A cold morning

It was a cold, eventually-to-be sunny morning, measuring up (or down) to 23 degrees F. I had just one outfit in mind for the weather - my old sweater dress from J.Jill, purchased over 20 years ago. It remains cozy, warm, and fits better now that it has during some of the intervening years. ;-)

Under the dress, for added warmth and a pop of color, is a pink raspberry long-sleeve tee from The Gap, purchased just last week along with this blue multi plaid flannel pocket shirt because the two went well together, and I am always in the market for long-sleeve warmth for winter.

Topping it all off was the wonderful poncho I wrote about in my past post!

But wait, there is one more piece to this outfit…over the December holidays Caroline (my daughter-in-law's sister) gifted me two sets of earrings from Ecuador, where she lives with her family. This pair is colorful and delicate, looking like a miniature straw Asian sunhat, and the tee shirt picks up the pinks in the earrings.

Ponchos & Sunglasses

Kasmira Kit is one of several bloggers I follow. She posts a daily mini-blog about her outfit for the day, and every so often her outfit includes a poncho. Just a week ago she wore this black and white poncho that so struck my fancy I began to wonder what it would be like to have a poncho that was cozy, soft and warm.

Yesterday was my first day back at school after a long and lovely December vacation. My return was stalled due to recuperating from a "lovely" stomach virus that hit hard on Saturday evening and keep me weak-kneed through Monday. Tuesday was a the "walk about the block" test – if I could walk around the block comfortably and return intact then I was fit to return to school on Wednesday, which is exactly what I did yesterday. 

Most days I have lunch with Helena, a colleague who has become a close friend since six years ago when we shared an office and began collaborating with one another. Helena spent the vacation at home in Barcelona. I met her mother several years ago on one of Carmen's visits. Well, it turns out Carmen handmade a lusciously soft, warm and comfortable poncho for me. Nothing like putting a thought out into my inner universe and have it come soaring back at me from a friend and her mother's good will! The first photo is me, plain and simple; the rest are my attempt at showing the world how strong I am especially with sunglasses on! Fred insisted I "stand up straight" by the last photo; I think he thought the angled pose not as flattering but I thought the angled pose gave me a cool edge. ;-) In any case, it was a cold 34 degrees today with a chilling wind, and this is what I wore to school; it kept me cozy and made me feel Barcelonian, even in my flannel-lined jeans!

That brings me to the topic of sunglasses. Mine are perhaps 20+ years old. I like the frames because they provide ample coverage for my eyes and provide a large area for the lenses. Since, weather permitting, these are usually the glasses I wear while driving, the larger lenses are helpful. My lenses are also extra dark to give me more than adequate sun protection; my blue eyes are rather sun sensitive.

However, sunglasses do more than protect the eyes. They are fashionable armor against the world. Not that armor is always needed; indeed, I often take my glasses off to talk with people as the dark glasses feel like an obstacle to conversation. I used to apologize to people if I didn't remove them, explaining why the glasses remained on. With that said, I am beginning to just simply wear the glasses and lessen up on my sense of them as armor. Just an interesting observation and I wonder if anyone else has similar sunglass sensations?

"I Opened a Book"

Ann, whose name is peppered here and there in this blog and on my Goodreads reviews, who loves books even more than I do (she is, after all, a children's librarian extraordinaire), and who is a most thoughtful person, sent me this poem. I have no choice but to share it below, for Julia Donaldson writes words of truth when it comes to Ann's, mine and Julia's love of reading books.

I've been using Goodreads for awhile now to keep track of the books I read, and for the past few years have participated in their Annual Reading Challenge. One nice side effect is that at the end of each year I am able to take screen shots of all the books I read during that year. 




2018 - This year doesn't have that fancy ribbon at the top because I waited till 2019 to take the screen shots and had to hunt around for how to access the icon list.

Books of 2018

To read this list chronologically (starting with January 2018 and concluding with December) scroll all the way down to the bottom row, and in that set read right to left beginning with The City of Brass. Alternatively, begin with Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers in the top row, read this December, and work backwards in time but forwards in the cover listing…

Like many a good book, my book list can be perused from multiple angles!

Mind the Gap (in the postings)

I was looking at the gap between the last November post and the first December post, and realized it wasn't for lack of something to say. Rather, for eight days during that span I was immersed in a Therapeutics Yoga Teacher Training in Soho, NYC. Between the 90 minute door-to-door commute each way, and the abundance of information to absorb and digest, I spent all "down" time settling in to being home, refreshing myself, and preparing for the next day of immersion!

Nonetheless, I wanted to "mind the gap" and fill in the details. For an overview of the training you can read about Module 1 here and Module 2 here, both entities on my Neurons Firing blog.

We were 36 or so for the first module and about 26 for the second one. Besides the United States, participants came from Montréal, Norway, Argentina, Singapore and a country or two that I am forgetting. Here we are in all our yoginess :-)

In many ways this training was just the start of my studies rather than the culmination of the Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training 100 Hour Specialty Course with Jillian Pransky. There is much to explore, reread, research, and put into practice. Indeed, now comes the deep learning!


[Updated 12/22/18 because the BOOK had to be included in the recap! Scroll to the bottom.]

Yesterday my friend Ann treated me to an outing in honor of my November birthday. We headed west to Tarrytown and Lyndhurst. Lyndhurst, named for the linden trees on the property, is an estate that sprang to life in the 1830s as the summer residence for William Paulding, the mayor of New York City. Here we are at Ann's home at the very start of our adventure.

About 25 years later Paulding sold his eight room home to George Merritt, who was responsible for changing the name to Lyndhurst. He also doubled the size of the house, extending it on both ends. Another twenty or so years later Lyndhurst was sold for the final time to Jay Gould, famous (or infamous) for being a railroad tycoon. The more interesting person to inhabit and run Lyndhurst was Gould's daughter, Helen, and then her sister, Anna. You can read a bit more about them and the home's history here

Our tour covered the main and second floors; if we want to see the below ground floor, which includes the kitchen, and the servant's quarters, we have to return when Lyndhurst reopens in the Spring for the Backstairs Tour. The house was decked out with 21st century holiday ornaments but everything else in the house is original to the house and the owners. Lyndhurst is remarkable for each successive owner opting to keep all the furniture and life of the house as they found it, making very few changes. As a result, it is possible to get a chronological view of the house and its occupants. Indeed, much of the owners' clothing and personal effects are in storage and are taken out periodically for various exhibits.

My favorite part of the holiday decorations were the many hats in what was Jay Gould's music room. Turns out the hats were each custom ordered and made for Anna.

The other fascinating bit were the windows in one of the Hudson River facing rooms. See if you can discern what makes the windows special. (Hint: Look in the lower middle portion of the window.)

After our house tour Ann took us a few miles north where we parked near the main street of Tarrytown and began the second part of our adventure, starting with a leisurely browse (and a purchase or two) at pretty funny vintage. Lunch was at the Sweetgrass Grill on Main Street where we shared a dessert of vegan chocolate mousse (oh my!), followed by eggnog and tea across the street at the Muddy Water Coffee & Cafe, followed by (no, not more food!) a walk along Main Street towards the Hudson and back again on the other side of the street.

And finally, a hearty Thank You to Ann! We have made for ourselves a tradition of taking one another out to celebrate each other's birthdays, and are determined to do this for the next 25 years!

As the year winds down I couldn't help but think that this special book was left off of this recap, and the recap is less than accurate as a result. Ann, librarian extraordinaire, always has a book at hand. For our day together she gifted me this one about four friends on their way to see Bear. They push themselves through a growing winter snowstorm, eventually being slowed to a stop at Bear's door front. And why go to Bear's in such strong weather…why to celebrate a birthday, that's why!

Diwali & Henna

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights and was celebrated yesterday at the school where I teach. As part of our ongoing celebration of the cultures of our student body, numerous parents organized the festival and prepared a wonderful range of activities for the children to participate in, along with displays of clothing and bindis for anyone to apply to their "third eye", the space between the eyebrows. As a married woman I choose a red bindi. (The photo is a bit blurry as I have not figured out how to take a closeup with my iPhone.)

Just after lunch I sat down for a 10 minute Henna session and was astounded by the speed of the artist and the fact that she worked on the fly creating unique patterns for each of the faculty who had signed up between 11:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon. The application consists of a tube, similar to the type of tube used to decorate cakes, being used as the "brush" to apply the henna. The henna initially is raised on the skin and dries in place only to eventually fall off several hours later. The body part should not be touched for about thirty minutes to give the henna time to dry, and then should not be washed or wet till the next day so the dye has a chance to darken and deepen to its golden red-brown hue.

The first picture is of the henna after it was applied, when it is dark and raised. Gradually, through out the rest of the day and into the evening, bits and pieces of henna would flake off, as if I were shedding!

Below is the pattern a full day later. I was told that it could easily last for about a week, which I am hoping is the case as it will be fun to share with family a week from today on Thanksgiving!

November 15, 2018

Perhaps you are familiar with The Beatles song "When I'm Sixty Four" but in case not, you can check out the lyrics. As a young teenager in 1967 the song made an impression on me because 64 was sooo far in the future…until today! And today the future is here, as I officially turn 64 a little after 11:30p.m. New York time! My husband turned 64 this past January, so for just shy of two months we are the same age, then it's his turn to leap frog. :-)

I LOVE celebrating my birthday, and today it was enhanced by S*N*O*W, which is falling as I type. Forecast to begin around 1:00 in the afternoon, I left school after my only class of the day and arrived home a tad before 1:00, feeling pleased to have missed having to drive in potential sleet or slippery, wet snow. Turns out the snow didn't begin falling in earnest till about 15 minutes ago, but my older son and his family, who live in Baltimore, had their school day cancelled due to the icy forecast, and they were out playing in the snow a little earlier in the afternoon. (First photo is looking out at the back from our kitchen window, second photo was taken about 30 minutes later looking across the street from our front door. The snow is accumulating!)

My plan, as in prior years, was to celebrate all week long by wearing favorite outfits crafted around dresses, but other than Monday the rest of the week has been burrrry cold and I opted for flannel lined jeans yesterday and today. However, there are other joys of the week…

We hung out the bird feeder just in the nick of time, a day before the first evening freeze, and "our" birds are back with all their pecking orders, colors, and wonderful company. We often turn our stools during breakfast to enjoy our meal with the birds.

And the simple pleasure of finally, after months without, replacing my old, worn bedroom slippers, which arrived yesterday, has my feet smiling, especially in the mornings.

However, I have saved the BEST for last! I arrived home to one surprise and one anticipated delight – flowers from our older son (unsigned card, but the sentiment leads me to believe…) and an Apple Pie from my baker-extrordinaire husband, who knows how much his Apple Pie is appreciated (and not just by me…our grandson often has asked for that for his birthday "cake" when he knows we are coming.)

Yea for Birthdays!

Victoria Souvenir, Restyled

I have been waiting all Fall to wear this swirly second-hand skirt, perfectly colored for Autumn and bringing bounce to every step of the day! Wednesday dawned sunny and warm, and I would be presenting at an admissions open house event in the evening. My plan for this outfit came together a few days earlier, aiming for a bit of spiffiness coupled with a bit of spunk. I received compliments on the outfit and felt "like a rock star" all day, as Sheila would say!

Story behind the skirt is here. Story behind the boots is here. The multi-colored bolero-type sweater is from J.Jill years ago, necklace by my neighbor's daughter, also years ago. And if you are wondering who Sheila is, check out her blog here.

Election Day 2018 (yesterday)

I was determined to help out and do something active on Election Day – either drive people to the polls or knock on doors and remind people to vote. In an email from the local representative of Moms Demand Action, a group advocating for common sense gun laws, it was noted that Pete Harckham, running for New York State Senate, received an F rating from the NRA (National Rifle Association) and his opponent received an A rating. I promptly checked out Pete's views on the issues of his voting area, which is across the county from where I live, and realized that if he were running in my area I would be voting for him, so I signed up to canvas for him on Election Day.

But first, Fred and I walked up to our polling place to vote at 7 in the morning, delighted by the heavy turnout. Then off I went to school for first and second period classes, my only classes of the day. After an early lunch I headed north to Sleepy Hollow, smiling because this district encompasses Phelps Memorial Hospital where our grandson was born in 2015.

I was not completely clear about where to report, first being asked to stop by one person's home to pick up materials and then being confirmed for working at Philipsburg Manor, so I went to the home first. It turns out that canvassing was no longer necessary but I was welcome to go to the polling location at the Manor and hold a placard. Eager to do something, I took the placard and headed off to the Manor, relieved at being told there was an awning to stand under because it was pouring rain.

I knew that legally no placard holding could take place within 100 feet of a polling place, and had been told the awning area was okay. However, the first voter to see me immediately questioned if I was allowed to be where I was. Not wanting to accidentally be too close to the polls, I followed her inside and asked the poll watcher, who kindly came back out in the rain and explained that the edge of the awning by the parking lot was off limits but just beyond the awning was okay. He suggested I stand under the awning and hold the placard just beyond it.

In order to take the picture I set up my camera under the awning, stepped out into the parking lot and turned to face the polling building, which was the museum shop for the Manor. Otherwise, I was standing under the awning facing out towards the lot.

My message to voters was "Thank you for coming out to vote on this rainy day." About 10 minutes later a man heading in to vote said, rather gruffly, he did not approve of what I was doing and I should not be there. This surprised me a little and I was eager to speak with him after he voted. I asked if he would please explain his sentiments, and we proceeded to have a brief conversation. He thought Pete was a very nice person and wanted to know if I was holding the sign of my own accord or had been asked to do so. I explained that a representative of Pete's campaign committee had asked me to hold the sign. He then went on to say that he didn't think people should do electioneering at a polling place, that voting was a very private process and voters should not be subjected to advertising at the polls, and then off he went. Standing in the rain isn't the best environment for a conversation!

His comments did get me thinking back to my experiences voting. I did not have a firm opinion on seeing people campaigning at the polls but do have a recollection of having a conversation about that years ago (and do not recall what my opinion was back then!)

Soon after another gentleman stopped by looking for Kykuit. I directed him into the polling building, which also houses the ticketing office for Kykuit, and on his way out he stopped to say that he completely admired what I was doing. That was a pleasant and interesting change from the previous two conversations! Turns out he is British, recently retired from 32 years as a Barrister in London, and had returned to New York to visit those locations he had missed years ago when he lived here for awhile. His adventure would take him to upstate as well as Vermont. We chatted a bit and he went on to explain British traditions around elections, saying that placards and such were part of their process.

Before heading home I took a photo of the No Electioneering Beyond This Point sign, something I had not initially seen because in the rain and wind the sign had wrapped around itself.

The last time I worked on Election Day was in 2008 when, along with three other friends, we drove to Pennsylvania and spent the day canvassing there to remind people to get out and vote. That day felt momentous. Fred and I have already decided that for Election Day 2020 we will sign up to work the polls in the morning, and then I will contact a local group to see about driving people to the polls.