Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Off-Off Broadway Thrill

At this moment I may be the happiest woman in New York City. Maybe not the whole city, but certainly the happiest middle-aged civil servant in New York, or any city anywhere.

I know it's not very Buttercupian -- new word! -- but I was a big fan of the X-Files. I don't generally follow many of the shows on space aliens etc., but that one held my interest and many Sunday nights in the '90s were spent with Mulder and Scully. I am sure I missed a lot of the nuances, but I never got tired of seeing the two of them and particularly David Duchovny, who played Mulder, on the screen.

    Across the street from the theater -- far off Broadway in Greenwich Village

I was delighted to see that David Duchovny was appearing in a new play, "The Break of Noon," and still more delighted that it was part of my theater membership group. It appeared available just once, but luckily I spotted it and got my ticket for this afternoon. 

I thought the acting was terrific, though the play less so. It co-starred Amanda Peet, who I liked very much in "Something's Gotta Give." It was a nice afternoon of theater.

The thrill came after the play when I realized I might be able to take a photo for all of you  and maybe if I was really lucky get my Playbill autographed. I never dreamed that...



Yes, It's Buttercup and David Duchovny. I am as amazed as I look! If I'd realized that this would be a moment for the centuries I would have worn a lot more makeup.

I only got the photo because David D. couldn't have been nicer, friendlier, nor more patient. There were twenty people or so waiting and he signed Playbills, took photos and chatted. Part of it was that we weren't on Broadway and there was a small group waiting, not the hundred that might be at the stage door after a big show is over. In those cases there is security, a waiting car and very little access. The bigger part is that he just seemed to be a very nice person.  Thank you, David Duchovny!

I hope your week is one of small pleasures, happy days and maybe an unexpected thrill! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of Year



This song kept playing in my head as I was walking home on Broadway tonight. The Christmas trees are lined up for sale on the next block and windows are decorated. I'd done some very successful shopping this afternoon and was feeling very happy that the majority of my shopping for Chanukah and Christmas is finished. This significantly diminishes the likelihood of a meltdown, such as the one that occurred in Costco last year on December 22. Not a pretty memory. I will need to buy some candy for the office, but have located some great treats in Trader Joe. Can't pick them up too soon -- unless I want five extra pounds -- but they are easy to get.

Chanukah starts next Wednesday. I only give gifts to the youngest cousins and a great sale on the Vera Bradley website helped there. I will mail the package tomorrow and do cards tonight and I will be in great shape to just enjoy the holiday and the celebration of a centuries-old miracle.

I love this season from Thanksgiving to Chanukah and Christmas. I love the food, the music and the celebration. There are times I am overwhelmed by the total emotion, of loved ones far away and memories of times past, but I am making every effort to live in this year and this time and enjoy the now.

I also reflected on my walk home if this was the most wonderful time of year. I love the crunch of leaves in autumn, the days of first spring flowers and perfect sunny skies of June. But this is our time to celebrate now and I will hold these days -- now -- as the most wonderful time I am living.

Tonight is cards, wrapping and cooking more cranberries. I simmer them in orange with cut up figs and they are delicious. Tomorrow I have a theater ticket and am so excited. I will be seeing a favorite actor in a small off-Broadway setting. A clue...he appeared in a very popular Sunday night show several years ago that was very weird, but so interesting. Any guesses?

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Visit...



...from my favorite blogger. I had a great visit last Sunday with my goddaughter, Jess and her college friend. They had spent the day before at the Metropolitan Museum and at a cooking class. It sounded terrific and Jess graciously offered to visit here and tell about her day. Definitely something I'd like to try sometime. 

Let Jess describe it....

One of the amazing things I got to do in New York City on my recent visit is the kind of thing that makes the City worth the visit every time, because these kinds of adventures simply can't happen everywhere.  My terrific friend Alexa found out about this "workshop" and signed us up.  Three girlfriends and I got to "cook art history".  This is the tagline of ArtBites (www.artbites.net).  Maite, an art historian who decided to go to culinary school, took us around two sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - the French Enlightenment and early American sections.  The connection was Thomas Jefferson.  When he was the minister to France for the last 5 years before the French Revolution, under the court of Louis XVI, he got to experience the luxurious customs of the French court, and see the enormous disparity in wealth.  Specifically, he got a chance to see how food played a role in everyone's life (most of the riots leading to the revolution were about food, and led to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" statement).  We got to see the luxury of the few remaining royal silver serving dishes (most were melted down during the revolution) and Maite talked about how these things influenced Jefferson when he returned to Virginia and then the White House.  As a man of contradictions (he was opposed to slavery yet never freed his own slaves) he was able to integrate some of the luxurious uses of fresh ingredients and herbs he saw at Versailles with his farm in Virginia.  We moved on to see a Baltimore dining room circa 1800, and could see the connections between the French luxury and the new American simplicity. The simple use of gold leaf edgings invoked the french luxury but were done without excess.   
After soaking up all this culture, we were taken to a professional kitchen and given several of Jefferson's actual recipes - written in letters to friends back in the States.  We were turned loose in groups and assigned a portion of a Jeffersonian meal.  Herb salad with Mustard Vinaigrette (he LOVED Maille mustard, still available today), Spring peas with mint (this simple dish was wonderful), roasted potatoes, roasted green beans with olives and tomatoes, dill crusted salmon, and Chicken Fricassee.  My group made the chicken and we had a lot of fun cooking for the rest of our group.  The dessert was a perfect combination of Old World and New - Apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  The apples were from New York, but the first American recipe for vanilla ice cream was written in Jefferson's own hand.  
Overall, a wonderfully stimulating day - smart, yummy, and once in a lifetime.  
I think Maite travels around the country - using other museums and other kitchens, so check out her website. 

If you have a chance please visit Jess' blog Insight into Entertainment, which is a great movie and television blog.

I'm having a slow start in getting my infinite list of errands done. Thanksgiving was great -- yummy food and terrific company. But it's been tough getting going. I'm going out to do the first on my "to-do" list, a mile walk. Really need to get some of the pumpkin pie and raspberry nut bars moving! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, too, and are having a fabulous Friday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Grateful for...

Thanksgiving

The beauty of the earth...


The bounty of the earth

My friends on this earth...

I am so grateful. Despite the year at work, which has been and continues to be one of the most difficult professional times in my life, this has been a good and rich year. Dear blog friends, thank you for being on this journey with me, and bless you for all that you have brought to my life this year. Wishes to you and your families for a bright and blessed Thanksgiving. 

Tomorrow we will have a guest post from my favorite blogger and one of my all-time favorite people, my goddaughter. Please join us!   

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Am Grateful for...

My Country
"...Land that I love. 
Stand beside her and guide her 
Through the night with the light from above."

"G'd Bless America, My home, sweet home." 

Profoundly grateful doesn't begin to describe my feelings for America. Freedom to worship, freedom to assemble and freedom to vote are all gifts I treasure.  I've been a state and city employee for the majority of my working life. I know there are flaws in our government, but I also know there are abiding strengths. 

As I treasure the freedoms I hold so dear I extend gratitude to those who risk so much for my country, members of our military. Keep safe, keep well and know that you are all in my prayers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Am Grateful for...

...the Memories of Those We Love

As we grow closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas I remember holidays past and times spent with loved ones who are no longer here with us. I don't want memories of celebrations past to overshadow times present, but there are times that is difficult. I try to focus on the now and enjoy this year as I live it. But still, I am so glad for all I've had and the many people who have meant so much to me through the years.

I am especially thinking of my dear friend Hella, who passed away last week in Sao Paulo Brazil. She was without question one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I've ever known and I am so grateful for the many times we spent together in the last twenty years. I met Hella soon after I joined my synagogue. Our lives couldn't have been more different. I've spent my whole life living in the United States, but Hella had lived all over the world. Born in France and escaping Europe with her family to find refuge in Brazil in 1940, she never let circumstances dictate her attitude. Unfailingly upbeat, she enjoyed life immeasurably. Even in her 80s, with vision problems, she worked full-time. volunteered at the homeless shelter our congregation runs with our sister Methodist Church, took classes, went to concerts, museums and did good deeds daily.

Hella is on the right and our dear friend Tamar is on the left. We had a wonderful lunch last fall celebrating Tamar's 90th birthday and wishing Hella well before her move to Brazil to be closer to family. 

Though I am sad about Hella's passing I am so grateful for knowing her. There will be an empty place in my heart, but I hope to fill it with happy memories and good deeds in her memory.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Am Grateful for...

...Faith and Hope

and the Eternal Source for both. I am grateful for Psalms and scripture and the turning of the year marked by holidays and ritual. I am grateful for my extraordinary faith community and the rabbis who guide us. I am grateful for sacred music, candle light and prayer. And always, I am grateful for answered prayer and the One who responds to the cries of my heart. 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Am Grateful for...

Friends

Whether it was Montana...

Maryland and our wonderful blogger get-together in April...




Sight-seeing in Memphis...


Or good times shared in New York City...
Amanda and Chuck's wedding in April

I am so grateful for my friends. Whether you're down the block, across the aisle in the office, over the Atlantic or Pacific or only on the computer screen -- for now! -- you've made this a richer, more fun and livelier year than I could have imagined last year at this time. Thanks for the good times, great times and every day times. I appreciate the laughter, conversation, companionship and the listening ear. To new friends and friends of long-standing...thanks for being a wonderful part of my life. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Am Grateful for...

Family


 First cousin and two of her daughters decorating

 Two of three adorable triplets


 A rare photo of Buttercup with my dear cousin. I was delighted that all of the teenagers joined me to celebrate together.

Pinata fun time

As we get close to Thanksgiving I'm taking some time to count my blessings. For the next week I am planning to post each day and give thanks for a part of my life. I want to begin with my family. My cousins and their children are my closest family and I am so grateful for their affection and for our ability to have fun together. My only regret is that we don't live closer, but I am thankful for phones and email and facebook. The latter gives me a window into the lives of six terrific teenagers who are friends in facebook and in life. Thanks for all the joy you have all brought into my life!

These photos are from the family celebration this summer in Providence. We celebrated my 60th birthday and my sweet cousin Angela's eighth birthday. There were cakes, decorations, party bags and a pinata, as well as laughter, lots of conversation and warm and lovely feelings. I feel very grateful all over again just writing about the weekend and remembering our very happy celebration. I am so thankful for my family!

No Blues on Beale Street...

...at least for me! Memphis was a great place to visit and here are a few of the highlights. There were a number of other places that we visited that may appear later in other posts. So much to enjoy in Memphis.


The best fried chicken. I loved every yummy bite. Worth the calories! 


Beale Street at night...

BB King's Club at night... 


and by day...

Another look at Beale Street. We had a barbecue lunch here on Saturday.  Ate lots of barbecue and biscuits during our visit. I've been eating a lot of salad since my return from Memphis. 


One of my favorite sights


It's been the usual wild week at work and I am so looking forward to the weekend. Saturday morning services, the usual array of errands and I will be spending most of Sunday with my goddaughter and a friend of hers. We've got brunch and our favorite pre-Christmas book sale on our calendars. The sale benefits a community house in the neighborhood which sponsors great programs for kids and seniors. It's one of the events that we both look forward to all year and I'm so pleased that we'll be sharing it again this year. Definitely want to do blog visiting, too. The week just flew by -- late nights at work -- and little time for blogging or visiting. Missed you all!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Make Way for Ducks

One of the major spots to visit in Memphis is the beautiful Peabody Hotel. Built in the 1920s it is a downtown landmark and also the home of five beautiful ducks who come down from their duck house each morning at 11:00 am and return at 5:00 pm. I had the pleasure of seeing the ducks at the Peabody in Little Rock several years ago and my group wanted to make sure we were at the Peabody for the ducks' entrance during our visit.

 


 Rolling out the red carpet for the ducks!

The ducks enjoying their beautiful Italian marble fountain. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hot Cocoa Time



Both the weather and my day call for hot cocoa. I just need a few mini-marshmallows! The day was a whirl of meetings. I scheduled what I thought was a quick appointment to remove two small growths, which are pre-anything serious. Our office is closed tomorrow and I thought I'd have a nice long evening to catch up on blogging and generally relax.

The best laid plans... My appointment was at 5:30 and I got home less than an hour ago, having spent over three hours with the doctor and now I'm armed with many directions to follow. I'd never met the surgeon before and most of the reason it took so long was her careful and kind precision. She was great, and I am very thankful to have been guided to such a caring doctor. As she stitched I had lots of time to pray and I offered that time for all the prayers that you all have asked for in the past, as well as any intentions I might not be aware of. You were all in my prayers tonight.

I'm going to make a cup of hot cocoa and cuddle up the Land's End catalogue and look for some warm fleece for the months ahead. More Memphis pictures tomorrow.

Sweet, sweet dreams!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Graceland

One of the great disappointments of my life was not seeing Elvis Presley in concert at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro in the spring of 1975. None of my friends wanted to go and in those days I wouldn't go to a concert by myself. Visiting Graceland has long been on my list of things I wanted to do and last week I had the opportunity. It was, for this Elvis fan, well worth the wait.

 Elvis' 75th Birthday Banner

 There is an all-Elvis Sirius channel and we got to meet the D.J., George Klein.

 The actual house, "Graceland." 
The first floor and basement are open to the public and perfectly preserved.

 Elvis' Living Room

Elvis On-Stage

One of Elvis' fabulous cars

We spent a long afternoon at Graceland and I loved it. It brought back so many memories of my teen years and they were all sweet. My best friend in junior high loved Elvis and we saw every Elvis movie released and some -- I'm thinking of "Blue Hawaii" -- several times. 

My only disappointment, and it's a tiny, tiny one, was that I didn't get to hear my favorite Elvis song, "Can't Help Falling in Love," while I was at Graceland. But I'm listening to it now and I am happy! 

Elvis fans -- and I know there are definitely some out in Blogland -- what's your favorite Elvis song?  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Rules of the Camera...

Rule One: Never Leave Home Without My Camera. Never!

I stopped at Border's tonight to buy a book for the plane to Memphis and noticed a large number of people in line holding books. This almost always means there is a celebrity book signing going on. I not so discretely looked at the books that folks were holding and saw they were by Jeff Dunham. While not very familiar with him I know he is famous, and of course, I didn't have my camera with me. I'd left it home this morning thinking that there wasn't much I expected to photograph today. Of course, I carry my camera just in case there is something unexpected I want to photograph and have carried it every day since I bought it last December. Lesson learned and I apologize for the lack of Jeff Dunham photos.

Rule Two: Take Many More Photos Than You Could Possibly Need. Many More!

Sheilagh, Ralph and Lincoln Center

I have a lovely picture of Sheilagh and Ralph, who I had the complete pleasure to have dinner with last night. What fun! As it seems to be the way when I meet blog friends, they are friends, and we had a wonderful, fun and much too quick evening. After dinner we walked over to Lincoln Center for sight seeing and photos and though I think Sheilagh and I are two of the cutest 60 year olds anywhere I didn't like any of the pictures of me at all. She is lovely in any picture. I am ever optimistic that in many more photos there would have been one that I liked of myself to share. It was a great evening, though, my pictures aside, and I now have even more reasons to plan a trip to England. Please stop by Sheilagh's blog and say hello. She is lovely and it's as sweet and comfortable as an afternoon cup of tea with a friend. 

Time to pack and get ready for my Memphis trip. There will be seven of us and I am so excited. Definitely a trip to Graceland is on the agenda. Any other Elvis fans in Blogland? There will be pictures and this time I will take lots of them!

Wishes for a great Thursday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's November 2nd...

...And not too late to send some pumpkin love!

Pumpkins and love are never out of season!

Thanks, friends, for your prayers. My friend is scheduled to leave the hospital this morning and all the tests came back very favorably. The sun is shining. I am about to leave to vote, which I consider a great privilege and I am so looking forward to meeting my blog friend, Sheilagh and her husband, Ralph this evening for dinner.  You know there will be pictures!

Have a bright and blessed day!