Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, John stayed late on Tuesday and finished up all his work, so we were able to leave by 12 on Wednesday, and made pretty good time driving to Baltimore. Now we are off to do three thanksgivings, two today and one more tomorrow. Hope you and yours have a great thanksgiving! One thing I'm grateful for is that we elected a smart, rational President. If that's not something to be thankful for I don't know what is.

The picture is of John and Chalupa right after we put up our Christmas tree last weekend. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Solar powered

How about Chalupa for Secretary of Energy? She has a lot of respect for alternative fuels, like the sun, and dingo bones.

Auto Repair Neighborhood

One of the things I love about NYC is that I can get practically anywhere in the city by walking and taking the subway. The AUTO REPAIR garage I got my car fixed was all the way on the west side, on 38th Street bet 11th and 10th Avenues. The building next door housed horses, as far as I could smell. And there was another garage across the street that had a million taxis in it. Here's a picture of my walk to the subway. Along the street were countless buses parked. New York is beautiful, even in it's ugliest parts.

A square deal

The above picture is my dash board, which is nice and black now that the Service Engine Soon light is off. :)

Well, I took my car in this morning to a tiny little place that was listed as one name in the phonebook, another name on their business card, and just Auto Repair on it's sign. But I feel very lucky to have found this garage on 38th Street between 10th and 11th avenue.* It was dumb luck, this was probably the fourth place I called, the other places either hungup on me, try to transfer me and hung up on me, or had an answering machine. This place actually answered the phone, so they got my business. And for all my worrying (I had trouble sleeping last night) it all turned out fine.

I got there a little after 11, and I was confused, because when I walked through the door there were two sets of stairs, and another door, and I wasn't sure where to go for the office. But the door slammed and attracted the attention of Jacob, the guy in charge. This guy was a young Reiger, but with a very thick Russian accent. He asked me to wait a minute and he'd tell me what was wrong with my car. I watched through the garage window while he plugged a little computer into my car, and then decided waiting outside was better then sucking in the fumes from the idling car in the garage. As soon as I got outside, he showed me the reading, and let me know it was my transmission. I asked how much, and he quoted me $175. When I picked up my car the total came to $190, and I feel like a good a great deal. The relief is overwhelming, I'm so glad my Saturn lives on to drive again...maybe this bodes well for the US automakers, surely if my little Saturn Sedan LS can pull through, they can get their shit together.

*I've had much work luck at other places in Manhattan, when I first moved here a place right off the West Side highway tried to tell me I needed new brakes to get my NYS inspection sticker. Only thing was I had just gotten new brakes like 6 months before---and they didn't cost nearly as much.

Things my mom did in her one day visit

1. Asked if she could give Chalupa a lollipop
2. Asked, what she should could cook for Thanksgiving (for John and his Father and step-mom especially), and suggested Babingka (a filipino dessert made with sticky sweet rice, coconut milk and brown sugar)
3. Actually cooked Babingka (this is a big step since she hasn't shown much interested in cooking since her strokes happened about this time last year.)
4. Told me about my other sis's dog, and what a nice face he has.
5. Enjoyed a hearty "chicken potch pie" (she couldn't hear or didn't understand chicken pot pie) at a new pub down the street from us.

I actually left my mom alone three times while she was here. Twice to walk the dog, and once to run to the grocery for an extra can of coconut milk. I was worried since we never really leave her alone since the strokes, and I thought she would be worried or confused, but each time I got back she was fine. If the tv was on she would watch tv, if not, she put dishes in the sink, and tried to pack her stuff. All in all a pretty successful visit.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Service Engine Soon

There are few things in life that strike as much horror in the hearts of many as the the "Service Engine Soon" light on the dash of your car. Now, I live in New York, and many here have never owned a car, or if they do, it's not a primary source of travel. And neither is mine, but it used to be; my little 1998 Saturn that I bought just before Halloween in 1997 has done really well by me. I've attributed it to my religious oil changes EVERY 3,000 miles AND recently I've been paying extra for the "high-mileage" oil, since my little silver sedan has over 170,000 miles on her. I remember test driving her when she only had about 7 miles, my how far we've come.

It's the car that I paid for myself, with no down payment, and no co-signer, just my junked up car as a "trade-in" The Mercury Topaz I used in college that had never seen an oil change as long as I owned it. My old clunker was given to me by my dad, but I had no idea how to take care of it, and it lasted fine, until I graduated, and started my hour long commute to work every day...umm and hour to _and _from, 2 hours total. So, when that car died (a painful, expensive and long process) I decided I was going to do whatever it took to make MY new car last. 11 years later and my Saturn still looks pretty, but I fear the worst from the dreaded "service engine soon" light, I've had too many friends tell me that means death to the car. I always said I would drive my Saturn into the ground, and perhaps I have. I'll let you know on Monday, when I take her in to be looked at. I'm trying to keep expectations low. She's too old a car for me to put too much money into, but it is convenient to have a car on hand when we travel to see family...but we don't really use my car all that much, it's just the convenience. If the Amtrak allowed our little furry daughter Chalupa, we would much rather take the train. Bah.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chalupa recovering

Chalupa is on her way to what we hope is a speedy recovery, she's already back to jumping on the couches and bed with ease. (She has a footstool/ottoman type thing to help her onto the bed). And yesterday and today she has enjoyed the company of my mom and Patrish. She politely asked Patrish if she could sit with her last night. And today I caught her in one of her favorite past times, sun bathing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is curious: blogpsot = biblestudy

I inadvertantly typed (blogpsot instead of blogspot) and got directed to a website for bible study online.

Chalupa's sick

Chalupa started peeing blood in her urine early Sunday. And I took to her to the Vet on Monday, where they suspected a possible urinary tract infection, but since her bladder was empty by the time we walked there, I had to bring her back again early Tuesday morning. Where they kept her practically the whole day. They found out that she had a lot of "sludge" in her bladder, and asked us to put her on special food for 12 weeks, it's "dissolving" food that will help pass all the stuff from her bladder. It's not a kidney stone yet, but if the "sludge" doesn't pass naturally they will have to do surgery. So, we all have to be very strict with little Chalupa, even though the holidays are right around the corner, we can not give her any kind of treat or human food. Poor little thing, one bright spot, that since she has been injected with the medicine her urine has been blood free. She had a hard day on Tuesday though, she was visibly sore and would not jump up on the furniture like she likes to do. This picture of her, is on a cushion and blanket I made for her on the floor, and her cuddling with John and telling him all the awful things they did to her at the vet.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Counter. Organics.

We had a busy weekend, with some great company over on Friday, and then the Cooper (re)Union on Saturday. By the end of the day on Saturday I was exhausted, after my frenzied cleaning and cooking on Friday evening, then staying up til the wee hours playing wii. :)

I was glad when someone suggested at the John's reunion we go out for dinner, not that I wasn't enjoying the feast of fried appetizers. Because we were having dinner with some folks who don't normally get to go out in the city we let them take the lead. Heather has mentioned interest in an organic cafe, so I suggested an organic, vegetarian bistro: Counter.

I was a little apprehensive, because I like vegetarian stuff, but I usually don't feel full afterwards, and it was a place we had only walked by, but the wait at Counter for the 5 of us was only 5 minutes, and as soon as we got our appertizers I knew we had picked the right place. I ordered the HUMMUS ROYALE. $15 (Grilled soy merguez, spiced seitan ragoût & grilled flatbread triangles.) and for my entree the ITALIAN FARMHOUSE PANINI. $14 (Walnut-lentil pâté, plum tomato, rosemary aïoli - on a crunchy rustic Italian ciabatta.) I also ordered the CHEF GERAUD’S POMMES FRITES. $7----did I mention I was starving and worried the portions would be small?

The grilled pitas with the hummus were divine, and our waitress was top knotch bringing more pitas without us having to ask. And my Panini was so yummy, and gigantic, I took half of it home. And was able to eat one large Pomme Frite before asking them to wrap that up too. Now I have great leftovers to eat for lunch, and a great new place to take friends, especially vegetarian friends. But the flavor and the service was so great, I think anyone would enjoy it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vote for change

The election is over, and Obama is president elect. But this vote for change animation is too I'd like to share it. It's very well designed. Thanks to Pat for sending this to me.

Obama '08 - Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our lady of Veselka

John and I love the Ukrainian diners, and they seem to be a rare and endangered species now a days. But we can always count on Veselka for a nice soup, some perogies, potato pancakes, blintzes, etc. It's a mob scene for brunch on the weekends, but if you go in the evening there is barely a wait, and you still get their prompt service.

Since our beloved Kiev has gone the way of the dodo bird, and Teresa's has disappeared; we have been relying on Veselka to fill our bellies, and are never disappointed. We always walk in and choose the desserts we would like to order from their enormas glass cases, but after we chow down on our main courses, we never have enough room for dessert. Which says a lot since both John and I never miss meals...if you know what I mean.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rachel Ray taping

Yesterday, I took the day off and went to a Rachel Ray taping with my friend Miranda. They asked us to be in line by 10:15, I accidentally left my apartment early [anyone who knows me, knows how time challenged my family can be]. For some reason I thought it was further away, and I planned on walking and I didn't want to have to rush and arrive --all covered in sweat--for the daytime tv cameras. But as it turned out, the studio where they tape the Rachel Ray show is only about 8 blocks away. And since I left a little after 9, I expected to be one of the first people there, if not the first, I thought I'd have time to grab a quick bite to eat. I was surprised when I turned the corner of 44th Street, and there were about 50 people already chattering, snacking, and waiting in line. The small print on the email confirmation says that tickets are not guaranteed, so I assume they allow for more tix in case of no shows. It was fun, but turned out to be an extraordinarily long day. While we were in line we were informed that taping is expected to go until 2 or 2:30, I thought that was still reasonable, but it turned out we didn't get out until quarter to 4. Rachel herself thanked us at the end of the day, and expressed her appreciation that we had to sit for so many segments, evidently it's not always like this.

I have to hand it to Rachel Ray, she has a lot of energy, and it's really all her. She was warm and friendly to the crowd, and it seemed like the people she worked with genuinely had affection for her. We left with not one but TWO snacks of the day. Which delighted both Miranda and I, and we got a Nintendo DS game. We are not allowed to say who the guests were, or who the winners of their big you think you can cook contest is. But what was most interesting to me was watching the whole set. If you've never watched the Rachel Ray show, the audience is seated in a big circle, that rotates to whichever set they are filming. And the sets were brightly colored and fun. The reason why we were there for so long as that they taped several segments, most for one episode, but a few for another episode. So we know we'll be on Nov 24, and I'll have to see about the second show. We got great seats, center second row, so we think we'll be on camera for at least a few seconds.

The other fun part was eaves dropping on other audience members, I overhead one lady complaining about our treatment at the Rachel Ray waiting room, she boldly declared her love of Martha Stewart, and how Martha had enough seating for everyone in the room, and how they also had a nice big spread of cookies, coffees and teas at the Martha Stewart Show, and then she went on to list the give aways that EVERYONE in the audience received. In the Rachel Ray waiting room approx 10 people had to stand in awkward areas, and we had half-defrosted/half-stale Sarah Lee plain bagels, and some half decent pastries that went fast). And at the end of the show while we waited for the elevator in yet another long line, another disgruntled audience member peered over her glasses to examine her new Nintendo DS game, "we spent all day here, and all we get is _this_"

Hee hee, I kept my expectations low and had a good time. Although I think I'll try for Martha Stewart tix next time. :)

Close-up, she's got Bette Davis eyes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chalupa portrait

This picture reminds me of a Hopper painting. What do you think? Of course Chalupa is taking a moment to honor the memory of all our veteran's. She's very thoughtful that way.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend in Baltimore

Last weekend I was in PA going door to door for Obama, this weekend I was in Baltimore celebrating my mom's birthday (and Obama's victory). My mom, is a lifelong republican, and she came out early, very early for Obama, even when Hillary was still the front runner. I asked her if she voted, and she said yes, she voted for Obama. It's a big deal, not just because she's a lifelong republican, she also has racist tendencies. But she was happy Obama won, and when I asked her if my dad voted for Obama, she said she wasn't sure, and when I asked why? she said, "you know, you're dad is _funny_." And she shook her head slightly, like she didn't know what was wrong with him.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Battling Hate Email part 2

So it took a few days but the person who had sent me the "for your country's sake email" finally got back to me. Here is her email, followed by my response.

A, This is not how I may feel. Please stop taking all this to heart. We will all probably never find out whats true or false. Iam so sorry to have offended you. These e-mails are not always my thoughts but those of others. Again Iam sorry.

Hi S,

I understand that this may not be what you feel, but by passing it on, you too are guilty of spreading lies that create the culture of fear and hate. I know you, and I know you didn't mean to, but it's bad enough that emails are out there and it's even worse when I get them from loves ones. I refuse to be silent about these things. I read a quote recently by Martin Luther King, Jr and I think it applies

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Free Obama sticker

Get your free sticker from or contribute a little dough and get more stickers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope"

Yesterday was one for the record books. We were anxious, nervous, excited and optimistic. And we were glued to the television until finally we were able to see our man Mr. Barack Obama make his first speech as the President elect of the United States of America. I think I was in shock, I was happy, but in shock. The whole thing is still sinking in for me and, I'm just so happy and relieved.

We could hear the roar of the crowds and screaming from outside as we sat and watched on 21st street, and decided to go join the festivities at Union Square. The square was just filled with hundreds of people, we were all so joyous and happy and sharing in the celebration. It was similar to when we were in France years ago and they had just won the world cup. People were climbing the statues, waving the flag, and chanting "Obama!," "Yes, we can," "Yes we did" and "No more Bush". We also sang the national anthem, and just screamed and shared sheer joy with perfect strangers. Although we stayed out til past 2 last night to celebrate, I couldn't wait to get up this morning. It certainly is a new dawn for America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

While I waited to vote...

So, I waited in line to vote today. The line outside moved briskly, but when I made it into the basement of my local synagogue, I was surprised but happy to find a swarm of people waiting in zig-zagging lines. I wormed my way toward the district 14 line and ended up behind an older woman who appeared to be Jewish. We chatted and commented on the excitement in the air, and then she asked me if I watched channel 14. I looked at her blankly, she then said MSNBC? And I said, oh yes, I watch MSNBC, it's on a different channel for us because we have RCN cable.

She said, in her magazine that there is this woman who has her own show. And I said, who? Rachel Maddow? She said, yes, then proceeded to say how much she likes her and her show. And I agreed saying she was really sharp. Then the woman went on to say that in the magazine it says she was gay, and she said "I never knew that." Again I didn't exactly know where she was going with this, but I agreed "I didn't know that either." She showed me the picture in her magazine of Rachel Maddow looking very butch and smiling next to her [presumed] partner. Then the woman turned to me and muttered, "it took me 45 years to find a husband, I should have been gay."

Today's the day, make it count!

Vote Obama today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fighting the Good Fight

So, this weekend I volunteered with the Obama campaign to help canvas voters in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The picture above is the Wilkes-Barre campaign office, I was actually sent to another smaller location more downtown. But I met and worked with two other New Yorkers, who were enthusiastic and great fun to be with. We went knocking on doors and passing out brochures. Then we enjoyed a triumphant dinner at Thai Thai, a nice little place within walking distance of the downtown campaign office.

I then drove back Saturday night, had a good night's sleep, and drove back again on Sunday. This time I was sent to the Pittston headquarters, and there I did more canvassing. But this time we were just placing door hangers on the doors of the people on our list. The door hangers listed their polling site, along with voting information, including voting rights. I had a great time. It was a beautiful day, and people were coming out of their houses to talk to me, they were glad to see me. One guy came out and proudly pointed out his Obama/Biden sign, and declared he had been a lifelong Republican. Another older gentleman quickly came to the door just as I was leaving, and when I explained that I was just leaving voter information behind, he asked, "for who?" and when I said "Obama" a big smile spread on his face, and he said " I'll take him." A young woman who passed me complimented me on my Bmore for Obama shirt, and I proudly gave credit to my big sis. Actually that shirt got tons of compliments from other volunteers, too. Note: the image shown on cafe press is a little different, my shirt has three-quarter length blue sleeves and it's cut for a woman.

Granted, I'm sure the people on our list were vetted Democrats or Obama supporters, but the lifelong Republican wasn't on my list at all. He just saw me working and wanted to talk. There is definitely something in the air. And I know I sound crazy but I saw a faint horizontal rainbow on my drive there and can only mean good things to come. It was a long haul for me, and I had a pretty stressful week with work, but I felt I had to do as much as I could to make this dream a reality. And I feel good about what I did this weekend. It was a great weekend to be out and working for a campaign I believe in. So get out and vote tomorrow, and make triple sure that you're vote counts by reading the directions. Many states have an "all Democrat" choice, but you STILL have to select a candidate for president!