Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pete Seeger kissed me on the cheek!

Tonight I went into NYC after work to see Pete Seeger with Sharon Katz and the Peace Train at Joe's Pub in NYC. Sharon Katz was the headliner, but I was mostly interested in seeing Pete Seeger. I went with my friends from Princeton, Amy and Bror, and met Meg there. The venue is really small and we had great seats facing the stage.

Pete was sitting in the audience before he took the stage for only 2 songs. He told us that his voice wasn't too strong anymore and he hoped we could all sing along with him. He lined out the words to "Turn, Turn, Turn" and the audience rose to the occasion with strong voices and harmonies. He then sang a song that he wrote after 9/11 called "Take it From Dr. King". He spoke about the song "Wimoweh" and how he botched the lyrics while he was transcribing them from an old recording of African tunes that Alan Lomax had saved from being destroyed. When he was offered royalties for the song, he decided that the royalties should not go to him, but to the original artist from the recording. So he tracked down that artist and to this day that artist's family still earns royalties on that song. Just another tale of Pete Seeger doing what's right. He left the stage and Sharon Katz and the Peace Train did an great redition of the traditional version of Wimoweh.

After the show, he was sitting near the merch table and I went up to him and told him it was an honor and a pleasure to see him perform and thanked him for all that he's done through the years. I had tears in my eyes and was truly overwhelmed to be in the presence of such an amazing man. I leaned in to give him a hug and he kissed me on the cheek and said "Thank you" to me. Then Bror took a photo of Amy and I with Pete Seeger:

It's not the best photo in the world, but it was such a moment to remember. What an amazing evening.

BONUS: On the way home we took the 6 train to 14th street and then the express up to Penn Station and while we were in the 14th street station I got to hear the "Somewhere" train. I was so excited! This article from the NY Times explains it all. Be sure to listen to the audio.


Well folks, it has finally happened: My car reached 100,000 miles this morning.

I usually walk to work, but this morning I drove in because I'm heading to NYC after work and I know I'll be home late and will appreciate my car being parked close to the train station for a quick ride home instead of a 35 minute walk.

When I moved to Princeton I was adamant that I wanted to live within walking distance to work. I have a love/hate relationship with my car and being able to walk to work makes that balance a little more even.

So here's the LOVE side of that relationship: I love a good road trip - as is evidenced by the 700+ miles I logged this past weekend. I love driving on the open road, I love listening to the radio and singing along at the top of my lungs or getting lost in my thoughts as I watch the scenery fly by. I also appreciate being able to drive to the grocery store or the garden center when I know I'm going to pick up something heavy. And being in NJ - the land of the Turnpike and the Parkway - there is no better way to get to see my family than hopping in the car. There is no doubt that there is a sense of freedom that a car offers, and I appreciate that fact.

On the flip side: I HATE driving in traffic. There are few things that make me more annoyed than sitting bumper to bumper in traffic. I hate that a car (even my little 35 Highway MPG Corolla) is not environmentally friendly. I hate finding parking. It's such a victory when you do score good parking, but the search can be infuriating and time consuming. I hate the extra cost - gas, insurance, upkeep, etc... that goes along with owning a car even if the car itself has been paid off.

I also LOVE being a pedestrian. I love having the right of way at the crosswalk (as is the law in both MA and NJ) and staring down cars that try to cross my path. This has almost gotten me killed a few times, but drivers need to be educated in the ways of the pedestrian (especially in Princeton). I love that walking doesn't leave you worrying about what time the meter will run out because obviously you don't need to find parking.

Since I knew living in NJ was going to have me sitting behind the wheel for lots of other reasons, I decided that I wanted to be able to walk to work. It gives me time to think, time to breathe the air, notice the flowers and say hello to my fellow pedestrians and the crossing guards that are there for the school kids. It brings me to work not stressed out, but rejuvinated (unless I'm running late and I had to sprint in). I hope in the future that I'm able to continue walking to work.

Growing up we had a well-loved and often-watched VHS tape with various Disney movies and shorts. One of the shorts was called Motor Mania. I think it sums up a lot of the reasons why I like walking to work, and also some of my frustrations with driving. This version includes a little intro, but the entire short follows:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On the Move - Part 1

It's official: Sylvie and Miriam have moved to DC! Their movers came this morning and packed them all up and they got on the road this afternoon, heading from Boston to DC. Conveniently, Princeton isn't too far from I-95 so I had a chance to meet up with them at a pizza place near the highway. We had a great dinner and got to catch up in person, which was quite a treat. It's an exciting time for them and I wish them all the best in their new home with many new adventures ahead!

My friends Ann and Lee will have their own moving adventure next week. They are planning on stopping by Princeton on their way TO Boston, so keep an eye out for "On the Move - Part 2".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day with the Family

After a long drive, I got to my parents' house around 4 o'clock. Liam, Mo, and Mo's mom, John, Jill and their boys and my parents were all in the backyard enjoying the lovely day, each other's company and yummy snacks. Dan and his son John showed up a couple hours later after driving from Grammy's house. They stopped there on the way home from the Indianapolis 500, which they go to every year.

We spent the afternoon chatting, snacking, and the boys went in the pool (it was freezing!). We also busted out some baseball gear since both Nathaniel and John are on little league teams right now. Nathaniel really liked putting on all the catcher's gear.

Emmy liked getting in on the action, too. Soon he'll be big enough to be on a team:

After a lovely grilled dinner with side-salads galore we had two treats - key lime pie and watermelon! Here is Emmy, me and John, who is showing off his huge watermelon smile.

It was great to get to see everyone again so soon after Mo's graduation. It was a beautiful day and everyone had a good time.

Steel City

After having such a lovely visit with my Grammy, I headed into Pittsburgh to meet up with Jay. I got to his house and we headed out to the Duquesne Incline for a beautiful nighttime view of the city. I had read about the incline in a NY Times article and was excited to see the view for myself. It was a beautiful night and it was actually pretty crowded, so we decided not to ride the trolley, but just to enjoy the view.

We drove down the hill and through the city and ended up at Point State Park where the rivers meet and had a great view looking back up the hill at the Incline. And since it was such a warm night we decided to go get ice cream at Oh Yeah! where you can add things into your ice cream. I got pretzels, peanut butter and banana blended into vanilla ice cream. It was really good. Jay got some crazy mixture that involved grape jelly and some sort of breakfast cereal. It sounded kind of gross, but he liked it.

We had big plans for Sunday and got an early start by heading down to the Warhol Museum. This is something I've been wanting to see for quite a while and it was totally worth it. You weren't allowed to take photos in the museum, except in the activity area, but my favorite part was a piece called Silver Clouds. It was truly magical.

They had a screen printing demonstration going on, so Jay and I painted our little templates and then got to screen print over them - just like Warhol! Here they are before the ink:

And after:

It's hard for me to see a cardboard cut out and not get a photo with it, so here I am with Mr. Warhol:

After the Warhol Museum, we headed to another museum called The Mattress Factory. It's housed in an old mattress factory and it has huge gallery spaces. The most impressive and memorable part for me was on the 2nd floor where they have permanent installations of James Turell pieces that are created by light, so the whole floor is pretty much dark. The art creates optical illusions and it was fun to figure out how it worked.

This is an installation piece where you have to take off your shoes to walk inside of it:

So after taking in so much art, we decided to head to the National Aviary. This was a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed feeding the Lories. At one point I had 3 of them on my arm. It was really quite exciting:

They also have a newly opened penguin exhibit called Penguin Point and one of the coolest features is that they have these little tunnels where you can poke your head up in the middle of the exhibit. Here's Jay getting an up-close view of the penguins:

And on our way back to the car we stopped to see some of the outside exhibits including a California Condor. When we got to the cage he was just sitting there and I started asking him to open his wings (since they're kind of famous for their enormous wing span) and lo and behold, about a minute later he was sitting there with his wings open. This isn't even as wide as they get, but you get the idea that this is a HUGE bird:

After the Aviary we drove to the Pitt Campus to see The Cathedral of Learning. It's a really tall, beautiful building.

And this is a shot of the inside, which offers space for students to study and hang out. There are also classrooms and offices in the building.

We decided to head to Monroeville for an amazing Indian dinner at Udipi Cafe. We ordered so much food and all of it was wonderful.

Sri Venkateswara Temple is just down the road and many people come from very far to see the temple, and then conveniently stop by the restaurant for dinner. There were cars in the restaurant parking lot from Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Here is a view of the Temple:

After seeing the Temple we played a round of Mini Golf (Jay won) and then went home and played Scrabble (I won). It was an amazingly full day and I had so much fun! There are still things on my To Do List for Pittsburgh, but I feel like I did everything I could do in the short time I had to spend in town.

On Monday morning we had a nice breakfast and then I headed out to drive to my parents' house for a Memorial Day BBQ. On the way I noticed a billboard on I-76 for a vegetarian/vegan deli called Maggie's, so I had to take a small detour. It's off of Exit 91 in Donegal, about 2 or 3 miles from the highway in the middle of farm country, but it's totally worth it! I got a lovely fresh brewed iced tea and some rice salad to have for lunch on my drive. I'll have to remember it's there the next time I'm in the area.

I logged over 700 miles in the car this weekend, which is a little bit much, but it was totally worth it!

Time with Grammy

I decided to take the long weekend and drive out to the Pittsburgh area to see my 91-year-old Grammy and then to hang out in the city with my friend, Jay. I left Princeton on Saturday morning and got to Grammy's in Jeannette around 3 o'clock. I was excited to see her new kitchen (which was just completely redone, for the first time in the house's 65 year existence). It really is beautiful, and such a change from the old kitchen! Although I have to admit that I sorta miss the old red and white checkered linoleum flooring.

Our big outing was to go and get our nails done! Grammy got a manicure (bright red, as usual) and I treated myself to a pedicure since it's already sandal-season in NJ. It was a lovely little trip and both of us were happy with the results.

Once we got home, we enjoyed the afternoon sitting on the front porch and chatting. Grammy has a nest of baby birds in her birdhouse and it was fun to see them so excited about being fed.

After sitting on the porch we went inside and looked at some old photo albums. Grammy told me about the people in the photos and I wrote down everything she said and slid the paper into the front of each album. It was fun to go through these old photos and see her groups of friends and talk to her about when she was growing up and how she met my Gramps. After seeing his high school graduation photo she said "Oh Boy, was he handsome! It's amazing no one at high school snatched him up!" Which then prompted me to ask her how they met (they both worked at McKee Glass in Jeannette). It's always interesting to me to hear her talk about her life.

I stayed for dinner and lemon mirangue pie and then headed out to meet up with Jay, about half an hour away in Pittsburgh.

Grammy lives on the biggest hill! This is my car parked outside her house:

Friday, May 22, 2009

MOMA, and Mike's Birthday Dinner

Last weekend I drove into Brooklyn and parked my car near the restaurant where we had plans for Mike's 30th birthday dinner. I took the F train all the way up to MOMA and spent the day wandering around the museum. It was my first time to the new building and it was very enjoyable.

The courtyard/sculpture garden was especially nice. Don't you like how this woman's hair blends into the white wall?

I really enjoyed this piece. It's called "You Can't See the Forest For the Trees" by Marcel Odenbach. It was lovely to look at from far away...

...and made even more interesting by a closer look:

Here is a huge self-portrait by Chuck Close in the lobby of the Education Center. At the bottom of the photo you can see books in a display case showing part of the collection from the library at the museum.

A wall of Warhol Cows, also in the Education Center:

They were installing a few new shows. It was interesting to see how much is involved in moving art from one place to another.

It's really a lovely building and worth checking out if you're ever in NYC.

Right around the corner from the museum was Radio City Music Hall and a street festival going on. It was cool to walk down the middle of the street and get the feel of the cavernous buildings.

After the enjoying the museum and the street fair I headed back to Brooklyn on the F train and met up with Mike, David, Kim, her Mike and Nina for a lovely dinner celebrating Mike's 30th Birthday.

Another great day in NYC!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Back on Track

OK folks - there's a lot to read in the following posts. But I'm finally back on track and seem to have the internet working again at home! woo-hoo!


Montclair Jaguars

Nathaniel's little league team is known as the Montclair Jaguars! I had the pleasure of being able to stop by the last few innings of the game yesterday. It was a foggy morning, but nothing was going to stop these kids from having a good time. Nathaniel and his teammates did a good job hitting and fielding, and most of all seemed to have a good time doing it.

Here is Nathaniel with one of his teammates on the bench:

Here is Nathaniel and the team getting their assignments for the field:

My brother is one of the coaches and did a great job letting everyone have a turn in all of the positions.

Nathaniel looking ready to play:

And what a great hit! This is coach-pitch, so they usually have balls they can hit and this was no exception. Nathaniel really whacked this one and made it to first base with no problem. He eventually made it around the bases to score a run.

And at the end of the game, both teams lined up to tell each other "Good Game". It was a good game and I'm sure this is the first of many games that I'll see Nathaniel play. He really enjoys the sport and he's good at it, too.

Trenton Thunder vs. Portland Sea Dogs

Kind of like Yankees vs. Red Sox, but double-A.

On Wednesday evening my friend Karen and I headed out to a Trenton Thunder game! It was my first time at this park, and it was a lot of fun. It was a little chillier than we hoped, but it was still a nice evening. It was as much fun to watch the game as to watch the shenanigans between the innings. Between every inning they had some sort of game that involved bringing fans out onto the field. The best was the dizzy bat race where they had two adults put their nose on the top of a baseball bat and then spin around it for a minute and then attempt to race to the finish line. As soon as they were finished spinning, and started to head toward the finish line, both promptly fell over from extreme dizziness. I surprised they didn't throw-up. Other games included a ball toss, mini-golf challenge, and a mascot race around the bases. But the fan favorite was clearly the bat-dog. In the first inning the Thunder have a golden retriever trained to run out and get the bats once the batters are finished at the plate. I assumed this would continue after the first inning, so I missed my chance at a photo.

There were also some interesting folks in the stands. Like this guy who was tracking the speed of every pitch:

Here is a view of the little stadium. The two folks in front of us were die hard Thunder fans. They kept track of every pitch, they had hats that were signed by the players, people came up to them and chatted about not just baseball, but family things, too. It was obvious that they were season ticket holders and institutions in their own right.

We left after the 7th inning stretch since it was getting colder than we expected, but it was a fun evening. The Sea Dogs (the Red Sox AA team) was losing when we left. And even though I wore my Red Sox hat to the game, it was fun to see the home team winning for their fans.

Start of the Growing Season

So here is my community garden plot. It's about 10' x 11' and I have big plans! In the front corner I have orange and red bell pepper plants, next to that is a mound with yellow summer squash, the rows next to that are full of carrot seeds. The rows behind that have little arugula seedlings in them and then 4 different types of tomatoes where the cages are. I also have some sunflower seeds planted and I'm hoping to squeeze in cucumbers and bush beans, too! I also have herbs and one tomato plant growing on my front porch.

I'm hoping for a good growing season. But the plot was a little rougher around the edges than I expected. There are TONS of rocks in the soil, and not just rocks, but glass shards, plastic bags, old row coverings and all kinds of random stuff. You can tell that they pretty much just plowed over a big empty lot and didn't think too hard about actually growing plants there. But I'm up for the challenge! Where I planted the carrots, I spent about an hour just loosening up the dirt and pulling out every little (and big) rock that I could find. I hope they turn out OK, and if nothing else, it'll be an interesting experiment.

I'm looking forward to keeping track of how things progress in the garden. Stay tuned for updates!

Celebratory Syracuse!

The weekend of May 8-10 was quite a busy one! The entire family headed to Syracuse to celebrate my sister-in-law Maureen's graduation from SU's School of Education. Mom and Dad picked me up in Princeton on Friday afternoon and we got to enjoy each other's company for the 4+ hour drive to the hotel outside of Syracuse. Once we checked in, I convinced them to head over to Erie Blvd. to have dinner at one of my favorite Syracuse restaurants (and the first place I had Thai food), Erewan Thai! It was delicious! The spring rolls were every bit as fresh as I remembered them from my undergrad, and the sauce that goes with them is like no other.

On Saturday morning we headed over to Manley Fieldhouse for Mo's convocation. We got their early enough to get good seats and I had so much fun sitting with my nephews John and Liam:

They were both so proud to see their mom graduate. At one point Liam said "They're all wearing funny hats!". It was a lovely ceremony, Don McPhereson was the speaker and the graduate student speaker did a great job, too. The boys were very patient, but we all clapped and shouted when Mo's name was called and she walked across the stage:

Here she is, processing out after the convocation - obviously proud of getting to this moment! Congrats, Mo!

Here's a photo of everyone from our family who attended the ceremony. It was a little bit windy, so the hair isn't looking too great, but you can tell we were all pretty happy. L-R Dad, Liam, Dan, Mo, Mom, John and me.

After the ceremony we all headed back to my Aunt Marianne's house to celebrate not only Mo's graduation, but John's 8th birthday, which happened to fall on the same day! John and Jill and their kids met us out at the house for the party. The ceremony would have been too long for Emerson and Sebastian to sit through, so they decided just to come out for the celebration. Here is a great photo of Nathaniel and John the Birthday Boy! They are such good friends even though they don't get to see each other more than once or twice a year. It's great to see them together.

We also celebrated Mother's Day at Aunt Marianne's! We had an awesome lunch catered by Dinosaur BBQ (Mo's favorite) and two seperate cakes - one that said Happy Birthday, John! and one that said Congratulation Maureen! It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and evening.

On Sunday morning we headed over to the Carrier Dome for the University-wide commencement ceremony. It was full of pomp and circumstance! I've been to quite a few of these ceremonies at Syracuse (for friends while I was an undergrad, my own in 2000, for Mom when she got her Masters in 2003 and now for Mo). We had good seats and got to see Mo march in right in front of where we were sitting. She was beaming! I cheered loudly when Newhouse was announced and Mom was excited to see the School of Information Sciences proudly represented.

The speaker was Joe Biden, who is an alum of SU Law School, and he did a nice job. It was everything you'd expect from Joe - very down to earth, he talked about his family and his time at SU and of course encouraged the graduates to go out into the world and take advantage of this unique moment in history to change the world for the better. It was a good speech and I'm glad I got to see it.

After the ceremony we all went down onto the turf at the Dome to congratulate Mo and get some photos. Well, my brother Dan was so proud of Mo that he grabbed her and dipped her, and wouldn't you know that a local newpaper photographer, Dennis Nett, was there to get the whole moment. It was very sweet and made it onto the newspaper's website:

After leaving the Dome, we walked through campus and took some photos here and there. Mom got a shot in front of the new iSchool:

Dan and Mo got a shot in front of the Hall of Languages:

And here are the three SU grads in front of the Hall of Languages:

We ended up having lunch at Aladdin's (another of my favorite Syracuse restaurants) and then headed out of town from there. It was quite a whirlwind weekend, but tons of fun and totally worth the drive to be able to celebrate together and see so much of my family in one place.

Congrats, Mo! Happy Birthday, John! Happy Mother's Day!