Sunday, February 24, 2013

Writing, Comedy, and Art

                                      "Black is the queen of colors"  Auguste Renoir

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
From Phil U on Yelp
Another tough week, physically, and an easy ride down to NYC, I arrived to chat with Kristi and fall into bed.  Saturday we woke to a rainy, dismal but mild day.  It seems most Urban dwellers spend a lot of time at and work in coffee shops.  Kristi has found one near the Hx3,  Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (3rd and 83rd), which is a company that actually started 50 years ago in Los Angeles.  Their claim is that they created the Original Ice Blended Drink in 1989, thus starting the frozen coffee drink craze.  Well, it’s a nice place with very friendly employees.  I thoroughly enjoyed their chai tea latte, raspberry croissants, and oatmeal cookies (had throughout the day!)  I spent most of the day, surrounded by others, working on my Uncle’s letter to my Grandmother.
Dinner from Eli's
Walking home (just a few blocks), I decided to check out Eli’s (Nora Ephron shopped here, so if it was good enough for her..).  It’s another amazing New York City food mecca.  A bit pricier than my other favorite, Agata and Valencia, I still managed to pick up dinner (sushi), breakfast (apple turnover), and light dinner for Sunday (pumpkin/butternut squash soup, crackers and cheese).  Popping into the wine store next door, W.I.N.E., I rounded out my order with a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
From their Website
Feeling the real to need to laugh, I treated myself to a comedy show Saturday evening.  Getting to the show was entertainment in itself.  The 6 Train is not running downtown at my stop, so I took it up a stop as what?  A woman about my age  explainedwe must now take a bus to 59th and transfer.  So up to the street we went bus..finally we decided to share a cab..Anna lives on my street, and has a Daughter with a restaurant on the LES.  We exchanged information, and perhaps yet another friend made?  When Anna got out in Midtown, I continued on with our lovely Cab driver. We had a great chat, his story: been in the NYC for 19 years, originally from Ghana.  He has 8 children ranging in age for 5-27!  His oldest has his MBA from Johnson & Wales, working for Bank of America in Rhode Island.  Not the first time I have been lucky to hear of the true recent Immigrant experience in the Boston-New York area.
Truth be told, the show at Eastville Comedy Club (E4th Street between the Bowery and 2nd Ave) cost me $4!  I joined a “seat-filling club” for a few months in New York, and it was the first time I finally took advantage of it.  It won’t be the last.  I was thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours by Judy Gold, Harris Stanton, my second favorite Gary Peter, and Janeane Garofalo whom I have had the pleasure of seeing in the past.
Chika @ work
My wonderful treat
Since I was in the East Village I decided I owed it to myself to go to Chikalicious, an amazing dessert restaurant on E10th between 1st and 2nd.  Amazing place.  And, I was treated very nicely indeed.  It was a three course dessert that began with a small glass of Proscecco while I waited.  While waiting for my dessert (I love to sit at the bar and watch Chika in action), I was given a tiny bowl of jasmine sorbet with a banana-lime mix.  Then the main course followed, an awesome warm chocolate tart with pink peppercorn ice cream and red wine sauce with a lovely glass of Churchill Graham Reserve Port.  This was followed by a dish of tiny petite forts.  Wonderful.
A sculpture gallery @ the Met
Impressionism Fashion and Modernity
From the Met's Website
Sunday I awoke to a quiet Hx3, as Kristi was at a retreat for Original Bindings Productions.  I read my paper, did some more writing, and then went to the Met (love saying that, the Metropolitan Museum of Art) for the members’ opening of  “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity”.   It was mobbed but excellent.  The beauty of having a membership to such a wonderful institution is that you don’t feel like you’re wasting your money when you go for just one exhibit! (much like having a season ski past, in the old days).
Home again to share a light dinner, and chat, with Kristi.  Now, off  to catch my bus back to Boston, yet again!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hey Jude...

       "Hey Jude, don't make it bad.  Take a sad song and make it better."  The Beatles.

It truly pays to be nice!  One thing I know to be true is that People respond positively, always, to a genuine smile.  More and more I am learning that small acts of kindness have real rewards as well.  Nemo, the Blizzard that brought me to my knees in the loneliness department, also showed me that People are generally good.
I couldn’t get out to work until Tuesday.  Due to the condition of the sidewalks and roads in Boston, I decided to park close to my office.  Wrong decision, all my standby lots and then some were full.  That had never happened to me.  So, I went back to my preferred lot in the South End. (Preferred because it’s cheap, $12! And it gives me a mile walk to and from work.)  It was full, too.  I guess this was a good time to not have a polker face as I must have looked how I felt, about to cry (from frustration).
Not the first time, my wonderful Parking Lot Man, Jude, said “Wait”, and he pulled his car out of a spot and gave his now vacant spot to me.  Another Lady watched as my Jude had sent her away due to the full lot.

A bit of history, the week of Christmas 2011, I gave Jude an extra $3, and said, “Merry Christmas”.  He explained that he did not celebrate Christmas, and I said, “Happy Holidays, then!”  You would have thought it was a million$.  A few times after that, I just told him to keep the change when I gave Him $15.  I didn’t know I had made a friend.
One late morning (2-3 days a week I work 9am-5pm, 2 days I work noon-7pm) last spring I again pulled in and saw lot was full.  Jude came out smiling (he always has a big beautiful smile) and told me to wait.  He went to his car and pulled it out of his space.  Another young Man was working that day.  He asked me if I was very important for Jude to be doing this for me?  That nice young Man also got a few $3 tips over the past year and these wonderful Guys take good care of me.
This week on Tuesday, a week and a half after Nemo and following another weekend snowstorm that gave the Boston area another 5-6 inches of snow (so much for the easy winter we thought we were having), I pulled into the South End lot and Jude was not smiling when he said he had no where to put me.  The next day Jude was smiling again as I parked and was profusely apologizing for Tuesday when I said that was unnecessary.  I explained that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I work late and totally understood.  Thursday when I pulled in, the lot looked full, I was driving out when Jude stopped me and brought me to a spot he has saved.  I now have a true Friend!

Loved every single one of these bread and pastries!
From Popsilkiezs on Yelp
Front of the restaurant
From Ed U on Yelp
I’ll give one more, quick, example of the power of simply being nice, and the rewards reaped.  Years ago I brought a good Friend and her Daughters to New York City (a common theme in my life).  We were staying at a cool B&B in the East Village.  On Saturday we had plans to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  We slept through breakfast so we meandered over to Soho, to Balthazar, an awesome, very popular French Bistro.  There was a huge line.  I asked the Host, calmly, and I guess very nicely, if he could give me any idea of how long the wait was, explaining I understood how frustrating that question was to him.  He looked at me for a second, told me to wait, he took a walk around, and then brought us to a table immediately.  Yes, Balthazar in Soho, New York City.  Never forgot that lesson.  Obviously it’s still working!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back to New York City

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful."    Ralph Waldo Emerson

A MUST when you arrive in New York, server is friendly, I enjoyed the envorinment. Comment by a vistor from CA
Valhalla's with 48 beers on tap
Finally, back to New York!  I feel like it’s been forever.  Got on a late bus after a grueling day at work on Thursday (but managed to sneak in a glass of wine at Sorisso near South Station first, and perhaps did some networking for Wild Berry Traveling?!).  After an uneventful ride where I as always, gratefully dozed, I met Kristi at Valhalla, a craft beer bar, (9th and 54th)  where she was finishing up her shift, got a light bite to eat, and chatted with her co-workers and regulars.

Fennel with cream cheese and white grapefruit
Duck with cabbage, brussels sprouts, and prunes
Lamb with curry, quinoa, and winter preserves

Walnut with raisin and parsley root
Friday I slept in a bit and dove into the work I had started on almost 40 years of letters from my Uncle to my Grandmother.  When Kristi came home from work we headed over to Brooklyn.  A friend from her Esca days opened a restaurant in Williamsburg about a year ago, and delightedly for Carl, it’s been getting great press,  such as Best New Restaurant 2012 by Esquire Magazine!  Gwynnett St is amazing (312 Graham Ave (347)889-7002,                            We highly recommend it! 
handcrafted beautyAfter a very luxuriously long dinner with Carl and Friends we decided to continue our night in Brooklyn and headed to Park Slope.  Another great Friend of Kris’ was tending bar at the Backyard (388 5th Avenue, (347)227-8018,  for the evening.  We had missed the rush so we spent a fun couple of hours with Alex.
Saturday we slept in, again, and spent the day cocooning together.  We were true New Yorkers and ordered brunch in from 3 Star Diner (1st and 76th).  I still get a rush when we do this, that we can do this!  Kristi worked on launching her business, Wicked Organized NYC, and I continued on Uncle John’s letters.  It is totally different to have another Body present when you decide to cocoon.  As Kris said, it takes you out of your own head.  So true. 
HiberniaAt around 2pm we meandered out and took a long walk through Central Park (bumped into a Young Group singing beautifuly, I taped it, but can't figure out how to dowload it!) to Midtown to do a few errands.  We then popped into Hibernia (9th and 50th) for a decadent order of nachos.  Home again we came for the evening, doing some more work.  At around 9:30pm we went around the corner to Citarella’s (3rd and 76th) to pick up some groceries (we decided we prefer Agata and Valencia), popped into McCabes for some wine (3rd and 76), and got some fruits form the vendor on the corner.  And, People wonder why I love NYC?
Sunday we never got dressed continuing with our work and being very productive!  Finally at around 9pm we again ordered in and had a wonderful dinner courtesy of Tiny Thai (83rd and Lexington).  I could get very used to this. 
It’s now Monday.  I am writing, relaxing, and will get a bite to eat in the neighborhood before I catch my 6:30pm bus to Boston.  Glad to be back to NYC and the Hx3!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

NEMO, the Blizzard of 2013

 "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
                                                                                                                  Winnie the Pooh
Outside my living room window as Nemo began
          Being the responsible grownup that I am, I rescheduled my Bolt Bus tickets for New York on Wednesday due to the impending snowstorm, which forevermore will be known as Nemo, the Blizzard of ’13, the 5th largest one in Boston history.  Just ask any Weatherperson from here to Timbuktu, and they will tell you it was one of the best weekends of his/her life.  I know this for a fact because many years ago I had one such Man, one of Boston’s favorites still, in my dental chair as a patient.  He was truly a nice guy who waxed euphoric over winter storms.  It drove his family crazy!  I haven’t been to NYC in almost a month due to a Family Christening, a Dental Convention in Boston and now Nemo (yes, the 5th largest Blizzard in Boston history was named for a Disney movie about a fish that put dentistry back 100 years..another story for another day…Okay, apparently I’m not the only person perplexed by the naming of this storm as it was Googled very heavily over the weekend..Nemo also means “no one” or "no man” in Latin..makes more sense naming it after the cute Fish in the opinion wasn’t asked.)
Another shot from my living room
            I took my wonderful Boss up on his offer on taking Friday off (albeit unpaid).  Friday morning I felt like a kid again, SNOW DAY!  After a Doctor’s appointment in the morning (which had been rescheduled from late afternoon so they could close early) I went to “the Plaza” (South Shore Plaza that is, not, most unfortunately, that magnificent hotel in NYC..I have other great stories about the Plaza when I got lost there at the age of about 5. and also about the Plaza Hotel..) to get a coffee maker.  A little history here, Monday morning on my way out the door for work I broke the coffee pot while washing it.  When I mentioned it to a patient he commented that I was going to have to buy a whole new maker.  I said, “Oh, no, I'll just get a replacement pot”.  After tea Monday through Wednesday mornings (prefer coffee, but this is not a major problem in the scheme of life), I went to my favs after work Wednesday night: BJ’s, Ocean State Job Lot, and Christmas Tree Shops on the hunt for a replacement pot…No pot, but I did manage to come home with supplies for the storm: candy, wine, and my new addiction: Aged White Cheddar Pirates Booty..They have it @ BJs in the gigantic bag for only $5!!.
My very cute home @ the start of the storm
(Another quick story: After my first divorce, yes I can now count my divorces, or impending ones, proud admission?! from this “good” Irish Catholic Girl..God, please do help me..One of my best Friends from High School asked me how I had gotten through it, as “Everyone” had been so worried about me.  I admitted, the good honest Girl that I am, jelly beans, yes, there, a proud member of the Dental Hygiene profession for 36 years admitted to it..Boy, this is better than confession!  Don’t get me started..It was the 80’s, Reagan was in office, so it all made perfect sense..This time it’s Aged White Cheddar Pirates Booty and wine, although being very careful with that, being alone and all..)
The woods on the way to the Dump, er Golf Course
           Thursday night on the way home from work I stopped into another fav (aren’t I lucky to have so many?!) National Wholesale Liquidator in Dorchester at the site of the old Bradlees (I miss Bradlees).  They had a pot, for $10!  Friday morning I got up happily starting my SNOW DAY with coffee…it was awful, the pot really didn’t fit the maker…

Back to my hunt for a coffee pot at the Plaza (mall not hotel).  I can’t remember the last time I was there.  For, besides the above mentioned fav stores, my others are TJ Maxx and Marshalls (great story about the TJ’s in Dublin..but I do digress..).  These days, truth be told, I am trying not to shop much anywhere except for necessities (see above).  But coffee is also one of those, to me.  So off to Macy’s.  My Mom always tells me that you can get great deals in these places, and it’s true, especially on a day of a blizzard..tried on some clothes, that I don’t need, and thankfully nothing looked good.  So into house-wares I went and received some of the best service of my life from a very bored lovely Lady.  I got a new coffee maker, by-passing the Cuisnarts for the Bella, as I am Bella, and it was cheaper.  Lovely Lady told me about a fantastic sale they were having on some products, so I happily, officially, started my Christmas shopping.

Woods again
            Home I came, now giddy.  Set up my new coffee maker, and watched the snow start to fall.  It was, for once, doing exactly what the WeatherPeople said it was going to do.  The first few hours, it was beautiful.  It was the kind of snow that quickly covered the trees so perfectly (didn’t think about the fact that it also covered wires, etc leading to blackouts..which truly gratefully I didn’t have to endure, unlike 500,000+ of my Massachusetts neighbors).  Capturing the Ansel Adams in me, I got dressed for snow (I still have the ski parka, etc, even if I retired from the sport after blowing out my ACL/MCL in Tahoe years ago..I am giving myself all the gd permission in the world to digress..I have been, and am still, snowed in, alone, since’s Sunday).

Woods yet again
My favorite New Family
            With my now beloved IPhone camera, I walked up the street to the old dump, which actually since I live in Milton, was called the landfill in the old days.  It is now part of a gorgeous golf course that bumps onto the Blue Hills Reservation Land.  This is one of the beautiful facts of Milton, but which also lends to the fact that it has a 97% residential tax base which explains why property taxes are so high..(digress, digress)..As I walked through the woods I quickly realized I wasn’t alone.  I scared the s... out of the lovely young Mom I bumped into.  Her Husband and 2 Kiddos were ahead of us climbing the hills to go sledding!  There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground (ultimately we got between 2 feet and 30 inches..hard to tell with the drifting) but young Mom was already batty with the energy of the Munchkins.  I loved this Family.  It was my first time meeting them (they live about 4 houses away and they moved in only 4 years ago)..Have I mentioned how my House used to be the clubhouse of the neighborhood?  Oh, my, how things change.. I hope she’s ok by now..It is gorgeous maybe I’ll see them again if I can get out to the golf course later…(I hired a Landscaper to plow me out.  His machine said that due to the storm, he may not get to Everyone til Monday..feeling helpless is not one of my strong points..but being out of work due to back (scoliosis) and/or shoulder (“slightly”torn rotator cuff) is also conflicting me….)
My cute home after shoveling a path so I can walk out my driveway
            Flashforward 48 hours..I am no longer giddy.  I miss New York. (And yes, I will return the $10 coffee pot..I only used it once, and cleaned it well..Finally at the tender age of 55..getting rid of guilt..SO EMPOWERING!!)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Long Winter Weekend

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.  Dalai Lama

                 Thankfully, I still get renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated by my almost weekly sojourns to New York City.  I’m not getting my passion for the Big Apple out of my system, instead it grows.  Slept, again, for most of the bus ride down after work Thursday night to get home just before Kristi, so we had a late night chat.
            Friday we shared a lovely late lunch at Prune in the East Village (1St street between 1st and 2nd Avenues) which unbeknownst to us was just rated Best Brunch in New York by  It is very funky with great food.  Kris then met friends to work on a script, and I meandered all of Bleeker Street from Nolita (North of Little Italy) to the West Village, popping into shops along the way, buying a really cute hat at a pop-up designer store and awesome breads from the Village shop of Amy’s.  (In Union Square, a homeless man told me he loved my hat!  I, unlike my Girls, am not a hat person, so I figured homeless in NYC have certain style, I had done alright!)

            Saturday I had a lovely hibernating and digging into a project I brought down to the Hx3.  My much beloved Maternal Uncle was quite a letter writer.   I have almost 3o years of letters he wrote to my Grandmother, starting when he entered St. John’s Seminary at the age of 18 in 1945 to my Grandmother’s death in the early 1970s.  I started reading these, what fun, a true pleasure…I  am going to do something with these, unsure what!
Ice Sculpture of Belvedere Castle
           Late in the afternoon, I decided to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.  I walked over o the Park, Central Park, that is.  God, I love saying that!  There was an Ice Festival going on at the Belvedere Castle, so I meandered around that area, enjoying the show, and the people watching.  From the Central Park website: "Right now, the temperature in Central Park is …"

Belvedere Castle
New Yorkers and regular visitors know that phrase well from television and radio broadcasts. But not many know that temperature is recorded from atop Belvedere Castle.

Since 1919, the National Weather Service has take measurements from the castle's tower with the aid of scientific instruments that measure wind speed and direction. In a fenced-in compound just south of the castle, other data such as the rainfall is recorded and sent to the weather service's forecast office at Brookhaven National Library on Long Island.

Before it was equipped with meteorological equipment, Belvedere Castle was a Victorian folly. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as one of its many whimsical structures intended as a lookout to the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south.

After decades of deterioration, the Central Park Conservancy renovated and reopened the castle in 1983.

Belvedere provides the best and highest views of the Park and its cityscape. It's fitting, considering its name translates to "beautiful view" in Italian.

The Member's Dining Room at the Met (fromit's website)
           Sunday, I met the lovely young Lady who I enjoyed getting know when we volunteered at the Global Citizen’s Concert in Central Park in the fall.  Alex is very involved with a Christian Church, C3Manhattan.  I’m feeling a “need” for something, so I checked it out.  On the fence, I’ll attend some more, I did like the ritual of the Catholic Mass, but have simply decided that I don’t wish to part of that anymore…I’m thinking organized religion may not be for me anymore.. Kristi and I met mid-afternoon at the Met where we indulged in a wonderful Brunch in the Member’s Dining Room, an early Birthday celebration for her.

Cipriani Dolci (thanks to Steve R on Yelp)
Monday I had a long leisurely lunch, taking advantage of Restaurant Week, at Cipriani Dolce in Grand Central with another lovely Lady, Muriel, who I met at the Signature theatre a few months ago.  Dare I say it?  I’m making friends I New York City!