Oh What a Storm!

Other than a few leaky windows my apartment was a safe harbor from the terrible storm Wednesday night, sadly many New Yorkers were not so fortunate.

Photos show the before and after Central Park Lake flooded the Bethesda Fountain Terrace

A huge tree down on one of the paths in Central Park. The tree removal services were on the job everywhere
Machine being used to suction water out of the church basement next to my apartment building

Sometimes It’s the Journey Rather Than the Destination and Sometimes It’s Both

A few days ago I decided I deserved a reward for my fine attitude and behavior during the lockdown. I didn’t want anything dramatic like a piece of jewelry, (who wears jewelry anymore?) or new clothes (good heavens, I have a closet full that I’ve barely worn over the last 16 months and, since they all seem to have buttons and waists, I may never wear again).

I decided a Jo Malone scented candle was the perfect choice, sufficiently self-indulgent and something I’d wanted for a long time. I even knew the exact scent I craved, Lime, Basil and Mandarin, very light and fresh and for whatever reason, reminds me of a cool summer day (how’s that for poetry?).

 To make sure this was still my choice I decided to go to an actual store and have a real person wait on me (emphasis on the “wait on me” part). Fortunately, just as google promised, the Jo Malone store in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle was still in business, so last Friday morning I happily set off on my quest.

As I entered the tiny, well-appointed shop Frank, the Manager, and the only other person who could fit in the store, greeted me with a friendly smile and a big hello. Candles of all sizes were displayed on glass shelves in clear glass containers with shiny silver lids and black ribbons all looking lovely and esthetically pleasing.  Frank agreed I had chosen an excellent scent then asked if I wanted to purchase a diffuser along with the candle, if so, he suggested I buy the large candle to assure that the scent would “gently waft through the rooms and perfume the entire home”. I explained that “the entire home” was a small NYC apartment which definitely wouldn’t require more than one small candle. “Aha” said Frank indicating that he understood, then proceeded to tell me he had a three-bedroom house on the beach in New Jersey which required three diffusers and three of the largest candles (and you are schlepping to Columbus Circle to work everyday? said the thought bubble appearing over my head).

Next my new friend Frank asked what turned out to be his most important question, was this my first Jo Malone candle? Tempted as I was to lie and say no thus avoiding the possible risk of being candle shamed, I meekly answered yes, this was indeed my first Jo Malone scented candle.  “Aha” he happily exclaimed again, then I will give you my new candle users tutorial” (seriously, a new candle users tutorial? said my second thought bubble). “Frank”, I replied, “you are very kind but I have used scented candles before and managed just fine”. From his expression I could tell I wasn’t getting out of that store without hearing his new candle users tutorial whether I liked it or not. What had started out as a happy excursion was suddenly beginning to feel like I might be in a Stephen King movie.  I quickly decided to ditch my cynicism, get rid of the thought bubbles and adjust my attitude thus giving myself a better chance to escape alive, and who knows, I just might learn something, which I did…

The first time you light a scented candle (Jo Malone or otherwise says me, not Frank) you must let it burn for at least two hours so the melted wax reaches the entire perimeter. This allows the candle to always burn evenly and release the scent efficiently.

Every time you light the candle clip the “mushroom” off the top of the wick otherwise the buildup of carbon will cause your candle flame to burn higher and your candle will soot and smoke.

The tutorial only took a few minutes but then came the elaborate wrapping process reminiscent of the scene in the movie Love Actually when Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) the jewelry salesman takes forever to elaborately gift wrap the gold heart necklace Harry has just surreptitiously purchased for his secretary while waiting for his wife.

Ok so I’m exaggerating, but only a little. First Frank carefully wrapped tissue around the candle and with a flourish placed it inside an elegant black and cream Jo Malone box. Next he proceeded to spray perfume on reams of more tissue paper so I could “place them in my drawers”, then he delicately placed the box and the tissue paper inside a cream and black Jo Malone shopping bag after which he carefully cut just the right amount of black silk ribbon, meticulously tied it in a perfect bow to hold the handles of the bag together and ceremoniously presented it to me as if he were indeed bestowing me with a well deserved reward.

Despite my irreverent thought bubbles and cynicism the experience turned out to be unexpectedly unique and fun (and educational) and it all took place in an actual brick and mortar store where I was waited on by a man who clearly loves his work. Purchasing the coveted candle may have been rewarding, but the journey and the destination were right up there as well.

Morgan and Murphy

These two beauties belong to my friend Judy Stewart. I spent the day with them (and Judy) on Sunday and just had to share this great photo. They are not only beautiful but also very camera savvy hence the big smiles and casual pose they assumed as soon as they saw me aiming my phone in their direction. To quote Designer Extraordinaire Jennifer Lissner Kranitz “Nothing is more right in this world than those dogs in that room /on that floor!”

A Magical Afternoon

If you could spend an afternoon with two of your most favorite people on the planet (daughter Wendy and granddaughter Rian to be more specific) learning to make a gorgeous spring flower arrangement who would you choose to be your private instructor? If you were lucky enough to choose Bella Meyer you would be learning at the feet (or hands) of a true master! As my birthday gift Wendy arranged an afternoon session for the three of us with Bella in her magical flower shop, fleursBELLA located in Greenwich Village. She is a very warm, relatable & charming alchemist with an impressive pedigree. She earned a Ph.D. in Medieval Art History in Paris where she was born and raised, then after moving to NYC she opened her flower shop in 2005 to create “enchanted garden-like arrangements that evoke fantasy and pleasure” which it does, and then some! Imagine our surprise when we saw what looked like an original painting of a lilac garden signed by Marc Chagall, casually sitting on an easel on what we soon discovered was our work table. The painting was surrounded by huge pots of lilacs and various other spring flowers of every size and color ready for us to select from for our arrangements. An original Marc Chagall you might ask, how is that possible? It is totally possible when you are Bella Meyer, his granddaughter!

Hoping to try and impart a small sense of the magic of the afternoon I chose a few of our photos to share, I do so with love and gratitude to Wendy for the unique and wonderful gift which will always remain a treasured memory, and with gratitude to Bella for so generously sharing her magic.

Entrance to fleursBella, notice the little chair with an entreaty to “Please Take a Flower”
Bella at our worktable with her Grandfather’s painting as our inspiration
A closer look at our inspiration
Rian with her beautiful arrangement
Wendy hard at work
My finished arrangement, carefully transported home

The Misadventures Of A Brooklyn Tortoise And A Flock Of Sheep End On A Happy Note

This article from The Gothamist, an online newsletter about New York City news, arts and events, and food, published by New York Public Radio, appeared in today’s edition. I thought it was too good not to share with my many loyal followers (!). Now you can see why my oft stated comment “only in New York” never gets old.

A flock of young sheep huddled in the rear yard of a Brooklyn home. Meantime, Doris the tortoise is back home in Brooklyn.

BY DAVID CRUZMAY 1, 2021 11:07 A.M. • 

The separate misadventures of a pet tortoise and flock of lambs came to an end on Friday, with authorities corralling the animals and bringing them to sanctuary safe and sound.

The case of “Doris” the tortoise began ten days ago after the four-legged African Leopard Tortoise split from her Bay Ridge home after the gate had been left open. The owner, Laura Torres, organized neighborhood search groups and posted a reward for the return of the animal. A Facebook page dubbed “Tortoise Lost in Brooklyn” was also created. The hard-shell animal somehow lumbered her way to Staten Island (by swimming or crossing the Verrazano Bridge is anyone’s guess), surviving all those days on who knows what.

The Brooklyn Paper reported that Doris was found on Staten Island by a Staten Island resident who called the local zoo thinking it had escaped from there. Zoo workers were then able to reunite Doris with Torres.

“After 10 days, Doris is finally home,” the family wrote on their Facebook page. “We’re so grateful for all the love and support in helping us find her, and we are so glad to finally have her back.”

On the same day Doris was back home safe and sound, elsewhere in Brooklyn, eight young sheep were discovered in a backyard in Marine Park. The homeowner called the 63rd Precinct, which covers south Brooklyn near the Gateway National Recreation Area, who then brought in the NYPD’s Special Operations

Pictures posted on the special ops Twitter page shows officers corralling the fluffy younglings in a narrow alleyway and putting them in a small trailer with an assist from Animal Care Centers and the NYPD Mounted Unit.

The ACC posted a tweet saying the lambs are “safe” and on their way to Skylands Sanctuary & Animal Rescue in Wantage, NJ, about an hour’s drive from New York City. Authorities still don’t know exactly where the sheep originated

The tortoise and little lambs could not be reached for comment.

Almost “Normal”

Sunday I had an almost “normal” day. Despite the threat of severe thunderstorms three friends and I met at the Morgan Library to see the David Hockney exhibit (my son was totally confused when I told him about my day wondering why I wanted to see a hockey exhibit!).

Two of these friends are extreme fashionistas and the other two, one of them being me and one I’ll call JB are much more understated (lots of beiges and blacks). One fashionista only wears custom clothing made from the most exotic and gorgeous fabrics you could ever imagine and the other dresses only in wild colors and fabulously funky outfits.

After enjoying the great exhibit, we set off on our excursion to the restaurant for dinner about 1.5 miles away, JG in her gorgeous silk /linen outer coat with various and sundry silk undercoats and a few amazing scarves for good measure and JS in her flowered coat, sequined and polka dotted leggings and wildly colored sneakers. Then there was me in all black and JB in alot of beige. As we were leaving the Morgan JG and JS (sorry about all the J’s) noticed that the raincoat JB was carrying over her arm had a wildly colored lining. Together they demanded she MUST wear it inside out!

With great hesitation JB agreed arguing that everyone would know. We had a serious discussion right there in the Morgan lobby, examining it from every angle, deciding It looked great, and, since the label was under the hood, we assured her no one would ever know and that she was joining the ranks of the fashionistas.

On we went to dinner where we enjoyed a delicious meal and eachother’s company, together non-virtually for the first time in over a year!

I promise you this entire story is true but before I finish it needs reiterating…..

As we were leaving the very elegant Greek restaurant a couple at the next plexiglassed and socially distant table beckoned me over. Puzzled, I moved as close as I dared and in a “stage whisper” almost in unison, they said “tell your friend she has her coat on inside out”!

 It’s refreshing to know that in spite of being homebound for over a year some NYers haven’t lost their need to mind your business!

Dear Governor Cuomo (previously known to me as Andrew),

After months of never making a wrong move (which made me the envy of all my non New Yorker friends), why in the world did you decide to open up COVID vaccine registration to age 65 before all of the essential workers and those over 75 had been able to even make an appointment?

It almost felt like I was standing in quicksand when, after filling out the same questionnaire a zillion times, I would click “save appointment” and less than a nanosecond later the dreaded red sentence “sorry this appointment is no longer available” would pop up. Governor, please try to imagine how, I, and many of my fellow “older” New Yorkers feel after wasting long fruitless days searching every possible website in growing despair and frustration because of your decision.

Finally this past Tuesday I achieved what I was beginning to believe was the impossible dream, an appointment at the Mt Sinai satellite in Chelsea for 10:45 this morning. I was thrilled! I printed out my two confirmations, one received yesterday and one this morning, called an Uber and happily set off on a $20.00 ride downtown. After presenting my normal-temperatured and double masked self at the reception desk as ordered, I was told the Chelsea location “doesn’t give vaccines” and that even if they did the City of New York has none left!! I, of course, asked to speak to the Supervisor who, upon seeing my two confirmations was most puzzled and apologetic. She explained that after you, Governor, opened up the next category their website, in essence, had a nervous breakdown (my interpretation of her words)!

Andrew how could you do this to me (to us)? I am beyond disappointed in you and your decision, therefore, difficult as this is, I’m breaking our engagement and sending your ring back.

Below is his reply which makes me wonder which “appropriate staff member” handles his broken engagements? (note not even “Dear Florence”)

Thank you for your email. To build a stronger, better New York, we need the participation of citizens like you – sharing your ideas, comments, and concerns. Your input is invaluable to our mission to create a government that works for its people, and I appreciate you taking the time to contribute your feedback.

I want to assure you that your letter has been received and that it will be read and shared with the appropriate members of my staff.

I encourage you to visit my website, www.governor.ny.gov, where you can review my Administration’s initiatives and familiarize yourself with my office and your state government. You can also follow us on Twitter at @NYGovCuomo and Facebook at www.facebook.com/GovernorAndrewCuomo for the latest updates.

Thank you again for sharing your perspective and for joining in the effort to build a new New York.


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

A Message for Congress

I’m listening to the members of The House of Representatives discuss moving forward with Articles of Impeachment and shaking my head in disbelief. Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, ranking member on the House Rules Committee, opened the debate by saying the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol is “the darkest day” of his career in Congress. And then he argued that pursuing impeachment “would only further divide the country”….. “I can think of no action the House can take that is more likely to further divide the American people than the action we are contemplating today.” Is he serious?!!

I held myself back from writing about the terrifying and heartbreaking events in Washington a week ago because I saw no reason to add to the “noise”. Mr. Cole’s speech however, also the rallying cry of many of his Republican colleagues in the House, was a bridge too far. Weren’t you there in the Halls of Congress last Wednesday as an angry mob brandishing weapons stormed in causing you and your colleagues to fear for your lives? Have you not seen the video of the President emboldening the crowd saying “you will never take back our country with weakness” or watched the terrifying violence that took place on the Capitol steps immediately afterwards?

Are we so brainwashed by Trumpism that we are willing to let bygones be bygones and allow the President of the United States to incite insurrection then all join hands and sing Kumbaya?  Please explain to me Mr. Cole, when and under what circumstances it is ok for anyone, let alone the President of the United States, to encourage an angry mob to storm our Capitol, threaten to kill the Vice President and the Speaker of the House and terrorize, not only an entire branch of the Government, but the whole country?

In your opinion and those of your colleagues like Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz, if we impeach Mr. Trump with only seven days to go in his term, we will further divide the American people. I say seven more days of this is much too long!

Where were you when we were warned about Donald Trump’s corruption or when we saw and heard his rallying cries to his base, not just last Wednesday, but over the past four years through not-so-subtle dog whistles?  Whose fault is it that in a few days there will not be a peaceful transfer of power and instead, thousands of troops are now on high alert, not only in Washington, but in every Capitol city around the country? How is this acceptable under any condition let alone when incited by the angry words of the head of our government who led the charge?

I fear that by doing nothing our country and the entire world, friends and foes alike, will see us tolerating the same behavior we rise up against when it occurs in other countries. How can we ever take the moral high ground again if our Representatives in Congress turn their backs on these egregious acts. Congress must vote to impeach thus sending a message that, although bruised and battered, we are still a Democracy.