Monthly Archives: May 2015

Where Did I Put That?

As I age, I worry about forgetting things or exhibiting odd behavior (who could tell?!). One of the things that drives me crazy and is not a function of age is forgetting where I put things that are important. In my defense, I always knew where things were in my Tallahassee home. Here, in the Poconos, I am still trying to figure out the best way to store things, the most convenient places to keep things I use everyday, and the most organized way to keep track of important documents and items. Recently I was looking for two things: a pet first aid kit and a letter with my traffic court appointment. Two totally disparate items, neither of which has been found — yet.

I bought three pet first aid kits after Sydney’s last scary midnight trip to the emergency vet in Newton, NJ, when I got hopelessly lost and, in fact, caught her leash in the car door and fortunately didn’t strangle her. The vets there said I could have dealt with it at home and taken her to my local vet the next day if I had certain items. So I ordered the first aid kits and extra stuff (stypic pencil-like) for the car, the house, and for Rachel’s dog Mason. The other day I decided to look for it and tore the house apart and still no kit. It should have been either in the bathroom closet where the human first aid kit (which is very much like the doggie one) lives OR it could have been with the dog supplies (food, toys, brushes, leashes, etc.) in the front little (and I mean little) closet. I looked absolutely everywhere it could possibly fit and still haven’t found it.

Then, to add insult to injury, yesterday I was taking out all the things I needed to pay bills, go to appointments, other things I cannot even mention, for June. I knew my appointment in traffic court was June 16th but wanted to have the appointment letter handy. When I got the letter at the beginning of May I first filed it in the miscellaneous spot in the file cabinet, then I took it out and put it on the desk, then realized that wasn’t a good place for such a long time and put it in my purse so that “I’d always have it handy.” Of course I realized the risk of that since I change purses every once in awhile, so I put it on the notepad in the tray where I keep a bunch of things like keys, messages, etc. Of course it was there for everyone to see so I figured it should be somewhere “safe” and I was a bit embarrassed for the cleaners to see it so I moved it again. Need I go on? The letter is among the missing.

Looking for the letter led me to clean out the file cabinet, tidy up the shelves in the office, go through magazines upstairs, take drawers out of my dresser and find papers wedged behind them, locate missing camera, and the like. Anyone that was involved in my effort to find the car title when I bought the new car can appreciate that I still have nowhere dedicated to items that I want to keep track of but don’t need frequently. So if anyone has any suggestions as to where to put things so they can be located again, please let me know. It is a puzzle to me how I could lose anything in this house because it is quite small. I just haven’t lived here long enough to stop moving things from place to place (even though it’s been three years). I would appreciate any input my friends and family have for solving this problem that really has not one thing to do with age!!

Chocolate Cake and Other Guilty Pleasures

I belong to two book clubs. One is a virtual book club with friends from all over. We meet via Google Hangout now so we can see one another and have real conversations about the books and other things as well. The second book club is the Tallahassee Book Club which I have belonged to for many years. Every month I skype into the book club meeting and spend a very pleasant several hours with a wonderful group of women. Now there are many great things about being a part of the group even though I’m more than a thousand miles away but the downside is watching the members eat the wonderful food that everyone brings. The wine I can duplicate but not the food. Last month’s meeting featured three desserts — two cakes and some cookies. There was much oohing and aahing over the cakes and my sweet tooth was aching for a piece. Not to be, however, until earlier this week when I finally had to give in and satisfy the cake craving.

Using the excuse that I needed more fruits and veggies, I went to the store and bought a chocolate cake. I then proceeded to eat the entire cake by myself over two days. In my defense, it was a small cake, but even so I was embarrassed. How can a person be embarrassed when there is no one else to see or know. I didn’t tell anyone. Sydney was my only witness to the gluttony. Then I got to thinking. What have I got to feel guilty about? Why do we think of this as a guilty pleasure rather than just a pleasure. It’s not like it’s something I’d do more than once a year or so. I should have gone all the way and just put the whole cake on a plate and had at it with a fork. I did, however, cut it into serving sizes. When I decided to blog and go public with this guilty pleasure, I realized that there are lots of things I wouldn’t necessarily share with others — eating crackers and butter and lots of them, buying a bag of potato chips and eating the whole thing by myself, sitting and watching old British mysteries for an entire day and night, buying a bag of jelly beans on my way home from Brooklyn and eating them on the car ride. Why should I feel guilty about this? Because it’s incredibly unhealthy of course but even so…why is it that it is so difficult to allow ourselves these little things?

I have always blamed the guilt on my upbringing of course — don’t we all?! And, why do we always look for someone or something to blame for our own behavior? (And, by the way, I totally blame my Tallahassee book club for my bad behavior!) You can tell I’ve been analyzing this behavior and in making this declaration I hereby resolve myself of guilt and, as long as I don’t engage in this behavior too often, I am allowing me to have cake every now and then — the whole cake!! Now, I think later I’ll get a pint of ice cream, sit down in front of the tv with it and a spoon, and enjoy every delicious bite.

Storm King

Collection Long weekends usually don’t have an impact on my life except that other people are not working. I was delighted when Rachel texted and asked me if I wanted to meet them at the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, on Memorial Day. Somewhere I read about Storm King years ago and had always wanted to go so I of course said yes and went on my little driving adventure to find it. What I experienced was beyond my expectations. The giant sculptures are truly amazing and so diverse that there is something for everyone. Rachel, Dave, and Riley left at the same time I did and we ended up with their car 5 cars behind mine at the entrance so the day started well with amazing timing! Lots of tourists from all over the world wandered around the beautiful grounds on foot, on bikes, with strollers, picnicking or not. It was impressive not only for the scale of the sculpture but the quality as well. Dave and Rachel had researched it so they knew exactly what they wanted to see — the wall as art was beautiful and, as Rachel said, had a fairytale quality to it. aboutRoy Lichenstein’s Mermaid nestled (if you can use that word to express something so massive) on a little island in a creek. Unmistakably Lichenstein, it brought back memories of meeting Roy Lichenstein at the Guggenheim in the late 60s.

hillRiley enjoyed the freedom of running around — children all over the place enjoying the hills and the freedom to appreciate the huge installations. She rang the big bell which resounded throughout the landscape and especially enjoyed the water features. bellThe center has been around for 50 years and is constantly adding to its collection. Unlike a gallery collection, it does make you wonder how anything “on loan” or in a special exhibition gets constructed then installed then removed. It was interesting to hear other people commenting on the art, the beauty, the weight, the scale, and for some the ugliness. One particular sculpture looked like papier mache from a distance and we declared it quite hideous but up close it was spectacular made from tons of melted stainless steel and plastic that formed clouds and waves. The Buddha was beyond my ability to describe. SONY DSC

All the while I was thinking, “I must blog about this tomorrow.” Usually I blog in my head before I sit down at the computer, but this time it was different. I didn’t have the words — still don’t — to describe the experience and how it affected me. Not only was it special to experience the art, but to see it with Riley, Rachel and Dave was indeed special. Dave took beautiful photographs, I ran after Riley a lot which was fun, and we all enjoyed a picnic lunch at the much cooler area north of (and much higher up than) the rolling fields. It was here that the Calder and Nevelson sculptures dominated the landscape for me. Even walking to the restrooms, there were three gold sculptures that you couldn’t help but stop and look at. Seeing it all with family was the best part of course. I wouldn’t have gone otherwise and would have missed a day that I won’t forget for a long time.

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Mother’s Day Musings

I consider myself a very lucky person and, in spite of doubts I have expressed here about moving to the woods, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I drove into the city for a family brunch at Josie’s, a restaurant that accommodates vegans and carnivores alike. Parking is always an issue so I was surprised to find a spot on West 89th Street. There were posted signs “No Parking Saturday.” Several weeks ago I bypassed these spots since no one else was parked there but this time I thought it would be safe on Sunday. Again, no one else was parked there but after I pulled in so did a whole bunch of cars behind me. After meeting Michael and Allison at their apartment and saying hi to Fiona and Tes (the cats), we walked west on 89th street on our way to meet Rachel, Dave, and Riley at a playground on 77th street not far from the restaurant. As we passed my car, there was a guy on the street telling people not to park there, that almost every Sunday parking tickets are given out because there’s “No Parking Anytime,” as one sign said, to accommodate construction vehicles. So, into the car we went to find another space. Fortunately, we parked close to the restaurant and the playground — my lucky day!

While we were eating brunch, a mother and daughter sat down next to us. The mother, an elderly woman wearing a huge yellow hat to match her yellow suit, was obviously dressed up for the occasion. She showed me her Mother’s Day card and exclaimed, “Isn’t it beautiful?!” It was. And she was so proud of the card and her daughter. It was a sweet thing for her to want to share what she thought was especially pretty and special. I was touched and love that she wanted to share her delight with us. After brunch we did some shopping along Columbus Avenue heading up to the green market and arts and crafts market outside the Museum of Natural History. What an absolutely glorious day with so many people out and about on what turned out to be the nicest weather weekend in a long, long time. The green market had everything from ostrich, bison, and goat to gluten-free baked goods and locally grown vegetables.77thst[1]_0

P1200610The arts and crafts market was another story. Much like any gathering of vendors anywhere in the country, there was jewelry, paintings, photos, pottery, handmade soaps, clothing, and recycled glass things. Dave calls it upcycling. Taking colored Citron bottles, for example, and putting a pump on the top or used wine bottles made into other things. You know what I’m talking about. We stopped at one booth where there were several beautifully painted large vases. I looked at one as did another woman and we both realized they were plastic. Of course it was the art on the vase that was important and it was beautiful. She asked the elderly man who was clearly responsible for the booth how much the vases were and he replied, “$3000.” She said she didn’t think she heard him right and could he please repeat it. “$3000,” he said. I guess you can ask whatever you want for art but someone has to be willing to pay it and I suspect that the artist did not make any sales that day.

A perfect day with family in New York City. It is days like this that reinforce the decision to be within a reasonable drive to one of the greatest cities in the world. That it’s also close to my children goes without saying. It was also nice to get back to the quiet and serenity (until the tourists and summer folks arrive) of the Pennsylvania woods. Today I’m driving to Fishkill, New York, to have lunch with my cousin who lives in Connecticut. It’s the best of both worlds and I feel lucky.

Driving in Pennsylvania

Several years ago I wrote of my adventures, frustrations, and annoyance with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. I just completed my online license and car registration renewals and am pleased that it was as easy as going online and charging it all to a credit card. But, that is only the middle (not beginning) of my travails with driving in Pennsylvania. First of all, I still am not entirely sure whether or not talking on your cell phone is legal. Everyone seems to do it and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about it anymore since I have the new car with hands-free options. Second, construction is everywhere which means that traffic, especially in the summer, is awful. And third, and not to be dismissed because it is the last on my list, pedestrians of course have the right of way. Once a person steps off the curb into a crosswalk, all traffic MUSt stop. I am well aware of this law and know it is not unusual since most states have similar regulations.

A few weeks ago, I was returning from the Port Jervis train station, having just dropped Michael there to catch a late train back to the city. Once I crossed the bridge from New York into Pennsylvania, I was in Matamoros and drove at about 20 MPH although the speed limit is 25. It was slow because of traffic and I wasn’t in a hurry so it didn’t bother me a bit. I got to a crosswalk that was partially blocked and, once in the crosswalk, I saw two people crossing. Immediately thereafter I was pulled over by a local trooper. He was very apologetic, polite and I asked him why he pulled me over. “You didn’t stop for the pedestrians in the crosswalk,” he said. I answered, “I couldn’t see them because a truck was blocking half the crosswalk so they weren’t visible until I was halfway through.” He asked, “Oh, you mean the white truck?” At this point I thought he would send me on my way. But, no, of course not. “Yes,” I answered. Then he asked for my paperwork – his word not mine. I handed him my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He returned a few minutes later and stated, “Your paperwork is all in order,” as if he expected a different result. Of course it was! So he wrote me a ticket saying that if I requested a hearing, it would be reduced to a parking ticket and not carry any points on my license. I asked him why he was writing the ticket if that was the case and he had no answer. To add insult to injury, he started telling me about how he was trying to cross the street in Milford with his children and a police car sped through the crosswalk after they had stepped off the curb!

I was furious to say the least, came home and immediately sent in my ticket with a request for a hearing. In order to do this it is required that I send in collateral which was the full price of the ticket. The hearing is scheduled for June 16th in Milford which is convenient enough. It’s the same courthouse where Eric Frein who killed the State Trooper and hid out in the local woods was arraigned. At any rate, I remain irritated and will let you know how it turns out. I hope I haven’t reported this story already and, if I have, forgive me. On a more pleasant note, as I sit here at my desk, I am looking out at the woods which is filling in nicely, the trees are blooming and it is looking more and more like spring. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. It is now okay to plant in the north!