Travel Tuesdays- S1E25- New York Botanical Gardens

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Recently I spent a delightful day with friends at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. As I was traveling over the George Washington Bridge with one of my friends she commented “Tony said he thought the botanical gardens were in Brooklyn”. I chuckled because the night before I had thought wait, are we going to the Bronx or Brooklyn? So to clarify the New York Botanical Gardens are in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are in Brooklyn. I haven’t visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens that is a trip for another day.

According to NYBG website “In the late 19th century an eminent Columbia University botanist named Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, Elizabeth, also a botanist, were so inspired by their visit to England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, that they and other members of the Torrey Botanical Club determined New York should possess a great botanical garden as well. A magnificent site was selected in the northern section of the Bronx, part of which had belonged to the vast estate of tobacco merchant Pierre Lorillard. On April 18, 1891, the land was set aside by the New York State Legislature for the creation of “a public botanic garden of the highest class” for the City of New York. Prominent civic leaders and financiers, including Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and J. Pierpont Morgan, agreed to match the City’s commitment to finance the buildings and improvements, initiating a public-private partnership that continues today.”

I know nothing about botany or gardening but I can tell you the gardens were magnificent. My friends and I did a guided tour of the “KIKU:The Art of Japanese Gardening” Exhibition. We also rode the trolley around the 250 acres and strolled through the Halloween Pumpkin Patch. Since a picture is worth a thousand years I have posted a couple of photos and there are a few more at http://randomsightings.wordpress.com. Enjoy, I know I did.

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all done up and dvds

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On Thursday evening, I attended the 28th Annual Gala for the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Fund. What an amazing event. Over the past twelve years I have been blessed to receive a yearly check from the Benefit Fund. On September 11 of this year I meet the chairman of the board of directors of the Benefit Fund when we were both invited to ring the bell at the NASDAQ. This year when invitation to attend the gala arrived I looked at it more closely and thought maybe I will go. While having lunch a few days after the invitation had arrived, two of my FDNY widow friends decided we would get “dressed up” and attend together. We figured we would have fun being together and really why would you turn down an invitation to dinner at the Waldorf! We decided we would rent a limo so we didn’t have to drive and to be honest attending a gala at the Waldorf Astoria sounded like something you should arrive in a limo for. We sounded like three teenage girls planning for the prom. 🙂

I decided my hair needed to be cut so I scheduled my appointment for the morning of the gala because my hair only looks really good right after my hairstylist has done it. I figured I probably should get my nails done as well. While I was at the salon getting my nails and hair done, my hairdresser commented “you should get your make up done, too” so I did. I was all “done up!”

The entire evening was lovely. There was a cocktail hour, dinner,a live auction to raise money for the fund and then an after party. When we arrived we checked in and were given a Swarovski crystal bracelet and our table number. We were seated with other beneficiaries. Our table was right down front behind the head tables. Mayor Michael Bloomberg set directly behind me. Rusty Staub was at the Mayor’s table. FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano was diagonally to my right. Mark Messier was one table away. There were probably many “movers and shakers” and dignitaries there but those are not the circles I travel in so I wasn’t aware. Plus my daughters say “I never know who anyone is” which is true. Before the event I was thinking that I might feel like Cinderella but to be honest I felt nothing but gratitude. I was grateful for good friends. I was grateful for such an amazing opportunity. I was grateful for a delicious meal. I was grateful for the generosity of people. I was grateful for the kindness of strangers. As we were transitioning into the after party, I made a point of thanking Mr. Staub for the invitation to attend the event as well as thanking him for the generosity of the Benefit Fund. He gave me a big hug.

092 During the after party, they had a raffle. My friends and I each bought $20 worth of raffle tickets and proceeded to put our tickets in the containers of the items we hoped to win. There was a “Blue Bloods” gift basket with autographed DVDs, an autographed photo of the cast, baseball hat, beach towel and t-shirt. I placed two of my raffle tickets in that container and shared with my friends a story about Blue Blood DVDs. Every year my daughters ask what I want for Christmas and my yearly response is “Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men.” Last year when they asked I said “Blue Blood DVDs”. They responded “What no peace on earth, no goodwill towards men.” I chuckled and I said “yes I want that too”. Guess what, I won the Blue Bloods gift basket. I now own two sets of Blue Blood DVDs 🙂

FYI according to their Facebook page “Since the Benefit Fund’s inception in 1985 by Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub, the Benefit Fund has distributed over $123 million to the families of New York City police and fire personnel who have been killed in the line of duty. Though the Benefit Fund was initially created to assist families of New York City Fire Fighters and Police Officers, we now include the families of Emergency Medical Services and Port Authority Officers as well. In 1987 we provided 320 families with annual financial assistance and by 2010, we made the same commitment to nearly 700 families. Our need has certainly grown, but our mission remains pure: help children and spouses who lost a loved one in the line of duty, charged with the task of keeping our families safe.”

Thank you!!!

random happenings or thoughts from this week

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1. In the last few days I was at the exact same location in Manhattan, Broadway between 47th & 48th Street, at two totally different times. Tuesday I was walking on that block at 2:00pm with my very good friend heading towards the TKTS booth. There were lots of people – visitors, business people, street vendors the usual hustle and bustle of the city. The billboard and marquee lights were glowing and flashing. Thursday I was walking alone on the block at 5:20am heading to volunteer at the Movement Day conference. There were very few people – the construction worker was covering up the holes in the street, a businessman or two, a young woman talking on her cellphone. The billboard and marquee lights were still glowing and flashing. They seemed brighter since it was still dark out. To be honest, I walked a little faster, was more aware of my surroundings, and held my purse tighter to my body. I was struck by how different the walk seemed and realized the difference a friend and sunlight makes. 🙂

2. The Bible Quizzing lesson this week was Noah. I decided to mark off the dimensions of the ark with my 6 students. We headed outside armed with a 30 foot tape measure and the dimensions – 75 ft wide, 45 feet tall and 450 feet long. We used feet not cubits. 🙂 First we measured the width and then we measured the length which with a 30 foot tape measure becomes a game of leap-frog. Mark a start spot, someone pulls tape to 30 feet, mark the spot and do over again and again – 15 times to be exact. And then the kid QTOD “Wow, the ark was really big. That must have been the start of cruise ships.”

3. Over the past weeks, the acorns from the white swamp oak trees at the National September 11 Memorial have been falling. Sometimes startling a visitor or myself. I have been thinking that an acorn is an amazing thing. To think a tiny acorn becomes a mighty oak tree. The difference in the trees on the Memorial in the last 2 years is a wonder to behold. It was very difficult to find a shady place to stand in the summer of 2012. I remember trying to fit 20 people in one tiny area of shade. Now it is difficult to find a place to stand to able see the surrounding buildings because the trees supply a beautiful canopy of shade. I once read or heard “which is more of a miracle if an acorn was planted and immediately an oak tree appeared? Or if an acorn is planted and after years there is a mighty oak tree?”

Travel Tuesdays S1E24 – Greenwich Village

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Only in Greenwich Village can you stand on the corner of Waverly Place and Waverly Place – one of the many quirky little streets that makes Greenwich Village an exciting place to explore but a little difficult to navigate. A few friends and I had a delightful time two weeks ago exploring Greenwich Village with Judith Pucci of Downtown Tours. I know Judith from the 9-11 Tribute Center where we are both docents. Judith, a longtime Greenwich Village resident, leads a wonderful, informative walking tour of her neighborhood. Judith tells the story of Greenwich Village by sharing historical facts on three events that shaped the area – the grid, yellow fever epidemic and the big cut. She has wonderful anecdotes to share. Did you know that Gay Street isn’t named for a feeling of happiness or for a sexual preference? It is named after the land owner, Mr. Gay.IMG_1984
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Also learned that NYU owns all the land around Washington Square Park but the city owns the park. It made me feel smart when Judith asked “has anyone read Washington Square by Henry James?” I was able to answer yes since the library book club read it last year. 🙂

Judith is a wealth of information, wonderful storyteller and an excellent tour guide. You won’t be disappointed if you take a tour with her. I have included a link to her website. https://sites.google.com/site/downtowntoursnyc