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!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Birthday Road Trip

                          The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and        lie about your age. ~Lucille Ball

                 Road trip for Katie’s Birthday weekend, I’m delighted she decided to come to NYC to play with us for her Birthday!  We drove down together after work on Friday and actually made pretty good time.  I was nervous as the week before there had been a 45 mile backup on the Mass Turnpike, but we had no real issues.
Bocca East
from Joe M on Yelp
                By the time we got to our the Happy Healing Home and unloaded the car (took advantage of it and packed it full!), we were hungry.  Deciding to be real New Yorkers, who eat late, we set out.  Stopping in first at Sojourn across the street, it was too crowded so we just walked.  It took a block to find something interesting .   We poked into Bocca on 2nd Avenue and 78th Street and decided to stay.  Sitting at the bar we thoroughly enjoyed our shared salad, and a pasta dish for each of us.  Delicious, not too expensive, and a block from home.  Perfect.
                Saturday, we dragged Kristi out of bed and went for a very long walk in Central Park.  It was a gorgeous autumn day.  Looking for the chrysanthemums I had heard so much about we walked along the resevoir up to the Conservatory Garden @ 105th Street.  Never found the mums, but oh my, the gardens are magnificent.  We came upon  a couple of weddings, gorgeous.   After two hours of walking we decided we owed it to ourselves to have a lovely lunch/brunch @ Cascabel Tacqueria on 2nd avenue & 80 Street, around the corner.
                Kristi then headed off to work where upon Katie and I hunkered down to started a Downton Abbey marathon.  After watching most of Season One, we dragged ourselves off our respective perches and had a long, leisurely walk to Valhala, on 9th Avenue and 54 Streets to visit with Kristi.  Finding ourselves hungry we then moseyed along 9th looking for a bite to eat, and literally bumped into “the Girl next door”” from home.  She and her Brothers, along with my Ladies, fell in love with the arts together, with “Dirty Dancing” being a major instigator.  Her Friend recommended a great little place, Hourglass Tavern on Restaurant Row, W 46th Street, where we had another wonderful late night supper.  We closed out the evening back @ Valhalla waiting for Kristi to get off her shift.
                Sunday was a truly decadent, luxurious day watching all of Season two of Downton Abbey in our pj’s eating all the comfort food I brought from home.  It was a perfect Birthday celebration for Katie which gave us a restful place of mind to start Monday with a bang.
                 We had a our noon date with Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus at Columbus Circle.  A Public Art Fund Exhibition (www.Public, “Tatzu Nishi is known for his temporary works of art that transform our experience of monuments, stautues, and  architectural details.  His installations give the public intimate access to aspects of our urban environment and at the same time radically alter our perceptions.  For his first public project in the United States, Nishi was chosen to focus on the historic statue of Christopher Columbus.”    It was very cool.  After climbing five stories, you walk into a living room with the statue of Columbus being the focal point.  The  views from the living room window were amazing.
                Following that interesting experience we became “Ladies who Lunch”.  We went across the street to Nougatine @ Jean George on 1 Central Park West and had a long, decadent lunch, with wine, of course!  One of the most renowned chefs in the world offers a 3 course lunch for $33 that is amazing in a lovely environment.
                Very happily satiated, we walked long the Park and ambled into the Plaza for a post lunch glass of champagne.  Too crowded.  So, I took my Ladies to one of my favorite places a few short blocks away, the King Cole Bar at the St Reis Hotel on 55th Street between 5th and Madison Avenues.  Awesome.  However, major awkwardness ensued when two Ladies on either side of us who we were happily chatting with turned the conversation into a political one, diametrically opposed from each other, it got interesting, quickly.  So, not only Men do that.  We abruptly bid our adieus and left
                Kristi had to go out to Westchester for rehearsal for an Original Binding Production show later in the week.  Katie and I went home and rested.  Once again, rising to the occasion we went out for yet another late dinner.  Katie found a sushi restaurant she had visited with her College Roommate’s Family.  This time we had to walk three blocks to Sushi of Gari on 78th Street between 1st and York Avenues.  This was the real thing, not supermarket stuff I buy on the way home from work!  Really great, interesting, and beautiful! (if not cheap.)
               We joined Kristi at Sojourn, right across the street from home, our new Cheers, where Everyone’s learning our names!



Monday, October 8, 2012

Allowing myself to be

East River...3 blocks form home
"Spend the afternoon.  You can't take it with you."
                                                                   Annie Dillard, writer

                Allowing myself to be….a New Yorker?!  When I shared with a Patient all the things I was doing during my “Winter in Manhattan Odyssey”, her response was: “That’s great, but you know New Yorkers don’t do that, right?”  (She still owns, but rents, her UWS apartment.)  I admitted that yes, but I had set an example with my Roomies at that time and made them take more advantage of what NYC has to offer!

            Now, since I have a year (although already a month has flown by!), I don’t feel as compelled to be “out there” every moment.  Arriving to the apartment around 1:00am Friday, Kristi was right behind me as she worked the early shift!  So, we sat up chatting (and yes, drinking some wine) for a couple of hours.  But that’s a huge point to this year, as well, healing, and being together.
East River @ twilight

Kristi was up and out fairly early as she actually went home to Milton for a fund-raiser for a dear friend who was tragically killed a couple of years ago.  I had the Happy Healing Home to myself.  I read, wrote, researched some goings on in the city, and got very lazy.  If anything, I’m finding there’s too much to do in this city I’m loving more each week!  Finally, at around 6pm, I made myself get dressed and get out.  None of things I researched got done.  But I did my meander my neighborhood, loving the possibly last summer like evening for the year.  
Sojourn fro our window
Being very hungry, I decided to treat myself to the restaurant literally outside my window, across the street.  I am so glad I did!  Sojourn (79th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) is wonderful.  It seems to be a happening spot for the younger crowd based on the noise with our windows being open.  But early (especially by New York standards) it’s great.  As always when alone, I sat at the bar and had a lovely chat with a Lady from the neighborhood.  She proceeded to introduce to me to Everyone, so I now have my place where people have learned my name!
Mike Kelley's Memory Ware
Saturday I had booked another afternoon with New York Gallery Tours ( Rafael Risemberg had chosen the Upper East Side, my neighborhood, so it was especially enticing.  I had the added pleasure of finding the Lady who first introduced me to Raphael’s tours, the photographer Robin Platzer (Twin Images).
James Rosenquists' Meta Universe
                It was a wonderful few hours.  Rafael had chosen 4 Galleries in mansions, one in a carriage house, and 2 in traditional spaces.   One of the mansions was actually the site of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Wedding Reception.  What a treat!  This time I really liked most of the art. 

Jean-Michael Othoniel (my favorite)
After the tour I went to Midtown to pick up some information for Wild Berry Traveling at the official NYC Information Center   ( on 7th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets.  There are a few other locations in the city as well.  Being in the neighborhood, I decided to try my luck for tickets in for the Book of Mormon lottery.  (2 ½  hours before each show you can enter the lottery which is 2 hours before…great seats for well under the going ticket price, right now only $33).  Alas, no luck again.  Decided to pop in and see Kristi at work at Valahalla (on 9th Avenue @ 54th Street) for a bit.  
Karin Kneffel
O Zhang's I Am Your Mirror
Sunday became another lovely lazy day.  We did throw clothes on to go across the street to Sojourn, this time for brunch.  We decided we will become regulars! 

Monday, we both worked!  I started working on my website for Wild Berry Traveling, and if I do say so myself, I'm liking it and am quite proud of myself! (with lots of help from Kristi!)

Le Moulin a Cafe
From Tina C on Yelp
Before heading home, I had the hankering for French onion soup.  So I researched on Yelp and found a little bistro, Le Moulin Cafe, on York bewteen 76th and 77th, 4 blocks away!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Another Music-filled Weekend

       "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you imagined." 
                                                                   Henry David Thoreau
Original Binding Productions, Inc. Logo
Original Binding Production Inc Logo
  Another weekend filled with music, this time back in New York City.  Kristi was invited to be a founding member of  Original Binding Productions Inc.  From their Facebook page: “Company Overview:  A not-for-profit multi-media production company with a focus on community and nurturing the growth and performance of original work.”  I have been very fortunate to attend a few of this amazing group of artists’ productions.  This last weekend of September they staged “Paul Caron’s Acoustic Cabaret”.  It was a remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable production.  And yes, Kristi sang!  (Another thing I’m learning is that there are theatres tucked into every neighborhood of New York, in many unassuming places.)
Concert Stage
            Saturday I had another amazing adventure.  I spent the day at the Great Lawn on Central Park volunteering for the Global Citizen Concert.  Years ago, when I brought a dear Friend and two of her Daughters to New York for their first adventure here (I’m the only person she trusted enough to do this!), one of the Girls asked how I knew so much as I shared little tidbits of history, and trivia about New York,  I replied, reading.  That is how I food out about this concert.  I cannot remember for the life of me where I read about it, but when I did the week before the concert, I sent an email.  Simple as that, that is what I have started to do for many things.  When I see something interesting or worthwhile, I ask to volunteer. It’s awesome, especially since I’m on a tighter budget now.  Win-win, I spend enjoyable time with interesting people, helping in my small way.
Directing VIPs

           From their website: “Global Citizen ( is a tool to amplify and unite a generation’s call for justice. It’s a place for you to learn, and act, to bring an end to extreme poverty.

Global Citizens know that a world that deprives 1.3 billion people of their basic rights and opportunities is unjust and unacceptable. We celebrate the efforts made to cut extreme poverty by half, but recognize more still needs to be done. We know that people living in extreme poverty are working hard themselves, and that we need to learn and take action to change the rules that trap them in broken systems.

We use Global Citizen to learn more about issues, so we can take effective action for change and find opportunities to support campaigns and organizations creating sustainable change. Right now Global Citizen is in launch phase, but in coming weeks and months it will feature new issues, with the latest information and action opportunities, so you can take effective action for change.

Every person has a part to play in writing the story of the end of extreme poverty. Become a Global Citizen, and start your journey here, today.  Global Citizen is powered by the Global Poverty Project. We're a not-for-profit organization whose vision is much like yours: to live in a world without extreme poverty. (”

            Sunday, both of us being exhausted and bone tired from our busy weekends, we cocooned in our Happy Healing Home, reading, chatting, and ordering burgers from bed!  We ate them on the couch, though.  I’m a true New Yorker now!