Friday, August 29, 2008

Drinks on the roof

Having Friday night drinks has been something that has occurred throughout my working life and has been an important part of life here in NYC. It has been the time when Sue and Tiina and I would meet up to "debrief" the week as we all lived in separate parts of the city and worked in totally different work locations. It helped cope with a strange city and in part even stranger culture.
Even though Tiina is now back in Australia and Sue and I share an apartment we still meet up for drinks on a Friday evening. Some times just the two of us but more often than not it's with other consultants but still in different parts of the city.
This time we chose our very own roof and I emailed and talked to people saying it was going to be a casual affair- that is bring your own drinks and we'll meet you on the roof of our building. We began gathering around 5pm when Cait came back with me to the apartment from the meeting we'd had at 3pm. Sue had been home for a little while but hadn't replenished the wine rack so while she and Cait talked (about work) I rang the 9th Avenue Vintners and put in the oder for wine. Within 20 minutes the wine was at our door.

I gathered up snacks to share- meaning anything that was easily carried up to the roof and consumed. By this time Sue had decided to do her "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" piece and was watering the pot plants. I guess doing that while you remember is important but we were trying to get up to the roof. Anne arrived ready to start "debriefing" having just left Margie in her 28th floor apartment- Margie was still paper sorting it would appear.
Finally we started to head up, some of us with half glasses of wine others eager to catch up.

There were some poor unfortunate people up there having a quiet drink so we gathered some tables down the opposite end. Chris from 42nd floor was already there but was heading back down to get a jacket as there was a light breeze.
The group gathered over a period of half an hour with tales told:
Chris was there without Rob as he was still in Australia having had trouble getting his visa returned to him. They had stood shoulder to shoulder at the US Consulate and for no apparent reason Chris' visa had been issued immediately and Rob's has taken over a month and he had work he was supposed to be doing this past week.
Dave and Julie were there eager to catch up on everyone's news and travels and books read and plans made. They were impressed that we could use our roof for such social purposes. The Biltmore around the corner on 8th and 47th doesn't allow it. They had missed a year due to Julie's brush with breast cancer- she appeared well and has the all clear thus far. Dave appeared greyer than last time we saw him but they may be just looking for something on my part.
John arrived having been to work in Connecticut and spent an hour locating the grog and sushi that Cait had requested.
Margie eventually made to the roof carrying some dumplings that were quickly devoured by us all. She had said she wasn't going to drink as she was still recovering from the gin and tonic she had made us the night before- that was a story in itself. But she settled in to a small glass of wine and shared her experience of the previous day's workshop.
Anne regaled us with her visits to schools, her work and her brave process of going to her natural colour- far greyer than one wants to be!
There are no "facilities" up on the roof other than pot plants which may be okay for blokes (not hygenic but possible- don't think anyone has in fact it doesn't bear thinking about) so Cait and Anne headed to our apartment and were going to order some takeout to be delivered. Julie and Dave decided to head home as did Chris so the rest of us packed up partially because the light was fading.

We met Cait and Anne in the elevator which was fortunate as they had the only keys. Sue continued down stairs to collect her parcel. While we waited for the mountain of Turkish food to arrive (far too much) Margie checked her apartment for "bubbles" and rang to say she didn't have any so Cait and Anne went out to buy some.
Sue unpacked her parcel- a motorized mini bike- she bought it so she could exercise while working at her computer! As can be imagined there was much hilarity over this machine. She found out about it in the Sky Mall magazine- you know those catalogues in the back seats of planes. Despite the laughing most people had a go and Sue pointed out you can put the mini bike on the table and use it to exercise your arms.
The bubbles arrived back and were consumed, the Turkish food was delivered and delicious with some waiting in the fridge now to be used for lunch.
We commented on the amazing fact that it was one of our late Friday night we're normally zonked and in bed by 9 and it was 10:30 when the last people left.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Having spent part of the week deciding what I should do, I finally booked tickets to travel back to Australia after visiting Michele in Tokyo. It Michele's birthday on October 2 and a very special one that we have planned to share together for ages. But because Maddy's treatment for lung cancer hasn't been as successful as hoped she (Maddy) is feeling much more fragile. Although she is at home by herself and managing quite well, I have decided that a 10-11 hour flight from Tokyo is much shorter and more doable than one from NYC. Trying to book the intricacies of a flight from NYC to Tokyo then a flight to Melbourne then back to NYC with as few changes, as fast as possible and as cheap was possible was way beyond my searching skills on Expedia so I settled for using a travel agent recommended by Anne. Wasn't that a good idea! Call on the experts! I did so and needed to pay for the ticket by Friday.

Given that I was supposed to work Friday a trip to Forest Hills in Queens was on the agenda for the day.
It is a lovely area with the timbered look. The strip of shops has a combination of chain stores like Victoria's Secret and Bolton's as well as smaller stores that give the shopping area a much smaller town feel.
I'd received advice from the travel agent to take the "F" train as it runs express and I was there in less than 30 minutes.
While there I also booked my ticket for another quick trip to Australia at Christmas which hopefully I won't need to change to an earlier time in the year and can have a trip home to family for the first time at Christmas in about 6 years.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting the laundry done

What else does one do on one's almost last day of the holidays- that's it the laundry!

Actually it isn't all that difficult just time consuming and an opportunity to compare life here in NYC with that of life in Aireys Inlet.

The process for doing the laundry is not as simple as in Aireys Inlet because here it involves catching the elevator to the RP level ( second floor US; first floor Australia) and there awaiting your undone laundry are the approximately 20 washing machines. Today as usually happens mid week the "maids" from other apartments had filled most of the machines. Yet another difference!

Thank goodness we don't have to use coins- at least with coins though you can see how many you have sometimes once we've got to the laundry we find that there isn't enough on the card and so it is a rather fraught trip back up to the apartment to get the credit card to refill the laundry card. Fraught because the elevators seem to take an age and fraught because you can never tell if someone else isn't going to come down and assume you have finished your wash and piff it out of the machine.

Once the wash is on it's back to the apartment to utilize the 39 minutes it takes to wash. The danger is one gets caught up in the joy of other housework (not likely) or some other activity so this little vegemite sets the timer on the microwave so that I can get back down to the laundry and get it all in the dryer/s.

Unfortunately there is no chance that I could hang the washing out in the sunshine and fresh air so the dryer it is.
Part of an additional problem is that the dryers require longer than the washing machines so there can be a backlog. And as a fellow resident mentioned to me people tend to forget the time (not as efficient as we who use the microwave timer!).
Some of the buildings apartments are leased to companies and non long term residents use the washing facilities and apparently it is not uncommon for people to leave the city and their laundry in the machines.

I'm not sure whether it is cause and effect (laundry left in machines- recycle bin) but we now have a very large trolley/ bin for recycling clothes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On the way to work?

We Sue and I were on the way to work that is. Not sure about this little fella but there he was in the woman's handbag looking very cute.
I just hope she was taking the dog to visit a park or something and not taking it to work with her.

I have seen some of the weirdest places and ways of "caring" for pets. (See Dogs in diapers and Scribblers) I can never understand why people "have" to take their dogs or cats shopping with them. OK perhaps they need to be cared for while they are out but shopping in Bloomingdales?!! Or taking the dog to lunch and sitting it on your lap while you eat lunch in midtown Manhattan- why!? My only regret when I've seen these sights is that I haven't been brave enough to take a photo!

It is actually not that uncommon to see dogs in baskets or bags on the subway. Perhaps I should start making a list of weird things seen on the subway or is that a type of oxymoron!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On the way to dinner.....

We were heading to the China Grill for dinner. A simple walk along 53rd over 6th Avenue and then we'd be at our destination.
We (Sue Margaret and I) came across a long queue that seemingly stretched back from the corner of 6th Avenue for about 100 yards. As we got closer to 6th Avenue we realized people were lined up to get food from the food cart. The serving of food is fast but they couldn't be all that fast.
We had a discussion over dinner about whether we had had food from one of the sidewalk vendors. The others hadn't very much but I had fairly regularly from one of the vendors on the Lower Eastside. The cart we passed on our way to dinner was
I checked it out via the NY Times list and it is 17th on the list. The NY Times said:
These days, there may be more halal carts than hot-dog stands, but you will recognize this one by its never-ending line. You will also know it by its signature bright-yellow plastic bags and employees’ T-shirts, which proclaim, in no uncertain terms, we are DIFFERENT. TASTY. DELICIOUS. This opinion is echoed on a fan-based Website (, in a Young Muslims of North America chat room, and especially by the polyglot mixture of cabbies and bridge-and-tunnel pleasure seekers who crowd the corner every night, turning it into an impromptu alfresco cookout. The stand has even made it onto Wikipedia, under the name “Chicken and Rice,” and gained a more tragic form of notoriety last fall, when one customer stabbed another to death after a line-cutting scuffle. While no $6 lamb-and-chicken-combo platter is worth dying for, this one benefits from the constant turnover and the harmonic convergence of a hot red-chile sauce and a mysterious white one, the contents of which the Halal Chicken and Gyro crew cannot be sweet talked into revealing. An even bigger secret than the white-sauce recipe is the fact that HC and G operates a second cart across Sixth Avenue, on the southeast corner of 53rd Street, and even though it’s parked there until 2 a.m., it’s never cultivated the same devout following—proof, perhaps, of the herd mentality: The longer the line, the better it must be.

It may well be fantastic food but why people don't queue up at the other van from the same food vendor that is on the opposite side of 6th Avenue. It is literally across the street and the same food. Compare the length of the queues- well nothing to compare really.

Perhaps one day I'll try the food there myself but we went on to the China Grill and had a banquet of a meal and waddled home afterward.

Friday, August 22, 2008


It was time to get out o the apartment- I really felt like a walk and I desperately needed a haircut so the walk up to 57th Street and Salon Ziba was a good way to kill two birds with one stone. It has been just beautiful weather the last few days so the stroll along Broadway to 57th was very pleasant. And successful as I managed to make an appointment for my hair cut later in the day and get out in the lovely weather.

On my way back down Broadway I was passing the Belly Deli and noticed the seized sign posted on the door. Proof that Benjamin Franklin was right when he said "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." The Belly Deli it would appear has somewhere along the way not paid taxes and is now closed. It wasn't really a place I used or visited regularly but have on the odd occasion slipped in there for milk or tea bags. Guess I wasn't contributing enough to their income to assist them in avoiding the tax man!

The remainder of my day was spent filling in time to get to the hairdresser and then after the hairdresser chatting with Anne another AUSSIE who called in on her way home to Queens. She had arrived back yesterday so too is struggling with jet lag. After a short while she headed home and Sue decided to cook dinner.

The "barefoot chef" excelled herself really with a lovely salad and grilled fish.
Unfortunately I set the jar of peppercorns on the table instead of the pepper mill and so a major disaster when Sue tipped the jar upside down ready to grind, opened the lid and the entire content fell on her dinner. Luckily there was enough for us to dispose of most of her meal and enjoy the fruits of her labour.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jet lag recovery

Our Tuesday spent journeying back to NYC was relatively painless until we (Sue was on the same flight sitting next to me) got to catching the taxi home in NYC. I guess they need to do roadworks at some point but didn't they know we had just completed 24 hours of traveling from Australia and would really like to be home in our lovely apartment!? The other big question was why did the taxi driver go back on to the freeway? The result was a journey that should have taken 30 minutes (on a good run) took an hour and a half- we fell out of the cab at 1am completely kn#@kered!
The flight from Australia was on time and despite not sleeping well (what me? not sleep well! This is the woman who can sleep through fireworks outside her Las Vegas hotel window- okay so I got three hours sleep and then another two hours but that's not enough) the journey went really quickly all 14 hours of it.
The delay in LA really added to the journey- only in time spent! The six hours flying to NYC really flew ( forgive the pun) but it was enhanced by the business class seat, the food and the individual DVD player- unfortunately I have yet to see the end of the movie "Definitely Maybe" as they gathered the players before it had ended, but perhaps not a tragedy it was a good plane movie.

So here I am back in our glorious apartment in midtown enjoying a lovely summer day not too hot or too humid but trying to recover my body clock. What is the cure for this odd feeling of not being able to think properly? Yesterday I started to say something to Sue and had the first word out of my mouth and couldn't remember what it was I was going to say!

Today's effort to manage the mind space has involved
-up early particularly for someone on holidays! ie 5:45am
- breakfast at an outdoor table at Serafina's on Broadway and 55th St
- back home to bed for a three hour sleep! So much for getting the body clock working!

Since the extra sleep I've managed to fluff around quite a bit and am feeling okay now but I think my body clock is telling me it is 7am Melbourne time and it's okay to be up and awake!

I need to get my blog up to date so I'm going to try over the next few days to update back entries so there isn't a gaping hole in the month but we shall see!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It wouldn't be ... without...

Walking along the street in Anglesea I overheard a woman, as she popped in to the newsagency, say to her friend "I'll just be a moment- it wouldn't be Saturday without The Age!"
It got me thinking again about Australian icons and then icons in general and then just things.... thought I'd make a "It wouldn't be... without..." list. Add any you can think of too.
It wouldn't be a pie without sauce!
It wouldn't be toast without vegemite!

It wouldn't be a beach without sand!

It wouldn't be a road sign without a kangaroo warning!

It wouldn't be breakfast without coffee!

It wouldn't be an afternoon snack without a Tim Tam!

It wouldn't be chops and mashed potatoes without fresh peas!

I'm beginning to show my preferences here.

The trip to Anglesea was purposeful not just to get the newspaper but also the doings for dinner and to finally get to the clothes shop which didn't open until 11am and I was there bright eyed and bushy-tailed around 10am. I did my shopping in reverse order- got the supermarket stuff out of the way. I wasn't worried about the refrigeration of things as it is so cold at the moment I think the car interior is colder than the fridge.

I managed to find and purchase some lovely jumpers (to replace the ones the airlines haven't found from our trip to Memphis in February which I wrote about then), some long sleeved tops, a polar fleece light vest ($20 and they only had brown as an alternative so only got the light green one). One of the tops is merino wool (It wouldn't be wool if it wasn't merino!) and the shop assistant was advising me on how to wash it (in the machine and dry on a rack). She said the first wash put it in with a pair of jeans as then will remove any initial loose woolly bits. I then shocked her by saying I don't have any jeans- in fact surprised myself a little when I realized that! I'll have to borrow a pair to wash with the top.
The sea was glorious so I had to take more photos on the way home- having left Spencer in the back garden he was a tad frantic by the time I got home although not quite so frenetic as last Monday!

I spent part of the rest of the day catching up on my scrapbook class. The chat on Friday lunchtime (my time- Thursday night NYC time) helped me get things sorted in my head about what memories and stories I could use. The photo of my page ended up quite blurry but I am pleased with the actual page.
The story I told (against myself) is the one when I broke the lid of the biscuit barrel while sneaking an extra biscuit. Not too awful a crime except that the biscuit barrel was a Martin Boyd piece of pottery!

Spencer was fairly restless- every time I stood up he was under my feet so I thought I'd walk to return the 5 videos I'd borrowed and get some more to fill the evenings I'll have here over the next couple of days. Leash, dog, poo bag, videos, coat and purse and we were off.
The walk to the river shops is so lovely now (in the last 4 years) as the local shire has constructed the walk down below the main road which leads to the reserve.
As is my wont I needed to find a public convenience somewhere along the way and found signs indicating the possibility of one on the other side of the "swamp"- I didn't know there was a bark hut there! But I was on a mission and didn't stop for long so need to go back another time. I decided that the signposting must mean I needed to venture further along the road and up around the inlet and Painkalac Creek but did manage a photo and a pause to ponder how gorgeous it all is.
The punblic convenience was convenient to where I ended up and the visit to the video library stocked my supplies for the next few days.
The walk back was a tad more relaxed although I was perhaps too relaxed and slow as we got caught in a downpour that lasted about 5 minutes but was heavy enough to wet us both. The rain continued throughout the evening- wonderful! Not sure how much water we got but things are looking wet and there is a puddle on the "terrace".

Translations for some readers:
jumper=sweater; vegemite is the best savoury spread to have on anything!; pie= meat pie; sauce=ketchup; newsagency= newspaper seller; Tim Tams the best chocolate coated chocolate filled chocolate cookie every invented.

A great read is my sister Michele's blog about her adventures in Japan.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A different way...

The tide was out so we went a different way along the beach and home.
It all started out the same as usual the gathering of the essentials for a walk- the lead, the plastic bag, the dog, my camera and then out the gate.
While we walked along the cliff walk I got glimpses of the rock pools below and decided we would head back along under that part of the cliff and hopefully get across the rock pools all the way to the other beach.

Grand plans! First I had to get Spencer the well trained beach dog to head the opposite way was the first challenge. Then the young woman who had decided to do the same as me together with her two dogs made the challenge of keeping Spencer moving with me a bit of a problem however it was truly worth it. The rock pools were sparkling in the sunshine.
Thank goodness I brought my camera.

I got the obligatory (on my part) shot of the lighthouse and the beach but was able to get some shots of the rocks and rock pools that are usually covered with waves and sea.
Spencer did his rockpool things- trotting along and either wading or jumpig into any rockpool he came across. How can he do that and then spend the entire time he is at home lying on his bed trying to keep warm?
I guess dogs are great at living in the moment.

I got a bit nervous when waves started to make their way further across the rocks and decided that the tide had turned and given that I wasn't sure how much further around the beach was I turned back and walked back the way we had come. Perhaps if it was a warm sunny day as opposed to a warmish, sunny winter's day I may have continued.

Once we left the beach we headed back another way aiming to go near the top shops but instead we went along the side streets through the school ground and back home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Getting the chores done

With visitors due later in the day it was get the chores done early and relax!
The day starts with the laying and lighting the fire having released Spencer in to the backyard for his morning relief. Breakfast for me and a small snack for him and once the sink is shiny and polished time for my own ablutions.
I put the washing on and made sure the guest bed was in tact - no indication that Spencer had availed himself of the extra comfort it might have afforded.
I was hanging out the washing and remembered the photo that Julia took in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, all the washing on that particular line was black- mainly black on my line too.
Glancing away from the laundry into next door's yard the young father next door was shepherding his kids in to the car but had stopped his son and was inspecting his head and picking things out of the boy's hair. I knew what that indicated! He called good morning and I commented on the task in front of him. We then proceeded to have a longish conversation about the problems of keeping kids free of head lice when others in the pre-school don't take as much care.
On my way back into the house I noticed another fungus growing on the corner of the steps. Proof that there must be more water around this year. Things are blooming in the garden too.
Washing and chat done I began the task of refilling the big green wheelie bin with kindling . The twigs and leaf litter from the eucalyptus provide great kindling for the fire and the bin was low. I should have done it on Thursday before the rain but it will dry out in the bin and be useful during the coming weeks.

The kindling gathering brought to light the presence of "barker's eggs" in various parts of the yard so a further little task to complete.
I also put the recycling out as Spencer had found the washed polystyrene trays from the meat and had managed to try to get sustenance from them and in the process spread them throughout the house. He gets as much joy out of tissues in the waste bin if you aren't careful!
Ah the joys of dog ownership and domestic chores!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The woodman cometh

The woodfire has been my constant companion over the past few days. The other morning it was really cold particularly as I hadn't had a fire the night before having driven back from "the city" late t night and not having lit the fire but jumped straight in to bed.
Michele had stocked the wood heap on the day I arrived from NYC but with the cold we needed more wood.
The woodman was rung-th and he eventually came-th at the end of the day. The process in the past was the wood was dumped on one side of the fence and then we had to fling in over the fence in front of the wood "shed" and then stack it. Fortunately this woodman (Mark) backed his trailer to the fence and did the over the fence fling for us.

While I was waiting to pay him we chatted about the work of a wood contractor. I know I should have thought more about where the wood we were burning away in our lovely fireplace came from however Mark's comment about his work really brought it home.
I'd had asked about the previous wood supplier and Mark was talking about getting the wood from up the river which involved a whole days travel collection and return. The river he was talking about had to be the Murray so the wood must be Murray River redgums! Hopefully not

from old growth forests. Perhaps I should be researching other forms of heating but then electricity isn't necessarily the most efficient way to heat out lovely house so for now it's stack the wood heap and think about it all.
Stacking the wood heap doesn't take very long but it does give the back a bit of a work out and the fashionable green gardening gloves help prevent splinters.

Getting the fire going in the morning has been problematic these past couple of days. I have finally gotten over the need to build a fire a girl guide would be proud of- that is the careful gathering and crushing up of "punk", the fine twigs and then tiered on top the little sticks , then the larger sticks; careful striking of the match and lighting the punk and feeding on other sticks until the blaze really catches before putting on a small log building up to larger logs and then enjoying the fires blaze. Instead I now ball up a whole lot of old newspaper shove in some leaf litter and twigs from the bin near the wood-heap and as soon as possible shove a log of wood on. Lighting the fire can involve only one match but perhaps more if needed- girl guide training out the window!

Needless to say sometimes the fire hasn't been as effective as I would like and I curse my stupidity in ignoring all that good girl guide training so perhaps next time I call on my guiding training as a taking time with the laying of the fire will save time in the end.
The sunshine in the morning can be quite deceptive and we got lots of rain during the day so having the fire going seemed to ward off some of the gloom.