Archive for the 'RL happenings' Category

The Current Version of the Yearly Tradition

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Saks 5th Avenue holiday light show

I love New York. Of course by that I mean NYC, and mostly Manhattan. I’m not sure how fond I am of Staten Island. The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn all have stellar qualities but it’s Manhattan that makes my pulse race, my breath quicken. And not from fear, oh you nay sayers you. I love the excitement, the thrill, the sights, the energy. I love it best at holiday time because of the extra dollop of excitement. I have been there in the blazing hot, humid days of summer when the garbage wasn’t being collected and while there is still some energy then, holiday time is better. Even if it’s bitter cold.

My family has a tradition of heading into the city sometime between Thanksgiving and New Years. I think it started even before my son went off to college, but it certainly solidified in those years. We’d head in to the city, see a show, check out the tree and plaza at Rockefeller Center, watch the Saks holiday light show, and have a great steak dinner. Yes, it is always dinner at a great steak house. This year we needed to head in during the Thanksgiving weekend because that is when my son was home. To my great disappointment it turned out that Rockefeller tree would not be lit until AFTER he returned. We went in last T-day weekend as well and the tree was definitely already lit. I have the photos to prove it. Ah well, at least the Saks light show would be running.

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James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5

I couldn’t find any matinee that appealed to me. I wanted to do something different this year, still tradition but with a little twist. The gentlemen agreed that a museum would be okay so I set my husband to the task of finding an interesting exhibit. He knocked this one out of the park. We went to Spyscape – an espionage experiential exhibit. It was GREAT! I had no idea what to expect. I will say that you should buy tickets online because there is a surcharge for buying them at the desk. 🙂 You are given a gold bracelet with your own identifying disk. You use your disk to sign in to the various experiences. At the end you get a report on how well you did in all the various skills tests and a ‘placement’ of the role you might play in the spy world. I was sure I’d end up being told I’d be in the home office filing papers, but I did well enough to be an Intelligence Operative: The heart of an intelligence service, involved in an array of operations, from servicing dead drops to setting up safe houses. Who’d have thought it, right? I guess Operatives like to plan and make lists. 🙂 Many of the questions are of a “what would you do?” and “what do you believe?” nature. They assess you on those questions by the answers that scored furthest from the average. This is a bit circular, I think, because their assessment of me is my assessment of me: Team Player, Determined, Empathetic. *smile* I have to say that taking the pattern recognition and logistics questions stressed me out A LOT. I was great at encryption and deception. More risky than I expected. And TERRIBLE at brain power. The test that I thought would be the worst and most stressful was the Special Ops test. That is the one where you are in a room full of laser beams and buttons. You must hit as many buttons as possible without breaking the beams. It helps to be both tall and limber for that exercise. I could not reach the top row of buttons at all but I squatted down and made it under almost every beam, slamming buttons as I went. It was incredibly exhilarating. I understood why so many of the younger visitors were doing that test again and again. 🙂 Overall I still think I’d be a terrible spy and should be home filing papers.

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Blueprints

We also did the special James Bond exhibit – about the making of the latest Daniel Craig James Bond film, Skyfall. My husband insists that the “best” James Bond was George Lazenby’s Bond. He is incredibly disdainful of all other Bonds, although he admits that Sean Connery’s Bond was adequate. *rolls eyes* The Skyfall exhibit was very interesting. I LOVED seeing the car, and all the detailed plans for how they actually built the car so that all of Q’s special gimmicks worked. There are 3 short videos where they explain how they filmed the final climactic scene – from finding the location to building the necessary items to merging 1:3 scale models with the live action. You mean it didn’t all happen live once?

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Champagne bucket was in the later models

Skyscape is definitely worth a visit, although I’m not sure it’s a good match for very young children. The ability to read is a must. Many of the exhibits are texts with photos, telling spy stories. I can also recommend Mastro’s for dinner. My son and I have been dining at Mastro’s in Phoenix my last two visits and have loved it there. When we saw there was one in NYC we decided that would be this year’s steak dinner location. It was wonderful. The food and service are fantastic and we had great leftovers to bring home. Our waiter was a history buff and we had great discussions when he was at the table. 🙂 Our complaints were about the lighting and noise. I’m not sure why restaurants have decided that people want to eat in darkness. Maybe this is an east coast ‘thing’ because I don’t recall this issue in Phoenix. We needed flashlights to view the menus. We weren’t the only ones doing that as I noticed people at nearby tables doing the same. The noise level was also higher than is pleasant. I understand the allure of live music, and piping music all over, but most people are dining out to DINE and CHAT, not listen to music. My opinion is that the background music is always too loud, causing people to talk loudly, and by the end of the meal you are exhausted because you have been yelling to have a simple conversation. (It’s not just Mastro’s – we encounter this at so many restaurants.) I soothed my throat with a yummy profiterole. 🙂

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Saks 5th Avenue before the show

Rockefeller Center is not as grand when the tree is dark, but the Saks light show is still a wonder, no matter how many times you see it. I include a video for those of you who may not make it into the city this year.

Ahhhh! Morning treasures

buttermilk biscuits and coffee

Buttermilk biscuits hot from the oven and fresh-brewed coffee. Working from home. Day before a holiday and most of my coworkers are NOT working, which means a very quiet day for me. 🙂 My cats and my ‘guys’ are here, too. A morning full of treasures.

A Moment of Harmony

GC and BC enjoy a moment of harmony

GC and BC enjoy a moment of harmony

Life has been hectic-busy lately. I took off for another vacation in Arizona to visit my son and celebrate Rosh Hashanah. When I got back, work exploded. *grin* That’s always a fun thing because I love being busy and challenged. It does mean, however, that there isn’t much time to curate vacation photos or write posts. My husband took care of the kitties while I was gone but now they are all over me all the time. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Here you see a moment of harmony. Don’t let it fool you – they are waiting for me to go back and sit down so they can stake out their claim on my lap.

Wrong Season for This

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Not fair, not fair, not fair. Picture me throwing myself on the ground, having a major temper tantrum, arms and legs pounding the earth. I have a head cold. I mean, REALLY, who gets a head cold NOW???? I woke up Saturday with a scratchy sore throat. I thought it might have been from having dinner out the night before. Although the restaurant was lovely, they had music playing, which means everyone talking ups the volume, and ups it again and again because of everyone else upping the volume. But it didn’t go away. I felt poorly all day and ended up taking a nap. I woke up Sunday still congested and thought well maybe it’s allergies. Season is changing, maybe there is some pollen out there. I didn’t let it stop me from the important things like running errands and going to the block party. Monday – still congested and headache-y but I waged another foray in the Battle for a Beautiful Basement. I figured it was allergies (and dust in the basement) but when I went to the office on Tuesday, it would be banished by the closed ventilation system.

No such luck. 😦 I have a cold. I spent the entire day in the office blowing my nose and drinking gallons and gallons of hot and cold liquid. 😦 I couldn’t go visit my other mother as planned because I am obviously laden with germs. I did my coworkers a favor and am working from home today. I have my cold water with OJ to one side, my tissue box to the other, and an ever-growing mound of dirty tissues that I toss whenever I get up. It’s NOT FAIR!!!!! Itchy eyes, snuffles, post-nasal drip, and such a headache. Sigh. Do you think this means I might be spared a cold in the winter? Oh make it so.

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Some of us are feeling fine and having a good day.

If I’m In, I Want Out

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In the musical ‘Cats’, there is a song about the Rum Tum Tugger. The song is take from T. S. Elliot’s book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (as are most of the songs in the musical).

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:[1]
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he’d rather chase a mouse.

It has been another hot and humid week – real feels in the upper 90s. If you are not in air-conditioning, the humidity saps your energy. I worked from home earlier this week and nearly had to set up an IV for myself to drip iced coffee. Last night the rains came through and broke the heat wave. I woke this morning to temperatures in the 60s.  Ahhhh.

I’m working from home today. For the first time in forever (or so it seems) I am wearing jeans, not shorts. I brewed myself HOT coffee. (Although I really do like iced coffee in the hot weather, hot coffee far surpasses it for that first “make the world bearable” sip. 🙂

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Second cup. The one that is the luxurious savoring, as opposed to Wake Me Up

As I brewed a second cup for myself, I thought about how wonderfully cool and pleasant it was. I thought that despite loving the heat, there is nothing as refreshing as when the weather changes and you get those cool fall days. How good it feels not to be HOT! I took a look at the thermometer and saw that it had still not reached 70 (sorry for the poor angle on the thermometer, but it was that or glare).

As I looked at that 66 degree temperature, appreciating it, I thought – if this was the winter I’d be FREEZING at this point. 🙂  I push the thermostat up to 72-74 in the winter. If this was the fall or spring I’d be running my gas log fireplace to take the damp chill out of the air. *grin*

If it’s hot, I want cold. If it’s cold, I want hot. I’m a curious cat.

BC in my lap while I work

I’m a Comfortable Cat. I get to stay in her lap when it’s not too hot. Purr

Dinner Down the Shore

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I think it must have been the fried clams at the county fair. In the middle of the week my husband suggested that we go down the shore for dinner on Saturday – he had a craving for fried seafood. “Down the shore” – that’s a Jersey thing. You go down the shore so you can go to the beach. I have still not made it to the beach this summer but I’ve been down the shore for dinner twice. 🙂 I am a Jersey girl through and through. We’re the best. Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen know that. *grin*
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There are many places we like to go for dinner, but one of the most fun, most convenient and ultimately least expensive is Moby’s Lobster Deck. It’s owned and run by the same folks who run Bahr’s Landing restaurant (which has been there for over 100 years). We learned about Moby’s from friends of ours when our son was still in single-digits. As you can see from the pictures, it’s not much to look at. It really is a seafood shack. You go to the window and place your order and get a number. Then you go up on the deck and hangout and wait for your number to be called. I seem to remember that when we first started coming the picnic tables were covered with red and white checked plastic tablecloths, but I may have added that memory on my own. What I do know is a factual memory is that my son snitched a piece of fried food from his dad’s plate without asking. He’ll never do that again, because when he found out WHAT he ate, he was not a happy camper. *grin* I don’t remember it if had tentacles or suction cups, but my son did NOT want to be eating it. Some lessons are best learned first hand, pun intended.
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When we left the house it was hot and sunny. Of course we took the convertible with the top down. It’s the best way to go down the shore. 🙂 (It’s the best way to go most anywhere, as I think I’ve mentioned.) The weather was perfect and traffic was light, despite it being a Saturday. We were doing something a bit different than our usual down the shore trek for dinner. We left around 2:30 pm (we had a stop to make on the way). We figured we get there around 3:30 or so and have an early dinner, before the crowds started coming. I’d not had lunch yet so that timing was going to work for me. We took the local roads, not the highway, which led to an interesting observation by my husband. He noted that in one short stretch of road we’d passed FIVE pizza parlors. 🙂 We immediately began counting pizza parlors the rest of the trip. That led us to the all important question: Are there more Chinese restaurants or pizza parlors? I will tell you that we asked Siri, and she failed utterly. But I think we may have discovered the beginning of a new car travel game.
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We were on the last stretch of road on the way to Highlands. There is one hill you climb, and then start down again to the coast. As we crested the hill I thought I was seeing smoke. My husband said no, that’s fog. Sure enough, as we came down the hill, it was fog. What a sea change from when we left! I have been down to Sandy Hook in the rain and the fog, so it was not a new view for me, but it was a bit uncommon. We do tend to go down the shore in nice weather, not fog. I actually enjoy a bit of fog in the mornings, or late afternoons when we are staying for a week. There is something so soothing and exotic about a touch of fog with the salt air, and the sound of the water. I will tell you that when there is NO fog, you would be seeing the sandy stretch of beach on the other side of the Shrewsbury river.
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You can see by the pictures that we did indeed beat the crowd. We had a lovely dinner listening to the seagulls (wow, those are BIG birds) and the water lapping against the pier. My husband indulged with fried clams and steamers. I had a fried fish sandwich and corn on the cob.
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We had time after dinner to drive a little further to what used to be one of our favorite restaurants. It has changed ownership, name and menu. When I’d checked it out online the menu was not especially appealing – it wasn’t seafood oriented anymore. They still have the tiki bar and live music, but I’m not sure that will be enough to pull us back. There is another restaurant next door, that we have always observed, but never investigated. This time we found a place to park the car (parking is an issue in that area – not many spaces for out-of-towners. We wandered over and discovered that this place had a VERY interesting menu, as well as 3 different seating areas – the outdoor tables with umbrellas, an open-air covered area, and then the inside typical restaurant area. We decided we’d really like to try that restaurant next time. It’s going to take a bit of planning, however, because parking really is an issue down there. Too bad they don’t offer valet parking like our old favorite does. That was, I confess, a big lure for that place. We headed back to the car, and I cruised a few more blocks, scoping out where we might be able to park if/when we return. There did appear to be hope of spaces about 2 blocks away, so it’s certainly a stronger possibility now. *grin* All we need now is to find a time to get back there.
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My New Toy

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Memories of Key West

For several weeks I’d been seeing an advertisement on my FB stream. It was for a photo display device called “Skylight“. It was billed as the perfect Mothers’ Day gift, then as the perfect Fathers’ Day gift, and a graduation gift. You get the idea. One day I clicked through on the ad to see what it might be.

It appears to be the perfect gift for the technologically-impaired relative who doesn’t want to mess with computers, phones or tablets, and/or has poor eye-sight so that viewing photos of loved ones on a phone/tablet is not that clear. The part that caught MY attention, however, was that it holds around 8,000 photos. I have a LOT of photos. I always took a lot and once the phone cameras came into being, my picture taking increased exponentially. I thought why not give it a try, it’s a fairly reasonable price, it sounds easy and if I don’t like it I could give it away. I ordered it just before Fathers’ Day and ended up getting a discount on the price. Apparently so many people had ordered it that if I didn’t mind waiting a few extra days, they’d knock off $15. Sure, why not, right? It was for me. I’m not a father. *grin*

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Memories of Rockefeller Center

As is par for me, I did nothing with it for a few weeks. In the meantime, my niece had a baby. This is the first baby of that generation in our family, although I think she must be the 5th of that generation in my brother-in-law’s family. We all met the new addition and I thought that maybe I should just hand over the Skylight to my b-i-l’s mother (who is as a second mother to me – we’ve been mishpacha since before my sister married her son.)

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One of my favorite photographic subjects

I didn’t hand it over but I did finally set it up. (Okay – I know you’re reading this so I’ll confess – my friend set it up.) It took less than 15 minutes to turn it on, connect it to my wifi, and start sending photos. In a nutshell, the Skylight is meant for someone who is the recipient of other folks sending photos. Perfect for a great-grandma with a new baby where the distant parents are sending regular photo updates. Each device has its own email address, and anyone can email photos to that address, where they appear “magically” on the Skylight as long as it has internet connectivity. There are a few settings (how often does the photo stay up before the next one appears, show them chronologically in the order they arrived or randomly) but basically it’s as simple as someone sends you photos and you look at them.

I LOVE IT.

There is no USB connection. I thought at first I’d just hook up a USB cable and dump all my photos. Nope, you have to email them (again – think of the purpose – distant relatives sending regular updates of family members). This means I need to go through all my photos and attach the designated pictures to the email and send it to the device. I am having so much fun going through the photos, recalling things that I’d forgotten about completely, reliving happy memories. Photos of people and pets who are no longer with me, my son’s school events, family gatherings, excursions, office parties – they are all there and I’m reliving them all. After viewing a few folders of photos I find myself grinning ear to ear – so many happy smiling people! I have to smile back.

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Memory of major snowfall – over 2 ft

I loved it so much that I bought one for my other mother (see above *grin*). My sister set it up for her and now her children and grandchildren and I are all sending her photos from all places and ages. I’ve found so many good ones from the past. Every time I send one to her Skylight, I laugh and smile – it makes me feel so good to send her something that will make her happy. And it DOES make her happy – she loves hers, too. She knew about them because a friend has one. She says the friend no longer watches TV, she watches her Skylight. *laughing* It really is captivating. Last night I encountered a myriad of photos from my former office and coworkers. I started sending them out as well. I found the photos from a Passover seder where one of the guests turned 62. I sent those. IT FEELS SO GOOD to send happy memories to people.

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Memory of Cocoa Beach

I guess you could consider this an advertisement. That isn’t usually my “thing” – pushing products. But this particular ‘toy’ has given me such joy that I’m telling everyone about it. I love sorting through my photos, cropping and cleaning them, and sending them off to the Skylight. It’s sitting on a table in my living room at the moment. I’m not sure it will stay there because I don’t actually spend that much time there. I almost think I might move it into the kitchen where I can watch it.

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Memories of St. Croix USVI

I have no idea how many photos I’ve loaded. I’m actually working my way forward from 2 points in time: 2002 when I apparently began taking digital photos, and 2013, the first year I had on my laptop. I’d archived all the earlier photos onto removable drives. It has taken me several days to make it out of 2005. *grin* 2016 is also proving to need many days of curation. I’m not sure 8000 photos will suffice for me. I may need to get another one. Considering the joy it gives me – it’s well worth the price.

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Enough already – pay attention to ME!


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