Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Friday, November 4, 2011

Winter In The City - and Other Tales of Near Disaster

We are back from our adventure - our foray east to New York City and Worcester, MA.  We arrived without incident at La Guardia airport last Thursday evening - October 27th.  It was raining hard- an omen of things to come - as we caught the shuttle to our hotel out in the suburb of Astoria.  It was nice to be out of the noise and crowds of the city proper, but here's a little advice: it's a pain to get back and forth when you're staying so far out of the city so you have to weigh the good deal you're getting on your hotel with the extra expense of getting back and forth.
View of NYC from our hotel room

I guess in our case it was worth it, but barely.  Question: whatever happened to cab and town car drivers who knew the city like the back of their hand?  Every driver we engaged expected us to give them cross streets and specific location info.  ????  Do I live here?  Isn't that what they're supposed to know?  In addition, the first cab we got into on Friday afternoon was driven by an angry Indian man.  He ranted and raved about rich people and how unfair it all was that they had many cars and luxuries while so many people were suffering.  We were afraid to say anything for fear he would toss us out of the cab.  We were on our way to the 9/11 Memorial, which is worth reserving a time slot and standing in line for.  It's amazing and beautiful and very solemn.  We stayed there for quite awhile just taking it all in.
One of the two fountain pools

The names of the fallen are engraved all the way around each pool.  Such a beautiful tribute.

It was a beautiful, crisp blue-skied afternoon, and we tried to walk a bit towards the wedding rehearsal location.  L's GPS wasn't working very well down in the canyon of tall buildings and it was hard to get a reading on where to go so we gave up and got in a cab.  Again, the driver had no idea where to go.  What is going on?  Between L's GPS and the driver figuring it out we got to the used bookstore where the rehearsal and wedding were going to take place.

It was very used book store-ish and we were wondering how it was all going to come together, but the staff seemed to have it together.  We rehearsed our placement in the ceremony and then it was off to dinner!  Again - the cab dilemma and at the dinner hour it was about 30 minutes out in the cold before we finally caught one.  I don't know how people who live there do it.  Well, they do the subway, but in this case, there was no convenient subway location.  The city experience that had seemed so fun when we were there before in the early summer months, was starting to lose it's allure in the cold that had the feeling of a storm approaching.
At the restaurant we were a large group with everyone's significant other, and it was loud and noisy and joyful.  Tim and Autumn have a really nice bunch of friends, and it was a pleasure to meet them.  A couple of Tim's California friends had flown out for the occasion, and it was great to catch up with them also.  We ate, stayed warm, and celebrated the upcoming wedding and the happy couple.  But then we had to catch another cab back to Astoria - GAH!  As we got out of the taxi we could smell the storm coming in on the wind.

We woke up on Saturday morning to a snowstorm with the biggest, fattest snowflakes I'd ever seen.  yay...  As we got dressed - me in a little eggplant jersey number that was summer weight with the lightweight jacket over it - I was already shivering.  I carried the gold sandals and instead wore a pair of black flats that seemed more practical to maneuver snowy sidewalks in.  If I'd had half a brain I'd have just thrown on the Ugg boots I'd brought.  But no...  L had arranged to have a town car pick us up, and when it got there we walked out to it...and I literally had to leap a foot from the curb, over icy slush, and into the car.  I'm sure I flashed the driver a great view up my dress as I made the leap (he didn't get out to open the door or help us in.  Sweet...) but by that point I didn't even care anymore.  We were to meet at the Tribeca Hotel to take pictures (thankfully not at a park which was the original location) and luckily it was not as snowy in the city.  But it was raining really hard.  Long story short, we all arrived, took pictures inside, and then the photographer herded us outside because she "didn't like the light" inside.  What the???!?  It was at that point I got grumpy.  I didn't want to stand outside freezing.  But the bride was so happy and cheerful and lovely that I couldn't stay crabby.  She wasn't about to let anything ruin her happy mood on her day and it was infectious.  We all caught cabs again (much easier when the hotel doorman is helping out) and arrived at the bookstore.  Let the festivities begin!
The ceremony was lovely, the bookstore was absolutely transformed with beautiful lighting and softly lit tables.  The place cards were names printed on library cards.  It was so cute and clever.  I feel bad that we didn't get any good pictures of the reception or ceremony.  When/if we get some professional images I'll have to share some then.  But it was a lively crowd.  Autumn is a stage actress and a lot of their friends are involved in theatre so it was a crowd of some of the best looking people I've ever seen, starting with Autumn and Tim.  We caught a couple of shots of them dancing and that's it.


I wish we'd gotten a shot of the dress, but L was manning the camera at this point.  It wouldn't have occurred
to him.  But it was so beautiful and floaty.  A work of art.

And a shot of Andrew gearing up for his best man's toast - he did a great job.  It was both funny and sweet.

The reception was lively until the very end - 12 midnight.  L and I managed to stumble out and locate a cab - no small feat at that hour.  We made it back to our hotel in one piece and fell into bed, ready to pack up and leave the next day to Boston.
We were hoping to get there, and settle into our hotel near where Katie lives by about 7:30 or 8:00 that night.  Wishful thinking.  There was a huge October storm, remember?  Every flight was running late, delayed by the stacked up flights that hadn't been able to make it in the day before.  So we had to sit in the wretched Newark airport (avoid it at all costs) waiting and waiting.  It was almost 11:00 before we were able to get to our hotel that night.  I spoke with Katie, and of course Mia had been up waiting and waiting for us to get there.  The storm had knocked out their power Sunday morning and it was cold.  I promised to be up bright and early, ready to go to breakfast with them.  We were all hoping the power would go back on during the night.
No such luck.  Halloween dawned with no power for thousands of people, including Katie and her family.  There were trees and wires down everywhere, with crews scrambling to get the power restored. L isn't much for breakfast, so I had him drop me off at the I-Hop we'd seen driving into Worcester and I sat and waited for Katie and crew.  So many people there for a Monday, and it was soon apparent that everyone had cold houses and just wanted to go somewhere warm for a hot breakfast.  Pumpkin pancakes were just the thing and it was so good to have breakfast with the little girlies and Katie and Zach.  Back to Katie's, where she kept apologizing for wet things hanging everywhere - no dryer.  L asked Mia what Mema had brought her.  "Oh... she didn't bring you anything?  Well, Papa did," as he handed her a dollar.  Score one for Papa.
We went outside and played a little bit in the snow, throwing snowballs and sending the girls down a hilly slope on a coaster.
Mia heaving a snowball at me

Finding the perfect spot to slide down

Hayden ready to shove off


It was Halloween, and we'd been so excited to take the little girls trick or treating.  Mia asked L if he'd brought his costume.  L said "What costume?"  Mia said, "Mema said  you were going to be a grumpy old troll!"  Hmmm... I'd forgotten I'd said that in a fit of wittiness a couple of weeks earlier.  Mia hadn't forgotten though, and was looking forward to that grumpy old troll costume.  L threw me a look.  Score one for Mema.  And note to self: be more careful what I say to small children.
Because of the damage from the storm, the cold, and the ice, the city of Worcester "cancelled" or postponed Halloween.  WHAT?  So no neighborhood trick or treating.  We'd heard that the mall in Auburn was going to have candy for the kids so we set off for there with the kids.  When we arrived, Mia was holding onto L's hand, just bouncing up and down.  She looked up at him and said "Papa, I'm just so excited!"
Rapunzel skipping with excitement, and Papa

When we entered the mall there were hundreds of kids.  Hundreds.  Most of the stores were already out of candy, but Mia and Hayden plugged along, holding out their candy containers where they could.


Our China Doll looking for treats...

            ...and getting them from Jerry Garcia at Macys...

At one point there was a large group of kids joining in a dance contest and Mia wanted to try.  I was impressed that she was so adamant about sticking with it.  She followed along as best she could until she was finally eliminated. 

Little Rapunzel, shaking her tail feathers...

Time to eat.  We grabbed some fast food in the food court.  Katie was bitterly disappointed - she had been looking forward to Halloween for weeks, and had pictured a much different night.  She was having a hard time so far away from everything familiar, and now everything was in chaos due to the storm.  I had to remind her that in Mia's mind, she HAD gone trick or treating.  She doesn't have the memories of whole neighborhoods of kids going door to door filling up pillowcases with candy.  She had a few pieces, and she was happy and excited.  But I know the feeling of having a vision of how things should go, and having it all blow up in your face.  Not fun.  I think that's what was hardest for me: seeing MY girl having a hard time.  The little girls were perfectly happy.
We asked Mia if she'd like to spend the night with Mema and Papa at the hotel.  She didn't even hesitate, and was very excited.  She thought she would be sleeping on the floor, so it was fun to see her eyes get round like saucers when we unfolded the sleeper sofa in the room.  A whole big bed all to herself!  And one tired, happy little girl quickly went to sleep.  At least one of them was warm as toast that night.
Mia snuggling with her "kiki" - or, as I like to call it "that nasty old blanket."  Mia will tell you that she 
knows her kiki is gross looking, but that it's "so soft."  Fair enough...

On Tuesday, L set out for Boston.  He'd planned a walking tour through Boston (he'd never been there before) and the little girls weren't going to be good for that.  Katie, the girls, and I set out for Target, and then had lunch at Ruby Tuesday.  It was good to see Katie enjoy a good hot lunch of tilapia and veggies after spending another night in a cold house.  I inquired at our hotel to see if I could get them a room, but everything was sold out.  Everyone else wanted out of their cold houses too.  I think that was the worst day for me - knowing she was going to go back to that freezing house, and there wasn't much I could do to help except keep Mia overnight again.  I kept hoping that the power would go back on. 
Hayden kicking it in the hotel room, wearing her MiaMoo jewels (Katie's line of children's necklaces)

Everyone stayed with us at the hotel until Zach got off of work.  We swam in the pool (sooooo nicely warm!), and visited, and let Katie and Hayden have a little nap.  When L got back from Boston he'd brought a little Spongebob Squarepants backpack for Mia, but Hayden quickly commandeered it.  Finally, sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 Katie, Zach, and Hayden set out for their icy home, hoping the power would be on.  And sure enough, a few minutes later, Katie called saying that the power had come back on.  As they approached their front door, they saw the lights on, but wait... they also heard the smoke alarms saying "Evacuate!  Evacuate!"  They got inside, and, after searching frantically through the house, they discovered that a wire in the furnace had sparked a fire.  They had gotten home JUST in time to avoid a real tragedy.  Lucky, yet unlucky.  Another cold night in the house before they got a new furnace the next day, and yet they still had a roof over their heads.
When we left, I had the satisfaction of seeing the new furnace being installed and life getting back to normal.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  And I cried when I hugged my girl goodbye.  I miss being around her so much - and these days when we're together we're dealing with the demands of little girls.  No time for "our" time.  And that's what I miss the most.
When I was in Denver I snapped so many good pictures.  Those little ones loved having their pictures taken.  But Mia and Hayden have a mom who is always taking their pictures, and they weren't having it with me and my camera.  So I got very few decent ones.  So I'll share some that Katie took - she's young and quick, and knows her camera.  But they capture the essence of what I was so looking forward to seeing.  Enjoy.

Yes, 2 year old Hayden is happy enough.  But let me tell you: her favorite word is NO.  She says it before 
she even knows what you want.  But she says it cheerfully.




The cutest little snow fairy ever... brrrrrr!

All in all it was a great trip.  Not what we expected or even sort of planned on.  But fun in it's own way, and so wonderful to be with people big and small that I love so much.  The area they live in, Worcester, is beautiful.  It's very cold in the winter, and that will take Katie some getting used to.  But it's lovely.  L and I scouted around on our way back to Boston and saw beautiful neighborhoods nestled around lakes and surrounded by woods.  Beautiful.  But in the winter?  Oh yeah, baby - it's COLD!


13 comments:

  1. What wonderful and precious pics! The wedding must have been just gorgeous, despite the travel troubles. Hopefully the good memories will stay and grow and the bad ones will leave and go. Beautiful grandkids!

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  2. Sounds like a fun trip mom. They will get used to the cold. I can guarantee its not as bad as North Dakota and I got used to that. They will all grow accustomed to white christmases and snowball fights and will end up missing it if they every move somewhere warm again. Those little girls are too cute. I miss them and those other little buggers in Denver.

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  3. What an adventure! I know at the time is was just a pain, but now it's got to go down as an "adventure". I know how it feels when you want everything perfect. My son's outdoor wedding reception at our home was hit by a tornado....but now it's just a memory that we can laugh at and a good reminder that we have no control and Mother Nature is a snot. So I hope they can look back and remember how brave and strong they were to survive the freak Halloween snowstorm of 2011! I'm glad you could spend time with those cute little girls. They look adorable. The snow fairy shot is amazing!

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  4. Sounds like you handled the good and the bad with equal aplomb. What a wonderful family you have.

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  5. Funny, I was going to begin with "Wow! What an amazing adventure"...but Yaya beat me to it...lol! Looks like you had a fabulous trip and got some wonderful pictures in too! The wedding sounds like it was terrific as was NYC (loved the shots of the WTC memorial) and NH grands. It's great to go away on grand trips like those and great to come home again too, huh?

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  6. Welcome back. So funny about the cab drivers. Your grandchildren are delightful ~ xox Alexandra

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  7. Fabulous shots of the trip and the wedding.

    Glad you got there and back again safe and sound.

    It sounds like it was a wonderful adventure, but I am with you, those crazy cab drivers scare me in huge cities.
    Blessings to you - Marsha

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  8. Maybe you could come back in the Spring? :) PLEEEEAAASE! I promise not to be so cranky! ;-)

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  9. Despite the few glitches it sounds like an amazing trip. I've always wanted to go to NYC. The cab drivers sound like a treat - not. I had a similar lost and angry cab driver in Vancouver. I was never so happy as when I finally stepped out of that cab!
    The pictures of the children are just precious :)

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  10. I'm breathless from the whirlwind! So glad you were able to see those adorable and fun loving granddaughters.

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  11. That snow fairy pic makes my heart hurt it's so beautiful!! AWwwwwwww!

    I'm glad you had a nice trip. The pics of the bride and groom are so sweet. Love!

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  12. It was so interesting to read about your experiences in the big city. I am glad it wasn't me being cold like you were. I shiver just to think of you out there without the right kind of clothes to keep you warm. It must have been awful too, to not have lights. What a great thing it was that they didn't have a fire.

    The wedding was worth everything though. It sounded absolutely lovely. The pictures are fantastic and I think Mia really has her Granfather wrapped around her finger. She seems to be pretty happy to be with him too. Grandchildren are just the best.

    And you WILL have to go back in the Spring so you can really enjoy visiting with your sweet daughter.

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  13. Oh,dear no, not even close. Just took lessons now and then, but have always loved it. Hope you have a lovely day ~ xox Alexandra

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