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 CafĂ©.  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!