just blocks over to the East River.  Finding East River DIner, on 1st Avenue and 79th Street, I had a lovely breakfast (omelet, hash browns, toast, and coffee) for under $10, and read for awhile, which is perfectly acceptable, almost expected, it seems.  I will have to have a routine like this on my weekend mornings as Kristi doesn’t  get home from work til 5am! 
                After breakfast I crossed the street to a market that looked interesting.  Oh my, it was and is.  It will definitely become one of my most visited places in the neighborhood.  Agata & Valentina is, simply put, amazing and wonderful.  I picked up food for our first dinner at our Happy Healling Home which we actually had on Sunday night. 
Don Pedro's
From Peter D on Yelp
Saturday at noon we finished the New York portion of the move by clearing out what was left in the old apartment and putting it in the van.  The great young Guy who helped us that day is actually from Brookline and went to college in Oregon with an extended family member!  The world gets smaller every day.  We celebrated that move with brunch at Don Pedros on 2nd Avenue between 96th and 97th, a great Dominican restaurant with bottomless sangria. (Although my sangria definitely had a bottom as I still had to get the van back to our new neighborhood and parked.)
Dusk in Centtral Park

Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Saturday evening I walked over to the Park (Central Park that is!) in the hopes that I might score a lone ticket to the last night of Sondheims’s “Into the Woods”.  That didn’t happen but I did explore some of the Park that I’ve never seen, including Belvedere Castle and the Delacorte Theatre where the play was and where Shakespeare in the Park is performed every summer.   Quick note: I was certainly not alone as I walked and Everyone who’s eye I caught  gave me a smile, which I very happily reciprocated.  Who says this is an unfriendly city?
Busy @ work
 I got a bit lost and ended up on Central Park West instead of the East side.  Not a problem,  I decided to check out Kristi’s new place of employment, Valhala, a  craft beer bar on 54th Street and 9th Avenue.
Sunday we continued to get settled, had that first dinner, and Kristi’s college roommate joined us for a housewarming glass of wine.  Monday we drove home to Milton, again easily and uneventfully, where my little home inherited yet more “stuff to be stored”.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Healing Home

                   "Above all , be the heroine of your life, not the victim."  Nora Ephron

Our Buildiing on the Upper East Side of NYC!
           A good Friend once said to me that we will only be as happy as our unhappiest child.  I thought she was brilliant.  It was many years before I realized it was not really her quote!  She’s still brilliant.
             No matter how old my Ladies get, I’m realizing this statement is true, for life.  My Girls and I have so much to heal from this year.  And, one of the things that my younger Daughter needed was a sane, clean place to live in New York City. (a tall order these days).  Well, I reached out to a lovely Lady I met during my “Winter in Manhattan Odyssey”.  Remember the Lady I met on the Brooklyn Foodie Tour?  I asked if she’d consider renting her UES (Upper East Side) apartment to us.  She loved the idea.

            Thus began our adventure into the Co-Op world of Manhattan.  Everybody has heard about how crazy it is, I assume.  I think of the Sex and the City episode where Cynthia Nixon’s character, Miranda, was on her Co-Op Board and they interviewed a Doctor played by Blair Underwood.  Hello, would there even be a question?!
            Well, we are not Doctors, and we’re not Blair Underwood, although one of us is an actor.  Anyway, the paperwork we had to fill out made college applications and the FAFSA (one of my most hated and frustrating experiences to date) look easy.  It seemed they wanted to know every penny I ever made and where it was.  Then the interview.  I had to take a day off work and go to NYC for it.  Being totally honest, the Lady who hosted the interview was lovely and we had a nice chat. She loved the fact that my Daughter was an actor/singer.  She also loved that we were sharing in this adventure together.  Then, the Man came, a half hour late, a frustrated comedian I think, and accountant by trade, he had major misgivings that our financial numbers didn’t make sense.  I had assured the lovely Owner that though it was a stretch for my Daughter and me financially, but that we would not have started the process if we didn’t think we could do it.  She was on our side.
Our first dinner @ Home!
            When we left the interview I felt like a helium balloon whose air had just been sucked out of it.  I didn’t think we were going to get the apartment.  We had dinner before Kristi went to work, and I jumped on a late bus home.  At the end of our meal, the text came.  We were approved for a year’s lease on a beautiful studio apartment on the UES!
            Labor Day weekend traditionally ends summer.  This year it was yet another moving one. (I do wonder how many times we as Parents will move our “Kids”.)  But, this time, it was a move forward for both of us, and hopefully Katie may reestablish her love affair with Manhattan by joining us sometimes in our little “Happy Healing Home”!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer 2012

                              "Do not dwell in the Past.  Do not Dream of the Future.  Concentrate the Mind on the Present Moment. "     Lord Buddha
                     With much trepidation I packed my car on Friday for my first weekend in Maine for the year.  My trusted red leather weekender bought on my 50th birthday trip to Italia, a cooler of food, some wine of course, and tubs, boxes, and packing paper (in case this was to be my final trip to my beloved pond-side cabin) filled up my trusty Rav as I headed north.  Thankfully, even though it was the official start to summer, Memorial Day Weekend, the traffic was flowing so I tuned out to the radio, sipping my coffee. 
It's not just the sunsets that entertain me!
                Don’t our little rituals comfort and calm us?  As I neared the NH Liquor stores I thought, don’t need to stop, I have wine for the weekend.  But, that’s been one of my most favorite of rituals, stopping to stock up for the summer.  Even Food and Wine Magazine rates it as one of the best wines stores in the country.  And, I do have my new “wine cellar” that has some empty spaces.  So, I pulled in, and smiled.  Each month they have specials, 15% off already good prices in a mix and match case.  You would have thought they were giving stuff away the store was so crowded, but everybody was still smiling!
Welcome friends
 On the road again after my stop to fill up my wine cellar, my breathing literally changed as I went over the Piscataqua River Bridge (or simply the bridge on Rt 95 from New Hampshire into Maine) as it always does.  That was a relief, literally.   As I neared Portland, and got closer to one of the best Christmas Tree Shops there is, I decided to continue with my “beginning of summer rituals”, and stop in.  A happy shopping cart later, I was on the road again.   As I hit Gardiner on Rt 295, my foot on the gas pedal pressed down a bit harder, as it always did, as I knew I was getting close! 

                Passing all the, oh so familiar, landmarks actually were comforting.  I though as I always do, how can another year have gone by?  And, this one has been one of the toughest of my life thus far.  God help me, how many tough years does my little Family have to endure?  Pulling onto Pleasant Point Road (formerly, and in my mind, always, Fire Road 9) I literally held my breath.  As I rounded the corner and caught my first glimpse of Webber Pond for the year, I cried, but I quickly realized they were tears of joy, of peace, as this wonderful pond has brought me so much peace over the last 21 years.
                Finally, “home”.  Took a deep breath, walked in, and immediately started putzing!  Oh, I love it here.  I literally savored my first sunset of the summer on Webber Pond.  I decided that I would come to Maine many weekends this summer.  I allowed my little cabin to envelop and comfort me as it has done for 21 years.  I cuddled with my Puppy and swam with her in the Pond, read, wrote, walk, did yoga on the deck, aet, drank my wine, enjoyed my friends, and watched my sunsets.
              Now I am ready for my next adventure...