Friday, March 31, 2017

Full of Grace - New York Edition

Up at 5:30 am to pick her up and catch the 7:10 train.

She had told me about this new place, DO, which sells raw cookie dough, scooped like ice cream. We were both excited about it but read that the lines are often a 2 to 4 hour wait.  Nonetheless we grabbed a taxi downtown to try.

We were very excited as we pulled up that there was no line at all.  But as we went to enter the store a woman politely told us that the line forms across the street.  Oh that line, half a block long. But what the hell, we were here, might as well wait.

We only waited about 20 minutes as they let people in about 20 at a time.  Meanwhile they passed a menu around so we could decide before we got in the store.

Strangely, everyone who has seen the menu knew exactly what I ordered. Apparently I have a reputation,

And oh was it worth the wait!  

If you magnify the picture you will see huge vats of butter and sugar in the background.

Yes, we made ourselves sick loving every bite.

Then, needing to walk it off, we strolled through Washington Square in Greenwich Village.  I was explaining to Beaner that “back in my day” this is where “hippies” gathered to protest the Vietnam War.  Things hadn’t changed much with singers and protesters against Trump everywhere.  And a naked woman sitting on the ground shaving her legs.  I wasn’t sure if it was performance art or she was just enjoying the suddenly warmer temperatures. (No I didn't take a picture of her. That would have been creepy)

Then onto Eataly which is a huge place filled with Italian foods and restaurants

It would be impossible to get the feel for it in one photo as there are 20 or more sections, each dedicated to either a certain food or a particular region.  Just the smell of the place is amazing.

And, of course, one section is dedicated to Nutella.  

We had a little time before curtain so we wandered up 5th Avenue to browse Ted Baker and Saks. She found lots she liked but nothing in her price range. No surprise there.

Then the highlight of the day,  seeing Sunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal, her biggest celeb crush.

I bought the tickets months ago and and paid for premium seats.  Broadway theaters are small, but I like to be close enough to see the actor’s expressions in dramatic performances.  

A couple of weeks before the show they sent me an email saying that our tickets entitled us to a lounge area where we would be given a free glass of champagne and access to private bathrooms. Funny how the 20 something was most excited about the wine, the 60 something was most excited about the bathroom : )

The show was great and Gyllenhaal was amazing.  I’m not a Sondheim fan, but was truly pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this show.  And that Mr. Gyllenhaal can sing.  He plays the artist George Seurat and spends a great deal of the show sketching people in the park. Our 4th row seats paid off as Jake often sat on the edge of the stage, just 10 feet in front of us, netting me some serious ‘cool mom’ points.

At the end of curtain calls the lead actress gave a short speech about Broadway Cares, a charity dedicated to helping folks with AIDS.   Cast members would be in the rear of the theater with buckets if we wanted to donate.  And then she explained that Jake was really sketching during the show,  the cast held up and Jake autographed them.  Selling price?  $750 each.  The sketches were amazingly good but no, I was not that cool.

Off to a small Italian restaurant for dinner where the conversation centered around boyfriends and bucket lists and life dreams, and then back to the train where we promptly conked out.

Sharing a day in my favorite city with my daughter. Making memories. I have much to be grateful for.

Life is so very good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Don't Wait

Friday morning started with a text from a colleague that said “Eileen passed away this morning”

Eileen and I worked in the same building for years although she worked in a department I rarely had to coordinate with.  Mostly we saw each other in staff meetings.

We were diagnosed with the same type of  breast cancer at the same time and became friends as we supported we other on our medical journeys.

My cancer was found by a routine yearly mammogram - 3 tumors, 2 in the left breast, one in the right. Within a week I had 3 biopsies and, learned the type and grade of the tumors.

Eileen had felt a lump in her right breast months before and waited seek medical care.

I immediately had a bilateral mastectomy and a couple of nodes removed that showed that the cancer had not spread.

Eileen had one breast removed but her nodes showed that the cancer had already spread.

I recovered from the surgery in a few weeks and started a regimen of estrogen killing drugs that gave me wicked hot flashes.

Eileen had to start chemo, was sick as a dog, lost her hair, her energy and a couple of months of work. But she never quite bounced back from the chemo and quit working.

I had had lunch with her  a short while ago and she was saying that she still was not feeling well and was going to call the doctor soon. Turns out that the cancer had spread to her bones.  By the time she went it was too late.

Friday morning Eileen died. She was 55 years old.

Saturday morning my daughter Beaner and I went to New York City to see a Broadway show. In a couple of weeks I am will be hiking in Sedona with Peachie.

Sunday afternoon Eileen’s her children gathered to mourn her.

I can’t help but think of the different ways our lives went all because she was too frightened to get medical help when she knew something was wrong.  Cancer is not like a cold. It will not go away with a good night’s sleep.  

I urge everyone to keep up with their routine screenings and preventive wellness. And if you suspect something is not right, get medical attention immediately.  Early detection and treatment does save lives and even in the 5 years since my cancer, they have made huge strides in treatment.  

While my daughters and I are out making memories, Eileen’s are burying her.  

Please don’t wait.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Full of Grace - Maple Sugaring Time

As is our yearly tradition - and I do love traditions - it is maple sugaring time in the northeast which means going to an All you can Eat Pancake Breakfast.

We try to visit a different farm each year - this year coming close to the Green Mountains of Vermont.

While sugaring used to be very labor intensive, having to tap trees, hang buckets and manually collect the sap daily, today’s large operations now do it with tubing and collections systems.  The sap is then put in wood burning boilers to cook off the excess water until it becomes nothing but sweet, velvety syrup.  

An interesting note - Before the days of boilers, Indians used to hollow out tree trunks and place the sap in the hollow. At night the water content of the sap would freeze and they would peel the layer of ice off. Done repeatedly until fully reduced to liquid gold.

Maple sugar farms open their sugar shacks for one or two weekends in March to give tours and serve their products.

This year’s choice provided some really great fiddle music.

There may be nothing better than being out in the woods on a cold Sunday morning, enter a steamy sugar shack, sit at a communal table to drink a cup of hot coffee and stuff yourself with steaming pancakes and sausage topped with fresh maple syrup straight out of the boilers.

And then going home with a collection of maple sugar products and recipes to try.

Unfortunately our warm winter has slowed the flow of sap and production will be low this year. In fact, they say climate change will eventually move maple sugaring further and further north, the impact already showing in just one generation. It makes me so sad to think that my grandchildren may not be able to enjoy this centuries old tradition.  

Or enjoy maple syrup straight from the tree

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wildflower Seeds to Help Honeybees

Have you noticed that Buzz the bee has disappeared from many Cheerios cereal boxes? General Mills has removed the mascot’s as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the plight of real honeybees.

Bees of all stripes are currently in big trouble. The Center for Biological Diversity has found that more than half the species are in decline. Almost one in four is in increasing risk of extinction. The wide-spread use of bee killing pesticides are particular threats for honeybees and wild pollinators, and severe loss of formerly wild spaces due to development have all taken huge bites out of bee populations. This is bad news, even for people who don’t care about bugs— honeybees are responsible for pollinating 70 out of the 100 biggest human food crops.

The average person sitting down to dinner probably doesn’t realize the important role bees played in preparing that meal. Here’s something that might surprise you: One out of every three mouthfuls of food in the American diet is, in some way, a product of honeybee pollination—from fruit to nuts to coffee beans. And because bees are dying at a rapid rate (42 percent of bee colonies collapsed in the United States alone in 2015), our food supply is at serious risk. (National Resources Defense Council)

Things you can do to help bees.

Plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and yard. ...
Weeds can be a good thing.
Don't use chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn or garden.
Buy local, raw honey.
Bees are thirsty. Put out a small bowl of water
Get involved politically. Ask your representatives to pass, enforce and keep laws that will protect the bees.

To help in the effort, General Mills is giving away 100 million wildflower seeds. Go sign up, I hear they are going fast. And then get planting. I will have to wait for the 2 feet of snow this blizzard is dumping on me first. But as soon as Spring arrives, I will be doing my part.

 To further spread the word, General Mills is giving away 100 million wildflower seeds.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Full of Grace

I’ve never had a lap cat and now I have two!  They are snuggled on me all the time. No matter how crazy the world is outside my home, this grounds me and makes me giddy happy. Although it is hard to get anything productive accomplished.

A new pair of high top, leather hiking boots. I am loathe to ever give up a pair of comfortable hikers, but my last pair went through a mud soaked hike and were so worn that I could feel even small stones through the soles. I am just breaking these in but have a good feeling about them.

Of course, I realized that they are great for the Adirondack trails I am used to, but my next hike will be in the red rocks of dry, hot Sedona. So I bought a pair of low, breathable hikers.  Then I read about rattlesnakes in April so I think I will bring the high tops too.

My daughter sent me this picture from a Greek grocery where she lives. And then brought me all three to taste test.  Yes, Merenda is very good, but does not beat Nutella.  Still, to be fair, I am giving them all a chance, every night, by the large spoonful.  

Flowers on the left. Veggies on the right.  I love planting from seed and anticipating Spring.  In my zone, we shouldn’t plant outside until Mother’s Day but I am too impatient and start on May 1st.

Just 8 more weeks!