Archive | June 2013

Just some thoughts before I go

jodifoster

It’s tomorrow.

Tonight, my kids will lay their heads down in their bedrooms in this house for the very last time.

Tomorrow, they’ll wake up early, duffel bags in tow, and leave their rooms, and this house, and this town as they catch the bus for camp. I usually have very mixed feelings about this departure – sad that we’ll be apart for a summer, but happy not to have to do their laundry or dishes for an entire summer, a parental sabbatical, if you will.

Tomorrow, I will nave no mixed feelings, as tomorrow the packers are also coming to pack us away for Detroit.

Get the mop, people!  I’ll be a puddle on the floor.

I guess if you’ve lived in a place for a while, the days before a big move can feel like somewhat like a mourning period. You long to hang onto the familiarity of the same streets and buildings. I will miss the sidewalks. I will miss knowing exactly what stars I’ll see during what time of year from the window above my bed.

The other night I took a final walk around the neighborhood with the husband. It is all we feel like doing Even though summer is heating up and there really is so much to DO in town (can you say, International Jazz Fest??),

Rochester International Jazz Festival

Rochester International Jazz Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

We are ready to go. Like Jodi Foster’s character in Contact, as she sat strapped into a chair on that weird launch pad, saying over and over again.

jodifoster

Ready to Go.

Ready to Go.

The next morning, husband and I woke up and went through our usual morning routine.  We have been apart for four months now save the weekends, so the bathroom with the two of us in it has been kind of … cozy.

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I brushed. For the full two and one half minutes required for proper dental hygiene.

And he waited.

I then flossed.

Still he waited.

Then I cleansed and moisturized.

All the while, husband patiently waited. Isn’t he a darling?

Then, a realization. An epiphany!

In just a few days, husband and I will have his and her sinks!

sink

Good Bye, Rochester!

P.S.: This will be my last post for a while, as I’ll be going off the grid during the move. Good thing I have one guest blogger lined up. A shout out: if any of you have a moving story to share about MOVING, write away, I’ll need some guest bloggers in the weeks to come as I come out from under a house worth of boxes!

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Don’t Forget to Dance

ifd

I hate ends.

I don’t like when books, or series of books, end.

Ask my kids about this.

Just last week,  after years of them prodding, teasing, begging and bribing me, and even going through lengths like borrowing books on CD from their school libraries.  I finally, finally finished the entire Harry Potter series.

I don’t even like to eat the ends of a loaf of bread.

Even when it comes to one of my favorite activities in the world – dancing – I prefer not stay for the last dance.  Call it a Cinderella syndrome, but I hate when the music ends.  I leave about 10 minutes each week before the session wraps up. As the music lingers in my head while I start up the car in the parking lot, I envision my folk dancing friends dancing on into the night, so the dance is never over.

But end it did, for me, at least in Rochester.

I have been taking Israeli Folk Dancing on Sunday nights at the Rochester Jewish Community Center for about 10 years now. When I first started I knew nothing about Israeli Folk Dancing outside of Hava Nagilah. Seriously.

But Israeli Folk Dancing is not your Bar Mitzvah Havah Nagilah. Blending music with Greek, Latin, Middle Eastern and the random Irish (yes IRISH)  influences, Israeli Folk Dancing has something for everyone. At every age.

And you don’t have to be Jewish to do it. There are Israeli Folk Dance sessions held the world over, including places like Tokyo and Beijing.

At first, Israeli Folk Dancing can be frustrating.  All these people whirling and jumping around you are having all this fun and really know what they are doing. And the beginner, well, the beginner fumbles. And watches.

Week after week I went.  I made sure I got there for the beginner hour. I watched feet. I danced on the outside of the circle not to get in the way of the experts. Then, with increased confidence that I would not crash or trip anyone (or myself) I moved in. I’m grateful for great guidance from the teacher to long timers who called out steps for me.

I have gone from stumbling through each dance, to learning the steps, to a point where I’ve actually become pretty good! Good enough to call the steps to newcomers who give it a try. Good enough to teach it to children in area Hebrew schools and camps.

Here are reasons why dance, any dance, but particularly Israeli Folk Dancing is good for you:

  • It’s a  great cardio workout. Dancing burns on an average of 375 calories per hour.
  • IFD is also great for your brain. Each dance is a sequence of choreographed steps. All this memorization improves brain function, especially for some of us who are, emmm, getting up there in age.  It takes about six lessons and going on a consistent basis to get the basic steps down. Before you know it, your feet are moving to each familiar dance without even giving it much thought, which comes to the next benefit….
  • Israeli Folk Dancing is a great social outlet. While your feet are moving, catch up in conversation with friends old and new.
  • If you are Jewish, or simply have a love for Israel, IFD connects your feet and ears to the Holy Land. During Israel’s peaceful times, dancing to the latest Israeli dance is a dance of celebration. In times of war or terror, the dance becomes one of solidarity.

And now, now that I am leaving town, the JCC of Greater Rochester offers Israeli Folk Dancing FREE to members, $6 per week for non members.

Last Sunday was my very last dance session, for now, with my dear friends from Israeli Folk Dance in Rochester.  It was a big part of my life and brought me happiness each Sunday night.

And last Sunday, I managed to make myself stay for the very last dance:

Do you dance regularly? What does it bring to your life? Leave a comment below, and don’ t ever stop dancing.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

Monroecountyclerk

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is curves.

Now, maybe some are thinking the curves of a woman. Or maybe it is a curvy road.

I am a sucker for architecture of older buildings, and one of the things I love about older buildings is a curved staircase, as the one found in the Old State House in Boston:

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Another great example of a curved staircase can be found in the Monroe County Civic Building in downtown Rochester. It’s a good thing I had to file my mortgage there this week, otherwise I might have never seen the beautiful architecture and this staircase inside:

Monroecountyclerk

 

Finally, there is the curved staircase (or perhaps it is an angular staircase) in the octagon shaped Hyde House at the Genesee Valley Country Museum in Mumford, NY:

hyde

 

 

There. I’ve showed you my curves. You show me yours.

Meat Mixed with Cheese? That’s Just Gross, Mom

haveacow

haveacowThis is going to be one of those blog posts where you may have to be Jewish, and a Jewish person who observes some level of Kashrut, or what’s known as “keeping kosher,” to appreciate.

But even if you are not Jewish, and are just curious about the daily decisions people make when they observe religious dietary laws, please do read on.

I’m always hungry for blog hits!

My family move from New York to Michigan looms ever closer. But you wouldn’t know that by the amount of food left in my freezer. Each night, I try to use up one or two items in the freezer.

Tuesday night, it was time to use up the vegetarian beef crumbles. Wegmans (of course I was going to mention Wegmans in a blog about food, right?) has created this great vegan product called “Don’t Have a Cow” Beef Crumbles.

Disclaimer here: this food product does NOT have a kosher certification. However it is labeled as vegan, so this is good enough in my kitchen.

Like I said, not all would consider the way I keep kosher, kosher. But it works for our family. 

Back to the main story…..

I’ve used these fake crumbles many times before with a thumbs up from the kids. It was great in vegetarian chili and Sloppy Joes. I thought it would also be great in a baked pasta dish. What could be bad???

So there I was in the kitchen, using up a two boxes of pasta, a jar of tomato sauce, some mozzarella cheese and good, FULL FAT ricotta cheese from my fridge… my Italian neighbors back in the old neighborhood in Staten Island would be so proud of me. Then, defrosted from the ever-increasingly-empty freezer, I added the fake beef crumbles.

I mixed all the ingredients together and popped them into the oven. The cheese melted so dreamily, a wonderful smell filled my kitchen.

I am going to win the kids over with this creation, I thought.  My kids will gobble this down, I mean, it’s pasta covered with CHEESE!

With “meat” in it. It’s like we’re being baaaaad!

Dinner time. Baseball game rained out. No rushing. Perfect. I spooned out plates of baked pasta. I awaited upon their approval.

“Mom, what’s IN this pasta?”

“The texture is WEIRD!!!”

“Even if the meat is fake, it just doesn’t feel RIGHT to eat this!.”

My first reaction was to get really mad. And feel completely unappreciated. But on further examination of their reaction to this meal, I realized that I have raised truly Kosher eating kids.

From their earliest ages, of asking which forks need to be used with which meal, I have raised children who will go even into adulthood that what they eat reminds them of who they are. Even if, every once in a while, they screw up by setting the table with the wrong set of silverware, or ask if pepperoni can be picked off the last piece of pizza in the public school cafeteria, the level of kosher observance we have instilled in them will remain long after they leave our family table for tables of their own.

In our house, the kitchen has become our test lab for being Jewish.

Question for you: If you are Jewish and keep kosher, at any level, what eating choices have your kids made, inside or outside of the house, that make you realize you’ve done a good job in instilling Jewish values in their eating habits? 

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Five more things I’ll miss, and what You Should Check Out – in Rochester, N.Y.

I got a lot of great feedback from Monday’s post about the first five things on my list of what I’ll miss about Rochester.

Some of the things people added and commented to this list are not tangible things. For some, it’s more of the community mindedness of the place that you come to know once you’ve lived here for a while. There is a great sense of collaboration between government, businesses and grass roots organizations that create a wealth of cultural offerings here.

What are they, you ask? For one, there was last September’s Fringe Fest, the first time Rochester has hosted this festival celebrating all things creative.

Another development just in the last 12 months has been the collaboration between wo Rochester treasures: WXXI, our public radio and TV station, and The Little, a great indie movie theater. Over the last year, the two non-profit organizations have put together free and open to the public discussions on many thought-provoking films that don’t come to bigger commercial theatres. Don’t take my word for it, check out The Little while you are in town. From the great films to the REAL popcorn with REAL butter, find out more here.

But for those of you are purely visiting, or are planning a visit to Rochester and the area, here are some more must-sees:

  • Water – Okay, I know there will be water where I’m going.  Michigan is famous for its lakes big and small. But I will miss the variety of kinds of bodies of water within an hour’s drive from my home in Rochester. I’ll miss taking a stroll or a bicycle ride on the historical Erie Canal. Blogger Renee a. Schuls-Jacobson loves to have lunch along the canal on a summer afternoon at great restaurants like The Coal Tower in Pittsford (don’t miss their pumpkin soup in the fall) or Aladin’s Natural Eatery for great vegetarian and vegan cuisine as well as micro brewed and local beer.                                                                                                                                                                                                             I’ll miss taking a short 15 minute drive and taking a walk along the shore of Lake Ontario, flying a kite with my kids at Durant Beach or taking our end-of-the-summer outing to Rochester’s great local amusement park Sea Breeze and cooling off with a chocolate almond cone from Abbot’s Custard, more of Renee’s favorite things.  Hell, I’ll even miss the radio ad, “Come Get Your Summer!” that plays from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
  • Artisan Works - It’s an art gallery. It’s a working artists colony. It’s a great place to have a wedding or a Bar mitzvah. But if you are an art lover, you must visit this funky gallery tucked into a huge warehouse on Blossom Road off Winton Road (right near the new Wegmans!). Eclecticism does not begin to describe this place, which boasts over a million pieces of art;  a library with furniture from Frank Lloyd Wright to a fire house themed room with some naughty art (adults only in this section please).  I can say this place is loaded with paintings and sculptures, photos and films, but it wouldn’t do it justice. Just GO.
  • The National Museum of Play- What started out as a bunch of toys collected by philanthropist Dorothy Strong has turned into one of the country’s leading children’s museums and home to the Toy Hall of Fame for playthings like The Hula Hoop and The Stick (yes, the stick, like the kind that falls off a tree, is in the Toy Hall of Fame).                                                                                      You don’t need a kid to have fun here (but if you do have a kid and they’ve pooped in their last clean diaper, they’ve got you covered with their own supply!).  Revisit your own childhood by taking a stroll down Sesame Street, “shop” for food at a kid sized Wegmans Market; twirl a hula hoop; make a craft with your kids and leave the scraps and glue sticks and other clean-up behind. Play in bins full of Leggos, play some retro video games like Pac Man and Space Invaders. Visit a Treasure Island, climb a beanstalk or explore a mysterious old house in Reading Adventure Land and then borrow a book from the museum’s library, which is connected to the Monroe County Library system.
  • The Finger Lakes - Need more reasons to visit Rochester now that I’m gone? Well, the Finger Lake Region, about an hour away from Rochester, has been voted one of the 10 best travel destinations in the world, people! While you are in Canandaigua strolling along the lake and checking out the cute stores and art galleries, dine at a great Mexican restaurant called Rio Tomatlan. Get the flan for dessert, you won’t be sorry.
  • Apples & Wine – okay, that’s two things. But a visit to this part of New York in the fall is not complete with either a trip to an apple picking farm, like The Apple Farm in Victor, NY or a Finger Lakes Winery like Fox Run. This year had a cold winter, no freak warm ups or frosts in the early spring, so the apple season this fall is supposed to yield a great crop.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – Okay, that’s five things. I can count! That’s all I’m going to add to this list, but what can YOU add to a list of must-sees in the Rochester area?

And Detroit – what have you got in store for me to see? In a few weeks, I’ll have nothing more to do than to explore, so tell me what I shouldn’t miss in the Motor City. I’m listening. I’m waiting.

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10 Things I’m Going to Miss about Living in Rochester, NY: 1-5

20130601_163006

lilaclilacpattern

It’s been an emotional weekend.

Our friends, neighbors, and extended community threw us not one but two good-bye/sendoff parties on Sunday. One was a brunch in the morning and the other a dinner in the evening.

Hubby and I, as we saw friends file in bearing platters of fruit and food,  agreed that we felt the love. But to hubby, who has already moved on, who is already living in Detroit and only coming “home” on weekends, the day was anti-climactic.

I asked, what was he expecting?

He said, finality. Closure.

But to many of us, maybe all of us, good-bye is too hard a word. So instead of hearing good-bye, when friends left the party they gave us a departing hug with the reassurance of  “I know I’ll see you in the neighborhood before you go” or “I’m sure I’ll see you again before you take off.”

Maybe their claims are true and maybe they are not. But it’s easier to say than “when will we ever see each other again?” or “I’m going to  miss you so much!”  That stuff is for high school. For the end of camp. Not for a move in mid-life.

Between the morning good-bye brunch and the evening good-bye dinner, the new owners of our house stopped by for an hour-long visit.

The newly-minted home owners are a sweet couple who cannot be more than 30. The young woman held a 16-month infant boy with cherubic lips in her arms.

They told us how much they loved the old charm of the house and it’s “flow” for entertaining and living. They loved the basket-weave tile (original from 1929) in the bathrooms. She loved the shady backyard and the swing set that my dad and husband built for our kids.

Now I know who will be sleeping in “our” bedrooms when we leave. Now I know there will be a tiny boy sleeping in the room with the sailboat wallpaper, the pattern I picked out for my own little boy 13 years ago.

First night in HIS big boy bed with all HIS animals. This photo just says "mine."

Outside of friends that have come into our life, there is Rochester itself. I’ll say it:

I am going to miss you, Rochester. A lot.

To all those friends from “downstate” New York Metro area (and that means you too, New Jersey girls and boys) who ever told me they would love to come up and visit me in Rochester, New York, your time has run out.

It’s too late babies, it’s too late.

Maybe the reality of moving has given me perspective on just how great a little city like Rochester can be. Maybe the coming move has finally made this Rochester transplant feel like a native.

Even though I will no longer be living here, a trip to Rochester in the summer, the fall, and yes, even the winter is totally worth it. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Wegmans -

pasta

My first twinges of separation anxiety about leaving the Rochester happened not in the company of friends, but in the produce, health food, and patisserie departments of the world’s greatest supermarket. Yes, Wegmans has elevated food shopping from a mundane chore to an art form. What other supermarket will employees approach you if you seem puzzled and proactively ask you “are you finding everything okay?” And if you cannot find that box of pre-cut Asian gourmet mushrooms, they will send out an APB throughout the store, and check their latest shipment, to make sure they get it for you. What other grocer has designated employees waiting for you in the parking lot with huge golf umbrellas, eager to help you put your groceries in your car in the rain, or who will help mothers with young children?

Wegmans, you have spoiled me for life.

So, Michigan grocers, I give you my warning. If someone in your check-out line starts to cry or whimper because you didn’t give me a smile and a hello while you asked if I prefer my milk in a bag, or you didn’t bag all my frozen items together (or maybe you don’t bag customer groceries at all!), that will be me. And you’ll have to comfort me and give me a tissue because I am mourning and pining for my WEGMANS!

2 – Small size – On our first area tour of Rochester, our realtor drove us West on Monroe Avenue. In the immediate horizon stood three or four tallish buildings. “There’s our Rochester skyline!” she proudly boasted.

The big city New York City woman in the back seat covered her mouth supress a laugh. That’s a skyline? I’ll show you a skyline, she thought smugly, thinking of the imposing New York City skyline of her childhood.

But now, I so appreciate a city where it’s not a huge production to get into “the city.”

In 10 minutes, I can leave my house, find a parking spot on the street or in a $5 garage and be downtown. To take in a museum, a parade on Memorial Day or  a film at The Little Theatre, meet a friend for lunch or coffee, or a concert at the Eastman Theatre.

In 10 minutes, my family and I can enjoy a night at Frontier Field, a stadium where I can let my kids roam free and on their own, and take in a Rochester Red Wings game.

3. Festivals – Rochesterians relish the weather when the snows melt and the sun finally arrives.Nearly every week from May through October, there is a festival going on somewhere, complete with great food, crafts and music. From the Lilac Festival, to the Xerox International Jazz Festival

The Barrel House Blues Band performed for free at the RG&E Fusion Stage

The Barrel House Blues Band performed for free last year at the RG&E Fusion Stage

(it’s become one of the best in the country, no lie!), to the Park Avenue and Clothesline Festivals, there is something to enjoy every week.

And because of the size of Rochester, you will always run into friend, to hang out with and sample the fried dough or a candied New York apple. lilacfriends

4. Music – Spiraling out from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester has fantastic musical resources. My kids took lessons and had recitals starting in preschool at the Hochstein School of Music. There has never been a shortage of dedicated and talented music teachers to share their love and gift with our children. Time and time again, the Brighton School District, as others in the Rochester area, have been bestowed awards in excellence for music education. My children each play several instruments and have been exposed to so many opportunities to perform. Most recently, my youngest, along with other local young musicians had his budding piano skills tested by the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music. Thank you to the dedication of his piano teacher Sherry McCarthy for bringing this program to Rochester for the first time this year!

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5. Rochester Public Market – When the weather warms, I skip my trip to Wegmans and make my way to the century-old Rochester Public Market. Voted one of the best public spaces in the world (yes, right up there with Seattle’s Pike Market), it has grown from a market where you can get the best local corn New York has to offer after July 15,  to a center for music, plant sales, a newly established Food Truck Rodeo each Wednesday this summer, and yes, another great venue for local festivals.

publicmarket

That’s about all the nostalgia I can handle for one post. Tomorrow, reasons 6-10.

Rochesterians, what would YOU have a hard time leaving behind?

Detroit: what do you have in store for me to explore?

I’m all ears.

Rochester Red Wings

Rochester Red Wings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The facade of the Eastman Theatre, an historic...

The facade of the Eastman Theatre, an historic auditorium in Rochester, New York. Conceived by, and named for, photography pioneer and philanthropist George Eastman, the Theatre opened in 1922. This is the primary performance space for the large ensembles at the Eastman School of Music and for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The streets in the foreground are East Main Street (left) and Gibbs Street (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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