Monday, December 23, 2013


                                                                         With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come. 
William Shakespeare
My tiny tree!
After being on my feet for many hours over the weekend at the Grand Central Holiday Market, I gave myself the day to relax on Monday.  I was then ready to be surrounded by friendly faces, and headed over to Sojourn for my Monday night dose of music.
Alice and Her Friends in the snow
The Boathouse in Cenral Park
Tuesday, being my birthday, became a true gift.  I began by having a wonderful massage at Serendipity Spa right around the corner on 3rd Ave.  I had a new massage therapist, Coco. Excellent.  It was snowing again, so I headed to Central Park for a nice walk.  I found my way to the Boathouse and treated myself to a glass of Proscecco.  Happy Birthday to me!
While there my FFF friend texted me about a Fundraiser for the Philippines he was going to that night with a friend at The Woods in Brooklyn.  What a treat.  I used to work late on Tuesday nights, so really couldn’t do anything, never mind spontaneously!  I went and it was a great time in yet another new neighborhood for me, Williamsburg.  Before that, I met my Library Friend at Harney & Sons in Soho at for a lovely spot of tea, and scones.  Finally, I made it back to my “hood in time for the last set at Sojourn.  (Where, unbelievably, a kind man bought me a glass of wine, and asked if we could hang out..I declined, graciously, I hope..).
Fletcher eating Balut..
From the invite for the Fundraiser:  An Adventurous Eating Foodraiser for the Philippines  Brooklyn, New York
Presented by Liza de Guia ( and Curtiss Calleo (

Your donation includes all of the below menu items, complimentary bar, karaoke, prizes, theater tickets, beauty queens, live DJs and more!

Your donation will benefit the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines, give relief, and help devastated communities recover and rebuild.
Photo: Catching up with Liza deGuia and Fany Gerson at An Adventurous Eating Foodraiser for the Philippines last night @skeeternyc @fanygerson
Fanny Gerson, Liza de Guia, and Fletcher
                                                The Menu
First Course
Landhaus Tacos: Pork Sisig, Goat Longaniza , Oxtail Caldareta
Ain't 2 Proud 2 Brunch: Venison Adobo & Bone Marrow Fried Rice, Engeline's Whole Roasted Pigs ,Truffle Adobo Mushroom Fried Lumpia
Mini Calamansi Ice Cream, Leche Flan, Bibingka , weet rice and coconut cake, Mamon, Filipino sponge cake, Salty Road Salt Water Taffy, Butter & Scotch Specialty Cocktails and Desserts
"Liza de Guia (SkeeterNYC) is a prolific name in the food world. Video handler and story wrangler; you'll find her discovering meaningful tales wherever she roams."  My FFF Friend knows Liza as she was Filmmaker of the Year a few years ago at the NYC Food Film Festival.
"Gastronauts, founded by Curtiss Calleo and Ben Pauker in 2006, stepped on the NY scene as an eating club for the brave and adventurous. They are now the largest dining club of this sort in the nation; find their monthly meals in NYC, LA, SF and DC."
           Thursday as I was catching up on emails and Facebook, I saw that Rooftop Films needed some last minute help writing thank you notes;  good hand-writers need only apply.  I shot off a note explaining my 12 years of Catholic school, and my experience as the blackboard Lady for the Food Film Festival! (not explaining my love-hate relationship with that position!)  So, off I went to Park Slope to write notes for a few hours..the director of the Summer Series thought I had the best hand-writing she had ever seen!  The Executive Director of Rooftop wanted to pay me, especially as the work was mundane.  I said simply to put it back in the kitty.  It was nice being there with them, quietly writing cards. And, I am grateful to be part of yet another great NYC organization!
From Rattlestick's website: Some of the Playwrights
Cafe Condesa
Cafe Condesa
From there I headed to the Village to meet Kristi at Rattlestick Playwright Theater  (224 Waverly Place) for a reading of a play from the F….. Good Plays Festival, “After the Tornado.”  It was excellent, and free!  We then went into a tiny Mexican restaurant, CafĂ© Condesa on W 10th (just off 6th Avenue) and shared a delicious dinner.  Lovely evening.
Friday had me restless for some Christmas music.  I wasn’t in the mood for the size and pageantry up to the Cathedral of St John the Divine.  I turned to my trusty play by play and found the perfect thing.  Subculture is a newly opened venue at 45 Bleeker, downstairs at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre.  It was just what the doctor ordered. 
On the way down to the show I poked around the Union Square Holiday Market and had a first course of dinner from Mighty Balls which was excellent.  I tried a turkey with cranberry chutne relish, a pork, and a beef, I forget their sauces!.  From its website: It is a partnership between Dina Williamson and Kerri Brewer, women who both come from families of small restauranteurs, placing them in the food industry from young... But back to the balls. We specialize in all things balls. We strive to create a unique food experience, bringing together slightly esoteric sauces as compliments to our exceptionally delicious balls. Our sauces are influenced from our experiences with cultures around the world. We want to stand apart from the crowd at your average street fair. But most importantly, we want people to have fun with their food… we are a mobile vending company, based in new york city. contact us to find out where we're at today!
Bottega Organica
With still some time to kill still, I decided to have course two and went into a cute little place on Bleeker St. near the theatre (between Bowery and Lafayette).  I had a lovely avocado salad and glass of wine and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance with a small fire at Bottega Organica.  A perfectly lovely evening.
Empire State Building dressed for Christams
Saturday morning my Philosophy Friend and I headed up to Spanish Harlem to spend some time at NY Common Pantry (E 109 between 5th and Madison Aves).  We worked with a varied and interesting group of people bagging all sorts of produce.  Our work that day helped fee 500 families!   Took a blessed siesta and headed to to Village again.  This eveing it was to the Duplex to enjoy “Valentine’s Day in December”, a Cabaret that a dear friend of Kristi’s was in.  It was such a mild evening, I just meandered the streets of Greenwich Village for awhile, then headed home, and found myself in Sojourn.  Chatting with new friends, we then went over to Pig Heaven for some of its live rock n roll!  I do manage to keep busy, blessedly!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Week 11 Enjoying the Season

                              "The greatest achievements were at first and for a time dreams." 
                                                                James Allen, British author

Accepting that life is a roller coaster, and truly making myself go with the flow has been an interesting, if not always easy ride.  I do know for certain now, that “this-whatever it may be- too will pass”..And finally am growing the patience to role with it.  It’s still not easy, and definitely not pain-free..but it is life.  So, on that deep note, I am sometimes “forcing” myself to get out and enjoy the Holidays in my new hometown.  They are one of the major reasons it has been a life’s dream to live here.  I don’t want to waste it.

From Divino's website
The first Sunday in December was the date for a neighborhood tree lighting.  I headed out to Carl Schurz Park in the pitch dark at 4:30pm (that is the toughest part of winter for me I believe..).  It started snowing.  It was beautiful.  I was early, so I stopped into a sweet little Italian restaurant I’ve passed many times, but never been in.  I had a lovely glass of Chianti at Divino (2 Ave between 81-82), and overheard a waitress greet Ladies from Texas who come in once a year for their annual NYC Christmas trip.  I will go back to enjoy dinner.
I then walked over to the park which is on the East River, right next to Gracie Mansion.  Why is it so hushed and quiet when the snow falls?  It was a beautiful walk along the river, and the sound of caroling voices lead me to the ceremony just in time for the tree lighting.  I stood above the crowd on a hill with others.  It was beautiful.  I wept with joy? sadness?  both.  I am so glad I went.  As I walked home my Philosophy Friend called and suggested meeting for dinner.  Perfect.  We met at Salvo’s (York & 78th), another small Italian place.  Glad to explore more in my neighborhood, as I keep going to my Sojourn!  I had a very delicious veal parmigiana, but more importantly the company of a new dear friend.
Zucotti Park 1 year later
I got a phone call from the Food Bank for NYC needing help making phone calls for their Vita Tax Program.  So, I spent much of Monday and Tuesday at their downtown office calling People.  Delighted to help, I love having the precious time to do this.  I am learning all the things I do not want to do when I grow up as well! (God, love telemarketers, couldn’t do it.)  Of course, Monday evening I’m sure you know where I was..Sojourn for my neighborly dose of live music! 
Ann Patchett & Elizabeth Gilbert
Celeste Bartos Forum
Tuesday evening, was a very busy, awesome night.  First, I went to the NYPL on 5th Avenue, definitely one of my favorite places in NYC, to listen to two authors whom I have read, and admire.  I don’t know of any woman of a “certain age” who didn’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” and dream yearningly, even if every place on that year long odyssey wasn’t for them.  I personally could have done all three places very happily.  My first introduction to Ann Patchett was through “Bell Canto”, a beautiful book about a hostage situation, believe it or not.  The second was “Truth and Beauty”, a book about her best friendship with Lucy Grealy, author of “An Autobiography of a Face.”  I told her in the book signing that I believe, I hope, that those two books made me a better dental hygienist, more diligent in my oral cancer exams.  These two interesting, accomplished Ladies became close friends, through the now almost defunct art of letter writing.  Truly wonderful.
From that great experience I headed over to yet another new, for me, neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Red Hook.  The Food Film Festival held their Holiday Party at Hometown Bar-B-Que.  (454 Van Brunt St.   I had worked next to the Chef at the NYC FFF..great guy, as is the owner-head chef.  The food and space were excellent.  (New Yorkers..great party space, must be awesome in good weather as it’s very close to the water, which unfortunately for them was not so good during Sandy..They just re-opened..Go!)  Another wonderfully fun evening with some of my new favorite people!  And, the entertainment was a band head-lined by George, founding Director of FFF, and Seth, Executive Director of FFF, joined by friends and FFF “family-members”!

The Dining Room at The Modern
The Modern (from Yelp)
The King Cole Bar at The St. Regis New York.
King Cole Bar (from Yelp)
Wednesday evening I had the great pleasure of connecting with one of my closest friends from the past.  (Thanks to Facebook, I have had the pleasure of re-connecting with many from my past.)  The Renuart Family were dear friends when I lived the Shangri-la life of a young military wife in England.  Gene was a young Captain way back then.  In recent years he retired as a 4-Star General!  (For those not well acquainted with the military, you can’t go higher than that in the Air Force.).  He was in town on business.  Since he was staying in Midtown we enjoyed two of my favorite places, The Modern at Moma for dinner and the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis for an after-dinner port.  (Thanks, Gene. Next time I want to play with Jill!)
Anastasia & Brian
Much of the remainder of the week I spent at the Grand Central Holiday Market, helping out my friends at Tuff Kookooshka (  I also spent time with a good Friend of theirs, Margo Pettiti ( who makes some of the most magnificent men’s scarves I have ever seen, and felt. (However, I would happily wear one!).  I must share a small world story here.  As Margo and I started to get to know each other, she commented on loving my Boston accent, as her Dad is from Dorchester.  I then asked if she had any family in Milton.  Some of her Dad’s cousins are there.  I know some of them!  Gotta love this small world!  Please check out both of these companies.  They are “made in America” at its finest, made by some of the nicest People I know.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Week 10 Holiday Season has begun

I have always thought of Christmas as a good time; a kind, forgiving, generous, pleasant time; a time when men and women seem to open their hearts freely, and so I say, God bless Christmas!
by Charles Dickens

          Nuchas, New York, NY  Tuesday evening I explored a bit of Hunter College getting lost trying to find the President’s Conference Room for the planning meeting for VDay.  The Ladies I met from Brava Drumming were there, and many other interesting Ladies.  I’m kind of fascinated to see how this all comes together.  From there I decided to head down to Union Square to do a bit of shopping, including Trader Joe’s. Mistake, big mistake.  At 9:45 pm the checkout line was wrapped around the store, literally.  Deciding I didn’t need provisions after all, I headed out for home.  Right outside was the Nuchas Food Truck, Artisan Hand-Held Foods, or Argentiain empanadas (www.nuchas).  They were at the NYC Food Film Fest.  And, they won the 2013 Rookie of the Year at the Vendy awards (like the Oscars for NYC Food Trucks).  I created their sign one on of the infamous, to me, chalk boards.  I  bought a delicious croissant for breakfast.
The bar
            Later that night I decided on my Sojourn for more music.  My new/old friends were there.  It is fun, and comfortable.  Just as I was about to leave, this peanut of a Lady came in.  Not a regular.  Somehow she started talking to me…must be the Mom in me.  She was driving through literally from home in Maine where she was home for Thanksgiving, to her Navy base in Virginia.  She needed a break.  She was upset.  A “Boy” had broken her heart when she dropped him off in Newport.  She came to the UES because a couple of years ago during Navy Week.  She came; people embraced she and her friends.  So she felt safe in this neighborhood, and walked into the first place that seemed friendly again.  I couldn’t let her get back in the car at almost 1am to drive 6 more hours.  I gave her my couch.  She silently got up in daylight and left saying thank you and good bye.  Crazy, maybe, but proud of helping a brilliant young woman in our Navy.  I hope she’ll pay it forward some day.
          Wednesday evening I went to a funky show,  Iluminate, Artist of Light at New World Stages on W 50th.  I got the ticket through Play by Play, so the price was definitely great.  From their website: Music, art, and the technological magic of iLuminate bring you a story of adventure and romance told through dance styles from contemporary to hip-hop to breaking and using the power of light. We invite you to join us for "Artist of Light," an original and wholly unforgettable theatrical experience!

           Thursday late afternoon I ventured down to the 67th Street Library for
            my Women’s Writing Workshop and then enjoyed another light dinner
           with a few of the Ladies at our regular Le Pain Quotidien.  From there I
           decided to take my first walk down 5th Avenue to enjoy the beauty of
            the lights.  Although the crowds can be daunting, it never disappoints. 
            I was brought to tears when I witnessed a proposal in front of the tree
            at Rockefeller Center!
            Saturday was our last Philosophy Class for the session.  As always, a wonderful way to start my Saturday.  Many of us plan on being back for Session 3.  From there, my Philosophy Friend and I went over to Gowanus in Brooklyn, to the Bell House for Matt Timm’s Cookie Takedown.  Great fun, although I must say, none of the cookies knocked my sox off.  But, the contestants worked hard, and Matt makes it crazy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


"Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some".        Charles Dickens

Home Sweet Home Sold
After the wonderful family dinner at Monastero’s  in Chicago I happily went back to my hotel room to pack and relax as I had to be at 3:30am for a 6:30 am flight to Boston.  I love to travel.  I also love to go home.  As I was packing I got excited to get back to my sweet little Cape-style home in Milton.  Then I felt like I walked into that proverbial brick wall.  I literally caught my choked up breath; finished packing, and climbed into my huge king size bed to watch some t.v.  Thank God, I did get some sleep.
 It’s funny, now that I have the precious gift of time, flying standby causes no anxiety, and I have easily gotten on my chosen flights.  I had no idea how short the flight is from the East Coast to Chicago.  I will be going back.  I got to Logan Airport and easily jumped on the still free Silverline to South Station.  Thank you, MBTA.  How funny it is when life turns things around.  As I walked to my car on the rooftop parking lot, I thought, “Wait, this isn’t my license plate.”  Another breath, “Oh, yes, this also isn’t my car anymore.  It’s Katie’s!”
      Desperate for coffee, I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts in East Milton Square.  Thankfully, I did not run into anyone I know, wasn’t in the “mood.”  As I was driving to Mom’s my, Katie’s, trusty Rav automatically  started on the route to 53 Pleasant Street.  That’s when I started to sob, quickly got off that road, and steered the car in the direction of my Mom’s.  Getting to Mom’s quiet, empty home, I proceeded to take a very long nap. 
Photo               I gratefully spent my few days in Milton catching up with my Closest Friends, having appointments (Hairdresser, Financial advisor, Doctor), and good quiet time with Mom.  Thanksgiving, for one of the very few times in my Adult life, I was simply a guest!  I did bring Champagne and do the dishes.  Katie wanted to do her first Thanksgiving, and loved doing it.  She outdid herself, and a far as I’m concerned she can have that Holiday for as long as she wants!  It was a nice quiet one with just the Girls, my Mom and me.  Perfect.  We went to my Cousin’s for dessert which gave us the lovely chaos, confusion, and laughter at the end of a wonderful day.
           I came back to NCY and my Hx3 on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  As I walked into my Hx3, I was content, and grateful!  I then went down to Central’s Holiday Market to help for a few hours at Tuff Kookooshka so the Gonye Family could have an evening out together.  I also spent a few hours there on Saturday.  Saturday evening I had a light dinner at my Sojourn as I had no food in the Hx3.
Monday I had signed up to volunteer at Lincoln Square’s Winter’s Eve.  I headed over to the West Side early as I wanted to go to an exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.  As I walked down Broadway, I was a bit hungry.  Not wanting to actually go to a restaurant, I finally tried out a small taco food truck.  Delicious and only $2, perfect!  I happily entered the Library, and on my way to the exhibit I was there for, I noticed beautiful photographs lining the hallway.  An unheralded exhibition of Michael Peto’s Photography took my breath away.   
From the NYPL’s website:  A collaborative project with the University of Dundee, Scotland, National Portrait Gallery, London, The Observer, and The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
Three institutions in London, New York and Edinburgh will program a season of portfolio exhibitions by the Hungarian-born photojournalist Michael Peto (1908-1970) from The Peto Collection at the University of Dundee. Best known for his coverage of 1950s and 1960s performance in London for The Observer newspaper, Tatler and The (London) Times, this exhibition examines Peto's signature approach to celebrity images of actors, musicians and dancers.  Featured in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts exhibit are his photographs of Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the legendary partnership of Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, and, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their stardom, The Beatles.”
I then found my way into “The Line King. Al Hirschfield.”  OMG, it was an amazing exhibit.  Also from the NYPL webiste: “Al Hirschfeld’s career began at Goldwyn Pictures in 1920 across the street from the main branch of the New York Public Library, and over the next nine decades, Hirschfeld and the Library grew even closer. Hirschfeld availed himself of The Library’s book and picture collections, he attended its events, and was a lifelong supporter. Over the years, the Library has collected original Hirschfeld drawings, paintings, and prints, and its shelves are filled with books and publications featuring Hirschfeld artwork (including fifty years of the Best Plays series), as well as posters, album covers, and all manner of ephemera. His barber chair and drawing table, where he created virtually all of his work, now greets visitors to The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on the plaza of Lincoln Center.
Al Hirschfeld (1903 – 2003) brought a new set of visual conventions to the task of  performance portraiture when he made his debut in 1926. His signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, made his name a verb: to be "Hirschfelded" was a sign that one has arrived. Hirschfeld said his contribution was to take the character, created by the playwright and portrayed by the actor, and reinvent it for the reader. Playwright Terrence McNally wrote: "No one 'writes' more accurately of the performing arts than Al Hirschfeld. He accomplishes on a blank page with his pen and ink in a few strokes what many of us need a lifetime of words to say."
Now for the first time, the largest library collection of Hirschfeld artwork and archival material will be brought together in a new exhibition, The Line King’s Library: Al Hirschfeld at The New York Public Library, in the Oenslager Gallery at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Al Hirschfeld’s birth, and to celebrate the latest gift of Hirschfeld papers and objects.” 
Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady
I appreciated these thoughts from the Exhibition brochure: “Line as movement-prancing, skipping, twisting and dancing, according to critic Michael Kimmelan, “was the vehicle through which Hirschfield conveyed the adrenaline rush of live theatre and his absorption in the here and now, resulting in art that looks eternally, uncannily fresh.”   And, as the playwright William Saroyan wrote in 1941, “I like everything of Hirschfeld’s  I’ve seen.  I don’t know why and I don’t need to know why.  I like people like Hirschfeld because they’re the best, and I like what they do because they can’t help it and only want you to be happy.”  Perfectly said.  I agree.
(New Yorkers, and anyone coming to New York City, these exhibits both end January 4th and are free!  Run, don’t walk!
Accumulating a collection of lanyards!
           By now it was time to head over to sign-in for Lincoln Square’s Winter’s Eve.  It is NYC’s Largest Holiday Festival (all along Broadway from Time Warner Center to 68th Street), with live music, family fun, dancing, all free with food from some of the area’s best restaurants from $1-4!  After enjoying my box dinner, I simply had to hand out the evening’s programs and glowsticks! along Restaurant Row.   I was right across the street from the tree lighting, although I couldn’t really hear Arlo Guthrie.  It was fun, easy, if not pretty crowded at times.  That is New York, and I did get to see some true New Yorkers almost duke it out in regards to lines for one of the biggest named restuarants!  Never a dull moment.  When the need died down for programs, I meandered along Broadway being entertained by many groups including Batala NYC, an all women’s AfroBrazilian Drum Corps.  I spoke with Stacy Kovacs, Artistic Director, and this group will now be part of the VDay celebration on February 14.  I enjoyed some of the food.  I went to the Time Warner Center, always one of the spectacular sites during the Holidays, and enjoyed the music of the Kate Davis Jazz Trio, presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center.  I then ventured to the Empire Hotel’s Rooftop Bar for the final musical event of the night, the Stephane Wrembel Trio.  Great fun!

            Because the night was still young, by New York City standards, I went into my standby, yes Sojourn, for more music with  Karen and the Sugar Daddies.  The air was electric.  Everyone was up and wanted to play.  We all danced.  It was amazing!