Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Around the World

Bangkok, 1989

A "tuk-tuk" in Bangkok
The Thai Royal Summer Palace
I loved the topiary elephants.

Dear Gentle Readers, you've given me some great suggestions. Some of the places suggested are already great favorites of mine. One is Thailand. I've been there three times, but I'd go back in a heart beat. I've had the good fortune to travel to Israel, England and Italy, but for all of these places I couldn't be there too often. I've been to Greece -- on a wonderful trip with my college roommate -- where we also went to Egypt, but I'd love a summer in Rhodes or Santorini.

High on my list yet to visit are Japan and Ireland. And then in the more exotic realm I'm eager to see Bhutan and Laos. And someday if I win Lotto, I am going to the North Pole. That is truly my dream trip.
Coming tomorrow! Buttercup sees the World. Can't wait to share it with you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

If You Could Go Anywhere in the World...

...where would you go?
I asked myself that question four years ago and the answer was India. I had always wanted to see the Taj Mahal and I did! It was a great trip, though not without one gigantic hiccup. I signed up for a tour and was assured that there were three other travelers who would be with me. When I arrived in Delhi, after flying endless hours, I found out I was traveling alone. I was distraught for the first day and then realized I had to deal with it. It was a little lonely, but I fell into the rhythm, was blessed with a gracious and considerate driver and enjoyed the sights immensely.
I love to travel and love to plan trips almost as much as I love to go on them. I've been a "have passport, will travel" kind of girl and have some frequent flyer miles burning a hole in my desk. I've got some ideas, but not ready to make a decision. I'm thinking somewhere in Asia, but know my dear blog friends will have great ideas.
If you could go anywhere in the world -- not thinking about cost or difficulty of getting there -- where would you like to go? Would you return to favorite places or see a long desired place?
Looking forward to your ideas!

Let the Sun Shine!

Finally, finally after three weeks we had two real days of sunshine. No umbrellas for two whole days. I'd almost forgotten how good that feels. I did some running around -- banks, post office, pharmacy and groceries -- and got to services and to two plays.

"The Tin Pan Alley Rag" is about a meeting between Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin. The acting was very good and the music -- Berlin and Joplin -- even better. It was a totally enjoyable evening.

The second play, "Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe" is a very loose Gospel version of Moliere's "Tartuffe." Tartuffe is pictured on the currency above. The music was great and the cast, which included Andre de Shields (on the currency) who I'd seen in "Ain't Misbehavin" years ago and Ted Lange, Isaac Washington on "The Love Boat" were terrific. It was a completely fun afternoon.

Wishes to all for a great week!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I came home and started going through my email. One pleasure is looking at this blog and seeing the places where people who have stopped by are from. The entire left side of the blog has disappeared. No places, no Shelfari, no friends, no past posts. I'd appreciate it if one of my gentle readers would let me know if this is the case when you stop by, or is it a phenomenon just for me.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm Not Just Excited...

...I'm jumping for joy!

Tom and Jess, circa 1991

The adorable girl on the right is my goddaughter, Jess. The adorable boy on the left is her brother, Tom. This was the first day of school in 1991 -- or maybe 1990. My friend, Kathy, their mom, sent it to me. I loved it and put it up on the refrigerator, where it remained to this day.

There have been two high school graduations, two college graduations, and many great talks, visits and lots of warmth, laughter and memories, including our trip to Panama in 2000.

Now there is a new chapter. This sweet boy is now an adult, studying for a graduate degree. And last night he became engaged to his lovely Julia. I haven't posted recent photos, but I am delighted to post this photo of Julia, which is both private and sweet. The Tetons are in the background.

Tom and Julia, I am so happy for both of you. I wish you every joy and a long, happy and healthy life together. I will be delighted to celebrate with you any time, any place. Lots of love to both of you and to dear Kathy and Jess. I am jumping for joy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Three Small Blocks...

I found some treasures!

I had another meeting in Lower Manhattan this morning and I was amazed at what blogworthy riches I discovered in just three blocks.

I routinely pass the NY Stock Exchange on my walk from the subway to my agency’s building. Frequently there are events outside the stock exchange when companies are making announcements. The event today was very different. At first I thought a “Ghost Busters” type movie was being filmed. There were two men in red jump suits holding two very odd instruments. Unusual sounds were emerging, which were odd even by NYC standards. After chatting with a third man from the group who was filming the experience I learned that this was part of the Floating Lab Collective, a group of performance artists. They had previously asked people to make a telephone call and “Scream at the Economy." The screams were then taped and turned into (atonal) music, which is what was being played, “as a performance in public space in front of financial institutions.” They may be coming soon to a financial institution in your town.

Down the block and around the corner I found more filming. No stars and no active filming, but all the signs and equipment for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” With a little bit of googling I found that Nicholas Cage is the star and it is based on the Disney "Sorcerer's Apprentice." It's scheduled for release next summer.

My third discovery came across the street from one of the areas marked for filming, “Ciao Bow Wow” Dog Day Care/Grooming Spa and Pet Boutique. I was especially taken with aromatherapy as part of the grooming. As I was eating lunch (in my favorite Cosi around the corner) I saw a Bernese Mountain dog walking down Broad Street, the same street as the stock exchange. I wonder if he was going for an aromatherapy session at Ciao Bow Wow.

Dear Gentle Readers, I have to thank you for your comments and interest in the sights and sounds of New York City. I’ve very much enjoyed keeping an eye out for blogworthy and interesting places and events. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the sights of New York City, but having all of you to share it with has made it even better.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taking a Knee

I belong to an online prayer group and post there regularly. Most of my posts are in a section for people who are 50+, Golden Eagles. There's a group of a dozen or so of us who post regularly. People are from all over the world and from varied religious traditions. It's a very supportive group and I've greatly enjoyed visiting there. Last year I had the good fortune to meet one of my "Golden Eagle" friends, Paula, and what a great visit we had. She was as thoughtful and lovely in person as in her writing.

Paula posted this essay yesterday and I''ve been thinking about it all day. With her permission I'm glad to share it.

Taking a knee?

No, I'm not talking about kneeling in prayer! Not being a sports fan, I had never heard this "taking a knee" term until our youth pastor brought it up in a sermon a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, it is a football term (and sometimes used in soccer) to refer to a play where sometimes the quarterback after the snap simply drops to one knee and hangs onto the ball rather than running. This is done when they are ahead a lot or unable to score before the half. So in order to not risk injury or fumbling and the other team recovering the ball, they simply "take a knee" and let the clock run out.

So...since then I've evaluated whether in my life at this
point, in some ways, I'm "taking a knee" and letting the clock run out. I hope not but in some ways, I think I probably am.

Today on a secular forum someone suggested that older workers often seemed "tired" or "burned out." Which could just reflect how they feel about their
job, not necessarily their age. So ...not sure that's valid, but I thought it might be interesting for us to discuss on this forum since we are 50+.

Do you think most older people are "taking a knee" now in life? Do you think you are?

This is something I think about often. Am I too old to write a book, take on a new job, learn a new skill? Am I "taking a knee" and just doing what's familiar and comfortable? I don't think so, but it is something I am concerned about.

Dear gentle readers, I am interested in your thoughts, whether you are 50+ or 50-.

Wishes for a great week ahead!

Remembering Tim Russert

It's Father's Day and Sunday morning and a year and a week since Tim died. In a different part of my life Tim and I crossed paths many times and how blessed I was. And how blessed we all were for Tim's presence.

Some people's presence in your life makes it better and some people's presence in the world makes the world better. That was Tim. When I first met Tim he was working for Sen. Moynihan and Tim was a close friend of a colleague. He'd drop in to visit Bob and just come by and say hello. I worked in a room with five other people -- noisy but lots of fun -- and during his visit he'd stop and chat. Sometimes he'd be part of a group who would have a drink together after work. Tim was friendly, smart and without any pretense.

I've loved reading "Big Russ & Me." This is a wonderful memoir of two men, Big Russ, Tim's father, and Tim. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it. I especially enjoyed the stories of Tim's growing up in Buffalo, which reminded me so much of details of my growing up years in Hartford.

To my father, to Kathy's father and Jess' grandfather, who was so dear to me and to Tim, happy Father's Day with the warmest of remembrances and thanks.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

(More) Sidewalks of New York

To New York City

I was in lower Manhattan for a meeting and remembered my camera. These photos are from a rainy morning a week ago.

Quiet and rainy weekend ahead. Today I am going upstate to attend a memorial mass for the mother of one of my colleagues. My only plan for Sunday is to get my hair colored. I'm going to be totally spontaneous on Sunday afternoon and find some little adventure. Any suggestions?

Rode past the movie site last night and all the bunting and decorations have been taken down and it was just a street in Greenpoint once again.

Wishes for a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Street Where I Walk

This is our movie! "The Bounty," a comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler.

After more googling I found it!

On the ride home we once again passed the film site and tonight, too, the Fourth of July parade was being filmed. I chatted with one of the security staff and got the proper name of the movie and that Gerard Butler, of "300" was starring. As I craned my neck hoping for a glimpse of the extremely attractive Mr. Butler, the security person let me know he had left the filming for the day.

These few minutes tonight really redeemed an otherwise less than stellar day. I began the day with an 8:00 a.m. appointment for physical therapy for a very achy ankle. That hour included me just about screaming during some "massage" to break up scar tissue where I'd been injured in a hot air balloon incident. The afternoon included two hours with no phone service to our building, which includes three call centers. Not fun! But just the thought that Gerard Butler could be on the street where I walk was enough to send me just about dancing!

Wishing you all moments of happy surprise and delight!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My City of Neighborhoods

When I started the job I've had for the last 15+ years one of the goals was to "build an outreach program," for my small division of a very big government agency. I knew Manhattan pretty well, but didn't know my way at all around the other four boroughs -- the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. I'd been to all of them but to visit the Bronx Zoo, see friends in Brooklyn, relatives in Queens and very rarely to Staten Island. It's a big city, but we were the little unit that could. I still work with the staff member I began this assignment with and honestly, I'm not sure it could have been done without him. Russ is a great guy and over the years we've shared literally hundreds of programs at senior centers, churches, community groups, VA hosptals and public schools. We've been joined by a number of other folks over the years and there have been great days and less great days, when the audiences for our presentations have been less than friendly.

One of the best parts of being part of these programs all over New York City is the opportunity to get to really know all of the neighborhoods that make up New York. It is really a city of small towns, some gritty, some quaint, some beautiful and all interesting. One of my favorite discoveries is Greenpoint, in Brooklyn. We saw the movie filming there yesterday -- drove through today and they were filming the fourth of July parade with the float -- and I want to share some other photos of the neighborhood.

Greenpoint's development began in 1834. Across the East River from Manhattan it soon became a site of ship building and the Monitor was built there in 1862. The houses in the photo were built in the 1850s and 1860s. The bottom photo shows some of the industrial buildings that line the blocks along the river. These buildings are gradually being converted to stores and housing, but some still remain for industrial use.
So glad I can share one of my favorite neighborhoods in my city of neighborhoods!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Movie Mania Strikes Again

I've taken to carrying my camera with me just in case I find something "blog worthy," and on most days I am taking pictures. I was riding with a colleague tonight on my way to being dropped off at the subway and as we were driving down a quiet side street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn I spotted the big trailers that are the sign that a movie is being made. He graciously went around the block to pull over so that I could take pictures to share with all of my dear gentle readers.

The movie is "Bounty" and despite intense googling I couldn't find any information about it. The street was decorated to look like the Fourth of July in a small town. I've thought for years that Greenpoint looks out of another era, as there's been little renovation and the signage and small stores have the look I remember from the '50s and '60s. Obviously other people thought the same way. I especially like seeing the movie equipment together with the street decoration for the film.
So enjoyed sharing my evening's excitement!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Love the Night Life (7)

On Friday night I had the good fortune to see the play, "Ruined." This year's Pulitzer Prize for drama, it's set in the Congo and tells the story of people trying to survive in a terrible situation. The acting was superb, and despite the tragic background and events it's a hopeful play. I saw it as a benefit for a terrific group, "Women to Women International" and had the an opportunity after the play to hear the author, Lynn Nottage, and members of the cast discuss the play. Women to Women does terrific work around the world supporting women in areas that have been affected by civil war and unrest.
I think that's my play going for this season. There's nothing else on the horizon right now. It's been a terrific season. From a small New England town in "Our Town" to a bar in the Congo in "Ruined" I feel that I've seen the world and had my world changed without even leaving New York.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm So Excited!

It's rare when I read the newspaper and I'm ready to jump up and down with happiness. But it happened this morning while I was reading the real estate section of the NY Times. One of my favorite stores, Michael's is coming to Manhattan, and it's very easy walking distance from where I live. The article didn't say when it was scheduled to open, but Whole Foods (another favorite) which will also be in the same group of stores is scheduled for August, so I hope Michael's will be following right behind. Now if they'd just bring a Christmas Tree Store my shopping world would be complete.
Wishing you dear hearts to share your days!

Happy Birthday, Dear Jess

Tomorrow is my dear goddaughter's 30th birthday, and the perfect occasion for a Buttercup holiday. From the sweetest little girl to the loveliest woman, Jess, you are a joy and your birthday is a reason to declare a holiday. I can't make it a national holiday, but here in the Kingdom of Buttercup it's a holiday.

Wishing you a wonderful birthday and joy, happiness, hugs and good health for many happy years to come!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Buttercup Loves Books

...and just about anything about books. Of course that includes reading, but also libraries, book stores and talking about books. My after-school and summer job was in our neighborhood library, where I'd spent about half of my growing up years. I worked in the libraries in two colleges, was on the library committee in graduate school, worked in a bookstore in Nashville (and loved it!) and my first job in NYC was at a publishing house. I spent my days running a calculator and didn't love it at all.

I also love going to book readings and discussions and had the treat tonight to hear David Wroblewski discuss his novel, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle." I haven't read it, but am definitely intrigued. As someone who dreams of publishing a novel, it was a great comfort to hear that he worked on it for 15 years. I've got something (not quite a full-fledged novel yet) that I've been working on for a few years and do lose heart that it will ever be ready to leave my apartment.
But tonight gave me renewed heart to keep writing.

Sweet dreams, gentle readers!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Love the (Quiet) Night Life

I've returned to my more regular schedule after last week's whirl of theater going.

What's a regular night? I left work and got a ride to a subway station in Brooklyn to check out a health food store that I like very much and to look at the Hallmark store. Then I took the subway to my neighborhood, during which trip I read the 'Science' section of the NY Times and did today's crossword. I like doing crossword puzzles a lot, and look forward to my train ride home and the puzzle. I walked the four blocks to my building from the subway, stopping at the grocery on the way home and buying two bottles of flavored water, melon mango, which is my new favorite. Had curried chicken for dinner, which I'd cooked over the weekend and blueberries for dessert. Read the mail, read email, and downloaded pictures. Thrilling? No. Priceless? Yes! There are a lot of blessings in this one quiet night and I am grateful for all.

"The Marvelous Wonderettes" was adorable and I enjoyed it very much. The four women in the play had great voices and it was so much fun to hear '50s and '60s music. It's a cream puff of a show, light and sweet and very enjoyable.
Sweet dreams, gentle readers! Wishing you sunny days and quiet evenings.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Love the Night Life (6)

And the day time, too!

Today is a perfect June day in New York and even doing errands was fun. Perfect for walking, perfect for taking photos and perfect for sitting at the farmer's market (across the street from Lincoln Center) and reading.

"The Norman Conquests" last night was a delight, very funny and poignant. I saw one part of this trilogy and I am eagerly hoping the other two parts appear on the discount site. This is an Old Vic production which played in London, and now happily is playing here. The three plays tell the story of three couples on one country weekend from different perspectives.

I have theater tickets for tonight, too. This is my lucky week on the discount site and I am seeing "The Marvelous Wonderettes," which sounds fluffy, sweet and lots of fun. It's the story of a girls singing group at a 1958 prom, complete with lots of '50s music. It's rare that I go out so much, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. Tomorrow night is definitely a stay at home night.

A by-product of all my traipsing about the city is lots of reading on the bus and subway. I've just begun "firefly lane," by Kristin Hannah and am enjoying it very much. It's engaging and by the second chapter I was eager to follow the characters. I think it's a perfect summer read.

On a more serious note, a moment of remembrance on this 65th anniversary of DDay to those brave soldiers who gave so much for freedom.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Love the Night Life (4 and 5)

Needless to say, dear gentle readers, Buttercup is tired. Usually my weeks are less crowded, but this week was a fun and very busy one. Last night was book club, one of my favorite occupations. I've been a member for the last 13 years and enjoy our conversation immensely. We don't always stick to discussing the book -- actually sometimes the book hardly makes it into the conversation -- but it's a great group of women. This month's book was "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I was prepared not to like it, but I like it -- not quite finished yet -- a lot. Great characters and wonderful lyrical language.

Tonight was dinner at Pizzeria Uno for a dear colleague who is retiring tomorrow. Funny and hard working, John will be sorely missed. Tomorrow night I have the good fortune to have another theater ticket. I'll be seeing "The Norman Conquest," which is supposed to be very funny. Lest anyone think that Buttercup's last name is Rockefeller, this ticket is from the super-discount theater group I belong to. When shows have many unsold tickets they are offered to my group and several others for really nominal fees. There's usually only a few days notice and sometimes weeks will go by and I don't see anything that fits my schedule and taste, but sometimes I hit a gold mine. I've gotten to see some shows -- like this one -- that I really wanted to see and feel so thrifty. It's less than the cost of renting a DVD.

Will be back over the weekend with my theater review. Sweet dreams and wishes for a great Friday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Love the Night Life (3)

One of the things I most looked forward to when I moved to New York in 1975 was going to the theater. I made the magnificent sum of $150.00/week and it wasn't all that magnificent. But somehow I squeezed visits to theater into my budget, even if it meant eating a big pretzel for lunch on occasion.

One of the mainstays of my theater going for the last dozen years has been the Pearl Theater Company. I attend with a friend I used to work with -- a nice way to keep in touch -- and we see five plays a season. The Pearl puts on "classic" plays, usually one Shakespeare play, maybe Ibsen or Chekhov or a Greek tragedy. We've seen Moliere, Strindberg, Shaw, and one of my all time favorites, "The Venetian Twins" by Goldoni. I'd never heard of Goldoni or the play and it was one of the funniest afternoons of my life.

The Pearl meets in a small, far off-Broadway (St. Mark's Place -- 8th Street -- and First Avenue) in the East Village. Though somewhat off my usual haunts it's been fun to be in a different neighborhood. It's much more of a student neighborhood with lots of NYU housing in the area. They're moving to W. 55th Street and tonight was my last visit to E. 8th Street. We saw "Vieux Carre," a moderately obscure play by Tennessee Williams. I was prepared to leave at intermission if it was slow, but I enjoyed it very much and even stayed for the Director's Talk that followed. The director was Austin Pendleton, who has been in many television shows, as well as being a theater director.
Here are a few other pictures of the evening. The first is a new building for the Cooper Union, the engineering school. Candidate Lincoln spoke at the school in February 1860.

The second photo is E. 8th Street before the play and bottom photo is lively 8th St. after the play. I was walking to catch the bus. It's 10:30 and there are lots of people around. It was a beautiful warm evening and people were out walking, eating at sidewalk cafes and just enjoying the evening.

I do love living in New York, though I did have a moment of doubt tonight. I was taking the subway to the theater and for some unknown reason the train skipped my stop. I changed trains, went back a stop and walked/ran the three blocks to the theater. I wasn't beaming, but did have the presence to take a few photos to share.

Thanks, gentle readers, for all your great comments. I love sharing New York!

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Love the Night Life (2)

And so does this cute guy!

I had so much fun last week walking in the Times Square area I decided to go back after work tonight. My path was from Times Square, Broadway and 42nd St. to 50th Street and Seventh Avenue, where I would take the subway home. A great walk and lots going on.

This is 42nd Street looking west from Times Square. Mme Tussaud's Wax Museum, theaters and restaurants.

This is the "news zipper" and the new Walgreens. On top of this building is where the ball drops every New Year's Eve.

Walking north up Broadway is a new traffic, or rather no-traffic experiment. The traffic is detoured off a small section of Broadway and there are lawn chairs. Not sure if it improves the traffic flow, but it sure is fun.

I passed the theater where I saw "9 to 5,"

And arrived at one of my favorite places in NYC, the M and Ms Store, where one of my favorites dances the day and night away.

I love the Pillsbury Doughboy, but I think Blue is even cuter.

Dear Gentle Readers, I hope Blue and I can tempt you to visit New York City. If you can't make it this summer, there's always autumn in New York!