Monday, June 11, 2018

New York with the Family

To celebrate the end of Janet's radiation treatments some of the McMahons decided to meet in New York City.  Tickets were obtained for a Billy Joel show, one of Janet's favorite musicians, Jim and his friend Erin took an additional trip to Baltimore on the train to go to a Yankee's game with Frank.
  I finally got a chance to visit Ting in the neighborhood of Brooklyn where she and Xiao grew up.  She got me a room which was sort of a Chinese Air BnB, very cheap, but safe, clean and a good location.  I'm starting to feel like she and Xiao are family, they are certainly giving me a sense of being a parent.  Stranger things have happened.

New York with the Family

  The first order of business for me was to get to the Brooklyn Museum for their exhibit featuring David Bowie.  I met Stephanie and Mary there and we were all impressed by the scope of what they displayed and how it was presented.  I kept having the dates of events in his life surprise me, as well as only a couple instruments (but lots of his outfits) on display.  At least one was a banjo.  Sorry, no pictures allowed.
  I could take pictures in the exhibit about Mecca and how it struggles as home to millions of permanent residents in addition to the millions who journey there as part of the haj.  The Rohingya have been in the news a lot the last year, but I never heard this part of their story.

New York with the Family

  The ladies and I were to meet on the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday morning, but Steph and Mary got confused and went to the wrong hotel on Pearl St. to join Janet, Chris and Stacy.  They weren't to blame for the mistake, they went to a hotel with the same name and a street address with only one number different than what they were looking for, but it was at the other end of the street.  The delay just meant I got to go over the bridge twice.
  After spending some time in Brooklyn we took the subway back over to Manhattan and rode the Staten Island Ferry, caught another subway and finally met up with Jim and Erin at Macy's for dinner.  Did you know department stores have fancy restaurants?  I didn't, but Mary knew someone who knew someone who is a manager there and we got treated to some fine food.
  After dinner the rest of them went to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden and I returned to Brooklyn.  Jim tried to make up for hassling our waiter so much by leaving the ticket intended for me as a tip.  Hope the guy got off work and went to the show.

New York with the Family

  The section of Brooklyn I stayed in is known as Sunset Park.  I only visited the park in the early morning, too early for the sunrise, but enjoyed the view of Manhattan to the northwest.  I didn't make it to Central Park because I needed to use my time before getting the bus back to Ithaca to buy some new binoculars so I missed a visit with Pale Male.  It seemed like one of his descendants was accommodating and landed in a tree right over my head.

New York with the Family

  On both mornings I got up and out of the room by 6 to explore Green-Wood Cemetery not too far from where I stayed.  It was started as a rural cemetery in 1838 and has quite the history along with interesting grave markers.  The top photo is nothing sexist, just someone named Loser buried next to someone who was a husband.  I found where Christmas was buried, corner of Grape and Sassafras.  The first engagement of the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary War was fought on a hill where the cemetery is now, I saw Samuel Morse's grave and texted a photo of it, and the cemetery is the final resting place for New York's most infamous statue, Civic Virtue.  At various times women took issue with the male figure standing on the necks of women representing vice tangled up in nets and it was moved a couple times until it ended up here.

New York with the Family

  Like many old cemeteries this one had plenty of impressive trees.  What I really liked in Green-Wood was that it still had the original topography created by the glaciers, the hills, ponds and streams haven't been leveled and filled to build on, it was a little like being home for a few hours each day I was in the middle of the city.

New York with the Family

  Somewhere in Brooklyn.  The Out of Service bus was a good touch.

New York with the Family

  Before leaving Brooklyn to head back to Ithaca I stopped by Ting's restaurant for a meal and see the new restaurant getting so much attention.  It's a nice establishment with some sweet touches such as this peacock adorned with duck feathers.  Ting's a fine manager, I hope the place does well.  The food was good, I had their signature dish even though no one knew what "signature" meant in this context.
  Sorry I can't tell you the name, it was only written in Chinese characters but I was told it meant something like comfort and serenity.  You can find it on 7th Ave. somewhere around 60th St.  There's a panda in the entry.

New York with the Family

  Considering using my scrap metal collecting skills I've honed over the years in Ithaca and going pro.  This place in Ting's neighborhood would hire me.  I don't think we're shipping as much scrap to China as we used to.  From what I saw in a few buildings with doors left open, some of the sweatshops making our goods are located in the US using Chinese laborers.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

New Toys At Home


   Gail bought a new kayak a few weeks ago (I bought a life jacket) and we launched it from East Shore Sailing Club on a beautiful Friday night.  Looking forward to getting on the water more for beautiful sunrises and sunsets like this one.  Gail has already taken some lessons, she plans to accompany friends on long-distance swims and I'll keep her company when she does any such as Women Swimmin'.

K Pop Kills

  Several students I work with who have been creating dance routines all year in K Pop Club put on a performance in the school's Black Box Theater.  It was almost all girls but I think Xiao stole the show with his lead in Mic Drop.
  They created a sweet opportunity for LaReina to display her piano skills by having an interlude between K Pop numbers.  I was so proud of all of them, but especially Xiao and LaReina who came to school part way through the year and didn't know anyone when they arrived.

  We had a good time playing Corn Hole during Field Days on the last day of school, and Xiao had his face painted just as his sister Ting did last year.
  I'm certainly not going to say I'm sad to see summer vacation upon us, but when this is the scene at the start of my workday every morning, it will have me looking forward to September.  I describe this as a sort of Cheers somewhere in Southeast Asia.

Powerful Theater

  We had a bit of controversy at IHS when some students pointed out the fact that as long as they have been in school people of color have been left out of school plays.  When a lead role of the Hunchback of Notre Dame went to a white girl this group of students demanded change and that the play be canceled.  They made their point and convinced enough people, including the girl who was cast in the lead, that Hunchback was canceled and despite claims by the powers-that-be there wasn't enough time to put on a different show, the kids made it happen.  They got a local theater leader involved who agreed to help only if they did Hairspray, a show about a white girl who wouldn't accept blacks being excluded from a tv show in the 50's. 
  The lead went to the original choice for Hunchback, but she was properly cast in Hairspray, and the rest of the cast was rounded out by incredibly talented kids of all colors and backgrounds.  After a month of rehearsals they did a great job and once more reminded me how lucky I am to work with strong, passionate, motivated young people. 

Busking In Ithaca

  The biggest moment I witnessed on stage this spring happened at the State Theater, as it often does.  Brandi Carlile had a show, and while I'm only slightly familiar with her music, mainly through one song, I knew the excitement the show created, it nearly sold out when tickets went on sale.  These are shows when I love taking tickets at the door and on this night a friend came through the door with her son and mother.  The age difference was typical of the general audience so I wasn't surprised to see three generations of the family, but then I was let in on the story behind what brought them to the show.
  Connor had decided to busk with his cello on the Commons after school to make some money to take his mom out for ice cream.  It was his first time busking so Becca hung out a little ways away to not interfere, but be a sensible parent.  Unsupervised kids have gone on to some questionable lives busking the Commons without adult supervision.  There's these guys.  And these.
When a woman stopped and talked to Connor for a few minutes Becca didn't feel the need to see what the conversation was about, but she was a little surprised to have Connor turn around and yell, "Mom, Can I miss my lesson tonight?"  It turned out Brandi had been impressed enough to offer him the stage for a few minutes during her show.  He impressed the audience enough to hold them rapt for five minutes and get two standing ovations.  Even if that hadn't happened the show would have made my over-stuffed list of top shows at the State.  But it did happen.
Here's a video taken by Becca 

Couple Trips Involving Family

Went on a couple road trips in Western New York, one to Seneca Falls for a rally in support of 
women's rights.  Gail and I drove up for that and met Stacy.  I think we're in a time we need vigilance for such things.  At Easter many of the McMahons gathered at Pat, Heleen and the boy's new house.  Fine time was had by all, and the food was top-notch as always.                                                           

'Round Town Changes

  Around town this spring there were some surprises and some changes.  We got some pretty intense snow showers April 19 that had some kids at school noting the irony of having a white 420 after having a green Christmas.
  Ezra's Tunnel is gated off, but a corner was cut which allows the lock to be cut as well.  Maybe someone will take care of that when they get tired of replacing the lock.
  Cornell has removed more of the orchard on Rt. 366.  I had my best day of picking in the trees behind the barn and store.  The block of trees I cut down adjacent to these is still vacant, I'm sure a building will go in some day.  The bottom photo is from Graduation Day at Cornell.  I watched a hot air balloon take off from Stewart Park and float over campus.

Winter Break/Spring Break

  Two vacations this school year were passed in the most unglamorous way with a huge impact; the furnace and all attached ducts went away to a good home.  This let me remove a wall and re-position the work bench and space.  As I took some of the ducts apart I saw the purpose of having them professionally cleaned, a bit of dust builds up in there.
  It seems like some of the fiberglass insulation I moved around has built up in my lungs, been coughing up something unpleasant since before Christmas.  I'm not removing the rest of the insulation until the coughing stops.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Vacation Memories

 The McMahon Boys gathered for a day, unintentionally spending it in a bar.  Really.  A planned trip to a Sabres game didn't work out, I'm placing the blame for that and most of our culture's problems on the ticket agencies that are buying all the tickets and holding them hostage.
  The last time I went to a Sabres game it was at the Aud.  The bar we went to had some of the Blue Seats from the lower level of the Aud, and the screen in front of us had the players life-size so we were OK.  The Sabres lost in a shoot out, don't know when that started or what can be done about it.  Las Vegas, yes, they have a hockey team, came out ahead in this shoot out.
  The female contingent met us after Jen's wedding shower, haven't been to one of those in a few years either.  Each of them, and a few nieces, had a camera so we did our best to look in each direction.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Vacation Memories

  Rather than use this vacation day for a spring ski, I'm strolling down memory lane of the past winter's skiing.  Took a trip to Highland Forest near Fabius with Armin one Sunday morning to get a taste of groomed trails and witness the dumping of clinging snow that transformed the forest.

  Closer to home I went out in Caroline with Connie and Andy to the Super Secret Pond and admire the new heron nests.  There used to be ten or more nests there but for some reason they have fallen and not replaced.  Steve put a brace and platform on one trunk and within a few days a nest was under construction.  One reason I always held for the abandonment of the rookery was that the tall trunks with sturdy branches to nest on had decayed and fallen.  A nest a few feet above waterline showed that wasn't it.  Glad they're back.
  A local ski club has installed a bench on the trails at Hammond Hill in memory of Tob, a skier who passed last year and is indirectly responsible for me skiing and living in Ithaca.  He and fellow family members would travel from Ithaca to Westfield to sweep their categories in the Chautauqua Overland Ski Marathon, my introduction to skiing.  Made me wonder what was in the snow in Ithaca.