Holiday Outings

When I found out that my boyfriend had never been to Portland, Maine, I booked a trip straight away. Portland is one of my favorite cities: good beer, good food, good shopping.

Needless to say, we had a great time. And lucky for me, I was also able to check off a birthday list item. I finally made it to the Victoria Mansion.

Victoria Mansion
Victoria Mansion











It’s closed for much of the winter/spring, but it opens for about a month at Christmastime, with its rooms decorated for Christmas by local businesses and organizations.

It was a mob scene of adult females with their young daughters/nieces/granddaughters in tow on the morning that we visited, but we made it through. The rooms were just gorgeous. The big attraction was this tree:

Victoria Mansion









Awe-inducing, no?

And a week later, I embarked on my next holiday outing. Solve this equation:

Burlesque + The Nutcracker = ?

The Slutcracker!

This was the eighth season of the Slutcracker. I was expecting a night of raunchiness with “dancers” gallavanting around in little to no clothing. I was not expecting a night of classical ballet with DANCERS performing in little to no clothing.

Yes, many of the dancers were professionally trained. The choreography was excellent as were the costumes (although there wasn’t much to a lot of them). I also appreciated the presence of different body types and ethnicities onstage. It was a fun night out with friends.

Here it is, New Year’s Eve already. I wish you all the best for 2016…the best year yet!

A Post-It Memorial

A neighborhood shop owner died a couple of weeks ago. But she was no ordinary shop owner: she had owned Irving’s Toy and Card Shop for 76 years. Ethel Weiss was minding the store up until the very end of her 101-year-long life.

Although I’ve walked past her shop every day for the past six years, I’ve only stopped in a handful of times, to buy stickers. Walking into her shop was like walking into a time warp. Her sticker collection was circa 1980, which is why I loved it. All of the cards were in plastic sleeves and were probably decades old. The biggest seller was the candy she sold in the front of the store.

Whenever I happened to walk by her shop on a weekend afternoon, Ethel would be sitting in a chair in the front of the store, patiently waiting for the next customer to enter. She was a constant in the neighborhood.

A day or so after she died, someone put Post-It notes and pens on the ledge next to her shop. And people started leaving notes.

It was so touching to see the memorial grow.










It rained the other day and someone took down all of the Post-Its. After the rain cleared, more Post-Its appeared. People are still thanking her and honoring her, weeks after her passing.

Seventy-six years in business. Generations of the same families knew Ethel. How many hundreds of thousands of people popped into her shop over the years?

I’ve thought about how lucky this neighborhood has been to have a neighborhood toy shop. Ethel loved children and would encourage them to practice arithmetic by having them count out their change. She also imparted her wisdom in poster form, selling a poster she created with the title “Thoughts for a Happier Life.”

Ethel is a legend and will be missed by many. If we all touch a minuscule fraction of the lives that Ethel has touched, we should consider ourselves lucky.










Good Genes

My first birthday list item of the new year is checked off. Last weekend, a friend and I saw Deepak Chopra give a lecture on his new book with Rudolph Tanzi, Super Genes.

At times, I felt as if we were attending a college biology lecture, and I really wish I had taken notes. Deepak said so many fascinating things!

The main premise of the new book is that we do not necessarily have “good or bad” genes. Only 5% of our genetic makeup is set in stone, which means that we can change 95% of our genes through “what we think and do.”

This information was life changing for me. Having done a good amount of genealogical research over the past few years, I was convinced that I had “bad genes.” Well, I may have some bad genes, but I apparently have the power to change some outcomes.

One tidbit I do remember is that it’s been proven that genes have memory. How amazing is that?? A study was done during which mice were shocked after smelling a certain food. For the next SEVEN generations, mice freaked when they smelled the same smell (they were not shocked).

I’ve always thought that my love for travel “is in my genes,” because I didn’t travel much while growing up. Maybe there is some truth to that after all! My maternal great-grandparents globe-trotted quite a bit at the turn of the 20th century.

I could have listened to Deepak for hours. He ended the lecture with a meditation, and it was simply thrilling to meditate with 1,200 other people.

If you ever have the opportunity to see Deepak speak, do not miss it!

Another Year, Another List

Since I’ve plunged feetfirst into a new decade, I decided that I should give myself more time to complete my birthday list.

So the clock starts ticking TODAY. I’m giving myself six months to complete 41 items.

This is all I know so far:

I’m attending a lecture by Deepak Chopra in a few days.

I’m attending a burlesque version of the Nutcracker in a few weeks.

I’m attending a world music festival next month.

I am finishing the AFI’s top 100 movie list! I have around 10 left.

Have any suggestions for me?