28 November 2009
Black Friday was black for me for a different reason: one of my cats died. He had been struggling to breathe for a few days, and I hesitated to take him to the vet, because he turns into a demon cat from hell when there, leaving both the vet and me with bite and scratch marks. He literally had to be wrapped into a towel each time so the vet would be able to examine him. So I waited, because I did not want to unnecessarily stress him out on top of him feeling bad already, thinking that maybe he just had a cat cold, which would go away after a while.
Yesterday he started breathing through his mouth, and when I saw that I knew it was bad ... we took him to the vet immediately, who told us that a tumor was leaking fluid into his lungs - he was suffocating. Possible treatment would have been to drain his lungs (which would have to be repeated several times), have an oncologist take a look at him, and have him undergo chemotherapy – all of which, of course, would have stressed him at every single visit. He would most likely not last another day or two.
So we decided to have him euthanized, only he fought so hard when they tried to put a catheter in his arm he suffocated from the stress. I wish he would have died a bit easier.
He was a very unique cat: Ten years ago he showed up in the back yard, facing down my own and my roommate’s cats, refusing to leave. So he stayed. I often thought he must have grown up with dogs, because his tail was constantly swishing back and forth, even when he was lying down and when there was no other cat around. He also never moved when he was (deliberately, I think) sitting in the way – he just knew we would never step on him. He was a fierce protector of his territory and often had scratches on his face; his right ear was permanently nicked. He was a lot of fun to play with and - in total contrast to his behaviour at the vet's - the most social of our cats – always the first to greet any visitors and vocally demanding to be petted – and in general a real sweetheart at home. I’ll miss him.
As soon as we had buried him yesterday afternoon, it started to rain, and then (a rather rare event here in the SF East Bay) a thunderstorm passed through. Afterwards the porch was bathed in a rather eerie light. It matched our mood.
15 November 2009
Autumn now has truly arrived here in California:
Our porch is under a tree - this is about 3 days' worth of leaves. You can see the cat thinks it's a nice cushion for lounging around in the sunshine.
Honeybees shawl: I finally gave up on changing the construction (I wanted to make 4 square center panels, with bees and a lily-of-the-valley in each) - when I had two panels done I seamed them together, but did not like the end result. So now I'm actually following the instructions as written, and have finished the bottom faggot border, plus a few rows of the center panel - then on to the central swarm of bees.
08 November 2009
After that we wandered around some more, because we still had about 2 hours to kill before meeting two other friends of my husband’s (also into animation) for the Hair Revival show at the Hirschfeld theatre. Quite by accident, we passed by the
We were barely finished with the exhibit when it was time to meet our friends for the show. The Hair Revival Show was excellent – much more emotionally charged than I expected.
A great show!
Afterwards we all had dinner together and then we wandered the streets a bit more, because we were wired on caffeine, and by the time we got to Staten Island, we barely caught the last bus going towards the hotel – btw, you can use your subway Metro Card for the buses on
Mon Nov 2: Last day! Went to Brooklyn, but ended up in a rather questionable neighborhood (
First, of course, you have to wait in the line for the airline-type security check (just as for the trip to the Statue of Liberty). Then you wait in line again to actually buy your tickets. Then you wait in line for the “mandatory”, commemorative picture taken against a green screen. Then you wait in line to get to the elevator to the 80th floor. Then you wait in line for the elevator to the 86th floor where the open observation deck is.
Then you wait in line for the elevator to floor 102 which was apparently meant as the waiting room for zeppelin passengers. Then you wait in line to get back down to floor 86. Then you wait in line for the elevator down to the 80th floor. THEN you wait in line to pick up your commemorative photo. Then you wait in line to pay for it. Then you are automatically led through the gift shop (they have a lot of stuff that is actually of a little better quality than the usual junk you find in gift shops – I bought a replica of the poster advertising the original King Kong movie!) Then you wait in line to pay for everything. Then it’s back to the line for the elevator down to the first floor. That was a total of 13 queues! But I have to say that the lines moved fairly quickly, and everything is organized very well.
It’s worth it, definitely ... just to see the inside of this beautiful building … even the floors are beautiful (they look like sealed-over gold-leaf, copper-leaf, and other colors).
Empire State Building - Lobby
There was no food sold during the tour – no wonder! We saw a poor worker meticulously scraping off a sticker someone had stuck to the floor.
After that we found a sandwich shop and bought a few more souvenirs. On our way back to the hotel, in the
Final thoughts on New York:
Unless you have business on
New Yorkers are much friendlier than expected. Twice someone saw us fumbling with our map and they came over asking whether they could help us! On the other hand ... you better get out of their way on the street (if you can!), otherwise you’ll get run over – everybody is in a rush! But this is contagious ... after a few days I found myself getting impatient when the person in front of me was walking slower than me!
There is a definite difference in outfits betwen NY and
Everybody will recognize you as a tourist! You will get hustled by ticket sellers, street vendors, and taxi drivers (at the ferry station in
And here is the most ignored street sign in New York:
Yeah ... right!
As an aside: This was our first trip without checking any baggage – all we had was one carry-on bag each. I was actually surprised that I was able to cram everything I needed for a week into one small bag – we even had enough space left to pack souvenirs (T-Shirts and mugs mainly)! That’s the way to go – no waiting at the baggage carousel any more! And you are much more flexible to go where you need to go.
Nathan's Hot Dogs - supposedly the best - but nothing special imo... and then started the first loop of a Grey Line city sightseeing tour. There are ticket hustler for these tours on every street corner around Times Square.You can see a lot better from the top of the double-decker bus, but the wind really blows, and it blew cold today! The first part of the loop (going south) started at Times Square, through the Fashion District, around Madison Square Garden (Sting was performing that day) ...
Madison Square Garden
... by the old Post Office ...
Typical traffic around the old Post Office building - with mail carrier's motto inscribed above the columns ("Neither rain, nor snow ...")
... in that area you also have a good view of the ubiquitous water towers on top of many buildings ...
... then we passed by the Empire State Building ...
... the Flatiron building, then along Broadway through SoHo (= South of Houston street (pronounced "House-ton", not like the city in Texas! - there is also NoHo!), past the WTC site:
... and to Battery Park. There we foolishly took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Big mistake! You buy your ticket ($12), then you stand in line - security is just like in an airport – before boarding the ferry. The trip takes maybe 10 minutes, then you are hustled from the ferry ("Step it up, now!") - the waters were a bit rough, many people were apparently hesitating too long to step onto the moving ramp.
You can walk around the statue, which looks a bit more squat from close up:
We did not climb the inside, and access to the crown was closed that day, anyway. The worst part, however, was waiting for the return ferry - it must have been 30 minutes of standing, crowded together like sardines, - standing and waiting, and waiting, because they apparently want to cram the return ferry as full as possible. People throw coins into the crossbeams of the pier waiting area, hoping to return, I guess. We won't be returning - it's too much like a
After (finally!) returning to Battery Park, we completed the downtown sight-seeing loop by going back up north. This part of the trip was a lot more interesting, because of the
Ice-skating rink at the Rockefeller Center
Then along Central Park (seeing some very posh hotels and buildings along the way), and back to
Sat Oct 31: By coincidence, a colleague of mine and his wife were spending this weekend in NY as well, so we met them for breakfast. Then we took the subway and walked to The Highline, an abandoned elevated train track, which has been converted, rather nicely and stylishly into a garden. See here. You can easily walk the whole length of it. On leaving the park, we saw this parking lot:
Must be for long-term parking only ...
Afterwards we meandered a bit through
We got off the bus close to the memorial for John Lennon:
We caught the bus tour again where we hopped off, and this time we were in luck – it was a double decker, and the tour guide was the most knowledgeable of all. Whew! Our feet were still terribly sore. At least we could sleep one hour longer tonight, because the time changed back to regular time!
It's been a while since I posted ... so here are 3 posts at once, covering our trip to New York! I had to attend the Translators Conference in
Wed, Oct 28: We took off with JetBlue (which is no longer as comfortable to fly as I remembered it), and after landing at JFK we were going to take the bus/subway to our hotel - we had it all planned out, but once we finally figured out where the buses are, and schlepped ourselves and our carry-ons there, we found out that the buses here apparently ONLY take change! We had the correct amount, but in bills and change and couldn't take the bus because of it. Grumble! So we schlepped ourselves and our carry-ons back to the airport exit area where we booked a taxi – luckily it was less expensive than we feared to go to
Around 7:00 pm we arrived at The Staten Island Hotel - an oldish hotel with good service (but they really try to push their a la carte breakfast menu on you. The hotel advertises its free “continental” breakfast (coffee and a danish); but you have to ask for your danish (the puniest one I’ve ever seen, of a diameter of maybe 2.5 inches and somewhat dry) and you don’t get milk with your coffee, just the packaged dry stuff). Even though the room was quiet and clean, I would not stay there again (read on).
Thu Oct 29: In the morning we took the Staten Island Ferry (free!), which passes by the Statue of
... and Ellis Island, landing at the southern tip of
Staten Island Ferry approaching Manhattan
There we bought a weekly pass for the subway system ($27.00 – totally worth it!) and took a ride north into
Times Square, seen from the red steps
Even the NYPD has flashing neon signs!
Really, how can anyone take seriously a police station with a Las Vegas-style sign???
The friend showed us around the Financial District, Brooklyn, SoHo,
... we only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes which, we were told, is an extremely short wait. On the same block, there is also a very good chocolate shop, Jacques Torres:
Jacques Torres ChocolatesContinued ...