The holidays, NYC edition: part 3 – miscellany

Sometimes the best parts of a trip are the unplanned and unexpected ones.

beautiful Christmas decorations on Roosevelt Island
the fun tram ride over to Manhattan
waving at the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry…didn’t see Spiderman though
overlooking nighttime Manhattan from the Roosevelt Island tram
visited Columbia University campus and forgot to see the Physics Dept where the subject of my picture book biography (out from Sterling Publishing in the fall) worked for many years
people went nuts over the non-native escapee Mandarin Duck at Central Park but fail to appreciate the equally beautiful, and native, Buffleheads
view from Central Park
subway art…guess the story!
we had no idea that a flock of Monk Parakeets had established themselves on Long Island; the last time we saw a flock was in Chicago (also escapees)
an interesting ruin on Roosevelt Island
squirrel sunning itself on a ledge of the abandoned smallpox hospital
the UN where Batman and Robin had to save the delegates who’d been dehydrated into cubes…LOL!
Brants – another exciting bird variety for us
a panorama of Roosevelt Island (at the southern end) where our generous friends let us use their apartment over the holidays

It was overall a wonderful trip to get a good taste of NYC for me since it was only the second time I’d ever been there.

I hope your holidays were just as good!


The holidays, NYC edition: Part 2, the museums

Many people go to NYC for the shopping or shows, but we hit just the museums. The first day in the city, while getting used to the subway system and the streets, we wandered by the Guggenheim. Then we actually planned visits to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), the Tenement Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History. We also went to the Museum of Chinese in America quite by accident but I’m glad I did as it spoke to my heart and heritage.

The American Museum of Natural History was far too crowded to take many photos, and we were not allowed to take photos at the Tenement Museum.

Of all the places we went to, the Met far exceeded my expectations and I would happily spend many more days there.

the Guggenheim
I am so in love with Charles White’s art!
the Met
the Met
the Met
the Met
the Met – I’ve been fascinated by Chuck Close’s art ever since I saw it on an episode of Sesame Street
the Met
AMNH – I wrote a picture book manuscript about nebulae and it’s ISO of an editor/publisher who appreciates these things

Next time, the miscellany of NYC!

The holidays, NYC edition: Part 1, the food

Happy New Year to you all! I hope 2019 will turn out to be a good year for you, however you wish to define good. 

Friends of mine went on vacation to Thailand over the holidays and offered their NYC apartment to stay in for free in exchange for cat sitting. What an absolute deal since I love cats anyway and we were able to save a ton by not having to pay for a hotel for 10 days!

one of the kitties

As long time followers would appreciate, of course the first post about NYC would be about the foods we ate. I started this whole blog all because of food, after all. 

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Next blog, I’ll share some museum highlights…which are not nearly as tasty as food, but humans do not live on food alone (well, I could, but some people prefer more than just food). 😀

If my taste buds ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

What would any holiday season be without cookies? These are two of my favorites:


Peanut, peanut butter, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies 


Snowball cookies

What are your favorite seasonal cookies? Whatever they are, I hope you’ll have a lovely holiday eating them! I will be back in the new year; see you then. 😊

Mermaid Wednesday…is that a thing?

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not mermaid-obsessed (though the Hans Christian Andersen story haunts me still, and I can’t watch the Disney adaptation because I consider it an abomination and an insult to the master…LOL!), but this past year, I somehow made two paintings of mermaids, which is definitely a record for me.

One is cutesy. The other is a mash-up of two HCA stories…guess which two? mermaid untouched

Mermaid and soldier

Which one do you like better?


Some years, vine borers kill our squash plants before they can produce anything, but other years, I am lucky to get some yummy acorn squash! Hubby likes growing these and often makes a fabulous bisque with the pulp…it’s a perfect winter meal.


Occasionally we roast the seeds to eat, but most of the time, we just give them to the chickens who have fewer fresh foods by late October.

Things to be grateful for: food…always food

I am, of course, thankful I married someone who is an amazing cook (and gardener) but I am even more thankful for the actual food he provides me with. Here’s a recent sampling:


homemade dumplings and choisum


coleslaw with cabbage and radicchio


veggie farfalle with spinach and radicchio salad


anchovy capellini with braised kale

Literary luminaries

There was that time 7 years ago when I went to a conference (ICFA – the International Conference for Fantastic in the Arts, a perfect combination of academics and writers giving talks) and met the incomparable Terry Bisson. There’s photographic proof!

I actually went to the conference to fan-girl over Connie Willis (the one seated wearing green). If you don’t know who Connie Willis is, shame on you! And go read To Say Nothing of the Dog immediately 😀

Thanks to my wonderful Gotham Writers Workshop Speculative Fiction instructor, Michaela Roessner, I also met other super talented authors such as James Kelly, Ted Chiang, Theodora Goss, and Andy Duncan.

It was a good conference. I bought too many books, but that’s my modus operandi anyway.


Boy, I sure did have long hair back then!

Green, the color of hope and growth

Some kids pick up stray animals; my older child picks up stray plants. Here are a few of the more interesting ones (because we could all use a bit of pretty green things today).


He didn’t actually pick this one up but grew it from seed. It’s a lychee (Litchee chinensis).


I have no idea what this one is…but I want to stick in a mini ship-wrecked figure underneath it.


Lately, he’s returned to his early interest in carnivorous plant. There are butterworts, pitcher plants, sundews (I think) and Venus flytraps here.


He didn’t pick up this one either. It’s a Key lime plant we bought from Logee’s a few years back. It’s always been pathetic at producing anything (despite my making like a bee and pollinating regularly) but this year, we set it out on the deck in the summer and it got so happy, it actually produced about 6 reasonable-sized fruits. We’ll see if they last to maturity. And nature’s pollinators are tons better at their jobs than I am. :-/

Happy Halloween!

We live out in the boonies where nobody comes by for trick-or-treating anyway so it doesn’t matter. But I’m cooking up some appropriately colored things…both of which stain my hands a lovely blood red.  😛


juicing black raspberries for making jelly


boiling beets