Saturday, February 23, 2008


Ya like NAY-cha? I do, I think, although I look at it a lot more than I am actually in it. We really liked it Wednesday night when we watched the lunar eclipse.

This is our friend Jay's photo. He's an amateur astronomer (maybe more than any other science, lots of important recent astronomy discoveries come from amateurs) and it's really fun to look at the skies through his telescope.

This thing started around 8:30 at night and by 10 it was fully eclipsed and a kind of deep red color, reflecting the sun on the other side of the planet. Neat! I was sorry we didn't have a dog or a cat to watch go crazy, although a friend with two dogs said they didn't react at all. She was bummed. When we talked about the eclipse she said, You can understand why they might have gone nuts centuries ago, before they knew what was happening scientifically. To see the moon suddenly darken, and go red! Holy kaboly!

Yesterday we had lotsa snow all day, so I went to work, natch. Dave drove me and I hitched a ride home and it was sloooooow going. We had company -- Dave's cousin Ian and his wonderful wife and son, what a cutie! Thanks for coming, guys, great to have you -- and Dave cooked a wonderful meal of Puerto Rican pork chops, plantanos, and rice and beans, a la Daisy. (Her cookbook is one of the reasons I felt secure moving away from Brooklyn; we really loved eating Puerto Rican and Dominican food in the city and now I can cook it, more or less). Yum!

And I made a crisp with the peaches, blueberries, and raspberries, which we had with vanilla ice cream. I'm in that, we-have-to-eat-up-our-frozen-fruit-before-it's-time-to-pick-more mode.

Anyway, it snowed late into the night, a wonderful soft powder, and we woke with a winter wonderland outside our window. After our guests left we went cross-country skiing. So here's the City Slicker part: We or at least I didn't realize that the weather warming up considerably would mean the snow would be really wet and sticky and skiing would be more like walking on boards than sliding and gliding. Plus, we were skiing on the bike path by the bridge and after we crossed the river, lovely, lots of pigeons, ice floes, pretty sky, we found ourselves skiing alongside route 9 and all the rushing cars. Idyllic -- not.

So, note to self: Go skiing earlier in the day (although we were proud we got out before noon), and do not go to the river part of the path! Go into the woods. Go to a golf course. It's fine to ride your bike alongside route 9 for a mile or two; it goes by quick and soon you are in the woods. But skiing's a lot slower and there I was, trying to motivate Lily the Drama Queen ("I can't go another step! I've fallen and I can't get up! I'm hungry, starving! I have to pee, badly!" and the Oscar goes to...), with the charming highway 20 yards to my right.

Afterwards we went to that fish diner, Webster's? and had lunch. I had a nice piece of fresh haddock and Dave had fish and chips. Not that pricey, either. We don't do that too often. Then we came home and I helped Lily with her report on Abigail Adams.

So, oh well. The more I get outside and into this thing called NAY-cha, the more I am not so intimidated by it. I went snowshoeing a couple of weeks ago and while it was great to be alone in the woods, the strap kept falling off the back and the shoe slipping. I mean, what are you gonna do? I'm a city girl and I want to be outside more, enjoy it, be of it. I don't really know how to do that, isn't that ridiculous, but I like it when I do.

And you know, it really wasn't a big deal to go outside at 10 pm in the dead of February in my jammies and Crocs with just a sweatshirt to look at a glowing red full moon. It was fun, even, something to write home about. Or blog.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's with the name of this blog?

This excerpt in my title is from one of my (and many others') favorite poems, by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. Here's the entire poem, probably her most well-known:

Wild Geese
By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

This poem has comforted me for many years, ever since my friend Karen first quoted the first stanza to me in, oh, 2003. I thought it was a great title for this blog because with this move I have returned home after 18 years in the New York diaspora and it gives me a focus.

Is all that obvious? Probably. But I've been meaning to post the complete poem for ages and here's a reason to do so.

March WT

The latest issue of Wondertime is out this week (did anyone see February? The story on language acquisition was my first feature) and has some great stories. March was a light month for me; I edited half of Growing Up, the magazine within the magazine section in the front of the book.

Amazon is offering $5 subscriptions to Wondertime from now until Feb. 29. That's 10 issues a year -- can't get any cheaper than that. It's a great gift for anyone with young children, and we've expanded our age range to 12, too. So we now go from 0 to 12. Check it out!

Use the code THANKS22.

Full moon driving

Here's a sight I never saw in Brooklyn: Light from the full moon reflecting on the snow and lighting up our bedroom at 1 am. Extraordinary. And gorgeous.

We had terrible rain last Tuesday, torrential, and that morning Dave drove me to work and Lily to a playdate. Her friend was going to come over here, but her mom couldn't get out of her driveway, which wasn't plowed. Then her mom called to say she was hearing that the roads were terrible and everyone should stay home. We were almost there so dropped Lily off, anyway, and thank goodness Dave was driving.

Times like this I feel like a total city girl. We were swimming through lakes in the dips in the road and the displaced water splashed up over our roof. There's a reason everyone who can afford to owns a Subaru here, they have very high suspension. I am a good basic driver, I follow the rules and I'm not afraid of the road (just drunk and/or stupid drivers). But I don't have a lot of experience with driving through monstrous puddles, or their frozen lakes the next day, or blizzards.

When I lived in Cambridge in the early '80s I used to ride my bike to work in Boston until I was hit twice in two weeks, neither time my fault. But I stopped riding anyway because I figured I couldn't afford the learning curve. I rode for little bit in Brooklyn but was very fearful, and then when Lily's trail-a-bike fell off onto Fifth Avenue (which at that moment was empty, thank god, and I was going slow), I stopped taking her. Then when a 27-year-old public interest attorney was killed at the end of my block on her way to work, I quit riding entirely. Again, I can't afford the learning curve.

Here I have to drive, though, so I drive slowly and pay attention to all the street signs. I signal in parking lots, for god's sake. So far, so good. I am going to the gym so I can get into shape enough to ride my bike to work every day once the weather warms up. But a) it's Northampton, where there's lots of bikes, and b) most of my trip is on the bike path.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Midtown Food part 2

I'm being very philosophical these days, hope you faithful readers don't mind. I think soon I'll have to blog about what it's like to work after not working for 8+ years (hint: it helps when you adore your job). April 2 it'll be a year !!!! How's that for fast?! Wake up, the Buddha said! Life is passing you by!

Sent this to a couple of folks from work who were in NYC this past weekend. Feel free to add your own:

When I eat out in NYC, good food trumps hype every time, so this list reflects that, for the most part.

Meskerem -- ETHIOPIAN
68 W. 47th St., New York, NY 10036
at Tenth Ave.

1250 Broadway off E. 32nd near Herald Square -- WORTH THE TRIP !!!! Go upstairs and pig out. Fine with just two but really fun with a big group. It fills up early but turnover is pretty quick.
New York, NY 10001-3701
Phone: (212) 564-6845

Molyvos -- GREEK, more expensive and fancy
871 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019
nr. 55th St.

Uncle Nick's -- GREEK, cheaper
747 9TH Ave
New York, NY 10019-6617
Phone: (212) 245-7992

Lever House -- FANCY -- I had a friend who's husband is the chef but haven't eaten there, actually
390 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022 at 53rd St.

Trattoria dell'Arte -- UPSCALE ITALIAN
900 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019
at 57th St.

150 W. 46th St., New York, NY 10036
nr. Sixth Ave.

Coupla more places: That famous bbq place in the W. 40s, like 43rd or 44th, used to be really good even though it was famous and popular. It's just off Times Square so just walk up the west side of Broadway and look to your right, you can't miss it. Something like Bubba's. [what's the name, David? Dave?]

Another place -- I remember the address but not the name -- has cheap but good Brazilian place at 123 W. 45th (1-2-3-4-5). Sunday nights at SI, when we worked overnight, a bunch of us got takeout from there. It was good. Dave's parents always ate there before the theater.

John's Pizza off Central Park near Lincoln Center is a great place post- Natural History museum visits.

Monday, February 11, 2008

B rooklyn PS

Dave and I had some free time on Saturday morning after dropping Lily at a playdate, so we stopped by our old apartment building to visit Sam and Eva, our friends and neighbors across the hall. Great to see them. They have bought a nice piece of land in the Catskills and are building a house that looks like it'll be wonderful. Yahoo!

While we were talking, Eva kindly went across the hall to see if the guys who bought our apartment were home and if they'd mind if we came in to see how they redid the place. They were and they didn't. We got the grand tour and it just looks awesome. They did the kitchen over and the downstairs bathroom, plus paint and floors. It sure doesn't look like our place--looks a lot like Uncle Josh's apartment, actually--and that was odd to see.

But it was odd that it wasn't more odd. Maybe if I hadn't gotten such a wonderful, demanding job I'd miss Brooklyn more, or long for our old lives back. And while it certainly was poignant to be back in our old place, we happily made our killing and reinvested much of it in this lovely home --which really is a lovely home--it's our home, and we all three of us like it, feel comfortable and at home in it.

I have a lingering sense of a certain poignancy, though. A kind of semi-sweet sadness, not regret at all, but still, a sense of loss, or sorrow, or maybe it's just, astonishment that we are here? Actually here? How long does that last? How long does it take to incorporate this relocation into my body, into my cells? It's more there than not, we're no longer in Bardo, certainly. But I'm still transitioning, this move is still in process in me, at least, and I imagine Lily and Dave, too. This is why I love poetry, there's got to be some good Emily Dickinson or Mary Oliver or someone that describes just this emerging, evolving feeling, whatever it is.

Yesterday the three of us went to the Y, and we put Lily into the free childcare, which she loves, and Dave and I worked out. On our way out we signed up for a racquet ball court for eight this morning. Today we got up, took Lily to the bus, then drove over to the Y and played racquet ball for about 45 minutes. We went home and showered and I got to work a little after nine. It was great! We both used to play squash, although Dave has played some racquet ball, too, and it was a gas just knocking around hitting volleys and yakking in the echoey cavernous room. We're thinking we'll play at least once a week. Life is easier here, it just is.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where to eat in Midtown #1

Some folks from work are in NYC this weekend, staying in Midtown, and wondering where to eat. I wrote up a list but it's at work.So I'll post that later. But I also queried our friend David (see his blog, at right), who ofr course had some great ideas. This is from him, and then his friend Debbie. Thanks, guys!

From David:
I'm not the best person to ask about eating places in my own neighborhood due to my dietary restrictions (I just passed the 10 year gluten-free mark!) so I'm cc-ing some other people about your question concerning restaurants near Times Square for a family of three with a pre-teen daughter--a family that would be interested in the Ethiopian restaurant Meskerem....I do think the Cajun DELTA GRILL (48th and 9th) seems to be pretty solid and reasonably priced.

The sushi in the area tends to be pretty good--there's a chance of seeing cast members at KODAMA (45th and 8th). I've seen "Spring Awakening" people there, but of course that really doesn't mean a lot unless you'd recognize them! A Japanese restaurant that's a bit above average is HAKATA.

For an olde NY coffee shop atmosphere, there's lunch at the CAFE EDISON (jokingly known as the Polish Tea Room), where I used to order the big bowl of matzoh ball soup. Another soup-for-lunch option is chowder at the historic OYSTER BAR, underground at Grand Central Terminal, which is a little farther away than the other restaurants I mention here. For a kind of touristy sandwich experience (not that there's anything wrong with that), the STAGE DELI is just north of Times Square and the CARNEGIE DELI is north of that. Expect huge portions and high prices.

I've been hearing very good things about a bunch of inter-related Thai restaurants around Restaurant Row (say, around the corner of 46th and 9th), named with variations on the word YUM.

And look at the menupage reviews for PAM REAL THAI ENCORE. I do find that menupages can be helpful. Many of the restaurants can get crowded (sometimes during lunch and especially between 6 and 8 on a show night), so it's a good idea to make prior arrangements or at least talk with someone at the restaurant.

Oh--I knew I'd come up with something else if I just spent some time with this. I think the obscure DIAMOND DAIRY RESTAURANT is still doing business in the Diamond District, on 47th Street between 5th and 6th but nearer to 5th. This is also an olde New York experience. Based on my visits from years ago, I recommend it for the often superb blintzes (which are like crepes) and thick crunchy latkes (potato pancakes...which you can get with apple sauce), and the atmosphere, as it's a place where Orthodox Jews go to eat dairy (not meat, except for fish) with a view of a jewelry trading floor. I don't recommend getting jewelry there, though the last time I checked there's an eccentric but very good gun-slinging jewelry repair guy in the basement of the building. I kid you not: it's Joe Rissin. Anyway, the Diamond Dairy Restaurant is a weekday place that closes for Jewish holidays including the Sabbath (late Friday afternoon). You get there by entering the National Jewelry Exchange building at 4 W. 47 St. and then going up the stairs in the back. Check out this
link, and this, too.

From Dave's friend Debbie (thanks, Debbie!)
Very thorough, David. I can't think of much, myself, but I have been, and like, Empanada Mama on 9th and 52nd St. It's very small, with a counter and about 5 or 6 tables, but if you're looking for something quick and like empanadas that would be another option.

Also, maybe, Eatery, on 9th and 53rd. A little designy, a little more expensive, but they've got comfort food (meatloaf, mac 'n' cheese) and more sophisticated dishes that are all pretty satisfying.

I'm back: More soon. This has got me thinking about my other favorite Manhattan restaurants--and anyone else's--and I'll post on that some time soon, too. (NY NoodleTown, anyone? That little Thai place near the Public Theatre? Name, David?)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"When other friendships are up the crick*

Annoucement: Josh Noyes, the son of our friends Nick and Emily, is a film editor in L.A., and his movie, "The Wackness," just won the Audience Award at Sundance! How cool is that. Josh got some good reviews, too.

We were in Brooklyn and Long Island last weekend, trying to figure out how to do this thing called "visiting." How do you visit a place you had lived in for 18-14-8 years and moved from just over a year ago? When we went after Thanksgiving I hadn't been back since March, and I wanted to see everyone and do everything. It was one of those times where everyone was mostly available, too! So we crammed everything into just a couple of days.

This visit wasn't so long past the last one and I felt it wasn't such a novelty; also there was lots going on for everyone. We all have such busy lives! We saw lots of folks, but some had to cancel at the last minute, for very legit reasons, of course (hope the baby got over his 102.8, Helene!). Dave was smart and went to the theater with David -- they saw August: Osage County, which my friend Henry was the assistant director on (go Henry!). Am I jealous? Just a tad. I haven't seen any theater (except the Katharsis production of The Polish Play that Henry directed) since we moved and I miss it.

To facilitate their sitting in darkness for three hours I volunteered to get Lily to various playdates and then go see my friends. Some friends fell through, as I say, and at times I was left with an empty feeling, a feeling of being free and easy in Brooklyn with no homebase (we were staying on Long Island). What I realized, Sunday morning, was that I was missing family time over the weekend and that Lily and I should just grabbed an hour and had our nails done on 5th Avenue (about half the price of the pedi's and mani's around here) and maybe had a cuppa at the Tea Lounge. I came home a bit anxious and family-needy; I had a strong sense of just wanting to spend time with Dave and Lily. Not to mention exhausted. Being away from home is tiring.

Staying on Long Island was mixed. Great to be with Judy, of course, and go to her local pool. Dave and Lily had some good time with her on Friday afternoon, too, I heard, while I took the train into the city to see some friends. (Love that Korean barbeque!). Hard to drive into the city in the morning and drive home at night, however, and in fact we didn't go back in on Sunday morning (sorry, Margaret!), we just went home from Plainview.

My bigger question is, how much does geographic proximity play into a friendship? I think each friend is different. It's funny, I'm finding that if I make a point of seeing my closest Brooklyn friends on most visits, I'll see them more frequently than when I actually lived there. And I find that now that we live here my local friendships have evolved, too. I don't actually see those folks as much as I might have fantasized about when we thought about moving to their 'hood. As a recently relocated family we have more time, simply by virtue of the fact that we don't know as many people and we don't have many established routines yet, although both of those things are changing, of course. (It's been nearly 15 months since we moved! Thanksgiving weekend, 2006.)

Another thing I wonder is, who do you stay in touch with after you leave a place? Who are deep, true friends, and who were mostly acquaintances, people I saw out of convenience or circumstance? Today out of the hundreds I knew in New York (I can attest to that "hundreds" figure, I used to give them all toffee), I am only in regular touch with maybe four or five, although to be fair I can see that that is evolving; just because someone isn't in touch regularly doesn't mean we aren't still friends, and some folks I thought probably were gone are drifting back in.

It's all a process and I trust that even though I only talk to someone every six months--someone I used to talk to, say, weekly--there is still a basis of friendship there, if both of us are willing. The door is always open, at least on this end. Do they expect me to stay in touch? I don't know. I always like it whenever someone makes the effort to stay in touch with me, it's not all coming from me.

As for visiting, is that the true sign of a friend? Naw, for either of us, although it certainly deepens a relationship. Some of my friends have always known this, and gone out of their way to see me, like Margaret, who visited me several times in Cambridge a million years ago. (Did I ever actually live in Cambridge?) I am always a bit surprised when people make the trek here, surprised and thrilled; I have no (maybe I should say "few") expectations (but I'll 'fess up to lots of hopes) and I love love love it when they do. Plus, some people I was pretty sure I'd never see again have been here. That's way cool, too. Makes me really appreciate how important it is to visit my friends who continue to live outside of New York, although we are quite cash-poor so that can't happen too much right now.

*Ours will still be slick! Lahdle-ahdle-ahdle-quack-quack-quack"