Out and About in the Big Apple

The first morning we had brunch reservations at a great restaurant called Dirty French, which was right across the street from our hotel, something we did not know till we arrived the night before.  We really enjoyed our meal and then walked a few blocks over to the Pickle Fest. I had read about this before we came and we figured it was right near by, so why not wander through? When we were leaving the restaurant, everyone was talking about it! How funny! It was apparently a pretty big deal on the Lower East Side and we had fun walking around and people watching.

After the Pickle Fest, we caught the subway to the Highline and strolled around for quite awhile, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city.

That night we were so excited to have tickets to see “Hamilton”!  I’d wanted to see it but the tickets were super expensive and I’d mostly blown it off.  About a month before we left, I looked online one more time and found tickets for $200 on a Sunday night.  I mean, that is not “cheap” but it’s much better than $600! I couldn’t believe it! I texted Sarah right away and she was willing to “go for it,” so we bought tickets.  I still don’t know why the price was so different that night but we were thrilled.  I’d been listening to the soundtrack ever since so I would know the story and I have to say I learned a lot more about Alexander Hamilton than I ever learned in school! Love, love, love the music and the lyrics are so clever. We had a great, great time at the show and enjoyed every minute of it.  Go see it if you can!

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New York City!

Months and months ago, Sarah and I managed to get tickets to see our all time favorite singer Bruce Springsteen on Broadway.  We planned a little vacation around our concert date and finally flew outta here on September 13.  Our trip started out with a bit of drama because Sarah had lost her ID. The long story is that her purse was stolen a long time ago with her driver’s license in it. She never bothered to get another license (!!) but began using her passport as her ID.  The night that we had our dinner party with our refugee family, Sarah stayed late and at some point confessed, “Mom, I hate to bring this up, but I can’t find my passport anywhere!”  OMG!  She had checked on getting a new DL or passport but did not have enough time to get either one. Someone suggested that she call Southwest Airlines and find out her options, which she did. Thankfully she was told since she was flying domestically, it was not THAT big a deal. Who knew?? They told her to bring some other documents that proved who she was, and that she would have to go through extra security measures.  Rich took us to Love Field a little early and we checked our bags. When we got in the security line, she told the TSA agent the problem and she was pulled out of line. I continued, while trying to keep an eye out for her. I saw her go through security and then have a pat down. Then they took her to a private area that was blocked off. By then I had finished going through security so I sat on a bench nearby and could hear her voice and the TSA agent’s voice from the private area, but I couldn’t tell if they were just chit-chatting or if something was going on. The first TSA agent who took her aside was “all business” and not very nice. But she said the woman in the private area was understanding and just had to do a more thorough pat down because somehow she had failed the “chemical test.” They said it could be due to hand lotion or perfume or something, who knows.  Whew, eventually that was done and we were on our way!

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We had a delay getting out of Dallas and arrived pretty late that night, then had to take a cab to the Lower East Side to our hotel.  We stayed in the very cool Hotel Indigo that one of Sarah’s friends had recommended. It was hip and happenin’ and upon check in Sarah asked if we were the oldest people staying there. haha We were told that the upstairs restaurant/club “Mr. Purple” was open till 4 AM if we wanted something to eat. So we left our stuff in our cute room and went upstairs to get a bite. The elevator opened and that place was booming with music and lots of people everywhere. The very tall doorman welcomed us and stamped our wrists. We looked around and there was obviously nowhere to sit and eat. I was not gonna be the dull grandma who said I didn’t want to stay but I was quite thankful that my daughter said it was ridiculous and let’s go somewhere else. 🙂

On the way in, we had noticed that the famous Katz’s Deli was right on the corner of our street so we walked down and had a massive pastrami on rye with pickles.  It was $22 but we split it. 🙂

Fall is Upon Us

Rich and I met my sister in Austin for a big rally for Beto O’Rourke, running for Senate against the horrible Ted Cruz.  Willie Nelson, Joe Ely, Leon Bridges and several other artists performed and, of course, Beto gave a rousing speech. We had a great time in the cool evening weather, just hanging out with 55.000 of our new best friends.  I am hoping beyond hope that Beto can win, though I know it’s a long shot.  I’ve been doing a lot with the Funky East Dallas Democrats, registering voters, block walking, organizing, meeting, and we are pushing hard for change in Texas. We may not see it this time, but I think it’s coming!

Planted our fall garden: lots of lettuces, kale, chard, brussels sprouts, cilantro…plus we still have eggplant, peppers, herbs, and Rich’s leeks are coming back up.  And dinner: eggplant two ways, moussaka and rollatini.  🙂

Rich and I went to hear Doris Kearns Goodwin talk about her latest book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. We enjoyed all that she had to say and she told some funny stories about the presidents she’d researched. She knew LBJ quite well and spent a lot of time with him helping with his autobiography.  She said he had taped various conversations while he was in the White House but was irritated because he couldn’t remember details about other discussions or events. At one point he met with Richard Nixon and advised him that he should tape everything! LOL So Nixon can blame Johnson for the Watergate debacle.  Rich is reading her book right now and I will get it next. 🙂

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You are Welcome Here

Several months ago we were contacted by an agency wanting to know if we would be willing to sponsor a family seeking asylum.  We said yes–but as it turned out, they were placed in a different town with a Spanish speaking family, which was actually a better situation for them.  Then last month we were contacted again and this time we do have a mom and daughter from Honduras living in our granny apartment out back!  They were separated at the border for two months, eventually reunited and bounced around a little bit before ending up here in Dallas.  The daughter just turned 16 and is enrolled in a local high school so her English is picking up and she seems to really enjoy school, thankfully. The mom is struggling more because she wants and needs to work but is not permitted to work legally till 150 days after her asylum claim is filed. It’s a sad situation when someone wants to work and is not allowed to do so. But we are chugging along the best we can. I don’t want to put out too many details because I don’t want to jeopardize their case in any way but it has definitely been a learning experience. They are very sweet people and at the same time, the needs are great and I feel like I now have another family to take care of, on top of all the other stuff I am doing every day.  One agency was involved with them at the beginning but now they have closed their case and we are relying on a network of volunteers and nonprofits to assist when they can. I feel like it will smooth out eventually and things will not be so chaotic but it’s a little tough right now!  Drawing upon my social work roots, I invited all of the volunteers and nonprofit reps to dinner the other night so we could all meet in person (some I had only texted or emailed with) and exchange info and get a plan in place. We had a great time and it was really nice to be with a group of likeminded, caring individuals in the midst of our current negative and downright cruel political climate. Here’s to a better life!

September

Block walking for candidates, joined by Colin Allred and Joaquin Castro

I managed to fall down our front porch steps and was sure I had broken my wrist. Rich took me to the ER, where I was Xrayed and told nothing was broken.  I was really bruised up and sore!  After 3 weeks of not feeling like it was any better, I went to my family doc who ordered an Xray and guess what….yes, it IS broken!! Went to an orthopedist this week and he said I was very fortunate it did not completely displace. He could not believe I’d been using it (although gingerly) for this long.  Said it was pretty much past the point for a cast so I am in a splint for 3 more weeks.  Not too happy with that ER and the bills they are sending me.  My family doctor told me I am a “strong girl” and the orthopedist called me a “tough cookie.”  So there.

Our grandson Jack turned 4! I picked him up from preschool on his birthday and we stopped for an ice cream, then came to our house where we gave him his presents. Now every time he comes over, he asks if there are presents. haha The following weekend he had a party with family and friends. It was supposed to be outdoors but we were having lots of rain so Sarah moved it to their house and found a face painter and a balloon artist at the last minute. The kids had a blast!  Jack is such a great kid and loves hanging out with us, much to our delight!  He is very smart, talkative and funny and loves to play games, look at books, and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Last time Sarah picked him up from us, he said he wanted to stay with us forever.  Love that boy!

We cleared out our garden to get ready for fall planting.  Much to our surprise, after we had taken out all of the tomato plants, the eggplant started going wild. We had harvested a few eggplants in the summer but it began taking over one end of the plot and producing more eggplants than we could keep up with!  We have enjoyed quite a few meals and they are very tasty. Garden success!

Soccer! These girls play hard!

Happy Birthday, Miles, and Back to School for the Kids

Our son in law Miles turned 40 on August 19.  I know it’s a cliche but I really cannot believe he is 40!  He and Sarah went to high school together and I knew who he was back then but didn’t really get to know him well till they were in college. Still, I have known him for more than 20 years now and he has been a part of our family for almost that long.  We are pretty big buddies and have great conversations about many topics.  He is smart, talented, funny, hard working, a great dad, and an all round good guy.  Happy birthday, Miles! We love you!

Summer is over and the grandkids have started a new school year.  Well, technically, Jack has not gone back to preschool yet–his doesn’t start till after Labor Day. We have a 9th grader, two 5th graders, a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, a 1st grader, and two in 4-year-old preschool.  So far, so good; everyone reports liking their teachers and enjoying school at the moment!  Oh, and it’s son in law David’s 14th year teaching economics at Amarillo High! Here’s to a great year for all!

One Last Hurrah before School Starts

Two days after I got back from Seattle, we went to Clyde TX to get Aidan and Ally for one more visit before summer was over.  We picked them up, stopped for lunch, and headed back to Dallas in a driving rainstorm.  I hate having to be on the road when it’s pouring down rain and visibility is poor, especially because people seem to drive like maniacs. But we made it!

 

We had a great week, as always. The first several days were spent with the Dallas cousins, playing at our house or theirs, swimming, eating together, a couple of sleepovers, lots of games, baking cupcakes, went to the park, took a little hike through the woods, Sarah and I took the younger ones to see “Christopher Robin” and all enjoyed that while Rich and Aidan stayed home and watched “older” movies on TV.  They also went to see the new “Mission Impossible” another day while the rest of us hung out.

Toward the end of the week, Elle and Miles went to Oklahoma for a soccer tournament so Ally and I went to get pedicures to cheer her up for Elle being gone.  🙂  We went to the same salon near our house where we’d taken Sarah and Bonnie’s girls a few weeks before.  I asked the man in the front if I could get a pedicure and Ally could get a “kid’s” pedicure.  He said yes and told us to go pick out our polish. A few minutes later, he approached us and asked, “How old is she?”  I said “11” and he said, “She looks like an adult.”  What in the world!!  She does not look like an adult!  I told him no, she is a kid, and he acted like I was trying to rip  him off.  He then brought me the price list which showed children’s pedicures for kids 10 and under.  Okay, sorry, I didn’t realize that, so just give her a regular pedicure!  Then we went to sit down and the tech started to remove Ally’s nail polish and realized it was “gel.”  Well, I had no idea about this either! Apparently her great grandmother (Corey’s grandma) had taken her for a pedicure a few weeks earlier and they got the gel polish. And apparently it is a big hassle to remove it so I was really on the salon’s sh#$% list by then. I was sitting there wondering how much this was gonna cost me!  Finally we were finished and I was pleasantly surprised to see they did not charge me for removing the gel polish at least. I guess it was a small consolation for having to pay for a full price pedicure instead of a (10 and under!) kids’ one.  🙂

 

We had been looking for something fun to do with the kids and came across the Texas State Railroad, an historic steam engine that runs from Rusk TX to Palestine TX.  Rich and I thought it would be interesting and the kids were agreeable so we drove to Jacksonville the night before, spent the night in a hotel, and caught the train the next morning. Before boarding, we took a little tour of the engine and the kids posed for photos.  The train ride itself was a bit less interesting than we had anticipated.  The tracks run through the Piney Woods which are pretty but there was little to see except trees all around and an occasional clearing.  Luckily there was a snack bar onboard so the kids got drinks and snacks and that killed some time.  🙂  We arrived at the Palestine station and had an hour’s layover to look around and have some lunch.  The line for lunch was a mile long and everything was very pricy so we convinced the kids to have another snack on the train and we’d get a late lunch afterwards. 🙂  The train finally left to return to Rusk, the kids had more snacks, and I have to admit that we all took a nap on the return.

 

We stopped at Pizza Hut and had pizza and salad bar before driving home to Dallas. It was a nice little change of scenery and a peaceful day and the kids were sweet about it even though I don’t think they had a fabulous time.  It was our last night with the kids so we played games and chatted and then got up the next day to take them halfway home to hand them off to their dad.

 

It was another good visit and we are always sad to see them go.