That Perfect Moment

Perfect moments are few and far between in our lives and when they do, you savour it and you replay it in your memory forever and ever.

Picture this.  It’s late evening and you’re sitting on your patio or balcony.  A steaming cup of Capuccino alongside a piece of cheesecake is waiting to be consumed.  The air is calm with a perfect temperature of 25C.   The only sound you hear is Billy Joel’s voice singing “Just The Way You Are”.   You close your eyes and take in a deep breath and you let it out slowly.  You open your eyes and this is what you see.

This was that moment with that coffee and cheesecake on the patio of the Pacific Coffee House and music provided from a nearby bar.

That perfect moment was at Victoria Peak, Hong Kong on February 17, 2013 at 7:05 PM

 

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The Endurance Marathon

Grand Central Station  (This was taken moments after getting off the shuttle)

November 2, 2012 at 10:30 PM EST

The cancellation of the New York Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy had become a test of endurance for us.

The week leading up to the Marathon, we watched closely the damages and heartaches that were caused by Sandy.

There was mixed emotions.  On one hand, I couldn’t understand why they would want to have the race.  Then on the other hand, I couldn’t understand why they would want to cancel it.

When Bloomberg announced that they were going to go forward with it, I appreciated the determination of New York’s resilience.  However, we heard from individuals who thought this was a wrong decision.  Again, my mixed emotions crept up.  What was right or wrong?  Should we go or not?

At first, we thought the decision was going to be made for us.  Every day all flights into La Guardia had been canceled.  These cancellations continued up to the day prior to our departure.  It was at that moment, when they announced La Guardia was in full operation, I hauled out my suitcase and started packing.  I’m an easy packer.  Depending upon my destination and time of year, I will determine what gets to visit my suitcase.  This time it will be a couple pairs of blue jeans, sturdy shoes and three different black tops in various degrees of thickness and sleeve lengths.

The day of our departure, Saskatoon was met with a snowstorm.  The plane that should have taken us out of the city at 6:00 a.m. never made it into the city the night before.   We were advised that unscheduled airplanes were on their way from Calgary to Saskatoon that should resolve the issue.   Our expected times of departure went from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.   As each delay was broadcast over the PA system our connection in Toronto to New York became more fragile.

I knew the pickup time by “Supershuttle” will need to be moved.  The “Supershuttle” representative advised me that all the shuttle services were canceled.  We will have to make other arrangements to get ourselves into Manhattan.  He also indicated that the only transportation running were the cabs and even they were in short supply so be prepared for a lengthy wait.  He was talking hours and not minutes.  At this point, we were prepared to call the whole thing off.  But a challenge is a challenge and if we had to do it, we would.

We were 35,000 feet up in the air over the Great Lakes when we found out the Marathon has been canceled.  Another decision had to be made.  Do we turn around in Toronto and head back home?

The US Customs is located at the Toronto Airport and not La Guardia.  Once we retrieve our luggage from the Canadian conveyor belt we could check with Westjet to see about a return ticket.  After some deliberations with all sorts of pros and cons, we thought that since we had gotten this far, we might as well continue.  So we plopped our luggage on the American Conveyor belt and headed off to Customs.

It was the US Customs agent who drilled more fear into us.  There is a gas shortage in New York.  Good luck in getting a cab!  We were about to board an airplane to New York not knowing if we will get into Manhattan.  We had no choice.  Our luggage was already on the plane. The last resort was grabbing the M60 bus to the Astoria Blvd station and take the yellow line.  However, we weren’t even sure if the buses or subways were running.

We landed in La Guardia with so  much apprehension.  The airport was eerily quiet.  The dozen or so passengers that disembarked with us were the only ones in the baggage claim area.  As we waited for our luggage, I decided to do some investigative work.  I found one shuttle service that would take us to Grand Central.  It would be a 20 minute wait and it only costs $13.00 per person.  The weight on my shoulder vanished.  When we got to Grand Central (see picture), we were able to catch the free subway to our hotel.

In general, the experience was a bit nerve wracking.  Not knowing has always been an issue for me.  It all came together at the end.  However, it was the shuttle service operators and the hotel reception that made it all worthwhile.  These people were all smiles and comforting.  We felt like their number one concern was making sure our entrance to New York was free from stress.

I thank them for this.

Zone Out

Madison Square Park, 8:00 PM

New York City

An evening walk in New York City to see the Flatiron Building led us to Madison Square Park.  We decided to take a break and sit on one of the many benches.

The park was bustling with people.  Everyone was taking advantage of the beautiful evening with a treat from the Shake Shack.  Since the line-up was too long, we abstained to what would have been a memorable ice cream sundae.

In the midst of the crowds, sat a young man who was completely oblivious to his surroundings.  I watched him in the same pose for a lengthy period of time and wondered what he was doing.  Was it some sort of meditation or was he was getting prepared for some yoga?  I admired the fellow’s trust in his surroundings and how he could zone out whatever was happening around him.

A Little Tummy Ache

In our youth we challenged the unknown adventures.  In some cases these were not our choice but expected in life, like the first day of school.

Along the way, we are challenged with new adventures like learning to drive, learning to ride a bike, our first date, our first kiss, our first love, our first job, our first child,…

These challenges made our hearts beat a little faster, palms get sweaty and tummies may ache.

After this picture was taken, the girl in the red dress and matching handbag approached me.  She barely spoke any English but was able to communicate that she would like a picture of herself in front of the “Ferrara” shop.  She handed me her camera and struck a pose.  Now this pose is not what we would normally do…hands clasped together, staring straight into the camera, saying “cheese” (or in whatever language she spoke).  Her pose was a hand on the hip, an arm stretched to the sky with the palm facing up like she was holding a serving tray and the toes of one foot pointing straight down to the ground.  She would have gotten a job for the “Price is Right” in an instant.

I saw the excitement in her eyes.  She was experiencing life in a foreign land.   This new adventure may be making her heart beat a little faster, her palms may have been a bit sweaty and her tummy may have ached just a little bit.

What a wonderful feeling!

Americano? or Espresso and Hot Water?

New York, NY

April 25, 2011  7:47 AM

In search of the perfect cup of Americano.  A challenge we presented ourselves in our recent trip to Boston and New York.

At home we indulge in our own version of the Americano.  First thing in the morning with my newspaper and another mid-afternoon with a tasty treat.  It’s not a wake me up or pick me up.  It’s a habit just like brushing your teeth.  I could have one of these suckers and fall asleep within minutes.  Caffeine just doesn’t seem to affect me.

In Boston, we stuck with Starbucks and purchased colorful gift cards for each of us.  However, we found the Boston Starbucks Americano wasn’t strong enough.  With a Starbucks on every second block, there wasn’t an opportunity to try something new.

When, we got to New York, it was the same thing.  We stayed with Starbucks for the convenience.  To our delight, the New York version was stronger.

However, it was in the “Tick Tock Diner” located in our hotel “The New Yorker” (which is sometimes featured on the David Letterman Show) that we found our perfect cup of Americano.   They call it the “double espresso with water” and it’s not on the menu.  You would order it by description.

It comes in a mismatched diner style cup and saucer.  It’s so sloppy coming out of the espresso maker, the coffee droplets are all over cup.  It was good!

Our Starbucks card was put to rest and we indulged in our new found treasure for the remaining week.

A couple of days after our return home, our Espresso Machine committed suicide.  Because I had an early dentist appointment, I had my first cup of coffee without reading the paper.  I decided to have a second cup in the morning with the paper and that’s when the poor little guy exploded.  At 11:00 AM my habit was being compromised.  I became desperate.  I dashed out the door to Sears in hopes to find my replacement Breville on sale.  At the store, I started looking at the Pod version coffee makers and then my desperation turned into exasperation.  I gave up and headed to the nearest Starbucks for my Americano.

A Kijiji search ended up with a $700.00 Breville “the Barista Express” for $400.00.  This beautiful piece of equipment replaces my dead espresso maker and coffee grinder.  I feel like a Barista.  Maybe I should invest in one of those green Starbucks aprons to complete the look.

Amber, The Happy Camper

A recent camping trip made me revisit a memory which occurred in the year 1983.

We had gone to Waskesui Lake for the annual family camping trip.  We acquired a campsite right next to the washroom facilities for a possible Amber bathroom emergency.  Amber, at the age of 3, was fully toilet trained but my Motherly-angst kicked in.

Picture it!  A beautiful summer day.  Sunny skies.  A light breeze.  Birds singing.  Rod visits the royal throne.  Magazine in hand, he embarks on a solitary journey.  A minute or so goes by and Amber gets impatient.  She knew where he was and decides to embark on that same path.  Keep in mind, the path was only about 75 feet away.  She was in my line of sight all the time.  I watched her as she stood outside the men’s side of the washroom facilities.

Now picture this!  A washroom facility made out of wood and metal compartments.  Windows wide open to let the ominous odors out and the fresh air in.  Rod was enjoying his peace and quiet when out of nowhere, a squeaky voice comes through echoing into every nook and cranny of that washroom.  “Daddy!  Are you in there?  Are you taking a poop?”

Apparently, another occupant was in the facility and all Rod had to do was to remain quiet hoping this squeaky voice was directed to the other individual.  Now every parent out there knows their child’s distinct voice.  Like a group of penguins, you know the call of your mate.  It is unique and it belongs to them.  But Rod is stubborn and remains silent.  Maybe Amber will tire and move on.  But she kept it up.  “Daddy!  Are you in there?  Are you taking a poop?”

Relief, as the other individual left and Rod was able to respond.  By advising little Amber that yes indeed he was in the bathroom, he allowed her to satisfy her curiosity and yes indeed…move on.

 

 

 

 

Twin Towers

New York City

May, 2000

The Twin Towers standing tall and proud.  Little did we know back then that in just over a year later they would be attacked.  The destruction that it caused, not only physically to those buildings, but mentally and emotionally to the world.

We all have visual memories and emotional memories.  One emotional memory I have was being at the Port Authority. We were buying tickets to take the subway over to New Jersey.  I don’t know why, but that excitement is still vivid to me now as it was in 2000.

Sausalito to San Francisco

San Francisco

September 6, 2009 6:00 PM

 

We rode our rented bikes from San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito over the Golden Gate Bridge.  The bike rentals included a free return trip to Fisherman’s Wharf using the Ferry service.

There must have been over 200 bikes squeezed together like sardines.  I give the staff a lot of credit for making the transition on and off the ferry run smoothly.

In this picture, riders are finding their bikes to get ready for departure as we dock.