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*

Why Consumers Feel Abused

Subtitled: Would you prefer to save over $1000?

Maybe I’m becoming a grumpy old lady, maybe everyone I know is grumpy. It seems to me that for the last several years we’ve all been feeling that the consumer experience has deteriorated. Automated computerized customer support. More restrictions on every type of purchase, fewer kindnesses and rewards. Not only is all our personal data being mined for corporate benefit, but the user interfaces often leave us feeling like dirt underfoot (okay – that last might be a little harsh, but I think you understand what I’m saying).

My son and I book flights a few times a year between NJ and AZ. We often will check out dates if we think there’s a chance we might be traveling back and forth. I remember many many years ago my friend Chestnut pointed out very strongly that she had better results using a private browsing window instead of her default setup. Probably there are many folks who have told me this over the years but for some reason I associate the information with Chestnut. 🙂 I want to go visit my son at the end of June. I checked flights for non-stop first class for the dates I thought would work for me. The cost was over $2000. Even considering the fact that I do indulge myself, that was simply way too expensive for me to justify. Out of curiosity I tried opening a private browser window to see if the price changed. Oh. Em. Gee. $1000 cheaper. Same flights. Today I went to book the tickets. I logged in to the airline directly, gave all my identifying info, picked my flights. $2297.80. No sort of frequent customer discount, no sort of reward or special recognition. I opened up the private browser window. Same flights: $1254.80. That’s a difference of $1043. WHY???? I know why. Because they “know” that I’m going to fly to PHX anyway. But hey – that stranger? – maybe we can hook THEM! Except of course at $2298 I am NOT going to fly. Maddening. Absolutely maddening.

View From the Plane Window

Taking off from Newark – that’s Red Bull Arena to the right

I love looking out the window of the plane, seeing the tapestry of the earth below. I take photos of the geography and promise myself that I will look it up later and figure out what I was seeing. When I flew to Phoenix in September I took a gazillion pictures AND I took pictures of the plane tracker map as well, so that I might have a clue about where I was when I took the photos. Well, now it’s January and I never did anything with any of those photos. It’s times like this that I really miss my father – he knew everything about geography and maps. I’d have been able to show him the real land and the plane tracker and he’d have been able to tell me the rivers and the mountains. Failing that, however, I give you the photos and the plane map and you can figure it out if you are so inspired! (And then tell me, please!)

Counting the cars on the NJ Turnpike, in the Swamplands of Jersey

Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ

Raritan Bay – Sandy Hook, the Outerbridge crossing

mississippi river
Looks like this must be the Mississippi River

Exactly how I imagine Kansas – flat fields

I took soooo many photos over Colorado – mountains, fields, water

Heading down to Phoenix!

Travel Fragments

IMG_8858We saw this Arizona license plate when we were up at a mall in Scottsdale. It was too wonderful not to share.



IMG_8912I love the road art out west. I’ve seen this in Nevada and it was everywhere around Tempe as well. The highways have rock designs along the embankments. The bridges and walls have decorations. Most of the time we were moving too fast to capture any decent images. I was able to take 2 pictures from my hotel finally.


We drove through what seemed to be a sandstorm on our way to the airport for my flight home. I couldn’t catch the sign that was warning of reduced visibility due to blowing sand, but I think this picture can give you an idea of what it was like.



IMG_8926There were many things to love about Tempe: the variety in cuisine, the friendly people, the acceptance of dogs at restaurants and in stores, the road art, the wide highways and the awareness of all things ecological and green. This shot is from the airport restroom.






IMG_8952One of my all-time favorite views: Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook in the distance (top of the photo).








IMG_8961The sun rising over Port Newark.

Leaving. Not Leaving. Leaving. Not….

Well. This has been an eventful week. The walls are spackled and sanded, and the painter has begun priming the walls and painting the ceiling. My understanding is that he will be done sometime on Saturday. I have no pictures to share, however, as I am not there. I am in Arizona. Lucky and glad to be here, too!

IMG_8791WHY Arizona in July??? Because my son has gotten a new job here in Tempe. He and a friend took a week to drive from Orlando, FL to Tempe. The friend flew out on Wednesday and I flew in to help with house/room hunting. The flying-in process was messed up and annoying but did work out ultimately. I think in the long run I may even have come out ahead.

You may have gotten the impression that at times I decide I neeeeeeeed to be treated as a princess. *grin* Flying is one of those times. I booked 1st class tickets using 2 different airlines so that I would have the most comfortable accommodation AND the most convenient flight times and fly non-stop. Odd as it may sound to you, the convenient fly-to-Phoenix time involved getting up at 4:00 am to get to the airport for the 5+ hour flight. I was just shutting down my applications in preparation for sleep when I received a text message: your AA flight is cancelled.

IMG_8793Of course I stressed out immediately. My husband had already gone to bed because he, too had to get up at 4 to take me to the airport. Immediately after the text about the cancelled flight I got a text that I had been re-booked to leave 6.5 hours later, from a different (inconvenient) airport with a stop in St. Louis. There was no way that would work for me. I knew that UA, which I was using to fly home, left EWR 45 minutes earlier than AA. I called UA to see if they could modify my flight to include flying to Phoenix. They were happy to sell me a 1st class ticket for only $1500. Ummm, no. She recommended I call AA and see if they could put me on the UA flight.

I called AA. I chatted with a pleasant man named Michael. As we talked, about changing my flight to UA (where he claimed he saw no seats despite the fact that *I* could see that 1st class seat still) he told me my flight was reinstated. I was again leaving on my AA non-stop flight to Phoenix at 6:45 am. I didn’t get any text message about this, nor did I get an email. He assured me that I was indeed on that flight, but my boarding pass was not good anymore – I’d need a new one. What that SOB failed to mention was that while I was reinstated on the flight, all my seat information had been wiped. Poorly played, American Airlines, poorly played.

IMG_8827When I got to the airport, and printed my boarding pass, it said I had no seat assignment. Please keep in mind I’d paid over $300 extra to be in 1st class. I hate to sound money-oriented or cheap but that is a significant expenditure. I’m going to summarize here but keep in mind I had to live this for over an hour, with many, many, many other unhappy people.

When I got to the boarding gate, and went for my seat, they offered me a middle seat all the way in the back of coach. I said no way, I paid over $600 for 1st class, where the heck is my seat?? They explained that when the flight was cancelled, all that information was lost. I said that nice Michael had assured me I was okay. They said well maybe he’d fixed everything but they claimed that the flight had been cancelled and reinstated several times overnight. In the end, the 6:45 am flight was ON, BUT the 10:15 am flight was cancelled, and all of THOSE people were also on the 6:45 flight now, and 1st class was full. I said there is no way this is acceptable. They would not refund the price differential. They offered me $200 voucher as compensation BUT because the flight was now oversold, they’d offer me $500 voucher to not fly. I said are you out of your minds? Either put me in first class or refund the entire differential. They said – how about a $1000 voucher to give up your seat and we will put you on a non-stop leaving at 9:00 am?

IMG_8806My son will now live in Tempe, AZ. There will now be family traffic between EWR and PHX. As long as I bought the ticket for my son (in his name), I could use my voucher for it. $1000 would buy either a lot of trips for him in coach, or a round-trip for me in 1st (he’s not a princess *grin*). I did not have to be in Phoenix at a specific time. Although they did not have a 1st class seat for me on the 9 am flight, I decided that this was actually a good deal and I accepted it. I watched as that plane was crammed full, out of overhead bin space, every seat taken. I accepted my new boarding pass and my voucher, thinking I was well off that plane. I texted my son and gave him the new flight information and wandered off to find some coffee and breakfast.

While I was eating breakfast and relaxing, I got a text message. The 6:45 am flight (which I was no longer on, remember) was not leaving at 6:45 am but now leaving at 7:45 am. I thought – those poor people, stuck on that plane. A little later I got another text. The 6:45 flight was now leaving at 9 am. Omg, I thought, are they STILL stuck on that plane??? I was quite relieved to be sipping coffee in the restaurant with lots of room to either side of me.

IMG_8829After breakfast I wandered back to the boarding gate where I saw scores of familiar looking people, and bins filled with water and juice bottles. Yes, it was the 6:45 am flight. I began chatting with some of them and it turned out that the pilot had never made it to the airport – they were waiting for a new crew. The night before we’d had torrential rain in NJ. Apparently the pilot was on Rt 80 on his way to the airport when they closed down that interstate due to flooding. He couldn’t move forward, he couldn’t get off, he couldn’t get to the airport.

Again I laughed to myself and thought I’m so glad I’m NOT on this flight. They loaded up the plane again and as I sat there, waiting to see the plane leave, I heard the attendants paging “Passenger Heliosense, Passenger Heliosense, please come to the desk”. Heliosense is fairly common name around these parts but I went up to the desk and said, am I the Heliosense you are paging? They said: Ahuva? I said yes. They said, we can put you on this plane. It was the same young man I’d talked to before. IMG_8835I said I am NOT getting in the back of coach in a middle seat. They assured me that I was in a window seat, the first row behind 1st class, and I would keep my $1000 voucher and my carryon could be stored in an overhead bin. This was again a decent offer so I accepted and texted my son again with changed information.

The attendant walked me down to the plane and led me on. My overhead bag was placed in a bin in 1st class. *grin* My bag knows how to travel. I went to row 7 but….. it was a middle seat. Apparently the couple in the middle and aisle seats had decided that the window person wasn’t coming and he’d moved over. The whole plane was now waiting on me to sit down so I did – in the middle seat. But I performed my own rebellion – I kept my OTHER bag with me, despite not having a seat under which I could store it. It was gray, my pants were gray, I tucked it behind my legs and hoped no one would notice or if they did, they’d ignore it. And that’s how it worked out.

The flight was not bad, I had plenty of room since there was no row ahead of us, the couple both slept, each slumped to the side of their seat AWAY from me. I arrived in PHX around 11:15, only 2 hours later than originally planned.

I went outside to wait for my son to get me and …… OMG. It is HOT here. I love heat, I love sun, I am a sun worshipper (HELIOSENSE – get it????) but oh my. It was 116 degrees F. I have been in the Negev and the Sinai desserts and I do not believe I have EVER felt heat like this. But the sky was clear and there were MOUNTAINS, and I was in PHX AND I have a $1000 voucher to try this again and hope it’s less eventful. 🙂 I’ll leave this story here for now, but I warn you…. the saga continues with the hotel……

(Apologies for the poor photos – many of them were taken from a moving car. Although my son is better than Honour at stopping for photos, sometimes we did have to keep moving.)


It only took 269 days but I managed to “payback” my sister and make her laugh. I confess I am grinning, too. You may recall from my Trans-Canada saga, that on our very first morning out on the open road, Honour and I stopped at Horseshoe Canyon. While we were there, enjoying the scenery and sights, my phone rang. It was my sister, pointing out that we had LEFT THE HIGHWAY!!!!! Did we KNOW we had left the highway??? Were we LOST?? *grin* Oh wow, I do love my sister.

My sister and her husband have taken off cross-country today. Mostly cross-country. They are going to Wisconsin. /me gestures vaguely, pointing somewhere west. You know – out THERE. They are in their RV, with only 1 dog. I do feel I need to point out they travel in luxury, compared to those of us who load up an unfamiliar SUV with 2 unhappy cats and an elderly unhappy dog, a companion we’ve never met F2F before, kitty litter and bags and shoes and set out across the BROAD part of the continent, driving through wild-fires. Just saying.

You may also recall that I installed a nifty app on my phone called Life360, that would enable my family to track me on my travels (in case of lunatic axe murderers). This app also means that *I* can track *them*. We use it all the time. We watch my niece (her daughter) as she comes and goes to visit us. We use it if we are supposed to be meeting up, and we try to find the other. My niece and her husband left this morning for a trip to Japan, and I watched their progress to the airport, to the terminal, and then got the selfie portrait from them before they shut down phones and took off to Japan!!

The Rv headed out this afternoon. While I ate lunch I checked on their progress. They were NOT on the highway!!!! They had crossed the Delaware and were pulled off in a small town in PA, NOT on the itinerary. I could not resist. At least I didn’t CALL. *grin* I texted and said: “YOU ARE OFF THE HIGHWAY!!! Do you KNOW you are off the highway?? Are you LOST???” Oh my, it was sooooo satisfying. 🙂

My sister’s sense of humor is akin to mine – I got back a laughing text, asking if I’d been WAITING for the moment to send this. Of course I’d been waiting – 269 days. 🙂

Everyone has taken off on their travels but they are not ‘away’. I’ve now received text messages about muffins and trail mix left in the car, lack of toilet paper and the non-printed itinerary. They also serve who stay home and wait. (with apologies to John Milton)

Wildfires, Cameras and Random Thoughts

Where to start?

British Columbia is afire. Normally this would be of mild interest to me. Yes, I DO have many friends in Canada, but not many in BC (or at least not in the part of BC that is burning). I see that the smoke from the fires has gotten so bad that it is now in Seattle, WA area. I have a niece- & nephew-in-law in that area as well as grandniece and grandnephews. I believe I have a nephew in that general vicinity as well (not really sure WHERE Michael is *grin*). And of course, Tess. (/me waves hi! to Tess). But that is of little interest to you, I’m sure, as my job here is to entertain and amuse you, not merely list the genealogies as if we were in Genesis 5:3.

I think, if I am at all understanding the transCanada highway (as in I am getting the sense that the Transcanada “highway” is not A highway but a bunch of roads strung together designated as A highway) and understanding our route (also a slowly dawning enlightenment) that we will be driving near the fires in Kamloop. I’m sure that Honour is going to make some comment about oh phew, stop worrying it’s no big deal. But I’m from NJ. We don’t pump our own gas (omg – am I going to have to pump gas on this trip?????), we don’t usually have fires burning semi-out of control for days. Weeks. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying and devastating than watching your home burn. But from a selfish point-of-view – I do wonder what the road will be like (open or closed? driving through smoke? no hotel vacancies?). I’m used to hurricanes (Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and many more) but fire will be new for me. I suspect it is an experience I would prefer not to experience at close range. (Oh wait, did I ever tell you about the time my fiance and I slept through the fire in his house???)

today's wildfires

/me shudders and shakes off the where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire-issue. I bought a new camera today. *grin* What did I tell you about me and vacations? I have a little Casio Exilim from many, many years ago. I love it. But I waited too long to try to get a battery for it. I can only find it on the internet and I can’t get it here before I leave AND I can’t have it shipped to Honour to be waiting for me. (So what IS it with trying to ship things from the US to Canada? This is becoming a real nuisance.) Sure, I could use my phone, and I might. But I like having a camera as well. I bought myself a little Nikon (“I’ve got a Nikon camera, I’d love to take a photograph“). The battery is charging and it appears to be an upgrade of my Casio but very similar. That makes me happy. 🙂

Random thoughts…. I am amazed at how many people feel compelled to tell me what a mistake I am making (and this from people who haven’t even gotten around to suspecting that Honour might be an axe murderer). They say: it’s a mistake to go with someone I’ve never met F2F; they think traveling with animals is the worst thing to do; they could never sit in a car that long; etc. I think you get the idea. Hey – I may even have harboured (please note Canadian spelling) such thoughts myself from moment to moment. But WHY do you feel compelled to express this to me? I’m going. It’s a bit late to change my mind. Do you think this is enjoyable to hear? I do shrug it off. But I think comments like this fall into the category of “Do you ever listen to what comes out of your mouth before you are about to say it?” I had a mere acquaintance start in today. As I was trapped in the chair getting my hair done, I couldn’t really get up and leave. And there were others commenting mindlessly today too. Enough! Honour and I are big girls now. We get it. I fully expect that there will be days when tensions and tempers rise. (Of course, I am perfect so none of that will be because of me or on my part.)

This is The Great Transcontinental Escapade. Or, if you prefer, Ahuva and Honour Do Canada (I wonder if she has the proper shoes?). Come along and share the adventure! Fewer than 48 hours to takeoff!

Vanity is Costly

The moment you say “I’m worth it” you can be sure the level of your bank account will begin sinking, swirling around and down like the blue water in the … well, you know where you find blue water. My father used to tell me that “a boat is a hole in the ocean into which you throw money”. For me – vacations/travel are a boat. If I’m going, I want my creature comforts and I don’t want to deny myself anything. 🙂 For those of you who know me as Ahuva this attitude will come as no surprise. There might be some reading this who know me by my – oh heck. If Ahuva is my alter-ego, what is that other ego??? Anyway, in all my aspects I have decided that yep, I’m WORTH it.

Honour and I will be traveling for at least a week, if not longer. I will have days before and after The Great Transcontinental Escapade (hereafter known as TGTE). There are a lot of creature comforts that I would use in a week. It takes effort to maintain my Ahuva-ness. Unfortunately, the TSA gets very crabby when you try to take an entire suitcase of lotions and potions onboard the aircraft. I’m only taking a carry-on bag because I’m traveling light. *grin* I’m sure my definition of light is not Honour’s definition of light. Jus’ sayin’. By the way – did I mention that I’m flying first class? I’m worth it, you know. 🙂

I solved my lotions and potions issue by shipping a box of shampoo, conditioners, gel, creams etc. to Honour earlier this week. Do you realize how much it costs to ship from the US to Canada???? I was taken aback. Not only did I have to open the box so we could remove the spray bottle, but I had to list every single item in the box. I confess – it was a little embarrassing how many hair products I had in the box. *red face* My box has to go through customs and so everything in it has to be listed on the outside. Soooooo glad I won’t have to see the custom officer’s face as the box is inspected. The tab was roughly $100 to ship approximately $20 worth of product. *grin* On the other hand, I don’t have to carry them (“they’re heavy” she whined) and I don’t have to deal with the TSA. I quite like this solution.

I like this approach so much that I’m utilizing it again today. I went to the AAA yesterday and got maps and a trip tik and the books about hotels and other road information. I picked up 6 maps to cover Canada and Maine and the complementary books and the trip tik – all free. Today I go back to FedEx to ship them rather than carry them on board with me. 🙂 My father -A”h – would be appalled at this approach. (When the toll on the Henry Hudson bridge went from 10 cents to a quarter, he insisted that we go the long way around and take the Moshulu Parkway, which was FREE, rather than pay that outrageous additional fifteen cents.) But hey – I’m WORTH it. And I’m tucking in a few more lotions and potions with the maps.

Don’t tell Honour, but I shipped a trunk of shoes as well. You never know which shoes you might want to be wearing as you travel across country in an SUV with 2 cats, a dog, and an avatar. A woman likes to have choices, you know? And I’m worth it.

money down the drain

Transcontinental Tales

I don’t know why I said it. She kept talking, laying out her plans. When, where, how. I felt the words forming in the back of my head. The words began moving forward, much the way anesthesia starts rolling in and overtaking you when you are having surgery. My mouth opened and I heard myself say “Why don’t I drive with you?” And like that – it was done.

I’ve never had a ‘bucket list’. Travel is good, but not really something I think about much. My idea of paradise is being down the shore, chilling (metaphorically) on the beach, watching and hearing the ocean.  Oh sure, I like to drive. But…….. Drive across CANADA??? I’ve never even driven across the USA. Not only that, but we’ve never met face-to-face. And we’re planning to spend easily a week together in a car with 2 cats and a dog? As my friends and family keep asking: How do you KNOW she’s not an axe murderer???

It’s done. I have to trust that someone who has 2 cats and the cutest little fluffy dog is NOT an axe murderer.  (When would she find the TIME to stalk victims when she must cater to the demands of the four-footed rulers?)

Honour and I are setting out on an adventure. We are driving across Canada because Honour is relocating from British Columbia to a small island off the east coast of North America. That’s a lot of Canada. Did you know that at the moment, as I type, British Columbia is experiencing it’s hottest temperatures ever? And that a good part of BC is burning???  I’ve begun describing our trip as “Fires, Rockies, Plains, Lake, Cities, Ocean”.

The countdown has begun…. 3 1/2 days until I head to the airport and fly west, only to drive east.