November 30, 2009

Christmas in New York

A friend and I took the ferry to New York yesterday.  I love Christmastime in NYC.  It's crowded, it's decorated over the top, it's exciting, and it's - Christmastime in New York.  I try to go in at least once a Christmas season.  And it's over fast!  With all the Christmas hoopla from before Halloween, in New York it starts at the proper time.  All right, some things are there early, but the tree isn't lit until December.

We went to the MOMA, where I confirmed that my favorite museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and we didn't want to wait for the Tim Burton exhibit

the star on top of the Christmas tree up close:

We loved the Bergdorf Goodman windows:

with my friend Penny, who met us for window-shopping

we walked past the Plaza Hotel....

past Central Park on Central Park South

To Times Square, where we sat on the steps of TKTS for at least 45 minutes and watched.

Sponge Bob Square Pants was there, as were Minnie and Mickey Mouse, but the view from the top of the stairs was fun:

I bought pashminas on the street, and we stopped at the 39th St. flea market, and before you knew it, it was time to take the ferry back to the car, and then home again.
On my pedometer I walked over 15,000 steps, which is over 5 miles.

And that was the first Advent for me.  Turns out, my friends had no clue what advent is.  We celebrate it in Germany with a candle on each of the four Sundays before Christmas, a preparation for Christmas time.  Well, interesting, they said.

November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Thanksgiving was all it is cracked to be plus more.  Is that the right way to say it?  Anyhow, it was great.  From the pumpkin pie to the grilled vegetables, the cranberries, the turkey-cake, the giant shrimp appetizers, mashed potatoes, turnips, a feast!

and our turkey cake:

and beautiful ladies:
and a little boy

This morning I got up at 5 AM, got dressed, and met my son-in-law at an electronics store to go shopping for Christmas.  First time I've done that.  I went to help him out, it's easier to shop with two people.  One to stand in line, and the other to hunt for bargains.

November 25, 2009


Two years ago, when Jessie was three, they made a pilgrim girl costume at daycare.  It was simple, a white paper collar and a white paper hat.  The hat was one piece of paper across the head stapled to a half-round piece in the back.
Oh, we all said, you are a pilgrim girl!
No, was her answer, I am a mailbox!

She was right.  That thing on her head looked like a mailbox.
The year after she was a pilgrim girl.
I asked her about it this year.
No, no costumes, but that hat did look like a mailbox, she said.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(or happy mailbox day)

End of November

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I'm going to my oldest daughter's house, we are celebrating there.

I'm a mess.  Besides my aching back (it's getting marginally better, although my son-in-law gave me some simple exercises to do, and I'm hoping that does it), I have a cold sore, and a semi-swollen eye.  The eye is from an insect bite, I'm pretty sure.  I got meds for the cold sore.  And can I complain about how expensive the cold sore meds were?!  They better work.

I'm looking forward to hanging out with  the kids.  And the long weekend.

November 23, 2009

Family Weekend

It was a family weekend.  On Friday we got together at my oldest daughter and family's house, with my son and his family.  My son-in-law's parents were there to see my youngest grandson.  The kids were playing, the oldest grandson went to cub scouts and took his dad and his uncle, we had stuffed shells, and home-made pumpkin pie, and chatted.

Saturday my middle daughter and family and my son and family came over to my house for dinner. Yes, I did make the brisket, but had acorn squash and broccoli rabe as the veggies.  And a salad.  We tried the rose I brought back from Germany (it was yummy), while the guys stuck with beer.  A friend joined us for dinner, and we had fun watching the little guys play.  Nibby, the German Shepard, was there as well.   The parents went out to meet friends later, and the little guy went to bed, while the older of the little guys had a hard time going to sleep and finally made it when I laid down with him.  The youngest is just adorable, with a ready smile for everyone, and he is very advanced with his talking.

The little one and the dog got picked up, and the older of the two spent the night.  He decided the night was over at 5:30, and sat glassy eyed until he had his milk and french toast.  He did miss the fire truck that his uncle took (because it had belonged to his - the uncle's father), but was okay.  We drove to NYC, to see the trains in the Botanical Garden, which are on display every year around Christmas.
While we were waiting for our friends, I took him out of his car chair, and he was able to just climb around.  I walked across a few steps to pay for parking, he didn't want to come, and he climbed in the front seat, and started tooting the horn!  Every time I turned to him, he laughed and stopped. When I got back, I asked him, what he was doing and his answer was:
'I honk horn, and people laugh, ha, ha, ha!'  I cracked up.

We met friends with 4 1/2 year old twins, and started the tour.  Oh boy, that was fun!  I had primed him that the trains were only to look at, and we kept repeating it, so he was fine just admiring them.  And admire them he did.  The accurate copy of historic houses and buildings that the trains are set in, are just marvelous.
The houses are made out of material found in the park, seeds, twigs, leaves, and pine cones.

The kids enjoyed themselves.  The Children's section of the garden is just a marvel, with rocks to be climbed, nests to be experienced, water, ducks, observation spots, a building with books, microscopes, seeds, gingerbread houses, and crafts. 
We tried to take it all in.  The little one all the while carrying Emily (Thomas the train), a truck, and a tape measure.  No, he didn't want to put it in a bag, no, he had to carry those things.
After we played and saw everything, we headed out to get pizza.  On the way to the restaurant he fell asleep.  And I decided to bring him home.  No sense waking him up to be miserable, he had a long morning and needed his rest.
I was so tired last night, I was in bed at 8:30 PM.
How was your weekend?

November 20, 2009

The weekend!

Here again:  Friday afternoon.

What to do with that spare time?  Well, I will be cooking dinner tomorrow.  I'm making a brisket!  Do you  want to come over?  It'll be plenty ---  I'll cook it the way my friend Ellen taught me:  dredge the brisket in flour, then brown it on all sides (two), add onions and garlic, - however much you want, and a bay leaf or two, add V8 juice - also, as much as you want, preferably enough to cover, close the lid and simmer or put it in the oven at 350 degrees for at least a couple of hours.  At some point check it, take out the meat, slice it and put it back into the sauce.


Couldn't be easier.   I usually serve mashed potatoes with it, and whatever vegetable I have around.  Maybe I'll do the butternut squash bake, slice the butternut in half, add butter, salt, and something sweet, either maple syrup or honey, and bake either face-up for at least 40 - 45 minutes, or face-down for the same amount of time.  Also easy.  Desert.... hmmm.  pumpkin pie if I have the chance to go buy one.

Hopefully it'll all work out.

My little brother called me, he'll be in town as promised the w/end after Thanksgiving, but he won't arrive until Monday, and I'll get together with him on Wednesday, he'll spend the night, we'll go shopping, and he will leave on Thursday.  And he'll leave from Newark.  Which will make the whole thing so much easier.

I did not go for my walk today.  I woke up with a sore back, and it took me some time to go back to sleep.

I am reading Stephen King 'Cell Phone'.
No opinion so far.

I just want to add:  I would be so pleased, if you would leave a comment.

November 19, 2009

China, Japan

My son called me today.  On the way home from the airport, after having spent a few days in Japan and China.  He cracked me up - he told me, he wanted to thank me.  What for, I asked?  For teaching me how to eat with chop sticks.  Funny.  Yes, I did.  After I saw some friends of mine eat with chopsticks in a chinese Restaurant, I decided I wanted to learn myself.  And the kids should know how.  So we made it a game, and all three learned to eat with chopsticks.
Never did it occur to me that it would come in handy visiting another country, it's just one of those skills you learn and then forget about.
He also told me that some of the guys he was with didn't know how and had a hard time.

He liked Japan, but liked China a lot.  He was only in Beijing, but marveled at how big that city was, and not as 'tall' as NYC, and how beautiful.  Hm, I don't think I ever heard anyone talk about China as being beautiful.

Hopefully him and his family will be able to come to NJ tomorrow as planned.  It would be lovely to have them visit this close to Thanksgiving, since we know he has to work on the holiday.

Also, I skyped with my little brother today, he will be flying in the Sunday after Thanksgiving, to spend a couple of days in NYC on business.  I will pick him up at the airport, he will spend the night with me, and I get to see him, even if it's for a few hours, yeah!

My back still hurts, my son-in-law thinks it's my trapezius muscle.  Yup, I think he's right.  I'm doing all the exercises to loosen the muscle I can find.

My daughter found a place to get the N1H1 vaccine for her kids.  only 2 - 9 year-olds were vaccinated, and she said her two cried so hard, they set of the kids in line behind them.  Well, that's good, we won't have to worry about them.

So, work day is almost over ----

November 16, 2009

Washington, DC, Maryland

Friday we drove to Maryland.  It's over 250 miles, which according to our nav system should take about 5 hours.  Of course that never works.  While driving through Philadelphia we needed gas.  So off the highway we went, into the city, forever it seemed like, found an (expensive) gas station, got gas, and asked our helpful navi how to get back on the highway.  It sent us from PA over the bridge back into NJ - where gas is cheaper, AND they put it in your tank, and then back over another toll bridge into PA.  So, don't always go by the navigational system!  It's a dumb computer!

We did make it to MD, and were greeted by Noah, his mom, Nibby the dog, and not so much by the cats.
Noah recognized all of us, greeted us by name, which is remarkable, since he is only 17 mos. old.   His mom had made a wonderful bouillabaisse for dinner, it was amazing.  One of those dishes one orders in a restaurant, but never makes.

The boys - a two and a half year old, and the one and a half year old (they are exactly one year apart, share the same birthday) checked each other out, but sort of didn't play with each other all that much.  They watched Thomas together, played with Nibby together,  and were really good.

On Saturday we went to Washington.  We decided on the Building Museum, because it has a play and built area for little kids.  We got there - the building was being set up for a special event, and the kiddie section was closed.  Big disappointment on our part.


So the Museum of Natural History it was.  Crowded, but the little guys seemed to enjoy it.  What I liked was that there was a shanty choir singing, with the Museum having amazing acoustics.

Back home again for some more play for the little ones, and a great dinner - pulled pork - and then some TV - would you believe we watched 'Alaska State Troupers'?  Yup, pulls you in like the 'Ice Road Truckers'.

Before you knew it, it was Sunday, and time to go home again.....

November 13, 2009


Today we're going to Maryland.  Sort of the middle, south-east of Baltimore.  I will see my youngest grandson.  I haven't seen him since August, and I can't wait. 

The weather is kind of lousy.  We are getting the remnants of the storm that hit Alabama a couple of days ago.  Wind, rain, chilly, floods by the shore, flood warnings, and all the rest.  We are a few miles inland, and it's not so bad here, no floods, and it is mostly drizzling. 

We were supposed to go to a White House tour this weekend, but my son, who was going with us, is not in the country at the moment.  We'll do something else, I'll report what on Monday.

My back is still bothering me  - I don't like complaining, but this is getting ridiculous.  It wakes me up at night, and then I can't go back to sleep.

Gotta run - do my real life!
Good weekend to you all.

November 12, 2009


Someone died yesterday.  Someone I knew only very little.  We got to meet her briefly when we made them a wedding celebration a few years back.  She was married to a college friend of my daughter and her husband.  She is from South America, was all alone here in the States, from what I know was studying to be a nurse, and then she came down with leukemia.  She actually found a bone marrow donor, got the transplant, it didn't take, and she died of complications.  I also heard that her mother made it to the States for the transplant, but I don't know if she's still here.  So terribly sad. 

And why mention it?  Because she was someone I knew, very randomly, but she deserves to be remembered.  Very beautiful, and her husband loved her very much.

November 11, 2009


Tomorrow in two weeks is Thanksgiving.  And we haven't decided yet where it'll be.  My oldest daughter is in Scotland at the moment, she'll be back on Friday.  Friday I'm driving with my second daughter to MD to visit my daughter-in-law and the little guy.  So there won't be a decision until the weekend at the earliest.

I should just have it at my house. I have tons of dishes - finally, and enough chairs, and I love to cook with a plan... the turkey, cranberries, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows, gravy, rolls, green beans, and at least two different pies...
And I would love to, except my house is hard to get into for my s-i-l's parents. 
Linda just suggested that the 'big boys' just pick the Dad up, and bring him into the house.  Well, that works for me.  I hereby suggest it.
Oh, my son is in Japan, China, and Korea this week.

 My back still hurts a little.  I was at the mall last night, to get the little one in MD something (an Oma can't come empty handed, I can't just bring my body), and as I was walking through Macy's, I saw the massage chairs.  Some lady was testing them, and recommended I try one.  I did.  All three of them.  I'm not sure it helped my back.....
I did go for my walk today.  I walked counterclockwise around the pond, and it was 8 ladies and me walking around the lake.  Oh, and one dog.  It was drizzling, kind of raw, typical November.  If it wasn't for Thanksgiving keeping us focused on a celebration, it would be dreary.
How far are you Thanksgiving preparations?

November 10, 2009

My aching back

This morning I slept until almost 5 AM.  My back didn't wake me up after the ibuprofen wore off, it's better!  I am so happy and relieved.  I had this killer back ache, in the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades, it cramped up there, and hurt badly.

Anyway, I got dressed and was out the door at 6.05 AM for my walk.  No, no running at the moment, I don't want to give my back an excuse to start hurting.  The weather was still mild from yesterday, and it was pleasant walking.  I was one of about a dozen walkers and one runner who make it around the pond this early. 
On the way back, which is uphill and really gives me a work-out, I noticed that the air was like a swimming in a pond in the summer, the warm and cold spots one hits, and that come as surprises.

The leaves are almost all down, there are more ducks and Canadian honkers on the lake.  The swan couple is still there as well.

Sunday my son-in-law and the two kids surprised me, by showing up with the super-powerful leaf blower and rakes, and raked and blew the leaves in my yard.  Big help!  And I was so happy.

Here is hoping my back is really on the mend, I hate being in such pain!

November 9, 2009

The Wall

Twenty years ago the Berlin wall came down.  I was in Berlin once, in 1969.  A loooong time ago.  I had gone with some friends, there was no room in any of the relatives apartments for a girlfriend and myself, so they put us up in a little 'Schrebergarten' house.  That's a little house in a rented garden space.  No indoor toilet, no running water, just a place to sleep.  We went over Easter, and my mother gave me a huge pot of colored Easter eggs to take along.  My father's half sister lived in East-Berlin at the time, and I visited her and her daughter a couple of times.  I remember that it felt weird.  Especially the crossings. 

When the wall came down in 1989 we were in New Hampshire for the weekend.  We had friends who lived there in a big old colonial, and we had a good time, driving to Portsmouth, NH, and exploring the area.  I also remember witnessing on the radio and TV what was going on in Germany and feeling left out.  Wanting to  watch and see and still be in the moment in NH.
We had gone to Germany the summer after, and a couple of days before the currency was going to be made the same, my brother asked me if I wanted to go to the Wartburg and Eisenach.  We had gone as children (I was 13, my brother 10) to visit our grandparents in Weimar, and had good memories of that trip.

Sure, I said.  But we're Americans, won't that cause a problem?  The border still existed, and I foresaw all kinds of problems.  I called some embassy - the East Germans - and was told, yes, we could have visas, $50 each, please.  For a couple of hours?
My brother said (and I listened, I have to problem getting into trouble if someone else suggests it), let's just go, and we'll go the back ways, we won't get stopped.  So we went.  And kilometers before the border were trucks parked all along the high way waiting for the day when the currency was the same, so they could fill the stores and the East Germans could spend their West marks.

We did go off the highway, went the back roads to Eisenach, where Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the church.  My brother told me to tell my kids not to be 'so American' .  What do you mean? I said.  Well, be so loud, to tone it down a bit.  I'm still laughing at that.  There was no way - these are/'were irrepressible American children!  Cheerful, happy, yelling 'hey, Mom, come see this!', sometimes whiny - to tell them to act like something else was not going to happen.

The drive through the country side was like a blast from our youth.  Tree-lined roads, with the white oblongs painted on the trees as guides, old villages where time seemed to have stood still.  Very few people.

We did make it to the Wartburg (a memory our father gave us years before), and, as it turned out, we were the first Americans to take the tour.  I remember how touched the guide was, when I gave her some single $$.

Michael was still with us, my brother's son.  His battle with leukemia was still a few years ahead at that point.

November 6, 2009


I found out what the grandchildren did yesterday, the museum it was.  Not the ship.
I was talking with my son last night, and telling him about the doings of his niece and nephew, and was sorry that they didn't go on the ship.
His answer was:  'The ship will never, ever - NEVER, NO NEVER EVER come back to New York.  No, this was their last chance.  They will never, ever see the ship in the city again!'
I laughed.  That's so him.
He told me about his little one, he is 17 months old and in daycare.  He is the next to the youngest in his group.  The Teacher had the kids all around and asked one of the older one, what sound does a sheep make?  Nepomuk was the one to answer 'baaah', next what sound does a cow make?  Moooo, from our little guy.  Yup, only 17 months old and he is a chatty little guy. 

November 5, 2009

November Birthdays

Yesterday a friend of mine had a birthday.  I called her.  She lives on the island of Sylt, in the North See, right before Germany and Denmark.  We chatted for a good long time about all kinds of things.  The kids, her plans for the future, the grandchildren, the USS New York, which will be commissioned on Saturday, her plans for a vacation on Teneriffe in February, the political situation and our youth.   --- that sounds really funny, saying 'our youth'.  We became friends when we were both in a small theater group, we were both 16, and just starting out practicing being adults.
She got married when she was 18, had two sons right away, and we stayed friends across all that time.  Yes, we talked about her ex-husband also.  She volunteers at a suicide hot-line, and tells me the problems people call with are so familiar - she often thinks that she has been in that situation and handled it in her way. 
She's given me a book about Germany after the war, with photos, and it is as if my childhood is right before my eyes.  We talked about that as well.  That we grew up having nothing, and we didn't know it.

This morning my daughter called.  She took the day off - kids are off school, teacher's conference - and she was going into the city with three other mothers and eight kids total.  On the plan was maybe touring the USS New York, or, if the weather was bad, the Museum of Natural History.
I hope they go see the ship.

November 4, 2009

Election over

And the Republicans won.  Jon Corzine is out.

And life as we know it, will continue.

On Monday I was at the grocery store here in Irvington.  I was admiring this in a display.  They have weekly specials of this china, and I do collect it, when I see it at garage sales.  Now I need it like I need a hole in the head.  Really.  Cupboards  are full, guests few, and I have enough dishes to last me two or more lifetimes.  But a sale...  what a quandary!

Another shopper came up to me and asked what I was looking at.  The dishes, I said.  She told me that she eats from paper plates.  Uses the silverware, but not dishes anymore.  Hmm.  Okay, I get that.  Not wanting to do dishes - there is something to that.  Then she told me that she just had her 79th birthday.  The next birthday was going to be the big one.  And that she is proud, she still lives by herself.  Takes a bath every morning, gets dressed and doesn't complain.  And no, she doesn't want to live with her kids - one 'bitch' in a house is enough.  That's the way she put it.  Her daughter is her bitch in her house, and if she moved in, she would have to live under the top-bitch.  We laughed, all she wanted was a little company, and off she went.
Both of us happy we made someone smile.

In the meantime, I decided NOT to buy those dishes, even though you may purchase them one piece at a time... nope, going to be strong.

I still love my dishes, collected over umpteen years, started with a set of six plates, mugs, and dessert plates given to me in 1985 (still thank you, Linda!), then added to by trips to Mettlach in Germany, huge warehouse sales in Parsippany, and a couple of pieces in V&B outlet stores.  I can't believe I have those dishes almost 25 years!  And I love them.

November 3, 2009

New TV series

Is it me, or did the 'new' TV series 'V' run already?  Some time ago.  And I wasn't a fan, otherwise I would remember more about it.
Unless there is a compelling reason to watch it - like there is nothing else on TV - I will not be one of the viewers.  My guilty pleasure is 90210 from the 80's?  90's?  Yes, it's mind numbing, but sorta funny at the same time.
My back hurts.  I made the mistake of picking up Matthew, and my back, which was already hurting, now really hurts.  I am trying to ride it out.  Man, it does hurt, but hopefully will get better soon.
And yes,  I voted.

November 2, 2009

Halloween, Newark Visit

It was a big weekend!  Saturday I got to see my three grandchildren go trick-or-treating.  The weather held, it rained right up to the point of trick-or-treating, then it stopped.  The kids had a great time.

our little ballerina

our Mickey Mouse

and 'David Wright', our Mets fan.

then there are the Omas
and the haunted houses:

Yesterday, after I washed off my make-up, I drove back to the kids house and babysat while their parents went to see:

Yes, it's from the left Newark mayor Cory Booker, Weintraub running for Lt. Gov., the Prez, and Governor Jon Corzine.  And the photo was taken by my daughter.  The seats were good, as is her camera.
And here is the cheering crowd I know:

A good-looking gang.
While I went to the park with the three kids, with the red wagon, which I pulled sometimes, and then it was pulled a good part by the littlest one.  I warned all oncoming pedestrians that he wasn't so good in judging where he was going, it was their job to get out of his way.  After we played on the playground, went through the woods, we wandered home again, but not before the littlest one found a mud-puddle which he had to step through.  No choice on my part.  No, words didn't work.
Some lady looked a bit aghast, and I cheerfully told her 'I'm not their mother!'.  Which is true.  I'm their grandmother.
No, no photos of that.  My peak days with three kids are over!  No watching them AND taking pictures!