Chinatown NYC

15 01 2018

10 January 2018

One of my traveling friends, in New York City for a meeting, invited me to join him in the City and we agreed to tour Chinatown. So, on Wednesday morning at 8:15am, I boarded the Metro North train from New Haven to Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, they announced that an unattended bag had been found on the train and the dog sniffer would need to check it out before we could leave. After a short delay, we were transferred to another train, as the dog had not yet arrived. I found it interesting that we were allowed to stay on the train if there was a suspicious object. Another passenger suggested it was because the concern was more likely what could occur once the train arrived in Grand Central Station. That made some sense to me, but I still felt a little bit like collateral damage.

Chinatown bakeryMy friend Jeff and I met near his hotel and we began our walk to Chinatown. It was a brisk but sunny day and perfect for our plans. Before long, we reached Canal Street, checked out the Visitors Kiosk on the corner of Mulberry and headed towards Columbus Square. After being distracted by a bakery on the corner, where we purchased some yummies (chocolate roll cake, almond cookies for me), we made it to the Square.

Chinatown Columbus park

Despite the cold, groups of people huddled around tables and playing cards. I was amazed at how quickly English became a secondary language. Shops were narrow and crowded, with merchandise spewing out into the streets and hawkers trying to entice us into their shops. T-shirts six for ten dollars, how could you go wrong!

Chinatown photo from web aji-ichiban-dried-fruitBy now it was almost noon so we decided to head to the tasty noodle shop recommended by the online walking tour we were using. We paused at the Church of the Transfiguration (home to one of the largest Chinese Roman Catholic congregations), where the English version of mass was being held. We rounded the corner and were diverted by the amazing window display at Aji Ichiban Candy StoreWith small tasting tidbits on each bin (and tasting encouraged), I tried (and bought) the chili mango, kiwi, and longan, while Jeff succumbed to the diced coconut.

Chinatown lunch

We finally made it down Doyer Street, past the old theatre site, to Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles. It was quite full, primarily with people of Asian descent and language. We shared one end of a six-person table with two others were speaking rapidly and excitedly in a Chinese language. The menu was extensive but we quickly picked our soup: pork dumpling with hand-pulled noodles for Jeff and shrimp dumplings with hand-pulled noodles for me. We were given a wonderfully warm pot of hot tea and our meal arrived quickly. It included large pieces of bok choy and the broth was quite delicious. We were soon joined by a single person who sat next to me. Initially, our conversations were polite, related to our bumping elbows. But when Jeff mentioned reading the recent book about Trump, our comments elicited some response and laughter from our companion. It felt nice to connect and hear his comments which included, “Some of us came to this country to avoid this type of government.”

Chinatown forntue 50 (2)We left lunch to visit the Eastern States Buddhist Temple of America and sat in Noble Silence for a few minutes. Offerings included fruits and cans of some type of drink. Lilies and orchids beautified the small alter. We purchased fortune scrolls and Jeff was quite pleased with his, although I was slightly disappointed. After a quick stop at the Fay Da Bakery (chocolate/almond bun and coconut tarts), we walked past the Edward Mooney House corner of Bowery and Pell Street (the oldest brick building in NYC, according to its sign) to the old Citizens Savings Bank (now HSBC). With an entrance flanked by lions, the interior dome was stunning with attractive frescoes painted in four corners depicting success, wisdom, thrift, and safety. The Beaux-Arts building was designated a city landmark in 2011.

Chinatown forntue 1We then crossed the street to the larger Mahayana Buddhist Temple. There we again sat in Noble Silence and watched a woman clean a sparkling column covered with hundreds of Buddha images. I visited small alters in the rear of the main room, where donors placed papers, sometimes with photos of loved ones, for healing or honoring those who have passed. The sanctuary held a large Gong and two taiko-like drums. Upstairs, we visited the museum/gift store and we tried again the fortune scrolls — I liked this one better! We left the temple, outside of which was the busy entrance to the Manhattan Bridge.

We basked in the sunlight a while longer before ending our Chinatown tour. I know this is only a sample of the culture but it’s impressive to be able to experience another world only a few hours from home.


Hiking for Friendly’s: Elizabeth Park and Hartford Friendly’s

12 01 2018

9 January 2018

After a few false starts (due to weather and personal commitments), Cherry and I are off to hike to Hartford for Friendly’s! It’s 33 degrees, the first time above freezing in two weeks and a veritable heatwave compared to the subzero temperatures we’ve been having. And it’s a new year!

The ground is covered by a foot of powdery snow, now topped by a thin glaze of ice due to another inch of snow and freezing rain last night. We decide to keep it simple and head to Elizabeth Park, a 100-acre park established in 1894 by Charles M. Pond and named after his wife.

Elizabeth Park sunrise pointOf course, we have lots to say on the drive there. Cherry has made a list of the things she does that bring her satisfaction and joy and, as a result, eliminated one committee meeting from her busy schedule. I cheer her on, as we arrive at the parking area. Fortunately, most of the trails have been plowed, so we can walk easily around the rose gardens and through the woodland area. We cross Prospect Street to visit Sunrise Park and view the detritus of plastic sled remains. Cherry reminisces about sledding with wooden sleds that withstand much more usage that the modern plastic ones.

Elizabeth Park creekWe continue to loop around the park and I talk about my wildlife rescue training, one of the outlets I’m rediscovering in my life. Cherry observes that it lights up me and encourages me to keep working on it.

We return to the car after covered two and a half miles; it’s only 11:30 and I ask Cherry if we can go something unusual before we head to Friendly’s. I want to stop at Hartford City Hall to get a copy of a death certificate of my great aunt. Cherry is agreeable, as always, and we head into town.

After a few go-arounds, we find parking alongside the building and figure out how to use the meters and navigate the snowbanks. Neither of us have been here and are astounded by the immensity and beauty of the old Beaux-Arts building. I mention how I’ve made similar places a destination in my European travels and am stunned to realize there is such a place right here at home.

The clerk in the Bureau of Vital Records is extremely efficient and I have the death certificate in no time. This great-aunt Lena supposedly died in 1914 of the Spanish flu and my mother, born a few months after her passing, was named after her. When I look at the certificate, I see she actually died from tuberculosis and associated meningitis. I will never know if my family modified the story intentionally or it evolved through the story-telling process.

We then head to Hartford Hospital, where Friendly’s is located. I ask Cherry for help in locating it, since she had spent some time here unfortunately attending family health issues. True to form, Cherry is uncertain about the direction, so I park and call them. Staff walk us down the street and in the front door. Ironically, this Friendly’s is the hardest to find, most difficult to park, and who would have guessed!

Our waitress Keomy brings us water; Cherry and I discuss the unnecessary use of straws (last time, I sent mine back but I missed the chance today). We notice that the special ice cream flavor is Cherry Magnolia, one of our favorites from last year! We are already scheming to get to our next Friendly’s early enough in February so we can have it again and we haven’t even ordered today’s lunch!

Elizabeth Park Friendly's gift cardWhen Cherry tells Keomy about our project, she is impressed (and discounts our ticket 15%). As we wait for dessert, Cherry realizes that the meter time will run out, so I go out to add more money. She is very apologetic, as she was eating slowly. Obviously not a bit deal, we finish up. With our Friendly’s trips now legendary in Cherry’s family, her stepmother has given her a gift card that we use to pay our bill and head for home.

Not yet on the highway, I get a text from my wildlife rescue contact, Tommy. Security at the Gold Building has reported an injured falcon! Cherry agrees to the detour and, as we are only a few blocks away, arrive quickly. The injured bird is protected in a box, which I don’t dare open until Tommy arrives. I have no gloves and their talons can be quite destructive. However, I notice there is no movement in the box. “I don’t think it made it,” I tell Cherry. Within a few minutes, Tommy arrives and we remove the top. It’s actually a Cooper’s hawk and sadly it has not survived.

Hartford Gold building Coopers Hawk

After discussions with security about some modifications the building owner/manager might make, Cherry and I finally head home. I point out that our delay in finishing lunch put us in the right place at the right time. Cherry applauds my ability to find the silver lining in the situation.

Only one more Friendly’s to go! Any suggestions on what we should do next?


One Year

1 01 2018

January 2017, I started blogging regularly. Almost 50 posts during the year, plus 30 in April for the A to Z blogging challenge. Not bad. There were times when I felt I had something to say. Or something to share. Thanks to those of you who read. And commented. And followed.

January 2017, my daughter’s health stabilized, after five hospitalizations in 2016 for a life-threatening health issue. I am hopeful that she is the one out of three long-time survivors under her treatment regime (which twice almost did her in during 2016). We just celebrated one year of being hospital-free. I’m hoping 2018 will bring one year of clean scans.

January 2017, I started surrounding myself with people who were only healthy, supportive, caring, and nurturing. They are all around, easy to find, really.

A year can make a big difference!