Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hudson River Valley

After playing in the big city for a few days we boarded our river boat, the American Star. This was a wonderful way to explore the Hudson River valley. We unpacked and enjoyed our comfortable room, good food, interesting, beautiful sights and the company of pleasant people.

I loved getting up early and sipping my morning coffee while watching the fog roll across the river. It was a peaceful way to begin each day.

The river has several lighthouses along the way, each unique and different from all the others. It had never before occurred to me that a river needed lighthouses. None of them is in use any longer. They just stand as a symbol of a time gone by.

The first evening of our cruise we docked at West Point. It is quite a formidable sight from the river. It's appearance did remind me a bit Hogwarts, and I suspect that a bit of magic is sometimes practiced there. It is a beautiful, impressive campus.

The leaves were just beginning to change color when we left New York. By the time we returned the trees were becoming beautiful signs of autumn.

This valley is home to many beautiful homes. We stopped in Hyde Park where FDR and the Vanderbilts lived in splendor. My favorite fine house was Olana, the home of Fredrick Church. Church was a great American artist who lived in a Persian castle in the Catskills. If I looked out on his view of the Hudson valley every day I believe I too might become a great painter.

The Hudson River valley is a beautiful, interesting part of the world. I am so grateful that we able to enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

When our boat sailed by the Statue of Liberty I got goose bumps just thinking about what this sight must have meant to the masses of immigrants who sailed past her on their way to America. This symbol of freedom is one of those things that makes me proud of my country, a place that welcomes the all those yearning to be free. This great country of ours is built on the lives of immigrants who have worked hard to make this land their own and have blessed this land with their talent.

Most of these people passed through Ellis Island on the way to their new home. The Lower East-side of New York became crowed with these new Americans, fresh off the boat.

At the suggestion of my favorite rabbi one of the things we did in New York was to visit the Tenement Museum. It was a very educational and emotional tour. We went through two of the 300 square foot apartments that were home to two of the families of the many immigrants, one appeared as it did in 1890s, the other as it was in the 1930s. Life was very hard for these people as they adjusted to a new land that was in the midst of economic hard times. Most did not speak English and lived in great poverty.

Some things never change. People of that time formed political parties to keep these newly arrived citizens out of America because they had a different religion and spoke no English. It was said they would hurt our country and never be real Americans. The children and grandchildren of these immigrants are now part of the American tapestry and have helped to make our land a great place.

I hope our country still can be a place that welcomes the huddled masses yearning to be free. I believe these new arrivals can help bless this country and make it a stronger, more beautiful place.

God bless America.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Times Square

I believe Times Square in New York is the best people-watching place on earth. Everybody comes here to see and to be seen. The crowds of people, the bright lights, and general craziness are great fun to watch. Our traveling companions, Pat and Ralph, and I just sat down and looked in amazed wonder at all we saw.

I'm not sure what these two were talking about, perhaps a business deal of some sort. The gentleman was one of the hundreds standing in line for cheep show tickets.

These two people chose a busy place for their wedding. No one seemed to be paying them much attention.

I loved this entrepreneurial young lady. I suspect there are many folks at Times Square who need a little mending done along with a little encouragement.

I smiled when I saw that even Minnie Mouse needed to take a break for a hot dog.

This handsome character befriended Pat and me for only a dollar.

We returned to the square after dark only to find it more crowded and a bit more crazy. It was great to see, but I believe one visit will be enough to last me for a long, long time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

New York

I am beginning to get excited now. We leave tomorrow morning. We will catch the train and ride to New York City. I'm a small town girl and the big city is an exciting place to visit. I am always overwhelmed by to enormous number of people and the gigantic buildings. I expect I will walk into a pole while I gawk at all the sights. On Saturday we will board a river boat and head up the Hudson river. I have never been in that part of the country. It should be beautiful along the river with the autumn leaves coloring the landscape. We will stop along the way to tour Hyde Park ,West Point and several other spots.

I hope to be able to share some good stories and beautiful pictures.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Kingdom of Childhood

I just finished reading a good story, The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman. It was one of those books that interfered with my life because I wanted to read the story instead of doing anything else. Now that I finished I want to know happened to the characters who filled my last two days. I always hate when the book ends and I don't know what happened to everybody.

This is not a nice story. It is full of people who do things they should not do. Judy is a middle-aged teacher who has an affair with a teenaged boy. The story includes pieces of her sad childhood that make me feel for her, but never quite enough for me to forgive her adult actions. Judy is one of those people I want to hate, but find I can't quite hate.

This is a good story that left me feeling a bit uncomfortable because it sounded like a story that might be true. I don't want this to be a true story.

My reason for wanting to read the book is that the author is friend. She's one of those people I liked instantly. She's a bright and funny lady who always makes me feel good. She is the happily married mother of four young children. She teaches Sunday School. This dark story does not seem like it would come out of my sweet young friend.

It is a great read!