Thursday, December 31, 2009
How can I say this politely? Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!
2010? You're looking great with or without my reading glasses on.
Looking forward to a New Year filled with good health for all, laughter in unlimited supply, time with friends, more cooking, more writing, more love....
and much more PEACE.
Cheers to all my blog friends!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
We began Christmas Eve at the Christmas pageant at St. Luke's Church - Ben's old school chapel and my church. Was it only four years ago that Ben was one of the "we-three-kings"? It was a crisp night. The streets were wet with the fading signs of snow and drizzle that made the lights of the City glisten even more.
New York is good at making its way through the winter. And fabulous at Christmas.
We then ventured onward from the West Village to Chelsea to the home of my dear friends L and C. Each Christmas Eve, they throw a wonderful gathering for their neighborhood friends that includes the best Tex-Mex food I've ever had. It is so great to be at a party with people of all ages and walks of life. It felt like the City at its best.
After we said our goodbyes, I stepped outside and looked up to see the nearby Empire State Building in all its Christmas glory looking down on me. It felt like the embrace of an old friend. My first Christmas gift -- and it was a beauty.
We got home at midnight and fell fast asleep...even Santa couldn't wake us up.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I've been running in and out of the City for the last few days. It is such a comfort to pass through Grand Central Terminal. You can't help but linger at one of the Christmas Fair stalls, small stores or stop by one of the eateries on the bottom floor.
I feel so at home at Grand Central. As a landmark, it holds a special place in the heart of the City. There is so much to explore, so many beautiful details in its design. Everything is bathed in a golden light that can feel quite soothing as your hectic day begins or ends.
During the holidays, music plays across the grand hall of the terminal with a colorful laser show projected across the ceiling. It's corny and festive at the same time.
It's a special place. I love it.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Between the elderly World War II vets and active military dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are about 30 funerals a day there. After you fill out the paper work they let you know the earliest date available for the service.
It was a beautiful event. My husband and son made eloquent remarks at the service although Ben began choking on his tears half way through. I was very proud of my husband Brian. He spoke with grace and thoughtfulness.
Afterward six gray horses ridden by soldiers pulled the caisson that carried the single coffin to the burial site. Military officers involved in the ceremony march behind with family members following.
They remove the flag and fold it in an elaborate ritual then presented it to my step mother in law. After the twenty one gun salute they play Taps. Some closing prayers were made and the ceremony came to an end.
It was a tough weekend. The house was officially sold two weeks ago and his widow will be moving back to Missouri in a few months to live near her two sons in St. Louis. Not having a place to go back to is hard for Brian and Ben. It feels like his father died and every sign of him was wiped away...at least it feels that way now.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
New York ‘Loses Its Edge’
London Times columnist Stefanie Marsh suggested Manhattan has finally embraced middle American values this week, and concluded that ‘New York has lost its edge’.
The British culture critic suggested many of the city’s creative types have long opted for Berlin and London leaving bankers living in ‘shiny faceless luxury condos’ and buying US$700 Ramones T shirts from ‘super-high end boutiques’ built out of the detritus of CBGBs.
On a brighter note she noted that Manhattan’s financiers are nowadays regarded as ‘some of the most reviled people on earth’ with some clubs actively cancelling annual corporate memberships.
“We want to distance ourselves from bankers, even if they helped to set us up in the first place,” one (anonymous) club promoter told the Times, “They’re pariahs. Money is just not cool any more.”
The article appeared just as the New York Times revealed that thousands of the America’s artists have earned less in the last 12 months with almost one in five (18%) seeing their income drop by 50% between 2008 and 2009.
5,300 musicians, architects, writers and filmmakers responded to a survey commissioned by arts organization Leveraging Investments in Creativity, which also revealed that almost all artists (94%) earned less than US$80,000, despite many having college degrees.
“A lot of the artists who were reporting were telling us, ‘I live in a recession all the time, so this downturn has really not been so different for me,’ ” study chief Judilee Reed told the New York Times.
Brit in Amsterdam techno legend Dave Clarke flew into New York this week for the first time in a while and revealed he was disappointed with the City in a typical blunt Twitter post.
“In the words of Blake Baxter "New York . . .What Happened?",” Dave quizzed.
“Someone tell me where did the scene in NY go? Don't blame the Mayor please,” he added.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
After years of trial and error, I have learned that the way to navigate a happy Thanksgiving meal to focus on the food and the gratitude.
Try hard to leave the politics, the religion, the past and the future at the door. I reflected quite a bit on the all of the Americans who are far far from home and trying to stay alive in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These people need to come home to their families. Let's send out a collective peace vibe.
And now for my turkey manifesto....
There is no better way to prepare a turkey than to brine it. Seriously, folks - it is wonderful every time. I use the recipe you can find on the Yankee Magazine homepage. Check it out - you won't regret it!
Wishing the world peace and peace of mind as we enter into the holiday season.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I'm just not into it. Too much has gone on in the last few months. People passing away, moving, new school for Ben, Ben being sad. And yet, we are all in good health, we have good jobs and a nice home large enough to hold all of our books, artwork and instruments. As a mom, it's important for me to set a tone of holiday excitement.
I wish Snoopy was real.
Monday, November 16, 2009
It was nice to see all the familiar merchants on my block. I miss them.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I would like to tell you that I lovingly made this Mr. Met head by hand but that would be a TOTAL LIE. My husband made it for Ben for Halloween with all the determination and care of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.
I must confess that I had very serious doubts that this project could be pulled off in seven days. Fortunately Brian has a good dose of midwest tenacity in his veins. Unlike me, a hard core New Yorker, who would have said "screw it" within the first 48 hours.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
The last three months have been one earthquake after another with little time for truly setting up home and nesting. That is what we plan to do until the year ends.
I have been in Strawberry Fields for about five months. Here is my assessment. I love being in the fresh(er) air even though I am just 25 minutes outside of the Big Apple. I love the relationship I am building with the Hudson River and Connecticut. I love the quiet and the sounds of nature during all hours of the day and night. I love how much easier life feels since I have stepped away from the frenetic pace I kept in my old neighborhood. I love my calm ten minute commute to and from work.
And yet there is this funny tape loop going on in my head that cannot be silenced....
"this place would be so great if there were no people in it."...or at least less of the people I see.
With a full career and family triage, I haven't ventured out to meet new people. But the times I have been in group settings leaves me totally disinterested. Maybe I'm just getting old and can't be bothered since I already have a big basket of buddies. Maybe I am just enjoying the anonymity too much. It is liberating.
Yesterday night Ben shared a description of an "obstacle illusion" he was just busting to tell us about. I now accept that term into my everyday vernacular.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
My husband does not lose much sleep over brand loyalty of any kind. For reasons of politics and gender, he cannot be bothered. Unless, of course, you are talking about beer.
Brian's love, loyalty and pure devotion to Narragansett Beer began in his Rhode Island youth in 1970's. It was associated with the Red Sox and Paw Sox. And it was a working man's beer that was highly visible in the Providence area - a city he still holds great affection for.
Naragansett is a local beer with modest distribution and even more modest marketing strategies. It is not available in NYC. When we go to the Cape for the summer, my husband drinks it like mother's milk....only it is much easier to find a nursing mother on the Cape than a bottle of Narragansett.
He was leaving work in Connecticut a few weeks ago and nearly drove off the road when he saw signs of Narragansett beer available at a small package store.
I am sure that my husband was hugging the six pack he purchased like he was cradling the baby Jesus. The proprietor immediately picked up on the spiritual bond and offered to order cases for Brian whenever he wanted.
Brian has experienced so much grief lately. I would like to believe that an angel guided him to that package store and to the beer that reminds him of happier days when the Red Sox were the only thing that could break his heart.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Right after midnight on September 14th, my husband's father died of a hematoma. He had just successfully finished his first round of radiation and chemo for advanced prostate cancer. He fell over Labor Day weekend and hit his head, refusing to sit in an emergency room for twelve hours "to get a band aid".
By the following Wednesday, he was disoriented and they rushed him into the ER. The first brain procedure worked. The second brain procedure didn't. My husband rushed down and never left his side in the ICU for three days and nights other than to eat or get coffee. My son and I joined him on Sunday after it seemed likely that he may not ever become conscious. Ultimately, all the tubes were removed and he passed away peacefully about twelve hours later with family surrounding him.
Being with someone when they are dying is like being with someone when they are giving birth. It's an extraordinary deliverance. A mystery. Most important, it's an honor to be with them as they enter into God's loving embrace.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
This place is a tonic for us. Everything is green, lush and beautiful. The Housatonic River is running higher than last summer. Driving along the waterside, you see a sprinkling of fly fishermen (and fisherwomen!) wading into the sunny center of the water with their graceful rods and lines in hand.
We choose to stay on land and hike up a small mountain in Cornwall. Nothing like hiking up a mountain to get a sense of just how out of shape you are! The three of us huffed and puffed. There were tears, laughter, much whining and ultimately a sense of pride as we got to the top ridge without killing each other. It was an amazing view of the hills surrounding us and a bit funny to be so high up that hawks were flying just 30 feet above our heads.
We needed to climb that mountain today and I'm glad we did.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Yes folks, Ellen-eve is upon us. The cool summer evening just before my birthday. A time for reflection and gratitude. Also a time for resolutions for the new year.
Well, I did realize a few big resolutions. I left my job for a more peaceful and low key environment. With the economic downturn, it is difficult to find any college/university that is experiencing peace and tranquility but where I'm at is pretty good overall.
I moved to Strawberry Fields and into a real life apartment...which we continue to acclimate to. Ben still has his mattress in our room. His bedroom is just too darn far away for his liking.
Now I have to sit down and figure out what my hopes, wishes and dreams are for the approaching year.
I have decided however that this year's theme is:
More to come. And I wish all of you a wonderful Ellen-eve, filled with good health and happiness!!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
July was a very rough month that included a major move, a sudden and sad death and major let down. Right now we are enjoying the final days of a few weeks in Truro (Cape Cod).
Promise not to bore you to tears when I get back on Sunday.
Hoping you are all in good health and good spirits. Look forward to reading up on your blogs.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Well, we are almost moved in.
You can't see the East Village from our windows, that's for sure. For the purposes of my blog and my soul, I will now refer to my new outer city location as Strawberry Fields. It's fitting on so many levels...as I will come to explain over time.
God is good -- we live below someone who plays a large grand piano and they play beautifully -- even when they screw up and play the same line over and over again. Our windows are open and the music simply floats in.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
This morning I was making breakfast for my family while listening to Obama's speech live from Cairo. At first, I went about my chores partially focused on his words. As the speech progressed, I found myself standing still and just listening to the radio. What a powerful and moving speech.
When I returned home from work today, I watched it on youtube and took it all in again. I can't explain how moved I was to hear our leader speaking so thoughtfully and respectfully to the Arab world. I have a good number of Arab/Iranian and Muslim friends and acquaintances. Living in this country can be very painful for them -- even though they are as American as I am. Obama's remarks started a healing process we haven't known since 9/11. Salam.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Holder issued the following statement:
The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Tears came to my eyes today as I learned that Prop 8 in California was upheld by the State Supreme Court.
Once again, same sex couples, their families and their precious children were relegated to being second class citizens.
Everyone in this country is entitled to equal opportunity for human dignity.
Jesus would agree.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friends congratulated me on my fine treatment and I responded with gratitude and praise for my beloved family.
I kinda left out the part that being nice to me on Mom's Day is akin to leaving symbolic offerings on the edge of a live volcano and that my husband is well aware of this unspoken fact.
Being a mom is hard work. It's easy to feel invisible because in a sense, you are as fundamental to the life of your family as a major utility. One day last year, a slight change in the details of a holiday led to one of the most memorable gifts of my mommyhood.
It was Easter and I was extremely burned out and depressed at my old job. It was all I could do to throw together Easter baskets for Ben and Brian -- a ritual I usually perform with relish. When Ben woke up and found his basket, he looked a bit confused. There was no small stuffed Snoopy to be found. I apologized and admitted my surprise that he noticed. He then went on to describe in minute detail the contents of every Easter basket I ever gave him and our routines for other holidays. Tears of amazement came rolling down my cheeks.
Jesus,,, they really do notice!
I hope all the hard working moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day. Cheers to you! And cheers to the kid who spray painted the Mother's Day greeting on the 9th Street sidewalk that I have posted above. I walk by it everyday and smile.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
He was quite teary eyed as he loaded onto the bus. And naturally Brian and I felt like we were playing out a scene in Sophie's Choice. Yes, I missed him very much but more than that I wanted him to be happy and free in this new experience.
Well, Ben returned on Friday afternoon and it is no exaggeration to say that I was looking at a boy who'd taken a big step into tweenhood. He was a smiling, smelly mess as he swaggered into the car with his muddy hiking boots on. He said "Mom, I loved the camp we were at. It was so much fun and you know, I didn't miss you and Daddy like I thought I would. It was okay."
I just returned from Nino's where I took Ben and his friend Roland to chomp on pizza. Unfortunately, I had to drag them to Russo's for some Italian dinner items and Commodities for some organic food stuff. They both bravely walked along side me in the rain sans an umbrella. Bad Mommy! I was struck by their twenty minute conversation about Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece - they spoke with the authority of two young gods looking down from Mt. Olympus laughing sadly at those pathetic humans.
By the time we reached the doorstep, I was ready to give them both the Mighty Dork award. I gave them cookies instead.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I am sitting in my bedroom-to-be with three large windows open and it is perfectly quiet except for the cars passing by periodically. My husband and son are playing guitar in the living room-to-be. I can't see them and I hear them...at a distance.
This is so odd and scary. To call their names and to not be heard immediately.
Toto -- we're not in the East Village anymore. At least not tonight. My bedroom has a bathroom attached to it. What am I doing with two bathrooms? Maybe I should sublet one.
My dog Saki is staying close by me and wondering where the hell we are too.
My bedroom window faces the side of a beautiful stone church. Who in this town is a friggin Baptist? I can assure you, I'll be doing some research into that question as soon as I'm settled in during the Fall.
Please God -- let me know that we're doing the right thing living here for three years....not that I'm already counting.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Last night I went to see the Broadway play Impressionism starring Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen.
Many critics had mixed reviews but I loved it. My friend Mike G. joined me for what turned out to be a perfect evening. Mike G. and I have known each other since I returned to New York many moons ago. We met at work and became fast friends.
He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn and he spends a lot of time telling me that it is only a 30 minute trip from my place to his place. I enjoy laughing robustly at this tall tale. People in Brooklyn love to tell you that it only takes 15/20/25/30 (FILL IN) minutes to get to the East Village.
And it is always a fantasy.
Other than that, Mike G. is pretty much a perfectly fabulous and loving friend. He teaches seventh grade at a tough Brooklyn middle school and enriches a lot of lives every day with his creativity and humor. He is cute, smart and dives into all New York City has to offer. Of course, I will not rest until he finds a wonderful guy and I dance at his wedding.
Both of us have crazy schedules but we try to carve out time every couple of months to get together. We decided a while ago that we are committed to signing up at the same assisted living facility and enjoy rehearsing the things that we'll be doing when we are 85 and the mini bus drops us off in the City to have a few hours of fun.
Before the play, we decided to go to the MOST RIDICULOUS BAR/LOUNGE WE COULD THINK OF AND AGREED ON A CAMPY SPOT PLANTED RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF TIMES SQUARE.
Yes, it was a risk. But when you are rehearsing your life as an assisted living day tripper, you laugh in the face of risk.
The campy crazy bar/lounge was GREAT. We laughed and had a ball, lingering far too long over our drinks. Mike G. made me swear I would keep the location a secret or it would get overrun with even MORE tourists and freaky locals (like us). Luckily, we slipped into the theater a few precious minutes before the curtain went up.
Afterwards, the clock struck 10 and being the nice Catholic boy that he is, Mike G. escorted me to the subway since EVI was pooped after a long work day. Not so for my beloved Mike G. - the night was still young with lots of the Big Apple left to bite.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
So what does this have to do with the East Village? I've been finding it difficult to write about the neighborhood for much of the same reasons. It's coming time to go. To leave the building I've known since my birth. I don't know that this will ever be my home again -- even though I will visit from time to time and will be in the neighborhood often.
American culture tends to downplay the sanctity in a sense of place. Our economy wants us to be mobile and our character is ever onward and upward. But love it or hate it, we all sprouted somewhere and it's in our blood. In many ways, I'm at peace with our next steps. The generations of family who walked these same streets have taught me all the things they thought I should know. They've given me their blessing and I see it every day in the spirit of my son.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
He developed childhood leukemia in the early 70's and was one of the first group of kids to survive. The chemo lightened his hair permanently but it also damaged his heart...as he was to discover a few years ago.
The operation had some twists and turns that sent him back into surgery. His heart stopped twice.
He will have one more procedure, remain in ICU for a few days then off to a cardio rehab center. He is 46 years old.
We're not kids anymore. Although we are still eating the same amount of candy.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
I'm having a blog crisis.
There is so much to write about that I find it difficult to commit to one topic and post. So I sit frozen in front of my laptop and visit everyone else's blog instead. This has been going on for weeks.
Please be patient with me.
The economic downfall hit New York immediately but the downward economic "real feel" has taken a few months. Well folks, thousands of people in the NY area lost their jobs in the last five months. Stores are selling items at up to 70% off in spaces that demand high rents. Small businesses are going out of business everywhere around me in the East Village.
Except for my blessed hair stylist at Swing.
Luis and his partner Caroline have a cozy, ecofriendly salon that caters to East Villagers and the devotees that followed them here from Brooklyn. It's a very warm, neighborhoody place and that is why I will go there forever and ever. They also use organic products and since I, EVI, need to work hard (cough, umm) at keeping my bouncy thick brunette hair ummm staying bouncy and brunette, then organic is the way to go.
So I asked Luis how business was going. He said it was brisk. Lots of people coming in to get their hair styled for interviews, networking events, or just trying to look better than everyone else as a means to survive the rounds of layoffs.
There is something very New York to me about the importance of looking good -- even in the face of doom.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Joseph Ades at work in Union Square, demonstrating his precision potato and carrot peelers.
Note from EVI - I frequently passed this fellow at the Greenmarket in Union Square. He finally showed up at Tompkins Square Park Green Market and did his thing - it was like performance art. I bought a peeler immediately and it is all he said it would be!!! Enjoy the following obit from The Villager:
He serves up potato peelers with a slice of style
By Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke
On any given sunny spring day at the Union Square Greenmarket, a large crowd gathers around Joseph Ades. Known as the “Gentleman Peeler,” Ades wears classic tweed suits and silk ties, sits in a low crouch and demonstrates slicing and peeling potatoes and carrots with an ordinary-looking peeler. In addition to simple peeling and slicing, Ades demonstrates how to use the peeler to make “real, three-sided French fries,” slice carrots in flower shapes so that “your kids will eat their veggies,” and make easy, shredded carrots.
“Right-handed or left-handed — or, like a politician, underhanded — these peelers work,” says Ades, in his British-accented sales pitch. Ades boasts that he is the only person who sells the Swiss-made, stainless-steel tools.
“One for $5 or five for 20 — you can’t get anything else from Switzerland for $5! A Swiss army knife costs $70.”
When I asked for an interview, Ades pointed to a laminated Vanity Fair article.
“I’m spoken for, love,” he said. “[Vanity Fair writer] Howard Kaplan writes about me.”
“Five pages in Vanity Fair — Julia Roberts on the cover and me inside!” Ades told the crowd during his afternoon pitch.
Ades was profiled in the May 2006 “Green issue” of the magazine. The profile describes his habit of drinking Veuve Cliquot Champagne at the Pierre, where he was a regular. When wealthy patrons of the Pierre inquired into Ades’s profession, he said he sold potato peelers. The patrons assumed he was joking until they saw him hawking his signature product on the street.
Ades, 74, came here from England more than 10 years ago. At age 15 in his hometown of Manchester, he learned the art of “grafting,” or selling and demonstrating products. He also learned never to underestimate a small amount of money.
Ades stores his inventory in the maid’s room of his Park Ave. apartment. According to an obituary in The New York Times, artist Estelle Pascoe, Ades’s wife, passed away last fall.
Ades can be found at the northwest corner of Union Square’s north plaza on most Greenmarket days, but he also sells his peelers on various corners around the city. Both New Yorkers and visitors photograph him and post the pictures on blogs as a way to convey an authentic New York experience. He has also been featured on fashion blogs for his dapper outfits.
During his pitch, he often dismisses the idea that his demonstration is simply a trick. “This is not Times Square, this is Union Square,” said Ades. “If this was a scam, I wouldn’t still be here.”
After watching the Gentleman Peeler at work, I decided to buy a peeler myself.
“You convinced me,” I said. “Can I convince you to let me ask you a few questions?”
Ades agreed and told me to come back that evening at 6, but by 5:30, the only trace of him was a stray potato peel on the sidewalk.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
...but I decided to make chocolate chocolate chip cookies anyway because I thought Ben and Brian would enjoy it. It came from a recipe from Rosie's Cookie Book. Rosie's Bakery are the wonderful people who baked my wedding cake over 19 years ago when I lived in Cambridge MA. It is a wonderful place.
But these cookies sucked. Yes, they were chocolaty and yes, they had a wonderful light and fluffy texture. But they had no soul. Brian and Ben ate them but they missed the old southern chocolate chip recipe that Brian's grandma baked throughout his childhood.
I would not usually take the time to write about this stuff but there were so many dam steps to this recipe and I was so friggin diligent. Plus I don't like chocolate. It brings me down. Well...unless it's chocolate chip mint ice cream.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I'm over it.
Can we please have a break and hit say...35 degrees? This City can't handle frigid weather. It refuses to submit to the change in fashion that is mandatory for survival in arctic weather patterns.
I'm beginning to want to hibernate.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
and then someone coming from the west side let's the crowd at the bus stop know that a plane just crash landed into the Hudson River and is floating a few blocks north of my son's school.
The landing was miraculous as was the rescue effort. How in the world everyone survived is beyond me. The "good fortune" to crash land near the New York Water Taxi docking area...what are the chances of that? Or the chances of not crashing into the George Washington Bridge -clearing it by 1000 feet. Unbelievable. The pilot showed great leadership in great crisis.
Life went on as usual just a day later. ..It's a post 9/11 world. Luckily we have an Obama administration to help us navigate our own crash landing -- we'll all have to help in the rescue effort.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
It takes a certain level of entitlement to seek this position without serving as a public servant/ or visible public advocate beforehand. At the same time, her media draw may be something New York politicos think will serve the state.
Isn't there anyone else?