Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Two Days Later

I was just watching Colbert, and one of his jokes was him saying in a serious tone: "It may be weeks before we are able to restore the urine smell to New York City subways" and then called on all NYC drunks to "release your strategic urine reserves in the subway."

And speaking of which, I read today that no one has seen a mass exodus of rats from the subway tunnels so the feeling is a whole lot of rats drowned so maybe that's one of the few silver linings of Sandy. Reduced the rat population.

As for me, life is good. My phone is still screwed up, but I can certainly live with that for now. My cable went out again for a time today.

My cleaning woman comes tomorrow and I had to pick up and make dinner and didn't want to do both so I thought I'm ordering from Gracie's (diner on corner). Certainly they'll be up and running -- and sure enough, 15 minutes later (in which time I quickly picked up) my cheeseburger and baked potato arrived, delivered by a very articulate man, as opposed to the usual delivery guy. I had some candy and after I paid I said to him, "I believe you are dressed for Halloween as a relative of the Gracie folks who has been pressed into service" and he laughed and said yes and I gave him some candy which he immediately started eating. I also tipped as if he were a normal delivery guy. I used to worry about that -- but no more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Day After

Thanks to a friend of Fran's for sending this photo along which she found on a news site.
  I'm getting a bit of cabin fever. Although I've been in my garden, I haven't been out on the street since Sunday so I need to get out. Today all was well with me except my telephone was screwed up and still is. I can get incoming calls, but I can't retrieve messages and people can't leave messages. During the day, I would do *69 to see who called, but (Ok, here I'm going to sound cheap) it's 75 cents each time I do that. It's not that I don't *have* the 75 cents -- I just resist paying it.

By the end of the day, my one client was emailing me -- "that was me that just called; save your 75 cents."

So this is the 86th St Subway station. The pillars, of course, are on the platform and the yellow line is the edge of the platform. To the left of the yellow line is where the train comes and I'd guess it's about four feet high so this is a lot of water to come this far uptown.

The devastation really is hard to imagine. Today at lunch, I put a load of laundry in, made a grilled cheese sandwich and then started the dishwasher. I was mindful of how lucky I am to be able to do these simple tasks and quite grateful.

What would be so difficult for, and what is so difficult for people, is that there aren't even estimates of when they'll get power back. Buses are running again, but not the subway. My helper was supposed to come today and she would have arrived via subway so we have rescheduled for next week.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Love This Shot

Monday Night at 9:30

It's been a wild day. Lost power for about two seconds this afternoon. Lost my cable for about 15 minutes but it came back on. I think now, high tide, highest winds, is the worst of it. It's odd to see Lower Manhattan in total darkness.

Went out into the garden around 8 and it is surreal. Just misty rain, not even umbrella worthy. Absolute ferocious winds, a bunch of sirens in the distance. Hopefully we'll get through tonight. I know how lucky I am to have TV, power and internet. Just heard on TV that there's no power below 34th Street.

to be continued...


I have to say I felt physical fear tonight and it's something I don't normally feel. I had been watching the news and really feel as if I am prepared. Well, I'd give myself a B. I don't have 3 days of drinking water (meaning if something went wrong), but I have heeded all warnings and stocked up.

So about 11:15, I started smelling lighter fluid, and I got it in my mind that some jerk in my building was lighting a fire or something and was going to start a fire that would cause me to leave the building. And I would be stranded with no transportation with an impending hurricane. I knew this fear was mostly groundless, and I was going to call Mary and tell her I was afraid, and then didn't want to wake her up if she were already sleeping, but I'll add that I would not hesitate to wake Mary up if I really needed to talk to her.

I was thinking how tenuous our homes are. They make us feel safe, but we can lose them so easily. I then went through the roster of people and resources I have. I reminded myself that I have tremendous financial resources -- I don't mean I'm a rich person -- but I have money and unlimited credit. There's spome very primal fear of being homeless -- of not having a clean dry bed and food and shelter from the storm (literally). I'll be glad when all this is passed. On the 7-day forecast, there were little smily face suns for Thursday and Friday and that's hard to imagine right now.  The NYC Marathon is Sunday and the news folks were saying as of right now it will go off without a hitch.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween is coming

This is Izzy, the dog of a colleague I follow on Twitter. Izzy doesn't seem entirely convinced about Halloween.

Now THIS made me laugh...

I mentioned how Mayor Bloomberg tries to speak Spanish to show... uh... uh... how inclusive he is? Someone just retweeted (for non-Twitter people, that's like forwarding an email, but you forward a tweet) this from a Twitter account someone started to make fun of his Spanish. The person is Miguel Bloombito and his Twitter "handle" (to date myself back to CB days!) is El Bloombito. I swear this is pretty close to what he sounds like.

Yo soy will givero update de hurricaƱo at el 6pm. Por favor no que panicking until despues los announcemento.

Here are some others, and I am now following El Bloombito. I find these hilarious, and if you ever heard him trying to speak Spanish, you'd share my glee:

Sorryo yo soy late to mi conferencero prensa. Mi chauffeur esta stucko on el FDR

Don't worryando if su forgot to que buy comprar supplies para el hurricaƱo. Que sendo out tu butlero con un umbrella y un kayako

Get off el twittero! Packo su Vamos Bag! Andale!

Mary's Memory Walk

Here's Mary, Matt (Mary's nephew, left) and Dave (Meredith's husband, right) on the Alzheimer's Memory Walk this morning. Mary's sign was made by Fran and it has the name of Mary's mother and her two grandmothers who had Alzheimer's. After the walk, they went to brunch. Now Mary is having a beauty day with a haircut and facial.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Here Comes Sandy

Local media are having a field day scaring us all about Hurricane Sandy. Mayor Bloomburg was on TV mid-day with his emergency preparedness report -- all exterior construction stopped at 5 pm today; deciding when and if to evacuate people; deciding when and if to close the subways, all that sort of thing. I've heard this before, but the Mayor prides himself on being bilingual and he has the worst choppiest horrible Spanish accent that has to offend anyone whose first language is Spanish. It's almost a parody of someone trying to speak Spanish. I don't even know if you could give him credit for trying to be bilingual.

I have food, candles, a great lantern-style flashlight, some water, charged computers. I counted my cash and I have $120 which is certainly enough for a while, but could the ATMs go down for an extended period? I will charge my camera and cellphone tomorrow. Maybe get more groceries; maybe get more cash. I don't konw what to do in my garden. There is loose stuff out there, but it's really very protected. I guess I'll see what happens. One thing I might do is remove the glass top from the wrought iron table -- it just lifts off -- and bring that inside. That's about the only thing I would care about if it broke.

Marilyn, my helper, was supposed to come on Tuesday which right now is the worst day forecasted and I told her that I do NOT expect her to don a yellow fisherman's slicker and fight her way through a hurricane to come fold my laundry. I told her I had nothing urgent for her to do so we'll play that by ear.

I'll post some pictures if there's anything interesting going on here. I think the storm starts Sunday night.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

(More than Just) A Little Bit Jealous

When a colleague told me today that he was visiting his mother in her assisted living place and then taking her to Red Lobster, of course I had to say how much I loved Red Lobster. I told him to have a cheese biscuit for me. Later I was thinking the healthiest way to eat cheese biscuits is by having someone else eat one for you... but just now, he has kept his promise and I got this from his cell phone. Now I am really jealous... and it's the shrimp festival too!

I must confess that my mouth is actually watering looking at this -- now we need some nice soft butter to half melt on it... pop it in your mouth as you wait for your shrimp to arrive... ah, heaven. By the way I own stock in Darden (the parent company of Red Lobster.) Hey, is that clam chowder I see behind the biscuits?

My $5 Lunch

Fall has come to East 87th Street -- and you can see by the group of people that there was a funeral going on today. Basically, that's what I see -- the people standing and talking outside and the workers (dressed in business suits) wheeling in a body.

I hadn't been out for a Thursday lunch for weeks and I decided I wanted some fresh air so I went out. Just went to the corner for pizza and didn't realize, or had forgotten, that the place offers a lunch special -- two slices of pizza and a soda for $5. Not bad. Sat and ate my pizza and read magazines.

I saw something I'd never seen before. There were three worker type guys at the table next to me, and the one declared that the pizza didn't have enough sauce. (As for me, I like it with less sauce and will specify "little sauce" when I order. I used to say "light sauce" but they always respond, "little sauce?" so now I just say "little sauce" to save the repetition. I've even learned to say it in Spanish -- "poca salsa" -- saw that written on a pizza receipt once, so I say it in both languages.) But you can't specify when ordering by the slice, so this guy goes back to the counter and asks for a side order of pizza sauce, for which he was charged 75 cents and got half a paper cup full of sauce -- I'd say about four ounces. He proceded to pour it on his pizza slices -- that did not appeal to me.

Had a form of Murphy's Law -- there's probably a name for it -- but it's the law that says if you have plenty of time, there's no traffic, no delays and you get to your destination in record time, but when you're late, everything goes wrong. Remember I had ordered the book Reliable Wife for Barbara for one cent? That was just a few days ago, and it arrived yesterday. I see her on Election Day for lunch, and I figured, even with Media Mail (slow form of mail) that hopefully I will get in by then. Of course, if I had to have it sooner, it would have arrived in mid-November. So Barbara, I've got a book for you. And I spared no expense.

And P.S. so I can make myself accountable: I did throw away the two pairs of pants and the red top when I went outside. They're in the garbage now. Bring on the new!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rodent Wars -- Part 4,299

I had foolishly convinced myself that I got "the last of" the mice on Sunday. Hadn't seen anything or any evidence of them since Sunday. There had been mouse droppings around my kitchen garbage and there were none on Monday and Tuesday -- and this morning.

Tonight about 7 I was in the kitchen and I hear movement in the garbage and sort of chuckle to myself that I'm being paranoid that it's a mouse because I killed the last two living mice on Sunday night, didn't I?

Soon enough, though, it was clear it was a mouse and then it jumped out of the garbage. Oh man.

I decided I have to get (more) serious about this, and spent time researching pest control. Finally decided on a place called Pestaway which was voted New York Magazine Best Exterminator in NYC. It's also eco-friendly. I read the consumer comments and these were slavishly grateful to this company. Most of the comments were about bed bugs and mice.

I did have a moment of gratitude that I have mice and not bed bugs. One comment about a person who had bed bugs began by saying he/she is a neurosurgeon -- it really blows the myth that only poor people and slobs have bed bugs. I can't imagine living with those.

Anyway so rather than calling to discuss, I filled out a form to "order services" and for requested date, I put "first available." There was a space for comments and I wrote my history of mice, my attitude toward them, much like I was talking to a therapist.

This sounds crazy, but how my brain works is I want the mice gone but I don't want any disruption in my life to do this. But now the guy will come and hopefully I chose the right company. I don't think I have ever read such glowing customer comments -- over and over, people talked about how much money they spent on other bad exterminators -- going through 3 and 4 companies before finding Pestaway.

I'm also going to call the building management tomorrow. Someone had asked why I don't make the building do this -- use their exterminator -- but I simply don't trust them. The guy would show up and do a crappy, half-assed job. That I am certain of. So I'd rather spend my own money and be in control and have it done right... but the building management might at least step up their own control in the basement.

To be continued...

Goodbye to Old Clothes

I am going to switch out my summer for winter clothes next week so I've sort of been looking at my clothes with an eye toward what will be thrown away and what may be given to the thrift shop.

Tonight I was folding laundry and noticed a hole about the size of a quarter in a pair of casual pants. I have probably had these pants for three or four years, washed and dried and worn them dozens of times, so I've definitely gotten my money's worth. This is a hole, not a tear so it's not fixable (hey, as if I would mend it...) Just plain worn out.

So the inner debate begins...

chuck them
no, i can still wear them
no you can't
yes i can
yes, i can wear them in my apartment
you don't want to have to check to see are these the ones with the hole
you're not this broke
i know

I folded them, and the next pair are these very lightweight casual pants that are just so darn comfortable, but they do have little pinhole holes so it's time for them to go. But I folded those too.

This sounds crazy, but it's my own personal truth: I didn't want to throw them right then since I had already exerted the effort to fold them. Didn't want to waste the effort.

Then I came upon this red knit shirt -- also ancient, also stained, but it's also so comfortable. Wouldn't wear it out on the street, but I do grab it for a casual weekend day but it's time for that to go as well. This shirt is probably five years old.

Overnight I will come to grips with these three items going out. I am soothed by "out with the old, in with the new." I believe that happens and futher, I don't want to be that old lady who wears stained clothes, even around the house. So I will make way for something new to come into my life.

Monday, October 22, 2012


What does $100 buy? That used to be a big amount of money -- in fact, that amount as a wedding gift was lavish back in the day.

For many years, my weekly grocery bill stayed under that amount, but no more. When it goes over that amount, I look and see what I could do without. Of course, there are things -- I could live without pickles, for example, but then I think, "Really? I can't buy a $3.89 jar of pickles?"

So today I received my two new bras and five pairs of cotton granny panties. Everything was on sale and I got free shipping and yet this was just a dollar or two under $100. Ok, so two bras and five underpants for $100 doesn't sound that bad, but when I look at these things, lying on my bed, still in the package, it sure doesn't look like $100 to me.

God Bless My Neighbor

And I do!

Tonight about 9 o'clock, I hadn't eaten dinner yet so I go upstairs from my bedroom where I'd been watching  TV and there it was -- something in the glue trap. Remember I had thrown away the one trap which I felt had dried and really wasn't glue-y enough, put out a new one which was super sticky.

On Saturday night I was in the kitchen and heard rustle, rustle in the garbage bin which I tried to deny and then could no longer deny and I was frantically looking for something to drop in the garbage pin, instantly grab the plastic liner bag, thus trapping the mouse. In those few seconds of scanning my kitchen (looking for an anvil??) the mouse was too fast for me and jumped out of the trash and scurried away.

This is war.

I changed my tactic and put the trap in a different place. Nothing this morning, but tonight, when I went upstairs, in one second I take in the sight that there was "something" in the trap. I go into my little room where I had a big pack of paper towels and take a new roll. My plan was to bunch up the paper towels, drop it on the glue trap and then sweep it up. I was just shakjing and nervous and clammy. That's how much I hate those little effers.

When I take in my second look to aim for the paper towels, I note that there are two mice in the trap, one dead, one still alive.




I can pick up the trap when the mouse is dead (and have) but not when it's alive, even though I know it is stuck. I couldn't find the super's phone number -- my plan was to call the super and ask him to come over to dispose of it. Alternate Plan B was to leave it and hope that it died overnight. I remembered I had the super's number on my cellphone, but for some reason, everytime I tried the number, I'd get a CALL FAILED notice. I didn't want to use the phone in the kitchen because I'd have to walk past the trap.

So I decide to go out to the mailboxes and get the super's phone number which is hanging there since I wasn't 100% sure which number it was on my cellphone. While out there, my neighbor who lives in the other apartment on my floor is returning and I opened the door for her, she greets me and I say, "Are you afraid of mice?" She looked a little startled but said not really and I told her my problem.

She non-chalantly said Oh, she'd go pick it up for me, opens her apartment door and I'm standing outside trying to convince her that no, really, she doesn't have to do this and she insisted it was really no problem for her. She gets a broom and dust pan and a bag and off she goes. I had left my front door open and told her I'd stay there. She said just tell me where it is. I did. She got it as I'm standing there 50 feet away near tears. When she comes out, I kept saying thank you and said I'd hug her but I don't want to get that close to her (since she was holding the bag), but I did kiss her on her cheek.

She took it out to the garbage and I was so terribly grateful to her. I think tomorrow I'll handwrite a thank you note and put it under her door. It was nothing to her and she said, "Just knock on my door if you need me." Oh my God, I am so grateful.  I [HEART] my neighbor!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday's Photos

First, here's Fran's fall shot of DC. She says: The falling leaves....DC. Beautiful Sunday afternoon,

And now Mary with her "freshly-painted house." The work was started when she was in Orlando, and it looks great. The shutters used to be so dark green that they appeared to be black, but I really like this green much more. The house looks great, Mary! However, you might want to take the ladder and stuff out of the front yard so you don't look like you're next on the list for "Hoarders."

And now back to Fran who is walking over to Mary's to help Mary decide what to do with the side porch (to the left of the door and wrapping around) which Mary is currently having screened in. Here's Fran: who notes: Buddah welcomes fall....taken on Garrison St as I walked over to Mary's foir porch viewing

Back to Mary who reports one of her Christmas cacti is blooming. Could be rushing the season a bit, but it is beautiful. I don't think I ever saw this one blooming. I've seen the one with the little red flowers.


In the photo below, this window is going to turn into a door and will lead from Mary's living room to the soon-to-be screened in porch. This porch has always been a lovely space, but underused since Mary would go to the deck rather than this porch, but the porch will now have furniture and a ceiling fan and it will be a great area. Plus it will open up the living room more. This is a project Mary has wanted to do for years, and I can't wait to see it finished at Christmas. Mary might make us all sit out there shivering, trying to open presents with mittens on, so it gets proper use.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New FDR Monument

It's fairly rare to have a new park in NYC -- I think because there's not much open space. I got an email from my City Councilwoman (who is featured in the photo below) about the new Four Freedoms Park, located on Roosevelt Island. She says:

FDR Four Freedoms Park is expected to open to the public on October 24th. I hope you will take the time to visit. When you do, you will be treated to one of the most breathtaking vistas in the city. Being there - surrounded by water, looking out at the United Nations, reading parts of FDR's Four Freedoms speech -is a moving experience.

From the website: On January 6, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech that shaped this nation, now known as the Four Freedoms speech. He looked forward to a world founded on four human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.   I can't say I was familiar with the speech, but I do remember the Norman Rockwell paintings of each Freedom such as this one -- Freedom of speech:    

Here are the others used in a war bonds poster:

My Favorite Email Today

For work, I am constantly trying to contact people whom I must interview. Today I got a response from one -- and his little typo made my day -- and this is EXACTLY the kind of attitude I deserve. He wrote:


I am currently traveling. Would live to talk to you


I like it when a man states he would LIVE to talk to me! Can you blame him?

Friday, October 19, 2012

What I'm Reading

I forgot why I bought this -- whether through a review or something else. But I am enjoying it -- have read about three chapters worth. It's very lyrical as if someone is telling you a story in a slow way. Here's the description from the jacket:

It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of a few hundred people, nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money.

So far, he's arrived in the town, rented a piece of land along the river to park his truck and live there. He then bought the land for $1000 in cash. He got a job in the butcher store by saying he would work for free for a month to show what a great butcher he is. The butcher brought him home for dinner to meet his wife to see her opinion if he should be hired. There appears to be some sort of electricity between him and the butcher's wife, but it's all vague and mysterious and that's as far as I've gotten.

Now I remember why I bought this book. The author also wrote "A Reliable Wife" which I loved and read in like two days. It's about a man who orders a mail-order wife in rural Wisconsin early in the last century. It turns out to be a very dark story as well. If this interests you at all, I note that Amazon has used copies of this book for 1 cent -- which means you pay something like $2.89 for shipping and handling plus one cent for the book. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weird Facts

I heard on the news today that scientists have discovered that mice sing -- and they sing in melodies. Hmmm, I thought. That doesn't stop me from gluing their four little feet to glue and have them break their backs struggling to free themselves. Let's see -- maybe the mouse could sing "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen" as it tries to get loose. Or "Help me Rhonda" or something.

Just thought of another mouse song: Lionel Richie's "Stuck on You."

Along that same topic, I threw away the glue trap as I think it wasn't glue-y enough. I noticed a mouse dropping on it and then an area that looked disturbed. This glue trap looks like a shallow plastic dish of yellow jello. Anyway, I dumped that one and put out a fresh one so we'll see.

And now, here's a fun fact from Mary which she picked up on the train trip. She writes: Did you know Selma North Carolina is named after Selma Alabama and it was here in 1880 that Vick's ointment was first concocted?

My response is Uh, no. But I do remember my father putting Vicks VapoRub on me when I was about three years old. That stuff stunk.

Stop the presses. UH-OH

Mary is trying to pass off incorrect information. When I went to find a photo, here's what I found:

It's pitiful I have to fact-check my best friend's information. This historic marker is in Greensboro, NC, not Selma, NC.

Here's the caption which accompanies this photo -- it's from the Greensboro newspaper:

Well, it is high time we feature the Richardson family and make sure the world knows that Vicks VapoRub was first compounded in Greensboro in the late 1800's. In 1912 the menthol salve got renamed Vicks VapoRub. The flu pandemic of 1918 really made Richardson's product a household name as it was the most popular croup/cold/flu remedy at the time. Sales of the inhaled breathing treatment soared from $900,000 to $2.5 million in that year. While Proctor and Gamble bought Richardson-Vicks, Inc. in 1985, we are proud to say that America's #1 inhaled breathing treatment got its start in Greensboro, North Carolina. There aren't many commercial products around today that were thriving 100 years ago: VapoRub is one of the elite!

And that, folks, is more than you may have wanted to know about Vicks VapoRub.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mary Heads Back up North

She writes: A couple pictures inside the Orlando station on my way home. I love the curves of these benches. The station was built in 1926 and it feels like that time except for the big screen TV, the ATM, and the Quik-Trak ticketing machine. This would be a lovely place if they did some serious refurbishing.

Mary added later after sitting there for a while:

The more I sit here the more i see how much someone/ some people care about this station. The tile floor is spotless and polished, the benches have a deep lustre to them, and you can see clearly out the big windows. The bathrooms could be modernized but they really take care of this place.

Now Mary signs off for the night -- the salmon apology is that Mary loves it and I hate it, and if there is salmon in any form on a menu -- stew, filet, soup, quiche, sandwich, fried, boiled, baked, on a bed of anything -- lentils, spinach, winter vegetables -- Mary will order it. And, of course, I have to comment on that every time.

She writes:

It was a good conference and now I'm happily on the train heading home. I had salmon for dinner (sorry Pat) and it was pretty good, with rice and vegetables. It started to rain and I have to say that's very pleasant although it's dark already so I can't see much. I think I get in around 4 tomorrow.

Good night from the Silver Star.

Pro Flowers

A friend sent me flowers for my birthday last week from Pro Flowers. This is an overnight delivery. The package arrived at 7 pm and when I opened the box, I have to say I winced. This was really a pitiful looking assortment of flowers. It made me angry that my friend spent good money and this is what I got.

I debated telling him, but then decided it would only hurt his feelings so I just thanked him. As it turned out, the flowers were so pitiful looking because they send blooms which are unopened. I have enjoyed these flowers for one week and one day. I changed the water on Sunday and threw out about 1/3 of the flowers, downgraded to a small container. Here's how they look, and I think I will change the water again, maybe get rid of a stem or two and I think I could have them for another few days.

So which is better? A bouquet that looks amazing on delivery? Or a bouquet that looks bad on delivery but lasts a long time?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Favorite Tweet of the Day

Jenny Johnson ‏@JennyJohnsonHi5

If you don't eat your candy corn in three separate bites starting from the big yellow end to the small white end, you're a communist.

Ok, and looking for a photo of candy corn, I could not resist this... how cute is this? And a real mom made the costume...

From Florida Trees to Florida Birds

Mary says: It's a beautiful day - wish you could see the beautiful white heron by the rocks at the front of the golf course. This almost makes me want to play golf.

Pat says: Mary can play golf, and I'll ride around in the golf cart sipping iced tea.

The bird is sort of camouflaged -- it's right in the middle of the grass that borders the stream.


Mary just wrote me the vignette below. She kept getting an invoice that wasn't hers as she explains:

Do you remember I was getting bills from the Sacramento Utility District (SMUD) and I finally verified it was legit and I wrote them Customerservice@smud or something like that, twice with no result. Finally I just labelled it spam so it didn't annoy me. Come to find out the guy sitting next to me is from SMUD and is responsible for the emails, at least in part. He said to call customer service because they are very responsive. I decided to leave it as spam.

That seems like such an amazing coincidence and it reminds me of one that happened to me. I was in Kansas City for a Western history conference. It was a year or so after 9/11 and I had just read a long article in Vanity Fair about the event. I can't remember how I brought it up, but I mentioned the article, not knowing at all the couple sitting next to me. I told them about the article and this particularly tragic part about some people who worked for Deutsche Bank. The couple looked at me like I was a ghost. Turned out the man worked for Deutsche Bank and was in the building that day. I remember the woman getting all New Agey on me and saying, "You were put here to give him a message."

Well, I had no idea what that message may be. I said maybe the message was in the article and volunteered to bring it to their hotel room which I did.

Two More from Mary

Here's Mary's bed from the train. Looks comfy.

Another view out her window of the hotel.

Storm Clouds in DC from Fran

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meanwhile, Back In Washington

Fran sends this view from her window at the FAA...this almost looks like an oil painting. Very evocative.

More from Orlando

Mary says this is near Jacksonville.

Inside the sleeping car.

This is Mary's hotel room.

Mary says, "Now I know I'm in Florida!"

Mary says: And I'm here! I couldn't believe how big the Disney World properties are. I can't say I'm interested in seeing any of it. My hotel is lovely- It's a combination Hilton and Waldorf Astoria conference center. Guess I should go register for the conference now that I've showered and sent pictures.

Continuing to Orlando

Here's Mary's report.

 Mary writes: Entrance to the room - it's very small and the hallway is very narrow so it's hard to photograph. And we're off!! Right on time! PS the guy is singing "happy birthday minus six hours" to his wife.

I had responded to Mary that I hope Tony (big mouth) turned in early. She responded:

He did. I had an interesting companion after that , a cook from Jamaica who was traveling home from a job in Maine. Nice man. The lamb shanks were delicious. We had mechanical problems that shut off power for about 15 minutes just south of DC but all is well now. I'm going to read for awhile and maybe be rocked to sleep. I' ll try to get a picture of the bed made up but it's hard when you're so close. I don't think you'd be comfortable in roomette - I think your feet might touch the wall. The dining car wasn't bad but when the guy sat beside me, it was very close. I'm lying on the bed now- when i put on my nightgown I'll be happy.

About her dinner, Mary writes: Here's dinner- lamb shanks with a wine and beer sauce was the special and it was very good. My companion had roast chicken which looked good and he said it was. It's plastic dishes and paper tablecloths but real silverware (I mean metal, not plastic). The servers were very nice if a little harried due to the power outage. Had a nice chat with the chef too.

Mary: A little blurry but this is the dining car- it was full when I got there. It's open to anyone but free for people in the sleepers.

Mary: My sink, which folds down out of the wall.

And here's my toilet. It has a lid and is below the sink at an angle I guess to save space. It's close but it works fine with no smell.

The toilet seat looks crooked, but that's the "angle" Mary is talking about.

And now, for the botany. Mary writes: I'm not sure where we are, south of Jacksonville, and for the last hour or so I've been seeing trees with what I think are red berries. We're going too fast to get a picture. Any idea what they might be?

I forwarded this to Amy, long-time Florida resident, who responded: She may be looking at royal poincianas if they have a high crown, feathery leaf structure, and more orangish flowers.

So Mary, here's a Royal Poinciana... is this what you're seeing?

And now it's morning and Mary writes:

I didn't sleep much last night but I enjoyed just lying there listening to the train noises. I had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast, and chicken sausage. My seat mates were a mother and her grown son and another woman. The mother was desperate for a cigarette since it can be hours between stops. I'm so glad I don't smoke anymore. They left and I had a really nice talk with the other woman. She's a hospice aide, originally from Honduras and now in New York. She seemed so compassionate, loves her job and takes her role in people's last days very seriously. She wants to write a book about nursing homes and I hope she does. Now I'm back in my room, the bed is up and my chairs are back and I'm enjoying the scenery.

Late-Breaking News: Amy gets an A in Botany -- I had sent Mary this photo of the tree, and she responded THAT'S IT!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mary's Off to Orlando

I haven't read all of Mary's emails -- I have a bunch of them -- so we'll start at the beginning. This is the view of the First Class Lounge at Union Station. I've been in there a number of times. As I recall a number of years ago, if you had a first-class ticket, you'd go to the lounge and then they'd call you by name and take you on a golf cart (really) to the train car. I think they stopped that practice, except for people with disabilities, but it was nice while it lasted:

 Next is the exterior of the sleeper car which tells me at least she was boarding the train.

First complaint of the trip... Mary writes:

Same problem with all travel. There's a guy right next to me who is too friendly. Name is Tony, traveling with Elizabeth who doesn't speak English very well. They remind me of the couple on Modern Family. Their door is two feet from mine. I already know he has heart trouble, couldn't fly from Denver, likes these cars better than the "new" ones (he means the double decker Superliners that run in the west- they can't get through the tunnels back east but they really aren't new). I'm a curmudgeon and I hope I don't sit with them at dinner...

Uh-oh... so much for live-blogging. Mary writes:

This is one of the last trains to get wi-fi so messages with pictures are going to be expensive. I'll send more pictures when I get to the hotel.

And now back to Tony and Ellizabeth. Mary writes (with the subject line: Please make him shut up):

At least when I get back from dinner i can close the door and the curtain. He's the kind who says everything for the benefit of strangers, so he chides his wife with "oh you tried to reset the thermostat we have in our room you little stinker" with this annoying laugh. So he shows off all hw knows while purportedly talking with his wife.

Ahhh he's quiet.. .

Pat adds: A husband referring to his wife as "you little stinker" is grounds for divorce in my book.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Coming Soon

Mary is going to be taking a train from DC to Orlando in her own little roomette on the train and has promised descriptions and photos for us. I have sometimes thought of taking the train to Florida but it was the same amount of $$ as a first class airplane ticket so you know what I did instead of the train. Anyway, stand by for Sunday's report. Thank you, Mary.

Friday Musings

Had my monthly lunch with Barbara today, and I think we are not good for each other as we both love the routines we have. We go to a limited number of places, always the same, we order the same thing; she always orders first (although I could place the order for her since I know exactly what she wants) and then I order the same thing she does with modifications. For example, she wants coffee; I want Diet Coke. She wants rye toast; I want a toasted bagel.

I got there first and we also have certain tables we always sit at which were taken when I arrived. So I decided to stop being a creature of habit and sit at a table we don't normally sit at. I sat down, and then realized that people from one of our regular tables were leaving. As they were getting up, Barbara came in and I said I was waiting for these people to leave and I had at least tried to break one of our ruts. Barbara insisted it's a good thing we only sit at certain tables.

Anyway, the place was decorated for Halloween, and this was hanging above me:

Home again in a cab, and this is on Second Avenue which is, of course, a big mess. I feel bad for the small stores like this one which are trying to survive, but if it's too much hassle to get there, people are just not going to make the effort.

The usual view from my steps where I sat a while when I got home. It was alternately a sunny day and an overcast one so I thought I should take advantage of the sun while it was out.

Here are some birthday flowers I received -- day 4. You can see one droopy guy, but they're holding up. Tomorrow I'll change the water and get rid of the droopy ones and I think I'll get a few more days out of them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Waiting for the Debate

I confess to having a slight crush on Joe Biden. Don't tell me old men aren't sexy...