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?
Sincerely,
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 Explore.org 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

Eureka!

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!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time for a Brew with a View

Coffee of the Month at Creekside Coffee in Sedona

With everything going on in the world, I thought it was time to take a deep breath and enjoy a cup of iced coffee and a beautiful view. Please join me at Creekside Coffee in gorgeous Sedona. 

After I opted out of buying the twelve dollar cupcake, I still wanted an afternoon coffee and a little sweet treat. I was walking up State Road 79 enjoying the scenery and not really expecting to find anywhere for coffee and a snack, when I saw the signage for Creekside Coffee. I hadn't done any research about coffee and didn't realize I had just lucked upon the probably number one coffee shop in Sedona. There was no premade iced coffee and my iced decaf Americano, (shot of Espresso and water) made fresh for me was perfect, as was my peanut butter cookie.  

But in Sedona it's all about the view and the view was spectacular. I've enjoyed a lot of great coffee around the world, but Creekside Coffee rates a ten out of ten for coffee, cookie and view. Aren't you glad you joined me?

Always a pleasure when I have a productive day and today was one. I started with Weight Watchers in the morning. My Sedona treats showed on the scale, but I enjoyed them and I'm now back to more sensible eating. In the afternoon I had my quarterly retinologist appointment and I am delighted to report that my eyes are stable. I try not to think about my eye condition, but I do get anxious before my check ups. I am grateful for my wonderful ophthalmologist and the great staff in the office. I've also been keeping up my walking and the beautiful weather has made it easy to do. I've walked over an average of three miles daily since I've been back in New York and it feels great. What were you grateful for today?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

(Not) Too Pretty to Eat

The signature treat at Sedona Cake Couture

When you're a Weight Watcher and a Thoughtful Spender, a twelve dollar cupcake (Yes, a twelve dollar cupcake!) is beyond a splurge, but definitely picture worthy. Actually, the thought "too pretty to eat" came to mind looking at this cupcake and the beautiful cookies at Sedona Cake Couture. But I had a great time looking at the treats and ultimately opting for a scoop of birthday cake ice cream. 

Most of my travels involve a lot of planning. I try to visit places I've never been and may never return to. This gives me a limited amount of time to sight see and try local delicacies and, and I rarely leave without research and a list of must-see and must-do. But my visit to Sedona was very different. This was my fourth visit and I've checked off most of the major must-see attractions. I had three days to wander, walk and just enjoy the beautiful surroundings. I came upon Sedona Cake Couture early on my first full day in Sedona, and it set a very high bar for treats. 

A semi-selfie while I studied the flavors. 

Which one would you choose?

I'm more of an ice cream fan than a cupcake fan and this sign drew me in. My first choice was Nilla Vanilla Banana Pudding, but alas, they were out of it. The Irish Cream Brownie was good, 
but I opted for Birthday Cake, and I wasn't  disappointed. One scoop of homemade ice cream = $6.75. The memory = priceless. 

This cookie was just too pretty to eat!

The brownies were tempting, too, and the store had an extraordinary aroma of chocolate.  

 Cupcake, ice cream, cookie or brownie, all delicious and homemade. Which one would you choose?  

I got myself back on track yesterday and remembered my Weight Watchers weigh-in on Wednesday and spinach was top of my grocery list. I started the week with my water aerobics class and swimming laps. With everything going on in the world I find that swimming and walking are my best ways to keep calm(er). 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Pink Saturday Goes to Sedona


Back from beautiful from Sedona and I'm finding it difficult to settle back into my usual activities. I'm not sure if it's jet lag or Vacation-Lag or too much going on in the world, or a combination of all three. I took a lot of photographs while I was away and specifically took this series at Pink Adventure Tours in Uptown Sedona. I didn't opt for one of the jeep tours, but I had a great time taking lots of pictures there. 

The Pink Jeep Adventure Center set against the red rocks of Sedona

I'm a snow globe collector and these caught my eye, but the thoughtful visitor -- me -- didn't buy. 

I was tempted to buy a snow globe to add to my collection, but since I only had a carry-on bag I decided against it. I had the unfortunate experience of having to leave a snow globe with security on a trip several years ago. The large snow globes scan as liquid and don't go through a TSA check.  

This tote caught my eye specifically for a Pink Saturday post. 

I very much enjoyed my trip to Sedona. This is my fourth trip and I was once again awed by the beauty of the area. I walked miles, did some sight-seeing, ate a few treats and enjoyed sixty degree weather while I sat outside and read. One of the best treats of the trip was the night sky over Sedona and looking up and seeing the Big Dipper. I love New York City, but I also miss starry nights. I'll be featuring Sedona in posts during this week and doing another Sedona Pink Saturday at the end of the week. 

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and prayers for good health!