No, It’s a Flatbread

*laughing* This one is NOT a pizza, even though it’s round. This was curried mushrooms and onions, topped with cheese. It was so absolutely YUMMY that I forgave him for setting off the smoke detector. Sigh. I’d baked rolls the day before and we both noticed the “something is burnt in the oven smell” but neither of us remembered to set the oven to clean. Not only did the smoke detector go off but even when we set the fan to high and opened windows and doors it continued sounding. Obviously something had fallen off and was burning on the floor of the oven. As you can see from the pics – the flatbread itself was fine and we both ate more than we should have, it was that delicious. 🙂

look at how CHEESE-Y it is!!!

Good thing my husband felt like cooking because I was very unhappy. I’d gone out to survey my garden. I discovered that something, most likely the groundhogs, had eaten my sunflower plants. 😦 I grew those from SEEDS!!! They were starting to really look as if they might one day be big flowers. I’m sooooo tired of putting up nets. I thought netting the daisies and echinacea was the last net. While my husband made dinner I was putting up netting BEHIND the netting in the front. I put 4 stakes in the ground and wrapped the deer net around the stakes. Then I anchored the bottom with garden staples and bricks. Sure, the devil groundhogs could probably burrow under and up, but I’m hoping it won’t be worth the effort. And I’m hoping there is enough left of each plant to continue to grow. If not, well, I still have some cosmos I’ve not yet planted and I still have cosmos seeds. So far no one has been eating them. The tithonia seems to be intact as well.

you can see the original front net (right side) and the 4 added stakes & net behind it. 😦

Walking to, through, and from Central Park

Wonderful old architecture on the streets of Manhattan

As mentioned before I was in NYC at the HSS the other day. For hours. 🙂 Once we were situated at our FOURTH stop, over 90 minutes earlier than our appointment, I decided now was the time to head out for a stroll about the city.

I’d only want to live in the city if I could afford to be one of the people with a rooftop garden escape

I love walking about NYC. There is so much beautiful architecture and little treasures hidden on and in buildings if you only take the time to look.

Look at how GREEN this street is! And look at the 2nd floor
apartment – all those plants!

It’s about 7 cross-town blocks from HSS to Central Park. As my mother would have told you, the cross-town blocks are the looonnng blocks and the up/down-town blocks are shorter. It was a beautiful day, I had a lot of time, and I was in a lovely part of the city. As much as I love the theater district it is not quite as pretty as the upper east side.

Sign says it all

I don’t mind looking like a tourist. I AM a tourist really – I don’t live there. Even though I’m fairly adept at getting about and knowing some city ‘tricks’, I’m still only a visitor. That’s why I’m not embarrassed to stop in the middle of the street and point my camera up at rooftop gardens. 🙂

Inside Central Park just south of 71st

I’m not embarrassed to stop in the middle of the street and appreciate a row house with ivy creeping up the side and plants filling the sunny windows. I can relate to whoever it is that lives there.

Inside Central Park, looking south

I got up to 5th Avenue & 71st, just shy of the entrance on 72nd. I strolled there and talked to some native New Yorkers (he lived on 8th Avenue on the west side) and discussed my plan for driving out of the city – best crosstown approach, 9th or 11th to head downtown. 🙂 I LOVE talking directions and maps and alternate routes. Yes, I know I’m weird. Sometime I’ll tell you about the time my sister, father and I discussed in EXQUISITE detail, for over 20 minutes, the best route home from Boston to NJ, while our respective spouses slept on behind us. 🙂 We are a strange family indeed.

view of 5th avenue from inside Central Park

Central Park is beautiful. What an absolutely brilliant concept. As it was a lovely day in May, and there were apparently MANY graduations happening as well, the park was filled with people enjoying the space. Dog walkers, exercise groups, parties, play groups, strollers – we were all there, smiling, strolling, nodding at each other. You should see me as I’m typing this – I’m smiling ear-to-ear and recalling how good it felt to be there.

looking south to 59th from inside Central Park

I walked through the park and emerged around 65th street, where I had a great view of Temple Emanu-El. I first saw/learned about Emanu-El when I was in grade school and our religious class took a trip there. As I walked down the center aisle I told myself I was going to get married there – it was GORGEOUS. Emanu-El used to be considered (and maybe still it – I’m not that up on these things anymore) the “flagship” of Reform Judaism. I actually DID get married in Temple Emanu-El – but the one in central NJ, not NYC. *grin*

Temple Emanu-El

I went back into the park at 64th street to continue walking in the Park. That entrance takes you to the Central Park Zoo. I don’t remember the last time I was actually IN the zoo – must have been decades ago. I know that about 15 years ago I took a friend into NYC and we ate at the cafe there.

Entrance to Central Park Zoo

It was on that stretch of the park that I encountered the line for the Central Park horse-drawn carriages. My cousin and I took one of those decades ago. 🙂 The horses and carriages are so beautiful.

I know there are people who object to the carriages but every horse I’ve ever seen has looked well-fed and well-cared for and appreciated. Another moment where I smile just to see them.

When you come out of the park at 59th street you are looking at The Plaza hotel. I think I might have once walked into the lobby there but I’ve still never lunched or had tea at the Plaza. If I had a bucket list that would be on it. 🙂

The Plaza

There’s a statue of William Tecumseh Sherman and Victory on the plaza in front of the hotel. Yeah, that same ‘scorched-earth” General Sherman from the Civil War. I like the horse and I’m a total pushover for glitzy golden sparkly things.

Victory & William Tecumseh Sherman

By that point it was time to head back to HSS. I headed east on 57th but I did turn and turn and turn to make my way to 71st and FDR drive. I was on 63rd when I walked past a subway entrance. You may have seen photos of NYC subways, telling you that they are filthy, unsafe, crowded and a horrible experience. That is only one piece of the story. There are also attempts to make it a GOOD experience. I saw the tile work in this entrance and had to play tourist again. A kind gentleman waited for me so he would not photo-bomb my picture. 🙂

I found myself on 66th and 1st looking at a fascinating church. I couldn’t get a good picture of it – there was a moving van in the way, traffic. I got a closeup of the relief at the top (Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel – thanks to my sister for identifying it and explaining it to me – she is SO USEFUL!). There was a cafe along the sidewalk on 66th. If I could only get in that area I could shoot between the 2 trucks blocking my view. I confess that I asked the woman sitting at a table if she would allow me to stand next to her to take a photo. I apologized for being so touristy and annoying but she was very gracious. She smiled and said of course take a picture!

Church of St. John Nepomucene

The church is the Church of St. John Nepomucene, on 66th and 1st. I found a very interesting blog post when I was trying to identify the church: “Daytonian in Manhattan, The stories behind the buildings, statues and other points of interest that make Manhattan fascinating”. The author had a post on the history of this congregation and the church itself. I’d have liked a bit more about Ezekiel’s wheel but thank you to image-search for getting me this far. 🙂 My sister told me that there is a very large school of thought that believes that Ezekiel’s vision was Ezekiel seeing an alien spaceship.

Ezekiel’s wheel

After that I stopped to fulfill my promise to my sister & brother-in-law: chocolate candy bar for her and hot pretzels for him. 🙂 It’s not a trip to NYC if you don’t eat a hot pretzel!

that’s a good sunny day walk. 🙂

Groundhog Day

Some mornings it’s bunnies in the yard, some mornings it’s groundhogs. I watched this one for several minutes. It was munching its way across the lawn and back again. I don’t know what it was munching – it all looks like grass and maybe clover to me. It was having a very enjoyable breakfast until a car came by. Then it moved like lightening. 🙂

Hey – it’s more than welcome to munch whatever it wants on the lawn. I don’t pull weeds. I’m moving more violets there. If I can figure out what tasted so good this morning I’ll put more of that as well. Because as long as it’s eating my lawn, it’s ignoring all the plants behind the netting and in the planters. 🙂 Bon apetit!

Views of the East River

Looking north up the East River from East 71st street, FDR drive on the left, Roosevelt Island on the right

We were at the Hospital for Special Surgery the other day (not for me – I was the limo driver). We were sent from one appointment and waiting area to another. As we moved to the 3rd location my sister, who was first through the doors, called “Oh AHUVA!!! BLOG material!!!” *grin* She’s so well trained! We were on the 3rd floor of one of the HSS buildings. This waiting room was long and narrow, but with windows running the whole length of the room and one end of it as well.

East River looking South to the 59th Street Bridge (Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge), Roosevelt Island to the eat

HSS is situated between FDR drive and York Avenue on the upper east side of Manhattan. The last time I spent any time in upper east Manhattan was over 3 decades ago when I was pregnant with my son and “incarcerated” in New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center. That has been renamed and is part of the same huge medical complex with HSS. I ultimately got a bed with an East River view (I was there for 2 months) but it wasn’t as spectacular a view as this.

Pigeon enjoying the sun and the view. It wasn’t moving and for a moment I was terrified it was dead. *grin*

I knew we were going to be at the hospital for hours, and that I would probably go out exploring at some point, so I had brought my camera besides my phone. This waiting area was a perfect opportunity to practice some more with my camera.

Pigeon got up and moved so that I could see it was Okay. 🙂

Although the human eye adjusts wonderfully despite tinted windows, reflections in windows, sun glare, the camera, or at least MY camera when *I* am operating it, is not as good. I tried, but I’m going to have to get better.

apologies but no way to get outside to avoid the guard rail

I love looking at water and boats on the water. There is a lot of activity on the East River. Such an original name, right? It’s on the east side of Manhattan, between Manhattan and Queens. The land you see is Roosevelt Island (which is a much nicer name than some appellations it had in the past). The Queensboro bridge crosses Roosevelt Island on its way from Manhattan to Queens. There is a story about that bridge, and our family excursions to HSS, but I’m not strong enough to blog that. *grin*

Driving Into NYC

photo is a link to CBS news report after a search on “Lincoln Tunnel Helix images”. It’s a still from a CBS video which shows the moving traffic

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to drive into New York City? I’m not talking about riding the bus, because someone else drives the bus. I’m talking about the rite of passage of driving The Helix (Rt 495 from the NJ Turnpike to the Lincoln Tunnel) and emerging in mid-town Manhattan on Dyer Avenue.

NYC skyline and a bit of the Hudson River as seen from the Helix

The very first time I drove in NYC I was in college. That means that I’d only been a driver for perhaps 3 years or so. My mother, who was an actress, got food poisoning after a rehearsal in the city. She couldn’t take the bus home. I needed to go get her. At night. I called her best friend, Cathy, and Cathy rode with me into mid-town Manhattan. Cathy served as moral support and navigator.

NYC skyline from the Helix, approximately 7am, May 24,2023 – through the car window

As intimidating as that trip was, it was decades ago. The roads got worse, the traffic got heavier, and people seem to have a lot more road rage. Not to mention the aggressive window-washers who accosted you as you were stuck on Dyer Avenue. Driving in NYC got a lot worse after my initial foray. A few mayors ago laws were passed to prohibit the incessant horn-blowing and “blocking the box” (sitting in the intersection because you didn’t clear it while you had the light). I think that since the very bad traffic perhaps 10, 20 years ago, the driving has gotten much better and the window washers are gone.

this billboard has been here for decades. always kept up-to-date. 🙂 you are looking south – Hudson River and NYC to your left, about to loop to the right to the tunnel entrance

If we’re going to the theater or some other event/excursion we often take the train. Now that we are Senior Citizens that senior discount is FANTASTIC. No WAY can you drive & park for less than 2 or 3 train tickets. 🙂

the cliffs along the helix, homes with fantastic views of the river and NYC. I assume they are high enough to avoid the noise and pollution. at this point we’re making the turn to head to the tunnel entrance

Sometimes, however, it is necessary to drive in. My brother-in-law needed to get to the upper east side of Manhattan for an appointment with several surgeons. He cannot drive. My sister, who could drive, wanted to be focused on her husband, not traffic. Driving in NYC is not something she enjoys at the best of times. I offered to be the limo driver.

and here we go….

Unlike Honour and my husband, my sister cooperates when she is a passenger. *grin* I told her to take pictures of NYC from the Helix. She went above and beyond, taking photos of what it actually looks like to get down the Helix and merge 7 lanes into 4 tunnel lanes, including the bus lane. There are 3 tubes, 2 lanes each. But 2 lanes are needed for traffic heading out of NY. In the afternoon the tubes switchover to provide more lanes for outbound traffic.

surprisingly little traffic this morning – it was about 7:00 am and I expected a lot more rush-hour traffic

As you might expect, while most people understand the rules of merging and patience, and understand ultimately we will all get through the tunnel and into NYC, there are always a few who are more important and in more of a hurry than anyone else.

yeah, yeah, we all need to just get along and merge

I actually LIKE driving in to NYC. Some people like playing video games. I like the real-life challenge of driving in rush hour, jam-packed traffic, with crazy people who are akin to video dangers and booby traps 🙂

don’t forget to remove your sunglasses

Yes, it is exhausting. But to drive into the city means you need the adrenaline flowing, your senses heightened AND your patience running at 110%. Fully charged but calm. Hey, it’s a crazy way to commute but someone’s gotta do it. 🙂

you do this for 1.5 miles. wondering how far the river IS above the tunnel ceiling

The Great Lettuce Experiment Continues

The lettuce kept growing in the bowl of water. I don’t know why but every time I looked at it I was enchanted. It seemed so magical. It had never occurred to me to take the base and regrow from it. I’d been turning the lettuce cores into compost. 🙂 Also a very fine use. I understand I can do this with leeks and celery as well. My next experiment!!!

We all decided, however, that sooner or later the lettuce was going to need additional nutrients. That meant either adding nutrients to the water or planting them. I opted for planting. This morning I took them outside, prepared two pots, and got them into the soil. This morning also revealed that I’d lost a skirmish in the great Deer Wars. Someone figured out how to remove the netting I’d place loosely over the echinacea along the driveway. It was chomped.

I got out the bamboo poles and the netting and fenced in that area. I figured that I’d better protect the lettuce as well. I needed to not only net them but raise them up to protect them from ground ‘critters’. I took two of my plant stands from my porch (used in the past for raising up palm trees) and put them in the ground, with the pots on top. Then I added netting. I have the aromatic herbs in front of that, and they seemed to have protected the echinacea that’s in that bed, but I decided to stretch the netting over the echinacea as well.

echinacea got munched on the left. one budding flower remained on the right

I may have lost a skirmish last night, but I believe I’m winning the war. My neighbor across the street told me she watched a deer yesterday come around the side of the house. It walked along the front netting. Then it walked through the gap between the pots and the front netting and down the driveway. Which is where and when it undoubtedly munched the echinacea. But the very fact that my hibiscus and other yummies were untouched is proof that my strategy is effective!

you can see the netting at the top of the poles – it gets lost with the plants as a backdrop

Trimmed But Undaunted

The rhododendron survived the construction of a window on the 2nd floor, and the installation of central air condenser unit. As I look at this photo I realize I need to hire a painter to match the trim on the new window to the old windows. Homeowners’ Motto: It’s Always Something. But I’m thrilled to see the rhododendron looking so happy. Lots of happy irises as well.

Sunrise Over New Jersey

Sandy Hook and Raritan Bay

I was visiting my son out in Tempe, AZ back in February. I took the red-eye home as is my custom. I planned my seat properly this time to have the ocean view as we approached Newark Liberty Airport. You know from reading this blog in the past that Sandy Hook, Raritan Bay, the ocean, all have a special place in my heart. While I’m not a great photographer nor do I have the best camera, I hope you’ll enjoy these images of the places that make my heart swell with joy.

You Missed Some Parties

we all sits & fits

Okay, YOU didn’t miss them. I was very remiss in posting anything the first quarter of this year. Truth be told I was worn out, unhappy, and finding it difficult to think up positive things to post. I was putting all my effort into trying to be positive in my day-to-day dealings – writing was a step too far.

ready for setup. isn’t that floor gorgeous? 20 years or so and still looking so good. ignore the shade. 🙂

One of the activities that usually cheers me is entertaining. Now that most people are vaccinated and feeling a tad more confident about other people being considerate with regard to spreading germs, I felt comfortable throwing my traditional Super Bowl party.

don’t need to miss a minute

48 hours pre-party I was expecting 34 people – quite an unexpected positive reply. 24 hours before I’d lost 2 people who’d become new grandparents. 8 hours before I’d lost 5 people to illness and positive covid tests. By party’s end we’d had 24 folks eating, laughing and celebrating – only lost 3 to general rudeness of saying they’d come and never showing up or sending word.

hadn’t yet removed the chair covers because it was misting just before party time

I had the deck set up for anyone who might feel overcome by so many people in an enclosed space – all the propane heaters going, the drinks were outside and the umbrellas were open to keep the hot air down. We had covid tests on the front porch as a gentle reminder to anyone who had NOT considered it before coming. *laughing* 4 people emailed me their clean covid test results before the party. Now THAT is consideration. *grin* Also totally unnecessary – I trust you.

looks so much better than during the renovation, right???? no plastic to be seen!

So that was February. March was a misery. The last month of work as daily I detached more and more work threads from myself, attaching them to others. I was bored out of my mind, quite honestly. It’s exhausting to sit at a computer (hah – first I wrote “terminal” but realized how totally dated THAT term is) doing nothing but unable to leave in case someone has a question. Ugh. There was a Jewish holiday in March – Purim. One year I remember everyone on my social media feed was going crazy making various specialty hamentaschen. This year I thought that maybe indulging in baking would cheer me up. I made sugar-free chocolate tahini ones, dipping some in melted SF chocolate, and mojito ones. Darn those mojitos are good. 🙂

not a Superbowl party without the boxes

My last day was March 31, my son was arriving April 1 and the first Passover seder was April 5. We do first night at my sister’s and 2nd night at my house. My sister and her husband had just moved so it would be the first family dinner in the new house. We were expecting 14 at our house – we’d lost one whole clan because of 2 new grandchildren (see above *grin*). That’s a small crowd for us. We weren’t expecting any Zoom attendees this year for the first time in many, many years.

tahini hamantaschen plain and dipped in chocolate, mojito hamanataschen

We woke up April 5 to the news that we’d lost the southern contingent – my niece had tested positive for covid. Besides being EXTREMELY disappointed that they would not be attending, I had 2 major concerns. My nephew-in-law was bringing some of my liquor for my plague cocktails. And my niece had been out in Arizona the week before on business and she and my son had dinner together. All we needed – NOT – was for him to be positive as well. Thankfully that did not happen. We managed the liquor issue as well. 🙂 Another very typical Ahuva crisis-hysteria-solution-overkill. *laughing* We had a very lovely dinner inaugurating my sister’s new dining area.

while this is definitely NOT the best picture of any of us, we are happy together, w/ the southern contingent on Zoom

Among the many great joys of having my son is his ability to bake & cook. The baking he gets from me and the cooking from his father and he’s moved beyond our capabilities. 🙂 I turned over all the dessert making to him. All of our desserts were sugar free with something to appeal to everyone. He made the most amazing icebox cake out of matzah, whipping cream and SF bittersweet chocolate. It was so good that we let my brother-in-law keep the remainder from the first night and we came home and my son made another whole cake for the next night. He made a SF flourless chocolate torte, SF macaroons, and our traditional SF tahini chocolate chip cookies. I made the SF ginger snap cookies and the fruit salad. Yes, we did indeed have 6 desserts for 6 people. *laughing*

you very rarely see such a PERFECT breaking of the middle matzah!! a heretofore unknown talent!

We ended up being 10 at my house – the smallest gathering since my first attempts at a seder when it was myself, my parents, my son and husband. 🙂 Size does NOT matter. We had a fantastic time, laughing and celebrating and eating and playing new games (I always try to have something new for us to do). This year’s “game” was a bag full of things found around the house – things that have nothing – on the surface – to do with Passover. Each person in turn had to draw an item from the bag and then explain what that item had to do with the Passover story. I have very talented and creative friends and families – who KNEW how important a curtain cord binder could be????

matzah icebaox cake

While we did have a wonderful time both nights we hope that next year we have back all the families that could not come this year. Although I’m not sure where we will fit everyone – we’re going to need a bigger house and table. Maybe time to do another renovation and expand the first floor??? Not. Happening. 🙂

a small but merry band

Verdict: It’s a Pizza

I was sifting the compost when my husband asked me if he could make flatbread for dinner or if we were still working our way through the weekend leftovers. *grin* Either way I wasn’t going to cook, right? I told him flatbread sounded fine to me if he wanted to make one. Then I resumed checking the compost and mixing it with some potting soil and perilite. I used that to plant the anise hyssop that got delivered today, as well as 4 canna lilies, and a bunch of my seedlings – cosmos, zinnias, tithonia and sunflowers. Since I saw a rabbit this morning checking out the zinnia bed, I netted that as well. In other words, I was working up an appetite. 🙂 He calls it “flatbread” when he tells me he’s cooking, but when he gives me the 10 minute warning and the final “it’s ready for eating” he calls it pizza. It looks like a pizza to me! I’m not big on tomato sauce so he spoils me with green sauces. Tonight’s masterpiece finished up the brussels sprouts, pureed with some celery and seasonings. That gets layered on the bread, then the tomatoes, the the mushrooms and onions (which were tossed with the green sauce) and then muenster cheese on top. It is SO GOOD!!!!! I refrained from stuffing my face beyond my hunger level so that I could have left-overs tomorrow. Yum yum yum!!!