Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sister in the City

I just can't get enough of this beautiful girl.
While my adorable kid sister, Megan, holds down the Furniss fort in northern Utah, my parents are eager to be sure she gets to spend lots of time with family. Which means graciously shipping her out east for the occasional sisters weekend. Yeah, we'll take that bullet. Right, Megs? :)

Megan visited NYC last year with our parents, so Megan Takes Manhattan Part II was a markedly more laid-back tour of the city. A perfect fit for my delightfully laid-back sis.

The first morning, Megan spent an hour+ kicking my booty around the gym. Megan is majoring in human movement studies (formerly exercise science) and just finished a corporate wellness internship with Verizon - and I tell you what, this gal knows her stuff. I thought I was in decent shape. But the look on my face when I realized I had two more sets of plyos and sprints probably screamed less "let's do this!" and more "you're going to have to scrape me off the floor when I give up, pass out and let the treadmill run its course."

One of the best parts of Megan's trip was introducing her to and spending time with a few of our dear friends. We met up with Tamara and Brian and their kids for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and Grimaldi's in the park. The group hit the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory afterward, and little T enjoyed it the way ice cream was meant to be enjoyed.
(Best part: the chocolate mark on her forehead from the rim of the cup.)

The Smedley's aren't just good friends - they're also good luck. They kindly joined us for the lottery to win Wicked tickets, and after the Wicked Lotto Guy (aka - the guy who gets off being withholding - reference, anyone?) made little T cry insisting she had to write her own name in order to enter the lottery (she can - but it is TOUGH to perform under pressure!), we came out victorious. In the words of the guy next to us who won before we did, "what!" You read correctly - not so much a question as much as a statement of incredulousness.
Sunday was our staple Chelsea Market, High Line and West Village routine and the most delicious broiled veggies and pasta salad you can even imagine. Could have also been that it was Fast Sunday and we were all famished.
We spent Labor Day laboring 8 miles up and down the Hudson River Parkway. Megan admitted she's not one for running distances and as we started out, she bolted off at a pretty decent clip. I gave pause for a pitying inward thought, "oh, megs..." - knowing she probably wasn't used to pacing herself for longer runs and figuring she'd run out of steam soon.

Nope. Not so much. The little rockstar kept a killer pace for 8 miles with umph left for a sprint toward the end. What gives?

We met up with Noah and another great friend, Jeff, for a Yankees game in the blazing sun. You would have thought we'd handpicked the folks sitting next to us to give Megan the gen-u-ine New Yorker experience. It was not so - but we did get a few good laughs out of their, ahem, zealous support of the team.
Labor Day was also significant for another reason. And it was only appropriate that Megan be there to share it with me. Three months ago, Megan came home from work telling tales of the 5C Challenge - essentially, no sugar until Labor Day. Noah shot a sidelong glance in my direction and wisely remarked, "you could never do that." He beat me by just a breath as I started to say, "I could never do that." Which is precisely why I needed to do that. So for three months I said goodbye to all things artificially delicious with a big circle on the calendar around the date September 6.

We blew it in style. We warmed up on Red Vines and gummy worms during the Yankees game and some pre-dinner chocolate toffee almonds from Whole Foods. We enjoyed dinner at Gigino's in Tribeca (delicious in its own right, but this is about the sweets) before meeting up with Danielle and Matt for pie at Bubby's. Oooh, baby.
The sugar was literally coursing through my veins by night's end. But I am not ashamed to admit we hit Magnolia for pumpkin cheese cake between rounds at H&M, Daffy's and Century 21 the next day. Girls need their shopping fuel, right?
Excuse the poor composition of this shot. I couldn't leave out this cute picture of Megan. It's not her fault the gal behind the lens put a globe on her head.

We adore this sweet, funny, smart, fun, motivated girl. Loved your visit, Megs! Thanks for making it happen, Mom and Dad!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guest Book: Chris and Mindy

We have been looking forward to our visit from Noah's mom, Christine, and his sister, Mindy, all year! The call of the US Open song was too strong to keep these tennis aficionados away for long (Noah and Allison are a decent draw. Roddick and Clijsters sweeten the pot considerably.) and we're so glad it happens to be in our own backyard.

Before they came out, Mindy was explaining to her son, Josh, where we live. By the end of the conversation, Josh was apparently pretty concerned about our well being - what with our no yard/no car/no bedrooms existence. She also used this information + stories of art museums and lots of walking around a city to convince him why this was going to be a grown-ups-only trip, so I had to laugh when Mindy refrained from a photo of the display at the new Lego store in Rockefeller Center, knowing Josh would spot the photo and insist there are fun things for kids in NYC. Hilarious! I love how well Mindy knows her kids :).

The ladies took the NYC museum scene by storm while Noah and I wrapped up work, then we caught a "street meat" dinner (because we're classy hosts like that) before checking out Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue and Grand Central Station.

Saturday was Noah's famous lower Manhattan tour (a throwback to his USU Ambassador days. just waiting for him to start walking backward around the city...) and Clinton Street brunch at Tompkins Square Park with the potheads and weirdos. Seriously - do park goers get any stranger than this bunch? I submit that they do not.

We serpentined around the city and ended up back downtown in time for a visit to Purl Soho, where Noah joined the rest of the testosterone in the room at the shopping legs table (I saw them exchange knowing glances as he sat down). I've been looking for an excuse to visit this delightful fabric store, but knew I had to go with a seamstress extraordinaire like Chris. The woman knows fabric like the back of her hand, so it was fun to explore with an expert. From there, we were off to dinner and a show - Chris generously treated us to tickets to Memphis. It was amazing! One of our very favorite shows we've seen.
Sunday was an absolute highlight of the trip. After church, we packed a picnic to the High Line and as we dined, were serenaded by a group with guitars, harmonicas, you name it... singing everything from John Denver to the Beatles (though, I suppose John Denver and the Beatles aren't exactly on opposite ends of the "everything" scale).

After lunch, we enjoyed a nice walk through the Village, then retreated to our apartment for a few hours to escape the oppressive heat before venturing uptown in search of this building:

Noah's grandmother attended NYU for a time when she was a young girl. In fact, NYC is the scene of Grandma and Grandpa Riley's engagement. A month or so ago, Grandma found a letter her younger sister sent while she was living out here. Armed with the address, we came to this building - excited to realize it's a building we've passed often on Broadway in Morningside Heights. While we were there, we gave Grandma a quick call and sent a few pictures of the building. It's so fun to feel connected to Noah's grandparents this way and to think about the adventures they had at our age. I loved this note she sent back:

How fun to see the place where I lived 64 years ago!!! It brings back many happy, special memories, not only of the nine months I lived there but especially the week that Grandpa and I spent together seeing exactly the things you, Mindy and Chris are seeing while you are there. New York City is definitely an exciting place to be.

Looking at this picture I can just visualize Dave (the door man) standing on the side walk and opening the door for us with a great big smile. He always called us ladies and he was dressed very properly with gold trim on his grey suit and hat. And then I can see Frank the nice little black guy who ran the elevator for us with another big smile. His hair was so startling black that we thought he probably touched it up with black shoe polish. (The reason I know Frank's name is that I just found a poem in my book that I wrote about New York for my literature class at NYU.)

Mindy, after being in New York you will enjoy reading my diary more about our activities there. It was truly a glorious nine months of my life. Thank you all for the call and the picture. I am just happy that 'my' building hasn't been bull dozed over for a newer more modern building. Try to visualize me leaving the building and going in the wrong direction to buy ice cream for everyone in our apartment. It took a few blocks for me to realize that the numbers on the street were going up (or down) when they should have been gong the opposite. I was always lost, either on foot or subway. I am surprised Norma and our roommates even let me out of the apartment.

After our visit with Grandma, we stopped by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the LDS Temple before heading over to Julliard and Lincoln Center. The Metropolitan Opera happened to be broadcasting a performance of the Magic Flute on the plaza at Lincoln Center. We made our way to a grassy area further away from the crowd, but still within earshot of the music and spent the evening chatting and getting our Mozart on.
Perfect evening and wonderful company. Thanks for making the trip, Chris and Mindy!

'Allo Gov'na

Off the southern tip of Manhattan is a little spot of land called Governor's Island. One lazy summer Saturday, Noah and I cut across the park and hopped aboard the ferry. (The pre-boarding survey was awesome. "How did you get here?" On foot. "How do you plan to get home?" Also on foot...? Maybe they're used to visitors from more exciting locales than across the street.)Don't get me wrong, I really loved this place - but Gov's has the makings for the set of horror movie.

Used as a military facility by British and American forces for more than 200 years, the place has essentially been deserted for the last 15 years. As in, looks like people just up and left, deserted. (That's probably not dramatic enough - deserted usually means up and left, I suppose.) As in, tapestries still hanging on the church walls and didn't drain the toilets, up and left, deserted.
After I got over the initial eeriness of its desertion, I quickly moved on to the realization that there are houses - full on neighborhoods with full. on. houses. - just the tiniest stone's throw away from Manhattan. I was already hatching a plan to move into one of those houses (the ultimate fixer-upper) when Noah reminded me of the logistical catastrophe that would be home improvement projects on a tiny island that was otherwise deserted and only reachable by ferry. Plus, there is always the inconvenient detail - not for sale.
We made a loop around the island (well, no - we made an erratic path around the island that looked like one of those Family Circus cartoons) and eventually came to the hammock grove. The grove of hammocks... and Adirondack chairs. The former were full, the latter were not. And so, we enjoyed a nice sit.
Somewhere in the process of our outing we snapped this shot of the skyline, including our building. Not sure what happened to make it turn out this way - but I'm a fan!