Friday, November 25, 2011

Peck Slip Pickle Festival - NYC

View from New Amsterdam Market
Last weekend, Gary and I met my SF friend Amanda (who now lives in Portland) at the New Amsterdam Market in NYC for the Peck Slip Pickle Festival. This was the first time Gary and I had ever visited the New Amsterdam Market*, which is a weekend-outdoor marketplace under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge that features local vendors who support regional agriculture. Some of my favorite vendors that set up shop at the New Amsterdam Market are Blue Bottle Coffee (originated in SF Ferry Building) and the Bent Spoon (Princeton fame).

This weekend was special; in addition to the regular vendors, there were additional vendors featuring... you guessed it - pickles.

Pickles Were the Star of the Weekend's Market
One of the best things at the Pickle Festival was the McClure's Pickles stand - and we all absolutely loved their Spicy Bloody Mary Mix and Dill-Garlic Potato Chips...  a dangerously delicious combination.
Gary and Amanda Talk to One of the Vendors: McClure's Pickles

Regular Vendors Sold Out within a Few Hours of Opening
Of course, there were more than just pickles to be sampled - and I stocked up on homemade Mexican chocolates from a local bakery.

It was such a fun way to spend an afternoon with a very missed friend. Gary and I will definitely return to the New Amsterdam Market - when the weather gets a little warmer.

Good Links

* The New Amsterdam Market takes place rain or shine every Sunday from 11am to 4pm in front of the Old Fulton Fish Market on South Street & Peck Slip in Lower Manhattan.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Medical Time Line Tool

I got this idea from a fellow noid patient... it's a great one.

click on image to see a larger version
Since carcinoid requires so many different scans and doctors, she created a time line in powerpoint and loaded it into a dropbox password protected file - that way she could just give her doctors the dropbox password and they could download her medical treatment time line themselves. It'll take me a while to create something like this - but it beats going through my medical history every time I see a new doctor.

Loose Pages Ladies Book Club

New School Meets Old School
My friend Jean at work started a ladies book club with a few other teachers from school. I created a blog for the group, and dutifully read (ok skimmed at times) our first pick:  The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. The book was pretty depressing; without giving too much away, I'll just say that none of the characters manage to survive the ugliness of their lives fully intact.

Friday was the first meeting of the "Loose Pages Ladies Book Club", which was my first real "social" event outside of school. To be honest I was a little nervous at first, but as soon as I entered that inviting, cozy room, all of my uneasiness melted away. The fact is that I really like all of the women in the club (and our honorary member Cinder the dog), and they immediately made me feel right at home.  The evening was delightfully warm and filled with laughter - a drastic juxtaposition to the novel's tone and themes.

Our host, Mary Pat, was the epitome of graciousness and prepared a spread fit for queens, including delicious cheeses, grapes, dips and chips... followed by fruit, brownies and Italian cookies. She even had personalized bookmarks made for each of us.

As we sat around the glowing fireplace sipping our wine, we talked a little about the characters in the book and a lot about the characters in our own lives. I guess that's one of the reasons why I love books so much - they can transport us to previously unexplored parts of the world, human nature, and ourselves... and having people to share the literary journey with makes the discoveries along the way that much more exciting.

I'm really looking forward to our next meeting in December... especially since my friend Stella, who is also Italian and can cook like nobody's business, is hosting it. Guess I need to start reading our next selection - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. At least it's about 200 pages shorter than the first book. (Great, now I sound like one of my seniors!)

Beyond myself,
I wait for my arrival

Epigraph to The House of Sand and Fog; From "The Balcony" by Octavio Paz

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NET Cancer Awareness Day is Tomorrow!

November 10th is NET Cancer Awareness Day. 

Please visit to see how you can be part of the movement to "think zebra" - and sign the online Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day Proclamation. 

We need your support!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween Treats

"Cinderella" - Halloween 1976
At school, we have a tradition of allowing the seniors to dress up on Halloween (which is even that much more of a treat for them because the rest of the grades have to wear their school uniforms). Since school was canceled Monday (Halloween) due to the weather, seniors had to wait until this past Friday to wear their costumes.

The great thing about Halloween at PC is that everyone dresses up - not a single senior wears a uniform that day, and the creativity is overwhelming.

Halloween is my favorite holiday; there aren't any romantic expectations attached to it or a big price tag - just the fun of playing dress up and being rewarded in chocolate for your efforts. We all wear masks; Halloween is a time when our masks are of our own making, and not those we feel compelled to wear out of insecurity or shame.

"Angel" - Halloween at PC 2011
Halloween gives us complete freedom to morph into a new identity and use our imaginations. As we grow older, we are so busy with trying to keep up with credit debt, and family obligations, and job duties, and the latest technological advances that the simple power of "pretending" is lost. This is why, for me, Halloween is so wonderful. It is a purely self-indulgent holiday, filled with giggles and smiles from children and adults alike. It's ironic that Halloween is the one day when everyone looks crazily different, yet everyone is unconditionally accepted for how they look... if only every day were more like that.

Having a snow-day on Halloween made the holiday that much sweeter, and I used the extra day off to treat myself to a lazy day of grading and watching a fantastic "B" movie: Bubba Ho-Tep, which I absolutely loved.

Bubba Ho-Tep is an unlikely buddy movie that tells the tale of two nursing home residents - one who believes he's JFK (Ossie Davis) and the other who believes he's Elvis (Bruce Campbell) - as they battle an ancient Egyptian mummy that is sucking the life out of the near-dead elderly residents. It's quirky, off-beat, and delightful - and served as the perfect ending to a strange and wonderful "winter-white" Halloween in Jersey.