Sunday, December 12, 2010

Surprise Trips

I’ve always enjoyed showing up in New York without much notice. The surprise element is fun to plan.

Seven years ago, I really needed to be on two coasts at the same time. I always endeavor to be present at my grandchildrens’ reception of the Sacraments. That year, my youngest daughter was expecting her first child right around the time one of my grandchildren was receiving his First Holy Communion. I could not plan anything as I needed to be in San Diego for my daughter. The little girl was born on Wednesday about 7 pm. That evening I got a reservation on a Red-eye out of Los Angeles for Friday night. I drove to Los Angeles that evening and flew to JFK (New York City) arriving around 5AM. No one but my son in Los Angeles and my New York City daughter knew what I was up to. My daughter met me at JFK and drove me to Beacon, NY. As we were driving north, we planned how I was going to surprise the rest of the family. As she parked the car, I tip-toed up the porch steps to the front door and waited. Meanwhile, she ran to the back door and entered the house yelling there is someone at the front door. My son-in-law opened the door. He later told me that for him it was like seeing a ghost. My daughter ran past him, yelling to her sister (his wife) that she had to get out of the shower and come downstairs right away, which she did. It was such a great surprise. When the family was ready, we drove to the church where we saw my eldest daughter. She responded with a routine “hello” and then, at her sister’s beckoning, realized that I was sitting in the passenger seat. It was a great surprise.

I told the lady who does my hair. She told her mother, who lives in Mexico City. Inspired by my spontaneity, her mother flew one day to see her children in San Diego without telling them. She arrived at the airport and phoned one of her daughters. Unfortunately, she picked a time when they were at work. The poor woman sat at the Tijuana airport for hours until one of the children could come for her.

Four years ago I did it again for my eldest daughter’s birthday. Then, however, her husband and the sisters knew about it so I had a lot of help. I stayed out of the way until I went to the restaurant. It was so nice standing in a room full of people at her surprise party just waiting for her to reach where I was standing. She walked around the room talking to each of her friends and then, finally, recognized me.

In April of this year, I replayed the scenario for my Beacon daughter’s special birthday. This time, however, I flew to NY with no one meeting me. I arrived at JFK around 4pm, went to the baggage claim for my large suitcase. When I got that, I looked for the Air Train (a monorail) that would take me to the New York City subway system. I was loaded down with a small cosmetic bag that held a C-Pap, a big red suitcase, and a large model bag holding my “valuables.” I decided to take the “E” train and had to ask a lot of directions. I found everyone to be very helpful. It was quite a trek. My final destination was Grand Central Station on 42nd Street. I rode the “E” train until I reached 42nd street and Eighth Avenue. Then, I took another subway line which crosses the city from east to west to get to Grand Central Station. I purposely took the long way around because the larger stations usually have an elevator at train platforms.

I finally arrived at Grand Central at 6:30pm when I met my eldest daughter (a little worried, since she knew I landed at 4pm). We went into the restaurant where I surprised the birthday girl and my New York City daughter. It was another great surprise with the eruption of tears as well as hugs.

This fall, my surprise trip was to attend my daughter’s baby shower. Since we e-mailed daily, I made a big mistake. I forgot to make up an excuse as to why I wasn’t around to answer her e-mails and calls. You don’t do that to a pregnant woman. My bad….

Monday, December 6, 2010

Return to San Diego

On Saturday I returned to San Diego on United Airlines. The first leg of the trip (Flight #7009) from Westchester County Airport was delayed almost three hours due to snow in Chicago. When the plane arrived in Chicago at Gate F1, we deplaned on the tarmac. I estimated that the first 100 feet was wet with occasional patches of icy slush, followed by approximately 500 feet on ice and slush. I actually had to hold on to the cement wall as I inched along very carefully, step by step, to reach the building, because I was concerned about falling. The snow had stopped but I guess no one bothered to clear that pathway. After I entered the building and made my way to the shuttle bus to go from Terminal F to Terminal C, I found the pathway to the bus clear, as well as a clear pathway when I arrived at Terminal C. There was an elderly couple on my flight who used wheelchairs to board the plane. I hope they were not too inconvenienced by the situation.

I contacted United to alert them to this fact, since it is only the beginning of the season. Hopefully, they will ensure that this pathway is cleared in the future.

The second leg of my trip (Flight #651) on United left 40 minutes late. After we were settled in our seats, we were informed that we were waiting for the crew who had just arrived from Providence. Before long, the captain apologized for the delay stating that they would do their best to quickly perform necessary preparations for the flight. I heard some men make comments about the words, "do their best," and I assumed it was because the captain was female. After a while, the captain announced that we would be delayed another approximately 15 minutes while the plane was de-iced. I certainly didn't mind that. I wanted a safe flight. And, I was so tired at that point I didn't have a reaction. By the time I arrived in San Diego, I had been traveling for 13 hours.

By the way, I like Westchester County Airport, but you don't really want to experience a delay there. After screening, you stay in one large room with a little snack stand. I had already purchased O Magazine at a stand when I arrived outside the screening area. I enjoyed reading the articles but I didn't need several hours to read the magazine. A few years ago, while flying to San Diego from Westchester County Airport, a plane to Florida was delayed. We seemed to have at least 200 people in that one room. Very uncomfortable, in my opinion. On Saturday, however, all the other flights were for the Eastern Seaboard so they didn't have delays. Just my plane.... :)

While I love New York and had a great time with the family, I was very happy today. I went out to the food store in a sweater set and immediately went back inside to changed to a short sleeve shirt. What a wonderful feeling. I obviously enjoy the warm sunlight as opposed to ice and snow. The San Diego weather forecast for the rest of this week is 68 and 69 degrees, and in the 70's on the weekend. I'm displaying my photographs of San Diego to show how inviting it is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

License My Unique Child's Scarf (US Patent Number D486953)

I was visiting my daughter as she prepared four young children (two three year olds, one 5 years, and the fourth child, 7 years) to go outside to play. They all knew how to put their jackets on independently and their hats and mittens, as well. Then, she put their scarves around their necks. As I watched, I thought, "If only I could create something that would enable the children to put on their own scarves." Just then, I thought of the solution.

I created a knitted scarf that would make my daughter's life easier. The child just puts the scarf around his or her neck with the ends to the front, inserts one end in the slot at the other end and turns it around to the back of the head. I specifically created it wide enough to cover the child's nose, mouth and throat to protect from the cold.

On one of my cross-country flights, the flight attendant asked me what I was knitting. When I told her, she said, "Patent that." I did obtain a design patent (US Patent Number D486953) and am interested in licensing it.

You can probably imagine how excited I was when I read of Mom Invented's product search. They were looking for a product in the juvenile category that would make life easier and more convenient for parents. It also had to have mass appeal. My scarf fit so perfectly. Then, imagine my dismay when I read that I wasn't eligible because I had already submitted the product to manufacturers.

From the age of two and a half to three years old, my grandchildren and friends have been using the scarves I've made. Other Mom's who see the way a child can put on my scarf without help would just love it. I've always envisioned it sold in Walmart and Target, so that many, many Moms could benefit.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Madame Brett Park

On October 24, my daughter and granddaughter, who live in Beacon, took me to Madame Brett Park, which is located along the Hudson River. The first thing they wanted to show me was the beautiful Tioranda Falls.

After carefully making our way towards the top of the falls (my daughter and grandaughter went all the way to the top), we took photos and carefully descended, working our way around the muddy trail. I almost fell in the mud, but my daughter grabbed my arm just in the nick of time. The pictures were worth it.

Then we proceeded across the parking lot to a wooden walkway along the Fishkill Creek, passing by the Tioranda Bridge, one of the last remaining bowstring truss bridges in the United States, now partially dismantled and unuseable.

The walkway was constructed along old abandoned buildings that had been the hat factory and the button factory in days gone by.
We followed the trail down towards tidal marshes along the Hudson River, returning by way of an upper pathway.
As we competed our walk, we met a woman, a young girl and a man standing on the walkway and fishing in the creek. I inquired about what fish they were catching. The woman told me that other fishermen had caught catfish.
This was a peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable walk, as well as informative. Beacon has much to offer a wanderer on a beautiful Fall day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beacon Sloop Club Pumpkin Festival

On Sunday, October 17th, my Grandson and I walked down the hill to the Beacon Train Station (Beacon, NY) where the Beacon Sloop Club was holding their Pumpkin Festival. We arrived toward the end of the day due to his participation in a Soccer game in Brewster, NY earlier. However, we enjoyed walking around checking out the Vendor's booths. There were produce stands, a candle-making table, hand-knit items, a photo booth, and, of course, food and hot cider.
As we walked around, we discovered a woman with a large parrot on her shoulder. When I asked permission to photograph the bird, Peacenik, she immediately placed the parrot on my grandson's shoulder and took our picture. She took my camera and snapped the picture so quickly, I decided that she must receive such requests frequently. Then, I took my Grandson's picture with Peacenik.

When the Sloop Club's flagship, Woody Guthrie, pulled up to the pier, we went to check it out. Unfortunately since it was about 4:30pm, we missed the opportunity to sail on it, but look forward to the opportunity in the future.

Due to my Grandson's patience, I was able to spend time taking photos as well.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Trip of a Different Kind

I accompanied my daughter to a sonogram of her yet to be born daughter. I actually saw the baby's beating heart, bladder and kidneys, as well as her femur and ribs. To see an unborn baby's heart beating was a very moving experience, to say the least, but to see the kidneys really blew me away. The technician measured her head, stomach and femur. Then he determined the baby's weight. This was the second time I went to the sonogram appointment. The first time, I saw all her features as she tried to put her fist in her mouth.

What an awesome privilege it was to see inside this precious baby. I'm so grateful to her parents for this opportunity.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Delta 4951

When I read about the Delta flight 4951 having an emergency landing due to a landing gear problem at JFK on Saturday night Sept 25, 2010, I gasped. I was just on that flight the night before. I had flown on Friday from San Diego to Atlanta. The second leg of the trip was from Atlanta to White Plains, NY. What made this notable was that 4951 had other problems on Friday night as well. When I arrived at Gate C-38 on Friday for a 5:30pm flight, we didn’t board at the scheduled time. As best as I can remember, we were alerted at 5:30pm that boarding time was delayed due to a mechanical problem. Two of the men standing nearby asked the woman behind the desk what the problem was. She stated that it was the alt….. Then her voice trailed off. One of the men standing near me stated that he had been delayed an 1 hour and a half late last week because of a mechanical problem. Shortly thereafter, the estimated departure time was changed to 6:00pm. When the men standing around asked for an update, she responded that the repair had been made, but they were waiting for someone to sign off on the job. The next time I looked, the departure time was changed again to 6:06pm.

Not long after this, a flight attendant came out the door to the plane with his suitcase. Recognizing this as a gate change, I immediately gathered my belongings to see where he was going. Then the woman at the desk announced the gate change to C-33. We all followed the flight attendant to that gate. When we arrived at the gate, the woman behind this desk requested that all the passengers for White Plains take a seat while paper work was completed for the plane change. It wasn’t long before we could board. After we were all in our seats, the pilot announced that we had to wait for the plane to be re-fueled. The pilot stated that we needed 14,000 pounds and he had only 3800, which would only get us as far as Virginia. His demeanor was very pleasant. While the wait seemed interminable, it was probably five minutes. Then a young woman came along and connected the giant fuel hose into the ground. After a long day, I really didn’t pay much attention to the flight once we were in the air. I think the pilot announced that the flight took 1hr and 55 minutes.

Regarding the news accounts on the Internet about the Saturday night emergency landing of Delta 4951, some people complained about a female flight attendant constantly calling for people to keep their heads down. If it was the same woman, Teresa, who was the flight attendant on my plane, I commend her for paying such good attention to the welfare of her passengers. During my flight the night before, I was a little chilled and draped my sweater across my chest. She noticed it in passing and offered me a blanket. I’ve never, in over 25 years, had any flight attendant offer me a blanket that I didn’t request. While some jaded travelers might think this is a little thing, her attention to detail was, again, commendable. Also, because of the narrow steep stairs for deplaning at White Plains, the male flight attendant, John, helped me by holding my bag and C-PAP (a small but heavy Sleep Apnea machine) while I climbed down and handed them to me when I was on the ground. That also never happened before. On this trip, it was noticeable how pleasant all the Delta personnel were. It really helps a traveler when they feel that the people running the show care.

I’m happy and grateful that no one was injured on Saturday night’s flight. However, in light of the men’s comments when my DELTA 4951 flight was delayed on Friday night, maybe the Delta CEO should do an “Undercover Boss” show in Atlanta.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Recollections of Sept. 11, 2001

No American civilian should ever have to experience the events of 9/11 on American soil. And, my experience of that day is in no way comparable to the heartache of the families of the victims. The following is just my personal recollection of that day.

As my train pulled into Grand Central Station that morning, I heard some buzz from other commuters. But, it was none of my business so I just got off the train and walked the underground tunnel to the Forty-fifth Street exit. As I walked up Madison Avenue, I saw a throng of people standing around a bank looking at a TV. As I tried to see that they were looking at, somehow I got the message that something happened at the World Trade Center. I remember looking in that direction, seeing smoke, and trying to use my phone, and then, trying my Blackberry. No signal. I proceeded north to my office on 52nd St. When I arrived, I saw that I had a message from my daughter who worked near the World Trade Center. However, I could not reach her since I had no phone service.

I proceeded to work. A short while later, I heard that there was a TV in Personnel. So, I went to that floor to see what was going on. After a few minutes, I squeezed into the room. The scene was incredulous. I decided that for me the best thing was to go back to work. Young people on my floor were just milling around. We were the IT (computer) department. They either had IT friends in those World Trade buildings or, like me, had previously worked there themselves. I tried to work, but at the back of my mind were all the tens of thousands of commuters who literally poured out of the ground from the PATH (a train from New Jersey). What happened to all those people? Many, many times I had walked through the underground shopping Plaza and the passage ways under those buildings as a shortcut to save time. Since my commute was 2 ½ hours each way from upstate New York, I was always running to be on time at work. In November 2000, a co-worker and good friend gave me a job lead that resulted in my leaving the World Trade Center and moving to 52nd Street. As an aside, I later heard that a very smart female executive of the Port of Authority ordered the trains diverted to the mid-town area of New York City, saving many lives. I thought of how I would take my lunch into one of the glassed-in areas of my building and look at the Towers. How magnificent they were. Of course, I was just looking at the lower floors. I thought the design was intriguing.

Later that morning, I finally heard from my daughter who was with her co-workers at an apartment in lower Manhattan. One of the workers just took his whole department to his home. I advised my daughter to stay right where she was with her co-workers unless they were evacuated. Then, I was contacted by a great friend from Merrill Lynch inviting me to stay the night at her place since the City was in "lock-down."

Being in Computer Security, I decided, since I had no phone, to try sending emails to get messages to my children. I thank the good Lord for the “Information Highway.” Being able to contact my family in an event such as this is why I feel so strongly that there should be no Government interference with the Internet. I emailed friends in San Diego requesting that they contact my family. My children thought I still worked in the World Trade Center. Exactly where I worked was not one of their concerns. I didn’t know my son’s work e-mail address, but decided to create the addresses in different ways. Surely, one of the emails would get through. Not knowing was going to happen next, I wrote to my son that his sister and I were OK. I gave him the address and phone number for the apartment where she was staying. Then, I gave him the phone number of the friend with whom I would be staying. Without being melodramatic, I thought this might be the last communication we could possibly have. It brings me to tears when I think of it.

Around noon, I went to the bank to get money since I couldn’t get home that night. The sea of people walking, shoulder to shoulder, north out of the City on both sidewalks of Park Avenue was at least five people deep. It was an amazing, yet fearful sight.

Around 1pm, my daughter, accompanied by a co-worker, walked the 30 blocks to be with me. Her hair was covered in ash. I got her in our “locked-down” building. When we reached my office, the phone rang. It was my son in Los Angeles. My daughter, wide-eyed and in shock, told him what happened….her words just spilling out. I tried to calm her down. Her only response to me was, “You weren’t there.”

Then, my daughter told me we just had to get out of the City. She kept pressing. As far as I knew, we couldn't go anywhere. I decided to leave and walk to Grand Central to see if any trains were moving. I never in my lifetime had been prepared for what I saw.

As we walked the now eerily empty Park Avenue south to the train station, we were met with men with megaphones ordering us where to go. We walked a sidewalk cordoned off with safety tape into what seemed like the only open entrance. Other than the sea of people in the great expanse of the center of the building, I don’t remember much except that my mind kept reeling, thinking that something else could happen at any moment. Before long, we were on a train leaving the City.

That evening, watching TV, I saw the real events I knew nothing about because I tried to work that day. I realized that I, being the kind of employee I was, would have returned to my desk in one of those buildings when the “All Clear” announcement was given.

My daughter and I were now safe, but what about those people who died. What about their families? Even today, my heart goes out to them

I realize that this is a sharp contrast to my usually light-hearted and hopefully informative blog. I will always remember my daughter walking 30 blocks to my uptown office, covered in ash from those collapsed buildings….wide-eyed and in shock, having seen death and destruction not many American civilians have ever seen. And, as I said in the beginning of this writing, no American citizen should ever have to experience the events of 9/11 on American soil and no one should ever forget.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

San Diego Zoo at Night

I went with my daughter and her two children to the San Diego Zoo tonight for a program called, Nighttime Zoo. Our main quest was an art show and a bird show that the children saw last week with their Dad and Mom.

When we arrived we were able to see the art show, called "Splash! Animals". The performers danced to music while painting a picture of an animal's face. During this process, as they are still painting, they encourage the children to guess what the animal is. The audience really enjoyed watching the performers and their talent.

Then we wandered through the zoo to see what we could see since it was beginning to get dark. First we checked out the Lost Forest and saw a large red Orangutan. I told the children that he looked like a judge sitting in court. Just then, he got up and went down into a cave, as though he heard my remarks. The children liked watching the young Orangutan swing from rope to rope. Then, off we went into the Parker Aviary followed by the Owens Aviary at my request. It was eerily quiet since most of the birds were probably sleeping, but we did see a lorikeet (a very colorful bird) enjoying its meal at a tray feeder. We stood just two or three feet away.

The next place we visited was the Asian Passage where we saw two Sun Bear cubs playing. Then, on to the Panda Exhibit, which is usually very crowded, but not tonight. It was like tiptoeing into a baby's room to check on him or her. The attendant spoke very softly and we watched as the largest Panda, in one area, and a baby, in a tree in another area, slept. A woman standing next to me lamented to her friend that the Pandas were not awake. Just then, a third Panda moved behind a large rock. He was sorting through some cut bamboo branches just like a picky eater. We quietly joked with the 3 year old that the Panda wasn't the only picky eater we knew.

At this point, we made our way to the bird show called, "SOAR: A Symphony in Flight." The show had different kinds of birds (some large, some exotic, and some comedic). This show was thoroughly enjoyable. I can see why the children, as well as my daughter, wanted to see it again. I was able to photograph the Owl as it landed on a perch near our seats.

The Nighttime Zoo will be ending on Sept. 6, but is well worth checking out next summer. I will definitely revisit. Exploring the zoo at night is fun.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mushrooms Possibly Identified

I received a response regarding my questions about the mushrooms spotted on my daily walk. My source, Jack, says that they could be Redding Lepiota (Lepiota Americana). He didn't think that the Red-Crowned parrots were responsible. I did a search on the Internet to see if I could find a picture to compare with mine. When I keyed in "Lepiota Americana picture", sure enough, there it was. Also, further research told me that these mushrooms can be found on lawns. Jack advised me not to eat it unless I had it tested to make sure it wasn't poisonous. He can rest easy because I am not that adventurous. So, my great scientific find was not "one for the textbooks." Oh, and thanks Jack.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Favorite San Diego Restaurants

A few weeks ago, my daughter's husband and children went with their grandparents to the mountains (not my daughter's "thing"). After spending a day resting, she called me to invite me to dinner. And, of course, without taking a breath, I said, "Yes." We went to Sammy's Woodfired Pizza in Point Loma to celebrate our birthdays, which occur within days of each other. She had not been to Sammy's since she moved to New York about four years ago. When we used to eat there, we would share a small "five cheese" pizza without the Gorgonzola cheese because our shared "Balsamic Grilled Chicken Salad" came with that cheese. That's exactly what we ate that day. It was scrumptious. Of course, I had been on a very strict diet....always trying to lose weight. Even so, we both ate heartily and enjoyed every bite. Then we topped it off with a shared dessert, "Apple Empanadas" served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I've always liked Sammy's and have visited here in Point Loma, as well in Mission Valley with friends. It was especially nice to celebrate here with my daughter.

Then, on my birthday, the same daughter and her two children (seven and three years old) took me to my favorite Italian restaurant in San Diego, Filippi's in Pacific Beach. As soon as we arrived and were seated, the waitress brought two plates to the table. On each was a piece of pizza dough resting on some flour. What a great idea! The children immediately got busy working with the dough. Their creations kept them busy until the meal arrived.

I had a hefty serving of delicious lasagna and a l-a-r-g-e meatball. I ate half of each. It was delicious, but it was very filling. I'll admit it. I ate some bread. My daughter ordered ravioli and the children had spaghetti and shared a large meatball. When the waitress brought a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a candle in it, I just couldn't touch it. We all enjoyed our meal.

The service and atmosphere was great, and the food, delicious. I'd recommend this restaurant, as well.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Strange Mushrooms in my Neighborhood

I try to take a daily walk around my neighborhood. Four times around this square block is equivalent to approximately one mile. I try to walk everywhere to get enough exercise, such as going to the post office, which is about one and one half miles from my home. The grocery store is one half mile and Target, a little further away. By doing my errands separately, I am able to increase my exercise.

On Saturday, when I was circling the block, I noticed a bunch of mushrooms on the lawn by the parking lot on the outside of my apartment complex. I don't recall ever seeing any mushrooms in my neighborhood. On the East Coast, while walking in the woods, I've taken some pictures of different species, because I thought they looked pretty.

So, I went home and got my camera. As I took pictures of them, I realized that they were growing right under the same tree where I startled the Red-crowned parrots in early July. I certainly have no scientific expertise, but I wonder if their droppings caused the growth of these mushrooms, which aren't anywhere else in the complex, except under this one tree. I've sent an e-mail to someone with expertise in recognizing mushrooms. I'm displaying a picture at the top of the blog in case someone can identify them.

The mushrooms shown below were found in the Hudson Valley of New York on the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt Estates (both National Historic sites).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer has arrived in San Diego

For the past two months, we have had many cloudy days, which is unusual. About one week ago, the sun came out from behind the clouds and we have had mostly blue skies since. Also, the heat has arrived.

San Diego is said to have the most temperate climate in the United States. I'd venture that the temps rest in the 60's and 70's. When I first moved here, the people at work said that the summer months in San Diego were August and September. I was surprised since I was used to the East Coast where the real summer heat came in June, July and August, cooling off by Labor Day.

Well, as I said before, the heat has arrived. Since I live near the Coast, my 78 or 80 doesn't hold a candle to about 10 miles inland where it is about 10 degrees hotter. The 78 or 80 I experience is hot since there is no shade. I like to walk as exercise, but during this time, I have to wait until it is almost dark. Ho-hum, poor me.

Last week, I went with my daughter and her children to the Bay at Mission Beach. That is the plus factor. We don’t go to the actual beach at this time of the year because it is quite crowded and parking is a challenge, to say the least.

While my daughter was so happy that "summer finally arrived", I was longing for the clouds. However, I know that once the end of September comes, I'll be very comfortable again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rhinebeck, New York

Recently, Rhinebeck, New York, a small town on the east side of the Hudson River, was all over the news with Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. It is a small town in Dutchess County with one main road (Route 9) running north through it. With all the celebrities and news representatives, I’m sure the town was abuzz. On weekends, the traffic is usually very busy. Normally in the Fall, it is very popular with weekend visitors from New York City.

I love the Fall in New York, when the colors of nature just pop. The smells of the season are in the air. It’s time for apple picking (resulting in apple pies), taking photos of the beautiful scenery, and just getting out and walking.

During my upcoming trip to New York in October, I plan to squeeze in a visit to Rhinebeck, and check out all the little shops, just like the tourists from the “City” (for non-New Yorkers that is the code word for New York City). After all, the “City” is unarguably the center of arts, finance, style and sophistication. Anyway, as I’ve found in years past, it is fun to drive to Rhinebeck, get some lunch, just walk around and check out the beautiful pricy pieces of eclectic clothing and antiques. In years past, I’ve been able to find a small, unique gift for someone on my Christmas list in one of the little shops. We’ll see.

If you have a free day, take a drive to Rhinebeck and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Corvette Diner

On Sunday, my friend, Marge, took my daughter, her young children and myself to San Diego’s Corvette Diner for lunch. Actually, it’s much more than lunch. It is a trip back to the 50’s. With the music, d├ęcor and personnel endeavoring to show you a good time, it is a great reminder of the “way it was.” The children really enjoyed the dancing waitresses, balloon characters made to their specifications, and, of course, the good food.

The menu brings back memories as well. I had “the Big Cheez” (grilled cheese on sourdough garlic toast with tomato)….delicious, although I ordered it without the tomato. It reminded me of when I started working in New York City at age 15. I went to a sandwich shop daily with some co-workers where this sandwich with the tomato was my lunch of choice when I didn't order a hamburger. I always ordered a chocolate Egg Cream, which I also did on Sunday. Corvette’s offers many items with interesting names, such as hamburger dishes called the “Brenda”, “Rory” and “Dee Dee” and “Hubcap Sliders” (mini-hamburgers).

Of course, no meal would be complete without a little ice cream, or a big Banana Split, which some of us enjoyed immensely.

I definitely recommend the Corvette Diner for a great fun experience as well as good food. It is a great way to take a trip down memory lane.

Thanks to Marge for a truly enjoyable time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Red-crowned Parrots

Last Friday, on a return trip from the grocery store, I discovered a wild green parrot in a tree on the edge of my apartment complex in San Diego. I rushed home and got my camera. Usually these birds, called Red-crowned Parrots, fly high and fast, squawking very loudly in flocks of up to more than two dozen (I lost count several times).... ergo, my difficulty in photographing them. They fly across the complex every morning between 7 and 8am, returning between 4 and 7pm. Some of the neighbors don't like them because of the noise. I believe they spend the night somewhere in Ocean Beach (a neighboring beach community). Where they actually spend their days is a mystery to me.

When I returned, camera in hand with the shutter sound turned off, I took several pictures. However, they were not good because of the shine of its feathers. Then another parrot spotted me (maybe the glint from the silver colored camera) and squawked, alerting the birds. About five or six swished off in one group, passing just over my head with a rush of sound and wind. I had not seen them since they were buried in the tree. Just when I thought I lost the opportunity, I heard a nut fall from the tree. There among the leaves was one lone parrot. I suppose he was just too hungry to follow the others.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bronx Zoo Trip

In April, I flew to New York and enjoyed a day at the Bronx Zoo with 11 other members (11 adults and 5 children) of my family. We were celebrating the fortieth birthday of my daughter, who decided on spending her day this way.

The Bronx Zoo is located in a highly populated area of New York City in the borough called the Bronx. The picture of the buffalo with the tall apartment building in the background shows how close it is to everyday life. The other scenes show how the zoo provides a respite as well as educating the public about our wildlife.

We arrived early enough to see the California Seals presentation, which included watching them being fed. The family really enjoyed it. I, being able to see the Seals whenever I choose, sat on the sideline. Then, they all moved on to the Monkey House. The children came out, calling me inside to see some of the Monkeys’ antics. After this, they made their way to the reptile house, definitely not my cup of tea. I preferred to take pictures of the peacock. As we traveled through the zoo, my daughters spotted the children’s section. They took the children, ages 9 through 16, in to see what they had previously enjoyed as youngsters. They went into the prairie dog town and popped up in acrylic openings in the hill. Then they all climbed the ropes resembling a spider’s web, posing for a photo, obviously to tall for this area. It was still fun.

For lunch, a picnic was provided by the birthday girl. My eldest daughter brought very fancy cupcakes and one candle. Much to the dismay of the birthday girl (that she quickly got over), we sang “Happy Birthday” and ate the cupcakes.

Due to a grandchild’s scheduled soccer game, half the party left and the remainder proceeded with the day. After a ride on the Merry-go-Round, a visit to the Butterfly House was quite a treat. You walk in among the butterflies and watch them as they gracefully flit from plant to plant.

As a busy day ended, we were ready for a Starbucks. Alas, the people we asked told us of places that were well off our route. Finally, we took an exit of the highway and, low and behold, there was a Starbucks. A great day was had by all.

Actually, earlier in the day, the family agreed that we should do this again on someone else’s birthday, but as time marches on the family is just too busy again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Easter Sunday Earthquake

On Easter Sunday, the West Coast part of our family was visiting in-laws in the Bay Park section of San Diego. They have a beautiful, flower laden patio and the weather was just perfect. The property is near the Rose Canyon Fault.

All of a sudden, while we were sitting on the patio, my daughter’s mother-in-law looked at me and said, “Feel that? Oh, this is big.” Just then I felt very nauseous and felt the ground move. It was like being on a mini-roller coaster ride. I actually felt the ground moving below me. Everyone came out from the house. Both in-laws agreed that wherever the earthquake hit, it was a big one. Also, it lasted almost a minute, which was not typical. It turned out to be a big one (7.2) just south of the Mexican border. One minute later, there was another one (6.6) just north of the border. Again, I felt nauseous.

When I arrived home about two hours later, my bedroom door was closed, but nothing had moved out of place. This was quite an experience. Smaller earthquake events have continued throughout this week. One morning mid-week my son-in-law called to see if I was OK. His house, about 3 miles away, rocked while I felt nothing. Yesterday morning, I awoke around 2:15am as my bed seemed to move from left to right for a few seconds. I went to the computer to find that a 4.4 had occurred at 2:12am near the Mexico border. My daughter didn’t feel anything from that one.

About 2 ½ years ago, on a Labor Day morning around 8am, I was brushing my teeth and the next thing I knew I was actually lifted off the floor and landed about two feet away. Thankfully, I could anchor my right elbow on my bathroom sink and my left forearm on the toilet. This kept me from falling to the floor. I rushed out to the living room to check the TV and sure enough it had been a 4.0 earthquake just off Mission Beach, a few miles from my apartment.

A number of years ago, after a small earthquake which was felt in downtown San Diego where I worked, I spoke with the people in my office. To a person, all twenty people agreed that they would rather risk an earthquake than put up with hurricanes, ice and snow, or tornadoes.

While I believe that all the recent earthquake activity in California has been near the San Andreas Fault line, I discovered that I live near the Point Loma Fault line and, as I already mentioned, my daughter lives on the Rose Canyon Fault line. Apparently when one fault line moves, other faults adjust their position. You can check out the earthquake activity in California at .

I guess it is a matter of perspective. I like living here because of the sunlight. In the eight years I’ve lived in San Diego, you experience bright sunny weather with blue skies during most of the year. I’ll stay here for a while and enjoy the good weather.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

At the Beach

On Palm Sunday, after Mass I went to Pacific Beach with my daughter and grandchildren. Because the weather was in the 70s and Spring Break, many families had the same idea. After a long search for a parking space, we found a spot about a block away and made our way on to the boardwalk and across the sand. After my daughter set up, I sat on the beach chair that my daughter thoughtfully provided; my grandson took his trucks and shovels and settled into playing on the sand. My daughter and granddaughter went to the water which was at low tide, collected shells and splashed in the incoming waves. The blue sky, warm weather, watching a large sloop not far off the beach and a Para-glider just surfing along contributed to a lovely time. Later I enjoyed walking in the low waves and checking for pretty shells….my favorite activity at the beach. The only disappointment was that I forgot my camera!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Polar Bears

Polar Bears

On Friday, my granddaughter had a half day of school, so we went to the San Diego Zoo arriving around 1:30pm. When asked what she wanted to do, my granddaughter picked the Polar Bear Exhibit. Since I had been there a short while ago, I remember seeing that it was closed for renovations. However, just to make sure I was right, I asked a Zoo representative standing by the entrance. The woman told us that the exhibit reopened at noon that day. How excited we were. We were getting to see the Polar Bears before most of the public. We did miss the dignitaries however. Later that evening, my daughter called me to say that Tori Spelling, her husband and children were there. Also, Denise Richards and her children. If I had been looking at the people, I might have recognized Tori Spelling, but that is about it.

We took the Skyride because the Polar Bear exhibit is clear across the park from the entrance. When you enter the exhibit, you go into a cave-like building where you get a view of above and underneath the waterline. So, if the Polar Bear was swimming, you could catch it. Or, as in our case, he was just laying around. We left that enclosure and went around the corner to another viewing area. There we saw the other Polar Bear pouncing on a piece of wood. After he finished, he went for a fresh carrot snack and then lay down for a rest. The new exhibit has a constructed cave for children to explore and places for photo ops. Also, in order to give an idea of just how big a Polar Bear is the exhibit provided a few sculptures, a baby Polar Bear on a rock, a medium size one, and then, an extremely tall one. Next to the sculptures, were two refrigerators. When you opened the door of the first, there were displays of portioned meals for toddlers up through adults. The other refrigerator contained a display of raw meat that looked like hundreds of pounds. This was the diet of the Polar Bear.

We walked back towards the Zoo entrance riding the moving stairway and stopping at the Owens Aviary, which consists of two levels. There, we were able to closely view a beautiful multi-colored lorikeet eating some fruit. We checked out both levels, but missed the other birds that were probably hiding. Usually, there are many different species of birds there. My granddaughter was quite taken with the waterfalls within the exhibit. Then, on to meet my daughter and grandson at the entrance. My granddaughter chose to walk up the hill as opposed to returning to the moving stairway. We both found this very tiring. She really, really wanted to visit to the Children’s Zoo. We ventured over there so that she could climb the large tree house with stairs and slides, etc. I have a suspicion that it wasn’t that much fun for a six year old. When we all met at the entrance, after some ice cream, I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to be the tour guide and take everyone back to the Polar Bear exhibit. So off we went onto the Skyride. This gave us the opportunity to see a duck with about 10 very small ducklings. Our “guests” enjoyed the tour this time with climbing into a real helicopter (motor removed) for a photo op. My grandson didn’t want to get out.

After another hour and a half, it was time to go home. We all enjoyed the Zoo and our time together.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hyde Park Trails

There are seven nature trails in Hyde Park. Spread over two visits to New York, I was fortunate to explore them. Probably the most famous are on the grounds of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and that of the Vanderbilt’s. My youngest daughter and grandson (in his stroller) accompanied me on all my treks through these beautiful areas. We found an owl along the Roosevelt Woods Trail, providing me with a great photo. We discovered that you could walk these trails from FDR’s estate into the Vanderbilt Loop, though we explored each one separately since we were constrained on time. We had to get my granddaughter from school. We discovered some of the woodsy trails were rough on the stroller.

On another day, we walked the trail at Pinewoods Park. We visited here after school one day, since this trail was much shorter and more like a big loop through the woods. My daughter had taken the children there a number of times. On another day, we walked through Hackett Hill Park trail, which is just about a mile.

Since I like the Hudson River, we also visited the Mills Mansion in Staatsburg. The children, ages 2 and 6, were very well behaved on the tour. I’m sure that some time in their future, memories of this tour will surface. Also, they enjoyed running up and down the expansive rolling green lawn. This property gave us a great view of the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse on the river. We went back there on a separate visit and walked down to the Hudson. My grandson and his mom enjoyed skipping small stones on the water.

The day before I was returning to San Diego, my daughter called me. They had just opened the trail FDR took to visit Eleanor at her estate in Val-Kill. It runs between 9 and 9G. I got some great photos of some interesting old trees.

Hyde Park seems to be inviting us to be healthier by taking nature walks. Right up my alley. Of course, we personalized it by stopping at Dunkin Donuts and getting our coffee and a small amount of Munchkins.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beacon walks

I love walking around Beacon, New York. Sometimes I’d walk my granddaughter to school and then on to the Yankee Clipper Diner for breakfast. I had food at home, but this place is nice and homey. Main Street in Beacon boasts quaint little shops. It provides an interesting walk after breakfast. My favorite store is Hudson Beach Glass. I love to browse and when I didn’t have time, I would just peer in the window at the beautiful blown-glass birds. I especially liked the Hummingbird.
Two of my visits to Beacon were timed just right so that I could accompany my granddaughter’s class to the Howland Public Library, the firehouse near the school, and the DIA Art Museum down by the Hudson River. The children were studying their community and I was psyched to venture through more of the town.
There was an artsy part of town on the East side. Weekend visitors take the Metro North train from New York City to see the DIA and then lunch in town or a visit to store front galleries before getting the train home. The East side of Beacon has some old buildings that I found interesting, reminiscent of 1930s when there used to be a hat factory in town. Also, across the tracks is a waterfall hidden behind one of the large old brick buildings. Further up the same road is a restaurant where Paul Newman had dinner every night while making the film, Nobody’s Fool. I’m not sure if it is open now (the Economy?).
Down by the Hudson River, there are walking trails near Long Dock (south of the train station). I had hoped to photograph an Eagle, but contented myself with a little Goldfinch perched on a reed. My sister graciously accompanied me as I pushed on looking for interesting subjects, such as a few baby Canadian Geese. Both parents watched me “like Hawks”, as I remained about eight feet away, but I came away with good pictures.
Walking the Newburg Beacon Bridge when I stay in Beacon is a form of exercise and inspiration. I had a friend from Prayer Group who walked it every day. As far as I know the span is 2 miles long. I’ve never made it completely across (just ¾ of the way), but I’ve met people walking and running no matter what time of day. My son-in-law has taken the kids bike-riding from Beacon across into Newburgh. The first time I was jarred by the vibrations caused by the traffic on the bridge. It is a funny feeling. But after a while it didn’t bother me. Also, some people have pointed out the noise of the traffic. But I think that the scenes of the river and the hills of both the Newburg and Beacon sides are quite beautiful and soon took my attention. For me it was a great opportunity for taking pictures. One day, it was low-lying clouds near the bridge that provided a photo opt for me as well as the Beacon hills laced with clouds. If you decide to walk the bridge, you would have to park on a side street, but you just might enjoy it. On my next trip, I plan to do just that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yesterday, I had two little visitors who were "under the weather." Since both parents are now working and I am available, the children spent the morning with me. We had a nice quiet time, watching a video and planing a game. When Daddy came to pick them up, I saw how beautiful the day had become. The temperature was about 58 degrees with wind gusts of 36 mph. I love the wind and decided to go out. Since it was Tuesday, it would be an excellent time to visit Balboa Park and take advantage of free admission to some museums.
I was able to visit the Museum of Photographic Arts. Since I enjoy taking photographs, I thought it would be good for me to see what the experts do. Then, off to the Museum of San Diego History. They had a raised floor with a picture of the topography of San Diego County. They also plastic maps that children could place on the floor when they found that particulating matching location on the floor map. My grandchildren would enjoy doing that. To my left was a room with a closed glass door. The attendant told me that the door was closed just to protect the clothing displayed inside. So, I ventured in and found a display of some very old dresses, as well as clothing from the 1960s. There before my eyes were the styles I used to wear. Truthfully, my reaction was strange because I don't feel that old. There were dresses, handbags (or purses), gloves and a hat just like one that I wore. Actually, I owned 22 hats. I kept them in beautiful hatboxes. By the time I had our seven children, I decided I didn't need them anymore because it was no longer stylish to wear hats. I never believed in saving clothing. If I couldn't wear something that was still good, I donated it. But I think that these hats went to the town dump one year when we were doing clean up. I had absolutely no idea that they would come back into fashion.
As I completed my tour of the museums, I got a call inviting me to go out for coffee. Wonderful! Then, as I closed the cell phone, I spotted a beautiful bluebird. I tried to take its picture but wasn't fast enough. However, the sight was a great reminder that Spring is near.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Christmas Visit to New York

I love to visit New York and when I do, my visits with family and friends fill my time. It is so enjoyable to see the children's concerts and just do the everyday family things. This past Christmas was no different except for what I felt to be extreme cold. I'm so grateful also to all my long-time friends who altered their calendars to meet with me. I'm really very, very blessed. The day after I arrived, I joined my daughter and her family at Carmine's Theater District Restaurant in the City. After a delicious lunch, we ventured out into the wind and the rain, the family to a play, and I with another daughter, to the Research room at the New York Public Library. I love this building and needed some information. Worth a visit. I planned to venture out the next day by myself, as I love walking around New York City, flitting here and there, but the weather was not to my liking, to say the least.
The following weekend, I found myself on a Metro North Train to the City again. This time, my eldest daughter was taking me along with her family to lunch at a restaurant called Becco and then, to see Shrek. On the way to the restaurant, I showed the family a building on Broadway which houses public restrooms maintained by a manufacturer of soft toilet tissue. Only in New York....however, it could turn out to be convenient. After a delicious dinner we ventured up to the M&M store that was absolutely filled with people and then, across the street to the Hershey store. While there my grandson received a call saying that Grandma was on TV. While I was walking up Broadway hunched against the falling cold snow, head bundled in my lovely black scarf, I just happened to cross the path of a cameraman recording the snowfall. I guess that was my two seconds of fame. The play was enjoyable and we exited the theatre to find the snow falling heavily. Thankfully, we spotted a subway station across the street and carefully climbed down the stairs. This enabled us to reach Grand Central Station without encountering the snow again. I love to look at the snow falling with the beautiful scenery that it provides and I like walking in the first snowfall of the season, but that is it.
On Christmas Eve the whole East Coast family met at my third daughter's home in Queens for a great dinner and gift-opening. Parking in Queens is no picnic, but the Lord and my daughter's husband provided. Culminating my wonderful, freezing visit to New York was attending the taping of the Martha Stewart Show following, of course, our Starbucks coffee and pastry. First things first! All my New York daughters accompanied me to the show and everyone had a great time. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
While I got to see many friends, some visits just didn't work out. Christmas time is always busy for families. Perhaps next time.... By the way, I took the picture of the BlueJay in Beacon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Welcome to my first blog

I call myself a "bi-coastal grandma" because I have three children and their families on the East Coast and three children and their families on the West Coast.

After September 11, 2001, I left New York and moved to San Diego, CA. I enjoy the sunlight and while I miss my East Coast family, I don't miss the ice and snow. Retiring in the later part of 2007 enabled me to visit the East for longer periods of time. I've been so blessed to have sons-in-law who don't mind the really long stays. During the last storm that left 2 to 3 feet of snow in Dutchess County, NY, as I was comfy and warm in San Diego, I kept close watch over the Internet. It amazed me that I could speak with my daughter in Beacon via cell phone and read her the Poughkeepsie Journal on-line and tell her the condition of her town since she had no electricity for four days.

Since retiring, I've made it a practice to take long walks, which opened up a whole new world to me. Here in San Diego, I walk through Balboa Park with its beautiful plants and museums. Each Tuesday the admission to one or more of the museums is free to residents. It's a very beautiful park and worth the visit. Last year, I walked along the beach and will start again soon. As I walk, I take photos of what I find interesting.

When visiting New York, I usually attempt to walk a lot, taking many pictures. This past Christmas I found just too cold so I hibernated in my daughters houses. Walking the Beacon-Newburgh Bridge is quite an experience. Hyde Park has seven nature trails. I'll write about those experiences another day.