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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween '13

Here we are, Halloween again! I doubt this year's night will live up to last year's which was very special because the Irish exchange students descended upon our house for some Village Halloween fun, followed by hanging out and even some piano playing and singing. While they were disappointed they could not go to NYC because of Hurricane Sandy, they seemed to have a great time experiencing an American Halloween.

This will be my first Halloween without any Baker kids around, which will be weird. I am once again back to handing out candy on my own as Mark is in Denver all week. I remember one time, before kids, when Mark was also traveling on Halloween and it was a day much like today is shaping up to be: cold, dark, windy, rainy. I closed up shop early to go pick him up at the airport and what a tough ride, being very hard to drive with the wind and the rain. Tonight I will have some company, though, as Nic and Patrick are coming for dinner, then Patrick wants to hide and scare all the trick-or-treaters with his big horse head. No, not his regular head - he has a mask. He's a kid at heart!

Stay safe everyone!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NYC in Movie, TV and Song

Lovely Lady Liberty
This is the fist chance I have had to sit down and reflect on our whirlwind weekend in NYC. One thing I came to realize, seeing most of the famous sights for the first time, is that

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT NEW YORK CITY 
I LEARNED FROM SONGS, MOVIES and TV. 

Sad but true. Let me explain...

We got into The Big Apple around 10am on Thursday and, after stowing our suitcases at The Hotel Empire, we took a brisk 25 minute walk down to Times Square to book a hop-on-hop-off tour of the city. My goal was to find a tour that took us "downtown" to lower Manhattan to see such sites as Chinatown, Little Italy, The Twin Towers/Freedom Tower sight, The Statue of Liberty, among other things. As I've mentioned in the blog before, I've never really gotten to be a tourist in New York as I'm always strapped for time attending one meeting or another.

The perceived New York City of my youth was a gritty one, with Dad's Daily News newspaper, Sesame Street, and All in the Family feeding me images and ideas about life in New York.

As a result of these and other influences, following are the things I thought about as I experienced New York on Thursday and Friday:

  • Lunch at De Gennaro on Mulberry Street in Little Italy made me think of: A combination of Billy Joel's song "Big Man on Mulberry Street," and the movie "Goodfellas"
  • Passing by Bellevue Mental Hospital made me think of:  Manfred Mann's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "For You" ('Cause they're waiting for you at Bellevue; With their oxygen masks; But I could give it all to you now; If only you could ask...)
  • The Staten Island Ferry and ALL OF MANHATTAN made me think of:  Sex and the City. Oh, and Seinfeld.
  • Rockefeller Center made me think of: 30 Rock and SNL
  • Madison Avenue made me think of: MadMen, of course!
Ellis Island
...and many more pop culture references; too many to count!

The absolute highlight of my trip (on my "bucket list") was taking a boat to the Statue of Liberty. Although we didn't actually go to the island, it was close enough for me. I was choked up when I finally saw her, thinking of my Grandfather, Frank, coming with him mom and sister at the turn of the century, how she represented hope for a new a life for him and countless immigrants over the years. A good reminder that there is still room for everyone here.

Next up on the bucket list: Ellis Island. The next time I visit the City I will try to go there. Ironically, Ellis Island reopened the day after we were leaving after being closed for a year as a result of Hurricane Sandy. When I do go there, though, I want to be armed with information about my relatives so that I might make the most of my visit.  I was so surprised how close Ellis Island was to the Statue of Liberty - swimmable, almost.

In addition to great food (Turkish one night, Cuban the next) we saw the broadway show "Big Fish," which is based on one of our favorite family movies (and the book before that). It was wonderful, with magical stage effects, and super, super fun.

We returned home Sunday night, tired, but thankful for such a great trip. The chaos and confusion (and excitement and vibrant energy) of New York is great, but I couldn't wait to get home to my quiet, lovely Fairport and of course my furry baby!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And just like that, it's fall

An antique shot of the
Statue of Liberty
that I found with the
old pictures my sister sent me.
Ironically I've still not yet
seen Lady Liberty in person -
only from planes. :(
October is funny. Not ha-ha funny. Just weird, you know?

We've had beautiful warm, almost spring-like weather all month, then BAM!, windy, cold, dark. As a general rule of thumb it seems that you can pretty much plan outdoor activities until October 15, then forget it. This year was no exception. When I get home from work off the work clothes come and on go the sweatpants. The silver lining: my neighbors can't see me walking pup in my stripped-down attire since it's so dark by the time we head out for our nightly stroll.

Looking to the rest of the week: Mark and I are heading out tomorrow for a long weekend in NYC where I'll attend the NAGAP board meeting from Friday afternoon through Saturday (maybe Sunday, also? I'd better check the schedule...), with a leisurely tourist day planned on Thursday and part of Friday. I'm really looking forward to tons of walking and good food, and of course spending time with my awesome friends from NAGAP. A nice little break to wrap up the season of Libra, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Back. And Forth. And Back. And Forth.

Silly Kids
On Friday I picked up Annalisse for a weekend home. Six hours round trip. Today we take her back to school. Six hours round trip. And back and forth down Interstate 90 we go.

Remember in August when she couldn't wait to get a way from "You People?" Well, two-ish months later she was sure happy to be home and chilling out on the couch. Not to mention getting to bed at a reasonable hour and eating homemade food - if she's excited about my cooking she must definitely be missing home. Yesterday we took a trip to Brockport to visit her friend, Leighanna (I hung out on a couch in a lounge while they went off with each other for a couple of hours), and she was so happy to check out Leelo's new life and meet some of her college buddies. Then, we' picked up Cam for dinner, first stopping at Power's Farm Market to go through the haunted tee-pees. It was fun, and nostalgic for the kids.

So, off we go again. See you in six hours.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hey, Mark Baker!

Don't you just wish you were
fishing on your birthday?!


They say it's your birthday! But they are not saying which one...although most of us can guess. 
Hint: it's a higher number than mine!
Anyway, looking forward to a nice dinner out at The Revelry to celebrate. I sure hope they have chocolate mousse!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Day After

The office of terror
I made it! I'm 50 + 1 day! Whew.

My 50th turned out to be a fabulous day from start to finish. It started with texts from both kids (I know, I know, but you have to take what you can get), and upon entering my office I was greeted with streamers and tons of balloons courtesy of my industrious coworkers. Now you all know how I feel about balloons, right? Well, my coworkers didn't know about my balloon phobia until too late, and I lived in fear all day of one bursting. But they looked so pretty and festive, all was forgiven quickly!

We celebrated first with a yummy bagel breakfast (I'm not a fan of birthday cake so I like to do bagels for my big day), then our "lunch bunch" went out to Black and Blue for lunch. I left a little early to spend time with pup before we headed out for my "drop in happy hour" at the Blue Cactus in Fairport.

It was tons of fun! A bunch of folks came out to celebrate with me and the two "generous" mojitos really hit the spot. I'm so glad I gave in and decided to celebrate my birthday. My friends and family made it truly memorable! I'm feeling the love!

Just a few of the merrimakers:

Wendy, Ken, Lena and J
Theresa, J, Carol and Paul
Anne, J, Steve, Julie and Judy

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Newest Member of AARP

It is with much reluctance that today I become eligible to be a card-carrying member of the AARP. I'm not going to lie: I'm not super thrilled about this birthday but, as someone told me recently, it's better than the alternative.

We'll "celebrate" later with a drop in happy hour at the Blue Cactus in Fairport. Having a happy hour was a suggestion of one of my neighbors as a low pressure way to celebrate the day, which I thought was a great compromise to walking into a roomful of people yelling "SURPRISE!"  I chose the Blue Cactus so I could get a mojito. It's all about the mojitos.

So, I'll persevere through the day with the thought that I probably won't live to another 50. Time goes too quickly, and that's what bothers me the most. In the meantime, though, I'll count my blessings and live for today! Carry on!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

18 + 1 Day

I just got up from a much needed nap. Boooyyyy did I need that.

Yesterday we had a great time celebrating Annalisse's big day. It wasn't a knock-down-drag-out crazy celebration; there was no big party and not even any balloons (the structure of the day did not lend itself to that), but it was a nice day spent with family experiencing a small slice of Annalisse's new life at Mercyhurst.

The day started early with a stop at the Head of the Genesee Regatta where Cam was racing in the afternoon. The weather started out typically crappy with a steady rain, and we got pretty wet regardless of our best attempts to keep dry. We didn't tell Cam we were coming, but his face did light up when he saw us, a good sign! His sister ran to him yelling his name and flailing her arms - announcing, in her usual low key way, that she had arrived.  After chatting a bit and finding the Mercyhurst team (but she would not speak to them), we hit the road for Erie around 9:30 and checked in with Cam later in the day to find out how they did. He said his boat came in 8th out of 18. Not too bad. They beat some pretty good boats so he was happy enough with how that turned out. We are still waiting to hear if he will be going to the Head of the Charles in Boston in a couple of weeks.
Surprise!

Back to the birthday girl and her big day: when we got to Erie we dropped A's stuff off at her room, and, while she was taking a shower, went to the bookstore to find a couple of t-shirts to wear to the football game (drudgery since I hate football, but I digress). After the rainy start, it turned out to be a beeeaaauuutttiiiiffffuuulll day to be out and about. We went to the game for a little while and sat with Fairport friends Deb and her daughter, Rachel, then headed out around 3:30pm to check into the hotel and find a place to eat. We ended up at the Brewery at Union Station, which was in a cool old building. Now, I will say Erie is not much to look at...pretty run down, lot's of graffiti and tons of shuttered up buildings. It's hard coming from a cute little town like Fairport to see beauty there.

The dinner, though, was very good, and it turns out the restaurant is haunted, so that was a fun conversation with the waitress! After dinner we went to Wegmans to stock up on all Annalisse's gluten free/dairy free snacks, then went back to campus to a Music/Dancing arts program which featured students and faculty. It was very impressive; tons of talent on that stage.

Around 8:30 we said our goodbyes to the birthday girl so she could celebrate with her friends. We made our way back to the hotel where, having been upgraded to a two-bedroom suite due to overbooking, I enjoyed a luxurious bath in the jacuzzi tub. It was wonderful!!

We got up early and, after picking up a dozen Krispy Kremes for Cam and his roomies, we hit the road and finally got home (after haircuts for Mark and Cam, then lunch) around 1:30. I really missed my hang time with my pup. I'm happy to be home with him.

Do you ever feel like you need another weekend to recover from the weekend?

That kid
Awkward

Saturday, October 5, 2013

18!

The birthday girl at 1
My "baby" turns 18 today! I'm so proud of the wonderful young woman she's become. We'll celebrate by popping in to surprise her brother at his regatta this morning, then we'll head to Mercyhurst for family weekend.  She said, "Now I can get a tattoo." Of course, knowing how I feel about tattoos she was kidding. I hope.

Anyway, happy birthday and much love to our 'Lisse!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Libra Girls

Meg, JoAnn and Judy
Last night was my 22nd Libra Dinner with my pals JoAnn and Meg. I'm pretty sure I've written about our dinners before as it's one of those yearly markers that seem to come so fast. This year for updates, JoAnn is a grandmother, Meg's two oldest kids just got an apartment together and I have two kids in college. I always like to remind JoAnn that she first met me when I was 21, and now I am turning ?0. We always give each other goofy little gifts and generally just enjoy the company. And have a glass of wine to toaster another year, of course! We were also able to bring our waiter in on the celebration since his birthday is October 12 (same day as Aunt Mary/Mim Mim's - there are soooo many Libras in our family). Remarkably, though, he didn't think being a Libra was that big a deal. I think he's been hanging with the wrong crowd.

Today, I picked Annalisse up at school for her date with Blake to see Theresa Caputo ("The Long Island Medium") in Rochester tonight, which is her birthday present. Then, tomorrow the 18th birthday celebration begins. I CANNOT BELIEVE MY BABY WILL BE 18. Crazy, crazy, crazy!!