My premonition was right

I told you I get premonitions and things like that. Well, my recent premonition on Thanksgiving payed off. I avoided going to my family for Thanksgiving because I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be safe and lo and behold, my nephew’s father-in-law now has covid!

So now they are all quarantining. Unfortunately, his father-in-law never saw a mask he didn’t hate.

Hope they are all well and learned their lessons about big family gatherings – not a good thing to do.

Snoopy and The Dakota

I took this picture in 2012 at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. I’m usually downtown more for the parade, but that year, I was at 72nd and Central Park West, right in front of The Dakota apartment building, which you can see here in the background.

This is one of my favorite photos. I love everything about it and there’s an interesting story about it that happened a day or two later.

After Thanksgiving, I was shopping around the Christmas Market down at Union Square and I stopped in my tracks. One guy was selling drawings of New York scenes and he had this exact scene you see above. He had the Snoopy balloon floating by the Dakota. Exactly! But it wasn’t the photo – it was a black and white drawing!

I don’t know why I didn’t buy it, but that was one of those instances where you are in the right place at the right time or something like that. I showed the photo on my phone to the guy at the booth selling the art and he was flabbergasted, too.

What I loved about that particular day when I was at the parade was that I was in the park. I had crossed over from the east side to the west side, but it was too crowded to get out onto the street, so I watched from inside the park. As I walked down to get to the train station to take the train to queens for my cousin to pick me up, I did it inside the park, and it was a strange experience. I was experiencing the parade almost from backstage. All the action was outside the park, but the leave-less trees allowed me to watch it through the branches from a distance, from inside the park; almost as if backstage, as if I was not actually at the event, but watching from afar. Hard to explain but very memorable.

Weird Thanksgiving this year

Central Park, Nov. 2016

So I was alone for Thanksgiving! First time ever. It was weird, sort of like the first time I ever spent New Year’s Eve alone. That I have grown to like, I don’t think I’ll ever grow to like being alone on Thanksgiving. But this year I did it.

I’m usually in New York for Thanksgiving. This year I was going to do my Boston thing and take the train down to NY, but it was not to be. My family was at my nephew’s house. He and his wife moved in to a big new house recently and they sort of took over family holidays I think, so I should have been there, but I kept hearing on tv that we should be mindful of others and not go to family gatherings unless we physically live with the people.

I had been to their house earlier in the year and to my other nephew’s house earlier this year, too, when we should not have been. They both had birthday parties for their young daughters who I don’t think will ever remember the parties, they are too young, and these parties had upwards of 50 people each! And each time I went, I regretted it later.

So regarding Thanksgiving, I felt that even if there were only going to be a few of us, maybe 15 people or less, it wasn’t a good idea to go. I get premonitions and I got one that told me not to go. My gut was telling me not to tempt fate. Thankfully I made it through those two birthday parties unscathed,and it’s not a good idea to play with mother nature or question your gut feelings.

I spoke with my cousins and aunt and uncle in New York earlier in the day. I really miss our yearly tradition. It’s been a thing since I have been in high school – almost every year in New York. My mother always would complain that I was the only person who left their family for the holidays, meaning I would leave them here to go up north. And I would say, “Mom, I am here for every other holiday!”

I would go to the Macy’s parade; a few years ago it was 17 degrees! I was proud of that one, reminds me of when my cousins and I would go as kids – we would get cocoa at McDonald’s to warm up those days. Anyway, now I have the same routine – I would go to the parade, leave that a bit early, maybe 11:30 or so, get on the train at Grand Central and one of my cousins would pick me up at the next stop in Queens – Vernon-Jackson – in Long Island City.

We would go to her house and have bagels, pastries and coffee, then we would watch the dog show which comes on after the parade. I find the dog show boring, but I would get into it and watch with them. At 2 pm, we would head over to my other cousin’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and everyone else would be there, there would be maybe 20 of us in total. I miss that. All of it, even the boring dog show.

But this year I was at neither place for Thanksgiving. And I didn’t mind. I am counting the days until next year. But for now I’m content.

Last year at the end of November, I had to leave NY early – a nor’easter was coming and I had to get out three days earlier than I had planned. The airline contacted me and had me reschedule. Seems like yesterday, and that sort of consoles me thinking that next year will be here before you know it. Although I’m sure I don’t want to the year to rush by, but I do wish 2020 would end already.

It’s funny because last year, a friend of mine in New York missed Thanksgiving. He said his family left for their relatives without him because he overslept. I don’t understand that, but I said to him, “How did you miss Thanksgiving? Who does that?” And here we are a year later, and I did it!

I did have McDonald’s this year – but it wasn’t cocoa – it was burgers. That was my Thanksgiving dinner, instead of turkey. Life is strange.

A delightful train ride

Photo courtesy Railroad Museum of New England

This week I would normally be in New York for Thanksgiving but of course this year, due to the pandemic, I am not. Some years, like this year, my plan was to spend a few days in Boston and then I would take the train down to New York, which is a fantastic trip through New England in the fall.

This story ran in 2017, it ran in the Huffington Post and other places – it was a memorable train ride.

I travel a lot throughout the year, but in 2020 I did not leave town. I’m posting the train story here again, just to remember a great trip.

On Thanksgiving week, I took a four hour train trip from Boston to New York. Sitting behind me were two older ladies. They didn’t know each other and they just ended up sitting together and they talked and talked for that four hours. I know their whole stories, I know their names, I know about their kids and I loved every minute of it. I almost wish I had taped it.

One lady is 82 and one is 83. One is from Manchester, England one is from Rhode Island, they both had lived in New Jersey at one time and both were on their way back to New Jersey to be with family for Thanksgiving.

This video is 23 seconds through Connecticut, and you can hear the ladies speaking behind me. It’s low, but listen . . . It’s amazing, when I hear them it brings me right back to that moment.

The lady from Rhode Island talked like Cyndi Lauper. Exactly. The lady from Manchester had that refined English accent and you can imagine these two accents going back and forth sharing their lives with each other. Cyndi Lauper was nosy and nervy, she asked a lot of personal questions, and Manchester calmly answered them.

Manchester has two children, one in Washington DC and one in New Jersey, I think she said she lives in Boston now. Cyndi Lauper has five children and nine grandchildren, they live all over and I don’t remember where she lives now.

They spoke about their husbands who have both passed, Manchester’s husband passed 10 years ago, Cyndi Lauper’s husband passed nine years ago to the exact day we were on the train. Cyndi Lauper was very into her husband’s life, it was more about him than her, and it seemed to be a man’s world according to her questions. She asked Manchester what her husband did for a living, rather than asking Manchester what she did. Manchester’s husband did many things, including real estate, to which Cyndi Lauper said, “Oh you must have made a lot of money!” to which Manchester calmly said, “No, just enough to live on.”

Cyndi Lauper’s husband was a highly regarded college professor. It was a hectic life being a professor’s wife, according to Cyndi Lauper.

They spoke of World War II and of all of the places they have been and lived. They spoke of the Royal Family. Neither of them like Camila, Cyndi Lauper doesn’t like Charles, but Manchester says he is not a bad sort.

Manchester came to the US in the 1960s. She said that period of time was a “brain drain” where all the good minds from England moved to the states. She eventually became a citizen with her husband in Elizabeth, New Jersey, they lived in that county at the time and that was the county seat and the location for the citizenship ceremony

The conversation was fascinating. And the thought of these two older grandmas traveling alone together was nice. When they first met, Cyndi Lauper told Manchester that she was nervous about traveling alone, getting on the wrong train and all but Manchester said, “We’ll you’re on the train now and the only thing to do is get off when it’s time. That’s it.”

Cyndi Lauper had her son picking her up at the train station and Manchester had her daughter-in-law picking her up at the train station. Manchester said the first thing she wanted to do once she was settled at her son’s and daughter-in-law’s house was to have a hot cup of tea. She said, “When she asks if I want anything [meaning her daughter-in-law], I will say ‘yes,’ a hot cup of tea!”

I did not look back at them the whole time, I didn’t want to spoil the image I had in my head of them. But when my stop came, NYC, I had to get up and leave, so I looked back and there they were, sitting and staring at me. I just stared back, I didn’t want to be rude but I wanted to take them in. Neither was what I had pictured in my head and I almost wish I had not looked.

========
Receive Tomversation via email each time I publish Click here.
=======

Charlie Brown back on broadcast tv

After screwing up Charlie Brown for Halloween, I never did get to see it this year, Apple tv has made a deal with PBS to show A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and a Charlie Brown Christmas on broadcast tv.

PBS will show the episodes commercial free on Sundays, November 22 and December 13 at 7:30 pm eastern time both nights.

Details here on the PBS website.

It’s NOT the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

So in the scheme of things, this Charlie Brown news is not important, but then again, in the scheme of things, the way this whole year has been, it is important. Even Sally is upset!

Charlie Brown specials are moving to AppleTV+. That means It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown won’t be seen on regular tv this year and possibly in the future. And also the other Charlie Brown specials probably will follow suit. Why? Money, I guess.

I know there are DVD’s (I have them) and there are free days on AppleTV+ where you can see it (Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1), but it’s not the same. It breaks with tradition. It was always a CBS show and I was not thrilled when it moved to ABC (I know, I need a life), but now it’s not on regular tv at all.

The last few years, ABC has been showing it twice. Same with the Christmas episode and it is just part of life. And this year we need traditions! We may not even have Halloween in many places this year, so this tradition is important.

There is something about everyone watching it at the same time, enjoying it together. I like watching things “live,” I like to see shows when they are on.

I guess it all boils down to money. Doesn’t everything?

I spent July 4th alone

I spent July 4th alone. I don’t think I have ever done that before. In my whole life I was always with people. It reminded me of a few years ago when I did New Year’s Eve alone. I had never done that before, I was always with family or friends or at parties, but one year I was alone. And I liked it!

I didn’t like being alone for July 4th though. I normally would be in NYC, actually, The Hamptons, with my cousins. These photos are from a couple of years past in NY. I usually do the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and at times have watched the fireworks from Manhattan when not in the Hamptons.  This one picture of Molly and me, in the car, on our way to The Hamptons last July 4th, is one of my favorite pictures. Molly is my aunt and uncle’s dog.

On Facebook yesterday, one of my memories popped up from three years ago – it was a little video I posted from a crowd at Long Island City, where I went to watch the fireworks over the East River, with Manhattan in the background. I don’t know how to save it and post it here or I would. There were literally tens of thousands of people there – all on top of each other. Wonder if that will ever happen again. I remember all of us trying to get on the subway back to the city after the fireworks – the crowds were backed up all the way up the stairs into the street. The same thing happened one year in lower Manhattan, near city hall, where the fireworks were over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Will we ever be in crowds like that again?

Anyway, one of my cousins called me early yesterday morning to tell me that it was still on – that everyone was driving out for the day. No one was sleeping over. They are all being quite careful in New York due to the coronavirus and that’s why New York went from having the highest rate, down to the lowest.

I guess I didn’t have to be alone, but I chose to be. I could have been with family, as our town and even my neighbors weren’t doing anything, but I know my family was doing things – boating, barbecuing, etc. Yesterday was the 14th day of me sort of self-quarantining after being at a family party 14 days before.

I didn’t want to say anything, but I was at this party for my nephew’s 2-year-old daughter along with maybe 50 other people. And not one person had a mask on and there was no social distancing. While it was all family, a lot of the people I didn’t know from his wife’s side of the family, maybe 50% of the people there – and they insisted on shaking my hand – even when I would pull it away, they would grab my hand! And my sister-in-law’s mother, who sees me all the time, insisted on hugging me – three times throughout the day!

So for 14 days I was freaking out – counting down the days until I was safe. Last week, a week after the party, my family had pizza night. I didn’t go and I explained why and they respected that, which was surprising, because in the past they would have said something like, “Get off your ass and get over here!” But they respected my decision.

Anyway, I spent July 4th alone. I didn’t like it. Hopefully next year it will be back to normal. Not the “new normal,” the old normal.

We made it to July 4th!

coconuthunt

So it’s July 4th weekend. Hard to believe we all made it to this date. I remember starting to shelter in place in March. I thought it would all be over by now. But I guess I was just fooling myself. This year July 4th will be different for so many of us.

Normally I would be in New York at this time – probably at my cousin’s house in the Hamptons for the actual July 4th holiday with the family. Many times I would be there for the weekend, but on the actual day, July 4th, I would be in the City watching fireworks over the river.

But for many years I did stay home and was part of big celebrations in our town. We did so much here from hot dog eating contests to fireworks with so much in between.

For a few years we had a coconut hunt! What we did was have painting parties for a month or two before. Usually on a Friday night at one of the local galleries, we had painting parties with wine and pizza. Anyone could come by and paint – and people did. By July 4th we ended up with hundreds of coconuts.

At a given time, we would have the contest. We would hand out clues to people and they would run out into the village trying to find coconuts. Certain coconuts were winners – for instance, the golden coconut was the grand prize coconut, then there were others. We had numbers on all the coconuts and they were called randomly at the end and people would win all sorts of prizes.

We even had Lucie and Desi Arnaz Jr. one year for July 4th. They recreated a famous Lucy and Desi Sr. photo at City Hall here in the village. Fun times.

Christmas in July

miss-fisher

Miss Phryne Fisher

I was watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries the other night and it was Christmas in July. The show takes place in Australia and it turns out that Australia has two Christmases. They have the regular one on December 25 and another in July.

You see, in December, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, so to have a snowy and cold Christmas, they do it again in July, which is the coldest month. I never heard that before. Imagine having two Christmases. It’s hard enough having two!

Missing the holidays in small town America

southampton6

I had to come home to Miami from NYC a few days early, due to a Nor’easter or something similar coming this weekend. I left early Saturday morning and the storm is coming Sunday and Monday and possibly Tuesday. I had planned to come home Monday morning, which is no big deal except for the fact that I am going to miss the Christmas parade and event this year in Southampton. I have many pictures here from last year.

It’s such a great event, I looked forward to it for months. I drive out there from the city with some of my cousins and we make a nice day of it – eating, shopping, the Christmas parade, the tree lighting and fireworks, all in small town America!

I was lucky to be able to change my flight so easily. I had choices, too, so I wasn’t stuck with some awful flight. I got an early 8:00 am flight and by noon I was at Publix, home in Miami, food shopping!

One funny thing is that my aunt told me she understood that I was leaving early and hated to see me go, but snow can be scary. I think she thinks I’m scared of snow. First off, it’s a storm, where the weather lady on tv said don’t leave the house all day Sunday, and secondly, and mainly, ever see that chaos at the airports where flights are canceled and people are waiting around for hours, sometimes days, for a flight home? That’s what I wanted to avoid. And I did. Glad to be home, but I miss NY.