Sunday, April 5, 2020

D is for Disney World

I know a place where dreams are  born...

It's the first Sunday in April,  1958, and through another decade. It's seven o'clock. I know exactly where I am and what I was doing. I am in our den in my family's house in Hartford, CT. My father is sitting in his aqua recliner, my mother is sitting on the couch. They're both probably finishing the Sunday newspapers. I'm in "my"chair. I went to Hebrew school in the morning and the afternoon was spent visiting great aunts and uncles and cousins. Dinner is finished and the kitchen has been cleaned. It's time for Walt Disney, and it's time for D Is for Disney World..

Between the Mickey Mouse Club after school every day and the Sunday night Walt Disney Hour, I was a complete fan of all things and people Disney. I dreamed of going to Disney Land and remember thinking if I could just see Disney Land I could die happy. In retrospect that's an odd thought for a middle schooler, but that was my dream, and if anything Disney taught us, it was that dreams really did come true. 

The stuff of dreams...

For many years it was just a dream. My father got two weeks vacation and we never thought to take trips that included planes. We had great vacations, but they were only as far as we could drive in one week and still have time to drive home in the second week. I didn't feel deprived, because I only knew one family while I was growing up that had been to Disney Land. As most of us remember, life was  very different in the early sixties, and I felt lucky that I could visit my dream place every Sunday night. 

The years went by and like many childish things I put away my dreams of Disney Land. It tumbled far down on my list of places to visit. Air fare grew less expensive, I got a passport, started working and the entire world opened up. 

But my dreams never went away. Finally in 1992 I spent a day at Disney Land Paris and enjoyed it immensely. It was a beautiful summer day, the park wasn't crowded and I had a lot of fun. My travel companion joined me grudgingly, but after a few hours and a number of rides, he agreed we were having a great time. 

Finally, finally I made it to Florida and Disney World in 2013. I loved the parade and lights at night. I loved the pineapple Dole whip and I loved Epcot and meeting the Disney characters.  

My friend, Mary Poppins

What were the places on your dream lists to visit? Besides Disney Land, I hoped to get to London, Paris and the Taj Mahal. It would take decades to visit the places on my dream list. 

Writing these posts has spurred me to start going through the many envelopes of photographs I haven't looked at in years. I've found myself in different haircuts and different hair colors and many different backgrounds. Besides travel pictures there are a number of family events and it's fun to see the small children that my now grown up cousins once were. I've rediscovered several places where we will be traveling in the next month, which includes tomorrows' post. We're off to a far corner of Europe and I hope you will join the Buttercupland delegation for our E destination. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Much love and wash your hands!  

Saturday, April 4, 2020

C Is for Chicago

We all need Hope 
 Robert Indiana, Hancock Center Plaza, Chicago

We've made our way from Borneo to Chicago for our Blogging from A to Z adventure today. There are a lot of cities I enjoy visiting and Chicago is high on the list. There's fabulous architecture, great food, beautiful water views and one of the finest museums in the world. I've had the good fortune to visit a number of times and would happily return again. 

 The legendary Chicago Theater is in the background.  Built in 1921, it was the first  large movie theater in America and became the prototype for those that followed. 

My favorite place to visit in Chicago is the extraordinary Art Institute.

No trip to Chicago is complete for me without a visit to the Art Institute. Founded in 1879 the collection is both wide and deep. Some of my all time favorite paintings are part of the permanent collection, including Grant Wood's American Gothic and Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. I'd seen both in any number of reproductions and parodies and the thrill of seeing the actual paintings still stands as a great memory of my first visit to Chicago and the Art Institute. I'm feeling a little museum starved these days and I had a good time visiting the museum website. There are a lot of interactive and video features and I'm planning to return in the next few days to visit El Greco online. 

A few people have asked me if I am sad that I may not be able to travel as extensively as I have in the past. Honestly, I didn't think I had more than a few -- if that many -- long, long trips left. My dream is getting to New Zealand, but that is 8,800 miles away. As the years have gone by trips that require multiple airport transfers and long flights have grown less exciting. A trip to Chicago, two hours, no transfers and lots to see and explore, is looking very good. 

We're going to share our Chicago visit with our Pink Saturday friends today. If you're not familiar with the great group of Pink Saturday bloggers, please stop by and say hello. It's always fun, upbeat and enjoyable.   

A quick hint for our destination for tomorrow! We're going to the first place I ever dreamed of visiting. I thought if I got to this magical place my life would be complete. The joys of being seven. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Much love and wash your hands! 

Friday, April 3, 2020

B Is for Borneo

Sunrise at Mount Kinabalu -- if I remember correctly -- which I did not climb

One of my favorite trips, and one of my trips least documented by photographs, was a trip to Sabah, one of the states of Malaysia. Sabah, in the Northern part of  Borneo, and Sarawak are Malaysian states. They share the island with several Indonesian states and the Sultanate of Brunei. 

Unlike many of my trips, my visit to Borneo was not a long time dream. One of my friends saw an advertisement for a relatively last-minute trip that included a visit to the orangutan sanctuary in Borneo. It was literally, buy one trip and a guest travels for free. It piqued both of our interests and we signed up. Unlike Antarctica, there wasn't a decade of reading, planning and dreaming. Off we went on a trip of 9,142 miles from New York City via Los Angeles to Taiwan to the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. 

Though the date in the bottom right corner of the photograph is is September 2002, I'm reasonably sure that I went to Borneo in 2000, and I know I definitely wasn't there in 2002. If you remember those long ago days of 2000 we didn't have smart phones with cameras that are really tiny photo labs. I went to Borneo phone-less, armed only with my digital camera. Besides taking a number of very blurry pictures, as demonstrated above, the film-using camera malfunctioned during our visit to the baby orangutan sanctuary. I was heart broken to lose all of my baby orangutan pictures.  

Though most of the photos were lost, what remained from this trip to Borneo was my interest in the orangutans. I was fascinated seeing them in their forest environment and learning how orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated so that they can return to the forest. I also learned that as more and more of Sabah is developed, the future of orangutans is endangered. During my visit I adopted Rosie and more recently I adopted Joyce from International Animal Rescue's Borneo Orangutan Rescue. 

My adopted orangutan, Joyce

My hope for Joyce and her orangutan companions is that they will soon be able 
to leave the sanctuary and return to life with other orangutans in the forest. 

I spent most of today getting through a number of indoor errands. I got to serious kitchen cleaning, bill paying, decluttering and shredding. It was great to cross a number of things off my list. I also spent time sorting through boxes of photographs looking for ideas for blog posts later in the month. We've only just begun our Blogging Around the World from A to Z  challenge. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take care. Much love and wash your hands! 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Is for Antarctica

A is for Antarctica

This is a new first for me. When I've done the A to Z Blogging Challenge in the past it usually takes me until "H" or "I" before I get behind. But this wasn't the case in the weird year of 2020. I fell behind on the first day, which was yesterday. My goal for this challenge is to complete it and to complete it in April. We do get to skip the weekends, so I plan to work one day of this weekend and get back on track with the rest of the bloggers.

We're beginning our 2020 Around the World from A to Z with a visit to Antarctica. My trip to Antarctica was literally a dream come true. For decades I believed only explorers went to Antarctica, and not always with good result. At some point -- maybe 2000  --I started to notice trips to Antarctica, but they were way out of my budget. Way out of my budget! But I put it on my "dream" list and figured it might be just that, a dream. 

Fast forward to 2014 and someone -- I'd love to remember who it was and thank that person -- mentioned that the big cruise lines also did trips to Antarctica, and the cost was significantly less. It wasn't the same as the smaller explorer ships, but I would still see Antarctica, even if I never set foot on one of the glaciers. My dream was becoming closer to reality. It got still closer when I received an email in 2015 letting me know that the trip was half the regular price. I already had plans for the winter of 2016 -- you'll see them in a post to come -- but I tucked the idea into my mind for 2017. Sure enough in December 2016 I saw the opportunity to take my dream trip. Six weeks later I was on the way to Argentina where I would board the ship for Antarctica. 

 Worth the wait 

Some places don't live up to the expectations, but not the case for my trip to Antarctica. What I saw surpassed my expectations. Every scene was a memory I didn't want to forget and a scene of extraordinary beauty. I had loved geography in elementary school and each day was a living geography lesson. 

There were so many memorable moments, but one of the high points was going around Cape Horn and through the Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. 

Not my best picture, but I was happy to be sharing my trip with a
 wonderful group of new friends that I met on the ship.  

It was fun to share my dream trip with all of Buttercupland. I'm not quite sure where our Around the World Blogging Adventure will take us next, but I'm leaning to somewhere about as far from Antarctica as we can go. Any guesses where "B" will take us?

I'm doing okay and keeping busy. My Zoom for today was another Weight Watchers group. I've got a bean and kale stew cooking -- lots of vegetable washing and chopping -- in the crockpot and took a nice walk this afternoon. I'm not quite sure what I did for the rest of the day, but it flew by. Is anyone else finding that the days are going quickly, too?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Lots of love and wash your hands!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fool!

Best April Fool's Joke Ever

When I look back at the last month it feels as though we've been living one April Fool's Day joke right after another. Between everything else going on in the world and my general disinterest in playing pranks, my mind was far from thinking of any special plans for the day. But I got my early April Fool's surprise yesterday when I opened my delivery from Imperfect Foods. I know I ordered pears, apples, bread, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale, but I also knew I didn't order an organic pineapple. Yes, that's a big beautiful pineapple on the left side of the box of food. 

In a different time and place I might have gone back to my original order to see what was substituted and gotten in touch with Imperfect, but that's for a another time, long past these difficult days. I'm going to consider the pineapple -- which seems ripe -- a gift from the universe and my best April Fool's surprise ever. 

I had my Zoom Weight Watchers group this morning and so enjoyed seeing my friends and talking about our lives in Manhattan right now. Our topic for the session was managing stress and I appreciated the upbeat and practical suggestions people made. Many people spoke about gratitude and I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in one regular activity on my calendar. What are you grateful for today?  

Now it's time to cut up the pineapple, and get my dinner from the air fryer. I've got roasted carrots, pepper and broccoli tots, so I'm definitely getting my vegetables for the day.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Meets a Bump in the Road

Sometimes we come to a bump in the road and we figure out how to go around it. 

It feels like I've lived weeks, if not months, in the last few weeks, which is especially surprising considering I probably haven't been further than a mile from my cozy apartment. But the days are starting to take on some measure of routine. I read newspapers on line, I cook, I chat with friends and attend Zoom sessions, watch television, read and blog. I also continue to walk for exercise, which is a great continuity with my life before Black Swan Days. 

On February 23 I posted about my optimism about walking and accomplishing my goal of walking a thousand miles in 2020. I was about to leave for Arizona, where I expected to walk a lot. I had gotten my spinal diagnosis and my prescription for physical therapy, which I planned to start in early March. Despite a rough 2019 I was getting back on track, literally and figuratively, to more exercise and the walking I so enjoyed. 

What a difference a month makes. I started off March with lots of walking and had my first (and only) physical therapy session. I have no idea when I will have my second session, but fortunately, I have my series of home exercises and mostly, I'm doing them. With a few days when I really stayed put and only walked around the block, I have kept walking for exercise -- and my sanity. I was sure, however, that I would fall short of my goals for my journey of walking 1,000 miles this year. 

Drum roll, please! My trusty Fitbit keeps tracking even when I have lost hope and with today yet to complete, I have walked 94.9 miles for March. My total, again without today's number, is 257.5 miles, which averages out to 85.8 miles a month. This keeps me exactly on pace to walk 1,000 miles this year, barring any unforeseen circumstances. At this point, I take nothing for granted and know that the theme of 2020 is unforeseen circumstances, but I am beyond pleased that there is one healthy goal I have kept up up during this time.    

On a different topic, if anyone would like to "guest blog," please leave a comment or send me an email. I've asked a college friend who keeps bees to share her experience and I'm delighted that Peggy will be making an appearance in Buttercupland. But your contribution doesn't have to be anything especially unusual. If you have a recipe to share, a way you're keeping engaged or a book or movie you've enjoyed, please be in touch.  

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Much love and wash your hands.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pink Blossom Pink Saturday

A few days ago I celebrated Pink Saturday just a block from home

Blossoms are everywhere and the medians on Broadway are especially pretty this year. It may be the saddest spring I can remember, but the blossoms are extraordinary. 

This picture was taken just a block from home. On the right is a food delivery truck -- our lifeline -- and on the left, more beautiful blossoms. 

Looking downtown on Broadway, noon today

Yes, it was cold, wind and rainy this morning, so the weather wasn't conducive to essential errands 
or walking for exercise, but the street wasn't that much emptier than most days.  It was, though, eerily empty for noon on Sunday.  And yes, I was out walking for exercise. I entered no stores, I wore a mask and latex gloves. When I got home I took off my shoes at the door. I then washed the gloves -- in case I had inadvertently touched anything -- and then washed my hands. After that I took off my coat. It's cumbersome, but as the days are going by, it's becoming routine.  

Somewhat to my surprise, the days go by quickly. Today I had a fun Zoom get-together with friends around the country, spent time cooking and watched two episodes of an Australian mystery. I decluttered, made a few phone calls and responded to a lot of text messages. I read newspapers on-line and listened to the Elton John television special while I worked on this post.  How was your Sunday?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love, wash your hands and don't touch your face.  

Saturday, March 28, 2020

DIY Haircut or Not?

It's either You Tube to the rescue, or more choices than I can watch in a lifetime

Last Sunday I was supposed to get my hair cut and colored. I've already decided to forget about coloring for awhile -- gray hair to come and I don't especially care -- but I am starting to look a little shaggy. I have very little natural talent at hair styling, but I thought I might be able to find a You Tube video that would give me enough direction. 

I found about a million You Tube videos. I could literally spend the next two weeks watching the gamut of professional hair stylists to my favorite, "Cutting my hair with a dollars store scissors," and still have many more left to watch. I watched the latter video and realized the woman who made it had long curly hair, which was very far from my thin, fine short hair. During my You Tube surfing I found no one with hair like mine. I realized that attempting to cut layers with my own dull scissors from the dollar store was not a good idea. If only I could get my hair cut virtually! Has anyone else used You Tube for virtual learning in the last few weeks?

Reporting back on the cookie issue: I went with no cookies for this delivery. Based on my eating tonight, it was a very wise decision. I've really been focused for the last two weeks and it's paid off in terms of feeling good and weight. Tonight I lost it and ate three sandwich thins and peanut butter. I will start over tomorrow morning, but I'm grateful that when I unpack my groceries on Monday I won't be facing the temptation of cookies. 

Thanks, Myra, of Respice, Prospice for my wonderful surprise. Myra did a giveaway for "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," by Sean Dietrich aka Sean of the South, and Buttercup is the very happy winner. Definitely recommend that you stop by and visit Myra on your blog visits. She's a lovely woman, great friend and a fun blogger.

That's life in Buttercupland, this Saturday night. Besides my sandwich thins fiasco, I'm holding up more than okay. I had the good sense not to cut my hair with my dollar store scissors, and I'll take that for a win during Black Swan days in Manhattan. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love, wash your hands and don't touch your face! 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Cookies or No Cookies: That is the Question

My most recent food shipment, plus a bottle of vitamins

I joined Imperfect Foods in January and got every other week deliveries until the last few weeks, when I began weekly deliveries. They have really, really healthy foods and I am so appreciative that I can get fresh fruits and vegetables and great protein delivered at reasonable prices. They rarely have many sweets, so it's not usually a temptation. But we know this isn't usually. 
In this week's box I saw two small boxes of cookies. One was milk chocolate and melty caramel and the other is a package of dark chocolate wafer bars. I need them, don't I? I've eaten almost no sweets or chips this entire time and I'm not wanting to go on a junk food binge -- I'd like to wear the same clothes in July -- but...
 Is one package of cookies so bad?
Cookie-less in New York

Last night I was leaning to definitely adding a package of cookies to my shipment. I have until noon tomorrow to order and the delivery will arrive sometime on Monday. So far, I have apples, oranges, onions, spinach, kale, pears, salmon and sliced turkey and a loaf of bread. I've gotten pretty creative with my air fryer and have made air fryer apple crisp, and I'm looking forward to varying my air fryer creations with pear crisp. Tonight I'm leaning away from ordering the cookies, and seeing if I can go another week without bringing sweets into my house. One of my friends suggested I could get them and then share them with my neighbors, but we're being very prudent about not going into each other's apartments. One of my neighbors has picked up food for me and she has left it outside my door and I have left newspapers outside her door.

Have you changed your eating habits? I have in many ways. I cook all the time now, which seems to be the new norm for those of us who are staying put. I am much more conscious of waste -- a habit that I know will carry over -- and I'm trying to eat as healthy as possible to keep my immune system happy and strong.

The box pictured above is from a website that sells healthy food. Thrive Market offers "healthy" foods and I've used them for no-sugar and low-carb options. I don't order a lot from them, but when they offered a discount, free shipping and lots of interesting shelf stable protein I ordered. I was happy to find my pumpkin flax Kodiak cakes and I'm experimenting with Right Rice and Banzo, which is rice made from chickpeas. If anyone is interested in ordering from Thrive, this link would give you 25% off, and for full disclosure I would get a $25.00 credit. Thrive is especially useful if you are looking for items for a special diet, e.g., gluten-free or ketogenic.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Nor Any a Drop to Drink (With Apologies to Coleridge)

Or, more importantly, wash my hands

Every six months, or so, my building shuts off the water for most of the day, to perform some kind of needed repair to our somewhat temperamental plumbing system. The building was built in 1911 and though sturdy, it needs a lot of tweaks. Usually, a water shut down isn't a problem. On a regular Thursday I would have showered and made coffee before leaving for my 11:00 a.m. Weight Watchers group. Knowing that the water had been turned off until 4:00 p.m. I would have made a plan for the afternoon and returned in the afternoon to running water.

But this isn't usually. I was up after seven, showered and made coffee. I went to my Weight Watchers group via Zoom and then decided to have lunch. Eek! Most of the things I have needed some preparation, and the beginning of that preparation was running water. I thought of going down to get my mail from yesterday, but I would need to wash my hands after returning from my lobby.  I took a portion of stew out of the freezer, heated it up and that was lunch. The dish can wait for the return of hot water to be rinsed. None of this is earth shattering, but it literally brought home to me that there are few things that are usual on March 26, 2020. 

On a different note, welcome to my sink. I don't have a back splash in back of my sink, but a selection of my tile collection. My mother began the collection in 1966 with the purchase of the smaller blue and white tile in Delft. One of the other tiles she collected is at the far left and it's from a trip to Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts. To the right of the original Delft tile are tiles I bought in Curacao, Brazil and Greece. I use some of the tiles as trivets and others I enjoy in the kitchen. Is anyone else a tile collector?

That's my news for the day. Weight Watchers in the morning, blog visits and now to settle in with a book. I've also got decluttering on the schedule, and then some shredding. What have you done today that you especially enjoyed?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

No, You're Not Hallucinating...

...Buttercupland is celebrating Social Media Spirit Week 

I don't remember celebrating Spirit Week any time during my school career, but I've enjoyed the pictures of crazy socks, Dr. Seuss hats and pajama days that friends have shared on Facebook. This week I learned of Social Media Spirit Week. I missed pajama day and crazy sock day, but I'm catching up with Christmas in March day. I still had a few holiday decoration on the mantel -- the Russian nesting dolls live there year round -- and all the time in the world to rearrange them and find the arrangement I liked the best. 

While I've been writing, tonight's (and several night's) dinner was cooking in the air fryer. Tonight is grilled chicken breast and my new favorite veggie, grilled garlic carrots. There's no need to worry about using too much garlic. The aroma is great and it's comforting to know that I've got dinner already prepared at 3:45 in the afternoon. One of my commitments is to eat healthy every day, and with a few glitches I've been succeeding. I'm using the fresh food and saving my stockpile of dried beans, tomato sauce and canned tuna for a later time. If I don't get to them during these Black Swan Days, I will have to buy a lot fewer groceries in the months to come.   

I know I've promised a book post, but I've had a tough time putting it together. My concentration is fine for getting day-to-day things done, but my serious concentration just isn't there. I'm not at all bored and have been keeping busy. I will be doing a post shortly about my new daily schedule. Any new activities that you have added? 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Dame Vera Lynn

Last Friday, Dame Vera Lynn, the "Forces Sweetheart," turned 103 years old. Americans may not be very familiar with Vera Lynn, but everyone in England who remembers World War II knows Dame Vera Lynn. Her singing inspired England throughout the darkest days of the war and she became the Forces Sweetheart with her wartime visits to Egypt, India and Burma. 

I was reminded of her last summer during my cruise in the UK. There Will Always Be an England the White Cliffs of Dover were part of our evening entertainment. But I first learned of her from records -- remember them? -- that my parents often played. We'll Meet Again and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square were two of their favorites that she performed. A Nightingale Sang... is still one of my favorites and I also discovered her version of Land of Hope and Glory. 

My elementary school graduated to Land of Hope and Glory and I still am moved when I listen to it.  I rediscovered it on YouTube in the last week and I've now been playing it almost every day. I grew up on this music that inspired people during the those difficult times, so it's no surprise that I turn to it now, in our own difficult times. Are you turning to music now as well? If you are, what are some of the songs that have brightened your days?

Besides learning to use Zoom, my major activity is cooking. Even without a working stove I'm eating well. Last night I made a black bean stew in the crockpot. Dinner tonight was baked chicken, garlic roasted carrots -- no concern about too much garlic -- and broccoli "tots" from Birdseye, all done in the air fryer. My biggest project was oatmeal peanut butter cookies also made in the air fryer. I let them bake too long, but I was very pleased for a first try.  

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands.  

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Live from Churchill Manitoba

My Northern Lights experience in Iceland

While I am writing this post I am also watching the Northern Lights in Churchill Manitoba, thanks to The best times to view them are between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. The best time of the year to see the lights is during February and March, with many cool, clear nights. These extraordinary lights are created by "billions of collisions between charged particles (electrons) from space with gases in our atmosphere." The result is beyond awe.

It takes a clear night to see the Northern Lights, but not too moonlit a night. I visited Iceland a few years ago and the top activity on my list was seeing the Northern Lights. It was a clear night, but also completely moonlit. On any other night I would have been thrilled, but the brightness of the moon made seeing the lights next to impossible. Our wonderful guide instructed us in using a Northern Lights app on our phones. The photograph above was done via the app.

This photograph was taken the same night. Very different from what I anticipated. 

A sad reality for Northern Light tours. I considered trying a second tour with better results, 
but this was the case for several nights after my first attempt to see the lights.   

Despite my resolve to keep to some semblance of a schedule, I went way off it today. I did get my walk and phone calls with friends, but fell asleep while reading late in the afternoon. I started this post about ten and then went down a rabbit hole of listening to music. It was totally enjoyable -- lots of the Three Irish Tenors -- but it's a lot later than I am usually awake. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands! 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Butterfly and Unicorn Pink Saturday

Pretty in Pink Saturday fun

We are officially in quarantine, though still permitted to go out to buy food and walk for exercise, as long as we are six feet from other people. This has been my routine for over the last week and my times out walking have been among my favorite parts of the day. My goal is to walk three miles every day and with the exception of yesterday I've been successful. I'm taking this very seriously and appreciate the friends who have been in touch to tell me to keep to the quarantine. 

On my walk this week I passed a very cute children's clothing store and the array of pretty in pink purses and backpacks caught my eye. The butterfly purse in the picture above may be my favorite. 

But the popcorn purse was the first one that caught my attention and the 
kitty cat backpack would make a great gift, too. 

 This entire window is great, and my favorite here is "PARTY." 

The pink backpack is so sweet, but I'm partial to the blue purse in back of it. 
Believe is just what I need to get me through these day.  

I planned to do a post devoted to books today, but spent way too long on the phone with friends in the afternoon. No regrets about. I loved catching up and keeping in touch. I have a lighter "schedule" tomorrow and plan to put my post together in the afternoon. My only "commitment" besides walking   is our evening services on Zoom. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands!  

Thursday, March 19, 2020


I struck gold!

I looked up "eureka" before I started writing this post. There were several events cited. The first and most prominent was the Greek mathematician, Archimedes, shouting eureka when he stepped into the bath and realized the amount of water displaced was equal to the volume of the part of his body that was submerged. The second and equally well known event is the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California in 1848, and the beginning of the Gold Rush.

I am adding another event, not so well known, but just as exciting to me. It's the (re)discovery of hand sanitizer, antibacterial hand wipes and a horde of soap.The sanitizers and the wipes are of recent vintage, but the soap collection appears to go back at least twenty-five years.

As anyone who has ever traveled with me knows, I am a collector of hotel bathroom goodies. One of my first discoveries when I check into a hotel is to see what treasures are stocked in the bathroom. Most of my souvenirs became contributions to charity drives over the years, but this group was in the bottom drawer of one of my bedside nightstands. I had tucked them away, in some cases, decades ago, and they were ready for these black swan days. 

The two bars, top and bottom right of the photograph, were from a trip to Israel in, I believe, 1993. There was definitely a trip to Chicago and a stay at The Drake Hotel and a stay at a Hyatt Hotel, though I can't remember which one.  I've also got bars of soap and liquid soap, so I'm totally prepared for the requisite hand washing. I never would have imagined that my fascination with tiny soaps that began with Camay in the late 1950s would have become a full-fledged vintage soap collection, or have me prepared for a pandemic.

Today was genuinely a busy day. Every organization of which I am a part has discovered Zoom, a video conference site, and I "attended" my regular Weight Watchers meeting and my synagogue study group, actually on the day it was scheduled. It was great to see and connect with my friends in both groups. Tomorrow I'd like to "drop in" at another Weight Watchers group where my friend Annie is the leader, visit a meditation group in the afternoon and conclude the day with a live feed with friends in Costa Rica. I've begun to use my calendar again to keep track of all the events going on. Is anyone else using Zoom?

Tomorrow is book day. Please stop by and see what I'm reading and share what you're reading. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands! If you need soap, let me know.   

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Road to Glendalough

On the road to Glendalough

As I was looking for a photo yesterday to post for St. Patrick's Day I found a number of pictures from my visit to Ireland last June that I hadn't shared. I thought I had well documented the trip, but it doesn't look like I shared one picture in Buttercupland. Betsy and I had spent four days in Dublin, sightseeing, walking many miles and enjoying fiddle music and fish and chips. It was a wonderful visit and I was grateful for the opportunity then and even more grateful now.

On our last day before flying home we made separate plans before meeting up for dinner. As I had been to Dublin before -- I'm firmly convinced that I cannot get to Dublin too many times -- I decided to see a little of the Irish countryside. One of my stops was the Shrine of St. Kevin in County Wicklow.

Glendalough, the Glen of Two Lakes, is the site of the monastery of St. Kevin, one of the main pilgrimage sites in Ireland. St. Kevin originally came to this beautiful site to live a hermit's life in the sixth century. His only companions were the birds and animals. His piety became well known and eventually a settlement was started on the lakeside. In time a seminary of scholars grew from the settlement. Today it's a national park and though it's less than two hours from Dublin it is still a beautiful and serene place to visit.

On the right is the Round Tower of Glendalough and the beautiful Irish wild roses. 

In the other photographs the sky is very dark, but this much better reflects the day.

One of the entry ways to the site. More wild roses and not pictured, a lone piper playing.  

Glendalough feels very far away, not just in distance, but in spirit. St. Kevin was called to a hermit's life and entered it by choice. The great majority of us we have taken up a hermit's life suddenly and not by our choosing. I am not making light of the many hardships and tragedies so many people will face, but the Irish monks are an example of fortitude during some of the darkest times in world history. May we all find the fortitude and grace to live our finest hours.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourselves. Much love and wash your hands! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends

Consider me planted!

I used to have a saying at work, "You live and die by your friends." I worked at a very large New York City/State agency. Our responsibilities were literally 24/7 and issues, projects and challenges seemed to arrive from every direction. I learned early in my almost twenty year tenure that I needed the help of my colleagues to do my job.  No matter how hard I worked or how smart I thought I was, I needed colleagues who could help me when my abilities alone weren't enough. 

At first that saying was metaphoric, but as we experienced September 11 while in our office just blocks from the World Trade Center, we literally depended on each other for our lives and well-being. I was blessed with amazing colleagues who became dear friends. Together we survived the aftermath of September 11, a major blackout, the World Financial Crisis of 2008 and then Superstorm Sandy. There were many difficult days, but I never had to experience them alone.

Now we have entered another dark time, full of uncertainty. My work saying came back to me today. In life now, as it was at work years ago, we are all in this together. But I thought about the wording carefully and I've amended it to, "I live by my friends." My syntax is a little off here, but it sums up my need and I expect, all of our needs for company, socialization, friendship. One way the days of darkness will be made lighter is by the world beyond our doors, our friends near and far. 

Please be in touch and keep in touch. Don't be shy about needing a kind word or an email. As the Beatles put it, "I get by with a little help from my friends." True in 1967 and definitely true in 2020.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the River Liffey, Dublin

On a different note -- somewhat -- this is a very different St. Patrick's Day than usual, but it's still St. Patrick's Day. This is a memory from my trip last summer to Dublin with my dear friend, Betsy, and what wonderful memories they are. I haven't looked at my Ireland pictures in quite awhile until this morning and it brought back our great adventure. I'd like to share some of our favorites and that will be tomorrow's post. 

 As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care, be well and wash your hands! 

It's Time for the A to Z Challenge

Since 2013 I've been a participant in the A to Z Challenge. The challenge begins on April 1 with a blog post that features the letter A and concludes on April 30 with Z. I've had a number of themes over the years, including New York City and New York City Subways. My all-time favorite theme was Coffee and I followed up with Coffee Around the World last year. In the interest of truth in blogging, I have finished the Challenge once, in 2013. I'm sad to admit last year I only got as far as "I is for Iced Coffee." 

Despite my poor performance in past years I begin each new year with enthusiasm and optimism that I will complete the Challenge. I wasn't sure I would do the Challenge this year. I was scheduled to leave for Florida on April 23 and begin a transatlantic cruise on April 25. I started planning this trip with my high school friend, Susan, last March as we both recovered from surgery. We had stops in the Azores and Morocco -- both of which I've never visited -- and Southern Spain. The cruise ended in Barcelona and after Barcelona we planned to spend a few days in Porto, Portugal. From Porto we would fly home to Newark. We had the cruise booked, flights booked, hotels in Barcelona and Porto and I'd arranged for a tour in Taroudant, Morocco. I even had a new (to me) dress to wear for formal nights. Today I canceled the hotel in Porto and wrote to the nice people I'd arranged the tour with. And, yes, it made me sad.

All of that said, I'm once again beginning the A to Z Challenge. Due to circumstances far beyond my control, I have every faith that I will complete it in 2020. In fact, the Challenge will be one of my main activities next month. Today in blogs around the world Challenge topics are being revealed and Buttercupland is proud to be part of it. On April 1 we begin "Around the World from A to Z." We will be going around the world virtually to some of my favorite places, and you are invited to be part of the fun.

I almost could have pretended that today was a regular day. I went to the bank and walked in the neighborhood. I bought a ream of paper at the local stationery store. But I also made a quick stop at one of the local groceries looking for spinach. I  added two pounds of dried kidney beans to my basket and that was so out of my norm. Kidney beans are not my beans of choice and I'm not having a crowd over for a big three bean salad, but when I see shelf stable protein I buy it. As of tomorrow, restaurants are only serving take-out and delivery, my Y is closed, my hairdresser is closed and Weight Watchers is going virtual on Thursday. 

This was the scene at my nearest Trader Joe's this afternoon. The line went to the next corner. 

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care, be well and wash your hands! 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Saturday in the Park With Jane and Howie

Pretty in Pink for Pink Saturday

I took the pictures for this post during a beautiful walk in Riverside Park yesterday afternoon with my dear friends, Jane and Howie. We ate lunch out at a local (uncrowded) restaurant and then enjoyed a perfect spring afternoon in the park in our neighborhood. Riverside Park is on the Hudson River and in the distance you can see the George Washington Bridge. 

But that seems a lifetime ago. Since yesterday afternoon it seems the entire world of New York City has turned upside down. Schools are now closed until April 20 and as of this evening all restaurants are closed, except for delivery and takeout. I started to write this post at least five times and then an alert would pop up or I'd get an announcement text. My concerns of yesterday -- should I go to the gym? -- now seem very far  away, and quite trivial. 

Spring flowers in New York City

If the apartment buildings weren't the backdrop, I might have been in the New England of my youth.

As ever, thanks so much for visiting. Know that you and your families are in my prayers. Take care and of course, wash your hands!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Join Me on the Livestream

Beginning yesterday, New York City declared a state of emergency. The lights of Broadway were dimmed, many museums closed and all programs with more than 500 people were banned. 

I belong to a very large and active synagogue with over 3000 members. Generally there are over 500 people at both the Friday night and Saturday morning services. As of yesterday, Sabbath services will still be held,  but attendance will be limited to prayer leaders, Torah readers and families of teens that are B'nai  Mitzvah -- the Jewish ritual for thirteen year olds.  The services will be live-streamed to the rest of the congregation, or anyone else who would like to be a virtual part of the congregation. 

We are still having daily prayer services, both mornings and evenings on week days and Sunday mornings. They are in the big sanctuary and the chairs are spaced out to discourage close contact. I went last night and there were about 30 people, instead of the usual dozen that go to evening services. I'm planning to attend all week-night services as long as we can have them. I would be honored to bring all prayer requests with me. Leave them in the comments or if you'd like, send me an email. 

If anyone would like to join us for any of our services, this is the link to the livestream. There  are downloads for music and attached commentary for the Torah portion of the week.  

Let me add a note about the sanctuary. Our congregation's present building, pictured above was built in 1919. It is our fifth building, beginning with a building in Lower Manhattan in 1825. As the population moved uptown, so did our congregation, eventually to our present site on the Upper West Side. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and thanks for being part of Buttercupland. Take good care and wash your hands! 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bye Bye, Endless Loop of Happy Birthday

My unexpected site for turning hand washing into a blessing

You are looking at a very ordinary sink. But it's the first place I put into practice my resolve to turn hand washing from a chore -- albeit an extremely necessary public health chore -- to a sacred ritual. It happened at approximately 2:05 yesterday as I washed my hands after my physical therapy session. It was easily the 10th, 15th, 20th time I washed my hands yesterday. 

My friend, Karen, did a post about hand washing as part of the Passover Seder, and it got me to thinking about the many times that hand washing is part of Jewish observance. Couldn't this most recent injunction to wash our hands become part of a sacred ritual, too? It's purpose was to help save lives and stop the spread of disease, a righteous goal. I decided instead of mindlessly singing "Happy Birthday" over and over, I would use the hand washing time throughout the day to say Psalms and pray. 

I chose the the 23rd Psalm -- the only Psalm I know by heart -- while I washed my hands at this sink.   I didn't try to time myself, but it definitely seemed long enough for the twenty seconds required for proper hand washing. I timed my self when I got home and found that it took me twenty seconds, via my phone timer, to recite the first four verses. 

One of my goals during these days of hand washing will be to add more verses to my store of memorized scripture. I may stay with Psalms, which are traditionally recited on behalf of the sick, or add other verses of Scripture. If you're not a praying person, you might recite a bit of a favorite poem, or even some long ago memorized scrap of Shakespeare.

These are tough days, and they may well get tougher. Any actions that give purpose and meaning to our lives will help us through these Black Swan days. So whether you start your hand washing with "The Lord is my shepherd..." or "She walks in beauty, like the night..." you've helped transform a burdensome chore to a sacred ritual.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and wash your hands!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Black Swan Days Begin

Lower Manhattan, Looking North

I've had a lot of trouble finding a title for this post. But I saw a post from a friend on Facebook about a black swan. A black swan is an "unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected and has potentially serious consequences. They are extremely rare and have a severe impact." My deepest prayer is that Covid19 is as many have characterized it,  a "bad flu," but looking at data from Italy I am more concerned that it is a black swan. 

Buttercupland is not about to become a medical blog and I will make every effort to continue to write about positive and upbeat topics. But I most likely will be spending much more time at home and staying away from gatherings of large groups. The latter is on recommendation of my internist who I saw on Monday. There may be a lot more photographs taken in walking distance of my apartment, photographs taken in years past and lots of long delayed book reviews. 

I thought about what I will be doing in the hours I would normally be scheduling activities all over New York City. I will be blogging more, reading more and yes, working on the infinite decluttering. I will also be walking as much as possible as a way to keep fit and to burn off nervous energy. My building has a beautiful -- and little used -- roof deck and I plan to enjoy it more than usual this spring. 

Saturday my friend, Jane, and I spent the afternoon walking, taking pictures and then walking a lot more. My total for the day was over six miles. It was crisp, but sunny and we had a wonderful walk in Lower Manhattan. We stopped for lunch at Pier A, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1886 as the headquarters for the New York Harbor Police and Department of Docks and renovated several years ago. 

 An extraordinary view from Pier A. Alas it was too cold to sit outside for lunch. 

 The Oyster House is modeled after the classic fish house of New York City. It wasn't crowded
 for Saturday lunch, but during the week it's much more difficult to find a coveted seat at the bar. 

My day today was very average, but I enjoyed every minute spent outdoors and seeing friends at Weight Watchers. First stop of the day was Weight Watchers, my first day of physical therapy, a visit to the library to return an overdue book and a quick stop at the grocery. I'm pleased to report that there was more than adequate stock of both toilet paper and paper towels. How was your day, dear friends?

As ever, thanks for visiting. I'll be back tomorrow with thoughts on hand washing, our new global activity, and prayer. Take good care!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Thank You, Antonius Block

In time and place that seems very far distant I studied film history and criticism. I loved seeing films and writing about films and applied to graduate school in Cinema Studies. My goal was to teach film on the college level. But time and tide went in a very different direction and though I still love seeing movies it didn't become my career. 

One of the benefits of those days was seeing many classic films that helped inform the person that I became. My favorite film of that era, perhaps every era, was "The Seventh Seal," directed by Ingmar Bergman. In the film the war-weary Swedish knight, Antonius Block, played by Max Von Sydow, returns to Sweden from the Crusades. The country is in the midst of the Black Death and Block soon encounters Death, whom he challenges to a chess match. 

My memory of Max Von Sydow, who died yesterday at 90, are always of Antonius Block. I was surprised to see the headline which cited his work in "The Exorcist" and as Three Eyed Raven in "Game of Thrones," but I realize I was remembering him in the role that had lasted with me for over fifty years. 

"The Seventh Seal" is not an easy film to view. There is sorrow, there is violence and there is death. But the message that I took away and that has lasted with me for decades is that even in the very darkest of times there are moments of light. In one beautiful and poignant scene Antonius Block looks out at a young family who are part of a troop of players and says:

"I shall remember this moment: the silence, the twilight, the bowl of strawberries, the bowl of milk. Your faces in the evening light. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lyre. I shall try to remember our talk. I shall carry this memory carefully in my hands as if it were a bowl brimful of fresh milk. It will be a sign to me, and a great sufficiency."

Thank you, Max Von Sydow. You gave me a memory that lasted fifty years and watchwords for our own days of difficulty and sorrows.  

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

As the Sun Sets in the West Pink Saturday

Sedona pink sunset, perfect for Pink Saturday, or any day!

At the end of what seems like a very long week, we all can use a perfect pink sunset. I spent my last night in Sedona -- seems like a lot more than a week ago -- on the Sunset Trolley tour and my reward was this beautiful sunset. 

I had a window seat on "Bob" for our sunset tour. Even the view from 
the trolley parking lot includes the red rocks of Sedona. 

Our first stop was the Huckaby Hiking Trail. We had a too short half hour to enjoy the area. Unfortunately, not enough time to hike, but enough time to take pictures of the end of the day light on the mountains. 

 Six o'clock, Sedona

 Red rocks, red sand, cactus and Buttercup! Many thanks to one of my trolley companions. 

I now, totally, feel back from vacation. This post ends the official set of Sedona posts, though I plan to do one post this week reflecting on thoughtful spending on vacation. I begin the week with a running start of an  8:00 a.m. visit to my internist for a six month check. What's your day look like?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!