Thursday, February 25, 2010

From a Friend

My friend commented “You gotta be kidding me!!   I think even June Cleaver would have drawn the line at a few of these.”

I have to agree!  This was 1955?  My mother would have done these things?  I think not!

An Actual  1955 Good Housekeeping article.



Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh, What a…Trip!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our son had gotten me tickets to Jersey Boys as a Christmas gift.

I made all the arrangements, including taking our dog, Mimi, to her sister’s house.  The plan was fairly complicated. Mimi and her brother were both going to stay at the sisters, where another dog and a couple cats – not to mention humans! – also lived.

I took Mimi on Thursday night.  Her brother was already there.  On Saturday, the brother’s people were going to pick him up as well as the non-related dog.  I would call from the train station and let Mimi’s sister’s folks know that we were on their way and they would pack up the 2 remaining dogs to stay with us for a few days.  I have no idea what happened to the cats!

Anyway, Thursday night I got Mimi off to play with the other dogs and terrorize the cats. 

For some unknown reason, maybe excitement, I couldn’t sleep well that night.  Our train was at 9:30 so we planned to leave home at 7:30 am.  I was sure I could sleep on the train.

This was rush hour and we weren’t even sure if 2 hours would be enough time but we headed to the Amtrak station anyway.  About halfway there, DH realized he’d forgotten his cellphone.  He couldn’t use mine because no one would know what number to call.

So we headed back home.  Since we were going to miss the 9:30 (and the 10:30) we decided to go to IHOP for breakfast. While there, I tried to book us on a bus, instead.  No luck.  Everything sold out.

Finally, we left.  We couldn’t go too late – our show was that night.  We got to Amtrak and the ticket machine no longer recognized our reservations.  Luckily, I had the number so we got an agent to help us.  Our original tickets were voided and new ones purchased.  We lost our “early reservation discount” and my AAA discount.

acela  In addition, the best time for us to leave would be to take the Acela train.  It would get us to NY a little faster than the conventional but it cost us 200 more than our original.

I’m not sure how it is faster since it still makes all the stops of the conventional train but the train itself is a little nicer – more leg room and ours had wi-fi.  I still don’t think it was worth the extra cost but we needed it at the time. 

We got onboard and I started taking pictures of all the stations on the way to NYC. 

If you click on the full album, these will turn out sideways.  I’m not sure how/why that happens or how to fix it, but train stations aren’t all that interesting anyway, especially from inside the train!  The other full album below has images the correct angle – ah, the joys of the internet!

We got to NYC in a timely fashion – I slept a little but not nearly enough!  Off the train, into the bitter cold.  We waited in a queue for a taxi.

Off to our hotel to warm up a bit and take a nap.  We stayed at the Murray Hill Suites again.  We liked it when we stayed there before.  These are like older apartments converted into a hotel so you get a bedroom, living room, little dining room and a kitchen.  And, no wi-fi.  Yea – no chance for DH to “have to send just one more email”.  I do admit, I checked mine on my phone quite a bit.  No work, though!

We debated going out for something to eat.  Not much, though.  I took a nap and DH went out to do a bit of grocery shopping.  He found a place around the corner and came back with water, fruit, chips, mostly junk food but enough to tide us over and then some.

I went back to sleep and soon DS was ringing our bell.  We all chatted a bit, and snacked a bit, then it was time to leave for the show.  We weren’t all that far away and figured we could get there by taxi in only about 6 minutes.  Unfortunately, the cabs were all taken. So we started walking.  When we got to Grand Central Station, we decided to take the Times Square Express.  That took time, getting tickets, getting to the right track, waiting for the train.

I assumed when we got to Times Square that was it, we’d get off but we had to catch a second train.  Stairs, tunnels, walking faster than I’m used to.

jersey-boys We got in our seats at the August Wilson theater just a minute or so before the show started.

And what a show it was.  I wasn’t sure if my family would like it or not.  My son wasn’t yet born when Frankie Valli was popular and my husband was out of the country in the army so he missed most of this great music.

But, it was a compelling story, too, and everyone loved it.  The number closing the first act was so fantastic.  I don’t want to give it away but it was the coolest thing.

Opening night:

There are other great videos here:

This show  features over 30 fantastic Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ songs, including “Sherry,” Walk Like a Man”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

I cannot recommend this show enough but take note of this disclaimer from

Is Jersey Boys Good for Kids?
Although Jersey Boys snaps along at a pace easy for younger audiences to follow, it is not really a show for young children: they won’t get the heavy nostalgia factor, and parents may find themselves cringing at sexual innuendo (“Oh, What a Night!” indeed), infidelity, the (offstage) death of a child, enough swearing to make a truck driver on the Jersey Turnpike blush and other behavior you might expect from four tough guys touring from sold-out concert to sold-out concert.

They use the “f-word” quite a bit so, if that bothers you, don’t.  Even if it does, this is a great show.

After the show, we were hungry and a steakhouse called Gallagher’s was right across the street.  I should have paid better attention the the steak again room we saw when we went in.


IMG_0218 Being completely clueless that those were whole servings, I ordered prime rib and my way-too-big portion arrived. 

It was wonderful but no way could I finish this.  I don’t think that the 3 of us could have eaten all this.  The family had gotten salmon but I figured – steak house, get beef.


IMG_0219 The waiter saw me taking a picture of the prime rib and, I guess, thought I was taking a picture of us so he took a picture of us eating.

It was a really nice restaurant.  They started out as a speakeasy during prohibition and kept going.  In another room, we could hear a jazz quartet playing, too.

Sometime, I’d like to go back when I was really hungry and get a smaller portion.  I wouldn’t get the soup, either.  It was wonderful, but too filling.

Taxi back to the hotel and sleep!  Not enough, of course.  DS arrived about 10am and we started planning the day.  Food, of course.  We started in on the fruit and left over prime-rib.  Couldn’t finish it all, still.

Packing up, I found I’d left one of my gloves somewhere, taxi, theater, subway.  Wherever, it was going to be a COLD day.

southstreet We checked out of the hotel, leaving our bags with the concierge, and took a taxi to South Street Seaport (I “won” the earlier planning session!).  I’d seen it before on a tour bus and thought it looked interesting.




First stop was the South Street Seaport Museum.  It was a good place to warm up a little and we learned a lot about the history of sailing in New York. The Museum houses exhibition galleries, a working 19th-century print shop, an archeology museum, a maritime library, a craft center, a marine life conservation lab, and the largest privately owned fleet of historic ships in the country.  We saw quite a bit of these exhibits, although some were not open when we were there.  There will be a student training ship, the Lettie G. Howard (schooner), which we could see but not go on during refurbishment.

museum3 museum1 museum2
The main gallery, where we started off, had a lot of information about FDR.  President Roosevelt was apparently quite the sailor.  From the American Merchant Marine at War:

President Roosevelt was a man of the sea and understood the importance of a strong merchant marine during war and peace. During World War I, he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in charge of arming of merchant ships and convoys. One of his first acts as President was to proclaim Maritime Day to commemorate the first steam-assisted trans-Atlantic crossing by the SS Savannah. His proposed legislation to modernize and professionalize the merchant marine, passed as the historic Merchant Marine Act of 1936. During World War II, he resisted attempts to incorporate the merchant marine into the Army or Navy because of potential problems with inter-service rivalry, increased costs, and greater need for manpower. Instead, he oversaw the operation of the War Shipping Administration out of the Oval Office.


After the main gallery, we went onto the Peking, a 1911, four-masted barque

I am always amazed at how sailors live and work in such confined spaces for years at a time.  Even the officers cabins were small.  I have been on other ships where I’ve seen regular sailors sleeping arrangements – a huge room with hammocks hanging from the ceiling.  Here they used this room as a photo/info gallery.




  (somehow, these turn out right-side up.  Go figure!)

IMG_0223 We were going to go on the next ship, The Ambrose, a 1908 lightship, but decided to go buy new gloves and hats first.  I am not the proud owner of fur-lined ear muffs.  Super-warm!






Then, a wonderful lunch at Uno’s.  Rather, it would have been wonderful had they not listed all the calorie counts with each food.  I had a 530-calorie bowl of soup followed by a shared fajita pizza I don’t even want to think about.

I checked my email and found out that Mimi’s sister’s family had cancelled their trip due to snow.  Uh Oh!

IMG_0225 IMG_0224

IMG_0226 From the restaurant, we could see DS’ office.  It’s the last, tall building on the left.

After lunch it was Ambrose time. I learned that a lightship, is a ship which acts as a lighthouse. They are used in waters that are too deep or otherwise unsuitable for lighthouse construction.


ambrose The wheelhouse.

IMG_0228 DH coming our of the wheelhouse

IMG_0229 DS checking out the galley (aka kitchen).  How could they produce so many meals in such a small area?  There was a rope hanging from the ceiling so that the cook would have something to hang onto in rough seas.

IMG_0231 IMG_0230

The windlass room:


From here, we went to another building for an exhibit of model ships.

IMG_0233 This is DH (just about to take a phone call) standing by a model of the Queen Mary.  The QM is now a hotel in California and he has stayed in it, although he isn’t depicted in the model.






print-shopAfter the call, we headed to Bowne & Company Stationers.  We saw a bit of a printing demo and learned about upper case and lower case letters (The individual type blocks used in hand typesetting are stored in shallow wooden or metal drawers, known as cases, with subdivisions into compartments known as boxes to store each individual letter. For typesetting, the two cases are taken out of the storage rack and placed on a rack on the desk. By convention, the case containing the capitals (and small capitals) stands at a steeper angle at the back of the desk, with the case for the small letters, punctuation and spaces, at a shallower angle below it to the front of the desk, hence upper and lower case.)


lighthouse It was getting late and we had to pick up our bags before heading to the train.  This lighthouse monument to the Titanic sits just outside South Street Seaport at its entrance.

The plaque on it reads:

    Titanic Memorial Lighthouse

This lighthouse is a memorial to the passengers, officers and crew who died as heroes when the steamship Titanic sank after collision with an iceberg.

    APRIL 15, 1912

    This lighthouse was originally erected by public subscription. In 1913 it stood above the East River on the corner of the old Seaman's' Church Institute at the corner of South Street and Coenties Slip. From 1913 to 1967 the time ball at the top of the lighthouse would drop down the pole to signal twelve noon to the ships in the harbor. This time ball mechanism was activated by a telegraphic signal from the National Observatory in Washington, D.C.

    In July 1968 the Seaman's' Church Institute moved to its present quarters at 15 State Street. That year the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was donated by the Kaiser-Nelson Steel & Salvage Corporation to the South Street Seaport Museum. It was erected on this corner at the entrance to the museum complex in May 1976 with funds provided by the Exxon Corporation.

IMG_0235 Taxi back to the hotel, then we stopped for hot chocolate and carrot cake. All 3 of us shared this.  Is all NY food this big?  I couldn’t find any dates on this homey restaurant but it seemed like it must have been a fixture for many years.






Then another taxi to Penn Station for the 6:05 train.  We got there just as they were calling the 5:05.  Quickly, we got out tickets changed and made the earlier train.  This was a good idea because we had no idea what the weather might be like when we got home.  We’d heard from various reports that it might be up to a foot of snow.

The trip back was uneventful but slower than normal.  As we headed south, the snow got more and more evident.  DH came back from the restroom and reported that it was snowing between the cars of the train.

When we got back to DC and exited the train, it was like a scene from Dr. Zhivago.  Snow IN the train.  People lugging rollarounds had a tough time exiting.  Luckily, I just had my backpack.

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IMG_0238 My car was in the parking garage, away from the walls, yet it managed to get snow, too.

After clearing that off, we headed home.  The roads weren’t too bad but we decided to pick up Mimi the next day.

I was scheduled to ring handbells at the 8:15 but luckily our director said we didn’t have to play for that service, just the 11:00 so I got up at 7, called my Mom to let her know, then back to sleep for me.

While I was sleeping, DH picked up Mimi, then off to church for me.

Catch-up nap lasted from 12:30 to 9:00, then fast dinner and back to bed for another 11 hours.  These trips are fun but they sure wear me out!