Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marathon Madness....

“I wonder if we could soften our hearts and minds and our eyes. I wonder if we could give our eyes a break.” ~ Amy Poehler

amyWhat a week.  Sometimes there are truly no words, but I must try.  As I already said in my last post, Marathon Monday I was in my Hx3 scrubbing the bathroom and kitchen.  When my phone rang, I literally tripped on the self-made obstacle course trying to reach it.  After picking it up off the floor, I saw that Katie had called, and there was a text from my Niece asking if I was ok?  I called Katie.  She asked where I was, her voice panic-stricken. “I’m in NYC.”  “Oh, thank, God”, she said, “There’s been two explosions at the Marathon near the finish-line, and it’s ugly and bloody.”  (She works at MGH, Massachusetts General Hospital, which would receive many of the innocents wounded. I work less than a block from the Marathon Finish Line.  We never work Marathon Monday as we, nor our patients, would be able to get to the office.  They forgot.)  I hung up, numb, confused, and scared.  I texted my Niece and said I was fine and in NYC.    
We don’t have live TV at the Hx3.  We have some little box and get Hulu and NetFlix.  I called Kristi at work and asked how to get the news, and told her what happened.  I got CNN on my laptop.  Oh, my God.  9-11 all over, again.  In the twelve years since that horrifically beautiful September morning, I have become complacent, and feel safe again.  This is the USA.  We don’t have bombings occurring regularly on our soil, never mind in our own hometown.   That is for the unfortunate populations of so many other countries, in lands across oceans.  
Boston Strong logoInstead of leaving very late Monday night, as planned, I got on an early Tuesday morning bus that would get me to work just in time for my first patient at noon.  (The Girls were already freaking out enough without worrying about me.)  Well, I needn’t have worried about getting to work on time.  Our office is located on the crime scene of the blasts.  One of the many things I remember considering in the weeks that followed 9-11 was all the small businesses, and their employees, that were affected.  I know, I thought, most are alive and safe.  First consider, and pray for, the lives lost, their families and loved ones, and the victims hurt, physically and mentally.  But, one of the lines we tell ourselves often since that day, “Life must go on, or ‘they’ve’ won.”  Well, bills must be paid, etc, in order for life to go on.  I now will learn those answers for myself, as we have not been able to work for a week.  (Maybe that’s why God created tax returns..)
PhotoThe selfish me thought  “I could have stayed in NYC longer.”  But, I am so glad I came home.  One thing I am learning is that once a parent; it is a life-long “job”.  My older Daughter “needed” her Mom (I so love being needed still) and comfort food.   Tuesday night she took the T out and we had dinner in our family’s favorite little Mexican restaurant, La Paloma, on Newport Ave in Quincy.  Nowadays, that usually includes some shopping therapy at Marshalls, and /or, Ocean State Job Lot across the street.
Then we went to my Mom’s, or Nonnie’s per my Ladies and all her Grandchildren.  We had a lovely tea party.  It is such a normal, interesting, fact, that in times such as these, we all want to surround ourselves with those we love most.  (Kristi went to Queens to be with her college roommate to “ drink wine and dance it out grey’s style to Boston themed songs on her balcony”!)
Friday morning I was awoken by my phone at 6:15am.  Katie was unnerved.  She hadn’t slept well all week, another very normal reaction to the week’s events, and she wasn’t alone.  Sirens kept her from ever really sleeping Thursday night.  Finally, giving up, she turned on the TV at 4am and was totally freaked out giving me til 6:15 before she needed to talk with someone.  I turned my TV on, and we “watched” the unfolding events together. (It turns out that Katie lives less than a mile from the Brothers’ apartment in Cambridge.)  It became an eleven hour odyssey of a real life NCIS show that I could not turn off nor walk away from.  It’s now midday Saturday, and I have the same pj’s on that I have been wearing for almost 3 full days. (I know, TMI).  I don’t believe I have to share the story.  If you live anywhere near Boston, have loved ones here, or just like after 9-11, are an American, you know it, feel it, and will never forget it.

PhotoThank you, President Obama, Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino,  the Police, Fire, Military, etc., First Responders (including, and maybe especially, all the Lay People who became First Responders on Monday), the Families and Friends of the Innocents killed, and forever hurt.  Your Leadership, Professionalism, Grace, Dignity, Empathy, and Compassion guided us through a week that words cannot fully describe.

"Scripture tells us to 'run with endurance the race that is set before us.'  As we do, may God hold close those who’ve been taken from us too soon. May He comfort their families. And may He continue to watch over these United States of America." 
President Barack Obama, Thursday April 18, 2013 @ The Interfatih Service in Boston

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Writing Weekend

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”     Sylvia Plath
The Blue Room @ The Algonquin
Excited for a nice long weekend, I got onto my Bolt Bus late Thursday night after work.  Arriving in time to wish Kristi good night, I continued with my sleep as well.  Friday was a treat as we were able to spend it together.  We “Lunched as Ladies” at the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel in Midtown.  It is pricey, but I had a Blackboard Eats code (  Free to join, it will offer codes to restaurants in different cities.  I don’t believe Boston is part of it.) for 30% off, so our $90 bill became $60.  We thoroughly enjoyed our calamari, quesadillas (huge), and homemade potato chips and onion dip (Remember when onion dip was a staple of entertaining? I haven’t made it for years, may have to do it again).  The Algonquin is one of NYC’s famous older hotels, a National Historic Landmark since 1987, and was a haunt for many literary notables. 

 From it's website: From its inception, manager (and later owner) Frank Case created a vision for The Algonquin as New York’s center of literary and theatrical life. His enduring fascination with actors and writers led him to extend them credit, in the process luring such luminaries as Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and John Barrymore.
Famed women flocked to the hotel as well, as The Algonquin was unconventional early on in accommodating single women guests. Over the years, these have included Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Helen Hayes, Erica Jones, and Maya Angelou.

Three Nobel laureates visited on a regular basis, including Sinclair Lewis (who offered to buy the hotel), Derek Walcott, and most memorably William Faulkner, who drafted his Nobel Prize acceptance speech at The Algonquin in 1950.
Friday evening we went to the Metropolitan Room (W22nd between 5th & 6th Aves.) for a jazz cabaret. Kathryne Langdord gave us a lovely evening of entertainment.  I was able to get those tickets for $4 each through Play by Play!
You know when you’re playing on the internet?  You get lost for hours, and sometimes find really interesting things, but can’t remember, or have no idea how you found it?  Well, that happened to me a month or so ago, and I found the International Women’s Writer’s Guild (  From its website: The IWWG, founded in 1976, is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing and open to all regardless of portfolio. As such, it has established a remarkable record of achievement in the publishing world, as well as in circles where lifelong learning and personal transformation are valued for their own sake. The Guild nurtures and supports holistic thinking by recognizing the logic of the heart--the ability to perceive the subtle interconnections between people, events and emotions- alongside conventional logic.
Sculpture found on Park Ave
I gave myself the gift of going to the IWWC Spring Big Apple Conference.  It was amazing.  I met so many incredible Women.; all writers, all supportive and encouraging of each other, with no selfish agenda.  I felt like I had been on a major retreat.  In Saturday’s workshop, “Mother May I?  Woman and Words Since Betty Friedan,” we were led and guided by Eunice Scarfe, a published author who teaches at University in Canada.  At lunch that day I simply went to downstairs to the restaurant, Smorgas Chef, and thoroughly enjoyed Swedish meatballs, & lingonberries, chive mashed potatoes, julienned vegetables, and gradd sauce, with a lovely glass of Rose.  I was joined by another enjoying the Conference with me.  She is the Director of an Opera Theatre and has worked all over the world!  I went home exhausted.
Scandinavia House
Sunday the day began with a book fair of published IWWC authors.  It was enjoyable speaking with these lovely Ladies, and I purchased a few of their books.  Then Amy Ferris lead us in another great writing workshop, “Righting your Life by Writing Your Life”; an amazing morning.  Amy Ferris is an author, editor, screenwriter and playwright. Her memoir, Marrying George Clooney, Confessions From a Midlife Crisis (Seal Press) is off-broadway bound.  I had lunch with another interesting Lady who is an NPR broadcaster in Baltimore, is giving away her Yoga school started many years ago before yoga became the fashion, and is thinking of teaching in a Masters of Science Program of Yoga at the University level.  The afternoon was spent “pitching” your book ideas, projects, to as many as eight agents.  I met with seven, and got some great, thoughts, suggestions, and guidance.
RitaSunday night, before I headed out for the evening, I was pleasantly surprised to have some crackers, cheese, and wine with Kristi  Then I again treated myself! to Rita Wilson’s Cabaret at Under 54, sight of the venerable Studio 54 from the 70’s.  The Cabaret is located downstairs where the VIP Lounge was.  So I enjoyed the space of the famous Andy Warhol, et al and all their bacchanalia!  Standing behind me in line were Ed Burns and his wife, Christy Turlington (beautiful).  And, yes, Ms. Wilson’s Husband, Tom Hanks, was in the house, sharing his wife’s crooning with Dianne Sawyer, and I believe Harvey Weinstein!  Fun, and the food was delicious!
Outside The School of Practical Philosophy

Monday, I chilled, cleaned, then went into zombie mod when Katie called, and my Niece texted asking if I was okay.  The Marathon Bombings had just occurred, and my office is less than a block from the Marathon finish line.  They forgot I was still in New York  I started my Philosophy and Sustained Happiness course that night.  (right on our street, 79th, just a few doors from Central Park!).  I wasn’t much of a contribution to the class, but I’m glad I went, and will make up for it next class!
Boston Strong logoMy Ladies really weren’t comfortable, or happy, with my plan to head home on a very late bus, in light of the confusion and chaos Boston was that night.  So, I got up very early Tuesday morning.  I would have made it to my noon patient, except our whole neighborhood in Boston is part of the Bombing crime scene so we couldn’t go to the office.  It’s Wednesday now, and we don’t know when we can go back..Please pray for my Hometown, most especially the Families of the Angels killed and hurt.

Friday, April 12, 2013

New Friends...

                   "Do not delay, the golden moments fly!"  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow         

Pil Pil
PilPil from Bobbie B on Yelp
After yet another grueling week (five day weeks are truly starting to “kill” me), I crawled aboard my trustworthy Bolt Bus and fell asleep.  I arrived at the Hx3 hungry, dropped my bags and went across to Sojourn for a bite.  It was a scene so I just ambled around the ‘hood.  Everyone is thrilled that winter is over as the streets and restaurants were teeming.  I finally saw a small, new place, tucked around the corner from 2nd Avenue on 78th Street, PilPil, a Spanish Tapas Bar.  After Rollo de Carne con Asparagus (beef roll with asparagus and mushrooms in a Rioja reduction) and a lovely glass of Sauvignon Blanc, I contentedly went home.
Saturday I happily went back to Jake’s letters for a few hours.  Then I took a long, slow bus (major construction on 2nd to finally complete?  the 2nd Ave MTA line) to Kip’s Bay Library on 3rd Ave and 31st St.  I am beginning to have a love affair with the NYPL system.  Besides the main branch on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street which is magnificent, there are branches in each neighborhood which offer an abundance of free lectures, courses, and events (including exercise and yoga).  I had read about this particular one “Create your ultimate life vision.” which definitely spoke to me.  Polina Solda,  led us in a really great afternoon of learning, sharing, and reaffirmation.  Following the discussion, I joined two of the Ladies and went a few doors down to 16 handles for yogurt and more getting to know each other, very interesting Ladies.  We exchanged emails and decided we’d like to get together some more!
From there I meandered up to Herald Square to see the Macy’s Flower Show (34th St and 6th Ave).  From the Macy’s website: Drenched in a spectacular palette of colors, this year's show evoked the inspiring architecture and vibrant spirit of southern Asia. I am so glad I did.  It was beautiful!
By then I needed real sustenance, so I headed south to the Madison Square Park area to try and finally eat at Eataly ( ).   Built at the height of the recession, this Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia Bastianich team has proven that “if you build it they will come.”  (Kristi’s former boss, Dave Pasternak of Esca, is the “fishmonger” at Eataly).   If you can stand crowds and confusion (it is New York City, remember), I believe this has become one of New York’s must-sees.  There are many restaurants as part of this venture which don’t take reservations.  That night the wait was 1-2 hours.  The beauty of traveling solo, as I’ve said many times, is sitting and eating at the bar.  While waiting a few minutes for that bar seat, I started chatting with a lovely young Lady who grew up in Montreal and graduated from McGill a few years ahead of Katie.  As luck would have it, we got seated next to each other at the bar.   Another wonderful dinner at La Pizza & La Pasta (Gnocchi with braised lamb ragu and a gorgeous glass of Sangrantino from Umbria) shared with another awesome new friend!  (We also have shared emails with the plan to meet again for dinner.)
My day wasn’t over yet.  I had plans to meet Patients, one of my favorite Couples, at an art opening at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea, 529 w 20th St between 10 & 11th Aves., 9th floor.  Josh Agle’s (Shag) work is very retro, 60’s Mad Men-ish with great colors, very cool.  The exhibit “Thursdays Girl” is up until May 4.  (Most works are already sold for $3-25K!)
Since I was on the West side I decided to pop into Valhala, 9th and 54th, to have a glass of wine with Kristi, who I hadn’t seen yet this weekend, while she was working a rare shift.  Finally time to head home.
Avery Fisher Hall
Avery Fisher Hall
Sunday I read, made a pasta sauce, and then went over to Lincoln Center (for the first time).  I had found $6 tickets on Goldstar, another great site to get discounted tickets to events in Boston, New York, and other cities. (   I had a very enjoyable afternoon at “Calling All Dawns.”  (Although the trains and buses getting to and from were frustrating…getting to know the true joys of being a New Yorker!)
Came home, ate, read, and caught my late bus back to reality.  I gratefully slept the whole way once again.


Saturday, April 6, 2013


Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” 
    Pope John Paul II
Empire State Building
Having been away from Manhattan for another couple of weeks, I happily got back on my trustworthy Bolt Bus after work on Thursday night.  And, score, it wasn’t crowded so almost Everyone on board got two seats to themselves!  But first I was able to pop into one of my Boston favs, Les Zygomats which is just a block from South Station, and have a glass of wine with a lovely cheese plate.  Kristi was up and working when I got to Hx3, so we had a nice chat and caught up with each other.
Friday we woke to sunshine, and mild weather.  Finally, another brutal winter is just about over.  I feel it more and more each year.  I love four seasons, but snow and ice is not as much fun as it used to be.  I will admit it, I’m aging and I’m truly trying to do it gracefully.  (Although Grace is definitely not my middle name..)
Kris went off to her busy day.  I went around the corner to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf armed with more of Uncle John’s letters.  I spent a wonderful few hours, laughing, crying, learning more and more about my family, real faith, and Jake’s life as a Chaplain in the Air Force.  This project of love is starting to take on a life of its own.  It’s funny though as the weekend progressed, I slowed down on my reading as I know what’s coming.  Papa’s death.
Enjoying the Holi Festival
At the Holi Festival
One of my most trusted go-to’s when I am researching NYC happenings is Time Out New York.  Before I left the apartment I read:  The riot of color that accompanies the Hindu spring festival of Holi hits New York this weekend. The exuberant festivities (we're celebrating the triumph of good over evil, here) include traditional South Asian music, dancing and playing with powdered dyes—symbolizing the return of color in spring after the drudgery of winter (and what a dreary winter it was). Think of it like J'ouvert (daybreak)—the celebration that begins the West Indian–American Day Parade on Labor  Day—but at a more civilized hour.  So I went to: Holi at Solar One. This solar-powered, ecologically minded center on the East River holds a free, family-friendly paint-throwing party to mark the the Hindu spring festival of Holi. If you're heading to the fete after work, make sure you ditch the suit; the colors may (as in, probably will) stain clothes, but at least you can be confident the powder's not toxic—Solar One made their own from rice flour and food coloring.
Walking down to the East River to find Solar One, I passed one of the many nail salons of New York City, and decided I owed it to myself, and my piggies, to treat them after the long, hard winter.  As I’ve mentioned before, mani-pedis are one thing that can be had easily and relatively cheaply in NYC!
On the UN lawn
The UN
After experiencing my first Holi festival, I decided to walk.  And walk I did!  The festival was on 23rd Street, and I meandered all the way home to 79th Street.  Taking my time, and thoroughly enjoying the weather, the sights, just “being” in one of my favorite places on the planet.  As I found myself in my old neighborhood of my Winter in Manhattan Odyssey, I came upon the restaurant where Kristi and I celebrated after the infamous Co-op board interview for the Hx3 last summer.  Grata (1st Avenue @ 59th Street) had a sign out front for Happy Hour 5-7pm listing wine for $5.  I owed that to myself as well as it was now 6:30, and my stomach started rumbling.  I then learned that part of the happy hour was 3 small plates (tapas) for $18.  I contentedly ate my Shrimp in garlic sauce, Mussels marinara, and brought my Ravioli di Zucca (butternut squash ravioli in pink sauce) home for Kristi.  It was an extremely pleasant couple of hours eating, chatting with my bar-mates, and reading the friendly Bartender’s Wall Street Journal.  Meandered the rest of the way home happy and content.    
A work of Viorica Stan
Saturday afternoon I met Rafael of New York Gallery Tours on Greenwich Street in the West Village (I always get lost down there as the southern tip is not laid out in a grid like most of Manhattan.  Oh, but what a neighborhood to get lost in.  Recently, my Nephew asked if I had a favorite neighborhood in Manhattan.  So hard to say, as I love them all..but if money were no object, I think I would live in the West/ Greenwich Village area…hence why it’s probably the most expensive!) As always, Rafael gave us an interesting afternoon, and my Photographer friend Robin and her Daughter were also on the tour so it was an even greater pleasure.

Hugh Morris
One of the Galleries we went to was Westbeth, which is an artist’s colony started in the 60’s.  Before that it had been part of the Manhattan project!  I will be doing more research on that little colony.  We were very lucky as Hugh Morris and Viorica Stan (Husband and Wife) had a show up and they graciously spent time chatting with us.  We were even invited back to the closing reception that evening.  I was tempted!

On the Highline
The tour ended very close to the Highline Park and Chelsea Market.  So, I meandered through the Market picking up a few things for an Easter Basket.  (Yes, I still love making them for my Ladies!)  I needed some sustenance so I popped into a cute little place, Gaslight, right on the corner of 9th Ave and 14th Street .  I felt like I was in a quiet Grandmother’s living room from the early 1900’s.  I enjoyed my spinach-artichoke dip and sauvignon blanc before heading out to walk the whole Highline!  Then I was bone tired.  I crawled across to the East Side to grab a bus home.  (The 6 train has been down on weekends for repairs for awhile..ugh..Am I sounding like a New Yorker?!)

Entertainment in the Park
Sunday, Easter, I walked across Central Park to meet my friend for brunch at Nice Matin (W 79th & Amsterdam).  It has a great menu, hard to choose.  We had a lovely visit and chat.  I have mentioned how surprised I am at how many French bistros, restaurants, etc I am finding.  Well, a group of them actually call themselves “Culinary Tour de France".  I have been to a few.  I think I will make it a point to visit them all!
View at the bus stop
Finally, time to head back to reality.  Caught a bus across town to pack up and head out into the rain to catch my bus.  That was interesting..