Sunday, January 30, 2011

the big apple is a friendly place

I'm trying to tell the story of our trip, bit by bit, while the memories are still fresh. My mom told me yesterday that when you travel, your memories do stay with you, and you have the benefit of remembering and re-living the experience long after it happens. I will always remember our day with Al Riggi.

Al Riggi is a volunteer for the Big Apple Greeters organization in New York City. He is one of 300 volunteers who show people around their city. We found out about Big Apple Greeters on Trip Advisor in an article on inexpensive things to do in New York. While we were not allowed to pay Al, we made a contribution to the Big Apple Greeter organization. Our experience was priceless.

When we arrived at our hotel, there was a fax for us, confirming the arrangements for our visit, and requesting that we phone Al to confirm. I called him right away, and he was happy to hear from us. He asked us if we were okay to walk, and told us he'd meet us Thursday, in our hotel lobby, at 10am. About 9am Thursday, Al called to say the trains from Queens (where he lives) to Manhattan weren't running. We ate breakfast and went out on an errand, keeping in touch by cell phone. Al took some buses instead, and met up with us in Times Square at 10:30. It was a chilly bright day.

Al took us through the streets and buildings of mid-town Manhattan. We saw the the Roxy Theatre, the Empire State building, the Chrysler building, Macy's, Bryant Park, the New York City Library, The Pan Am Building, Grand Central Station, St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Thomas's Church, Trump Tower, a bunch of amazing stores around 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales and Central Park. He would have liked to have taken us out on the subway and the Brooklyn Bridge, but we had to cut our visit short after 3 1/2 hours, because we had an appointment in the afternoon. Al told us he often takes visitors walking for 6 hours!

Along the way, Al showed us treats and treasures that we would never have encountered, had we simply walked around with a guidebook in hand. He told us the history of many of the buildings, like how the New York City Library stands on the site of the old city reservoir that took several years to demolish before the library was built. He told us how the library works too, with 6 sub-ground levels of stacks in which 30 staff run around, fetching books requested up in the reading rooms. The books are sent up to the correct location by a conveyer/elevator system built when the libary was, about 100 years ago.

Al showed us wonderful Bryant Park, which I will describe in a separate post. Suffice for now to say it has the world's finest public outdoor restroom. He took us into Trump Tower and the churches, where visitors are welcome, but we wouldn't have known that. He introduced us to the amazing underground Apple Store, which is open 24 hours a day, and teeming with people buying the latest computers or just checking their email. He found us free chocolate and introduced us to his granddaughter who works at FAO Schwartz toy store. At FAO Schwartz, Fiona played the giant jump-on piano. We went to Tiffany's Jeweler, where Al introduced me to a salesman who invited me to try on a beautiful sapphire and diamond bracelet, featured in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. The bracelet cost $85 THOUSAND, so I did not buy it.

Central Park is a beautiful place, and was filled with people, even on a weekday afternoon in the middle of winter. Al showed us the zoo, where he visited as a boy to see lions and giraffes. The zoo has fewer animals now but is still a treasure for families. He told us about how the park was designed and built, and how every one of the 30-some bridges has a unique design. We had time only for the northernmost tip of the park, but he showed us the roof line of the Dakota Hotel, over the trees, so named because when it was built, it was "out in the country" as far away to some as Dakota.

As we walked, Al told us about his life. He was born in Manhattan, and played stickball on the streets as a boy. As a teenager, he got a job at Bloomingdales. He was drafted to the army on the same day that America signed the armistice agreement, and served two years in the States as an air force photographer. After serving, he returned to New York. His old boss at Bloomingdales offered him a job in the electronics department, where he stayed for the rest of his working days. Al told us about some of the famous people who visited his department. He once sold 3 small electronic keyboards to the Queen of Spain for her children. He played 2 demo songs for her, and she played a song for him. Al worked part time as a professional photographer. That's how he met his wife. A buddy was sick, and asked Al to fill in for him, photographing a wedding. He was invited to stay and eat, and he met the love of his life at his table. Al told me several times how he has led a life of great good fortune. Now widowed and long retired from working, he volunteers as a Big Apple Greeter and as an ESL teacher, and he delights in his family. We are truly fortunate to have met him.

As our visit wound up, Al took us to the subway station and showed us how to purchase a metro card and use it to get past the turnstile. He showed us how to find the right train to get to our destination in downtown Manhattan, and wished us well. We left Al grateful for a warm, wonderful and friendly visit to a beautiful city, knowing we had surely met our first friend in New York.

question: did you ever spend time with a generous stranger who became a friend?

mompoet - blessed

Saturday, January 29, 2011

prom gown

Fiona is on semester break, and I got the afternoon off work, so we went shopping for a "grad dress" which is what we call the gown you wear to your high school graduation dinner dance in these parts.

We went to brideville in New Westminster. Did you ever notice how bridal stores are in little clusters in various places? If you find one bride store, chances are there are six or seven in the same block. The closest one for us it about 20 minutes from home, on the bank of the Fraser River in downtown New West.

Lots of girls and their moms, and girls and their friends, and one girl and her boyfriend and mom were shopping for dresses. We visited about a half dozen stores, and found and purchased a dress in just a couple of hours. Fiona says I can say whatever I want about the dress, but I don't want to give everything away, especially in a specific way that I will explain soon. So here is what I have to say about moms and daughters and grad dresses.

When a mom shops with her daughter for a grad dress, she wants her daughter to look and feel beautiful at a special celebration event. Invariably, she remembers her own grad night and the gown she wore to it. She tries not to tell the story of her own grad (for the 50th time) nor to describe the gown she wore, nor to reminisce about how she sewed her own gown, or how they all drew their grad dates out of a hat (no lie, the whole class).

She hopes that her daughter's choice won't be too expensive, and if her daughter is sensible, she will assist in this, by discreetly checking price tags before trying on gowns. "Pouffy gowns,' the ones with layers and taffetta ballgown skirts and lots of fake jewels and frou-la-las start at $500. "Slinky gowns," the more form-fitting ones, start at $200. After that, the sky is the limit. The girls trying on dresses at the bride store look approximately like the women who walk the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards. The dresses are that fancy. (They are, however, not quite as expensive as those Golden Globe dresses.) Still, they are that fancy.

Once a number of gowns are tried on, and the right one is found, measurements are taken, colour swatches are consulted and a choice made, then the mom pays a down payment, and we all go away for about 3 months. The gown will be made to order in the correct size and colour. Then the girl and the mom go home. On the way home, the girl text-messages her friends to say that she has found the gown, and to advise that the deadline for orders at one shop is this Sunday. After that, the samples go on sale, and you take what you get. The mom tells the dad that the gown has been bought. The girls' friends start asking, "What does it look like? Did you take a picture?" (the gown store says no pictures please) The mom thinks about how moms describe their daughters' gowns to each other by gesturing towards their own bodies, showing how the bodice and skirt of their daughter's gown go on their own shoulders and hips. The mom tells the girl she will not do this. "I don't want to describe your dress on my body!" The girl says it's ok that moms do this. The mom resolves not to do this, even so.

So, here's what I will say about the dress. It is romaine green at the top and brussel sprout green at the bottom. It has taffetta under one half of the skirt and spandex under the other half. It has a satin belt in a grilled eggplant colour, with embroidered ladybugs with sequins for eyes. The sleeves are long, for modesty. On is a trumpet sleeve, with a real trumpet built in for band students. The other is a fitted sleeve that is hand-painted to resemble tattoos celebrating the school name and year of graduation. The skirt can be converted to a mini, using a carefully concealed zipper. It is biodegradable. It has a turtleneck at the front and a lizardneck at the back. It laces up with a piece of licorice. It comes with matching shoes, which is to say the shoes match each other but not the dress. When I step back and look at it, it makes me think of Newark. It cost $14.99.

question: what did you wear to prom/grad?

mompoet - just zipping it and enjoying the celebration

Monday, January 24, 2011

double double

Wednesday would be our two-show day, we decided. There are matinees and evening shows Wednesday. We got up bright and early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at our hotel. I can't say enough good about our hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Manhattan Times Square North. It was affordable and right in Manhattan a short walk from Times Square and it was really nice. The room was cozy but totally clean and modern with nice furniture and decor, great linens and a splendid view from our 11th floor window out to bustling 8th Avenue below us. The breakfast room was amazing! There was space for about 100 guests, and lots of people came and went from 6am-10am while it was open. There were hot foods (bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns), 2 waffle-makers, cereal, breads and pastries, yogurt, 2 different fruit salads, fresh fruits, oatmeal, granola, hot chocolate, good coffee, juices and a good selection of teas. The staff in the breakfast room kept everything fresh, tidy and stocked-up. The coffee bar stayed open 24 hours a day, along with a gigantic bowl of fresh apples in the lobby, and fresh cookies that appeared there every afternoon. There was a concierge who helped us figure out how to get places, free computers and printers and plenty of front desk staff to help with whatever we needed (to borrow a 3-hole punch, for example). There were free newspapers, fresh flowers in the lobby and outside the elevator on each floor, and kooky little black and white photos accompanying informational signs. We felt safe and comfortable and pampered every day and night we stayed there. It felt like a place where guests are valued and enjoyed.

So, after our morning love-fest with the hotel, we headed out in search of rush tickets. It was a bit complicated, seeing as different theatres sell their discount tickets at different times, and we had 2 shows to pick. It took some strategizing when we didn't find exactly what we wanted at first, and a fair bit of running around (really running, I mean) but after about 2 hours of work we had tickets to two shows.

We saw the matinee performance of Wicked at the gargantuan Gershwin Theatre. I had heard that I "must" see Wicked, and knew it was a very popular show. I guess I thought that it couldn't be as good as all that, but I guess we had better see it to find out what all the fuss is about. Oh my goodness. I am so glad that we saw it. Wicked was, by far, the most grand of all the shows that we saw. Costumes, scenery, company size - everything about it was grand and opulent. But it was better than that. The story was compelling and clever and funny and sad and sweet in turns. The performances were stellar. I was totally captivated and swept away into the world of Oz. I caught myself not breathing a couple of times. It was totally delicious and satisfying and great and definitely worth all the fuss.

We had time for a quick supper before our evening show, so we went to Angelo's pizza for supper. Their brick oven pizza was recommended to us by a friend. We thought it was pretty darn good! We ordered a small, and couldn't finish it.

Our evening show was Memphis. This was the best music of the whole trip. The story is set in the 1950s in Memphis. It's a love story about a radio DJ and a singer. It's about race relations, family, fame and music. The singing and dancing was fantastic. It was funny and moving and fast paced. We wanted more when it was over. The audience jumped out of their seats for a standing ovation, and stayed standing to watch and cheer the on-stage orchestra as they played the closing number. Memphis had not been our plan for the evening, but I am so glad that we saw it. So far, I think if I had to recommend a show I'd say go see Billy Elliot or Memphis. Both have strong, authentic story-telling and amazing music, singing and dancing.

We got back to the hotel about 10:45 and phoned home because it was just before 8pm there. It was hard to explain what a great day we had. What a treat to see two Broadway shows in one day, two such different worlds. I remarked to Fiona that we were experiencing realities completely different from our own. She told me that she is actually an African American coal mining munchkin and also a zombie. What a day.

question: did you ever gorge on shows?

mompoet - always room for more...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It snowed overnight Monday. Tuesday morning we woke to slushy slick streets with freezing rain falling continuously. Luckily we packed lots of warm clothing, good warm waterproof boots and umbrellas. I wish I had packed my rain gear too!

After breakfast we walked over to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to try for rush tickets to The Addams Family. By 10:30 we had our tickets so we set off on an adventure in the yukky mucky weather. We decided it would be a good day to have a look around so we got on one of the New York sightseeing buses - the kind that have an open top in the summer. In the winter they install plexiglass covers so you can still look up at the tall buildings, but you have some shelter and warmth. We took the downtown tour and saw Macy's, the garment district, the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, the Lower Eastside and East Village, the Financial District, Rockefeller Center, Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry.
We mostly stayed on the bus and marveled at the different buildings and businesses and homes and people outside. The tour guides gave us a mix of interesting history and weird trivia. We passed a Bhuddist temple with a bookstore below offering something - we're not quite sure what really. It was good to do this because it gave us an idea of what to come back for on another day when it's not raining ice cubes.
We got off the bus near the World Trade Centre site, and saw ground zero and the re-construction. It's very moving to see how huge the area of destruction really is, and how ordinary shops and buildings cling tightly around the edge. We sat in a coffee shop and wondered what it must have been like for people stopping here that morning. We imagined running up the the street outside, away from the blast. The day before we had spoken to a man in the TKTS lineup whose cousin, a NY firefighter, had died during the rescue effort. It's still immediate and very real here.
We also visited Century 21, a multi-storey discount fashion department store. If you've been to Winners in Canada, imagine 25 X Winners and you'll get the idea. We found a few things to buy, but became overwhelmed by the volume and variety. There are designer items for 1/4 the regular price and also nicer retail lines at super deep discounts. People were dragging rolling baskets around, heaped with coats and dresses and handbags and other things. If I lived here, I think I'd go there a lot.
By the time we got back to the hotel, we were cold and damp, so we warmed up with hot chocolates from the hotel coffee counter, and changed for the evening. We had some sushi for supper. 9th Avenue seems to be a very good place for small, affordable non-franchise restaurants. We were surprised to see no yam roll. I wonder if it's just that restaurant, or if yam roll is not something that people eat here?
After supper we saw The Addams Family. It was hilarious as a musical, with the same grim/cheery humour of the New Yorker cartoons and the TV show that followed them. Just before curtain time we were advised to turn off our cell phones and refrain from taking photos or recordings. We were also told that use of firearms, axes, guillotines, nooses and thumbscrews was not permitted during the performances but strongly encouraged during the intermission. Nathan Lane played Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth played Morticia. The songs were just splendid and dark and intelligent and funny. There was some puppetry and a bit of flying and just generally dark and dangerous and funny fun. I laughed all the way through it.
This morning we decided to go slow. We're going to try to do back-to-back shows today, so we'll go out soon to try for the lottery for matinee Wicked tickets then see if there are any rush tickets for Avenue Q for the evening show. This week is going by quickly!
question: do you ever take thumbscrews to the theatre?
mompoet - oops, forgot to pack mine

first day in New York

Finally found a few minutes to post a couple of photos. These are from the day we arrived.

question: how much can you get to know a place in 5 days?

mompoet - getting

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a strange and wonderful place

Our plane from Dayton to NY was very small - just 48 passengers at full capacity. The flight took a little over an hour. As we descended towards Laguardia airport, I saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, then the tall buildings of Manhattan. It felt totally surreal, like we were watching television through the airplane window.

We grabbed a taxi into the city and found our hotel. It is a wonderful, lovely, friendly, gorgeous and (relatively) inexpensive hotel. It was noon, and our room was not yet ready, so we registered and dropped our bags, then headed out to find show tickets.

We checked first at the New World Stages Theatre for rush tickets to Avenue Q but they were already sold out. It was a bit of an unusual Monday for theatre, being Martin Luther King's birthday, so shows that don't usually run Mondays were running, and probably people who don't go see shows were going to see them. We headed over to the TKTS booth in Times Square. It's a place where you line up for mid-afternoon sales of discount tickets to most of the Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals. We were about 5th in line 90 minutes before it opened. It was very cold there, so we were glad we dressed warmly. Fiona went to find hot chocolate for us while I stood in line. We chatted with the people around us - a young man visiting from New Zealand, a lady from Tampa Florida and a retired teacher who lives in New York. About half an hour before the booth opened they announced what shows they had available. We decided to try for Billy Elliot instead of Avenue Q, which we think we can see later in the week. We got half-price tickets in the 4th row. We were headed to our first Broadway show, on our very first day in New York.

My first impression of Times Square (by day) was sensory overload and wacky wonderment. It feels safe here, with so many people just out reveling in the weirdness and commercialism and mix-up mashup of people and purposes. There are police officers all around, smiling at you when you jaywalk or jump the walk signal, and also guys dressed up in pharaoh headgear to promote the King Tut exhibit, and Elmos from Sesame Street. Multiple Elmos on adjacent street corners. I'm not sure why. There are giant billboards many storeys tall on the sides of buildings flashing electronic messages and images and videos. There are big stores and little stores and vendor carts and people standing on the sidewalk trying to get you to go to tapings of TV shows and other attractions.

Our supper was at a nice Thai restaurant on 9th Avenue. It was delicious and not expensive. We were still pinching ourselves that we were in New York. After supper we visited Times Square at night. There were about 3 times as many people there as in the daytime. We went inside the M&Ms store (3 floors of M&Ms and M&Ms paraphenalia) and the giant Toys R Us with a full size ferris wheel inside the store. It was really cold out by now so we got tea at Starbucks and walked around hugging our cups for extra warmth.

Finally it was time to see the show. Billy Elliot is on at the Imperial Theatre. It's really grand inside, with lots of red velvet and gold leaf and giant crystal chandeliers. Our seats were amazing. The show was even better than we had expected. The 11 year old boy who played Billy is an incredible actor and dancer. The show told the story of the 1980s national coal miner's strike in England, and the story of Billy, a young boy growing up in a doomed town, who discovers his talent and passion for ballet. The two stories were woven together beautifully in song and dance. I liked that most of the story was told in the music and movement. The ensemble was great too. The ballet girls were all very good dancers and good actors, portraying awful dancers in most of the dance school scenes. The adult cast and ensemble members looked like good working class people from the 1980s, but then they danced. It's hard to explain how police officers and coal miners tap dancing can authentically convey a sense of time and place and circumstance, but they do. I cried about 6 times through the show, mostly due to the story, but at least once because I realised, "I am in New York, watching a Broadway show."

When we got back to the hotel it was 11pm, but only 8pm at home, so we called home and rattled out everything that had happened in the last 10 hours. It felt incredible that we could already have done and seen so much. We fell asleep tired and happy and excited about the days ahead.

question: what's more believable to you? a tap-dancing coal miner? or a police officer in a tutu?

mompoet - the luckiest mom in the world

Monday, January 17, 2011

it's monday this must be dayton

Last night we turned in the rental car. I can now say that I have driven an SUV (with summer tires) considerable distances on midwest freeways in the freezing cold and light snow for a few days. Luckily the roads were clear and dry and the GPS worked. Except for one hilarious loop-de-looping misadventure on Saturday evening, I have found our targets neatly and quickly. I'm not sure what happened Saturday. I guess that I am not good at following precise directions in rapid sequence while traveling at high speed. We circled our hotel area on instersecting freeways for about 10 extra minutes going on-ramp/off-ramp/on-ramp/off-ramp. Our dear GPS, nicknamed "Audrey 3," just said "Re-calculating route" every time I missed the correct turn, and she got us in to where we needed to go, eventually.

This morning we shuttled in to the airport from our hotel, and now we wait for the plane to New York. Fiona is looking at Broadway musicals online. I am checking email, facebook chatting and posting this blog. Gotta go. They're calling us to board.

question: what do you recommend in New York?

mompoet - going NOW!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

the traveling pajamas and the sock monkey

Here's a photo of me wearing the famous traveling pajamas while Cameron and I check email in the hotel room. The pajamas are on this trip but will probably not make a public appearance. That will be Cameron's job.

question: what's cozier? flannel PJs or a cuddly sock monkey?

mompoet - Nelson the rat stayed home to keep Andy and alex company

Friday, January 14, 2011

more sock monkey pix

Here's Cameron at a safe place (in case of a tornado), eating lunch at an airport restaurant and in Grandma and Grandpa's car, driving to Seattle.
question: wouldn't you like to get around like Cameron does?
mompoet - stay tuned, tomorrow Cameron and the traveling pajamas appear in the same blog post

on the road with a sock monkey

It's hard to believe how quickly we traveled so far from home. I'm passing a day on a university campus with plans to meet up at day's end. I'm keeping the details of the universities out of my blog, because that's not really my story. I will try to share some of the impressions and experiences of the trip in general. At the moment, it's surreal, all the imagining: will this be the place? what would it be like to visit here? How can it feel so ordinary to be in a strange city at a strange university just sitting here eating a salad, watching students walk by, posting my blog?

Fiona and I have agreed that Cameron the sock monkey will be our traveling companion. Cameron was crafted by Carol, one of the amazing craft-making members at the seniors' recreation centre where I work. Carol estimates she has made 50 sock monkeys by now. Cameron is mine. My plan is to introduce Cameron to people as we go, ask if I can take a photograph and post it to my blog. In New York, we're going to find out if anyone will believe that the heart on Cameron's sweater is representative of the Canadian flag, and that on February 1, 2011, Canada will change its flag from a maple leaf to a heart.

Fiona has taken some of the photos, and I haven't had time to switch them from her sd card into my computer, so these are just a few of the photos. We introduced the monkey to our seatmate on the plane from Seattle to Denver, a nice young man, recently graduated from Michigan State University. That's Matt in the photo, holding Cameron on the plane. Cameron is wishing Matt a good visit with his Mom and Dad who live near Boulder, and also wishing him success in his career in animation for computer games.

Cameron also helped Fiona practise her monologues, and sat with me for a while, to reassure me that driving a rental car around the midwest in January wouldn't really be all that bad. So far, he's been right.

We are have a good time here, managing to get where we need to go and do what we need to do. First round of auditions will be finished Sunday afternoon, after which we'll fly to New York for a few days of fun before one more audition then home.
question: would you like to be photographed with Cameron?

mompoet - taking it all in and sending some of it back out

Thursday, January 13, 2011

en route

We are on our way today, flying out of Seattle airport. This is the first time I have traveled with a portable computer, so instead of reading a book or magazine while we wait for our plane, I am reading email, checking facebook, and posting my blog.

We spent the night in an airport hotel after eating supper with my parents, who kindly drove us to Seattle for the start of this trip. We fly today to Detroit. The next 3 or 4 days will be the most challenging for me, because I'll be driving around in a rental car, finding places in cities I have never visited - or at least never visited as the responsible adult in charge of getting places. I brought the GPS with me, and I've mapquested our city-to-city trips. I'm sure we'll be okay, although we might take one or two of what Fiona has always called "Mommy's Scenic Route."

Please wish/visualise/say a prayer for our safe journey.

question: where have you traveled lately? did you do anything new? go anywhere strange?

mompoet - nervously optimistic

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

up and away

In a few minutes Fiona and I will hop in the car with my parents, who will drive us to Seattle. Tomorrow, Fiona and I will fly away on a trip to visit universities and to spend a few days in New York City. NEW YORK CITY! NEW YORK CITY!

We have never been to New York City. We are excited.

I'll try to blog a bit along the way. Stay tuned.

question: have you ever been to NEW YORK CITY?

mompoet - did I mention? I'm going

Sunday, January 09, 2011

sour is my favourite

When Cathy asked me what kind of drink I would like at my birthday celebration, I did not hesitate before telling her I wanted it to be sour. I think I said "tangy," actually, and later she checked and clarified. Whatever I said, I know that sour is my favourite. The drink that she concocted was both tangy and sour - sour enough to please me and also be fine for those who are not as appreciative of the pucker as I am.

These potato chips fall into the same category. They have a mustardy edge that is balanced by a bit of sweetness. I love them just as much as I love salt and vinegar chips. They are kind of a more grown up version of that old favourite. I have to admit that while pregnant I was addicted to salt and vinegar chips. I ate lots of healthy foods too, but I simply could not get enough sour. I also ate tons of grapefruit.

I like acidy apples, puckery grapefruit, vinaigrette salad dressing, sour candies and lemon and lime juice for sauces and seasoning. I love hard apple cider with fresh lime wedges. When I pour an ice tea, I like to rub a lemon all around the rim of the glass for an extra little hit of sour with each sip.

question: do you like sweet? sour? salty? creamy? what's your favourite flavour element?

mompoet - pucker up baby!

my birthday party at Cathy's house

When Cathy moved with her family to Newport last year, she told us that she would celebrate each of our birthday's at her place, AND invent a signature cocktail for each of us. When my birthday rolled around in late November, everyone was busy with the Christmas rush, so we gladly postponed until after Christmas. On Friday, we gathered for my birthday.

What a fun evening! Cathy responded to my request for something "green and tangy" with a green apple sourpuss martini, garnished with a gummi worm. Everyone bought great yummy snacks, and Cathy baked a delicious Kentucky gingerbread cake, which she served with warm caramel sauce and ice cream. The Ladeez gave me great cards and sweet gifities, and we had a generally lovely evening. I introduced everyone to Cameron, my sock monkey, who was welcomed to our circle like an old friend.

I am blessed to have such wonderful women friends and such great times.

question: how long was your longest birthday?

mompoet - not sure if we're celebrating late for 49 or early for 50 (or both!)