Travel

Exploring Central Park and Roosevelt Island, NYC

We’re heading into Fall here in Southern California. I keep waiting for that nip in the air, the signal that real fall is coming. Maybe in November.

In June I wrote about waiting in NYC. In July, my son finally moved into his tiny 400 square foot apartment where a queen size air mattress takes up more than half the living room.

In September I visited his place and while he went off to work I went exploring into parts of NYC where I’d always wanted to spend more time.

First stop, Central Park. The park never gets old and is usually lively with music in the mall. Within a few hundred feet the music went from solo saxophone to bluesy jazz and ended with lively bagpipes.

The park has 29 sculptures and I doubt you could see them all in one visit (unless you plan to stay from dawn to dusk). I hunted for the Alice In Wonderland statue I’d missed before and along the way, I saw birds I’d never seen in California.

I managed to get a photo of a Red Cardinal near the Pond.

Cardinal in Central Park

And I found an inviting entrance tucked beside a busy walkway. The sign outside said “Hallet’s Nature Sanctuary.” I entered and found a peaceful place with paths leading up to gorgeous boulders and a rocky waterfall where a host of Sparrows bathed.

Enter the Hallet Nature Sanctuary-Central Park, NYC. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

During the construction of Central Park, in 1858, the designers left the north edge of the swamp relatively untouched for a bird sanctuary and named it the Pond. A portion of this woodland is reserved (Hallet’s) and is open during scheduled hours. This is definitely one of Central Park’s best-kept secrets.

Another day I took a ferry from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, in between Manhattan and Astoria, Queens, where through most of the 1900’s the place housed an insane asylum, hospital, and prison.

The two-mile island can be easily walked from one point (the lighthouse) to the other (Franklin Roosevelt’s Freedom Park). The view from both ends is worth the walk.

Blackwell Island Lighthouse-www.alvaradofrazier.com

Although the insane asylum is now inoperative, you can still see the skeleton structure covered in ivy. I’m saving that photo for my Instagram feed near Halloween; it’s that creepy.

Instead of the asylum, you’ll find Cornell Tech, the Octagon historic residence, parks, a newer hospital, shops, and the ubiquitous Starbucks.

When you’re done exploring for the day you can return to Midtown Manhattan on the Roosevelt Island Tram, if you’re not afraid of heights.

Up in the Air on the Roosevelt Island Tram-www.alvaradofrazier.com

Or you can take a ferry down to Wall Street and continue investigating the city sights.

Now that my son lives in NY, I’ll be back near Christmas time. After that, I’m traveling with my mom and family. Remember the story I told you about the ghosts? Well, they have not been back, but Mom’s asked us to take her to her parents birth state, in Guanajuato, Mexico where she last visited in the 1940’s.

I haven’t been to Mexico since the 80’s. Although I don’t really want to go, and I know this will be a difficult journey both physically and mentally for Mom, I will because that’s what you do for family. I’m glad she did agree to spend a couple of days in San Miguel de Allende, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. The trip should be interesting.

Explore more, whether by foot or by book. See you next time!

Mexican sopa de fideo
Latino culture, Mexican Cooking, Mexican food

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fideo, a Mexican side dish

A to Z Challenge for bloggers

Day Six, already? Today’s letter in the A to Z Challenge is F.

The first word I thought of was Fideo, not Fi-deo, but Fee-day-0; which is Angel Hair Pasta.

I was going to write about Fajas (girdles) or Flores (flowers) but food won out. So you know what’s on my mind.

Fideo is another ‘poor person’s’ dish, like enchiladas with cheese, but much easier and faster to make. However, it’s not the main meal, it’s a side dish.

Fideo may have been the first food I tried to make on my own, as a kid, for the family. I recall this dish as comfort food.

Some people called fideo the Mexican spaghetti, but don’t let a Mexican mom hear that comparison. Spaghetti is spaghetti and fideo is fideo: never the twain shall meet.

There are two types of fideo: seco as in dry and regular or ‘soupy’ as my mom says Fideo soupy (a great example of a Spanglish term to describe a dish).

Technically, it’s sopa de fideo.

Our household made fideo soupy only. The hot caldo (broth) was full of flavorful tomato sauce with onion and garlic flavors.

Dry fideo or angel hair pasta

This is how it looks when it comes out of the package. We never cooked the entire coils but broke them up into bite-size pieces, sauteed the fideo in hot oil, with onions, garlic, salt, maybe a dash of oregano.

After the fideo is toasty, you add four ounces tomato sauce and eight ounces of water, (you could use vegetable or chicken stock instead) bring to a boil, lower and test for to see if it’s soft after 10 minutes.

That’s it, the fideo is done.

Sopa de Fideo

 

 

Encouragement, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Thanksgiving

How Do We Go Through Disappointments and Still Be Grateful?

Thankful. Photo by Jessica Bristow on Unsplash.com

In preparation for our Thanksgiving gathering, we moved the living room sofa out, rearranged the coffee table and other stuff and fit in three tables so we could be all together in one room.

Halloween used to be one of the top holidays around my house until the kids grew up and moved out. Now, there are more Fall decorations than ever before.

Not my table, but it’s pretty. Unsplash.com photo by rawpixel.com

 

Fall makes me think of harvest which makes me envision gathering and storing up. We can’t help but recognize the shorter days, cooler nights, moving faster toward bare trees, cold and winter.

This transition between seasons from bright to dark makes me think of the past year, globally and locally with terrorism, war, and mass shootings. We’ve had struggles, disappointments, and failures in our life or that of our own families.

How, then, do we get through so much disappointment and express gratitude?

If you want to take a Gratitude Quiz and compare this year’s results with next year’s, go for it. It might be an eyeopener.

But back to the original question: how do we express gratitude?

This isn’t easy, but with practice, it gets easier.

We remember the days of light. The getting up when we’re down. We look back at those times when we tried again or started all over.

We recall that we’ve faced the unknown before, and survived.  We’ve had family and friends die but we talk about the memories and what they added to our life.

We remind ourselves that even in the dark, we can push through and grow.

With daily practice, we can feel gratitude. Hopefully, we can express this to our family, friends, or a stranger that gave us support or showed a kindness when we went through the valleys.

A “Gratitude Journal” can get you into the practice of feeling grateful and eventually expressing gratitude. Here are some tips on how to keep such a journal.

I like what Jim Wallis says in his article “Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice” and share it here:

So in a year especially characterized by things that have made me deeply disappointed, concerned, worried, fearful, and angry, let me name my top 10 sources of gratitude at Thanksgiving 2017. (Not in any particular order.)

  1. Parents who put their children’s lives and well-being as primary in their own schedules.
  2. The indigenous people who led the way at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline and who demonstrated to us the vocation of stewardship for the earth.
  3. The women who are standing up to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault — and the men who have called out their peers.
  4. Black pastors who are willing to speak the truth to power and protect their young people from increasing racism by finding themselves in the streets and not just in their pulpits.
  5. White pastors who love their people enough to preach the gospel to them, even if their white parishioners are motivated more by the agenda of Fox News than the gospel.
  6. Black and brown Christians who have called out their white brothers and sisters who say they didn’t vote for Trump because of his racial bigotry, but for other reasons, by saying I guess that wasn’t a deal breaker for you.
  7. Global church leaders who are willing to exemplify the body of Christ as the most racially diverse community in the world in sharp contrast to the American bubble where racial geography trumps theology, and for American church leaders who are willing to denounce “America First” as a heresy.
  8. Principled Republican conservatives who have been willing to stand up morally and politically to Donald Trump — like Mike Gerson, Peter Wehner, David Brooks, and Russell Moore.
  9. Conversations with people who tell the truth like Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Alexander, William Barber, Brittany Packnett, Margaret Atwood, Valarie Kaur, Eboo Patel, Joe Kennedy III, and Mark Shriver.
  10. Thanks be to the God who loves and sustains us while we try to figure out our strategy every day!

Full article here.

So this Thanksgiving, as I gather with my extended family, the meat eaters and the three vegans, we come together to share the harvest, reconnect and celebrate another year of living.

I wish you and yours a Thanksgiving meal full of reconnections, laughter, and love. I’m grateful to you for reading!

thank you card
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

Encouragement, Writing

When You Need a Kick in the Writing Butt

Kick in the Butt by Tiana 101 Meme Center

Half of August is gone and September is rolling into view.

A lot of stressful events occurred in the last few weeks (life between the sheets of paper) but they aren’t my stories to tell right now. They belong to my family but I can share some of my own more positive days.

I’m deep in the middle of a UCLA online writing class and to be blunt, it’s kicking my butt.

Sometimes we need a boot in the behind. And not to sound like a masochist, but it’s a good thing. The class contains a lot of great short stories to read, discussion with other students, and here’s where the shoe hits the soft spot, I must create and write a story every week.

Like everyone else, there’s a ton of stuff to do as a parent, sibling, daughter, and friend that could be done instead of reading and writing for a summer class.

But, I’m viewing this as a test of patience and persistence on my writing journey. Which reminds me of this quote:

keep calm poster
I read this whenever I want to give up and know I shouldn’t

 

At first, the assignment was 100 words, then 150 words, rising to 400 words (easy-peasy) but then we began to climb the word count mountain. Now it’s 500 words, and the final is a complete short story of 750-1250 words due in three weeks when I’m leaving to the UK. (I know, boo-hoo) 🙃

Although I may sound whiny I am enjoying the process. Sometimes it’s good to get back into ‘school.’

So, I thought I’d share a couple of items that may benefit my blog readers who are writers. Maybe you need a little inspiration to stay on the writing wagon.

Reprise

“Don’t let yourself set page goals, or think in terms of what gets done in a given session of work. Spend the time–the session is what counts, the time. The goal should be two hours, or three, or four, however many. Did you spend the time? If the answer is yes, no other questions. Cultivate patience of the tidal kind. This day’s work. It doesn’t have to be especially productive–no matter how well or ‘not well’ it seems to go in a day, it is always going well if you’re working, if you’re making the time. The good things will come if you’re making the time.” Richard Bausch

And now for an excellent video:

 

I hope you enjoyed the quote and video. Whatever your chosen passion may be, a good kick in the derrière may drive you over the hump and into the desired place you want to arrive.