20th Wedding Anniversary Adventures

For a variety of reasons, we decided to have a low-key celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary. This called for something more than a Hallmark, store-bought card. So I made one for Mark instead:

20th Anniversary Card Front 20th Anniversary Card Inside 20th Anniversary Card Envelop Front

On Thursday night, we went to dinner at Marble, our favorite go-to restaurant in Floral Park. We’ve developed a good relationship with their main bartender, Doug, who recently featured an article about making drinks in an industry bartending magazine, and Matt, their eminent chef.

On Friday, Halloween, we drove up to Sleepy Hollow, New York, which is about an hour from where we live. We walked around the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery for two hours and took many pictures. You can see the whole lot of them in my Sleepy Hollow, NY album on Flickr. However, some of them were particularly beautiful, including this Egyptian – themed mausoleum:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Egyptian Mausoleum

The front of Henry Villard’s monument:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Henry Villard Front

The stained glass inside the Helmsley’s enormous mausoleum:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Helmsley Inside Glass

Harry and Leona Helmsley’s epitaphs:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Helmsley Inside Epitaphs

And a panoramic view from the front of the Helmsley’s mausoleum:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary View from Helmsley Front Panorama

The faux Headless Horseman’s Bridge over a brook and under fall foliage:
Sleep Hollow Cemetary Bridge

I snapped 90 photos. Too many beautiful graves, monuments, statues, and views to put here. I definitely want to return because I failed to get pix of the Crane and Van Tassel headstones that were there.

Afterwards, we ate lunch at JP Doyle’s in one of Sleepy Hollow’s neighborhoods. We drove over the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee bridge to the AMC Palisades in West Nyack for a retro showing of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, one of my favorite holiday movies.

I continued the anniversary celebrations by cooking some of my husband’s favorite childhood and current foods. I went a little overboard with the desserts. I had to make banana bread because the bananas were very ripe. And I couldn’t help but make two of his favorite desserts: pumpkin pie and apple pie. I wanted to make sure we had dessert ready before I started in on the dinner foods.

20th Anniversary 3 Pies

For dinner, I cooked up the sauerbraten that had been marinating in the refrigerator and spaetzle. Both are German dishes that Mark’s mother used to make, and it had been a while since we’d made them.

We had a few technical difficulties. I had to ditch the red cabbage dish we were making because we did not shred the cabbage enough; it became a huge unwieldy pile. I also didn’t stir the dough enough before putting it in the ricer, so the spaetzle (German pasta) came out very tiny. The sauerbraten and spaetzle had a ginger snap & stock sauce pour over.

#Sauerbraten with #spaetzle and #gingersnap sauce #German #food

Overall, not as good as Mark’s mom used to make (How could it?), but edible nonetheless. Luckily, I bought a huge cut of beef that we cut into thirds so our future sauerbratens await!


Normie and His Nonna

Last  night, I went downstairs to find my cat Normie. We live upstairs in an apartment from my mother, but our doors are often open to allow the cats to visit her. Most nights, I find him and bring him upstairs.

All the lights were off except for the one in my mother’s bedroom. Her door was halfway open. I was about to knock, but I could hear that she was awake by the turning of a page in a book.


I poked my head inside to see this:

#Mom + my #Normie cutie pie #catsofinstagram #kitty #cat

I bust out laughing. I’ve never seen Normie get under a blanket with my mom before. I had to get a close-up of his cutie-pie face:

Normie wrapped up

Then Normie opened his eyes. I tried to get a shot, but a yawn got in the way:

Momma & Normie in Bed 4

Mom and I can’t help but laugh at Normie. Whatever this cat does contains an element of entertainment:

Momma & Normie in Bed 3

Then more laughing and licking:

Momma & Normie in Bed 2

Finally, the desired shot:

Momma & Normie in Bed 1

Although I still think that my favorite photo was the first one I took because Normie looked pleased as punch to be snuggling under the same bedspread as Nonna.

Now he doesn’t have to share, which has never been his strong point.

NYC Adventuring: Governor’s Island

One of my NaNoWriMo writers critique group buddies invited people to meet up on Governor’s Island, which off the southern tip of NYC and to the west of Brooklyn. Since I had never taken the train to Brooklyn, or the bus in Brooklyn, or a ferry from Brooklyn, nor been to Governor’s Island, I decided to make the trip. The near-90 degree weather made it impossible to refuse!

The LIRR from my town to Brooklyn was a decent ride. When I got to Atlantic Terminal, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Atlantic Terminal has a mere two tracks and is underneath a large mall. From the platform, you go up one story to street level. The terminal points to the intersection of 4th Ave., Atlantic Ave., and Flatbush Ave.

The B63 bus stop was on 4th Ave. and Atlantic Ave. Nearby are two Islamic libraries and at least one halal market. As the bus rode up, I realized that I had lost my pre-loaded Metro Card and returned to the terminal to get another. I wrote it off as another person’s lucky day. After returning to the bus stop, I didn’t have to wait long until another bus arrived.

The ride down Atlantic Ave. was lovely. Tree lined streets. People and families from all walks of life. People friendly and chatting. The bus rode the crest of Boerum Hill. The view of the harbor became visible as we came to the bottom of the hill.

The bus left us about a block away from the ticket booth and the ferry. Boarding was relatively fast, but the trip was even faster. It could not have taken more than 5 minutes to pull into the dock on Governor’s Island. The views of the southern tip of NYC were fantastic.

View of NYC from the ferry to Governor's Island

View of NYC from the ferry to Governor’s Island

View of NYC bridges from the ferry to Governor's Island

View of NYC bridges from the ferry to Governor’s Island

Shortly after we docked, the Queen Mary 2, which was anchored across from Yankee Pier on the island, tooted her exceptionally loud horn.

Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2

I met up with my friend, and we spent the afternoon writing on picnic tables and dodging sunlight.

You can either take your bike on the ferry or rent one from Blazing Saddles. Many Hasidic families came to the island, as well as families in general. I learned there were at least three food courts served by a number of food trucks. You can also rent multi-person pedaling carts with yellow canopies and child seats on the front. The gentle tinkling of bicycle bells and laughter joined us as we wrote the entire afternoon.

The weather was amazing! Close to 90 degrees, low humidity, and a lovely breeze made for one of the best days of the summer. By the time 4:30pm rolled around, I was ready to head home. I got on the 5pm ferry and made it in plenty of time to take the 6pm train from Brooklyn back home.

Taking a shower after a long, hot day and falling into bed were the last two things I did last night. I thought, “This is how it must feel after kids spend the whole day playing outside during the summer.” It can never be like it was back then, but yesterday came pretty close.

Week 8 Artist Date: Solo Trip to NYC World’s Fair Site

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, NY, the New York State Pavilion got a fresh coat of paint and was being reopened for 3 hours only. I decided to make my artist date a solo trip via bus and to go look at the location.

The World’s Fair site is in the Fresh Meadows Corona Park. The bus ride to get there from my home included taking the N24 to Springfield Boulevard and then transferring to the Q88. I disembarked at the Horace Harding Expressway and 108th Street stop and walked the short distance to the park.

When I arrived around noon, I got at the end of the line:

2014-04-22 12.00.43_1024

If you laid down a Z, I was on the line at the top beginning start of the Z. In the distance, you can see what looks like the end. There was a lot more zag to come, but this was all I could see from the end of the line in the parking lot next to 56th Ave.

As I stood in line, I saw Terrace on the Park was overlooking the park. I hadn’t thought about that place since the last time I was there: in 1989 for my senior high school prom. I remember looking out over the park during twilight that evening and seeing the park, but I do not remember seeing the World’s Fair grounds, which I most certainly would have if I looked out. I remember it being a cloudy evening, but you wouldn’t have been able to miss the buildings. In the foreground is a small animal farm at the park with some llamas.

2014-04-22 12.10.53

At first, I was all about taking pictures of the line as I progressed. At this point, I think I’m half way through the Z. The line snakes to the right because of a small circle with a fountain in the middle.

2014-04-22 12.22.41

On the other side of that picture was more line that was as long as what I had already waited on.

At this point, I am wondering whether I should just get off the line, walk around, get ice cream, and take pictures. I decide to stay in line. Even if it took a couple of hours, I would still get a chance to go inside.

Even after I went the length of that line as I well, it only to got me to a bridge that I still had to cross while waiting in line:

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Just on the other side of the bridge was a grove of pink and white blossomed cherry trees under which five sets of bridal parties were getting their wedding pictures taken:

2014-04-22 13.38.53

From that same point, I took a picture of the pavilion. I didn’t find out until later that the line went on the opposite side of what I was seeing:

2014-04-22 13.44.16

When I finally got to stand in line next to the pavilion, I still couldn’t see the end of the line:

2014-04-22 13.44.49

I heard at least one person talk about the history of these towers. At the very top were two observation decks. Just below was an eatery. The lowest tower had an office for Governor Rockefeller:

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Although the pavilion and towers were rusting and in obvious decay, they still take impressive photos:

2014-04-22 14.17.31

At the end of the line, two men in hardhats were talking to people in the groups they came in.

“How many?” asked one of the men.

“One”, I said.

He pulled a ticket off a roll and handed it to me. “Hold onto this number. When your number is called, go to the entrance and get your hat.”

I stared open mouthed at the ticket I held in my hand.

“And how long do you think that will be?” I asked, too shocked to get angry with him.

“About two hours,” he said.

I walked away in shock. I had waited in line two hours only to be told that I had to wait for my number to be called.

I waited in line for two hours only to get this lousy souvenir:

2014-04-23 16.25.33

I had not had lunch yet and still had a number of things to do that day. I abandoned any further plans. Ice cream cones had been calling me from ice cream trucks.

On my way to the ice cream truck, I saw this amazing view:

2014-04-22 14.28.55

On the plus side, I made both bus connections within a minute or two of getting to the bus stops. I busted through some old fears about traveling around Queens by myself. I saw the 1964 World’s Fair remaining structures up close. All in all, I had a great artist date for week 8.



Magnolia Blooms

I grew up with a magnolia tree outside my front yard. Since I went away to college 25 years ago, the tree has grown to incredible proportion. However, its size is smaller than otherwise would be, due to weather and neighbors who begrudged the petals that fell onto their manicured lawn.

When I moved back home in September, one of my greatest anticipations was to experience the full blooming of the magnolia tree once again. With the warm weather this past week, the blooms began to open and then suddenly popped. I hung out a window and stalked the tree taking photos ahead of today’s coming day-long deluge.

These magnolia blooms are right outside my bedroom window:


Closeup of nearby magnolia blooms:


Skyward magnolia blooms:


Into the center of the tree:


Magnolia blooms above the front door:


I only wish I could send you the scent of magnolia along with these photos. Have a great day!

Week 6 Artist Date: Lido Beach

My favorite place is to go is the beach. I have not been to a beach on the south shore of Long Island, NY since some time in high school in the late 1980’s. I regularly went to any Jones Beach or, when I went on vacation with my family, nearby beaches in the Hamptons.

One of my cousins regularly goes to Long Beach, so I thought I would drive to Long Beach and see what it was like. I printed travel directions to and from Long Beach on different routes using Google Maps, which point me into the middle of Long Beach instead of the beach area itself.

I saw signs for Point Lookout at Lido Beach so I changed my plans and decided to go there instead. I wondered what I would see and how far I would be able to see the ocean from there.

I passed the Malibu, an oceanside nightclub. I used to listen to a local alternative New Wave station in the 80’s called WLIR (later WDRE) that used to frequently air commercials for the Malibu.

I was so excited! I actually go to see the ‘Malibu at Lido Beach’! I was there! I thought about stopping to take a photo, but was feeling uncertain. I did not know how long I was going to be driving on East Park Avenue, and I decided to keep driving.  When I came to a light, I realized I saw a sign for Point Lookout on the right.

I turned into the parking lot, and drove as close as I could to the beach. I parked next to a truck. Construction vehicles were moving large mounds of sand in the distance to my right.

I walked past the closed bathrooms and turned left to walk onto the beach. Mounds of sand collected against the building in drifts. I walked on the fine sand and, after a crest, walked near the water. I saw two piping plovers walking along the water’s edge, pecking the sand just after the water would go out. Their little legs flickered as they scattered around looking for food. They were also trying to avoid me, and I kept my distance.

Point lookout Views

I saw a promontory of rock, which I assumed was Point Lookout. No signs were around. Because I was by myself and I have poor balance, I only went as far as I felt comfortable, which was only 1/3 of the way from the beginning of the stones.

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Point Lookout Ocean View

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Point Lookout Shore View

I turned around and took pictures so I could get a 360 degree panorama.

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Point Lookout Right View

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More Shore on the Right

This next shot is a larger shot of the shore. Interestingly, the clouds that darken the ocean do not reach the shore. This gives the effect I went on two different days, but all these photos were taken at the same time of day from the same spot.

2014-04-03 15.12.30

Point Lookout Larger Shore View

To the left, a large stretch of land arcs around and farther out into the ocean.

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Point Lookout Left View

A little ways off to the left from the Point Lookup was some wood debris. The foot tracks leading away to the lookout looked cool, so I took a shot.

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Wood Debris

I took a closeup of the branch of wood because it looked creepy and cool with its twisting and turning branches.

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Debris Closeup

As I kept walking, I saw two additional lookouts that I explored. On my way back to my car an hour later, I came across a mess of piping plover tracks. In addition to the first pair I saw, I saw a family of five hovering close to one of the other lookouts.

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Piping Plover Sand Tracks

I decided to start picking up shells as you can see from the featured image. The interesting difference between the north shores of Massachusetts and southern Long Island beaches: Massachusetts has a lot of rocks on their shores, whereas Long Island has finer sand, black oyster shells, and almost no rocks.

I looked for rocks everywhere because one of the exercises in The Artist’s Way this week says to collect five small rocks. I could only find one. I will have to keep searching.

All in all, I experienced an amazing artist date. I see more trips to beaches as artist dates in my future.

Week 4 Artist Date: Getting Outside

Julia Cameron’s instructions in The Artist’s Way for the week 4 artist date instructs you to plan for a weekend day for your artist date. Unfortunately, my weekend was already planned, so I decided to take a half a day on Thursday instead.

For a few weeks, I have been mulling buying a pair of light hiking shoes. Merrell’s has a store in Huntington, NY, about 45 minutes from my home. The salesman recommended their Moab light hiking shoes. I found them comfortable, but they did not have the color I wanted.

I had lunch at Starbucks, then drove up to Caumsett State Park north of Huntington in Lloyd’s Harbor. The State Park was a former estate. I drove in and parked, then walked over to the information building. The trails I wanted to hike where on the other side of the park.

Instead, I entered a wall garden near the parking lot. To my right, I saw emerging tulip leaves, which were the only green in the area. When I looked forward again, I saw the prize of the day: an abandoned building just behind the brick wall across from me.

Walled garden entrance to an abandoned greenhouse

Walled garden entrance to an abandoned greenhouse

Behind the brick wall was an abandoned greenhouse that had been allowed to fall into disrepair, weeds growing everywhere, and all the glass panels removed.

Glass no more

I especially liked the side door.

Stay out

After talking a few more photos, I went back to the car to drive around and see if I could find some sweet spots to take pictures of the water.

One great thing about taking pictures in the winter time is that the bare trees reveal landscape and houses in great detail.

House on Harbor

I love standing on windy shores and taking photos of choppy waves, lighthouses, moored boats, and wildlife.

I spent a maximum of 20 minutes outside taking photos on Thursday, but I left with such a wonderful feeling of happiness and peace that stayed with me for the rest of the day.