Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I knew homophones existed, but just tripped up over one. If you don't know, homophones are words that sound the same to your ear but have entirely different meanings. An example is heir and air.

Recently I was coming in my building while a woman was leaving. As she passed me, I got this wonderful scent of perfume -- light, flowery, clean-smelling. I said, "You smell good, what scent are you wearing?"

And she said (or so I thought) "Lancome's Census."

I heard census and thought Lancome had made a perfume to commemorate the 2010 census. Honestly, I did. We each continued on our ways and I thought about what an odd name for a perfume, even if the census does only happen every 10 years.

Then it hit me -- it was not census, but rather senses. Googled it and found I was right -- well, I was right the second time.

If you're sniffing around for a new perfume and you like light and airy and floral scents, check out Lancome's Senses, perfect for the Census year.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday/Passover

Spent a lovely dinner with my friend Stephanie at Maz Mescal, a neighborhood Mexican restaurant. We must be senior citizens since we went at 4:30, shared an appetizer, shared an appetizer for two for our entree, but we did finish it up with a shared slice of Mud Pie (with ice cream) and cafe au lait. Nobody went home hungry.

However on the way home, I stopped at Tal Bagels thinking I could buy my yearly supply of macaroons. There are certain foods which I love but rarely buy because they always disappoint if it's not perfect, and macaroons are one of them. Typically the canned or packaged version are bready, doughy and lack flavor.

But, ahhhh... Tal Bagels' real, house-made macaroons. They came in plain, chocolate covered and almond, and I bought half a pound of almond. I like chocolate, but I'm more of a macaroon purist. By the way, an Israeli told me Tal means dew in Hebrew. Maybe it's like Morning Dew Bagels... Hmmm, that doesn't quite translate well.

In any event, despite being full from dinner, I could not resist biting into a macaroon. Yes, it was moist, chewy, sticky with a few razor thin slices of almond adhered to the side. Really, it was perfect. You can taste the almond and the coconut (REAL coconut) in equal shares. Contemplating the ones dipped in chocolate, I think it would make the macaroon too candy-ish so I think I made the right call with the almond. To me a macaroon is a great blend between candy and a cake.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What I Learned Today

Today I interviewed someone for a profile for a trade magazine and learned two things: One, I don't believe I've ever heard of a Rhodesian Ridgeback (pictured above.) This man has two of them, named Zambezi and Mesquite. Very international!

This dog is also called the African Lion Hound or the African Lion Dog, and according to Wikipedia, here's why:

"The breed's history dates back to early in the 18th century, when the first European settlers found dogs domesticated by Khoi-khoi tribes with the hair on the spine turned forward. In the late 19th century, big game hunters needed a hunting dog that was tough, resistant to disease, and intelligent enough to avoid crocodiles and snakes, but brave and fast enough to face a lion. Also important was a tick-repellent smooth coat and tight paw pads to protect against thorns and rough terrain. Cornelius Van Rooyen of Plumtree, Rhodesia, was the main person behind the development of the breed."

This man described his dogs as very gentle with his two girls (aged 3 years and 18 months). The dogs let the girls put stickers on them, play with them and the dogs will let smaller dogs at the dog park crawl and sniff all over them.

The other thing I learned is that he told me he was half-French, half-American Indian and when I asked him which tribe, he said Caddo which he had to spell since I'd never heard of this particular tribe. The tribe is based in Oklahoma with a long history going back a time when the Caddo people populated most of East Texas, and parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Here's what Wikipedia says:

The Caddo Nation of Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe. They were previously known as the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma. A tribal constitution provides for a tribal council consisting of eight members with a chairperson, based in Binger, Oklahoma. The tribal complex, dance grounds, and the Caddo Heritage Museum are located south of Binger. 5000 people are enrolled in the tribe, with 2500 living within the state of Oklahoma. The tribe operates its own housing authority and issues its own tribal vehicle tags.[1] They maintain administrative centers, dance grounds, several community centers, and an active NAGPRA office

So, true to form, I can vouch for the fact that we learn something new every day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Early Spring on East 87th Street

So these are the two lovely brownstones I mentioned before that are right across the street from my building. If you look at the green ivy in the middle, go to the right and you can make out that there are dead, well dormant for now, vines that go up the length of the building. Soon it will sprout leaves and then some time in May the wisteria flowers will bloom and that whole vine will be this spectacular mass of purple flowers. It's really amazing.

A few years ago, the owners of the building cut down the whole vine down to its stump and I thought that might be the end of it, but I guess wisteria is a fast-growing plant.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Same Time, Next Year

Yesterday, I had my annual tax prep appointment with my accountant. I've used the same man for years -- followed him from one firm to another and he was made partner at his current firm.

Anyway, it's weird to see someone once a year and the marker for the time has been the photos of his two kids in his office. He has a son and daughter, and year by year, I watched the kids get older on the desk photos -- one year it was the Disney picture of the family with Goofy, the graduation photos... I'd hear about the trips scouting out colleges ...year by year, the kids grew up.

This year, his son is now 2 or 3 years out of college, working in DC and about to be married. I told him that when he's a grandfather I will feel very old and he looked up from his computer and said "YOU will feel old???"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rainy Monday

Today all signs of spring are gone, and we're back to late winter, cold and rainy. I was thinking how much the weather affects my world outlook. I love having the windows open and sitting in the sunshine and how different I would have felt today if it had been pleasant.

I think about how it will be time for my garden soon. I still have winter decor there-- pine branches, white sticks, red ribbons, etc. What looked so magical in November now just looks a bit shopworn.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Signs and Omens

I think I would have made a good cavewoman as I believe in signs and omens.

Last week a friend called who is going through a hard time in different aspects of his life. It's the type of situationw where you can deal with it if it's just one aspect, but not here.

When we hung up, I sat there and thought about him for a few moments and then flipped on the radio and the first thing I heard was "Everything's gonna be alright" over and over. I recognized it as the chorus of that old reggae classic "No Woman No Lie," but sung by someone else.

Turns out it was the Fugees which I can't say I know anything about other than the name. In fact, when I went to iTunes, I initially did a search spelling it Fujis, like the mountain, like the apple.

No go.

Then I tried Fujees, and got back that mild reprimand DID YOU MEAN FUGEES? Well, yes, I suppose I did.

So I emailed him to tell him the omen of hearing the song. He called me this morning to say he's downloaded it and played it 17 times. Since the call this morning, I have had "Everything's gonna be alright" in my head, which is not a bad notion for my brain to be stuck on.

Everything's gonna be alright. Really.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First Day of Spring

We couldn't have had a better first day of Spring than today. It probably got as high as 72 or 73, sunny, mild, blue sky, really a great day. What I notice, always, as the weather begins to change is the extremes you see. Today when I was out, I saw everything from shorts, tank top and flip flops to a woman in her 50s with a leather coat and gloves on.

I notice this the first day of fall when it gets cold, but you still only need a sweater and you see people rushing the season with hat and gloves and woolen coats and you wonder how cold they are going to get as the season progresses if they are that cold now.

I had a mini moral dilemma today. When I came back from errands, I was just sitting on the steps of my building enjoying the late afternoon when two young men came over. One was carrying what looked like (at least to me) a mandolin in a case and they stopped at my steps, he opened the case and I saw bills and change so he clearly had been playing for money somewhere and he took his housekeys out of the mandolin case.

When I finally got up to go inside, I noticed a quarter on the steps which must have fallen out of the mandolin case. I didn't know this fellow's name or even if he lives in my building and the thought of taping up a quarter for the anonymous mandolin player seemed like overkill. So I kept if for myself!

I want to take a photo of this building across the street from me -- beautiful old twin brownstones -- the kind of building that somehow didn't get torn down to put up faceless, post-war apartment buildings and going up the whole height of the building -- three floors is... well, now it's brown/gray branches, but in a few weeks -- maybe more, it will be a gorgeous purple wisteria bush that makes the entire front of the building bloom in purple flowers. It only lasts about a week, but I love the look of it so I want to be able to provide a before and after. Despite two days of warm weather, my block is still clearly in post-winter mode.

Even Central Park --when I was going through yesterday, I thought at least the forsythia would be in bloom, but nothing yet.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Indomitable Spirit

It was back to Artie's (the deli) for my monthly lunch with Barbara. This time I did the soup and half sandwich, pastrami of course, on rye with mustard. The soup was chicken noodle motzah ball and it really was heavenly. The server brings it to the table in a little metal pitcher inside the soup bowl and then pours the soup and it keeps it warmer.

Then we shared our chocolate pudding and even sent it back for whipped cream. Gotta have that whipped cream.

I got into a cab to come home and the driver was female. Of all the years I've lived in New York and all the cabs I've taken, I believe this is only the third time I've had a female driver.

We got to talking and she was saying that about half of the transit bus drivers are female. She was telling me her work history, how she came to drive a cab and mentioned that she had been in a wheel chair for a while.

I asked, "What did you do to yourself to land in a wheel chair?" and she said, "I didn't do anything. My husband -- my ex-husband -- did it." I sort of gasped and said, "He put you in a wheel chair??" and she said, "He broke my knee and that's why he's my ex-husband."

"What made you finally decide to leave?" I asked. At first she said the broken knee, but then corrected herself and said "No, not even then." She thought about it for a few moments and then said, "When I got out of the wheelchair and saw I could walk by myself."

Wow. I thought. She meant it literally, but what a metaphor. In addition to being abusive, he didn't work and also cheated on her. Instead of cheating, she called it, "He played dirty on me" and I asked what that meant exactly.

After the marriage ended, he stalked her, ultimately breaking into her apartment and he ended up in jail for one year which tells me it must have been pretty bad. Now he's out. She told me she posts on her Facebook page fake whereabouts for herself because she believes he is still tracking her down.

I really enjoyed her, her spirit, her work ethic. She said she's been working a job since she was 8 years old. She works 8 am to 8 pm and was going out tonight to celebrate a friend's birthday.

When we got to my building, the fare was $8 and I gave her $20. I just wanted to. In my own way, it was to reward her spirit that didn't give up despite really hard times. At first she refused the tip (nicely) saying it was too much. I said, "Have a drink on me tonight when you're out" and she was so appreciative that I thought I got way more out of this than she did.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Morning After

I'll get to why the picture of the dog in a minute.

The pub I go to on Thursdays seems to have survived St Patrick's Day. The bartender told me they were packed and estimates they took in $20,000 for the night -- this is just a neighborhood place so you can see why bar owners love St. Patty's. When I was there for lunch, this woman comes in, dressed in surgical scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck, hospital ID on, and sits down at the bar and I thought I hope she's not here for a drink.

As it turns out, she was looking for her lost keys and the bartender -- his name is Joe -- opened this drawer and took out 6 to 8 sets of keys, all left at the bar. Wow. Alot of locksmith work or sleeping on someone's sofa.

Later I was talking to him and he says they find keys all the time, along with digital cameras and phones.I asked him what the weirdest thing he's found and he said two or three times he's found birth control pills. Hmmmm... do these women think you pop one in advance of sex? It seems an odd thing to lose at a bar.

This bar has those doors that slide back so it's totally open to the street. Because of the mild weather, it was wide open today. While I was sitting, right next to the door in the front of the bar (at a table), this customer comes in and leaves his dog outside. I hadn't really taken notice until this giant head was gazing up at me. It was this dog who I later learned is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Like a Lab, but with longer, curly brown hair. You can sort of see in this photo that the hair is longer and curlier around the neck/shoulders. Today's dog (not the one pictured) is 11 years old and named Chocolate. Oh my goodness, I fell in love with this dog who sort of snuck in inch by inch, while his owner/companion's back was to the door, and fell asleep at my feet.

I was reading and I kept feeling this vibe from this dog -- like a peaceful noiseless hum that I thought I was imagining but I kept feeling it. This dog just oozed serenity.

Later when the bartender came over and asked me if the dog was bothering me, I said oh no, not at all and added that, in fact, the dog gave out a fantastic calming vibe, thinking what I was saying was crazy nuts. Well, the bartender bobbed his head up and down like "of course, the dog does that." Turns out Joe had a Golden Lab named Maggie whose death he is still grieving. I said that Maggie seems to be *the* name for Golden Labs since I knew others by that name.

In any event, I don't think I ever felt that feeling so strongly as from this big old dog. I can only equate it to the feeling you get of someone standing over you and you look up to see no one there. I'd be eating my lunch or reading and temporarily "forget" that Chocolate was there and look down and just feel so at peace.

I swear if the owner/companion had said he was going away for the weekend, I would have gladly taken Chocolate home with me. I loved that dog.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I stayed inside all day because I hate St. Patrick's Day -- before you boo that I'm a party pooper, let me give you the logistics. The majority of parades come up Fifth Avenue and turn, end and disburse on 86th Street. I live on 87th Street which means that every drunk suburbanite, Irish cop, Irish fireman, Irish bagpiper, green plastic hat wearing jerk is drunk and puking in my neighborhood.

Lines of drunk wanna-bees line up outside of bars to get in. There's a pub I go to for lunch on Thursdays a block away and the bartender told me that they take out two booths and replace it with a stand that just sells shots so you can get drunk faster. He said that last year the place was packed and the bagpipers were standing on the bar.

Really, I can't think of less fun than that. So I stay inside to avoid the drunks, but also I feel like a misfit -- everyone is smiling and wearing KISS ME I'M IRISH buttons and little hats and all the other accessories and I feel like a big grump. I know tomorrow the Heineken bottles will be broken on the sidewalk, there will be drying puke against the side of buildings and general mayhem from the day before.

On the other hand, the Israelis (Israel Day), Italians (Columbus Day) and Germans (Steuben Day)all seem to come to the end of the parade and disburse and go on to other activities. The Puerto Ricans (Puerto Rico Day)are a noisy crowd, but their post-parade fun centers on food, music, and women and not solely on booze.

I know I get crabby about this... the news guys says, "Today everyone is Irish" and I talk back to the TV.. No, today I am not Irish!