Battle of the Seasons

Spring and winter have been at war here in NYC the past couple of weeks. One day the high temperature might be in the 50s, and then just a few short days later it can be in the 70s or 80s. Thankfully, as winter stubbornly refuses to loosen its hold and make way for spring, there have not been innocent casualties of this war as I have seen in past years. The tree and flower buds have not sprouted only to suffer a deep freeze. Instead, as I’ve walked around the Manhattan, I see signs that spring is prevailing,¬†something that has greatly lightened my spirits. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me feel to see such beautiful flowers in an urban landscape. I hope my shots bring you joy as well.

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Please note all of these photos were taken with my beloved Google Pixel with no filter or editing except for the squirrel photo. ūüôā

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September 11, 2016

central-park-5

No farewell words were spoken,
no time to say goodbye,
you were gone before we knew it,
and only God can tell us why.
It broke my heart to lose you,
but you didn’t go alone,
for part of me went with you,
the day God called you home.

~Author Unknown

Let’s Zoo-It

It’s Labor Day weekend, so it is the perfect time for a hurricane to come and mess up everyone’s plans as they want to send summer off with one last hurrah.

On Saturday, two crazy friends, my mister, and I headed to the Bronx Zoo since we were not sure what kind of weather to expect here in NYC as Hermine headed up the east coast on Sunday and Monday.

DSC_1929I’ve never been to the Bronx Zoo. In fact, it was the first time I’ve taken the subway up that far into the Bronx. It’s certainly a different world from the one I live in in Manhattan–ahem, not as pretty. I’m sure if you actually got away from the subway tracks, there are some nice¬†areas of the Bronx. However, from the subway car, I saw just very industrial, graffiti-tagged brick buildings and crammed apartment residences with the occasional trees to provide a burst of green. I found the architecture to be definitely lacking and thought it was quite interesting that a lot¬†of the signs were in Spanish rather than English or a mix of both.

After getting off the Pelham Bay Parkway stop, we walked about half a mile to the Zoo entrance. Thankfully, we had herds of parents pushing strollers to follow because there was a definite lack of appropriate signage to point people in the right direction to the zoo from the 2 subway line.

DSC_1931For the largest zoo found within a city, the Bronx Zoo surprisingly was surprisingly much more nature-y than I expected. There was a Bronx River that greeted you near the entrance, which who knew existed? Definitely not this Manhattan-ite. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of trees and foliage within the zoo itself. Oftentimes, it was like entering a secret world (or a nightmare filled with strollers and children) as you exited the main walkway to see each animal exhibit that was tucked out of sight¬†behind massive trees and other dense plant life. For the sake of the animals, I’m glad that there were so many trees that helped create a sound barrier since it definitely could get loud–hello sea lions! Can we say “arf, arf, arf?” The trees also provided a luxurious amount of shade so that I surprisingly did not get overheated as we walked over 6 miles and still didn’t see the entire zoo. Here are some of my favorite pictures, though I sadly didn’t get to see¬†the lions¬†before they were tucked away for the evening.

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Would I recommend people making a visit?

Yes! The only real negative I had about this zoo is the bathrooms (not the most modern, clean feeling facilities), and the fact that the poor tiger and polar bear seemed very unhappy. It wasn’t a terribly hot day (low 70s) but they were pacing and pacing with their mouths open. The other animals seemed okay with their captivity. I thought it was pretty amazing¬†that a lot of the birds were not even closed up inside some of the building exhibits–they could have technically flown out of their exhibit¬†into the darkened viewing area, but they had no reason to do so (no food, water, perches, etc.) Later on, ¬†when visiting the Congo gorilla habitat, a gorilla got pretty ticked off and banged on the glass wall, so of course the human animals on the other side started banging back in an effort to get him to do it again. That truly annoyed me since it is beyond rude to provoke an animal. If I ever had a child, I hope he would turn out like this little boy who had a conversation similar to the following with his parents:

Little Boy: Can gorillas kill people?

Parent: Yes, they can.

Little Boy: I think the gorilla should kill the people banging on the glass.

Me thinking to myself: Yup, we’re the animals.¬†I totally agree if it wouldn’t get the poor gorilla killed.

The zoo definitely had a different feel from my home town zoo of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, which is very nice but had a lot more concrete as a whole I felt like around the animal exhibits. It also gets quite hot in the summer heat. If you ever think about visiting the Bronx Zoo, I would definitely recommend buying the “total experience ticket” if available since a number of buildings and the shuttle¬†required you to have this ticket if you want to avoid paying extra to see exhibits like Jungle World, home of the black leopard. You can get an extra 10% off of the $34 total experience ticket cost if you purchase ahead of time online.

I hope you enjoyed this post and the pictures. Comments are always appreciated! However, please don’t take photos without permission. Thanks!

Polite Applause but No Standing Ovation for Turano’s “Playing the Part”

playing the partHave you ever been to a local community theatre and have been entertained but not because the set is magnificent or the acting is worthy of an Oscar? You tell people they did an awesome job but their performance would not hold a candle to successful Hollywood actors?

That’s kind of how I feel about Playing the Part by Jen Turano. The story never got boring but it was all in all a bit too light-hearted for me to feel like it was anything but a fluff novel. In comparison to some other novels I read, it just fell short in many areas. Before I get into why I felt it was “fluffy,” let me give you a quick overview of the plot that was given to me by the publisher.

“After a fan’s interest turns sinister, actress Lucetta Plum asks her friend, widow Abigail Hart, for help. Abigail takes her to a secluded estate, then reveals her own agenda by introducing Lucetta to her eccentric grandson. Bram is clearly interested in her but also mysterious. When danger catches up to Lucetta, will her friends be able to protect her?”

After reading this plot summary, I expected a sinister, danger-filled novel filled with mystery and excitement. There was a bit of danger, particularly towards the end as Lucetta is kidnapped and her mother is threatened, but the amount of hilarity and ridiculousness did a lot to keep the plot from feeling sinister. It made it hard to take the book earnestly, invest in the characters, and immerse myself in story, which is what I want to do when reading a book.

The majority of the book takes place in fictional Ravenwood castle above New York City in 1882 (I did love the unique time period/setting choice) that comes complete with its own fake cemetery and mausoleum to ensure Bram, the owner’s, need for privacy. Bram employs a motley crew of servants, a reformed group of criminals hailing from the Lower East Side. Their antics lends to the slight ridiculousness of the plot, including their frequently shooting cannonballs at anyone who dares approach the castle. Of course, the setting would not be complete without a misfit collection of unwanted animals, including a goat who loves (err hates?) anything in a dress; thus, leading to quite a few marathon runs around the grounds as Lucetta flees dearly for her life. All of this as well as other ragtag characters and suits of armor walking around the castle on their own make this book rather laughable–in other words, an entertaining bit of fluff if you are looking for something to pass time that doesn’t require much thinking or emotional investment. I imagine this is what the author intended when she wrote this book. If not, I would advise perhaps including a little less hilarity and spend more time creating characters immersed in a plot line with more depth. As it is, it’s an entertaining read–much like you’d get entertained at a local community theatre. However, I don’t think it has enough to make it to the New York Time‘s bestseller list or to carry it to Broadway, if I was to continue the theatre comparison.

Please note that I received a copy of this ebook for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Where the geese go, I shall follow.

I should feel guilty for so many geese posts, but I don’t. Geese make me happy, and we should all seize whatever opportunities we have to be happy in this world. I can hardly think of a better way to relax than listening to the quacks of dozens of babies during a beautiful evening in Central Park.

The Goose-pocalypse

Today was the most epic of days. The day to end all days. The day I will never forget–one that I’ll recall upon my death bed.

The day that I pet a goose.

Yes.

Finally.

After years of goose stalking, (see post here) I found one Canadian goose amenable to my loving advances. I just never knew it would be a¬†yankee goose since I’ve always chased after southern ones. My husband better appreciate that I didn’t take that goose¬†home because you have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to not just pick him up, squeeze him, and run. Trust me, I would have had it not been a bit unheard of to have a goose in a NYC apartment. He was the perfect candidate to make a pet though. He not only loved my neck scratches and back rubs¬†but he was a loner who was grazing by himself away¬†from the rest of his flock. I made him return to¬†his fellow geese mates,¬†though, before leaving so I wouldn’t have to worry about him being left behind.

Love.

Remembering 9/11 and My Experience Visiting 1 World Trade Center

When I first moved to New York and began exploring the area this summer, I couldn’t¬†help but go to the site of the World Trade Centers. I did not want to since the pain¬†of that day is still very real¬†when I think of it; yet, I was inexplicably drawn to the area where such carnage and horror happened. I felt like I was walking on sacred grounds, and to be honest, I hated how many tourists were there even though I was one of them. I honestly could not stay very long because it just felt wrong–the site had become a tourist attraction instead of a somber site where you go to pay your respects. After touching some of the victims’¬†names engraved in the¬†reflecting pool, I paid my respects to the wall honoring the fallen firemen. I felt a small prickle of pride when viewing the Freedom Tower, yet I almost wished the site had been developed¬†differently. I’m not sure what would have been more appropriate than the current plans, except for maybe if the Twin Towers themselves had been rebuilt. This is such a difficult¬†subject in American history, it is hard to figure out what honors America’s strength and America’s fallen people the best.

In honor of everyone lost thirteen years ago today, I wanted to share some of my photos of the site in their memory.

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You know you’re not a native New Yorker when….

1) The highlight of your day is when you finally see subway rats.
2) You squeal and start saying how cute they are and everyone else looks at you like you’re some bizarre freak.
3) You get really sad when you see the raticide sign hanging above the train tracks.

Seriously, I had been waiting a month to see these babies! I was starting to think they didn’t exist.

There are more than skyscrapers and people in NYC.

I’m going to share a little secret with you. Even though I was super excited to spread my wings and fly to New York City last week (you know I don’t mean this literally), I was a little bit worried that a corner of my soul was going to shrivel up and die inside. I’m happy to report that trees, flowers, and squirrels do exist in New York City–and in a rather surprising amount. I’ve been getting my “green fix” by visiting several parks since my arrival. I spotted these little beauties¬†in City Hall Park.

Where are my horticulturalist friends when I need them? I think these are alliums, members of the onion family!

I told my husband before I left South Carolina to send me pictures of my new daylilies as they flowered. I had a friend from Pennsylvania send the bulbs to me last year so for several months I’ve been looking forward to seeing what the plants look like as they bloom for the first time. Go figure, almost all of the buds taunted me for weeks and decided to start blooming after I left for NYU’s summer publishing course. I was happy that I got to see (and photograph!!) the blooms below before I left. I¬†am anxiously awaiting for the husband to send me pictures of additional flowers as they open up.

Senior Joan Daylily

Senior Joan Daylily

Peach and burgundy daylily

I can’t remember what this one is, but if you’re really interested, I can find out.

I shot all of the featured photos with my new LG G2 instead of my SLR. Camera phones have gotten pretty darn amazing the last few years. Well, now that I’ve told you about my “green fix” secret, perhaps you can share one of your secrets with me. ūüėČ