Winter Birthday Shenanigans

I’m not sure I can call them shenanigans at this stage in my life since it didn’t involve wackiness or enough alcohol to lead to my stripping naked in public. Not that I’ve ever done that, but you know. Shenanigans.

My birthday celebrations on Friday revolved around two of my favorite things: food and museums (but not museum food, which often leaves a lot to be desired).

I went out the day before and picked up bagels from A&S bagels in Franklin Square, NY, along with plain Philadelphia cream cheese, and Nova Scotia lox. My lovely husband went to get fresh Starbucks decaf coffee for me because I don’t have any at home. He also made our bagels sandwiches for me.

Breakfast - NY Style!

Coffee, even decaf, is a treat for me, so I don’t stock it up. Otherwise, I would drink it. All of it. Every last drop. After breakfast, we hopped the train to NYC and took a subway uptown to W. 83rd Street. From the west side of Central Park, we walked through snow covered hills. I was so excited!

Walking through Central Parking

Walking through Central Parking

The beauty of Central Park in winter with all of nature covered in snow is breathtaking.

Central Park, upper west side, covered in snow

Central Park, upper west side

Erroneously, we headed South for a bit and had to backtrack. Without the help of GPS in my phone, that could have been a lot worse than it was. We didn’t really lose much time. Before long, we were at my favorite museum in NYC: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The El Greco exhibit was running through February 1st, and it was a great excuse to go back. What we noted about his works is that El Greco paid a great deal of attention to a figure’s face, hands, and feet, but other details were not so refined. Here is a snap of one of my faves that was on display:

El Greco painting

El Greco painting

We also saw an exhibit called Death Becomes Her about women’s mourning garb through the 18th and 19th centuries. As you descended down these stairs, classical music could be heard piping up through and up from the exhibit in the basement, giving me chills and causing intense emotions to arise and make me feel like crying.

2015-01-30 11.38.24

Around the perimeter of the room, quotes from women about mourning were being projected onto the walls. This one made me laugh out loud. It disrupted the mood a bit, but I could not help myself – especially the end bit – “or what it is”. I also took a few photos of some of the lovelier mourning gowns.

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Exhibit: Death Becomes Her 2015-01-30 11.44.02 2015-01-30 11.40.33

I could take a thousand pictures of all the wonderful items in the museum that left an impression on me, but I will leave you with these three  – a sculpture by Degas that was even more wonderful to see in person and two works by Tiffany.

Rodin's Girl Statue Tiffany Stained Glass Tiffany Stained Glass

The cool thing about the Degas sculpture is that her blue ribbon was made of satin and the skirt was made of a pleated mesh metallic-type material. The touch of fabric on the metal sculpture gave the girl a sense of life about her, as if she was going to hop off the stand and start dancing. The Tiffany stained glass photo on the right was actually a fountain with running water right behind the plants. A beautiful little oasis.

After The Met, we took the subway downtown to the Union Square area for lunch at ABC Cocina, one of a number of restaurants in NYC by Michelin chef Jean-George Vongerichten. I really wanted to go to ABC Kitchen, a sister restaurant of his that runs directly behind ABC Cocina behind a glass wall. But I could not get a reservation until 2:30pm so I decided to book my birthday lunch for Cocina instead.

Check out the site for pictures to the restaurant. I ❤ the decor, that the kitchen was open and part of the floor plan adjacent to the bar, and the hunky bartender! I ordered a spiced cider toddy that was delightful, scrumptious, and strong.

Spiced cider hot toddy

We ordered gooey ham and cheesy bites (yes, that was actually the description on the menu), sweet potato empanadas, a meat board, and crispy fish tacos. My favorite were the tacos and the ham and cheesy bites. I would go back, but next time I’m hoping to make it to ABC Kitchen, which serves non-GMO, antibiotic free foods.

The next museum we visited was The Rubin Museum of Art, a museum dedicated to Himalayan/Asian art. Two exhibits were of interest: an exhibit of Francesco Clemente, an Italian painter and sculptor, of his paintings and sculpture with Indian influences; and an exhibit called The All-Knowing Buddha, which displayed 54 panels that illustrate how to meditate. Also at this museum was a Tibetan Temple room, replete with ornate decorations, incense, and chanting monks.

Of course, no birthday celebration would be complete without some celebratory dessert. For me, that means ice cream! We were only a few blocks away from the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (Yes, it’s really called that) in Sheridan Square, so that is where we went.

Mark and I ordered two versions of the same ice cream gobbler: mine was pumpkin and his was apple.

Pumpkin Gobbler

But they were both delicious! By the time we were done, we were full and exhausted, so we headed back home to start rewatching the Babylon 5 sci-fi series that was my favorite series at one time.

I had a great day in a great city with a wonderful man eating fantastic food and seeing inspirational artwork. I grinned like a madwoman all day long.

Not that I’m complaining. 😀

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Short and Sweet

I have been battling a coffee addiction for years. As of this weekend, I am off again. I don’t always get headaches when I stop drinking coffee. This time, you would think I am depriving myself of food and water and all human happiness. The headaches are incredible, even with taking medication. 

Lately, I have been dealing with a pain on my left side that is out of control with pain. I could barely sit earlier. I have fibromyalgia, but even for that illness, this is too much. A pain level that usually flows between 2-4 is up to 7 today. I took two aspirin and had relief for two hours, did some yoga, but the pain returned.

I think it might have to do something with crooked seated at my L-shaped desk. The floor on one side of the room tilts into the corner, which throws my already misaligned hips into further misalignment. The result is misery.

Thankfully the pain level has receded down to a 5. For now. I am going to try and get my “morning” pages done. I could leave it, but I just don’t want to break a four-week writing streak, even if it doesn’t happen in the mornings. 

Be well! 

Eating Healthy(er)

Consistently eating well is a chronic challenge for me.

When I am stressed, rushed, and – especially – lazy, I tend to open my fridge and pick out the items I don’t have to prep to eat.

Salad sits in my fridge, wilting. Instead, I go for nuts and fruit. And more fruit. And then again.

A few weeks ago, I started up my coffee habit again. This, combined with my tendency to eat sugar, is a recipe for exhaustion.

In my unscientific opinion, sugar and caffeine provide the body with false means of energy.

Caffeine is a stimulant, much like adrenaline. It wires you up and keeps you going even when your body lacks the nutrients it needs.

Chronic sugar intake exhausts your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, tires out your pancreas, which produces insulin, and increases your intolerance to insulin (a condition often diagnosed as pre-diabetes). Sugar is also reported to be a major factor in cancer, as chronic sugar intake provides the cancer cells with a never ending source of growth energy.

I ate way too much sugar and caffeine yesterday, so much so that is a wonder I have not turned into a pile of sugar. The price I paid was exhaustion, both yesterday and today, from poor food choices and a too-hectic schedule.

I wondered why I have been unable to learn this lesson. When I have shared with my mother my desires to stop eating sugar, she provides a ready excuse: it’s the holidays, your birthday, a Sunday afternoon when it’s sunny, it’s just one cookie.

You would think my mother is built like a house. While she does have weight in her belly, she seems to carry it well. My struggles with energy and eating well have not been her struggles. I seem to be sensitive to sugar, unlike her.

I think I am a sugar junkie. In writing my evening pages today, I decided it might be helpful for me to post inspirational quotes regarding healthy eating in a couple important places.

The first quote I found that I printed, framed, and hung on my Pinspiration board is by Virginia Woolf:

The second quote I found, printed, framed, and put up on my refrigerator is by Hippocrates:

For myself, I find that positive reinforcement works much better as a motivation tool than dire warnings against what happens if I do not eat well.

Slowly but surely, my living area will contain images and photos of quotes, people, and place that remind me that love and loving choices are the way to make my way through any decision, especially ones with such a profound impact on all areas of my life.

Pinspiration Board

pinspiration board

Pinspiration board

In creative wave #6 of yesterday’s post, I described wanting to put up a cork board with pictures of loved ones, inspirational quotes, poetry, and reminders, which I call my Pinspiration Board. I tried to control myself from tacking up paper because I wanted to start with images, but I just couldn’t help myself.

I tacked up a housewarming card from a beloved friend, a card from my dear husband, pictures of three cats (two of whom passed away), my list of life goals for 2014, a lists of Basic Principles and Rules of the Road from Chapters 2 and 3 from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and a sticky memo of ideas. 

My Pinspiration Board replaces a bookshelf that I moved to a wall behind me and a large framed print that I moved to the wall to the left of my desk. The small collage framed above the board was made to me by another beloved friend and was displaced by the hanging of the large framed print to the left.

With the bookshelf gone, I have more space available at the back half of my desk surface. Not only does my desk feel roomier, but the room itself feels like it opened up. I was able to stack my jewelry supplies higher. To the right, I stacked only the books on the right that I am immediately reading or using. To the left, I have two framed print with words and pictures that keep me focused on my writing and my art. An electric candle adds a stained glass glow to my corner as I work in the evenings as it gives off a faint perfume.

No desk of mine would be complete without a full cup of steaming hot coffee. I’m mad about coffee! Unfortunately, I usually am so engrossed in my morning writing that my coffee goes cold before I have the opportunity to drink the full cup. The cup holding my morning java was given to me by a third beloved friend. We used to work at a college together, and she bought me this cup because I often talked of feeling tired or wanting to eat a dessert. Vive le café! Vive l’écriture!