Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ Tag

Could This Be Why I Don’t Shop at Macy’s?   5 comments

I know Macy’s has great sales, not only because my friends rave about the bargains they find there, but because I used to partake of them over the years. What stopped me was a problem with my Macy’s card. The problem was not my credit, but for some reason I was unable to activate my new card over the phone. That alone tells you how long ago that glitch occurred since if it were today, I’d have activated it online. Eventually they stopped sending me their sale fliers and coupons, and we parted amicably. I never looked back because for some reason I was never crazy about shopping there. Maybe it was the waiting in line at the cash registers scattered around the various departments. Or maybe it was the necessity of having to go to the mall. I am not a fan of malls.

Well I was recently on 34th street passing THE Macy’s yes, the one from the classic movie, Miracle on Main Street; the one that hosts the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, floats, and balloons; the original Macy’s famed for being the largest department store in the world. Needless to say it can not fit in a mall since it takes up an entire square block.


Upon seeing the entrance, I had a flashback that revealed to me the root of my Macy “problem”. This store was the bane of my early childhood existence! Back in the early days when I was still an only child, which meant younger than five, my mother would regularly drag me down to 34th Street to “go shopping.” We’d have to walk nine blocks to the subway, (but that wasn’t the part I hated) then ride 129 blocks underground. That’s eight stops if you’re counting. I wasn’t, but I was asking “Are we almost there yet.” (Nope, that’s not what I hated either.)

Finally we’d emerge into the daylight of Thirty-fourth Street and make our way into the store. It seems like it was always crowded, even though it was usually a weekday morning. (Nope the crowds didn’t bother me either). It was the fashion faux pas, my mother visited on me.

As soon as we emerged from the revolving door, she’d take my coat off, but leave my leggings on. Leggings back then referred to the heavy wool pants that were part and parcel of  the matched set that also included a matching hat. That’s what I  hated –  I wanted to keep my coat on like all the grownups, but there I was walking around with my dress stuffed into a suspendered overall type pants. But my mother had a theory. If I kept the coat on, my body would get used to it and when we went out into the cold once again, I’d feel cold. But I noticed she didn’t mind “getting used” to her coat.

This looks like a Sunday coat, and since stores didn’t open on Sundays back then, it couldn’t have been a shopping coat, and I’m probably younger here than the days I’m talking about – but look at the leggings. Get the picture?


If walking around unfashionably clad  was the beginning of my, as she liked to put it, crankiness, (a word often applied to me, especially at nap time and bedtime), it was reinforced by having to wait until she’d bought everything else before going up to the fourth floor or the fifth floor. One held the children’s shoe department and the other, the toy department. I regarded them both as sources of joy, and perhaps enjoyed buying shoes even more than a toy. (Some things never change!)

But n-o-o-o-o. I had to  wait until last. Another one of my mother’s theories was I’d be less of a pest if I had to wait. Pest was another word often applied to moi.  The reasoning behind this was, once I had what I came for, I’d suggest “Let’s go have lunch”. Well, maybe it was more like whine, so if she saved my shopping until last, she’d be able to shop in peace.

Once her mission was accomplished, we’d either have a hot dog and orangeade at Nedicks, an indoor stool and counter. If I recall, that’s all they sold; at any rate it was a New York icon in the Fifties and Sixties.

No more Nedicks! Today, it’s a


Sometimes we’d go across the street to the 5 & 10, as we called Woolworth’s, where we’d also have a hot dog, but a coke instead of an orange drink.

No  more 5 & 10. Today, it’s a


Although  lunch was fun, it remains overshadowed by the shopping. But you know how they say  misery loves company ? Well, about thirty years later I discovered I was not alone. The man to whom I was once married, upon hearing my tale of woe, assured me that he was there too and he was very surprised I hadn’t seen him.”I was the one tagging after my mother,” he told me crying.” the one crying.”

I wish I’d asked him if he had to take off his coat!



An Attitude of Gratitude   3 comments

An attitude of gratitude, that’s the philosophy I find myself embracing lately. A prime example is when I turned on the TV a week ago Sunday and saw the  news accounts of the tragic train accident on the  Metro North Railroad . Since the Hudson Line is the line I take in to the city, I identified viscerally. Thinking of the four people killed I found the same haunting thoughts echoing through my mind as had when I’d heard about the workers in the Twin Towers or the students and teachers  at Sandy Hook. They left home, thinking it was going to be a day like any other…….but they never came back.

I come back again and again, and I don’ t take it for granted.

My thoughts were with those people this weekend. I was attending a party in Manhattan Friday night, and going back again Sunday morning to  meet my friend, CM for our annual museum visit and lunch. Readers of this blog know that normally I’d be kicking  up my heels in joy to be traveling to the city twice in one weekend. And I was, although perhaps my kick was a little lower. I wasn’t afraid of traveling that stretch of track so soon after operations resumed. I was just respectful.

And while I waited for the train I took in the beauty of the Hudson. Yes, even in winter:

DSCN1056OK I cheated and waited in the warmth of the overhead waiting area.

DSCN1057I enjoyed the southern view

DSCN1055I enjoyed the beauty of the old station

DSCN1054I noticed the flag was flying at half staff for Nelson Mandela

DSCN1059I almost missed the train!

DSCN1064From the train, I appreciated  the soon to be replaced Tappan Zee Bridge, and was grateful for all the times I’ve driven across it safely – especially that time in 1969 when the wind blew my VW into the next lane.

DSCN1080I appreciated that I arrived safely at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

DSCN1081And that once again got a chance to see the treeDSCN1083And the precious 18th century figurines beneath it.

And most of all…..

DSCN1086I was grateful to arrive back at the Peekskill Train Station safe and sound.



Virginia, I’m Surprised at You!   4 comments

“Virginia, I’m surprised at you!”

Oh how I hated those words back in elementary school. When the good nuns said that, it made me want to do something even worse than whatever it was I’d done to provoke their disapproval. It made me feel I was some kind of goody-goody, and what could be worse to a 4th grader’s street credentials?

Well, see this?


This has had me surprised at myself for two weeks. I should have know better.

Little Marble and I were playing with a string. The cat is obsessed with strings. So when I dangled a tantalizing string in front of him, in a millisecond he sprang  waist-high and grabbed it out of my hand.  Unfortunately, at the highest point of his leaping swipe, one  of his needle-sharp claws, punctured my index finger. It hurt, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve been speared in my 40 years of  living  with cats.

That was Tuesday, the week before last.  Witness my thoughts of the next few days

Wednesday: Hmm,  this finger still hurts, and it’s kind of warm.

Thursday:  Look how red that finger is! I  think it’s swollen, and it feels really warm.  Is it swelling? I wonder if I should go to the doctor. Naah!

Friday:  Man, this still hurts, but  it hasn’t gotten any worse. Translation: I won’t call the doctor.

Saturday: Owee-ooch -ch-ch ( Have you ever noticed how many times you hit your finger in the course of a day? I hadn’t – not until it brought forth burning pulsing throughout my whole hand.) Maybe I should have called the doctor yesterday.

I was weighing my options by now.

I really don’t want to go to the Emergency Room………….. I  guess I could call the doctor’s office. After all,  the message does say “If this is an emergency, press 1. 

I was meeting  R in the city, for a  walk on Manhattan’s  High Line and dinner. That would take my mind off my finger. And it did. But I got an idea of how it looked when, from across the dinner table, he asked “What did you do, catch your finger in the car door?”

(Full disclosure: I did take a photo, but I don’t want to sicken you. )

Saturday night’s thoughts: You  know I think this is abscess,

                                                                          I don’t like that blue, black, and purple.

                                                                                     Is gangrene only green?

                                                                                             Sniff, sniff. It doesn’t smell.

                                                                                                   Monday’s 36 hours away. That’s not too long.

Sunday: This doesn’t look good at all. That abscess has grown. 23 hours to Monday.

Owch-ee-ooc-chee.  @#!!!&$# door jamb!

I had lunch with C & D in the Bronx but  I managed to conceal it from them. I knew C would make me go to the hospital.

Sunday night:  Only 12 more hours

Well, to make what’s becoming a very long story excruciating. The doctor’s receptionist did squeeze  me into his schedule And guess what he did? He took one looks and …………..


So why was I surprised at myself? It’s a double whammy

  • #1 Years and years ago, I was a licensed animal health technician  in California. Treating cat abscesses was a daily occurrence. Cats fight. Even when they play, they fight.  Cat A’s claw punctures Cat B’s skin. The skin closes over the puncture but the damage is already done and bacteria is left behind  to grow and fester. So not only did I know all along what was happening, I recalled that assisting at a lancing and drainage was most rewarding since the results could be seen immediately.
  • #2 Even though he was a hulking king of whatever neighborhood we lived in, my dear huge boy Fremont incurred an abscess or two from lesser upstarts. And the moment I’d notice a swelling – we were off to the vet in an instant.

So the moral of my story?  Do unto yourself as you do to your pets,


Posted September 24, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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A Familiar Sight   2 comments

Alas I  have no pictures this week. That’s because the topic at hand may, or may not be all in my head.  If you recall a few weeks ago I lamented about not having my camera with me when I saw an honest-to-goodness, gen-yoo-ine Pink Cadillac like Bruce Springsteen sang about. If you missed that post take a look.

Well, this is getting spooky. Last Friday I was setting out on my daily lunchtime walk around the office park where I work, and while I was still in the lobby  what should glide past the glass double doors but –  the elusive Pink Cadillac. I ran out but it had disappeared around the corner.

Yeah yeah, I can hear you. “Virginia, it’s all in your head.” Spare me, I grew up hearing that. Let’s not go there

On second thought – let’s do go there – to my high school years. I used to leave for high school early. Living in New York City, specifically Manhattan, meant you were on your own getting to school. Sure you got a reduced fare bus pass but there were  no school buses except for the disabled. What this meant for me since I lived on West 150 street and my high school was on East 75 street, was that I had to take two buses, a downtown one and then a crosstown one. And since the home room bell rang at 8:25, I had to catch the 7:30 downtown bus.

So there Iwas at 7:20, walking sleepily down 150 Street toward the bus stop on the corner when a pack of stray dogs came trotting out of a courtyard I was passing.
“Don’t run, don’t run,” I reminded myself but still I picked up my pace, and they went their way, and I, mine. And oh yes, they were led by a majestic looking German Shepherd type with a snowy white coat.

I began to encounter them at least once a week and although I took more notice of them than they did of me, they were beginning to spook me – especially the ghostly white leader of the pack but when I’d bring up the incident at dinner, since none of my family had ever encountered this canine phenomena, I’d get the standard response, “Virginia, you’re imagining things – it’s all in your head.”

They may have thought it was funny, but I didn’t. Well, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, they wouldn’t have  Virginia to kick around much longer. I’d soon be heading off to college. And what do you think happened when I did? They moved! Fortunately they told me where – to the Northeast Bronx. And they acquired my replacement – Duke, a sweet pupp-a-roo. Yes, Duke was sweet through and through, but he had a Napoleon complex toward any dog bigger than him. Being a medium size dog himself, this meant he was a war with a sizable portion of the canine population.

One morning while home for some break or other, I was walking Duke when what should come walking down the street towards us but  a pack of dogs –  led by – yep, a white German Shepherd!  I managed to shake off the paralysis of shock in time to realize, not only was EL  Blanco bigger than The Duke, so were all his cohorts. Duke noticed too

Having no choice,  I dragged him into a typical NY neighborhood  candy/newspaper store  with a soda fountain. If I’d ever had a notion we could just slip in un-noticed and stand just  inside the  door until El Blanco and his gang were gone , it was dispelled by Duke’s lemme at em barking and  growling .attitude

“You can’t bring a dog in here, “yelled the proprietor.

“Oh yes, I can” I stood my ground until the cost was clear.

Guess what the family’s reaction was when I burst in and telling them of my ordeal? Yep, all in my head.”

Did I really think the beautiful beast had followed me all the way up to the Bronx?

Well Let me just say that I’ve always had an interest in Shamanism. Shamans, natural healers, have spirit helpers called familiars who display the appearance of an animal found in nature – a fox, eagle, wolf, rabbit, etc.

So if you happen to see a white dog driving a pink Cadillac – don’t worry. He’s with me!

Posted September 16, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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The Question of The Horn   3 comments

First of all I want to pat myself on the back for taking the high road and not naming this post “The Horny Question.”

I spent my late teen years in the Bronx. We lived just off of E. 233 Street which connects I- 87, also known as The New York State Thruway, and I-95 also know as The New England Thruway so E 233rd Street was a thruway between thruways, a four lane thoroughfare  traveled by trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles – you name it!

Now this was a long time ago. Ok a long, long, long time ago. For an idea how long ago it was, I would walk on  the street and guys in cars would honk at me. I told you it was a long time ago.  Horns honking at me in the Bronx, and I guess anywhere, were the equivalent of construction workers and corner hanger-outers whistling and making kissy-kissy sounds. I lived in Manhattan too and had my share of  these too. Did I mention it was a long time ago? In both cases, a lady (yes, I mean me ) ignored horns and Hey Babees



I believe the sound is called a chirp, but trust me, it’s a honk. I still ignore it.

Last month I spent a week in St. Thomas,  doing genealogical research on my grandparents. I was determined to immerse myself in St Thomian culture. That’s one thing I learned – Jamaica has Jamaicans, Puerto Rico has Puerto Ricans, St Thomas has St Thomians. So now I can say I’m half St Thomian. It’s more succinct than saying my father’s parents were born in St Thomas. Sorry, I Digress – back to immersion. I stayed at a bed and breakfast owned and operated by a St Thomian,


and  ate only  at restaurants frequented by locale people and serving everyday West Indian food.

One evening when I returned home, my host teased me  with “You’re not one of us, I see.” I was crestfallen. Seeing my face,  he laughed. “I saw you on Back Street, and I honked my horn,  and you didn’t even look. Down here everyone honks their horn to say hello.”

An elderly French gentleman I got to know had a different take. Although born in Paris, I guess he could be classified as a St Thomian, since he’d served as French Consul and  lived on the island off and on since 1952.  While giving me a ride home from  the Caribbean Genealogical Library, he too explained the horn/hello custom. But he added an observation. “People here honk to say hello – but especially when they have a new car.”

And who said the French have a touch of cynicism? Not me!


A Picture Can Inspire A Thousand Questions   2 comments

People ask me how I come up with some of these posts. I’d never really thought about it but I guess one of my models is, or was George Carlin. Mr Carlin often couched his monologues in the form of a question. In honor of George, let’s get going.

My stroll through Washington Square and Madison Square Parks inspired a couple of questions.


DSCN0715Isn’t it next to impossible to rent an apartment or buy a coop in Manhattan if you have a dog?

Some  buildings are more pet-friendly than others but even the most friendly usually have a two animal limit.So where do these people (and their three+ dogs) live? The only explanation I can come up is maybe it’s meant for dog walkers. If you’ve ever seen some of these intrepid people they’re sometimes calmly walking a leashed herd of  six or seven dogs.



Isn’t the city supposed to be a concrete jungle?


So why do Washington Square’s lilies look like this?



And The House of Mars’s lilies like this?


Why do Madison Square Park’s ???? look like this?


And The House of Mars’s ????? like this?

Could it be I’ve hurt its feelings by forgetting its name?


And why do their hostas look like this?


And mine like this?

I do have an answer for this one. I have deer. They don’t!




Martian Summers/Manhattan Winters   6 comments

My bucket list dream is to move back to the isle of Manhattan. I don’t keep it a secret. I figure if the universe hears, the universe will provide.

Where would I choose Upper West Side? West Village? East Side? Yes! Only one minor obstacle stands in my way. Money.

And oh, there’s another problem. And it happens every year just around now, when winter has moved on for good. I go outside and, look who’s back.












Would I miss all this? Probably. I feel like a child of divorce torn between two warring parents, each of whom tries to lure me with promises of a dream home.

I’m going to meet a friend in Manhattan on Sunday so I’ll probably be humming New York Frame of Mind next time you hear from me.

But maybe there is a solution. Or is it  a delusion. I could have my cake and eat it too. I don’t have to leave The House of Mars. It can be The Country House of Mars. When winter is busy doing its thing, I’ll be in The City Apartment of Mars, looking down from my terrace at the streets below and singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow,” or maybe “Winter Wonderland”

What’s that you say, what about the money I didn’t have a few paragraphs ago. Oh yeah. Hmm. Owning two homes can be pretty expensive. Two mortgages.

You know if 7 of you could come up a loan of $100,000 each, you could consider The Manhattan Apartment of Mars your weekend pied a terre. I could stay at The Country House of Mars and you’d have the whole urban palace to yourself. Go on, check your pockets for any spare big bills.  Look under the couch cushions. Try under the car sear.  That’s a place I’m always finding money.

No one? OK, if 14 of you come up with $50,000 each, I can offer you unlimited visiting rights. You don’t even have to call ahead.

How’s about 28 of you coming up with $25,000? I’ll pay you back. I promise!

Take your time, think about it. No rush. I’ll be here – hanging out with my friends!