Monthly Archives: April 2013

happy friday, new york (& beyond!)


april 2013-53

the perfect pigeon!

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
 ~ John Wooden 

duane reade – new york city’s worst store – scene 1


i’m positive i’m not the only new yorker who is completely fed up with duane reade (the nyc drugstore which is found on every other corner in the city  –  see reviews).  last year duane reade was purchased by walgreens and it was the hope of all city peeps that the acquisition would improve the quality of service in the stores. nope.  didn’t happen.   still atrocious.  (when was the last time you heard thae word atrocious?  funny, isn’t it?  that’s just what popped into my head . . . . 🙂 )  anyway, i have boycotted duane reade several times over the years but eventually end up going back because they are always so close by – no matter where i live.

my first boycott was after the time i purchased mascara at DR only to find it had no bristles on the brush when i opened it.  the duane reade store manager refused the return.  i wrote a letter to the ceo of duane reade and i never got a response.  like father, like son . . . i realized why many DR employees are the worst in america – because dad doesn’t care.

i have many, many more duane reade stories, but to keep it short, i’ll just relay part 1 of yesterday’s incident and write a second post on the second act of stupidity.

scene 1:  i went to the DR on my block with a prescription and this was the conversation with the pharmacy employee (pe):

me: hi, do you have this?

pe:  no. we have no customers for it, so we don’t keep it in stock.

me: i have this rx every single month and every time i come here, you tell me you have no customers for this drug.  do you think you could keep it on hand so that i don’t have to call other pharmacies each month to find one that has this on hand?

pe: no.  we can’t stock that drug because we don’t get orders for it.  we can only order what we’ve sold the month before.

me:  how could you possibly sell something you don’t have, in order to get it into the system to generate the sale for next months re-order?

pe:  blank stare.  no response.  nada.

after about 30 seconds of staring eyeball to eyeball in complete silence, i turned around and headed home to make the litany of phone calls in search of my rx and wonder why she has a job and i’m unemployed.

Dad

“Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.”
Anonymous

babysitting in the city


here is the perfect recipe for keeping kids entertained in the city for an entire day – for free!

2 dogs (borrow from neighbors if necessary)

2 pillows

1 building maintenance man.

mix well and play.

IMG_9129 IMG_9136 copy IMG_9135 copy

“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?”
~ Milton Berle

bombing boston


.

it’s only natural for americans, when there is a terrorist attack – especially on u.s. soil –  to get caught up in the news reports and emerging details.  i do it too.

since many more details are likely to emerge for the next many moments,  may i suggest that just for this moment, we stop whatever it is we are doing and pray.  people need our prayers now – lets send them.

peace to all.

Heart-violet-icon

 

all for just $95,000,000.00!


 

 

5th avenue at 59th street:

781 5th ave 

 “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
– Woody Allen

change making!


yesterday, on my usual rounds, i stopped by a rally on east 47th street in dag hammarskjold plaza that blew me away.  the leader of the rally was a self described 16 year old “change maker” named mariely garcia.  trust me, this will not be the last time you read about mariely (. . .  just remember, you heard it here first!)  this is mariely (on right) with another amazing young change maker:

IMG_0379

imagine a 16 year old who has already created a mission for not only herself – but for the world!  mariely is the founder of a campaign called perfectly made with a mission to change reality; to change the definition of the word perfect; to fill the world with love and convince young people of their value.  In her words,

Perfectly Made is a campaign to redefine the word perfect and ignite the flame of self-love and self-worth in young people all across the nation. To be perfect is to be who you are, love who you are, and embrace the perfection in everyone around you. By radically transforming how people think of perfection, we confront issues around self-esteem, bullying, and suicide with a root solution: the understanding that we are all Perfectly Made and must treat others as such. Through social media, videos, daily emails, and events of all sizes, we are sparking an inner transformation in students that ultimately translates into a world where acceptance, love, confidence, courage, oneness, inspiration and vulnerability thrive and are fully embraced.

yesterday’s rally was the launch of a national movement of students transforming themselves and their schools according to the new definition of perfect.  mariely has assembled a dream team & together they’re making it happen.
– she’s 16!!

i’ll walk you through the rally. upon arrival, people were invited to share in mariely’s dream by registering to help.  the next step was to stop by one of many full length mirrors to admire your own perfection. attendees were invited to share their thoughts using supplied crayons and writing on a very long runway of white paper which was laid down nearly the length of the plaza.

IMG_0343

 IMG_0358

young people were invited to express themselves through dance,

IMG_0348

poetry,

IMG_0372

and song.

IMG_0377

these peeps had talent – they kind you would definitely have paid for. . .  wow!

at an age where many kids have doubts about themselves an often not enough support or experience to navigate the turbulence, marliely and her team provide love and support.

please watch this video,  “like” it,  share it and spread the word.  make it your random act of kindness for today.

IMG_0370

mariely garcia for president!

40 times free?


post

Police charged a Brooklyn man yesterday in a series of anti-Semitic arson attacks in which mezuzahs were set ablaze in Williamsburg apartment buildings, cops said.

Ruben Ubiles, 35, is accused of second-degree burglary, arson and criminal mischief as a hate crime in the burning of the religious items, which are hung at home entrances.  Eleven of the burnings came Monday — Holocaust Memorial Day.

Police picked up Ubiles,

who has more than
40 priors

while he was hiding under his girlfriend’s bed at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

i’m just going to assume you know what i’m thinking here . . . .

Bomb-Cool-icon

Make crime pay. Become a lawyer.
 ~ Will Rogers 

.

just when you’re ready to throw in the towel . . .


“It’s part of nature’s built-in checks and balances, that while there may be times when you think you can’t even help yourself, precisely in such moments there will always be someone else nearby . . . you can help, instead.”
~ the universe
     & mike dooley

monkey icon

street vendors


the other day i passed by a street vendor selling decorative signage on 5th avenue.  this was by far my favorite sign:

smile   

i was a bit tempted . . . 

🙂

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”
 ~ Bill Cosby 

 

they always know what i’m thinking


everyday the story of the day arrives in my inbox and makes me smile.  love those story peeps. . . .

creating reality framed

“Genius. It is just attention to something specific. That’s all it is.”
~ Esther Hicks

 

 

loving tibet in ny


tibet uprising day UN (3)

“How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.”
– Wayne Dyer

where the heart is . . .


we’re home!

Ivan Aug 2012 (1)

and resting comfortably. Ivan Aug 2012 (3)

the wildlife in the apartment isn’t quite the same as in the woods upstate, but it also doesn’t move around when you’re trying photograph it.

ivan cutest dog ever oct 2012 (9)

“True humility is contentment.”
~ Henri Frederic Amiel 

how urban sprawl begins


it’s been 5 days on my country hiatus now and  i’m thinking of heading back to the city later this afternoon.  so far today i’ve seen 3 deer,  1 blue jay and a woodpecker and look what i found yesterday:

sheep columbia county (3) black cows (2)

i’m taking this as a sign from the universe that it just may be time to get back to the crowds in the city . . .

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
 ~ Lao Tzu 

friends in the country


i’ve been on my country hiatus for 4 days now and i’ve only seen 6 or 7 people, but i have managed to make some new friends.  the folks up here have much less to say than city peeps, and when they do speak, it’s hard to understand what they’re really saying.  luckily i have ivan with me to translate.  meet the new crew:

IMG_0100 

spencertown cows  (5)

IMG_0045

IMG_0118

spencertown deer (2)

IMG_0102 crop

spencertown cows  (19)

IMG_0122

hawk fly sky

spencertown cows  (13)

and the translator:

ivan (2)

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.”
~ Ghandi

want to see what a real earth angel looks like?


this is chris:

c_johnson

now read what he’s done for my family – and just try not to cry!

Hollister Construction Gives Westfield Girl, 9, a Lift

Sara Cagnassola, born with cerebral palsy, had an elevator installed in the Westfield home her great grandfather built.

By Elizabeth Alterman,  Westfield Patch

A conversation with a former college friend led to a dream-come-true experience for the Cagnassola family of Westfield.

Thomas Cagnassola, 44, explained that he ran into his friend and former fraternity brother Chris Johnson at a New Year’s Eve party four years ago. Knowing that Johnson was in the construction field, Cagnossola casually asked his advice on having an elevator installed in the English Tudor he shares with his wife and children.

Johnson, founder and chief executive officer of the Parsippany-based Hollister Construction Services, said while he had noticed that Thomas was often carrying his daughter Sara, then 5, he didn’t understand why his friend would want to undertake such a massive project.

Cagnassola explained that as much as he and his family wanted to remain in their home, built in 1932 by his grandfather, it was becoming increasingly difficult for his young daughter Sara, born with cerebral palsy, to navigate.

“When Chris said he’d like to help, I knew he was sincere but what I didn’t expect was that he not only picked up the ball and ran it though the end zone, but he kept going through the band and out the back door,” said Cagnassola.

Establishing the charitable foundation Strides for Sara in 2009, Johnson made it his mission to first find Sara a wheelchair which would allow her to remain in the Westfield School District. Without the chair, Johnson explained, Sara would have to be bussed nearly 45 minutes away to the Mountain Lakes School District.

While hosting a golf outing for Strides for Sara, Johnson mentioned the need to a colleague who serves with him at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“He said, ‘We just bought a brand new wheelchair for my mother but she passed away. It’s never been used,'” said Johnson.

“Next thing we knew a Hollister truck pulled up and dropped off the wheelchair,” said Cagnassola.

Once he’d secured the chair, Johnson said he was “off and running.” Each year, Strides for Sara has been hosting a fundraising event with the long-term goal of installing an elevator inside the Cagnassolas’ three-level home.

This March that dream became a reality. After working with an architect and finding contractors and subcontractors who were willing to donate their time to this labor of love, the three-and-a-half story addition was complete.

Johnson explained that the project, which took a little more than five months to build, began with a ramp at the mud room level. Cagnassola said this ramp, which allows Sara the independence to go outdoors and visit with friends in the neighborhood without having to ask her mom for help, is just one of the examples of the ways the team took all of Sara’s needs into consideration.

Johnson said the kitchen and bathroom areas are now ADA-complaint. In addition, an electrician has outfitted the home so that through an iPad, Sara is able to adjust light and heat settings as well as see who is at the front door.

“Sara is the fifth generation of our family to live in Westfield. My dad and grandfather are both Westfield High School graduates. This house means a lot to us. If it weren’t for Chris and the Hollister Foundation we would have had to move to a ranch, I’m sure,” said Cagnassola, who added that it was thrilling to watch the project come to life. “This is a fairy tale for any family with special needs. It’s like something right out of one of those television shows.”

Through his company’s charity, The Hollister Foundation, Johnson has raised more than $500,000 to promote awareness for organizations that foster children’s advancement through education and healthy initiatives. The organization supports a range of charities including Strides for Sara, United Way, Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Hugs from Home, and The Center for Autism.

Additionally, Johnson is a supporter of the Ryan Wolf Kossar Foundation, the CJ Foundation for SIDS, the Development School for Youth, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Family Services of Morris County and Fairleigh Dickinson University, according to Hollister’s website.

Sara’s First Ride

Once the installation was complete, Sara reserved her first ride for the man who made it all possible–Johnson. The entire Hollister team, along with the subcontractors who donated their time and talent to the project, were at the Cagnassolas’ home for the inaugural ride.

“It took four years of grit, determination and, most of all, love for Sara to see this project through, from getting permits and approvals, to raising donations and holding fund-raising events, to completing the construction work,” said Johnson. “All that effort came together when we saw the big smile on Sara’s face as she took her first ride on her elevator. It was a wonderful moment that reminded us of why we are committed as a company to building stronger communities by doing what we can to help those in need.”

Johnson said intially he had been thinking only about how the elevator would improve life for Sara but after taking their first ride together, Sara’s reaction made him realize the full impact this gift would have on the Cagnassola family.

“She said, ‘Now my mommy doesn’t have to carry me – it will help Mommy,'” recalled Johnson. “It was pretty moving.”

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” added Andrew Goetting, Hollister’s Business Development Manager.

Johnson said he was motivated to help his friend’s family because he always believed Sara should be offered the same opportunities his own children have.

“It’s important to give back,” said Johnson, a 2011 finalist in the Corporate Citizen of the Year category of the 2011 NJBIZ Business of the Year awards program. “But the actual gift was to us. After we finished, you felt good, like you could run through brick walls.”

Cagnassola said he can’t thank Johnson and his team of contractors, electricians and plumbers enough. “You’ve not only transformed my home but also my daughter’s abilities,” he said.

For more information about Hollister Construction Services, visit the company’s website 

sara chris johnson strides (5)to the team of hollister construction – thank you, thank you, thank you!!

sara chris johnson strides (4)pushing the button – getting ready for take-off!

sara chris johnson strides (3) mommy & sara

sara chris johnson strides (2)mission accomplished!

sara chris johnson strides (1) sara & hollister superheros!

sara chris johnson strides (6) happy family with grandma & grandpa

may god continue to bless you forever and ever,
chris johnson!

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
~ Lao Tzu 

zen in the woods


my brother once reminded me of the saying, “if you need something done, give it to a busy person.”  this is so true – at least for me.  ever since i lost my job, i have become less organized by the day, and have a hard time getting things done – which is very unlike me – at least the me i used to be.

i make lists.  and lots of sticky notes for myself too.  lists and notes used to keep me organized but these days, they just accumulate alongside all of the unopened bills that keep arriving in my mailbox. my lists, notes and bills have formed into a giant pile which i occasionally move around the apartment.  it is way past time for action!  so i called up my friend susan, who owns an awesome house two and a half hours outside of the city and asked if i could use it for several days to  organize the pile of papers and make an action plan for what to with my life. she agreed it would be good for me and gave me the keys.  ivan and i headed out around noon on wednesday.

so here i am with ivan, in the middle of the woods, in an awesome house with magnificent views and no distractions – except for the 2 amazon sized hawks that just nearly crashed into the huge glass wall in front of which i am sitting. wow – that wasn’t something you experience everyday.  hawks fly high and if i were in the valley below, they would have been off in the distance, like i’m used to seeing hawks. but this house sits on the top of a mountain and it really looked like they were coming in for a landing right into the living room!

it’s been pretty windy up here in the woods so when i heard strange noises right after the near fatal attack of the hawks, i attributed it to the wind.  it seemed like a good time to take a break from staring at my piles of papers and go outside for a possible hawk photo opportunity.  there i was, just standing on the deck quietly admiring the amazing mountain view and waiting for some hawks, when all of the sudden i was startled by very loud noises which seemed to be very close to me.  even ivan was alarmed and he can barely hear anything anymore.  i quickly turned around in an attempt to locate the source of the noise and just overhead, directly above the glass wall they had almost crashed into earlier, were two of the biggest hawks i’ve ever seen, duking it out on the roof – a bird fight!  i was so surprised and they were so close to my head, i torpedoed inside and i missed the photo op!  i’m  not scared of birds, at least i never thought i was, but having two hawks with 6 foot wing spans brawling less than 10 feet from your head is a bit frightening for any city girl.  once inside, i remembered that i had never heard of death by hawk for anyone so i returned to the deck.  by that time, they must have resolved their issues and had stopped the fight.  i got several pix of them leaving the roof.

hawk fly sky 6 hawk fly sky hawk fly sky 2 hawk fly sky 3 hawk fly sky 4

more adventures to come, stay tuned!

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
~ e. e. cummings

voodoo snowman


i found this picture on facebook & it pretty much sums it up for me:

snowman

“Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”
 ~ Robert H. Schuller 

5th avenue easter


i was never much into parades, even as a kid.  they always seem too crowded and uninteresting when there are so many other cool things you could be doing in the city that has everything. . .   then 2 things changed.   1. i got my press pass which allows me to get into open spaces away from the crowds and take photos without someone banging my elbow as i press the shutter button, or waving a paper flag right into the center of my shot.  and 2.,  last year when i discovered that the easter parade isn’t a parade at all!  the easter parade is just a whole lot of people aimlessly wandering around 5th avenue which is closed between 47th and 57th streets for the occasion.  people get all dressed up for the sole purpose of having their picture taken in their best bonnets and it’s crazy fun.  here are some of my observations about the nyc easter parade:

first, the easter bunny looks nothing like the white fluffy one i knew growing up in the suburbs of nj:

easter bunny statue 2013  (6 blue)

second, some people apparently confuse easter with halloween – which i like because halloween is my second favorite holiday, following my birthday:

easter 2013 nyc peeps (226)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (274)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (217)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (46)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (16)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (21)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (123)

the creativity is amazing!  everyone wants to be seen and they all want to be photographed which makes a press pass completely unnecessary – when they see a camera, they come to you and pose for a shot.

easter 2013 nyc peeps (65)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (272)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (418a)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (422)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (89)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (302)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (96)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (310)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (330)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (82)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (331)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (100) 

easter 2013 nyc peeps (282)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (342)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (314)

as you see, the ‘bonnets’ were exceptional which may have made this woman feel like hers wasn’t quite good enough to flaunt, so she just carried her bonnet.

easter 2013 nyc peeps (259)

i loved this guy because he had a great bonnet with a troll in it – and he also had awesome eggs.  he hand painted his eggs and filled them all with an intention of love – i love that!

easter 2013 nyc peeps (76)

easter  eggs 2013  (2)

easter  eggs 2013  (3)

if i were the bonnet judge, these two would have received the 1st runners up award just for being so incredibly cool:

easter 2013 nyc peeps (108)

easter 2013 nyc peeps (112) 

but this lady would have received my vote for first prize.  not only did she have the biggest bonnet, i have to credit her for lugging it around all day with a smile on her face.

easter 2013 nyc peeps (72)

subconsciously it may have just reminded me of the meaning of the day.

easter 2013 nyc church (1) copy

i hope your day was happy – blessings to all!

“The symbolic language of the crucifixion is the death of the old paradigm; resurrection is a leap into a whole new way of thinking.”
~ Deepak Chopra