Archives for category: vacation

ikuBEGN2Sfe3Oxes0wYv_eggrolls.jpg1Time for another New York City story. I got a million of ’em!

On our rainy Saturday, after tooling around Central Park, we decided to head down to Chinatown for lunch. Brian and Sasha were hankering for some egg rolls – the last time we had been in NY my friend John had ordered us some Chinese for dinner and I had one of the best egg rolls EVER. I think they were banking on a similar experience.

We had no clue where to eat or where to go once we got there, but we found a place that looked promising. It had ducks hanging in the window, so we decided to give it a shot.

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We looked at the menu. No egg rolls. Brian asked the waiter if they had egg rolls, and he said they didn’t. Brian tossed the idea around the table of leaving and finding another place, but it was cold and rainy out, and I’d already started drinking the tea the waiter had brought.

Rather than leave, we decided to order a few small things and then go in search of egg rolls elsewhere. We ordered some fried rice and spare ribs, and once we began eating, I wish we had ordered more food. It was fabulous.

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There was a family of 8 that came in and sat at the table next to us. They ordered about 7 dishes of food, and I sat watching them longingly as they dished them out to one another. We left, still in search of egg rolls.

It had gotten colder and was raining, so we going to find a place fast. A restaurant around the corner had a picture of an egg roll in the window and that’s all I needed to get out of the cold.

They didn’t have egg rolls. They had spring rolls, which would’ve been fine, except they only had vegetable spring rolls, and hubby don’t do veggie spring rolls. But we were already inside, so we ordered some dumplings and chicken skewers.

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Again, the food was killer.

While we were waiting for the food, my daughter looked up the history of the egg roll. We surmised that it was unlikely we were going to find egg rolls in Chinatown. The food here is too authentic – and egg rolls, while yummy, are not authentic Chinese.

I was fine with that. The food we sampled at lunch was something I’ll always remember. It was warm and comforting on a day that was wet and raw.

Then we walked around the corner and got some pastries at an Italian bakery. That was the cherry on the cannoli.

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DakotaDuring our recent visit to New York, a must-see for our youngest was the Dakota and Strawberry Fields. With bad weather moving in on the Saturday we were there, we decided to make it our first stop.

While dad found a parking spot, mom and daughter hung outside the Dakota for about 15 minutes, soaking up the notion that John Lennon himself had walked these very streets. We watched the doorman point out the spot where Lennon was shot to an inquisitive tourist. Staring down at that spot almost made my daughter cry.

We then headed across the street to see the “Imagine” mosaic. There were a ton of people milling about, each taking turns kneeling, laying or posing in front of the memorial, while a “performer” badly played Beatles songs on his guitar.

When it was our turn, I have to admit, I got emotional watching our little Beatles fan pose by the tiles. We had finally gotten her here. This was her moment. Hubby took this photo of her there sporting her British flag Converse sneakers.

IMG_0693After Strawberry Fields we walked around Central Park for a while, ate a few dirty water dogs, and then headed back to the Dakota, and the car. Hubby took a few more photos of daughter in front of the landmark building, and we walked down W. 72nd Street to our car.

We all got in, and hubby turned on the engine. When the radio kicked in, “Strawberry Fields” was on…not the studio version, but the rare early take. Mouths open, we all looked at each other, dumbfounded at the chance of this happening. Of all the stations that the radio could’ve been tuned to when hubby parked the car, this was the very song that was playing after our excursion to Strawberry Fields.

We pulled up W. 72nd Street, stopped in front of the Dakota, rolled down our windows and blasted the song. I turned to my daughter and said, “It’s as if John is sending you a message–like he knows your here, and knows how you feel.”

It was a goosebumps raising moment, and one that the family will always remember.

Strawberry Fields…Forever.

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Last week we spent 2 days in New York City. There was a lot our family had to accomplish, and on our last night, at the request of my very bookish daughter, we stopped at this charming book store on Columbus.

It was an awful night weather-wise in the city – rainy, windy and cold – so browsing around this cozy, charming bookstore was even more delightful. It was just my daughter and I…hubby and my youngest opted to stay by the car.

In the back of the store there was an old gentleman sitting across from a woman with a little dog. They were chatting…or rather she was talking. As I meandered through the aisles looking the books and the kitschy knick knacks, I could hear her droning on about how her parents raised her the right way…weekends at museums, culture, art, moving on to a second conversation about how WASpy certain neighborhoods were getting.

My daughter had to pee, and I found the bathroom in a little alcove behind where the woman and man were sitting. After she went, I decided to empty my tank as well. When I went to flush the toilet, rather than the water flushing down the toilet, all it did was rise to the rim.

Yikes! Luckily there was a plunger next to the toilet. It’s an old building with old plumbing, so I shrugged and attempted to unclog the toilet. I plunged for a good 2 or 3 minutes, but the water never went down. Oh well, I tried.

I left the bathroom to go tell the man behind the counter when the dog woman said, “I’m going to use the bathroom before I head home.”

Ruh roh.

I turned to her and said, “You might not want to go in there. The toilet is stopped up. I’m going to report it now.”

She looked at me and went into the bathroom anyway. Ok…it’s not like I didn’t warn you. When I went to tell the dude behind the counter, he was helping someone, so I stood waiting, browsing books until I could talk to him.

The woman, holding her little yippy dog, comes out from the bathroom, approaches me and says, “That toilet is really backed up. There is water on the floor and the water is up to the rim.”

I say to her, “I know. I tried my best to plunge it…”

Before I could finish my sentence, she looks down at me and says, “Do you think it was right to clog the toilet like that? Do you think a clogged toilet is a good thing?”

To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. This pretentious, self-righteous bitch as insinuating that I PURPOSELY clogged the toilet.

I look at her straight in the eye and said, “No, I do not think that a clogged toilet is a ‘good thing.’ It’s an old building. I told you the toilet was clogged.”

She turned and approached the check out counter, placing her purchase down, and says, “I just want to let you know that your toilet is clogged. I can’t conclude with any certainty how it got clogged” – at this point she looks over her shoulder at me, and continues – “I’ve been coming here for years, and rarely have to use the bathroom. I find it disappointing that it was clogged on the rare occasion I needed to use it.”

After she side-eyed me, placing blame at my feet, I gave her the double fuck-you-middle-finger flip off behind her back. I’m pretty sure the employee saw it though.

She continued to complain, saying “it was the end of the day, so it’s understandable,” and he informs her they had been having trouble with the toilet all day. She then picked up her purchase and walked into the cold night.

I was furious. This was one time I wished I we’re a person who can deal with confrontation. I would have liked to have gone up to her, got respectably in her face, and asked her if she had nothing better to do on a Saturday night than to berate a mother from Virginia over a stopped up toilet.

When we were leaving and paying for our purchase, I apologized to the store employee for being the cause of him having to listen to the bitchy dog lady whine about the bathroom. I told him I tried my best to plunge the toilet, and he looked at me and thanked me for trying. This was obviously something privileged, rich-bitch dog lady would never stoop to do.

I’ll tell you one thing though. She is lucky my husband was standing by the car. Had he been there to witness her treatment of me, he would have reduced her to tears in a matter of minutes. It would have been an encounter that would’ve haunted her for years.

She might have felt good about belittling me, but that yippy dog yenta dodged a bullet that night. No, not a bullet…an Italian F-bomb is more like it.

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In late May of 2016, I unknowingly took my last drive down to see my father in Palm Coast, Florida.

We usually head East on I-64 and then hit I-95 for the duration of the 11 hour drive. But this year hubby got the idea for us to take an inland route to try and shave some time off our journey. In retrospect, this wound up being a huge bummer.

First of all, we got lost pretty early on. There was an exchange outside Farmington, VA that we totally missed, and we travelled a good 15 or 20 miles before I figured out something was amiss. We needed to turn around and go back.

But rather than backtrack to the place where we missed the turn, we tried to navigate our way through backroads in an attempt to recoup the time we had lost. And in doing that, we got even more lost.

For me, it wasn’t so much the getting lost that still remains with me today. It was the countryside we got lost in. We passed through several small Virginia towns that at any other time might have seemed quaint or charming.

But in late May of 2016? It was wall to wall trump signs. That entire, miserable trip down to my dad’s was nothing more than a marathon of small, trump-loving country towns. I feel like had we taken our usual route down I-95, I may not have been so assaulted with signs proclaiming support for the lying, orange conman.

And to make matters worse…we took the same way back home.

My dad died shortly after we got back from that trip. So the memory of my last journey to Florida? Yeah, it’s really marred. It’s soiled. It’s tarnished. It is also eerie. My dad hated trump as much as I do. He never got to cast his vote for Hilary.

That endless parade of trump signs? They haunt me. Especially now when the country is spiraling into disaster. It would have killed my dad. Seriously. Had he not died before the election, I think he would have given up by now.

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Recently I was on Martha’s Vineyard, and my sister, with a penchant for apple fritters, insisted we wait in line at Back Door Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oak Bluffs that will sell hot, fried, sugary delights from the back door from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

We had taken part in this new island tradition the last time we were up there, but we did it earlier in the evening and sampled the greasy goods while sitting in ocean park during sunset. I was never really impressed – perhaps I’m just not an apple fritter kind of gal.

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This time we went much later in the evening. I think it was closer to 10 pm and the line was enormous. It snaked back and forth along a roped off path; I’d gamble to say that there were at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I think the line for Space Mountain was shorter.

I was already weary after a long night of walking around town, but my husband and kids wanted some hot donuts, so we decided to wait in line with the family. While waiting we perused the menu they had written out by hand on a couple of sheets of poster board. My brother aptly stated “these better be the best donuts on the planet for this long of a wait.”

After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes, we finally went to place our order, only to find out that 75% of the donut varieties on the menu board were sold out. At no time did any bakery employee come out and announce that they were no longer available, or better yet, place a sticky note or a placard saying “SOLD OUT” over that variety on the menu.

Nope, these greedy mothers wanted to you keep waiting in line, KNOWING that you would settle for any donut because like an ass, you had waited in line for an hour.

Typical of Tracy, I was not amused…especially since I didn’t even want a fucking donut. I got the fried dough instead, which wound up being a total disappointment. I got crispy, over-fried strips of dough that more closely resembled bread sticks. My idea of fried dough is like what you would get at an Italian fair…a zeppole. I gave the bag to my sister who had smartly decided to have a few beers while we sheep waited in line.

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I won’t ever waste my time there again. If hubby and my girls want to that’s fine.  I’ll sit in the park watching the gazebo and hearing the waves crash along the Oak Bluffs beach – let someone else wait in line.

20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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Charlottesville, VA, the town that I live right outside of and work in, has become somewhat of a racial hot bed in the past few months. You see, we have a few confederate statues in town, and like they did in New Orleans, Charlottesville is having them removed.

Not only are they removing the statues, but they have renamed both parks, which were named after confederate generals. However, the new names they picked really suck. I doubt they’ll stick.

In any case, we had one white supremacist rally last month led by white nationalist Richard Spencer. They showed up burning tiki torches – it was a pretty fucked up thing to happen in our little artsy fartsy fairly liberal college town. The photo below was taken one block from my office…from where I sit now writing this…and it’s a pretty daunting sight. However, because they were burning tiki torches, one spectator said, “the air was heavy with both hatred and citronella.”

http---o.aolcdn.com-hss-storage-midas-81e85007b128e965a97fb7cb321d4def-205265721-Screen+Shot+2017-05-14+at+10.21.14+AM.pngThe following night,  hundreds of Charlottesvillians took back the park in a peaceful candlelit protest. It made me super proud of our community. We don’t take kindly to this hate stuff.  Had I known the counter rally was going on, my girls and I would have been there with candles ablaze.

C_1HJnOXoAE3uMv.jpg-largeSo it turns out the KKK wants to jump on the bandwagon. They have a protest scheduled in the same park on July 8th. My paper, C-VILLE Weekly is running an article on it this week. You know, I sit a few desks in front of the reporter who did the research for the article. It was very interesting to listen to her interview actual KKK members via telephone. It sure beat what was on the radio.

To quote the article (which doesn’t come out until tomorrow or I’d post a link), the reason the KKK is coming to Charlottesville? “We think it’s a shame they’re erasing our Confederate history, our white history,” says Jones. “It’s a spit in our face to take down our monument.”

There are several counter protests scheduled at the same time, and I was bummed I couldn’t be a part of it. See, that very day we were to spend the day in New York City on our way back from Martha’s Vineyard. But it turns out one of the counter protests is happening at the outdoor pavilion my husband works at, so we decided NYC can wait…we want to be a part of what could be historic happenings in our hometown. We want to be among those who stand up and say, “This is not what Charlottesville stands for.”

It’s sure to get National coverage….how often does the KKK raise its ugly head and come out from under the rock to stand up for its twisted beliefs? But I will be careful – my whole family will. To further quote the article…

 “Some members will be wearing robes,” he says, noting that it’s illegal in most states to wear the face-covering hoods. Others will wear black military garb. And many will be packing heat, he says.

And sadly, this protest on July 8th won’t be the end of white supremacist assholes flooding our fair city. There is another rally scheduled for August. Richard Spencer and his Alt-Right cronies are slithering into town with what will likely be hundreds of people to further rally against the removal of these statues.

Uff da…the bars and stars will be all over the place. That alone will make me crazy. But seeing actual robes? Not sure how that is going to make me feel at all.

Stay tuned.

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

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Yesterday I booked my passage on the Island Home ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We are going as a family over the July 4th weekend to spread my father’s ashes. While the reason for the trip may be somber, we are going to celebrate the place that, thanks to my father, was our summer vacation spot.

July.

6 1/2 months away and yet I feel like it’s right around the corner. I’ve got just that long to shed some of the lbs. I packed on last year. I’ll admit, compared to 2015, I was really inactive over much of 2016. The time to turn that around is now.

I made a goal of walking at least 30 miles in January, and shy of contracting the flu, I plan on shattering that number by the 31st. It feels good to have set a goal and even better to be sticking to it. I sort of gave up on my walking regime towards the end of last year. It was super hot during the summer, and then I just got lazy once the cooler temps came.

Sticking to a plan, even if it is just walking more, is quite motivational. I’m making other small changes each week that passes, and with any luck, it will raise the gung-ho spirit I need to really put my rear into overdrive.

Cause July really is just around the corner.

In response to the Daily Prompt, Locked

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When my youngest daughter was around 4 years old, we took a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, and stayed in the million+ dollar house that my cousin lives in. We wanted the girls on their best behavior so we would neither annoy nor cause my cousins to think we were bad houseguests.

About two days into the trip we were all getting ready to go to the beach, but my 4 year old had to go to the bathroom. There was a powder room right in the foyer, so I told her to go there and to hurry it up – we didn’t want to be the cause of everyone having to wait.

Five minutes later, I banged on the door to see what was taking her so long, at which point she told me she had locked the door and could not get it open.

Fuck.

The doorknob was a lever handle, as shown above, but the lock was not your typical push-button variety. It was a separate lock under the door knob…the type you had to twist right to lock and left to unlock. And for some reason, my baby girl could not figure this out.

There was a window to the bathroom, so we went outside to try and coach her through the window (which of course, was locked). After 10 minutes of us shouting instructions, she sort of gave up and just sat on the floor.

Hubby began to freak out. It had been at least a half an hour, and the crowd was getting restless. This was super embarrassing for him…the day was getting ruined and it was our fault. He told me to call the steamship authority and see if we could get on a ferry today…we were leaving the island.

This, along with the fact that my child had pretty much mentally shut down in a small bathroom, made me lose it. I paced back and forth outside the window chain-smoking and crying.

My cousins had decided to call their handyman, who was on vacation, to come to the house and drill through their very expensive bathroom door in order to free our daughter. The thought of OUR FAMILY costing them money and damage to their new home rattled my husband to the core, so he took action.

He drew a picture of the lock, and then an arrow pointing in the direction to unlock the door, and slipped it under the door. Then he quietly coached his little girl, and within a minute or two, the door opened – and none too soon. The handyman was standing their, goggles on and a drill in his hands.

She’d been locked in there for over an hour, and she didn’t cry once. I wish I could say the same. Then I had to talk my husband into letting us stay – that we would look way worse if we turned-tail and ran.

Because these are the types of things that happen when you have kids. Hell, I got locked in a bathroom the same exact way when I was a kid when we were visiting some friend of my fathers. I had to be rescued through the bathroom window.

One good thing came of the incident…My daughter got a new knick-name. To this day, my husband calls her “Locked.”