Monday, May 27, 2013

Matinee Monday

The Plaza in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center

When I first moved to New York I tried to do everything cultural that the city offered. I had a subscription to the ballet, went to dance programs and chamber music events. I bought opera tickets and went to museums and poetry readings. Over the years I have simplified my cultural life. I still like the ballet and poetry, but I focus much more now on museums and theater. It's not the cost that deters me from trying to see "everything," though that is part of it, but my own interest. I started off with a love of theater and that love has grown deeper every season.

I am a member of the Lincoln Center Theater, which permits me to buy tickets to Lincoln Center productions at a discount, a subscriber to the Pearl Theater Company, which presents classic plays, and Theatermania Gold.  This last group gives me access to last minute theater tickets at a greatly reduced price. This has been a great season and last week I had the privilege of seeing "Ann" at Lincoln Center.

I am often wary of one-person plays. How can one person hold my interest for the duration of a play? Holland Taylor more than held my interest. She made Ann Richards live on the Lincoln Center stage. It was lively, funny, interesting and poignant. My friend, Mary, who I shared an office with at City Hall, thought I would really enjoy the talk of politics and she was very correct. You may know Holland Taylor from "Two and a Half Men," but to me, she is Ann. It was a very enjoyable theater afternoon and I am tempted to check Theatermania Gold to see if there is a ticket available. I'd love to see it again!

We had lovely spring weather today. I spent the morning unpacking two of the bags I brought home from the office and washing my snow globe collection, which was looking a little dingy. I had lunch with a friend, treated myself to a manicure and bought furniture polish and a mini-seedless watermelon, not at the same place. I am making every effort to snack more healthily and the watermelon was a perfect snack. The streets of New York are snack temptation on every block and I don't want to get in a habit of sweet coffee drinks and cookies all day, both for the calories and the cost.

To those who sacrificed so much so that we could have calm and happy May days, my abiding gratitude.

Wishes for a Sunny Week!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lest We Forget

I had the privilege of being raised in a patriotic home. I don't know if it was just the era in which I grew up or the parents I was blessed to have. My father served in Europe in World War II and he spoke often of what he had experienced and the men he served with. A number of my family members were killed during the war and I grew up with a sense of gratitude for being an American. We visited many historic sites when I was growing up, including Arlington National Cemetery. It moved me in 1962 and again, when I visited with blog friends in 2010.

The photo above shows the Tomb of the Unknowns, representing soldiers that are "known only to G'd." The guard is changed throughout the day and the scene is one of the most moving I have ever witnessed.

On this weekend of remembering I offer my gratitude to my parents, and especially to those who served in centuries past and who serve today to insure our freedom.

It's sunny in New York today, but still chilly. I spent most of the day in the office and got done everything I hoped to do. It's not amazing, but three quiet hours are more productive than a regular day. Even with the interruptions that I know will occur in the next week I am optimistic I can do everything I need to get done. Tomorrow is a day to relax, and to post my review of "Ann." I had a little problem loading the photos this evening, but will try again tomorrow.

Wishes for a sunny Monday!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flamingo Party Hat Pink Saturday

Happy, happy birthday dear Beverly and Pink Saturday. It's the fifth birthday of Pink Saturday and when I saw these folks on Broadway last week I knew I'd found just the right party hat.

I'd never seen flamingo hats before and I'm not sure if I'm missing a major trend. I did some research and came up with nothing. But I do know the hats are just the festive wear for a Pink Saturday celebration. I've really enjoyed being part of Pink Saturday and here's a tip of the flamingo to Beverly and the Pink Saturday participants.

It's been a nice day -- grocery shopping, a quick stop at the bank and "Ann" at Lincoln Center. I really enjoyed the play and will be doing a post about it tomorrow. The only downside has been the weather. It's been rainy and actually cold. It was fifty degrees and I needed the gloves that have been put away in my top dresser drawer. It didn't feel like Memorial Day weekend.

Happy Pink Saturday Wishes! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

At This Time Next Week...

...Seven Days and not quite 168 hours I will officially be a retiree. I got off the bus tonight and as I was crossing the street I thought, "At this time next Friday I will be retired." I can't say I've just been going through the motions. I've been to meetings, worked on a major project -- which will be nowhere near where it should be, but I've done my part pushing it along -- and have just about cleaned out my office and files. I've left time on Sunday and Monday to go into the office and get things done. I've got to wrap up my snow globe collection...

...clean out two more drawers and write a number of email notes. I know I can probably get it all done later in the week, but I'm feeling a need to be organized and not think about filing, shredding and sorting things I need to take home. I think I can get everything I want to do completed on Sunday and then I can really relax and enjoy spending time with my friends at work next week.

One of my colleagues reached out to a friend about a long-term volunteer idea for me and I've been quite tickled at the thought. It's very preliminary, but I love the idea. He remembered some of the conversations we've had over the years -- we've worked together since I started my job nineteen years ago -- and it's his goodbye gift to me. I will reach out to his friend over the weekend and hope to set up a meeting for the beginning of June. It's too soon to be more detailed, but it's a wonderful place, and incorporates a number of my interests. I will keep you posted. I have an orientation for another volunteer opportunity on June 10 and will report back after after that program. I've taken Susie's good advice to not waste a minute of retirement and I am moving ahead with plans.

Today was rainy and dreary and tomorrow doesn't look too much better. Happily I have a theater ticket and will stay warm and dry inside Lincoln Center. I also have a fun Pink Saturday post, so please come and visit.

Wishes for a Wonderful Weekend!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What's My Line?

One of my memories from childhood was watching "What's My Line?" The original show was broadcast from 1950 to 1967 on CBS and there was a later syndicated version. The basic premise of the show was to guess the profession of the show's guest. The celebrity panel was witty and even as teenager I enjoyed watching it. One of the pieces of trivia I discovered was that the phrase "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" was first used on this show by Steve Allen.

This came to my thoughts when I got an update from LinkedIn. I will be retired in nine (!) working days and the title -- my line -- that I've had for thirteen years will no longer be my title. I spent some time on LinkedIn this morning perusing titles and work descriptions. I haven't formed any business yet, so that didn't seem a way I could go. I am most comfortable with "blogger" and that's probably how I will describe myself. I've said blogging was my second job for the last several years and now it will be my first job, and quite happily so. I'm almost ready to say, "Hi, I'm Buttercup and I'm a blogger/author/social media consultant, and it's great to meet you." Did anyone else think about this issue as you retired or moved to a free-lance status?

We have a winner for the wristlet/gift certificate giveaway.  It's Laura'sloves. Laura, I'll be emailing you and your wristlet will be on it's way for your military ID and ATM card. I wish I had one to send to everyone who entered the giveaway.

I'm enjoying my quiet Sunday morning. My coffee is just about ready and the New York Times is waiting for me. I'm a happy blogging Buttercup, and I hope you're having a relaxed and happy Sunday morning, too.

Wishes for a great week!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fun Time Pink Saturday

We've had glorious spring weather this week. I've tried to add as much walking as I can and in order to enjoy the no-humidity days and it's been blissful. My routine has been to leave the subway earlier than my stop walk. Last night I emerged at Columbus Circle and this perfect Pink Saturday vision was waiting for me.

Soft ice cream is a great favorite of mine. I didn't indulge last night, but I will have to return to Columbus Circle to be part of Fun Time.

I like the yummy photos on the side of the truck. It's tough to choose just one, but I'm leaning towards the cherry bonnet. 

I'm loving my productive Saturday.  I've walked, grocery shopped, done a little decluttering and now I'm happy to be blogging. I've got a few errands for this afternoon and I'm planning to see "The Great Gatsby" with Mary. I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow and then I'm looking forward to meeting a blog buddy and her husband who are visiting New York. You know there will be pictures. 

Wishes for a sweet pink Saturday!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How We Can Help

It seems at least once a week I hear of someone close to me or close to a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. We wait for biopsies, results from scans and surgery. Besides the sadness and tears and I find a huge sense of frustration. How can I help? How can I help not just my friend who has been diagnosed, but how can I help do something bigger? At one time I regularly donated platelets at Sloan Kettering, but that isn't possible now and I wanted to do something that would help. I'm not a scientist, but I got an email that showed me a way I could join with three hundred thousand other people to help prevent cancer.

Two weeks ago I went to Roosevelt Hospital, just a mile from my home, and became a participant in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3.  This is a twenty-year study that will include 300,000 people between the ages of 30 and 65, who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Having squamous or basal cell skin cancer does not preclude people from joining the study. The initial visit involved an hour of my time and a donation of blood and I spent another half hour at home filling out a questionnaire about my health. We will receive follow up surveys as the survey progresses, which should take about forty-five minutes to complete. That's it. That's all I have to do to help prevent cancer.

We won't see the results quickly, but I think of it as a gift to the younger people I love. One blood draw and ten or twenty surveys is a very small price to help make our world a healthier place for them. If you go to the link above you will find details about how you can join this study.

This post is for those I love and their loved ones who are in my prayers for healing, and for our dear Tim.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Glossy or Matte?

I love my digital camera and I love my cell phone camera. If anyone had told me eight years ago when I first got my digital camera that I would carry it everywhere and take pictures almost every day I would have laughed. I'd had my own camera since college, but I was pretty much a vacation and "times of your life" photographer. When I first heard about cameras in phones I was perplexed. Why did anyone need a phone with a camera? Obviously I'm not the technological visionary. Someone saw the future and I came along for the ride, happily so.

But one drawback to going digital is not having photographs. I haven't made an actual copy of a photograph in three years. I have two pictures I am carrying around to make copies and I keep walking past every drugstore. In my pre-digital days I loved developing film. I got so excited to pick up my pictures -- or check my mail for the package of photographs -- and I always chose a second copy of the prints as my bonus. It was expensive and often half of a roll of film was laughable, at best, but I always found one picture to treasure and display.

Two things spurred these thoughts. This afternoon I went to Tim's wake and there was a wonderful slide show of Tim and his family. I'd never seen a slide show at a wake, but it was terrific to see pictures of Tim beginning with elementary school and going through last year. There was Marine Tim in Vietnam, Tim and Dot's wedding photo, Tim holding his first born and retired Tim and Dot relaxing in Florida. Dot told us that she loved photographs and many of the photos were ones she had on display in their home.

As I clean out my office I've also been going through photos. I've got a lot of recent pictures of my work friends on my computer, but the actual photos end around six years ago. We took a lot of pictures over the years and I've so enjoyed looking at our younger selves, and not on the computer.

It's time for me to start developing pictures. It may even be time to start making albums again, actual physical albums, and looking at the people I care about most in actual physical pictures. Glossy or matte?

And just for fun, to get the memory processes going I'm going into my first picture folder on my computer and picking one picture to share.  

  Santiago de Compostela, Spain, June 2006 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goddaughter of My Heart

I meant to do a post this evening about Mother's Day. But I got sidetracked with a call to my goddaughter, Jess, and then I spent time watching cute cat videos on YouTube -- Jess' recommendation -- which could turn into a second career for me once I am no longer working full-time. 

As I wrote in my Mother's Day post three years ago:

Jessica is not actually my goddaughter. Her Aunt Maureen is her given godmother, but Jess is the goddaughter of my heart. Jessica went to college an hour from New York and I visited frequently. We tried to find the right description of our relationship and friend and friend's daughter just didn't describe it, and so I became a godmother. What a joy! No one could have a sweeter and lovelier goddaughter or daughter. Jess is beautiful, accomplished, intelligent and funny, but more important she is one of the kindest and most caring people I will ever meet.

It's just as I wrote then. Jess is kind, thoughtful, beautiful and tremendous fun to spend time with, whether we're discussing movies, books, English history or cat videos. I am so looking forward to the week I'll spend in August visiting on the St. Lawrence.  

One of the best gifts that Jess has given me is blogging. If it wasn't for her it's much less likely that I would be blogging and Buttercupland might not exist. Jess' blog inspired me and I thought I'd give it a try. That was over four years ago and I am grateful to her every time I blog. It's hard to imagine my life without blogging and harder still, to imagine my life without Jess. I'd be one lonely Buttercup!

My good wishes to all for a happily spent Mother's Day and thanks to my sweet Jess and all of my blog buddies for your affection today and every day of the year.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pink Saturday Mother's Day Giveaway

I was strolling Pink Fifth Avenue last week and visited Build-A-Bear Workshop, one of my all-time favorite shopping experiences. My monkee buddy, Pepe, wears Build-A-Bear. They're just the right size and they accommodate his unique anatomy, i.e., his tail. I got Pepe two outfits -- couldn't resist -- and I will share photos in a later post. I also got a cute PINK wristlet. It's a very cute, pink change purse/mini-purse, and it's a giveaway this week.

Please be a citizen of Buttercupland (a follower) and leave a comment about what you would like to put in your new pink wristlet. I'd put lip gloss and my keys. Nothing too tough and lots of fun, and yes, I'll mail this little cutie anywhere. There's an extra entry for a mention on your blog. Just let me know that you're adding a note about this giveaway. I will pick the winner next Saturday night and post it on Sunday, May 19. The giveaway closes on Saturday, May 18 at 11:59 p.m.

If there are fifty folks who stop by and comment, I just may add a separate giveaway of a ten dollar certificate for Body Shop, which is good at most stores -- there are a couple of exclusions mentioned -- or on-line. I'm not sure if the latter will work outside of the United States and Canada, but the wristlet can go anywhere I can mail it to.

We've had thunder and lightning in New York City today, but I still got to host a very lively Bible study. We're studying Ecclesiastes at our usual snail's pace. We had three translations and four commentaries and as always, there was something to reflect on in the weeks to come.

Please stop by and visit Beverly's Pink Saturday. There are some wonderful posts themed around Mother's Day. It's one of my favorite places to spend time during the weekend. I'll be back tomorrow with my own Mother's Day post.

Wishes for a sweet, sweet Sunday! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Nothing Beats (Anita's) Beet Salad

I first met Anita in 1965. The Beatles were the rage, Lyndon Johnson was President and we were young and quickly assumed we would always be friends. The Beatles are now icons of a distant age, there have been a number of presidents since Mr. Johnson, we're not so young anymore, but we're still friends. I've had dinner at Anita's many times and often beets are on the menu. I've always skipped them, because I decided in some distant age that I don't like beets. But last Saturday night the bowl of beet salad looked good and I thought, "Why not just try it?" I didn't just like Anita's beet salad, but I had seconds. It was yummy and it turns out, beets are really good for you. Beets are so good for you (and me) that I wanted to share this delicious recipe. Anita was very gracious and happily provided it.

Norwegian Beet Salad (ready in 30 minutes and can be prepared the same day)

1 raw beet
1 carrot
1 apple
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts -- may be toasted
1/2 cup shredded dried coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
2T lemon juice
1T minced ginger
1T Asian toasted sesame oil (or olive oil if you can't find sesame oil)
Chopped fresh parsley

Peel and shred beet, carrot and apple. Combine in bowl. Make dressing of lemon juice, ginger and sesame oil and add to the beet mixture. When ready to serve toss in nuts and coconut. Add salt to taste. (I don't think it needs any.)

To make this salad for eight to ten people I used 2 beets, 2 large carrots (my carrots were skinny so I used 6) and two hard apples. I didn't change the proportion of other ingredients and I might even suggest halving the dressing ingredients when you are making the salad for four. 

I peel the beets, carrots and apples and shred them in my food processor using the large-holed shredding disc. Try to find the toasted sesame definitely makes the dish and should be widely available. I use Eden Select toasted sesame need to refrigerate...and great in marinades. I use flaked, not shredded coconut, but either is fine. 

   Anita is on the left, her sister, Nancy and my dear, dear friend is in the center and Anita's daughter, Kara, is on the right. The picture is several years old, but one of the many happy photos of celebrations shared through the years. It was a beautiful May day in Indiana. We've spent a number of spring weekends at graduations and this is the first year in quite awhile without a graduation. 

If anyone else would like to share a recipe, please let me know. I know there are great cooks in Buttercupland. 

I want to thank you all for your prayers for Dot and Tim. So sadly Tim passed away this afternoon.  Our world is a sadder place this evening, but there is one more brightly shining star in the heavens. 

Sweet dreams and wishes for a sweet Saturday!  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's a Sweet Trip to the Candy Shop

During the A to Z Challenge I mentioned that I had the perfect "H" but was unable to download the pictures. I was very happy with the picture of my cousin Hillary that I shared, but I knew I would go back and post these delicious pictures when I could. Right on Broadway you can find the Hershey's Chocolate World and what a sweet treasure trove it is.

I didn't buy any goodies in Hershey's Chocolate World, but I had a great time looking at the decor -- all chocolate themed.

I haven't had chocolate milk in decades, but it once was a great favorite. I would have loved this collection of chocolate syrup in my chocolate milk drinking days. My chocolate tastes are pretty simple. I still enjoy Mr. Goodbar -- love them! -- and a nice Hershey bar. I think most of us remember when they were a nickel. Anyone else a Hershey bar fan?

I'm enjoying the first days of May. We've had beautiful weather, except for heavy rain today. I'm primarily focused on work. I'm trying to wrap up my part in several projects and declutter nineteen years of paper, books, shoes and desk "adornment." It's going well. A number of people have suggested I just send it home and then deal with it, but I'm hoping to get as much out of the way as I can while I have the energy. I'm afraid it will sit in a box at home and I'll lose my oomph to get to it.  

I've asked my friend, Anita, to share her beet salad recipe -- it's unbeatable! -- and she promised a guest post very soon.

On a sadder note, please say a prayer for my colleague and friend, Tim, who is in hospice care at home, and for his wife, Dot. I've known Tim for years and he's one of the nicest and most helpful people I've worked with. Our hearts are so sad for Tim and Dot.

I leave you with hugs and a big kiss.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Survived

Either later tonight or tomorrow the participant graphic on the side of the blog will be replaced by this one, the survivor graphic, and the 2013 A to Z Challenge will pass into history.

What will remain? While the actual accomplishment of completing the challenge is terrific -- and I am delighted that I did it -- I most pleased about writing regularly. One of the reasons I first started this blog four years ago was to (re)find my voice as a writer. I have been writing as part of my job for over thirty five years. I consider myself a "pen for hire," and I have written for many people's signatures. Sometimes I have written for my own signature, but for the last nineteen years, even my own words have had a corporate voice. I have learned to be edited and I take no offense. But as the years went by I longed to find my own voice again, and have done it in Buttercupland. This year's Challenge kept me writing regularly and the discipline has been a great gift.

I am hopeful, too, that friends will remain. I have discovered some wonderful bloggers and enjoyed widening my circle of blogger friends all over the world. I am especially pleased to have found a group of writers and will be cheering on their writing successes. Thanks to the many bloggers who stopped by and visited and encouraged me throughout the Challenge. It was also fun to share the Challenge with some of my favorite blog buddies. I am very grateful to all who who were part of Blogging from A to Z 2013, especially those who organized this monumental effort.

The other, much less serious item that remains, is ending the post with a thought that includes the letter of the day. I found that a lot of fun, and now that we're finished with the Challenge I miss it. I'm going to go back to one of my favorites and wish everyone... X-traordinary Tuesday!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

On the Subject of $180.00 (Gasp!) Body Lotion

You never know what will catch folks' attention in a blog post. Not surprisingly it was my mention of trying body lotion that cost $180.00 for a container. And of course, I didn't buy it. I can go on vacation for $180.00, as well as buy a nice bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care at the drugstore.

The back story of the most expensive body lotion I've ever seen...

I was walking down Fifth Avenue and was looking for a rest room. Henri Bendel, one of the fanciest, most elegant department stores ever, has the nicest, cleanest public rest rooms. They are tucked in the basement and the area looks like a palace. To get where I needed to go I had to walk through the ultra-elegant and expensive cosmetic section. They have some standard department store brands, as well as the most exclusive and chic brands imaginable. On my way in to the store I was shown some very exclusive facial products. I stopped the woman before she could tell me how they would change my life, lest I be tempted. The body lotion display was on my way back to Fifth Avenue. I was also stopped by a woman selling Italian hand creme that had the aroma of oranges and lavender. It's still pricey, but the aroma made me think of Capri and in a weak moment -- or when I need to use the rest room -- I may succumb to temptation.

It's been a great weekend. I had dinner with friends last night. The company was great and the food was healthy and delicious. We had the best beet salad and I promise to share the recipe. Today I attended a wonderful Interfaith Psalm Festival, and I will give this concert the full post it deserves later in the week.

Hope your weekend was as fun and relaxing as mine and wishes for a great week!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pink Fifth Avenue

I took the day off from work to do some errands that could only be done on a weekday. In a burst of energy and because it was a gorgeous May day I found myself walking a lot more than I had planned. My walk included Fifth Avenue at noon time. It's not often that I've found myself in Midtown Manhattan in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. I'd forgotten how crowded it is, and how much fun it is. Because I knew that Pink Saturday was coming up I decided we would go Pink Fifth Avenue for our Pink Saturday  fun.

There's some fancy shopping on Fifth Avenue, some of it right in our pink world.  The background at Gucci is pink as is the outfit stage center. I didn't check the prices. I was already in a state of shock after I did ask about some body lotion -- it felt terrific -- that was $180.00 in Bendel's. I thanked the woman kindly and made my way out the door. I was sure that I would faint away if I asked the price at Gucci.

But just across the street I found some pretty pink bags that are much more in line with my budget. I like the pink sunglasses, too.

Yesterday I did a lot of running around, and today I am having a much more leisurely day. I'm having dinner with friends in Brooklyn tonight and have a few quick errands later this afternoon. But the majority of my has been spent reading the New York Times and a book that I am enjoying very much. I hope everyone else is having a sweet Saturday and a happy Derby Day!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's May, It's May!

Any May babies in Buttercupland?

I say it's May with some surprise and shock. I was so focused on April and the A to Z Blogging challenge that I looked at the calendar this morning and couldn't believe that it was actually May. May, the most glorious month of the spring. May, the month when the summer season begins with Memorial Day. May, when I retire. I am completely overwhelmed by the thought and not very prepared for blogging. I started compiling an alphabetical list in March for the Challenge, and stuck to most of it. I don't have one idea for May. Well, maybe a few ideas...

Look forward to a book review, or two. There will be a couple or three posts about retirement, "the Big R," and I foresee a return to Pink Saturday. Today we salute citizens of Buttercupland that are May babies. Happy birthday, emerald girls. 

My status...The weather in New York is glorious, and I wish I could ship it to my friends in the Midwest and Mountain states that are still wearing snow boots. The days at work are flying by. I'm still working, but I also seem to be spending time with friends and winding down. May is going to go very quickly!

Sweet Thursday Wishes!