Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

OK, people on the East coast--in NYC, at least--are CRAZY about Halloween. Really, this is is a huge holiday out here. People decorate their houses and basically go nuts with costumes and parties and parades.

Jeff and Mary went down to SoHo tonight to buy the last bits of furniture for the new apartment from Room & Board ( Although we were near the major Halloween festivities, we decided to steer clear of all of it. We saw our fair share of costumes: everything from Abe Lincoln to a guy with an axe stuck in his head. Yikes!

Things seem to be moving along. We did close escrow on the apartment last week, and we are now working on the finer details of the kitchen renovation, like choosing drawer pulls and a faucet. We still have to sort out the closet situation, as it needs help, big time. But the rest of the pieces are falling into place. We still want to buy a piano, but that can wait until we have moved in.

So onward and upward, as they say--well, up to the Bronx, at least.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Mary saw today

  • The intricate facade on a building at the corner of 57th Street and 8th Ave.--worthy of a photo (too bad she didn't have the camera)
  • The horses and carriages at Central Park
  • Tourists taking pictures of the horses and carriages at Central Park
  • Two tall, gleaming towers at Columbus Circle
  • Carnegie Hall (a very unassuming building on the outside)
  • A crazy man--literally, crazy--tearing up and down Broadway screaming at people and almost getting hit by a car when he crossed the street against a light
  • Lots of lots of people not too thrilled by the fact that they actually had to bundle up against the cold air for the first time since March
  • Her banged up shin after she tripped and fell against a stair coming up from the subway (ow)
  • Rows of gourmet cheeses, meats and desserts at the corner store near her office (yum)
  • The Empire State building lit in purple and red
  • City lights literally glistening against a perfectly clear night sky

Friday, October 26, 2007

10 subway pet peeves

The subway is great. It gets us everywhere we want to go, and it's mostly reliable. Amazingly.

However, we do have a few pet peeves about the beloved MTA subway and its riders:

1) People who take up 2 seats: Either due to their own bulk or their bulky package they set on the seat next to them instead of on the floor.

2) Loud panhandlers inside the subway car: We have only heard 1 of these who seemed legitimate. We still didn't give her any money (are we bad people?).

3) Loud panhandlers who dance, play instruments or sing inside the subway car: You expect these folks in the stations. Inside the subway car, however, they are even more obnoxious. Rarely are they any good, and often they are kids who break dance using a boom box for music--sometimes with guardian-type adults with them, sometimes not.

4) People who step onto the subway car first, knowing there is a long line of people behind them waiting to get on, and they stop right inside the subway car door. This is BEYOND irritating, because the rest of us in line have to figure out a way to squeeze past them into the car before the doors slam shut on us.

5) People who wear backpacks while riding in the subway car. Essentially taking up the space of 2 people, as a result.

6) Schedule changes. On the weekends. Actually, every weekend. Now we know how to read the signs (basically), but we still miss things and wind up being frustrated because we can't take our usual subway to get where we want to go. Visit this site if you want to see what we mean:

7) Homeless people sleeping in the subway car--mostly because of the, um, odor. Guess they don't know that it's a $50 fine if you fall asleep on the subway (it's true!).

8) Rats. We don't see them very often (try to avoid looking for them, truthfully), and we know there's not much more MTA can do about them, but they are majorly creepy. We have seen them on the platform, not just on the tracks. Great material for nightmares ("Willard," anyone?).

9) Dirty subway stations. Most of the stations we use regularly are OK, but some are downright gross--ceilings falling apart, tiles disintegrating. The one nearest our new apartment is in desperate, desperate need of a paint job. We understand they may be planning to install an elevator for handicap access, so maybe they'll decide to paint it at the same time.

10) Pushy people. Who somehow think that if they push hard enough, they will bend the laws of physics when it comes to how many people can reasonably fit into a subway car and still have oxygen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Finally starting to feel like fall

We had a nice rainshower today, with more to come for the remainder of the week, it appears. It was cool enough to wear a real jacket (as opposed to yesterday, which still felt like summer!).

Spoke to a friend in San Luis Obispo tonight who said it has been in the 90s there all week. Climate change? Nah ...

So tomorrow we FINALLY close escrow on our teeny-tiny Riverdale apartment. We have to come up with a name for this place--something suitably noble, like The Riverdale Estate, or The Riverdale Villa. Who says 600 square feet can't be a villa?

One thing we love about living here is that when we read the New York Times, it's actually relevant to our lives. And that proved true today, too, with all the extensive coverage of the fires in California. Seeing the state burn from afar is somewhat emotional, even though the fires weren't near our old hometown. But we have certainly lived with the spectre of fire (and a real one back in the mid-'90s that nearly blazed through Cal Poly). With the hot weather our friend reported, it made us a bit nervous that SLO might be next. Let's hope not.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Photos from last week

A few photos from last week when family was visiting us: Rockefeller Center, where the ice rink is now open; walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (looking toward Manhattan); and Central Park, where it still looks pretty green, even though it's late October.

Tonight, the Empire State Building is royal blue topped with white. According to the lighting schedule on the Web site, it's honoring "Poly Prep Country Day School." That must be some school!

This Web site somewhat mimics our view (only ours is WAY better). If you ever want to see what we're seeing at that very moment, give it a click (there are 3 camera views--scroll down the page to change):

Been very sad hearing about all the fires back home in California. We can't remember ever seeing such severe devastation and evacuations.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More entries coming soon!

It's been a busy week, with Mary's relatives visiting us. They went back home yesterday to California. We will post some photos from the week soon ...

Meanwhile, it looks like our escrow is actually going to close this Thursday. Yesterday, we went out with the contractor, Tom, to begin purchasing everything for our new-and-improved teeny-tiny kitchen. Decided to go with white cabinets and stainless steel appliances, with granite countertops. We actually are going to the granite supplier in the next week or so to see the piece of granite before we select it. Because we need so little, we may be able to use a remnant from another job and save big bucks on a higher-end granite. Later, we'll add some tile to the backsplash to tie the whole little room together.

Today, we're going to purchase a Murphy bed for Rachel. After a lot of thought, we decided this is the best way for us to make the living room into a bedroom when she's living at home. We're going with a twin-size horizontal unit (opens sideways, so it's not as tall as a more conventional Murphy).

Saw two wonderful performances this week: "A Chorus Line" on Thursday, the London Symphony on Friday. The orchestra was ... truly amazing. Pianist Paul Lewis played a Beethoven piano concerto that was absolutely perfect. After intermission, the orchestra, led by Sir Colin Davis, played Mary's favorite Beethoven symphony, No. 3. Really can't describe in words how triumphant this performance was--the highlight of Mary's year in terms of musical events!

For Halloween, we're thinking of going to St. Paul's church in lower Manhattan to see "Nosferatu" with live organ accompaniment. You may remember this church, as it is right across from the World Trade Center site, and many people placed photos of their missing loved ones along its fence. It also served as a makeshift station for recuperating emergency workers and volunteers. The chapel itself is almost like a mini-museum for the event:

Will write more later!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Being a tourist @ WTC

We still feel like tourists much of the time, even though we have lived here since March. Today, we took Mary's sister and brother-in-law to a few sights, like Rachel's dorm, NYU, and the WTC site. It seems like, after all this time, there would be a nicer memorial at the site, near the entrance to the transportation station--it's where most people gather to look at the still empty hole in the ground.

Frankly, it seems shameful that it's 6 years later, and nothing much has happened. OK, they have decided on a new structure to be built--ugly as sin, in Mary's opinion. But it still seems so ... vacant, like it needs at least a commemorative area where people can pay their respects and contemplate what happened on that spot on September 11, 2001.

People NEED that. Maybe the new structure and environs will have an adequate contemplative space--not sure until it's built. But the way things are going, it appears doubtful that anything will change much there in the foreseeable future. It will probably still look like a hole in the ground with cranes and construction materials piled high. And no memorial.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Two of our friends expanded their families in the past couple of weeks. Congratulations to Trisha and Dave on the birth of their baby boy (their second), and to Mary and Adam for--yes, indeed--their second baby boy.

Boys, boys, boys! :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fun times ahead!

The next week or so is filled with lots o' fun stuff for Jeff and Mary. Mary's sister and brother-in-law arrive for a visit this weekend and will stay for a week. We're planning an itinerary for them and taking part of the week off to join them in their NYC adventures: museums, Central Park, NYU & Columbia tours, and anything and everything else we can think of to cram into 5 days!

The week will also include a Broadway show--"A Chorus Line"--and the London Symphony at Lincoln Center (playing an all-Beethoven program - check out preview video and audio clips). Maybe we'll even squeeze in a second Broadway show ...

However, there's a major rift between the stage workers' union and the producers, it seems. The producers have made what they call a "final offer" to the stage workers' union. If they don't accept it, there's a possibility that the producers will lock out the stage workers--thereby shutting down most of Broadway. Fingers crossed that if they decide to do this, it will be AFTER we have seen "A Chorus Line"!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Green, spiked with lightning

We're enjoying a wonderful light show tonight: solid green Empire State Building, spiked with lightning bolts. We won't have this type of view much longer, so we're soaking it in during this storm. At right is what it looks like on a clear night in a photo from the official building Web site.

Still not sure when escrow closes ... buying property is a different process out here in NY!

Had a nice, if brief, visit with our friend Linda and her daughter Kathryn. It's always great to see people from home. And yes, we still consider California and San Luis Obispo our home. :-)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Awakened by a fog horn

And we don't mean Foghorn Leghorn on Saturday morning cartons.

It must have been a fog horn on one of the cruise ships that routinely floats by on the weekends and docks for the day (it's still sounding off as we write this). We kid you not: it's solid pea soup out there this morning! We can't even see the cars on the street down below. Tuley, anyone?

The fog horn is getting louder--the ship must be passing right by, but it's still invisible to us.

Actually, this fog isn't funny. Last night our friend Linda arrived in NYC, but her daughter--flying in from Boston--did not (at least, not on time). We're hoping her plane was able to take off later in the evening, as it was fairly clear around 8:30. Not sure when this dense air hit Manhattan overnight.

By the way, don't always believe what you read on Right this moment, it says NYC is 67 degrees--with clear skies.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's already October!

It's hard to believe we have been living here for 8 months already. We're still not completely adjusted to life in NYC, but we're getting there. Some days present challenges, other days we're "in the groove."

Friday, we are going up to our soon-to-be new apartment to look at some of the superintendent/contractor's kitchen work in other apartments. Then he'll take at look at ours and, with any luck, will help us come up with a good plan for the remodel. We're also going to ask him about enlarging the one-and-only closet in the apartment. It's a decent size, but it could definitely use a boost.

We're hoping to close escrow within the next couple of weeks, if all goes as planned. Yippee!

Rachel is having an excellent semester at NYU. She's doing extraordinarily well in her classes, she's working as a math tutor at an elementary school, and she's volunteering with a group called Earth Matters. Busy gal, but very happy. Sophomore year is proving to be better than freshman year. :-)

Friends will be in town this weekend--Linda from California, and her daughter Kathryn, who attends Wellesley. The weekend of Oct. 14, Mary's sister and brother-in-law arrive for a one week's stay with us, and we're looking forward to seeing them.

October is proving to be a good month!