Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's a Bird. It's a Plane. it's a Park.

Last week found me in my ancestral homeland--New Jersey--for my dad's birthday. After the big event, Older Daughter and I took the bus to NYC, where my sisters and niece joined us. Did the island of Manhattan tremble when the O'Deas landed? Nah, that was a train passing underground.

Times Square pulsed with tourists, costumed characters, conventioneers, and the occasional New Yorker caught in the madness. The blocks around Penn Station and Herald Square bustled. 

I like the energy and the opportunities for people-watching but needed a respite from noise and crowds. I found it about thirty steps above the city streets.

At nine on Monday morning, I shared the High Line with a few tourists and three groundskeepers. The High Line's a linear park built on a long-unused railroad trestle that extends from Gansevoort Street to West 30th at 10th Avenue. (Another northernly extension of the park is underway.)

I believe in re-using and re-adapting existing structures. The High Line celebrates its history with lush plants tucked between railroad tracks, but it's beautiful and important in its own right. Benches invite strollers to linger and enjoy the flowers, glimpses of the Hudson River, the sky, and the skyline.

I saw this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

My walk began in one neighborhood and ended in another so different from the first I could have been in another city.  That's my idea of a two-fer.

This trip showed me a park doesn't have to exist at ground-level. A green oasis awaits a couple of stories above the street.

Your turn: Have you discovered a rooftop garden or pocket park in an unexpected place? Have you walked the High Line? Share, please. I want to fill my bucket list with out-of-the-way green spaces. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

Roughly a month ago, fellow blogger Jansen Schmidt surprised and honored me  with the Sunshine Award. (Does she believe I have a sunny disposition? Clearly, she's never been a passenger in a car driven by me.) 
Jansen Schmidt is the nom de plume of my friend Patricia Rickrode. Patricia's talented in many areas: she's a writer, a stage actress, a Disney World/Disneyland aficionado who knows the parks inside out, a travel expert, and president of the Sacramento chapter of RWA. You'll find her blog here: Here's her Sunshine Award post:
According to Jansen/Patricia, the Sunshine Award is best enjoyed when shared with others. Here are its rules:
Include the award’s logo (and rules) in a post on your blog. Simply cut and paste the photo at the top left into your own blog post.
Link to the person who nominated you.
Answer the ten questions below with your answers instead of mine.
Pass the award on to a bunch of “Sunshine Inspiring” bloggers.

Here are the questions:
Favorite Color:  Magenta (I wear this color but don't live with it. My house has a lot of cream, sage green, and pops of orange. In short, I clash with my house.)
Favorite Animal:  Cat 
Favorite Number:  Uh oh. I can't reveal this as I've used it in too many passwords
Favorite Non Alcoholic Drink:  Coffee. How I love it.
Favorite Alcoholic Drink: Red wine
Facebook or Twitter:  Neither
Passions:  Writing, reading, traveling, trip-planning, cooking, Zumba 
Prefer Getting or Giving Gifts:  Giving.
Favorite City:  I like something about every city I've visited. Favorites include San Francisco, New York, Charleston, San Antonio, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Munich, Uzes, France, Ennis, Ireland, Passau, Germany, and I could go on and on. 
Favorite TV Show:  Top Chef, Project Runway, Call the Midwife
And now, here are my nominations for the Sunshine Award:
Linda Barrett blogs about starting over, a subject she understands. She moved halfway across the country twice, traded traditional publishing for self-publishing, and is a two-time breast-cancer survivor.
Fiorella Plum is the pen name of an Austin-area writer. Her daily (you read that right) posts are short but wide-ranging. Fio writes about people in the news, her dog's obedience-training mishaps, amateur theatricals, Texas politics, and the armadillos plowing through her garden.
I write and read women's fiction and have a soft spot for British or Irish writers like Maggie O'Farrell, JoJo Moyes, Rachel Joyce, and the late Maeve Binchy. That said, science-fiction writer Lynette Burrows is responsible for wrenching me from Aga stoves to space-landing equipment, and from Devon to Mars via her blog, Of Martians and Marshmallows. By day, Lynette cares for the tiniest, most fragile babies. By night, her imagination sends her into space.  

My thanks, again, to Jansen/Patricia for brightening my day with an award I aspire to earn.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Hissing Contest

Lucky and the "gateway purse"

A couple of Sundays ago, I went outlet-mall shopping with my grown daughters. One of them was headed to a special wedding and needed an equally special dress. 

We found the perfect garment and were celebrating our success over lemonade and ice tea when Older Daughter noticed my new purse, a gift from a friend. "Let me see," she said, leaning in for a better look. The purse is a shoulder bag made of fabric that has the look of a tribal print. It's eye-catching. In the center are two stylized cat figures. 

"It's a gateway purse," Older Daughter said.

"A gateway purse?" 

She nodded. "If you're not careful, pretty soon you'll be wearing cat earrings and cat pins."

Younger Daughter laughed so hard, she snorted iced tea out her nose. 

"I don't have cat earrings or pins," I said. Something about the expression gateway purse danced at the edge of my memory.

Of course! Roughly two decades ago, I'd described cigarettes as a gateway drug to Older Daughter. At the time, I'd have adopted a look of concern identical to the one she wore now. I probably spoke in the same uber-serious tone. 

"I suppose you think my Eccos are gateway shoes," I said. Older Daughter hates my sensible, black, great-for-walking-on-cobbled-street flats.

Clothes and accessories bond and divide mothers and daughters. When she was thirteen, I'd argue with Older Daughter about her skirt lengths and taste in clothes. In retrospect, her choices showed she was growing up and changing. My protests showed I wanted her to stay my little girl.

"I like my gateway purse," I said. 

"It's fine," she said, "just don't start wearing cat tee shirts."

Inside every middle-aged person is a thirteen-year-old rebel, and mine now wants a cat tee shirt. When Older Daughter sees me in it and narrows her eyes, I'll say: "But everybody's wearing it."

Mothers change, too. And payback's a saucer of cream.

Your turn: which of your possessions/items of clothing triggers the most scorn from the younger generation?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July! Once a year, preferably today, I wish all Americans would re-read the Declaration of Independence. Here are four reasons why:

1.) It offers a mission statement that inspires and is free of self-congratulation: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." I don't know about you, but today, I'm going to worry less about cole slaw and potato salad recipes and more about voting rights.

2.) Thomas Jefferson (the Declaration's chief writer) spells out the reasons that compelled the colonists to break with Great Britain. Today, I resolve not to shoot off my mouth without explaining how I formed my opinions. Oh, and I'll listen to what others have to say.

3.) The signers of the Declaration didn't act rashly. They tried to work from within, but their attempts to petition for redress, warn, remind, and appeal failed. Today, if conversation at the picnic table turns to politics and an argument erupts, I'll offer to mediate. 

4. ) The men who signed the Declaration risked retaliation, yet, to support the Declaration, they pledged to each other their "Lives, Fortunes and …sacred Honor." They had skin in the game. Today, I'm going to write to my congressman about something I feel strongly about. I will not change his mind, but I'll change my attitude from helpless looker-on to someone who acts on her beliefs, albeit in a small way.

When people talk politics at your house, do you raise your voice, raise your hand, take cover in another room, or put on your running shoes and prepare for a long evening? 

Happy Independence Day!