Monday, August 31, 2009

Dear Martha and Rachel...

I've been waiting very patiently to hear from you. I know you both get a lot of requests for tickets to your shows and you can't get back to everyone right away. I also know everybody doesn't get tickets...But still every time I go to my inbox -- even on weekends when it's not very likely that your staff is sending out tickets -- I get that little thrill of hope. Maybe this time...

But for the last three weeks "this time" never happens. I'm not taking it personally, but my feelings are starting to be a little bruised. It brings back every memory of childhood kickball games and gym classes, when almost invariably I was among the last chosen, and I'd stand looking at the kids who had been chosen and wishing I wasn't among the last. It got a little better in high school, but it doesn't take much to bring back those memories. I thought somehow being the last chosen was gone with elementary school. I never dreamt it would still be with me on the cusp of Social Security and Medicare.

Dear Martha and Rachel, I'm appealing to you. Please! I would be a great member of your audience, absolutely great. I'm cute, I'm perky and I will clap wildly on cue. I've got a big smile and will laugh and nod at all the right time. I won't embarrass you, I promise. Just give me a chance, you won't be sorry.

In One Day...

I went from this,

and this,

to this scene!
Following four lovely, quiet and relaxing days the trip home was a blur of (cancelled) flights, and several buses. I found myself on the last leg of the trip waiting for the bus home at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street and was struck by the contrast from where I was to where I'd been.
Many more pictures to share in the next week. Wishes to all for a great week and prayers for Amy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One Day to V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N...

I'll be here in just about 36 hours, but who's counting?

I can barely wait! I came back from lunch today and thought it was Wednesday and started pushing the buttons on the phone madly to dial into a conference call...24 hours early. I've started to get organized, including having my passport ready for our trip to Canada.

Thanks all, for your terrific support for my healthy eating. This is about the time I start to get frustrated that my progress isn't going faster and just go off to eat anything I want, generally with lots of sugar and salt. Today's "vices" included spinach, carrots, banana and grapes and no diet soda. No matter what the scale says tomorrow, I know I ate well today.

I'm going to get the new chip for my camera tomorrow and promise lots of wonderful pictures when I get back from the North Country.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Update

No, this isn't Saturday Night Live, which does a "Weekend Update" each week. But I'm thinking that Monday is a good day to update on my on-going projects.

Counting Calories...I'm down another half a pound. I'm pleased. This is a number I haven't seen in a little over a year and I still feel motivated. I'm eating more fruit and veggies and less processed foods, including diet soda and drinking more water.

The Television Project...Still no word from either Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray. Don't they like me? I'm starting to take this personally. I know I would be an enthusiastic guest.
There seems to be a problem with my photo chip and I can't download pictures. One of my errands before going on vacation is to buy a new chip. I can't go away without being able to take and share pictures!
Not to rush the seasons...I try not to do that (except for spring!), but as I turned an aisle at the Dollar Store there was lots of red and green, in place of the summer decorations. I still am dreaming one last summer dream and then I will begin to think of pumpkins and red and gold leaves and all the joys of the autumn. Wishing you a great week, dear and gentle readers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No-Errand Saturday

For the first time that I can remember in my adult life this was a Saturday with no planned errands. I did stop at the grocery, but didn't drop off dry cleaning, go to the post office, take a bag of clothes to the Salvation Army or do any of the usual or sporadic errands. I didn't write a check or pay a bill on-line.

I did go to services and then to lunch with friends in the neighborhood. Casual, spiritual, lovely and restful, as it should be. I did have plans afterwards to come home and start a short round of errands. Instead I joined a friend -- spontaneously -- for an iced coffee and watching folks walk on Broadway. It felt like being on vacation.

I do go to services regularly and I generally join friends for lunch, but I don't take the entire day as a sabbath. I have friends who do and they are unfailing in their endorsement of the concept. The new year begins in the Jewish calendar in three weeks. The month preceding the new year is a time of reflection. I hadn't focused on any specific goal -- we make spiritual resolutions in our congregation -- but I think I have mine and will be looking at how to make no-errand Saturdays a more frequent part of my life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More to Come...

in a week! In one week I will be in one of my favorite places, sitting in either an Adirondack chair or perhaps the swing and watching this beautiful river flow by. These pictures are from a visit two summers ago, but I will have new ones from my annual visit to the beautiful St. Lawrence River area to visit Kathy and Jess. This is the fantastic view from the house and I can't wait to be there. I've got one of these photos as my computer screen saver at work and I smile each time I see it.
I am so ready for this visit...for the company and the laughter we will share, the scenery and visiting with friends I've met over the 36 years I have been blessed with travel there.
The rest of the week has been relatively quiet. Work, reading the NY Times on the subway, grocery shopping last night and book club tonight. We met on the roof of one of my friend's buildings, which had a lovely view of Manhattan. Poached salmon, fresh summer fruit and good conversation made it a great night.
Wishing all of you evenings of good conversation, fresh summer fruit and warm breezes, and of course, a prayer for Amy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hurry, Autumn... is so hot here!
I shouldn't really be complaining, but it is hot. Not quite sidewalk melting hot or thunderstorm at four in the afternoon hot like Nashville, but it is still hot. It is too hot to stand in an unairconditioned subway car as I did this morning. The heat should let up in a few days and the apartment feels great, but at least a few times today I started to think about apples and sweaters and the coming of the beautiful autumn.
Updates! I have lost half a pound. Not monumental, but the scale is going in the correct direction.
I have emailed for tickets to Saturday Night Live, Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray and no word, though I got a very nice form response from Martha Stewart. Don't Martha and Rachel like me? I know I would be a good guest. Will keep you posted.
Thank you all for your nice comments about the Boston trip. I don't think I am especially brave, but I feel quite comfortable in most places for a few days by myself. After that I get lonely and desperately start to wish for friends to eat dinner with and chat about the sights.
Wishes to all for a sweet and healthy week, and of course prayers for Amy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And the Winner is...


About 10 days I saw an article about an art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was a show on Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, with paintings brought from collections all over the world. I thought it would be great to go, but sort of tucked it away in my mind. I revisited the idea last Sunday and saw that today was the last day for the show. I really wanted to see the show, but am trying to be frugal and not make impetuous purchases, including travel, which is my favorite impetuous purchase. With the help of Priceline and MegaBus, I was able to arrange my art excursion very economically and on Saturday morning I was off to Boston.

The weather cooperated and it was a beautiful weekend. I did some sightseeing, book browsing, garden sitting and spent all of today at the Museum. The exhibit was glorious. It was arranged thematically and it was a thrill to see "Supper at Emmaus" as done by all three artists. I am still thinking about Titian's version. Glorious! I am a great fan of Veronese and came to have a deeper appreciation of Titian and Tintoretto. Also spent time looking at the American paintings and furniture.

The person who came closest to guessing my destination was Neabear. They were all good guesses. I love just about anywhere in New England -- definitely due for a trip to Maine -- and overdue for Atlantic City. There is a small, but useful souvenir for Neabear. Please leave me your email and I will be delighted to send your winning prize. I liked it so much I got one for myself, too.

Unless I decide to do something wild next week, my next trip is to another favorite place and I can't wait. No guessing this time. I am off in ten more days for the St. Lawrence to see two of my favorite people. Hoo Hah!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mystery Weekend

Buttercup is off on a Mystery Weekend. Not a 100% mystery, because I do know where I am going. Any guesses?

A few hints...I'm not going to solve a mystery; I'm not going to the beach and I'm not visiting family in Connecticut.

The answer, complete with pictures will appear Sunday night. Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Buttercup's Television Project (1)

I have another project and tonight was my first accomplishment in fulfilling my goal. I am attempting to see as many television shows as I can that are filmed in New York City. In the last year I've been to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" twice. I hoped to become a contestant and studied infinite hours of trivia. Alas, I didn't make it on to the show, but I did enjoy the experience.

On one of many sleepless nights in the last few months I decided to try and get tickets to other shows filmed in NYC. I've sent my name in to several and tonight I saw my first show, "The Colbert Report." What fun! Stephen Colbert is both cuter and funnier in person than on the show and I think he's funny on television. The guest was Mark Devlin, a cosmologist looking at the cosmos (what else would he look at?) via a telescope sent up in a balloon. The only minus is a lot of standing, but a small price to pay for a fun glimpse into a different world than my daily life.

No cameras permitted during the taping, but I will get photos of the studio buildings in the future. Next on my list -- waiting to hear from Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Evening with the Mayor...

...and at least six hundred other people. Had the privilege of attending a reception tonight at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor's official residence on the East River. The evening celebrated the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and it was a lovely event. A cookout, great music, lots of familiar faces and the rain held off. I even got a seat at one of the picnic tables on the lawn and enjoyed chatting with friends and enjoying the summer evening.

The Mansion was built as a private home for the Gracie family in the late eighteenth century. It has been lovingly renovated and is now used for entertaining. The gardens looked especially pretty tonight and I wanted to share them with you.

Hugs and sweet dreams, my dear and gentle readers and of course, Amy is in my prayers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Relic of the Past Right Outside my Door

I love my neighborhood. In the mornings people are walking dogs, walking to the bus or subway and walking with their children. Lots of baby carriages and little ones. Now each morning the bus to day camp waits on the corner across from my building and parents are knocking on the windows and waving goodbye to their children. It's probably not the image most people have of New York, but in my corner of the city there are lots of children.
Still I was puzzled for a few minutes when I walked down my block tonight. It had just gotten dark and at first all I could see was bright colored markings on the sidewalk. As I got closer I realized I was seeing one of my favorite games of childhood, hopscotch, and lots of bright pictures done with colored chalk. I was surprised. I didn't think kids still played hopscotch or amused themselves on summer afternoons with a box of chalk. And I didn't think it happened in Manhattan. I am so glad to be so wrong.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Buttercup Counts her Calories or Goodbye 30

I've been thinking about this post for a few weeks and in an effort for accountability I am posting about an issue that is mighty in my life, weight! I'm not sure there's been a time in my life when I haven't been thinking about my weight. Not always doing anything constructive about it, but it looms in my thoughts. I have probably been on every diet imaginable -- Dr. Atkins, South Beach, Cider Vinegar and countless visits to Weight Watchers. But for the last few years especially, nothing has stuck and I am carrying around at least 30 more pounds than I would like, or is healthy.

I turn 60 next summer and a gift I would like to give myself is to be 30 pounds thinner. Right now I am thinking about posting once a week on my progress to my goal. Would anyone like to join me? If not in a weekly post, I appreciate encouragement or even, as Penniwig might say, a good flailing when needed.

Buttercup will now be counting blessings and calories!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Julie and Julia"

When I visited Washington in March I saw Julia Child's kitchen at the Museum of American History. I was so taken with it that I even blogged about it and posted one of the photos above. Tonight I went with my friend, Mary to see "Julie and Julia" which is both about how Julia Child came to write "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and how Julie Powell of Queens, NY (the neighborhood near my office) wrote a blog about cooking all the recipes in "Mastering the Art..." in a year.
I loved it! It's about food (and extraordinary food), Paris, blogging, New York and stars one of my favorite actresses, Meryl Streep, who is extraordinary as Julia Child. It's also about finding the thing in life you love to do and doing it with joy and passion. And dear readers, it was filmed at Silvercup Studio, which I wrote about earlier this week.
In the one degree of separation...Meryl Streep and I overlapped for one semester in college. I spent my junior year at one of the men's colleges that was thinking of going coeducational -- and did the next year -- and Meryl was there the year before I got there and my first semester. We didn't know each other, but there were only 70 there, so I pretty much knew who the women were and even then she was an outstanding actress and very beautiful. It came as no surprise when she was starring in movies a decade later.
And my only experience cooking from "Mastering the Art..." came one Thanksgiving. In a total break from tradition a friend suggested we cook goose stuffed with prunes and foie gras. It took hours and involved such actions as stuffing the prunes with foie gras, intricate and labor intensive. The result was delicious, but very rich. I have happily returned to turkey in the years since.
Wishing you all, dear gentle readers, joy in all that you do.

10 Favorite Places (3) Grand Central Station

Yesterday was a beautiful summer day. Not too hot, but lots of sun and not a rain cloud in sight. It was made all the nicer by a relatively quiet work day, lunch at Panera with two favorite colleagues and a birthday get together for the summer birthdays in my unit. The cake was trimmed in Yodels -- of all things! -- and we all liked it very much.

My little adventure of the day -- generally by Friday night I am tired and just want to go home -- was stopping at Grand Central Station on the way home. My optician is here and I left my eyeglasses to be fixed.
Grand Central is a major transportation hub, with almost all of the trains going north of New York City leaving from here. It was renovated about ten years ago and brought back to its original turn of the century spiffiness. There are also a number of stores (including my optician) and one of my favorite card stores. I noted a new store, "The Tea & Honey Store" and just had to take a picture to share.

Soon I'll be singing "Autumn in New York," and posting photos of red and yellow leaves in Central Park, but for now I'm happy it's summer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Lift up My Eyes Unto the Hills

I know the writer of Psalm 121 wasn't looking at Sedona when these words were penned, but for sheer beauty and inspiration, Sedona is as beautiful as any place on the face of this earth. It's a place that I feel in love with on my first visit three years ago.
Just about four years ago I was at a concert with my study group friends. Afterwards, while having coffee, we started taking about talking a trip together. I'd wanted to see Sedona for ages, but hadn't gotten there and proposed it. My friend Barbara was equally enthusiastic and when we both got home we immediately went to our computers. By the morning we had found a trip that looked good and sent it out to our group of friends. In February 2006 four friends joined us on a trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon and what a great time we had.
Pene, Barbara and I got so carried away -- and this really isn't like me -- we bought time shares in Sedona. Barbara returned four or five times and I've been back once with Barbara last May. The photo at top is a picture of Barbara taken on the patio at Wildflowers, a yummy restaurant we liked very much.
No trip planned now for Sedona, but since a piece of my heart is there, I know I will be back!

Dancing in the Street

I'm not quite dancing in the street, but I am walking much more steadily. Tonight was my next to the last physical therapy session, and I found the exercises easier to do. Hurray! The first few weeks there seemed to be no improvement, but tonight seemed much better. My treat for doing well was a lovely container of sweet, juicy cut up pinepapple. I did a little comparative shopping and found the health food store on my corner was considerably less pricy than the six dollar cost I had in my mind.

Took a subway trip yesterday to the bank closest to my office. While waiting for the train I took this picture of the Manhattan skyline, as seen from Queens. The Empire State Building is to the left of the water tower, and the "S" in the right of the photo is the first letter of Silvercup, a film studio where a number of television shows are filmed.

The Soup Nazi is a real soup store, though it was closed for quite awhile and I'm not sure if it's reopened. It's on either West 54th or 55th St., off Eighth Avenue. This is just a few blocks from one of my previous -- and much lamented -- office locations. I bought soup there once and it was very good, but the thought of standing in line for at least a half an hour to buy a cup of soup made it a once in a lifetime experience. But I did have to try it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hurray for Raisin Bran!

Not the most glamorous title. Actually not a glamorous title at all, but the high point of today was finding raisin bran on sale at my local grocery. And actually it was Raisin Bran Crunch. I genuinely like cereal for a snack and my favorite cereals are the fancy raisin brans. But a box of my favorite kind -- the one where the raisins are covered with nuts -- is over six dollars a box. I can spend money on all kinds of things, but somehow six dollars for a box of cereal just gets me. The other thing that I have real trouble with is buying cut up fruit. Every big and little grocery has fruit all ready cut up and I especially covet the fresh pineapple, but loathe paying five or six dollars for pineapple. I also rarely go to St*arbucks, because five dollars for coffee gets me and I do love coffee.
In the mornings either I buy my coffee at this stand and try to refrain from indulging in a danish, or I go to this deli. The deli has iced hazelnut decaf and that is my favorite.

I do love living in New York. I moved here in 1975 intending to stay for only a few years and a few years became a decade and then decades and I really set down roots. I've come to understand how expensive New York can be. Everything has to be trucked onto this island, through crowded streets. But sometimes at heart, I'm just a kid from Connecticut marvelling at life in the big city.

Reflecting on this I'm going to go out after work tomorrow and buy myself a cut up pineappple and savor every bite.

P.S. Thinking over today...the high point was an email from my friend, Marcia, who became a grandmother for a second time. Ethan Anthony was born yesterday, healthy and thriving, and cute as can be.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Saturday in the Park...

...and at the Museum

Today has been a quiet day. Plans got cancelled and it rained until a little while ago. I caught up on the New York Times and did chores in the apartment and grocery shopping. I have all the ingredients prepped for a batch of gazpacho and will put them in the blender right after I do this post. I've got checks and thank you notes to write and look forward to a calm evening.
Yesterday was a real summer day and we had no rain! I had a little time in Central Park, sitting on a bench and reading and then a lovely evening at one of my all-time favorite places anywhere, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I met a friend for dinner and then we saw a wonderful show of treasures from Afghanistan. Most of the pieces dated back at least 2000 years, when Afghanistan was a major part of the Silk Road and trading with China, India and Egypt. These treasures had been hidden for several years and "rediscovered" only a few years ago. There were glass pieces, fabulous jewelry and sculpture.
Spent a little time wandering through the halls of the museum and what beauty at every step. A Rodin sculpture at one turn and a medieval Madonna at another. Definitely on my schedule for a return visit soon.
Wishing all of my dear and gentle readers moments of beauty this week and always!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It's July 32nd...

Happy Birthday to Kristin! Buttercup Land. It's great to have my own country. One of my powers in Buttercup Land is to change the calendar at will. In the rest of my time zone it's 11:02 PM on August 1, but here it's 11:02 PM on July 32nd. I am stopping time to declare the July Buttercup holiday. Somehow with all that was going on in July I lost track of my holidays. What might be a problem in real life is possible here, in my nice parallel universe.

The Buttercup holiday for July is to celebrate Kristen's birthday. Kristen of the blog, The Journey of Making Dreams a Reality, had asked that her July birthday be declared a national holiday. I can't do it for America, but I can declare July 32nd Kristen's Birthday a Buttercup Holiday. It's a little late, but nonetheless heartfelt. Dear Kristin, have a great and happy and healthy year!
Stop by and visit Kristin's blog. It's lovely reading!